“Hey, so what you up to?” Sarah asked. She was smiling that broad smile she often wore, especially when they were out of school. Lizzie looked over to her, as she just finished hefting the last of the suitcases into her parents car. Her parents were going on a weekend get away, which was frustrating as Lizzie had just turned eighteen last week and wanted to go somewhere herself. Now she was stuck staying home and watching her brother.
“Nothing. I’m stuck on nurse duty.”
“Eww, that sucks. Just for the night?”
Lizzie pointed to the suitcases. She never knew why her parents had to pack so much shit when they were only going away for a couple of days. It was like they were running off somewhere and would never return. She swore her mother had most of her clothes spread out into two bags.
“For the weekend.”
“And they packed that much?”
“I know right? I swear they’re running off and leaving us here.”
“Maybe. You can be a handful.” Lizzie looked at her friend and gave her a playful shove.
“And your not? They’re running to get away from you most likely.”
Sarah started looking more closely at how many bags were in the car and what kind of stuff they were taking with them.
“You know, your mom packs almost as much stuff as you do for a one night stay over at your aunts.”
Lizzie glared back at Sarah but couldn’t hold the expression as she broke out laughing.
“Hey, you try going to her house and not packing everything. She has no internet. Really? Who today lives with no internet. It’s like, going to visit the stone ages. I have to bring some kinds of entertainment and I pack extra incase she decided she also didn’t need electricity.”
“Who are you girls talking about?” Lizzie’s dad came out of the house and he smiled at them. Did the look linger on Sarah just a little bit longer than when he smiled at his own daughter? Lizzie couldn’t tell, and why did that matter. Lizzie smiled back, looking at his pale face. She knew he had been upset lately. Something was going on, and as much as both her parents tried to hide it, she could tell. They hadn’t been fighting in front of her, but there had been a lot of hushed words and then silence when she entered a room.
“Aunt Rhonda,” Lizzie said as she reached up to close the back on the SUV.
“Hold up, let me put these in there,” her dad said. She stopped and he tossed in his laptop bag as well as her mom’s IPad case. “There’s nothing wrong with your mom’s sister. She just has her own…quirks and doesn’t trust the outside world.”
“Much like Uncle <Insert name>.” Lizzie added as she closed the door.
“I hope not. He’s got his own problems.”
“Oh really?” Sarah asked. “You know, I think you’re the only family on the planet that can claim not only one hermitted relative, but two. It’s like you two were made for each other.”
Was that a dig? Lizzie looked at Sarah who was studying her father. Lizzie didn’t know why, but she had a thought trying to break free from the back of her mind. A little voice was trying to speak up and tell her that something was off between these two.
But that was crazy, and Sarah was right. It was like her only two extended family were both trying to hide themselves from the rest of the world. It really was strange. She barely thought of her aunt as she hadn’t visited her in over a year and was often only sent there while her parents went on long trips.
“Yeah, well, we can’t pick our family.” Lizzie’s dad said as he was double checking his pockets. Lizzie knew the ritual as he was checking to see what he might be forgetting. He was still talking to them, but mentally he was checking off a list in his head going over everything he thought they might need. Sometimes he would mumble it aloud, and other times he would even say it aloud mid conversation.
This time was different though, as she watched him from having that unfocused look, to completely dazing out. He drifted away from them, his words growing distant as he looked off into the distance. Then he snapped back and looked at them as though he was surprised they were still there.
“Maybe you should go to your aunts this weekend. The both of you, take your brother with.”
Lizzie had looked at him, her mouth dropping open.
“No way, you know I got that thing tomorrow and Sarah and I plan on going to the movies later.” Lizzie didn’t want to mention that she had planned on going to a book reading on Saturday as her thing. Sarah was her best friend, but she still would tease her about her going to see her favorite author read a chapter from his latest book. Books weren’t Sarah’s thing as she was more about clothes and make up.
“I’m just thinking it might be better…”
“Dad, I’m eighteen now. I’m a big girl.”
“What’s going on?” Liz’s mother asked as she came out. She handed her husband his cell phone and he smiled, the mental light coming on that the object he had been trying to find had been realized and found.
“Dad thinks I should go to Aunt Rhonda’s when I have stuff planned this weekend.” Lizzie said, her lower lip already extending in a pout. She knew it was childish, but also that her mom would often cave to it. That pout was why she had the complete Harry Potter collectors edition books as well as the hardcovers that came out individually. She knew how to get her way.
“Don’t worry hun. I’m sure he’s just kidding.”
“I don’t know, it would be a bad idea, and it’d make sure someone was watching out for (insert name).”
“They’ll he fine.”
“Besides, Lizzie’s got me to take care of her.” Sarah said, nearly bouncing with the giddiness of teenage girl trying to emulate a toddler in a candy store.
“I guess,” her father exasperated as he walked around to the drivers side of the car. Lizzie’s mother usually drove when they were going on trips, but Lizzie had over heard her complaining of a headache earlier. She’d asked her dad drive, and grumbling, he’d said okay.
Now he was looking like he’d eaten something that hadn’t agreed with him, his face pale and grave. He let out a burp that looked painful and after opening the car door, he paused to place his hand gently over his stomach.
