Wargrave Island (Serial Story) Part 3

List of Characters | Part 1| Part 2

They had just placed James’s body in the same room as the burnt canoe when all three of their phones rang.

Riko brushed her short black hair behind her ear and looked down at the screen incredulously

“Allison R has invited you to a LiveStream on Konect-EDTM” read her screen.

“What the hell? I thought she was dead?” Doctor Abe Harker gave a confused glance at the canoe.

“How’d she get my number? Wait… I don’t have signal. What the hell?” asked Ethan. He’d clicked on ok and Riko could see a countdown clock with fifteen minutes left.

Riko put her phone away and said, “If we got this, everyone else will have too. We should go before they panic.”

“Screw them, I’m panicking already,” Abe trembled as he spoke.

On the way to the staircase, they didn’t trust the elevator, they met up with Zane and Blane. “Riko!” they exclaimed in unison and pulled her into a group hug. The two had been inseparable in high school and they’d been teased mercilessly; called every form of homophobic insult until Zane came out. The teasing transformed into whispers and rumour. Despite everything, Blane had stayed firm in his friendship with Zane. In senior year they’d announced they were a couple. The whispers turned into bullying. Riko had been enraged by the way they were treated and had gotten into multiple fights before they’d asked her to just ignore it. When the two were married, a few years later, she’d been part of the wedding party.

“I know that look. What’s wrong?” Zane’s sharp nose and bright eyes looked down on her after the hug.

“James is dead and someone else was killed.” Riko was blunt but it was the best way.

“Good riddance. Who’s the ‘someone else’?” Blane’s sandy blond hair contrasted with his naturally tanned skinned and dark eyes.

“We thought it was Allison but…” Abe lifted his phone with the countdown on it and shrugged.

They walked the rest of the way to the ballroom without speaking.

When they arrived the whole group was there except for Jonathan.

“He went to the kitchen. Said he needed some ‘grub’. He’s really stuck in the past.” Zoe made air quotes around the word “grub”.

“That man is completely useless,” Missy enunciated clearly as if she was in parliament. “Screw him, What about this?” She held up her phone with a little over five minutes left in the countdown. Behind her well controlled disgust, she was barely hiding her panic.

Calmly Riko said, “Let’s all head to the kitchen together and we’ll take the call there.” As the ten of them walked across the lobby to the small attached dining room and kitchen Riko expected to see Jonathan dead. To her mixed relief and annoyance he was sitting on a stool in the dining room watching a large screen with the same countdown as their phones. He was munching down on a large bag of chips.

“Oh, hey guys. Looks like Teacher’s pet is still alive.” Jonathan used Allison’s high school nick name. He’d given it to her personally when she’d rejected him in junior year. He then started a rumour she’d been having an affair with their computers teacher, Mr. Trevors. He’d been straight out of teachers college.

Riko was embarrassed to remember that she’d believed the rumours. She wasn’t alone and they spread to the teachers and the parents. Mr. Trevors was fired for the affair despite both him and Allison saying it didn’t exist.

On the table next to Jonathan was a big bowl with ice, a dozen glasses, and a variety of drinks, both non-alcoholic and alcoholic.

Ethan reached over and prepared himself a drink of rum and coke on the rocks. Seeing Riko watching him he said, “What? We’re not on duty.” He said it with a smirk that made her insides tingle.

Taking their cue from him, they all fixed themselves drinks of one sort or the other in the glasses. Riko took a bottle of water and just held on to it.

“This better be good,” Missy mumbled. Sitting at the far end of the table she filled her glass with ice and poured a bottle of water over it. She looked ready for a tough business meeting at the end of the table in a comfy chair.

When the countdown ended, they were all sipping their drinks quietly. Allison’s face with a background of books, as if she were in a library, appeared on the screen. She hadn’t changed at all from high school. “If you’re getting this I’m most likely dead.” Everyone started talking at once, but quieted down when Allison continued, “The good news is one of you is my killer. The bad news is you’re trapped here.” Allison looked up, as if she was looking at something beyond the camera and asked, “Is that ok?”

The video cut to a blank screen and a computerized voice started saying, “Twelve naughty kittens all trapped on an island. They’re all going to die for certain. The first betrayed love for cash; now she’s ash. To violence and hate the second clung; now he’s hung.” The words appeared and stayed on the screens.

“That’s twisted,” laughed Jonathan.

“Oh shit. We’re all going to die,” Zoe fell from her chair and started hyperventilating. “We’re going to die, we’re going to die.” She kept repeating the words and Abe went to her to help with the panic attack.

Ethan moved closer to Riko and gave her a solemn look. Zane took her hand. If someone was really trying to kill them they needed to find out who it was. Riko wouldn’t put murder past most of them, unfortunately, but this was one step beyond. It was scarily premeditated.

Looking up at the screen again Riko noticed that another line had been added.

Twelve naughty kittens all trapped on an island; they’re all going to die for certain.
The first betrayed love for cash; now she’s ash.
To violence and hate the second clung; now he’s hung
To gossip the third fixated; now she’s been asphyxiated.

