Steven blinked at his reflection that stared back at him from the impeccably polished mahogany dining table.
Was this his face?
Lines etched deep into pallid, sagging flesh; tired, weary eyes, tinged with uncertainty that searched back, needing an explanation but finding none.
He watched as his right arm extended in front of him; noticed his fist as it relaxed and dropped the die onto the gleaming table. The sound of it clattering across the slick, smooth surface reverberated in his ears like thunder as it slowly came to stillness revealing a single black dot at its center.
He gave a shuddered sigh and reached for the large, long brass key that lay next to where the die had ceased its erratic dance. It felt cool and familiar in his hand..and he braced himself for the flood of memories that would surely come. But they did not. He turned the key over and over in his hand.
Dare he open the chest that rested at the head of the table?
His left hand clutched at his chest momentarily. His heart pounded in his throat as he watched his fingers on his left hand reach toward the rusted padlock that guarded the secrets contained within. A glint of light from the corner of the room caught his eye and his head snapped to the right to investigate.
He let out a captive breath when he realised that it was only a reflection of the flames from the fire burning in the hearth and bouncing off the world globe that sat on the desk in the corner of the room. The desk belonged to him. It was a great oak monstrostiy that had been his father's and his grandfather's before him. Like the table in front of him - and everything else in this cursed house.
How many hours had he wasted at this desk - in this house, dreaming instead of doing? Instead of living?
His meandering thoughts were once again interrupted by the grandfather clock out in the hall impatienting calling out the hour with a loud, insistant bong! bong! An insistant reminder that time was still slipping through his bony, arthritic fingers with a steady pace.
He turned his attention back to the chest on the table and the key in his sweaty palm. His tongue swept nervously across cracked, dry weathered lips..
Would the key fit the lock? Would it be able to open that long-forgotten rusty latch?
His scalp crawled suddenly as if someone had waived a wand and touched the wisps of sparse, unruly white strands of surviving hair on his balding head. He quickly brushed at his hair with his hand.
He looked again back to the chest. His hands were now trembling He had to open it. But it frightened him. Not because of what was in it. He was pretty sure he knew what was in it and that was bad enough. What scared him even more was what is was doing here now, when it had been buried along with its nightmare over fifty years ago.