The Journal of James Oaklund

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I've been sitting here for a long time, trying to gather my thoughts...Trying to figure out how to put my feelings to words, where to even begin to describe what happened...I don't think I know, even now, even after hours of deliberation. I'll walk through the day, I think. Start with how it started, and end where it ended. That makes sense, right? Yeah...Yeah.

I awoke to the sound of birds chirping outside my window, one of them occasionally tapping his beak lightly on the glass as though confused about the nature of it. I couldn't tell what kind of bird it was, I'm no expert, but he had very pretty blue-grey feathers. I set about preparing breakfast, cooking up a few eggs into an omelet. I suppose there's some kind of irony in that, in hindsight. Heh.

After breakfast, I got dressed, threw on my shoes, and went to the closet by the stairs to retrieve my pistol. It was a Beretta, Model 92. It used to be my dad's, ever since he bought one off of some guy on his trip to Italy, around '76, maybe '77. I'm pretty sure it was the exact moment I reached for the box that Ben called me. I usually kept my phone on silent, since the vibrations it gave off were strong enough for me to notice it without fail and I found ringtones annoying.

"Hey, doc. Need something?"

"Oh, thank heavens you answered, James. I'm worried about our mutual friend, Amy. You see, she hasn't been responding to any of my attempts to contact her. She said some very worrying things last night, and I'm terribly concerned she may have done something...Unwise. You know where she lives, correct? Could you please check on her and call me back once you've made absolutely sure that she's alright?"

"...Sure, yeah. I'll head over right now."

God, even writing about it is making my blood boil...But I'm getting ahead of myself.

"Splendid! I do dearly hope she's in good health...She's one of my three favorite patients."

I mumbled something in agreement and hung up, a strangely ominous feeling starting to loom over me. I decided to leave the gun here; she likely wouldn't appreciate me showing up with one, I figured.

I hopped on the next bus to her block, and rode in silence. I didn't even find my thoughts wandering as they so often did; I just sat, and stared out the window without truly looking. That feeling was getting worse and worse as I neared her house, though I didn't know why. For all intents and purposes, I had nothing to worry about; I thought I knew Amaryllis, and she didn't seem the type to do something drastic.

When I got off the bus, it had just begun to rain, the droplets falling in a light drizzle. Almost like a falling mist, in retrospect. I let myself in to the apartment lobby and walked over to the old, shabby elevators, permeated with the faintest scent of mold. I pressed the button for Amy's place; the third floor. The elevator trundled up the two stories at a painful, plodding pace, slower than molasses...Or maybe it just felt that way because of the well of dread that now sat deep in my core.

When I got to her door, I knocked a couple times. There was no response. I knocked again, and called out to her. I didn't hear anything, just my own breathing, which I'd just noticed was beginning to speed up. I did my best to calm myself, running a hand through my hair and sighing before knocking once more, as loudly as I could. Surely she would hear me if I banged my fist on the door three times in quick succession. No response, but I did manage to knock the spare key loose from its hiding spot atop the door jam. I took it in hands that I only now realized were beginning to tremble and forced myself to stick it in the lock, that shadow of dread throughout my whole body wrapping its cold, dark tendrils around my heart and causing me to break out into a similarly chilly sweat.

I pushed the door open and stepped inside, not knowing at all what to expect. The home looked neat and tidy; everything was exactly where it was when I'd left the other day. Mittens was asleep on the couch, bless him. I called out to Amy a few more times, and again, received no response. From the living room, you could turn left to reach a fork where the bathroom door and the door to Amy's bedroom sat, and you could turn right to head into the kitchen/dining room. I walked up to her bedroom door, that cold sweat which had broken out all over me only seeming to get colder, and held a shaking, trembling hand up to the knob.

When I first pushed her bedroom door open, I found myself met with resistance. It didn't apply a great deal of force, so I was able to shove it open, but then I realized what it was that was holding the door shut; a massive tangle of thorn-covered vines, bearing blooming white roses with blood-red markings. It was about up to the shin, and felt like a twisted, gnarled ocean of horrific flowers.

What was worse was the sight on the bed.

