An expert at escape rooms enters a situation she may not be able to leave as she is locked in a dark mansion after a thunderstorm with old enemies and SOMEONE IS A KILLER.
Murder Mansion part 1 by Rob Fields
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Murder Mansion: Part 1
It’s 4th of July night. I’m thinking maybe coming home from Shore City today wasn’t such a hot idea. The weather app on my smartphone said it wasn’t supposed to rain today. Just goes to show you can’t always believe weather reports. I’m driving in what seems like a torrential downpour as I’m on my way back to Strickfield University.
I spent a week in Shore City. You’d think that I was out on the beaches there, especially close to 4th of July weekend. Not at all. While I could probably turn a lot of heads in a bikini, I wasn’t there for that kind of vacation. No, I was working out a very challenging escape room. In fact, it was one of the more better-built ones I’ve done, especially when it was a contest with big money involved. When it comes to escape room contests, I enter as many as I know I can drive to. I really don’t have a choice.
If you could take a good look at me, you’d probably be thinking that you’d want to date me. However, once we’d go on said date, you’d soon wish you’d never met me. The main reason is that I eat way too much. Ever see Shaggy Rogers in the Scooby-Doo cartoons? If so, then you’ve seen how much he eats, and he’s a cartoon. Thanks to my ultra-high metabolism, I have to stuff my face the way Shaggy does. In fact, that’s what I’m doing right now.
I’ve got two huge bags of bacon double cheeseburgers in the passenger’s seat. Well, now one. I’ve just finished the first bag, and there’re fifteen burgers apiece in both bags. I’m not even feeling full yet. This is part of the reason why I do escape room contests for prize money. I work at the library at Strickfield University to both make a little money and get discounts. I have a scholarship that covers all my academic costs, but it doesn’t cover much in terms of my food. Not when I have to eat so much of it.
I won five grand in beating that escape room in Shore City, but it’s going to be gone before too long. I’m going to have to look for some new contests when I get back to my dorm.
These burgers are delicious, but the ones at Denoyer’s Grill are so much better. Thinking about it, maybe I should have ordered three bags of burgers. I’ve already eaten three more out of the second bag. Keep in mind that these aren’t sliders.
Let’s face it, the life of Bethany Martinson is a very lonely one. No guy wants to date me because of both my monstrous appetite and my mutant brain. I’ve come to find that guys don’t really like girls who are much smarter than them. In fact, I have a superior IQ. I got to skip two grades in high school. In fact, I’m only nineteen, and I’m a sophomore at university. And there are other guys that don’t want to date a throwback to the 1960s.
Ever see the kind of clothes the Scooby gang wears? Well, picture Daphne’s dress but red, purple leggings like hers, red-and-tan pumps, a white scarf, a blue headband, and cat-eye-lensed glasses. I’m listening to The Mamas and the Papas on the oldies station. To put it mildly, I just don’t fit in with many of today’s trends.
Also, I’ve had girls from the Kappa sorority give me a hard time. They’ve seen me eat at a few all-you-can-eat buffets and started calling me Bethany the Boar. I swear, people can be so stupid and mean. Sometimes, even I don’t understand people. Still, I keep my head up high and keep moving forward. I don’t know what those girls will do if they manage to graduate college. Me? I’m a detective. I’ll always have work. I just have to find things that pay. Thankfully, I’ve been able to find one escape room contest after another.
In addition to the escape room contests, I’ve also been able to make some money helping police departments solve their toughest cases. Solving the cases gets me rewards. Truth be told, I don’t like taking the rewards, but I’ve got to eat.
Speaking of eating, I’ve just finished my last bacon double cheeseburger. Two big bags of burgers – and I’m still not content. I’ll be back in Strickfield in a little while. Denoyer’s Grill, here I come. Thinking about those big cheeseburger platters is already making my stomach growl with anticipation.
The rain’s really coming down now. I just have to take it easy, so I don’t go off the road. I want to make it to Denoyer’s Grill alive. I see the sign that says I’m only five miles from Strickfield now. However, I only manage two before I come up to the big detour sign in the middle of the road.
“Whoa!” I utter when I see the bridge over the Castalia River is washed out completely. I remember driving across that bridge when I left Strickfield to go to Shore City. I’ll have to follow the detour to get back into the village.
I turn off and drive along a very curvy road. The storm continues to grow more and more. The lightning flashes are more and more frequent, and the rain is coming down in heavy sheets. My eyes quickly open wide when I realize I’m being directed into the backwoods. You wouldn’t believe how many horror stories I’ve heard about this area floating around campus. There are even a few Strickfield websites that have made Creepypastas out of some of them, including stories about ghouls and cannibals.
