Mark looked around at everyone, with wide, insane eyes and a grin. “Ahahahaha, you guys are all shocked, huh? I tried to make it as suspenseful as possible!”
“You little...” Mr. Hope muttered, his eyes wide. “I have to go,” he announced quickly, and poof, he was gone.
“Yeah, THANKS!” Leroy called angrily to the air where Mr. Hope had just disappeared.
“Mark...the mastermind is you?!” Nate exclaimed.
“What does it look like?” Mark asked Nate with a smug smile.
Mark was dressed very differently from the last time Nate had seen him (alive). He wasn’t wearing his iconic black and green headset, which seemed to make his hair messier, and he was dressed in a peculiar suit that was half white, half black, just like the door on the fifth floor. He also wore a tie that was striped white and red. Altogether, this was the mastermind of the house. Mark, the Superhuman Jumper. Or did he have a different title as the mastermind?
“This doesn’t make sense,” Brayden said in disbelief. “You were dead!”
Mark chuckled. “Didn’t that Mr. Hope tell you? I faked my death.”
“Yeah, but we heard the body discovery announcement!” Bruce protested.
Mark raised an eyebrow. “Did you?”
Nate frowned. What was Mark getting at? The body discovery announcement automatically went off whenever they discovered a dead body...right?
“Think about it! Where did you find me?” Mark asked everyone, fiddling with his tie in a bored fashion.
“In the same room as Suiko’s body...” Nate said. “Wait, there was only one announcement! Was that just for Suiko’s body?”
Mark laughed. “Of course it was! If you had really found two dead bodies, it would have gone off twice.”
“I knew there was something off about that,” Brayden muttered, who looked like he regretted not saying something about it sooner.
“So, what do we do now?” Josh asked. “Is this trial just to find out who just killed Suiko, then?”
Mark nodded. “Yep. That’s all you have to do! But there’s a twist to it this time.”
“Uh oh,” Randy muttered.
Mark stood up in his chair. “If you can all correctly guess the culprit, then you all get to leave this mansion!”
Everyone gasped. “Seriously?” Leroy asked excitedly. “It’s that easy?”
Brayden narrowed his eyes. “Too easy, if you ask me. What’s your point in revealing yourself, then? Or when you’re simply letting us go, when you wanted us all to fall to despair?”
Mark laughed. “I should have tried to kill you off instead of Nate. You’re too good. I wanted to reveal myself to put you all into shock! And for the despairingly awesome suspense, too! And you leaving the mansion? Why I think I’ve toyed with you long enough! But mostly it’s because you all get to die if you get it wrong! Isn’t that great?”
“Oh man,” Josh moaned. “That is not great.”
“Great for me, idiot,” Mark chuckled. “Shall the trial begin, then?”
“Do we really need a trial?” Brayden asked with a frown. “It’s already obvious who did it. We don’t even need to assume how.”
Mark raised an eyebrow. “Oh?”
Brayden looked around at everyone. “Who would have access to every room in this house, including Randy’s room, where they could knock Randy out and steal one of his suits?”
Nate blinked, realizing what Brayden was getting at. “Yeah!” he agreed. “And who would know about the fifth floor to get the tape and arrows to kill Suiko?”
“Who would Dimitris try to cover up by tricking everyone into executing Nate?” Brayden asked again. “It’s already obvious. You, Mark, are the culprit.”
Everyone turned to look at Mark, who rolled his eyes. “Wow. You guys are no fun. So if I did it, then explain to me how I did everything, like, kidnapping Suiko and slashing him open in the most despairingly way possible.”
“Okay, then,” Brayden said, glaring at Mark. “First off, you must have gotten into Randy’s room with a key of some sort, as the mastermind of the house. You waited for him to return so you could knock him out, lock him in the closet, and steal a suit.”
“Then,” Nate continued, “you must have put the suit on, and gone up to the third floor and locked Randy in the closet, tying him up with more material from the attic, and gone back down to the second floor, hung your cape up on the hook and pretended to be dead.”
