ISBN 9789899734869-10

2059 Words
Forgetting that he was in fact, a spirit, Lana screamed when a double-decker bus slammed right into him. 'Oh My God, Oh My God. Joe... Josiah,' she mumbled to herself, her eyes wide open in shock. On the other hand, Emma glanced around at the strangers who had stepped away from them, looking at Lana as if she were a one-eyed monster. 'He's already dead, Lana. Remember?' she whispered as she grabbed her arm and pulled her quickly across the road at the turn of the lights. Lana pulled herself together pretty quickly after that, blushing and trying to hide her face from the onlookers. Joe appeared by their side, a look of terror on his face, 'That was so strange,' he whispered, 'the scariest thing that's ever happened to me,' he mumbled. 'What? Worse than being washed up on the shore and then dying in the hospital?' asked Emma quietly as they continued walking through the streets at the same pace. Joe nodded and then hovered on ahead, moving increasingly quicker and quicker until the girls had to sprint to keep up. Lana had gone very quiet, not even mentioning the many shop fronts they'd passed, or Trafalgar Square which they'd since passed by ages ago. 'Where are we?' yelled Emma as she held firmly on to her sister's hand while copying Joe's slowing pace up in front. 'I... I don't know. Let me get the map out.' Before she could even open it, Joe was beside them. 'Forget about the map, Lana. I think this is far more important,' he said as he pointed to a run-down old building across the street from where they stood. 'Yeah, so it's an old building... you dragged us all this way to show us an old building? This is crazy, Josiah Grimshaw. You know, I think maybe I should just call Declan, and he can come and find us. Give me the card, Emma...' said Lana as Emma put her hand in her pocket and pulled out the now creased business card. As she passed it to her sister, Lana's breath caught in her throat. 'What? What is it?' asked Emma as she glanced down. 'Oh My God,' she exclaimed, covering her mouth with her hands. The business card, which had the words Declan Alexander written on it, also contained something else, something familiar, something that shocked the girls into silence. There on the silver and white card was the same emblem that they now had inked onto their bodies: the winged eye. Even Joe gasped, 'But that's... that's.....' 'Yeah, we know Josiah, it's the same as our tattoos...' answered Lana. 'No, it's not that. I know that already. It's just that, that...' 'That what? Spit it out, Josiah,' said Emma uncharacteristically bossy. Indicating that they should follow him, Joe held out his hand and pointed once again to the old building. As they got closer, they realised what this was all about. Why he'd brought them through Central London in the first place. He'd brought them to this decrepit old house because right there, below an intricate wrought iron door knocker was the very same symbol. CHAPTER 16 As they stood staring, mouths drooped, the door slowly opened in front of them. Emma stepped backwards while Lana tripped over the steep step that led indoors. 'Lana? what on earth are you doing?' whispered Emma desperately as her sister pushed the door further ajar and peered inside. 'What does it look like I'm doing? I'm going in.' 'No... you can't. We can't, that's trespassing...' she added rather pathetically. Lana turned to look at her sister, 'Really? Oh, come on. The door just opened for us. Whoever is here clearly wants us to come in. So come on, follow me...' she said as she disappeared inside. Catching her breath in her throat, Emma turned to look at their surroundings. People went about their lives around them, walking in and out of an impressively large building just a little further down the street, but no-one seemed to be taking any notice of the two girls and the ghost. Not that they could see the ghost, of course. Swallowing loudly, Emma stepped up onto the step, followed by Joe, and walked into the darkness that beckoned. As her eyes adjusted to the lack of light, the door closed of its own accord behind them, making her heart feel like it was about to hop out of her chest. 'Sis? Lana? Where are you?' she said, outstretching her arms and finding her sister directly in front of her. 'What are you doing?' she whispered. 'Just waiting for my eyes to adjust,' she whispered back, 'Joe, can you see in the dark?' 'It's just an old disused room. There's nothing in here at all,' he said, 'But there's a door... follow my voice,' he said as the girls did just that until eventually, they came upon the door he'd mentioned. Holding Emma's hand tightly, Lana found the doorknob and turned, pushing it open slowly. They stepped forward into a room with a large window, daylight so bright that they had to shield their eyes for a moment until they re-adjusted once again. Sparsely furnished, a rather elegant faded yellow chaise-longue stood just beneath a large bay window, covered in a thick layering of dust, giving the impression that the last time it was used was decades ago. Standing to its side was a short little round table, gathering just the same amount of dust, although a tall champagne glass stood on top of it. Lana stepped forward and picked the glass up, gently blowing much of the dust away, leaving a semi-clean circle on the wooden table. Emma began to cough loudly as little particles of dust entered her throat. 'Oops,' said Lana as she patted her sister on the back. 'Look, there's another door,' she said, almost instantly forgetting about Emma's coughing fit as she walked across the room. Opening the door, they saw a grand hallway, its centrepiece, a dramatic wrought iron spiral staircase, the railing caked in dust. 