Chapter 1: Waking up- Time unknown
I woke up, to hear the humming of a great animal around me. My knee jerk reaction was simply to grab the alarm clock and rip it from the wire that allowed it to make its usual static sound. However, as I fumbled to grab it this time, I felt nothing but a textured plastic surface where a smooth, wooden one should be. Lifting my head up to investigate this, the sounds of the wailing stopped and, shaking my head out of the world it had been in just a few moments ago, found myself staring at the steering wheel of my old Mazda. I sat up, dazed, before I remember what had happened but a few hours ago.
It had been a simple trip, one without any activity except the incessant honking of a man behind me who insisted I was going too slowly, when I was in fact breaking the speed limit. I had been driving all day and most of the previous night, with no real stop except for a gas station about fifty miles back, and was just considering going to sleep as the sun went down around six o’clock, when a small explosion was to prevent me for getting any rest for the next hour.
The small explosion had been one of my tires popping. It had woke me up from my daze and caused me to skid to one side. Luckily, the road was empty at that point and I was able to expertly take control of the vehicle and dump it on the side of the road.
A quick look revealed nothing of any interest except that which was already obvious. The tire had blown, something that I had guessed was going to happen in the nearby future after the front left one also went a few days prior. Unfortunately, the tires bursting a few days before one another caused a problem for a traveler like myself in the fact that I simply no longer had a spare to fix it and that I knew nobody nearby to help me with my problem. I inquired upon others as they passed me, but simply responded with various looks that implied they just couldn’t be arsed to stop.
I couldn’t remember anything after that, and so it becomes obvious that I must have passed out in the driver’s seat of my precious vehicle. She was old and I was so acquainted with her that I had even named her Sandy, after this girl, who had not so much got away as ran. Even though I knew it was about time to replace her, I could never bring myself to do so. Besides, I have very little money nowadays and probably couldn’t afford anything better anyway. Such was the life of a road warrior, as I had jokingly called myself, even though I was about fifteen years too old and far too many hairs bald. Still, it was a dream I had intended to fulfill since I was a teenager and with the problems I had been suffering in my life the past few years, keeping away from it all was just as good an excuse as any.
Snapping myself back to attention, I stifle a small yawn and stretch my arms, despite the confines of my vehicle. I reach for the glove compartment and pull out a standard thermos mug, which I hope to god is still full of warm coffee. I would hate to have to kill the next passer by just because I was thirsty. The liquid brown was indeed warm, and I had no problem in waking myself up quickly. As I finished up, I pulled myself out of my dear car and locked it, intending to walk down the road to the building that I could remember seeing about five miles back. The image was still blurry from my dream state but, considering the location, I figured it to be a gas station or diner of some sort. I set off at a mild pace.
I was quickly surprised to discover it to be much closer than I had remembered, and it was only around five hundred or so meters before I had come to an open entrance of sorts. It was a gate of regal design and clearly implied that whoever was to be found at the end of the stone pebble road was probably very rich and could afford to build somewhere in his own style. This type of locale seemed more along the lines of a place in Britain rather than America, and I became anxious as to who I might meet.
Reaching the gate, I observed a sign on the wall. It was a simple, metal plaque but had clearly been shined up to look as splendid as possible. It said on it:
Dr. Bruce Kent PhD
Please ring buzzer for access
I found myself laughing slightly at the strangely chosen name of the place. The place sounded like it was named after a sort of sarcastic joke. Without waiting, I pushed down on the buzzer for a moment, slightly worried that I might be calling too late. I was unaware of the current time, as my watch had decided to stop on me whilst I was asleep, but judging by the night sky, it had to be around eight or nine.
There was no answer for a few moments and I was worried that they may have turned off the intercom for the night, but just as I went to press it again, the speaker made a shuffling noise and I leaned closer to expect a voice. As it came, it said simply ‘come on in please sir. We’re expecting you.’ As the speaker turned itself off, I froze in bewilderment, unsure as to what mistake must have been made. Were they expecting someone else? Was this an automatic message? Or had they simply seen my car a few miles back through one of the windows? The last one seemed unlikely, as there was no house currently in sight. The thick trees and everglades seemed to cover the entire estate and all that could be seen besides was the small pebble lane that appeared to go half a mile down, out of sight.
I shrugged my shoulders as I decided what to do. It would seem pointless to press the buzzer again, as explaining the situation is made much more difficult when you cannot see who you are talking too, so I opted to head up the pebbled path. Something I began to regret to do immediately in the darkness. There were many shuffling sounds in the bushes. I assured myself they were probably small animals that roamed the grounds, but this wasn’t exactly enough for my nerves that were almost pushed to their limits when a small hedgehog came dashing out and ran across my path. I laughed at myself for my own foolish behavior and quickly stepped ahead, intending to reach my destination before something a lot bigger came out. The place was strangely misty too, as if the region was trying to hide something.
I came out from under the trees and walked upon a wooden bridge, big and sturdy enough to allow cars to pass over it. Walking over, I saw a small toy boat in the river with a small wooden concept of the grim reaper floating along it. The little model had been caught up in some marshes and couldn’t get any further along. I mused myself on it, thinking that even though it was a nice river ornament it had the wrong figure cast upon the boat.
Turning, I finally caught a glance the place that would hopefully provide me with some assistance on this night. The place was absolutely huge and resembled a manor of sorts. However, it again looked like it belonged in England more than it did in whatever state I had passed through today. The place was large, but built disproportionately so that it looked tall and thin. From here I couldn’t see how far along it was, but I assumed it must have been around sixty meters based on how the roof had been built. The walls were of brickwork that looked more Victorian than any modern day mansion and the roof had somehow maintain a stale look, showing much age when there should have been none to show. The place had clearly been custom made by whoever owned it. It boasted the feeling of old but betrayed small signs that it was newly made. The double-glazed windows were a big giveaway, as the window holes hadn’t been adjusted from anything prior, suggesting that they came at the same time the house did.
As I stepped off the bridge and headed for the many steps that led to the front entrance, I became aware of a man standing by the door. He was dressed respectively, wearing a formal suit but without a tie and the top button undone. He was wearing mainly beige, with a white shirt and black shoes. It seemed a strange mix of various styles. I had assumed him to be the owner, but I was to be quite surprised at what happened next.
“Hello.” He called to me in an American accent. Despite the country we were in it still surprised me. I was expecting a British accent with the surrounding scenery, he raised my hand to shake it as he introduced himself. “I am Samuel Puckson. Please to meet you. Feel free to call me Sam.”
“Samuel Puckson?” I said in confusion, ignoring his earlier command. “I thought the place belonged to a Dr. Kent?” He smiled at me, as if waiting to explain my confusion away for me.
“Ah, but it does.” He replied, almost jumping for joy for some reason. “I am but a guest as well, however, while I guess your reason for being here is about car troubles. Mine is of a far more sinister note.” I ignored his last sentence again as I focused upon what he had said before.
“How the fuck did you know I had car troubles?” I asked him in pure astonishment. I was half expecting a joke answer on his uncanny ability to read my mind, or to just admit that he guessed. The answer was far more refreshing.
“It is simple mate.” He stated, waving a finger at me. “Your appearance tells me all I need to know.” He pointed a finger to my creased, brown coat and my eyes followed. “First of all, your coat is ruffled. You’ve been snoozing at the wheel. Probably been driving far too late and dozed off before your head fell on the steering wheel, causing this little bump which you’ve probably not even noticed yet.” He turned his accusing finger to my head, which I could only guessed sported a small bruise of some kind. “Followed on from this, your breath has a distinct smell of coffee. Kind of stupid to be drinking coffee whilst driving, which either means you want to crash, or you’ve just woken up and had some morning java….just late at night.” He continued.
“Next, we have some small stains on the edge of your coats collar.” His fingers moved in turn to point out both of my arms, which had but a tiny trace of black on them. “Oil, I’ll bet. Not too much, enough to say that you don’t have major car troubles, but enough to say that you’ve just used some tools. Based on your thin but lean nature,” he said the last bit as if he was pulling away an insult, “as well as your clothes, I would say you are not an engineer of any sort. So it makes sense that you are only amatuerly fixing your car, so I would wager that you have blown a tire and are without a spare.” As he finished, I looked upon him with the face one would reserve for an angel were to show up in your bedroom one day and offer you life insurance.
