ŋoises in the ŋight
Lockwood Manor loomed over me, and I stared up at it, feeling so utterly alone and small I could do nothing but appraise this bulking monstrosity of a house that I now called home. Tall arched windows looked down at me, the sun on their faces bright and blinding. Stone pillars guarded each corner of the house, stretching up to the slanted roof with its black ridged tiles that came to a point above what I supposed was a domed attic window. Double doors sat atop the steps at the front, shadowed by the bottom of a balcony that ran the length of the second floor.
I took it all in, standing in the house's cold shadow, and I rubbed my arms which had risen with bumps.
"A beauty, isn't she?" Edward Harrison, my father, said from beside me. I glanced quickly at him and then the manor, widening my eyes.
"Not exactly the word I'd use," I said. "Perhaps a looming pile of heartless stone? A cold rock prison? An ancient, ugly, hunk of mouldy plaster, spotted stone and moth-eaten carpet?" I looked to my father, who was giving me one of his 'Say One More Word, Just One…' looks, which I once would have been afraid of. As it was, I had grown out of being afraid of my father years ago, and now I just rolled my eyes. "Come on, pops," I said, motioning to the house with a wave of my hand. "Couldn't you and mum have chosen a place that wasn't so…I don't know…old and scary."
He was the one to roll his eyes this time. "Don't tell me you're afraid of a house, Alice." Raising a single eyebrow, I took it as a silent challenge.
"No, I was just saying maybe a place like this will give Harry nightmares." Staring up at the white house which seemed even larger and looming now that the sun was hidden behind clouds, I swallowed. "With all its big creepy windows and noises in the night. I bet it even has ghosts and stuff in the attic." I shivered despite my best attempts to seem unfazed.
Chuckling, my father slung an arm over my shoulders and started walking me to the door. "Well, you're going to have to play nice with the ghouls," he said, and at my confused face, he elaborated. "You're room's right up the top. In what you just called the 'attic'."
Quickly moving his arm from my shoulders and hurrying to the house, I stopped dead and gaped after him. "What?!"
When darkness had fallen and the night was howling with wind, I was upstairs, grumbling to myself about the world in particular. My room, as my father called it, was indeed in the attic. A rather dusty, dark and generally foreboding attic which I cast my eyes warily around. It had stopped now, but I swore I had just heard thumping, against the wall as if something was trying to get out. Or in.
"Here ghosty, ghosty, ghosty," I called, a slight waver in my voice. I shook a box of biscuits, peering into the darkness beyond my lamplight. "Don't eat me and I'll give you a cookie." When no transparent fiends jumped out at me, I relaxed back against my unmade bed, releasing a shaky breath. Boxes littered the floor around my feet, some open with socks and books hanging out, while others remained taped. I had yet to attempt to unpack, rather just pulling the things I needed for the night from boxes and putting off unloading everything until the morning.
Just last week, I had been happily enjoying a girl's night out with all my friends. I had lived in Sherington, went to Sherington High School, and had only been friends with Sherington townsfolk. But now, not seven days later, I was living in Norton, sitting in a creepy attic alone, had a total of ZERO friends and would be starting a brand new school in less than three days.
Fun? I think not. And yet every time I opened my mouth to politely explain to my parents that life would have been much more enjoyable in Sherington, they would stop me before I got a chance to speak and tell me off for whinging.
Whinging, me? Again, I think not. Dramatically enforcing my sadness and anger at leaving behind my entire life to start anew in a foreign town? I think so. How did my parents expect me to act when all I had ever known had been ripped out from beneath me and I was placed, practically a naked rabbit amongst a town full of fully clothed foxes?
Yes, so what if I liked over-exaggerating, but I had to! That's all I had left to do except unpack, and why would I willingly put myself through such torture?
Sighing, I flopped onto my back on the bed, staring at a ceiling riddled with cobwebs. I pushed Play on the remote control, closing my eyes to guard against my alien surroundings. Music washed over me and I let the stress melt from my bones.
