Being unmarried and childless at the age of twenty-four never bothered Ariadne. To her, marriage came last on the agenda. She was currently dating an alumnus from her school. His name was Nash. They have been together for a few years and Ariadne has been growing tired of him.
Every day, she followed the same routine: In the morning, she'd go over to the Parisian Café for coffee and to read a book. At all times she had a romance novel on her that she would read and drink espressos at the same time. The café was always quiet, giving her time to relax before work. Nash would usually come sit down.
As she went to architecture school three times a week, she also had a job. To keep her apartment, she worked as a maid for a nice hotel part-time. After class, she would get as much homework done as possible in the two hours she had free before driving over to the hotel to work six hours.
On weekends, she would go out with her friend Jules to see the Paris Rollergirls. Her sisters back in the States played derby and since Ariadne could never make it to their bouts, she went to the one's in Paris and always enjoyed them.
It was Friday, a typical day, when Ariadne left her apartment for coffee. She was wearing her typical outfit consisting of a solid colored t-shirt, jeans, red jacket and one of her many scarves. In her bag was a copy of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.
What she loved about the café was how calm it was. Not like in America where a regular Starbucks is crammed with chatty people, plus the coffee was so much better. Ariadne sat outside with her espresso and opened up her book. In the middle of chapter one, she heard somebody stand by her and kiss her cheek.
The truth was that he was jealous and secretly thought she was better than him. He also really wanted to ask for her hand for a while and bought the ring already.
"Your always reading, aren't you?" he asked, taking the book from her hand. "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies?"
"Really, I mean what's with this big zombie thing? First the vampires and werewolves, but now this?"
"This was the only book available at the store next to Twilight." Said Ariadne taking the book back.
"How many scarves do you even have?" He asked changing the subject.
"A lot." Her eyes went back to her book.
"How would you like to see the new building I designed that was just finished?" He asked confidently. "I'll buy you lunch."
"I've already seen it." Ariadne replied without her eyes leaving the page. "And that's nice to offer but I'll have to say no."
"Then how about we go somewhere after the next derby?"
"Your really hooked on that book, aren't you?" he asked. "Don't you ever wish you were Maryanne?"
"The woman in the book."
"That's Sense and Sensitivity." Ariadne corrected. "The heroine in this one is Elizabeth Bennett."
"Right." Nash hid his embarrassment.
Ariadne chuckled and shook her head. She gathered her stuff and stood up. In the distance, she could hear his friend snickering at the fact that she was mistreating him.
She had to see Professor Miles in fifteen minutes, so Ariadne walked off if the direction of the school. Her eyes were on the book as she reached the bridge.
"Damn, that girl is hard to get to." Said Bernie, a friend of Nash's who was in Ariadne's class. "Maybe you should give up."
"Not on this one." Nash sneered. "Now go follow her."
Ariadne walked into Miles's classroom with the keys he gave her to see him sitting on his desk. A frown coated his face as he looked down at a picture in his hand. "I thought about the building I wanted to do a virtual tour of."
"They're still missing." He said sadly. "James, Philipa, and Dom."
Ariadne sighed as she approached his desk. "I'm sorry. I hope they are found."
"Me too." Miles sighed. "They're the only family I have left, besides the Mrs."
"They'll turn up." She said. Ariadne felt bad for Miles. Since last Christmas, Miles's family vanished in thin air and he failed to find them. For some odd reason, he refused to call the police and in the end, never did. He didn't want them involved with his life only to have himself accused of kidnapping them. Ariadne wanted him to get his mind off it for a bit. "Weren't they associated with Nash?"
Miles sat up. "Your right. I could ask him if he's seen them."
"He won't tell you for free." Said Ariadne. "He knows I'm associated with you."
"Has Nash been bothering you?"
"I wouldn't say bothering." She told him. "He's my boyfriend so he flirts with me all the time, which is normal. I'm just really sick of it. I've been trying to hint him, but Nash never get's a clue."
"Well that's understandable." Said Miles. "After all, you have grown into a beautiful young woman."
Ariadne sighed. "Truth be told, he creeps me out now."
"He looks at me like I'm the girl he wants to marry."
"Well maybe he really thinks that."
"I have no feelings for him anymore." Ariadne snorted. "He's self-centered, he's rude… I think he's only looking for sex anyway."
"Some boys never become men."
"Next time you see him, will you tell him to leave me alone?" she asked. "He doesn't seem to get the message from me."
