The wind whispered, threats of the horror to come. Thick white fog undulated across the wet grass, almost as if it had a life of it’s own. Something, someone, stood in the darkness of the night. A presence, which seemed to be closing in on Darcy’s home, knowing she was inside. The house was dark, the fog circling around it, thick white clouds. Inside the fog, something stirred. A shadowy blur of movement. It was well past midnight, not a single person in sight. No one dared to venture out of their houses. Not on a night like this. Yet the sound of a door unlocking echoed into the night, the front door of Darcy’s house opening. The young woman stepped outside.
Her eyes scanning the fog that curled around her body, like a snake tightening it’s grip on it’s prey. Without warning, the front door slammed shut behind her. It sounded like a gunshot. Yet Darcy didn’t react. She shivered slightly, dressed in a flimsy white nightshirt, barefoot. Something from outside had stirred her from her sleep. She had heard the slow tapping against her bedroom window. Almost as if against her will, she had gotten up and had made her way out of her bedroom and over to the front door. Now, she stood outside. Aware that there was something in the fog. She could make out the blurry shapes of numerous shadows. There were people in the fog. Their silhouettes elongating and distorting. Darcy couldn’t see their faces, but she listened to their whispers.
They were warning her. To go back into the house. Yet Darcy couldn’t get her legs to cooperate. She remained standing, rooted in place. She blinked softly. Turned to look back at the house, only to discover it was no longer there. An infinite ocean of blackness all around her. And the howling wind, and the thick fog that seemed to be closing in on her. She still didn’t react. Even when suddenly, with a burst of motion, someone was standing before her. She recognized the girl. Skye Cosgrove. She looked like something out of a monster movie. A knife in one eye, her other eye white and milky. Her skin pale green in color. Her black, cracked lips moved, as if she wanted to speak, but no sound escaped.
Instead, Darcy heard the girl’s voice in her mind. Look at me! Don’t I look horrible? Whoever killed me really went to town on the brutality. I’m stuck looking like this. Forever! Skye’s voice echoed through Darcy’s mind. Darcy wanted to reply, to answer the girl standing before her, but couldn’t. It was as if her lips were fused together. They still haven’t found my killer. Will they ever catch him? Or her? Skye asked again. Darcy wished she could answer her. But as quickly as she had appeared, Skye was suddenly gone. She faded away with the sound of the howling wind. Out of the corner of her eye, Darcy saw another shadow gliding upto her. The person came into view. A male. Fresh stab wounds all over his upper body. It was Thomas, Campbell’s brother.
Does my brother miss me? Thomas asked. Just like with Skye, his voice echoed through Darcy’s mind. She was able to nod in reply. Why couldn’t she speak? She found it quite annoying. Yet deep down inside, he’ll never forgive me. Part of him is probably glad I’m dead. You should ask him. He doesn’t miss Robin, why should he miss me? Thomas’ voice echoed through her mind. Surely that wasn’t true. Campbell had been devastated by Thomas’ death. He had lost his only sibling. He had lost his last family member. Robin’s death, on the other hand, didn’t seem to affect Campbell too much. Could he have been glad that she was dead? It stuck a seed of doubt in Darcy’s mind. Would Campbell be honest with her if she would ask him?
And just like that, Thomas dissappeared. He faded into the black ocean of nothingness. Another burst of movement now. Someone erupted from the fog, standing before her. A face Darcy wanted to forget. A face she thought she would never see again. The person who had been behind the killings. Scott. He smirked knowingly at Darcy. Surprise! his voice echoed through her head. Despite the fact that he had been shot to death by the police, his body seemed untouched. Isn’t this wild? Even though I’m dead, you’re still scared of me! he said with glee. Darcy couldn’t admit it, but he was right. She wanted to run, wanted to cover her eyes, to scream. Yet she stood rooted in place. Scott crossed his arms over his chest.
You just can’t stop thinking about me. I’m flattered! Scott said to her. He was right. How did he know that? You think because I’m dead, it’s over? he asked with a smirk on his face. It’s far from over. It’s really just beginning! Everyone is going to die, Darcy! We all do, at point or another. Scott said matter of factly. No, it’s not over. There’s someone else out there. Someone who’s ready to take my place. They killed Jeremy, that was just a warm up. The real terror is about to begin! If I were you, I’d do myself a favor and kill myself. You don’t want to be around for what happens next. Scott told her, a frown creasing his handsome face. Darcy’s eyes widened. Was there really another killer out there? It sure seemed that way. But who was it? Was it someone connected to Scott? Connected to Brandon Covington?
Or was it someone with no ties, who was working on their own. You should kill yourself. Or better yet, let me help! Scott said, his eyes gleaming with glee as he reached out towards Darcy. His hands wrapped around her neck, and he tugged with all this might. With a wet squelch, Darcy’s head detached from her shoulders. Her mouth opened wide in a silent scream of horror. When suddenly, with a gasp, she sat upright. Looked around. She was in her bed, the sheets tangled around her legs. Her heart thundered in her chest, realizing she had been dreaming. No, not dreaming. That was a nightmare. They had returned after Jeremy’s death. Darcy’s eyes scanned the darkness of the bedroom, expecting to see Scott standing in the shadows. The room was empty.
