It must have been quarter to twelve, midnight, when I was awoken from my sleep by the sound of maniacal laughing…it seemed to belong to a woman, possibly the young nurse that Gregory had introduced to me earlier that day.
Although feeling somewhat woozy with sleep, I staggered over to the door and cautiously peeked through the keyhole.
There wasn't much to see other than the darkened corridor, but I could still hear Catherine laughing…and for one moment, I could of sworn that I heard screaming; yet it eventually died down, along with Catherine's laugh.
This made me feel rather uneasy, although all of this could have been brought on by the weird dinner that the Chef had made for me and Gregory…but nevertheless, I quickly scurried back to bed.
I was rather surprised to see that the commotion hadn't woken my dear husband at all…which led me to believe that either he was a very heavy sleeper or this sort of thing happened on a regular basis.
Laying in bed somewhat cautiously, I couldn't help but imagine what sort of things had occurred that night…images of the nurse using some medical tools on some poor soul unfortunate enough to cross her, ran through my head…I tossed and turned, trying my best to get back to a peaceful sleep, yet after that experience that proved to be rather difficult.
I must of eventually fallen asleep however, because Gregory was the one to wake me next morning.
" Are you alright, my dear? You look a little rough" he asked me, a look of concern reflected in those deep purple eyes of his.
" I…" I began, thinking of the event from the night before, those blood-curdling screams and Catherine laughing, they still hadn't left my mind…but oh how I wish they did.
" I had a bad dream" I finally responded, unable to tell my own husband what I'd really heard last night…I could of tried to tell him the truth, but for some reason I just couldn't bring myself too.
Gregory just stared at me for a while, as if doubting my answer…had I given myself away that easily?
Yet he then sighed and shook his head.
" Well a bad dream is just a bad dream, Victoria…it's not like they can actually hurt you"
I merely rubbed my arm, averting my eyes from him slightly.
Of course bad dreams couldn't hurt me…but if those things were real then they could do whatever they pleased!
Eventually I looked back to him and gave a small smile.
" Of course"
Gregory smiled back to me, then turned to jump out of bed.
" Come on, we'd better get to the dining room…the chef will be dishing up breakfast and he'll be rather angry if we're not down there to eat it!"
" He'd get mad if we weren't there to eat his food?" I couldn't help but chuckle lightly.
" Now that's a chef who loves his cooking a wee bit too much!"
Yet Gregory didn't laugh at that however, his expression stayed serious as he put his clothes on.
" He's just very sensitive, he's been like that since he was small"
I looked surprised at that.
" You've known him since he was small?"
Gregory nodded in response to my question.
" Before he was old enough to work here, he used to watch how his parents cooked…they were former residents here at the house" Gregory then looked at his watch and grimaced.
" But enough chit-chat, we have to get down there now!"
Before I could even pull on some fresh clothes, Gregory lightly pushed me along so in the end, I had no other option other than going down the stairs with him, and along to the dining room.
In no time at all, we found ourselves in the big dining room with all the chandeliers lit, the long table was lined with meals for everyone that lived in the house and standing at the side of the room was the chef, his eyes watching everyone in the room like a hawk.
I felt extremely uncomfortable as I sat in my chair, mostly because of the fact that everyone turned to look at me sitting there in my nightgown, naturally I felt rather embarrassed but it seemed that I had no need to worry as they all went back to eating their breakfast…obviously it was the presence of the chef that saved my modesty there.
Once the feeling of being ashamed for my being under-dressed in public subsided, I began to make a start at eating the meal that we'd all been given.
It was a rather exquisite meal to say the least, there were sausages, baguettes and scrambled eggs with bacon.
It smelled delicious and looked delicious, much much better than the supper that we'd been served last night…of course I couldn't say that out loud to the chef.
But the real question was, did this freshly cooked meal actually taste delicious.
I hesitated at little at first, hovering my fork warily over the plate, my expression a picture of indecisiveness as I inwardly discussed what to do next in my mind.
It was then that I felt a pair of eyes fixing themselves onto me so severely, that it could of burnt a hole through me.
Looking up from my plate, I saw the chef standing there looking at me, his eyes not even blinking as he stared at me, he then looked down at my plate for a moment, then back up at me.
Eventually I gulped audibly and began to eat the meal rather quickly, unable to deal with those eyes looking at me anymore.
The chef, once he saw that I was eating merely gave a satisfied grunt and walked away, obviously moving along to make sure that someone else would eat their dinner.
As I ate the surprisingly delicious meal, I glanced around the table looking at some of the other people who had joined us for breakfast, they certainly seemed to be an interesting mixture of people.
