EPISODE ONE HERE
EPISODE TWO HERE
EPISODE THREE HERE
EPISODE FOUR HERE
EPISODE FIVE HERE
EPISODE SIX HERE
EPISODE SEVEN HERE
EPISODE EIGHT HERE
As I finished getting dressed there was a knock at my door. I opened it and it was Walter Dumnote.
"Can I come in?" he said looking behind him left and right to ensure he was not seen, then he pushed his way into my room, "shut the door!" he whispered.
For some unknown reason I obeyed.
"I did not want anyone to see me visiting you," he said, "I am getting really frightened as to what's going to happen to us. We'll all be killed unless we do something!"
"I'm sure you're worrying unduly," I replied to calm him down.
"Oh my word ..." he cried, "look at your eye. It is all black and blue. Did Claudia do that? I heard there's been an altercation between you two in the mausoleum. What happened?"
"Nothing happened," I said trying to quash any rumours, "I just fell, that's all. Please don't spread any stories about this!"
"Mom's the word ..." he whispered, "I am the soul of discretion. I came to see you to discuss a possible plan of escape. We seem to be trapped in this house and on this island. Two people have already disappeared and who knows who'll be next. I don't trust anyone; they could all be murderers; except you that is! I trust you."
"Calm down, man," I urged him, "you have known Sir Ivor and his family longer than me. Do you think any of them could be murderers?"
"No ... not really," he said after a moment's thought, "but I don't like the cook, Etan Roadkill. His clothes are always covered in blood. Even his name is sinister! Do you think he'll poison us?"
"I don't think anyone is going to poison or kill anyone," I said reassuringly, even though I did not believe it myself, "just be calm, cool and collected and above all vigilant. I'm sure there's a perfect explanation to Carro's and Maple's disappearance!"
"Let me see if I remember ..." he mumbled, " cool ... calm ... collected and vigilant! I got it. You're a good egg old boy. When we're out of here ... if we're out of here ever ... we should meet in London. Play a round of golf perhaps!"
"I stopped playing golf," I interrupted, " every time I play golf I get struck by lightning. So I stopped!"
(Why do I always say stupid things when I am under stress?)
He raised his eyebrows in surprise and dropped his monocle once again.
"Have you ever thought of using some glue to stick this monocle to your eye?" I asked stupidly, "or perhaps use a rope or a chain to attach it round your neck?"
He said nothing as he put the monocle back on his eye and left mumbling, "what was it? cool ... calm and ..."
Moments later a piece of paper was pushed under my door. I got to the door and picked it up, it read, "STOP PLAYING DETECTIVE - DETECTIVES DISAPPEAR !!!"
My blood ran cold. I read the message twice more and then opened the door. Obviously by that time there was no body there.
Had Walter Dumnote wrote this threat? Anyone else? They are all suspects in my mind. I read the note once more hoping for any clues or perhaps hoping it was something else, a shopping list maybe, a telephone number or some amorous note saying 'come up and see me sometime' or something else other than a threat. But it was a clear threat all right. A warning. I put it in my pocket where the missing backgammon disc also was.
There followed another loud knock at the door. I jumped so high that my head hit the ceiling. Do I open the door or not? Another knock ... I opened.
It was Claudia Armoff. She slid past me before I could say a word.
"I came to check you're all right!" she said, "Good Heavens ... what's happened to your eye? Have you been in a fight?"
"No ... I just fell, that's all!" I mumbled still in shock.
"How did it happen?" she asked.
"I slipped in the bathroom ... nothing really," I mumbled again.
"They will all think it happened in the mausoleum," she said, "they'll think we've been fighting. We were seen running back towards the house! They were all still in the library searching for a secret turnstile bookcase when they saw me chase you into the house!!!"
I instinctively touched the bruise underneath my eye and said nothing.
"I know what ..." she said, " come to my room next door. I'll put some mascara on it and it will hide the bruise. Some foundation blusher and general make-up. That should do it!"
"No that's OK, I'd rather not go to your room!" I said.
"Oh ... you're such a wimp ... I'll go and get my make-up kit. Let me in when I knock," she said as she left.
Moments later she was back.
"Now sit on this chair and push your head back so I can see ..." she said, "it looks worse than it is. We'll soon have you fixed. How did it happen really?"
"I was in the shower and a wasp came into the cubicle with me. As I rushed out I slipped and hit the wash basin," I confessed.
"Oddly enough, I too had a bee in the shower with me a few minutes ago," she laughed, "bees always come in when I shower. They're all over the place. The lavender attracts them!
"It was probably a bee that entered through your window. Do you know the difference between a wasp and a bee?" she asked.
I shook my head.
"Don't move your head," she said as she continued working, "a bee can only sting you once because its stinger, its tail, becomes stuck in your skin and it dies. A wasp can sting you more than once during an attack because its tail remains intact. This means a bee is less likely to sting you unless in self defence! That's why I let them come in and don't fuss so much," she laughed again.
"I did not stop to ask it whether it was a bee or a wasp," I said gritting my teeth.
"Most probably a bee. We used to have many beehives years ago. We even collected and sold honey at one stage. My brother was very keen to make a business of it. He planted many flowers that attract them! Especially lavender," she said. "If it was a wasp it would most probably have attacked you more than once, especially if provoked with hot water, as you did!"
I flinched at the thought of being at the mercy of such vicious attacks from a monster whilst so vulnerable and naked in the shower.
"Keep your head still," she said, "I can't do this properly if you move."
"You mentioned your room is next door," I asked changing the subject.
"Yes it is," she replied, "and Walter Dumnote is also next door to you on the other side. All the guests are in the North Wing. Except Hair-Cool Carro and Miss Maple Syrup. They were in the South Wing, next to Sir Ivor Status and Lady Eva's rooms."
My mind tried hard to focus under the pain of the bruise each time she touched it.
So she knew that this was my room when she came knocking last night. Why are all the guests here, except for Carro and Miss Maple in the South Wing? What is the difference between a wasp and a bee? Do bees like lavender? How does a bee know that if it stings its tail would fall off? Did its parents tell it so? Is there a secret turnstile bookcase in the library?
"What are you thinking?" she asked, "I can see the cogs in your brain whirling."
"Is there a secret turnstile bookcase in the library?" I repeated my thoughts.
"There's probably a priest's hole, somewhere in the house," she answered casually.
"A priest's hole? What's that?" I asked.
"Most ancient stately homes have them. This place is centuries old," she explained, "A priest's hole is a hiding place behind the wood panelling in the walls where the Catholics in ancient times in England used to hide a visiting priest to stop him being arrested and killed. In those days Catholics were persecuted in England and soldiers used to enter stately homes like this one and search for any priests who visited to celebrate Mass, or say prayers, or look after the sick and dying!"
"How awful ..." I said, "Is the library the only room with wooden panels on the walls?"
"No ... all the downstairs rooms have wooden panels on the walls; like the dining room you'll remember, and the ballroom and other rooms," she said, "Oh ... and upstairs .... there are wooden panels on the walls of Carro's room and Miss Maple's room, and also Sir and Lady Status rooms."
My mind started thinking again.
"Voila!" she said, "I've finished and you cannot see the bruise at all."
"Thank you," I said, looking at the mirror. Somehow, I began to trust her a little.
"Claudia," I said, "I'd like to search Carro's and Miss Maple's rooms!"
"Sure," she said with a smile, "we'll go tonight when they have all gone to sleep."
TO BE CONTINUED