Jane Eyre: The True Happenings behind Thornfield Hall
“Well, ma’am, afterwards the house was burnt to the ground: there are only some bits of walls standing now.”
“Were any other lives lost?”
“Well,” the man paused, and his eyes betrayed a glimpse his feelings, of wonder and disturbingly, a slight terror, “we don’t know.”
“Don’t know? What can that possibly mean?” I asked incredulously, at his hesitant speech. The man’s eyes darted around nervously, as if to think someone listening, and leaned in closer.
“It’s a right mystery, that one, ma’am. Folks searched around the ruins a bit, but found nothing…”
“Nothing? All of the occupants were lost?” At this time, the worst of my fears were in play, and a dull ache in my chest set in. But I glanced once again at my hosts eyes, and discerned that he wasn’t done. He shuffled around in his seat, his eyes downwards, until they finally came back up to me.
“You don’t know?” he whispered, his voice coming out little less than a breath. When I responded that I indeed did not, he resumed his tale, still yet just as cautiously.
“When Bertha jumped off Thornfield Hall, we saw him, Rochester, up there… Presumably trying to save her. His silhouette stayed for an instance longer after she jumped, the encroaching fire causing the strangest aura around his frame, and then, he disappeared back into the Hall. But… We never saw him again. All the servants and such came out fine, but Rochester, well, we couldn’t even find his body. There was a whole crowd for the spectacle, with the firemen, neighbors, and worried citizens all around. There was no way he could escape unbeknownst.”
At this point, Reader, my eyes could not contain my wonderment and astonishment at the seemingly wild story, and my face no doubt certainly paled. My host, seeing this, offered to get me some refreshment, but I refused. I wasn’t done yet.
“Where could he be?” It may have been a ridiculous question, to expect this man to know, but he jerked slightly, and then looked again towards me, seeming eager almost to tell me.
“Rumor says, that to this day, that his… his ghost roams about the Thornfield estate, moaning and wailing. But one name in particular, Rochester’s ghost will just keep repeating. Jane, Jane, Jane. Well at least that’s what they say, the ones who claim observance of the event. It’s said that he is searching for the girl who left him, that his cries carry for miles.”
I started strongly at this, for it was then I remembered the unearthly cries I heard while considering St. John’s proposal. I had rushed outside, in agony and conflict, afraid of my eternal betrayal of Rochester’s love, when I heard the cries, carrying over the moors. Could it be possible? Could Rochester be stuck on this plane, wailing and waiting for true love to resolve itself?
My thoughts were abruptly broken apart by my host’s laugh.
“Of course, it’s all just myth, just a story to tell. I do love the sensation it causes,” he cajoled merrily, but to me, though not at all his fault, offensively. It was then I understood, that this was all just a thrilling tale for him, a thing he talked about to send the shivers up his guest’s spines, tales of the unnatural and supernatural. But this wasn’t just superstition for me. I knew the supernatural, the unreal, and the strange existed, and now, it was involved in my life more than ever before. I trembled at the prospect before me, but I knew it was something I must do.
“I’ll need your best transportation,” I nearly ordered. My host was surprised at my sudden bluntness, but he replied none the less.
“We have a very handsome chaise.”
“Very well. I shall take it immediately, with the driver, at double the normal rate.”
“If you will, ma’am, but I’d be careful at this time of night. Strange things wander the land when the sun sets,” my host warned ominously as he rose from his chair, and I suspected he made a mockery of my fright. However, looking up at his visage, I detected no discernible sign of him being in jest. "I’d better send someone along.”
He paused, as if on a second thought. “Actually, I’ll do best to come with you. I’ll be getting the chaise ready.”
I at once tried to dissuade him, but he was adamant in accompanying me on what he called a dangerous night. “I couldn’t sleep well, knowing that I’d let a young lass like you gallivant off into the dark alone.”
And with that, he was gone, leaving me alone with my thoughts. No tears were to come yet to my eyes at the fate of my master Rochester; they could come later. I couldn’t let myself become prone to weakness, not while Rochester still might need me. I steeled my nerves, and newfound resolve bolstered my spirits. I rose and made for the prepared chaise.
What seemed an eternity later, we were back at the humbled remains of Thornfield Hall. My host and now guardian understood I needed some time alone to deal with my past, and let me go on ahead, once he had ascertained the relevant safety of the grounds. I walked through the gate posts, and viewed what once was grand. I was inwardly decrying the decay of the fine mansion, when I heard a slight moaning. It got stronger and stronger, and peering down the path to the Hall, I saw something staggering out, pale and with an eerie glow around. My heart leaped rapturously at the sight of Rochester, earthy or unearthly, and I began to run blissfully toward him. He, the ghost of Rochester, alighted his eyes on me also, and at once began to limp as hurriedly as he could toward me. We were almost in arm’s reach when a loud roar passed by my head and into Rochester. He stopped, shock on his ghostly face, and crumbled into ashes. No words could describe the desolation that entered into my heart that second. I heard something approach, but was too dazed to notice at first. He stepped in front of me, viewing the misty remains of the ghost, with a smoking pistol held upright in his right hand.
“That was a tricky one. Couldn’t get him out of his hole. I guess he had to have some incentive. True, undying love works, I guess.” He looked at my pale, flabbergasted face, and offered his hand. “St. Constantine, Professional Ghost Hunter, at your service.”
It was my Host!
If he could stop running to think clearly, the first thing he would reflect on would be the irony of the situation. The hunter becoming the hunted in but a moment? Classic. What else could be fitting for him? He was just too good at this game.
But of course, he had no time for such things. He had to focus on running, and only running, even as his body began to ache, and his breath came out in short, forced puffs.
