I flung myself off the bed, seeking to extricate my lower leg from whatever was grabbing it. My effeminate scream echoed through the room.
“Oh, shut up,” cried a female voice from below. My leg was released and I huddled against the wall under the shuttered window. An attractive African-American woman in her mid-20’s pulled herself from under the bed and stood. She was dishevelled, dressed in what looked like a tie-dyed hippie dress.
“Who are you?” I said, eyes wide in disbelief.
“I’m Aisha,” said the woman, smiling. “Sorry I scared you. You scream like a girl, you know.”
I rose, looking suitably miffed. “What the hell were you doing under that bed?”
“Hiding from the crazy woman,” said Aisha. “I guess you’ve met her, otherwise you wouldn’t have reacted like you did.”
I relaxed somewhat. “How did you get here?”
“Long story,” she said. “But we need to move, because your girly screams have probably informed her where we are.” She paused to look me up and down. “I don’t suppose you have a gun or a knife on you? All I’ve got is my cellphone. I can’t get a damn signal, though.”
I deadpanned. “Yeah, I’ve got a few knives tucked into my shoe and a machete down my underwear for just such an occasion.” She rolled her eyes.
“Can I see the phone?” I said. She hesitated, then handed it to me to inspect. It was an iPhone with about 50% charge left. No phone bars, no reception. Strangely, no internet either.
It was at this moment that I realised Silas the butler was nowhere to be seen. The secret door was still open, but he had disappeared. My brow furrowed and I raised an eyebrow, Spock-style.
“There’s a secret passage over there,” I said. “You can tell me your story as we go.” I walked to the opening.
“That’s my phone, you know.”
“There’s no light in the passageway. I need it to see where we’re going.”
Aisha seemed to be in two minds, but decided to follow. “I hope to God you’re not some serial killer.”
“Can’t be worse than Junifer Vasilikov,” I replied. I clicked on the phone’s torch app and climbed into the passageway.
“Is that her name? So she’s some Russian chick?” said Aisha, following. I slid the wood panel into place.
“I guess so. Hey, you didn’t notice the butler standing at the passageway entry a few minutes ago did you?”
“No, I only saw your legs.” Aisha noticed how dank and dirty the corridor was. “Hey, you better not be leading me into trouble. I’ve been hiding safely since last night.”
“You seem pretty okay for someone who’s been hiding out in a strange house for 24 hours.”
“I carry lots of snacks. I’m more annoyed about no internet. You know how dull it can get under a bed?”
To be continued…
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