“That’s amazing.” I stated, in deep admiration. “That’s fucking amazing. You’re like a detective. You just looked at me and figured out…”
“I must correct you there mister.” He said, pulling something out of his breast pocket. He displayed it to me for a split second, revealing a brass badge and an ID card. “I am a detective.” I looked on for several seconds, my expression not changing, before I replied with a simple ‘oh’. He laughed at this.
“I am not surprised you did not notice. I am not exactly dressed in my normal uniform.” He took this moment to knock on the door loudly. “I am, what you English would say, a plain clothes policemen. As to your unasked question as to why I am here tonight. It is for, as I said, a sinister reason. One in which, many questions are to be asked, and precious few will probably be answered. Regardless though, I will have the answers we desire at the end of this night. If you want, you may aid me. You might find it educational and I might find it amusing. But an innocent bystander who saw nothing is often a thousand times more effective in these situations than one who saw everything. You are clearly an innocent bystander in this whole ordeal and you have clearly no part in this except being at the wrong place at the wrong time.” He laughing almost mockingly as he said this, ”What do you say? Would you aid me on this endeavor.”
I looked at him for a moment, still unsure as to how to act, let alone respond. A part of me told myself, to turn one hundred and eighty degrees and run, regardless of the fact that it led straight for the river, to pull myself up and back into the real world. But the other half, as other halves always do, was too curious to let me go anywhere. It wanted to join up with this wizard of observation and track through a quest with unseen and untold peril and to do battle with whatever the fuck was going on. I found myself about to agree when Sam interrupted me.
“Ah, hush now. I hear the maid approaching. I ask that you do not inform them of your troubles for now. I will help you in all due time, but to tell them may cause them to handle your problem quickly and belt you out soon afterwards. If you are to assist me, it is best that you now say nothing.”
I did as he said, not because I wanted to come along or that I was unsure as to whether or yet I wanted to help him, but more because I felt that whatever incident had occurred was grievous to an extent that my troubles may seem trivial in comparison. I reassured myself that he was a man of the law and he would help me out in due course.
The door opened after what seemed an eternity and revealed an incredibly beautiful young lady. Her face was as small as it was cute and she was dressed in a very arousing maid’s outfit. Inside, I was sort of shocked that she was dressed in such an outfit, clearly as the result of a sick fetish of the owner of the manor. Outside however, I couldn’t help but stare for a moment, admiring how it fit her perfectly. She was pale and clearly concerned with something else to mind properly. She looked up timidly at the detective and asked him quietly to come in.
We both did so, and took a moment to marvel at the exquisite inside. The owner was clearly a fan of the colour black to say the least. The place didn’t look gothic, in fact it looked just as Victorian as the outside was. However, everywhere where I expected a mahogany wood finish, it had been painted one of the various shades of black. It gave the place an eerie feel, one similar to being in a doctor’s waiting room while you know something very suspicious is going on in the office. It looked normal but was practically screaming that there was something wrong, somewhere in this place. As well as something else, something familiar.
We were interrupted again by the entry of another person, who quickly dismissed the maid. It was clear by his actions that he had not wished her to answer the door, clearly due to the shocking way she was dressed but, for some reason, she had been too fast for him. He approached us, almost shyly. His demeanor appeared grand. He was dressed up like a true English gentleman, up to the point that he had a top hat upon his head that appeared so natural being there, that he had clearly forgotten to take it off. He also had a small eyepiece over his left pupil and a long white moustache. Despite this, he was clearly only thirty and brown hair could be seen under the black headpiece. It implied that he had dyed one or the other and it appeared to be the moustache.
“Hey.” He replied to our presence, indicating an American accent, that didn’t suit well with his Victorian appearance. “You must be the policemen we called?” He was asking me this clearly because I was dressed better than Samuel was, but as my new ally stepped forwards and held up his badge, the man turned to him.
“Yes, I’m afraid I am the detective you speak of.” He commented as he let the man inspect his badge. He took great interest in doing so, but it felt that he was doing it merely to make it look like he cared. He then lifted his the arm in which he held his bag and indicated in my direction. “This is my assistant.”
“Oh I see.” The man said laughing, before extending his arm and wishing to ignore his little error. “I’m Bruce Kent. I own Gentleman’s House. Sorry to have bothered you so late at night Inspector, but…” he seemed to stutter a bit, not sure what to say, “Well, it’s all necessary I guess.”
“Quite alright Bruce.” Sam replied, surprisingly formal for a first meeting as he shook back. “I’m afraid only we could come though. The department had quite a few calls tonight. It’s always the same, we get nothing for ages and then enough to stack us all up for the entire night.”
“Ah I see yes.” Dr. Bruce replied, for I could only assume this to be the man who name was on the plaque. “Well, come on in then. We’ll sit you down and we’ll go over the whole damn event.”
We moved into what could only be described as a drawing room. It felt the same as a place where the guests would crowd during a murder mystery game. Once again, this entire room was painted black at just about every opportunity it could find, from the doors to the cupboards and even any wooden parts to the furniture. The chairs were surprisingly green though and a glass coffee table contrasted just about the entire square mile that the manor’s area took up.
Inside the room were four people, all situated at different parts of the room. The first was a woman of around twenty-five years of age. She was blond hair and black skinned, which gave no doubts that she wasn’t a natural. She was dressed conservatively in a black business suit wearing glasses. She also had her hair pulled up at the moment, even so it was still long. She was currently scribbling away in a small notebook, but stopped when we entered the room and quickly hid it away.
Across from her was a man of around the same age. He had clearly been dressed up earlier, but now looked even looser than my new detective friend. He had pitch black hair and a tattoo of a dragon going down his neck, although I could only see the tail at this point, it was clearly Chinese. He was very muscular, but at the same time sported a large stomach. The man was asleep at the moment, probably sleeping off a meal I could still smell slightly. Whatever events had transpired clearly hadn’t affected him enough to keep him awake. He turned over as I looked at him, almost like he was hiding himself.
The third occupant of the room was standing by the window looking out. He glanced my way as we entered and showed me that he had green eyes and a full head of red hair. He had no blemishes on his face and would have maybe been considered handsome by the ladies were it not for his spectacularly large ears. They were well rounded and yet pointy at the top. Though they shouldn’t have been, they were clearly his most prominent feature. The man looked clearly concerned with the forth member of the room.
The forth member of the room was a complete contrast to the second member. He had bright blond hair and was rake thin. He appeared unusually pale and even his hair seemed unnaturally white. At this point he was wide-awake and had clearly been crying for some time. Even though he was probably crying at whatever event had happened earlier, it was clear that he was the nervous type anyway and he plainly jumped out of fright as we entered the room.
It had taken me but a moment to take in all their first impressions. It had been quite a habit I had picked up as a child and it seemed it might help me now if I was going to be the detective assistant in whatever was going on. I already had a clear feel for what was about to happen. It just appeared strange that they all had different expressions.
“Minna-sama.” The doctor called out unexpectedly in what appeared to be a foreign language, catching the attention of everybody who wasn’t asleep. They all turned fully at this point, to face us new arrivals. “The detective has shown up.” No one said a word to this poorly phrased greeting. It was understandable, considering the situation, whatever it was. It still felt like the doctor expected everyone to stand up and introduce him or herself.
“If you would like to take a seat sir.” He said politely, indicating a free sofa. We both fell upon it and I was quick to recognize my own fatigue as I did so. The noise seemed to stir the second occupant of the room, and he roused himself enough to stay focused on what was going on. As the strange doctor sat down himself, on a very large single seater, he kept his eyes fixated on the two of us, clearly as unsure as the rest of us as to what was to happen next. It was myself that took the next step, I leaned forward a little and looked hard at him.
