If you asked someone if they wanted to visit the small town of West Valley, the reply was always the same. An enthusiastic no. So much had happened there. So many had died. It was a surprise that there was anyone left alive. That the surviving townspeople hadn’t packed up their belongings and left. However,things in West Valley had calmed down. Which was hard to believe. Four whole months had passed without a death, without a threatening phone call. There had been no sight of the killer either. No shadowy figure stalking the townspeople in a black hooded cloak. Four months was enough time for people to get on with their lives. And they had. Summer had passed, and now it was autumn in West Valley. Not that the weather had changed much.
It was another beautiful warm and sunny day. It was early morning. People were getting ready, having breakfast before heading out to work or school. Car engines were started up. Dogs were being walked, their tails wagging with excitement. Grade school kids were hopping onto the school bus. Some were being driven by their parents. All signs seemed to point out that it was just another regular day. West Valley could have been any other average small town. Even though life had resumed for the townspeople, they were still being cautious. Suddenly, the silence in front of the Cosgrove home was broken by the front door opening. Jillyan Rayburn stepped out onto the front porch, closing the door behind her.
She headed down the steps, making her way down the walkway towards the sidewalk. She was headed off to school, humming softly to herself.
“Jillyan!” a voice called out from behind her. She turned around, her sister Amy was standing on the porch, waving at her.
“What is it? What’s wrong?” Jillyan replied, worry glinting in her eyes as she turned and hurried back up to where her sister was. For a moment, she thought it was time for Amy to give birth. Her due date was within the next few days.
“You forgot your lunch.” Amy replied with a small smile as she handed a brown paper bag to Jillyan.
“My mind was elsewhere, sorry.” Jillyan replied sheepishly.
She gave Amy a quick peck on the cheek before she made her way back towards the sidewalk. A glance over her shoulder revealed that Amy was watching her. Jillyan felt a pang of guilt. She had almost killed her sister. And her unborn child. She had been tripping on pills when she had set the house on fire. It had burnt to the ground. With Amy still inside. Luckily, the firemen had arrived and had been able to save her life. The house had been completely destroyed. It was now just an empty lot with overgrown grass. Jillyan had avoided walking past it. She always reminded herself not to go into that certain area of the neighborhood. It was just an ugly reminder of what she had done.
She had let the drugs take over. She had gotten them from someone she considered a friend. Ex friend now. she thought to herself with a frown creasing her face. Even though they were both in the same school, in the same classes, Jillyan did not speak to Karina anymore. Not only because things had gotten out of control, but also because Amy had forbidden it. Family was much more important than friends, so Jillyan had obeyed her sister’s choice. Amy had a life growing inside of her, she would have never forgiven herself if they had both perished in the fire. Karina had tried talking to her, but Jillyan had given her the cold shoulder. Even Amy had spoken to Karina, and to her parents. She had given them quite an earful.
Eventually, Karina stopped trying to speak to Jillyan. It’s better this way. she thought to herself as she headed down the sidewalk. Her heels clicking on the pavement. She had made other friends despite her falling out with Karina. There was Carly Stanton, Megan Whitlow, Gideon Lin, Molly Fyres. A new school year meant new friends, new beginnings. Even a new house. After their old house burnt down, Amy had bought the Cosgrove house. It wasn’t like Olivia lived there anymore. She was in jail for at least five years for tax evasion and withholding evidence. She wasn’t going to be getting out anytime soon. Jillyan loved the new house, especially her new room. It used to belong to Skye Cosgrove, but they renovated the bedroom and some other parts of the house to their own liking.
Jillyan’s friends were always impressed when they came into her bedroom. They said it was funky. That’s what she was going for. She wanted her room to reflect how she was as a person. She didn’t want it to be bland and boring like how Skye had hers. She stopped at the corner of the curb to check both sides of the street before she crossed. She was almost at school now. Some of her fellow classmates zoomed past her on their bikes or skateboards. She frowned, she didn’t know how skateboards were still a trend in West Valley. Only some of her classmates had cars. Some of them had recently only got their licenses, and they had gotten brand new cars from their parents. Eventually, Jillyan would have liked to have had a car of her own one day.
Hopefully that day would come soon. She had her learner’s permit, which was a start. Only she couldn’t drive a car alone. Someone with a license had to be with her at all times if she were to drive. Maybe I can ask Hanna to help. she thought to herself. Hanna was the only person she could think of that had her license for quite some time already. She also had a car of her own. For a second Jillyan wished that her mother would just hand her a car. But her mother didn’t even live in West Valley. She had come to visit over the summer, getting news about what had happened. Of course she had come in a hurry. She was worried about her youngest daughter. Jillyan had always been a good person. Maybe it was the stress of the killer still on the loose that had turned her to try drugs.
Or maybe I was tired of always being the goody two-shoes. she thought with a frown. As she approached the school, she could see the sign about the homecoming dance. It was being held next week in the gym. Jillyan wanted to attend, even though no one had asked her to be their date. Which was fine by her. She made a mental reminder to ask Amy if she was allowed to go. She hoped she would say yes. She wanted to get dressed up in a nice dress and have fun with her friends. It was something to look forward to. A small smile played on her lips as she ducked out of the way of some students playing Frisbee on the school’s front lawn. For the second time that morning, she heard someone calling her name. For a brief moment, she thought Amy had followed her to school.
Jillyan turned around. It wasn’t Amy at all. It was Megan. Jillyan was still in awe of Megan’s makeover. It was Hanna’s doing. Jillyan remembered what Megan used to look like when she had first met her. It was like a completely different person now. And Megan didn’t seem to mind it. She was more popular now than she had ever been. Jillyan stopped, waiting for Megan to catch up. Which took a few moments considering the height of the heels Megan was wearing. Jillyan arched an eyebrow towards the other girl. Soon enough the other girl caught up with her.
“Megan! You look super glam today! What’s the occasion?” she asked.
“Did you forget? They’re going to announce the nominees for homecoming queen today!” Megan replied.
“I doubt I’ll be chosen. You, on the other hand…” Jillyan trailed off, flashing Megan a wide smile.
“What if I’m one of the nominees? Hanna heard a rumor I was.” Megan said, wringing her hands.
“How is Hanna? And everything that happened with her mom?” Jillyan asked, her face going serious.
“Her mom is trying to deal with it. I mean, she knew who the guy was and she reported it right away. He’s in jail. He’s probably prison pen pals with Olivia Cosgrove.” Megan replied with a small chuckle.
Jillyan shook her head. “I still can’t believe he raped her.” she said with a grimace.
“As if the murders weren’t enough.” Megan replied, tucking a strand of hair behind her ear.
“Meredith Dupree almost didn’t make it. I can’t believe Ruby Fleming is dead! She was nice.” Jillyan said.
“Do you really think Darcy did it? They’re saying she freaked out and snapped.” Megan said as they headed towards the doors to the school.
