The Victim

Chapter Two: Friends

Closing in

As I sit there, thinking what kind of degenerate would do that, I think of my little sister, running around. I hadn’t thought of her in a long time. I remember chasing her down the hall. But when I catch her, the image pops back into my mind, of her floating face-down in the water.

The door opens and two policemen step inside. I immediately close my laptop. I don’t know why, but I feel like I’m doing something fishy. Maybe it’s because I know, deep down I know what I will do if I see that man. The officers sit down, take their cup of coffee and leave. I exit too, using them as human shields. If matches is really there, he won’t risk coming for me now.

After they get into their car, I quickly hop into a cab, make the driver circle around a few times and return to my room. I open up, and there I find my dead girlfriend’s brother, awake. “Where were you?” he asks. “You were gone for hours. I was worried sick. I have something to tell you—” I sit on the bed by his side and interrupt him. “I just came from the cafeteria two streets down. I think matches was watching me.”

He nearly jumps out of bed. “I knew it, I-I called it. F-word! Let’s go. Wait, there’s something else you don’t know—” He manages to sit on the edge of the bed. “No,” I say. “Not before you tell me what happened to the family with the two daughters.” “What? What do you mean, I’ve told you everything already. I—”

“No, no, no,” I interrupt him. “The first time you came to my apartment. It was the same day two kids were burned to death in front of their parents.” His face turns pale. “I don’t want to talk about that.” “Oh, really? Then let’s see how well you do against him on your own.” I get up, and begin picking up my stuff. “Wait, wait, wait,” he begs more and more desperately.

“I’m honestly tired of your bulls-word,” I say and put my hand on the door knob. “Ok!” he shouts. “It was us. Happy now!?” He begins to cry. I let go of the knob. “We-we were only supposed to-to scare the father, okay!?” he sobs as he talks. “But matches… f-word, f-word, f-word!” He hits his head against the headboard.

“He went nuts, I couldn’t stop him. He shot himself too much meth before we went in. A beating wasn’t good enough for him. That’s all the boss wanted. A simple beating. He beat him alright. But then he cut his wife’s face. Even that wasn’t enough. He tied the two parents up, and I helped him. Then he dragged the crib in front of them…”

He stops to cry. “Go on!” I yell. “The baby girl was crying. He told the parents to shut her up, but wouldn’t let them move. Her cries upset him so… he lit the crib on fire! Ok!? Is that what you wanted to hear?” “No. Finish the story.”

He looks down. “I can’t, I can’t…” “Finish or I leave,” I threaten him. “He-he dragged the other. I begged him not to, but he did it anyway. He tied her up as she cried for her mommy, sprayed her like he did to everything else, and burned her alive. Oh god, what have I done…” He breaks down in tears.

“Ok, I can finally let you go,” I say. “Goodbye.” “No!” he shouts, wiping his tears. “You don’t understand. Your apartment, there was a fire.” My heart stops. Without thinking about it twice, I open the door. “Come back! Come back!” he screams behind me, but I can barely hear him. I just run toward my car and drive, the rest just fades.

I speed through the city at night toward my apartment, skipping red lights and nearly crashing a couple of times. When I get there I can see the flames raging on our floor. All the tenants are outside. I look for her face in the crowd. I can’t see her, and my heart starts to pound. My throat shuts tight.

I hear there are victims still inside. It can’t be true. This can’t be happening. The world spins around me. There’s an explosion on our floor. People duck and back away. I just stand there. Now-now I know what I have to do.