#17
DEATH BY CANDLELIGHT – PART 1
 
◄♦♦♦►
 
BLACKWELL GRANGE – CONNECTICUT – JUNE 1926
 
◄♦♦♦►
 
Sir Benedict Black the Fourth sits up in his bed. His mind is racing with memories of the happy family he once had. Albeit brief, the happiness reached its peak when his deceased wife, Beatrice became pregnant with their youngest daughter, Margaret. Hugh was a baby. Rose and Ben were innocent twins – so sweet and lovely. Life was shaping to be quite precise and comfortable. Then Ben murder his nanny and mother… only a child, yet capable of shaping the mental state of the entire family for generations.
 
“He can be fixed.” Sir Benedict thought
 
But can the mind that perceives murder as an appropriate action at merely a toddler’s age be fixed?
 
The weak man turns his head to look out the attic window. He sees the final descent of the sun through the cloudy evening sky. The high turrets and towers above Blackwell Grange are covered by fog and mist. Lightning flickers across the ever darkening sky as rain continues to saturate the lawn.
 
Ash!” Sir Benedict calls out for the butler in his dark bed chamber.
 
There is no response. He looks to the shut door and sighs.
 
“Blanche?” Sir Benedict calls out for the housekeeper.
 
Again, there is only silence from the other side of the door.
 
Sir Benedict throws the blanket off of his legs and stands up, cracking and popping his stiff spine and limbs. He looks at the wheelchair with disgust and strides over to the door. He peers out into the vast Attic. Worldly possessions are stuffed into every dormer and garret.
 
The elderly man passes a gold-plated table, a vintage piano, a torn armchair, a retired ball gown, and several mannequins – all the while keeping his eyes focused on a tall grandfather clock on the other side of the massive storeroom.
 
As he reaches the grandfather clock, lightning strikes near the mansion, illuminating the dim Attic in a brilliant flash of light. He opens the door on the front of the tall clock and proceeds to take a Hunting Rifle from the inside. In the bottom of the clock, there is a box of bullets.
 
Sir Benedict quickly returns to his quarters with the Rifle and the rounds. He shuts the door and bolts it.
 
“They’re numbing my mind, Beatrice.” Sir Benedict whispers silently to his deceased wife, “I may just be faking my death, but in their eyes, I’m truly dead. They’ve taken Ben. I tried to get him help. I hired the finest doctors, the best surgeons, the most acclaimed psychiatrists… but now…”
 
Sir Benedict loads the Rifle and approaches the rainy window.
 
The window seems almost as if it is an oil painting – the narrow frame, the brilliant gray of the storm clouds. The lattice windows are tinted dark maroon on the upper floors of Blackwell Grange to provide privacy.
 
The old man unlocks the window and opens it with care. Rain begins to patter into the room, wetting the windowsill as Sir Benedict aims the Rifle downward, towards the Tennis Courts.
 
He sighs in sadness as he sees Mr. Clay’s covered body through the scope of the Rifle. He quickly begins to scan the edge of the forest as if he is expecting someone to emerge from the dark woods at any moment.
 
◄♦♦♦►
 
In the Conservatory, Emily Peach , Mr. Green , Yvette , Colonel Mustard , and John Boddy all come through the exterior Terrace door. They are wet from the rain and shaken by the discovery of Mr. Clay’s body .
 
Miss Peach is scared beyond belief. Yvette hasn’t calmed down, nor has she stopped crying since learning of Dr. Hugh Black’s real intentions. Mr. Green is truly scared, and for the first time in his life, he isn’t two steps ahead of everyone else. Colonel Mustard is not in control of anything, a concept that never occurred to him. John is uncertain of everything – the family he knows and loves can’t possibly be a family of murderers and deceivers.
 
“What do we do?” Miss Peach wraps her arms around shoulders tightly, “Did Ben do this?”
 
“Whatever happened to Mr. Clay seems far too intricate for a psychopath.” Mr. Green wipes his forehead dry, “I’m not entirely sure what type of message that was supposed to be.”
 