“Excuse me?” I said simply, distracting his attention to whatever he was stuck on.
“Yes?” He replied simply enough.
“Something bad has happened, hasn’t it?” The man looked shocked and horrified at what I had said, he didn’t seem too offended, but it had clearly knocked him for a loop.
“You do know why you are here, don’t you?” He asked in total seriousness, unsure as to any other reason we were here. I quickly turned to my new companion and waited for him to answer, especially since I did have another reason to be here, and I found my own curiosity threatening to sallow me up in these events. The detective responded tactfully.
“We were informed of a disturbance at the manor. There were also a few problems with the line. Maybe you can tell us what’s gone on.” At this, we saw the blond haired man, who had previously been mourning something unknown, look up towards us, with a look of either pure fear or just as much hatred on his face.
“What’s gone on?” He almost screamed, if it hadn’t come out as a quiet rattle. “There’s been a murder, that’s what’s gone on. Mr. Mackingdale is dead.” The news threw us both back for a second. Even though, since entering, the entire house had been blaring out loudly to tell us that something along these lines had happened, it was only now confirmed. The urge to run away came strongly again as it occurred to me that maybe this was a bit too much of a task to aid in. the detective recovered a bit quicker than I did, and resumed a calm, almost not bothered look about the situation. In fact, he even smiled a little bit.
“Well, perhaps you better tell me what has happened then.” The inspector instructed. The wearied image of the man in front of us stuttered for a few moments, before collapsing upon himself completely. For a moment it looked like nothing was going to happen, and we would all be trapped in this awkward moment forever, but then the woman who had previously been scribbling away at her notes turned to us and motioned for us to listen.
“Perhaps it would be best if I explained for now.” She stated. “I have been here since pretty much the beginning. I can give you a step by step account of what has happened.” She showed her notes to us and for such a small pad it seemed quite comprehensive. Samuel smiled.
“Ah, I see you have been quite observant during all of this.” He pointed out as he grabbed her notes and started flicking through them. After a moment, she looked annoyed and just as quickly snatched them back. She kept a huge smile on her face, and it was clear that it was genuine.
“I know, it’s going to make a great story.” She said excitingly. The man who had broken down turned to her as if it was his line and became quickly angry.
“A story?” He shouted at her. “That’s all you care about. My boss….my mentor is dead. You were friends with him too, you know. How could you…” At this, the detective quickly took control, not wishing to escalate the situation into any arguments.
“Now now sir. We’ll d this by the book.” He stood up to help push the man back into his seat before turning back to the woman as he sat down. “I’ll listen to your account first. However, I just want a general account of tonights events. Then I’ll talk to each of you separately. That way, as you should know from any cop shows you may watch, you won’t change your stories or whatever.” He took a deep breath before pulling out his own notepad and pen from an inside pocket. Wetting the pen with his tongue, he waited for the attractive lady to start. “Now gorgeous. If you would, please tell me what’s happened.”
4 hours previously- 8:30
“I would prefer it if you didn’t refer to me like that again mister. I warn you that as a reporter I don’t like any cops in general. The only reason I’m talking to you now is because your help is unfortunately necessary. I only hope that I can prevent you from making a complete mess of things.”
To this comment, my newfound boss seemed delighted at what he had heard. He let a large smile appear on his face and appeared to wish to laugh. I could not blame him, as this man was clearly much smarter than any policeman I had met before, and seemed active and full of energy. He was someone I wish I could be more like. He said nothing back to the woman, although I disliked her superior tone from the start and would not have blamed him if he had gotten angry. After a short moment, she continued with her explanation.
“I suppose,” she began, “that it would be best to explain as to why we are all here. Although I cannot account for Bruce…I mean Dr. Kent’s own personal tastes about how he has designed this manor. The majority of us are here as a result of a competition of sorts. The competition was started by Mr. Roger Mackingdale, who is the one who has been killed tonight.”
“Roger Mackingdale?” Samuel muttered to himself, “that’s that famous author, right?”
“Yes,” the reporter said back, “It would be kinda weird if you didn’t know him. The man writes horror novels, focusing mainly in small events involving a few isolated people. He’s had success worldwide and has even had a few of his bestsellers turned into movies.”
“It would be clear to say then,” the detective inquired, “that for him to die in such a setting as this would probably not only be very suspicious but also an excellent press opportunity?” The woman looked back at him sternly, with no humor to return to him.
“It’s pretty obvious that there should be suspicion, Mr. Detective, as the man has been decapitated by an axe.”
“Holy fuck!” I said, surprised myself as the words came out of my mouth. Everybody who hadn’t been paying total attention quickly looked back to me. The story went on as I held my head in shame.
“Let me start from the beginning, and I reckon it’s best you don’t say anything until I have finished this time. Mr. Mackingdale was currently, how you say, between books like one would be between jobs, and was looking for inspiration as to what to write his next book about. His last book had been about a case where a young man murders his own father but then proceeds to forget the incident and try and find the killer, believing it not to be himself. It was said to be of such ridiculously high quality that he argued he didn’t have any more ideas left. Regardless his bosses argued for him to write another book, but no matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t find any inspiration to do so.”
“It was then when he came up with the idea for this competition. It was simple enough, but he got Dr. Kent here to agree to let him and some prizewinners stay over in this old mansion for a few nights, with the intents that the general spookiness of it would result in some inspiration. He got three prizewinners, two of which are here tonight. Mr. Evans here on the couch and Mr. Sterling by the window there.” She quickly indicated the man who had been sleeping and the ginger haired man. I wondered quickly for a moment that the other man might have been.
“The third man was a Mr. Jeremy, or ‘Jez’ as he insists on being called, Watkins. A teenager who has already had some success in the world of writing despite his age. Anyway, the winners had been decided, and the date was set for tonight. It was a weird idea, to say the least, but I think he invited some random people that he didn’t know it order to add some randomness to the whole affair. You know, people he had never met before and their take on the situation. Rather than write something new, he could write something that actually happened, and then just spice it up a bit. As a small personal favor to myself, I got Mr. Mackingdale to invite me along as well, in order to get an exclusive for the new book that he might be writing.”
“We all arrived at around six. I showed up first, shortly followed by Mr. Evans. Next Mr. Mackingdale showed up with his assistant Malcolm here.” She quickly indicated the nervous man next to her, who had been freaking out for some time now, since the beginning of this story. When we were all here, Dr. Kent, the owner showed up with his daughter, Alicia, to greet us. He was generally finding the whole event very amusing. Dr. Kent here isn’t a big fan of horror genre, but just thought the whole thing of trying to find something scary at this place funny. To try and keep things civilized, he invited us all to dinner at around half past. All the servants that he had at this place were here by then, preparing and cleaning. By the time dinner had been served there was only Emma left, who stayed around to clean up afterwards. He dismissed the rest, ‘in order to make the whole thing spooky’.”
“I see he succeeded more than he could possibly imagine.” Samuel said as he lay back into the couch with his eyes closed. I couldn’t’ exactly blame him for his relaxed attitude, this particular couch seemed to make all worries slip away.
“Yes well, dinner was probably where it had all started to go wrong. We had sat down at around half past six like I said, but it took another ten minutes before the food actually arrived. We just chatted amongst ourselves and got to know each other better a bit. Everything was going fine at this point, except at the time I guess Jeremy was being very quiet. He hadn’t said much and seemed to have something on his mind. We paid no attention to it at first, as you would. It wasn’t until the main course had arrived and Roger was talking about little bits and ideas he could use when he all of a sudden made a point to check if Jez was listening. Now, as I told you detective, Jez has had a previous book published about a year ago. However, like Mr. Mackingdale, he hasn’t published another since. He simply doesn’t really intend to, but Mr. Mackingdale, it seems, took it on as a personal quest, to help provide the boy with some inspiration as well.”
