NaNoWriMo 2015: The Horrorphiles, Part 10
By Stephanie Thompson; 1,694 words
Chapter 13 (I don't think any of this is good either), continued
“Oh, how long was I asleep?”
“Not long, not long at all.”
She looked behind them and Jordan followed at a casual distance and pace. He wasn’t watching her and Adam with jealous but looked at painting on the wall as if they were his only interest all along. There weren’t paintings there the whole time, was there? She just noticed them lining the whole, portraits of family ancestors she assumed, but she specifically remembered blanks walls before.
“I’m sorry to have left you alone like that, I was enjoying our conversation but I had to set up the movie for the event.”
“Oh, I could have done that, you didn’t have to . . .”
“Like I said before, it was our staff’s mistake, it’s my responsibility to make it right.”
She kept her smile facade up and tried to remember what had happened before she fell asleep. She remembered no interruptions, no excuses. One moment they were discussing their childhoods and the next she was woken up by Jordan. Why couldn’t she remember? She tried not dwell on it or imagine any spooky scenarios. After all, five whiskey cocktails was explanation enough for fuzzy memories.
Once again Adam lead her, and by extension Jordan, to another new room, this one across the hall from the library or near enough across from it. This room was similar enough to the last one to be considered another drawing room, but there was only one giant elephant roasting fireplace this time. It was also lit but surrounded by huge fire-screen. Casual groupings of seating were scattered throughout but the horrorphiles were standing around, chatting, rather than sitting. On the wall across from the fireplace was a massive screen on which was projected Nosferatu, it’s musical soundtrack played softly in the background filling out the quiet spaces. The wall opposite the door was lined with buffet tables stacked with cold finger food and desserts. A bar lined the wall between the doors, a bartender in black satin vest and crisp white button down shook a cocktail in a stainless steel shaker. This drawing room was warmer than the one Adam and Ronny had shared drinks in.
“I’ll introduce you to my uncle, then I’ll get us some drinks,” Adam said.
She wanted to say she could probably use some food rather than (instead of?) another drink, but as Adam guided her Wizard of Oz style toward the center of the room, various horrorphiles stalled their progress with conversation and questions.
What do you think will be the next horror movie trend? When will the Paranormal Activity franchise end and further the entire found film genre? Can it even go much further? What’s your favorite Nightmare on Elm Street movie? Friday the 13th movie? Halloween sequel? Hellraiser? And so on and so forth.
Finally, her smile turned from fake to real. These were her people, interested in the same questions, and real answers. By the time they made it to Mr. Peabody, she ‘d actually loosened up and was having fun. Mr. Peabody was talking more house history and ghost stories to a small cluster of guests.
He looked different in than she imagined. There wouldn’t be any stooped elderly man in shawl sweaters and orthopedic shoes instead she was looking at a tall hearty looking middle aged man. His face wasn’t wrinkled or sagging but handsomely lined and gritty looking like those older men of Hollywood. He and Adam shared some features, prominent cheekbones and a defined jaw, but where Adam’s looked like they were cut of glass or marble, Mr. Peabody’s looked rough hewn of granite. He wore a navy button up with the sleeves rolled up to his elbow, cream sweater vest with dark wood buttons, and charcoal slacks. Surprisingly modern and handsome. Hadn’t Adam called him elderly, quite elderly, in fact? The gentleman in front of her looked anything but, he didn’t look old enough to be Adam’s great uncle.
“Excuse me, Uncle?” Adam interrupted the current conversation. “Allow me to introduce the ‘enterprising young woman’ who arranged all this, Veronica Granger. She’s been very eager to meet you.”
Adam had unhooked his arm from hers and instead had his hand on the small of her back again. From there a creeping apprehension climbed up her spine as he spoke. She had the distinct feeling that they were speaking about her in some secret code, like an inside joke, instead of a normal, if not overly polite introduction. The both smiled similar smiles, like now they were sharing a silent laugh over their inside joke. Veronica wanted to move away from Adam’s touch but there was nowhere to move in the tight circle of people standing around. Everyone was looking at her as if it were her turn to speak but Veronica couldn’t think of what she was suppose to say.
