The Drums of Dundurn

The Drums of Dundurn came to life after an online meeting with a friend’s grade 5 class. The kids asked me questions about what it was like being a writer, especially the horror writing I do. Suddenly someone said ‘why don’t you write a ghost story about Dundurn Castle?’ And that, as they say, was that! The Drums of Dundurn is the result of that classroom conversation.

 

 

Excerpt:

The wind blew so strongly it drove the rain into Minnie’s eyes and soaked her in minutes. Just above the sound of the pounding rain, Minnie heard a noise. Tap tap tap. The drum. She knew Miigwaans was in trouble.

She ran to the trees to find him, calling his name. The trees reached for her with their knotted branches. One tore the sleeve of Minnie’s nightgown as she pushed through. She broke through the trees at the other end of the forest.

Miigwaans wasn’t there. Still calling for him, Minnie looked around, raising her arm above her head to shield herself from the spiked rain. She started running, back toward Dundurn but a laugh in front of her made her stop. A grey fog started forming before her.

Rattle.

Minnie’s blood froze. She watched the fog swirl in the wind, dancing and twirling in angry patterns. Then a shape began to form. The soldier. Minnie ran. She couldn’t see where she was going, she only knew she had to get away. As if to remind her, the wound on her hand began to ache. Minnie wasn’t sure how far away from the castle she was, the dark and wind and rain had all caused her to get turned around. She stopped for a moment and listened.

Rattle.

The sound just to her left made Minnie jump. She turned right and started running again. The soldier laughed and the sound pushed Minnie to run faster than she thought she could. She glanced behind her, not seeing the half-buried speckled granite rock in front of her.

Minnie stumbled. She landed on her knees, arms held out in the mud. Scrambling to her feet, Minnie started running again in the same direction. A hand grabbed her shoulder.

“It’s me.” Miigwaans stood there beside her, water streaming from his face.

“We have to run!” Minnie took her friend’s arm.

Miigwaans nodded. He turned Minnie to her left and pointed into the dark. “That way. Go. Now.”

“Come with me!” Minnie yelled to be heard over the rain and the rattle that was coming closer. Along with the soldier’s laughter, the scraping metallic sound had grown louder.

“Please. Go. I’ll stay here.” Miigwaans turned away from Minnie and faced the direction of the laughter.

The sound hurt Minnie’s ears and she used her hand to cover them, ignoring the pain the cut was causing her palm. She called Miigwaans’ name over and over. He was no longer aware she was there. With a wail, Minnie ran in the direction Miigwaans had shown her. Soon the laughter and rattle grew more faint.

There! Up ahead! A light. Minnie chanced a look back at Miigwaans. Peering into the darkness, she could just make out the soldier descending on her friend.

“Nooooooo!” Minnie screamed as if her voice could stop the world.

Minnie swung her legs over the side of her bed, her arms wrapped around herself, her whole body shaking. She was cold, so so cold. At least she wasn’t wet.

Someone must have entered her room while Minnie was asleep, because the window shutters had been open before, but now were closed. Opening one of the shutters a little, Minnie shielded her eyes from the moonlight pouring in. Looking around, all was calm. No wind. No rain. She saw the lake through a gap in the trees, still as glass. Just a peaceful summer night.

She sighed and was about to close the shutter when Minnie noticed something shine in the moonlight. Peering closely, she saw what it was. A rock. Granite with speckles and small crystals that reflected the moon’s rays. The one she’d tripped over in her dream. A few feet away, through the gap in the trees, Minnie saw the escarpment.

She shuddered. If Miigwaans hadn’t stopped her, Minnie would have run right off the cliff.

Available Here

 

Some of the rooms in Dundurn Castle mentioned in The Drums of Dundurn (photos taken by the author):

 

Minnie McNab’s Bedroom

 

 

The Vault

 

The Stairs to the Scullery

 

The Scullery

 

The Parlour

 

The Old Hall between the Kitchen and the Laundry Room

 

The Kitchen

 

The Laundry Room

More Information on Dundurn Castle and its residents:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dundurn_Castle

https://www.hamilton.ca/attractions/hamilton-civic-museums/dundurn-national-historic-site

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allan_MacNab

 

Copyright © 2020 Kelly Evans

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