Serial Saturday: The Weird Ghosts of Lanark Manor by Carol Willis, Part 4 – Finale

  1. Serial Saturday: The Weird Ghosts of Lanark Manor by Carol Willis, Part 1
  2. Serial Saturday: The Weird Ghosts of Lanark Manor by Carol Willis, Part 2
  3. Serial Saturday: The Weird Ghosts of Lanark Manor by Carol Willis, Part 3
  4. Serial Saturday: The Weird Ghosts of Lanark Manor by Carol Willis, Part 4 – Finale



The Weird Ghosts of Lanark Manor: Part Four, Finale


A loud rapping on the door interrupted some murky dream. I awoke in the armchair disoriented, and could not recall where I was or the time of day. Outside, the gray skies were heavy with rain, and water ran in rivulets down the window panes. There was no fire, only a pile of cold ash in the grate. One the floor next to me, there was an empty bottle of brandy and two empty tumblers. 

The rapping on the backdoor grew louder and more insistent, and I heard voices.

With great effort I heaved myself from sitting, and without thinking, put my full weight on my bad ankle. I cried out in pain, instantly crumpling to the floor. 

Footsteps scraped in the vestibule by the backdoor, and the double doors to the kitchen rattled. Muffled voices called out, “Caroline? Are you in there?” 

Limping, I hobbled to the kitchen, leaning heavily on my crutches as pain shot through my ankle with each step. “Hold on a sec. Coming,” I called out weakly, groggy and in pain. 

Hilary and Carey stood in the vestibule, peering into the kitchen through the bolted double doors. Hilary gasped as soon as she saw me, and Carey looked down at the floor. 

I undid the bolt and Hilary burst through the doors with a huff. Carey hung back uncertainly. 

“Caroline! My God, look at you!” Hilary continued to barrage me with questions. “Your friend Roberta called worried sick about you. Said you were mumbling, almost incoherent the last time she spoke to you. Do you have a fever?” 

My head muddled with sleep and brandy I looked around uncertainly. Wind whistled through the eaves, sounding like voices whispering in my ears. 

I strained to focus. “Sorry, my ankle is acting up. I need to sit down,” I said, ignoring her questions, groping to remember how long I had been here and why. 

“Caroline, you’ve got everyone worried. What’s going on with you?” Hilary sat down next to me, leaned her elbows on the table. Carey warily took a step into the kitchen, watching me. 

I was having difficulty processing her questions. My head throbbed, and the kitchen seemed to tilt sideways. “What time is it?” I asked meekly, looking around for the clock. My throat dry and husky, and my tongue flopped around in my mouth. 

“About four o’clock,” Carey said, looking at his watch. It’s the first words he’d spoken since he arrived, and his voice sounded tinny and far away. 

“Edward is coming tonight,” I said, glancing toward the back door. “I’ll put the kettle on.” As I got up, I stumbled, suddenly dizzy knocking the chair over.

Carey righted the chair, and pushed it under the table. 

Hilary took my arm. “Caroline, I think you need to go to hospital,” she said, glancing up at Carey.  

“It’s all right, Edward will look after me,” I said woozily. 

“Who’s this Edward you keep going on about?” Hilary asked, handing me my crutches. 

“Edward. Your farmhand,” I said. “He works for you,” I added, swatting at the air, when she looked at me bewildered. 

“Ed? From Karolcare House?” Hilary asked, looking at Carey at again. 

The kitchen swam before my eyes. How could she not know Edward? Frustrated, I said, “He takes care of your horses. You know, when they break out of the barn during a storm.” I sat back down again, confused.

“My horses? What are you going on about? The horses are in Dumfries with us,” Hilary said. 

“Before,” I said, trying to explain but I could not seem to find the words. “The storm. Before you took the horses, ” I stammered, trying to explain how Edward had tramped through the woods after midnight to find the mare loose in the pasture. 

“Caroline, you’re not making any sense,” Hilary said, alarmed. “Ed’s never come by in the middle of the night.” 

When I didn’t answer, she said, “Caroline, I don’t think things are right with you. I don’t know who this Edward is, but he’s not one of ours.” 

“Edward will explain,” I said, pointing a limp finger toward the direction of the barn.

 Hilary gave Carey a sideways glance. “Carey and I are going to have a look around the place. We’ll be gone fifteen, twenty minutes. Then we’re going to drive straight to the clinic in Carnwath.” 

The backdoor slammed shut, I listened to the bone click of gravel as their footsteps receded. A dragging sensation tugged my insides. As if under a spell, I shambled into the sitting room and slumped into the armchair. The low scrape of the barn door, and the rusty clunk of a metal gate were the last sounds I heard as I closed my eyes.


Leaves rustled and scratched against the side of the house, the wood plank floors creaked and groaned. A chill seeped into my bones and a musty odor filled the air. 

“Come, Caroline,” a voice whispered like a sigh upon my ear, the words barely above the faint ticking of the clock. 

I looked up from the armchair. Edward appeared next to me like a specter, shrouded in his black tattered coat and knee-high boots. 

“It’s you,” I said, softly, bleary-eyed. “Did you talk to Hilary?” I asked, smoothing my hair and wiping sleep from my eyes.

He shrugged his shoulders, a small gesture. His cold blue eyes, shiny and brittle, gleamed. “I came for you,” he purred. 

My lids felt heavy, my head spun as if I had been drugged. 

“Come.” A command. “We belong together, Caroline.” 

I stood shakily, patting the pockets of my sweater uncertainly as though I was forgetting something important. Like trying to grasp the last remnants of a dream, the feeling lasted but an instant then was gone. 

Edward nodded reassuringly, that peculiar placid smile on his face. “Here.” He extended his arm, proffering his hand. His long delicate fingers were cold. The chill bit my skin and crawled up my arm, I had the sensation of descending a set of damp stair steps, into another place: as if lying down to sleep after a long illness.

Spellbound, I glided, following Edward through the house and out the backdoor. The brittle moon was white as bleached bone. Covered in early evening frost, the world glittered with thousands of tiny crystals. 

“Oh, I need my crutches,” I said weakly.  

“Nay, Caroline. Come with me. Trust me,” Edward said, his eyes glittering in the moonlight.

I took a step and felt no pain in my ankle. In fact, I felt no pain at all. 

Somewhere behind us, Hilary and Carey yelled, “Caroline? Where are you?” Their voices muffled and far away, devoured by the night. 

“Hilary,” I said, trying to turn back. “We should go back. I’m so cold,” I said with great effort.

Come with me. Come with me

As we neared the border of the dense wood an owl puled a lonely, piteous cry. Somewhere beneath, deep in shadow, my soul creeps down from the bared limbs and into Edward’s cold embrace.

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