MMH: Wooh! I'm so excited. Christmas time is here so I thought I'd start this old baby up again. Don't forget to review and/or favorite!
December 17th, 1946
Melanie awoke the next morning feeling exhausted. She had gone to bed early, but hadn't slept at all since the new place had her riddled with anxiety. Insomnia had frequently been an issue for her since she was a child and no doctor had been able to help her with it. There was also an unsettling thump just as she was about to fall asleep that had left her completely awake for a vast majority of the night.
The room was chilly since the fire in the fireplace had died out and there was no heater to be found. She rolled out of bed and slowly trudged over to the vanity table huddled in a corner. Her short, curly brown hair stuck out every which way and small bags hung under her dull blue eyes. She sighed to herself in apathy before continuing over to the bathroom. Today was going to be a long day.
After cleaning up and getting dressed in a blue turtleneck and a plaid skirt, Melanie closed the door to her bedroom and turned around to slam right into a firm slab of muscle. She gently pushed off the wall of fabric and looked up to see the man she ran into last night.
"You seem to have a habit of running into people." He peered down at her and gave a charming smirk. His warm chocolate eyes pierced right through her and she felt breathless.
"Sorry." Melanie managed to squeak out and glued her focus to the floor, afraid to keep eye contact with the attractive stranger.
"Don't worry, I find it's rather adorable. You're Melanie, am I correct?" The man asked politely. She nodded shyly and rubbed her neck.
"I'm afraid I have a terrible memory. What was your name?"
"I'm Brett… Green." The man added his last name as if he had to think about it. That thought confused Melanie, but she quickly swept it aside. It was entirely possible that he simply added his last name as an afterthought. "Are you heading down to breakfast?" he asked politely. She looked up with a smile on her small face.
"Yes. I'm afraid I didn't get much sleep last night so I'm hoping some warm food will make me feel better." The man looked at Melanie concerned and took a step closer to her. Warmth radiated from his body and it was then that she realized how cold she had been before.
"I'm sorry to hear that. Allow me to escort you." Brett looped his arm around hers and the two made their way downstairs.
"Thank you." The couple walked into the dining room to see that Wadsworth had already set up all the food for breakfast. Mrs. White and Professor Plum sat next to one another chattering idly on one end of the table while the Colonel sat on the end closest to the kitchen. Deciding to sit at the end, Brett chivalrously pulled out Melanie's chair next to the Colonel's and sat next to her.
"I see you've made a friend." The older man noted with a grin on his face. Melanie grabbed the napkin and placed it gently onto her lap.
"This is Mr. Green." She said as she shyly gestured to the young man beside her. He stuck out his hand to the older man and smiled cordially. Mustard was no longer wearing his uniform and was instead donned in a thick, cream-colored wool sweater.
"The name's Brett. It's a pleasure to meet you, Colonel." Brett was so charismatic and Melanie could do little but sit back in awe.
"Aye! And I you." The colonel smiled as his cheeks grew red with his hearty laughter. After the older man returned to his sausage and eggs, Melanie and Brett continued their conversation.
"You sure are full of manners." Green playfully teased and Melanie's cheeks flushed.
"Ah yes, my mother insisted I take debutante classes when I was younger and I suppose the behavior stuck with me."
"Well I hope I don't offend. The only thing I know how to do is eat with my mouth closed and that's about it." He smiled.
"Not at all." Miss Peacock giggled and looked at the man she was talking to appreciatively. He certainly had a rustic charm to him that she had not seen at the country club she had gone to growing up. While the majority of the country had been deeply affected by the Great Depression, she and her family were living in luxury thanks to her grandfather's luck in the oil business. Allowing her mind to get ahead of her, Melanie imagined Brett to be the kind of person to help out at soup kitchens feeding the poor while he was barely better off than they were. It was rather silly, but romantic.
"Hey look." Brett whispered as he nodded his head down the table. Melanie leaned over and saw Mrs. White looking at the pair with a sentimental appreciation as her head rested in her hands. However she swiftly turned to feign a conversation with the Professor when she realized she was caught. Brett and Melanie giggled at the older woman, but more in an endearing manner than teasing.
"She's probably quite the romantic." She said without thinking as she propped her head in her hand.
"What makes you say that?" he questioned curiously. Melanie looked at the young man slightly embarrassed. She had always enjoyed watching others; it made writing people easier for her, but it was embarrassing the more she had thought about it.
"Her posture and mannerisms. Everything she does is so fluent and soft." Melanie stated softly as she looked at the older woman thoughtfully. She reminded her quite a bit of her mother before her father died. Quickly remembering how she was supposed to hate her mother at the moment, the young woman cleared her throat and turned to Brett. "Plus, I can't imagine her being the type to marry for money or anything like that."
