The Dark Mansion

The Dark Mansion

Status: Finished

Genre: Horror

Houses:

Details

Status: Finished

Genre: Horror

Houses:

Summary

Couple Ken Speedman and his girl Alice are stranded in the middle of nowhere on dark and stormy night and take shelter in a dark mansion. They encounter a strange family and Ken will be in for the night of his life.
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Summary

Couple Ken Speedman and his girl Alice are stranded in the middle of nowhere on dark and stormy night and take shelter in a dark mansion. They encounter a strange family and Ken will be in for the night of his life.

Content

Submitted: April 24, 2017

A A A | A A A

Content

Submitted: April 24, 2017

A A A

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The Old Dark Mansion

 

by Matthew Bissonnette

 

 

 

 

 

“Just admit your lost Ken,” Alice finally said sounding somewhat upset.

That dark, summer's evening was turbulent. As I drove my small compact car down a dirt road in some god forsaken corner of Alabama, the towering trees of the dense woods on either side of the road swayed violently in the merciless wind as rain fell from the sky like a deluge and bluish lighting filled the sky with periodic bursts of light as the ominous sound of thunder echoed throughout the land. But as I drove then I did not know of what unimaginable horror awaited I and Alice.

Why was I on that road that evening?

I had met Alice the previous year in a coffee shop in the small Canadian town in which I lived. I, Ken Speedman, was a somewhat ordinary man in most respects, a somewhat bookish young man with neatly combed auburn hair who usually dressed conservatively, button up shirts and dress pants; I had a dead end job at some hardware store but that was only meant to pay the bills until I sold my first novel. One autumn's morning I was sitting in the local coffee shop; writing on a lap top computer. Then she walked in. That Canadian town from which I hailed was boringly ordinary, yet in Alice walked; dressed in a dark jacket, dark skirt, dark stalkings and boots; she had pail skin and shoulder length raven hair with a streak of white in it. I couldn't help staring at her, for one I thought she was something out of the ordinary of that conformist town; two I thought she was beautiful. She sat at the table beside me and I talked to her; I quickly learned that she had a somewhat morbid bent and liked to talk about things which where either bleak or depressing. I asked her out suddenly and she agreed; later when we where in love she told me she did not like that I was a buttoned down conformist but she did like that I was an aspiring writer. Sometimes opposites really do attract. I in my button up shirts and boring pants and she always in a black dress or black skirt. Then a year later she asked me to take her to New Orleans; she said she wanted to see if it was true that practitioners of voodoo really did haunt the French Quarter. But in Alabama I decided to take the scenic route. That was how we ended up on that road during that stormy night, unaware of the unusual events awaited us.

I looked away from the road then turned to her and grinned. “I would say I'm lost, but my male pride won't let me admit defeat.”

As I drove, rain splattering against the windshield of my car, I started regretting leaving the interstate. The road I was on was getting narrower and from the fact it had been over an half an hour since I had last seen a car I realized that I was in a no man's land.

I looked at Alice beside me and smiled. “I know you like things that are a little twisted. Know what would be scary, if the car broke down and we ran into some cannibalistic mountain men.”

She looked at me and was frowning. “Ken, that is kind of insensitive.”

I looked back to the road and replied, “sorry, I did not mean to insult the people of Alabama by thinking there are cannibalistic mountain men in this areas.”

She giggled. “Statistically, most cannibals are from large urban areas, not the rural parts.”

I briefly laughed. “Alice, I know some of our fellow towns people when then get to know you think that you are a little on the dark side. But I can appreciate that you are kind of different from everyone, you know, kind of like a black swan who stands out amongst a group of boring ducks.”

She put her arm around mine and rested her head on my shoulder. “Well, this black swan is glad that she ended up with one of the boring ducks.”

I drove in silence for awhile, though occasionally a flash of lightning would bombard the darkened landscape with a surreal light and the silence would be interrupted by the occasional crash of thunder.

Then Alice said suddenly, “so when are you going to work up the nerve to ask me if I want to marry you Ken?”

I took my eyes off the road and looked at her. “How did you know I've been trying to work up the nerve to ask the black swan if she wants to get hitched with the boring duck?”

“You talk in your sleep Ken.”

My eyes where still on the road when I then asked, “does the black swan want to marry the boring duck?”

Her head still on my shoulder, she softly replied, “well, first I have to introduce you to my parents and get their approval.”

“OK, I know you have not talked about them, but I want-”

I was interrupted when there was the sound of a loud pop, and I I looked at the road and tried to steer the driving wheel because the car was out of control. Then the car went off the road and into a ditch, the car came to an abrupt stop and both airbags deployed with a deafening bang. I and Alice, in our seats and our faces pressed into the large inflatable airbags where silent for a few moments.

Then I, wedged between the airbag and my seat, said, “Technically, that was your fault Alice.”

Alice, also whose face was pressed into the airbag, muttered, “why is this my fault Ken?”

“If the black swan had told the boring duck about the boring duck trying to work up the nerve to ask the swan to marry him when he was not driving, then the swan and the duck would not be in the ditch in some god forsaken corner of Alabama during a storm.”

After a moment of silence, we both simultaneously laughed.

 

Ten minutes later, I was outside my small car and using the jack I had in the trunk and was turning it with a tire iron as I lifted the back section of the car, kneeling as I worked and drenched by the merciless rain. Alice was standing on the road, holding a black umbrella which shielded her from the rain. She looked at me as I turned the jack with the tire iron.

Then I said, “well, I glad that statistically your more likely to run into cannibals in the city.”

Alice giggled again. I stopped and looked at her.

“What is so funny?”

“Ken,” she said, “you blew out two tires and you only have one spare in the trunk. So I think you can stop trying to impress me with your automotive knowledge and manliness.”

I then sighed deeply and got up. I walked around the car and up onto the road, I got near her so her dark umbrella sheltered me from the rain. I looked at her then said, “OK, guess our vacation just ran into a little detour.”

