Clifford knocked on the castle door. He was drenched from the rain. He heard thunder rumble in the distance.
An old woman opened the door and, without a word, beckoned him to follow her into the study.
A fire crackled in the fireplace, and above the mantle, was a painting of a young girl. Her eyes seemed to follow him as he crossed the room.
“Would you like some brandy?” a voiced from the shadows asked. Clifford could just make out a robed figure reclining in an armchair near the fireplace.
“Not now! Are you crazy?” Clifford answered. “I need to be ready.”
Clifford’s right top incisor throbbed. He thought again about that offer of brandy. It could dull the pain as it touched his gums.
He shook his head to shake the temptation from his mind. He knew too well the slippery slope of a single drink. He couldn’t afford to be slumped over on the ground somewhere when they came looking for him.
Someone else knocked on the door. Before he could react, it swung open. Standing in the doorway and drenched from the rain was the girl from the painting. There stood Brandy!
“No way, dude!” Clifford exclaimed. “You’re soaked! I can see right through your white dress … and you’re bangin’.”
But Brandy appeared unfazed. In fact, she stopped moving altogether, as though a frame of film had gotten stuck.
“Sorry,” said Clifford, “No offense.”
She still didn’t move. He walked closer to her. He noticed how her eyes followed him, but her features were frozen. As he reached her, he saw she was completely flat, two-dimensional. He walked around her and saw her side, edge-on. But as he got behind her, he saw she had another face with an evil grin and eyes like black, inky wells.
“Nope,” Clifford said. “Nope, nope, nope, nope.”
He lifted the two-dimensional cardboard standee, briskly carried it to the window and chucked it outside. He watched it as it tumbled through the air and smash to bits on the stony moor below.
As always, he preferred his Brandy on the rocks.