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.”
“So, how did you die?” I asked the very real ghost in front of me. Following the really fresh blood trail of whatever the hell was dragging Sydney around the house.
“You know how you eat something, and it makes you sick?”
“Yeah?” I answered
“Well I was shot in the face for making something that got people sick.”
“What were you making?”
“Human flesh for a bunch of cannibals.”
“Is that real or….”
“We’re here!” She flew her arms up in the air.
A rising panic built up inside of me as I just realized we weren’t following the blood away from this thing, but toward it. Before us was a torn up door complete with scratches, dents, and blood of the obvious victims unlucky enough to be found by this creepy bastered. The trail of blood continued under the door.
I felt the hair on my back rise as I became very aware of my mortality for the third time today, “I thought you were getting me out of here?”
“Yeah, but I need to figure out what’s going on here. Then we will get you out of here.”
“How do you not know what’s going on? Didn’t you like die here?”
A loud distinctive thud came from the other side of the door followed by a loud scream. We both turned our attention to what is on the other side.
“Wait here.” Temperance said handing me a remote, “If I am not back in 10 hit this button, and run as far away as you can.”
An order I was more than happy to comply with. Temperance walked through the door as I waited on the other side ready to hit the button.
I dozed off, not sure for how long. There was barely light in the sky when I fell asleep, but not completely black outside like it was now. It was restless sleep as I kept watching Angel again and again. Every time I would reach out to do something, anything to help her, but each time never being able to stop it. She just kept staring back at me blood running down her throat her eyes in horror. There was always something there just out of the corner of my eye watching me each time. I couldn’t completely focus in on it, I didn’t want to. As the events reshaped in my head again I forced myself to look. A vivid scream filled the air. I jumped out of bed, but wasn’t sure if it was real or not. I was paralyzed by the fear again, that mask what was that?
Footsteps came toward my door, as well as hushed argument just outside. It was almost comical how they thought they were being quiet enough that I couldn’t hear them. Kelly was a thick as they come. They continued to struggle with the lock as I took time to wake up feeling disoriented. The mask staring back at me, watching me now.
The door flew open Kelly quickly filling the gap coming right toward me, “You!”
“Me.” I replied.
Her boyfriend was trying to stop her advance, but a slap across the face quickly reminded him of his place to her. Kelly stopped at the foot of the bed. I made it a point not to get up or look intimidated. I wanted her to know that I didn’t care who she thought she was. It just made her angrier.
“How did you get out?”
“I obviously didn’t”
Kelly’s face turned a bright red glowing with anger and fury. It was the face I had gotten used to with her. We may have similar friends, but we never really got along. She had this constant air about her that she was the most important person the room, and I made sure she know how little I cared. Its almost came to blows before, but most of the time her boyfriend keeps her calm, maybe today was finally it. Maybe we would finally see who would shut up forever.
She pointed at me and was about to say something, but instead chose to walk off. Her lackey following closely behind like the whipped pup he was.
She left the door open, perhaps as a way of saying I was no longer a suspect. Even she couldn’t deny I was right here the whole time, she just couldn’t say it to my face. I walked out shortly after timing myself ensuring she knows it was my choice, not hers, to leave.
The hall seemed colder, but I was just under a large lump of wonderful blankets and pillows. I could hear Becky sobbing and I remembered How did you get out. Something happened, again. I followed the sobs to one of the bathrooms.
I grew up on a ranch. One particular night we went into town for a movie, a family outing. When we came back the entire heard of cows were together in one area, and the smell of blood filled the air. That sticky iron smell. My father took me out into the field. It didn’t take long to find the source. Wolves had come in tearing apart several of our stock. They didn’t even eat them they just tortured them until they had run out of fun. I would rather see that sight everyday for the rest of my life then what was before me in that bathroom. The blood pooled, the walls red, skin flayed, the suffering unimaginable.
That night when the cows died we made sure there was never another attack again. I could smell the smoke now. Wyoming girls don’t cry.
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.