Now she could rip those shackles off and stand free for the first time.

Now, she could truly be happy.

“What happened?”

Oops! This image does not follow our content guidelines. To continue publishing, please remove it or upload a different image.

“What happened?”

For a moment, Savannah was convinced that she was still under a hallucination. She took in the scene before her: Noah, dead on the floor with Ryder face down near him. Kayla and Aaron looked at her with tear filled eyes, the grief written all over their faces.

“Kayla? Aaron?”

Neither of them answered and that scared her more than anything. She felt her stomach clench and was convinced that the guilt inside her was still trying to eat its way out. The memory of it was embedded in her mind, she could still feel it tearing it’s way through her flesh.

It wasn’t real. But Noah lying dead on the floor was.

“Someone please tell me what happened!” She couldn’t hide the hysteria in her voice. Each second that went by without an answer was an eternity. The guilt was back, gnawing on her stomach lining. Was Noah’s death her fault? Was his name another to add to her list?

“R-ryder.” Kayla managed to choke through her tears.

With that one word Savannah’s world shattered, breaking into tiny fragments. She knew. Of course she knew. If her hallucination had been the guilt from the car accident, then Ryder’s would have been something similar.

The events from that night still plagued them. It was a ripple effect that was still causing people harm. Because of her, Noah was dead. Poppy Cartwright was dead. Savannah felt the weight of it pressing down on her, wrapping her up in misery.

She was the one that should have died.

“I’m so sorry.” There was no stopping the tears that streamed down her face. Savannah realised, too late, that she should be comforting her friend. She fell to the floor and crawled over to Aaron and Kayla, wrapping an arm around each of them.

The three of them stayed like that for a long time, as each second bled into the next. Coated in blood, sweat and tears that all mingled together into one pool of grief.

“Why?” Savannah asked the question she wasn’t sure she wanted an answer to.

“It was the serum.” Aaron tightened his arms around Kayla as her sobbing increased in volume. “We don’t know what he was seeing.”

“I do.”

At Savannah’s words, Kayla’s sobs quietened slightly and she looked at her friend expectantly, waiting for an answer.

“A year ago, Ryder and I were in an accident.” The words that Savannah had been holding in for so long seemed to spill out of her like an overflowing cup. “There was a little girl on the road. She didn’t-,” she swallowed hard, her confession sticking in her throat like a popcorn kernel. “She didn’t make it. What I saw-,” her stomach clenched again, the guilt making itself known. She couldn’t finish what she had been about to say as the memories of the monster inside of her surfaced.

“You guys killed someone?” Kayla’s eyes had widened at the revelation. Savannah was convinced she could see the pedestal that Kayla had always held Ryder on, shatter into thousands of pieces.

“Poppy. Poppy Cartwright.”

Saying her name was hard. Seeing the look of disgust that crossed Kayla’s face before she could hide it, was even worse. Savannah glanced at Ryder again. How much damage had the two of them caused? How many families would they rip apart?

He was bad for her. He always had been. A best friend’s brother should be off limits. But she hadn’t been able to resist the pull she felt towards him. Look where it had gotten them. The guilt reared it’s ugly head once again, her stomach twisting into knots.

“It was an accident, Kayla.” Savannah could feel their friendship snapping, leaving frayed and loose ends dangling between them, much like the words that neither of them wanted to say.

It may have been an accident, but it doesn’t change a damn thing. She’s still dead. Noah’s still dead.

“The ‘why’ doesn’t matter anymore.” Aaron’s voice shook as he spoke. “All that matters now, is that he’s-,” he paused, not wanting to say the words. “We have to get out of here before someone else gets hurt.”

“How are we going to do that?” Kayla asked, turning away from Savannah, as if it she couldn’t stand the sight of her face anymore.

Savannah wanted to bridge the gap between them. Her confession had caused a rift, an endless chasm that she knew she would never be able to fix. Kayla would never forgive her for what she and Ryder had done and the repercussions it had caused.

“First,” Aaron disentangled himself from Kayla and stood up on shaky legs. He pulled his shirt off over his head and placed it gently over Noah’s bashed in skull.

As if a piece of cloth would cover up the truth.

“I couldn’t stand seeing it anymore.” Aaron’s tears had returned and he brushed them away quickly. Neither of the girls missed the pain that filled his face. His shirtless torso was covered in tiny scars that Savannah had never noticed before. The small round marks shone white in the dim light of the room.

She wondered if his hallucination had anything to do with them.

“Aaron-,” Savannah started, but managed to stop herself just in time. What he had seen was none of her business. She shouldn’t make him relive it just to satisfy her curiosity.

“I’m going to try and get the door open. Savannah can you help me?” Aaron stalked towards the door without waiting for an answer from her, purposely giving Kayla room to grieve.

“I’m sorry Aaron,” Savannah whispered as they reached the strange door with no handle.

“For what?” Aaron ran his fingers along the groove between the wall and the door, searching for something, anything that could help them get it open.

Savannah glanced back at Noah’s body, Kayla still sobbing on the floor near it. “You loved him too.”

Aaron stopped in his movements, his shoulders sagging as he turned to look at the golden girl weeping over her boyfriend’s corpse.

“I did.” His eyes glazed over. “But it was selfish and I shouldn’t have. She deserved better. And she sure as hell doesn’t deserve to be here.”

Savannah thought over his words for a while as she watched his fruitless attempts to get the door open. Her, Aaron, Noah and Ryder had all betrayed Kayla in a way. The guilt made yet another unwelcome return, swirling through her stomach like ribbons dancing in the wind.

“Do we?” Savannah asked, voicing the question that she already knew the answer to.

Even before Aaron opened his mouth to respond, Savannah could see the resolve in his eyes. He really thought that all of them apart from Kayla belonged in this hell.

“For what we’ve done. Yes. Yes we do.”

Karma, much like the crazy psycho that had locked them in here, was truly a bitch.

Oops! This image does not follow our content guidelines. To continue publishing, please remove it or upload a different image.
Phobia Where stories live. Discover now