I hope I didn’t wake Campbell. Darcy thought to herself as she turned to the spot next to her. Her breath caught in her throat. Campbell was no longer there. He was spending the night, and they had gone to bed lying next to each other. Darcy turned to look at her bedside clock. It was a little past two in the morning. A deep frown creased her pretty face. She pushed the covers aside and rose to her feet. Where is he? she thought to herself. On bare feet, she padded over to the bedroom door. She reached out and grabbed the knob, turned and pulled the door open. She stepped out into the dark, taking a few steps before her eyes adjusted. There was someone standing in the dark by the kitchen counter.
A shriek of surprise escaped her lips. She couldn’t help it. The nightmare was still fresh in her memory. There was a startled shout as Darcy reached out and flicked on the lights. She blinked against the harsh light and looked over to see Campbell standing by the counter. His eyes wide, she had startled him. He held a fork in one hand, and there was a plate of apple pie on the counter in front of him. Darcy realized she had interrupted Campbell’s late night snack. The look on his face was almost comical. Darcy held back a laugh as she made her way over to Campbell. She grabbed the fork in his hand, dug into the pie and took a bite. Campbell had a sheepish look on his face.
“You caught me. I was hungry.” he explained to Darcy.
“I woke up and you weren’t there.” she told him.
“I didn’t think you’d be waking up anytime soon. Everything okay?” he asked her with concern.
“I had another nightmare.” she explained.
“Another one? Do you want to talk about it?” he asked her.
Darcy shook her head in reply. That was the last thing she wanted to talk about. “I’d rather talk about something happy.” she told him.
“Well our engagement dinner is tomorrow night. That’s happy.” he told her. Darcy flashed him a quick smile. “What’s the guest list again?” he asked her.
“Let’s see. Fallon, Naomi, Warren, Adam, Meredith, and my parents.” she explained.
“Sounds nice and intimate. We’ll have enough room to have the dinner here. If there were more people, I would have looked into having it somewhere bigger like the banquet hall or a restaurant.” Campbell told her.
Darcy frowned slightly. “After what happened with Shawn at the banquet hall, no thanks! And everytime I hear the word restaurant, I think back to Tammy’s attack.” she replied. “I think having it here would be…safer.” she continued.
Campbell nodded. “I think you’re right.” he revealed. “Whatever you decide, I’m okay with.” he told her with a smile.
“Best fiancee ever.” Darcy said, a small smile on her lips as she leaned forward and kissed Campbell.
He wrapped his arms around her and kissed her back. They stood there for a few moments, entangled in each other. They were out of breath once they broke the kiss. A small giggle escaped Darcy’s lips.
“I hope your dad doesn’t get mad seeing me kiss you like that on our wedding day.” Campbell teased with a smirk.
“My mom will cover his eyes.” Darcy joked. Suddenly, Campbell’s face grew serious. “What is it?” Darcy asked with concern.
“I just wish my family could be there. You would have loved my mom and dad.” Campbell explained. His parents had died a few years ago. And now with Thomas dead as well, he had no family left. A pang of sadness hit Darcy.
“I’m sure I would have.” she said softly, reassuring him. Poor Campbell. she thought to herself.
“You’re my family now.” Campbell told her.
“I am! And maybe one day we can have our own little family.” Darcy replied with a smile on her face.
“Wow, kids. I hadn’t thought of that.” he told her.
“Don’t worry. That won’t happen for a while. I want to get married first and enjoy that for a while. Maybe get a bigger house, travel the world.” she reassured him.
Campbell looked less worried now. He smiled at her. “I’ve always wanted to travel to Australia.” he told her.
“And we can do that. It’d be nice to get away from West Valley for a while!” she explained.
Campbell nodded, and let out a yawn. He laughed. “What do you say we pause this conversation for tomorrow and go to bed?” he asked her.
Darcy nodded and turned, leading the way out of the kitchen. She turned off the light as they made their way into the bedroom. They slid into bed, snuggling under the covers. They shared a brief kiss before they closed their eyes. The bedroom was silent. The light of the moon filtered through the blinds. From outside, footsteps approached the house. Campbell and Darcy were unaware of the shadowy figure that slinked out of the darkness. The figure made their way to stand outside the bedroom window, watching the young couple sleep. The figure plotted, waiting for the perfect time to strike.
The rest of the night was uneventful. Soon, the moon was replaced with the sun. The next day dawned clear and warm. There was not a cloud in the clear blue sky. Any evidence that someone had been skulking through the darkness of the night was now gone. The town of West Valley was waking up. People were getting into their cars and heading to work. Dogs were let out, barking excitedly. Children played out in their front yards, waiting for the school bus to come pick them up. Those who didn’t take the bus headed down the sidewalk with their friends. They walked in groups, laughing and teasing each other while carrying their backpacks and lunchboxes.
Those who didn’t have to go to work or school had other plans for the day. Lawnmowers were started up, others sat down on the porch with a good book and a cup of tea. Those were mostly the elderly. They could keep an eye out while the rest of the neighbourhood was away for the day. You still had to be cautious. It was quite possible that there was another killer out there. Jeremy’s killer had yet to be found. It was making people nervous. It made Hanna nervous. She lay in the comfort of her own bed, staring up at the ceiling. Listening to the chirping birds right outside her window. She turned and looked at the time on her bedside clock. School was starting a little later that day.
