First story published on the first of the month -- April! Yay! And ... double digits! Anyone else excited? I am! First story with chapters that have double digits! Please enjoy.
3/21/10 - 3/29/10 (published/uploaded on 4/1/10)
Disclaimer: I do not own Rose Red, its concept, its ideas, its logos nor its characters. They belong to Stephen King. I own Emily, though. She's my own little creation (modeled after me, of course, as are most of my characters).
This chapter was written partially while listening to "Half Acre" by Hem. Up to the domino part.
What the? On the " ... leaving the plate on the counter" part, I had put, "leaving the plate on the shelter." What the?! Seriously?! Where did that ... ? Did that come from me since I'm watching Survivor Man?
This only took two days to write, since I paused in writing it and just never got back around to it. I stopped the first day at "Yes, well, that's true." PLEASE ENJOY! LONGEST CHAPTER EVER, at least so far, I think .. I believe ...!
After I had left the Breakfast Room, I made it back to the Parlor where Nick and Joyce were. They were conversing as I entered. Their murmuring made no sense to me, so I ignored it and took my place on one of the couches. The fire had died out, so only black ashes and burnt logs remained. It was very cold in the room.
I pulled my legs onto the couch and hugged my knees to my chest. I didn't want to think about Pam or Ellen. I just wanted peace. Closing my eyes, I felt drowsy. It seemed that it took too much energy to do anything anymore. My first day here and I was already a murderer. That thought made me sick.
"How long have you been awake?"
I turned my head over to the sound, opening my eyes partially. Joyce raised an eyebrow, seemingly impatient.
" ... I'm not sure."
" .... I didn't look at the clock."
" .... I was afraid that if I looked out over the bed, I would see the boogeyman."
She stared at me, a slight smile on her face. "There's no such things."
"Sure there is. Ask Annie."
"Wha .. ?"
As she began her question, the brunette girl appeared in the doorway. She clung to her doll, staring blankly at us. She looked down when Nick greeted her, a smile on her lips. Joyce glanced at me. She wasn't going to ask.
"Annie," I said quietly. She looked up at me. "It was a boogeyman, wasn't it?"
Annie was quiet, turning her eyes to the ceiling. She sighed as if she had gone through this before. "Oogey lady, 'mly."
"Oog ... " Joyce looked at me. "How did you ... ?"
I shrugged loosely, hiding my face against my knees. "Shouldn't you know? You're psychic after all ... "
I heard a soft laugh and a grunt. "I'm not psychic."
"Oh, that's right ... you had us come because you're disabled ... " I sighed heavily, staring across the room towards the dark fireplace. " ... you can't do it yourself, so why not pay people to do it for you?"
I felt her heated glare on me, but I ignored it. I felt like my brother, being sarcastic and mean. Though he could be rude at times ... most of the time, actually, he could be quite nice. If he wanted to. Which was ... never. It wasn't his fault. He was just naturally critical. He was that way with me as well. They shouldn't take it so personally.
"Mmm ... mmmm ... " Annie struggled, gaining everyone's attention. "Mm ... mly ... is ... is f-fraid of oogey-lady too?"
I turned my eyes to her, staring. She seemed to understand things I did not. I somewhat envied the autistic teen. "Mly is afraid."
The girl stared at me for a while before turning her eyes to her doll. " .... Sister is asleep."
I watched as she began to pet her doll's yarn hair. Do you want to go outside? wanted to.
I smiled, standing. "Come on, Annie. Let's go." I walked over to her and took her hand. As she crossed out of the room, she glanced back.
Nick gave a short wave and watched us disappear into the hallway. I heard him mutter something as we crossed down the Entry Hall towards the Grand Stairs. Down the Kitchen Hall, to the Kitchen and then to the door leading to the Solarium.
I pushed open the white door and stared at the lovely arrangements of plants that were coming to life. Yesterday everything was dead. Now flowers were blooming and leaves were bright green. As the sun poured into the dirty and streaked windows, I could see that it wasn't simply energy Rose Red was feeding off of. It was love. Annie's love. It brought back the plants. A simple task to do for the grand house.
As the girl walked down into the room, her shoes padding on the tile, I noticed she had another doll. One tucked under her arm that I hadn't seen earlier. Adam. And April. She took her place sitting in the center of the aisle and stared at the plants. I smiled and turned my eyes down. Little sister ....
