My eyes widened and I gasped, my chest constricting with pain. Pain bred from the fear that was coursing through my body but whoever or whatever it was, disappeared in seconds, and I turned to find a troubled Cara looking at me apprehensively. She was sitting up in her bed, and I could see the numerous questions she wanted to ask swimming in her eyes.
The melody had disappeared along with the living breathing nightmare. The crawling man flashed through my mind and I shuddered, the words echoing in my head. What did they mean? Was it not enough? Was I not tortured enough till now? What else were they planning for me?
I felt a sob build up in my chest but I couldn’t let it out. Cara’s eyes roamed my body, noting the quivering. She opened her mouth but closed it again, sadness filling her eyes as she stared at me. I looked away, unable to stare at my best friend, my body quaking with the effects of what had happened. I don’t know for how long we stayed that way but finally Cara’s voice broke through the silence. The roaring of clouds outside had comparatively decreased but the pitter patter of rain was increasing by the second.
“Do you want to get some hot chocolate? It might help you sleep as well as me; this damn storm is getting to me. ” Her voice broke slightly on some of the syllables but her tone was carefree and casual. I felt relief flood through me as I nodded. She knew I wasn’t alright and she also knew I wasn’t going to talk. I could see the sympathy and pity she had for me on her face but I was glad she wasn’t going to question me because I couldn’t even say a word with the lump stuck in my throat from what had happened and the words echoing in my ears like a warning.
We both stood up, my legs wobbling beneath me but not enough to unbalance me. I blew through my lips, feeling the beginning of a headache as I followed Cara downstairs. She had a cushion clutched in her hands, her eyes still darting around fearfully as the sound of thunder sounded or lightning struck. When I had first seen Cara so petrified of storms, I had blamed it on a childish phobia but then David, who had know her since they were babies told me how her grandmother had been murdered by a burglar when she was babysitting Cara, and Cara had seen it from upstairs. That day there was a storm outside and somehow the trauma of the event had turned into a fear of storms.
Cara never talked about it and I don’t think she even remembered that night anymore considering her young age at the time but the fear present in her eyes during a storm was a clear sign that subconsciously it still haunted her. All of us had our demons, locked in our minds; tormenting us with the most simplest of things.
My hand wrapped around the railing in a death grip as I made my way downstairs behind the strawberry blonde hair girl. I felt someone’s breath fan my cheek and my hair moved with the warm blow but I ignored it, my mind closing down, unable to react to fear anymore, unable to process the mystic happenings.
The rest of the night, we ended up watching more movies, anything we could find and drinking lots of chocolate milk which ended up with us sprawled on the couch and sleeping out of exhaustion. We both had dark circles the next day but mine were less visible than Cara’s considering the fact that I had gotten used to my sleepless nights. I left her at her house after we both made sure that no storms were to take place in Old Nick’s Lascaux for the week, even as I left, I could see the hesitancy in Cara’s eyes, the slight concern about my well being but I had seen it enough times to learn how to ignore it. It still delivered a pang to my heart but there was no way I was going to drag her into this.
The Orphanage was quiet when I reached, the little kids probably sleeping in for the weekend. I spotted one of the kids in the living room, his face scrunched up into a frown and distaste. He seemed about fifteen, his hair dyed an electric blue color at the tips and a piercing already decorating his face. He looked up when I entered, his eyes swimming with curiosity as he lowered his mobile and gave me an accusing glare. Dread swirled in the pit of my stomach but I ignored it, feeling his gaze on the side of my face.
“You hide weird stuff in your bedroom.” He blurted out, making me freeze; I looked back at him as he stood up. His voice was low, harsh but the tremble clear in it. “There was nothing worth stealing, just some weird documents, y-you freak.”
I felt tongue tied as I stood there, unable to wrap my head around the fact that someone had gotten to the information I had stowed away from prying eyes for their own good. I felt cold and tired, the helplessness already seeping in.
“You sneaked into my bedroom?” I finally spoke, my voice throaty. The kid rolled his eyes and nodded like it was obvious. A surge of anger went through me and I stepped towards him, fear appearing in his blue eyes. The kid had doomed himself and the pity I had for him morphed into anger. They never understood, they never bothered, I tried so hard to make sure nobody got hurt but their interfering nature led them to their end, always. I couldn’t help the venom that dripped from my voice as I inquired why he did it. Venom derived from the anger swirling within, not towards the boy but towards the demons on this earth, those who tried everyday to suck the soul of humanity and succeeded.
