Mr. Kensley had wanted to own the mansion for a very long time. He almost fell in love with it the first time he saw it. For some reason, no one else seemed to be interested in purchasing such a good property. Money wasn’t an issue either. So he bought it as soon as he could. He sent a bunch of people beforehand to clean and furnish the place. Today was the shifting day. He started off in a good mood, but something or the other kept going wrong.
It started with a broken vase, then a shattered gold picture frame, then his sprained ankle. His wagon seemed to be in a bad mood too. It broke down thrice in a two-hour ride. It seemed odd for so many bad things to happen on such a bright day. But nothing could stop him today.
More than a bit off-schedule, he finally reached the Mansion of Spectre.
“Ah, no,” said Mr. Kensley for the hundredth time, “Don’t go by the name, it has nothing to do with any sort of ghosts.”
He had been asked this question since the day he bought the mansion.
“I prefer to call it the Snow Palace though,” he would say. “My Snow Palace.”
He entered the mansion with a whole procession of servants handling his stuff and looked around in admiration. His Snow Palace. The house of his dreams. He walked around surveying the crystal floor, the marble statues, the diamond hangings and the velvet carpets. The place really was beautiful. It seemed like a piece of heaven. Too beautiful to be true, as if it were just an illusion. Just so perfect that it was almost creepy.
“I hope my room is ready.” His tone suggested that if it wasn’t, then someone might as well be prepared to lose his job. He didn’t have any shortage of servants anyhow.
He climbed the marble stairs that led to the first floor and took a stroll around. He opened each and every one of the rooms and admired their beauty. At last he reached his own room, the biggest one in the whole mansion, and pushed open the doors.
“WHAT THE HELL?!”
The servants came running hearing their master’s scream.
“W-what is it sir?”
“YOU TELL ME!”
The servants peeped inside the room and stared in horror. Inside, everything was in ruins. The furniture was rotting. The ceilings were covered in cobwebs. A blanket of dust covered the room. But the worst of all – there was something right in the centre of the room that shouldn’t be there.
“Sir, we should have told you this earlier. But, but you see sir… there’s something, I mean, someone who’s… who’s here… I mean…”
“I very well know what you mean. And I’ve told you a thousand times that THERE’S NOTHING LIKE A GHOST!”
“S-sir, we know you don’t believe in this. But they don’t call it the Mansion of Spectre for nothing.”
“I don’t care. Shift my stuff to a different room. And I want my room back in place by tomorrow, get it?”
The servants nodded and Mr. Kensley set off in rage. Whosoever had done this, spoiled his beautiful room, would have to pay for it.
Just when he was turning towards his room, his eyes caught something he hadn’t noticed earlier. Another room, at the far end of the corridor. But there was something different about it. It didn’t have carved doors with silver handles like the others. Instead. it had an old shabby door with a large rusty padlock.
Servants were called again and he made them open the lock despite their constant pleading. But the door wouldn’t budge.
“This door hasn’t been opened in hundred years,” the servants said. “This is where the girl died. They say that her sprit still lives here. She loved the house very much and doesn’t let anyone enter here.”
“Rubbish,” said Mr. Kensley.
After several attempts of opening the door, he finally gave up. He locked the door again and went to a different room to sleep.
Somehow, he couldn’t sleep. He kept tossing and finally stepped out of the room. Outside, darkness covered the entire mansion. He walked towards the ‘mystery’ door again and stood there staring for a long time. Then he shook his head and turned back. But just as suddenly he turned again. The lock was missing.
He could swear he had locked the door. He did it himself. He even had the keys with him. He slowly walked towards the door and gave it a gentle push. This time it opened with a creak. He peered into the room.
Inside was just a different world. The room was just perfect. Gleaming perfect. Not even a particle of dust. The walls were lined with a pink wallpaper and the shelves were filled with toys. There was a fluffy bed in the centre and a cartoon-drawn writing table opposite to it. It looked like a kid’s room. He entered the room.
The door closed behind him. He shuffled in his pocket and pulled out a tiny torch. A toy train track was lying on the bed as if – as much as he hated to admit it – someone had just set it up. He shuddered at the thought and walked back to the door. He tried to pull it open, but it wouldn’t budge.
He jumped at the voice. “Wh-who’s it?”
“Me? I’m your friend.”
“What friend? Who’s it?”
The voice laughed.
“Just stop this right now! Who’s there?”
“You guess. Come, find me. I’m just here.”
He slowly walked towards the voice. It was coming from somewhere near the bed. He crept towards the edge of the bed. He couldn’t see anyone there. And then he saw where it was coming from. He frowned at the cassette player.
“Ha! Fooled ya!”
He shut it off. “Might’ve knocked it off when I came here,” he mumbled to himself. Somehow, the prank cassette didn’t make the room any less creepy. Much to his surprise, the door was wide open. Without wasting a single moment, he rushed out into his own room.
The next morning, Mr. Kensley woke up to sounds of loud thudding and drilling.
“What is it?” He asked one of his servants, who was standing there with his bed tea.
“It’s the door, sir. It was jammed. You wanted it opened, so we called someone to do the job. It will be done any moment now.”
“What are you talking about? I opened it myself last night.”
“No sir, that’s not possible. It was still jammed this morning.”
Mr. Kensley hurriedly got off his bed and ran towards the other end of the corridor. They had just managed to open the door.
He pushed his way to the room. He stopped at the edge of the room and stared inside white-faced. The room was nothing like what he saw last night. It really did look like it hadn’t been opened in 100 years. It was covered with dust and cobwebs all around, just like the room that was supposed to be his. But the shelves were still filled with toys and there was still a train track on the bed, except this time it didn’t seem like it had just been set up.
Shuddering and shivering, with goosebumps all over him, he stepped into the room. There was a cassette player lying in one corner of the room, like someone had knocked it off – a hundred years ago.
A piece of paper lay on the writing table- the only thing he didn’t see the night before. Somehow, it seemed to pull him towards itself. It had something written on it in a handwriting that seemed to belong to a small child:
“I love my house. It’s white as snow and I love it. It’s forever mine. I won’t ever leave my house, even after I die. It’s my home, and I and only I can live in it. Everything in my house belongs to me and everything that comes into my house is mine. Nothing ever goes out of my house, and anything that comes inside, never goes out ever again.
P.S.: Trespassers shall be punished.”
It’s evening. The moon has come up and the mansion is glimmering in its light. A feast is going on inside. The party is in full swing. But it isn’t Mr. Kensley who’s celebrating. Somehow, he doesn’t seem to be anywhere around.
“And you should’ve seen his face,” says Manny, “He was barely able to make a sound! Poor fellow,” he says, laughing so hard that he’s barely able to get the words out of his mouth.
“And that ‘anything coming inside the house and never leaving again’ line really worked,” says Sarah. “He didn’t dare take any of his stuff with him. He literally ran out barefooted!”
“Silly fellow! And the way his army of servants followed behind him,” says Olive, hands holding his belly.
“He left quite a treasure behind. We’ll be feasting for the rest of our lives!”
“Hey look! We’re in the papers,” says Peck. “The cops are behind us again.”
“Let them be. They’ll never find us.”
“What if someone hints them our location?”
“Even if they do,” says Manny, “Who’ll dare to enter the ‘Mansion of Spectre’?”