The end of the school year was near, and today was the first day of exams. Hanna was not stressed. She had studied, was fairly confident that she would pass all her exams with flying colors. With a sigh escaping her lips, she sat up, her eyes focusing on the picture frame next to the clock. A picture of herself and Skye. They had their arms around each other, staring into the camera grinning from ear to ear. Hanna remembered the day they took that picture. It was taken last fall at family picnic day. Good times. Hanna said to herself with a sad smile playing on her lips. She still couldn’t believe Skye was gone. Her best friend was dead. It didn’t feel like two months had passed.
It felt like she had just spoken to Skye yesterday. The vivid memory of the sound of Skye’s laugh flashed through Hanna’s mind. She pushed her bed sheets aside and rose to her feet. She made her way over to her dresser, pulling off her pyjamas and tossing them aside on the floor as she pulled out some clothes from the dresser drawer. With Skye gone, Hanna had now taken her place. She was the new queen bee. The girls who had once followed Skye were now following her. I hope I’m making you proud, Skye. Hanna thought to herself. She made her way out of her bedroom and into the upstairs bathroom. She took a quick shower, not wasting any time under the rushing water before making her way back to her bedroom.
Soon, Hanna was dressed and staring at her reflection in the mirror. A smile of contempt on her face. She turned, striking a few poses before she grabbed her cellphone. There were a few text messages waiting to be read. One from Lori Caliente, one from Ashley Fox, and one from her boyfriend, Paul. Hanna headed down the stairs while she answered. Her stomach grumbling, she headed into the kitchen as she clicked on Paul’s message. Her eyes widened slightly at the picture message he had sent her. A picture of him lifting up his shirt, showing off his abs. A soft giggle escaped Hanna’s lips as she made her way over to the fridge. She pulled the fridge door open, and pulled out a container of yogurt.
Her mind was still on Paul’s picture as she went in search for a bowl. Finding one, she sat down. And looked up at the sound of footsteps. Her mother walked into the kitchen, dressed for work. Hanna smiled. “Morning, mom!” she greeted her.
“Morning, darling.” her mother replied as she made her way over to the coffee machine. Stephanie seemed to have a lot on her mind, she seemed distracted, a frown creasing her forehead.
“Did Quentin get off to school okay?” Hanna asked, making conversation.
“Hmm? Oh yes, he did.” her mother replied as the coffee machine rang. Stephanie grabbed the coffee pot and poured the steaming hot liquid into a cup. Hanna watched curiously as her mother gulped down the coffee, and then poured herself another cup.
“Are you okay, mom?” Hanna asked with a frown.
Her mother turned and looked at her. Saw the serious glint in her daughter’s eyes. Stephanie’s face softened. “I’m fine. Just a little stressed out.” she explained.
“Because of work?” Hanna questioned.
Stephanie nodded. “Spring is here, a lot of events are being planned. There’s just a bit too much on my plate right now at work.” she told Hanna.
“Is there anything I can do to help?” Hanna asked with a frown.
“Don’t worry about me. I approached Dawn Olsen to help me, but she hasn’t gotten back to me yet.” her mother replied. An idea struck her, and she looked over at her daughter. “You go to school with her son, don’t you?” she asked.
“You mean Charlie? Yeah.” Hanna replied with a nod.
“Do you think you could get him to ask her about it? I don’t want to waste my time for nothing if she decides not to help.” Stephanie explained.
“I should see him later. I’ll ask.” Hanna told her.
“Oh! That’s right! Your first exam is today.” her mother suddenly remembered.
“It’ll be a piece of cake.” Hanna replied with a wave of her hand.
“Did you study enough?” her mother asked, arching an eyebrow in her direction.
“All I’ve been doing is studying. Ever since Skye…” Hanna trailed off. Her eyes ticked down with sadness.
“I know. It’s just important to me that you get good grades. You won’t be in high school for much longer. By this time next year, you’ll be graduating.” her mother explained.
“I know. And you want me to be valedictorian.” Hanna pointed out to her.
Her mother smiled, nodding her head. “You can have your fun on the weekends. But during the week you need to focus on your studies.” she told Hanna.
“I know.” Hanna replied in annoyance, rolling her eyes.
Her mother didn’t seem to notice as she grabbed Hanna’s empty bowl and brought it over to the dishwasher. She loaded the bowl inside and turned to look at Hanna with a smile. “How about this weekend you invite Paul over? I’d love to finally meet him.” her mother said.
Again, Paul’s picture flashed through Hanna’s mind. She felt her cheeks redden slightly. “I’ll see if he’s free this weekend.” she told her mom, trying to play it cool.
“You met his parents.” Stephanie said with a fake pout.
“That’s only because his car was in the shop, so they gave him a lift to school.” Hanna pointed out. “And it was a very brief meeting.” she explained.
“What do they do?” Stephanie asked, curiosity glinting in her eyes.
“Mr. Hathaway teaches Industrial Engineering at the university. And Mrs. Hathaway is a Financial Advisor for the First West Valley Bank.” Hanna explained.
“They sound like an interesting family.” her mother replied.
Hanna rolled her eyes, looking over at the kitchen clock. “I ought to get going.” she said, standing up.
She went over and kissed her mother on the cheek. She turned, heels clicking as she made her way out of the kitchen and over to the front door. She turned the knob, pulling it open and stepping out into the sunshine. She closed the door behind her, pulling out her phone and heading for the sidewalk. She text Paul back, explaining how her mother wanted him to come over this weekend. She was so focused on the phone in her hand, that as she stepped onto the sidewalk, she collided with someone. A small shriek of surprise escaped Hanna’s lips as her phone flew out of her hand. She pictured her phone smashing into tiny pieces on the pavement. She watched with helpless eyes as it tumbled towards the ground.
