German: Das Haus des siebten Menuett
I set my phone to flashlight mode as I stepped out into the hallway, but a low brightness so as to not waste battery power. The owl was hopping along the hallway, looking almost as though it was playing.
“Ooohh, you cheeky owl,” I grumbled as I watched it.
I followed it, and it hooted and hopped ahead several times quickly.
“Hey!” I snapped. “You need to get back outside so I can get some sleep without worrying about you.”
It hooted again, and kept on going. I sighed and picked up my pace. Of course, I should have known better. I should have known not to chase a bird– or at least to realize that catching it wasn’t an option.
I ended up following it all the way down the hall, and at that point, it was agitated and flapping its wings wildly. It looked like it was trying to perch on the door handle, but as soon as it put its weight on it, the handle turned, and the door to the library opened. I followed it inside and closed the door behind me. After one more flash of lightning, the room went completely black. I could hear the owl hooting and feathers rustling.
“Come on,” I snarled, sounding a lot like the thunder outside. “I can’t have you messing up the books. You’re used to being in the forest when it rains, right?”
More hooting and cooing. Then a door creaked open and the sounds the owl made got further away.
I sighed. It was a heavy sigh, I knew. “Great. You’re opening doors. You’re going upstairs. what next? Are you gonna play an oboe?”
It made a sing-song series of hoots as it ascended. Another door opened, and golden light spilled down from above.
“Well, at least I’ll be able to see where I’m going.”
I climbed the stairs and stepped in to the strange hallway I’d been in– I mean dreamed of– a few days ago. I walked down the rug, past the portraits, and through the half-opened blue doors.
“You know, owl, I have a great idea. I could just… Just close these doors, leave you here, and go back down stairs. You can stay in dreamland, and I’ll be able to go to bed.”
“Dream Land?” a rich voice with a thick accent asked. “Is that the name you’d rather give Tierney Ríocht?”
I looked across the room and shook my head. “Oh, no…” I said as Jean-Marc Durand met my eyes. “You’re real after all, aren’t you?”