The investigators left the library and continued their exploration of the house. They followed Amy’s intuition and headed towards the dining room, which was located on the ground floor, next to the kitchen. They hoped to find some clues about the house’s history and the ghosts that haunted it.
They entered the dining room, which was a large and elegant room, with a long wooden table, a crystal chandelier, and several paintings on the walls. The dining room was also dusty and cobwebbed and smelled of rotten food and poison.
“Wow,” Jake said. “This is where they used to have their dinner parties.”
He turned on his flashlight and scanned the room.
“Look at this table,” he said. “It’s full of dishes and utensils. It looks like they were interrupted in the middle of their meal.”
He pointed his camera at the table, which was covered with plates, bowls, cups, spoons, forks, knives, and napkins. The plates had various kinds of food on them, such as meat, fish, vegetables, fruits, cheese, bread, and cake. The food looked old and moldy, and some of it had worms and maggots crawling on it.
“Yuck,” Lisa said. “That’s disgusting.”
She turned on her flashlight and scanned the room.
“Look at these paintings,” she said. “They show different scenes of the dinner parties.”
She pointed her camera at the paintings, which depicted various guests sitting around the table, eating and drinking. The guests looked rich and sophisticated, but also bored and unhappy. They had a similar facial expression, which was a mix of hunger and disgust.
“Who are these people?” Lisa asked.
Amy stepped forward and looked at the paintings.
“They are the guests of Mr. and Mrs. Blackwood,” she said. “They were invited to this house for dinner, but they never left.”
She touched one of the paintings with her hand and closed her eyes.
“They were poisoned by the food,” she said. “The food was prepared by a chef who worked for the Blackwoods. He was a master of exotic cuisine, but also a master of poison. He used rare and deadly ingredients in his dishes, such as arsenic, cyanide, strychnine, hemlock, belladonna, and nightshade. He mixed them with spices and sauces to mask their taste and smell. He served them to the guests without their knowledge or consent.”
She opened her eyes and shuddered.
“He killed them all,” she said.
“What?” Jake asked.
“He killed them all,” Amy repeated. “He killed them for fun. He killed them for revenge. He killed them for money.”
She pointed at another painting, which showed the same scene as before, but in a different stage. The guests were lying on the floor of the dining room, covered in blood and vomit. They had been poisoned by the food they ate. Some of them had foam in their mouths, some of them had convulsions in their limbs, and some of them had blood in their eyes.
“They died in agony,” Amy said. “They died in horror. They died in vain.”
She pointed at another painting, which showed the same scene as before, but in a different stage. The guests were standing around the table again, but this time they were transparent and ghostly. They had the same expression as before, but also a hint of pain and anger.
“They regretted what they ate,” Amy said. “But it was too late. Their souls were bound to this house by their poison. They haunt this dining room, waiting for new guests to join them.”
She pointed at the last painting, which showed the same scene as before, but in a different stage. The guests were looking at the investigators, who were standing in the middle of the room. They had the same expression as before, but also a hint of hunger and malice.
“They want us to eat their food,” Amy said. “They want us to share their fate.”
She turned around and faced the table, which was still full of dishes and utensils. She saw that some of the food had moved or changed since they entered the room. The meat had turned red and raw, the fish had grown scales and fins, the vegetables had sprouted roots and leaves, the fruits had grown worms and flies, the cheese had grown mold and maggots, the bread had grown fungus and spores, and the cake had grown candles and flames.
“They are alive,” Amy said. “They are angry.”
She heard a loud clang from behind her. She turned around and saw that the chef had appeared in front of the door, blocking their exit. He was a tall and thin man, with a pale and wrinkled face, a bald and scarred head, and a dark and twisted smile. He was wearing a white and stained coat, a black and torn hat, and a red and bloody apron. He was holding a large and sharp knife in his hand.
“Bonjour, mes amis,” he said. “Welcome to my dining room. I am Chef Pierre, the master of exotic cuisine and poison. I have prepared a feast for you, one that you will never forget. Please, sit down and enjoy your meal. Bon appétit!”
He laughed maniacally as he raised his knife in the air.
The investigators were shocked and scared by his appearance and words. They realized they were trapped in a nightmare. They had to find a way to escape from the dining room, or they would become the next victims of the chef and his guests.
To be continued…