Chapter 7 – A new home, again

Raymond began the short trek through the woods back to his house. He passed the villagers playing in the deeper end of the water and headed toward the trees. The texture of the ground changed from the village blend of soft grass and hard rock to mud with dead leaves that crunched under his boots. After a few steps into the woods he could already see a corner of his new house through the trees. He could not figure out what it was made out of, but it was very dark. When he emerged past the trees into his back yard he saw the whole house.

It was still nothing more than a rectangle, but much wider this time and not as tall. It appeared to lack a second floor. From the back there was nothing but a plain very dark brick wall with nothing but a small window. It looked awful. It had no etchings, designs or protrusions at all. It was just a nearly black straight rectangle with a single window near the middle of it. Raymond should have known better than to let a mysterious man completely replace his house. Perhaps the front side would look better.

He walked around it to get to the front and saw two small windows on the side wall, but again nothing else. He decided to walk out into the road before turning around to see the front. Could it be just as bad as the rest of the house? Raymond stood in the middle of the pebbled dirt path then turned around.

No. It was worse.

It was identical to the back side, but instead of a window it had a door. It was a very nice door though, a bright wood with engravings in it and a huge glass ball window near the top. However, it contrasted the ugly flat dark wall so much that it just looked bad. Nicodemus was nowhere in sight, but Rose and Brownie were standing right at the door. Raymond looked at the sky before approaching them. Not only was the sun going down, but another storm cloud seemed to be on its way. However, the evening sky reminded him that Nicodemus built this house in less than a day. An amazing feat even if it is ugly.

How did the mysterious man build it that fast anyway? Raymond thought it may have been built to support a functional interior, but then he realized the sparing use of windows suggested otherwise. Either way, Rose would likely explain everything to him, she smiled when he looked at her. Her cheeks looked slightly tear stained, must have been an emotional day. Hopefully she would tell him what business she had with Brownie earlier.

“Come over here Ray,” Rose beckoned. “Check out your new house.”

“I really don’t know what to say about this except,” Raymond was about to complain but then he felt something strange, “oh wait a second.”

Raymond paused. It felt as if a thought had just been inserted into his mind. It was a message from Nicodemus.

“He’s not done yet.” Raymond continued, “I think he just told me.”

“Yeah, he did.” Rose explained, “He had to leave, but he wanted you to know since he’s actually quite an artistic architect.”

“So he’s reading my mind right now?” asked Raymond.

“Well, sort of,” she responded.

“How am I supposed to get used to something like that?” Raymond ranted, “I mean there’s things going on in my head that I’d rather him not see or hear or… whatever you do with minds.
“Read?
“No, that’s what he’s doing.
“Unless I ‘read’ my own mind when I think.
“Anyway, the fact that I am trying not to think about private or bad thoughts makes me actually think about them!
“Now I keep coming up with other things I shouldn’t think about!”

“Don’t panic.” Rose chuckled, “he’s very respectful with his abilities and probably only read the part of your mind that let him know when you got to the house.
“Also he reminds everyone that he understands the unpleasantries that go through people’s heads all the time.
“And that he used to be worse about those thoughts himself than most people are now.”

The storm cloud drew nearer. It was very dark, very large and had a dense rainfall shown underneath it. It covered up the sun and almost every distinguishable shadow in the neighborhood disappeared into a constant overcast light level. The green grass and trees contrasted the bricks on Raymond’s house almost as much as the door, but in this case it looked much nicer to Raymond. Raymond disliked sun glare and always preferred overcast weather. In his opinion it made everything look better, even his new disgrace of a house. Raymond’s focus returned to Rose.

“So how come through all of my life you never told me about this man? and better yet,” Raymond pointed to Brownie, “how come you never told me about her?”

“I really don’t know.” Rose thought for a moment, “for some reason I just really didn’t want to.”

“So what’s this about you adopting Brownie?”

“Ha, that’s not her name.” Rose smiled, “its just a pet name the gals at the academy gave her.”

“‘Gals’?” Raymond cringed. He despised that word.

“Anyway, yes I did adopt her today.” Rose grinned, “now she has a real name!”

“Wait a second,” Raymond peered over Rose’s shoulder and looked at Brownie, “Brownie, you didn’t have a real name?”

“It’s Blaire,” Rose interrupted, “her name is Blaire Everest now.”

“She didn’t have a real name?” Raymond looked back at Rose.

“Um, no.” Rose paused, “no, she did not.”

She ducked her head for a moment, but quickly snapped it back up.

“Anyway, I’ve got to get back now.” She said while she glanced at the sky, “see you kids later!”

