I wrote this short story after being subjected to a few episodes of ‘Downton Abbey.’ As I watched the internationally beloved period drama, I found myself not only bored but oddly inspired. I began to think about the lives of the over-worked cooks and cleaners downstairs and the fun of writing a story from their prospective. From that blend of boredom and creativity came a light-hearted and anarchic tale crafted in the absurdist corners of my mind.
Beige Manor was a grand and opulent place where the aristocracy lived and prospered. To be part of such a prestigious ancestry and have such marvellous grounds to call home was remarkable and a true gift. The inhabitants of the manor house upheld the memory of their ancestors with honour and pride, maintaining the upkeep of the household as they would have decreed. Every corner shone and every crack gleamed. The gold jewels and endless other valuables were regularly polished; the furniture sparkled and the carpets had not a speck of dust or grain of dirt to detract from their grand appearance. Beige Manor was a vision of nobility inside and out, which was constantly maintained by the oppressed staff. As the Lord and Master strode about his dwelling, accompanied by various dukes and gentlemen of state; the servants below stairs dashed about cooking, cleaning and polishing every inch of the ancient household for very little pay and no recognition. As the overworked servants led them into the dining room, the men talked softly as they were presented with their afternoon tea, and the ladies wore colourful hats and perched upon flowery chairs as they sipped from thin china cups.
They enjoyed their feasts as the working classes in the kitchen and stables worked tirelessly for only abuse and aching backs. They didn’t mind working such long hours in such a prestigious household. Their wage was steady and their employment was highly sought after. The odd smack or roar from the Lord or Lady could be accepted from those of such good breeding, but such harsh treatment did take its toll. The cleaners and housekeepers had heard of the violence to be found in Beige Manor, but they did not speak of it, because steady employment and a place to rest their heads was vital to them and the only thing that kept their loved ones from perishing.
There was many a time when a worn-out servant watched the Lord around a table of guests and waited for his painted mask to break and see the anger inside him flow out as he would begin to hit the nearest member of staff furiously. The cook had thought many a time of slipping something into the soup, but the marks on her flesh could be covered and the abuse ignored. The looks they would receive from the Lady of the house were cold and cruel. Beneath the graceful attire lay a dark and unsympathetic heart. Simply because they weren’t as well bred or academic as their employers did not mean they were any less whole. They had minds too, and to be as oppressed as they were, was too much to bear any longer.
It was on the day of the Lord’s daughter’s wedding when the staff were at their most over worked and underestimated. The young lady who was to be married looked at them disgracefully; as they served her food to the hundreds of guests discussing stately business and the marriage. The preceding night, the cook had given all the servants and other staff something to drink. It had put them all in merry spirits for the day’s proceedings. After the speeches were over and the food was consumed, the bride and groom walked into the gardens, and the guests followed with the staff at their heels. As they all spoke amongst themselves, the staff walked forward, and the eyes of the Lord and Lady and their relatives widened as the faces of each servant began to contort and cruel sharp teeth appeared in their mouths. Their faces ripped as brown fur could be seen beneath. Their hands slowly turned into sharp claws and their feet protruded through their shoes. The hairy monsters with canine features ran into the wedding group. They rolled gentlemen on the ground tearing through both their attire and flesh with one snap of their jaws. Shrieks could be heard through the Manor as noblemen ran from the monsters bashing away at them with their canes, but they were no match for the attack and well bred corpses soon littered the land. The grass was red and the air was cold as the bridegroom lost his life. Not a stately soul was spared in the transformed servants’ spree. The oppressive Lord was gone for good and all that was left of the Lady were the remains of her red hat. The servants had taken revenge that day in Beige Manor and all who were left to walk the halls were the restless souls of high society.