Jack looked up and down the street. The bell tower of the church belonged to him. And to Jennifer of course. Jennifer was his second-in-command. She just sat there, on the tower floor, looking at the sky. He had been dating her for about three months now. He was head over heels for her. She was smart, pretty, hot and always perky. He liked her so much, in fact, he even showed her his hideout. He lived on Dover Street, London. This was good because Jennifer lived right next to him. He also lived about six blocks away from his church, St. James’s Church. Whoopee. He had lived in London ever since he had been born. His parents had brought him every Sunday to St. James’s Church. The first few months had been really hazy. That was because he had been a baby. But as he grew, his vision and memory grew with him. After he had transformed into a young boy, Jack had begun to grow bored of the perfect church life. So, despite his parent’s wishes, he decided to choose the world of video games, sex, violence, and the Internet. Life was good. His family was wealthy. Real-estate transactions had made the Hoppmayers rich beyond their dreams. Their house was picturesque with its two stories and outside cottage appearance. But on the inside was a menagerie of expensive and beautiful items. Tiger skins from India and ivory from Africa mixed with the culture of China and gold from Egypt. It was extravagant. But Jack’s room was the best room in the house. The room was filled with a myriad of games, posters, clothes, fallen discs and broken electronics. It was the perfect place. Not to mention his private bathroom and the walk-in-closet. His room was his favorite place in the entire world, besides his hideout. After he had spent a few years at the church, Jack realized that there was a passage that led to the bell tower. It allowed him sight over all of London. Well almost. He couldn’t see some of the building behind the skyscrapers, but he could see a lot of the capital city. “Hey Jenni-furrrr! Look, I can see our school!” Jennifer stood up from her place and sauntered over to where Jack was and put her hands on the railing. Jack looked at her with a playful coyness and she looked back. Her face was perfect. Her hair was the color of gold with two eyes of the palest green. Her skin was like ivory but dark around the eyes because of her makeup. Over the tops of the buildings was their private school. It was a large place, with multiple structures, and a courtyard built of gray stone. It was sort-of pretty, in a corporate way but the inner self of the school was chaotic and mean. The students were all rich with famous parents and they did not care one bit about their education. Jack was one of them. The teachers were all old and stuffy and didn’t seem to see anything beyond their noses except their own lesson books. Jack was friends with all of the popular people in his school. This included Jennifer and his best friend, Mark. Mark was probably the most admired person in all of the school’s history. His parents were in charge of a multimillion dollar franchise that had to do with Bobble Heads and sporks (combination of a spoon and a fork). He could do anything. Jennifer, on the other hand didn’t have it so easy. Jennifer Marriet’s family had been poorer than dirt several years ago. Until her father, while visiting Afghanistan on a long and boring business trip, struck oil. This put the Marriet family on the map. But soon after getting a beautiful mansion and a sexy car, the money went to Jennifer’s dad’s head. And so, he cheated on his wife with some TV star and ran off with her. This broke Jennifer’s mother’s heart forcing her to sue and divorce her husband. She went to court and came out with millions of dollars, maybe even billions. But losing her dad to some lady made Jennifer a little slutty. And she transformed from a young, poor, little girl, to a rich, hot, mature woman. But Jack was cool with that. He planned on sleeping with her during his parent’s trip to America for some real-estate convention. “Jack!” yelled a voice. “It’s my mom,” said Jack to Jennifer with a touch of irritation on his voice. Jennifer stood up and kissed him on the lips. “Call me,” she said softly in his ear. With a grin, he turned his head and flew down the little side stairs. Then she yelled back to him. “Call me when you decide where to go for the big night.” His grin grew wider and he yelled after her,” I will! I love you!” He rushed down the small flights of stairs and onto the landing overlooking the Sanctuary. The people were singing and the choir was praising with the usual hymn. They were all in attitudes of praise and joy. Jack drank it in. Such life. So influencing, so powerful and so… boring. He had quit Sunday school and Bible reading three years ago. His parents were upset, but what could they do? Sit him down and force him to read the Bible? Pashhaww! They would never force him to do something he did not want to do. He had everything he needed. Youth, beauty, smarts. Dirty blonde hair outlined a slightly tanned face. Blue eyes poked out of a light dusting of freckles. How handsome I am, he thought. He ran down the last set of stairs and into the entrance hall. He walked quickly past the entrance to the Sanctuary and out into the street. Since it was a Sunday, there were few cars out. The only car that was out, in fact was his father’s Hummer. He ran to it, opened the door and in he went. Then they were off. “Jack,” said Bianca, his mother,” You have to go somewhere when we are on the trip. America is all the way across the Atlantic Ocean and-.” “I know mom. I’m not stupid.” “Listen to your mother,” said his father, Ronald. “Anyway, we are going to America and you are going to your grandmother’s house. I’m sure she will be glad to see you.” Jack gaped. He looked at his mother with an astonished face. Sensing his surprised stare, she looked at him. His blue eyes met