"True. You're very good at reading people."
"Has anyone seen Mr. Body?" The Colonel asked when he looked up and realized that the host had not yet made his presence known. Mrs. White suddenly stiffened and put the fork she was using on the table. Despite that she had tried to place the item down casually the utensil dropped to the table with an awkward clang.
"He is currently up in his room sleeping like the dead. It seems that last night left him quite under the weather." She stated politely before carefully picking up her fork again with a shaking hand. Though everyone pretended not to noticed, Melanie caught a slight sneer appear on the woman's face. The people at the table exchanged uncomfortable glances but decided not to say anything. They must have not gotten off very well.
"There you are Melanie! I went up to your room, but you weren't there." Melanie turned towards the voice to see Alexandra gliding towards the table. She was wearing a deep red wool knitted dress that was much more conservative than the outfit the night before. It had long sleeves and the ribbed pattern tightened against her ample bosom.
"I'm sorry. Brett asked if he could escort me to breakfast and I didn't know you'd want me to come with you." Melanie smiled weakly as she gestured to the young man at her side. Miss Scarlett looked at Brett with feigned interest.
"Oh. I'll just sit next to the Colonel, then." She said. Brett stood suddenly and pulled out his seat for the beautiful woman.
"No it's fine I was just about to leave." He insisted. Casually Alex took the spot and he gently pushed the chair in for her. Brett looked to Melanie and smiled before nodding his head as a goodbye. "I'll see you around Miss Peacock."
"He's attractive." Scarlett whispered into the Melanie's ear as Brett left and she blushed furiously. The dining room fell silent, but instead of awkward like it had been last night it was now peaceful. However that peacefulness was broken when they heard Mr. Body's heavy footsteps trod down the stairs. His clumsy figure slammed against the doorframe, looking in at everyone with burning hostility. Three scratches surrounded by dried blood decorated his cheek as he scanned the room hazardously. He glared over his guests, especially Mrs. White, before his eyes caught the empty chair next on the other side of Miss Scarlett.
"Alexandra, beautiful as always. Who's your new friend?" he crooned as he took the spot and grabbed a spoonful of scrambled eggs before shoving it into his mouth. Melanie did not appreciate the way Mr. Body spoke to the two women. His voice dripped with desire for both her and Miss Scarlett. She now had a good assumption of why he and Mrs. White did not get along.
"I'm Melanie Peacock. It's a pleasure to meet you." She said, trying to sound as polite as possible.
"The pleasure is all mine." He said, his words dripping with lust. Melanie tried her hardest not to gag and she placed her hands in her lap. Alex, disgusted by the new presence, stood and grabbed Miss Peacock's hand.
"Let's go Melanie. I'm not hungry anymore. Would you like to talk a walk around the grounds with me?" she rushed, clearly wanting to leave as soon as possible.
"Sure. That sounds lovely." She agreed.
The two women had been walking all throughout the manor for about thirty minutes, exploring every crevice and cranny out of boredom. The weather outside had calmed down considerably and now gentle snowflakes stuck to each window they passed. The pair had started up on the third floor and were now making their way along the first floor back to the dining room.
"So what brings you here anyways?" Melanie asked. She was rather curious about why all the guests had chosen to reside in the Compass Manor. Surely they had families to spend Christmas with, unlike her.
"Mr. Body is my uncle." Miss Scarlett's words had barely been registered by the other woman, who looked at her in astonishment. How could such a creepy fellow be related to such a kind, albeit gratuitously promiscuous, woman?
"Well, sort of; his brother married my aunt. He's quite horrible if you ask me, but he's the only sort of family I have left."
"I'm sorry to hear that." Melanie comforted, both for Miss Scarlett's relation to the owner and for her family's deaths.
"Oh it's nothing really; just a series of unfortunate events." A brief sad silence fell between the two as Alex looked around the hall with nostalgia in her eyes. "I used to come here all the time when I was younger. Funny how you forget little details like the color of the doors or the feel of the carpet. I remember my father used to walk with me down the halls on Sundays. It was nice. Now I can't even remember what color his eyes were."
"Time can be cruel that way." Melanie sighed in agreement. She too was forgetting little details about her father that she would probably never get back.
"How dare you treat a lady in such a way?!" the women heard someone shout from the lounge. The two exchanged glances before running towards the racket to inspect what had happened.
