Gregson thought he saw something moving between the trees, but he couldn’t say for sure.
“Enjoying the view?”
Gregson jumped out of his skin. He turned around and noticed an elderly man in a smoking jacket and pink rabbit slippers.
“My butler said you wished to talk to me and that it was urgent.”
“Yes,” Gregson said. “A girl is dead, and we think one of your mannequins might have something to do with it.”
“But that’s impossible. There’s nothing but wood and fabric and cotton in there. I’ll admit, they’re life-like, but to think they could have anything to do with a murder?”
“We have one of your mannequins on camera. It walked across a room.”
“But that’s impossible. Are you sure it wasn’t a customer dressed like a mannequin?”
“I considered that and perhaps I can show you the video?”
“I’d like that.”
Gregson pulled out his smart phone and showed him.
“Someone is playing a practical joke on you, that’s all.”
“That joke cost a girl her life.”
“Well, I’ll show you my factory in the morning, but there isn’t much to see; just some needle and thread and countless hours of doing what I love.”
“Well… goodnight then.”
And Gregson heard the pitter-patter of rabbit feet walking down the stone steps.
Gregson looked at the dark forest. This time he definitely saw something. “Time to load the revolver,” he said. But when he walked to the door, he noticed the butler downstairs, on watch, or so it appeared. “There must be another way.” Gregson looked at his bedsheets and smiled. “I’m too old for this.” But he was out the window and touching his feet to the ground like he was 21. He walked boldly towards the trees with his silver flashlight in one hand and his revolver in the other. God, it was good to be young again.
And there it was again. A figure danced in front of him. “Stop or I’ll shoot!” But it just kept running. Gregson held his fire. He walked deeper into the woods until he found what he was looking for. A mannequin lay prostrate on the ground, lifeless. And Gregson checked to see that it was unarmed. “I wonder if it’s playing dead?” But there was no way to find out and he walked back to the castle to ring the doorbell.