Nate gulped as everyone gathered around their stands for the fourth Household Trial. Two new pictures stood in the place of two house guests, Thomas and Seto.
There was plenty of evidence pointed towards how Casey was killed but was there any evidence to show who had killed him?
“Whoever poisoned the fish was the person who killed Casey,” Brayden stated, “because Casey ate the fish and died of the poisoning.”
“Then why was he in the hot tub?” Mike asked.
“Hm...maybe the culprit put him there to fool us, and make it seem as if Casey had been drowned?” Josh suggested.
“Clever of them,” Mark said with a smile and an approving nod.
“You’re probably the most suspicious person here, Mark...” Bruce said accusingly. “You admitted yourself you had been to the Fourth Floor, and you were missing before Casey.”
Mark looked thoughtful. “Well, there’s more than one person here that knows where the fourth floor is. And could I have done anything without being spotted in such a short time?”
“He’s got a point...” Greg said nervously.
“And there’s the ST on Casey’s glasses. What does that mean?” Nate asked.
“Didn’t Casey mention he had glasses for every day of the week?” Leroy asked.
Randy nodded. “Then that would make ST Saturday. But...today’s Sunday!”
“Then if Casey was wearing his Saturday shades when he died, he must have been killed yesterday!” Josh realized.
“I personally think Leroy’s suspicious, too,” Brayden proposed. “Could he really have just smelled the poison? We didn’t smell anything; and if he was innocent, wouldn’t he have noticed that Casey’s fish smelled off?”
Leroy glared at Brayden. “I told you this before. Baccas have a really good sense of smell. And yes, I did smell the poison, but I thought it was just the steak I was eating, and no one else seemed to notice anything. I’m guessing Casey tasted the poison, but just thought it was the fish.”
“The culprit was obviously just trying to kill Leroy since they knew he only ate raw fish,” Nate pointed out. “Whoever the culprit is obviously knows that.”
“Could they have been targeting Leroy for a reason?” Randy suggested.
“I don’t think so. You’re only allowed to kill two people at most, so maybe they were just looking for a way to kill just one person with poison,” Mike pointed out.
“So, if the fish was poisoned before lunch because lunch is when Casey ate it, then the culprit must have been to the fourth floor and had time to poison it by then,” Brayden pointed out.
Nate nodded. “Could someone have taken the paper between or before the first and second shifts?”
“How come we’re not assuming it’s Mark?” Josh asked.
“Well, Mark’s still a suspect, but he wouldn’t need the paper, right? But the paper was still gone at some point,” Nate replied.
“Hey! I just thought of something!” Greg exclaimed eagerly. “Whoever said that the culprit needed to take the paper, right? They could have just looked at it, then left.”
“That’s true, actually,” Randy admitted.
“Hey, and didn’t the paper disappear after lunch?” Bruce asked.
“Yeah, you’re right!” Leroy exclaimed. “But Casey was poisoned before the paper disappeared.”
“Was the culprit just trying to mess us up, then?” Brayden asked.
“Probably,” Nate sighed.
“They must have used an invisibility potion or something from the fourth floor to hide the paper,” Mike muttered.
“Mark, you have to know something,” Nate begged.
Mark smiled. “I’m not allowed to talk.”
“Uhh...who said?” Josh asked confusedly.
Mark shrugged. “Can’t say.”
“You’re helping the culprit, aren’t you?!” Bruce exclaimed.
“You are the culprit, aren’t you?!” Greg exclaimed.
“Mark was on a shift before lunch...” Randy pointed out.
“But Mike was watching him. He couldn’t have done anything,” Nate said.
“We’re getting nowhere!” Randy exclaimed. “How are we supposed to find our culprit?”
“I think I know who did it,” Brayden said. Everyone turned to look at him.
“Someone’s been slipping a lot lately. I’m not sure if anyone else has noticed it, but I know I have.”
Brayden pointed to Mike.
“You’ve been making too many mistakes in this trial. Don’t think I haven’t noticed.”
Mike’s eyes widened. “What do you mean?” he asked.
“Well, first of all, back before the Trial,” Brayden started. “You mentioned a secret passage up to the fourth floor, but no one had ever said anything about a secret passage.”
“I was just assuming!” Mike protested.
“Well, you sounded pretty confident,” Brayden said. “Anyway, earlier you said that we were only allowed to kill two people at most. That’s probably a true rule, but Dimitris never went over the rules with us, and I’m assuming that you had asked him yourself about the rule before you went and poisoned all the food.”
Everyone stared at Brayden and Mike in shock as the mud-kip went on.
“Then, you mentioned that there was probably an invisibility potion used on the paper, but we’ve never been to the fourth floor, so is it just easy to assume that they have those on the fourth floor without having been there,” Brayden stated.
And finally, this may not count as true evidence, but you were on a shift with Mark. Knowing him, you probably went to the fourth floor and poisoned the fish and everything during your shift, and he’s staying quiet about all this because you’ve got a lot of hope or something.”
When Brayden finished, all eyes turned to Mike.
Mike looked horrified, gripping the sides of his stand and shaking.
“That makes sense...” Bruce said quietly.
“Mark. Tell us the truth,” Nate demanded.
Mark stared at Nate with his calm smile. “Well, you seem to have more hope than the culprit, anyway,” he said. Then his smile became wider, and he began to laugh loudly.
