WEST VALLEY KILLER STRIKES AGAIN! read the headline on the front page of the newspaper. Amy Rayburn shook her head in disbelief. It had happened again. Someone else was dead. This time, Warren Biggs. He had been brutally murdered. Just like all the other victims of the killer. Despite the warm sunshine of the early morning, an icy cold shiver of fear snaked down Amy’s spine. She couldn’t help but wonder when the murders would stop. At this rate, the whole town of West Valley would be wiped out. Maybe that’s what the killer wanted. For West Valley to become a ghost town. A place you avoided, a place you spoke about as a ghost story around a campfire to scare your friends. It was unfortunate, but this was where Amy lived, where she was raising her newborn daughter.
Thinking about Madison, Amy couldn’t help the soft smile playing on her lips. Her daughter was perfect. She was inside, tucked away in her crib, sleeping. So far, she wasn’t a fussy baby at all. She was an angel, well behaved. She barely even cried. It was only when she needed her diaper changed. And at that, she didn’t cry a lot. Amy could tell her diaper needed changing just by the smell. A soft chuckle escaped from Amy’s lips. She didn’t mind Madison’s dirty diapers, it was just something she had to become accustomed to as a mother. She also had help, if a problem should arise. Her younger sister Jillyan was doing amazing as an aunt. And she had also hired a nanny to help out. Mrs. Arranda was a godsend. She came for a few hours every day, just so Amy could catch her breath.
The nanny was inside the house at that moment as well. She was cleaning, which she had offered. It wasn’t part of her job description. But she wanted to take off as much weight as she could from Amy’s shoulders. It was better for her, she didn’t mind. She had enough money to tip Mrs. Arranda well after she finished her day. Maybe one of these days I’ll ask her to stay for dinner. Amy thought to herself. She looked down once more at the newspaper in her hand. Warren had been killed just a few nights earlier. It had happened right in front of his house. The West Valley killer had murdered him, gouging out his eyes and slitting his throat before stuffing Warren’s body in the trunk of his car. Naomi had found him, her screams alerting his family who were inside the house waiting for him to return.
Amy couldn’t imagine what his daughters were going through. Both their parents were now dead. Their mother Scarlett had been killed a year or so prior. Now Warren, their father was also dead. Naomi had been so traumatized by finding his body that she had to be hospitalized for a night. His mother, Colleen, was beyond distraught. She was inconsolable that her only son had been killed. She had outlived him. Amy found that beyond sad. No parent should outlive their children. Amy wondered what they were going to do. Would Colleen take Taylor and Kaitlyn and get them out of West Valley? She had come to take care of them, Warren had asked her to after the death of his wife. It had been hard for him, raising two little girls on his own.
Now Warren was gone. Colleen had no reason to stay in town. It probably wasn’t safe for her as well. It didn’t matter how old you were. If the killer set his, or her, sights on you, chances of you surviving were slim. Especially if you were someone Colleen’s age. Amy figured Warren’s mother was probably in her early to mid sixties. Not much younger than Mrs. Arranda, who was probably pushing seventy years old. With a sigh, Amy tucked the newspaper under her arm and turned to the front door. She pulled it open and stepped inside the house, closing the door behind her. The house smelled like floor polish. A sweet, tangy odor. Jillyan was already at school, she had left not long ago that morning. Amy wasn’t sure what she would do today.
If the nanny could watch Madison, maybe she could get out of the house for a little while. Maybe I could grab a real coffee at the cafe downtown. she thought to herself with a small smile on her lips. She was bored of having the same coffee every day that came from her pantry. And getting out of the house and getting some fresh air would be nice. She was already dressed for the day. She had already lost all the baby weight and it was nice being able to wear her regular clothes again. Maternity outfits just weren’t that fashionable. She went into the kitchen and dropped the newspaper in the recycling bin. A quick search around the house and she found Mrs. Arranda in Jillyan’s room, making her bed. Her sister had been in a hurry, that she had forgotten to make her bed that morning.
Mrs. Arranda reassured Amy she would be fine. That she could go and enjoy some time out of the house. The nanny had nowhere else to be for the rest of the day. After reassuring her she would be back soon, Amy kissed Madison gently on the forehead. Making sure not to wake her from her peaceful sleep. Once she found her keys, wallet and cellphone, Amy was out the door. It was the perfect weather to walk downtown. It hardly rained in West Valley. That was one of the perks of living there. Sure, people around you died, but at least the weather was nice. Amy shook her head, clearing those thoughts away. Despite everything that was happening in town, she was truly happy. That’s because Madison had finally been born. It was true what they said, having a child was one of life’s best rewards.
Sure, Amy was a single mother. The father of her child had been murdered once they had moved to West Valley. But Amy was still young. She had just turned twenty-five. She had plenty of time to meet someone else. Who won’t get killed, hopefully. she thought to herself as she stopped at the edge of the street. When it was clear, she crossed, slowly making her way out of the residential area of town. Her heels clicked on the sidewalk as she made her way towards her destination. She listened to the cars whizzing by her on the street. The faint sound of a piano playing met her ears. She stopped in front of the music academy to listen for a few moments at the music drifting out an open window. Whoever was playing was a pro at it. With a small smile, Amy kept moving down the sidewalk.
Soon, she found herself downtown. She walked by Darcy’s store. It was just opening. She saw Darcy through the window. Amy would have waved but Darcy wasn’t her biggest fan. It was probably because Amy had stolen her fiancee and had gotten pregnant by him. She and Darcy were on talking terms now, at least. But Darcy always seemed wary around her, like Amy was going to do something else to stab her in the back. She’s married now and she doesn’t have to worry about me. Campbell isn’t even on my radar. Amy thought to herself. Maybe one day she and Darcy would be close friends like they had been once upon a time. Amy kept walking down the sidewalk, passing by Surge. Music blasted from inside. A few minutes later and she had reached her destination.
