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Murder - or is it?

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Murder - or is it? New years Eve, 1938. And there I was, on an extensive boat, the Rhine Maiden, owned by one Iain Masque. The same Iain Masque that sent me a mysterious letter, inviting me to celebrate the coming of 1939 with him and his 'well selected' (or so the invitation said!) guests. But why does Mr. Masque want me, a private investigator at an event like this? Anyway, I was there now, so I thought I'd better try and make some new acquaintances. I noticed a young woman in a long scarlet dress. As I walked towards her, I noticed large cavities, almost like caves, in the dark stone walls that made up the canyon in which the River Rhine laid, the river that the Rhine Maiden was afloat upon. In the distance I could make out the silhouette of a huge ch�teau on the top of a mountain. From all the way down there, it looked very eerie, like a large beast, sleeping. So, back to the lady. I walked forward and stopped about a foot in front of her. Her sequin embroided dress glistened in the moonlight. She then looked at me, almost quizzically, and spoke in a soft American accent. "You're here. I felt strangely alone on this ship. Can I trust you?" All of this was said as if she knew me. Though I found this peculiar, it did make me feel like I had found a friend. "Of course," I replied kindly. "Listen I'm parched. Maybe you could get me a drink from the bar downstairs." "May I ask you a few questions beforehand ma'am?" I said. "Certainly, and please, call me Ms. Burton." "Why... thank you," I replied. When I had finished talking to Ms. Burton, I discovered that magician, Martin Urfe, was on the boat, and he seemed to a lot about me, possibly too much. ...read more.


It was Iain Masque. The door behind him clicked shut. Every person on board had gathered around to see him. Burton and Forest had come inside and they too were watching him. It was silent for a few moments, and then he spoke. "Greetings friends. Thank you all for coming to my little New Year's Eve f�te. If we get to the ch�teau my good friend Martin Urfe will entertain us with his incredible illusion - Escape from Death. But that's only the start. Take time to meet your fellow guests. Each of you has been especially selected. Please enjoy my ship and my collection. I promise you that this New Year's Eve will bring you amazing, even startling surprises." He finished his speech and walked slowly to the bottom of the flight of stairs that I was descending. He stood there, looking at me with an inquisitive smile. I reached the bottom and stared at him. Gold teeth twinkling in the light of the paraffin lamps that hung randomly around the wooden ceiling, he spoke. "Ahh. My last guest, and such an important one too," Masque said, still smiling at me. "Why did you invite all these people here?" I said, trying to sound interested and polite. "Give me the box and everything will become clear," he said suavely. "Just one more thing; who are all these people?" "Oh, mingle, meet them. Such an incredible assortment of people and all of them want something from me. But you are the wild card in this party. I'd tell you what you're doing here, but then that would take all the fun away, now wouldn't it?" Masque said with a ring of superiority in his voice. When talking to Masque he made me feel almost guilty of something, though what I didn't know. I pondered on his question, 'now wouldn't it?' and offered him the box. ...read more.


I turned back around, and looked at the room properly. I couldn't believe my eyes. The room was completely covered in what looked like a giant jigsaw puzzle. Well, at least it did until I examined it more closely. Nearly the whole room was made of mirrors. I realised that the floor mirrored the ceiling, the right wall mirrored the left and the wall behind me mirrored the one in front. Everything looked strangely out of proportion. I discovered that the mirror to the right had something in the centre. I walked over to the opposite wall and scrutinised the tiles. They slid about if you pushed them hard enough. I must have to get the tile in the middle of the mirror, in the middle of this, I thought, glancing around the room and seeing that same tile in the centre of every wall and every reflection. Left, right, up, down. I lost track of the movements. At last the motif was nearly complete; three tiles left, two left, one tile left... BANG! The door burst open. To start with I didn't realise who it was. The bright light flooded into the room, dazzling my vision. An outline of a well-built man with his arm outstretched was blackened against the bright light. "Don't move or touch anything!" a voice screamed. I couldn't believe my ears, it was the voice of Iain Masque! What was he doing?! My sight was beginning to adjust to the light when a second silhouette appeared. This time it was Burton, who too had her arm outstretched. The outstretched arms where clutching guns! They stood there for a moment, staring into each other's eyes. I could see Burton reaching for something out of her handbag; trying to conceal her movements from Masque. I slowly reached for my pocket for something to defend myself with. I knew I had nothing of any use against guns, but I knew it would make me feel better. The air was full of tension and suspense, and there I was, weapon poised, my destiny in my own hands... By Andrew Bradbury ...read more.

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