I then looked at one of the back tires of my car. It had blown, though what was odd that it looked like the entire tire had ripped apart. I looked at her then said, “why would two tires come apart like that?”

Alice was looking at something in the distance. I noticed and asked, “what are you staring at?”

Alice then put a hand on my cheek with her free hand and turned my head. Farther down that dirt road, dense forest on either side with towering trees swaying back and forth in the strong wind, was a mansion. What was odd was that the dirt road we had ended up on and had traversed for almost an hour led directly to the front of the mansion and stopped.

This mansion was large, three stories tall and seemed to be of Gothic architecture. All the windows where darkened accept for one window on the ground floor which had a light shining from inside. The building had dark drab walls, and it seemed to be a bleak and somewhat rundown house. On the roof was a part that came to a point, and on that part of the roof was a large lightning rod. Actually, it seemed that the dirt road led right to the large double doors on the front of the mansion.

I looked at Alice and said, “OK, broken down car, stormy night, an old mansion; this just seems a little to cliche.”

Alice then looked at me, smiled and replied, “we better see if we can use their phone.”

We both looked at the mansion, just then a bolt of lightning crashed down from the sky and hit the lightning rod blinding us with a flash of light and was followed by an ominous sound of thunder. We looked at each other.

“Alice, I know you are loving this.”

“Ken, I guess you know me well enough to know that I am.”

We both looked at the mansion again.

 

A few minutes later.

I and Alice stood in front of the double doors to the mansion, she holding her umbrella and we stood close together so the umbrella sheltered us from the rain. I looked at her for a moment then said, “OK, I'll knock. Seeing how all of this sounds like your standard dark stormy night and creepy mansion situation which a couple in love have to take shelter in; well I'm kind of scared of who is going to answer the door.”

Alice looked at me, smiling she asked, “not manly enough to knock Ken?”

I turned to the door and firmly knocked on it several times. Then I turned to her and quipped, “well, even if there is something horrifying in there that might eat us I still have to knock because you insulted my manhood.”

We turned to the door. After awhile very heavy footsteps approached from the other side of the door. Alice put her arm around mine and I said, “I bet something really scary is going to open that door.”

Then the sound of the footsteps stopped just beyond the door. We waited when the doors slowly opened and she stood on the other side. Standing in the doorway was a woman, but she was seven feet tall who towered over us and looked down at I and Alice. The woman seemed about in her thirties, yet she had long hair that was as white as snow and her skin was very pale and was almost as white as her hair. She had on a dress that was also white and seemed to sparkle in the light coming from deeper inside the mansion behind her.

I felt a little nervous, because despite my humorous appraisal of the situation I was somewhat unsettled because a giant woman who was an albino had answered the door. And for a brief second I had a nagging fear that maybe there was something horrifying in this abode. But then I brushed such a foolish thought aside.

She, in a deep voice with a very thick German accent, asked, “and who are you two and why are you out here so far away from the more traveled road?”

I extended my hand and said, “I'm Ken and this is my girlfriend Alice.”

She looked at my hand then shook it, she had a very firm grip and it almost felt as if my hand was being crushed; also her hand was as cold as ice.

She then said, “the name is Agi.”

She released my hand and I replied, “Agi, you got a very firm handshake.”

“Did I hurt you young man?”

“No,” I said, “my hand will be fine.”

The woman, Agi, looked down at Alice and asked, “and what does this young woman and her little boyfriend want?”

Alice seemed to look to the ground and said softly, “may we use your phone miss? Our car is in the ditch and we are sort of stranded.”

Agi seemed to think then replied, “sorry, we have no phone.”

I then grinned and said, “no phone, how do you call out for pizza?”

Agi was looking at me again. “Apparently your boyfriend considers himself somewhat of a joker. My husband, Lok, well he may like him.”

Alice, still looking to the ground, said, “may we come inside, and find some shelter from the storm.”

Agi nodded. “On one condition, can you have dinner with I and my husband. We do not get many visitors and we would appreciate some company.”

“Sure, you seem nice and after dinner me and Alice will figure out what to do afterward.”

Agi then looked down at Alice again and smiled. “Young lady, I hope your boyfriend is a gentleman. Polite manners is such a scarce commodity in this day and age.”

Alice looked at me, she was smiling. “Ken, well sometimes he is a little to ordinary, but despite that he is the best.”

I looked at her. “Well, Ken is lucky that he ended up with such a beautiful and unique girl.”

Agi then said, “follow me.”

 

Agi, that towering woman, led us through the mansion. I noticed as we followed her that where many closed doors and I realized what light there was did not come from light bulbs but from kerosine lanterns that hung on the walls and cast a soft wavering light that danced on the walls. I noticed that on the walls between the doors where tapestries, and things on them like epic battles and fierce combats with characters dressed like vikings.

I asked as we followed Agi, “did you have any electricity?”

“No young man,” she replied, “we prefer to be more simple. Besides when you have to pay for utilities it makes it easier for people to find you.”

As we walked, Alice had her arm around mine and I, “well, guess you must save a lot of money.”

Then we came to a gigantic room at the end of the hallway. Torches hanging on the walls and filling the room with an orange light. On the walls where paintings, two actually. One painting was of a man, dressed like a viking and holding a large hammer, standing in a small boat and in another hand was a chain; at he seemed to be pulling up some serpentine monstrosity from the depths of the water beneath the boat. On the opposite wall was a painting of a fearsome wolf like creature who seemed to be in battle with an old man also dressed like a viking; though the old man seemed to be missing an eye. And in the center of the room was a long table on which was a gigantic feast, on it where large plates a bowls filled with various foods. There where two chairs along the sides of the table, and two more chairs place at the near and far end.

Sitting in a chair at the far end of the table was a man. He seemed around the same age as Agi, though he was as tall as me and seemed like a slim man with dark hair as well as a mustache and beard; he wore a black suit. I noticed that he was looking at me and Alice as Agi led us towards the table. The man grinned and spoke with a thick German accent as well.

“And who is this young couple my lovely and dear wife brings to our table?”