'Go ahead as you waste your days with thinking
When you fall everyone stands
Another day and you've had your fill of sinking
With the life held in your
Hands are shaking cold
These hands are meant to hold'
By the time the next verse started, I was asleep in a restless slumber.
Uncle Alfred was on his back again. Something about marriage and parties. Nicholas briefly stopped throwing the ball against the wall, which he had been doing for the last hour, to think over his uncle's words.
He had certainly said something about marriage, of that Nicholas was certain. But marriage for whom? Definitely not him. He was too young, too restless. His uncle would not dare thrust something as atrocious as marriage upon him. Nicholas was not yet even of eighteen years!
Shuddering at the thought of life-imprisonment, he was about to continue throwing the ball against the wall when there was a knock at the door. Looking over at it, he frowned. What would He want?
"Yes?" Nicholas called, and a moment later, his Uncle was hovering in the doorway, scanning the room with an obvious scowl of distaste. It was true he lived in what was supposed the attic, but really, was that look really necessary? Nicholas had cleaned the place up in the few years he had been there. No longer was it covered in dust and spider's webs, but was clean and polished. The criss-crossing rafters on the steepled ceiling had been delicately wiped free of grime and were now a place he frequented to sit and read. Overall, Nicholas rather liked the room. With its large hard-wooden floor and its own voice when the wind crept up the long, spiralling stairs, he favoured it above all the other rooms in the Manor.
But it was not like he had a choice in the matter of rooming arrangements when he arrived. Being a heartbroken boy having just lost his parents, he had been too depressed to object when his Uncle had told him he was to live in the attic. At first, it had frightened Nicholas. The noises in the night had been foreign and sometimes so close to his ears he had huddled beneath the bed in fear until sleep had fallen, pervaded with tossing and turning.
But that had been two years ago and now he was older, wiser, more good-looking. He grinned to himself.
"What are you smirking at, boy?" Uncle Alfred barked and Nicholas immediately straightened his face.
"Nothing, Uncle," he said. "But did you need to speak with me?" He was not trying to be rude, but just the sight of the over-weight man and his bushy moustache made his insides writhe in disgust. Alfred stared at him with beady little dark eyes, finally snorting and shuffling further into the room. Nicholas could not prevent his lip curling. He dared to step into my room?
"Yes, boy, I did." He glared at the domed window for reasons Nicholas did not know and spoke while keeping his eyes across the room. "I have arranged for a Party here tomorrow month," he said sharply. "You are to present yourself in impeccable dress and manner. None of that cheek you show to me, and none of that ridiculous talk of music and other lowly forms of occupation. You are in my house, boy," he growled. Nicholas let his eyes betray none of the emotions he was feeling: anger, confusion, hate.
"Is there an occasion for the Party, Uncle?" he asked.
Alfred placed his eyes on him, all of their dark beadiness. "Have not you been listening, boy?"
Obviously not. "Sorry, I must have missed it."
"I have a name, you know," Nicholas said to himself, and then louder, "Marriage? Who is getting married?"
His Uncle's face was twisted in rage. Red splotches had appeared on his cheeks and neck, and Nicholas rather thought him a tomato. "I know you have a name!" He had heard. Shame, really, and Nicholas smiled again. "And it is your marriage!"
His smile vanished. "My marriage? Why, who am I marrying?"
"That's what the party is for, you insufferable child!" Boy was his Uncle getting angry. He was resorting to immature name-calling. "You are to choose a suitable wench to be your suitor, and when a certain amount of time has passed, you will wed her!"
Nicholas immediately rose to his feet, clenching his fists. "Why don't you say my name?" He growled. "Only then will I speak to you properly and not such like an 'insufferable child.'" Nicholas was pushing his boundaries but Alfred was infuriating him. His Uncle's face coloured even more, purple rising on his neck and in his cheeks.
