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Shadows Of Guta (Excerpt 65) Impulse

As Stephen shuts the pantry door, he feels an impulse to explore the hall that leads to the north side of the manor. It seems dark and dreary with no windows or lights but since he will need to find the fuse box at some point, he might as well go looking for it now. Without allowing thoughts and fear of the darkness to creep in and stall his plan, he simply starts walking.

After several steps, he notices a single door on the left and he stops to turn the knob. With a slight squeak, it opens to a large dining room with a table that seats thirty or more. Off to the left side he sees two wooden double doors.

“Alright, this is the other room that opens to the entry hall.” He says happily as if he solved some great mystery.

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Shadows Of Guta (Excerpt 64) Extinguish

Grabbing the handle of the broom, Stephen walks with it to the area under staircase. He knows this is where Zsofia came when she gathered her supplies, but he does not see a door to a closet or pantry. Leaning back, he looks to the right at the long corridor that goes on far beyond the shadows that extinguish all light. It looks much the same to the left. Deep well-polished wood panels cover the interior side while stonework walls run along the outside.

“This must be how you get to the other areas of the house.” He mumbles to himself. “But not without lights and a flashlight.”

He is about ready to give up on finding a closet when he sees a small notch on one of the wood panels that line the hall. He puts his fingers on the notch and pulls back. The panel pops open to expose a small pantry with hooks for the broom and dustpan and shelves for small towels and cleaning supplies.

“Definitely ahead of their time.” He mumbles to himself.

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Shadows Of Guta (Excerpt 63) Direction

Stephen finds Zsofia’s request about watching the doors to be an odd statement. He usually closes doors when he enters or leaves a building, he assumes most people would. To avoid questioning, he nods in agreement and Zsofia responds with a smile. She is almost blushing as their eyes meet; she then waves her hand and quickly rejoins her brother who has already started making his way down the path.

Immediately, Stephen reaches into his pocket, pulls out the noisy plastic container and pops two pills out into the palm of his hand. Without a pause, he drops them into his mouth and swallows them down. Standing in the silence of the house, he is at a loss as to what he should do next. He had no idea of the enormity of the building and at this time, does not even know which direction to take.

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Shadows Of Guta (Excerpt 62) Next Monday

“No, I mean yes, I would like you to continue coming here to clean.” Stephen nervously puts his hands in his pockets. “What days are you usually here?”

“I own a teahouse in town and usually spend my days there from ten to five o’clock, but we are closed on Monday’s,” she grins. “So I’m usually here then.”

“So I’ll see you next Monday?” Quizzes Stephen as he thinks of how long away that seems to be.

“Or earlier if you want.” She replies. “We live within walking distance, about fifteen minutes down the road, or ten minutes if you take the path through the woods. If you have questions or need my help, I can come up.”

“Okay then, great. Thank you.” Stephen replies and then waves at them in an awkward way.

“Bye,” replies Tamas in a weak voice.

“Bye, Tamas. . . Zsofia.” Replies Stephen as he begins to push the door closed.

“Oh, I almost forgot.” Zsofia says as she turns and steps in Stephen’s direction. “The exterior doors of the manor are to be closed tightly at all times, especially if left unattended.”

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Shadows Of Guta (Excerpt 61) See You Again

Zsofia smiles as she looks up at the ceiling of the manor as if trying to hold back tears but the moment is short-lived as she turns her attention to her brother. Opening the door, she and Tamas exit the building and just as she is pulling the door shut, Stephen speaks up.

“Where would you like me to put the broom?” He asks.

Both Zsofia and Tamas stop and turn around to look at him. Stephen is doing this to make conversation for it really does not matter at this point where the broom sits. After all, in discovering the true size of the structure, he knows it could be months before he has to worry about hiding cleaning supplies.

“No, I know,” He says before Zsofia has a chance to speak. “I have a good idea of where the broom goes. What I am trying to ask is will I see you again? Both of you I mean?” However, he is looking directly at Zsofia when he says it and she smiles.

“Yes, I need to come back and finish my cleaning. Your great-uncle always paid me in advance, so I have two weeks left. That is unless you no longer need my services.”

