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-I can barely type, my hands are shaking so violently that my fingertips just skate over the keyboard. I've had tunnel vision for the past hour and a half, the voices of the police bounced around in my skull. I did my best to answer them, even showed them the video, but all my answers were stock, like a record on repeat, I was somewhere else.
I need to back up, to collect my thoughts and explain to you what happened. It's easy to forget that for some, nothing has changed, their world isn't falling apart before their eyes. It was around 9 pm last night, I had just gotten off of work and was heading home when my phone rang. I struggled to pull it out of my pocket and hit the answer button, silently cursing the rain that was pounding at my windshield, drowning out the call.
"Hey John, do you think you can grab some eggs on the way home? I was thinking about making a quiche tomorrow morning." a muffled voice rang through the speakers. The voice belonged to Jessica, my girlfriend of going on four years.
"Yeah, no problem babe." I yell over the pounding of the rain. "I'll stop by the gas station, be home in 10."
"Ok, and while you're there... do you think you can pick something else up for me?"
"Sure, what is it?"
"Uh... I ran out of... hygiene products..."
I couldn't help but smile, such a way with words. "No problem, Jess. I'll see you soon."
"You're the best, I love you."
"Love you too."
I lowered the phone from my ear, and clicked the red button. Two new notifications popped up, saying I had two missed calls from my friend, Richie. I tossed the phone into the passenger seat. He was going to have to wait, another call in this storm just may be the death of me.
I pulled in to the gas station and parked my car, grabbing my phone and holding the collar of my jacket over my head as I ran for the door, feet slapping against the wet concrete. I threw the doors open and let out a long sigh as I shook my jacket off, squinting in the stark neon lights.
"Hello, can I help you find anything?" said an old woman that looked and smelled like she just eats cigarettes at this point.
"No, thank you." I say politely, holding my breath as I pass the counter towards the fridges. My phone dings as I'm looking through the eggs and I glance at the screen, which read that I had a snapchat from Jessica. I unlocked it and opened the app, clicking on the red square. A picture of Jessica in her bra popped up, with the caption "a reward for being such an amazing boyfriend." I smile as the timer runs out and the picture disappears. I notice the purple icon in the bottom right and click on it, three new stories posted. I shrug and click on the first one. It was a guy from highschool, someone I hadn't talked to since then, with an hour long story of him at the club, zooming in on various women and cackling manically.
"Anything to showoff your social life, creep." I mutter to myself, and click on the next one. This one belonged to a girl at my work, which featured a picture of a glass of wine and her cat, posed almost too perfectly to be candid. The timer runs out and shows one story left, posted by Richie five minutes ago. The little preview was almost completely black, except for one area that looked as if it were being lit by a flashlight. I clicked on his name and the video opened.
My suspicions were confirmed when a nearly dark screen played, followed by the click of a flashlight, illuminating the hallway. I recognized the hall as the one outside of Richie's bedroom, I could barely make out the photos hung neatly on the wall. There was no talking, only the soft thuds of boots on the carpeted floor. The circle of light paced back and forth between the walls, almost as if it were dancing. The video ended and the next one began, now inside Richie's bedroom. The light hovered over Richie's bed, empty and with the sheets thrown over. The light moved to the other side of the room and paused on his nightstand, where a picture of Richie and his girlfriend sat, the harsh light from the phone glaring against the glass. I remember that day, I was the one who took the picture. This time there were two sounds.
Whoever was taking the video was humming softly, to what sounded like the song from Twisted Nerve. The other was almost inaudible, but with the volume all the way turned up, sounded like heavy breathing and whimpering. The timer ran out and played the next video, which began with the light darting quickly to the closet across from his bed, the humming pausing for a moment, before starting up again, twice as loud. The closet became brighter and brighter as the light moved closer, pausing for a second as the man finished humming the high notes, whimpering clearly audible now, before throwing open the door. My stomach dropped as I stared at the small screen, which displayed a battered and sobbing Richie huddled in the corner of the closet.
"P... please just leave me alone, I..." He stuttered, but was cut off as a gloved hand came into view, the light shining brightly off the polished leather.
The hand was holding a gun.
Richie's head rocked backwards as his brains exploded onto the back wall, eyes rolling into the back of his head and blood pouring out of his nose like a crimson waterfall. I screamed and jumped so violently that my phone fell out of my hands, clattering face down onto the floor. I gasped for air and clung to the shelf for support, gurgling and coughing playing from the speakers of my phone, before a second gun shot rang out and the video ended.
The air seemed to stand still as the only sounds in the gas station were the hums of the refrigerator and my heavy breathing. I could feel the color drain from my face, my fingers turning ice cold.
