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Krss
admin



Saturday Morning

“Now that we have assembled for breakfast, I think we need to discuss the events of last night.” Santi was his usual calm self again, and Gijs finally decided he’d only imagined Santi freaking out the previous night when he’d found him fighting for air. The memory of it was still pressing against his throat a little.

Everyone nodded, except Nico, who was gripping a medicine bottle as if it was his child. Almirena’s stick was completely up her arse, and her stern face didn’t give the impression she had fainted at seeing a snake. Marion was holding a hand over her mouth and rocking to and fro slowly. She looked like she’d been to hell.

The line is over there, take a number.

“To summarize the situation, half of us had violent mental experiences during the small hours. Almirena,” and Santi looked at her, “thought she saw a snake in the projection room and fainted.”

“I didn’t think I saw it. I saw it.”

“Bearic,” Santi continued, ignoring her, “thought a white ghost was after him on the stairs and then the freezer door moved.”

Bearic accepted his words silently.

“Marion thought she saw blood coming out of the water tap.”

“It was everywhere. On the sink, on the mirror, on my face, in my eyes.. in my mouth.” Marion shuddered. Tsolaelia gave her a concerned look, while Krss snorted and exchanged a grin with Gijs.

“Nico thought someone had stolen his medicine and created a ruckus.”

Nico gripped the bottle harder. He’d told them earlier that he’d found the bottle on his table in the morning. Gijs tended to believe it had been there all night.

“And, finally, Gijs thought he saw the bed canopy descending on him, pressing him into the mattress, immobilizing him and effectively suffocating him.”

Thanks for reminding me.

“In all these hallucinations, I have detected a pattern.”

All pairs of eyes fastened on him, even Nico’s. The guy was pretty good at the leading thing, Gijs had to admit.

“All of them were triggered by the sight of a real entity: the film, the freezer, the rusty tap water and the bed canopy, respectively. I think we can safely classify the lack of pills and Nico’s attack into normal behavior.”

Gijs wondered if Nico realized he’d just been insulted.

“We have few facts at present. We don’t know if there is a real snake slithering through the house— I apologize, Almirena. We don’t know what could have caused the freezer door to behave so abnormally. We know for a fact that the water was rusty; and we know for a fact that the canopy couldn’t have descended. But I don’t think these are the most important concerns. I think the main question is: Why this coincidence of attacks in five completely different people?” He brought his hands together over the table and looked at them. His attitude reminded Gijs of a talk-show moderator on TV.

“Actually, the main question is: Why aren’t we getting the hell out of Dodge?” replied r. He seemed in a bad mood this morning. He looked like he sorely needed a drink and a shave.

“I can only speak for myself. I am staying in this house because I need it, and the professor’s letter was very specific about the timeframe we need to spend here,” said Santi. “Furthermore, I believe it would be difficult to leave, considering the storm, the lack of a car, and no phone connection.”

gabnic nodded. “I think we should stick it out a while longer. No one’s hurt, and maybe it’s just the storm.”

“You saying the storm is making someone see a bed canopy suffocate him?” r obviously wasn’t satisfied. Gijs wished they’d find a better subject to use as example.

“No, I’m not saying that..” gabnic seemed at a loss.

“I think this is happening because of the storm.” Everyone turned to look at Tsolaelia, and she became pinker than usual. “This theory is not popular among mental scientists, but some of us believe that the electricity in a storm amplifies mental afflictions. This storm is big enough and long enough for this to happen here. I believe that the most sensitive of us, the ones with strong phobias and obsessions, are the most affected.”

“It kind of makes sense,” said Bearic. “I’m normally afraid of ghosts.”

“Are the rest of you also phobic of the things that affected you?” asked Santi.

Almirena and Marion nodded. Gijs nodded with them. “Yep. Claustrophobic all the way.”

“Gijs, there is something that you mentioned, um.. last night,” said Santi. Krss grinned, and Gijs thought Santi blushed a little. “You said something about recognizing the canopy. A bad memory. Do you recall?”

“Yes, I do.. But it’s hard to remember what it was.”

“Have you had a similar experience in the past? Something falling on you, suffocating you, you being closed in a space with a pink ceiling?”

“I guess there was that time when my cellmate tried to suffocate me with the pillow for cigarettes..”

Everyone stared. Almirena recovered first. “Are you a delinquent, young man?”

“I did time, if that’s what you’re asking.”

“For what, if I may inquire?”

“I believe you are prying, Almirena.” Santi to the rescue.

“That’s okay, I don’t mind telling it. I stole a knife from a supermarket.”

“And this is why you ‘did time’, for a knife?” asked Almirena. Gijs was beginning to feel like in an interrogation room.

“No, I kind of cut a guy with it.”

“Murderer!” Almirena gasped. Everyone around the table was still staring.

“No, I just cut him. I didn’t say I killed him. It was.. self-defense.”

Almirena still looked at him as if he was about to skewer her with the fish knife.

“What’s the big deal? I was in prison too,” remarked Krss.

It was Gijs’ turn to stare.

“In fact, I think that’s where I met you. You did look familiar.”

“No way, I would’ve remembered a lady like you.”

“This is not relevant to the matter at hand,” said Santi, sourly. “The point is that Gijs’ experience is based on a past trauma. Are any others in the same situation?”

Everyone was silent. Searching memories. Gijs could almost see the little wheels turning.

“I am insisting upon this because if we identify and label these hallucinations we will have an easier time fending them off.”

“Shouldn’t that be Tsolaelia’s job?” asked gabnic.

Tsolaelia laughed. “Santi is doing it better than me.”

That was the moment when Walker entered the dining room with a piece of paper. He cleared his throat, waited to get everyone’s attention, and then started reading. He looked like an undertaker at a funeral.

But no one died here..

“Dear candidates,

You have all passed my preliminary selection, but only one of you will be the next owner of Dread Hill House. You are about to face a second and final challenge, which will be announced to you this evening, but until then I strongly urge you to familiarize yourselves with the surroundings. Trust me when I say that you will need the knowledge.

Sincerely yours,
Professor David Styles”


“He’s going to kill us all,” said Nico, softly. He turned a pair of wild eyes towards Santi. “He’ll hunt us down like animals and kill us all. Because,” and his voice became a whisper, “he doesn’t want to give his house away to anyone.” A loud thunder punctuated his words, and Krss winced.

A small shiver walked with its little claws up and down Gijs’ spine. The room had suddenly become cold.

***

Total Posts: 2307 | Joined Aug. 2006 | Posted on: 12:54 am on Oct. 9, 2006 | Link to this post
Krss
admin



Saturday Afternoon

As he climbed the staircase towards his bedroom, gabnic realized that, no matter if he won it or not, he’d never get used to the large house with its large rooms with its large beds. He was a small cottage kind of guy. He wanted a handsome partner, two dogs maybe, and of course a pool.. but not really a manor. He’d sell it as soon as he got it.

