Note: Story will contain blood/gore, some swearing, heavy themes, and scary/possibly disturbing elements. This is a mystery horror story, so don't be surprised.
I hope you all enjoy this first chapter!
All I could see was blood.
Red, voluminous liquid crashing against my knees like a waterfall. My hair became dyed from black to crimson in seconds. The world around me was pulsing, thriving, as if it were just alive as I was. Veins traced the walls, with occasional screams coming from the outside, wherever that could be. The walls moved occasionally like they had a heartbeat. I opened my mouth to scream only to be filled with the revolting taste of iron and salt.
I tried to move, but my legs refused to budge. I was frozen, trapped inside a nightmare that wasn't a dream, but instead a twisted reality. These sensations were too real to be fictional. And yet, how could it be anything but my subconscious?
I had been locked inside my demons yet again. The only way out was for it all to end naturally. My real eyes had to open, to remember the world I truly lived in. A world where I wasn't trapped inside this bloody hellhole, but instead my own mind.
The waves rose, passing my waist. I began to swim, hoping to find some sort of exit, some way to go into a different part of this dream. Yet my body was sluggish, moving a fraction of what I was capable. I felt my legs give out, and I sunk beneath the blood.
I closed my eyes, terror and panic winning me over. My mouth opened, gasping for air, only to draw in a much worse substance. My throat began to burn, the pain surging through every inch of my body. I let out a pathetic cry as the agony destroyed me from the inside.
Instantly my eyes opened. Nothing had changed, I was still drowning. Still, a child's voice, like that of a girl, whispered in my ears.
Come play with me, Jennifer.
I screeched, my voice barely recognizable amongst the depths. My lungs were on fire and I felt my consciousness begin to slip.
The girl's words became louder, turning from a silent plea to a horrific shriek.
Come play… I'm always waiting.
A laugh echoed through my ears as darkness overcame me.
"…Jennifer, answer me right now!"
My eyes flew open. Quickly I threw myself forward, hitting the cold tiled floor. I groaned and sat up, becoming increasingly aware of my surroundings.
I was in a bathroom. My bathroom, to be exact. There was no way I could've accidentally fallen asleep on the counter. Which meant…
Oh shit. Mom's going to freak.
Correction, she was already freaking. I could hear her frenzied breathing just outside the bathroom door. I swallowed down a sigh and walked to the door, opening it hesitantly.
My mother burst into the room, her eyes wide with fright. In moments, she had me wrapped in her arms, as if she thought I was dead. Seemed everyone thought that way these days.
"Mom I'm fine. It was just a bad dream," I said, trying to play it off. From her expression, I knew it wouldn't work.
"Just a bad dream? You were screaming in here for over ten minutes!"
She let me go, if only so she could pace in and out of the bathroom. "We really need that medicine to start working," she murmured.
I bit my tongue to avoid lashing out. When would she realize that the meds weren't working? Maybe they never would. Maybe I would just have to live with this for the rest of my life.
Watching her fret, it was hard to ignore the aging in my mother's features. Her once beautiful light brown hair had gray patches all over. I could see heavy circles under both of her green eyes. She was only in her early forties, too young to be losing her beauty.
Of course, I only had myself to blame. None of her other children had been the cause of this much grief.
I chewed on my lip as I thought through my current dilemma. There had to be something I could say to get out of this wretched mess.
"Mom, what time is it?" I asked.
She stopped moving and looked at me, obviously exasperated.
"Almost five in the morning. You should go back to bed, you're still going to school tomorrow."
I always went to school after the nightmares. Why in the world would today be any different?
Oh. That's right. It's my birthday.
My eighteenth birthday, the big transition from child to adult. Funny, I felt as if I were something even less than a child, maybe a toddler. A girl who definitely wasn't big enough to handle the circumstances thrown at her.
"Well, I'll go to bed then. I'll see you in a few hours." I added a fake yawn for good measure, making her believe I needed the sleep.
My mother took a deep breath as I walked by. A pang of guilt hit my heart, but I shoved it down. There wasn't anything I could do about this whole mess.
About my condition.
It started when I was five. I had been admitted into a private school for kindergarten. From what I've been told, and what I can remember, I was an average naïve kid. I didn't know how to share, had an extroverted personality with a boss complex, and yet I was the fan favorite of all the children.
All of that changed on a pretty dull, sunny Friday afternoon. I had been attempting to read a children's book when Annie Campbell came over, eager to see what information I was gleaning. In other words, she just wanted to do whatever I was doing.
She sat down right beside me, her eyes glowing with wonder.
"Wow Jennifer, I didn't know you could read THOSE books! I can barely get past the first page!"
