Chapter 1: Roots of Evil (3/4 )
I hear my cat meowing, waking me up from my sleep. She's on top of me, a white Persian cat.
"Good morning Ava." She always wakes me up at in my room.
I reach out to get my glasses because I can't see a thing without them. then I get up from my bed to prepare myself for a new day. I take a small look at my room, it's pink with a lot of stuffed animals. I get up and the first thing I do is make the bed. I try to keep my room as clean as possible. The second thing is go to the bathroom and take a shower and afterwords put on some clothes for school. I put on a blue short sleeve dress with pockets.
"How do I look?" I ask Ava.
"Meow." I assume that she's complimenting me.
Suddenly, I heard someone whistle to me. I turned around and to look at the window in my room. My window is right in front of the window of my neighbor's room.
He's standing there looking at me.
"You look like shit, four eyes," he says while giving me his middle finger.
His name is Travis. He's been my neighbor since forever. Travis has fair skin, chestnut brown hair in a messy haircut and large and expressive blue eyes. As much as I hate to admit, he's somewhat handsome but definitely not as handsome as Joshua.
I close my window and the curtains to ignore him. He is always a jerk. Always calling me names, insulting me or doing some pranks to me. Travis goes to school at the north side, which his parents can barely afford. Good, because otherwise he'll go to my school. Though I have to admit, I wouldn't mind if Joshua hit him for being mean to me.
I turn around and leave my room to go downstairs. My Father and I live in a duplex apartment in the lower part of the west area of Stranding Haven, it's a two street separation of the south area. It's not bad, but I can't say that it is good either. There are two rooms upstairs, one is mine, and the other is my father's. I open the door of his room slightly to wake him up, he's snoring like he always does. He slept with his clothes on again. I get close to him and shake him up a bit. "Daddy? Daddy, Wake up."
He opens his eyes a bit. "It's already morning?" He speaks with an annoyance in his voice. He probably slept late again.
My dad is a ginger with a noticeable receding hairline and a really nice mustache, he's a big man with broad shoulders, but he's fat but not too much, with milky skin and wears glasses just like me.
He lifts himself from the bed and gives me a kiss in the forehead. "Good morning Sweetie."
"Morning," I say in return. "Want Breakfast?"
"That would be good," he says to me.
I turn around and leave his room to go downstairs, walking straight to the kitchen to make some breakfast: scrambled eggs with bacon, dad's second favorite breakfast. I get it done pretty quickly and put it on the table.
It's a shame that I can't smell it. I was born with something called Congenital Anosmia, which means that I don't have a sense of smell. It sucks. Once I went to school smelling really bad and I only noticed when someone told me. Since then I've been really careful with it.
"It smells great," Dad says as he descends the stairs.
"I wouldn't know remember," I answered while pointing at my nose.
"I know but it's smells great." He scratches the back of his head before sitting down on the table.
"Are you coming home late today?" I asked him. My father is a police detective and he usually gets home late.
"I don't know sweetie," he answers.
We both stopped talking and eat breakfast, he eats more than me as usual.
After Dad and I are done with breakfast, we both get ready to leave. He enters his car, which is a 1987 Cadillac Brougham, while I climbed on my bicycle.
"Have a good day at school sweetie," Dad says to me.
"Have a good day at work, daddy." I say in return before riding away on my bike.
Usually our days aren't very good. Daddy usually works too much and I get bullied someway by someone. But then my knight in shining armor comes to save me like always. I usually blush when I call Joshua that. But he does looks like a knight from a fairy tale, well minus his hair.
I ride my bike in the direction of the school. My neighborhood isn't really the best but it can't be worse than the ones from the south area. It's a little dirty and the people aren't very nice either but it could be worse. Terry has told Joshua, Lydia and me so many bad stories about it that I can't really complain.
The ride to school is peaceful and quick, just like I liked. I lock my bicycle near the entrance and waited there for Joshua, Lydia and Terry to arrive. I usually do that when I arrive too early in the school. I don't really like entering by myself.
Before I met Joshua and Lydia, everyone used to bully me. It usually varied, from calling me names to hurting me. Some of it were things like someone putting dead bugs on my locker, putting thumbtacks on my seat, sticking my bike wheels, and the list went on.
