The young girl took away as much as possible the two unconscious girls before catching her breath. Then she went into the backyard and managed to snatch the volleyball net. She used it in a very different way. She threw it on the floor and rolled Rachel’s body into it. It was all she could find to neutralize her a moment. At least, she hoped so. Karen regained consciousness. She saw Rachel tied into the net. She didn’t really understand what had happened earlier. She turned to her friend, questioning her with her gaze. Julie shook her head as she answered simply to certainly not try to understand at the moment.
“It’s… too long to explain,” Julie said, helping her to get up. “Come with me. We need to find Joel and Nancy.”
Karen slowly turned to her friend, frowning.
“Find them…? Is something happened to them?”
“Do you think you can walk?”
Gently shaking her head, the girl put one foot before the other, resting on Julie’s arm. The latter stood to prevent her friend to see in what condition Philip was. He was still lying on the floor and he hasn’t yet regained consciousness. Julie worried about him. Rachel gave him a nasty blow to the head. But they should get help. They set off to find Joel and Nancy, shouldering each other. Julie didn’t know if Rachel was going to get rid of her improvised cords. Let’s hope for the best… Walking at a slow pace, they remained silent for a moment. Karen kept all her questions. Julie doubted it. She might provide some explanation to get her out of the fog.
“What do you remember?”
Karen shook her head.
“I suddenly was in pain and then, nothing.”
“It was Rachel who hit you.”
From the corner of her eye, she saw a tear slide down Karen’s cheek. She stopped to walk and put a hand on her shoulder.
“But…” Karen moaned. “Why…? I… I always knew she had problems…”
Julie raised her head without answering.
“Did she tell you why?”
Julie merely started walking, looking straight ahead. By cons, she knew that Karen wasn’t wrong. Rachel had very big problems from the beginning. She closed her eyes and sighed. Nancy… Where are you? She should focus on positive thoughts, saying that her friend was okay. She shouldn’t think about the worst. She had too much imagination to be rational. Nancy was still alive. Everything was fine. Maybe she wasn’t in great shape, but she wasn’t dying or dead. Joel was fine, too. They were both fine. But something happened to Dominique… I’m sure… Rachel hadn’t given many details about what happened. Sighing again, she just continued to walk forward. She had to keep her thoughts to herself. Karen didn’t need to hear them. Julie was suddenly overwhelmed with remorse. Before leaving, she should have taken time to examine each of her friends to make sure they were alright. But she only thought about her main goal: Joel and Nancy.
The rain began to fall again, cleaning her face from blood and dirt that were still there. Her shoulder was still hurting terribly, but her head was throbbing even more. She couldn’t think about it. She repressed a lot of things in order not to panic. She had to stay calm. She felt that Karen was about to cry. So Julie had to stay strong for both of them. They were totally exhausted. They walked for a while before seeing something in the distance. They had a sudden glimmer of hope before the angle of view was better. Without further ado, the two girls began to run as fast as they could to get to the crashed car that was in a ditch, embedded in a tree.
The vehicle was on its side. The impact with the tree had completely opened the hood which was then crushed against the windshield. It had completely broken into pieces because of the shock. Julie then began, in spite of herself, to imagine the scene. The car violently struck a tree near the ditch and rolled on its die. There was blood against the window of the driver’s side. Julie rushed to the door to take a look. Joel hanged at the end of his seatbelt. She tried to open the door but it was stuck. Karen came to give her a hand. In vain. She approached the front windshield and let out a cry of horror. Julie went to her. Nancy was still held by her belt too, but her face was pressed against the glass of the passenger side.
But Karen hadn’t screamed because of that.
Dominique was still on the backseat. A large shard of glass from the windshield had pierced her throat from the left. Her eyes were still open, lifeless. Julie managed to slip inside the car. She found Nancy’s bag she hastened to give to Karen. She had to put her attention on something else, to occupy her so she won’t look at the horror in the car.
“Try to get a network with her cellphone to call for assistance.”
Karen nodded, trembling. Did the small road was still out of network? Julie didn’t know, but she hoped not. She reached out to check on Joel and Nancy’s pulse. They were alive, but they would probably need emergency medical care. She wondered if she could get them out of the car without further injury. She wanted to prevent that from happening.
“There’s a network!” Karen cried, lifting the cell above her head. “I have a bar! I have one! Hold on! Help will be here soon!”
Julie felt a huge weight removed from her chest. The network was working here! This entire nightmare would finally end. Taking a deep breath, she unbuckled the belt of Nancy to gently pull her out. She didn’t want to hurt her more than she appeared to be. How long were they unconscious? She finally managed to get her out of the vehicle. Meanwhile, Karen composed the emergency number, praying the communication will not be interrupted.
“Please!” Karen begged. “Quickly send someone! Please!”
Grabbing Nancy’s underarms, Julie dragged her a little further. Karen eventually hanged up and came to help her. They got Joel out together, cautiousness. He didn’t seem physically hurt, and then it could be internal.
“You think they’re going to be fine?” Karen asked.
“I don’t know, but I hope so.”
“I… I refused to touch Dominique. She’s… she’s dead, isn’t she?”
Julie merely nodded without answering.
“I hated her, but she didn’t deserve this…”
They remained silent for a long time without taking their eyes from their friends. Julie hoped they regain consciousness very quickly. She wanted to know what had happened in the car before the accident. The young girl stood up when she perceived siren sounds. Help would be there very soon. Karen curled up on herself, her knees under her chin. She began to cry. Julie let her do so. She fought hard to control her own tears. She felt relieved when she saw the first flashing lights at the horizon. The ambulance stopped near the car to rescue the occupants. Police joined them very quickly.
