“Come to me Janey” a voice said.
A startled young Janey shot up from her bed and looked around her room. Her purple lamp lit up one corner, allowing her to see her closet. All of her clothes were still the way she left them, and her bucket of toys remained untouched. At the top sat a stuffed unicorn, with a sparkly pink horn and a matching tail. Right where she left it. She looked over to the door, expecting to see her mother standing there, waiting for a hug. But it wasn’t her mom standing there. Nobody was, but there was a sliver of light slipping through, making Janey aware that the door wasn’t fully shut. “Mom must have just not shut it all the way, that’s all” she thought, and rested her head back against her pillow.
“Janey, I know you heard me” said the voice again.
She hadn’t fallen back asleep. She stared at the stars glued to her ceiling, in between rolling from side-to-side. Looking around the room once more, she noticed the door was now open all the way. As she started walking toward the door, she heard something fall behind her. She slowly turned around, scared of finding a monster hiding in her closet. Before her eyes can meet the closet, she shuts them and squeezes them tightly until an image appears in her head. There’s a monster like the one in Monsters Inc, with a skinny body that blends into the background. She watches it as it becomes more visible and slithers toward her. Before she can move, its eyes are two centimeters away from her and its scaly skin shimmers in front of her. It starts to whisper something, and she opens her eyes. In front of her is an empty closet. Filled with clothes, but no monster. She looks down at the floor and sees her unicorn.
“Janey, breakfast is ready” her mom called from the hallway.
She hadn’t slept much that night, but breakfast and second grade awaited her. Descending the three flights of stairs that separated her room from one of the dining rooms, she began to remember why she had been up all night. “Tonight,” she thought “I’ll figure out who was calling my name”
At breakfast, she watched her mom gbintently from across the table. She wore a scarlet red dress, so tight that Janey could make out the shape of her mother’s body. Her natural curls made Janey envious, as she had been given straight hair and her mom always told the hairdressers to give her bangs. Janey didn’t know what her mom did during the day, she just knew she made a lot of money. After eating one blueberry pancake and all of her sausage and scrambled eggs, her dad finally walked in.
He was wearing a version of his favorite purple suit. They all looked the same, but Janey knew that in his closet there were seventeen other versions of the same suit.
“Janey, ready for school?”
“Okay, Mr. Green is waiting for you in the limo, told him you’d be out in a minute”
Janey walked out of the dining room and down the hallway that led to the main entrance. It was then that she heard the voice again.
“Turn around” it said.
She turned, and saw nothing but an empty hallway.
“Follow my voice”
She stepped forward. She didn’t know why she was following this voice, but her feet kept moving her down the hallway. The voice was no longer a voice, but a soft hum. She started to wonder if her parents would hear the humming and come over to see who it was, but she remembered that they were on the other side of the mansion, and probably wouldn’t even hear her if she screamed. Entranced by her feet moving without her trying, she didn’t realize that the voice had led her to the library. She stood in the middle of it, thousands of books surrounding her.
“Why could he possibly want me here?” she said aloud to herself. Suddenly, her feet were moving again. The voice was gone, but she still felt that she wasn’t alone. She imagined that her mom and dad had already left for work, and Mr. Green drove off, assuming she wasn’t going to school today. She wasn’t alone, since the maid always came in the mornings to make her bed and fold her laundry. However, all the bedrooms were three floors above her and she didn’t think anybody else was home. Janey was alone.
Bam! Janey jumped, surprised by the loud sound of something landing on the ground. The noise came from behind her, so she turned around. Walking forward, she noticed there was a book lying on the ground. She picked it up, curious to see which book it was.
Peacocks: Everything You Need to Know to Find One. Janey noticed that there was something in the book. It was a short, skinny rope that seemed to be marking the page. The book looked old, like it had been there since the library was built. When she opened it to the marked page, dust flew up into her eyes. She expected to find long paragraphs with big words she couldn’t read, but what she found was different. It was a woman in a pale blue dress, with a headband made of peacock feathers and sapphire blue hair. Underneath the picture read “Susan Peacock. 1963.” She didn’t recognize the woman, but knew this wasn’t a coincidence. The voice wanted her to find this book, opened to this page.
“Come here” said the voice, as the door to the library seemed to open on its own. Quickly, Janey ripped the page out from the book and put the small rope into her pocket.
The voice led her out of the library, back into the hallway, and out to the main entrance where she could see Mr. Green still waiting patiently outside in the limo.
“Go on,” said the voice “I’ll speak with you again when you return home”
Janey didn’t want to leave Mr. Green waiting any longer, so she hurried outside and got into the back. School went on like any other day, and there were no mysterious voices clouding her head. When she got home, she went to her room and waited for either her mom to return home from work, or to hear the voice again and be dragged to another room.
Finally, about two hours later, she heard her mom walking up the stairs. She wanted to ask her about the woman, but she wasn’t sure how she would explain to her that she heard a voice and it led her to the library, where a book had fallen and opened to a page with a picture of this woman. Her mom would never believe any of this, but she had to find out who the woman was.
