Adult; horror; dark fantasy; mystery
1 of 5 in the Wisteria series,
Aubrey finds a book that propels her and peers into horror and
|self-harm |explicit scenes
© 2017 by Shelby Lamb.
(paperback: First Edition)
(paperback: Final Edition)
enter at your own discretion…
Table of Contents
Bring Me to Life
Freaky Green Eyes
Down the Well
What’s with McKyle
“Grandma, there was a man in the computer!”
Here, Piggy Piggy
Repent of Your Sins
It was a gloomy
September evening in Ontario, and under the periwinkle sky, Aubrey
glided down the sidewalk in a black tent dress and ballerina
slippers. School over, she wandered around downtown Brampton, her
usual wheat-blond hair dyed a pastel pink. The Canadian breeze
rippled it like fine silk, whipping it around her sapphire eyes. Set
in a moon-shaped face, that blue gaze of hers was heavily penciled
with the darkest liner she could find. As commuters brushed past, she
gazed down, self-consciously, on occasion.
can’t I just be perfect? Scratching the negligible mole
on her neck, she also wondered about the angry red pimples dotting
her forehead. As a guy here or there glanced her way, she hoped her
face was somehow charming, if not remarkable. She hoped her legs
all she could hear. Amy Lee sang “Bring Me to life,” in her ears.
Using a music app on her phone, she had her earphones plugged in.
Aubrey listened and listened until she felt the words seeping into
The used bookstore
nestling on the street corner, appeared inviting with its patchy,
apricot façade, like a gentle old face. Without much thought, Aubrey
entered it. The damp, cool gloom inside didn’t disturb her. On the
contrary, she felt at home. A bored-looking woman manning the counter
watched her closely, chomping on gum. “Can I help you, miss?”
called the plump woman after blowing a bubble.
Aubrey hardly heard her
through the earphones. Without responding, she ambled down the
aisles, browsing the collection of tattered books. The sweet, earthy
smell of aged paper filled her nostrils.
One book stood out to
her, dark with whimsical, purple lettering. “Alright, what’s
this?” Aubrey sighed pleasantly to herself. Reaching out, she
snatched the book of interest off the shelf to read the title:
In the black of night,
Aubrey draped her arms around a bloke’s shoulders, inhaling his
cigarette-stained breath. Much like hers, his face was plagued by
zits, but at least had good structure. She didn’t want to catch a
STI, but neither had a condom, and she was…thirsty?
At least that’s what they called it these days. She knew
it was gross, but if she were ever going to stop thinking about
Nathan for one second, she’d have to take extreme measures. Like
hooking up with a random dude next to a dumpster behind a rundown
Raw adrenaline surged
through her veins like a wildfire as Nathan drifted from her mind.
The stranger got her moaning in thoughtless bliss, but eventually his
greasy, toffee-brown hair kept straying into her mouth. He also
wouldn’t shut up. “Baby! Oh, baby! Yeah…yeah…”
approached, they both gasped. Startled, Aubrey’s conquest yanked
himself out of her just in time and zipped up as the vagabond
shuffled around the corner. Yanking her dress down, Aubrey ran,
forgetting her panties tossed aside on the ground.
Rain fell heavily the
following day in Caledon. Over a century old, the house stood
forebodingly, a mountain of wood, brick, and stone, three stories
tall, with two chimneys. Soaked moss and vines climbed up to the
rooftop and chimney on one side.
Inside smelled of mold
and isolation, a certain gloom that Aubrey didn’t appreciate. She
hung her head, shuffling past the lounge where some brain-dead
catatonics sat, gazing dumbly at the television. Some were drooling
all over the couch again. “Ms. Harris will be upset!” yelled a
Down syndrome girl before clapping her hands over her mouth to
Aubrey yawned, marching
up the staircase that led to the second-floor. The scent of sad wine
clung to her skin and nightshirt like sweat as “Bring Me to Life”
echoed in her brain. With her pink hair soaked and tangled from
showering, she entered the humming laundry room, ignoring the rat
scurrying by. She transferred her wet clothes from the large washer
to one of the two dryers, cursing when a pair of underwear fell to
Once her laundry work
was over, she shuffled down the hall and headed up the staircase to
the third-floor. She slipped into her bedroom. Inside, naked blue
walls, cream curtains, and a large mahogany bed with a bookshelf
fixed into the headboard, awaited.
Aubrey checked her jar
of stolen pills underneath the bed. She shook it. Some of Ms.
Harris’s residents wasted their prescription drugs or passed on
without ever getting the chance to finish them. Aubrey kept them safe
in her room. She was saving them up for that pending moment when she
would need them. They were mostly sedatives, blue and pink like
pretty, little bullets. Candy.
Aubrey imagined going
down like Whitney Houston: a cocktail of drugs, alcohol, and a
bathtub. She would wash down the pills with a bottle of sherry. The
alcohol, the chemicals, and warm water would come together magically.
Then down, down, down. Slowly. Then nothing. No more pain.
Holding her head, she
murmured, “Need more pills. Need more. More. More.”
Aubrey chuckled despite her dark mood. Her talking to herself
reminded her of the blind, old resident in the attic above her. She
wondered if the woman needed her bedpan cleaned again, but was in no
mood to even check. “I feel so alone,” she sighed. “How can
anyone feel this way and go on?” After all, it was Friday, and as
usual, her friends were MIA.
Where on earth was her
best friend Adelaide Pierri, the beautiful Italian girl who had the
matching necklace to her BFF ring? Or Billie Porter, the girl she
considered her other best friend? Both had promised to hang out with
her this Friday. It was childish, Aubrey knew, but she couldn’t
help but scream, “They are such liars!”
glanced at the screen of her cell phone: zero
messages. Defeated, she flopped down on the spongy bed,
imagining the girls having the time of their lives, living it up with
their more important friends.
A moment of silence had
passed before she sobbed, feeling like an utter reject.
Arms wrapped around
herself, she went on. “This is when I need Nathan. I miss him…I…I
need him.” After a long pause, she let out a sniffle. It would take
all her powers of persuasion, and probably witchcraft, to entice him
back to her. Yet she knew all her tears and energy would be futile.
She’d sent him, like, ten messages already tonight and…and for
what? Aubrey could practically hear crickets.
