I keep the house.
That’s what my master set me to do, and that’s what I do. The other four and I, we keep the house. We keep it clean, we keep it safe, we keep it well-equipped. We keep it ready for the master’s return. We keep it as clean and pristine and prepared as it was the day he left. That is what we do, and what we have always done.
It has been a very long time, I’ll admit, since the master last returned. It has been months, no, not months, years? No, more than that. Decades. They do tend to fade after a while. Osana’s body faded first, and we buried her under her beloved rosebushes. Then Yuri, under the pavers in front. By the time it was my turn, we knew that death would not remove us from our duties; Yuri still kept the yard tidy and perfect. Anja still kept the house pristine. And it was not that hard for them to make a spot under the porch for me, so that I could continue to answer the door as I had always done.
Decades passed, I believe, although it could be as long as a century. Without bodies, there was little to mark the passage of time. Gregor redecorated every once in a while from the magazines he found, spending the house accounts that he still kept. Osana planted new herbs, and left bundles of goodies whenever a new neighbor moved in. We did what the master wanted. What the master had told us to do.
I think we all knew, by then, that the master wasn’t coming back. What was left of our bodies was crumbling to dust, and we watched the children of the neighborhood grow up, move away, and be replaced by new children. The world had moved on and, somewhere in there, our master had left. But I don’t think any of us really considered that some day, someone else might try to live in our house.
We chased off the first people the realtor brought by, with quiet little things, little spooks and pranks. By the fourth couple, we were getting more carried away, breaking stairs, exploding radiators (Yuri hated the former and Anja hated the latter). But then there were the Abbots… and when they showed up, we realized the flaw in our plan. Because the people that could not be chased away by our antics… well, they are not the sort of people we wanted to live with.
We cannot help but keep the house clean, upkept, and stocked. But these people, these people… They try my patience. They try our resources. They try the definition of humanity.
…do you think, if they died, we’d be free of them, or would they merely haunt our place, then, in their slovenly mess?
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