It took awhile for Jim to regain his senses. The dusk had settled. There was nothing left to do but head for shelter. The thought that terrified him most was that anything was possible.
He kept feeling himself pulled along by strange tides. All those insane suggestions he’d just drunk from a firehose, were threatening to hypnotize him, to leave him tethered gawking and exposed in the strange wilderness.
It was odd how quickly the pleasure of the mountains turned to terror. The fear that Jim felt was not corporeal. Bodily harm was the least of his troubles.
The thing that worried him was that there was no safety. There were no absolutes. The only reality was flux, self-referential, unoriginate, and eternal. He bit his lip.
This steadied him somewhat. Awareness shifted from yawning abysses to the delightfully familiar cicada song. The approaching evening was cool. The change in temperature helped orient him to reality and he trudged homeward.
Something seemed amiss upon approach. Caution seeped into his limbs as the anomaly was slowly drawn from his subconscious.
The door was slightly ajar. All traces of wonder vanished in an instant as the sobering caution of self-preservation took hold. Jim’s footfalls became stealthy as his ears grew keen.
While memory proved foggy the probability that he’d left the cottage permeable was low. The reptile brain had complete mastery now, and he treated the situation like one of his burglaries. Flanking the wall, he soon found his suspicion well founded.
Audible but unintelligible, faint traces of conversation reached his ears. There was also an odor. A familiar odor. The odor of a peculiar cigar.
Broad footfalls resounded as the door swung inward and a giant with a hot cherry emerged.
“For Gods sake, boy, would you get inside. You just walked across several thousand yards of open meadow. And now you think you’re Seal Team Ten.”
The voice was as unmistakable as the commanding height from which it came.
The sardonic profile of Jonas Luckadoo was revealed by the waxing glow of a cigar puff. Jim was too astonished to speak.
But not for long.
Annoyance found his tongue for him. “How the hell did ya get in my house?”
“Is that any way to greet a friend?”
“Friends don’t usually break into friend’s houses.”
Jim shook his head and grimaced his displeasure with the banter.
Just as he was about to speak another body, comically small in contrast to that of Luckadoo, energetically crossed the threshold.
“If it isn’t the fool.” Came another unmistakable voice.
Lizzy seemed to have made a full recovery. He could feel the strange wizened energy that radiated from the crane-necked crone even at a distance.
“To what do I owe this displeasure?” Jim inquired as he realized how Luckadoo had gained access to the cottage.
“We thought you could use some company.”
“Couldn’t you wait on the porch like normal people?”
“This is my house.” Lizzy answered defiantly.
“Then how come I live here?”
“Cause you got the blood. But I’m tellin’ ya, I got the deed.”
“Well, there does seem to be a reason I’m here. So as far as I see it I live here. And while I live here I’d appreciate it if you didn’t just traipse through my living room.”
“Don’t you have questions?”
“Yeah…I already asked them.”
“So, you want to know why we’re here?”
“After all that you’ve seen, the question you have to ask is why your friends popped round? You’re an odd sort aren’t you?”
Jim nodded again.
“Well, I just don kir whether you’re curious or not. Fools gotta be forcefed at times.” Lizzy said as she shot down the stairs and dragged Jim inside by the ear.
Header Image Source – https://www.videoblocks.com/video/man-in-a-dark-room-smoking-a-cigar-rk7-j4bimrsdie0
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