Confused, he flipped the notebook open to the back cover. The writing, although a bit hurried, definitely read Alister Drive. And the house number was 1223. When Simon looked up, he noticed those exact four numbers in gold leaf, conveniently placed under lamplight, engraved on the front of one of the two brown stone pillars that marked the edges of the tall black iron gate. He approached the gate, and noticing that it was propped open and the sidewalk below led straight to the front door of what looked like a mansion (or a castle), he decided to follow the path, praying to himself that this wasn’t just a cruel joke.
He walked silently down the sidewalk that passed through a wide spacious yard, and ascended the three polished steps onto the roofed porch. He took a breath to steady himself before reaching up and smacking the handle of the golden, intricately carved door knocker off the surface of the door four times. Nothing. Simon wasn’t sure if he expected anything to happen, and didn’t know if he wanted anything to. He turned around to examine the still shadows lying peacefully and mutely across the lawn, when suddenly the door opened behind him.
“Hello?” Simon spun around to be greeted by a tall man with a muscular jaw and long combed hair that just grazed his shoulders, wearing a coattail suit, and holding the door. “This is the McAlister residence. What business do you have here at this hour, sir?” McAlister? Simon almost choked. The street is named after this family?
“Oh, uh,” Simon struggled to regain his focus. “Is… there a Dante here?” He figured he would at least try.
The man looked surprised. “Oh, I didn’t know Master Dante was expecting a guest so late. Please come in.”
Master Dante? Simon thought as he accepted the servant’s gesture and stepped through the door. Everything was strange to him, from the polished, black granite floor to the broad crystal chandelier hanging from the high, arching ceiling, to the dual staircases with elegant designs carved into the railings that seemed to lead to a whole new world above. He couldn’t believe that the kid he sat next to in Mathemagics lived in a place like this. The long haired servant closed the door as Simon gawked at the scene before him, and walked towards the left staircase.
He turned around, “Please follow me, sir.” Simon snapped out of his reverie and followed. The man took him up one flight of stairs, down a narrow hall, turned right and proceeded through a wider hallway. Meanwhile, Simon couldn’t help but admire the quality of everything he passed. They finally stopped in front of a door that had been left open a crack. “This is Master Dante’s room,” the servant said, “If you would please excuse me, I must go shut the gate before 9 o’clock,” and with that, he turned, marching back through the maze.