A plain, simple slip of paper. The words were faded, the paper yellowed; an old letter. Everyone in the village had heard of it, and its morbid tale along with it. Although never proven to really exist, myths and stories of the letter circulated the village; it was found near a large, deserted mansion – that only appeared at night – in the forest. Adults warned their children not to go anywhere near the forest, because then they'd get lost, and they'd never come back again. The tales stirred fear in the hearts of outsiders, and none of them dared venture anywhere near the forest. However, some ignored the stories, deeming them as rumors, and simply disappeared from the face of the earth, never to be seen again.
"Ah, just my luck to get lost!"
A young girl with her auburn hair tied into a long ponytail stumbled through the woods. Her name was Bella Valentine. A simple light pink dress hugged her figure as she wandered deeper and deeper into the forest. She had come from halfway across the country to visit her relatives and decided to take a short-cut through the forest, but instead ended up getting lost in the thick forest. It was already about eleven fifty-six, and she was about ready to give up searching for a way out. The trees provided a leafy canopy, shielding the sky from view, although the circular moon remained visible in the dark, inky sky.
She couldn't get any phone signal in the depths of the forest, but then again her phone battery had gone flat, so it was useless even if she had been able to get phone signal. Bella sighed, looking around warily as she navigated herself through the thick woods, without a flashlight to help her see.
Bella had just taken a single step forward when she slipped on something and fell face first into the ground. "Oh god, today just isn't my day, is it?" She grumbled, standing up and dusting off her skirt. Turning around, she tried to make out what had caused her to trip. "A piece of paper? What's that doing here?" Bella reached for the paper and glanced at it. The faded words were barely legible, but if she looked closer, she could faintly make out some words...
"Oh well, I'll look at this later. Right now I've got to..."
A group of seven stood at the window, watching as a pink-clad girl tripped over their precious script. A pair of twins giggled at the sight, earning themselves a sigh from a tall blond man whose hair spilled down his back. An excited smile played on the lips of a girl who sported light purple hair, and a strawberry blonde teenager snickered. An auburn haired woman looked at the large grandfather clock that stood proudly behind them in all its glory. The golden hands of the clock glinted in the light, and she turned back to a black-haired male next to her.
"Do you think she'll figure it out?"
The man shrugged. "Nobody has. They all went crazy." He gestured to a part of the wall next to the grandfather clock; a concealed door. The woman made a small noncommital noise, turning back to observe the girl through the window.
This one'll be interesting.
She trailed off at the sight that was before her. A large mansion that she certainly hadn't noticed earlier stood in front of her. It seemed warm and inviting, yet there was an eerie feel about the building that chilled her to the bone. "I wonder if there's anyone in it...no harm trying, right? I need a place to sleep after all," Bella mumbled, still in awe as she made her way up the few stairs that led to the door. Reaching out, she knocked hesitantly on the slightly damaged door. "Is anyone there?"
"My, do you need some help?"
Bella half-expected nobody to answer the door, so she instinctively jumped at the sound of the low, smooth voice. A tall man chuckled at her reaction, pushing the door open and inviting her in with a smile. "I'm the butler," he added, "and those are the twins." A slender finger pointed behind her.
"–to this mysterious mansion!"
Bella spun around at the sound of two similar voices, only to see two grinning twins, both dressed in similar outfits, practically mirror images of each other. One had her hair tied in a small ponytail, the other had a white bow neatly placed in her shoulder-length hair. A nervous grin on her face, Bella stepped back, only to nearly freak out when she came face to face with a seemingly hyperactive girl. "I'm the maid! Would you like some tea~?" She sang, a metal teapot clutched in one hand. Bella put her hands up, making sure that the maid didn't get any closer to her. Is she insane or something? She inwardly thought, before declining the tea that was shoved into her face.
"Now, now, everyone, don't get too excited."
Seven figures gathered in the room, welcoming their new guest. Bella couldn't help but feel slightly embarrassed; she'd never been good with crowds. A man of average height smiled, and said, "You must be lost. It's pretty late, so you might as well stay here for the night. Well, as the master, I've got to give you a proper welcome, no?" The twins, hearing him, immediately broke into wide grins, nearly splitting their faces.
"Let's have a party, a party!" The one with the bow said, clinging to the master's arm.
Her twin grabbed his other arm. "Hurry, hurry!"
They both laughed in unison, seemingly elated. A teenager standing behind the man quietly chastised the twins, "Don't unnecessarily disturb Father," but sighed and gave in when her father rested a hand on her shoulder, a smile on his face.
