I was about to doze off despite the cackling, cursing professors tapping against the window panes, when I remembered I was supposed to be working on the painting of my sweet, old friend.
I heaved myself reluctantly from the couch and approached the easel. Now, though I love her, I have to admit she’s kind of funny looking. I had caught some of the lopsided twist to her mouth and the flaring nostrils, but the exact shape of her lumpy brow had quite escaped me. I sighed, taking up my brush and palette. The palette has been with me for years. It’s haunted, sadly, and it knows me and I know the little shiver it gives when I touch it with the brush truly creeps me out, but I’ve never been able to scrape together the cash to buy another. Besides, it does mix the paints pretty nicely, so I can put up with the weirdness.
After a half-hearted attempt, however, I decided enough was enough. She’d either like it or she wouldn’t, and nothing I could accomplish at this late stage was going to make slightest bit of difference. Whether she fell with grateful sobs to my feet or broke it over my head, I was finding it hard to care.
And today had been an especially exhausting day. So right after dinner, I snuggled in with my bottle of turpentine, my recently purchased copy of the latest Berenstain Bears novel, and the peace and quiet of a September night in the seedy confines of my one-room basement hide-away in ambient, historic Cambridge.
With a sweet sip of the good stuff, page one. I didn't even get to the first word, when the Westminster chimes of my well-priced doorbell rang.
"Oh my God!” I exclaimed, completely forgetting where I was, so caught up was I already in the adventure of the spooky old tree, that I leapt a foot in the air and spilt turpentine all down my front. “Hang on!” I called, searching for something to wipe up the mess, but alas it was too late and I went dripping to the door. “Just give me a second!” I added, wringing out my shirt “Is it you, Celia?”
I went to the door and found nobody there, only a package wrapped in brown paper waiting for me to adopt it as something new of mine.
I have this thing about packages ... I just have to open them ... and when I opened this one, my life did take its turn.
Inside was a box and an envelope. I opened the envelop first, though I almost didn’t need to as the turpentine swiftly soaked the paper and turned it transparent.
“Dear Ferdinand,” I read in bafflement, as this was not my name. “Please ensure this artefact is destroyed immediately or civilization as we know it will break down and all hell will be let loose. They’re coming for me! All I have time to do is leave this out for the postman. You know what to do. Do not fail me or all is lost! Your ever-true, Angelica.”
Ferdinand? Ferdinand? Hadn’t I seen mail addressed to an F. Cavendish? Previous tenant maybe?
Maybe I should have destroyed it like she said. Next day...
Well, you know all of that don’t you? You’re sheltering in here with me after all, and I think we could both testify that all hell’s been let loose.