The dark staircase twisted upward to the second story of the dilapidated mansion. The dark wood bannister was barely visible from the balcony above since the light was so dim. A broken window at the front of the house let in a tight ray of light which illuminated only minimally the very top step. I peered into the darkness above, cursing Lucifer, the shih tzu, who had recently disappeared up those very steps.
The house had been on the corner of the street for over 300 years, and I had passed it every single day on my way to work for the past 5 years. No one seemed to live there, and no one would generally go on the property. Lucifer himself had decided he wanted to chase a scent in there. His snub nose had obviously detected something interesting, and now we were both exploring the old house.
There was a creak from upstairs.
Each step made a slightly different high pitched squeal or low groan as the wood of the stairs had to adjust to the weight of a person. A shadow crossed the beam of light.
squeak. squeak. squeak.
The white tail swished in my peripheral vision to the right, and a tall, human form stood tall to the left. It was just standing there, unmoving, watching.
"Hello? I'm looking for my dog?"
"Your dog? " He said, in a voice which creaked with dust and age. "I'm afraid I have not seen him"
As the light shifted, the man came into full view, and dusty was not really too far off. He was beautiful, pale, but wore an outfit which screamed outdated, and his hair was blonde with a literal layer of dust on it. He was almost like one of the pieces of furniture that had been left uncovered in the first floor foyer, or the bench that sat in the open space of the second floor balcony.
"Do you live here?"
His lips parted in a smirk, "Live? I suppose you could say I lived here... if living is what one would call this."
"Meaning...?" my voice cracked as I tried to maneuver around to the door where Lucifer's tail had last swished.
"I don't leave, dine, entertain guests... this is no life." His voice seemed to have a soft accent to it, hardly discernible because of the dry crack.
"Why do you stay then?" I peered through the dark doorway. "Lucy?" The ball of fluff came bounding out and he settled in at the top step, watching the two people talking before him.
"To leave would be impossible for me. Won't you stay for dinner?"
"I'm not supposed to talk to strangers?" At 23, it was a bit ridiculous to use this old standby method of protection, but no others ideas had come. This guy was different, odd, and he could not be of this world. "Lucifer, let's go" We started heading down the stairs, my back burning from the steady gaze of the specter as we picked up speed.
When we got to the door way and my hand settled on the handle, another shadow grew on the door ahead as my adorable little twelve year old shih tzu morphed into a humanoid being. He was tall with dark, tanned skin, and ebony hair. His eyes were golden and burned into me as the two twisted horns grew from the crest of his forehead.
He only nodded.