“I st-steal and you were the only kid out yesterday night so I t-took advantage of it.” I could see the slight trembling of his hands as he backed away. That’s good, he’s afraid, he knows he messed with something he shouldn’t have. “But you had nothing w-worth stealing and the documents were about a bunch of de-deaths in this messed up town.”
I closed my eyes and clenched my fists, how much had he read? Why couldn’t people just stay away from things that can cause them harm? Why would they walk towards their doom so unknowingly? Why would they just ignore the warnings and cautions placed upon them?
I knew the answer to that; curiosity. But curiosity killed the cat and it would kill them as well. Kill them in the most agonizing way ever. The screams I heard every day were an example of that. And I couldn’t let another scream join those, especially one of another innocent.
“Did you read it all?” I asked, not looking at him now. Fear for him coursing through my veins. Nobody is supposed to find out. Nobody should suffer because of it. It’s my burden to handle. Why can’t they just get that and stay away?
“I read enough.”
I sighed, tiredness seeping into my bones. I had been placed in a similar situation before with David but considering how that ended; I still had no idea what to say to him except to just forget it so I did just that. Without waiting for a reply, I climbed up the stairs. He was a kid; they couldn’t do it to him. He didn’t deserve it. Nobody did.
They did it to you. They did it to David. What do you think will stop them from doing it again?
My mind flooded with those haunting thoughts and I knew I couldn’t take the guilt of another murder because of me. Determination took over and I entered my room, going straight to the drawer to take out the folder. I had nothing to lose and no dignity to care for so I clung to the sliver of hope I had.
“I know you’re listening so I’m begging you to not do anything to him. He read this all but he’s a kid. He won’t do anything. He can’t. He isn’t a part of this.” My chest clenched, a sob building up but I pushed it down and let the anger bubble up inside of me. I threw the folder on the floor feeling like a kid throwing a tantrum but I had to make them listen, I had to try. “Not like I am supposed to be. So please!”
Those two words floated into my mind like a hiss before the pain exploded. I let out a scream, my hands pressed against my temples. The searing hot pain making me fall back on the bed, arching my back as another scream escaped me.
We are not here to please you,
He chose his path, his destiny, his death.
I turned, opening my eyes to see the cloaked figures surrounding me; the same ones from my dreams. But the tears turned them into blurred dark silhouettes. My bones felt like someone was beating them repeatedly with a hammer, shaking me to my core.
“You can’t just take an innocent life!” I yelled out through clenched teeth, arching my back once more as another flash of pain blinded me, making my whole body shudder with pain. A chilling chorus of laughter floated into my ears.
Your pleading is in vain,
Your actions no help,
We will do what is needed.
I don’t know how long the pain lasted for but when it finally receded, my pillow was wet, my body shivering covered in sheen of cold sweat. The only sign that remained of the tremulous incident was the present dull head ache and the absolute tiredness of my whole being. I felt drained, staring at the ceiling; the rays of afternoon sunshine making the white ceiling have a golden-brown tint.
The ceiling slowly changed colors as sunset approached. A slight weight dropped onto my chest and terror made me curl up into a fetal position. I couldn’t take anymore for the night, I couldn’t take anymore for the rest of my life but that was a fool’s thought. I was cursed into this life, destined for this torture even before I arrived onto this earth. The edge of something collided with my chin and I looked down to see the folder, slightly bended due to my curled up position.
I straightened up and the folder slid down, onto the bed. I looked around to see my room empty; the sun rays the only source of light in the room. The wind blew in from the open window, the curtains wavering like grey flags. I got up, my legs wobbling and I unknowingly winced as I recounted the anguish I had felt to the core of my bones.
The shadows in the room mocked me as my eyes strayed from one to another, looking for any signs of movement. Walking hesitantly towards the light switch, my shoes clad feet felt sweaty along with my fisted hands. I inspected the room meticulously, feeling goose bumps rise all over my body as I flipped the switch and the light bulb flickered before white flooded the room.
