Chapter: Kyle and Adriana

Entry: Sep 28, 2007

410 Snarlborough was a looming monstrosity of jumbled gables tiered asymmetrically around a central spindle rising high above the street; a watchtower over Tammond Dale. Though it was dark, Kyle found the staggering array of colors adorning every crossbeam, shingle, and intricately carved post, practically blinding. Evergreen and cobalt siding overlapped in shimmering scales as befitting a dragon. Brilliant amethyst molding framed and exaggerated sweeping lines and capped the spire like a lance polished with fresh gore. The house bore every color of rose, sparingly spread into nooks and embossed engravings to deepen its already magnificent presence.

It gleamed like a rippling lake, fluid and freshly detailed. Even compared to the sprawling and somewhat immodest Cape Cod Kyle called home, this was an epic mansion. Kyle wondered why he didn't notice it before: its presence through town was like a bursting explosion of fireworks over Antarctica.

For want of a sore thumb, the manse stood out harshly: an ornate broadsword driven into Tammond Dale's waxy flesh.

Kyle crept up the glass-like stairs, past two fiercely realistic griffins, a porch-swing that barely obstructed seemingly acres of covered decking, and finally reached a heavy lilly-yellow door.

Kyle knocked and immediately wished he hadn't; a slab of solid marble would be less dense. What did they make this thing out of, petrified redwood? He winced and shook his hand, wondering if anyone possibly heard the meager rap of his knuckles on the other side.

He was unhappily considering another attempt when a muffled clinking sound spilled from the massive doorhandle. When someone inside wrestled the door open, it emitted a mournful groan that reverberated through Kyle's feet, ringing him like a gong. From that kind of ominous tone, Kyle half expected a stream of bats to squeak and escape into the sunset.

Instead, Adriana's face peeked through the widening gap, barely blocking a brightly-lit foyer larger than Kyle's livingroom, a four-layer crystal chandelier flooding the porch; an overturned nova trickling past the street. "Ouch!" he yelped, holding out his right hand to shade his eyes.

Adriana looked mortified. "Oh! I'm sorry Kyle! I must have forgotten the porch light again!" She did something inside and two enclosed lanterns perched atop the door's crown molding blazed into life. "Give it a second before you come in," she suggested.

So much light! Pained tears dribbled down his face and blurred his squint to abstract absurdity. But it was an old dance Kyle performed every night when using the bathroom: turn on the light, stagger in bleary misdirection, miss the bowl, clean it up later. Without the bathroom, lurking on the porch was warped bliss.

Massaging his throbbing eyes with his hand, he blinked away the obscuring moisture and nodded. God! Finally! "Where to?" he asked, waving his history book.

"I'll give you the tour after dinner," whispered Adriana. "Mama is almost done cooking, and Papa's a little leery about our intent to study." She closed the door behind Kyle and directed a timid glance at the curved stairway, any visible doors around the foyer, and confronted with a distinct lack of parents, relaxed. "They're a little protective," she explained. "But you're new, and we're studying, so there's nothing to worry about."

Mama and Papa? Kyle wasn't sure if she was talking about her parents worrying, or him. The place was like a brightly-lit tomb, furnished with overseers directing jealous stares and thirsty whips at misbehaving prisoners. Suddenly the wisdom of Kyle's plan—of infiltrating Adriana's house in search of clues concerning Dr. Z's cryptic warning—lacked substance.

What have I gotten myself into? he puzzled.

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