The town of West Valley was cursed. At least that’s what people were saying. It had a death curse. Or perhaps it was just bad luck. After months of terrorizing the town, the killer had finally been caught. Two months of peace and quiet. But that had all changed recently. There had been another murder. It was brutal, and bloody. A sole victim. Jeremy Ashford. A well known name. A movie heartthrob who had come to live the small town life. He was tired of the fake and artificial life of Hollywood. He had moved to West Valley, had made friends, he had even fallen in love. Suddenly, his bright future had been extinguished.
People thought life could go back to normal now since Scott Emerson was dead. And it had, but it had merely been an illusion. Jeremy had been found outside his house by Ruby. A knife rammed through his skull. The police had come, alerted by a neighbour who had heard Ruby’s horrified screams. They too had been surprised. They had truly believed the horror to be over. It had died with Scott when he had been shot to death. However, now they were starting to think otherwise. Perhaps Scott dying was the start of another chain of events to fall on to the small town. The people of West Valley felt cheated. They had just started to feel safe again.
News of the murder had gotten around town fairly quickly. It was now four days later since Jeremy’s death. His funeral had been the previous day. He was buried out behind St-Gregory’s Church with the other victims of the murder spree. A few people had gone to visit Ruby, who was inconsolable. Jeremy had just asked her to marry him moments before he had been killed. She had never even gotten the chance to accept his proposal. Marriage was something she had always looked forward to, and now it had been violently taken away from her. She too, felt cheated. Her happiness was snatched away from her. Her dreams, a mere memory.
There were no suspects as to who the killer was this time around. The police had already had a hard time just trying to find Scott’s identity. This time around, it could have literally been anyone. The police still suspected it could do something with Brandon Covington, who was very much alive, although no one knew where he was. All they knew was that Scott had been in contact with Brandon. They were best friends. Could it have been Brandon, back in town to avenge the death of his good friend? It was a possibility. Only no one knew what Brandon looked like. There were no pictures of him since he was a child.
Would Brandon have the audacity to return to his hometown that he hated so much? Could he be right under all of their noses? No one noticed anyone suspicious looking. People were back to being careful. They returned to locking their doors, just in case. Yet that wouldn’t stop them from living their lives. Perhaps Jeremy’s murder was just a coincidence. Maybe it had nothing to do with Brandon or Scott, or West Valley. Perhaps it was a disgruntled fan, someone obsessed with Jeremy. Perhaps there was nothing to be worried about. A car drove into town, passing the welcome sign. Inside, Joanna Stanton was plenty worried.
She wasn’t worried about the fact that someone had killed Jeremy Ashford. In fact, she didn’t even know about it. She was worried because she and her family were starting a new life there in West Valley. She gazed out the passenger side window, the car heading through the downtown area. It was early morning, the sun had yet to rise. The streets were deserted, void of any life. Joanna turned and looked at her husband in the driver seat. Barry Stanton was looking at the GPS, they were on their way to their new home. I hope the movers arrived and set everything up. Joanna thought to herself. Barry felt her staring, he ticked his eyes off the road, looking at her with a small smile.
She smiled back. Barry turned his attention back to the road. Soon they would be pulling up to their new house. Joanna turned and looked at her two children in the backseat. Her son Travis, sixteen years old, was fast asleep. He’d been sleeping since they had stopped to put gas, which was four hours before. Joanna ticked her gaze to her daughter, Carly. She was fifteen, and she was wide awake. She was listening to her IPOD, her headphones in her ears. She looked up at her mother, flashing her a smile. Everyone but Travis was excited to call West Valley their new home.
It was two months ago when Barry had come home one night, and explained that he had been promoted. The family was so happy to hear the good news. He had then explained that not only was he being promoted, he was also being transferred. That wasn’t as exciting as he explained his job was relocating him to West Valley. Joanna wasn’t sure what she thought about that. Travis was not happy. Only Carly was enthusiastic. She’d given a speech about how change was good. Listening to her talk, Joanna had finally agreed it was a great opportunity. They’d be living in a bigger house, and Barry would be making a lot more money.
Travis didn’t have much of a choice but to move with his family. Joanna and Barry had gone house hunting, put their own house up for sale. It wasn’t long before it was sold, and they were packing up their things in the car and leaving for West Valley. It was two days later, and they had finally arrived. Joanna peered out the passenger side window as the car travelled through town. Driving through a residential area. The houses were nice. Joanna couldn’t wait to meet the neighbours. Even though she was a bit of a bookworm, she was outgoing and friendly. She was sure she’d get along with whoever she met.
Joanna snapped out of her thoughts as the car came to a stop. She looked out the window and saw they had arrived at their new home. A smile played on her lips as she turned and nudged Travis, announcing they had arrived. He stirred, opening his eyes sleepily. Carly had taken off her headphones, putting the IPOD down on the seat as she pushed open the back door. She jumped out onto the curb and stared up at their new home. Her eyes shined with excitement as Joanna pushed open the passenger side door. She stepped out onto the curb, closing the door behind her as she walked across the front lawn. She gazed up at the house.