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Shadows Of Guta (Excerpt 60) Here Today

Taking Tamas by the hand, Zsofia slowly walks with him, leading him along as all three leave the conservatory behind. Stephen stops to shut the doors off from the main house as Zsofia opens the front entry door to leave but something she said puzzles him.

“Wait, why would your grandfather be upset that you are here, he knows you work here, right?” Stephen questions.

“Umm, actually,” she pauses as she places her hand to one side of her mouth so Tamas does not hear her. “After your great-uncle died, grandfather told me the place was cursed and to never come back up here.”

Stephen looks at her with a puzzled expression. Not only does that seem odd, but she said she came here to clean today, so he does not understand.

“But you are here today?” He questions.

“And grandfather does not know it.” She whispers as she grins. “I love this place.”

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Shadows Of Guta (Excerpt 59) Followed

“I really have enjoyed your company.” Stephen says to Zsofia. “And I would like to get to know you too,” he says as he looks at the young man. “Tamas,” says Stephen, “my name is Stephen. It is nice to meet you.”

“Ste… Ste…phen,” replies Tamas with a stutter. He smiles and claps his hands.

“Very good,” states Zsofia with a grin, she then kisses Tamas on the cheek. He laughs and looks down as he wipes it away with his hand and this makes all three of them giggle a bit.

“You should be at home with grandfather.” Zsofia says in a firm but very loving manner, as she looks her brother in the eyes.

“I was going to ask if he came with you.” Stephen states with a bit of concern.

“He must have followed me, which means grandfather is probably looking for him.” Zsofia smiles at Tamas. “And if he finds us here we are going to be in big trouble.”

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Shadows Of Guta (Excerpt 58) Tamas

Stephen is completely annoyed that these two strangers are here on his property, freely coming and going as if they own the place. Now he just wants them to leave so he does not have to be bothered or distracted any longer.

“This is my brother, Tamas.” Zsofia says softly.

“Zsofia,” says the young man, he follows with a smile.

“He would never hurt you, he was just curious.” Says Zsofia as she looks Stephen in the eyes, she is very serious, calm, and protective of her brother and wants to make sure this is known. “I saw him heading your way, and immediately left the suspension walkway to intervene. He was just saying hello, I am sorry for bothering you.”  Zsofia wipes the young man’s hair back from his forehead and starts to turn him toward the entry hall door.

“No, wait.” Stephen says quickly now embarrassed by his reaction.

To his own surprise, he does not want them to rush away, especially not like this. Yes, he would prefer to roam this house alone, or so he thinks. However, Zsofia’s energy made the discovery of this conservatory a bit more exciting than it may have been alone. In fact, he knows it did. Zsofia and Tamas are standing, holding hands, waiting for Stephen to speak.

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Shadows Of Guta (Excerpt 57) Don’t Hurt Him

Peeking in and around the foliage Stephen realizes everything looks healthy, not crushed or bent or injured in any way. Just as he turns to go back in the direction he came, he bumps directly into a man with light brown hair. Shocked he puts his hands up ready to throw a punch when Zsofia runs at him pushing the young man back.

“What’s going on?” Stephen questions now angry and confused.

“No, don’t hurt him!”  Zsofia says firmly to Stephen.

In one fluid motion, she puts her arms around the brown-haired man pulling him back a few more steps. The young man makes a high-pitched sound in protest but does exactly as she directs.

“I wasn’t going to hurt him, I was just defending myself.” Stephen says as he puts his arms down.

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Shadows Of Guta (Excerpt 56) Did She Fall

Stephen looks in the direction of Zsofia’s voice and she waves at him happily. He likes her energy and cheerfulness. It makes him laugh inside, but his personality does not show much emotion, and this time is no different. He waves back but as an acknowledgment only, he does not smile or respond verbally, and now worries that she may take his solemn demeanor the wrong way. He looks back at the moving water and decides to wave at her again, making sure he smiles this time. However, as he looks up, she is once again missing.

“If I didn’t know better I would think she is a ghost.” Stephen mumbles to himself. “For that matter, do I know better?” He questions, now wondering if she is a figment of his imagination.

The walkway is void of her, so are the many spiral staircases that connect to the suspended walkways. He looks around at the other sections but she simply is not there. How safe are those old metal connections to the stairs and walkways? Did she fall? He wonders as he rushes over to stand beneath where she was.

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