“But was it Ben?” Miss Peach asks
 
“It’s quite clear to me,” Colonel Mustard’s fists are clenched, “Monsieur Brunette warned me about Dr. Black. Dr. Black has kept his homicidal brother hidden at Blackwell Grange for years. I think it’s a shut and close case.” He looks Mr. Green, Yvette, Miss Peach, and John Boddy in the eyes individually, “Meanwhile, we’re all fucked. There is a killer among us and we don’t know where the next attack is going to take place.”
 
“Who said anything about another attack?” John asks
 
“Isn’t it obvious?” Colonel Mustard says, “Clay’s death is only the beginning. If Hugh is the killer Brunette claims he is, then this party is his method of ridding himself of the people he hates. Didn’t anyone else think it strange that Mrs. Peacock’s here?”
 
“I thought Dr. Black and Mrs. Peacock were lovers at one point?” Mr. Green asks
 
“They were.” Colonel Mustard says
 
“They are.” John Boddy corrects, “They are still as in love as the day she left Blackwell Grange. Brenda is a pawn.”
 
“You’ve known this?” Colonel Mustard asks
 
“No.” John answers, “But I’ve known that Uncle Hugh was lying for a long time.”
 
Mr. Green looks down at the floor, “I really wish I had my gun. I don’t know when I lost it. I don’t recall searching my suitcase upon arrival.”
 
“Bringing a firearm to someone else's home is bad manners on its own.” Colonel Mustard says, “But losing it…”
 
Yvette looks over at the tea table with the china that she laid out and covers her face as tears pour down her cheeks, “I was just getting used to this lifestyle, serving and catering to the petty needs… Mr. Clay was just an innocent boy. I only talked to him briefly, but he was so polite. He was so excited for his new life as a tennis coach. His life is over. Our lives could be next… I don’t see myself living through this weekend. I feel like I’m going to throw up.”
 
“You’re probably dizzy.” Mr. Green tries to comfort the distraught parlor maid, “We haven’t eaten well today.”
 
“No one can eat at a time like this.” Miss Peach grimaces
 
“I’m a nervous eater.” Mr. Green places his palms over his round stomach, “I could really go for a bacon-lettuce-tomato sandwich right now.”
 
Yvette wipes her eyes and sniffles loudly, “I’ll go get Fraulein Bloom. I suppose even in the worst of times, a cook still has to prepare food.”
 
“We can’t break bread and drink wine when it’s clear that someone is a murderer!” Miss Peach says, “Ben was simple. Rose was with him. What if she’s working with him?
 
“She could be pulling the strings.” John speaks quietly at first, then more boldly, “Uncle Hugh always said he never liked her sister but he never explained why. I always figured it was because of her occult practices and tarot cards.”
 
“His throat was cut to the bone.” Colonel Mustard blurts out suddenly. The military man has clearly never been overwhelmed with so much while being sober.
 
“Colonel,” Mr. Green switches on a lamp with a beaded Egyptian shade, “What do we do?”
 
“We don’t do anything.” Colonel Mustard puts his hand up, “Anybody could have killed him. It’s every man for himself.”
 
“As much as I’d love to see a free-for-all at Blackwell Grange, I think we ought to stick together. We’re safer in numbers.” Mr. Green puts one arm around Miss Peach and the other around Yvette, “Only a coward would think of abandoning everyone else to hide alone in a cupboard till the police arrive.”
 
Miss Peach frees herself from Mr. Green’s embrace and walks towards John.
 
“There are thirty dozen cupboards in this mansion.” Colonel Mustard says
 
“I don’t think that’s accurate.” John quickly does the math
 
“We didn’t have to hide and fear for our safety until this stranger arrived.” Colonel Mustard points directly at Miss Peach.
 
“Are you serious?” Miss Peach shouts
 
“We didn’t have any issues until you arrived.” Colonel Mustard says
 
“Really?” Miss Peach steps forward, facing Colonel Mustard, “Do we really have to do this?”
 
“Ever since you came to Blackwell Grange there has been tension.” Colonel Mustard says, “If you’re not a con, then I’m a horse’s ass.”
 
“Are you serious?” Miss Peach grinds her teeth, “I came back to see my father. If anyone is to blame, it’s the group of rich felons that my father has running around his mansion. Come now, Colonel, I thought you were smarter than that.”
 