The cafe was already open and the smell of coffee drifted outside onto the sidewalk. It almost made Amy drool. She headed over to the doors, pushing them open and stepping inside. It smelled even more heavenly as she made her way over to the counter. A cheerful looking barista greeted her. It took Amy a few minutes to decide what she was going to have. A simple croissant with butter and a medium coffee mixed with a shot of espresso inside. The barista nodded and told Amy to take a seat anywhere. It was such a nice day, Amy went to sit outside at the tables placed in front of the cafe. She told the barista where she would be before she headed back outside into the warm sun. She walked over to a table, pushing the chair back and sitting down. Making herself comfortable. I could have my coffee and people watch. she thought to herself.
A few minutes later the barista appeared with her food and her coffee. Amy thanked her as the barista scurried away back inside the cafe. Amy leaned in close to the cup of coffee, inhaling the sweet aroma. She took a sip. It was amazing. Placing the cup down, Amy took a nibble from her buttery croissant. Also amazing. Amy made a mental reminder to come back whenever she had the time. She watched as more people began to drift into the cafe, getting their coffee fix for the day. Amy wasn’t the only one who was a fan of the coffee, it seemed. She took another sip from her cup as she gazed at the people passing by on the sidewalk. She recognized most of them. There was Ivy Corbin and Lilah Shull walking together, laughing about something on Lilah’s phone. Amy called out to them and waved.
There was Julie Whitlow walking by. Her diamond ring glowing so bright in the sun, it almost blinded Amy. I hope I’m invited to her wedding. Amy thought to herself. She took another bite from her croissant. She was so engrossed in her food that she didn’t hear the footsteps approaching. Suddenly, someone sat in the chair across from her. Ticking her gaze off her plate, Amy raised her eyes. A familiar face looked back at her, smiling.
“Do you mind if I sit with you?” Claire Olsen asked.
“Not at all. How are you?” Amy asked Claire.
She noticed the other girl was well dressed and put together. She was Dawn Olsen’s sister-in-law. One of the more provocatively dressed girls in town. Claire had an amazing body and face and wasn’t scared to flaunt it. She too had gone through something tragic. Her mother-in-law Regina had been killed. Decapitated right there in their home. As if that hadn’t been enough, her nephew Charlie had also been killed not that long ago. He was one of the teens in town that had fallen victim to the killer. Amy had attended his funeral. She would never forget the look on his family’s face. It was forever etched in her memory. Amy couldn’t imagine how Dawn felt burying her own son. Probably like everyone else who had to bury a loved one. Like their world was ending. she thought to herself.
“Shocked about Warren Biggs. What happened to him is so crazy. His poor family!” Claire explained.
“I know. His poor daughters, no mother and father. I hope they’re going to be okay.” Amy replied with a frown. She took a sip from her coffee.
“Did you hear about the memorial service?” Claire asked as the barista came to take her order.
She hadn’t. She shook her head. “No, I didn’t hear about it.” she replied.
“It’s a memorial service tonight at eight. At City Hall. It’s for all the people that have been killed.” Claire revealed.
“That’s nice. Who planned it?” Amy asked, arching an eyebrow in curiosity. She expected for Claire to say it was the mayor or someone from city council.
“Darcy Adkins planned it.” Claire replied.
“Oh. Umm.. I guess I wasn’t as updated on town events as I thought. Darcy and I..we’re not exactly close.” Amy replied with a deep frown creasing her pretty face.
“But you should attend. The whole town is expected to be there.” Claire pointed out.
“Yeah, I’ll be there. Definitely.” Amy replied with a reassuring smile.
Julie had heard about the memorial service taking place that night. Darcy had called her personally and had told her about it. She thought it was a good idea. To remember all those they had lost. For Julie, it was her father Harrison. Now that she was planning her wedding, she missed him more than ever. He wouldn’t be there to walk her down the aisle. A pang of sadness hit Julie as she walked down the sidewalk, her heels clicking. She guessed it would be her mother who would walk her down the aisle instead. At least I still have her. Julie thought to herself. For now she was thinking of having the ceremony at St-Gregory’s church. There was still time to change her mind. Was it in poor taste? Her father had been killed there. So had Blake Tucker.
St-Gregory’s was in West Valley, but there was enough time to look at other churches. Julie reminded herself to talk to Aiden about it. She was on her own today, hunting for the perfect wedding dress. Her mother had accompanied her the last time, but Christy had to work the morning shift at Surge. So Julie and Megan had walked together until Megan had to take a different route to get to the high school. It was nice to spend some time with her younger sister, who was still reeling from the death of her friend, Hanna Workman. Once Megan had hurried off, Julie kept walking. Heading out of the residential area of West Valley and into the heart of the downtown. The shops and cafes had just begun to open for the day. Julie wanted to get an early start, she didn’t know how busy she would be.
As she passed by the cafe, she noticed Amy Rayburn and Claire Olsen talking over a cup of coffee. She would have stopped to say hello but she didn’t want to interrupt them. From the looks of it, they were having a very serious conversation. Julie shrugged to herself as she kept moving down the sidewalk. She already knew where her first destination would be. Darcy & Jane’s store. It was just up ahead, a few doors down. Before she entered, she stopped to look at her reflection in the glass of the store’s door. Her ring sparkled on her finger, catching the light of the sun. It must have cost Aiden a fortune. She wasn’t actually sure how much he had payed for it. It was beautiful, all that mattered was that she had accepted his proposal, and that the ring was hers.
People always had the same reaction seeing her ring for the first time. A gasp of surprise. Julie hadn’t grown tired of it yet. Just thinking about it now brought a wide smile on her lips as she pushed open the doors and stepped into the store. Music blared from the speakers around the store. Julie recognized the song. “Mother’s Daughter” by Miley Cyrus. I like this song. she thought to herself. She didn’t know why, but hearing the song put her in an even better mood. Julie looked around the store. There were only a handful of other shoppers at that moment. There was no sign of Darcy, but Jane stood behind the counter. She looked up from the cash register, noticed Julie and smiled in greeting. She had Jane’s number, she had text her the night before to let her know she was coming in to look at some wedding dresses.