Her excitement was infectious. I didn't even try to swallow down my pride but instead, let my chin lift a little higher.
"It's not too hard," I said arrogantly. "Would you like me to show…"
The door to the classroom opened, and a little girl walked inside. Her hair was long, reaching far past her shoulders. It was jet black; the color was beautiful yet haunting. She wore a simple black dress, with little red buttons tracing all the way up to the collar.
She dressed oddly, for sure, but it wasn't her outfit that took my young self by surprise. It was her eyes.
Dark, empty voids filled the spaces where her eyes should have been. Her skin was lifeless, the color had been sucked away from it. She looked like a corpse trying desperately to blend in with the living.
I screamed, throwing the book in my hands across the classroom. All conversations ceased, and everyone turned to look at me.
"Jennifer, what's wrong?" My teacher asked quickly.
"That girl!" I said, breathing heavily. I pointed towards her accusingly. "She… she has no eyes!"
An awkward silence filled the room, followed by laughter from several of the students.
"There's no one there Jenn!" One of the boys sneered.
I looked at all the faces, aghast. The laughter spread like wildfire across the room and I became subjected to my first instance of public humiliation.
Promptly, the teacher had taken me to the principal's office. They tried to coax me, but nothing they said would help. I told them exactly what I knew.
They said she didn't exist. There weren't any black-haired girls with eyeless faces walking around the school. It had probably just been the result of a scary movie or television show. Ghosts weren't real. They were just figments of my imagination, the result of my mind playing tricks on me.
I believed it until I went back into the classroom and saw her again. I called the mysterious girl out, but no one listened to me.
Eventually, my parents had to take me home. They banned me from television, and instead had me play with toys and do other activities to release my "hyperactive mind."
But then the nightmares started.
Horrifying, vivid. They weren't really nightmares, at least not to me. They were real, and every night I had to face them. Eventually, I stopped sleeping altogether.
Once my parents realized the problem wasn't being solved, they hired dozens of psychiatrists to help ease the situation. Yet, no matter what they tried, none of them could completely erase the problem.
Still, I found ways to try to cope with the nightmares. I learned to be brave, to build an immunity against the fears in my head. I had to learn that fantasy and reality were on two sides of the same coin. Whichever side I chose would inevitably rule my life. So, I did my best to conquer the nightmares.
But one thing never left.
The little girl I had seen so many years ago still haunted me. She'd never left but instead had aged with me. No matter where I went, her presence was never far behind. I would ask her questions, but she refused to speak a word.
She'd just watch me. Occasionally I saw a smile on her face as if she found something amusing. Every other moment, she gave me a blank stare.
If only I'd known what she would eventually do to me.
I stared up at the bedroom ceiling, my eyes glued open. How did anyone sleep after a nightmare like that?
I groaned and pressed my head against the pillow.
This was stupid. This whole scenario was just a stupid, ridiculous waste of my life. Kids my age went out late to parties, skipped school, and had the time of their lives. As for me, I'd never had the opportunity for sleepovers or late night gossip sessions. My parents had been too scared.
Even so, this was who I was. I just had to accept that.
Seven o'clock rolled by, and I threw myself off the bed. Stumbling, I made my way back to the bathroom. Inside, she waited for me.
The girl sat on the counter top, tapping her feet against the drawers. Her black hair hadn't changed over the years, only retained its long length. From the maturity in her appearance, we were near the same age. Her dress was the same, but longer, built to fit the woman she was becoming.
We stared at each other for a moment. I sighed before turning on the shower. Our eyes never cut contact, just continued a deadly stare down.
Why didn't she just leave me alone? I tried to conceal my irritation with a blank stare.
Thirteen years I had suffered from this girl. I had had about enough of it.
I pushed my fingers against the running water; the temperature was just right.
"You could, at the very least," I said hotly. "Turn around so that I have some form of privacy."
She rolled her eyes and slowly turned around. I snorted, but undressed quickly and hopped into the shower.
I took a deep breath, trying to calm my raging nerves and shaking fingers.
It didn't matter what her purpose was. That girl terrified me beyond measure. I only wished I knew why.
An hour later, I threw a coat on. It was December 10th, pretty soon it would be Christmas. I had only one week left until my Christmas break, and I couldn't be happier for it to come.
The girl had disappeared; she did that often. I had no idea where she would go and I wasn't concerned about it. The more time I had away from her the better.
My mother was gone, her job as an advertisement copywriter taking her away. My father was doing the same, although his could take him to different states if his managers wished. As such, I was expected to take care of myself. I did the best I could.
I stood outside, letting out an icy breath. It was much too cold in my small Idaho town. I paced back and forth on my driveway to resist the freezing weather.
