BY AL BRUNO III
Friday November 15th 1996
Someone's coming. The thought crashed into Isobel's head from nowhere and it was more than a thought, it was a certainty. She had been relaxing before the fireplace with a good book- you could never go wrong with Jane Austen- when it hit her. It made her feel restless, she kept shifting in her seat, the thought was like an itch.
Her brother walked into the sitting room with a bewildered look, “Hey sis, are you feeling...”
“...kinda weird?” she finished for him.
Her brother was wearing silk pajamas, a bathrobe and slippers, he usually wore sweats to bed but this was all they Jack had to offer him. Isobel thought it was hilarious; he looked like Hugh Hefner's less assertive brother. Warren said, “I feel like something's going to happen.”
“Yeah...” Isobel set her book down and stood. She was dressed in one of the several sets of jeans and sweaters Hao had given her.
Bodivar came the room, all smiles as usual, “I know that look. I know that look….”
“What’s going on?” she closed the doors to the fireplace and slipped her feet into her shoes. Mansfield Park was left behind on the chair.
“Can't you feel it?” Bodivar turned to go.
They followed him out of the room. “But how are we feeling it?” Warren asked.
Bodivar clapped him on the shoulder, “Do I look like a philosopher to you?”
“No I guess not.”
The vestibule of Laurel House was a high ceilinged room bordered on one side by the main stairwell and on the other by a pair of tall oak doors. It was decorated with tall paintings of rich landscapes in elaborate frames. Everyone was here; Jack, Roxanne, Zeth, Hao, Galen, Sig and Angie. Roxanne gave Isobel a wink, Isobel just waved back. There was something about Roxanne that put her off, it wasn't the woman's size as much as the fact she made Isobel feel like she was being snickered at behind her back. Sometimes when she was wandering the halls she could Roxanne and Jack going at it. They sure didn't seem to need much sleep.
Galen gave Isobel a quiet “Hi,” and started to approach.
Both of them paused, waiting to see who was going to say more but that was when Jack spoke.
“All right,” he said. “For those of you that have never been here before just know that someone’s almost here. I prefer we have the able bodied men meet the new guest- just in case. Sig, Bodivar, Galen, Zeth and Warren come with me outside.”
“Are you sure I'm able bodied enough?” Warren asked.
“My hero.” Hao gave him a playful shove, “Get out there.”
Warren was indignant, “I am in my pajamas here people…”
The men went outside, leaving the four women behind. “Did we all get that feeling at the same time?” Isobel asked.
“Pretty much.” Hao yawned, her hair was a tousled mess.
Angie looked pale, “I'm still not used to it.”
Isobel stared at the wood of the doors, wishing she could see through them, “Are they safe?”
Roxanne grinned, “Jack can take care of himself and all of us.”
Isobel looked at one of the paintings; it was of a majestic two drop waterfall, “How long has he owned this place?”
At first no one spoke, then Hao said, “He doesn't own Laurel House. He's just been here the longest.”
“Then who does own it?”
“I don't understand this place at all.” Isobel turned her attention back to the door, what was taking them so long?
Roxanne's smile was preening, “Aren't mysteries beautiful?”
“I prefer answers myself.” Isobel said.
Ok its official I can't stand her.
The door opened up and seven men walked in with a blast of cold air. The new arrival was short and wore a battered leather jacket, black jeans and a garishly colored stocking cap. Bodivar was chatting away with him, “...I always wanted to know, are the stories I hear about you true?”
“Depends on the stories.” the new arrival pulled off his cap to reveal dark, close cropped hair.
Zeth was grinning a Cheshire grin, “Don’t expect his explanations to make you wonder any less.”
The new arrival nodded, then seemed to notice he was being watched. “Ladies,” He looked over the four of them, like a man scanning a crowd for a familiar face. “I'm Jason Magwier. So nice to see you all.”
Jack said, “Allow me to introduce...”
“Oh I know them.” Magiwer said with a dismissive wave of the hand, “Hao, Roxanne, Angie and Lilly.”
Sig grumbled, “I hate it when he does that.”
“Who the Hell is Lilly?” Isobel asked.
“Lilly and I-” Magwier turned on his heel, “You're not Lilly?”
“No.” She pointed to herself, “I'm Isobel.”
“Isobel...” A confused look crossed his features, “Isobel... are you sure?”
“Yes.” Galen answered for her, “And if you don't believe me you can ask her brother over there.”
“Ah,” Magwier turned his attention back to Isobel's brother, “How could I forget you Warren? It is so good to see you again, and dare I say most unexpected.”
Warren just stared at the man, his jaw hanging open. Hao leaned in to Isobel, “What's wrong with your brother?”
“I don't know.” Isobel said, “The last time I saw that expression on his face was when he was 12 and he accidentally saw his cousin Tess naked.”
Angie snickered at that, Roxanne just nodded knowingly.
Magwier rubbed his hands together, “I'm starving. Anyone else?”
There were some shrugs. Bodivar said, “Everyone to the dining room, the turkey is almost done.”
“Turkey?” Angie asked, “You cooked a turkey?”
“I was bored.” Bodivar tapped himself on the temple, “And perhaps I knew what I knew before I knew it.”
“I'll set the table.” Hao said, “Come on Warren.”
“Sure. I’ll catch up in a second.” Warren said.
Hao gave him a wink, “Don’t keep me waiting.”
Magwier smiled, “This sounds wonderful. I bet I can really kick back and relax here.”
“Indeed.” Zeth nodded and he led Magwier aside, they began to speak quitely.
Roxanne whispered something to Jack and headed upstairs. Jack blushed and said, “I better open up the dining room.”
Everyone scattered to get dressed or ready. Once she was alone with her brother Isobel asked Warren, “What's wrong? You look like you're going to faint.”
Warren leaned back against the tall oak doors of Laurel House, “That guy. That Magwier guy...”
“He used to be the janitor at my high school. I swear to God.”