It was another day in the town of West Valley. It was mid morning, another beautiful day with the sun shining brightly in the sky above. The adults were off to work, and the children and teenagers were off to school for the day. For Harrison Whitlow, his work day had just ended. He had gone into work at the police station the night before, and had finished his shift once the early rays of dawn lit up the sky. It had been a quiet night at the police station. All was calm for once, which Harrison had gladly welcomed. The past month had been chaotic, with death coming to the small town.
Harrison had spent the night analyzing the murders with a detective. There was a lot of talking, a lot of jotting down on pads of paper. Anything that could lead to the identity of the killer. And to a motive. So far there was none. It frustrated Harrison, but he knew if they worked extensively and looked at all the angles, they could possibly find something. Time had gone by fast, and as soon as he knew it, the sun began to rise in the sky. The detective had offered him a ride, but Harrison insisted that he was fine with walking.
Walking through the neighbourhood in the day was far different than walking through it at night. In the day it seemed so lively. Once night fell, knowing there was a killer out there, West Valley could be compared to a ghost town. Most people would run into their houses and remain inside until the next day. There were still a few people who would venture out at night. They either weren’t bothered by the fact that three people had died so far, or they told themselves there was no way the killer would target them. Maybe they felt daring enough, or maybe they had a death wish.
The police force did patrol at night, but they couldn’t be everywhere at the same time. The two first victims had died within the comfort of their own home. The third had been killed on a community lot. It was difficult to know where the killer would strike next. That was unsettling to Harrison. It left him with butterflies in his stomach. The killer, whether male or female, was unpredictable. The victims had been chosen at random, and it was difficult to figure out who would be the next victim. Harrison couldn’t help taking a glance over his shoulder as he walked. He felt like he was being watched.
There was no one on the sidewalk behind him. He let out a breath of relief as he approached his home. He knew his younger daughter, Megan, was already at school at this hour of the day. She was a sophomore at the local high school. He expected his older daughter, Julie, to be home. Harrison had no wife to come home to. His wife Christy had walked out on the family two years earlier. Harrison had taken a leave of absence from the police force to raise his daughters. Now, they were older and with all the chaos that was happening with the killings, Harrison had been approached to rejoin the force.
It had taken some thought, but he had agreed. Once he had returned, they put him on the murder cases. It was really something he could sink his teeth into. As opposed to just working the front desk or handing out speeding tickets. He was greatful they wanted him back. Climbing up the steps to the front door, Harrison fished out his keys and stuck them in the lock. He unlocked the door and pushed it open, stepping inside the house. It was quiet. A little too quiet. A deep frown creased Harrison’s face as he took a few steps forward.
“Hello?” he called out, breaking the eerie silence.
A door nearby swung open, startling Harrison as a figure stepped out. He relaxed when he saw it was only his daughter, Julie.
“Hey dad! Something wrong? You look like you were about to jump out of your skin!” Julie pointed out with a frown.
Harrison chuckled softly. “I guess I’m just a little bit jumpy. All this work about catching a killer will do that to you.” he explained to his daughter.
“Let’s just hope this animal is caught before anyone else is.. hurt.” Julie said, choosing her words carefully.
“Promise me you’ll be careful.” Harrison said, concern glinting in his eyes.
“I am being careful, dad. You know I don’t leave the house when the sun goes down. But while the sun is up, that’s another story.” Julie told him with a smirk on her lips as he noticed her appearance.
“Oh, do you have plans today?” he asked her curiously.
“Don’t worry, I’m just going to the mall with Fallon. I’ll be home before Megan comes home from school.” Julie explained.
“How is Fallon holding up? I haven’t seen her since Owen’s funeral.” Harrison asked.
“She’s taking it hard. Not only was her best friend killed, so was her best friend’s husband. It’s like a double whammy for her. Which is why I’m taking her out for some retail therapy. Maybe get her mind off things for a while.” Julie replied with a slight shrug.
“That’s nice of you, Jules. Give her my regards.” Harrison told Julie.
Julie smiled, grabbing her purse off the couch. With a wave, Harrison watched as she made her way to the front door, pulled it open, and stepped outside, closing the door behind her. Once again the house was silent. The only sound was the ticking of the clock on the wall. A sudden wave of fatigue came over Harrison. A few hours of sleep would help, for he had been awake all through the night. But before he could head up to his bedroom, there were a few things he had to take care of first. Cracking his knuckles, Harrison made his way over to where his computer was.
