Gremlin House Pt. 3
Amelia led him back over the broken pot into the living room on the other side of the house. Ethel was coming down the stairs, a teacup in her hand. She looked at Matthew and chuckled before turning into the kitchen.
"That's Ethel," Amelia said. "The living room ...we don't spend as much time here as we do the other rooms. The reason it's a mess is that we use this as a thru-way from the kitchen to the backyard and the nursery."
The living room was furnished with two human-sized armchairs, several tiny ones, lamps and tables accordingly arranged. Bookshelves lined three walls of the room.
On the fourth wall were three doors: one Matthew had just gone through, one at the other side of the wall that he assumed led to the 'nursery', and a third that appeared to lead to somewhere under the staircase. Between that door and the nursery door there was a large fireplace.
The main cause of the mess here was Legos. Hundreds of the little blocks were on the floor, hiding in the carpet and digging at unexpected times into one's foot. Matthew noticed that Amelia was barefoot.
"The nursery is this way," Amelia walked over to the door on the far side of the room and opened it. "Oh, look, isn't it cute. They're playing catapult with Gordy again."
Matthew moved a bit hesitantly over. In the small, wood-floored room, a small fortress made of Legos surrounded a tarantula as big as a dinner plate. Inch-high creatures were running in circles, and it took him a little while to realize that the spider -Gordy -was throwing Legos at the gremlins and they were trying to both dodge the Legos and overrun the fort.
"This is ...curious," he said, still trying to figure out what to make of it all. Amelia grinned.
"Upstairs or outside next?"
"What's that door next to the fireplace? Where does it lead to?"
"Oh, well, there's a room under the stairs and some steps to the basement. Want to see it?"
"Sure." Matthew, who was closer to the door, moved to open it.
"No, let me go in first," Amelia said quickly. "They don't recognize me quite as easily as they do Ethel, but they'll be outright hostile to you."
With that warning, Matthew willingly stepped back, and Amelia opened the door.
"Easy, fellas," she said. "Easy. You've got a visitor, okay?"
Matthew went in behind her with a healthy amount of caution. What greeted him was a skitter of feet and several squeaks.
"Mice?" he couldn't help saying, although -these people kept tarantulas and gremlins. Mice probably weren't beyond them.
"Partially. We have some rats in here too."
The creatures were kept semi-contained in high glass cages around the walls, but occasionally one or two managed to crawl up the side and escape. There was a door in the wall to the right.
"What are they for?"
Amelia raised an eyebrow with a small smile.
"They're useful. Downstairs is the laboratory. You want to see it?"
Matthew glanced at his watch.
"I probably shouldn't spend too much more time here ...can I just see the upstairs?"
The old wooden staircase protested loudly with each step, and the boards sagged a bit underfoot. Matthew found himself keeping a careful hold on the rail -although that wouldn't do him much good if the stairway collapsed.
True to the article, there were three doors at the top of the stairs, and a trapdoor above. The door to the right was partially open, and Matthew could see papers and pillows lying on the floor. He followed Amelia in.
Some unknown scent hung about the room. On the far side of the room were two beds on opposite sides of the room, a desk between them and a window above the desk. The beds might not have been made for a couple weeks -they were complete messes. The desk had a partially open drawer with some papers sticking out, while on its surface were two clocks -one facing each bed -and a lamp in the middle.
Two laptop cords crisscrossed each other on the floor, and then disappeared under pillows. Books, papers, pencils, pens, highlighters, mugs, and newspapers lay in every conceivable niche. There was one large wardrobe in one corner -how long had it been since he had seen one of those? -with some shirts draped over its handles.
Despite the wreck, the room wasn't dirty, just cluttered.
"Is the room across from this ...really closed off to everyone but HAZMAT?" Matthew pointed across the landing.
Ethel was coming back up the stairs, and she grinned.
"If there's a laboratory in the basement ...why is there another one in the attic?"
"We use them for separate things. You want to see our pets?"
"What kind of pets do you have?"
In answer to that, Ethel opened the door and stepped through. Matthew followed cautiously, and Amelia came last with a grin.
What kind of pets? Reptiles, spiders, insects -their cages lined the walls. The wall on the farthest side of the room had only one cage against it -one huge cage containing the biggest snake Matthew had ever seen.
"That's Tinsel," Ethel said, walking over to the cage and lifting the lid. "She's really quite gentle."
Amelia gave her friend an amused but warning look and said, "He doesn't have much time to spend and wants to see the backyard."
Matthew followed Amelia back down the stairs.