“I have no idea. She’s been locked up in the institution since that night. She hasn’t said a word since then either.” Jillyan replied with a shrug.
Both girls looked up as the bell rang. “Let’s get to class.” Megan said as they pushed open the school doors and hurried inside.
Four months. Four months had passed and still no answers. Who took the money? Christy Whitlow thought to herself as she headed down the walkway to the sidewalk. It was a question she asked herself every day since she had discovered it was missing. She hadn’t even realized the money had been delivered by the bank. Nor had Ellie. Eventually, they had gotten a phone call. It was sometime in the afternoon. Christy had been sitting at her desk in the office at Surge when the phone had rang. She had picked it up, it was the bank on the other end of the line. It was an employee, asking if the money in the bag that had been delivered had been enough. Christy had no clue what the employee was talking about, a frown creasing her pretty face. They explained that they had dropped off money and had left it in the office.
Christy told them she’d back to them. She had hung up the phone and had turned the office upside down. There was no bag of money. Not even in the safe, which she checked. A feeling of unease had washed over her as she had headed out of the office and downstairs to the main floor of the club. She asked one of the bartenders if he had seen the people from the bank come in. He had nodded and said yes, he had given them the okay to go upstairs. She told him that the money was missing. She had asked him if he had seen anyone suspicious hanging around, but he hadn’t. He was worried that he was in trouble, which Christy had reassured him he wasn’t. Maybe the money had just been misplaced. At least that’s what she had hoped had happened. She found out soon enough that was not the case.
She had waited until Ellie had come into work. She had decided against calling her and causing her to panic. But once she had walked into Surge, Christy had pulled her aside. She casually mentioned what had happened, trying to stay calm. Ellie had a lot on her mind. Both her parents were dead. Her ex boyfriend had taken her son for a few months. She didn’t know when he was going to return. She had expressed her concerns that he wouldn’t return her son at all. But he was safe being away from West Valley. In that way, Ellie was less worried. Even little kids had a chance of being in danger. Warren Biggs’ daughter had been kidnapped not long after the murders had started.
Once Christy had told her, Ellie had hurried to take a look at the cameras. She watched them thoroughly, nothing out of the ordinary caught their eye. Christy hoped the money would be returned. Even though months had passed. We need a miracle. she thought to herself as she crossed the street. She was heading downtown to work. She would have driven, but Julie had needed the car. She didn’t mind walking. It was another beautiful day, the birds chirping happily in the trees above her head. West Valley had quieted down, which was a surprise to her. It had been months of silence ever since Darcy had been committed to the mental institution. There was no sign of the killer since then either. Christy didn’t know what to believe. Perhaps Darcy was the killer after all.
Unless that’s what the killer had wanted. To have Darcy locked away. Perhaps that was the end game. Now that it had worked, the killer had stopped terrorizing the small town. It was a possibility. They had suffered enough. Including Christy’s own family. They were finally able to move on. Christy was focused on work, and both her daughters were in school. She was particularly happy that Julie was back in university and studying law. Megan was in her junior year of high school. She’d be graduating next year. She was proud of them both. They had both been through so much. She had never expected them to be so strong and resilient. She wasn’t quite sure where they had gotten that from. Maybe from their father. They had both been terrorized by the killer.
Megan had even encountered the killer last year. She had been at the end of one of his attacks. And she had taken him on. Escaping with her life. Perhaps it had been luck. Or because she was resourceful. In a way, Christy was proud of her. Her family had to fend for themselves while she had been away. She had abandoned her family. She was ashamed of doing that. But she was back now. She had returned into their lives once Harrison had been killed. And she had settled herself in as if nothing had happened. Megan had resented her at first, but that didn’t last long. Julie was beyond happy that she was back. For she had taken on the mother role while she was away. As she headed for Surge, she heard the honk of a horn as a car pulled up next to her. A familiar face smiled at her from inside.
It was Fallon, who asked her if she needed a lift. Christy stepped up to the car window. She politely declined. Asked Fallon where she was off to. Some small talk to get caught up. A serious expression fell onto the other’s girl face. She was off to visit Darcy at the mental institution. A new one called Garden View just on the outskirts of town. It had opened not long ago. For the old institution where Brandon had once stayed had been finally torn down. It had been where Thomas Roe, Campbell’s brother had been attacked and killed. Fallon had been there herself when it had happened. They had gone searching for answers. No one had expected the killer to be there, waiting for them. Thomas hadn’t made it out alive. Christy had heard about it through the news and from the people in the town.
Saying goodbye and watching Fallon drive away, Christy kept walking. Soon enough she found herself downtown. Speaking of Darcy, she walked by the boutique she co-owned with Jane Porter. Jane was taking care of the store while Darcy was… unavailable. Jane had her own company before, so Christy doubted she was swamped with work. She was probably used to it. It seemed to be running smoothly without Darcy. Christy made a mental reminder to drop by later on and see Jane. She liked her. For a pretty famous designer, she was down to earth. Christy tilted her head towards the sun as she kept walking, taking a deep breath. Soon enough she was pulling open the door to Surge, and stepping inside. For a brief moment she hoped there was good news about the missing money.
“There you are.” said a voice. Christy looked up. It was Ellie. By the tone of the other girl’s voice, she knew there was no news.
“Ellie. You changed your hair. When did you do that?” she asked curiously.
“Yesterday. After work. I thought it would cheer me up.” Ellie explained with a frown.
“I like it. You can always rock any color.” Christy replied with a small smile.
Ellie flashed a brief smile. She pulled out her phone, looking down at the screen. She seemed distracted. She noticed Christy gazing at her curiously. “I’m waiting for a phone call. From Gage. He text me earlier saying he had something important to ask me.” she explained.
“Nice to see you guys are keeping it civil.” Christy said with a nod.
“He has Tyson, so I have no choice. As much as I always want to tell him off.” Ellie replied with a smirk on her lips.
“He can’t be that bad if Tyson is safe.” Christy pointed out.
“At least he’s good for that.” Ellie said. Suddenly, the phone rang in her hand. She looked down at the screen. “It’s him. I gotta take this. Do me a favor and go double check the inventory? With this missing money ordeal, I’m starting to get paranoid.” she explained.
“Sure.” Christy replied, nodding.
“Thanks.” Ellie said before answering the call. “What do you want?” she said into the phone as she walked away.
Christy shook her head, a small smile playing on her lips before turning and heading towards the storage room.
Kendall still felt like a stranger in the town of West Valley. Even if the townspeople had make her feel welcome. Her half-sister Dawn Olsen had done the same, accepting her into the family right away. She was staying with them, it had been months now. She had her own room and she could borrow the car whenever she wanted. It was a little different from the life she lived back in her hometown of Bayrock. By the age of eighteen she had moved out of her parents house. Adoptive parents. Kendall thought to herself with a deep frown creasing her pretty face. She had found out a few months prior that Trudi and Marcus Ford were not who they said they were. They were not who she believed them to be for the past twenty four years of her life. They were not her biological parents.