her green eyes and burned with an effortless defiance. She looked away uncomfortable. “What? What!!!” said Jack quietly and then with a burst of energy. They halted at a stoplight and his father took the chance to look straight into Jack’s eyes with his gray ones. “You are going to Wingrave and you are going to like it!” He was about to protest, but his father cut him off. What was he going to do? How was he going to tell Jennifer that his special night was stopped by his parents? “When do I have to leave?” he asked in a cynical voice. “You leave tomorrow at six o’clock,” said Ronald with a tone of annoyance. “But-,” Jack stammered but was hit with a cold and piercing glare from his mother. Her usual frail and shy personality seemed to be cut away to reveal an inner sense of malice and wickedness. “You are going to Wingrave. Even if I have to pull you by your perfect hair all the way there, you are going.” Jack went silent after that. He set off at six o’clock and was out of London and on a country road. The trip was long and conversation less. There was not a single sound. Jack had told Jennifer that their big night was canceled. She had not been happy. “She is really pissed at you guys,” said Jack to his parents when he told them about her and the night they had planned for each other. He left out the part that mattered, though. They said they didn’t care at all. “Sweetie,” said his mother, in a falsely sweet voice,” I really couldn’t care less about and your…” His mother hesitated and then said, resentfully,” friend. But I can tell you that no slut is going to control this family and where it is going, you got me?” Jack understood. Bianca was in one of her crazy moods. The mood that made her pissed. But Bianca wasn’t the only one who was pissed. He was pretty ticked off that he had to stay with his crazy grandma. He had heard, when visiting her house when he was a kid, that Granny Mabel was really a spy for the American Government and that she was the one who killed Hitler. But he considered that nonsense because Hitler committed suicide. Or did he? He couldn’t take that old lady. She was decrepit and annoying in all ways. And if she asked him to play Bingo even once, he would force her to eat her dentures. But it was not all bad. His grandma had a large estate. He could do some exploring… even though he had already explored the house during his childhood. This sucks, he thought. He wanted to voice his thoughts to his parents, but the words were caught in his throat by a look from his mother. The silence was like a knife. It could’ve cut through anything. It killed Bianca’s feeble attempt at chit chat and Ronald’s attempt at radio listening. Jack just didn’t want to talk at all. Even as they passed the “Welcome to Wingrave” sign, Jack would not talk. Then they were finally there. Wingrave and its large houses loomed before them. After driving for some time, trying to find old Mabel’s house, they found it and stopped. Somehow, Jack’s parents always forget where Mabel lived. It was a large house with three stories not including the attic and basement. Gargoyles sat on the top of a roof made from polished red tile. The front yard was beautifully gardened, with several ivy plants that twisted up the house walls turning them a brilliant green. The green grass was shimmering in the sunlight and made the house look even more nice then it already looked. As soon as they got out of the car, Mabel, Jack’s grandmother, hobbled out with her ornate cane that she didn’t really need. She was smiling a stupid smile that screamed, I’m a senior citizen and I’M PROUD! Her iron-gray hair was pulled up into an elaborate bun. Her clothes included: a bright yellow T-shirt with a large happy face on it, a faded denim skirt covered in large pockets, and a pair of riding boots covered with ancient heart stickers that were peeling off by now. “Jacky,” she said with a grin as pulled Jack into a bone crushing embrace. “Hi grandma,” he wheezed in a sulky tone. “You kids have fun,” said Mabel to the people in the car. “We will!” they said, flashing a cruel smile to him. And with that, they drove off, leaving him in hell. “Guess it’s just you and me Jacky? How about we play…BINGO!!!” “How about no,” said Jack as he turned to enter the house. The front room was huge, two-storied entrance hall. A large oak staircase went from the first floor to the second floor. A large crystal chandelier hung from the middle of the ceiling. Jack walked across the expensive carpet and up the stairs. He heard Mabel closing the door behind her as she entered the house, but he didn’t care. Jack walked quietly down the hallway paneled with cedar wood and into his room. It was a large space filled to the brim with random stuff that he got from Mabel’s frequent and erratic trips to Asia, America and Australia. The Three Alfalfas, she called them. Why, he didn’t know. And he was sure, he didn’t want to know. He lay down on his bed and sighed. He could have been at the Boxwood Café right now, sipping coffee… with Jennifer. He could be at the Vue Cinemas seeing the new Nightmare on Elm Street movie he wanted to see…with Jennifer. He could be at her empty house right now, on her bed… with her. But he wasn’t. He sighed again and turned to the newest laptop model his mother had got him and logged on to Facebook and began talking to Jennifer. They chatted for over an hour about all the unfair stuff in the world that Jennifer compared to their unsuccessful date, including the Holocaust, the Armenian Genocide, and 9/11. This continued until Mabel came in and turned off the computer; saying it was causing an enormous racket, even though there was not a sound but the almost silent clicking of his typing. Soon he grew bored of doing nothing and decided to go out into the backyard and walk. He bounded down the stairs and waltzed towards the blue and white tiled kitchen. Mabel was busy preparing dinner