Home sweet home. Joanna thought to herself with a smile. She turned to look at Barry and Travis, who were getting out of the car. They made their way onto the curb and stood next to Joanna. Barry slid his arm around her waist, kissing her cheek. He was happy, she could tell. He seemed as excited as she was. Travis on the other hand, was looking at their new home with a frown creasing his face. He seemed uncertain about it. Before Joanna could ask him what he thought about the house, he stalked towards the backyard. She turned to look at Carly. Her daughter rolled her eyes and she followed after her brother.
“Don’t worry about Travis.” Barry told her.
“I really thought he would be happy to move.” Joanna replied with a frown.
“He just needs to get used to this town. He’ll love it.” Barry reassured her.
Together, they headed up the porch steps, stopping in front of the front door. “I hope so. You know how he gets when he’s in one of his moods.” Joanna replied.
“He’s a teenager. Being moody comes with the territory.” Barry chuckled softly.
“I thought with everything that happened at his old school, he’d welcome a fresh start.” Joanna said.
“He misses his friends.” Barry pointed out.
“His friends were a bad influence on him.” Joanna replied.
“It wasn’t fun getting calls from his principal, but he’s a kid, he’s got to learn from his mistakes.” Barry said.
“At least with Carly we didn’t have to worry about what kind of crowd she was hanging out with.” Joanna said.
“That’s because she always had the same friends.” Barry pointed out.
“Although that Madison girl was annoying. Or was I the only one who thought that?” Joanna asked, cocking an eyebrow in her husband’s direction.
“Well she was always barging into the house without knocking.” Barry remembered.
“And she’d invite herself over for dinner. Even when we had guests.” Joanna added.
“I’m not going to miss her!” Barry replied with a chuckle.
“At least she wouldn’t raid your closet when they’d have their sleepovers.” Joanna replied, rolling her eyes in annoyance.
“They did raid the liquor cabinet one time.” Barry pointed out.
“They did? I didn’t know about that!” Joanna replied, her eyes widening in surprise.
“That’s because I didn’t tell you.” he replied with a chuckle.
“Should I talk to her?” Joanna asked with a frown creasing her pretty face.
“I already did. I gave her a lecture. It’s in the past. We’re in a new town now! This is all about the future.” Barry explained to his wife.
Joanna looked over as Carly and Travis appeared. Carly was smiling, and Travis looked less tense. Carly was an expert at calming her older brother down. Since they were only a year apart in age, they were pretty close. They got along pretty well.
“So?” Joanna asked, arching an eyebrow.
“Dad should get promoted more often! This place is great!” Carly replied. She nudged her brother.
“Yeah, it’s not bad.” Travis replied.
“You guys can go check out your rooms before school. I’ll drop you off, okay? I have to meet with the new principal.” Joanna told them.
“What about dad?” Travis asked.
“I only have to be at work after lunch.” Barry explained as he pulled the house keys out of his pocket. “This is it!” he told his family.
“Look out, West Valley! The Stantons have arrived!” Carly called cheerfully as her father slid the key into the lock, unlocked the front door, and pushed it open.
It was by chance that Scott Emerson had been caught. Fingers typed on the keyboard. Eyes stared at the computer screen. The book was coming along. Sitting in the chair in front of the computer, Faye sat back. Stared at the words on the screen until they blurred. She was used to sitting in front of a computer. As a podcaster, she’d use it to record and upload her podcast episodes to her website. Writing a book, that was something entirely different. Faye was out of her comfort zone. It was a challenge, but it was something she was determined to do. The podcast about West Valley was done. It had come to an end once Scott had been caught.
The mystery had been solved. Scott was dead, and life had returned back to normal. Faye had been sad. There was no reason to stay in town now that things were calm once again. Her work there was done. It was time to move onto another subject. One night, she had gone up to her room and had began packing up her things. She couldn’t help the stinging of her eyes, of the tears that flowed silently down her cheeks. She’d come grown attached to the town. And to the people there. Such as Ellie, who had welcomed her into her home. It was at that moment that Ellie had walked into the room. She had peered over at the open suitcase on the bed, and then over to Faye.
With a frown, she had asked Faye where she was going. Faye explained it to her, wiping at her eyes. She was embarrassed to have Ellie see her cry. So she tried to focus on her packing. That was until Ellie had asked her to stay. Faye had stopped in her tracks, looking over at the other girl curiously. Ellie explained that she didn’t have to leave. That just because Scott was dead, didn’t mean the story was over. In fact, Ellie had been the one to suggest that maybe Faye should try to write a book. People all over the world would want to know what had happened in the town of West Valley.
Faye had admitted it was a good idea, but she didn’t know the first thing about writing a book. Ellie had told her to think of it as a podcast, but to write down her information and thoughts. Faye agreed, she’d stay in town and work on the book. It came more easier at times than others. But so far, Faye had three chapters completed. She clicked a few buttons, saved her work, and got to her feet. She pushed the desk chair away, stretching her arms. She peered at the time, it was a little past nine. She’d been sitting in front of the computer for at least two hours now. She had woken up early, she couldn’t sleep.
