The main doors of the library gently swung closed as Chase and company passed through. Ahead, a small but wide corridor led to another set of double doors and situated behind those, the main reception area of the library. Once through the doors they had entered another world, a world full of unusual but familiar scents, musty smells coming from stacks of old books, the smell of furniture polish – beeswax in particular, plus the addition of modern air conditioning which muted the odours the library and its contents naturally produced. Ahead and to the right stood the reception desk, and behind that a female librarian stood methodically sifting through a box of index cards. To their left began the countless rows of book shelves which seemed to go on forever; it wrapped itself around behind the reception desk until it reached the back wall. In the middle of the room stood reading tables, each with chairs, and several people occupied this space totally engrossed in whatever they were studying. At the back of the reception area, and adjacent to the first book shelf, there were stairs leading up to the second floor, and a sign at the bottom told visitors of the specialist sections and computer banks allocated there. The atmosphere in the library, as the three of them quite rightly expected, was sombre and quiet. They walked up to the desk and when the librarian noticed them, stopped what she was doing and gave them a welcoming smile.
“Hello,” she said, in a well practised low volume.
Ingrid stood front and centre; Chase and Celine respectfully made way.
“Hello,” returned Ingrid, matching the librarian’s volume. “We’re doing some local historic research regarding Granley Lodge and its inhabitants old and new. Do you have a database of press archives?”
“Yes we do,” said the librarian, nodding. She reached for a passcard and handed it to Ingrid. “This card will allow you access to the system. The computers are all upstairs and can be used on a first come, first serve, basis.”
“Thank you. Also. . .do you have any books, factual or mythical about the lodge?”
“You mean the legend of the spectre, for example,” the librarian asked, cocking an eyebrow coupled with a wry smile.
“Yes, exactly!” Confirmed Ingrid.
The librarian moved sideways and tapped some keys on her computer. She studied the screen for moment then returned to Ingrid.
“For factual history – row H, downstairs. For popular myths and legends – row M, upstairs in the specialist section.”
“Wonderful. Thank you very much.”
“Do you intend to take out a book today,” enquired the librarian.
Ingrid turned around and looked at Chase.
“Possibly,” he said.
“Are any of you members,” she asked politely.
“Yes, I am,” said Ingrid. She reached inside her denim jacket and produced a small card wallet from which she pulled out her members card and showed it to the librarian.
“That’s fine. I only asked in case you were unaware of the conditions you agree to undertake when removing a book from the library, but as you’re already a member I’m sure you know.”
“Yes I do,” confirmed Ingrid. “Oh, and do you have print facilities for the archives?”
“Yes we do. There is a charge of twenty-pence per copy to cover paper costs.”
Where have I heard that one before, Chase thought, smiling to himself.
“One last thing. Are all the press archives verbatim?”
“To the best of my knowledge I would have to say yes,” replied the librarian, confidently.
“Ok, thanks. Sorry to take up so much of your time,” said Ingrid, apologetically.
“Not at all. That’s why I’m here. Happy hunting!”
She gave them all a warm smile and returned to sorting her index cards.
They moved away from the reception area for a group conflab.
“Right! How do we want to do this,” Ingrid asked, as quietly as she could. “There’s three of us, and three areas to explore. Split up?”
“That would certainly expedite matters,” agreed Celine. “I don’t mind exploring the history section, you never know, I may find something interesting. And I imagine that the one thing to find would be the date that the lodge was built. Right?”
“And who built it,” added Chase. “Ingrid. You’ve got the pass, so why don’t you begin with that. It’s obvious that we’re not going to be able read an entire book in so short a space of time, so anything we find with more information than we can absorb we can take with us. But I’ll start in the mythology section anyway. Sound good?”
The two women whispered their approval and then the three of them headed to their chosen targets. Celine wandered off to find row H, while Chase and Ingrid climbed the stairs to the upper floor. Of the four computers available, three of them were in use. Ingrid quickly walked over to it before it got taken and plonked herself down on the chair and logged in. Chase meanwhile looked around for row M; he scanned the room and found it about half way down an aisle, he walked down to it and began browsing the book titles.
