Friday, June 9, 2017

Annie Walters Presents Barry's Lodge: A Haunting - Come, Stay the Night...

Her fingernails dug deep inside the palms as she waited. She could make out someone moving behind the lit windows and felt immediately grateful that she was at least well hidden. Hearing a fluttering sound above, she looked upwards and saw a flurry of at least a thousand bats swirling around the tree top. Something prickled her neck and she swirled around the spot. There was nothing! The flapping sound of the bats grew louder as if they were becoming restless. Her heart began to race as her eyes scanned the van in front. Where is he? She looked upwards once again but the bats were nowhere to be seen. “You’re not welcome here!” A cold sharp voice called out from behind her and a faint scream escaped her lungs. 
She flopped backwards and spun around at the same time. Her left foot stuck on a stone, and she fell down on the damp earth. Scrambling to her feet and trembling all over, her eyes quickly moved to the place, where she’d heard the noise. All she could make out were the dark trees, slowly swaying under the spell of the wind. 
She felt an awkward feeling that she was being watched. Something touched her shoulder, and her stomach gave a horrible jolt as she twirled around once more, her fists ready to strike. But it was her husband. “Will you keep it down?”
“I heard a woman’s voice,” she sank in his arms. 
“What woman?” he asked, looking bewildered. “Out here?” “Yes. And there were bats. Thousands of them on that tree.” There was an uncomfortable pause. “Honey, are you all right? You sure you took your medicines before leaving.” 
“I know what I saw,” the woman said hysterically as she pulled away from him. “Let’s leave it. There’s no point discussing it. Did you check the car?” 
“It’s locked. We’ve to ask them,” the man said glumly. 
The woman bit her lip. Something was wrong with this place. She could sense it. But the prospect of spending the night out in the woods was far more unsettling than asking for a room. Her eyes scanned their clothes. They didn’t look shabby at all. She was glad that they’d changed their usual off-white robes before leaving otherwise their chances of getting a room would’ve been very grim indeed. 
“So what do you suggest?” asked the man, squinting at her with a suspicious frown. “We spend the night in or out?” 
“In- I guess,” the woman said at once. 
“All right. You talk. I’ll stay put in case they look through us. You okay with that?” 
“You sure?” 
“Do I have to repeat myself?” the woman frowned at him. 
“Ok… off we go then. I’ll follow you. And try to be polite.” 
“Oh- please. Stop it -will you?” The two hurried past the van and headed straight towards the stony steps. 
“I’m not wearing my glasses. What does it say?” asked the woman, pointing at the overhead billboard. 
The man strained his neck as he read the sign: “It says ‘Barry’s Lodge’...I guess we are at the right place then.” He added with a warm smile. The woman swallowed with difficulty as she felt her husband’s hand on her back, ushering her forward, towards the door. 
She waited for the courage to build up and then knocked on the door.

Barry's Lodge:
A Haunting

By Annie Walters

When the story begins with a couple (questionable as to what they have going) moving toward a woodland inn, is told “You’re not welcome here!” from an unseen woman, you might immediately get the idea that Barry's Lodge might not be the best place to stay... But if the choice is staying inside versus staying outside in the woods where hundreds of bats can be readily seen, you might go ahead and enter...

But be prepared...

Actually, the main character, is a wannabe writer, who spends more time thinking and talking about writing a book than he actually does in writing it... Maybe even a deadbeat...

I owned a small building in the village of Liddington. Thanks to Ellen’s father, Frank. Or perhaps I should call him the gracious Frank, if I were to be more precise. A very humble man who always tried his best to make both ends of our peculiar family meet but his untiring efforts nearly always ended in vain. I often let no opportunity to pass that offered a chance to disappoint my family. This was the first time in the last decade of my stringent connubial life that I had kept to one job for more than four months: Running a recording studio! I earned between 100 to 150 pounds a day if I got lucky. Some days were definitely terrible. I never complained. This was Ellen’s role. She adored arguments. I always had an easy way out. George and Anne, my little kids, were both asthmatic and when her bickering seemed inappropriate or a bit too hard to swallow, I always came up with an excuse to smoke. An unconvincing lie, of course I couldn’t do it in the house, so a change of air or should I say an escape from reality for even five seconds, always came up as an immense relief. I am not a narcissist, but I have been trying too hard for a very long time. I wanted this to end. I wanted my family to be happy. I wanted my kids to be proud of their father. Something I would love them to confide in to other kids in our neighborhood. But the very fear of failure irked me. It shook me. Deep down, I demanded a change. Yet to bring the change, I needed to change and that seemed overtly ambitious. The difference between an author and wanting to be one was evident. I was stuck somewhere between the two. It had been fifteen long years and in came numerous single nights from 12:00 am to 04:00 am. It had become a habit and just like any other bad habit it was devouring my very insides. It’s nearly six, I said to myself, picking up the car keys from the table and started towards the door. I could hear the clouds rumbling above me. After making sure that all the lights were off, I locked the front door swiftly. It’s going to rain soon, I thought as I began to stroll towards my car. Wind whistled past my ears and I clutched the overcoat tightly around my chest. Autumn leaves crunched viciously and my mind raced again. I needed a plan!

