Lecture Activity – Romantic Gothic

The procession marched on through the cold snow. The dead trees moaned a warning as they trudged into the graveyard. Fallen headstones lay as silent testament to the decay of the once magnificent place. What remained of the main structure loomed eerily above, silhouetted by the light of the moon. A gust of wind from behind the group seemed to draw them invitingly towards the old stone archway where the door used to be. Murmurs of apprehension rippled through the men but were quickly silenced by a glance from their leader. Whatever nefarious purposes this place had once stood for were mere shadows in the night compared to what they had planned that night. Somewhere nearby a wolf howled a solemn note. There was no reply.

“What’s going on?” whispered a voice by his ear.

“I don’t know. Some kind of incantation.” He replied.

They had stopped just short of the doorway and the leader had begun chanting under his breath. As the chants progressed the wind which had blown towards the door seemed to change direction – and they soon noticed that it was gaining in strength. Suddenly the wind rose to a fever pitch causing the black robes to billow and flap. Amidst the sombre colours of his companions he could have sworn he had seen a flash of colour; red, maybe. The trees around them screamed in protest as the wind whipped through their branches until, just as they thought they might be blown away, there was silence. It seemed to him then, just for a second, that it was more than just an absence of sound in that moment of silence. It was more akin to the opposite of sound – an anti-sound. He shivered.

They were moving again towards the doorway in a huddled group; a sense of dread had fallen upon them all. As he stepped through the broken archway he felt warmer, as one might feel stepping in from the cold. He looked up. The stained glass windows shone in shades of red and the magnificent candelabras swayed gently from the rafters high above. Candles were alight everywhere and the walls, which moments ago he could have sworn had not existed, were painted by dancing shadows.

“That’s… impossible!” stammered his companion.

It was impossible. They were inside the church. There were no ruins to be seen, no indication of any decay – everything looked brand new. And the reality of what was about to happen that night struck him completely. Every sense of his being compelled him to turn and leave that place, his very soul screamed for him to flee, but still he walked on – destiny awaited.

One comment

  1. A few things I noticed etc.

    Overall I thought the piece was very eerie and played well with the sense of dread. A very good atmosphere was created and I look forward to find out what happens to these crazy, meddling kids.

    A few pro’s and con’s :

    I feel it needs a description of the procession early on instead of ‘ they’.
    Good imagery and nice use of the word ‘testament’
    What did remain of the main structure? Descriptions would add a little depth here I feel.
    ‘Where the door used to be’ – perhaps another description? The doors lying on their hinges at the side or something. What size is the doorway? Does the immensity or narrowness of the doorway add to the feelings of the characters?

    Repetition of the word ‘night’. Seems a tad stale.

    ‘Somewhere nearby’ – Ambiguity? Details again I think might add to the feel of the piece.

    “I don’t know. Some kind of incantation.” He replied. – Grammar. Should be a comma after the end of the speech followed by a non-capital H.

    ‘Stopped short of the doorway’ – I think this sentence would have more impact if there was previous detail about it as stated above.

    Is the leader the only one chanting? If so, then there’s a plural of ‘chant’ that needs to be singular.

    The direction of the wind – Maybe have a character experience this change instead of the narrator describing it? If the wind is then coming from the ruins I feel it would be best to add a little bit of fear by showing the characters fear.

    ‘they thought they’ – repetition of they which jarrs a little.

    What is an anti-sound? I think of something that devours sound. Black-hole style. Is that what the character was thinking?

    They – Description would be stronger for the start of this passage. Anxious? Nervous? Did they body movement betray signs of fear?

    Brand new? Would a church look brand new? Or would it look well kept? In good condition?

    Struck him completely – what did that striking do? Did it cause shortness of breath? Did it hit him like a freight train? A falling rock? Insight would add to the horror fear.

    Every sense of his being compelled him to turn and leave that place, his very soul screamed for him to flee, but still he walked on – destiny awaited. – Very good ending sentence.

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