The rest of the journey eastward passed by relatively uneventfully. No other ancient monsters like the Chimera attacked them, though Albert did see a wolf the size of a horse running parallel to the car at one point. It was dark by the time his father's aged station wagon rolled up the gravel driveway of a classic Victorian styled house. The peeling green paint of the rounded edge of the tower section of it coming into view as the headlights shone upon it.
His father must have read the distaste in Albert's face as awe as he stepped out of the car and stretched his arms above his head saying,"Yes, it's beautiful isn't it? The room in the tower section there is yours, Al."
"It's falling apart!" Albert replied incredulously, noticing that a large portion of the tiles above the porch had fallen off. Whomever had owned the home before had piled the cracked ceramic tiling by the stairs up to the front door.
"Nonsense, it just needs a little bit of maintenance. Thats how I could get a Victorian styled mansion for so cheap! Just wait, soon it'll be the envy of the north-east!"
Albert groaned and hefted the box with his bedding out of the trunk of the car, testing the strength of each stair he stepped on before trusting it enough to put his full weight onto it.
"It'd better have a full fucking roof. I'd rather sleep in the car than die because the ceiling caves in on me during a storm," Albert grumbled to himself, too quiet for anyone to hear him.
The entry hall was in better condition than the outside of the house. The previous owner had obviously put in a little effort refurbishing it before deciding it was too much work and sold the place. The flooring was polished and the large wooden columns that extended from the doorway up to the central staircase were painted with a fresh coat of white paint. On the right, through the columns that held up the rooms above, a dining room papered with wallpaper donning the medieval symbol that Albert always thought looked like a trident stretched out in a space so large that three of their previous dining tables could fit in, side by side, and still have room to spare. A simple archway cut into the wall led from the dining room to the kitchen. The kitchen was colored bright blue and brand new stainless steel appliances brought the look to the 21st century.
Unfortunately, the renovations seemed to have ended there. Only half cabinets in the kitchen were painted. Halfway through, it looked like whomever was painting gave up mid brush stroke. The small maze of rooms through the left set of columns still had holes in the walls where wiring was exposed and the second floor was much the same. As Albert carefully limped up the stairs, his ankle still sore from when he hurt it jumping off the cliff, the decrepit red carpet that led up the stairs and lined the upper hallways released clouds of dust and a powerful scent of mold. He held his breath until he reached his room in the tower.
Swiping the switch beside the door absentmindedly, he looked around the space, setting the box down and stepping inside. The inside of the tower was small in width. It was octagonal in shape with windows to the outside on every other flat section and no larger than his last room. No larger, that is, if you didn't consider the vertical height. In one corner of the room, a ladder led up a large loft that looked over the main floor of his bedroom and (presumably) had great views to the outside from the upper windows.
Though he wouldn't admit this to his father, Albert thought it could turn out pretty cool once they fixed up. He was actually pretty psyched to have a 2 story bedroom for himself. He strode around the perimeter of his room, staring out the windows and trying to see into the darkness outside. He was staring down into the driveway, watching the way his parent's shadows stretched and moved in the beams of the headlights when a sudden burst thunder rattled the windows around him making him jump nearly a foot into the air. The clatter of rain that pelted the roof soon after muffled his loud swearing. Large droplets of water began sliding down the windows as Albert glanced around his new room.
"No leaks then, I guess."
Just by walking a few seconds in the pouring rain made Albert feel like he had dove fully clothed into a pool. His hair was plastered to his forehead, and he had to shake it dry like a dog when he got back inside. A few steps up the stairs, his sopping sneakers lost traction and he nearly fell backwards, saving himself by dropping the box in his hands and grabbing the bannister. After that, his parents decided that they would carry the rest of Albert's things into the house, noticing that his ankle had swollen from the effort.
Though the roof didn't leak, his tower obviously wasn't insulated well. Albert felt a cold breeze trickling in through the single-paned glass of the windows. Albert shivered and grabbed his comforter out of one of the boxes and wrapped it around himself. He had already put on his pajamas after shedding his clothes in a soggy heap on the floor. Now, he scooted into a corner and curled up into a ball under the blanket, cursing himself a fool for ever thinking this room was cool.
He awoke the next morning with a beam of light streaming in through the second story window by his loft shining into his eyes.
Albert uncurled from under his blanket and stretched out his legs. The swelling on his ankle had gone down, though it still hurt a bit if he moved it funny. Obviously he had just sprained it. Yawning, he walked out of his new room and wandered down the hallway, checking each door he as he walked by.
Each of the rooms he checked looked much like the rest of the house, run-down and musty. At the end of the hall a set of double doors led to the master bedroom. He peeked inside, looking for the sleeping forms of his parents. Two sets of sleeping bags were laid out over a large air mattress in the center of the room. Around it, piles of boxes were stacked against the walls. His parents were nowhere to be seen so Albert wandered downstairs to the kitchen, thinking they might be having breakfast.
