This post was originally published on June 2 2008
And I apologize ahead of time for my terrible accents.
The prompt for this comes from Moderoom Press:
Imagine a Castle in Scotland
With a terrible disease
the smell of saffron fills the air
a spinster is playing a Wagner
While the Insomniac holds a candle in the dark
Download and listen to Audio for Stone’s Cold.
Hear the Promo for Short Cummings Audio
“Carol, you have got to come see this.” I said staring at the screen in disbelief. I had been on this site for over an hour, and was still in shock about the whole thing.
“Did you find us a vacation rental?” She asked as she came in the room still in her bathrobe.
“Steven, you said you would find something for us so that we could do this trip with the kids and not be searching e-bay for, for whatever it is you search e-bay for.”
“I know but you have got to see this.”
“What…” Her voice told me I had only seconds.
“Look, I was looking for vacation rentals. some times people list them here. Not very often, but I thought I would include it.”
“Fine, what have you found. Was about to take a shower.”
“A castle, for sale! And look at the price.” She moved in closer so she could see.
“That has got to be some sort of a joke. There is no way that is real. It has got to be like some model in Scotland, Iowa or something.”
“I don’t think so. I have e-mailed the seller and, got the GPS coordinates, it is in Scotland, and I have done some research. It is a real castle, built in 1753,” I said gesturing to the new windows I brought up. “This place appears to be real.”
“But that can’t be the selling price.”
“That is what I asked the guy. He said that if we brought the check that he would have the dead of sale. Carol at that price if we brought it only as a vacation home then we would would still be making out.”
“I still can’t believe it. There has to be some sort of a catch.”
“The only thing that he said that I don’t get is that it was a cold castle, but he said it weird, he said, and I quote,” bringing up my e-mail, “You must be warned that the castle has a cold.”
“That is a little odd. Listen I am going to take my shower. Why don’t you call the bank and find out just what it would take to buy a home in Scotland. I am with you that at that price we would be fools to pass it up.”
“That is what I said.”
Two weeks later the four of us sat in the back seat of a cab, on our way to the castle. Carol and I had worked around the clock. The owner wanted to sell immediately and we had not planned to go on vacation until summer. We had to deal with banks and the Scottish government and three of the minor officials of the local government. But, the kids schools had given us the hardest time, and in the end we told them that we were going to home-school. Then there was my job, but I convinced that my boss to let me have a month off and that when I came back I could edit from anywhere.
Despite it all we were all just about giddy with the idea of seeing this place for the first time. As we neared the place, all the brochure images of Scotland filled my head, the moors, the stone fences, the sheep, the tiny little farm roads, and cottages. It took me a moment to realize that I was not imagining it. there it all was right outside the window, and not for the first time I was glad that I didn’t rent a car. There was too much to see, and I didn’t want to miss any of it.
“If you look out out the window to the right you will get a view of Stone manor through these trees in a moment,” the cabie said, “We have to weave around a bit more, so couple more minutes till we get there.”
We all plastered our faces to the window and watched. It was like a dream. The trees broke and we saw the castle. It was just like the pictures had shown. There were two towers and a low wall all the way around it. The castle proper stood in the middle and looked like something out of a story book. I could not take my eyes off it.
“Welcome to Stone Manner, I thank you for coming all the way out here,” The owner was a older man, with slightly thinning hair that was grey with some flecks of brown.
“It was our pleasure,” I said.
“Well let me show you around and then we can go down to the pub, I have arranged for the Mayor to be there to over see the sale.”
“Good we are dieing to see it.”
“This way.” He lead the way into the main hall. The first the we noticed was a powerful smell of saffron that permeated the whole place. It was a pleasant smell even if a bit over powering. “We have to keep the kettle boiling with saffron so keep the cold away,” he said as if reading my mind. “Otherwise you have to break out the chicken soup.” We all laughed but he shot us a dark look.”
“What do you mean,” I asked getting the first sinking feeling since the whole process had started.
“I told you, the castle has a cold. It has for over a hundred years, and we can’t seem to cure it.”
“You mean like it has a bad draft, have you replaced windows and things like that,” Carol ask?
“No, not it is cold, it has a cold. As in it is sick. Put your ears to the stone and you can hear the wheezing, and you don’t want to be around when it it gets bad.”
I put my ear to the nearby wall not knowing what I would hear, and sure enough it sounded like some one with a cold. “How does a castle get a cold?” I asked moving away for the wall.
“Don’t worry, you can’t catch it,” He said noticing the kids and Carol with the hand sanitizer. “Stone Manner was given this cold by a nasty old woman. She was my great aunt. She and my grandmother had vied for the love of my grandfather. She lost out,” he said with a little smile. “But not to be out done, she found a magic way to give their home a cold. It took most of her life, but right after she died the castle got sick.
“You mean she cursed the place,” Carol asked?
“You could say that. But it was not like you see in the movies. She was so jealous that she spend her whole life, brewing it up. The old spinster had to sit in her room night after night listening to Wagner on her Victrola and cooking of the odd herbs. Then day after day she would bring the foul smelling stuff in a tea pot and offer tea to my grandmother. She would refuse of course and it would get dumped in the the garden right out back. The old woman would sit up all night not able to sleep, candle in hand, staring out at the manor house. It was a slow process. But now It has a cold.”
“What do you do for it,” I asked and eying Carol. I was afraid she would want out, and I was still in love with the place.
“We don’t rightly know how to cure it. That is why we are selling it. I have not live here for a few years now. I live down in village, I just have come up here during the day to build the fire up and keep the kettles on. it too much of a pain on an old man, and I have no children of my own to take care of it.”
“Can you live here,” I asked?
“Sure you can. If you don’t mind the smell of the saffron and the wheezing sound when it gets cold. Some times you can hear it through the fireplaces. But enough about this let me show the rest of the place.” He said with a smile and walked out of the main hall.
Stone’s Cold by Jeffrey Hite is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at GreatHites.blogspot.com.