Standing in front of the house, it had seemed like a good idea at the time.
“Go to a new school,” his father had said. “You can join the football team there and make it big!”
“And imagine all the pretty farmers daughters you’ll get to meet,” his mother had said.
Of course, neither of them would be home all too often to deal with the decrepit old manor they’d purchased at auction. His mother was a flight attendant and his father a pilot… they often worked the same airlines just so they could room together when they got to their destination. He always thought that they’d never left their honeymoon and he’d just been an accident along the way.
He was an optimist, to say the least.
“Ah well, time to see what I’m in for,” he said as he walked up the creaking porch steps towards the front door, keys in hand.
The porch, as well as the outside walls and door, were bare wood with strips of peeling paint falling away here and there, the cedar that had been used to construct the home in the first place now a far darker color due to age. An old front porch swing set hung on a rusted chain, rocking gently in the barely noticeable wind in a way that made Samuel twitch in fear.
He did that a lot.
Sliding the main key into the door, he listened to the lock creak and groan as he twisted it open before pushing the door a fraction of an inch inward. Dust and debris rained down on him like confetti at a drunken new year’s party, forcing him to back away coughing. Glaring at the two-story house, he groaned as he moved to open the door once more.
“I can already tell I’m going to love this place,” Samuel said, pushing the door open all the way so that he could afford a chance to look into the house that was probably the inspiration for some of the snuff films to come out as of late.
The hall was old with cedar and mahogany furniture, leading through the house back into a kitchen, which was lit up by the wonderfully brilliant day out. The chill of the winter set in quite deeply and Samuel couldn’t wait to find the thermostat in this place and crank it up.
You see, Samuel wasn’t built like your average teenage boy; he was thin and reedy, with a pale complexion and sunken, wide eyes of gleaming ocean sapphire. With the appearance of a recently revived undead menace that was strongly considering going back into the ground, Samuel found it difficult to make friends. Dressed in a puffy black sweater and jeans ending in a pair of steel-toed boots, Samuel liked to think he looked a tad bit more masculine. He ignored the stares at him from those that passed by, and the strange looks he got from little children.
Who cared what some leftover DNA thought of him?
Turning to grab his two suitcases, he marched into the house and closed the door, locking it behind him (his habit of nervous twitches and a mild state of paranoia didn’t help him much either) before turning to examine the two rooms adjacent to the doorway, not counting the staircase that led upstairs to who knew what horrors.
The room to his left was a sitting room, with a fireplace and several high-backed chairs with small tables next to them. A quick glance told him he would be spending a lot of time in this room, as he saw a bookshelf lined with philosophical texts. Whoever had last lived here had good taste. Or at least similar tastes as Samuel.
The room to his right was a long dining room, with a long dining table covered in a white cloth and a doorway leading to the kitchen. Several clear cases stood along the walls holding precious china plates that Samuel assumed were once used for when the good company was coming over. If they were the only plates in the house, they would soon be used for pizza and microwavable burritos. Not the most practical of purposes for exquisite china, but then again Samuel wasn’t one for antique dishware.
Leaving his suitcases by the door, he walked down the creaking floorboards of the hall and made his way to the kitchen, sighing as he saw the cast iron and wood than a practical electric oven and laminate flooring. The wooden floor in here was covered by a wide carpet that encapsulated the center table and fanned out to the edges of the room, a horrid green and white woven rug that was an eyesore to even Samuel.
“It doesn’t tie the room together at all…” Samuel said aloud, looking around at the hanging pots and pans. “If I cared enough, that would be replaced as soon as possible.”
Opening a few drawers, Samuel was satisfied with the old silverware (tarnished but still good!) that he found. The refrigerator was positively empty, but the fact that it was running made Samuel’s heart leap with joy.
“The first signs of true technology, and I find them in the kitchen…” He grumbled, closing the door.
Checking the back room only to find a back door that was locked and a washer and dryer that had seen the Carter administration, Samuel bravely marched on back to the front of the house, turning on the stairs to head up. Grabbing one suitcase, he made his way up the stairs one creaky step at a time, all the while staring at the dusty picture frames depicting a woman in a high-necked blouse and two children, both below the ages of ten. The young boy looked like your stereotypical rascal child, like Dennis the Menace, while the girl appeared more bookish, with large circular lenses blocking her face.
The fact that the pictures were in black and white made Samuel feel safe that he would never have to encounter these people, as he doubted very much that he would like the little boy and the mother. The daughter, maybe… she looked like she was one prone to his fields of study, especially with a picture of her holding a high school diploma marking the year nineteen thirteen. Not exactly the time and place for a woman to be going to school, one would think unless it was to meet boys.
Taking his mind off of the romantic interests of children from the silent era of movies, Samuel moved down the hall to the largest bedroom. A dusty king sized bed with a folded comforter sat in the middle of the room, a small stand next to the bed holding an oil lantern and a box of matches.
