A writing class challenge to write a story in the Gothic genre.
Guy opened his eyes, stretched and yawned. For the first time in ages he felt at peace. For the first time in longer than he could remember he had slept untroubled by dark thoughts and feelings of impending doom. Maybe it was the gentle motion of the steamer as it made its way across the placid waves to The Island. The place where he hoped he could at last find escape.
He stretched once again, his toes feeling for the wooden end of the bunk anchoring him in this new felt contentment. Looking out through the tiny window he could see a vast blueness and in the distance just the suggestion of land.
Surprised to find himself hungry he dressed quickly, hoping that breakfast would still be on offer. One last look in the mirror showed a handsome face, dark tendrils of hair, with just a hint of silver, curling to just below the jawline. Guy smiled at his reflection, care lines, or were they laughter lines, seeming to accentuate the deep blue of his eyes. For a moment he glimpsed the man he had been before, the man he hoped to be again.
'Monsieur Laroche, good morning to you sir. I trust you slept well although I can see that sea air agrees with you. We should be docking within the hour, the weather is set fine and I can see no problems with the completion of our journey.'
The captain left Guy to relax on deck enjoying the warm sunshine.
Dark and cold suffused the space in spite of the large fire which roared in the ancient fireplace at the end of the hall. He stretched out his hands trying to absorb some of its warmth but his fingers remained as though dipped in icy water. Candles dotted about the room created pools of light which in no way dissipated or encroached upon the gloom. Heavy tapestries depicting ancient battles and mythologies covered stone walls, adding no comfort.
He tried to find an exit to the outside world, windows had not been part of the plan when this structure had been envisaged. A large oak door, the only way in, or out, began to open slowly, its hinges creaking and groaning in protest. He held his breath, knowing who, or more correctly what, would be on the other side.
Guy woke suddenly, the old fears had returned. For a moment he didn't know where he was and then he saw her. Just a black shape on the dock, but he knew. It was HER.
'Ah, Monsieur, I see that someone is waiting to greet you. No doubt you will be pleased to set foot on dry land and to be welcomed by friends and loved ones.'
He failed to see the look of horror on Guy's face, and the sweat and extreme pallor that suffused his countenance.
Guy fell back into his chair and stared as the creature, for that was how he thought of her now, seemed to get ever closer. He could almost see her dark, beautiful face and could certainly feel the greyness of her eyes drawing him in. For a moment he thought he would end it all, cast himself upon the rocks, but he knew that she would not allow that. That she would destroy the ship and all it contained if he attempted to thwart her again.
Storm clouds began to gather, their density blocking out the sun. His vision of her obscured by the torrential rain. The only colour breaking through the gloom, red. The red of blood, the red of the rose he had given to her before he knew her true identity. He knew that she held that rose, the self same rose somehow preserved and kept as a symbol of her possession of him.
He had just a few moments left before the ship dropped anchor and he would once again be within her power. His hand sought the small bottle hidden in his pocket, his escape.
He could now see her very clearly. Dressed completely in black, a single rose held in her hand. It's colour so intense it seemed to mock the sun as it made its leisurely out from behind the storm clouds. A slight smile played about her lips.
'Monsieur Laroche, thank you for your company and good luck for the future. Although I can see,' the captain looked at the woman waiting for Guy and saluted her, 'that you are indeed a very lucky man.'
Guy shook the captain's hand, nodded and made his way towards his nemesis. She smiled and kissed him with lips which held no warmth.
He did not return the smile.
'It's finished,' he said as he collapsed at her feet. The red rose fell from her hand and its petals fell on his body, leaving marks like blood stains.