They had finished searching the room with no luck,
“Please I didn’t do this” Sandy pleaded, she clutched her sisters hand as tears rolled over her cheeks,
“Look my sister couldn’t hurt anyone she’s an artist, all hippy-ish and‘love not war’ those things” Wendy reasoned
“What!” Sandy protested “I am not a hippy” she snapped and the girls began to bicker,
“Will you two shut-up!” Lara yelled, she had noticed something that nobody else had, “where’s the butler?” she said turning around in a circle searching for the old man,
“I’m sure he was here just a minute ago” Maria King offered
“Well he’s not...” Remy Del Ray’s words were cut short by the sound of a blood curdling scream reverberating around the house
“Hay Van Ville i don’t suppose you’ve got one of those novelty door bells” Conner said
“I think we just found the butler” Lara said as she moved to the door. Everyone followed as she made her way out onto the landing and toward the large staircase,
"Thats not good" Laras words confirmed what eveyone knew had happened, Remy Del Ray stepped forward to take a look. Laid at the bottom of the stair was the butler, his limbs were twisted in unnatural directions, his neck had been broken causing his head to sit to one side and his face was contorted with fear and agony,
"AhhhhhhhhNoooooo" Maria screamed, she had reached the top of the stairs before her husband who was now holding her shaking body close, her head buried in his chest.
"Quentin take you're group back into the bedroom please and can you bring me the bed sheets" Remy said once again taking charge. Quentin nodded in respose and began to herd his group, most of whom were crying back into the brightly decorated bedroom. A second later he reemerged carrrying all the bed sheets he could manage from the twin beds.
"Do we all still have our gloves?" He asked, they all produced the gloves they had earlier used to examine the dead chef,
"Alright, same as last time, let's see what we can find" he said "Sally, Connor you take a look around up here, we'll do downstairs okay?" He said looking toward Lana, shr nodded and followed him as he made his way down stairs.
In the bedroom everyone had taken a seat whereever they could, the twins were said together, pale skinned and silenced in shock, Maria king still held tightly to her husband; not a word was spoken by any of them, they were all too terrified that the other was the murderer. Down at the bottom of the stair they worked in silence each looking over the body, some trying to avoid contact others not caring much at all.
“Wait!” Lara Called out suddenly “what is this?” she said her eyes finding contact with Remy del Rays. He moved around to take a closer look at what she had found, on the back of the man’s neck , just below his hair line was a deep blue dot the size of a dress makers pin head.
“Umm, what do you think that is?” Remy pondered out loud,
“It looks like an ink dot, maybe a ball point pen or a fountain pen” Lara commented
“you’re right Lara, it’s just like an Ink pen dot, I can’t say that the fall killed him and so it’s possible that he was poisoned with the ink pen, especially considering this rash that seems to be surrounding the dot, and then he fell as a result so who might use an ink pen especially with Claude Van Ville’s ‘no technology rule” he said looking around
“Well I might” Lara said honestly “though I did not bring a fountain pen, nor did I bring my laptop as Van Ville provided me with a typewriter” she added
“I have a fountain pen, in fact I’ve got it with me” Conner spoke up pulling the pen from his pocket “but I’m sure the ink is blue” he said pulling a small note pad from his pocket also, he pulled the lid from the pen with its sleek black body and gold accents, he quickly scribbled something on the pad “yep definitely blue” he announce and showed the rest of the group,
“Alright” Remy said though he did not sound convinced, “so who else?” he asked
“What about the Lawyer” Sally mused from her perch at the bottom of the staircase
“It’s possible; I mean was your pen provided by our host?” Lara asked Conner
“Yes it was” he replied
“I’m guessing that so was his but of course it is possible that someone anticipated Claude Van Ville’s nostalgia for the historic and brought their own laced with whatever poison it was that helped our friend on his way” Remy said“let’s go and check” he added standing and re-removing his gloves and beginning the ascent up the stairs, the others followed suit. The room was silent when they walked back in with their new knowledge; everyone looked at them, to them for comfort and direction,
“We need to know who else here was given or brought their own fountain pen containing black ink” Remy inquired looking from face to face for some form of tell,
“I do, Quentin King replied I had some important documents to read and sign over the weekend” he said standing and moving away from his wife
“And did you bring the pen with you Mr King or did Mr Van Ville provide you with it?” he asked
“I brought it with me, Mr Van Ville did provide an ink pen, very beautiful however it uses blue ink and I prefer Black plus it is my favourite pen, I’ve done a lot of good deals with this pen” he replied patting his breast pocket
