There should be a new saying, never get into a car with a lawyer you don't know.
In true horror movie fashion, my sister Lysiane and I were heading to some unknown property, with a lawyer we didn't know. It was really an incredible moment, my life flashing before my eyes, no cell signal-
"Right, so as you may know-" The lawyer was saying, his eyes fixed on the road.
I looked up immediately, shaken out of my daze. "I'm sorry, what?" I blinked up at the sharply dressed man in the driver's seat, shivering at the cold feeling of the leather below me.
My sister swore under her breath, turning to glare at me. "For the love of-would you please pay attention?"
I sat up straighter, waving at Lysiane to make her shut up. "No, no, I don't get it-"
"-What a surprise-" Lysiane said, rolling her eyes, and I shot her a filthy look, before turning to the lawyer.
"Who left me this money, again?" I asked again, putting on my awkward with a splash of apologetic tone.
The lawyer smiled in a well-practised way, staring at me with cold, dead eyes through the rearview mirror. "No problem, ma'am. Your relative, Signor Beezly Ahmed-"
I pointed at the lawyer and turned to my sister. "Right there, who the fuck has that name? Have you ever heard of this guy?"
Lysiane gave me a murderous look. "Show some respect for the dead, Lenora! Sir, please continue." She raised an eyebrow threateningly when I opened my mouth incredulously. Lysiane was younger than me but acted twenty years older, with multiple sticks up her ass.
The lawyer smiled again in his sweet, artificial way and continued, "As I was saying, Signor Ahmed has left you his estate, his remaining fortune after debts are repaid and loans, and has bequeathed you his immense library."
Lizzy may be buying this, but I jumped in the second he took a breath. "Okay, but who is this man?" My sister inhaled deeply, apparently worried that if we didn't know this guy the lawyer would take away the inheritance or something.
The lawyer blinked at me like I honestly was the dumbest person he had ever met in his life. "He is a relative. And moving on, he left you-"
"Mother's side, father's side?" I asked, throwing my arms out to accentuate my point.
The lawyer continued like I hadn't spoken, and Lysiane played along, nodding politely. "-all this in a will, however, there is a caveat. As you know, you must go to his property, retrieve a certain box, and only then is all this yours." He suddenly laughed jovially, making Lysi and I jump. "Good thing we're heading there early!"
Yeah, this had gone off the rails. "What? No, no, back up here. Can we all take a moment? Please? So this man is a-"
"Relative, move on," Lysiane said icily, sharing a look of sympathy with the lawyer. She had bought this whole thing too fast, just because this fancy lawyer actually worked for a fancy law firm.
Relative from where? I had never heard of this guy! Apart from a last name, we shared absolutely nothing in common. "And he is leaving me, all of this cash, for no reason?"
"Do not look a gift horse in the mouth!" Lysiane mouthed stop, but I was determined to get answers to questions I had asked over and over.
The lawyer spoke calmly. "Not no reason, ma'am, he specifically instructed I leave the money to a member of his family turning 20 this year, who shared certain passions with him."
"Passions? What passions?" This was getting weirder and weirder the more time that went on.
"As he said earlier, both of you are into rock climbing, he also really valued the environment like you do." Lysiane squeezed my hand in annoyance, giving me a loaded look.
I gave up, slumping back in my seat. I mean, we did need the money. It wasn't like our parents were going to be able to repay the college loans that both of us were steadily incurring. "How long until we get there?" I asked shortly.
"We are almost there, you will soon see a gate- right, there, in front of us."
A large, dark, and imposing metal gate opened up ahead, and I was sufficiently spooked. I leaned closer to my sister, determined to keep my voice down in front of the psycho murder in the front. "Lysi, did Signor Beezlebub or whatever exist online?"
"Yes, you moron. Not everyone is out to get you, Len, just count your blessings that this all worked out. This is like winning the lottery, a second chance at life!" Lysiane caught the eye of the lawyer in the mirror and smiled politely.
Useless. I moved away and surveyed the property that could be mine. It was well maintained, light and airy. The actual house, though it looked more like a castle with its stone walls. was incredible. I didn't know anything about architecture, but I could appreciate the symmetry of the balcony in the middle, the two staircases leading up to the house from opposite angles, the pretty windows and stuff.
"Oh wow!" Lysiane said, heading towards the stone structures on the lawn, smiling.
The lawyer wistfully stared at the structure, his hands clasped together. "Yes, this was Signor Beezly's little slice of paradise."
"Do you miss him?" I blurted suddenly, feeling more than a little anxiety after I said it.
"Oh, not really." The lawyer said, turning to look at me. "You didn't know him, but he was quite an animated man. Sometimes I'm walking in the estate and it feels like he never really left."
"Creepy," I said, somehow not drawing the same level of comfort he did from that thought. "So, the box?" I vowed that the first thing I would do is sell off this property, so Signor Beezlebub could haunt someone else's house.
