Carmen, feeling a sudden urge to be clean, mumbled, “I’m going to take a shower now,” and turned ascend the stairs.
Rowan looked concerned for the timid woman, but Carmen’s quiet declaration sounded like heaven to Rowan. “A shower, I didn’t even think about it. I’m next! I feel so gross,” she made a sour face.
Harper was amused by her enthusiasm and agreed that after the unusual and strenuous day they had shared that a shower was agreeable. He took notice that his clothing was stained with sweat.
Standing ‘in line’, again, at the bathroom door, Rowan was first, with her ‘new clothes’. Harper was next, followed by Aidan, Matthew, Calley, and James who saw the line forming and followed suit.
“Hopefully there’s hot water.” Harper smirked as they waited for Carmen to emerge from the bathroom.
When the Latina came out with damp hair and a shy smile on her face, Carmen smiled and walked across the hall to the center bedroom to the right of the hall, where Matthew had suggested she sleep.
“I’m literally dying to get in there-” Rowan posed dramatically, with her new clothes wrapped in her arms. She quickly slipped in the bathroom and locked the door.
Laughing, Harper called through the door, “Save some hot water for the rest of us!”
Once in the bathroom Rowan stripped quickly and stepped into the shower. She smiled as the water rushed over her face and she ran her fingers through her hair, massaging the shampoo into her scalp. “God, this feels good,” she complimented the shower head with a smile as she turned her face away to rinse her hair.
Finished, she turned off the water and stepped out as she dried her body, towel drying her hair. As she pulled the towel away from her hair she continued to scrunch her red curls in the damp towel. She swiped her hand across the foggy mirror and stared at her reflection in the clear space she’d just made. From her neck down was fogged so her focus was on her drawn-out face. After she poked and prodded at the circles under her eyes and took in the hundreds of freckles, she dropped her hands and just stared at herself as she thought about her purpose in the house.
Pulling on her new clothes; boot cut jeans and a yellow swoop neck shirt, she began to roll up the sleeves mid forearm. Finished with the right arm first, she switched to her left sleeve and she paused when she passed by healing tattoo on her arm, feeling a bitterness rise in her throat.
“Hey!” The harsh knock on the door startled her and without thinking she spun around and opened the door to reveal an irritated looking Calley, towering in the doorway.
“Yeah, okay!” She stepped out, turning back only to grab the pink shower towel to finish towel drying her hair, she intentionally bumped into his shoulder as she passed by. Calley stepped aside and stared after her while Harper just shook his head at the black man.
“I told you to wait for her to get out, I’m not in a hur-“ the door to one of the bedrooms slammed closed, “-ry.” He finished with a final look over his shoulder to the now closed door.
After the showers were all complete the house members all came together and decided it was time to take a rest, despite the lack of nightfall.
They’d all stood in a semi-circle in the center of the hallway-
“Maybe someone should be on watch?” Calley suggested.
“How would we decide who was trustworthy enough to be the only person awake in the house.” Harper argued.
“Would you rather have no one awake to watch out for somebody suspicious?”
“We have a dead body in the library, in case you forgot?”
“I didn’t forget. But do you really think that anyone of us killed him?”
“Yeah, clearly he killed himself.” Louis interjected.
Rowan simply watched everyone, her eyes darting across everyones face skeptically- unaware Matthew was doing the same, until they locked gazes. Awkwardly, she diverted her eyes quickly and continued to listen to the discussion.
“I still say someone should be on watch.” Calley fortified his opinion.
Harper threw his hands in the air before gesturing to the black man fervently. “Fine, you stay on watch…”
“Well someone else has to take my place eventually.”
“No one else thinks we need to. So everyone watches out for themselves.” Rowan finally spoke up and Harper nodded his approval, though she didn’t speak her mind for his sake so she didn’t respond to his gesture.
A chorus of agreeing yes’s or approving sounds followed. One by one they started turning to their rooms except for Harper who started downstairs.
Caught up in an exchange with Carmen, Rowan could only watch as Harper descended the stairs slowly. “Yeah, I agree…” Rowan replied absent mindedly and Carmen rolled her eyes and walked away without replying- the red heads response was clearly not appropriate to what Carmen had said, so she took her leave. “Kay, night…” Rowan added as she too turned away, heading for the stairs after Harpers retreating form.
“Hey, where are you going?” She asked as she slowed to a stop in the living room behind him.
“I’m sleeping on the couch…?”
She glanced at the couch behind him and made a face. “Alone?”
