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I woke up groggier than usual that day and starred as my curtains blurred the sunlight that fought through. Inevitably the drudging task of grocery shopping loomed over my head. The task had fallen upon my shoulders once my brother, Grayson, and my father had left, and our mother had locked herself in her room. It wasn’t a long walk to the store, but it was one filled with known strangers irritatingly smiling and saying hello. The town was small, almost wimpy. Every face that passed knew of me, and I them, but never once have I passed a face that really knew who I was.
The store was on the corner of Redd and Bleek. The store's exterior's concoction of red and white sparked a faint memory of a hospital room. That day the store was quiet, only a few people browsing the many shelves. I went about my business, slowly moving through the aisles, grabbing what we needed to survive another lonely day.
And then it happened. A young man that was no older than 20 came into the store as people began to rush out. We were alone. His tall and thin frame towered over the store's miniature shelves. He had honey colored eyes and his nose resembled a bird's beak. His clothes were dark, seemingly soaked in an unknown substance, and his hood was drawn up and over his head.  I couldn't take my eyes off him as he moved swiftly towards the back of the store. I followed, keeping my distance as to not be seen. The man disappeared behind a wood door marked by 'MEN'.
Twenty minutes passed before he reappeared. I watched as his eyes darted around the store. They locked onto mine and for a split second everything paused. It was like no one else was on the planet except us. As I sunk into the deep pools of honey I felt a familiarity, like I had known this stranger deeper than I had known myself. Suddenly a scream sounded somewhere in the distance breaking the trance the man had me under. The man broke eye contact and sprinted towards the front door. There was only a small beat before my feet followed after him and into a sea of people gathering around a small alley way. A collection of screams and gasps were shared around me. Men, women, and children alike surged towards the alley. I felt like I was caught under the tide and suddenly I couldn't breathe.
I hastily pushed through the crowd, muttering 'sorry' inaudibly, until I got to the front. A young man was on the ground in front of me. The crimson of fresh blood soaked his hair and clothes, and the beautifully carved handle of a knife protruded from his chest. I stood frozen in my spot for what seemed like hours. I knew who the boy was, Alexander Jake, "the boy with two first names". He went to school with me when I was young. His parents were away on vacation and left Alexander to watch over his younger brother.
The police arrived almost instantly and began shooing away the crowd, putting up yellow tape that screamed the words "crime scene" at all who passed. The sun's rays glinted off of something next to Alexander's pocket and into my eye. Before I could act on my curiosity, an officer somewhat rudely pushed me away. I proceeded to be moved with the crowd's current for a minute before I ducked back into the grocery store. Hours passed before the crowd had grown bored of staring at a white sheet. A man and woman stood guard over the yellow tape, like trolls guarding the bridge. Their similar features obviously displayed that they were twins. They distractingly talked in hushed tones. I took the glaring opportunity and snuck into the alley way behind them. When I got to Alexander's body I bent to look at the shiny object. As I got closer it began to look more and more familiar. The pocket watch's etchings created a memory to itch at the back of my mind, one that screamed for my attention. But before I could recollect why it was so familiar the twins had run up to me.
"Hey! Get away from that body!" The twins yelled in unison. I quickly hid the watch in my pocket before Jack and Jill waddled toward me, holding their pants over their pot bellies the whole way. As they pushed me against the wall  jagged bricks threatened to break through my skin and draw blood. Jack pinned my arms behind me while Jill stood to the side screaming, or more likely spitting, my rights. Her putrid breath smelled of bacon and made my nose scrunch up unwillingly.
"We'll have to take you to the station for questioning," Jack muttered as he pushed me into his run down cop car. Through the window I caught a glimpse of a familiar frame across the street. It was the man from the store whom I had lost in the sea of people. He watched intently as Jill drove away.
Grayson was waiting for me at the station. His dirty blonde hair was a mess from the many times his nervous hands had passed through it.
"Oswin what did you do?" His words floated through the air, and as quickly as the summer breeze, they died. He looked older now, as if seeing me in this position aged him 20 years.  Jack and Jill corralled me into an office making sure to lock the door behind them as they left Grayson and I alone.  "Oswin don't just sit here right now," Grayson looked at me, searching my face for a sign of remorse.
"There was a murder," I mumbled. Grayson knew I could never stay away from something intriguing. Suddenly the door behind us opened. The smell of smoke mixed with whisky followed behind the man like a shadow. Grayson coughed.
"What are you doing here, Os?" The cop sighed. I recognized him as River Waters, my father's partner for years before his timely demise. I never liked him.
"She's here because Jack and Jill don't know how to be real officers!" Grayson yelled as he shot out of his chair like his words were enough to grant me my freedom.
"I was there because everyone else was. I swear I didn't do any harm." I said hastily. Anger flashed in River's eyes as he shook his head at me like a disappointed father.
"I know you took something, and I know you have something to do with this. Until you admit what we know you did, you aren't going anywhere." River spoke slow with poison and anger hanging on every word like a hungry alligator refusing to release his prey. Before I could respond River was gone, leaving Grayson and I to our own devices. The door River had exited out of was left hanging ajar from not being closed hard enough. I nudged Grayson and motioned to the newly opened door. As he rolled his eyes at me I craned my neck to peek into the hall. The building was surprisingly empty despite it being an afternoon on a week day. I ran towards the exit, forgetting about Grayson for a moment before my body hit something hard that caused me to fall on my butt. The man from earlier casted a dark shadow over me. He watched for a moment as I struggled to stand before he lifted me up by my arms. I stared into his eyes forgetting the situation I was in for a second before Grayson came running out screaming and gasping like a mad man.
