The Crimson Walls of Grimrose Manor

Guest Fiction Writer // Mia Solimine

TW: Knives, blood, su*cidal/hom*cidal actions

She loves the moon, particularly when it is whole. How enchanting it looks, staring down at her from behind the glass roof and illuminating the surrounding looming clouds, which glow brightly in a sky scared of stars. She takes note of the thin layer of dust that coats the tiles upon which she stands and wipes the sweat from her brow. She then swivels on her heels and strides away; the clicking of her platform Mary Janes echoes throughout the hollow greenhouse. 

The soles of her shoes leave dark crimson prints on the floor with each step, and behind her, she drags a shovel, the weight of the heavy object too unbearable to pick up. 

How observant you are. I will forever relish every second I’ve seen through you.  

Quietly, she sets the shovel down against the red-stained wall and presses a pale hand to the glass door of the weathered, enclosed garden. She pushes carefully so as not to wake those who sleep peacefully within, for they are indeed light sleepers- the ones that dwell in her greenhouse. Sometimes, she can hear them hammering at the tiles in the middle of the night, scraping from underneath the floor, rotten nails digging. 

Soon, the greenhouse will stay silent forever.

She shudders as a wave of unease washes over her, but she pauses for a minute to look up at a singular star in the sky before quietly making her way along the grounds of Grimrose Manor. From where she walks on the lawn, she can see ivy creeping up the side of the decaying stone wall and climbing over a windowsill, spilling past the shattered glass, bathed in the dim radiance of the moon. 

She slowly pulls open the old, ornate door to the manor and crosses the threshold into the grand foyer. Once fully inside, a sour smell envelops her, and she stands still in the hall momentarily, wondering if the strange scent will ever dissipate. 

The smell is indeed quite delightful to me, and the sickening flowery perfume of the wilting lilacs from the greenhouse could never mask it. 

She remains in the foyer, glancing between the two red walls on either side of her. One could say she is proud of her work.

You painted both walls primarily by yourself, with a bit of control from me.

There are tiny spots speckled among the red, where the color is chipped and peeling. It crumbles, revealing the repulsively bright white tone beneath, the white she tried so hard to completely cover. The substance didn’t have the same consistency as acrylic paint.

You didn’t coat your hands enough. No matter, this will all be over shortly.

“Madam,” a soft whisper calls from the dark hallway before her. She doesn’t recognize the voice and slowly tilts her head to the side, wandering in a haze of confusion. Unwillingly, she takes a few steps forward into the dark, feeling along the side of the wall for a light switch—hoping, praying for something to guide her. 

“Madam?” The figure emerges in a simple black dress with a pure-white apron wrapped around
her waist. Her hair is swept up in a tight bun, and thin, gray curls frame her wrinkled face.

Tell her you have a headache.

“Moira,” the woman utters in a low tone, gently massaging her temples. She looks down at the servant standing before her. “I’m sorry. I have an awful headache. What time is it?”

Moira lifts her arm and gazes at the simple watch clinging to her wrist. “It is 3:15 am,” Moira answers slowly, processing the eerie feeling creeping up her spine and tickling the back of her neck. 

Ask her what she is doing up.

“Oh Moira, why are you up at this late of an hour?” the woman asks, sighing softly, her voice echoing down into the hallway’s emptiness. 

“I was looking for you, Madam,” Moira replies, shivering from the cold, “If you don’t mind me asking, where were you?”


“I was…” The woman pauses momentarily, attempting to gather her scrambling thoughts, the screaming from within drowning out Moira’s question, “I was… um. Where was I?”

I told you to lie.

“Madam, I think it would be best for you to go to bed.” The maid babbles softly, on and on, her voice carried by a frigid draft running about the hall in which the two stood, “I’ve already prepared your bed for you… and there is a candle lit on your nightside table… it is warm… and the sooner you go to sleep, the sooner I may prepare your breakfast of fried eggs and sausage for you… and—”

Forget it. Ignore her. Continue your job.

Without breathing a word or response, the woman swiftly glides past the figure in the white apron, leaving it to spill mindless words onto the dark oak hardwood floor beneath her feet. She can hear the figure calling for her, and then a brief “Sleep well, Madam” fades into the suffocating air around the woman. 

As beautiful as the walls are, I think they would look lovelier with more red—splattered, dripping,
and sacrificed. 

The woman places one foot on the edge of the first step, feeling the fabric of the crimson runner against her skin and hearing the gentle creak of the stair in her head. Then, up and up, she climbs slowly, gripping the rail tightly and watching her fingertips turn an eerie white color. 

This will have to do for now, though; I am getting impatient.

She feels the stairs move beneath her and the steady rhythm of a distant heart beating within her chest. 

Keep going. You are ready.

The woman moves on obeying, trailing one thin finger gently along the red walls surrounding the stairs. Almost every inch of Grimrose Manor was painted the same beautiful color; quite frankly, she couldn’t remember why exactly she decided to cover the white paint with dark red… just that she knew she had to. 

Pausing at the top step, the woman waits, swaying; a strange dizziness washes over her, turning everything over on its side—spinning, tilting. She softly closes her eyes, letting the hands on her back guide her; they push just enough to keep her upright. 

