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A ribbon of scarlet wove through the trees, imprinted onto the pure white landscape of freshly fallen snow. The brilliant drops of red glistened in the afternoon sun that merely peeked out through the thick winter clouds. The woods were still. There wasn’t the slightest movement; not a whisper in the trees nor a rustle in the bushes, not a hint of life. The air was heavy and the cold was sharp and bitter. There wasn’t even a slight whistle of the wind and the silence was like a seal, preventing any noise from penetrating the hushed stillness of the forest.
The vibrant trail of scarlet intertwined with a set of small, feminine footsteps. Snow had been kicked in every direction as somebody had frantically sprinted through the woods. Up ahead the powerful crunching of feet in the snow pierced the pressing silence. Short gasps of breath followed as a small, female figure dashed through the trees. Her sheet of straight, sleek red hair flew in the icy air behind her as her feet hit the ground in tall, lace up, black boots. She wore a short, black trench-coat and torn black stockings. Her small, white hands were covered in blood, leaving the glistening trail behind her. Her beautiful, fierce silvery-green eyes were wide and her sharp, pointed eye brows expressed a look of anger even stronger than her usual intensity.
Her brilliant hair contrasted with her strikingly beautiful face. She had a small, gentle mouth and high cheekbones that defined her fierce beauty. But this wasn’t a normal pretty girl. Everything about her, from her short, lean legs to her slender, feminine figure to her soft white face and long red hair, gave off a feeling of intimidation and sheer, inexplicable danger. Her rapid breath rose and vanished in the winter air as she raced through the towering, snow covered trees.
Finally and oh so suddenly, the woods cleared and she slowed to a steady walk, wiped her blood covered hands on the snow, and caught her breath. The scenery changed rapidly from the daunting, silent woods to typical suburban scenery. Small, light colored houses with snowmen and minivans lined the road and the trees and bushes went from large, ominous, and unyielding to small, well-kept, and ornamental. She walked quickly down an empty road as she regained her normal breathing and turned onto a busier one, fixing her windswept hair. She calmly strode down the street and stopped at a cozy, small, pale blue suburban house.
A snow-covered minivan was parked in the driveway and twinkling Christmas lights lined the roof. She walked up the narrow, shoveled path and up the Christmas light-lined stairs. She rolled her eyes at the crooked welcome sign on the front door, turned the frost covered knob and kicked it open. In the small, homey living room a fire crackled next to an ornament and light-covered tree, and a short, pale woman with hair the color of honey, bright blue eyes, plastic rimmed glasses, and a red knitted Christmas sweater was playing with two small, red-headed children. She looked up and a forced, almost exasperated smile spread across her round, rosy face. She let out a sigh as she said in a strained, tired voice,
“Oh Sloane, darling, you’re finally home. We’ve been wondering where you were.”
“I’m sure you have,” Sloane muttered bitterly and, placing an ice cold, pale hand over her trench coat pocket, felt the satisfying outline of a small, sharp dagger and a tiny smile spread across her beautiful, devious face.
I awoke with a start, my heart pounding and my head reeling. Yet again my sleep had been full of horror. The same, terrifying, recurring dreams still found a way to haunt me. In my mind I replayed it. I could hear the quick breath and the crunching of feet on snow as the figure rushed through the woods. I saw the now familiar flash of fiery red hair and the glint of silvery green eyes. I sighed and flopped back down on my bed, my senses electrified.
It had been almost a week since the death of Jennifer Tegan, yet the whole town was still reeling in sheer horror as to how such a popular, innocent, amiable girl like Jennifer could have been so tragically and brutally murdered. Since her death my mind had been plagued by the same, awful dream every night. The police had found her body stabbed multiple times, hanging upside down by her ankles from a tall maple in the gloomy woods. The news had spread like wildfire, the story crawling from person to person like a disease, filling their minds and controlling their every action. What was worse, this was the third vicious murder of a sixteen year old girl in our town in the past month and still nobody had any lead as to who was behind it all.
Families with daughters in high school had not only stopped letting the girls go anywhere but school anymore, but they had resorted to packing up and leaving town. Fear in this town had not just dictated people’s actions anymore; it had become a second nature, a state of mind, an epidemic.
