Gabizon - Forever Young Prequel - Part 2
Gabizon is one of the most mysterious characters from the vampire novel, Forever Young. In Forever Young we meet her as an older woman, a professor at the University of Venice, Italy, but we don't find out much about her past. Now it is time to change all that. In the story you are about to read we will discover much more about some of the most important events from Gabizon's earlier life. We will see what turned her into the stern, tower of strength that we meet in Forever Young, and marvel that her experiences didn't leave her a gibbering wreck instead. (This post is part 2, start reading at part 1 here)
Gabizon - Part 2
Gabizon looked at the store fronts as she was driven by, their display windows reflecting the rising sun.
"Look, you made us late," the driver grunted over his shoulder.
Gabizon didn't bother to reply to the man. Instead she just concentrated on the view. She was smiling now that the chill of morning twilight had gradually lifted, and she was squinting to make sense of the glimpses of miniskirts, books, and cakes she saw in the delightful little shops. The car slowed and stopped at a giant set of wooden doors between two of the shops. The driver got out and went over to them, then Gabizon could hear a key turning in a lock. He opened the doors, drove through, closed them again, and then locked them in a long, laborious operation reminiscent of entering a prison yard, but the space they had entered was far removed from that. It was a garden, not large but beautiful. It was exactly what she expected an English garden to be like, with rose bushes, hedges, flower beds, and even a gazebo.
"You can get out now," the driver told her. "I'm taking the car to the garage, and that's a dirty place, not fit for a fine young lady like yourself. The front door is that way."
The driver pointed vaguely at a large house on then other side of the garden. "You can't miss it. I'll bring your bags later."
"Fine," Gabizon said, and wended her way along the winding paths of the garden toward the front door of the house, stopping now and again to smell the roses. She didn't pay too much attention to the house, noting only that although it was relatively massive, it was not the sort of huge mansion she was expecting to find as the home of a Viscount. It was more like something a bank manager or sea captain would live in, she thought.
A Message from the Author
If you are enjoying Gabizon, you can read more of her adventures in Forever Young:
Forever Young is a modern take on a classic Gothic novel, combining horror, death, and romance. It is firmly in the tradition of the most famous books of the genre but it is also something new. The book introduces us to Jasmine, a student of anthropology, newly arrived in Venice, and to Violetta, who is trapped in an ancient and violent world with no escape. After the two meet, Jasmine gradually awakes in Violetta the desire to escape.
The book is also available at Kobo and at Smashwords.
The front door was imposing though, like it had been stolen from a much larger building. It was already open, and a woman of indeterminate age was waiting for her.
"Lady Braxton?" Gabizon guessed.
"Oh no, deary," the woman laughed. "I'm the housekeeper, Mrs Tenley. I don't have a drop of noble blood in me."
"I'm sorry," Gabizon said, "My name is Gabizon. I assumed you were the Viscount's wife."
"No, no," Mrs. Tenley said. "The Viscount isn't married, never has been. Let me take you to your room."
"Thank you," Gabizon said as she followed the housekeeper along a gloomy hallway and up a flight of stairs.
"Is that Miss. Ms. or Mrs. Gabizon?" the housekeeper asked.
"I don't think it necessary to make any such distinction," Gabizon said. "Why should we women allow ourselves to be defined by men?"
"Very modern, I'm sure," the housekeeper said. "I suppose that means you're one of these feminists that are in the news all the time?"
"Do you disapprove?" Gabizon asked.
"It's none of my business, I'm sure," the housekeeper said, as they went up another flight of stairs.
"How high up is my room?" Gabizon asked.
"Third floor," the housekeeper said. "Climbing all these stairs plays havoc with my knees, but I thought it best to put you as high up in the house as possible. We don't want you too close to the basement, now do we?"
"I didn't even notice that this place had a third floor," Gabizon said, as they climbed yet more stairs.
"Yes," the housekeeper said. "This house is deceptive, to be sure, much bigger on the inside than it looks. Here we are at last."
The room was small, with ugly wallpaper and hideous bedding on an iron frame, but it looked comfortable enough.