“This attempt…wasn’t exactly appreciated by Jez, who earlier had stated that he hadn’t even entered the competition, claiming that his mother had apparently done it for him. As Mr. Mackingdale finally made it clear to us all that he had in fact fixed the competition so that Jez would come to the mansion. That was when the kid lost it. It was mainly a mix of how the old man should ‘mind he own business’ and how it was his life and he should be the one to choose. To this, well, Mr. Mackingdale got angry in reply. It turns out he had really, really enjoyed reading Jez’s book, and became gutted when he heard that the boy wasn’t writing anything new. He got really emotional and started claiming that this whole trip was specifically for the boy to help him in his work and that he was being so ungrateful. Jez didn’t seem to care about this, and in my opinion was in fact being rather selfish, despite all that the man had done for him, even going so far as to pay for this whole trip and give him inspiration for his new book.”
“The arguing got worse between them, and the rest of us had no choice but to sit and watch. Even our host, Dr. Kent, found himself sitting down submissively as these two went about their insults. The maid stopped coming in after one time when Jez swung his hand at her, when she tried to serve him more food and it was clear that the whole thing had been a bad idea. The whole ordeal must have lasted until ten past seven, when Jez finally just stormed out of the room.”
“Clearly insulted, Mr. Mackingdale made it a point to try and continue the meal, and even though we tried to leave, he insisted and practically forced us to stay sitting down and finish our deserts. It would have been about half past again when we finally got out. The whole thing taking up too much of our time.”
“Afterwards, we all got on with separate things. I’m not sure what the others were thinking as we all split up. I understand that Mr. Evans went exploring and Mr. Sterling found himself hanging out with Ms. Kent, much to his own horror.” She grinned slightly at this point, and behind us I could tell that Mr. Sterling had squirmed a bit. “I myself had gone to contact my office to give a report. I basically told them that there didn’t seem like there was going to that much of a story unfortunately.”
“I would be proven wrong about twenty minutes later, when we all heard a scream coming from down below. It didn’t strike me as strange that the place didn’t have a basement, but what was quite amazing that we found out it had three basements. The scream was from the furthest one down and from what Dr. Kent said at the time, it was clearly his daughter Alicia who had the banshee’s wail that traveled across the entire manor. I dropped the phone on the spot and ran in the direction, where I met up with Dr. Kent and Malcolm.”
“It didn’t take too long to get to the third basement. Despite how far down it is, there is a separate entrance from the outside that let’s you go straight to the bottom basement, as well as stairs on the inside that connect all three floors.”
“Simply enough, we rushed down there, meeting Mr. Evans on the way down. When we arrived, I was shocked at what we had seen. There, in the midst of the basement, which was full of wine, lay Mr. Mackingdale in two pieces. It was clear that he had been decapitated in some manner, for there was the second half of his head just a few meters away, and it was clear to anyone that it had rolled slightly, regardless that it had been chopped off at the mouth. Jez was there as well, kneeling by the dead man, with his hands covered in blood and an evil scowl on his face. As we entered the room, he saw us and immediately made an attempt to retreat by running at us. Mr. Evans here, however, was able to quickly grab him and lay some whoop ass on him, knocking the bastard out.”
“However, he wasn’t the only other person down there. Alicia was as well, for she had gone down there for unknown reasons and apparently walked in on the whole gruesome thing. I don’t think she saw anything in particular, for the time in which she screamed and in which we got down there was very short and that filthy fucker had already been quick enough to hide the weapon that he had used to chop Mr. Mackingdale head clean off, save for his jaw bone.”
“You should probably move on, girl.” The detective quickly responded. “I think you’re making everybody feel ill.” This was true, and I myself found myself feeling far too queasy at this.
“Well, that’s pretty much near where everything finishes I guess. Emma, the maid, took Alicia to her room, where she’s been in a state of shock ever since and Mr. Evans and Dr. Kent threw Jez up in the room that had been assigned to him for that night, where they bolted the window and locked the door. The moron has the nerve to deny the whole thing even from the moment we found him with blood stained hands and an aggressive nature, as well as the immediate desire to run away. It is obvious that the boy is guilty detective, but knowing you lot and your need for evidence, you probably won’t find any real clues as to what happened here except for our eyewitness testimonials.”
“Well, let us hope that will be enough then.” The detective stated, as he held up his hand to make her stop talking. The room was pitched into silence for a few minutes as we all sat around and observed the detective’s expression. He was obviously through a line of thought where he was putting everything together and seeing if there were any important facts that were clearly being missed. After a moment, he became aware of us all staring at him and blushed slightly, which surprised me a great deal after seeing his casual attitude earlier. He clapped his hands and stood up, facing the owner.
“I would like you to prepare a room if you will with three chairs and a table.” He asked politely, confusing the doctor before turning to face us all. “Here’s what I am going to do now I have a basic picture of what’s been going on. I will go down and look at the crime scene now. I hope none of you have touched anything?” He cast an accusing look at all of them to which nobody really replied, indicating that no one had. “Good. After I have looked at that, I wish to question you all individually and get statements from everybody. That includes the three who are not here at the moment. I understand that the maid has stayed behind.”
“Yes she has.” Replied Dr. Kent. “She actually lives here with us, but she probably wouldn’t be able to say anything. Her quarters are in a whole other wing of the place. She didn’t even hear the screams at the time.”
“Well, her being separate may actually give more information than anybody who saw everything may be able to give.” The detective said dryly, as he looked to stare off into space for a moment. “What about the girl, your daughter?”
“Erm….” Dr. Kent stuttered poorly for a moment, “well, I’m not sure if she would be up to talking. I’ll see how she is.”
“You do that. It is not vital I speak to her now, but she is the main witness.” Samuel pointed out as the strangely shy doctor began to walk out of the room. I could see by the glance on his face that he was pleased to be getting out. It was hard to tell if the whole event was a serious matter, or nothing more than an inconvenience to him. As we began to leave to follow him, the detective quickly stopped before the woman who had just told us the events of the night.
“One more thing, actually two,” he began, “is there anyone else here that we are not aware of that might have seen anything?”
“Not that I am aware of,” she replied after a moment’s thought, “myself, Dr. Kent, his daughter, Malcolm, Mr. Evans, Mr. Sterling and the maid are the only ones that should be here. It’s best you ask the maid if anything, another servant might have stayed behind to keep her company that we might not know about.”
“Thank you for your help.” He said as he began to leave the room.
“And the other thing?” She blurted out, quickly stopping him in his tracks.
“What? Oh yes. Could I ask none of you to leave the manor area tonight? I know it should be obvious not to, if an emergency comes up for you. Make sure to check with me first.”
The occupants of the room made various responses to show that they agreed to this. From their grunts I could tell that they were annoyed at the prospect of having to spend a night in a place where a murder had taken place. Thinking logically, the majority of them probably didn’t actually have places to go. From what I had heard, since they were all competition winners, they could have come from halfway across the world. Even so, there wasn’t any place around here for miles, the closest piece of civilization that existed was the gas station about five miles down.
As we moved on o wherever the owner of the manor was going to situate us, I felt a small throbbing on my forehead. As it hit a beat that only a teenager could appreciate, the owner started to make small talk to us. Neither of us said anything special in response, as he was asking about what we thought of the place. The headache quickly subsided and I put it down to what was happening today catching up to me already.
Down one small flight of stairs and back up again and we were at our destination. With it’s freezers and ovens scattered around in a pattern only the staff could understand, I figured it to be the main kitchen. Dr. Kent quickly walked ahead of us and started clearly stuff off of a large table, before pulling up two chairs on either side of the table.
“I figure this would be the best place for you sir. All the other tables we have in this place are probably too big for you to interview anybody in the manner I see you do on the TV. There also won’t be that many distractions, through that door,” He said, indicating to a wooden frame to the north, “is a corridor that leads to the dining room. The door on the opposite side of the room leads to the freezer area and then there’s just the door we came though that’s by it. The stairs that lead to it are relatively creaky, so no one should be able to sneak up on you.”
“Thank you,” the detective said in reply, “this should do fine. Give me a moment to prepare a few things, then I’ll go down and inspect the body.” To this, the owner of the mansion became visibly stricken for a moment.