Sitting in the chair, he fired the computer up. He waited, drumming his fingers on the desktop as the computer loaded. Once the computer was ready, Harrison logged onto the Messenger program. While talking with Julie, an idea had sprung to mind. He hoped the chief was on chat, so that he could share his great idea. His eyes scanned through the names of his online contacts, frowning at the chief not being on. I suppose I could always call him. Harrison thought to himself.
He was about to close the computer when an IM came up on the screen. Harrison leaned in for a closer look.
WESTVALLEYKILL : Looking for me?
An uneasy feeling spread through Harrison’s stomach. He frowned, and began typing.
HARRISONWHITLOW : Who is this?
WESTVALLEYKILL : Someone you’ll never find. Or die trying to.
HARRISONWHITLOW : Not funny. I work for the police.
WESTVALLEYKILL : I know. And I know you THINK you’re going to find me, but you won’t. Not before I kill someone else.
HARRISONWHITLOW : If this is some kind of joke, stop now.
WESTVALLEYKILL : Don’t want to. This is NO joke. You know it, I know it, the whole town knows it.
HARRISONWHITLOW : I can have your IP address in minutes. You’ll have to deal with the whole West Valley police squad!
WESTVALLEYKILL : I dare you to come find me. It might lead you to West Valley High. Where you’ll find your daughter’s head on a spike. LOL.
HARRISONWHITLOW : This is between you and me. You leave her out of this.
WESTVALLEYKILL : No can do. This is between me and this whole miserable town. If you were smart, you’d stop looking. You’re not ready to face the consequences. You can’t even imagine what I have planned for this town!
HARRISONWHITLOW : I WILL find you.
WESTVALLEYKILL : That’ll be hard to do since I’m planning to kill YOU ALL!
HARRISONWHITLOW : Threatening me won’t help.
WESTVALLEYKILL : I’m going to do more than just threaten. And I’m a man of my word. Trust me when I say you’re about to find out.
Harrison was about to protest once more when the IM window went blank. He sat back against the chair, breathing hard. Staring blankly at the computer screen.
With every footstep, the floorboards creaked. Dawn wandered down the long hallway, darkness closing in on her from each side. The hallway seemed to grow longer, distorting before her eyes. Yet she moved forward, the oil lantern clutched in her hand. The fire glowing from within did not seem to have any affect on the thick darkness that seemed to be reaching out for her. From the darkness, someone was whispering her name, Dawn ignored it, moving fluidly forward, almost gliding down the hall. She wore a long white nightgown edged with lace on the bottom, giving her a ghost like appearance. She had no idea where the hall would lead, but she knew she couldn’t turn back the way she came. The walls of the hall seemed to melt downward into the wall, and Dawn now found herself in what she recognized to be her bedroom.
There were two figures laying in the bed, and at first Dawn thought she was staring at herself. The light from the lantern revealed her brother Michael, and his wife Claire. They slept soundly, unware of her presence. Before Dawn could wonder why they were sleeping in her bed, a figure stepped out of the shadows from the corner of the room. A figure, dressed all in black. Something reflected in the light of the lantern, the blade of a knife clutched in the figure’s hands. Dawn’s eyes widened, she wanted to cry out, but couldn’t seem to find her voice. All she could do was watch helplessly. The black clad figure approached the bed, and with a flash of silver, the blade sliced cleanly through Michael’s throat. Blood sprayed the wall above him, and before Dawn could move, the same was done to Claire. Another spray of crimson stained the wall above their heads.
Dawn wanted to cry out, to move, but she stood silently rooted in place. She watched as the black clad figure stepped away from the dead bodies in the bed, and turned his attention to her. The black cloak was pulled back, and Dawn stared into the face of her youngest son, Finn. He gave her a smile, raised the bloodstained knife once more, and advanced on her. Dawn bolted upright in bed, letting out a gasp of fear. Her heart thundered in her chest as she glanced around her bedroom in panic. Almost expecting to see Finn standing over her with a knife. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary as sunlight poured into the room from the window. She glanced at the bedside clock to see she had only fallen back asleep for an hour. She pushed the covers back, getting to her feet. The dream was still fresh in her memory, and she was replaying it in her head.