"It's done. Now what building did you want to tour?"
"Well… this might sound a little crazy. Maybe it is."
"Well what is it?"
"You know that old chateau where the Bishop family used to live?"
Miles grew wide-eyed. "Ariadne, you're not thinking about going in there I hope!"
"Well why not? No one lives there, the doors probably open, and there are no laws in France forbidding me to stay out uninvited. Your acting like there's something dangerous in there."
Miles froze and sighed. "Ariadne, it's not a good idea." He stood up and put his hands on her shoulders.
"I'll be fine." She assured him. "I'll have my phone if something goes wrong." Miles nodded.
"It's just that… you're like a granddaughter to me. If something happened to you… I don't know what I'd do. Just do me a favor and don't go in that house."
Ariadne sighed. "Then I guess I'll choose another house to just floor plan."
She was almost ready to leave. Armed with a camera, she was finishing a pop before there was a knock on the door. Ariadne was slightly confused, wondering who would visit her at that hour. When she saw who it was through the peephole, she sighed and rolled her eyes.
"What is it Nash?" To her surprise, he was wearing a nice suit and had his hair fixed up. In his hand was a bouquet of roses.
"Today is your lucky day." He said.
"Save it for later, there's something going on. Did Miles call you?" When she looked back over, he was holding out a ring.
"What do you say?" he asked. "Would you?"
Ariadne's eyes widened in shock and she sighed. "Let me think about it. Do you know where Miles's grandkids and son-in-law went?"
"His family is missing and he says they know you."
"Well he didn't call me."
"If you have any important information then tell him!" she snapped, walking over to her car.
"Where are you going?"
"Away." Was all she said before stepping into the car and driving off.
Ten minutes after she left the city, her car pulled up over a circular driveway. Forgetting Miles's warning, she was going to tour the house anyway. He wasn't there to stop her. Grabbing her supplies, Ariadne stepped out of the car. She pulled the video camera out of her bag.
"Hey Eames, check this out." An Arabian accent called out. "We have a visitor."
"Finally." Eames replied jumping on the table and looking out the window. "She's cute too."
"She's not going to stay after she see's his face." Said the Arabian voice. "Believe me."
"Maybe not." Eames jumped off the table.
"Now where are you running to?"
"I'm telling Arthur!"
"Did I hear something about a girl?" another voice called out. "Yusuf?"
"She's coming in the house." Yusuf replied. "Oh no, this isn't good."
"What do you mean not good?"
"What if Arthur see's her, she runs away and tells someone, Cobb? We can get in trouble."
"No one would believe her." Said Cobb.
Ariadne turned the camera on and pointed the lens toward the cupid fountain.
"This is Ariadne Cavandar coming live from the Bishop Chateau. This house has been empty for years after the murders of the parents Michael and Mary Bishop. As you can see, this must have been a very cheerful house back in the day but now it looks like the Haunted Mansion." She zoomed in on the fountain. "As you can see, they have a fountain with cupids on the front but there's no water running." Ariadne ran her finger over the edge to see dust at the tip. "And it's terribly dusty. This place is so big I might not get into all the rooms! This house is known to have one window for each day of the year, one fireplace for each week and one turret per month. You could say it pretty much looks like a castle that Prince William and Kate Middleton would move into."
Ariadne approached the front doors and opened them. The doors slid open like they were for a saloon. "The front doors are taller than Notre Dames and look as if they are made of redwood. Now that I'm inside, I definitely see why people agree this house is nice. Or was nice. There are cobwebs everywhere. I'm just glad I don't have to clean this place."
There were two staircases in the entrance lobby leading to the same hallway in the back. An elevator was between both staircases. The room itself had brown couches, tall lamps and two nude statuettes.
"There's an elevator right there which I will not risk being trapped in." Ariadne took out her flashlight, feeling like one of the detectives from Scooby Doo. Slowly, she walked up the stairs, which creaked loudly. The creaking echoed through the halls. She was taken by surprise when she heard a soft 'meow' at her feet.
Ariadne looked down to see a blue-eyed ginger cat looking up at her. "It appears this house has been taken over by a cat, I assume there's more. It has no collar on. Obviously it's a stray." She walked on down the hallway. The ginger cat followed behind. "And it's following me…" Ariadne ignored the cat as she proceeded to walk toward the nearest room.
The cat ran forward and dashed across the hall to the room at the end. Ariadne cocked an eyebrow and decided to follow it. The worst that could happen is more cats, right?