She had gotten dressed and had headed downstairs to work on the book. Now, she turned the computer off, and made her way out of the office. She closed the door behind her as she made her way into the kitchen. Coffee. she thought to herself. The house was quiet. Lynn was sitting out in the backyard with a book. Tyson was at school already, and Ellie had gone off to take care of something at Surge. Making sure there was water in the coffee machine, Faye reached out and pressed a button. The coffee machine started up with a whir. Soon, the scent of medium roast colombian coffee filled up the kitchen.
Once the coffee was ready, Faye turned the machine off. She pulled out the pot and filled a cup. She brought it over to the counter, sitting down on one of the chairs. She brought the cup to her lips. She was deep in thought. If Scott was dead, who had killed Jeremy Ashford? Did Scott have an accomplice that no one knew about? If so, who was it? Or could there have been a copycat killer out there? Someone who wanted to continue Scott’s work. There was also a rumor going around about Skye Cosgrove’s murder. That her murder had occured after Scott had been killed by the police. A deep frown creased Faye’s pretty face. She brought the cup to her lips once more, taking a sip of the coffee.
Soon, Faye’s cup was empty. She stood up, and brought her cup with her to the coffee machine. She poured herself another cup. Brought it to her lips and took another sip. She wondered if there was any truth to the rumor about Skye’s death. If it was true, how could she know for certain? She looked up when she heard the front door open. She heard footsteps, and soon Ellie was walking into the kitchen. She had a smile on her face. She stated she was done work for the day. She got herself a cup, pouring herself some coffee. Faye was glad Ellie was around more. Faye considered her a really good friend. It could get lonely sometimes, especially now, since she was home working on the book. It was nice to have someone to talk to.
The two girls sat down at the kitchen counter. “So, how’s the book coming along?” Ellie asked curiously.
“Good, actually! I thought it would be difficult.” Faye explained.
“Have you thought of a name for it yet?” Ellie asked.
“What do you think of WEST VALLEY : MURDEROUS SECRETS?” Faye asked.
Ellie thought about it for a moment. “I like it!” she finally replied.
Faye smiled. “I just hope people are going to read it!” she explained.
“Of course they will!” Ellie reassured her. “I’m sure people around the world want to know what really happened here!” she told Faye.
“Well, what about all those nightly specials the networks did after Scott was killed?” Faye asked, cocking an eyebrow.
“They only got some people’s stories. You can tell the whole story!” Ellie pointed out.
“I guess you’re right.” Faye replied with a small smile on her lips.
“We can hold the book launch at Surge!” Ellie explained, excitement glinting in her eyes.
Faye chuckled lightly. “I guess I better finish it soon, then.” she told Ellie.
“No rush. When you’re done with it, you’ll let me know. I’ll even buy the first copy.” Ellie told her.
“Sounds like a plan!” Faye replied with a chuckle escaping her lips. She got to her feet. “I guess I’ll go back to work on the book. I just needed a caffeine break. Wish me luck!” she told Ellie.
“Good luck!” Ellie said as Faye walked out of the kitchen.
Jeremy smiled up at Ruby. She blinked, looking down at her phone in her hand. At the picture she was staring down at on the screen. A picture of her and Jeremy. It had been taken not long before he was killed. A carnival had passed through town, and they had thought it would have been fun to go. They had taken the picture up on the ferris wheel, the stars sparkling behind them in the night sky. A pang of sadness hit Ruby once more, she sniffled, trying to hold back the tears that threatened to cascade down her cheeks. Oh Jeremy. she thought to herself. She looked down at the picture one last time before she slid her phone back into her pocket.
She looked around, taking in her surroundings. She found herself downtown. She needed to get out of the house. Meredith wasn’t home, and all Ruby could do was think about Jeremy. It seemed so surreal to her. He was gone, and he was never coming back. Ruby swallowed hard, swallowing down the lump in her throat. She thought back to that night. The night Jeremy had proposed, the night he had been murdered. It flashed through her mind like a broken picture show. The memory still fresh in her mind. She didn’t think she would ever forget it. Everytime she closed her eyes, she would see the grisly sight again.
She would see it when she slept. She’d wake up with a gasp, her body drenched in sweat. She’d see it when she was awake too. It would happen at the most random times. Like when she was eating breakfast at the table, when she was on the couch watching television, even when she was in the shower. People had died in the town of West Valley, but no one was as special like Jeremy was. Is this how he felt when Everly died? Ruby thought to herself. Sure, Jeremy and Everly weren’t romantically involved, but they had been friends for a long time. A deep sigh escaped Ruby’s lips as she made her way down the sidewalk.
It was almost noon. Soon, people would be flooding the downtown area. Ruby didn’t have a real destination in mind. She let her feet guide her. The sun shone brightly in a cloudless blue sky. Another beautiful spring day. If her mind wasn’t scrambling with thoughts, Ruby would have took some time to appreacite the nice weather. Despite the warmth of the sun, she felt a constant chill. As if a rain cloud was over her head. She and Jeremy had walked these streets many times. Perhaps that was what had brought her there. She looked around again. She didn’t know why, but she thought of Scott. His face flashed through Ruby’s mind.
