Author: J.V. Speyer
Release Date: December 18, 2017
Format: ePub, Mobi
Cover Artist: Natasha Snow
Word Count: 7800
Sex Content: N/A
J.V. Speyer © 2017
All Rights Reserved
Ash glared at the overhead light, and the flickering stopped. He’d had it up to here with the crappy wiring in this place. The old house had seemed so charming when he’d moved in. He’d marveled—marveled!—at the real, untouched turn-of-the-last-century beauty of the main house. Oh sure, it was untouched all right. Untouched since it had been built, most likely. And he knew that he should consider himself lucky to have a stand-alone building for his apartment. The idea of living in the coachman’s apartment was just too appealing to pass up, too perfect for him and his situation.
That had been in June, when the leaves had been in bloom and the roses still climbed the decrepit trellis on the back of his little building. Now December had arrived and brought two feet of snow with it already, and the bloom was definitely off the rose. Ash knew now that “period detail” meant “no updates since 1920.” He knew that “set off from the street” put him well into “no one can hear you scream” territory. Ash hadn’t thought it would be an issue in the city, but given the size and shape of some of the critters he’d seen in the woods behind the coach house, he was starting to rethink his “no firearms” policy.
What kind of property in the middle of the city had woods, anyway?
And all of that was without considering the wiring. Cloth-insulated wires, push-button switches, lights that flickered dangerously at the slightest hint of wind or rain or snow—he’d stocked up on candles and lanterns, but that wasn’t going to keep the place warm if the power went. This was Syracuse, for Pete’s sake! There was always wind and either rain or snow, sometimes both.
Still—he guessed it could be worse. He had his privacy out here. No one blared music on the other side of a wall. No one smoked cigarettes to try to choke him out. The Wi-Fi worked as long as the power did. The slate roof was solid, no matter what else was wrong with the place. It held, which was more than he could say for the last dump he’d rented alone back home.
And “no one can hear you scream” territory meant that it was quiet. Not only could he not hear someone else’s music or their television or their domestic squabbles, but he also couldn’t hear the snowplows or fire engines or ambulances running up and down James Street. James Street was the main drag in this part of town, and in a storm like the one that he could see brewing outside his windows, all three of those vehicles would be in heavy rotation. He could work undisturbed out here, almost as though he had a house out in the country. It just happened to be a house in the country that had all the amenities of the city within a five-minute drive.
He wasn’t a complete hermit. He didn’t think so, at least. Maybe once upon a time, back when the push-button switches were considered the height of technology, he’d have been written off as “weird” and “reclusive,” and “too young to shut yourself away like that, boy.” He had friends who he talked to on a regular basis thanks to the wonders of the Internet. He just didn’t interact with them face-to-face, and that was okay. He got more done this way, and he didn’t have to shave or put on clean pants to do it. No one cared what he looked like, no one gave him a hard time about his lack of a relationship, and everyone was happier.
At least, for the most part no one cared what he looked like. He still had to put up with the occasional interruption here and there, like package delivery and video conferencing for work and random doorbells ringing for no reason whatsoever. He almost jumped out of his skin when the bell rang now, jolting him out of his musings. Ash closed his eyes and counted to five, trying to swallow his frustration before he went downstairs to see what fresh horror had invaded his privacy. People never got that about hermits—if they wanted company, they wouldn’t be hermits. They’d have company already. They weren’t sitting in the attic, waiting for someone to break them out of their shell. They were usually busy doing perfectly good hermit things and didn’t want to be interrupted, thank you.