I shakily got out of bed and crept over to my desk, where a crinkled, over read newspaper sat. I took a seat and stared down at the perfect, dazzling white smile of Jennifer Tegan that was looking up at me from the cover of the paper. Her amber eyes twinkled and her tan skin was clear and smooth. Her long, straight, rich brown hair hung over her tan shoulders. She looked so happy and full of joy and life. I closed my eyes and remembered the way she strode so confidently through the hallways, saying hi to whomever she could, not just to seem popular, just to be nice and friendly. That was just who Jennifer was. How could anyone want to take the life of such a kind soul who had so much living left to do, so much going for her? I held back the hot, salty tears that stung my eyes, fighting away the tender flashback of my best friends laughter, her voice, her sweet vanilla smell, the way she could brighten just about anybody’s day, the way she was there for me throughout everything.
I opened my eyes and faced the mirror. My blue eyes were still glistening and wet, and my fair cheeks were now red. My wavy, shoulder length blonde hair was tied in two low braids. I wanted to stay in my room in my oversized sweatpants, the ones I refused to change out of until the very last minute, forever and cry my heart away, trapped in my memories. But just as I even pondered this thought I hear a cautious voice from downstairs.
“Alice, I know you’re upset but you have to go to school today. Are you ready yet?” I slowly stood up in the most lethargic manner, pulled on some jeans, boots, and a sweatshirt, grabbed my bag, and made my way downstairs. My mother was waiting for me with a mug of coffee in her outstretched hand and a sympathetic smile. She patted me on the back as I took my coffee and said in her best trying-to-be-supportive voice,
“Honey, you’re the strongest person I know. Trust me; going to school today will be good for you.” As much as I doubted her, she was still trying so I gave a small smile and said, trying not to sound sarcastic,
“I know it will, thanks.” When I spoke I was shocked as the very words left my mouth. My voice didn’t sound like it was my own anymore. It felt so distant and unreal, like it belonged to someone I didn’t know and I was merely listening to it. I had mentally detached myself from not only everybody else, but my very own physical being. All I heard was the scratchy, angry voice of a girl who had gone from kind, hardworking, and friendly, to cold, bitter, and empty.
As I walked out the front door I was greeted by gentle flurries of snow falling from the sky. We drove the icy roads to school in complete silence, my head resting against the frost covered window. We passed snow covered house after snow covered house; they were all exactly the same. It wasn’t until we were passing a pale blue variation that my interest was finally captured. My weary, bloodshot eyes settled on the thin, intimidating figure of the ever puzzling Sloane William.
With her usual grimace plastered on her face, Sloane charged out the front door as her plump, rosy cheeked mother rushed after her, clutching the hands of her younger children. It wasn’t a surprise to me that Sloane was in all black; her usual short back trench coat tied tightly at her small waist, the ripped black stockings and lace-up boots, the rim of a black skirt peeking out from under her coat. The only color on her altogether morbid person came from her long, fiery red hair and her cunning, narrowed silvery green eyes, and a brightly colored pin on her black satchel that had an angry clown on it. It would be an understatement to say that Sloane was strange.
However, today I noticed something new about her. If I hadn’t completely lost it, there was a spring in her forceful stride, and a subtle, menacing smirk lingering on her pale and beautiful face. This sight alone was enough to make me shudder. Sloane wasn’t just some strange girl. There was something frightening about her. It was as if every pore on her body was screaming danger, something so very evil was embedded in her narrowed eyes.
As our car drove by it seemed like time was in slow motion, and as I watched her she slowly rose her head until those ever-frightening silvery green eyes settled on me in a malicious glare, and a slow, horrible smile spread widely across her beautiful face. I was sure at that very moment that my heart had stopped, but before I knew it we had passed the Williams’ house and were back to passing bleak residence after bleak residence. I quietly sighed, reassuring myself that I had had a rough week and my mind was just playing tricks on me. Besides, Sloane was a borderline certified lunatic, judging by the things she said in class and the peculiar, morose drawings I often saw in her locker. I decided to put Sloane from my thoughts for the rest of the day, for I would certainly have a lot more to deal with than some creepy classmate.
