She stabbed the air with her finger, pointing at Veronica.
Veronica screamed. "No! You're crazy! You're crazy, Alyson. I always knew you didn't like me."
"I knew your secret. I knew you were sick," Alyson said, her voice flat, revealing no emotion at all. "You were sick and you wanted to live, so you took my sister's life force."
"N-no—" Veronica stammered. She tried to back away, but stumbled, the effects of the drugged cocoa making the floor tilt up in front of her.
"You were there when she died." Alyson's finger remained in the air, accusing Veronica. "You were there and—"
"I… went into her room," Veronica said. "I found her. I'm so sorry, Alyson. But you can't blame me. Marie was already dead."
Alyson turned her finger and made a beckoning motion. "Come here, Veronica. Come here and say hi to Marie."
"No. Please—" The room was spinning now. Veronica gripped the wall to steady herself.
"Leave her alone," Marty said. "This has gone far enough. You can't keep us here with your crazy threats and that… that corpse."
Jillian opened her mouth to join Marty's protest, but no sound came out. She had an impulse to burst forward and grab Alyson and drag her to… to… Drugged, Jillian couldn't think straight. She dropped to her knees, her head pulsing with pain.
"Marie won't be a corpse for long," Alyson insisted. "Come here, Veronica. Give my sister back what you took from her."
Veronica struggled but she couldn't resist. She staggered through the circle against her will. She stood in front of the stiff, already-rotting corpse that had been Marie.
"Go ahead. Hug her," Alyson said. "Hug her tight, Veronica." She shoved Veronica onto the corpse. "Hug her. Do it! Do it!"
The bitter odor invaded Veronica's nose. She gasped, then struggled to hold her breath. Before she knew what was happening, her arms were around the cold, stiff body.
"Hug her! Hug her!" Alyson screamed.
And Veronica obediently hugged. Hugged until she could feel the life slipping from her, hugged until the weakness washed down her body… The weakness… The weakness. All dark now. All gone.
With a hard thud, Veronica slumped dead to the floor. And Marie rose to her feet. She stood up slowly and swung her arms back and forth, as if testing them.
Chunks of skin had fallen from her cheeks, revealing part of her jaw. But somehow she managed a blue-lipped smile. "I'm alive," she gasped. "Alive."
Everyone in the room stood in silent horror as Marie turned to her sister.
"You don’t need to thank me," Alyson said. "Sisters have to stick together." She spread her arms to give Marie a hug.
Marie stepped forward. But to everyone's surprise, her bony hands went to Alyson's throat.
Alyson made a choking cry as the hands tightened. Marie uttered a low grunt, then the grunt became a horrifying wail. "I hate you! I hate you! I always hated you!"
Alyson twisted and squirmed, but she couldn't escape Marie's grasp. Her fingers squeezed until Alyson's face darkened to a deep purple.
"I thought I escaped you," Marie said through clenched teeth. "But you had to bring me back. Now, die. Die!"
Alyson uttered one last gasp and died. She sank to the floor beside Veronica. And then the life went out of Marie with a sound like air escaping a balloon. She folded in two, sank into herself, then collapsed, her head smacking the floor with a sound like a wet sponge.
Silence for a long moment. Then the room filled with gasps as Veronica raised her head. No one moved as Veronica slowly, painfully, pushed herself to a sitting position, shaking her head as if trying to clear her mind.
"You're alive!" Jillian cried. "You're okay!"
"We're all going to get out of here!" Marty exclaimed, pumping his fists above his head.
"Not so fast," Veronica said, her voice weak, just above a whisper.
Everyone turned to stare at her.
"Not so fast," she repeated. "Someone has to return my life energy to me. Someone has to sacrifice. Who will it be? Marty? Will it be you? Jillian?" Veronica pulled herself to her feet. "Come here, Marty. Come here and give me a hug."