Riley Haynes gaped at the sight of a huge door which hung open in a slit. When she pushed it hard enough to create a huge space, a dark hallway greeted her, enveloping her with fear and confusion.
The voice of her fraternal twin sister—River—floated across the upper floor.
Riley ignored her as she carried her legs further down the darkness.
"Riley, where are you?" River added, voice drowning into echoes.
The more Riley proceeded, the more her heart pounded violently against her prison-like ribs. The sight of such a secret room flew too many questions in her head. After this, she would probably ask her mother, but in a subtle approach. Besides, her mother loves a good game of guess.
Behind her, footsteps resonated and produced loud thuds against the checkered floor.
Shadows lurched in every corner, making it hard for Riley to see what was surrounding her.
She doesn't even know if she got far away.
Deciding to take another step, a hand wrapped itself around her arm in an aggressive manner. Riley bit back a scream and hurled her free arm in the air to hit her opponent.
Riley's whole body froze. That voice was familiar.
River placed both hands on her knees, panting heavily.
At the vague sight of her sister flitting into the shadows, Riley let out a sigh of frustration.
"What the heck? How did you know I was here?"
"Listen..." River sucked a breath. "You shouldn't be here!"
"Why?" Riley clenched her teeth. All her life, she was tired of secrets. Secrets that could ruin her. Secrets that could put her into a bad situation.
"This place?" River spoke. "It used to be..."
Riley narrowed her eyes, impatient with the trail off.
"A crime scene."
"I know this is overwhelming but—"
"No buts, River!" Riley exclaimed, walking past her.
River followed behind.
"How come I didn't know about this?" Riley threw a hot-burning glare at River after they both finally bathed into the sunlight seeping through the windows of the first floor parlor room.
"It's just me and mom who knows." River explained.
"Really?" Riley said. "Not even our sisters know?"
"It's a secret, Riley—dang it!"
A scuffle emitted down the dining room.
"Riley," River whispered. She exchanged a worried look with her. "No one must know but the three of us that there's an old crime scene lying behind the walls of the basement. Do you understand me?"
Riley slowly nodded her head. But with reluctance.
"Please," River grabbed both of her hands. "No one must know, Riley."
Her eyes were pleading, glazing over the deep pools within.
"I'll keep it a secret," Riley muttered. "But why is it a crime scene? Did someone die there?"
"It's hard to explain," River let go of her hands.
"Give me the specifics, will you?"
River placed a hand on her left temple.
"Fine, but I can't explain much. Only mother knows the whole truth."
"I'm all ears,"
River opened her mouth to speak, but was interrupted by a sharp ringing of a cellphone somewhere inside the mansion.
"Is that yours?" Riley asked, confused.
"No," River searched around the parlor room. "Must be from our sisters."
"Wait—" Riley looked over River's shoulder where the door to the basement rested.
"What is it?"
"Why does it look like the ringing came from the basement?"
River stifled a gasp.
"There's no way— Riley!"
Riley walked past her again like before.
The darkness greeted her once again. With an uneasy and unnerved twin sister trailing behind, Riley whipped her head to where the secret room was.
"Riley, how about no?" River spoke through the shadows as if reading her mind.
"For gosh sake, Riley—"
In a blink of an eye, Riley was already inside the secret room.
River, left without a choice, ran to her oh-so curious twin and linked arms with her.
"I have to admit: the ringing really came from here." River mumbled beside Riley.
Riley remained silent. Whoever cellphone that was, she must get to the bottom of it all.
The two sisters strolled across the room in hopes of stumbling upon the sound. Unfortunately, all they bumped into so far were old, lavish furniture coated in layers of dust and spider webs. some had a touch of rust on them.
However, their footsteps halted when they hit a dead end. The shadows in this room were thick, unable for them to see thoroughly without squinting.
Riley produced a groan, while River tugged her sleeves.
"What?" Riley hissed.
"Why do I have a feeling the cellphone moved or something?"
"Let's go back to test that theory."
Thump. Thump. Thump. That's what they could hear so far with the music of their footsteps. They even have a sick thought that someone's footsteps was chorusing with them.
"Wait," River spoke, almost loud. "I think it's in this direction." She jabbed a finger at the right.
"Okay," Riley said.
They veered to where they think the sound came from, confident that they could find the cellphone there.
But, all of a sudden, the ringing stopped.
"Did somebody answer the call or..." River's voice dwindled.
"I'm not sure,"
"Let's just go back to the parlor room."
Riley hesitated. She wanted to unravel whatever just happened, not turn her back at it. But she had no choice. This room will stay a mystery forever.
"Fine. Let's go."
River breathed in the fresh air of the mansion's first floor with a smile curling at the sides of her lips. Riley, on the other hand, wore an uncomfortable frown.
"I won't give up on this,"
River cocked her head to one side.
"What do you mean?"
"This thing is not over yet."
River threw her head back, sulking.
"How about we don't put our noses to something that is frantically a dead place?"
"You know I'm not like that,"
River was about to retort, to give her honest opinion when...
"Hello? Is somebody there?"
Riley pursed her lips. She wanted to crack a grin at her sister, but the moment was bad, she refrained. She knew the mysteries kept beneath the floor they were standing on was more than thrilling to the bone. It's time she re-investigates the crime scene.
"Don't even try, Riley." River warned with gritted teeth.
"Come on, River. You're my partner in crime." Riley placed a soft hand on River's shoulder. "It's time to unravel the truth."
River really hadn't told the real truth about the crime scene. Why it was abandoned. Why it was kept hidden. Because of that cellphone, they were distracted. Riley got distracted and forgot what she should have realized awhile ago.
It was a crime scene because of an arson.
An arson that almost killed Riley when she was a child.
"I won't tell you who the arsonist was." Her mother's voice whirred in her mind. "If I tell you, your heart would probably sink and it won't be my fault."
And the suspect? She had no clue who the suspect was.
But where was her father all this time...