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I’ve never been a person that could be scared easily. Haunted houses on Halloween, prankster friends jumping out from behind furniture, it never fazed me. I’ve never had an experience where I was so afraid that I looked behind my shoulder every ten seconds, just to make sure no one’s there. Until now.
My friends always wanted to see me scared. Not because they were mean, just because they wanted to prove to me and themselves that I was at least afraid of something. So when I first got the note, I assumed it was one of them, going to extreme measures to finally complete their mission to catch me with my hand over my chest, heart beating heavily, breaths coming fast and shallow.
I guess you think you’re pretty tough. You don’t get scared, you can’t be tricked. Well, I’m not going to try to fool you. I’m going to be straight out; this is my gift to you. I’m going to kill you. That’s right; you read correctly, I’m going to kill you.
You know, it feels pretty good to be honest. Maybe I should do it more often. Tell you what; I’ll make sure you know who I am before I kill you, okay? I guess you should at least have that. H*ll, I’ll even tell you how I’m going to kill you. But not yet. I like to keep a little suspense.
I bet you’re still not scared. I bet you think there’s no way I can kill you.
If that’s the case, then you’re not really the brightest light bulb in the box, now are you, Kara? Doesn’t really matter. No matter how bright you are, Kara, you’re future’s still going to be very, very, dim.
That was all it said. No signature, no date, no nothing. There wasn’t even a return address on the envelope. It was printed on plain white paper, with two holes in the side. Where there normally would have been one in the middle was still intact. I looked on the back, but there was nothing to be seen.
I didn’t think anything much of it. It couldn’t be real, it was simply not possible. Who would want to kill me? I didn’t do anything to anyone. It had to be one of my immature friends that wanted to get me scared. Alright, I decided, I’ll let them have their fun, just this once. The sloppy attempts are getting pretty annoying; I guess it’s good that they’re trying to elaborate a little bit.
Folding the note in thirds and sticking it in my bag, I looked through the rest of the mail. Bills, bills, bills. Now those are scary. Ah, well. Nothing I can’t handle. Good thing I didn’t splurge on those designer jeans last week, or else I might have gone under.
By the time I finished sorting through my mail, my lunch hour was almost over. Time to get back to the office, I thought, or the boss is going to chew me out for being lackadaisical. Wrapping my jacket around me, I stepped out of my house into the cool, October air. This had to be my favorite time of year. Not too cold that my fingers go numb, and not too hot that I’m sweating bullets.
I walked into the school building after a fifteen minute commute. The kids were running about the yard, as they were in recess. A few kids stopped to wave to me, and I smiled back. I didn’t know most of the students, as I was a secretary, and only saw them when they were called down to the office.
“Hey Ann, any messages?” I asked before I sat down.
“Yeah, your sister called, she said it wasn’t too urgent, but she would appreciate it if you called her sometime before four.”
Caroline had been going through some rough patches lately. It saddened me to think that only a month before she was so happy, engaged to her seemingly perfect boyfriend and to be married before the end of the year.
Trevor Cooper seemed to be the perfect match for my sister, but then I saw his true colors. I had been in the kitchen of the house they had been sharing for the past six months, taking all the food out to serve for the ‘end of the season’ barbecue. When he walked in, I assumed that he was going to help me carry everything and save me a second trip.
“Trevor, could you bring this out and set it in the middle of the table?” I asked as I handed him a rather large bowl of fruit salad, my own creation. He had taken it from my hands, and placed it on the counter behind me.
“Kara, look, I got to be honest with you. Caroline’s great, but she just doesn’t do it for me like she used to. But I think you could do a much better job.”
“You have got to be kidding me,” I replied. “You are, right? I’m sure you are, because I know for a fact just how mad Caroline would be if she thought you were trying to cheat on her with her own sister.”
“Come on, Kara, just once, I beg of you, just a little kiss. That’s all I want. And then I promise I’ll stay faithful to your sister from now on, okay?”
I slapped him, and stormed outside, leaving his sorry self all alone. I found Caroline, and took her aside, telling her what had just happened.
“I’m so sorry, Caroline, but I had to tell you. I couldn’t let you marry him without knowing.”
“No, no, thank you, Kara, I’m glad you told me before I made a horrible, horrible decision. I can’t believe he hit on you like that! With me so close, no less! That little piece of scum!”
He had joined us by then, trying to play it off, act like nothing happened. Of course, Caroline didn’t let that slide. She exploded, calling him every name in the book, threatening to break the windows to his car if he didn’t leave immediately.
“No, babe, I’m sorry, I won’t do it again, give me another chance!” he said, still having the belief that he could get away with it.
“Get. Out. Of. Here. Now!” She yelled, her teeth clenched, her face a shade of crimson, the way it got when we were kids and she got mad or frustrated.
He left then, breaking into a run. Caroline did always get pretty scary when she was mad. It helped a lot when we were kids and others even dared to pick on her, or me. She always stepped in, and fulfilled her self-made requirements as a big sister to protect me. And now I got a chance to protect her.
