Straight Pipe Dreams
The House on Morningwood Lane
The carriage pulled up at the end of a long, narrow lane. Trees, grey and gnarled, lined either side of the lane, their limbs bending and twisting, tangling with the trees opposite. They stood as naked sentinels against the late autumn evening, guarding against whatever might lie, waiting, in the forest beyond. Marley felt a chill trace its finger down her spine.
“That’ll do, then, madam. Here yeh are, Morningwood Lane.” The driver called back to her, holding the reins tight against the nervous stamping and twitching of his team.
“But where’s the manor house, I do not see it?” she asked.
“About a half mile, maybe more down the lane. Yeh cannot miss it. Stands out like a turd in a punch bowl, it does. Besides, it’s the only place on Morningwood Lane. Are yeh sure yeh don’t want to stay over in the village ‘til mornin’? Maudie can put you up at the inn and I can bring yeh back in the daylight, right up to the door. But I’ll not travel Morningwood Lane at night, no, Morningwood is best saved for the light of day.”
She had heard his arguments before, his hesitation to bring her out at all. But she was persistent, already delayed more than a week, Marley was keen to see the estate, Morningwood Acres, keen to meet, and interview, the reclusive lord of the manor, Levi Whittaker. Lord Whittaker was a poet, writer, and amateur occultist of some renown and infamy. Rumors were circulating that he had opened a portal to another world and the stories of odd happenings about the estate on Morningwood Lane had become nearly as legendary as his reclusiveness. Marley was stunned when her editor was able to secure a rare interview with Lord Whittaker. Even more so when she learned the interview was contingent solely upon her, and her alone, conducting the interview.
“This will be fine, driver, thank you. It’s less than a mile and my bag is light. I’ll manage nicely.”
“Suit yerself then.” He climbed down and helped her from the carriage. “Mind yeh stick to the center of the lane and don’t yeh venture too close to them woods. Call me a laughable old fool if you will, but I’ll tell yeh what I told me own daughters once they were old enough to understand, yeh just don’t go playing around with Morningwood after dark. Bad things can come of it.”
“Thank you, I’ll bear that in mind. You just be sure to pick me up, two days from now, at the manor house.”
“Aye, madam, I’ll be there.” He said, and then, mumbling under his breath, “But will ye? ”
He offered her a small lantern. She thanked him once again, and with her small bag in one hand and lantern in the other, she started off down Morningwood Lane…mindful to stick to the center of the lane, mindless of the trials to come.
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