Finally, for his birthday, his father-in-law gave him a week's vacation in a secluded Lodge in order to finish his book...

Of course, he hasn't really started it... Can we assume that the book that we are reading is the result of that brief time away from home? Because certainly there was a story there, in Barry's Lodge. A scary, sometimes horrifying tale that you must follow carefully to realize just exactly what is happening...

Indeed the entire book becomes the horror story of what happens there in Barry's Lodge. For Alfred the wannabe writer, who fails to explain to his wonderful father-in-law that it was highly unlikely that he could write (finish) a book in just a week, it does sound like the plan he was needing and becomes very enthusiastic...until he gets there...

Walters adds an edgy, haunting suspenseful tone to her story telling... and as Alfred slowly gets out of the car, we almost can hear that woman's voice call out again... "You're not welcome here..." Alfred finds he's even beginning to think lines in his book... Without warning it hit me that something was radically amiss around my ambiance.

Alfred might have been pleasantly surprised when the innkeeper gushed about having a writer as their guest, if it hadn't been for the condition of foyer and furnishings. He soon learned that the upper floor was not accessible, and when Alfred pressed, was told that it was full of bats...

So getting on with signing the register, he was given a quill to sign...and keep...kinda interesting, except that before he could proceed to sign, he had to read and accept the rules of the establishment...

Oh-wait a minute.” He vanished behind the counter once again. After a bout of swearing and cursing, he got up and brushed the dirt and the clinging web off what looked like a thick file on the front of his turquoise jumper and placed it neatly in front of me. “It’s my duty to inform you that…urm…that there are certain rules and regulations that you must abide by while you’re staying with us.” Thinking of the possibility of the man being a complete lunatic, I flicked the file open, scanned the appendix and to my surprise the rules went from one to hundred. I turned the page and the “Rule no.1” held my interest. It read “Warning: No Nighttime Strolls after Dusk.” I continued to read: “Visitors are warned to cooperate with the staff members who are solely responsible for your health and safety during your stay at Barry’s Lodge. All the motel entrances will be locked sharply at 7:00 pm, without entertaining any leverages or concessions, whatsoever. So unless you are looking forward to spending the night out with one of our hefty and extremely dangerous “cougars” you are hereby warned that you must return to the motel at all costs by 7:00 pm. Failure to comply with this rule shall invoke appropriate action by the security staff, provided you’re still alive by the end of your beastly encounter.” I finished reading and snorted with laughter. Barry frowned at me, looking confused and annoyed at the same time. “Please, sir I think you’re taking them lightly—.” “I’m sorry Barry, I think …they seem a bit funny,” I said, still chuckling. “So do I have to go through all of them?” “Precisely, sir. And we don’t allow check ins unless we’ve a written permission from the visitor himself.”
I soon began to also enjoy an underlying humor that catches readers off guard, just as you begin to set yourself up for horror... What was really going on in this Lodge, which seemed to have not been touched for decades, yet still was in operation, and soon proved to be quite unsuitable as a quiet place to contemplate and write... But who exactly were the other people there and why did the caretaker say he was the only individual working there when Alfred had clearly been served by a woman...

“Sir, long before this lodge came into existence this place was originally an asylum for the mentally insane and handicapped. And long before that some people say that it was a tuberculosis treatment center and before that a nursing home for the widows. That’s what I heard from my grandma and she heard it from hers.” He paused and burping loudly like a frog, pushed the plate of crumpets towards me. “Thank you, Barry.” I said, picking one up. They smelled like old socks and tasted stale. Controlling myself not to gag, I sneaked it under the counter when he was busy, spreading generous amounts of rancid butter on his plate of crumpets, humming another one of Menotti’s tunes.

This story is light enough that it is enjoyable even though there are many weird things that will be happening... Just got word that a new edition has been published to correct the few mistakes so be sure to get the latest. Highly recommended...


Annie Walter is an upcoming British Author who has grown up listening to stories like the Fall of the House of Usher and The Tell-tale heart. She is a huge fan of Sir Edgar Allan Poe, Stephen King and what not and is a doctor by profession. When she’s not diagnosing her patients, you would find her in the local library, buried under tons of books, digging out tales of the macabre and horror. Currently she is living in a crooked little house in Wales with a crooked little cat called George who’s always preoccupied with sinister thoughts of murdering her.

No comments:

Post a Comment