"Sir, are you ok?" the old lady asked with a concerned look. I jumped at the sound of her voice and looked up at her, her concern turned to fear as she saw my expression.
"C... call the police." I mumbled, unable to recognize my own voice.
"Is everything ok? What happened?"
"Please... Just..." I started, before collapsing to the floor. I heard the woman gasp and begin dialing the phone. I propped myself up against the shelf and stared blankly at the eggs in front of me, thinking of everything and of nothing at the same time. It had to be some sort of sick joke, right? I glanced over at my phone, willing myself to pick it up, to see another missed call from Richie with a voicemail telling me that he couldn't believe I fell for it. I raised a shaking hand and grasped the cold metal object, before lifting it and turning the screen towards me. The screen timer had expired and I was faced with a black mirror, staring at the stranger in the reflection.
"Man, he looks shitty. I'd hate to be that guy." I thought to myself, before pressing the home button. Snapchat immediately opened back up, proudly displaying another entry to Richie's final story, posted 30 seconds ago. My finger was shaking so violently that I missed the button several times, before finally tapping it. This one was a picture, a close up of Richie's face. All the live had drained out of his eyes, and the wall and carpet surrounding his head was nothing but red. Positioned just above the bullet hole was a text box.
"First person to view this story is next."
The phone slid out of my hand and rested on my leg. I didn't know if I was the first to watch it, the videos had been up for five minutes before I viewed them, but I didn't care. The only thing I could think about was how Richie had just added his mother to Snapchat a few months ago, in an attempt to get her more into technology.
I could see the flashing red and blue in the reflective glass of the fridge. The woman pointed over to where I was and two uniformed men walked over.
"Sir, what's wrong?" one of them asked, kneeling beside me. I tried to speak, but my mouth was too dry.
I slowly turned to face him, staring deep into his eyes, before muttering "2243 Glencove Drive" and pointing at Richie's story. The cops glanced at each other as one stood and took my phone. He watched the story before calling it in on his radio.
The rest of the night is a blur, I remember Jessica arrived at the station a few minutes after I got there. She was crying and holding onto me, but I just wasn't there. The cops held onto my phone for evidence, recording the story into their own files, before returning it to me.
"Is there anything you need, John?" a cop asked. I looked up and recognized him as Dillon Mully, Richie's lab partner in sophomore biology.
"No... I'm ok. Thank you." I mumbled, before standing and taking Jessica's hand. "I think I just need some rest."
"Of course, if you need anything at all, don't hesitate to ask."
I nodded without saying anything and lead Jessica to her car. She was still sobbing and telling me everything was going to be alright, but it was just reverberating around my head. We got into the car and drove home, in complete silence aside from Jessica's sniffling. We pulled into the driveway and I shut off the car and sat back in the seat.
"I... I just can't believe it..." she whimpered.
"Yeah." I replied, one of my famous stock answers.
"Let's go inside, we can talk, or not, whatever will help."
"I think I'd like to be alone."
She seemed taken aback, "John I don't think that's a good idea..."
"Please, I'll be in in a few minutes." I said. I know how it must've looked, but it wasn't like that. I just needed to clear my head, before I said or did something I'd regret. After a few failed attempts of changing my mind, Jessica got out of the car.
"I love you John, I want you to know I love you more than anything in the world."
"I know, I love you too sweetie."
She closed the door and made her way up to the front door, glancing back a few times before stepping inside. As soon as the front door closed I burst into tears, holding my face in my hands and digging my fingernails into my skin. I could only think of the two missed calls. Was he calling for help? I was on his speed dial so he may not have had time to dial 911, I was his only life line and I let him down.
I could have saved him.
I felt my phone buzz in my pocket and I raised my face from my hands, breathing heavily and glancing down at it. I had half a mind to destroy the thing once I got it back, but I decided against it, I'd have funeral arrangements to help set up. I pulled it out of my pocket and glanced at the screen, feeling that familiar feeling of dread and anguish as it notified me that I received a new snap from Richie. My hand began to shake once again as I unlocked it and opened snap chat. The police searched Richie's house top to bottom, but his phone was no where to be found. I sat there for what seemed like hours, staring at the message from the man who murdered my best friend, summoning the courage to play another video from this psychopath. I finally gained the strength to hit the play button, before dropping my phone onto the floor of the car, and sprinting into the house. The message was a video of my house, of Jessica talking to me and walking up the stairs, of me sobbing in the drivers seat as it slowly zoomed in until my face took up the entire screen, five words written out in the text box.
"Jonathan Newport, lucky number seven."
