Rob didn't know whether to be disappointed or relieved when he arrived home to find his building looked exactly the same. The front door still rotted in its hinges, lock long ago punched out and left lying by the path. Inside the narrow foyer, it still stank of damp and festered carpet. The stairs were still dilapidated and scuffed, long, ballooning loops of water stains garnished the walls and the door to the flat on the first floor was still riddled with chips and dents from the times it had been kicked in by tenants long past.
Just as Rob had written off the whole evening's experience as an exhausted delusion, he stepped onto the cleanest, thickest carpet he had ever seen, and looked up to see a most shocking sight. Where the second flight of stairs stemmed from the first, leading up to Rob's shambolic flat, everything was changed. Rich, dark gold carpet, immaculately placed, coated the stairs – the walls were painted in a flawless flaxen hue, without a single crack, dribble, or shadow of damp in sight. At the top of this stood his front door – only it wasn't his. Not as far as he knew.
He had to turn back around and peer into the dank hall of the first floor to make sure that he was in the right building before continuing upstairs. He stood before the glossy white door, keys held limply in hand. A very large part of him was screaming inside that this just couldn't be real, and then the door suddenly swung open.
"Robert!" Sarah squealed, pulling Rob through the door with an excitable energy he hadn't seen her possess for a long time. "Just look at all this! Uncle John finally did everything up. Doesn't it look beautiful?"
Rob stared about himself in a mixture of awe and horror.
The lobster had made good on its promise. The room Rob stood in now was one he'd never have recognised as his own. Bright, light blue walls covered where flaking porridge-grey used to be, now decked with conventional arty prints and photographs. The sofa was now a long, squashy looking affair, set before a wide, flat screened television that Rob had only ever dreamed of owning until now. Light, gauzy curtains hung at the windows, and a carpet two shades darker than the walls, as thick and luxuriant as that on the stairs, ran throughout the living area. The kitchen had doubled in size (although strangely, took up no more space than it had ever done), smooth, granite-look formica sparkling where the chipped, scarred and grimy countertops used to be, and a fridge as big as a wardrobe stood proudly to one side.
Sarah took his hands, leading him, beaming, towards a door he had never seen before.
"You aren't going to believe your eyes," she giggled, throwing open the door to reveal a beautiful, bay windowed bedroom, complete with fitted wardrobes, a decorative fire place, and a big double bed, covered with a thick velvet throw. It truly looked like a swanky show home.
"And this isn't the best part," Sarah said, leading him out of the bedroom, and to the cupboard come bathroom. She went to open the door, and then paused.
"I think it's best if you close your eyes first," she said, waiting for Rob to bring his hand over his eyes before opening the door and gently leading him in. The fact that both of them were able to actually fit in told Rob that his wish had been answered here as well. He took the hand from his eyes, and gaped at the pool like bath before him, the long collection of cupboards and units surrounding the neat little sink, and the clean, sparkling toilet.
"This is unbelievable," he gasped. Sarah bobbed on the balls of her feet with excitement, clutching tightly to Rob's arm.
"I know!" she said, "I couldn't believe it. I was just going about my normal day, watching Murder she Wrote, and must have dozed off. I woke up, and it was all looking dead posh. Whoever Uncle John hired, they worked so quickly and quietly – it's amazing. I'll definitely tell Uncle John to go to them again."
"This wasn't down to John," Rob blurted out. Sarah stopped her joyous bouncing on the spot, and peered up at him, her grip going slack.
"What do you mean?" she said, her brow crinkling up in a frown. "Of course it was, donut. Who else would have done all this?"
Rob managed to stop himself saying "I did," and instead fell silent. However, it was already too late. Whatever mania had possessed Sarah to make her think an entire renovation could logically take place in a mere four hours without waking her was rapidly dispelling.
With the same, slightly wild expression Rob had held on entering the flat, Sarah took another look at their sudden, shiny new surroundings.
"Hang on," she said, an edge of suspicion creeping into her voice, "something's not at all right here."
"No," Rob protested, "don't be silly sweetheart, it's fine. Like you said, Uncle John must have sent some workmen round to finally do all those things that he's been promising to do."
After a moment of ice-cold staring, Sarah pushed Rob away from her, hard.
"Okay," she said, hands going to her track-suited hips. "What exactly is going on?" She stalked from the bathroom into the main room.
"This isn't our flat," she stated, looking demandingly to Rob for an answer.
He didn't know where to begin.
All things considered, Sarah took the story of the lobster surprisingly well. She sat, silent, throughout the entire tale, staring into her cooling cup of tea, in its strange un-chipped, unstained mug while Rob clumsily retold the bemusing events. When he finished, she stayed silent for a while, and then blinked very slowly, and very hard.
"Let me get this straight," she said, her voice strangely low, "you rescued a talking lobster and because of that, it told you that you could have anything you wanted in the world...and this," she gestured to the room around them, her voice sharply rising in volume, "was what all that you wished for?"
"I..." Rob stuttered "I thought it was practical..."
Sarah's cup of tea was flung dramatically onto the carpet.
"Practical my arse!" she raged, jumping to her feet, nearly knocking over the telly as she did so. "When a magical talking creature tells you to ask for anything you want, you don't ask for your shitty little flat to be a bit less shitty, you ask for a whole fucking palace!"
"But what would we do with one of those?" Rob said, bemused.
"I don't know," Sarah snarled. "Live in it perhaps. We're never going to know now, are we? Thanks to you and your thick-head."
"I'm sorry, it just seemed like a nice idea-" Rob started, but Sarah cut him off.
"Nice?" she sneered, "nice would have been getting a proper house, something that meant we could finally make a start in life. Nice would have been you actually coming to talk to me about this first, so I could have had a say in it."
"Well, the lobster was sort of in a hurry," Rob tried to explain.
It was the wrong thing to do.
Rob had been with Sarah for nearly seven years now. They had started dating when they were almost still children, and as they had grown up into adulthood together, Rob would have said that he had seen every side there was to Sarah, but at that moment, he saw something completely new, and entirely unwelcome.
With a short, high-pitched squeak, her jaw froze open. Her eyes widened to the point that they seemed to bulge from her very skull. Her mouth began to move in all the wrong ways, her upper lip riding up to show her teeth and pale pink gums. Finally, through this frightening face, two strained words found their way.
Rob was not exactly the smartest man to ever grace the earth, but he was nowhere near foolish enough to think that staying would be a good idea.
AN: This chapter's not as long as I meant it to be, but I'm currently going through a major fully-faceted creative block. Getting anything out is like pulling teeth... :S
So I thought I may as well put what I've done so far into a chapter...the next part can be chapter 3 - the second confrontation with the Lobster.
Oh, and if anyone finds Sarah mad or annoying - your meant to. She's a lazy-arsed, childish chav who does nothing with her time except watch tv, get drunk and complain. I'm not sure I got that properly across.
Concrit is most loved - but any form of review will do.