Alhambra (English original version)

Esta es la versión original en inglés de la historia que publiqué ayer. Como verán, y es así como yo lo considero, esta versión supera por mucho a la traducción de la misma, ya que en su naturaleza, contiene elementos propios de la literatura británica que, por más que uno quiera, no se pueden traducir al español.


This is an original short tale written by one of my British lit classmates, Anyelin Ruiz, and me, as part of the creative writing assignment of the semester. I hope you enjoy it. This is Gothic literature!



Auld lang syne, the Dumfries neighbors tell, something unexplainable took place in the town. Nobody seems to remember exactly what happened. But they describe the most terrifying scene ever. According to them, passed midnight, they saw a dreadful fire at the distance and heard an ordeal of screams and laments coming from the old Mansion Dunn, though they seemed to come from the very heart of HELL. And they will never know what occurred, unless that… by the very cleverness of their grasp, they discover the truth by listening to this story.
On that afternoon, the mood of the place was as usual or at least as it was since she had turned into a specter or what others called a shadow. A shadow not only of her soul but also of what she used to be LONG, LONG time AGO… The day was grim, cold, and windy; indeed, the clouds did not let the light of the sun go through, it was as if the clouds resisted to the shining strength of the sun, leaving it powerless. The days were like these in the mausoleum that she had constructed, the light could not be seen… It was as if darkness had possessed the house completely and also her hollow soul. Alhambra was the name of the corpse –because she was no longer a human- that wandered in the creepy, and old house full of memories that only had drown her into murk. When she was just a teenager, her father, Broehain Dunn, a Scottish man who owned vast properties all along the region and managed a great fortune, and her mother, a Moroccan woman with an exuberant prettiness, died in a shipwreck in the Mediterranean Sea, inheriting her an old-fashioned mansion, a bunch of debts, and mere poverty. The villagers say that she used to be a woman with an exotic beauty; her physical features were indescribable, she was redheaded, pale-white skin, intense-blue eyes that resembled the color of the sapphire and the calmness of the profound sea. Though, what remained of her… was the vestige of time and the misery of life.
She was part of the house. Then, her hair was as gray as the clouds on a stormy day and her eyes reflected tempestuous seas. Her skin was pale as a shriveled iceberg. She had merged with the gloominess of the place, with the dustiness and the silence. Mansion Dunn was an ancient, decaying hall from the 16th Century with numerous chambers and corners, basements and penthouses, and stairs where dust and cobwebs prevailed. That afternoon, the flowing river Nith, which was located near the house, struggled to give some life to the environment of grief and despair of the place. Unkempt gardens of wild overgrown bushes and spiny wilted flowers covered the frontal grounds of the crumbling structure. In its back and adjacent sides, a spinney of twisted and decrepit pine and alder trees crowned the house’s roof eaves and window edges. The dwelling place was so large that the emptiness filled up each of its corners, including Alhambra’s mind and heart. She, sitting on a rocking chair in the parlor, waited for the twilight rambling her confusions; in fact, she waited for her beloved. The shadows had risen up projecting different and shapeless silhouettes against the parlor’s gray walls. Through the window, the sunset announced the arrival of shadows and uncertainty.
On each day, after dusk, her beloved appeared and gently greeted her. Patiently, she always waited for him sitting on her rocking chair. He was a white, strong, green eyed, blond and tall man, the typical Irish. He constantly wore a laborer uniform as he was an operator in the town’s watermill. Each evening they spent some time together, enjoying and remembering old times and telling stories, remembering when the old days brought them peace and light, the light they lacked then, and also recalling how much time they used to have…The same that had set them apart. It was a race against time… The hostile time that had rotten Alhambra’s beauty, but not their vast love. However, she suffered because she no longer had peace and her insanity had led her to loneliness and seclusion, a seclusion that had transformed her into an automaton that lived her days out of grief and sorrow. On that evening, particularly, her beloved was more distant than usual; his face reflected a deep anger and despair. She could not understand the root of such attitude. He did not kiss her, and he was cold as a grey tomb. She offered him a cup of tea, then a glass of whiskey, but with a gesture of his hand he refused every single sign of attention.
By the twenty-second hour of that day, in that huge parlor where they both were, everything was silence and calm though, in the aloof hill forest, the howl of wolves and the moonlight in the sky announced the beginning of a plotting night. Inside the house, the trembling light of the candles resembled little spirits dancing around even though there was no flow of air. The tension of the environment mixed up with the dusty ancient furniture and together provided the place with a chimera of hopelessness, anxiety and fear. All of a sudden, the clouds burst in a furious storm that mirrored the fierceness of a Kraken approaching its prey. The thunders and the lightning that came along with the rain hit all Dumfries.
In the parlor, Alhambra left her shabby rocking chair to approach her father’s grand piano, which barely produce some music due to the pass of time; she sought to dedicate herself to a melancholic concert of rotten remembrances and sorrow tears. Dean, her beloved, being an Irish flutist, prevented her from playing by putting a frozen hand on her shoulder; she turned her head and saw him playing the flute. The man played a lilting Irish tune; it sounded as though he was lamenting. The tune was sad and dark, and so he continued for at least one hour and a half, music merging with the song of the rain and the drums of the sky. Once the tune stopped, Alhambra saw some ravens flying around the house through a gloom stained glass facing the house’s garden. Suddenly, a piercing caw made her startle and she yelled out of fear. She knew it was the sign. “No, no, please, Aswad, not tonight!” she cried desperately, but a dim figure showed up at the foot of the stairs that drove from the parlor to the second floor. It was a man. He was tall and slim, bronzed, dark eyed, and brunette. He had an Oriental look that expressed nothing but indifference and coldness. He wore a businessman suit from early 20th Century. He was Aswad, Alhambra’s husband.
