Is there an objective evil in the world? Some sinister force that seeks to enforce its will on others? Could that force take on human form bringing together a group of friends for the sole reason of killing them off one by one? I mean villians in a movie always have a motivation, at least the good ones do. Darth Vader wanted a peaceful galaxy seeing the Republic paralyzed by its bureaucracy determined to make a change. Thanos wanted to balance the scales of the Universe bringing an end to over-population and suffering. This though, no amount of reasoning could justify what was done to Jennifer’s body.
Becky’s sobs continued to echo, more for show than anything, it was selfish weeping. Kelly was right about that at least. Kelly was trying to bring her downstairs, but even I knew that type of crying only compounded irrationality. As if on que Becky ripped out of Kelly’s grasp, running down the long hall. She was gone before Kelly or I could get to her.
Kelly looked at me with disdain as if I should have done something. “Did you want to go after her?” I asked.
“No, Fuck her.” Kelly replied, “She wants to die then so be it.”
Without another word we made our way down to the living room, where we had all been before. The large vaulted room offering no comfort from the cold sinking into the lodge. I was proud at how well the boys seemed to be holding themselves together through this, but it was obvious that even they couldn’t take much more. Michelle had tears down her face, but unlike Becky she seemed sincere.
“So, why was she in the bathroom alone?” I asked.
Everyone looked around the room as if someone else would be able to enlighten me on the reason. Michelle was the only one who did, cold faced she said, “Everyone assumed it was you, so we ditched the whole wait here in place. People wandered around alone, took showers, what have you. Jennifer…”
“Jennifer had been gone for a long time, we all went looking as a group. Fucking Becky found her.” Kelly said.
“Where is Becky now?” Blake asked.
“She ran off.” Kelly said,
“Shit Kelly, and you didn’t go after her? What if something gets her?” Blake asked.
Kelly was about to rip into Blake again. It was amazing how he could just jump right under her skin without any effort. It was always so awkward being around them because of it. I decided to jump in before it completely blew.
“The killer had a mask.” I said.
Everyone was looking at me now, well at least everyone that was left. “I was going to search my room for clues, or figure a way to get out. I ended up passing out though. The stress had got to me, but I couldn’t stop dreaming about it. Each time there was always something out of the corner of my eye. Something that I had been missing each time, but I focused on it. It was a glitter bunny mask, like those ones that freshmen in the sorority wear during pledge month.”
“You’re retarded.” Kelly said, “what are you even talking about? No one would just have one of those, it’s not like it’s the best of days when you have one.”
“I don’t do Greek, what is a glitter bunny mask?” Andrew asked.
“It’s basically what pledges wear when entering into the sorority. The’re servants. They clean their sisters room, cook their sisters food, you know stuff like that.” Jennifer replied.
“Get raped by the football team…” Blake said.
If looks could kill Kelly’s would have Blake. She huffed up her chest like she was about to say something, but Jennifer beat her to the punch.
“That was Tina Tanner. It wasn’t the team but one guy, and there was no proof that it even happened. He didn’t even go to trial.” Jennifer said.
“Oh…oh I remember that. I was a freshman, she was the one who wrote slut on her chest and took a dive off the economics building. Holy shit, no one ever talks about that.” Andrew said realizing that he said it a bit too enthusiastically quickly shrinking down into the couch.
“So, what do you think Steph? Tina Tanner’s back from the dead to get her revenge on us?” Kelly asked.
“No, not Tina, but maybe someone like her. You guys know how brutal those months are, maybe someone. Most of those deaths on campus are pretty Greek related.” I said.
Andrew and I were maybe the only ones who were not in Greek life, and for a good reason. Wind River University was a rough place for the Greek life. Wyoming was pretty well cut off from most of those centralized Greek charters, and the University’s Administration policy was more of no news is good news. That left a lot of hormone ridden teens with too much time on their hands.
A loud crash echoed from upstairs. No one really knew what to do, and looks were exchanged by everyone. The crash was followed by a scream, and I ran toward it. Blake, came up from behind me on the stairs passing by me quickly. He was down the hall before before I reached the halfway point.
I rounded the hall seeing the open door, and Blake cursing coming from it. Inside Blake held Becky’s arm that was bleeding. There were just tears coming down her face, no weeping. At least none yet. Becky was shaking like she was in shock. We heard footsteps coming down the hall from the others. Each one entering the room. Kelly had a towel in hand, prepared for the worst. They began attending to Becky’s wound her eyes on the window that was shattered. The glass laid about all over the carpet.
