Some secrets are best kept...forever.
Only one thing puzzled Tina about 13 North street. Why the upstairs spare room was forever kept locked?
At age 14, Tina had run away from her violent alcoholic father. Though on that unforgettable rainy evening, Ms Knight had took pity on the lonely hitchhiker. Tina spun a yarn, claiming that her name was Angela, and that she had decided to leave the group of new age travellers which she had happened to spot three miles back down the road. 'After all I'm sixteen and I can do what I like, now.' she was sure to impress upon the kindly woman. Ms Knight was a widow in her late forties, with an hour glass figure. Her naturally, blonde hair flowed over her shoulders and down her back like a mane. She had big brown eyes and a tiny nose. Her slender hands were lily white with tapering fingers, and perfectly manicured almond shaped, nails.
Ms Knight agreed to let her stay at her house. Though only on the terms and conditions that she would cook and clean to earn her keep.
Tina thought she was beautiful. Though, kind woman she was, she feared her strictness greatly. Once, when Ms Knight had caught her using the pc without her permission, she had threatened her with a clenched fist. Her face had become so severe that Tina had cowered behind the work station like a frightened puppy.
However, this did not deter Tina from entering Ms Knight's bedroom when she was out. Her wardrobe was extensive, and expensive, to say the least. One Gucci dress in particular took her fancy. It was tailor made, from chiffon, scarlet, and short. It slid on like a glove. With a little help from one of Ms Knight's bras and some tissue paper, the overall effect was quite pleasing. Over the last year she had tried on most of her clothes, and viewed herself with approval in the tall mirror. Though she was always careful to place everything back just the way she had found it. For she dreaded the thought that Ms Knight should find her out.
'Did you find out about Mr Knight for me, Dave?' she had asked the handsome young man who delivered groceries from Tescos every Friday, and sometimes chatted with her if he was not in a rush.
'Not much really, Angela. The bloke who did this before me reckons he died abroad. Said he was an elderly chap with white hair.' he laughed, 'Probably old enough to be her dad. But that's between me an' you.' he winked.
'Really old. Wow, how could she love him?'
'Search me. Takes all sorts I spose, hey.'
'You know sometimes I want to run away.' she admitted to him. 'But that's between me and you.' she had winked back at him.
Not long after this conversation she had a strange dream about the locked room. She thought she saw Ms Knight go to a board on the left hand side of the fireplace. Their she took a key hidden under a cavity. Key in hand, Ms Knight went to the mysterious room at the end of the corridor, unlocked it and entered. Tina dreamed she followed her as far as the door and tried to peep inside. However, the woman was too quick for her. The door slammed to in her face. A black, four poster bed, standing in the middle of the room, was all she managed to catch a glimpse of. She stood outside to listen, and was sure she heard the unmistakable clink of coins.
'I knew it,' she whispered to herself, 'Ms Knight's a miser. I bet there's loads of money in there.' She thought she put her eye to the keyhole, when something hot and burning ran into it. The pain was too acute. She awoke from the dream with a start.
The dream was so vivid, and the impression it left on her was great. Subsequently, she became ever more curious to see more of the room. 'I wish that I could get some of that lovely money,' she often said to herself, 'I could run away and find a place of my own to live.'
She waited impatiently for a golden opportunity to see if the dream were real. Though as always, when she drummed up the courage to go near the open fireplace, something would happen to prevent her. Once she thought she heard footsteps following her stealthily across the hall to the living room. She turned around in terror, expecting to see the severe face of Ms Knight, but to her relief, no one was there. On another occasion, she crept downstairs in the dead of night. Again, she heard the footsteps creeping down the stairs after her. Trusting her intuition, she decided she would pretend she was walking in her sleep. When she finally reached the foot of the stairs, she turned slowly around. Nobody. An uneasy feeling came over her. It grew so strong that she fled back to her room in panic. From that moment she promised to herself she would never leave her bed in the dead of night again. Then, one day, opportunity knocked.
'Angela, I'll be out for the whole day,' Ms Knight told her, 'Remember, any phone messages, write them down straight away.'
Blonde hair tied up in a neat bun, she then hurried off in her newest brown suite, and sped off in her silver Mercedes.
