I am so pleased to have come second in this competition. Thanks so much to my beta nmydreamz who helped me so much on this. I own nothing
SWW HALLOWEEN PICTURE PROMPT COMPETITION.
Number of picture prompt used: 6
Word Count: 7769
Summary: Seth had looked forward to getting invited to Alice Brandon's Halloween party and worked hard to be accepted by the in crowd at school. That was, until the guests started dying.
My life was normal once, nothing more than average for a typical American teenager. Every morning I would wake up and go to school, make good grades, and do everything I could to get extra credit; not that I needed it. It was a simple life, the life I thought I liked, even wanted. Somehow I had managed to find love along the way, but now that's just an event of my past; a distant memory of a time when things seemed so easy, before everything spiraled out of control and I became a victim of addiction.
Now, don't go thinking I became a drug user or even a trainee alcoholic, no. That would be far too easy. My addiction started a year and a half ago, after my relationship with Edward Cullen ended, when my happy, carefree existence changed. I became my seventeen year old self, obsessed with the need for recognition from my peers, a need to be accepted by the kids at school who didn't even know my name. Back then, when I was a slave to love, my only friend in the world was him, he was the light that made me feel warm inside. There literally was nobody else in my life, except my mother, but I was already a faceless loser without admitting that she was my BFF.
It wasn't that I didn't want more friends, I just never saw anyone else fitting in with us, the yin to our yang. Edward and I even had our own secret language, one we had developed since meeting at eight years of age...so anyone who tried to befriend us just found it hard to not feel like a third wheel.
Even today, as I reflect over recent events that leave me in a cold sweat, I can't believe he left. My dreams of a happy future in his arms were cut short. It was that huge, unexpected break in the road that made me want to change and cause a ripple through my solitude, to kick-start a new direction. I needed something positive to absorb all the crap that had started to infest my every waking moment.
The choice was made only a few short months after my heart was painfully ripped from my chest. I decided that I wanted to climb the social ladder...a prospect that terrified me, but wanted so badly; to be a part of the popular crowd, the people who were perfect.
In every school there is that one elitist group that owns the halls, and the one at Houghton High was no different. The small circle of the rich and powerful that had everyone falling at their feet and worshiping them like gods, ruled the very foundation of the campus. I wanted that...all that I wasn't born into, a taste of their wealth and status in life.
With just a single look they demanded respect...and my peers were only too happy to give it to them, bending to their perfectly manicured will. So why wouldn't I want a small slice of their pie? I just never thought that getting it would lead me to where I am now, sitting in a hospital bed, being interrogated by the Chief of police, Charlie Swan.
"Tell us what happened, Seth. Start from the beginning," he says, pulling me from behind the tissue I was pouring my tears into. He took the vacant seat next to me.
I shook my head, my body still trembling from the disaster that was my first weekend away...two glorious days of walking in the shoes of popularity...finally. Did he really expect me to relive it all again, go back to that place I had barely escaped with my life? Everything had gone so unexpectedly wrong, ended so abruptly when we should have been enjoying the All Hallows' Eve party. Why the fuck did I have to go over it all again?
The break was one I had longed for, for over a year. I had worked so hard to receive the small envelope, my golden ticket. Ever since I stepped from behind the barrier of loserville and into the diamond circle, I had wanted to finally feel accepted. Nothing screamed you're in louder than the offer to socialize with them, away from our parents. This date will always burn in my memory; October 31st 2009, it will haunt me and remain behind my eyes as I close them at night.
Everyone in school wanted an invitation, craved to have an embossed card passed their way, and I was no exception. Alice Brandon's parties were legendary, the talked-about events of the year, the reason everyone would kiss her yogalates-perfect ass. So like everyone else, I did what I could...their homework, carried their bags, anything that they couldn't be bothered with; their wish was my command. The tasks given to me were just the start of my obsession, something to distract my memory from seeing Edward's lost face...but slowly it became the reason I woke up in the morning.
I just never expected all this...to be here now, still wearing my party costume that was covered in the blood of others, mixed with my own perspiration. I should be nursing a hangover, not sitting in a hospital bed with my mother at my side while Chief Swan tries to get me to go over what I endured...what I survived!
My mother rests her hand on mine, causing me to jump almost a foot in the air from shock. She looks at me with confusion and concern in her eyes, but it's not her fault. She doesn't know that the last person to touch me had their fingers wrapped around my throat, trying to stop my life dead in its tracks.
