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- Story Listed as: Fiction For Adults
- Theme: Horror Stories / Scary Stories
- Subject: Paranormal
- Published: 06/10/2019
Sapphire Lodge - Quaint & Haunted with Fjord ViewBorn 1900, U, from Copenhagen, Denmark
Sapphire Lodge - Quaint & Haunted with Fjord View
by Dr. Anjana Sen
I am staying at the Sapphire Lodge by the Mirage Valley overlooking the Mist Cavern in the outskirts of Magnolia fjord. The Lodge is halfway uphill, with 500-700 meter high cliffs lining both at the back and frontside. I wanted to stay by the onset of spring-time, before I make a decision to purchase (and thereby squander a fortune). Spring comes quite late here, and unusually late this year. The lodge seemed a bit atypical to me because of its combined stone-log structural build. I have a great fascination for stonelog cabins, particularly in the wilderness. However, this is way far from being called a “cabin”. Idyllic, remote, secluded, rocky, rugged terrain with foggy cedar-birch forest, far away from 10th floor board meetings and financial district mayhem. But not just bleak emptiness.
What a coincidence,…..Silver and Sapphire. Magnolia and moon. These have long been the theme of my life. And weeping willows suit perfect with my solitary disposition. I visited this place last autumn. The guards and caretakers keep this place securely locked up. That might have saved this classic treasure from vandals, paranormal-enthusiasts and explorers but upgraded very little in the renovation efforts. The North-West part of the mansion was in relatively poor condition. Conversely, the South-East wing of the mansion, “The Sapphire Lodge”, where I will be staying for now, is in much better shape and safer as well.
Last year when I took a very brief tour inside the mansion, I felt like verging on getting lost in a labyrinth. Its perplexing floor-plans seemed to be a complex series of countless doors after doors, rooms after rooms, lounges,
parlours and salons, porticos and windows, galleries and libraries, lobbies, terraces, secret chambers, assembly halls, banquette halls, ballrooms, frequent staircases after staircases, endless corridors after corridors, covert tunnels and lavishly decorated ceilings and walls. The North-West wing is mostly full of abandoned clutter, antique handicrafts,
sculpture, art objects, ornate rugs, lamps, wall brackets, crockery, damaged paintings, ancient wood doors, windows, monographs, daily-life items, and more. What distinctly mesmerized me was the wine-cellar with its exquisite woodcarvings, and the remarkable collection of vintage wine; now merely a dilapidated crawl-space almost obliterated by cobwebs.
“Tomorrow I am planning a whole day on a library ladder somewhere in this wing of the villa, devouring hardcover treatises from another century”, I promised to myself. I can hardly wait. That time I spent half an hour at the most, and made a rushed assessment. The libraries and chandeliers in the mansion particularly attracted my attention, as always, and distracted me, to be honest. So I had to draw a rather vague floor plan in my head, which I noted down on paper, back home. The North-West wing is colossal and spread out in an L-shape. Considerably larger than the South-East part. I explored the North-West wing in the past, when it was in better condition, not as perilous as it is now.
This mansion is a hidden gem, architecture-wise, but nobody is interested to purchase it. It used to be frequented by hunter groups using it as a hunting lodge. Rumors of haunting and mysterious spooky incidents that go on in this
villa have kept people away for decades. Now its glorious past is forgotten. It’s abandoned. Wild grove has taken over. Nobody stayed here last 15-20 years.
On my long drive here, a nebulous crescent moon in the background of hazy grey-peach sky on its way to the direction of the South-West was staring down at me. The location and timing indicates that it’s a waxing crescent. I relished a spectacular sunset through the askew terrains and hills in nuances of dark olive and sepia, even though I heard on the radio about the quickly approaching bad weather in the late evening today. I passed through wide uninhabited natural forest areas of 20-30 meter high nearly 200 year old murmuring cedar and birch trees, from the foothills all the way up to about 2000 meter altitude. On arrival, a very familiar fragrance of high-quality cheroots, incense sticks, wild flowers and lime oil gave me a nostalgic feeling, and I almost heard a sort of hypnotizing whispers in my ears, as if the lodge is saying it’s my long lost home. It wasn’t an uncanny feeling, but a mystifying ambience.