The school bus arrives a little late than it should and I get a bit scared when Joshua and Lydia don't come out of it. I take my phone from my bag and send a message to Joshua.
Erika: Where are you guys?
Joshua: We're not going to school today. I get a little worried after reading that. Erika: Why? Something happened?
Joshua: Lydia's mother ripped the stitches that were on her foot and she went with her to the hospital.
Joshua: Terry ain't going to school today either, there was a shootout on his street and it's too dangerous for him to leave.
Shootout? Jesus. And I hope Lydia's mom is okay. But... Wait. Erika: Why aren't you coming today?
Joshua: Can I come to your house later?
That takes me by surprise. Why would he wanna come to my house? He never did it before.
Joshua: I guess that's a no then.
Erika: No, I mean, Yes, I mean, you don't even know where I live.
Out of nowhere, he sends me a photo of my house. Which shocks me.
Joshua: That's your house isn't it?
Erika: How did you know?
Joshua: I passed through that neighborhood and I saw your bike there. Oh, that makes sense.
Erika: Why did you take a photo?
Joshua: I'll tell you later, I have to go now. Good luck. After that, I put my phone in my pocket.
I heard the bell ringing. Today will definitely not be a good day.
First class didn't start out well for me. First, the Thompsan twins picked on me the entire class, as soon as I get in the classroom without Joshua or Terry, they started to laugh.
They throw spit balls at me the whole class and threw soda on my bag. Luckily, my phone wasn't there. Even the teacher lectured me for not paying attention in the classes because I was trying to salvage the items that were on. I could have told him what they did but it would be no use. The teachers didn't like me very much for some reason. They all liked Joshua though, if he was here they would listen to him. Actually, if he was here those ugly twins wouldn't have courage to mess with me. Joshua, what are you doing right now?
Second class wasn't any better. Today was history which the teacher did came today. I still can't believe that Joshua took a picture of her husband cheating. Not that he wasn't wrong, it was cruel but cheating on a spouse isn't right. The class is harder than usual because she is making up for the class that she didn't come to.
Then Lunch came. Honestly, going there alone is definitely not a good idea. So I decided to spend the lunch in a bathroom stall. It is not ideal but there's no way those twins are going to leave me alone at lunch. They seem like the type who won't stop doing those things.
While I'm sitting down and messing on my phone, I hear someone come in. I hear steps walking towards my stall.
"I know you're there Stinky Carrot."
Oh, No. It's Natasha. She was, or still is one of the girls that used to bully me before.
"So the Emo Prince and the Hound Bitch didn't come today?"
Those are the nicknames that Joshua and Lydia were given. Joshua is the Emo Prince, because he has a emo hair and is handsome as a prince. Lydia is the Hound Bitch, is from an Elvis Presley song, I think, I don't really know what that nickname means. Mine is the Stinky Carrot, because of my Red hair and my stinky incident.
"Leave me alone," I say to her.
"Don't count on that," she says in return.
"Why not?" I don't know what her problem is with me.
Then I hear her walking around from outside and hear her pick up something. Then I hear the sink being turned on. What is she doing?
Out of nowhere, from a above the stall, Some dirty looking water started to falls from above on my head, wetting my entire body. I look up to see what was that and see that Natasha has filled a trash bag with water. I stand up quickly and exited the stall.
"The Stinky Carrot attacks again." She speaks before she started to laughs at me. Natasha has rich, brown skin, dark brown eyes, and thick, bouncy, curls. She's naturally very slender.
"Why did you do that?!" I say as I turned on the sink to try to wash myself. I can't sense the smell but I know it's bad.
"You think I forgot what that Emo asshole that you follow around like dog did to me." She speaks with a lot of bitterness in her voice.
"What are you talking about?" Did Joshua do something to her?
She then pushes me into a the wall. "As if you don't fucking know!" she yells at me. "Do I look like a moron to you? I know you told him to do that." She grabs my hair and pushes my face against the wall.
"I don't know what you're talking about!" I yelled as she pulls my hair really hard. It hurts.
The bell rings, signaling the end of lunch. She lets go of my hair and walks towards the entrance. "The Stinky Carrot was saved by the bell," she says before walking out of the bathroom.
