Julie sighed as she rolled to a stop behind the Warren Mansion and shifted her small blue sedan into park. The place was much bigger than it had looked in the pictures Mr. Chaffee had sent her and she realized with a sinking feeling that it bore a disturbing resemblance to the house in the movie "Psycho". If she hadn't needed the money so bad she would never have agreed to come here. Spending the holiday season in the middle of nowhere watching a dreary old mansion was the last thing Julie wanted to do. The nine thousand dollars it paid made it more bearable though, and Julie ran a hand over the bulge in her pocket to reassure herself the cash was still safely tucked inside. If she lost the money she would be penniless. She'd closed out her empty bank account months ago after having to cover a bad check with funds she really couldn't spare.
It hadn't helped when her crappy job working for a second rate realtor had fallen through. Two weeks before Mr. Schwartz had called her into his office to give her a long speech about how much the market had slowed and how hard it was for him to justify the extra expense of an accountant. He'd managed to fire her without ever actually saying it. Julie was proud of herself for not breaking down right there in his cluttered office. She'd made it three blocks before the tears came.
Julie had noticed the ad for a house sitter as she was scanning the employment section of the paper the next day. Thinking she had nothing to lose, she'd called the number, and had her first conversation of many with Mr. Stephen Chaffee, senior partner a Chaffee, Gideon, and Smith. In the following days she'd filled out countless papers, and waited nervously as a background check was done even though she knew it would be clean. Julie had never been in any sort of trouble besides the financial kind. Three days ago Mr. Chaffee had called to let her know she had been hired and just like that Miss Juliet Gable was in the house sitting business.
Her employer, a Mr. James Warren, was at that moment on an extended tour of Europe. Must be nice, she thought to her self as she opened the door to her car and stepped out into the cold November air. Julie pulled her tatty wool coat tighter around her shoulders as the chill wind bit harshly at her skin. With another breathy sigh she turned to look at her old car, packed to the roof with the few things she had. Her whole life, reduced to what could fit into a ten year old Honda Civic. Now she was thoroughly depressed.
"I need a drink," she mumbled to herself as she eyed the car's crowded trunk then dragged out an old duffle. "I can worry about the rest tomorrow."
Julie plodded across the graveled drive wearily, having to lean sideways to balance the weight of the duffle, and headed for the door to what she assumed was the kitchen. Mr. Chaffee had given her a packet containing the keys to the house, pictures, and a long letter that included instructions for the furnace. The letter had also said his client didn't employ any staff so she would be alone in the house for the duration of her stay. Julie snorted, remembering how stiff and solemn the old solicitor was. She would bet money she didn't have that the solemn Mr. Chaffee could win a staring contest with petrified wood.
The thought brought a wry smile to Julie's face. Then a sharp gust of wind whipped her hair into her eyes and she stumbled over the short brick step in front of the door, cracking her big toe painfully. With an irritated growl she dug into her coat pocket for the house's keys. The last thing she needed was to fall and break something out here in the middle of nowhere. Julie couldn't recall if there was a telephone in the house or not but with her luck there probably wasn't, she was lucky the ancient place even had electricity. After fumbling through the keys for what seemed like an eternity in the freezing cold she finally managed to find the right one. She jammed it into the lock and heard a satisfyingly loud click as it turned.
As Julie hurried inside, her bag caught on the frame of the door, pulling her shoulder back sharply. She tossed the duffle down on the floor with an angry shout, suddenly furious at the world and its blatant unfairness. She paused for a moment, her breath billowing out in white steamy clouds and waited for her flash of temper to cool before turning to push the door shut against the freezing wind. Julie knew her anger was stupid but was fed up with her own clumsiness, with her situation, with everything. As she peered out the door's window fluffy white flakes of snow began to drift past the thick pain of glass. That topped it all off nicely. If the roads got bad she wouldn't be able to go anywhere and of course she hadn't thought to pick up any groceries on the way.
"Now I really need a drink."
