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   Chapter 40 Keeper of the Crossroads

Keeper of the Crossroads By Valerie Gaumont Characters: 9215

Updated: 2018-03-13 11:10

Chapter 40

Jamie shrugged into a light jacket and waved to Del as he headed towards the door leading to the basement. As he turned the door knob Jamie frowned. For nearly all of his child hood he had spent summers at Albe's. When the weather was bad he would explore the house, sometimes with Albe sometimes without.

Before Albe's death he would have sworn he had covered every inch of the house in his searching. Now he had found there was at least one entire floor he had never investigated and with a start he realized that he had never been in the basement. Jamie let his hand fall away from the door knob as he thought. He couldn't remember Albe ever telling him not to go into the basement. He could remember seeing the door when he was a child, but he could never remember opening it. Considering how many of the doors he opened without thinking, he found it odd that he had never even peered inside.

"House, " Jamie said.

"Yes Keeper."

"Is there anything special about the basement?"

"I am the House of the Keeper of the Crossroads. All of my rooms are special." House replied sounding a little bit offended.

"Of course, " Jamie said quickly. "I merely meant is there a reason that someone other than the Keeper wouldn't be able to go into the basement? Like the hidden floor upstairs."

"No Keeper." Jamie thought for a moment, trying to figure out a way to phrase his question in a way that the House would actually understand him. He thought of how he would ask the question of a very small and less than intuitive child.

"Is there anything that makes the basement different from the rest of the house?"

"It was part of the House before me."

"How does that make it different?"

"It is not the House of the Keeper. It was the House of the Keeper."

"You mean it was the House of the Keeper, but it isn't any more?" Jamie asked speaking slowly, trying to not only understand what House was saying but to ask in ways it would understand.

"No Keeper. It was the House of the Keeper. It cannot cease to be the House of the Keeper. And I am the House of the Keeper." Jamie stared at the basement door as if memorizing the grain of the wood as he tried to work through what he was being told.

"So once a House is the House of the Keeper it is always the House of the Keeper?"

"Yes Keeper." House seemed pleased as though he were a slow student who had finally managed to realize that not only did two plus one equal three, but one plus two also equaled three. Jamie realized that he was thinking of House as still a building, a sentient and somewhat intelligent building but a building nonetheless.

"Perhaps I should think of it as a living organism, " Jamie thought. "In that case the previous house

lf was smoke stained.

"Maybe half was damaged before the fire got out of control and the other half crumbled when the fire finally stopped." Part of him wanted to run his hands along the roughly broken stone but for some reason that sounded like a really bad idea. With a start Jamie realized he had taken two steps towards the mantle and had extended his hand. Jamie balled his hands into fists and lowered them to his sides. He felt a weight surround him, pressing in on him as if he were swimming deep under water.

"I think it's time to hit the books, " He decided. Jamie turned back to the stairs and began to climb back towards the rectangle of light. He climbed two stairs and felt his steps slow as if the air around him had suddenly thickened and he couldn't move quickly through it. He stopped and half turned back before he caught himself. Jamie grimaced and turned back towards the open door. He took another step. The pressure increased around him. He grit his teeth to keep from exclaiming aloud and forced himself to take another step.

Sweat popped out on his forehead and began to run down his hairline making him shiver. He forced himself to take another step. His heart was racing with fear and he was pretty sure the adrenaline rush brought on by the terror of being trapped in the basement helped him force his way up the staircase. The pressure around him did not feel malevolent but it did feel persistent.

With a final heave of effort Jamie pushed his way to the top and stepped out onto the main floor. Jamie turned to just the door to the basement and what felt like a wave of disappointment flutter around him. Jamie frowned and closed the door to the basement. He swallowed hard a couple of times as though popping his ears after a long swim.

"Next time I think I'll start with the books."

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