I... I wanted to cry but... I don't wanna be here anymore. I'm going to cut the last class. There is a broken window here. Lydia was the one who broke it, I used to get out of the school. I walked all the way to my bike, climbed on and the ride away.
I ride my bicycle to go home, crying all the way. What did Joshua do to her to make her so mad. It doesn't take long for me to get home, I don't see Daddy's car which is a good thing since I really don't want to explain how did I got covered in trash water. I lock my bike on the front yard before walking towards the entrance. I open the door and the first thing I do is take off my clothes and walk towards the back room of the house which is beside the kitchen, where dad leaves the cleaning products and the washing machine. I put my dirty clothes inside of it and turn it on. I'm the one who does the laundry here so dad won't notice. Then I walk upstairs to take a shower. I wash every part of my body, the worst part of not being able to scent any smell is the fact that you don't know if you smell bad or not and if Joshua is really coming here, I really don't wanna smell bad.
After finishing my bath and basically rubbing myself with the sponge until it almost bleeds, I wrap myself in a towel and walk back to my room and put on a pair of gray shorts and a Ravenclaw t-shirt that I have.
The doorbell rings and I quickly leave my room to check. The moment I open the door, it was the person that I was expecting.
Joshua, stands on the other side of the door wearing a black hoodie, light blue jeans and red sneakers. The black hoodie makes his skin look even paler than it already is. He's so handsome.
"Hey, Erika," he greets me with his beautiful smile, showing his perfect white teeth.
"Hi," I greeted him back with a smile as well. But my smile isn't as lovely as his. "Come in," I tell him.
He does it without excitation. "Should I take off my shoes?" he asks me.
He's so polite. "Yes please." He does it, leaving on the side of the door. He's wearing black socks.
"So this is where you live?" he asks while looking around.
"Yes, sorry if it's a little messy."
"No, it's fine."
"You... wanna sit?"
I lead him to the couch that's in the living room. I sit beside him. "Sorry if I'm bothering you by coming here," he apologizes.
"No, I really liked that you visited me." Bother? The only thing that would have bothered me more today was not seeing you. "What... What were you doing? I mean... Why didn't you go to school today?"
"Remember those dead animals we found at that house?"
Unfortunately, but I guess I remembered peeing myself in front of you as well. But I really hope that he forgot about that.
"Well, before we left, I put a camera on there and this morning I saw him going there." Wait what?!
"Camera?" I asked him.
He takes out his phone from his pocket and puts on an image on it. I recognized the house the moment I see it.
"Did you find out who it was?" I asked him.
He then shows me another photography that was there. To my shock, the photo is my neighbor, Travis. He's the pet killer? "That guy is your neighbor right?"
"That's why you took a photo of my house?" He only nods in response.
"Do you know him well?" he asks me.
"He's been my neighbor since I can remember." I tell him. "He's a..."
"Yes," I quickly answered. "But, killing small animals."
"Yeah, he was taking another cat there to kill it but he saw the mess we made at the house and decided not to kill it there," he tells me "I tried to get there quickly but he left when I arrived but he didn't kill the cat there, so there is still hope."
"Which cat it was?"
"A white Persian cat."
"WHAT?!" I yelled very loudly. "AVA?!" I called for her as loud as I could. "Oh my god! Oh my god!" I stand up from the couch really quickly and run to my room to see if she was there. "AVA?!" I called and looked for her everywhere. "AVA?!"
"Please tell me it wasn't your cat?!" Joshua asks me as he enters gets in the door of my room. He then looks at a photo that I had of me and her there.
"Shit!" He quickly runs towards my window and opens the curtains. "Is there anyone at home?" he asks me while pointing at Travis's house.
"No," I say, to him while shaking. Oh god, What if he kills Ava?
"Then come on, let's see if we can find anything on his room," Joshua says, as he grabbing my hand.
The two of us went We go downstairs quickly and walked through the backdoor of my house to the backyard.
We go to the backdoor of Travis's house and Joshua opens it by picking the lock of the door. We entered and the house is pretty ugly on the inside. It's so... dull, it looks like only one person lives here and the person is mostly not there.
"Jesus, and I though Lydia's house was bad," Joshua says to me as he looks around the house.
"His room is upstairs, come on," I tell him. God please be okay, Ava.
