"Hello, who is it?" Lisa's voice is a whisper. She doesn't know who's on the other side of the line. She's too afraid to ask, though. She has suspects, but chooses to let them slide, at least this time.
“Who is it?” She insists; then, she clears her throat, hoping whoever is there answers immediately.
“Lisa, it’s Dave from Accounting-”
“Who? Really? I… I haven’t heard of you in, like, ages. What’s the problem?” Questions pile up in Lisa’s mind, even though she can perceive the frustration in her interlocutor’s voice.
It’s obvious she and that Dave guy haven’t talked a lot at work, and it shows in this forced conversation.
“Lisa, the Order sent me a warning. I have to recruit forces to defeat the Evil. It’s urgent! I-”
Lisa cuts him off, laughing. "Stop it! You know, I’m not into this kind of jokes… Seriously? What’s the real matter?
“Lisa, I’m not joking. You and I are meant to be the ones who’ll defeat the Evil. The Order’s fate, as well as the world’s, depends on us. It’s a death or life matter. Either we fight or we die.” Dave’s voice becomes increasingly graver as he talks. Those mysterious forces of the Evil must be a huge threat to humanity.
For the first time since the conversation began, Lisa understands what “a death or life matter” means. She and that strange man from Accounting are supposed to be the Good. They’re supposed to protect life, but at what price? Do they even have a plan?
But, most importantly, do they know where their inner force lies?
The house is eerily quiet without the hustle and bustle of other voices.
Kiana finds herself sitting on the floor by the window, hands and knees drawn to her chest, watching the plants crawling along the walls breathe this way and that in an unseen breeze.
Maybe Lux is right.
Maybe this house is a monster.
It had been her home for so long, she’d never much thought about the space, never thought it capable of hurting anybody. But all the windows are pitch black, and none of the doors to the outside would open, and for all she knew, she was trapped in here, alone.
“House…” she says, her voice small, muffled, almost immediately swallowed by the fauna layering the walls. The wood between her feet shudders kindly in response, as if the house was telling her it had heard. “I’m sorry I never asked Wynn for your name.”
She leans her head back, closes her eyes.
Listens to the creaking of the wood, of water running somewhere far away, of the patter of something that wasn’t quite paws. The noises of the house. She wonders if Wynn knew how to listen, how to understand it. The boy had been so attached to this house.
But in the end, it’s Kiana who’s here.
Stuck. Trapped. Alone.
The walls around her are beginning to feel, quite dreadfully, like a cage.
“Hey!” Wynn roars, jamming his shoulder into the thick wooden door for the upteenth time. “Tell me what I did wrong! We can talk this out.”
It’s no use.
The house isn’t listening to him.
It had locked him up here, in this small wooden room with just one door, with no way out.
There is water going somewhere, dripping pat pat pat.
And then he hears a quiet snicker. Wynn looks over his shoulder to glare at Lux, who is now sitting at the piano stool, running his fingers lightly over the keys.
“Having a little lover’s spat?” His brother murmurs, for him to hear.
Wynn would like nothing more than to ram his fist into Lux’s face again, but they were already bruised up from their last tussle, and Wynn’s arm still throbbed from where Lux had twisted it behind his back.
“What is your issue?” Wynn snaps. “Are you even trying to help me out here?”
Lux doesn’t respond, his back to Wynn, which is just as well. Wynn’s patience has been well-tried already, and he’s beginning to reach his limits. There’s something in the air, some coyingly sweet scent, and it’s making his head heavy, making his thoughts jump and bounce around his skull like so many random sparks, his skin crawling with an unpleasant prickling that he couldn’t brush off. The air itself is hostile, and something just feels… wrong.
Wynn sinks down to his knees, putting a hand on the door.
“Arielldei, come on,” Wynn says, voice soft. “Tell me what’s wrong. You trust me, don’t you?”
For a few moments, he lets the words hang in the air.
