Nate woke up feeling as if he had gotten no sleep at all.
He felt achy and tired, the image of Peter disappearing under the mob of mutants flashing through his mind, along with the images of Ivan surrounded by black powder, and Trevor and Bill lying dead on the ground.
Why were they here? What was Dimitris’ purpose for doing this? Was this real?
Before Nate knew it, he could feel his eyes tearing up. He sat up in bed and blinked back his tears. With a deep sigh, he grabbed his glasses off his nightstand and put them on. He got up and headed out the door and down the hall towards the kitchen, vowing to himself to always watch where he was going from now on.
The worst feeling of fear, shock, and, well, despair, that Nate had ever experienced so far was definitely tripping over something with your eyes squeezed shut from stretching while you walked, then getting up to realize you had tripped over your friend’s bloody, punctured corpse.
In the Dining Hall, Nate was surprised yet not surprised at all to find it dead silent, although most of the houseguests were here already. The last couple of days it had been bustling with energy, of course, before…
Nate silently took his seat at one of the tables, once again losing his appetite. Most of the others didn’t seem to be eating, either. Even Leroy only ate one raw fish that morning (the bacca’s large appetite usually consisted of 4-6 per meal).
It was a couple of minutes after Nate arrived that everyone seemed to have gathered for “breakfast” (breakfast basically meaning sulking and staring at empty plates).
“Hel-Iooo?!” A familiar, irritating voice called from the stage, and Dimitris suddenly appeared, crossing his arms and looking annoyed.
“Are you all just gonna sit there and look sad all day? I don’t pity anybody, you know!”
“Go away, Dimitris,” Thomas muttered. Nate looked over and saw that Thomas’s fists were clenched.
“Now, now, that’s not a very good way to treat your host, is it, Thomas?” Dimitris scolded mockingly. “Seriously, though, you guys look so dull! I can’t believe that you’re all...never mind. But, anyway, I just dropped by to give you all something to lift your spirits...or give you motivation!”
“What...what is it?” Seto asked suspiciously. Dimitris chuckled. “Can’t tell! It’s a surprise. It’s on the third floor, which, by the way, you can access now!”
Everyone was silent.
Dimitris sighed exasperatedly. “Wow, seriously, what’s wrong with you guys? This is exactly why we need a motive. Now, go explore the third floor, and whoever doesn’t, I’m going to smash to a pulp!”
Everyone exchanged pained, weary glances, and left the Dining Hall, heading up the stairs to the second floor. Right next to the stairs on the second floor that went right back down to the first floor was another staircase leading to the third floor. The staircase had originally been barred off, but now the bars had disappeared, with nothing stopping the houseguests from proceeding.
“B-before we go up,” Nate called as everyone began to proceed. They all halted and glanced back at him.
“I just...l just wanted to say that...if Bill were here...do you guys think he’d want us to sulk like this after every murder?” Nate asked the group.
Everyone blinked and exchanged glances.
“Nate’s right,” Bruce agreed.
“Bill wanted to help us to the end...he wouldn’t be the person to want others to suffer because of him,” Randy added.
“And Peter too!” Mark exclaimed. “It’s not Peter’s fault that Bill is dead. Peter may have stabbed Bill, but who made him stab Bill? Dimitris.” Everyone nodded in agreement.
“Whatever happens...we should remember, but not grieve for too long,” Leroy said. Everyone nodded and headed up the stairs to the third floor with newfound strength.
When they reached the third floor, there was only a hallway with a couple doors awaiting everyone. All the doors had brass plaques on them with different labels
“Hey, these doors are labeled,” Greg noticed, walking up to the nearest door. “This one reads...lounge,” he said and pushed open the door. A big, childish grin appeared on his face. “Oooh, there’s a hot tub!”
“Is it big?” Brayden asked excitedly, peeking into the room too. “Ooh, it is pretty fancy in here,” the amphibian remarked.
“Come on, there’s no time to swim right now,” Mark pointed out.
“Hot tubs aren’t for swimming. Pools are for swimming...” Brayden pointed out but followed everyone with Greg obediently.
“The room next door says ‘closet’,” Mike reported, pushing open the door. He immediately took a step back and coughed. “Ugh! It’s dusty!”
Nate peeked inside and saw a dark, crowded, and dusty room, which, although it was filled with old cabinets, it seemed relatively large in size.
