Tales Behind the Tombstones

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic

Chapter 1 (v.1) - Bells, Batts and strange cats.

Submitted: June 12, 2017

Reads: 3713

Comments: 20

A A A | A A A

Submitted: June 12, 2017









1.Bells, Batts and Strange Cats




‘I was not the first,

Nor with me does it end.

The ash of thy bones will dust this earth,

Till blood debt has paid.’




They had been inseparable for years. High school sweethearts. And in an instant, the bitter taste of infidelity and betrayal had washed away all her lifelong hopes and dreams. They had planned to get married, buy a home and raise a family. Between them they had saved more than enough for a deposit; she left all that as she slammed the front door behind her. With tears streaming down her face, she ran to her car, thrust open the door and slid behind the wheel. Her tyres screeched as she sped out of the driveway and down the dimly lit street. 

Abigail’s headlights barely cut through the darkness and torrential rain; the flashbacks of her leaving her long-term boyfriend, Dean still clung to her thoughts like a wet facecloth. As she shifted gears, she glanced down at her Pandora bracelet; evidence of every birthday, Christmas and Valentine’s Day attached to it in the form of crystal beads and various charms. Tears filled her eyes, and she swallowed down the bile as the vivid, sour memories played over in her mind; the tangled, naked bodies of her fiancé and best friend between their Egyptian cotton sheets. 

How could he do this… and with her...?

A good hour had gone by–it could have been longer. She wasn’t keeping track of time, but the sky had become much darker than when she left. The moon was high above her, but clouds concealed the stars offering next to no light for her impromptu road trip.

As she was rounding a tight bend, the front left tyre struck a pothole and sent her hurtling across the wrong side of the road, crashing through a wooden fence, and coming to an abrupt stop against the gnarled stump of an old hickory tree. Her car sputtered and choked; steam billowed out from under the crumpled hood. Hissing sounds escaped her clenched teeth as she realised how close she had come to losing her life.

“Shit! Shit! Shit!” she screamed, slamming her fists against the steering wheel. Ravens cackled and cawed as they rose from a nearby elm tree and took flight in several directions, startling her.

She retrieved her cell phone and switched it on.

The bright luminescence from the screen blinded her for a fraction of a second before her pupils adjusted. “Great… just great…” she muttered under her breath. The battery was on two bars and there was no signal. She tossed it back into her bag and sighed, exasperated. 

She turned the key in the ignition, desperately trying to start the car. Nothing. It refused to turn over. 

"Shit!" she swore as she grabbed her bag and exited the car. There were no streetlights or houses, or presumably any sign of life for miles. She had been paying little attention to her surroundings on the way out there and could not recall the last time she had passed a gas station or a dwelling of some sort which seemed strange given the well-made wooden fence she had ploughed through. 

Slamming the car door, she activated the central locking out of habit and tossed her keys into her bag. She scanned her surroundings and stopped to listen for a moment. All she could hear was the sporadic hoot of a nearby owl and a symphony of cicadas that seemed to come in rhythmic waves; reaching a crescendo and gradually coming to dead silence before starting their chorus again. There was a barely audible gurgling sound–a stream, or a small river, perhaps?

Against her better judgement, she followed when she knew walking along the roadside hoping a random car would come by made more sense. It was almost as though her brain had switched to autopilot, and she had no choice but to listen to the directions inside her head. The rain had dissipated; she was a little damp, but it was a regular Tennessee night in July, and she was relatively warm. 

Soon she reached the stream and stopped to admire the countryside. The moon cast an eerie, morphed reflection across the surface of the murky water cutting through the surrounding darkness. 

She followed the stream hoping it would lead her toward a farmhouse, or at least somewhere with a working phone. Walking for what seemed like about thirty minutes, she suddenly noticed an obscure, dark red building. On the front left side of what appeared to be a barn door was an upside-down cross made from two shabby planks of timber nailed together. The strange fixture set her teeth on edge. She shivered. As she rounded the barn a thick layer of fog blanketed the ground and her ability to navigate her footing became difficult. She walked hesitantly, one foot in front of the other making sure she didn't twist an ankle or worse. The moon had disappeared behind some clouds and darkness enveloped her. She instinctively reached inside her bag, retrieved her phone and used the light from the screen to guide her way forward. 