As a detective, I not only solve real-world cases, but I also dabble in the supernatural. I’ve actually debunked quite a few urban legends and haunted houses. Do I sound like I could be Dana Scully from The X-Files? Well, I wouldn’t go that far. She’s a skeptic to my being a believer. I’ve actually found a few houses that were really haunted in my life. None of them were in Strickfield. I’m still thinking about my very first one, which was an old woman who came back to take revenge on her grandson for murdering her to claim her fortune. I still get the creeps just thinking about it.
I’d pull over and just wait out the storm, but I’m still hungry and need to get to Denoyer’s Grill. I’ve got the windshield wipers working overtime here, but I still can’t see much of anything except the rain and the lightning. As I’m rounding a long curve, a huge flash of lightning illuminates the road ahead enough for me to see a car.
Right in the middle of the road!
I scream and jam on the breaks. Then I feel the impact, and my car dies. I know I’m okay thanks to my seatbelt. I take a deep breath and compose myself. I’m going to have to call the police and have them come out here to clear this. Only that’s not going to happen.
My smartphone’s screen is so badly damaged now that pieces of it just fell out. It must have hit just right against something in the crash. No way I’ll be able to use it. Well, I can’t just sit here in my car, not in the backwoods of Strickfield. I don’t have an umbrella, so it looks like I’m taking an impromptu shower.
I get out of my car to check the damage. It’s dark, but I can see enough of the other car to scream. You’re not going to believe this, but the other car’s all burned up. In fact, there are three skeletons sitting inside. The only thing I can figure is the car hit a tree and exploded, based on how totaled the front of the car looks. Whoever these three people were didn’t have a chance of getting out and burned right down to their bones. As for the fire itself, the rain put it out.
I really don’t have a choice. I’ve got to try and find a house somewhere so I can call the police and report this. I hope they can come ASAP. I’m okay now, but my ultra-high metabolism will burn up all those burgers I ate. Eventually, I’m going to be very hungry again.
I just pick a direction and start walking. It’s really windy out here. I walk for about fifteen minutes before the lightning flashes and reveals what looks like . . . a plantation. Like the kind you read about in Civil War history. The huge mansion looks like it’s definitely from that era. I would have never guessed the backwoods had mansions.
Well, I can’t be choosy. Not in my situation! I need to at least take shelter inside. Hopefully, somebody’s home so I can use a phone. I may even have to trouble them for some food.
The wind blows even harder as I’m on the front porch. I’m ready to knock on one of the French doors. Then I notice one of them is just slightly open. I push on it to find it opens easily and quickly step inside. The house is nicely lit. Seems to have some kind of electrical power.
“Hello?” I call out. “Is anybody home?”
I call out some more but get no replies. No, I spoke too soon. The door I came in through suddenly slams shut behind me. I turn back to the doors and try to open them. Neither the doors nor the handles will budge. I move to the windows, but there are no latches to open them. Looks like I’m trapped in here. I’ll take it for right now since I’m out of the storm. I don’t have a choice. I’m going to have to explore my new shelter.
I’m dripping all over the floor as I start walking. I might as well have just come out of a swimming pool after being in it with my clothes on. Every now and then, I call out and hope someone will hear me.
After walking around for several minutes, I finally come into a huge living room. Yes! There are actually people in here. I already recognize three of them. In fact, I’ve seen the middle-aged men before many times. The first one is John Riddle, who used to work for the Sixth Precinct of the Erie City PD. The second man is Brian Davenport, who used to work for the Tenth Precinct of the Shore City PD. The last one is Ed Smith, who used to work for the Second Precinct of the Dayton PD. I say used to because I got them all fired.
Remember when I told you police departments sometimes call me in to solve really tough cases? That’s what happened to these guys. They’re all former detectives. After I solved what were supposed to be some really tough serial killer cases, I’d read the top news stories about the cases being broken. I would also hear from my contacts that each detective had been fired. According to them, I made solving the cases look so easy.
You’d think I’d never see the men again, right? Nope! Remember how I told you that I enter escape room contests? These guys have been at nearly every single one of them. They work together to try and win the cash prizes. I keep winning at the escape rooms and claiming the prizes. For my part, it’s nothing personal. The men, however, have taken it quite personal and still resent me to this day. Even their looks right now are resentful. They hate me because I’m so much smarter than them, not to toot my own horn, and I’m young enough to be a daughter to each man.
“Well, look what the cat dragged in,” John Riddle sneers.
“You didn’t tell me your daughter was coming,” Ed Smith jokes with Brian Davenport.
Brian groans and bumps him with his elbow. “Piss off!”
I immediately notice the three men aren’t wet in the slightest. Maybe they’ve been here a while. Who can say for sure?
