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Authors: Michael Ziegler

The Chair

BOOK: The Chair
4.62Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub











         M I C H A E L     R      Z I E G L E R



Author of   The Scrolls of Talos
















Available from

Copyright © 2015

All Rights Reserved








A note from the author


This tale is envisioned as taking place in the year 1935, just prior to WW2; and although it is indeed science fiction, throughout the war, it is a recorded fact the Germans were feverishly working on advanced weapons, exactly as described in this narrative, adding yet another case in point to the old axiom:


“Truth is stranger than fiction.”









For Taylor












inters, depending on your location around the globe can be cold, very cold. My residence, fortunately, is and has been in London England where it’s fairly mild. Work in the study of physics brought me here to the University of London with one of the laboratory teams studying small particles of matter.

Without going into the boring details of my tenure, everything had been very normal for me living here in England. There were days when I thought I was going to lose my mind simply over common adversities everyone faces in their lives; but all in all I’ve thought myself to be a fairly rational sort. I would lose my temper once in awhile; felt lonely here and there and sometimes had physical problems all in the normal course of every day life.

 My focus on all these things ended for me though, quite abruptly and was quickly left behind in a most profound way; things can go along quite the same for years and then something suddenly brings you to another plateau with a new kind of challenge.

It all started for me on the rainy evening of the 23rd of February in the year 1935 around 6 o’clock on the first day of a two week holiday away from the lab; I remember sitting down comfortably with a good book for the very first time in a newly purchased piece of furniture and finishing a small cup of tea. The one reading light over my back was illuminating my book as well as a goodly area just around me; but the rest of the room seemed as a silent audience in a darkened theater observing a play in the bright light of a stage.

I had scarcely sat down to begin my reading, when a strange manifestation began threatening to overpower me; a chill ran down my spine as my eyes seemed to be telling me the drawing room appeared to be fading away in some odd manner. Now I know this sounds like a preposterous notion so I closed my eyes for a bit, blinked a few times and looked again; the dreadful sense that the room, just then, was actually dissolving in a most peculiar fashion was becoming more and more a reality.

The rain had been steadily pattering against the large picture window in my living room and as I swallowed down the remainder of my tea, a sudden impulse came upon me to challenge this unsettling specter; to walk up to a wall, reach out and touch it.

I stood up and stepped forward looking around the room. The rain was now cascading on the window as I looked about, realizing my heart was racing, adrenaline no doubt, but for no explicit reason I was able to verbalize. I rubbed my eyes, opened them again and the room now appeared normal as it had always been. What sort of trick was my mind playing on me? I remember though, jumping out of my skin when at that very instant the front doorbell rang. I stood frozen for a few moments; then, finally gathering my wits about me I answered the door. It was Catherine. Reality quickly grounded me as I smiled and opened the door.

“Hi, come in out of that rain.”

“Hello,” she said. “Sorry I didn’t call ahead, just thought I’d pop in and say hi. I bought some wine and thought we could share.”

“You’re a life saver just this moment!” I laughed closing the door behind her.

“And why is that?” she asked with a raised eyebrow partially intrigued.

“Oh, really no reason,” I shrugged with a smile, “just a really strange sensation for a short time but it’s gone now.” I popped the cork on the wine bottle and poured it into two crystal wine glasses while she took off her coat.

She was wearing the usual immaculate outfit; a grey tweed suit top and matching tailored knee length skirt, large black buttons down the front of the coat with a high collar; silver bracelets over her tight black gloves, and mid high black pumps. Her hair was very dark brown, fashioned in a softly layered long bob style, framing her face wonderfully.

Catherine and I had been seeing each other for the past five years. She was a teacher at the Guildhall School of Music and was a rather accomplished pianist herself. We had first met at McLaren Concert Hall where she was performing with a number of other musicians. I was always a little intimidated by her in heels as her height then was quite equal to mine. Her figure was amazing and would usually get second looks along with discrete comments from male passers by.

 “The rain is really beginning to come down Richard, but I knew you would be home here nice and cozy; I was hoping you wouldn’t mind my company.” She sipped her wine looking at me over her glass smiling in her usual alluring fashion.

 “And why would I mind Catherine, I was actually planning on calling you tomorrow but you have clearly bested me.” I reached over, put my arm around her and kissed her; then, trying not to be obviously nervous, I looked around the room again to be sure everything still seemed as normal.

“What is it Richard?” She set her wine glass down, angling her head as her eyes narrowed. “You’re still looking round the room as if expecting to see something, what?”

“I’m not really sure; it’s an inexplicably crazy sensation, that something is not right,” I said shaking my head looking up at the ceiling.

“Are you trying to creep me out? Stop it. What doesn’t seem right?”

Looking into her hazel brown eyes, I was almost forgetting the entire incident, flashing back on the day we met, which would have been five years ago that month. I could never forget the long very formal black Peau -de -soie dress she was wearing that day with her silver jewelry. Her dark brown hair was pinned up in the back; I thought she was strikingly beautiful in an elegant and fashionable way, yet with a warm and friendly smile that I willingly admit captivated me when I first saw it.

