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Cat's Cradle

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How much time had passed since the tenth ball had dropped? This particular guest at the estate had been regretting not buying a watch specifically for this occasion long before he had entered the vault and been restrained by the Owner. The Owner. Becoming aware again of his restraints and thinking of the owner of this house who had put him in them, he began to smile. The vault door suddenly unlocking startled him out of his thoughts. He placed all of his attention on that door, which was now slowly opening, and to his excitement, the Owner appeared.

"Julius, you didn't look for the money. You didn't try to escape from the restraints. You didn't move at all from your position, hanging from the ceiling," the Owner listed out. "I even gave you an out, and yet you didn't panic."

"As tempting as having you come in to rescue me sounds, I was more curious about what would happen if I didn't escape."

"Curiosity, cats? Stop me if you've heard this one."

"Oh, I have. Plenty of times, but I'm still alive now."

"Now, you say," the Owner replied ominously. "Come now, you've seen what this house can do. You'd been so cautious up 'till now."

"All so I could get to this point."

"And yet you decided to be curious now? What are you expecting?"

"I've been curious this whole time. If I hadn't been up until now, I would never have come here. I'd heard the rumors about this place. Seven people go inside, one leaves, and six disappear. I was curious, so I came here, but I wouldn't be satisfied with just leaving after all I've seen here. I haven't seen enough. I know there's more, and I want to see it."

"I'm delighted that you enjoy my house so much. Few do. Unfortunately, it's not part of the fortune that I'm giving away."

"And it's not just the house I've become more interested in after coming here."

The Owner chuckled. "Is that so?"

"I knew that someone living in a house like this had to be a fascinating sort of person, and I wasn't disappointed after meeting the one who lived here."

"Well." The Owner stepped forward to make the distance between them what would be an uncomfortably close distance for most of his other guests. "If you want to know more, I suppose I could show you, but..." The Owner stepped backwards toward the vault door. "I'm quite tired after entertaining you and the other guests tonight, so it will have to wait until morning. Goodnight." He sauntered out of the room, closing the door behind him. The door locked again, and the lights in the room went out.

"It will be a long time before morning comes," the guest whispered to himself. "If morning comes." Even alone in a dark vault, he smiled thinking about what may await him.