Grace and I were the only people in the house on a deserted moor.
A Letter to Dr Franz Heimer
By Sophie Macdonald
My dearest Franz
I do not know if you will read this letter, but I pray that it will make its way to you and that you will save me.
Forgive me if my thoughts sound confused, but it has all happened so fast, and I can no longer lay claim to presence of mind nor coherence of thought.
I arrived safely at your aunt’s house, although the journey was disquieting as my carriage was driven into the blackness of the moors and it felt as if the night was swallowing us whole. You said I can be fanciful at times, but I should have listened to my instincts, which were compelling me to stop the driver and return to you. However, I had made you a promise, and you said you had no one else to look after Aunt Cecily in her final days.
The house was dark and there were no servants to be seen. My driver did not wait, and I knew that I would be there until he returned on Sunday night. I found your aunt asleep in her bed and her maid, Grace—a strange nervous girl—was curled up in her quarters with her eyes open, but when I tried to speak to her she didn’t answer. I set up my bed, and vowed to reprimand Grace in the morning.
I slept fitfully, and nightmares plagued me—terrible dreams of blood on my hands and face, which would not wash away. There was a creature there too. A dark shadow of a ghoul, like a reflection in the window, and it made the hairs on my arms stand up.
The morning was dim across the moor. I hurried out of my room, anxious to make Aunt Cecily comfortable, and to reprimand her useless maid. If you are reading this, dear Franz, you will have heard the next part. I caution you to read my words closely, as you will not have heard my story and things are not as they seem.
The passageway to Aunt Cecily’s room was dark, but I could see the streaks along each side of the wall. Dark crimson smudges, as if someone had trailed paint smeared hands all the way from my room to Aunt Cecily’s room. I knew straight away that it was not paint. Blood, Franz! And a terrible metallic smell, which reminded me of something, but I could not place it. I hardly dared look in your poor aunt’s room, but a glance told me all I needed to know. She had been murdered, and in the most terrible way. There was blood on the ceiling—viscera on her sheets. I fled downstairs and stood in the hall, shaking and screaming.
My thoughts turned to Grace, and I feared for her safety. I ran to her quarters and found her curled up in bed, with eyes were as round as saucers, and she was shaking too.
“Are you hurt?” I asked, rushing to her side. She threw herself away from me as I approached.
“Did you see anyone here?” I asked, as quietly as I could and, as I said it, a terrible thought occurred. Grace and I were the only people in the house on a deserted moor. I took a step away from her.
“Monster!” she said. That word instantly conjured up the ghoul from my nightmare, but I tried to shake such a silly idea away.
“There are no monsters.” I said.
“Get away, devil!” she said. “He should never have sent you! We all know what you are! He’s as bad as you—he must have known. All for her money.” I didn’t understand, but it was obvious she was beside herself so I left her alone. I wish you had been there—as a doctor you would have known what to do.
The mirrors in the hallway were smashed, and I thought for a moment I glimpsed something distorted in my reflection—a dark devilish face. I rubbed my eyes and looked again and oh, Franz, I cannot forget what I saw. The same face—terrifying, loathsome, ghoulish—but now covered in blood. I looked to my hands and they too were covered in dark smears of dried blood. I fainted.
I awoke with a strange metallic taste in my mouth, and I ran back to Grace because I didn’t want to be alone. The smell hit me before I even got to her room, and I fell to my knees in fear. Pieces of Grace’s body lay scattered all about, and there was fresh blood on my dress and in my hair. I was alone.
No one will believe that I didn’t do it, Franz, but you know me! You have been my doctor for so long, and you are truly the only one who will believe me. It was almost identical to the events that transpired at your parents’ cottage, when you sent me there to look after them. You said I would be safe here, but this ghoul must keep following me. I leave this note, not knowing if you will ever see it. Please send your driver to get me soon. I am so afraid, and I cannot shake the silly feeling that you have forgotten me.