Saturday, October 25, 2014

As a Dog Returneth (A Serial): Part I

"As a dog returneth to its vomit, so a fool returneth to his folly." The words forced their way into Eugene Ackerman's mind as he strolled up the walk to Prewitt Manor. Time had hardly touched the place over the past ten years. The only thing that stood out to Ackerman as different was the stone marker over a patch of unkempt grass.

Could it be Mildred Prewitt's final resting place?

Ackerman tore his eyes from the sight and rang the doorbell two times in quick succession. Before anyone could answer, he slipped a domino mask over his eyes and removed the invitation from his pocket.

"You are cordially invited to attend the Lena Historical Society's first annual Halloween Masquerade Ball. Date: The thirty-first of October, 1899; Time: 5:00 PM; Place: Prewitt Manor on North Ridge. Please come dressed in attire appropriate to a masquerade."

Standing there, Ackerman wondered if he would have done better to come in full costume. Before he could change his mind and turn around, the door opened.

"Inspector Ackerman!" the maid cried.

Ackerman stared at her. "How did you know?"

"Your hair! It was always sticking up in funny places. You haven't changed a bit."

Betsy Miller had hardly changed either. She had the same dirty face and wrinkled half-apron; and she wore the same wide-eyed expression that she had ten years ago.

"Mr. Ackerman, actually," Ackerman said in what he hoped was a jovial voice.

The woman blinked. "Oh, so you've retired, then?" Before he could give an affirmative, she stood aside and said, "Don't let me keep you out in this cold, Inspector. Just let me take your coat and you can join the party." She helped Ackerman out of his coat and offered to take his gray gloves.

"I'll hold onto them, thank you," he said.

The maid shot him a quizzical look, but made no comment. "You're one of the first to arrive, I must say. Those that are already here are in the drawing room. You remember where that is."

Of course he did.

As he walked past the grand staircase and ducked through the entryway, he made quick mental notes of the changes that had occurred. The grand piano was no longer displayed in the middle of the floor, but was shoved off in a corner and covered with a dust cloth. Also, the crowd of masqueraders now populating the room replaced the swarm of mourners, reporters, investigators and suspects.

Three women stood grouped in the middle of the room. One was dressed in white and wore a silver mask with matching silver wings. Another wore a light green dress and a gold domino mask; what she was supposed to be escaped Ackerman. The third woman was dressed in the most shocking red. Red dress, red mask, red horns… Blood-red, he thought with a shudder and looked elsewhere.

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1 comment:

  1. Can't wait to read part 2 of the serial. You've got my interest.