Invisible Paint Brushes rock Circulation: 194,869,658 Issue: 803 | 27th day of Collecting, Y19
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The Tremblay House


by catchinglights

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      At the end of Fetch Close, just off Winding Woods Drive, stood the Tremblay House. It had always been known as such, although none of the neighbors could remember a Neopian named Tremblay ever living there.

     The Tremblay House’s most recent occupant was a pink Lenny named Lucy Parker. The recent Brightvale University graduate found the house too large, however, its low list price had appealed to her.

     Lucy wavered as she gazed at the Tremblay House; its impressive façade could not adequately be conveyed in a simple photo advertisement. "It’s... big," the Lenny said, eyes shifting to double check the price on the advertisement – and the address.

     "Well, yes, lass. Three story houses with full attics and basements tend to be large," a voice replied over Lucy’s shoulder. She spun around to see a Kiko dressed sharply in a dark gray suit top and a monocle.

     "And you’re sure you’re willing to let it go for so... cheap? Why, I couldn’t even stay for a year in the NeoLodge for this price!" Lucy exclaimed.

     "First, lass, I’m not the owner of this fine estate, merely his agent. While your financial transactions – and indeed all communications – will be through me, please do not mistake me for him," the Kiko said.

     "Understood... I think. And the price?" Lucy asked.

     "It’s been on the market a long time."

     And thus Lucy became the new owner of the Tremblay House with little fanfare, merely the exchange of Neopoints for keys. Lucy had no need for such frivolities; she only intended to use the Tremblay House as a dwelling to return to at night. The house may have been a good fit for a noble or a family, but for Lucy’s tastes it was too empty, too large. Or perhaps Lucy was simply too small for the Tremblay House.

     The halls of the house echoed almost yearningly for days long since passed; Lucy’s scant furnishings allowed them to fill with entirely too much air. The grand ballroom went unused. The great dining hall – once host to many extravagant feasts – was unrecognizable with Lucy’s single table shoved up against a corner.

     The greatest divide between Lucy’s modest sensibilities and the Tremblay House’s grandiose countenance was its exterior. The house had had its fair share of occupants and visitors, and the one thing they all had shared was a deep admiration for the Tremblay House’s façade. It was a façade that had been made for admiring, unlike more modern dwellings. And all had admired it, except Lucy. Lucy could not stand the sight of her own home.

     "I’ll never get used to how big this place is," Lucy confided to her friend Emma one morning over coffee. The two girls were seated at Lucy’s tiny table. "I have to rush home after work every night because I don’t like how this place looks in the dark."

     "That’s because you’re not doing anything with it," Emma replied. The green Wocky gestured at the otherwise empty dining hall. "You need to get more things, decorate this place, make it your own."

     "I can’t afford more things," Lucy replied, glancing down into the murky depths of her coffee. "Even though this place was cheap, money is still tight."

     "I’m sure there are a few valuable antiques here you could sell," Emma suggested.

     Lucy shook her head. "I could never sell this stuff," she said, aghast. "I mean, I know it is mine, but it sort of feels like it... belongs to the house. If that makes sense?"

     "Not in the slightest," Emma replied. "Listen, I’ve been thinking of getting a roommate, so you just let me know when you’re sick of living in a museum."

     "I will."

     Though she did not discuss it often, Lucy rather enjoyed many of the possessions around the Tremblay House. Its library, massive and comprehensive with a remarkable collection of first editions and other rare tomes, was a favorite haunt of hers. She also appreciated the many portraits hanging in the halls, despite the austere expressions on each subject. Sometimes when Lucy was bored, she would create stories for the Neopians pictured in those portraits within her mind.

     The one object Lucy considered getting rid of was a strange statuette displayed prominently in the foyer. It stood on its own marble plinth between the two curved staircases. The statuette was an ancient Mynci made of solid silver, baring his teeth at some unknown foe. Normally, that would not bother Lucy; it was the Mynci’s eyes, however, that she hated. Rather than silver, the eyes were two rubies that gleamed even in darkness. Lucy swore, though it was not possible, that the Mynci was watching her.

     A week was all it took for Lucy to get sick of coming home to the statuette. "Here, this window overlooks the grounds. Isn’t that much better than staring at the front door?" Lucy told the statuette as she set it up facing a second story window on the back of the house. "Of course it is. Think of all the nice things you’ll see out that window. Way less boring than watching me come and go..."

     "Lucy, who are you talking to?" Emma’s voice floated into the room as she ascended the stairs.

     "Oh, just thinking about I want to write today," Lucy lied.

     "Oh-kay," Emma replied. "Anyway, are you ready to go? We’ve got a deadline!"

     "Sure, sure. Let me get my bag!"