She’d never had a dream like that before, and she wondered if it was because she now knew they were living in the Covington’s old house.
Brandon had been about Finn’s age when he had killed his father. Dawn wondered if that had been why she had seen the image of her son in her dream. Dawn didn’t know what it meant, but it left her with an uneasy feeling in the pit of her stomach. Taking a deep breath, she hurried to take a shower. After the shower, she got dressed, and she headed down the stairs towards the main floor of the house. She tripped over some books Charlie had left on the stairs, almost falling headfirst down the steps. She rolled her eyes in annoyance before she made her way down and headed into the kitchen.
After that dream, I could use a double shot of espresso. Dawn thought to herself as she puttered around the kitchen. As she was getting ready to put the pot onto the stove, someone stepped up behind her. Feeling the presence, and still thinking about the dream, Dawn whirled around with a small shriek. Behind her stood her brother, Michael, who jumped in surprise at her outburst.
“Whoa! It’s just me!” he said with a frown creasing his forehead.
Dawn felt her cheeks redden in embarrasment. “Michael, sorry. I’m a bit jumpy this morning.” she explained sheepishly.
“Well, duh! What was that?” he asked curiously.
“I just had a nightmare that I can’t stop thinking about.” Dawn explained, shifting her gaze.
“Must have been some nightmare. Want to talk about it?” Michael asked, cocking an eyebrow in her direction.
“Oh, no. That’s okay. I’m just going to try to forget it. But there is something we should talk about.” Dawn told her brother. He looked over at her with curiosity glinting in his eyes.
“What is it?” he asked her.
“It doesn’t bother you that the Covington’s used to live in this house?” Dawn asked with a deep frown on her face.
“That was a long time ago, so no, not really.” Michael replied.
“It doesn’t bother you that Brandon Covington killed his own father in this house?” Dawn said, shooting him another question.
“That was a long time ago, too. Besides, the whole family is dead. We had to move somewhere, didn’t we? We couldn’t keep living in that shack like we used to when we were kids.” Michael explained.
“I know! It’s just weird. And also mom and dad never told us. I’m surprised mom kept it a secret for all these years.” Dawn replied.
“Well maybe she knew how you would react when you found out, so she didn’t want to tell you.” Michael explained.
“So you don’t think it’s creepy?” Dawn asked curiously.
“No, I don’t. It’s going to be fine, sis! The Covingtons are dead.” Michael reassured her with a smile before walking off.
Dawn watched him go and then turned to see their mother sitting down in an armchair in the living room. She was gazing lovingly at a picture before she slid it into the pocket of her skirt. Curious, Dawn made her way into the living room.
“Was that a picture of dad?” Dawn asked her mother, who looked up at her from her seat. She smiled in reply.
“From when he was in the war.” her mother explained.
“You have all his pictures downstairs in a box somewhere, right? Why don’t I make a photo album?” Dawn asked.
“Oh, that’s a wonderful idea! The pictures are downstairs in a box in the basement storage room.” her mother revealed.
“Let me go take a look, then.” Dawn said with a smile.
She made her way to the basement door. She grabbed the knob, and pushed the door open. She clicked on the light and headed down the stairs. The basement had been converted into an apartment for Michael and Claire. Most of the rooms down there had been converted into closets but the storage room had remained untouched. The basement was quiet as Dawn made her way over to the storage room door. She pushed it open, and stepped inside, turning on the lights as she did so. There were boxes, covered furniture, old sports equipment, even an old jukebox that had belonged to her father’s.
Dawn felt a little uneasy, being alone in the room, but she tried to push the feeling away as she made her way to the nearest open box. Pulling back the flaps, she peered into the box. There was nothing but some old baby clothes. She moved to another box, and peered inside. There was a stack of letters that caught her eye. There was at least twenty of them, Dawn guessed. And they were held together with a red strip of velvet. Dawn looked to see who the letters were addressed to. She frowned, seeing they were addressed to her mother.
She pulled a letter out of the stack, and turned the envelope over. There was no return address. Are these love letters? Dawn thought to herself with a small smile playing on her lips. She was about to open the envelope in her hand when she heard her mother calling for her from upstairs. She dropped the letters back into the box, and hurried out of the room.