"Who are you? What are you doing?" Grayson inquired in-between gasps of breath. Ignoring Grayson, the man turned me around to survey what was holding my hands together.
"The idiots didn't even cuff you, they're ties," he chuckled before ripping them from my wrists like they were small strands of licorice. The man gestured towards a dark alley way before quickly hiding himself. Grayson and I followed suit, confused as to why we had to hide. No one was on the streets in front of the building. The town was desolate.
"Rhydian Lucas," He mumbled when we were hidden. "You need to get out of this town, and I happen to know how to get you where you need to go," his words to a while for me to register. After a moment his face showed his impatience and he grabbed my wrist to rush Grayson and I towards an all-black car.
"Get in," He mumbled. Barely waiting for our butts to hit the worn out leather he continued, "this is my friend, she's going to help us." The girl barely turned as she gave a meek smile before speeding away to god knows where.
We drove for hours and although I don’t remember dozing off, we must of slept for the whole drive because the memory of the drive escaped me. As if minutes later, Rhydian woke Grayson and I up.
"There's someone following us," Rhydian mumbled. Grayson and I turned around and tried to get a look at the stranger's face. The face was blurred as the car drove behind us in another all-black car. It was almost like he wasn't really there. "On three we run into the woods okay?"
"What do you mean the woods?" Grayson blubbered. Before we could even unbuckle our seat belts the girl had pulled over and Rhydian screamed "three" at the top of his lungs. The girl and Rhydian flung open their doors and bolted from the car, all in the time it took me to unbuckle my seat belt. The man with the blurred face from behind us chased after them instantly. But before I could follow suit Grayson grabbed my arm and kept me in the car.
"We need to take this car and leave!" His words were nearly inaudible. His body shook with such force that it looked like he might knock himself over, like a chihuahua. Every hair on his body stood on end and his pupils nearly covered his iris'. Just looking at him caused fear to rush through every fiber of my being, and yet, I had no idea why.
"Rhydian killed dad," Grayson blurted seemingly as a last resort. I instantly took off running out of the car, following the path I had watched Rhydian run moments before. My vision blurred around the edges as I ran, but it wasn't out of anger. I felt numb, like it was almost unrealistic, it all felt like a dream. As I neared Rhydian it was almost like my body wasn't my own anymore. I watched as my fist slammed into his jaw and watched as he rubbed it. But I felt no pain, I felt no anger, just numb. Rhydian just stared at me as I slowly feeling began to seep back into my body and my vision cleared. He turned slowly and I watched his back as he climbed up the treehouse ladder. Grayson, the girl, and the stranger with the blurred face quickly followed suit. None of them saying a word to each other nor me. I wanted answers and at that moment the only way to get them seemed to be to follow them up the ladder as well.
I paused right by the entry after climbing up. All over the walls were pictures of houses and warehouses, of men and women from my town. Of me with my father and mother as a child. My jaw nearly hit the ground. On a small table in a corner sat a pocket watch that matched the one I took earlier that day from Alexander. I reached into my pocket to feel the rough texture of the engraved metal. The coolness calmed me. The man whose face was once blurred stared at me. He was attractive with his brown hair gelled up and out of his face perfectly allowing his gray eyes to be the main attraction. He had high cheekbones but they weren't high enough to be feminine and his jawline was sharp and strong. The boy looked familiar. I stared for a moment before it finally dawned on me.
"Alexander?" I asked. He turned towards me and winked,
"Surprise sunshine," he chuckled as he watched me slowly sink down to the floor. Grayson stared at me with a twinkle in his eye,
"Grayson? Why are you acting like you know what's going on?" I was screaming now, nearly hysteric. Grayson walked toward me before sitting down right across of me, placing his hand on my leg.
"Okay, don't freak out or ask questions until we're done." Grayson's tone suggested that if I had interrupted that he wouldn't finish. He looked over at the rest of the group that now crowded around me in a half moon shape. I felt like a child intruding on an "adult" conversation, like I was listening to something I shouldn't have heard.
"You know me as Alexander Jake, the boy you murdered."
"My names Rhydian Lucas, AKA your guilt. I created this whole dream, this whole reality you so childishly wish was true." There was a beat before the girl spoke,
"My name is Annalise Benson, Alexander's girlfriend." Her face seemed to click into my memory as one I had seen before, one I had known long ago.
"You killed Alexander Oswin, you killed your father. In cold blood, like an animal provoked by a stick in its side. You're a monster, you're everything you saw on your fathers files as a child, all the murder cases." Grayson's voice grew in volume as he spoke.
"How do you know all of this! How do you know I did this!" Tears flowed freely down my cheeks.
"Because, Oswin, I'm the only one who cares about you. The only one who could know how you feel, think, act. I'm you." As soon as Grayson said the last word he suddenly shoved me out of the tree house. I felt my body free fall but before I could scream, I slammed into the ground.
I awoke in a white room. The acidic smell of bleach burned my nose. My mother's face hovered over me, I was in a bed. I tried to raise my right hand up to feel her face, to make sure she was real, but a handcuff kept it down on the bed.
"Do you remember what happened?" She spoke suddenly, angrily. Something felt off about it, her voice was slow. My mother shared a look with a woman standing next to her,
"Annalise?" I asked,
"Do you remember killing your father and that boy, Alexander?" My mother continued with words laced with venom. A fire I'd never seen before roared behind her eyes.  I tried to yell, to get away but the handcuffs kept me in place. I was trapped. My mother and Annalise slowly backed away from me as two big men in red scrubs rushed in. One of the men held me down on the bed as the other jammed a needle into my upper arm. Instantly everything seemed to be in slow motion. I felt calm as my eyelids slowly drooped down over my eyes and I fell asleep, lulled by the sound of my screams echoing in my ears.

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