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I struggle to awaken, my sight flickers but my eyelids stay static. Was I asleep? I don't think so... I'm standing up. I smell trees and feel the warmth of the sun against my skin. Still blinded, I try to move my feet, but my attempt is thwarted by a soft and squishy, yet seemingly immovable object. I fall onto the same sort of substance. Where am I? Was this the silhouette's doing?

I close my eyes for a few seconds, and when I open them again I can finally see. First thing I notice is that I'm laying on some sort of fabric. I start to stand up, and I come to the realization it was the deceased body of a person, their shirt stained in blood. There are maggots everywhere. I look around, and there are more dead bodies scattered throughout. I'm.... I'm in the pit. The one behind his house. It scales about fifty-feet down, and about the same in length. Then, the smell rushes to me... that awful stench of the decomposed.

I hurry to the door, but it needs a key. I search my pockets until I find something round with a rigid end. A key... Why do I have it? I hurriedly pull it out and try it on the door, thank God it works. He must have given it to me. Once through the door I find myself in a small but long tunnel, with a few doors scattered here and there, and stairs at the very end. There's a musky smell, and there are bugs everywhere. Spiders have made their homes in most of the corner where the walls meet the roof, and electrical wires run throughout the floor, coming in from a fuse box by the stairs and going under the doors. This sight, this smell, they flood memories of the past, before all this happened...


The bell rang signaling my job was done for the day. The students get up from their seats and walk out of the classroom as I organize my things. My smartphone begins vibrating, I take it out of my pocket and the first thing I see is her beautiful flawless skin and long dark hair. I press my thumb over the green elevated landline phone and slide it across the screen.

"Hi Heather!" I say with an almost too cheerful voice

"Hey. School's out now, right? Why don't we go out tonight?" she says with an enchanting but neutral voice

"Oh. Uh... sure. Where?"

"We were thinking we'd go out, like, in the woods. There's that huge forest near here and none of us have ever been"

"...We?"

"Oh, right. Sorry. We as in me, Ben, and Susan."

"Ugh. Isn't going out to the woods to hang out a little bit, uhm... childish?"

"Come on! Just because we're "grown-up" now doesn't mean we can't have fun. We don't hang out much, anymore. Not all together, anyway."

"No, but it should mean we don't do childish things anymore..."

"Fine. If you don't want to go you don't have to," she says clearly annoyed

"That's not what I meant. I guess I'll go."

"Yay! Ben says he'll bring beer. We'll meet at the entrance at six."

"...Okay. See you then."

Why did I agree? To impress her, I guess. She's been the girl of my dreams since high school. I also met Ben and Susan through her. We've been good friends ever since, or at least me and Heather have. I don't think the others would've ever associated themselves with me if it wasn't for her.

Ben is sort of a "man's man," and Susan is pretty stuck-up. I'm sort of a nerd, and I'm pretty shy. They are the very antithesis of me. Heather, on the other hand... She's smart, down-to-earth, and very easy to get along with. She's perfect. I could never work up the courage to ask her out in high-school, though, and ever since we just seem to be such good friends that I don't want to screw it up. She's had a few boyfriends but nothing ever lasted, so it's not like I haven't had a chance. I'm a coward.

I snap out of my train of thought and realize I may have been done organizing my things minutes ago and could have just been sitting here blankly. I make my way out of the school, get into my car, and drive to my apartment.


I pet my dog Titan and take him for a walk. Once I get back I quickly eat a sandwich, and then my alarm on my phone goes off. "5:40 PM - Forest meet-up." I grab my coat and head out. I park and look at my phone for the time, "5:52 PM." There isn't really an entrance to the forest, per se, as it's across a field of grass that starts at a cul-de-sac, so I have to park there.

There are two cars already here, one I know to be Heather's, and the other must be Ben's. Susan probably rode with Heather. I start walking onto the field and I see the group across the way where the forest starts. Heather is waving frantically, Ben already has a beer in-hand, and Susan is the only person in the world who would wear a dress to go into the forest... I walk up to them.

"How have ya been?" Ben says.

"Good. I see you've already started drinking..." I say feigning a playful voice.

"Well, I can't very well stand being around you bunch sober!" Ben says, then laughs. We've never actually been friends, and our conversations seem to always end up with this fake and forced feeling. I glance over at Susan, who is too busy on her phone to interact with me in any sort of way.

"Man, it's been so long since we did anything together," Heather says with a sour voice, which is rare.

"Sorry, I've been busy lately" I say, lying. It's just ever since I got this job and got out of my parents house I've been trying to slowly distance myself from her. It's painful. I need to let go.

"What, have you been working late hours at the school?" Susan says with a flat voice.

"Susan!" Heather tries to defend me.

"No, it's fine," I assure her, and prepare to make a stab at Susan,  "So hows that divorce going, Susan? You take all of his money yet?"

Susan gasps, forms a displeased face and turns around. The rest of the group giggle. I smile, feeling quite pleased with myself.


We start walking toward the trees. The setting sun peers through the gaps in-between the leaves, making the forest seem mystical. As we walk along we hear the few birds left awake singing, and squirrels climbing up and down their homes as they collect nuts from the cold dirt to prepare for winter. Their life is so simple... I envy them.