"This is my manor and I'll do whatever I want." Mr. Body said as he folded his arms defiantly. He and the colonel were standing in the center of the room having a heated discussion with Mrs. White backed up in a corner looking very scared. Alex and Melanie weren't the only ones to have heard the noise because both Brett and Wadsworth rushed in after them. Colonel Mustard's face was now a deep crimson and he leapt at the owner. The colonel certainly had an advantage over the much scrawnier man, but didn't have the time to do much damage. Wadsworth and Brett sprinted over to the two and quickly pulled them apart.
"I'm terribly sorry Colonel, but if you keep acting this way I'm afraid I'll have to ask you to leave." The butler did honestly sound sorry. Mustard eventually calmed himself and the two men let him go.
"Alright, no need to gang up on me. I'll leave 'im alone." The colonel said as he brushed the wrinkles out of his sweater. Mr. Body puffed up his chest in triumph and stormed out of the room, but not before ramming into Professor Plum who had just entered to investigate the noise.
"Out of my way, you fucking faggot." The owner seethed as he passed the older man. Plum watched him go, his face heavy with horror and embarrassment. Wadsworth quickly followed after the owner, most likely to calm him down. Melanie ran to Mrs. White who was no longer in the corner but instead anxiously sitting in a chair. She crouched in front of the woman with a calming expression.
"Are you alright, ma'am?"
"Yes, dearie. It seems that we weren't properly introduced this morning. My name is Debora White." The older woman stuck out a shaky manicured hand and the younger woman took it. Melanie's skin warmed Mrs. White's practically frozen hand.
"I'm Melanie Peacock."
"What a beautiful name. I wanted to name my daughter Melanie, but my husband liked the name Beth better."
"You have a husband?" Melanie asked, trying to hide her surprise. What was a married woman doing all alone during a holiday?
"Well, I suppose you could say I did. He… passed away." Mrs. White said as she blinked rapidly, most likely to hold back tears.
"I'm terribly sorry to hear that. My father passed away just recently." It suddenly made sense of why this sweet woman was willing to put up with such a seemingly unbearable man. She was lonely. Debora swallowed uncomfortably and gave the younger woman a comforting smile.
"Are you alright Missus White?" the colonel asked as he walked over and crouched down beside Melanie.
"Yes I'm fine. You didn't have to confront him like that."
"He tried to rape poor you, ma'am! I had to do something."
"How awful." Alex, who was now standing behind Melanie, clucked her tongue and folded her arms in disapproval.
"I tried to make 'im apologize, but he refused. I guess things got a little out of hand after that."
"I think you did the right thing, Colonel. No need to be ashamed if you're fighting for a lady's honor." Professor Plum comforted the stout man who slumped his shoulders in defeat. Everyone nodded in agreement with what the professor had said.
"That's right! Besides everyone here likes you far more than Mr. Body anyway." Alexandra added and rubbed the older man's back appreciatively.
"You alright there, Colonel?" Brett asked as he headed over to the group. Melanie glanced down to the ground, smiling at his presence.
"Yes I'm fine. I just suppose I let my temper get the best of me, Mr. Green." The colonel greeted sheepishly and he rubbed the back of his neck.
"Please, call me Brett."
"Hello Brett." Melanie whispered shyly. He looked at her and his whole face lit up. He smiled at her happily and nodded his head as acknowledgement.
"Well now that the situation has been resolved I think I'll head back to my room for a nap." Mrs. White muttered calmly. Soon everyone followed suit and went about to either explore or sit around in their room.
Melanie had been staring at her pen and paper for about twenty minutes trying to come up with the plot for her new story. The instant she returned to her room she sprawled around on her bed and tried to get to work. Where was she to begin? Surely I can grab some inspiration from what's going on around me. She thought. She wrote down the names of everyone in the manor and their characteristics.
"… Let's see, Miss Scarlett is quite the social butterfly and Mrs. White reminds me of a caring stay-at-home mother. That's everyone. Now what can I do with this? Maybe they're all family members gathering at Thanksgiving? No, no… that's stupid." She said to herself. A soft knocking pulled Melanie from the conversation with herself and she looked to the door that she had left open. Professor Plum was staring at her with his beady eyes, only this time a hint of nervousness was hidden in them. His black hair was streaked with lines of silver and he attempted a tight smile.
"Hello madam, the other guests and I wanted to know if you were coming to lunch." He announced. His thick accent was quite a distraction.
"Oh I would, but I really do have to start this stupid book. If I don't start now there's no way I'll be done when I get back."
"Alright. Supper then." He said, making his request sound more like a demand. Melanie nodded and the professor stood watching her for a moment before taking his leave.
"What a strange man." She whispered before turning back to her work.
"What a terrible mess, you've caused. I'll have to bleach the tub." Wadsworth looked down in the tub with disgust. This was not the first time Mr. Body had caused such an untidy disturbance. "What would you like me to do with it?" he sighed as he looked over to the drunken man.