Just the thought of it still made her stomach upset. Would they have ever told her if she had never found out the way she did? That her real parents were Regina Olsen and Stuart Covington from West Valley, a small town thousand of miles south from Bayrock. She had found out from a phone call. Kendall remembered every detail of it as if it had happened only yesterday. She had returned home to her loft apartment from doing the groceries when her cell phone had rang. Fumbling to put the paper bags down on the kitchen counter, she had slid out her phone, looking down at the screen. She had expected it to be her best friend, Phoebe Aldrich calling. They spoke on the phone every day. UNKNOWN was flashing on the screen instead. Kendall had answered, not knowing what she was getting herself into.
On the other end of the line came a burst of static. And then a voice, unfamiliar and distorted had begun speaking. As far as Kendall knew, the caller was a man. At least that’s what it had sounded like to her. She wasn’t entirely sure. It could have also been a woman, disguising her voice. The conversation was short, but eye-opening. The caller on the other end of the line wouldn’t give their name, but they seemed to know a lot about Kendall. Where she went to school, where she lived, who her parents were. But then the caller had revealed that they weren’t her real parents. Kendall had protested they were, but the caller had planted that seed of doubt in her mind. She had originally been born in West Valley, and she had a half sister who lived there.
Both her biological parents were dead, victims to gruesome murders. She had remembered seeing the news report about Regina Olsen’s death on the television one night while she was entertaining a group of friends. Back then, she had thought nothing of it. But being on the phone, it had made her start to wonder. The anonymous caller had told her she should go to West Valley. To reconnect with her real family. She had no idea that Dawn was trying to find her, that she had also recently discovered that she had a younger sister somewhere out there. Only Dawn had less information than she had. She had no idea where her sister could be, who she was, if she was even alive. Kendall had been hesitant to reach out right away, instead she had confronted her adoptive parents.
They were shocked she had found out, but Trudi and Marcus Ford told her everything they knew. Which wasn’t much. They knew who her real parents were. And that they had found her in the town orphanage right there in Bayrock. They were going to tell her one day, but with everything that had happened in West Valley, they decided it was best that she didn’t associate herself with it and the people there. Look how that turned out. she thought to herself, rolling her eyes in annoyance. It was once that she had heard about the death of Dawn’s son, Charlie, that she had finally made up her mind. She was going to travel to West Valley, and she was going to meet her real family. She felt like they needed her now more than ever. So much tragedy had befallen them.
So one morning, after packing a bag, she got Phoebe to drive her to the bus station. There, Kendall had bought a ticket to West Valley. Phoebe tried to talk her out of it the whole time, but once Kendall’s mind was set, there was nothing anyone could do to get her to change it. She promised her friend that she would take care of herself. That she would be extra cautious in West Valley. That she wouldn’t let her guard down. There was a killer out there, after all. She had a can of pepper spray in her bag, just in case. Once the bus had pulled up, Kendall had given her friend a tight hug and promised to call once she had arrived. She had gotten onto the bus, sitting at the back, her duffel bag at her feet. She had scanned her surroundings, the bus was almost empty. She figured not many people wanted to travel to West Valley.
The bus ride had been uneventful. Kendall had even fallen asleep for some time. By the time she had woken up, they were a few minutes away from arriving to the West Valley bus station. It seemed like a quaint little town from outside the window. Soon enough, she found herself stepping off the bus and onto the concrete in front of the station. It had been a beautiful day, the sun shining high in a cloudless blue sky. Grabbing her bag, Kendall made her way into the bus station. She went over to the information counter and asked how to get to the Olsen’s house. The clerk behind the counter had given her a curious look, as if to ask why she was asking about the Olsen’s when Charlie Olsen had just been killed. Kendall had found herself explaining that she was just a relative who was visiting.
Soon enough she was walking through town with directions on a piece of paper clutched in her hand. In the daylight, West Valley didn’t seem that bad. She wondered what it was like once the sun went down. Was it just as nice or did it seem more imposing in the dark? I’ll find out. she had thought to herself. Soon enough, she found herself standing on the curb in front of the Olsen’s house. Her eyes widened in surprise at the size of it. They must have been rich. It was probably a house with many bedrooms and many bathrooms. A contrast to the house she had grown up in. It was a modest one floor house with two bedrooms and two bathrooms. It was a good thing Kendall had been an only child. She didn’t have to share a bedroom or a bathroom with a sibling.
With a deep breath, she had headed up to the porch and had knocked on the front door. Butterflies fluttered nervously in her stomach as she had took a step back from the door. A few moments later the door opened, and she was staring at a pleasant looking woman. She figured that was Dawn, but she wasn’t sure. Despite looking pleasant, the woman’s eyes gleamed dully. As if she had experienced some sort of tragedy. It didn’t take long to realize that was Dawn. Kendall introduced herself as her sister. They had embraced, a tight hug in the open doorway. After stepping aside, Dawn had invited her in. With her duffel bag in her hand, Kendall had made her way into the house. It was spacious and well decorated inside. It felt unfamiliar, but homey.
She was impressed. She had turned to Dawn and told her she had a lovely home. Dawn had smiled thinly, thanking her. She lead her into the kitchen, where Dawn got her a glass of water. It was then that Kendall had met the rest of the family. Michael, Dawn’s brother. He was around her age, she realized. His wife, Claire. Who Kendall liked immediately. She was surprised to find out she had younger nephew, Finn. She thought Charlie was the only child. She didn’t get to meet Charlie, which saddened her. But there was plenty of pictures of him around the house. There were also pictures of Regina, her birth mother. Kendall had felt a pang of sadness. She wished she could have met her. She wished she could have held her tight. But it was just not possible.
Snapping back to the present, Kendall picked up a picture frame from the dresser top. It was a picture of Regina when she was younger. Kendall couldn’t help but smile. It was probably her favorite picture of her birth mother. In the picture, a younger Regina stood next to a rose bush. She looked like a model, smelling the roses. Kendall traced her fingernail lightly against the glass. She wished Regina was still alive. Dawn had told her plenty of stories about her. Including the story of the picture that Kendall liked so much. With a sad sigh escaping her lips, Kendall put the picture frame back on top of the dresser. She made her way across the bedroom and out into the hallway. From downstairs, she could hear the television. She made her way down the stairs to the main floor of the house. She followed the sound of the television, stepping into the living room.
Dawn was sitting on the couch, watching a soap opera. She smiled at Kendall as she entered the room. She took in Kendall’s appearance. Kendall knew she seemed a little overdressed to just be lounging at home. But soon she would be on her way to a job interview. She had to be dressed to impress. It wasn’t some babysitting job where she could show up to the interview dressed in over-all’s. She had an interview with Jane Porter. THE Jane Porter. She was looking for employees at her store. With Darcy locked away in the mental institution, Jane needed help with her business. Kendall had applied online, and to her surprise, she had gotten a call back for an interview! Considering she had been in West Valley for four months now, she thought looking for a job was the best plan of action.
