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The Wichita Falls Murders

Shermen House Bed & Breakfast

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a part of The Wichita Falls Murders, by AgathaBenson.

The drafty old house makes no attempts to hide its gloomy vibe and grim past. Still, the rooms are cheap and the short ribs are pretty good.

AgathaBenson holds sovereignty over Shermen House Bed & Breakfast, giving them the ability to make limited changes.

414 readers have been here.

Setting

Though pretty normal looking by today's standards, in a tiny farming town circa 1924 the Shermen House was the most elaborate home in the county. With three floors, an enclosed garden, and private balconies attached to most of the bedrooms, the charming estate testified to the Shermen family's power, influence, and wealth back in Wichita Falls' heyday.

But now, after being sold to the town council, renovated extensively, and then resold to Miriam Shermen, the house looks certainly the worse for wear. Most of the original rooms were joined together or replaced with space for extra beds. The dining room was shrunk by half, and Zechariah Shermen's private study was turned into custodial closet. But Miriam tries her best to uphold the place she once called her home, not so much for her sake as for the dignity of her forebears...if they have any left.

For decades rumors have persisted about the house being haunted by the ghosts of Zechariah, Hannah, and Joshua Shermen. Numerous guests have reported hearing odd noises, seeing flickers of reflections in the bathroom mirrors, all that usual haunted house stuff. Miriam personally doesn't think her grandparents' and uncle roam around the old halls, but she knows that the belief that they do is the only reason tourists ever stay at the B&B, so she lets the stories persist.
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Shermen House Bed & Breakfast

The drafty old house makes no attempts to hide its gloomy vibe and grim past. Still, the rooms are cheap and the short ribs are pretty good.

Minimap

Shermen House Bed & Breakfast is a part of Wichita Falls, Oklahoma.

4 Characters Here

Miriam Shermen [10] A lonely old woman who's lived her entire life carrying the burden of her family's misfortunes
Penny Sherman [9] A spunky girl willing to do what she believes is right.
Zachary Benett [8] A young man who just wants to know his true family.
Marcus Fitch [0] The Local Doctor

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Character Portrait: Miriam Shermen
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Miriam could never quite get herself to sleep late on any given day. It was even worse when they were expecting guests, which they were.

She felt silly about it, but she simply had to make sure everything looked decent. The last thing she needed as a small business owner was people thinking their rooms were dirty or their sheets hadn't been changed recently.

Normally, she would have asked Willa to help her set the breakfast table, but the girl was young and needed sleep much more than Miriam did. What was it they said...that sleep kept wrinkles away.

"God knows, it might even be true." she sighed to herself, prodding uncomfortably at her own skin, but then stopping herself, "No time for elderly regrets, Miriam dear, we have work to do." she told herself.

So she put some eggs and bacon on the stove, opened a few windows in the dining room (it was terribly cold outside, but the house was always so stale and musty-smelling) and sat at the dining room table, a copy of the morning's paper in front of her.

It would be a long day, with new guests and all, and she must be prepared.

-Miriam

2 Characters Present

Character Portrait: Penny Sherman Character Portrait: Miriam Shermen
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Three buses, ten taxis, two hitch hiked cars, and more than fifteen thousand steps later, here she was. A girl with only fifteen bucks in her pocket and all her clothes in a duffel bag, standing before a bed and breakfast to meet a relative she hadn't heard of until now. Well, it could be worse,

Penny clutched her blue bag and stared at the building nervously. It looked like a friendly enough place. That is, if "friendly" was to be used very loosely. Still, she wouldn't mind living here when her aunt was going to take her in.

Wait, no. Not when. If. Penny still wasn't sure if this lady was gonna take her in, or dump her in the streets. In fact, she hadn't even thought about the latter. Where was she going to stay then? Would she go back to her parents? Live on the streets?

Penny shook her head, clearing away the thoughts. "Focus. She's family. She can't just throw me out," she mumbled, mainly to herself. She straightened up, and slowly walked to the entrance of the bed and breakfast. She could do this. She was going to do this. This was going to change her life, just as she wanted. Hopefully.

She took a deep breath, and stepped in.

3 Characters Present

Character Portrait: Zachary Benett Character Portrait: Penny Sherman Character Portrait: Miriam Shermen
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Zachary Benett





These past few days had been grueling for Zach, as his careful planning began to go awry. He was supposed to be in Wichita Falls more than two weeks ago but delays with his car breaking down and not having enough money afterwards had put a damper on all of those plans. He had finally managed to get things settled and arrived mere hours ago. He didn't quite know where to go from there though. It wasn't like he had called ahead and spoken to Miriam Shermen, he had just shown up out of the blue carrying on him a single bag of old ragged clothes and a faded Polaroid of Audrienne.

