Henri really hadn’t meant to mess up the old castle’s drawbridge. How was he supposed to have known that it would collapse and trap them inside?
“That moat is 6 feet deep and 6 feet across around the entire castle,” hissed Sarai, the other tourist who had lagged behind the rest of the group, “and you collapsed the only viable exit, since neither of us can swim. Plus, we’re probably going to get sued for destruction of private property now!”
“Mmkay. You do realize that if we don’t stop arguing and leave here soon, there will be no light for us to search with? This is an old castle, and the only light we have right now is from the windows,” Henri pointed out, making his way towards the stairs that lead to the main bedroom. Surprisingly, he didn’t hear any footsteps from behind him. In fact, the footsteps seemed to be going further away. He turned around and saw Sarai walking down the stairs to the servants quarters.
“What are you doing?” he yelled, his voice echoing through the stone hallway.
“Logically desecrating the servants quarters to make a raft,” Sarai replied, not even bothering to look back at him. “If you could just remove the curtains upstairs, we could probably escape. Besides, if they ask why we did this, we just blame the tour guide company. There was a clause that said that signing this meant that if we were missing without communication directly after an event, the guide would return to the last location they saw us.”
“You read the terms and conditions on the papers they gave us?”
“You didn’t? And hurry up,” she turned to face him. “The rope isn’t going to fly down the stairs.” Henri sighed and walked up to the first staircase window. The curtains were surprisingly flimsy, but looked like they would be a good rope when twisted. Henri was so engrossed in removing the curtains and trying to escape that he didn’t notice the small pling of a recording ending. Nor did he think to check his phone for cell signal, since the carrier he used didn’t work in that location.
Sarai smirked. Playing the role of victim was far too easy when Henri was so gullible. She’d recorded him ripping the curtains and managed to get a picture of Henri holding the lever as well. All she’d have to do now was send the recording and photo to the tourists group chat. It was easy really, and a foolproof method to turn the full blame on Henri. He had collapsed the drawbridge, after all, and Sarai wasn’t willing to pay the price for his stupidity. She hit the send button, and then slipped her phone into her purse.
“It’s getting late,” said Henri in a surprisingly loud voice. He was standing at the top of the stairs, looking at the small pile of wooden doors that Sarai had pulled off to make it seem like she was actually doing something.
“Really?” Sarai responded, injecting her voice with false surprise. “I hadn’t noticed. I was having some trouble removing doors from their hinges downstairs.” Henri frowned and threw some curtains that were tied into a makeshift rope near the three wooden cabinet doors.
“Couldn’t you have done anything more?” he complained, watching the sunset through the window.
“Are you complaining? You’re the one who got us into this mess! I don’t even know you, but you literally decided that leaning on an old lever for a selfie was a wonderful idea! You don’t get more stupid than that!”
“Stupid?!? I am an up and coming social media influencer! Everyone who follows me knows I’m on a trip to Europe and that photo would have been perfect! We just got to Spain, and of course everyone would want to see this old castle if I’m in it! I couldn’t let them down and lose most of the following I’ve just gained!”
“You’re so self centered that you couldn’t see it was an idiotic idea! And now you’ve dragged me, the unfortunate other tourist who lagged behind to see the tapestries, into your mess!” Sarai yelled, yanking out her phone and showing him the screen. “You see this! I sent the other tourists, and the tour guide evidence.”
“Evidence of what?” asked Henri, his voice calm and cold all of a sudden. Slowly he began to approach Sarai, reaching for her phone.
“Evidence of you destroying this place,” she hissed, pulling the phone back. “And it’s already sent, so you can’t do anything about it.”
“What? How dare you?” Henri hissed. “Give that to me. Now.” Sarai’s eyes widened with shock as she started backing down the stairs.
“How about no?” she said, her voice barely louder than a whisper. “I am not getting incriminated for your crimes, nor am I becoming the victim of your next one.”
“And I am not losing my entire career-” Henri began, only to be cut off by Sarai.
“Your career? You call taking photos and putting them on social media a career? You literally only have 10,000 follows! You aren’t that famous, just a normal influencer who thinks he’s super famous,” Sarai muttered bitterly, being careful not to fall as she stepped down the stairs backward. Before Henri could respond, the ping of a notification came from Sarai’s phone.
Almost instantly, Henri lunged for the phone as Sarai pulled away and turned on the screen.
“We’re sending the police. Hang tight,” Sarai read aloud, relief flooding her eyes. “You’re done for.”
“If I’m going down, I’m taking you with me!” yelled Henry, grabbing a wood panel from the top of the stairs and hurling it at Sarai.
“Crap,” Sarai whispered. She started running down the cold stone stairs, hoping to outrun Henri. Catching her foot on a ledge, she tripped and her knee slammed against the stone landing with a resounding thud. “No, no, no, no…”
“I heard that! Come out; there’s no escaping now!” Henri said in a disturbingly sing-song voice. It was as if the thought of losing his so-called “career” had driven him mad. Taking shallow, quiet breaths, Sarai began to scoot across the landing and toward the empty doorframe near her. Grabbing the hinges, she pulled herself up and began hobbling into the hall. She’d barely made it to the cellar stairs when a figure appeared at the start of the hallway. Yanking open the cellar door, Sarai pulled the ladder out of the room.
Henri smirked, staring at the woman crouched near the cellar door. She’d set up her own trap. Slowly, he crept up to her, stretching his hands out.
Sarai tried her best to keep her breathing even, as if she hadn’t noticed trouble. Henri’s shadow covered her like an inky nightmare, blocking out the sun’s dying rays. She sat right at the edge of the cellar hatch; Henri’s arms were outstretched, ready to push her in.
“Like I’d let you win,” Sarai hissed, yanking Henri’s leg out from under him and shoving him into the cellar. She slid the ladder through the handle, and crawled unsteadily to the wall. A smeared trail of blood traced her path on that floor and she switched on her phone, breathing normally once more. The sound of now audible police sirens mixed with Henri’s screams, but Sarai hadn’t been more at peace in the last hour.
When the police finally came, Henri was arrested. It turned out that he was a criminal named Tauren Lakst in the States who had run a relatively famous vlogging channel. After evidence was found that he murdered his neighbor, his following dropped (who would, after all, follow a murderer) and he ended up on the run. He then killed the actual Henri Widener who’d owned the Instagram account @henri_awesome_travels and stole his place in the tourist trip.
“I’ll get back at you, witch,” Henri, or well Tauren, spat, as the police dragged him away.
“Sure you will,” said Sarai dryly. “We all know that you’re only salty that you snapped and got caught faster. Eventually, someone would have found Henri’s body.” Tauren only bared his teeth at her like a rabid animal, before the police pulled him away.
“That… was certainly an interesting vacation. I sure am glad I’m a British doctor. The states have a lot of murderers and so do the police,” muttered Sarai, hobbling out of the castle. There wasn’t an ambulance, but the police had two cars and could take her to the local hospital. Sarai was fairly sure her knee wasn’t broken, but after all that happened… eh. Small mercies, I suppose. Sarai looked at the window, watching the dying rays of the sun fade away.