The Taylight Zone - Anthology Three

09 - The Cupola - Laylei

It was supposed to be a normal, friendly vacation.

They were supposed to be safe out here. Way out in the middle of nowhere.

They were wrong.

Taylor sighed heavily, and turned the corner in the immense house. He had been here for two weeks, with his whole family, on holiday. His parents had decided that, after the stress of touring, they could use a break. And Andréa Adare, Diana old friend from their traveling gospel choir, called, and asked her to house-sit the Adare Manor, while Andréa and Daniel Adare were on vacation in the French Countryside. Of course, Diana agreed, and, so, here they were, staying in the famed Adare Manor, for a month. In the middle of rural New York. Miles from town. Sure, it was beautiful, but one could only spend so many days wandering about an old house before that one goes insane. Look what happened to that guy in The Shining, what was his name? Oh yes, Jack Torrance. He was cooped up in a hotel (well, this was close enough), and he went completely psychotic. Taylor sighed again and turned another corner.

Right in front of him was a large, oak door. He reached out and jiggled the brass knob. Locked, of course. But where did it go? He shivered as an icy chill ran down his spine. He turned to go, but stopped. Something was drawing him to that door. An unquenchable flame of curiosity began to burn in the pit of his stomach. He swallowed and laid his forehead on the door. It felt…warm. And he could hear something inside. Tinkling. Like bells, or wind chimes. He looked down. Small patches of colored light seeped from beneath the door. He felt dozy, and peaceful. The faint chiming was soothing to his frazzled nerves. He tried the knob again. Still locked.

Taylor stepped away from the door, leaned his back against it, and sank down. He stared at the opposite wall. Four portraits hung there. He stood, and pulled the chain on an old-fashioned lamp, casting a warm glow throughout the dim hallway. Each of the portraits showed a child. He walked to the first. A little girl, about six or seven, was portrayed there. Her glossy brown hair flew about her china-doll face, and her dark eyes were full of pure, innocent childish wonderment. She was sitting in a cherry-blossom tree, looking so at peace and happy. He looked at the nameplate on the dark wood frame. Deirdre Elise Adare. September 9, 1904 - September 9, 1910. Taylor placed his hand on the painting glass, almost as to stroke her face. Six years old.

He walked to next. This one portrayed a boy about his age. His hair was dark, and hung in his eyes, which glowed a hypnotic green from his pale, smooth face. He was sitting on an old-fashioned swing, surrounded by ivy. He looked so fresh, yet those eyes were haunted. He expression was solemn, and, upon closer examination, he looked about to cry. The look was forlorn. The nameplate. Damian Erik Adare. September 9, 1904 - September 9, 1919. 1904…Damian was Deirdre's twin brother. Could that explain the look of despair? And why did they both die on their birthdays?

The next painting contained a young girl, about…eight? Nine? Somewhere around there. Her hair, the same gorgeous color as little Deirdre's, hung in ringlets, a little past her shoulders. She was crouched in a garden, surrounded by red roses. He back was toward the painting, but she was slightly turned, and you got most of her profile. Her dark eyes were laughing, and a faint smile was tugging at the corners of her mouth. Her pale skin was porcelain-perfect, with a rosy glow in her cheeks. She looked so carefree. How he wished he could be like her! Angeline Rose Adare. September 9, 1910 - September 9, 1920. Ten years old? Why did all of them die so young? And on the same day?

Then there was the last portrait. A girl, about twelve, sat there. Her identical brown hair was plaited into a thick braid that hung down her back. She was pale, and drawn looking, sad. Her dark-blue eyes looked so full of pain and sorrow. She sat in the midst of a sea of lilies and crocuses. Tendrils fell in her porcelain face. Jocelyn Marie Adare. September 9, 1919 - September 9, 1931.

Taylor backed away from the paintings. All four of them were born on September 9th of different years, and all of them died on September 9th of…wait a minute. Deirdre died in 1910, the same day that Angeline was born. And Damian died 1n 1919, the year Jocelyn was born. Angeline died exactly a year after Damian. Taylor's head was pounding. That's when he heard it. A soft bang from behind him. From behind the locked door. His eyes widened in terror, and he reached for the knob. Suddenly, a crazy thought entered his head: It's unlocked, Taylor my boy. It's unlocked, and the monster (monsters?) behind it are going to get you if you go in there. Still want to go in their? Didn't think so. Taylor shook his head and grabbed the polished brass. "Taylor, please! Listen to me! Run! Run as far away from this door, and this house, as fast as you can. You still have time!" that little voice inside of him pleaded. He ignored it, and started to turn the knob, when a voice hissed in his ear, "Curiosity killed the cat, and curiosity is going to kill you, my boy. I'm gonna getcha." Taylor screamed and backed away, running away from the hall and the paintings and that door.