“You…you want to go down there…and check the body?” He asked. It became clear to me now that although the man acted casual, the murder of Mr. Mackingdale had scared him to a degree. He seemed to be rather heroically, holding in his own nerve, probably for the sake of the guests around him. “Yes…very well.” He finally replied, after he took control of his own gut again.
“Thank you once more. Sorry for putting you through all this trouble, but I feel it’s better to get the statements and examine the scene as soon as possible. It would take to long to get down to the village and do all this, seeing where we are.”
“No no not at all,” the doctor stuttered over. “It is we who are causing you the trouble sir, calling you all this way. Despite what Mrs. Brown says, I appreciate you being here. It provides a sort of order, to the whole thing, if you understand me.”
“I do,” the detective replied, with a growing pain in his face, “now if you’ll excuse me.” He left his last words to hang, giving the impression to Dr. Kent that he should leave. He quickly said his goodbyes and left. After the older man left, Samuel walked over to a chair that had been left by an oven and moved it closer to the table, before ushering me into it, then he fell down onto a chair by it and rudely rested his feet upon the table, bringing both hands up to his chin. He stayed in this position for a few moments, before finally turning to face me.
“What do you think of the whole situation then, my new found friend?”
I stared back at him for a flash, I had been thinking of a few things of my own, probably very similar to his own.
“Well, I would say it isn’t my place to make comments about such things…” I began to say slyly, as I hadn’t made that much of an idea in my head yet. He grunted in annoyance to this and looked away from me for a moment before turning back.
“Let’s just say it is, shall we? Completely off the record, what do you think of this whole incident?” I shuffled nervously as he forced the question and made myself look like I was thinking when my mind was in fact a complete blank.
“Well, I would say the answer was obvious,” I finally fumbled together, “the evidence seems to go against this boy, but then it is only what she has said so far. For all we know, she is the murderer.” To this, the detective slammed his hands on the table and showed me a large smile upon his face.
“Exactly the right answer, my dear compadre.” He said excitedly. “As a detective, one must always remember the necessity to know everything before thinking anything. It may be natural to make little theories up based on the incomplete evidence and they can help, but at the same time, we must make sure that we do not tend to make theories into facts, and in fact make theories from facts.”
This brain twister confused me for a moment and it clearly showed by the look of amusement that the detective gave me. He laughed loudly and stood up again.
“In other words, we need more information. Come, my dear Jacob. Let us go find where information rests, for I cannot make my case without leather and before I get my leather, I need to skin the cow. Let us go check out the body of poor Mr. Mackingdale.”
He quickly left the door at this point and I followed somewhat blindly. My head began to pulse again slightly and I shook it off. This time I put it down to the very badly timed metaphor of skinning a dead cow, which we were now just a few minutes away from doing so.
We didn’t get to see much of the manor as we went to investigate the body. After joining up with him again, Doctor Kent immediately led us back outside the building and around the back. As we moved around the side of the house, I was somewhat surprised to see it had darkened quite noticeably, up to the point where the good doctor now carried around a flashlight to help lead us.
Something else that struck me as odd was how the entire estate must have been completely invisible to the outside world, except perhaps by air. I could understand a man’s desire for seclusion, but this seemed a bit much. A ten-foot high line of bushes surrounded the area where we walked, and further kept the outside world at bay with outgrowths and even barbed wire at the top. I could only imagine what may lie on the other side, but a constant warning stated how no employee should make any attempt to cross the natural fence at any time.
We didn’t get to see the back of the manor as the entrance to the basement was just before it and I could see nothing further in the darkness. I found myself wishing to go further, but felt it would show a clear lack of priorities. Dr. Kent slowly lifted up the two large doors that fell into the basement area, before flicking on a switch that illuminated the whole area. I was extremely grateful that we could see as we walked down, for I knew one wrong step could lead to disaster to any one of us, and perhaps more if the person at the back fell first.
After a full minute and a half of walking downwards, we finally reached the wine cellar. It was strangely large for a sub, sub basement, consisting of several rooms all connecting through narrow corridors. With a guide, we were lucky enough not to have to face the prospect of getting lost in this dank, dark maze.
Yet another surprising thing that caught me as odd was the complete lack of wine that was in the wine cellar. There were many cabinets designed to hold them as well as racks and barrels and yet not a single drop of the liquid crimson could be seen. The barrels were open and empty and judging by the dust, there was no wine here in the first place, or at least not for a long time.
This didn’t seem to matter to our host, and he quickly led us to the location of the dead body. As we approached, an almost visible stench permuted the air and I instinctively went to grab my mouth and nose to try and hide them from the awful smell. On the floor there lay what must have been the body of this Mr. Mackingdale, to whom I have never heard of personally until this night. He lay there in a white shirt that had the top two buttons undone and black trousers and same colour socks. I could only assume it was a white shirt however, as it had been dyed red with the liquid that surrounded the corpse.
“Fuck!” I found the words leaving my body again, and both of the other men glanced towards me for a moment before looking back. Samuel crouched down to explore a little more as to what the body looked like. It was unfortunately hard to say what the man looked like, for the same reason as to why it was unfortunately easy to say that he was dead. His body, right up until the lower half of his mouth was about three feet away from the rest of his head. A clean slice separated both parts from the life that they had just a short while ago. He was an old man, about a few years older than myself, with a black, receding hairline and brown eyes that had been ripped wide open. We stared on for a moment, as we waited for the detective to do whatever it was he wished to do. He seemed to wait just as long as us, before turning around and observing the surrounding area.
There was nothing visible from what I could see, this area was just as similar as the other rooms we had past through already. It was gloomy and had a feeling of oldness that was further exhibited by the fact that no one cleaned in this place. It was amazing alone that it had lighting, although one exposed light bulb had already died. The only thing too special about the place was that it seemed to house the only bottle of wine in the whole place. It was behind a locked glass cabinet and was obviously special for some reason, for it shone in whatever light would refract against its bare surface. There were no labels on it and even the bottle was of an oddly unique design, which alone suggested that it was probably worth something. Other than this, there was nothing at all special about the room.
“Where’s the weapon?” Samuel asked without warning, clearly spooking the manor owner. He took a second to recompose himself before answering.
“We’re not sure. Little blighter must have hidden it.” I noted that whatever had hit him was probably heavy, as it had left a large mark on the rock below, indicating clearly where it had been struck..
“I see,” he said, only listening partly as he began looking over the body again. “And how did he get down here again?”
The owner thought about this for a moment before he answered. “Well, I’m not sure. I assume from the second basement. There’s a stairway separate from the one we came down from that connects the second basement to the third. When we rushed down, we came from outside and the light there wasn’t even on. Also, Mr. Sterling said he saw Alicia come down here through the second basement.”
“I see.” He replied once again, as he slowly turned over the corpse. The two of us looked a little worried as we watched, but he allowed it to drop gently back to where it was, before examining the floor underneath. “How dirty would you say it is down here Mr. Kent?”
The doctor looked on for a minute, not expecting such a question. He looked towards the floor, as if trying to figure an answer out from that, before clearly just guessing.
“Well I would say very. I rarely use this area, so I don’t have any of the cleaners look over it. When I was told of everybody coming, I had them clean the first basement up, in case they wanted to look over it, but left the other two. I suppose I should have known people would.”
“Well, I would say that it’s not too relevant for the moment. You said everybody had been down here didn’t you?”
“Er, yes, except for Mr. Sterling and Emma. We all would have been down here in the past few hours.”
“It doesn’t matter then.” The detective replied with a down tone in his voice. “I was hoping to check shoes to see who had been down here, but never mind.” He stood up again, and stretched a little. “There seems nothing too special here. What’s that over there?” He pointed to the glass cabinet where the single bottle of wine sat.
“Oh that.” The doctor replied with an inappropriately cheerful grin. “It’s nothing, just a secure investment thing. I borrow some money to a friend and he gives me this stupidly expensive bottle of wine in exchange. When he pays me back, he’ll get his bottle back.”
“I see,” the detective replied, clearly not except for the obvious fact that it was expensive. “Not very secure, is it?” He said, walking over to the glass cabinet.
