Part 3

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My dad had rushed into my room. When he saw the state I was in, he hurried over to me and attempted to calm me down. He managed to make me stop screaming, but I didn't stop crying until several hours later when I lay locked tightly in Liam's arms. 

My would-be killer was still out there—and clearly still thinking about me.

The police had come and investigated everything. They went through my entire room, the house, and the garden. They did another sweep of the neighbourhood, but the bear was all he had left. The security camera at the back had only caught a glimpse of a black figure. As there was no sign of any of the locks having been forced open, my parents decided to change them all once more just to be safe. 

The DNA test on the blood that was on the blade came back and, as I'd feared, it was mine. It sickened me to know he had kept the blade caked with my blood for over a year. Worse still were the questions. Why had he kept it? And why had he suddenly decided to gift it to me, wrapped inside a teddy bear of all things? Had he known it had been my birthday? And then there was that one question that gave me terrible insomnia: how had he gotten into my room?

~*~

Several weeks went by and again the police proved useless. They had tried to pull prints off the knife's handle, but there weren't any. I couldn't remember if he had worn gloves—but I considered it very likely. So yeah, they still had no leads on my attempted killer who now also gained the label stalker. 

The nightmares had returned full strength and I looked terrible. Mary had tried to joke that I no longer had bags under my eyes, but suitcases; I couldn't laugh at this and she had apologised.

I entered my bedroom after having taken a shower and found a box on my desk. Fear and paranoia took hold of me and time slowed down. My heart pounded in my ears and the ground felt like tar as I slowly took those three steps to my desk. 

When I finally stood frozen in front of the box it must have taken me ten minutes before I was able to raise my hands and lift the top off.

Pictures.

It was filled with dozens and dozens of pictures.

Part of me knew I should've screamed for help right then and there. That I should have rushed out of the room. But I couldn't stop myself. I had to know.

With trembling fingers, I took a stack out and I saw myself smiling in every single photo. Noting my hair I must have been fifteen on the first dozen, sixteen on the following fifty or so. Suddenly my hair was the vibrant purple it had been not long before the attack and tears streamed down my face. There were even pictures of me walking home that very night, I was certain of it due to the new coat I had been wearing—thanks to him, I had worn it for not even a week.

I flipped through the pictures and my blood ran cold. I couldn't believe what I was seeing.

It was dark, as he hadn't used the flash, but as I looked closely my breath hitched. I whimpered and fell to my knees, the remaining stack of photos still in my hand. Though tears were blurring my vision, I had to see the pictures—I just couldn't believe they were real.

I saw myself in those photos, on the ground, a black stain on my light grey coat. In the next one, I was running to my house and then I was on the floor again, the hilt of a blade sticking out of my back. Bile rose in the back of my throat as the memory of the pain was still very real, but I had to keep looking. I was being dragged out of the house, a black trail in my wake and two dark blots on my coat. In the one after that, I was hugging the tree, and the dark blots on my coat had merged into one single stain.

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