Daley’s Eight 12

Rowan was the first to rise the next morning. It was time to exercise. He didn’t feel at his best as he rolled out of bed in the dim light of daybreak. The hangover from his previous night’s drinking ached in his head, and he was tired from too little sleep, but it wasn’t enough to prevent him from stepping into shorts, a t-shirt, and sneakers and tiptoeing across the room. He stepped out into the cool air of morning, and in the absence of anywhere else to exercise, he ran.

He began by running towards the front of the mansion to find there some open space to stretch his legs. The house was surrounded on all sides by woods, but there was a clearing in the front of the house for the front yard, with a lawn of green grass and careful manicured bushes. He sprinted across this and entered the woods on the far side of the clearing. The ground beneath the trees was littered with dried leaves leaves and branches, but he did discover that there were a random scattering of paths that led through the woods. They appeared to be the type of paths to be formed by the haphazard traffic of many feet exploring the woods throughout the years. They led to some of the highlights of the estate that were hidden in the woods, including a few statues, a gazebo, and a shed.

But as he followed the path, it circled around behind the house, extending into the backyard woods, and he followed it. Just as with the front of the house, the paths led to the few manmade artifacts hidden in the woods. First, he was led to a tiny lake, with a small dock and boathouse.

The path then turned back towards the Daley mansion intersecting with an old covered well. Rowan slowed down to look at the well. A structure had been built around and over the well, with a peaked roof and brick pillars at each corner. The well was beneath this roof, with its own round wall and a cement floor around it. Suspended above the well was a hand crank to raise the bucket, but the original bucket was nowhere to be seen. His initial interest in the well was simply as a raised ledge to do some box jumps, and he first considered the edge of the well as ideal for this. However, when he looked down the well and saw how deep it was, he realized that the risk of slipping was simply too great.

Rowan picked up a stone from the ground to test the depth of the well and dropped it in. He counted the second until he heard the splash. But what he heard wasn’t a splash. The sound was like a hollow cracking, like the stone had struck some twigs or ceramics and snapped them. Rowan looked down the well, but the light did not reach very far, especially at this early hour.

He resolved to investigate later, deciding for now to retrace his steps on the path, back to the lake and around the house, finishing in the front yard. Even after finally returning to the dormitory, no one else was up, and he undressed and walked into the bathroom to take a shower, dripping with sweat.

Nearly on the other side of the world on the Croatian island of Lutrosnjak, Timothy Daley stepped out of the water. He’d been taking laps around the island. It was afternoon in the Adriatic, and he climbed up the narrow, rocky shore onto the grassy surface of the island. He walked over to the single building on the island, a grand house in Mediterranean style with its front pointing towards the faintly visible mainland. He stood in his swimsuit, taking in the warmth of the afternoon sun and dripping over the grass while he walked. He picked up a towel that was sitting on the porch in front of the house and looked down a boardwalk that led down the steep edge of the rocky island to a single dock, where a man was pulling in on a motorboat. The man, wearing a summer suit and a brimmed hat stepped out of the boat and saw Timothy. He waved his hand, while Timothy waved back, his eyes placid and without emotion.

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