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She looked an oddity, standing there, watching me. It wasn't so much that she was watching me that was unsettling, but rather where she had appeared from. My house, located rather conveniently next to a wooded area that provided a small degree of privacy, was not visited all too much besides the occasional guest I procured to my home from my rather small list of friends.
I drank up the last small sip of my lemonade and stood to near the girl. She flinched, as if I had executed a threatening movement. I took the liberty to take a well thought-out note of how she looked, in case she was a missing child. She wore a maroon colored polo, the emblem of whatever school she attended ripped off. Her shorts went a bit past her knees, and she was wearing some form of boots. Her dark brown curly hair was pulled back into a ponytail, the curls forming a being synonymous to a squirrel's tail. There were decorative paper strings in her hair, which I had first mistaken for twigs. "Are you lost?" I heard myself utter the question with the obvious answer. She took two steps away from me, her face contorting into a mask of worry.
"Don't worry, I'm not going to hurt you." I cooed. In response, she turned and ran into the myriad of trees. My eyes widened in shock, and I tore off after her. My pulse was beginning to race, as I pumped my arms to gain speed, dodging to avoid the rough bark and even harder trunks of the trees. Even with her semi bright shirt, she seemed to blend into the scenery, escaping my speed. My thoughts were rearing, and all I could think of was that I had to reach her, or I myself would be lost.
After sometime, I knew I was lost in the woods, following this small person, pursuing an unknown gold. I was beginning to run out of breath, and I knew soon I would collapse on account of my asthma; my asthma that had given me no trouble since I was in middle school. Her hair bounced in the wind, almost like her own form of tail. I frustratedly reached out to yank her to me, feeling flustered with so much exercise I hadn't encountered since sophomore year. I couldn't falter, I knew I couldn't.
The sound of her fast footsteps began to fade away, and I picked up speed, even if my panting had worsened. The sound had completely disappeared then, and suddenly, everything was turned off like a light had burned out, and I abruptly stopped in my tracks. A rippling sensation whipped my clothes against my skin and knocked me flat on my back. The wind picked up, and I forced myself to stand.
A giggle pierced the silence, immediately bringing my attention to the little girl standing off to the side. Her previous clothes were gone, a gray patchy uniform taking its place. Her face hardened when our eyes met, and I felt the chill ever-present in the atmosphere crawl over my skin like a bug.
"Where are we?" I demanded, masking the anxiety over-taking me with frustration.
"A run-down home."
"Don't you see?" I looked around, seeing the entire area; grey, broken, desolate. "I led you here... for a reason I can't remember." she continued.
"Led me here? You were running away from me, you ungrateful brat."
"I wasn't." She said simply. A woman came and stood near the girl, putting her arm around her. "Leave this place." She said solely to me, then to the girl, "Sweetie, he can't help us. It is too late."
"Help you? What's the matter here?" I pressed on, causing the woman to peer directly at me, the purple tinting in her eyes as striking as her gaze. I felt the urge to shrink back, but fought it, standing my ground. "How can I help you?" If my voice hadn't sounded strained, I might as well have sounded like a McDonald's cashier. "You can't help us." She said with finality, and began to walk away, the girl under her arm. "Go home." the woman commanded of me from over her shoulder. I turned back around, not really knowing what else to do, and felt the ripple swoosh over me again. I ignored it this time, and took in the forest, the familiarity of its sights and smells welcoming.
Though I had concluded that I was deep in the forest, I somehow managed to find my way back home, pushing away any uncertain thoughts. I wanted to help them, I just didn't know how. I granted myself a shower and let myself be absorbed in the steam of the heat. The girl, the woman, the desolate, chilly feeling of the place kept creeping back into my thoughts no matter how hard I tried to evade them.
It wasn't until at work the next day that I realized that the thoughts of them were taking over my head. My coworker approached my cubicle cautiously, tapping me on my shoulder, her presence always calming. "Kevin? You okay?" Marcy leaned on the wall of the cubicle, her cup of coffee emanating steam, still hot. "Hm? Yeah, I'm -" I looked up at her to reassure her that I really was alright, but when I met her eyes, I saw the purple eyes of the woman again, instead of Marcy's brown ones. I put a hand up to my head, rubbing my temple to avoid from crying out in fright. "Fine? You're fine, right?" Marcy pressed on. "Yes, Marcy." She nodded curtly and then stalked off, back to her own cubicle.
I cradled my head in my hands, until a small rasping of knuckles sounded off the same wall Marcy had appeared at only a minute before. "Kevin, you getting on alright?" I heard my boss question, and I sat up straight as a response. "Good. Then quit slackin' and do what I pay you to do." He left without saying anything else, with me wishing this damn cubicle had a door.