'Please don't touch the dust again, Sis,' wheezed Emma as she followed behind Lana and Joe as they cautiously began to climb the stairs, not wanting to be left behind. When they reached the top, there were several doors off to each side, and a double door directly in front of them. Lana looked across at Emma and smiled before she put both her hands on the two doorknobs and pushed them open dramatically, expecting something impressive beyond them. But there was nothing except a large empty room, bar an old oak wardrobe that looked like it was falling apart. Stepping inside the room, the three of them wandered around, looking out the window, with its' little balcony overlooking a tiny courtyard below. Joe disappeared momentarily. Turning, Lana looked disappointed, 'So this is it? Not really what I was expecting.' 'But what were you expecting, Lana? It's not like we knew this place even existed.' Shrugging her shoulders, Lana pouted, 'I don't know. I guess I was hoping to find the answers, you know?' 'Well, perhaps the answers lie with Declan. We should just ask him about it.' 'I guess you're right.' 'I just checked the rest of the building, and I can see nothing but dusty rooms that haven't seen the light of day for years,' said Joe. 'Well, I guess that's it, then. Thanks for bringing us though, Joe,' Lana said with a sad smile. Standing beside the window, Emma turned abruptly towards them, 'Did you hear that?' she whispered. 'Hear what?' Lana replied as she rushed to her side. 'Listen... someone is... singing.' The three of them stood silently, straining their necks out to hear. Her eyes wide with excitement, Lana turned to Emma and grinned before she followed the sound, moving across the room until eventually, she stood in front of the rickety old wardrobe. Emma followed, her eyebrows knitted together, with Joe standing firmly behind them. Lana carefully pulled open the wardrobe door, expecting to find a woman hiding in there, but instead, there was a whole other room. Emma and Joe followed as she stepped through until they were all standing in an old-fashioned clean and dust-free large airy living space. Shadows from the flickering flames of an open inglenook fire danced across the room, which looked like it was from the Victorian era. Lana and Emma only knew this because the only museum on Andilyse Island just happened to specialise in items from that time. It was a beautiful room, and even though everything in it seemed to scream Antiques Roadshow, it was warm and inviting. So taken by the grandeur of the room that they failed to notice the soft singing had halted. When a chair facing the fire creaked, Emma and Lana gasped. Fearing the unknown, they gulped and stood dead still for someone to make the first move. Suddenly, a warm laugh filled the air, and an old lady leaned sideways from the chair, turning so she could see them. 'Don't be so frightened... come, come... let me have a good look at you.' Lana grabbed Emma's hand, and they cautiously stepped towards the old woman, Joe hovering in the background behind them. As they approached her, she removed her glasses and put down the book she was reading, placing it face down on a coffee table to her right. Emma glanced at it, expecting to find Jane Eyre or something similar. Instead, she was surprised to see the old lady had been reading The Hunger Games. 'Well, you've certainly grown up into beautiful creatures you two. Come, step closer, Lana, I won't bite. You too, Emma.' So shocked that the woman knew their names, the sisters were unable to speak. 'You look a little like your fathers, both of you. They'd be so proud, they really would. Fine specimens, both of you. Now, did you find the place all right?' she asked as Lana and Emma shared a shocked glance, both swallowing loudly. The old lady chuckled and shook her head. 'Now I'm pretty sure you're not normally this quiet. I understand you're confused, possibly even a bit scared but there's no need to be. You're quite safe here. I will fill you in, don't worry about that, but I am going to need you to be a bit more vocal. You're not going to get anywhere if you don't open your mouths and speak to me, you know?' she said, pointing to them both. 'S...s...sorry,' said Emma, 'We're just.... just... surprised that's all.' 'That's to be expected. So, did you find the place all right?' Lana nodded, 'B...but how did you know that we would come?' 'Of course, I knew you would come. I sent for you.' Exchanging glances once more, the girls were dumbstruck. 'All right, all right... why don't you both sit down over there,' she said, pointing to a narrow settee for two opposite her. 'My name is Eleanor Hayden-Jones and this....,' she said with her arms up in the air as she looked around the room, 'is the Fourth House of Praxos.' CHAPTER 17 The girls learned that the Fourth House of Praxos was one of many such houses around the world. This particular property was the base for the Praxos Foundation within south-east England. 'Oh thank you, dear,' said Eleanor to a middle-aged gentleman dressed in green and black who appeared out of nowhere carrying a tray with a teapot and three cups and saucers. Carefully placing it on the large coffee table in between them, he stole a glance at the girls and smiled a wide grin. 'Girls, this is Wilbur, he's a great help to me here at the house.' He tipped his head, 'A pleasure to meet you,' he said before he continued to pour the tea. 'Milk and sugar?' Emma shook her head while Lana nodded, 'Yes, please.' 'Perhaps a slice of lemon instead, Emma Jane?' She caught his eye and nodded, intrigued to find out why these people seemed to know so much about them. After preparing the tea, Wilbur took his leave with a nod of the head and a warm smile. Eleanor slowly stood and leaned back on the arm of the chair. 'As I was saying, the Praxos Foundation consists of a wide group and variety of persons who, shall we say, fight crime? We investigate wrong-doings and make things right,' she smiled, turning her head so that the light from the window highlighted the many deep lines and wrinkles that covered her face, which was quite beautiful, even in old age. Her silvery-white hair almost twinkled, just as her eyes did, when the light caught it.
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