Part 2

(This section has bad language and hints at violence. It also makes reference to homosexual relationships and mental illness and has somewhat disturbing themes. Since this is meant to be a horror story I suggest you proceed with caution or skip it altogether if you are not big into the horror genre (also there may be graphic gay sex later in the story I don’t know yet). I am easily scared myself so for those of you who love horror this story might not be that scary. I actually have several pieces already written but it is quite lengthy.)

Dak’kon plugged his cellphone into the charger and although he had not yet ascertained the time he felt awake enough to declare it morning. ‘There has to be a working clock around here somewhere.’ He thought wondering the halls, discreetly disoriented by the meandering floor plan. The outside of the house had been deceptively nondescript, inside there were doors that did not open (even after testing all the keys on his chain) and rooms that appeared warped and without purpose. All the clocks he found were missing their hands. How would he ever transform this novelty house into a passable family home? Did he even want to transform it? Perhaps it would be better just to repair the damage and turn the place into a museum, though he understood too little of the content to define this place in terms of tourist attraction.

Eventually Dak’kon found his way to the kitchen. He’d seen Xyven at the reading of the will, though they had exchanged little in the way of conversation. The chef was somewhere in his 30s though Dak’kon could not ascribe any age with absolute certainty. Xyven was only fractionally taller than himself coming in at about 6’4 but he was broader across the chest and more heavily muscled. The man’s physique didn’t quite mesh with his current occupation but it did suit his former occupation, inmate at Windmoor Correctional Facility. An occupation that potentially explained the scars running the entire length of the chef’s left arm. Dak’kon didn’t know the details of the man’s former transgressions and he didn’t care all that much either. He was a man of second chances why shouldn’t he give Xyven the benefit of the doubt?

“I didn’t expect to see you here…” Dak’kon said from the doorway and though he had approached very quietly Xyven looked up completely nonplussed. “I’m not much of a morning person…” The man stated without inflection. Dak’kon entered the room, taking note of the microwave clock, 9:45. “I’ve finished with breakfast once I am done with lunch and dinner I’ll be leaving unless, that is, you need me for some reason outside of my job description.” The chef handed Dak’kon a plate of food fried potatoes, sausage, eggs over easy, and sliced oranges. Dak’kon took a seat at a small table by the window. Even the windows in the kitchen had been painted over.

“I have some questions. I am not sure if you are the man to talk to but you’re the only one here.” Dak’kon said acknowledging his hunger for the first time. The food was a lot more normal than he’d been expecting, though if anyone would have probed him he would have been unable to define his expectations precisely. He was definitely not disappointed with the food though.

“It’s a convenience thing I get it. What kind of questions?” Xyven asked turning away from the stove long enough to give the new owner a once over. The chef’s eyes were such a light shade of brown as to appear yellow in the halo of florescence beneath which he now stood. His jaw was solid and square. His hands large enough to hold a human skull comfortably. His thick brown hair was mussed and cut short.

“There are some locked doors, any idea where I could find the keys?” Dak’kon asked cutting the food on his plate into bite-size pieces. Now that it was right in front of him he was starving.

“Those doors don’t have keys.” Xyven answered stirring the contents of a simmering pot conscientiously. Something in his tone suggested that he thought everything about the house ridiculous, perhaps not just the house but everything in general.

“Why is that?” Dak’kon asked. This was an altogether new experience for him and there was something kind of uncomfortable about watching the man work while he ate alone.

“The obvious answer is that your grandfather didn’t want anyone or anything getting in or out of those rooms. Now I have nothing against the old man he gave me a job when no one else would but he was strange. He stayed out of my business and I tried to stay out of his but you see things when working for someone. Some of it you overlook. Some of it strikes you. Anything I could say about the man is mostly conjecture we weren’t exactly what you’d call friends but I got the impression that he was into the occult.” Xyven answered. Sitting the wooden spoon to the side he replaced the lid on the pot.

“The occult huh?” Dak’kon wasn’t all that surprised considering his own upbringing. His mother had been superstitious and in that respect old-fashioned. He’d grown up listening to her prattle on about supernatural phenomena and the significance of dreams. Her reliance on folk remedies had contributed heavily in the delay of cancer treatment, a decision that, had admittedly, led to some resentment on his end. Nevertheless, he still felt strongly that each person had a right to live their life according to their own beliefs. She hadn’t judged him for his more scientific view so why should he judge her? Especially now that she was dead and beyond influence. “I can buy that. Does this house have any secret passages? Dak’kon asked given the strange layout of the house it didn’t seem all that far-fetched. There was of course something entertaining about the prospect, something that appealed to his playful side.

“Sure it does…” Xyven answered, leaning back against the counter now that his attention was not so constricted. “But I’ll leave those for you to find.”

“Another question then. Are you the only one still working here?” Dak’kon asked turning his attention temporarily away from his breakfast. He felt it necessary to confirm the man’s response through both word and expression.

“Have you seen someone else?” Xyven asked and for the first time he appeared engaged in the conversation. It seemed to Dak’kon then that the chef had someone particular in mind but that he would not be the first to divulge the identity of said person.

“A young guy, red hair, really green eyes. Ring any bells?” Dak’kon asked it was silly, he knew, to inquire about a man he’d only seen in his dreams. He wasn’t even sure why he’d posed the question, maybe it had to do with the powerful impression the dream had left upon him. It was rare for him to have a lucid dream and rarer still for him to have such a genuinely interesting and perplexing one. It seemed his mother was still capable of influencing him.

