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Fiction:  "The Storyteller's Guild"

     The kitchen I was led to seemed modernized with tile floors, and icebox and all of the other modern conveniences popular for the time. I sat at a large wood plank table, still looking about at the truly fantastic house I had ended up in, when a small plate carrying some cured meat and a bit of bread lands just under my chin, guided by the aged hand of the older woman. I thanked her with a smile. She simply grunted as she sat down opposite the table from me and lit a cigarette.
     "You have to be careful up-stares. The mister and missus bed up there so ye have to be quiet." She stated in a gruff manner. I nodded in understanding, not wishing to speak while chewing.
     "It is also said to be haunted up there, but I think it's all hogwash. But you should still be careful up there" she said, leaning toward me with her elbows planted firmly on the hard wood of the table. I blew it off as local rumors.
     "There is a full working shower in your room. The hot water isn't too reliable though," she sits back, taking another puff of gray smoke from her cigarette. I took my last bite and listened to the last few of the weathered woman's words not wanting to be rude.
     "Oh! Are ye finished? Let me show you to your room then," she said, standing. I agreed without hesitation and followed her up the covered stairway to the platform which had a large white bear skin rug sprawled across the small connecting platform with open mouth pointing down the larger stairway. I do distinctly remember a small purple-red stain toward the head of the rug but thought nothing of it. We continued down the dimly lit hallway to a heavy-looking arched wooden door with large iron hinges holding it to the doorframe.
     "This be your room for tonight, I warn ye though, no one who has stayed in that room has been the same since," she said, wide eyed.
     "I'm sure it is from the charm of the manor," I responded in my young naive way. She scoffed at that.
     "My name is Lauren, I am the live in housekeeper for the manor. I stay in the small room by the kitchen if you need anything. And don't worry about anything, everyone who has stayed here has survived and this house has been housing students such as ye for 35 years now," she said calmly, "oh, I didn't get your name, the mister and missus have it but I wasn't told, as usual."
     "I am Meredith," I told her simply.
     "It is a pleasure to meet you Meredith," she stated firmly, holding her hand out for a shake. Being polite I took her hand to experience a handshake more firm then most men could muster wide awake. She hobbled back down the hallway back to her room I am sure.
     I entered the room and looked around for anything suspicious. The room was poorly lit, and even darker then the hallway was. Thankfully there was still an oil lamp on a small table just inside the door. After digging in my bad a bit I found my matches and lit the lamp and a cigarette of my own. I kicked off my shoes and long slacks, loosened my shirt, and walked over to the closed window. I pulled open the heavy shutters over the arched window to be greeted with a gentle rush of cool wind that covered me with goose pimples. At that time I noticed the rolling fire in the fireplace across the room from the bed. I sat on the windowsill and looked out across the countryside and lost myself in its wonderful shapes and cooling beauty.
     Finishing my smoke I climbed out of the window, closed the blinds, and nestled myself down into the large canopy bed. I buried my head in the collection of soft down pillows and pulled the heavy comforter over myself. I quickly fell asleep. My sleep didn't last long though. I was jolted awake by a deep voice echoing through the room.
     "Get out of my bed!" The voice yelled off the walls. I bolted up and shakily hugged my knees in pure terror.
     "W…Who…Who's there?" I was able to mutter. I had no response. I leaned over and quickly grabbed the oil lamp and matches off the bedside table. I fidgeted trying to light the blasted lamp but ended up spilling the oil all over the comforter and on myself. I threw the lamp off the bed in an explosion of glass that I heard fall to the hard stone floor. I slowly and quietly rolled to the edge of the bed and ran to the open window which I had thought I had closed, and looked down the side of the manor to see little more then moonlight reflecting off of a very thick layer of fog that hovered some two feet below the window. I tried to yell out the window but very little sound came from my lips.
     "Trespassers to my room cannot speak until they leave!" the voice yelled through the room. At that I felt that something was behind me but before I could turn around to see what was there, I was thrown into a broom and metal dustpan then finally to the floor by a very large and very sharp something slashed across my back. I remember trying to yell in pain, but in vain. I stood, I don't know how, but I stood.  Taking the broom in both hands like a sword I stood ready to defend myself against whoever, or whatever, this was. Then where was laughter. I couldn't tell where it was coming from, seemed to come from everywhere yet nowhere all at once. The same force that through me to the floor snapped the broom like a toothpick. I silently shrieked. After the broom snapped I felt a hot, raunchy, breath passing over my face and down over my entire body. I froze. I think I wet myself then but I can't remember for sure. I was powerless. Hopeless. A sharp pinch hit just under my collarbone, pushed by a very heavy force. It scratched slowly, and felt like very deeply, down my chest. The pain was unbearable.

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