Agi stopped at the table and looked at him as we stood behind her. She said, “Lok, these two sweet hearts are stranded and they need shelter from the storm.”

The man, Lok, looked at me and had a sardonic expression on his face. “Young man, I hope your girlfriend does not leave you for a man intelligent enough to stay on the freeway.”

I nervously smiled and replied, “we wanted to take the scenic route.”

Agi looked over her shoulder at us and said, “sit, me and my dear husband have so few visitors.”

Lok then laughed deeply. “I always enjoy having some fun with any visitors.”

Agi sat across from Lok. I and Alice looked at each other then we walked and sat at the two chairs on either side of the table. We exchange a quick glance then looked at the meal. I noticed there where no utensils and then I looked at Lok.

“I think we need a knife and fork, you know, basic dinner necessities.”

Agi looked at me for a moment then at Lok. “When I said if you would mind having dinner with I and my husband, I meant we will engage in some polite conversation then I'll watch my husband stuff his face and eat everything.”

I looked at Lok. “You are going to eat everything, there is enough food here to feed all of China.”

Agi sighed. “My husband likes to eat.”

Lok looked at me. “Sorry, just a little habit I developed back when I was a young man. I and my step brother used to have eating contests, my brother who was some muscle head who did not have two brain cells to rub together. And I beat him every time. Though when it came to drinking contests, well that unintelligent brute actually had the upper hand.”

I said nervously, “kind of hard on your brother aren't you.”

Lok shrugged. “We where close when we where young, but we had a falling out and afterward we where sort of enemies. Of course I'll miss that unintelligent muscle head, I could always rely on him to remind me that intellect will always trump strength.”

I looked at Alice and said, “well, my girl when she wants me to do something she just takes shots at my manhood.”

Lok was looking at me and then burst out into laughter. “Young man, you are a lucky guy.”

“Why am I lucky?”

“I get the sense,” Lok said, “that you are some man of at most average intelligence who was lucky enough to be with a woman who know hows to manipulate her boyfriend. That is why brains always beats brawn.” He looked at me and grinned. “In your case I guess it wold be brains beating average strength.”

I looked at Alice who looked back at me. “I was just joking sir.”

Agi smiled. “Young man, I like you. The last visitor we had to dinner was not polite enough to call the patriarch of the house sir.”

I asked Agi, “can I ask, I noticed you have a rather thick German accent. Why did you decide to live in Alabama?”

Lok and Agi exchanged glances then he looked at me. “Yes, Germania. I'll just say that there was some painful memories there and I, my wife and our three children decided to relocate somewhere new.”

I asked, “what happened?”

Lok frowned. “A family feud. I and my wife where of the same people, that is why I love her dearly. But I was adopted by a very wise man who somewhat disliked my people. In the beginning I was happy turning my back on the people I came from, but in the end I could not just help giving into my nature.”

I looked at Alice then broke into laughter and could not stop laughing. Alice, Lok and Agi where looking at me in mute silence till I stopped. Lok asked, “what is so funny young man?”

I was grinning as I looked at Alice. “Me and my girl where kidding around about how tonight is just like one of those bad stories where a young couple in love are stranded in the middle of nowhere one stormy night and end up in a creepy old mansion. I mean you and your wife seem really nice but this is getting really surreal.”

Lok asked, “and does that bother you?”

I looked at Alice and was smiling. “No, I'm finding this hilarious actually. And my girl Alice, well I know she is probably loving this.”

Lok nodded. “OK. I'll eat, then you two can spend the night in a guest room and tomorrow we'll figure out how to get the two sweet hearts on the merry way. My two sons would join us, but they probably are lurking about somewhere.”

I asked, “your two sons?”

“Yes,” Lok said, “Jorge and Fen. You probably will run into them sooner or later. Now, let's eat.”

 

After I and Alice watched Lok eat the entire meal, and that was a sight watching the slim guy consume the gigantic feast so quickly that it was like watching an unquenchable fire consume everything in its path mercilessly, Agi then led us up a spiral staircase up one floor. The mansion was full of darkened hallways all filled with the flickering glow of the kerosine lanterns and again there where tapestries on every wall depicting things like combat between viking like warriors and monstrous beasts. As the tall, albino woman led us through that house Alice again had her arm around mind and had been silent for awhile. I admit, this night had kept getting more surreal and unreal and I could not shake the feeling that I and Alice where in some bad film about a stranded couple and a dark mansion.

An hour later I and Alice lay under thick dark sheets in the large bed inside the room Agi had given to us. Over us was a canopy of black silk which hung over the bed. The room was large though the only furnishing was the bed in which I and Alice now lay in. Though on the wall was a very artistic painting, it was of a dwarf in a robe sculpting three figures out of clay; figures of a serpent, a wolf and a woman who seemed made of brown wet clay. There where several kerosine lanterns hanging on the walls and filled the room with a soft light.

I, in my undershirt and boxer shorts, rolled onto my side and looked at Alice beside me; she in her dark undergarments. She was looking silently at the ceiling and seemed to be unaware of me looking at her.

I said, “so, is this not turning out to be a pretty unusual vacation?”

Still not looking at me gaze at her, Alice asked, “so what do you think of that couple, Lok and Agi?”

I rolled back onto my back and looked at the ceiling as well. “They seem nice, if not a little eccentric and bizarre.”

“Ken,” she asked, “does the boring duck really want to marry this particular black swan?”

I nodded. “Alice, I don't know what I would do if we ever lost each other. I want to spend the rest of my life with you and grow old with you.”

“Are you sure Ken?”

“Yes Alice, I love you and I always will.”

Then she sat up in the bed and was looking down at me in a tender way. “It is just, your few friends don't seem to like me much.”

I looked at her and frowned. “If it comes to a decision of either the woman I love or some guys I grew up with, you are going to win every time.”

Alice was frowning as well. “I just seem to rub people the wrong way, aside from one other man you are the only guy who ever seemed to like me Ken.”