"Bring the torso to the kitchen and hang it in the freezer. Toss the rest out in the woods I suppose. Let the vultures eat them."
"Of course, sir." Wadsworth grabbed the body and shoved it into the trash bag he had brought with him. He pulled at the straps and heaved the bag over his shoulder before leaving the room, accidentally leaving the door open.
Mr. Body had consumed a bit too much brandy by the time he had gotten back to his room. His day had been utterly terrible. First, that Mrs. White led him along and then punched him in the eye, and then he got into that scuffle with the hot-tempered Colonel. Not to mention that Alex's appearance had put a total damper on his entire holiday. How dare she think she had rights being there? Lunch had been horrible and he had left early, deciding to go hunting. Now he was stuck with a giant corpse in his tub.
"Hey, what are you doing in my room? Get out." The man slurred as he stared at the blurry silhouette. Instead of leaving, the figure moved into the room and quietly closed the door. "Are you fucking deaf? I said get out." Without saying a word the person grasped the handle of a knife that had been hidden in their pocket and sliced at the man's neck. The thin red lined quickly began gushing warm red trickles of blood. Mr. Body opened his mouth in surprise and tried to speak, but nothing came out but gurgles. He reached up to his neck and his eyes grew wide at how much blood was pouring out. The person watched as Mr. Body stumbled backwards and fell to the floor. He was in shock. His body convulsed and he grabbed fistfuls of his rug, his hand staining the lovely green fabric. The blade had cut him rather deeply so it made sense that he would have that much blood loss so quickly. Wadsworth would be back soon and Mr. Body had to be hidden, but where?
"The closet'll have to do for now."
Dinner had been rather pleasant. Mr. Body had decided not to join the guests and Melanie had gotten the chance to have a little chat with the others. It seemed that very few had intentions of actually staying at the manor for the holidays. Mrs. White was on her way to her mother's house for New Year's, Professor Plum was on his way to a chemistry seminar in New York, and Colonel Mustard was in the area to check out a house that was for sale.
"Yes I will probably leave on the twenty-second seeing as that the seminar is on the third and I'd like to settle into my hotel." The professor noted. Melanie feigned a frown and patted his hand in comfort.
"That's too bad. I'm sure we'll miss you when we gather around the tree." She said. After supper Melanie returned to her room to continue her book. Though she didn't have much, it was a decent start. She had finally decided to have her characters come together because of the apocalypse. It was a rather dark subject, but it didn't really matter to her. Yet another knock on her door stopped Melanie just as she was about to sit at her desk. Letting out an exasperated sigh she got up and opened the door.
"Alexandra. What are you doing awake?" Melanie asked surprised.
"Not everyone goes to bed at ten-thirty, you know." The lady teased as she glided into Melanie's room with a small makeup bag in tow. The young woman's eyes drooped to the ground in embarrassment. The two women sat on the giant bed when Miss Scarlett grinned mischievously. "Let me paint your toes! It'll be like we're teenagers again." She squealed.
"Oh no, there's no need…"
"Relax, it's fun!"
"Please don't. I hate my feet." Melanie pleaded as she pulled her feet underneath her bottom. It was a silly thing to hate, but it didn't matter to Melanie. She had grown up having quite large feet and she was frequently teased because of them.
"Don't worry, love. Mine are probably far more boorish than yours. Now let me see!" Alex finally managed to capture Melanie's manly feet and she pried them from their hiding spot. "So what do you think of everyone here?" Scarlett gossiped.
"Everyone is fine I suppose. Mrs. White is rather nice and the Colonel reminds me a lot of my father."
"What about Brett?" Alexandra hinted playfully and wiggled her eyebrows at Melanie expectantly.
"He seems rather nice as well." Melanie noted.
"Aw c'mon that can't be the only thing you think about him." She teased and gently blew on Melanie's pedicured feet.
"Honestly I don't know that much about Mr. Green to make a decent assessment, but he is rather dashing isn't he?" Peacock confessed. The two women fell into a fit of giggles in agreement.
"Alright, fair enough. But that Professor Plum certainly gives me the willies. I just know that can't be his real last name; no way with that thick German accent." Melanie felt a slightly upset pout form. Though the Professor was somewhat intimidating (and agreeing with her friend's opinion, rather creepy), there was no reason for him to be judged based on his nationality. He should be judged based on his character, not where he was born. Unfortunately she realized that she was one of the few that believed that.
"He probably changed it during the war to avoid harsh disapproval." Melanie said as she pulled on the hem of her shirt.
"Well he did anyways. I heard that's why he got fired."
