So I’ve talked about my first book a little bit but I’ve never posted bits of it on here. That’s going to change today.
Below is the scene where the novel’s main character, 19th century English aristocrat Emma Collins, has her first… ahem… encounter… with this eccentric (possibly even insane?) man. He turns out to be the only one who will be able to help her rid those pesky demons trying to devour her soul. 🙂
Ambrosius’ shanty house was at the end of a quiet, dark road. Emma couldn’t believe someone lived inside as it was obviously in serious disrepair. There were weeds growing out of large cracks in the front walls. Tiles hung perilously on the edge of the roof. What few windows the building had were stained dark brown with age and dirt.
A crow perched on the nearby tree was screeching incessantly, as if surprised to see another creature enter its space.
Emma nervously knocked on the door, scrunching her nose at the dust and dirt that fell off the entryway as she did so. She heard a pattering of wood floors from the inside before the ancient door squeaked open so loudly Emma winced.
Behind the entry stood a strange man. Emma couldn’t guess his age for the life of her. He had striking silver slicked-back hair that reminded her of grandmother’s prized knives and forks. His forehead was very slightly wrinkled, yet his eyes were bright blue and lacked the haze that betrayed age. His face was perfectly clean-shaven, which highlighted his plump, almost childish cheeks and slender jaw line. He was tall and lanky, standing straight and proud, as if not a bone in his body had ever been weak. But despite his seeming youth, Emma felt he was ancient.
It took her a moment to notice another odd feature. It was as if his skull had been placed in a mold that elongated the top, which stretched out about two inches longer than a normal head would. The shape resembled that of an egg: with the pointed part serving as his chin and the bigger end as the top of his skull.
He examined her for a moment.
“Such an innocent looking girl, you must be Emma,” he noted in a disarmingly musical voice. “I’m Ambrosius, your grandmother’s oldest friend.”
That couldn’t be. There’s something ancient about his demeanor, but there’s no way he could be as old or older than Grandmother, she thought.
Her awkward pause didn’t dissuade Ambrosius in the slightest. He grabbed Emma’s hand and led her into the dusty entryway.
“I apologize for the parlor, I haven’t had a maid in ages and gods know I can’t clean for the life of me!” He giddily laughed as he brushed some dust from one of the tattered red velvet parlor chairs. “Please, sit and make yourself comfortable. I’m interested to see what this painting looks like!”
The newly-dusted chair squeaked as Emma sat down. She placed the covered canvas on the table in front of her.
“Would you like some tea? Oh no, I just realized I’m all out,” he sighed. “I have some lovely wine, let me get you a cup!”
Ambrosius excitedly raced out of the room, leaving Emma confused and slightly disoriented. Something about the house made her dizzy, as if the atmosphere was heavier and full of something more than just air. It vaguely reminded her of the time she stood atop a mountain in Scotland.
She took a moment to drink in her surroundings. The small room that served as a parlor seemed to have been abandoned for decades, with its rotting walls slowly being stripped of their faded red paper. Emma jumped when she noticed a small mouse peeking out of a hole in the far corner.
The chairs, which seemed to have been quite lavish long ago with their gilded gold hand rests and (albeit rotting) green velvet, looked as if they would collapse at any moment, their legs covered with dangerously deep cracks.
Emma looked down at the floor, which was draped in a large rotting red carpet with a faded green foliage pattern. How could anyone live like this?
A low wooden table sat before her. It was engraved with beautifully intricate designs that reminded Emma of the Egyptian symbols she saw at the Museum of London. Though there was some obvious wear-and-tear on it as well, it hadn’t fared as poorly as the other furniture.
The most intriguing object in the room sat atop the table. It was made of crystal and carved in the shape of a human skull. Though grotesque to Emma’s delicate eyes, she couldn’t help but be fascinated, almost hypnotized by it.
“I found this wine in a lovely little village near Paris,” Ambrosious exclaimed as he bounded into the room with an energy befitting a five-year-old. “It’s the best I’ve ever tasted!”
He set the wine and two crystal glasses down on the engraved table, opening the bottle with an exaggerated grandeur, as if this motion was the most important thing anyone had accomplished in the history of humanity.
“Here you go, prepare to have your life changed forever!” He exclaimed as he carefully handed a cup to Emma.
She was slightly nervous to drink it, as this man was clearly an eccentric and if the wine was anything like the rest of his living conditions, her life would certainly not be changing for the better.
But politeness decreed that she drink, and drink she did. The red liquid was strong, almost harsh at first. It bit at her throat like a snake. But inviting warmth quickly replaced the sting, and Emma was left enjoying the drink’s sweet aftertaste.
“Good, isn’t it?” He asked.
She nodded as she took another sip.
“Now let’s take a look at this painting,” Ambrosious sang as he picked up the canvas and untied the strap holding its fabric covering.
He looked at the painting very closely for nearly five minutes, eyes squinting in serious, critical thought as he stroked his chin. He put his ear to it, as if listening to its whispered story. Then he turned and smelled it. Emma began to fidget uncomfortably when the man stuck his tongue out to lick it.
He silently backed away and stared, eyes wide and shaking, mouth open as if he was about to scream for his life. He looks terrified.
“This is lovely!” He cried. Emma jumped. “Where shall I put such a masterful masterpiece? I must find a place that will truly do it justice!”
Ambrosius began dancing about the room with it as if embroiled in a passionate waltz with the love of his life. Emma simply stared in confusion. The painting wasn’t one of her best; it was a simple landscape with a few sheep grazing on a far-off hill.
Suddenly Ambrosious closed his eyes tightly. His face grew dark as he breathed in deeply and clenched his fists. Emma didn’t know why- she’d never experienced anything like this before- but she felt the air begin to grow thicker, almost menacing. Her heart started racing. She was about to inquire about his changed disposition when he suddenly opened his eyes wide and smiled.
“Oh, it’s getting late my dear, you better start heading home before nightfall!” He exclaimed, opening the door widely and ushering her outside.
The door slammed shut behind her. She turned around and looked back at the house. She was extraordinarily befuddled by the event that just transpired. Who was this ridiculous man and how did her grandmother know him?
It wasn’t until she was halfway back home when she realized she hadn’t said a word to Ambrosious during the entire visit.
And now I’m off to write about an Amish girl being abducted by aliens 🙂