With the screech of tires, a car parked alongside the curb. The engine shut off, the driver side door opening and Blake Tucker stepped out. He had been on the road for two hours, and had now reached his destination. He stretched his legs, taking in his surroundings. He found himself in the town of Plum Grove. Closing the car door and locking it, he made his way around to step up on the curb. After breakfast and making sure that none of his housemates needed the car, he had driven himself to the small town.
He hadn’t told anyone where he was going, especially not Fallon. He was afraid she would talk him out of it, or insist to come along. No, he needed to do this on his own. With all her talk about believing Brandon Covington being alive and thinking he was responsible for the murders, Blake was curious to find out if there was any shred of truth behind Fallon’s theory. So he headed for the only place he would be able to find that out. Sherwood Sanitarium, where Brandon had been locked away from society for twenty years.
It was about a year ago that the sanitarium had closed down. Blake remembered seeing it on the news. He had gone hoping that there were still files inside the building with any information on Brandon. Maybe then it would bring Fallon some closure. She was still pretty torn up over the death of Felicia and Owen. Blake didn’t blame her, he was good friends with Owen and hearing about his murder had come as a shock. He didn’t think Brandon Covington was responsible, but someone out there was targetting the townspeople of West Valley. Despite the warm day, a chill snaked down Blake’s spine.
Blake made his way down the sidewalk, thinking how Plum Grove looked similar to West Valley. Only West Valley doesn’t have it’s own crazy hospital. Blake thought to himself, pursing his lips. He stopped, turning to gaze at the building looming over him. A wrought iron spiked fence bordered the building, it’s points sharp and deadly. Blake didn’t think it looked like a sanitarium, he was expecting something out of a horror movie. There was no flashing lightning, no wind howling, no screams filling the air. Just a warm breeze caressing Blake’s skin.
He kept moving, making his way to the wrought iron gate. He gave it a push, and it swung open. He thought it was strange, a frown creasing his face. He made his way through the gate and into the open courtyard area. The shadow of the building loomed over him as he approached one of the glass doors. He reached out, and grabbed the handle. He gave it a tug, but the door stuck. It was locked. Blake rolled his eyes in annoyance. I guess I’ll just have to find another way in. he thought to himself. Going to turn away, something suddenly flashed past the window from inside the building.
Blake jumped, almost yelling out. A frown creased his face as he moved in closer to peer through the glass. What the hell was that? he thought to himself, pressing his face against the glass. Nothing moved in the darkness beyond. He knew it wasn’t his imagination. Was there someone in there? Blake looked around uneasily.
He wondered to himself if maybe going to Sherwood wasn’t such a good idea after all. He was alone, and maybe the saying was true, maybe there was safety in numbers. He turned, making his way across the courtyard and past the gates to step out onto the sidewalk. He hurried back towards the car, unaware that from inside the building, someone was watching him from an upstairs window.
It was a little before three in the afternoon when the door to the gym was pushed open. Hayley stepped inside, the door swinging shut behind her. She took a glance around, seeing no one behind the front desk. The main entrance of the gym was empty, not a single person in sight. Music blared from the speakers, “Right Now” by Rihanna. All they played at the gym was dance music, Hayley wondered if it was supposed to make you work out harder. She didn’t mind, but she wouldn’t be opposed to the gym playing some Jack Johnson every once in a while.
Hayley made her way towards the locker room. She usually liked going to the gym with company, but no one seemed to be free that particular day. Bridget was at school, as usual. Ivy and Lilah had gone shopping, and Robin was at her voice lessons. That left Hayley all on her lonesome with an uneasy feeling that she couldn’t seem to shake off. She pushed open the locker room door, and entered, the door swinging shut with a bang. Hayley startled, rolling her eyes in protest. Her footsteps echoed off the tiles as she made her way over to the locker she borrowed.
She took off her street clothes, revealing a swimsuit on underneath. She found it pointless that she had to come use the pool at the gym. The house she shared with her friends had a pool, but the pump had broke and Ivy had yet to make a call to get it fixed. Hayley hoped her friend would do that soon, she would rather swim in the privacy of her own backyard. At this time of the day the gym pool was void of any swimmers and Hayley was looking forward to swimming a few laps. The sound of a door closing in the locker room snapped Hayley back to attention. She stood quietly, listening.
