I had always known Bethany’s parents were wealthy to some extent, but I had never known just how wealthy until I arrived at the address I’d been given. This place was more like an estate than any home I’d ever been to before. The house itself looked to be 4000 square feet or more, and behind it rolled a large fenced-in expanse with what I had to assume was a horse barn in it.
When I arrived at the door, I was greeted by a couple of Rippers who welcomed me warmly into the house and showed me a place to put my shoes and hook to hang my keys on. The interior was dazzling. It looked like a ballroom in a Victorian era movie or something, too incredible to be real. A dozen or so individuals clad in red robes milled about, chatting and drinking red wine. Bethany soon appeared before me and offered me a glass, which I took though I felt somewhat reluctant to do so. I wasn’t a fan of red wine in general and this drink I found particularly disgusting. Still, not wanting to give away my discomfort with the situation, I drank almost the whole glass while making small talk with other Rippers.
Unlike most events I’d been to, none of the conversation in the room concerned the game. Instead, the topics were the fairly normal sorts of small talk you’d expect at any high school party: boys, girls, sports, TV, video games. I sought for sign of either Sarah or Adelaide but neither of them seemed to be in this grand foyer, and soon I found myself actually somewhat engrossed in discussions of football with a Ripper who I did not know and I thought perhaps went to another school. I was offered more of the horrible tasting wine and I drank as much as I felt I had to to be polite.
Eventually Bethany called us to order. Once she had our attention, she led us all into a smaller room, a library, the sort I had always imagined having if I myself were rich, though to be honest, I wasn’t a big reader. There was a plethora of comfortable, dark leather chairs and couches that smelled faintly of brandy and cigar smoke. There was also another smell, I noticed, a foul smell I couldn’t directly identify that reminded me of what I had smelled at that first event at Victoria’s house. The library was formidably dark, lit only by a few candles. Every shadow seemed, to me, to be the possible home of demons. I noticed that Sarah was in this room, sitting at a desk at which she was joined by Bethany. There must have been close to 20 of us in that room now. Some of them, like me, were new and looked around with nervous apprehension. The rest seemed confident in whatever was to come.
I decided to slip out the disposable camera to capture an image of this scene, waiting until I could be sure no attention was on me. Thankfully there was still enough chatter in the room to conceal the click of the shutter, and thankfully also I kept the flash from going off, though I had to wonder if the light in the room would be enough to give an details in the picture I had taken. I took one more, aiming to capture a clear image of Bethany, who as it so happened was the most well illuminated person in the room given that she stood at the desk which had been covered in candles, whispering something to Sarah.
Eventually Bethany called us to order again.