"We need to know, son. I know it's hard, baby, but we need to know what happened."
My whole body is a hum of vibrations as I close my eyes and try to remember, try and sort all the memories so I can show them, help them to see what I escaped from.
I swallow the dryness in my throat as I prepare myself to do the mental time travel. I lift that dark veil in my mind and step under the canopy of dark shadows, back to the night I had wanted for so long, the night that anyone would have killed for.
"Rosalie...was the first to...die."
I had to pinch myself to make sure I wasn't dreaming, and the pain that ran through my body was evidence that I was well and truly awake. So I have survived, everything I experienced has been real. Taking a deep breath, I began telling Chief Swan what had gone down...
I stood, staring in awe at the large cabin that was the venue for the party, one that was so beyond what I had imagined. My neck ached from looking up at the building as I got out of the van, the size and beauty of it was beyond my wildest imagination. This was something I would only get to experience once in a lifetime, and it was as if I had stepped into a photo of a picture-perfect place.
"Told you it was beautiful, didn't I, Sethie?" I smiled as Rosalie whispered into my ear, giggling at the look on my face as the others got out of the van.
I just nodded, words escaping me as I stood there gaping like an idiot. The lakefront property was clear evidence of the Brandon wealth, six hundred and forty acres of land, so far away from the bustle of civilization, and it was ours to enjoy. Who knew that all this beauty was only an hour and twenty minutes away from school, with the small, distant town of Bete Grise as our only neighbor?
As our hostess for the weekend pushed past me, I almost fell over. She didn't even attempt to step around me, that would have been the polite thing to do. "Seth, bring the bags," Alice barked, snapping her fingers at me as she walked towards the cabin in her tight sweater and short mini-skirt. Clearly, the forecast of an incoming storm and cooler temperatures wouldn't get in the way of the self-proclaimed princess and her fashion.
I sighed, trying not to show that she had upset me, even smiling at the worried expression on Rosalie's face as she adjusted her thick glasses and sucked on her inhaler. "S...sorry Seth, she won't always seem like this...she really is nice, I promise," she tried to convince me, using that familiar tone that her voice went to when she lied.
Before I had a chance to tell her I was ok, a voice bellowed from behind us, drawing a small scream from Rosalie's lips.
"Damn, didn't mean to scare you, Rosie, I was just trying to tell you that I would help Seth." We both turned to the sound of Emmett McCarty, who was already loading his arms with bags, his thick muscles gripping them perfectly.
I could feel the blush that filled my face, and judging from the small whimper that left her, I knew that Rosalie was just as lost in Emmett as I was. "That's...ok...see you inside, Seth."
She walked towards the cabin, looking over her shoulder and grinning at me like I just won a million dollars. As I turned my face back to meet his, the need to look back and watch Rosalie left me. I was too busy standing there ogling him, as my mouth began to pool with saliva.
Forcing myself to move, I grabbed the only two bags that were left... a small pink one and a little blue canvas thing. "Leave the blue one, you don't want to break one of her majesty's rules now, do you?"
He chuckled as he started walking away and I mentally slapped myself, remembering that this was the bag for all of our cell phones, the ones we had been instructed to leave in the van. I slammed the hatch shut and hurried to catch up with Emmett, fighting the urge to walk a few steps behind so I could watch his butt doing its perfect dance.
I had never really spoken to him before, he was always surrounded by girls or chatting away with Jasper. Yet right then, when we were alone, he was still just one of the rich kids, but he was helping me like it wasn't beneath him...why?
"I think you saved my life there," I said, slowing my pace to match his.
He gave me a sideways glance and winked, a small muscle movement that almost made me stumble and fall. "Yeah, you don't wanna go breaking the rules on your first party, not unless you don't want to be invited back," he laughed, speaking again as we reached the cabin doors. "Its cool we finally have some new blood with us. I get sick of all the usual Alice ass-lickers. Are you an ass-licker, Seth?"
His voice had gone almost sultry on the last sentence, a cheeky smile spread over his face. I had to force myself not to grab him, pull him into my arms and kiss him, but the opening of the door saved me. Alice looked more than a little furious.
"Emmett, people of our breeding don't carry luggage!" she said, putting her hands on her hips, indicating with a nod where to drop them. "This is why Seth is here, and he likes to carry my bags, don't you, Seth?"
