One of the people in the room was a murderer, I realised, as the dust floated down from the musty ceiling that was far too old and far too dim. No matter the outcome of this fateful night, my life would never be the same. It was time to think.
It all seemed rather suspicious, considering the circumstances. A cruel millionaire, who previously delighted in terrorising the village below, inviting the four people he truly hated the most to stay for the weekend. “I’m sorry”, he said. “I’ve changed”, he said. “Born again”, he said. But I could see it in his eyes, the dark truth within. Nevertheless, we all decided to go, and it was only at dinner that the story truly began.
The arrow flew through the crisp winter air at what seemed like the speed of light, but a simple click from many metres away was the only thing that told the party someone was dead. The blood spurted out from the millionaire’s head, soaking the mash potato in a sickly red. The night had begun, and in the brief moments after the brutal murder a mere pin could have dropped and echoed throughout planet earth. But then all hell was raised.
Screams, blood, panic – the mansion in the middle of nowhere had it all. And there was no signal, so the only hope of saviour had disappeared in a puff of smoke. Who would do this? And why? It then dawned upon me that every one of us had a motive; a day did not go by that failed to involve ex-millionaire Peter Jones. Thoughts ran through my mind, a thousand a second. Heirs? None. Money could not be the motive, not unless there were agreements behind closed doors. And in a mansion as secluded as this one, secrecy was hardly unheard of. But these people… they’re family. They’re friends. They’re neighbours. I had lived in the village of Leadworth for ten years, and with a meagre population of around one thousand you either knew everybody or nobody. Peter Jones fell into the latter category. The murder just didn’t make any sense.
The brightly lit room suddenly fell into darkness. There were screams, unlike anything heard before. I barely had time to shout “don’t panic” before they turned back on again, as sudden as they had disappeared. I looked around, afraid, and counted one less person than before. Nothing remained, just a trail of blood and a fresh eyeball rolling around on the shiny, ancient floor. I didn’t know the dead girl, who was just thirteen at the time. She’d wanted to become a doctor, they said. Great expectations, they said. “Our little angel”, they said. It stopped now.
Procrastination is both a student’s favourite and most hated thing, ever. It’s nice at the time, putting off that Maths homework, and watching Sherlock instead, but later the decision comes back to bite me, with only regret remaining and a promise that it will never, happen again, which obviously fails the next day. But, for once in my life, procrastination helped. All those episodes of Luther might just save some of our lives. If I was lucky.
Group discussion time. Every single one of us seemed convinced that it was someone else. Anybody else. Just not them. My delightful wife had the idea that it would be best to split up, to walk around the biggest house I’d ever seen, to find whoever was the murderer. And so I was alone on the worst night of my life.
2 hours passed, and the house was empty. Too empty. All the rooms were blank and whitewashed, even Jones’ bedroom; he had lived a lonely life and you could tell. No sign of a blood stained murderer with a scary mask like you see in the movies. No flesh covered knife dripping on the wooden floor. And no corpse minus an eyeball from poor little Lucy. I decided to return to the dining room.
The sight I was greeted with remained with me for the rest of my short little life. Three corpses, throats slit, hanging from the ceiling with their eyeballs missing and blood dripping. My life – all that was worth anything, anyway – ended at that moment. My beloved wife, Isabelle, only a body after our little time together. Poor little Lucy, with her shattered dreams. And her father, the kindest man I’ve ever known. My own life was torn apart at that second, and by the looks of things the statement would become literal any second now. Before I came on this hellish trip, my life’s pieces had been falling into place, like a jigsaw. I had just reached my dream career, after working my way up the ladder for what seemed like forever. But what is a career worth now, when the person you love is dead? We had just bought a new house, ready for children, but that is useless now. There’s no point living in a mansion if there’s no-one to share it with, though Jones may have disagreed. All I’ve done is worked and loved, and this is what I get. Thank you God, for ruining my universe. What use is a greater being if they just sit around and throw your life at a wall?
Only then did it occur to me that these murders were practically impossible. Unless people can slit their own throats, pop out their own eyeballs and hang themselves up… it just didn’t make sense. Isabelle may be dead, and my life may be over, but I at least owe her an explanation. Only then will my life have closure. I saw a slight movement in the distance, and figured that something didn’t add up. The angle that Jones was shot from… it came from a book case! I looked, and sure enough there was a crossbow, aimed and timed. Next to it, the novel Great Expectations, with some paper sticking out of it. A plan. I took a picture, gave one last bow, blew one last kiss to my love, and walked away forever.
I called the police, but the night was not yet over. A pregnancy test was on the kitchen table, reading positive – Isabelle was pregnant with my unborn child. I broke down in tears for the first time that night, and even when the truth about the evening was revealed I felt no better. Jones had killed himself, and set up an assassin to kill everyone else but one, who would be framed for the murders in a genius plan. I was just unlucky enough to be that person.
I have never really moved on, or grew up. Never re-married. Never had children. I’m old now, close to my death, but I still visit her grave every weekend without fail. My life ended that night, and I will never forgive Peter Jones.