The sudden bang of the window shutting resonated throughout the room, making me jump in my position as I turned back, facing the window and the bed. My heart beat considerably decreased as I examined every inch of the room and I stepped towards the window, my feet thudding on the floor. Looking out, I noticed nothing out of the ordinary, the sun slowly disappearing, sending its rays over the swaying enormous trees. The sound of turning pages floated to my ears and I looked at my bed to see the folder opened at one specific account. When I grabbed it off the bed, I immediately recognized the printed newspaper article I had found, one of the several evidence pieces that had helped me figure out the trap I was being prepared for. But the purpose of it still remained a mystery; one I think could only be solved after they did to me what they had planned to do so from the beginning.
It was dated 27th June 1996 and the headline read “College Student Electrocutes herself.” The picture below it showed a girl in her early twenties. It was a picture of her smiling, her dark curls circling her chocolate colored round face; her eyes sparkling yet I could sense the horror swimming underneath them. She had been another pawn. Like me.
The body of 23 year old College student, Freema Owen was found yesterday on 26th June. It seemed Ms. Owen had electrocuted herself; she was found sitting in a tub of water with a live wire held between her hands.
She had been missing from her classes for quite some days and her friends had gone in search for her. Although it has been deemed as a suicide by the police, her friends and family members are adamant to believe it was a murder or accident. But due to the high amount of evidence collected, it is a clear proven fact that Ms. Owen had been suffering from suicidal tendencies which had led to this horrifying tragedy.
I stopped reading, the information refreshed in my mind. I knew all the information present in the folder by heart yet re-reading it never failed to give me shivers. I stood up, closing the folder and hugging it to my body as I once again went to stand in front of the window, this time, opening it to let in the breeze in order to calm my nerves.
After a while, I got my headphones out and plugged them in, whilst grabbing one of the books Cara had let me borrow. I could have pondered over everything in my life but I had gotten tired of it, it led to nothing but a headache and frustration which usually ended up in me crying. I was losing control of my life and I didn’t know how to stop it, but I could pause it all for a while and indulge into a world where I was invisible, where the girl got the hot guy and lived her life like any normal person would.
I even read the books Cara had labeled as utterly boring but I couldn’t help it, I just needed any and everything to let me feel imperceptible for a while; to feel the emotions of those characters and live their life instead of living my own.
And the music helped with that, it was my only break from Old Nick’s Lascaux and its bitter history which served a part in my fate. My eyes traced the printed words, the descriptions making it easy for me to imagine the scene and the main girl.
I was close to an important part, my whole concentration on the book when a knock on my door brought me back to the reality. Standing up from the bed, I stretched myself, taking out the headphones that had stopped blaring music a while ago. The kid from downstairs stood in front of me when I opened the door, his face a picture of boredom. I questioned his presence but instead of answering me, he started walking towards the staircase not bothering to glance back at me. Feeling confused by his actions, I turned back to the book but his voice made me stop.
“Mrs. D’onofrio wants everyone to join her for dinner, especially you.” His words carried a weird note, which wasn’t surprising as Mrs. D’onofrio had never been one to socialize with us ‘poor’ kids. I knew the kid had left when his footfalls on the stairs slowly faded away. For a minute, I contemplated whether to stay or go but not wanting anything else to go wrong, I convinced myself I could handle one awkward silent dinner so down I went, greeted by the faces of the other unhappy orphans.
Spotting the only empty chair, I blew through my lips in frustration; it was right beside none other than Axel Merlyn. Grudgingly I made my way towards the seat, making sure not to look at Axel who was too busy signing something to Ariel but by his clenched fist and jaw, I knew he was aware of my presence. Taking the seat, I let out an awkward cough, feeling the gaze of Mrs. D’onofrio on the side of my face which triggered the rest of the kids to also stare at me like I was some circus clown with the exception of the kid who had called me down and the Merlyn twins.
Keeping my own eyes on the table, I reached for the first dish in sight, my hand trembling. The spoon clanged against the dish and that broke the spell as everyone quickly began to pour food in their own plates. Mentally, I sighed in relief but it was cut short when I felt the dreaded cold breath on the back of my neck, as if they were mocking me. My hands curled into fists and I squeezed my eyes shut, taking in a deep breath. I jumped slightly when someone’s leg brushed up against mine and my eyes popped open to look at Axel who had his usual poker face on. My eyebrows furrowed in confusion but I didn’t move away, slightly blushing at how my train of thought had so easily been interrupted by him. Letting out a shaky breath, I continued eating, my eyes straying to his face every once in a while even though his eyes never turned once to meet my own.
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