If you’re alive by the end of the week.

Where had that thought come from? Yes, those people had hallucinated. So what? He hadn’t. He had even saved one. Was he about to lose his cool to the babbling of a nutcase? Familiarize yourselves with the house, you’ll need it, he’d said. That’s what gabnic was going to do. The challenge was going to be a treasure hunt. He’d been on those before, and, more often than not, had found the thing.

So where would Styles hide the treasure, that was the question. Where would gabnic hide it if he were Styles? Definitely not in the usual places— under loose floorboards, inside fake walls, behind paintings, in couch mattresses.. Anyone would know to look there. He’d hide it somewhere in plan view, somewhere familiar, somewhere that you’d overlook just because you take it for granted.

His gaze fell on the rows of identical bedroom doors on the left side. A bedroom? Those were as familiar as you could get in this house. He’d only entered his and Marion’s bedroom, when he’d had to stay with her until she fell asleep. He hadn’t noticed many hiding places in those. But maybe some of the others..

Well, it was better than spending his afternoon complaining about tomato juice or lack of booze.

Krss’ bedroom was the first, and unlocked. gabnic knew she was somewhere on the first floor, arguing with the butler about what meat was, so he was safe. Not that he intended any harm. He was just going to have a look around. He closed the door behind him and sketched the gesture of locking it, but then he realized it’d be useless— he’d be trapped, and he’d have a lot of explaining to do.

Just act casual.

A first look around the room revealed nothing special. Just like his own, only mirrored. A bed, a table, paintings.. Then something caught his eye on the night table. It was a plastic bag wrapped around what looked like.. a syringe?

Krss into drugs? Maybe it’s some sort of medicine.. Maybe she’s diabetic.

He didn’t like syringes much, but curiosity made him want to know the substance that went in it. He sat down on the bed and opened the bag cautiously. Inside there was only one bottle; its label said Estradiol. Well, that didn’t help him much. He’d ask Santi later what it was.

He wrapped the bag as he’d found it and propped his hands on his sides to rise. His right hand felt a hard shape under the mattress.

Has Styles already hidden the treasure?

He would find that out. He listened for voices or steps, but there weren’t any, so he reached under the mattress and came out with a gun.

What the hell is going on here?

The gun seemed loaded. What was a woman like Krss doing with a gun? She was all lady. Well, except for the curses.

A gun.

Maybe you could use it later.

gabnic admitted that this weird thought had a point. Maybe she wouldn’t miss it once the hunt began. It wasn’t the first time he’d borrowed something from a woman— they were all so gullible, always letting him at their jewels, always falling for him. He wondered if there was a special gay guy smell that attracted them like fruitflies.

Anyway, he’d take that with him. For safeguarding. Who knew what hysterics she’d get into by the end of their stay? Couldn’t trust a woman with a gun in this house.

He pocketed the gun and left the room.

***

Total Posts: 2307 | Joined Aug. 2006 | Posted on: 5:24 am on Oct. 10, 2006 | Link to this post
Krss
admin



The freezer was fascinating Santi. Despite his attempts to explore the entire house equally, he had ended up in front of the freezer three times so far. From the kitchen he could only see a large, normal enough door, and even lit at intervals by the bolts of the storm it still looked like a normal door. It hadn’t tried to move or to slam. So why was he coming back? His logic told him with no shadow of doubt that there could be nothing alive in it; but being in a large, despondent manor had perhaps worked its magic on his curiosity.

He simply needed to know what was inside that room.

Having thus decided, he opened the freezer door. His nose wrinkled at the smell of chilly, closed air and at the sight of a long string of veal carcasses hung by hooks from the ceiling. Shelves with the largest variety of meat he’d ever seen spanned the walls from top to bottom, as if the master of the house was trying his hardest to make a point out of his anti-vegetarianism. Everything seemed in order; they were all as dead as they should have been.

Of course, the kitchen didn’t cast enough light to illuminate the back wall. Suddenly, it occurred to Santi that if Styles hid the papers of the house in a niche somewhere in there, no one would dare to look. He was almost certain that the object of the challenge would be the papers. That was the only thing valuable enough to drive all of them at this point. The bottom line was that exploring the entire freezer to locate hideouts could give him a very strong advantage over the others.

And when the house was his.. maybe Gijs would..

Santi forced his mind back on the tracks. Before that he needed the house. And before that he needed to get inside the freezer. Since he didn’t fancy getting locked in with the veal, he searched for the safety the maid had to use all the time. He found it, a small iron stopper, and set it. Now if only he had a candle.. but he wasn’t about to waste time finding one. He’d have to rely on his perfect vision.

With a deep breath, as if a lungful of outside air could help him not have to breathe inside at all, Santi entered the freezer. He shivered. It was cold. It smelled even worse than when he’d opened it. He would just have a look and get out of there. It couldn’t be soon enough.

Trying not to touch any of the meat, hoping the smell wouldn’t enter his clothes and stay with him throughout the day, he made his way to the back. The wall had all the normal meat shelves. Straining his eyes, Santi tried to see if there was more to it.

Were those.. cables?

Without a warning, a hissing sound came from behind him. As he spun towards it, he saw the door swinging. He was about to get locked in.  He rushed to it, to keep it open, to fight that person for it, to do something.. But, with a heart-stopping clang, the door slammed shut, the light went off, and the world became dank, dark and cold.

***


Total Posts: 2307 | Joined Aug. 2006 | Posted on: 2:41 am on Oct. 11, 2006 | Link to this post
Krss
admin



The basement of Dread Hill House, as designed by the real Santi.
Krss_40

Total Posts: 2307 | Joined Aug. 2006 | Posted on: 2:54 am on Oct. 11, 2006 | Link to this post
Krss
admin



Ignoring some hysterical shrieks about a snake from one of the broads upstairs, r went down the stairs into the basement. Familiarize, shmamiliarize. He needed his booze. Walker was a liar. No house this big couldn’t have a wine cellar. Or at least a rum cellar. Rum would do. He turned on the light switch and found himself in a small hall that had one door on the left end and was open on the right.

Now which way to the cellar?

He took left first, but as soon as he made the end of the hall he realized he couldn’t get through that. The door was made of massive iron and it didn’t even have a handle, just a triangular hole. He damn sure didn’t have a triangular anything to stick in there, and he figured they’d keep their wine easier to get to than that.

