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A Picture's Worth A Thousand Screams

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Sarah Kennedy was completely overjoyed that the play had gone incredibly well tonight. A great Friday night performance always puts her in a state of pure euphoria just in time for the legendary cast party. Nothing could kill Sarah’s happiness right now, not even the fact that it was her night to clean up backstage afterwards. The boisterous racket of the cast grew fainter and fainter as they began to trickle out of the Performing Arts Center-or the PAC, as they liked to call it-until Sarah’s footsteps echoed from the emptiness of the building. She did not mind the isolation though, because for the past four years, the PAC had been like her second home. As she hastily walked toward the front door of the building and reached for the door handle, she realized that she left her camera backstage. Sarah jogged along the circular path leading to the back of the PAC and swept the black velvet curtain aside as she passed. When she finally found her camera buried under a pile of costumes, she made a strange discovery: it was still on. Now, she could have sworn that she hadn’t used her camera at all that day; and even if she had, it would have turned off automatically. She cautiously flipped the sleek camera over in her sweaty palms to reveal the grotesque image of a masked figure holding a chainsaw. Before she had time to react to this alarming sight, the lights in the building went out.

Sarah was now overwhelmed with fear to a point where she could hardly breathe. Then, she heard one of the side doors in the PAC creak open, and her blood ran cold when she heard the ominous drone of a chainsaw drawing nearer by the second. Her heart was racing and all she could think was, I have to get out of here! But she couldn’t even see in the pitch blackness that surrounded her. The only source of light she had with her was the slender, silver Sony camera that she clutched in her palm. She outstretched her quivering hand to cast a dim stream of light on the path in front of her as she quietly made her way to the nearest side door in an attempt to escape from the masked fiend. She made it out of the PAC without being heard, now all she had to do was make it out of the gate in front of the school and she could get away. But when Sarah finally reached the gate- her salvation- her heart skipped a beat. She was almost in disbelief at the sight in front of her: the gate was locked. This heavy padlock was the only thing keeping her from her freedom and she realized that she was ultimately trapped at Mount Carmel Academy with a psychopath…and there was no way out. She ran through the alleyway that connected the PAC to the open field in the middle of the school, and her pace was in sync with her frantically beating heart. She stood in the middle of the empty field and tried to figure out which way to go, but she could barely hear herself think over her pounding heart. As if by force of habit, her feet carried her up the steps leading to the cafeteria door. She grasped the icy handle with her free hand, and to her astonishment, the door was unlocked. Sarah hurriedly zigzagged through the abandoned cafeteria tables and chairs until she reached the other side of the room. Then she ran down the main hallway to the office to reach the phone. She snatched the receiver off the base and brought it up to her ear hoping to her a dial tone, but the phone is dead. And if that were not enough to send her into sheer panic, she hears the faint sound of the chainsaw as the masked man inches his way through the cafeteria. Sarah scampers from the office and begins her rapid descent up the stairs to the second floor. She is skipping every two, three, four steps and she stumbles in her hast to get away from her possible killer. She rushes into the computer lab and up the stairs leading to the library, but the buzz of the chainsaw is getting louder. As the masked killer slowly climbs the stairs, Sarah cowers behind a bookshelf with her hand over her mouth in her feeble attempt to go unnoticed until he gives up his search for her. Crash! The masked killer begins to kick over the bookshelves to find her, and he is getting closer and closer to the one that she is hiding next to. This is it, Sarah thinks to herself, he’s going to find me now, there’s no doubt about it. I’ve run out of places to hide. But just then, she remembers that there is one other way out of the school. Around the block from the PAC is the Duplantis Gym entrance to the school; it’s surrounded by a gate that would be locked, but there is a hole that she could probably fit through and make her escape. There’s only one problem, how does she get there with the killer on her heels? She makes a daring move and throws one of the books across the room to catch distract the killer; then she darts across the library, down the hallway, and down a series of different flights of stairs. She switches staircases every other flight to throw off the villain, and it seems to have worked; by the time she reaches the first floor, there is no sign of the masked psychopath. She slips through the door leading out of the Duplantis Gym and sprints to the gap in the gate. She squeezes her small, slender frame through the opening of the black metal bars, and she is free! As she breathes a sigh of relief in between her pants for air, she hears the hum of the chainsaw again. She lets out a terrified gasp and turns a stark white; the killer had been out there waiting for her on the sidewalk the whole time. “Sarah,” the masked man called in raspy voice as he slowly walked toward her, “Sarah.”

“Sarah!” The teacher’s voiced yelled as Sarah finally began to stir. She squinted her eyes as they adjusted to the harsh fluorescent lighting in the room, and she lifted her head from the smooth, wooden desk. She was still disoriented and she could still hear the buzzing of the chainsaw…no wait, the humming of an electric pencil sharpener, she realized when she turned around to see a fellow student sharpening her pencil nearby. It was just a dream, she thought to herself, it was all just a dream. “Well, now that the whole class is tuned in,” the teacher continued as she scowled at Sarah, “your homework for the night is on the board. Make sure you write it down.” Just then, the bell rang and the class began to quickly pack and head to their next destinations. Sarah began to gather up her belongings to leave; but when she stood up from her desk and slung her bag on her back, her camera fell out of the opening of her bag. She bent down to pick it up, but she stopped dead in her tracks when she saw the screen of her camera: it was the same picture from her dream of the masked man.





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