You wait for the mysterious man to greet you.

As the tuxedo man comes closer, your eyes are drawn to a small stain peeking out from behind his crisp black coat.

“Good evening,” his grim voice declares. “You must be the guests from Winterbrook. The Parsleys are expecting you. May I take your coats?”

Fully aware that relinquishing the garment leaves you at the mercy of the coat keeper—who is likely the butler himself—you elect to keep it on.

The top hat man scoffs as he surrenders most of his outerwear. He carefully attempts to dry his hat with a scarf before handing over the latter. “One doesn’t sit in wet attire at a formal dinner and expect to receive an invitation to return,” he explains with contempt. “Take off your coat.”

Betty nods and you reluctantly obey.

“Right this way,” the butler declares.

Before he turns, you lean forward to get a better look at the stain. It’s a deep maroon color. Probably just wine. You shake your head and look over at Betty. She frowns, motioning you to go first. As you exchange looks, the top hat man steps forward and follows as instructed.

Betty grabs your arm as the two of you purposefully trail behind. You wonder why the carriage guy is still wearing his top hat anyway.

“She could at least turn on the lights! What is this—the dinner party of terror?”

You know Betty is trying to whisper, but the butler overhears.

“Forgive me, madam,” his eyes remain forward. “Mr. Parsley has fallen subject to a terrible series of headaches. He intends to join you for dinner, assuming the atmosphere isn’t too terrifying for his guests.”

He glances back at Betty. She huffs at his unwanted sarcasm as his focus shifts to you. His eyes are cold and black. He turns his head and continues walking. You can’t imagine why anyone would hire such a man. Speaking of decisions, you’re frustrated that the one time you decide to accept a dinner invitation from strangers, it turns out to be on a stormy night in the middle of no man’s land. Meeting the Parsleys better be great. Where is Regina, anyway?

Your thoughts are cut short when you realize the others have stopped moving.

“Your seats are assigned by occupation,” the butler explains as he opens the door to a dark room.

For a moment, you stand at the doorway watching three faint candles cast their oozing presence on lavishly decorated crimson walls. Wind from a cracked window rustles the curtains, prompting a delicate dance of ghostly chiffon. You watch as the breeze moves through the room and demands a lively response from frustrated candles. Their shadows lurch towards each other, caught in a silent battle for dominance.

“Mr. and Mrs. Cronk, your seats are over there. You,” the butler points to a chair next to the table’s head. “Regina reserved a special place for you. Please be seated. The rest of the guests should arrive momentarily.”

The moment his words cease, you hear the front door open and a new flood of voices pour forth. Before you distinguish how many, lightening cracks as a gust sends the room into complete darkness. Guests scream.

“Why I never!” Betty gasps.

“Don’t be alarmed.” The butler’s voice sounds as though it’s right behind you. “I shall promptly restore the lights.”

There’s a click. Nothing.

“It would appear we have lost electricity,” his words are mellow. “Allow me to get a flashlight. “I will reignite the candles.”

“Where’s Regina?” Betty exclaims. She’s obviously been dying to ask.

The butler says nothing.

“Hello? Hello?” she continues. The fine China shakes as someone slams their fists on the table. You assume it’s still Betty. “Walter, this is ridiculous. I want to go home NOW!”

“No, you don’t,” a deep voice responds from the door behind you. This time, it’s not the butler. “The party has not yet begun.”

No sooner does the man finish speaking than you hear what sounds like a chicken squawking outside.

 

WHAT DO YOU DO?

Option A: Slide under the table. You must have dropped something…

Option B: Run for the window. You want to get out of there!

Option C: Remain seated and wait for the new voice to introduce himself. Relax…it’s just a dinner party.

Please cast your vote in the comments section below by midnight on Sunday, July 1, 2018. You can also vote on the Twitter or Facebook posts. The majority answer will dictate where the story picks up next time.

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Join the conversation! 5 Comments

  1. Option A!!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
  2. Option C

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  3. C

    Liked by 1 person

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About Caitlin Smith

Passionate Christian. New author. Loving wife. Exercise enthusiast. Secret guitar player. Really cool person.

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Short Stories

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