The second story is Gothic Fiction, reminiscent of Edgar Allen Poe. Second Story: THE MEETING OF ARTHUR CAVENDISH AND AMADEUS STONE
The night was growing old, when Arthur Cavendish approached the address given to him by mail. His carriage rolled to a sudden halt once he reached the dead end at the address. Dawn would approach soon, and with it—daylight, but for now, the darkness reigned. The grayness of night washed over the land so that everything was colorless. The rotten, corpse like remains of the house Cavendish gazed upon stood solitary—alone at the end of the road. The house was strewn with rotted wood, broken bits of it sprinkled about the house. Large, gaping holes covered by cobwebs told Cavendish just how ill-kept the house was.
The only part of the house with any semblance of being well-kept was the front door. It was made of ebony, and polished so that one could see his reflection.
Cavendish drew a sharp intake of breath and checked the address again, just to make sure he had it right. He struck a match and lit his pipe, then his lantern and proceeded in the direction of the house.
Before knocking, Cavendish tried to glance through a peephole in the center, only to see a harsh, almost soulless, blue eye staring back at him. He lunged back as if someone had thrust at him with a knife.
“Wait one second,” said a voice on the opposite side of the door. The voice was unpleasant, with no discernable qualities that made it so. It was almost as though it sounded like an off-pitch violin, “The timing is not quite right.”
Cavendish waited a few seconds in silence, and he heard church bells far off. They rang twelve times, and on the twelfth bell, the door swung ajar. Cavendish found himself face to face with his host—Amadeus Stone.
Stone was a man in his early fifties, judging by his white hair that seemed to dance about his head. Time had been kind to him, and he looked to retain at least some kind of youthful vigor. He had a neat goatee firmly pressed around his lips, and he wore a luxurious suit. His left hand was jammed in his pocket, and his right hand outstretched to greet Cavendish.
Cavendish took Stone’s hand, and the force by which he shook it made him hold back a wince. “Amadeus Stone,” he said, “I received your letter of summons.”
“Very good,” said Stone, contently, and his voice changed to a low baritone, “Very, very good. He turned immediately and strode away. He gestured over his shoulder but did not look back. “Come, come.” He said, “We have much to discuss.
The inside of the house was exhilarating, magnificent, high arched ceilings that gleamed by chandelier light. Several pieces of furniture were meticulously placed about the room. All of it was absolutely enthralling.
Stone’s office, however, was another story entirely.
His office was as grey as the night outside, making both of them colorless. A solitary desk stood in the center of the room, and on it rested a lamp that glowed red, providing the only color in the office. Stone sat down and the lamp’s red light showered his face—immersed in it like a man immersed by water. “Sit down, Mister Cavendish,” said Stone, indicating to the chair opposite him.
He took his seat, and Stone held out something he could not see. “Tobacco?” he said, “Your pipe’s run out.”
“Fair enough,” said Stone, pocketing the tobacco, “Now, down to business. How old are you, Arthur?”
Cavendish shifted slightly in his seat, and forced himself to sit erect. “Nineteen, sir.”
“Do you know why I’ve invited you.”
“I haven’t the faintest idea.” Said Cavendish, “To my knowledge, I have never made your acquaintance before tonight. We have not talked, either casually or on any business. I know not why you should summon one such as me.”
Stone answered with an all-knowing smile. “As I suspected,” he said, “I will not lie to you, I have watched you for years.” Stone remained oblivious to Cavendish’s reaction, who’s eyes widened with this knowledge. He sank back in his chair and placed his hands on his breast—shocked.
“I have watched you grow for many years,” said Stone, “You, above the others, have matured into the best candidate, and I have chosen you.”
For a while, all was silent, save for the ringing in Cavendish’s ears. “…For what?” he asked.
Stone sat back with a heavy sigh and drummed his fingers upon the desk. “You’re not making this any easier, Arthur.” He said. The red light of the lamp now only covered his hand, his face colorless. “Let’s see…how to put this…” his voice trailed off, and he leaned forward across his desk, so that his face was completely immersed in the lamp’s red light once again. “Have you ever thought you saw something out of the corner of your eye, yet when you look in that direction, there was nothing there? Have you ever had the sense you’re being watched, but you can never prove it—or worse, a fleeting feeling that you are in terrible danger?”
Cavendish nodded, and Stone smiled. “Now what would you say,” said Stone, “If I told you that it was all true—everything you’ve felt.”
“I’d say you were lying, Mr. Stone,” said Cavendish.
“That’s the beauty of it!” said Stone, “Humor me, will you, Arthur? We are the dominant species—us…heh…humans, are we not?”
“Now, how would the average mind react to the knowledge that, say, for example—for thousands of years we’ve been guided by a Higher Power. This power is neither God nor Satan, but rather mortals like you…heh…and me. How would the mind react to the knowledge that there are creatures out there whose powers surpass the strongest of men. If we were to discover this, we’d do the natural thing—we’d dismiss he notion. Disbelief is the most powerful of weapons.”
Cavendish leaned forward to meet Stone’s gaze, and both were immersed in the red light. “So you’re telling me that everything I thought I’ve seen out of the corner of my eye…” he swallowed a lump in his throat and his voice grew hoarse, “It was all there.”
“And what of the danger you mentioned? Why would these creatures not strike?”
“Because of your soul, Arthur” said Stone, “It exists outside of you.” Stone’s voice was ecstatic and brimming with passion. “It is a separate entity, a..heh..a guardian angel, so to speak. I can teach you things, Arthur. Things you never thought possible. I can teach you to communicate with these things—with your own soul. There’s an entire world you’re missing every. Single. Day. All you have to do…
Neither men were seen for seventy two hours. Neither the house of Amadeus Stone, nor the house of Arthur Cavendish yielded their appearance for all three days. After these seventy-two hours, the two parted company and would not meet again for two years.
On the second eve of their reunion, Cavendish stopped at Stone’s house, a fiery anger in his eyes. He pulled his pipe from his mouth and tossed it aside.
Cavendish bolted towards Stone’s house in a maddened fury the likes of which he had never felt before. He arrived at the ebony door and began to furiously kick it. His efforts yielded no results until the twelfth chime of the bells in the distance. The door swung open while Cavendish was in mid kick. His force rocketed him forward and he stumbled in.
“STONE,” he called through rapid, shallow breaths, he looked frantically about him, The house had not changed in two years. Everything was exactly as it had been before. “AMADEUS STONE!”
“You weren’t invited,” said Stone from behind him.
Cavendish pivoted around and seized him by the collar and with the strength of a madman tore him into the air and ran him into a wall. “WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO ME?” he growled.
“You’re the Cavendish boy, aren’t you?” said Stone, quite calmly.
“What. Have. You. Done?”
“You are, aren’t you?” I remember you…”Two years ago…”
“WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?”
“I have given you a gift.” Said Stone.
“You have consigned me to HELL!” Cavendish shook Stone.
“Release me,” said Stone, “And explain your meaning.”
Cavendish’s arms fell to his sides. “You never told me what I’d see…” he said. His voice trailed off and from his breast pocket he produced a handled mirror, which he cast to the ground, upon which it shattered.
What stared back was not Arthur Cavendish, but a shriveled up creature, grey in appearance and red of eyes, with skin that clung tightly to the bone.
“I have the world at my fingertips, Amadeus.” Said Cavendish, “I can do everything and anything I wish to do. Except face my own goddamn REFLECTION!” The two locked eyes, and Cavendish stared at him with a blood lustful contempt. “You promised to show me my soul, Stone.
“Not one did you mention it could be something I might not want to see…”