“You look nice.” Dawn said, turning away from the television to look at Kendall.
“I look nice but I feel so nervous! I have a job interview.” Kendall explained to her sister.
“Oh! Where?” Dawn asked in surprise.
“At Jane Porter’s and Darcy’s store.” Kendall said proudly.
“That’s great! I heard Jane needed some help.” Dawn revealed.
“You know her a little bit. What is she like?” Kendall asked.
“She’s not what she seems. She’s not one of those snobby designers. She’s actually nice, she just expects nothing but the best from her workers.” Dawn replied.
“I just hope, if I get the job, that she won’t get rid of me once Darcy returns. IF she returns.” Kendall corrected herself, smoothing her hair back.
Dawn shrugged. “I don’t know what’s going on with Darcy. I do know that she would never hurt anyone. Hopefully things with her get straightened out soon.” she replied.
“I just hope I get hired. I don’t want you to feel like I’m freeloading off you and your family.” Kendall said sheepishly.
“Oh, don’t think that. We’re all happy to have you here.” Dawn replied with a reassuring smile.
Kendall smiled back and looked over at the clock. “I should get going if I don’t want to be late!” she said. “See you later!” she called out as she hurried for the front door.
“Good luck! Don’t worry, I’m sure you’ll get the job!” Dawn called out after her as the front door closed behind Kendall.
Click. Click. Perfectly manicured nails pressed down on the computer mouse. A search engine appeared on the computer screen. PSYCHOSOMATIC AMNESIA was typed into the search engine. Meredith sat at the computer, the sound of her typing breaking the silence of the house around her. She stared at the computer screen as a list of results came up. She clicked on one of the links, a new page opening up. A look of determination glinted in Meredith’s eyes. A soft sigh escaped from between her glossed lips as she read the words on the screen. Read them until they became a blur in front of her. She wanted to remember what had happened that night. The night that Ruby had been killed. The night that they had both been attacked in Darcy’s living room. By Darcy herself, apparently.
Meredith had survived. Ruby had not. Meredith blinked back tears that threatened to run down her cheeks. She focused on the computer screen in front of her. She kept replaying the parts of that night that she could remember. She and Ruby crossing the street to where Darcy and Campbell lived. Ruby’s laugh echoing in the night air around them as Meredith had cracked a joke. The red nail polish on Ruby’s index finger as she rang the doorbell. The glint of her bracelet in the porch light. Try to remember. Meredith thought to herself as she shifted her weight in the chair underneath her. She remembered Darcy opening the front door, flashing a dazzling smile to them. No indication on her face that later on that night she would attack them both with a knife.
Meredith winced lightly, placing a hand over her stomach. The sudden throbbing of the scar there was the constant reminder of what had happened. She had been in the hospital for over a month. Healing, recuperating. She thought she would never see the day when she was released from the hospital. It finally came, which was a relief. But she went home to an empty house. Ruby had not survived. She had died almost instantly that night in Darcy’s living room. Her wounds were far more serious than Meredith’s. For a while, the doctors and nurses didn’t think Meredith herself wouldn’t survive. But fate had other plans for her. She had made it. She was alive and breathing, yet she still couldn’t remember what had happened. What had caused Darcy to snap and attack them.
Meredith got to her feet, pushing the computer chair back. She paced the area in front of the desk, wringing her hands as she did so. She remembered the television playing at Darcy’s. She remembered Campbell and Fallon were also there with them. Fallon and Campbell had stepped outside to have a cigarette. She and Ruby were still inside the living room with Darcy, sitting on the couch and talking. Something on the television had caught Darcy’s attention, making her laugh. Meredith remembered turning towards Darcy, a small smile on her lips. And then the shattering of glass. She remembered jumping up from her spot on the couch and then…nothing. She couldn’t remember anything from then until the day she had woken up in a hospital bed.
The stay in the hospital, that she remembered. She remembered gaining consciousness, blinking against the harsh overhead lights. She remembered the dull ache in her stomach, her wound stitched up. She remembered trying to talk, her mouth so dry that all that came out was a few strangled wheezes. She remembered the two figures at her bedside. Once they came into focus, she had realized it was her parents. They both looked down at her with worried expressions on their faces. They looked like they hadn’t slept in weeks, their clothes crumpled and their hair disheveled. Seeing them there, she knew something horrible had happened. Her mother had buzzed in a nurse, who also seemed relieved that she was awake. She called in a doctor, who began fussing over Meredith.
She remembered asking about Ruby. She was her best friend, after all. That’s when they told her. Hearing the news, Meredith felt like she had been hit by a truck. Despite the dryness of her mouth, she let out an inhuman wail of grief. Her parents held both her hands as she sobbed loudly and freely. Once Meredith’s sobs had quieted down to sniffles, that’s when her parents had told her about Darcy. It seemed like she had snapped and had attacked them both. Hearing the screams, Campbell and Fallon had ran back inside. Both Meredith and Ruby were lying in puddles of their own blood. There were blood splatters even on the walls. And Darcy, emerging from the shadows, covered in their blood, a blood stained knife clutched tightly in her hand.
That night was the last time I saw Darcy. Meredith thought to herself. From what she was told, Darcy had shut down. She was completely unresponsive and had been sent away to a mental institution. She was probably in a state of shock, never uttering a word since that night. Until she finally spoke, Darcy wouldn’t be released. All suspicion was on her. Meredith wished she could remember. Maybe she could clear Darcy’s name. She didn’t think Darcy would intentionally hurt her and Ruby. Meredith felt like there was more to the story. She wished she go talk to Darcy, but she wasn’t allowed visitors. Immediate family only, which meant Campbell and Darcy’s mother, who had returned to town once she had heard about her daughter being hauled away to a mental institution.
A knock at the door snapped Meredith back to the present. A slight frown creased her pretty face as she made her way over to the front door. She wasn’t expecting company. She peered out through the glass in the front door, recognizing who was standing on the front porch. With a small smile on her lips, she unlocked the door and pulled it open, revealing Naomi Givens standing on the other side.
“Surprise.” Naomi said with a small smirk.
“Naomi! I wasn’t expecting you.” Meredith said as she stepped aside, letting Naomi into the house. She closed the door and locked it behind her friend.
“I hope you don’t mind.” Naomi replied. “I realized it’s been a few weeks since I last came to see you.” she explained.
“It’s nice to see you. Can I get you something to drink? Water? Ice tea??” Meredith asked.
“Ice tea would be great, thanks.” Naomi replied as Meredith hurried into the kitchen.
She returned a few moments later with two glasses of iced tea. She saw Naomi was standing by the computer. She turned when she heard her come in. “Sorry. I guess I was snooping. Psychosomatic amnesia?” Naomi asked with an arched eyebrow.
“Yeah. I’m just trying to remember what happened that night.” Meredith replied as she set the two glasses down on the coffee table. She sat down on the couch.
