Chapter 1

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Five Years Ago

"Promise me you'll stay away from the basement," my mother begs. "Never go down there, no matter the circumstances."

"Why?" I ask.

"Vanessa, promise," she demands.

"Okay, I promise," I give in.

Present Day

I cram my key into the lock and twist it, shoving open the front door. The house is a mess. Lamps are knocked over, tables are flipped, even the paint has chipped off the walls in several places.

I creep further into the house, afraid of what I might find. The smell of death hits my nose and I'm repulsed. I take a deep breath and close my eyes, hoping that when I open them this will all be gone.

My eyes flutter open and the signs of struggle are all still there. I now notice drops of blood scattered on the carpet.

I follow the trail of small red dots and watch them turn into long, faded lines, like a carcass had been dragged through the house.

"Gosh, mom, what'd you kill this time?" I wonder aloud.

Mom is always killing whatever animal wanders into the house, and this one clearly put up a fight.

I push through the stench and walk into her room, the path of blood stopping at her closet doors.

She's lost her mind! I think.

I guess it's my job to dispose of this one. I pry open the closet doors and let out a scream. The smell worsens as my mother's body falls onto the floor.

"Mom!" I yell. "Mom!"

I roll her body over to look at her face. Blood stains her cheeks and her eyes are wide open, her lips sewn shut. Black ink occupies her forearms, "payback" written across her left and a string of insults on her right.

"Payback for what?" I shout into the empty room. "What did she do? What could she possibly have done?"

I clutch my mom's bloody remains to my chest.

I try to tell myself that this isn't real, it's a dream, a nightmare. I pinch myself and pull my hair, attempting to wake myself from a sleep I'm not in.

Call Sam, I tell myself. He'll know what to do.

I yank my phone out of my pocket and dial my older brother's number. He picks up on the second ring.

"Vanessa, what's up?" He greets me cheerily.

"It's mom," I sob. "She's dead."

"She's what?" He asks in shock. "She can't be."

"You need to come home," I cry. "Soon."

"I'm on my way," he assures me. "Wait for me on the front steps."

"No, Sam, I can't leave her," I tell him.

"It's best that you do," he sighs. "I'll be there in two minutes."

He hangs up and I sit next to my mother for another minute or so. After looking back on some positive memories we share, I finally force myself to get off the floor and wait for Sam.

I sit outside and try to find relief in the fresh air.

Sam pulls up and jumps out of his car, running up to the house.

"Sam, it's bad," I warn him. "You're not gonna believe it."

"Where is she?" He asks.

"Her room," I say.

"Wait here," he instructs.

I do as I'm told and pray he'll return quickly.

Quite some time passes and his body appears in the doorway.

"I took care of it," he says, his head down.

"What'd you do?" I ask.

"You cannot trust anybody, you hear me?" He says sternly.

"Sam, what's going on?" I question. "Do you know who killed mom?"

"Yes and no," he frowns.

"Who?" I ask.

"I don't have a name," he shakes his head. "But I've got a pretty good way to find out."

"What are you talking about?" I groan. "Why aren't you telling me anything?"

"Because I can't," he snaps. "I promised her I wouldn't."

"What? When?" I argue. "Sam, tell me!"

"The same day she told you to stay away from the basement," he says as he begins to walk down the driveway.

"Where are you going?" I yell.

"We gotta stay away from each other for a little while," he nods. "I'm sorry."

"Sam!" I shout.

"You can do this!" He yells. "Check under your mattress!"

He gets back in his car and drives away, his tires kicking up dust as he speeds down the street.

I watch his car disappear.

New book! This was written as a project for my creative writing class but I decided to edit it and publish it here for you guys to read! I hope you like it as much as my teacher did! As always, please vote, comment, and share!

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