I come back from my thought and hear the sounds of smartphone cameras snapping and lights from their flashes scaring away all wildlife. The culprits are Heather and Ben. Susan is way too prim to be doing such activities, and, well, I know better. Susan appears to be texting when she suddenly swears under her breath. I look at her, and quickly get noticed and an apology "Oh... sorry. It's my hus-- ex-husband," she says correcting herself, "he can be painfully annoying."

"It's quite alright, really. I understand" I don't really, because I've never even had a romantic relationship before, let alone one that lasted long enough for marriage, then divorce. Actually, neither should she have... she's only 22. Ben is 23, and me and Heather are the same age at 21.

Come to think of it, me and Susan are the odd ones out. I somehow landed a job as a teacher at my age, and she seems to be attempting to go through all the stages of an adult's life as soon as possible. It must seem quite strange to the youthful minds around us. They get to enjoy their life... though try as I may I can't seem to. Life is too complicated and there's too much to do for me to worry about having fun. Is this living?

Teaching is about the only thing in life I enjoy. Having my voice finally heard is therapeutic, even if it's by teenagers that probably couldn't care less about what I have to say. If only I could find people that would listen. It's possible a few in the class do, and my hopes are that they are better for it. Though I know most of them don't. Just going around wasting time, thinking life is a game that it's their birthright to win. That everything should be handed to them. I know how they act. How they talk.

"He's such a fuckin' nerd, and look at these grades! I'm so sorry that I don't want to give my life over to your class and your stupid homework."

Punks. What do you they know?! If you would hear them talk, absolutely everything. But they're wrong.


"John, honey, wake up!" I suddenly hear with a loud snapping sound. The muffled voice resonates with familiarity and a sense of pleasantness.

"Man, there has to be something wrong with him. This shit isn't normal."

"...Ben's right, Heather. He needs help."

With this I discover my eyes were closed. Reality rushes back and my hands sting. I open my eyes and bring my hands into view and discover multiple scratches.

"It's alright. You're okay," I hear the same voice connected with the snap from earlier. I look up to see Heather's face, and feel her warm hands on my cheeks.

"...W-what happened?"

"You had another episode."

"You fucking wandered off without a word, is what happened!" an angry voice which I suspect to be Ben's dictates.

"Ben, calm down. It's not his fault."

"The scratches... what did I do?" I asked, semi-panicked.

"We don't know."

"Maybe a squirrel got wind of you being a crazy fucker and scratched you, bro."

Then I hear another voice behind me giggle ever so subtly. This would have to be Susan.

"Stop being an asshole! It's not his fault! Anyway, are you okay now? Are you back?"

"Yes. I uh-- I think so."

"Okay. Why don't we go back home?"

"Fuck that. Let him go, but we are here to enjoy the forest. I'm tired of us having to take care of him, anyway. This was tolerable a few years ago, but now it's ridiculous. He's a grown goddamn man. He shouldn't be daydreaming and going on sleep adventures anymore!"

"I agree, Heather. Regardless of what he says, we should have told his parents when we saw him almost kill his poor cat years ago. No he hasn't done anything like that since, but it's still happened over the years. And who knows what he does when we aren't here to take care of him. He works in a school, people could get hurt. The parents deserve to know of his condition."

"This freak has tried to hurt his cat?! The fuck...? Why have we even been hanging around him since then? When the hell did this even happen?!"

"Everyone calm down! You're all acting like he's insane! He's not, we know that. It happens very rarely, and like you said Susan, he's never tried to hurt anything other then that one time. You know he has a dog. He's still in good health, right John?"

"Yeah... yeah Titan's fine. I uh... I took him for a walk. Right before I came over here. I've never hurt anything. I wouldn't... you know that. I have a higher respect for nature than most. And no, I don't want to go back. Let's keep going, like nothing happened. Because really, nothing did happen. You stated all I did was walk over here. I'm sure the scratches are from branches or something. There's a rational explanation behind it. I wouldn't try to hurt anything."

"Whatever. Let's just do something. It's only getting later and later. But just know I'm not sticking around to take care of you the next time you decide to flip out."

"John, are you sure you want to continue? You don't have to do this."

"Heather, please. Thank you for caring, but I'm fine now. It won't happen again. Let's go."

"How often does it happen now?" Why does Susan have to press this?!

"A billion times a day, Susan. Okay? I've murdered tons of children, probably raped them too. Lock me up, please. I'm a monster and this is me crying for help. Is that what you want me to say? Leave this alone. I haven't ever done anything wrong."

Ben starts laughing hysterically. "Damn. Never seen you stand up for yourself like that." He's left behind some cans. I'm not sure how many are left in that cooler of his.

"And Ben, stop drinking so much. You aren't a good person to hang around when you do, and nature will thank you for not littering." This seems to be my moment to air things out. I can't take their quirks right now. Psychology says that arguments strengthen relationships, anyway. Shows interest. Maybe we'll be better for this. Actually, this could be a bad thing. If I still want to get away from the pain that is Heather. The thing is, I'll never meet anyone like her. She understands me. I think she keeps proving that. Why am I so scared?

