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The 99-door Mansion

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A coffee lover who enjoys a good sunshine on the beach and the sea salt smell.

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“I think we are reaching,” announced Josette.

“Are you sure?” asked Angeline while studying the GPS on her phone. “Shit! No reception,” grunted Angeline.

“Calm down, sis. There is only one straight road. We just follow along,” said Josette.

“Yeah, a one bumpy road surrounded by rubber trees. We are in the middle of nowhere!” Angeline was frustrated.

“Will you just quiet? I am the one who is driving,” said Josette while her eyes focusing on the road. Angeline just rolled her eyes in silence.

It was in the late evening when both of them were passing by hundreds and thousands of rubber trees in their Cadillac Escalade. They have been driving for 6 hours before reaching here – the 99-door mansion. It was Josette’s idea. She found a diary that belonged to one of their ancestors in her father’s library when she was picking some books to be donated to one of their family’s charitable foundations. The century-old diary was written by a woman named Anna. According to Anna, the family owned a mansion which was built by her husband as a wedding gift for her. Since that they got married on 9 September 1928, her husband had the mansion built with 99 doors to commemorate their marriage. Hence, the mansion was named as 99-door mansion.

“What are you doing?” asked Josette when Angeline was rummaging through her handbag. “Don’t go through my things!” said Josette when Angeline chose to ignore her question.

“I am looking for the diary. Found!” Angeline retrieved the diary and started to flip through the diary. “Have you finish reading this diary?” asked Angeline. Josette shook her head.

“Oh my god! The husband has disappeared,” said Angeline after reading the last page of the diary.

“Really?!” said Josette in disbelief.

“Yes. According to Anna, her husband has disappeared from one of the rooms one night. And they never found the husband. The police told Anna that her husband might run off with his mistress,” said Angeline.

“That’s absurd,” replied Josette.

“Obviously, Anna thought so too. She insisted that her husband will never cheat on her. Vowed to find her husband. But Anna suddenly stopped writing the diary. There is no record whether her husband has been found or what happened to her,” said Angeline. Josette listened in silence.

"Do you think the mansion is still there?" asked Josette.

"Who care? We practically live in a mansion." replied Angeline. "I don't get why would you so fascinated by it."

"And I don't get why would you follow me when you are not fascinated," said Josette.

"Um...because we are in the middle of nowhere? And I don't want to go to the police to report for a missing person," said Angeline, sarcastically.

"I know you love me," Josette smirked. Angeline gently smacked her older sister's arm. "Hey, I'm driving!"

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"Omg! It does exist." exclaimed Angeline.

Their car slowly stopped right in front of a big old mansion. The sky was already dark when they have finally reached. There were no lamp posts but only countless of rubber trees surrounded the mansion. The only light that they have was their car headlights shone at the mansion.

"It is so beautiful," Angeline was amazed at the beauty of the mansion.

"Don't you feel a little bit weird that an abandoned mansion still could look like someone is still living in it?" Josette was curious.

“Maybe Anna is still living in it,” teased Angeline.

"I'm serious!" said Josette. "I think we should go check it out. Maybe there is an intruder."

"Are you serious?! No! There are only two of us. What are you going to do if there is really an intruder?" objected Angeline.

"Dad's golf stick is in the trunk," said Josette.

"Yeah, we're gonna be safe with dad's golf stick," said Angeline, sarcastically. Josette earmuffed her sister and went to the back of the car to retrieve the golf stick.

"Josie!"

"What?!"

"Josie!"

"Seriously, what?!" said Josette, annoyed while closing the trunk. With the golf stick in one hand and another holding her smartphone that was now using as a flashlight, she shone her way back to the front of the car where her sister was standing still. Josette was startled at the sight of a woman. Her sister was standing still, looking at the woman who was standing right in front of the mansion main door. The woman was staring at them. Josette walked towards her sister slowly and then stood next to her sister. Angeline was visibly shaking.

"H-hi," said Josette, grabbing the golf stick tightly ready to strike anytime.

"I-I'm scared. We should go," whispered Angeline.

"H-hi there, who are you?" asked Josette again.

"D-do you live here?" Angeline joined in with a tremble voice.

The woman did not utter a word but staring at both of them. The sisters looked at each other and Josette gestured her sister to get in the car. Angeline nodded, both of them getting ready to run towards the car right before-, "Finally you are here," said the woman, abruptly.

