Authors: Paige Williams
"Not to mention that I've just been drugged and shackled in a dungeon that has 'Disneyland' stamped all over it. And you're seriously standing there telling me that
shouldn't be scared
" On the last
my voice might have gone up a few octaves.
just say I was glad no
champagne glasses were
He cleared his throat. "I never said you shouldn't be worried, I said
if you'll remember
wasn't the one you should be worried about."
"And who, exactly, are
"Why don't we start over?"
to meet you.
My name is Jonathan
and this is my home."
I felt my eyebrows try to climb my forehead and disappear into my hairline.
has said a lot of things, none of them true.
He has lied for so long I doubt he even knows what the truth is."
his castle?" I asked, stunned.
"Strictly speaking, it is
I share ownership with my brother."
I bent my head, closed my
my temples. It felt as though a spike
were being forced
into my brain. Squinting, I looked up at him.
"Forgive me if this is a silly question, but if you own this place then what are you doing creeping about down here in the dungeon with the rats and cockroaches while he's upstairs answering the door telling people that you're some kind of bizarre human infestation?"
"That is a very,
, long story.
Suffice it to say that
wants me--and now you--dead."
Dusting the floor and sitting down I said, "Well, how about you get this manacle off my ankle--
old school--and give me the Coles Notes version?"
"I suppose that can be arranged," he said, stooping and producing a long thin piece of metal from his
"You always go around with a lock pick up your sleeve?"
"As you have demonstrated, one never knows when such things
come in handy."
After a moment of
the shackle fell away. Reaching down for my hand he said, "Now, how about we get out of here? There are vastly more comfortable places to discuss these matters."
, from out of the gloom, we
heard a scraping sound, like that of a heavy door
Even in the half-dark of the
I could see panic sweep over Jonathan's features a moment before he lunged for the door.
e tried to
pry it open but
had been locked
from the outside
turned to me then
it seemed this was his
comment on the part he felt I had to play in
and then threw his whole body into
his next attempt at
the door seemed to
it held fast.
Do not do this thing, I am warning you!" Jonathan bellowed.
An insane titter came from the other side of the door. "Oh, will you ... let's see ... will you
rip my throat out
if I do not obey you, oh Lord of the Castle?"
!" I called
running over to the bars and
out at him
be the one who put me in here, I wouldn't believe that
, something is wrong. I fell asleep waiting for you and woke up here. Would you please let me out?"
I suppose you will give me your solemn word you won't say anything to the police about being locked in a dungeon with my brother. My brother who I think
you have a crush on
"Do not!" I said and blushed, grateful of the low light.
"But ... what?
You ... you
You knew I was here?"
"Of course dear," he said, and smiled. "Who do you think put you in this dungeon?
an anvil hit me alongside the head. I
would kill me until he said those words.
's features changed before my eyes. Instead of distorting, they became more hideously normal, and his limp vanished. He grinned at me, reached up to his
and removed what looked like cellophane tape that had green splotches printed on it. One moment his pointed teeth appeared overrun with greenish fungus and the next he was sporting a set of very white teeth any dentist would have been proud
Panic rose in my throat like bile.
grinned triumphantly at me.
I heard what
like a growl
from Jonathan. "This is
over!" he spat at
indistinct outline as he paced the floor outside our cage. No longer slumped, he stood almost as tall as his brother
. Gone was the swollen red eye and limp. It had all been an act.
I don't know why you're doing this but
it can't be worth 20 years in prison," I said, having gathered my wits sufficiently to speak.
That earned me a sneer. "No one knows you're here.
, trust me, if I want to hide something down here then it'll stay hidden.
be a mystery. This place will probably find its way onto lists of ghoulish tourist routes. 'Oh look, sweeties, look at the house where a nasty old Lord and an assistant secretary,
or whatever you are, disappeared'."
"Executive Rooms Manager!"
I huffily corrected.
"Whatever," he said, rolling his
not going to be missed
If you were someone important
like a congressman's daughter
there'd be secret service agents breaking down the front door any minute now, but--and I do so hate to disillusion you--in the grand scheme of things you don't matter.
Oh, sure, your family will report your disappearance and a form will find its way to some overworked cops' desk and be put on the bottom of the pile. By the
he gets off his duff to come nosing around here
you I'll be in Costa Rico, or the Caribbean, or maybe Hawaii.
I haven't quite decided."
looked at me with an expression of triumphant glee. He seemed to like the idea of my fear, my pain.
"You pulled the wings off flies when you were a kid, didn't you?"
"Among other things," he said, his voice giving the impression of decay, corruption, and darker things. I shivered, and it
from the cold.
He stood before me, on the other side of the bars, gloating
Well, enough of that.
I laughed at him.
Not because I was happy or because
said anything remotely funny, but as commentary. It was what I thought of him.
From the look on his face it
he'd been expecting. I had to give
thought this through.
shook his head.
"It's not going to work.
not going to make me all hot and bothered and get me to make a stupid mistake, a mistake which results, in the best Hollywood style, in you and the Lord of the
here flying the coop and me landing behind bars. What is
the longest a person can survive without water?
No, the only place you two lovebirds are going is the great hereafter."
smirked at us, turned on his heel, and walked away. After a few
bars rattle and the
scrape of metal like a door closing.
* * *
"I hate to say I told you so," Jonathan said. "But ..."
"I know, I know, you told me so," I said, running my hand through my hair. Instead of being long and silky, it stuck up at all angles and I seemed to have acquired a couple of mats. I wanted to cry, but that would just smudge my mascara even more.
"This really is
fault you know, if only you hadn't been taken in
lies, his promises ..." He paused and looked at me. "By the way, I'm curious. What did he promise to do for you in exchange for
I glared at Jonathan
in the half-light and hoped he could see me,
though my hair looked like a bird's dream home
, I wasn't helping him, at least not intentionally. My car broke down near
that handful of shacks you c
all a town.
No one there had a phone, and m
y cell phone
get a signal
so I walked down the road, hoping someone would have a phone line or a satellite phone. When I saw this castle ...," I shrugged. "It was getting dark and I was feeling desperate. I thought, 'What could it hurt? I'll just go ask." I rolled my eyes at my own stupidity. "And then there was this great awful shriek outside and
pulled me in
to the castle
could get me. I thought he had saved
o you think I said to
, 'Oh, yes, please, lock me in a small room with a bucket of drugged water so that I can pass out and wake up chained to the floor in the same room as a raving lunatic'.
, besides, h
ow was I to know he was homicidal? I mean, do you walk up to people and just
they have murder on their minds?"
Actually, when I
like that, it did seem as though I, of all people, should have known better.
"You fell for that old
" Jonathan asked. "
It amused my brother to take the haunted house motif to an extreme.
When the castle was
speakers were installed outside and
hooked up to a sound system.
lure the unwitting into the castle."