When I looked up, a box of dominoes was sitting next to her. She popped off the tin lid and began to splay out the cream-colored rectangles. Ellen must have thought she was a bit like a daughter as well. Her own version of a living April. Annie set up the blocks in a circle, spiraling around and around. I stepped into the room, feeling the warmth from the sun prickle my skin.
The girl did not pay attention to me as she set up the dominoes, but instead began to hum softly. I tilted my head to the side and watched her. A sudden chill ran up my spine and I shuddered. Was it cold in here? No. The sun was bright and warm. I glanced back towards the kitchen. It was coming from there. I stepped back through the doorway and into the kitchen. I glanced around the room until I saw what I assumed to be the culprit. It wasn't an opened fridge or anything. It was a door partially opened. I hesitated before crossing over to the wall.
The door had been disguised as the wall and was now pushed open. I stared into the dark room, a cold air surrounding me. I hugged my arms to myself as I stepped inside, being swallowed up by the cool. the cement walls and cobwebs weren't the creepiest things of this place. And it wasn't the racks of wine either. It was the soft humming of air and the pounding of feet above the room.
I turned my face up to the ceiling and listened in silence. Bump. Bump. Bump. It wasn't an air conditioner nor the occupants of our group (at least that of which was remaining). It was something else. No .. it was someone else. I turned my eyes back down to the bottle of wine. The cool air made the dust clinging to the glass jump and bounce around. I shuddered again, getting the feeling of déjà vu. Had I been here before? No, of course not. I'd never seen this place before .. This largest privately-owned wine cellar .. That's what it was. A wine cellar. Most likely John's, as it was filled with wine and not champagne, which is most favored by women.
Closing my eyes and exhaling sharply, I felt gooseflesh prickle the skin on my arm. I hated this feeling, but I also hated listening to Ellen. But I had ... and what for? Why? I had killed Pam, and she was probably one of the nicest people here.
I turned my eyes to the ground and felt tears roll down my cheek. I wasn't crying for Pam. Or for Ellen. Or John, or April, or Adam. Not even for Annie or Steve. I was crying for me. I had been duped and I let it happen. And I wasn't going to stop myself, or Ellen. I was going to let her get what she wanted ....
Hearing the soft footsteps coming from the hall, I opened my eyes. I quickly wiped my eyes and face with the back of my wrist and stepped out of the room, retracing my steps to the Solarium to watch Annie. As the steps got closer, they also got louder, and reminded me of the ones I had heard in the wine cellar. Another chill ran up my spine. Hugging my arms, I stood at the door that led into the Health Room in silence.
"Good Morning, Emily."
I glanced back, "Good Morning, Nick." We were acting like we hadn't met in the Breakfast Room earlier.
He smiled a bit, crossing from the hall over to the door. He stared inside.
"Good Morning, Annie."
The girl looked up and smiled. She then covered her face with her hands and looked down. I was a bit jealous. Not because he had spoken to her, but because she was shy. I wanted to be shy. I wanted to act like that. Sighing, I watched the girl as she set up more dominoes in the circle.
I felt a hand slide over my shoulder. I glanced over to see Nick staring at me. "You're feeling all right?"
"Yes. Why wouldn't I?"
"You seemed kind of upset this morning."
I turned my eyes back to the girl. "I seemed fine."
The man was silent. I could feel him staring at me, so I turned my head towards him. "If you wish to ask me something, Mr. Hardaway, please do so. This is quite a compromising position, should one of the others come in."
He smiled in his British way and dropped his arm to his side. "I apologize, Miss Waterman. I didn't mean to act unbecoming." Though teasing, I knew he was making fun of me. I looked back into the Solarium.
"Aren't you cold?"
I smiled to myself. Shrugging, I began, "I don't know ... just wondering. It was cold this morning."
Nick was silent, thinking this over. "Well, I'm going to make breakfast. Would you like anything?"
"I'm not hungry."
I heard a murmuring chuckle. "Of course you aren't." He walked back to the counter and stove and I heard the clanging of pots. Or pans ... I glanced over behind me towards him. Pans. I watched as he prepared eggs. My sacred enemy. I didn't like them. They tasted funny and had the texture of rubber. Suddenly he looked over at me. I stared for a while before turning back to the Solarium. I felt my face heat up.
