#15
THE ART OF MURDER – PART 3
 
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AZURE CITADEL – TANGIERS, AFRICA – JUNE 1926
        
Prince Philippe Azure stands in his bedroom in his private wing. He places a gold ring on his hand as the lean, stunning woman from earlier steps into the room wearing stoles and furs.
 
“I thought I was perfectly clear,” Prince Azure turns to her, “You aren’t coming with me to America.”
 
“You may be a Prince, but  you don’t get to decide everything.” The woman says obstinately
 
“Being a Prince means precisely that. Besides, if I allowed you to come along, you’d only get in the way.” Prince Azure folds his arms over his chest
 
“I promise I’ll stay out of sight.” The woman says, “I’ve always thought Hartford was beautiful in the summer. I’ve already packed my things. Don’t send me off to unpack them while your ship whisks across the sea. The entire time you are gone I’ll be dreadfully worried you were lost at sea.”
 
“Is there no way I can stop you? If you come with, you aren’t to go anywhere near Blackwell Grange.” Prince Azure says sternly
 
“Of course,” The woman says, “I’m not a fool. You can do your thing at the Mansion while I go gallivanting.”
 
◄♦♦♦►
 
BLACKWELL GRANGE – CONNECTICUT – JUNE 1926
 
Emily Peach stands motionless with the Shotgun pressed against her back. Madame Rose is staring at Ben Black , her shivering twin brother. Miss Peach lets the Pistol fall from her grasp in defeat. She takes a shallow breath, expecting to be shot and killed by Madame Rose. The silence in the room is terrifying. Mr. Black shivers like a scared child, Miss Peach stands frozen, while Madame Rose stands firmly and authoritatively. The old clairvoyant’s face is tired, angry, and dripping with rain.
 
“Ben,” Madame Rose keeps eye contact with him, “Go into the woods, now!”
 
Mr. Black stands up and dashes out of the dilapidated wooden shack.
 
Madame Rose turns Miss Peach to face her, still aiming the Shotgun at her midsection. Miss Peach is shaking like a leaf.
 
“He’s been through a world of pain.” Madame Rose says softly, “You’ll have to forgive him. The deeds he carries out aren’t his own. His mind is constantly manipulated. He does whatever he is told to do without a thought for himself.”
 
“He can think for himself.” Miss Peach says, “He’s smarter than you think!”
 
“And you would know that how?” Madame Rose says, “From the past hour of knowing he existed? He had a gun on you for the better part of that. Granted, what you said before about the farm was beautiful, but he only felt the emotions you wanted him to feel. Even you outsmarted him to get the gun back. The farm did sound beautiful thought. If only you actually planned on following through. It could have been a brand new world for Ben.”
 
Miss Peach is silent.
 
“Is it really useful to divide the weak from the strong?” Madame Rose sighs, “I knew what was going to happen on this day. I knew and I didn’t stop it. I tried to get away from this place. I tried to put myself as far away from this mansion as I could, but here I am on the night I’ve dreaded. You see, I’ve had the same recurring dream for the past decade. Not every night, but nearly two or three nights out of the week. The dream has been about the events of this weekend in particular. At first, I would get them in bits and parts and they wouldn’t be in the right order and I couldn’t make any sense of it. But after a while, I started seeing the story in the right order. The dreams stopped being a simple nightmare and began forming into a morbid reality. And when it all came together and I finally saw my role in it. So I had to come back. I knew someone was out there and needed the Pistol. I also knew that my twin brother was still alive. But I didn’t know that he would take the Pistol.”
 
Madame Rose goes back to the door with the Shotgun and the Pistol.
 
“Count to fifty and then come out.” Madame Rose says, “Once you return to the house warn the others inside the house that Benedict Black the Fifth is still alive and so is my father, Benedict Black the Fourth. Don’t tell them I let Ben go, for his sake. I’ll be inside the Mansion shortly. Stay close to me and Ben won’t attack you. I know it must be hard to put your trust in me, but you really haven’t got a choice. Do you understand, Miss Peach? I never formally welcomed you to the family. This is the type of lunacy you’ll endure until your father stops drawing breath.”
 
