“But why this house?
Simon Eldridge was an American who came to England in middle age. His new home nestled in a clutch of woodland beside the River Dee: in the eighteenth century it had served as a watermill, but now, in 1921, it was disused and dilapidated.
Rumours about the place have circulated for over a century. Strange meetings and robed figures, bonfires blazing in unoccupied rooms, evil chants echoing through the trees. The mill is cursed. No villagers venture there.
In the early 1850s, the surrounding land was bought by a merchant banker from London. ‘Most disappointing,’ was the banker’s verdict to the villagers. ‘There seems to be nothing untoward about the place. The only feature of mild interest to me is the octagonal room.’
Off the blank looks of his audience, he grew uneasy. ‘From a purely architectural perspective,’ he felt obliged to qualify.
‘But sir,’ said the publican, ‘what octagonal room?’
The original architectural plans were duly consulted. And true enough, on those sketches there was no sign of an octagonal room. But forces had been at work, constructing an eight-sided turret on the north face of the mill. And at the top of the turret, a room: a fresh, albeit purposeless room, with eight walls and seven windows. So where did it come from?
An empty upstairs room, eight-sided, whose origins were shrouded in mystery. For those who know his writing, Simon Eldridge’s name is synonymous with satanic rites and vengeful spirits. But what few know (and what I had the misfortune to discover) is that his fevered imagination was not “imagination” at all. He really believed all the strange fantasies he conjured in his fiction. And that is why he came to occupy the house known as the Black Mill.”
-An excerpt from The Octagonal Room by Tom Mead.
Read the his story and ten others in the Autumn issue of Millhaven Tales.
- Dark Water by Lee Glenwright
- A Chinese Lamp of Smoke by Sergio Palumbo
- Portal to Hell by Damito Huffman
- Coffee Stains by Steven Deighan
- The Octagonal Room by Tom Mead
- Adrift by Jeffrey L. Blehar
- Dust to Dust by Donnie Swafford
- Sword and the Fifteenth Emperor’s Wife by Jaap Boekestein
- Dead Man’s Chest by Misha Burnett
- The Hiller House by AJ Stewart
- Alter Ego (a new novelette) by J. Manfred Weichsel
You can get yours here: Millhaven’s Tales of Terror