He took the only other way out of the hall. It was the cellar. There was a stack of potatoes right in front of him, the wine couldn’t be too far.. There it was! r stopped dead in his tracks and drooled at the sight of three shelves full of large ruby red bottles with golden stickers. After three leaps, r snatched the closest bottle and shoved the stopper out. The smell was a bit weird, but wine was wine.

He managed to swallow three mouthfuls before he realized he was drinking tap water. Old, rancid tap water. He jerked, trying to take the bottle away from his mouth, but he couldn’t move his hand, and he kept swallowing. He knew that he was going to drown, he knew, but all he could do was swallow the blasted water.

He couldn’t breathe.

Damn it!!

Gathering all he had, r managed to throw the bottle. It went far away and broke into pieces. He fell on all fours and threw up the entire poison out of his stomach, until he felt empty and very, very thirsty.

“I’ll see you in hell for this, Styles!” he shouted.

The silent cellar around him said nothing back.

***


Total Posts: 2307 | Joined Aug. 2006 | Posted on: 3:22 am on Oct. 11, 2006 | Link to this post
Krss
admin



The attic.
Krss_41

Total Posts: 2307 | Joined Aug. 2006 | Posted on: 3:24 am on Oct. 11, 2006 | Link to this post
Krss
admin



The attic smelled heavily of dust, which comforted Nico. It reminded him of his father’s old farm and the horses and the stable. Childhood had been the only easy part of his life. The rest of it he’d spent in mental wards and looking up at doctors. And now he was here. He could do this, he could get this house and he could change his life.

Suure you can.

Nico told the voice to shut up. He wouldn’t listen to it anymore. He could have a good life too, like everyone else. And if he had to search the entire house to win it, he’d do it. He’d taken his meds in the morning; it wouldn’t make any difference he hadn’t taken them the night before. He was okay, he’d be okay. He had to search.

The drying area was so large it had been used to store a whole pile of junk. This was maybe the most lit room in the whole house, but it was also the most exposed. Rain fell down freely on its slanted windows, so hard you felt attacked. By the light of the storm, Nico could make out many dusty crates, some old clothes, a few discarded toys, metal cans, two broken chairs and a stained table, a bat, mismatched gloves, and a stack of three paintings.

The paintings interested him the most. He took them out of the pile and dusted the one on top with a rag lying around. When he’d cleared it out, he saw it was a painting of a vampire drinking blood from a golden cup. The cup emitted an aura of light, and the vampire had his eyes closed and his mouth open, pleasure evident on his face. The title was “Holy Grail”. Nice painting. Nico set it aside and looked at the second one. It was a portrait of a young man with dark, curly hair and blue eyes, dressed in a nobleman’s attire.. with hairy hands that ended in long, sharp claws. “The Beast of Sigiswald”. Okay.. He looked at the last painting. It showed a blond young man hung by the neck from a tree, on top of a dark hill. His face was bloated and purple, his hair was hanging in sticky strings and his eyes were bulging, and staring directly at him.

It was warm, way too warm and too humid in there. Nico’s vision blurred and he started to choke. He tore desperately at his tie, threw it away. He was wheezing for breath. He was going to die. He tore off his shirt, but he was still not getting any air. He needed air. Breathe in, out, slowly. Calm, slow. That was it. The air was coming back to him. It was trickling back, teasing him with life. He breathed patiently, feasting on all morsels of air, until he was almost normal again.

He slumped back against a wall and stayed there a long while, just enjoying the fact that he was not looking like the man in the painting.

***

Total Posts: 2307 | Joined Aug. 2006 | Posted on: 4:04 am on Oct. 11, 2006 | Link to this post
Krss
admin



And since there isn't any better place for this.. here's the roof too.
Krss_42

Total Posts: 2307 | Joined Aug. 2006 | Posted on: 4:05 am on Oct. 11, 2006 | Link to this post
Krss
admin



The first reaction Santi had had to being locked in the freezer had been to gasp for air. That hadn’t been too beneficial. He was now inhaling all the smell of raw meat he’d never wanted to feel. If he ever got out of there, he’d become a vegetarian.

Of course he would get out of there.

He knew where the door was; he’d been almost there when it had been closed; by whom, he didn’t know, but he would find out. So he knew just where to bang his fists to create as much noise as possible. Was there no one in that side of the house?

He had stopped shivering, but that wasn’t reassuring at all. It was a sign that hypothermia approached. The shivering would return in about fifteen minutes, and the blood would be shunted to the lungs, heart, and brain, leaving him numb with cold and dehydrated. If he stayed in there for more than three hours, his arms would go so rigid he wouldn’t be able to bang on the door anymore. And then he’d die.

If he didn’t run out of air before.

He took a rest, trying not to sweat. He needed to conserve heat. He needed to think. The door should have been able to open from the inside. The risk of getting trapped in was too great otherwise. But he didn’t have a light, and there was too much squishy meat around to touch.

The hissing sound he had forgotten came again. Santi froze, straining to listen. Was anyone here in the freezer after all? Any thing? Living thing?

“.. Who’s there?” His voice sounded pathetic even to his own ears.

There was no answer, just another soft hiss.

And then he felt a pressure against his left leg. He gasped in shock as his mind started running, trying to figure out what that could be. He forced himself to stay calm, to be rational. He was the leader. He comforted others. He could comfort himself if he needed. But what was that on his leg?

The pressure distributed itself evenly in a circle, and he understood. It was a snake. It was the snake Almirena had seen in the projection room. Someone had thrown the snake inside the freezer and had locked him in with it. It was probably venomous. He was not sure about that, because he didn’t remember if venomous snakes were also constrictors. Not that this one was strong enough to suffocate him. It felt like a rather small snake; but it was still a snake. If it was venomous, he’d do better not to move and stimulate it.

The snake burrowed under the hem of his trouser leg and coiled around his bare ankle, making Santi shiver. He didn’t need hypothermia to shiver, it seemed. He would have to let the snake do what it wanted to do and then hopefully leave him alone. So he stayed perfectly still as the snake coiled even tighter and started to slither up towards his thigh, hissing from time to time.

When the thing arrived above his knee, tickling the inside of his thigh with its delicate tongue, Santi decided he didn’t like the place it was heading. But what could he do about it? That was a good question. He attempted to recall even one thing about snakes, but his memory was failing him completely, and meanwhile that snake had to get out of there!

Suddenly choosing death to other sorts of bodily harm, Santi shook the snake off. It didn’t try to bite; it just slithered into the darkness. Maybe it was disappointed. Anyway, he didn’t have time to tend to the feelings of a snake, so he resumed his banging on the door.