“Your memory still hasn’t come back, huh?” Naomi asked sympathetically as she sat down next to Meredith.
“I feel like it needs to. Fallon and Campbell were outside. Ruby… can’t help us. I feel like I’m the only one that can clear Darcy’s name.” Meredith explained.
“I don’t think she did it. But she could have snapped. All these bad things keep happening to her.” Naomi pointed out.
“And yet nothing bad has happened since she was admitted. No threatening phone calls, no murders. Not even a sight of the killer.” Meredith replied.
“Well we did lose a lot of people we cared about these past few months. Charlie Olsen, Gwen, Ruby.” Naomi said.
“I’m sorry about Gwen. How is it living with just you and Fallon now?” Meredith asked.
“Peaceful and quiet. But I have a feeling that wont last long. The killer is still out there. Somewhere. I just wish we knew what his, or her, next move is going to be.” Naomi replied.
“Hopefully nothing.” Meredith said.
“Yeah. Hopefully.” Naomi repeated, worry glinting in her eyes.
Stephanie squeezed her eyes shut, trying to scream. Yet nothing came out. She could feel the weight of the body on top of her. The uneven concrete biting into her bare back below her. She opened her eyes, staring past the shadowy figure that held her down. Staring up at the full moon in the dark velvet sky above. An icy cold, iron grip held her arm down at her side. She tried screaming again, trying to make a sound. Still nothing. She ticked her gaze back at the shadowy figure that held her down. Slowly, the figure came into view. A familiar face. The face of her coworker, Mitchell. Stephanie realized what was happening, and where she was. She was back in that alleyway in downtown West Valley. She was reliving the events of that night.
The night Mitchell had raped her. What started out as an innocent dinner date had ended in Stephanie being assaulted. She had no idea what was going to happen. If so, she would have cancelled. Yet it was a nice feeling, being asked out. She hadn’t gone on a date in a long time. Her husband Frankie, was dead. Murdered. She hadn’t met anyone since then. So she thought it would have been nice to spend the night out with her coworker. She didn’t know him very well but figured it would be a good opportunity to get to know him more. And she lived to regret it. It was one of the worst nights of her life. The other being the night she had found out that Frankie had been murdered by the West Valley killer. She struggled against Mitchell, trying to break free from his grasp.
She stared up at him with wide eyes. Suddenly, his face began to change before her. His skin turned a pale shade of green, his eyes rolling in the back of his head until only the whites showed. His mouth opened, growing impossibly wide. His teeth, once perfect and gleaming white were now yellowed fangs. A strand of saliva escaped from his between his lips and hit Stephanie full in the face. She squeezed her eyes shut, turning her head away from the terrifying sight. His grip tightened around her wrist, breaking the bone underneath. Stephanie tried to scream once more but couldn’t find her voice. She opened her eyes as Mitchell’s face loomed in closer towards hers. With a startled scream, Stephanie awoke. Looking around to realize she was safe and sound on her living room couch.
I must have fallen asleep. she thought to herself, scanning her surroundings with a worried glance. It was just a nightmare. After coming home from work, she had changed into more comfortable clothes and had gone to sit in the living room. She must have dozed off while watching television. She looked over to see the television was still on, but muted. With a sigh escaping her lips, she grabbed the remote and turned the television off. She got to her feet, rubbing the back of her neck. She made her way over to the window and gazed outside. The sun was setting in the sky. Soon dusk would be falling onto the town of West Valley. Stephanie turned away from the window and made her way out of the living room. Making her way into the kitchen, she noticed the house was unusually quiet.
She looked over at the clock on the stove. It was half past six. Even though school had started up again, the kids were usually home by that hour. Stephanie pulled out her phone. There was a text message from Hanna. She was staying after school to celebrate, she had been nominated for homecoming queen. Stephanie smiled softly to herself as she text Hanna a reply. Her daughter was the most popular girl in school. She was the Queen Bee, people looked up to her. It was Hanna’s last year of high school, she might as well enjoy it because in a few months, senior year would be coming to an end. And then she’ll be heading to college. Stephanie thought. She wondered if Hanna would attend the community college or leave town. Secretly, she hoped her daughter would stay in town.
Thinking about Hanna, Stephanie wondered where Quintin was. A slight frown creased her face. She went over to look at the calendar on the fridge. He had a math tutoring session after school. That was today? I completely forgot! Stephanie thought to herself. She remembered now. He would get a lift home from his tutor. Stephanie didn’t have to go pick him up. Feeling relieved, Stephanie began to make dinner. The kids were always hungry when they got home from school. After a few minutes of pondering, she decided she was going to make salmon with spices. Humming softly to herself, she puttered around the kitchen. Soon, the scent of salmon filled up the kitchen as Stephanie took a deep breath. It smelled delicious. As the salmon cooked, she made herself a drink.
Stephanie poured herself a glass of her favorite white wine. It was Olivia’s favorite as well. She couldn’t believe that Olivia had been arrested. That she would be behind bars for five years. Stephanie took a sip from her wine and placed the glass down on the kitchen counter. She had gone to see Olivia during the summer. She had gone three times. But she hadn’t visited since. It was long drive to Orlyn Women’s Correctional Facility. Maybe I should think about visiting soon. Stephanie thought to herself. It was ironic, two women she knew were locked up. Olivia, and Darcy Adkins. With Olivia, Stephanie knew she was guilty. But Darcy? She wasn’t so sure. She knew Darcy, and she wasn’t the murderer type. Perhaps it was just a whole big misunderstanding.
Stephanie took another sip from her wine. Mitchell was also behind bars. She wasn’t going to let him get away with it. He raped her, he violated her. He belonged locked up, to rot in a jail cell. She had not gone to visit him, that was for sure. And she didn’t plan to. The events of that night flashed through her mind again. After he was done, Mitchell had ran off. Stephanie picked herself up off the dirty concrete of the alleyway. She was crying, shaking. Her skirt was torn up the side, one of the straps of her top was missing. She had stumbled out of the alleyway, feeling sick to her stomach. She needed help, needed to get the police. So she had gone into Surge. No matter what time of the day it was, there was always someone there. If she couldn’t, someone would call the police for her.
Once she had stumbled inside, she was relieved to see Ellie standing nearby. The other girl took one look at her and hurried over. Asking what was wrong. It took a few tries, but Stephanie finally told her what happened. She would always remember the look on Ellie’s face. The other girl brought her upstairs to her office, sitting her down in a chair and handing her a glass of water before she called the police to report what had happened. The police came and took her statement while other police officers went to arrest Mitchell. After a short visit to the hospital, Stephanie joined the police at the station. She had to identify Mitchell from behind a two way mirror. He couldn’t see her but she could see him. He looked terrified, knowing he had made a huge mistake by violating her.