Yes. I would have Ellen take him. I would have her make him mine. Perhaps it was a bit selfish, but ...
I looked over to see he was motioning to the wine cellar.
"I don't know."
"Did you open it?"
" ... did Annie open it?"
"It was opened when you came in here?"
"Hm .. " He turned to glance at me before staring at the hidden door.
"You don't believe me."
"No, that's not it. Just strange ... it'd just be opened ... "
I shrugged again. "Everything that's happened here so far is strange."
He laughed softly. "Yes, well, that's true."
I turned back to the Solarium door and watched Annie as she hugged onto her doll, murmuring softly to herself. As the stove started with a whoosh, I heard the cracking of egg shells. Nick said nothing while cooking, leaving me to my thoughts. Perhaps it was not me that killed Pam. Perhaps it was not Ellen. Perhaps it was Emery. I would rather have had him do it than I.
The smell of eggs filled the room, making my stomach churn. Just before I could step into the Solarium, I heard footsteps. I didn't look over as I was too exhausted to, but the step pattern seemed familiar. The person entered the room through the Kitchen Hall, muttering to themselves.
"Is that Annie?" They asked. I recognized the voice immediately. Steve.
"Annie it is," Nick replied.
I tried not to pay attention as they conversed. But finally curiosity got the best of me and I turned my head slightly, listening. From the corner of my eye, I could see Steve walk over to the wine cellar.
"No ... " Steve began, glancing back towards Nick.
"It was open when I came down."
The younger man stepped into the wine cellar, glancing around. I tried not to listen, but something pulled towards me to.
"Well, listen," the two fell silent.
"You hear a lot of that?"
"Only enough to worry me."
I felt a shuddering chill run up my spine. The hammering and sawing .. I had heard it too. Along with footsteps, that of which did not belong to the group. I snapped out of my daydream as the two exited the cellar and walked back to the counter. Steve wrapped a white towel around the top of the bottle and pulled the cork out. Nick took the bottle and poured himself a cup of what I assumed to be champagne.
Steve declined the drink, to which the other shrugged and sipped from his cup. What went better with eggs than champagne? I inhaled the scent of the Health Room, glancing over to the autistic girl playing with dominoes, and walked over to the counter. I pulled myself onto it, placing my hands in my lap.
The young man picked up the cell phone on the counter and began to dial a number. I was silent as he took the bottle of champagne and, wrapping his hand around the neck, tipped it back and drank from it. Setting the bottle down, he began to leave a message. One which made me a bit worried, considering he ended it with, "He slit his wrists and wrote your name in his own blood before dying ... "
Finishing the threatening message, he closed the cell phone and turned to Nick, handing him the phone. "If he calls back, will you talk to him?"
"It'll be a pleasure."
Despite his tone, I suspected that the man was joking. Steve slid off of the counter and I pulled myself over to where he had been as he leaned against the edge.
The white-blond turned his eyes to me, smiling a bit. He held up his cup.
"Drinking is bad for you."
His smile widened. "Not in moderation."
"I suppose next you'll say that it's okay to smoke pot, as long as it's 'in moderation'."
He laughed a bit, shrugging again. He placed the rim of the plastic cup to his lips and sipped the bubbling liquid. "It's not bad if you're not caught."
"It's only illegal if someone finds out, right?" I added, more of a statement than a question. The man raised an eyebrow.
"If you say so."
Steve glanced at me, "Annie's awake?"
"I suppose she would be the type to never sleep," I began, sighing. "Not that it's because she's autistic."
"Hmm ... " He glanced over to the Solarium door. He didn't say anything as he left the counter and walked over to the door, stepping down into the room. "Good morning, Annie," I heard him say. I imagined her to stop in her humming, looking up from her dominoes and covering her eyes with her hands. She must have, for Steve said again, "Good morning, Annie."
I turned back to Nick as he finished his eggs, leaving the plate on the counter. He turned back to me, studying my face for a moment. I turned towards the door, but I felt a hand pull my face back. I stared into the man's bright blue eyes as he tilted his face to the side.
"Are you sure you're not hungry?"
I smiled, pulling back. "Yes, I am sure."
He stared at me still, raising an eyebrow. What do you want? His thoughts penetrated my mind, giving me gooseflesh. I smiled sweetly, leaning in slightly. I spoke in a low voice, trying to make sure that Steve did not hear me, but that Nick did, and understood.