"Well, well, well." Jesus... just stop talking. He always has to have the last say. "Someone sure is talkative now. That incident finally unleash your demons? I dunno, nature might like a buzz now and then, too." I let his remark go without a fight. I know he's joking, but he still won't stop littering. I know nothing I say matters to him. I figured Susan wouldn't reply; She knows when enough is enough. Heather seems to be letting me handle things on my own now that I've recollected myself.


We keep walking for several minutes. Everyone seems to forget about my incident, and they should. It's not mentioned again. They continue to talk about random things, stopping to take the occasional picture. I also drank a couple of cans of beer after repeated offerings by Ben. I think Heather might have, too. I made sure not to drink them too fast, though, as I still need to drive. I reminded the others of the same, but I doubt my words get through to Ben. Of course, Susan is much too prissy to drink from a can, or beer to begin with, and she explained as much. I wake my phone up so I can see the time.

"What time is it?" inquires Susan. She doesn't have any pockets, as she is wearing a dress and she didn't want to bring her purse into the woods for obvious reasons, so her phone is with Heather at the moment. Every time it goes off she has to hand it back to Susan. And then when Susan's done using it she hands it back to Heather, only to have it happen again later... I wouldn't put up with that. But that's the type of person Heather is. Oh, guess I better answer her.

"Oh, uh... seven forty-two."

"Woah. Doesn't seem like it's been that long." states Heather.

"Well, time flies when you are busy admiring Uncle Sam's work."

"What are you talking about, Ben?" Heather says with a chuckle

"I'm just saying. I'm proud to be American." Idiot. This isn't our land.

"You know we stole this land, right? And murdered for it. But whatever floats your boat."

She took the words right out of my mouth. "Thank you, Heather."

"Yeah I know. And here we are making better use of it then they ever would've."

"Oh God, Ben... and your mouth is put to better use on that can. Stop talking, please. We are going to get attacked by angry natives." She's a constant reminder of why I love her.

"Let them. I could take 'em." ...And now he's flexing.

Heather starts laughing. "Susan remind me why we hang out with him?"

Susan doesn't respond but instead just smiles for a few seconds.

Just then, Heather gets a phone call. I'm not sure what about, but she then starts running back.

"Shit, I gotta go guys! Susan, you can ride back with one of the guys, right?" she sounds kind of panicked

"Oh. Well, I guess... but why don't we just leave now? It's already kinda late. We should really go soon anyway," Susan replies.

"No no no! It's not that late yet. Come on, let's stay at least another hour. It's not like we have to work tomorrow," Ben pleads.

"I don't want to ruin your fun. Stay, really! Have a good time without me. But I gotta go! I'll talk to you guys whenever. Bye!" she continues running back, using her phone as a flashlight.

"Do you think she'll be alright by herself?"

"Dude, it's not like there's bears in these woods. She'll be fine." What does he know?

"No. I'm more worried about human threats."

"Don't worry, you're here with us. She's running the opposite direction, too." Who the hell does he think he is?!

"Excuse me?!"

"What? Did you black out again and miss what I said?" Fucking drunkard dim-witted immature scumbag what the hell is his problem? I've been a pushover towards his verbal abuse for far too goddamn long and I'm not standing for it any longer. Me a threat? I haven't ever done a single thing to hurt anyone! I don't care if it's the inebriated state that's bringing this on, he chose to drink anyway. He's still at fault for his actions. He barely finished high-school and so what if he's stronger than me? If push comes to shove I could think of a billion different ways to make sure he never drinks again. No, it won't come to a fight. I need to calm myself. I can't think clearly in a heightened state of anxiety. Relax. Relax. Relax. Relax. Relax.

"--eed's help. Violence is no answer. Let's just report him." Susan's voice pushes it's way in, echoing in my head disrupting the serene environment I'm creating for myself. Why don't they just leave me alone?!

"Look at him just standing there with his eyes closed! He's done it again. It's like noones home. Motherfucker's pissing me off! HELLO FUCKTARD?! CAN YOU HEAR ME IN THERE?!" Ben's voice screeches through my eardrum. Leave me alone. Leave me alone. LEAVE ME ALONE! LEAVE ME ALONE! "LEAVE ME ALONE!"

"Ah! So you are there, freak! And what if I fuckin' don't?! You going to go all psycho on me like you tried to do your cat?! Well I'm not helpless motherfucker! COME AT ME!"

No no no no no... this can't happen. No. I won't let it. He's not going to get to me. He's not going to force me to do things I don't want to do. I control me. I do. I'm in control. I'm in control. In control. In control. "In control. In control. In control."

"...the fuck are you saying freak?! You aren't in control of shit. Look at you!"

"Ben, please. Stop. Acting like this is only making things worse. John, can you hear me? It's Susan. We aren't threats to you. Let's just start walking back the way we came." The way we came? Heather. Heather's there. "Heather?"

"Oh my God... what a loser. What the fuck is even happening here? This is hilarious."

"BEN ENOUGH! For fuck's sake can't you just shut up for five minutes? Yes, John. Where-- where Heather went. Exactly that way." If I can see Heather... Heather will make me better. I'll be calm with her. She'll help. I start walking with Susan back the way we came, passing Ben who stands there laughing. Laughing and laughing and laughing...