“I’ve nothing to hide,” Colonel Mustard narrows his eyes, “You can fully and thoroughly investigate my past. Can we do the same with you, Miss Peach?”
 
“My Aunt Honey would have a few words to say to you,” Miss Peach points her finger at him, “But I am a kinder person. I’ll hold my tongue.”
 
“I’d love to hear.” Colonel Mustard takes out his monocle, “I’ve never been ridiculed by Southern trash before.”
 
Miss Peach’s eyes twitch in anger, “Your military ranks don’t give you the power to speak for the rest of us. Clearly, what you make up for in bravado, you lack in discipline. Your father should have beaten you until you bled. Perhaps you would have learned to curb your tongue.”
 
Colonel Mustard’s temples pulse in anger, “Well, I never!”
 
Miss Peach silences the baffled old man, “You are a disgrace to anyone who holds the rank of Colonel. Don’t speak unless you have a useful, helpful idea on how to survive this hell we are trapped in. I stared Ben Black in the eyes while he held a Pistol against me. I tricked him into letting down his guard. Don’t think for a moment that I’ll be intimidated by a coward who hides behind badges and medals. You smell like whiskey and piss. You aren’t the man you think you are anymore. You are just a rotting, weak, pile of bones wrapped up in skin and military regalia. Fuck you and fuck your ego. Everyone here is a suspect… even you.”
 
John Boddy smiles widely as Miss Peach trashes the narcissistic Colonel’s namesake.
 
“The police are on their way.” Colonel Mustard grinds his teeth, “Like it or not, I’m sure I won’t be the only one to talk to them about your untimely arrival.”
 
“If I can recall, you were the one refusing to call the police in the first place. Why?” Miss Peach asks, “What are you hiding, Colonel?”
 
“The police will handle the situation accordingly.” Colonel Mustard stares intensely at Miss Peach, “Everyone will be questioned and judged accordingly. I’ll be questioned, you’ll be questioned, and even Dr. Black will be questioned. In the meantime, the only thing I’m concerned with is finding Miss Scarlet and telling her what happened to her lover. If what Brunette has spoken is the truth, then it is safest to assume that Hugh Black is the murderer. But I don’t think he’s working alone. Is it unreasonable to assume Hugh Black may have gotten his own daughter involved with his wrong-doings?”
 
Miss Peach glares at Colonel Mustard with hatred.
 
“Miss Scarlet was the last person I saw with Mr. Clay.” John points out
 
Yvette closes her eyes in distress, moving with Mr. Green towards a small bench near the back door, “I work for a family of murderers and lunatics…”
 
“Come on, don’t think like that.” Mr. Green helps her to the bench, sitting beside her
 
“I just feel so dizzy.” Yvette closes her eyes, “It is like this is all just a bad dream and it won’t end. Perhaps we should get something to eat.”
 
“The police are on their way.” Colonel Mustard repeats, “This will all be over soon.”
 
“In the meantime, a murderer is on the loose.” Mr. Green looks around apprehensively
 
From the closed Secret Passage, Dr. Hugh Black listens intently.
 
◄♦♦♦►
 
In the Kitchen, Madame Rose escorts Fraulein Bloom to the table in the center of the room, Shotgun in hand. Fraulein Bloom stumbles and leans over the table. She is trembling, expecting the blast from the Shotgun.
 
“Have a seat.” Madame Rose instructs, “I’ll try not to waste too much of your time. I just need to sort out a few details.”
 
Fraulein Bloom stares down the barrel of the Shotgun, unable to move. Madame Rose notices the panic in the plump Cook's eyes and places the Shotgun down on the table, relieving her of the pending concept of death.
 
“Please, sit.” Madame Rose motions to the chair, “We can both agree that Monsieur Brunette is a con, can we not?”
 
“He has conned many.” Fraulein Bloom sits down very slowly and carefully. Even while the Shotgun lies idly on the table, it still points in her direction.
 
“So it is safe to say that you have aided him in a scheme or two.” Madame Rose persists, “I’ll admit I helped him with stealing someone’s identity.”
 
“I helped plant a suitcase in a Hotel.” Fraulein Bloom says
 
“What was in the suitcase?” Madame Rose touches the handle of the Shotgun gently with her pinky finger, “A bomb?”
 