After ten minutes of listening if the snake was coming back and if anyone in the world outside was hearing him, Santi fell forward, blinded by a sudden light. Blinking tears away, he fell to the floor and reveled in the heat it gave forth. It had been the maid who had opened the door for him. She was now towering over him, making unintelligible sounds punctuated with her ladle, but Santi was so relieved he burst out laughing and couldn’t stop for at least five minutes.

***

Total Posts: 2307 | Joined Aug. 2006 | Posted on: 5:21 am on Oct. 11, 2006 | Link to this post
Krss
admin



Krss closed the door to Almirena’s bedroom behind her and collapsed into the small communal bathroom adjacent to it. She needed to wipe some cool water on her forehead right then, otherwise her head was sure to explode all over the pink tile. She’d managed to calm Almirena enough for her to fall asleep, but it’d been a nasty and very long affair. Almirena had blabbered on and on about how she’d seen the snake in the kitchen and thrown it into the freezer to get rid of it.

“So what, it’s just a snake!” Krss said aloud.

The mirror on the left wall was too small and too high for a bathroom mirror. Krss could only see her face in it, but what she could see made her curse. She had freaking violet circles under her eyes. She was sure they hadn’t been there before Almirena’s fit. She splashed her face liberally with the rusty water, drank two sips of it and went out of the bathroom.

Now what?

The prof had told them to explore. She didn’t have anything better to do, but she’d gone around the house a little, without much success. She didn’t even know what she was supposed to be looking for. She descended the stairs to the first floor and wandered idly about the great hall. Styles sure had ugly ancestors.

She went into the empty living room. She’d have to try out that pool table later, but for now she was drawn to the bookshelves that filled the wall between the living room and the projection room. There was a crapload of books in there, and she started looking at them from the leftmost side. The first five titles she saw were in ancient Chinese, or what-the-hell-ever. She didn’t want to die of boredom; maybe she’d catch a movie. On the way to the projection room, however, a series of smaller books stood out like a sore thumb. She approached for a better look. Anita Blake, huh??

She had just finished the first one, Guilty Pleasures, and had liked it a whole lot. She’d heard the series became porn later on, and she was looking forward to it. Seemed Styles had the complete collection. The next one was The Laughing Corpse, and Krss thought about leafing through it, maybe settling with it on the couch to kill the day.

The book wouldn’t come out. Krss pulled at it harder, but instead of what she had intended, the bookcase slowly creaked open.

A secret passage!!

Excitement rose in Krss’ throat as she looked around to see if she was alone and then cautiously entered the dark opening. The light that came from the crack in the wall behind her revealed a large rectangular hallway, with dark walls everywhere except the one on the right, which was whitish. She realized she had emerged in the space of the projection room behind the screen.

Now why would anyone go to so much trouble to hide this?

The hall was completely empty. She walked over it to and fro a few times just to make sure. Clean as a whistle. She was getting more puzzled by the second, and then at one sharp turn she noticed a small region that was brighter than the rest of the screen. She approached, and realized that the region was in fact a hole. A pretty large hole..

A hole large enough for a snake to go through.

Someone had been there last night. Someone had waited, listening to the movie, and had let the snake out of the screen at the appropriate moment. Someone who had planted the movie in the projector in the first place. Someone who was obviously very familiar with the house.

That eliminated all the guests. And that left.. the butler and the maid. Any of them could have done it. But why would they do such a thing?

Lost in thought, Krss noticed too late that the hole in the projection screen had lit up. As the significance of that dawned on her, both her ears exploded with pain and the floor hurried up to meet her.

***


Total Posts: 2307 | Joined Aug. 2006 | Posted on: 1:48 am on Oct. 12, 2006 | Link to this post
Krss
admin



Tsolaelia gripped the small brass key tightly in her right fist as she descended the stairs to the basement. She’d found the key on her nightstand after breakfast, and she was sure that one of Styles’ servants had placed it there, maybe on Styles’ orders. Most likely on his orders. That meant Styles was favoring her. And that meant she needed to find a locked door that this key fit.

So she’d gone through the entire house with it, trying it out, but it hadn’t fit anything so far. For such a large manor, not many things were locked. Maybe she’d have more luck with the basement. She threw open the light switch and turned right, entering the cellar.

What was that smell..?

Tsolaelia stopped right before stepping into a large puddle of what looked and smelled like vomit. Her throat constricted in sympathy. She hoped whoever had produced that was okay by now. She circled it carefully and noticed in the very back of the cellar a large wooden shed. She rushed to it; it was locked.

Miracle of miracles! The key fit in the lock.

She didn’t know what she had expected to find there, but surely not something as mundane as gardening tools. With a groan of disappointment, she surveyed the inside of the shed, which contained a pitchfork, a small sharp axe, some shovels, a pair of large scissors and a lot of rubber shoes and slippers.

She sighed and tried to gather herself enough to think about the next step.

***

Total Posts: 2307 | Joined Aug. 2006 | Posted on: 2:15 am on Oct. 12, 2006 | Link to this post
Krss
admin



gabnic was pacing wildly before the door to Krss’ bedroom, trying to calm his nerves, when Santi climbed the stairs and came to him. He looked like hell, and smelled weird, but gabnic was not about to ask what had happened. Seeing Krss’ twisted, unconscious face had been enough for one day, thank you very much.

Santi raised an eyebrow. “What is happening here?”

“Gijs is in there with Krss. She fainted behind the projection screen.”

Santi raised the second eyebrow.

“She found a secret passage behind the bookcase.. Seems one of the Anita Blake books opened it.”

“No one but her would have touched that..” mused Santi aloud.

“And then Marion went and put on a movie. Krss passed out from the noise. She’s phobic about it, but I think any normal person’s ears would hurt like crazy at that noise.”

“And Gijs found her?”

“Yes. We both carried her here. He..” gabnic hesitated; he wasn’t sure Santi was ready to hear that.  After two seconds, he continued, “He asked to be left alone with her.”

Santi’s brow furrowed instantly, and gabnic regretted saying it. But should he have lied? Santi would’ve discovered it on his own anyway. He gave him what he hoped was an understanding look. Santi looked away. He needed a change of subject, like now. He blurted the first thing that came to his mind.

“She’s taking injections with Estradiol.”

“Hmm?” asked Santi, obviously still lost in his rejected world.

“Estradiol. I saw it earlier when..” gabnic felt his face grow hot. “.. when I searched her room. Maybe it’ll give you a clue about how to treat her.” He looked at Santi and was shocked to see a grin slowly spreading on his face.

“Are you positive it was Estradiol?” he asked.

gabnic nodded. “What’s so good about it?”

Santi chuckled. “Estradiol is a female hormone.”

“And..?” gabnic was drawing a blank.

“It is used in hormone replacement therapy for transgender and transsexual people.”