Downstairs, Celine had not dithered about. She had already found a book of interest and was currently sitting at one of many reading tables studying the chapter titles. The book, ‘Heritage Buildings in Colwyn Bay,’ had a comprehensive guide to all the ‘A’ listed buildings in the area, Granley Lodge being one of them. She flicked through the pages until she came to the relevant chapter and began ardently reading.
Ingrid felt like she had the creme de la creme of tasks to do, and after logging in she immediately searched the local newspaper archive from 1912, and more specifically, events which occurred around Halloween time of that year. It took a few moments for the system to gather all the data she asked for, but when the findings began to appear on screen from various newspapers, and after studying them for a moment, her eyes widened and almost popped out of her head through shock. Her hand shot up and instinctively covered up her agape mouth. She clicked on the first story and became captivated in a reported tale from a time period of days gone by.
Chase had come across several books which dealt with the occult, and most of them boasted a wide spectrum of categories ranging from ghosts, goblins, ghouls, and even devil worship, but each were non specific. There was an abundance of titles to sift through and as he came to about half way down the rack a title suddenly jumped out at him, he slid the book from the shelf and held it out in front of him, ‘The Spectre of Granley Lodge.’ The heading title was emblazoned over a black cover in gold letters, and underneath that the author’s name: Penny Tenys. He frowned. Never heard of her before, he thought. He opened the book to find the publishing date: 1968. The copy he had was a 1992 reprint. He turned the page, found the preface, and read. . .
All my life for as long as I can remember, I have held an insatiable fascination for the occult, paganism, and the supernatural. I was a four year under graduate at Cambridge University where I studied folk lore and paganism. I graduated in 1960 and became an investigative journalist recording and committing my studies in book form. The book you now hold in your hands has been the result of two years extensive research surrounding the reported sightings of a ghostly spectre seen at specific times at Granley Lodge, a sixteenth century mansion house in Colwyn Bay. My initial interest came from the fact that I grew up in Colwyn Bay and knew the area well, but as my investigations continued I realised that I had stumbled across something far more special than I first thought and was thus, not easily defined or explained. The findings recorded in this book are factual and not fictional, and I make no claim whatsoever that the spectre exists or that I have ever seen it. My aim was always to report my findings so you, the reader, could walk the same paths I traversed on my investigative journey.
Penny Tenys. Colwyn Bay. 1968. . .
Chase raised his eyebrows after reading – what he had to admit to himself was, an impressive introduction. He looked around and noticed a bench seat at the back wall located under the window inbetween the book shelves. He made his way over and sat placing the book down next to him. He fished around in his jacket pocket and pulled out his phone then typed in the unknown name. And there she was: Penny Tenys, smiling at the camera in all her youthful splendour. He scrolled down the page and read a short history which matched what he had just learned. The disappointing thing was that she died in 2009 after a long battle with an illness. A conversation with her would have been most enlightening, he thought to himself. He put his phone away then picked up the book again, and after flicking through its pages decided to take it with him for later reading. He went back to the shelf where he had found the book and checked to see if there was anything else of interest, but even if there was he was sure that the book he currently had was the only one he needed. There was nothing else that caught his eye so decided to check in on Ingrid and Celine to see what they had uncovered.
When he came out from the aisle and turned the corner he saw Ingrid with a totally engrossed look on her face, she was staring with such intensity at the computer screen that he felt if she looked any harder she would burn a hole through it. She suddenly looked up and when she spotted him her face exploded with a look of excitement he didn’t know she could make. She beckoned him with a hand flapping at a hundred miles an hour; she was clearly beside herself over something she had discovered.
“Henry, Henry, Henry!” She exclaimed in a whispered shout, if that was at all possible.
Chase reached her side and leaned on the table with one hand peering at the screen.
“You seem excited. What have you found?”
“Lots!” She exclaimed again. “These stories are freaking amazing, you simply have to read them.”
“Yes I will. But first I’m just going to check on my aunt. When she’s done we’ll both come back. Here – take care of this book while I’m gone.”
“Ok. . .but hurry up.”