“May we see the pen Mr King?” Remy asked though the sentence had the air of a statement, a demanding statement rather than a question. Quentin King paused,
“Why do you want to see his pen?” Maria King stood; wiping tears from her red rimmed eyes and moved over to where they stood,
“Well Mrs. King the deceased was found to have a small black ink dot at the base of his neck; it was irritated and inflamed which suggests a second poisoning which led to the fall. Now I have checked with everyone else who had an ink pen and well they all use blue ink” Remy explained, “now Mr...” he began but was cut off by an outraged voice though it was not the voice of Quentin Kings wife
“You have got to be kidding me, first my sister and now Quentin...Mr. King couldn’t hurt a fly” Wendy said raising her voice more than she had when she had been protecting her sister
“With all due respect Sandy you haveonly just met Quentin King, he could be England’s most prolific serial killer” Lara returned, the girl sat back down her eyes averted to the deep pink carpet
“Now the pen please Mr. King” Remy finally said
“No! This is outrageous, Quentin darling don’t give...” Maria king began in protest
“Sweetheart its fine, I did not kill that man nor the chef” he said as he produced the pen from his inner pocket much like a magician might a bunch of false flowers.
“Lara will you please take the pen” Remy said he had taken his gloves off when they had entered the room,
“Sure” Lara replied and took the pen by the lid tip in her own still gloved fingers, she slipped of the lid and held it in one hand while she touched the tip gently to her index finger; a wet dot of black ink was left in its wake, “it’s been used recently’ Lara noted and began to twist the pen removing one half of the pen body form the other, “and it’s empty’ she added. Remy turned to Quentin King
“Mr. King do you know where the ink cartridge is?” he asked
“No, um I haven’t a clue; I don’t understand that pen has not been away from my person, it’s been in my jacket pocket this whole time I cannot understand how the ink cartridge was removed without my knowledge” he said stuttering slightly in disbelief
“There is one very obvious explanation Mr. King, you murdered the chef and the butler, god knows why but it explains the pen and I think it might also explain the paint found of the chef” he said though he did not divulge further
“What do you mean it explains the paint?” Quentin King demanded, Remy moved closer to the outraged man
“I think you know what I mean Mr. King” Remy whispered “and I also think it is not something you want me to say in front of your wife” he added “Now Mr. King if you would accompany me into the hall, Lara will you join us” he said leading the way. Lara kept a hold of the pen as she followed close behind Quentin King.
Once they had re-convened in the hall, Remy Del Ray turned to confront Quentin King,
“Out with it them, how long have you and Wendy Holowitz been having an affair Mr. King? He demanded. For a while silent fell until finally Quentin King leant in and whispered, still afraid his wife might hear,
“I met her in a bar after work it just happened...” he began
“...and has been happening ever since, how long ago was it you met Ms Holowitz in the bar?” Lara cut him off
“Um-I a few months, 6 months” he muttered
“And have you been with her since we got here?” he asked
“Yes but only for a short while and nowhere near her room, I couldn’t have gained access to her sister’s paint, I didn’t do this, please believe me”he begged
“I’m sorry Mr. King but two people are dead and thus far you are my only suspect and you have connections to both murders therefore I must ensure that the remainder of the people in this bloody locked down house are safe, you understand?” Remy replied coldly
“And what are we going to do with him, Remy?” Lara asked
“We are going to lock him into a room and we will keep the keys safe, you and I” he replied
“What you can’t do that!” Quentin King protested
“Yes I can plus if you look at it another way, if you are not the killer then you are safely locked away in a room” Remy noted, “just give me a minute”he added and left them. He entered the bedroom once more and reappeared a moment later with a handful of keys that Claude Van Ville had been carrying with him since they had entered the house,
“There are not more sets of keys?” Lara asked
“These are the butlers, he was the only one with a set; Van Ville doesn’t even have a set of keys to his own house” he said gesturing for them to follow him. They did not move far down the hall stopping at the only bedroom that had not been occupied by one of the guests, “you will stay in here, we will check on you every so often, I hope you understand why this is necessary” he said and his reply was given with a nod, “okay In you go Mr. King, I will be giving the key to this room to your wife and she will be kept an eye on” he said beginning to close the door,
“You won’t tell her will you, please” he said just before the door was shut and locked.