"Oh Christ... oh my god you actually think she'll help you? Or is it that you like her? Oh shit it is, right?! She thinks you're a freak, same as us, man. Besides that, she's way out of your league. She probably didn't even have anywhere to go, she just wanted to be away from you." No. No. He's wrong. Heather likes me... I know maybe not the way I do... not love. But she likes me as a friend. Why can't he shut up?! Just shut up! Just shut up! "JUST SHUT UP!"

"Or what, man?! Here we go again. If you want to brawl I can beat your ass."

Shut up shut up shut up shut up shut up shut up shut up "Shut up shut up shut up shut up shut up shut up shut up shut up! You think you are better than me?! You barely finished highschool you piece of shit! You're a drunken scumbag just like your father was! He did the world a favor when he went to live in the bottom of the lake! Why don't you just follow in his footsteps?!"

"You... you... WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?! I'm sorry Susan but I have to teach this psycho a lesson!"

"Ben no! Let's just go. Please! This isn't going to help ANYTHING!" She's right. Now I have to run, I have to. I can't be doing this. It will only prove them right. And they are very wrong. This isn't me. They make me this way. I have to get out of here. I have to. I can't go back... Heather might still be there and I can't let her see me like this. I would have taken comfort from her a minute ago but I was wrong. Ben could be right... she could think I'm a freak too and this will only make it worse. I have to run. Run deeper in the woods until they lose track of me.

I run past Ben who tries to grab me, but I duck and push him away. I hear him curse. Yelling. Susan yelling. What's happened? Why did it have to be this way? It's their fault... Why do they have to be like this?! People are so ignorant. So violent. It's sickening. I look back to see Ben sprinting after me, not far behind. He might be faster than me. Susan has high-heels on and is stumbling around kicking them off. Way behind. What a completely ridiculous choice of clothing... people are so incredibly flawed. Me and Heather... are we the only good ones?

I realize Ben is only a few feet behind me and I turn my head back forward and run harder than I have ever in my life. I'm running for my life. What will he do to me if he catches me?! He's so angry... he wouldn't kill me, would he? Surely not. Oh God... I honestly don't know anymore. I've never seen him this angry before. I shouldn't have come here.


I continue running for who knows how long... my heart and lungs feel as if they're going to burst out of my body. My muscles in my legs are on fire. I cannot keep this up much longer. Rest... I need rest... I see a red house up ahead, the sides and back of it are surrounded in a huge radius by a chain-link fence with barbed-wire atop. I look behind me to see Ben not too far behind still shouting and Susan's silhouette just visible somewhere behind him. The house is my only option.

Due to my body falling apart it seems like forever before I reach the red house, and once I do I slow to a stop and try to open the door. It's locked. What did I think was going to happen?! Of course it's locked! I look behind me. Ben showing no signs of stopping and still as angry as ever. I quickly slam into the door multiple times. After a few times slamming into the door using the side of my body my left arm begins to hurt. What Ben plans to do with me could be worse, though. I know this is my only option. I keep slamming into the door, as fast and with as much force as I can muster. After a couple more times I feel a sharp pain in my left shoulder. The pain threatens to pull me from consciousness. Simultaneously I hear the sound of wood breaking and the door opens as I fall down. Another extremely sharp pain from my left shoulder as I hit the ground.

This time I can't fight it... I can feel reality slipping away, and I am forced to close my eyes as the sound of footsteps and shouting sends me off. A pain in my face forces me awake again, if only for an instant. I try to open my eyes again but I can only manage about half-way. I see Ben's blurred face and what appears to be Susan trying to pull him back. I then am forced to close my eyes again, as it took all the strength I had to just open my eyes for a second. In the last moment I swear I see another silhouette out of the corner of my eye. With this final image I fade back into the darkness.

I then wake up lying on the floor. Everything hurting, but I almost feel up to being able to walk again. I look around and see Susan crying as the strange silhouette I saw earlier throws punch after punch at Ben. The silhouette then throws him down into what seems like a basement. Ben tumbles down the stairs at an increasingly fast pace and I can hear his screams of agony. This sound brings me back to the darkness.

When I awake again I see the silhouette cutting into Susan with what appears to be a handsaw. He has his other hand on her mouth but I can still hear her muffled screams as the handsaw buries itself deeper into her bone and soaks itself in more and more of her blood. Blood dribbles down the blade, onto the handle, and finally drips down to the pool that has formed below. Forward, backward, forward, backward, forward, backward. Deeper and deeper, until finally her screams are no more. The only noise that remains is the scraping of the saw blade against bone. This sound is almost soothing as it fades into background noise.

I look past the silhouette to see Ben's face staring at me from a table. Past that is his torso, and then his arms, one of which has a hand stiffened with an almost closed fist. Only the middle finger is up. I then am startled away from my examination by a thud. I look down to see Susan's arm that the silhouette was cutting on the floor. He starts to look at me, and I close my eyes. Pretending I'm still asleep. Shortly after I am lulled back to sleep by more scraping.