“Honey,” I said as I looked into her eyes, “people sometimes can't appreciate something that is not commonplace and sometimes don't understand someone who is unique.”

“You think I am special Ken?”

I grinned and replied, “Alice, I have never met anybody like you before and I am a lucky guy to have the love of such an unusual but very special woman.”

She then leaned down and kissed me passionately for a few seconds then again was sitting up in the bed looking down at me. She then asked, “Ken, would you like to, you know, be intimate with me.”

I looked at her in silence for a few moments then replied, “Alice, I can never wait to, you know, be intimate with the very special black swan. Every other girl duck this particular boring duck has ever been with has always been more of the same. There is a difference between making love and having sex. Sex feels good but always feels kind of cheap and sometimes meaningless.” I smiled. “But making love, especially with one very unique black swan is always beautiful and meaningful.”

“Ken,” she said, “I think you are declining.”

“It is just Alice, this house and this night is starting to get kinda of weird and I just don't feel comfortable being intimate with you here. I'm scared that something will shamble through that door as we make love and get us.” I then sat up as well and kissed her again. “But when we get to our hotel room in New Orleans we will be intimate and then we can investigate the French Quarter and see if we kind find some practitioners of voodoo so you can be happy.”

We then both lay in the bed, side by side, and looked at the ceiling.

I then remarked, “you know what is funny Alice?”

“What Ken?”

I hesitated for a few moments the replied, “we where together for weeks before we where intimate for the first time.”

“Well,” she said, “I really like you Ken because you really tried to romance me like a gentleman before we where together for the first time. Second man I was with and Ken, the way you make love is very sensitive, soft and sweet.”

“What is funny is that ever since we where intimate for the first time you are always on my thoughts. Like at my job at the hardware store, well, sometimes when I am dealing with some boring duck who wants to buy a hammer the black swan is so much in my thoughts that I get distracted. It is like the black swan who did the kindest thing in the world and decided to be with a bland duck named Ken Speedman, well she is almost always in my thoughts.”

“I love you Ken.”

“I love you to Alice. Now lets get some sleep and hope that something does not eat us tonight.”

We then both laughed, kissed again for a moment, then after a brief while both fell asleep.
 

I was asleep in the bed when I was awakened by a loud crash of thunder. I opened my eyes and took a moment to become aware of my surroundings when I then sat up in the bed and realized that Alice was not sleeping in the bed beside. I looked around the room and then groggily called out, “Alice.”

I realized that the door to the room was open and I could see the flickering soft glow of the kerosine lanterns from the hallway beyond the door. I don't know why, but I got a weird sense, a sense that Alice needed me. I got up from the bed and looked down to the ground. I realized that Alice's dark coat and dress as well as her boots where not on the floor beside the bed like they had been when she shed her clothes. My boring conservative button up shirt and banal beige pants where still on a pile on the floor beside my sneakers.

I called out louder. “Alice!”

Then from beyond the door came a faint whispering voice beckoning, it sounded like Alice. It whispered, “Ken.”

I felt worried and concerned for her. I then started to put on my clothes then put on my sneakers. I looked to the open door then slowly approached and walked through it and then was standing in the outside hallway. I looked to the far end at which was the top of the spiral staircase, hallway full of the dancing glow of the lanterns and on the walls the tapestries. I walked towards the staircase slowly when her whispering voice faintly beckoned again from the hallway ahead of me.

“Ken, I need you.”

I then walked quicker and then was standing at the top of the spiral staircase. I started down the staircase as my hand rested on the banister beside me; a feeling of growing alarm came over me. I reached the bottom and again was at the end of a hallway which was darkened though the darkness slightly pushed back by the lanterns. I walked down the hallway and stop at a doorway, beyond which was the large room lit up by torches which I and Alice had eaten with Lok and Agi. I looked into the room when from behind me I heard the creaking of door hinges. I turned around and realized that I had failed to the notice the door to the other side of the hallway, beyond the door was a darkened expanse. I approached the opened door and looked in.

Beyond the door was a stair shaft that led down to a large room, I surmised the basement. I could see at the bottom of the stairs was a large room, with stone walls and I came to the realization that the room was flooded; at the foot of the stairs was grimy, murky water that submerged the bottom steps. And I could tell that the basement was lit up by torches. I looked down the stairs when again her voice whispered.

“Ken, I need you.”

It was coming from the bottom of the stairs. I inhaled then went through the door, but as soon as I had gone down several steps I heard the sound of the door behind me slam shut and I jumped. I turned and went to the door, but when I turned the door knob I realized it was locked. I then turned to look down the stairs and started down the steps. When I reached the bottom I was in the basement, the murky water up to my knees.

The basement was gigantic, and on the stone masonry of the walls hung torches which filled the colossal room with a wavering orange light. Stone pillars went from the ceiling down to the ground and there bottom was submerged in the tepid water. And I realized that in the center of the room was a wooden table, a chair to one side and on the table was a glass jug with a yellow liquid inside and two glasses to either side of it. I looked at the table when ahead of me there was a wake in the water moving towards me. I watched as the surge of water approach then it stopped right in front of me. I looked at the water when its head popped out of the water, when it looked at me I got immensely afraid.

It looked like a man's head, but it had scaly skin and greenish flesh; it had a bald scalp and two perfectly black eyes which looked at me with a blank sentiment. It had no nose but it had obsidian colored lips on its mouth which where smiling and the things sharp, somewhat shark like teeth where revealed. A bit of its neck stuck up from the grimy water, on its sides where gill like protrusions which opened and closed as it breathed. And then it spoke.

With a thick German accent, it said in a friendly tone, “Hi there fella.”

I then turned and ran up the stairs, when I reached the top I tried to turn the door knob which would not turn. I started to bang my fists on the door and then shouted, “someone let me out!”

Then from behind me that thing spoke again, with its friendly and somewhat dignified voice. “OK, first visitor I've had in hundreds of years and he is kind of being impolite.”

