Conundrum (Chapter 6 – Spirits of the Mannequins (Part 1))

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The pain stayed for several days. I couldn’t eat anything. I thought he would starve me to death, but he didn’t. He injected the fluid system and fed me almost every day. I don’t know what made him a psychopath. I just needed to save myself. That’s when he told me,

“I have packed your bag. We are going on a business trip and guess who is going to be there- Angelyn Lionel.”

I felt bad for this girl; I hoped for her not to fall for this guy, but when I saw him smile as he reached our apartment, I knew he had laid his trap. I couldn’t believe that the security guards and the plane assistants fell for the sad love story he made of us. It felt dramatic, but they bought it. He told them that I have been in my wheelchair since the age of five, and my tongue was cut off when I fell from my wheelchair very recently. He fell in love with me since we were kids and stuff and didn’t care if I could walk or talk convinced them.

He didn’t bruise my face; he needed it to make a beautiful “mannequin.” My face was “precious” to him. He said I would be the masterpiece among his collection. If I could speak, I would have said, “You fucking bastard, I know you say that to every girl. Just fucking leave me alone.” But I was helpless and weak. I could just cry. I had started to hate him at that point, but somehow I loved him too, the little love which left in me thought I could help him, but this man was beyond help. His past was blank; I didn’t even know his real name. He had no friends, nothing. I knew he was careful with Angelyn. She was his pattern changer: his first attempt, first precious experiment. One small mistake, everything he planned would be ruined, and I waited for that mistake.

After we returned from the business trip, he was mostly out with Angelyn taking her out on dinner and stuff. When he returned home, he would tell me how his day went as if I am his best friend, but there was not a single day I wasn’t tortured. By then, he had started cutting off my toes. Once he is done with me, he would leave me in the basement chained, with my mouth covered with lots of medicines, which he said would preserve my beauty. One day, as he unchained me for torture. He received a call from Angelyn, and he forgot about chaining me back. I didn’t move a muscle. He kept on talking until I heard him saying, “You are here already? Honey you know I hate surprises.” and the doorbell rang. I realized that Angelyn had come home to surprise him. I was relieved and scared at the same time. I understood that he completely forgot about unchaining me as he had more things to be taken care of as Angelyn was here, “Kiara dear, I think I can give you some rest for today. Thank Angelyn later.” He kissed me on my forehead and went upstairs. 

I made sure he was nowhere near the basement. I dragged myself upstairs and crossed my fingers as I kept my hand on the doorknob, hoping it was unlocked. To my surprise, the door was open! I quietly hid behind the kitchen door. That’s when I saw Angelyn for the first time. She was looking at the couple photograph we took the first time I was here as his “loving wife”. When she asked him who the girl was, he said I was his sister. That’s when I noticed he had started to look like me. He changed his facial features similar to mine, which began with dying his hair to mine. She even addressed him as Mr. Arthur Vinson when he teased her by calling her Ms. Angelyn Lionel. I didn’t waste my time. Even though my legs were hurting, I tried to be quiet as possible. That’s when Angelyn said, “Surprise is not yet over; I have reserved a table for us for lunch. Let’s get going. Come come.” She dragged him out of the house. 

I thanked Angelyn in my heart a million times. I couldn’t just go then. I had to find something which unveils his true identity. I searched everywhere but couldn’t find anything of that sort. I gave up and decided to rescue myself. I tried opening the front door, but it was locked. That’s when I remembered the window by the kitchen; it was not grilled; I opened the window and jumped out and ran with all the strength I had. I couldn’t believe I escaped. Initially, I thought he left me in the basement unchained, knowing I would escape, some crazy plan of his I didn’t understand. But as days passed, I understood that it was a mistake from his side. When he is in love with a girl, he truly is in love with her, and he only thinks about making her happy. 

Since then, I was keeping a close watch on Angelyn. That’s how I came to meet you.” Kiara’s voice note ended. I was shocked to hear everything and wanted to tell Angelyn everything right away, but we decided to meet Angelyn together the next night. I said bye and left her room, agreeing to meet the next day. I don’t know what happened. She didn’t show up. I sensed something was wrong and revisited the hotel, but the receptionist said she vacated early in the morning. 

