The House at the End of the Street
not the movie; inspired by The Count of Monte Cristo (Dumas)
She was a young journalist living in New York City. Since she'd grown up there, she thought herself jaded to everything life had to show her.
Her name was Jade. She had an hourglass figure and tan skin. She had the kind of deep red hair that was mostly found on Slavic women. She was 6'4". But the most unique trait she had was her eye color; it was a rare black.
She had a calico-manx type of cat with green eyes that had never quite grown out of being kitten-sized. Her name was Morticia, after the character on The Addams Family.
One fine Saturday after Jade had gone for her morning walk, she came home to find an envelope in her mailbox. She saw that it was from Paris, France and wondered who she knew in Paris that could want anything from her.
After doing any chore she could think of to avoid opening the seemingly ominous envelope, Jade finally sat down with a bottle of her favorite red wine and a package of cured Genoan salami and opened it. The wine was because she sensed she'd need it.
As she read the letter, she thought of how no one had called her Ms. Lafayette in years and wondered why she was the one getting a house with an inheritance attached to it. She then understood when she read that those ahead of her had all died. Even the motary didn't understand why shey'd all disappeared from the house she was inheriting.
At first, she didn't want to go. Then, she reasoned to herself that she was being a coward and she could just book a hotel room to eliminate the risk of being murdered at the house. She searched until she found a hotel that would take pets, booked a room and only then booked a ticket to Paris.
She slept the whole flight there and anyway the in-flight movie was in French, which she didn't speak. For some reaosn, her nap had left her more irritable. She still managed to be civil to her driver long enough to get to the hotel. There, she discovered there was no lobby coffee machine just as there'd been no cafe at the airport. She was relieved to find a coffee maker in her hotel room. She promptly let her cat out of her carry case, then made herself some coffee and drank it down with relish. It was crappy coffee, but at least it was coffee. She was finally able to smile. The irony was that she had no further need to since she wouldn't be interacting with anyone else. Well, maybe room service.
That maybe turned into a definite. She then went to sleep with a full stomach. She was determined not to have frogs' legs or escargot while she was there.
The next morning, she had room service for breakfast as well. She resolved to have room service or cafe coffee from then on.
She didn't bother to unpack her bags since leaving them open afforded her just as much access to her things. She showered and dressed and went to keep her appointment with the notary.
The notary in question's office building looked like it belonged to the poor. At first, she wasn't sure she'd gotten the address right. She buzzed and a secretary answered at first in French, then in broken English.
Mr. Pierre Didier stood behind his secretary, still at his desk but with the door open so he could be seen. As the secretary stammered in more broken English, Jade decided to make her way to Mr. Didier's desk since he was speaking to her in actual English.
He closed the door behind her.
"You'll have to excuse my secretary; she doesn't speak English."
Jade simply nodded.
Out of his stack of papers, Mr. Didier produced yet another envelope.
"As you know, you are the only remaining heir to your great-aunt since all of her other heirs died at the house she left for you. Why they stayed at that house is now beyond me."
He took a moment, sighed, then went on.
"Anyway, I am to give you this key," he said, handing her the envelope. "It is the key to the attic where you will find the inheritance. I don't know why it's in the attic. The duchess didn't share that with me."
Jade simply nodded, in kind of a daze which was her default when she was apprehensive.
"By the way, do you happen to have a hotel room?"
She nodded again.
"Good. Maybe somebody doesn't want anyone else to get the inheritance. At least, that is what I think happened to the other heirs. You don't know how many stories there are about that house."
Suddenly, Jade perked up.
"Such as?" she asked.
"Well, like one story is that it is haunted. Another, they say that the duchess, since she had herself buried on the property, has been coming back as a zombie. Another, more realistic, is that one of the neighbors is killing everyone. Another is that she left a lover who wants the inheritance and the house for himself. I have to admit, while some of those are plausible, none of the ones about the inheritance explains the other deaths."
"What other deaths?"
"The teenagers who go into the house at night to see if anything will happen to them. For some reason, only little children come out alive."
"I recommend that you go during the day and then sell the house to someone who will have it torn down."
Jade simply nodded. She slowly stood up and shook Mr. Didier's hand in a daze she didn't wake out of until the sun in her eyes woke her up. She hailed a cab back to the hotel and spent that afternoon pondering it.
She only arrived at a decision in her sleep because the next morning she woke up refreshed and ready to face the house. She had breakfast, fed her cat, showered and dressed, then left the do not disturb sign on the doorknob so the cat could roam around undisturbed.
She brought a big bag since she assumed the inheritance would be in bills. She went to a nearby cafe where she bought herself coffee, a bottle of water and a sandwich for the trip there since she heard the house was in the countryside. She only realized once she got there that it was a short drive outside Paris and that the town was called Auteuil.
