SEMIOTICS VI

Benjamin Farrow
Copied Direct from Field Journal

Just arrived at the main gates, taking a minute in the car to get my bearings.

I used to wonder why it took three months after the estate went dark for anyone to get concerned enough to investigate. It’s one of the largest houses in the world, so I didn’t think it would be that easy to miss.

Turns out, no matter how big a house is, the woods around it are bigger. The Madigan Estate isn’t “right next to” White Oak. It’s a full forty minutes out of town on a narrow, serpentine road. No one back then would have bothered to come here unless they absolutely had to. Even the servants lived on the grounds.

I feel really alone out here. The silence is incredible. I turned off my car and the quiet just rushed in. Nowadays the Madigan Estate is pinned between two national forests, but back when it was built (starting 1881? Double-check with Quinn), I think it was just straight-up wilderness.

Will need to do more research into the history of the area: how it was impacted by the Civil War, how the Madigan family came to own such a large amount of land in the area, etc. Or maybe I’ll delegate that to Quinn. She loves that stuff.

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The damn gates are locked. I thought Jane would make sure they were open for me. Not a huge deal for today? The wall is low, so I can still get in, but I’ll have to walk the rest of the way to the house. Car has to stay here.

Hope I have my hiking boots in the trunk.

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These grounds are huge. I think I’m going the right way, but everything is overgrown. I guess it should have occurred to me that when people were barred from the estate, that also meant the gardeners.

I’d heard that some kind of tree disease hit the oaks in this area sometime in the 1930s (disease or beetle? Check with Quinn), and I guess I’m seeing the remnants of it now. There are a lot of dead trees here. Dead trees of the spooky variety, too -- all bare and white and brittle. I know the state wants to clean this place up soon, and I do not envy whoever has to come in here with a chainsaw and hack up all this deadwood.

Here’s hoping I come out the other side soon. The house is supposed to be surrounded by a broad lawn and a number of flower gardens (all of which, hopefully, are devoid of trees).

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Just occurred to me -- why no vandals or looters? You’d think this place would have been picked clean by now, but I’m not seeing any sign that anyone has even brushed the undergrowth around here. The gates were locked, but there was no graffiti on the walls, no carvings in the trees, nothing. It’s not like this place is well-guarded. Weird.

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I found the house. Well, “house” isn’t exactly the right word. I wasn’t prepared for the size of it. The only thing keeping me from calling it a castle is the lack of battlements. Actually, it might technically be a castle. I’m not an expert on architecture, but the Madigan Manor seems to be an interesting combination of the Neo-Gothic and Châteauesque styles. There’s a gatehouse, at least, at the start of the drive leading up to the front doors.

It’s beautiful. I hate everything that leads people to build houses like this - the exploitation, the wildly unbalanced distribution of wealth - but I can’t deny that, aesthetically, it’s gorgeous.

It’s faded now, dilapidated and overgrown, and from here I think I see places where the roof has fallen in. Very sad, but I’m not a materialist, and all I care about is whether the front doors are as rusted out as the rest of this place. They should be unlocked, of course, but after ripping my pants climbing over the wall to get in, I have a feeling I’m on my own.

I should mind, but I really don’t. Kind of loving it, actually. Haven’t had an adventure like this since my urban explorer phase back in college.

So far, a disappointing lack of ghosts.