A polite “hi” between neighbours on the third floor of the now residential Brynlith Castle was where the story really began.
“So uhm, it seems some of your mail was delivered to me again. Don’t know what’s up with the postmen round here.” He handed over letters addressed to a…Mr. John Alistair on the third floor of Brynlith Castle, sixth door.
“Ah, cheers, mate.” John said. “Who knows what I could have missed if not for these letters.”
“More bills and junk mail, probably.” The unfamiliar resident replied jokingly.
John looked through his letters, confirming that they were indeed mostly junk mail, with the exception of one bank statement. “I don’t see you round here much. D’you live on the higher floors, Mr…?”
“Ah, sorry, where are my manners? I’m Gil. Nice to meet you again, even if I wish it were under better circumstances. And nah, I don’t live here. I’m from Dark Brynlith. You’d think the postmen would learn to tell the difference between Brynlith and Dark Brynlith, though.”
“Ah, Dark Brynlith.” John looked up to remember what he knew of the place. “Must be why you’re getting my mail, what with all the posties forgetting which castle they’re in. Heard it’s really nice around that place, constant night and all.”
“It’s pretty nice, yeah. Makes a takeaway nice no matter what time it is. There’s one right near the place, actually, provided I feel like walking down the stairs.”
“Hah, god, I’d spend all me money there if there was one near here;” John faintly chuckled, “anyway, I’m going to go check the letters that aren’t mail. Thanks again, mate, there’s actually some important stuff here. Alright, see you later.”
“No problem, see you later.” Gil smiled, raised his hand as a polite goodbye wave, and made his way back to Dark Brynlith. Standard Brynlith felt so much warmer and more well-lit. That was one thing he’d concede to normal over dark. Here, the lighting was a soft yellow and you had the feeling you were sheltered here; in Dark Brynlith, the lighting was a cold whitish-blue, and the place felt empty, as if there were no other residents living there. Any noise in there seemed to echo through the corridors and nobody was sure if it was just their imagination. Gil liked it because it was quiet.
He made the standard route through the corridors one always took to shift to dark: leave through the main entrance, re-enter through the main entrance, make a circuit through the ground and first floors and leave through the main entrance again. Regardless of what time it was in Brynlith, he’d find himself in twilight. Dark Brynlith.
Gil strolled back in through the entrance, feeling the silence again. As he walked through the empty corridors of the ground floor to the stairs, he felt an overwhelming unseen presence, but took no notice – he’d always assumed it to be the influence of the residents of Light Brynlith, and never particularly wanted to put any more thought into that. He instead often wondered why he’d picked a flat so high up, especially since the mail deliveries had suddenly become very sloppy.
He was relieved to make it to his place: third floor, sixth door. He turned the keys in the door and locked it, setting down his jacket on the back of the living room sofa. It was quite a different kind of silence in here. A silence that assures you home will always be here, a silence that reminds you of your freedom here. He wasn’t going to sit down just yet, though; there was no food and Gil was hungry.
Gil first took a few minutes to brew a cup of tea for himself to rest a little before setting out again to get another takeaway.
Ten minutes later, he ambled through the corridors towards the row of shops literally just outside the castle. Strange placement, but the convenience meant that didn’t really matter. When he walked out the door, there was a group of people next to him laughing and joking about something, no doubt Light Brynlith residents.
“Ha, nice. Felt like we were going to get kicked out.”
“Get out of it! At least Gil here saved us, didn’t he?” The man speaking nodded sideways towards Gil, not maliciously, instead as if Gil really had saved them from…whatever situation they were in.
They were talking to him.
Time slowed and Gil rushed to analyse everything in his mind. They weren’t of Dark Brynlith, Gil didn’t see or hear anybody walking anywhere nearby on the way. Now that he thought about it, there was less of a chance, but still a high chance of them being of Light Brynlith, but this didn’t explain why they were acting like he knew them, was friends with them and was holding a conversation with them when he clearly was not. Something was wrong, but he needed a response.
“Hah, yeah. Real close one.” Gil said weakly as he pushed open the doors to the local takeaway, taking in the smell. It took him a moment to realise that not only had the group not followed him in, they were simply gone. Gil made his standard order of a beef burrito with a side of rice and looked out at the window while waiting for his food, putting more thought into Dark Brynlith than he should have.
Walking to his door, brown paper takeaway bag in hand, Gil still saw nobody. No trace of them. He was feeling very worried now, very aware of the cold atmosphere of the place. He hurried home that day and hurried out the next time he left.
Something was wrong, and that was just the beginning.