Jolene had drawn a crowd. Scarlet and Stephen were shaking her shoulders, slapping her cheeks, and shouting her name, attempting to wake her. But her eyes would not open.
She had fallen asleep, which went unnoticed by either of her friends. If Scarlet had noticed, she would have left her sleep anyways, because she didn't dream of Freddy.
Jolene's blood pooled around her, staining the ground with crimson.
"Jolene for God's sake, wake up!" Scarlet cried. Jolene's head turned slowly to Scarlet; she could see that there was a small, sweet yet sad smile on her lips. Jolene extended her arm out to Scarlet. Her delicate fingers were just barely brushing the smooth fabric of Scarlet's dress. Scarlet took her hand, but was forced to let go quickly when she was shoved her out of the way by the drawing crowd.
Stephen took Scarlet's arm and led her out of the crowd. When they exited, Scarlet saw growing tracks of tears run down his pale face. She raised a hand and wiped a single tear off of his nose.
"It's gonna be alright," Stephen whispered. The thought that she had said that earlier that day to Jolene transparently crossed her mind.
Both of them watched as her body was being carried away.
"All of them are gone," Stephen whispered more to himself than to Scarlet. "Scarlet, is it my time to die now?"
Scarlet stared at him, shocked. "Stephen, no more of my friends are going to die." Scarlet didn't realize how wrong she was.
Stephen and Scarlet walked slowly over to the playground both of them had been at the previous day. They didn't change out of their blood soaked clothing, didn't wipe the tears from their eyes.
They both sat in silence. Scarlet had stopped crying although her face was still wet. It was all too much. And crying didn't make it better. Crying was like letting go of your feelings in those small, salty drops of water that dripped from your eyes when something terribly painful had happened. Scarlet didn't want to let go of her feelings for Cory or Jolene.
Cackling laughter sounding behind the two of them and they whirled around to face and old, grimy lady. She certainly looked the part of 'crazy cat lady', with her hunched back and large purse clutched to her side like a lifeline, but probably full of cat food.
She cackled laughter again at their surprised expressions.
"You," she said in a wavering voice, pointing her shrivelled finger at Scarlet, "You are a disease! A disease to you friends! A disease to your family! And they're all dying. Because of you." Her voice had not the slightest hint of sympathy in it.
"Excuse me, do I know who you are?" Scarlet asked, becoming suspicious.
"No, no," she replied in an overjoyed tone. "But I know who you are. And you're best to stay away from everyone. How many of your friends have to die because you don't understand: you're infecting them. They would never have died in their dreams if it weren't for you. You're best to leave this town, leave it and don't show your face again."
They lady cackled one more time and turned to leave. Scarlet and Stephen let her, and exchanged puzzled expressions.
"Do you think she's right?" Scarlet asked some time afterwards. Stephen shrugged.
"You do think it's my fault, don't you!" Scarlet shouted. Stephen shook his head slowly. The fire in Scarlet's eyes died instantly, and she took a seat beside him.
"I think," Stephen started, his voice barely more than a whisper, "that you are introducing the killer to us. But of course it's unintentional. And you can't be anti-social. If it's teenagers that this guy wants to kill, then let's give him teenagers. Come to school on Monday." With that last sentence, Stephen got up and left Scarlet alone.
Scarlet didn't return home for hours, and when she got to the front door she was just in time to answer a phone call from her mother.
Her mother sounded awful. She sounded fragile, hurt, and tortured. Scarlet could only imagine what she looked like. Sunken eyes, hair a mess, and no respect for personal hygiene.
Scarlet wasn't paying attention to what her mother was saying, but mumbling 'Yeah' and 'Uh-huh' in the right places. And it didn't matter because her mother was only speaking gibberish.
"Do you want to talk to Jack-" I think he's home, Scarlet was about to say when her mother started shrieking on the other end. Scarlet heard nurses in the background trying to calm her and silence her violent screams. Scarlet threw the phone down onto the dock, and sighed.