Large glass windows along with the sliding glass door from the ceiling to the floor are occupying the entire front-wall of the living room. In front, far off on the remote shore, dense forest borders the landscape in conjunction with the cove on the right corner (South side), whereas, on the East side (left corner), the old lighthouse is not clearly visible at the moment because of the thick mist in the background of deep murky birch and spruce forest, under the gloomy sky, which is gradually turning into an appearance of smoked silver.
In the late afternoon, I settled down in an antique bamboo armchair by the fire. A light knitted blanket is loosely spread on my feet. The wood-burning fireplace is on its way to succumb to ashes, leaving a pleasant fragrance and
more of a smoky shadowy surrounding. On the corner table, an antique lantern of hazy glass lampshade is giving dim light from its quivering flame. The heavy curtains were slightly open for me to look out to the dreary weather. Light sleet has started silently. To my dismay, this seemed to be utterly contrary to my plan and expectation!
I frowned, since I was really looking forward to gaze at a picturesque panorama view of starry night, a dreamy setting moon over the fishing boats, canopy of arctic willows, listening to cicadas. Well…..apparently not today.
I turned my attention from outdoor to the interior. Other than armchair, footrest and lantern, there are velvety sofas, low sofa-table of glass, heavy rugs, few faded oil-paintings depicting seascapes, lighthouses and hillside farmhouses, also wicker sideboard, bookcase, glass-cabinet and grandfather floor-clock, which must be the leftover that didn’t qualify for last year’s auction.
Suddenly through the corner of my eye, it appeared to me as if the glass cabinet door is moving. Well,…it looked like an apparition standing in front of it and is trying to shake it open! As soon as I chuckled, “Here we go……..”, a knocking sound started behind the fireplace, but only a few times, then it stopped! What was that about? By now I have realized, absolute tranquility that I was expecting does not exist. Incessant rounds of violent gusts are blowing through the dense forest, almost to the extent of harsh disruption. And the forest is waking up from its hibernation, responding back with a jarring sound, leaving a whispering echo, which I am listening to with my eyes half-closed.
I noticed now, the line of horizon distinguishing between the remote coast-line and the sky has started to disappear behind the grey mist, becoming more and more obscure, and soon invisible.
When I started to feel sort of a damp chill in the air, I shivered and pondered, should I bring more fire-woods and enjoy a little bit light reading or get ready for bed. I rummaged through the bookcase only to find old magazines,
catalogues and news-reviews. I frowned, I feel like reading something else. I turned to the rear side of the ground floor and stepped outside the drawing room area. After two dark corridors, right turn at a half-empty gallery and two
small steps up, there comes ground floor’s large bedroom first, then kitchen and bathroom farther back. Staircase to the upper floors is located next to the kitchen, and at the side of the bathroom, a dark narrow hallway leading to the
North-West wing of this villa. This passage is actually “blind”. In order to block direct access, it’s most certainly kept shut at the other end, even though that cannot be seen from here. The ground floor bedroom looks charming but outdated, it has a large four poster bed with silk brocade frills. Hmmm,………..I contemplated the choice of floor and choice of bedroom. I never liked the idea of ground floor bedrooms. This is something that has always made me uncomfortable for some unknown reasons. I took the stairs to inspect further upstairs. I can see it’s not an open staircase. The door at the top end of the staircase is locked with a padlock.
The floor plan drawings in my head are rather vague. This is unexpected, but anyway. I came back down to find the keys. The first place I would look is the top of the fireplace. And…yes! There it is. A large key ring of total…. 7 keys.
After trying 4 keys, the fifth one opened the padlock. But I wasn’t ready for what was coming next. As soon as I pulled open the door, I’m sure I heard a sort of a creaking sound, as if somebody is tiptoeing in there on the old wood floor. But nobody is supposed to be here….or anywhere in this villa at the moment. The staircase door was locked until now, and I just opened the lock 5 seconds ago !!! There is no other access route, as far as I know. I froze at the doorway and the sound stopped. Burglar? I had an eerie feeling, and it made me worried.