A hand flashed out. Hanna momentarily caught sight of long pink colored nails as the phone dropped into the figure’s outstretched hand. Hanna looked up, ready to complain when she saw the girl who had caught it. She’d never seen her before. She was dressed hip, her long golden hair catching the light of the sun. The girl blinked softly, as if she was surprised that she had caught the phone. And then a satisfied smile played on her lips as she looked the phone over for any scratches before handing it back to Hanna.
“Close call!” the other girl said, the smile still on her face.
“Oh my god! Nice reflexes!” Hanna told her.
The other girl shrugged. “Luckily I’m not a klutz!” she said with a soft laugh.
She’s pretty. Hanna thought to herself. “I don’t know you.” she told the other girl.
“I just moved here. I’m Jillyan Rayburn. You can call me Jill, though.” the girl said, extending her hand.
“Rayburn? As in Amy Rayburn?” Hanna asked with curiosity.
“Yep. She’s my older sister.” Jillyan explained.
“How old are you?” Hanna asked.
“I just turned sixteen a month ago.” Jillyan explained.
“You don’t go to West Valley High?” Hanna asked.
Jillyan shook her head. “I already finished my school year at my old school.” she explained.
“Lucky. So what do you do with your time?” Hanna asked curiously.
“I explore! I help my sister around the house, she’s pregnant. I like to go shop. Take in some movies. Hang out by the pool!” Jillyan replied.
“Awesome. I’m Hanna Workman, by the way.” Hanna said.
“Nice to meet you!” Jillyan replied.
“Unfortunately I’m on my way to school. Exam day. But how about we meet up later? I’ll stop by your house around two?” Hanna said.
Jillyan nodded with a smile. “I’ll be there. Good luck with your exam!” she said.
“It’ll be a piece of cake. See you later!” Hanna said, smiled, and turned. She headed down the sidewalk, her heels clicking as she went.
Scarlett’s presence was greatly missed. That’s what Warren was thinking as he pushed open the front door to the house. He leaned down, picked up the grocery bags, and entered. He shut the door with his foot as he hurried towards the kitchen, one of the bags in his hand threatening to tear. A bag which contained a bottle of red wine for the engagement dinner that night. Phew. Warren thought to himself as he placed the bags down on the kitchen counter. The house was quiet, the girls were at school. Sometimes, Warren would expect to see Scarlett walk into the room, but she never did. She was dead, one of Scott’s victims. It was tough for Warren, being a young widower.
He was now playing the role of both mother and father to Taylor and Kaitlyn. Sometimes, without him asking, Naomi would come over and help. She’d spend time with the girls, keep them distracted. She’d help them with their homework, talk to them about things they didn’t feel comfortable talking about with Warren. She’d help Warren prepare dinner, sometimes she would even stay over for a meal. He must have thanked Naomi a thousand times already. Lately, he found himself thinking about her more. It puzzled him, he wasn’t sure what that was all about. He saw her as a friend. Was his grieving about Scarlett clouding the fact that perhaps there was something more going on between them?
Nothing had occured to make Warren think otherwise. She’s just being friendly. He thought to himself with a frown creasing his forehead. He pushed those thoughts aside as he began unloading the groceries he had bought. He glanced at the clock. It was noon. Warren momentarily worried about if his daughters had eaten their lunch he had prepared for them. It was nothing special. Rice and wheat crackers for Taylor, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for Kaitlyn. A sigh escaped Warren’s lips. He wished he was a better cook. The girls ate anything he made for them, they knew not to complain. But some of the time, the look on their faces said it all. Placing the milk in the fridge, Warren closed the fridge door and thought about his plans for the rest of the day.
He had some time to kill before he would have to go pick up the girls at school. Then, he would drop Taylor off at her girl scouts’ meeting. He’d bring Kaitlyn home, where Shanice Newberry would be waiting for them. She was the girls’ babysitter for the night. She was a student at West Valley High. Then, Warren would get ready for the dinner, and leave to pick up Naomi on the way there. While he was doing that, Shanice was supposed to bring Kaitlyn with her to pick up Taylor once her meeting was done. Busy day. Warren thought to himself as he headed out of the kitchen and made his way to the living room. He made his way across the living room and plopped down on the couch.
He sat back against the soft cushions, making himself comfortable. He picked up the remote control and turned the television on. Flicking through the channels. There didn’t seem to be anything good on at this hour. Just talk shows and some infomercials. With a grumble, he settled with a talk show. That’s when a loud ringing caught his attention. It took him a moment to realize it was the ring of the doorbell. With a frown, Warren stood, muting the television. He made his way out of the living room and into the hallway. He went over to the front door and pulled it open. Looked out at the person standing on the front porch. A small smile broke out on his lips as he looked out at the familiar female.
“Naomi. Hi!” he told her.
“Hey Warren. How’s it going?” Naomi asked him with a smile.
“Not bad. I didn’t expect to see you here. I thought we were meeting later on?” Warren asked, arching an eyebrow.
“We are. I was just out walking, getting some fresh air, thought I’d come and see if you needed help with anything.” Naomi explained.
“Where were you ten minutes ago?” Warren joked lightly. He stepped aside. “It looks like we both have some time to kill. Would you like to come in?” he asked.
