Story16 Jan 2009 11:31 pm
Posted by Grasshopper on January 16th, 2009 filed in Story
1 Comment »

“Of course dear sister, after your fit last time I decided to stock up on some peanut butter as well.” Rook tickled her sides forcing her to squirm like a fish out of water. Rowen swatted at his hands and glared as mean as she could through the unavoidable giggles.

She punched him in the chest, “If you don’t stop I’m gonna rip your heart out and eat that for supper, that sound fine by you?”

Her brother took the blow and stumbled back out of her doorway as if it had actually caused harm, gripping his chest and breathing raggedly, “Is that to be the way of it then? Cut down by my own sister in cold blood?” Unable to keep the amusement from his face, he turned around and sauntered down the hall, “Do be a dear and don’t take too long unpacking, I must finish my supper before it gets too much colder and I’d love some company.”

About fifteen minutes later they were seated around a long dining table that looked and felt like ages had washed over it, and that many more ages would come before it fell to the decay of time. The chairs though seemed a ragged assortment of chairs varying in comfort, design, and stability. The first one Charlie had tested almost caved in under his weight and he jumped up so quick he hit his knee into the underside of the table and stumbled backward a bit. Luckily his bowl of stew didn’t go flying off in some odd direction, though that would have only increased the feeling of schadenfreude Rowen had while watching him.

“Do take care not to hurt that pretty little tail else you might have to go to bed before story time.” She grinned openly at Charlie and offering the seat on the right side of her, “This one doesn’t seem near so rickety.” Charlie gave her a mock glare through a beet red face before picking up his bowl and settling down next to her. There was a small silence as each of them shoveled food into their mouths, the two siblings almost mirroring each other in the vigorous virtually non stop devouring of stew, and Charlie savoring each bite as Rook seemed to be a rather well versed cook.

Finally, deciding to get to know his roomie’s brother better Charlie broke the silence, which was more theoretical then literal as the rain and wind lashing against the house continued raging. “So what sort of thesis does a Quantum Physics slash Paranormal Studies major work on out here in the country?”

Rowan choked slightly on a spoonful of food, she had already tried to explain it to Charlie once and she highly doubted he’d get any more clear an answer as she could give. “Ah, you’ve upset my sister asking such a question. She might go choking to death now.” Rook smiled his crooked half-smile and put a spoonful of stew into his mouth, chewing thoughtfully for a moment.

“You know the previous owner of this house was a nice old lady, I met her just before her children sold me this place. She was a suffragette throughout the twentieth century, just like her mother before her. Moved out here to die she did, but in the end her kids would have none of letting her live her life laissez-faire. They came and brought her to live with them and take care of her, claimed she was getting senile and needed care.” He spooned another mouthful and continued eating, ending his sentence as if that was the end of the explanation.

Charlie was completely bewildered, definitely a strange man. Might as well get him to continue the story as there was obviously more. He noticed that Rowen’s eyes were sparkling with wonderment and anticipation. The girl was like a kid sometimes. Smiling and shaking his head he prompted Rook for more, “So the kids sold you there mom’s favorite property. She didn’t appreciate that much, did she?”

“On the contrary, the old bat was fine with selling the place so long as she got to speak to the new owner and give her blessing. Which in the end was more or less a request to keep her ghost tracking gear operating. There’s a room upstairs that was locked when I initially bought the place, apparently she had the key. Anyway, there’re charts and graphs filled with all sorts of data she’s gathered over the years, and notes on how she’s interpreted the tangents and osculations of said data. A few funky machines meant to pick up paranormal activity and such.” He smiled, “Do you believe in ghosts Charlie?”

“No, why would I?”

“No particular reason, I was just curious. I figure, anything is possible. So I’m here writing a thesis based on proving paranormal activity through quantum theory. Except by the time the alarm wakes me in the morning, I’m usually distracted by exploring the land about here.” Stifling a yawn he reached across the table to take his sister’s bowl, but she smacked his hand with her spoon causing him to withdraw with a yelp.

“I’ll be doing the dishes tonight, after all you made supper.” She smiled wearily at him, the stew was having its effect of filling the tummy and putting one to sleep. Though it was probably the trip out that really had exhausted her.

Rook grinned broadly at her, “Sure Rowen, if you can stand up on your own.”

Story16 Jan 2009 07:34 pm
Posted by Jodotha on January 16th, 2009 filed in Story
1 Comment »

After the fork, it didn’t take too much longer down the road – which fortunately went along without offering any further rights or lefts – to get to a single drive, with a single mailbox, and a single camp light, swinging in good faith to show them the way.