Tina watched the new car as it vanished from the junction, before she ran up the stairs to look at Ms Knight's wardrobe. This time she really went to town, trying on all her latest Alessandro dell'Acqua lingerie, slipping into her short scarlet number, borrowing her expensive makeup, and sliding on her best, French high heels. In the mirror, she admired her legs in the black, silk stockings. Despite her small breasts, she was not a bad looking girl, and the effect was quite pleasing. It was as she stood admiring herself in the mirror, when the telephone rang. She froze with her hands on her hips, until it went dead again. When her confidence returned she decided to put the dream to the test.
Downstairs the sun filtered through the blinds of the living room, window. So bright and cheery, that Tina forgot her stupid fears and walked boldly toward the open fireplace.
She tried one of the boards, and then another, and then to her joyful surprise one appeared to be loose. She prised it up with a kitchen knife, and sure enough, within the cavity beneath, was the key. Her dream then was true. 'Money, money. Lovely money. I bet it's in there,' she nearly cried to herself, 'Goodbye slavery, Spain here I come.'
Alive with pure excitement, she kicked off the French heels and ran upstairs to the mystery room. Her haste was feverish as she pushed in the key, and turned the lock.
The door opened easily, and the interior of the room was at last exposed to her hungry eyes. In the middle sat the four- poster, bed. In the corner sat an old iron safe. Apart from these two articles, the room contained an old wooden chair, and an oval mirror. The mirror fascinated her, as mirrors always did. It was while she was admiring herself, thinking how good it would be to be able to buy her own lovely clothes, then perhaps have her boobs done and go to Hollywood, that she gave an involuntary start. The bed behind her was very clearly reflected in the mirror. In it she saw an old man with white hair and a white moustache. He was lying on his back apparently asleep. Suddenly, from out of a cupboard in the wall, a woman emerged. It was Ms Knight, and yet it was not her. For like the man in the bed there was something shadowy and indistinct about her. Thick mascara, blusher, and blonde pageboy hair. A blue rah-rah skirt, a pink shoulderless blouse, and white heels. Face and clothes more in time with the eighties. On one of her wrists she wore a plain gold bangle, and on her fingers, several sparkling rings. Tina noticed these in particular, for she loved jewellery. Tiptoeing softly to the bed, the woman stubbed her cigarette in the bedside ashtray, and picked up one of the pillows, her face severe, as she pressed the pillow down with all her body weight, on the face of the sleeping man.
With a cry of horror Tina turned around. The bed was completely empty. So was the room. She was absolutely alone.
She was so shocked that it was some minutes before she ventured to move. Instinct told her that what she had witnessed in the mirror was in fact, a ghostly re-enactment of what happened during time gone by. The old man had to be Mr Knight. His wife Ms Knight, was a murderess. There was a killer lurking in those dark brown eyes. She realised now why she had disliked and feared the woman.
'Soon as I get that cash, I'm out of here.' Tina made up her mind.
She tried the safe. After much fingering she accidentally pressed a spring, hey presto, the door flew open Half filled from the back was stacked full with thick bank rolls of twenty pound notes and new credit cards, diamond rings, Rolex watches. Not to mention six new sets of BMW car keys in a leather wallet. Her eyes almost fell out of her head, 'Bingo.' she cried, clapping her hands together. 'I bet she stole these,' she guessed, 'That's why she always keeps this room locked up.'
In her excitement she forgot all her fear. She slipped on a platinum ring, with a beautiful diamond inset, and stood up to marvel at it in the mirror.
However, in the midst of her raptures the door of the room opened. There in flesh and blood, stood Ms Knight. The suited woman entered purposefully, in her hand she carried a long black stocking. In her face Tina saw that same severe expression she had but just seen reflected in the mirror.
'So.' Ms Knight hissed, 'I've caught you, you little slut. Prying into my secrets. Wearing my clothes and jewellery too, I see. Come here.'
Those dark brown eyes had a powerful effect on Tina, mesmerising her like those of a snake on, prey. Tina became limp, powerless to resist, and so she meekly obeyed.
'Kneel down Angela,' Ms Knight commanded.
The girl did as she was told, her eyes riveted on slender hands which held the stocking.
Ms Knight then carefully closed the door, and turned to Tina, coiling the black nylon neatly between her shapely fingers to make a garrotte.
'Do you know what this is for?' she calmly asked.
Tina shook her head. She tried to speak, but her voice dried up in her throat.
'Here, I'll show you,' Ms Knight went on, carefully slipping the stocking over the girl's head. 'You've no friends. No parents, Why girl? Because nobody wants you,' and with those strong pitiless fingers, she drew the black stocking tighter, and tighter, and...
Copyright © 2006 Jon BrownSend us your comments on this article