The group was gathered in the cafeteria waiting for this hellish night to be over when a shriek ripped through the empty halls.
“What the fuck was that?” Duke asked.
“But-but- we’re all here,” Cristiana said shining a flashlight on all the faces around her.
“It’s the killer,” Veronica said her voice shaky. In the dark she grabbed her brother Colin’s hand and squeezed it tightly.
“But I killed Matteo,” Ashley protested.
“It’s whoever killed Nani,” Elias said quietly.
“Who cares? What’s happening to us? What do we do?” Jordan asked.
“We could go find them and beat the shit out of them. Maybe they even have a phone,” Mickey proposed.
“I think it’s safer if we stay here,” Cristiana pointed out.
“That was a scream, did someone attack them?” Riley asked.
“Ugh I can’t take this wondering. Let’s just go,” Jackson said standing. Other students followed his lead and stood.
They wandered the school aimlessly until their flashlights landed on small red specks on the floor. They followed the trail silently before the specks turned to smears going underneath a double doors, the entrance to the gym. On the other side of the door lights flickered.
Hesitantly the door were pushed open and the flickering lights and flashlights shined upon a sight worse than the others seen that night.
Matteo and Nani’s bodies had been moved.
Nani’s body lay sideways and her feet where at Matteo’s head. Together their bodies formed a horizontal line. Their blood had been spread across the floor covering the Crestwell High logo to form a shape like a head and tail. Altogether they formed a bigger picture. A phoenix.
“Uprise...” Cristiana breathed. Elias didn’t say anything but tears fell from his eyes as he slowly stepped closer and closer to what was best friend.
“But... They couldn’t have screamed. And they couldn’t moved themselves here,” Jordan said.
“Unless this is still part of that sick game of yours,” Colin pointed out.
Mickey grabbed him by the collar. “Get over it and get with reality! Who gives a shit about that stupid prank when people are actually dead and our lives out in actual danger? Stop worrying about the prank and comfort your little sister!” She shoved him away. “Fuck you! Fuck this! Fuck everything! Everything has gone to shit!”
“Let’s go smash some windows or something,” Duke interrupted.
“Let’s split into two groups and break anything we can,” Cristiana suggested.
They quickly split into two groups:
Ashley, Mickey, Cristiana, Colin, and Veronica.
Riley, Jackson, Jordan, Elias and Duke.
Both groups set off to cover a floor the first group took on the second floor the second group tackled the first. They set off looking for a spot which would be an easy way down after breaking a window.
“I-I- I uh, never mind...” Jordan said as he, Duke and Riley walked ahead of the other two in the their group.
“What?” Riley asked him.
“Well um,” Jordan started. “I know I have only been at this school for about a year so can I just ask who’s Jared? The guy Cristiana mentioned got arrested?”
Duke bit his tongue debating answering the question. He opened and closed his mouth a couple times before he spoke. “Her older brother,” he said finally. “He tried to get out of the gang Uprise and it turned bad. He spent three years in prison. He got out last month.”
“May I ask you something now?”
“What was that prank they were talking about?”
Jordan sighed and ran a hand through his hair. “Basically this prank got pulled but it went wrong and it resulted in a girl getting hit in the head with a board or something and cracking her skull. I don’t even know the whole story. All I know is it somehow got traced back to me and no matter what I did they didn’t believe me. So after a week of being yelled at by people to tell truth I told them the truth they wanted. That I had done it. Then I was expelled and basically blacklisted from the other private schools in the area.”
“Damn. I bet you regret admitting to that now.”
“Not exactly,” Jordan admitted. “Here I can be myself. Yes I do come early wearing the preppy stuff which is picked out for me then change my clothes when I get here, but at least here I have friends. Well friend since Matteo is...” He trailed off staring at the floor. Duke clapped on the back comfortingly while Riley on the other hand didn’t do anything thinking about the conversation he had had with Matteo earlier.
The group continued walking when Elias noticed Jackson has paused to stare out at the falling snow. “You okay?”
“No,” Jackson answered honestly. “No I’m not. But my problems aren’t important. What is important, is getting out of here.”
“They are still important,” Elias told him as they two began to walk to catch up with the other three members of their group.
“You lost your best friend. I doubt my problems matter.”
“Perhaps your problems will get my mind off of mine and then you might feel better.”
Jackson sighed. “My mom was killed saving a boy’s life eleven years ago. She was hit by a car. Only one person survived that whole crash not including the boy my mom saved. That one person blames themselves for the whole crash...” He trailed off staring ahead at Riley who was saying something to Duke. “That person also doesn’t know that the two crashes which changed our lives are the same.”
Elias followed Jackson’s gaze. “Why don’t you tell him?”
Jackson shook his head. “He already blamed himself. I don’t want him to blame himself more. My life is okay now. I was adopted and my family is okay. I just- I just don’t need him to feel even worse.”
“Uprise... I thought I was done dealing with them,” Cristiana said quietly.
“We all did,” Veronica sighed pulling her friend into a hug.
“You know I was there that night.”
“I was there when Jared was arrested... I followed him... He saw me too.”
“You never told me that.”
“I never told anyone. Neither did he. All so I wouldn’t get into trouble too.”
“Why would Uprise come back now?” Mickey asked quietly. “And why us?”
“To ruin our lives more of course,” Ashley answered pulling her sister in a rare hug. “Isn’t that what they do?”
“Wait! I don’t think we checked in here yet?”
“The rest of the group is moving ahead.”
“There’s three of them. Just cover me for long enough for me to look if someone is in here.”
“I really don’t think- hey get out of there!” One student hissed at the other. A sharp intake of breath met their ears. After taking a deep breath they too headed in. “Where’d you’d go?” They asked shining the flashlight around.
They gave a sigh of relief. They shined the flashlight in the direction of the voice and froze. “W-what are you doing?”
“I’m sorry,” a shaky voice responded.
“Just put it down. Please. Just put the gun down alright. I-I won’t even tell anyone.”
“I’m sorry. I have to... As much as she hates me... for some strange reason I love her...”
Before the other student could respond the trigger was pulled. The gun went off three times its bullets landing in the stomach.
A body fell to the ground still writhing in pain not quite yet dead. The killer didn’t bother wiping away the tears that fell as they slowly removed the silencer from the gun and let if fall to floor. The killer’s hand drifted to their pocket where a note sat. They gripped the note tightly as they put the gun to their own temple. Tears falling more furiously now. “I’m sorry... Just when I thought things could go right... I’m sorry. I’m sorry Matteo, I’m sorry Nani.” Eyes turned to the person on the floor, still bleeding, their eyes wide, confused and desperate. “And I’m so so so sorry Colin.”
Colin opened his mouth to shout in protest but the gun had already gone off.