4F: SOUND OF SILENCE
In front of Prussia now was a set of stairs. At the end of the staircase there was a small note on the wall:
GO WHERE ONLY ONE EYE IS OPEN.
He looked a bit to his right. There were only three faces, all had mouths wide enough to crawl in. Two of them had their eyes wide open, the last of the hallway had its eyes closed.
He grimaced. Russia, you have got to be kidding me. Then again, you always have a proclivity to hide secret passages, don’t you? This was no exception either, to Prussia. The albino then took one more chary look at the note. “Where only one eye is open” eh? It clicked. Prussia slowly walked until he found a place where one eye was close, and the other was open.
There was a small crack on the wall.
As Prussia examined it, the crack grew wider until it shaped like yet another mouth. “Aha,” Prussia exclaimed, “I’m getting rather good at this.” He then crawled inside the newly-created mouth and found an one-way corridor, through which he made his way to the other side. Along the way, Prussia though he found spikes and absurd creatures aiming at him, which frightened him although they did him no harm. Soon, he was able to find a large, dark hall.
Prussia noticed a small piece of paper on the floor with scribbles on it. He picked it up and read:
MAKE SOUND IN FOUR ROOMS
He saw the black cat again to his right.
“Ah, this floor is pretty quiet, don’t you think?” the creature exclaimed.
“I’d rather like this ambience, to be honest.” Prussia replied. Indeed, after all the motley he had had throughout his life, Prussia was content to have succumbed into this peaceful silence.
“Perhaps too much for a country who craved war, don’t you think?” The cat said, mocking.
Prussia just let out a scoff and moved on. The locked exit is at the end of the hall, guarded by a toy Cossack soldier. In closer speculation, it looked more like a masterpiece by a talented taxidermist. The former Soviet Union used to have a reputation of this kind of artist after all.
Prussia then entered the first room on his right, in which he saw three pumpkins. Two of them have faces carved into them while the bigger of the three was plain. He proceeded to kick the two smaller pumpkins, but they didn’t make much of a sound. The bigger one, however, made a loud thud that could be heard across the room. Prussia then kicked the pumpkin thrice more until the door up north opened. He walked right in.
Inside was an eerie room with several statues and peculiar object. A small note was stuck on the walls.
I CAN BE THE SUN, I CAN BE THE SAND, AND I CAN BE A BIRD.
WHAT AM I?
Prussia sighed. He solved one puzzle in order to find yet another one. You really like to mess up with people’s head, do you, Russia?
Prussia looked around for answers. There was a) a grandfather clock, b) a red chair, c) a freakish-looking plant, and d) a mirror.
“The chair, irrelevant. The plant, also irrelevant. Which narrows down to the mirror and the clock,” Prussia thought. “Okay… maybe the mirror? It could be anything it shows on the screen, right?” So he opted for the ornate furniture. The floor suddenly rattled furiously, and the statues to his sides moved. The last thing he heard was the sound of the statues crashing into each other, and everything went black.
Prussia later woke up in the middle of the hallway.
“What the hell just happened?” He asked himself. Prussia felt numb almost everywhere on his body, especially his chest. He found it hard to breathe as he gasped for air. After a while, his lungs went back to their usual composure, and he was well on his feet again.
He walked back to the Puzzle Room. The cryptic ambience was the same, the alignment of the objects were mostly the same. Except for a pool of blood in the middle of the room, in front of the note.
“I must’ve died once,” Prussia thought. Which meant whenever an injudicious decision was made, the nation would perish, Prussia made a mental note to himself. Therefore, the pale man drew the conclusion that the mirror wasn’t the correct answer after all.
He walked to the note and read it again, this time for better decipherment.
ARE YOU ABSOLUTELY SURE YOU DID NOT ANSWER WRONGLY ON PURPOSE?
“No…,” Prussia shook his head, finding a tint of mockery between the lines. “It’s just my wild guess, really. I didn’t think thoroughly enough, I’m afraid.”
THEN I SHALL GIVE YOU ANOTHER HINT
I CAN BE THE SUN, I CAN BE THE SAND, AND I CAN BE A BIRD.
I CAN ALSO BE AN ELDERLY MAN
WHAT AM I?
“The grandfather clock I guess.” Prussia spoke, not realising he was speaking to himself… or perhaps the note writer, whoever he or she was. “I’m wavering between the clock and the miror, but upon seeing that the mirror was incorrect, I should opt for the clock”
The whole room shifted once more, and a voice was heard. “…Correct.” It said. All the other objects vanished into thin air, leaving only the non-ticking grandfather clock. A turnkey fell out: it was the Queen Key.
As he left the Puzzle Room he saw another note pinned on the wall.
BLUE EYES SEE THE SCORE.
(To Aini: For logical purposes, I shall not let Prussia figure the instructions in the “Eye Studies” book, instead let him take a good look at the paintings himself.)
Prussia thought for a bit, then took a considerate observation at the paintings. There were several replicas of the famous painting “Mona Lisa” by renowned artist Leonardo Da Vinci. “Wow,” he quietly exclaimed, “people would not be able to tell the difference if they don’t look closely enough. The hair and eye colour are different.”
The woman drawn on the second painting to the left of the room had beautiful and nostalgic blue eyes, Prussia thought to himself. It was as bright as those of his old friend France, as deep as those of his dearest West…
“You really like the colour blue, don’t you, Russia?” Prussia smiled. “Blue eyes… see the score. That’s it!”
With that, he looked across the room. To where the wall which the enchanting gaze is looking stuck out a tiny piece of paper. Prussia came to check it out: it was a music sheet. Russia’s favourite piano sonata, he smiled a bit, looking briefly through the music notes, I though I’ve heard him play this at social gatherings several times, before he became this, urg, sociopath communist, huh.