Oh no,…………I didn’t have my flashlight in my pocket. Should have brought the oil lamp from downstairs. But soon I noticed a dim ray of light as I stepped into a lounge area. The first floor in this section seemed to have an open lounge area with assorted dining furniture and glass walls on both South and East sides, opening to an attached covered terrace on the South-East corner. Obviously there is nobody in here. I had no idea why the wood-floor made
that creaking sound even before I stepped on it. Must be some other very familiar sounds caused by very common things, like the water-droplets trickling down the chimney, or the wind blowing into its top. I didn’t feel like thinking too much about that right now.
There are two additional bedrooms on either side of the first floor, one of them being relatively larger than the other. Another elegant bathroom at the rear side as well. The dim quivering light rays were actually coming from the corner room, which turned out to be a medium size library. Yes, I remember now. I can see that one bedroom has the view of the cavern in the fjord, and the other, the larger one, is overlooking the lighthouse. Moreover, this larger bedroom overlooking the lighthouse also has a fireplace itself! “Superb!” I mumbled to myself. Then there is no point of staying by the fire downstairs. I will bring some fire-wood upstairs, start this fireplace instead and sleep in this cozy bed. OK perhaps I need the blanket from downstairs. First I wanted to check out the library.
There is an antique oval center table and a similar lantern is sitting on top of it. Who lit this lamp in here, while this floor was locked? All the walls are filled with large bookcases containing old hardcover classics. There are also some paperbacks and some handwritten manuscripts. “Hurrah!” I mumbled again. Surrounded by antique furniture and hardcover classics in a quaint mountain lodge and shopping at the farmer’s market would be paradise for me.
I quickly set down the large key-ring from my hand on the center table next to the burning lamp in the library, and went back downstairs to fetch the blanket, which was now hanging at the back of the sofa in the ground floor living room. Is this the way I left it? Hmmm…… I am getting confused again. OK, never mind. When I went back to the bedroom upstairs with the blanket, I felt stupid. Only if I opened the small closet in this bedroom sooner. There are two thick soft quilts in there. Those I could use on the bed. There are extra pillows as well in a wicker chest in the other bedroom here.
Abruptly, I caught a glimpse of something white, and a faint scent. My eyes fell upon a small pile of gardenia flowers, which were lying on the small bedside table !!! No, not artificial ones, they are real ones. Fresh and wet. I can swear they were not there when I first time came in to this bedroom a few minutes ago. And how would someone know about my fascination with gardenias?! How would someone even obtain those tropical beauties in this
part of the globe?! Ok, whatever.
As I was closing the wardrobe in the bedroom, suddenly something caught my eyes through the bedroom window. The steady illumination from the lighthouse is still piercing through the bleak weather, as usual, but….what’s
that over there?!! Some strange light out in the pitch-dark gravel path……almost like a group of fireflies. Not only that,…….a dark figure (a person?) was walking towards the lodge. Who’s out there in this weather in this remote solitary region that does not even have a railroad or a post-office whatsoever? That eerie feeling is back again. One of the watchmen perhaps? No, not before the season starts. Even the lighthouse-keeper’s cottage is empty, and that’s a long walk from here. It’s hard to see because of the tall dense foliage of the high hedges along the pebble-fence around the premises, and 10-20 meter high Rhododendrons, which are almost guarding or hiding this villa from the outsiders.
I went down all the way to the ground floor living room, but by that time that obscure figure had disappeared or perhaps turned around the left corner. The main entrance port is not really on the ground floor level, it’s located
halfway below, on a semi-basement level, with a few stone-steps leading to a foyer, so that the real ground floor is elevated to a rather higher level, making me unable to see all the way down beyond the turns of the gravel path. I am
absolutely certain that I locked the main port properly myself, and the port is considerably robust. “Don’t worry about that”, I assured myself, “I was mistaken.” Now I need to go get some fire-wood from the utility-shed at the back of the lodge. I pulled out my flashlight from my overnight-case, ran upstairs again to fetch the key-ring from the library table, opened the back-door of the ground floor, sauntered through a dark hall-way, took a few stone-steps, and arrived in front of the boiler-room-utility-room area at the end of the hallway. This annex area, built adjacent to the main structure, is not totally indoor, not totally outdoor either.
