lunes, 7 de diciembre de 2015

Stories for the Eve of All Saints.

   It's dedicated to my English speaking acquaintances. Many thanks to Beatriz from Cork for encouraging me to translate into English and her help. Many thanks too, to Graeme Clark for his patience and his help. I hope you like it. To see the pictures bigger click on them.


I like to take pictures in factories and abandoned houses. Often when I arrive at some of them I get shivers down my spine and arms. Susan, who is fond of paranormal phenomena, says that it's because I note the presences of the spiritual world. Joseph however has his own scientific theories which seem to be right. The fact is that I believe what I see, but they say: "Believe only half of what you see and nothing that you are told."
Although John had broken knee ligaments and could not go for walks in the mountains, 12th October was a good date to spend the day in a village not far from where I live. At first we thought that we would spend the day in a picnic area, but John insisted that he was able to walk, only the steep climb down proved a little difficult for him.
We visited the old town and treated ourselves to the sandwiches that we had brought for lunch under the shade of the pine trees seated in a park. After a pleasant stroll through the narrow streets of the old Jewish quarter we decided to spend the afternoon at the river where there is an area with clean and very cold water where you can swim in summer.
The sun warmed the bottom of the ravine greatly. I was the first to enter into the water, barefoot  and with trousers rolled up.
John said, “You’ll see that you'll end up in the river.  You’ll slip and we’ll laugh”, while getting out his mobile phone to record my rear end hitting the water. My son and my daughter went in behind me.

In the end, my daughter slipped and got all wet while my wife grumbled enough. -You only have to blame yourself! Now, you are even worse than them!
My daughter took off her wet clothes. Using my tracksuit jacket I made a skirt and with the tracksuit jacket belonging to my friend's daughter we covered her upper body. When you are eight years old, you have to be covered up, it's no big deal.

After finding our good spirits again, we went for a walk along the river on a path that led to the village. Suddenly, among pines an old house appeared. Nobody noticed because they were distracted chatting.
-We could go back there and have the tea in the park”, said Beatriz, John’s wife, said.
 “Go and have tea, then.  I am not hungry. I'll take a look at an old house that I thought of seeing later”.
”Where?” asked my wife.
”Now we are near it, and we can’t even see the pines that are behind this steep decline. Go along then, and I'll check it out to see if I can go another day to take pictures.
I said good-bye to the group and with my backpack I headed towards the village in search of the pine trees and the house, not knowing if it was in use or abandoned.
When I reached the top, the house rose majestically in the middle of the pine forest. I went over to a couple hiking with their two children, and greeted them.
”Good Evening”, I said. - They answered while I was changing my direction towards the house. The first thing I saw made me freeze for a fraction of a second. Iron fence rods were stuck into the ground, tied with a ribbon to each of them by paper tape preventing the entry. A pink garland like at a birthday party for a girl to bar the way? How odd, I thought. It seems that the intention to lead the visitor to the back yard door. The tape ended at a rusty rod.

Why didn't I bring the camera hanging around my neck just like Karen? I asked myself. Now I would be able to take good pictures. From today on I’ll take my camera with me even to go to have a leak. I put my hand in my pocket and took out my mobile phone. Unfortunately, The battery was dying. Charged this morning and now it’s useless. Suddenly a shiver travelled down my spine. My hair stood on end, and I had got goose bumps.  The house seemed to call to me with the dreamy voice of a young girl.
"Dayyyvidddd, Dayyyviddd ... ... Do not remain at the door… Come in... The party is about to start. If you come in, you will be here until eternity."
I shook my head from one side and to the other. I walked a couple of steps into the yard where I raised my head thinking about the damaged walls. I quickly left the yard and walked around the house.

The open upstairs windows looked at me with a darkness that emanated from the inside. I lifted my head with suspicion in case I should see something inside that I did not like. Joseph was right. Once in an abandoned house I had had a mishap with a dog that made me run out. Then I saw a hand grab a gate and a dark-skinned face leaning against the inside. When it realized he had been seen it withdrew. If it had been a prey dog that had pursued me ... 
Joseph says: Some houses have traits that remind me of an experience I had previously; smells, something that reminded me of the bad experience and subsequently feeling chills, recalling my fright, unconsciously.

I reached the front. An impressive stairway with two handrails that gave access to the first floor. The voice of a man of about sixty years of age seemed to come floating from the façade.
"Who dares disturb the peace of my home? Out of here. Here you have no business."
I climbed the stairs with some trepidation. My Goodness! It was in ruins. What if the stairs caved in?  Hell! - If I fall, I’ll get up again. I have become such a coward." I climbed the stairs and I looked around.

The roof had collapsed into pieces and part of the first floor, too. I raised my head and I saw the name of the house. "The Dawn". "A strange name for a house that I had found in the evening. I went down the stairs and I kept turning around. Inside there were cardboard boxes and some furniture from the late sixties, not in good condition. Another shiver gave me goose bumps. So, I decided to leave to tell my family and friends what I had seen. Solitude and imagination make fear appear like a bolted horse. I was too cowardly or too cautious to enter that house on my own.

Two days later I phoned a well-known amateur photographer.
”Nick. How are you?”
”Well, and have you any news?”
"No nothing, as usual. What can you tell me about a house called The Dawn?”
He told me that it was a stately home that belonged to one of the most important people of the village. His grandfather went every year to kill a pig for the owners. He had some old photos with young gentlemen at the door and all. It would have been a nice country hotel. Although in the eighties it had not become that was not yet. During those years, the house belonged to a construction company. He told me that the problem was thought be that the repairs of these old run-down houses cost a fortune to fix, plus paying a lot of taxes. His grandfather had told them stories of paranormal phenomena, stories to stop children from sleeping. Consequently, it had a well-documented black history. In the mid-eighties a seventeen year old girl had disappeared. The police, her parents and some friends of the family searched for her. In the end, she was found murdered inside the house. He said he could send me a link with news from the newspaper of that time if I wanted.
I said, ”No, it isn't necessary.  Thanks for the information. Let’s see. Could you come with me this Sunday to take photos in the house The Dawn and spent the morning there?”
”Impossible”. - Hector said.
 “I know you have a good time taking pictures of beautiful models in boudoir, but if you cannot come this week, we could go the next?”
”No. It’s impossible. The Dawn House was demolished by the owners shortly after the murder. The house was reduced to rubble, and then they removed the rubble. Today is just a plot surrounded by a pine forest. All you can see are the remains of some floor tiles”.
I remained silent, while another shiver ran down my spine.

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                                                  Francisco Javier Garrido Martínez es autor de diversas novelas, aunque sólo ha publi...