Chill by Alex Nye Read Free Book Online

Book: Chill by Alex Nye Read Free Book Online
Authors: Alex Nye
their lungs and made them cough as they sorted through the contents of the boxes. Mrs Morton had given them a supply of black bin liners, and they were to fill these with any unwanted rubbish. As they worked, Samuel noticed an old wooden chest in the corner, slightly apart from the boxes and crates they were sorting. He wondered briefly what was inside it. Its lid was firmly shut so he thought nothing more about it; they were too busy to stop and explore. Half-way through the morning the torch began to flicker on and off, as if the battery was fading. At last it went off altogether, plunging them into darkness.
    “Samuel,” Fiona whispered, edging nearer to him. “Are you there?”
    “I’m here,” he whispered back. They clung to each other in the dark. It was pitch-black, and they could see nothing in front of their faces.
    “What are we going to do?” Fiona said hoarsely.
    “I don’t know.”
    “We can’t move.”
    “Wait till our eyes have adjusted to the darkness,” Samuel suggested hopefully.
    But while they waited, they began to hear a sound nearby. It was the sound of breathing, gentle but definite, as if someone were in the darkness beside them. Fiona clung even tighter to Samuel’s arm.
    “Can – you – hear – that?” she whispered slowly.
    He nodded. Then remembering she couldn’t see him, he added “I hear it.”
    “What – is – it?”
    “I don’t know.”
    It sounded as if it was just behind him. Samuel turned his head slowly, but could see nothing. He reached out a hand, and swept the air with it, seeing if he could make contact with anything, but accidentally knocked against a crate.
    “Ouch!” he hissed.
    “What? What is it?”
    “Nothing. I hurt my hand, that’s all.”
    “Samuel, I don’t like this.”
    There was a silence.
    “I can’t say I’m delighted by it either,” came the reply.
    Still the sound of gentle breathing, a thin in-drawing and releasing of breath came from the darkness behind them.
    Suddenly the torch sprang back to life. Samuel grabbed it and swung its beam into the shadows behind them. There was nothing there. Absolutely nothing.
    But …
    In a corner, pushed under the eaves, was the old wooden chest, which he had noticed before. Something had happened to it. Its lid had been thrust open, and the contents displayed.
    Samuel stared at it.
    “Is it just me, or wasn’t that shut before?”
    He played the torch beam over it.
    Fiona nodded. “I think it was.”
    Both of them crept closer, and the weak torchlight picked out a pile of old linen. Fiona rummaged about, lifting old tablecloths and heavily embroidered pillowcases.
    “There’s nothing here,” she said.
    Samuel lifted out a delicate piece of finely-stitchedembroidery. “Someone was kept very busy,” he commented, examining it in the half-light.
    Fiona dipped her arm deeper into the chest, and suddenly felt a bundle of dry paper. She lifted the package out. It was tied with colourless ribbon that had almost completely frayed.
    “What’s that?” he asked, but Fiona wasn’t listening. She had gone deathly quiet.
    She and Samuel stared at what they’d found, examining it in the torchlight.
    At first it looked like a bundle of letters, but as they turned the pages over they began to realize that these were pages torn from a journal. “
The nineteenth day of April 1708
” they read. “
My name is Catherine Morton.

    The torch began to fade again, and Fiona knocked it twice against the side of the chest in frustration.
    “Damn it!” she hissed. “I want to read what it says.”
    “Quick. Let’s take these downstairs and read them before the battery goes again.”

Catherine’s Journal
    They took the bundle of papers and made their way down the rickety ladder.
    Mrs Morton appeared suddenly from her room, alert to any sound.
    â€œFinished already?” she demanded.
    â€œEr, not quite,” Fiona said. “We’ve binned up a few things, but we just wanted to take a

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