It wasn't a question, I knew she didn't expect me to answer, so I simply smiled like the perfect servant. I had to remind myself over and over in my head that I wanted to be here, that I could handle anything she threw my way.
Emmett laughed and pushed his way inside. "I really don't mind, Alice," he declared, dropping the bags to the floor.
I followed inside and closed the door behind me as I looked around the room at the other guests. They hadn't needed to work as hard to get their invitations...I was the only one from a lower class, working family, the one who couldn't just go out and buy a new computer because mine was older than dirt. I watched them all floating around the room as if walking on air, like the ground was too rough for their delicate, rich feet.
Alice walked over to her boyfriend Jasper, pulling the plastic surgeon's son into an over the top kiss with her eyes wide open...not the romantic kind that I saw in movies. Emmett moved into the room still sporting his grin as I stood watching the others like it was all a school play, acted out before my eyes.
Along with myself, Alice, Jasper, Rosalie and Emmett, were Nettie and Esme, the identical twin daughters of the most sought after divorce lawyer in the upper peninsula. Rosalie and myself would joke about the creepy sisters, how they seemed so much like the two little girls in that old movie, The Shining. Unlike normal people, their faces didn't show any emotion and remained forever frozen and expressionless.
Silently I groaned when I heard that irritating, one-handed clap of Alices, the one that had all eyes looking in her direction as she wore Jasper's arm around her shoulders like an expensive scarf. "Attention, attention. Rule number two, costume time. No guest is allowed to dine at my table without one."
I would've loved to have another second to groan, to worry over the unknown costume that was neatly packed in a bag for me, but Rosalie was dancing over excitedly, her voice almost a song. "Come on, Seth, I really hope you like it."
She grabbed two of the bags and pulled me happily along by the force that was my only real friend among the group, both of us running up the two flights of stairs like kids running to awaken sleeping parents on Christmas morning. "I made sure we had adjoining rooms, I hope you don't mind," she panted, pushing open one of the doors and practically shoving me inside the biggest guest room I had ever seen.
Throwing the bags to one side, Rosalie jumped on the bed, giggling at me while adjusting her glasses, making sure her skirt covered her knees. "Well? Tell me, tell me!"
I looked at her from the door, closed it behind me and walked to sit beside her, confusion plastered on my face. "Tell you...what?"
Without a moment's pause she chattered away excitedly. "Emmett! Did he talk to you? I saw him looking at you in the van, I think he likes you the same way that you like him...you do like him, don't you, Seth?"
She spoke so quickly that I was breathless for her, amazed at how fast she could talk when she wasn't affected by her asthma.
Her screams of excitement shocked me as she pulled me into a hug and I had to reach out to the bed for support, to keep us from falling over. It was hard to believe she was a close friend to Alice, she was just so different...so unlike the rest of them.
Rosalie Hale was like a breath of fresh air amid her group of conceited friends. She was the only one that seemed really happy to have me join the group, almost having an asthma attack from excitement as she had given me the invitation.
She always came to me with her problems, things she couldn't tell any of the others, and she was there when I needed her. The blonde girl with beautiful blue eyes was friends with Alice from the sand pit; just as rich, but far less concerned with her status...and when she needed to talk, it was my number she called. People said she was a vision of perfection, regardless of her thick designer glasses, and I guess she was. Her allergies were her only flaw.
Rosalie once told me how her mother, so concerned with her daughter's ailments, would practically surround her in a maternal bubble, afraid that even the smallest thing would have her headed for the hospital. That's why she carried a small, pink bag that held everything she would need, if the situation arose.
I was amazed at the amount of things the blonde beauty would have to lug around. Her small EpiPen that held her injection of epinephrine would stop an allergy attack, but that would still result in her having to go to the hospital afterward to be checked. Then, there were her inhalers, there to ease her breathing, to make her life just a little easier.
Some of the attacks she told me she had experienced would make me never want to leave the house again!
You name it, Rosalie had an intolerance to it, but she didn't let that bother her. She just had to be a little more careful than the rest of us. Nothing was allowed to get in the way of her happiness, her idyllic outlook on life. I used to wonder if her glasses were rose-tinted.
She had dreams that she wanted to follow, to go into costume design, and I was about to wear one of her creations...once I got her to stop asking me about Emmett, of course.