Some years ago, when Alhambra lived happier moments, Aswad had died… the villagers do not know the reason of his death. However, they suspect that something really perverse and evil occurred since there are still circling stories about a spirit that tormented Alhambra from time to time. Her husband was an Egyptian businessman. He had moved to live with her in Mansion Dunn since he had established a shipping company that offered ferry services from Dumfries and Galloway to Northern Ireland. They had met each other in a boat trip in the Irish Sea. They fell in love and married. But then, they were separated by the boundaries of death, though he struggled for sticking to a paranormal state… yet his purpose was utterly unknown. On that night, though, it seemed that his purpose had matured enough to become a reality, a reality that was far away from being supernatural.
In the precise moment that Aswad appeared, lightning illumined the place revealing a pale and fearsome vision: an old, decrepit woman crouching over a tarnished piano seat, an Irish flutist with a grim look, and a thin, tall man threatening both of them with a bronze dagger. The spirit walked towards them with firm steps, holding up and pointing the dagger towards Dean. The dagger had rests of blood and, for this vision, Dean suddenly suffered from a dreadful shiver. Alhambra was starting to lose her mind. Numerous times she had witnessed how Aswad’s spirit abruptly ruined her lovely full moon nights. Each month, she had to bear the most malevolent trickeries caused by him. The companion of her beloved, however, was the only thing that made her feel safer on that night even though he looked strange since the appearance of Aswad’s phantom. The closer Aswad was from Dean, the stronger Dean’s shivering turned. And then it happened. All of a sudden, Alhambra saw terrified how Dean suffered a transformation. It was horrific. His handsome visage turned into a warped cluster of bleeding scars, and his body was no longer a compact unit of bones, muscles and skin. It transformed into a shapeless figure of twisted shreds of skin, broken bones and bloody flesh hanging from ragged and tore clothing. The look of his green eyes echoed a desire for blood and revenge; his anger had risen to the point of boiling the soul out of one single provocation.
In fact, he had got “one single provocation”: Aswad’s bloody bronze dagger. Then Dean was not an ordinary man; he had gone back to his natural state, a state sharing features with Aswad’s. Let me explain. He had also died a long, long time ago, even before Aswad appeared in Alhambra’s life. He was Alhambra’s first husband, who one day died in an utterly tragic accident. He was indeed a watermill operator, as I already said, but he would had never suspected what would happen to him on a normal autumn evening whilst he worked. As a daily task, he was commanded to make the waterwheel function by feeding the boiler coal. This mechanism was located beside the lower edge of the waterwheel, so he needed to go down to put the coal in it. Unfortunately, the bridge to approach the boiler was a narrow and unstable wooden board which, on that day, decided to give in to the weight of his body, so he fell down beneath the mechanism and was electrified. His body was ripped and crushed by the gyrating waterwheel. The story tells that, after his death, Alhambra immersed herself into a dark and deep ocean of sorrow. Her depression drove her insane. She spent her days crying and wandering around Mansion Dunn until one day, as recommended by a friend of hers, she went to see a Celtic kind of druid. This druid ministered her a medicine to face her insanity. Nonetheless, this medicine had severe side effects if the treatment was left. One day, the unwanted occurred. This druid passed away and left Alhambra with neither provisions of the medicine nor the formula to prepare it. Thus, the treatment was interrupted and she went totally mad. Curiously, this was around the days when Aswad vanished mysteriously from Earth.
In the scene, Dean’s Irish flute had also turned into a weapon; it then was a workman shovel. Maybe it was the same shovel that he clutched on the day of his death. Then, both phantoms whipped each other. On one hand, Dean’s phantom suffered from a humanlike and recalcitrant feeling of jealousy towards Alhambra’s relationship with Aswad. And, on the other hand, Aswad’s ghost sought vengeance, vengeance towards both of them. Alhambra, when Aswad was still alive, had warned him many times about her apparent madness, though he never gave much credit to such mention. However, one day, when he was reading in Mansion Dunn’s library, he heard a spine-chilling scream and hurried steps that came towards the place where he was. It was Alhambra, carrying a bronze dagger and a red-faced look. He tried to calm her down, but it was useless. She mumbled the name of her previous consort, uttered oaths and lamented. She yell “I love you Dean” and Stabbed Aswad directly on his heart. He was the victim of that druid’s execrable medicine side effects. She had gone into a state beyond the boundaries of insanity and despair.
In that moment, just passed midnight, when both spirits were engaged in a berserk, supernatural fight, and while Alhambra abandoned herself to an ordeal of screams, blood curdling screams, the two phantoms vanished as the house’s parlor was hit by a bolt of lightning as though Thor himself had cast it; the storm had not ceased yet. Then, a blazing fire started to consume the decaying house. The lightning bolt had impacted the piano, causing a dissonant din followed by a deafening thunder that shuddered the whole structure; it shuddered the heart, the columns and the foundations of the house, and the heart and soul of Alhambra. Her beloved then had gone, forever. She was totally lost in her grief, fear and insanity.
Lying there, at her feet, was Dean’s spectrum’s shovel turned into coal and some two meters afar was Aswad’s spirit bloody dagger, the same dagger with which he had been killed. She walked towards the dagger with evident difficulty. She could scarcely see through the cloud of smoke that covered the ancient house; she was in the very heart of hell. The heat was extremely high. She could not resist it anymore. She grabbed the dagger with a Rickety, quivering hand and pointed it towards her chest. But, in that moment, a glowing piece of beam fell upon her father’s mansion’s parlor and caused her to fall down. She, clutching the dagger, remained motionless on the floor recalling in retrospective all her lifetime… all her sorrow… all her joyful moments… and all her regrets. And, for our very knowledge, as though she had vanished along with those horrific spirits, nobody ever found her corpse or sign of her thereafter.

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