Our car slowed down as we approached the large, rectangular building that was my school, the building that now felt foreign to me. It was so cold and unfamiliar, stuffed to the brim with shallow, unfriendly people that I could care less about but had to tolerate. I wanted nothing less than to go back to class where I would sit in the corner enduring their eyebrow raises and general teenage rudeness. None of them could compare to Jennifer. She had always been so kind to me, no matter what they said. She had the heart they could only dream of. We pulled up outside the large, glass front doors and I could already see the flocks of students huddled together in the main entrance and the hallways, like wild geese, filling the halls with incessant noise. I turned to face my mother.
“I can’t,” I whispered in a dry, cracked voice. My mother looked at me, her blue eyes swimming with concern. It was that look she always gave me when I spoke, like she was trying to read me, trying to understand the way I thought. I couldn’t stand it.
“You can,” She pushed, “You have to try.” It was no use, trying to make her understand how very horrible this day was going to be was simply impossible. I sighed and grabbed my bag, my heart pounding with anxiety and sheer worry, and got out of the car. I slammed the door before my mother could finish her feeble, drained “I love you.”
The air was thin and the icy, bitter wind pierced me right down to my bones. However I felt no cold, or the slightest change in temperature. My heart was throbbing with fear, warm blood rushing throughout my body. Already it had begun, the discomfort, the fear, the anxiety. I willed my feet to move towards the building and they reluctantly obeyed. My eyes focused on the glass front doors and nothing but that. Nothing else existed except the doors and I, but as I charged onwards, something horrible stopped me dead in my tracks.
“Alice,” a high, chilling voice whispered my name so it was barely audible. Time could’ve stopped then and there, and as I turned to face the speaker I could’ve sworn my legs were going to give way and I would fall unconscious onto the icy bed of white below me.
But I stayed standing. My eyes froze on a pair of black lace-up boots and I could feel my heart pounding even harder as my body went numb.
“Sloane… hi,” I muttered in a resentful undertone towards the ground. I knew she could tell how uncomfortable I was, I was being anything but discreet. I didn’t care. All I could think about was getting away from her and her cold, evil presence. Maybe I was overreacting; no, I definitely was. But today was already starting off worse than I thought it would.
One of the worn boots took a step forward, kicking aside some freshly fallen snow, as Sloane began to move towards me. I could feel my body seize up and I silently dared myself to look up at her face. This idea, however, was not a brilliant one. There was a malicious glint in her narrow, silvery green eyes and her pointed eyebrows furrowed as a small smirk spread across her pale, beautiful face. Strands of her silky, vibrant hair fluttered across her cheeks and I could detect a flicker of dislike in her devious expression. She proceeded to move towards me, mutely beckoning me to walk into school with her.
Again I was headed towards those glass doors, continuing on my death march, the grim reaper now accompanying me.
“I’m so sorry about Jennifer,” she said, her sympathy so fake it made me sick, “I know she was always so kind to you.”
“She was my best friend,” was all I could manage in a weak, pathetic voice.
“Of course she was,” Sloane continued, coldly, “But you know, she wasn’t as saintly as everyone made her out to be.” Her sentence was like a slap in the face. I could already feel the rage welling in my chest. I wanted to wipe that tantalizing smirk away from her cruel, beautiful expression. Who was she to say something like this, to make such a horrible comment against such a lovely person? It had been with spite that she had said it. But this spite wasn’t the bitter, frustrated kind. In fact, I might have even seen a brief glimmer of joy shine in her narrow eyes. I could have been imagining things, but there was definitely something off about Sloane; so bizarre, so terrifying, and so very off.
Unfortunately, before I could even formulate a response to such an accusation, Sloane had walked off, leaving me to finally enter the school alone.
Silence; I never knew how horrible such a thing could be. I used to love the silence. It comforted me. In the hours after Jennifer’s death I craved it. Escaping other human beings always seemed to be the best form of mourning. Silence was my escape, and human voices were my nightmare.
But now as I entered the school, I would have given anything to have that sweet, obnoxious noise filling the halls. I missed the loud or high pitched voices of the other students that would so brutally pierce my eardrums, because at that very moment that I entered, all noises seemed to simply vanish into thin air, and every single judgmental, harsh, curious pair of eyes in that hallway landed on me.