Julie already knew where the dresses were. At the back of the store. She had her own private dressing room where she could try them on. Jane had already told her she wasn’t going to interfere. She’d be waiting to assist her if Julie needed any help. Spotting the rack of wedding dresses at the back of the store, Julie’s eyes lit up. She made a beeline for them. From the looks of it, they were all stunning. Crisp and white, shining bright under the lights of the store. She couldn’t wait to try them on. Don’t forget to send pictures to Megan, she wanted to see. Julie reminded herself. She remembered the conversation she and her younger sister had earlier while they had been walking. Megan was excited, she was going to be the maid of honor.
Megan and their mother had yet to find their dresses for the wedding. Julie wanted to be there for that. She wanted it to be a special occasion. If her father was still alive, he would have gone with Aiden to get himself a tuxedo. Julie had seen her father in a tuxedo before, he had looked very handsome. She felt another pang of sadness hit her as she browsed through the wedding dresses. One in particular suddenly caught her eye. She pulled it down from the rack, turning to face the mirror. She held the dress in front of her. Hmm, looks like I found a prospect. she thought to herself. She smiled, she liked the way dress looked. Now, it was time to try it on. She carried it carefully over to the private dressing room, stepping inside and closing the curtain for privacy. She slid out of her street clothes and stepped into the dress.
“Did you find something?” called a voice from the other side of the curtain.
Julie jumped, slightly startled. It was just Jane. “I think maybe.” she replied.
“Is it okay if I see?” Jane asked.
“Sure, here goes!” Julie said, pulling open the curtain and stepping out.
Jane gasped in surprise, clapping her hands together. “You look amazing!” she told Julie, excitement flashing in her eyes.
“I really like it!” Julie replied, taking a step back so Jane could get a good look at her.
“Everyone’s jaws are going to drop when they see you in this dress!” Jane explained.
“I feel like a princess. I think I’ll take it.” Julie replied, looking at herself in the mirror with satisfaction.
“Amazing! I’ll go work on the bill and get you a bag for the dress. Don’t worry, you’re one of my best customers so I’ll try to give you my best price.” Jane told her.
“Won’t Darcy mind?” Julie asked as she stepped back into the dressing room. She closed the curtain and slid out of the dress.
“Of course not! She’s the one who suggested it! I’ll be at the counter.” Jane replied. Julie listened to her heels walking away.
A few moments later, Julie stepped out of the dressing room, back in her street clothes. She waved to Sasha Ferris, the other girl was browsing through some floppy sunhats, before she made her way over to the cash register to pay for her wedding dress.
“This is my best price.” Jane said with a grin. She slid a piece of paper over to Julie.
Julie looked at it and then back up to Jane. “Seriously? That’s a bargain! Sold!” she said with a small chuckle as she pulled out her wallet.
“Remember, if you change your mind for another dress, just let me know. It shouldn’t be a problem.” Jane replied, handing Julie the bill.
“Oh I don’t think I’m going to want another dress. This is a final sale.” Julie told her with a smile.
“Great! On a side note, are you going to the memorial tonight? Maybe I’ll see you there?” Jane asked.
“Yeah, I plan on going. I’ll look for you.” Julie replied.
“That’d be nice! See you later! And thanks for shopping!” Jane replied before turning to serve another customer.
Julie smiled and made her way out of the store. Once she reached the sidewalk, she pulled out her phone. Dialed a number. The line rang once, twice. Finally someone picked up.
“Hey mom! Guess what? I found my dress!” Julie explained as she made her way down the sidewalk, excitement glinting in her eyes.
With his eyes closed, Derek tilted his face towards the ceiling and let out a soft moan. Wendy’s head popped out from in between his legs. A small smirk playing on her lips as she got to her feet, smoothing out her hair. The couple were clearly having an intimate moment. It wasn’t often they had the house to themselves, they might as well have taken advantage of it. Derek wasn’t sure where Isabel and Sasha had gone. He was just grateful they had given him and Wendy some much needed privacy. Derek smiled at Wendy, watching as she sauntered off up the stairs to the second floor of the house. With a sigh of contempt escaping from his lips, Derek got to his feet. He pulled his pants up from around his ankles.
From what just happened, I guess Wendy isn’t mad at me anymore. he thought to himself with a smirk playing on his handsome face. Wendy had accused him of being into Fallon McQueen. He really wasn’t. He had eyes only for Wendy. He was just curious about the other girl. They were acquaintances, he didn’t really know her despite living in West Valley for years. Fallon had started off kind of geeky and plain, but now she seemed to have blossomed into her looks. Maybe she was paying more attention to them since becoming best friends with Darcy Adkins. Just because he wanted to get to know Fallon didn’t mean Derek was obsessed with her or wanted to sleep with her. Despite Wendy’s suspicions, he would never cheat on her. He wasn’t one of those guys.
They clearly had something good going, Wendy kept Derek on his toes. She could do something out of the blue that surprised him. She had just done that. He had been sitting on the couch watching the sports highlights when she had sauntered into the living room. A mischievous glint in her eyes. She had dropped to her knees in front of him, looking up at him with a sexy smile on her lips as she unfastened his belt. She was also beyond gorgeous, one of the best looking girls in town. Why would he want to lose her? She made him feel a way he could never feel with someone else. He was crazy about her, he didn’t want anyone else but her. From upstairs, he could hear the shower running. For a brief moment, Derek considered joining Wendy.
Instead, Derek made his way out of the living room and into the kitchen. His thoughts wandered to the events of the last few days. Warren Biggs was dead. He couldn’t believe it. Warren was a friend of his. They had hit it off right away once they had met each other. They had become fast friends. They had a lot in common, but mostly their interest in sports. They would even train together at the gym. They wouldn’t be doing that anymore. Ever again. Derek was shocked. He never would have guessed Warren would have been the killer’s next victim. Naomi had called him to deliver the bad news. He had almost dropped the phone as he had listened to Naomi explain what had happened. Once he had gotten off the phone with Naomi, Derek had gone to sit outside on the front porch.
He had sat looking up at the sky. Shedding a few tears over his friend who was now dead. Derek wasn’t much of a crier, but the news had hit him really hard. Warren is dead. Warren is dead. he had kept repeating to himself. He had let it sink in. It almost didn’t seem possible. But in West Valley, anything was possible. Someone who was alive one day, could be dead the next. It was like winning an unlucky lottery. Warren was gone, and his family and friends were devastated. There were rumors that his mother Colleen was going to move away and take Kaitlyn and Taylor with her. They couldn’t have a normal life, a normal childhood if they stayed in West Valley. That wasn’t the only rumor. Apparently Naomi was interested in buying the Biggs home.
Derek found that a little odd. Why buy your dead boyfriend’s house? Naomi was still living with Fallon. They had been housemates since the beginning. Blake and Scott had lived with them, but they were dead now. Gwen Tiller had moved in with the two other girls for a short period of time, until she too had been killed. If Naomi moved out, Fallon would be living by herself. It wasn’t uncommon to have a single household in town, but there was safety in numbers. Meredith Dupree lived on her own. So did Jane Porter. Beth Myers too, now that I think of it. Derek thought to himself. These girls were independent, but living alone was also dangerous. The killer was like a phantom, somehow getting inside your home, murdering you and then disappearing.
The girls who shared the house with him, were safe. Derek wasn’t going to let anything happen to Wendy, Sasha and Isabel. There had been another male living with them, Adam Raines, but he too had fallen victim to the killer. No one knew who it was this time around. It could have been a male, or a female. Or a group of people. Someone who had picked up where Scott Emerson had left off. Derek wasn’t sure if it was actually Brandon Covington who was behind the killings this time. Sure, the news had broke that he was alive, somewhere out there in the world. It would be too simple if it was him, why hadn’t he been caught by now? Derek just wanted to go on with his life, to not have to worry about who was going to die next.
He shook those thoughts away to the back of his mind as he pulled open the fridge door. Behind him, Wendy appeared, dressed for the day.
“Well that was fun.” she said with a smirk on her lips.
“You spoil me.” Derek told her with a wink. He gazed into the fridge before turning to look at her. “You didn’t drink that big bottle of imported wine I bought, did you?” he asked curiously.
Wendy frowned. “Oh no, that brand is too strong for me. Why do you ask?” she replied.
“Because it’s not where I left it. It’s not in here. I didn’t even get to try it yet.” Derek told her with a slight frown.
“Then it was probably Sasha or Isabel. But we both know Sasha doesn’t drink. So that only means it could be one person.” Wendy explained.
“Isabel? Is everything okay with her?” Derek asked.
“Well there must be something wrong if she is resorting to alcohol.” Wendy replied.
“Should I talk to her?” Derek asked.
“Let me. If it’s a delicate situation, it needs a woman’s perspective.” Wendy said with a wink.
“Speaking about women, is it true Naomi is going to buy the Biggs home?” Derek asked as he shut the fridge door and lead the way into the living room.
“It’s not set in stone yet, but she’s interested.” Wendy replied as they sat on the couch.
Derek was about to reply when there was a brusque knock at the front door. With a shrug he got to his feet and headed over to the door. He pulled it open, revealing two policemen standing on the front porch.
“Can I help you, officers?” he asked curiously.
“Derek Vance?” one of the policemen asked.
“That’s me.” he replied. What’s going on? he thought to himself.
“We’re going to have to ask you to come down to the station for some questioning.” the policeman explained.
“Why?” Derek asked. For a brief moment he thought this was a prank.
“We just got an anonymous tip from a concerned citizen. She said she saw you sneaking around Warren Biggs’ home moments before he was killed.” the policeman replied.
“What? No I wasn’t.” Derek frowned, looking back at the house.
“Come with us, please.” the policeman replied as they both grabbed him by the arms and lead him towards the squad car.
Dawn looked over at the poster sized picture of Regina and Charlie, a soft smile playing on her lips. A picture that was taken at Charlie’s last birthday, mere weeks before Regina had been killed. They stood side by side in front of the water fountain downtown on Main Street, smiling happily for the camera. Dawn had taken that picture herself. That’s why she had chosen it to bring with her to the memorial that night. Darcy had called her and had asked her if she wanted to say a few words. To honor her dead mother, and her dead son. Dawn had agreed. While she was still grieving, she found it had become easier to talk about what had happened. Regina and Charlie had both fallen victim to the killer. Regina had been murdered first. Dawn had never imagined that Charlie would follow not long after.
Dawn couldn’t help but blink back tears that threatened to overflow from her eyes. She was the only one home at the moment. Finn, her younger son, was at school. Claire, her sister-in-law had gone out. Dawn’s brother Michael was off at work, and so was her half-sister, Kendall. That was something she was still getting used to as well. It was a big change in the family dynamic. Regina and Mayor Covington had an illegitimate love child. She had finally been found, and she was now living with Dawn. It was a little strange having Kendall around, a constant reminder of her late mother’s indiscretions. However, she and Dawn got along really well so far. The rest of the family had also welcomed Kendall with open arms. They needed each other more than ever now with all the tragedy that had befallen the family.
Why’d mom have so many secrets? Dawn thought to herself with a frown. The affair with Mayor Covington was one thing. Discovering they had a child and had put it up for adoption was another revelation. Even the fact that they were living in the Covington’s old house had come as a shock. Any other person would have put the house up for sale and would have moved out. Yet Dawn couldn’t seem to bring herself to do that. The good memories outweighed the bad. Even if her mother had been killed in the house, just a few rooms down from where Dawn was standing. Every time Dawn closed her eyes, she saw the grisly scene again. Her mother’s bedroom splattered with blood, her decapitated head lying still on the floor. Regina’s wide glassy eyes staring, her mouth open in a twisted silent scream of horror.
A shiver of fear snaked down Dawn’s spine. She barely went into her mother’s room anymore. She had even locked the door by key and had hidden it away. There was no reason to go in there anymore. Once the blood had been cleaned up, the room had looked untouched. It was after finding Finn playing in there that Dawn had locked the door. The key was hidden away in a small tin box that Dawn had placed up in the attic. A lot of her mother’s things were down in the basement. Dawn realized it had been a while since she had last gone down there. It’s how she had found out about Kendall’s existence. As if against her will, Dawn found herself making her way out of the dining room and over to the basement door. She pulled the door open, peering down the dark staircase.
Dawn’s hand found the light switch, flicking it on. She frowned, not realizing she was holding her breath. She let it out before making her way slowly down the stairs. Michael and Claire lived down there in the basement. But there was also a storage room. It contained old furniture, trunks of old clothes, and boxes of mementos from when her mother was younger. Reaching the basement, Dawn made her way over to the storage room’s door. She reached out, her hand wrapping around the doorknob and pushing the door open. It responded with an ominous creak that almost stopped Dawn in her tracks. She hesitated for a brief moment before she entered into the room. Her eyes scanned her surroundings. It came to her attention that the light overhead was busted, but it was no problem.
There was enough sunlight coming in from the window. It sent shafts of dust swirling through the air. Dawn couldn’t help but sneeze. I guess I’m not staying in here too long. she thought to herself with a frown creasing her face. It seemed like nothing had moved since the last time she had been in there. There was her father’s old jukebox. A backpack that Dawn noticed as her own. She remembered it instantly. It was the backpack she had in the eighth grade. From where she stood she could see there was still books and papers inside. It brought a soft smile to her lips. She took another step deeper into the storage room. Her glance fell on the hot pink bowling ball in the corner of the room. That was Regina’s, when she had been on the West Valley Ladies Bowling League. Dawn loved bowling, now she knew where she had gotten it from.
A light breeze rattled the window, making Dawn startle. She shook her head, stepping over a pile of magazines on the floor. Ticking her gaze down she realized they weren’t magazines after all, but comic books. The comic books that Charlie had loved to read when he was Finn’s age. She remembered Charlie couldn’t bring himself to throw them out, so he put them in storage. Dawn bent down and picked up one of the comic books. LAVA MAN VS TALL GIRL! read the cover. A small smile touched Dawn’s lips as she put the comic book back on top of the pile. In the other corner of the room were the boxes she was looking for. Boxes of old letters and pictures that belonged to her mother. Dawn couldn’t help but wonder what she would find this time. Would she find out more of her mother’s secrets? Or had she discovered them all?
Just pray you don’t find out your adopted. Dawn thought to herself. No, she was getting carried away. She knew she wasn’t adopted. She knew who her real father and mother were. It was a good thing that Mayor Covington wasn’t her father, that would have made Brandon her brother. For a brief moment, it made her think of Michael Myers and Laurie Strode. But this wasn’t a movie. This was real life. Unfortunately it was playing out like something out of a horror movie. The serial killer, the small town, the people getting murdered at random. The clueless police who were not even close to finding out the killer’s identity. Her mother’s killer had been stopped. Scott Emerson had been shot to death. But there was someone else out there, that someone had brutally murdered Charlie.
Dawn shook her head and made her way over to her mother’s boxes. She knelt down on the floor and pulled back the flaps. There were pictures and letters with elastics tied around them. Dawn pulled out a picture, a smile on her lips. It was of her parents. They stood smiling side by side at a concert. Dawn leaned in for a closer look at the figure in the background. Is that Stevie Nicks? Dawn wondered to herself, her eyes widening slightly. She had never seen that picture before. She shrugged and put the photo aside. She spotted a letter written in her mother’s neat handwriting. She picked it up. It was just what Dawn was looking for. The letter was addressed to Mayor Covington. It was a sympathy letter. The mayor’s wife had just died in a car accident. Her car had gone off the bridge and into the waters of the West Valley river.
Of course. Brandon was in the accident. He survived. Dawn thought to herself. What would have happened if Brandon had died? And his mother had survived? Or if they had both died? Would there be no horror in the town of West Valley? Would everyone be living normally and happily? That would be ideal. Her mother and Charlie would still be alive. But that was just a fantasy. The horror in town was very real and people around her were dying. Dawn always wondered who would be next. She worried it would be another member of her family. Another shiver of fear ran down her spine. She put the letter aside and grabbed another. This one was from the mayor to her mother. He spoke about their recent trip to Monaco. Dawn’s eyes widened in surprise.
She always thought her mother had never been anywhere else, had never left West Valley. And now she was finding out she had traveled to Monaco. Reading the letter further, Dawn discovered the mayor had bought a villa there. I wonder who owns it these days? Dawn thought to herself. It was twenty or more years now that the mayor had been killed. Was the villa still in his name or did someone else own it? Could that be where Brandon was hiding? Halfway across the world? A faint noise nearby caught Dawn’s attention. She realized it was the house phone ringing upstairs. Michael and Claire had their own separate phone line down in the basement. Dawn got to her feet and hurried out of the storage room. She made her way up the stairs to the main floor of the house. She made her way into the kitchen and picked up the phone, bringing it to her ear.
“Hello?” she said into the phone.
A burst of static exploded in her ear. Dawn winced and then a voice spoke. Distorted. “Hello, Dawn. Having fun reminiscing?” the voice asked.
It was a voice she recognized. The killer! And yet she couldn’t help but ask. “Who is this?” she said into the phone.
“Oh, Dawn. I’m disappointed in you. After everything, you should know who this is.” the killer replied with a chuckle.
“Fine then, what do you want?” Dawn replied with a gulp.
“I want to know why you’re reminiscing about dead people.” the killer said.
Dawn’s eyes widened in fear. Was he watching? Did he know she was down in the storage room reading her mother’s old letters? She turned towards the kitchen window.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” she told him.
“Sure you don’t. But if I can take you away from your memories for a moment, I’d like to play a quick game.” the killer answered ominously.
“I’m too old to play games.” Dawn replied.
“But I’m not. It’s a simple guessing game. All you have to do is guess who won’t be alive to attend the memorial tonight.” the killer chuckled.
Dawn felt like she had been submerged in icy cold water. “How could I possibly know that?” she asked, her heart beating fast.
“Alright, alright. I’ll give you a hint. Someone of the female gender is dying tonight. That’s all I can say. Now can you guess who it is?” the killer asked.
Dawn’s heart began beating faster in her chest. “Christy Whitlow? Jane Porter? Ivy Corbin?” she called out a few names off the top of her head.
“I’m sorry, that’s the wrong answer. None of the above. But you’ll find out soon enough. You haven’t heard the last of me.” the killer replied before suddenly hanging up on the other end of the line.
What am I going to do? Someone’s in danger and I have no clue who it could be! Dawn thought to herself, worry glinting in her eyes as she hung up the phone.
Time seemed to be dragging on. It was mid-afternoon and Hayley had grown restless. She’d been at home sitting on the couch, watching television. Ivy had gone out and Lilah was holed up in her bedroom. The bedroom door was closed, Hayley figured Lilah didn’t want to be disturbed. Hayley had glanced at the time every few minutes, growing restless at how it seemed to be moving slowly. There was still a few hours left before she’d start heading over to the memorial. It was only starting at dusk, since they would be having a candle lighting ceremony. Impatient, Hayley had turned off the television and had made her way into the kitchen. For a brief moment she had thought about baking some cupcakes to pass the time, but finally she decided against it.
She had worried that if she had started to bake, she would have really lost track of time. So instead she had made her way out of the kitchen and into her bedroom. She had stared at her reflection in the mirror. Her makeup and hair was flawless. She had even dressed as Darcy had instructed when they had spoken on the phone. The other girl didn’t want somber colors at the memorial. Hayley had thought it was a great idea so she had dressed accordingly. Satisfied with her reflection, she had made her way out of the bedroom and back into the living room. With still plenty of time, and starting to become bored, Hayley decided the best idea was for her to head out. She collected her purse and had made her way outside into the sunshine. She didn’t have a particular destination in mind for the time being.
The memorial was taking place in front of the art school. There was plenty of room there for a large crowd. Hayley had a feeling that almost the whole town would attend. But for now, everyone was doing their own thing. Going about their day. It was another beautiful day and the sun shone down on Hayley as she made her way into town. The home she shared with Ivy and Lilah was just on the outskirts of town by St-Gregory’s church. The walk was pleasant, and some time had passed before she was met with the noise of downtown off in the distance. The feeling of restlessness had passed. Maybe she just had to get out of the house, that she was going a little stir crazy. As Hayley had continued heading towards downtown, a sweet smell had stopped her in her tracks.
She had looked up at the building she was standing in front of. A smile lit up on her face. Why waste time making cupcakes when I can have some already made ones? she had thought to herself. She was standing in front of the cupcake shop. Any cupcake in any flavor you could think of. That was a good way to waste some time until it was time to head over to the memorial. So Hayley had made her way inside the shop. It smelled even more heavenly in the shop. She found herself a free table, noticing she was the only one there. She sat down, waiting a few moments before the employee appeared and made her way over to the table. Hayley didn’t need a menu, she knew exactly what she was having. A vanilla and smarties cupcake topped with whipped cream. She had almost drooled just thinking about it.
While she had waited for her cupcake, Hayley wondered what she would say at the memorial. She had volunteered to speak. To say a few words about Bridget. And Ivy’s going to be saying a few words about Robin. she thought to herself. Hayley missed them both, they had been her housemates. Yet Robin wasn’t that easy to get along with. Bridget was more down to earth and easier to talk to. Now, only three of them remained. And they had grown closer. Hayley, Ivy and Lilah were like sisters now. They also watched out for each other. She didn’t know if Lilah was going to be at the memorial, but Hayley had planned to meet up with Ivy once she got there. Hayley drummed her perfectly manicured nails on the table top as she waited for her cupcake to arrive. She looked around the shop, it was nice to have the place to herself.
That’s when her cupcake came. Hayley smiled and thanked the employee. She took a bite. Mmmm. Heavenly! she thought to herself. The bell over the door rang, signaling another person’s presence. Hayley looked up to see Beth Myers enter the shop. She went over to the counter and ordered. While she waited, she looked around, spotting Hayley. With a warm smile on her face, she made her way over to the table.
“My order’s going to be ready in a few minutes. Do you mind if I sit with you while I wait?” Beth asked.
“Have a seat!” Hayley replied, motioning to the empty chair across from her. Beth sat down, a deep sigh escaping her lips as she did so.
“Rough day?” Hayley asked curiously.
“Long day at work. Ellie sure does run a tight ship.” Beth replied.
“Oh, you work at Surge?” Hayley asked.
“You’re looking at their newest employee.” Beth replied with a light chuckle.
“I worked at Surge. For like a week. I was the coat-check girl.” Hayley explained.
“Ellie scared you off only after a week, huh?” Beth asked.
Hayley giggled. “Ellie’s gotten nicer since Christy Whitlow became co-owner. But no, I just realized the job wasn’t for me. I wanted something more interesting.” she replied. She paused for a moment before continuing. “So are you going to the memorial later on?” she asked Beth.
“Nah. I was actually on my way home to crash. I was just craving something sweet.” Beth explained.
“Yeah the cupcakes here are legendary!” Hayley replied with a wide smile.
“Well, my order is ready. I hope the memorial goes well. See you around!” Beth replied as she got to her feet and went to pay at the counter. With a small paper bag in her hand, she turned, waving to Hayley as she headed out the door.
“See you!” Hayley called after her.
A few minutes later, Hayley was done with her own cupcake. Yum, that was so satisfying! she thought to herself. She pushed back her chair and went over to the counter. She payed the employee, not only were the cupcakes delicious, they weren’t too expensive either. Once she was done paying, she went over back to the table and sat down. She picked up a newspaper off the chair next to her. She flipped through it casually. There wasn’t anything interesting inside. A lot of stories about the murders, which brought a frown to Hayley’s pretty face. There were also rumors that a film company was interested in making a movie about West Valley. A horror thriller, and the company was interested in filming right there in the actual town. Hayley wasn’t sure how she felt about that.
Some hollywood producers looking to get rich off our own tragedy. It’s tasteless. she thought to herself. It was just a rumor and Hayley hoped nothing would come from it. She could just imagine West Valley being overrun with a film crew. For a brief moment she wondered if they would get any known actors to play in it. She wondered who they would cast to play her. But then she thought once more about how tasteless it would be. Their lives were playing out like a horror movie, they didn’t need a film company to immortalize that on a big screen. The movie, if made, would probably make a lot of money. It was almost as if the whole world knew what was going on in West Valley. That’s why no more tourists visited the town. They were too afraid to get viciously slaughtered by a psychopath.
Hayley didn’t blame them, she would have avoided the town for her own safety as well. And yet I can’t seem to move away and leave. she thought to herself as she folded up the newspaper with a sigh. She pushed the chair back, getting to her feet. She waved goodbye at the employee as she made her way to the door. She pushed it open and stepped out into the fast approaching dusk. She looked at her watch. There was no point heading back home, and she figured that Darcy was already at the art school. Hayley decided she would head on over and see if Darcy needed any help. It wasn’t a long walk, it would only take her a few minutes to get there. Her heels clicking on the concrete, she headed towards her destination. Hayley wasn’t worried, some shops around her were still open. If Darcy wasn’t there when she arrived, she would just wait for her.
Hayley made her way towards the art school. Humming to herself as she made her way along. That’s when something stopped her in her tracks. An uneasy feeling seemed to wrap itself around her. She turned and looked behind her. There was nothing out of the ordinary. So why did she feel like she was being watched? Above her head, a street lamp flashed on. Hayley let out a deep sigh and kept walking. She walked past the library, it’s windows dark. I guess they closed early to attend the memorial. she thought to herself. She moved past the library, aware of how loud her heels on the concrete sounded. That uneasy feeling she felt had yet to disappear. A frown creased Hayley’s pretty face. Once again, she turned around. The sidewalk behind her was empty.
“Is someone ther…” she trailed off with a yelp of surprise.
Hayley had been standing in front of an alleyway entrance. Out of the darkness of the alley, someone grabbed her. An arm around her waist, dragging her back into the shadows of the alley. A hand clamped over her mouth. Hayley struggled against the shadowy figure. Couldn’t break free from their iron-like grip. Darkness seemed to engulf the alley, obscuring what was happening. A few muffled screams escaped from Hayley, and then there was a sudden silence.
Dusk had finally fallen on the town. Which meant it was time for the memorial. The front door of the house opened and Darcy stepped out onto the front porch. She closed the door behind her, making sure it was locked. She was running a bit late. She had planned to close the store earlier, but a last minute shopper had ruined her plans. The shopper had taken her time before Darcy could even start the bookkeeping of the day. Once the customer had left, and she had locked the store’s door, Darcy had holed herself in the store’s office until she was done. Once she was finished, she had driven home quickly. Trying to stay under the speed limit as she still had to get home and shower and change. Once she had parked in front of the house, she had hurried inside to get ready.
Campbell was still at work so she had the whole house to herself. He would meet her at the memorial, he was coming straight after work. Pressed with time, Darcy had taken a quick shower. By the time she was getting dressed in her bedroom, she could see dusk was falling. It had taken her some time to even figure out what to wear. But finally, she was ready to go. Now, making sure the front door was locked securely behind her, she hurried back to her car. Of course, before she slid into the driver seat, she checked the backseat. Better to be safe than sorry. In those few minutes that she had been distracted, the killer could have hidden inside her car. But the backseat was empty, and a soft sigh of contempt escaped Darcy’s lips as she slid into the driver seat.
She turned the ignition on, the car roaring to life. She turned on the headlights before pulling away from the curb in front of the house. She didn’t bother turning on the radio, she drove in silence. Coming to a red light, she pressed on the brakes as the car rolled to a stop. Out of the corner of her eye she spotted the slightest hint of movement. She pressed down on the automatic locks before turning to look. Shadows danced in the red light. Maybe it was her mind playing tricks on her. Or maybe there had been someone skulking in the shadows. They were gone now. Darcy ticked her eyes ahead as the traffic light turned green and she took her foot off the brake, zooming off. The memorial wasn’t going to last too long. A lot of people, including herself, worked in the morning. She had to be there early, the store was expecting a shipment of new inventory.
Just thinking about it made her stifle a yawn. There would be some coffee at the memorial and that sounded like a good idea. She didn’t want to be boring, she wanted to have energy if she was going to speak. She wasn’t the best at public speaking but she had written up a speech. It was on a piece of paper in her purse. She turned the car onto another street and suddenly let out a shriek of surprise. Stomping down on the brakes. In the lights of the car, she had almost ran over a cat who was coming across the road. It looked at her and hissed before bounding into the shadows. Darcy’s heart raced in her chest as she took a deep breaths and then continued driving. A few moments later she was pulling the car up to the curb in front of the art school. She turned the ignition off before opening the door and sliding out of the car.
Darcy closed the car door and headed around to the curb. Doesn’t seem like anyone has arrived yet. she thought to herself. The art building loomed menacingly over her. There were a few lights on inside. That was in case someone had to use the restroom. While Darcy wasn’t too keen on traipsing in there by herself, the things she needed were inside. Taking a deep breath she stepped up onto the sidewalk and made her way towards the doors to the art building. Crickets chirped in the night air as she made her way up the steps to the door. She grasped the heavy handle and pulled the door open, stepping inside. The doors swung shut behind her with a loud boom that echoed all around her. It made Darcy almost jump out of her skin. She let out a nervous chuckle as she made her way over to the coffee machine that had been set up in the main hall.