when he swaggered in. The kitchen was Martha Stewart’s dream. It was the same size as his history classroom, which was huge, and bursting with cabinets, electronic devices and other kitchen items. Mabel was next to the black old-fashioned-looking oven, which, in fact, was the newest model. She was removing a tray of bread with her hands encased in a glove shaped like a duck. She looked his way as he came in. “Don’t climb the apple tree,” she said,” it is unstable.” “Yeah, yeah whatever,” said Jack with a roll of his eyes. He opened the door leading outside and with a flourish of his hand closed it just as quick. It was cold for May and the sun was just beginning to dip behind the horizon. Jack walked into the lush garden of his grandmother. Roses grew everywhere like ruby lips on stems. Violets crowded around a huge, elegant fountain of marble, its carved angel crying tears that led to the small pool below. Jack walked behind the fountain and scowled at it. He could be anywhere but here. He was brimming with anger. He was a man, he thought. I deserve to be treated as an adult. Then a burning desire to disobey the old woman filled his mind. She wrecked everything and so he would rebel! But your parents were the ones that started it, he thought. He didn’t care. He was supposed to be with Jennifer right now, and instead he got an old hag who’s obsessed with Bingo and soap operas. Revolt!! Rise up against tyranny!!! He turned to the center of the garden, with a wild look planted in his face. The center of the garden was dedicated to a tree. A green, beautiful tree. Half-rotten apples littered the ground, their places on the tree taken up by small flowering blossoms that covered the branches in a mantle of white and pink. Jack rushed to the tree and gripped it in both hands. Then he began to climb. Up and up he went. He felt great. This desire was being satisfied. He laughed and laughed. And then….SNAP!!! The branch supporting him broke. He fell. Down, down to the ground. Shock stopped his yell of fear as he hit the ground with a thud and was knocked out. For a second. When he opened his eyes, he saw stars. He stood up groggily and hobbled about in a dizzy manner. What had happened. He looked at the ground. The grass was basically the same, save for the long branch that lay on the floor like some type of dead animal. Jack’s heart went cold. The branch looked too large to hide and was obviously too heavy. Then he heard,” Jack what happened? I’m coming out.” Jack looked about wildly. He needed to hide. Now. The garden, for all its majesty, was barren. Not a single hiding spot to be found. Then he saw an open window. He rushed to the window as fast as he could, grabbed the ledge, and hauled himself into the room just as his grandmother opened the door of the kitchen. He found himself in the living room. There was a large fireplace that dominated one half of the chamber and a long leather couch that dominated the other. A glass coffee table sat in the center of the room. There was a shriek from the garden. “JACKIE!!” roared a voice. He sneaked a peek out the window and saw his grandmother walking with her stick at her side. Her normally crazy face was contorted with fury and her cane laid useless at her side. If she found him, she would tell his parents and they would punish him for breaking his old, innocent grandmother’s rules. This wasn’t mentioning what Mabel would do to him for breaking the rules. He bolted for the door, opened it, and ran down the hall and up a set of stairs, just as he saw his grandmother’s silhouette in the doorway of the kitchen. Every time he got to a landing, he would run up or down the nearest stairs. This manor is like a maze, he thought. Was it usually this big? Then he reached a dead end. The door to the attic. He had only been in their once. He was six and had wandered in there and got lost in the towering piles of junk. He panicked and screamed for more than an hour until his parents found him and took him home. Jack was seriously considering facing Mabel’s wrath but her screech echoed from the lower floors and he changed his mind. He grabbed the knob and wrenched the door open revealing a dark opening. He ran through, shutting the door behind him. He had entered a room that was bigger than the entrance hall. Piles of stuffed animals filled the corner nearest to him. The rest of the room was dedicated to heaps of accumulated stuff. Books, pans, silverware, dolls, dollhouses, magazines etc. And all of them were twisted into lanes and alleyways. It was as if someone or something had teleported Jack to a different city. He took a breath and plunged in. There was dust and a rotting smell everywhere. The smell overpowered him. “Who died?” said Jack in a loud voice. “Jackie, are you in there?” Damn it, thought Jack, how did she get up here so fast? He looked around wildly for a place to hide. Then he saw it. A large trunk. It was covered in leather and had a large lock placed on it. Jack rushed to it and prayed it was open and empty. It was. He sighed with relief, jumped in and closed the lid. It was dark and humid in the trunk. Jack shifted uncomfortably. There was a hiss outside the box and then quiet. Jack couldn’t hear anything. It was as if, he and the box had been catapulted into space. After a few minutes of waiting, he decided that it was time to emerge. He opened up the lid and looked out cautiously. He looked straight into a circular, and bright room. Red and gold tiles covered with large ornate carpets made up the floor. Tapestries and pictures covered the golden walls. An elegant domed roof lay above depicting a mural of an angel battling a demon. Across the room was a carved door. And opening the door was an old woman dressed all in gold and black finery. She looked straight into his eyes and hobbled forward, arthritic claws reached out, ready to grab him.
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