Once Upon a Time – Chap. 16.7

Meanwhile…

Uncle Albert sat in his favorite chair, considering his remaining house guests. Whether to eat them or not had been a matter quickly resolved. One was the spellbound Bastiick who his niece considered a friend and the other looked hardly much older than her.

Bastiick was unfortunately far too lost in whatever spell he was under to be of any use in finding out what happened to Sylvia. Albert supposed it was likely the other lad could lead him to where she was now; it was also likely he was just as sour a fellow as the other intruders, which meant trusting him could be risky. One thing Albert didn’t have time for was waiting for the young henchman to wake up on his own from his headfirst lunge into the wall earlier. A pail of cold water splashed on the sleeping form did a wonderful job of waking him up.

The young man jolted awake but didn’t get far off the ground given his hands were tied behind a table leg. He flung his head from side to side, taking in his surroundings. Seeing Bastiick swinging from one of the ropes that caught his comrades only seemed to serve as a reminder of where he was. Seeing the other two ropes now empty caused confusion. Seeing the person they came to rob and murder sitting a few feet away in a chair and waving at him created enough alarm to ensure the fellow was fully awake. “Wh-what’s going on?”

You and your friends failed in the mission these people who call themselves the Keepers gave you.” Albert nodded at the rope that binded the man’s hands to the table. “My apologies for needing to be a bad host but I couldn’t risk you running off. You’re the only person left here both alive and in enough control of his faculties to help me figure out who they are.”

The only person left alive?” The guest yelled his question out with a squeal. “What happened to Arden and Nicolai?”

Albert turned in his chair to glance at the empty hemp cords hanging from the ceiling as though mildly curious himself. “A zombie ate them.”

Zombie! Is it going to me?”

No, you don’t have to worry about that.” Albert suppressed a chuckle that his guest hadn’t realized he was talking to the zombie. “I suppose you have a name?”

Trevor.” The man continued darting his eyes to all four corners of the room.

And my name is Albert. Now that you’re better acquainted with the man you came here to kill, perhaps we can begin some important discussion.” He waited until Trevor gave up his search for the zombie and looked his way before continuing. “Arden and Nicolai had bad manners by breaking in and intending to murder and steal. But I’m under the impression you simply chose friends unwisely. What’s your part in being here?”

I had to go with them.” Trevor spoke with a solemn resignation. “I didn’t want to but it was better than the alternative if I refused.”

What was the alternative?”

Being fed to a giant sea monster.”

Albert nodded. “That is certainly an unpleasant alternative.”

Better than being eaten by a zombie,” muttered Trevor, his eyes making another pass around the room.

Try being one my friend.”

Trevor’s perplexed face shot back around to face Albert again at the comment. He shook his head, not comprehending.

Albert waved his right hand at him again, the one void of a pinky finger. “Trevor, last time I passed by a mirror, I didn’t feel I quite looked my old self. Do you really not notice anything a bit-,” he lowered the hand to give a mock study of the grayish, decaying skin it bore, “-out of the ordinary about me?”

Trevor answered by giving the longest blink in history followed by screaming at him. Albert sighed and watched while the fellow tried jumping to his feet again with renewed passion.

After he’d dragged the table to the center of the room and started to grow hoarse, Albert decided his guest was at least calm enough to begin speaking to again. “Trevor, can we please continue our conversation now? I suspect my niece is in danger and you’re the only person who can help me understand what’s happened to her.”

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