She poured herself a cup and took a long sip. Strong coffee, it’ll definitely keep me awake. she thought to herself. She thought she heard footsteps from outside. She waited, expecting to see the door open. But it didn’t. Darcy frowned and took another sip from her cup. She put it down and made her way over to the door. Pulling it slightly open so she could take a look outside. There didn’t seem to be anyone out there. Was her mind playing tricks on her? She pulled the door open more wide and scanned her surroundings. There was another car now, parked behind hers. She was too far to tell if it belonged to someone she knew. She turned and letting the doors close, headed back inside. Someone had set up a desk there, and as she went over to it, noticed there was a box placed on top. It was plain, white, and had her name written on it.
She pulled the box open and peered inside. It was the candles she had asked for. She grabbed the box and made her way back to the door. Pushing it open and stepping back out into the night. This time she didn’t jump when the doors boomed shut behind her. She carried the box down the stairs and over to a spot on the grass. She put the box down and once again noticed the car that was parked behind hers. Was there someone in it? It was too dark to tell. Darcy took a few steps closer, when behind her came the sound of the booming doors. She spun around to face the art building. Had someone gone in? There was no one heading down the steps. Darcy found herself moving slowly across the grass. Heading back to the art building. Slowly, she made her way up the steps to the door.
She pulled it open and stepped inside as they closed behind her. She looked around the vast hall. There was no one in sight. An uneasy feeling wrapped itself around Darcy. She sucked in a deep breath. She slowly made her way back to the table where she had left her cup of coffee. She grabbed it and took another sip. A sudden creaking noise caught her attention. Darcy almost dropped the cup before placing it down on the table. Down the hall, a door was swinging lightly in the breeze. Darcy wanted to call out, but couldn’t find her voice. She tried staying calm. Maybe it was just the caretaker making his way through the building. Or maybe it was someone else. Darcy slid a hand into her pocket and pulled out her small red canister of pepper spray. She gripped it tightly in her hand, ready to attack. She eyed the door nervously.
And let out a scream when the restroom door swung open in her face, nearly hitting her. The other person also let out a scream of surprise. Darcy recognized it, lowering the pepper spray as a familiar figure stepped out into the hall. It was Fallon, her eyes wide as saucers. She was breathing hard. When she saw Darcy, she relaxed. The two friends stared at each other in silence for a few moments before they both burst out laughing. Their laughs echoed around them. It was a nice sound, Darcy realized. With the murders happening, everything was so serious most of the time. In a way, Darcy had been glad she had been caught off guard. She would have felt super bad if she had accidentally pepper sprayed Fallon. Lucky for both of us I didn’t bring my gun. she thought to herself. The gun was tucked away at home in one of her dresser drawers.
“Darcy! There you are, I was looking for you!” Fallon told her.
“Is that your car parked behind mine?” Darcy asked as she walked back over to the table.
“It’s my rental, yeah. My car’s in the garage. It’s been acting up again.” Fallon explained.
Darcy nodded. Fallon’s car wasn’t exactly brand new and she had bought it second hand. “Well sorry for scaring you. Why were you hiding?” she asked.
Fallon frowned. “I wasn’t hiding. I was about to come in but I thought maybe you were somewhere outside. And then I came in and went to see if you were in the restroom.” she explained.
“Ohh. So we just kept missing each other.” Darcy replied, nodding. “Well I’m glad you’re here. I could use the help. Want to help me carry some of these posters outside?” she asked Fallon.
Fallon nodded and they each grabbed a handful of posters and made their way outside. Darcy was surprised to see some people had started to arrive. She recognized Joanna and Barry Stanton. She waved as she and Fallon got to work. Darcy stopped for a moment to say hello to Jane. She give her directions as to where to find the coffee machine. By the time she and Fallon were done setting up, more people had arrived. She stood in front of the building, smiling as Campbell walked up and helped her set up her microphone. He kissed her, telling her he was proud of her. Darcy couldn’t help but blush. She went around speaking to a few people before starting. She stopped to thank Ivy Corbin for coming. Ivy asked her if she had seen Hayley. They had made plans to meet there.
Darcy hadn’t seen Hayley, but she told Ivy she would keep an eye out for her. She went over to the microphone, smiling over at Campbell as she did so. She leaned in close, clearing her throat. The microphone screeched in response, and Darcy jumped back in the surprise. The crowd laughed. Fallon was shaking her head, a wide smile on her face. Darcy leaned close to the microphone once more. Speaking, her voice came out crystal clear.
“Now that I got everyone’s attention, I just want to thank you all for coming out tonight.” Darcy said. “I wanted this memorial to be a memorable one. We all have lost people we care about.” she continued.
“Yet instead of us mourning, which we have done too much of, I think we should celebrate the lives of those we lost.” she said, looking into the crowd. “Lives of people like Charlie Olsen, Hanna Workman, Gwen Tiller, Thomas Roe, Owen Ta…” Darcy trailed off when suddenly, someone screamed.
Another scream. Loud gasps. Darcy stepped away from the microphone, a frown creasing her face. She looked out at the crowd. What’s going on? she thought. Another scream, some people started running off in fear. Darcy looked over at Campbell, who was pale as a ghost. She then ticked her gaze over to Fallon, who was pointing at something just a few feet away. More people were screaming and running, creating a stampede. Darcy turned and looked in the direction her friend was pointing. Her eyes widening in horror at the grisly sight. Hanging from a noose around her neck from the curved top of a street lamp, was Hayley Summers. Her dead eyes wide open in a unblinking stare of terror. She had been gutted, her insides drooping out slowly from her body. Darcy stumbled back, her hand clapping over her mouth.
Darcy turned away from the grisly sight as Hayley’s dead body swung softly in the breeze.