We walked upstairs towards his room. His apartment has a similar structure as mine. Same rooms upstairs. I open the door of his room quickly. Joshua follows right behind me but he covers his nose while he enters.
"UGH! It's stinks in here," he tells me.
"I wouldn't know," I tell him.
"Your condition is both a blessing and a curse, right now... It's definitely a blessing."
I actually chuckle a bit at that. He's so cute.
He entered the room and started to looks around. "Look around and see if you can find a clue."
We basically searched everywhere. From drawers, closet, bed, but we can't find anything. The only place left for us to check is his computer but it had a password.
"Any idea?" Joshua asks me.
"Nope, we're not exactly friends Joshua," I reply to him.
Joshua just stood there stares at the computer for a few seconds, until he types a bunch of random things on the keyboard and pressed enter four times until the password tip appears: . It was written, Four eyes nickname.
"Four eyes?" Joshua says in confusion.
"He calls me that since I started to wear glasses," I tell him, which he makes an angry face in response.
"I think we both know what nickname he's talking about," he tells me.
I approached the computer and write the nickname that I dreaded so much: Stinky Carrot. It works.
"I'm getting a gigantic urge to break every bone in his body right now," Joshua bluntly tells me.
"Can I see?" I asked him. "Yes."
He sat on Travis computer and started to searches on the computer it to see if he can find it. I just stand there beside him, looking at him. As he types on the keyboard, I remembered something.
"What did you do with Natasha?"
"I stole her father's credit card and bought a bunch of woman's things, then hacked into her father's phone and created a false conversation between him and a woman," he tells me while he types on the computer. "Basically, I made it look like that her father was having an affair, and then made sure that her mother found out about it."
I stand there shocked at what I just heard. "Joshua, why would you do something like?" I asked him calmly. He always has an explanation to things.
"Didn't she mocked you when your parents divorced, you told me yourself remember," he tells me while staring at my eyes with his left blue one. "'Of course, they divorced, having a disgusting sack of shit like you as a daughter would make any parents want to stay away,'" he says, imitating Natasha, which unfortunately is very close to her. "So I made her taste what it felt like."
"Joshua... That is so cruel." I can't believe that he did something like that.
"So was she mocking you because of it, I just combat it cruelty with cruelty," he tells me without a bit of regret in his voice. "I would do much worse to anyone who would mess with you."
As much as I still think that he was cruel by doing that, the last part made my heart beat so fast, that I thought I would have a heart attack.
"I think I found something," he tells me as he was searches some of the documents, there was one titled Worthless pests.
Joshua clicks on it and there is a bunch of videos on it. He clicks into one and to our horror, it is a video of Travis carving a dog open with a knife and removing his internal organs. It made me sick of what I was watching and I ended up puking onto the ground. Joshua kneels down to help me.
"Erika, cover your eyes and stop watching," Joshua tells me as he holds my hair so I won't dirty it... Again.
"How can you be so calm?" I asked him, because he doesn't look fazed by what we just saw.
"I've seen worse." My eyes widen after he says that. How could he have seen it worse than that.
While he was still holding my hair, We both heard a click coming from the front door of the house. Quickly, Joshua grabs one of Travis's T-shirts that were on the floor and puts it on top of where I just vomited. Then He pulls me into the closet with him and closet for us to hide. The two of us We heard steps on the stairs and I ended up holding tightly to Joshua in fear. My heart was beats very fast while Joshua doesn't seem fazed by the situation. Our faces are so close that I can feel the breathing coming from his nose. I wonder, what Joshua smells like.
I heard another click, this time it's was this his bedroom door. I try to move my face to see if it is Travis but Joshua puts his hand on my cheek and moves my head to look at him. In that split moment, even as I am afraid because Travis probably has a knife. I moved my hand and do what I've always wanted to do: I removed the the hair that's always covering Joshua's right eye. And... his right eye is green, like an emerald.
So beautiful. His right eye is different but just as beautiful as his left one.
"What the hell?" I heard Travis saying, I finally move my gaze from Joshua's eyes and look at him. Travis notices the vomit that Joshua covered with the shirt. He then stood up from where the vomit was and notices his computer. "Oh no, Oh shit!" he yells in anger as he noticed that someone saw his disgusting secret.