All she could hear was the sound of her soft breathing. She shrugged and made her way towards the door that lead into the pool area. She pushed the door open, the smell of chlorine hitting her. She let out a small cough but walked around the edge of the pool, her footsteps echoing off the tiled wall. The water was bright blue and clean. A small smile of contempt played on the corners of Hayley’s lips as she slid out of her flip-flops. She sat down on the edge of the pool, dipping her feet. The air around her was hot and humid and the water looked inviting.
Without further delay, she slid off the edge and into the water. It felt great against her skin as she began to swim, keeping close to the wall. The sound of splashing water echoed around her as she submerged herself, swimming below the surface before coming back up after a few moments. She felt at peace, calm. She focused on her swimming, doing laps around the pool. She dived under the water, pushing with her hands and feet to come back up to the surface. As she wiped the water from her eyes, the sound of a door slamming shut startled her. She looked up with a frown.
“Hello?” Hayley called out, her voice echoing around her. She scanned the room, looking for something out of the ordinary. There wasn’t any, yet the uneasy feeling she had felt earlier had returned. It seemed to wrap around her, tightening it’s grip. Hayley moved, swimming for the ladder. She grabbed it and pulled herself out of the pool, water dripping from her body. Crossing her arms over her chest, she made her way to the door that lead back into the locker room. She pushed the door open and stepped inside, hurrying for her locker. Reaching it, she pulled it open. She grabbed a towel and wrapped it around her body. She was reaching for her clothes when the ringing of her phone echoed through the locker room. Hayley let out a startled yelp, grabbing her phone and answering the call.
“Hello?” she said, her voice high.
There was silence on the other end of the line.
“Hello?” Hayley repeated with a frown creasing her face.
“Hello?” said the distorted voice on the other end of the line. Hayley didn’t recognize the voice, she arched her eyebrow in curiosity.
“Yes?” she asked, wondering who it was on the other end.
“Can I speak to Hayley, please?” the voice asked.
“This is Hayley. Who’s this?” she asked, her voice echoing off the tiles.
“Someone who’s been watching you, Hayley. Someone who’s been watching this whole town.” the voice replied omniously.
“Watching me?” Hayley repeated, shifting her weight uncomfortably.
“You’d be surprised at what I see. How you all go about, living your lives. It only makes things easier for me.” the voice said on the other end.
“Easier for what?” Hayley asked, puzzled.
“To choose who my next victim is.” the voice said simply.
Hayley’s eyes widened in surprise. “That’s not funny!” she said.
“I don’t get why people think this is a joke. This is a serious matter. Are the murders not proof enough? How many more people do I have to kill?” the voice asked.
Hayley swallowed hard, trying to remain calm. “What do you want from me?” she asked.
“I want you to know that I’m watching you, Hayley. Don’t give me a reason to make you victim number four.” the voice hissed.
Hayley gasped, her heart thundering in her chest. She was about to protest when she heard the dial tone in her ear. The killer had hung up. Hayley let out a shaky breath, putting her phone away. She threw the towel aside as she grabbed her clothes, changing into them quickly. She slammed the locker door shut, and with one last uneasy glance around, she hurried out of the locker room.
Megan sighed, taking a step back to observe the painting she was working on. Her gaze ticked to the clock on the art room wall. It was almost dinner time. She frowned, putting down the paintbrush she held in her hand. The classroom was empty, the students and the teacher had already gone home for the day. Megan had to stay behind and finish what was supposed to be last night’s homework. She had competely forgotten about the homework. They were supposed to sketch their dream home, but instead Megan had spent the night talking to Charlie on the phone.
When she had walked into art class that day, and saw her fellow students handing in their sketches, Megan’s heart dropped. She almost cursed out loud, while the teacher, Mr. Guthrie, waited for her to hand in her assignment. He didn’t seem too surprised when she revealed to him she had forgotten to do it. She pleaded for him to give her an extra day, to which he refused. The other students watched the scene quietly, except for Skye Cosgrove, who was giggling with glee. Megan had felt like turning around and dumping paint on the other girl, but Mr. Guthrie was handing out her punishment.
