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Winner of the Scream Test:  Teen Mystery/Horror

Short Story Writing Contest

October 2004

The Precious Rose

By Sarah Austin


    Her name was Adeline Lourevere.  She had gone to the ball as Marie Antoinette, earning the attention she so desired.  Adeline came from a background of rich aristocrats who spent their wealth upon lavish decor and clothes from the finest silk; she thought it would be her duty to take upon the character of one of the most famous nobles in history.  The ball was an elegant occasion full of wonderfully ornate dresses and carefully tailored suits, but no costume could compare to Adeline's.

     Her parents were not happy with her decision to attend the ball by herself. They were still frightened by the idea that her insanely obsessive admirer might be lurking near. It was only one year ago that Adeline had been terrorized with unsettling love letters from an unknown sender who referred to himself as “Sir Terror”. There was no return address, a factor that caused tremendous grief and fear to the Lourevere family. Adeline never took the letters seriously though; she would laugh when she saw the familiar handwriting and the alarming signature. After all, being the prettiest young woman in town would bring many admirers, even unwanted ones.

      Sir Terror would begin all letters to Adeline using the same simple phrase; “To my precious rose”. Being a naïve girl to the dangers of the world, Adeline was quite flattered by this pet name. The letters would always include praises of her beauty and how Sit Terror would immortalize her beauty forever for the future generations to admire. Although they didn’t exactly understand what this meant, her parents did not sit well with the anonymous letters and spent a great deal of money into finding out who the sender was. When their efforts proved to be in vain, the Lourevere family left their estate and moved away hoping to escape the threats of Sir Terror. It had been a full year since the move and not one letter was received. Life was beginning to be enjoyable once again without the terrible letters to upset them. It seemed like their problems had been permanently solved. Unfortunately, the Lourevere family would have to suffer heartbreak to find out that the threat had never faded.

      The costume ball was being held at the newly constructed estate of the young and dashing Xavier Rorret, who had recently taken up residence in the town. His doctor had ordered him to move because the city air was affecting his weak health. Not long after he had settled into his home, Xavier had become the object of every young woman’s affections, and Adeline was determined to win him by the end of the ball. Xavier’s glimmering eyes were drawn to Adeline’s enchanting beauty and he asked her to join him in a waltz across the marble ballroom floor.

      Many dances had passed before fatigue overcame the guests and forced them to return home. Only Adeline and Xavier remained dancing to the echoes of the ghostly music. Xavier exclaimed that he had never seen anyone as beautiful as Adeline; words that proved her task had been accomplished. The charming man persuaded her into taking a tour of his enormous estate, an inquiry that she happily agreed to. She was many rooms filled with beautiful antiques and priceless objects, but the room that gave Adeline the greatest shock was a room Xavier referred to as “the museum”. The walls of the room were covered with the heads from a countless number of different beasts, and lining the parquet floor were lions, bears, gazelles and many other stuffed creatures unfamiliar to Adeline.

      " My prizes,” Xavier said gesturing to the lifeless animals, “they have all been immortalized.”

      He turned to Adeline and studied her face. With a whisper, he took her hand, “How would you like to be beautiful forever, Adeline?”

      " Excuse me?” She said laughing, “that’s impossible; everyone ages sometime or another.”

      " No, Adeline, it is quite possible to stay young forever,” he said is an unsettling tone,” I can immortalize your beauty for future generations to admire.”

      Adeline was struck with a horrible fear as she heard those familiar words. She had to escape this man. As she made an attempt to flee, Xavier ran to the door of the room and locked it.

      " Don’t be afraid Adeline,” he said advancing towards her, “your beauty will never fade. You’ll be my most beloved treasure; my precious rose.”

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