“Now what?” Lara asked
“Well we keep looking; if Quentin King is not the killer then we still have to find out who it is before anyone else dies” he said walking back to the bedroom.
Back in the bedroom everyone was speaking at once, the noisy din escaped even though the heavy door stood between them and it. When they both walked back in, the room fell deathly silent,
“Where is my husband!?” Maria King yelled at them
“He is locked in a room for our safety and his own and you, Mrs King, are going to be given the task of holding the key, you will be watched Mrs. King” he said as he handed over the key.
“Okay well I think it’s safe to say that we are all hungry and I myself need a bathroom break and a drink” Sally spoke up,
“Okay but we go in groups; girls and boys” Remy said, Bathroom first and then we will all go down to the kitchen and find something to eat. Somehow along the way hours had passed while they had been examining the two dead bodies and accusing a lawyer of murder, before they realised the clock struck midnight. The chimes rang out through the grand old house sending shivers down every person’s spine.
They took their respective bathroom breaks and then re-joined to form a large group and made their way down to the kitchen where the first body still remained though it had since been covered by a sheet.
“We stick to tinned food, packets, collect what you can, James and Wendy get some jugs of water and we’ll go into the front room, Lara you come with me we’ll check on Mr. King and collect some quilts, blankets” he said, he collected a glass of water and a packet of chocolate digestive biscuits before turning to Maria King,
“Mrs King the key please” he said holding out his hand, she reluctantly gave it over, though she did not argue, “thank you” he said and both he and Lara left to return back up stairs. As they made their way to the bedroom they had locked Quentin King in Lara asked the question she had been wanting to ask since they had left the bedroom,
“I know you don’t think it’s him” she said “but who do you think it is?”she asked
“No I don’t but with him locked away safe in here I have one less person to worry about because to be completely honest with you Lara I have no idea who is doing this, for all I know it could be me” he said with a quick grin as he unlocked the door. When they walked in Quentin King was sat on the bed, he looked up grimly
“Is someone else dead?” he asked
“No we’re just bringing you some water and biscuits” Lara replied, the conversation and the visit were kept short and then they were returning back down the stairs, past the second dead body, their arms full of blankets and quilts. The others had gathered what food and water they could and had it collected on the coffee table that sat opposite the sofa, each person had taken a seat, some rested on the floor already and happily accepted the added comfort of a blanket or quilt cover.
“What do we do now?” James Ripley asked, he was the youngest in the group and he looked scared though he tried to hide it,
“We’ll be fine James, we’ll stay here until morning and then we will stay together and we will continue to do this until the morning and then we will walk out of here together, alive” Lara said trying her best to comfort him.
Everyone ate in silence baring the odd crunch of crisp and clank of fork against tin; Claude Van Ville may have been a very rich man but when it came to food shopping his pockets were far from deep. Hours passed as they picked at the food and slept in fitful dreams, some had picked a book from the shelf and sat and read in the low lit room though often their minds would wander to the situation that they had been put in, finally someone spoke up breaking the silence and shaking the others from their false slumbers,
“Where is Sally?” one of the twins asked from the corner they had chosen to curl up in,
“What?” Remy replied groggily
“Sally Mayfield, where is she, she’s not here” Wendy repeated
“Tell me you’re joking...are you sure” Remy replied suddenly fully awake and alert
“She’s not here” Wendy said once more
“She’s right Sally’s not in the room” Lara confirmed, she had stood and turned the dimmer switch fully up to check every inch of the room,
“No definitely not here” Conner said he had also stood
“Shit” Remy Del Ray muttered as he too stood, “did anyone see her leave?”he asked though his question was met with only ‘no’ and shakes of the head “we had better go and look for her” he said moving over to the door, “two groups, Connor, Claude and the twins you look down stairs and myself, Lara and James will look upstairs” he said. Each person stood and mentally shook themselves awake though none were ready to leave the warmth and slight comfort of the room.