Even now as I sit here, in the lobby of Saint Andrew's hospital, typing away on my phone, I still wonder how this could have happened. The events of the past twenty four hours have been nothing short of a horror film, and not one of the comically bad ones, but the ones that will keep you up at night. For me, it was going to keep me up for the rest of my life. Though my hands have been cleaned, I can still see the blood on them, there's so much I can no longer tell what is mine and what is not. I feel anger, despair, regret, but most of all, useless. The stitches along my knuckles and cheeks are killing me, but not nearly as bad as the pounding in my head.
But hey, you should see the other guy.
I'm not here for me, I wish that this trip to the hospital, with dozens of cops standing around and asking questions I don't know the answer to, was only for me. But it's not, and that's my biggest regret of all.
Sitting around with my thoughts will only drive me insane, so I may as well put my time to good use and finish my story, and just maybe prevent something like this from happening again.
I jumped up the stairs to my house and burst through the door, looking around frantically.
"JESS? WHERE ARE YOU?" I yelled, glancing in various rooms. "WE NEED TO CALL THE COPS, I..."
I ran into the kitchen where Jessica was sitting at the table, phone laying on the surface with Snapchat open. She looked at me, face as white as a sheet.
"John, what's going on? I... I'm getting these messages from R... Richie..."
I grabbed her phone and looked through the instant messages. There was a picture of Jessica taken from the back window, accompanied with a text box saying "Call the police and I kill you too."
"Fuck. FUCK!" I yelled, heart feeling like it was going to burst out of my chest. "Ok... ok we need to go, if we hurry we can make a break for the car and..."
"John, please tell me what's happening." She said, voice shaking with fear. I stopped and took her hand, clasping it between mine.
"The guy who killed Richie, he... he said something about the first person who viewed the story would be next. He's still got his phone and he's right outside."
"What? but how did he find out where we lived?"
"He's got his phone, Jess! He probaby had out address in his contacts."
"We don't have time for this! We've got to lea..."
We were thrown into total darkness as the power shut off, Jessica screamed as I stepped back against the wall, holding my arms out in front of me.
"JESS! Are you ok?" I yelled out, waving my arms blindly in front of me.
"Yes, I can't see anything..."
"Just stick together." I say, trying to sound calm. My eyes were beginning to adjust and i could make out Jessica's figure a few feet in front of me. I began to make my way toward her when the room suddenly lit up. I shielded my eyes and looked in the direction of the light, which was coming from Jessica's phone sitting on the table. I heard her shuffle towards it and pick it up, whimpering softly.
"What is it? Jess, what is..."
"It's a message from you."
"What?" I reached down and patted my pocket, feeling for my phone, before groaning.
I left it in the car.
"What does it say?"
"It just says... 'two for one'"
I jumped as a loud creak resonated throughout the house. Jessica gasped and I clamped my hand over her mouth, listening. I recognized the creak as the loose floor board directly inside the front door.
"Fuck..." I whispered, trying to hold back the urge to panic. I could feel Jessica sobbing in my arms. I slowly began to walk backwards, tracing my finger along the counter that I knew lead to the back door.
I ducked into the pantry as the kitchen suddenly filled with light, coming from what I could only guess was the flashlight on my phone. A dark figure stepped into view and I quickly closed the pantry door, the harsh white light from the phone seeping in through the crack. I held Jessica closed as we both held our breath, the footsteps growing closer and closer. I heard the familiar "ding" as he began recording, humming softly.
"I'm going to hold him off, you make a break for the back door." I whispered, the light getting closer and the footsteps getting louder.
thump. thump. thump...
"Don't argue, it's our only chance." I snap, jumping slightly as he threw open the closet door directly across from us. "As soon as your outside, hide and call the police. I'll come find you."
thump. thump. thump...
The light was shining through the crack so brightly now that I could make out Jessica's face, tears gleaming from her cheeks. I didn't know if I was going to make it out of this, but I had to make sure she did, nothing else mattered.
THUMP. THUMP. TH...
The footsteps paused, in front of the pantry, the shadow of the figure seeping into the room.
I starting breathing heavily, standing and facing the door. The humming was barely muffled by the door, but it was clear that he was right outside, finishing the high notes. I watched the door knob slowly turn, Jessica gasping behind me.
Adrenaline pumped through my veins as the door began to open and I threw myself against it, smashing the solid wood into the man's face.
"UGH!" he cried out and stumbled backwards.
"JESS GO!" I yelled and sprinted at the man, who began to raise his gun. I planted my shoulder into his chest and tackled him back into the counter.
I heard Jess scream and fall to the ground, dragging down the silver ware drawer with her with a loud CLANG.