She sighed and tried
not to go on a true crying jag, but in the mirror, she saw how her
candy-blue eyes twinkled funnily like a sucked lollipop—the sure
sign of one coming on. She felt a tear bead on the edge of her lashes
and blinked to free it. In a moment of lapsed judgment - something
that frequently happened these days - Aubrey threw her cell phone and
watched as it whisked across the room, crashing into the wall before
landing on the floor. “My phone! Why did I…” She held her head,
wanting to rip out hair. Life could be so unfortunate.
Digging into her school
bag, she grabbed paper to begin some homework. Writing the English
essay on “To Censor or To Not Censor Profanity,” took her from
her tortured mind, if only for a while. Things were so unfair. She
hugged herself again and began to rock back and forth as she sat on
the bed, causing it to groan. She felt the tears as they began to
drip down her flaming cheeks. Folding her trembling lips, she tasted
salt and the silver stud—the piercing she wore just under her
mouth. Just like the night, the metal was cold and tasteless.
All her life, it had
been quite like this; she had been wandering through this dark, icy
universe, separated from everyone else, alone…terrified…seeking
The same old torture
always came knocking at her door. Only now she was missing a new
person. It was not her mom, dad, or sister this time. Nathan
wasn’t messaging her back. Nathan Silva had been absent from her
life for three horrible months now. Her pain got worse each day
instead of better.
Rain poured down
incessantly, tapping her window. She lay on her bed, turning over and
over, staring at the ceiling, at the dark night through the
splattered window, crying, breathing hard, feeling as though she
would die. And quite honestly, the latter wouldn’t have bothered
her. What scared her was living.
Books and jumbled
clothes were scattered all around her on the bed and floor. She
brushed them off, all but her new favorite, the one she’d been
reading since yesterday—Something.
She held it to her chest like a stuffed toy.
A milky full moon
glowed outside the window as the sky went out like a candle in the
wet boondocks. For a few minutes, Aubrey hummed “Bring Me to Life.”
She stopped to say, “Someone… Something… Anything…
Come save me.” Her words were soft and delicate as she listened to
her broken heart beat gently.
And Aubrey didn’t
have the slightest idea that something had heard her. That
She wiped her face,
sighed dismally, and turned over onto her side, clutching the book to
her heart. Her teary eyes fluttered close, and she dropped her voice
to a faint whisper. “I will find true love, and everything will be
okay. I will find true love, and everything will be okay…” she
At last, she fell into
a deep, sound sleep, almost like death itself.
It must have been a
dream, because Aubrey was twelve again, though she had just turned
eighteen. Mommy’s voice bubbled like soda pop around strangers,
especially strange men, but it turned cold and stiff around Daddy.
Mommy hated him. And it seemed like he hated her just as much. They
fought constantly. Why were they still together? Things had turned
Mommy was pretty, with
her bone-chilling blue eyes and swan-like neck, but Mommy freaked out
a lot and poked Sister with sewing needles. Aubrey knew she shouldn’t
have, but slipped up and told this secret to a friend, and then
everything exploded. Big trouble. During the abuse investigation, the
police found drugs inside the house—lots of coke and marijuana—and
locked up both Mommy and Daddy.
Sister was mad. It was
all Aubrey’s fault the family was being ripped apart. Sister didn’t
care about being poked now. She was so upset, she just wanted to go
far away from it all. And she won. Even though the girls had
grandparents living nearby, the child protection program sent Sister
to a group home for troubled teens on the other side of town. As for
Aubrey, she got taken in by a “sweet old lady” named Ms. Harris.
Their grandparents got them only on the weekends. Eventually, Sister
stopped showing up.
Now Aubrey was eighteen
again and back in her room, in a place somewhere between sleep and
consciousness. She could feel herself on her bed, but as she stared
upward, it occurred to her that what she saw could not possibly be
Or could it?
Up there danced
wavering, glowing pinpricks of red in the darkness. They moved,
forging to depict two, elongated, curled horns that frightened Aubrey
instinctively. Almost at once, the dreadful sensation that she was
not alone in the room permeated her bones. But Aubrey could not move
her head to look around. She was stuck, and all she could do was lie
there helplessly, staring up at the ceiling, the eerie horns flashing
and growing, spiraling out above her.
Lightning flashed over
a street as rain beat the soil and splashed the rooftops. Thunder
roared and grumbled. It was balmy and wet. Off a rural road, up a
long, gravel walkway, a brick bungalow dripped with water.
Surrounding it were bushes and haunting trees, their leaves and
branches slick and alive, trembling in the heavy rain. On this night,
all the lights in the bungalow blazed, and someone howled merrily.
While Aubrey had been
settling in for bed just a twenty-minute walk away, Bella Broadhurst
was setting up to party. Hard.
Her room smelt like beer, rum, and tobacco. “It’s my fucking
birthday!” she gushed. Standing by her lavender princess bed, she
was naked as the day she was born. Cigarette in one hand, shot glass
in the other, she jerked her head back and let the tequila burn her
throat. She more than wanted to get a buzz. Alright,
why do I feel so anxious?
Her friends stared at
her. Attached to her slender body, double-Ds swayed, the large disks
on them like pink satin. “More!” she roared, trying to pretend
she wasn’t feeling anything but celebrative. Perhaps it was just
the weather, but a storm cloud simmered in her brain.
A friend, with a pin-up
girl figure, tilted the gigantic bottle of golden liquid and gave the
unclothed and shameless girl what she asked for. Bella poured that
serving down her throat, promptly demanding another.
Jessica watched the
scene of madness, chewing on her lip. As Bella’s housemate, the
brunette was a girl cut from an entirely different cloth. Dumpy,
fidgety, and easily the most unattractive, she often seemed out of
place in the group. She did
make a viable effort, though, to partake in the fun.
Always needing her
presence known, Bella’s older sister seemed ready to say something.
“Wait, slow down, girl.” Lainey looked like a pissed-off blond
Barbie doll with deep depressions under her eyes. A little on the
heavier side, she dazzled in a glitzy mini dress, one arm folded
around her, a Belmont cigarette in the opposite hand.
snapped. “It’s my party, and I’ll get as drunk as I want to!
Woooo! Right, Dawn? Let’s get white-girl wasted!” She gave the
giggling girl on her bed a high-five, then squinted and shook her
head as the last shot nearly knocked her off balance.
Extensions were clipped
into her jet-black hair, making it even longer. She always had them
installed. She was happy that Jessica and Lainey had already helped
her with her makeup—dark, dramatic eyes and brows, face powder that
matched her spray tan, and nude lipstick.