“Sure. Thanks.” Naomi said with a smile as she stepped inside the house. Closing the door, Warren lead the way to the living room.
“Have a seat.” he told her as he sat back down on the couch.
“I didn’t know you were a fan of Dr. Oz.” Naomi said, looking over at the television screen, the sound was still muted.
Warren felt his cheeks flush red as he grabbed the remote and turned the television off. “Nothing good on at this hour.” he told her.
A small giggle escaped Naomi’s lips. “I was just teasing. You can watch whatever you want.” she told him.
Warren chuckled softly. There was an awkward silence. He cleared his throat. “So, are you looking forward to tonight?” he asked her, trying to make conversation.
Naomi nodded. “I got this great dress.” she said, excitement glinting in her eyes.
Another moment of silence. Naomi was looking at him with a smile on her lips. Her lips that he wanted to kiss. Before he could stop himself, Warren leaned forward. Closing his eyes as he felt her lips on his. She was returning the kiss, not pushing him away like he was expecting her to. Finally, he broke the kiss, pulling away.
“Wow. That was…” Naomi trailed off, blushing.
“I’m sorry!” Warren said with wide eyes.
Naomi laughed. “Don’t be! Don’t worry about it.” she told him. She got to her feet. “I should head back and get ready though. I’ll see you later?” she asked him.
Warren got to his feet and walked her to the front door. He pulled the door open. “Yeah. I’ll pass by around six thirty to pick you up.” he told her.
“Great. Can’t wait. And don’t worry about the kiss. It was.. nice.” she told him with a reassuring smile playing on her face. She waved and headed down the walkway towards the sidewalk.
What was that? Warren said, a deep frown creasing his face as he closed the front door.
It was a little before four when a car came to a halt at the curb in front of Surge. The engine turned off, the driver side door opening as Christy Whitlow stepped out. She closed the door behind her and locked it as she made her way around the front of the car. She stepped onto the curb, looking up at the building. She was coming into work, her shift was about to start. Ellie had spent the morning and the early afternoon working, now it was Christy’s turn. Ellie had gone to pick up her son at school, and then was heading home. Christy went over to put some change into the parking meter. I hope it’s a quiet night. she thought to herself as she headed for the door.
Christy looked down at her outfit as she pushed the door open and stepped inside Surge. Her daughter Megan had helped her pick out what she was wearing. It wasn’t anything too extreme, considering Megan herself dressed a little uncommon than other people. Christy shrugged as she looked around the club. There was only one bartender working behind the bar. Christy counted four patrons, most of them sitting at the bar with a drink in their hands. It seemed like things were going slow at that moment. Christy waved at the bartender as she made her way across the floor. Heading for the stairs that lead up to the office upstairs.
Christy ascended the stairs, reaching the second floor landing. She made her way over to the office, pulling open the door. She made her way over to the desk, pulling the chair back and sitting down. She went through the mail on the desk, mostly bills, nothing interesting. She reached over and clicked on the computer. While it loaded, her mind wandered. She thought of her other daughter, Julie. A few days ago, her daughter had come to talk to her, worried. Julie had explained that someone had followed her. She didn’t know who it was, only that it was a man whose face was hidden behind a baseball cap. Christy didn’t know if she should take it seriously or not.
Perhaps Julie had jumped to conclusions. After everything that had happened, she had every right to be worried. Especially since Scott had targeted their family. Both Megan and Julie had been attacked, Harrison had been killed. Christy turned to look at the picture frame on her desk. A picture of Harrison and the girls. She didn’t know who had taken the picture, but it had been taken while she was living away from West Valley. In the picture, all three were smiling at the camera. They all looked happy. A pang of sadness hit Christy. She missed Harrison. He was the father of their children. The only way to see him now was to visit his grave.
With a sigh escaping her lips, Christy focused once more on what Julie had told her. About the man who had followed her. Maybe it was just a coincidence. Or maybe there was something more sinister at hand. If someone was focusing on her daughter, maybe it was better to get the police involved. Harrison had been on the force. She knew most of the officers and detectives personally. They’d drive by the house every once in a while, just to keep an eye out on them. Christy appreciated it. It made her feel somewhat safer. Christy turned to focus on the computer screen as it finally loaded up. She clicked a few keys on the keyboard, bringing up her email.
Before she could open her email, the computer beeped and a private message came up. A frown creased Christy’s face as she read the message.
2NDKILLER: Hello, Ms. Whitlow.
The user name sent a shiver of fear snaking down Christy’s spine, yet she couldn’t help but respond.
2NDKILLER: Having fun at work?
CHRISTYWHITLOW: How do you know where I am?
2NDKILLER: I know and see all!
CHRISTYWHITLOW: Who is this?
2NDKILLER: My screen name is pretty self-explanatory, don’t you think?
CHRISTYWHITLOW: Not funny. I can report you to the police.
2NDKILLER: Try it, and you and your daughters are dead!
Christy’s pulse kicked up a notch. Whoever it was, was threatening her now.
CHRISTYWHITLOW: Threatening me and my family will only make things worse for you.
2NDKILLER: And it’ll only make things more interesting for me.
CHRISTYWHITLOW: Have you been following my daughter around?
2NDKILLER: Maybe, maybe not.
CHRISTYWHITLOW: Leave her alone! Leave all of us alone! Hasn’t this town suffered enough?
2NDKILLER: Lol! No. It hasn’t!
