Malevolent - Chapter 18
A high pitched scream pierced the night. The blood drained from my veins. I shot up, only just realising how heavy and tired I was. Another twisted shriek of terror and alarm sent chills up and down my spine. Regretting that I had forgotten once again to keep a weapon close by, I stood up and ran back to my room. The cries were so desperate. So strange. I had to be sure that someone hadn’t been hurt. As I burst through the door, hair wildly blowing in my face, Mina jumped out of bed instantaneously. “Kira?”
“What’s going on?”
“What do you mean?”
“The screaming. Who’s screaming?”
“Where have you been?”
“Did you hear it? Was it you?”
I didn’t need an answer. I ran in and out of the bathroom and returned to meet her in the centre of the room.
“What’s going on?” Bryony moaned only just waking up from the racket I was making. “It’s only four in the morning, Ki!”
“Four?” I shot a glance at my watch. She was right.
I could feel Mina’s eyes studying me as I screwed up my face in hands.
“No, no I heard something. Even if I was dreaming, someone screaming woke me up.”
“Nobody has been screaming,” she finally said in a grave voice.
I turned to the door, “I have to be sure-”
As I moved to check up on Lexie, she pulled me back, her slender fingers wrapping all the way around my wrist. “You’ve been dreaming. Lexie is fine.”
I pulled away from her. “You were asleep. I was in the study. I’m capable of telling the difference between dreams and reality, thank you!”
“Kira, what were you doing in the study at this time of night?”
The lights flickered as she turned on the switch and Bryony grunted in pain as the brightness caught her off guard.
“Stop changing the subject. I was working if you must know. Then Ian came and-”
“Ian?” Her face brightened up. I knew what she was thinking.
“It wasn‘t a prank.”
“You don’t know-”
“And neither do you! Lexie could be locked in there, scared stiff. He could be in there with her, hands around her neck just like he did to me!”
“What are you talking about? Who had their hands around you neck, Ki?”
“No, I can’t. Not when-”
Suddenly, a twisted shriek of alarm and panic interrupted our argument. A shriek so close, so desperate we both jumped around and stared in horror at Bryony, sat up in bed, with wide eyes watching the blood running down her hand. Her scream. That was the one I had just heard. The one I woke up to. It was Bryony screaming. Half hoping she was experiencing the same horrible dreams like me and half praying she wasn’t, I leapt to her bedside alongside Mina, expecting scratches all down her arms. It was only on a closer look, I discovered that there was a huge red stain stretching all over the bed sheets. Bryony stood up, disgusted to find herself drenched in the blood but after a few moments, certain it wasn’t hers. Whilst Mina interrogated her about any falls or cuts she had recently had, I inspected the area closely and discovered where the blood came from when a droplet fell upon my arm whilst pulling back the covers. The bottom of the mattress above was soaked through, so much so that it began to leak.
“It’s Helena…” I croaked, pulling myself up the ladder to the top.
All I could make out was a lump in the sheets and blood, completely soaking them. I bottled everything up and threw off the covers, expecting to see an obviously wounded Helena unconscious underneath. But when I completely got rid of the sheets, there was nobody underneath. Just a puddle of red liquid.
Mina and Bryony watched eagerly below, getting the message instantly.
“She’s gone? Where has she gone? Helena! HELENA!” Mina cried.
“Don’t panic,” I said firmly, getting back down.
“Don’t panic?” Bryony yelled. “I’m covered in her blood. Look at all that- there has to be half her body weight here!”
Mina started to cry.
“Calm down,” I ordered, pulling on a sweater. “You guys try to find her outside- stay together. If she doesn’t turn up, go to the main office and report it.”
They nodded and scurried through the door. I waited until they were out the dorm and then quickly sprinted to room five. Lexie answered the door, hair straight and sleek.
“I don’t care that it’s late and I don’t care that you hate me,” I cried, pushing open the door before she had chance to close it.
“What?” she spat.
“Helena is missing.”
“And why should I care?”
“There’s blood all over-”
She leant on the door frame in impatience.
“It’s just- has anything like this happened to you before?”
“What if it had? Wouldn’t change anything. It won‘t make a difference.”
“It will to me. I know you have some history with the Malevolent. I‘m not stupid.”
