CHAPTER ONE: ARIANA
Me, The Player and the Psycho Killer
Senior year. Finally. One more year in this god forsaken school, and I am free. I can leave and never look back.
Standing in front of Centerville High School, I let out a sigh. The last place I want to be right now is school, but for dad, I have to try. For Lance, I have to try.
My goal for senior year is to keep my head down, be a pretty little wallflower, don’t cause trouble, don’t react to people when they call me names. Important note to self: Do not react and punch someone when said someone comes up and asks me whether I am the psycho killer’s sister. Ignore all comments of your brother being the psycho killer, or comments of you being in a family of killers. Do NOT react.
‘You know, you have to go in sooner or later,’ says my best friend Reyna Jade. Reyna is a redhead with many freckles on her face. Right now, her green eyes are full of annoyance. ‘Just ignore them. If you need help killing a few people, let me know.’
Why is she sticking with me, when everyone believes that my brother, Lancelot Elhart, is the psycho killer in our peaceful town? Why is she still here talking to me, when my brother has caused so much fear in our little town?
Because while Reyna is my best friend, she was also Lancelot’s girlfriend. They had been dating for two months when Lance was suddenly arrested by the sheriff. He has been saying that he didn’t do it, he wasn’t the killer who murdered those children and took their internal organs from their dead bodies - but who would believe him? The family of the victims are out for blood, the whole town wants someone to blame, and then there my brother is. He was friends with the drug dealer’s son, and has a father who was a surgeon, providing a plausible reason for why he knows how to carve out organs like that.
He didn’t. I know he didn’t, even though the sheriff said he could find the DNA and fingerprints of Lancelot in the place where the murder happened and he didn’t have an alibi. At the time the murders occured, he was with Seth, the son of the drug dealer, and also his best friend. No one would believe Seth. Besides, we don’t need the prosecution to start saying he is also a drug dealer.
Reyna and I both know that he has been helping Seth for some time. Seth’s family needs money, and Lancelot, being the loyal friend, volunteered to help. Dad doesn’t know. He is the town surgeon, the town doctor. He won’t approve of it if he knows. Gods know how much he hates Seth.
It’s been three months since Lancelot was arrested. The trial is coming up. Murders as gruesome as these don’t happen in small towns, so now that our peaceful, quiet town isn’t so peaceful and quiet anymore, reporters from all over the USA are all going to be here. Lancelot and I tell anyone who will listen that he didn’t do it. He even told the reporters this, but still, no one would listen, because ‘every murderer ever claims they didn’t do it’.
Lancelot would have been in college now if not for this. He was going to Stanford. He was going to have a bright future. Now, all that was left for him was hushed whispers of ‘the killer’, disgusted glances from people, a trial he probably won’t win, prison, and a bleak, dark future with a criminal record.
This also affects Dad’s business a lot. Fewer and fewer people go to his clinic nowadays. Who would want to see the father of a psycho killer when they are sick? Some people even say that he was a killer as well. They say that the patients he didn’t save were actually people he killed. He is a doctor. Doctors can kill as easily as they cure people. They even say that Dad taught Lance how to kill.
A family of killers.
Reyna and I haven’t lived the best of days as well. We are the psycho killer’s girlfriend and sister. We are just as bad as he was. I don’t even remember how many times I found the threats in our house’s mailbox. I lost my friends because of this. Reyna argued with her parents for it, and since then, she has been living in our house. We let her sleep in Lance’s old room. He isn’t going home anytime soon, but we are willing to believe.
We all cling to the hope that he will come back, even logical dad. This breaks him, and it isn’t any easier for me and Reyna. Still, we need to go on. We need to go to school, and Dad still needs to work, although his patients are few now. If it keeps going on like this, we are going to be broke.
And now, walking into school, we can hear their whispers. ‘Psycho killer’s sister’, ‘his girlfriend’, ‘how dare they show up here’, ‘a family of killers’, ‘murderer’, ‘they probably helped him bury the bodies’. When I walk past my classmate, Brooks, I hear him say to his friend, ‘Too bad her brother is a killer. She is actually a pretty little face. I would want to sleep with her, but who is to say that she won’t stab me?’
His friend laughs. ‘She was always the top student. Let’s see if the teachers are going to favor her now. But if you want to sleep with her, go on. She doesn’t get to choose now, does she?’
Brooks snickers. ‘Right. But I value my life too much. Although I will risk my life for that face and that body…’
I clench my fist. Remember your rule. Don’t punch them. Don’t run after them and punch them. It’s not worth it.
‘Yeah, I will do anything for those boobs.’
That hits a bit close to home. It affects me a lot more than I would like to admit.
Don’t. React. You promised Lancelot you wouldn’t get into trouble because of this. You promised dad he had nothing to worry about, because nothing would happen. Do you want to break their hearts a little bit more? Do you want them any more hurt than they already are?