Later that day…

Taylor was sitting in the library of the manor, flipping through the family history. "There! Early 1900s!" he whispered to himself, pushing his glasses farther up his nose and bent over the book. "The Haunted Cupola of Adare Manor. It all started September 9th, in 1910, when six-year-old Deirdre Elise Adare fell from one of the windows in the cupola, landing in the center of the floor, dying instantly, on her sixth birthday. At that very moment, her baby sister Angeline was born. Nothing happened in the cursed Cupola until September 9th, 1919. Up in the Cupola, nine-year-old Angeline was brutally raped by sixteen-year-old Frederick Jones, a friend of fifteen-year-old Damian Erik Adare's. When Damian couldn't find the pair, he burst into the Cupola and caught Frederick in the act. He attacked Frederick, and the two brawled, until Frederick threw Damian down the Cupola's stairs, killing him. At the very moment Damian died, Jocelyn was born. Angeline never mentally recovered from the rape, or watching her brother die. On September 9th, 1920, ten-year-old Angeline Rose Adare hung herself in the cupola, while baby sister Jocelyn watched. Nothing happened after that for a great while. Thomas and Patrice Adare, the children's parents, locked the Cupola's doors, and forbid Jocelyn to ever go there. She obeyed, until September 9th, 1932, on her twelfth birthday, where she, supposedly, entered the Cupola, and choked to death on an apple. Thomas and Patrice found her body. After that, Patrice had a nervous breakdown, and they were forced to move away, to the city. The property and the house were turned over to Thomas's brother, Peter Adare, and the property has remained in that family line ever since. The paintings of the four children remain in the hallway of the Cupola, reminding everyone of it's tragic tale," Taylor read, his breath catching in his throat. Now the small blaze of curiosity had turned into a bonfire of obsession. He had to see that room. And he had to see it now. He grabbed the book, marked his place, and started running full speed for the room. He looked at his watch. September Ninth.

He could feel it. Something special was going to happen in there; on this anniversary. Ninety-two years since Deirdre. Seventy-nine for Damian. Seventy-eight since Angeline. And sixty-six since Jocelyn's tragic passing. It had to count for something. He reached the door. His hand hesitated on the knob. He turned and looked one more at the paintings. The were still the same, smiling sweetly as always. Something took control of his mind. It wasn't a want anymore; his life seemed to depend on seeing that room. Jocelyn's eyes seemed to plead for him not to go in. Damian's burning eyes were full of wisdom. It seemed like God himself was communicating through Damian's eyes. Taylor turned his back on the paintings. He gripped the doorknob tightly and turned it.

It was, indeed, unlocked. He pushed the door open carefully. Dust fell from the hinges; it hadn't been opened in ages. He stepped inside.

The room itself looked like it had been cleaned just recently; not a speck of dust. Sunlight streamed through the stained-glass windows, causing the floors to be bathed in color. The wind chimes, high above, were tinkling cheerily. Taylor looked up. He could see a bit of a rotting rope up there, hanging down from in-between those glorious wind chimes and prisms of glass. 'It is true,' he thought to himself. In the exact center of the round room was a small table. He walked over to it, and set the book down. It fell open to the page with the story. He didn't notice. He was staring at the table. There was a note.

"Dearest Taylor,"
We've been waiting for you.
A very, very, very long time.
And now it's time for you to join us.
You'll like it here in the Cupola. We all do. We always have. And we always will.
Hope you like your present. It's next to this note.
Oh, and don't bother trying to open the door or scream. It's locked, and no one can hear you anyway.
See You Soon.
Love Always,
September Ninth, 1998.

Taylor stared in shock. Then he turned his head and looked at the gun next to the note. He picked it up. He felt a cold blast run through him, almost as if saying, run!!! Get out of there!!! But he couldn't. He was snared in it's deadly web. And he couldn't be happier.

He stared at one of the windows. There they were. Waiting and smiling. Taylor smiled back, and raised the gun to his temple.

The sound of the gunshot faded.

And from their position upon high, the wind chimes held still watching the blood spread over the floor, watching the fair body slump to the floor, watching the golden spirit join the others, for an eternity in this accursed Cupola, before returning to their crystal song.