40k Bonus: The Maplegrove Manor Murderer

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Thank you all for 40k reads! Your reads and votes continue to make my day, and your comments continue to make me wheeze routinely. Also, speaking of comments. This bonus topic has been on my list since early March, after a suggestion from a reader in the comments of this book. It was never put up for vote because it predates my topic-voting chapter, but it was far, far too good to pass up. 

Some of you may remember this moment from Chapter 17...

My hand lands on my knife handle. Maplegrove is, unironically, the name of the run-down house in the woods occupied by a serial killer in a recent film flop: a cheesy Horror thing whose setting is creepier through sheer audience expectation than its actual storyline. Or so I've been told. I don't watch Horror movies. I'm not the only one to notice the name, though. Patrick retreats like a snail in its shell, and Calico J takes a step back. Ditzy's hand tightens on the handle of the flail that she is, of course, carrying.

Rather than jump us with a knife, Ember's expression turns wry. "It was supposed to be a joke. Shoes and Triptych took one look at the house and the rest is history. Now we can't get rid of the name."

... and this one from Chapter 31:

"No, that's what I said. I told it to leave." Ember groans. "Because that is the one word of Old Kjóll that I know, because I learned it from him"—Oreo again—"and he learned it from a movie or something. No, from that fucking Horror movie that Shoes and Triptych named this house after, because the murderer was possessed, so they made him speak in Old Kjóll because the scriptwriters couldn't be fucked to come up with a handful of gibberish. God, I hate that movie."

Ditzy giggles. "We'll have to organize a watch party after we save the world."

The Horror movie in question is entirely fictional, but it's one of my favourite unintended running jokes in the book. Unintended because it just kind of wrote itself. Favourite because its comedic potential is practically endless. So when Your1Demise suggested I write that watch party after the squad saves the world... well, here it is!

The giggling in the living room half an hour ago should have tipped me off

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The giggling in the living room half an hour ago should have tipped me off. That's on me. I've gotten so used to seeing joint pranks that I let down my guard—assumed we were safe because Brooklyn was out in the chicken coop with our grandfather, collecting eggs. In doing so, I demonstrated a profound lack of understanding for Sebastian's capacity for mischief when not directly supervised. Also for the fact that my little sister is not his only partner in crime.

When I next enter the upstairs rec room, I run smack into a blanket-wall.

"What on earth—" I begin, and am cut short by frantic shushing. Hysterical giggles follow, in several voices I recognize.

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