Fraulein Bloom nods.
 
“I know the Hotel and the incident you are referring to. I just did not know Brunette was involved.” Madame Rose smirks a bit, “See, even I don’t know everything. I love it when the pieces fall into place.”
 
Fraulein Bloom watchfully adjusts her apron to feel for the Revolver tucked into her waistband.
 
“Who was he when he first introduced himself to you?” Fraulein Bloom asks
 
“He came to me many times for a psychic reading.” Madame Rose explains, “Each time he was living a lie as a different fake person. First, he was an arms dealer hailing from a wealthy German family. Then he returned as a lawyer with a greedy smile. Again he returned as a restaurant manager trying to play it straight. Of course, he couldn’t.”
 
“Did you see through it?” Fraulein Bloom says
 
“Of course I did.” Madame Rose says, “But I didn’t want him to know that. I read his cards according to the characters he played. And when he came as Alphonse Brunette, a romantic, chivalrous Frenchman, I still played along, but to a greater extent. Even to the point of faking my own interest in his romantic gestures.”
 
“You took him to bed.” Fraulein Bloom blushes
 
“I always thought I had the potential to become a wonderful actress. I can commit to a charade or scheme for a very long time. He was a terribly sloppy lover. I don’t care for that at all. I prefer someone neater and more intimate. Brunette – he’s like a horny teenager with his first whore.” Madame Rose laughs, “I’m sure you know that. Or hasn’t he returned your affection?”
 
“Did you ever really love him?” asks Fraulein Bloom, avoiding the question
 
“No,” Madame Rose shakes her head with a snicker, “Which was sad because I believe the man truly began to love me.”
 
“I still love him.” Fraulein Bloom says
 
“Then it's love wasted.” Madame Rose sighs, “Who was he when he introduced himself to you?”
 
“Martin Urfe.” Fraulein Bloom replies quickly, “Brunette was disguised as Martin Urfe – a magician. He told me his real name was Alphonse Brunette in time. I think he expected to scare me off. But still, I love that bloke. I can’t help it.” Fraulein Bloom shrugs, “I love his adventurous, dangerous appeal. The rugged Frenchman routine has stuck with him. Maybe it’s as close to the real him as anyone is going to know.”
 
“But we’ll never know who he truly is.” Madame Rose says, “Fraulein, I didn’t bring you here at gunpoint to discuss romance. I have something for you to do. The instructions will be simple. Follow them and you’ll be fine.”
 
Rose picks up the Shotgun and circles around the table. Fraulein Bloom instantly feels for the Revolver again.
 
◄♦♦♦►
 
In the Lounge, Mrs. Peacock is sprawled out lazily on one of the sofas. Dr. Black comes from the Secret Passage. He is out of breath, wet, and holding his head. There is clearly something wrong.
 
“Are you alright?” Mrs. Peacock sits up
 
“I was attacked by Brunette,” Dr. Black says, “He’s here. He wants to kill me.”
 
“I thought Brunette was after your father.” Mrs. Peacock takes down her hair.
 
Dr. Black looks at the empty Shotgun rack, “Dammit! I need to get the Hunting Rifle from the Attic.”
 
“Hugh, what’s going on?” asks Mrs. Peacock, setting a hairpin on the coffee table, “Why does Brunette want you dead? I don’t understand.”
 
Dr. Black sighs, unsure if Mrs. Peacock can handle the truth of his wicked past.
 
“You told me that you’d always love me.” Dr. Black turns to face her, “In all of your pleas for me to take you back, you’ve promised that you’d always love me no matter what. Is that still true?”
 
“Hugh, you’re scaring me.” Mrs. Peacock stands up, “There’s blood on your hands.”
 
“My older brother, Ben,” Dr. Black says, “He’s alive. We kept him alive all these years. My father is still alive in the Attic. I faked his death and let him pay the price for my debaucheries. Brunette was after my father’s name, but it was me using the name.”
 
Mrs. Peacock doesn’t respond but maintains eye contact with Dr. Black as he confesses.
 
“My father pushed me to become the doctor that I am in order to help my older brother, Ben.” Dr. Black is anxiously trembling, “Then Peter came to live with us and proved more able at helping Ben. Peter was making progress. So last night I visited Ben and destroyed all the progress that was made.”
 