Now Bella just needed
to get her clothes on, then they could start taking selfies and group
“Where is my fucking
dress?” she shrieked, overexcited. Her voice came out bratty and
snobbish, though she, Jessica, and her sister, who all lived together
in the bungalow (also known as “The Party House”), had hardly
anything to be snobbish about. They lived off cheap beer, mostly
cheap food, and were broke by the time they got their hairs styled,
their nails done, and their downstairs
“Naked and tipsy,”
snorted the pin-up figure girl, slapping Bella’s butt with a pop.
“Thanks for the love
tap!” Bella chirped. She giggled and wiggled her waist. She didn’t
want anyone to know how she truly felt. Though acting silly, again
that bone-deep uneasy feeling crept over her. She hoped no one caught
the wary look that flashed on her face.
The thing was, Bella
couldn’t shake this gut intuition that something bad might occur
tonight. But it was her birthday, for Christ’s sake. She burped and
pressed her bare chest against Jessica, hugging her as stinky smoke
from her cigarette filled the air.
Dawn Dawson, Bella’s
best friend, laughed, toying with her ombre hair while she surveyed
the scene. As she laughed, Bella saw the piercing on her tongue. She
had one too, and both enjoyed showing them off by running their
tongues back and forth between their teeth in front of the boys.
Dawn’s bleached ends
dangled over her shoulders as she helped herself to a Lucky Buddha
beer from the little fridge resembling a can of Coca-Cola.
It wasn’t the only
source of booze in Bella’s bedroom. High up, a floating shelf with
long rows of various pretty liquor bottles lined the wall. Bella’s
boyfriend, Javi, had installed it for her.
Too excited to let a
little anxiety ruin her good time, Bella kissed Dawn on the lips.
Both eighteen, the girls went to the same high school. From grade
four, they had known about each other, but began talking in grade
six. They had fallen in love almost instantly—love at first snipe.
Stubbing out her
cigarette in the ashtray on the dresser, Bella went ahead to slather
on lotion. She’d done this naked act so often the shock of it was
gone by now, but her friends still glanced at her with vague looks of
envy and uneasiness.
“Jeez, those things
could feed a small village in Africa,” joked Jessica.
She and Bella’s
sister worked and lived together with Bella. When the three weren’t
partying, or attending classes, they were serving tables at
Bella shimmied into her
red G-string, her long acrylic nails not making her efforts easier.
Lainey sniggered. She
was older by ten years, but she and Bells were very much alike when
they weren’t fighting. Lainey even had the exact acrylic nails and
the exact shade of orangey spray tan.
Of course, Bella knew
her sister would say that
she started the trends. Only their hair color was different. Bella
caught Lainey proudly pinning her platinum-blond hair behind her
ears, before raking it through to the ends that grazed her buttocks.
After a moment, Lainey
held up Bella’s tiny, bejeweled birthday dress, helped her slip
into it, then zipped her up.
Jessica snapped a
picture of the sisters together. Despite the drastic difference in
hair color, they really looked like twins from the neck up. Only some
people found Lainey slightly prettier—something that Bella lost
They both had the
slanted river-green eyes, the aquiline nose, the lean, oval face.
Causing her no end of irritation, it was Bella’s tiny underbite
that made the world of difference. She could only satisfy herself by
dwelling on the fact that, body wise, she was the winner.
“So, are you
seriously gonna go forward with that thing?” asked Dawn, raising
her eyebrows. “Just wondering because you’re eighteen now.”
“What are you talking
about?” Lainey glowered at Dawn for an instant, then shot her
sister a furious glare.
“What?” Dawn asked
as if Lainey’s suddenly upset mood baffled her.
“I’m no fool,”
snapped Lainey. “I know you’re talking about the porn thing.”
“What porn thing?”
Dawn asked innocently, winking at Bella. “I didn’t say anything
twirled, examining herself in the cupcake dress before the
full-length mirror. She beamed brightly. “It’s my body, suck it
up and move on to something else, sis. Get over it.”
Lainey raised a sharp
eyebrow. “So what are you gonna tell Javi, huh? Because he’s
going to find out.” She took a long drag from her Belmont. “You’re
dumb, aren’t you. When Mom wasn’t around, I raised you like my
own child, to have dignity and self-respect, and now here you are,
about to be swallowing dick for coins.”
smirking cheekily. “Oh, dearest sister,” she mocked, “you and
my dearest boyfriend will just have to respect my choices. It’s my
life, wouldn’t you agree? No one is gonna tell me what to do, Javi
included. He does not control me.”
Determination laced her
voice now, “I’m going to be making real money for once in my
life, and I’m ready to get out of this boring town.”
“Javi won’t stand
for that, stupid. You’re crazy if you think he’s going to let it
fly. It’s disgusting, Bella.”
But Lainey kept
talking. “You’re gonna regret it. You are. And it’s just so
sad. Everyone one will know. I mean everyone.
Then you will wanna kill yourself.”
“I don’t care, and
I’m telling you to knock it off!”
Lainey frowned. “I
can’t believe we’re even talking about this. It just blows my
mind! Just the thought of strange men doing… Ugh, I can’t even
say it. The whole thing just makes me wanna throw up.”
Bella’s friends sat
there, wide-eyed, as the verbal match grew heated.
Bella was frustrated
with her sister. “You think you feel upset? Try having an annoying
sister who thinks she’s your mom, then come talk to me. So you know
what? Just stop. Like, please stop. You’re making me mad on my
birthday! I’m going to throw your ass out into the rain! Just shut
up, please! You always have to ruin everything!”
Like a child throwing a
tantrum, Bella kicked her dresser, toppling a bottle of hairspray.
Lainey smiled cloyingly
sweet at the girls, but her anger was evident by the wide set of her
eyes. “See? This is how she gets when she hears the truth. That’s
my baby sister.”
Bella gritted her teeth
as a groan of thunder distracted Lainey for a moment. When Lainey
took her eyes off the ceiling, Bella hissed, “Why don’t you just
“Oh, you are calling
me names now, and even one that is the definition of you. How
hilarious. And to answer your question—because I live here, idiot.”
Lainey’s eyes were now ice-cold. Taking everyone by surprise, she
slapped Bella across the face, so hard Bella’s head snapped to one
side. Not yet finished, Lainey grabbed her sister’s wrists and
squeezed, jerking her close. “Listen to me. You don’t run your
mouth like that to me ever again!” Her voice became a low growl, “I
raised you like my own goddamn child when Mom went out to do whatever
the hell she did, so you respect me. I’m warning you, birthday or
not, I will whoop your ass if you get to running your dirty mouth
like that with me again.”