As she stared at me, biting her lip, I waited for her to get whatever it was off her chest. "Have you ever...kissed a boy, Seth?" she asked, looking at me dreamily.
My face flushed; I could feel it boiling as she watched me. I nodded once, thinking back to him, the man I wanted to forget about, and have a happy weekend.
"Is it like I hope it will be?" I was shocked by her words, I knew she was shy around guys, but I never thought that she hadn't ever kissed anyone. "Oh, don't give me that look, Mr. Clearwater, I just haven't found the right one yet!"
Offering her a small smile, I decided to distract her by bringing up a conversation that would have all talk of boys thrown out the window. "When do I get to see this outfit you made for me?"
As expected, her eyes glazed over in sugar-coated excitement as she lunged towards the bags, throwing their contents around the room. I was covered under a shower of fabric by the time she was done. "Oh, Seth, wait until you see it," she turned towards me, grinning from the floor. "I hope you don't mind, but I went a little...crazy."
I had no time to respond as she stepped over the boundaries of friendship and pulled me out of my clothes, leaving me standing in my boxers for a few seconds before dressing me in her designs. There wasn't a second to spare, to look them over, as a long coat and pants were draped around my body, followed by makeup that she applied while biting her lip in concentration. It was only after a wig was placed on my head, followed by a top hat, that I was led to stand in front of a full-length mirror.
Rosalie was right when she said she had gone a little crazy. I was a modern day representation of the Mad Hatter from Alice In Wonderland, with over-exaggerated cuffs on my long coat. My russet skin was now painted white, with my eyes, nose and mouth blackened out so I resembled a hellish scarecrow.
"Oh you look so, so perfect!" she squealed, handing me a small, white birdcage. "I thought this would look cool, here...like this." She clipped the tiny cage to the waist of my pants, then stood back to have a look.
The proud smile on her face was mirrored by my own, only hers was far less creepy. "Your turn," I said, as a loud crack of thunder echoed outside, followed closely by what sounded like an argument breaking out downstairs, between Alice and Jasper.
Rosalie rolled her eyes. "Sounds like loves young dream is fighting again! See you in an hour, I have to go make myself beautiful." She winked at me and left the room, leaving me alone to look myself over.
As I listened to the argument get more and more heated, followed by someone walking out into the darkening sky and slamming the front door, I wondered how far away the rain was and how long the storm would last.
I paused, looking at my mother for a moment, dragging my head back to the present. "Do I have to go through all of this right now? I'm so tired..." I said, lying back in the bed, defeated.
Chief Swan stood up, his eyes looking down at me with sympathy. "Sorry, son. I need to get all of your story first, then you can rest...I promise." As he smiles at me I feel guilt setting in, because I've brought this mess to him and caused my mother all of this worry.
I close my eyes for a moment, drawing in energy before continuing.
"An hour later, dinner was ready and that's when all the crazy shit began."
As a child, my mother would play a mix tape of Halloween songs for atmosphere, but that wasn't needed tonight. The raging storm outside was the only soundtrack we needed. Candles were lit for effect, our only source of light when I finally emerged into the dining room an hour later, as planned.
"Awww, look sis, the benefits baby has his pant legs rolled up, how odd." I assumed it was Nettie speaking, as she moved towards me with her sister; they were both actually dressed as the the twins from The Shining...how original!
"Maybe they have holes in them, Nettie, you know how the poor love holey clothing," Esme replied, turning to me. "Do they have holes in them, Seth?"
I bent down to correct my pants, hoping my makeup would hide the fact that I was blushing again. "I just didn't want to...trip over them."
"Trip over them? Are they too long?" I didn't even realise that Rosalie was behind me, but she rushed over to check the hem. "They're ok, Rosalie, I just wanted to be careful."
Standing, she leaned in and kissed my cheek. "Don't worry Seth, I can do alterations if needed," she smiled.
Ignoring the irritated looks on the twins' faces, I offered Rosalie a smile and she took me by the arm, leading me towards the table and the platter of food that awaited. Settled upon the large, oak table was more food than my mother would buy in a week. Pumpkin pies, sweet potatoes... normally all foods I would have for Thanksgiving, but why would I complain? All that deliciousness was catered by a deli, ordered by Alice's mother and delivered before we left, all for our enjoyment.