Both the sisters looked at each other confusedly before turning back to look at the woman. "A-are you expecting us?" asked Angeline.

“Who are you?” Josette added on. The woman did not respond to both the questions. "Angie, get in the car now," ordered Josette. Without hesitation, both of the sisters hopped in their car.

"Help me find my husband!" the woman suddenly ran towards them right before they closed the car doors. Angeline was startled and started to scream. Josette, who was more collected than her younger sister immediately pushed the pedal and drove off.

"Is she following us?!" exclaimed Angeline, still shaking.

"I think no," replied Josette after checking the rear mirror for the sight of the woman.

"Omg! Who is that woman?! You think she is a-a ghost?!" questioned Angeline while trying her phone for reception. "Shit! No reception!"

"Who are you calling?" asked Josette while speeding as fast as she can. It was pitch dark and there was not even a single lamp post on the road but rubber trees that they have passed through earlier.

"Dad," replied Angeline.

"No! He's gonna freak out. Let's us just go back to the hotel first," said Josette. For a moment Angeline hesitated at her sister's suggestion, but there was nothing she could do since there was no phone reception anyway so she silently agreed with her sister.

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"Dankworth," said Josette.

The receptionist immediately typed the name on the keyboard. "One king room, right?"

"Yes," replied Josette.

The receptionist then processed their check-in and passed them the key to their room. One of the bellboys immediately carried their luggage and brought them to their room.

"What bring you both beautiful ladies to this small town?" asked the bellboy after a few moments of silence in the lift.

"Um...we have some business over here," replied Josette. The bellboy nodded in acknowledgement and the awkward silence continued.

"Hi, I'm Angeline and this is my sister, Josette," Angeline introduced themselves to break the ice.

"Jackson," said the bellboy who was about the same age as Josette.

"Thanks," said Josette after Jackson helped them to put their luggage in their room.

"You're welcome," replied Jackson with a warm smile that made Josette's heart skipped a beat. "Breakfast starts at 7am. If you need anything, please feel free to let me know."

"All right. Good night," said Josette while avoiding his gaze. Jackson then left their room and the sisters turned in for the night without saying a word about the incident that had happened not long ago.

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"What are you doing?" asked Angeline, half yawning.

"Waiting for you to wake up," replied Josette while her eyes were focusing on a brown leather cover book that look very worn.

"Why are you still reading the diary?" asked Angeline when she noticed that the book was the diary. "We are going home, right? Are you being serious?!" questioned Angeline when Josette did not answer immediately. She knew her older sister so well that her sister was not going to give up once she has set her mind.

"Breakfast at 7am. But now is almost 10am. I think we just grab a bite at a nearby coffee shop," Josette closed the door behind her.

"Don't you ignore me! Hey!" shouted Angeline from inside.

Josette was scrolling her phone at the hotel lobby when someone slowly approached her. "Good morning," said the other person.

"Oh! Hi," said Josette after she lifted her head up and saw a familiar face. A very defined jawline. Thick natural eyebrows. And a pair of clear, steel grey eyes that will pierce right into a woman's heart.

"Mind if I take a seat beside you?" asked Jackson.

"Sure, have a seat," said Josette after hesitating for a second. Jackson then sat right beside her. Too close that Josette could smell his cologne. She subtly moved to create a more comfortable gap between them. "Are you off work now?" asked Josette when she noticed that he was wearing a casual light blue V-neck T-shirt and a faded jeans.

"Yeah, my shift ended at 6am," replied Jackson. Josette nodded in silence. "So...where're you guys from?" asked Jackson after a moment of awkward silence between them.

"Alvermouth," said Josette.

"That's like 6-hours drive to here. So, how long you guys plan to stay here?" asked Jackson.

"Um...We're not sure yet," replied Josette.

"There you are!" Angeline approached her sister. "Hi, hunky," teased Angeline when she saw him sitting next to her sister. Jackson smiled shyly while Josette was shushing her younger sister.

"So, are we going for a breakfast?" asked Angeline.

"Yes. Let's go," Josette immediately rose to her feet and Jackson was compelled to follow suit.

"Are you joining us?" Angeline directed the question to Jackson.

"I'm sure he has somewhere else to go," Josette immediately cut in.

"Um..." Jackson paused for a second before continuing. "Actually no. If you ladies don't mind me joining, I actually have a nice place for breakfast."

