Once all the guests had left, he walked back into the hall and smiled to himself. He took a deep breath and exhaled sharply, mentally congratulating himself on a task well performed.

It was something he had been planning for ages, and it seemed amazing, how quickly it got over.

Three guests, very distinguished ones, and each from a different part of town, had agreed to meet and have dinner at a man’s house – a man they’d never seen or met before, but considered a threat to each of their businesses because he knew of each and every trick the guests had used to become the successful people they were now, and he had threatened to use it against them.

The blackmailer wasn’t our host, anyway. The blackmailer was lying unconscious in one of the cupboards in the house.

No, the host of the party was a very different person. He took advantage of the fact that the guests had never seen their to be host before, and knocked the actual host senseless before the arrival of the guests.

He strolled around the room, contemplating his next move, and turned sharply, and walked briskly to the table, where many papers lay crumpled.

It wasn’t safe for his plans to be found here; it had his fingerprints all over it…

He looked for his papers in a mad scramble as he tossed paper after paper into the fireplace, and once the desk was rid of all the bank statements, letters and notices and bills, he stood in shock, as the permanent destruction of those papers was of utmost importance.

His mind raced, and his heart was beating much faster than usual.

His world was crumbling to pieces around him. If someone were to discover the plans, he would be sunk. No alibi was secure enough, no lie believable if the plans reached the police.

Shivering, he walked slowly to the nearest armchair and sank into it, imagining the consequences if one of the guests had found the papers.

Small but effective doses of arsenic mixed with the whiskey, and three people living in three different parts of the country dying of poisoning, and all three of them connected by one thing – the party the unconscious man in the cupboard hosted. Of course, the man would insist repeatedly thay he was drugged and he never hosted the party, but it would only be his word against the confirmed fact that there people had had dinner at his house.

As the host sank into his armchair, he realized that the real host would soon wake, and that he needed to act fast. He stood up suddenly, and there was a definite click sound, the sound of someone loading a gun.

“Hands in the air, and don’t make a move”, said a voice.

The host turned on his heel, hands high in the air, only to find the maid holding a gun in one hand and crushed papers in the other.

She said, “I saw it all from the window of the room where you drugged the master, and at the right moment, I jumped in and got the papers. I know what you did to the guests, and I will tell the police now.”

She walked over to the window, possibly to fire shots to warn the local night watchman, but in doing so, she let her guard down, and the host took advantage of it, grabbing the gun from her hands and shooting her through the side of the head.

She thudded to the ground, dead, and as the host looked out the window, he saw the watchman lumbering his way to the house.

He took in his surroundings and breathed a sigh of relief.

He took the plans and threw them in the fireplace, and placed the gun in the maid’s hand.

He made himself look like another guest who had attended the party.

The unconscious host would wake soon, and the inspector would find a dead maid, a poisoned guest and one conscious owner of the house.

He sat back in his armchair, and poured himself the whiskey. The very same whiskey his guests had drunk, and he drained the contents….

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