A new little project inspired by messing about on Instagram.

Phantasmagoria - lamppost at night

All things start from darkness, he thought, looking ahead to where the path vanished from sight. The beer and brandy of the evening blurred the edges of things. He itched with a ‘midnight’ sort of feeling. Generally he liked the nighttime – but now his skin prickled in warning of something waiting in the shadows. He paused on the edge of the pool of darkness. The unseeable path seemed to be waiting for him, silently urging him in. His curiosity ignited; he could turn back the way he’d come, rejoin the main road, avoid the poorly lit Cemetery Lane – but he wanted to know what would happen next. He took a deep breath, walked onwards into the unknown.

Phantasmagoria - mansion on the hill

Out of the darkness and into the light; shadows replaced by a rolling dreamscape – a hillside basking in an autumnal evening. A childhood spent looking for magical worlds in wardrobes had prepared him for this moment. It felt strangely inevitable. And yet, there was a quiet feeling of foreboding rumbling deeply inside him. There was a house in the distance that seemed to want his attention. All the windows were blank and dead apart from one, from which an un-earthly light radiated. The light flickered as a shadowy silhouette passed the window. Someone was home. Someone was waiting for him.

Phantasmagoria - house on the hill as the sun sets

As he approached, an inviting string of lights illuminated the side of the house with a warm glow, as if to say – ‘no! There’s no danger here! None at all! What a preposterous suggestion!’. Indeed, it felt like the kind of place that should have been echoing with merriment; the veranda adorned with glamorous young things sipping drinks from elegant glasses as the sun set to a swinging soundtrack of 20’s jazz; there should have been life and noise, but there was only stillness and silence, belying the jolly bulbs. Despite the growing feeling of unease, he walked on towards the front entrance.

Phantasmagoria 4

The tall front door was locked. He edged round to the back of the house to try the French windows; also locked. At the far side of the house he found a grotty Fire Exit door. “But it’s for existing, not entering,” he said aloud. His grandmother’s voice sounded in his head with one of her funny little sayings; “If you don’t know where to start, go to the end and work your way back.” Well, an exit was an ending of sorts. He pushed and was surprised to feel it give; the door seemed almost to open for him.

Phantasmagoria 5

He was in a long, plush corridor. It was too long – he couldn’t see an end point, it seemed to stretch on forever, lined with identical doors, and it was quiet as the grave. Turning back, he was unsurprised to find that it was the same behind; endless. He couldn’t tell which door he had entered by. He tried one at random and found himself in a small, familiar room, which belonged to another time and place entirely: Granny Sunshine’s downstairs toilet. He was confronted once again with the diorama that hung above the olive loo; the dead birds looked at him steadily, judgemental, scrutinising with their little glass eyes, as they had when he was a boy. It had seriously given him the creeps, leading to some unfortunate lapses in aim when pissing – and yet he had always found himself venturing back to it, rather than using the pink, warm bathroom upstairs. What was it that had always drawn him back?