The only other person still looking at the screen was Missy. Riko recognized the signs of anaphylaxis; Missy’s skin was puffy and eyes bloodshot. Missy’s throat had closed and she’d suffocated while everyone had been fixated on Zoe.

Her dead eyes still stared at the screen with terror.
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Wargrave Island (Serial Story) Part 2

List of Characters | Part 1

After Riko and Ethan put out the fire in the canoe there was little left to identify the body.

“Everyone get inside and let Riko do her job.” Zoe’s voice was shrill and betrayed how close to panic she was. Thankfully the crowd listened and started moving towards the hotel.

The exception was Abe, who was holding his cellphone as a flashlight. “I can help,” he said. When Riko gave him a questioning look he added, “I’m a doctor now.”

Both Ethan and Riko had trained with forensics, but not enough to compete with a doctor. Abe looked at the body and reached out for it. He stopped himself before touching the body. “I can’t tell anything in this light. We’ll have to bring it into the hotel.”

“It’s ok doc,” Ethan said, moving to the back of the canoe. “We’ll have forensics here in the morning. We’ll use one of the empty rooms to put the whole canoe.”

They took some pictures for evidence and carried the boat into the hotel. The music had been turned off and the only sounds were the faint hum of the florescent lights.

Taking the elevator was impossible; the boat was too big. Riko was happy they had taken the stairs once she smelled the body. It smelled of burnt flesh and hair. All three of them where gagging as they exited the empty room.

Riko dialed 911 on her cellphone as they walked back to the lobby. It didn’t connect. The phone said she had full bars but she couldn’t call out. “I’m not getting through. Can you?” she asked Ethan.

He creased his brow in concentration as he tapped the phone. She knew he hated using it. “Not getting anything.” Shaking his head, he added, “I’ll look at reception.”

They left Ethan at reception and headed to the dance hall. It was quiet and those in it seemed mostly sullen or scared. Jonathan had a glass of something amber and was nursing it in the corner near the bar. Someone had turned off the music.

When the three of them walking into the room, everyone turned and stood up. Someone asked, “Who was it?”

“We’re not sure who was in the boat. The body was too badly burned. Is anyone’s cell able to call out?”

“Nope,” slurred Jonathan, “Wifi’s down too. It’s like 1996 in here.” His laughter bordered hysterical.

“Does anyone have a satellite phone?” It was a long shot and everyone shook their head. “Ok, who’s here and who’s missing?”

Zoe stood up straighter and started pointing people out, “Well there’s Jonny, me, Abe, Arun, you, we all came on the second boat. Then there’s Sandrine, Missy, and Kate. They were on the first boat with Zane, Blane, and James.” Sandrine, Missy and Kate were in the room but the other three weren’t.

“What about Allison?” Sandrine asked. She had barely changed since the last time Riko had seen her; all scorn and muscle. She and James had been an unstoppable bully team in high school. Riko shuddered at the memories. They’d loved calling her stupid names like Flied Lice, Eggroll, and Riko the Hun.

“No one’s seen her. Right?” asked the Zoe. Riko was starting to suspect that the woman’s perkiness increased with stress. “Oh my god, she must be the body!” Zoe looked ready to faint or do a somersault, it was hard to tell.

“There’s no way to know that for sure. There’s still the plus ones right?” Riko looked around the room and was shocked to see everyone shake their heads. “No one brought someone?”

“My husband’s with the kids, our babysitter cancelled at the last minute,” Kate smiled apologetically. She’d been their class’s star athlete until a drunk driver had hit her while she was jogging in their senior year. Riko reconnected with the feisty redhead when her sister had needed a wedding planner. She and Riko had been training together for marathons.

Looking anxiously from her phone to Riko, Missy said, “I was going to bring my sister; she had a big crush on Arun, but she had to work at the last minute.” The nervous glances at her phone told Riko that Missy didn’t like being off the grid. She’d seen Missy on the news a few times, especially during the elections. Missy had run and won in their old riding for the provincial conservative party.

All their stories were similar. Each of those that had planned to bring someone, that person had canceled at the last minute.

Sighing at the odd coincidence, Riko tried to be as calm as possible as she said, “There are four people missing. I’m going to wait until my partner gets back and then we’re going to search the hotel to find them.” She wished the hotel had staff instead of being a giant rental. The idea behind the hotel was complete privacy. It was self-contained and fully stocked. When rented, the client could bring their own staff or not. It looked like Allison had decided not.

“Riko,” Ethan didn’t look happy as he walked it. Whispering he said, “All the phones are voice over IP and not working.” She’d guessed that, it wasn’t easy getting a landline to an island.

He gulped and she knew there was something else going on. “What?” she asked a little too impatiently.

“I found another body,” he said it too loud and Zoe screamed.

“Abe come with us, everyone else stay here,” she ordered.

Ethan pointed inside the elevator and once again the three of them were staring at a dead body. It was James; although he’d lost a lot of weight, his beady brown eyes were the same. He’d been hung with a long USB cable.

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