The rain had stopped but the wind still howled through the trees and the many large fireplaces throughout the house. It made it cold for the team as they changed into their dry clothes (no warmer but at least not wet anymore) they had barely spoken since they were all picked up from the office 4 hours or so previously. The usual nod of ‘hello’ and the odd ‘so how was your weekend?’; although they worked together they didn’t socialise together, which outsiders might find odd but it is not uncommon.
It had been easy to decide the room arrangements, as none of them were connected romantically it was girls in one guys in the other. Even with this segregation there was still unease whilst they were changing for dinner.
The girls the usual hair, clothes and make up routine; the guys sat on their respective beds glued to their smartphones (despite the lack of wifi it seemed there was some 3g reception floating round.
The rooms themselves were high-ceilinged with pale green paint (at least thats what it looked like) it could just be dust and age for all anyones guess.
One thing they did collectively feel was that something was not right. Although of course none of them knew this through not having spoken to each other.
Amelia checked her email on her smart phone she was surprised to get the signal working, nothing exciting came, a couple of funny videos from her family and a boring meeting she was due to be having this week. She checked Facebook her last status update was “off to ‘team building’ exercise…” 3 people had liked it, she wondered if they had been sincere when they had pressed that ‘like’ button.
Lucy was feeling very unsettled and she wouldn’t mind admitting it just not here and not now. The room was uninviting and lacked warmth in any form; she was sure she had seen a cockroach scuttle by at some point and they were apparently going to eat here? She felt the need to say something at least, the silence was deafening as every creak and moan between here and the front door rang through the house in waves. Although conversation had been limited (as it always was, after the incident everyone got on with their own jobs) she was sure some kind of pleasantries should be exchanged as she turned to speak to Amelia she picked up her phone.
“So are you looking forward to tonight?” Lucy ploughed on anyway as she could bare the silence no more. Amelia slightly startled at Lucy’s sudden outburst she was momentary disorientated; “Umm i guess so, i always look forward to a challenge, the fact that i don’t know what we will be doing adds to the excitement, how about you?”. Lucy slightly shocked by such a frank response she stammered “Umm uh yes, challenges are great…” she trailed off feeling slightly out of her depth. They lapsed back into silence both slightly relieved that the moment was over. “I suppose we should go downstairs soon” Amelia said trying not to sound too bossy, “I thought they were meant to be coming to get us?” Lucy chimed in “at least we wouldn’t get lost on the way then”. “Unfortunately i don’t think thats an option in this house” Amelia replied “I suppose we just head back the way we came and hope there is some signage?” Lucy begrudgingly agreed and they set off down the hall way together.
Henry was watching the afternoons rugby scores which he had missed due to being dragged to Ikea (an existential nightmare in itself) apparently necessary due to the dog eating some bathroom soft furnishings, why she could not shop in Sainsburys or something similar like everyone else was anyones guess. He was not intimidated by the imposing nature of the house or by the thought of a mystery evening ahead, although he didn’t mind admitting he was curious. The gothic house was a nice touch he thought though added atmosphere to the ‘mystery’ they were supposed to be solving. He was however quite peeved about being made cold and wet when the taxi sped off, he was going to complain about that to someone, he didn’t appreciate having to change before dinner but hey-ho. Looking over at David who was similarly peering at the smart phone screen although Henry was unsure as to what was so interesting. “Hey David, do you think we should head down soon?”
David looked up from his phone “sorry? I was miles away” he looked down at the images splayed across his screen and closed them quickly. He has been trying with little success to stay calm, he didn’t feel comfortable here, even though he knew this was inevitable (the place was not designed to be plush and welcoming) he hadn’t heard Henry calling over to him although the noise had startled him. Henry repeated himself. “oh uh yes Henry i suppose we should” he flailed around gathering his things together. As the manager of the team some people may be wondering how this is possible, but the truth is David was a good manager, just not under pressure.
They had expected to see the girls walking down at the same time, both of them were quite sure they had heard two sets of foot steps walking past their door just now. They paused a minute to get their bearings, the dimly lit hall way was hard to navigate they stayed close to the edges so they could try and maintain a straight line direction back towards the stairs they can climbed earlier.
It looked menacing in the candle light. Sat at the end of the hall way was a small table with a bust on-top. It was no one recognisable, the poor lighting coupled with dust and cobwebs tarnished the bronze work. Amelia and Lucy were entranced by the jewel sat between the eyes, they gravitated towards it to get a closer look.
To be continued in fourth part.