Megan was allowed to do her assignment, but she would have to do it after class. And instead of sketching, Mr. Guthrie wanted her to paint using a free easel and blank canvas. She couldn’t leave until she finished it, and had to leave it on the teacher’s desk. Megan couldn’t believe it, staring at the teacher in disbelief. He had sent her to her desk, her fellow students giving her sympathetic looks as she had walked past. She tried to pay attention to what the teacher was saying as he began his lesson, but Skye kept distracting her. Every time Megan would look up, Skye would be looking over at her with a cruel smirk on her clear glossed lips.
Megan held back, resisting the urge to lift her middle finger up at Skye. She didn’t want to get in any more trouble than she already was. So she kept her head down, taking notes while Mr. Guthrie talked about the origins of abstract art. Art class was at the end of the day so once the final bell rang, Megan remained in her seat. The other students ran out, except for Skye and her friend, Hanna. They looked back at her, whispering and giggling. Finally, they left, not before Skye turned one last time to peer condescendingly at Megan.
“Sucks to be you. Don’t fall in the kiln!” Skye said with a cruel laugh. Hanna giggled in reply and dragged her friend out of the room.
Megan began working on the painting right away while Mr. Guthrie packed up his briefcase. He was in a rush to bring his car to the auto garage to be fixed. He always had problems with his car, an ancient hatchback that was probably older than he was. Megan was surprised he was leaving her all by herself. But she really wanted to be done, so she got to work. It had taken her longer than expected, but she was finally finished. She grabbed the canvas off the easel and made her to put it on the teacher’s desk. She exited the room, closing the lights and the door behind her.
The high school was an ultra modern building with outdoor walkways, which Megan stepped out onto and headed for another door that would lead her back inside the building. She fished out her phone and looked at the screen. There was still no call from her sister Julie, or their father. Because the sun had just begun to set, Megan would make it home before dusk fell. She dreaded having to tell her family why she was returning home late. It had been a few weeks since she was last in trouble. The last time, she had been caught smoking in the girls’ restroom.
She had gotten a lecture from both her sister and her father, and Megan wasn’t looking to repeat that. She sighed softly, pushing open a door and entering back into the school building as she headed down the stairs to the main floor. It was eerily quiet, and Megan ignored the uneasy feeling that was creeping up on her. She hummed to herself, breaking the uncomfortable silence as she made her way for the main entrance. Charlie was supposed to be waiting for her to finish. He had told her he would be waiting outside.
She and Charlie had been growing closer, and she was excited to see him. She thought it was sweet that he was waiting for her. They weren’t officially a couple but the way things were going, they soon would be. Megan had never had a boyfriend before. Charlie was the first boy who actually paid attention to her. With a smile, Megan reached the double doors and pushed the doors open. She banged into the door with a soft grunt. What the.. she thought to herself as she pushed against the doors once more. They were locked.
For a brief moment, panic welled inside Megan. She thought she was locked in. Just find another door. she thought to herself with a frown. She turned, her eyes scanning for another exit. She moved, making her way deeper into the school. She pulled out her phone, about to call Charlie. Looking at the phone screen, her frown deepened. A NO SERVICE signal flashed on the top left corner of her screen. She muttered a curse under her breath, sliding her phone back into her pocket. She found another door that would lead her out onto a side courtyard, but trying that door, she discovered it was locked as well.
Megan scanned her surroundings, trying to keep calm. She spotted the stairs that lead down to the gym. Charlie had said he would be down there shooting a basketball around while he waited for her. Megan hoped he was still there as she hurried, descending the stairs two steps at a time. She reached the landing, making her way towards the door that lead into the gym. Unaware that behind her, a black clad figure followed.
Megan could feel eyes burning into her back. With a frown, she stopped in her tracks. There were footsteps behind her. Biting down on her lip, she stole a glance over her shoulder. A few feet away stood a figure in a black hooded cloak, their face obscured. Megan’s breath caught in her throat as her eyes widened, glinting with fear. WHO IS THAT?! she thought to herself. All her senses screamed at her to run. She tried to move, but her legs wouldn’t cooperate. Time seemed to slow down as Megan tried to find her voice.
