Multiple POVs (this could use some polish)

The Braddock House, a large Victorian, was the oldest house on the block. Built by Argus Braddock in the middle of the 19th century, it was a marvel of urban architecture. Braddock had built it himself, and finances it with money he’d made in the sale of human beings. Braddock had married seven times, but no wife had given him the heir he sought. When Braddock died at the age of 104, the bank purchased it. They sold the house to the school superintendent who turned it into a boarding house for his unmarried teachers. It remained a boarding house until the 1970s when a modernized apartment building was built.

The house had been vacant since then and no one knew why the city had not ordered the house condemned. Its original color, a dark burgundy, was now a coral pink, bleached by the sun and years of neglect. The house sagged into itself; the conical towers on each side collapsed slightly towards the middle and gave the impression of horns. The boards of the siding were peeled and warped. Most of the windows were cracked or missing completely. The lawn was overgrown with weeds and thorns, and a lone apple tree was withered and dying in the front yard.

It was the stuff of dares and legends for the local children. Vagrants moved in and out, but never stayed for long. It was said that the ghost of Argus Braddock walked the halls of the house and would mercilessly torment unwelcome guests.

But then a man bought the house. He paid cash. He moved in the day of the sale and carried only a small suitcase with him. The man was not a local; he spoke few words to the seller of the house and kept to himself. Neighbors rarely saw him outside, except for the early mornings when he would return from an unknown location, but the windows in the house were somehow repaired or boarded over within a week of his moving in.

The man was a mystery and a fitting resident for the Braddock House. He was the focus of speculation, the rumors ranged from his participation in the Nazi party to his fascination with the occult and dark arts.

####

I guess it was the middle of June when I realized that my neighbor was a Summoner. I do realize how strange that sounds. Believe me, it sounds strange to even say it. Put it this way, I read my fair share of fantasy novels, but the last time I actually heard the word spoken aloud was in junior high. And that was from some acne-plagued kids who were crouched obsessively in a circle, rolling twenty sided dice and exchanging hit points. This neighbor of mine was the real deal.

I saw him every morning walking up the path into his house. I never learned where it was that he was walking from, but every morning, like clockwork, he slouched his way through the dense weeds of his overgrown lawn. He was dressed in all black: black slacks and coat, black shoes, black hat, and black glasses. He had a long, gnarled beard that masked the lower part of his face, and a long nose that jutted out from under his glasses like a dorsal fin in the middle of his face. But the weirdest thing about this guy was the large raven that was always flying several feet above and behind the man. And I mean always. When the man went into his house, the bird would land on the dying apple tree. It would stay there, on that tree, preening and cawing for the rest of the day. All of these things might be written off as simple eccentricity, sure. But there was also the yelling and the incanting.

I really don’t know how long this had been going on, but the first time I heard it was in June. It was a gorgeous night and I had turned off the air-conditioning in favor of the breeze. At first I just thought he was listening to some particularly violent metal-core that he had imported from Finland, until I realized that there was no music. It was my neighbor who was yelling. It was loud and completely indecipherable, but there was a rhythm to it. It started just after the sun had set. It built and built, getting faster and louder, until finally there was a shriek. And then there was silence.

But not a good silence.

An eerie silence that didn’t seem natural.

The sound that followed the silence was even more unnatural. All at once it was a guttural roar, a cacophony of pain and anger, the simultaneous cry of eagles and wolves and lions. And behind it all was a raspy chuckle.

I could not ignore it any longer. I rolled from my bed and crept to the window. It was dark inside my neighbor’s house, save for a murky, red glow that guttered and seemed to ooze through the windows. In the red, I could make out my neighbor’s shape. But there was something in there with him. A large mass, vaguely humanoid, quivered and pulsed with the flickering red glow. Familiar with Lovecraft, I pulled myself from the window, worried that my mind would go mad from staring at the unearthly being. I also did not want to be seen.

My neighbor began to yell and shout once more. His voice was urgent, frightened. The unnatural sound came again. I knew at once that my neighbor had somehow managed to usher this monstrosity into the world, but he was now struggling to control it. The unworldly thing bellowed and howled.

My neighbor shrieked and cried out.

I heard him yell “No! No!’ and then went silent.

The bellows ceased.

I chanced another look out of my window. The red glow was gone. My neighbor’s house was black again. I couldn’t make out any movement from inside. I closed the window and locked it. I returned to bed and willed myself to sleep.

I never saw my neighbor, the novice Summoner, again.

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