I turned and pressed my back against the door, I breathed heavily as I watched it climb up the stairs towards me. It had a long serpentine body which also was covered with greenish, fish like scales. It had two arms which it used to cling to each step as it pulled itself up the stairs towards me, very muscular arms and it had hands with three fingers and there was webbing between each finger; it had long ebony claws. It had no legs, but its serpentine body hand an end with a long tail like appendage and it had a fin on its end like a shark. And it was wearing a t-shirt, a blue t-shirt which was soaked with the grimy water it had been in.

I watched it crawl up the stairs towards me and then it stop on the steps just below the one I stood on, and it was looking up at me and had a somewhat quizzical expression on its face.

I closed my eyes, I could hear it breathing. Then I pleaded urgently, “please, don't eat me.”

Then it spoke, in its friendly and dignified voice. “Don't worry, I have not eaten anyone in almost a hundred thousand years.”

I opened my eyes and looked down as it gazed up at me as it perched on the step just below the one I stood on. The thing then extended its hand and I looked at the three fingered, webbed hand with claws that was near my own.

“The name is Jorge friend.”

I looked at its hand in mute silence for a few seconds.

It then said, “the polite thing to do would be to shake my hand buddy.”

I hesitated then shook its hand, its flesh was cold and felt slimy. I then muttered, “I'm Ken.”

I let go of the thing's hand, Jorge was its name, hand and it said, “glad to make your acquaintance Ken.”

I looked at it for a few seconds then asked, “do I need to be afraid?”

“No,” Jorge replied, “I know I look a little frightening, but you'll have no problems with me Ken.”

I then asked it, “do you know where Alice is?”

He waited as he looked at me. “She is fine, but if you want to see her tonight you just have to do one thing.”

“What Jorge?”

He then smiled. “Come down to the basement with me, have a glass of lemonade and talk for awhile.”

“Why?”

“Because,” Jorge replied, “I want to get to know you Ken. Then I'll tell you where Alice is. Do we have a deal?”

I looked blankly at Jorge then nodded.

It, or he, turned then crawled down the stairs as I followed. He then slithered through the water towards the table as I walked behind Jorge, grimy water up to my knees again. He then came to the table and stood up on his serpentine body beside the table and he looked at me.

“Have a seat Ken.”

I thought I must have been having a nightmare, I would have been afraid like I just had been when I first saw Jorge but I just got this weird sense that he was harmless; actually he already seemed like kind of a polite and friendly guy.

I walked to the chair on the other side of the table and sat in it and looked at Jorge across from me. He picked of the glass jug the poured lemonade into one glass then another then put the jug on the table. He picked up one glass and handed it to me.

“Have a drink Ken and we can get to know one another.”

I looked at the glass then took it. Jorge picked up the other glass then looked at me.

“Cheers Ken.”

I waited then we bumped our glasses together and there was a small sound of a clink. Then Jorge drank from his glass. I waited and did the same, and oddly enough it was actually pretty good lemonade.

He then lowered his glass and looked at me and asked, “so, tell me about this Alice girl.”

I replied, “why do you want to know Jorge?”

“Just some polite conversation between to guys.”

I put the glass down on the table and looked at him. I then explained, “well, I love her.”

“And why do you love her Ken?”

“Because I never have met a woman like her, I know she is special and I feel like a special guy just by being with her. Actually, I know that there is something about her, I just get this strange sense that Alice is the only girl like her out there.”

Jorge drank from his glass then said, “I'm sure all guys feel that way about there girl.”

“I meant what I said Jorge,” I told him, “Alice is just someone special, someone who just seems to stand out anywhere she is.”

Jorge was looking right at me. “What are you intentions Ken, towards Alice I mean?”

“I thought about his question for a moment then replied, “marry her, and spend the rest of my life making her happy.”

Jorge grinned. “Does she make you happy though Ken?”

I nodded. “Definitely Jorge. I've been with two other women, the first one I was with a week until we would fight about money constantly and she would tell me my endeavor with writing was a waste of time and to grow up. The second girl I kind of loved, then she cheated on me and I was devastated. But Alice, we never have exchanged angry words once and I just know she would never be unfaithful.”

“And would you ever cheat on her Ken?”

“No,” I said, “when you find the best thing that has ever happened to you, then you would never do anything to jeopardize it.”

Jorge then nodded. “OK Ken, thanks for the company. If you want to see Alice then she is in the attic. Go up the spiral staircase, down the hallway and up the stairs at the end to another hallway. At the end of the hallway is the door to the attic.”

I got up then said, “thanks Jorge, and actually, you make pretty good lemonade.”

“Thanks buddy.”

I walked towards the stairs through the water when Jorge spoke up and I looked back at him.

“Last visitor we had in the house, well when he met me and my brother Fen he lost his wits and ran from the house screaming.”

I replied, “I was a little scared at first Jorge when I saw you, but you seem like a decent guy.”

“I'm glad you did not lose your wits Ken.”

“Why Jorge?”

“Because,” Jorge said, “Fen would eat you, like he had to eat our last visitor.”

I felt a little alarmed and just blankly looked at him. He then cheerfully said, “but I don't think we will have any problems Ken, you seem like a polite guy and kind of brave. Now Alice is waiting in the attic. Take it easy Ken.”

I just stared at Jorge for a moment then left the basement and ended the odd, somewhat unbelievable encounter I just had.

 

After making my way up three floors through the mansion after the somewhat odd and unusual conversation with Jorge in the flooded basement, I stood at a door I had found at the end of the hallway on the third floor. I looked at the door in front of me and was staring at the doorknob, behind me was the hallway filled with the wavering glow of the kerosine lanterns and the tapestries betraying monstrous things and fierce battles between viking warriors on the walls.

As I looked at the doorknob I had an odd feeling. Ever since I had entered the mansion the night had kept getting more bizarre and unbelievable with each passing hour. I guess I should have been afraid of the phantasmagorical events I had found myself in though ever since I had met Alice I guess my relationship with the odd and dark girl had created in me a sort of familiarity with the unusual and strange. And I was coming to the conclusion that this was just a very weird dream and in fact I was asleep in my bed beside Alice in our apartment in that small and prosaic town in Canada.