"Oh mio dio," Gabizon said, "what is this view?"
"We're right next to The Heath on this side of the property," the housekeeper said. "It is scenic, I'm sure."
"Yes, it is," Gabizon said. "It's beautiful, the green of the trees, stretching away, and the roofs of the city, far off in the distance, I never imagined a place like this when I took this job. I thought I would be among the streets of London."
"Well I'm glad you like it, I'm sure. Now, the Viscount left instructions that you were to start work immediately."
"Oh he did?" Gabizon said, an unmistakable challenge in her voice. "I'm not the type to follow such instructions."
"I'm sure you're not, deary," the housekeeper said, with a laugh. "What with you being a thoroughly modern feminist. But the Viscount was keen that there shouldn't be any delay. He made sure to impress that upon me at some length."
"Where is he?" Gabizon asked.
"He's not available," the housekeeper said. "He's very busy, is the Viscount, often disappears before daybreak, rarely seen again before sundown. You know the type, I'm sure."
"I do, in fact," Gabizon said. "Why don't you take me to where I'm going to be working, and I'll have a look round. That way we can both tell the Viscount I've made a start. I really won't be doing any work though. I'm a little shaken. We hit something, with the car, on the drive from the station, there was blood. I am, how do you say? On edge?"
"Oh, a nasty experience, I'm sure," the housekeeper said. "I tell you what. I'll show you where you will be working, then you take a quick look, like you said, and then you can rest, for as long as you like. How about that?"
"Fine," Gabizon said.
The housekeeper then took her down to the first floor and gestured round.
"Here," she said. "This is where, you'll be working, and now I'll be off. I have to start supper. You underst-"
"Wait," Gabizon said. "Which room?"
"You're here to catalog the books, right?" the housekeeper said, as if just making sure of something she was almost certain about.
"Yes, yes. That's right."
"Well, all of these rooms are full of books, stacks of them, shelf after shelf, and cupboard after cupboard. I'm sure you know best where to start, deary. I'm just the housekeeper. You're the professor. Start wherever you want."
Gabizon opened a door and was confronted by a labyrinth of shelving. She opened another and saw books stacked among reading desks. The stacks were so high that some of them had collapsed, the books spreading across the floor in chaotic fans of paper.
"This is crazy," Gabizon said. "I thought this would be a little summer job. This is too big. It's impossible. I can't do it. I mean, it would take years."
"A lifetime, or more, I'm sure," the housekeeper said. "But all the Viscount is expecting you to do is make a start."
Gabizon picked a book up from the top of one of the stacks. She did it as carefully as she could but the stack still collapsed, fanning paper out around her feet. She looked at the spine of the heavy, leather bound book. What she saw written there caught her attention, and she swiftly opened the book to the page of publishing details.
"This is a first edition of Legends of the Lakes by Thomas Crofton Croker, published in 1829," Gabizon said, incredulous. "This is a very valuable book, and it was juat discarded here, on a pile of other books."
"A stack," the housekeeper corrected her. "Those books were stacked."
Gabizon reached for another book, this time managing to retrieve it without toppling the stack.
"This book is even rarer," Gabizon said. "The Kaverklaar. It's a collection of legends and folklore from the far north. I had heard of it, but I wasn't sure it actually existed. I thought it was a kind of legend itself. This should not be just lying around."
"It was stacked," the housekeeper said. "Neatly stacked, and dusted."
"The books you have here," Gabizon said, as her eyes flicked from spine to spine, "are incredible. This is a treasure trove. I can advance my research here so much. This is beyond anything I imagined a minor noble would have in a private collection. And all the rooms on this floor are like this?"
"See for yourself, deary," the housekeeper said, and took a step back as Gabizon opened another door.
The housekeeper watched her a while, enjoying her enthusiasm as she moved from stack to stack, shelf to shelf, gazing at the treasures she was discovering. She was soon lost to sight among the towering shelves, and the housekeeper remembered that she had work to do. She left silently, so as not to disturb Gabizon.
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