Manderley

It's time for a mashup. Let's take the classic Daphne Du Maurier story *Rebecca* and see what happens when we apply H. P. Lovecraft's style of writing to it....

Last night I dreamed I came again to Manderley. The car glided up the drive, the rhododendrons crowding in on either side, dark and monstrous like the moonless night. The house reared up before me, crenellated and bespired, a gothic imagining of the houses of drowned R’lyeh. The car hissed to a halt before the doors, and they swung silently inwards, the angles still subtly wrong. Mrs. Danvers slithered across the threshold, phosphorescent slime dripping from the cilia that formed her face, and greeted me in glutinous tones that sent a shiver down my spine.

“Welcome back,” she said, sounding like she was gargling molasses.  “Rebecca is up with Mr. de Winter.”

I heard the baying of the Hounds, unsacred dogs imported from remote Tindalos for whom any corner is but a doorway, and my blood felt like ice in my veins. Rebecca was dead, thrown from a horse into the crashing surf and Maximillian de Winter was my husband… wasn’t he?
Somehow I was outside the car now, and try as I might, I could not wake.

Mrs. Danvers slithered back in across the threshold, beckoning me to follow her with a hand that seemed abnormally long and pale.  The car's engine purred back to life and before I could open the door and return to relative safety the driver had put it into gear and pulled away.  I listened to the crunch of the wheels as he turned on to the gravelled path that lead around the house to the stables and wondered what madness had seized me that I had returned to Manderley.

Left with little choice now I went into the house, and the door swung shut behind me with an echoing slam.  The first time I had been here that had scared me, but an afternoon spent with a screwdriver and a torch had uncovered the hydraulic lines that enabled the door to be opened and closed remotely.  At the time I had thought it most amusing, though now I wondered at the kind of mind that tried to fool its guests so.

The house was as badly lit as I remembered; gaslights burned dimly in the wall-sconces, and any attempt to turn them up would only enrage Mrs. Danvers.  The hall still smelled of damp and sulphur, and too many of the doors in the hallway stood ajar.  I had locked them, one after the other, closing away things that should not be disturbed, things that should not be seen, and in two cases, things that simply should not be.  I doubted that Max would have reopened them; he had an unwillingness to face up to reality and as he had abandoned anything in the house that Rebecca has owned after she'd died, so I'd expected him to abandon anything that I had touched when I was there.

I sniffed, and regretted it, the musty damp mixing unpleasantly with the sulphur, a hint of something acrid, and the earthy, mucosal stench of the Hounds.  Clearly my last orders on the regular airing and cleaning of the house were not being heeded.

Mrs. Danvers led me into the library and left me there, slithering away with the sounds of a hundred worms mating.  I looked around me; the ancient bookcases built from driftwood thrown up on the shore still towered to the ceiling and lined all the walls.  The glass-fronted ones were open again, despite my locking them and then swallowing the key.  Morbid curiosity drew me over, but the locks had not been forced that I could see.  The dust on the books had been cleaned off, and several of the books had left tracks in the dust on the shelves: they had been taken down and presumably read.

The shelf of romantic fiction I'd put out was missing in its entirety, and I wished as I saw this that I didn't feel faintly satisfied, as though some part of me had known that this must happen.

Mrs. Danvers slithered back into the room, the cilia on her face spread wide and glowing brightly, a sign of happiness for that unhappy monster.

"Rebecca will be in to see you shortly," she announced.

The End

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