CHRISTYWHITLOW: So many people have died.
2NDKILLER: And so many people will keep dying.
CHRISTYWHITLOW: You don’t have to do this.
2NDKILLER: I WANT to do this!
CHRISTYWHITLOW: Why? What do you have to gain?
2NDKILLER: To see this town know the meaning of true suffering.
CHRISTYWHITLOW: But it does!
2NDKILLER: Last time with Scott Emerson was a joke. By the time I’m done with you all, there’ll be nothing left of West Valley.
With that, the other user logged off. Turning off the computer, Christy rose from her chair, her heart pounding. She gulped down a lump in her throat, looking around the room helplessly.
It wasn’t long after that, that things seemed to have calmed down. While Christy was trying to focus on work, some others were out enjoying the day. The front door to the Stanton house opened, and Joanna stepped outside into the warm sunshine. She closed the door behind her as she went to sit down on the porch chair that overlooked the front lawn. A small smile of contempt played on her face. So far, life in West Valley seemed promising. Her day had gone fairly well. Now, she could sit back and enjoy. Barry was still at work, and Travis and Carly were home from school. They were inside the house, doing their homework.
Joanna wanted to enjoy what sunlight was left before it turned dark. She took in a deep breath of warm air. She waved at someone walking by on the sidewalk. Whatever fears she had had about moving to a new town had now dissappeared. While still being cautious, people had made her feel welcome. Some of the neighbours had even came to introduce themselves. She’d met the Whitlow family. She had met Amy Rayburn, but not her younger sister Jillyan, who was Carly’s age. She had met Olivia and Edwin Cosgrove. And finally, she had met Darcy Adkins and her fiancee, Campbell Roe. Everyone she had met were warm and welcoming. The only ones who seemed a little hesitant, also a bit distant, were the Cosgroves.
Joanna understood though, they had lost their teenage daughter. She couldn’t imagine what they were going through, even though it had happened almost three months earlier. It made Joanna worry about her teenage kids. She couldn’t imagine what it would be like if something happened to Carly or Travis. Please keep my kids safe. she thought to herself. The whole Stanton family were aware of what had happened in the town of West Valley. It was now upto them to keep vigilant. The last murder had occured a few days before they had arrived to town. There were no signs or warnings that it would happen again. While the town was being cautious, no one seemed to be too overly worried. People were still living their lives.
In a way, Joanna understood. You just had to keep on living. You couldn’t just drop everything and live in fear because someone around you was going to die. Sure, it was tragic and the victims didn’t deserve it. But the killings were at random, who was to say that it would even be someone you knew? A slight frown creased Joanna’s pretty face as she thought of that. Yet it doesn’t hurt to be careful. she thought to herself. Her frown dissappeared when she heard the front door open. She looked up to see Carly stepped outside, closing the door behind her. Joanna smiled softly. Her daughter looked great, dressed in a short sundress under a denim jacket. Carly walked across the porch to stand next to her.
“Finished your homework?” Joanna asked curiously.
“I did. Travis still has more.” Carly replied.
“How was school?” Joanna asked.
“Not bad, actually.” her daughter revealed.
“Are you getting to know some of your classmates?” Joanna questioned with an arched eyebrow.
“Some. I’ve met Paul Hathaway, Noelle Perrin, Ashley and Zoey Fox, Austin Boswell, and Hanna Workman. Who apparently, is the Queen Bee of West Valley High.” Carly explained.
“They still have Queen Bee’s?” Joanna asked curiously.
“Yes, mom.” Carly replied with a giggle. “I know you haven’t been in school for like a hundred years, but some things haven’t changed since your day.” she said with a smirk.
“Hey! I know this is hard to believe, but I was the queen bee in my day!” Joanna said.
“Really?” Carly asked, her eyes widening slightly in surprise.
“Mmhm. I was head cheerleader. I was prom queen. I had a big circle of friends.” Joanna replied, a far away look in her eyes, remembering when she was Carly’s age.
“But you’re so nice.” Carly pointed out.
“Just because you’re popular doesn’t mean you have to be bitchy.” Joanna explained.
“I’ll keep that in mind.” Carly said with a slight smile on her lips. “But I’ll see you later.” she told her mother.
“Where are you off to?” Joanna asked.
“Some cafe downtown. Noelle invited me today in school.” Carly explained.
“Well, alright. Don’t be home too late.” Joanna told her daughter.
“I won’t! Promise. See you later!” Carly said with a wave as she headed down the porch steps and made her way to the sidewalk.
Joanna sat back against the porch chair, watching her daughter dissappear from view. I’m glad she’s making friends. she thought to herself with a smile. She raised her face towards the sky, letting the sun rays warm her face. Unaware that she was being watched. Not far from where she sat, a shadowy figure, dressed all in black, observed her. Plotting. Imagining Joanna with her throat slashed, blood pumping profusely from the wound. The figure almost laughed at how unaware Joanna was about what, or who, was lurking just beyond eyesight. If only she would turn around. Yet she kept her eyes closed, her head tilted towards the sun.
No. The figure decided it was not Joanna’s time yet. He, or she, would toy with her first. Let her realize that something was amiss. As quick as the figure had appeared, it stepped back, back into the bushes, dissappearing from sight. Joanna never knowing how close danger was.
