“Bloody bullies,” said Victor. He walked up to the stone fence. “Don’t worry, your glasses landed on the grass. They’re not broken. I’ll get them for you.” In the middle of the fence there was a wide iron gate in front of the driveway. He put his hand on the top rail.
A spine-chilling shriek pierced Victor’s ears and he swung around; the girl was running toward him. She grabbed him by the arm and dragged him back onto the street. When they were a good distance from the fence she let go and looked up at him. Her hands trembled, her eyes were wide with horror.
“D… Don’t go in there, M… Mister,” she pleaded between sobs. “Really, they’re… they’re just stupid old glasses. I don’t need them. Just… Just don’t go in there. Don’t go in there… Please.”
She backed away from Victor, then turned and ran off.
“Good grief,” said Victor. He looked back at the mansion in disturbed wonder. The glasses lay on the grass, just inside the fence.
Victor paced back and forth in front of the gate. He placed his hand on it again, preparing to open, but then stopped. He started walking back down the hill, but then turned around and came back. The light was fading. Finally he stopped in front of the gate, his hands on his hips, and muttered in frustration, “They’re perfectly good glasses. You can’t leave them there.” He opened the gate enough to slip through, and walked onto the property.
Victor walked quickly, his eyes fixed on the glasses. He reached the spot where they lay, and glanced up at the house. It was immense, regal, yet as dark and lifeless as every other house on the street. He crouched and picked up the glasses. As he stood and looked at the house again a light came on in an upper window. Victor remained still. For five minutes he stood there, watching for movement in the house, but seeing none. He turned and walked back to the gate, and as he laid his hand on it he heard from up at the house a muffled banging. Three knocks. Victor turned and looked; the light in the window went out. A long, uncertain moment he waited. He looked at his hand on the gate, and at the empty street, and at the town of Stork down below. Among the lights now illuminating the town he spotted the pink neon glow of his motel’s sign. Victor looked from the motel to the mansion, and from the mansion to the motel. He tapped his fingers on the rail.
Victor placed the girl’s glasses on the fence, and then turned and began walking up the driveway. Tiny stones crunched beneath his steps. It was a long, steep march, and by the time he made it to the top the last traces of sunset had retired, leaving the sky in clear, starry darkness. The entrance to the mansion was flanked by two stone pillars, standing like royal guards, and in passing between them Victor realised how imposing the house was. The porch underfoot was a mosaic of coloured paving stones leading up to the front door, which was as mighty as the gates of Troy, and as ornate as Solomon’s Temple. Victor took a moment to admire it. He raised his fist to knock, but then a heavy click came from within, followed by the grating slide of a stiff bolt. The door opened.
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