The Bloody Dagger

By Crystal Snowflakes

Madeline laughed joyfully as she looked at her masquerade mask. She handed it over to her best friend who had been admiring her own mask. "Is it not just gorgeous?" Madeline inquired proudly.

"Oh yes," agreed Priscilla wholeheartedly. "How do you like mine?"

Together, they had been happily chatting while making costumes for themselves and their husbands. They had been excitedly looking forward to the masquerade party that evening which was being held at the Lockheart mansion. Unfortunately, the Lockhearts had also invited Elizabeth, their annoying first cousin. Elizabeth wasn't too popular in the group, to say the least. She was considered mean-spirited and arrogant. Oh well, thought Madeline, we shall have a grand time despite her presence.

A light rain was falling as Priscilla and her husband got into the carriage. By the time they arrived at the estate, it had developed into gusty wind and showers. Priscilla looked up at the dark sky, afraid to lose part of her costume in the wind. Fortunately, it was only a few short steps up to the front doors. The gracious hosts were waiting at the entrance, warmly greeting all of their guests. Priscilla found it amusing that the Lockhearts had no idea who they were actually greeting, considering everyone had their masks on...

Once they had entered the grand ballroom, Priscilla left her husband's side to eagerly search for Madeline. Finally spotting the familiar mask, she stealthily approached her friend from behind and playfully tapped her on the shoulder. Madeline turned around in surprise and exclaimed, "Oh! There you are! I have been wondering where you were..." And without a moment's hesitation, Madeline began complaining about how unfortunate it was that Elizabeth had been invited as well. Priscilla looked at the ground uncomfortably as Madeline continued her tirade about Elizabeth.

"She isn't so bad, my dear." Priscilla cut in, "Besides, I do not enjoy criticizing people behind their backs..."

Madeline scowled, "It would be cruel were it anyone but her. But she is so arrogant...and so mean! And have you seen her hair? I mean--"

Suddenly a high-pitched voice broke in with, "You are a horrible creature!" The woman screeching ripped off her mask and stormed out from the ballroom, causing everyone to stare. Priscilla put her hands to her mouth in horror as she watched Elizabeth storm angrily from the room. "I told you that wasn't a good idea." whispered Priscilla scornfully.

"Oh well," replied an indignant Madeline. "Everyone knows the truth hurts. It is not my fault she cannot handle it. Now come along, let us try some of that punch!" However before either woman could make a move, there was a burst of light outside followed by a deafening boom. Madeline subconsciously huddled closer to Priscilla. The other guests were all regaining their composure when the Lockhearts' butler entered the ballroom and make an announcement.

"Ladies and gentlemen, it has been decided that you shall all be staying the night as the Lockhearts' guests, seeing as the weather has taken a turn for the worse." This announcement was followed by much chattering. The butler continued, "Please enjoy your stay. We have much food and wine for you to enjoy. Everyone will be provided their own private room." With that, the orchestra started up with a waltz.

"Well," remarked Madeline, "is that not interesting...we might as well make the best of it."

Priscilla nodded, "Yes, we might as well."

Despite the wonderful buffet and music, the storm had dampened the mood of the party. While some speculated about sleeping arrangements, others talked worriedly about the storm, jumping in fright every time lightning struck. Finally, it was time to retire for the night. Priscilla and her husband walked with Madeline and her husband to their assigned rooms. As they bid each other good night, Madeline's husband suddenly muttered something about nightcaps. Priscilla looked at him curiously.

"Would you like a nightcap, Thomas?" She asked politely.

Thomas nodded, "Yes, that would really rather nice."

"Well, I shall go get one for you. How about you Madeline?" She asked.

Madeline nodded her head.

Priscilla turned to her husband, "And you, my love?"

After they had all decided to have a nightcap before they retired, Priscilla went alone to get some drinks while the other three chatted. Priscilla returned a few minutes later with four cups of brandy.She then handed them out one by one. Afterwards, they all went to bed hoping that the storm would soon end.The next morning came too early for Priscilla. She felt herself being shaken awake by her husband.

"What? what is it dear?" She asked.

"Get up Priscilla." He said gravely. "Madeline is dead."

Silence filled the room until Priscilla, with an urgent tone in her voice screeched, "What?!" Then she laughed, "Is this some sort of joke to wake me up dear? It is not funny. It really is too early, love."

"This is no laughing matter. Thomas woke up and found Madeline dead in their bed."

Priscilla shook her head in disbelief, "This can't be happening." She reluctantly followed her husband to Madeline's room. A crowd of guests had gathered outside, all with horrified expressions carved onto their faces. She hurried towards the door and the scene made her gasp.

Madeline's body had been butchered by a knife, or so it seemed. Blood had splattered on the floor...Priscilla wanted to vomit. She felt her husband's arm supporting her. She found herself sobbing into his chest. "Who would do something like this?!"

A delighted laugh came from behind Priscilla. "That horrible creature deserved it!"

"How could you say that?" hissed Priscilla shaking with rage as she glared at Elizabeth, "I'll bet you did it!"

Elizabeth ignored her as she laughed insanely and frolicked out the room.

Angela Lockheart approached Priscilla worriedly, "I am very sorry... I apologize for her behaviour. I never thought... I only invited her because she is my cousin. My God, could she actually have done something this cruel, this inhuman?"

Priscilla tuned her out. She looked at her husband wearily, "I think I am going to rest a bit... would you please make sure no one disturbs me..."

"Of course, my dearest."

A few hours later, Priscilla awoke to loud knocks at the door.

"What is it?"

"It's Elizabeth...She..." Her husband explained as he opened the door. "She hung herself." He handed her a note. "She had this beside her when we found her."

Dear Priscilla (and everyone else),

Yes, it is true. I killed Madeline. That stupid woman... She was cruel, evil... She deserved to die. I hated her because she was so ungrateful and horrible. Just because she was beautiful and had a perfect marriage did not mean she had to insult me about my looks and my unmarried state. She never appreciated what she had, instead, she insulted me for what I did not have. Priscilla...her I wish I could have such a genuine confidante. But Madeline was always ungrateful... And hateful... Die...

-Elizabeth Strife

"She really killed her, did she not?" Priscilla asked, terrified as she approached her husband, hoping to find some reassurance. He put a comforting arm around her once again, "Yes, it certainly looks that way."

"I cannot believe it..." She whimpered, "What does Thomas make of all this?"

"He is in shock right now," he replied. "But we shall talk with him later. The storm is over, so we can all go home."

Priscilla nodded, "Would you wait for me downstairs?... I will be ready soon... I just want to freshen up a bit, and then I will pack up."

"All right, but hurry. I want to leave this accursed place." And with a gentle kiss on the forehead, he left the room and went downstairs.

Priscilla sat on edge of the bed for a long moment, her eyes glazing over. She then stood up and slowly walked over to the fireplace. Her eyes turned cold as she held up Elizabeth's letter and tossed it into the roaring fire. She then quickly stuffed everything in her bag before opening up the bottom drawer of the desk. A malicious smirk formed on her lips as she carefully lifted a bloody dagger from the very back.

Footsteps approached her door, and the weapon disappeared into the contents of her bag. The door opened and she calmly stood up to greet her husband. As they made their way past the bedroom where Madeline died, Priscilla turned to her husband and shivered.

"Strange, isn't it, how you just don't know what people are capable of..."

"Strange indeed, my dear, strange indeed."