“Actually sir, it is hooked up to the alarm system so if you wouldn’t touch it…”
“Very well.” The detective said, losing interest almost instantly. “I think I am done here. The dead haven’t done a very good job of telling their tales this night. Forensics can take care of the rest.”
“Ah well,” the doctor replied. “What can you expect? ‘The dead tell no tales’ after all. Is that not the saying?”
“Is it?” The detective replied, almost moodily, “I often find it to be the opposite. At least the dead tend to tell the truth, but no matter. Let us proceed back to the kitchen where we will conduct our interviews. I hope you wouldn’t mind if we talk to the young boy whom you said did this first?”
“I figured as much. Question the suspects before the witnesses and all that…” The owner said as he began to walk in the direction we had come.
“Actually, I figured I would do it the opposite way round, since the rest of you are more suspect than he is.” As he said, this, I felt both our mouths drop at the news. It was hard to tell if the man before us became angry or confused at this.
“You think…that this boy is innocent.” The thirty something man stuttered. “We saw him by the body with his hands covered in blood. May I ask what else you need?”
“A lot more, it seems.” The detective cockily replied, before turning away from him. “May I ask that we go through the second basement on the way up. There is something I wish to check.” The doctor forced himself to calm down and compiled to the request, quickly going ahead of us to open us the trapdoor leading down here. When he was out of earshot, the detective turned to me and asked.
“What do you think he looks like?” I looked back, confused for a moment.
“How do you mean?”
“His expression. Would you say he looked shocked, or calm?” At this strange request I found myself looking down to try and figure out the look in the dead man’s face. I instantly regretted it and had to hold back my own oral excretions at the sight of him. After another moment, I was able to look on, even so, it was near impossible due the way he had been separated from the rest of his body to tell his expression. His eyes were wide open, as I had already noted earlier, but I wasn’t that much of an expert to know whether or not that happened before or after the beheading. Overall, his face did look loose, but it was so loose that it was hanging off in a disgusting manner and I had to pulled myself away quickly before I did release anything from my mouth. My detective friend seemed to find this amusing. “No matter then. It’s hard for me to tell as well. Come on, we’ll head to the kitchen and perform the interviews.” Wiping my mouth instinctively, even though there was nothing there, I began to follow slightly behind when a thought struck me.
“Am I allowed to be there when you interview people?”
“Not really.” He replied. “But as long as you don’t say anything, it’ll be fine.” As pressing an issue as it was, the man did not seem that concerned. I was positive that I remember hearing a law about it, but I suppose that if no one knows, then there’s no problem.
Interview One: Jeremy ‘Jez” Watkins: 8:48
If anything, I was more than shocked at the boy’s age. He must have been around sixteen years of age and around five foot four when he wasn’t slouching. He had black hair with strange blue wisps coming out of it and various fashion accessories sticking out of his face. He looked quite horrible, and clearly not pleased with having to be here. Despite his appearance, he didn’t feel threatening. Quite the opposite in fact and, by the looks of things, he had been crying earlier, for his cheeks were still raw. He sniffed slightly as the detective held the seat out for him and fell down into it. Samuel slowly walked round the table to fall back into his own seat. As he did so, he got a clear look at the boy, and I assume he was reading his features for some kind of sign of falseness in the boy’s eyes, to see if the crying had been forced or genuine. After a moment, the detective leaned followed and rested both elbows on the table and asked in a calm, almost sympathetic voice.
“So, do you want to tell me what happened?”
“I didn’t do it.” The boy screamed, letting go of the water in his eyes, as if the detective’s words broke a dam that was hidden behind them. Samuel looked disgruntled at this and shook his hand at the boy.
“Yes, well that isn’t the question I asked you is it? Tell me what happened, preferably without the futile denying. It doesn’t exactly help.” The boy’s expression seemed almost to clear for a second, it was clear he wasn’t expecting a retort of this kind. Even so, it wasn’t enough to shake him out of his reverie. He sniffed loudly again, and began to scratch the back of his head.
“What’s the point?” He whimpered. “You won’t believe me.”
“Well, tell me what happened and we’ll find out if that’s true or not. Now I know this whole event is very upsetting but it won’t help to prove your innocence.”
“Innocence?” The boy spat out, almost engulfing us in his fury. “What innocence? What does innocence matter when everyone sees you next to a corpse? Even I don’t believe I’m innocent when I look at it from a rational view. I’m sitting by Mr. Mackingdale, my hands on his dead body, covered in blood, the heart that once beat so fiercely, now quieter than the pin. Then everyone rushes in and…”
“Actually,” the detective interrupted. “I would like you to start from the beginning. You can talk in that strange poetic tone if you want, but could you start with why you were here in the first place and the situations that led to this event?” I wouldn’t have been surprised if the young youth hit him at this point. For a policeman in a serious interview setting, Samuel was being very sarcastic. The boy seemed to make himself calm down for a moment, he took a deep breath and scratched the back of his head again before starting.
“If anything,” he said, looking the detective in the eye, “I am not sure why I came here myself. It was mainly a mix of not knowing what to do in my life at the moment and a pack of lies.” The detective shuffled in his chair, which I took to mean that he was a little confused.
“Explain.” He commanded lightly. The youth grunted and hid his face in his hands, rubbing them as he did so before looking back.
“You see, they probably told you upstairs but, a while ago, I wrote a book and it got released. At the time, there was a huge fuss over me and people thought I was great and I got a whole bunch of cash for writing it. The book was about a girl whose brother gets lost in a forest and she has to go find him, but she gets trapped in the forest and there’s a whole bunch of ghosts. I just wrote it for fun at the time, but my mom found it and got it published. I found the whole thing annoying, but it got me a ton of money like I said, so I was happy.”
“Anyway, after the fuss was over I just spent time hanging out with my mates, going to night clubs and gigs, just generally having fun. It was going good and I suppose it still is going good, if it weren’t for the publishing faggots that keep calling me. You see, at the time, I didn’t intend to write any more books. It was a one off thing for me. But everyone apparently loved it and wanted me to write a sequel, but I didn’t wanna and I haven’t.”
“But for some fucking stupid reason, everyone has taken this to mean I’m suffering from writer’s block, so they’re just waiting patiently and constantly ringing me, it was getting really annoying. The only ones who were badgering me were me mates.”
“Then a few days ago, I was just resting up from another hangover when my mom came in all excited like. She admitted she had entered me in for this competition, and that I had won. I got really annoyed at this, since I didn’t want to write another stupid book and flipped off at her. In the end, I stormed on up here just to shut her up and get away from her for a few days. When we got here I…”
“Can I stop you there?” The detective said loudly, to distract the boy out of his monologue. “I’m going to go ahead and assume that everything from the all arriving in your vehicles , looking around a little, followed by dinner is all true?” The boy thought at this for a moment.
“Er yeah, I guess so…”
“Good, then you can skip that part. Just move up until the argument with Mr. Mackingdale.”
“Oh god, that was so stupid when I think of it now. I mean, I had an argument with Roger Mackingdale, one of my favorite writers ever, do a favor to me, someone he had never met, just because he liked my book. It was just stupid.”
“It wasn’t so much an argument as a rant. I just started cussing him and calling him a fag for what he had done. I mean, he was intruding in my life about something I never wanted to fucking do again. I mean, why don’t they just make a movie out of it if it’s so god damn good?”
“Then he got angry at me and went on saying I was ungrateful and shit and I’m like so, don’t stick your nose in next time, the stupid pig. I then just left and went to the room that girl had showed me earlier for me to stay in and stayed on the bed, intending to go home in the morning.”
“I assume you stayed there for a while?” The detective asked again. The boy simply nodded this time and waited for the man to quickly scribble down some notes. He reread it quickly and made a loud breath before looking at the boy again. “And so where were you when the murder occurred.”
“Well you see, I spent a long time in my room, just thinking things over. I reflected on everything you know, and I started to realize what an ass I was being. Just thinking about it still gets me angry, but at the same time, the guy held this entire adventure just for me, and I spat in his face. I eventually decided to apologize to him, so I went to find him.”