     Night had fallen when Lucy returned to the Tremblay House. Clouds obscured the moon; she preferred the total blackness blanketing the sharp, frightening face of her home. The front door groaned as Lucy pushed it inward. It was a cruel stroke of fate, or perhaps something more, which parted the clouds at the exact moment Lucy exposed her foyer to the night sky. A cold moonbeam struck twin rubies, glinting with malicious humor. The rest of the statuette was cast in a sharp relief. Lucy screamed a pure haunting wail that was best left unheard. It was all she could do to pull the Virtupets-brand burglar alarm on the wall near the door.

     The Chia detective and his Gelert assistant who responded to the call found her there: eyes wide, mouth agape, hand clutching the alarm’s lever.

     "Ma’am, are you okay? What seems to be the problem?" the detective asked.

     "The statue... the statue," Lucy babbled. "Someone m-must have been in here and they... they moved the statue!"

     The Chia and the Gelert exchanged glances before their eyes settled on the Mynci statuette. It was grotesque; the only things worth stealing were the dull rubies serving as the eyes, although both officers suspected they were fake. "Ma’am, are you saying that someone came into your house just to move a statue?"

     "What other explanation is there? It’s not like the statue just got up and walked out here on its own! That would be crazy, and... and I’m not crazy," Lucy shrieked.

     "I didn’t say you were, ma’am," the Chia replied. "You might just be overworked. Maybe you came home in a fugue one night, re-decorated, and forgot all about it? I recommend you take a few days off work, maybe arrange to spend the night at a friend’s house."

     "Aren’t you even going to investigate?" Lucy asked.

     "We are," the Chia said. "We just aren’t investigating the intruder angle, because frankly, a serial prankster who moves people’s furniture around is unlikely, and our department has other criminals that need catching. I recommend getting some sleep and considering what I said."

     "I... I understand, officer, I’ll do just that."

     Lucy, however, did not do just that. She did not sleep at all. When morning broke and a soft knock echoed off her front door, Lucy stumbled forward and opened it.

     "I got your message – girl, what is wrong with you? You look like you didn’t sleep at all!" Emma asked with a gasp.

     "Are you still looking for a roommate?" Lucy asked haggardly, gesturing to the pile of overflowing cardboard boxes. "I’m tired of living in a museum."

     ***

     At the end of Fetch Close, just off Winding Woods Drive, stood the Tremblay House. It had always been known as such, although none of the neighbors could remember a Neopian named Tremblay ever living there.

     The Tremblay House’s most recent occupant was a shadow Elephante named Ambrose Whitmore.

     "Striking architecture – quite rare in this region to see a manor so gray and with such an ornate exterior. Many comparably priced homes are more pedestrian and utilitarian in design – no character at all," Ambrose appraised. "And, homes that are aesthetically similar to this are much pricier."

     Two columns topped with two black Skeith statues, that on rainy days served to funnel water from the roof away from the beautiful stonework, held up the low, rounded front porch. On either side, the manor extended with evenly spaced bay windows set into the ground floor. The windows on the upper floors were tall and the roof peaked around each of them. At the corners of the house and the peaks in the roof were identical flat-topped columns.

     The Elephante nodded after he was finished examining the house. "I must say, however, what sort of name is the Tremblay House?"

     "The family who originally lived in this house was named Tremblay," the agent, a Kiko wearing a cheap, off-the-rack suit and plastic monocle, explained. "The neighbors still call it that out of tradition."

     "Harrumph! By the time I’m done here, my boy, they’ll be calling it Whitmore Manor," Ambrose chortled.

     "I’m sure they will, sir," agreed the Kiko with a smile that didn’t reach his eyes. "I take it you are interested in purchasing, then?"

     "Yes, but – ahem – could you see to it that the advertisement for the place is removed quickly?" Ambrose requested as he handed over a large bag of Neopoints. "Wouldn’t want my neighbors knowing how much, or rather little, I paid for the place."

     "I’ll do my best sir."

     And thus Ambrose became the new owner of the Tremblay House. His first order of business was to host a great dinner party and invite all his neighbors. The grand ballroom and enormous dining room were perfect for a dinner party. Ambrose spent the first few days living in his new home redecorating the main entertaining spaces.

     The end result was the foyer, ballroom, and dining room were covered in portraits and artwork and a few of the rarer tomes from the library, while the rest of the house was scantly furnished with obvious marks in the carpets and walls where decorations once stood.

     "Plenty of time to buy more furniture later," Ambrose remarked to himself as he gazed at the stark black spots in the light gray carpet where half of his bedroom furnishings had once stood. "Making a good first impression is important, after all!"

     Nonetheless, Ambrose found himself spending more and more time in the ballroom, amidst the antiques. His favorite, which had received a place of honor at the forefront, was a statue of a silver Mynci. Ambrose decided he had found the statue whilst exploring the ruins of Geraptiku – he hadn’t actually, of course, but his neighbors wouldn’t know that. The only things he disliked were the gaudy ruby eyes. With a kitchen knife, he gouged them out. "If these ridiculous things are real, they’ll certainly fetch good coin," Ambrose said as he worked.