You’re weak. Such hard work, let me help you.

The doors of the woman’s master bedroom fly open before her as she stands in front of them, feeling the breeze on her face and the icy touch on the small of her back that encourages her onward. 

You know what you must do. Cover that white spot.

“I know what I must do.” The woman repeats slowly, the echo of the voice in her head ringing out into the dark of the room. She snaps her head to the side, her attention caught on a reflective object resting on the nightside table; flickers of light from the candle dance across the sharp blade. 

This is your purpose. I need your blood this time.

Obediently, the woman slowly creeps towards the object, her arm reaching out for it, desperation suffocating her from within. She grabs ahold of the blade of the knife, feeling the sharp edge press into the skin of her hand. Peering into the shiny surface, she pauses to glance at her reflection. 

Suddenly, she drops the knife. “What am I doing?” She mutters to herself, frantically wiping the blood from her hand off on her white nightdress. Her head pounds, and she collapses to the ground, gripping the light fabric of her clothing, now stained with the same red color as the walls. 

So incompetent. 

The woman freezes, and her grip on her nightdress loosens. Her eyes glaze over once more, and all thoughts of terror evaporate from her conscious mind.

That maid would have been more obedient than you. Pick it up. 

Standing up, she grips the knife tightly once more, awaiting further whispers of orders from the haunting voice within her.  Quickly pivoting on the ball of her foot, the woman turns towards the back wall of the master bedroom. The only remaining spots of white in the entirety of Grimrose Manor were some toward the bottom of the wall where the woman failed to paint– completely surrounded by ragged streaks of dark red; they were easy to find.

The whispers were soft at first, but they gradually grew into a terrifying, sputtering chant, surrounding her from every angle of the room. Do it, Do it, Do it, the voice sang, pounding from within the woman’s head.

“Do it. Do it. Do it,” the woman repeats, quietly mumbling to herself. She is unable to access her humanistic thoughts and is instead acting on the impulses that are controlling her.

I will be very much real when you cover that last spot. Now, do it. 

Backing herself up against the remaining angelic tone of the wall, the woman raises the blade to her neck. Blood drips slowly down the hand holding the knife as she is gripping the sharp edge instead of the handle.

Abruptly, the woman awakens, letting out a blood-curdling scream as she becomes aware of the blade digging into her palms, but an unknown strong force keeps the knife in her grasp.

Despite her struggles to keep the knife away from piercing her skin, the woman finds her hands acting as if they are attached to the type of thick wires used to manipulate marionettes. With a jolt of abrupt movement, the woman plunges the knife into the side of her neck and slides down the wall, leaving a streak of bright red blood trailing her. Black liquid gushes from the spot where the blade pierced the woman, and with a cacophonous clatter, the knife falls to the ground next to her.

With what weakened strength the woman has, she presses one stained hand to the side of her neck and the other to her slow but still beating heart.

You’re so hopeful.

“WHO ARE YOU?” the woman hollers to the empty room, her cries bouncing off the four red walls. She removes her hands from their former placements, covering her mouth now as she coughs out a thick cloud of black vapor. It spills out from deep within her soul, swirling and solidifying before her. As if in response to the woman’s desperate questioning, within seconds, the smoke takes the shape of a
towering figure, at least eight feet tall. The entity is of a pitch-black coloring, with a void of a mouth as wide as Its face. Its limbs are sickeningly long and thin and bent in unnatural angles. A bone-chilling, deep laugh emerges from It as It stands before the woman, fully alive now, fueled by the human sacrifices that contributed to the creature’s humanity.

“I’m a manifestation you created with all your hard work.” The entity gargles, black liquid dripping from its toothless mouth. “Killing so many people must have been so difficult for you. That’s why I helped, of course.”

The woman stares up at the figure, a mixture of complete horror and disbelief on her face as she clings onto what remains of her vitality. “I didn’t kill anyone… you’re lying.”

“Why would I lie to you?” the entity sputters. “Look at you. Your skin is as pale as the walls were before you painted them with the blood of the rotting things in your greenhouse.”

“I- What do you want- from me?” the woman stutters, her pulse slowing to an incomprehensible rate and her breath hitching in her throat. Her eyelids flutter softly, and she can feel herself dipping in and out of consciousness.

The entity turns Its crooked back on the slumped woman, but Its bones creek and snap as It bends backward to face her. “You’ve been mine for a while now,” The entity chokes, staring at the woman with bulging, red eyes. “I’m free now. I don’t need you anymore.”

With a hollow, guttural screech, the entity straightens Its spine once more, stalking away from the woman as Its long, thin skeleton snaps and cracks with each step. It pauses at the doorway to the master bedroom, peering back from where It came from. It relished in the idea of witnessing the final moments of the woman’s life—the woman that It, for so long, manipulated and controlled, all for the purpose of becoming a separate being.

“Free at last,” the entity remarks to Itself, leaving the woman alone in the dark room. Her pale face, streaked with black fluid, is only slightly illuminated by the dim, flickering light of the dying candle next to her. The woman’s dress, once white, is now stained with her own blood, and it fans out from underneath her, majestically blending into the crimson walls of Grimrose Manor.

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