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Feb. 22, 2022

Lady Susannah


Mr Hickson is making a pot of money from his new property development at  Brancaster Towers and it’s a nice place for him to hide his mistress, Roxanna. But who is behind the mysterious door in the West Tower? And what are they looking for from Hickson?

This story was first published in Business Spotlight in 2010

Music by Pixabay and JuliusH, Pixabay.

Photo by Antonio Dillard from Pexels

Transcript

WHEN the nurse pushes Sir Nicholas Talbot into the room in his wheelchair, he seems so old I think he might be dead already. But he isn’t, so our lawyers put the contracts on the table, ready for our signatures. He doesn’t really want to sign and he eyes me and Miles suspiciously, looking for a reason not to.

“Mr Hickson?” he asks Miles. This happens all the time. Miles looks like a cool businessman from a Hollywood film and I’m big and fat and look like I work on a building site, which is in fact where I started. But Miles is just my secretary; I’m now a millionaire property developer and I’m buying Sir Nicholas’s ancient family house.

“This is Mr Hickson, Sir Nicholas,” says Miles, pointing to me.

“Will you live in Brancaster Towers with your family, Mr Hickson?” asks the old man as I sign the papers.

No way! I’m turning the building into thirty-five luxury flats to sell to yuppies and I’m keeping one as a place for my girlfriend Roxana. But the old guy doesn’t need to know this.

“Absolutely, Sir Nicholas,” I lie. “I know Brancaster Towers has been the home of the Talbot family for three hundred years. I plan to move in with my wife and kids and …”

“Very well,” he says as he finally signs. “Look after it carefully.”

I will, I promise myself. This is going to be the best deal of my life.

Later that evening Miles calls me with a good story.

“One of the lawyers told me something about the house,” he says. “When Sir George Talbot first built it in 1705, his wife, Lady Susannah, was caught fooling around with a servant in the West Tower. Sir George had her boyfriend strangled and soon after Lady Susannah killed herself. People say her ghost haunts the West Tower, looking for revenge.”

I laugh and tell Miles my plans for the place and I can’t believe it when he starts talking about the danger of breaking promises. He may look like a film star but he’s got no idea about business. That’s why I trust him. He’s too dumb to be dishonest.

Anyway, a few weeks after I buy the place, one of my companies starts converting Brancaster Towers into flats and I drive down to show them to potential buyers. They practically sell themselves. Only forty-five minutes to London on the motorway and a historical building to live in … it doesn’t get any better than that. And Roxana loves my place on the top floor of the West Tower when she moves in. At first, I plan to keep a flat in the main building – not because I believe the West Tower ghost story stuff – but when a customer offers me an extra 100 K if I let him buy it, I can’t say no. Money talks.

Of course, Roxana needs entertainment, which as a family man I can’t always provide.  I tell Miles to take her to the theatre or shopping with my credit card and keep an eye on her. Sometimes I visit her during the day, but my first chance to stay overnight in the new flat comes out of the blue. My mother-in-law telephones and asks my wife to fly to the south of France for a long weekend. Like all good husbands, I look sad, give her a kiss and send her and the kiddies off in the Rolls Royce to Heathrow airport. And I pick up my toothbrush and drive the Porsche down to Brancaster Towers to pay Roxana a surprise visit.

When I arrive, the flat’s empty. I pour myself a drink and watch the summer sun setting over the gardens. Beautiful, but a waste of good land. I’ll build more houses there soon. I open some champagne and put on some music so there’ll be a romantic atmosphere when Roxana walks in. And then, as I look out of the window, I see Roxana and Miles coming hand-in-hand towards the house, looking like an advertisement for perfume or chocolates or condoms or something. I can’t believe it! How can they betray me like this? How can they treat me with so little respect? I stand behind the front door waiting. They need to learn a lesson.

When I’ve finished, they’re still alive but he has a broken nose, she’s lost some teeth and the flat is wrecked. I only stop hitting when my hands start hurting. I wash the blood off myself in the bathroom, pick up my jacket and leave. Then, as I stand for a moment outside in the corridor, I hear somebody whisper my name from around the corner. I follow the voice and find a narrow staircase I’ve never seen before, leading up to a door. I push it – hard – fall inside and there is a bang as it slams shut behind me. The room is silent, except for the noise of my breathing. Although it’s July, it feels cold. As my eyes adjust, I gradually see a pale shape in the dark. It has no face but I know it is staring at me and I’m frozen with fear. It grows taller and taller and reaches out towards me.

“Leave me alone! What do you want?” I whimper as icy fingers circle my neck.

“Revenge …” Lady Susannah says. “Revenge…”