All that could be heard was the soft sound of flame and the bubble of the simmering liquid. Of course, all the fireworks in China could go off in the basement lab and nothing would be heard in the house above. Dr. Morstend had invested heavily in the most effective soundproofing equipment available. He had learned from experience that strident explosions coming from one’s basement causes the neighbors to be a bit jumpy. Point of fact, he had been begged to move out of his last house. Dr. Morstend had welcomed this event. His old house held many painful memories and moving would gave him the opportunity to build the house of his dreams. And that is just what he did. He packed up his son and their belongs and moved to a humble three bedroom ranch style house in a sleepy little neighborhood. The neighbors only know that Dr. Morstend invented and tested products.
Donavon Morstend was closely monitoring a beaker of boiling amber liquid. It had to boil for exactly fifteen minutes. No more, no less. Quick reflexes had saved his eyebrows from singeing several times now. That is why when a musketeer burst through the door, Dr. Morstend barely even looked up.
“Michael,” Donavon murmured. “You are very lucky that today’s experiment is not sound sensitive. Please watch your costume and don’t knock anything over. Why are you dressed as a musketeer anyway? I thought you delivered Chinese food.”
Mike rolled his eyes to the ceiling and patiently waited for his father to finish speaking. “I do deliver Chinese, Pop. The customers love the costumes, they expect surprises from me. You know I’m careful around the lab. But that’s not important now, take a look at this!” So saying, Michael thrust an envelope into his father’s line of vision.
Dr. Morstend gently took the envelope. He squinted at it for a full minute before opening his mouth to speak. “Michael, have you seen my...”
“They’re on top of your head, Pop.”
Dr. Morstend reached up and pulled his reading glasses down to rest on his nose. Looking at the envelope, Donavon did a double take. “This is addressed to Jerry Springer! Why...?”
“It was in our mailbox and it was open. But look at what the letter says! This is our chance! Think investors! Florence! Come and see this!”
At the word “investors,” Donavon immediately perked up. He ripped the letter from the envelope and started to read. The amber concoction let out an ominous hiss. Michael started in alarm before relaxing. The beaker floated into the air and slowly traveled to a nearby shelf and came to rest there. Mike turned and gratefully regarded the figure pushing through the door. Not the doorway, the door.
“Ah, thank you, Flore.”
“It is no bother,” the specter replied. “I merely try and corroborate that your father does not leave you an orphan. Now, what is all this ruckus about?”
“There’s to be a tournament! You know that one thing at that one place and, and, and...”
Florence made a hushing with her hand. Mike felt a sensation as though someone were tickling his brain with a feather. He was now used to Florence reading his memories. He trusted her to just look for what she needed. After a minute, Florence nodded and the tickling sensation disappeared.
“So,” she said in a think Southern drawl that startled Michael and caused Dr. Morstend to look up from the letter, “you want us all to enter this tourney of shenanigans.”
“Well, it seems like a good idea. It would be a chance for excitement, romance, and danger. A chance to get out and enjoy ourselves.”
Dr. Morstend carefully folded the letter and placed his reading glasses on top of his head. “It also would serve as an excellent opportunity to show off my inventions and find sponsors. Big wigs love this sort of shindig.”
Florence nodded thoughtfully and began to pace the room, effortlessly passing through the various tables and pieces of equipment that stood in her path. “I do believe that I find approval in this matter. That manor if reported to be rift with magic and supernatural happenings. It would be most satisfactory to witness these phenomena for myself.” She stopped pacing, became solid, and leaned against the wall. “Therefore, we are agreed.”
“We shall set sail in the morn, then?” Donavon stated more than inquired.
Mike did a couple happy pirouettes before running for the door. “I’ll get the car ready!” he called.
Donavon grinned after his rambunctious child. When he turned back, he was startled to see the Florence was smirking softly. “Flore?” he asked.
She grinned broadly in return. “I do wonder what Mr. Spinger would have made of that letter.”
Dr. Morstend joined her in her laughter.