“What’s in these cabinets?” Josh asked, stepping inside and opening the nearest cabinet eagerly. “Ugh, it’s all useless stuff, like paper and yarn,” he said disappointingly, holding up some of the contents for everyone to see.
“Yup,” Thomas confirmed, opening another cabinet. “It’s all just useless stuff, the kind of stuff you always forget to throw away.”
“Oh, well,” Randy sighed. “There’s one more room on this hallway, right?”
“Yeah, let’s go,” Seto said, and everyone headed down the hallway to the last door.
“Ooh! It says Movie Theater!” Greg said excitedly.
“Wow, really? Open it up!” Leroy told him eagerly. Greg did as he said, and the houseguests poured into the theater.
The theater wasn’t large, but it wasn’t small either. It could easily hold all of them. It was dimly lit, and there was a large screen on the wall they were facing.
“This is kind of cool,” Casey remarked. “Think there’re any movies around we can watch?”
“Hahaha! This is your lucky day, then!” Dimitris exclaimed, popping up out of nowhere in front of them.
“Gah! What do you want?!” Leroy asked in a hostile tone.
“Well, I’m here to show you your motive!” Dimitris exclaimed. “If you could please quietly seat yourselves? And no talking towards the duration of the screening. Or I might just have to drive a javelin through your skull! Hehe!” With that, he disappeared.
The houseguests quietly seated themselves, and the screen suddenly came to life.
A bright blue screen appeared, with a faint pattern of a music sheet in the background. The words ‘CaseySings’ appeared onscreen in fancy cursive. The image faded.
The scene was in a small recording studio. Sitting in there behind a microphone was Casey.
“Hey guys, Casey here, and I am going to be singing to you one of my absolute favorite songs. Here goes nothing!” Casey’s voice announced cheerfully.
A piano melody started playing in the background.
What the heck...? was all Nate could think as he watched Casey sing happily, and carefree. Looking over at Casey, he was able to see that he was just as confused as Nate.
The song went on for a good three minutes, and it was actually pretty moving. Nate would have been sniffling if he wasn’t so dumbstruck.
As soon as the video ended, another began playing. A cartoon Thomas leaped up onto view in front of a grassy background. “YEAH!” He yelled, pulling a bow and arrows out from behind his back.
“Hey, what’s going on dudes? It’s Thomas here with Leroy and Mike, and today we’re going to do the Five Can Challenge!!” Thomas exclaimed.
“Yeah! Let’s impale some metal!” Leroy added happily.
Nate had never heard Thomas sound so happy before, but everyone watched in awe again as the video played.
Again, it was pretty entertaining. It was more interesting to watch how good they were at shooting than it was watching them completing the challenge, which was still very enjoyable.
Many other videos played, from Casey, Mark, and Josh doing Microsoft Paint speed draws, to Randy and Trevor playing computer games, to Brayden making vlogs. All in all, everyone seemed happy and funny in the videos, and they seemed like...good friends. The videos finally ended, and there was a deafening silence that followed.
“What? No applause? I thought you guys were good,” Dimitris said expectantly as the lights in the theater turned back on.
“What...what was that?!” Greg exclaimed.
“When was this made? I don’t remember any of this!” Randy exclaimed.
Dimitris frowned. “Isn’t it obvious? You don’t remember because you all have amnesia.”
“What?” Casey asked, stunned.
“You heard me. Amnesia. Y’know, memory loss. Your memories were all taken before you entered this mansion! Think about it, can you recall anything before coming here?!” Dimitris asked everyone expectantly.
“Haha...we’re not falling for your despair trap,” Mark chuckled lightly, though his eyes were stern.
“I can remember going to the mansion, but I can’t remember going inside or doing anything before,” Bruce admitted.
“Me either,” Nate added.
“Same,” Brayden chimed in.
“Wait...so...these are us in the past?” Mike asked. Dimitris nodded.
“Finally, someone who gets it!” he sighed.
“So then...what’s the point?” Mark asked.
“Eh?” Dimitris said confusedly.
“What’s the point of showing us these videos? How is this a motive?” Nate asked suspiciously.
“Oh! Haha! Great question, my friend. So, you guys all want to know more about these videos and your lives before you came here, right? How you were all friends at some point?” Dimitris asked eagerly.
“Well...yeah,” Casey said obviously.
Dimitris grinned. “Then kill your friends!”
