This is Part 3 of a Collaboration story that is taking place. Before you read it, make sure you read Part 1: Two Doors by Carrie Sorensen, and then Part 2: Shall I turn on the Lights by Nicole Pyles. Stay tuned to this space. I shall be posting the links to Part 4 & 5 as they are posted down at the bottom, then I’ll be writing Part 6.
And so begins Part 3…
Part 3: The Estate
Tyler’s face turned serious just then.
He slowly turned to face Freddy “Who is it?”
“It’s a Miss Chan from the estate agency in the city,” said Freddy, uncertainty in his voice. It was clear to Gnat they weren’t expecting any visitors.
“Freddy, please take Naomi into the kitchen, she is not to leave until our visitor has left the premises.”
Gnat’s face hardened. He had just confirmed her deeper suspicions that all this was one big lie, said with gentle face and a voice that was just a little too easy to believe. She should have known better. Tyler said he trusted only her and Freddy. But then if he trusted her so much why would he want her tucked away out of earshot? What is really going on here? She opened her mouth to speak, to demand, but Tyler interrupted her before a sound emerged.
“It’s for your own safety Naomi, please, no one is to know you are here. Your life would be in danger if anyone found out. I can’t let anything happen to you, you are too valuable.”
In a voice that was firm but with a hint of desperation he said to Gnat while looking deep into her eyes “Please just follow Freddy into the kitchen.” The creases on his aged face had changed from serious to pleading as he spoke.
One thing Gnat had learned from her years on the streets was when someone was being genuinely honest, telling a half truth, or outright lying. Tyler definitely had some explaining to do, but she knew from the look in his eyes at that moment he meant every word that he said.
She stood up to follow Freddy. “Freddy, can you please take Naomi’s cup, we wouldn’t want anyone questioning things now would we.”
Freddy quickly walked over and snatched up the cup before Gnat had the opportunity to pick it up herself. “This way please Miss Naomi, ” and he pointed the way towards the kitchen. She followed Freddy around the corner, and down a dark corridor lined with closed doors. The kitchen was the door at the very end.
Once inside, the warm kitchen was softly lit and felt more like a sitting room than a typical kitchen. “Have a seat Miss Naomi, hopefully this won’t take too long,” said Freddy with a reassuring face. He then turned and walked out of the kitchen and shut the door behind him.
The kitchen was not so large, but other than a small sink, a counter top, a few cupboards below, and a small round table in the center, not much else in the room implied it was a kitchen at all. There was no stove, oven, or refrigerator, and no pots or pans hung from the ceiling. A distant shuffling noise and the voice of a woman caused her to stop exploring the room with her eyes and perk up her ears while focusing on the door. She barely made out the words “Hello Mister Ross, my name is Elisabeth Chan, from the estate agency.”
Gnat had learned from living in her little spot on Second Street that not only could she not ever be seen, but she could also never be heard for fear of losing the one thing she had. If she wanted to know what was really going on, she needed to hear that conversation. With Freddy’s footsteps now still, she walked silently and steadily to the wooden kitchen door. She had already decided she was going to sneak out, and hide in a dark crevice closer to Tyler so that she could hear the conversation better. She slowly turned the knob while putting the slightest pressure on the door. It opened without a squeak. She tiptoed down the hall, quieter than a cat, slipped into a darkened crevice, and became one with the blackness.
She wasn’t there long before she heard Tyler’s voice sounding old and tired, “Thank you for coming to see me about this in person, I do appreciate it. In my condition it’s very hard to get around as you can see. Freddy, can you please go into the kitchen and bring Miss Chan and I some refreshments?”
“Certainly Mister Tyler.”
Gnat ran on tip toe back to the kitchen, quietly shutting the door behind her, and sat down on a chair at the table for fear of being caught listening in. She sunk back into her chair and turned her attention towards the sink just as Freddy walked in and shut the door firmly behind him.
“Freddy, who is that lady?” whispered Gnat, her words coming out more of a hiss. Freddy put a finger to his lips, smiled, and whispered “shhh, we’ll tell you later.” He was still wearing the laser blue stripe tie and Gnat wondered if he actually lived here. He started humming a little tune, a song she recognized, but couldn’t quite remember where from.
Freddy opened a box near the sink and took out 3 pastries and placed them on little plates that he pulled out of the cupboard. He was careful not to get any sugar on his tie or black jacket. He moved through the kitchen swiftly yet gracefully as he carried the three small plates balancing them gently between his hands. He pulled on a small handle attached to the wall near the sink and a cube like contraption emerged from the wall. Freddy lifted the top and placed the 3 plates carefully inside and placed the top back on. Freddy’s voice then rang out clear which made Gnat jump in her seat “3 Pastries, hot.” As soon as he had finished saying the words, he lifted the top open, took out the three plates, placed them on the counter, put the top back down and pushed the cube contraption back into the wall.
He put two plates on a square black tray he had brought in with him, and then put the third plate down in front of Gnat. She noticed her pastry was steaming hot. He walked over to a square gap in the wall. Pressed a button and said “3 Cups of tea. Earl grey. 2 cream, 1 sugar.” In the time it took to blink, three steaming mugs of tea had materialized in the gap in the wall. Gnat’s jaw dropped slightly in surprise. Freddy placed one steaming mug in front of Gnat, and the other two on the tray with the pastries. It all smelled delicious. Gnats tummy grumbled slightly in agreement. How long had it been since she’d last eaten back at the hotel? He gave Gnat a big smile and carried the tray out of the room and shut the door behind him once again.