“Oh, you have got to be kidding me…” Samuel said, looking around the room for an outlet. “Dad, you bought a house that doesn’t have electricity in some of the rooms. How do you even do that? I would have to look for that specifically as a feature!”
Opening the closets, Samuel blew out a sigh as he saw clothes that easily dated back fifty years, all moth eaten and muted in color. “Joy! Dead people clothes!”
Samuel pulled down a large handful of the clothes and marched down stairs towards the front door, keys in hand, only to find it opened up wide, a cool breeze fluttering a few errant crunchy leaves in.
Staring at the scene for a second, Samuel sighed again. “And to top it off, the lock on my front door doesn’t work. I’m going to get killed tonight by some lunatic with a knife…”
Walking out to the curb where the trash cans were, he lifted the lid off of one of the trash cans and tossed the garments in. Before he could retreat back into the house, he heard the clacking of heels on pavement, growing ever closer. Turning, he saw an older, heavyset woman in her mid-forties carrying a leather-bound book in one hand and holding a purse slung over her shoulder in the other.
“Why hell-o there, young man! You must be the new neighbor everyone’s been talking about,” she said, waving at him as she approached, smiling.
“Everyone? I’ve been here less than ten minutes, how could everyone be talking about me already?” Samuel asked, earning a cross look from the woman. It lasted for but a brief second before it was replaced with her plastered on smile.
“Oh, we all saw you pull up in that car of yours Mr…?” The woman began, trailing off on Samuel’s name as if fishing for it.
“Samuel, Samuel Graves,” He replied tersely.
“Oh, well Samuel I was wondering if we could talk for a few minutes about your moving into the neighborhood?” The woman half asked, half stated. She moved forward, brushing past him heading towards the house when Samuel cleared his throat.
“Actually, now is a bad time for me. You see I’m just now moving in, and I need to unpack, get rid of a few things…” Samuel said, looking at the woman as she waddled around to face him.
“Oh, but this would be an important conversation. You see, I’m here to save your soul.” She stated proudly as if someone was giving her a gold star.
Samuel wiped his face from his forehead to his chin, telling himself that this would be just a test of patience for him. “While I appreciate the effort Missus…?
“Applefield,” she happily interjected.
“Missus Applefield,” Samuel continued, “I am rather busy and I already have plans for my souls as is, so while I appreciate the offer I must respectfully decline.”
“Decline? You would turn away a Christian seeking to show you the light of His salvation?” She said, acting shocked.
“I’m afraid so, you see I’m a practicing Wiccan, and while I appreciate your pandering views of a simple, hard-nosed God that have supposedly come around to become a loving Lord of all, I’m afraid I’m going to have to stick to my beliefs.”
“But… but… what about when you die? Aren’t you afraid you’ll go to Hell?” She said, grasping at straws.
Samuel chuckled and closed the lid of his trash can. “Not in the slightest Missus Applefield. You see, I don’t believe in your version of Hell.”
“There is only one version of Hell m’boy, and you are on a path to it,” she said, her voice rising in tenor.
“And which version would that be, hmmm? The Catholic version? The Protestant? Hindu? Buddhist? Taoist? There are a lot of Hell’s to choose from, and I’d rather make an educated guess on where my soul will likely end up rather then using blind faith to one particular God and his claims.”
“He doesn’t claim anything; he inspires us with the truth!” She said, now fuming.
Samuel walked past her back towards his house. “And I’m still not buying it. Now if you would be so kind Missus Appplefield, I have chores to do.”
“Yes… yes, I feel it’s for the best that you and I put some distance between each other for now. I’ll need to pray for you, and how to guide you to the light.” She said, shuffling past him, clutching her book possessively to her chest. She stopped and turned to regard Samuel. “Wiccan?”
“Wiccan, with two c’s,” Samuel said, knowing she would be looking up his religion on the internet to understand what he meant when he said it.
“Right, thank you and God bless,” She said, walking away.
Turning to head back inside the house, Samuel smiled as he felt a familiar weight settle on his shoulder.
“Wiccan eh?” Came a high pitched, feminine tone.
“I came up with it on the spot and its close enough to Witch, isn’t it?” Samuel asked, looking over at the small green imp now perched on his shoulder.
The tiny creature, barely three pounds of smooth as silk jade green skin, appeared to be a tiny blonde haired woman bereft of clothes, with small bat wings extending from her back. She had her arms crossed under her breasts and sat cross-legged on his left shoulder, eyeing him with glowing red eyes.
“I doubt the Wiccans would agree with you,” the imp said, rubbing at the side of its head.
“I doubt anyone would believe anything that I would claim when it came to religion. If they did, Atheism wouldn’t be an option, it would be a demand.”