"FUCK!" I yelled, wrestling for the gun as the man hit me repeatedly in the back of the head with his other hand. I planted my foot against the cupboards below the counter and pushed off, toppling to the ground and pulling the man down with me. He lost his grip on my phone and it tumbled to the ground face up, throwing us once again into complete darkness. I groaned as his fist slammed into my head repeatedly. I had no way of seeing when the blows were coming and I begun to lose my grip on the gun. I spun around, pinning his arm that was holding the gun between me and the floor. I was beginning to lose consciousness as the blows kept coming and coming, filling my mouth with blood. I yelled out as I found his wrist and bent down, sinking my teeth into the skin as deep as i could. He howled in pain as my mouth filled with his blood as well, trying to wrench away from me. I threw my elbow back and caught him in the nose.
He groaned as his nose snapped and his lost his grip on the gun, falling back. I grabbed the gun and turned to where i thought he was...
The instant light from the muzzle flash revealed that he was right next to me, wearing a balaclava stained with red. He swung and i managed to duck just beneath it, swinging the gun around slamming it against his head. He cried out and fell back against the counter. I turned once again and fired a shot, the window above his head shattering and pieces falling to the floor. He planted his foot into my stomach and pushed me backwards, I yelled as the gun slipped out of my hand and skittered across the floor, into darkness.
"Fucking die." A deep voice growled, picking up the phone and shining the light at me, blinding me momentarily.
As soon as the video began recording he was on me, pressing his free hand into my throat while shining blinding light in my face. I gasped as his hand cut off my windpipe, clawing at his arms as I choked for air. He began humming again as he struggled to hold me down, my legs kicking at nothing.
"Hm Hm hmhmhm. Hm Hm hmhmhm..." He muttered as the light moved closer to my face, but to me it was beginning to fade. I coughed as my final breaths began to leave me, arms swinging wildly. I winced as something cut my knuckles, that I recognized as a piece of broken glass. I frantically searched for it, sliding my hand along the floor and I began to feel cold. My fingers finally grasped it and held it tightly, cutting my palm. I grunted as I put all my reaming strength into kicking upwards, catching the psychopath in the groin. He groaned and momentarily let go of my throat and the phone, which fell to the floor, but this time facing down, illuminating the whole scene before me. The man was sitting on top of me, holding his groin and swaying slightly, thick blood dripped from behind his mask.
I screamed as I threw myself upwards, swinging my arm in an arc and sticking the shard of glass deep into the mans neck. He gasped and gargle and blood sprayed from the wound, stumbling back against the counter behind him. I stood as quickly as I could and hobbled towards the back door, leaving the gurgling man behind me. I felt for Jessica along the way, but she was no where to be found, I could only hope she made it outside. I stumbled out the back door and collapsed on the grass, gasping for air. I could hear police sirens in the distance, I had never been so happy to hear any sound in my life. My face rested on the cool grass, breathing heavily as I regained myself.
"Ma'am? Are you there?" a voice sad behind me, I slowly turned my head to see Jessica's phone laying in the grass, a 911 call still running. A limp body lay next to it, hand outstretched towards the phone.
"J... Jessica." I called out, slowly dragging myself towards the body as the sirens grew closer.
"J... Jessica." I called out, slowly dragging myself towards the body as the sirens grew closer pulling onto my street. The grass became wetter and wetter as I pulled myself closer to her. I could make out that her shirt was stained around the abdomen in the moonlight.
The cops arrived seconds later, two coming to us but the rest going directly into the house, guns drawn. They tried to pull me off of her, but i was hysterical, I couldn't tell if she was breathing.
The ambulance took us both to Saint Andrews hospital and checked us in at 2:45 am. I was given some stitches and they checked my windpipe for permanent damage, but I seemed to be in the clear. Jessica was brought in to surgery immediately, the doctors said the bullet missed her vital organs, but their main concern was the amount of blood she lost.
"I've seen people come back from worse." The doctor reassured me.
The cops told me that the man was no where to be found when they searched the house, only signs of a struggle and a whole lot of blood. They later found his body about a hundred feet from our house, he tried to crawl away and quickly bled out. The cops identified the man as Andrew Cullings. I'm sure you'd like to hear that he had some personal vendetta out for the people he killed or that there was some master plan, but there wasn't. He was just a known psychopath who should have been committed long ago, and we payed the price for it.
So here I sit, waiting for Jessica to get out of surgery, typing away at my phone which had just been returned to me, the videos once again taken for evidence. It saddens me to think that I almost completely forgot about Richie, that I lost my best friend. Almost getting murdered can mess up your mourning faze, but it came back full force, and I know I will never be the same person again, even after I've moved on, and neither will Jessica. I just hope that we will be able to support each other in the coming days.
It's going to be rough.
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