“What happened?” I asked.
Becky not taking her eyes off the window replied, “Tina…Tina Tanner.”
The four of us sat in silence ignoring the body of our friend in the next room. The smell of iron occasionally wafting out to where we sat. You could time it with the blizzard outside, wind whipping against the house would soon be followed by the smell of blood. Becky kept looking over at me…at my hands. The once hot sticky blood was starting to dry flaking off in some places. I could feel her eyes digging into my soul, burning my hands. It made me feel guilty. Guilty like I did something wrong. Like she was so perfect. She started to cry. It made it worse.
Kelly’s tapping foot became noticeably louder, as Becky began her sobbing, “Would you get a hold of yourself you gigantic baby.”
“Kelly!” Jennifer snapped “That doesn’t help.”
Jennifer put her arm around Becky trying to console her. Kelly gets up and walks to the room with the body still inside. She stands there for a moment before slamming the door shut causing some of us to jump.
“KELLY, seriously please stop.” Jennifer said. She was still trying to calm Becky down.
“How can I stop Jennifer, hmm? Shall I just play some music, maybe we can bake brownies, and braid each other’s hair. Or maybe we can actually acknowledge one of you is a killer.”
Becky’s let out a large wail. Kelly throws her hands up, “Stop crying or the next person dead is you.”
Jennifer confronts Kelly standing up, “That’s enough.”
“Or what? You going to sleep with Jake again? I bet you did it. Your always stalking people. Did Angel’s happiness bother you that much that you killed her?”
The room returned to silence, except for Becky who was still crying. She was a baby, always has been. My hands grew cramped. I didn’t want to close them. The blood was sticky like maple syrup. It wasn’t the only blood on me, but it was all could focus on. The cold was setting in as my adrenaline began to dissipate. I wanted to vomit, I wanted to scream.
Michelle noticed too that Becky kept eyeing my hands. “Hey Steph, why don’t we go get you washed up.”
Kelly said, “No she’s not going anywhere, no one is leaving this room until the police come.”
Michelle said, “We don’t know how long it will take for them to get here, and her covered in blood is uncomfortable for us all.”
Before Kelly could argue more the front door swung open with a great force. Snow forced itself inside as two figures fought their way in. Jake was the first to take off the ski mask covering his face while Andrew pushed the door shut against the wind. The room grew noticeable colder when they entered.
Jake looked at the girls. He kept his eyes on Becky looking sympathetic. He eventually turned his gaze to me. “Why is she still covered in blood?”
“We don’t know who the killer is. We need the evidence.” Kelly said.
“We don’t know there is a killer. She could have just done it herself.” Jake said.
“I don’t know many people able to slit their own throat” Kelly replied.
I knew what Kelly was trying to say even if she was being a bitch about it. I wasn’t sure that I even wanted to wash it off anyways. It was all that seemed to be left of Angel. Kelly and Jake went on arguing. They normally did that. It’s what happens when you date a close friend. You can’t have disagreements without it getting personal. I liked Jake he was nice.
Michelle touched my shoulder and whispered to me, “You need to change.”
I didn’t want to, but I did want to get away from Kelly and Jake even more.
Michelle didn’t say anything as I stripped and got into the shower. She had brought me a fresh set of clothes, and sat on the counter as I showered. I knew of Michelle before we went to college. We had a class together in high school. We ended up becoming friends after we recognized each other in English 1010. It wasn’t like Michelle and I were the best of friends, but it’s how I met Angel who was now dead.
I could see the water tainted red as the blood washed off me. My head leaned against the wall as the stress was overcoming me. There was so much more blood on me then I had realized. The red tint to the water just kept going. I could feel myself start to cry, but I held it back. I could hear my grandmothers voice Wyoming girls don’t cry.
Michelle broke the silence, “Do you think Kelly was right. Someone killed her? You didn’t really say what you saw.”
“Her neck was slit when I got there. Like I said. I tried to put my hands on it to stop it, but I couldn’t.”
“Yeah, but was anyone else there?”
“I couldn’t tell the room was dark. I only saw Angel. She was still standing. She looked scared Michelle.”
“Did she have the knife?”
“I don’t remember.” She looked so scared.
There came a knock on the bathroom door. Jennifer spoke on the other side, “Hey guys? Are you about done?”