“Dad, you okay?”
“You okay to drive hun?”
“Mr. Rogers, your not looking to good.”
“I’m fine,” he said, forcing a smile as he looked at each of them to reassure them.
Lizzie gave her mom a hug, but kept looking at her dad. He seemed to be holding the car door for support with his one hand and had pulled his other away from his stomach to play with the car keys.
“Have a good weekend.” Her mother said, her smile tight as she kept following her daughters glances with a concerned look of her own.
“You too. I love you and I’ll keep a good eye on (Name)”
“Promise? Your not just going to leave him with the nurses all weekend, you’ll actually hang out.”
Lizzie hurried around the car and gave her dad a big hug. He smiled down at her and that was when she saw the red rim around the center of his eye. She knew what it meant. They were going to die. She knew it and she tried desperately to grab her father, to stop him from going. She tried to turn to her mom and tell her not to get into the car. She wanted to steal the keys and throw them into the bushes in the neighbors yard.
She didn’t do any of it, and it was then that she realized she’d become a passenger in her own body. The events progressed without her able to change any of it. She was screaming, but her mouth never moved. Her father gave her that little peck on her cheek as he often did, and then he looked over to Sarah, jokingly telling her to keep an eye on his little girl.
“Sure thing,” she’d said, while flashing that half smile she’d use whenever she was playing at being mischievous.
Then he got in the car, his mom already in the passenger seat and fighting with the seat belt lock as it refused to fasten.
Lizzie could see that same woman, the incredible person who gave birth to her, hanging impaled on a tree, the seat belt having not held her when the semi slammed into the driver’s side of the car. The force of the sudden collision had thrown her and she had gone high into the nearby woods, a limb spearing her. She didn’t die immediately, but suffered in agony, calling out for Lizzie as she struggle to pull herself free.
Lizzie smiled and waved, “You guys have a good trip,” her mouth said while tried to plead with her parents, her mind begging them not to go.
Her dad climbed into the driver’s seat and she saw with complete clearing, his legs trapped under the steering wheel while his torso, severed by force alone as he had forgotten to wear his seatbelt, was through the windshield and in the front grill of the semi. His head was crushed into metal, eyes liquified by force and drizzled down his face like white cream, and mingled with red blood and green antifreeze.
Lizzie was gagging in her mind, watching helplessly as the car backed down the driveway. Sarah at some point had come up behind her and wrapped her arm over Lizzie’s shoulders.
“Don’t ya worry. I’ll take good care of you.” Sarah had accentuated the word ‘good’ and Lizzie looked over her shoulder to see that grin growing as she looked at Lizzie. No longer was it the Sarah of her childhood standing there. This was the new one, the one Lizzie had only recently come to know, and Lizzie no longer trusted that smile as Sarah hated her teeth.
“We’ll have all kinds of fun…”
That smug smile. It had always been Sarah’s thing, to flash that smile that always said she was a little smarter than everyone else in the room. She would just walk into someplace and cock her hip to the side, smile, and Lizzie had felt the air as everyone waited for her next move. Sarah, who she had always though was her…
She’d been putting off dealing with the revelation that Sarah had something to do with her parents death. Even as she remembered it, she still could only partially believe it. It had been a week since Sarah had told her and Lizzie had been in shock, not able to believe it.
That was over. As Sarah walked around from the side of the house, she was flashing that same annoying smile. Lizzie was done not dealing with it.
It didn’t matter if the Englishman was out there walking around the house. Let him have her. Let him have the clock, the house, every damned thing he wanted. Right now, she only wanted one thing and that was to put that bitch down into her place.
Where had this anger come from? A tiny voice in the back of her head tried to challenge her, but she pushed it away as she stepped out of the barn, her eyes locked on Sarah. For a brief moment, when their eyes met, she saw the fear come into Sarah’s eyes, and then it was gone as well as the smile.
“So you killed my parents?” Lizzie growled as she rushed across the snow covered grass. Sarah was already backpedaling. Lizzie sped up as she saw the other girl getting nervous. “You killed them? You!?”
It was as much of an accusation as it was a question. She reached to were her friend was and went to slap her. Sarah was quick and she ducked the blow, spinning around out of reach of Lizzie. Lizzie had been overextended putting her weight into it and now stumbled into the side of the house which she hit with a solid thump.
“Look who finally grew herself some balls.” Sarah said, regaining some of her composure. “Now to chop them off.”
Lizzie didn’t get to turn around. She was still trying to get her balance, using the house to guide her when she felt a force from behind her slam her into the wall. Then her hair was pulled back. She couldn’t see what had her, but heard Sarah laughing as she was getting tugged forward, her face being pressed against the siding.
“Yeah, you still harping on it. Yes. I killed them. I’ll kill you too.”
Lizzie felt her scalp alight on fire as her hair was pulled back and then she was falling. Nothing held her up and so her ass landed on the ground, hard, a few feet back from where she had been being grounded into the house.
Sarah was standing over her, smiling as she looked down at her.
When Sarah touched her, could grab her, Lizzie wasn’t sure how to describe it. It wasn’t like a hand had grabbed her, where she could feel the texture and solidness of it. If someone off the street came up to her and slammed her or choked her with their hands, she would feel the warmth, the hardness of their touch, the roughness of the callouses on their skin. It would be something tangible and, if someone did that to her, she could fight back, bite the hand and dig her nails into it.
When Sarah attacked her, it never felt that way. It had to be because Sarah and the rest of them were dead because when they attacked, all she felt was force and pull. She saw, when she was facing them, the hands they used, but she never physically felt them. She didn’t know how else to describe it. It was like some invisible force was being used but it wasn’t them directly.
Lizzie wasn’t sure what she had been thinking when she had ran out there to attack Sarah.
Because you hadn’t been thinking. That’s what you get when you let your rage do that for you. You end up on a snow covered ground, cold and wet and getting your ass kicked.
The voice was right, and now Lizzie realized she had to actually be scared. Sarah had her trapped. She was on the side of the house now. The front and back door were both out of view. She had no where to go and Sarah must have known it as well as she was lauding it over Lizzie with that pretentious smile.
“Now what are you going to do?”
Lizzie wasn’t sure what she could do, but she twisted herself in a roll so she could quickly get her knee under her. This got her standing in a run, and she was going to run away. Then there was a tug around her midsection and she could feel herself turning, being redirected toward the wall again. She kept running, an immeasurable weight wrapped around her, but she continued to fight. Each step was a tremendous amount of effort. I bet you miss those work out sessions Jessica always tried to get you too. Her teeth were clenched and she felt the sweat beading on her forehead.
“Where do you think your going?” Sarah grunted from behind her. Somehow Sarah was managing to hold her. With how small Sarah’s frame was, there had to be more to it to slow Liz down. It felt like she was tied to an anvil as the harder she tried, her breath now coming in short gasps, the little ground she gained.
So Lizzie did the opposite. She switched momentum, pushing herself back and pitching her elbow high. It was something she’d seen Jessica do on the few occasions she’d seen her friend training and knew that it was what self defense coaches would teach in this situation.
The blow never connected to anything solid, but she did feel the grip on her let loose. This resulted in her again off balance and losing her footing. She fell only inches from the siding, but hey, at least you didn’t hit the wall this time. She barely had time to process the thought as she was already moving, crawling towards the front of the house, working to get on her feet.
“You fucking bitch.” Sarah said behind her and Lizzie knew she was close. Before she was all the way up, she twisted and lunged at where she’d heard he voice. Sarah was right where she thought she’d be, but she was quick, sure footed, and had the agility of someone who had danced nearly all her life. She was out of Lizzie’s way, and once again Lizzie fell to the ground.
Lizzie was beginning to feel like a bull. She was being toyed with. She could tell that Sarah was just having fun playing with her while she waited to take her kill shot.
…Or was she waiting for something else?
The snow continued to fall around her and she felt the chill as the little flakes melted on her arm. Was it just her imagination or was it getting darker around her. The trees shadows grew longer, stretching forwards her.
Why would the trees have shadows? It’s snowing, the days overcast, where was the light coming from. There wasn’t anything she could see.
He was coming…
She felt it in her stomach, a growing anticipation, expecting him to appear at any time.
She had to get back into the house. It would be safe there. She’d be warm, and it would all just go away.
Lizzie turned to see that Sarah was watching her, her hip cocked to the side and her hand resting on her side.
“What? Finally figured it out?”
Lizzie didn’t know what Sarah was talking about, but didn’t car. Lizzie had to go through her to get to the house.
Lizzie dashed for her. This time she went in like a linebacker going for the tackle. She kept her body low, her arms wide, and moved quickly to go in for the hit. She had fire that burned in her eyes and she kept sight on Sarah as she moved. So, when Sarah didn’t move but was somehow gone when Lizzie ran through where she should have been, that she knew this was a fight she could not win.
Lizzie kept running. She hadn’t overextended this time, or stopped when Sarah had disappeared. She kept her footing and put on the speed. She was aiming towards the back of the house, having started in that direction and refusing to take the time to turn around.
“Get back here you bitch!” Sarah called after her.
“Not.. on.. your..life..” Lizzie panted from exertion, the fight having worn her out more than she’d realized.
“I’m going to get you.” Sarah yelled.
Lizzie didn’t turn around, though she could feel that Sarah was catching up to her. She couldn’t stop. She made it to the corner and then neared the back door of the house. She knew she hadn’t locked it.
The closer she got, she put on another burst of speed to reach it. She could feel something brushing against her shoulder, like someone reaching out to pull her back, but wasn’t quite able to reach her. She might have been imagining it, but she wasn’t going to take that chance. Once she reached the door, she would lose all speed as she had to stop to open it. She would fight the bitch then.
So when the door opened in front of her, a dark shape she couldn’t make out standing just inside the threshold, Lizzie didn’t take the time to worry about it. She just felt a strong tug against her shoulder when she launched herself in the open doorway, and quickly scrambled to get her feet past the unseen barrier.
“Close it. Close the door close it!” She screamed.
The door slammed shut behind her, and Lizzie turned to see who had been in her house.