Note: Yesterday's post was so popular I had to play with the idea. This was just an option I came up with. Hope you enjoyed, and happy Friday!
Genre: Mystery/Historical Fiction
Nari pushed open the trap door and climbed the last steps into the attic. Afternoon light filtered through one of the old windows, illuminating the inches of dust. The smell of mothballs assaulted her.
Ten years had passed since she’d last been in her grandmother’s attic. Nari had won a game of hide and seek with her cousins by sneaking into the forbidden area and accidently locking herself in. She’d been too scared of her grandmother’s wrath to ever return.
“How in the hell did I not fall through the floor?”
The attic had never been finished, with several floorboards missing and insulation exposed. Nari wiped her forehead. The cool fall air outside did little to cool the unsealed room.
She crept around the junk, hopping over the dirty insulation. The old chifferobe should be in the corner, unless one of her greedy cousins had already pilfered it. Nana James had only been buried a few days, and the twins were eager to snag everything they could before anyone could sort through Nana’s effects.
The floor was covered in a thick layer of dust and grime, and she didn’t see any footprints. Hers would be the first.
“Mom’s just going to have to deal with it. I’m not looking for shit to sell,” Nari muttered. She’d spent the morning reassuring herself she wasn’t like the boys—all she wanted was to find the thing that had haunted her since she was fifteen.
Still, she felt like a thief. But she wasn’t stopping. Nari had waited long enough.
A set of old, mahogany French doors lie in the middle of the room. From their faded appearance and the tarnished brass fixtures, Nari guessed they were original to the old farmhouse. She stepped around them. A black spider scuttled out from underneath the doors and scrambled to decayed cardboard box.
Nari shivered. God only knew how many of those little bastards were hanging out up here.
The dark corner was blocked by boxes and copious amounts of junk. Nari was amazed at some of the things her grandparents had kept: faucet fixtures, a worn out set of fireplace tools that still stunk of ashes, half of a Lionel train set. Grampy James had even stashed a rusted Radio Flyer wagon up here.
She began clearing a path. Within minutes her shirt was damp with sweat and her hair hung limp. The humidity was almost unbearable.
But she could see her quarry.
The chifferobe had been in Nari’s family for generations. Grampy had said it had made the journey from England with her great-grandfather. By the looks of the large piece, she could believe it. Made of solid oak, the chifferobe’s finish was faded. The bottom had several scuffs, and the wardrobe door didn’t latch.
This was the temptation that had caught her eye as a teenager. What sort of treasures could have been hiding in there?
Now she knew there were no treasures, just a frightening mystery. Or the ramblings of an old man.
Nari pulled open the sagging door, praying no creatures would emerge. The box of letters remained where she’d left them, the lid still on.
She knelt down and pushed it aside. Dust swirled in her face. Her eyes watered and she pressed her nose against her forearm. Last thing she needed was to sneeze all over the letters. They were yellowed with age and brittle to the touch. A sneeze would probably destroy them.
The thing she sought was all the way at the bottom, right where she’d stashed it. The leather journal had originally been at the top of the pile, but Nari had feared the twins would find it. They didn’t deserve to know the family secret.
“It’s probably bullshit.” She gently moved the letters aside and felt around for the journal. “Carson James was ninety when he died. His mind was probably mush.”
But she had to read more. The journal’s first entry had rattled in her brain for ten years. She needed to know why Carson had believed such a heinous thing.
Nari felt the soft leather beneath her fingers. She pulled the journal out and carefully opened it. Carson James had died in 1956; the journal was over fifty years old and the binding had torn.
She didn’t bother to read the first entry again. Nari looked only at the last sentence, the one she’d never forgotten.
My mother was Jack the Ripper.