That was the last time she saw him. He was in jail and she was trying to move on with her life. People were there to support her. Even her daughter Hanna. Quintin was too young to know what was going on. She had never even mentioned to him that something had happened. Whenever he was around, she pushed it to the back of her mind and focused on being a good mother. Even Olivia had been sympathetic when she had told her. That was a change. At one point she and Olivia were always competing against each other. However now, they were decent towards each other. I wouldn’t say we’re the bestest of friends. she thought to herself. She couldn’t stop the small chuckle that escaped from between her lips. She grabbed her glass of wine and took another sip.
She went over to the stove. The salmon was done cooking. The kitchen smelled delicious. Turning the stove off, Stephanie went to set the table. For a brief moment, she thought of Frankie. He loved her cooking. A small pang of sadness hit her. She still missed her husband. Even though he had been dead for over a year, she still thought about him every day. It was easier now, to accept that he was gone and never coming back. But there was no one else like him and she didn’t think she would ever marry again. Once she was done setting the table, she went back over to the stove. Thanksgiving was coming up soon. Maybe I should host a thanksgiving dinner. she thought to herself. It sounded like a good idea, to throw a thanksgiving feast. She reminded herself to ask Hanna’s opinion about it when she got home later on.
As Stephanie reached out for the frying pan, she stopped dead in her tracks. And listened. There was a noise. She couldn’t tell where it came from, but it was somewhere nearby. Maybe outside? she thought with a small frown creasing her forehead. She stood in the middle of the kitchen, listening carefully. Had Quintin or Hanna come home? Stephanie made her way out of the kitchen and into the front hallway. Slowly making her way over to the front door. She peered through the glass of the door. The front porch was empty. No sign of anyone. There was no car in front of the house either. For a brief moment Stephanie thought Quintin was getting dropped off. But the front lawn was empty, the grass swaying lightly in the breeze. Stephanie reached out and unlocked the front door.
She pulled the door open. For a brief moment she thought Mitchell was going to pop out at her. She flashed back to her nightmare. She shivered, an icy feeling sliding slowly down her spine. She shook her head, clearing the troubling thoughts away. There was no way Mitchell was going to pop out at her. He was in jail. He wasn’t going to be released anytime soon. Stephanie took a few steps out onto the front porch. She almost called out but decided against it. If there was someone out there, she didn’t want to draw attention to herself. If it wasn’t Mitchell, was it the killer? Was Stephanie the next target? She almost turned and ran inside but stood her ground. The killer hadn’t been heard from in four months. She was just letting her imagination get the best of her.
She took one last glance around before she turned and headed back inside. She closed the door behind her, making sure she locked it before she headed back into the kitchen. She tried to ignore the uneasy feeling that seemed to cling to her. She hummed softly to herself as she grabbed the frying pan and placed the salmon into the three plates set on the dining room table. Bringing the empty pan back into the kitchen, she placed it down on the counter. She ticked her gaze to the clock on the stove, she hoped Hanna and Quintin would be home soon. She grabbed her glass of wine and took another sip. She realized it was done, she had finished her glass. She refilled her glass and took another sip when suddenly, she heard a key turning in the front door.
Stephanie made her way out of the kitchen and into the front hall as Quintin came through the front door. A sense of relief washed over her. She watched in amusement as he turned, waved out the front door before closing it. He locked it, dropping his school bag down.
“Hi, mommy! I’m home!” he told her with a smile.
“I see that! How was your day?” she asked him as he ran over and gave her a hug.
“It was a long day! But I did really well with my math tutor!” Quintin explained.
“Great! After dinner you can show me what you learnt.” Stephanie said with a smile.
“And can I play PS4 after that?” he asked in a hopeful tone.
“We’ll see. Now go get washed up before dinner.” Stephanie told him.
“Okay! …. Oh! I almost forgot! I have a message for you!” Quintin told her.
“From Mister Potter?” Stephanie asked, referring to Quintin’s tutor.
“No! From the man in the hood.” Quintin replied.
“What man in the hood?” Stephanie asked with a frown.
“The man that was hiding behind the tree in our front yard when I just got dropped off.” Quintin said, pointing towards the front door.
“Someone was outside?!” Stephanie asked, her eyes wide in surprise.
“Yup! And he said to give my mommy a message. His voice sounded funny.” Quintin pointed out.
The uneasy feeling wrapped itself tighter around Stephanie. It felt like she could barely breathe. “What was the message?” she asked.
“He said “SOON!”” Quintin replied with a wide smile.
Somewhere deep inside Briarview Sanitarium, a loud scream rang out. A mixture of madness and pain. Darcy heard it from her own room, yet she didn’t react to it. She didn’t react to a lot of things these past few months. Not since that night in her living room. It was as if she had shut down. She could still hear and see what was going on around her, but her face remained blank. There was no expression there. She couldn’t bring herself to speak, either. It was as if she was locked away in her own body. She ticked her gaze to the door of her room. To the security camera above it. She could walk out whenever she pleased, she wasn’t considered a threat to herself or to the other patients. She just didn’t want to. It felt safer there, in her room. Away from all the other patients who were actually crazy.
Like Sarah Morgan, from across the hall. It was her scream that had echoed through the hallway just moments before. It happened every night, like clockwork. During the day she was quiet and serene. At night, it was a different story. She was agitated and maniacal. It was scary to think, but Darcy had grown used to it. Sarah was around her age, maybe a few years older. She had been committed to Briarview two years earlier. She had been part of a cult. At one of their meetings, her fellow cult members had all killed themselves in front of her. Sarah had been driven mad by the experience. Darcy would have felt sorry for her, if she could feel anything at all. There was no more emotion inside of her, all that was left was a hollow void.
As if she knew Darcy was thinking about her, Sarah let out another scream from her room across the hall. She heard the jingling of keys, which meant a guard was going to check on Sarah. They were probably going to give her something to calm her down. Or put her in solitary confinement. Those padded rooms were soundproof, so Sarah could scream all she wanted. And she wouldn’t disturb the other patients. There was quite a lot of them. The women took up one section of the sanitarium while the men took up the other. They were not allowed to fraternize, which meant Darcy was stuck with the women, one more crazy than the other. There was nothing glamorous about Briarview, despite the pamphlets calling it a safe and reliable environment.
This was Darcy’s second stay in an institution. The first time had been when she was a child. It was back then that Brandon Covington had set his sights on her. She had been committed back then by a misunderstanding as well. Darcy almost chuckled. Funny how life can come back full circle. She didn’t belong in the institution back then and she didn’t belong at Briarview now. She wondered if Brandon knew about her whereabouts. He was out there, somewhere. Maybe this was his doing. Maybe it was his plan all along. To keep testing Darcy’s limits until she finally snapped. She wasn’t going to. She was stronger than that. Yet everyone had thought she had. It could have been possible that she had indeed snapped, and had attacked Ruby Fleming and Meredith Dupree.
