Summary: A dream?
None of the subsequent events would have happened if Mike had not wakened up that night. But he did. And that night, just as the previous nights, his sleep was plagued with dreams - a recurring dream that was not entirely pleasant, but it was not quite a nightmare yet.
In the dream he would be standing in a hall against a wall. The hall was huge enough to be occupied by a hundred people standing side by side. But he had no memory whether there were any people other then himself. Besides, the place was so hazy as if draped by layers of thick gray mists - just as all his dreams did - and he couldn't see clearly further than his outstretched arm. He would walk away from the wall towards the centre of the hall, and the mist would part before him. A few paces later he would then stop.
There before him was a dark figure - a sitting figure that was facing away from him. It wore strange bygone garments that proclaimed him as a boy. His long curly brown hair was tied neatly with a red ribbon. He was dressed in a dark tailored coat that reached down precisely to his knees, a pair of woolen gloves and polished leather boots. He shoulders hunched slightly as he looked down at the tall felt hat resting on his laps, his fingers stroking listlessly around the brim of the hat. Next to him on the chair was a short walking stick.
The boy then suddenly straightened his shoulders. He tilted his head a little as if hearing a distant sound. He stood up abruptly, almost knocking the chair over. He raised his hands to his chests in a useless defense, a hat in a hand and the walking stick in the other. He whirled around to face Mike, his coat flipping gracefully in the air. His lustrous lips moved to soundless words. Yet those wide piercing green eyes were not focused on him. Mike had this silly thought of introducing himself and reaching his hand out for a formal handshake. However caught by the urgency in the boy he, too, turned to look.
And he would then wake up with a start.
'Another shit...' he groaned, rubbing a sweaty palm over his face.
With his hand still on his forehead he took several deep breaths to try to calm his chaotic mind and his thundering heart. He thought of nothing but that vague memory of the boy in his dreams. Who he is? He thought. He was sure that he had not in his long sixteen uneventful years seen this guy before. But, ah, those green eyes…
Drenched in perspiration, his night shirt was clinging most uncomfortably against his back and armpits. He sighed and rolled to his side, kicking away the crumbled blankets which had managed to tangle his legs. Yet the quiescent air in the room did little to cool, and wrinkling his nose he was aware that he stank in his sweat
He visualized his room behind closed eyes. A full-size mirror hung on the back of the door. Photographs of different sizes and pictures from magazines were attached along the sides of the glass, framing the mirror with a splash of colors. A desk stood at the further corner of the room. There on the desk was his hand-me-down laptop and other essential stationeries. His shoes and his various sport gears were all gathered under his bed. He smiled to himself as he thought of his simple wardrobe that stood forlornly by the bed - most of his clothes were left clustering around the floor.
Yawning, he rolled to his other side. Sleepiness claimed his barely refreshed mind. It was still around the early hours of the morning, judging from the darkness in his room. Besides it was a Saturday, meaning that he could sleep through the day and not be bothered by his sister banging on his door to wake him up. This was when he heard the muted sound of someone playing the piano. It was not loud enough to rouse a slumbering being. And he could certainly have missed it if he was sleeping.
There was only one musical instrument in this house: a grand piano - and a very ancient one. His grandfather had newly bought it form an auction. And ever since the first day it was brought into the house the old man had treated it like a treasure. He would keep it jealously locked in a room and the key he would carry in his pocket. Only during the Fridays and Sundays he would then unlock the room, proudly displaying the instrument - and the other miscellaneous antiques besides - to visiting relatives and guests.
The digital clock read 1:06am. Who in his sanity would choose to perform in the wee hours of the morning? He thought of only one possibility: his grandfather. So had the long idle years mould the old man to madness? Nevertheless he opened his eyes and stilled his breath as he struggled to catch that faint music: the melody delicate and the harmony elegant, the tones weaving beautifully into one touching theme, filling his senses like the incessant ocean waves.
The final chord echoed in his mind as he sat up from his bed, strangely feeling refreshed. He reached up a hand to wipe a tear from his eye, equally surprised at his reaction towards the music - he never thought that his grandfather was such a great pianist. Well there was one way to find out if it really was his grandfather, he thought. And he would not have believed it if he had not seen it with his own eyes. So, hardly registering the sweat-induced adhesive shirt against his back, he climbed down from his bed and headed for the door.
The pianist was just about to play a new piece of music when Mike reached the antechamber on the first floor. He stood undecided at the top of the stairs and looked at the closed door - the door that led to the room where the grand piano was kept - at the far end of the hall. Would he interrupt if he knocked at the door? Or, he gulped hesitantly, would his grandfather tolerate an unsolicited audience? Being a duke of the state his grandfather was quite well known for his odd behavior - just two months ago he had willingly spend more then half of his fortune just to buy that useless piano from the auction.
Well it's not that useless after all, he thought while listening to the music. And he had this bizarre thought that, though he was now standing next the door, the sound of the piano remained hushed as if he was hearing it in his mind rather then with his ears.
'What are you doing here?'
He heart leaped to his throat at the sudden sound. Removing his hand from the ivory doorknob, he spun around and came face to face with his sister. 'Selena!' he exclaimed, quickly recovering from shock. He lifted his head, attempting to look at her down from his nose, but failing miserably - his elder sister was at least five inches taller than him. 'And what are you doing here?' he asked in bravado, trying not feel intimated by her height.
'A drink,' she answered, proving herself by lifting a glass of water. 'It is warm today. And I thought a short leisurely walk around the house would ease my mind and make an easier sleep. You see, my stupid finals are approaching and yet…why am I telling you this? Anyway, you are lucky that grandpa isn't here to see you sneaking around like a thief.' She studied her brother with disapproving eyes. 'Why are you drenched and…'
'He is not here?' he interrupted.
'Yes, he is not.' She said, sipping from the glass. 'Grandpa has gone to a friend's place to attend a garden party yesterday. He will not be coming back until this evening.'
He frowned. 'So did you hear it?' he asked.
'Someone is playing the piano,' he said slowly.
'You must be kidding. No one in this house knows to play the piano. It is locked in the room and only grandpa has the key. There isn't a spare, and neither his secretary nor his personal assistance has it.' She turned and walked down the stairs. 'I am going to sleep now. Good night! Dammed I hate exams but I just can't wait to enter college…' Her voice trailed behind the empty hallway.
Ignoring her ramblings he turned his attention back to the door and tried for the doorknob: it was locked. He pressed his ear against the polished wooden door, trying to catch a hint of a sound. But there was now none. His sister was right: there was no one in the room. Not to mention there was no someone playing the piano. Had he imagined everything?
A/N: I know I should be working on the previous ones. Anyway this story is short, hopefully, and I will finish this before continuing the others.