“Transsexual? You mean like in Rocky Horror? Oh..” gabnic had suddenly seen what he was getting at.

“Like in women who used to be men,” Santi nodded, and gabnic decided he seemed way too happy about this.

“Do you think Gijs knows?” he asked, with an uncertain look towards the closed bedroom.

“If he doesn’t find out while he is alone with.. um, her, I will tell him personally when he comes out.” Santi suppressed another chuckle, and gabnic sighed. Things had just gotten a bit more complicated.

***

Total Posts: 2307 | Joined Aug. 2006 | Posted on: 2:40 am on Oct. 12, 2006 | Link to this post
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Krss gave a little moan, frowned and opened her eyes slowly. They darted about the room for two seconds before focusing on Gijs’ face. Her lips spread in a happy smile. He squeezed her hand, his heart warming in response.

“Been here all along?” she asked, sleepily.

Gijs nodded. He wondered in passing why he felt so happy at the fact that she was alive; but he didn’t try to think about it too much. He would take it as it came.

“Mm.. Thank you.” Her eyes were wide open now, and had never left his face. He felt himself blush and looked down at their hands. That made him blush even harder.

“You.. okay?” he asked softly, so as not to hurt her ears.

“I am now. It was..” She closed her eyes for a moment. “.. nasty.”

“I’m sure it was..” he whispered.

“It’s okay to talk, I’m not going to break,” she grinned.

“Sorry.” He turned his head towards the window. The storm was howling stronger than ever. If she wasn’t wincing at those noises, he was safe to speak. “For a moment there, I thought you’d died.”

“Oh. You found me..?”

He nodded.

“Well then.. I owe you one.. or a hundred.”

He just smiled at her. “No, you don’t. Anyone else would’ve done the same thing.”

“But it wasn’t anyone else, it was you.” She had a very serious look. He pretended to be interested in the nightstand. He was running out of places fast.

“Gijs..?”

“Mm?”

She had taken his hand. She. Had. Just. Taken. His. Hand. The pulse in his throat started running like crazy. He looked down to see her thumb brush a slow, tingly path over the back of his hand. He swallowed hard.

Her voice came as a whisper. “What would you like me to do?”

“Wha— What?” he sputtered, not very gracefully.

“To make it up to you,” she continued with a small smile.

“Well, um.. I’d.. I would.. I..” What the hell was going on with his tongue? And his brain? He looked at her in apology, his face burning. She raised herself slowly, unbearably slowly, so slowly he thought she’d never arrive. His blood was calling, pressing him towards her without being able to move an inch.

And then she was there, and time had gotten lost inside her eyes, and he was shivering long before her lips closed gently over his.

***

Total Posts: 2307 | Joined Aug. 2006 | Posted on: 3:24 am on Oct. 12, 2006 | Link to this post
Krss
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When Gijs came out of the room, all flushed and in disarray and with a huge grin on his face, Santi’s heart gripped for a split-second.  He was about to ruin this, and the reasons for it were dubious even to himself. But he was going to ruin this.

“Gijs.. we need to talk,” he said, taking his arm. gabnic moved a bit farther, like a good gentleman.

“Sure. About what?” asked Gijs. “Sorry for smelling of perfume.” He brushed a hand across his lips. “I won’t ever wash my face again,” he beamed, and blushed even more. Better have it out as soon as possible then.

“Krss is transgender,” Santi blurted out.

“Um.. What does that mean?” Gijs looked puzzled.

“It means.. she used to be a man.”

“Hey! Watch what you’re saying! What’s wrong with you? She’s a girl! I just.. and I didn’t notice..” Gijs’ eyes were wild. “Stop saying these things, man.”

“Then she is post-operation. But that doesn’t change the fact that she was born a man.”

“I don’t believe you. You’re just saying that to mess with my mind!”

“You know each other. You met in prison before. You said you would remember a lady like her. Think back.. think hard. Do you remember a man like her?”

“Of course not.. I mean.. Oh damn.. Damn, damn, damn. There was a man.. There was.. Green eyes, pale skin, long dark hair. My size. I saw him sometimes on fresh air breaks. He.. he liked me even then. Oh DAMN!” Gijs was pulling at his hair.

“Take it easy,” Santi whispered and attempted to put a hand on his shoulder.

Gijs threw it away. “How the hell can I take it easy?? I just messed around with a man. And I didn’t notice. I didn’t notice..!”

This was not going well at all, and Santi was responsible for it. “You do realize that she is the same person as she was a few minutes ago?”

“No, how can she be? She didn’t tell me.. Why didn’t she tell me?”

“Maybe because she thought you would react like this?”

“Why didn’t she tell me!” Gijs made for her door, but then withdrew his hand as if the handle had burnt him. “I can’t deal with this right now. I need to be alone. I need to.. go wash myself. For a few hours. I can’t deal with this now!” He ran into the bathroom next to Almirena’s bedroom and slammed the door behind him. Santi had started going after him when he felt a hand holding him back.

“Leave him be,” said gabnic. He gently made Santi sit down on the first step of the staircase, and sat down next to him. “You’d just confuse him more. He’ll come around.. eventually.”

Santi sighed and nodded. “You are right, of course..”

“Yes, I am. How was it for you?”

“How was what?”

“The first time you knew.”

“Difficult. What made matters worse was that he was wildly heterosexual. I tend to be attracted by the wrong men.” Santi chuckled.

“Maybe you’re just looking in the wrong place.”

“Maybe..” Santi suddenly had an overwhelming wish to see through walls. What could he be doing in there?

“He’ll be down for dinner, and I’m sure he’ll feel better about all this,” reassured gabnic. “Do you want some company until then?”

“Yes, I would appreciate it.” And he did appreciate it. As they descended the step towards the projection room, Santi wondered why he couldn’t have shared a cab with gabnic.

***

Total Posts: 2307 | Joined Aug. 2006 | Posted on: 10:46 pm on Oct. 12, 2006 | Link to this post
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Saturday Evening

The steak was stringy and odorless, but Marion kept munching on it, too captivated by the animated discussion going on at the other end of the table. Krss seemed very angry, and kept shouting in whispers at Santi for some reason. They were too far to make out the dialogue, but the lines she could hear from time to time all contained the word 'man'. Krss seemed to be obsessed with men; why wasn’t that surprising in a little trash like her? Marion looked into the mirror to verify her tasteful modern outfit and pretty hairdo. Only Gijs hadn’t come down for dinner; all the others had finished eating and were wandering around the dining room, keeping as far away from the argument as possible. Marion couldn’t blame them. Throwing hissy fits in front of everyone, how cheap.

She had had a long restful sleep that afternoon, and she’d almost forgotten her blood episodes. She put them onto the creepiness of the house. But tonight she’d win the house, and after that she’d throw away the paintings and lighten everything up with abstract art wallpaper to make it ready for fashion shows.

