Here is Chapter 10 of The Reader’s Fairy Tale: Lucas and the House of Lies. We are not quite half way through this exciting tale, and Lucas has managed to get into a little bit of trouble.
As always, you can read this in Wattpad as well for those of you app people.
Chapter 10–The Golden Voice
The room was empty when Lucas pushed the door open, Brandon’s side of the room a visual hurricane and Lucas’s side the visual equivalent of chewing on aspirin. He set his pile of clothes on his mattress, neatly folded and stacked under Carl’s attentive supervision.
Someone had left a set of sheets on his bed, pale blue with tiny white dots. There was also a pillow and a waterproof mattress pad. He tossed his duffel bag in the corner, and arranged his clothes in the dresser at the end of his bed.
I guess community sheets are better than a community mattress. They smelled like fabric softener as he shook them out and made up the bed. He put the blanket that Brandon had loaned him on top since he didn’t have anything else, spreading the tie-dye to his side of the room.
Share the rainbow.
Lucas looked around, not sure what else to do. His backpack leaned against the wall by the dresser, one zipper replaced by a paperclip. He sighed. No sense in homework if he wasn’t going to school. He didn’t draw or read, either.
Maybe there’s something to do in the rec room. With that thought came the hope that he would see Ami.
On his way down the stairs, Lucas’s belly rumbled. Missing breakfast was catching up to him, and his stomach felt a little like the choppy waves on the river when a storm blew in.
He was hungry.
On the third floor, Lucas paused, his hand on the banister to help swing him around to the next flight of stairs. He caught himself one step down to the second floor. A melody floated softly down the hallway, muffled by the thick carpet.
A harp? Lucas wasn’t much of an expert on instruments, but that was the first thing that came to mind. Pa had taken him to a famous cathedral in the city a few years ago, and Lucas had spent hours staring in awe at the stained glass pictures of angels and cherubs. The cherubs all looked like fat little kids with chubby white wings.
But the angels were different. They were fully grown people but ageless, their faces showing compassion and vengeance and hope all at once. And they carried small versions of what Pa said were harps.
The sound floating down the hallway is what Lucas had imagined would come from those harps.
He stepped back up and headed a few paces down the hallway, looking behind him to see if anybody was watching. He listened for a moment to the music, then followed it down the hallway. He passed the laundry room, the washer and dryer sitting in the small space like ghosts.
The music grew louder. Even with the fluctuations of the song, Lucas knew he was getting closer to the source. A door at the end of the hallway stood open a crack. Lucas peered in.
The room was much like Zagan’s office with tall windows on one wall overlooking the city. Padded fabric panels lined the walls instead of shelves with books, interspersed by antique wall sconces. It sort of reminded Lucas of an old-fashioned movie theater with windows instead of a screen.
Ami sat cross-legged on mustard yellow carpet, her eyes closed and her head thrown back. Tate stood in front of the windows, the perfect golden sounds coming somehow from his ugly throat.
The tall boy looked…happy.
Tate finished whatever that was—a song, Lucas supposed—and pressed his hand to his chest. He blinked in the sunlight as if he were waking from a dream. Ami opened her eyes and smiled.
Lucas stepped back, his heart beating fast. He felt like he almost got caught doing something wrong. He turned and headed down the hallway, his stomach reminding him where he had been headed in the first place.
In the foyer, Lucas walked by the usual sounds coming from the rec room and turned to the kitchen. It was surprisingly modern and tasteful compared to the rest of the house. White cabinets ran along the walls, with crystal knobs and glass set in some of the doors. There were two white fridges and two microwaves, and a sink under the single window in the room. The countertops were a medium gray, with a bowl of fruit on the end of the counter near a door on the other side of the room from where he stepped in from the entry.
In the center of the room was a large island, its surface smooth and shiny. Max sat on a stool, eating a sandwich.
Lucas watched him for a moment. The boy was probably Lucas’s age but smaller, or at least looked smaller in all of the black he wore. He looked tired, almost gray, under greasy blond hair. He chewed slowly, as if forcing himself to eat.
Clearing his throat, Lucas headed for the fridges.
Max swallowed, “Hey, Lucas. Found the kitchen, huh?”
“Yeah,” Lucas pulled a fridge door open and stuck his head inside. The shelves were packed with food. Lucas found some sandwich meat, sliced cheese, and mayonnaise. He set them on the island counter and poked his head back in.
“Whatcha looking for?” Max croaked out around a mouth full of bread and tomato.
Lucas closed the door and opened the other fridge. He found tortillas in one of the deli drawers and flopped them on the counter next to the other sandwich parts.
Max brushed his hands over his plate, half of his sandwich left. He watched Lucas layer his tortilla with the meat, cheese, and mayonnaise and roll it up on a plate.
“Rooming with Brandon?”
Lucas had just taken a bite, the food bulging in his cheeks. He nodded. Max had stood by when Mona, the old orphanage matron, had sent Lucas up the stairs with Brandon as soon as Lucas had arrived at Mendacium.
Max took a sip of his orange juice but kept his eyes on Lucas’s face.
Lucas swallowed, “You were there.”
“Yeah,” was all Max said. He watched Lucas chew a couple more bites.
Lucas stopped and matched the pale boy’s gaze. Under the greasy blond hair, his eyes were a flat brown, absorbing the light coming in the window.
“You lied,” Lucas said.
Max swirled his orange juice around the glass. “Yeah.”
“That’s not cool.”
“It was only a little lie. No big. You made it here eventually.”
“It made me miss breakfast,” Lucas pointed at Max with his rolled tortilla.
“You didn’t look that hungry.”
“Well, I was hungry.”
Max shrugged, “Sorry.”
Lucas stared at him for a moment, setting his food down on the plate. Max didn’t look very sorry. He looked very much like he didn’t care at all. He reminded Lucas a little of Manny. It don’t matter.
He put both hands on the counter and leaned in. “Does everybody here lie?”
Max looked around the kitchen like he was thinking, then finished his orange juice and set the glass down on the countertop.
Lucas nodded. “Why?”
“What do you mean ‘why’?” Max’s face was as flat as his eyes. “Why do you lie?”
“I…” Lucas almost said I don’t lie, but thought better about it. “I only tell little lies.”
“Little lies? Like ‘I got lost on my way to the laundry room’ kind of little lies?” Max raised an eyebrow.
Something pricked at Lucas and his brain churned. He felt like there was something important he should remember.
“I did get lost on my way to the laundry room,” Lucas leaned back and picked off a small piece of tortilla. “How did you know about that anyway?”
“And everybody lies. We just….do it more than most.”
“I guess.” Lucas picked his tortilla up and took another bite. Lucas chewed and watched the other boy. Max didn’t give much away in his expressions, coming across as somber and thoughtful but apathetic. Lucas guessed that Max knew a lot more than he let on.
“So, what’s the deal with this place?” Lucas asked through a mouthful of meat and cheese.
Max slid off of the stool and picked up his plate and glass. He walked around the island to set the dishes in the sink, then turned and leaned back, his hands braced behind him.
“The best answer to that,” he watched Lucas swallow the last of his lunch, “is in the rec room.”
Who is your favorite character? They were fun for me to write, so please let me know in the comments.