With that on my mind, I let it go. I won’t hurt them anymore than they already are. We are already a broken family. I am not going to add more on their plates.
If the people expect to see a crazed murderer, they are sorely disappointed because I act normal the entire day. I keep my head down and ignore their harsh whispers. After AP Calculus, Mr. Lee tells me in a low voice that he doesn’t believe Lancelot is a killer. ‘I taught the kid myself,’ he says. ‘He can’t be a murderer. When they interviewed me, I told them as much, but the reporter didn’t print it out on the paper.’
Miss Stone tells me to stay after English Lit. ‘No matter what is happening with your family right now, you can always talk to me about it,’ she says. ‘I don’t know what to think. You, Dr. Elhart, Miss Jade and Lancelot all say that he didn’t do it. Lancelot never confessed, and he always denied it. While I may not know what to think about him, I know you. I know you are a bright and good student. Trust me, some of the teachers may hate Lancelot for what he might or might not have done, but we can all agree that you are a good kid.’
But being the good kid won’t make people believe what I say, because my opinions are biased. Because he is my brother. So they will never believe me. They will just say I am the little sister desperate to protect her brother.
Still, I thank them for it. I am not really concerned about what would happen in lessons. The teachers won’t let it happen. After all, I am still the straight-A girl who has a perfect GPA. No, what I am worried about is lunch.
Reyna and I walk as slow as we can to the cafeteria. We have already heard the whispers. And lunch is the worst place for us now. Still, a girl gotta eat, even if it means facing bullies and possibly being punched in the stomach.
‘I am scared,’ Reyna says. ‘I am not you. The teachers still favor you, because you are Miss Perfect. You have a pretty face. I am the girl that no one likes, the one that causes trouble all the time. I can’t go inside.’
I look at my friend sadly. We don’t have every class together, and even if we are together, they always treat Reyna worse than how they treated me. However, I don’t think it’s because I am little Miss Perfect or because of my looks. I think it has to do with the fact that I am in a family of killers, and there is no guarantee I won’t suddenly stab someone because I want to.
‘Reyna, you want lunch or not?’ I don’t know what to say to comfort her. With a sigh, I walk into the cafeteria head held high. I ignore the scorching glares of students. A girl with black hair steps into my way. Her face is cold with hatred.
‘Your psycho brother killed my cousin,’ she hisses at me. ‘Do you know that?’ I start walking away. ‘Her name was Kendall!’ She shouts after me. ‘She was five years old, and your psychotic, mentally unstable brother killed her! Then carved her open’
I spin around. ‘He didn’t kill anyone,’ I seethe. I am not going to stand this anymore. I will not have people say that my brother is a murderer, when I know he isn’t. I don’t care what I promised dad and Lance. I am not going to let my brother’s name be tainted anymore. They already think I am a psycho killer as well anyway, what’s the harm? Better use that fear to my own advantage. Just as I thought, the girl shrinks back, fear plain on her face. I want to laugh, but at the same time, I feel sad about it. Who knows that we would come from the doctor’s golden children to the family of murderers? ‘My brother didn’t do anything. What proof is there to prove that he killed them, aside from the fingerprints and DNA and the words of a few frightened children who will do anything if pressured enough? He was never there when the murders happened. But none of you will believe him. None of you will believe me because you are so desperate to have someone to blame. And then there my brother is. His fingerprints and DNA were there. He punched a few guys back at school. Those frightened children said they saw a blond young man there that matched Lancelot’s description. An old woman said she saw him with the knife - never mind that Mrs. O’reilly hates my father because he went to university and became a doctor, but her son didn’t. He was never at those places. Clearly he was framed. By who, I don’t know because that person was so careful to not leave any traces behind. But you people won’t believe me. Not before, and certainly not now.’ I laugh. I laugh with all the hollowness and anger and sorrow I have felt this past year. ‘Don’t believe me then. After all, I am the sister of the psycho killer, the sister who may very well turn out to be a murderer one day, the sister who will do anything to protect her brother. Right?’
I walk out of the cafeteria, feeling angry. At myself, for being powerless against the town of people who are thirsty for my brother’s blood. At the person who framed my brother, because Lance was clearly framed. At the people, who just won’t believe me, even though I am telling the truth. But most of all, I hate myself. Why can’t I be older? Why can’t I have done something more? Why did I do nothing when the jury said he was guilty, when they took him away? Why am I so powerless? What use am I, if I can’t protect my brother?
‘Elhart! Elhart, wait!’ I am so lost in my thought that I didn’t hear someone shouting my name. I grit my teeth and turn around, ready to snap again. ‘My brother did not do it, you imbecile!’ I scream in the empty corridor, finally losing it. ‘He is innocent, and you people sent him to jail for it! If you don’t believe me, then why are you still here, asking me if he did it, asking me if I had violent impulses as well?’