The drizzle was brutally whipping me. Thank god I didn’t have to go out for fire-wood. According to the weather report, this drizzle is going to turn into heavy downpour of hail after midnight. The dew drops at dawn are definitely
going to form ice crystals. Right behind starts a wide expanse of backwoods and plantation. I stood there for a while and fantasized about a perfect blend of North and South, Besalύ and Undredal.…..a backyard, pink-purple lupine and rhododendron, fragrance of lavender, gardenia, magnolia, …..blended with intoxicating smell of lime leaves, coriander, basil, eucalyptus, faint glow of moonbeam……ahh.
Both utility-rooms were locked with padlocks. I unlocked the rooms, filled a large pail with fire-wood, checked that there is plenty of hot water for my night-time shower and then locked the rooms. On my way back through dark
hall-way, just by chance my eyes suddenly looked up to the direction of the North-West wing, and my jaws dropped. There is a bright light in the attic room and a silhouette figure is standing there!!! The South-East wing, where I am staying, does not have any attic room, but the middle part of the North-West wing is a colossal three-and-a-half floor
building with that attic room on the top. The North-West wing is not safe to live in, and hence barricaded by the authority. All the rooms, corridors and access-tunnels have old-fashioned padlocks on. It’s practically impossible for
outsiders or criminals to…..just barge in. I looked again. That head, that build, form and shape of the body have a
creepy likeness to something very familiar to me. Cannot figure out what at the moment. It was quite baffling, and I was apprehensive, but not really panic-stricken. Not yet anyway.
I shut the back-door carefully and went back upstairs feeling a little bit jumpy. What’s happening? I went into the bedroom to start fire in the fire-place. Suddenly a metal-glass clinking or rattling sound in this mute deserted villa
startled me and made me look up, and I noticed that the chandelier is now swaying like a pendulum, as if mild earthquake is going on, or somebody smacked it. There was no reason for that kind of movement. I told to myself,
“Who’s trying to scare me off ??” I went back to the library. And I froze once again. I can swear I saw the hurricane lantern of hazy glass lampshade was the only thing that was sitting on the oval center table, and I can swear I left the keyring right next to it. Oh yeah, I also came second time to fetch the keys. But now… there is something lying next to the lantern on the table. It looked like one of those hand-written manuscripts from the shelves over there by the
East-side wall. And it’s lying open. I am now leaning forward on the table. No, I am wrong! Not manuscript. It’s
actually a sort of ancient diary. Sapphire colored soft cover with gold borders. Not turquoise, not aquamarine, Sapphire! And the ancient yellow-brown water-damaged pages of fibrous pulp. Moreover, as I notice now, the page
that was open, is 30 April ! Today! 200 years ago!
My freezing cold trembling fingers hesitantly picked up the diary. Somebody has written in violet ink, which is mostly faded but legible, “The gardenia in the bedroom cheered me up today.” “I saw a dark shadowy figure in the attic.
Then I discovered a dead-body lying in the South-East corner library floor.” I felt my arms and knees starting to get severely debilitated and getting almost paralyzed. Reminiscence flashed in my eyes, and certain words started ringing in my ears, “my long-lost home”, the words first came to my mind the very moment I entered Sapphire Lodge!
I warily turned to the East wall, and now………there is no shelf anymore. The whole wall has now turned into some kind of glossy shiny plate, like a home movie. An entity, sort of two-dimensional, is appearing, but my eyes failed to
recognize what it is.
I came out of the library like a zombie, petrified and traumatized. On my last visit, I made sure to note down all access tunnel-routes / passage-ways in my head. And I am 200% sure, there was absolutely no access to this floor area from the other parts of the mansion. But….now….I can clearly see a pitch dark tunnel has appeared on the right side of the staircase. And it’s connecting directly to the North-West wing. It didn’t even exist few minutes ago, when I carried the pail upstairs! My blood has turned into ice. Right in front of my blurred eyes, I now see that dark shadowy entity is emerging from the North-West end of the tunnel and sauntering towards me! Now there is no doubt why this physical structure in the attic looked so familiar to me, when I first saw it while carrying fire-wood. It’s me, no doubt. Only difference is, the face is upside down !!!
I staggered back in to the library, stumbled and collapsed. Fragile yellow brown pages turned into crisp beige, faded ink turned into bright violet, 200 years’ ignominious past disintegrated and vanished mercilessly in dismal
emptiness, as deluge of hail started.