Chapter 1: Baltimore
by Katerina Petrovich
Baltimore: December 31, 1898
The events which took place on the day of New Year's Eve 1898 would forever alter ther course of my life and change my fate in ways I could have never dreamed. Little did I know this entering in to the situation, of course.
I was asked to attend, as an uninvited guest, a masqerade ball in a home in Baltimore. My assignment was to report back to the church any thing I found to be unseemly. I thought this a simple enough task and so I accepted...
The next thing I recall is awakening in a solarium in what I had to assume was the house I'd come to inspect. I had no recollection of the night before and in my possession found a purple masqerade mask and an invitation. "What the devil is going on here?"' I asked myself and began to look for others. The first person I found was a fellow person of the cloth which was, at first a comfort. His name was Father Aiden and, as it would turn out, was not who he presumed to be. Though he did succesfully talk down a suicidal man named Wilson from the balcony of the house, he later shot and killed an unfortunate creature in the dining room and claimed to the group (who I will discuss momentarily) that, "God did it". Slowly I was to meet the rest of the group: a reporter named Elise, a Count named Renval, an archeologist named John, a violinist named Celio, and a former Madame named Alexandria. Elise had traveling with her a photographer named Vinny. As it happened there was much more to this house than first appeared. Many disturbing things came to light which would hint at our fate.
First, Elise happened upon a bathtub full of blood out of which appeared "Prospero" who told her that he was destined to die a terrible death when the clock struck midnight. About this we learned no more as Elise poked the man and he disappeared. Second, there was a clock in the house house which was ebony and if we didn't somehow stop it from chiming the 12 o'clock hour or find a way out before that point we were surely destined to die in that house. Thirdly we found other guests at the house who were shaken in terror. They described to us a red fog-like substance which had apparently scattered the guests the night prior. As they were out of their minds with terror, I sought to comfort them with prayer. Unfortunately, whatever evil that consumed this house was soon to kill one of these guests as well. Berenice died shortly thereafter from a hideous death. These were but a few of the indicators that we must find a way out of this house and the front door was not giving way.
Each room in which one of our party woke up in had a letter on the ceiling and from a note discovered which was written by a maid we learned that we could decipher the letters to form a word that woud aid us in our endeavor to escape alive. Going over the letters, someone came up with the words "golden bug" and this seemed to make the most sense because although spiders are not in the literal sense, bugs, there appeared to us what I thought at the time was a rather large spider. It was killed by one of our group.
While searching the house for more possible clues, we came to the cellar. A menacing skeletal man appeared to us in a red cloak. Thinking quickly, John, the archeologist, knocked him off the stairs to the cellar. Through the cellar we gained entry into a laboratory where there appeared to us a man named Roderick Usher who was apparently a mad scientist. from his lips we first heard the words "Red Death". He claimed something about a transformation and warned us to let him alone. We killed him and then discovered the ebony clock which we were to destroy. Time was wasting. We disarmed the security device and through many attempts, destroyed the thing. On Roderick Usher's person we discovered a golden spider and this turned out to be the key to the outside world at last.
Walking out the door was not the end of this nightmare however. That would have been too easy. No, there was a large crevasse of blood in front of the door out of which appeared a giant spider. I threw my knife at the spider and missed while others tried various other means of either avoiding the spider or attacking it. My knife fell into the pool of blood under the spider and I, thinking only of Father Morreti giving it to me on his deathbed, lunged after it. I found it too easily and the next thing I knew the knife flew out of my hand and split the carapace of the huge spider in two, landing the corpse on myself and trapping me in a bloody pit. Luckily, the others, with whom I began to feel a comraderie rescued me.
The end was to be only the beginning however as men approached us from an awaiting carriage.