I doubted Arthur had something to do with it but was scared to confront him. I decided to meet Angelynu anyway before it was too late. I called Angelyn and asked her to meet me. As I reached the place, I saw someone already there; I thought Kiara has come, but it was Arthur who was waiting there for me!

“How did you know I was here?” I asked him.

“Apparantly my ‘wife’ told me.” Said he.

You thought you would spill out everything to Angelyn and ruin my plan. You had to be careful than this, Kelly. Now, you have put Kiara in trouble as well. I need you to stay silent.” He said and moved towards me, “You have two options Kelly. Either you can become one of my collections or you can die now.”

I pushed him back, “No, never.” But he was too strong. He pushed me back and grabbed me by my neck, “Too bad that you can’t be my collection now.” I didn’t know what was happening. He took a tablet from his pocket and forced it inside my mouth. He made sure that I swallowed it. He pushed me to the ground, took something like a tiny remote from his pocket, and pressed a button. I felt like my whole body was blasting inside. “Angelyn will be here any minute now,” I said and collapsed. I felt numb, but I could see the fear on Arthur’s face before closing my eyes. He came near me and asked me something but, by then, I was gone. When I opened my eyes, Angelyn was already here in shock. I tried talking to her, but she couldn’t hear me.”

Kelly stopped and looked at Cathy, “This is all I know. I need to make sure Angelyn is safe; until then, I can’t go back to the land of the dead.”

Detective, who didn’t understand anything, stayed there helplessly. 

“I know where we can find Kiara.” Cathy said. 

“How do you know where she is?” asked the Detective.

“The only people who knew he was a psychopath was Kelly and Kiara. Since Kiara only shared this with Kelly, he would have thought that murdering her would keep him safe.”

She insisted on driving the car, “If I am right, Kiara is still at Arthur’s mansion. I will explain everything to you on the way to his mansion.” said Cathy to the puzzled Detective. She assured Kelly that Angelyn would be safe with her.

On the way to Arthur’s mansion, she narrated the whole story to the Detective, “No wonder why I felt the name was familiar.”

“It’s been 10 days after Kelly’s murder. I hope Kiara is still alive.” Cathy sighed.

As they reached the place, she could sense the presence of many spirits. She rushed to the front door and tried opening it. 

“Let me try,” Insisted the Detective.

He pushed open the door effortlessly. They ran to the basement in search of Kiara. As soon as they turned on the lights, Angelyn exclaimed, “The mannequins!,” all of them arranged beautifully. The Detective was not expecting this. “What the…” 

She could see the spirits near each mannequin. All weeping near their tethered head-holding mannequins. “Where is Kiara?” asked Angelyn.

All the spirits pointed towards a room; she hurried to the room, hoping she was not late but, a mannequin was placed at one corner of the room wrapped in a cloth with bloodstains. She slowly went near it and pulled down the blood-stained white cloth. “No!” She screamed. The Detective followed her into the room. Kiara’s face was disfigured! “He might have poured all his rage on her. Poor girl.” He took the clothing from Cathy’s hands and wrapped the mannequin again. 

“But I can’t find her, her spirit is not here!” exclaimed Cathy. 

“You won’t find her here,” said a voice from behind.

Cathy turned back and found Belle, “Her spirit found light?!” Seeing the light and moving forward has been a mystery to Cathy; she had always wondered why she was still there in the land of living after all these years. She was curious, “How?” She asked Belle.

“Unlike us who has a grudge towards him, Kiara loved him. Her purpose was to let Angelyn know Arthur was not who she thinks he is. At the very movement when Angelyn saw Arthur near Kelly’s body; even though she didn’t realize it, she had started hating Arthur. That was what Kiara hoped as well. I can only be free if I slice him open the way he did us.” The grudge in Belle’s voice was strong.

Cathy didn’t know how Kiara could still love this man. She wanted to know what was happening. She wanted to know why he was doing this. 

“Belle, who was his first victim?”

“I don’t think talking to her helps.” 

“Why?”

“You will know when you meet her.”

Belle led her to a room that was closed from outside. “She’s here.” As Cathy was about to unlock the door, the Detective’s phone rang. He picked up his phone. His face suddenly changed, “What?!…….When did this happen……Okay!……We will be on alert.”

 He kept the phone and said, “Arthur broke out of prison.” Fear reflected on the Detective’s face.

(To be continued….)

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