◄♦♦♦►
 
In the Family Crypt, Miss Brenda Dove slowly wakes up. Her ears are stuffy and her vision is bleary. She can’t move her arms or legs. She is strapped to the metal table. Dr. Hugh Black is seated beside her.

Mr. Ash rolls the electroconvulsive machine over next to Dr. Black. Lord Alfred Gray sits upon a dusty old divan. The old divan has been carefully pulled from the opening of the large passageway entrance, which is situated in one of the large pillars against the wall.
 
“Thank you, Reginald.” Dr. Black nods to Mr. Ash
 
“Will you be needing anything else, sir?” Mr. Ash asks, picking up a black umbrella from the concrete slabs near the stairs.
 
“Hurry back to the mansion before anyone sees you.” Dr. Black dismisses the man
 
“She’s awake.” Lord Gray speaks, leaning forward in the divan, putting his weight on his cane. The blood-stained bandage over his shoulder adds to the eerie environment of the Crypt-turned-Laboratory. The old Lord watches as Miss Dove becomes frightfully aware of the grim predicament she is in. Dr. Black silently begins turning switches and levers on the electroconvulsive machine.
 
“Brenda,” Dr. Black looks down at her, “How are you feeling? You don’t look quite as snarky and confident as you usually do.”
 
Miss Dove pulls on the leather straps that are secured to both wrists and ankles, shrieking wildly.
 
“No one is going to hear you,” Dr. Black says, “Please, be silent.”
 
Miss Dove struggles in her restraints as Dr. Black fits two metal places on either side of her head. The coldness of the metal only heightens the reality of Dr. Black’s true self – a mad doctor hell-bent on controlling everything in every way, even the minds of others.
 
“Hugh, please!” Miss Dove begs, “Please!”
 
Dr. Black looks down into his fiancée’s blue eyes, caressing her soft cheek with his gloved hand, “You always were a bitch, weren’t you?”
 
Dr. Black switches the electroconvulsive machine on. Thunder bolts drive through Miss Dove’s head.
 
◄♦♦♦►
 
In the Hall of Blackwell Grange, Mr. Ash comes from the Ballroom with a dripping wet umbrella. He quickly abandons it near the fireplace.
 
Nurse Silver comes from the Dining Room.
 
“Mr. Ash, have you seen Fivel?” Nurse Silver asks, “I thought he was with me, but he’s gone.”
 
“No,” Mr. Ash says, “I’m afraid I haven’t seen the young lad.”
 
“Do you know where Miss Dove is?” Nurse Silver asks, “Maybe he’s with her. I won’t feel right till I know the boy is safe.”
 
“I’m afraid Miss Dove left Blackwell Grange.” Mr. Ash lies, “I think she intended to go for help. Perhaps the police station? I told her it was a bad idea, but she wouldn’t listen to me.”
 
“She wouldn’t leave Fivel.” Nurse Silver says, “Would she?”
 
“Well, perhaps she’s taken the boy with.” Mr. Ash says, “It wouldn’t be like her to just leave him here.”
 
Colonel Mustard , John Boddy , Yvette , and Professor Plum exit the Pantry. John and Yvette clutch onto either side of the wooden shield.
 
“Are you okay?” Professor Plum comes over to Nurse Silver
 
“Miss Dove left.” Nurse Silver is still confused and shocked, “No one knows if Fivel went with her or if he’s here somewhere.”
 
“She’s left?” Colonel Mustard adjusts his monocle, “Left Blackwell Grange? Whatever for?”
 
“The police, apparently.” Nurse Silver frantically peeks into the Lounge
 
“Oh dear,” Colonel Mustard sighs
 
“I’m afraid it’s all true.” Mr. Ash explains, “Miss Dove went to get help – or just left to save herself. She wasn’t clear. Either way, she’s gone. Fivel appears to be missing as well. Isn’t it best to assume she took her son with? We really shouldn’t fret over nothing.”
 
“I think it’s safe to assume that Brenda took Fivel,” John answers optimistically 
 
“Oui, she would need to keep her son safe.” Yvette nods in agreement
 
“I don’t see why they’d leave in the first place. The house seems safe enough. It’s boarded tight. All the doors are locked from the inside.” Colonel Mustard says, “You can’t see out any of the windows with the curtains closed which also means no one else can see inside. The sound of the rain and thunder cover our noises inside.”
 