Julie wondered if she should be concerned that she was talking to herself, but as the oppressing silence of the mansion settled over her, she decided talking to her self wasn't all that unreasonable given the circumstances. If she started having entire conversations with herself, then she would worry. For a few blissful seconds as she watched the snow fall, her restless mind cleared, emptying completely of her constant worries. Then, as suddenly as it had arrived, the moment passed and all her troubles came flooding back with a vengeance.
Julie turned and leaned back against the door, letting her body slide down the cold hard panel until she was tucked into a tight ball. Suddenly overwhelmed by the path her life had taken, she laid her head on her knees as tears welled in her eyes, spilling unheeded down her face. How had she gotten herself into this mess? In a flicker of distant memory she saw her Mom and Dad's smiling faces as she opened a present from them on her nineteenth birthday. She could remember feeling happy and loved that day, the only worries plaguing her then had been whether she should to go with her parents on their trip to Florida, or stay home alone and study over the holidays. It was her first year in college and she wanted so badly to make her Mom and Dad proud after they had worked so hard to get her there.
In the end she'd decided to stay home, giving them some much needed time alone. Then the plane they were on had crashed in a field outside Rock Hill, South Carolina, killing everyone on board, including her parents. That was when all the light went out of Julie's world. She remembered the police knocking on the door, the distant look on the face of the officer as he told her in his flat emotionless voice that her parents were dead. He'd said he was sorry for her loss, but Julie knew he'd only told her that because that was what he was supposed to say. He hadn't known how generous a man her father was or about her mother's silly habit of humming tunelessly when she cleaned their house. He'd had no connection to her parents at all and having to tell some strange girl that her parents had been smashed into oblivion by several tons of passenger jet was only another meaningless stop on his endless rounds.
After their funeral Julie had surrounded herself with the routine of attending classes, studying, and sleeping. She gave up what little social life she'd had before and slowly withdrew into her own isolated world. It was just over a year before she started having money troubles, before she'd had to sell her childhood home to pay her ever increasing tuition. Soon she was taking out loans to pay her bills, been forced to give up her dorm room for a rundown apartment across town from the campus. Things kept spiraling further and further out of control and even though Julie had finally managed to earn a degree in accounting it hadn't made much difference in the end. The high paying jobs she'd envisioned her schooling would obtain for her just hadn't been there.
Her Mom and Dad had always said she could do whatever she wanted if she just worked hard enough but it seemed like the harder she worked the worse things got. Julie wiped the tears from her cheeks with a sigh. Self pity won't help either, she thought with resignation.
Forcing herself to her feet, Julie grabbed her bag and headed out of the kitchen to claim a room for the night. She didn't care where it was just as long as there was a bed in it. Everything else could wait until morning. Julie wandered through one enormous room after another, searching for the stairs which she knew led to the private wing of the house. She had carefully studied all the pictures Mr. Chaffee had given her but in the dark nothing seemed familiar. Half an hour later and completely exhausted, Julie finally found a stairway leading up.
The long narrow stair ended in a dim corridor lined with closed doors. With a tired sigh Julie flipped a mental coin and turned to the right. She tried the first door only to find it locked and not willing to waist time on finding the key she moved on to the next. It too was locked, as was the next, and the next. Julie's exhaustion was starting to play tricks on her hearing as she wandered listlessly from door to door looking for an open room. She kept hearing a tapping noise and what sounded like a man's voice coming from somewhere nearby but knew it had to be her imagination. Hadn't Mr. Chaffee said his client didn't retain servants?
Julie shook her head and reached out to try the next door, nearly moving on before realizing that the doorknob had turned without resistance in her hand. Pausing for a moment to thank the powers that be she pushed the door open and fumbled for a light switch. When at last she found one, the glare from the unaccustomed light forced her to shade her eyes as she stepped over the threshold.
Julie took a few steps inside, pausing to let her vision adjust. Her eyes widened in disbelief as she took in the sight of her shelter for the night. A huge four post bed covered with a heavy brocade silk comforter sat in the center of the wall to her left, easily the biggest piece of furniture Julie had ever seen though it only took up a small portion of space overall. Two massive armoires loomed to her left, keeping silent vigil over the quiet space. A full sized leather couch and several matching chairs clustered around an empty fireplace to her right. Beside the bed were nightstands that looked to be made of the same dark wood as the bed and the walls were practically hidden under an assortment of paintings.
