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qaraxuanzenith: She should never have come here. She hated parties. She knew what they were always…

Sunday, September 18th, 2016


She should never have come here. She hated parties. She knew what they were always like. She should have stayed at home. She wouldn’t have come, except Edgar was such a shut-in like herself, that she had imagined there could hardly have been any harm in it. Ha.

And where had going out of her house gotten her? Now at least three people had been killed – people who were nasty or at best indifferent to her, but there were dead people in the house now. She much preferred to contemplate death in the abstract than to stare at its decomposing reality.

At least they were leaving her alone. The snubs had seemed a little too pronounced, at first, but by now it was just a relief. No one commenting on her outfit. No one trying to flirt. No one accusing her of murder. No one offering to go with her when they split up.

The splitting up was a mercy, too. Finally left to her own devices! Not free to go home – the bodies of those who had tried to flee showed that – but free, at least, to seek her solace in solitude. Free to pretend this awful night was not happening, to simply search for her next inspiration.

Staying in one place was not an option. There was too much tension in the dining room – the shouting, the deaths, the pressure of awkward social interaction when they all sat down. Besides, it would be most prudent to keep moving, so she could always be where the others were not.

So she waited as the others paired up, trebled up (hardly an insult, when she wanted to be alone), and then she slipped out the back of the room. Looked around.

It was a cozy sort of room. A den, maybe, or a study. Small, cushioned armchairs. A little coffee table with a lamp. A dusty bookshelf. The sort of room in which she could imagine herself having tea with Death, if the evening’s events had not totally spoiled morbid thought for her.

Instead of indulging that particular fancy, then, she went to the bookshelf. Her first assessment had been wrong – while most of the tomes it bore were caked with dust, there was one that looked quite fresh. Poe’s favourite, perhaps? She tugged it out of place, idly curious.

There was a sharp, grating sound, and suddenly the whole bookshelf fell away, turning in on unseen hinges to reveal a sparsely-lit spiral staircase made of wrought iron. It was pretty, if ominous.

My, my, Emily Dickinson thought, her face lit up with a quiet excitement. A secret passageway.

And forgetting her misgivings, her regret over coming, her dismay at the dramatic deaths, she stepped inside, onto the stair. The bookshelf swung back into place behind her.

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