With that, Joshua opens the closet and door and walks out. If I was ever close to having a heart attack, this one was definitely it. I just stay there in the closet watching everything, Joshua walks really slowly towards Travis, who has his back turned.
As soon as he gets close, he kicks Travis in between his legs which were wide open. He then turns Travis around and hits him with his elbow. Travis falls on the ground with his face bleeding a little but he was still awake.
"Ok, you're probably going to be a little stunted after this but I know that you can still hear me," Joshua says to Travis. "I'm gonna ask you three question and if you don't answer, I'm going to hurt you even more," he says with a calm voice. "Make a noise if you understood."
"Ugmhh," Travis grunts.
I come out of the closet soon after that.
"Alright, question number one." He kneels down. "Did you kill Erika's kitten?" That question makes me freeze in fear of the answer.
"Agghh," he just grunts again.
"I'm going to count to five and if you don't answer me, I'll break one of your fingers." Joshua says to him. "One, two, three, four, five." As soon as he gets to number five, he grabs Travis' left hand. "Turn around." He tells me.
I decided to obey him and turned around so I won't see.
Two seconds later, I heard a crack followed by a scream.
"AAAAAAAAAAAAAHHH-" I turn around again and see that Joshua put his hand on his mouth before looking away again.
"I still have nine more fingers to break, so answer my question," Joshua says, and his voice is so menacing that it even scares me. "Did you killed Erika's cat?"
"AAAAAAHH! No!" he removed from his hand from his mouth and tells him. The moment he said that, I can't describe how relieved I am.
"Good, question number 2," Joshua says. "Why did you take her Cat."
"I wanted to see her cry," I heard he says. and that It makes me so angry that I could-
"Can you break another one?"
"For you... yes."
"Uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuhhhhhhhhhhhhhh," Travis tries to scream but Joshua covers his mouth again. I don't like hurting people but he wanted to kill Ava just to see me cry. I hate him.
"Question number 3," Joshua asks.
"Where's Ava?" I asked him this time.
He just stays quiet at this time. I just waited for Joshua to snap another one of his fingers. But instead of doing that, he stands up from the ground and walks towards his computer and started to types on the keyboard.
"What are you doing?" he asks Joshua.
He kept typing on the keyboard, and then he entered logs on to a Facebook account. "Your parents seem like nice people, it would be a shame for them to have revelation on what their son is really like."
"No, no, you can't do this." Travis tries to speak but Joshua just puts his foot on his face.
"I can and I am, unless you tell me where you put her cat." Joshua spoke with a lot of calm on his voice.
"Fine, that worthless thing is in the abandoned house at the end of the street." He spoke to us.
Joshua then removes his foot from his face and I quickly run to the door. "Come on Joshua," I called him.
"Just a second." He walks towards the computer. "And... Send."
"What? I didn't send it to your parents but I didn't say anything about sending to everyone you have on Facebook. Don't worry at best your mom and dad will send you to a mental hospital." Joshua then approaches him. "Sleep well." Joshua then stomps on his face with his foot, knocking him out cold.
"Come on, come on, come on," I keep saying as we both run towards the house at the end of the street that Travis talked about.
It was a wooden house that apparently is more than forty years old, and I don't know how it is still standing.
"Calm down, we're almost there," Joshua tells me as we ran to the house.
The moment we arrived at the door, Joshua throws a kick at the door. The door is pure rotten wood which breaks very easily. We both entered the house and I am quick to scream for her. "AVA!" I yelled as loud as I can.
We heard her Meow coming from upstairs. I quickly walked towards the sound.
"Erika wait!" I heard Joshua yell but as soon as he did, I take a step forward and my foot ended up sinks into one of the wooden boards.
"AAAAHHHH!" I yelled in pain as I feel the planks cutting my ankle. Joshua quickly comes to me and removes my foot from the role and see that there is bit of blood. It hurts, I think I broke my ankle. Joshua makes me sit down to check my ankle.
"Don't worry, the cut is superficial, but I think you sprained your ankle," he tells me with a calming voice. "Wait here, I'm going to get your cat and then we'll go back to your house."