“Of course!” Leroy exclaimed sourly.
“This again?! As I said, we’re not falling for your despair!” Mark groaned.
Dimitris crossed his arms. “Don’t lie to yourselves. You’re all curious. You wanna know more about your life? You all know your Superhuman titles, but do you know the extent of your powers? For example, Jordan, our Superhuman Songwriter, made most of the music pieces you saw there. The Casey one? The background music to the Thomas video? All his doing!”
Jordan frowned. “I...made those?”
“Wait, how many people know about these?” Josh questioned.
Dimitris chuckled. “You wanna know so badly, kill each other!” And with that, he disappeared.
“Ugh! As if things weren’t confusing enough!” Mike exclaimed angrily, kicking an empty seat.
“Sure, that made us curious...but, it could always be a hoax, right?” Greg asked nervously.
“I think we all want to believe that...but I think we all know that those videos were legit. I don’t know how, but they seemed real to me,” Thomas pointed out. Everyone nodded and murmured in agreement.
“But...nobody’s that curious, right?” Seto asked, looking around.
Everyone else looked around, exchanging glances.
Nate felt a twinge of uneasiness. Were some people so curious to know of their past that they would willingly kill one of their peers?
Lunch later that day had been full of discussions and questions. Everyone seemed interested in the videos Dimitris had shown to them, yet Nate was secretly trying to see if anyone looked too eager on the subject in particular-with no luck. Everyone seemed to just be curious in general. Who wouldn’t be?
But Nate, being safe and maybe too cautious, wanted to be sure that nobody seemed ready to kill. Nobody did, really, but you never know...
“I think I’m going to go to the Alchemy Room and try and see if there are any books that can help us...like the history of this mansion, for example,” Seto declared. “I will be carrying a small kitchen knife while I’m there, so please don’t try to attack me. I will be armed.”
“You’re going to go off alone with a knife...?” Randy asked meaningfully.
Seto nodded calmly. “Like I said, for self-defense. I don’t plan on killing anyone.”
“Seto...whenever the next murder happens, you’re going to be very suspicious,” Mark told him meaningfully with a small smile.
“Who said there’s gonna be more murder?” Leroy asked defensively.
“Don’t lie to yourself. It’s happened twice already,” Mark replied with a shrug.
“Does this sound bad to anyone else?” Josh asked.
“Fine, someone can monitor me if they want, to make sure I don’t start stabbing people,” Seto sighed, rolling his eyes.
“Someone alone with you while you have a knife?!” Greg exclaimed.
Seto gave a deep sigh. “Bring the entire house if you want. Watch me read books. But I’m not going by myself into that room where another murder had already happened without some means of defense.”
“He does have a point,” Casey said.
“...I don’t know about you guys, but I think I may just stay away from the Alchemy Room all day today,” Leroy said. “No offense, Seto.”
Seto shook his head. “None took. It’s natural to be suspicious. But I’m simply telling you all that I have a knife. Would a murderer tell you he had a knife? I don’t think so. Well, see you at dinner!” he called cheerfully, leaving the hall.
“Well then,” Casey remarked.
From there, the rest of the people in the Dining Hall soon parted. Nate felt like he should be doing something, too. He didn’t know what. But he didn’t want to just hide in his room all day.
He found himself heading towards the stairs for the second floor. When he reached the top, he stared blankly at the empty Living Room.
It honestly was a nice Living Room. The fireplace gave it a cozy atmosphere.
But then again, the fireplace was where the stake that had stabbed Bill had been tossed to burn.
Nothing could stay nice here.
Nate subconsciously sat down on one of the couches facing the fireplace and stared blankly at the fireplace. He felt like he was losing it...maybe this was all just a nightmare, a nightmare he knew only too well was real. He just wanted out…
Then kill, a voice said in the back of his head.
For a terrifying second, Nate considered this. Then he panicked, wondering why he would ever think of such a thing.
It’s just this place, he told himself. I would never be able to kill...physically or mentally.
He sighed, lying back in the couch and staring at the ceiling, focusing on the soft crackling and faint thumping of the fire.
Nate tensed, focusing on the soft thumping. Those weren’t from the fire...those were...footsteps?
Quivering, he quickly spun around in his seat, but before he could catch a glimpse of who was behind him, he felt a sudden, sharp pain on his head, and that was the last thing he remembered before falling into darkness.