For a moment, she forgot all about the naked, tangled bodies. Her mouth dropped open in horror as a large, dilapidated building unexpectedly loomed in front of her. It was imposing; an elaborate, off-white, two-story timber home with a tall, brick chimney and a front porch that sat neglected and dusty. It looked centuries old. Suspended by cast iron chains at the front of the property was a barely legible sign. A sudden gust of wind caught it, creating a calamitous orchestra of rusted steel and weathered hardwood. Abigail jumped, dropped her phone, fumbled and then caught it. Her exposed skin rippled with gooseflesh as a bitter chill blew in from the south.

Scattered about the property stood various dead trees. On closer inspection, Abigail noticed that in the surrounding areas close to the dwelling, not a single tree, shrub nor a blade of grass was growing. Dead. All of it, dead. 

The house seemed hauntingly familiar to her and yet; she was certain she had never been here before. Where was she? She could vaguely recall passing a quaint little sign with the words, Welcome to Robertson County, population 641 printed on it a few miles before she came off the road.

A feeling of trepidation came over her as she stood gaping at the house. She could not force herself to walk closer. She caught something move in her peripheral vision. A large, black shadow suddenly darted to the left of the house, retreating behind the brick chimney. An amber pair of eyes peered at her through the heavy veil of darkness.

“Aargh!” She shrieked in alarm, as she took a sudden step backwards and lost her footing; she fell on her backside sending the strange mist billowing out in every direction. The eyes slowly moved closer to her. Abigail clambered to her feet, not tearing her eyes away from the black, feline form. She felt a sharp pain in her leg and sticky fluid trickle down her shin. Instinctively she wiped at it and felt the flesh of her leg peel open. She screamed in pain; her bloodied hand shook. The wound was deep, but she could not stop to wrap it. Distracted momentarily by the open wound, she did not notice the panther was now just two feet away. Suddenly it lunged at her, letting out a fierce, guttural growl from behind sharp, pointy teeth.

Abigail almost tripped over her own feet as she worked her body into a sprint, fleeing from the creature that meant to do her harm. Her lungs burned, and her heart thudded in her chest as she forced her legs to carry her swiftly over the rugged terrain. The wind blowing against her caused shooting pain to stab at her shin and each gust felt like the laceration was tearing open further.

She half limped, half ran; sharp, spiky shrubs and succulents scratched at her legs as she bounded across the field. Her damp, matted hair clung to her face. Thunder boomed overhead as the rain fell loudly against the tin roof behind her; she blinked frantically as she surged forward. Bruised, scratched and out of breath, she stopped for a moment and hunched forward with her hands on her knees. Her heart hammered loudly in her chest and she could hear the blood pounding in her ears. When she looked up, she was staring into the mouth of a cave carved into the hillside. 

“Hello!” she called out, hoping nothing but her echo would answer back. Suddenly she heard the familiar growl coming from right behind her. The hairs on the back of her neck stood up. With nowhere else to go; the wind and rain picking up, Abigail had no choice but to enter the mysterious cave. I will die out here… she thought. She bounded into the dark entrance as she felt the strange animal moving closer to her. Consumed by total darkness, she reached into her pocket for her phone and unlocked the screen. Feeling somewhat protected from the elements she glanced at her surroundings.

It was a dark, stone cave that looked like it had been there for centuries. Strange noises and humming vibrations seemed to come from all around her. An uneasy feeling swept over her. Yellow eyes peered at her from beyond the mouth of the cave. Abigail shrieked, picked up a stone near her left foot and threw it as hard as she could at the creature. The black, shadow cat vanished in a cloud of charcoal smoke, leaving Abigail standing in the cave's centre, shaking violently. In her left ear, she heard the words, ‘they will die… they all die…’

Abigail let out a spine-tingling scream.


She sat bolt upright; beads of sweat clung to her skin, her long brown hair hung loosely about her shoulders in damp, matted clumps. She blinked and stared around the darkness of the room; the digital alarm clock read 3:33 am. She clutched her blanket to her chin and exhaled loudly. 