I hear a loud but familiar noise and jump awake. I look around and am in my room. I find the source of the noise to be my phone's alarm clock sitting on my nightstand. I try to extend my left arm to grab it, and discover my shoulder is extremely sore. I broke it last night... what happened? I must have popped it back into place. Did I escape?

These complete thoughts bring me to absolute consciousness and I discover more pains. My nose and right cheek hurt, and my legs and knuckles are sore. Why are my knuckles sore? Maybe I got a few shots on Ben... Oh no... Ben. Susan. How did I get out alive? No, maybe I was dreaming it. But then how did I get injured? It happened. It did. Oh fuck... why did they have to chase me? Corner me?! They wouldn't have gotten killed...

Should I call the police? No. They would think I did it. If I tell them what happened, if I tell them about the red house. I have motive. He probably won't even be there anymore. They'll arrest me on the spot. Why did he let me go?! Is this why? Is his plan for me to take the fall for his crimes? Or is he just toying with me? Whatever happened, he would have disposed of the bodies. There's no way he would just leave them around. I don't think I'm in danger. I mean, he let me go, didn't he? Or did I escape? I mean, I feel mostly fine right now. I might have been able to escape last night. Why can't I remember?! Wait, what day is it?

I again extend my left arm, and with enough struggling I manage to pick up my phone to disable the alarm and check the time and date, "9:04AM Sat, October 14th." The next day. Good.

I move my aching body out of my bed and over to my dresser. I open a drawer to get a pair of pants, but I exerted my left arm too much and I accidentally push against the dresser, causing a picture frame to fall, shattering it's glass all over the floor.

I pick it up and see that it's the picture of my Dad and me painting a house for one of his clients when I was a kid. It wasn't too long after this that he decided to leave. I haven't seen him since. I then hear a bark and whine from outside my door. Titan must have heard that I was awake. I open my door, and as I suspected, there he is; Waiting for me to feed him. I think that's the only reason he pretends to love me.

I walk into the kitchen to get the dog food and see through the open laundry room door that there's clothing in the washing machine. I look closer to discover all that's in there are the clothes I wore yesterday, which is strange because I clearly have more dirty clothes in my room. Well, I guess they would have had some of my blood on them, wouldn't they? Maybe even... their blood. I was really close to them in that one room. Why am I so okay with them being dead? I guess I never really liked them... but they are human beings. I shouldn't have to like them to be upset that they died, right?

Titan then barks at me because I am sitting here with the bag of food in my hand. I set it down for a moment and throw the clothes in the dryer, then pour the food into his bowl. After he finishes eating I grab a leash and we go out for a walk.


It's really gloomy out today. Actually, there are many dark clouds. It looks like it might rain really soon. Poetic. Gloomy, rainy day... death. If there is a God they are making a statement right now. Just then I get a call from Heather. As much as I appreciate the one good in the midst of all this bad, she's probably the last person I want to talk to right now. What will I say? How will I explain? Should I explain? I can't lie to her... can I?

It's quite a few rings in. I've stopped dead in my tracks, staring at the phone. If anyone were to see me right now they'd definitely think I've done something wrong. Thankfully not many people seem to like to go out walking when it's clearly about to rain. If I don't answer her she'll just keep calling. I sigh loudly and finally swipe my phone.

“Hello?”

“...What the fuck happened last night?!” She's upset... I can't tell if she's sad or mad. Oh God no... What does she know? Does everyone know?

“W-uh... I-- what do you mean?”

“You should know what I mean! It's on the news! Ben... S--”

“Heather...”

“They... they found Ben's car... in the lake... It's my fault... I knew Ben had been drinking. And I left her there... I--” How? Did he cover it up? I figured he would. No... my friends just died. All I can think about is myself. What's wrong with me?

“John! Are you checking the news or something?! Are you there?! I-- I need you right now...” Shit. I better answer her. How long have I been sitting here? What is wrong with me?! Wait... she needs me?

“You... need me?”

“Of course I do... John, you realize we are very close, right?”

“Well, uh... no.”

“You are so dumb sometimes. We've been friends for years. This is serious, John. They could be dead... they didn't find their bodies, but the car has been there for so long. The doors were open, and it's near the end of the lake, where it flows into the river. They could've been carried so far... Oh God... what if they did die? What a terrible way... so terrified, fighting for your life...” Clever... this guy is very clever. It could take them hours to search all that ground, and by then their bodies, well, if they were ever there in the first place, could have gotten dragged even further. Maybe all the way out into the ocean. No, what am I saying? This is horrible... But I have to lie to her. I have to.

“I'm sorry... I—erm, I don't know. I don't know what happened.”

“...You don't know? When did you last see them?”

“As expected... I last saw them when they were getting in their car. I then drove off. We went our separate ways.” I need to know if she spoke to the police. She didn't, right? Why would she have? I mean, they found them in the lake. No reason to, right? No reason the police would have known I was the last person they saw. No, I have to be sure. I have to ask.

“Have you talked to the police?”

“Oh... uh, no. They haven't approached me. I did talk to Eric, though. Susan's ex-husband.”

“What did you tell him?”

“What I knew. He figured I would have been one of the last people to have seen Susan.”

“Did you... did you tell him about me?”

