Darkness Gathering: Part Four
Shine followed the new owner's address to a very rich
part of Neopia. Seven streets over. It was very large and grand. It must
have cost a lot, Shine thought, because it was next to a very fancy park.
Everything about the house shouted 'expensive'. Shine went up and rung the doorbell.
A chimed melody sounded, though there was no answer.
Shine carefully checked the door to see if it
was locked. To his very great surprise, it opened smoothly on creaking hinges.
Funny, thought Shine, you'd think a family this wealthy would care
to lock their doors. All the lights were off. Not surprising, considering
it was around two in the morning. Supernova looked for a light.
Click. All the lights flipped on, well, you
couldn't really say all of them. Many had burnt out and nobody had bothered
to replace them. Shine quickly took in the surroundings.
The inside of the building was far less grand
than the outside. Cobwebs clung to the dusty furniture and chandeliers. Several
of the stairs were missing boards. The windows were cracked and the colorful
stained glass fading. The house had been empty for months by the looks of this.
Shine cast a mournful look around the empty place.
His brother could not be here. No one would possibly want to live here. Supernova
came and sat, comforting, on his shoulder. She didn't want to give up yet, and
neither did Shine. His bag dropped to the floor.
"I'm going to have a look around," he said with
a smile that did not reach his despairing eyes. "Stay here. Or at least, don't
wander too far." With that, he began to climb the stairs.
He was confident at first. He took caution on
the rickety spiraling stairs. He winced with every creak, as if it was going
to bring the whole house tumbling to its foundations. He carefully skipped over
missing steps and ducked under cobwebs. At last he reached the second story
"Be careful," Supernova called, "we don't know
what's up there. This place could be haunted!"
"And you be quiet!" called Shine. "I don't need
any silly superstitions at the moment. I'm kind of busy!"
Even from the stairs, he could here Supernovas
exasperated sigh echoing around the empty entryway.
There was only one door, and Shine creaked it
open. In this room was a rusty bed that looked as if it had once been quite
elegant, a trunk full of belongings at its foot, and a dusty old window, set
in the wall, so you could see into the next room.
Funny, a window indoors…?
And that room seemed to be awfully like the one
he was in.
Then it hit Shine. It was a mirror. Very elaborate
and covered in a thick layer of dust. There seemed to be a triangular piece
missing. Shine walked across the room, leaving paw prints on the floor. Then
he froze. Something had caught his eye. The Gelert in the mirror, or rather,
his refection, was not his at all.
Or was it…?
There was something strange about this house
that made all of Shine's thoughts swim lazily though his head, not going in
any particular direction. He walked to the mirror, thinking about examining
his reflection more closely. When he walked to it and sat down, he watched the
mirror carefully, and a very different Gelert mimicked his actions at the same
time he was performing them. The missing piece left a hole on the Gelert's heart.
It was as if his refection wasn't of him anymore.
He looked at his body, hoping his appearance hadn't changed. He was certainly
not at all like the Gelert in the mirror. When he looked back up at the strange
refection, all he saw was himself. The refection had returned to normal. He
tried to think, but his brain didn't seem to want to focus.
Had the mirror been trying to tell him something?
What had the mirror been trying to say? Concentrate.
Music was playing from somewhere. The park? Or
was it his imagination?
"Shine? Where are you? Shine come down, I'm worried!"
Though still lost in thought, Shine followed
the voice into the hall. That strange Gelert looked familiar, he thought, but
he had never seen any Gelert like that before. He would remember eyes like those.
Or did he know those eyes? He continued having musings like these until something
very painful brought him back to reality.
He had been thinking so hard that he forgot all
about the stairs, and that some of the stairs were missing planks. He slipped
through the widest hole; two stairs long, and fell into darkness. He landed
with a loud crash, and he was no long thinking of anything besides excruciating
amounts of pain coming from the direction of his tail.
"Shine!" yelled Supernova, panic in her voice.
"Shine, can you hear me?"
"Yes," moaned Shine, "Please get me out of here!"
"I'm trying, but there appears to be no way in."
"Great," mumbled Shine.
