The Picture in the Attic: PART 1 of 3

This place is black, completely void of light; silent, damp and cold. An area where your eyes pulsate trying to grasp onto images for deciphering, onto any object which could give you clues as to where you are. The darkness engulfs this chamber with enthusiasm, the room embraces it, enjoys it even, along with the insects which co-occupy it. A slight crack appears in the floor allowing a stream of light to pierce through the blackness; boxes fill the area where the beam of light hits, unwillingly illuminated, almost hissing at the rays. This small luminous crack swiftly grows, rapidly developing into a rectangular shaped hatch resembling a trapdoor. There is a thud from the opening followed by the screeching/squealing sound of a sliding ladder tumbling down through the blanket of light. The noise of heavy clanking footsteps ascending the cold metal ladder get louder before a man’s head pokes its way into the eerie expanse. Dan’s torso breaks into the dimly lit room appearing through the hole in the floor, into the dark sarcophagus, into: the attic. Dan awkwardly scrambles up the ladder carrying a rather large box, hitting it on anything and everything in sight on his short journey. After his box(ing) fight, Dan happily thumped the heavy cargo he was carrying onto the floor releasing a triumphant ‘humph’ as he did so. Catching his breath, he stands hunched over in the low ceilinged attic and surveys the space, looking for a home for this newly defeated package.
“DAN?”, booms a loud, sharp question from downstairs; Dan flinches bumping his head on the support beam above with this unexpected shout. A follow-up question reverberates around this small space when he doesn’t immediately reply; “DAN?” comes the second call from his wife stood at the bottom of the stairs.
“Ouch! God damn it…yes love, what do you want?” comes his reply as he rubs the new rapidly emerging bump on his head, which the beam above him so gladly supplied.
Carey yells up again from the ground floor; “Can you see if my wedding dress is up there? I want to show it to Maddie next time she comes around”.
Dan sighed; “Yes honey, if I see it I will make sure to bring it down…to clutter the house up even more”, he made sure to say that last bit in a whisper, he didn’t want to cause an unnecessary fight. Besides, Dan knew exactly where the wedding dress was, in fact he was staring right at it during the shouty conversation.
“Promise?” Carey asks sceptically detecting a hint of dismissiveness in her husband’s voice.
“…Sure do” Dan said angelically while trying his best to hide the white flowing dress; out of sight, out of mind. “The last thing we need downstairs is an oversized, poufy white wedding dress taking up all the storage space in the wardrobes…no, scratch that: all of my storage space in the wardrobes, I’ve only got one tiny spot as it is” he thought to himself as he stuffed the dress into a distant corner. After suitably hiding the marital gown, Dan sees a perfect spot for his new heavy box to live, in a space exactly the width of the would-be incoming object. He scoops up the ten tonne cardboard package and waddles over to the cavity he found. Dan half places, half drops the box into position and congratulates himself with a Jim Carey impression: “Lllllike a glove”. He loved doing Jim Carey impressions…although his wife, Carey, never did (didn’t ever stop him doing them though). He was always surprised that she didn’t like his impressions, she is part of the ‘Carey’ name clan after all. Dan cautiously walks back to the attic hatch making sure to avoid the low support beams and any stray sharp objects on the floor which could easily penetrate through his socks. You would have thought that after last time he would wear slippers, or at least footwear with some sort of hard base (who knew a single piece of Lego could make someone bleed so much?). Dan reaches the opening in the floor and makes his way down the ladder, he climbs down through the light blanket stopping just as his head was about to exit the attic, he saw something which warranted further attention. His eyes were transfixed on an object in the far corner of the room, a picture frame propped up on some boxes…looking at him. “What is that?”, Dan stares for a while at this item which halted his exit, trying to focus the image; the room was dark but seemed to be even murkier around this piece. He slowly climbs back up into the blackened room and makes his way over to the print. As he approaches he wonders to himself: ‘what is this, I don’t remember ever owning a large framed picture, let alone storing one in the attic?’ He gets close enough to see that the image is a photo, not a painting, the sepia tint suggesting that its very old. The photo consists of a hazy outline of a thatched roof cottage with four windows and an open door which is occupied by a blurred figure. Next to the house on its left is a dead gangly tree, decorated with a long thick noosed rope hanging from one of its branches. On closer inspection, the figure in the doorway is a hunched, haggard looking woman whose face is half obscured with a black hooded robe. She wasn’t looking into the camera when the picture was taken, but rather into the distance, this woman’s stare burning into her prey in the remote woodland ahead. Her glare seems purposeful, she wanted whatever she is gazing at, and she wanted it badly. Dan stands transfixed by this image, surveying every inch of it until a loud crash breaks his concentration: *BANG!*. He swung around sharply to see what made the clatter, his eyes sweeping from left to right expecting to see an obvious reason for the interruption. A movement in the far regions of the attic attracts his attention…it appeared to be just a box repositioning itself, settling into a new more comfortable position. Unfazed by the noise, Dan picks the picture up and takes it downstairs for further inspection in better light, completely dismissing the mysterious moving box. By being so interested in this framed item he was holding, he had completely overlooked the fact that a box just altered its position on its own, with no reasonable explanation as to why. What moved it…or whom? The attic gradually loses all its light as the ladder gets hauled back up into its rightful place and the hatch door is slowly closed; darkness again, just how it likes it.

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