My mouth was watering from the aromas that filled the room. This was a far cry from my past dinner parties, I hoped it was a taste of things to come! "Yum, my tummy is already growling," Rosalie chimed in, taking a seat and pulling out the chair next to her so I knew where to sit.
Alice and the twins were already loading their plates when Emmett walked into the room. As I turned my head, my face was identical to everyone else's - our jaws hanging open and eyes stretched wide. Our late arrival came in wearing a very tight version of the Batman costume, but it only consisted of tight, black shorts, a cape and the bat logo painted on his chest.
"Well call me a hooker and bend me over the table, you do look hot!" Nettie said from her seat, and I pulled my face back to the food, hoping to hide the fact that my costume pants had suddenly become a lot tighter.
Emmett just laughed, walking towards us and taking a seat opposite me before loading his plate with potatoes. "Where's Jasper?" he asked, before shoveling the food into his mouth.
It was only then that I noticed Jasper wasn't with us. We were all sitting in our costumes, Alice dressed as a slutty girl from Wonderland, and Rosalie as Emily The Strange, still wearing her thick glasses and a new, black wig. Our hostess brought our attention to her with a disapproving huff, adjusting her own blonde wig.
"He refused to wear a costume, so I told him to fuck off! He stormed out an hour ago and I haven't seen him since!" she growled, gulping her wine. "He can rot out there for all I care!"
With that, thunder exploded outside, the downpour becoming the music of the night as it hit the roof two stories up. "He'll come back when he learns to stop being a big baby and do as I tell him!"
I tried not to make eye contact with Rosalie. I kept my attention on the food and waited for the others to start talking, which didn't take long. Conversation flowed around the table, moods lightening more and more with each glass of wine, and I was happy to be included in the underage consumption. I knew all too well that they loved to drink. I had even held Rosalie's hair back for her on occasion, when she overindulged.
Personally I was never a big lover of drinking, happy to have only a glass or two, to catch a buzz that would insure a good time. I had had enough, and I covered my glass with my hand when Emmett tried to offer me a refill.
"Seth, you won't let me drink alone, will you?" he grinned at me, and although I wanted to pull my hand away so that he could once again fill it, I forced it to remain. I wanted a clear head for the weekend, so I would remember everything.
"You're not drinking alone, you have all your friends here," I said in a hushed voice, fighting the urge to lean across the table and taste his lips against mine.
As Alice and the twins got up and moved into the other room after they had eaten, he gave me a puppy dog look, his brows drawing in.
"Seth, will you please move your hand? I don't think I can look at his sad face anymore," Rosalie joked, sprinkling her turkey with pepper.
Reluctantly I gave in, removing my hand and fighting back a whimper of want when he smiled my way.
At that moment, I didn't care if Alice had any ulterior motives for giving me the invitation, like I had heard whispered in the halls at school. I was sitting, eating and drinking with a girl that I knew wanted me here, and a guy who kept making my heart flutter as he smiled. Even in my wildest fantasies I never thought I would one day be here with these people, in a beautiful cabin on Lake Superior, but I was. I had accomplished something that I never really thought would happen.
Being here confirmed to me that I never wanted to go back, that I wanted nothing more than to enjoy my future.
"Well, I'm fucking pleased that Maria got sick...Seth is so much more fun to have around," Rosalie said, and I watched as Emmett nodded in agreement.
Yes, I had only acquired my place at the party to even up the numbers, and Maria's food poisoning seemed to come at just the right time for me. I would have been so upset if all my hard work this past year was for nothing. Second place was better than no place at all.
As we ate our meal of riches, I had to keep myself from thinking about the nasty things I wanted to do to Emmett...to run my hands over his naked chest, nervously undressing him with my eyes as he sat in the sexy Batman outfit, my uncontrollable erection saying hello when he pulled out the mask and put it over his eyes. Granted, the mask was more Robin than Batman, but I had no complaints. Hearing Rosalie whimper at my side, I knew that she didn't have any, either.
Only Rosalie knew about my secret obsession. She even spent nights talking with me about it over the phone. She would listen as I told her how I felt, and never once told anyone, keeping my secret safe. For that I was thankful, I didn't have to worry about my desires being made public. Emmett was someone I could only imagine being with. I knew that he was way out of my league, but I could dream a little dream.