Harper looked over his shoulder to the couch then looked around the large room, “Well, I hadn’t thought about it like that but now I’m a bit freaked out, thanks for that.” He chuckled but the uneasy look on his face didn’t dissipate.
“Yeah, well… okay then.” She shrugged, “Goodnight.” She motioned over to the large bay window that allowed all the bright light from outside into the room- silently bringing his attention to how difficult it would be to sleep in such a brightly lit space.
He scratched at his face and nodded once, “Yeah, ‘night.”
Yawning, she turned back towards the hall and climbed the stairs, leaving him alone.
Before Harper could even walk around the couch and settle in, Rowan returned with bedding in her hand, a blanket and a pillow. “Hey,” he greeted expectantly as she came around to stand directly in front of him, meeting his gaze by looking up at him with an expression that made him return the longing look- their attraction palpable.
“Here.” Rowan held out the pillow sitting on top the folded blanket to Harper, her expression dropping with visible frustration – clearly distracting her mind of her previous thoughts.
He took it gently with a small grateful smile that reached his eyes on his face. “Thanks,” He nodded and tossed the blanket on the couch. “Maybe I could start a fire?” He motioned, with his head, to the fireplace parallel to the couch then indicated to a stack of untouched fire logs beside it.
“I think there were some marshmallows in the kitchen pantry…” She tossed a thumb over her shoulder, behind her to the kitchen, a sincere smile reaching her eyes.
“Daisy, come to bed…” Carmen rubbed the younger woman’s back, between her shoulder blades. “Oliver will be fine, but we all need to go to sleep.”
“It’s not even dark.” The blond shook her head, her hands still grasping Oliver’s large one.
“Well, that’s what we talked about, remember?” Carmen glanced over at James who simply shrugged his shoulders in reply. Daisy seemed lost, her gaze fixated on a Oliver and her hands rubbing up and down her thighs, she hadn’t showered or changed like the rest of them. Wouldn’t leave Oliver’s side. “There’s no day/night cycle. It’s not a real house, remember? We have to just go to bed when we all agree it’s been enough time… when we’re all tired.”
“Oh.” Daisy replied, having not turned to look at either Carmen or James and her eyes never leaving the face of an unconscious Oliver.
“Honey, c’mon…” Carmen pushed blond hair behind Daisy’s ear, then rested her hand on Daisy’s shoulder, still bare from wearing a halter dress.
“No!” Daisy shrieked and made frantic eye contact with Carmen but quickly relaxed and looked complacent, “No, I’m just going to stay here tonight… just in case he wakes up and needs water,” She looked back at her lover, if he could be called that. “or something…” she finally finished.
“I could watch him…“ James started and Carmen smiled gratefully.
“See, James will take care of him if he wakes up. Oliver would want you to get your rest, I’m sure.”
“Yeah… okay…” she whispered and stroked the side of Oliver’s face one last time before rising to her feet with Carmen’s guidance.
‘Thank you’ Carmen mouthed to the young blond who nodded and mouthed back, ‘no problem’.
Carmen walked across the hall to the empty room, guiding Daisy while whispering assurances of Oliver’s well-being. As she closed the door behind them, Carmen looked around the room carefully, glaring at the exposed window. As Daisy claimed the closest bed for herself by silently climbing under the covers, Carmen went over to the other bed and pulled off the sheet. Balling it up and gathering it in her arms, she walked over to the window as she considered how to make it work.
Narrowing her eyes against the bright light, Carmen examined the double hung window. She unfolded the bedding and stood on her tiptoes to try and hook the edge of the sheet on the corners of the window frame. When she felt that it was balanced well, she stood back with her hands outstretched towards the window and smiled as she dropped them to her sides – it worked. She turned her back to the covered window to look at the room again, much darker and likely easier to fall asleep.
She moved to her bed, exhausted, and flopped down on it- the mattress creaking under her weight. As she pulled the covers up over her head, to better isolate herself from the sun, she tucked her feet in between the blanket.
“Excuse me?” Matthew turned to face Carey as he pulled the bed covers back.
“What?” The blond turned and ran his hand through his already disheveled hair, musing it further, his five o’clock shadow completing his alcoholic image.
“I didn’t understand you, since you were mumbling under your breath.” His voice was passive but clearly meant to accuse. Matthew faced the other man fully from across the room, his arms crossed as he waited ‘patiently’. Carey scoffed and turned his back to the Matthew, refusing to humor the older man. “Is there a problem?”