Everyone stared in horror as Mark finally stopped, and looked over at everyone. His calm brown eyes were wide, and he wore a big smile. He looked insane.
“Heh...during my shift, I could tell Mike was doubting his hope! So I told him to look at the paper. Go and kill someone, I don’t care! I wouldn’t say a word.”
“You’re saying a word right now!” Mike exclaimed.
“Well, I side with whoever has more hope, and you don’t have as much hope,” Mark said simply.
“You little-! I knew I couldn’t trust you!” Mike roared.
“Mike does that mean...?” Josh asked.
Mike closed his eyes and sighed.
“He talked me into it...” Mike said quietly. “He made it seem like I could actually do it and get out of here. It’s all HIS fault!” he suddenly exclaimed, pointing accusingly at Mark. Mark smiled.
“How did you do it?” Nate asked Mike quietly.
Mike sighed. “The fourth floor is only accessible through the Alchemy Room. Malcolm won’t tell you anything, but just pull some books out of the shelves. One is a lever that slides the bookshelf back to reveal the passage up. Mark told me this, and I checked the paper, and it was true. He talked me into it, and it was sheer luck no one saw me walk from the Dining Hall to the Alchemy Room. Without waking up Malcolm, I found the passage and went up.”
There, it’s all just more Alchemy stuff, but way more advanced than the stuff in the Alchemy Room, with a bunch of small storage closets with materials for potions, and other stuff, like sugar and exotic flowers. There’s one main room with the Alchemy stations. They’re also books with all the recipes. I made a poison potion and three invisibility potions. I drank one invisibility potion so I wouldn’t be seen going back to the Dining Hall, put the poison in the fish to try and kill just Leroy, and was visible again by the time for lunch.”
The poison was slow-acting, so it would take time before Casey died. I knew only he had been poisoned, so after lunch but before Leroy remembered he had a shift and came back, I splashed the potion of invisibility on the paper to make it seem gone. The potion got on me, making me invisible too. Leroy came in but didn’t see me, so I snuck out while he was in there.”
Then, I went down to Casey’s door and knocked. He opened the door, didn’t see me, and I snuck in before he closed the door. Not long after I had gotten into his room, he started coughing up blood. The blood only really got on his shirt, because he had been sitting up in bed, and when he died in his room a minute later. I took my last potion and used it on the both of us, and I carried Casey’s body up to the lounge and put him in the hot tub to make it seem like he drowned. No one saw me because I was invisible. And...that’s the whole story...” Mike finished with a sigh.
“You’re admitting so easily?” Randy asked.
“It’s not like I want to lose so easy!” Mike exclaimed, suddenly furious. “It’s all Mark’s fault! He betrayed me! Never trust Mark!”
“We never trusted him, anyway,” Brayden growled, looking over at Mark.
“No,” Mike said, getting eerily serious. “I mean don’t trust Mark.”
“What do you mean...?” Bruce asked nervously.
Mike glared at Mark. “While I was still invisible, I saw Mark go up to the fourth floor. I followed. He made some kind of potion, I have no idea what, and drank it. Something’s off. Don’t trust Mark.”
“Aw, so you saw that?” Mark asked with mock sadness. “Oh well! As Brayden said, you all don’t trust me anyway. Which isn’t really true, since I’ve manipulated so many of you already...”
Didn’t he only manipulate Suiko and Mike? Nate thought suspiciously.
“...But, it’s not like I’ll ever tell you anything. Just stay strong in your hope,” Mark finished with a smug smile.
“Well, it’s time for our execution then!” Dimitris announced.
Mike froze. “Wh...what?!”
Dimitris chuckled. “Have you forgotten, dummy? Execution. You’re the culprit. You’re guilty. We’re gonna execute you.”
“But...but it was Mark’s fault!” Mike exclaimed.
Dimitris laughed as the red button rose from the floor.
“No! I’m not guilty! It’s Mark!” Mike yelled in panic, but Dimitris had already hit the red button. “GAME OVER,” the screen below the red button read. “MIKE HAS BEEN FOUND GUILTY. COMMENCING EXECUTION.”
A run-and-jump course had been built with dull metal platforms, going up in a spiral in the metal execution room. The platforms were all connected to metal poles planted in the ground to hold them up. The platforms were long and far between. The course was obviously based on running fast, not taking time, and jumping.
Mike stood at the beginning of the course, trembling.
Four slots opened on each of the walls of the room, the same slots that had opened for the mutants in Peter’s execution. But instead of mutants, sizzling acid began to slowly pour out. Mike’s eyes widened, and the Superhuman Runner hurriedly began to run the parkour course.
He aced every jump, running for his life, and the faster he ran the faster the acid began to rise.
Jump by jump, going faster and faster. The liquid was steadily rising, bubbling and hissing menacingly. If Mike messed up one jump, he would plunge into acid. He was jumping for his life.
Finally, and miraculously, Mike made it to the last jump. Acid was already beginning to cover the platform he had just jumped off of. Taking a step back, he began running as fast as he could to make the last, long jump.
There was a thud as his feet landed satisfyingly on the final platform.
Mike whipped around to see that the liquid had stopped rising. Panting, he fell to his knees, still shaking from the adrenaline of the run. He slowly glanced around the execution room. Had he actually survived his execution? What would happen now? Would he be able to live?
The pole of the platform Mike had been on shot up, smashing the platform and Mike into the ceiling. Blood went everywhere, staining the walls and ceiling.
No one could survive an execution.