Hadn’t he held Michael Olsen captive somewhere around there? Ruby remembered hearing it on the news. She frowned. Why am I thinking of that? she asked herself. It was a weird thought to cross her mind like that. She kept walking, passing by stores and restaurants. She suddenly had another thought. Of the ring Jeremy had given her. She still couldn’t believe he had proposed. And she never had the chance to accept. She stifled a sob, covering her mouth with her hand. She still had the ring. He had given to her, she was still going to keep it. She kept it in it’s box, inside the drawer of her dresser.
For the past two nights, when she was in her room, the lights off, she would pull out the ring. She’d sit at the edge of her bed, the moonlight glinting off the ring, making it glow. And Ruby would sob. The grief was too much, almost weighing her down. The night before, Meredith had heard her. She had came into the bedroom, sitting next to Ruby on the bed. And she held her, holding her tightly while Ruby sobbed. She was greatful to have a friend like Meredith around. She had whispered soothing words to Ruby until her cries had stopped. She had quietly thanked Meredith, and had gone to sleep.
I need a drink. Ruby thought to herself. She ticked her gaze around, her eyes falling on the sign of a bar. It was down in the basement of a building, so she made her way over to the steps that lead down. She descended the steps, pulling open the bar door and stepping inside. The door swung shut behind her as she looked around. It wasn’t crowded, which Ruby was fine with. She could be alone with her thoughts. Brushing a stray lock of hair away from her face, she made her way over to the bar. She sat down on the barstool, waiting for the bartender to come over so she could order her drink.
She drummed her nails on the bartop, a stacatto beat. Soon, a bartender was standing before her. She ordered herself a gin & tonic, the bartender nodding and moving off to make her drink. She took in her surroundings, making her think about her first date with Jeremy. It flashed through her memory, and a small smile played on Ruby’s lips. That had been the beginning of their relationship. It seemed like so long ago, when really it was just a few months that had passed. That was back when she was happy. When she thought tragedy wouldn’t touch her. She had been very wrong. She didn’t know why she had thought they were safe, despite the murders.
The bartender brought her drink. She thanked him, payed and took a sip from her glass. Her memory flashing back to Jeremy’s funeral. His parents had rushed into town by plane. She had gone to the hospital to meet them. They had to go identify his body. Ruby had waited outside. She couldn’t imagine what they were going through. It was their son, they must have felt a hundred times worse than she did. They had walked out of the morgue sobbing. Mrs. Ashford had collapsed, her legs no longers able to hold her weight. She had retched right there in the middle of the hospital hallway. Her husband had bent down beside her, comforting her as tears streamed down his cheeks.
Ruby had never seen a grown man cry that much. They then had to plan the funeral. They took care of that, and also payed for the whole ceremony. Ruby let them. As much as she cared about Jeremy, she felt like it wasn’t her place to have a say about his burial. Jeremy’s parents had barely said two words to her, too consumed in their grief. Ruby understood. The funeral was heartbreaking, a lot of people had attended. Familiar faces, who gave Ruby their condolences. People she didn’t think she would have to see again at another funeral. Scott’s death was too good to be true. Everyone had let down their guard, including herself.
A wave of sadness hit Ruby, who took another sip of her drink. She focused her attention on the clear liquid inside her glass. Deep in thought. A frown creasing her pretty face. That’s why she was oblivious that someone else had entered the bar, the door swinging shut behind them, until the figure sat on the stool across from her. Calling her name, trying to get her attention. Ruby snapped out of her daze, looking up into the familiar face of Naomi. Ruby wondered what the other girl was doing there, and looked over at her in curiousity with an arched eyebrow. “Naomi?” she said, blinking softly.
“Ruby? I didn’t expect to see you here.” Naomi replied.
“I was walking around, thought I could use a drink.” Ruby explained.
“That makes two of us. I was on my way back from Darcy’s Closet.” Naomi replied.
“Find anything?” Ruby asked.
“Maybe. I need a dress for Darcy’s engagement dinner.” Naomi revealed.
“I can’t believe she and Campbell are getting married!” Ruby explained.
“Must be the spring weather. Seems like everyone is getting married..”Naomi trailed off, noticing the dejected look on Ruby’s face. “Oh god, I’m sorry.” Naomi replied.
“It’s okay.” Ruby replied softly.
“Do you want me to leave? I could go sit at another table.” Naomi asked with a frown.
“I wish you wouldn’t.” Ruby replied.
“How’re you holding up?” Naomi asked, concern glinting in her eyes.
“Not good. I can’t believe Jeremy is gone.” Ruby replied, sniffling.
“Me too. Haven’t the people in this town suffered enough?” Naomi said.
“We have. We’ve suffered too much. And now it could be happening all over again.” Ruby pointed out.
“All of this tragedy because of Scott.” Naomi replied, shaking her head.
“I would have never guessed. He seemed so..” Ruby trailed off.
“Normal?” Naomi asked.
“Yeah. He had us all fooled.” Ruby replied with a nod.
“And I lived with him.” Naomi pointed out.