I wanted to run and hide, do something to get out of that awful situation. I wasn’t used to this much attention, and I certainly did not like it. However, although it felt like it never would, that moment did pass, and the conversation began again, slow and feeble. But I wasn’t totally free yet. A group of girls approached me, as if too afraid to go alone, like I was a wild animal.
“Hey Alice,” one of the girls muttered after being nudged by her friend. I didn’t care enough to remember her name.
“Hi,” I said reluctantly.
“How are you? We haven’t seen you in a while.”
“I’m fine,” I silently begged for the conversation to end. Yet they still pushed.
“We’re really sorry about Jennifer; we know you really cared about her.”
“Thanks. I really miss her, but I’m sure the pain will subdue eventually.” This was a lie, the pain would never go away, it would forever haunt me, making me sick with loss and forever leaving a gaping hole in my life.
“Yeah, Jennifer was so nice. It must have been so hard to lose her.” They looked at each other awkwardly, wondering how to get out of this situation they stupidly dragged themselves into. But before I could end it myself, one spoke again.
“You haven’t been to school in a while; we didn’t think you were coming back.” The rudeness of this comment added to its ridiculousness, I had only been gone a week. Did they already forget about me?
“Well,” I sighed with raised eyebrows, “I’m here.” My voice was thick with irritation, I no longer desired to be polite, “And I have to go. Nice talking to you all.” I left the group of them looking surprised and the sweet feeling of satisfaction filled me up.
However, it didn’t take long for that very satisfaction to drain, and for me to feel awful again. The day trudged on, and I was constantly plagued by the ever troubling presence of Sloane. She was everywhere. I didn’t remember having so many classes with her. I remembered passing her in the halls as she slithered along, but now I simply could not shake her. Every room I walked into, there she was, her narrow eyes fixed in a fierce glare in my direction, daggers. I would sit as far away as I could, yet it made no difference. Simply being in the same building with her now made my stomach churn.
I loathed her. I loathed everything about her; the way she glided along through the halls, the way her narrow eyes were always on me, the way she flaunted her constant look of triumph and satisfaction, and the way she suddenly seemed to plague my mind despite everything else I had to think about. Her beauty disgusted me. The soft glow of her skin made me cringe, the way her long, vibrant sheet of hair cascaded so perfectly over her small shoulders, her pointed eyebrows, her chilling, misty eyes, and her small mouth that now carried a horrible, vindictive smirk.
Finally, when the day seemed like it would never end, the bell rang, announcing lunch, and I broke free. I was determined to get as far away as possible from the funny looks and the whispers and the eyebrow raises and, most importantly, Sloane. However, no sooner had I escaped the oppression of the classroom was I faced with the same problem I’d been burdened with all day.
She was behind me. I could hear the click of her boots on the hallway floor. It matched my pace perfectly and my heart began to beat more quickly. My breath caught in my throat and I sped up, but it was no use. She was still there; I could hear her steady breathing. Sure, plenty of people surrounded me, but I knew it was her. I felt as if there was a shadow above me, the darkness and evil consuming me.
“Off to lunch?” Her soft, menacing voice was enough to make me jump. A chill ran up my spine and I looked into her eyes. They were like daggers. I struggled to find my voice somewhere inside of me, but it no longer seemed to exist. So I merely nodded sheepishly in reply. I nearly trembled at the thought of what would come next, and as her soft voice pierced the air again, my fears came true.
“Why don’t I join you?” My mind was exploding with frustration, screaming no, but I involuntarily nodded once more before I could stop myself. I had planned on eating outside in the bitter cold, in the courtyard filled with dead trees and ice covered picnic tables. Sure, I would spend lunch shivering and dreaming of the warmth, but at least I would be alone. Well, I would have been if this cold-hearted demon wasn’t accompanying me.
We walked in silence, and I was determined to stay as far away from her as possible. She didn’t seem to care that she was blatantly staring at me as we walked, burning a hole right through me.
The air in the courtyard was biting and frigid, more so than I remembered from the morning. It snatched the breath from my lungs and my legs felt like lead as I trudged towards the picnic table. For the first few minutes we sat, eating, in pressing winter silence. Even the usual comfort of the wind had vanished.
