My grand uncle, or something like that, died on Sunday. I barely remember him, and then only as a fuzzy, half-dreamed sort of remembrance. He was some sort of eccentric traveler, though I only know that from his will.
His will. That was unexpected. Though I’ve got cousins upon cousins, and surely some are related to the man, somehow I became the sole inheritor of his estate. According to the lawyer, whom I’ve just seen today, it’s nothing exorbitant, just a house with its contents and acreage, an ancient Rolls Royce that’s seen better days, and a bank account with less than twenty-thousand dollars. Fortunately, the old-timer left no debts for me to scurry and pay off.
The lawyer gave me the keys to the house and the car before I left, along with a copy of uncle’s will, with instructions to visit the manor before I decide to liquidate. I suppose the madman must have thought I’d fall in love with his drafty old pile of sticks and march right along to his wishes. Ha!
Well, I do suppose it wouldn’t hurt to take a look. After all, my distant relative was supposedly some sort of collector. He certainly traveled quite often, to many distant and unheard of lands. I owe it to myself, and him, I suppose, to at least go see what trinkets and baubles he may have collected over the years.
I’m a bit spooked, I don’t mind saying. I’ve just turned off the main road onto the long, winding, tree-canopied lane that leads to uncle’s house, and the mid-afternoon sunlight has suddenly dimmed, to near twilight levels. On the highway, I’d begun to fear someone was following me, but I see no one now. My imagination has gone haywire since I found out about my newfound inheritance.
The lane is quite long, nearing two miles, I’d say, although it is hard to tell since it winds so. Ah, the house, I can see it, now, looming above the trees ahead. It seems to be an old Victorian style, quite gothy in its architecture. Doesn’t help much that it’s painted a dreary grey-ish purple color, with a deep grey trim. Uncle apparently loved the dramatic.
No matter, the sun is shining much more brightly now that I’ve emerged from the tree lined lane. No lights on, of course. My globe-trotting relative died in while in some African country, so there’s been no one here to bother with lights. The deadbolt lock is surprisingly quiet and smooth. It appears quite new.
No dust. Anywhere. That’s surprising, as the lawyer had said that uncle was gone for over a month on this journey. Either the house was much more well-built than I’d imagined, or someone has been here, at least to clean, in the last month. I must find the man’s ledgers, probably in his office, to discover who his housekeeper is and where to find her. She must be made aware of the eccentric’s death and his bequeathal of all to me.
I’ll start my perusal here, on the ground floor, in what must be the parlor. Antique chairs, in a state barely above shabby, a few pitted hardwood tables, a pair of Tiffany lamps, gaudy as can be, all together should raise a few dollars for me. But nothing important, really, so on to the formal dining room I go….
All in all, not such a bad start for my inheritance day. I’ve found several things that could be sold. Collectors adore such trinkets as I’ve found. The downstairs rooms are a small mine that will support my lifestyle even better than the pittance that the dreary old man left in his bank ledger.
Upstairs, I warrant, is where his office will be. The servant’s stairs, just to the left of me here, will allow me to access the back of the house and then I’ll work my way forward to the grand staircase.
Hmmm, I swear I heard footsteps, creaking along on the floorboards below. Ah, well, must be my imagination. I know I wasn’t followed, and who would, besides? I’m only allowing the air of the house to cloud my mind. Work to do, continue on!
Aha! I’ve found the old-timer’s office. His ledgers were indeed inside the massive oaken desk, along with diaries of his travels. Most peculiarly, there was one with my name written upon it in a spidery hand. I’m in need of a rest, so there’s no better time than now to read what the loon had to say to, and about, me.
Dear God! Indeed, poor uncle was mad. Werewolves? Silver bullets? What nonsense!
Was that a howl?
I did remember to close and lock the front door, didn’t I?