I shook my head, remembering that that day was in the past, and Caroline didn’t need anymore help. I picked up the phone on my desk, and dialed her number. She still lived in the same house, and she had just gotten the deed changed so that only her name was mentioned. Only then could she change the locks, and make sure that he could never get back onto her life.
She picked up on the second ring. She always waited that extra second before picking up, so that she could check the caller I.D. first, and make sure it wasn’t one of those telemarketers that made her blood boil, or, even worse yet, her ex.
“Kara, hi,” she said happily.
“Caroline, how are you?”
“I’m good, you?”
“Fine. So what’s up?”
“Not a lot, I was just wondering if we were still on for tonight. Dinner at my place?”
“Of course, Caroline, I wouldn’t miss it for anything. When do you want me there?”
“Is seven alright?”
“Sure, I’ll see you later.”
I hung up; glad that was all she needed. And if I had to be at her place by seven, than that gave me four hours after work to figure out which one of my prankster friends mailed me that letter.
I had my suspects in order. Bryan would be the first I would talk to. He was the kind of person that would pull something like this. Besides, it would be easiest to get him to fess up. I knew his tell. Every time he lied, he would blink with his left eye, then his right.
Bryan worked as a teacher in the same school as me. After the usual rush of kids going out the front door at three o’clock on the dot, not a second more wasted in school, I went to his classroom to have a nice little chat with him.
“Hey, Kara,” he said when he saw me walk in. “What goes on? I thought you were going to see your sister today.”
“No, not until tonight,” I replied. “Look, I wanted to talk to you about something. I got this letter today, and I have to admit I’m a little concerned.” I made sure not to say that I was scared, just a little worried. I didn’t want him to think he’d finally won, when I wasn’t the slightest bit freaked.
“A letter? What kind of letter? Did you max out your credit card or something?” he asked, chuckling softly. I looked into his eyes. They weren’t doing their usual blinking show. I wasn’t finished yet, however, because he could still be the culprit, blinking or not.
“No, I didn’t max out my credit cards; I have a perfectly good credit score, to be perfectly frank. Actually, the content was a bit more serious than that.” I took the paper out of my bag, unfolded it, and handed it over to him. Pushing his glasses higher up on his face, he began to read.
“Good God! Someone wrote that they were going to kill you!?” he cried, staring at me with concerned eyes. I knew then that he wasn’t the guy I was looking for.
“So you didn’t write it, then?” I asked, defeated.
“Why the h*ll would I write something like this?”
“Hey! Language! There could still be kids in these hallways!”
“After school on a Friday? I don’t think so. Anyway, that’s not the point. You don’t seem worried, but I think you should. You don’t know who you’re dealing with here.”
“Bryan, listen. I’m sure its just one of the guys trying to scare me. All of you want to see me freaked out, admit it.”
“Kara, it’s true, we like to try to prank you, but come on, the stunts we pull are never as drastic as this.”
“Well maybe someone realized that their silly tricks weren’t going to work the way they wanted them too, and they’re taking an extra step this time,” I said, still relaxed.
“Kara, I really don’t think that any of them would –”
“Bryan, please, don’t get like that. You worry too much. I’m going to talk to everyone, and when I find out who it is, I’ll let you know, alright? It’s nothing; trust me, just one of them trying to scare me. It’s nothing new.”
“Alright, Kara, fine. But don’t hesitate o call me if you feel like you need a protection. Did you get this in the mail?”
“Well, then they know where you live. So, I think you shouldn’t be home alone until you find out who sent you that letter. You can stay with me if you need.”
“Thank you, Bryan, but I assure you it won’t be necessary.”
“You know, you are pretty stubborn sometimes, Kara.”
“Why thank you for that wonderful compliment. I have to go now; I’ll call you tonight and let you know what I found out.”
“Okay, bye. Stay safe.” I sighed.
“I will try,” I said before I walked out the door.
So Bryan didn’t send me that letter, I thought. Okay, that’s only one person down. There are still five more to go. It’s got to be one of them.
I visited Brianna next. We had been best friends since high school, and she was the one that tried the hardest to scare the living daylights out of me. If it’s not Bryan, then it’s likely that it was her, I thought as I drove to her house.
Brianna used to be a full-time veterinarian, but she had to cut back on her hours after her twins were born. So, when I knocked on her door, she was home to answer it, her two girls grasping at her ankles.
“Hey, Kara, come in,” she said when she saw it was me.
“Hi Brianna.” I knelt down to get at eye-level with the two kids. “And how are we?” I asked them in a sweet voice.
“Kara! Kara!” they squealed with delight.
“They just figured out how to say your name,” Brianna informed me.
“Aw, you’re practically all grown up now!” I said, cheery as ever. They grinned, showing me their almost full-toothed mouths.
