All over the place. It was all over the place.

Blood, everywhere. On the floor on the ceiling…

Counters. It was even on the counters! It looked like a common slaughterhouse!

Dead. Everyone dead…


Fear snaked its way into his heart, wrapping its slimy tendrils around the valves and constricting them. He felt like he couldn't breathe.

God, he couldn't breathe! He was beginning to hyperventilate.

He had to find someone. Mother was there, on the couch, throat slashed. Father was there, by the pool table. He was still in his Sunday best, Scotch still on the border. A white powder sat in stasis at the bottom of the glass. Father had blood all over his mouth and down the front of his white suit.

It was so, so quiet. There was a torrent of emotions in his head, in his throat, in his heart. A scream was begging to be let free. But it was so… Quiet.

Jeramee was on the couch in Mother's lap. Poor cat, poor cat. He had lacerations all over. His pretty white fur was copper.

Killed. Everyone had been killed. Who… Who could do such a thing?

Lucien cleared his throat, rubbed at his eyes, swiped his hand through his hair. He couldn't make sense of any of this. He had left for the weekend for the open tournament. Although the game had gone smoothly, he'd had a bad feeling and so he left early. By the time he had gotten home, he was still in his tennis gear, down to the sweatbands around his wrists. He knew the feeling at the pit of his stomach was about to get worse, and when no one had answered the doorbell it sent his stomach to knots. Then he has rushed into the foyer to find the two attendants, dead, and further into the mansion, his parents…

Murdered. His entire family had been murdered.

No. Not everyone. Zachariah. He was still here. How could he not be? He had to be!

Opening his phone with fingers that trembled clean off the Richter scale was harder than he would have thought. Finding his brother's contact information and hitting the call button seemed to be an impossibility that he miraculously achieved even so.

Pausing in his movements, his breathing, he listened to the drone of the dial tone. No answer. There was no answer. How could he—But no. There. Faintly. He could hear his brother's custom ringtone, sounding from somewhere upstairs.

Quietly, he flipped his phone shut and walked with faux composure toward the stairs. He was still trembling violently and yet managed to ascend the stairs with no real problems. He was scared, terrified that the murderer may still be there. He was even more afraid to find Zachariah, possibly and probably dead. These redoubtable thoughts plagued him as he neared the last landing to the winding grand staircase.

Reeling in shock, he nearly fell back down those very steps. Where the downstairs was still neat and ordered, the upper halls and rooms were upturned most violently.

Stuffed animals from the old nursery were scattered across the ground, utterly dismembered. Little Teddy Bears were missing arms. A bunny's disembodied head lay with both ears forcibly torn off; stuffing was strewn everywhere. A broken mirror—no. Many broken mirrors. Glass littered the ground as if someone had taken a blunt object to every window and mirror in the upstairs area.

Trashed. Everything was trashed.

Utterly destroyed.

Very, very quiet. He had to be quiet. Had to find his brother. Had to make sense—

Where the blow came from, he could not tell. Something hit him, hard, in the back of the head, fracturing his skull and sending him face-first into the plush carpet.

Xenophobia had served him well before in keeping safe from strangers. It was a pity it could not help him here.

Yelling, shouting, screaming in torrential pain, Lucien clasped his fingers to his damaged flesh, recoiling when it brought mere pain. The murderer. He was here. He knew it. He struggled to turn himself over, to see and perhaps defend against his attacker. What he saw sent ice rushing down his tingling spine.

"Z-Zachariah?" The smile he received was as cold as the metal of the gun pointed right at his heart.