“What if it’s Brandon? What if he’s getting his revenge now that Scott is dead?” Ruby asked with a shudder of fear.
“If it is, hopefully he’ll be easier to catch than Scott.” Naomi replied with a frown creasing her face.
Ruby took another sip of her drink. “Or what if it’s not Brandon and it’s just some sicko copycat?” she asked.
“Well, from a criminology point of view, not all two people are the same. Whoever it is, may slip up easily and get caught. They may leave behind some sort of evidence. Especially if it’s an amateur.” Naomi explained.
“I see your learning something in school.” Ruby pointed out to the other girl. She flashed a small smile.
Naomi smiled. “I love it.” she said.
Another sip, and Ruby’s drink was finished. The bartenter came over and took the glass. “Thanks for listening.” she told Naomi.
“Oh, it’s no problem at all!” Naomi replied with a light smile.
Ruby looked down at her watch. “I should get going. I want to catch Meredith before she goes over to Adam’s.” she told Naomi.
“You need to find her a better romantic interest.” Naomi replied with a chuckle.
Ruby let out a light laugh. “I’ll see you.” she told Naomi, getting up from her stool and heading for the door.
“Take care.” Naomi replied with a small wave. She turned her attention to the bartender who had come over to her.
A yellow taxi came to a stop at the curb in front of the Raines house. The engine idled before the back door open, and a young woman stepped out. She leaned back into the taxi, and pulled out her suitcase. She placed it down on the curb next to her as she rummaged through her pockets until she pulled out some money. She payed the taxi driver, closing the car door and stepping back onto the sidewalk. With the screech of tires, the taxi sped away. It was off to another location to pick someone else up. The young woman looked around. Taking in the neighbourhood. Nothing seems to have changed. she thought to herself.
Sasha Ferris was not new to town. She wasn’t moving into the Raines household. She was returning to town after being away for three months. She looked up at the house, it had remained the way she had remembered it. She grabbed her suitcase and made her way up the walkway towards the front door. She was returning from Sunnydale, the town where she grew up, and where her parents still lived. She’d gone to help out her mother. It was a mere few months earlier that her father had been diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. He’d been bed-ridden and her mother had been overwhelmed. So Sasha had packed up a suitcase, and had gone to stay with them.
She was glad to be out of West Valley. With the killer lurking around, it wasn’t safe. But she had her own things to worry about. Her father’s health was getting worse, and it was explained by the doctor’s that he didn’t have much time left. A deep sigh escaped Sasha’s lips as she stepped upto the front door, and pulled out her keys. She unlocked the front door and pulled the door open. She stepped inside the house, closing the door behind her as she put down her suitcase on the floor. The house was quiet. At a little past noon, there didn’t seem to be anyone home.
I didn’t tell anyone that I was coming home today. Sasha thought to herself. She was returning back to West Valley because it was now two weeks that her father had passed away. He had succumbed to the brain tumor. He had moved onto the other side with his daughter and wife by his side. It was sad. Sasha and her mother had grieved. They had planned the funeral together. It was at her mother’s request that she return to West Valley. Her mother insisted she was fine. She was sad, but there wasn’t much she could have done. She had been prepared for this to happen since they had discovered that the tumor was inoperable.
Picking up her suitcase off the floor, Sasha headed to her room. She pulled open the bedroom door, and stepped inside. Everything was just how she left it. She put her suitcase down and made her way over to her bed. She lay down on the matress, her hands behind her head as she stared up at the ceiling. She’d heard about the whole fiasco with Scott. She was glad she wasn’t around for that. She was still surprised that he was the killer. They’d gotten along well and were friendly with each other. She never would have guessed that he was a psychopath. That all the people that had died was because of his doing.
With a sigh, Sasha swung her legs out over the edge of the bed, getting to her feet. She made her way over to the dresser, pulling open a drawer and pulling out her underclothes. She closed the dresser drawer and made her way across the room. Exiting out into the hallway. She made her way over to the bathroom, stepping inside and closing the door behind her as she did so. She stared at herself in the mirror before she disrobed. She kicked her clothes over into a corner as she went over to the shower. She stepped inside, and reached out to turn the handles.
The shower came to life, water spraying down on her as she adjusted the temperature. Once it was warm enough, Sasha tilted her head towards the ceiling, letting the water cascade down on her. She reached out and took the soap, lathering it in her hands. After, she shampooed her hair with apricot scented shampoo. She lathered it in her hair before stepping into the stream of water, rinsing out her hair. The bathroom filled with steam, the air hot. Sasha loved it, she didn’t want to get out. Soon enough, she reached out and turned the knobs on the shower wall. The water stopped flowing. She pushed the shower door open and stepped out onto the tiled floor.
She padded over to the door, opening it a crack so the bathroom could air out. She grabbed a towel off the rack, and dried herself off. She reached out and grabbed her underclothes and slipped them on. She went over to the bathroom counter, humming softly to herself. She found the hairdryer, plugging it into the wall and turning it on. She dried off her hair, putting the dryer back down on the counter. She reached over and grabbed some cream, applying it to her arms and legs. She placed it back down on the counter, her eyes falling on the pill container.