Rosalie was the keeper of secrets for the group. Sometimes she slipped up if you got her drunk enough, and the stories would begin to pour out of her. She told me things that the group wanted to keep hidden, tales that made me want to be at their parties more than ever, and she wasn't even aware that she had spilled a single word.
Knowing that Alice Brandon was less than perfect was enough for me to tolerate her, since I knew everything that could discredit her if I really wanted to. I wouldn't tell though, I didn't want anything to ruin my big plans for the weekend and days of school thereafter. I may have been slightly miserable, but it was better than being alone...wasn't it?
Not even ten minutes later, things seemed to change, events spiraling out of control on a roller coaster ride. Halloween suddenly started to hold too much meaning as Rosalie filled her mouth with her peppered turkey.
I hesitate as I look back at Chief Swan, squeezing my mothers hand. "I don't know if I can say anymore...it's so difficult..." I stammer.
Like the loving parent she is, she wraps me in her embrace. "You can do this baby, you're doing fine. Just continue with what happened."
Drawing her strength into me, I try to take myself back to that moment, to that point when the gates of hell opened around us.
"All the food was delivered by the deli, then prepared by the girls. Everything should have been perfect...but it wasn't!"
We had an array of different dishes decorating the table, all made by hired caterers, but Rosalie's food was different...hers was made to her requirements with allergy-free ingredients. At the time, I had a mouth full of sweet potatoes, racking my brain for a possible conversation starter with the guy who was able to make my heart pound with a single look.
"So, Emmett...do you like...food?" I almost died of embarrassment the moment the words left my mouth, hoping for something to happen that would distract me from the laugher breaking from his lips. I just never expected demons to answer my silent prayer.
It all happened so fast that everything became a blur. All I wanted to do was sink into my chair as I adjusted my wig, but Rosalie started coughing and sputtering beside me.
"Jesus, Rosalie, try shoveling in less food!" Emmett joked, and we both laughed at our friend.
I don't know how long we chuckled before we suddenly went silent, staring in shock as Rosalie's face began to swell, Alice choosing that moment to walk back into the room.
"Shit, get her EpiPen!" Emmett demanded and jumped into action at her side, while Alice ran from the room as fast as she had come in.
Like an idiot I just sat and stared, not knowing what to do. I was in shock, I had no idea how to help as Rosalie began to choke. Me, a straight-A student; but I was useless as I sat staring at my friend who was struggling to breathe. Emmett was holding her hand, remaining somewhat calm in the ongoing panic as her body began to convulse on its own, gasping for breath as she tried to chase away the call of the reaper.
The twins walked in and just stared from the doorway, both of their mouths hanging wide open.
"ALICE, HURRY THE FUCK UP!" Emmett screamed, tears now pouring down his face in time with Rosalie's, even my own began making the salty, downward journey.
A loud crash told me that Alice was back in the room, her face as white as snow as she tried to get a hold of herself and force the words out. "It's...it's not there...it's not packed in her bag!"
All eyes were on her as she tried to explain, but Emmett refused to listen, his hands hovering helplessly over the reaction Rosalie was having. "I SAW HER PACK IT! SHE ISN'T STUPID ENOUGH TO NOT CARRY ONE WITH HER!"
He was right, we all knew that Rosalie carried what she needed for her condition, just in case! Why wasn't it in her room?
"I saw her with it...how..." My voice was cut short from the growing hysterics of our hostess.
"WE'LL IT ISN'T FUCKING THERE NOW!" Alice screamed, looking from face to face in the room before her eyes fell on Rosalie, who had turned an odd shade of blue. "Oh my God, she...she..."
A knot tied itself in my stomach. Alice didn't have to finish, the sound of a last attempt to breathe told me that Rosalie hadn't made it, that her condition had consumed her very soul.
She was dead!
The slam of her face falling forward and hitting the table was the only sound in the room as we all stared into nothingness, looking anywhere but at the fallen girl.
Instinct finally found me and I was over to the phone on the wall within seconds, knowing we were too late, too far away for any help to get here, but I still had to try. I pulled the receiver to my ear while I tried to not look back. I wanted to hear the dial tone, to feel I was doing something, anything, to block out the sound of sobs and screams that had exploded around me. All I heard in the earpiece were the echoes of our emotions. I clicked the button to end the call, believing I had a faulty line due to the storm, but there was nothing. The line was as dead as my friend.