Thunder grumbled as
Bella scowled, tears springing to her green eyes. She ripped away
from her sister’s steel grasp. “God, I hate you!”
Jessica gasped. “Oh
you two, stop! Come on!” She hugged a sobbing Bella. “Come on,
pretty. Shh…you’ll ruin your makeup, hon.” She and Dawn
gingerly dabbed the wetness on Bella’s face with napkins and
retouched her makeup.
Looking smug, Lainey
juggled a Lucky Buddha and a second cigarette.
When Bella’s mood
brightened, they all took pictures together, but in the photographs,
clear tension remained between the sisters.
Dawn took a bunch of
Bella alone, posing provocatively in her pink birthday dress. Bella
couldn’t wait to post them all over social media.
But a glance at her
fuzzy, Snooki-inspired, pink slippers sitting in the corner, made
Bella regrettably remember someone. She shook her head. “Have you
girls ever experienced looking at someone and just hating them
instantly? I don’t know what it is about her…” Bella rolled her
eyes, an expression of disgust contorting her face. “You know that
Aubrey girl?” she asked the group as if they all didn’t know
about that Aubrey girl.
“Well, she recently dyed her hair pink,” continued Bella. “Ha,
I think she feels it makes her look cool or something. But she just
looks like a wannabe. Did you guys see the gross acne that’s always
on her face?”
Dawn chortled, “She
needs some Proactiv.”
Bella nodded. “Right?
She needs to clear up that nasty skin before she worries about
looking like a mermaid. And, oh-my-God, you should see her when she’s
not at that Pentecostal boarding school. I wonder what her principal
would say. Aubrey’s a downright hypocrite. Always
smokes and dresses like a Satanist. And don’t let me get started on
when she tries to dress all ‘sexy.’ Dawn, you an’ me, we make
exposed skin look sexy, but Aubrey just looks like a whore.”
Throwing her head back, Bella guffawed.
“She does,” giggled
Dawn. “Yeah, I saw her the other day by the downtown Coffee
Culture, and she walks—oh-my-God—she walks like this when she’s
showing her legs.”
“Do the walk, Dawn!”
Bella jumped on her bed, laughing as Dawn pushed out her chest,
walking stiffly back and forth across the room like she had a stick
shoved up her butt. She stopped mimicking Aubrey only to laugh
uncontrollably while trying to catch her breath. “L-like no, girl,
you are not sexy. You’re t-trying too h-hard.” She fell onto the
A second later, a sound
caused the girls to hush…
Someone crying and
screaming from another room.
The screamer moaned at
length. Bella panicked, wondering if this was the intuition she had.
But then sighed, remembering her pal, Cait Martinez, a girl from work
who was sleeping over for the party. Suffering from menstrual cramps,
she had been unable to participate in the fun thus far. They had
given her a rubber bottle of hot water to place against her stomach
and an abundance of extra-strength ibuprofens, but obviously, nothing
seemed to be helping. Everyone listened in silence to the wailing for
a moment before getting back to where they left off.
“She looks like a
complete whore,” Bella repeated. “We’re
sexy. She’s just…ugh. I heard she even gave an old man
a blowjob in a park when she was fifteen for fifteen bucks. Hahaha.
Rumor has it she needed to buy more razorblades.”
Lainey rolled her eyes.
“Well, we don’t know if that’s true. And it’s not like you’ll
be doing much different.” Cigarette smoke blurred her annoyed
Jumping from the bed to
the spot in front of her sister, Bella knitted her dark eyebrows. She
shoved Lainey in the chest. “Hello! Are you my sister or Aubrey’s?
I ain’t making stuff up. It’s the word on the street!”
Lainey sighed, clearly
trying not to let the shove boil her blood. “Just leave the poor
girl alone. You already beat her up twice back in grade six. She’s
still terrified of you, and just got dumped by that Silva boy. Let
her rest in peace.”
Bella nodded, eyes
bulging wildly. “Oh, I’ll let the twat rest in peace, all right.”
A dark suggestion dripped from her words. She and Dawn high-fived,
chortling like two hyenas.
Lainey shook her head,
stifling a dubious smile.
Jessica, avoiding the
drama, cuddled one of the fluffy, white puppies she had snatched from
the indoor, laundry room pen.
At the sound of
footsteps, Dawn gasped, “It sounds like Javi is here!”
Bella flushed a little.
Her boyfriend entered the room with a flourish, a toast-colored,
bulky young man with black, spiky hair. He dished out high-fives and
one-armed hugs, then grabbed Bella’s face, kissing her so hard her
A friend of his trailed
behind, holding a giant box of pizza splattered with rainwater.
Instantly, the sweet aromas of pineapple, melted cheese, and baked
dough filled the room.
Everyone had a slice or
two and a Lucky Buddha, then Javi got personal. “Out, all of you—I
need to have sex with my girlfriend.”
Jessica as she and the others rushed through the door, shutting it
As soon as they were
alone, Bella allowed Javi to undress her. She tried not to worry as
he caressed and kissed her body all over. She fell back onto the bed,
her dark hair spilling over the pillows. Her stomach swelled with an
inhalation as she watched him slide his shirt over his head,
revealing a hair-sprinkled stomach—not completely flat but hard
He unbuckled his belt
impatiently. Bella stiffened as he exposed his most intimate part,
but relaxed again once she began to stroke it, enjoying the warmth
penetrating her skin. He rubbed it against her leg, her thighs, then
eased it into her.
To Bella, it was almost
complete and utter bliss. Almost.
Javi filled her up in
one way, but couldn’t fill the bleakness, the void she felt deep
inside. She often asked herself: was she ever truly happy?
Even as a small child,
Bella had always felt something missing, something dying inside of
her. Was it her neglectful parents and perverted uncle? Or did she
always just know, deep inside, that life was not what it seemed? That
parents were liars, people were twisted and fake as plastic toys, and
that death was imminent, always lurking around the bend, everyone
drifting toward it on a slow boat moving downstream, some falling
overboard now and then, gone too early.
Then there was that
rage she carried with her. She’d seen it in Lainey too, just like
today. It had always nestled inside her. Even before the rape, she’d
felt that rage like a ball of coal resting in her stomach. Even at
six, with all her dolls and teddy bears, the darkness had surged
“Oh, my sexy baby
girl… Baby…” Javi’s moans woke Bella from the glum daydream.
Still filling her, he moved wildly over her body as if he knew she
was somewhere else.
Bella draped her arms
around his sweaty neck apologetically. Down
there, he was warm and hard. She moaned, sucked on his
bottom lip, and slipped away into a new daydream, a sweet one this
time, of just the two of them. She released a long, husky, euphoric
sigh, a sound that spread over them like a blanket made of soft silk.
Shortly, they joined
the group in the kitchen and attached living room. Newcomers crowded
the place while pop music filled the air. With joints rolled and lit,
plumes of smoke left mouths that chattered excitedly, that swallowed
beer and pizza, that kissed one another with hunger.
The landlord’s son,
Jeremiah, had shown up, tall and lanky with brown hair in his face.
He and Jessica made out on the couch by the fireplace.
could doughy Jessica land a guy like that? thought Bella,
enviously. The landlord’s son could be a bit air-headed, but Bella
always found him attractive. At nineteen, he was closer to her age
than Jessica who was five years his senior.
Bella migrated the
party feeling unusually uneasy. Sulking, she stared at Jessica and
her handsome boyfriend. She knew her feelings were wrong. But it was
part of her territorial personality that she couldn’t help. With
irritation, she stared at Javi as he left her side to go drink beer
with the boys.
That’s when Bella
spotted the blue-haired girl.
The strange young lady
had pigtails, black lips, and piercings ornamenting the corners of
her mouth. Wearing a tutu, she reminded Bella too much of Aubrey. She
even had self-inflicted wounds wrapped around her wrists and arms
like morbid bracelets—a vice Bella knew Aubrey also indulged in.
Bella had seen Aubrey
recently with five
fresh slashes. She reckoned it was related to the Silva boy leaving
her. Idiots. Fucking emo idiots,
whispered to Dawn, “do all emo whores have to dye their hair the
color of cotton candy and shred their arms to bits? It’s fucking
disgusting. Who invited her anyway? I don’t recall ever seeing her
“Um, I think she’s
one of Jeremiah’s friends,” Dawn replied
“Oh, yeah,” Bella
said. “That’s right. What’s her name again? Avril?”
As if she had heard
them whispering about her, the blue-haired girl made her way over to
Bella and Dawn. She moved cheerily in her tutu and striped stockings,
her face bright, and held out a very pale hand to Bella first. “It’s
April. Nice to meet you, Bella. Happy birthday.”
Bella couldn’t help
but smile as she said, “Nice to meet you, too. Thank you.”
April was weird but
endearing somehow, Bella decided. She made a statement. And unlike
Aubrey, her show of flamboyant colors and oddness felt natural, not
forced and pretentious to get attention.
Bella found herself
even admiring the bubblegum-blue hair. She touched it, working her
notorious Bella Broadhurst charm. “Nice hair. You’re so fucking
adorable.” The girl did
have an upturned nose and a pudgy face that reminded Bella of a
baby—things that were again similar to Aubrey. This annoyed Bella,
but her compliments were genuine. Sort of.
April giggled, shaking
hands with Dawn now.
The menstrual cramps
girl, Caitlyn Martinez, emerged from someplace, looking quite
miserable, with a quilt wrapped around her. A brunette with large doe
eyes, she was a Hispanic beauty whom Bella knew from work.
“Someone get me a
beer,” groaned Caitlyn. One of the boys moved quickly to her aid,
handing her a Molson Canadian.
Their hands brushed with a spark, and they smiled at each
other. Bella watched them commence to chatting and felt happy for her
The boy wasn’t her
She smiled again at
April, but now uneasily. The girl couldn’t stop making eye contact
with her—long, steady eye contact that she refused to break off
politely. April didn’t even bother to pretend she wasn’t staring.
then… Creepy but interesting, Bella mused. Perhaps April
was a raving lesbian? Bella wouldn’t be surprised. After all, she
was Bella Broadhurst.
As she continued to go
along with the staring contest, she noticed the vague mystery and
fire burning behind the girl’s freaky green eyes. Suddenly Bella
found herself gazing deeply into them, half horrified, half
determined to uncover the truth buried inside.
The night had just
A loud bang over their
heads made Bella jump. “Oh-my-God, what was that?”
Startled, Jessica broke
away from Jeremiah’s lips.
“Lightning must have
brought down a tree or something,” said one of the guys.
Another dude peered out
the front window into the night.
Soaking wet, Rhonda,
the landlord, came through the side door. She confirmed the tree
theory. With a cake box in her hands, she waddled through the crowd
like a penguin toward the kitchen.
Bella observed the
embarrassed expression on Jeremiah’s face. She chuckled—the round
woman always wanted to be around young people, especially when they
were partying and intoxicated. Rhonda placed the box on the counter
and opened it to reveal a giant, green cake. Grinning along with the
cheerful expressions around her, she got herself a beer.
“Bella, you like it?”
she asked. “I made sure they put the pieces on that you wanted.”
Bella clapped her
hands, delighted. “I love it! I love it!” An elaborate, scarlet
scrawl of Happy Birthday Bitch
surrounded two fondant boobs and a fondant ass. The edible butt even
sported the exact butterfly tattoo Bella had on her derrière.
“I hope I got it
right,” Rhonda added.
The landlord’s cake
clearly amused everyone and comments went around. But this was a
typical birthday token for the one and only Bella Broadhurst, the
crazy girl with the potty-mouth and the biggest boobs in Caledon.
Still goggling at her
cake, Bella gushed, “It’s beautiful! Oh-my-God! It’s perfect!”
She gave Rhonda a
squeeze, then posed for a picture with her, both holding up their
beer bottles to the camera. They took another, sitting around the
cake. Then a few friends joined them. A quick review on Bella’s
phone showed the Landlord grinning broadly in the pictures, though
her large, squashy face sagged with age. Her bulbous nose seemed to
be the center of the photos, shiny and red like Rudolph’s.
Lainey helped Jessica
stick eighteen tiny candles into the cake and light them with
matches. Making a silent wish for luck in her porn career, Bella blew
them out, which got everyone clapping and cheering. They each snagged
a massive chunk of cake and a plastic fork.