I then brushed these thoughts aside and twisted the door knob and the door swung open. Ahead of me was a darkened stair shaft at the top of which was a room full of the flickering light of the kerosine lanterns that seemed so pervasive in this mansion.

I called out, “Alice!”

From the top of the stairs came her whispering and very feminine voice.

“Ken, I'm up here.”

I prepared myself then began up the stairs. When I reached the top I was in a large room with wooden walls and a dust strewn floor, lanterns hanging from the walls and filling them with their ambient flickering illumination. Wooden beams went up from the floor to the ceiling and cobwebs festered in the corners of the roof above me. But the far end of the room was darkened and from the blackness where two red orbs in that void, I knew they where eyes looking at me.

Then from the far end of the attic came a voice, a voice with a very gruff, deep tone and with a thick German accent. It said, “try not to soil your pants little guy.”

I watched as it walked out of the shadows towards me. It looked like a wolf that walked on all fours towards me now covered with light from the lanterns, though it was much larger then an ordinary wolf and on its four legs it was almost as tall as me. It had shaggy brown fur, though a streak of white hair went down its back. Its furry paws where large and there where muted thumping sounds every time it stepped towards me, and it had large black claws. It had an elongated snout with a dark wet nose and in its mouth where sharpened, bone white teeth and two fangs. And its eyes where glowing like two red lights which where looking at me. And the weirdest thing was that it was wearing a red tie which hung around its neck and dangled above the dust covered floor.

It then stopped and began to snarl, slobber dripping from its fangs and falling to the wooden floor in small piles of glop. I began to shake and fell to the floor sitting on my behind and looked up at it. It walked towards me again and ceased approaching when it was right in front of me. Then it stood on its back legs and looked down at me with its burning eyes and I just looked up at it in mute silence.

Then it extended one of its front paws towards me and spoke with its deep, somewhat gruff voice.

“The name is Fen.”

I just looked at its paw as I was frozen in place as I shook.

Then it, or Fen, said, “grow a pair of testicles and shake my paw.”

I nodded then shook its paw. I then stammered to say, “I'm Ken Speedman.”
“OK Ken Speedman,” Fen said, “me and you are going to have a little conversation. Then I'll take you downstairs, your Alice is probably waiting in the dinning hall with my parents and my brother Jorge.”

I asked, “are you going to eat me Fen?”

Fen looked at me for a moment then replied, “only if you try to run out of the mansion like a little scared girl.”

I nodded then got back up to my feet so me and Fen stood in front of one another in that dusty attic and we looked at each other.

I then composed myself. “So what do you want to talk about?”

“Your girlfriend,” Fen replied, “I want to know more about this Alice and how you feel about her.”

“Can I ask something?”

“What do you want to ask me little Ken?”

I waited then said firmly, “why do you and your brother Jorge want to talk about my girl Alice.”

“Because,” Fen said, “I think even Ken is smart enough from looking at the two of us that we might have a little trouble finding ladies of our own, so we like to talk about the women our visitors are with so we can vicariously live a relationship with some polite conversation.”

“OK,” I replied, “seems reasonable enough Fen.”

“Sit Ken.”

I sat on the dusty wooden floor then Fen got on all fours and then sat on the ground in front of me. We looked at each other in silence for a few seconds when we then began to talk in that attic.

“Ken, do you think you are the right guy for this Alice?”

“What do you mean,” I asked.

“The key to relationships,” Fen replied, “is compatibility. And from what I've seen of this Alice and from how timid little Ken Speedman looks, it just seems you two are to different for the lovebirds to ever be compatible.”

“Actually Fen,” I said, “I think we work as a couple because we are different.”

“Explain what you mean to me Ken Speedman.”

I told Fen, “if we where more similar, then I would not be able to appreciate just how special and unique Alice is. We work because we are different, night and day are exact opposites but the cold of night makes you appreciate the warmth of the day and the heat of the day makes you appreciate the cool of the night. I guess that is about as best as I can explain it.”

“A little girlie Ken Speedman, but kind of poetic to.”

I looked to the ground then talked as Fen listened. “I know this sounds trite, but I know Alice needs me. After we where together a couple of days I realized that she was a lonely girl, she has no friends and I never met her family. My friends, who are all boring and commonplace like me, try to imply that I should find someone who fits in. And I always tell them that I like being with someone who does not fit in, someone who is like a elegant black swan swimming in a pond of boring ducks.”

“Black swan,” Fen asked.

I looked at Fen's glowing eyes. “Soon after we where together I started calling her a special black swan.”

“I see,” Fen said, “and Ken Speedman is one of the boring ducks.”

“That is what she calls me.”

Fen nodded. “I'm not really the type to appreciate the romance thing, but I think Alice is the type to feel like an outsider who has never fit in anywhere, and she probably likes your black swan metaphor because it helps her cope with being different and somewhat alone.”

“This boring duck,” I said, “knows that it his his job to make that black swan happy for the rest of her life. She knows that I am going to ask her to marry me, and I want to be her husband.”

“Do you ever see yourself stop loving her Ken Speedman?”

“No Fen” I told the wolf, “ever since the night we where intimate for the first time it is like sometimes she is the only thing I can think about.”

I looked at the wolf and then asked, “Fen, I've been to worried about Alice to ask either Jorge or you till now, but what is the deal with this mansion. What is going on here because this is just a little to weird to believe?”

Fen then stood up on all fours then walk past me towards the stair well behind me. He said as he walked, “my father Lok will fill you in downstairs, he and my mother Agi as well as my nice but somewhat of a push over brother Jorge are probably in the dining hall right now. He'll explain our families little predicament then you and Alice can be on your way. Now follow me downstairs Ken Speedman.”

I got up and followed the wolf Fen down the stair shaft.