He goes upstairs for a few minutes while I sit, there waiting. He's so nice to me. It's strange to think of him as nice after what he did to Travis but... He deserved it, killing my kitten just because he wanted to see me cry. I hate him, I hate him so much.
Soon after Joshua comes back down and to my relief he has Ava with him.
"Ava. Thank god you're OK." He gives her to me and I squeezed her as hard as I can.
After Joshua gives Ava back to me, he helps me get up and also helps me walk home. He wraps my arm around his neck to helped me walk.
"Ummm..." I need to say it "Joshua..." I have to say something. "Thanks so much."
"I'll do anything for you Erika," he tells me with a smile. Which makes me blush. Then something came into my mind.
I approached his face and give him a peck on the cheek. He just looks at me again and smiles a bit more, before also giving me a kiss on the cheek, which I'm sure made my face become just as red as my hair.
After walking a bit more we arrive at my house. "Oh no." I noticed my father's car at the front.
"That's your father's car?" he asks me. which I just nodded in response. "Come on then."
"Wait, what?" I asked him.
"I wanna meet your dad."
"I know Lydia and Terry's, yours are the only one I don't know."
"Wait!" I try to tell him before he drags me to the front door.
He opens and my dad was right there sitting on the couch.
"Erika, what happened?" he asks me.
"She sprained her ankle." Joshua is quick to tell him.
"What? Get over and sit down." Joshua helps me get to the couch and Dad went to the bathroom, probably to get some bandages.
Dad comes back with the bandages and kneels down to check my foot. "I'm sorry, but I don't think we were introduced." This time he speaks to Joshua.
"I'm Joshua, Joshua Reese," he introduces himself.
"He's my friend," I finally speak.
"Oh, it's good to meet you Joshua." He extends his hand to him. "I'm Edgar Graham." Joshua shakes his hand. "I'm Erika's father."
"It's good to finally meet you sir, you're the only one of all my friends' parents that I haven't met yet." Joshua bluntly tells him.
"Oh really?" he asks as he bandages my foot.
After that I endure really embarrassing talk about why didn't I bring him here before or introduced any of my friends to my dad. My dad is a bit of a goofball and I was kinda of afraid that he would embarrassed me. But honestly, this is going much better than I was expecting it. Joshua and my dad get along quickly. Of course, Joshua gets along with everyone.
"All fixed," he says to me after finishing bandaging my foot. "Try not to walk much sweetie, you sprained your ankle a bit but it wasn't anything severe," he tells me. "How did this happened anyway?"
"Your neighborhood Travis hid her cat at the abandoned house at the end of the street, so we went there to grab her," Joshua tells him. It was a half-truth but it's better than to tell him everything.
"What? Goddammit spoiled brat, I never liked him."
"We, fought and ... I think I ended up knocking him out," Joshua tells my father. But it wasn't really a fight, it was more of Joshua beating him up.
"What?" Dad asks in confusion.
"When we asked him where her cat was, he just laughed at us, so I got mad and pushed him." Joshua then opens his hoodie, lifts his shirt to and to mine and dad's shock there is a bruise there. "Then he punched me here."
"What did you do?"
"I... Grabbed him and used a Judo throw that I know and threw him to the ground." He was invents a story for my dad and I just stand there listening. "I think he fell on his hand because two of his fingers looked broken."
"Oh my god."
"Then he stood up again and charged at me, I ended up hitting him with my elbow." Joshua looks down, looking really guilty. "He fell on the ground cold after that."
Father then looks at me. "Is that true?" he asks me.
I hate lying to my father. But if it's for Joshua.
"Yes, he said that he was going to kill Ava just to see me cry." I decided to tell him that part of the story.
"What?!" Now my father looks really angry. "I'm going to have a talk with that kid's parents." He then stood up and looked at them. "Where is he now?"
"I think he's still knocked out in his room," Joshua tells him.
"Okay, you two wait here, I'm going there to check on him," Father says as he walks towards the door.
Joshua walked towards me and sits beside me. He then holds my hand and whispers in my ear, "Thank you."
I smiled before whispering something in return in his ear. "I'll do anything for you Joshua." I repeated what he told me early.
I'm wondering what's going to happen to Travis.
"Meow." I heard Ava meowing while walking and laying as she lays on Joshua's lap.