Rooksnest Manor was a thin place, a place where the veil between worlds was frayed, a place where things came through which had no place here.
It was Christmas Eve and the snow was falling heavily outside. Lily and her five cousins were scattered into the dark corners of the old house, lost in a game of hide and seek. The prize for the winner was the carousel, the exquisite wooden toy that had sat on the desk in the library for longer than anyone could remember. But as she concealed herself in the dusty gloom of an empty bedroom, listening for her grandmother’s footfall in the hallway outside, Lily came to discover that there was something else searching for her in the shadows.
“It was Christmas Eve and a blizzard had been blowing since dawn. By the evening Rooksnest Manor and its grounds were covered in a deep white blanket of snow. Awake at last after the long journey, Lily remained curled up under a quilt on the back seat and listened with joy at the wonderful muffled crunch the tyres made as the car climbed slowly up the gently sloping drive. It was not always in such good spirits that Lily found herself on this long winding approach to the house. She had visited Rooksnest many times in her dreams; although she knew nothing of its history she always woke with the same vague sense of unease, a chill that lingered on long into the warmth of the day. But at Christmas it was always different; at Christmas there was enough light in the house to expose the shadows and drive them back into the old cracked walls.
Lily’s grandfather had bought Rooksnest Manor in the 1920s. The previous owner was a Mr Rothman, by all accounts a giant of a man. After many happy years in the house Mr Rothman was suddenly visited by ruin; losing both his wife and his daughter in the same terrible winter before the Great War. On the surface of the millpond at the back of the house there is said to be a patch of water that remains calm even when the wind disturbs the rest of the pool. It was from thereabouts that they dragged his wife’s floating body. His daughter died shortly after, falling one night from her bedroom window and snapping her neck on the dark lawn below. A verdict was never reached on the cause of their deaths. The only evidence uncovered by investigating officers was a series of faint bootprints in the bedroom of Mr Rothman’s daughter. Although they matched none of the shoes in her father’s cupboard, their unusually large size was enough for villagers to whisper and Mr Rothman went to war a broken man, never returning from the trenches…”