From the hall, he entered the fireplace room and took his preferred, non-reflection-casting route to the dining room, where he hurriedly closed the door on the pursuing vampire. It was peaceful in the dining room. He went to the table, pulled out a seat and sat down. After a long look around at the room’s stylish arrangement, he wiped the dust from one of the plates on the table, and then wiped a knife and fork. “I think I’ll sit in here for lunch.” He stood up and replaced the chair. “Huh, who knows? It might make the food taste better.” As he stepped back from the table his foot came down on something rubbery and he stumbled. There was a muffled crunch as Victor tried to keep his footing. His foot slid forward and he fell back onto the carpet.
At his feet the lost python lay injured.
“Oh no, sorry buddy,” said Victor, scrambling to its aid.
It was too late. The snake lived, but just barely. It seemed when Victor had slipped he broke the creature’s spine, halfway along its body, leaving it twisted and paralysed. Now the python laid there, borne on the shoulders of a thousand velvety strands, with nothing to do but flick its tongue and await death. Victor examined the scaly patient, and tried to help it move, but it was useless. He sat cross-legged on the floor beside it and sighed.
“You took a bullet for me,” he said. “Or a billiard ball at least. I can’t just leave you there.” He climbed to his knees. “It’s for the best,” he explained to the snake.
He stood up and raised his right knee, and then slammed the hard, unforgiving sole of his shoe down upon the snake’s skull. Job done. Victor stepped back, looked down at the flattened reptile head, and gave a respectful nod.
As he watched, gold sparkles blinked here and there on the snake’s scales, increasing like tiny, bright raindrops splashing down until they covered its entire back. With a flash the sparkling ceased, and the snake was gone. Light shone and intensified from the open kitchen door to Victor’s left. He watched it curiously for a second, and then gasped.
“Oh no!” He ran toward it. “Wait!”
The light burst in scintillating glory, and then, just as Victor dived through the doorway, it vanished. Victor skidded on the tiles in a bruising landing, and jumped to his feet. The room was dim, lit by a solitary fat candle on the counter.
“Damn it!” he yelled. “I missed it. The one good thing about being stuck here, and I missed it.” He sat on the floor and hung his head.
After a minute or two of moping he nodded and stood back up. “Come on,” he said to himself. “It’s not so bad. At least there’s no curse in here anymore.” His eyes lit up. “No more curse!”
He ran to the refrigerator and almost tore the door from its hinges, but then reeled back and covered his mouth and nose. The bowl of Brussels sprouts was no longer in the fridge, but what had replaced it was even less appetising. Black and green mould covered most of the items inside and sections of the walls, like a thick coat of fur. The bottom shelf displayed shrunken black nuggets, probably vegetables, like relics in a museum. Burst empty shells filled the egg tray. Something that looked as though it may have been crisp and leafy long ago now lay half-liquefied and set like jelly, amid a collection of festering jars more suited to the laboratory of a mad scientist. Victor kicked the door shut and hunched over, retching.
“Oh man… that’s disgusting.”
He went to the pantry. He took a handkerchief from his pocket and used it to cover his mouth, as if he were a television show detective about to enter week-old murder scene that had just been discovered. He pulled back the door. With a sigh of relief he re-pocketed the handkerchief and stepped into the wide pantry. Like the fridge it was a mould farm, but not as grotesque. The stench was unpleasant but bearable. He looked up at the full but decayed stash of food.
“No Spam at least,” he said. “But is there anything edible?”
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