Updated: Oct 12, 2020
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As is usually the case for situations like these, the person with the gun became the de facto man in charge. I will give him some credit. He started off okay.
Our first course of action was a group field-trip to the basement where Tobias put in a call to the local authorities. We were informed that, owing to the storm and our remote location, it would take an hour before anyone could reach us.
That’s when Tobias’s leadership skills took a steep nosedive. In the end, he stole Jerry’s original plan and told everyone to go wait in our rooms until the authorities arrived.
With the (allegedly) blind man now in the wind, I had slipped to the number two spot on the group’s most-likely-to-be-the-killer list. But that didn’t mean they were ready to line up and do trust-falls with me. Tobias kept his gun in hand as he chauffeured each of us to our rooms, instructing everyone to lock our doors and stay put.
As Jerry wandered the suite looking for bugs, I sat at the edge of the bed, trying to make sense of everything. But this puzzle was missing too many pieces.
How could someone have orchestrated something like this? Why would they? Who killed the old woman? What’s going to happen next? Those particular mysteries were way too abstract for my brain to find any foothold. But I had no trouble with this one: Why does Tobias want us to stay in our rooms?
It made no sense. Tobias had demonstrated a certain degree of intelligence that would lead me to assume he knew why separating into smaller, easier-to-target groups was a bad idea. We only needed to survive for one hour. Why wouldn’t he want us to stay together?
The answer came to me out of nowhere.
He needed to get rid of us so he could use the phone without any witnesses. I couldn’t explain how or why I knew, but I was certain this was the answer. Tobias had a secret. He was playing dumb, but he knew more than he was letting on. And he might not have been the only one.
I suddenly remembered the note. The one Claire gave me shortly before the lights went out. I dug it out of my pocket, unfolded it, and read the message:
“We are all going to die here tonight.”
Well that is singularly unhelpful, I thought, crumpling the paper and tossing it into the trashcan against the wall.
Jerry fell onto the bed next to me with a defeated sigh, “I can’t find the bugs anywhere, dude.”
“Jerry,” I started. “You remember when we first left the car and I explicitly said ‘No weapons’?”
“Is there any chance you completely ignored what I told you and smuggled one up here anyway?”
He took a conspicuously sharp intake of breath and said, “What answer won’t make you mad at me right now?”
“Oh thank God. Where is it?”
Jerry rolled off the bed and crawled into the bathroom. When he returned a moment later, he was holding his jeans. He dug through the pockets until he found the police-grade stun gun that he’d smuggled up here without my knowledge, then tossed it to me. I was both annoyed and relieved. At least now we could defend ourselves if we were lucky enough to see trouble coming ahead of time. But trouble always had a way of sneaking up on--
I spun around to see what trouble had just snuck up on me.
She was standing next to the bookcase, looking very different from how I first met her. She’d let her hair down and changed into a pair of jeans and a Nirvana t-shirt. If not for the black lipstick, I may not have recognized her right away.
“Loren.” I said, careful not to make any sudden moves. If she’d come here to kill me, it was awfully generous of her to give me a warning first. I didn’t see any weapons in her hands this time, but I wasn’t about to assume anything.
“Hello there,” Jerry said like this was a perfectly normal encounter. “I didn’t think we’d have any company tonight. Quick question, are you the murderer?”