2. DARKSON HOUSE
“After thirteen years of being deserted Darkson House is now occupied again. This famous house, which is 100 years old this year, was constructed by Mr Darkson at great expense in the early days of Dayman Heads. When it was built, it was considered one of the grandest mansions in Australia. The marble floor was imported from Italy, the chandeliers from Austria, and the furniture was brought from Transylvania. During its construction two workmen died in freak accidents, and work had to be stopped at one stage when two skeletons were found buried near the side of the house. Then, Mr Darkson, forty years old, lived in the mansion for thirteen months before dying mysteriously in his sleep. Mrs Darkson was so upset after his unfortunate death that her hair turned grey in less than two weeks. Seeing herself in a mirror distressed her so much that she smashed every one of the thirteen mirrors in the house.
When she died the following year, the house was passed on to her children. But all four died of mysterious illnesses before reaching the age of twenty-five. People began to say the beautiful house was cursed with evil. Since that time Darkson house has been rented on and off for short periods until 1972. The last people who lived there were killed in a terrible car accident while on their way to see the Mt Etna Bat Caves in Queensland.
In 1985 the council took possession of the house after back rates had not been paid for 13 years.
Darkson House has now been let to Mr O’Brien. He said the stories of hauntings didn’t concern him, just so long as it had a cool, dark cellar. Mr O’Brien collects red wines.”
‘All right. What’s next?’ Jodie held the pencil ready to write out a list.
‘It’s good we’re on school holidays, isn’t it?’ I said. ‘It gives us time to prove whether or not the new people really are vampires.’
‘Hey, hold the vampire idea for a while, Karen.’
‘Actually, I’m not sure if I believe in vampires either. It’s probably something that was just made up for TV and movies.’
‘What evidence do you have that they are vampires?’
‘Well, there’s the business of the cellar. They were supposed to want the cellar for wine, right?’
‘Sure. Quite sensible.’
‘Yet when George Blare saw the delivery from the hotel all they brought were cartons of beer and some vodka. There’s no need for a wine cellar if all you drink is beer and vodka. And it had to be a cool, dark cellar, remember? The sort of place a vampire needs for a coffin.’
‘Is that all!’
‘Of course not. What about the big box that the men carried in? George Blare reckons it was the size of a coffin. He watched four men carry it up the steps. And there’s the fact that they’ve been there six weeks and no one has ever seen them in daylight. And they have the lights on practically all night.’
‘Keep going.’ She held the pen poised over the page which was still blank.
‘Well the real evidence is from Ron Rocco.’
‘Why should we believe him? He’s always making stuff up.’
‘Not this time, he was terrified. He was asked by Mansions Real Estate to mow the grass at Darkson House. So he went around there in the daytime but they would only talk to him through the closed door. They told him to mow the whole place. It’s huge, a whole hectare. He was mowing the long grass all day. And he found there was a bat colony down the back in the trees, thousands and thousands of bats.’
‘Fruit bats no doubt. Nothing mysterious about them.’
‘Ron Rocco said the whole place was spooky. There were strange looking statues half buried in the ground, and they sort of looked like graves, because some of the statues had fallen over and were almost buried in the ground. They had gone all green and mouldy and looked like dead bodies.’ ‘Ha. What else?’
‘Mr O’Brien said he couldn’t pay Ron Rocco till it was dark. So Rocco had to go back again that night. He reckons he was so scared he asked his father to go in the house with him. When they got inside it was creepy, there were long dark passageways, the floors creaked, and the people were listening to this weird organ music. When the old woman—she looks like a witch he said—opened the door and invited them inside, she was wearing a black cape and carrying a black cat!’
‘Maybe she had just been watching The Addams Family.’
‘Wait on Jodie. The old woman took them into the living room to get the money. Mr O’Brien was sitting in front of an open fire in summer, drinking a glass of blood!’ ‘Blood!’
‘Rocco swears it. When Mr O’Brien stood up, he wiped his mouth and hid the glass with the blood in it.’
‘What happened then?’
‘They got the forty dollars and took off in a hurry. Ron Rocco says he’ll never go back, even if they paid him a thousand dollars.’
‘Well I don’t believe in vampires. And I intend to disprove the vampire theory once and for all.’ Jodie said this quite calmly. ‘What is the one thing a vampire must never do?’
‘Easy. They must never go out into sunlight or they shrivel up into dust.’
‘Correct. So all we have to do is go around to Darkson House and get these so-called vampires to go out into the front yard. If they are vampires they won’t go will they?’
Suddenly I felt quite nervous. There must be a better way to test the theory—by watching with a telescope or something. I didn’t like the idea of going around to the house much. ‘Surely,’ I said, ‘we should use logic? We could analyse the facts rather than going around to Darkson House.’
Jodie smiled at me. ‘No, we need to test things now. What’s the matter Karen, the vampire got your tongue? You’ve gone as white as a ghost.’
I didn’t intend to let her scare me. ‘Fine by me. Let’s get our bikes and go now while the sun is still shining.’