Chase laughed softly, to see Ingrid in a state of hyper excitement amused him no end. He left the book on the desk and went downstairs to find Celine. At the foot of the stairs he looked around and saw her sitting at a reading table, she had removed her coat and had obviously found a book which held her interest. He walked up to her and grabbed an empty chair then sat next to her, she didn’t notice him.
“Good book,” he asked, softly.
“Oh Henry!” She said, looking up from the book with a start. “I didn’t see you. Have I been here long?”
“No. Not at all. . .time doesn’t exist in a library. What are you reading.”
Celine held a hand over the page she had reached then turned the book over to show him the title.
“Heritage Buildings in Colwyn Bay,” read Chase, quoting the title. “Any good?”
“Yes. It’s very informative as you can well imagine,” said Celine, leaning in closer to him and lowering her voice. “Every building of any importance is in here, and ours of course. In fact, I finished the chapter about Granley Lodge a short while ago, but got so engrossed I quite forgot myself and lost track of time.”
“The power of books, eh. Have we learned anything new,” he asked.
“Indeed we have my dear,” she replied in a mysterious tone.
“Go on,” he encouraged.
“All the things relating to the Lodge we got from that story Ingrid found on the web are mostly true, but there are differences when you know the real facts.”
“Oh really,” said Chase, raising his eyebrows in curiosity. “And they are?”
“Well. . .the Lodge was indeed designed and built by Arlington Henderson in fifthteen-twelve, but it wasn’t sold on completion to our ancestors. The truth is that the build itself was financed by two people and so already paid for. Can you guess who they were?”
The changing expression on Chase’s face told Celine that he understood what she meant.
“Hubert and Beatrice Chase?”
“Exactly,” confirmed Celine. “Although this book isn’t concerned with who paid what or how much, it’s not too much a stretch of the imagination to think that Beatrice put up quite a considerable amount, and when the Lodge was claimed by Hubert it caused a family feud, a feud which ultimately was never resolved which then led to Beatrice committing murder to get – what in her mind, was justice. Our family, it would seem my dear, have skeletons in their cupboards.”
She studied her nephew as he absorbed what he had just been told.
“You know what,” said Chase, slowly nodding his head in thought. “That one piece of information makes perfect sense when you consider that women, in those times, always deferred to the authority of men who held the power of decision. Wow! What a revelation.”
“It’s only a theory, dear. But it’s a good fit.”
“Damn right,” he agreed. “It might even be true that Beatrice paid the lion’s share.”
Celine nodded her agreement.
“And then there’s the question of fees,” she added. “Who footed the architect’s bill? Was it joint or singular. . .wouldn’t we like to know the answer to that!”
“I guess we’ll never know,” he replied, shaking his head. “Isn’t it amazing though to think that one single piece of information can say so much.”
“But never quite enough,” said Celine, placing her hand on his arm.
“Is there anything else worth noting?”
“No, not really, dear. The book only covers historical facts and doesn’t elaborate on the intricate relationships of those involved – only to mention who built what and where and for whom, and gives mention as to who financed the structure. Should we take it with us?”
“I don’t think that’s necessary. The one vital piece of info we got from it carries enough weight in itself to fill an entire volume of speculation.”
“How have you and Ingrid been getting on,” Celine asked.
“I found a book which we will take with us, I’ve left it upstairs with Ingrid. It deals solely with the legend of the spectre. It should prove an interesting read.”
“Oh! That sounds good, dear. And Ingrid?”
Chase smiled over the memory.
“Ingrid is all excited and impatiently waiting for us to join her. Apparently, she’s found a lot of stuff that she’s eager for us to see.”
“Right. I’ll just put this book back and then we can go.”
Celine went back to row H and returned the book to its rightful place then rejoined Chase. She grabbed her coat and together they headed up the stairs to see Ingrid. There was now a small pile of paper on the desk; Ingrid had been busy making copies of all the stories found on the database. She heard soft footsteps behind her and turned round to see Chase and Celine walking towards her.
“There you are. . .at last!”
“Sorry dear,” apologised Celine. “One could spend a whole day in here and not be aware of it.”
Ingrid made a funny face and went cross-eyed.
“Don’t I know it,” she agreed, indicating with a finger to the stack of paper next to her.