“Yeah-” Carey turned back around and was surprised but didn’t back down when he realized Matthew had moved up so that they were nearly chest to chest. “-yeah there is.”
“There’s something ‘fishy’ about Harper.” Matthew raised a single eyebrow in response.
“I don’t think we can trust him…”
“No?” Matthew stepped away, now uninterested by Carey’s drunken complaints. “You sure this isn’t just ‘cus he kicked your ass?” He laughed to himself but the silence that he was met with was enough to have him turn on his heel and face the blond once again.
“He didn’t ‘kick my ass’…”
“Then what’s so ‘fishy’ about him.”
“I don’t know yet.”
“Well until you have something solid…” he looked the blond up and down and made a bitter face as though he’d puckered to a lemon, “Keep it to yourself.”
“I think I worked in an office.” Rowan gestured to herself as she took off her slightly lifted, Mary Janes and placed them at the foot of the couch. She had taken off her pencil skirt, button up shirt and the baby blue cami, now she wore the yellow top and jeans, but still she remembered being dressed officially. She curled up on the couch, her back to the arm rest and her legs brought up to her chest, feet tucked under.
“What about me?” Harper asked as he came over to the couch again, having just put another log on the fire.
She popped another uncooked marshmallow in her mouth then wrapped her arms around her knees. “Some sort of professional, right?” She talked around the marshmallow in her cheek and motioned to his new, navy blue, button-up shirt, not too far from the olive green long sleeved one he’d started with. As she looked him up and down, he rolled up the sleeves to mid forearm and unbuttoned a few buttons from the top.
“Like, what?” He sat on the edge of the couch and crossed his right leg over his knee and rolled up his pants so he could unzip his Boot Loafers and pull them off.
“A manager,” She pointed at him and swallowed the puffy food in her mouth, “or somethin’?” she replaced her arm around her legs.
He switched legs and pulled off his left boot, “I feel like I’d be…” he looked up and touched his finger to his chin in consideration, “-an exotic dancer.” He joked, winking at her as he ate another marshmallow. They laughed together before falling into silence once more, staring at the flames that danced between the logs.
The silence stretched before Rowan broke it again, “Alice,” she began, swallowing another marshmallow. Harper shook his head then tilted it in confusion. “The name…” she waved her right hand in the air, “’ordeal’… I think ‘Alice’ is a good name for me.”
“I’ve only seen blond ‘Alice’s’.”
Rowan puckered her face and rolled her eyes,“Prejudice.”
“How about… Ariel?”
“Why, cus I’m a red-head?” She asked and at the mention of her wavy red hair she tucked a curl behind her ear. “-it’s auburn, by the way.”
Harper shrugged, “I mean…” and looked to the fireplace as one of the logs shifted and sent the flames dancing.
“Well, I don’t like Ariel. Jennifer, maybe… or Triston.” She mentioned the last name with a desperate look, pointing at him enthusiastically.
“Okay, okay… Alice is better than those other two…” He fished blindly in the bag of marshmallows for another as he looked up at the ceiling. “What about me?”
Without hesitation, “Triston.”
“Shuddup.” He laughed and threw the marshmallow he’d fished out at her, it bounced off her cheek. Feigning offense she reached for the same marshmallow and threw it back but Harper caught it in his mouth.
After sitting in comfortable silence Harper stood to stoke the fire, “but who’s to say that our tattooed names aren’t really ours?”
“Why should they be our real names, when clearly Greene’s name is not ‘Michelle’?” she countered but quickly stilled as a thought occurred, “Oh, did you ever put a-“
“Yeah, I laid a sheet over him.” He returned her nod as he took his seat, sitting at the opposite end of the couch, mirroring her position; back against the arm rest but his legs were stretched out in front of him.
Following Harpers lead, Rowan stretched her legs out as well so that hers were on the inside between the back of the couch and his legs. “Do you think someone did know about him? Or even… murdered him?” her voice falling to a whisper at the end.
“I don’t think we have time for suspecting people of anything, if we don’t have trust- what do we have?” His comment brought her gaze to his, her emerald eyes staring into his chocolate ones – as though trying to see into his soul.
Rowan finally snapped out of it and diverted her gaze temporarily, “…but what if that’s our whole purpose in being here? Like, uhm… that one movie….” she snapped her fingers repeatedly on her right hand while she thought, “Clue!?”
“Okay, for one… that was not why they were in the house…” Rowan rolled her eyes but Harper continued, “Two, that just seems dramatic.”