Then I see an older couple sitting in their own comfy chairs who look to be in their seventies. Both have gray hair, and the man doesn’t have a beard. They’re dressed in clothes that match this plantation.
“I’m sorry,” I tell them. “Is this your house? I didn’t mean to just walk on in, but I had an accident out on the main road. Do you have a phone I can use to call for help?”
The man replies to me, “Storm’s nasty out there, ain’t it? Sorry ta be tha bearer a bad news, young lady, but there ain’t no phone in this house. Never has been. Yer more an welcome ta wait out tha storm here.”
I sigh. “No phone?”
“That’s what he said,” Ed Smith says rudely. “And don’t look to us for a phone.”
“Even if our phones got signal here, we still wouldn’t let you use one,” Brian Davenport adds.
The woman looks at me now. “Oh, yew poor thang.” She gets up. “Come on, ah’ll get yew some fresh clothes ta wear.” She raises her finger. “Yew’ll catch yer death a cold if yew stay in them wet clothes. Not ta mention yew’ll keep drippin’ all over my carpets. Now c’mon.”
I let her take me with her. After changing into dry clothes, which look like the same fashions that Dorothy and her husband are wearing, the woman brings me back to the living room.
“Well, she looks just like yew back in yer younger years, Dorothy,” the man says.
“Now, yew don’t go gettin’ no ideas, August Grimm!” she scolds. “Yew keep yer hands off a this young chicken.”
August laughs a little and tells me to have a seat. I sit on a couch across from the three men.
“Yup, ah think we got everybody here that needs ta be here,” August says.
Then I remember. “Those front doors are locked tight. I couldn’t open them again.”
“Yeah, they tend ta stick like that when it rains heavy like such. Way tha house’s always bin,” August replies. “Anyway, y’all wanna go back out inta that storm?”
I sigh. “Not really.”
“Then it’s all settled,” Dorothy says with finality. “August, ahm thinkin’ maybe it’s time y’all share a little story with our guests.”
“Don’t mind if ah do.” August points to a portrait of a bearded man above the fireplace. “That’s Beauregard Grimm, tha founder a this here home. It’s known only to a handful a people that he deserted during tha Civil War. Just didn’t believe tha way tha other Confederate people believed an deserted. It took’im some time, but he ended up here in tha north. Came ta this here spot on tha map an decided ta call it home. Began as a normal house.
“Beauregard made his life an fortune makin’ traps. Now, we ain’t just talkin’ stuff like bear an mouse traps here. No, he made actual traps that could keep a man locked up good an tight. Then, as he builds this glorious plantation, he gits himself an idea. I done told ya he made his fortune here. He never done trusted nobody, so he decided ta build special rooms in here at Grimm Manor. Built special kinds a traps outta them, he did. Yew get caught in one a them rooms, yew better be able ta figure yer way out if y’all wanna live. As tha legend goes, yer able ta find an solve all tha rooms . . . y’all git tha fortune all ta yerselves. Many have tried.” He leans forward in his chair. “All of’em failed. In spite a tha warnins Dorothy an I both gave. They all ended up in their final restin’ place . . .” he nods over his shoulder, “. . . in that there dirt nap out in back. From there, they became a part a Grimm Manor. After all, it ain’t just people lookin’ fer Beauregard’s fortune who come here. Many a those lost souls who died in tha area find their way here, too, yes they do.
“Now . . . y’all are more than welcome ta spend tha night an wait out tha storm. Long as y’all don’t go off lookin’ fer tha fortune, y’all shouldn’t have a problem gittin outta here come mornin’. You’ll decide ta go lookin’ fer tha fortune . . . ? Then y’all were warned!”
“Um, could the house being locked up tight be a possible trap?” I ask August.
“Done told ya, honey,” he replies. “Them doors like ta stick real good when there’s a storm like that out there. An we get storms like that quite a bit here in Strickfield. Agin, y’all wanna go back out in that storm, we ain’t stoppin’ ya.”
John Riddle gives me a dirty look. “Looks like you finally found a place even you can’t escape from.”
August looks at Riddle. “How’s that?”
Riddle points right at me. “This little freak right here likes to play escape rooms. She’s gotten out of every one.”
August raises an eyelid my way. “Oh, really?”
I didn’t appreciate Riddle’s tone towards me. “At least I can beat the escape rooms!” Then I glance at all three of the former detectives. “Unlike you . . .”
I calm down and look at August. “I guess I’ll stick it out here tonight and walk back to Strickfield in the morning. Um, can I trouble you for some food? I can pay you.”