She then brushed past Raymond’s shoulder, which came as a cold shock because her clothes were still damp, and headed down the road. She left in such a hurry that Raymond stood there dumbfounded for a moment before trying to get her attention.

“Hold on!” He yelled, “What?
“What? ‘you kids,’ what?
“And you just adopted this Brow.. I mean, uh Blaire!
“You aren’t taking her with you?”

Either Rose had gotten too far or she just chose to ignore him, but she continued walking away and did not respond. However, Raymond looked up to the sky and noticed the dark rain cloud had engulfed almost everything in her path. She was going to get rained on again on her way back. Serves her right.

“So Blaire,” started Raymond, “where do you live?
“You need to get back there quick before the rain gets here again.”

“I don’t live anywhere.” She replied.

“What?” Raymond acted surprised. “How is that possible?”

“I’ll leave, thanks for letting me stay.”

“Leave where? Where are you going to go?”

Blaire did not respond, but she did not leave either. The neighborhood filled with silence aside from a gust of wind. Sprinkles of rain began to fall on Raymond’s head.

“Listen, for some reason I actually already had a feeling earlier that you had no home.” Raymond broke the silence, “I was going to offer to top half of my duplex to you until you found one.
“However, I don’t think this new house works that way anymore.”

Blaire gave Raymond a brief smile, but still said nothing. Unlike most shy people, she did not bow her head or look away. She just stared at him.

“Well let’s go look around inside and find out.” Raymond pointed to door with his thumb.

“OK.” She responded.

Reluctantly, he opened the door and entered the ugly house. The interior was extremely dark, but that was to be expected as he had seen only three small windows from the outside of the house. He looked down saw very nice treated wood floor that complemented the door nicely and helped alleviate the contrast it had with the brick walls. Perhaps there was some merit to this monstrous structure. The young man looked forward and just barely saw the edge of a small round wooden table opposite of the door in front of the window. Raymond proceeded farther then realized that the small amount of light he was seeing traveled only between the door’s glass ball and the one window in the back of the house. The rest of the interior was black with darkness. The already darkened evening sky curtained by a dense storm cloud did not provide sufficient light through such small windows.

From what he could see, the room contained nothing but the table, and a few chairs. As he walked forward from the door way, he slid his left hand across the wall, but only a few steps in he ran into an outward corner and the wall ended. The bottom of the wall, however, was still shown continuing forward by the little bit of light coming through the window. He lowered his hand until he touched the top of it and found out the wall continued less than half height. It was some sort of divide, possibly meant to separate two rooms without taking them completely out of physical reach.

“Come on, lets see if we can find some candles.” Raymond beckoned Blaire.

They felt their way across the divide until they came to an end near the back of the house and went around it. They kept walking until they hit a wall then followed it back toward the front of the house. When they hit another wall Raymond noticed the front door was no longer visible so they must have ventured into a room. They split up so they could feel around for boxes any sort of furniture that might hold candles. Raymond felt nothing but an empty room until he touched a cold metal bar on the wall. He pulled on it and suddenly ice cold rain came splashing down on him soaking his clothes and hair. He jumped out of the way, running into Blaire in the process.

“What did you do?” She asked.

“I don’t know, I think I opened the ceiling!” Raymond looked up and did not see the sky, “well except there’s no light getting in, so that can’t be it.
“I’m going to try to get around it to see if I can make it stop.”

Raymond pressed his back against the wall and strafed back to the metal bar. He pushed it back up and the water stopped. Aside from the sound of dripping and the rain outdoors patting the roof, the room became silent. They continued to feel around the walls and floor for a little bit before they heard a gurgle and a snort. There must have been a wild boar in the room with them!

“Out!” Raymond screamed, “get back into the light!”

Blaire ran in front of him and they both somehow managed to get back around the divide back to the dimly lit table without tripping or running into anything. They stood in the light for a while panting.

“Do you have a knife or something with you?” asked Raymond.

“Not today.” She answered.

“OK we really need to find a candle now!
“Keep watch while I check the other side of the house.”

Raymond turned, but then the gurgle sounded again. He jumped and stared into the blackness where he heard the beast. Then he glanced over and his eyes met with Blaire’s.

“Keep watch.” He repeated.

“Wait, I think it may be behind this other room over here.” Blaire mentioned.

“What room?”

“I felt a door when we hit the wall at the back of the house.”

“Oh, that must be the room with the two windows I saw from outside.” Raymond remembered, “We should be able to see inside it then.”

They approached the door and Blaire carefully cracked the door open and peered in, but quickly slammed it shut.

“I saw it!” She whispered loudly, “it was laying in the middle of the room!”

<< Chapter 6 | Ch. 8 Pt. 1 >>

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