“Yeah, things are going great.” Professor Plum looks around, “But that concerns me. We haven’t heard any commotion outside in a while. What if the shooter has found their way into the mansion while we were locking it up.”
 
“It could have just been a quick attack. Who’s to say someone is still lurking in the woods?” John asks
 
“Blackwell Grange is so far away from town.” Colonel Mustard says, “If someone comes up here to attack, they aren’t leaving until they kill whoever they were trying to kill.”
 
“What a morbid thing to say!” Nurse Silver gasps
 
“This is all rubbish!” Professor Plum says, “Whoever is doing this doesn’t seem very organized. I say we have tea and have Fraulein Bloom go about preparing dinner. I’d like to eat at a reasonable time.”
 
“How can we eat at a time like this?” Nurse Silver is baffled by Professor Plum’s audacity
 
“Have we call zee police yet?” Yvette asks
 
“That’s not an option.” Colonel Mustard says
 
“Like hell, it isn’t!” Nurse Silver rushes over to the Study door. As soon as she reaches for the doorknob, there is sudden banging on the Front Doors. Nurse Silver rushes back to the group in the middle of the Hall
 
“Who’s there?” Colonel Mustard calls out.
 
Professor Plum grips the Wrench tightly. Yvette and John quickly hide behind the shield again.
 
“It’s me!” Miss Peach screams from outside, “Please, let me in!”
 
“I have half a mind to leave her out there.” Colonel Mustard grumbles, “Everything has gone to hell since Miss Peach arrived.”
 
“We can’t leave her out there,” John says
 
“She’s not Hugh’s daughter.” Colonel Mustard lowers his voice, “I feel it in my gut.”
 
“This isn’t the time to be the judge of that.” John says, “She needs our help.”
 
“Must you always go against me?” Colonel Mustard takes out his monocle angrily
 
“It’s not always about you, old chap.” John says, “You’re a goddamned Colonel, show some dignity.”
 
“You’re a weak boy trying to act like a man. It’s pathetic.” Colonel Mustard says, “I only wish your parents should have taken you to Africa with them.”
 
“Stop!” Nurse Silver shouts, “Both of you. We need to let Miss Peach in.”
 
“Please!” Miss Peach screams, “Just help me!”
 
Colonel Mustard angrily throws his arms into the air as Mr. Green and Nurse Silver let Miss Peach into the Hall. They quickly bolt the door behind them.
 
“Where the hell were you?” Colonel Mustard immediately charges at Miss Peach.
 
“I was taken,” Miss Peach says, “By Benedict Black the Fifth. H-He’s alive.”
 
◄♦♦♦►
 
In the Conservatory, Miss Scarlet climbs out of the Secret Passage with a stumble and a yelp. She tries to catch herself on an aquarium but tips it over. Broken glass, gallons of water, and tropical fish spill onto the stone floor in a loud splash.
 
“No!” Miss Scarlet screams, quickly snatching a fish and throwing it into the little water that remains in the fish tank, “Edward, we need to help.”
 
Mr. Clay hasn’t emerged from the Secret Passageway.
 
“Edward!” Miss Scarlet is suddenly less concerned about the fish and more concerned with the silence from the dark hole in the wall.
 
Fraulein Bloom steps out of the shadows.
 
“Miss Scarlet, what are you doing in there?” Fraulein Bloom asks
 
“Edward and I went after my stepmother.” Miss Scarlet says, “Did she come through here?”
 
“I didn’t see her.” Fraulein Bloom shakes her head, “What’s taking your lover so long to come out?”
 
Miss Scarlet turns to the passageway as Mr. Clay emerges.
 
“You have to see this.” Mr. Clay motions for Miss Scarlet to follow him back into the passageway.
 
Fraulein Bloom follows Miss Scarlet and Mr. Clay into the passageway.
 
“What is it?” Fraulein Bloom asks
 
“Look,” Mr. Clay points to a dark area where small photographs are nailed against a wooden post.
 
Miss Scarlet and Fraulein Bloom both squint in the darkness to make out the images on the photographs.
 
