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“Left?” she said arching
her brows. “But my dear boy, he never left. He’s still here. Mr Temple is
also here. They’re on the third floor, both of them together.” Billy set
down his cup slowly on the table, and stared at his landlady. She stared back
at him, and then she put out one of her white hands and patted him comfortingly
on the knee. He looked her in the eyes and noticed her expression had turned
firm, staring at him without blinking.

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“Wouldn’t you like to meet Mr Temple?”
she said, her voice calm, a slight smile forming on her face. Billy looked at
his knee, her red-nailed hand still holding it firmly, and slowly back up at
her.

“…when exactly will he come down
for tea?” he said slowly, although unsure he wanted to know the anwser. The old
lady let out a giggle and squeezed Billy’s knee a bit too tight for his
comfort.

“Oh no no no, we must go to them my
boy, surely you did not expect them to come down here, did you?”

“Why, uhm,
why can’t they?” he said in an almost whisper. Everything in his mind told him
that this whole ordeal can only get grottier and that he really, really did not
want to know why the two oddly familliar gentlemen couldn’t come down for tea.

“Come with
me sweetie, they are on the third floor, the room just above your own!” the old
lady smiled in excitement. She got up and headed to the crooked staircase.
Young Weaver felt compelled to follow her, regardless of how much he wanted not
to. As they passed his bedroom he felt an urge to stray off the path the woman
had seemingly set for him and kick open the door, grab his suitcase and run to
the streets. Right in that moment he would rather spend the night on a damp
park bench somewhere than to spend another moment in that old house. Before he
knew it they were on the third floor, in front of the door to the room above
his. Its handle was rusty and covered in dust – it seemed like it had not been
opened in literally years. The old woman gently opened the door and popped her
head through it, then let out a quiet sigh and closed the door. When she turned
to face Billy she sad a genuinely loving smile on her face, something that made
the hair on the boy’s neck stand up and this whole ordeal even creepier.

“It appears
that my boys are still sleeping. We wouldn’t want to disturb them, do we now,
Mr Weaving?”

“… yes, I
suppose not… and it’s Weaver”

“Oh yes! Do
forgive me my boy, I do that often.” she said and smiled up at him. He looked
her in her eyes for an awkward moment. The landlady spoke:

“Do you
want to have a peek? But make sure you are quiet, my boys need their sleep.”

“Well…
I… uhm, okay…” Billy said and the old woman gently opened the door. He
reluctantly looked through it. It took a moment for his eyes to adjust to the
darkness, but afrer a few seconds he saw a person asleep on the bed. He
squinted, and peeked in a bit further. Then he noticed. On the bed, comfortably
tucked in was a skeleton, jaw fallen in its lap and bits of hair still on the
cranium. Billy felt ill. He felt nauseous. He slowly backed away from the door.

“Let me
just close that for you dear, we wouldn’t want a draft now do we?” Billy just
stood with his hand on the rail, unsure of how to react. Panic was brewing
inside him, one which he had to hide. He thought that maybe if he played along,
he might get out of there with his mandibular still attached.

“We
definitely dont want that.” he said calmly, staring at the door. “I suggest we
leave them to… rest and get back to our tea.”

“Yes that
seems like a splendid idea” said the old lady and started walking down the
stairs. Billy followed her. With something of a plan forming in his mind.

“So… how
come they haven’t left all this time?”

“Oh no,
they cannot leave! It’s much too dangerous. I already lost my two boys to the
war, and I will not let anymore innocent young men die like they did.” She
said, her voice cracking and tears forming in her eyes. His suspicions about
war-time trauma might be more true than he thought. In that moment Billy Weaver
felt sorry for her, despite the fact that she had at least one skeleton in her
house. The old lady poured more tea in his cup, which by now was starting to
look suspicious.

“I am not
sure there is anything to worry about.” He said, picking up the fire iron from
the fireplace behind her.

“But there
is! Especially for a young man like you!” she said taking the small knife that
was on the table.

“I’m not
planning on staying, I wouldn’t want to bother you.”

“But it’s
no bother at all! And besides, your room is quite cozy!  Or if you feel lonely you can share a room
with Mr Temple!” she said with excitement “He is a dear and i am quite positive
he wouldn’t mind! First thing in the afrernoon when he wakes up I will ask-”
her breath was suddenly drawn out when the young man hit the back of her head
with the fire iron. She fell to the ground with a thud and kicked a few times
before stoping. Billy dropped the iron and ran to his bedroom. He took his
suitcase and almost fell down the 
crooked staircase. kicked the front door open ran down the street as far
as he could. That night Billy Weaver slept on the most comfortable damp park
bench.