Rowen turned to her roommate and grinned.  She was excited, and not just because the way ahead promised a meal and a bunk for the night, but because it promised her brother, and that oft-sought after feeling of contentment she experienced when she was home – Home, of course, being wherever her brother was, not a building.

Her roommate chuckled quietly, Rowen’s happy and infallible excitement catching.

“Here, here, here!” she practically sang as he pressed the brake peddle and shifted the car into park.  He nodded unnecessarily, a thoroughly bemused expression on his face as she fairly leapt out of the vehicle.  At the same time, the door to the small and slightly out of shape manor burst open and a man strode forth and captured her in his arms with a giant bear hug.  Even without the greeting, one would have assumed he was her brother, due to the shared trait of shiny copper hair which was glinting in the light that spilled out from the open doorway.

“Oh my God, Rook!” Rowen practically squealed as he released her from his hug, “I can’t believe you paid money for this dump!” She grinned, a bright glint in her eyes and Rook laughed, easily seeing the curiosity and anticipation practically radiating from his sister.  She didn’t fool him for a minute – she loved it.

Another car door slammed, and Rowen almost jumped. “Oh geez,” she mumbled with a slight cringe – she’d all but forgotten her roommate.  The sound of muttered malediction was rapidly followed by the sound of boots squelching through mud.  A Californian at heart, this was almost virgin territory for him – her roommate was not used to this kind of weather.  She hurried to his side as he opened the trunk of the car to retrieve their luggage, feeling somewhat guilty.  Rook followed languidly over, showing no notice for the howling wind and rain that whipped over him and through the flimsy excuse for a coat he was wearing.

“Rook, this is Charlie,” Rowen said, almost proudly, “my roommate.”  Charlie paused good-naturedly in his current task to grasp Rook’s hand and shake.

“Hey,” Charlie said.

“Hey,” Rook said.

Rowen rolled her eyes. Well, at least one wasn’t trying to interrogate the other, right?  Men.

Formalities over, the two men grabbed the few suitcases – each much heavier than it should be, in their unspoken yet mutual opinion, and Rowen shut the door to the trunk.  They clambered up the three steps, and Charlie let out a quiet sigh of relief when Rowen closed the door behind them as they stepped inside, shutting out the almost wintry chill.  He was drenched already, and they’d only been exposed to the elements for a few minutes.

Rook heard his sigh and grinned in his direction.  “Lovely weather we’re having, yeah?”

Charlie blinked for a second, looking for any trace of sarcasm in Rook’s face.  There wasn’t any.  Unusual, Rowen had said.  Huh.  Charlie shrugged his shoulders in response, favoring ambiguity over agreement in this case.  It didn’t matter; Rook had already matched pace with his sister.

“So, did you have any trouble finding the place?” He asked her, leading her up a set of stairs.

Rowen smiled.  “Course not, thanks to your cheeky note.”

Rook paused on a step and thought.  “What note?”

She sighed, moving up the steps ahead of him.  “You’re hilarious. The note you left me.”

Rook shrugged and followed her.  “I didn’t leave any notes.”

His sister kept climbing the stairs, choosing to ignore the comment.  Sometimes her brother could have an odd sense of humour, and being here, almost alone, probably wasn’t helping.  They reached the landing and she glanced at him sidelong.  “So…how’s the thesis coming?”

“That’s not funny,” Rook responded with a half-smile.

“That’s what I thought,” Rowen answered with a knowing smile, tinted with amusement.  They proceeded down the hall, and Rowen forgot to keep up the banter for a moment.  The hall was faced with wood, making it darker than it otherwise would have been, and the wind and rain on the roof only added to the atmosphere. She’d been here before, but the combined elements of the weather and knowing she would actually be staying here, this time for more than a single night, added a sense of romantic eeriness to the air that transformed the manor completely in her mind.  Rowen’s fingers were practically tingling with the desire to open each door and inspect each pane of wood.

Charlie caught up with her and nudged her slightly with his elbow.  “Just like the movies,” he muttered with a grin, momentarily breaking the spell Rowen had found herself under.

She smiled back, “Sure, if you like that sort of thing.”

They’d stopped at a room near the end of the corridor.  Rook gestured grandly.  “Your room, my dear,” he said with a lopsided grin.  Rowen chuckled and went inside, Charlie following with her suitcase. It was small, but large enough to house a full bed – thankfully – and a dresser.  There was a window, too, and outside a tree loomed.  It looked very much like every scary shadow tree ever seen in any bad dream.  Its tangled branches even scraped across the window, making a tinny sort of sound, like someone was throwing bottle caps at the glass.  Rowen loved it.