"That's settled," Angeline grabbed Josette's arm and walked out of the hotel lobby before Josette could say anything.

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"You're right. What a nice little place for breakfast," said Angeline, impressively. Josette was impressed too but she kept it to herself instead of complimenting Jackson. He has brought them to a coffee shop with a sea view. They took their seats right outside of the coffee shop to enjoy the summer breeze.

"Thank you," said Josette when Jackson pulled out a chair for her.

"I guessed chivalry is not dead," Angeline winked at Jackson. He smiled shyly while pulling out another one for Angeline.

"So, what're you guys planning to do after this?" asked Jackson and took a sip of his Americano.

"Josette wanted to go to the haunted mansion," Angeline blurted out before Josette could stop her. Josette glared at her younger sister.

"Haunted mansion?" asked Jackson, curiously.

"The 99-door mansion," replied Josette.

"Have you heard about it?" Angeline directed the question to Jackson.

"Yeah," replied Jackson while his steel grey eyes gazing at the sea. His eyes were so mesmerizing that it will absolutely melt every woman's heart but somehow Josette felt something was off and she couldn't quite put her finger on it.

"So...it is haunted?" Angeline curious.

"I don't know," replied Jackson, flatly.

"Hmm...who's the woman?" asked Angeline but it was more of a rhetorical question.

"What woman?" asked Jackson, suddenly full of interest.

"I think we better get going," Josette suddenly cut in and rose to her feet. Two pairs of curious eyes looked at her. Without a word, Josette dragged her younger sister and walked away.

"What are you doing?!" exclaimed Angeline while trying to release herself from Josette's grip.

"I just think this Jackson guy is kinda-" Josette paused to search for the right word. "Shady?"

"Shady?!" Angeline stared at her sister in disbelief.

"I don't know. And I don't care. He is a stranger after all so he might be dangerous and we should be careful," said Josette.

"Shit!" said Angeline.

"What?!" Josette busy rummaging through her Michael Kors to search for the car key.

"My bag. I left it there," Angeline immediately turned back without waiting for her sister's response to get her bag.

"Hey!" a husky voice called out. Josette turned to the direction of the voice but Angeline was already running towards the direction.

Josette was driving uncomfortably with him sitting right beside her. Jackson has offered to drive them to the mansion when he went after them to return Angeline's handbag. Josette rejected the offer as her logical mind thought that it would be dangerous to get in a stranger's car. So, she offered to do the driving instead. At least should anything happen she could just kick him out of the car. This was what she thought.

"We have arrived," announced Angeline after the trio were silent throughout the journey.

Josette parked the car in front of the mansion main door where they met the mysterious woman yesterday. The three of them got out of the car. Jackson walked swiftly to the main door without waiting for them.

"It seems like someone is more fascinated by the mansion than you," teased Angeline. Josette just gave her younger sister an annoyed look and walked past her. By the time the sisters reached the main door, Jackson was seen eagerly rattling the door knob.

"Calm door, hunky. The mansion is not going anywhere," teased Angeline.

"Do you have the key?!" asked Jackson.

"What key?" Josette was confused.

"The key!" Jackson repeated the word with a higher tone and he was getting impatient.

"Hey! Watch your tone!" Angeline defended her sister. "You know what? We're out of here," Angeline grabbed her sister's hand ready to walk away.

"Look, I'm sorry," Jackson immediately threw himself in front of the sisters trying to stop them from walking away. "Please?" he begged them to stay.

"What's your deal? Why are you so interested with this mansion?" questioned Josette. Jackson took a deep breath and let out a heavy sigh. He averted his gaze, looking blankly at the rubber trees surrounded the mansion while two pairs of eyes were looking at him waiting for an answer.

"I think we should go," Angeline was frustrated.

"Wait!" Jackson attempted to stop them from walking away for the second time. "All right. I'll talk."

"We are all ears," said Josette.

"Charles Dankworth was my great grandfather," said Jackson.

"What?!" exclaimed both the sisters.

"A-are you saying we are related?" asked Josette. She couldn't believe what she had just heard. Charles Dankworth was their great grandfather and also the missing husband of Anna.

"Well, in a way," replied Jackson.

"What do you mean in a way?" asked Angeline. Unsatisfied with the given answer.

"What I mean is that Anna is not my great grandmother unlike both of you. Elizabeth was my great grandmother," explained Jackson.