“More dramatic than kidnapping strangers and making them forget their identity?” She huffed and fell back over the armrest theatrically, her head hanging over the edge and her arms spread out like ‘Michelle’s’ had been. “This is a nightmare-” a marshmallow bounced off between her eyes and she brought her head back up so quickly she got lightheaded. “-what was that for?”
“Stop being… just stop talking like that.” He looked more serious than he’d ever been with her.
“What am I supposed to do?” She brought her arms up and smoothed her now, mused hair before placing them, folded, in her lap. “We’re trapped, talking about it is the only thing we can do! Until we can possibly figure out how to get out…”
“Then talk about it, don’t complain about it.” He corrected and Rowan felt her eye twitch at his tone but knew he was right and nodded in agreement. “So what have we found?”
“Barred doors and windows, doors that unlock themselves, pictures of weird shit – two broken, a dead body, and another missing.” She counted off on her fingers. “Also; tattoos, and no memories…” she finished and held up seven fingers.
“Okay, so how are they related?”
Rowan inhaled deeply and with frustration admitted, “I don’t know.”
Harper nodded and leaned forward to grasp her hand, “Hey, we’ll figure it out… and we’ll get out of here.” He offered a small smile though it quickly dissipated when she didn’t return the gesture.
She pulled her hand out of his, “Yeah,” She pushed her bottom lip out a bit and nodded subtly. “I’ll let you get to sleep…” she began to push herself off the couch to head up to the room she was assigned.
“Wait,” he grabbed her wrist just as she got to her feet and she froze, “I don’t know if I actually want to sleep alone… Not in, like, a creepy way… but Michelle was alone… and with Carl still missing…”
She interrupted by holding up her hand to save him from tripping over his words any longer “Lemme go look for another blanket, I’ll take the love seat,” she offered him an understanding smile.
“Thank you…” he said softly and she nodded once, forcing her smile wider before going to settle on the ‘short couch’.
They both shifted and turned restlessly for a time before both settled in their places and drifted to sleep.
I held the gun out in front of me, at the end of the barrel, less than three yards away, a young man with big brown eyes stands with his gun outstretched in front of him. “Put it down, Kid!”
The shaggy haired boy looked no older than seventeen, and his hands were shaking but he had his finger on the trigger, he was a threat. “You don’t understand! No one will ever understand!”
I blinked and the next thing I knew, there was a gunshot resounding in my ears- it vibrated through the air and felt like it shot straight through my heart. I couldn’t be sure if the shot came from my weapon or his.
When I opened my eyes to see, I watched, just in time, to see the brown eyed boy collapse on the ground, blood spilling from his lips and his eyes staring into my soul.
Those eyes… those big brown eyes… empty but staring…
“No!” Rowan sat up straight, her hair rushing to catch up with her sudden lift, the red locks falling across her face until she pushed it aside as she realized the exclamation was not her own but Harpers, who was fitting in his sleep. “No…” he repeated, weaker this time.
“Harper…” Rowan whispered harshly from her position on the love seat. “Wake up…!” She said, still in a hushed tone. “Shit...” She whispered to herself before getting up, tossing the blanket over the back of the love seat in one swift motion to move it from off of her.
She leaned over him, by his face, watching as his eyes flitted rapidly behind his eyelids. “Harper…” She spoke in a normal voice, hoping it could wake him. “Harper!” She repeated, more forceful than the first time. He stirred, his eyes cracking open briefly, as if he wanted to wake up but couldn’t. Rowan flinched in empathy.
Hesitating at first, she lifted a hand to his face and placed it over his cheek, her palm barely touching to his jaw, her hand was tiny in comparison to his rugged facial features. “Harper, you need to wake up…” She spoke softly as she lowered herself to his side, the couch bending under the extra weight, creaking. “Please, Harper…” she called to him again as he whimpered quietly and struggled against a force she couldn’t see.
His legs shifted restlessly and now his head tossed back and forth in his fit. “Jesus…” she brought her other hand up and held his head in her hands, to keep him from hurting himself, feeling the sweat on his skin made her heart ache at his fear but she continued. “Harper, wake up!” She ordered firmly.