“Then if I were you, I’d drop it. Don’t concern yourself with things that aren’t you’re problem.”
“As long as Helena is missing, it is my problem.”
“Well, it’s not mine.”
“That doesn’t matter. When did you get so cold, Lexie?”
Sighing, she threw me a thick torch from behind the door.
“Someone bleeding that much couldn’t just disappear in thin air. Improvise,” she said before I could ask.
I slipped my foot in the door before she attempted to close it. “Don’t follow. Don’t fall.”
I wasn’t sure what to expect, she looked kind of tired at the time. I wanted her face to drop- to show signs of recognition or fear. Instead, she just laughed in my face. “You don‘t know the half of it.”
The door shut.
A little disappointed, I returned back to my room and searched for clues. It wasn’t long before I picked up the trail but with the torch it proved a lot harder to keep track. A number of times I had to look around to find it again.
“Helena! Helena!” I called, cupping my hands around my mouth.
Stumbling on a paving stone, the torch rolled from my open hands. I scrambled on it on all fours but froze to the spot when I saw the bare feet caught in the beam of light, standing right in front of me. Before I had chance, they snatched it from me, disguising themselves behind the bright light. I sat up and shielded my eyes.
“Go back, Kira.”
“Helena?” I questioned, recognising her voice. “What are you doing?”
“Don’t follow me-” she warned.
“Where are you going?” I said, standing up.
There was a defensive tension in the air.
“I can’t tell you that. Please, just go,” she dropped the torch to reveal herself, clean and blood-free.
“On your bed, there’s-”
“Blood, I know.”
“You’re trying to fake your own death?” I stammered.
Her face dropped. “Is that what it looks like?”
I nodded and her eyes bulged as something settled in her mind. Hesitating, she looked back at the woodland and continued her journey towards them at full speed.
“What are you doing?”
“I’m going to get answers.”
“Don’t follow, don’t fall, Helena!”
“What?” she said, turning around sharply.
“You’ve never heard that?”
“That’s what she says. Laura, she’s warning us to stay away. Don’t you see? The blood on the bed, leading you into the forest. He’s trying to lead you away into the night. You go now and you can’t come back!”
There was silence for a while. She attempted to argue back a few times but checked herself.
“How did you track me down?”
I didn’t answer, not twigging what she was getting at.
“You followed the footprints of blood,” she answered. “And that’s what I’m doing.”
I suddenly realised that the footprints were not hers and my heart skipped a beat.
“You want answers, I’m going to get them,” she said and continued her search.
I jogged beside her, helping half out of curiosity and half out of desperation. If this was a prank, this would all be over. We would catch the culprit. We would be at peace. If this wasn’t a prank, we could stumble upon something either really important, or really dangerous. This was a risk we were going to take.
I asked Helena how the blood came to be there. She told me that she didn’t know. She went to sleep in her bed and the next thing she knew, she woke up on the sofa.
“At first I thought I was in trouble and wondered whether I had done something horrible but there was no blood on me. The footprints weren‘t mine. So I looked for you but you were asleep in the Study” she said, whilst we weaved in between the buildings.
“I just figured, someone could be hurt or taking a prank over the top. Either way, someone was in our room again. Hopefully, it’s not us in trouble.”
“We are in trouble. How do we explain this to Mina and Bryony?”
“I’d have thought that our good health was more a problem than explaining things to Mina and Bry.”
“But, we have to tell them, right?”
She shook her head. “You tried, remember? If only Ian hadn’t-”
“Austin won’t believe me,” I interrupted, almost sorrowfully. I couldn’t blame him but it hurt that he was oblivious to my stress.
“He will if-” her voice trailed off as she stopped in her tracks.
We both looked at each other and without another word, we slowly stepped into the dorm in which the footprints disappeared. The halls were lit by dim artificial lights. The patterned carpet was faded and stained, resembling that of an old rug from the 70’s. A smell that can only be described as ‘boys’ drifted out into the hall. I crouched down and rubbed the red stain in between my fingers. It was still wet.
“Oh god,” Helena uttered, already half way down the hall. “I don’t- I can’t-”
I moved beside her and stared at the golden number upon the black door. 264.