Suddenly, the figure moved. A flash of black coming quickly at Megan. A scream erupted from her throat, echoing off the walls of the basement hallway. A hand flashed out, trying to grab hold of her. Megan ducked underneath the figure’s arm, while the other hand tried to grab hold of her hair. She ran, trying to reach the gym door when suddenly she was pulled back, the figure grabbing the back of her vest. Another scream escaped Megan’s lips as she rammed her elbow back, catching the figure in the ribs. There was a grunt, and Megan was shoved forward into the wall.
Stars exploded in her vision as her head hit the hard surface of the wall. She let out a yelp of pain as she was grabbed again and spun around, her back slammed against the wall as the figure’s black gloved hands wrapped around her throat. Megan’s eyes widened, struggling to breathe as the figure tightened their grip around her throat. Her hands clawed at the vice-like grip, struggling to free herself. Lights began to dance at the edge of her vision. With all the force she could muster, Megan grabbed a handful of the cloak and brought her knee up hard into the figure’s stomach.
The figure reeled back, breaking their grip on Megan. She sucked in a breath of air and let out another scream. Wasting no time, her path clear, she ran for the gym doors, pushing them open and running inside, colliding with a figure. Another frightened scream erupted from her throat before realizing she had run into Charlie. He peered at her with a frown, sensing her distress.
“Hey! Whoa! Are you alright?” he asked her, concern glinting in his eyes.
“Oh my god, Charlie! Help!” Megan cried, throwing herself into his arms.
“What’s going on? Did something happen?” he asked.
“Someone attacked me! Out in the hall!” she cried.
With wide eyes, Charlie moved, making his way to the double doors. He pushed them open, stepping out into the hallway. Megan followed closely behind, her heart jackhammering in her chest. She stayed close to Charlie as they scanned the hallway. It was empty. Megan’s attacker had escaped.
“Let’s get out of here.” Charlie said.
“The doors are locked. I couldn’t get out.” Megan explained, blinking back tears. She didn’t want Charlie to see her cry.
“The exit door in the gym is open, we can go through there.” he explained, leading the way to safety.
Frankie Workman had enough for one day. He had spent almost two hours on the phone with a client. Which is why when he stepped out of his office building, he was surprised to see the sun had set. His office was in the heart of downtown, and he could see the sidewalks were beginning to clear of people. Frankie frowned, as he made his way down the sidewalk. His wife had the car that night. She was off to some fundraiser, and had taken the kids with her. Frankie didn’t mind walking, it was a nice night, the air warm and still.
His footfalls echoed off the sidewalk as he made his way through Main Street. The stores had already closed and all that remained open were restaurants and clubs. He could hear loud music coming from Surge, which was just up the block. Frankie had the feeling that Hanna had already been there. Probably with Skye. She was a bad influence on his daughter. Surge wasn’t the type of club he would go to, but he could see why the younger people flocked there. Music, dancing, drinks, meeting other people. Frankie was over that phase, he had met the one he was going to spend the rest of his life with. He couldn’t believe he had been married to Stephanie for almost twenty years.
They were high school sweethearts, and he had pursued her. Stephanie was the captain of the cheerleading squad. And himself? He was the class president. Frankie was quite the looker back then, all the girls were infatuated with him. But not Stephanie, which is what made him pursue her even more. It took some time to win her over but they eventually went out on their first date, and the rest was history. Thinking about it now, it brought a smile to Frankie’s lips. Sure, Stephanie was hard to keep up with when she had ideas for events for the town, but underneath that shallow exterior, there was a sweet and loving woman.
Frankie slowed down as he was passing a restaurant. He looked up at the building, remembering he had seen it on the news. There had been an incident there a few weeks ago. A young woman had been attacked in the restroom which had left her blind. They were linking it to the murders that had taken place there in town. It still seemed unreal to him. He knew one of the victims, Richard Jacks. He couldn’t think of why someone would want to harm an old man. Frankie frowned, but found himself heading towards the door to the restaurant. He pushed the door open, entering, and letting the door shut behind him.
Frankie took a glance around. It wasn’t very busy tonight. That was fine by him. He just wanted to grab a drink before heading home. The tough day at work began to take a toll on him, and he just wanted to unwind for a few minutes. So he made his way over to the bar, sitting down on a free stool. A female bartender appeared from across the bar.
