Lannor remained motionless on the bed as he listened to Tyler moved towards the stairs. The sound of Tyler mumbling to himself as he descended in the dark had Lannor anxiously waiting for the imminent crashing sound of him falling; but it didn’t come. As Tyler’s voice became a murmur the further he moved towards the back of the house, Lannor’s curiosity grew. Unable to remain in the bedroom, Lannor pounced from the bed and made his way to the top of the stairs. As he went to step down, paw mid air, the soft sound of humming drifted towards him. The simple melody hummed under breath sent a warmth sensation through Lannor as his eyes closed and his body swayed.
When Tyler grunted in an attempt to open the door under the stairs, Lannor couldn’t help but find it amusing, knowing the door was prone to jamming. When the door did open, the sound of Tyler falling against the back wall and his cursing in pain drew Lannor out of his trance. About to step forward, Lannor forgot where he was and when his paw did not touch the floor as he expected, panic hit as he fell. His other front paw he could not bring forward in time to stop himself as he tumbled head first into the step then down several more. He howled in pain before managing to regain his footing only a few steps from the bottom. Lannor limped the last of the steps as his head whirled in confusion. Before he could come to his senses, strong hands curled their way around his body and lifted him.
“Jeez, are you all right? Scared me half to death but looks like it scared you more. You haven’t broken anything.”
Lannor came to his senses as Tyler’s hands fumbled over Lannor’s body searching for wounds. Mortified at what had happened, Lannor squirmed out of Tyler’s hands, hit the floor with a thud and took off towards the living room.
“I take it you’re fine then.” Tyler called out into the dark.
Lannor remained silent as he hid behind several boxes in shame. Never had Lannor done something as stupid as that. How had he become so distracted that he’d almost caused serious injury? When Tyler moved back down towards the end of the house, Lannor heard the laundry door open and his curiosity once more drew him out of hiding.
Lannor padded to where Tyler stood in front of the door leading under the stairs. Rather than going out into the laundry, Tyler used the partial night-light coming into the room to light the entrance of the corridor. Cold night air seeped into the house, yet it was ignored as Tyler stepped forward into the small dark space.
Lannor was impressed.
In the past, most occupants were ignorant of the upkeep and maintenance of the house. Lannor lost count how many times he watched them fumble over issues only to have them mysteriously fixed. Which unfortunately gave the house the reputation of being haunted. Lannor grew tired of looking after these people. So it pleased him Tyler had the ability to manage without him interfering.
Never had Tyler known fear as much as he did at that moment. As he looked into the dark space under the stairs, he rubbed his right elbow where he’d banged it against the wall. But not even the pain could quell his thumping heart. He’d been confident at the top of the stairs but that changed once he’d reached the ground floor. Already fearing the possibility of ghosts jumping out at him he’d not been expecting the terrifying screech from the cat as it fell down the stairs. Never had Tyler been as frighten and in his panicked state he’d started looking for something to use as a weapon. Upon realising it was the cat who had made the awful noise, he’d forgotten everything and made to the bottom of the stairs. How he’d found a black cat in the dark surprised him but given the sound it had made it wasn’t hard. Convinced the poor old thing had almost died, Tyler wasn’t sure if he was relieved when it jumped out of his hands.
Now, once more in front of the little room under the stairs, Tyler wasn’t sure how safe it was to enter. What little light cast through the corridor from the laundry barely outlined the distribution board against the wall. Tentatively, Tyler reached out and when his hands brushed through cobwebs, he immediately drew back. Nothing to be afraid of, he told himself but still he made no attempt to reach in again. Without light, Tyler had to either wait until morning or be strong. It was the possibility of power that gave Tyler the determination he needed to reach out once more but not before pulling the sleeve of his top down over his hand. As he reached once more inside Tyler waved his arm back and forth to remove the cobwebs and as he stepped in further something brushed against his face.
The scream echoed around the house before Tyler realised the sound came from him. Pressed back against the wall, hand on his heart afraid it would stop, the cat hissed beside him and Tyler saw red.
“Oh! For crying out loud. Will you stop that?” Tyler said. “I don’t think my heart can take any more.”
It took Tyler several minutes, back against the wall and taking deep breaths to calm himself.