“And you headed for the basement?”
“Well not at first. You see, I didn’t know where it was. So I went looking for somebody to tell me. It was weird and I didn’t know anybody here so I wasn’t sure what to do. I ended up meeting with these cute girls who were a few years younger than me…hey that’s a point, how is they?”
“Who?” The detective asked, breaking out of his listening mode.
“The girls I was with. I didn’t see one of them at dinner, but I think they were both the daughters of the guy that owns this place.”
“Oh, the daughter and the maid. The daughter’s in shock I’m afraid. I haven’t seen her yet, but I’m told she’s resting in her room and apparently unable to speak.”
“Oh, but what about the little girl?”
“Yeah, she was way too young to be the maid.”
“I haven’t been told of a little girl, perhaps she was one of the daughters friends.”
“Oh…that’s weird, they could both tell you I’m innocent. They were with me when I found his body.”
“You found his body. So you weren’t there when he was killed?”
“No, like I said, I met these two girls and the older one said she had heard he went down to the third basement. The little girl said nothing and I think she was shy. We went down there anyway and saw the guy just lying there on the floor. I rushed over to him to see if he was okay, but…well it was quite clear that he was fucking dead weren’t it. One of the girls then screamed when she saw the body, I think it was the older one. As I get to him I see this guy disappearing into the shadows.”
“Another man was down there with you?”
“Yeah, I saw him just walking away. I didn’t get a good look at him but I chased him, however, he just disappeared. I came back to check the dead fucker and that’s when everyone ran in on me. When I saw them, I knew what it would look like and tried to get away, but they caught me and threw me in that room, locked it up and left me until you came. That’s about it all.”
“I see.” The detective mused as he went over his notes one last time. “Thank you, you may go now.”
“What, I can just leave?” The boy looked as shocked as I probably was, but then the Samuel realized what he had said and quickly correctly.
“Oh, clearly you can’t leave, mainly because you don’t have anywhere nearby to stay. Just rest up in your room. The other guests are probably going to be insistence you get locked up in there in the meantime, so you might as well just sit in there patiently.” The boy continued looking shocked before being overcome with annoyance. Resigning himself to his fate, he stood up, said thank you pointlessly and quickly left, slamming the door behind him. As he did, there was a small fuss outside the door as the boy shouted to insist he was heading back to his room. Samuel quickly scribbled down a few more notes before turning to me.
“Nice boy I thought.” The man said as he rearranged his chair to face me. “What did you think?”
“Well, I probably shouldn’t’ say.” I replied. “I don’ really like goths. We had a few back home and they were far too loud at night.”
“Well, cast your petty biases out of the window and tell me what you think to his view of events.” I answered quickly this time, as compared to my last, being quiet all this time had allowed me to make my own set of notes about the situation.
“Well, it seems to me to be a pack of poorly constructed lies coupled with a sob story. He claims people are forcing him along a certain path whereas he wants to follow his childhood. His story goes along the reporter’s lines but cuts off to make it look like he’s a victim here. Then there’s the convenient forgiveness that he never got time to grant, a reliance on a witness that he pretends not to know the condition about, another witness that probably doesn’t exist as well as a mysterious stranger that, no doubt, he blames everything on.”
“Yes, I can understand why he says that even in his eyes he appears guilty. He is not though. Despite the evidence he gives against himself.” I looked on astonished at this claim. The answer seemed obvious to me.
“How on earth can you say that?” I asked him, truly wishing to know. “All the answers are stacked up against him.”
“And yet all the standing questions remain to cast doubt. For example, where is the murder weapon? The man was decapitated, you cannot do that without a large, sharp object. Yet we saw no axe nor no blade of any kind.”
“Well, maybe he hid it.” I stated clearly. The mansion was huge, to store it somewhere quickly seemed an obvious answer.
“So, if we look at it logically from your point of view.” Samuel started. “Mr. Watkins came down into the third basement to find Mr. Mackingdale. He decapitated Mr. Mackingdale and then went to hide the axe. After this, he came back and dipped his hands in the man’s blood.” He left the sentence hanging and grinned at me slightly, which showed sarcasm that I wasn’t entirely expecting from an American. The statement made me think of another question as my retort.
“What makes you think it was an axe? It could have just as easily been a sword.” I expected to have finally made him trip, but he just smiled back to me.
“Simple, the mark in the ground. It’s unlikely it could have been a sword, since the blow was heavy and a sword would have probably shattered. Also there was one clear blow, a blade of any other sort would have had to hack, but a axe would go through it like firewood.”
“I see.” More surprised at my own stupidity than anything else.
“However it opens up another question. Why was Mr. Mackingdale lying on the ground when he got killed?’
“What makes you think he was lying on the ground?” I asked confused.
“There was a clear axe on the ground by the axe strike, as I just said. To have a head removed in such a manner would require the man to be laying horizontally on the floor before the axe struck.”
“That’s a good point.” I replied, amazed at how simple it should have been to notice the fact. “Perhaps he was knocked out first.”
“No, I saw no other wounds. He was clearly doing it of his own free will. Bah, no matter. We will get ahead of ourselves at this rate. The boy’s story only provides us a few facts. He is innocent, since the way he spoke shows his innocence. Concise about the details after he reflected on them but when he has no chance to he speaks fast. It indicates that he was worriedly telling the truth and was upset about the situation.”
I looked on worryingly at this assumption. To me, it didn’t seem enough, to cast him off as innocent. I always thought myself good when able to tell if someone is telling the truth and, although I couldn’t directly find any contradiction, the way he told his story, to me, said it all. However, the detective seemed convinced that the boy was not guilty. Although the man had done a brilliant job earlier of being able to guess why I had came to the mansion, I was beginning to have my doubts on how good a detective he was. As if he was reading my mind, he began to laugh again.
“Do not worry my friend. It will all become clear in time. All we do is wait for the contradictions in people’s storylines. The boy may appear guilty for the moment, but I ask you to keep in mind a logical view as you put together your assumptions and realize how stupid the whole thing would be if he was guilty. For now, let us file it away and get the next person to ask silly little questions at. I believe Ms. Kent should be next, if that is possible.”
Interview 2: Dr. Kent: 9:12
Unfortunately, it was not possible for the girl to speak yet, and she had been placed in bed while she overcame the shock of, if Mr. Watkins was to be believed, seeing the dead body of the writer. Instead, the girl’s father had come to see us instead. He sat down on the chair writhing nervously as he did so. The detective looked at him bewildered.
“What’s up, my friend?” He asked concerned. “You look like the world will implode if you don’t speak.” The man stuttered to himself for a moment, before taking off his hat and playing with it. The man finally looked hard at the detective before mumbling.
“Do you believe in ghosts detective?” The detective sat back in shock at this strange question, something that the doctor immediately picked up on and went to sound up. “I’m sorry, it was a stupid question. You probably have many questions to ask my guests tonight and don’t have time to waste with me.” He went to leave the room, but Samuel called out to the man before he could.
“I can honestly say that I don’t know.” He replied to the previous question, causing the man to stop in his tracks. “As a detective, I pride myself on keeping things logical and most men of logic would probably say that ghosts don’t exist. However, in my view, there isn’t enough proof to say either way. Ghosts may exist, but they just as clearly may not. It is currently not my place to say.” The owner of the house looked on unsure, the detective began to smile lightly. “If you like,” he stated, “you may tell me what you seem so desperate to. It may actually help convince me one way or another.”
The doctor paused for a second and looked like he was going to continue to leave for a moment. He paused in step one last time and rushed back to the chair. He leaned across the table and looked at the detective head on.
“I think I may have just seen a ghost.” He said simply, a tremble in his voice as he did so.
“I figured you were going to say that.” The detective replied sarcastically, but still with a manner of politeness to him. “Tell me as much as you feel you should.”