A big grin was beginning to spread on Mark’s face. “Yeah? Go on!”
“Um...” Leroy said uncertainly, “Then, Greg must have seen you and turned into Suiko. Then he went to get everyone, but nobody came so he went back to you alone. Then you must have pulled out a bow and arrow and shot him in the neck, right?”
“That would explain why he didn’t look tortured, then!” Josh exclaimed. “He would have looked agonized if he had been alive while those cuts were made.”
“Then you must have started cutting him with a knife or something and taped the dead body up to the door,” Bruce continued. “You locked the door while preparing his body, and that’s when Nate tried to unlock the door the first time. The second time, when we saw the blood coming out of the door, was when you must have been taping him up!”
Mark chuckled. “This is so despairingly exciting!”
“Stop saying despairingly,” Leroy grumbled.
“Wait, but there was no knife at the crime scene,” Nate told Bruce. “And no one found a bloody knife anywhere, right?”
Everyone glanced around and shook their heads.
“Then what was the weapon used to cut Suiko?” Nate asked.
“Mmm, yeah, how was that feat ever accomplished? Oh my,” Mark sighed dramatically, creating a strong “really-deserves-to-be-punched-in-the-face” impulse for everyone.
“Maybe there were weapons already in the room?” Brayden suggested.
Randy raised an eyebrow. “Like what?”
“The sword,” Leroy said, realizing what Brayden meant. “The sword Thomas hid behind the painting. Nobody ever took it back.”
“How would you know?” Bruce asked, frowning.
“Um, I left it there,” Leroy muttered. “I thought it should stay there.”
“Not to kill anyone, I hope?” Nate asked, raising his eyebrows.
“HOPE,” Mark called.
“Of course not!” Leroy replied hotly. “It was kinda like a little...thing to remember Thomas by.”
“Anyway, so then Mark must have used the sword to cut,” Josh said quickly, trying to change the awkward subject.
“Yeah. Then all he had to do was wait for us to break down the door,” Brayden said. “He probably taped Suiko up so that the body would sort of jump out when we finally opened the door. I don’t think he expected the teleporting to come into play.”
“Then was dressing in the Batman suit just to confuse us?” Josh asked.
Nate nodded. “I’m pretty sure. Just look at the crime; it all adds up. The ‘double’ murders, the way Suiko was killed, the word ‘DESPAIR’ written in blood on the walls, the blood smears on the walls, the way the body was set out to scare us. All of this was ultimately to just put us into despair. Something the mastermind would definitely do.”
“But why about the blood smears?” Randy asked. “If Suiko was just killed with the arrow, how was that blood smeared everywhere?”
“Maybe all the blood wasn’t entirely his?” Leroy suggested.
“Yeah, because everyone just has spare blood lying around,” Randy agreed sarcastically.
“I think Leroy’s onto something, though,” Brayden said. “Was there any other living thing that could have been killed for extra blood?”
“The cow!” Nate exclaimed. “There were blood splatters by its pen, and it was gone. It must have been killed and had its blood used for the extra smears on the walls.”
“I bet the whole purpose of that cow was to help with Mark’s plan all along!” Randy exclaimed.
Mark laughed. “This is a really good trial! Wow!”
“Then it all adds up, right?” Brayden said. “Mark is our culprit. He killed Suiko and faked his death to set us all into despair.”
“What about his body, though?” Nate interjected. “It was cold. And...lifeless. It was definitely dead.”
“Well, it was Mark, right?” Bruce pointed out. “Does anyone else remember how Mike said Mark had been drinking some potion? I’m not good with potions, but maybe there was a potion that would make his body cold, or slow down his heartbeat to make him seem dead or something.”
“That might be it,” Randy said, nodding.
“Then is everyone ready to vote?” Mark asked with a large grin.
“Why do you look so excited?” Brayden asked with a glare. “We’re about to vote for you, so you’re about to die.”
“Haha! But think of the despair that comes with death! Whether it’s happening to me or someone else, it’s pure despair!” Mark exclaimed.
“You really are an insane freak,” Leroy muttered in disgust.
