Under the Ashes

The garden was overgrown; but that’s a vast understatement. It brought to mind neglected places, back yards ignored over years. The path, throttled by weeds, formed a haphazard trench through grass up to two metres high. Much of the ground floor of the house was hidden from view by the rampant growth. The effect was of a trench through waving strands of gloom, winding an erratic course to the front door.

Andrew wondered aloud why more teenage couples didn’t seek this place out as somewhere to be alone in the dark. He often seemed to miss the point where atmosphere was concerned. The fact was, the place didn’t even have the macabre attraction of a graveyard. I couldn’t stop glancing around the black upper windows of the house, the sensation of being watched was so compelling. It wasn’t just that, either; there was a definite feeling that the house didn’t want us here.

The building itself was a misfit, a huge, lop-sided but solid wooden construction with balconies in odd places and overhanging upper floors. Two thin towers rose from the roof, with slatted windows mimicking the architecture of old brooding churches. There was a fluttering sound briefly, muffled in the downpour. Rain cascaded from the sloping sections of roof, crashing to the ground in sheets. The porch was covered; but I had never seen a less appealing refuge from the weather.