tagErotic HorrorGhost Pains

Ghost Pains


A note to the reader. Categorizing this story as Erotic Horror is going to piss off some category purists. Elements of the story include lesbian sex, ghosts that might not exist, bdsm, a medical / milk fetish and drugs. I don't know how to fit my stories neatly into categories.

Regarding format, Literotica formatting eliminates extra spacing. As a marker between scenes, / / / and \ \ \ appear, usually signifying a jump in time. Thanks for giving it a go. All the best.

Ghost Pains

My divorce came through - a formality, since Harry and I had been estranged, contentiously, for more than a year. My cousin Clara's unexpected invitation arrived by post the very next day. She owned a country house an hour and fifteen minutes north of London, and offered it to me as a refuge, a place tucked between hedges and rolling hills, out of the way and out of sight of neighbors. A way station, she called it in her note. A chance for me to soak in the English countryside, and bask in blessed solitude, before returning to the States, unentangled, husband free, and bound for a new publisher. The last paragraph of the note inside the padded envelope read:

Finally, please accept my invitation as a divorce present,
from one disappointed woman to another. Please don't
think me presumptuous in offering the house to you, or
find it odd that the offer comes so belatedly in our
relationship. I have been a distant cousin in many ways,
it is true. Call this my way of making it up to you. Please,
do accept. Stay as long as you like.

A heavy key slid from the envelope and rang on the tile floor, an antique skeleton key made of brass, designed artfully, with heft. Clara wrote that everything was ready: all that I had to do was arrive and I would find the house irresistible. My lease in London was up; most of my worldly possessions were already packed and en route overseas to an apartment that wouldn't be fit to occupy for another few weeks. Clara's invitation came like a god send. Eden's call. My situation must have stirred her sympathy. A divorce present, one disappointed woman to another.

Until the past six months or so Clara had been a very distant cousin. When we first met, the year before I moved to London to be with Harry, she seemed discreetly reclusive in the English way. After she declined my invitations to dinner, to tea, to a flick, to a night at a favorite pub, to anything, I thought her downright cold and at times even creepy, morose. It seemed odd even now, that she hadn't rung me up to extend the invitation, but had sent it by post, out of the blue. My attempts to ring her in response went unreturned, though I left several messages.

With the note and the key, the envelope contained one last item, a page of directions that took me through a village a few kilometers from the house, recommending that I visit The Kelsea, a pub, for final directions, a local clarification of the way. I arrived on a drizzly afternoon, and found the pub all but empty. Something by Ravel was playing. A quizzical look passed between the two women behind the bar as I introduced myself, and asked about the road to Clara's home.

The younger of the two, a pale and slight woman, said, "Do you mean the Hoyle House?"

"A cousin owns it. I haven't heard it referred to by that name."

The older woman had an interesting face, ruddy, with intelligent, blue eyes. "Are you Mrs. Jory, the author?"

"I am."

"Very pleased to meet you. I'm Anna.

We shook hands. I liked her touch.

"You do know that the weather's changing?" said the younger. I thought it an odd question. Something about her overall appearance was odd too, though I wasn't sure what.

"What have you heard?" I asked.

"Rain storms. Thunder."

"Then I shall have to hurry," I said.

That quizzical look returned.

"What is it?" I said.

"Well, it's a tricky way, miss. Easy to get turned around, especially in nasty weather."

Anna said, "I can offer you a room."

"I plan to stay at the house. I'm visiting for a fortnight or so."

Their looks became doubtful. Anna wrote her name and number on a card and slid it across the counter.

"Take this, please. You have a mobile? Ring me, if you must."

"But why?" I asked.

She seemed to hesitate. The younger said, "Should you get lost, miss. It is a tricky way, as I said, and some people get nervous in the strange weather."

Nervous in the weather? I thanked them and left, taking the card more for courtesy than concern. There was nothing frightening to me about lightening and thunder, or about mysterious landscapes, or for that matter, mist on the moors or baying hounds or slavering werewolves - or any such fantasy their evident misgivings were meant to evoke.

Anna followed me as far as the door of the pub, as though she had something further to say, but then she raised her hand, signifying a change of mind, and went back inside. It was then I realized what had caught my attention about the younger one's appearance. While we were talking, a small wet spot had blossomed on the fabric of her blouse over one nipple.