Julie told them that there were other injured people in a cottage a little further down the road. The two girls went with them. Karen was still sobbing beside her. Julie felt too exhausted to comfort her. She felt her heart beating wildly in her chest when the patrol car came near the cottage. Everything seemed calm. The two officers turned to the girls, frowning. A huge roar could suddenly be heard. The two officers exchanged a quick glance before leaving the vehicle at gunpoint. They beckoned the girls to stay in the car. Julie was petrified with terror. Rachel was very dangerous. She knew it now. She will not be very happy to see us. A second cry was heard from the inside. Julie trembled with horror. Karen drew her knees up under her chin, crying a little more. She hastened to stick her hands over her ears. The second scream hasn’t been done by the same person as the first. It was a cry of pain, not rage. The two officers went slowly and pointed their weapons while screaming not do the slightest movement. Julie didn’t follow the request made earlier and went out of the car, leaving the door open.
“Julie” Karen shouted between sobs. “Come back here! Don’t go!”
But Julie didn’t listen. She walked slowly to the cottage. Inside, the officers ordered again not to move. She approached the stairs and tried to see what was happening. Unfortunately, she couldn’t see. She could hear moans. A policeman negotiated as best as he could. She could see a shadow approaching the door. She frowned before exclaiming:
He crawled out before pressing against the wall, breathing heavily. He had a nasty gash near his right eye and dried blood on his nose. She felt her heart sink seeing him so scared. She made him grand gestures to get his attention, to come and join them. He nodded, indicating that he understood her. Taking a last look at the cop still standing outside the door, he ran to her. He hugged her tightly in his arms. She still kept her tears. The paramedics who had just arrived came to Maxim to take a look at him. Strong shouts attracted the attention of everyone. Rachel didn’t seem to be on the verge of surrender. She screamed before a shot made the entire building vibrate. Everything was followed by a loud crash. Julie covered her ears with her hands, closing her eyes. Karen began to moan and whine.
A few minutes later, the two police officers escorted Rachel out of the cottage. The young girl screamed and insulted everyone within earshot. The handcuffs around her wrists held her hard. Julie could see with horror that her clothes were completely covered with blood. But who owned all that blood? The girl asked the question without really wanting an answer. She remembered she had head cries. Rachel’s fury began to lash out again. She looked up at Julie, an evil smile on her lips.
“This is all your fault!” she yelled, pulling on the handcuffs. “Why aren’t you doing things like everyone else?”
The girl looked at her without saying anything. She refused to take the blame to excuse her actions. It wasn’t her fault if she had chosen the path of vengeance. Rachel had made the decision by herself several years ago. Then assume it!
“You were supposed to be accused of the fire!”
She pulled back on her handcuffs, trying again to set free her wrists held behind her back. Are the handcuffs strong enough? Julie hoped so. The police grabbed her more firmly. Maxim stepped forward to ask Rachel what happened to Dominique. These words calmed Rachel before triggering a sudden and incomprehensible hilarity. She threw her head back, laughing even louder. When she got serious again, she laid eyes on the young man, smiling.
“Your little bitch simply got what she deserved.”
“What did you do to her?” Maxim cried.
Julie had to hold him so he doesn’t jump at her throat. But the young girl really wanted to let him do it… She licked her lips, still holding him firmly by the arm. The police walked with difficulty up the car, but Rachel refused to let them do so. She was screaming all obscenities she knew and cursed everyone around her. She went on with the description how Maxim’ girlfriend died. Julie felt Maxim tremble beneath her fingers. She looked up to him, hoping that he didn’t believe a single word. He clenched his jaw, watching Rachel.
“What did you say?” he blurted.
“With the number of times she has been fucked by other guys,” the girl spat, “I don’t see why you should weep for her.”
Surprise could be read on Maxim’s face. He looked down at Julie. The young girl bit her lower lip. I already told you to dump her, Max. It wasn’t the time to remind that to him. She didn’t want to hit him again. She looked away, taking care not to utter a word. Yet she had the impression that he suspected something without really wanting to believe it. Except now, he had no real choice.
“Oh! You didn’t know? What a pity for you to learn it now!”
She still had her evil smile on her lips. The police retreated to let the medics passed. Julie felt a pang of anxiety pierce her heart. What had happened in the cottage during her absence? She asked the question to Maxim, but he didn’t listen. He focused on what Rachel was saying. The girl took his face in her hands to get his attention. She repeated her question a second time. He looked at her as if he was seeing her for the first time. She shook him slightly.
“Don’t listen, please. She doesn’t worth the trouble.”
“Who was screaming before?”
“The screams we heard earlier. Do you know who was screaming like that?”
He slowly shook his head before turning to the cottage. He took a step forward, but the cop ordered them to stay outside. Julie felt her heart sink. They didn’t want them to see something. But what? Was there a massacre during her absence? Did Rachel have almost killed everyone after she freed herself? The young girl listened to hear what was being said inside. She heard jerky words, but she couldn’t understand what it was. She bit her lower lip. She began to think about what it could be. Suddenly she understood everything. Oh my God… Jerking words… Numbers! But she didn’t see the paramedics who were still inside. And the numbers… She put her hands to her lips to stifle a sob of horror. They’re trying to reanimate someone… Her heart sank in her chest as the tears now streamed down her cheeks. One of her friends was about to die because of Rachel.
Unconsciously, she reached down and clenched her fingers around Maxim’ arm. He turned to her, eyes wide. He also had understood the situation. Behind them, Karen was still sobbing. Julie wondered if she should tell her about her suspicions. Except that in her state, maybe it was a better idea to keep her thoughts to herself again.
But someone was practically dead in the cottage…