I repeated my same routine from yesterday, and situated myself in the patio chair, my eyes locked on the spot where the girl had appeared from, waiting. After some minutes, I heard a soft giggle coming from the woods. I stood up quickly, knocking over the glass of lemonade and went to the edge of the woods. I didn't even hear it splatter into hundreds of pieces. I felt as if in a trance as I neared the enclosure of trees; the giggle appeared again, and I felt myself break into a run.
I crashed through branches, the crunching of the leaves and twigs fueling me, pushing me forward. "I need to find it. I need to help." Resonated through my head, pounding now; the thoughts became a mantra. Once again the giggle sounded and I followed the sound of it. I was becoming frustrated, I couldn't find the spot to go through the ripple. I dropped down onto my knees, clutching at a stick beside me. I threw it in anger, and I heard it hit the edge of a bark. "I need to find it.... I need to help..." I heard myself whisper. "You won't find it. You won't find us. Help others, not us." I heard the voice slither and snake through my head, the woman's voice, the woman with the purple eyes.
I shuddered at the sound of her voice, cold, stern, and cutting. I shook off the shudder and got up, trying desperately to quench the dejected feeling wrapping itself around me like Christmas gift paper. I slowly found myself on my way back home, scratching the dirt from the curb of trees. I could feel a small twitch begin under my eye, and I rubbed at it to make it go away.
Once home, I found myself laying in bed, staring up at the ceiling, imagining images on the white wall. From my nightstand I heard my phone ring as I laid there. Heavily lifting my hand, I picked it up. "Hello?"
"You can't help us." A voice whispered on the other side.
I hung up immediately, and found myself flinging the phone at the wall, causing the back and batteries to fall out. Feeling restless, I got up and aimlessly walked throughout the house. I passed my daughter's room, the door closed and unopened for 7 years now. I jerked my hand away from trying to open it, and dragged myself to the living room couch, sitting there hopeless.
"You couldn't help me..." I heard my daughter whisper. I sat up straight, straining to listen. "Hello? Is anyone there?"
"Honey..." my wife crooned.
"Liz?" I felt myself smile. "Liz, where are you?" I ran back up to our bedroom, usually empty. The door slammed before I could walk in to the source of my wife's voice. Jiggling the handle, I called out to her. "Liz! Liz, sweetie, please open up!"
"Kevin..." I felt my name whispered in my ear, making me wildly spin around, expecting to find her. "Liz?"
Banging sounded from my daughter's room. "Hannah?"
"Daddy! Daddy, help me! Help!" In a trance I dashed to her room and tried to open her door. "Hannah! Open up, now!" A scream rang out, and then a loud thump sounded from inside her room. "HANNAH."
Dirty sounding coughing began from behind the door to my room. "Liz!" "Kevin...!" "Daddy-" I heard both their pleas and felt torn, driven mad with the compulsion and need to save them both. "Why can't you help us? Why can't you help us?!" Both their voices combined and were now screaming the question at me. Covering my ears, I fell to the ground, my breathing quickening. At that moment, I felt a presence behind me. I opened my eyes, carefully removing my hands from my ears. I turned and saw the woman with the purple eyes standing before me.
"I told you. You can't help us." At that moment I felt as if my head had split open, and I let out a yell - then abruptly stopped. The voices began again, and I felt myself going numb with the pain of hearing their voices in suffering yet again. I couldn't handle it, I wouldn't.
I went out to the garage rather quickly, grabbing the rope no longer used. I'll put it to good use. I thought to myself. I went back into my study, my safe haven for all those sleepless nights from when both Liz and Hannah were sick, dying, and I couldn't help them. I felt tears sting my eyes and roll down my cheeks as I tied a noose and hung it from the fan, fastening it around my neck. Before I kicked the rolling chair, I yelled out "I can't help any-!"
I never finished my sentence. The last I could see were those cold, piercing purple eyes, and I couldn't even help myself.
*Three days later*
"They found him just there in his office." A police officer reported to his Sergeant.
"Who found him?" the Sergeant demanded.
"His coworker, a Marcy Remay. She went over to check on him, and there he was." The police officer answered, feeling a lump in his throat.
The Sergeant let out a soft whistle, then stood up, adjusting his pants. "Well, let's take a look at the body." The two men traveled to the morgue, where Kevin's body lay. "And who was this?" the Sergeant asked the officer. "Kevin Lancaster."
"Lancaster, you say? The one with the wife and kid -" the Sergeant slid his finger across his throat, the officer responding with a soft nod. "What a shame. I'm sure he was a good man."
At that moment, Kevin's eyes flashed open, causing both the men to jump in shock. The officer, who was standing closest to Kevin's body, saw his eyes full on, and stared into them. "I just wish I could help." The officer heard himself whisper, speaking to the piercing purple eyes.