"Oh, fuck!" I exclaimed, standing with the handset still to my ear, "the phone is dead!"
Esme marched towards me, her mascara painting lines down her face where her tears had fallen. "Of course it works, you stupid fuck!" she barked, pulling the phone from my hand and to her own ear.
She paused for a moment, her eyes never leaving mine. Her fingers repeatedly hit the hang up button before she finally gave up. "But...how? It worked when we got here, I called our mother to tell her we had arrived!"
"She did, I was with her," Nettie affirmed.
It was as if they were both talking only to me, trying to make me see that she wasn't lying and that everything was ok at the start of the night...the time when my only concern was the fear of falling over my words with Emmett McCarty.
"Cell phones," I jumped at the sound of my own voice. "We left them in the car!"
I moved across the room, still trying to not look at my dead friend, taking Emmett by the shoulders and pulling him to his feet. "Come on...we need to get help," I said, ignoring his protests to be moved.
"I...I can't...can't leave her!" His voice was plagued with emotion, mirroring my own.
I swallowed the imploding sorrow, closed my eyes and forced us both to move. "There's nothing we can do...not now."
He was a broken version of the strong, confident Emmett McCarty. His face was white with shock, grief stricken. If mine wasn't still painted in her makeup, I know I would be a smaller version of him.
By the time we made it to the door and outside, the cruel forces of nature had the storm forming ghostly shapes in the sky; not that I could see much of it, or that I even had time to stand and look. Not caring that neither of us had coats or any kind of protection, we ran out into the wrath of autumn, slipping in the soggy surface below us and sliding into the side of the van.
"JASPER!" Alice yelled into the night, calling out to her absent lover, but I didn't stop to listen for his reply.
I was inside the van within seconds, thankful that the doors were still unlocked. I jumped in and rummaged through the collection of bags, finding everything from empty food packages to plastic bottles, but not what we needed. Behind me, I could hear the sound of the girls sobbing over the storm, names no longer being called out.
"Not Rosalie, not her...please God, no!" Alice quietly sobbed, barely audible over Mother Nature's anger. Her voice sounded heartfelt, genuine, so unlike the person I had come to know over the past year.
"We'll get help, then we can all go home," Emmett said, trying in vain to reassure us all, but even I could tell that he didn't believe what he was saying. "Maybe...it's not too late..."
His scream suddenly joined in with the sound of thunder, causing me to stumble in surprise inside the van. "SETH, WHAT THE FUCK IS TAKING SO LONG?" he demanded.
I turned towards them, still consumed in my panic to find the phones, seeing how the rain had soaked through their clothes. Selfishly, I wanted to take a moment to marvel at how perfect Emmett looked, the way his cape clung to every ripped muscle, and how the painted logo had trailed down to his navel, but I couldn't...not now, not when all this chaos was happening around us.
"They're not here...I can't find them!" I exclaimed, jumping out into the cold storm. "The bag...it's gone!"
I had helped gather the phones in the little blue bag and left them on the back seat, but now there was no trace of them.
Alice was in my face within seconds. "Like her EpiPen was gone? Like her food was supposed to be allergy-free?" She was so close to me that she forced my back against the van, which caused a shooting pain in my side; I had to stifle a gasp. "You did this...I know you did...I fucking know it!"
She was blaming me, insinuating I had something to do with all this!
"Alice, Seth didn't make the food, he was in his room with Rosalie...the whole time!" Emmett said, stepping in between myself and Alice as the rain continued in its downward assault. "The only people who were near the food were you three! Did you think it would be funny to hide her pen? Did it make you feel like you had more control over her?"
She looked from between us before fixing her gaze on him, all of us shivering from the cold rain. "You think that I, that we would do this? Rosalie made her own food, Emmett! You know she was very strict on making sure it was done properly, so that...that..."
That we wouldn't be in this situation now! That we wouldn't be too late!
Even through the rain I could tell she was crying harder, we all were. Any possible help was so far away from us...our small party...victims of such a disturbing tragedy, so in need of our phones.
"Why would we kill Rosalie?" Esme barked, both sisters still crying, although their faces remained void of expression.
"The back!" Nettie interrupted the short silence, "they could be in one of the compartments in the back!"
It was enough to have Emmett almost running to the place in question, pulling up on the hatch, but then something happened that I never expected. He screamed.
