Sorry about not getting this up last night, but we had some internet problems over here. The tech goblins were playing around much too much last night! (you can find the first installment of the story here)
So without further ado, here is-
"Mockingbird Lane, Part Three"
Linda opened the door to the hallway.
Where on earth is Samantha, and what happened last night?
The hallway she stepped into seemed to stretch the length of the house with doors lining each side. At one end was the landing that lead down to the rest of the house, and at the other end was a couple steps leading up to a door that she assumed lead to the tower. Her room appeared to be the closest one to the stairs and she turned to check the rest of the rooms down the hallway. Samantha had to be here somewhere.
The walls were covered in what looked like silk and were faded but she could still make out the pattern of alternating stripes of light blue that would have been gorgeous when it had been new. Photographs were spaced along the hallway in elegant frames. The one next to the room she had come out of was an old black and white showing two young girls posed in the serious tradition of the Victorians. One of the girls was tiny, had dark hair piled into a gibson girl bun, had very thick glasses, and was seated on a velvet chair. This could only be a very young Ms. Ashworth. She even seemed to be wearing the same dress she had been last night. Next to her was a blond girl with large bows tied to her long braids. While Ms. Ashworth was serious to a fault, the blond girl seemed to be almost impish in her short skirts and and pigtails, a slight smile playing on her lips. Linda almost smiled back at her.
She turned to the door directly across from her. The soft carpet that ran down the center of the hallway completely muffled her footsteps. The door opened easily and showed an empty sitting room. The furniture was covered in a thin layer of dust and the room appeared to be unused.
The picture outside this room was of the same girls in almost the same position, only a few years later. Ms. Ashworth looked almost identical, only her face had seemed to fill out more, but the blond girl had grown a good foot and towered over the small woman in the chair. Her hair was now put up in a bun as well, and she appeared to be wearing a high necked button down gown that looked very similar, if not identical, to the one that Linda now wore. She had not lost the air of mischief in this photograph, but it had taken on a subtly sultry edge.
Hmm. Must be relatives, Linda thought. If I am wearing her dress then she must have lived here. I wonder what happened to her.
There was a second photo not that further along the wall and it showed what appeared to be a wedding party with the happy couple stoically not smiling at the camera. The blond woman was standing with a a rather good looking young man and did appear to be happy. Ms. Ashworth was still on her chair to the side of the rest of the wedding party, looking not at all happy. Hmm, can't be fun to be left behind.
The next door along the hallway opened into a bedroom outfitted similar to the one she had woken up in except that where hers had been decorated in lilacs, obviously decorated for a woman, this one was definitely masculine. The furniture was heavy and solid, and the walls were done in a dark oak. The other difference was that where her's had been clean, with everything in it's apparent place, this room looked as if it had been ransacked. The bedclothes were torn and tossed around the room. Furniture was over turned and broken, or haphazardly stacked in the corners. Really weird.
Linda turned away from the room and walked a little further down the hall to look at a cluster of photographs. They were all set up like the early photo's of the two girls. These were obviously done over a period of years as Ms. Ashworth aged visably in each of the pictures but the really weird part was that while Ms. Ashworth was in every one, her companion changed with each photo. They were all in the same pose and all blond, their faces were different. They looked frozen and stiff, and they were all wearing what looked like the dress she was wearing now. And in the corner of each photograph was a stone that looked like the ones out in the garden, but she could read them in the photo's. They all said Sylvia but had a different date under the name. The latest was dated about three years earlier.
Ok. Really, really creepy. Time to find Samantha and get going on our merry way.
Linda began walking a bit faster and tried the rest of the doors in the hallway. These were all locked and no answer came when she knocked and called Samantha's name. She had just reached the door she believed lead to the tower when she heard loud sobbing coming from the room she had woken up in.
No one had been in there, had they?
She cautiously headed back to the room and peered around the door frame. There was a woman sitting in the bedside chair, sobbing uncontrollably. her hands covered her face and her blond hair hung down in tangled clumps. Her body rocked slightly back and forth as her grief shook her.
Linda went to her, preparing to offer comfort, but as soon as she reached out to touch the woman she shrieked and ran across the room. The woman ran through the other doorway in the room. Linda went after her and found herself in an empty sitting room. This one, while matching the bedroom in femininity, had recieved the same treatment that the man's room across the hall did. Furniture was splintered and even the wallpaper had been shredded. She took a moment to check behind the piles of what used to be nice furniture and found the room to be truly empty. The door leading out into the hallway was still locked, and the window was closed.
"Alright, that's it, I'm out of here." Linda said as she unlocked the door that lead to the hallway and stepped out of the room.
As she passed through the doorway she felt something cold brush her cheek.
"She's in the tower" came to her on a whisper almost to low to hear.
Linda paused and glanced back and forth between the landing and the door to the tower.
So which one is it going to be?
Go down the stairs
Try to get into the tower room