That first night the dark was so deliciously freeing. Since her arrival at this wretched house, Charlotte had felt the invisible bars of her prison and the constant attention paid to her presence. When she was forced to attend the evening meals, she was appallingly aware that she was being watched by both Kent and his shrew of a wife. While Charlotte was used to being the woman to whom is paid special attention, she was finding that this situation had grown rather tiresome and her discomfort levels getting much too high for her liking. How utterly relieving that she should find this forgotten space in which she could escape. It was a drafty, hideous area but for what she desired, it was absolutely perfect. Or so she thought.
That first time leading up those ancient steps to the upstairs section of the wing still made her pulse quicken at the memory of it. This part of the house seemed much older than the rest and it kept the very image of another day and age. There was no electricity up there and no means to install anything or plug in any lamps as far as she could tell. In the dark that first night, it had been so difficult to see and she’d been wickedly tempted to use some of the old oil lamps that were strewn about. That they still had oil in them to use made it feel as though she had been expected. Perhaps it was just that anyone might happen upon the space and be welcomed into the fold with its waiting lamps and tantalizing areas to explore in its many rooms. Much like the lamps, from what little Charlotte had been able to see initially, she could tell that each room was a small, sparsely decorated room with a bed. Each bed was made up like it was expecting a new occupant any moment. How very tempting it had been to simply give into her want to find a place to rest where the house could not bother her. She could still hear that beast of a man below, thrashing about in the wing looking to find her cowering somewhere. That he should think so little of her was a deep insult that burnt in her for days afterwards. She would see to it that he paid for that wound to her dignity and her reputation. It had been so tempting to curl up in one of these beds, just a single floor above where he raged and know for certain that he would not find her. If not for the horrid look of the space, she might have.
Oh it was charming, in its own hideous way. The small, hidden staircase that was clearly to service only the servants of the house turned at a sharp angle to a doorway. The unlocked door led to a much better maintained, short set of steps into an open space that may well have been a time capsule. It was the start of a wide hallway that was flanked on both sides with doors leading to those empty rooms. Curiously, both sides had access to windows but the side to the right had the shades drawn and nailed down that they may not be opened. Though it was possible to peek outside through the sides, Charlotte found that it was odd to insist on such measures and odder still that the only thing it really blocked was the less than stellar view of the roof of the house. True, there was an alcove in there somewhere from what she could see. The first time she ventured there, it had been much too dark to see anything but, as luck would have it, she happened upon this discovery just as a light came on and the alcove was exposed. It had been too difficult to make out anything proper but she had seen what looked like Kent fuming as he wandered about. She could only guess it was the balcony to the master bedroom. Odd that she might be able to see him but that measures had been taken that the master bedroom occupant would not be able to see her. It led her to wonder about the nature of this house and whom had been in charge of renovations.
Charlotte had since ventured there a few more times when she knew it was safe to keep her secret. The next time, she had made her way during the height of the daytime hours. She’d been eager to see more than the dark of her first journey allowed but found that it was quite difficult to get to her little hideaway with so many other prying eyes around. Since his last little tantrum, Kent had been in a vile mood and had been more than happy to replace his anger towards Charlotte on the staff. They had come to the wing seeking refuge and more than once, they had accidentally brought him with them in their haste to get away. In one such incident, Charlotte had managed to elude anyone’s attention long enough to spirit herself up the steps towards the hidden rooms and was barely able to make it safely away from the brute. In this instance, however, she saw the rooms in a very different light. A much more sinister light.
Up the small stairs and into the larger hall, she found her way back towards the little rooms and upon getting to safer places, she’d initially gotten that same urge to be petty about her little escape. She still stopped short of actually finding a resting spot up there but it had been so tempting to know that he wanted so badly to abuse her and would never be able to find his way to this spot. She’d gone as far as to wander into the room directly above him, listening to his tirades and sputtering anger. It was then that she realized that she was not above the forgotten wing any longer. She checked the vents and upon opening them up just a crack, she saw through the thin slivers that she was above the main sitting room. Master Reginald was pacing angrily as he motioned and shouted at random intervals. Much like her previous hiding place within the walls, she could hear with crystal clarity even as his shouting and cursing faded to mutters and growls beneath his breath. This lovely spot might have been altogether perfect for her to garner some method of escape or, at the very least some deliciously nasty blackmail, if it had not been for what she realized next.
It had been a slight, if not curious detail that had first drawn her attention. Charlotte had noticed it when she’d first opened the vent but upon closing it, she paused to take note of the tiny brass flower that had adorned the knob on the closure. The filigree design was rather delicate and though it wasn’t modern at all, she found it somewhat endearing. Something she might have thought rather fetching when she were a child. This gave her pause and she looked up to see that her instinct was correct. There were other hints of this being a child’s room. Or, at least a room that expected a child to be there. Though there were no real decorations on the wall, the small, delicate touches hinted of a young girl’s bedroom though the bed was for a full adult. A bed, she noted, that had a small flower print motif on it. Looking around the room, she found that beneath the heavy layer of dust were small crawlspaces within which were hidden toys and dolls. Charlotte felt a prickling run through her body with each new discovery in this drab room. More than once, she actually thought that she had been caught as she felt herself being watched. Quickly, she left the room and went to explore another. This one was similar in its decor but this time, it had much more of the items that she would have once found in Victor’s room. Again, the bed was for a full sized adult and yet the sheets were decorated with a childish print. In this room, she found herself getting even more uncomfortable as she opened up the drawers and found more toys and, in the closet, clothing this time. A dress that had been wrapped up to prevent dust from settling on it and, more tellingly, a larger gown next to it. A hospital gown that would be thrown over a woman who was heavily pregnant. Charlotte could not stand the sight of it. She went to the rooms on the other side, and in the day, she found that the shutters let in little light to see by. It was enough to illuminate the edges of metal tables and other minor equipment that had been left behind. All things that might be more at home in a surgeon’s care.