Closing the Door

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B&Q looked strangely normal in the aftermath of the earlier events. Huu and Dan wandered around without any real clue of what they were doing.

"I need a lock for the dining room," Hubert had told his apprentice earlier, once he'd lain his mother's body back in her bed as if she'd passed while sleeping. "I'm going to have to call the ambulance people to come and take her away and I don't want them going in there by mistake, so I need a lock – the kind of one that looks like it's been there for years, not just a bolt."

"Do you have any tools?" Dan had asked. When Huu shook his head, he sighed. "This isn't going to be easy."

Neither man was particularly adept at carpentry. Dan described his skills as 'fighting with flat pack a few times' while Hubert had no memory of ever having used a saw. Fitting a lock into the dining room door to look like a professional job that had been there for years was going to be close to impossible. They stood in the locks and handles aisle of the DIY store and looked at each other desperately.

"Can't we just wedge it or something?" Dan asked.

"I think we're going to have to. Maybe you can just stay in the room and move something bloody heavy behind the door. Once they're gone, you can move it out of the way."

"We can do that. It's better than this. We'll definitely fuck it up, and it'll cost a fortune."

Huu had to agree.

There was also still the matter of Edgar. The skeleton's passive nature and lack of required upkeep meant that neither of them saw any need to banish him right away as they had the other two. Edgar was less a liability, and more a cute pet. The morning had been harrowing enough without losing him too.

They walked back to the bus stop without any pretence at conversation. Hubert had a heavy afternoon ahead of him – registering his mum's death and then letting his sister and brother know the news. Life was going to go through another change.

"We can't keep the dining room closed forever," he said suddenly, breaking a long silence. "My brother and sister are going to want to go in there. They're going to go through everything."

Dan nodded. "Oh," he said, not really knowing what else to add.

"I'm going to need to get out, get a job, whatever."

"Surely you can stay there for a while until the house is sold or whatever."

"Yeah, but how long is that?"

"More than a month. Don't worry too much, I'll help you sort something out."

"That's why all this started – I didn't want to lose the house."

"Really?"

"Yeah," Huu laughed bitterly, "It seems so ridiculous now, but when it all happened and I found her, I just thought they'd sell my home and I didn't want that to happen."

"Why not buy it off them?"

"How? I don't have any money."

"Huu, I don't want to point out the obvious, but you have a skeleton that can walk about. Even if you don't want to make more and rob a bank or whatever, you can still make some money with that."

"Children's entertainer?"

"If you have to! I'm sure we can come up with better though."

"A hundred grand better?"

"It's not going to cost that much, but sure, if it does then it does."

Hubert smiled. "Thanks Dan. You've made me feel better."

"That's OK."

"Sorry about stopping the necromancy stuff. I know you wanted to learn."

"We still have Edgar, and I'm still learning. Don't you worry about me."

Huu nodded. They got off the bus and walked the few streets home.


* * *


The paramedics were filled with nice platitudes for Hubert. He thought he'd have been disdainful of them but he found their words strangely comforting. He needn't have worried about the dining room – the subject never came up, but even if it had both Edgar and Dan were inside making sure no one could come in.

Once they left, his mother's corpse in the back of their ambulance, Hubert picked up his phone and dialled.

"Hi Nick, it's Huu. Look, I don't want to spend ages on this call, I've got more to make, but Mum – she died. They've just taken her body away. Just while she slept, that's all. She's gone."

Huu didn't know what he expected from his brother. What he got was a short silence, a breath which sounded very much than relief, then:

"I'm sorry Huu, must be rough on you. Do you need me to come over?"

"Not in any rush," Huu admitted.

"OK. Do you want me to call Naomi?"

"I don't want to lose my home!" Huu blurted out.

"Hey, mate, don't worry. We wouldn't do that to you. Christ! I'll call Naomi, you need to relax." Nick's voice had an unusually sincere and concerned tone to it. "It'll be alright, little brother. Do you need any help with the paperwork and stuff? I can come up."

"No, Nick. I'm sorry, I didn't mean to say that."

"It's not a problem, I understand. I'll tell her to leave you alone for a bit, but she's going to want to come up and see Mum's body."

"I know. You too?"

"Not in any rush," Nick said, echoing Huu's comment from earlier.

"Thanks, Nick."

"It's OK. I'll text you later. Do what needs to be done your end. Do you need money?"

"I'm OK, I've got access to Mum's."

"You can't spend that. I mean, you can, but you need to write down what you spend. I'll put some in your bank account – use that instead."

"Oh, OK. Thanks."

"Call me if you need anything."

"I will."

His brother ended the call and Hubert found himself staring at the blank phone for a few long seconds. It hadn't been what he expected, but he didn't know why he had expected anything else.

"Dan, you can come out. Everything's fine!"

And for the first time since all this had begun, he felt it was.

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