But she hadn’t. She remembered everything about that night. Fallon and Campbell had stepped outside for a cigarette. She sat on the couch next to Ruby and Meredith. They were talking, laughing. Enjoying themselves. That’s when suddenly, the living room window shattered. Darcy remembered gasping and jumping to her feet as a shadowy figured stepped through the broken window. She could have reacted faster, but she was caught by surprise. Ruby and Meredith jumped off the couch. The figure in the black cloak moved quickly with deadly precision. In two bounds, the figure had stabbed Meredith. Gushing blood, she dropped to the living room floor. Before Ruby and Darcy could protest, the figure had turned and stabbed Ruby as well, only more viciously.
Darcy remembered Ruby dropping to her knees, the life quickly fading from her eyes as she stared at her, realizing she was dying. Blood splattered the walls as Ruby suddenly pitched forward, falling face down onto the floor. Blood pooled out from under her body, a crimson lake forming on the living room floor. Darcy couldn’t believe what was happening. And for a brief moment, her life flashed before her eyes. She was sure she was going to be killed too. She remembered squeezing her eyes shut tight as the killer suddenly grabbed her and slammed her into the corner of the room. Her life had come to an end. But no, instead she had opened her eyes as she felt the handle of the knife in her hand. She clutched it tightly, ready to protect herself from the killer.
But he, or she, never attacked. Instead, they turned on their heels and dove out the broken living room window. Disappearing back into the night. Darcy heard the back door opening, the sound of running footsteps. Campbell and Fallon ran into the room, stopping in their tracks as they both let out cries of surprise. They stared at the bloody scene before them with wide eyes. Fallon was kneeling down next to Meredith. Darcy remembered hearing her say Meredith was alive. But it was different for Ruby. Campbell had said she was dead. As she shut down, Darcy remembered taking a few steps out of the shadowy corner of the living room. Campbell was yelling at her, asking her what she had done. She couldn’t reply, she just stared blankly ahead, the bloody knife in her hand.
She got to her feet and began pacing the length of her room. She remembered that Campbell had no choice but to call the police. They had arrived at the house quickly, along with an ambulance and the coroner van. Darcy wanted to protest, to say something, but couldn’t find her voice. She had watched helplessly as Meredith had been loaded up into the ambulance, it’s siren screaming as it raced for the hospital. She remembered watching the coroner load Ruby’s body into the back of his van. He had wheeled her out in a black body bag. As for Darcy, her hands were forced behind her back as she was handcuffed and lead into the back of a police car. Even though she was innocent, she didn’t struggle. Campbell followed behind them in his own car as they raced to the police station.
Once at the police station, it didn’t take long for them to decide it was best if Darcy was locked away at Briarview Sanitarium. Two days later, she was being escorted up the steps of the building by a policeman and Campbell. Her husband had taken care of the paperwork while she sat quietly, blinking softly. She would never forget the look on Campbell’s face. He looked defeated, as if he had failed her. When in fact, it was she who had failed him. She knew she was stronger than this, yet she had let the killer win. Whoever it was, must have been happy that she was out of the picture. But now, four months later, she had discovered that the killer had disappeared since that night. The town of West Valley was able to go back to living their lives. There were no more threats, no more murders.
There was also no more screaming from across the hall. A small sigh of relief, barely audible, escaped Darcy’s lips. She ticked her gaze to the door of her room. A guard peeked in through the window of her door. Probably checking to see if she was asleep. It was too early for her to be sleeping, for the clock in the room revealed it was a little past nine. She stared up at the small window in the wall high above her. She could see a sliver of the moon in the night sky. If she had wanted to escape, the window was no use to her. Not only was she on the fourth floor of the building, the window was too small for her to fit through. Yet something urged her to head for the door of her room once she heard the guard walk away. She waited a minute before she reached out, grabbed the doorknob and pushed the door open.
The hallway was quiet as Darcy stuck her head out. She looked both ways. No sign of any guards. Slowly, she stepped out into the hall. From where she stood, she could see the nurse’s station. She could see only one nurse behind the desk. It was Nurse Deborah Steele. She was probably in her early sixties, overweight and doughy with her jet black hair pulled back in a tight bun. Darcy was not a fan. She watched as Nurse Steele typed furiously on the computer in front of her. Darcy looked around, trying to figure out a way to distract the nurse. She took a few more silent steps, coming to another doorway. She didn’t need to look to realize it was the lounge. It was full of chairs, tables, couches and a television for patients to watch. Suddenly, Darcy had an idea.
She quietly slipped into the lounge. Across the room was another doorway that lead to the intersecting hallway. Darcy scanned the room until she found what she was looking for. A small smile played on her lips as she hurried over to one of the tables and grabbed the remote control for the television. She turned the television on, keeping the volume low as she flicked through the channels. Her smile widened as she stopped on a music video. Shameless by Camilla Cabello. Darcy pressed down on the volume button until the music shook the room. She dropped the remote to the ground and kicked it somewhere across the room. It disappeared under the tables. Wasting no time, she hurried to the other door, pulled it open and stepped out into the intersecting hallway.
Darcy closed the door behind her, staying as quiet as possible. She hugged the wall, watching Nurse Steele stalk past her in the other hallway. Her plan had worked. Darcy took off running down the hallway. She almost slid off her feet as she turned into the nurse’s station. The music was still blaring from the lounge. Darcy figured Nurse Steele was still searching for the remote control. Spotting the phone, Darcy grabbed it. Found a line and dialed in a number, going as fast as she could. It rang once, twice, before someone finally picked up. A familiar voice, which brought a small smile to Darcy’s face. The voice of Campbell. He sounded wide awake and gasped in surprise when she finally spoke. He hadn’t heard her voice in four months as she told him to listen.
“I can’t talk, they’ll catch me. You need to come get me out of here. Now!” she told him.
He didn’t ask any questions. “I’m on my way.” he told her.
She hung up the phone and hurried away from the nurse’s station. She nearly ran into Nurse Steele, who was coming out of the lounge. Darcy noticed the music had been turned off. My plan worked! she thought to herself, keeping a straight face as the nurse gazed at her with curiosity.
“Did the music wake you up?” Nurse Steele asked.
Darcy nodded, blinking softly.
“Did you see anyone go in there?” the nurse asked, motioning to the lounge behind her.
Darcy shook her head no, still keeping a straight face. Showing no emotion.
Nurse Steele let out a sigh. “Well I turned it off. Go back to your room.” she ordered.
Darcy nodded in reply. With her back to the nurse, she couldn’t help but smile widely as she hurried back to her room.
Dusk. The residents of West Valley began turning in for the night. Tomorrow would be a new day. Yet in the night air, something lingered. Hovering over the town. Perhaps it was a sense of dread. That tomorrow would bring a new horror, despite months of silence. That the madness was not over after all. Slowly, house lights began to turn off. It wasn’t long before all over the town was silence. Even on the outskirts of town, the only sound was the occasional light breeze and the chirping of a random cricket. The moon hung high overhead, peeking out from behind the steeple of St-Gregory’s church. The gravestones behind the church shone in the moonlight. Many people had been buried there, mostly all were victims of the West Valley killer.
