Elliot didn't return to the house for some time, even though he did want to. He had to take time to breathe and get the jittery feeling to wear off. He kept himself busy, and out of trouble by cleaning, or going to town to spend hours with the books of the library.
Mr. Mann let him stay as long as he wanted. He supposed it was because after eighteen years of knowing each other, and of surprising mornings when he'd walk in to see the boy still there when he thought the place was empty, had their benefits. He and the old man swapped stories, and he would sit there and question him on some, almost always about the war. He simply couldn't help it, he was so intrigued about the times before he existed, and how they were so different from now. Elliot was clever with his questions when they weren't about the wars. Mann was one of the only people in town who understood why Elliot liked the worlds in the books, and how he could try to prove how some of the aspects in them were real. So Elliot was happy to ask him about some things, and this week his questions all revolved around mysterious buildings, and hauntings. If anyone would know anything that had to do with fairy tales, or books in general, it was Mann.
Elliot spent so many hours in the library just the past few days, that his plan to get his mind off of things was completely successful. As long as he stayed there, and kept his mind occupied with everything but that locked door, he was able to resist the urges to rush over and break it open, and doing that would only end in havoc.
His plan worked for nearly a week. It was on Saturday that it failed him finally. The library had closed early, and Mann was gone before Elliot had gotten back from his dinner at the cafe. He'd been held up by Mary, who still felt the need to give him free food since Nina's death. They'd been close friends, and she was a nice woman, and so he felt bad if he ever said no to her offers. She was merely trying to help, and a free meal was always a good thing. She did make good food, her soups and stews were some of the best.
He'd finally managed to get himself to leave town and head back. He got home at a quarter after five, as the sun started to sink low, casting shadows down upon the ground, and next door it made the iron gate even more frightening. The car was gone again, and he was already squeezing through the bars before he'd quite finished his throught process.
He felt like a moth, and the house was a giant flame, and he couldn't help himself. He just had to keep going back, even if it burnt him. It could burn his wings to black ash, and he would still go back.
Elliot was more rattled this time around when he went into the house. Every creak of wood, or groan from the building made his heart jump into his throat and his skin crawl.
He knelt down in the closet and withdrew the key from his pocket once again. He didn't hear the shuffling this time, but he continued on anyways. He had put it off for too long, he had been waiting for this moment, and it was here, there was no excuse, no reason, for him to hold off any longer.
The click of the mechanism in the lock unhinging itself, and releasing was eerie. It squealed and cried as he slid it out of place. He set it on the floor to slide the other locks off as well. They all lay in a pile beside him within minutes, and all that was left to do was pull it open.
Elliot ran his fingers along the edges of the door's frame, until he found the silver knob again. It almost seemed like it had sunk further into the wood since the last time he had been there.
For a moment, he hesitated, his fingers stuck against the cold silver. He did not know what was behind the door, or who was behind the door. He didn't know if the reason this place was locked up, was because it was some dangerous mental patient, or a murderer. He wondered if he should turn back and leave this particular adventure for someone else, someone who had more bravery than he did. He thought back to something Nina had said to him in her letter. There is no light without a dark. It's okay to be afraid of the dark, as long as you remember that there is a light. He frowned at the door and took in a deep breath, wrapping his fingers around the knob. "It's now or never."
"You came back?"
Elliot jumped back in fright for a second time because of the soft voice on the other side of the door. He clutched at his chest, and swallowed thickly, brow furrowed. "Who are you? You're not some psycho are you?"
"I don't know, what is a psycho? What do they do? Are they a monster?"
"Um.." He sat up on his knees, and outstretched a shaky hand to the little handle again. "You don't sound like a psycho. I mean.. most psycho people know they're psycho, y'know?" Well obviously the person didn't know, and he knew that, but Elliot's brain was still in a state of fear and shock, and he was having trouble thinking properly. "You're not going to kill me are you? Cause, if you're not psycho, you could be a murderer."
"I've never hurt anything." The voice said rather calmly from the other side. "It's against my nature to hurt even the smallest thing."
It made him shiver a little. He was only inches of rotting wood away from someone he did not know, someone who could very well be a murderer, or some psychotic mental patient. Only a few inches were seperating him from his possible doom and he was going to take it away.
He closed his eyes, mentally prepared himself, and twisted the handle sharply to the side. The hinges on the door sighed and groaned and after a hard pull, the small door swung open. As it opened, shining a small bit of light into the dark attic, Elliot was face to face with a pair of eyes, and a face, and an entire person.