There was a performance, as I had mentioned earlier, at the McLaren Concert Hall I had attended that night and she, being one of the performers, happened to be sitting next to me near the front. We both struck up a conversation immediately over our mutual interest in classical music. It was one of those evenings when everything seemed to click and I had even asked her out to coffee afterward, to which she had readily accepted. We sat for a long time discussing our likes and dislikes and had finally exchanged phone numbers.

I suddenly jumped back into our conversation, and saw her staring at me waiting for an answer. I blurted out apologetically. “I know It must appear strange to you, me being so sidetracked by some idiotic notion about something I saw or thought I saw.”

“Richard, what is it that you’re seeing?” she put her hand on mine.

“It must be my eyes, they’re probably just strained from reading but it seemed, just before you came to the door, as if the room was …” I hesitated reliving the feeling again.

“Was what Richard?”

“This room was suddenly becoming somewhat transparent or sort of fading away; doesn’t that just sound wild?”

“Richard, you need to relax and sip some more wine; close your eyes and lay down for a bit.”

Catherine had that concerned look on her face as she removed her gloves one finger at a time. She was almost beginning, I knew, to think of possible medical explanations for my symptoms.

It was disturbing to me because I had never been so optically fooled like that before. I kept staring at the wall again and again trying to replicate the phenomenon but with no luck. I knew it wasn’t just in my head or some kind of eyestrain, but how to explain it to her otherwise was beyond me at the time, when I couldn’t even explain it to myself.

“That chair,” she said, “it’s new isn’t it? Looks comfortable; it wasn’t here on my last visit, when did you get it?” She stood up running her hand against the back of it.

“I picked it up at an estate sale only last night. It was Rudington, a colleague of mine at the lab, that mentioned to me he had purchased a divan in an estate sale at the Bedford Manor House in the country, off old Blakely Road. He said it was old but well made and loved it.

“I had mentioned to him weeks ago I was looking for an easy chair, but nothing new as they don’t make them like they used to. He strongly recommended that I stop by and see if they had anything to my liking.”

She took another sip of wine. “I’ve seen that home and it is quite sizable; they must have had a fair amount to sell.” Sitting back down, she straightened the sleeves of her blouse. “It is unique and must be fairly old, maybe the late eighteen hundreds,” she said, setting her glass back down.

“Yes, Lord Bedford’s butler said the chair was recently purchased at auction, but the perfect location in the home had never been found for it. He escorted me down to the wine cellar where it sat in a rather dark corner, covered very carefully in burlap on a pallet. I got a perfectly good deal on it and couldn’t pass it up; what do you think?”

She looked thoughtfully for a moment and then smiling, blurted out, “I think it suits you squarely!”

We both laughed, raising our glasses in a toast to our mutual agreement. Catherine stayed for awhile as the rain came down steadily and we talked of possibly setting a date soon that we might marry and if we did the number of children we could both agree on. She had always dreamed of living out in the country someday and loved the outdoors. Residing in London most of her life, she was tired of the hustle and bustle of the city.

Her parents had moved there when she was only ten years old and even then she loved going on outings in the countryside to small rental cottages with her cousins. I on the other hand, wasn’t quite sure of myself when it came to marriage and ultimate residence. Catherine was a perfect choice for a wife but I wasn’t sure I was ready for marriage. Usually buried in work of some sort, I barely had any time to really think on such things. Give me a book and my pipe and I was content.

Things were developing between us however, and I knew Catherine was eager to start a family; but my work at the lab had been so intense at that time I was holding off as long as I could, at least until a breakthrough in particle matter research had been reached.

There was an unexpected knock at the door and both Catherine and I looked at each other wondering who could be calling at this late hour. I peered out through the window shade and saw that it was my next door neighbor at the door holding two umbrellas, one open and the other closed which I recognized as my own. I turned on the porch lamp and opened the door.

“Hello Liz, I see you’re returning my umbrella but it’s late and you shouldn’t have troubled yourself.”

“Its no bother Richie, I’ve had your umbrella for much too long a time and finally broke down and bought one, Ha, ha.” She looked around the room in her usual scrutinizing manner. “And who is
lovely girl?”

“Hello there.” Catherine managed to blurt out.

“Mrs. Hawkley, I would like you to meet my girlfriend Catherine Baker. Catherine this is Mrs. Elizabeth Hawkley.”

“Pleased to meet you my dear, but I should leave you two alone, I’ve gone and interrupted your…  Oh my, what a handsome chair, is it a new addition Richie?”

“Yes, as a matter of fact it is Mrs. Hawkley; I was explaining to Catherine that I just recently purchased it at an estate sale.”

She was certainly a garrulous person and had an eye for anything out of the ordinary that happened to cross her path. Red hair, usually haphazardly pinned up in a bun, hefty but not overly obese, probably in her late fifties. She had a proclivity to treat me as a son she never had and was the atypical busy body type.

Her husband had passed away several years back leaving her a widow with really no other family to speak of other than a distant cousin whom she would see from time to time.

“Estate sale, my goodness you had better take care at one of those. A friend of mine bought what was supposed to be a rare antique table, at least that was what she was told; turned out to be a forged copy of an original Chippendale.”

BOOK: The Chair
4.62Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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