A fat gray cat ran by
Ms. Rhonda’s feet. The landlord picked it up, before retreating to
a room to let the youngsters be.
relieved and the night progressed in a collage of pictures, drinking
games, photo mishaps, and dancing. Bella still felt strange and raged
when she saw piss and shit left in the powder room toilet. She
screamed and made an embarrassed brunette flush it in front of her.
It was now two in the
morning, and many of the partiers had fallen into a drunken stupor.
Even Bella felt herself sliding downhill.
She didn’t even
notice they were telling stories in the living room until she raised
her head, wiping drool from her chin. Bella realized she was sitting
on the loveseat beside Javi, his arm around her. She could tell he
was stupid drunk. Roughly a dozen people sat around the coffee table
with them. Her bestie, Dawn Dawson, was there, as well as “doughy
Jessica”, but her sister was missing.
The blue-haired girl
included herself, sitting cross-legged on the floor with others to
complete the circle. Taking charge, she said, “Okay, thank you for
that story,” to a girl who had just finished blabbing. Bella
noticed that rain and wind swooshed loudly outside and rattled the
windows. “You wanna go next?” April asked someone else.
While another story
unraveled, Bella tuned out the speaking person’s voice and stared
jealously at Jessica sitting on Jeremiah’s lap. He
looks so dreamy tonight. Was it his skater-boy hair and
his blue eyes, or was it because she was drunk and Javi suddenly
annoyed her—everything about him, down to his breathing and rubbing
her arm? She even felt like skinning him alive if he ever touched her
again. When he did, she pursed her lips and made a fist so she
wouldn’t attempt to do just that.
Feeling the liquor in
her blood, she continued to eyeball her friend’s boyfriend. Her
stomach flipped when the boy glanced her way, his blue gaze
Bella smiled sloppily
at him, feeling heat spread across her face. She bit her lip as urge
and desire washed over her. No one seemed privy to what was
transpiring in the living room between them, especially the
girlfriend on his lap. It wasn’t just in her head, was it? Her and
Even his name rolled off deliciously from the tip of the tongue.
She’d always had eyes for him, and she felt like he had always
noticed her too.
Then Bella turned back
to April sitting on the shag carpet directly across from her. Only
the stained coffee table separated them. Something told her the girl
had been staring at her all along, and the knowing smile that curved
April’s lips made Bella paranoid.
After a while, April
cleared her throat, before making a serious expression. “Well, I
guess I’ll tell a story now. But first, I just wanna say thank you
to Bella for having me here. It has been a memorable party. Anyway,
um, this story… It happened for real… and it really creeped me
out. I’m still trying to get over it. And… Well… Ah…” April
swallowed. “Roughly about three weeks ago, I started having these
vivid dreams… I - I could see these different creatures, and I
swear I could even… I could feel
them touching me. Crazy, right?
“If anyone knows
about or heard of sleep paralysis, well I thought that was what it
was. If you are confused, it’s like when you are basically
half-awake and half-asleep. You feel paralyzed because your body is
still sleeping. You see, you’re conscious, but you’re also
dreaming. You can see the room around you, but you can also see stuff
that might just be figments of your imagination. So, I mean, when I
saw these creatures, I was scared, but I didn’t really think it was
anything serious, I just thought it was sleep paralysis.
“That was until I
started discovering things in my apartment. Sticks. Yeah. Sticks.”
April giggled uneasily.
“I thought I was going crazy. I mean, who was putting
them in the house? Because they were everywhere. Under my pillow. In
the sink. By the toilet. In the fridge. Underneath the couch
cushions. I called my ex and threatened to call the cops if he didn’t
stop. But that didn’t stop the sticks from reappearing.
“Then, late in the
night, I started hearing sounds, like a woman crying. I’d turn on
the lights, and it would stop. But sure enough, when I’d try to go
back to sleep, I’d hear the moans again. And get this—in
the morning, I’d get up and things would be missing. I really
needed to find out what was going on. Scared as hell, I decided to
put up cameras and…” April’s lips trembled, and tears pooled in
“Oh, April!” cried
a brunette, getting up to hug her.
April began to
splutter. “There was s-something walking around my p-place while I
slept. Glowing w-white eyes! B-branchy, dark l-limbs. I contacted a
woman who c-claimed she could remove evil p-presences. She w-warned
me that, that w-was just the Tree Lady, and t-that there w-would be
m-more entities. She d-did a full emergency h-house smudging and some
other w-weird shit. It’s all s-stopped now, the n-night visions,
the creepy s-sounds, the sticks…” April sobbed heavily. “B-but
it was so terrible, sometimes I th-think those creatures are just
w-waiting for another chance to get me. You know, the s-strangest
part was that the woman said it h-happened because of this b-book
that I w-was reading. She m-mentioned the word demonolib.
I h-have no idea w-what that means. But…” April wiped her nose,
hiccupping. “She h-had me sell the b-book to a used bookstore. God,
I’ll n-never forget what h-happened.” She sniffled. “It was all
coughed Bella. “Okay, sorry. That was a cool story, I
guess.” She and Dawn shared a laugh while April went red in the
They ended the
storytelling after that. A few picked up the drinking again,
including the blue-haired girl. In fact, April seemed to be on a
reckless mission. She downed five shots worth of brown liquor and
loads of beer. Watching closely, Bella wondered if maybe the girl
hadn’t been making up the bizarre story after all.
At 4:30 a.m., those who
weren’t sleeping over hit the road, and those who were dropped on a
sleeping bag, on an air mattress, or on a couch. A few hardcore
partiers continued drinking until they passed out and ended up on the
floor or halfway off a couch.
April was one of the
latter. She had her head and back propped up against one of the red,
velvetly sofas in the den, the rest of her body sprawled on the
floor. Her blouse had hitched up, exposing her teardrop navel and
soft pale stomach. Dawn and Bella snickered quietly as they drew
LOSER on her forehead and SLUT on her tummy with tubes of red
lipstick. April twitched, groaned, and collapsed onto her face, which
got them shaking harder with repressed laughter.
“Okay, I’m sleepy,”
Dawn admitted. “I’m off to the basement now. Cya Bells.”
Bella snorted, “Okay,
‘night-night, and I think Caitlyn is getting lucky—apparently her
guy doesn’t mind menstrual blood.” Finally, Bella kissed Dawn
goodnight on the cheek and watched her best friend disappear into the
Feeling thirsty, Bella
stepped over a body on the floor to get to the refrigerator. She
poured herself some cold water and added ice. While she drank, she
heard footsteps. She placed the cup down in wonder, before rifling
through the cupboards in search of a bedtime snack. Finding some
raisin bread, she closed the cupboard and turned to see a lanky,
long-haired boy stumbling into the kitchen. With puke on his shirt,
Jeremiah met her gaze as she bit into a piece of the bread.