“What can I get you?” she asked, bored. It looked like she was used to asking that same question all the time. She raised an eyebrow in Frankie’s direction and waited for him to answer.
“I’ll have a vodka tonic, please.” Frankie said, flashing her a smile.
The bartender nodded, seemingly disinterested. She began puttering on the other side of the bar, making his drink.
“That’s eight fifty.” she revealed.
Thinking that was kind of expensive for a drink, he slid a ten dollar bill across the bartop. “Keep the change.” he told her.
“Oh, I will.” she said with sarcasm dripping from her voice.
She must hate her job. Frankie thought to himself, scanning the restaurant while more people began to file in. The bartender placed his drink on to the bar in front of him.
“Enjoy.” she said simply, turning away from him to deal with the other people who had come to sit at the bar. Frankie picked up his drink and brought the glass to his lips. He took a sip. Pretty good. he thought to himself. He put the drink back down and listened to the conversation the bartender was having with another patron.
“This place has been getting a lot of unwanted press. Tammy Coleman got attacked here. And it doesn’t help that Owen Talley worked here before we changed owners.” the bartender said to the other man who was sitting next to Frankie.
“The reporters must have had a field day.” Frankie said, chiming in. The bartender ticked her gaze in his direction, nodding her head.
“You got that right. There’s nothing wrong with publicity, the lighthearted kind, I mean. Do you know that some people have came in just to see the bathroom where Ms. Coleman got attacked? That’s twisted.” the bartender revealed with a frown.
“It’s proven fact that people are interested in morbidity. It’s like when you pass a car wreck, some people can’t help but look at what’s going on instead of turning away.” Frankie revealed.
“And with the murders, West Valley has started to gain recognition again.” the man sitting next to Frankie said, his eyes shining in excitement.
“Again? Oh, you’re talking about what happened twenty years ago? With the Covingtons?” the bartender asked curiously.
The man nodded. “Some people think Brandon Covington has returned to town.” he explained.
Frankie lowered the glass from his lips, it was empty. He placed it down on the bar. “I don’t know what to think. Maybe someone wants it to seem like Brandon Covington is behind all this madness.” he said with a frown.
The bartender nodded in agreement. “That’s what I think too. Doesn’t mean it’s not creepy as hell, though.” she revealed with a shudder of fear.
Frankie peered at the time. If he left now he would make it home before Stephanie and the kids returned. He got to his feet, waving goodnight and made his way to the back exit. He pushed the door open and stepped back out into the warm night. I’ll take a shortcut. he thought to himself. The path behind the restaurant would lead him home. His footsteps broke the silence of the quiet path, as he began his trek home. Out of the corner of his eye, Frankie thought he saw someone duck down behind a car that was parked in the alley bordering the restaurant. Frankie frowned, almost going over to investigate. It’s none of your business. Just get yourself home. he thought to himself. He shrugged his shoulders lightly and kept moving.
He walked by the car, and made his way around to the back path bordered by bushes. He thought he saw the bushes ahead quivering, as if someone was hiding in them. Frankie couldn’t help but stop. Something weird was going on. Was he being followed? He took a few hesistant steps forward. All was quiet now. With his attention focused in front of him, someone exploded out of the bushes behind him. There was a burst of movement and before he could turn, Frankie was seazed roughly from behind. Something was slipped around his neck by black gloved hands. Frankie’s breath caught in his throat as he turned his head, looking up as a black cloaked figure filled his vision. His eyes widened in terror as he struggled to breathe.
Frankie realized there was a rope around his neck, and the gloved hands were tightening it around his throat. A soft strangled cry was the only sound Frankie was able to make as he found himself dropping down to this knees. His eyes bugged out of his head, his face turning scarlet. He brought his hands up, grabbing at the rope. It only made the black clad figure tighten it even more, Frankie’s vision going blurry. He felt a knee pressing into his back as he was throttled. There was a flash of white in his vision and then everything went dark. Frankie went limp, the figure pulling the rope off his neck as his body fell to the concrete with a silent thud.
Sliding the rope into their cloak, the black clad figure ran off, dissappearing into the thick dark shadows. The West Valley killer had struck again. Frankie Workman was their latest victim. His dead body left on the path that was supposed to lead him safely home.