Now he was simply stuck staring nervously at the Bed and Breakfast, wanting nothing more than to turn around and disappear. But he just couldn't do that. Not now that he's this close. So, without further procrastination he knocks on the front door, unsure if he was simply supposed to go in or not. He opens the door and stands awkwardly at the threshold.

"Hello?" He calls.

He belatedly realized that they may not be open, but shook his head.

"No, they have to be." Zach knew, he had been watching the house for a while and had seen a girl enter not too long ago.

Zach waits, though not very patiently as he begins shifting from foot to foot and drumming his fingers against his leg. Nervous and jittery, but most certainly ready for whats coming.

3 Characters Present

Character Portrait: Zachary Benett Character Portrait: Penny Sherman Character Portrait: Miriam Shermen
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Miriam didn't know exactly how long she sat in front of the newspaper, reading little bits and pieces here and there, and only getting up occasionally to make sure the bacon on the stove wasn't burning. Willa must still be asleep. That was one of the perks of being young and willful, she supposed...it was easier to stay asleep.

She heard an insistent knocking on the door. Odd. It was much too early for the college students, and she never really had visitors of any other sort.

"Be right there!" she called, knowing they probably couldn't hear her. It took some time for her to get out of her seat, but she was still a fast enough walker that she didn't lose too much time getting to the door.

When she reached the lobby (formerly the entrance hall, back when the old place was just a house) Miriam gave a start to find there was already someone waiting there, a girl looking like she'd lived here her whole life.

"Hello." she said, her voice sharp but not quite unkind, "And who might you be? And how long have you been standing here?"

She reached into her cardigan pocket and pulled out her wire-rim reading glasses so as to better inspect the girl. She didn't look sinister, and she had a bag with her.

But there was still someone at the door, wanting to come in.

"I'll be with you in a moment." She hastened to the front doors, saw that they were not locked (which explained how her visitor had gotten inside), and opened it onto the front porch.

There was a young man standing on the patio, looking much the worse for wear. He also didn't have much luggage, which immediately discounted him as being one of the college people.

"Hello." she said, a trifle suspicious, "Er...who exactly are you?"

3 Characters Present

Character Portrait: Zachary Benett Character Portrait: Penny Sherman Character Portrait: Miriam Shermen
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Zachary Benett


He hadn't exactly known how long he was standing there, but his head was swarming with thoughts as the time passed. Once the older woman opened the door his breath stopped. She looked like Audrienne, an older version but they had similar facial features. Though Audrienne had brown.

"Hello." The woman who answered the door said "Er...who exactly are you?"

Zach could tell she was suspicious, and that made all of his doubts grow all over again. He felt his mouth grow dry and his hands shook. He started to dig around his pocket for the picture of Audrienne but lost the nerve. No, he would say something later. When it was just the two of them and they could talk privately.

"Um, I ah, wanted to see if there was a room open?" He answers, lamely. "I have plenty of money, I just need a place for a while."

He looked at the younger woman.

"I uh, came here alone actually, we aren't here together." Zach tells the woman, "I mean, like we don't know each other. I just need a room." He falters a little bit in his smile, trying not to seem overly suspicious.

3 Characters Present

Character Portrait: Zachary Benett Character Portrait: Penny Sherman Character Portrait: Miriam Shermen
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Miriam looked the boy up and down. Well, at least he and the girl weren't lovers eloping from some distant city...and he looked innocent enough, not to mention that he was irregularly polite for someone so young. Generally that meant he was honestly in need of help.

"Well, of course you can have a room." she said brusquely but not unkindly, "I've only two rooms booked at the moment, for a large party...er...some college students making a film." She wasn't sure why she was telling these people about that; maybe she found it odd that she hadn't had multiple parties staying at the same time in years, and now she would have three.

I'll have to head to the market straight away... she thought to herself, fretting, I'm already half out of eggs!

"Please, follow me...both of you." she looked inquiringly at the girl in the lobby, "I suppose you want a room too?"

She started off into the foyer, where she was at once greeted with the refreshing, warm and salty aromas of an old-fashioned Continental breakfast, "Can I interest you two in a meal? It's all part of the bill, anyway."

They both looked like they could use a bite to eat. Young people nowadays always looked so skinny...it wasn't healthy.

"May I have your names?" she asked as she led them toward the dining room, "For the register. We'll discuss your rooms over breakfast."

