Chapter Ten: Unexplained

"Why would you come here?" Nick demands again. I open my mouth to say something, but nothing comes out. Claire walks over and stands next to me, and I feel her arm under my own. She leads me across the room.

"You have to understand the situation," Scott begins.

"Then explain it," Nick cuts in, holding the pictures out. Scott takes them both and looks at them for a moment. "Why are you here?"

"Those were the best days of my life, you know," he says softly, lowering his arm to his side. "I'll never forget the day I"- He goes silent all of a sudden. "Anyway, I came back to save Phoebe."

"Save me?" I ask from the sofa, where I'm sitting now. I don't remember getting over here. "You should have been saving me five years ago, when Emily almost killed me."

"That's why I came," Scott says. "After that happened, I was sent here under special circumstances to protect you."

"Are you the one who got me out of that place?" I ask. I know it wasn't Dr. Damson, and Mary doesn't have enough authority. If he's so caught up on my safety, I'd have been the safest there, where they have maximum security.

"Yes," Scott says, nodding. "I acted as a government official, approved the scenario, and got your doctor's boss to release you."

"Who's above Dr. Damson?" I ask. I always knew he wasn't the highest up, but I never found out who got to tell him what to do.

"Mary Prizeman. She stations herself as a nurse to keep things on the down low."

My mouth drops. That explained everything! How Mary was able to get stuff for my room, and setting up that totally random date for Nick and me a few months ago. Of course, she'd be the one who'd say I was okay to go home.

. . . . . .

"Name, please?"

I look at the lady behind the desk incredulously. Surely, she remembers who I am? I only spent the last three years of my life in this place. I look around, but nobody stops or even looks in my direction.

"Phoebe Masterson," I say, and she taps her keyboard. Her eyes pop for a second then, and she looks back up at me with a new expression.

"Phoebe," she says, and I smile. "What can I do for you?"

"Well, Linda," I say, noticing her nametag. "I've got a problem."

"What's wrong, sweetie?" She asks in that voice everyone has when they're talking to a small child. She reaches out as if to take my hand, but then she doesn't. My hand brushes the lump under my shirt, but she doesn't notice it.

"Linda," says someone from behind, and I hear their footsteps echoing on the floor. She walks up to the desk, steps through the break in the middle, and sets down a stack of file folders. "These all need to be put in the system."

"I'll get right on them," Linda says. The woman starts to walk away, but Linda reaches after her. "Wait, Mary."

Mary stops. "Yeah?"

"Take her with you. I think she needs to talk to someone."

Mary looks me up and down, and then extends an arm. "What do you need, sweetie?" What's with these people and pet names? Do they call any of us by our real names?

"I need," I start, and absentmindedly, I begin to remove the lump. Mary's eyes pop open when the object comes into view. The light catches on the handle, and the blade of the knife turns blindingly bright for a moment. "I need help."

"Put that down," Mary says calmly, reaching out a hand to take it. She must think I don't notice, because she lets her hand get awfully close to the blade, giving me a perfect opportunity to slice the flesh of her palm wide open. Mary jerks her hand back with a cry of pain, cradling it in her good hand. Blood seeps through her fingers, and Linda jumps up with gauze pads to put pressure on the wound. While Mary holds the pads to her palm, Linda scrambles for the phone and presses a button.

"Security to the main lobby," Linda shouts into the phone, and her voice echoes all around me, over speakers. "Security to the main"- Her voice is cut off when the knife slashes her throat. I look around and realize I'm not standing right behind her. It's my hand still holding the knife that just killed her. She slides to the floor in a puddle of blood, still spurting from her neck.

I can hear a commotion down the hall. It must be the security she was paging. I swing an arm back and catch Mary in the jaw when she tries to get a hold on me. She falls backward and slides into the wall behind us, hitting her head and going limp.

"Hey!"

I jerk my head back toward the main doors and see three men in white rushing towards me. They all are huge and brawny, and I'm not stupid enough to think I can fight them all myself. Instead, I turn on my heels and make a run for the nearest stairwell entrance. I throw the door open and slip inside, turning back just long enough to catch a glimpse of the men in white arriving at the station where two women are now dead.

