A tale of weddings, betrayal, murder, and revenge. He never really liked the comparison of knots with marriage. It always made him picture someone tying a noose and hanging themselves. Marriage is ...
"Mama! Come on! I don't wanna be late for kindergarten!" Zuri whined, jumping in anticipation toward the doorway. Her tiny hands were fixed around her pink lunch box that trailed on her hip as she bounced.
"Settle down, Zuri. We have more than half an hour until school starts," Shirley groggily replied, taking a sip of her steaming cup of coffee.
"But I wanna be extra early!" Zuri proclaimed.
Shirley shook her head as she continued to blow and sip her drink. She took her time getting dressed for work while ignoring Zuri's cries of protest. She walked downstairs with a scolding Zuri tagging behind. When they reached the parking lot, Shirley noticed a foreign car. It was strangely familiar, yet unfamiliar at the same time. She looked inside its passenger window hoping to clarify her memory. Inside was nothing more than the clean beige seats and various pens and papers littered in the cup holder. When she stepped back, she heard a metallic crack underneath her shoe. On the ground was a ring of keys, one of which belonged to the car. Who would be so careless?
Then, she remembered Scarlett. She tried to recall any sounds of a car starting last night or any other signs indicating her leaving. Did Scarlett make it home? For now, Shirley kept it in the back of her mind. She had to drop Zuri off at school first.
Scarlett died in her dream. She must've been dead because Annie was right in front of her. She was in her wedding dress, smiling down at her. Scarlett felt no wind, but Annie's hair was swaying back and forth over her shoulders. Her blonde strands glistening like gold in the sunshine. Her veil danced along as her dress fluttered like delicate butterfly wings. Scarlett opened her mouth to speak, but in less than a second Annie ran. She ran faster than she had ever seen her; leaving her white heeled shoes behind. Scarlett got up to chase after her, but she couldn't even see her sister anymore. Still, she sprinted across the soft pillows of clouds underneath her bare feet. She took the same path she saw Annie take while letting her intuition guide her the rest of the way. Then, she felt something beneath her give in. The ground of cotton swallowed her whole foot. She tried to pull it out, but it held on tight like quicksand. She helplessly pulled harder, hoping she could still catch up to Annie. Her other foot began to sink in. Suddenly, her whole body was being consumed by the white river. She was falling slowly. And Annie was gone. . .
The stranger was leaning against the cracked window. His body was curled up to fit on the window's ledge as he leaned against the glass in slumber. It was a full moon outside, the stars cluttered together like dozens of holes on black paper held up to a lamp. Scarlett didn't know where she was or how far she was from civilization. There was a handkerchief gagging her and she felt the heavy rope constrict against her hands and feet as she struggled to move. Of course, he had tied her hands behind her back so it was much more difficult for her to get into a sitting position. When she succeeded, she rested her body against a cold wall that sent a wave of shivers down her back. Still finding it uncomfortable she kicked to elevate herself, sending an empty bottle across the floor in the process. The bottle traveled across the gravel until it hit a wooden crate with a loud clink!
It was enough to wake her kidnapper. She saw him arch his back in awareness of the tiny sound. He turned his face toward her, but she couldn't see him clear enough in the darkness. He made his way toward her. As he approached Scarlett, she could see his dark green eyes in the moonlight. She saw that he was grinning with a crooked smile. He knelt down in front of her, smirking underneath her
"Who are you?" he asked, pulling down the handkerchief to her chin.
Scarlett screamed at the opportunity, praying that someone would hear. She shouted at the top of her lungs, begging for help. But the stranger just watched her apathetically as if he were patiently waiting for her to lose her voice. Scarlett noticed that he didn't seem the least bit affected by her screams and she knew that there was no one else nearby.
"Finished?" Gerard asked cooly. "Are you gonna tell me who you are?"
"I should ask you the same thing," Scarlett spat.
"Too bad," Gerard replied. "I asked first."
"I'm not telling you anything," she snapped.
Gerard sighed and rolled his eyes. He reached in his back pocket and pulled out a knife. The silver illuminated by the night sky. There wasn't a single stain of blood on it. Scarlett felt the cold weapon underneath her throat.
"What's your name?" he asked calmly.
"Samantha," Scarlett lied.
"That's not what your ID says," Gerard whispered. "Scarlett."
Scarlett's restrained hands felt around for her wallet, confirming its loss.
"What are you doing with Ray?" Gerard asked, pressing the knife further into her skin.
If it were someone else, Scarlett would've let him slit her throat. Then maybe she could've been with Annie again. But she couldn't let her sister's murderer get her, too. She knew the moment Ray's name left his lips who this stranger was.
"You killed my sister," Scarlett said, gritting her teeth.
"You didn't answer my question," Gerard pushed.
"I'm not doing anything with Ray," Scarlett replied. "He's just a friend."
"Why don't I believe you?" Gerard asked Scarlett as if she would know.
"Well, it's the truth," Scarlett scoffed.
"And what has your friend told you?" Gerard questioned. "About me?"
"All I know is that your name is Gerard and you used to be his best friend."
"Used to be,"Gerard repeated somberly.
He released the knife's pressure from her throat and retreated it back to his pocket. He could feel the heat of her anger in the air. It's been awhile since he felt such warmth. It was difficult to come across when living a life in the bitter cold. He walked back toward the window and stared at the moon.
"You were out to kill me," he said softly.
"And why shouldn't I?" Scarlett retorted.
Gerard didn't answer. He just turned around to smile at her, again.
"You will be my downfall," Gerard told her. "I have a feeling that it's finally time for everyone to know the truth."
"Then why don't you just kill me now?" Scarlett asked boldly.
"Because I'm not going out without someone knowing the truth."
He wasn't making any sense to Scarlett. He claims that she will be his downfall, yet he had her helplessly trapped in an abandoned warehouse. And what truth was he talking about?
"Just because you didn't get your happiness doesn't mean you can take it away from other people," Scarlett said. "You can't justify murder."
"You think this is all about Bianca?" Gerard said with a laugh. "This goes beyond her. Why would I wanna waste anymore time thinking about her? No, it goes way back."
Scarlett didn't know what to expect. She couldn't understand Gerard's intentions of keeping her there. It was almost as if he wanted her to kill him.
"When was the last time you heard from her or saw her?" Shirley asked, the urgency evident in her voice.
"She called to tell me that Frank killed himself," Bob said. "That's the last time I've heard from her."
"The last time I saw her was when she took Frank to the hospital," Ray added.
It was no use. They had no clues as to her whereabouts.
"Shirley, is there anything you can do?" Bob asked desperately.
"I filed a missing persons report but, other than that, all we can do is wait," Shirley sighed.
"I lost one of my cousins already," Bob prayed. "Don't let me lose the other."
Ray felt something burning in his throat. His secret climbing its way from his gut to his mouth. He had let it grow into a monster. A monster that cost the lives of dozens of girls. He couldn't let it get her, too.
"I know who took her," Ray announced.
It was time to face his worst fear. He had to slay the demon he had unleashed.