The room at the end looked like the work of a tornado. Chairs were thrown to the sides, mirrors were carved into spider webs, and pictures on the wall were crooked. Ariadne focused the light on one picture, of a little boy in an equestrian uniform sitting on a white stallion. He looked to be around eight years old. "I don't remember which kid was which but I think that's Arthur Bishop…" she moved on to the next picture, showing the same boy in his teens. It was a formal portrait where he wore a tuxedo with his hair slicked down. "Wonder what happened to him…"
The something at the end of the room grabbed her attention. It glowed like a holy grail, sitting around like a red button that said 'Do not push'.
It was an hourglass. Not a small old fashioned one, but one that took up almost all the table space. The only other thing on the table was a red die with the two up. The hourglass had gold sand that shown like the sun. What was strange was that there was sand on the top, slowly coming down.
"Ok I'm done." She said to herself. "This tours over." Before she ran, Ariadne could feel someone behind her breathing deeply. "Shit!"
She took off as quickly as possible, like a rocket. The camera fell out of her hand as it continued to record. Whoever was breathing was heard coming closer. Ariadne continued to run, hoping to get to the car before whoever was there got to her.
As she got to the staircase, Ariadne looked to see if she could make out a face. Out of nowhere, she felt her body drop. She ended up rolling down the stairs and landing on the hard floor.
Ariadne lost the game, as the predator came over. His deep breathing made her heart race. Hot tears came out her eyes.
"What are you doing here?" the voice could have resembled Darth Vader.
"I'm sorry!" Ariadne struggled to sit up. "I didn't know anyone lived here!" The figure had her camera in his hands. He rewound the video to see his house being recorded. "It's a project for school, I'll erase it I promise!"
The man took her flashlight and turned it on to show his face. Ariadne opened her mouth to scream but his hand clamped over it. "Take one good look at this! See what you've done to yourself?"
Ariadne pulled his hand away. "Please don't hurt me." She said. "I came here alone. No one knows I'm here."
The man put the flashlight down and Ariadne sat up, taking it in her hand and shining it on his face. What she saw was startling.
He was wearing a black mask with a breathing tube around his nose and mouth and covering his neck, explaining his raspy voice. Attached to the right side and overlapping his eye was a monocle. The areas of his face she could see looked terribly scarred, like he was attacked by a lion. His hands were also infested with scars.
"I won't tell anyone anything." She vowed, backing away towards the front door. Arthur watched her as she disappeared.
That night, as Ariadne was driving home, she only felt guilt for leaving him. He didn't look like he was in any condition to be living alone. She couldn't sleep as thoughts raced through her mind.
Maybe that poor man was lonely. When she had the chance to leave, he didn't try to attack her. He stood where he was and watched her go. Ariadne sighed as the guilt began to eat her alive.
The next morning brought a sunny Saturday. Ariadne rose from her bed and got dressed. On a typical Saturday morning, she'd go running. Instead, she ran to the store and bought cleaning supplies and cat food. Then she got in her car and drove off.
She arrived to the chateau and walked in, immediately surrounded by darkness. "Hello!" she called out. "Sir!" Ariadne walked to the nearest window and thrashed the curtains apart to be spurted by dust. A sneeze echoed through the house.
"Who's there?" the raspy voice called out.
"It's just me!" said Ariadne. "You can come out!" she looked at the top of the stairs to see the man dressed in black pants and a button down shirt.
"Why did you come back?"
"I wanted to apologize." She began. "Last night-"
"No." he interrupted. "I owe you an apology. I didn't want to scare you."
"Scare me?" Ariadne shook her head. "It's not your face that scares me, it's the way you appeared out of nowhere and chased me."
"Well it was wrong Madam. And why would you want to apologize to me?"
"Because I did the wrong thing by running. You live here alone?" Arthur nodded. "And you sit around here when you know you have a breathing problem? That's not good."
"Well you can't erase the time I got attacked." Arthur sneered.
"But I can help you." She insisted. "You live alone in a house full of stray cats and it was wrong for me not to pay attention to that."
"Why do you care?"
"Why do I care? You're not the only lonely person in this room. I may have friends back at home but I still feel lonesome." The ginger cat from the night before skipped down the stairs and walked by Arthurs feet. "Let me help you." The cat scratched against Arthurs shoes and meowed.
"Do it!" said Eames. "She's here to help us!"
Arthur stepped closer to Ariadne and noticed that she didn't move. She looked right into his eyes and waited for him to speak.
