The night soon descended upon Lakefield View, the season ensuring an early spell of darkness across the town. Justin had spent the day praying for night to never come, but like an undiscovered serial killer, it struck before he had time to anticipate the attack.
He had said good night to his parents one hour before as they headed to bed while Justin remained in the living room. With the fire crackling and the lights on a low setting, the curious boy flicked endlessly through photo albums that collected dust in the attic. Ever since Joseph revealed them to be a key to some of the answers, he couldn't stop thinking about the collective of memories. Unfortunately for Justin, the chain of memories that connected his childhood events had broken, making him frustrated when he flicked through the photographs.
It was like somebody had taken an eraser to the part of his brain where memory is stored and rubbed out the important details that would help him solve the mystery surrounding him and his friends. The nursery looked familiar, and Justin recognised some of the people in the photographs, Tiffany was there, along with Eric and the others, but those days had escaped him completely.
A photograph of himself with a young Christina and Joseph forced him to laugh. In the photo, Justin was in the middle of getting a wedgie by Joseph while Christina stood nearby laughing at him. It looked painful as his face perfectly demonstrated, but it represented a happier, more care-free time of their lives. And Joseph looked exactly the same as when he appeared as a ghost, including the same clothes.
Justin felt a rush pulse through his veins. The photos must have been from the day he died.
He frantically flicked through the volumes of photographs; each photo was taken in the playground, presumably before the devastating event that robbed so many innocent children of their lives. He wished he could remember what happened; he wanted to know why he and his friends survived while others perished.
Unfortunately, the photos stopped after only four pages; none of them helpful in any way. Justin kept going back and forth between the photos, noticing that his parents didn't bother to use up the rest of the photo album after putting in photos from that day. Like opening a refrigerator, seeing nothing, and then looking again expecting food to miraculously appear, Justin kept hoping some kind of clue would fall onto his lap from the only photos available to him.
It took around five minutes before Justin stopped looking at them frantically and started examining them one at a time. He started with the wedgie photo, then onto random photos of his friends playing and being silly.
The second-last photo showed Justin, Tiffany, Eric, Christina and Carmen all together along with Joseph and a girl he recognised as Grace Bellisario – a name he heard one of the Bellisario boys mention when he hid under their table one week ago. He remembered Clyde telling the youngest girl, Arabella, that she would never live up to Grace. The absence of her name in the newspaper clipping listing survivors that Tiffany and Eric stole from the house as a survivor sealed one part of the mystery.
The daughter of Amelia and Byron Bellisario died during the nursery blaze and out of some twisted commitment to their daughter, her parents waited years for their revenge on the survivors. They already killed two of them – Adam and Rochelle – and then tried to kill the remaining five. Justin felt safe in knowing the entire Bellisario family were all dead.
At least he thought he knew...
Justin yawned wide and scrunched his eyes hard. During that brief moment, the low lighting in the room flickered and the fire crackled a little harder. Justin failed to notice it and returned to his investigation of the photographs. A sort of misty glare brought his attention back to the group photo. In the distance behind the seven children was a figure watching from behind the nursery gates.
YOU ARE READING
Ashes of the Innocent (Abyssal Sanctuary #2)Horror
The second book in the award-winning 'Abyssal Sanctuary' series! GOLD Award Winner for Horror Fiction at the 2016 Global eBook Awards! One week has passed since the Bellisario family massacre and the staff of the Pandora Cafe try their best to move...