Meredith ran the nude colored lipstick over her lips. The finishing touch to her outfit. She placed the cap back on, putting the lipstick down on the dresser top as she went to look at her reflection in the full length mirror. She turned this way and that way, observing her appearance. The time had come for Darcy’s engagement party dinner. Adam was on his way to pick her up very shortly. Meredith was excited. It wasn’t every day that she got invited to an engagement. She loved weddings, and this was just the first step to Darcy and Campbell’s wedding day. Maybe one day I’ll be getting married. Meredith thought to herself. She looked at her reflection one last time.
Meredith turned and made her way across Ruby’s bedroom and out into the hallway. She closed the bedroom door behind her as she headed for the stairs. Ruby was somewhere in the house, wanting to be alone. Meredith descended the stairs to the main floor of the house, her eyes ticking over to the lone figure sitting on the couch. It was Ruby, sitting there in silence. She was staring off into space, hadn’t even looked up when Meredith walked into the room. She seemed lost in her thoughts, her troubles reflected in her eyes. Meredith had a feeling Ruby was thinking about Jeremy. With a small smile on her face, Meredith went to sit down next to her friend.
“Are you sure you’ll be okay here?” Meredith asked with concern.
Ruby snapped out of her daze, looking over at Meredith. “I’ll be fine.” she replied.
“I feel bad for leaving.” Meredith revealed.
“Don’t be! I’m going to read a book or take a nice hot bubble bath.” Ruby explained.
“You could always come with us. I don’t think Darcy would mind.” Meredith said.
“I’m not really in the mood to be around people today.” Ruby said, blinking softly.
“I thought you were doing better? About Jeremy.” Meredith asked, arching an eyebrow.
“I thought so too, but who am I kidding?” Ruby replied softly, blinking back tears that threatened to cascade down her cheeks.
Meredith reached over and grabbed some tissues, handing them to her friend. Ruby dabbed at her eyes, she sniffled. “I don’t know if I should go to the dinner. I think you need me here.” she told Ruby.
“You can’t cancel like that last minute! It’s really rude. Besides, isn’t Adam already on his way over?” Ruby asked.
“He is. But I can always tell him I changed my mind.” Meredith explained.
“I forbid you to stay here! Go! Have fun, for once.” Ruby said with a small smile.
“Fine. Alright! But can I make you something before I go? A cup of tea?” Meredith asked, getting to her feet.
“I’m good.” Ruby answered. Suddenly, from outside, they heard the honk of a car horn. “Your boyfriend is here.” she told Meredith.
“So much for cancelling.” Meredith replied, bending down and hugging Ruby. She straightened up.
“Have fun!” Ruby called out as Meredith headed for the door.
She pulled the door open, stepping outside, and closed the door behind her as she did so. Adam honked the horn again, wildly this time, and waved. With a smile, Meredith headed off the front porch and down towards the waiting car.
It was finally here. The engagement dinner. Darcy’s heart raced, not out of fear, but out of excitement. She and Campbell had spent the whole day cleaning the house, and rearranging the furniture. Her house was on the small side, and she wanted everyone to fit. Her nightmare of the night earlier was now a distant memory. She was happy, she couldn’t stop smiling. She just knew the night was going to run smoothly. She didn’t have to worry about much. They had hired a caterer for the dinner. Danika Muniz, a well known caterer who had her own company. She was usually hard to get, but since she was a regular customer at Darcy’s store, she had cleared her schedule for that night.
Danika was to be the first to arrive, before the guests. She and Darcy had come up with a non-traditional meal. They wanted for it to be different. They wanted to surprise the guests. Darcy had thought of it herself, and had brought it to Danika’s attention. She thought it was a genius idea and had agreed. When do you ever see sandwiches and fries at an engagement dinner? Darcy thought to herself. She took one last look around the house. It was perfect. Still smiling, she went over and turned on the stereo. Soon, classical music floated out of the speakers. She went over to the window, looking out at the setting sun in the sky. She moved away from the window, pacing. The dinner was to start at seven.
There wasn’t much longer now. Darcy made her way towards the table to sit down. She had to stop pacing, or else she would drive herself mad. She pulled the chair back and sat. Drumming her nails on the tabletop. I hope Danika didn’t forget. she thought to herself, a slight frown creasing her pretty face. She looked up at the sound of a door opening. It was just Campbell. He had finally changed into fancier clothes. Darcy’s heart skipped a beat. He looked amazing. He smiled at her, letting out a whistle when he saw her own outfit. She had made the dress herself. A small giggle escaped her lips as he went to sit down next to her.
“That dress! How am I going to keep my hands off of you tonight?” he said with a smirk.
“By reminding yourself that my parents are here!” Darcy replied with a laugh escaping her lips.
“Spoil my fun.” Campbell replied with puppy dog eyes.
“It can wait until they’re all gone.” Darcy said seductively, running her hand softly against Campbell’s arm. She batted her eyelashes at him.
“Great! Because we’ll be waking up the neighbours.” Campbell said with a wink.
Darcy giggled. “You bet.” she told him.
She leaned in, and their lips met. The kiss intense. But the ringing of the doorbell interrupted them. Campbell grumbled to himself while Darcy hopped to her feet. She made her way over to the front door, and pulled it open. Standing on the front porch was Danika Muniz. And right behind her, making their way up the walkway, were Darcy’s parents.
“Mom! Dad!” Darcy greeted them, as Danika hurried inside to the kitchen and got to preparing the meal.
