I entered the Golden Gate Valley Library at noon. It wasn’t the closest to Victoria’s home, but it had been close to where I lived with Mom and Dad all those years ago. When I was little Mom and I would go to the storytimes then go out for ice cream after school before Dad got home.
I settled down at one of the tables. I had been working on a research project my biology teacher had assigned before leaving for the summer. He’d wanted me to look into vaccines, how the right dose of the illness could make someone immune to it later. I pulled out my notebook and my laptop. I didn’t need to come to the library to get the work done, I could do it at home, but today Pam had invited her friends for a sleepover and there was no way I could anything done with twelve-year-old girls shrieking all afternoon.
A man sat across from me with a newspaper. I couldn’t help glancing up at it as I waited for my computer to turn on. I blinked twice, squinting at the paper.
There were three photos in a corner in black and white. Three girls with the same faces. They were in the missing people’s section. There were a few words written under their photos but I couldn’t read them. I peered closer, the man folded his newspaper slowly slapping his lips together. He picked himself up and walked off. I watched as he left the library taking his newspaper with him. I got up leaning over to see if he was going to throw it in the crash somewhere.
“Damn,” I swore when he got out of my view. I slumped back down in my chair scowling.
“Can I help you?” I glanced up at the librarian holding a pile of books in one hand. She smiled at me.
“Uh, I don’t know. I’m doing some research on vaccines. Would you have anything in that area?” I asked. She hesitated then nodded.
“I think I might have something over here,” she led me to the non-fiction part of the library. “ Everything from this shelf to that one is medical. Are you a student? These are for students,” she pointed out a section full of textbooks.
“That is great thanks!"
She nodded and moved off quickly. I scanned through the books slowly. There was a lot of interesting-looking ones, but I only chose three. I took them to the take-out desk and used my new card. The women smiled again.
I walked back to my desk slowly. I was stopped by the sound of a girl laughing. I turned a corner to see them. Three young women, the same face. In the sunlight, they looked younger than they had on the beach.
One of the black-haired girls was sitting down at my table, probably because it was the only one that was free. Next to her, the white hair one sat down staring up at the ceiling roses wide-eyed. The last black-haired girl sat down heavily glaring. The first sister laughed again.
I moved around the aisles trying to get a better view of them. They looked my age, maybe a little younger, but not that much. They were identical yet they looked so different. They were all the same size and had the same snow-white skin and shiny black eyes. The first one, the one who was glaring had very long curly black hair. She wore black clothes, black jeans and a black tank top with big black shoes.
The next one, the laughing one, had the same hair, curlier perhaps. She tipped her head to one side gazing at my laptop and notebook curiously. Her black eyes caught the light and glimmered. She smiled baring straight white teeth. Her clothes were flashy, bright pink skirt and a vivid green shirt that was cut low on her white chest. She wore a small pair of green shoes and big pink earrings. She looked like an assembly of highlights.
I turned my head slightly ducking between books to see the last one. She was identical, the same small nose, the same full pink lips, the same sharp cheekbones as her sisters yet she looked different. Her eyes were stubborn black but in the light, they twinkled almost blue. Her hair was white, very long, hanging straight down her back. It glistened with silver streaks. She wore loose blue jeans and a dark blue flowery top with a low neckline. I half expected to see two large white wings coming out of her back. She had been the one who looked like a star, the one the man had almost killed.
“Medicine,” the colourful one said slowly gazing at my book. She grinned at her sisters. “Like James. He was a scientist,” I realized with a jolt that I was in perfect earshot.
“I’m not sure it’s the same thing,” the gothic one replied.
“But it can’t be much different. Maybe I could be a doctor!” the colourful one exclaimed happily. The girl with white hair snapped up glaring at her.
“Don’t you dare,” she growled. Her voice was different from her sister’s it was more fierce yet so much more gentle. I stared at her in surprise. The colourful one rolled her eyes.
“I could do good.”
“Still, I think Eris might be right. Doctors can be very bad people. You should know,” the gothic girl replied shrugged. “Why are we here again? There were closer libraries.”
“This one’s got fewer people,” the white-haired girl said quietly.
"It’s sweet! And we need to think about this seriously. We need to get an education if we expect to live here. We need to go to high school,” the colourful one answered.
“Connie, we can barely read,” the white-haired girl replied darkly.
“So we learn this summer!” the colourful one replied.
“Why can’t we keep living as we do now?” the goth groaned.
“Because it’s not moral!” the colourful one answered arching her brows.
“And someone is bound to notice us one day,” the white-haired girl continued.
“I don’t know if we can sign up for high school without an adult, they’d ask too many questions,” the gothic one said. She sighed and looked up in my direction, I grabbed the first book on the shelf in front of me and pretended to read it. I could feel her eyes on me, then her voice in a whisper. I couldn’t quite make it out.
