The Dining Hall was silent that afternoon after the Trial. Nobody was in the mood to eat, after seeing Trevor and Ivan, but everyone was still sitting at the tables, silently sharing each other’s dread and despair.
“Attention, Houseguests!” Dimitris’ voice boomed throughout the house. “I have a surprise for you! Head to the hallway past the Alchemy Room, please! Hehe!”
Everyone exchanged glances, and slowly got up from their tables and followed Dimitris’ instructions.
This particular hallway had been where the barred-off staircase had been, except now the staircase wasn’t barred.
“Yup! This is your reward for surviving a trial! You get to access another floor of the mansion!” Dimitris’ voice explained.
“Disgusting,” Thomas muttered. “We’re being rewarded for basically ignoring the death of one of our peers and causing the death of another. Trevor’s corpse isn’t there anymore. I checked.”
“I-it wasn’t our fault,” Bill explained. “And it wasn’t Ivan’s fault. It’s Dimitris’ fault for making us come here and do this.”
Everyone nodded grimly in silent agreement. “So, let’s head on up,” Nate said, and everyone walked up the staircase. The first floor of the house, that they had already explored, had one hallway on the western side that led to the Alchemy Room and the elevator to the Household Trial. On the eastern side were the Dining Hall, Kitchen, and front door (which was very heavily barred and barricaded like the house’s windows). In the middle were the bedrooms.
So, on the second floor, who knew what to expect?
The staircase led the fourteen guys to a large Living Room area. It had many large, fancy, and comfortable looking sofas and chairs and a warm fireplace. On the wall to the left was a large classic painting of a woman sitting in front of a scenic view. There were many tall windows on the right wall, which had, of course, been barricaded with iron bars.
On the far wall, opposite the staircase, was a large doorway (with no actual door) that led to a hallway. The rooms found in the hallways were a large elegant-looking master bathroom, a spacey room with a piano, and some sort of Study Room with some bookshelves and a writing desk, although not as many books as the Alchemy Room downstairs.
“This place is huge,” Bruce said in awe after they had all finished exploring.
“This is still messed up, big time,” Peter growled with crossed arms.
“Hey, but it’s still a pretty cool place, right?” Greg pointed out in an attempt to lift the mood.
“Pretty cool place to commit a murder. I’m going back to the Dining Hall,” Thomas growled, heading back towards the stairs. Peter, Leroy, Casey, Randy, and Brayden all followed.
“Well, sure, this house is really twisted and sick, but shouldn’t we enjoy it while we can?” Bill asked as everyone turned to look over at him.
“That’s what I do. Just try and be positive, and make the most out of it,” He explained.
Seto gave a small smile. “You’re right, Bill. It’s pretty bad here, but it’s not all bad. If we die, we die in this beautifully designed mansion.”
Nate’s stomach growled loudly.
“Whoa! What was that?!” Mike asked with a laugh.
“Hey, I never got to eat breakfast today! Don’t blame me!” Nate said with a big smile.
“Alright, let’s head down for dinner, then!” Greg declared happily. “I already checked the kitchen, Dimitris had the courtesy to not put any melons in our food stock!”
Everyone laughed, heading down the stairs. Their hearts could never forget Trevor and Ivan, but at least their minds could for now.
Nate started devouring his long-awaited potato. He hadn’t realized how hungry he had been.
“Whoa, breathe for a second, dude!” Casey said with a laugh.
Bill’s enthusiasm seemed to have spread to the whole mansion.
“Tell that to Leroy!” Thomas exclaimed. “He ate three fish already. Raw!
“Ugh, gross, Leroy!” Mark exclaimed.
“What? I like them raw,” Leroy said with a shrug as he bit the head off his fourth fish. “You’re lucky the food restocks daily!” Brayden teased.
Everyone was happy. Or as close to happy as they could get.
In this mansion, true happiness was nonexistent. But they could at least raise their spirits, while deep down they knew it would end soon when another murder happened. Behind those fourteen smiles, thirteen wondered in the back of their minds if they would be next. One mind, however, was already planning his crime.
The next few days were pretty uneventful. It felt almost...natural that they were living together in this mansion. Everyone was at peace, but everyone was still wondering how much longer their happiness would last. Everyone tried to follow Bill’s words and enjoy it while it lasted. Everyone seemed to be bonding closer, everyone becoming more friendly. Some even becoming really close friends, like Thomas and Leroy or Bruce and Seto.
Nate, like everyone else, worried and wondered in the back of his mind, but tried his best to push it away. Still, be cautious, but don’t be despairing.
It was getting late one day, and while many people were still chatting, Nate was about to head for bed early, since it was almost ten o’clock. A couple of others already had.
As he walked out of the Dining Hall down the hallway to the bedrooms, he squeezed his eyes shut, stretched his arms up, and gave a big yawn.
Then, he tripped over something.
He instinctively threw out his hands to stop him from hitting the ground, but his knees still banged the floor hard, and he winced. He adjusted his glasses and rose to his feet, sighing and brushing himself off. He turned around to see what he had tripped on, and screamed, leaping back in shock and fear.