“So what have we got,” asked Chase, picking up a page from the paper stack and studying it.
Ingrid stood up and invited them to sit and take her place. She grabbed a spare chair and placed it next to the desk. Chase and Celine obediently sat down like children given an instruction by a school teacher.
“Right!” Said Ingrid, authoratively. “Back in nineteen-twelve there were four local newspapers that covered stories in and around the Colwyn Bay area. The heavy weight of the period was the Colwyn Bay Times, they got into places the other three could only dream about, meaning, it got access to interview people while the others struggled to get the same preferential treatment. Anyway. Having said that, all four newspapers covered a story that unfolded on. . .you guessed it – thirty-first of October, Halloween time, nineteen-twelve, up at Granley Lodge.”
She leaned over the desk and operated the mouse.
“This is the front page story the Times circulated the next day, the other three are all similar in content but not quite as comprehensive. I have made copies of them all for comparison and reference.”
She clicked on a link and the news item appeared on screen, Ingrid stepped back and allowed them to read it in peace.
MYSTERIOUS DEATHS AT GRANLEY LODGE
At 11.45 last night the police were called to investigate a failed burglary attempt at Granley Lodge, a huge mansion house in Colwyn Bay. On arrival they discovered the dead bodies of two men who had both died under mysterious circumstances. No mark or sign of physical trauma was found on either body to confirm how they died, but the faces of the two men were twisted and contorted in a look of terror. The bodies, both found on the floor of the downstairs reception area, were eventually removed by the attending police doctor and transported to the coroner where a post-mortem should reveal more about how they died.
In a statement, Police Inspector Hatch, who attended the scene said: “We are currently in the process of taking statements from both Mr. and Mrs. Chase to get a clearer picture of exactly what happened at the Lodge, but It would seem that the alarm was raised after Mr. Albert Chase, owner of the Lodge, heard noises coming from downstairs while he sat in bed reading. His wife, Mrs. Rosalyn Chase called the local police while Mr. Chase made his way downstairs to investigate the noises. He was then accosted by two men both dressed in dark clothing and carrying bags which we later discovered had torches and tools in them, tools typically used by burglars to break and enter a residence with the intention to steal and remove valuable property. They had gained entry by use of a crowbar on a loose window. Mr. Chase claims to have seen a fourth person who he says killed the two men who had attacked him in the dark, and after that the person disappeared to somewhere unknown. No evidence was found of this fourth person but we are conducting a search of the surrounding area in the hope we will discover who it is. We are, and will continue our investigations until such a time that we find new evidence which will assist us further with our enquiries.”
At present both Mr. and Mrs. Chase are being detained at Colwyn Bay police Station while they submit their respective statements. At the Lodge, head Butler, Vernon Platt suggests that, because of the Halloween open event held all day yesterday at Granley Lodge, the building could have been visited by the two, or three men in view of ‘casing up the joint’ for their failed burglary attempt later on that night. When asked about the mysterious fourth person, Mr. Platt declined to comment saying that it was a matter for the police and not servants to speculate on.
It has to be said that, Granley Lodge has long been regarded as being haunted by a ghostly spectre, a spirit of an ancestor reportedly murdered in the 16th Century. So is the identity of the fourth person closer to home than at first thought? The staff at the Lodge all declined to comment when asked this very question, but other local folk all give credence to the spectre being real and not make believe. True or not, it can’t be denied that Granley Lodge has had a checkered past which itself gave birth to the legend in the first place. In reality we all know that people die for all sorts of reasons, but for two people to die in the same place, at the same time, with identical expressions of horror etched across their faces, leaves me thinking that something happened up at Granley Lodge which is not easily explained in the physical world. Two bodies, two deaths, no signs of trauma on either of them, yet they lay dead untouched by human hands.
Report by Carl Ferguson: The Colwyn Bay Times.
Chase slowly leaned back in his chair still staring at the screen as if some new piece of information was about to pop up and add something more spectacular than what he just read. He looked across at Celine, she had obviously just finished reading the press story, too. They both sat in silence digesting the reported tale until Chase found some words bubbling up inside him.