“Mom,” she began “have you ever heard of a woman named ‘Susan Peacock’?”
“Why do you ask, honey?”
“Well, I found a picture of her in my closet, but I’ve never heard of her before and I don’t recognize her face”
“I don’t know who she is, and you shouldn’t be worrying about it”
But worry she did. That night she sat up in bed, eyes darting back and forth from the door to the closet. Nothing moved. She finally decided she needed to lay down, since she had school in the morning and she couldn’t be late again. As she closed her eyes and started to drift off, the voice awoke her.
“I see you took the rope and the picture with you. Bring them to a place where things grow”
“A place where things grow….” She wasn’t quite sure what this meant, but she knew the voice would keep talking to her if she didn’t figure it out.
Janey knew the mansion very well, even though she had only had eight years to explore, only seven of which she could actually walk around the mansion, and even less to descend the staircase to other floors. She thought about where things grow. She thought about it all night.
By the time she awoke in the morning to the sound of her mother’s voice, she had forgotten about the puzzle. As she sat down to her plate of waffles topped with strawberries and whipped cream, she began to remember her dream:
She was walking around her house, looking for a place to hide. A monster had come out from under her bed and chased her all around the mansion. When she finally lost sight of him behind her, she ran for the conservatory. Inside, she could hide behind the plants and hope that the monster didn’t think to come all the way there. She sat there, silently, until she heard footsteps coming closer…and closer…and closer…and finally the door opened. Then she woke up.
“I have to go!” Janey exclaimed to her mom as she popped out of her seat.
“Where are you-” her mom tried asking, but Janey was already too far away to hear her.
She ran until she reached the conservatory. Out of breath, she stopped at the door. Taking a deep breath in, she lifted her hand to the door. Before she could open it, she began to worry.
“What if this is a trap? What if I open the door and there’s a monster waiting inside for me. What if I get hurt and I’m too far away so nobody will come to help me?”
“Just open the door,” said the voice “nobody is going to hurt you.” So she did. She put her hand on the doorknob and turned. Inside, she looked around and noticed that most of the flowers were dead. She knew this was weird, because there was an older man she often saw go into the conservatory to water the plants. It appeared as if they hadn’t been watered in days.
In the back corner of the room, she noticed a small door in the wall, small enough to fit her body, but nothing bigger. As she pulled the door open, she felt a breeze hit her in the face. She was too curious to turn back now.
The passage was long. By the end, she felt as if the skin on her knees had been scraped off and the palm of her hand broken. Expecting to find a door, she put her hand up to feel a doorknob. Instead, she found an opening. Beneath her she felt a mix of ash, dirt, and dust. She put one hand in front of her, and gave herself a splinter. As she got up and stepped out, she realized where she was- the lounge. She turned around and saw the fireplace. She looked closer, and saw that the hole she had just come from was now filled with bricks.
She knew there had to be something here for her, the voice wouldn’t lead her all this way for nothing. Looking around, she noticed that the rug had been moved from the center of the room. When she went to go fix it, she noticed that it had been covering up a big red stain, bigger than her body. Other than that, the lounge looked normal. She walked around the room, looking for something. She didn’t know what, but she wasn’t going to leave until she found it.
After what felt like hours of searching, she decided to take a break and sit down on the couch. As she was sitting there, she looked at the closet across from her. “Aha!” she gasped. She jumped up, anxious to see if there was anything inside.
It was here, in this closet, that Janey lost her innocence. On the floor was the man she had come to know as the gardener. Sometimes, she passed him outside watering the plants on her way to school. She knew from their conversations that he had been been in the army and her family hired him right after he came back from war. She always wondered about him, but he didn’t talk much, so she almost never got answers.
Now, here he was, lying lifeless in the closet. He was dressed in his regular uniform, but now instead of yellow, it was covered in red. Red, she figured, that came from his insides. She didn’t want to keep looking, but she couldn’t turn her head away.
“Look closely” said the voice.
So she did. She looked at his chest, expecting to find a bullet. She looked at his stomach, his hands, his arms, expecting to find any kind of injury. She looked at his head, expecting to find that he had been hit. She didn’t see anything wrong with him.
Until she looked at his neck. There was a red line going across, which she realized came from a wire or rope.
“Rope!” she thought, and put her hand into her pocket. Though the one she had was too small to choke somebody, she knew the two were related. Now she wondered why the picture was important.
She kneeled down to get closer to the body, and saw a piece of paper peeking out of his left pocket. When she had it in her hand, she immediately recognized the face looking back at her. This picture was different- the woman was older, but her hair was a distinctive sapphire blue. It was the woman from the book. In this picture she was standing in the lounge that Janey was just standing in. She had a rope wrapped around the gardener’s neck and held a knife in her right hand.
“Who took this picture?” she wondered.
“Hello!” the voice echoed in the closet.
“Did you make this happen?” Janey’s voice cracked as she asked.
