Boobytraps and Bodies
Matt led the small group left down the corridor. He made it maybe halfway down when it lit up with a creepy red glow.
“I don’t remember red light.” Emma mumbled, scanning the walls and seeing a hole in one, just by Mia’s head.
“MIA! DUCK!” she cried as an arrow came flying out of the hole and shooting across the corridor.
“What was that?”
“I don’t know!”
“We must have come the wrong way!” Lucas told them, face paling.
“No, it was definitely this way.” Emma told him, the tone of her voice conveying her certainty.
“The house changes remember.” Matt pointed out, ducking another shooting arrow that had come flying out of a hole near him. He motioned for the others to duck and crouch near the wall where the arrows were coming from so that they would avoid the holes.
Lucas was keeping his eyes on the floor, too scared to look up. He watched as the soft runner running down the centre of the hardwood floor suddenly stopped and was replaced by two ornately carved stone plinths.
When they reached the plinths Lucas inspected them more carefully. One of them had dots covering it and one of them appeared to have an arrow with a line striking diagonally through it.
“Lucas! You Ass. Get back against the wall.” Mia hissed as Lucas lunged for the stone at the other side of the corridor.
“Trust me!” He said, standing on it.
Immediately the soft red light behind them turned green.
Matt, Emma and Mia all relaxed and stood upright, stretching out their cramped muscles.
“So, onward?” Lucas suggested, happy he had figured the solution out.
Once more, the four of them headed down the corridor to find the door that would lead them back to Rose, Lucas, feeling jubilant over his discover, skipping ahead before dropping to the floor.
Matt held Emma and Mia back. Lucas wasn’t moving, and he didn’t want the girls to throw themselves at him and fall prey to whatever had taken him down.
“Stay here.” Matt ordered as he cautiously stepped forward towards Lucas’s body.
He glanced around the walls to see what had hit the crumpled body in front of him.
“It’s no use. There’s no light!”
As if on cue, another red glow appeared to emanate from the corridor, lighting the way. By this light, Matt could see no holes or gaps in the walls where something could have hit Lucas, nor did he see the tell tale pool of blood to say he had been struck by something.
He could, however, see small dark circles under and to the sides of where Lucas lie. To test his theory, Matt stuck his arm in the air, hovering over the circles. Immediatley something small spouted from the holes in the floor and attached to his arm.
He quickly withdrew his arm, the darts making it feel like he were on fire, and scuttled back to the girls.
“Are you ok?” Emma asked, rushing to his aid.
“I guess those things are poison darts. My arm feels like it’s going to go up in flames any second.”
“We need to get them off you!” Emma told him, reaching for his arm.
She had pulled the first dart out of his arm and dropped it to the floor and was reaching for the second when she paused, straightened and looked past Lucas, the dart trap and down the darkened corridor.
“I feel like we’re being watched again.” Emma told him.
“We’ve already been there Emma, no one is watching us, otherwise I think we would all be pretty dead by now.” Mia scolded her, but Emma still stared, and, though she couldn’t be certain, she thought she could hear a muted footstep and a swish of a cloak.
Shaking her head, Emma continued to pull the darts out of Matt’s arm before taking her sweater off and wrapping it around the wounds to stop the bleeding.
“I vote we don’t go that way.” Emma suggested.
“I second that!” Matt told her without a moment’s hesitation, earning a rare smile off her.
“If we’re going back we should stick to the wall like a fly on flypaper.” Mia said.
“Back to the staircase?” Matt asked.
“Back to the staircase.” Mia and Emma agreed.
With that, the three of them headed back to the main staircase to formulate a new plan.
The trip back to the staircase was an uneventful one. There were no more arrows, or traps of any description, no hidden doors, no confusing turns, just the same corridor they had headed down.
Breathing a sigh of relief they came out at the top of the staircase they had climbed.
Mia suddenly stopped.
A brilliant streak of moonlight was shining through the window, even though it was still stormy outside, and it was illuminating something that was hanging from the landing.
Collecting her nerve first Emma headed for the stairs, closely followed by Matt and Mia. She suspected she knew what it was and was trying to see from the stairway, but something was blocking the view.
Still Emma, Matt and Mia continued down the stairs to the first landing, the illuminated object becoming clearer and clearer. Once they had all turned to face it, Rose’s petrified face visible through a cocoon of intricately spun, fine silk.
“Oh Rose.” Mia sobbed.
“We should get her down from there.” Emma suggested, slowly walking down the main body of the staircase. Mia was frozen to the spot, so Matt headed down after Emma to help.
Stopping beside Emma he looked up to see Rose was out of their reach.
“You could climb onto my shoulders.” He suggested to her.
“The House won’t let us.” Emma replied, without elaborating.
All they could do was stand there, staring at what remained of their friend.
“What’s wrong?” Mia asked, having finally found the courage to join them, making them both jump a mile and making Emma scream expletives at her.
“We can’t get to her.” Matt explained.
“But surely we can if one of us...” Mia started saying.
“The House put her out of our reach for reason and no matter how hard we try we won’t reach her.” Emma interrupted, knowing what Mia was going to suggest next.
“Do you guys hear that?” Matt asked, looking around.
“Hear what?” Mia asked, looking at Matt like he was losing his mind. Emma simply stared at him triumphantly.
“So now you hear something?” she asked him, smirking.
“Seriously, I can hear something. It sounds like creaking.” Matt repeated, glancing quickly behind them, in front of them and up each staircase to the side.
The creaking grew louder.
“Wait, I can hear it.” Emma told them, stopping her torment of Matt immediately.
Her eyes joined Matt’s roving the room for the source of the creaking. Looking in the one place Matt hadn’t she looked directly above them to discover a large, wooden tank like object.
“I would move if I were you.” She warned the other two as she hurried up the stairs.
Matt and Mia looked at Emma and were pondering her strange comment and saw her pointing up. They glanced up in time to see the tank tip up.
Water gushed from the tank, re-soaking Matt and Mia, unsettling them from their feet and carrying them the rest of the way down the stairs.
Emma watched as four dark lumps fell from the water tank and were also carried down the stairs with Matt and Mia.
Once the water flow had subsided Emma carefully walked the rest of the way down the stairs to help the others to their feet.
“We better hurry. I saw things fall out of the water.” Emma told them in a hushed whisper, glancing back at the lumps so often it looked like she had developed a tick.
“What are they?” Mia asked, and immediately the beam of moonlight broadened enough to light the entire hallway.
Mia screamed, Emma gripped hold of Matt’s arm so tight she nearly cut off his circulation and Matt steadied himself against the bottom of the staircase.
The four lumps were Khaia, with random patches of glowing bumps under her translucent skin; Alexis, his foot, hand and part of his stomach missing; Lucas with dark holes in his bare arms, face and neck from the poison arrow darts and what they assumed to be Tom. The body was wearing Tom’s clothes, had his skin tone, but a slice had clearly and cleanly removed his head, which was still missing.