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The door to the ER swings open and the doctor walks out, peeling surgical gloves off his fingers, a grave look on his face.

Instantly, my heart drops to my feet. My hands start sweating and I immediately stand up, my legs visibly shaking. Next to me, my father jumps up and rushes forward.

"Are both of them okay now?" He asks frantically, clutching the arm of the doctor. "Is everything going to be alright?"

Well, my father clearly did not see the look on the doctor's face. Tears well up in my eyes and I blink a few times, trying to keep them back but to no avail. 

I use the back of my sleeve to scrub my eyes. I'm not stupid. I know they're dead. That enormous butcher knife has been declared to pierce their vital organs at the crime scene, and the doctor just came out with such a solemn expression. As much as it hurts to admit, it's just true.

Maybe I've been holding too tightly onto a small ray of hope, that they might survive, that a big surgery is all it takes to get them back on their feet, or at least, in wheelchairs.

And that hope has just disappeared.

The doctor takes a deep breath and looks at both of us, starting with me and ending with my father, whose eyes grow wide. "I'm sorry. There was nothing we could do."

My shaky legs give out beneath me and I sink back into the plastic chair I've been sitting on for the last half hour. Breathing suddenly seems ten times harder. The white walls around me seem to spin.

My father is practically paralyzed, his eyes seem glazed over and his grip on the doctor must have tightened because the doctor wince. 

"The little girl died as soon as she got into the ER. Your wife died a few moments later. I'm truly sorry."

At least the doctor is enduring the pain in his arm quietly.

I bite the inside cheeks in my mouth so I would cry silently.

My mother. My cousin. I didn't even get the chance to say goodbye.

Isla was celebrating her birthday today. As a treat, my mother took her to the mall to buy her smoothies and a cute little dress for the birthday party tonight. Normally I would've gone with them but I had to go over to my friend Heather's house to do a project and my dad was waist-deep in paperwork in his own office in the house.

It was two o clock when I received about ten frantic missed phone calls from my hysteric dad. Heather drove me over to the hospital as fast as she could, but the effort was futile. I never got to see them alive one last time. And to think this morning I had been snappy with my mother for being so overly worried about me going over to Heather's alone. To think I didn't even say happy birthday to Isla because I came down so late.

A sob somehow escapes me, and then another, until tears are falling down my face like the Niagara Falls. Normally I would have been appalled at my behaviour, because it takes a lot to get me to cry and show weakness in public, but right now, I just don't care. 

Isla just turned seven. She didn't deserve this. She was just a child. Innocent and still fresh to the world. Who would be cruel enough to deprive a little girl like her the right to experience the world?

My mother certainly did not deserve to die either. She was a good person. She was everything a teenager could wish for in a mother - understanding, compassionate and loving. So what if that sounded cheesy? She was gone.

Somewhere in my befuddled mind I truly realize why my mother had been so worried. Recently, there is a serial killer on the loose in New York, killing people left and right. My mother fretted over Isla and my safety ever since the TV reporter started listing the deaths. That was why she didn't want me to go over to Heather's in the first place. I brushed her off harshly, saying a twenty years old is perfectly capable of walking a couple of blocks alone.

Sure, I have harboured anger towards this mysterious serial killer for weeks for taking innocent lives. Even my teachers at NYU discussed about this with us during class. But after the police confirmed that this same killer is the one who butchered my mom and cousin, my anger disappeared, replaced by an inexplicable fury and need for revenge.

I'm so wrapped up in my desolate thoughts that I start with a high-pitched squeak when I feel someone touch my arm. It's my father and he's not crying. He just looks...dead. Emotionless. Like a zombie.

Me, on the other hand, probably look like a wreck with red eyes and puffy nose and tear-stained T-shirt.

"You have to come with us, Alexa."

I sniff and nod, wiping my nose with the back of my hand. Personal hygiene is not something I'd like to think about at the moment.

"Where are we going?"

"Signs some forms to have them buried."

I just nod silently, walking along the ostensibly endless white corridor. Nurses and other passerbys give us sympathetic looks. Somehow it just seems to pour more salt into my open wounds. My wound of losing my mother and her constant cheerful smile. My wound of losing Isla and her talkative nature. It used to be annoying, but right now I'd give anything to hear the incessant babble.

"Dad, I don't want to go in." I mumble as we stop in front of an office and the doctor opened the door for us.

He looks at me. "You sure?" he asks quietly.

"I'm sure." Seeing them bleeding on the beds is one thing. Seeing the names on that piece of paper is another. Like it’s really, really official. Something I don’t want to think about. "I'll just wait out here."

"Okay." he enters the room and the door closes behind him.

I find another one of those hard plastic green chairs that hospitals always seems to have and sit down. The pain is horrible. I thought losing the love of my life two years ago was hard enough. This is just excruciatingly difficult.

Who is going to take care of me? I may have a dad, but he is always wrapped up in work and he barely leaves his home office. He even camps in there sometimes. I don't complain, after all, we wouldn't be living in such a lovely house if it weren't for him. But it's going to be very lonely.

Just yesterday night we were all enjoying my mother's famous lasagna. It seems like a lifetime ago.

It's so cold here. I rub my arms quickly, trying to conjure up some heat, and let out a shaky breath.

So numb. 

"Hey," I look up to see a kind gentle and motherly-looking nurse staring down at me, a worried expression on her face. Her face reminds me so much of my mother that I burst into tears again.

Oh well.

She puts a comforting hand on my shoulder. "Now now, don't cry. Crying isn't going to help anyone."

I hold back a sob. "I-I know, b-but it's just, just, just so hard!"

"I know, dearie." she gives me a few awkward pats on the back. Something buzzes in the speaker of the earphone she has in her ear and she gasps. "Oh good grief, I've got to run now. Another ER. Here, take this," she fumbles in her pocket and hands me a packet of tissues. "And take care!" she hurries away.

"Thank you." I know she couldn't hear me. I finger the packet, turning it this way and that. Then I pull one out and blow my nose loudly.

Then I stare at the packet some more as an idea slowly dawns.

The nurse is right. Crying isn't going to help anyone.

I want revenge, don't I? Then I need to seek the killer.

The idea sounds so ridiculous I actually giggle.

But then again, it is the only way. As long as the killer is out there, who knows what he would do next? For all I know, another death could be looming in the forseeable future.

I guess it wouldn't hurt to try.

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