The entire room was so opulently decorated that Julie was almost afraid to touch anything. In the corner, on the right hand wall, was an ornately carved door, and just opposite on the left wall was its twin. Heavy cream colored curtains filled the space between and Julie was sure they concealed huge windows or doors leading to a balcony. She strode to the center of the room, her duffle forgotten on the floor behind her, and turned around trying to take in the splendor. Maybe staying here wouldn't be so bad after all, she thought as she tentatively sat on the bed. She sank back onto the soft mattress with a sigh, thinking seriously of sleeping just as she lay.
With a groan Julie levered herself up from the welcoming bed and grabbed her duffle to pull out a thin t-shirt, a bag with a tooth brush and tube of paste, and the tattered old feather pillow she'd slept with since she was a child. Julie tossed the old pillow onto the bed and without thinking she headed to the door on her left, assuming it would be a bathroom. She was right, though not like any bathroom she'd ever been in before. The tub was a marble monstrosity and there wasn't a single surface that wasn't covered in stylized tile unless you counted the ceiling, which Julie didn't. To tired to admire it, she quickly brushed her teeth, made her toilet, and changed into her old t-shirt, tossing her clothes into a pile behind the door so she could pick them up later.
The air in the room was cool, but not so much so that it bothered Julie, she always slept better when it was cool. Julie padded across the thick carpet, enjoying the soft feel on her tired feet, and turned out the light. She turned back the bed covers and climbed in, curling into a ball until her body heat could warm the cool sheets. With a half moan, half sigh, she stretched out onto her stomach and tucked her old pillow in the crook of her arm. For a few minutes her muscles twitched as they relaxed then slowly sleep overtook her and her breathing slowed to a quiet whisper.
Julie woke to a persistent tapping noise coming from somewhere close by, and frowned in irritation as the last wisps of the wonderful dream she'd been having slipped away. She turned over onto her back, staring at the ceiling of the room in exasperation when the tapping stopped. When she didn't hear it again after a few minutes of listening she closed her eyes and snuggled into the hollow her body had made in the mattress. Just as she was nearing sleep again the tapping returned. With a growl Julie flung back the comforter and rolled out of bed, coming close to jumping back into the toasty warmth of the sheets when the chill in the air hit her bare skin.
"Whew, it must really have snowed out there to be so cold in here," she mumbled under her breath as she pulled a blanket from the bed to wrap around her shoulders. Julie cocked her ear, trying to locate the direction the tapping noise came from. With a start she realized it was coming from the window of her room. Fed up with the noise, and its interruption of her sleep, Julie strode to the curtains. She lifted them aside, ready and willing to do battle with whatever was making the noise.
When she was confronted with the angry face of a strange man instead of the tree branch she'd been expecting Julie panicked, tripping over the blanket she'd wrapped around herself in her backward scramble. She fell with her arms pin wheeling wildly, her heart racing. Julie hit the thick carpet with an audible thump, knocking the air from her lungs. She lay gasping, her breath coming out in a thick fog as the temperature of the room fell to near freezing. Julie stared wide eyed as the curtains to her room billowed gently, the vaporous figure of a man passing through them with little resistance.
The shade floated toward her trembling form as she curled into a tight ball on the floor, clutching the blanket to her chest as if it could shield her in some way from the impossible specter. Julie could feel a crackling tension surrounding her as the shade stopped only a few inches from her bare feet. She could make out a pair of hard glittering eyes glaring down at her in an unyielding expression. The face from which the eyes stared was set in a callous and stony grimace which only heightened her fear. The wraith's body solidified for a moment, then dissolved into a grey vapor, but not before Julie could see just how large the form floating above her was.
"How come you to be in this house, girl?"
The hollow voice seemed to come from every direction, filling Julie's ears with its resonating echo. She whimpered softly, too terrified to speak.
"You would do well to answer me child."