Not knowing why, perhaps out of curiosity, she reached out and picked up the container. A frown creased Sasha’s face. There was no name on the label on the container. Who does this belong to? she thought to herself. She turned the container in her hand, and noticed the name of the pills on the label. She read it, and frowned again. She turned and looked over her shoulder. She didn’t want anyone to see her. They’d question why she was holding those pills. She herself wondered how the pills had gotten into the bathroom. And who did they belong to? She read the name on the label once more. She couldn’t help but notice some pills were missing.
“Rohypnol?” she said, staring at her reflection in the mirror. Concern glinted in her eyes.
The Stantons weren’t the only new people in town. It was around dinnertime when the black sports car zoomed up the driveway in front of a house. The engine shut off, the driver side door opening. Beth Myers stepped out onto the pavement, closing the door behind her. She looked up at the house that she had just moved into earlier that day. Her new home. She couldn’t hold back the smile that played on her lips. She’d heard West Valley was the place to move to if you were looking for a fresh start. And that’s what she was looking for. To forget about the past and to look ahead for her future.
At twenty three years old, Beth had moved around a lot. She was born and raised in upstate New York. Once she had turned nineteen, she had moved out of her parents house and had relocated south, to Florida. She stayed there for a year, enjoying the Miami nightlife. After Florida, she moved to New Orleans. She experienced Mardi-Gras, which she loved. She stayed there for six months before she relocated again, this time heading north to the windy city, Chicago. She stayed there for a year, working at a small indie record label. She had even met and fallen in love with someone, a music producer. Who turned out to have a bad cocaine habit.
His habit ended up killing him. He had been found dead from an overdose. The pain of losing him was too much, Beth ended up moving away. She headed west, moving to San Diego. She was there for a year before she had the sudden whim to move again. And that’s how she now found herself in West Valley. The movers had just left when she pulled upto the house. They had set everything up for her. She was satisfied with the job they had done. She had relaxed on her new couch for a while, channel surfing. After, she had gone to do groceries. Once that was done and settled with, she had gone for a drive around the small town.
She liked it, she liked it a lot. There seemed to be something genuine about the town. Yet Beth couldn’t shake an uneasy feeling that seemed to wrap around her. Perhaps it was the look of the people on the street. They seemed nervous, agitated. Always looking over their shoulder. It struck Beth as odd. She pushed those thoughts away as she headed to the front door. Using the key, she unlocked the front door and stepped into the house. She closed the door behind her as she made her way through the house and into the kitchen. What should I make myself for dinner? she thought to herself. Before she could think of an answer, a blast of noise from upstairs suddenly startled her.
A small yelp of surprise escaped Beth’s lips. Her heart hammered in her chest as she realized the noise was the blaring of music coming from somewhere upstairs. For a moment, Beth thought there was something wrong with the house’s wiring. She looked up at the ceiling with a frown creasing her face. She made her way slowly across the kitchen, heading towards the stairs. Something in her mind told her to go check what the commotion was all about, while the other half warned her to run. Yet she kept moving, ascending the stairs slowly, reaching the second floor landing. The music was still blaring, pouring out into the hallway from a closed bedroom door.
Beth went over to the door, gripped the knob, and turned. She pushed the door open and barged into the room. There was someone in there. Before she could see who it was, Beth’s eyes widened as she let out a shriek. The other person turned around, eyes wide in surprise. And let out a shriek as well. The other person had been dancing, interrupted by Beth. Beth suddenly realized she knew the figure who stood before her. She frowned, as the figure went and switched off the soundsystem. They stared at each other in silence. What is he doing here? Beth thought to herself. She was confused.
“Preston? What are you doing here?” Beth asked in disbelief.
“I just got here like half an hour ago!” he answered.
“But I thought you were moving in next week?” Beth asked curiously.
“My schedule freed up so I thought I would come earlier.” Preston explained.
“But how did you get in?” Beth asked curiously.
“Through the kitchen window.” Preston replied sheepishly.
Beth couldn’t help but laugh. Preston was a close friend of her’s that she had met in San Diego. They had met at a Skye Ferreira concert. They had hit it off instantly and when Beth was about to move to West Valley, she had asked Preston to move with her. He had agreed, but he was supposed to arrive a week later. Now, he was there, standing in front of her.
“Did I forget to close the window?” Beth asked.
“Yup! Which, lucky me!” Preston replied.
Beth laughed again. “It’s so great to see you! I can’t believe you’re here!” she said in excitement.
“Me too! We’re gonna have a blast!” he told her.
“So do you like your room?” Beth asked curiously.
“Loves it! I was just testing out the stereo.” Preston explained.
“It scared the crap out of me!” Beth revealed.
“Sorry! You know how I get when I hear Britney songs.” he told her with a chuckle escaping his lips.
Beth laughed. “Wanna come help me prepare dinner?” she asked.
“Sure! I’m starving! What are we making?” Preston asked curiously.
“Homemade sushi rolls!” Beth replied.
“Amazing! Sounds delicious! Let’s go.” Preston replied.
“Our first meal in our new place.” Beth said with a smile.
