Leroy groaned. “Are we gonna hold a household trial for the cow?”
Mr. Hope glared at him.
“Where did it go? Did someone...?” Josh asked, looking at the blood splatters. They weren’t too messy, but someone had obviously been trying to make this a clean kill.
“They must have disposed of the body,” Mr. Hope said thoughtfully. “Probably had Dimitris take the thing down to the-” he cut off, and suddenly disappeared into thin air.
“What the?” Randy asked, just as Dimitris tapped him on the shoulder from behind.
“Gah!” Randy exclaimed, whipping around. “What do you want?”
“What are you all doing down here?” Dimitris growled.
“Um, looking for clues,” Bruce replied.
Nate nodded. “We’re gonna solve the true mystery of these murders.”
Dimitris’ head snapped in Nate’s direction. “You,” he growled. “You’re supposed to be dead.”
Nate cooly glared back at Dimitris. “No, because I wasn’t guilty. You know that. Why did you try to frame me?”
Dimitris’ snarl flickered and turned up into a smile. A big, evil smile. “I am going to kill you,” Dimitris said slowly and calmly and pulled a knife out of his pocket.
“Whoa, whoa!” Randy exclaimed as everyone took a step back.
“Dimitris!” Brayden demanded. “You can’t kill him. That proves to us you’re hiding something.”
Dimitris calmly stepped closer.
“We’d need a household trial, right?” Josh asked fearfully.
Dimitris came closer.
Dimitris whipped around to see that Mr. Hope was back, glaring at him with his arms folded.
“You!” Dimitris hissed. “I knew you were here.”
Mr. Hope blinked slowly. “Of course. And I’m here to save these houseguests.”
Dimitris narrowed his eyes. “That’s cheating.”
Mr. Hope rolled his eyes. “Not if I’m just showing them clues. You should have thought this through more. Do you know how long I’ve been walking around here as a ghost, right under your nose?”
Dimitris gave a wicked grin. “I’m gonna... kill you, too...” Dimitris muttered, raising the knife. Nate didn’t like the tone of his voice. It sounded almost like he...
“You can’t kill a ghost,” Leroy pointed out.
“I see you’ve gone insane?” Mr. Hope asked casually, as a knife flew right through his head. It clattered onto the floor behind him. Mr. Hope was untouched.
“Well, you always were insane. Now it’s really bad. Has working for the mastermind been chipping away at your soul?”
The hand Dimitris had been holding the knife in twitched. “I’m gonna...kill...you all,” He said slowly, his voice dropping an octave.
“You should run,” Mr. Hope advised the houseguests as Dimitris walked slowly over to the knife as if he were sleepwalking.
They didn’t need to be told twice.
Nate in the lead, they all tore down the hall past Dimitris, who didn’t seem to notice as he picked up his knife.
Nate risked a glance behind him as they turned the corner into the brewing room. He could see Dimitris calmly walking towards them, holding the knife with a distant look on his face.
“Down the stairs, hurry!” Brayden ordered, and everyone ran down without hesitation.
Once they got to the Alchemy Room, Nate turned around and saw Dimitris was almost down the stairs as well.
“Close the passage!” Bruce exclaimed, and Randy hurriedly pulled the light blue book. The bookshelf slid into place just as Dimitris reached the bottom.
“I’m gonna kill you!” Dimitris yelled from behind the bookshelf. “I’m gonna kill you!”
“Oh, man,” Josh panted. “H-he’s lost it!”
“It must have been the mastermind’s influence,” Mr. Hope said disdainfully. “I’m not too surprised he’d cause even Dimitris to go crazy.”
“I’m gonna kill you! I’m gonna kill you!”
“Tell us who you are already,” Brayden said to Mr. Hope. “I’m clueless. You’ve been dead for a while because you’ve been around for a while. You were friends with the mastermind. You care a lot about hope.”
“Mark? Mark cared a lot about hope,” Bruce suggested.
Mr. Hope snarled. “How dare you compare me to that insane freak. His ‘hope’ was just what he held on to so he wouldn’t go completely insane. False hope. Despair. Mark’s hope was despair. My hope is pure.”
“Is Mark the mastermind?” Leroy piped up. Mr. Hope laughed. “You think someone like him could run a mansion? He’s got the insanity, but not the responsibility if you ask me!”
“Hmm... your personality is a bit peculiar, too,” Brayden continued. “You don’t really remind me of anyone. Just your words, I guess. You’re calm and have a strange sense of humor. You’re also kind of sarcastic. And you seem to feel responsible for all of us. I don’t know too many people who’d feel responsible for us.”