"Alright. But I have something to ask."
"What is it?"
"Could you try to come as often as possible?"
Ariadne was shocked at his question. As she was speaking to him before, he sounded like he didn't want her in his sight. In response, Ariadne smiled and nodded. "Yes. Whenever I'm free."
"And what is your name?"
"That's Latin for 'most holy' and the Goddess wife of Dionysus."
"You're the first person to point that out." She told him. "Not that many people know an Ariadne."
"I think it's a gorgeous name."
Ariadne found herself blushing at his complement.
"Rex." He lied. He couldn't let her know about his true identity.
"Well, nice to meet you Rex. I guess I'll go get the cleaning supplies then."
Fifteen minutes later, she was dusting off the counters in the room wearing a white breathing mask as she did so from all the odors of the spray. Arthur watched from the top of the stairs. The sun leaking through the windows was not too common around the house. As she cleaned, more cats appeared on the couches. Ariadne wasn't too surprised to see them but wondered why they didn't come down at first like the ginger did.
Ariadne brought out the cans of cat food and they swarmed all over. Their tails swung in the air as they enjoyed their first meal they've had in a long time. She wondered how three adults and two kittens managed to survive without much to eat.
It was time to change the light bulbs on the chandelier after feeding the cats. Arthur told Ariadne where the ladder was and looked forward as she climbed the sky-high staircase. First, she dusted the chandelier then withdrew the light bulbs. As she climbed down to get the new light bulbs, the ginger cat secretly grinned and hit the light switch.
Arthur felt a little insecure watching her fifty feet in the air. Even if she did do it part-time, his stomach was in a knot. Ariadne prepared the first light bulb.
Sparks flew, literally as Ariadne screamed. The voltage traveled up her fingers down to her hands. Arthur ran over like a bolt as she let go and fell off the step. She was lucky he caught her. Ariadne was too distracted by her burnt hands to notice he was carrying her to the couch.
"Hold still, I'll be back." Ariadne watched him run and come back a second later with a bag of ice. "I'm terribly sorry for what happened, I hope your ok."
Ariadne took the bag of ice onto her palms. "I've been burnt many times before. I once spilled boiling water on my hand and I once got a steam burn."
"Well have you ever been literally shocked?"
"Tell me about yourself Ariadne." If she was going to do his favor for him, he had to give her reasons to soften up. Plus, deep conversations made pain go away.
"I'm an architecture student." She started.
"So what do you think of the house?"
"So, what I've seen is pretty amazing. It's not everyday I see a house with turrets."
"The people who lived here never come back. It was such a nice place."
"What was it like then?"
"There was a family with four children always running around, playing games in the secret rooms and riding horses in the back. Nowadays, it's used for my hideout. No one ever has the courage to come here."
"It's not really courage that motivated me to come in. It was curiosity. I always get curious and that sometimes gets me into trouble."
"Well… when most people see someone like me, they tell the police."
Ariadne shook her head. "All night, I sat in my apartment feeling so bad. Yesterday was a bit of a stressor."
"Mind telling me what happened?"
"No, I wouldn't. I've been dating this guy who graduated from the school I go to now and last night… he asked me to marry him." Arthur sighed. "I told him I'd think about it, but the truth is, I've been trying to tell him that I've lost interest."
"You want my advice? Tell him strait forward that you want to end your relationship." Arthur suggested. "If he doesn't leave you alone, I'll take care of him."
"That's fine." Said Ariadne. "He'll back off. He thinks he's so brave but really he's a chicken. Once he get's in trouble he get's on his knees. And my professors grandchildren and son-in-law have been missing for a while now."
"I feel so bad for him. He's always focused and dedicated to his job but he's been doing worse. He might have depression problems."
"What's the name of your professor?" Arthur asked.
"Miles." Arthur recognized that name immediately. He knew the man from a while ago. That was, before he was cursed.
Ariadne left the house feeling much better about herself. Arthur was not a bad person despite his horrific appearance. For one, he saved her from brain trauma and another he listened to her problems.
Did Nash ever listen to her like that? He was never really good at advice giving and whenever she tried to talk about her problems, he'd change the subject.
It was time to let him go forever. Ariadne sat at the Parisian Café, waiting for Nash to come after he replied to her text.
"Hello hot stuff." He said sitting down.
Ariadne sighed. "I'm glad you're here."
"We'll I'm glad to see you. Did you make a decision yet?" he asked eagerly. Ariadne paused but then nodded.