The obvious threat in the wraith's voice overcame Julie's fear long enough for her to stammer out a few words.
"I'm j...just watching the h...house," Julie knew she sounded feeble, but she just couldn't get her tongue to form the words properly.
The specter glowered at her, sending tremors racing up her spine. It floated quietly above her for interminable seconds before collapsing in upon itself. Before Julie could let out the shriek of fear that had been building in her throat she was abruptly surrounded by a murky cloud of numbing cold and lifted high into the air. Her scream finally broke loose as her mind filled with the menacing laughter of her unearthly visitor. The shrill sound was cut short as Julie's struggling body was dropped without warning onto the bed.
Her wrists were seized by hands as cold as iron and a heavy weight settled over her, pressing her down into the mattress. Julie gasped as a pair of cold lips brushed against her neck, raising goose bumps on her flesh. Her mind reeled in confusion, unable to deal with what was taking place. Her body tensed as an icy breath whispered in her ear.
"You should not have come here."
Julie had known that the moment she saw the face in the window.
"Please, let me go. I'll leave right now I promise. Just don't hurt me," she begged, tears streaming out of her eyes, "I didn't mean any harm. Please."
"Ah, but it is too late now little one, and I claim you as my own," the disembodied voice laughed, the sound a harsh grating in Julie's ears.
She felt her arms pulled high above her head, straining her shoulders painfully, and she whimpered in terror as her legs were forced apart roughly. The wraith's touch was bitterly cold as his hands wandered unchecked over her body, grasping and kneading her flesh. Julie felt utterly helpless, locked within her own body while she was assaulted mercilessly. Hard icy hands closed over her tender breasts, squeezing them until they ached, her thin shirt offering no protection. Julie sobbed openly as her panties were ripped roughly away, leaving welts where the material had cut into her skin. She began to fight wildly against her disembodied assailant, struggling to pull herself from underneath his pressing weight. With an ominous growl the specter struck her a ringing blow to her temple, sending bright sparks across her vision.
"Your feeble thrashing will serve you not, girl," he told her in an empty voice as his steely fingers trailed across her thighs to her inner leg. Julie arched her back in agony when they found her core and pushed inside her roughly. She suffered his pitiless violation in silence, biting her lip to keep from crying out in terror. Then Julie felt teeth closing over a nipple, biting it cruelly, and couldn't hold back her shout of pain.
Then his fingers withdrew and Julie felt the weight of a frigid phallus pressing against her inner thigh. She panicked then, fighting with all her strength to escape the malicious being that held her in his grasp. With a chilling laugh the wraith plunged his member deep into her unwilling body. Julie's mouth fell open in a silent shriek of agony, her eyes rolling back into her head as the pain washed over her. Over and over again he thrust deep into her body, filling her to her womb, grinding his unearthly member into her abused flesh without mercy.
Julie's already battered mind fragmented under the stress of her nightmarish rape. Her body went limp, offering no resistance to the punishment being visited upon it by the ghastly wraith. The cruel violation continued unabated, unheeded by her shattered consciousness.
"I will take many pleasures with you, little uninvited guest. There is no ending to the depths of pain which I can show you."
The still silence outside the house was broken for a moment by a cruel echoing laugh as the indifferent wind blew flurries of pristine snow through the air in intricate swirling patterns.
"When do you expect to return to the estate James?" Stephen Chaffee asked his oldest client and friend as he took a sip of the thirty year old Balvine scotch in his glass and rolled it across his tongue, "Excellent vintage."
"Yes, always preferred that one myself," replied James Warren, lifting his head a fraction to signal his agreement, "I think the day after tomorrow will be sufficient, don't you? She arrived yesterday, you said?"
Stephen nodded and took another sip of his scotch. James knew without doubt his old friend and attorney could tell him precisely when the girl had arrived at his estate, but Stephen knew he couldn't help asking.
"You are sure that no one will come looking for her when she doesn't resurface?" James already knew the answer to that as well, but again he couldn't help the question. Stephen put it down to the infirmities of age, for in his youth James had never asked.