They appraised each other, both angry. Nicholas calm yet internally steaming. His Uncle greatly resembling a vegetable and cat; all purple and red and hissing profanities. Finally, Alfred growled and Nicholas knew he had won.
"Fine then!" Alfred spat. "You will choose a girl at this party, Nicholas, a girl who has wealthy parents to which you will become entitled to when you marry her."
Coldly, he stared at him. "No."
"What?" Alfred barked savagely, his eyes bright and crazy. "You dare say 'No' to me? You disregard all I have done for you; I took you into my house, I fed you and clothed you, when I could have left you for the orphan you are out in the street! Ungrateful whelp!"
"I am not disregarding all that you have done for me, Uncle," Nicholas said, his voice still calm but breaking with the fury he was feeling. "I am merely saying, No, I will not just choose a girl to wed just because you have said so. When I do marry, if ever, it will be to someone I love, not someone of wealth or position or power, or someone you choose for me. I am glad for what you have given me and I have done everything you have asked of me, but this, Uncle, I cannot do."
Suddenly, his Uncle was right in front of him, in all his red and purple glory. He was right up in Nicholas's face but he refused to back down. "You will choose a girl. And you will do it at the Party." Alfred paused. "Because if you do not, I can make you life with me very uncomfortable."
"How, Uncle, how will you do that?"
"You like this room, do you not? I can make you sleep in the broom closet if you refuse to do as I say." He glanced at the dresser, on which Nicholas's more personal items were scattered. His lips twisted into a feral smile. "And those photographs of your parents? You care for them, do you not?" The younger male's heart skipped a beat and Nicholas, too, looked at the pictures. His mother and father, poised in a moment of everlasting bliss. Their wedding day. "I can destroy them, as well as all other reminder of their presence in this house, in your miserable life. I can take them from you forever, and they will be lost." Alfred stepped closer so all he could smell was his putrid breath. Nicholas took pleasure in the fact that he was at least a foot taller than his uncle, though Alfred was at least three feet wider than him. Narrowing his eyes, Nicholas stared him down. "Do not test me, boy."
And with that, he spun on his heel and stalked from the room. He slammed the door at his back, sending the walls rattling. Dust sprinkled down from the ceiling and Nicholas released a long, shaky breath. He sat back on his bed, staring at the door for a few moments and then the photographs of his parents. They had been killed in an automobile accident, leaving Nicholas alone in the world with none to turn to.
Sighing, he stretched back on the bed, staring blankly at the ceiling as the night outside the house howled. Calm descended once again and just as he was beginning to spiral into slumber, Nicholas heard the most distractingly beautiful sound. Music. Faintly sounding through the room. He sat up heart thumping, but it was already gone.
Squinting about the attic, he sighed once again. He was alone, like all the times before, and no matter how many people he had around him, no matter the words spoken to console, he knew he would always be Nicholas Lockwood, orphan and alone. For ever.
a/n: ok. this has been stuck in my head for a while, so i thought i'd get it out by posting it. i mostly continue on feedback. meaning, if at least a couple people are reviewing, i'll keep writing. i don't see a point in writing if no one's reading, at least a story i'm completely obsessed on. lol. so, yeah, review if you wanna read more. i have the next chapter already done, and have ideas for the one after that. so they should be easy to write. next update next week. thanks!
oh, and the lyrics aren't mine. they belong to the all-american rejects. thanks!
and i edited this chapter since i posted it. first, i had nick's POV in first person as well. but it was confusing. so it's now in third person. if you see any traces of the first person (i's, me's, us, etc) please let me know! thanks!
AND another note (7.1.07) this story isn't set in any particular place or time. its not a "real world" place. meaning, some aspects of our life and reality aren't present in theirs. nothing major. im just mentioning this so the fact that nick's inheritiance is given to him at 18 instead of 21. i hadnt had him set in england or anything. it was just a place. not a "real world" place, not "real world" facts. so, yeah. heh. any questions just drop them in a review. thanks.