“Then let’s vote,” Nate said.
Just then a voice called out, “STOP!”
Everyone paused, even Mark, and looked around, but there was no one else to be seen.
“This has gone on long enough,” Mr. Hope’s voice rang out through the room. “It’s time I revealed my identity to everyone in this mansion, you sick, twisted freak!”
Mark glared at the ceiling, as Mr. Hope was invisible. “Ha. You’re kidding, right? You’re too late. They’re already about to vote for the culprit.”
A white mist began to form in the center of the circle that the sixteen podiums stood in. Everyone watched in shock as the mist slowly began to form two ghostly, white feet. But it wasn’t just a silhouette. It was an actual person’s shoes.
The mist continued to go up, forming the translucent white ghost legs, and a torso, and the arms and neck...
Everyone was speechless as Mr. Hope was finally revealed. Nate could nearly tell who it was by the body. That person was Mr. Hope?! Nate thought in shock. Mark looked furious.
Finally, the mist had formed the face of the true Mr. Hope.
But he wasn’t Mr. Hope anymore.
Mr. Hope’s identity had been revealed. And his name was Mark.
“What?!” Bruce exclaimed, eyes wide. “But...you’re...?”
Nate stared in shock. The ghost was definitely Mark. Regular Mark. White tee, gray pants, black shoes, headphones, and sidebangs. He was standing tall and glaring determinedly at the other Mark who sat upon his mastermind throne, looking enraged.
“Listen to me, everyone,” The ghost-Mark said. “You have to believe me. I am the real Mark, the true Hope of this mansion. The mastermind you see is a fake. He’s been pretending to be me this entire time, and I was pretending to be him. I was tricked and killed a long time ago, disguised as him. The dead body you saw wasn’t him acting; it was my dead body with the disguise taken off. The announcement didn’t go off because you had seen it before.”
“Wait...so you’re saying that the mastermind Mark is a fake?!” Josh exclaimed.
Ghost-Mark nodded, gaze fixed on Mastermind-Mark. “Not just now. This entire time. From the start of this mansion. The insane Mark that you knew was him all along.”
“Then who were you?!” Brayden asked.
“I’ll tell you,” Ghost-Mark said.
“You wouldn’t dare!” Mastermind Mark exclaimed angrily.
“Either you reveal yourself, or I tell them myself!” Ghost-Mark hissed.
The two Mark’s glared angrily at each other, like cats bristling before a fight. Finally, Mastermind Mark sat back in his chair and growled, “Fine. But I’m changing the rules, then.”
“Huh?” Ghost Mark asked, eyes narrowing.
Mastermind Mark grinned. “You must obviously know by now-I was just trying to get everyone to vote Mark guilty, and since I’m not Mark, they would have lost. Now they would just vote for me since they know I did it.”
Mastermind Mark chuckled. “Haha! So to win this time, you’re all gonna have to do the ULTIMATE HOPE TEST! Now if you’ll excuse me...” He trailed off and pulled a small glass vial out of his pocket. The liquid was a metallic, yellow-orangey color.
“Voice changer,” he explained. “This is the antidote.” He popped it open, drank, and then began laughing like a maniac. His voice became horribly distorted, going up and down octaves, getting louder and softer, getting cut off at some points. Nate had a feeling you weren’t supposed to speak while the potion undid itself, but Mastermind Mark obviously didn’t care.
“HAhahaHA HAH A HaHAhahAH AHAHAHA HAHAHAhAhahAH AHAhahAhAhaAH A HAHAHA HAHahA HA!”
Finally, Mastermind Mark stopped laughing with a happy sigh. With a devilish grin, he threw off his hair, which Nate realized had been a wig, revealing an entirely different head of hair underneath, and pulled a pair of shades from his pocket, flicking them open and putting them over his wide, insane eyes.
“This time, let’s really get this thing started!” The mastermind exclaimed, in a voice, Nate had never heard before. But that didn’t matter, because Nate was in utter shock.
The true mastermind of this mansion wasn’t Mark after all.