Day One, Part Two
“Lex?” I clap my hands over my mouth, freaking out and horrified. Lex can’t be dead. No, she can’t be. Not when she was completely fine, mere hours ago. “Lex!” My heart sinks when my friend doesn’t respond.
Kenzie tugs at my arm. “Adalia?” she says, nerves in her tone. “Alia, is Lex okay?” My eyes fill with tears at her innocently concerned expression. I can’t help it - I cannot tell the truth, not to a nine-year-old.
“Yeah, Kenz. She’ll be fine.” I console her, then add, “But she needs some alone time, so can you run upstairs and play?” When she hesitates, I say “You can borrow my Switch.”
“Okay.” Gloriously obedient, Kenzie takes the stairs by twos, running to my room to grab my Switch. I hear my door creak open, then closed, but Kenz doesn’t leave my room. She must’ve gotten comfortable on my bed, I think. Wonderful.
I look at Lex - what’s left of her - and fight the urge to throw up. As much as I’d like to pretend otherwise, I’m pretty sure that Lex is...
I make it to the bathroom just in time to puke my guts out. Afterwards, I cry, losing my veneer of confidence and intelligence in this horrifying situation. Tears course down my face, probably smearing my makeup. But I don’t care. Nothing matters except the fact that there’s a possibly-contagious dead body slumped across my dining room table. I scream into a towel, letting go of all my terror and helplessness into the cloth. Hopefully my sister can’t hear me. “Mom, what do I do?” I whisper-cry.
And I can’t help it, but I really need to curse right now, even though my mother says that cursing is unnecessary and gross. Plus, my cinnamon roll sister is in the house. Okay, then... I’ll turn my curses into something beautiful, Mom. ❁. I wish you were here.
❁, ❁, ❁.
I poke my head up out of my towel, which is now very wet with my salty tears. Blearily, I look out the window, where a crescent moon shines its light upon the Earth. The sky is dark, lit only by the moon and the few stars that we can see. It’s late...how late? How long have I been sitting here?
❁, my sister.
I jolt out of my horror-induced trance to check on Kenzie. No use moping in the bathroom, that doesn’t fix anything. That doesn’t make it so that Lex is alive. That doesn’t bring my parents home.
I push open the bathroom door hesitantly, because something in the air feels wrong.
It’s quiet, but I guess that’s too be expected when the house is occupied by a body, a nine-year-old in a video game trance, and a post-depressed teenager. Once I’m out of the bathroom, I make a beeline for the stairs. I don’t go anywhere near the living room or the dining room or the kitchen. No way in ❁ would I ever go there with Lex still...here. Instead, I creep up the stairs.
But then my ears prick up. What is that sound? A low rumble is coming from somewhere. It isn’t continuous, with its sudden stops and starts. The sound puts me on edge. I walk faster.
The rumble gets more distinct, and it almost sounds like a growl. My heart drops into my feet. Sounds like a horror movie, I think, trying to amuse myself amidst all this. To my desperate horror, the ragged growls get louder. I gulp, forcing myself not to throw up again. That would suck (is that a curse?), but doesn’t all of this?
I’m finally at the top of the stairs, and I grip the railing overlooking the floor below. I don’t see the source of the growling, but I know that it’s down there. The thing making all the noise stops growling to cough violently. Its mismatched footsteps grow louder and start to fall with more force. It’s coming closer. It’s coming for me.
Terrified, I dumbly stay rooted to the spot. I know that I should be with Kenzie, the door safely locked between us and it. But no, I’m here, and I don’t feel like that’s going to change anytime soon.
I retract that statement when it finally comes around the corner. The monster has human features, but in a twisted and aged way. Its grotesquely-shaped face is grey, but a dark red liquid drips from its nose and a cut on its forehead. Blood? Its hair, which might have been blonde and a couple inches longer than shoulder length, is matted and coated in a crusty substance. But its eyes are the most disturbing part of the whole being. The pupils have faded into a dull red color, and the whites have been replaced with an muted gold. My eyes survey the rest of the creature, which I notice is wearing clothes? They look all too familiar...
My breath catches. Those are Lex’s clothes.
The monster is none other than my middle school best friend.
Lex-Creature lunges at me. “Lex!” I cry. “You’re alive!” But is she? I immediately realize that I need to get away from her. Something’s wrong. Something is very wrong. There’s bloodlust in Lex-Creature’s eyes, and I stumble backwards. Tripping open an open door, I find my salvation.
I sit on my aching butt in my bedroom.
I slam the door shut, screaming. Luckily, Lex-Creature doesn’t make it into my room. More tears follow dried tracks down my face as I sit up enough to flip the lock on the door. I lie back down. Safe.
“Alia?” My sister lies curled on my bed, sobbing silently with the abandoned Switch lying next to her. ❁. I forgot Kenzie, again. My heart throbs and I join her, wrapping her tightly in my arms. Kenzie shakes in tears, and I whisper reassurances to her. She must’ve seen Lex. The door must’ve been open enough for her to see that horrifying, nightmare-inducing image of my former friend. And I couldn’t be there for her - I was frozen on the stairwell.
“It’s okay, honey,” I murmur, crying with her. I look behind us and squint at the doorknob. Locked. “It’s okay.”