“A-Ha!” said Mr. Peabody, before embracing her. His hug locked her arms at her sides, so even if she’d known what to do with them, she couldn’t have moved them. “I’ve been looking forward to meeting her too. I’m so glad we could work together to make such an intriguing event a reality.”
She wasn’t sure if he was speaking to her directly or still talking to Adam about her but decided it was about time for her to speak up. “Mr. Peabody. . .”
“Please call me Gregory,” he interrupted.
“Oh, uh, Gregory, it’s such a pleasure to meet you, at last. Thank you for hosting us this weekend, you truly have beautiful and unique home.” She felt like her words were tinny and false sounding.
“Well, thank you very much indeed. I hope you all have spooky time.” He changed his voice and moved his fingers like a B-movie hypnotist and laughed.
Everyone laughed except for Veronica. Again, like with Adam, it didn’t sound like joke she should join in on but a joke her expense instead.
Her real smile fell back to a crow-pleasing smile. “Well, I’m sorry to have interrupted, I think you were saying something about a family mausoleum on the grounds?” If she could get the conversation off her, she could slip back into the crowd maybe find Kurt or Tom or another of the local horrorphiles, even Jordan, to feel apart of a normal conversation. She looked around but couldn’t see anyone she recognized, even Adam had disappeared.
“Oh no, you won’t get away that easily,” Gregory Peabody laughed. “Tell us about you, what inspired you to start such morbid little group?” (reconsider morbid wc at a later date)
He towered over her so she had to look at his blazing (?!) blue eyes. “That’s not such an interesting story, really. I ran a horror themed blog for a long time and one day I found myself with more time and decided to put extra effort into building an audience.”
“One day, out of the blue?” he asked.
“Yup.” Then she thought her short but truthful answer was more curt and rude than she intended so she added, “I’m really don’t want to bore you with analytics and SEO’s and all that.”
The other people around kept looking back and forth between the two speakers. They didn’t engage, add, or try to change the subject. Her discomfort grew, she felt like a specimen under a microscope.
“So, you quit your day job and went . . . Internet. . .full-time?”
“Um, well, not exactly. I didn’t have a job.” She desperately tried to think of a topic to change to (seriously this is rough). “What about you? What did you do before . . . Retirement?” She had no real idea if he was retired or not but in none of their emails, or her emails with Adam actually she reminded herself, there had been no mention of work for either of them. She sort of assumed they lived off a trust like she did or some other family fortune.
“Well, once upon a time, I was an archaeologist, of sorts. I got to travel the world to remote civilizations and discovering long-forgotten artifacts, learning of rituals, particularly their death ceremonies and afterlife beliefs.” He didn’t take his eyes off hers as he spoke. The comforting sounds of the party around them had faded, like they were the only two people there. “Do you believe in an afterlife, Veronica?”
“I did, very strongly, for awhile,” She found herself saying. She actually wanted ignore the question, to ask hime something more about his travels, but somehow the wrong words came out. Now she was stuck explaining. “I tried over and over again to make contact with a spirit world. Eventually I gave up. And I stopped believing.”
“That’s a shame,” he said gravelly. “Then again, maybe a weekend at Greyson Manor will change your mind. This old house is so full of spirits, it’s nearly impossible not to make contact.” He laughed again, deep and jolly like a de-bearded Santa Claus.
Suddenly the crowd noise came to life again. Everyone around her was laughing, even she managed a fake one. Adam returned from now where with a drink for her and Gregory.
“It’s a manhattan, this time,” he whispered in her ear.
Gregory took a sip and continued, “But like I was saying, it’s no surprise to have spirits and haunts roaming the halls when you several large family mausoleums on the grounds to accommodate the great tragedy that seems to follow my family through out it’s history.”
Finally other people started to ask questions again, like the’d just woken up and Gregory Peabody’s attention moved back to his small audience instead of focused on Veronica. In fact, now it was like she’d disappeared from the circle and no one but Adam notice she was there.
“C’mon, you don’t want to hear this,” he said, gently taking her elbow. “Let’s mingle.”
She was a little annoyed that Adam kept finding a way to touch her, lead her around, and controlled what she did and didn’t do.
“Oh, hey, let me introduce you to some of my local fans,” she said, having finally spotted Kurt, Tom, Harry and Jordan near a buffet table.
Keep Reading: Part 11
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