I don’t know what came over me to agree to do this. I sat in the car outside an abandoned house on the edge of town. The rain lashed down and I was shitting myself.
My friend Sally asked if I was sure I wanted to go through with this. I told her that I was. I’d agreed to it and needed the money. She promised she’d wait outside until I was finished. I thanked her, took a deep sigh and got out of the car.
I held my handbag over my head and ran along the long walkway to the house. I caught my breath under the porch and banged on the door. A man in his late forties or early fifties answered. He ushered me in and asked if I was the brunette. I nodded.
Let me backtrack a few days. I like to think of myself as an amateur actor, even though the last time I acted was in college. A work colleague of mine said that one of his friend’s was attending a reenactment of sorts and there were a few spaces still up for grabs. He said he told him that I would be perfect. Before I could protest, he told me it paid $200. And so, there I was, standing in the bitterly cold entryway of a derelict house.
Candles were everywhere, if it wasn’t for the rainwater that leaked through holes in the roof, I’d have worried the place would’ve gone up in flames.
The man led me into the kitchen. The cabinets had long since been looted, their doors hung on broken hinges. The floor was coated in a film of rust covered water.
“This is where you’ll be,” the man said.
“Where’s my script?” I asked.
“There is no script,” he responded, “It’s more of an improv. We need you to stay in here and wait for your cue.”
“How will I know what to do?”
“You’re an actress, I’m sure you’ll do fine,” he said before leaving and closing the door behind him.
A few minutes passed and I began to feel anxious. Lightning lit up the room. I jumped. The same rust tinged water seeped from the walls, it glistened in the momentary light.
I took out my phone and called Sally. It went to voicemail and I cursed myself for agreeing to this.
“Hi hon, I don’t feel good about this. I’m going to leave,” I said to her voicemail.
I crept towards the door, feeling the disgusting water seep into my shoes. The door creaked as it opened. I made my way along the hallway, towards the entryway. I leaned around the corner to see a group of men stand, listening to someone talk.
“This is where the police found the first victim,” he said, pointing to the woman who lay silent on the floor.
“The autopsy showed she had been stabbed forty-five times in total. Her head was barely attached to her neck. It is thought Thomas was in a rage and this was his final murder before he ran out of the front door and into the night.”
The men spoke amongst themselves as the guide took the staircase to the first floor.
“If you’ll follow me, we will be entering the main bedroom where Thomas’s mother was found. Please try not to step in the blood, it’s very hard to wash out.”
There was a collective laugh as the men stepped over the woman on the floor and followed the guide.
I stayed in position, waiting for the group to be out of sight. When I was sure, I rushed over to the woman on the floor.
“Hey!” I said, pushing her.
Her body wobbled as I tried to get her attention, but she didn’t respond. A chill ran down my spine. I placed my fingers on her neck. Never having done this before, I couldn’t feel a pulse. I moved my fingers around, fearing the worst.
“What the fuck you doing?” the woman whispered to me.
“Are you okay?”
“Of course I’m fucking okay.”
I let out a big sigh of relief.
“Are you an actor?” she asked.
“Yeah,” I said, still in shock.
“Get back to where you’re supposed to be then.”
I heard the guide from above, “Next is the drawing room. It is said this was where he first confronted his father…”
I peered back to the woman to see her eyes were now shut again. I stayed close to the floor, watching the group walk along the landing and into the room on the far side of the building.
I began to ascend the stairs.
“Hey,” the woman on the floor shouted.
“I want to know what’s going on,” I replied.
One by one I climbed the stairs. On the landing I heard the guide speak.
“We are not sure what weapon he used to kill his father, but we are quite sure the first blow was from one of these billiard cues. These are not the originals.”
Another murmur of laughter was heard from the group.
“It was in the basement that Thomas finished his father off. It is said that his younger sister was hiding in the kitchen. She waited in there for five days until the police arrived and rescued her. She survived by barricading the doors and eating the provisions of which there were more than plenty.”
“Where is she now?” one of the group asked.
“You remember I said we have a special guest tonight? Well… I won’t say anymore.”
Spontaneous conversation broke out.
“Settle down. This is the moment you’ve been waiting for. Who’s going to play Thomas…”
There was a few moments of silence.
