Contest

The Case of Abbott

       Delphi pushed the door of her new student's house and immediately found herself breathing in heavy dust. “Oh dear! I am terribly sorry!” A petite woman about the age of forty waddled towards Delphi and awkwardly swept the soot off of her. Delphi blinked in surprise and stood as still as a statue. Delphi had been looking for a small job to keep her sustained after she had left college, and had browsed around through a large selection of book sorting jobs until her grandmother, a former police officer, had stopped her. She had said one of her good friends that she had made while she was on the force, who now lived on a small island a few hours away, had a daughter who was in need of an English tutor, and was happy to let her stay in the house. The daughter had apparently run into issues with her other tutors and had hoped this one would work out. Not knowing anything else, Delphi had accepted happily. Until she wished she had known more than just the address. 

       The house was large, almost like a castle with dark oak stairs, a golden chandelier, and oak floors. The windows held beautiful views of cliffs littered in red-gold leaves and white sand beaches, but the only problem was the state of the home. The roof's shingles were crumbling, the floors were unwashed, and the mantle right above the door was piled in dust, which now covered Delphi’s shoes. Delphi looked back up at the small woman and offered her a weak smile. “You must be Mrs. Abbott. I’m Delphi, your daughter's new tutor.” Mrs. Abbott turned to look at her, hiding something behind her back. Perhaps a duster, maybe. Mrs. Abbott smiled “Indeed I am dearie!” She laughed and gave her a motherly grin, gesturing for Delphi to follow her, not letting the other speak. Delphi’s eyes fluttered, and she stopped for a moment. Stopping, she turned around as she thought she heard a rustle in the curtains. Shrugging, she dragged her luggage into what seemed to be a dining hall, where a girl sat on a chair, doodling with a red colored pencil. She had shiny black hair, in heavy contrast to Delphi’s mousy gold, and gleaming olive colored eyes. Delphi frowned, and for a second she thought the child’s eyes had shifted to gold.

      The girl immediately jumped from her chair and trotted towards Delphi. She gave her a sweet smile, radiating the same merry vibes as her mother. “I’m Cassandra, who are you?” she asked. Mrs. Abbott shot her a look. “Be polite.” Delphi smiled and nodded clumsily. “Delphi Hart, but please just call me Delphi, I”- she was cut off by Cassandra. “Want a tour?” Delphi looked down at her with an air of curiosity. “Of course.” Cassandra leapt happily and took Delphi back the way she had come. Cassandra had lugged Delphi through multiple hallways, showing her grand bedrooms layered with luxurious quilts, colored mosaics of renaissance times, and a grumpy orange cat who appeared to be named “Grizabella,” but there always seemed to be eyes watching her, no matter where she went. She ignored them, as it was probably just an old haunted castle feeling. After an hour, Delphi had become so tired that she had slumped down a wall and groaned. Cassandra beamed at her. “It’s a big house isn’t it? It took me till I was ten to memorize everything, and I’m now eleven!” Delphi laughed gently and looked at a door in front of her. Instead of the usual dark oak doors, it was as black as squid ink. “What’s in there?” Delphi questioned, looking back at Cassandra. Cassandra's smile dropped. “Nothing.” She coughed and looked nervous. “I- I um. My fishing is drowning, give me a moment.” She ran off, but not before turning back towards Delphi like she wanted to say something. She just shook her head and sprinted back downstairs. Delphi frowned, wondering what was going on, and looked back at the door. It was oddly pleasing to look at. Delphi couldn’t help herself. She jumped upwards and pulled the door open. There was no lock. It swung open, granting her entry. Delphi let out an audible gasp. The room was oak from floor to the walls, the roof tilting into a pyramid. The very tip of it was flat and glass, letting a beam of golden light shoot down to the center of the room, the light hitting…coffins. All of them were dark oak and wreathed with flowers. Glass panels were on the tops of them, showing blurry heads all looking paralyzed. In red, written with ink on one of the coffins, words read, run. They aren’t what they seem. Next to it lay the body of a person who looked to be a librarian holding a pen lay lopsided on top of the coffin. A ghostly hum rang throughout the room, and Delphi cried in terror, shut the door in front of her, and scampered back to the wall. Cassandra had just come around the corner, tucking something into her back pocket and frowned. “What is it?” She asked. Delphi didn’t dare hold it back. “Coffins. So many dead bodies. Why?” Cassandra's shoulders slumped. “I hoped you wouldn’t know about that.” Immediately, Cassandra looked back up at her. She removed the thing from her pocket. One of the red pencils she had been doodling with. She clicked the top and the tip sharpened, becoming a long metal point, much like a dagger. She peeled something from her eyes, silver contacts. Her eyes were now a darkish gold, almost brown, but definitely gold. “I’m sorry.” The child gave her a smile, and for once Delphi saw just how sadistic it was. Delphi shrieked, and ran down the several flights of stairs towards the dining hall, screaming for help. Mrs. Abbott had taken Cassandra's chair, and was examining a paper. She looked up, as if startled that Delphi was still here. “Oh. Dearie is everything all right?” Delphi sobbed with dismay. “Cassandra! She was holding a knife! And there were dead bodies in one of the bedrooms!” Mrs. Abbott looked pained. “Oh I wish you didn’t know that. You seemed like such a good young lady.” She took what Delphi had thought to be a duster out of her apron. A sword, shiny but old, possibly from the renaissance. The woman smiled sadly and advanced on Delphi. 

      Delphi stumbled backwards, but tripped on a rug. “Oh!” She fell, but was caught by old warm arms. Her grandmother stood there, holding her tightly, looking grim. Mrs. Abbott looked fearful. “Oh! Hannah! It’s been a while! Hasn’t it?” Delphi’s grandmother removed a taser from her left jacket pocket. She looked down at Delphi. “You know sweetheart, I may not be on the front line anymore, but I was one of the most valuable police officers out there. I was contacted several months ago on how multiple people had disappeared at this location.” She sent a look at the cowering Mrs. Abbott. “All of them had something in common. An editor, an English teacher, a simple woman who sorted books in a library, all of them had something to do with language arts.” Her grandmother took out handcuffs, and faster than Delphi had thought her old bones could move, she slapped them onto a still dazed Mrs. Abbott. “So, when I heard that Petunia , or Mrs. Abbott, needed a tutor for her daughter, I offered you the job, and followed you around the house, watching you, making sure of any suspicious movements. Of course, it was a risk, but I still have contact with other officers as I’ve mentioned. They are currently upstairs right now, subduing Cassandra Abbott. Now, I’d figure they’d make a move on you, as they’ve been doing with all the other tutors they’ve had, and my suspicions were correct.” Delphi’s grandmother sighed, her chest rattling up and down. Delphi had no idea what to think. She glared at Mrs.Abbott. “You seemed like such a sweet woman.” 

        After returning to her grandmother's house, Delphi sat on the couch, feeling more calm than she would ever imagine she would after an experience like this. Her grandmother entered the room, and Delphi smiled and got up. “I’ve decided.” Her grandmother raised her eyebrow. “I think I’m done with language arts. I think, for now, I want to teach math.” And with that, no more English tutors went missing at the castle of Abbot ever again.

Author


Avatar

Aditi Ahuja - 7th grade

Aditi has lively and vivid imagination, weaving tales with such intricate details and finesse that it's almost impossible not to get lost in her world. Her vocabulary is strong, and so is the command of English language. As much as she enjoys building fiction stories, she simply detests writing formal essays!