I stood up, whispering to Brianna so that her kids could not hear.
“Can we talk in private for a minute?”
“Sure, the girls are just about to go for a nap.” She looked down at them. “Alright, Lisa, Paige, time to nap.”
“But we’re not tired!” they chanted, but I could see they were fighting yawns. I leaned down to pick up Lisa, hoping to give Brianna a hand. Scooping up Paige, we walked into the nursery, laying them in their respective sleeping area.
“They won’t sleep unless they’re right next to each other. The doctor said it’s normal at this age, but I’m afraid to keep this habit up.”
“Brianna, don’t worry, I’m sure as they grow older they will crave the extra room, especially if they take to kicking in their sleep.”
“I know, I know. Come on, let’s go, they won’t even shut their eyes if we’re still in the room.”
She led me into the living room, gesturing for me to sit on the couch. I complied.
“So, what do you want to talk about? No, wait, let me guess! You finally found yourself a boyfriend!”
“Brianna, give it up,” I said, frowning. “Actually, it’s a little more worrisome than that. You see, this afternoon I received a letter in the mail, threatening my life.”
Brianna’s eyes widened in shock. “No!” she gasped, placing her hand over her chest. “Do you have any idea who sent it?”
“Not a clue,” I lied, still sure it was her. “I’m a little concerned about it, especially since they mailed it, which means they know where I live.”
“Oh, Kara, you’re right. I don’t think you should be home alone then,” she said, almost quoting Bryan to a T. “You can stay with me, or I bet your sister will take you in, or she can stay with you, I would but I don’t think I can leave Lisa and Paige.”
Her rambling meant she was really worried. I knew that it couldn’t have been her. I loved Brianna to death, but she couldn’t act this well.
“Look, Brianna, let me be honest with you. When I walked in this house just now, I thought that it was you who wrote the letter, trying to scare me. Before I thought Bryan did it, but after talking to him I realized that he didn’t either. But I still think it was one of our friends trying to give me a scare.”
“Kara, do you really believe that one of us would do this to you? Look, I love to try to prank you just as much as anyone else, but I don’t think any of us are so desperate as to mail you a death threat.”
“You know, Bryan said the same thing,” I said, rolling my eyes. “You two worry too much. Look, I’ll get out of your hair now, and go see which one of you guys wrote me this letter.”
“Alright, Kara, but when you find that none of us did it, do me a favor and protect yourself.”
“Goodbye, Brianna,” I said, laughing softly at just how ironic this was. Everyone was scared except for me.
After I left Brianna’s, I decided to visit Renee. She managed a restaurant not far away, and I knew she always took a break between five forty-five and six o’clock. By the time I got there, it was five fifty. I saw her sitting on a bench outside, phone in hand.
“Any messages?” I asked when she didn’t see me walk up.
“Kara, hi! What brings you here? Do you have dinner reservations tonight? Have you got a date?”
“Sorry to disappoint,” I said, “but I’m just here to have a quick chat with you.”
“Sure, what’s up?”
“Okay, you are not going to believe this, but I got a threatening letter today in the mail.”
“What!? From who?”
“I don’t know, there wasn’t any signature, and there was no return address. I have to say, I’m a little worried.”
“Worried? Worried? That’s it? How can you not be totally terrified?”
This response gave me the notion that it was her, and she was disappointed that her plan didn’t work out the way she had hoped it would.
“Come on Renee, you might as well fess up,” I said, bored of the games.
“Fess up? You think I wrote you that letter? Is that why you’re so calm? Kara, you have to know that I would never do something this extreme.”
“Renee, I know it’s far-fetched,” I said, “but come on, who’s really going to be serious about threatening to kill me? I may be Italian, but I have no ties to the mafia. I’m not the big boss’s wife or anything.”
“Kara, you know that there are a lot of crazy people in this world. I’m sure some of the kids in your school will grow up to be idiots, no offence to them. Some people just need to get a little annoyed with someone before they go completely berserk. If I were you, I would go to the cops.”
“Over a harmless letter? I don’t think so. Even if I don’t find out who sent it, there’s no way that they would keep up with this. I guarantee you that this is the last death threat I’ll ever receive. It’s just a stupid prank.”
“No, Renee, relax, it’s nothing. No one is trying to kill me. I’ve got to go, I’m having dinner at Caroline’s tonight, and I need to get ready.”
“Alright, I need to get back to work anyway. But be careful, okay?”
“Alright, I will,” I said, if only to make her feel better. I didn’t need anyone worrying about me when I was perfectly safe.
I drove home, slightly annoyed that I couldn’t find out who sent me the letter, but determined not to let it get the best of me. I pushed the thought to the back of my mind, and instead focused on getting ready to go to Caroline’s house.
I let myself in the door, and locked it behind me. Not because of the letter, but just so no one wandered in while I was indecent.