Prussia was about to take the music sheet with him when the floor shook, and the paintings moved. The blue-eyed “Mona Lisa” escaped the frame and aimed herself at him. Prussia quickly ran to the door, trying to make his exit only to find that the door is tightly shut. The mad woman is still gaining on him, till he found another note pinned onto the door:
DESTROY THE PAINTING
“Very funny, Russia, Very funny.” Prussia mocked, although he knew that was not the appropriate time for sarcasm. He quickly ran towards the once painting, broke the frame to pieces and tore the canvas apart.
The woman disappeared into thin air. What the incident left, though, was a hideous hole on the wall. Prussia breathed out slightly, trying to regain his composure. “Women,” he concluded, “can be really scary at times.”
Prussia got out of the gallery and made his way to the first room on his left.
Russia’s living room, where he used to serve his guests the best tea and pastry, Prussia traced back his memories. Whenever they found the time, the Soviet members often enjoyed their refreshment tea and the trivial chattering. Lizzie(1) was even invited to these occasions by Kathy(2) and Nat(3); hell, those three girls were constantly mimicking and bickering the other guys in the house. The three Baltic dorks, with the stupid vamp and his feeble friend, gathered to play some crappy card game they called poker. Of course Russia wasn’t quite content, but as long as his family, his Union, was happy, so would he, as he always say.
Prussia still failed to understand why the larger nation would murder his family.
Porcelain teacups and saucers were placed neatly on a kitchen wagon, probably the aftermath of those tea parties Prussia himself wouldn’t join even if they were the last parties on Earth.
A small music box, shaped like an egg, was placed in the middle of the room, embellished mostly with precious gemstones and pure gold. The only Faberge Egg left, Prussia though after thorough examination of the object, Grand Duchess Anastasia’s birthday gift. What was left after the Revolution. Russia’s only keepsake to remind him of his deceased dear friend.
The note next to the Faberge Egg said:
PLAY THE MUSIC BOX WITH 12
Latvia’s writing, Prussia traced his fingers on the worn-out ink of each word he read. Must have been what he learned from playing cards. After all, he always won more than anyone who joined in that stupid game, huh?”
“Number 12 in a normal deck of cards is the Queen,” Prussia smiled a bit, “Lizzie told me about it a while ago. She did engage into this shit after all.” He shook his head slightly. “Ah, I see, so I have to play the music box with the Queen Key.” So he inserted the Queen Key he found into the hole and turned the Egg on.
The Egg opened and played a lovely song:
Prussia hummed a bit to the rhythm of the song, tapping his fingers on the table. Russia used to do this when he played the Egg too, right? Anastasia must’ve fallen in love with this song long ago.
To the left of the living room was a small door, leading to what used to be Ukraine’s study. Just as Prussia expected, the desk was packed with communist philosophical books, notes, agendas and financial accounts. How the hell can a delicate woman, who has such savvy taste in literature and poetry, endure all those boring books which contain nothing but litanies? Prussia asked himself. In hindsight, she was still a Soviet at heart after all, huh.
At the middle of the desk, however, was yet another page of “RUSSIA’S DIARY”
I X all the ‘friends’ who came to my house after that.
They were all eaten by the house.
But it wasn’t enough.
“…Seriously,” Prussia said, deadpan, “what the hell is going on in this house? And what does it mean by ‘enough’?”
The diary with cryptic words were frightening to say the least. The woman’s coffee table, well that was a different story. On the coffee table lay a jack-in-the-box, which Ukraine kept it for the sake of her siblings, or so they say. The first time it opened, nothing out of the ordinary happened. The second, its face was covered in red. It was not normal red paint, Prussia was sure of that, because it elicited a peculiar smell that did not smell a bit like paint.
It was more like blood.
Prussia imediately exited the room and made his way to the North room.
The charm point of the room was the grande piano, with a beautiful flower vase next to it. Several chairs were situated at the four walls – enough chairs for all the nations of Eastern Europe to be seated. There was a small bookcase, saved especially for music sheets and such.
The piano room. How could he forget? Beautiful music was played here. Prussia would like to brag, but the Soviets were quite virtuosi at their prime.
Prussia took at curious look at the bookshelf. There was a queer-looking book called “Eye Studies”, which concentrated on the outer characteristics of Ukrainian women during the Second World War. He looked at the book cover a bit, but not once did he pick it up to read. (Again, for logical purposes, I’m going to skip the reading part.)
Instead he moved on to read the note on the wall:
YOU NEED NOT PLAY.
Again, a more or less occult note, which might be a hint for something Prussia would need but would not want to know.
Prussia placed the music sheet he found on the piano anyway and took a step back. He planned to take his seat and hit the keyboard when the notes suddenly hit on their own. The sonata was sounded.
“It seemed as if Russia was here all along,” Prussia said to himself. The large pale man would have every certainty of playing this piece well and truly flawless.
TOLD YOU SO. YOU NEED NOT PLAY.
The vase took a sudden shook, and out came a turnkey: this time, it was the King Key.
“This belongs to the grandfather clock, I believe.” Prussia thought to himself. So he ran back to the room where only the clock stood and placed the turnkey. The clock started ticking with a nonchalant sound.
Sound was made in all of the rooms.
Eventually, Prussia heard an unlocking door somewhere. He immediately left.
The hallway was fully lit up with radiant candles, making it easy to figure out the pathways. Yet, just as Prussia stood at the door to the piano room, the Cossack soldier statue broke in half, making him jolt a bit.
The performance had ended a while ago, so it seemed. Prussia took one last look at the piano before he proceeded to the door on his right.
For those who don’t know, are confused or don’t even give a care to bother:
(1) Lizzie is Hungary
(2) Kathy is Ukraine
(3) Nat is Belarus