// WIDOWSHILD TOWNHOME //
“Finally”, the young woman thought to herself.
She was thankful that Christmas was finally over. Not that she’d bothered to put up a tree this year or given a single gift.
But it was finally over.
JUST SO YOU KNOW,
I HAVE TO BE AT THE BOSSMAN’S BIG PARTY TONIGHT.
OH, HE THROWS A BIG PARTY?
YEAH, EVERY YEAR.
FIGURES HE WOULD, HOUSE LIKE THAT.
She wanted to go, but how?
MAYBE NOW WOULD BE A GOOD TIME TO TALK TO HIM.
ABOUT YOUR WORK?
I DON’T KNOW. HE’S ALWAYS SO BUSY WITH ENTERTAINING, IT WILL PROBABLY BE HARD TO CATCH HIM EDGEWISE.
SO YOU’RE SAYING I’M NOT ALLOWED TO GO.
“NOT ALLOWED” IS A STRONG TERM.
I JUST DON’T THINK YOU’D HAVE A VERY GOOD TIME.
BUNCHA OLD FOGIES.
SO WHAT BUSINESS DO YOU HAVE THERE?
I’M HIS ASSISTANT, I HAVE NO CHOICE.
There is little opposition that she can front to this.
I’M JUST PISSED HE HASN’T GIVEN ME A REAL ASSIGNMENT YET.
Mandarc tries his hand at diplomacy.
IT’S BEEN A BUSY SEASON FOR HIM.
WINTERTIME IS A BIG TIME FOR GIVING.
HE’LL GET TO YOU.
WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO?
JUST SIT ON MY HANDS?
HE’S PAYING YOU RETAINER.
WHAT’S THE PROBLEM?
THE PROBLEM IS THAT I DON’T HAVE A DAMN THING TO DO!
RELAX? TAKE A LOAD OFF?
She takes this opportunity to mock him.
“TAKE A LOAD OFF”?
EASY FOR YOU TO SAY.
The words sting a little more than she intends.
ANYWAY, I WON’T STAY FOR THE WHOLE PARTY.
JUST LONG ENOUGH TO GET THE WHOLE THING SITUATED.
She feels compelled to cross her arms in a show of defiance, but she tries to resist the urge, lest she appear uncooperative.
She leans forward to plant a kiss on his cheek.
I’LL MISS YOU, THOUGH.
I’LL MISS YOU, TOO.
For a month and a half, Miss Friday Perkins has been twiddling her thumbs while at residence at the Widowshild Townhome in Jamaica Estates. At first it was a welcome change from her existence, always scraping to get by. But as the weeks have ticked on, she’s become paranoid that she’ll never be assigned a task. She did best playing second fiddle.
What else beside a job did she have to hide behind?
An invisibility potion.
Thankfully she’d mixed it up a while ago and hid it amongst her things. Waiting for her until she needed it.
After Mandarc has left the home, she runs upstairs to rifle through one of her still-packed boxes. She pulls out a small vial of clear crystal containing a pristine colorless liquid. A scrawl of a note on the label states “Sungrass, Ghost Mushroom…” and she’s sure it confirms that she has the correct item.
She runs back downstairs and steps out on the patio where just the outline of Mandarc’s back can be seen through the dim light. She closes the door, waiting for his reaction to the sound.
He keeps walking.
She uncorks and downs the potion and it tastes a bit like stale coffee but smells like fish oil. Her hands begin to fade, her feet too. Alas, she’s forgotten – the potion, unlike an incantation, doesn’t work on the clothes.
She hastily disrobes, leaving her clothes in the sideyard, and runs after Mandarc before he disappears entirely from sight.
The pavement is hard and scratchy upon her naked feet. The odd pebble painfully pokes into her delicate skin and threatens to force her to call out in pain. But she silences the urge and continues to run.
Mandarc’s entered a small square wherein is contained a statue of a thin, severe man.
It all together seemed a decent likeness except the ears.
The ears were far too large.
Mandarc picks up a stray pebble from one of the statue’s empty levels. He tosses it at the foot of the statue but misses. He does it again. He suddenly looks around behind him, causing Friday to duck in avoidance, however useless the gesture was in light of her invisibility potion.
Restoring himself from looking over his shoulders, he turns his attention back to the statue. He picks up another rock and tosses it, though this time it hits its mark and Mandarc suddenly disappears.
Now here was something she might be able to wrap her mind around.
