The 26 eclectic-genre short stories for my #AtoZChallenge are excerpts from travelogue notes by
novel character Gahlen, who first appeared in SHARDS OF MEMORY – Oral History in a Heartbeat.
Each A-to-Z daily post is a complete, stand-alone tale - partly true, partly fiction.
Lichtentanne Castle Apparition
Genre: Paranormal Reign
High-pitched voices attracted my attention. I glanced outside at the moat of Burg Schonfels Castle and spotted three school-aged girls skipping atop the wall. They played tag, the shortest girl chasing after the others. Through her eyes, I somehow gained the benefit of seeing a stunning view. The castle overlooked a sprawling Saxon countryside. A field of poppies offered a striking contrast to vibrant foliage and the river’s shimmering water.
As the girl glanced toward the village, I sensed the warnings her parents had issued about never entering the castle grounds. She recalled tales of sorrowful moans coming from within the castle on windy nights. Unease overtook me as she focused on a room directly above me.
Apparently, the most stressful moaning emanated from that room. Anyone within range described the vibrations as voice-like. Rampant town gossip followed any particularly active period.
The girl’s thoughts turned to folklore about a royal child drowning in the moat’s murky waters centuries earlier. Tales made mention of foul play for any number of suspicious reasons. Such thoughts excited the girl but terrified me.
Many placed blame for the drowning on the royal child’s claim to a jealous king’s throne; others believed the drowning occurred when the mute toddler grew unmanageable. A version that caused me and the girl to shiver involved the royal child’s deranged mother. No one knew what she might have done one sleepless night. Regardless the rumors, often disbelieved but never disproved, the moans continued.
The school girls raced faster along the moat’s wall. Then the slipper of the shortest girl caught the edge of a protruding stone. She fell, closing her eyes. The scene faded. Curious to know more, I squeezed my eyelids shut.
The girl reappeared with her eyes wide open. We stood in an unkempt, upper room of the castle. Frowning at me, she said, “You were told not to come up here.”
I ignored her reprimand. “How did the royal child die?”
“The child lived to be king.” She glanced toward a crib fitted with a rotting mattress. “A royal descendant is who suffered poorly the anticipation of such unrelenting burden.”
With that, her eyes closed for good.