Bill burst out laughing.
It was legitimately terrifying. Bill’s laugh was nothing like anything Nate had ever heard before, and it was like he could feel himself going insane more and more as he heard that laugh, which was dragging him into a black hole of despair...
Similar to the way he often felt when Mark—the Mark they all thought they had known, who was apparently Bill the whole time—spoke of hope and despair.
Hope and despair. What even were they? What even was this mansion? Nate was extremely confused, and it felt like his brain was going to explode from all this new information.
The Mark they had all known in this mansion—the insane, creepy, mysterious, deceiving, and confusing Mark who spoke of Hope and Despair with an airy, light and quiet voice- was actually the loud, hysterical and maniacal mastermind, Bill, who stood before them on the throne that once belonged to Dimitris before he went insane and was murdered before their eyes by Bill.
The Bill they thought they had all known: the cheerful, spirited, and kind Bill that they had all known who had been brutally stabbed in the torso by Peter, who had cared for everyone’s safety-was actually Mark. An honest, pure, and responsible Mark. And Mark was actually Mr. Hope.
“I think I speak for everyone here,” Bruce said, glancing around the circle, “when I say that I am extremely confused, and I have no idea what’s going on.”
Everyone muttered and nodded in agreement.
“Alright, lemme explain something to you imbeciles!” Bill exclaimed, standing up straight with a menacing grin. “Two plus two equals four. Wood burns in a fire. This entire time in this mansion, the Mark you knew and loved so dearly was me in disguise, and the Bill you all knew and loved was actually the real Mark. Got it?”
Everyone stared at him.
Bill’s voice was very different. It had a strange accent that Nate had never heard before. That must have been what that potion of voice-altering had done. taken away his accent.
“So...the real Mark, the ghost right here,” Brayden said slowly, beckoning to the ghost Mark in the center of the circle (who was watching Brayden intently), “was disguised as Bill this whole time. The Bill that was stabbed by Peter?”
Bill and Mark both nodded.
“So then the insane Mark that always rambled about hope was Bill, the mastermind?” Brayden continued.
Bill and Mark nodded again. Bill was grinning.
“So...what was the body of Mark in a Batman suit? A decoy?”
Bill chuckled. “That would be Real-Mark’s body, of course. I took it out of the freezer, took the Me disguise off, put a Batman suit over the dried blood and wounds, and hung him up like a nice decoration!”
“That would explain why he was so cold,” Nate realized. “And the woodchip I found in his hair...was that from Peter’s makeshift stake?”
“Yep! Too bad you were all too dumb to figure it out yourselves!” Bill chuckled.
“It really wasn’t that pleasant, dying and all,” Mark commented.
“You remember dying?” Josh asked.
Mark nodded. “Of course.”
“Tell us about it,” Brayden said. “It might be able to help us.”
“Okay,” Mark agreed, and suddenly Nate’s vision went white.
“Hey, what are you doing?” Bill’s angry voice exclaimed, but it sounded distant.
When Nate’s vision cleared, he was standing back in the hallway on the first floor of the mansion, by the bedroom doors.
“Hello?” Nate called, turning around.
“Don’t worry, it’s a flashback,” Mark’s voice said in his head, yet Nate couldn’t see him. “A ghost brought back from the dead by God can do more than just walk through walls, you know. Everyone’s seeing this. Just watch. It’s...easier than explaining.”
Nate decided to shut up and just watch it.
He heard footsteps behind him and turned around to see Casey coming down the stairs to the second floor-wait, that wasn’t Casey, Nate realized. It was Peter wearing shades and a handkerchief to hide his goatee, with his hair worn differently to resemble Casey’s.
Peter seemed to take no notice of Nate and walked right past him. Nate guessed no one could see him in the flashback.
Nate watched in wonder as Peter pulled something out of his pocket. A key.
Holding a stake in one hand and a key in the other, Peter casually walked up to the door labeled ‘BILL’ and put the key in the door.
The knob easily turned, and the door unlocked.
Peter had a key?! Nate thought in wonder. How?
Nate curiously followed Peter into the room and saw Bill-well, this was actually Mark in disguise, but they had known him as Bill at the time- sit upright in bed.
“Casey?” Bill/Mark asked cautiously. He couldn’t tell that it was Peter.
Peter said nothing- just closed the door slowly and walked up to Bill (Nate decided to just call him Bill for now).
Panicking, Bill jumped off his bed and reached for something under it- the knife he had been keeping, Nate remembered, but Nate saw Peter hesitantly raise his stake arm, and throw.
With a sickening squelch sound, the stake wedged itself deep into Bill’s stomach. Bill let out a terrifying cry of pain, stumbled to the side, and leaned against the wall, hunched over and shaking.
He looked up at Peter approaching in fright. “HELP!” he screamed, a thin trail of blood trickling out his mouth.
“The rooms...are soundproof,” Peter told Bill, taking deep breaths that made his shoulders rise and fall. He must have been very nervous or stressed.
Peter suddenly charged at Bill and slammed him against the wall. Bill let out a wail that increased as Peter yanked the stake out. Peter pulled the sheet off of Bill’s bed and tucked it into his shirt collar as red blood began to gush from the hole in Bill’s stomach. All the blood splatters got on the sheet.