The unnerving butler came in, bowed, and waited as usual for everyone to give him attention.

“Ladies and gentlemen, for the after-meal entertainment Professor Styles has sent you through me a tape of the current most popular dances.”

Marion’s ears perked at the word ‘dance’. She quickly glanced towards gabnic, but he was with r, who was gesticulating and explaining something. No matter. He’d dance.

“What about the challenge, Walker?” asked Almirena.

“It will be announced to you in due time.”

“I don’t think dancing is appropriate..” started Santi.

“That’s nonsense. We’ll dance, ” decided Marion, standing up. “Put on the tape, Walker.”

The others fell silent. Good for them. Walker conformed, turning on the tape player and disappearing into the kitchen. Lively music flowed into the room, the only thing that was cheerful around there. Marion’s feet started tapping to the rhythm.

“Who wants to dance?” she asked, looking at gabnic. He looked away. Oh, he wouldn’t get out of this. She’d invite him herself. The others were standing around the table. Most of them looked upset. “People, we need to dance! What’s with all the long faces?” Just when she reached gabnic, the melody ended. She waited impatiently for the next one, but instead of music, a very distorted voice started speaking.

“Dear candidates, I have gathered you here for one purpose and one purpose only. To die.”

Marion’s heart leaped. What had that been??

“Did you all just hear.. ‘die’?” asked Krss. Marion winced. Can’t she shut up and listen? This was a bad joke, it had to be.

The tape droned on. “Yes, you have all heard it right. You are here to die. There is a killer among you.”

Everyone gasped, but no one said anything. They were all listening as if their life depended on it. And it did. Marion’s hands were struggling with each other, and she felt sweat and goosebumps break all over her body.

“All possible exits from the house are locked and will remain locked until the last one of you has died. You have no contact with the outside world and no families to miss you. None of you will see the light of Sunday morning.”

A heavy silence fell. Marion’s heart was doing a race against her breath.

“I told you he was going to kill us all. I told you. I told you!!” screamed Nico. “We’re going to die! There’s a killer here, and we’re all going to die!”

“Get a grip, man!” r slapped Nico viciously, and then slapped him again and again, grunting with the effort. gabnic threw himself between the two and gripped r’s wrists.

You get a grip. We all need to get a grip. This is part of the game, can’t you see?”

“What are you talking about?” asked Bearic. He was shivering visibly.

“This is the challenge! We have to get over this to pass.” gabnic stopped to gasp for air.

“One of you.. one of you is going to kill me! Maybe all of you!” screamed Nico again, and dashed out of the dining room. “I have to leave, I have to get out of here!”

Everyone followed him as if they couldn’t think of anything else better to do. Marion was among the first. She had forgotten she couldn’t run on high heels. Her breath came in loud and fast. Nico rushed to the door and started pulling at it desperately, whimpering something. He looked over his shoulder.

“Don’t you come any closer! Murderers! I’m not getting lynched by you!”

“Nico, calm down,” started Santi, trying to approach the lunatic. gabnic was closing in from the other side.

“Don’t come closer! I don’t want to die.. I don’t want to..”

Nico suddenly gripped his throat with his hand and his eyes flew wide open. He was staring right at Marion. His mouth started closing and opening with horrible choking sounds. Santi rushed to his side to give him some sort of care, but that seemed to make him worse. Marion could only watch in fascination while Nico’s eyes bulged, he turned purple, he clawed at the air helplessly, and then.. he just stopped. Everything stopped.

Santi checked his pulse, checked again, and turned towards them with a white face. Marion couldn’t hear the two words he said over her own screaming.

***


Total Posts: 2307 | Joined Aug. 2006 | Posted on: 12:34 am on Oct. 13, 2006 | Link to this post
Krss
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Almirena found herself staring stupidly and unbecomingly at the death scene. Marion was still screaming, and gabnic and Bearic were both trying to calm her down with no success. What a waste of worry. It was the ones who didn’t exteriorize their feelings that deserved the attention of the others. Men were so gullible.

She approached the body and knelt next to it, hitching her long burgundy dress so as not to damage it by touching the body. Her golden square belt buckle was making tricks of light on the dead man’s face. Santi was just finishing doing a series of disgusting things to the corpse, among which looking under his tongue, smelling his breath and putting his fingers down his throat.

“What’s the diagnosis, doctor?” asked Almirena.

Santi straightened himself on his knees and brushed his hair with the hand that had just been down Nico’s throat. Almirena shuddered.

“He didn’t choke on any physical object, as far as I can tell. He seemed to be in good health, without respiratory illnesses.. but we have only seen him for a day, so we cannot know for sure either way. If he wasn’t ill, the other likely hypothesis is poison.”

“Poison! What a vile word!” said Almirena.

“Vile, perhaps, but in the context of Styles’ message probable.”

“But how could that have happened?”

“He could have done it himself, or someone might have put something in his drink or food at dinner. Who was sitting next to him?” Santi realized what he was doing with his hand and started wiping it obsessively on his trousers.

“As I recall.. Tsolaelia, who fussed over him as usual, and Bearic. But after dinner everyone mingled.”

“What you are saying is it could have been anyone.”

Almirena nodded.

“gabnic?” shouted Santi. “Could you please check if Nico’s food or drink are in the dining room?”

“Sure, I’ll be right back.” He was back after ten seconds. “The table’s been cleared. I think the butler did it.”

“Dead-end,” said Santi. “We cannot verify anything.”

“What’s going on over here?” came Gijs’ voice from behind. “Why are you guys.. Oh!” He rushed to kneel next to the body. “Is he..?”

Santi nodded. “Where have you been? You didn’t join us at dinner.”

“I had a hallucination in the bathroom. But.. what happened to him??”

“He choked. We believe it could have been poison. Hallucination?”

Almirena’s neck was hurting from looking from one to the other.

“Yes. The mirror winked at me. I slipped and fell, hit my head on the edge of the tub probably. Was knocked out until now.”

“How odd.. Do you also have a phobia of mirrors? Or bathrooms?”

“No..”

“Then it’s very strange because.. No matter. Are you all right now?” Santi seemed very concerned.

“That is a corpse you are standing over, young man,” said Almirena stiffly, “and you are worried about a bump on his head?”

Santi blushed, as he should have, and rose, helping Gijs to his feet. Almirena had to help herself. Santi cleared his throat and said, in a loud voice, “Everyone has to calm down. We will all gather around the dining table and discuss our situation.”

“What about him?” asked r. “Are you going to let him rot there?”

Marion whimpered.

“You are right.. Um.. Let’s move him into the freezer for now.”