When I looked up again they were all staring at me with their hard black eyes. I stared back. Something flashed in the white-haired girl’s eyes. The colourful one squeezed her arm and the flashing stopped. I quickly walked around the aisle knowing I had broken my cover. They watched me advancing towards them. The white-haired girl glared at me with hostile eyes, the gothic girl seemed annoyed and the third one looked curious.
“I’m sorry,” I apologized reaching for my laptop on the table. The gothic girl and the white-haired one both move out of my grasp but the colourful one pushed my notebook towards me.
“These are yours?” she asked. I nodded picking them up.
“Yeah, I just left to look at uh some books,” I replied gazing at the sisters. There was something about their symmetrical faces, the soft arching of their brows, the long dark lashes against their snow-white complexion. The white-haired girl especially, there was a power in her intensity. She wasn’t looking at me though, her head was turned, facing the window. Her silvery hair sparkled in the sunlight.
“Funny. You were reading about puppies then,” the colourful one continued pointing to the book I still had in my hand, the one I had picked up and pretended to read. I blushed.
“Oh, it’s for my cousin. She uh wants a puppy,” I answered quickly.
“Right. And you want to be a doctor,” the colourful one mused. I noticed the white-headed girl stiffen. I nodded running my hand through my hair.
“Yeah, since I was very little.”
“So,” I hesitated, putting my books down on the table. I pursed my lips. My mind was spinning. There was something mysterious about the beautiful triplets sitting in front of me. Something hidden, that I wanted to bring to light. “Did you guys know that the police are looking for you?” I asked. The gothic girl peered at me curiously, the colourful one gazed at me and blinked once.
“No,” the colourful one answered slowly. “They’re looking for us?”
“In the missing people’s section,” I smiled slightly, a flash of concern showed on the colourful one’s face.
“Just missing?” she asked cautiously. I could tell the white-haired girl was listening attentively but she was still looking away. The gothic girl looked worried, she was biting down on her bottom lip.
“I think so. There was something written under your photos, but I could read it from where I was sitting,” I smiled.
“So, did you run away from home?” I asked sitting down next to the colourful one.
“No, of course not!” she replied too quickly. She glanced at her sisters. “We’re on vacation.”
“So, then why are the police looking for you?” I pressed. She blushed and shrugged slowly.
“Maybe, because, our father is looking for us…” she trailed off.
“So you’re here with your Mom?” I asked. They were silent. My mind spun with options, these girls didn't have a normal upbringing, that's for sure. Not knowing how to read at their age. I watched them, their expressions, I couldn't imagine their childhood. The colourful one pursed her lips and bowed her head. They looked uncomfortable. The white-haired one shifted her position, pointedly looking away from me.
“Is it because of what you saw?” I asked. Her head snapped up as her sisters turned to face me wide-eyed.
“What?” the gothic girl gasped.
“A few nights ago, at the beach. I was there. I saw that guy, he killed the other women then killed himself, in front of you,” I was starting at the white-haired girl. She stared back at me wide-eyed, the blue in her glinted.
“You, were there?” she gasped. I nodded.
“Did you tell anyone anything?” the colourful one demanded. I glanced at her in surprise.
“Well, yeah of course. I called the police…” I trailed off staring at the horrified expression on their faces. “What happened that night?” I asked.
“Exactly what you saw,” the gothic girl replied. “We were walking on the beach when we saw a man killing two women, then he killed himself, then we ran away.”
“Why didn’t you call 911?”
“911?” the colourful one looked curious.
“The police,” I frowned slightly. “You are runaways aren’t you?” they were quiet.
“We’re fine,” the gothic girl murmured.
“Why don’t you give me one good reason not to bring you to the police now?” I said. They obviously needed help, but I wasn't going to involve the police if they were afraid of them, perhaps they didn't want to go home, for a good reason.
The white-haired girl got up suddenly glaring at me, her eyes were flashing, the whites disappearing turned the whole eyes black, then flashing back to normal.
“Eris!” the gothic girl suddenly shouting jumping on her sister. The colourful one jumped up as well looking around, people were starting to stare. The white-haired girl gasped and turned her head. I looked to see where she was staring. In the corner of the library, an older man dropped to the ground without his head. It rolled a few feet away from him.
There was a bloodcurdling scream then everyone was swarming towards the entry. They pushed past us crying and screaming. Children were ripped from their reading corners and carried away.
Instinctively I grabbed the colourful girls hand.
“Run!” I shouted. She gasped looking up at me, then she was running. Dragging me behind. The white-haired girl ran ahead of us, holding her head in her hands. The gothic girl was right beside her, eyed wide.
I ran. I ran fast. The crowd ripped me away from the colourful one’s grasp, she called after me, her eyes wide. I tried to turn back but the throng of people pushed me in the other direction. I heard shouts of a murderer. I heard police sirens in the distance.
I ran down the hill to the ocean and stopped running when the water touched my toes. My breath came fast. I sat down, my head in my hands. Those girls, they had been just as scared as me, just as wide-eyed. It had been twice for them as well.
Who were they?