I took a quick shower, wanting to give myself a little time to relax. After blow-drying and straightening the wavy parts of my dark brown hair, I slipped on my favorite navy blue cotton dress, not to formal, not to casual. I left my hair down, slipped into my silver flats, and was out the door after half an hour.
As I drove the familiar route to my sister’s house, I couldn’t help but feel I was being followed. I usually wasn’t paranoid, so I trusted my instincts when I felt that something was wrong. I drove around the block a few times; to see if anyone would copy me. When I was satisfied that I was alone on the road, I continued on my way. I still had plenty of time, something I prided myself in always allotting myself. I was never late. Punctuality was my favorite quality.
The clock on the dashboard read six fifty-seven when I pulled in her driveway. Three minutes to spare. Not wishing to waste any of them, I got out of the car, and started walking up the pathway.
That’s when I heard it. The distinct noises that sounded just like footsteps; double the speed of my own, getting louder and louder. I whirled around, trying to figure out whose steps they were. But when I looked all around me, I could see no one. Probably just a person walking their dog, I decided, and I can’t see them in the dark. Oh well, it’s not important, I came here to spend time with my sister, not look for people in the night.
I climbed the four steps to the front porch, and rang the bell. Caroline opened it quickly, grabbing me and pulling me inside.
“What was that all abou –” I began to ask, but she cut me off.
“How can you not tell me that you got a death threat? Me! Your own sister, your own flesh and blood? How can you leave me to learn it from Bryan when he called me?”
“Bryan called you?” I asked with some disbelief. Bryan was like a big brother to me, and he was a little overprotective at times, but this was ridiculous.
“Kara! He had every reason to call, and that’s not even the point! Have you called the police? Oh, of course you haven’t, because you’re too stubborn to see this as a threat. Kara, I love you, but you have to protect yourself! I don’t want to lose you!”
“Caroline, please, it’s nothing, I know it is. There’s no way that there’s any real threat. I haven’t done anything, I haven’t given anyone reason to want me dead. I don’t even know anyone this crazy!”
“What about our father? Huh?”
Our father seemed like your everyday family man; doing everything he could to support his family. For a while only a few people knew the truth. He was really nothing but a lowlife, mooching off of everyone he could and enjoyed watching the people around him suffer. He was arrested when he almost succeeded in running our mother over, where he died.
“Do you really have to bring him into this? And besides, he’s been gone for ten year now, it’s not like he’s writing to me from beyond the grave. I don’t think H*ll has computers, and this letter was typed.”
“Kara, you know what I meant. This person doesn’t even have to know you. It could just be some guy that’s been stalking you just for something to do. You’re young, you live alone, you’re single, and you’re the perfect target for weirdoes like those.”
“Caroline, I promise you, I am in no danger. It’s someone trying to scare me, that’s it. There is no threat here, not to me, not to you, not to anyone. That ex of yours has gotten to your head and made you paranoid.”
“Maybe you’re right, Kara,” she agreed reluctantly, “but you could just as easily be wrong! What if there is someone out there, waiting for the perfect moment to attack? I don’t want to lose my little sister. You’re all I’ve got.”
“I’m not going anywhere, I swear to you, I’m not going anywhere,” I said, looking into her big, hazel eyes, so much lighter than my brown almond shaped ones. “I’m not going to leave you alone. Now, let’s just go eat. I’m starving.”
We ate in silence, Caroline’s face plastered with worry, mine with annoyance that she couldn’t be as relaxed as I was. If anything, I was the one in danger, not her. Not that I was in any danger.
After we stripped the chicken she made to bones, and devoured the rice and salad accompanying it, we retired to the living room. I stayed for a single glass of wine, and then left, saying that I wanted to get up early the next morning to talk to my remaining three friends/suspects. I hugged her before I left, wrapping my arms around her tightly.
“Be safe,” she whispered in my ear.
“I will,” I replied, my tone just as hushed. I let her go, said a final goodbye, and let myself out the door.
If it was dark before, it was nothing compared to the blackness now. I could barely see three feet ahead of me. I walked slowly and carefully, not wanting to trip and give Caroline another reason to worry. It took me about a minute to walk the fifteen feet distance to my car, but I was still standing when I got there, which was a good thing. I felt around for the keyhole, and unlocked my car, got in, and drove off, waving to my sister standing in the window.
By the time I got home, it was nine o’clock. I kicked off my flats, sat down on the couch, and picked up the phone, wanting to call Bryan and tell him again that he shouldn’t be worried about me.
“Kara? What did you find out? Who sent you the letter?” he asked when he picked up the phone.
“I don’t know yet, Bryan,” I admitted.
“You see? I told you that you should be more concerned!”
“Bryan, stop, please. I only talked to you, Brianna, and Renee. I’m sure that either David, Emily, or Vincent is behind all of this. I just wanted to call you so you wouldn’t be worried.”
“But I am worried, Kara. I care about you, and I want you to be safe.”
“Bryan, please, trust me. I’m a big girl; I can take care of myself.”
