The mental shrieking, as small as it had been to begin with, was rapidly shrinking into nonexistence with each step. She wondered if that was bad sign, in regards to how her sense of self preservation was faring. Then she stopped wondering.

How could she even think on it, or care, when she began to explore the contents of what seemed to be a mausoleum for over four hundred and some odd years of history? The water-light from the windows spread in pools over grey rivers of dust coated walks, carving channels through the sandbars and mountainous islands of stuff.

There was a chaise lounge, old and grand, overblown and ornate with carved vines, covered in age stained flowers, fruits, and thorns. It was tempting with its beauty, to sit upon and feel a queen - dangerous with its decrepitude, an insect hobbling on five legs, poised to fall. Thread bare brocade strips stood out like strained tendons, precarious throne to a host of stuffed toys, china faced dolls, and what appeared to be several dead birds nestled between the lounge's arm and the skirts of a headless porcelain courtier.

There was a step pyramid of steamer trunks and specimen crates. The second group wasn't something that she recognised at first. Mystery of course prompted curiosity. Curiosity, as such experiences as the 'is that white streak on the stove top pancake batter or vim, and should I lick it to find out' conundrum and the 'can I make a clicking noise identical to the turn signal during a car trip with my grand-aunt for more than five minutes without being caught' experiment had shown her, leads to the discovery of painful truths. Painful, gross, ass-nasty, badly taxidermied truths.

She would never look at stoats the same way again.

Similar scenes could be spied all around, as she waded through the soft currents of dust, illuminated in sunbeams and lapping across the floor. A leaning tower of oil paintings, upside-down windows to faded gardens and portraits of nobles without faces, revealed where the stack had shifted and edged some few pieces into view. Tapestries turned to sepia tones with lax upkeep, dark eyes like stars above hosts of hunting hounds, become a pale cloud of ghostly limbs and baying mouths. Between a wardrobe and a chifarobe -

(the second identifiable to her by way of aunt Millicent's antiquing fixation)

-a crystal sided display case, shelves filled with insect boxes, boxes full of disembodied wings.

It went on and on and on.

She realised, if she were the pilot of a helicopter flying across the open sea, this would not be the point of no return.

This would be the point fifty miles after it, with no fuel left, the landing site overrun by pirates, and the coastal waters infested with sharks.

Sharks with chainsaws.