The food wasn’t about to be snatched away on her here, this she knew, so once Freddy’s footsteps had faded, Gnat tiptoed back to the door, opened it and slipped back into her dark hiding place where she could resume her listening into the conversation.
“As you know she died 20 years ago…” came the woman’s voice.
“Oh yes, I am aware of that.” Tyler said calmly.
“Some tea and pastries” Cut in Freddy.
“Thank you Freddy.” Said Tyler warmly.
Miss Chan continued, “The estate has been owned these past twenty years by a Dr Emily Robertson. It seems she was a friend and colleague of Dr. Johnsons, and the estate was left to her when Dr. Johnston passed away. Dr. Robertson is now retired from the University and has agreed to your generous offer and has already vacated the premises. It seems the house was becoming a bit too much for her to take care of anyway.”
“That’s wonderful news Miss Chan,” said Tyler, in a relieved tone.
“Mister Ross if you could please allow me to confirm a DNA sample, I will hand over the keys, and security details to you.” Miss Chan said in her professional voice.
“Certainly Miss Chan. Freddy, can you please assist me? I’m getting too old to do these things myself.”
A minute later Miss Chan’s voice rang out in delight. “A perfect match Mister Ross. Congratulations the ownership of the estate has now been transferred to you. While the transfer of the security details of the estate is being arranged by my office, I’ll give you the set of keys for the estate. It seems Dr. Johnson and Dr. Robertson were very careful women. Security was of the upmost priority for them, and you will find the house is impossible to penetrate. You shall feel very safe there.”
“Yes, I heard Dr. Johnson was the type of woman who trusted only a few.” Said Tyler a hint of annoyance in his voice.
“I’ll say” said Miss Chan, “I mean, who uses old fashioned keys and security cards these days? The woman used practically every means of security invented save from building a moat and hiring an army. She was a very gifted woman, the extra precaution probably aided her success don’t you think?”
“Most certainly, after all, some of the things that we discover can be very dangerous when it falls in the hands of others. We have seen this time and again in recent history haven’t we Miss Chan.” said Tyler.
“Yes indeed” agreed Miss Chan “The world is not a safe place at the moment for anyone. Oh, I just received word, the transfer of the security details has been complete. You now have full access to the estate. ”
“Wonderful news. Thank you again for coming here. I do appreciate it Miss Chan. As it is getting late I shall get Freddy to see you out.” said Tyler, his voice suddenly sounding even older than he was, a hint of impatience crept out as he spoke the last few words. Gnat wondered what time it actually was, for she hadn’t seen any clocks since she arrived. The house was dark, and blackness crept in from the cracks around the thick curtain covered windows.
As the conversation seemed to have come to an end, Gnat quickly tiptoed back to her chair in the kitchen. She shoved down the now luke warm pastry barely tasting it before drinking back all the tea. She had just finished wiping all the crumbs from her mouth with the back of her hand when she heard Freddy’s feet approach the kitchen door.
Freddy entered with a sweet smile on his face. “She has gone now Miss Naomi, and it’s time to go. But we must go quickly, there is no time. ” Freddy turned and started to walk out of the kitchen. Gnat leapt out of her seat and followed closely behind. She needed to know more. Who was Dr. Johnson and Dr. Robertson, and why did Tyler buy an estate? Tyler seemed to hold all the answers and since he was the reason she was here, she needed those answers if she was ever going to get back to her old life.
She was small, quiet and seemingly fragile, but underneath she was incredibly strong willed.
She would get those answers. She was clever enough, she’d find a way to wiggle them out of Tyler someway or another.
When Freddy and Gnat entered the main room with the fireplace and the large bookshelf. Tyler was buttoning up his coat. Freddy opened a nearby closet door and pulled out a hat which he passed to Tyler, and a long black shall, scarf and thick framed glasses which he passed to Gnat. “Please put this on Miss Naomi. It is not safe for anyone to see who you are, or know that you are here. Cover your face and hair with it.”
Tyler bent down, picked up a large ring of different shaped keys, with several cards attached and put it in his coat pocket. Once she was wrapped up and covered Tyler looped his free arm around hers protectively, but also for support. “Where are we going Tyler?”
With a hint of impatience in his tone Tyler said “There is no time Naomi, I’ll explain more when we get there. There is something very important I need you to find, you are the only person who knows where it is. I believe it is the only thing that can help us locate whoever stole my secret.”
Freddy, now adorned in a navy blue button up jacket walked towards the dark corridor, opened a door on the right and walked inside. Tyler held onto Gnat and they followed him into the room. Other than a few buttons on a wall, and candles for light, it was completely bare.
“What is it that I’m supposed to find, and how am I supposed to know where it is? We are in the future Tyler,” Gnat said with certainty in her voice after having witnessed Freddy in the kitchen “and, I’ve never been here before! I don’t think you understand what little I actually know.”
The look on Tyler’s face softened slightly, “You know so much more than you think you do Naomi, that I know for certain.”
“Miss Naomi, this is a transporter. Technology has changed significantly over the years, and the methods of transport which you are used to are rarely used. ” said Freddy. ” We will be there in a moment.”
Before Gnat could say anything more she suddenly felt the sensation that she was in a fast moving elevator, she felt the whole room move, but she was not sure which direction they were going in. Her stomach lurched upwards unsettling it’s contents. Thirty seconds later the movement stopped. There was a small beep and the door to the room opened. A draft of cold air filled the room. Freddy walked out into the cold night air. Tyler with his arm still linked around Gnat’s, strengthened his grip as they slowly stepped outside. The sky was littered with tiny dazzling specs of stars, ahead of them loomed the dark outline of a large building.
Stay tuned next week as Tena Carr shares part 4 of the story.