He arrived at the gate in his usual pose, empty hands outstretched and wearing a plain brown robe. My uncle was back. Every time he came he screwed us over and every time he came my father let him in. Just like last time.
“Ah,” his smile seemed genuine enough as he looked me up and down in my plain black garment, “You must be Armidia. Give your old uncle a kiss and a hug?”
“I’m Laksa,” the annoyance was allowed to creep just so far into my voice, “Armidia is the pretty blonde one.” He should at least have known my name.
“But you are pretty, my dear,” his voice didn’t oil at all, “Don’t dismiss yourself so.”
“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, Uncle Reys.” I stepped aside to usher him in. “I suppose you’ll be wanting to see Father?”
“Of course,” he took my unspoken invitation and strode into the manor, “How can my life be complete, my rehabilitation final without a heartfelt reconciliation with my dear brother?”
“Indeed.” I closed the door behind us. “The rest of the family are in the Brown Room.”
“A most pleasant outlook, as I recall.” Uncle chatted of inconsequentials all the way through the house, nodding pleasantly to those servants we passed on the way. I also nodded to them and Uncle did not see the looks we passed between us.
I opened the door to the Brown Room myself. “Please go in Uncle, the family will be so happy to see you. I’ll just be a moment, I left some sewing in the Morning Room.”
Uncle Reys stepped into the room, booming jovially, “Sebastian, Maria, children, how good to see-.” That was when I slammed and locked the door behind him. The two surviving menservants dragged the pre-positioned chest into position as we heard Uncle Reys scream. That would have been when the rest of my family looked up from what they were doing – it had been a cow. Better that than what they had been feeding on before we’d confined them. We let the oiled rope roll out as we made our way out of the building and lit it before we closed the front door again.
It wasn’t the only ignition point of course and we all cried as we watched the house burn, the flames enlivened by the tubs of oil and other combustibles we’d spread through the house. We watched to make sure that none of the monsters that had been my family escaped.
On his last visit, Uncle Reys had left behind holiday gifts to be opened in their season. Jewellery cursed with the hunger, that all consuming hunger. My family became monsters by his deed, rending their servants, friends and uncontaminated kin before we managed to trap them. I had only escaped the curse because Armidia and Rovillia had claimed two necklaces each. Our youngest sister, Serrina, had been their first victim... It had seemed only just to wait till Uncle Reys came by so we could destroy all the monsters together.
My only concern now, as the embers of my home fitfully glow under the dawn light, is to wonder how much of me is like Uncle Reys.