“So,” I started nervously, “Is there something you want to talk about?”
“No,” She said sharply, “Just thought you could use a friend.” My stomach lurched; a friend, in Sloane William? Then something occurred to me and I began again, slowly and shakily,
“What did you mean before, when you said that about Jennifer?” Sloane let out a shrill, bitter laugh. There was a hateful glint in her silvery green eyes and a sour expression on her face. She hesitated, thinking over how to respond. I shuddered in horror to think about what could be running through her mind.
“Alice,” the sound of my name in her voice made my stomach churn, “I know you thought very highly of her, but there was much more to your beloved Jennifer. Everyone seemed to think she was so kind… so innocent.” Sloane spat the word innocent, as if there were some horrid taste in her mouth. Her small lips tightened and she sighed, looking sick with hatred. The magnitude of her dislike was heavy and powerful.
“She was kind to me,” I said hoarsely, feeling weak as if Sloane was in my head, her influence corrupting my thoughts.
“Oh please, Alice.” I wished she would stop saying my name, “She was kind to you? I’m afraid you’ve been horribly disillusioned. She didn’t care about you. She didn’t care about anyone. She was selfish and manipulative and shallow, I’m glad we’re rid of her.”
There was nothing but silence that followed. The cold, biting winter air was still, yet I felt as if everything was spinning. I was going to be sick. How could she utter such a horrible thing? There was a vicious glint in her eyes and suddenly everything became clear. I took a deep breath and, keeping my epiphany to myself—no matter how much it troubled me, I spoke again, strong and furious,
“You’re wrong, and you’re a terrible person for saying that! But enlighten me, Sloane, what could Jennifer have done to draw such hatred from your sick, twisted little mind?” Sloane glared at me and when she spoke all of the fake, smooth kindness had gone from her voice.
“You really want to know, don’t you? Jennifer had no kindness or compassion for other or their feelings. She took from me the one thing I could hold dear in this world, the one person. I loved him more than any other guy, admired him from afar, dreaming of the day that he would be mine. Jennifer knew this, how could she not? My affection for him was clear. But she wanted him and sweet little Jennifer just had to get what she wanted!” She spat, “Well now I got what I wanted! She deserved it. Good riddance!” Her voice was thick with spite and sheer, terrifying hate.
I couldn’t believe it. The truth; there it was with narrow, silvery green eyes full of evil, a pale, beautiful face, and flaming red hair. It had presented itself so clearly to me for a reason. I was going to be the one to bring justice to Jennifer’s, and all the other girls’, murder. I would be the hero to expose the evil of Sloane to the world and honor Jennifer’s memory. It didn’t even frighten me anymore that I was sitting face to face with a cold-blooded killer. I didn’t fear Sloane, I loathed her. I wanted to never see her horrible, sinister face again, to see her dragged away in cold, unyielding chains.
“You killed her,” I hissed and, to no surprise, a disgusting, malicious smile spread across her face and she rose from her seat, spun on her heel, and glided away. Her brilliant hair flowed behind her and I was left sitting alone, absorbed in horror and hatred.
I was numb. But as much as I wanted to stay in my seat, frozen like a statue, I needed to take action, and I needed to do it immediately.
I shot up and bolted towards the door, leaving my half eaten lunch at the table. My feet carried me where I needed to go, no thinking, just mindless moving. I dashed down the hallway towards the main entrance, footsteps echoing loudly.
“Alice!” A deep voice boomed, the voice of my principal, “I’ve been looking for you. We need to speak with you, right now.” He had other faculty members with him, all looking concerned, but I couldn’t be bothered with them now, this was a matter for the police. I ignored them and burst out the front door, not listening to the cries demanding I come back. I cut through the winter air, full speed. I hurtled away from the school and down side streets towards the main road. I kicked aside freshly fallen snow and moved at a pace I didn’t know I was capable of. I went past cheery, comfortable houses, peaceful and oblivious to the tragedy at hand.
