Windows stare like eyes, but these are false eyes - an old cliche. It is the invisible eyes you should fear, the thousand invisible eyes that lick your soul with tongues that are not tongues.
The house waits.
The History of the Franklin Mansion Edit
On the western part of Solomon Island lies an old house, locally nicknamed the Franklin Mansion after the current owner. Built in 1876, its architecture is typical of late 19th century estates, with tall windows and wide doors, a spacious front porch and elaborate ornaments. Time and neglect have taken their toll on the house, but even in its current dilapidated state it's clear that it was once a grand mansion.
Shrouded in ominous darkness and a grim history of violence and magic, locals believe the house to be haunted and cursed, even to this day, and most avoid it if they can.
The first owners, Frank and Joanna Devore, moved in shortly after the house was built. They had invested heavily in the newly established Blue Ridge Mine, and moved to Kingsmouth so Mr Devore could work as the foreman and business overseer.
The young couple enjoyed popularity among the locals. He, a handsome captain of industry; she, a sophisticated beauty from the big city. They entertained visitors from far and wide, hosting lavish soirees and extravagant dinners. The mansion was a lively place in its infancy. These were happy years for the young couple, but, like most merry things in Kingsmouth, they didn't last.
Mr Devore became influential enough for the Kingsmouth chapter of the Illuminati to take notice. Thrilled and honoured to be invited into their inner circle, he became increasingly involved with the esoteric dealings of the secret society.
He built a hidden room in his house to keep sensitive documents full of local, arcane history away from prying eyes. He changed the exterior of the house to reflect Illuminati imagery and icons. Slowly, Mr Devore gained higher status and rank within the secret society and learned more about advanced magical rituals and deep, occult knowledge.
As her husband worked long hours at the mine and spent most of his free time with his fellow Illuminati, Mrs Devore grew bored all alone in the empty house. Discontent and lonely, she took solace in the companionship of one of her husband's colleagues, an enigmatic and charming man who became her lover. The affair lasted a year, until Mrs Devore lost interest.
She wanted to move back to New York and pleaded with her husband to come with her, but her plans were cut short by her enraged lover. He poisoned her and planted evidence to divert the blame onto her husband. Mr Devore was sentenced to death by hanging.
Mrs Devore's lover bought the mansion, hoping to turn the success of the mine into his own, but because of a faltering iron market and continuous problems at the mine, he failed miserably. In 1891 he sold the estate to local businessman Phileas Flagg and left Kingsmouth.
Mr Flagg didn't own the house for long - he didn't even spend a lot of time there. He left the care of the property to his servants until he sold the house to Bostonians Jonathan and Margaret Delapore and their young son in 1913. Wanting to escape the big city life, they found peace and fresh air in the quaint countryside of Solomon County. For a while, all was well. Mr Delapore worked at the pharmacy and his wife gave birth to two beautiful baby daughters.
Only a few years into their new life in Kingsmouth, Mr Delapore found the secret room that Frank Devore had built and discovered the library of occult knowledge he had gathered. At first, it was merely an oddity, but as he dug deeper into Kingsmouth history, he learned terrible truths about the darkest of evils.
It was far beyond anything he could comprehend, and he couldn't control the effect it had on him. Tendrilled nightmares plagued him at night, visions of a future controlled by a superior, alien darkness. Paranoia crept up on him like a snake, pushing him further and further from sanity and into irrational behaviour.
Ambling around town, Mr Delapore rambled on about conspiracy theories and doomsday threats, scaring the citizens of Kingsmouth. His conduct quickly caught the attention of the Illuminati. They decided they had to silence him and stop the spreading of sensitive information, but all attempts to persuade him to sell the house and move out of town failed.
Even his wife couldn't convince him, despite her pleas and threats and tears. The nagging only made things worse. One particularly stormy night in 1918, Jonathan Delapore loaded his Winchester rifle and shot his wife and three children, before putting the barrel in his mouth and pulling the trigger. A note he left behind stated he was glad he had "saved my family from evil." City officials - all members of the Illuminati - explained away their deaths as "a family tragedy" and buried them in the mansion's garden, where they rest in unmarked graves.