“...Stop guessing who I am,” Mr. Hope said sternly. Nate could tell he was trying to hide his uneasiness.
“I’m gonna kill you! I’m gonna kill you all!”
“We should get going,” Mr. Hope said and left the Alchemy Room. “You want to see the fifth floor, right? Well, it’s more of an attic, really.”
“Fifth floor?” Nate asked.
Mr. Hope nodded. “Where the culprit got all the stuff to kill Suiko. You know. The tape. The arrow.”
“How do we get to it?” Randy asked.
“Simple,” Mr. Hope replied. “The elevator.”
“Doesn’t that thing only go down to the household trial?” Nate asked, raising his eyebrows.
“Not if you push the ‘down’ button twice,” Mr. Hope said. “It was a little secret no one ever found...well, for a while, anyway.”
They all opened the elevator doors and got in. It felt so empty now, with only six houseguests left in it (and Mr. Hope).
Josh, being closest to the button, hesitantly pushed it twice, and to everyone’s surprise, they felt the elevator go up.
“It really does work!” Randy gasped.
They waited a couple moments. Then a small ding was heard and the doors slid open.
“Ooh, it’s cold in here,” Bruce said, folding his arms as everyone stepped inside.
“Not if you’ve got fur,” Leroy replied, not affected by the sudden temperature drop at all.
“You try being cold-blooded,” Brayden muttered, rubbing his arms to keep warm.
Inside the fifth floor, or the “attic”, according to Mr. Hope, was just one large room that took up the entire floor. Stacked near and against the walls were piles of junk that you’d usually find in an attic: old clothes, cabinets, and furniture. It was very messy, but there was still room to walk, as the room was very wide.
“This room needs to be kept cold for a reason,” Mr. Hope explained. “Go and see what’s on the other side of the room.”
Everyone hesitantly made their way down the dim, cold attic, past the piles of junk that lay around.
“There’s some really weird stuff in here,” Randy acknowledged, stopping to stare at a beaver-pelt blanket lying on top of one of the junk piles.
“What’s that door?” Josh asked, pointing to a door on the right wall. The door was painted half black, half white, with no windows, and a small path and been cleared in the junk to get to it.
“That would be where the mastermind lives,” Mr. Hope replied. “He watches everything that goes on in the house there. Don’t even try opening it. It’s heavily locked.”
“I-Is he there right now?” Bruce asked.
“Probably,” Mr. Hope replied. “He probably knows we’re here. But he and I both know that if he tried to stop us, he’d end up revealing himself, right?” he called to the door.
“Okay?” Randy muttered too quiet for Mr. Hope to hear.
“Ooh, a picture,” Bruce said, bending down to pick up a dusty picture frame. He wiped off the dust, then frowned.
“What’s wrong?” Nate asked, looking over Bruce’s shoulder. “Oh, geez!”
The picture was of all the sixteen original houseguests, smiling together on an unfamiliar stage with a banner reading “YOUTUBE” in simplistic red letters.
“I don’t remember taking this picture,” Bruce muttered.
“That was taken before you entered the mansion,” Mr. Hope explained.
“Yeah, but I don’t remember taking it,” Bruce said, but Mr. Hope had already drifted away to catch up with the rest of the group.
“You don’t remember taking it either, do you?” Bruce asked Nate.
Nate shrugged. “Nope. Maybe it’s photoshopped or something?”
“Maybe,” Bruce said uncertainly, putting the picture back down. Both of them knew it was not photoshopped.
“Here we are,” Mr. Hope was saying as Bruce and Nate caught up to the group.
On the wall was a large, metal, rectangular box that took up most of the wall. Many small square-shaped doors were about the size of Nate, where he could probably crawl into one. Next to each door was a small light, either green or red. About half were red, half were green.
“What’s this thing?” Josh asked, looking up.
Brayden stepped forward and pulled open one of the doors with a red light.
“It’s a freezer,” he said, looking inside. “It’s empty, though.”
“Why don’t you try opening one with a green light?” Mr. Hope suggested.
Randy curiously opened one with a green light. “Why is there somethi--AAAUGH!” he screamed and slammed the freezer door. He shakily stepped back from the door.
“What was it?” Brayden demanded.
“S-see for yourself!” Randy exclaimed, teeth still chattering.
Nate cautiously opened the door Randy had slammed shut and gasped.
In the freezer was Thomas...no, Thomas’s body. There was a large puncture hole in his stomach from where he had been impaled with the giant arrow in his execution, and his blank eyes were wide with pain. There was also a lot of dried blood and some of what appeared to be guts that were seen around the hole that could not be explained in detail.
