Sunday, February 8, 2015

Blurred Edges, Chapter Two

Unlocking the chains around the door handles, Martin slid them off before gently dropping them down to the marble steps. The area was surprisingly clean of graffiti, not that small towns were well known for such art. Still, with all of the places that Claire and Martin had cleaned up, they’d always stumble across some form of tagging that would need a day or two of work to remove. But not counting the rotting doors, the outside was amazingly clean. Perhaps the veritable wall of vines and weeds crawling up the side of the manor prevented anyone from desecrating the building, or maybe they just hid past markings.

Pushing open the doors, Claire felt as if a sudden weight had settled over her shoulders. From the way Martin seemed to exhale suddenly, Claire could only guess that he felt something similar.
“Wow,” Martin said, looking around the grand entryway. “This place needs some serious maintenance.”
Claire looked into the darkened room, waiting for her eyes to adjust. The first thing she noticed was the crystal chandelier lying shattered in the middle of the foyer, having fallen from the ceiling some time ago judging by the layer of dust over everything. Cracked shards of faded stone lay haphazardly around the room, the golden filigree of the chandelier twisted and bent beyond repair. The tile beneath the hefty art piece was cracked, uneven and broken shards mixing in with the splintered crystal to create a nasty looking cocktail of shrapnel that Claire decided she would rather avoid for now.
“Here,” Marten said, handing Claire a heavy yellow flashlight. “I had the caretaker leave a couple charged flashlights in the entry rooms of the manor.”
“There’s an actual caretaker? What’s he been doing all this time letting this place get this bad?” Claire asked, shaking her head as she flipped on the flashlight, creating a wide cone of illumination that chased away the darkness to the corners of the grand foyer.
“He’s old, I doubt he’s actually been in here in over a decade,” Marten replied, rolling his shoulders. “He lives in a little house on the property, so I know we can get electricity turned on in here pretty easily. The only problem is if there are fire hazards like this lying around the place.”
“Yeah, we should probably bring in the portable generator and just light up a room or two,” Claire said, thinking of the mess that could result from free flowing electricity running through the entire manor before they even had a chance to inspect it. Thank goodness the circuit breakers had been flipped off years ago; if she’d known that the interior had open wiring like this, she would’ve had Marten wait on having the electricity turned on.
“The bedrooms are on the second floor in the East Wing if I remember correctly… hold on, let me look at the map.” Martin said, pulling up a folded up piece of paper from his pocket.
“You need a map?” Claire chuckled before noticing how serious Marten was.
“Yeah, this place is that big,” Marten answered, holding his flashlight over the unfolded blueprint of the house. “Yeah, the Center Wing is locked up tight but the East Wing has all the bedrooms and studies.”
“Studies as in plural?” Claire asked, interested.
“Yeah, this family was pretty big and had more than a few businessmen and lawyers living here with their families,” Martin shined the flashlight beyond the broken chandelier towards a pair of sweeping staircases flanking a hall leading deeper into the manor. “If we take the stairs to the right we should find a room with a bathroom and a study connected to it after only twenty feet.”
“Jesus, are you serious?” Claire asked, looking around with her own light. “The foyer is easily eighty feet by eighty feet with forty-foot ceilings. If I didn’t see the support columns standing around the room I wouldn’t believe this place hadn’t collapsed in on itself by now.”
“Caretaker, remember? He probably made sure snow didn’t pile up on the building and did his best to keep the gardens maintained.”
“Yeah, well he failed at that.” Claire muttered. Turning to Marten, she smiled and took hold of the map. “You go grab the generator, I’ll find our room.”
“Got it,” Martin said. Turning, he walked back out through the creaking doors, a soft echo of the wood closing ringing through the room as he left Claire all by herself.
Looking down at the blueprints, she shook her head at the design of this place. “Who would build a giant pentagon in the middle of nowhere? I mean, I know there were like five towns around here when the place was built, but this is just ridiculous.”
Stepping softly around the big mess in the middle of the foyer, Claire made her way towards the stairs, her shoes clacking loudly with every step as she walked along the tile. She winced with every move, as if she was stepping over someone’s grave or walking on holy ground. Reaching the stairs, she made a face at the stone bust of a reptilian head sitting atop the post at the bottom of the stairs that the railing connected to.
“God these people were freaks…” Claire muttered before scooting back as she saw a spider crawl over the head of the bust. Big as her hand and fat as a goose, it bore a green splotch of color on its back, with large fangs extended out from its mouth.
“Holy shit…” Claire muttered, staring at the spider. It stood its ground atop the head, two of its forelegs raised up as if it were waving hello. “Well hi there little guy, what are you?”
Folding the paper up (but never taking her eye off the spider), Claire pulled out her IPad from her bag and turned it on, waiting for the screen to flash to light before moving. Holding the device up, she took a quick snapshot of it. Saving the image, she punched up Google and sent the image through the search engine, hoping to find a match. Sighing as she realized there was no wireless internet out here, she turned her IPad off and slid it back into her duffel bag before turning her light back to where the spider had been.
“Well I’m sorry little guy, but I can’t find what you – where did you go?” She said, waving the flashlight around in search of the fist-sized arachnid.
She nearly screamed when she heard the door open up, her flashlight sweeping across the foyer to blind Marten as he walked in lugging the small generator with both hands. He was smiling, though he looked a little pale, and very cold.
“The generator should last us the night, but I’ll have to plug it into the station wagon in the morning to recharge it.” Martin said, moving slowly around the shattered glass and crystal spread out around the broken gold framework. He stopped when he caught sight of Claire, looking at her with a blank expression on his face.
“What?” She asked, reaching a hand back to scratch at the back her head.
“Don’t!” Martin shouted, dropping the generator with a resounding clang throughout the house.
Claire almost shouted at him for dropping the equipment when she felt twin needles sink into her hand, two hairy limbs moving out over her palm to hold her hand in place. So instead she merely screamed in pain.

No comments:

Post a Comment