“Oh god!” Miss Scarlet turns away from the photographs quickly
 
“Who would do this?” Fraulein Bloom’s voice is shaky
 
The photographs are of dead bodies. The blood in the pictures looks fresh. The methods of death are horrendous.
 
Mr. Clay rubs Miss Scarlet’s shoulders
 
“We have to get out of this place.” Miss Scarlet says
 
“I agree.” Mr. Clay sighs, “I almost missed this place. It’s so dark down here.”
 
“What else did we miss?” Miss Scarlet asks
 
“These poor people,” Fraulein Bloom reaches out and tears a photograph from where it is nailed, “This is a child – Fivel’s age.”
 
“Olga, we should go.” Mr. Clay says
 
Fraulein Bloom drops the photograph and follows Mr. Clay and Miss Scarlet up to the Conservatory.
 
◄♦♦♦►
 
In the Library, Mrs. Meadow-Brook peaks around in the dark with the light of an oil lamp. The curtains are pulled tight and the fireplace is unlit. As she comes to the rear of the room, the light of her oil lamp catches the glimpse of a figure sitting on a sofa. Mrs. Meadow-Brook croaks in fright. She turns the lamp back to the sofa to find Mrs. Peacock sitting with a coil of Rope in her hands.
 
“What on earth are you doing in here?” Mrs. Meadow-Brook gasps
 
“I like sitting in the dark.” Mrs. Peacock replies
 
“It’s making me rather nervous.” Mrs. Meadow-Brook says, turning on the lamp beside her.
 
“Please, Jane,” Mrs. Peacock covers her eyes, “I have a terrible migraine. I thought the coolness of the passageway would help, but it hasn’t. I’d prefer to be alone in the dark.”
 
“That’s a terribly morbid request.” Mrs. Meadow-Brook says, “I’ll keep you company.”
 
“My head is throbbing.” Mrs. Peacock moans, “Please, just leave me be.”
 
“Miles and I are getting a divorce.” Mrs. Meadow-Brook says, “I’m not sure if he means it or not. I feel like he’s just trying to hurt me for keeping Emily a secret.”
 
Mrs. Peacock closes her eyes and puts her hand against her forehead, “Please leave.”
 
“Have you ever gone through a divorce?” Mrs. Meadow-Brook asks “With all those husbands, I’m sure you had at least one sloppy divorce.”
 
“I never divorce.” Mrs. Peacock answers shortly
 
“I was a widow once,” Mrs. Meadow-Brook brags, “I was only twenty-four. I married an older gentleman with a lot of money. I was young and foolish to be blinded by the money. After he died I buzzed through that money quicker than it should be possible.”
 
Mrs. Peacock doesn’t respond, instead she begins to tie the Rope.
 
“I’m really not used to being the conversation starter, even though I should be a regular hostess due to my husband’s line of work. But as we all I’m not exactly a social butterfly – in fact, I hardly leave the house unless I have to. I grow my own vegetables and fruit. I have a goat which provides milk. I haven’t figured out how to make cheese quite right.” Mrs. Meadow-Brook praddles on, “What I’m saying is that I suppose it’s always difficult for a group of friends to get acquainted after only meeting for the first time. So I’m perfectly prepared to start the ball rolling – I mean, I have absolutely no idea what to do in this sort of situation. Gunshots ringing, or bullet flying – what is going to happen to us, or when we’ll be able to leave? The only thing I am certain of is that the worst is yet to come. I’m determined to survive whatever happens at any costs. I’m sure we both know the creepy stuff that happens here. I’m prepared for it. I’m comfortable enough with the thought of death that I’m not frightened by it.”
 
“You are shaking like a leaf right now.” Mrs. Peacock tosses the Rope onto Mrs. Meadow-Brook’s lap. It is fastened into a Noose.
 
“My first husband,” Mrs. Meadow-Brook looks down at the Rope, “It was suicide.”
 
“By hanging?” Mrs. Peacock asks insensitively
 
“He cut his own throat.” Mrs. Meadow-Brook says
 
“Did he?” Mrs. Peacock says, “That seems like a painstakingly difficult way to kill yourself. Not to mention how messy it must have been. I imagine the blade becomes slippery and hard to hold onto from all the blood. Did the inheritance go the quickly?”
 
