// WIDOWSHILD TOWNHOME //
Light is just seeping through the tiny windows of the master bedroom. In a bed, warring with the throes of boredom, is the Vampire Mandarc. Laying next to him is Friday Perkins, a Magic-user who’s just moved into the mysterious house.
She’s taken very little sleep the night prior.
She shifts around on the bed, trying to ignore the impending morning. She pulls the thick blankets around her neck and shoulders. They are warm and heavy, stifling, suffocating, but in a welcome way.
Sensing her stirring, he sits up in bed, feet hanging down over the side. He looks down at his hands, lost in thought.
From underneath the mass of blankets comes the muffled voice of his companion.
DID YOU SLEEP AT ALL LAST NIGHT?
NOT MUCH, NO.
Friday flails around unsuccessfully underneath the covers for a moment, then decides to sit up to match her bedfellow.
He looks at her without saying anything.
SHIT, YOU DON’T LOOK TIRED AT ALL.
HOW YOU FEEL?
I FEEL OKAY.
I DO FIND MYSELF AS ONE OF THOSE KINDS OF PEOPLE THAT DON’T NEED MUCH SLEEP.
YOU KNOW, ME EITHER.
And the pair laughs at the misfortune of having suffered at a nameless paradox. Why had they bothered to attempt the sleep ritual when neither was truly ready or willing?
Mandarc is thankful for the sound of her voice. In the dark light of the musty room, her eyes didn’t seem so strange at all.
Sometime after breakfast, the two are relaxing in the dining room. Friday has prepared herself some eggs. Dexx sniffs around the table legs, looking for leftovers.
YOU WANT ANY’FING?
She speaks with a mouth full of food.
I DON’T EAT EGGS.
I’M SURE WE CAN FIND SOMETHING ELSE FOR YOU TO EAT IF YOU’D LIKE.
LOOKS LIKE WE GOTTA RUN TO THE STORE SOMETIME HERE SOON.
THE PROFESSOR GETS MOST HIS FOOD DELIVERED.
HE HAS A CAR BUT DOESN’T LIKE TO DRIVE IT.
AND I, UNFORTUNATELY, DON’T DRIVE.
I CAN TALK TO HIM WHEN I GO UP THERE ABOUT THE NEXT FOOD DELIVERY.
YOU GOTTA GO?
YEAH, I’M ALREADY A LITTLE LATE AS FAR AS HE’S CONCERNED.
EARLY RISER, THAT ONE.
They sit in silence for a few moments. The only audible details are Dexx’s toenails on the floor and Friday’s chewing of toast.
WHAT D’YOU THINK YOU’LL GET INTO TODAY?
She raises her eyebrows in incredulous surrender.
I HAVE NO DAMN IDEA!
WELL, THE PROFESSOR WANTED TO GET YOU SET UP ON THE NET.
I JUST HAVE TO TALK TO HIM.
OR YOU CAN CALL HIM IF YOU LIKE.
I DON’T ACTUALLY HAVE HIS NUMBER…
NO MATTER. I’LL TALK TO HIM ABOUT IT TODAY.
HAVE HIM GIVE YOU A RING.
UNPACK YOUR BOOKS…SEE IF THE TV’S GOT ANYTHING GOOD ON…
WELL SHOOT I DON’T THINK WE GOT TO THE TV ROOM ON OUR TOUR.
YEAH THERE’S A TV ROOM.
ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE STAIRS FROM THE BEDROOM.
WANT ME TO SHOW YOU?
WELL, SURE, JUST IN CASE IT’S LOCKED.
I’M NOT EVEN SURE THE LOCKS WORK IN THE PLACE.
Finally, he’s able to drop the façade of bravado and relax as he strolls out of Widowshild. The sun is frustratingly bright and he has to hold up his hands to shield himself from its bothersome rays.
On this walk, the sun won’t kill him so long as he gets to the Master’s home shortly, but it sure does scintillate.
As the saying goes,
The Master will surely have noticed his failure to return home the evening prior.
// STRAUD MANSION //
He’s left the dog with a timid Friday Perkins. He peels open the front door of the mansion and steps inside. The house is warm, almost unseasonably so.
There is no noise with which to identify where the Master currently busies himself. He reaches out, quiets himself, and listens. But there is still no sound.
Is the Master abed?
Mandarc’s phone buzzes.
Welcome back, Mandarc.
Of course the Master knew he’d entered the home. It was his home after all.
The shame of embarrassment rises.
Good morning, Master.
I'm upstairs in the lounge.
The lounge is a small sitting room adjoining the Master’s suite. Getting into the room necessitates a walk through the first half of the Master’s spacious room. His fireplace is lit, crackling every-so-often with health.
When Mandarc steps through the door, the Master is seated in the far chair with a placid expression upon his face.
GOOD MORNING, MANDARC.
GOOD MORNING, MASTER.
Mandarc sits in the empty chair.
IT IS GOOD TO KNOW THAT YOU ARE SAFE.
WHEN YOU DID NOT RETURN HOME LAST NIGHT…
I WAS WITH FRIDAY PERKINS.
SEEING THAT SHE WAS SAFE.