Dorothy laughs a motherly laugh. “C’mon wit me, young lady. Ah’ll take ya an feed ya. I hope y’all have an appetite, ’cause we got more than enough food here. An yew keep yer money. Ain’t no good here.”
“Thank you,” I say and get up to follow Dorothy.
The old woman takes me to the biggest kitchen I have ever seen. There are two huge refrigerators here. As soon as she opens one of them, my monster tummy growls with delight. I wonder if this sort of thing happened to Shaggy when he saw food. Okay, I know he’s a cartoon, but still . . .
“Eat whatchew want,” Dorothy tells me. “C’mon back when yer ready an ah’ll show ya to yer room fer tha night.”
I thank the old woman again. When she leaves, I open a refrigerator and grab the big platter of ham.
Wow! I don’t think I’ve ever eaten so good in my life. I could list everything I ate here, but . . . Again, this is part of the reason why guys don’t want to date me. For the record, I did eat that entire ham platter. I’ve rarely ever been as content as I am right now, but I think I should be good until morning. Then I’m going to want Denoyer’s Grill for sure.
When it’s getting close to midnight, August and Dorothy take us and show us to our rooms. The men ended up staying downstairs, but Dorothy takes me up the extravagant ivy staircase. At the top, we turn off. Dorothy’s talking to me about life here on the plantation. Soon we come to a bedroom at the end of the hall.
“Yew’ll be quite comfy in here, honey,” she tells me.
I thank her again for her hospitality and for putting me up for the night. I try to offer payment again, but she won’t hear of it. She says good night and leaves. I turn and examine my bedroom for the night.
The first thing I see is another portrait of Beauregard Grimm near the four-poster bed. Not the same one as the portrait in the living room, but just as haunting.
“It’s only a picture, Bethany,” I tell myself. “It can’t hurt you.”
I look at it again and see it’s still inanimate. I lock my door and undress. Then I gasp when I see the other naked girl in the full-length mirror and walk over to it.
“Easy there, Bethany,” I tell myself.
And then I notice my reflection’s eyes are red and my hair is violet; my eyes are normally green and my hair red. I close my eyes and tighten my fists.
“No! No, I’m not giving in. Leave me alone!”
Then I open my eyes and see my reflection’s still altered. My dark side is trying to emerge again. I didn’t want to say anything, but my inner darkness is the biggest reason why I’m not intimate with others. I’ve had to struggle with it since my early high school years. It’s grown stronger since then, and it becomes more of a struggle to keep it inside me.
“Ya can’t keep me locked up foreva, Bethy . . .” my reflection sings with a Brooklyn accented.
I quickly turn away from the mirror, get into bed, and turn off the lamp.
I wake up when I feel my tummy growling. “Really?” I ask it. “I just fed you a huge feast.”
I had that dream again about being in that hot dog eating contest last summer at the Strickfield County Fair. Winning that contest was no problem, but I still dream about that event. Denoyer’s Grill put up the hot dogs. I swear, I could live at that greasy spoon.
My tummy starts growling again.
“Okay, okay . . . I’ll get you some more of that delicious food,” I tell it and get out of bed.
I put my borrowed clothes back on and leave my room. I walk downstairs and head into the kitchen. I feel so guilty for stuffing my face the way I do, but I just can’t help it. If I could actually put on weight, I’d have been dead from morbid obesity a long time ago. Then I laugh a little when I think that a rich man would have to be the one to marry me.
“You’re being crazy now, Bethany,” I tell myself as I dig into some chocolate silk pie.
I leave the kitchen feeling content yet again. Again, you wouldn’t believe all the food I just ate. I yawn and know I can’t wait to get back into that nice comfy bed. However, I decide to check out more of this mansion before I head back upstairs. Might as well, right? How often do you get to actually be in a big mansion like this?
I walk until I enter the big living room. Looking at the windows, the storm just keeps raging on. Glad I’m in here where it’s nice and dry.
Then I wish I hadn’t thought that last part when the lightning strikes. I scream like holy hell when I see the bodies of August and Dorothy Grimm hanging on nooses side-by-side. The lightning flashes again. They’re definitely dead! Who the hell could have done this . . . this awful thing? Those people were so nice.
My heart’s pounding like when I’m watching horror movies on those lonely nights. My many lonely nights. I can’t help crying for the Grimms now. I can’t go back to bed. I have to solve this mystery. I have to know who killed August and Dorothy Grimm!
Before I can think about what to do next, I feel something land right behind me. When I turn my head to see what it is, the lightning flashes and reveals – GASP!!
I scream in utter horror when I see the ghostly phantasm wearing a long black cloak. Its face was a ghastly, grinning skull. It laughs a haunting, menacing laugh as it wraps its arms around me. I scream again as I feel it lifting me up quickly and out of sight.