A honk alerted me, and I nearly jumped off my driveway from fright. I turned to see what car was responsible.
I could see Jason laughing from inside his car as he parked beside my lawn. Quickly, I ran to the car and jumped inside.
"You brute! I was scared to death!" I scolded.
"I'm sorry," he lied, grinning from ear to ear. I smiled in spite of myself. Jason's laughter was contagious.
Jason was my best friend as well as my boyfriend. We had been together for over a year and, up until a few days ago, I couldn't have been happier about it. Our chemistry was spot on, everyone said so. While I was quiet, he was overly loud and a little bit obnoxious. Still, people loved him, and that lead to people loving me too.
Since I was considered unstable, Jason was my ride to and from school. He didn't have to, but he chose to anyway. I didn't know where I'd be without him.
"How was your presentation yesterday?" He asked, tapping the steering wheel to the beat of his rock music.
"Alright, I stuttered a little in the middle. Kind of embarrassing," I said, staring out the window. My stuttering issues were a pain in high school, a place where small deformities got you killed.
"It happens. Did Johnson like it? That's all that counts after all."
"Yeah I think so." I turned to look at him.
He had recently dyed his hair from brown to black, a nice change of pace. It was short and naturally straight, something I had always wished for. His bright blue eyes were mesmerizing to look at, making it hard not to stare. He had the perfect features that went along with his confidence and charm.
Jason always had a gentleman like air about him, something all the ladies had fallen for. Yet he'd chosen me. The decision had been quite the surprise to many. No one expected him to be going out with one of the awkward, strange kids. But he did.
Still, things were becoming increasingly difficult. After our most recent fight, everything was starting to change.
"How's everything going with you?" I asked quietly.
"Fine," he said. His smile was fading, and I could feel the tension start to come back. Well, it had only taken a total of three minutes.
Silence filled the car. I started to squirm, feeling increasingly uncomfortable. How was a girlfriend supposed to handle a disagreement like this?
"Look, Jason, I really don't mean to be mean or insensitive to you… I'm just not ready to take that kind of step, you know? I don't mean to hurt your feelings."
He huffed with irritation. His fingers drummed the steering wheel, a habit he had when he wasn't happy. I swallowed hard, trying to snuff out the thoughts in my head.
"It's fine Jenn, don't worry about it. You don't have to do anything you don't want to." He glanced my way for a moment before making a turn. "But it would make me very happy if you did."
I could feel guilt begin to grow in my gut. Would it be that hard to do what he asked? But still, I had just turned eighteen. Wasn't it a little early for a sexual encounter? I didn't know the first thing about this crap.
Even so, I could feel the disappointment radiating off him. I rumbled my temples in frustration. Was it worth it to argue at this point? I could just go along with it. But this was a big decision…
"What's so hard about this Jenn? It's not that big of a deal."
"It is to me."
"Well maybe you need to change your priorities," he snapped.
I flinched at his outburst. This wasn't like Jason at all. Where in the world was this coming from?
Neither of us said a word until we reached the high school. I slammed the car door behind me as I got out.
"Oh, that's really mature Jenn."
"So is being an asshole," I yelled back.
He said nothing, simply stared at me as I walked into the school building. I tried to ignore the tears that were starting to form in my eyes.
I was failing him, one of the most important people in my life. I would have to apologize later. I couldn't always expect him to run back to me.
I walked to my locker, taking out my English notebook. I closed it and leaned against it, waiting.
A few minutes later, Alice showed up. She threw her locker open, but then gave me a strange look.
"Hey, rough ride here?"
"How'd you know?" I said, wiping my eyes hurriedly.
"You look like you're about to cry. Or maybe you already have. Boyfriend issues?"
That was Alice, always straight to the punch.
"Yeah, Jason and I had another argument in the car. It's just really frustrating. I don't know how to make things better."
Alice sighed. She pulled a brush out her locker, a spare she always kept on her. Alice had been born with extremely curly, brown hair which resulted in the curse of knots.
"What happened? Maybe I can help smooth things over."
I didn't doubt that. Alice was my personal assistance in everything boys. If I ever had a confusion or frustration, I never doubted that she could help me.
"Well…" I said, my face starting to turn red. "He wants to, ya know, do things."
Alice looked at me for a moment, puzzled. Her mouth formed an "o" when she realized.
"So, that's your problem. You don't think you're ready and he's all over it." Alice took out a mirror, doing an overview of her makeup.
I looked at her. She was wearing a fancy black dress with high heels, odd attire for a school day.
"Yeah. What's with the getup?" I asked curiously.
"You know that book I've been writing?" I nodded. "Well there's a publisher that said he's really interested, so I'm going over to talk to him about it."
I smiled widely. Alice had always been a great writer and poet. I had no doubt she'd rise to fame someday.
She didn't seem excited, but maybe she was just nervous. I knew I would have been.
"As for your boy problem," she said, closing the locker. "It's either you do what he wants or you do what you want. It's completely up to you. But I'd suggest that if you're not comfortable then don't do it. Better to save that stuff for later anyways, yeah?"
I nodded. She smiled at me.
"He'll get over it, especially if he loves you as much as he says he does. He's just throwing a fit, all boys do at some point."
"Yeah, I guess you're right."
"Come on, class is going to start soon."
She trotted off, with me following at her side. I noticed how she fiddled with the sides of her own notebook. It was probably just the publishing opportunity she had today.
"You'll do good you know," I said supportively.
"What?" She stared at me for a moment. Then her face glowed. "Oh right, I know I will. I've got the skills. Just the butterflies, I'm sure you understand."
I didn't know exactly how to take that, so I said nothing. Sometimes Alice unwittingly made jabs at my condition, sometimes it wasn't on purpose. It was generally hard to tell.
I dragged my fingers against the brick walls and blinked.
In an instant, the world changed.
The school's clean, smooth floors became splattered with blood and gore. Hung down from cracked ceiling tiles, ropes were wrapped around human necks, their bodies limp. The windows were broken, with pieces of glass scattered across the hall.
I shrieked, dropping my English notebook. I backed into the wall out of fear.
"Jenn, what's wrong?"
A skeletal figure walked up to me. Her body was composed of bone, with rotting flesh clinging to various areas. Her hair was falling out, thin pieces were all that was left.
"Jenn?" As her mouth moved, teeth begin to jut out of place.
I recognized the voice. It was Alice, but at the same time, it wasn't. Alice definitely didn't look like that.
I swallowed hard, the urge to vomit rising. This was just a hallucination of some sort. I couldn't make a scene, I couldn't.
Before I could answer, a boney shoulder knocked into mine. I fell on my face, blood from the floor rubbing against it. I sat up quickly to look at the stranger.
"Excuse me," the stranger apologized. I stared, speechless.
The person looked just like Alice, but it wielded a scythe, its blade long and menacing. What in the world was a student doing with a real scythe?
Feeling something roll down my cheek, I put a finger on my face. I pulled away and screamed.
Dark streaks of blood from the floor lined my skin. I looked down at myself in a panic.
I was just like them, my skin rotting away and hair falling out. I was losing everything that made me human.
When I looked up, a crowd had gathered around me. A crowd of undead, rotting humans. They whispered to each other, their mouths falling apart with each syllable. A girl scratched her head, bringing out a chunk of skin with it.
This time, I couldn't keep it in. I vomited all over the floor, my insides heaving out of pure terror. Tears streamed down my face.
It's just a hallucination, it's not real. It's not real, it's not real…
My head darted up.
I was back in my normal school. There was no blood, just floors that had been recently cleaned up by a janitor.
But there was a definitely a crowd around me. Students stood around, their eyes wide in shock and worry. Alice stood next to me, her hands on my shoulders.
I looked at myself. My skin was still intact… but I had vomited all over myself and the floor. As I looked down, I could see a puddle underneath myself.
I could feel the heat rise to my face as I realized what I'd done.
Not only had I vomited everywhere, but I'd even peed myself. In front of a bunch of students who would undoubtedly judge me for it.
I tried my best not to cry in face of this terrible humiliation. Alice rubbed my back in comfort.
"A teacher is coming by. Don't worry about Jenn, we'll get all of this figured out." She looked up at everyone who was still staring. "Get lost!" She snarled.
Reluctantly, they began to disperse. I let a few tears loose, putting my head in between my knees. This was so embarrassing, I looked like a little child. What was wrong with me?
Mrs. Anderson rushed up to me, easing me up to standing. Her face was etched with concern, a reaction I'd become so used to seeing on her.
"Let's get you into my office and we'll figure this all out." She looked at Alice. "You two have your classes together, correct? Tell your English instructor that I am with Jennifer. He shouldn't have any issues with it, otherwise, he can talk to me."
"Yes Mrs. Anderson," Alice said in a hurry. She walked off, though I barely noticed.
"Come on girly, let's go," she said gently.
"I should clean this up," I whimpered. It was so awkward, why did I even react this way, as if I couldn't learn from previous mistakes…
We stood up and started walking down the hallway. I tried to block out the whispering that was cascading through my peers.
And the fact that the black haired girl was standing beside me, her hand on my shoulder.