“Alright, Kara, but promise me that you’ll call if you feel like you need a little protection.”
“If I say I will, will you stop worrying about me for no reason at all?”
“Not a chance.”
“And you call me stubborn!” I said, exasperated. Still, it was sweet that he cared this much.
“Well, it’s true. I’ll let you go for now, I’ll talk to you soon, okay?”
I put the phone back in its cradle, and stood up, realizing I was more tired than I thought. I decided to call it a night and just go to bed, and worry about figuring out the culprit in the morning.
I walked into my room, pulled off my dress, hung it back up, and slipped into my favorite tank top and shorts. I climbed into bed, pulling the covers around me. I shut my eyes, willing sleep to come. I tied to fill my mind with happy thoughts, like how I was going to murder whoever threatened to murder me. It was only fair that they got a taste of their own medicine.
When I opened my eyes again, the clock read seven twenty-five. Not bad for a Saturday, I thought happily. I’m sure most of the kids at the school are still passed out in bed. I guess they do deserve a break, but I think that they should at least get up before noon, and maybe go to bed before four a.m.
I climbed out of bed and headed for the bathroom. I took a quick shower, dried off, and walked back to my room, a towel wrapped around me. Picking my favorite dark wash jeans and a red sweater out of my closet, I got dressed. Giving myself a once-over in the mirror and deciding that I looked pretty decent, I headed downstairs.
After enjoying a single slice of toast for breakfast, I set out on my mission. I wanted to talk to the remaining three of my suspects, hoping that I wouldn’t have to see all three before I knew the true culprit.
I figured that David would be the only one up and about at this time, so I planned to visit him first. I texted him, asking if he wanted to meet up for coffee, nothing out of the ordinary. He told me to meet him at the shop just off of Route 17. Already en route, I agreed.
He was already seated when I walked in. I gave him a wave, and took a seat opposite of him.
“Kara, how have you been?” he asked before taking another sip of his coffee. “I got you your favorite, a mint flavored latte.”
“Thanks, David,” I said before taking a long drink. After I finished, I looked deep into his eyes. “Look, I want to talk to you about something. Yesterday, I got a letter in the mail.”
“There’s more to it than that,” he said, suddenly worried. “What did it say?”
“I’ll let you see for yourself.” I took the letter out of my bag and handed it to him. I let him read it as I drank my coffee.
“I’m going to kill you!? Oh my God! Kara, what are you going to do?”
I knew that he didn’t write it. He wouldn’t have reacted like that if he had.
“David, stop right there. As you can see, I’m really not that concerned. I think it was one of our friends trying to scare me. I already talked to Bryan, Brianna, and Renee, so the only two people left are Emily and Vincent. When I leave here I’m going to call Emily and try to set something up with her. If it’s not her, then I will go to Vincent.”
“And if you find that both of them didn’t do it?”
“Then I will start to be worried.”
“Kara, you’re really stubborn, you know that?”
“As a matter of fact, Bryan told me the exact same thing,” I said, laughing softly.
“Bryan speaks the truth.” He said matter-of-factly.
“Alright, no more on this subject for now. Let’s talk about something else. Like is your coffee burning your tongue, or am I the only one?”
When I bid David goodbye, I took out my phone, searching my contact list for Emily. Thank God these things were invented, I thought, or else I wouldn’t know anyone’s number, and I wouldn’t be able to talk to anyone. I think the only numbers I know are my own, Caroline’s, and mother’s. I sure called them enough times over the years to know those ones.
Emily answered on the first ring.
“Hey, Kara,” she said, “What goes on?”
“Not much, I was wondering if we could meet up for a little bit today.”
“Sure, how about now? I’m at home, it’s a little messy, but you can come over.”
“Emily, I promise you, no matter how bad your place is, it’s not the worst I’ve seen. Remember that old lady that lived down the street from you in high school?
“Old woman Krich? How could I ever forget?”
Mrs. Krich was a miserable old woman who never threw away anything. Her lawn was covered with old newspapers and boxes, and you couldn’t even see the grass. Not that anyone thought that anything was alive underneath it all. What was even more disgusting was the house. I had no idea how she was able to live in there. She would have had to climb over piles and piles of vases and silverware and old toys everywhere she went. Her bed was underneath three feet of garbage; apparently she slept underneath it all. If there was anything I could even say was remotely scary, it would be her living conditions. Even after the sanitation department evicted her from her home, the house never got a good cleaning.
“I’m just glad I never had to be near that house,” I said, shivering from the thought.
“I know. It was repulsing just to be on the same street as her. Still, I wonder what happened to her after she got evicted. I hope she was okay.”
“Emily, that woman was never okay to begin with,” I said.
“Yeah, I know. Anyway, you want to come over?”
“Yeah, I’m on my way now. See you soon.”
It was a ten minute drive from the coffee shop to Emily’s house. When I got there, she was sitting on the porch, waiting for me.
“Hey, Kara, how have you been?” she asked as she greeted me with a hug.
“I’m alright, you?”
“I’m good. Which is more than you can say. What’s the matter?”
I said nothing. Instead, I took out the letter and handed it to her.
“Dear Lord!” she screamed, clutching the paper in her hands. It’s a wonder it didn’t fall apart in her iron grip. “I can’t believe this? Who would write something like this?”
I knew it wasn’t her. She would have confessed if it had been. Which only left one more person.
“Vincent.” I said, more to myself than her.
“What? Why would Vincent write something like this?”
“Because he wants to scare me for the first time ever. You guys know about your lifelong mission to give me a ‘healthy dose of fear’.”
“But this is going way too far,” she protested. “And anyway, how do you know it was him?”
“Because I already talked to you, David, Renee, Brianna, and Bryan, who is very concerned, I might add. Vincent is the only one left.”
“So you don’t think it’s real.”
“No, I know it’s not real. No one wants to kill me. I didn’t do anything to provoke anyone; I’m just a secretary to the superintendant. Yeah, I get great pay, but that’s about it.”
“Kara, I really wish you would take this more seriously.”
“And I wish all of you would take this less seriously. You all wonder why I don’t scare easily. It’s because I am aware that there is a logical explanation for everything. And the logical explanation here is not that someone wants to kill me, it’s that Vincent is trying to scare me.”
Emily looked at me for a long moment, obvious concern in her eyes.
“Kara, I trust you, but be careful, okay?”
“You all told me that, and I gave you all the same answer. I will.”
I bid her goodbye, and walked back to my car. I drove home, hoping to grab some lunch before I talked to Vincent.
By the time I got home, I had already been delivered my mail. I picked it up, looking through for something other than bills and advertisements. There was only one envelope that was addressed to me and not to just the current resident. The same kind of envelope as yesterday.
“Another one? Really? That Vincent is going too far with this,” I said aloud. I opened the envelope and took out the letter inside.
Well, well, well. You still aren’t afraid. It’s okay; I’ll just double your fear when I kill you. I’ll go as slowly as possible, so I can prolong the moment. I’ll even let you in on a little secret right before you die. This way, you can take a little bit of knowledge with you to the afterlife.
I must say, I admire your determination not to be afraid. But it does close your eyes to some things that you should be more observant of. Like how I know where you are. When you read this, I will be watching you. Go ahead, look all around. But you won’t be able to find me. You can search high and low, but you still won’t be able to find me. And even if you do see me, you won’t know who I am.
I know you won’t look, Kara. I know you’re too stubborn for that. You’re more stubborn than a mule. Oh well. Doesn’t matter. You won’t have much more of a chance to be stubborn. Goodbye for now, Kara. I’ll be killing, I mean, seeing, you soon.
Vincent really went all out with this. It would be kind of sad to break the news to him that it didn’t work. It’s obvious he put a lot of thought into this. Better break the news to him fast, get it over with. Then we can both go on with our lives.
Scrolling through my contacts for Vincent, I finally found him, and made that call. He picked up on the third ring
“Hey Kara,” he said nonchalantly. He knew he’d be hearing from me soon enough, I thought. I guess he figured that it wouldn’t work in the end.
“Vincent, I’m sorry to say but it didn’t work. But I have to commend you for your well thought out scheme. I mean, two letters, that’s pretty good.”
“Um, Kara, what are you talking about?” he asked, his tone confused. He still thinks he can scare me, oh Vincent, you have to know me better than that.
“Vincent, give it up, I know it was you who did all this.”
“Did all what?” Geez, did he want me to spell it out for him?
“You know what I’m talking about. You wrote me those letters, telling me that you were going to kill me, to get a rise out of me. It’s a good plot, Vincent, but really, don’t you think that it’s a bit too dramatic? I know how much you guys all want me scared, but threatening my life is a little much.”
“Kara, I can assure you that I would never make any threats to my life. I still don’t really follow you. Who wrote you a death threat in the form of a letter?”
How can he think he can keep the charade? I thought. And he seems so confused. It’s almost like he really…oh my God.
“You really don’t know what I’m talking about?” I asked, my heart skipping a beat.
“I really don’t. Did someone write you a threatening letter? Kara, you should call the police if they did.”
“Um, Vincent, I have to go now. Just…forget about all this, okay?”
“Kara, are you alright? You sound shaky.”
“Yeah, yeah, I’m fine; I just need to do something. I’ll talk to you later, alright?”
I hung up the phone, everything crashing down on me. Vincent didn’t write me those letters. Emily didn’t write me those letters. David didn’t write me those letters. Renee didn’t write me those letters. Brianna didn’t write me those letters. And Bryan didn’t write me those letters.
They were real. They were real all along, and I was too stubborn to believe that. I should have listened to Caroline, I…
Caroline. She always wanted me to be more careful. She always wanted to show me that it was dangerous to never be afraid, that I needed to have some help once in a while. I bet Bryan never called her. I bet she already knew. I bet she wrote me those letters.