“The money ran out right around the time I met Miles.” Mrs. Meadow-Brook answers, “He had just become a lawyer. I fell in love with those sea-green eyes the minute I saw them.”
 
“Love’s a curious thing.” Mrs. Peacock says, “I’ve always known who and where I could find my true love. I just never had the courage to actually try again.”
 
“You’re talking about Hugh.” Mrs. Meadow-Brook says
 
“Of course I am. He’s everything to me.” Mrs. Peacock says
 
“I remember.” Mrs. Meadow-Brook says, “He was a wonderful lover.”
 
Mrs. Peacock’s face turns red, “Yes, I suppose we did share a romance with him around the same time.”
 
“He moved me into the mansion for eleven months while I was pregnant with Emily.” Mrs. Meadow-Brook pats her empty womb, “The servants here treated me like a queen. Now they look at me like I’m a circus freak.”
 
“Everyone detests me.” Mrs. Peacock says
 
“I don’t.” Mrs. Meadow-Brook says, “I rather like your company.”
 
Mrs. Peacock stands up, “I’m going to lie down in the Lounge.”
 
◄♦♦♦►
 
In the Conservatory, Miss Scarlet, Mr. Clay, and Fraulein Bloom exit the passageway.
 
“Why was that stuff down there?” Miss Scarlet shouts
 
“I don’t know.” Mr. Clay says, “I’m just as shaken as you are.”
 
“Did you know about this?” Miss Scarlet turns to Fraulein Bloom
 
“Of course not!” Fraulein Bloom says, “I’m disgusted by the whole thing.”
 
“Is it even safe to leave? Can we go outside without getting shot at?” Miss Scarlet asks
 
“It was probably just a hunter that strayed too close.” Mr. Clay says, “Everyone is panicking for no good reason.”
 
“No good reason?” Miss Scarlet says, “Lord Gray was shot. There is snuff photography in the secret passage!”
 
“We need to sit down and think about this.” Mr. Clays says, “How long do you suppose those photographs have been there.”
 
“That is not the question we need to be asking.” Miss Scarlet angrily pushes past him, leaving him and the German cook in the middle of the Conservatory with dead fish.
 
Miss Scarlet opens the door, “I’m packing my things and leaving Blackwell Grange.”
 
 
◄♦♦♦►
 
In her bedroom, several minutes later, Miss Scarlet paces back and forth in front of the unlit fireplace. She is very angry. In one hand she holds her cigarette; in the other hand, she tightly grips a sharp pair of Scissors . She snaps them open and closed, blowing smoke at the painting over the fireplace. A cobweb quivers from where it hangs from the bottom of the painting.
 
Vivienne turns and walks over to the only chair in her room – an old Edwardian armchair. The fabric is faded and stained. Vivienne sits down with a tall, queen-like posture. She flicks the butt of her cigarette into the fireplace and begins to twirl the Scissors around in both her hands. The long blades are well-oiled and have been recently sharpened.
 
Vivienne pocketed the Scissors from the Sewing Room on the Third Floor. Looking at them now, she still isn’t certain why she took them.
 
Mr. Clay enters the bedroom. He sees the closed suitcases beside the door.
 
“Are you okay?” Mr. Clay asks, “I see you’ve packed already.”
 
Miss Scarlet doesn’t respond.
 
“Edward, I don’t want to talk right now.” Miss Scarlet says, “I just want to get away from this place.”
 
“You are right,” Mr. Clay says, voice full of panic, “We need to get out of here. Vivienne, after you left, Fraulein Bloom told me that she saw something.”
 
“What did she see?” Miss Scarlet bites at her fingernail
 
“She saw them dragging Brenda away.” Mr. Clay says
 
Miss Scarlet’s heart begins to race, “Who’s them?”
 
“Dr. Black and Mr. Ash,” Mr. Clay says, “The butler is in on it too.”
 
“In on what? Where did they take her?” Miss Scarlet asks hysterically, “Where did she see them? What happened?”
 
“They were out in the lawn behind the Ballroom. They were dragging her to the Crypt.” Mr. Clays says, “She was lifeless. They may have killed her.”
 
“Oh my God.” Miss Scarlet stands up from the chair, “We are all just sitting ducks. I’m scared, Edward.”
 