Harper jolted, his eyes flying open but his head remained in his place, between her hands, against the pillow. Even as she backed away from him, removing her hands from his face, and sat up, he stayed lying down, following her form with his eyes. “Rowan…?” He breathed heavily through his nose and Rowan folded her hands in her lap. “I couldn’t save her- I couldn’t…” He was breathing heavily and his eyes frantic as they studied her face, needing her to understand that he ‘couldn’t’. “-I couldn’t…”
“It’s not your fault,” she assured and offered a small smile for comfort. “Who was she?” Rowan tilted her head in question.
“I don’t know…” He admitted and reclosed his eyes, trying to calm his anxiety.
“Are you okay?” She placed a hand on his chest, feeling his heaving chest and the erratic heartbeat.
He opened his eyes and made eye contact with her before he reached up with his hand and covered hers with his, “Yeah, I just need a second.”
Daisy turned her head slowly to look across the room, watching Carmen sleep peacefully, her breathing steady. Quietly, as though a practiced movement, she moved from under the blanket and slipped from the bed to the floor. She adjusted her dress as her bare feet padded across the cold wood flooring and she crept out the door and into the hallway. The hall light was turned off, the only light came from the bright light through the small window at the end of the corridor.
She looked to her left to the stairs and didn’t see anyone or hear any stir, she took a step out, towards Oliver’s room as she looked to her right and she froze. At the end of the hallway, in front of the small window, stood a figure. In the contrast of the bright light from the window and her distance from it, she couldn’t make out the face but it was a tall, man like figure – a shadow, really.
“Hey, who is that?” She whispered, still not wanting to wake anyone. “Carl?” She squinted to see the face of the person but the light from behind made it difficult to make out features. “James? Is that you?” She continued and took a step closer but then so did the figure and she shook her head at the childish like antics. “Whatever…” She mumbled and made another step towards the room parallel to hers.
The figure also took a step, to his right, the same direction as she’d just stepped in front of her.
She noticed and paused for a moment but then took another step, he mimicked her. “Okay, that’s not funny.” She turned to face him head on and put her hands on her hips – so did the shadow. “Now you just look ridiculous.” She forced a laugh and quickly checked over her shoulder paranoid. Slowly, Daisy turned back to face the figure and the color rushed from her face as she watched it mimick her pivot. Quickly, she turned to go into Oliver’s room but it also turned and stepped closer to the room closest to him on the same side, Louis’ room.
Shaking her head, she finally reached the door and put her hand on the handle and creapt inside, not wanting to disturb Oliver but for last measure she turned her head to look down the hall one last time. Only to find that the shadow was also halfway into Louis’ room, his head peeking out to look at her – mirroring her actions. Daisy laughed nervously, “James, you’re such a dork.” She called but the figure didn’t respond. She stepped into the room but as she looked at the two twin beds, the blood drained from her face. Both beds were still occupied, James and Oliver fast asleep. Gasping, she nearly backed into the opened door.
The height and weight of the figure had been similar to James, no one else was that size… but he was still in bed. She waited a few moments before peeking her head out again only this time, the shadow was already in the hallway, walking towards her.
Startled she jumped and ran back down the hallway and bolted for the bathroom, it had a lock – the others didn’t.
She threw open the partially open bathroom door and threw herself inside, turning as quickly as she could to slam the door shut behind her and locked it. She stepped back until her back hit the sink behind her, she gasped at contact but as she brought her hands up behind her back to feel it she relaxed and turned to face it.
Daisy turned the faucet on, letting the water run cold, then splashed the cool liquid unto her face, she looked behind her to the door, using the reflection of the mirror. “It was just yer imagination…” she rationalized, no one had been trying to burst through, she didn’t see any shadow under the door, and she couldn’t hear anyone either.
Sighing in relief, Daisy reached for a towel and dried her face, careful of possible raccoon eyes from her makeup smearing from the water splashes. She dabbed under her eyes, threw the towel in the direction of the bathtub edge, and took a deep breath which turned into a sharp gasp at the sound of a knock on the door. “Daisy…?” she heard Olivers’ voice and her shoulders sagged in relief but then she rolled her eyes in annoyance- from getting so scared at nothing.
“Oh, Ollie-“ She began but it ended in a high pitched shriek as she had looked up to the vanity mirror – the figure now stood right behind her to her right, the door wide open behind it- Oliver was nowhere to be seen. The figure was still shrouded in shadow despite the bright light of the bathroom. His hand reached up and grabbed the back of her head, fisting a handful of blond hair for control, and thrusted her head forward, into the mirror.
