Once Upon A Weekend 3
Sam outdid himself. He loved to cook and that night they feasted on roasted chicken, fresh vegetables, and for desert chocolate cake. At first, Ricky was hesitant to eat the cake. He seldom ate sweets because sugar made him even more hyper, but he loved chocolate and seldom allowed himself the luxury.
Their hunger satisfied, they cleared the table and put the dishes in the dishwasher. They decided to sit out on the veranda to enjoy the sunset and the fresh air. Sam and Ken took the two wingback twisted vine chairs. Ricky climbed into the swing, stretched out on the cushion, and started it moving by pushing against the porch with his foot. Brian sat on the steps and leaned against the railing. The weather was cold, but not uncomfortably so. Besides they had their coats on, so they were warm enough. The sunset was glorious. There was a slight wind that sighed through the tops of the ancient pines around them. It was so peaceful the men felt the tension flowing out of their weary bodies. They sat until it was dark and too cold to stay out any longer.
Ricky had fallen asleep in the swing. Ken shook him awake and herded him inside and up to his room before retiring to his own. He stretched the kinks out of his neck and shoulders and undressed, intending to take a long, hot, soaking bath. He opened the connecting door to the bathroom---and found a walk-in closet. Thinking he must have gotten turned around, he rotated in a slow circle and came back to the door, the only door other than the one leading into the hall.
Again, he opened the door.
"Aaggh!" he yelled and stumbled back.
The door led to the outside. There was nothing but a sheer drop from the second story. He slammed the door and grabbed his robe, slipping it on quickly and sitting down on the end of the bed. He stared at the door in horror, almost afraid to open it again.
He allowed himself time to calm down, then stood and cautiously returned to the door and quickly shoved it open. The bathroom was there as it had been. He inched his way inside, looking to the right and left, searching for anything that might jump out at him, but there was only the bathtub, shower, stool, and sink. He stood in the middle of the room and scratched his head. Was he dreaming?
Sighing heavily, he told himself he must have been and filled the tub, turning on the jacuzzi jets before sinking thankfully into the hot water. There were several kinds of bath salts in a built in shelf on the wall by the tub. He chose on of green tea and the aroma rose from the water, soothing his senses and relaxing his tension at the same time. It was hard not to fall asleep.
Ricky closed himself in his room, made certain his door was securely locked, and took off his clothes to take a shower. He turned on the water to let it heat while he took care of other personal matters, then stepped in under the Rainforest shower head that sprayed the water as if from a steady soaking rain. He stood under it, enjoying the feel of the jets and the sensation of the hot water against his skin.
He thought he heard something and instantly came to attention. He listened, but didn't hear anything else. He shook his head and began washing his hair. Something bumped against the shower door.
Startled, he whirled around, but there was nothing there. He stared at the glass door, the shampoo running into his eyes stinging them. He quickly rinsed them out. As he rinsed the shampoo out of his hair, something again bumped against the door. He froze, afraid to turn around. Swallowing the lump that had formed in his throat, he slowly pivoted, but again, there was nothing there.
He thought it over. Maybe, he thought, the steam from the hot water and the cold air outside the door made the glass bump. The more he considered it, the more it made sense, and satisfied he'd solved the mystery, he turned around to the water---and came face-to-face with a woman in the shower with him.
Dressed in a sheer white gown, she stood directly under the shower head, the water plastering the gown to her very shapely figure. Her long black hair was wet and hung about her like a cloak.
With a scream, Ricky covered his private area, lost his footing on the tile floor, and fell painfully on his elbow and hip. The jolt doubled his vision for a second and when it cleared, he saw the woman had vanished.
There was a loud knock on the bathroom door causing him to scream again. Sam burst into the bathroom, worried and ready to defend his little brother against all danger. What he found was Ricky standing stark naked, dripping wet, and shaking in terror in the middle of the bathroom floor. Quickly he wrapped a big towel around him and dried him off, all the while making soothing noises. He led him into the bedroom, sat him down, then went to turn off the shower. When he came back, Ricky had calmed some.
"What happened?" Sam asked.
Beginning to feel foolish, Ricky shook his head.
"I guess I scared myself," he admitted. "I---I must have---seen my reflection in the shower and thought..."
He couldn't finish. It wasn't himself he'd seen and he knew it. But he wasn't certain what he had seen or if he could convince Sam he'd seen anything at all.
Sam shook his head wearily.
"We're all tired," he said as he helped Ricky into his underwear and then into bed. "I think we're all starting to hallucinate. Get some sleep."
He tucked the covers under Ricky's chin.
"You sure you're okay?" he asked.
Ricky nodded, although he was sure. There was no point in thinking about it.
"You'll feel better tomorrow," Sam said, going to the door. He started to turn the light off.
"Leave it on," Ricky pleaded, then tried to smile as if it was no big deal.
He didn't fool his big brother. Sam saw the fear. He didn't know what had frightened Ricky, but for now, he'd humor him. He went out and closed the door, then went to the main hall to light the fire in the fireplace.
He set the logs ready and lit the kindling. The fire flared wonderfully. He turned to get himself a wine glass from a china cabinet and pour himself some wine from one of the decanters on a well stocked bar next to the fireplace. As he did, the fire went out.
"Oh, darn it," he said.
He relit it and he flames flared to life, but the minute he turned his back, they went out. Frustrated, he lit the fire again and watched to make sure it stayed lit. It showed no signs of going out, so he turned to pour the wine. He didn't need to look. He felt the heat die away and knew the fire had gone out.
Setting the decanter down, he turned slowly and found he was right. The fire was out. Determined, he lit it again, but instead of turning away, he backed away. Experimentally, he pretended to turn. As he did, the fire dimmed. He whirled around to fully face it. It flare up again. Something very odd was going on.
Forgetting the wine, he approached the fireplace as if approaching a strange animal. The fire continued to burn. He was confused. He had to be imagining it. There must be an odd draft or something wrong with the chimney. There had to be a rational explanation. He sank onto the couch and reached behind him for his glass. The fire never wavered.