“We need to go right now.” Mr. Clay says, grabbing her arm, “We need to get your stepmother and leave. We’ll deal with our problems later. Right now our lives are all that matters.”
 
“We haven’t even thought this through. How are we going to leave?” asks Miss Scarlet, “We don’t even have a car.”
 
“We’ve already packed.” Mr. Clay thinks aloud, “We’ll slip down the Back Stairwell. I noticed that Dr. Black leaves his car keys in the Study on the corner of his desk in a small alabaster dish. If we go outside and come around to the window, I can hop in and out without anyone knowing.”
 
“Is it unlocked?” Miss Scarlet asks
 
“If not, the windows have already been shattered by bullets, what’s one more.” Mr. Clay shrugs
 
“Can we really just steal his car?” Miss Scarlet asks, “What if he kills us before we can.”
 
“He’s a murderer.” Mr. Clay says, “This much is clear, but we can’t waste time and let him figure out we are leaving.”
 
“Is Olga coming with?” Miss Scarlet asks
 
“She’s waiting in the Conservatory.” Mr. Clay nods
 
◄♦♦♦►
 
Outside in the Rose Garden, Dr. Hugh Black exits the Crypt with a look of anger on his face. From the shadows of the Rose Garden, Monsieur Alphonse Brunette watches, clutching the Poison in his right hand.
 
“He’s alive.” Monsieur Brunette says to himself
 
Dr. Black continues to walk in the rain towards Blackwell Grange, unaware that Monsieur Brunette is now following behind him.
 
Without warning, Monsieur Brunette strikes Dr. Black over the back of the head with the thick bottom of the glass bottle.
 
Dr. Black falls to his knees, grabbing the back of his head in pain.
 
“Sir Benedict the Fourth,” Monsieur Brunette lowers himself to Dr. Black’s height, “So good to see you alive and well.”
 
Dr. Black’s eyes light up in shock.
 
“You look glowing.” Monsieur Brunette says, “Five years of isolation must have tempered you. Where is Hugh? I’d love to meet your son before I give you what you deserve.”
 
“I’m not Sir Benedict.” Dr. Black replies shakily, “I’m Hugh.”
 
“Explain yourself!” Monsieur Brunette stands menacingly above the frightened doctor.
 
“I took my father’s name as protection for what I did in Monte Carlo.” Dr. Black closes his eyes as he confesses, “But I didn’t murder my father! He’s still alive. He had nothing to do with this. I’m the one you are after.”
 
“Such a noble confession and now I’ve found you.” Monsieur Brunette sighs, “The only thing left to do is get you to confess publically and exonerate my name. If you refuse I’ll kill you. Please don’t make me become the monster that everyone thought I was.”
 
“You were the artist who painted in red.” Dr. Black says, “The Gentlemen’s Club loved you and your contribution. If only you let yourself give in to the bloodlust…”
 
“I don’t want to hear you justify why you and bunch of old aristocrats murdered innocent people.” Monsieur Brunette says, “I’m here because I had to know what really happened to Sir Benedict the Fourth. Now that I know, I am here to make certain you pay for what you did to Lorrainne. Good will conquer evil.”
 
“I won’t be hanged.” Dr. Black says confidently, “If you mean to kill me, then I suggest you do it now. Take your chance, Brunette.”
 
Monsieur Brunette squeezes the Poison bottle tightly, “You’ll write your confession and drink this.”
 
“And if I refuse?” Dr. Black stands up, “I don’t think you have the gall to do anything.”
 
Monsieur Brunette punches Dr. Black in the stomach.
 
Dr. Black falls to the soggy grass once more.
 
“You are a weak old man.” Monsieur Brunette says, “You hide behind power, money, and weapons. But at the end of the day, you are a fragile lamb with its hind legs trapped in razor-sharp thorns. I could tear into you as easily as your Gentlemen’s Club could tear into a whore or a beggar.”
 
“Show me.” Dr. Black stands up, “Show me the killer you are.”
 
Monsieur Brunette forcefully grabs Dr. Black by the hair and crushes his face against his knee.
 
Dr. Black falls to the ground like a ragdoll.
 
Monsieur Brunette heads back towards the Mansion, taking the Poison with him.
 