Scarlet made two grilled cheese sandwiches, one for her and one for Jack. As she was just about to dig in, Jack waltzed through the front door, perfectly sober. His eyes were as dark as the circles underneath, his skin was pale and the way he slumped in his chair as he plopped down suggested that he was not in a good condition.
"Here," Scarlet said and slid a plate with the second sandwich across the table.
"Thanks," he mumbled. They ate in silence for a while, and when Scarlet was about half done she said in a cautious tone, "You know, something very strange happened today."
Jack looked up from his barely eaten food and stared at her face intently.
"Stephen and I were in the park after the funeral," she said and choked on her words as she omitted Jolene's death. "And some old woman approached me. Told me I was diseased or something. Because my friends were dying from Freddy."
"That is interesting," Jack said, but his tone showed that he clearly was not interested.
"And then Stephen, I think that he said this but I'm not sure, he said that if I'm a disease, then I could 'infect' the kids at school for Freddy to kill."
Jack's eyes lit up with greed. He obviously hated children.
"And Jolene died today as well." Scarlet stood up and hurried from the room with her meal left uneaten.
The next few sleepless days (and nights) went by slowly. Scarlet spent most of the time clutching the photo of her father.
She arrived at school early the next Monday, and she searched the crowd of teenagers for Stephen. Eventually she found his bowed head in the crowd and made her way towards him.
"Scarlet, you showed!" He said cheerfully. They walked side by side talking, and with every word Scarlet said Stephen nodded enthusiastically, with an eager smile on his face. A few people pointed and laughed at him.
In classes, Scarlet frequently turned around to Stephen, where he looked awfully lonely with two empty desks beside him where their late friends used to sit.
"Scarlet!" One teacher shouted enthusiastically. "Great to have you back!" Scarlet mumbled a thanks and continued on her way.
They had to go in pairs for one class (Scarlet was sure it was English class) and she got paired up with one of the most popular girls in the class. When she saw this, she muttered, "Slut" under her breath and smiled when she heard Stephen in hysterics behind her.
The girl, whose name was Rosie, was worse than Scarlet thought. She wore a low cut shirt with purple leopard print on it, and a skirt so short it might as well have been non-existent. Her voice was high and dragged on the last syllable of every few words. Her face was so caked with make-up that Scarlet could have dragged one of her knives across that face and not leave so much as a scratch.
Rosie was droning on and on about her various boyfriends, which ones to keep and which ones to get rid of, asking if she should go to a party this weekend or not.
"A party?" Scarlet asked with mild interest, working on their project for both of them.
"Yeah, it's going to be great. Boys, music, a house to ourselves! What could go wrong?" Rosie enthused.
"How many people would you say are going?" Scarlet asked, turning her head slightly to allow Rosie into her field of vision.
"I don't know," Rosie giggled, "But David Baker is going, can you believe it?"
"No Rosie, I don't believe it," Scarlet sighed.
"Hey, I need someone to make me look good. You should come too!" Rosie took Scarlet's arm, digging her fake nails into her skin.
"Hmm… just to make you look good? No. Can't. Sorry."
"Come on!" Rosie cried, attracting the attention of nearby groups.
"Will there be alcohol?" Scarlet asked, her hair a curtain around her face, masking her smug expression. At the moment, she wanted nothing more than to go to this party. Maybe it will keep Freddy away from her for a while, and maybe she could-
"Yes! As much alcohol as you'd like! I just wanna look good!" Tears were nearly streaming down Rosie's rosy cheeks.
"I'll be there." Scarlet smiled a nasty smile. She had her way.
Rosie gave Scarlet directions to where the party was being held at the end of the week just as the bell sounded to end their period.
Stephen fell in step with Scarlet in the hall.
"Steve," she said, her voice gaining a proud tone, "I'm going to a party this weekend."
Stephen nodded in understanding. He could read Scarlet's mind like a book and knew her every motive.
"See you later," she said and made her way through the crowd and out of the building.