This is a short story I wrote a few years ago. I have tried to get it published without success. Any suggestions to that end would be greatly appreciated! I hope you enjoy! It's rather long (5 pages) so I'm not sure whether to attach it or just paste it. For now I will just paste it. If that is problematic for anyone (including and especially the moderator!) please let me know and I will change it in the future.
Curse of the Cards
by Sonja Lindsey
Lord Glamis walked quietly down a hallway on the lowest level of his castle. Every now and then he stopped and glanced behind him, listening and looking for anyone following him. As he rounded the corner he saw his friend Alexander Lindsay waiting for him. They shook hands and began talking in hushed voices.
“Listen” began Lord Glamis, “we canna make any noise. Ma wife daesna like me playing cairts or drinkin.”
“No noise? Are ye daft, man? We canna play cairts athoot some noise! And nae drinkin?” Alexander threw his hands up in an air of frustration.
“Listen tae me speak, man. That’s why we’re meetin here. This is a secret room. Ma wife daesna know aboot it. It’s a wee room though. Nae much space and nae windaes for air.”
“Why didna ye jus say so! Lead on, man. Let’s play some cairts.” Alexander thumped him on the back, harder than was needed, as Lord Glamis lead him into the secret room.
Materializing around the corner was the Lord’s most trusted servant, Thomas. In more whispered tones he ordered Thomas to bring drink and food to the secret room, specifically in that order. Before he let Thomas go he admonished him to keep the errand secret from everyone, especially Lady Glamis, under pain of death. Having secured their gaming provisions, Lord Glamis continued on his way and ushered Alexander into the secret room. The two men had barely sat down to begin their game when Thomas entered the room with their first large pitcher of ale followed shortly by two large plates of pulled beef and bread.
The men played many hands of cards, interrupted periodically by Thomas refreshing their pitcher or plate as needed. On one of these occasions Thomas observed the time and reminded the Lord and the Earl that it was nearing midnight.
“It’s n’er to the Sabbath, ma Laird.” Thomas cautioned. Everyone knew it was a sacrilege to play cards on the Sabbath so Thomas thought this would be enough to end the game. Neither man took any notice of him however, as they continued to take in more drink then food.
At five minutes to midnight Thomas again warned his Lord about the impending Sabbath and, though he had consumed enough ale to be quite fuzzy in the head it was not enough for him to purposely break the Sabbath.
“Ah, Alex ma freend, you’ve nearly broken me! As it is near tae the Sabbath let us call it a night.”
“I care not whit day o the week ‘tis! Couarts ye are if yi’ll nae play me. Ye donna like losin is what ‘tis! I am on such a streak I would play the verra Devil hisself!”
For a split second neither of the other men in the room knew quite what to do. That was an awfully heavy curse Alexander had just brought down upon himself.
Trembling in fear Lord Glamis retreated to his bedchamber without uttering a word. At the very stroke of midnight a stranger appeared, seemingly out of nowhere, standing framed in the doorway to the secret room. He was tall and dressed all in black.
“Are ye still lookin for a partner, ma laird?”
“Aye, if ye arna feart of the Sabbath” was Alexander’s reply.
The stranger sat down without another word and placed a handful of rubies in the middle of the table. Alexander’s eyes became saucers and he quickly took his seat at the table.
Meanwhile, Thomas’ curiosity was overpowering his fear and he headed back toward the secret room. He had been watching from the shadows on an upper floor and never saw the Earl return to his room. Wondering if the Earl had possibly managed to find someone to play card with him on the Sabbath, Thomas crept silently up to the door to the secret room.
First he laid his ear to the door. He could hear the shuffling of cards and an occasional grunt from the Earl but no other voices could be heard. After a few minutes of listening he heard a shout from Alexander that turned into a tortured scream. Thomas immediately put his eye to the keyhole to see what was happening. What he saw was the most horrible thing he had ever witnessed. The Earl of Crawford was completely engulfed in flames that were shooting from the fingertips of the stranger.
Thomas must have gasped in shock or made some other form of noise because the stranger turned to look at him. Thomas had just a split second to register that the strangers’ eyes were also on fire before a brilliant blast of white-hot light shot through the keyhole blinding him. Thomas’ scream alerted the household, many of whom came running to his side including Lord Glamis. Upon hearing the tale Thomas told, Lord Glamis immediately ordered the door opened so he could check on his friend. They tried every conceivable method of getting that door open but to his great anguish nothing worked. Any attempts to converse with the Earl through the immovable door failed to raise a response as well. The Earl had vanished.
Lord Glamis rested his hands on the door with a sob refusing to accept that his friend was gone. All at once the door became superheated and he had to jump away or risk being severely burned. Rubbing his hands in pain he stared at the door in confusion. He reached out a hand in a tentative attempt to touch the door again when he heard it.
“Leave me to me fate. Forget.”
“Alex?” Lord Glamis looked around frantically, trying to see where the voice had come from. Nobody else in the hallway seemed to have heard the voice. But they had heard him and were looking at him with a mix of pity and confusion. He turned back to the door and heard it again only this time it came with a warning.
“Leave me to me fate. Forget or repeat.”
When Lord Glamis reached out to touch the door again it immediately heated up. He sent everyone out of the hallway straight away and ordered it sealed. Nobody would ever find their way into this hallway again. Lord Glamis tried to follow his friends’ instruction but he could never forget. And every year, on the anniversary of the Earl’s disappearance Lord Glamis swears he sees his friend walk through the sealed wall saying “leave me to me fate”.
"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing" Edmund Burke
"If there's a book you really want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it." ~Toni Morrison