Suddenly, the silence of the night was broken by the sound of squealing tires. A car zoomed into view, heading down the road towards the town. Headlights broke the darkness, illuminating the town sign that read NOW ENTERING WEST VALLEY, ENJOY YOUR STAY! A hand hung lazily out the driver side window of the car, flicking ash from a cigarette. The embers tumbled down to the blacktop. Behind the steering wheel sat a familiar face. Beth Myers. The last time she was in town, she had run off with the money she had found at Surge. She was still in possession of it, it was in her suitcase in the car’s trunk. Held together by a rubber band and hidden between her underwear. She ticked her gaze to the rear view mirror, almost expecting a police car to be following her.
But the road behind her was empty. You’re just being paranoid. she thought to herself with a slight scowl. She took another drag from her cigarette. Fiddled with the buttons of the car’s sound system. She needed a distraction, music would help keep her mind off of things. Like the fact that she was back in town. Not by choice, she was being forced to return. By a phone call she had received a week ago. Just thinking about it now brought a sense of dread over her. Like a block of ice had settled inside her stomach. She thought back to the week before, the events still fresh in her mind. It was a beautiful, warm day. She had been sitting at a little cafe with her mother, sipping at a coffee when her phone had rang. Looking down at her phone, UNKNOWN flashed on the screen.
With a shrug, she had answered. And wished she hadn’t. There was a burst of static from the other end of the line. Beth had pulled the phone away from her ear with a grimace. Her mother had given her a questioning glance. Beth had brought the phone back to her ear as a voice began speaking. Distorted and gravelly, it was a voice she had heard once before. The voice of the West Valley killer. She kept her face neutral, not wanting to worry her mother who sat across the table from her. Beth had lowered the phone and suggested her mother go into the cafe and get them some muffins. It would give her privacy to really focus on what the killer was saying on the other end of the line. Her mother had headed inside while Beth had brought the phone back to her ear.
But right now, she snapped back to the present. She found herself parked in the driveway of the house she shared with Preston. She unbuckled her seat belt, turning the car off and pushing open the driver side door. She stepped out onto the driveway, closing the door behind her. She looked over at the house. Warm light from the living room window spilled onto the front lawn. That meant Preston was awake. He had no idea she was returning. He’d have many questions once he saw her. Could she tell him that she was being blackmailed by the killer? She flashed back to the conversation. The killer had known what she had done. That she had taken the money from Surge. That she had stolen thousands of dollars from Ellie and Christy.
Beth had no idea how the killer knew that. But whoever it was, seemed to know a lot. Where people were at a particular moment, if they were alone, even their secrets. On the other end of the line, the killer had told Beth to return to West Valley. Or else. If she didn’t, the police would be notified about what she had done. And she’d go to jail, no doubt. She believed what the killer had said. There was no reason not to. The killer was vicious, cruel and calculating. Too many people had died to take it all as a joke. What other choice did Beth have but to listen? So she told her mother she would be returning to the town of West Valley. A week later she was packing up her car and heading back. She wondered what excuse she could give Preston for her sudden return.
And would he believe her? That was another question. She took a deep breath. It was now or never. She made her way to the trunk, sticking the key in the lock. It popped open as she reached inside and grabbed her suitcase. She pulled it out, placing it down on the concrete before she slammed the trunk closed. She picked up the suitcase and headed up the walkway towards the front door of the house. She ticked a gaze over her shoulder. She felt that uneasy feeling that seemed to be hovering over the town. She gazed into the thick shadows surrounding the house. Was it just her imagination or did she catch a blur of movement somewhere off to the side of the house? She didn’t want to stick around and find out. She got the front door open, stepping inside the safety of the house.
She closed the door behind her and locked it. Put her suitcase down. Taking a few steps down the hallway, she stopped when Preston stuck his head out from the doorway of the living room. His eyes widened in surprise as he realized Beth was standing before him. He took in her appearance before a sly smile formed on his lips.
“Look what the cat drug in! You cut your hair!” he exclaimed.
“I thought new town, new me.” she replied. They shared a quick hug.
“What are you doing here? You’re back? Is your mom okay?” he asked, arching an eyebrow.
Oh right. I told him mom was feeling sick. “Oh yeah, she’s doing much better.” Beth replied with a nod. She felt bad lying to him.
“That’s great news! We should celebrate your return! How about dinner tomorrow night? It’s too late now and you’re probably tired from the drive.” he said.
She was. But dinner sounded nice. “Sure. It’d be nice to reacquainted with West Valley again by going to my favorite restaurant with my favorite person!” she told him.
“The house has been quiet without you. It got lonely without you here. Although Alexander kept me plenty of company.” Preston replied with a wink.
Beth laughed. “I’m sure he did. I’m glad to hear you’ve worked things out with him.” she answered. She slid her hands into her pockets and frowned.
“What is it?” Preston asked.
“I think I left my phone in the car. Be right back.” she told him with a smile.
“Alright. Maybe we can talk a little bit before heading to bed? I’ll make some popcorn.” Preston replied as he headed towards the kitchen.
“Sounds good!” she told him as she made her way back to the front door.
She pulled it open and hurried down the walkway, not bothering to close the door behind her. It would only take her a few seconds. She made her way over to the passenger side and slid the key in the lock. She pulled the door open and looked in the cup holder in the middle of the two seats. No phone. Empty. Did it fall? she thought to herself as she bent down to look on the floor of the car. Still nothing. A sigh escaped Beth’s lips as she searched for her phone. She was looking in between the seats when she spotted it. It had fallen and gotten itself stuck on the side of the seat. She reached for it, when suddenly, she let out a yelp of surprise and jumped to her feet. She spun to look towards the house.
A noise had startled her. The noise of shattering glass. A deep frown creased her face as she took an uneasy step forward. For a brief moment she thought Preston had dropped something in the kitchen. But no, the noise had been too loud. Forgetting her phone for the moment, she closed the car door and walked slowly back towards the front door. She made her way up the porch steps and through the open door. She opened her mouth to call out for Preston, but couldn’t seem to find her voice. An icy cold shiver of fear snaked down her spine as she moved slowly through the house, heading towards the kitchen. The house was silent now. All of Beth’s senses screamed at her to turn and run yet she kept moving forward. Her heart thundered in her chest as she stepped into the kitchen.
“Preston? Is everything o…” she trailed off, her eyes widening in surprise.
The noise she had heard, it was the glass back patio doors that had been shattered. The kitchen floor was littered with broken glass. And blood. And Preston’s dead body that lay among the glass shards. Is that?… Beth’s stomach lurched. Preston lay face up on his back, a large glass shard stabbed into his forehead. His eyes gazed up at the ceiling, unblinking and wide in terror. His mouth open in a silent scream. Beth found her voice and screamed. Let out another as she backed up in fear. Right into the black hooded figure that stood behind her.