“Hi sweetheart!” her mother said, hugging her. Darcy turned and hugged her father.
“I’m so glad you’re here! Come on in!” Darcy said, stepping aside so her parents could enter the house.
“It’s so clean!” her mother said with approval, looking around.
“We scrubbed from top to bottom.” Campbell said, walking up with a smile. He hugged Mrs. Adkins, and shook Mr. Adkins’ hand.
“I can tell.” Mr. Adkins replied with a smile before Campbell lead him towards the couch.
“They’re going to talk sports.” Darcy said to her mother with a chuckle.
“Well then, let’s leave them to that. Let me see that ring again!” Mrs. Adkins said. With a wide smile, Darcy held up her hand. “Absolutely breathtaking! Campbell’s a keeper.” her mother replied with a smile.
“I realized that the moment we met.” Darcy said proudly, her eyes glowing.
“You mean when he saved you from suffocating to death in that bathroom?” her mother asked, pursing her lips. Darcy could have died. she thought to herself.
“I was really lucky that he was there. Anyway, that’s history! What’s past is past.” Darcy reassured her mother.
“Yes, but imagine when your children ask how their parents met.” Mrs. Adkins said with wide eyes.
Darcy couldn’t help laughing. Before she could reply, there was a knock at the door. “More guests!” she said, hurrying over to the front door and pulling it open.
“Congratulations!” Meredith said from the front porch. Adam stood next to her. Darcy hugged them both and stepped aside so they could enter the house.
“Thanks guys!” Darcy said, closing the door behind them.
“You have a nice place!” Adam told Darcy.
“Thanks! Feel free to mingle, I’ll be right back!” Darcy said, hurrying towards the kitchen.
Meredith and Adam stood by the window. “Oh my gosh! That’s Danika Muniz!” Meredith squealed in delight.
Ten minutes later, Fallon, Warren and Naomi had arrived. Everyone stood around, mingling, talking, laughing. Some watched Danika preparing the food, in awe at how good it looked. Darcy was one of them, but she turned, smiling. She made her way over to Fallon, who was sitting in a chair. Her friend looked up at her with a smile.
“How did you get Danika Muniz! You never told me she was catering!” Fallon said.
“She’s a fan of Darcy’s Closet.” Darcy replied with a slight shrug. She laughed.
“I heard she charges a fortune!” Fallon said with wide eyes.
“Yeah, it’s a good thing I save my money!” Darcy replied.
“Is she going to cater the wedding?” Fallon asked curiously.
“I’m planning on asking her after the party’s done.” Darcy replied with a smirk.
“Wow. Your wedding is going to be amazing!” Fallon said.
“I can’t wait! I’m starting to work on my wedding dress.” Darcy told her friend.
Before Fallon could reply, Warren walked up to them. “Thanks for inviting me!” he told Darcy.
“No problem!” Darcy replied.
“Did you see the looks Warren and Naomi have been giving each other? Do you think there’s something going on between them?” Fallon asked in a whisper as she rose from her chair.
Darcy turned to look at Warren. Had he heard Fallon? No, it didn’t seem like it. Darcy looked back at Fallon and shrugged. “I’ll try to keep an eye out.” she told her friend.
“Can I have your attention please?” a voice called out. The room went quiet. It was Campbell. “Before anything, I just want to say thank you all for coming!” he told the guests. “Dinner will be served shortly, but I think we should play a few games before.” he explained.
“Did you know about this?” Darcy asked Fallon with a smirk.
“Not at all!” Fallon replied.
“So the first game, is for my fiancee.” Campbell revealed.
“For me?” Darcy asked with an arched eyebrow.
“It’s a treasure hunt. Somewhere outside are the keys to a brand new car, which is parked down the street.” Campbell revealed.
Darcy squealed in delight. “You got me a car?!” she asked Campbell.
“The keys are hidden somewhere outside. Find them, and the car is yours. An engagement present.” Campbell told her.
“Can I marry him too?” Warren called out. Everyone laughed.
“You have two minutes to find the keys. GO!” Campbell told Darcy.
The guests cheered her on as Darcy ran for the front door. She pulled it open, and stepped outside, closing the door behind her. The guests continued mingling, talking, laughing. Surprised that Campbell had gotten Darcy a car as an engagement gift. Campbell smiled to himself. He was sure she would find the keys. He had made it easy for her to find, he had left them inside of the mailbox. He went over to the kitchen counter and poured himself a glass of wine. He took a sip, arching an eyebrow. Darcy had yet to return. Is she having trouble finding them? he thought to himself. He had taken a few steps forward when the door suddenly flew open. Naomi let out a gasp of surprise, and then laughed. It was just Darcy, coming back inside.
Campbell frowned. Instead of walking back in, Darcy was stumbling, the door slamming shut behind her. She was clutching her stomach, her eyes wide. At first, Campbell thought she had a stomach ache. But then he saw the look of terror in her eyes. Campbell’s breath caught in his throat as he took another step towards her. That’s when she lowered her hands, and Campbell saw the bright crimson blood pouring down the front of her dress. Someone screamed now. Campbell was too focused on Darcy, he couldn’t tell who it was. All around, people were reacting. He heard loud gasps of surprise. All he could do was stare at Darcy and at the deep stab wound in her stomach. She wobbled, as if her legs could no longer hold her up anymore. Someone else screamed.
“Hel..He…Help m…m..me” Darcy was able to gasp out before she collapsed to the floor.