I walked outside, my appetite gone, only one thing on my mind. It was time to take another visit to see my dear older sister.
I didn’t want to play any more games. I just wanted to get the truth out, so we could all move on and forget this ever happened. I texted Caroline, telling her that I was going to drop by for a few minutes. She replied, telling me that she would be waiting. If she only knew what she was in for.
I pulled into her driveway, jumping out of my car and slamming the door behind me. I walked briskly up the pathway, up to where she was standing and waiting for me.
“Kara, what’s wrong, did you get another one of those letters?” she asked, looking at me worriedly.
“I think you already know the answer to that question,” I said simply.
“Oh, you did. I knew it, I just knew none of your friends wrote them! Please tell me you notified the police.”
“Caroline, why would you want me to do that? Do you want to go to prison? Do you no longer enjoy your life on the outside?”
“What? Kara, what in the world are you talking about?”
“Let us examine the facts, shall we? You said last night that you knew about the letters before I even so much as mentioned them.”
“Because Bryan called and told me,” she replied, still not seeing where I was going with this.
“A likely story. But let’s just go on. Today, you seem to already know that I received a second letter to match the first. But I gave you no reason to come to that conclusion. You reached it on your own.”
“You did give me reason to come to that conclusion. You came here, out of the blue, even though you were just here yesterday, and to be honesty you don’t look like you’re very relaxed.”
“Uh-huh,” I said, still not convinced. “Look, Caroline, I’m not angry with you. If you admit, right now, that you wrote moth of these letters, and even more of them, then I will forget about this whole incident, and we can both go on with our lives.”
“But Kara, I really didn’t write them! Why would I send a death threat to my little sister?”
“To teach me a lesson,” I replied, wanting to show her that I had it all figured out, and that she was caught.
“Kara, if I wanted to teach you a lesson, I would have had you over, sat you on the couch, and given you a lecture, face to face. I wouldn’t have hidden behind letters. You’re the one that likes to write, not me.”
“So are you really willing to swear to me that you didn’t write these?” I pulled both the letters out of my bag, and handed them over to her. She looked at them, reading each one twice. Then, she held them side by side. Her eyes shifted to the right.
It was as if I could see the wheels turning in her head. I knew she had figured something out. But what? What does she see that I overlooked?
“Kara, I want you to look at these letters very carefully,” she said, handing them slowly back to me.
“I already know what they say,” I said, taking the papers, but not looking away from her face, which had drained of all color.
“No, Kara, not the words. Look at the side. At the holes.”
“What? I know, there are only two. Does it really matter that much?”
“Yes, it does! Kara, I know this kind of paper. It was punched by a 3-hole puncher.”
“No it wasn’t. If it were than there would be three holes, but the one in the middle isn’t there, see?”
“Kara, listen! This 3-hole puncher was broken. It was dropped, and the piece in the middle fell out. So only the two holes would get punched. Kara, there is only one person that I know that uses that hole puncher. And that person is Trevor Cooper.”
“Trevor? Why would Trevor want to kill me?”
“Because you ruined my life,” a voice said from behind me.
Slowly, I turned around. There, standing not five feet away from us, was Trevor Cooper. I could see a gun in his front left pocket.
“Trevor, what are you doing here?” Caroline asked, shocked to see him.
“Why, didn’t you read my letters? I’m here to kill Kara. And you too, it seems. We can’t have you running to the nearest person telling them what I did, now can we? Come on; let’s go inside, I don’t want any nosy neighbors spying on us.”
We had no choice but to obey him, walking slowing inside, feeling his eyes watching us as we did so. When he got in, he closed and locked the door behind him.
“I like what you’ve done with this place, Caroline, I have to say,” he said, surveying the living room.
“Thank you, Trevor,” she said through gritted teeth. He didn’t let her hostility faze him.
Alright, well, as you both know, I promised in the letters to tell you who I was and how I was going to kill you. Well, as you probably have realized, I am Trevor Cooper. A month ago I was supposed to marry the lovely Miss Caroline over here. But then her sister went and ruined our happiness.”
“No, she showed me just how much of a scumbag you are, and saved me from being married to someone like you!” she yelled, her eyes filled with anger.
“Yeah yeah yeah, whatever, point is, we’re not engaged anymore, because of you, Kara,” he said, turning to me. “So now,” he chuckled. “I get to have my revenge. But first, I want a little something more. If you don’t mind, Kara, I would like a minute alone with my almost wife.”
He grabbed Caroline’s arm and led her into the kitchen, I not being able to see them, them not being able to see me. I didn’t want to think about what he was doing with her in there, not ten feet away from me, in the next room. I only hoped she would be able to walk away from it unscathed for now.
I sprang into action. Trevor must have not noticed the phone in my front pocket. I dug it out, and started typing as fast as I could on the tiny keypad.
