Nate stared at the body for a moment. The silence was deafening. Then realization kicked in, and his first thought was, Suiko was right?!
Taking a step back, Nate turned and ran down the stairs as quickly as he could, not bothering to close the door.
How could Randy be dead?! Nate had just seen him alive this morning at breakfast...had the murder been so recent?
And no blood! That made the death even creepier. Nate was pretty sure it was a broken neck. But Randy’s body had obviously been hung up after the murderer simply broke his neck, as if on display.
Nate nearly ran into someone as he tore down the hallway and jumped back almost immediately.
“Sorry!” he exclaimed, realizing it was Bruce, Leroy, and Brayden.
“What’s got you in such a hurry?” Brayden asked.
“We were just going up to check out the fourth floor. Did you come from there and see something?” Bruce asked.
Nate shook his head frantically. “N-no...on the second floor, there’s a body!”
The three of them gasped.
“So Suiko wasn’t kidding?!” Leroy exclaimed.
“He told you, too?” Nate asked.
Leroy nodded. “No one believed him, though...”
“Well, c’mon!” Bruce exclaimed, and Nate took the lead back down the hall. When they got up the stairs, Nate froze. The door was closed.
“Huh? I could’ve sworn I left it open...” Nate muttered and grabbed the handle.
The door wouldn’t budge.
“It’s locked?!” Leroy exclaimed.
Nate nodded in disbelief. “From the inside. How...who...who’s in there?” he asked.
“What do we do now?” Brayden asked with a frown.
“Shh. Do you hear that?” Bruce asked in a high whisper. Everyone fell silent.
Thump. Thump. Thump.
“What the heck is that?” Brayden asked quietly.
“I dunno, but it doesn’t sound like it’s coming from the second floor,” Leroy replied.
“Third, maybe?” Bruce asked.
“Then let’s go check it out,” Brayden declared, and everyone hurried up another flight of stairs. Up there, the thumping seemed to get louder.
They listened quietly, trying to follow the sound. It stopped for a while, then two more feeble thump thumps. Then it stopped.
“It sounded like it was coming from the end of the hall...” Leroy said nervously.
“The closet, maybe?” Bruce asked.
They crept towards the closet, and Nate noticed that the door was locked. He slowly turned the lock and pushed open the door.
Everyone, especially Nate, gasped in surprise.
Sitting on the floor, arms and legs tied up, tape over his mouth, was Randy.
“Randy? What are you doing here?!” Bruce exclaimed.
Randy frowned sourly and made some muffled indistinguishable words from under the tape.
“Oh, haha, sorry,” Bruce apologized, and bent down, ripping the tape off Randy’s mouth.
“OW!” Randy yelped.
“Sorry!” Bruce apologized again.
Nate stared at Randy in shock. Wasn’t Randy just...? No, this couldn’t be...
“Nate? What’s wrong?” Leroy asked, glancing over at Nate while Bruce and Brayden untied Randy.
“Randy...Randy was the person I saw dead on the second floor,” Nate replied numbly.
“WHAT?” Everyone exclaimed, even Randy.
“But Randy’s right here!” Bruce exclaimed.
“Well, I can see that,” Nate noted. “But I swear, he was dead in the other room. His neck was snapped, and the painting had been taken down. Someone hung the body on the nail of the painting by the cape.”
Everyone stared at Nate.
Randy spoke up. “I-I just remember walking to my room after breakfast, then something hit me hard on the head when I walked inside. I woke up here and started banging on the door with my feet to try and make a noise. But...you guys obviously heard it...I’m alive, right? I’m not a ghost! Am I?!”
“I...I have no idea. But I saw you dead....” Nate trailed off confusedly.
Brayden finished untying Randy, and the ropes fell loosely to the ground as Randy stood up.
“I’m definitely alive,” Randy said, with a hint of uncertainty.
Could...could someone else have been under the Batman suit? Nate thought. But Randy’s right here, and he’s alive. Was he faking? But how did he lock the door downstairs? And tie himself up? In this amount of time?
“H-hello?!” someone’s voice called from downstairs, shrill with panic.
