The estate looked a little run down and creepy as the taxi pulled into the drive...the front garden which must have been beautiful in it's time, had long ago lost it's battle against the weeds....some as tall as the majestic front doors!!!
Paint had flaked away exposing the thick wood timbers to the elements....and as she climbed the front steps she was careful not to catch her heels in any of the cracks that ran through them....
Before she could knock the doors swung open and an immaculately dressed man stood there to greet her....he was in a servants costume....replete with his long waistcoat and white gloves and he looked horribly out of place framed with the old and weathered facade of the house...
"Good Afternoon Ma'am....I am Caruthers, I take care of things here for the Professor....and I assume you are Miss Maples?"
"Yes....I guess you were expecting me...."
"I was told you were coming....please come in....allow me to take your bags....we seldom get anyone new here....the Professor prefers his privacy...."
"I guess so....way out here I wouldn't expect you see a lot of people...."
"The Professor has asked me to ask you a few questions before he decides if you'll be a good fit for his household...."
"I have another copy of my resume' if you want to see it...."
Caruthers held up his hand...
"No Ma'am....the Professor has reviewed your particulars already....but he'd like a little more information.....if you will....come have a seat..."
He led her to a large wing chair....she couldn't help but notice that the interior of the house was exactly the opposite of the outside....it was grand and beautiful....the furniture polished and the rugs clean....many of the small items scattered on the various tables and shelves looked to be very fine and were probably quite valuable....it was somehow both imposing and comfortable and she wondered at the difference from the image she'd gotten from the front....
"Now Miss Maples....you said that you weren't married....is there any romantic attachment that might interfere with your work here?"
"That's really a personal question Mr. Caruthers.....but no....I'm not romantically involved with anyone at the moment...."
"I'm sorry if these questions seem a little personal....the Professor is only worried about you leaving while he's in the midst of one of his projects...."
"I see....I have no entanglements to call me away....I have no family and no reason to leave him in the lurch...."
"Very good....I think you'll work out fine Miss Maples....allow me to show you to your room and you can get settled in...."
He led her through the old mansion....she soon realized that it was laid out in a very confusing manner.....she was afraid she'd easily get lost in these hallways....
As if he was reading her mind Caruthers explained....
"The house is quite old as you can see....and the Professors family has lived here for generations.....it has been built onto many times and it can be somewhat of a challenge to newcomers....but I assure you that soon you will be walking through these halls with confidence....as if you'd lived here all your life.....but for the time being it would be best if you used the bell pull in your room and I'll escort you to where you need to go...."
"That would be great.....I confess I don't think I could find my way back to the front door at this point!!!!"
He opened the door to the biggest bedroom she had ever seen....beautiful antique furniture and the biggest bed she had ever seen....lighted by a crystal chandelier....and with windows looking out over the overgrown expanse that stretched out behind the house in every direction....statuary almost completely consumed by the vegetation peeked through here and there....and a large pool that must have once shimmered in the sunlight was thick with algae....
He told her that he would be serving dinner in about an hour and that he would come to bring her to the dining room....
"Will the Professor be joining us?"
She busied herself unpacking before she changed for dinner....she felt foolish about not inquiring about the nearest washroom until she discovered that the room had a private washroom....
Soon there was a tap on the door and Caruthers had come to escort her to dinner....
He pointed out some of the more interesting works of art as he led her through the labyrinth of hallways and staircases until finally they arrived at the formal dining room.....
Seated at the far end of the table was a man of very advanced years....his hair was disheveled and he was stooped over, even sitting seemed to require an effort from him....
He looked up at her as she entered the room and there was something about his eyes that made her uneasy....she couldn't say why.....
"Professor....this is Miss Maples......Miss Maples this is the Professor...."
"I'm pleased to meet you Sir....I look forward to assisting you in your work...."
"Caruthers," the old man spoke in a remarkably steady voice, "After all these years I'm tired of playing these games that you enjoy so much.....can't we just get on with it?"
She wondered what he was talking about and turned to Caruthers just as he stuck the hypodermic into her neck....and then it all went black....
She woke feeling groggy....but as her mind and vision cleared....she looked around in panic!!!
The old Professor was sitting very near staring at her like she was a lab specimen!
"What's going on....why am I tied up like this....let me go immediately!!!"
"She's spunky, Caruthers....just the way you like them.....she's going to be a fine host...."
"What do you mean....what are you going to do to me???"
"Well my dear....let me explain....the human brain is an amazing thing....and so much of it is unused....picture it as vacant land....I have, over the centuries, developed a way to allow another to take occupancy of that vacant land.....you can live there but you will have no control or ability to communicate unless your new....tenant, if you will....allows it....."
She gasped as the full horror of what he was saying washed over her!!!!
"You can't do that....no one could possibly do that....."
"I assure you that I can and I will.....soon you will be a faint voice in the back of a brain you no longer control!!!"
"But I don't want you in my head....please no!!!!"
"Oh no my dear, you're quite mistaken.....I'm not taking over your delightfully young body....Mr. Caruthers will be the one taking residence....I don't go in for all that sex change nonsense....but Caruthers tends to switch back and forth each time.....although there was that one stretch in the middle ages where he avoided being female....it wasn't a good time to be female you see....."
"Middle ages.....what are you talking about...."
"You see my dear.....I discovered a formula many centuries ago in the library of Alexandria...a formula that allowed us to have an eternal life....all we had to do was keep moving into new bodies....I didn't want to share that with anyone so I set the library on fire...and we.....Caruthers and I....have lived since then...."
"But what will happen to me?"
"You'll be along for the ride until Caruthers uses you up and has to switch again....then you'll be dead....which might be the best thing you could hope for...."
"But what about...."
"Enough talk now.....Caruthers are you ready to take over her body?"
"And you've already arranged for a handsome young man for me?"
"The new groundskeeper will arrive next week...."
"Then lets begin....after all these years it will be nice to have Miss Caruthers back....at least for a while....."
There was a scream.....but there was no one to hear it and it died away.....