 

I followed Fen into the dining hall after the wolf led me down through the mansion. As I followed the tough talking wolf the night's strange events had started to seem positively ordinary, I can't explain why; maybe it was both Jorge's and Fen's polite demeanor that made what might have started terrifying become rather bearable. But I just wanted to see Alice so I would know that she was OK, and since I knew she liked anything dark and bizarre I knew that if she was safe that she was probably having a good vacation.

Inside the dining hall I found all of them including Alice. Lok and Agi where standing side by side in front of the dining table, the man with a grin on his face in the dark suit and his towering albino wife beside him. Jorge, that serpentine like creature, was on the floor in front of them and they all where looking at me. Alice sat at the table behind them. And the torches on the walls filled the room with a wavering orange light.

Then she saw me and smiled. She got up and ran past the rather odd family and rushed into my arms. We held each other and kissed silently as Fen then walked towards the rest of his family and then sat on the floor beside Jorge. The whole clan was looking at I and Alice kiss.

We pulled away from each other and looked into one another eyes yet still embracing. I asked, “are you OK?”

She nodded. “I'm perfectly fine Ken.”

We then released each other then I walked past Alice and then stood before Lok and his family, Alice was behind me. I then asked, “Lok, I am smart enough to put together you have a rather unusual, but very nice family.”

Lok grinned wider. “And I guess you want some answers young Ken Speedman?”

I looked at Fen then looked to a painting on one wall, the painting of an elderly one eyed man in the armor of a viking battling a fearsome wolf. Then I looked at Jorge and looked to the other painting on the opposite wall, the painting of the large man also dressed liked a viking in a boat pulling a serpent from the water with a chain and seeming ready to strike the beast with a hammer in his other hand. I then looked at Lok and smiled.

“But Lok is short for,” I waited then finished, “Loki, step son of Odin and the trickster Norse God.”

Lok seemed impressed and he nodded. “You may not be as stupid as I thought Ken Speedman.”

I looked at Agi. “And Agi is short for Angrbooa, wife of Loki and a frost giantess who was the mother of his three children.”

Agi smiled. “Thank you young man, it has been over a hundred thousand years since someone used my real name.”

I looked at Jorge and Fen. “And you two are their two sons, the great sea serpent Jormungand and the fearsome wolf Fenrir.”

Fen looked down to Jorge. “Seems the small man knows his stuff.”

Then the whole family looked at me. Lok then asked, “how did you know who we where Ken Speedman?”

I replied, “when I was young, my grandfather gave me an encyclopedia of Greek, Celtic and Norse mythology. I am an aspiring writer and when I need meaningful ideas I just rip off from that encyclopedia; I read it thoroughly.”

Lok and Agi looked at each other when she said warmly, “I am really starting to like this young man, he seems so knowledgeable.”

Then they all looked at me when I then said finally, “but you have a daughter, I can't quite remember her name though she was queen of the inglorious dead, and she ruled over all those that did not die gloriously in honorable battle.”

Then behind me Alice said softly, “her name was Hel.”

I turned back to Alice, but when I saw her my expression became one of shock. For now her eyes glowed red and gave off a blazing light. She was smiling and then she said, “I told you that I had to introduce you to my parents before I accepted your offer to get married Ken, as well as my brothers.”

Then Fen said in his gruff voice, “it is good to see you after to hundred years sis.”

Jorge said after, “yeah, me and Fen missed our little sister.”

I was still looking at Alice and her glowing eyes in shock and was mute. She then frowned and asked, “are you afraid of me now Ken.”

I just stared at her for a moment then turned to her family. I walked up to them and looked right at Lok. I then said in a subdued tone, “sir, I want to marry your daughter but I will only ask her to be my wife if I have the approval of her whole family.”

Lok grinned in a very sardonic way. “Well, I like you more then that unintelligent visitor she brought to meet us two hundred years ago so I approve of you marrying my daughter. Though I think she will be the one wearing the pants in the relationship.”

Agi was looking down at me and was smiling when she nodded. “If you make my dear daughter happy, then you have my approval young man.”

Jorge looked at Fen. “I think Ken is perfect for our sweet little sister.”

Fen then looked back at Jorge. “I like the little man, I'm glad I did not have to eat him like her last suitor.”

Then they all looked at me in silence. I looked at Lok, waited a moment then asked, “can you tell me what your story is, why people from myths are real?”

“That,” Lok replied, “is a long, complicated tail Speedman.”

“I would like to hear it Lok.”

Then Lok told me about their whole ordeal.

“Three hundred thousand years ago was a forgotten age. A time of mortal men, but also a time of monsters, arcane magic and Gods. Actually all the worlds myths are just what is still remembered from this forgotten age. Where Germany is now was where my family came from, what we called then Germania. I was the son of a frost giant who where the mortal enemies of the Norse Gods, but as an infant I was adopted by the chief Norse God Odin. I started out as a good man, but over time I just could not help my nature which was evil. I eventually married my wife here who was a frost giantess and we had three children. But then came Ragnarok, the doom of the Gods. All the Gods all over the world started a war with all their mortal enemies and we all knew that both the Gods and their enemies would destroy each other on the field of battle; destroying this forgotten age and afterward the world would be set to flame purging any trace of this period of time. We all knew mortals would survive for we knew a few would take shelter in the roots of the world tree, or the innards of the Earth, and emerge afterward and repopulate the world. I was supposed to lead the forces of evil in battle against the Norse Gods and parish.” Lok then looked up at Agi beside him and continued. “But even an evil man cares about his wife and his children. So I made a deal with a clever dwarf who used magic to help me with some scams. He made copies of I and my family from clay and used magic to bring them to life, and it was these copies who where destroyed during Ragnarok. Then he used his sorcery to make both Jorge and Fen smaller and able to talk, because before that Jorge was over seven hundred miles long and Fen on all fours stood over four hundred feet tall. Then I and my family hid in the roots of the world tree during Ragnarok and came out after and went into hiding.”

Agi then looked at me and Alice. “Alice, why don't you and decent Ken go outside so he can finally ask you something and you can tell him the rest. I think you both need a moment alone.”