"Until it's lights out –"
"–allow us to make you feel at home!" The twins finished each others' sentences, still clinging to the master.
"Let's enjoy ourselves, shall we? I'm the mistress." An woman dressed in traditional clothing introduced herself to Bella, who gave a small smile.
Well, it can't be that bad, can it?
The twins linked arms with her on either side. "Are you ready?" They both giggled in unison.
The next few hours passed in a rush; Bella lost herself in the celebrations, drinking and feasting with the seven people in the mansion: the twins, the butler, the maid, the master and mistress and their daughter, making merry, laughing and having fun. Everything forgotten, she only remembered her tiredness after the party, and didn't put up any resistance when she felt herself being carried to a soft bed, where her consciousness faded to black.
"Ah, what are we to do?"
"It appears that something terrible has occurred. It's never happened before."
"It appears that time itself has frozen."
"And what of her?"
"When did she..."
"You two better go now. The night is almost over."
"Eh..what time is it?"
Bella sat up in bed, rubbing at her eyes. She couldn't help but feel that something was amiss. As she got up from the soft mattress, she remembered what had happened and where she was. The mansion..and the party...that was at around twelve midnight... Glancing at the window, Bella was struck with a realisation. It's still nighttime?! How is that possible? I can't have slept for such a short time...or maybe I did. Oh well, I'll just check the clock outside.
She made her way out of the room, now fully awake despite being half-asleep merely minutes ago. "The clock...where is it?" There were no clocks on the walls in any room, but Bella had noticed a huge grandfather clock somewhere, so she searched for it. Behind her, two gleeful smiles mirrored each other as they watched the girl.
"She's close to it, no?"
"The happy ending, or the bad one? She's nearing the end now."
"We'd better hurry, then! Will it be our end or hers?"
Bella rounded a corner, and nearly shrieked when she almost crashed into the two grinning twins. "What are you two doing awake at this hour?" She questioned, non-plussed as to why the two young children would be walking around the mansion at night. The girl with the ponytail smiled so wide that Bella could've sworn it was physically impossible.
"We just wanted to–"
"–share a hint with you!"
"Take a look at the clock!" Both of them chorused, before they disappeared in a flash.
It was then that Bella noticed that grandfather clock in the corner of the room. She peered at the hands, but they didn't seem to be moving, frozen at their position; twelve midnight. The hands... The minute hand was unusually sharp for a clock hand, and as she gazed at the clock, it finally clicked into her mind what it was. Oh God...why would they use a kni..knife as a clock hand?! Bella stumbled backwards in her shock, her hand colliding with a part of the wall that slid back. Rather ungracefully, she fell into the room, and after getting her balance back, her brain registered where she was and what she was surrounded by.
Caskets. The morbid boxes filled the room, and a terrible smell emitted from the place. Bella was forced to take a step back, her hand flying to her mouth in horror as she gazed at the scene before her. She was too lost in her stunned silence that she failed to notice the figures behind her.
"Oh dear." The mistress' voice echoed through the room.
"You've seen it." The master.
"Danger, danger!" The twins.
"Don't be afraid, okay~?" The maid.
The brunette girl shrieked, pushing past the group and running down the stairs. Get me out of here! I want to go home..! Someone save me! Frantic thoughts rushed through her mind, and she panicked.
"Where are you going?" The butler's voice echoed after her, before he let out a low chuckle – which sounded more ominous than it had the first time she'd heard his voice. "You can't leave until you end this. You started it, you'll end it." He continued, "You've dropped the key to the happy ending. However this ends it up to you; whether you return home, or you end up in a wooden box for the rest of your life."
This..happy ending? The key to it? Where...where is it?! I want to go home!
Frantic, terrified eyes darted about the place.
Shoes clattered up the stairs.
It was a key with a cold glint.
A fist slammed into the glass covering. Glass shards scattered across the floor.
Bella's hand closed around the minute hand of the clock, ripping it out easily. She shivered at the sight of the weapon, but the butler's words echoed in her ears. "You can't leave until you end this." The other remaining hand – the hour hand – started to spin crazily, and as Bella stared into the blank clock face, only two words echoed in her mind.
Her lips twitched upwards in a crazed smile, and she said, "It's time for me to finish this performance, isn't it?"
In the shadows, a single figure applauded, stepping onto the blood splattered stage. It reached out and picked up a small, faded letter. Clear liquid dripped onto the floor – mixing with the red splashed everywhere – and the door closed quietly.
The curtains closed.
A/N: Uh...yeah. This was sorta rushed, because I really needed to get rid of my writer's block before my essay exam ^^; Also, EXAMS ARE UPON ME. D: