Fallon hated being right. When she got a feeling about something, she was almost always never wrong. She had a feeling things were too good to be true. That after four months, the town of West Valley was returning back to a sense of normalcy. She couldn’t quite put her finger on it, but at the back of her mind, Fallon had a feeling it wouldn’t be long before the killer would strike again. That someone else would die. And she had been right. It was four days after Preston Downs’ murder. She sat in the living room, focused on the television screen. It was early morning, another warm beautiful day outside. But Fallon’s mood was grim. WEST VALLEY KILLER RETURNS! flashed on the television screen. Fallon let out a deep sigh, everyone knew that the killer had come back.
The news of Preston’s murder had travelled fast. By the next morning, everyone in town was aware that the killer had returned. Beth had stumbled across the street to the Olsen’s house to call for help. She had run into the killer as well, but had escaped with her life. Instead of murdering Beth, the killer had turned on their heels and had disappeared into the night. A common thing for the killer to do. Beth was really lucky. Fallon thought to herself. She didn’t find it a coincidence that the killer was back now that Darcy had returned to town as well. Fallon had yet to see her best friend. She was giving her some space. She did plan on stopping by the store later on. Fallon had heard that it was Darcy’s first day back at work. She thought it would be nice to surprise her.
She and Darcy had months of catching up to do. She hadn’t seen her since the night that Ruby Fleming had been murdered. Fallon knew Darcy hadn’t killed her, didn’t believe it for one second. But Darcy had been put into a compromising position. She had shut down, not being able to explain what had happened. For those four months that Darcy was locked away at Briarview, Fallon worried about her. Wondered when she would be released. The day would come the exact same morning the town had heard about Preston’s murder. Fallon had been sleeping and had been woken up by the ringing of her phone. It was Campbell, and he had explained to her that Darcy was back at home! Fallon had felt relieved, it was good news to hear despite everything that was happening with the murder.
Fallon ticked her gaze away from the television screen as she heard the shower turn on in the bathroom. That meant that Naomi was awake. It was just the two of them now in the big house. Gwen Tiller was living with them at one point, but she too had been killed. It had happened during the summer at a fashion show that Darcy and Jane Porter had organized. Many of the women in town had modeled for the event, Gwen being one of them. But when it was her turn to walk the runway, she had been found with a pole impaled through her back. Fallon had been there, had seen the grisly sight. She had seen a lot of death in West Valley. She had been attacked herself, but fate had other plans for her. She had survived, had escaped. But she couldn’t help but wonder when the day would come that she wouldn’t be so lucky.
She shook her head, shaking the troubling thoughts away as she got to her feet. She turned off the television. She had seen enough. With the killer back, she knew what it meant. She had to be extra careful. The whole town had to be vigilant and keep an eye out for anything peculiar. Another sigh escaped from between Fallon’s lips as she made her way out of the living room and over to the bathroom door. She knocked and called out to Naomi that she was leaving. Naomi shouted out an answer from inside the shower. Fallon turned and made her way over to the front door, pulling it open and stepping outside in the sunlight. She closed the door behind her, making sure she locked it securely. Once again, you couldn’t leave your doors or windows unlocked in West Valley.
It was a great day to walk, so Fallon refrained from taking the car downtown. Everything in West Valley was mostly within walking distance. She figured people would be using their cars more now that the killer had returned. It wasn’t safe to walk at night, especially if you were alone. Some still did, refusing to stop living their lives just because a murderer skulked in the shadows of the night. Still, a car wasn’t safe. There could always be someone hiding in the backseat. Which is what had happened to Fallon when she had been attacked. Despite the warm day, an icy cold shiver of fear snaked down her spine as she recalled the events of the night she had been attacked. Now, whenever she got into the car, she always made sure to check the backseat first.
Because it was a weekday, the streets of West Valley weren’t too busy. People were either at work, or school. Somewhere in the distance, she heard the bells of St-Gregory ringing. It got Fallon thinking of Preston’s funeral, which would be held a few days from then. She planned on attending. Yet another funeral. she thought to herself, pursing her lips as she did so. Her heels clicked on the sidewalk as she made her way downtown. You could never tell it was autumn. The weather was mostly warm and perfect all year round. Sometimes they got rain and rainstorms, which didn’t bother Fallon at all. It was better than snow and being cold. She looked both ways before crossing the street, she could see downtown in the distance. Despite the murders, she liked living in West Valley. Somehow, with Darcy back in town, Fallon felt safer.
It was nice to know that someone was looking out for her. Sure, Fallon looked out for herself, she was careful. And Darcy did have a lot on her plate as well, so to speak. But she was also worried about Fallon’s well being. They were best friends, after all. They had been through a lot together and that had just made them closer. It wasn’t like that with Fallon and Naomi, for example. They had known each other longer than Fallon and Darcy had, but Naomi wasn’t as down to earth like Darcy. She thought a little too highly of herself and her mind always seemed to be elsewhere. Especially now that she and Warren are officially a couple. Fallon thought to herself as she found herself downtown. The store was just up ahead. She pushed the thoughts of Warren and Naomi to the back of her mind as she focused on her surroundings.
A few moments later she was standing in front of the store. Fallon realized she hadn’t been there in months. Not since Darcy had been taken away to Briarview. A small smile played on Fallon’s lips as she headed up towards the entrance. She pushed the doors open and stepped inside, letting them swing shut behind her. She took a look around. No sign of Darcy, but she did see Jane who was standing behind the counter. She waved at her as she scanned the inside of the store. Everything seemed the same as the last time she had been there. Only now, the mannequins wore different clothes. Which was no surprise to Fallon. Jane had new designs being released every month. Even despite the tragedy that had occurred at the fashion show, people still flocked to the store to buy Jane’s new designs.
“Are you looking for anything in particular, miss? Or maybe someone?..” a voice asked from behind Fallon. A voice she knew all too well.
Fallon spun around, a huge smile on her face. “Darcy!” she exclaimed happily. She pulled the other girl into a tight embrace.
A small chuckle escaped from Darcy’s lips as she hugged Fallon back. “Am I imagining things or are you happy to see me?” she said with a smile.
Fallon took in her friend’s appearance. Darcy looked much better than the last time she had seen her. “Of course I’m happy to see you! You look absolutely stunning!” Fallon told her.
Darcy chuckled again. “It’s my first day back. I wanted to dress for the occasion. You don’t think it’s a little too much?” she asked curiously.
“No way! It screams I’M BACK AND I’M A DAMN BOMBSHELL! I’m surprised Campbell isn’t here drooling at your feet.” Fallon replied with a chuckle escaping her lips.
Darcy threw back her head and laughed. “He was earlier this morning when he saw me in it!” she explained.
“All joking aside, are you okay? How are you adjusting being back in town?” Fallon asked.
“I’m glad to be back. But in a way, I feel Briarview was safer than here. I feel like the killer is going to jump out at me at any second.” Darcy replied, scanning her surroundings with a glint of worry in her eyes.
“Do you feel like you left Briarview too soon?” Fallon asked with a deep frown creasing her pretty face.
“No, it’s not that. I had just completely shut down. For four months. With everything that happened, it had finally taken it’s toll on me. I guess I wasn’t as strong as I thought I was.” Darcy said, ticking her gaze to the floor, she seemed ashamed.
“You’re one of the strongest people I know. And I know that because look how long it took you to finally crack. You’ve been through so much. A normal person would have lost their sanity after the second tragedy. And yet you kept going. You rolled with the punches.” Fallon explained.
Darcy looked up. “You’re right. And my stay at Briarview was because I slipped. I was just so tired of everything. All the terror, all the death. I can’t slip again. I am going to catch whoever the killer is. Once and for all.” she told Fallon with a newfound determination in her eyes.
Outside on the Jacks’ front porch stood a solitary figure. The figure leaned against the brick wall of the house, bringing a cigarette to their dark painted lips. Inhaling from the cigarette before exhaling a puff of smoke. Long, dark painted nails flicked the ash, sending it tumbling to the ground. The figure was just Ellie Jacks. There was nothing suspicious about smoking a cigarette outside on the front porch. It was something she did every morning, whether she worked that day or not. On that particular day, she had no plans to head to work. Christy would be managing Surge all day. Ellie had needed a day off, she couldn’t remember the last time she had taken one. After waking up, taking a shower and getting dressed, she had made her way outside to have a cigarette.
She never smoked inside the house. Even if she was the only one who was living there at the moment. Her son Tyson was living hundreds of miles away with his father, and Ellie’s parents were both dead. She thought it was disrespectful towards them if she smoked inside, even if neither of them were there to tell her otherwise. Even when they were alive she never liked smoking in the house. Her parents had hoped that she would quit. They called it a nasty habit. They weren’t wrong. Ellie thought to herself as she blew out another ring of smoke. The sound of footsteps on the walkway caught Ellie’s attention. For a brief moment, she thought it was a neighbor coming up to complain about the cigarette smoke. But no, it was just the mailman, who barely even gave her a second glance as he handed her a few envelopes.
Ellie muttered a thanks as she held the cigarette between her lips as she shuffled through the envelopes in her hand. An electricity bill, there was some sort of special offer that was addressed to her father. Ellie was hit with a pang of sadness. Her father had been dead for over a year. He had been one of the West Valley killer’s first victims. Not long after that, her mother had been killed as well. Ellie blinked away the tears that threatened to overflow from her eyes. She flicked the ash of her cigarette once more. As if it would help her push the thoughts of her parents away. A deep sigh escaped from between her lips as she gazed up at the sky. Lost in thought before she winced in pain. She looked down and saw the cigarette had burned down, it had burnt her finger. She muttered a curse before throwing the bud down and stepping on it.
She turned, pulling open the front door and stepping back inside the house. She had gotten used to the silence. She made her way into the kitchen, tossing the mail on the counter before she made her way over to the sink. She turned on the cold water and held her finger underneath the faucet. Once it felt better, she turned off the faucet, wiping her hands with a dish towel. Now what should I do? she thought to herself as she gazed around the kitchen. Maybe some music would help. Ellie made her way out of the kitchen and into the living room. She made her way over to the sound system and turned it on. She fiddled with the volume and the CD inside before a song came blaring on. It startled Ellie, who jumped three feet in the air before she shook her head at herself.
It was an old song she hadn’t heard in a while. “Machine Head” by Bush. It was no surprise that she listened to rock music. You could tell just by taking a look at her. The blue hair, the tattoos, the way she dressed. It was her true identity since she was in high school. People were still surprised that she owned a night club. There was a DJ, so she didn’t choose the music. She focused more on the business part of it. Making sure that she and her employees made money. They had lost money too. A bag of money had gone missing during the summer. Someone had stolen it from Surge’s office. Ellie, nor Christy had any idea who would do such a thing. Ellie was sure the money was gone forever, until four nights earlier. The same night that Preston Downs had been brutally murdered.
The money had miraculously reappeared. On Ellie’s doorstep. The events were still fresh in her mind. She had parked the car in front of her house, returning home from her shift at Surge. Heading up onto the front porch, the automatic outdoor lights flashed on, illuminating a duffel bag placed in front of the front door. For a brief moment, Ellie thought it was a prank. She had looked behind her shoulder, expecting to be someone standing there. But no, the night was still, no other person in sight. With no one watching her, she bent down and opened the duffel bag. Sure enough, inside was the money. Ellie almost had a heart attack. She had opened the front door and carried the bag inside. Closing and locking the door before bringing the bag into the kitchen. She emptied the bag, certain that some money would be missing.
She was wrong. It was all there. Down to the last dollar. She almost did a cartwheel across the kitchen floor. She was so happy. She had hurried to the phone to call Christy and share the good news with her. Christy was surprised as well, but happy that the money was returned. The following day, Ellie had gone to deposit the money at the bank. No one can steal it there. she had thought to herself. She felt so much better now. If only she knew who had returned the money, and why. Maybe she would have an answer one day. Leaving the music blaring, Ellie made her way out of the living room and into the hall. She made her way up the stairs to the second floor of the house. She made her way into her bedroom and went to grab her purse. With some time to kill, maybe getting out of the house was a good idea.
I could go shop. she thought to herself. Suddenly, from downstairs, the music stopped. Ellie’s head snapped in the direction of the bedroom door. The house was silent, eerily quiet. A frown creased her face as she slowly made her way across the bedroom floor. She stepped out into the hallway, listening attentively. For a moment she had thought she had blown out the speaker of the sound system. That’s when she heard the sound of a door opening somewhere in the house. Ellie’s eyes widened in fear as she clutched the wall for support. As quietly as she could, she made her way towards the stairs. She wanted to call out, but couldn’t seem to find her voice. Reaching the top of the stairs, she could see the front door from the landing. It was shut. But she heard the shuffling of feet somewhere nearby.
She had to get out of the house. There was someone inside with her. The West Valley killer? Ellie’s heart pounded in her chest as she slowly made her way down the stairs. Trying not to make too much noise to draw attention to herself. One of the steps creaked loudly under her weight. She froze, sucking in a breath. She waited, a minute passed, but it seemed like an eternity. She ticked her gaze to the front door. It was just a few more feet away. She would be out of the house and towards safety in just a few more seconds. Ellie shut her eyes tight for a moment before opening them and bounding down the stairs. She reached out with her hand, grabbing the door handle just as a hand clapped down on her shoulder from behind her. A shriek of terror escaped from her lips, she couldn’t help it.
“Whoa! Easy! It’s just me!” said a voice from behind her.
Ellie spun around and looked into a familiar face. A face she hadn’t seen in a while. “You!” she exclaimed.
“I didn’t mean to scare you. I went to look for you in the backyard but you weren’t there.” said the figure.
Ellie’s hand flashed out, punching Gage flat in the face. He let out a yowl and stumbled backwards. “You bastard! What are you even doing here?!” she yelled, stalking after him.
“Would you calm down!? I come in peace!” he said from between his hands which were protecting his face.
“Calm down?! You scared the living hell out of me! What are you doing in my house??!” Ellie yelled as she shoved him backwards.
This time, he was quicker, grabbing her arms and holding them at her side. She struggled against him.”Would you stop! Look, I’m sorry. I knocked at the front door but there was no answer. So I let myself in, turned off the music and went to look for you in the backyard.” he explained before letting go of her.
“You could have called! And where is Tyson? Don’t tell me you left him alone!” she seethed, swatting at him again. Gage sidestepped her, his hands held high.
“Tyson is fine! Look, I wanted to see you in person. I wanted to tell you something.” he replied.
“Again, you could have called me. You have some nerve showing your face here.” she replied.
“Enough! Dammit, Ellie, could you just stop being a psychopath for five minutes?” Gage yelled in her face. She frowned, taking a step back, her arms crossing over her chest.
“I’m not a psycho.” she told him.
“You sure seem like one. Stop trying to be such a badass and listen to what I have to say. I’m sorry, okay? I’m sorry that I wasn’t there for Tyson up until recently. He’s my son and having him with me these past few months have been amazing and it got me thinking. I want to be in his life. In yours too. I want us to be a family. A real family.” he told her.
“That’s what you came here to tell me?” she asked.
“I want to be a better man. I want to protect you and our son. Can’t I stay here in West Valley with you both? We could all live here.” Gage suggested.
“You? Live here in West Valley with us? Do I need to remind you this is my parents house!” Ellie replied.
“I know who’s house this is. Look, think about it. Tyson misses you. He needs his mom. I miss you. I miss us.” Gage said, looking down at his feet.
“Miss us? Are you trying to get back in my pants because that’s not going to happen!” Ellie exclaimed.
“I mean it Ellie! I miss you. I know I was a jerk. But can’t you give me a second chance? What do I have to do to get in your good graces?!” he asked.
“I..I don’t know.” Ellie stammered. Could she really give him a second chance? Would it be safer with Gage around? “How am I supposed to feel safe when you left Tyson god knows where!?” she continued.
“I’m not where! I’m here! I came with daddy!” said a voice from the doorway.
Ellie spun around. “Tyson!” she exclaimed. A huge smile played on her face. He ran to her as they hugged tightly. Tyson giggled as she smothered him with kisses. Gage stood watching, a small smile on his lips as well.
“I missed you mommy! So can we be a family again like daddy asked? Puhhh-leeeease?!” Tyson said.
Ellie looked over at Gage with a thankful smile and then back at Tyson. “We’ll talk it over at lunch, okay?” she told him.
“Great! Come on, let’s go outside!” Tyson said as he grabbed them by the hands and lead them out into the backyard.
Warren wouldn’t admit it, but he was worried. For the safety of his family. And for himself. And Naomi, since they were now officially a couple. Four long months had passed. Where Warren and his family’s life had finally seemed to return to normal. They had stayed in West Valley for the summer, except for a weekend where they had gone to Rocky Point for some camping. Warren had thought it was a fun activity for him and his family to do together. Even Naomi had come along. At first she didn’t seem very into it, but by the end of the weekend, she didn’t want to return back home. Thinking about it now, it brought a smile to Warren’s face. It was almost lunchtime, both Taylor and Kaitlyn were at school. His mother Colleen, was inside the house, waiting for him to return.
Warren unlocked the front door and pulled it open. Calling out to his mother that he was home as he closed the door behind him. He made sure to lock it. That safe feeling he felt during the summer was now gone. It was replaced by a sense of unease. The murders, which he had thought had finally stopped, had started up again. Another resident of West Valley had been killed a few days earlier. Preston Downs had been the latest victim. Warren had ran into him a few times, thought he was nice enough. He didn’t deserve to die. All the killer’s victims didn’t deserve to die. Warren thought to himself, shaking his head in sadness. His eyes traveled to the picture frame hanging on the wall. A family picture, with his wife Scarlett in it. She had also been one of the killer’s victims.
Even though it had been over a year since her death, and Warren was with Naomi now, he couldn’t seem to take the picture off the wall. Maybe it was to remind him, or his daughters, of a time when things were simpler. Warren took a step closer to take another look at the photo. The girls were a little younger, standing in front of Warren and Scarlett who stood side by side with thin smiles on their lips. He remembered that day. They had gone to the garden festival at Oaktree Park. Warren had asked Scott Emerson to take a picture of him and his family. A soft sigh escaped Warren’s lips. He had no idea that Scott had been the killer. One of them, at least. Whoever was doing the killings now was either Scott’s accomplice or a copycat. Or Brandon Covington himself.
Scott had killed Scarlett. To this day, it was hard for Warren to believe. His friend had killed his wife. And abducted his daughter. He wished it had been all a bad dream, but unfortunately it had happened. Scarlett was dead, but at least Kaitlyn had been found. If anything had happened to her, or to Taylor, Warren wouldn’t be able to live with himself. With the deaths starting up again, Warren worried about his family. He wondered when all the horror and death would finally end. When things could go back like they were before. Once it was all over, could people go back to living a normal life? After all the horror they had witnessed? I wish I had an answer to that. Warren thought to himself as he made his way into the kitchen for a glass of water.
He could hear his mother watching television in the living room, some sort of soap opera, he guessed, by the music he heard. He was glad to have his mother around. She had moved in with him a while after Scarlett’s death. She was there to take care of the girls and the home while Warren was at work. He had taken some time off after Scarlett had been murdered, but eventually it was time for him to go back. Since his mother was a widow and lived by herself in another town, it made sense for her to move to West Valley. She had grown comfortable, even if she was in danger. They all were. But they couldn’t just stop living their lives just because someone wanted to end it. They took each day as it came. That was the most they could do. And try to be cautious, of course.
Warren was making way over to the fridge when suddenly, the doorbell rang. A slight frown creased his face as he turned and headed out of the kitchen. The water would have to wait. He made his way down the hallway and into the front entryway. He unlocked the front door and pulled it open, staring out at a familiar face. A smile of surprise played on his lips as he stepped aside and let the person into the house.
“Naomi. I wasn’t expecting you.” he told her.
“Well then, surprise!” she said as they shared a quick kiss.
“I thought you had that business meeting?” he asked her.
“It was rescheduled to earlier this morning, so I finished earlier. So..here I am!” she explained.
“So you came to see me? Or did you come to eat my mom’s famous cooking? Because it is almost lunchtime.” Warren chuckled.
She swatted at him playfully. “Very funny! I was thinking maybe we could go have lunch at the restaurant! All three of us.” she explained.
“That sounds like a great idea! My mom’s getting tired of being cooped up in the house. Let me go ask her.” Warren said as he made his way into the living room. A few moments later he came back out. “She’s going to go get ready.” he explained to Naomi.
“Great! If we get there in time, we can still get the two drinks for one special.” Naomi replied.
A few minutes later, Warren, Naomi and Colleen were heading down the walkway towards the curb where Naomi’s car was parked. Naomi opened the driver side door and slid in. Warren got up front next to her in the passenger seat while Colleen sat in the back. Naomi was known to drive a little too fast, so they all put their seat belts. Warren was surprised that she was driving slowly. When it was usually just him and her in the car, he would always cling to the side door for dear life. That day’s drive was pleasant. They drove through town, heading downtown. They passed by the girls’ school. The schoolyard was empty, class was in session. It reminded Warren of the teacher-parent interviews that was coming up in just a few weeks. He didn’t have to worry, he knew the girls were doing well.
A few minutes passed before they found themselves downtown. Despite it being a calm day, there was no parking available right in front of the restaurant. Colleen and Warren reassured Naomi that they didn’t mind walking a little. It was a nice day, and they were able to find a parking spot on of the small side streets nearby. Their heels clicked on the pavement, Naomi and Warren walking arm in arm with Colleen strolling behind them. They passed by the clothing store, waving to Jane Porter who stood outside talking heatedly on her cellphone. Despite the serious conversation she seemed to be having, she smiled and waved back to them. Naomi pointed out to Warren that the top she was wearing at that moment was one of Jane’s very own designs. Warren couldn’t help but chuckle and pat Naomi on the back.
“Isn’t this great?” Naomi asked a few minutes later once they were seated at a table at the restaurant.
“It was a lovely idea, Naomi!” Colleen replied as she scanned the menu.
“Thanks, Colleen! By the way, I love your outfit!” Naomi said.
Warren rolled his eyes. “Suck up.” he told Naomi.
“Warren! Be nice. Thank you, Naomi. I barely go out so I guess you’re used to seeing me in my regular clothes.” Colleen replied with a smile.
“She’s just sucking up.” Warren told Colleen.
“I am not! She really looks nice!” Naomi replied, swatting at Warren once more.
“Oh, you two! Ahhh, to be young and in love.” Colleen said with a faraway look glinting in her eyes.
For some reason, Scarlett’s face flashed through Warren’s mind. He cleared his throat. “So what’s everyone ordering?” he asked, changing the subject. Am I in love with Naomi? he thought to himself.
“Before we start, I have an idea I’d like to talk to you guys about.” Naomi replied.
“You don’t want to get married, do you? Because it’s too soon.” Warren exclaimed.
“What! No! I was going to say, since we had so much fun camping during the summer, why don’t we go on a vacation? Take a week away sometime soon. We can even bring the girls!” Naomi said.
“A vacation? Hmmm.. where?” Warren asked.
Naomi shrugged. “An island or something. What about D.R?” she replied.
Warren thought about it for a few moments before breaking out into a wide smile. “Let’s do it!” he said with excitement glinting in his eyes.
The blonde girl in the towel shrieked at the top of her lungs as she ran inside the cabin and slammed the cabin door shut. Her eyes wild as she began barricading the door, throwing whatever she could find in front of it. With the door blocked, the blonde spun away, clutching the towel to her chest, one wrong move and it would come tumbling off. She eyed the window, hurrying towards it. And a body flopped down from the rafters above, blocking her path. The girl opened her mouth and let out a melodramatic scream of terror. Not as bad on the melodramatic look on the corpse’s face, another girl, her tongue poking out from between her blue tinged lips. Sitting on the couch, Hayley rolled her eyes at the movie playing on the screen and grabbed the television remote, changing the channel.
She’d seen enough of GIRL CAMP MASSACRE PART 11. She didn’t even know there were that many movies in the popular film series. She had seen the first four movies, back in a time when the only horror she knew was on a movie screen. She never expected her life to play out like a horror movie. This was reality, people around her, people she knew, were dying. What was happening in West Valley did not play out like the many horror movies she had seen. There was nothing fun or melodramatic about it. Just pain, and despair and terror. Never knowing who was going to die next. Always wondering if today would be your last day alive. At least that’s what swirled through Hayley’s mind. She couldn’t help it. Sometimes she wouldn’t even realize she was thinking about it.
That was until a vision of a maimed corpse flashed through her mind. It would startle Hayley. Remind her that things were very real. Death was in West Valley, sometimes just around the corner. Who knew what could be skulking in the dark shadows of the night. A small shiver of fear snaked down Hayley’s spine as she got to her feet. She went over to look out the window. It was a beautiful day, hours before nightfall. Yet she couldn’t shake the uneasy feeling that seemed to wrap around her. The time of day had no matter to the killer. Whenever they wanted to strike next, they would. What if the killer is out there, watching the house? Knowing I’m alone? Hayley thought to herself. She pulled away from the window, closing the curtains as she did so. She wished Lilah and Ivy were home, but they had both gone out. If something were to happen, she would have to fend for herself.
She made her way over to the front door. Making sure it was locked. It was. Just to be safe, she went over to the alarm system and armed it. The alarm chirped in response. If the killer was to break in, she would hear it. And so would the whole neighborhood. The alarm would go off and send a signal to the police. Hayley felt a little bit better knowing this. She made her way slowly through the house, coming to a closed bedroom door. She reached out, grabbed the knob and pushed the door open. Bridget’s room. She felt a pang of sadness. Bridget was no longer with them. She had been killed a few months before. Right there in the house. It had happened upstairs. Hayley looked around the room, it remained untouched from the last time she had gone into it. She couldn’t believe Bridget was gone.
She missed Bridget. She was nice. She was also super smart. She wasn’t stuck up and short tempered like Ivy. Or a perfectionist like Lilah. She was herself. She was friendly, and tried getting along with everyone. With a small sigh escaping her lips, Hayley turned and made her way out of the bedroom, closing the door behind her. What was that book Bridget wanted me to read? The Joy Luck Club? Hayley thought to herself. Since there was nothing interesting on the television, maybe reading a book would help pass the time. Until at least Lilah or Ivy got home. Maybe it would keep her mind off things. She made her way over to the bookcase, scanning through the titles. Most of the books were Bridget’s. Hayley wasn’t much of a big reader, unless it was some gossip magazine.
Hayley found the book and pulled it out from the bookcase. She made her way back over to sit down on the couch. She opened the first page of the book and saw the small note on the paper.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, BRIDGET!
MAY YOU FALL IN LOVE WITH THIS BOOK LIKE WE DID.
LOVE, MOM AND DAD.
Another pang of sadness hit Hayley. Her poor parents. Bridget was their only child, too. Her parents had been devastated when they had received the news of her murder. They had tried talking her into coming home but she had declined and had decided to stay in West Valley. If she had gone, maybe she still would have been alive right now. Hayley turned the next few pages of the book, trying to focus her attention as she began to read. She didn’t know how much time had passed until the ringing of her phone snapped her back to attention. She put the book aside and grabbed her phone off the coffee table. She looked down at the screen. UNKNOWN flashed up at her. With a slight frown creasing her pretty face, she accepted the call, bringing it to her ear.
“Hello?” she said.
A burst of static, and then a distorted voice spoke. “Hello, Hayley.” said the voice on the other end of the line.
She knew that voice. Hadn’t heard it in a long time. The killer. “Wha..What do you want?” she said, getting straight to the point. There was no use trying to make conversation.
“I missed you. Did you think you had heard the last of me?” the killer asked with a cruel snicker.
“I don’t know what your sick obsession with me is about. Leave me alone!” she said, her voice trembling.
“But we haven’t kept in touch in months! How are things? Are you still scared to die?” the killer asked.
“Please, stop.” she replied, another icy shiver of fear snaking down her back. She went over to the window and peeked out from behind the curtains. Is the killer out there? she thought to herself.
“It’s okay if you’re scared. The whole town should be. You know I’m going to kill again. And no one can do anything to stop me.” the killer continued.
“You’ve had your fun, so many people have died! You can stop now.” Hayley tried reasoning.
“Why would I want to stop? I’m not going to until there is no one left standing between me and you. Not even little Miss Darcy Adkins.” the killer replied from the other end of the line.
“It’s her you want, not me!” Hayley cried. She knew for a fact the killer had their sights on Darcy.
“But in the meantime, I want to play with you. Just you. You should get ready, because I am coming for you. Sooner than you think. And I won’t stop until your blood is all over my hands!” the killer growled menacingly.
Hayley couldn’t help it. She let out a small yelp of horror. Almost sounding like the girl in the movie she had just been watching earlier. Without warning, the killer hung up on the other end of the line. Hayley stood there numbly, the phone still pressed to her ear. Listening to the dial tone. Her hand shook as she lowered the phone, her breath coming out in short little gasps. The killer had scared her alright. She didn’t know what to do. She hurried out of the living room and into the main entryway when suddenly, the front door swung open in her face. She couldn’t hold back the shriek of terror that erupted from her throat when she saw the figure standing in the doorway. The figure also let out a scream of surprise as the alarm began to ring. Perfectly manicured nails punched in the code before the figure turned to face Hayley.
“What’s going on here? Is everything okay?” Ivy asked.
“Ivy! You scared me!” Hayley said, throwing her arms around the other girl. “I’m so glad you’re home!” she said, her voice trembling.
“Ummm.. you scared me too! I didn’t expect you to start screaming when I opened the front door!” Ivy explained with a serious expression on her face as she patted Hayley’s back.
“The killer. He called me. Threatened me!” Hayley explained.
“So that’s what the sign is about.” Ivy said, glancing outside.
“Wait, what? There’s a sign?” Hayley said as she hurried outside. Ivy followed after her. She pointed to it, it was scrawled in harsh red on the side of the house.
“That’s a threat, right? I saw it as I was walking up to the door.” Ivy explained.
“Oh my god.” Hayley whispered as she stared at the message, eyes full of terror.
In another part of town, the mood was much lighter. A small smile played on Julie’s lips as she hung up the phone. Today is the day! she happily thought to herself. She had just gotten off the phone with Jillyan Rayburn. She had called Julie to tell her Amy was off to the hospital. She was in labor, the baby would be born soon. While Darcy and Amy didn’t have the best relationship, Julie and Amy had become close friends. She thought Darcy should cut Amy some slack. She was happy and married to Campbell now. So what if Amy had gotten pregnant by Darcy’s ex fiancee? He was now dead. He had also been one of the killer’s many victims. With all the horror going on in town, Julie hoped the two women could put their differences aside and focus on the real issue that was happening around them.
And here I thought the murders were over. Julie thought to herself with a slight frown creasing her pretty face. She thought of the series of events that had happened before things had quieted down for the town of West Valley. The Wiles’ family, relatives of Brandon Covington had all been butchered in their sleep. Meredith Dupree and Ruby Fleming had been attacked, Ruby had died from her injuries. And Darcy had been hauled off to Briarview Sanitarium. Julie had enjoyed the four months of peace and quiet. She had spent time with Aiden, and with her family and friends. She had began law school, and while it was tougher than she had expected it to be, she was genuinely enjoying it. Nothing could break her good mood, that was until Preston Downs had been murdered.
It had happened a few nights earlier. It was still clear in Julie’s mind. She and Aiden had been sitting on the couch in her living room, when outside, they could hear the sirens of police cars zooming past the house. A sense of unease seemed to wrap around her as she had turned to look at Aiden with a questioning glance. He had shrugged in reply, but he also looked uneasy. As if he too also sensed that something sinister had occurred. Julie had flicked on the television and it didn’t take long to come across the live news report. On the screen, a reporter from WVNS stood outside the residence that Preston shared with his housemate, Beth Myers. There were police cars and an ambulance and a crowd of nervous looking townspeople standing behind the stone faced female reporter.
Julie had gasped, as for in the background, a black body bag was being wheeled out from the house. Aiden had put a comforting arm around her shoulder and held her closer to him as they watched in stunned silence. There was no doubt about it that the West Valley killer had returned. The town was no longer safe. Who was going to be the next to fall victim to the killer? It terrified Julie, not knowing. In West Valley, you never knew when your time was up. Until you were staring into the black cloaked face of the killer. Whoever it was, would appear, cause you harm, in most cases kill you, and then disappear back into the shadows from where they came from. That’s why Julie thought they could all use a little happiness in their lives. And what better way than the birth of a child?
Julie already had a gift wrapped for the baby. A beautiful pink and lime green striped pyjama. She knew the baby was a girl, she just didn’t know the name Amy had chosen. She was sure she would find out soon enough. She would probably go visit Amy and the baby the following day at home. The hospital didn’t keep women who went into labor overnight once the baby was born, unless there was complications. Julie was fairly certain that everything would go smoothly. At least she hoped so. Amy had experienced a pregnancy scare a few months ago, but the doctors had reassured her she was fine. Julie wanted to have children of her own one day. Hopefully with Aiden. They had been dating now for a little over a year. And everything was going extremely well.
That was also something to be happy about. Just thinking about Aiden brought a smile to Julie’s face. She hoped they would be together for a long time. Aiden was her first serious boyfriend. She had been on dates here and there, but never with someone who she felt a strong connection for. She felt that connection she was looking for with Aiden. It was like they were destined for each other. What was that they said about a soulmate? That there was one out there for everyone. Well, Julie felt like he very well could be her soulmate. They had so much fun together and they could be serious, when they needed to be. Julie wondered if her mother had felt that way when she had been married to her father. Before Megan and I were born, and before she walked out on us. Julie thought to herself.
Had Megan felt that way too with Charlie Olsen? Before he also had been killed. Julie still felt bad for her sister. Just when Megan and Charlie had gotten back together after breaking up for a short time, he had gotten murdered. Megan seemed to be doing better, but it seemed she was trying her hardest to keep Charlie off her mind. It was probably too sad to think about. It had happened right there outside their house on the front lawn. Megan had found Charlie strung up in a tree, gutted. Christy had gotten the tree cut down, trying to forget the ugly reminder of the brutal crime that had happened just outside their front door. Julie wondered how Dawn, Charlie’s mother was doing. Was she still grieving her son now that her half sister Kendall Ford had come to town?
Julie had met Kendall, she liked her. She worked at Jane and Darcy’s clothing boutique. She was still getting to know her, and Kendall was still trying to adjust to her new life in West Valley. Maybe I’ll invite her out for a drink sometime. Julie thought to herself as she headed down the stairs to the main floor of the house. It was quiet, which made Julie feel a little uneasy. Her mother was working all day at Surge. And Megan was still at school. Julie had no classes today, just a quick assignment to do on the computer. It felt like the right time to do that, so she made her way into the study and sat down in the desk chair. She fired up the computer, tapping her perfectly manicured nails on the desktop as she waited for it to load. She giggled at the background, it was of a cat wearing a onesie and a pair of sunglasses.
Before she could continue, the doorbell rang. Julie let out a squeak of surprise, she was startled. She slid the chair back and got to her feet. Making her way out of the study and over to the front door. She wasn’t expecting anyone, she wondered who it could be on the other side of the door. She turned the lock, and turned the knob, opening the door. A familiar face peered back at her from the front porch.
“Aiden!” she said, pleasantly surprised.
“Mind if I come in?” he asked with a smile.
“I don’t mind at all! But aren’t you supposed to be at work?” Julie asked as he entered the house, closing the door behind him as he did so.
“We got to finish early at the office because someone had a virus.” Aiden explained with a slight grimace.
“And you thought to come visit me? That’s so sweet!” Julie said, stepping closer. They kissed, a passionate embrace.
“Well, I knew you were home and I was hoping you weren’t too busy.” he replied.
“Well, I was about to do something for school, but it can wait.” she told him with a smile.
“Are you home alone?” Aiden asked, looking around as he noticed the house was silent.
“Mom’s at work and Megan’s at school. Can you believe she’s nominated for homecoming queen?” Julie revealed.
“Megan has become quite popular, hasn’t she?” Aiden asked.
“I know, right? She isn’t the same girl she was from three years ago.” Julie replied.
“Three years is a long time. People change. As do feelings. Feelings can grow deeper.” Aiden replied with a nod.
“You wouldn’t be talking about your feelings for me, would you?” Julie asked with a sly smile playing on her lips.
“Well that’s part of the reason why I came here. To tell you that. And to ask you something.” he replied, licking his lips nervously.
“Ask me what?” Julie said, arching an eyebrow in his direction.
“Well, my feelings for you have grown. And I love you.” he told her.
“Aww, I love you too!” she told him.
“So, I was wondering. If…you would marry me?” Aiden asked.
“WHAT!” Julie cried out. She then let out a gasp as Aiden got one knee, pulling out a box. He pulled it open and inside was a ring adorned with a massive diamond that caught the light and almost blinded Julie.
“Julie Mara Whitlow, will you make me, Aiden Jonathan Greene, the happiest guy on earth and marry me?” he asked her with a hopeful glint in his eyes.
“Yes! Of course! Yes! I will! Yes!” Julie couldn’t help the happy tears that started to fall down her cheeks as she threw her arms around Aiden.
Amy couldn’t believe her eyes. She couldn’t believe her baby was finally here. After nine long months, her daughter was born. Madison Alicia Rayburn. Amy thought to herself, unable to hold back the smile that played on her pretty face. It had been a struggle to decide whether she would use her last name or Shawn’s for the baby. Finally, she had decided to go with her own. It wasn’t meant to disrespect Shawn, who was now dead. But he wouldn’t be in his child’s life, so Amy had decided to use her last name. She was finally a mother. At first, when she had found out she was pregnant, she was stressed. It hadn’t been planned, it had come as a surprise to her to discover she was even pregnant in the first place. It also didn’t help that she had slept with Shawn, who was Darcy’s ex-fiancee.
