Chapter 1: All Tied Up

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  • Dedicated to TNT

When Brandon Vick heard the eerie music in the distance, he thought he was hearing things. Oxford Manning was dead, or so everyone assumed, since there's no way he could've survived outside the burn unit he'd been admitted to. His whereabouts had been a huge mystery since the day he disappeared, causing a massive search and investigation. With no answers or leads, the case was left open in hopes something would turn up.

Brandon and his friends hadn't meant to kill Oxford, or even hurt him, for that matter. Being slow, like he was, the boys just thought it'd be easy to take his money; and it was. They didn't get a lot, but enough to enjoy the upcoming weekend.

When Mitch took out his lighter and set Oxford's ice-cream-cone covered curtains on fire, the other four boys were shocked. "What are you doing?" a couple of them yelled in unison. "Stop!" another one yelled, causing Mitch to stick his lighter in his pocket.

When his small flame quickly grew, engulfing the curtains and everything around them, they ran. They ran and never looked back.

But that was months ago. No proof or evidence was found. It would be forgotten. 

As the unnerving tune continued to float on the cool, night breeze, Brandon stopped, but all he heard was silence, a few leaves rustling. When chills popped out on his skin, he started walking faster.

Laughter came from behind him, causing him to turn around and scan the empty street. "Who's there?" he yelled. "Justin? Mitch? I'll kick your ass if you're trying to creep me out."

"I'm not Justin or Mitch," a spine-chilling voice said into his ear, "but I am trying to creep you out. Is it working?" Brandon spun around, a scream working its way up his throat, never making it to his lips. "Oh, good, it is working!"

***

"Wonder what's going on over at the Vick's house?" Mr. Brady asked. "There's been cops in and out of there all morning."

"Maybe Justin will know," his wife said as she poured them both coffee. "He should be down in minute."

"Justin!" his dad called impatiently.

"Yeah?" he asked as he walked into the kitchen, grabbing a bowl out of the cabinet.

"Have you talked to Brandon today?" his dad asked.

"No, why?"

His dad took a sip of coffee before answering. "Well, the police have been over there at his house all morning. I thought you might know why."

Justin almost dropped his bowl. "Police?" He stepped over to the window, which faced Brandon's house, where two cop cars sat in their driveway. "No, I... I've not... not talked to him." Leaving his bowl sitting on the counter, he walked out.

"Mitch, there are cops at Brandon's house," Justin said into his phone. "You don't think—"

"Justin," Mitch interrupted, "you need to calm down."

"Calm down? What if they know?"

"How could they know?" Mitch asked, even though he was beginning to sound almost at nervous as Justin felt.

"Well, why else would they be over there?"

"Have you tried calling him?" Mitch asked.

"No, I was afraid to," Justin admitted. "I mean, what if the cops took his phone?"

Mitch sighed. "What are they gonna do? Arrest you for calling him?"

The doorbell rang, causing Brandon to run over and peek out his window. "Shit, they're here! What am I supposed to say?"

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