At least their directions were sound. After fifteen minutes of left and right turns, along narrow lanes, lined with hedges, seeming like a maze, I passed through a stone and iron gate, then drove the winding road another quarter-kilometer uphill to the house.

It was somewhat larger than I had expected, tucked between low hummocks. Smoke curled from both chimneys, but a ring of the bell when I arrived brought no one to the door.

The skeleton key let me in. A typed note propped on the kitchen table bid me welcome and told me to make myself entirely at home. It promised that Greta, a member of the domestic staff, would stop by in the evening to see that I was properly settled.

/ / /

The grey sky opened briefly before twilight and brought some color to the day. I took a brisk tour of the grounds and found the grass high and the garden shed listing. Across a field, under some wide trees, stood a small house, all shuttered up. The estate was going to seed. Within half an hour, the sky closed again and brought the night on quickly. I went inside, anticipating rain, and was surprised, though pleased, to find a young woman waiting for me in the kitchen.

"You must be Greta."

"I am."

I introduced myself, shaking her hand. She wanted to call me 'Mum," her version of "Ma'am," while I preferred that she use my first name. We settled, as a joke, on "Miss."

"I didn't hear a car," I said. "Did you come by foot?"

"I did."

"In the rain?"

"Between drops."

She was blonde and pretty, with a heart shaped face and hair worn up in back. Young enough to seem girlish, though mature and witty in manner. I liked her immediately. We toured the house first, then she showed me the maintenance features: the fuse box, water heater, the pump, the location of the furnace, all the basics. Half of the house was closed and draped against dust, but the active rooms had character and comfort.

"It's rather old, I'm afraid," she said, "but we do love it."

"Greta, was this estate once called Hoyle House, or such?"

"An age ago. Late in the Nineteenth Century, Miss. This was a charitable hospital for women."

"A sanatorium?"

"If you like, Miss. Owned and administered by Dr. Hoyle."

"Was Dr. Hoyle male or female, do you know?"

"Dr. Hoyle was a pioneering woman in medicine, Miss. Shall I make up your room?"

"Do I get to choose which one?"

"Of course. Whichever you'd like."

"The large one on the right, at the head of the stairs."

"That's the loveliest, the most interesting one."

We went up together.

"There is gas light, if you want it," she said, "or electric. And an electric hearth for heat. The nights can be chilly."

Despite my protestation, she made up the bed without my help, turning the coverlet down. Then she said, "I was instructed to show you this."

She walked to the wall opposite the foot of the bed and pressed the seam between two framed panels. With a click they opened outward, revealing a closet containing some hanging clothes and, as its centerpiece, an antique Chinese chest of drawers.

"That looks authentic," I said.

"It is, and quite priceless, one might say."

"May I touch it?"

"Of course. Please explore."

"Is there an alarm system, Greta? Security for the house?"

"Oh, it's quite safe. The house is quite safe."

"Professionals would find items like this very quickly."

She regarded me for a moment before saying, "No one will come here, Miss."

"Why do you say it like that?"

"The locals say nonsensical things about this place."

"I stopped for directions at a pub. The women made intimations . . ."

"That things happen here. That the grounds are haunted."

"Not quite that. Clara never mentioned such a thing."

"Mind, you may hear odd sounds throughout the day."

"Old houses are full of creaks and groans."

"Exactly. Silly. Superstitions. You get that around here. Attracts tourists to the area."

"Do you believe that the house is haunted?" I asked.

"Miss, as well you know, I'm sure, there is always a natural explanation for occurrences, assuming people are willing to look for it."

"Yes, but have you seen or felt anything?"

"It's all in the mind, Miss."

We heard a low, rolling boom, the passing of a commercial jet airliner above the clouds, like a prescient thunder. Greta lifted a long night dress from the rack in the closet and displayed it briefly.

"You are welcome to wear whatever you'd like," she said. "Everything in here is of rare quality, as I'm sure you recognize. The chest contains a few items you will find no where else, I assure you."

Greta slid the top drawer open. It contained a leather bound journal, embossed in the lower right corner with my cousin's name.

"Her writing?" I said.

"It is, Miss. And it's quite extraordinary that you have been invited to read it. There's more."