He looked around for a source of light, ignoring
the pain that made him flinch when he walked. But after about three steps, he
realized he couldn't do it. His fourth leg gave him pain when he tried to walk.
He had sprained his paw. It wasn't pretty to look at, and even less so to stand
on, so he let himself collapse on the floor.
"Are you hurt?" Supernova said after he moaned
and growled a couple times.
"No, I'm perfectly fine. I just fell through
the stairs, but don't bother worrying. All I need is a hug and a kiss and I'll
feel dandy," Shine retorted through clenched teeth. He put as much sarcasm into
his words as he could muster.
"What's wrong?" Supernova either ignored the
sarcasm or missed it.
"A sprained paw, I think, but I'm no doctor."
A low whistle cam from the other side of the
wall. "Don't move. I'll get you out."
"I kinda figured you would," said Shine, and
on his side of the wall, he grinned.
He lay down. He was guessing he was going to
pass out, by the shadows gathering at the corner of his eyes. He wondered how
could even tell, it was so dark in there. At least it was warm. That was his
last thought before he feinted.
By the sound of things, Shine had just passed
out. She was alone in the house. Well, not really, but she would be getting
no help from Shine.
Supernova wasn't any old Bluna, but her strength
was in thinking, not physical strength. So Supernova didn't really want to break
down the wall herself but think of a strong enough object to do it for her.
In the room there was only debris that littered
the floor. Stones that had fallen from the cavernous ceiling and planks that
were supposed to be in the stairs. There was what she had in her pack too, a
first-aid kit. That would come later. A flashlight, bug spray, rope - there!
Something she could use. Already there was a plan formulating in her mind.
She tied the rope to a small knob that was sticking
out of the wall and trailed it behind her as she glided to the door. She slid
it through the front door's handle to make a pulley. Pulleys were simple machines.
If you had a pulley, you would have to use less force to pull up what you wanted
than if you just pulled on you strength alone. Or in this case, pull a section
of wall out to free Shine.
She pulled. She had doubted that her strength
alone would be able to pluck a whole section of the wall out, and was surprised
when a rectangular area swung right open and revealed where Shine had fallen.
Wait - thought Supernova - Swung?
There had been a door there the whole time she
had thought it was a wall. She should have noticed it when she tied the rope
to the doorknob. She felt stupid. She also felt grateful that Shine had not
been conscious to see he performance.
She rushed into the room and found Shine lying
there, coated with dust. She picked up his two front paws and dragged him out
of the house. She could tend to his foot after she had gotten outside. She wanted
to get out as soon as she could. Something about that house gave her the creeps.
Shine awoke in the park on the grass under a
tree. He could see pretty much the entire park. What a beautiful place, he thought,
I wonder how a got here. But then he began to feel the pain in his back paw
again. The park suddenly looked a lot less beautiful.
Shine moaned, "Supernova?"
"Ah," said his Bluna, coming out from behind
the tree, "you're awake. Finally. Its nearly dawn, you know. I thought you weren't
going to wake up until tomorrow."
"I'm awake, and my head feels a lot clearer.
Something about that house made my brain…slow down…or something," he said. He
was remembering the music that he was certain now had come from his own head,
for now all was as silent as the grave.
"I agree," replied Supernova, nodding. She was
recalling when she had mistaken the door for a wall. "There was something strange
about that house."
"And the mirror."
"Sorry? What mirror?"
"Never mind." Shine didn't want to explain. For
the first time he was really able to think about the Gelert in the mirror. It
had a pale shade of teal for its fur color and was giving off an eerie light.
Its eyes were a bright, blood red. Other than that, it looked like it could
be him, but he couldn't be for sure. He hadn't seen it for long enough.
"I think," Shine said, cautiously, "you were
right. I think that house was haunted. Which means, well, you know where we've
got to go next."
"Really?" Supernova thought hard. "Where? My
mind's drawing blank."
"Pack your bags, Supernova, because as soon as
my legs healed we're going to the Haunted Woods!"
Supernova looked at him, a puzzled expression
in her eyes. "Shine, you know I'm already packed!"
To be continued...