Thursday, November 2, 2023

A Weekend At Munson Manor - Episode 12: The Stairs Leading Up

A Weekend at
Munson Manor

A Weekend at Munson Manor
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A Weekend at Munson Manor

A Weekend at Munson Manor is an interactive Choose Your Own Path story. Each episode, readers vote for the path they would like to take. Together, we will follow the path with the most votes.

A Weekend at Munson Manor

Thankfully, the door doesn’t squeak. It swings open easily. You cross the threshold, finding yourself in a stairwell. Closing the door behind you, you are faced with a decision. Which stairs should you take?

  • The ones leading upstairs.
    You didn’t even know there was a third story.
  • The ones leading downstairs.
    Maybe you’ll find some clues about what happened to the butler.

The stairs creak as you ascend, but the sound is muffled by your rapid heartbeat. This is so exciting!

When you reach the top, you pass through another door into a corridor much like the one you just left. On your left is a peephole. As you peer in, you half-expect to see Mr. Giles sitting on the bed. However, the room is empty. The white spread on the chestnut sleigh bed looks untouched. There are no suitcases near the matching wardrobe or desk. The only sign that someone may have been in the room is the man’s blazer draped on the overstuffed floral armchair.

You’re tempted to explore the room. There’s probably a button near the wardrobe.

You continue down the corridor, surprised to see another peephole at the end. The room beyond looks much like the one behind you, except with lemon yellow chairs and bed coverings. You do your best to look down on the bed. Something seems to be against the wall. Isn’t that a man’s shoe?

You strain, but you can’t quite make out what’s lying there. And you’re dying to know.

Turning the corner, you find the button and doorway to the room almost exactly where yours is on the floor beneath. But you don’t want to enter. What if that’s a person sleeping? Beyond invading someone’s privacy, which, of course, you don’t want to do, do you really want anyone else to know about the secret passages?

Like the second floor, the passageway is small. It ends with one more peephole looking into the corridor. You see several doors, all closed. And something else across the way. Is that another set of stairs?

It is! And someone is coming up them! Instinctively, you step away from the peephole. It takes a good two or three heartbeats for you to remember no one can see you.

You creep back to the hole in time to see the person walking straight toward you. It’s Mr. Munson and Officer Gibson.

The officer steps into the empty room on your left, looks in all directions, then returns to the hallway, gesturing for Mr. Munson to enter the room. “You are to stay here until the detective calls for you.”

Your host nods. “Of course. Thank you.”

As the officer disappears down the stairs, Mr. Munson closes his door. You hurry around the corner to the bedroom peephole, reaching it as a phone rings. Mr. Munson opens the bottom drawer of his desk and pulls out a phone. It’s one of those old-fashioned black rotary dials where the receiver sits on the base. A wire extends into the desk drawer.

What an odd place to keep a phone. Why not on the desk? And why not use his cell?

Frowning, you strain to listen as Mr. Munson places the receiver near his ear. “Hello? … Yes, this is he.”

Mr. Munson is silent for a long time, though he does nod occasionally. How you wish you knew what the person on the other end of the line is saying. It feels like forever before Mr. Munson responds.

“Yes. I understand.”

After hanging up the phone, Mr. Munson returns it to the drawer and enters the bathroom on the far side of the room.

Not knowing how long he may be, you return to the peephole across the hall. A man is sitting on the bed, his back to you. He is wearing blue pajamas, the big bulky ones that usually button down the front. How many times have you seen them on television? You never knew anyone actually wore them. They’re probably period clothes like yours.

The man gets to his feet, crossing to the bathroom. Ugh. Why is that all anyone wants to do tonight?

You check on Mr. Munson, but he hasn’t returned to his room. Is that running water you hear? Maybe a shower? It’s a little too far away for you to be certain.

Spying on people through secret passages isn’t nearly as exciting as you expected it to be. Maybe you should just turn around. Check out where the passage leads to downstairs.

Yet something is keeping you here. Curiosity. You’re still dying to know who is in the other bedroom. It has to be Mr. Rollins or Mr. Kline. But why would either man be staying up here when the rest of the guests are on the second floor?

Or were there? Closing your eyes, you try to picture the layout of your floor. Two bedrooms at the top of the stairs. Down the hall, three more rooms. And the Giles couple is around the corner. That’s all seven guests. So who is staying up here?

You return to the room above yours. The man emerges from the bathroom, drying his face with a towel. As he turns to the bed, he lowers it.

Who do you see?

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