“Yeah... why wouldn't I? Did you have something... to do with this, John? Do you know more than you're telling me?” No. No. She can't figure it out. Stupid, stupid, stupid! Why did I have to act like that?!

“No! Of course not! Do you think I did?”

“I don't know... I don't know if you know if you did, either.”

“...W-what do you mean?”

“We both know you have a problem. You don't know what you're doing sometimes. I've known for years, you know this. I know that it's not your fault, the things you do when you are in that state. I know you don't want to. I know you normally wouldn't. John, do you think you might have done something to hurt Ben and Susan?”

“Heather, what are you saying?! I wouldn't... I couldn't... It wasn't me. It was him!”

“Who's 'him'?”

“He... cut them up. He did horrible things to them. But Ben, he was hurting me. He saved my life. He did! I don't know why he let me live... Heather, I promise! I wouldn't have ever done anything to hurt anyone!”

“It's okay, John. You're safe. I'm not mad...”

“Please don't send me anywhere... I didn't do anything wrong, I didn't! I'm not a threat! I just blackout sometimes, or lose track of time. It's fine! It's harmless!”

“John! Calm down. I believe you. We can tell the police what happened now, right? We don't have to mention your condition.”

“Heather... they would find out. You know they would. You can't do this, you can't! We can't go to the police! You won't tell them anything, right Heather? Right?”

“....”

“Heather I'm begging you! They will blame it on me! I'll go to prison for life, or worse... an insane asylum. You can't tell anyone! And if you do... he might come after you.”

“Are you... threatening me?”

“Me? No! I'm warning you! I didn't fucking do it, you believe me! You said you did! I want you to be safe!”

“Okay John... I won't say anything. I want you to be safe too. I need to stay closer to you. I want to protect you. From other people. You said Ben came after you. I know why. Your condition. People don't like people who are different. They are scared of what they don't know. I'm not scared, though. If I'm with you noone will hurt you, I promise.”

“You would... you'd do that for me?”

“Yes, John. I love you.”

“I love you too. Oh God Heather I've loved you for so long now... It hurts.”

“I know, John. I know. You aren't going to get in any more trouble from now on. If we are together nothing bad will happen. Now, John, I need to go now.”

“Yeah... okay. I'll see you later.”

It's finally happened... nothing bad can ever happen again. My life... is finally perfect. Everything I deserve is here. Heather. All I've ever wanted. Suddenly I feel a droplet of cold water on my shoulder. It's raining. I run home with Titan to grab my car, and drive straight to Heather's house.


I knock on her apartment door and then look into the window to see that she's in the living room... with him. What is she doing with him? Is she telling him about me? She's getting up... I need to leave. What will they do to me? Was she lying to me?

I duck into some bushes. She can't see me now. I need to know what she's up to. She opens the door and looks around, and when she doesn't see anyone she goes back inside and sits down. I watch them for a few hours as they watch the news, which reports periodically about Ben and Susan. After awhile they fall asleep.

Well into the evening Eric wakes up, grabs his things, and leaves. I watch him as he gets in his car, and as he drives away I can see the silhouette from that night in the backseat. What's he doing here? What does he want with Eric? Is he... protecting me? Why would he do that? I get in my car and follow them. We drive out of the apartment complex and eventually make our way to a highway.

What's he doing? Why was he even over there at Heather's house? They are more than friends to be sitting there for hours... falling asleep next to each other. He's trying to take her away from me isn't he?! Why can't people just leave us alone?! He probably made her tell him what actually happened. He seduced her. Who the hell knows what happened before I got there... no I don't want to think about it anymore. What am I going to do? If he knows... if he knows he might do something to me. He could tell the police. He might hurt me.

We get off about twenty minutes later on to a quiet street and I see the silhouette unbuckle Eric's seatbelt. The car starts to slow down but then Eric gets a knife pushed up against his neck and it picks up speed again. Eventually they are going way past the speed limit and the silhouette holds Eric's hands down, forcing them off of the steering wheel. They try to slow down but the slippery road causes them to spin out of control and they hit a metal pole on the left side of the front of the car, glass shatters everywhere and Eric flies out of the windshield, hitting the pole in-front of them and sliding off of the hood onto the floor.

The silhouette gets out of the car and examines the body. Eric is still able to move, but then he gets a piece of glass impaled into his neck. The blood is washed off of his body by the rain, and down the side of the street into the gutter. I stare at the murderer and for the life of me cannot make out what he looks like. Then, he stares back at me and I feel as if he's draining the life out of me. His darkness consumes me.


I hear the muffled sound of my ringtone, and I feel very cold. Freezing. As my hearing gets clearer and clearer I recognize the sound of sirens in the distance. I open my eyes and see that I'm on a sidewalk in a neighborhood. All moderately nice two floor houses, some with balconies. I then remember that I heard my ringtone and pull out my phone, pulling it close to my face and blocking the water from hitting it with my hand. Heather again.

“Hello?”

“John,” she says in a worried voice, “why is your car in front of my apartment? Where are you? Are you here?” My car...? How is that possible? I drove it here... didn't I?

“Uh... no.”

“Well, where are you then?”

“I-I don't really know, honestly. I think I had another blackout.” I can be honest with her now. She'll protect me.