“And for the gentleman,” Rook continued, a hint of emphasis on the word ‘gentleman,’ “The suite across the hall.”
Charlie lifted a brow in Rowen’s direction, noting her brother’s foretold unusual behavior with an amused smile, and left her suitcase to check out his own accommodations.

Guests settled securely in their respective quarters, Rook grinned, enjoying his playacting.  “Dinner will be served promptly…whenever you make it yourselves.”

Rowen laughed and gave her brother a good-natured shove.  “I hope you have more than chocolate pudding cups in your fridge this time.”

Story15 Jan 2009 07:31 pm
Posted by crows on January 15th, 2009 filed in Story
1 Comment »

Gazing down the long corridor of trees that sheltered the road just barely from the driving rain, Rowen squirmed in her seat and curled into the cold door of the car. The struggle to get comfortable she knew to be vain even as she craned her neck up to look at her roommate.

“If you need a break from driving, I’m not going to be able to get any sleep.”

“I’m good for now,” he said. His voice bore the same hesitation she felt to stop in the hideous weather that had kept them from so much as getting out to stretch their legs for the last 60 miles or so of the trip out to Rook’s remote property. Hitting the air for the frantic Chinese fire drill to switch drivers had resulted, last time, in her knee deep in the slippery mud, straining at the bumper to make sure they’d be able to get the car out of the slurry.

“Ok,” she responded lazily after few moments of wheel-churning silence. “We’re not far out anyway, I don’t think. You’ve never met my brother, have you?”

“Not so far.”

“He’s a good guy.”

“So I hear.”

“…different,” Rowen said with a little bit of an irrepressible smile.

“So I hear,” he repeated, laughing. “So are you.”

“I guess I just come from an unusual family.”

Turning to narrow her eyes at the darkness that blurred by through the rain running down the passenger side window, Rowen tried to read out some glimpse of ancestral history in the wood and storm beyond. Despite not having grown up here, she and her brother had always felt a deep attachment to the Celtic terrain well-footed by her hereditary predecessors. She’d been outspokenly supportive of her brother’s otherwise lunatic decision to purchase land with the last clutch of change in his graduate-student pockets and move out here. Nobody else saw it coming, and while Rook hadn’t discussed it with her prior to, and he called her up in his offhand way to tell her he was moving across the Atlantic with as much cavalier dismissal as one might remark that they were going to stroll down to the market for a pint of milk after work so don’t hold up supper on their account. Despite the lack of warning, she’d smiled knowingly into the phone, feeling as though she’d been aware of his plan all along.

You’ll come and visit me, won’t you Ro?” she remembered him saying, a rare and private flash of vulnerability in his voice.

Of course, you ridiculous ass.”

The pair of siblings, just 14 months apart in age with Rook being the senior member of the duo, had never lived very far apart, but any sting said separation would have brought to Rowen was mitigated by the simple sensation of ‘rightness’.

“Watch it!” Her hands struck the dashboard seconds before the vehicle lurched as the car swerved in the protesting mud to avoid a white flash of road sign. Having flickered out of nowhere like some kind of ghostly flame in the deluge, it marked an even fork in the road that Rowen remembered only dimly from the one other time she’d been out to Rook’s house.

She and her roommate sat breathing hard in the vehicle for a moment, both startled from the trance of the long drive by the sudden stop. The growling idle of the engine mingled with the tinny percussion of rain striking the roof and body of the car.

“So,” he began, clearing his throat. “Which way?”

“Fuck,” Rowen hissed, leaning over the dash to peer this way and that out of the windshield. “I’m pretty sure we need to go right.”

“Pretty sure?”

The old sign was worn beyond legibility, but she doubted it had said ‘ROOK’S PAD THAT WAY →’ to begin with. Nonetheless, she squinted at it, and caught sight in the darkness of a flickering shape that swung from the sign, helpless to the gusts of the wind.

“Wait, there’s something out there.” Rowen unbuckled her seatbelt and huddled against the bite of the rain as she jogged up to the sign. The flapping object was a plastic zipper bag with paper folded inside of it, marked in black magic marker with the letter ‘R’ and duct-taped to the sign. Wrenching it off, she crowded herself back into the passenger seat of the sedan and tore into the bag.

‘Dear R,

Take the left fork. I know you feel like you should take the right fork, but take the left one. See you soon.

Love,

R.’

“What is it?”

“A note from my brother. Take a left.”

Project Information15 Jan 2009 03:54 am
Posted by crows on January 15th, 2009 filed in Project Information
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