     The day of the party arrived, and through the house emanated the smell of meats, juices, and vegetables. He had spent his remaining Neopoints on the finest foods – it would be tough making ends meet, but the elite of Neopia Central deserved nothing less!

     Ambrose’s heart leapt and fluttered when he heard the first knock at the door.

     It was a struggle to hide his dismay when he opened the door and instead of a fancily-dressed lord, his first guest was a Techo wearing a green sweater and blue jeans. Ripped blue jeans. "Uh, is this the," he squinted at his invitation, "Whitmore Manor Dinner Party?"

     "It is indeed," Ambrose said. "Do come in."

     Steady on, Ambrose. You can’t judge a book by his cover. I’ve heard some of the rich kids today like wearing common clothes to spite their parents. His family is probably filthy rich, yes that’s it!

     Unfortunately, that did not appear to be it.

     After the Techo was a long line of Neopians, all bearing his painstakingly personalized invitations while all wearing Neopoint-a-dozen outfits from Uni’s Clothing. Never in all his dreams did Ambrose think he’d be dreading the moment he crossed the final name off his guest list and it came time to go mingle with his visitors.

     They were all gawking at his antiques as though they’d never seen any before – and judging from their clothing choices, Ambrose was sure they hadn’t. They chomped on his food while continuing to speak; some even ate with their hands. Ambrose ignored his own food, instead waiting for one of them to just shove his face into the plate and eat like a wild beast – oh wouldn’t that just be fitting.

     "So, uh, this is a pretty cool statue," the Techo said, prodding at the silver Mynci. Ambrose winced as his greasy finger marred the polished surface.

     "Yes, I got it from one of my travels deep within Geraptiku," Ambrose lied in what he hoped was a boisterous, bold voice. "I risked my life climbing through all sorts of ancient ruins and fending off crazed beasts for this beauty."

     "That’s cool," the Techo replied, although his eyes had glazed over somewhat. "Hey, I got a seashell once from the beach! It’s just a brown seashell... and I didn’t fight anyone to get it, but I still like it. Next time I come over, I’ll bring it to show you!"

     "I’m looking forward to it."

     What Ambrose was truly looking forward to was these uncultured louts leaving, although he was far too refined and polite to say so. He wanted to hide away deep in his unfurnished bedroom and forget all about the dinner party. The mess could stay; he wasn’t in a hurry to repeat the debacle.

     After the party, Ambrose stared around at the disarray. Plates and silverware had been moved from their homes on the dining room table and were left on every convenient surface. His antiques were covered in flecks of food. Several rare books had disappeared into puffs of colored smoke while the others bore grease-marks and newly dog-eared pages. Anger welled within Ambrose. With a wave of his mighty forearm, he sent the Mynci and the pedestal crashing to the ground. The sharp crack of the statue’s head separating from its body was music to Ambrose’s ears. Not that he harbored any ill will toward the statue itself; the act of pure, senseless destruction was cathartic.

     His anger spent, the Elephante trudged up the stairs to his barren bedroom. Gazing upon it, all he felt was dismay – all that time redecorating, and it was all for a bunch of peasants to not appreciate his work at all. "Tomorrow I will put everything back. These niceties will be for my eyes only," Ambrose declared to himself, settling into bed and embracing the call of sleep.

     A searing pain tearing through the front of his head ripped Ambrose from his slumber. The Elephante howled and clutched at his face. The room around him was pitch black; Ambrose could not see a thing. He tore away his covers and stumbled out of bed into the bathroom. He always kept a small lantern lit in the bathroom in case of emergencies, but tonight he couldn’t see it. Had it burned out? No.

     The pain, he realized with horror, was coming from his eyes.

     "What is happening to me? I... I’m blind! I can’t see!" he moaned. Hot tears burned their way down his cheeks.

     Ambrose lurched out of the bathroom and groped around for, something, anything to latch onto to help steady himself. Why had he moved all the furniture into two rooms? Ambrose sobbed as he grabbed blindly at nothingness. He needed out! He needed help! "M-my neighbors," he mumbled through his sobs. "After what I did last night, they’re sure to help. They owe me."

     The Elephante eventually found his way to his front door and threw it open. And there! – it was very far, but he could see something faintly red. Was this a sign that he was merely ill and not permanently blind? Ambrose knew was that he needed to follow the hazy red pinpricks at the very edge of his vision. If he could reach them, he would surely see again.

     Ambrose stumbled along the path leading away from the Tremblay House, following the two red specks that were, always, tantalizingly out of reach.

     ***

     At the end of Fetch Close, just off Winding Woods Drive, stood the Tremblay House. It had always been known as such, although none of the neighbors could remember a Neopian named Tremblay ever living there.

