By John Adams
Longington Manor was the one residence James Clickerton had ever identified. Orphaned at 4, Clickerton was ushered below the Longington’s safety and had served them since adolescence.
One night time, Mrs. Greenmary, the scowl-drenched housekeeper, demanded Clickerton clear the attic. “This place is tumbling towards neglect,” she crowed. So, armed with a candle and broom, Clickerton swung down the ladder door, and trudged into the mud.
Sweeping apart cobwebs, he noticed a telescope, rusting close to a window. As adolescents, Clickerton and Grasp Goodwin spent numerous evenings beside that telescope. Watching the sky. Watching one another. “Sometime, we will go to these stars, my Clickity-Click on,” Goodwin usually whispered, his breath tickling Clickerton’s earlobe.
Clickerton realized many issues these nights. However terribly little about stars.
Few condoned Clickerton’s friendship with Goodwin. Actually not Mrs. Greenmary. “Gents outgrow childhood toys,” she routinely huffed.
Goodwin disdained such warnings—disdained any societal shackles restraining their bond. Earlier than boarding his ship to Madagascar, he even begged Clickerton to accompany him.
“Your mother and father forbade me,” Clickerton replied, misty-eyed. “Moreover…Longington Manor is the one residence I’ve ever identified.”
Goodwin sighed. “Then, I shall return in six months—and gaze into the Indian Ocean every intervening day, remembering you.”
Goodwin had not returned in six months. Nor had anybody on that ill-fated vessel.
Three years later, within the attic, Clickerton studied Goodwin’s telescope, remembering the previous, imagining the long run. Indulging a frequent fantasy, he envisioned a sea-soaked Goodwin, triumphantly returning to Longington Manor. To his overjoyed mother and father. To his Clickety-Click on. Goodwin and Clickerton would lock eyes. Smile. Embrace. They—
Clickerton trembled. No. Goodwin was misplaced perpetually. Daydreams solely tormented the ache. Desperate to silence such ideas, Clickerton latched onto a simple distraction and peered into the telescope lens.
Excessive above, an uncanny orb spun—in contrast to something Clickerton remembered from previous stargazing. It resembled a toddler’s ball, however mirrored.
Its floor mirrored infinite stars.
Breath tickled Clickerton’s earlobe.
He whirled round, determined to see the acquainted lips respiration this attic mud. Besides in some way… in some way, Clickerton was not in the attic.
This room was bigger, huge even. A dangling mirrored ball, similar to the orb glimpsed by Goodwin’s telescope, glistened purple lights. Music thumped extra jubilantly than something Mrs. Greenmary’s Victrola spat out.
Glitter-garbed revelers rejoiced. Males in stark-white fits jutted fingers upwards. Girls rolled by on wheeled footwear, and scant else. On stage—sure, an precise stage!—a girl in gold trousers sang, alternatively asking the place her child “bought the notion,” then imploring he not “rock the boat.”
However the greatest shock stood earlier than him.
Regardless of the glittering face, the garish purple swimsuit, Clickerton acknowledged the good-looking determine. “M-master Goodwin! It has been…three years…Your-your ship…”
“…has landed.” Goodwin leaned shut, lips poised.
Clickerton stumbled backward. They’d kissed earlier than—many giddy nights; they did little else. However such affection was beforehand reserved for intimate moments, not surrounded by strangers.
But, when Goodwin whispered, “My Clickety-Click on,” and prolonged welcoming arms, Clickerton’s hesitations vanished. He accepted Goodwin’s chilly embrace. The music softened. They usually danced.
“Your look…” Clickerton stated, after a second.
“Affectations.” Goodwin gestured to his gaudy garb, his candied face. “Sequins. Velour. Eyeliner.”
Clickerton sank into Goodwin’s chest, resting down his eyes. “Curious phrases.”
Goodwin chuckled. “The disco period was curious certainly.”
A moan snapped Clickerton’s eyes open. Close by, a person bucked ecstatically as a girl nuzzled his neck. Modesty demanded Clickerton avert his gaze, however he couldn’t. For the girl didn’t merely kiss the person’s neck.
She gnawed it.
Blood trickled onto copper-lamé.
“We could lastly go to these stars, my Clickety-Click on?” Goodwin whispered. Lips parted. Incisors jagged.
Competing waves of terror and heartbreak seized Clickerton. He contorted his fingers right into a cross. “Vampires! Mrs. Greenmary frightened me with such tales as a toddler!”
“Not exactly Goodwin,” Clickerton hissed. “You dare steal my beloved’s face.”
“Affectations.” The Goodwin-looking factor waved a bejeweled hand. “Spectrums. Frequencies. Pheromones.”
“Reveal your self, demon.”
“As you want.” With a protracted sigh, “Goodwin” snapped its fingers. The affectations pale. The dazzling room turned Longington Manor’s uncared for attic. “Goodwin,” together with most of his fellow revelers, equally reworked.
Of their locations stood monstrosities.
Clickerton’s lips trembled. “What…are you?”
“One thing outdoors earthly comprehension,” sputtered the creature that had worn Goodwin’s face.
The person in copper-lamé had remained human, as had just a few others. They smiled serenely, necks seeping blood.
“What foulness inflict you upon these innocents?” Clickerton demanded.
“We go to Earth. Throughout disparate eras. We…gather.”
“Servitude?” Clickerton huffed.
“Companionship. We’re delicate to sustenance-providing life-forms. We request however one burden from them. In change, they journey. Study. Love.”
“You seduced me to satiate your starvation.”
“We sensed your personal starvation from 100 years therefore, James Clickerton. Your craving. Your loyalty.”
“My loyalty lies with him.”
“And if he by no means returns?” The creature’s tone was not unkind.
Clickerton’s eyes welled. “That…That’s the reason it’s known as…loyalty and never…certainty.”
The creature studied Clickerton. “Very properly.”
Clickerton blinked away tears. “You’ll depart? You’ll return my true residence?”
“In additional methods than you understand,” the creature stated. “We entice. We encourage. However we don’t entrap. Fare you properly, James Clickerton.”
It leaned nearer.
To not chunk.
To not kiss.
However to speak. Its whisper tickled Clickerton’s earlobe.
Earlier than Clickerton may untangle its remaining puzzling phrases, glitter stuffed the room. When it pale, the monstrosities and their human companions have been gone. Via the attic window, Clickerton noticed a colossal, mirrored ball, rotating magnificently, spinning away from Longington Manor.
The following morning, Clickerton tendered discover to Mrs. Greenmary and offered his few possessions.
Days later, crammed beneath deck on a squalid ship, chest racing, he remembered the creature’s parting phrases: A starvation mirroring your personal yearns elsewhere on this period…
Longington Manor was the one residence James Clickerton had ever identified. However the home itself was simply wooden. Stone. Cobwebs. Affectations. Clickerton’s true residence waited for him on some shipwrecked island, gazing into the Indian Ocean every intervening day.