I entered the Golden Gate Valley library late in the afternoon. The sun was setting over the ocean and casting the city in a dark orange glow. The library 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 story times then go out for ice cream after school before Dad got home. It was painted white and decorated in bands across the top. There were lion heads, roses, and a ton of what I always insisted looked like salad leaves. They were carved into the exterior of the building, Mom would tell me it looked like the ancient churches in France and Italy.
It was essentially one great room with different sections. There were dark wooden shelves lining every wall, great arching windows, a very high ceiling decorated with ceiling roses.
I settled down at one of the tables. I had been given a research project by my biology teacher 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 tonight Pam had invited her friends for a sleepover and there was no way I could anything done with twelve year old girls shrieking all night.
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. There were three photos in a corner in black and white. Three girls with exactly the same faces. They were in the missing people’s section. Had they been kidnapped the other night? 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 the man 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 book 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?” she hesitated then nodded.
“ I think I might have something over here,” she lead 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,” I grinned.
“ That is great thanks,” she nodded and moved off quickly. I scanned through the books slowly. There was a lot of interesting looking books, 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. Those three girls! 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. I guessed she was kinda gothic. I recognized her from the night before, she was the one standing still.
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 small pink lips as her sisters yet she looked different. Her eyes were stubborn black but in the light they twinkled. 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 colorful 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 girl replied.
“ But it can’t be much different. Maybe I could be a doctor!” the colorful 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 colorful 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 less 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 colorful one answered.
“ Connie, we can barley read,” the white haired girl replied darkly.
“ So we learn this summer!” the colorful one replied.
“ Why can’t we keep living like we do now?” the goth groaned.
“ Because it’s not moral!” the colorful 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 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 colorful 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 plainly 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 colorful 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. They were just so beautiful, especially the white headed girl. 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 colorful 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,” I noticed the white headed girl stiffen. I nodded running my hand through my hair.
“ Yeah, since I was very little.”
“ I see.”
“ So,” I hesitated putting my books down on the table. I pursed my lips. “ Did you guys know that the police are looking for you?” I asked curiously, the gothic girl peered at me curiously, the colorful one gazed at me and blinked once.
“ No,” the colorful one answered slowly. “ They’re looking for us?”
“ In the missing people’s part,” I smiled slightly, a flash of concern showed on the colorful 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 as well 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 colorful one.
“ No, of course not!” she replied too quickly. She glanced at her sisters. “We’re on holidays.”
“ So, then why are the police looking for you?” she shrugged slowly.
“ Maybe, because, our father is looking for us…” she trailed off.
“ So you’re with your Mom?” they were silent. The colorful one pursed her lips and bowed her head. “ Is it because of what you saw?” 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.
“ You, were there?” she gasped. I nodded.
“ Did you tell anyone anything?” the colorful one demanded. I glanced at her in surprise.
“ Well, I called the police…” she moaned and leaned back in her chair. “ 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 the 911?”
“ 911?” the colorful 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. 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 colorful 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 a 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 colorful 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 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 colorful 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 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 coming 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?