Gary chuckled and poked Victor with his finger, giving a jovial, “Boop.” Victor fell back and sprawled on the floor. Gary stood over him and grinned. “Time to go, Victor.” He nudged Victor with his foot and sent him flying across the floor like a hockey puck. When Victor crashed into the wall on the other side of the room, Gary was there waiting for him, He hoisted Victor to his feet as easily as picking up a towel from the floor, opened the nearby door, and shoved him into the hall at the entry to the mansion.
Victor stumbled in, with Gary guarding close behind. The hall was just as it had been when Victor entered the mansion two days prior—dozens of paintings lined the walls. Victor and Gary both stopped and stared. The last picture frame, the one that had been empty when Victor walked in, now contained a portrait. Hanging there, in soft watercolours, was a handsome representation of the rat upon which the beast had choked during Victor’s first night in the mansion. Victor and Gary looked at each other. “It was the rat,” they said in unison.
Gary marched Victor up the hallway to the imposing and formerly inescapable front door of the mansion. It had a doorknob now. The floor shook with the rumbling of demolition. Gary patted Victor on the back. “Go now, Victor.”
Victor stood still. “A Furbank never quits,” he said, his head hanging low.
Gary reached past him, turned the doorknob, and pushed open the huge, creaking door. “Quitting or not, you can’t stay in this house.”
Victor turned around and faced him, lost in a hundred unfamiliar thoughts. “I, uh… I left my keys…”
“Hang on,” said Gary. He disappeared for a second, then reappeared holding Victor’s wallet and keys in his hands. “Here,” he said, shoving them into Victor’s pockets. “Oh, here—” he slid Victor’s phone into his jacket pocket “—I took your phone. I didn’t know what it was at first. Phones were different in when I was a kid. And one more thing.” He stuffed another item into the pocket. “Now go.”
Victor stood dazed for a second, then nodded. A mighty crash thundered from back in the fireplace room. He turned and took a step out the door, then turned back to Gary. “If I quit…”
Gary grabbed Victor by the shirt collar and lifted him of the ground. “You’ll be fine.” He smiled, and light saturated him until his face could no longer been seen.
From the doorstep he hurled Victor out over the vast lawn in front of the mansion. Victor flew low above the slope before crashing and tumbling at the bottom of the hill and skidding to a stop by the stone fence. By an incredible stroke of luck, or perhaps an unseen guiding hand, his forceful ejection from the property did not aggravate his injuries. He sat up—muddied, bloodied, suit torn and twisted—and looked up at the monstrous house. A head popped over the fence: it was the girl whose glasses Victor had retrieved before venturing into the mansion. “It’s you!” she said.
An apocalyptic rumble shook the hill and the mansion fell like the walls of Jericho. In seconds the stately building was levelled to a vast pile of debris; around the grounds the trees and flowers immediately sprouted into a small jungle, while rust and decay consumed every man-made thing. Over the destruction a peaceful stillness settled. The girl climbed over the fence and stood beside Victor. “Is it finished?” she said.
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