Lloyd Randolph stared at his youngest daughter, his mouth worked but no sound came out. His fifteen year old daughter stood before him, sporting a brand new tattoo.
"Hula, you're fifteen! Where the Hell did you go to get a tattoo?" Purposely avoiding the question, Hula crossed her arms and stamped her foot.
"She did it too!" Lloyd sighed and rubbed his eyes. The unnamed 'she' was Hula's older sister, Delia which meant she must have a tattoo somewhere as well. After grounding Hula for a year and sending her to her room, Lloyd went in search of Delia.
The two girls were only a few years apart in age but while Hula idolized her older sister, Delia only saw the younger girl as an annoyance. When they had shared a room, Delia had broken her arm jumped from the bunk beds. Despite the screaming and obvious pain, Hula had followed suit and broken her collar bone. Henna tattoos had been copied which, from the looks of things, had given way to real tattoos.
Lloyd sighed and decided to wait until later to deal with Delia. He wanted to talk to his wife and find out what her opinion was.
"A tattoo? She's fifteen!" Adelpha's voice was full of incredulity but Lloyd could hear an undercurrent of something else. Barely suppressed laughter.
"I have no idea where she got it but since she gave the usual excuse I'm gonna assume that Delia has one too." Adelpha sighed, the laughter gone in an instant.
"What is wrong with that girl?"
"When are you coming home?"
"It won't be much longer, Lloyd. One more seminar tomorrow and that's my lot. I'll call when I'm leaving. Love you loads." Lloyd returned the sentiment before hanging up and rubbing his eyes again. After a moment he heard footsteps above him. From the sounds of it, Hula was going to Delia's room which meant a lot of shouting would follow. But to Lloyd's surprise, it remained silent and the footsteps merely returned the way they had come. He raised an eyebrow but remained silently grateful for the quiet.
A few hours later, Lloyd went to the bottom of the stairs and called his daughters for dinner. Neither came out of their rooms so he mounted the stairs and looked from left to right. Deciding that Delia would be the easier target as he had yet to speak to her about the tattoo, he turned left and walked along the landing. He stopped outside the door painted black and knocked. Still no answer. Sighing, Lloyd pushed open the door and stepped into the room. It wasn't dark inside, just gloomy. The curtains were closed and the walls were black too but there were blotches of something dark on the carpet. Lloyd reached out for the light switch, but when the light came on it bathed the room in a blood red glow.
"Delia?" She was lying on the bed, her eyes were closed and her arms were thrown out to the sides. As Lloyd drew closer, his blood seemed to freeze and his heart missed several beats. The bed was covered in the same dark substance as the blotches on the floor. Delia's wrists revealed long and slightly ragged cuts but blood had stopped flowing from them some time ago. Time suddenly returned to its normal speed and Lloyd dashed across the room. He scooped Delia up into his arms and carried her downstairs; he laid her on the floor and started CPR.
"Hula! Get down here! Call an ambulance! Hula!" Once again, there was no answer. Lloyd opened his mouth to shout again but the words stuck in his throat as a vague memory returned. The sound of footsteps passing overhead, going into Delia's room and then returning in silence. That excuse, so often used. But she did it.
"Hula" whispered Lloyd. He dashed back up the stairs and this time turned right, without knocked Lloyd rushed into Hula's room. She lay on her bed, her arms at her side. Blood still dripped from the slashes on her wrists. Lloyd collapsed in the doorway and pulled out his mobile phone, he called an ambulance.
They were too late.