Alice nodded. “OK mom.”

I watched as Fen walked towards Alice. Then Jorge crawled across the floor towards her then arched himself up. I looked at the three siblings when she then hugged them at the same time.

She whispered, “I love my two brothers.”

Fen gruffly said, “I would only where this suffocating tie for my little sister.”

Jorge added. “We only dress up when you bring a suitor.”

As then hugged each other, Fen looked at me and threatened, “and little Ken Speedman, if you ever break her heart I will eat you. Got that soon to be brother in-law?”

I nodded. Then I watched as Alice let them go and Fen walked out of the room on all fours as Jorge crawled behind him. The wolf said as they left, “OK, though I hate wet fur, let's go down to your room and play checkers.”

Jorge replied, “you always have trouble because you have paws.”

Then they where gone.

I and Alice face Lok and Agi who looked at us. Agi then told me, “OK Ken, go outside because I think there is something you want to ask our daughter.”

Lok nodded. “And welcome to the family Speedman.”

I looked into Alice's glowing red eyes for a moment then we left.

 

I and Alice stood outside the front doors to the mansion, on the Eastern horizon was the surreal gloom of the twilight hours which pushed back the darkness of that odd night and the storm had ceased. From the forest all around the mansion was the chirping of countless birds.

We looked at each other when she then asked, “is there something you want to ask me Ken?”

I waited a few moment as I looked into her fiercely glowing eyes. “First, can you tell me the rest of the story of your family?”

She waited then explain the rest of her family's tale to me. “We emerged from the innards of the Earth a hundred thousand years ago. We needed to hide for we knew that mortals would soon not believe in the reality of the old myths. So my father, mother and brothers built a keep where this mansion now stands. And for ninety thousand years we just lived here alone. All we had was each other. My brothers can't blend in with the mortal world for obvious reasons and my parents don't want them to ever be alone. But my brothers wanted me to be happy and they knew I wanted a boyfriend. So ten thousand years ago I left and traveled the world looking for a suitor. And it was not till two hundred years ago I finally found one. This unintelligent strong guy from England, I did not like him but he was the only man who ever seemed to ever like me during my travels. He talked down to me, he treated me like an inferior, but he was the best I could do. So I brought him here, though by then the keep had be torn down and this mansion built in its place. I introduced him to my parents who did not like him, my father did not like him because the guy reminded him of his step brother Thor. My mother did not like him because he commented on her height. But when he went through what you went through tonight, getting the approval of my brothers, well when he saw Jorge he ran from the mansion screaming. Fen had to eat him, because we have to stay hidden and the guy might have told someone our families secret. So I left and traveled the world for two hundred years, and a year ago I was went into some coffee shop in some small town in Canada and this handsome, interesting and very romantic guy named Ken asked me out. And I fell in love with one boring Canadian duck when he talked to this very sad black swan, he was the second mortal man to talk to me in ten thousand years. So I knew I had to introduce him to my family, and I'm glad Ken the duck passed my families little test.”

“Can I ask you something Alice?”

“What Ken?”

“Why,” I asked, “why did only two men talk to you in ten thousand years, when you are so unique and beautiful?”

She turned her back to me and lowered her head and sounded saddened as she replied. “I like to dress in black, and men just seem to ignore me for some reason. I have been alone for so long.”

I then sighed. “Alice, I'm sorry.”

“Why are you sorry?”

“Because,” I replied, “I will be with this particular black swan the rest of my life, but I'm mortal so you will be alone someday again Alice. And that depresses me.”

“That won't be a problem Ken.”

“Why,” I asked.

She then turned at looked at me with her glowing eyes. “Ken, check your pulse.”

I stared mutely at her for a moment then checked the pulse on my wrist, I got alarmed then tried to check the pulse on my neck. I then looked back at Alice and excitedly asked, “why don't I have a pulse?”

“Promise you won't be mad if I tell you something Ken?”

“What would make me mad and why don't I have a pulse Alice?”

She then frowned. “The night after we where intimate for the first time, I waited for you to fall asleep and I just looked at you. I realized that I would never be able to live without you Ken, so I smothered you to death with a pillow.”

“Wait,” I said, “you smothered me with a pillow?”

She nodded. “Sorry Ken.”

I was about to ask why then was silent for a moment. Then I said, “and because I did not die honorably in glorious battle I'm one of the inglorious dead and you are my queen, basically the boring duck is just the black swans undead minion now.”

She nodded. “It was the only way we could be together for ever. Please forgive me Ken.”

I waited a moment then said, “I forgive you for smothering me with a pillow Alice. But what does me being your minion mean for me?”

“I can control you like a puppet anytime I want. But I promise I did it only once, early tonight I manipulated you into getting off the interstate and taking the scenic root so we would end up here.”

I looked into her blazing eyes for a moment then embraced her. I asked, “the boring undead duck would like to ask his queen black swan if she would do him the honor of marrying him.”

She then giggled. “I accept Ken.”

“I love you Alice.”

“I love you to Ken. Now we can get married later. Can you do your fiance a little favor?”

“What,” I asked.

“I have not been seen my family very much for the past ten thousand years. Can we just spend a century in this mansion with my parents and my brothers and then we can get married? Please Ken, for me.”

I nodded. “I would like that. Actually your parents are fascinating and you have two really interesting and decent brothers.”

She then kissed me. After she pulled away and whispered, “now, lets go upstairs and be intimate, I really need to lay with you Ken.”

“Sure, but one thing? Can you stop taking shots at my manhood, it sometimes makes me a little insecure.”

Alice looked at me with her burning red eyes. “Sorry, I had to prepare you. My father will be worse I'm afraid, his step brother Thor always talked downed to him because he was weaker and my father is the one who is insecure. I'm just warning you Ken.”

“Thanks for the warning.”

We then kissed again. After we went into the mansion closing the door behind me, and what I thought had been an odd night was just the beginning of the rest of my very long and unusual life. But I knew that it would be a long, unusual and happy life.

 

 

 


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