I saw Amaryllis laying still on the mattress, her wrists slit in a horrifically long, vertical gash on each arm, with those gnarled, tangling vines creeping up her limbs. It was so shocking I couldn't actually believe or process what I was seeing at first, but as the reality of what had happened settled in, I found myself gripped with a mixture of horror, sadness, and frustration.

It took me a while to hack my way through the tangled vines using the sharpest thing I could find-a kitchen knife-but I did eventually make it to the side of her bed. I had called the police as well when I'd gone searching for the knife. When I got to her bedside, I think it really, truly started to hit me that she was dead.

I mean, I knew she was, I'd known for a while now, but I was so shocked by it all I don't think it had really processed until this exact moment. I can't get the image of her face out of my mind. She looked...Tranquil. Blissful, even. Like she didn't have a care or a worry in the whole wide world at the moment of her demise. I suppose I'm happy her face froze forever in such a relaxed expression; seeing her lying dead with a look of agony would have been even more horrifying, I think.

I looked around the bed at the bedside table where her lamp sat, and it seemed like she'd dropped the knife on the table after doing the deed. Weirdly, it was almost like she'd taken the time to lay it down gently, as it lay perfectly aligned with the wall on a little white handkerchief. I didn't put the pieces together until later on, but we'll get to that. Don't you worry.

The cops showed up shortly thereafter, as did Ryan. We were on very terse terms, given our argument last night, but I thought he deserved to know what was going on. He took one look at her body and ran to the bathroom to vomit. I can't say I blamed him. After calling for the corpse removal team, Ryan made sure that the funeral expenses and cremation costs would be covered by his family. They'd all known and loved Amy in life, and were all too happy to handle it. Me and Ryan eventually left, and we stood outside the building as the rain fell gradually harder. He turned to me and, with eyes puffy and red from crying, I turned to him.

"So. Are you still goin' to the lab?"

He asked me with a very blunt, aggressive tone.

"I have to. But...Not today. I need some time to recover from this...I'll go tomorrow."

He just glared at me.

"I hope you understand I can't let you do that. If you show up at the lab tomorrow, I'll be waitin'. I'll fight you if I have to."

I just stared back, shocked.

"After all of this...You're still set on trying to stop me? What the fuck is your deal, man?"

"My fuckin' mom is my deal, okay?! Why don't you understand that?! I waited for years, never knowin' if she was fuckin' dead or not, pretendin' to talk to her while she was a fuckin' vegetable! I'm not about to let you take her away from me because you've got some kinda sick, stupid fuckin' hero complex! Go home, James, and for your own good, stay there."

With that, he walked off through the rain, hopped in his beloved blue mustang, and sped off down the road. The downpour acted like a dense grey curtain, obscuring him completely once he got far enough down the road. I just shuffled over to the bus stop and caught a ride home, sitting in a puddle of my own guilt, dread, and sadness. Well, probably a puddle of rainwater, too.

When I got home, I spent a good couple hours crying my eyes out. I'd already done some sobbing back at Amy's place, once the initial adrenaline rush of fear had worn off, but I tried to compose myself around the cops and especially Ryan.

I, at some point, clambered into bed, though I had no memory of how I got there. A lot of this evening was a blur. But I laid there, wide awake, for hours. I think it's something like 3am right now, but I can't be sure.

It took me some puzzling out, but I think I know what happened. The biggest giveaway had to be the flowers. Amaryllis had told me they grew around places where the doc had changed something, and her deciding to off herself...Well, let's just say it's a far cry from the Amaryllis I knew. Or, at least, thought I knew, I guess.

The knife still kind of confuses me, to be honest, but I think it's kind of irrelevant. Either he set it like that, or he made Amy do it; both are likely I guess, but the former strikes me as more so. He's a huge clean freak, I saw it back at the lab; every surface was completely spotless and white. You can't pull that off without being at least a little obsessive.

That's my best guess as to why, anyways.

I think I've spent a little too long just letting my thoughts go, though...This entry's getting a bit long in the tooth. I'm going to the lab tomorrow. I'm not letting that fucker go easily, not after making my best friend disappear and then forcing her imposter to kill herself. I don't want to hurt Ryan...But if he gets in my way, I might not have a choice.

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