"More? I'm overwhelmed as it is."

"At your leisure, Miss."

\ \ \

Another low boom rolled by the house. Not a jetliner this time, but actual thunder. As we walked downstairs, rain drops struck the roof and windowpanes like tapping fingers. Greta picked up an umbrella in the foyer as though she was about to leave.

"I hope you are comfortable," she said. "The heater upstairs will keep you toasty, and the journal, I am sure, will keep you entertained. Tomorrow is my day off. I believe Mrs. Lear will check in on you."

"Where on earth are you going in the rain?" I said. "If you must go home, I shall drive you."

"Oh, no, Miss," she said. "You oughtn't go out in such weather."

"Neither can you. You must stay. I insist."

"Perhaps I can read a bit, until the weather passes?"

"It will be far too late by then. We can keep company. We'll make you up a bed and I'll drive you in the morning. Ring home and stay the night."

/ / /

She agreed to stay. We shared a simple meal, mostly bread and cheese, with a bottle of wine, and talked until the bottle was done. She had to be up early, having commitments on her day off, and the wine had made her sleepy. We walked upstairs together, to the small bedroom across from my own. I said good night with a certain reluctance.

"Thank you for the company," I said.

"You're very kind," she said at the door. "Just knock, if you need anything. Goodnight, Miss."

\ \ \

Before slipping into bed myself, I had to have a second look inside that intriguing closet. Who wouldn't? Among the hanging clothes was a floor length night dress, an antique button down made of cream silk. I put it on, and the feeling of being nude under its airy texture sailed beyond delicious.

One delight led to another. I opened the slim top drawer of the chest, removed the leather bound journal, flipped through a few pages and caught phrases. . . . a profound relaxation . . . pleasure in a dream trance so vivid . . . my arms still in the sleeves . . . sinking, not falling, sinking through open space into a warmer world . . .

The chest had a second shallow drawer. I slid it open and gasped with pleasure. Inside lay an oval tray of polished copper, finely tooled with intricate Asian patterns. Upon the tray was a long Chinese lacquer box, exquisitely wrought in shades of red and with an inlay of black scroll. Beside the box was a small oil lamp of old glass on a woven wire frame (containing oil!), and two other objects: a long needle with a teak handle and a taper to put the lamp out. The fine workmanship, the patinas of age . . . each object seemed to be a genuine treasure in itself. My skin tingled as I lay fingertips on them. The drawer had power, palpable power, with an erotic charge. I knew instantly that it was the true subject of Clara's journal.

Would the box hold treasure within treasure? I had to see, and lifted the lid. The contents were electrifying. On the silk lining lay a long ivory pipe stem, yellow with age and veined with minute black lines. A small metal bowl lay waiting to be fixed to it. There was a simple copper box with a tight lid, secure in a formed pocket in the lining, and a spherical sculpture, somewhat smaller than a fist, also of carved ivory. Between the pipe and the box alone I felt dizzy with excitement. These things were from another age, genuine artifacts of the Chinese opium trade. Museum quality, from a China long before Mao. Still in use. Clara's most private toys.

A faint odor, acrid and sweet, wafted from the lining. How ever did she acquire these things? More to the moment, did the copper box still hold opium? Perhaps it did — why else would I be invited to discover all of this?

Wanting to delay and heighten the anticipation of that greater discovery, I picked up the sculpted ivory sphere. In the subtle carving I saw the soles of feet and a woman's hair spread wide. Again, the erotic charge. The bumps and depressions registered in some unconscious corner of my mind before I recognized them as body parts, not only feet and stylized hair, but folded arms, legs, grasping hands, buttocks and buried faces. The ivory was carved to form three nude women, entangled in acts of sex. It was a container. I shook it gently and felt some small weight shift inside. A twist, a pull, a twist again. The entangled figures parted into half-spheres.

From one half to the other I poured three woven cords, little more than heavy thread, each about 8" long and beaded at both ends. What use they had with regard to the other items, I couldn't fathom, except that they filled out a seeming pattern of three. I put the lapping women together, enclosing the cords, and with a twist, a push and a second twist, they were locked again in mutual ravishment.

