Hal Winchester was nearly the last to arrive. It was the perfect Halloween night which meant that the sky had poured buckets, complicating the drive up the dark, unfamiliar road until the old, red Chevrolet could fight its way through the mud no longer and refused to carry its passenger any further.
Grudgingly Hal had marched the rest of the way across the inky lane, wondering why he had bothered with this scene at all. And as it was the perfect Halloween night, by the time Hal reached the front door of the looming mansion, the rain had ceased to fall and a bright full harvest moon illuminated the thoroughly drenched young man.
He paused on the front step and glanced at the windows nearest the door, but a curtain hid the interior of the small mansion from view. As a cool wind blew across the back of Hal’s neck, he shivered, rubbing his hands together and smiled to himself.
How spooky, he thought, grinning. It was as if this all was straight out of a movie—the mysterious invitation, the anonymous host, the isolated mansion.
Hal rang the doorbell and a moment later, the door swung open admitting him into a cavernous hall, glowing with light and warmth to contrast the cold, wet night.
“Nice of you to show up Hal.”
Hal turned towards the sarcastic voice and found Wendy Apple staring back at him.
“No costume?” Wendy followed immediately up with.
Hal gestured towards himself and raised an eyebrow. “This is my costume.”
Wendy repositioned her own witch’s hat and frowned. “Well, what are you then?”
“I’m a detective.”
“I take it you’re not our hostess?”
Wendy shrugged. “I could be.”
Hal shook his head. “If you were the hostess, you would have known that my role in this thing is the detective.”
Wendy blinked blankly. “What do you mean your role is the detective?”
Hal laughed and ignored her. “Where’s everybody else?”
“In the drawing room. I heard the doorbell and offered to get it.”
“Well let’s go, I want to see who else is here.”
Wendy turned and led the way down a wide hall with dark green carpets and old-fashioned lamps on the walls.
The drawing room was on the left. Two chandeliers hung from the ceiling and sofas were positioned strategically about the room, and a roaring fire crackled in its place at the far end.
There were eight other people sitting and standing around the room, some chatting casually, others pacing silently.
“Well detective, time to interrogate the other guests.” Wendy smirked and slipped off to the side to begin a conversation with a young gentleman dressed as a vampire who seemed only a few years older than Hal.
Hal’s eyes swept the room. Ten strangers wasn’t much of a party.
“So what’s the game?” Hal asked loudly to nobody in particular as if hoping that the mysterious host would reveal himself.
He glanced around at the other guests who were all wearing typical Halloween costumes—a woman dressed like a cat curled up on the couch, a last-minute scarecrow sitting beside her, some kind of superhero, a nurse, and the rest of the usuals.
“Someone didn’t get the memo that this was a costume party,” the scarecrow called out to Hal.
Wendy turned from her vampire companion, leaping to Hal’s defense. “He’s a detective.”
“What kind of party is this anyways?” Hal asked the scarecrow.
The scarecrow shrugged. “Beats me.”
The cat, catching Hal’s eye, winked.
The superhero leaned forward on the sofa and said, “Punch?” offering to pour a glass for Hal from the glass bowl on the table in front of him.
The superhero offered Hal the cup. “Well this is exciting, isn’t it? I was the second to arrive, after Jack over there,” he said motioning towards Wendy’s vampire. “We went together to open the door for the witch, Wendy, and when we came back there was suddenly punch and appetizers waiting for us in here. I wonder what’s going to happen next.”
“Thank you,” Hal murmured as he accepted the glass of red punch.
“I was going to have a look around, but I’ve been too curious to see who else arrives,” the superhero added. “Think you’re the last one?”
Hal shrugged. “I did just arrive rather fashionably late. So you don’t know anybody else here then? I’m Hal by the way.”
The superhero extended an arm for a handshake. “Trevor. No, I didn’t know anybody. Want to go explore with me?”
Hal nodded. “Yes, alright. Where should we start?” He took one sip of punch then placed the glass on the table and glanced once more at the others around the room. “Has anyone figured out what we all have in common yet?”
Trevor shook his head. “What a clever party, don’t you think?”
Hal led the way out of the drawing room and back into the hall. “Hello?” he called out loudly. His voice echoed around the empty rooms. “Anybody there?”
And nobody was.
“Beautiful moon tonight,” Trevor commented.
Hal nodded his agreement. “It’s almost a bit rude, don’t you think?”
Trevor smiled mildly. “All part of the fun I suppose.”
Hal peeked into the dark library. There were no books, only empty shelves and white sheets covering the furniture. “I’m beginning to get the feeling that nobody actually lives here.”
“Well no, the place is up for sale,” Trevor responded. “Didn’t you see the signs on your way in?”
Hal shook his head. “I was a bit preoccupied.”
“It’s really the perfect location for a murder mystery party, don’t you think?”
Hal’s eyes skit to Trevor’s. “You’ve had instructions in your invitation too then?”
Trevor laughed. “Doesn’t everybody?”
“Wendy didn’t seem to know what I was on about when I mentioned it earlier,” Hal answered. “What are your instructions then?”
Trevor raised an eyebrow. “I’m not supposed to say.”
Hal rolled his eyes. “Come off it. Besides, I’m the detective. I’m supposed to be figuring these things out. At least that’s what I was told.”
Trevor laughed again. “Well, my instructions were to take the detective out of the drawing room once he had arrived and voila!”
Hal frowned. “What else do your instructions say?”
“You’ll take all the fun out of it!” Trevor protested.
Hal shut the door to the library and said, “Come on, we’re going back to the drawing room.”
The pair returned to the drawing room to rejoin the rest of the guests, but when they opened the door, nobody was there. The room was dark and the furniture too was covered in white sheets as the library had been.
“Do we have the right room?” Hal murmured questioningly.
Trever’s smile had faded. He began opening doors along the hall but all were dark and empty.
Hal walked to the fireplace that had been roaring a minute ago. It had gone completely cold.
An involuntary shiver ran down Hal’s spine.
“Spooky,” Trevor whispered almost nervously. “Sorry Hal, but I’m supposed to lock you in here.”
He held up a key, but he no longer seemed to be enjoying himself as he had moments before.
Trevor shut the door to the drawing room and Hal heard the lock click a second later. He was all alone in the abandoned room and he could hear no sound on the outside through the thick door.
He walked to the window and drew back the curtain. He felt the moonlight wash over him and then begin to blind him. His blood began to boil and suddenly pain erupted everywhere in his body.
Just like that, Hal Winchester was gone and in his place stood a fully-fledge werewolf, howling to the Halloween moon.