Then I see who I am talking to.
Standing in front of me, is the biggest player and heartthrob of Centerville, Randyll Alchenbach. Although I have never really talked to him, I know who he is. First, this is a small town. You don’t just not know someone. Second, his father is a billionaire. His father moved his whole family here six years ago to this town because his wife, Evelyn, is sick and wants to die in the town she spent her childhood in. And since his wife is still here, they are still living here. You don’t just not know a new transfer student - especially when his father built a business empire. Last but not least, that guy is hot. He has black hair that is darker than sin, mysterious ink blue eyes, the looks of a model or a Hollywood star. He is the quarterback and captain of the school soccer team, plays the piano and cello, can sing, and boxes. He is good at sports and everything else, including school. If I am number one in classes, then he is number two. However, he never seems to care much about it. Sure, he is a player, an arrogant a-hole probably, but it all doesn’t matter because he is seriously hot, and incredibly smart. I don’t like anyone at school, but I admire him. A guy that perfect just doesn’t exist.
Wait, he isn’t perfect. He is a player, remember?
‘Are you deaf? I called your name like ten times.’ He rolls his eyes. ‘God, why did I bother.’
‘Ask god then,’ I bite back. I am so confused. Why is someone like him talking to someone like me?
He looks at me curiously. I hate the way he is looking at me - as if I am some kind of animal trapped in the cage in the zoo. I suppose I am like one. And this, dear children, is the psycho killer’s sister, Ariana Elhart. She is just as violent and dangerous as her brother. But don’t worry! You are safe. She is in the cage and can’t come out. If you want, you can pat her head! We won’t let her harm anyone here.
Probably that’s how people here think about me now.
Finally, he says, ‘Your brother’s trial’s coming up, right?’
‘That’s all you have to ask?’ I ask, still feeling suspicious. ‘If you wanted to know that, you just need to check the news.’
He sighs. ‘Look, I don’t bite -’
‘If one more person is going to tell me that I will probably snap and kill someone like my brother did, I am really going to snap and kill someone,’ I mutter.
He sighs again. ‘I didn’t chase you down just to say this to you. Get it past your thick skull, okay?’
‘Then why did you chase me down?’ I ignore the thick skull comment.
He tilts his head. ‘I saw your eyes when you were talking. You really do believe that he is innocent.’
‘Trust me, I am angry at the murderer as well,’ I say darkly. ‘What is done to the children is horrible, and they didn’t deserve it. If there is one percent of chance that my brother is the murderer, I wouldn’t be here defending him, even if he is my brother.’
Randyll just arches a brow. ‘Really?’ I hate his mocking tone.
‘Really,’ I answer in the same mocking tone. Call me childish or petty or a hypocrite, but I won’t stand here being mocked.
He raises his hands. ‘Alright, alright. You want to know why I came over here?’ At my silence, he smirks. Of course I want to know why the player of Centerville High, the king in this high school, would waste his precious lunchtime by chasing down the sister of a hated psycho killer.
‘Taylor, Emily and their little group of popular students are going to prank you today after school at the parking lot,’ he drawls out the words slowly. ‘Something that involves spray painting and bubble wrap.’
I snort. ‘Please don’t tell me they’re going to spray paint the words ‘Psycho killer’ on Reyna’s car.’
‘I think it’s along the line of her being a whore or something like that,’ he shrugs. ‘I don’t really engage myself in childish, meaningless action.’
I am tempted to ask him if sleeping around counts as meaningless action, but I would rather not know about his colourful sex life. ‘Why are you telling me this? I thought you and Emily were… close.’ I choose my words carefully. Everyone knows that Randyll Alchenbach and Emily Preston get on and off. I have heard more than once from the girls in the bathroom about how Randyll at last always goes back to Emily, and Emily, no matter how many boys she slept with, at last she always goes back to Randyll.
Randyll’s lips twitch. ‘Jealous?’ He wriggles his eyebrows.
I just give him an unimpressed look.
‘You are the most boring girl I have ever met,’ he says to me. ‘Do I look like I give a crap about how you see me?’ I snap. ‘You haven’t answered my question. Are you simply here because Emily told you to give me false news? Is this a part of her evil plan?’
I know I am not being very nice to him, but I have my reason for not trusting him. I was once friends with Emily. When Lancelot was first arrested, she called me to her house. Then she told me how much she hates me and my brother, that she was stupid to trust my deranged brother and me, the lying little b--ch. Later, she pranked me, causing me to fall in the river and going home like a wet dog. Emily doesn’t hesitate to express her hatred to me, so yes, I am wary. Who knows what the queen bee here will do to me?
‘I wasn’t going to tell you,’ he says, ‘but then I heard your speech. That’s all. You can believe me, or don’t. I don’t care either way, I’m just here because I want to help.’
‘Well then, thanks,’ I say. He doesn’t say anything before walking away.