Help. u wer rite. At Caroline’s. Trevor has a gun. Hurry!
I sent it, praying that he had his phone on him. If he did, it would still take a few minutes until he arrived to help. Until then, I had to do everything I cold to keep him talking, keep him busy, keep us alive.
I couldn’t help but think that, had I heeded all my friend’s warnings, I wouldn’t be in this situation right now, and neither would Caroline. I was so stupid, and now both I and Caroline were going to have to pay for it.
They returned, Caroline wiping her mouth with the back of her hand.
“Sit down next to your sister,” he ordered, pointing to the empty couch cushion next to me. She sat down.
“Now, that was nice, wasn’t it? Just like old times.”
“I don’t know what I ever saw in you,” she said, her voice a monotone.
“Alright, Caroline, fine, if you don’t want to admit what we had together, fine. It won’t matter what you think in a few minutes anyway. So, who wants to go first? Kara, you’re the reason we are all here today, I think it’s fair you start us all off.”
“Wait,” I said, now trying to stall for as much time as I could. “You said in your letter that you would tell me a secret before I died.”
“You are absolutely right, Kara. What I wanted to tell you is that I will be joining you after I kill you. You see, there are three bullets in this gun. This wasn’t for any particular reason at first, because as you know I didn’t plan on killing your sister over here.” He gestured towards Caroline. “But now it works out perfectly. There is one for you, one for your sister, and, after you two are wasted, one for me. I know that I will probably get caught if I walk out of here and leave you two to rot until you are found. My only option, really, is to kill the whole lot of us.”
“But, why do you have to kill Caroline, then? I asked, wanting if anything to save my sister. “If you’re going to kill yourself anyway, then why can’t she just go? I’m the one, you want, not her. You said so yourself.”
He contemplated this new outlook on things.
“Hmm, I suppose you are right. Plus, I assume it will be more torturous if you have to go on without your little sister, right, Caroline?” he looked over at her. She sat motionless, refusing to say a word. “Not talking, eh? Well, then I’ll just answer the question for you. Yes, it will be harder for you. Alright, Caroline, I’m not going to kill you. Under one condition. You have to watch as I kill your sister. If you so much as even close one eye, I’m going to shoot you too, understand?”
“Good. Alright, Kara, stand up. Caroline, eyes open.”
He placed the trigger in my right ear. I closed my eyes, waiting to die, knowing that there was no chance in escaping.
I’ve never been a person that could be scared easily. Haunted houses on Halloween, prankster friends jumping out from behind furniture, it never fazed me. I’ve never had an experience where I was so afraid that I looked behind my shoulder every ten seconds, just to make sure no one’s there. Until now.
He took the trigger out, examining it quickly.
“Almost forgot to take off the safety,” he said. “I know, silly me.”
Before he had a chance to do anything, we were all startled by a loud banging on the door.
“Police, open up now!”
“S***! The cops! Alright, which one of you did it, huh?” he looked from me to Caroline, pointing the gun to each of our heads, moving it back and forth. In that time, the police knocked the door down, filing in, grabbing Trevor, and disarming him.
Grabbing Caroline’s hand, we ran, out of the house and into the front yard. There was Bryan, standing outside, waiting by a cop car.
“Bryan! Oh, Bryan, I’m so sorry, I should have listened, I was so stupid!” I cried, throwing myself into his arms.
“Kara, Kara, it’s alright, it’s alright, he didn’t hurt you, he’s not going to be able to hurt you anymore. Caroline, are you alright?”
“I am now,” she said, her voice shaky. She knelt down, seating herself in the grass. I did the same, not leaving the protection of Bryan’s arms, pulling him down with me.
I opened my eyes wide enough to see Trevor being led out to one of the cop cars, handcuffs on his wrists. He didn’t look anywhere but down.
“Trevor wrote me those letters. It wasn’t any of you, it was Trevor. I didn’t even think of him, I didn’t even take him into consideration!”
“Why would you, Kara?” Caroline said, trying to comfort me. “I didn’t think of him either until I saw the two hole punches.”
Bryan had let go of me now, and I didn’t take my eyes off of either him of Caroline. I didn’t want to see anyone or anything other than the two of them.
When I finally calmed down, and my breathing was once again normal, I realized the one good thing that had come of everything that had just happened.
“Well, Bryan, you guys can all stop your mission now,” I said, smiling. He didn’t follow me.
“What do you mean?”
“Well, before, my breathing was jagged, and I was shaking like a Chihuahua.”
“Yeah, so? You were through a lot, it’s a normal reaction.”
“Bryan, don’t you see? I was scared!”
He looked at me, a blank expression on his face. Then, he broke into a huge grin.
“Finally!” he shouted, pumping his fist in the air. “So, Kara, what’s it like to have your fist scare?”
I looked at him, my expression serious.
“I never, ever, ever, want to have that experience ever again!