“That sounded like Josh,” Brayden muttered.
“What’s he doing down there?” Leroy asked.
“This is getting confusing, my brain’s gonna split...” Bruce muttered.
“C’mon, let’s go see what’s going on,” Nate said.
“Uh, okay,” Randy agreed, looking baffled.
They rushed down the stairs and met up with Josh outside the second floor. Josh’s eyes were wide and he was trembling, and everyone immediately saw why.
The door to the second floor was still closed, but blood was now oozing out from under it.
“What...?!” Nate asked in bewilderment.
“I thought I heard a commotion, s-so I came to check it out, and when I got here-!” Josh explained in a panicked voice.
“That stuff smells!” Leroy exclaimed, holding his nose. “That’s fresh blood!”
“We need to get in there!” Bruce exclaimed.
“How?” Brayden asked. “Is there any other way in?”
Leroy marched up to the door and firmly grabbed the handle.
“Leroy, you’re stepping in it!” Randy exclaimed.
“I don’t care,” Leroy replied. “We gotta get this door open...” He trailed off and began pushing on the door, his face strained from the effort. He stopped abruptly and gave a quick sigh. “It’s not budging...” he panted.
The reek of the blood was beginning to waft up to Nate’s nose, making him feel dizzy and sick. He turned away and saw something in the hallway that made the situation even more confusing.
The white figure.
“What do you want?” Nate snapped. Everyone turned to see what Nate was snapping at.
“Gah! What’s that?!” Bruce exclaimed.
“That ghost thing I’ve been talking about,” Nate growled. “It’s just annoying at this point.”
The white figure stared at them.
“What does it want?” Randy asked quietly.
“It usually just stares at me until I walk towards it or something,” Nate explained, staring straight back at the figure.
“Does it want you to go somewhere?” Brayden asked.
“Probably,” Nate replied, and headed down the staircase. The white figure instantly turned around and drifted to the Alchemy Room.
“See?” Nate said.
“This is getting creepy...” Josh muttered nervously.
“Well, we gotta follow it now, right?” Bruce said. Everyone nodded and followed the figure into the Alchemy Room.
In the room, the figure was standing next to the Alchemy table, staring at them.
“What does it want with the Alchemy table?” Randy asked curiously.
Suddenly, a book fell off the nearby shelf and landed on the floor next to the Alchemy table, and the ghost disappeared.
“Did that book fall on purpose...?” Bruce asked nervously.
Nate went over and cautiously picked up the book. As he looked down at the confusing Latin characters, they slowly began to fade and become English characters.
“Hey!” Nate exclaimed in surprise. “This book just went from Latin to regular English!”
“What? What does it say?” Brayden demanded.
“Uhh...” Nate said, skimming the page the book had opened up to. “It looks like...some sort of instructions.”
“For what?” Josh asked, looking over Nate’s shoulder. “All must stand around the table and picture the bookshelf they wish to teleport to?”
“Wait, is that some sort of teleportation spell?” Leroy asked confusedly.
If only Seto were here, Nate thought. Or Malcolm.
“Wait, so does this mean you can teleport through the Alchemy table to other places with bookshelves?!” Randy asked, astonished.
“I guess so,” Nate said.
“The Study Room!” Bruce exclaimed. “Where Seto died. That was on the second floor. We can get there!”
“Yeah! Let’s all stand around it, and picture the bookshelf thing,” Josh said.
They all did as the book said, standing around the Alchemy table. Nate pictured the Study Room, trying to push the image of dead Seto out of his mind, and suddenly, in the blink of an eye, he was in the Study Room with everyone else.
“How...?” Leroy asked.
“Alchemy Tables can do that?!” Randy said in awe.
“What are we waiting for?!” Josh exclaimed. “We need to go check out the Living Room!”
Everyone ran down the hallway and froze when they go to the Living Room.
“What...?” Randy muttered as he looked at the corpse in a Batman suit identical to his. Nate stared at it too in dread, but then he turned his attention to the front door and screamed. The blood from under the door...had been coming from…