The innocuousness of the cords primed me for disappointment. The copper box might hold something equally uninteresting or nothing at all. Yet I trembled, ready to try its anticipated contents, ready to smoke the fabled drug for the first time and enter the realm of the lotus eater. Such an experience, I imagined, would be invaluable to me as a writer, breaching rational confines of the imagination. Someone at a party once told me that in the trance you watch yourself watching yourself. Too redundant, I said.

I pried the lid away, and lo there it was, a dark goo, the mythical agent of visions and mystic trancing.

Greta had intimated that the chest contained surprises, possibly treasures. How much did she know? Should I consult her?

The occasion called for ritual. I dimmed the lights and lit candles. We should have some fitting music. Gamelans, I thought, something that could play the body. On the mobile I assembled a playlist that would get right to the roots.

/ / /

And I was still considering the question of Greta. Did I need to approach her with the right timing, phrasing and tone, or was she already waiting for me to knock? I had no idea as to how to prepare the opium, but she might. Or, Clara's journal might contain clues, even explicit instructions. I opened it and found the passage readily.

Raw opium is as black as pitch and somewhat
tarry. Dip the needle in and twirl it until a ball gathers
at the tip. Hold the ball over the flame until it firms to
a gum, then apply it to the bowl.
Tip the bowl to the flame as you draw. It is
important to draw evenly and steadily, a medium inhal-
ation. Think of a long suck on a teat for milk.
Have all your accouterments ready, within easy
reach, and on a firm surface, as a profound relaxation
overtakes you. It is highly unlikely that you will want
to get up or move at all, once the opium trance begins.

My cousin had become a woman of unlikely surprises. "A profound relaxation overtakes . . . Think of sucking a teat . . ." Startling phrases, from her. They stirred some vivid and disturbing sensations.

There was more to read, of course, pages more, but I couldn't delay.

With a deep breath, and a little prayer, I lifted the tray from the drawer and carried it to the table beside the bed. Next I lit the little glass lamp with a match. In my state of anticipation, fanned further by the music, even the flare of the igniting match head seemed charged with significance.

I removed the pipe pieces, the bowl and the copper can, then set the priceless lacquer box aside for its safety.

The bowl joined neatly to the ivory stem. I lifted the pipe reverently. It had an elegant balance, its weight perfect to its proportions. Sitting cross legged on the bed, I brought the mouthpiece to my lips and touched the tip of my tongue to the opening, the inside blackened and thinly gummed with residue.

The gamelan rhythms intensified, its percussions now felt as much as heard. Was it loud enough that Greta might hear? I set the pipe aside. Taking the needle, I dipped its end into the pitch and twirled slowly. A ball formed. Held above the flame, it became firm, then began to bubble. The little wad stuck readily as I transferred it to the pipe bowl. Steeling my nerve, I leaned and tipped the bowl to the flame.

The first draw brought nothing. Clara had used that odd phrase, Think of a long suck, a teat. I thought of a straw, and drew, and felt smoke fill my lungs. I was unprepared for the acrid, sweet taste and even less prepared for the drug's rapidly unfolding potency. Before the first wad burned out with the next draw, I felt the need to lay curled on my side. The many cymbals caused me to vibrate with mixed harmonics. I passed through a vortex of sensations before settling into a pool of serene wakefulness, my head on the pillow, the center of resonant and meaningful sensations. With the hypnotic rhythms came an erotic thrumming that I felt particularly in my breasts and deep in my lower tummy, a space which I'd all but forgotten about in the past few months. The sounds of the wind and the rain on the windows joined the music. Delightfully, a low thunder rolled over the house. How the nightgown got bunched up, I don't know. One of my hands cupped a breast and fingered the sensitized nipple. The other squeezed between my thighs to dip into the spongy wetness of my puss, come back to life.

\ \ \

In the trance, time disappears. The boundaries between what is imagined and what is perceived become fluid. What I believed was part of the gamelan became actual knocking at the door. The knob turned and Greta slid into the candlelit room like an apparition. Initially, to my drugged eyes, she looked transparent - details of the door seemed visible through her body. I felt like a camera turned on its side, fixed in its position, while Greta crossed the field and out of frame.

"I see you've got into it already," she said. "Knew you would."

I felt no volition to speak.

"Mind if I join you?"

I was hoping you would.

"I think it might rain through the night."

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