The reflective glass shattered and it released her as she slumped onto the tiled, bathroom floor. She groggily looked up and grabbed a shard of the glass to protect herself but the figure grabbed her wrist and wrenched it away. She cried out in pain as he grabbed her and maneuvered her so that her back was flush against his chest, her flailing arms controlled by a single arm that prevented her from stopping what he was about to do.
Slowly, it brought the jagged edge of the mirror up to her neck. She gasped and her exhale was a breathy scream that didn’t carry outside the bathroom. The shadowed figure’s face was inches to her face but still remained featureless; no distinguishable skin tone, eyes or mouth. Just a black void.
Tears rolled down her face she continued to struggle even as she turned her face so that she could see his, realization and confusion flooded her face but her revelation was short lived as the sharp glass was sliced across the soft skin of her neck- crimson red spilling down her neck and chest. Her eyes were wide but even as she opened her mouth to scream – nothing was released but her last breath.
Oliver waited after the shriek, thinking she’d been startled by his knock. “Daisy?” he knocked again.
He heard glass shatter and his knock turned into a desperate pounding as he tried to open the door.
“Daisy! Open tha door!” He banged on the door then tried turning the handle again and it opened effortlessly.
“Oh jesus!” He slid to his knees by the blood covered, trembling woman.
A piercing shriek from upstairs jolted both of them fully awake and alert. “Was that Daisy?” Rowan turned to look at Harper, wide green eyes meeting equally alarmed brown.
“Daisy! Open tha door!”They heard Oliver’s demanding shout from upstairs.
“Aw, shit.” Harper made a sour face.
Without further exchange, the two of them moved in unison to leave the couch and get upstairs. Racing up the stairs, they plateaued on the second floor with Harper leading by a single stride. “What the hell is going on?! Harper demanded to know as he took in the scene in front of them.
Calley was pinning Oliver against the wall by shoving back on his shoulders. With his back flush against the wall between the bathroom and bedroom to the left, Oliver held his hands out by his sides rigidly, his blood covered palms facing up towards the ceiling.
Carmen was standing facing the stairs with her arms crossed against her chest but she didn’t acknowledge Harper or Rowan as they came up, her gaze fixated on the bathroom door across the hall from her. Louis was behind her, trying to talk to her but was really just muttering assurances to deaf ears- she was too lost in her own thoughts.
Harper looked to his left to look at Rowan as she came up beside him. She took a moment to look around at everyone but didn’t seem to get much further than watching Oliver shudder stiffly in Calley’s forced hands. Matthew came out of the bathroom, Carey not far behind- both looked distressed; deep frowns and furrowed brows creased their faces.
“Hey, what the hell happened?” Harper called after Matthew, the mustached man met him halfway and they spoke softly. Carey turned away from Matthew to stand beside Calley and seemed to take up ‘glaring at Oliver’ as a personal mission.
Rowan watched as James finally turned away from the doorway, meeting her concerned gaze with his mournful one. Standing beside the kid, Aidan continued to stare into the bathroom.
Afraid of his answer, Rowan didn’t bother to ask what was wrong as she walked up to them. Judging by everyone’s presence, Oliver’s appearance, and Daisy’s absence, she already knew what happened.
She moved forward slowly, her vision becoming tunneled as she focused on the door. James stepped away and stood near the banister of the balcony, giving her a pathetic look. As she passed by Matthew and Harper she watched as Harper’s face changed from willful to one of loss and despair- he looked to her as if catching her gaze and shook his head slowly.
Ignoring his silent warning, she continued forward and stepped into the doorway, expecting the worst but even that wasn’t enough to prepare her. “Oh… Daisy…” Rowan covered her mouth in shock.
Daisy laid splayed on the floor with her baby blue eyes wide open in horror, her mouth agape from what looked like her last moments of gasping for air. Blood stained everything around Daisy; her lovely face, beautiful floral dress, and the floor around her.
James came up behind Rowan again, remaining silent but staring in at Daisy with a look of guilt.
“Why would he do this?” James asked suddenly, his voice startling Rowan.
She turned to face him and stepped back into the bathroom further, if not only to give herself personal space. “He?” She looked up at him to meet his gaze.
“Oliver.” James replied matter-of-factly and threw his thumb over his shoulder in the man’s direction, where Rowan imagined he was still pinned against the wall by the Army man.
“Who said he did it?” She asked and crossed her arms.
“Well we heard her scream, she called his name, and Oliver was here when I got here… covered in her blood.” He muttered, his eyes downcast, while she took a moment to glance back at Daisy’s body, making a mental note at the blood smear around her neck.