"Yes, I did think it over." She told him. "And I'm going to say no."
Nash blinked in disbelief. "I must be dreaming if you're saying that."
"I mean it Nash." Ariadne closed her eyes. "The truth is, I've wanted to break up with you for a while now and this is very stressful for me. Miles's family is missing and all you care about is marrying me? I can't be with someone who doesn't care about serious issues." She sat up and put her laptop away.
"Baby…" he stood up. "Baby listen…"
"Don't you 'Baby' me!" she snapped back. "I am not your 'Baby' anymore so go find someone who has no brain in her head!" Like in the movies, she grabbed her hot espresso and swung it toward his face. With that, she was gone.
"Do you think she'll come back?" Arthur looked at the yellow cat on the table. "She came back before so she has to come again! We only have a month left before the hourglass stops!" Arthur paced around the room. "She's beautiful, there's no doubt about that, but why would she go for me? I know she broke up with her boyfriend, but she wouldn't want to get back into a relationship again."
The blonde cat starred at him in bewilderment. "Well I don't want to be a cat forever Arthur."
"I need to do more for her. What kind of flowers do you think she likes? Does she read, because I can give her the library. Maybe she likes to walk? The woods would be perfect."
"Just do what you can to get her to love you."
"I wish you could talk. How did you win Mal over?"
Cobb stretched his legs and yawned.
"Sorry Arthur. Can't talk to you." Cobb jumped off the table and trotted out of the room.
A week passed by and Ariadne found herself excited to see Arthur. Unfortunately, it was time for her to continue working at the hotel. She called the front desk.
"Are you sure you want to quit?" the man asked.
"I'm very sure. Thanks." She hung up. Ariadne had enough money to keep the apartment for another six months. Arthur was expecting her company for a movie night. Ariadne figured he needed a laugh and gathered all her Three Stooges DVD's.
Back at the chateau, Arthur was trying to fix up his hair. No matter what he did though, it just didn't look good enough. "Stupid wench." He cursed upon the woman who made him miserable.
"Rex!" Ariadne called. The ginger cat sitting on the toilet looked over.
"Go get her Darling."
Arthur escorted her to the old TV room. The screen was the same size as one used in a movie theater and the DVD player was a projector. "This is awesome. These people really had a lot of money."
"They sure did…" Arthur recalled the time that room was added to the house. "Well, it makes sence to be rich if you own boarding schools all over Europe."
"Their oldest son took over, right?"
That was Arthur's oldest sibling Lance, and he's been running the schools. He's made serious changes to the way the schools were ran. If his parents were still around, they would be unhappy with him. "Yes."
"What happened to Arthur Bishop?"
Arthur sighed. "I don't know. But let's not worry right now. We have some laughing to do."
"I think you'll like this movie a lot. The Three Stooges always make me laugh."
"I've never watched them." He said, popping the DVD into the drive. The projector turned on and they started to watch season one. Arthur took out a blanket and put it over her. After he sat down, Arthur was surprised to feel her leaning into him.
As the first episode progressed, so did their laughs. Arthur usually never enjoyed such silly stunts but it was better than Jackass at least. They watched several episodes without getting up.
At the seventh episode, Arthur felt something brush over his palm. He looked to see that Ariadne's hand enclosed with his. When she touched his skin, she didn't shutter or pull away.
"They always get in trouble, don't they?" After the last episode, Arthur looked over at Ariadne to see she was fast asleep, using his arm as a pillow. She looked like she hadn't slept in forever with all her school work keeping her busy. Thinking about the value of sleep to a student, he didn't want to wake her. But he didn't want to leave her to sleep in the movie theater.
Arthur slowly brought the arm she was leaning on around her shoulders. He looked to see if she would stir instantly after doing so. When she didn't, he placed his other arm under her knees bringing her off the cushion.
Ariadne still didn't make a sound as he stood up and walked out. Her head leaned on his shoulder as he proceeded to a bedroom.
When he got inside his room, Arthur placed her down on the bed and pulled the sheets over her. With her on the other side, he took the chance to run his fingers through her mahogany hair. He wondered if she would let him do that if she was awake.
He wanted more than anything to kiss her and tell her the truth. If he took off his mask to do so he would die. The real problem was whether or not a kiss was worth death.
In fear, he backed away to tone down the lights.
This is for a contest at Deviantart and yes, there's another part. You can see all the pictures on my profile.