“Steven Bridges, are you here?”
Through the door, I saw a man put up his hand, as the rest of the group clapped.
“Congratulations, come over here and I’ll give you your weapons.”
I watched the man break from the group and disappear into the part of the room I couldn’t see.
“Here’s the knife. Now this is the actual one used in the murders. I’ll let you choose which cue you want to use.”
“Are you ready?”
“I think so,” Steven said.
“Whenever you’re ready,” the guide said.
“Father,” Steven said, his voice trembled.
“Son, what are you doing here?”
“I’m here to kill you.”
A scream filled the air.
The remainder of the group smiled and clapped.
A man stumbled out of the room, blood dripped from his skull. His vacant eyes stared into mine. Confused, he stopped.
My heart thumped. I jumped out of his way as he stumbled past and down the stairs. I hid next to a grandfather clock on the landing.
The guide left the room and said, “Thomas then went into the master bedroom and killed his mother who was sleeping in bed.”
Steve strode past me, with the rest of the group in tow. As they entered the bedroom, I slipped into the drawing room.
Another scream bellowed out, this time of a woman.
The guide emerged from the bedroom and led the group down the stairs.
“Thomas then stabbed his older sister forty-five times.”
Steven mounted the woman on the floor, raising the knife above his head. I wanted to shout out, though I didn’t want to break character and ruin the play.
A single drop of blood dripped from the end of the knife and landed on the woman’s face, who in response opened her eyes. Steven slammed the knife into her chest. She gasped, her eyes becoming wide.
“One – two – three,” the group counted out in joy as Steven continued to plunge the knife into the woman.
“Remember, her head was found almost not attached to her neck, keep it authentic.”
Steven leaned forward and drove the knife into her neck.
“Ten – eleven – twelve.”
My stomach lurched and I heaved. Seeing the woman I’d spoken to only moments earlier being stabbed to death.
“Forty-four – forty-five!”
A round of applause rained out.
“Nice job, Steven,” the guide said.
“Are you tired?”
“Thomas was pretty fit, wasn’t he, to be able to do all this in one night?”
The group nodded.
“Now for the second to last victim, the father. Thomas noticed the path of blood that ran to the basement and followed him down there.”
The guide walked in the direction of the basement and stopped.
“Looks like you hit him too hard,” he said to Steven.
I laid on the floor and worked my way to the edge of the landing, looking through the railings. The body of the man who I saw stumble past me, lay on the floor.
“No worries, this has happened before,” the guide said.
“Now we go to the kitchen. The only member of his family he didn’t kill. This is the best part. You all get a chance to finish her. Now on the count of three. One – two – three.”
The group ran under the landing, towards the kitchen. I needed to leave, now. I phoned Sally again, and it rang.
“Hey, are you okay?” she said.
“Please, you have to help me, they’ve killed people. I’m not where I’m supposed to be.”
“Calm down, calm down. Did you say they’ve killed people?”
“Yeah, it’s like some fucking snuff film. They are reenacting a mass murder.”
“Okay, okay. Where are you right now?”
“I’m upstairs, in the drawing room.”
“Don’t worry, I’ll call the cops. Find somewhere to hide.”
“Thank you,” I said.
“She’s upstairs,” I heard a woman shout from below – it was Sally.
I ran to the end of the drawing room and rounded the pool table. The window opened easily in my hands. The cold air rushed in. Without thinking, I jumped. My ankle crunched as I landed on the overgrown backyard. I didn’t look back as I hobbled from the premises and onto the main road. I hid behind a bush and my phone rang.
It was Sally.
I answered it to stop the ringing.
“Where are you?” Sally asked.
I didn’t answer.
“Tell me where you are,” she demanded.
The front door opened.
“Hello?” a man asked.
“Help me, someone is trying to kill me,” I said, getting up and running to the house.
“Get inside,” the man offered.
As the door shut, I dropped my phone. The man picked it up.
“Who is this?” he asked.
No one responded.
“Call the police,” I said, and he did.
I’ve left the state and been staying with my parents at the behest of the police. I’ve had multiple missed calls from Sally, though they stopped a couple of days ago. Since then, I’ve ignored calls from an unknown number, I’m not going to answer my phone until Sally is found.