“Oh. Are you okay? Do you need me to come get you?”

“Yeah, yeah... I would really appreciate it. I'll uh, I'll text you my location in a minute. I have to look it up.”

“Okay, bye.”

“I—well I uh... I love you.”

“...” She says nothing, and then hangs up. What the fuck was that?! She said it earlier... we are together now, aren't we? Why would she not say it back? What did I do wrong? I then open Google Maps on my phone and find out where I am, texting Heather the results. Why was my car there, really? And why am I walking out here? Did he take it? I don't know what's going on anymore! What's happening to me?! I need to go back to where it happened. That house. I need to find answers.

I listen to the sound of the sirens in the distance, reminding me of what had happened before I blacked out. Eric's dead. This guy is really clever. He made it look like an accident, that piece of glass could have come from flying through the windshield. That's... that's something I would do. I try not to entertain this thought, as it puts a sick feeling in my stomach. I didn't do this. I couldn't, and I wouldn't, even if something... else takes over.

I huddle under a tree as I wait for Heather to pick me up, and once she gets there she doesn't talk much. I get in the car and she says she'll take me home now, but I refuse and say we need to go back to the forest, like we were that night. She doesn't understand why, but I tell her that we just need to. I need to show her something.

She... she looks at me like she doesn't understand me. I thought she was the only one who did. No, she still is. She's just a bit confused at the moment. She'll protect me no matter what. She will.

We spend the whole ride there not speaking to each other, she seems to be avoiding looking at me. She doesn't need to ponder my intentions. She knows she can trust me. That's not what she's doing, she's not doubting me. She's not doubting my sanity. That's not Heather. Yes, she's just focusing on the road. I need to stop being so cynical.


We arrive in the same cul-de-sac as that night, and we start walking into the same field. I can see their ghosts. We're walking in their footsteps, heading toward the place of their death. Right now, though, they were happy. They were being themselves. They didn't have a care in the world. Well, Susan still acted like she did, but she was as happy as her personality allows. Maybe he rescued them. Rescued them from the pain that is life. Maybe he was watching us, he made sure that they had moments of happiness. That they were at a light in the dark tunnel before he ended their journey. What am I saying? Maybe I'm just trying to make myself feel better. I might have been able to stop him... if I even wanted to. And I don't know if I did. Just then Heather looks toward me.

“Yes?”

“Why are we here, John?”

“You'll see. Just keep walking. It's about what happened that night. You need to see.”

“John, I'm worried.”

“...What about?”

“You.”

“Me? You said yourself that we can deal with my condition. That I don't hurt anyone. That I'm not a danger.”

“I don't know if that's true anymore.”

“You said you would protect me.” When I say that she looks at me like she's confused again. Why?

“It's raining, and I'm cold. Why are we doing this?”

“You have to see! I know it's cold, so warm yourself up. Let's run there! Please, Heather, don't argue anymore. We must go. You need to see.” I then shift my pace into a sprint, and beg Heather to follow. She does, and tries to match my speed.


Several minutes later we arrive at the house, and the door is back up.

“Strange.”

“A small house in the middle of the forest? Yeah, it is.”

“No, not that. The door... it was knocked down by me when Ben and I were fighting. But look, it's back up. He must have done it. He might be here still. Why else would you put a door back up?”

“He? The murderer? Oh shit... okay I'm calling the cops.”

“NO!” I take the phone out of her hand.

“What the hell, John? Why not?”

“That won't help! I need to figure this out. Let's go in. He hasn't hurt me yet, Heather. In-fact, he's protected me.”

“No, I'm not going in! Are you crazy?!”

“Fine, I'll check it out.” I go to the door and turn the handle. It opens. It's unlocked. There's a light switch, I didn't notice it last time I was here. I flip the switch and a bare light-bulb in the center of the roof turns on, dimly lighting the room.

The paint... it looks different. Fresher then the last time I was here. I look around and don't see anyone here. There's a metal door that's slightly open, it seems to lead into the basement where Ben was pushed down. There's also another door that I haven't noticed, it leads behind the house. Into the area that has the huge area blocked by the fence.

I open that and walk out. I pull out my phone and shield it from the rain again, and use it as a flashlight. I walk several feet in-front of me and see a huge pit. I shine the light down there and... there are bodies. So many bodies.

“JOOOOOOOHN!” Heather yells for me.

“Yeah... I uh... I'm back here. It's safe.” She comes up behind me and sees the pit of bodies.

“Oh for fucks sake... what... what is this place?!”

“His house. I told you.” I walk back in and open the metal door the rest of the way.

“No, we need to call the police. I'm sorry, but we have to. This is too much...” I walk up to her and grab her hand.

“We aren't going to do that. Come on, I have more to show you.”

“No. I'm not going anywhere but out of this place!” I then forcefully pull her along with me as I start to go down into the basement.

“John, stop! You're hurting me!”

“I'm sorry, Heather, but you won't listen otherwise. We just need to check this out and we'll go.”

“I don't want to!”

