“Elderwood Manor: Realm of Secrets”

(The estimated reading time for this is 3 minutes)

You know it’s out there.  Something in the darkness beyond the trees.

You’ve spent quiet, maybe even breathless, moments studying the moonlit spaces scarred by claw-like branches of the winter forest.  You’re looking for a hint of that unexplained shape you spotted out of the corner of your eye.  But you don’t really want to see anything hideous.  You hope to God that unspeakable thing isn’t out there.

But still you look. Don’t you?

Pulse throbbing, you look for the thing you fear.

It’s okay.  I do it, too.  You’re not sick.  At least, you’re no sicker than I am.  (Which, by the estimation of some, doesn’t put you in golden company, my friend.)  But really, it’s okay.

We study the shadows.

It’s okay for us, as long as we can step safely back inside and close the door on the night-time world.

What about the characters of Elderwood Manor?  What about poor Bruce Davenport and his dear, 4-year-old son Cody?

Well, we’ve made sure they can’t just step inside and leave the darkness behind. A brooding force gathers around them. Does something truly lurk in the halls of the manor, or in the woods beyond that isolated home?  Are they simply the haunts of his past, or something more?  No need to answer the questions here. It’s enough to say something is making them ill-at-ease.  They stay because they’re trapped.  Why? Well, you’ll have to read the book for details, but suffice to say, he’s strapped, dead-broke, and simply has nowhere else to go but back to this place, his childhood home.

The old “return to the dark roots of our past” theme. Yep, this is a guy you’ve known.  Maybe you’ve been him. I sure have. Penniless, out of luck, plumbing the depths of a last desperate hope to get on your feet, never quite giving up, never quite letting the rising tide of hopelessness suck you down into the undertow of ruin.

Our pasts.  Boy, they really come up a lot in horror fiction, don’t they?  Seems like almost all of us have something we want to leave behind.  Often that thing has to do with our families—something we’ve done to them, or something they’ve done to us. Maybe it’s even worse. Maybe it’s something we’ve done for which we cannot be forgiven—something for which we cannot forgive ourselves.

Old houses.  They’re a recurring theme, too. They are the husks of our lives. Or, in this case, old manors deep in the woods, isolated from the world at large. Kingdoms of silence, realms of secrets and brooding shadows.  Houses haunted by the ghosts of our pasts, real or imagined, tend to rise up from bleak hillsides and twisted groves in horror stories dating back centuries.

Yes, seasoned horror fans will find some familiar territory here. Still, we’ve tried to do something different with Elderwood Manor.  As with every story, the motivations of the characters drive the plot, and every character has his or her own story to tell.  Bruce Davenport and Cody are no different.

We hope you’ll find them easy company. We hope their destination, and what they find there, makes you uneasy. That’s the idea, after all.

Of course, no matter what Bruce finds in the manor, you will always be able to close the covers of the book, or shut off your e-reader, curl into bed, and drift off to dreamland.  You’ll be safe.

Then again, maybe you’ll close your eyes, something will rustle outside your window, or thump against the front door, and you’ll think again about those unnamable things lurking in the dark. And maybe you’ll sit up, breathless, eyes on formless movement beyond the windows, not really wanting to see what you’re looking for.

We study the shadows. We look for the things we fear.

Our sincere hope, of course, is that you find something you fear in Elderwood Manor.

And we hope that shape outside is really just your imagination.  A trick of the moonlight and darkness.

We’re not heartless, after all.

Most of the time.

© 2014 – 2016, DarkFuse & individual contributors. All rights reserved.

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