Time passed quickly, and before I knew it I was on the main road pointed me right towards the town police station. It was beckoning me, and I was ready, more ready than I had ever been, to say everything I needed. I had a confession and the proof was sure to follow. Sloane was a high school girl, how well could she hide a vicious murder? I could only assumed she had been responsible for the others as well, they were all done in a similar fashion.
I arrived at the door and shoved it open, only to find chaos greeting me at what was normally a very quiet place. The police station hadn’t been in an uproar like this since the day of the first murder. After that, everyone at the station proceeded with fear and caution, having no leads. But now it was sheer chaos. People rushed to and fro in a state of worry. Officers and detectives were pulling out files on the murders, going over everything. It was as if they had reached a conclusion themselves… but how? They were so busy that they barely even noticed me. I walked up to the desk and cleared my throat and an officer looked up. I was so concerned that I didn’t even notice the incredulous expression on his face.
“I know who killed Jennifer Tegan.”
I tapped my foot impatiently, my stomach churning. It echoed throughout the room and slowly drove me crazy, but I couldn’t stop, I had too much nervous energy stored up that it needed to be channeled somewhere. After spilling out everything I knew, the officer had merely given me a puzzled look, taken me to an empty room, told me to stay there for a little, and locked me in. I would surely go insane. Sloane was out there, a bloodthirsty horror walking free.
I leapt up, threw aside my chair and began to pace. My breathing was unsteady and my hands were trembling. Finally I heard the satisfying turn of a lock and the door opened. In walked four officers, three detectives, and my mother. There was something peculiar about her, her eyes were bloodshot, her cheeks red and streaky; she had been crying. She clutched something tightly in her hands, but I couldn’t tell what it was.
She pursed her pale lips as an officer with a grim expression pulled out a chair for her, allowing her to sit down. Her bloodshot eyes were fixed on the floor; she refused to look at me.
“Mom?” I whispered in a cracked voice, fearful of how distant she had become. She flinched at the word and sighed slightly. She said nothing. This was when her tight grip on whatever she was holding loosened, and she slammed a small black book on the table. The cover of the book bore them name Alice Fiona Ellard in silver marker—my name.
“Alice, I’m Officer Grant. Do you know why you’re here?” asked an officer with a deep voice and thick, plastic rimmed glasses.
“Well, I thought it was because I discovered who killed my friend Jennifer, but you all don’t seem to be treating that with much urgency!” I replied coldly, “Other than that—no, I have no idea why I’m here. Why have you brought my mother? Why aren’t you taking action towards Jennifer’s killer?”
“We are,” he answered curtly, “Mrs. Ellard, could you please show Alice what you discovered just this morning?” My mother held back a choked sob and opened my diary for me to see.
Page after page was full of my own words. My mother turned all the way to the very last one where, clearly written in my own handwriting, was a vivid recount, mingled with heavy emotion, of how I murdered Jennifer.
The room was spinning. Nothing felt real. This was a horrible dream. It had to be. I violently snatched the book from my mother’s tense hands and flipped back through the pages, which contained details of how I had murdered the two other girls, Kate and Laura. My reasoning: they had teased me. And apparently Jennifer had stolen the boy I was in love with, the same exact reasoning that Sloane had provided for killing Jennifer. My words were filled with such hate, but none of this was true! Sloane was the murderer, not me. I jumped from my seat, outraged.
“This is a lie!” I cried.
“Alice,” my mother said weakly, “You’ve confessed.” I could see the pain this caused her, and my infuriation grew.
“It wasn’t me…It was Sloane! Sloane William!” I was met by puzzled, blank expressions.
“Sloane William! She goes to my school! She’s in my grade! She lives at 63 Usher Place, the small blue one!”
“63 Usher Place has been abandoned for several years,” my mother replied.
“We have no record of a William family living in town either,” Officer Grant added.
“You… you think I’m making it up?” I spluttered. I had reached the point of hysterics, “You think I killed her don’t you? Don’t you?” I turned to my mother, desperate. “Mom.” No response. “MOM!” I shrieked. I bolted to the door and felt a burly officer’s arms around me.
“Get off! Let me go!” I struggled and screamed. Everything was sheer chaos and all I could think of was to not stop fighting and to get out of there. I kicked and bellowed and elbowed. My screams grew louder and louder until a needle punctured my arm and everything went black.