"Who's Elizabeth?" asked Josette.

"The mistress."

"So, the rumor was true? Anna's husband ran off with a mistress?" asked Josette. Jackson nodded quietly.

"Few weeks ago, I found a diary that belonged to Elizabeth in my parents' attic. That's how I know the whole story. At first, I came here to have a look at the mansion out of curiosity. Then, found out from the local that the rumor has it that Anna is still trapped inside the mansion to this day waiting for her husband," explained Jackson in detail. Both of the sisters listened carefully.

"So, what're you gonna do about all this?" asked Josette.

"I think I need to set things right," replied Jackson. "For Anna."

"How are you gonna do that?" asked Angeline

."The woman who you guys met yesterday at here, she might be Anna. But too bad, you guys don't have the key to the mansion," Jackson sighed.

"Well, we can just wait here. Anna might show up again," suggested Josette.

"Are you crazy?!" Angeline was very unhappy with her sister's suggestion. "You know this Anna is not-" Angeline paused for a second before continued, "human."

"She is our great grandmother. Don't you want her to be set free and move on instead of trapping inside the mansion?" Josette was trying to persuade her sister. "Pretty please?" Angeline finally surrendered to her sister.

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The sun has retired. The night insects took the night shift and started to work on their nocturnal chorus. It was a cloudless night and the bright full moon shone over them but the moonlight was still not enough so Josette has to turn on her car headlights shining over the mansion. The trio were waiting for Anna inside the car the whole time.

"Can we just go? We have been waiting for like a decade! And it's getting creepy in here," complained Angeline.

"Just hang on for a few more minutes," said Josette and it didn't sit well with Angeline.

"I'm gonna go take a look," Jackson got out of the car without waiting for the sisters' response. Josette immediately followed suit and her younger sister let out a sigh before doing so.

"See?! There is nobody. Can we just go now?" Angeline was getting impatient. Josette shushed her sister.

"I think we should just go since we all have been waiting for the whole night and I guessed you guys must be starving. I know just a place for pizza," said Jackson.

"Thank god!" Angeline was relieved.

"Anna?" Both Jackson and Angeline turned to the direction of Josette's voice. And there stood the woman from yesterday. She was as pale as one of those characters from Tim Burton's movies. Jackson walked slowly towards Josette who was standing still looking at Anna and Angeline followed suit shakily.

"Can you help me find my husband?" said the woman to the trio who were standing in front of her.

"A-are you Anna?" Jackson asked carefully. The woman nodded slowly.

"We are sorry but your husband has-"

"Anna, do you know what year is this?" Josette cut in before Angeline could finish her sentence.

"I know I am dead," said Anna, flatly. Her statement somehow sent a chill up their spines despite that they have already known the fact.

"Can you help me find my husband?" Anna repeated the request again.

"We have to let her know the truth," said Angeline when both Jackson and Josette were hesitating to speak the truth. "It's painful but she needs this to move on."

Jackson took a deep breath, "Anna, your husband has a mistress. Her name is Elizabeth and I am her great grandson. I-I am truly sorry." Somehow, Anna was very calm like she already knew it. The trio looked at her with a pitiful silence.

"I know," said Anna but more like a whisper to herself.

"Then why are you still looking for him?" asked Angeline.

"Little missy, you will never understand until you have fallen in love," said Anna with a warm smile. The paleness of her skin on her face has showed some color. The power of love and loyalty.

"We are truly sorry that we don't know how to help you. But, we hope that you can move-"

"Anna," a gravelly voice has cut in before Josette could finish her sentence. "My love."

"Now I can move on," said Anna to the trio. Anna's husband finally showed up and they knew almost immediately that the man was Charles Dankworth as Jackson bore a resemblance to him. The steel grey eyes that will melt every woman's heart and make one to willingly wait for a century for him to return. Hand in hand, they disappeared into the dark.

Josette turned to look at her younger sister who was sleeping soundly at the back seat. This time, Jackson was the one who drove. They were driving back to the hotel after they have witnessed their great grandparents disappeared into the dark right in front of them.

"What a night, right?" said Jackson.

"Yeah."

"Will we meet again?" asked Jackson.

"Well, we are related. I'm sure we will meet again," replied Josette. Jackson chuckled softly and both of them remained silent for the rest of the journey to enjoy the quiet, peaceful night.

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