The Solomon County municipal council took possession of the house and it remained empty until 1924, when it was bought by Elena Zhelikhovsky, who moved in with her long-time friend Francine Sanders. Taking advantage of the mansion's mysterious reputation, they converted it into an occult hotel, hosting evenings of spiritual and transcendent experiences.
Ms Zhelikhovsky claimed she could communicate with ghosts, and her seances attracted several notorious guests - including Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Harry Houdini. She also exchanged written words with H.P. Lovecraft, who wanted to expose her as a fraud. She in turn loathed him and called his writings "infantile" and Lovecraft himself "a grotesque man."
She was no fraud, however, for she was not without powers. She was able to conjure up the spirits of those who had died in the house - among others - for the amusement of her guests. The constant summoning left an occult fingerprint in the house and opened a conduit between the world of the living and the world of the dead. To this day, the ghosts of the deceased roam the estate.
In 1957, Ms Zhelikhovsky and Ms Sanders were killed in a car accident. Neither of the women had children or other close relatives, so they left their considerable estate to a collective of young artists. Soon after, the artists moved in - poets, painters and writers - all equally unsuccessful in their arts.
The collective soon grew into a commune when the artists invited friends and friends of friends to join them at the mansion, and together they spent their new-found fortune - hosting wild parties and orgies and supporting an ever growing number of people.
As the 1960s began, the liberal collective became more of a hippie retreat - drugs included. The residents even began growing their own cannabis. The local police applied constant pressure on them, but the artists had friends in high places elsewhere, and were able to stay.
The party would soon end. In 1966, one of the artists - poet Billy Lee - discovered the accursed, secret Illuminati room. For several weeks he sat there every day, reading and studying everything, and sharing none of it. He began taking trips around Kingsmouth, telling his friends he was seeking inspiration while continuing to hold back what he had found. Soon, nightly nightmares haunted him and, several times, his housemates had to wake him from his thrashing sleep for fear that he would hurt himself.
Billy Lee started writing darker poetry, lines full of old gods and dark days, and he suffered extreme paranoia. After several months of erratic behaviour and sleepless nights, he went on a murderous rampage and killed twelve people in the house. Only one girl survived - Harriet Braun - one of Lee's lovers. After the incident, she abandoned her life of sex and drugs and used her experiences to launch a successful career as an author.
The murders at the mansion were unusually brutal. Several policemen said they had never seen a bloodier crime scene. Billy Lee had, among other things, hacked at the bodies of his victims with a machete and bathed in their blood as well as used it to write cryptic messages on the walls. He was found wading in a nearby lake the next day, stark naked and screeching prayers to some odd, arcane gods he called the Dreaming Ones. The court committed him to an asylum for the mentally insane, where he still lives today.
After the massacre, the mansion was locked down by the FBI. With its bloody history, no potential owners showed interest in it for years, until 1970, when it was bought by Edmund and Eleanor Franklin. They immediately started renovating the house and restored it to its former glory - inspiring its new nickname, the Franklin Mansion.
Edmund Franklin worked at the Blue Ridge Mine, running the efforts of a new mining corporation. The reopening of the mine was a source of great conflict between the local Native Americans and the mining company. The disagreements culminated in a violent confrontation during which Mr Franklin shot and killed the shaman of the tribe. Despite being acquitted in court for acting in self-defence, he became severely depressed and hanged himself in the mansion's attic in 1972.
The Franklin Mansion has hosted a long string of deaths, ending with Mr Franklin's suicide. Notwithstanding several cats and a collection of ghosts, which she says have as much right to the house as she does, the widow Franklin has lived there alone ever since.
The last few decades have not been kind to the house. It stands in wasted glory, no longer a grand tribute to decadence or wealth. It's a darkly imposing ghost house looming like a huge shadow over the unkempt garden - protecting its secrets with the help of time and forgetfulness.