Rowan blinked and tilted her head as she scratched her temple lightly, “-so, you were the first on scene?” She asked her tone held a cynical professionalism, unusual to her typical tone of voice.
James shifted his weight from one side to the other, the floor creaking under his weight – the noise caught Rowan’s attention but she said nothing, waiting for the young man to reply. “I mean, yeah…” he shrugged one shoulder. “I was supposed to be watching Oliver and when I heard the scream – I mean, I’m right next door!”
“Thanks, James…” She said as a dismissal which James took and stole one last glance at Daisy’s bloody corpse before leaving, going back downstairs with Louis at his side and Carmen close behind the two of them.
Rowan turned back and knelt down beside Daisy and tried to cover her disgust with a look of bitterness. “What are you thinking?” Harper asked, standing behind her.
Without turning to look at him, Rowan replied. “I don’t know… yet.” She stood and let out a long exhale. “I want to talk to Oliver.” Harper stepped aside so she could pass then stepped into the bathroom to do his own examination.
“Oliver,” she greeted and Calley shook his head at her, whether from silently dismissing her or attempting to discourage her from talking to the ‘suspect’ was unclear.
“He ain’t talkin’.” Calley responded and glared at the silent, bloody man.
Oliver was void of all expression, his eyes half open and his lips parted but he breathed heavily from his nose. “Oliver…?”
Carey scoffed and crossed his arms against his chest, smug.
“The hell you smilin’ about?” She peered between Oliver and Calley’s chests to see Carey.
His face dropped into irritation, his nose twitching. “What’s it to you?”
Before Rowan could reply, Matthew came up and slapped his hand on Calley’s shoulder and glared at Oliver with disgust. “Get him out of here.”
“Where do you want me to put ‘im?” Calley looked at the mustached man with confusion and Rowan narrowed her eyes at Matthew.
“I need to tal-“ she started but was ignored as Matthew replied to Calley.
“Put him in ‘the wake up room’.” He dismissed with the wave of a hand, his gaze still locked on Oliver’s emotionally vacant face. “I knew this guy was nothing but bad news.” He commented moments before Calley yanked the bearded man away from the wall and ushered him, forcefully, to the room at the end of the hall.
Rowan took a deep breath as she prepared to lecture Matthew but Harper called her from the bathroom, effectively grabbing her attention and she wordlessly pivoted to go back to the murder scene.
With narrowed eyes, Carey came up beside Matthew and scratched at his head. “So, now what?”
Matthew rolled his eyes and released a long, defeated sigh. “House meeting, living room, five minutes.” He looked around, just now noticing everyone had left the hall. “Where did everyone- go get the others.” He ordered exasperatedly.
“What do you see?” Harper greeted as she walked in.
“Here, what do you notice about… this?” He asked and stepped towards the tub, careful of the blood pool and Daisy’s hand. With him standing out of the way, Rowan turned more to get a good look at the bathroom.
“Glass- well, ‘mirror’…” She shrugged and looked ready to dismiss whatever point Harper was trying to make but then she paused and stared at Daisy’s face a moment, when realization dawned on her – she snapped back to make eye contact. “Her head is bleeding…” she indicated to the blood seeping from the blond’s forehead.
“Implying?” His smile could easily be misconceived as amusement to Daisy’s untimely death but he was really just smiling because he was waiting for her to get it.
Rowan shook her head with assurance of her following statement. “She broke the mirror with her head.”
“What else do you see?” He asked and folded his arms, leaning back on his heel, a look she’d expect of a teacher. She made note that perhaps he was a teacher of some sort but knew it was a conversation for another time, her realization reflected on her face with a small smile and a glint in her eye.
“House meeting.” Carey stood outside the kitchen, from the hall, where Carmen, James, and Louis were all standing around the kitchen island drinking glasses of water- interrupting the eldest man midsentence.
“Excuse me,” he held up a finger to the other two who looked just as irritated as Louis did as he turned his head exaggeratedly. “Yes, sir? What were you babbling about?”
“You heard me, old man.”
James piped up, “uh, he prefers, ‘experienced’.” He corrected flippantly and both Louis and Carmen laughed.
“Matthew ordered a house-“
“Yeah, and we’re all in here. So when he gets his controlling ass down here, we can start.” Louis turned his gaze away from Carey, silently dismissing his presence.
Carey’s eye twitched and he stepped into the kitchen, Carmen tensed- hinting at her discomfort which concurrently made both Louis and James stand up straighter and confront Carey. Their condemning looks froze Carey in his place only two steps into the tiled room and he swallowed hard with unease. “Living room. Five minutes.”
