Taking a few steps into the hallway, I stop at the sound my shoes make on the marble floor. I hear nothing and wait several moments to be sure. I walk towards Ella’s bedroom, eyes darting about me in search of movement. A few paces from her door I see a portrait of a man of middle age, with dark eyes and hair and I wonder if it’s her husband. It matches the description I remember from the story.
I hear a door close nearby and spin to scan the hallway. Did the man from the painting just scurry around the corner? Are my eyes playing tricks? I abandon any sense of sneaking and run after the apparition. The hallway ends in a T and I veer right, following the sound.
I find myself in a new hallway, one as long as a bowling alley with the walls of both sides line with portraits of a young, blonde women closing resembling Ella. Did someone make this section for me? Taking my time, I examine the faces as I creep towards the lone door at the end of the hall. My footsteps echo and I know my presence will not be a surprise to the resident of this room.
Reaching the door, I rap the oak three times and cross my arms to wait. I hear nothing from within and rap the door again. Still no response. Removing my mobile from a pocket, I fire a quick text to Ella. Perhaps a return message will give me a clue to her whereabouts.
When will I see you?
Shaking the knob, I discover the door is not locked and once again I wonder at the security of this mansion. My phone buzzes before I can enter the bedroom.
Whenever you wish. I’m in the library. Your door is not locked *wink*
Perfect. Hurrying inside, I close the door behind me. The room belongs to a man, I can see that from the multitude of sports paraphernalia covering the walls of the first room. Black leather couches surround wide-screen televisions, all tuned to sports contests. I see a classic game on one screen, a contest between the New York Mets and the Boston Red Sox from the 1986 World Series.
On the television, I see a New York Met batter step into the box to face the Red Sox pitcher. The Mets are down to their last out, trailing by two runs, with an 0-2 count on the batter. The game feels hopeless watching the replay. Gary Carter laces a two out, two strike single and the crowd cheers nervously.
“I remember that day as if it were yesterday.”
I hear a man’s voice say from behind me. The tone is all bass and I feel a cold blast of fear down my spine and a flashing thought this may be my last moment on earth before a blunt object connects with my skull.