First: A story featuring a male keeper and a female Kept.
Previous: Tap Twice for Yes
She and the house were talking – one-sided but it was still something of a conversation – up in Mélanie’s bedroom when she realized that the sun was starting to set.
I’ll be back by dark with all luck, Jasper had told her. She looked out the (now very clean) window and wondered how long it would be until true dark.
A plate bumped gently at her arm and she jumped. “Oh!” The plate was full of what looked like a very tasty meal. “Thank you. You didn’t have to do that, you know!”
The plate started dancing out her bedroom door and down the stairs. She followed the plate – there were so many halls she hadn’t gone down yet, but I’m going to ask you to only go places inside the house that I have shown you, he’d said, and he might have phrased it as a request, but she was not unwise enough to think that it wasn’t an order.
She’d cleaned the dining room, his bedroom, and her bedroom. The kitchen was already sparkling clean; she had a feeling that was where the house spent most of its – her – energy? Time? It was hard to figure out what, exactly was going on when the house very clearly didn’t want to tell her.
She had planned on sorting out the loot room, but it was so dirty that she felt like she should clear out a space to put things first. And if she was going to clean the hallway, then the bedrooms ought to be clean…
and here she was eating dinner and the loot room and hallway still needed cleaning.
She sat behind her plate and looked out the window in the kitchen door at the setting sun. “He’ll be home soon, right?”
A bottle of brandy popped out of a cupboard, followed by a small glass, and the one poured a small measure into the other.
“That is – well, thank you.” She sipped the brandy. “It’s not very reassuring, but I appreciate the sentiment.” She dug into dinner, making herself eat. Her stomach was suggesting that food was a good idea, but the sun’s slow descent was making her jittery. “Is he often late?”
After a moment, the brandy bottle did what she was pretty sure was shaking its head. Mélanie giggled. “This is, I have to admit, one of the strangest methods of communication I’ve ever had. I, uh. I’m kind of glad I don’t Belong to you; I’d spend way too much time trying to decipher orders. Um. No offence.”
The brandy bottle did a little dance and then, since Mélanie had put down her glass, the bottle filled the glass again. Mélanie sighed.
“All right. So it’s not dark yet. I should be working when he gets back – don’t argue, okay? He might say he doesn’t want me doing a lot but when have you ever met a master that wanted his slaves idle?” She finished the brandy quicker than she ought to have. “So. Let’s see. Gloves. Something for a dust mask-”
The brandy glass refilled itself as a kerchief and long gloves danced out of the cupboard. Mélanie giggled.
“A spoonful of brandy makes the medicine go down,” she sang. “The medicine go down, the medicine go dowwwwwn….” She slipped on the gloves. “A nice pair of gloves makes the dust not so bad, the dust not so bad, in the most deligh-fullll way.” She giggled. “House, I think you’re trying to get me drunk.”
She tied the kerchief over her nose and mouth. “While I’m a little drunk, do we have some nice boxes? Totes? Crates? Carry-alls? Containers?” She snorted. “Oh, dear, I think the trying to was kind of belated there. Right. Boxes?” She headed back up the stairs to the “loot room,” unsurprised to find a set of sturdy plastic boxes greeting her at the door.
“Thank you. All right.” She considered the piles all over the room. “I’m going to start closest to the doorway. I’m going to do – lady clothes, men clothes, lady shoes, men shoes, jewelry, books, and then we’ll see what else we find.”
The first suitcase in front of her helpfully opened itself. Mélanie giggled, found the brandy glass by her hand, and took a sip. “Well, then, let’s see. Our Jasper has some nice taste, doesn’t he?”
The clothes floated out one by one, as Mélanie and the house sorted things. Suitcases, trunks, a couple boxes, sacks, an old wine crate – if it could be used to carry things, Jasper had used it to carry his loot home. Some of it was just in piles around the room, too.
The contents of the containers was almost as varied as the containers themselves – there were clothes, of course; jewelry; some money in various currencies old and new; one very sad loaf of bread which the house disposed of for her; weapons – improvised and factory-made, blacksmithed and made out of finely-joined wood – walking sticks; pre-war technology, including five mobile phones; some sort of feathered cloak; three whole sheepskins; a box of yarn and five bolts of fabric; a series of glass ornaments carefully packed away in old newspapers; a whole china set; more underwear than any fifty women would need…
“He’s quite the magpie, isn’t he? He just brings things home that he thinks are shiny. Does he ever bring you things? this, I think this would make lovely curtains that would match your dining room nicely…..Want more?