***

Total Posts: 2307 | Joined Aug. 2006 | Posted on: 9:43 pm on Oct. 14, 2006 | Link to this post
Krss
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There was no fireplace in the dining room, and Tsolaelia wrapped her sweater tighter around herself, more as a self-comforting gesture than anything else. She didn’t have to look in the mirror to know her expression; everyone at the table wore the same scared mask, as if a killer with an axe was going to jump out of the table and start hacking. New shudders made her immediately hate the direction her thoughts had taken. She looked at Santi, who was seated at the head of the table as if he had been born there. He was a natural leader, and maybe this could make the difference whether they lived or died by morning.

Santi brought his hands together in front of his nose. “Nico has just died of what looks like poisoning.”

Tsolaelia winced; there were gasps from all around the table.

“Are you sure about that? Did he kill himself?” asked Gijs.

“No, and I don’t know,” replied Santi. He seemed the type of man who read everything twice before he signed it.

“He was kind of crazy,” said Bearic.

Tsolaelia sighed. “Crazy doesn’t equal suicidal,” she said. “Yes, in some cases it does. But his last words were that he didn’t want to die. That is not suicidal in any mental ward in this world.”

“So if he didn’t, who did him in?” asked r. His hand was shaking, and he was gripping a glass so hard that his knuckles were white.

“During dinner, the ones that stood on either side of him had access to his food. After dinner, everyone had access to his drink. Except Gijs, of course,” and Santi gave Gijs a look of.. sadness? Maybe she hadn’t read it right.

“I was on his side during dinner,” said Tsolaelia, “but I didn’t put anything in his food or his drink.”

“I was not trying to make an accusation. It was just a supposition,” said Santi.

“Nico’s pills,” said Krss, calmly. Tsolaelia had noticed she wasn’t sitting next to Gijs anymore, and they weren’t looking at each other. What could have happened between them?

“What do you mean by that?” asked Almirena.

“Maybe someone poisoned his pills. Remember they were stolen? Yes, we all thought he was imagining things, but.. he got poisoned! The poisoner put the stuff in them and put them back.”

“That is a good observation,” nodded Santi. “Finding the right moment to do the switch would have been tricky, but possible.”

“So.. who did it?” asked Bearic. “I know I didn’t.”

“The killer! From the message!” exclaimed Marion.

“What message?” asked Gijs. Had his eye just twitched..?

“A message by Styles played at dinner. In it, he basically said that we are all going to die, that we cannot exit the house, and that one of us is a killer,” specified Santi, as if he were holding a lecture.

“What??” shouted Gijs. “You are serious, aren’t you? Why would he do that?”

“I would not know.”

“The dude’s crazy,” said Bearic. “That’s why.” His face was very white, and he obviously had problems uttering words.

“Or it could be the second challenge,” said gabnic. “Like I said before,” he explained. “He said he’d announce the second challenge after dinner.. and he announced it.”

“And the challenge is.. who lives gets the house?” said r, mockingly.

“We cannot discount that possibility. But the message puzzles me..” Santi took a few seconds’ pause, rubbing his temples and looking as if his head had suddenly become too heavy for his neck. He raised his eyes. “I was saying.. Um..”

“The message puzzles you,” completed gabnic.

“Oh. yes. It told us there is a killer among us, and then that we would all die. Now why would we all die if one of us killed everyone else? Shouldn’t he survive at the end? Or she,” he added, looking apologetically at the ladies. That was one apology Tsolaelia didn’t want.

“That doesn’t make sense..” whispered Marion. “Unless..”

“Unless the killer isn’t one of ‘us’, literally. Then all of ‘us’ would die, and he would survive.”

“The butler!” exclaimed Krss, excited. “I’ve been suspecting the butler of putting that snake through the projection screen. Because he’s the only one deaf enough to be able to stay in there while a movie was playing.”

“Earplugs,” said Almirena.

“Okay, but still. Santi’s got a point. And if it’s the butler, the message makes sense,” said Krss with a not-very-pleasant look at Almirena.

“Or it could be one of us,” said gabnic. “In particular.. Krss.”

All of them looked at Krss, whose eyes became almost as large as Gijs’. “What the hell are you talking there?!” She recovered quickly and stood up with a menacing expression.

“Why did you keep a gun in your mattress?” said gabnic.

“How do you know about that?” sputtered Krss. “Who gave you permission to go through my stuff?”

“So you have brought a gun with you?” asked Santi.

She turned on Santi. “Yes, I did, for self-defense. Is that a crime?”

“How do you even have a gun?” asked Bearic. “It’s hard to get a license these days.”

Krss started saying something nasty, but then stopped, collected herself and looked at Santi with determination. “Okay. I used to be a cop.”

“A cop? Then what did you get into prison for?” It was the first time Gijs had addressed Krss that evening, and Tsolaelia noticed they were both blushing.

“I shot a rapist whom I’d caught redhanded.. so to speak.”

“Can that throw a cop behind bars?” asked r.

“I shot him after the trial. He’d been acquitted on some technicality. I’d seen him do it. I’d seen the look on his face.. I had to do it. He would’ve done it again.” She looked directly at Gijs as she spoke.

Gijs turned his face towards gabnic. “So what if..” There was a slight pause. “.. she has a gun? It doesn’t make her a killer.”

Krss shot him a look of relief and gratitude, which he didn’t catch.

“That is true. Incidentally, where is the gun now?” asked Santi.

“I have it,” said gabnic. “And I’m keeping it. I’m one of the sane ones here.”

“All right. In conclusion..” Santi paused again. Tsolaelia was tempted to ask what was wrong, but before she could, he continued, “Anyone in this house could be a killer, or there might not exist a killer and the message was meant to confuse us. Either way, keep your eyes open at all times, and we have to stay together. If we are all together, nothing can happen.”

There was a flash of blinding light, immediately followed by a giant cracking noise, as if the air was splitting around them. A huge wave hit Tsolaelia’s chest hard, making her ribcage vibrate and her teeth chatter.

And all the lights went off.

***


Total Posts: 2307 | Joined Aug. 2006 | Posted on: 11:23 pm on Oct. 14, 2006 | Link to this post
Krss
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Saturday Night

Someone screamed. Others were cursing. A new lightning illuminated the scene so quickly that Santi saw a snapshot of all the others, eyes wide, mouths open, hair standing on end. Like a horror painting, the image stayed with him in the darkness that followed.

He rose to his feet. “Is everyone all right?”

He could hear groans of pain or just fear from the darkness around. His eyes were beginning to adjust to the lack of light, and he saw shadows. Many shadows.

“Ghosts,” whispered Bearic’s voice. “Ghosts are coming out in the dark. The white ghost with large eyes..”

