Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush
The game was just starting and, like a dolls on shelf, Spencer, Hanna, Aria and Emily were in their rooms, waiting for something to happen. The familiar whereabouts where of no comfort when they reminded them of where they should actually be. The concrete wall behind the windows was a constant taunt at their lack of freedom.
Aria closed her eyes for a second and breathed out. She hadn't been sleeping well ever since that psycho had locked them away. She felt exhausted but closing her eyes and falling asleep would just make things easier for A, or Charles, whoever he was. As these thoughts flooded her brain, she quickly opened her eyes again.
“Please remain calm,” the voice on the speaker said.
This made Aria quickly sit up straight.
“Please remain calm,” the voice repeated.
She jumped to her feet, anticipating something but nothing came. The minutes ticked and Aria sat back down. Maybe it was just another way Charles was having fun: making them think something would happen when it clearly was not going to. A sickly sweet smell invaded her nostrils as she grabbed on to the edge of the bed.
Aria tried to concentrate on something else, like how the replica of her room had no flaws. There has to be one, she thought as she desperately scanned the floor, the walls, the furniture to find some hint. It was as if she could find that one revealing detail then she could convince herself that she was really back at home, just about to go to bed, worried about a mid-term and nothing else.
What if the dollhouse was only in her head? What if she was back home and had convinced herself that A had locked her in a bedroom that looked exactly like hers? How could a person that wasn't her know about the mark she had made the one time she was young and dumb enough to try smoking a cigarette? It had to be a dream or a hallucination...
...There was nothing but darkness and a sharp pain at her temples. As Aria regained consciousness, she realized she was in a different room. She lifted her head off the table quickly, which only made the pain in her head worse. Looking around, all she could see were white walls but no door. Turning her head, she caught sight of her hair. The pink streaks of her early teenage years were back.
Only once the shock disappeared did Aria notice the four monitors before her with a button in front of each. They displayed nothing but static until Aria started looking around. The first screen came alive with some security camera footage, as if they had been waiting for her.
“Why are you showing me this?” she managed to cry out.
She was not granted a verbal response. However, to Aria's horror, she soon discovered why she was there. The door the first camera was focused on opened and she could see Ezra entered his apartment, leaving his jacket on the couch as he switched on the television as the camera panned.
“No! Don't hurt him!” Aria screamed, frightened and unable to peel her eyes away from the image.
The second screen switched from static to the DiLaurentis household where Jason was on his computer in his room. Before Aria could react, the third showed Noel rummaging through a refrigerator in what she presumed to be his kitchen. Finally, the last one turned on to show Sean Ackard deep in thought with a wide array of textbooks scattered around a desk.
Aria didn't understand what was going. Was she supposed to be frightened by the fact that A could spy on everyone she knew?
“Once upon a time, in the perfect little town of Rosewood, four friends resided,” a cheery, artificial voice began narrating over the speakers, “They were all cursed by their friendship with the queen bee but none wished to fight it. One fateful night, the leader strayed far from her nest and it caused a series of fatal events. The other bees were not still, they were not asleep. They were up to mischief of their own and in lies, neck deep. Aria Montgomery, the girl with pink hair, left the barn and wandered off somewhere. She got cozy with a Rosewood boy under September skies. Remember the ending or someone dies.”
Aria was covered in cold sweat as she observed the buttons lighting up in front of her. She knew she had to choose one but she couldn't remember anything from that night. There was no doubt in her mind that Charles was capable of killing them, even his own brother. She didn't want another death to be her fault. There was already enough blood on her hands. Her hands started shaking uncontrollably. She could have been with any of them that night, except maybe Ezra. Unless she was so drugged that she didn't remember ever meeting him. But that was not possible. Just thinking about it made her head spin.
“Remember the ending or someone dies,” the speaker repeated, beginning a countdown from twenty.
“I don't know!” she yelled, tears streaming down her face, but the seconds kept ticking away.
Aria closed her eyes, trying to think but nothing came to her. You can't exactly force memories to come flooding back.
“Five, four, three...”
Aria panicked as the countdown was nearing its end and closed her eyes, pressing the fourth button. She slowly opened them as silence filled the room. After hearing zero, she had been expecting something dramatic and horrific.
The first three screens were now filled with static again and all that remained was Sean studying in his house. All of a sudden, Sean's body fell limply atop his notes. Alarmed, Aria got closer to the screen. Only when she saw the dark fluid spreading over his papers did she realize he was dead.
Through her tears, Aria saw the other monitors turn back on.
“Remember the ending or someone dies.”