“There was a guy like that once, Nikolai. Pretty fucked up heh but he went missing. If you’ve seen him you might want to report it to the police his disappearance is kind of a thing around here and it would take some heat off my back.” Xyven answered. Dak’kon couldn’t help but notice the smile that passed over the man’s lips when he said “fucked up”. That smile could imply a lot of things mockery, malice, even a certain brand of affection.

“I take it you’re a suspect in his disappearance then?” Dak’kon asked and though he favored the chef with his attention he did not favor the man with much in the way of suspicion.

“A suspect yeah I am not exactly on good terms with the police on account of my record but I am not the culprit. He probably just ran off somewhere, chasing ghosts maybe, who the hell knows.” Xyven grinned, it was apparent that he didn’t think Nikolai’s disappearance a big deal. Whether that was because he believed the other man safe or because he simply didn’t care Dak’kon could not determine. The only impression he had that remained constant was that Xyven was a predator. Not all predators were deranged mad men of course, but it was a possibility he couldn’t afford to rule out.

“What was his job?” The dream hadn’t given any hint as to the green-eyed man’s occupation. Based on the dream alone he knew very little of Nikolai and what he had seen couldn’t have been real.

“I think he was the gardener. Thing is I didn’t care so much about what he was doing for the old man. Your an observant guy Dak’kon. probably unnecessarily so and possibly to your detriment so I’ll be strait with you and settle your suspicions. We were fucking. He was the good kind of slut. The loyal kind. The kind that doesn’t expect anything. When I think back on it I was probably a little careless with him but for me it was only about sex. I think he got that, at least he never brought up anything about our relationship. But guys like that they get obsessed or else they fall in love and that is more trouble than it’s worth. I don’t think he left because I hurt him though. He was pretty resilient when it came to pain ha. I think he left on account of his Schizophrenia. He had it in his head that this place was haunted said there was something wrong with the mirrors. He talked a lot about demons, all nonsense of course.” Xyven said it was pretty clear where the man stood on supernatural phenomena and it was a position Dak’kon largely shared.

“Did he have family? Friends? Anyone to return to?” Dak’kon asked though why he was invested in a stranger’s business he could not say.

“No one that I know of but he survived on his own before he got here. My guess is he either pulled his shit together or he got white-coated but you say you’ve seen him skulking about. Maybe he is still living here hauled up in the walls. I’d watch your back.” Xyven’s laughter implied something but what exactly it implied Dak’kon couldn’t work out. There was the possibility he found the situation funny, a mentally ill man living incognito in the hollows of another man’s life. There was also the possibility that Xyven liked the prospect of violence. He did have a distinctly sadistic vibe. It even occurred to Dak’kon that Nikolai might not be half as crazy as the other suggested, but that he suggested it simply to discredit someone he had mistreated. At this point everything was speculation, Dak’kon could not even be certain that he’d seen Nikolai at all.

“So do you have any more questions?” Xyven asked turning back to the stove he cut off the burners. “And can I leave after I am finished here or do you want me to see if I can fish out that little creep for you?”

Although Dak’kon had returned to eating in the course of Xyven’s long-winded explanation he was still listening very intently. “Let him stay. As for your other question you can leave when you’re finished here.” Though Dak’kon wasn’t much of a philanthropist (maybe he was he’d never had anything to give away until now) he felt it somehow wrong to kick out a potentially mentally ill man in the dead of winter.

“Don’t tell me you are one of those types who feels guilty for their good fortune?” Xyven rolled his eyes and though Dak’kon was not facing the man anymore the action was implied in the other’s tone.

“It has nothing to do with guilt…” Dak’kon stated after a considerable pause. The truth was simpler and much less noble. Nikolai lived here and there was no immediate need to kick him out. Dak’kon realized, of course, that there was an obvious error in his logic. He was assuming that the man from his dreams was Nikolai and that that man was somewhere inside the house. He hadn’t confirmed these assumptions and yet intuition told him it was so.

“You have a casual disregard for your own safety. I like that in a man.” Xyven said taking a seat at the table across from Dak’kon.

“Is that some kind of threat?” Dak’kon asked not even bothering to look up from his plate. He had made promising headway in his breakfast but he wasn’t yet finished. The fact that he was not intimidated by Xyven only added credence to the other man’s claims.

“Not so much a threat as an observation. You are prepared to stay out here in the middle of nowhere with an ex con and a lunatic that can mean only one of two things. You are suicidal or you are one cocky, careless son-of-a-bitch.” Xyven’s expression of humor dissolved, at least partially, the implication of a threat.

“Ha…” Dak’kon laughed dryly.

“I am banking on the second…does that cockiness come from narcissism or personal resource?” Xyven’s tone suggested that the question was rhetorical but Dak’kon sensed that within it there also lay a challenge of some kind. It seemed to him then that the chef was playing some sort of game and although he could not discern the purpose he suddenly found that he’d lost interest in the man altogether. He never answered the question.

After breakfast Dak’kon began to feel unwell. He found himself unable to concentrate though only moments before he’d conducted, a more or less, coherent conversation. Next came a wave of dizziness and a loss of proprioception. It felt as if he had been swept out of his body by some kind of tide and despite his best attempts he could not regain that lost sense of connection. As he’d just come across the library he thought he might take a pause on the sofa but on the way over he lost consciousness. He didn’t even have time to brace himself before collapsing into an undignified heap.

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