"Wahh! There is someone living up there!" He shouted, not really meaning to do that in the person's face, but he was so overcome by shock that he was right all along, that there had really been something strange about the house, about the men, and the attic, he just ended up shouting without thinking. In fact, he wasn't doing a lot of thinking today, tonight more specifically. It was almost like every time he was over at this strange house, his mind blanked, and he was left just to go on instinct, instinct that was just terrible most of the time.
The other reacted about the same, and jumped back as he had, staring at him with widened eyes.
When Elliot was able to breathe properly again, he crawled closer to the door, and settled on his knees in between the first room, and the attic.
"Are you real?" He felt stupid, and rude, having to ask that, but his imagination had tricked him a lot more than twice before when he was younger, and he just had to be sure, and being honest with himself, he just wanted to hear the thing, the person, speak again.
"I.. I think so.. is there a proper description of real? I hope i'm real. It would be strange to be some sort of imaginary person to someone else.."
Elliot found himself grinning a little, and fumbled for the flashlight he'd brought with him. He hit it a few times, and the dying batteries coughed to life, lighting up the attic a bit more. He shone it around before focusing it in front of himself, on the one sitting just feet away.
Upon closer inspection, Elliot realized that the person was most definitely real, and that it was also a boy, somewhere around his own age, a year older perhaps.
The boy was dark skinned, tanned bronze, as if he'd spent his entire life laid out under the warm sun and had somehow not burned from its rays. His ears were pierced several times, though he couldn't tell how many, he could only see two of the earrings, the rest were hidden by his hair, which was a medium length, and was a dark shade of brown that just hit his shoulders. It was messy and awkwardly chopped, as though someone had cut it in the dark. Some of the locks were longer than the others and a few of the longer curls had draped along his shoulders, and started down his back. The shorter, uneven ones, remained brushing their tips just at the end of his neck. Even though it wasn't the most attractive cut, it suited the strange boy. It cupped his cheeks almost perfectly, and the way the thick locks curled around one another gave him a youthful look, but still allowed him to seem intelligent and wise. His eyes were a dull shade of blue and underneath them, were three black markings, each in the shape of tear drops, the one in the middle was the larger of the three, and beside it, the smaller ones were at different angles. The tips of the drops ended just below his eyes, almost as if they were coming from his tear ducts themselves. His brows were thin and arched and his face held high cheek bones that complimented well with his long neck. His shoulders were broad, and his frame was quite thin. His long legs were folded underneath him as he sat against the wall peering back, and underneath the rags he was in, Elliot could see a few cuts and scars along his skin that made his spine shudder and his stomach go queasy.
"What's your name?" he asked, finally tearing his eyes away from him. "Mine's Elliot."
"Lune." The boy said, staring him down as he imagined he'd done to him, taking in the details of the stranger. "My name is Lune."
"Nice.. um.. nice to meet you, Lune." Elliot choked out politely, clearing his scratchy throat. The dust in the attic was unbearable. "Do you live up here? How did you get up here? Why stay in such a dusty small place? Or this house at all? Er.. sorry." He wanted to ask him so many questions, but he had to reign himself in and hold back. He couldn't just burst out with thousands of questions and expect him to be able to answer them, or want to. After all, they'd just met and he would never sit there and answer a hundred questions from some strange person, so he could not expect him to.
Lune blinked his eyes a few times before he answered. "I occupy this space.." He said, and Elliot waited for him to continue, but he didn't.
The boy was strange, though, he supposed he was to him as well. He wanted to press on with questions, like about the men, or why he looked so miserable, but the boy held a hand up to keep him quiet. "They're back. You have to go now."
Elliot furrowed his brow and tried to strain his ears to listen too, but all he heard was the sound of their quiet breaths. "I don't hear anything.." he mumbled, as Lune jumped up and took off to the window, peering outside.
"Go! Go now!"
"Can I come back and talk again tomorrow?" He asked, shutting the flashlight off and pocketing it once again. "I have so many questions."
"But we've only just met! I... Okay, you can come back tomorrow evening.. but only if you go now!"
"Great! Good.. Alright, i'm going.. i'll be back!" He said, nodding like it would secure that fact in stone. "I promise I will!"
Summary: Elliot Davenport spends his every moment with a book in his face, and his head in the clouds, paying no mind to reality. But there will come a time when he will have to put the books away, and take a step into the world he thought was boring, into a world he thought he knew, only to discover he knew nothing about it at all.
also on fictionpress; [link]
also on fictionpress; [link]