“I didn’t, but now you know who did. Use this information wisely”
Janey didn’t know what all of this meant. Why did he choose her to find the body? What was she supposed to do with this information? Who would believe her?
She stayed up all night trying to decide if she should tell her parents about what she found. Of course, there was a dead body in their lounge, but nobody went in there besides her, so the secret was probably safe for a few days. She looked at the clock. 3:24 in the morning. Time to finally go to sleep she thought, and so she did.
In the morning she got ready for school and joined her parents downstairs for breakfast. Her dad was droning on about a class he was teaching at the university, but Janey was too interested in her discovery from the day before to listen. She kept quiet all morning trying to keep it all a secret, but now that she had a plan, she was anxious for the morning to be over.
As soon as the limo pulled up in front of the mansion, she got in the seat directly behind the driver.
“Mr. Green,” she asked “do you recognize this woman?” She held the photograph from the book up to his face, and stared at him, waiting to see his reaction.
“Where did you find this?”
“In the library. It was in a book, but it sort of came to me. I wasn’t looking”
“That’s the woman who lived here before your parents bought the house. I don’t know why she moved out, but now she lives down the street, 405.”
Janey thought about this. It made sense. She had a book and her picture was in it, of course she kept it in the library. Maybe she forgot about it when she left, or had multiple copies and left this one behind for the next owners. By the end of the ride to school, Janey knew what she had to do.
When she arrived home later that day, she hurried inside, hid behind the door, and waited for Mr. Green to drive away. As soon as he was out of sight, she slid out the door and walked down the street.
“401…403…405!” Here it was. Janey always thought nobody lived here, but she trusted Mr. Green. The path to the front door was covered in weeds that grew out from the garden of dead flowers. The paint on the house had almost completely peeled off, leaving it gray and green. Gray being the original color of the house, green from the moss growing up the side. As she walked up the two steps that brought her to the porch, she felt as if they were going to fall apart beneath her. She tried to knock on the door, but it just opened instead.
“Hello?” she called. Nobody answered, so she walked inside. At first, she could only hear the squeaks coming from the floor each she put a foot down. As she walked closer to the staircase, she could hear a low whistling. She couldn’t make out what song it was, but there was definitely somebody in that house. “Hello?” she called again, this time louder. She heard a crash above her, and raced up to see what happened.
Upstairs, she found her. The woman from the picture. The room had photographs hanging all over each wall, not a spot of paint left empty. The woman looked exactly the same as she did in the picture taken with the gardener. But now, she was crouched over, picking up a camera from the ground. She had a tripod set up next to the window. Janey tried to find out what all the pictures were of, but she would have to step into the room, and she knew this woman was a killer.
Before she could make any decisions, the woman looked up and noticed Janey standing in the doorway.
“What are you doing here?” asked the woman.
“Do you know who I am?” replied Janey. She was terrified, but tried her best to sound confident.
“I know you’re the daughter of the two people who stole my house from me!” As she said this, her camera dropped on the floor once more.
Janey, now defensive replied, “my parents stole nothing! How could you kill the gardener over a house?”
“He’s not really gone, can’t you hear him talking at night? Very smart old man if you ask me”
“You mean…the voice is the gardener?”
If the woman replied, Janey didn’t hear her. She kept reimagining all the things the voice had said to her. He had led her straight to his murder! He knew nobody would find his body without his help. When Janey finally came to her senses, she started to run. And she didn’t stop until she came to the police station.
“I’m here to report a murder” she said. All the heads in the station popped up. “I know you won’t believe me, but I have proof.”
The station quickly became frantic as officers scrambled to get into cars and find out where the crime scene is. “It happened at my house” she squeaked out among all the commotion. Eager to get to the crime scene and make sure the young girl was safe, two officers directed her to their car and told her to stay put.
Within seconds, they were on the road. She was in the front car and all behind her she could see blue and red flashing lights. She took the rope and the two photographs out of her pockets and handed them to the man in the passenger seat.
When they arrived at the house, Janey’s father answered the door. He frantically grabbed Janey and yelled for her mother to come downstairs.
“Is something wrong, officers?”
“Yes, sir. Your daughter has informed of us a murder that took place in your residence.”
“Sir, we have a warrant. Please let us inside”
So he did. Janey’s mom brought her upstairs into her room and played games to distract her from the chaos happening beneath them. After they finished two games of Chutes and Ladders and one round of Uno, Janey’s father came upstairs to tell them what happened.
Janey was happy to hear that the peacock woman was arrested for the murder of Mr. Michael Mustard and her family was safe again.
In the years following, Janey asked a lot of questions. The woman never explained why she wanted the house so bad, or why she went after the gardener. Would she have killed her parents next if
Janey hadn’t found the clues in time? As Janey grew up, she began to question if the voice was even real. She never once told her parents about the voice, since they would probably accuse her of being young and imaginative. They would probably be right.
Janey never got answers. The two people who could really answer her questions were either in jail or dead. She went on to become a writer, and one day, she decided to write about her experiences in the Clue House.