Thunder crashes loudly outside, causing the lights to flicker.
 
“I know all of Ben’s negative triggers – the one’s that will turn him into an insane killing monster.” Dr. Black says, “And last night after you’d come to my room, I made sure that he’d kill anyone or anything he came in contact with.”
 
“Why?” Mrs. Peacock asks
 
“To help my father into the grave.” Dr. Black says, “We’ve been slowing him down with pills and injections, but he’s a strong old bastard.”
 
“If you are an admitted murderer, what’s with all the cloak and dagger?” Mrs. Peacock asks, “Just kill your father and be done with it.”
 
“Not everyone at Blackwell Grange wants Sir Benedict to die, or I would have killed him years ago.” Dr. Black says, “I may be the master of the house, but we know there are many people who would try to take this mansion from me without hesitation.”
 
“It is a gorgeous mansion.” Mrs. Peacock says, “Was your brother the one outside shooting? Was it Ben?”
 
Dr. Black nods, “I don’t know how he got a gun or if he still has it. He could have shot himself with it, for all I know.”
 
“Where’s Miss Dove and Fivel?” Mrs. Peacock asks
 
“Brenda has left Blackwell Grange.” Dr. Black says
 
“She’s gone?” Mrs. Peacock is confused, “I don’t understand. Why would she leave? Did she find out?”
 
“She just left.” Dr. Black begins to cry, “I don’t know. But I do know that I can’t be here when the police arrive.”
 
Mrs. Peacock closes her eyes, “I’ve been hounded since my husband’s murder. I’m certain I’ll be under the magnifying glass during this entire investigation.”
 
“We could leave together. Come with me, Patricia. We’ll run away to my family’s estate in Moscow.”
 
Mrs. Peacock’s head begins to reel.
 
“Patricia, isn’t this your dream? You’ve loved me from afar for so many years, isn’t it only perfect that we end up together at last. We’ll just leave everyone behind and start the life that we always wanted. Surely you are ready to leave behind the bad publicity since Senator Peacock’s death and the deaths of four other husbands. Or do you not trust me since I’m an admitted murderer.”
 
“I’m a murderess.” Mrs. Peacock closes her eyes, “I killed nearly all of my husbands and covered them up. I’m not about to cast judgment on you for doing a similar act.”
 
“Then let’s leave this place behind and start a brand new chapter in Russia.” Dr. Black says
 
“No,” Mrs. Peacock says
 
“No?” Dr. Black is devastated, “How can you say no to the life you begged for the day you arrived.”
 
“I’ve kept the police off of my back, Hugh.” Mrs. Peacock says, “I’m damn good at handling myself under pressure. If we run away then we are instantly responsible for whatever happens at Blackwell Grange. They’ll see us as the guilty fugitives. I’ve survived morbid inquests, brutal trials, and countless public humiliations. I’m not about to run away now because you want me to.”
 
“I don’t understand,” Dr. Black says, “A life together – I thought that’s what you wanted.”
 
“You misunderstood that conversation in the Ballroom,” Mrs. Peacock says, “When I say that I want the life I had, I’m not solely referring to you. I’m also referring to the grandeur of Blackwell Grange. How can I have that too, if I’m in Russia freezing my ass off next to you?”
 
“Clearly you’ve never been to Moscow in July.” Dr. Black says, “Patricia, this is all I have to offer. I’m offering you everything.”
 
“No,” Mrs. Peacock says, “You are begging me to be your fellow fugitive so that you aren’t lonely on those nights where your belly aches and it’s too risky to go to the market for cabbage and meat. If you truly felt this way about me, you wouldn’t have been ready to marry Brenda Dove. Tell me, if she was here at Blackwell Grange, would you have asked her to come to Russian instead? Am I just the next best thing?”
 
“Brenda did not leave Blackwell Grange.” Dr. Black says, “She’s imprisoned in the Crypt. What I said before was just another lie.”
 
“A lie you told not five minutes ago,” Mrs. Peacock says, “How am I to know this family home in Moscow actually exists? You could just be luring me away to cut my throat. But yet, somehow, against all voices of reason… I still love you.”
 