There was a man standing in front of the house, waiting. When he saw her walking up, he asked, "Mademoiselle Lafayette?"
She nodded and he handed her a key. She tried it in the front door and it worked. She turned around to thank him but he was already gone. Apparently, he was as afraid of the house as she'd been.
When she entered, she heard a little scratching noise coming from the basement. She assumed it was a rat.
"I am definitely selling this for demolition," she said to herself.
She went up the stairs and didn't stop until she got to a door. Assuming this was the attic door, she tried the key. It was.
It was a bedroom. She looked all around for an envelope or a package that would contain money. Finally, she saw what looked like a mini-Ark of the Covenant without the handles and done in wood instead of being gilt in gold. It was on the desk. A key was on top of the chest and since the keys hadn't been misleading so far, she tried it in the chest lock. It worked.
There were some bills in it, but there were also gold ingots. There was ten million in bills and ten million in ingots. She breathed for a while to calm herself down. She locked the chest, put all the keys in a baggie and carried the chest out herself since she did weights and weight machines back home.
She called for a cab and sat on a rock in front of the house with the chest right next to her. She ate an early lunch.
The cab driver tried to carry the chest, but she wouldn't let him. She got in the back with the chest beside her and didn't calm down until she got back to the hotel.
She went on foot to a bank to have the ingots converted to money, then the money converted to American money. She used her own money to pay for it. She used her big bag to carry it back to the hotel room. Since the Euro was stronger than the dollar, she had a little over twenty million dollars.
The next day, she had all the money transferred to her own bank account, then found an inspector who would inspect the house to deem it unfit so that whoever bought it would have it demolished.
The inspector wasn't comfortable going in with her alone and insisted on having some sort of policeman to guard them. The neighbor just next door to the house overheard the inspector's whining insistence and offered to help. His name was David Caron.
He waited by the front door while Jade and the inspector made their rounds. They'd got through all the upper floors and finished with the downstairs when that light scratching noise started again.
The inspector twitched at the sound and insisted on bringing David down with them to the basement. Jade shook her head at the inspector's being afraid of rats, but complied so he wouldn't throw another fit.
The scratching sound lasted until they opened the basement door. That was awfully specific timing, even for a rat.
In the far left corner as they came down was a white pile. Upon closer inspection, it proved to be adult human bones.
As Jade turned around from the bones, she saw a girl with messy hair and only a dress on that walked more like an ape than a human. She wondered what the girl had been eating all this time.
As soon as David turned around, he got in front of Jade. The inspector cowered behind her.
David whispered to her, "Go to my house and dial this number." He handed her a card.
Jade walked gently up the stairs and left the inspector shuddering behind David.
She decided to dial from David's house phone since this Henri Pascal was more likely to answer for him.
She told him what was happening and he promised to come alone so as not to escalate the situation.
After hanging up, she thought about the situation not to be escalated. She realized they might be dealing with a cannibal. Putting aside her fear, she hurried back to David to tell him his boss would soon be there. She also brought David's gun back with her, though in her purse to as not to rouse the girl's suspicions.
"He's coming as soon as he can." She said, handing David the gun.
Pascal was not long in coming, though less subtle than Jade had been. The girl ran and hid in a cage-like room behind the basement stairs. At least he'd thought to close and lock the basement door as he went down in case she got out.
For all that the girl was a cannibal, she was so shocked at what was happening as she was arrested that she didn't put up a fight.
Later, a search team turned up countless numbers of buried skeletons since the basement had a dirt floor. They identified all of the missing heirs that had come before Jade.
Seeing as the house was safe, Jade decided to move in. She could indeed be a journalist even there since David could translate her articles for her. He even helped her fix up the house, starting with the basement.
He later moved in, selling his house in the process.
They later found a diary that turned out to be the diary of the girl's mother. They also found a picture of parents with their daughter with the daughter's face cut out. This turned out to be the girl's mother's family. They turned it all over to the police. The girl was placed in an insane asylum.
Pascal later came over, once the case was closed, and told David and Jade about the girl. Apparently, she was the bastard child of the girl with the diary. The parents were so old-fashioned that they were ashamed that their daugher had gotten pregnant out of wedlock. They even made her live in the basement while she was pregnant. After she was pregnant, they made the baby live in the basement while the mother had to live in the attic, hence the bedroom. It seemed the girl had finally given in to her shame and killed her parents, then herself still too early in the cannibalistic girl's development for her to learn what she had to of life. This was why she couldn't speak and didn't understand what guns or handcuffs were.
Funny how reality can be so much more disturbing than fantasy.