They each walked faster than they really wanted to though they moved with caution afraid of what they might find; they checked the kitchen though she was not to be found snacking nor the more likely, drinking. She was not sat in front of the still roaring fire in the dining room warming herself and gaining some much desired ‘alone’ time and she was not seated in the darkness of the cold and caged in conservatory; she was not downstairs. They began to make their way up the stairs past the body of the butler and down the hall until they met up with the second group,
“What is happening, did you find her?” Conner asked
“Yes, Mrs King do you have the key?” Remy answered and asked his own question
“Yes I do but...” she started
“Did you come up here while the lights were down and the others were sleeping, did you sneak out and let your husband out of this room?” he asked coldly
“No, I have not!” She snapped in outrage
“Can I have the key” he replied, it was not a question
“Where is Sally?” Sandy asked as Maria King finally handed over the key
“She’s dead, stabbed in the heart with a knife” Remy replied with little emotion
“Oh!” Wendy gasped turning to hug her sister “we’re all going to die!”she wailed,
“No we’re not!” Lara yelled at her, “Sandy will you please calm her down, Sally Mayfield left that room of her own accord, and we are all going home on in the morning, now shut up” she yelled once more. During this time Remy Del ray had slid the key into the lock,
“Finished?” he said to her when she had stopped and calmed down
“Yes” Lara replied and gestured for him to open the door; he turned the key and gently pushed the door open,
“Oh for fucks sake” he muttered “I can’t believe this” he said a little shock flashed across his face, Lara pushed past him to see what had shaken the detectives calm demeanour; it was Quentin King. He was laid cock-eyed across the bed with his head facing the door; his eyes had rolled in to the back of his head leaving only pale whites where once bright blue iris had been and his mouth hung open as though in shock at the gaping hole that was now in his skull. Blood had soaked into the cream rug below turning it a deep thick red and every so often a droplet would fall from the still oozing gash only to vanish, swallowed up by the still thirsty, glistening rug.
“Oh no, sweetheart I’m so, nooo, no, no” Maria Kin yelled and though no one else had caught it Remy Del Rays sharp deductive skills heard something very close to remorse, he pulled the door closed and turned to look at the group of people who seemed to be relying on him, Wendy was sobbing, her face buried in her sisters long hair, he looked from her back to Maria king
“Why did you kill your husband Mrs King? Was it because you believed him the murderer or was it because you found out he was screwing Wendy Holowitz?”he asked bluntly, everyone fell quiet apart from Sandy who could not help her now involuntary sobs
“I knew about them before we came here and then when she turned up. I was just going to confront him and when Sally asked if I would go with her to the bathroom it seemed like the perfect chance. Then when I saw him I just lost my mind” she sobbed,
“Did you kill Sally and the others?” Remy asked
“What!” her head snapped up in anger “no I did not!” she half yelled the words at him
“And did anyone else go with you?” he asked
“no, no one else, not that I noticed and afterwards, well I just returned downstairs, I didn’t even notice Sally had not returned” she said and once more began to sob, no one came to comfort her.
“Jesus” Lara muttered, “this house if full of crazy people
“Alright everyone back down to the front room” Remy announced, “myself and Lara will stay here to examine the latest crime scene
“What!” Wendy exclaimed “I am not going anywhere she is” she said pointing a still perfectly manicured finger at Maria King, “she might try to kill me” she said
“Well you were having an affair with her husband however “ Remy began stopping to pull a pair of deep silver handcuffs from his jacket pocket, “I never go anywhere without these” he said as he produced them and handed them to Conner “ Cuff her to the heaviest chair and keep an eye on her” he said. He and Lara waited for them to vanish down the stairs and then they returned to the bathroom where they had found Sally Mayfield.