“Bearic..” said Santi in his most reassuring voice, even if something inside him was waiting to snap. “Ghosts aren’t real. There is no white ghost, be it with large or small eyes. All right? Now, everyone else?”  He waited until he got six mumbles out of them. “Where is Krss?”

“She fainted,” came Tsolaelia’s voice from somewhere near the display cases. “It’s not surprising. But I think she’s coming to.”

“Tend to her, please. Now everyone, be calm. It was just a lightning bolt that hit the house. It was to be expected, because it’s the highest point in quite a large area. The bolt affected the electrical circuits. We will need to fix them. Who will come with me?”

“What happened to ‘we should stick together’?” grumbled r from a corner.

“It’s dark. There is no way we can keep track of everyone, and we’d give the killer nine targets instead of just one.”

“I’ll come with you,” said gabnic.

“No. You need to stay here and take care of the others.” Santi considered his options. Bearic was afraid of the dark— no help at all there. r was almost insane with the lack of alcohol, and besides Santi suspected r of having something to do with the situation; the way he had been chosen as a candidate was suspicious in the least. Nico.. was dead. That left.. “Gijs?”

“Yes.. I could come, if you want.” His voice had come from where Krss was lying, but Santi had more important problems now.

“I would. That’s settled then. Gijs and I are going to the basement to repair the electricity. The rest of you must stay together at all costs. gabnic, you are in charge of keeping them safe.”

“Who made you the boss here?” shouted r.

“This is a life and death situation. There are no servants and bosses; only victims and survivors. Which one do you want to be?”

r didn’t reply.

“Does anyone else have a problem?” asked Santi.

No one replied.

“Thank you. Does anyone have a lighter or a box of matches?”

“I have a lighter,” said Gijs.

“I hadn’t thought you were a smoker..” said Santi.

“I keep it in case a lady needs a light. Makes connections, you know.” Gijs sounded embarrassed.

Santi tested the lighter. It illuminated a small sphere of dust around him. “This will do. Let’s go.”

Gijs followed him into the great hall. Santi had extinguished the lighter to conserve gas, and the only light they had was what the stormy night allowed to come in and what their own eyes picked up and amplified. Gijs was walking beside him, without saying anything. What was there to say? Santi could barely see where to place the next step, and he could feel all the house watching him. The house could see in the dark.

He could guess every uneven breath of his companion’s. Darkness closed in around them, pressing them together. The storm was hitting, cursing and moaning outside, but it was behind glass. There was no killer, there was no real world, and no Krss. There was only darkness, and  Santi and Gijs were the only people. Santi felt heat flow somewhere into the region of his stomach. His hand was reaching out slowly when, suddenly, Gijs gave a startled gasp and fell.

Santi knelt next to him. “What happened?”

“Just tripped. I’m okay.”

Santi helped him up. “The dark.. ”

“Yes?”

“We have to be careful not to hurt ourselves. I think..” He gulped. What was he saying?? But he didn’t care anymore. This could very well be the last night of his life; propriety be damned. “I think we should hold hands.”

“What..? Um.. If you say so..”

Gijs sounded worried, but Santi just took his hand. All sensory endings in his skin jolted signals through his body at once. He felt the need to rub his hand, but instead he strengthened his grip on Gijs’. For two bodies filled with electricity, and a very thin connection between them, the discharge was instantaneous, and there would be sparks. He closed his eyes and waited until the erratic waves in his chest slowed down.

“Santi..?”

“Mm.. yes?”

“The lights..”

“Oh. Right. Let’s go.”

They walked, holding hands, until they arrived at the stairs that went down to the basement.

“Are you ready?” asked Santi.

“No.. but let’s go anyway.”

Santi put an arm around Gijs’ shoulder and led him down into the darkness.

***


Total Posts: 2307 | Joined Aug. 2006 | Posted on: 2:31 am on Oct. 15, 2006 | Link to this post
Krss
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They had all gathered together under the brightest window of the dining room, which wasn’t saying much. Not that r cared. He was gripping one of the chairs in an effort to stop his hands from that damned shaking. His head was hurting like he’d dived into a pool with no water.

“Why are they taking so long?” asked Bearic. The kid wasn’t much more stable than him. They were both worried about the same thing after all— spirits.

“They’ve just been gone two minutes. We need to distract ourselves,” said gabnic.

“We should play a game,” suggested Tsolaelia.

r snorted. “Spin the bottle?”

“Yeah.. that would be distracting,” said Krss. There was a disapproving gasp from Almirena’s direction. Krss seemed not to have heard it. “But maybe we should wait until the others came back first..”

“No, let’s do it now.” r had realized it wasn’t such a bad idea. Anything that could wet his parched mouth even a little was good.

“Even if you did, because I am not taking part in such debauchery, you would not be able to see where the bottle had landed,” remarked Almirena.

“Then we’ll just have to kiss whoever we can grab first,” said r.

“There is a fireplace in the living room.” It was Marion. She was perched on the window sill like the queen of everything. “Maybe it has some matches. We could make a fire.”

gabnic’s shadow nodded. “Right.. We should all move into the living room.”

“What about the others?” asked Bearic.

“Once they fix the lights, they’ll find their way to us easily. Okay, folks, let’s go.”

There was no sign of anyone and anything in the huge hall. Somehow, the storm managed to get in a little light, which only made the house look darker. It was cold, everywhere. r felt cold sweat breaking on his neck and wiped himself with a sleeve. A scream was building in his throat like vomit, but he managed to hold it down.

“I need to go to the bathroom,” Marion said.

“Do you really have to?” asked gabnic.

“Yes. Right now. Do you want me to do it in front of all of you?”

“Okay, okay. We’ll wait here for you.”

“No, go. I might stay in there longer. Make a fire, I’ll see the light and I’ll be okay.”

“Are you going to see anything in the bathroom? It’s rather dark..” said Tsolaelia.

“The window will be enough.” Not waiting for any reply, Marion left the group and went inside the bathroom.

I wouldn’t want to be her right now.

“All right, let’s move into the living room,” said gabnic. They followed him like cattle, and if r could only hold still he’d tell him a thing or two. The new room was brighter than the hall, and r could see the fireplace immediately. He started searching around for matches on the mantelpiece, but he only found dust and splinters.

“Looks like it’s going to be groping in the dark after all,” r grinned.

***


Total Posts: 2307 | Joined Aug. 2006 | Posted on: 8:09 pm on Oct. 15, 2006 | Link to this post
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A recall of the first floor of Dread Hill House.

Total Posts: 2307 | Joined Aug. 2006 | Posted on: 8:13 pm on Oct. 15, 2006 | Link to this post
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