For the rules of the game, go to Raven's Nest
Ten Word Challenge: albino, trench, marble, assistant, Indian, What's that supposed to mean?, sound first principles, the key thing, moat, curtain
Mini challenge: under the surface, doomed, grand design, temple, aspirin
The Slumber Party Mystery
Chapter 11 - Into the Library
(You will find links to the previous chapters in the margin further down the page.)
"The library is right through here, sir," said Bumblebee, showing Lieutenant Skittles through the glass doors leading into the house from the terrace. "Please mind the bear," he added.
"Mind the… What's that supposed to mean?" said Skittles, feeling utterly confused. After the bright sunlight outside, stepping into a room with most of the curtains drawn was like entering a dark cave; he could not see a thing at first. Then he almost tripped over something, and looking down, found it to be a huge grinning albino bear's head, attached to the rest of its skin spread out flat on the floor.
"What the… Oh," said Skittles, collecting himself. "Polar bear?" he wondered, looking closer at the grim stuffed head.
"Yes, sir," confirmed Bumblebee. "The brigadier general is a collector of various objects from around the world."
"Hm," said Skittles, looking up and finding himself facing an Indian totem pole. "So I see…" He had never met the general, but he had heard of him. It was said that he had started out digging trenches, and ended up building himself a palace. The house was certainly of grand design, the pillars on the terrace reminding of a Greek temple. Some people wondered whether the old man still had all his marbles in the right place, while others claimed that he was and had always been a man of sound first principles, knowing exactly where his priorities lay. But right now, Skittles reminded himself, the key thing was to find out who or what had started the fire.
"Mr Bumblebee," he said to the butler, "perhaps you could enlighten me on a few points. For example, I take it you cannot be the only servant in this household?"
"No, sir. There is also the brigadier general's personal assistant, who is a trained nurse, but she has this weekend off. Then there is the cook and the gardener, but neither of them live in this house, and they leave early on Fridays."
"But you were having a party this evening?"
"One guest only, Dr Challenge."
Skittles waited for Bumblebee to continue, but the butler obviously was not going to volonteer any more information without being asked a direct question.
Skittles still had a feeling that there was something hidden under the surface, he just didn't know how to get at it. Why did the butler suddenly seem as impregnable as a castle surrounded by a moat? "I must find someone who is willing to let down the drawbridge, or I'm doomed to fail with this investigation," Skittles thought to himself.
Aloud, he said to Bumblebee: "I'm sorry, I feel a headache coming on. Do you think you could find me an aspirin and a glass of water, while I interview somebody else?"
Author's comment: For this week's challenge, Raven used words that I had sent to her. After this little experiment, I have to report that having come up with the words myself did not make the challenge easier... At least when someone else has chosen the words, you can always blame them if you find the words impossible and not really leading anywhere... ;-)