Dr. Black moans in agony in the rain.
 
◄♦♦♦►
 
In the Hall, Miss Peach eagerly rushes to the Grand Staircase.
 
“Wait a goddamn minute!” John rushes after her, leaving Yvette with the shield.
 
“Benedict Black the Fourth and Fifth are both still alive.” Miss Peach says
 
“That’s impossible!” Yvette shouts
 
“Oh, what’s the use?” Professor Plum shrugs, “Both of their deaths were faked for their own safety.”
 
There are gasps around the room.
 
“Brunette was after Sir Benedict the Fourth.” Colonel Mustard points out
 
“Ben the Fifth was at trial for two murders.” Mr. Ash explains, “He was only a child and was due to be hanged.”
 
“You knew?” Yvette is shocked, holding the shield protectively
 
“We need to find them.” Miss Peach says, “They are probably hiding away in one of the hundreds of rooms upstairs.”
 
“There are only about two dozen rooms on the second and third floor.” Mr. Ash says, “They are mostly guest rooms and the occasional formal space.”
 
“What about the Attic?” Colonel Mustard asks
 
“Sir Benedict doesn’t like to be disturbed.” Mr. Ash says, “He’s very very old.”
 
“You keep him locked away in the Attic?” Miss Peach comes back down the staircase, angrily approaching the butler, “You keep the patriarch of this family locked away like an old wedding dress?”
 
“His chamber is quite lovely.” Mr. Ash says
 
“What kind of monsters are you?” Miss Peach smacks Mr. Ash on the chest.
 
Miss Scarlet and Mr. Clay quietly pass by with their suitcases. Colonel Mustard is the only one who notices but he doesn’t say anything.
 
“Emily, you are overreacting.” Professor Plum says
 
“And you!” Miss Peach points a long finger at Professor Plum, charging towards him, “You locked Ben in a box. He has spent forty years trapped, caged, and kept from sunlight. He’s lucky to be alive.”
 
“The slaves survived worse.” Professor Plum smirks, “You’d know that.”
 
Miss Peach slaps him across the face, “Fuck you. I’m calling the police.”
 
Miss Peach rushes to the Hall phone, but Mr. Ash stops her.
 
“No, you can’t!” Mr. Ash grabs her wrist
 
“Get off of me!” Miss Peach shouts
 
“Colonel, hold her.” Mr. Ash is struggling to hold Miss Peach still
 
“I’m not getting into this.” Colonel Mustard says, “I am still processing a lot of new information.”
 
Monsieur Alphonse Brunette enters the Hall from the Ballroom with a look of confidence.
 
Colonel Mustard’s eyes widen.
 
“It’s him!” Yvette gasps
 
Miss Peach rushes over to Monsieur Brunette, “Oh thank God you’re here!”
 
“You two know each other?” Colonel Mustard asks
 
“Colonel,” Monsieur Brunette comes over to Colonel Mustard, “Sir Benedict didn’t kill Lorrainne Ardoise, Dr. Black did. He’s a killer. He took his father’s name so that the crimes would follow his father.”
 
Colonel Mustard becomes weak in the knees and catches himself on the table. Mr. Ash and Professor Plum help him.
 
Yvette drops the shield and slowly sinks to the floor, shivering and crying. John comes over to her and puts his arm around her neck.
 
“He intercepted our letters.” Colonel Mustard says, “I loved her… he took her. Hugh… he takes everything!”
 
“Colonel, I’m so sorry.” Monsieur Brunette says, “Even more than I was before. I know she meant a lot to you.”
 
“She was my dream – my future.” Colonel Mustard says, “Everything has only been halfway real since I stopped getting her letters. It’s been a drunken haze.”
 
“Yvette’s fainted!” John calls out
 
Miss Peach and Monsieur Brunette come over to the French maid who is lying in John’s arms. Colonel Mustard begins to cry from grief in the long, open Hall. Tears stream down the old man’s face and onto his mutton chops. His monocle sways and dangles from where it is clipped to his breast pocket.
 
“Yvette, wake up.” John holds Yvette in his arms
 
“There are smelling salts in the first aid box.” Professor Plum says, dropping the Wrench on a side table, “I’ll fetch them.”
 
 
TO BE CONTINUED