Michelle answered, “Can we have a moment to process please.”
It didn’t feel like we were processing. It felt like Michele was digging for something.
Kelly spoke next, “Is that so you can get your stories straight so you can kill one of us next.”
“Fuck off Kelly” Michelle said.
“I think it’s best if we are all together right now.” Jennifer said.
Jennifer was right we did need to be together. I didn’t want to but I understood why they wanted to. Hard to kill us if we are all still in the same room. The red tint in the drain cleared showing clean water. I scrubbed with soap as they continued to fight each other. Angel…she wouldn’t have done it.
Michelle left the bathroom so I could get changed. I didn’t bother trying to look normal. It’s been like this for a while now. We all have been depressed it’s why we came here in the first place. Seven people killed themselves this semester all under suspicious circumstances. We all knew someone who was killed. Kelly had the idea to come up here, and try to have a trauma bond. It was to work out some of the depression, and make sure we all took care of each other.
Michelle waited for me, and we walked down together. Everyone was gathered around so close together that no one really changed spots. Becky looked to have stopped crying, and seemed relatively calm. The place where I had sat was covered in dry blood. Kelly saw me looking at it, “I’ll send you a bill when we get back home.”
Blake shook his head, “Seriously Kelly.”
“We were hoping that you could tell us again what happened now that you had some time to calm down.” Jennifer said.
I looked for an open seat, but I didn’t see any. Michelle took the last one. All of a sudden the emotion of the room shifted. They weren’t asking if I saw the killer. They were saying I killed her.
“Nothing’s changed.” I replied, “She was standing there. Her neck was bleeding. As she fell I went to catch her. Once she was on the floor I tried to stop the bleeding, but she was dead before anyone else arrived.” I left out that her eyes screamed out in pain, her face surprised. Her hot blood burning my hands. She tried to tell me something, but each time she would try to talk blood would pour out of her mouth. I wouldn’t have heard her anyways. I was screaming.
“No one else was there?” Jennifer asked.
“No, I mean I don’t know. It was dark. I wasn’t really looking”
“Where was the knife?” Kelly asked.
“I don’t know.”
“Well was she holding it?”
“I don’t know.”
“How do you not know?”
“Because she was fucking dying in front of me. Fuck me trying to save her life right?”
The room became silent, frustrated I said, “When are the police coming?”
Andrew answered, “There not.”
“What did no one try to call?”
“My families safe where we locked the phones away, the code has been changed.” Kelly said.
They were all looking at me. All of their accusatory eyes. Looking at me. I wanted to hit everyone single one of them. “Why are you looking at me. I don’t know your family safe code.”
“No but your good with computers” Becky said.
“So is literally every millennial, Becky” Michelle said.
“Not like her. That’s what her major is.” Kelly said.
Michelle stood up next to me, “So what is this, are assuming Steph did this then. She just what, took a knife and decide to slash Angels throat today? What would be the point in that?”
“We went back into the room. There was no knife. Jake, and Andrew walked around the house there weren’t any tracks, and all the windows were locked. So was the door. The only one to see her was Stephine.” Kelly said.
“Stephanie I know this seems bad, but you have got to admit if you were in any of our shoes you would feel the same. There is a lot of evidence against you.” Jenifer said.
“Evidence that you are looking for against her. You just said there was no knife, where would Steph have hid it. She slashed Angels throat, ran out hid the knife, came back, and screamed?” Michelle said.
The arguing continued to get louder. Michelle seemed to be on my side, but it was obvious that no one else was. I knew that I wasn’t the killer, but that meant someone else was. I needed to process, and to think some way to get me out of here. “So, what now? What are you going to do with me?”
“Is that a confession?” Kelly asked.
“No, but everyone believes I did it, so now what?”
“We all stay here, so we can all keep an eye on each other.” Kelly said.
“What happens when you get sleepy, what if I’m not the only killer. It would be safer to lock me in my room. Keep me away from all of you.” Keep me away from the real killer.
It was a good plan. The look on some of their faces told me so. Some looked as if they wished they would have thought of that. I was taken to my room. It was on the second floor, and Blake was placed at my door they would rotate making sure that I under watch at all times. It didn’t matter though. I needed to think. I needed to process. A friend was dead, and I was the only suspect. Closing my eyes, I pictured hard on who would want to harm Angel, and who else was in the room.