“It’s Thomas...” Brayden said, peering into the freezer.
“What?” Leroy demanded, rushing over to the freezer as Nate slammed the door.
“No, don’t look,” Nate told Leroy. “It’s for the best.”
Leroy blinked. “Ah...okay.”
“These are body freezers?” Josh exclaimed in terror.
Mr. Hope nodded grimly. “This is where the dead bodies all go.”
“So the green-lighted ones are all...occupied?” Bruce asked nervously. Mr. Hope nodded again.
“So if that’s the case, why are only seven of them occupied?” Brayden asked, raising an eyebrow. “There are ten dead houseguests. Three bodies are missing.”
“Well, Suiko and Mark’s bodies are still on the second floor,” Mr. Hope replied. “The mastermind usually puts bodies here during the household trial, and he uses his dark magic to get rid of blood stains and such.”
“Then what about the third body?” Leroy asked.
“That, you’d have to figure out on your own. I’m sorry.”
“Guys?” Josh asked nervously, looking down the hall back the way they’d come. Everyone turned to see what he was looking at.
“I’m gonna kill you.”
Dimitris was slowly walking down the room to them, the knife in his hand, the same creepy smile on his face.
“Oh gosh, where do we go?!” Randy exclaimed. The path was too narrow to slip past Dimitris without meeting his knife, and they couldn’t climb over the junk piles.
Suddenly, a slam was heard, as a figure in a black hooded cloak rushed out from the mastermind’s room and stabbed Dimitris with a shiny, metal katana right in the heart.
The tip of the blade jutted out of Dimitris’ back, and Dimitris let out a mangled cry of pain. Red blood began pouring out of the hole in his stomach as the figure drew its sword out of Dimitris’ torso and calmly kicked him to the ground. Dimitris let out another yelp of pain as he hit the ground, and he houseguests all watched in silent horror as the figure walked away calmly from Dimitris, who was twitching violently on the ground and letting out short cries of pain.
The figure walked up to the houseguests, then stopped and waved. The black cloak covered their entire identity—their face and their body. The fabric must have been see-through on the inside.
Leroy glanced sideways at everyone, then slowly brought up a paw and waved back at the figure.
“So you’re still not gonna show your face, huh?” Mr. Hope said to the hooded figure, who nodded with satisfaction.
“Let me introduce the six of you to the mastermind, who’s being incredibly stubborn and refuses to reveal his identity until the trial,” Mr. Hope said and rolled his eyes.
“Trial?” Brayden asked.
“To solve the real mystery behind Suiko and Mark’s deaths,” Mr. Hope explained. “And probably something else, too...Anyway, you should head to the elevator. Oh, and if you don’t want to end up like Dimitris, I suggest you don’t try and pull off his hood,” he sighed.
As they walked back, Nate risked a glance at Dimitris, who was dead by now. Dimitris was surrounded in a growing pool of blood, and he was clutching the hole in his stomach in one hand. The other arm was outstretched, the hand loosely opened with a knife on the palm. His face was contorted with confusion, agony, and anger, all in a snarl, and two blank eyes, now more blank than ever.
“Dimitris will be revived, unfortunately,” Mr. Hope said, seeing Nate stare. “He’s a god. However, he won’t be insane, and probably won’t be willing to work with the mastermind again, unless he doesn’t remember anything while he was insane.”
“Oh,” Nate said quietly, and dragged his gaze away from the dead body, remembering how carelessly the mastermind had kicked Dimitris to the ground.
And soon, there they all were; the six houseguests in a silent elevator with a ghost and the mastermind. The elevator ride seemed to go on forever- Nate was beginning to feel growing anxiety about this trial.
Once everyone was in the trial room, it was dead silent. Mr. Hope hovered above Dimitris’ throne and everyone else at their stands. Everyone watched as the mastermind, who was the last to leave the elevator, stepped out, and calmly walked around the circle to Dimitris’ throne, his steps echoing through the room.
Nate’s sense of dread increased with every step. He gripped the sides of his stand to stop his hands from shaking.
The mastermind casually walked up to the throne and sat down in it as if it were his own, crossing his legs calmly.
Everyone watched as the mastermind slowly grabbed the top of his hood and WOOSH! He flung it off in a snap.
Everyone gasped in surprise, and even Mr. Hope looked bewildered.
The mastermind let out a chuckle that sent chills up Nate’s spine.
“So, shall we start?” the mastermind asked everyone, a dark glint in his eyes and an evil smile beginning to spread across his face.
The mastermind was…