With a repeat of Mandarc’s gestures, Friday is able to replicate the trigger mechanic, transporting her to a curiously similar-looking statue. She’s still invisible and as she looks around the square, she sees Mandarc walking toward the mansion on the hill.
The Professor’s mansion.
She’s not completely sure where she’s been transported as save Mandarc’s disappearing silhouette, the plane seems the same as the one she left.
A number of theories flash through her consciousness, but in her haste to keep up with her quarry, she must put them out of mind and continue.
The old man lived at the top of a winding hill and Mandarc was making a rapid pace.
At the top of the hill, Mandarc has knocked on the door. It is answered by Vladislaus Straud, who answers the door, but only opens it wide enough to permit his slim form to show through.
I’M SORRY, MASTER.
I WAS HELD UP.
COME INSIDE. IT’S DREADFUL OUT HERE.
With hardly any warning, Mandarc slips in through the cracked door, leaving the invisible woman standing awkwardly on the front stoop.
Knowing none can see her, she cringes in frustration.
How else was she going to get inside?
She hones in, trying to perfect a thought, when she is suddenly cognizant of some flying thing coming in for a landing just to one side of her head.
(thinking) No, it’s not…
But it is.
She backs out of the way on impulse when suddenly in a cloud of wet smoke materializes a shapeshifter. The wisps disappear to reveal a tall, handsome man with thick, dark hair and intense turquoise eyes.
The man steps forward to knock on the door. Friday remains close, intent to steal away inside the large door at the first opportunity.
YOU OLD STIFF.
HOW ARE YOU?
GOOD TO SEE YOU, OLD MAN.
Straud steps forward to embrace Sebastian, giving Friday an entrance into the house. She carefully hops over Straud’s foot and enters the warmth of the house itself.
Inside are a number of unfamiliar faces chattering and making friendly conversation. She looks down at herself, still invisible.
The speech of Straud and his most recent guest becomes a bit more clear as they reenter the house after a short conversation.
…BUT I DON’T THINK SHE’LL BE MAKING IT THIS YEAR.
SHE HAD SOME OTHER PARTY SHE FELT IT NECESSARY TO ATTEND.
WHAT ABOUT JUDE AND CHARLOTTE?
JUDE AND CHARLOTTE SHOULD BE ALONG AT SOME POINT TONIGHT.
THEY’RE ALWAYS LATE.
NOW THAT’S NOT TRUE.
THEY MADE IT IN GOOD TIME LAST YEAR.
The heavy door closes, sending a blast of chilled air into the house. Friday shivers and tries desperately to keep her teeth from chattering.
She is grasping her arms, trying to defrost, when she hears Mandarc’s distinctive voice ringing above the crowd. She can’t make out the words exactly, but she’d recognize that sound anywhere.
She follows the voice into the sitting room and finds Mandarc talking with Cedric & Kevin.
Kevin?! What was he doing here? Just how small was the world going to get?
Kevin looks old and ragged, sallowed beneath the eyes. He holds in his hands a small lightly fuzzy lavender fruit. While the others are speaking, he bites into it, juice soon dripping down the corners of his mouth. He removes a black handkerchief from his breast pocket and dabs at his chin.
YOU PLAYED THE NEW WARFRONT?
I HATE WARFRONTS.
THEY’RE JUST GIMPED BATTLEGROUNDS.
SUCH A WASTE OF MY FUCKING TIME.
Kevin continues to clean his lips, leaving no stain upon his face.
I DON’T KNOW, IT’S NOT SO BAD.
THEY MAKE MORE STORY SENSE THAN A BATTLEGROUND.
Friday feels a tingling sensation in her toes and knows it’s not from the frostbite.
The potion is starting to wear off.
She looks back toward the door, variables starting to crowd together in her mind.
Locked in a party of shapeshifters –
‘Polymorph Self’ was simply fantasy.
This is a house of vampires.
(thinking) Get me the fuck outta here!
She walks back toward the door as quickly as she can, looking down to spy a rogue toenail beginning to turn opaque.
The sound of knocking upon the door can be heard, and Mandarc speaks up, laying claim to the answering.
When he opens the door, she rushes outside, inadvertently brushing his side and pushing him off-balance.
SORRY ABOUT THAT, MUST BE THE WIND.
But Friday can’t hear him; she’s already run out of the house and toward the home where lays her pile of abandoned clothing.