Amy wondered what Shawn would have thought of their perfect little girl. Would it be love at first sigh like it had been when Amy first laid eyes on her once the nurse had put her in her arms? Shawn wasn’t there to stand by her side as she was in labor for hours. Instead, her sister Jillyan had been by her side the whole time. Amy was grateful, she wouldn’t have been able to do it alone. Despite just being a teenager, Jillyan was mature for her age. She had to be, it was just the two of them. Their mother was planning on coming to West Valley to visit, but could only get a plane in the next few days. So until then, the Rayburn sisters were on their own. Amy was confident they would be just fine. It had been just the two of them for months, now there just happened to be a new addition to the family.
Amy was glad to be already home from the hospital. The day had started like any other day. She had woken up, taken a shower, and had breakfast with Jillyan that morning. Then Jillyan had headed off to school while Amy had sat outside in the backyard with the newspaper and a cup of lavender tea. She didn’t have much planned for the day. But if she was to make plans, they were about to be cancelled. For there suddenly was a little discomfort in her stomach. Amy had gotten up from her seat and was about to walk around the backyard when suddenly, her water broke. There was still a few days left before her due date, but she guessed the baby was coming now, whether she liked it or not. She was able to make her way back inside the house, and over to the telephone.
First she called for an ambulance. The dispatcher said one was on it’s way. After disconnecting the call, she called Jillyan. She must have been in class because she didn’t answer. So she had sent her a text.
DON’T BE WORRIED,
BUT I THINK THE BABY IS ON HER WAY.
MY WATER BROKE. MEET ME AT THE HOSPITAL
WHEN YOU GET THIS MESSAGE.
She then grabbed a bag of extra clothes which was already waiting, just in case she had to stay overnight at the hospital. She hoped she didn’t. Then, she had made her way outside onto the front porch, making sure the front door was locked securely before she left. A few moments later the ambulance came zooming up to the curb in front of the house. She was relieved that they hadn’t put on their sirens. It really wasn’t an emergency, she was just having a baby. The paramedic had helped her into the back of the ambulance as they quickly headed in the direction of the hospital. Amy started experiencing a little more discomfort as the contractions started. For a brief moment she had worried that they wouldn’t make it to the hospital in time. That she would have the baby right there in the back of the ambulance.
But you were a good baby and waited until we got to the hospital. Amy said as she looked down at Madison with a smile. They had put her in a wheelchair once they arrived at the hospital and took the elevator up to the fifth floor. As they were exiting the elevator, Amy was surprised to see Jillyan was already there and waiting for her. She had brought a friend along. Shana Romeo. Amy was relieved to see it wasn’t Karina Muniz, who she had forbidden Jillyan not to hang around with anymore. She had got her sister to take drugs, and she had almost killed Amy while she was on them. That’s why they lived in the Cosgrove house now. Jillyan had burnt their old house to the ground, with Amy trapped inside. She had been rescued, but the house was destroyed.
Once it was time to go inside the hospital room, Shana had left. She had just come along to wait with Jillyan. Her sister was oddly calm as she reminded Amy to do her breathing exercises she had learnt in the pregnancy classes she had taken. Not long after, her contractions became a lot more intense. It was time to push. It seemed like so much time had passed, when in reality it had only been an hour and a half when the nurse told Amy to push one last time. And the sound of a baby crying filled her ears. Next to her, Jillyan was beaming from ear to ear, a few tears of happiness staining her cheeks. That’s when Madison was placed in Amy’s arms. She made a secret promise that she would protect her no matter what. They had to wait a few hours, but soon enough they were told they could go home.
Everything had gone well, there were no complications and the doctor said Madison was a very healthy baby. While the nurse and Jillyan got Madison dressed, Amy watched from the bed with a smile. She was told not to rush and get dressed until she felt fine. It took another hour or so but soon enough they were outside the hospital waiting for a taxi to come pick them up. The taxi ride home was calm, Madison was sleeping peacefully already. Once they got inside the house, Jillyan went up to her room to call Shana. Amy had sat down on the couch with Madison in her arms, taking in every detail of her daughter. She found Madison looked more like her than she did Shawn. Which Amy was secretly happy about. Sitting on the couch, hours passed until dusk fell on the town.
Amy had eventually gone upstairs. She was tired, and so was Jillyan. Madison was still sleeping so Amy put her down in her crib which was next to Amy’s own bed. She went to her sister’s room, Jillyan was doing some last minute homework before planning on going to sleep. It had been a long day. But a joyous one. Jillyan was excited that she was finally an aunt. Amy couldn’t help but hug her younger sister before saying goodnight. Now, in her own bedroom, Amy was looking forward to sleeping. Tomorrow would be a new day. With a small yawn, making sure she didn’t wake Madison, she headed over to her bed. She pulled the blankets down and climbed in. Placing her head down on the pillow. A soft sigh escaped from between her lips. She closed her eyes, taking a few deep breaths.
A few minutes passed, and Amy was fast asleep. Outside the window in the sky, a sliver of a pale moon hung in the dark canopy that was the sky. The minutes turned to hours. The neighborhood was quiet, eerily silent as the town of West Valley slept. There was suddenly a soft noise. Amy was asleep, unaware of her bedroom door that was opening slowly. Shadows dancing across the bedroom wall as a shadowy figure slipped into the room. Gliding over to the crib where Madison slept. The black cloaked figure turned slightly towards Amy, who had small smile of contempt on her lips as she slept. And then the figure turned back towards the baby, taking a step closer to the crib.