He breathes in through his nose, and then out, though the scent stings his senses.
His nose throbs where his brother had kicked him, Wynn’s long coat pools around his ankles where he sits.
He strains his ears, listening.
The house is quiet, besides all of its usual noises, the air heavy with a quiet he’s beginning to find unnerving.
Suddenly, a high note pierces the air, and Wynn flinches, at the sound of the piano. And then more notes follow, in what seemed like erratic order.
He sighs. Of course his brother didn’t know how to play the piano.
Enough is enough.
Her heels click clack against the wooden floors as she crosses the space to the windows, reaching out with long, neon-painted nails.
Sometimes, the windows of the house don’t lead to the grass of the front lawn outside, she knows. Sometimes, they lead to spaces they aren’t supposed to. Like a hill out in Switzerland. Or an alleyway in Madras. You never knew. That’s just how the house works, and that’s why you don’t open the windows.
She tries the windows’ latches, which don’t budge. And then Kiana is ramming her fists into the metal latch, harder and harder.
“OPEN, you stupid, stupid, thing!” She hisses, angry tears prickling at her eyes. “I want out.”
Something slams into the window from the other side, with a loud bang that leaves the windows juddering, and she screeches. And then again, and again, BANG BANG BANG.
“What? What is it?” She screams, but it’s only her own reflection in the dark windows, glaring back at her, her eye-shadow smeared and her nose running. “You want me to rot in here?”
It’s quiet again.
She waits. A minute, maybe two.
Her reflection only stares back at her, and the wooden floors don’t tell her anything.
She turns, flipping her hair over her shoulder, picking out individual strands of her hair tangled in her tear-stained lashes with the tip of a long nail. “Fine. Okay. You do that. I’m going to go have dinner. Or breakfast-- or whatever, I don’t care. Food.”
Lux pauses, tired of torturing the poor piano (and Wynn’s ears), looking over his shoulder at his brother. Wynn sits with his back to the door, eyes glazed over, as if lost in thought. Lux is surprised Wynn had barely tried to get him to stop playing. He sighs, rubbing the back of his neck.
He isn’t quite as sensitive to these sorts of things like Wynn is. For Lux, this was just a matter of being trapped a few hours in the room. For Wynn… Lux gets up, and he walks over.
He sees Wynn immediately tense, but Lux just slides down the wall to kneel beside him.
“What are you doing?” Wynn asks, wary.
Wynn’s head is pounding, the sweet scent so thick in the air he isn’t sure he knew how to breathe. He closes his eyes, nursing his skull.
Lux shifts, Wynn doesn’t bother to see why. Lux fiddles with the doorknob a while.
Lux knows the house hates him. Sometimes, it did things like this just to give him a scare, though no one had really believed him, until things had boiled down to this point. He’d like to take pleasure in the misery of Wynn’s expression, but couldn’t quite manage it. The other boy’s face was hidden in his arms, his whole body seemingly twisted in pain. He didn’t know what Wynn was feeling, but apparently, it was nothing good.
And then, standing up, Lux swings the bottom of his boot into the doorknob. Wynn flinches, opening his eyes, shocked.
Lux gets in two more kicks before Wynn lunges to stop him.
“What are you doing?” Wynn hisses, standing between him and the door. “Don’t hurt the house!”
Lux attempts to shove him out of the way, and it ends in another tussle, a flurry of curses and Lux attempting to push past his brother and Wynn pushing back.
“–Hush! Do you hear that?” Lux asks, suddenly, and Wynn’s distracted enough that Lux pushes him away, spinning around to land another kick on the knob.
The door knob clatters to the ground, nails ripped from the wood. The walls give them a mournful, heart-wrenching sound, like metals grating on metal.
“Lux!” Wynn snaps, though as the door slowly swings open, he’s relieved enough that he could no longer summon the anger needed to deal with his brother.
“You’re welcome,” Lux says.
haha, no, but I’ll stop here lol