Everything was white. That was all my eyes could take in when they first opened; blinding white. A white ceiling and white washed walls. I was most likely lying in a white bed. I was the only person in the room. That was when I actually noticed the room itself. There was nothing in it except for me, a bed, and a window barred shut. Was this real? I didn’t know what to believe anymore.
My head was throbbing and I felt sick. It was all beginning to sink in. They thought I killed Jennifer and Kate and Laura. They all did, even my own mother. They probably thought I was crazy.
There was a knock on the door and, without hesitation, a small, delicate, intelligent-looking woman entered with a clipboard. All that ran through my mind was that I could easily fight her and escape from wherever I was trapped.
“Hello, Alice,” She said in a far too gentle voice, “My name is Doctor Lawrence.”
“Hi,” I spat.
“This is the Sullivan Mental Institution, welcome back dear.”
“Welcome back?” I repeated, dumbfounded.
“You’ve been here before. You don’t remember.”
“No, I haven’t”
“You have. You were released two weeks before the murder of Kate Brighton.”
“The murder everyone thinks I committed.”
“Alice, you are very ill. We can help you.”
“You can’t, I’ve done nothing wrong and I have not been here before. It’s all lies.”
“This Sloane William you speak of—that is her name right?”
“She is a product of your mind. She’s not real.”
“No. You’re lying!” I cried.
“I can see you need your time. I’ll be back later.” As she got up to leave the room I seized my opportunity. I leapt out of bed, snatched her auburn ponytail and, yanking it with all my might, threw her weak little body to the floor. The rest was a blur.
I do not know how I escaped, or what I did to get out, but a horrible, violent, angry feeling had come over me and all I could think of was proving my innocence and seeing that beast put away forever. The next thing I knew, I was sprinting full speed through the woods. My bare feet were like blocks of ice, kicking through the snow, raw and bleeding from the rough terrain. My body was numb in the thin, papery outfit the hospital had provided me. The icy air whipped me in the face. But I was on a mission; I was going to Sloane’s house and I was going to kill her.
I was nearing The Bridge when I saw her. The Bridge was notorious in our town. 100 feet in the air, over a narrow winding river that cut through the woods, and made entirely out of old, worn out wood; The Bridge had always terrified me. But I was not troubled by that at the moment. It was the small feminine figure I saw standing on the bridge that caught my attention, dressed in all black with pale white skin, flaming red hair, and narrow, chilling, silvery green eyes.
“Hello Sloane,” I called grimly when I got there.
“Alice,” she chuckled, “Miss me?”
“You’re disgusting.” More laughter.
“I hear you tried to expose me to the police, nice try.”
“You framed me.”
“Of course I did.” I loathed her. Why was she saying this all with such ease? Fury welled in my chest.
“Why did you do it?” I was walking right up to her now, ready to grab her and fling her from The Bridge at any moment, but first I needed my answers.
“Oh, I told you that already, silly girl!”
“Why did you frame me?”
“Because, everyone already thinks you’re crazy, why ruin my clean slate? Your mental background adds credibility, makes you a much more likely suspect. It was easy. You’re a certified psychopath, Alice, we all know it.”
That was it. I lunged and grabbed her neck, letting my rage take over, all of it channeled to my fingertips. But Sloane was smart, and as I overpowered her and she lost air in her lungs, the little color that existed draining from her face, she pushed me towards the low wooden rail of The Bridge and I heard the sickening crack of the old, rotted wood giving way. Together we fell through nothingness, hurtling towards our untimely death, the cruel death we would both have to face. That was when I realized my fingers were closed around nothing, just air. Sloane had vanished. Or maybe, she was never real at all.
An article appeared in the local paper the next day.
The body of Alice Ellard, sixteen, was found dead this morning, one day after she had surprisingly escaped from Sullivan Mental Institution. Evidence has been discovered revealing Alice to be the cause of the three tragic murders in this town just last month, including the one of Jennifer Tegan, also sixteen. Alice had a severe mental condition, and everything surrounding her own death points to a suicide. The wooden bridge, approximately 100 feet above where the body was found, is shown to be from where she jumped.