THE STOKES MANSION - JANET'S BEDROOM
Janet tossed and turned in her bed, her
subconscious mind began to flash back to past events. Inside her head, she
could clearly see the doorknob to a room and furrowed her brow,
unsure of what she was seeing. As she slept, she saw herself reaching out
for the knob as if compelled to enter the room; but, she tried to
resist the urge. For some reason she couldn't explain, she knew that there
was danger on the other side of the door. However, the pull of the room
was too great and she carefully turned the knob, opened the door, and slipped
Where was she? Why was she there?
Janet squirmed nervously in her sleep as the details of the room started to come
into focus. Stepping further into the room, she caught a glimpse of
something out of the corner of her eye that nearly made her jump out of her
skin. Once she realized that she'd only seen her own reflection in a large
mirror that she'd passed, she let out a sigh of relief. Turning to examine
her reflection more closely, she noticed that she was dressed in a rather
elaborate party gown with a delicate scarf tied around her neck.
She furrowed her brow again and turned away from
the mirror to look at the rest of the room. Instantly, she realized where
she was and what was going on. She was at Burt's party! She'd been
having uncomfortable flashes of memory about the night Judith had fallen and
Janet, nearly panicked by what she was remembering, ran away to calm
herself. She'd taken refuge in the lounge to hide herself from Burt.
Although that realization should have eased the
questions in Janet's subconscious mind about her fitful dream, she was becoming
more anxious than ever. Why was she there now? What unseen force had
drawn her back into the room? Suddenly, an unexpected noise startled Janet
and pulled her from her thoughts. She wasn't alone!
Nervous and frightened, Janet slipped into a
darkened corner to avoid being seen. She just couldn't let Burt see her in
the distraught state that she was in. She just couldn't let Gordon find
her and hurt her again. Gordon? Why did she suddenly think of Gordon
Scott? He couldn't be of any emotional threat to her anymore. He was
dead after all.
Janet shook her head again as she struggled to
push thoughts of Gordon Scott out of her mind and crouched down behind the bar
as a somewhat familiar voice echoed through the room.
"Hello?" came the voice from the
darkness. "Is someone there?"
Janet peered over the top of the bar and
immediately saw that the speaker was none other than Annabelle
feeling panicked and frightened, she sunk back down and kept her presence
hidden. She just couldn't let anyone find her. Suddenly, she heard
the large doors of the lounge swing open and quickly realized that there was
someone else present.
"I want a word with you!" came a
different, yet still familiar, female voice.
"I believe I've said everything that I need
to say to you!" Annabelle barked angrily.
"Oh, that may be true, but I still have
plenty left to say to you! I know about what you did the night of
and Jillian's engagement party. I know how you drugged my husband!"
Janet gasped slightly and peered back over the
bar to see the confrontation. The other person in the room was Francis
Callison! Janet rung her hands anxiously and swallowed hard before sinking
back down into her hiding place.
"I did nothing of the sort," Annabelle
laughed nervously. "Where in the world did you come up with such a
"Your daughter told me!"
"W-what?" Annabelle gasped, quickly
turning away in an attempt to hide her reaction. "T-that's
impossible! Stephanie wouldn't...tell such a vicious lie about me."
course, she wouldn't," Francis smiled confidently, "because it's not a
lie! You drugged Charles so that he would succumb to your advances and
then you arranged to have my own daughter lead me to discover the two of your
together! And you've been playing on his guilt for months to keep us
"This is just preposterous," Annabelle
replied as she slowly began to regain her composure. "Your husband
willingly turned to me because you bore him to tears. I bet you've run straight to Charles with this pathetic attempt of yours to hold onto
him like a vise."
"Actually, I haven't said anything to him
yet," Francis confessed as she tried to maintain a tight grip on her rising
emotions. "I wanted to have a word with you, first."
"Well, well, well," Annabelle smirked
and crossed her arms confidently across her chest. "I would have
suspected that with this 'news,' you'd have gone straight to him. Maybe you
didn't because you know that it wouldn't matter. This lie that you've
convinced yourself is true will have no affect on Charles' plans to marry
"I wouldn't be too sure of that!"
"You're pathetic!" Annabelle
spat. "You're clingy and weak and boring and..."
"And you're a jealous, vengeful shrew!"