Somewhere, he heard a high-pitched squeal, and the rustling of people running through the undergrowth. Perhaps the hunter had found another victim to chase? It was about time.
Relieved, he jogged to a stop near the stream, chest burning, breathing rapidly. He squatted down, hoping the burning in the legs would stop. Hopefully, his pursuer was distracted enough to not look for him. For a while, at least.
Maybe I could even have a drink, he thought, suddenly aware of his dry throat, but no, I’ve been told the water is absolutely filthy. Wouldn’t want to get sick.
He was shook out of his thoughts with a cry in the distance.
“Come out, come out wherever you are! You can run, but you can’t hide!” The voice was girly and high pitched, but the surely malicious glee sent a shiver down his spine.
“That’s just cliched! And silly! And totally stupid! " he shouted back. Physically, against the one chasing him, well, he could not even touch her. But verbally, maybe he could do something. Start an argument, maybe.
The rustling stopped for a few moments, but started again, this time getting close to him. He had misjudged – she was much closer than he had thought.
Darn it. You just revealed your location for an insult.
He pushed himself off the ground, eyes darting around for an escape route. Somewhere, in the back of his mind, he registered that he was trembling. There! A bridge. He sprinted towards it.
A high pitched giggle resounded from behind him.
He pushed himself, despite the swiftly growing ache in his legs (if only he had not rested, then his legs would be numb by now). Twenty feet to the bridge. Then ten feet. Now a few more strides…
If I make it over, he told himself, then I can stop running. I will be safe from…
He leaped on the bridge, but over shot. A brief feeling of weightlessness, and for a moment he thought he was flying away. Then he was sliding across the wooden boards. He felt a stinging sensation on his left knee, surely he was injured, but that would not stop him!
Ah, who am I kidding. I’m dead meat, pretty much.
Then, he was aware of the echoing footsteps of his pursuer behind him. She was walking slowly now, enjoying the moment. Well of course. It was very rare for her to catch him. He could not help but chuckle a bit. The roles would be reversed again, he supposed.
The young girl he had been running from for the last few minutes tapped him lightly on the shoulder.
“Tag! You’re it!”
Derelict Red First Winner Nov 28, 2015 to Dec 5, 2015
The Felling of the Lambert Tree
He rushed into the storage closet and slammed the door behind him. A thump and a shriek followed close behind, as he fearfully held it shut.
The man frantically tried locking the door, disoriented by the dark, small room, and finally found the bolt.
He gasped in relief, and fell backwards onto the floor, disturbing an assortment of brooms and buckets. Cautiously, he braced his feet against the door, just in case.
Now he could not hear them anymore. Either them or his friends. But he knew that they were still out there. They had just grown silent.
His gun held in a white, tight grip, he gradually relaxed. A small, night light shed a pale blue on the room. The man looked down at his uniform, brushing the nametag.
Sergeant James Hynes. A decorated police officer here in Chicago, honored with the Lambert Tree medal, the city’s highest award for bravery. But none of that mattered now. Sgt. James glanced at his gun. Almost useless. They were not taught how to shoot at something faster than the eye could track.
The good men and women of the Chicago Police Department, responding to an urgent call from Our Lady of the Angels Catholic School, had rushed in heroically to stop the violence. They were cut down almost instantly.
As his adrenaline faded, Sgt. James felt the doom and the sorrow sinking in. A tear dropped from his eye, onto his proud badge. He wiped the salty residue off his cheek with the barrel of his still tightly grasped gun. Just yesterday, he remembered his friend Sgt. Foley, telling a slightly off-colored but good humored joke about Irishmen, who James was ethnically part of. Now Foley was dead. Sgt. Jannison, a hearty, fiery woman, from New York, and her fierce debates with him about Chicago being the second best city. He won, by pointedly asking why she was here then. She was also dead. He saw it happen.
As he remembered his dearest friend and partner, Sgt. Kramer, two more tears fell. James let the tears dry. Sgt. Kramer, who had saved his life in a gang shootout, one of the most intense moments of both their lives. A loyal friend, a quiet joker, who stuck with him through his near divorce with Jame’s wife, Shauna. James had not seen Kramer die, but he had heard him screaming. James had left him, running away.
His body shuddered with dry sobs. This was not supposed to happen. This was the economic boom of Chicago. Everything was going well. James had a great wife, who he had stuck with through the constant thin. Amazing job, amazing friends. He had been a hero. Now, he had torn that down in the face of this terror.
Sgt. James gazed bitterly at the Lambert Tree. A lie. He ripped it off, and hurled it into the door. It bounced off and landed on his boot. He stared at it, his eyes dry now.
A sudden, simple thought hit him. He remembered the plans they had made, him and his fellow sergeants. They were going to have a potluck next Sunday. Foley, Jannison, Kramer were all going to be there. James would have walked out of the house when they would arrive, with Shauna on his arm, and welcomed them with cold beers. Next, when they were all sitting comfortably out back, in the green yard, with meat on the grill, they would have launched into a spirited discussion about the new Mayor, Richard J. Daley. And many other things. When they bade each other good night, Sgt. James would have gone to bed with his wife, and had a restful sleep, ready for a new day at work, with his partner Kramer.
A thump against the door. James jumped in fright. It left, skittering away, and he breathed easily. But now, a new sound. Something from far away and above, moving noisily along metal. He listened intently. James realized what it was, and took a deep breath. His tears were done, and his fear had hollowed him out. He heard the sound getting closer, and closed his eyes. They had found the air vents, the large, open tubes which supplied air to every single room.
Sgt. James shuddered lightly, then looked at the gun in his hand.
Korrigan 庙畜 FIRST OFFICIAL JUDGE Nov 28, 2015
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