The Mystery Zone
That night, they would meet at ‘The Mystery Zone’, he had sent her a text message with the address and an entrance code to provide to the gatekeeper. Wanting to explore the neighborhood, she parked her car along the street and walked about a block towards the location. There was nobody walking along this wide street, only a line of two-story houses on each side, all of them almost identical. They had gates and tall fences and two or three trees leading up to their gate, and it was obvious that once upon a time they had been very exclusive residences. But now, even in the darkness, she could see that the trees were no longer green, the paint was peeling from the artwork on their gates and windows, and the attractive beige facades were cracked and brindled from deterioration. As she walked towards the address she had been given, she realized she was not being sensible. Here, she was meeting a total stranger in an unfamiliar place, dressed in a sexy pink bunny costume with a corset-type bodice and low-laced neckline and walking all alone in the dark. The sudden breeze reminded her that she had made a good decision to bring a coat, “At least I made one good decision,” she thought. The only detail she knew about this cold night was that she was attending a costume party and she was required to wear a mask. Still, the idea was intriguing and she enjoyed the anonymity of the party details. Suddenly, in a peculiar way, there stood a brilliantly designed house with middle-eastern architecture and a downstairs window that was illuminated by the words ‘The Mystery Zone’. About six yards away, Bebe caught sight of a printed notice propped up against the gate. It said PRIVATE PROPERTY, DO NOT TRESPASS. There was an angelic chalk-ware statue, tall and beautiful, standing just underneath the notice. She stopped walking and approached the gate, took a deep breath and pressed the bell.
Far away, in the back somewhere, she heard the bell ring, and then almost instantly — it had to be instantly because she had not been afforded time to even take her finger off the button — the gate swung open and a man was standing there. Ordinarily, you ring a bell and you have at least a few seconds to wait before you get an answer. But this man was a replica of jack-in-the-box. She pressed the bell — and out he popped! She was startled. He was about thirty-five or forty years old, and the moment he saw her, he gave her a warm, welcoming smile. “ Please come in,” he said politely. He stepped aside, holding the gate ajar, and Bebe found herself instantly walking in. A simple desire, or more accurately, her compulsion to go with him into that house was extraordinarily strong. But, she had not given him a code, she thought. “I am here for the party,” she said, holding back a little. “Yes I know,” he replied. Yet, he did not request a code. She searched within her coat pockets for the piece of paper where she had written the code, and she handed it to him. He smiled, giving it back to her, “You will enter the code at the door ma’am.” She walked towards the door he pointed to and he was right, the code worked at the door. The man reached behind her and closed the door. As she walked through the long hallway, the first thing she saw ahead was a bright fire burning in the hearth. She listened for the sound of music, but she heard no music. She did not see anyone either. She got closer to what seemed like a large sitting area and noticed a pretty Yorkshire Terrier laying down in front of the fire place. The room itself, so far as she could see in the grey twilight, was filled with delightful furniture. There was a Steinway grand piano and a big couch and many well-upholstered armchairs, and to her left, she noticed a plump parrot in a cage. “These small animals are an indication that all is well,” Bebe told herself; besides, it seemed as if she could now hear some voices coming from the direction of the piano. Walking towards it, she noticed the guest book lying open on the piano, so she took out her pen and scribbled her name on the page. There were other entries above hers so she decided to find Gregory’s name. She could not see his name anywhere on the page, but what was most intriguing was the type of names she saw. One was Sugar Spice, another was De Rick Dick. An arrow on the wall next to the piano signaled her to a red door straight ahead. She obliged, opening the door with haste.