“They wouldn’t-” I said, reaching out for the handle.
She grabbed my wrist and pulled me back, hushing me as she did so. “We don’t know what they’re doing in there-” she whispered. “We don’t have solid proof of anything yet.”
“Helena, there is a blood trail leading all the way from our room to theirs.”
“We can’t just barge in in the middle of the night.”
“They do it to us.”
“Wait- what if it’s a trap?”
“If it’s trap, all the better a reason to go in. They could be in trouble.”
“That’s what he wants you to do! Don’t you see? He tried getting rid of you, if he was smart enough to do that then he can make us all fall into his trap.”
I thought it over in my head, wondering how I could be so stupid. ‘Don’t follow, don’t fall’ quite literally meant: Don’t follow the footprints, don‘t fall for it.
My eyes burnt through the door. “I need to know what’s going on,” I growled through gritted teeth.
“Come on,” she said and to my disappointment dragged me outside.
Around the back of the boys dorm, I dropped to the floor and bit my knuckle in anger. Helena checked we were alone first before joining me on the ground, holding herself together.
“I haven’t been honest,” she admitted, positioning herself squarely.
I turned to her sharply, waiting for her to confess. “About?”
She bowed her head. “We’ve been watching you- well, watching everyone really”
Frowning, I sat up and paid full attention. “What do you mean?”
She took a deep breathe. “You see, on the first day I arrived here, I heard voices coming from the walls in our room. At first I thought it was neighbours but then I met Lexie and I realised that there were no-one else in the dorm. I ignored it and that night I heard it again and then I heard you screaming. Coincidence, I said.”
She paused, thinking things through.
“But the next day I was on my computer and it just went static. Then something came flying through the window and hit the wall. Another one came and smashed one of my painting jars. That’s when I saw someone, a boy definitely, outside the window. I took after him but he had disappeared. By the second night I knew someone was getting a bit too familiar with these pranks when you woke up screaming. So, I decided to do something about it. I waited until you were asleep and I rang Rain. He gave me a tip about Ian so I went to see them. They didn’t believe me.”
“You never thought of the Malevolent?”
“Of course I did, but there was no research I could do to prove it. Ryder put me straight, anyway. I wanted to catch the culprit red handed so I met Rain the next day and we stole a camera from Ian.”
“You stole it?” I gasped, intrigued by her story and relieved that I wasn’t alone.
“He didn’t miss it, surprisingly. Anyway, we set it up in the our room and monitored everything that happened in the dorm when everyone was alone. Since then, nothing else happened to me but something strange was still happening to you. We didn’t pick up anything from the footage at first regarding this Laura. In fact, you didn’t even move, at times. You were just sleeping and then you started freaking out. We were there by coincidence the last time Laura came and we went straight to Rain‘s room where the footage was sent. There was nothing.”
“I remember that day. You thought I was crazy.”
“I did. I questioned Mina about your pills and I realised that you hadn’t been taking them. Ryder caught me and Rain looking at the footage and thought it was Christmas. Another little test subject for him to add to his collection.”
“You know about Rain?”
“Of course I did but I couldn‘t tell anyone. Anyway, Ryder took the pills from you so I could study them and do research. Hallucinations are extremely rare so I knew that there was a very slim chance the pills were causing your dreams. So we tried sending you to deep sleep but whether that will work or not, we‘ll have to see.”
“No way. I‘m not taking them.”
“What’s the big deal?”
“The big deal is that you’ve been using me as a science rat without me knowing.”
“It wouldn’t be fair if I told you what was happening-”
“It isn’t fair anyway! It’s not like you were being observed as well. And what‘s worse, you still think it‘s all in my head.”
“No, I don’t! Listen, I watched the footage of you before the shower attack. I watched it over and over again, trying to make something out. Then I changed the contrast settings and the more I did it, the more I saw.”
My eyes stung as I neglected the need to blink for quite some time.
“I don’t know why the camera couldn’t pick it up with normal settings but no-one came through the window from what we saw. We just saw what smashed it-” she hesitated.
“What was it? What broke the glass?” I demanded, knowing that the more time she had, the more lies she could tell.
She looked at me, gravely. “It was a tub of pills. Your pills…”
To be continued...
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