“Well, it was in my daughter’s room. We had taken her up there to rest while she got over her shock. It was just a few minutes ago while you were interviewing that boy. It was just her and me in the room. I was sitting besides the bed where she lay, when I noticed a third person in the room. A young girl, just standing in the middle of the room doing nothing, but the thing is,” the man seemed to break down for a second as he forced the words out, “she had the same expression as poor Alicia did.” The man tried to say more, but his voice became heavy with the anguish this event had obviously caused him. Despite his pain, the detective seemed unaware of it and asked.
“Then what happened?” The man’s fear seemed to hold for a moment as he looked back at the man on the other side of the table.
“Well…er…I can’t say.” He eventually replied. “Linda came into the room then, and I just left straight with her. I took a glance back and the girl was still there, except her head had moved, with that same horrifying expression on it, looking directly at me.”
“Calm down.” The detective ordered sternly, as if annoyed at the man’s pain. At this, the doctor tried to hold in his sobbing but broke down again a second later. The detective sighed and looked at me with despair.
“I can’t have my host being in this state.” He complained. “I’ll lose my focus. How about you recite your version of events tonight. It’ll probably help you calm down.” The professional on the other side of the table made himself breath heavily for a few moments.
“Yes…yes I suppose that would help, and I have to give my statement anyway. Okay…yes. Where shall I begin?”
“Well,” the detective said, “I suppose it would be fruitless to ask you to recite the dinner event. Just tell me what you were doing at the time of the murder, starting from sometime after your little dinner.”
“Hhhmmm okay…yes.” The doctor began, still a little jittery. “Well, I suppose after the dinner, me and Mr. Mackingdale went over to the drawing room. He still seemed a bit upset about the whole event with the boy, but was generally keeping his calm in order not to upset anybody. We sat down, with some cigars, which I remember him saying he had never had one before. You could tell too, since he was coughing up a stir. Anyway, he began talking about the ideas he was getting for his new book from the place. He was talking about the lobby and the dining hall and the seclusion of the place and how the only thing that was really needed was some, even more isolated place, in which something terrible might happen. I found it all amusing at the time, since it didn’t even occur to me that something like this was only an hour away from happening. He spoke about how the whole dark imagery may have to be ignored, since that may make the story a bit too corny, and he had somehow gotten it into his head that he was going to involve a horse somehow. One that would never be seen. The way he was talking about it all, I would never guess that he was a horror writer, the way he joked about it. I just guess that was his way of thinking out his stories… Sorry. Am I going a little off?”
“I suppose,” the detective replied, “but I suppose it would be rude to the dead man if I made you stop.”
“I’ll move on anyway, shall I? We kept on talking, I spoke about the history of the manor for a short while. Well to be honest, there is no real history as the place is but a four decades old. The only history it may have is it’s other owners, and the strange tastes that they had, that you can still see around you now. But I thought it would be good to humor him. He seemed to buy it, as I can be quite crafty when it comes to telling such stories. After this, he asked if he could wander around by himself, as he wanted to look around to see if he could find anything particularly ‘spooky’. I suggested to him the first basement. It was only a joke at the time, as the first basement is nothing more than an oversized broom cupboard for the cleaning staff. Even so, he seemed eager to head in that direction.”
“I suppose for a writer of his caliber,” the detective interjected, “a scene as innocent as that is more effective as a horror scene. Or maybe he figured out by the way you said it, that there was more than one mysterious basement.”
“Perhaps.” The doctor agreed, with a worrying tone as it began to dawn upon him how much he was related to the man’s death. “That’s it, I’m afraid, although you’ve helped my nerves somewhat. After he left, I ended up speaking to Malcolm until we heard my daughter screaming. We rushed down there and found that ungrateful jackass, kneeling in the dead man’s blood. I just can’t believe some young people nowadays. You think he would be sophisticated, having written a novel, but he was just as bad as any common thug.”
“Well, your common thug is often just an innocent in the crossfire. To be honest with you doctor, it is often people of your status that do the real crimes in this society.” The doctor looked clearly offended by this, it was almost like it was an accusation. Realizing what he had said, Samuel quickly took it back. “Never mind, is that all you have to tell me?” The doctor cooled down slightly, his emotions seemingly canceling each other out, he shook his head for a split second before quickly pointing his finger up to the sky.
“Oh, one more thing. Before he left, the cigar had really killed him off it seemed, as he was practically having a fit. The man excused himself to go to the bathroom, for a glass of water I guess. I guess it’s nothing all in all, it’s just that would be the last time I would see him.” The man reflected on this for a moment, before the detective waved him back to his reality.
“Sorry, but can I just confirm something?’ He asked curiously. “Did you actually know Mr. Mackingdale before tonight?” The doctor stuttered again for a moment.
“Not directly no.” the man answered. “I am more associated with his assistant, Malcolm, whose father was a patient of mine for some years. Yes, he came to me, asking about this little excursion that the writer wanted to do. There didn’t seem to be any harm to it, so I agreed. If only I had known.” The man fell into his own mind for a moment. Samuel let him this time, as he quickly wrote down the rest of his notes.
“Thank you sir, you can go now.” The detective said emotionless, baring giving the man a glance in such a way that the doctor wasn’t quite sure if he meant him or not, despite being the only person in the room beside myself.
“Is that it?” The doctor asked, standing up slightly.
“Yes, you may go.” The detective repeated, clearly annoyed.
“Do you want me to bring someone else in?” The doctor asked again, trying to maintain a certain level of usefulness.
“You can do. It doesn’t matter who.” The detective stated, as he started writing more notes. “Oh, just not Ms. Trask. I’ve pretty much had her statement at the beginning. Also, give me a few minutes before you do. I need to confer with myself.”
“Very well.” The doctor ushered to leave and held himself back as he reached the door. “Oh, and it’s Mrs. Trask. She’s married.”
The detective didn’t respond to this, as he was still writing. He didn’t seem to care much either as the man left. We sat in silence for a few moments, the air having more conversations with itself than we were with each other. The man’s story didn’t seem that pointful to me, and I found it a shame that it wasn’t as complex as the boy’s from earlier. The earlier story st my mind ablaze with thought as I tried to figure out the inconsistencies in the boy’s story. It was easier when you know who’s the guilty party.
“I suspect,” the detective said, drawing my attention, like a fly to a light, “that this story is actually one of the more important ones.”
“How so?” I asked him.
“If we believe what he was saying to be true, then he was the last to see the poor man before he met his end. I would not be surprised if but the most minor of events mentioned just now was not a clue of some sort.”
“The only thing I can think of is how the conversation was what probably resulted in him exploring the basement area.” I pointed out, ‘almost too obviously’ I thought to myself. “He probably went to the first basement, then, because he had been told of it being referred to as ‘first’ and not ‘only’ basement, he figured there was a second one, and went down further to actually find a third. Maybe it is possible that while down there, he stepped into something he should have and was then killed for it. Or maybe the killer followed him down there.”
“With the amount of evidence we have,” the detective said sternly, stopping in mid investigative rant, “it is just as likely, that he tripped and conveniently sliced off his own head. There are no clues yet as to somebody else even being down there, or even being followed. If it wasn’t impossible for him to do so, I would even be considering suicide at this moment.” I went quiet at this minor scolding, and the detective sighed. “Something you should learn, that every detective must always keep to remembering. One should not twist facts and create imagination to suit your own little theories. One must always keep the facts and twist the theories whilst completely ignoring the imagination. Otherwise, you will solve nothing.” He said this last sentence with a venomous sting that rendered me apologetic.
“Sorry.” I murmured like a spoilt kid. Upon doing so, he mood seemed to immediately change, and he just laughed it off.
“You have nothing at all to be sorry about my friend.” He continued to laugh, “You are the innocent here, completely free of any crime, except maybe the crime of ignorance, but one shouldn’t be punished for that.”
“I guess.” I replied, my reactions incapable of properly reacting to the changing emotions that were swaying over the room. They decided to remain still and play dead for the time being, while the detective finished scribbling his notes, waiting for the next interviewee.
Interview Three: Malcolm
The only important part about this interview really is that he is the first of the three killers accused ofr the murder. He tells his story nervously at first, but after the detective mentions that the owner told him that he was with him, he becomes a little more confident