Miranda Kate’s Picture Choice: 1
Title: Changing the Rules
When Michael opened his eyes he couldn’t see anything. He also realised he couldn’t move. He tried shifting his body round, but realised that he was in an enclosed space. He tried to stifle feelings of panic and thumped hard on the walls around him. All were brick except one, which was wooden. The more he hit it the more it rattled; he wondered if it was a door. He found a horizontal seam and ran his fingers along it until he found a lock of some kind. He fiddled with it, trying to picture it in his mind, and then he heard a click.
As the door swung open he fell out onto the floor. He realised he must have been on a shelf of some sort, maybe inside a cupboard, but as there was no light in the area he’d fallen into, he still didn’t know. He stumbled to his feet and searched the walls with his hands.
Finally his hand rested on something and he pushed. The corridor filled with light. He had indeed been inside a cupboard, a linen cupboard by the look of the towels and sheets in it. The corridor had a thick carpet with a window at one end, while the other disappeared round a corner.
“Rob?” He called out hoping to get a reply, but no sound came back. He took a walk to the corner and found it led to another corridor, this time with rooms leading off it and a stairwell at the end.
The stairs were wide and went down in a curling sweep, again covered in plush carpet. He could see light downstairs, but still no sound.
He took his time, having no idea what to expect. He was in a house of some sort – a rather stately one by the look of the expensive furnishings and fine landscape paintings hanging at intervals along the stairwell.
He arrived in an entrance hallway; everything was oak and brass. Then a voice came to him.
“Michael, I’m in here.”
Initially he thought it was in his head, where he was used to hearing that voice, but realised it had come from one of the downstairs rooms; the soft furnishing making it sound flat and distant.
Two rooms went off the hallway, and he picked the one he thought it had come from. When he arrived at the doorway he saw he’d chosen correctly.
Sitting facing him, in a large high-backed armchair next to the fireplace, was the Jester. He looked like a rather haggard Vincent Price, ready to tell a very scary story.
Michael remained at the door, not quite believing what he was seeing.
“Michael, come in, come in, sit, sit.” He gestured to the armchair opposite him.
Michael took careful steps into the room. “Where’s Rob?”
The Jester giggled a little. “Yes, where indeed. Let’s talk.”
Michael didn’t like the sound of that, but wanted to hear more. He took the proffered seat and waited.
“Michael, we meet at last. I’m astounded by your game playing and your ingenuity; getting a friend to help. Wonderful, I hadn’t anticipated that. It was an interesting way to be caught.”
“If I caught you, how come I’m not home?”
“You don’t like the house, Michael? I always find it rather comfortable, it meets all my needs. You must embrace all the good places, they’re far and few between on your travels.”
“I don’t expect there to be anymore, I caught you.”
“Yes you did, but humour me a little Michael, because in fact you cheated.”
“What?” Michael was flabbergasted.
“Only YOU were meant to catch me; you weren’t supposed to bring in other players. Although I’m not knocking it, it’s good for me to have a new challenge.”
Michael felt like the Jester was talking in riddles. “New challenge? What are you talking about?”
“You don’t expect to pull a stunt like that and get away with it, surely?”
Michael opened his mouth, but no words came; he was speechless.
“I can’t have all of you trying that now, can I? No. So I have to devise a new strategy, a new game if you will, and now with two players.”
Michael was confused. “I don’t follow?”
“You want to know where Rob is Michael? Then you have to find him. That will get you, your ticket home.”
“What? Is he here somewhere? In this time?”
The Jester shrugged. “Who knows? He probably doesn’t.”
And then the Jester laughed, his cackle escalating towards its crescendo. Michael feared for the glass in the windows, along with his ears drums. He clamped his hands over his ears, and shut his eyes until it stopped.
When he opened them the Jester was gone.
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