     The Tremblay House’s most recent occupant was a skunk Acara named Tony Grimsley.

     "So, yeah dude, this place seems rad," Tony said to the agent. He was wearing dark sunglasses and paying little attention to anything, least of all the other Neopian whom he had deemed largely irrelevant.

     "You seem a little young to be buying a house sir," the Kiko agent said.

     "Well yeah, dude, I’m in my last year of school. I need a place to chill and par-tay with my friends where the ‘rents can’t get in the way," Tony said. "You seem like a dude, so keep it on the ‘dee ell,’ I have a hookup at the Neocola factory so the soda will be flowin’."

     "My lips are sealed, sir," the Kiko said. "As soon as you make the purchase, the house is yours and you can do with it what you wish. Do you have the money?"

     "Oh yeah, ‘do I have the money?’ You hearin’ yourself, bro? You may have heard of my dad, he’s super rich – more money than brains if you know what I’m sayin’," Tony snickered as he pulled out a bag of Neopoints. "There you go, payment in full courtesy of Alexander Grimsley."

     The Kiko took the money, and sneered briefly. He examined it and once he was done, he handed the key to Tony. "Everything seems to be in order, Mr. Grimsley. I’ll process the paperwork and get it in the mail right away. Is this address fine – you know, to keep this arrangement on ‘the dee ell?’"

     "Totally!"

     And thus Tony became the new owner of the Tremblay House. As soon as the Kiko agent was out of the vicinity, the wealthy young Acara gestured to the bushes at the edge of the property, out of which spilled several dozen Neopets carrying cases of Neocola. "No time like the present, bros, let’s get the party started!" Tony announced with a raucous grin.

     Music the likes of which the Tremblay House had never heard was pumping through the halls, causing the walls to vibrate and shake. One could swear the scowls on the wobbling portraits became more pronounced. The beautiful carpets and floors were soon stained with sticky brown Neocola that had been spilled. Many of the exquisite candlesticks and vases were knocked over and broken. And none of this mattered to Tony, who only cared that he and his friends were having fun as he certainly had no intentions of living in the old dusty dump.

     "Hey, hey Tony!" a Draik wearing a matching pair of sunglasses called out while holding up an ornate Draik statue. "Can I have this?"

     "Yeah, sure!" Tony replied with a laugh. "All this stuff’s junk to me, take what you want!"

     Tony’s best friend Marcus held up a strange statue of a silver Mynci with bright red eyes and laughed. "If Erik gets a statue of him it’s only fair I get a statue of me!"

     "That statue ain’t you, bro! You wish your eyes were rubies!" guffawed Tony.

     At the end of the party, Tony was delighted to see that he still had several cases of Neocola. Humming to himself, the Acara began to move them to the basement where they would hopefully stay cool until the next party. Ugh algebra homework is the worst. I’ll just throw another party next weekend and pay off the teacher instead, he decided.

     What Tony saw in the basement storeroom made him jump; he dropped his box and didn’t even realize for several moments that it was crushing his foot.

     Sitting on the low table against the far wall was a statue of a Mynci with bright red eyes. The statue he had given to Marcus. Tony burst out laughing. "Cool prank, bro. Alright, alright, you got me!"

     When his laughter was met with silence, Tony turned around expecting to see Marcus leaping from some dark corner with that impish expression he got when he pranked someone good. He was not expecting to see a plain brick wall where the door used to be. "Yo, this isn’t funny," Tony said, slapping the wall and half expecting it to be fake, a cardboard façade to fool him. It was solid under his hand. Turning back around, Tony saw the Mynci on the table was still there, but closer. Was the room getting smaller? It couldn’t be – his mind was playing tricks on him.

     "Bro, this is not cool! If this is how you wanna game, then you are so uninvited from my parties!" Tony bellowed. Again, he got no response. The young Acara began to shake with a foul combination of fear and anger. He screamed and began to beat against the wall for what felt like hours, but to no avail.

     His energy spent, Tony eventually collapsed to the floor and weakly tapped at the wall every so often. "Not cool. This is not cool. Let me out. Please let me out." He sniffled. "I don’t wanna be stuck in here forever."

     ***

     At the end of Fetch Close, just off Winding Woods Drive, stood the Tremblay House. It stands there no longer, as it was demolished years ago, leaving a pile of dirt in its place. The name Tremblay no longer means anything to the neighbors, and they are looking forward to turning the plot of dirt into a community garden. All of the artifacts within the Tremblay House were demolished with it, except for a strange statue of a Mynci. When the new owner carried it and it alone from the house before the demolition, he was asked why he chose that particular statue to take.

     "This statue does not deserve to be destroyed, but to have a place of honor within my estate. Now, no more questions, if you please. I would like the wrecking crew to get to work taking this place down as soon as possible."

The End.

 
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