Alice comes thundering out of the trees and into a the open. She blinks in the sudden sunlight, blinded by the light. But her legs continue running on auto-pilot until she trips and falls flat onto the ground, skidding across some muddy grass.
She lies there, her arms and legs spread out, her face splashed with cold mud, catching her breath; for she had been running exceedingly fast and the fall has knocked whatever little breath she had had left right out of her.
As her heartbeat slows she realises, without any shadow of a doubt, that her skirt has flipped up and her bum, and more, is fully exposed to anyone who might be observing her.
“Wearing a short skirt with no panties is more inconvenient than naughty,” observes Alice.
She reaches back and pulls her skirt down. But she still feels herself exposed. So she rolls onto her back and sits up pulling her legs tight together; her hands in her lap to keep what little of her skirt there was where it should be.
She shifts her weight slowly from side to side making a little “slish, slish” noise and knows from the feeling of cold slim pushing up around her bottom and thighs that they are now also covered in mud.
“My bum and more,” Alice gives a little shiver.
She looks down and sees that there is mud smeared all down her body and along her thighs and knees. Her hands and forearms are also covered in mud.
Feeling somewhat un-composed she takes a look around to find where she has landed this time. And finds herself sitting in the middle of a lawn adorned with coquette hoops. Or rather sitting in the middle of an area that used to be a lawn, but that now consists mostly of clumps of grass surrounded by large patches of muddy earth, within with the coquette hoops have somehow managed to remain in place.
Except, that is, for one hoop. One hoop is half pulled out of the ground. It is halfway between herself and the clump of trees. And there is a muddy skid mark running from it to where she sits. The skid mark leads straight to her mud splattered feet. Across her right shin is a thin, red mark.
“Shit,” Alice looks up quickly in guilt, but she is alone and no one has heard her say shit.
She reaches down and rubs the mark on her shin. “There’ll be a bruise,” but it does not really hurt much. “Just a little sting.”
She sits there for a while, then realises that nothing is going to happen. So she stands and looks around.
The lawn is mostly surrounded by threes. There is a large, read bricked house at the other end of the lawn.
“It looks just like a Victorian country manor,” observes Alice. She looks at it for a moment, “I wonder if there is anyone home.” For it did radiate an air of dilapidation.
She slowly looks around. The trees form an uninterrupted wall on three sides of the old coquette lawn with a dense tangle of undergrowth and brambles in the darkness underneath.
Feeling like she has not much of a choice she starts towards the house. “Maybe I can find a bathroom to clean myself up in,” she brightens up a little. And then she smiles, “And maybe some new clothes as well.” She quickens her pace a little.
Alice approaches the house from the side. There is just a blank wall with a couple of drain pipes running down it. But no door or windows. She steps off the grass and onto a graveled area.
“Ouch,” the gravel hurts her bare feet.
Quickly she steps back onto the muddy grass.
She looks right and left and then right again. There is no one to be seen. She gingerly touches the tip of her toes to the gravel. Quickly she pulls her foot back, “It would be exceedingly uncomfortable to walk on that with my bare feet.” She frowns at the gravel then realises that the gravel doesn’t much mind what she feels about it.
“Hmmm,” she looks towards the front of the house and then towards the back of the house once more. “Well I can’t very well present myself at the front door looking the way I do now,” she reasons and sets off towards the back of the house, making sure to keep to the grass.
The grass continues uninterrupted for the length of the house and expands into a large area of un-kept lawn at the rear of the property. Dotted across the lawn, seemingly at random, are overgrown flowerbeds. “Over grown with weeds and thistles,” observes Alice.
Alice comes around the side of the house and sees a large conservatory jutting out into the garden. Its frame is grotty and its glass fogged up with dirty mist. But just before the conservatory there is a small, white door set into the wall of the house.
“A-ah,”observes Alice. “A way in.”
However there is a good ten feet of gravel separating the door from the grass where Alice stands.
“Ten feet of gravel with no shoes or socks,” Alice bites her lower lip.
She looks around.
She could explore the grounds a little more. Alice shivers once more. Being covered in cold mud is making Alice a little chilly. “I hope I don’t catch a cold,” Alice turns her back to the garden and contemplates the little white door once more. Or rather she contemplates the stretch of sharp looking gravel that separates her from the door and possible hot water and fresh clothes.
“Oh well,” Alice takes a deep breath. “Here we go.” And she starts towards the little door.
She half hops half runs across the gravel “ouching!” with each step until she finally jumps onto the door step. Once she reaches the step in front of the door she takes a moment to catch her breath and wish she had some way to console her poor feet, but she has none except to continue standing on the cold step in front of the door.
“Well I can’t stand here for ever,” Alice braces herself.
Gingerly she tries the door handle and finds that is opens easily. Pushing the door open Alice takes one last look behind her. “I wonder if any of this will still be here when I come back out of the house?” But then she shrugs and steps inside, letting the door close shut behind her.
A feeling of cold clam descends upon her. She shivers slightly as her bare feet touch the cold tiles on the floor. She winkles her nose at the dry, musty smell.
She is standing in a narrow hallway. On the right hand side a set of stairs, covered in faded green carpet, ascends into the gloom. On the left the corridor stretches into the dark depths of the house. The gloomy air is wrapped by faded floral wallpaper that is just about to start peeling from the walls.
Alice hesitates, unsure of where to go next.
“The corridor looks very dark,” she bites her lower lip. And the corridor just seems to get darker as it pushes its way into the house. But then the stairs are hardly any more inviting.
She leans forward and cranes her neck to look up the stairwell.
“There might be a glimmer of light,” she muses. “Perhaps right at the top.”
She can feel the cold mud drying on her skin. “Particularly on my thighs and bottom.” Alice rolls her eyes. “Stop talking out loud to yourself, girl,” she says.
Anyway, she thinks, I need to get cleaned up. And bathrooms are usually upstairs and receptions rooms are usually on the ground floor.
But still she hesitates, unsure if there is anyone in the building and how they will react to finding her uninvitedly roaming around their house. Especially given the her muddy state and disheveled clothing situation.
“But then again,” she brightens up. “The bedrooms are also going to be upstairs and maybe I can find some clothes I could borrow.” She straightens up and takes hold of the banister, “So up I go.”
The first stair creeks as she steps onto it. As does the second. And the third. And the forth. “And the fifth as well,” says Alice as she steps onto the fifth stair, which doesn’t creak under her weight. “Hmmm,” says Alice. She steps onto the next step, which creaks. As does the next. “Every stair can’t creak,” says Alice. And as she steps onto the next stair it doesn’t creak.
“Do I have to say something out loud to avoid making each step creak?” Alice steps onto the next step, which doesn’t creak.
Alice stands with her hands on her hips.
“Is there some universal law which states that I am not going to creep silently up these stairs,” sighs Alice. “For either I talk, out loud, or the stair itself will creak to announce my progress.”
Alice looks up the stairwell. She is almost at a small landing where the stairs take a right turn before the final three stairs lead through a doorway onto another dim corridor.
Quickly Alice steps up the last three stairs.
Creak, creak, creak.
And then jumps up the last three stairs to land in the corridor.
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