Bella chewed hurriedly
and swallowed. She stuck her tongue out in disgust, wondering why she
was still eating. Tossing the bread aside, she winked at Jeremiah.
“Come here,” she whispered. The boy drifted toward her. Like a
child in a candy store, she eyed him lustily, feeling a tingly
sensation as she anticipated blurring the line between thought and
reality. She rubbed her body against his, staring up into his drunken
smoothed his hair away from his face and inched up on her tippy-toes
to press her lips against his. And she and the landlord’s son
kissed con spirito.
It was supercharged and felt like a shot of something straight to the
veins. Every quick, longing, secret glance, every short gesture of
salutation stifled by Jessica’s presence—they had all led up to
tasted sour, but Bella didn’t mind. She just focused on his long,
pale arms folding around her, his hands sliding over her butt and the
small of her back. Teeth
clinked in a sudden, forceful, mouth-to-mouth moment that took Bella
by surprise and caused them both to sway sideways into the counter.
Jeremiah pulled her
dress up over her hips with one hand and dug his fingers between her
thighs with the other. She chuckled as she felt him find his way
around her scarlet G-string.
Locked in a kiss, Bella
glanced around guiltily at the passed-out people who couldn’t
possibly tell on them. She pulled the boy to a room nonetheless.
Inside was only her
sister and some bearded dude, passed out on the bed, clearly naked
under the sheets. Bella went to the extra bed in the corner and
pulled Jeremiah on top of her, purring. They stripped, and she loved
the burn of his skin against hers. She loved the sinful feeling of
him inside her. Moaning quietly, she felt triumphant at last, free,
young, sexy and powerful. She was Bella Broadhurst, and she would
always get her way. The future looked wonderful.
Finally realizing her
dirty fantasy with Jeremiah, she drew a sultry, satisfied breath,
flaring her nose.
Oh, Javi? He was
probably sleeping in her room, waiting for her in a deep,
beer-induced sleep. She’d let him be. At the moment, she was
fucking Jessica’s boyfriend.
Soft, white sunlight
crept through the curtains. Bella thought she’d go blind as she
peeled her sleepy green eyes open. “Shit… Shit, fuck, shit.”
The house was silent. Where was Jessica? Bella slid out from under
Jeremiah’s arm, sweaty where their skin had touched all night, and
stretched her hands to grab her undies by his big feet. She slid on
the G-string, then rummaged through Lainey’s drawers for one of
those loose, long shirts, her black hair a mess.
Yanking the holey shirt
over her head, she felt her heart race while her brain swirled in her
skull. She grabbed her pink birthday dress off Jeremiah and hid it
under the bed.
“Wake up!” she
whispered, jerking him. “Go find Jessica! Wake up, Jeremiah!” Her
palms were sweating. He didn’t budge so she pinched and twisted his
The boy yelped. He
sighed, rubbing his sore flesh and stood up shakily. Stark naked,
eyes half closed, he untangled his clothes and pulled them on slowly.
Bella patted his back.
“Okay, go find her and look as if you were always there.”
Jeremiah turned back to her one last time to squeeze her butt,
pecking her on the neck. He grunted as she pushed him off and
stumbled out the doorway.
Bella took a deep
Everything should be okay now.
But she had no idea why she was still sweating. She wiped her clammy
hands on the loose shirt and strolled to the kitchen for some water
and aspirin for her head. It wasn’t a full-blown hangover, but
whatever it was, she needed to tame it.
It was mostly anxiety.
After gulping the water and the pill, she tiptoed around a male who
was curled up on the floor and snoring loudly.
Then she recalled what
she and Dawn had done to April. Bella tensed up, shocked at her own
cruelty now that she wasn’t completely inebriated. In a flash, she
was in the washroom grabbing a napkin. She wet it under the tap, then
rushed out to the den where she tiptoed around the girl.
April still rested on
her face. That was odd. Bella knitted her brows, observing the
awkwardly sprawled out girl. Something seemed off.
Bella put down the wet
napkin and got to her knees, trying to roll the girl onto her back.
When she succeeded, she found puke all over April’s face and some
still in her mouth. Some even clogged her nose. Even more disturbing,
April’s stomach didn’t seem to rise and fall, and her skin had a
blue tinge to it.
Nausea flared inside of
Bella, and she held her throat. She grabbed the napkin from the
floor. April didn’t move, didn’t make a single sound. April, with
the blue pigtails and the “snake bites” and the LOSER on her
forehead and the SLUT on her exposed tummy.
Tears blurring her
vision, Bella began to wipe away the insulting words. Her hands shook
while the scarlet letters smudged together and gradually faded. It
felt like forever, and when she was finally done, some traces of it
remained on April’s deathly pale skin.
To see better, Bella
smoothed back some of her unruly black hair from her face, then
scrubbed April’s skin harder, sobbing. “Help me!” she blurted.
“Oh-my-God, help me! Help me! Help me! I think she drank too much!”
A guy friend came
rushing into the den. He surveyed the scene, panting, then left to
rouse others. Immediately someone was on the phone to 9-1-1, but by
time the paramedics arrived, it had already been too late for April.
In the front yard,
Bella stood wrapped in Javi’s arms as an ambulance van pulled away
from the driveway with April’s body.
Bella shook her head.
What a pity. What a shame. It was just another person gone too soon.
Now she would never know all the secrets behind those freaky green
eyes. Not now. Not ever.
Saturday morning, a
light drizzle misted up the windows, but for the most part, the storm
had passed. The L-shaped motel ran thirty-six bedrooms long with a
blue roof and a cream, stucco exterior. The Silvas lived over the
attached diner where guests or people passing through could eat
breakfast and lunch. A crisp little building with a red, neon OFFICE
sign on the door sat directly beside the diner.
attracted all kinds of people. The young, the long-suffering, free
spirits looking for a cheap overnight shagging room, and the
occasional runaway wife, or old drunk. A lost soul slipped in now and
In the evenings, it
frequently got rowdy with people hanging about in small clusters,
drinking from beer bottles until ten o’clock when nineteen-year-old
Nathan, his dad, or his brother, would go out and shut the party
down. Sometimes the police had to get involved, though not in recent
Nathan’s alarm app
went off: “I feel like poo,
but I gotta do what I gotta do. I feel like poo, but I gotta do what
I gotta do,” a voice sang loudly from his phone for
about the thirtieth time. He’d been sleeping through it. Very
tired, he stirred in his bed, sighing and flexing his toes and
fingers. Groaning, he sat up.
fellow, Nathan had brown hair, matching eyes, and skin like a milky
cup of latte. He had a fringe cut into his dark hair, which waved
over his ears in a male pixie cut. He rubbed his eyes.