“The blueprints of the Moscow Estate are in the Study.” Dr. Black says, “Patricia, you can hold the gun. You can handcuff me until you feel safe with me. Just let us both get to Russia first.”
 
Mrs. Peacock stares into Dr. Black’s eyes. Despite all the imperfections of the two murderers, their love is honest and true. Mrs. Peacock slips her hand into Dr. Black’s hand and squeezes it tightly.
 
“I’ve never stopped loving you.” Dr. Black says, “All these years. You are still the beneficiary in my will. Blackwell Grange will be yours one day. I always hoped that you’d one day learn that everything I have is yours. I just never wanted to spoil the surprise and tell you.”
 
“What about Vivienne?” Mrs. Peacock asks, “She’s the only daughter I can call my own. Will she come with us to Russia?”
 
“I’m sure that she and Miss Peach will both have each other’s comfort in wake of our disappearance.” Dr. Black says, “What do you say, Patricia? I’ve already called Captain Brown to ready the yacht in Bridgeport.”
 
“No.” Mrs. Peacock answers sadly
 
◄♦♦♦►
 
In the Hall, gentle Japanese music flows from the gramophone in Ballroom. The thunder and rain mix with the shamisen being plucked. Mrs. White and Monsieur Brunette stand in the center of the Hall. Professor Plum comes from the Ballroom.
 
“I figured some music might relax us while we wait for the police.” Professor Plum says
 
Mrs. White and Monsieur Brunette are deep in conversation and hardly pay notice to Professor Plum.
 
“I just don’t understand,” Mrs. White says, “Hugh loves his father. He would never do something like that.”
 
“Was it love that drove Hugh to keep his father alive?” Monsieur Brunette asks, “Or was it fear of becoming fully corrupt?”
 
“This changes everything.” Mrs. White says
 
Mr. Ash and Nurse Silver come from the Study.
 
“Whoever set up that Shotgun rigging aimed it off-center.” Mr. Ash says, “It was designed as a scare tactic. No one was meant to be hurt.”
 
“Yes, well I’m sure Mr. Green would disagree.” Nurse Silver says
 
“Has Dr. Black locked us in to murder us all?” Yvette cries as she comes from the Conservatory with Mr. Green on her arm
 
“It’s hard to say,” Mr. Green leads the young maid towards the Kitchen but is stopped by the small group in the center of the Hall.
 
“Where are the others?” Mrs. White asks
 
“Mr. Green, John, and Miss Peach are in the Conservatory.” Colonel Mustard says, “Edward Clay is dead.”
 
“What?” Professor Plum gasps, “Are you sure?”
 
“His throat was cut and his eyes were removed.” Colonel Mustard says, “A bit tedious for Ben Black to do.”
 
“Oh my God!” Mrs. White covers her throat in fear, “When are the police getting here? Have you seen my nephew?”
 
“Sergeant Gray hasn’t been around for a while.” Colonel Mustard says, “Given the events that are taking place, anyone missing could be hurt or worse.”
 
Jane and Miles Meadow-Brook both step out of the Library. Jane appears calm, whilst her husband is struggling to keep himself together.
 
“Jane, Miles,” Nurse Silver walks over to Mrs. Meadow-Brook, “Have either of you seen Fivel?”
 
“I thought we decided that she left with Miss Dove?” Mr. Ash looks around
 
“Nothing I decided until something is proven.” Nurse Silver says, “It’s not like Miss Dove to just take off and leave. She makes a big deal about everything she does so that she gathers attention while doing it. If she were going to rescue us by going to the police station herself, don’t you think she would have announced it seven or eight times?”
 
◄♦♦♦►
 
In the Back Stairs, Fraulein Bloom opens the door to the Cellar and steps onto the top landing. She looks down the narrow, dark staircase. With a sharp inhale, she opens the fuse box and pulls the main switch down.
 
Blackwell Grange is cast in darkness.
 
◄♦♦♦►
 
As Ben Black the Fifth reaches the side door to the Garage, the power flickers off. The round street lamps around the Courtyard, Gazebo, and Fountain no longer offer elegant ambiance – instead, the lamps allow rainy, desolate darkness to fill the space. The storm clouds give off their final moments of light before the sun behind drops past the horizon.
 