He nearly tripped over a frying pan as he walked into the kitchen. Empty boxes, torn bubblewrap, tape, and their scattered belongings were strewn over the counter and floors. His mother had seemingly searched in every box in the room for something before finding it, throwing everything else aside without thought. A yellow stick-it note stuck to the microwave caught his eye and he wandered over to it, stepping over the set of Russian stacking dolls that one of his parents had picked up from their travels.
Your father and I have gone out shopping for supplies and furniture, we'll be back around dinner. Breakfast is in the microwave. Feel free to order a pizza for lunch if you get hungry. I left you $30 under your plate.
P.S. Try and unpack your room and some of the other belongings if you can, the contractor gets here tomorrow.]
Frowning, Albert popped open the microwave to see a plate of scrambled eggs and a couple of sausages. The smiling faces of Benjamin Franklin and Andrew Jackson stared up at him from beneath the plate. Albert slipped the money into his pocket and set the plate back in the microwave for a minute, spending a good five minutes searching through all the clutter until he found the forks. With steam rising off the eggs, he sat on the floor and shoveled the food into his mouth, pondering over what to do next. He could think of a lot of things he would rather do besides unpacking right now.
"Besides," he thought, biting the end off a sausage. "They're not doing any unpacking, why should I?"
As he swallowed, a small door nestled in the wooden paneling on the wall behind him caught his attention. Curious, he walked over to it and slid the door upwards, revealing the rope of an old dumbwaiter system that led to other areas of the house. This got his imagination churning. An old house like this might have mysteries to uncover. He hadn't even explored all of the rooms, let alone the grounds.
"You never know, I might find some sort of treasure," he mused, scraping the rest of his eggs into his mouth and dumping the plate into the sink. "Hell, if Chimeras exist, who am I to say that old Victorian manors won't contain a treasure map or something."
In the few days after his escape, his shock had begun to wear off and he became increasingly optimistic about things. Wasn't this just what he had always wanted? Adventure and magic had literally stared him in the face. Something was going on and he wanted to know what. Excitement rushed through him and goosebumps popped up on the back of his neck as he thought back to the Chimera again, as he had many times over the last few days.
"I escaped a monster. A monster!" He told himself inwardly, running back up to his room as fast as his ankle would allow. "Finally, I'm beginning to do the things I was meant to do!"
He quickly threw off his old t-shirt and grabbed a new one, one depicting one of his favorite bands, Avenged Sevenfold. He grabbed another pair of jeans and pulled on his grey hoodie. It was still cold outside, he would need it when he explored the grounds. Plus, it was already cold enough see his breath in his room. Next, he wandered around the upstairs rooms again, looking for things he hadn't noticed before. After ending back up in the master bedroom, he discovered another little door in the wall.
"The dumbwaiter obviously leads up to here," he reasoned, sliding open the door. Kneeling down and looking up into the shaft, Albert noticed that it led higher up into the house.
"An attic maybe?" Albert thought, turning around thouroughly searching around each of the other rooms from top to bottom again for a way up. After he had searched the last room before his, and found nothing, he shrugged and decided to explore the grounds next.
"Plus, I might be able to see where the way up would be from the outside."
Before leaving, Albert grabbed the cast iron tool used to poke the fire from the stand next to the fireplace. Excited as he was, he wasn't stupid. He wasn't going anywhere without a weapon again if he could help it. He shoved the poker through one of the belt loops on his jeans like a sword and stepped outside. He wondered if he could goad his father into buying him a replica sword if he said it was purely out of historical interest. His father would probably be all for it, but he doubted his mother would allow it. Telling himself that he would ask later anyways, Albert wandered onwards.
Puddles splashed water onto the hems of his jeans as he stepped onto the cobblestones of the garden. It was overgrown, but the roses that the previous tenant had planted were still alive and well. Their faint scent exuded from all around him while bees buzzed around, landing periodically on the flower petals that weren't still covered in drops of water from last night's rainfall. The garden path winded its way around overgrown flower patch after overgrown flower patch, eventually ending at a rickety gazebo with a collapsed shed next to it. The gazebo overlooked a heavily wooded hill that stretched down to the distant shoreline below. Even from here Albert could see the inky blues of the Atlantic crashing against rocks below, white sea-foam drawing lines in the otherwise solid ocean. Next to a towering oak, he could see what looked like a small animal path leading into the woods and down the hill towards the sea.
Albert hesitated for a moment, remembering the last time he wandered alone into the trees, then gripped his poker tightly and held it in front of him like a spear as he stepped onto the path and began heading down.
Wow, I haven't written this much in such a short amount of time in a long time!
Sorry if you think the story is progressing slowly, I promise it will pick up really quick starting with the next chapter so stick with me!
If you don't, my Chimera friend will come eat you! >:)
Anyway, as usual, please add this to your library to keep up to date. Plus, review and vote for this if you like it! All of this helps keep me motivated and my fragile ego in check. :) Until next time.
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