"There was no black magic."
Martin Urfe is descending the stairs to join you, his voice raised in anger. Or is it frustration? "Fox disappeared of his own free will. There's no other explanation."
You take it upon yourself to explain last night to the three new guests.
Sabata listens then nods knowingly. "Death."
"Fox is not dead." Marina Popov protests. "I would sense it. he is alive and with us. Somewhere."
The prophet versus the psychic. It's an interesting conflict. But you have a more practical turn of mind. While the others settle into their rooms, you borrow a key right from under Fritz's nose. It's not hard. The corridor is empty as you unlock Calvin Fox's door and sneak inside.
The room is neat, with everything in its place. On top of the wardrobe is one small suitcase. You would have expected more. Your first impression is that Fox had been in here since his disappearance, but you have nothing to base that on. Wait! Yes, you do. The shirt and trousers Fox was wearing as he stepped into the magic box are hanging in the wardrobe, wrinkled and worn. The shirt has a tear in one sleeve.
You examine his possessions, not knowing what you're looking for. One thing you do notice. Or rather you notice its absence. The invitation. You and everyone else had been sent an engraved invitation to the party. Fox's is nowhere in the room.
You exit his room and are suddenly face to face with Bertha. Fritz's hard-edged cousin glances at the door, then at you. "You think he's still alive?" she asks.
"I think he's in this building somewhere-- alive or dead."
"You are going to search?"
"From the basement to the attic," you say with determination. Ian Masque will be arriving in a few hours to gather his guests. As Masque's employee, you do not want to have to explain why one of those guests is missing. Downstairs in the lounge, most of the others have assembled for cocktails. Colin Green is at the bar, acting the host. "Not that I don't trust a blind bartender," he chuckles.
As expected, the conversation turns to Masque, the reason why everyone is here. "Why is he throwing a party for strangers?" asks Mrs. Peacock. "Paying our expenses to the Swiss Alps just to entertain us for a day? I know I'm a fascinating woman." She laughs, lifting her penciled eyebrows in Mr. Green's direction. "However..."
Marina shrugs. "They say he is fabulously wealthy."
"He must be," says Colin Green. "That chateau he built. It's accessible only by boat. And then you must take an aerial tram over a sheer cliff face. The construction costs must have been monumental."
"He obviously guards his privacy," Martin Urfe suggests. "Then why invite total strangers to celebrate New Year's Eve? What does he want from us?"
"It's a crazy world," Marina says. "Any day now and all Europe will descend into war. That madman in Germany... Bertha, what it is? What are you staring at?"
You, too, have noticed. The maid has been staring out a nearby window. She turns now to face you. "Someone is standing on the bridge. Over the ravine."
"That's odd," you reply. "All of us are inside. Unless..." Could that someone be Calvin Fox? You race to the window, but it's too late.
"There's no one there."
"He was there a second ago," Bertha swears and turns to look herself. "He couldn't just disappear."
It is an impossibility. The bridge is a good hundred meters from the chalet, with no place for someone to hide-- except in the ravine, of course. Except...
You race out of the lounge, through the lobby and out the front door. The others follow, wondering what could have alarmed you so much. The air is chilly but the bright sun has already melted the frost on the gravel path.
You stop in the middle of the bridge and gaze into the perilous ravine.
Fifty meters below, twisted on the inaccessible rocks, lies the mangled remains of a body. It lies face down, but you instantly recognize the clothing-- the same shirt and trousers you saw hanging in the wardrobe less than half an hour ago.
"Mr. Fox," Bertha cries out as she joins you on the bridge. "It was Mr. Fox."
"Did he jump?" Mr. Green asks. His tone is casual but you can see the panic deep in his eyes.
Others have joined you, staring down helplessly. Colonel Mustard, Marina Popov, Mrs. Peacock. A quiet, evil laugh echoes back and forth across the rocky ledges. It takes you several seconds to locate it, but you do. Behind you. In the open doorway of the inn. Sabata, the artistic prophet, sits in his wheelchair. No one has to tell him what's in the ravine.
And he's laughing.
Copyright © 1998, 2010 by Newfront Productions, Inc.
Copyright © 1998, 2009 Hasbro Interactive, Inc. All Rights Reserved.