I AM SORRY TO HEAR YOU FEARED FOR THE YOUNG WOMAN’S SAFETY.
I HAVE SPARED NO EXPENSE IN MAKING MY REALM IMPERVIOUS TO OUTSIDERS.
OH, I KNOW, MASTER.
BUT SHE WAS ANXIOUS AND I THOUGHT SHE’D HAVE TROUBLE SLEEPING.
Straud lifts a thin eyebrow.
SHE DIDN’T…SLEEP AT ALL, I DON’T THINK.
THAT DOES NOT SURPRISE ME, BEING MYRTLE’S DAUGHTER.
Mandarc does not think it wise to interrupt with a correction.
DID YOU HAVE A GOOD TIME?
Mandarc is taken aback by the simple question.
He almost simply parrots the question back but thinks better of it.
YEAH, I DID HAVE A GOOD TIME.
THAT IS GOOD. IT IS GOOD FOR YOU TO HAVE FRIENDS.
ALTHOUGH WE SHOULD ALWAYS BE CAREFUL IN WHO WE CHOOSE TO BE FRIENDS WITH.
I DO NOT INTEND TO TROUBLE YOU.
I ONLY WANT WHAT’S BEST FOR YOU.
I AM CURIOUS ABOUT THE GIRL’S LINEAGE. MAGIC-USERS COME IN A VARIETY OF PATTERNS AND COLORS BUT HER RED EYES ARE EXTREMELY UNUSUAL.
WHAT DO YOU MAKE OF THEM?
Mandarc’s mind goes blank, distracted by this morning’s moment of caught gazes with Friday.
THEY’RE…MORE CRIMSON THAN RED, REALLY.
AND THEY DON’T SEEM TO GLOW SO MUCH AS…
YES, ‘BLAZE’. THAT’S A GOOD TERM FOR IT.
BUT THEY DO NOT FRIGHTEN YOU?
Such a strange question, but the Master was not known to make idle conversation.
NO…I DON’T THINK HER EYES FRIGHTEN ME, NO.
THAT IS GOOD. VERY GOOD.
I SUPPOSE WITH ENOUGH TIME, ALL TRAITS TRICKLE DOWN THROUGH THE SIEVE.
THE MAGIC-USERS ARE NOT SO DIFFERENT FROM US.
THEIR HISTORY INEXORABLY TIED TO OURS.
HAVE YOU TOLD HER ABOUT YOURSELF?
WELL…NO, I HAVEN’T.
SHOULD I HAVE?
SHE DOESN’T SEEM TO KNOW ABOUT US.
MANY MAGIC-USERS HAVE NEVER MET A VAMPIRE.
VINCENT MARSCAPONE DID NOT MAKE HIS PRESENCE KNOWN IN THAT HOUSE THOUGH HE SLUMBERED AT THEIR FEET EACH AND EVERY DAY.
YEAH, THAT WAS THE THING.
SHE DID SEEM TO THINK HE WAS A VAMPIRE KILLER.
AND I TOLD HER –
YOU TOLD HER…WHAT?
I TOLD HER THAT YOU, TOO, HAD EARNED THE IRE OF MORE THAN A FEW VAMPIRES.
I APPRECIATE YOU BEING TRUTHFUL.
A pause in the discourse.
YOU’VE LEFT YOUR DOG WITH HER.
QUITE A LOT OF TRUST YOU’VE PLACED.
SHE WAS A LITTLE UNEASY. I THOUGHT DEXX COULD HELP TAKE THE LOAD OFF.
I AM SINCERELY REGRETFUL THAT SHE FINDS WIDOWSHILD…
OH, WHAT’S THE WORD.
THE SCHOOL OF MAGIC IS A GREAT DEAL ‘CREEPY’-ER THAN MY HOME.
AND WITHOUT MANY OF THE COMFORTS I’VE TRIED TO PROVIDE FOR MY GUESTS.
THERE IS SIMPLY NO ACCOUNTING FOR TASTE.
THAT REMINDS ME, SIR.
SHE’S LOOKING TO GET TO WORK.
WELL, YOU’LL HAVE TO TELL HER THAT I’M NOT READY FOR HER QUITE YET.
IT WOULD BE GOOD FOR HER TO TAKE A FEW DAYS OFF FROM HER HECTIC LIFESTYLE.
TELL HER TO IMMERSE HERSELF IN THE POOL.
I HAD POINTED HER IN THE DIRECTION OF THE TELEVISION…
THERE YOU HAVE IT.
THERE IS PLENTY FOR HER TO BUSY HERSELF WITH; I HAVEN’T YET THE TIME TO BUSY MYSELF WITH HER NEEDS.
PLEASE LET THE YOUNG LADY KNOW THAT I WILL CONTACT HER WHEN I AM READY.
UNTIL THEN, PLEASE ENCOURAGE HER TO PARTAKE OF ANY LEISURE THAT INTERESTS HER.
There is a break in the conversation and Mandarc awkwardly moves to take his leave.
OH, JUST – ONE MORE THING, MANDARC.
The Master speaks to the back of his head, beseeching him to turn around to face the voice.
DO PROMISE ME YOU WON’T GET IN TOO DEEP.
What arcane meaning lies behind such an innocent phrase?