“I’m sure this can wait until morning.” Tyler murmured.
The silhouette of the cat near the stairs blended in with the surrounding shadows. If not for the bright green eyes reflecting against the moonlight, Tyler would not know it was there. As he glanced once more into the dark space under the stairs Tyler made out the long cord as the plastic clip on the end swung in and out of the light. The light switch had brushed against Tyler and he scoffed at his foolishness. Yet, the fear he experienced had not vanished and his strength waned.
“You can do this?”
Tyler took a deep breath and lunged towards the distribution board. His hand once more hidden in his sleeve hit the board and Tyler fumbled around flicking on fuses. When all switches were on, Tyler pulled the cord beside him. Nothing happened.
“Great. All that for nothing.”
From the laundry, the cat meowed and Tyler turned to see nothing although was sure the cat stood somewhere in the shadows.
“Do you want to go out?” Tyler asked. More than willing to let the cat out, Tyler found the idea of not having it around a blessing.
Given the moonlight in the room, Tyler had no trouble finding the key on the hanger on the doorframe and unlocked the backdoor. As he pulled it open he was assaulted by freezing winds, he shivered and arms wrapped around his chest. With his good elbow, he leaned down and pushed the door handle down and with his foot pushed the screen door open.
The cat sat next to him.
“Are you going out?” Tyler asked.
The cat did not move.
“Stupid cat.” Tyler murmured. As he moved to close the door, he caught sight of a hot water system against the wall. With no power there would be no hot water but in the shadows beside the unit there appeared a water meter. If Tyler were to turn it on, there could be the possibility of water to the house. Bravely, if not stupidly, Tyler dashed out the door to investigate. The damp cold ground began to seep through his socks as the wind whipped through clothes. His body refused to stop shivering, making Tyler regret leaving the house. However, the opportunity to have water proved stronger than his own well-being. Several meters from the backdoor, Tyler did indeed find the water meter and turned the tap on. The sound of the tank filling was a welcomed sound and about to return inside a small lean-too attached near the corner of the house caught Tyler’s attention. It was then he recalled the fireplace in the bedroom and already cold, Tyler investigated. Wood stacked high in the lean-too was a pleasing sight. Without thinking, Tyler began grabbing the dryer wood from the top of the pile and stacking it in his arms. When he could carry no more, he returned to the back door.
With his chin, he pushed the cold door handle down and with his mouth took hold the handle and pulled it hard enough to get a foot in the door. Rather awkwardly, Tyler got the back door open, as he continued to juggle the armful of wood. With a kick of his heel, Tyler closed the back door behind him, hoping the cat had been smart enough to get out of his way. Not hearing any hiss or screech was a good sign. Back in the corridor, Tyler did the same to close the laundry and carefully made his way down the corridor towards the stairs.
“Don’t get underfoot.” Tyler said loudly unsure where the cat now was. The last thing Tyler wanted was to be going up stairs and have the cat get in the way. Tyler gave a small chuckle as he remembered the cat had fallen down the stairs. Stupid cat, it was either old or blind.
Safely back in the bedroom, Tyler dumped the wood in the basket beside the fire. The light film of perspiration covering Tyler’s body after his efforts and the cold night air sent a chill down his back. A fire and the possibility of running water would make the remainder of Tyler’s evening relatively comfortable. When the clouds parted and moonlight flooded the room, Tyler took advantage to head to the bathroom. Although darker than the bedroom, against the white tiles it wasn’t difficult to make out the cat sitting on the vanity.
“There you are. Why are you in here? I’m about to get the fire started. You’d be more comfortable in the bedroom.”
Without hesitation, the cat jumped from the vanity and Tyler followed it into the corridor and watched as it made its way to the bedroom. When the cat disappeared through the doorway, Tyler murmured, “Definitely something weird going on.”
Tyler returned to the tap, and the pipes hammered before dirty brown water splattered out of the facet. When the water flowed clear or as clear as Tyler could make out, he cupped his hands and gathered the ice-cold water before splashing it over his face and around his neck.
“That will do for now.”
As he went to leave the bathroom, Tyler flushed the toilet, please to hear the sound of running water. On his returned to the bedroom the cat sat on an old dusty floor rug in front of the fireplace. With a suspicious glance, Tyler made his way over.