The last email I received from Quinn had two files attached. One was a public record article on the suicide death of a Jonathan Lawley in 1930 - it's very short and depressingly sparse on details (it mentions Lawley Orchards in passing, and that they were owned by the Lawley family, but that's it). I might copy it out later but it’s not in the time frame I’m looking at right now.
The other was a missing persons poster for Alethe Lawley. Apparently she vanished in late 1917, just after her sister’s death, and was never seen again. That’s probably where Quinn had heard her name before - I know she likes to browse old records of unsolved mysteries in this area.
I bet Alethe came straight to the estate when Hazel died. She didn’t sound like the sort of person to break a promise.
I wonder if she’s buried here? Maybe it was her finger bone I found in the winter garden.
Once I got set up, I took a walk through the house. What was it Quinn said? Fifty bedrooms? Twenty parlors? Seventy fireplaces? The northwest wing of the house is collapsed in on itself, and the upper floors are a little too shaky for me to explore safely, but I’ve been through half the rooms, maybe more, and while I can feel the opulence that once filled this place the only word left to describe it is empty. Quiet. Even a haunting has some life to it, but this house is dead.
I’m thinking I might take my search outside the house. Now that I’m sort of living here for the moment I probably have time t I noticed the trees? Not in a while. They don’t want to be noticed, their white and twisting branches shy away from me whenever I look toward them. Even the ones growing through the windows don’t like it when I search the gardener’s cottage and the carriage house. Hazel mentioned something about the gardener in her letter. Yeah I think I’ll make that my next stop.
I’ve got to be missing something, right? More than fifty servants living in this house and on the grounds, and probably close to a dozen Madigans (just going off my estimation of the known size of the family and their probable ages at the time of the 1918 incident). Quinn is right - where is the writing? I feel almost like it’s been hidden from me.
And don’t think I’m not aware of my time frame, either. What happens if the state decides my time is up and I have to leave? I’ll get sick again. I don’t know if it’ll kill me to be away from this place, but I feel like it will. So I have to hurry. I have to keep digging.
Is it silly that I don’t want to admit how scared I am? Like something watching me will see that as a weakness or something. I’d feel better if I felt like something was watching me. I keep listening for distant noises, a creak of stairs or a thump of footsteps or a scratching in the walls … but there’s nothing. I know there was more life here when I first arrived. I remember how green and bright the woods were, how loud the birds were singing when I first pulled up to the estate. Now I feel like it’s pulling back. Hiding.
Maybe it was what I saw on the stairs - my “double.” Maybe he scared it all away. Or maybe it was me. I’m an outsider, after all. First person to set foot here in about a hundred years.
So much has changed in just a few days. I was so excited for this project, but now I wish I had never come here. It’s not just the sickness and the vomiting and the strange things happening around me. I keep getting this sense that I interrupted something. Like I … stopped some kind of process. You know when you walk in on your parents and you can tell they’ve just been arguing? I can feel the ghost of an unfinished conversation hanging in the air, rotting. Getting twisted up and tangled in its own abrupt stagnation.
A splinter. That’s what I am. I’m a splinter digging into an unhealed wound. It’s a really distinct feeling, sort of … I can’t shake it. But I’ve been through the whole house with not much to show for it. There has to be an answer here somewhere. There has to be.
I’m going out to the gardener’s cottage. I’ll record my findings there.
stop dig ging
stop digg i n g
digg ing stop digg ign stop digging sstop diggigng ssstopp digging g stops tidggding stops tidigddidng gogsos
pt sosto psstop