Due North [Episode 1]: 8 Brook Way

Water horses, sentient houses, disappearing cats, grave whisperers, semi-dead grave robbers, minotaurs, bearotaurs, satyrs, dryads, sirens, and more!

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8 Brook Way currently held the form of a picturesque cottage, the likes of which can be found front and centre of just about every children’s book. It was quaint, simultaneously large and small, and somehow smelled wonderfully of fresh baked cookies even empty. It had taken on several forms over its extremely long life, several far more interesting than the one it currently donned, but its walls were presently abuzz with murmurs of excitement nonetheless.

8 Brook Way was no longer empty, and its new residents, Alberto Zecca and Isabella Autin, fawned over the shape it had taken for them. A tree, the type of which eluded every botanist that had ever attempted to classify it, stood guard from the backyard garden, its branches graciously extending to the perimeter, keeping time with the wind. It sang with the wind, hundreds of voices chiming in to make one, beautiful harmony that wafted throughout town, a siren call rumoured to be able to lift the spirits of those in mourning or even heal a broken heart. Ivy crawled across the bounding walls, weaving into its very make, and small, almost imperceptible paw prints and claw marks were pressed on top. The ivy snaked and stretched underground, far further down than anyone had ever explored, secrets resting on its every strand.

8 Brook Way was the only house in its vicinity, forming a sort of block of its own, and Brook Way was the closest street to the house, rather than the one it was on. The actual Brook Way skipped the number eight, an oddity that had led to several confused new postmen. Alberto and Isabella didn’t mind the confusion in the slightest – in fact, Alberto said it was one of the endless positives that came with the house.

Having moved in only a few hours ago, the pair were lounging on a chesterfield sofa that came with the house, in the otherwise almost unfurnished living room. The full moon shone brilliantly through the glass wall opposite them, the silver light falling delicately on each surface. Beyond it lay a presently untended garden, the moon’s light dipping and diving between its weeds and many, many secrets that Number 8 couldn’t wait for the residents to uncover.

It seemed though, it would have to wait. Tonight, the residents stayed indoors, unknowingly nested amidst the liveliest walls in the house.

‘I really don’t want to cook tonight,’ Alberto complained.

‘Yeah, I’m too tired too,’ Isabella agreed. ‘What about that diner we passed on the way in? Something with an O,’ she said, desperately trying to picture the wooden sign jutting out of the doorway. ‘Oh, it’s no use. We went by so quickly, the only thing I remember is that it was painted blue and green.’

‘What about pizza? There’s always pizza.’

‘But…diner!’ Isabella protested, always having adored a good diner. ‘Come on, let’s just walk around town. It’s a small place, we’re bound to find it eventually.’

Alberto begrudgingly conceded, which is how they found themselves face to face with a man in a suspiciously large trench coat, asking for directions after having gone down three long, wrong roads. Isabella suspected he was hiding snakes under that coat, judging by the suspicious hissing sounds interspersing his speech, but the fact that said speech seemed to be exclusively rhymes annoyed her more. His confusing aid, if you could even call it that, led them to yet another wrong street.

They did, of course, eventually make it to the diner – ‘Ossario’s! I told you it had an O!’ – after being seemingly guided by a particularly friendly dog. As they approached the establishment, Alberto thought he saw the paint of the building shimmering and changing colour slightly but dismissed it as hunger (and slight annoyance at Isabella’s insistence on eating at the diner, if he was honest).

The woman behind the wrap-around counter introduced herself as Alecia Ossario, the owner of the diner. If you passed her on the street, she would most likely end up as nothing more than a face you see in a dream and wake up trying to place. Yet, for some indescribable reason, both Alberto and Isabella couldn’t help but be drawn to her, intrigued by the notion of her very existence. The room’s light seemed to bend around her, respectfully leaving her untouched; but rather than leave her shrouded in the dark, she shimmered as she moved.

‘I’m Isabella and he’s Alberto. We just moved in.’

‘Berto and Bella – how sweet! I didn’t know number eight had gone to such a lovely couple,’ Alecia said with a smile. She smiled with her eyes, her genuineness probably the only reason Bella noticed them. She couldn’t be sure because it really wasn’t the sort of thing you saw very often, but she swore she saw her eyes change colour.

‘Oh! Oh, no,’ Berto countered, a little tired of the same song and dance over and over again. ‘We’re not a couple.’

‘Definitely not,’ Bella picked up, easing him of the burden of explanation. ‘He’s a writer, and I’m an artist, so we can both work from wherever we want, as long as his editor and my gallery get something every now and then. “Wherever we want” just so happens to coincide, so we moved in together to save money.’

Alecia seemed impressed and asked a little about their work, Bella noticing each time her eyes changed colour, before segueing into their orders.

‘We’re starved,’ Bella blurted out before Berto had a chance to ask for a menu. ‘Whatever can be made the fastest.’

‘Burgers and chips coming right up,’ Alecia noted, turning to the kitchen.

The moment she was out of earshot, Bella pulled Berto in close. ‘Dude! Did you see –’

‘Her eyes?’ Berto interjected, nodding vigorously. ‘Yeah, I saw ‘em too. You know what else? I saw the paint on the outside change colour too.’

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