“YOU'RE GOING!” She seems to stop putting up a fight after that. I don't want to shout at her, and I definitely don't want to hurt her, but this is important. We walk down the stairs and the basement is already lit up. There's several doors, one of which is again, already open. Almost as if he laid a path out for me. I go towards the open room, a docile Heather right behind me. I turn into the room, and there they are. Their body parts scattered around the floor, and their torso's hanging above two buckets full of blood, and a paint brush coated in red in-between.

“Oh my... Oh God no... B-Ben? Susan...? Oh Jesus who did this to you...?” Heather says, a sob stirring up all the while. Once crying she turns around and sits against the wall, her hands covering her face.

“It's okay, Heather. They wanted to hurt me. You want to protect me too, right? Then you are both on the same side!”

“What the fuck are you talking about John?! This isn't you! Why are you acting like this?! They were your friends!”

“NO THEY WEREN'T! Heather, can't you see?! I told you Ben hurt me! And they both wanted to send me away like some kind of psycho! They called me a freak!”

“Ben might have lost his temper, I could see that. But you think they deserve this?! No-one deserves this! John, we have to go. Now!”

“Heather, if you love me like you said you did, and you want to protect me, you won't tell anyone about this. You know what they'll think.”

“What are you talking about?!” She starts running up the stairs. No! No, no, no! She can't do this! Why is she turning her back on me now?! What's wrong with her?! She can't leave! Not now! She'll make a mistake. I run after her and grab her foot, causing her to trip and hit her head on the stairs. Her body then goes limp. Shit! I'm sorry, Heather! I never meant to hurt you... what have I done?! Why were you running?! I turn around and sit down on the bottom of the stairs. I look up and see him at the end of the hallway.

“Will you help me?! Please... I-I don't know what to do...”

He then walks towards me. The darkness follows behind him. I then close my eyes and trust him to protect me.


“HEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEELP!” a muffled voice calls. I shuffle back to reality, from dwelling in my memories. That's right... Heather was here. I was sitting by the stairs, that's the last thing I remember before waking up in the pit. He was going to help me. I was so terrified and feeling so helpless that I put all my trust in him. What else could I do? I run down the tunnel towards the scream and arrive at the door containing it's source. I use the key I found in my pocket and... Heather's there, thank God.

“Heather? Jesus Christ... are you okay?” She screams and tries to run past me, but I grab her.

“Heather, it's okay! It's me! You're safe!” She then scratches my face and it's my reflex to push her to the ground, back into the room. I then go to her, get on my knee, and grab her head.

“Heather, stop! I'm not here to hurt you!” So skinny... I can see the outlines of her bones in her face. Her clothes are so dirty as well. And yet, her stomach... it has a bump.

“Oh God... Heather... you're pregnant? What happened to you? Did he do this?” She slaps my hands away and crawls to the wall where she goes into the fetal position. I take a look around the room, there's random food scattered about, and what looks to be urine and feces in a bucket in a corner. Why would he do this to her? He must... he must have a reason. I look to a corner and see him there. He wasn't there before.

“You! What have you done to her?” He walks toward me and straight through me. My mind goes blank for a moment and when I return, I'm not in control of my body. I'm standing in the same place, staring at Heather, and then I walk backwards and shut the door. I'm not doing this. What's happening? As I hear the door shut my mind goes blank again. This time when I return to consciousness I'm looking at myself in the mirror. I have a beard now. I look... older. I walk out of the bathroom and into a hallway that I don't recognize. Then out of a door into a backyard, all with nothing familiar. I see two children, a girl and a boy that have to be around seven years of age. The girl has Heather's hair.

“Daddy, look! Mr. Nuts is happy now!” The girl says

“Yeah, we fed him, played with him just before. Like you taught us. Did we do good, Dad?”

My body moves closer to them and there's a dead squirrel in-front of them, his head twisted around.

“Yes, very good. You know what we have to do next, don't you?”

“Paint with him!” The little girl says, then giggles.

“Yeah! Don't worry, we'll make him last forever! We'll look everyday!” The boy says, smiling.

My mind goes blank yet again, and when I wake up I see myself walking out to the edge of the pit, carrying something. When I reach the end I toss it. I look down to see another lifeless body falling, and it has Heather's face. Just as I remember it. So beautiful... I don't think I explicitly killed her, at least. She doesn't have any wounds.

“You will remain beautiful for as long as I can help it. I love you.” I close my eyes, not of my own will, and when I can see again I see police officers. I'm being escorted to a police van. The children I saw earlier have to be teenagers now, and they are sitting in the backseat of a car, banging against the window. I can see their tears. I can see their mouths moving. Screaming for me.

“It's going to be okay,” I hear myself say, unemotional. Strong. As I climb into the van my consciousness fades again, and when I come to I see someone shutting the door to my cell and locking it. I wait for my body to move on it's own again, but it doesn't. I attempt to move my hands, and I finally can again. For the first time in so long I'm in control.


I wait for days, then months, then years for him to return. For him to protect me again. But he never came back. I'm so weak now, and the color of my hair is going. I go into the rec room and see the news on the TV.

“--st tuning in now, police have found yet another building painted in blood, the recoverable evidence suggests it is human. This seems like a copycat of the serial killer dubbed “The Painter”, who was caught almost thirty years ago and is serving several consecutive life sentences.”

Written by DeathRight

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