Francis countered. "Everybody knows how you are! You had to
resort to lies and deception and drugs to destroy my marriage. You're the
you're so sure of yourself, aren't you?" Annabelle chuckled.
"You think that once you tell everyone this lie that my daughter has
clearly told in an attempt to hurt me, you're going to drag Charles back into
that pitiful little marriage of yours! We'll it won't happen. Do you
hear me? It won't happen! Why in the world would Charles want to be
trapped in a marriage with poor, pathetic, mousy, boring Francis? He's had
a taste of a life of passion and excitement with me! Just look at
you. You try to be all glamorous and exciting, but you're nothing but an over-glorified
housewife. Why, you might as well be the maid."
She grinned wickedly. "By the way, where did you find that lovely
scarf?" She reached and and grabbed it, yanking Francis closer.
"Off of the bargain rack at Lerner's? Of course, I wouldn't expect
anything else out of a woman like you!"
"I hate you!" Francis snapped as she
jerked herself out of Annabelle's grasp, pulling the scarf loose from around her
neck, and reared back and struck Annabelle sharply across the face.
"I wish that you were dead!"
"Now, now, now," Annabelle smirked,
unfazed by the attack, as she gently stroked her tender cheek, "you
wouldn't want to hurt the baby."
"T-the b-baby?" Francis slowly
backed away, startled and unsure about what she'd heard. "What...are
you talking about? I don't..."
"Oh, I'm sure you do understand,"
Annabelle smiled victoriously. "You see, whether I drugged Charles
or not is irrelevant. There's no way that he'd leave me and return to
you. Not now."
"I think everything is finally becoming
clear in your mind." Annabelle paused and took in the entire
experience of Francis' shock and realization. "You see, dear, I'm
carrying Charles' child. Of course, I haven't shared this thrilling news
with him, yet, but you know how important family is to him. Do you
honestly think that he'd let this child go?"
"He'll never leave me and return to you
because if that were to happen, don't think that I couldn't fix it so that he'd
never see his child!" Annabelle smiled again, even more confident
than before. "You've lost, Francis. I win. Charles is
"No!" Francis cried out, her eyes
filling with tears, and then quickly turned and bolted from the room.
As the stunning revelation echoed through out the
room, Janet carefully peered back over the top of the bar. She inhaled
deeply and swallowed hard again, nearly embarrassed because of the scene that
she'd witnessed. She had to get out of there, that much was certain, but
Annabelle was still in plain sight. She couldn't make it to the door
without being seen. Realizing that she was trapped, she sunk back down
behind the bar and wrapped her arms tightly around herself, fearful of what
might happen if she were discovered.
"Beautiful performance," came another
voice, followed by the sound of clapping.
Janet's ears pricked up when she heard the
unfamiliar, masculine voice and she furrowed her brow curiously. Who else
could be there? How had they gotten in? She hadn't heard the doors
open. Swallowing hard and taking in another deep breath, Janet slowly peered
back over the top of the bar.
"W-who is it?" Annabelle asked
nervously as she turned in the direction of the voice. "Who's
there? What do you want?"
"Ah, how soon people forget," the man
laughed as he slowly moved forward, yet still remained mostly hidden in the
shadows. "I would have thought that you would have at least
remembered the sound of my voice."
"I...I..." She felt her own voice
catch in her throat as the man's words rang in her ears. He did sound
familiar; however, it couldn't possibly be... "N-no," she
stammered awkwardly. "It can't be...you?"
"But, yes, it can, Annabelle, dearest,"
Stephen Lake smiled smugly, finally stepping into the light. "Alive
and kicking, I might add."
"No! You're...dead!" Her
hand flew up to cover her mouth as she recoiled in horror. "You were
killed on the docks in Chicago!"
"To invoke an old cliché, the rumors of my
death have been greatly exaggerated." He paused and casually lit a
cigarette before allowing the resulting smoke to drift up and encircle is head
like a twisted halo. Then, slowly, he began to move closer to her.
"Of course, I'm sure that this does come as quite a shock to you."
"I...I..." she stammered, still
overcome with shock. Pausing to take a deep breath, she slowly began to
regain her bearings. "Oh, Stephen! You have no idea how long
I've dreamed about this!" A false display of happiness washed across
her face and she flung her arms open wide and rushed to him. However, he
was not at all fooled by her joyous display.
