This is the prologue of a story I’m in the process of writing. I felt like sharing it out, I hope you enjoy it!
The crash of the storm startled Ferris out of his book. He looked up, checking to see that the window stood closed. The frame had budged slightly in the last gust of wind, nothing to concern himself over. The room was full of leather bound tomes that he had no intention of exposing to damp or weather. The dust was bad enough, for all that he had hired two maids to continually service this room specifically.
He looked down at his latest acquisition, a brown leather clad, hand lettered copy of An Fae Ri,worked in gold filigree. He smiled in pride, his hands looking careworn and drab next to the artistic depictions of the title.
“Sir, phone,” the maid knocked on the door, distracting him.
“Confound it, you know I hate that thing!” Ferris roared through the door.
“It’s lady Jenna, sir, elsewise I wouldn’t have disturbed you,” said the maid, the perfect amount of contriteness in her tone.
“Very well.” Ferris stood, smoothing his brown corduroys and sliding his feet into house slippers. He felt for his pockets, found his pipe, stuck it in his mouth. Continued his search through his pockets, found some thread, a ceramic cat’s head, a doubloon, and his tobacco pouch. He shuffled towards the door, railing at his old man’s gait, thumbing a pinch of tobacco into his pipe and tamping it down with practiced ease as he approached the door. His library was his sanctuary, the one room he required absolute concentration in. He vowed to dock the woman’s pay, but found himself unable to remember her name. He would have to remember to ask for it so he could see to it at once.
He opened the door, and there the maid stood, in her gray uniform, hair back behind a white cap, holding a tray with a white enamel phone, its numbers set in gold, the edging in cream.
Snatching the handset off of the cradle, Ferris realized he’d forgotten his matches. “Yes, girl, what is it?”
A gust of wind rattled the windows of the room behind him, but Ferris ignored it, straining to hear Jenna’s voice. He stepped into the hallway to lessen the strain on the telephone cord.
“Ferris, so glad to reach you,” she said. “I forgot to inform you that there is a big luncheon tomorrow that you must attend.”
“What?” Ferris choked on his indignation. “You expect me to drop everything so I can be bored to death by that thin crowd of morality challenged idiots?”
“What did you have on the docket for tomorrow, if you don’t mind my asking?” Jenna’s voice was thin and tinny across the connection.
“Well, you don’t know, do you? I could have been having lunch with Mr. Chaplin tomorrow afternoon,” Ferris prevaricated.
“There’s no way Charlie would invite you to lunch without me, I would have known,” she said, calling his bluff. “Stop playing the grumpy old man and get in the spirit. These are investors, Ferris. The very people you want to woo, not stiff. Get your best suit out, the navy one with the pinstripes. Have Ella polish your shoes and trim your hair, there’s a good boy.”
“If I wanted a woman running my life, I’d have a wife, you know,” he muttered irritably.
“And most of the time Darryl does a fine job at it, but you’re a man who needs a communal effort,” said Jenna’s crisp voice. He pulled the handset away from his ear, frowning at it the way he would at her were she here.
The wind rattled the windows in the other room, and Ferris snuck a look over his shoulder to the partially opened door. He had to get free from this damnable handset and back to his library before the windows burst in and the rain hit his books. He’d left his newest acquisition sitting on top of a stack. He felt a spill of anxiety and put the handset back to his ear.
“…there’s a dear.” Jenna said smartly. “The car will be around at eleven. I’ve told Ella to wake you at ten.”
“Yes, yes, whatever you say, I must go,” he said into the phone, then slammed it on the cradle unevenly, the handset falling off even as he turned and ran into his library to catch the windows. Ella was left behind, catching the handset and trying not to drop the tray that held the phone. He slammed the door behind him, shutting her out.
The wind shoved the windows open just as he reached them, the wood and glass catching his hand so that it stung fiercely. He dropped his pipe as he yelped in pain, then swung the large frame shut and latched it tightly. He paused then to take a look at his hand. It had apparently sustained no lasting wound, but the damn thing pulsed in time with his heart and was sore besides.
Reaching down to retrieve his pipe with his off hand, he stuck it back in his mouth after a brief brush against his jacket to knock anything free. He reached into his pocket to find his matches, only to find they were neither in the left nor the right hand pockets. He searched his inner lining pockets, to find an envelope he’d forgotten about, addressed to him by Tomas Marcato. He hadn’t had a chance to read it. He drew it out, made to open it, and then realized that he was no longer alone in his library.
“El…” was all he managed to choke out before something wound around his mouth and nose like an anaerobic scarf that cut off his oxygen supply. He gasped, his lungs heaving as he tried to draw breath. He flailed and thrashed, falling to the ground as he used his fingers to dig into his cheeks, trying to grip the fabric that wasn’t present, but to no effect. He felt no person behind him, no one to throw himself against, no arm to grab and dislodge from his face, just his own features, contorted from strain in the act of breathing, of attempting to draw air into his lungs.
His eyesight faded around the edges, dimming as his struggles weakened. He believed in that moment he heard laughter coming from somewhere above him and off to his left. It was the most beautiful sound he’d ever heard.