The ocean wave crawled up the shore licking Jessica’s feet. The sun beating down upon her burnt body, chapping her lips, and making her eyes sore. She hasn’t eaten in so long, and yesterday was the last of their water. She corrected that thought, last of her water. Everyone else was dead. Thirst, and hunger sat like an untouchable itch in her mind. No matter how hard she to tried to think of something else her thoughts always returned to water. Drinking it, bathing in it, hell downing in it. The itch grew until she could no longer take it, she would die without any water. Getting up she pushed forward to the edge of the jungle peering in.
The entrance met her with complete silence. She had never been to a jungle, but it should make some sound. Bugs, birds, or even rustling of trees nothing moved, all that awaited her was the silent dark. She played with the plants in front, her body in pain from the hours in the sun. Exposed for days her once perfect skin became blistered scared. Nowhere close to the jungle was safe. What she would give to just to go in. She knew what happened in there. She saw what it did.
It watched the meat on the edge, heart throbbing in anticipation. The meat had been on the edge of the water too far away from reach. Now it was closer, so close it could just reach out and grab her. It wanted the meat, it needed the meat. The meat would be rewarded. Drooling it blew its nectar out toward her.
Jessica smelled the sweet nectar. Pulling her hand away quickly from the plant she felt her insides warm with pleasure. Her body wanted to go deeper into the jungle toward the smell. That’s how it consumed the rest of them. The sweet smell that lured them away. They laughed in delight as it tore at them. Jessica teased more of the entrance. She just needed to get in their and fill her skin of water. She could last three weeks without food, but she had been too long without water. The lake was close to the entrance. They had made it before when there were others to target, but it was just her now.
It watched her, drooling over itself hungry, so hungry. It wanted to feast, needed to feast, it has been too long. Such a vibrant place this was and so full of meat to eat, but the meat was gone now all gone, gone away come again another day. It hummed to itself blowing more nectar out toward her. She would feel good, oh so good like a good meat she would be pleased, happy meat is good meat.
Jessica smelled the nectar again, stronger this time. A surge of adrenaline flowed through her as she cringed from the sudden pleasurable feeling that was overwhelming her. Her mind screamed in fear knowing it was just beyond her sight. They tried hiking everywhere around the island trying to get away from whatever the hell it was. It just followed, always following. Always on the edge watching.
Digging her boots into the ground with the water skin in hand she sprinted toward the opening of the jungle, pushing everything she had to reach lake inside unscathed. It was a straight shot, but the once quiet jungle awoke immediately with the snapping of branches. It was right behind her chasing for its kill.
This meat moved the fastest, it was the hardest to feast. Fast meat, lean meat, delicious meat. Soon lean happy meat. It will have its meal. Jessica pumped her arms dashing toward the lake, pain in her chest rose as her burnt exhausted body pushed forward. The pain was almost overwhelming. She forced herself to keep her mind only on the water. The snapping came closer as the sound of something massive flew through the trees.
The faint trickling of the river could be heard, hope began rising in her chest. The lake in sight, its cool dark waters welcoming her into its embrace. She dived into the water plunging deep down. Opening the skin, she filled it while readying herself to spring out. It watched her jump into the lake. Jessica knew it wouldn’t go in, knew she would be safe if for only a moment. It became frustrated it wanted to eat, it couldn’t wait to eat.
Jessica came up, and out of the water the smell of nectar filled her nose, but she pushed down the euphoric feelings it gave her. She looked toward the shore knowing it was on one end of the pool. Jessica looked around everywhere trying to find some clue to how she could get away. She came to the opposite of the stream and began her sprint out. The smell became more intense as her mind became clouded. The jungle melted away as the warmth built up inside of her. She kept sprinting as the world around her changed. She kept running in fear, but suddenly her running stopped.
Awaking from the horror of the nightmare she lunged out of bed. She quickly reached for her phone and started calling the others. Each one picked up saying they had the same dream. Jessica sat back down on her bed relaxing some. She let out a long laugh relieved to be home. She got up going to take a shower after the experience. Her neck tickled, and then felt bitten. She slapped where the bite was, but it wasn’t a bug.
It dangled down from the trees biting Jessica’s body wrapping it up like a cocoon. It hummed to itself as its feast laughed. Such good dreams make meat taste the finest. No more meat after this feast, it would grow hungry. The island will provide though. It will bring more meat, and it would feast again.