"Do you really think that I'm that
stupid?" he barked angrily as he pushed her away from. "Don't
you think I know exactly what you did?"
"W-what?" Annabelle responded
nervously. "I...don't know what you're talking about."
"You know exactly what I'm talking
about," he spat. "I know all about how you set me up. You
wanted me killed!"
"How could you even think such a
thing? You're my husband!"
off that syrupy goo, Belle. This is me you're talking to. I know
exactly what kind of woman you are!" He turned away from her and
slowly walked back into the shadows only to throw open the heavy drapes that concealed
the doors to the terrace. "You'd sell your own daughter's
soul if there was something in it for you!"
"You leave Stephanie out of this!"
Annabelle snapped angrily, a fire returning to her eyes. "Everything
that I've ever done has been for her. You were determined to destroy us
with your shifty schemes and your dirty dealings. Did you honestly think
that I was going to let you cause something to happen to her?"
"You know damn good and well that I would
never have let anything happen to her!"
"I know nothing of the sort," she
countered, but hesitated before speaking again. "How...did you
survive the attack? What are you...doing here? What do you
"I'm here because of Stephanie," he
explained calmly as he, again, began to move closer to her. "I've
spent too much time away from her. I want my daughter back!"
"You can't have her! I refuse to let
you destroy her like you've destroyed everything else that you've touched---our
home, our family, our marriage..." Her heart.
"Our marriage ended when you set me up to be
murdered." He moved closer to her so that he could look deep into her
eyes and gently traced a line along her cheek with his finger.
"Haven't you learned that the past always catches up to you?"
"I...don't know what you're talking
about," she muttered as she jerked away from him as if his touch had burned
her like a hot poker.
"You know, Belle, being dead isn't such bad
thing," he chuckled softly. "After all, you get to move about
and no one ever notices. You can do a million different things and no one
would ever suspect you because, well, you're dead."
Annabelle felt her heart pounding loudly inside
her chest and instinctively took a step away from him.
"I don't...know what you're trying to
say." Her voice caught in her throat again as she found herself
staring into his dark, soulless eyes.
"Oh, I think you do," he smirked.
"Like I said, you can't escape the past."
As her own heart began to beat faster, Janet
peeked over the top of the bar in time to see a quick flash of light. No,
not light, but...a reflection---the moonlight, streaming in through the doors to
the terrace, bouncing off of the surface of...a knife!
Janet gasped sharply as she fought the urge to
scream out in terror. However, no matter what she might have done, it was
too late. Stephen plunged the knife deep into Annabelle's chest and she
crumpled to the floor.
Standing over her lifeless body, Stephen grinned
victoriously. "I told you that you can't run away from the
past." Then, in almost an instant, he hurried back to the doors of the terrace and quietly slipped out, making sure to pull the drapes tightly
closed behind him.
Meanwhile, a trembling Janet sunk back down into
her hiding place, the image of blood running through her mind. It was
Annabelle's blood...or was it Gordon's? Gordon's blood! She'd killed
Gordon! Her mind again started to
spin. Why was she there? What was she running from? Why was
her head in such a fog?
"Janet, Janet," came the faint echoic voice which intruded on her fitful slumber. "Janet, wake up.
"W-what?" Janet jolted herself
awake and bolted upright in bed as she gasped for air. "I...I must have...fallen
asleep." She turned and looked up at her sister Jillian who was
gazing down at her with intense confusion and concern. "I...was
reading and I...must have...dozed off."
were having a nightmare," Jillian explained softly as she inspected her
sister closely. "You...were crying out."
"Yes," Jillian nodded and then furrowed
her brow as if she were confused by something. "Actually, you
were...talking in your sleep."
"I...don't..." Janet squinted her
eyes as she tried to clear the fog from her mind and refocus her attention on
her current surroundings.
"Yes," Jillian nodded again, "and
I...I'm not sure I understand what you were saying."
Janet took a deep breath as she tried to remember
her dream. Slowly, it started to come back to her. The lounge.
The argument. Annabelle. "What did I...say?"
Jillian bit her lip and kept her eyes locked on
her sister. "You said 'He did it. He killed Annabelle.'"
Jillian took a deep, nervous breath. "What were you talking
about? Who killed Annabelle? Surely, you didn't mean..."
"Oh, my god," Janet gasped as it all
came flooding back to her. "He did do it!"
"Who, Janet? Who?"