Julie let out a laugh from her spot on the couch. It was after dinner, the sun setting in the sky. The last rays of sunshine filtered through the window as Julie sat watching television. Her mother was still at work, and her sister Megan was in her bedroom doing her homework for a change. After clearing up the dishes off the table and putting them in the dishwasher, Julie had made her way out of the kitchen and over to sit down on the couch. She grabbed the remote and turned the television on, going through the channels until she came across a rerun of an old Golden Girls episode. She settled back to watch. Her attention on the television screen, unaware of the passing time.
Another laugh escaped Julie’s lips. She reached over, grabbed the remote for the television, and turned up the volume. She placed the remote down next to her when something on the coffee table caught her attention. Her phone, the screen lit up. Julie ticked her gaze back to the television, a smirk playing on her lips. Absently, she reached out and picked up her phone off the table in front of her. She glanced down at the screen, saw she had a text message. Clicking on her phone a few times, the message came up. Julie read it, her eyes widening in surprise. It was a text message from Gwen. It read :
WHERE ARE YOU?
DID YOU FORGET WE WERE SUPPOSED
TO MEET 20 MINUTES AGO?
Julie jumped to her feet. Crap! I completely forgot! she thought to herself. She replied to Gwen’s text, apologizing and telling her she was on her way. She hurried over to the stairs, taking them two at a time as she ascended to the second floor. She went over to Megan’s bedroom door, and pulled it open without knocking first. Megan hated when people would barge into her room, and she looked up, annoyance glinting in her eyes. She sat crosslegged on her bedroom floor, school books strewn around her. Julie explained she was going out, and that their mother would be home in about an hour or so. Once Megan assured her she would be fine, and that she was going to continue on her homework, Julie left.
She hurried back down the stairs and out the front door. She locked the door and hurried down the walkway to the sidewalk. She hoped Gwen wouldn’t be too mad at her. She had forgot, an honest mistake. They had made plans to meet two days earlier. Gwen had told her about art classes that were being offered at the university. Julie thought it could be something to keep her mind off of things. She had agreed to go sign up, which was tonight. Julie would have taken the car if their mother hadn’t taken it to work. So she hurried down the sidewalk, peering down at the time on her phone. She hoped she could make it in time. The university wasn’t exactly nearby.
Being too focused on getting there in time before the signup was done, Julie was oblivious to the fact that she was being followed. A figure stepped out from behind a tree, watching Julie from a distance. Soon, the figure followed, keeping a good distance away, their shoes clicking on the pavement. Up ahead, Julie crossed the street. Unaware of the figure who was watching her. She looked down at her phone screen, and picked up her pace. Which is when she suddenly threw a glance over her shoulder. There was someone there, yards away. Watching her, she could feel the figure’s stare. Julie frowned. She caught sight of a baseball cap and broad shoulders.
Who is that? Julie thought to herself. Was someone following her? Or was it someone who was just out for a walk. There was something about it that made Julie uneasy. She tried pushing away those troubling thoughts as she kept walking, her heels clicking against the sidewalk. A car zoomed past, music blaring out from the open windows. Julie turned to look. It was just some high school kids out joyriding. Probably some of Megan’s classmates. She gazed down the street, the figure was still there. Walking calmly along, watching her. Julie’s breath caught in her throat as she picked up her pace once more. Why was it taking so long to reach the university?
Why is he following me?! Julie thought to herself as she scanned her surroundings. Searching for a shortcut that would lead her to the university quicker. She didn’t see any, and once again looked over her shoulder and saw the man in the baseball cap slowly heading her way. With her heart pounding in her chest, Julie took off, no longer walking. She broke out into a run, her heels slapping against the concrete of the sidewalk. Behind her, she heard a startled shout, and the sound of running footsteps. Eyes wide in terror, Julie realized the man was chasing after her. A scream threatened to escape Julie’s lips as she ran as fast as she could. Heading in the direction of the university.
After a few minutes, which felt like hours to her, the art building came into view in front of her. Chest heaving, gasping for breath, Julie turned around to see if the man was still chasing after her. He wasn’t. The space behind her was empty. A frown creased Julie’s face. Where did he go? she thought to herself. Who was he? And why was he chasing her? What did he want? Julie wished she had the answer. Do I really want to know? she thought to herself. Suddenly, from behind her, a hand came down on her shoulder. This time, she did scream. Letting out a shriek of surprise. She whirled around, and came face to face with Gwen. The other girl had a deep frown on her face, concern glinting in her eyes.
“Gwen! Oh thank god!” Julie said in relief.
“What’s the matter? Are you okay?” Gwen asked.
“Did you see? He was chasing me!” Julie cried.
“Who was?” Gwen asked, concerned.
“A guy! I think. He was wearing a baseball cap.” Julie explained.
Gwen peered into the blue shadows around them. She then ticked her gaze back to Julie. “There’s no one there.” she told her friend.
