I have threatened for years that I was going to release a trilogy of magical house stories and the time has come. Ladies and gentlemen, may I introduce my next magical house novella:
Like Coventry House and Yew Manor, Mirthstone Hall has anthropomorphic characters interacting with humans, a huge sprawling mansion that is a character in its own right, and, hold on to your knickers, I've based the plot on the trope of a Japanese harem anime (and no worries, I'm keeping it clean). Mirthstone Hall is the working title and is subject to change.
Here is a rough, unedited sample of the opening paragraphs:
by Alan Loewen
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Thomas Davin watched the scenery outside the taxi window as it sped by to his new home. His curiosity, inspired by the novelty of being far from Colorado and traveling through the never before seen landscape of south-central Pennsylvania, lay muted under own his personal sorrow.
The taxi driver tapped on the GPS adhering to his windshield. “I’ll have you at your destination is less than an hour.” The driver was an affable fellow and chatted away, a very different demeanor from the more sullen and business-like taxi drivers of Colorado Springs. “So, you’re staying the summer with your uncle?”
“Yes,” was Thomas’s sole response. He didn’t feel like opening up to a stranger to tell him he had never met his Uncle Brennan. In fact, in his near seventeen years, his mother had never mentioned her older brother before. Not until Thomas’ father had passed away from a disease so rare that the doctors needed almost a full year to diagnose it. Not until his mother remarried a mere three months later to one of the most self-centered and selfish men Thomas had ever endured.
So to keep peace with the family, his mother had called her older brother that Thomas never knew existed, and asked Uncle Brennan to take her only child in for the summer so she could begin her new married life with some modicum of peace.
Thomas suddenly realized he had his hands clenched in fists again. He took a deep breath and forced them to relax.
Once again he turned his attention to the view speeding past the taxi window. The mid-May sunshine made everything so green, a color not as vibrant in Colorado Springs. He passed by plowed fields and farmlands with barns and old windmills. Tall silos stood like sentries over large farmhouses.
Thomas had seen the green landscape from the plane window as it settled in for the approach to Harrisburg International Airport, but to see it now this close made everything look more alive than he felt inside.
Thomas’ jaw suddenly dropped. “There’s a man over there plowing a field with horses!” he said.
The taxi driver laughed. “You’re in Lancaster County home to the Amish and old-order Mennonites. Most of them refuse to use modern stuff. Most don’t even have running water or electricity or even phones. They like it that way.”
Thomas felt a momentary wave of panic. Could his Uncle Brennan be one of these odd people? Thomas loved his Internet and his cell phone and once again the idea of just running away loomed in his thoughts. He sat back in his seat, ignoring the scenery outside and chewed over his thoughts.
And some minutes later they were interrupted by the taxi driver’s GPS announcing, “Arriving at your destination in two miles.” Thomas jerked his head up to see they were traveling through woods, trees surrounding both sides of the road.
There were no forests in Colorado Springs. Suddenly, the driver hit his brakes and Thomas heard him lay on the horn. Through the windshield, a panicked herd of deer sped across the road and in seconds all that was visible were white tails disappearing through the shadows under the trees.
“Gotta be careful,” the driver grumbled. “You hit one of them, and your car’s out of commision for awhile.”
His curiosity renewed by the sight of the forest, Thomas saw that no other houses were visible. When they finally came upon large open iron gate Thomas could see on the stone walls to the right of the gate a brass plaque green with age. The name, Mirthstone Hall, was barely legible.
The driver turned onto the lane that led past the entrance.
The lane barely had enough room for two cars to pass one another, but on this side of the gate, the woods appeared more open and wildflowers peeked through the mould.
Yet 100 yards past the entrance, the forest line ended sharply at a well manicured lawn and both the driver and Thomas made sounds of surprise as they saw Mirthstone Hall for the first time.
“I never knew we had houses like that here in Lancaster County,” the driver mumbled.
A mass of turrets, pinnacles and gables loomed over the front terrace. The facade was all Gothic windows, Tudor oriels, chimneys and attic dormers and the brown plaster stained with patches of red lichen gave the building an appearance of severe solemnity.
Thomas felt panic swell up in his chest.
Note: The picture for Mirthstone Hall is an etching of Tyntesfield (1866) and is in the public domain.