The pay off!
Next day Paul was waiting in the pub again, Steve was supposed to meet him with the haul from the break-in. He could just picture counting those gold coins, he was considering cutting Jolly out after all. Half a dozen coins for himself and he’d be set, goodbye Darlene; goodbye Ashley...hello babes, booze and real fun! If he was right Joe must have quiet a number of them and at three hundred grand a piece that was going to be an impressive result…life was going to be sweet!
Steve approached him quietly and sat on the stool without a word. His head turned nervously from side to side checking the room, it never seemed to stop moving. Paul goggled at him, what the hell had happened? Steve looked like a ghost! It was as if all the blood had drained out of his face, his eyes had huge dark rings under them.
“Well?” Paul asked after Steve sat there for a minute not talking, just looking nervously from one side to the other and back. With a half shrug he thrust his hands firmly into his jacket pockets.
“I’ll get some drinks in while you get out the coins? Jesus Steve!” Paul hissed.
“I don’t want a drink, I’m off the beer from now on mate…permanently! I didn’t get any bloody coins either.” Steve visibly shivered, he felt ice run down his spine at the memory of the house, “…and I’ll tell you something else, I ain’t going back to that house! Not now, not ever you hear me?”
“If you offered me a guaranteed lottery win I wouldn’t go back. That house is too fucking strange! When they say that runt is a wizard…they’re bloody right! His house is like nothing on earth mate! Upstairs and downstairs they mix, rooms take you to nowhere, more rooms than there should be, bigger ones too, doors that all shut themselves the moment your back is turned, then the room has changed if you try to go back, rooms that shuffle.”
“Shuffle? Be serious!”
“I am, I found his bathroom in at least four locations. I went into his kitchen upstairs and came out down. I even found a room…” Steve fell silent, the memory of that door in mid air, he involuntarily started to sweat again and his hands shook. His eyes took on a panicked haunted look as he whirled his head from side to side. Was that dragon on his tail?
“Steve…Steve…Make sense will you? He’s obviously got more than one bathroom that’s all.”
“Yeah? Each with my piss on his carpet? I don’t think so! That house…” Steve shivered again, “that place is cursed mate, cursed! I’m no coward, I’ll beat the first man to call me one! But that house... I checked the rooms I could but I think that house…” Steve leaned forward hugging himself, “that house knew I was trying to burgle it and it…stopped me!”
“Bollocks! It’s your imagination mate that’s all.”
“Yeah you may be right but that golden mutt of his was no bloody retriever.”
“What was he then?”
Steve stopped himself he almost blurted out a bloody dragon and just sat looking glum, “Don’t know…but he weren’t no bloody dog! Told me it didn’t like beef”
“Told you? Alright so what the fuck are we going to do now? You were supposed to get those bloody coins.”
“Look!” Steve shivered and thrust his hands deeper into his pockets as he tried to keep a hold on himself. “You want those coins so bad mate, you go get them. I never found a bloody thing in that house.” Steve shivered again at the memory of that six hundred foot fall. “So I’m out! I’m leaving too mate…sister in New Zealand, going to be staying with her.”
“For good mate, for good! I don’t intend on coming back! If this place has magic like that runt and that…house. I want no part of it, you can stick it!” Someone dropped a glass, it exploded with a bang as it smashed on the floor. Steve almost jumped clean out of his skin with fright. He whirled around terrified and got up without another word. He turned on his heel and stalked back to the pub entrance, as he approached the door he caught his reflection in a mirror. He stopped horrified, it looked like he had aged at least thirty years; his skin was an ashen white with dark rings around his eyes which flicked nervously around the room. With a growl and a shuddering grimace he snatched the door open and left.
“What…but Steve? Christ!” Paul got up from his seat in a hurry and ran off after his friend.