I used to sit on the bleachers with Rosalie and watch him play whatever sport he was participating in that day, both of us giggling like little girls as he cheered, roared and fought his way through the opposing team...but the sound that was now coming out of his mouth was not one that I was familiar with. His voice reached a pitch that I never knew he had in him.
I ran towards Emmett as he fell back into the puddle of mud, not looking at what had caused the less than manly noise, but when the sound of the three girls screamed in unison my whole body shivered. I tried to move, but he grabbed my arm, shaking his head and causing rain to splatter off of him.
"Don't look...J...Jasper...!" he wailed.
I hoped he had gotten my name wrong, that his friend's name had just popped out of his mouth in error. I wanted more than anything for all of this to be over, for us to get out of here. Stupidly, I ignored his warning, something I would live to regret as I stumbled towards the back of the van, through the small group of shrieking girls. There, lying under the scattered shards of broken cell phones was the body of our missing guest, a gash across his throat.
It was then, while standing under nature's cruel shower, that a thought started to grab hold and consume me; a terrifying realization that turned my blood cold. Rosalie's death was no accident, someone wanted her dead...and just like her, they wanted the same for Jasper. Somehow I knew that this wasn't the end, that their deaths were only the beginning.
I closed the hatch and turned to watch the girls run back to the cabin, holding onto each other as they returned to the place where we were supposed to be having fun...to get away from everything back home. Emmett was at my side, leading me towards the warmth of the dry cabin. I forced my feet to move forward, even though I wanted to get in the van and leave, to get far away from whoever was stalking us.
The thunder erupted around us as my heart started racing, pounding deep within my chest, and as he closed the door behind us, I wondered: who would be next?
We sat in the warm room, the choir of raindrops slamming against every inch of the cabin's exterior, the only noise around our faces of fear. I could tell that I wasn't the only person thinking that their friend is now possibly foe, that at any point we could become the next lifeless victim.
"We should go...leave here now!" I urged to Emmett who had not left my side, his arm draped around me while his silent tears fell. "Please!"
He shook his head, eyes turned to the window that showcased the downpour. "We would never make it in this weather, we'll just have to stay here until the storm lets up." He smiled at me, one I didn't return as our bodies shook in unison from our clothes that had been soaked by the rain.
"What? So we stay here until one of you decides to kill the rest of us?" Nettie snapped from the corner of the room where she was huddled with her sister.
Emmett simply nodded while his grip around me tightened a little and I allowed myself to drown in the security he gave me. "We should all go to our rooms and lock the doors until morning. The storm should be over by then, so we can get the fuck out of here and go back home."
The girls almost ran from the room, needing to feel safe behind locked doors. I wanted that feeling to wash over me, too, but I couldn't move. I just stood there with a man whom I hoped wasn't the killer, praying that this was all just a bad dream.
"Emmett...I..." I managed to muster, and he turned towards me, removing the wet wig from my head and pushing my own hair behind my ears.
"I don't want to be alone either, Seth. Could we...?" His voice trailed off as he bit his lip and, although it was against my better judgement, I rose to my feet, taking him by the hand as I led him up to my own room.
The sound of doors being locked pulled at me, but I couldn't hide away upstairs when my friend was still at the dinner table, the lonely corpse.
"Wait...Rosalie," I said, ignoring the confusion in his eyes as I slowly walked back into the room.
I knew he didn't want to go back in there as much I didn't, to have to see her lying there dead, but I couldn't leave her alone in the dark. We stood before our departed friend, witnessed again the swelling of her once beautiful face, and I began to remove the food from around her. She loved her hair, the natural blonde that most women craved, so I removed the wig and pulled her own hair out from her face and smoothed it down her back.
"I am...so sorry, Rosalie," I said behind falling tears, standing back so that Emmett could say his goodbyes.
He didn't speak, as I expected him to; instead, he collected the flowers from the vases around the room and placed them around her face before he leaned forward and kissed her cheek. Without saying a word, he took my hand and silently led me from the room, closing the door of her temporary crypt as we ventured towards the stairs.
"Should we...get Jasper?" My eyes were locked on the main door, the sound of the rain getting heavier.
Emmett just pulled at my arm and led me up the stairs toward our destination, never uttering a single word.
As I closed the door of my room behind me and turned the lock, a cold shiver ran down my body as he turned my way. The chilling sound of the death march began playing in my head.