3 Characters Present

Character Portrait: Zachary Benett Character Portrait: Penny Sherman Character Portrait: Miriam Shermen
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Zachary Benett


"Can I interest you two in a meal? It's all part of the bill, anyway."

Zach nods, feeling a little helpless now as he peers wearily around the house. Its pretty big, and has a more homey feeling than what he's used to. His parents house never felt lived in, even though he was there all the time. They never were home and when they were it felt more like hell than home. This place sort of made him feel more at ease.

"That would be lovely ma'am," He answers her.

"May I have your names?" she asked as she led them toward the dining room, "For the register. We'll discuss your rooms over breakfast."

"Zachary...." He trails off, visibly spacing out for a moment before snapping back. "Benett, is my last name." He remembers that he must not do that too much, spacing out usually made people think he was odd. Sometimes it even scared them and he didn't like people being afraid of him.

3 Characters Present

Character Portrait: Zachary Benett Character Portrait: Penny Sherman Character Portrait: Miriam Shermen
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They reached the dining room, which by now was warm and suffused with the smells of breakfast food. First drawing open the curtains to let in some sunlight, Miriam turned to regard her two guests, "Zachary, you say? Very good." She committed it to memory which, despite what some of her contemporaries might think, was not failing in the slightest, and told herself to mark it in the registry later.

Ma'am! He called me ma'am! She was very curious about this boy...he looked quite young, and maybe she should have asked for I.D or proof that he was able to pay for a room. But it felt like a wretched thing to do, turning a young man out into the cold. She didn't want to act like the old harpy the whole town already thought she was.

"Please, sit down, sit down..." she began to move toward the kitchen, "I'll have food out in a moment. I'd have already set the table, but my niece is still asleep and she usually helps me with meals." she hurried into the kitchen, still talking as she went, "Never mind, though, I'll be ready in a moment."

3 Characters Present

Character Portrait: Zachary Benett Character Portrait: Penny Sherman Character Portrait: Miriam Shermen
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Penny looked around, giving a low whistle. Oh yeah. She definitely wouldn't mind staying here. Her attention was caught by a woman walking towards her.

"Hello." she said, her voice sharp but not quite unkind, "And who might you be? And how long have you been standing here?"

Penny fiddled with her bag's strap nervously. This had to be her aunt. "Um, I just arrived a few minutes ago, actually. And my name is Penny Sher..." she drifted midsentence as the woman excused herself to take care of a boy on the porch. The boy looked exhausted; even more so than Penny.

"Please, follow me...both of you." the woman said as she accepted the boy's request for a room, and looked inquiringly at the girl in the lobby, "I suppose you want a room too?"

Penny nodded eagerly. "Yes, please." The last decent rest she had was when she stayed at a motel two days ago; even then it was more of a fitful nap than anything refreshing.

She followed the woman, her nose twitching in delight as a wonderful smell wafted around her. Breakfast! Real breakfast! Not the crappy granola bars and semi rotten apples bought in convenience stores while traveling, but actual bacon and eggs breakfast! Penny inhaled deeply and patted her rumbling stomach.

"May I have your names?" the woman asked as she led them toward the dining room, "For the register. We'll discuss your rooms over breakfast."

Penny settled into the nearest chair, watching as the woman hurried around. This was it. Her chance at telling her aunt who she was and why she was here. The moment she had been waiting for. "My name is Penny, miss. Penny Sherman."

3 Characters Present

Character Portrait: Zachary Benett Character Portrait: Penny Sherman Character Portrait: Miriam Shermen
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Miriam was just emerging from the kitchen, her hands laden down with dishes. She'd have to make two trips... Ah, but it was something to do at least, to keep her from having a nervous fit when those college students showed up.

"There's bacon, eggs, potatoes, and coffee or tea, as you like it." she said, mustering up a smile for the young peoples' benefit, though the plates were quite heavy, she hated the idea of looking inept in her own place of business.

The red-headed girl spoke up as Miriam was laying the plates, "My name is Penny, miss. Penny Sherman."

Miriam, who at the moment was rearranging the cream and sugar on the table, slowly raised her head to face the girl.

"Penny Sherman?" It could have been a coincidence, sure enough, after all it wasn't a very uncommon name, or anything like that. But the way Penny said it, pointedly and with meaning, suggested that Penny knew and wanted Miriam to know.

"My, my," Miriam said at last, not quite sure what else to say, "You'll forgive me, I hope, but...am I supposed to know you?" She'd never met any younger members of the family. She knew that some of her younger brothers and sisters had had children, Willa being one of them of course...but she'd never bothered herself to know their names, and she'd never heard anything about them.