Sally Mayfield had not stood and moved from the bath tub where she had been found, she was still there lain with her hands in her lap, her eyes wide, staring down as though looking at the knife that had been plunged into her chest, in disbelief.
“I’ll take the body” Remy said making his way over to the bath, Lara started at the opposite end of the large room by the sink. The house was impeccably clean so much so that she found not even the slightest whisper of dust or even the implied existence of dirt however the exceptional cleanliness of the room meant that when she did find something it stuck out like a sore thumb and the something she found was sequins. They were similar to the ones she wore on her red shoes however they were not the right colour, they were a deep shimmering black much like the ones set with in the beads upon Wendy’s dress,
“Remy” she called
“Lara” he called in unison their names becoming mashed together
“I’ve got something” she said before he continued
“Me too” he replied, “sequins, black sequins, you?” he called back
“Same” Lara answered and they joined each other in the centre of the room,
“Who’s wearing this colour?” he said
“Wendy Holowitz” Lara replied
“Then I guess we had better go and talk to her” he said
They walked slowly down the stairs and listened for a few seconds by the door leading into the front room, nothing could be heard either everyone had been inexplicably murdered while Remy and Lara had been upstairs or they were sat in silence; they both looked at each other as though they had just shared the same though, each hoping that it was the latter answer. Remy turned the door knob slowly and pushed open the door to find everyone, thankfully staring at him, they had been sat in silence,
“Alright we found something now I want you all to remember that we have found some different form of evidence upon everybody pointing to a different person being the murder and so I am going to start to look at this a little differently, we...” he started to explain when the lights went out and they were all plunged into darkness,
“ahhhhhhh” Wendy screamed,
“Shit, god dam!” Conner exclaimed
“Remy” Lara called, it was then hey they all heard it, two ear shattering, sharp bangs rang out around the room, “ahhh, fuck!” Lara screamed and suddenly as quickly as they had gone out the lights came back on illuminating the room,
“Oh my god!” James yelled,
“What- what now!” Remy yelled back
“it-it’s the twins they’re, they’re dead!” he yelled back, everyone stopped and looked toward the chairs that Wendy and Sandy had been sat in, they had both been shot in the chest, blood soaked their dresses and their bare legs
“for fucks sake I am starting to get annoyed with this, I’ve had enough, if it’s not one of us then there is someone else in this house, Lara” he said turning though she was not stood behind him,
“Down here” she called, she had been knocked over and the door which had been close behind them now stood open,
“What happened?” Remy asked as he helped her up
“I don’t know exactly it was pitch black Remy” she replied “someone rushed past me sent me flying” she said, they each looked around the room, everyone was still there, who else is in this house Claude?” Remy asked as he examined the cut on Lara’s forehead,
“No one just us” he replied
“Wait a minute” Conner said moving toward Remy “what about the girls who served us earlier, two of them I haven’t seen them since the cook died
“You’re right, Van Ville?” Remy turned to the man once more anger filled his eyes
“I am afraid, Mr Del Ray that I believed those two young ladies to have been dead many hours ago, much before the Butler” he replied
“Fine we are going to stay together, we are going to search this house from bottom to top and back again” Remy exclaimed, he pulled a small silver key from his pocket and un-cuffed Maria King, “everyone arm themselves” he said. Connor and Lara each picked up a fire poker, Maria king held a long silver candle stick in her hands, as did Claude Van Ville though he held his with less intent, James held a walking stick he had found by the door and Remy Del Ray collected the antique sword that had been hung above the fireplace,
“Alright?” he asked and stepped into the hall.
They started in the kitchen and soon found the two girls who had earlier been serving them food and wine in the dining room, they had, had their throat slit, ugly jagged cut ran from ear to ear and then they had been dumped into the pantry, this made Remy Del ray twice as angry as he had been when he had left the room only 15 minutes earlier,
“I’m going to get the bastard who is doing this and I won’t be turning him over to the police” he snarled as he closed the pantry door on the two dead girls. “Every Inch-until we find the bastard who thinks he can pick us off”Remy mutter through gritted teeth and so they continued their search. They moved from room to room in perfect formation from one end of the room to the other; Remy, Lara, Maria King, Claude Van Ville, James and Conner, until they had searched every inch of the lower rooms of the house and then they made their way up the stairs. In the darkness that had swept the house when the lights had been cut it was hard to see far in front and so no one noticed when Connor was taken, no one noticed barring an odd grunting sound, when he was hoisted up by the rope around his neck until he had stopped breathing, no one noticed until suddenly from nowhere the lights re-illuminated the house.
“AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH, no not again” Maria King noticed first, her screams were echoed around the almost empty house, instantly and in unison,
“Jesus Christ” James gasped at the sight of Connor hanging from the ceiling joists, his face was still blushed but carried the pale hew of death beneath, his eyes bulged and his tongue protruded from his lips, swollen and fat.
“How in fucks name did this bloody happen!” Remy yelled,
“It’s the darkness it allowed whoever is out there to take him and do this, they were prepared” Lara said darkly
“Well it’s going to stop” Remy exclaimed
“Do we cut him down, God please cut him down!” Maria begged
“Alright” Remy said he followed the thick rope from where it wrapped around Connor neck and down to where it was tied around one of the thick and heavy curtain holders and he untied it, gently though it took effort not to drop him, he lowered Connor down to the floor. He un-tied the rope from his neck revealing the thick red, blue indentation running around his neck,
“What do we do now?” Lara asked
“We go back down stairs and we barricade ourselves in the front room” he said and he led the way back; though even back in the safety of the room they would not be safe. They barricaded the door with every heavy piece of furniture that they could move and then they settled down,
“Does anyone want a drink of water?” Maria asked as she poured the warming liquid into one of the cups that they had brought in earlier
“Thank you” Remy said
“I’ll take one” James said, “thank you” he said as Maria handed over a cup of water he took a deep drink, Maria sat and drank from her cup though Remy only stared deeply into his as though he were pondering an un-answerable question. Claude Van Ville had sat in the high back chair that Maria king had earlier been Hand cuffed to; he seemed far from fazed by what had been in his home.
“Eurgh that, it tastes...” Maria gasped and looked toward James though he had already begun to react to the poison that had laced the water, his lips had greyed, his face paled and he was choking, foam raged at his mouth making him seem a rabid animal,
“oh my god” Lara rushed over to him, “it’s okay” sweetheart” she said as she cradled his head in her lap, he looked up at her his eyes begging though there was nothing she could do. With-in seconds Maria King was in a similar position, Remy Del Ray had dropped his un toughed water and had moved to the floor where she had fallen he held her clammy hand tightly in his though it brought no comfort to the dying woman,
“He’s gone” Lara whispered a tear ran down over her cheek, she stood and collected a cushion from one of the chair and rested his upon it,
“So is she” Remy replied doing similar with a cushion, they both stood and looked around the room, “nobody touches anything, it is 2am, what time will the doors open Van Ville?” Remy asked
“9 o’clock sharp” he replied
“Okay we have 7 hours to get through, no body leaves, we stay here and we survive” he said looking around the room. He took a chair and sat with his back to the barricaded door, Claude Van Ville sat with his hands resting in his lap and his eyes closed, he began to gently snore and Lara moved her own chair to sit beside Remy Del Ray,
“Nothing seems to bother our esteemed host, does it?” she said
“Not at all, it rather makes you wonder” he replied though he did not elaborate“how do you do it?” he said suddenly
“What is that?” Lara asked
“The ideas, the new ways to keep your readers entertained?” he explained
“Research” she replied, the conversation continued in much a similar way between them, they spoke of their jobs, mundane things and even their own personal lives and they talked until the sun rose, until the clock announced 9am and the room was once again filled with fresh, heated sunlight. The house had been released and so had they.
The three of them escaped from the house leaving every inch of belonging they had taken with them and made their way directly to the closest police station where it seemed their story was rather un-believable though they did finally succeed in convincing them. The police spent a day removing bodies, collecting what evidence they could and searching the house, they them spent days interviewing the only three surviving victims and almost a week after seven people had been in-explicably murdered and they had found nothing, no one lurked in the house, no evidence pointed to anyone person as the killer.There was nothing.