“How come? . .Why is it I’ve never heard of this before,” said Celine, looking totally bewildered by it all.
“That’s such a good question,” came Ingrid’s voice from behind her. She gently placed her hands on Celine’s shoulders.
“I can think of several reasons why,” said Chase, letting out a breath. “Chief among them would be to keep it contained by silence, why fuel the legend anymore than what it already had been at that time. So in an attempt to underplay the whole thing, Albert probably never spoke of it again. . .to anyone.”
“There’s more, too,” said Ingrid. “There was a follow-up story two days later by the same newspaper. I have all of it printed out but do you can read it if you want. . .or I can tell you instead.”
“Just tell us the short version, dear,” said Celine.
Ingrid walked round to face her companions.
“Ok,” began Ingrid. “They held Albert and Rosalyn for the customary twenty-four hours while they gave their statements and answered more questions – they were both suspects of course. There was no evidence whatsoever that suggested Albert or Rosalyn had anything to do with the two deaths, and they couldn’t realistically be charged with anything either, so the police had no other choice but to let them go. Then the coroner’s report came back and he declared death by cardiac arrest from misadventure for both men. That was the official verdict and any suspicion which fell on Albert and Rosalyn then evaporated. The mysterious fourth person was never found. The Times newspaper’s reporter, Carl Ferguson – the man whose report you just read, set up a meeting with Albert at the Lodge where he interviewed him about the events at Halloween. . .you know, a chance for him to tell it in his own words. In the interview Albert held to his original statement that a fourth person was present at the time of the deaths. He added that the person wasn’t there to begin with – at least he didn’t see anyone else, but as the two burglars attacked him after being caught in the act, this fourth person appeared out of nowhere and seemed to have a soft glowing light about him, and in an instant the two burglars fell to the floor, stone dead! Afterwards the figure had vanished as if it was never there. You have to remember, too, that the whole place was in total darkness so vision wasn’t very good at all, but Albert swore that everything he told the police, and later on to the interviewing reporter, was true and not fabricated. And when Rosalyn had finished calling the police on the phone, she came out from the bedroom and turned the landing light on and saw Albert standing next to two bodies sprawled out on the floor. The reporter asked Albert if he believed in the legend and if he thought that it was the spectre he saw and, if was that which had frightened the burglars to death. The only comment Albert gave about that was: ‘never seen it but there’s no smoke without fire.’ He did volunteer something else too. He said, during the week leading up to the Halloween garden party at the Lodge, he saw a stranger roaming the grounds – never near but always just out of reach, and every time he, or someone else went over to confront the stranger it would retreat behind the trees. When whoever it was had arrived at the spot the stranger was nowhere to be seen. Albert thought it might have been one of the burglars doing a preamble but he couldn’t swear to it . . .and that’s it in a nut shell.”
“It’s a lot to take in,” said Celine. “That last part really hits home with me. It almost describes the exact same thing I experienced in the garden.”
“Yes. We need time to absorb all this before getting carried away by it,” said Chase.
“Well I think it’s been a most fascinating and fruitful afternoon,” said Ingrid, with enthusiasm. “Sadly though, I need to get ready for work. It’s nearly three-thirty.”
“Is it really? Doesn’t time fly when you’re having fun.” Chase checked his own watch. “Right we better get you back to your car.”
Ingrid logged off and gathered up all the prints, Chase picked up the book, and when Celine was ready they went downstairs to reception. Chase paid for the prints then folded and tucked them inside his pocket with the others from the town hall. Ingrid had the book processed in her name, she returned the passcard to the librarian, then the three of them left the building. The afternoon traffic was light and soon enough they pulled into the car park of the village. Ingrid thanked Chase and Celine then dashed off to get home and prepare herself for work. There was much to discuss about what they all learned during the day, but Celine was eager to return to the Lodge. They both agreed to once again meet up in Janice’s coffee shop the next day. Celine hugged her nephew goodbye and climbed into her run-around and drove home. On his drive back to the hotel Chase had a million thoughts all competing for attention in his mind. The plot had definitely thickened.
disclaimer: any similarities in names to persons living or dead is purely coincidental and are fictitious characters invented by the author.