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How Long is Forever?

I hadn’t noticed the grandfather clock in my room before, but now the ticking just wouldn’t stop. My body ached all over and I couldn’t fall back asleep. My body shivered despite the blankets and my forehead was just about the only part of me that felt warm. Slowly I sat up and moved my feet to hang over the side of the bed. Sunbeams came in through the window like a holy spotlight beckoning me. I stepped into the light, still carrying a blanket wrapped around myself like a cloak. I noticed a book sitting in a chair on the other side of the room.

I glanced at the closed door and moved towards the book on my tiptoes. It didn’t just have words; scrawled on the pages were equations and diagrams. What kind of book was this?

Property of Calloway Elliot Graymere

It was a journal.

The third trial with the electromagnet has proved to be a success. Motional emf is induced by the relative motion of the magnetic field, and its magnitude equal to the derivative of the magnetic flux, which when applied to the circuit breaker…

I heard a noise and instinctively replaced the book as it had been and rushed back to my bed and shut my eyes. For many moments nothing happened. There was no other noise, no door opening. Nothing but the muted sound of my own breath and my pounding heartbeat.

When the door finally did open, it was Sapphire who asked in the rather annoyed tone of a child forced to apologize “are you well enough to have breakfast with us?”

Grateful for the opportunity to leave the room, I nodded slightly. I shivered when I sat up and she moved towards me as if to help me up, but instead placed an icy palm on my forehead. She handed me the glass of liquid from the nightstand, but I shook my head, remembering that it wasn’t simply water.

“It’ll help,” she insisted, but I wouldn’t take it and she scoffed in annoyance. “Your infection will never get better if you don’t cooperate.”

Infection? That must be why I felt so bad.

“I’m fine,” I told her, standing up a bit too fast to prove my point, tripping over my blanket train as I did so.

I was on my way to giving the floor a high five with my face when Sapphire’s arms grabbed me with the speed of a wild mongoose and I remained suspended in the air for what seemed like the longest moment that the grandfather clock in the corner of the room had measured with the ending of one tick and the beginning of the next tock.

Once I was standing upright again, she had already turned away from me and headed towards the door. I probably should have laid back down, but I followed her anyway, out the door, down the spiral staircase I hadn’t seen before, through a kitchen that smelt like scrambled eggs, and finally into the dining hall where Art and Carm were already seated waiting for us.

Fire sat across from her brother, leaving the seat at the head of the table empty. By the looks of it, that seat had remained empty for a long time.

Calloway Graymere, I thought. Their father. There was a seat at the other end of the table, presumably for their mother, in which Carm sat.

The butler filled Sapphire’s glass with water as I debated where to sit.

There was still an open seat next to Sapphire at the six person table, but I opted for the one next to her brother.

“That’s Fenris’s seat,” he mumbled.

“Artemis,” Carm warned and the boy stopped speaking.

“I can move,” I offered.

“No dear, you’re fine,” the woman assured me. It was then that I noticed that she wasn’t eating anything. She had an empty plate and an empty glass sitting on the table before her. After Fenris finished serving Fire and me, he sat down across from me with an empty plate as well.

An awkward silence ensued and Art was the first to break it.

“You fed Mere, right?” the boy asked his butler.

“Of course, master.”

I ate my eggs in silence, and for the first time since entering the manor, however odd it may be, I didn’t want to escape.

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