“Good morning, little
girl,” he sighed in Portuguese to the guinea pig on his desk.
Locked in her pink cage, Angie stared at him with black, beady eyes.
He climbed out of bed,
stretching to his full height of six-foot-two, and padded to the
bathroom where he brushed his teeth and showered swiftly.
Enveloped in a burgundy
robe, he made a smoothie in his kitchenette, using a banana, some
yogurt, and frozen berries. A devout Catholic, like his father, he
said his morning prayer before he began to drink.
He could hear his
sister, Elizabeth, who was twenty-six, shuffling around in the room
my head,” she groaned. She had been drinking. It sounded like she
had her kettle going while she ran a bath.
Nathan sighed, eyeing
the clock. It had been a long night, so it was no surprise that he
and his sister had both slept in until ten. At the motel, they
usually woke at six.
Still nursing his
smoothie, he raised his dark eyebrows when he snatched his cell phone
from the dresser. About two dozen messages waited for him—several
from friends, the rest from that irritating Aubrey. His ex.
Nathan frowned. He didn’t want to even look at them. Plain and
simple, he had broken up with her because she was annoying and
suicidal. At first, he had felt bad, but now it didn’t matter. He
rolled his eyes at the thought of her eighteen, new text messages.
She texted him so often, he couldn’t imagine what she still had
left to say.
It felt intrusive—all
these nonstop messages. Couldn’t she just accept the fact that he
no longer wanted to communicate? Why couldn’t she just go away? He
sighed as he began to read his received texts, starting with the ones
from his actual
“Hey, some girl
died over at Bella’s. I think it was alcohol poisoning. People
drink waaaay too much.”
“OMG! Did you hear
what went down at Bella’s last night?? FUCK. Bitch drowned in her
own vomit or something. Call me ASAP!”
“Hey, call me as
soon as you can m8”
“Hey, love. Just
wanted to say good morning!
The first four messages
baffled him to different degrees, but that last one warmed his heart.
Adelaide Pierri… Or just simply Addy…
That girl was something special. He smiled, forgetting
about everything else for a moment. All he could see was her
beautiful face, her chocolaty hair, her hazel eyes and soft, curling
lips. He imagined her warm, shapely body, toned with a lot of hip and
ass. He imagined her loving, calm nature—could almost feel it,
embracing him tenderly. They didn’t just have sex. They made
love. She was magical.
He could picture her
undressed by his bed and had to stop before he started touching
himself. God, he felt so lucky. They had yet to break the news to
Aubrey, who considered Addy her “BFF.” She was going to hate them
both for sure. “But that’s okay,” sighed Nathan.
Taking a deep breath,
he decided he could handle glancing at the new Aubrey messages. Ten
to twenty times a day he got them. Nathan shook his head. It was out
of control, sad, and pathetic, considering she was basically talking
to herself. He hadn’t responded to her foolishness in months and
wasn’t planning to.
“Here I go, giving
into curiosity again,” he mumbled. She was annoying as anything,
but he just never knew what Aubrey was going to say. The messages had
all arrived over the course of yesterday.
“Wow,” said Nathan,
scanning them. With a little revulsion, he began to accurately read
each one. Aubrey was more soft-spoken in person, but text brought out
her wild side.
Cray: I could so die right now… Thinking about u all day. I don’t
know why I can’t let go of you. I’m such a fool… I’m so
stupid… No wonder you’re gone. I hate everything, and I want to
die. Nathan. NATHAN, PLEASE! I can’t do this. :*(
Cray: I love u, and I’m sorry for all my messages, but I can’t
stop caring about you. Nathan, please. Just give me one more chance.
I want u in my life so bad. Please don’t let me suffer like this.
:*( Oh God, Nathan, pleeeease.
Cray: Been crying all day. I can’t believe that you’re really
gone. You have no idea how hard this is for me. I can’t breathe
right now. I can’t focus on my work. Nothing is right now.
Cray: If u come back, Nathan I swear I will be a better person. I’ve
learned so much from u. I am growing up. I promise u that I won’t
act up again. I was just so confused and scared of losing you. I
wasn’t myself a lot of times.
Cray: Nothing will ever be the same as long as you’re gone. This is
the hardest thing I’ve ever had to go through. Not even being torn
away from my family felt this bad. I don’t know why, Nathan. You
were just the safest place I’ve ever been. You were my home. Now
I’m homeless. Now I don’t know… I want to die.
Cray: Nathan, pleeeeeeeasseee :*(
Cray: I love u oh my God. What about that don’t u understand?! Why
are you doing this to me?! You just threw me away like garbage! You
don’t care about me! I bet I’m probably in your block zone right
now. Like, u don’t give a fuck.
Cray: Nathan, I need you. Nathan, I love you. Nathan, I want you.
Nathan, I will die without you.
Cray: Come on Nathan I’m not thaaat bad. You’re acting like we’ve
never even spoken. This is so unfair! I was always there for u. I
treated u right. My only crime was loving you too much. You’re so
mean to me.
don’t get it. I don’t get it, and I will never get it. My heart
is broken into a million pieces. You hurt more than ten thousand
paintballs straight to the collarbone.
Cray: Just call me again like you used to. Just tell me everything is
gonna be okay.
Cray: I’m a striped kitty. You know what that means, don’t you?
;) Haha I bet you don’t even fucking care. Oh well… Drip, drip my
dear blood. Drip drip. Nathan doesn’t care anyway.
Cray: Okay so that message was messed up. I’m so sorry! I just only
slit one wrist, and it was shallow. I promise. Please don’t be mad.
Or scared. Or worried. I know you care. You just don’t wanna…nvm…
You just don’t want to deal with this mess right? This mess… this
thing that I am…
Cray: I’m so alone, Nathan. I’m so alone
Cray: Save me! Please save me!