Ben Black quickly opens the Garage door and begins coughing as carbon monoxide billows out. The homicidal maniac is struck with a feeling he’s never felt before as he sees Miss Scarlet lying over the wheel of the running Royal’s Royce. He feels the urge to save her, to pull her from the car. Her life is in his hands and he knows it. Quickly he looks behind him to see Madame Rose standing in the dark Gazebo with the Shotgun.
 
“Save her, you fool!” Madame Rose orders, closing her eyes in an inhaling sharply. There is a twinkle of light in the gem on her turban – perhaps just a fragment of light, but there is something ominously powerful about her. She stands with both arms bent at the elbows and raised upward in the dry confinement of the Gazebo.
 
Ben enters the Garage, holding his breath.
 
Madame Rose smiles at the dark shape of Blackwell Grange.
 
◄♦♦♦►
 
In the Attic, Sir Benedict Black the Fourth watches Ben Black drag Miss Scarlet’s unconscious body to the Gazebo through the sights of the Rifle. Madame Rose kneels before the unconscious young lady. She places the Shotgun down and then puts both hands in the center of Miss Scarlet’s chest.
 
Sir Benedict has the crosshairs on the side of Madame Rose’s head. His finger moves to the trigger and he tenses up, anticipating the recoil.
 
Lightning abruptly flashes, illuminating Sir Benedict’s dark bed chamber. The lightning startles the elderly man, preventing him from shooting the Rifle. In the darkness behind him, Dr. Hugh Black comes from a secret passage in the wall paneling. He approaches his father and takes him by the shoulders, tearing the old man away from the window.
 
The Rifle goes off, a loud shot ringing through the night.
 
Sir Benedict looks up at his son, who is clearly trying to force the end of the Rifle towards his face.
 
“You’ve been dead for years.” Dr. Black tries to break the Rifle out of the old man’s grip.
 
“I locked the door.” Sir Benedict struggles to hold on
 
“I’ve installed many more passageways and tunnels since you’ve stepped down as the patriarch of this family.” Dr. Black rips the Rifle away, leaving the old man out of breath on the floor.
 
Dr. Black goes over to the window and looks outside. He instantly sees the commotion in the Gazebo.
 
“What is Rose doing with Ben?” Dr. Black asks
 
“Those twins haven’t seen each other in years,” Sir Benedict weakly pulls himself up into a sitting position, “Five minutes together and they’re thick as thieves. They’ve always been hellions.”
 
Dr. Black puts his eye to the sight of the Rifle, “Who were you about to kill? Ben, Rose, or Miss Scarlet?”
 
“Rose, of course.” Sir Benedict says, “She’s the one who should have died a long time ago.”
 
◄♦♦♦►
 
At the Gazebo, Madame Rose continues to push her hands quickly against Miss Scarlet’s chest.
 
“Breathe!” Madame Rose begs, “Vivienne, you are too important. Oh god, I’m too late.”
 
“Rose!” Ben points
 
Miss Scarlet’s eyes spring open as she gasps hoarsely. Ben smiles eagerly at his twin sister.
 
“Come! Let’s get you inside the house now.” Madame Rose says, taking Miss Scarlet by the hand and sitting the unsteady girl up, “There was another gunshot a few moments ago.”
 
“Edward,” Miss Scarlet is shaky and confused, “Where’s Edward.”
 
“We’ll worry about that later.” Madame Rose says, “Stand up, quickly!”
 
Ben begins itching and scratching uncomfortably, “She’s so pretty.”
 
“Not now! Ben, go hide before someone sees you.” Madame Rose instructs
 
Good bye, Rose.” Ben waves sadly, his shoulders dropping
 
“Just go!” Madame Rose points to the Stables.
 
The Rifle fires a bullet clean through Ben’s forehead . Miss Scarlet and Madame Rose have no time to react. The anguish suffered by the poor man is erased in an instant. The back of his skull cracks as the bullet exits. He falls flat on his back, staring up at the ceiling of the Gazebo with a blank, peaceful stare. Blood begins to drip from his nose and mouth.
 
 
TO BE CONTINUED