I watched as Riley rapped her knuckles on the rough wooden door. It opened to reveal a tall man with a sharp jaw and beady eyes glaring back at us.
"Good, you're here. Who's he?" the man gestured at me with a thumb.
Riley replied, "Noah, he's here for answers." She locked eyes with the frightening man and I was astonished she had the guts. I, for one, was close to watering the plants.
I reached out my hand to shake the man's, "Hello sir." I trembled.
"Hm." He grunted and didn't accept my hand. I, in return, coughed to hide the awkward silence and put my hand down. "In." He said. I immediately noticed black all around and the fact that there was no light. He walked through another door just as Riley closed the one we entered through. I was surprised how uncomfortable I was in the house. Riley looked at me and laughed at my expression. I frowned and started to follow the big man. We passed a large black couch and a washroom, finally approaching a door and a sign that read "Office" in big, black bold letters. Everything seemed black in the strange house.
"Sit." He pointed at two chairs and I had a strange feeling that there was something highly different about his office as opposed to the last time I was there. I sat down on the black leather chair and watched as he took the one behind the oak table. On the table there was an old computer and a large pile of papers. A huge coffee mug was the center of it all. There were no windows except a small one and that frightened me immensely. It was like prison only with comfy chairs and coffee.
Riley sat down on the chair beside mine and handed her uncle a bag full of papers. He grunted a short reply and took the stack.
"I want to find out about my sister," I blurted out rapidly and waited for his expression. Then realizing my mistake, I added, "Sir." He looked up at my distraught face.
"Well. She's dead right? I mean if you're here that means she died." He said and looked back down at the stack of papers in his hand. Of course I knew it but it still stung. It was excruciating. "So what is there to find out, then?"
"Yeah, well, she isn't in her casket." I murmured to my lap. Dead silence followed as I watched the man's expression turn from bored to horror-struck.
"What the - " he said to himself, his pupils growing larger. "Wait, you mean to tell me she ain't in her casket? What's your last name? Maybe you got the wrong funeral home?" he asked, almost accusingly at me.
"Knodlege, sir.' I replied. His eyes flashed with recognition and an emotion I couldn't understand, almost like fear.
"Nope. No one of that name has been buried in our cemetery. I would remember. I remember everything." He whispered and coughed into his hand loudly.
"But, Uncle Martin, I remember I was the one that helped him. When I helped you last year." Riley argued. She looked confused. I probably looked confused too but at the moment, I was still registering everything in. I remembered when we came here because it was the only funeral home for miles. I remembered the sad day we made the funeral plans with Riley and called all our relatives to deliver the horrifying news. Yet, the old man denied it but I just knew that he remembered us too. Something about his eyes gave it away. They shifted around the room nervously every ten seconds and you had to be dense not to realize he was suddenly uncomfortable.
"But, I remember coming here. You must be making a mistake, sir." I asked a little crazy. The man looked at me and then shook his head.
"No. You're wrong. I've never met you before." He replied loudly, shaking his bald head as hard as he could, like a little kid saying "No" to vegetables. "Now please, you have the wrong place. Sorry. It's probably the fact that you lost your sister. Go rest." The man got up and escorted me through the hallway and out the door, closing it loudly. I heard him exhale from the other side. 'But what about Riley,' I thought. I started to walk away from the house when I heard a small creak behind me. I turned to see Riley looking agitated.
"Noah, listen carefully. You have to come back. There is a file in one of his drawers with all you need to know. Trust me, he remembers you. Once you find out the truth, please understand he feels horrible. Also, please understand that you will have about three minutes to get in and get out of the room because that'll probably be how long I can distract him. Understand?" she said quickly, looking behind her back. I couldn't speak so I just nodded and tried to absorb all of what she said. "You can come in through the office window, I'll go open it. When you hear my signal, that's when you go in, find the file and get out. Got it?" She whispered hastily at me. I nodded again. Riley then closed the door and disappeared inside the house.
I was so confused. Something was definitely wrong. But, understanding the fear in her voice, I quickly crouched down and crawled around the perimeter of the house. I spotted the small window and thanked my genes because a normal boy my age wouldn't be able to fit through the same window I could easily slide through. I crouched under and tried to keep the cold snow off my face, but my fear was stronger and so I plunged deep into the white snow. A scary thought then trampled me, WHAT SIGNAL?? Riley had never told me what she would do. I hit myself on the forehead and started making a mental will.
"Uncle Martin, want me to make you some tea?" shouted a loud voice from the inside of the house. Aha, I thought and realized that was the signal Riley meant. I peeked through the window and spotted the man's back and Riley walking away from the office. Riley turned and mouthed a small, "Go." I scrambled from the snowy blanket and pushed a foot in through the minuscule window. My body followed, with my other leg trailing behind it. I squeezed my head through the small window and realized that I was inside. Adrenaline rushed through me and I could only imagine that it was what burglars felt when they stole something.
I quickly moved the large chair and looked around for a drawer. I spotted two on the right side of the table but then realized that they were both locked. My eyes widened in fear as I cursed myself for thinking that the drawers would be open. Stupidity was going to get me killed, not 2012.
I searched through the piles of papers that covered the whole table for the keys until I spotted them on the floor, near the small window I entered through. Riley probably did that, I thought, and then went to quickly pick them up. A small breeze came from the window and I realized I didn't have much time left before the man would come back. Scared out of my wits, I opened the drawer and pulled out the same bag Riley had with her on the bus and the same one she gave to her Uncle. I recalled what she had said, "To bring some paperwork to Uncle Martin. The printer doesn't work and it is crucial." So this was the paperwork that held the answers I was looking for. I opened the blue file and started to read it. I shook with fear and disbelief as I finished the page. A wet tear trickled down my face and then everything went black.