The front door to the Rayburn house opened, and Jillyan stepped inside. She closed the door behind her and locked it. The house was quiet. Her sister Amy had gone to her pregnant yoga class at the gym downtown. Jillyan smiled. She loved having the house to herself. She could play her music loud, dance around, eat ice cream right out of the carton. A smirk played on her lips as she made her way into the kitchen. She headed over to the fridge, and pulled open the freezer. Inside was a carton of orange swirl ice cream. She pulled out the carton, putting it down on the counter as she went in search of a spoon.
Soon, she was smiling in contempt, a spoonful of ice cream in her hand. She brought it to her mouth. She looked around the kitchen. Outside the window, it was dark. Jillyan had spent most of the day exploring the town. Getting to know the area. She had started by exploring the neighbourhood. She got a sense of where everyone lived, who her neighbours were. She was glad to know that she wasn’t the only teenager on the street. Megan Whitlow lived a few doors down. She hoped she was cool, she was looking forward to meeting her. Eventually, she had found herself standing in front of Darcy’s house. The house had been dark, no one was home.
Jillyan had met Darcy a few times, back when she and her sister Amy were still friends. She thought Darcy was nice. She treated her like a person, not like she was Amy’s annoying little sister. Some of Amy’s others friends didn’t have the patience for her when she was around. After leaving the suburbs, Jillyan had made her way downtown. She had stopped at the park, watching the kids run around on the playground, releasing energy after being cooped up in school all day. Two boys her age zoomed past on skateboards, checking her out. One boy had been so distracted by her, he had ran into a tree. Jillyan couldn’t help but laugh, watching as the boy got back on his skateboard and zoomed away, his cheeks red in embarassment as his friend laughed at him.
Shaking her head, Jillyan had kept walking. Coming across a store who’s sign read DARCY’S CLOSET. It must have been Darcy’s store. So taking a deep breath, Jillyan had headed into the store. The bell over the door had rang, and a smiling blonde had come up to greet her. It was Darcy herself. Once she realized that Jillyan was standing in her store, her eyes had widened in surprise. Jillyan had smiled. Darcy asked what she was doing there and she explained that she lived there now. After her initial shock, Darcy had hugged her and had shown her around the store. Jillyan had seen lots of clothes she had liked, and had made a mental note to return once she had the money.
Once she left the store, Jillyan kept moving down the sidewalk. Taking in her surroundings. She passed by restaurants, bars, a club. Even a gym and a Library. She wasn’t really the read-a-book type, but the gym caught her interest. She wondered how much it cost to make a membership there. She was in fairly good shape, she had a physique that boys went crazy over. She thought back to the boy on the skateboard, and had laughed again. Soon after, she had found herself standing in front of St-Gregory’s Church. She knew Shawn was buried there, and had walked to the back of the property. She was surprised by the amount of graves, all victims of the serial killer. A slow shiver of fear had snaked down her spine as she wandered through the graves until she had found Shawn’s gravestone.
The ringing of the phone snapped her back to the present. She pulled out her phone from her Pocket, accepting the call. She brought the phone upto her ear. “Hello?” she said. Silence on the other end. Breathing. Someone was listening, someone was there.
“Hello?” Jillyan said again with a frown.
A crackle of static, and then someone spoke. The voice distorted. “Welcome to West Valley, Jillyan.” said the voice from the other end of the line.
“Ummm, thanks. Who is this?” she asked curiously as she made her way out of the kitchen and into the living room.
“You have yet to know me.” the voice replied.
“So how did you get this number, then?” Jillyan asked with a frown creasing her forehead.
“I have my ways.” the voice said with a giggle. It sent shivers down Jillyan’s spine.
“Look, I don’t have time for crank calls.” Jillyan said impatiently.
“This is not a crank call. This is the real deal.” the voice growled omniously.
“The real deal?” Jillyan repeated.
“I could be calling you from your front porch.” the voice said.
Jillyan’s eyes widened in fear. She swallowed hard. “Look, I saw that movie, okay? Cut the crap and call someone else!” she replied, trying to stay calm.
“Then you know the next question. Are you alone in the house?” the voice taunted her.
“No. I’m not.” Jillyan lied. She moved over to the window, peering out into the darkness beyond.
“I smell bullshit. I know your sister is at the gym.” the caller said.
“What?” Jillyan said, gripping the phone tighter in her hand.
“Maybe I’m there instead of your front porch. Maybe I’m waiting for her in the shower room. Do you want to find out?” the voice chuckled.
“Leave her alone!” Jillyan cried.
“Maybe I will. If you go outside. I left something for you.” the caller replied.
Jillyan couldn’t help it. She hurried away from the window, making her way across the living room floor and stepped out into the hallway. Making her way over to the front door. She sucked in a deep breath, unlocked it and pulled it open. Stepping out into the night. The darkness seemed to reach out for her. Is he out here? Jillyan thought to herself.
“Once you see what I mean, you’ll know this is the real deal.” the voice said with a chuckle before hanging up the phone.
Jillyan slid her phone back into her pocket, her heart hammering in her chest. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw something on the wall of the house. She turned, eyes widening in fear. Taking a few hesitant steps closer for a better look. A message, scrawled crudely on the wall. It was in that moment that Jillyan knew the phone call was not a prank. She wished it was.