Rowan’s eyes scanned the scene but saw nothing out of the ordinary in the room itself so she looked Daisy up and down, kneeling by the blond’s side and took a deep breath to calm her nerves. She hated seeing Daisy like this, feeling a knot in the pit of her stomach to know that the beautiful, young woman was murdered- her thought was cut short by a sudden catch of the eye. Daisy’s neck wound, the cause of death; “It’s jagged.” She pointed gingerly to the red gash across Daisy’s neck.
“What do you think that means?” He asked, that same ‘impressed’ smile crossed his face.
Rowan didn’t reply, instead she looked at Daisy’s left hand which held the broken, blood stained, mirror shard tightly – even in death. A moment passed and she looked between all the different marks on her body; the gash in her forehead, the jagged incision on her neck, and the cuts on her hand from holding the shard so tightly. “The killer either hesitated…”
“Or she killed herself…” She concluded with wide eyes.
Harper spread his arms out to his sides before stuffing them in his jean pockets. “There it is.”
“By cutting her throat-“
“No, how did you know to find those things so quickly- and that I’d know to look for them.” She stood and looked at him skeptically.
Harper caught her suspicious look and realized he may have been to bold with his assumptions, making him appear guilty. “It was instinct for me… and the way you’ve been questioning and talking to people-“ He tried to explain his position on his theory of who they might have been before ‘the house’, emphasizing his words by pulling a hand out and moving it with sweeping gestures.
“Here I thought you may have been a teacher.” She muttered with a lighthearted smile though her eyes remained stern with calculation.
“Maybe I am…” he shrugged, stuffing his hand back in his pocket, he too offering a smile of lightheartedness.
The friendly banter fell short as they looked down and Daisy’s body reminded them of why they were there. “We’ve only been here a day…”
Harper simultaneously; raised his eyebrows, diverted his gaze up to the ceiling, and let out a deep sigh. “So, which do you think it was?” Harper tried to look passive but he was clearly still unnerved by the gruesome scene.
Shaking her head, Rowan dropped her gaze to Daisy’s face, “I don’t know yet.” She glanced down at her neck and pointed, “Where’d her necklace go?”
He widened his eyes in surprise before shaking his head, “I didn’t even notice-“
“Hey, what are you two talking about in here?” The mustached man pushed his way into the narrow doorway to the bathroom.
“We’re just discussing what could have happened here-“
“I’ll tell you what happened, that asshole murdered her.” He pointed out towards the hall receiving no definite objections or interjections from the two standing before him.
“You don’t know that, none of us know what happened. Not until we talk to him.” Rowan tried to reason, her voice calm but lower than usual, catching Harpers attention with a brief glance at her before looking back at Matthew. She pushed passed him then and was surprised to find no one in the hall. “Where is he?” She turned back around to face the bathroom door where Matthew had turned to follow after her but remained in the doorway.
“He’s locked in the room.” He pointed to the room at the end of the hall, where they’d all woke the ‘day’ before.
“What, why?” Harper said the words so quickly it nearly became one and followed behind Matthew and the three formed a sort of triangle in the middle of the hall.
“He’s dangerous, that was made clear when he attacked Calley- but now…” He glanced and gestured back towards the bathroom where from where he was standing he could still see her outstretched hand. “It’s for our own good.”
Harper shifted his weight and clenched his jaw as Matthew turned to walk away. “This is ridiculous.” He shook his head as he pivoted to face Rowan who was already walking towards the room where Calley stood as guard. “Whoa-hey…” he whispered and walked after her, taking longer strides to catch up in three steps.
“Let me talk to him.” She demanded and Calley looked down on her, their height difference was significant but he didn’t bother to bow his head.
“No one goes in.” He replied, his voice low. “He’s dangerous.”
As if from muscle memory she reached down towards her waistline, to the right hip but when she realized she didn’t have what she was reaching for she stuffed her hand in her pocket instead – Harper narrowed his eyes in observance but as she diverted the action he looked away and looked at Calley instead. “I just want to talk to him.” She stood her ground and even lifted her chin higher in a sign of authority.
“You’ve got 5 minutes.” He decreed.
Looking between the two, Calley stepped aside and Rowan went to reach for the handle but turned to face Harper, “Alone…” She offered a small, apologetic smile and touched his arm when he nodded understanding before stepping inside and closing the door behind her.