Chapter 1 – The Storm
The car sped down the freeway, tearing past other vehicles with ease. Five friends laughed, and joked inside without care. Joseph in the driver’s seat, smiled with smoke leaking out his nostrils, he felt dandy.
Up ahead, the skies were darkening as they showed the beginnings of a storm. The rain began heavily and Joseph had to park as the roads got more difficult to drive on. They sat at a loss on what they should do.
Kelly, in the backseat, checked the weather forecast on her phone and reported, “the storm might last at least the whole night, guys, what are we going to do?” Joseph sighed, feeling suddenly tired. Ron, after looking at the area well enough, spoke from beside Joseph, “I think I know a place. My family has an old house not too far, we could go there.”
Logan whooped, and said “Let’s go. And while we’re at it, we can have some of this shit that this guy at the concert recommended” he produced a brown, scrunched up paper from his pocket and he gingerly unfolded it. Dipping a finger, Logan took a sniff, and groaned in satisfaction with eyes closed. Everyone else, encouraged, took dipped their fingers and sniffed. Sighs came from each of them.
Ron gave directions to Joseph and they ended up at the gates of a huge house. It was old, and had a Gothic feel about it. Joseph parked, and everyone, with eager faces ran through the rain to the front door. Ron knocked while the other four talked behind him. Ron after noticing that no one was in, decided to look for a key around the porch. But before he could bend down, the door swung open.
The group of friends grew quiet as a man emerged from the darkness inside, he wore a black tailcoat over a white shirt, and had a bow tie too, he spoke in a clear voice, “yes, how may I help you?”
Ron spoke, “I’m a member of the family who owns this place. We need a place to crash for the night.” The man paused before a gave a smile that slowly crept up his lips “Of course, family won’t be kept out. Please come in.”
The man chuckled before saying to Ron, “I’m really sorry if I was rude, young master. I just never expected family to come knocking.”
Ron and his friends blanked for a second at the title he was given before Ron recovered, “you just called me young master, why?”
The man smiled without reservations, “I’m the butler at the manor, a caretaker, so I am meant to refer to you as such.”
Ron had no recollections of a butler at the manor but he decided the butler must have arrived after they stopped coming to the house for vacation. He nodded, although still a bit skeptic, at the butler, and the man led them each to rooms on the second floor. Ron spared a glance at the butler’s appearance, and in the dim lighting of the house's interior, he noticed a single ring on his left hand, placed on his ring finger. It had the symbol of an eagle on it.
The butler got food for them to eat soon after they were settled, and Ron who had been trying to reach his parents for a while, finally got through. He mentioned that he was in the family manor, and his parents, speechless for a few seconds, asked, “Is everything okay in the house?” Ron replied with a yes, and they asked when he would be home and Ron told them it would be the next day. Being bugged about the butler, Ron started to ask about him but the call suddenly got disconnected, and no number of retries would go through.
Ron resigned himself to leave early the next day with his friends, and then went to sleep. That night each friend woke up to sounds of a party going on in the house. They came out of their rooms, and looked down from the balcony to find a large number of people in strange clothes, laughing and chatting.
The friends walk downstairs to the party, and tried to inquire from the guests what was going on, but none gave an answer. They were barely even acknowledged, instead they were stared at sometimes like weird creatures.
Tessa got a strange feeling from the party guests but before she could ask, Ron was calling out to the butler from earlier.
Tessa didn’t feel right when she was around the butler. The whole manor had a weird vibe to it. She watched Ron talk to the butler, and the butler smiled. He came to the rest of them and said, “I’m sorry if the party woke you, don’t worry, it will be over soon.” He said it reassuringly but Tessa did not mistake that there was a hidden meaning in his words. She felt a chill as the butler smiled again.
They went to bed, and slept without anymore interruption. When they woke up the next morning, Ron went out to prepare the car, but suddenly found a flat tire. He checked it well and found a single nail in it. He wondered why it wasn’t flat yesterday but today it was different. Ron reasoned that it was probably a guest from the damn party.
Ron told his friends and they were crestfallen. They tried to find a mechanic on foot, but the place they found was locked with a single number painted on the door. Joseph called the number, and spoke with the mechanic who wouldn’t be around for two days. They had to stay in the manor until then. The butler was nowhere to be seen when they came back, and Ron heard girlish laughter as he walked about the house. He followed the sounds to the outside of the house and saw the backs of two girls as they were running off, laughing. He tried to follow but suddenly found no one as he turned a corner.