In the basement, I hear more noises. Whoever it is, they sound absolutely pissed off. The floor creaks under my feet, and every time I make a sound, the voice stops. After a few minutes, I hear footsteps besides my own, so I press myself into a small alcove just before a door at the end of the hall creaks open, and bright light pours out. Nobody steps out to block it, so I push myself back into the hall.

"Hello?"

My voice echoes all the way down and then bounces back to me. I'm alone down here. Who was talking, then? At the door, I put a hand in front of my face and peek inside. The only thing in the room is a weird-looking chair in the center. Even weirder, there's someone strapped to it. I take another step into the room, and gasp.

It's Nick tied to the chair.

I rush over to him and fumble around for a way to undo the straps. The whole time I'm doing this, Nick doesn't move. After a few minutes, it's obvious that I won't be able to get him out this way, so I move my focus to him.

"Nick?" I whisper, hands on his face. He doesn't respond. I slap his cheeks with both palms. He still doesn't move. "Wake up."

"I'm afraid that won't work, sweetie," says a voice behind me. I turn, keeping one hand on Nick, and take a look at the owner of the voice. It's Emily.

"What did you do to him?" I demand, holding the knife out toward her. It's not until that point that I realize I've been holding it this whole time. She takes one look at it and bursts out laughing.

"Sweetie, that's not going to do anything," she says, and when I look down again, the knife is gone. My hand is still balled up in a fist, but the knife isn't there. I glance back at Emily, and notice that the knife is now in her hand.

"Kill me, then," I say, feeling defeated already. I turn to face Nick again, but he's gone, too. The black chair is empty now. "What the hell?"

"Over here, sweetie."

I jerk my head in her direction again. She's jabbing her thumb over her shoulder, towards the corner of the room. Nick lies in a bloody heap, throat slashed. I start to go to him.

"Not so fast," Emily says, blocking my path. The knife tip touches my chest. I don't take a step back, though. "Too late for him, sweetie."

"Stop calling me that," I say, pushing her hand out of the way. She flinches at that and swings the knife around, slicing my arm.

"You're next, bitch," She says, raising her arm up. The last thing I see is the tip of the blade coming straight down at my chest.

And then it's dark.

. . . . . .

I throw myself into a sitting position on the bed and scramble to get the covers off. Nick stirs next to me, but doesn't wake up. I get up and stand next to the bed. This was going to have to stop. It'd been five years, but I was still having the nightmares. I leave the room and head down the hall, down the stairs, and into the kitchen.

I stop short when I notice the cracked window by the door. Something crashes in the living room. I jump at the sound and start toward it, knocking over a chair in the process. I curse silently and continue on.

In the living room, I see a black figure walking near the sofa. It looks like they're just pacing. I start to walk in and call them out on breaking and entering, but then the light from the hallway catches on something in their hand, and I freeze. Whoever it is has a knife, and it's already dripping blood.

I run back up to the bedroom as silently as possible, and throw the door open to Claire's bedroom, since it's the first door in the hall.

"Claire," I say, shaking her. "Claire, wake up." She opens her eyes and glares at me.

"The hell?" She says, half-asleep. She rolls over and looks at her bedside clock. "It's four in the morning, what do you want?"

"There's somebody downstairs," I say frantically, gesturing. "In the living room. They have a knife, and there's already blood on it." Claire's eyes pop open and she scrambles to get up, and then she looks around just as frantically as I was.

"Call the police," I tell her, already heading for the door. "I'm going to get Nick. Then, we're getting out of here."

Claire nods and stumbles across the room to the landline phone on her dresser. I sprint back down the hall and burst into my own bedroom, where I expect to see Nick still in the bed. What I see when I get in there nearly brings me to my knees.

"No," I whisper, walking over to him. Blood is soaking into the sheets, and running down the side of the bed. His bare chest has a long gash in the side, and after a few seconds, I see it rise with a labored breath. He's alive, but unconscious. I think back to the person I saw downstairs. They were in here not too long ago. They tried to kill Nick, but they didn't succeed.

There's no doubt who it was, then. There's only one person in the world who'd try to kill any of us. The only problem is that I was sure we'd killed her five years ago. I would swear to it. But, here's the proof that she's alive and still looking for revenge.

And this time, she's not going to stop until we're all dead.