“No,” said Victor. “I’ve been in here… I never saw this door.”
“No one did,” said Gary. “Everyone was so busy watching for vampire Arthur that they never checked here. Anyway, there are seven more rooms through here that are still cursed. They will be destroyed with the rest of the house.”
“More rooms?” Victor dragged his fingers over his eye and down his right cheek and shook his head. His eyes darted about, and his breathing quickened. “I can… I can do it,” he said. He nodded. “Yeah, I can do it.”
“Do what?” asked Gary. Victor grabbed the doorknob and pulled the door open. “Wait, no,” said Gary.
Victor stuck his head through the doorway and saw a long, narrow hall with doors on either side. Out of the shadows at the end of the passageway, a one-armed clown with an expressionless face beneath his smeared makeup pedalled furiously on a unicycle toward Victor. The clown sped down the hall, wailing like a lunatic and wielding a cheese grater the size of a barstool in his hand. Victor froze; the squeaking pedals spun beneath the clown’s oversized red shoes as the painted maniac cackled, “Time to grate the cheese!”
“Watch out!” commanded Gary, dragging Victor back from the door and slamming it shut.
Victor stood trembling. Behind the door the muffled voice of the clown called with a dopey chuckle, “Come and play with me, Gary!”
Gary’s face brightened with dazzling light. “Don’t be foolish, Victor,” he said. “The curse is over—get out of here!”
Victor took a deep breath. “No, it’s okay. It just caught me off guard. I’m ready now, I can finish the job.” He reached for the doorknob.
Gary laid his hand on Victor’s injured left shoulder; with a gagging cry of pain Victor fell to his knees. “You cannot go in there,” warned Gary. “You saw the clown—he will kill you. You have to leave.”
A loose timber board crashed down a few feet behind Victor. He doubled over, nursing his arm in its sling. “No,” he moaned. “I can do it.” He groaned through clenched teeth and raised himself to his feet. Sucking in deep breaths through his nose, he gave a defiant look, though his eyes were red and teary. “I have to go in there. I have to clear all the rooms. I can do it.”
A mix of curiosity and compassion came over Gary’s shining face. His voice became gentle. “The curse is defeated,” he said, “and you are free. Why would you stay?”
“Because I’m a Furbank, damn it! And a Furbank never quits.” A tear rolled down Victor’s cheek. His shoulders dropped. “A Furbank never quits.”
Gary tilted his head and peered at Victor with a faint smile. “Why not?”
Victor looked at Gary. He opened his lips, but no words came out.
A great roar came from the fireplace as a fireball spilled up toward the ceiling; a glassy explosion crashed from in the dining room; behind the hidden door the clown beckoned again in a goofy voice, “Come and play, Gary. I have a lollipop for you.”
Gary nodded. “I get it, Victor. But I want to go home. After fifty years the curse is finally broken, and I want to go.” He smiled and his face grew powerfully bright. “But I have instructions to see you safely out of this house before I go, so…”
Victor grit his teeth and shook his head. “You can go if you want, Gary. But I’m gonna finish what I started.”
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