"How horrible! Where did you hear that?" the younger woman gasped.
"From the professor himself. He was talking to Wadsworth about it earlier this evening."
"That's so sad."
"Oh shoot. A thread's come loose in my sleeve." Alexandra huffed. A red string dangled on the woman's elbow and she pouted. "I'll be right back." Melanie sat on her bed for a moment waiting for her friend to come back when the lights flickered briefly before the room went entirely dark. She heard the scream and fumbled her way to the door.
"Alex?" Melanie called out down the hall.
"I'm here!" her voice called out, somewhere downstairs. What was she doing so far from her room? Surely that's where she meant to go. Resting her hand on the wall, Melanie carefully rummaged her way to the staircase and tiptoed down the stairs. She squinted at the ground to see the faint outline of Alexandra. "What on earth are you doing down here?"
"I went to ask Wadsworth where some scissors were and I was on the stairs when the power went out." The woman pouted.
"Did you fall? Are you hurt?" Melanie asked concerned, checking the woman's face for any possible wounds.
"Don't worry, I'll be fine. Just a bruised bottom I'm sure." Alexandra joked. Miss Peacock helped the other woman up.
"If everyone would please head down to the lounge to make sure everyone is safe." They heard Wadsworth's voice boom throughout the halls of the manor. The noise bounced off the walls and the cold marble floor.
"We're already practically there!" Alex said a hint of playfulness in her voice. The two women headed into the lounge to thankfully find that a few candles had already been set up and lit for lighting.
"I hate this." Melanie whispered as she headed to a nearby cabinet in search for another candle to light.
"Don't worry. The dark isn't that scary." Scarlett gently teased as she wrapped a hand around Melanie's arm. Melanie looked down at the offending appendage confused, but didn't remove it. The two continued to search the cabinet and eventually found two more candles. Heading over to one of the lit candlestick, the women stuck the wicks in the fire and they were consumed in flames.
"What is scary then?" Peacock asked.
"Being forgotten." Melanie glanced over at Alex taken aback by the abrupt statement. She was also taken aback by how much it related to her situation at that moment. Her mother was probably on a beach right now pretending that her daughter didn't even exist. The guests filed into the room one by one and took seats waiting for everyone to arrive. When Brett entered he made a bee-line for the two younger women and stood beside Miss Peacock. Soon all were there; all but Mr. Body.
"Where on Earth could he be?" Melanie asked curiously.
"That man can sleep through a cattle drive. I wouldn't worry." The group turned towards the voice to see Wadsworth standing in the doorway. His hair was disheveled and dirt stained his once tidy tuxedo.
"Wadsworth Why is your suit all dirty?" Alexandra asked, slightly worried. Brett and Melanie looked curiously over to the butler and saw that his suit was all tattered and stained with a dark substance.
"Forgive me. There was a… hindrance that needed to be taken care of. I checked the power outlets, but there seems to be nothing wrong with them. I suggest that everyone go back to their rooms and wait this bad weather out." Everyone made noises of agreement or annoyance for being woken up for no real reason.
"Would you like me to walk you back to your room?" Brett asked politely and held out his hand to her. Melanie felt her face flush slightly.
"Oh no, she'll be—" Alexandra attempted to say, but she was interrupted by her friend.
"I'd love that." Melanie said completely forgetting that she had previously been talking with Miss Scarlett before the power went out. She took Brett's hand and the two headed back upstairs.
"I'd love to walk you back to your room, madam." Professor Plum slid beside Alexandra who glared at the old man and folded her arms in disgust.
"Oh shut up." She let out an angry huff before storming up to her room with the professor sighing in defeat before heading to the kitchen for a glass of wine.
"It can be quite dangerous in the dark if you're not careful." Brett whispered as he turned to her. Though he was quite a bit taller than she was, his face was rather close. Not that Miss Peacock minded.
"I'm sure I'll be fine with you by my side." She smiled.
A thick cord wrapped around the Professor's neck and tightened quickly, cutting off all air. He reached up towards his neck and pulled at his clumsily, but his frail state left him quite unable to defend himself. The figure continued to tighten the coiled cord until there was a distinct sound of Professor Plum's larynx crunching. The man fell limp and all of his deadweight was thrown upon the hidden figure who gently guided him to the floor and took a breath. The cord that was used to tie up the curtains fell from the persons hand. The professor was not supposed to die. The old coot decided to check up on Mr. Body only to see that the figure was trying to move the now dead owner. The plan was going to have to be changed, it seemed. The figure awkwardly dragged the corpse of the man to the closet that was hiding Mr. Body. The person and placed him on the ground before throwing a couple jackets on top of the pair of bodies.