Bill tried to thrash and kick Peter, but Peter smoothly dodged and blocked Bill’s flailing. He raised the bloodied stake above his head and quickly stabbed it through Bill again.
Bill screamed in agony as more blood began to flow. He still tried to struggle, but Peter had him pinned with a strong, firm arm, and more of the struggling now agonized twitching.
Peter took a shaky breath and swiftly stabbed Bill again, who screamed once more, then started making choking sounds. Peter let go of him and he collapsed to his knees, beginning to cough up blood between painful wails.
Peter raised the stake and repeatedly jabbed Bill in the back while he was bent over coughing. Bill yelped and collapsed to the floor, sprawled out as Peter stabbed him again and again. He let out a muffled scream at each stab.
Peter got up and threw the bloody sheet back onto the bed. He turned and left the room, taking deep breaths.
The floor and wall of Bill’s room were splattered in red blood. Nate watched as Bill shakily got to his knees in an all-fours position. Between shaky and agonized gasps for air, Bill crawled to the door and weakly pushed it open. He fell over from the effort and let out a mangled yelp of pain. Not even trying to get back up, Bill put one hand out and began to drag himself forward, panting miserably with the effort. He outstretched the other hand and did the same.
Nate watched in horror as Bill, or Mark, really, slowly dragged himself down the halls between painful gasps for air. Eventually, he came to a stop, and his head and arms fell limply to the ground. Nate thought, for a moment, he was dead, until Bill shakily raised both arms. He put one arm to his torso, covering his hand in blood, and began to shakily write on the other arm in his own blood.
C...A...S...E...Y… he slowly spelled on his arm. He slowly and painfully began to try and pull himself up, probably to get to a position where the message would be more readable, but he suddenly fell limp and his head fell to the floor. His arms slid out, and the CASEY on his arm was smeared.
Nate’s vision went white.
“That was terrible!” Randy wailed, and Nate blinked to find himself in the trial room once again.
“So you showed them your death?” Bill asked, unamused. “Boo-hoo. So sad. Peter had it worse if you ask me. Eaten alive. Such despair!”
“How did Peter have a key?” Leroy asked. “He got to Bill, or Mark, uh, I’m not sure who to call him—with a key.”
“I gave it to him, of course,” Bill explained. Mark’s eyes widened.
“You see, Mark and I both knew what was going on in the house-we remembered everything and all that. Mark thought we were doing it together, for Hope, to keep these houseguests safe. That is until I had Dimitris bribe Peter. The Superhuman Fighter seemed the most reliable person to kill Mark for me.”
“Wait, Peter was bribed by you and Dimitris to kill me?!” Mark exclaimed, levitating slightly higher in aggression.
Bill chuckled. “I had Dimitris talk to him privately. He told Peter that he was the MVP of the house. Dimitris gave him a key to your room and told Peter to kill you. He said that even if Peter was found guilty, he wouldn’t die at his execution. He would fake Peter’s death.”
“Wait, that means Peter’s alive?!” Josh exclaimed.
Bill laughed. “No. Peter died at his execution. You saw him get ripped to pieces by mutants.”
“You lied to Peter, then?” Nate asked in disbelief. Bill nodded with a grin.
“You sick, twisted monster!” Mark exploded. “Both my and Peter’s deaths were pointless, then! We didn’t have to die so painfully!”
Bill giggled. “Funny, huh? You should be thankful that you weren’t the first death. You were supposed to be, but then Ivan had to go kill my other secret agent.”
“You mean Trevor?” Bruce asked, frowning. “Trevor was working for you?”
Bill nodded. “Didn’t really mean for him to die until later on. That night he died in the Alchemy Room, he was busy trying to find the passage to the fourth floor that I told him about.”
“Trevor, too?!” Mark exclaimed. “Was Ivan working for you as well, then?!”
Bill shrugged. “Nah, he was just doing his own thing. It is a mansion of mutual killing, after all.”
“S-so how many people did you manipulate to do your dirty work?!” Randy asked.
Bill thought for a moment. “Trevor, Mark, Peter, Greg and Suiko, Mike, and Dimitris,” he counted.
“That’s a little over a quarter of all the houseguests, not including Dimitris!” Brayden said in shock.
“Haha, great, right?” Bill chuckled.
“Why are you telling us all about this and the crime?” Leroy asked Bill. “Aren’t we supposed to solve this mystery on our own or something?”
“Because the rules have changed!” Bill explained. “The original plan was for you to all execute Nate, and have Nate die and not screw everything up. Then you’d just either live here ’till you die or all die from being murdered, but, since he came back and Mark started screwing everything up and my accomplice went nuts and you ended up exposing me, we can forget about that trial, then, right? Suiko was killed by me. It was just to kill Nate. Ha! Isn’t that ironic?”
“We won’t just forget about the people who died at your hands here!” Nate exclaimed. “No matter who the culprit was for any of these trials, in the end, it was you who made them do it. The casualties for the victims and the murderers were all at your hands.”
“Yeah, yeah,” Bill yawned. “Anyway. Rule change. So I’m gonna keep my promise, alright?” Bill addressed, folding his arms and suddenly becoming very serious. He fixed his sunglasses like he was pretending to be smart.
“So in this trial, we’re going to play a little game. More like a test. A hope test. An ultimate hope test...”