The Victim and Death

For most of us, Death is the end. For the vicitm, Death is only the beginning. This is the story of how she died, and how her fear of Death had more physical presence in reality than she could have ever dreamt to dread. The victim, formerly Maegan Murphy of Reeldale Academy for Girls, was born 15th November 1995 and died 25th November 2011. She had lived a good life, it was nothing exciting but she had enjoyed it while it lasted. Now she's dead, murdered to be exact, and Death has come to collect his payment... or has he? Or, more importantly, CAN he?

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5. The Victim and Red

Sunday almost passed without event. The victim both neither reminisced nor remembered the past nights events, and she proceeded to partake in regular activities such as home work and filling in time. She was no hermit, so visited the local town with a friend, as they talked of and laughed at the weather, teachers and home.

The air was chilly as they walked back to the school, unhurried by the fact curfew was only half an hour away. The pair had purses slung over their shoulders which swung as they strolled; their arms linked to both signify friendship and conserve warmth. Breaths condensed in the cold and the sky was already tinged with purple. The victim cowered at this, for reasons she could not remember.

“What’s up, Maegan?” asked the victim’s friend, whose name was Bethany Saunders, but known as Beth to her friends. They weren’t particularly close, despite knowing each other for all their high school years. They still chattered and giggled, but the victim did not feel much attached to the relationship. Beth, however, was always open, never holding back information or comments, never unsure of how they were going to be received. The victim knew this without having to remember, for her reaction to the question was evidence enough. She felt her guard instantly go up, as if she did not want to share her problem. Muscles in her body tensed.

Beth stopped walking at her friend’s discomfort, without unlinking her skinny arm. The victim felt slightly awkward where she stood, taller than her five foot friend.

“What’s wrong?” Beth pressed, her tiny, freckled face screwed with determination. She had a fine, brown fringe which came down over her eyebrows, and a spiked mid-length cut which stuck out oddly from the pressure of her red woollen beanie. Red remained a theme throughout her outfit, from her scarf to her jeans, and the victim found a new reason to question her friendship. The victim hated red.

“Nothing,” the victim replied, “just cold.”

“Are you sure?” sang Beth, as if she knew something the victim did not. She smiled with painted red (the victim cringed) lips, revealing gleaming white teeth. “Because you haven’t been right since Friday.”

“Yes, I’m sure,” she replied without hesitation.

“OK then,” Beth resumed walking, taking the victim with her. She had a small smile on her face, as if she knew what was really going on. The victim ran a gloved hand through her soft blonde hair, loose after the ponytail fiasco the previous day.  The wind pulled at it, fought her back, but the victim pressed on. She was a fighter, she decided, and fighters do not have worries or fears of the dark.

“Where did you go to on Friday?” a voice pulled her out of her bubble, as Beth asked her a question.

“What?” replied the victim.

“Me and Caitlyn were looking for you. Did you leave early or something?”

“I dunno,” she answered truthfully.

“What do you mean? How can you not know where you were?”  Beth paused. “Was it Darren?”

“Who?”

“You don’t have to pretend with me. You can tell me if he upset you, or if you left together. I’m your best friend.”

The victim would have raised an eyebrow at her last words, but something was happening inside her head. She remembered there was party, she was sure of it. But she did not remember, however hard she tried, experiencing it. The lights, the crowds of people, the precious few hours in which to get ready. The smell of sweat of the dance floor, clomps of heels which were far too high, the bitter sweet taste of the illegal alcohol stolen from the local convenience store. None of this drama sprang to mind, and neither did someone significant called Darren.

“Who’s Darren?” the victim sounded as  blindly clueless as she normally did, but even that she wasn’t sure on anymore.

In the confusion the victim had not realised they had once again stopped walking at some point during the conversation. Beth laughed as she started to move again.

“How can you not remember him?” Her laugh high and unconsciously mocking. Her free hand moved as she talked. “He was gorgeous! He was like a gold colour, with hair that was even lighter than yours! I loved his eyes. They were proper blue, not like  mine. He seemed to really like you. You were getting on really well until Nathalie got all huffy about it. I dunno why, ‘cause it’s not like she has a claim on him or anything. She made a big scene about it, screaming at him and you. Everyone's still talking about it! How could you have forgotten?”

The victim had a funny feeling it was a weekend for that.

***

Reeldale Academy for Girls did not look like a school. It was more a house, with a yard which was bleak, grey and suffering, the many years of weathering raindrops taking its toll. It was cloaked in ivy, hiding the once beautiful Tudor decorative, all black and white and grand. The tallest, winding chimney was reaching as far up as it would go, the modern style aerial piercing the sky’s surface, sending a ripple of autumnal clouds in a perfect circle, the halo oddly out of place.

The victim loved it though. She loved  the musty, aged  smell of the walls, the warmth of the history splitting at the seams. She loved the cosy Victorian fires once introduced, and the fairytale effect it would have on her year, rather than her city life summer of glass and concrete. Seclusion was another bonus, and the peacefulness of the country woods and fields. Even in November, the victim felt the cold a positive.

She said goodbye to Beth in the hall, as Beth’s dorm was in the left wing of the mansion, whereas the victim was in the right. The victim liked this, as in her mind, she was commonly in the wrong. This was a nice joke to make her smile as she walked down the ground floor corridor, getting used to the heat of the house compared to the frost outside. She removed her mint green jacket as she walked.

When the victim reached 236, she entered her dorm, praying Nathalie was not back yet. She concluded her roommate  was still out, as she went in to the empty room. The victim smiled a beautiful, pink faced smile, and instinctively dropped her jacket on the floor, glancing quickly in the mirror as she passed. God, she looked windswept.

Taking out her bag of cosmetic purchases from her purse, she glanced around the room. It was indeed tidier, which meant Nathalie was true to her word. It was a good job she had bought new mascara. The only the only thing on the floor was the victim’s mint jacket, which was puffy and sewed in a diamond shaped pattern. She liked her mint jacket. It reminded her of her emerald blouse.

The victim had a sudden thought. She set down her bags on the bedside cabinet with a clunk, and walked with purpose towards Nathalie’s side of the room, which still smelt faintly of smoke. She remembered very little these days, but she did remember a thought she had had the previous day: if Nathalie was keeping her beloved blouse anywhere, it would be in her wardrobe.

She opened the wooden doors with force, and tore through sequined t-shirts, leather jackets and skinny jeans as hangers rattled. But, there was no trace of green anywhere, let alone emerald. Just as Nathalie said there wouldn’t be. The victim sighed. It had been a long shot anyway.

On a whim, she looked down, and what she saw was about to plant itself into the victim’s memory forever, however lapse it had been over the past few days. What she saw was crumpled and definitely emerald. She scooped it out, and saw with horror etched across her heart-shaped face  that it was not just emerald anymore. It was a deep crimson, with a ragged tear in the fabric.

And still ever so slightly damp.

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