The wind howls in my ears as the rain beats against my face. I struggle to walk up the beaten path up to the mansion once owned by an eligible bachelorette. Edith Goules.
I climb up the wooden steps and study the door. Locked. It would have been for many years. The old police tape flutters in the wind as ivy invades the termite infested doors. I run my fingers across the keyhole, weathered down by time. I take a deep breath, pulling out my bobby pin out my hair. Suddenly, my phone rings, its shrill tone echoing into the night, battling the howls and whistles. I immediately pull it out.
"Hello?" I answer.
"It's Friday night," my Aunt responds, "where are you?"
I prop my phone on my shoulder, proceeding to pick the ancient lock.
"I'm at a friend's house," I lie.
"What friend?" My aunt questions, "you just moved here, you don't know anyone."
"Oh, you know…Irene…" I utter, "she wanted to hang…just teenage stuff. Nothing to worry."
I hear a loud, metallic click from the lock. I wince, hoping that my aunt didn't hear. The line stays silent for a moment. I can feel my heart, thudding against my ribcage like a drum.
"Okay, but I'd like a phone call next time," she finally answers, "you had me worried."
"I'm sorry, it just slipped my mind," I say.
She ends the call as I turn to the lock. I take a moment to fiddle with it. It is an old lock, nothing I had seen before. An old model that companies stopped using in the late 1800s. It couldn't just be picked simply. You had to time it right, listen to the patterns. Any wrong move completely locks the door, bolting it from the inside. Ultimately, it is the perfect first line of defence against burglary.
I press my ears against the door and start.
The disappearance of Edith Goules has always been a mystery. No one had solved the case for half a century. They blamed the gardener first, an admirer. It was always the gardener they thought, but it wasn't that simple. She disappeared from her room, on a public holiday, where all her staff had solid alibis.
As a bored teenager who aspires to be a detective, I live for cases like this. Unsolved, unbreakable and unusual. Both my aunt and my mother hate it when I stick my nose in people's businesses. That's why my mother sent me away, but when I heard of this cold case in Piers Green, I just couldn't help myself.
I finally unlocked the door and let myself in. It isn’t like anyone was home anyway. I step inside the house, the smell of wood and dust climbing up my nose, tickling my nose. The floorboards creak under me with every step as I pull out my trusted torch from my pocket. The light shines on a looming object, making me jump.
"Just a statue covered in cloth," I laugh nervously, "that's all that is…"
I continue down the corridor, looking for any sort of clues that could uncover the disappearance of the previous owner. It would be harder now since time has passed but it won't hurt to try. It beats playing Clue with my aunt and her boyfriend on a Friday.
Soon, I came across something peculiar. There is a door, quite new compared to the others, built with a different lock. There is drywall surrounding it, as if it had just been revealed a while ago. I bring out the blueprints of the house to make sure I'm not imagining things.
"An extra room?" I mutter to myself, "why didn't it show on the blueprints?"
I note it down before trying to rattle the door open, preparing for what is to come. Unlike the other doors in the house, it opens very easily, revealing a clean and simple room, its design different from the rest of the house. An old grandfather clock shoved into the corner, the hands paused at an exact time. Noon.
I can make out the silhouette of a dresser on the left, a thick veil of cobwebs on it, covering the contents underneath. But the room is shrouded in dust and darkness, just a small window barely the size of a television screen by the ceiling. It shines down upon the bed, revealing a skeletal figure, tucked in the bed as if she had been laid for an eternal rest.
"That must mean…" I realise.
And then, I feel a cold hand on my shoulder.
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