The lawyer gestured me along with him, and I followed him into the house, "What's in the box anyway?" I asked, appreciatively studying the artworks littered in the house. Most were of mountains or had something to do with climbing or the sky.
"I don't actually know, that's only for you to know, I'm afraid." The lawyer said. "Yes, the paintings are something else aren't they?"
"Paintings? Oh! I thought these were prints, he made these?" I asked, getting closer to one and marvelling at its stunning composition and subtle blending. I turned back to the lawyer but paused at his expression.
"You don't paint?" He asked quietly, and I honestly couldn't tell what was wrong with him. "I thought you were an artist."
I gaped at him, laughing awkwardly. "Oh, I am, digital art and alcohol markers, uh, why?"
The lawyer said nothing for a few minutes, leading up the stairs. "Nothing is wrong, you can always learn new things I guess."
I stared at him, feeling irritated. This actual moron, I'm sorry I'm not your dead boss come to life.
He held open a door when I got there. "This room is his study, you will find the box here, and learn more about the Signor."
I moved past him quickly, entering the room without saying anything.
It was, interesting. There were masks, and paraphernalia from all over the world, as well as a wall full of climbing pictures. Clearly, this was a well-travelled man, and the sheer number of books told me a well-read one too. There was also, some odd stuff. Skulls, little bones decorated with beads or feathers.
One book still on the dusty desk read: How to make your peace with death, by Laura Sanchez.
Morbid, but then again, this was probably an old man not quite ready to leave the plane of the living. I wandered the room, searching for boxes. There was a big box of files, probably not it. I found a small box of cufflinks, doubted that one too. Finally, I saw it, on top of a high shelf, a box adorned with patterns and gems.
Oh, what the hell. Of course, it wouldn't be anywhere obvious, or safe to reach. No, why on earth would that make sense.
For a moment I considered calling for the lawyer, but I decided not to in the end. He was the creepiest guy I had ever met, and I wanted to get the stupid box, chase him off my property, and call a cab with my new fortune.
I put one foot on a lower shelf, hoping that the dead ghost of Signor Ballzy wouldn't disapprove too much, and began climbing. When I looked out the door, I groaned when I realized that the lawyer was gone too.
Well shit, time to climb.
It was actually really easy, too easy in fact, and pretty soon I was staring at the box, not even slightly out of breath.
"Well hello, you ugly thing," I whispered, and sneezed a few times with the dust. "Oh shit!" I clutched onto the shelf for dear life, feeling dizzy. I contemplated just throwing the box down, let it break, then I can get whatever is inside.
But the thing already looked fragile, and I had literally put my dirty converses onto the dead guy's shelves, I didn't think more disrespect was required.
I held tightly with my right hand and reached for the box with my left. My fingers closed around it and I pulled it back, fixing it so that it was held under my chin and on my collarbone.
God, I hope the lawyer doesn't walk in right now. Please don't let me fall the one time I didn't use a ladder.
I sneezed again, and my hand slid off the shelf. I didn't really fall, just kind of flopped onto the floor hard and felt pain in my mouth, that's all. No biggie.
"Ow! Shit!" I swore, not quite sure what to clutch and where the real pain was coming from. I sprawled onto the floor, gasping.
"What did you do?" The lawyer asked, sounding shocked.
"Dude, I fell, okay?" I turned over and saw that the box was open. Ah, hell, it probably opened when I fell.
"What the hell?" I stared at it. "It's empty? It was so heavy!"
The lawyer started choking and I leapt up. "Oh, shit are you okay?"
He clutched at his neck, eyes shining blue and I didn't dare approach him, terrified.
"What's wrong?" I asked, and backed away further when I say the blood on his sleeves. "Holy shit, what-what the hell?"
The lawyer convulsed and I yelled out, cushioning his fall. "Lysiane! Help! He's having a fit or something! Lysiane! Help-ah!" I tried to tug my arm away when the lawyer lamped his hand around it. "Hey, let go of me!"
"You stupid, stupid girl!" The lawyer snapped, suddenly getting up. "You ruined everything! I wasn't supposed to inhabit this body, I was supposed to get yours!"
I gaped at him, pushing him away. "What the hell? Get a hold of yourself you freak! I'll get you disbarred!"
The lawyer cocked his head, smiling malevolently. "Interesting, you still think I'm the lawyer. Well, I can still fix this. I can still complete the ritual."
I backed away from him, mouth dry. "Wait, you're-" I grabbed the box and threw it at him, distracting him long enough to run.
I heard a clatter and didn't dare look back, racing downstairs.
The door, where was the door?
"Everything is locked! You won't escape! But don't worry, this is your new home now!"
I swung a stool at the windows, but it bounced back. I heard someone slowly coming down the stairs and ran, hearing the sounds of laughter echo through the house.