There was a young couple ( obviously just married, like myself and my husband) sitting on the opposite side of us, they seemed to be looking a tad on the pale side…of course I was putting it down to the lighting in the room which came from the wide chandelier that was hanging overhead.
Another thing I noticed was that the woman was taller than the man, she seemed to have a sleek bodyline while the man was much more stocky-looking.
Yet just by looking at them, they couldn't of possibly been feeling very well, the dark rings under the eyes was another giveaway, that and the man occasionally coughed in-between mouthfuls.
I would of asked them if they were feeling alright but decided not to, for fear of being scolded by the chef for talking rather than eating.
Another casual look around the table revealed more of the house's residents.
A rather distinguished looking gentleman sat at the end of the table, closest to Madame Nezumi.
He had a moustache, oddly coloured eyes and brown hair swept up into a pony-tail.
Not a word came from his mouth as he silently chewed on a bit of steak, there was just silence.
Although I longed to ask Gregory who that man was, I thought it best to just wait it out throughout breakfast, that way I'd be able to speak freely without being told off.
And of course, there next to this gentleman was Madam Nezumi, her dark piercing gaze was aimed right at me…why on earth was she still looking angry?
Was it because when me and Gregory went on our honeymoon, we didn't take her with her?
Was it because we did what most newly-weds do when they get married and had a bit of time to ourselves?
I said not one word at that point, but I made sure to send her an equally dark scowl across the table.
I was beginning to think that she was jealous or something…did she have some kind of son complex?
Finally, after what seemed like an eternity of waiting, breakfast was finally over and everyone went their separate ways in the house.
Madame Nezumi had rather hastily made her way out of the dining room as soon as possible, not that I minded one bit of course.
At last, I was able to ask Gregory about the rather silent gentleman.
" Gregory…may I ask you something, do you know who the moustached man at the table was?"
" Hmm? Oh…well he's one of the live-in residents at the house, he's lived here since I was a small boy" Gregory explained.
" His parents used to run the clock shop that's based in this very house"
As Gregory told me about the family, we both began to walk along the corridor of the mansion, I was deeply enthralled in the tale he was telling me, every little thing that had ever happened, every detail…although his face soon darkened.
" However…then came the time when the shop was passed down to him at a very early stage, something that he wasn't even prepared for…"
Gregory didn't have to tell me what could of possibly happened there, I could imagine what kind of thing had happened in order for the young man to take over his parents business.
Even though I had no words for a response, it would seem that just doing a nod of my head was enough for my husband to continue with the tale.
" In a desperate attempt to live up to his parents faith in him, he took up learning all about time and how it was always fleeting; yet as time went on, he began wishing for a way to make time stop, go forwards or even go backwards; he wanted to control the flow of time with his own bare hands…and that was when his studies in time went a little too far"
" A little too far?" I asked with a quizzical look upon my face.
" Wh-what do you mean?"
At that moment, Gregory went quiet as the man we'd been talking about, came walking up the corridor ( having exited the dining room before we did to go somewhere) in the opposite direction, he turned to look at us and gave a nodding gesture as if to say hello, before carrying on his way.
As he passed us, I could of sworn that I heard the sound of clockwork coming from within his body; it was a rather surreal moment that made me double-take before looking forward once more.
I don't think that I wanted to know just how much he'd gotten into his obsession with time…but Gregory just let out a sigh.
" In fact my dear, you could say that he's now become the house's main clock…he always knows what time it is and never misses out at dinner-time"
" Wait! So you're saying he's an actual living, breathing clock?" I spluttered, my eyes wide with horror.
Sure me, my husband and his mother were anthropomorphic mice, the house nurse; a pink lizard and the chef, a walking candle…but I'd never expected there to be other living objects walking around.
" Well…" Gregory said as he started his reply, a bead of sweat ran down the side of his face…was he nervous about something?
" You have quite an imagination!" he insisted and waved his hand dismissively.
" A walking clock…" he began chuckling although it sounded forced and rather awkward.
' You don't know how right you are…'
I just looked at him with a doubtful expression, although he soon noticed that and took my hand gently.
" Come now, my dear…let's not dwell on such a subject, to think of such bizarre things all the time can't be good for the soul, shall we go for a walk in the garden? Maybe you just need some fresh air" he suggested with a soft smile…although I couldn't help but shiver slightly when he added in a slighter quieter voice.
" Afterall, if a rose doesn't get enough air…then it is quick to wither"
But in the end, I ignored that rather odd statement by him and just let him lead me outside…for once, I was actually glad to be going outside; I hadn't noticed it at first…but something just wasn't right with this house.
Little did I know how right I was at the time…