Dean roused next to her. He was always such a heavy sleeper. “Are you okay, baby?” he muttered, sleepily. Abigail wanted to speak, but she could not form the words. 

“I–it was just a nightmare.” she stammered.

“Come back to bed, honey.” Dean soothed, rubbing her hand gently.

“I–I need some water,” Abigail said, as she slid out of bed and headed to the en-suite. She took a glass from the basin and held it under the faucet as she turned the tap. The pipes hummed and groaned. Odd… she thought. It was a modern apartment built only two years ago. Liquid trickled out slowly at first. The pipes groaned louder and vibrated violently as the pressure built up inside the plumbing. Suddenly, murky brownish-red fluid surged out of the tap. Abigail jumped back in alarm, letting out a shrill yelp. 

Taking a moment to collect herself she hesitantly stepped toward the basin again and peered into the sink. Sitting in the basin was a stone. She picked it up with trembling hands. As soon as her fingers touched the smooth surface, she felt painful surges of energy course through her body; photographic flashes of her terrible nightmare came to her in quick succession. She shrieked, discarded the stone into the nearby wastebasket and ran to her bed, pulling the covers over her and snuggling as close to Dean as she could. He moaned softly, rolled over and snuggled against Abigail's shaking body. 

“Sweetie, why are you shaking? Are you cold?” Dean hugged her tightly. 

Abigail settled into his arms as he brushed the hair away from her face and smothered the back of her neck with soft kisses. Eventually, the shaking stopped, and she fell asleep.


She was not sure what time she finally settled, but the alarm woke her at 7:15 am. She hit the snooze button and rolled over towards Dean. Her weary eyes slowly fluttered open, and she found herself face to face with him. She gasped. His eyes were unmoving; his pupils were so dilated there was barely any of the piercing green that had instantly captivated her so many years ago. Something about the way he was staring at her set her teeth on edge. She rubbed the sleep away and held her breath, staring back at him, hoping he would suddenly blink or yawn. She could hear nothing except the thudding of her heart. Thudding in her ears so loud it was almost like all the blood in her body was pooling there and nowhere else. Suddenly aware of the warm sting in her cheeks and the tightness in her chest, she exhaled.

“D–Dean?” she stammered. She gently prodded his chest and recoiled at the coolness of his skin.

“Dean?!” she screamed hysterically, throwing the covers back and leaping out of bed. 

There was blood everywhere; on the walls, the headboard, all over the sheets and the quilt. It looked as though some rabid animal had found its way in and mauled him to death. She bolted around the bed and grabbed the phone off the nightstand. With trembling fingers, she pressed 911 and hit dial. Suddenly she noticed smears of red on the receiver and dropped the phone. Her eyes fixated on her hands in disbelief. She had blood all over her hands and her clothes. 

“Oh, my god!” she said aloud, her voice cracking mid-sentence. She tugged at her clothing and checked herself for any signs of cuts, scratches or bruises. She found no injuries on herself. The thudding in her ears became louder, and the room spun.

Dull voices came from the earpiece of the phone. “Hello. Please state your emergency.”

She glanced over at Dean, then down at her hands, shaking her head and mumbling incoherently to herself. The heat in her cheeks burned with a fiery intensity. She rubbed her eyes, but it didn’t improve the blurriness; her vision was staticky, like an analogue television between channels. Powerless to stop it, she felt herself tumble towards the floor. 

When she woke, there were several police officers standing over her. One was speaking into the walkie-talkie attached to his shirt. Abigail heard the words, ‘Deceased male. Early to mid-twenties. Brown hair. Green eyes. One Dean Bell. Send a forensic team.’

“Ma’am?” Another of the police officers helped her to her feet. “I need to ask you some questions. Follow me, please.” As she was walking past the bed she glanced at Dean’s lifeless body. Her chest heaved with sobs as she saw the abstractly macabre scene laid before her and realised it wasn’t a nightmare. It was real. 

Suddenly Dean’s head turned one hundred and eighty degrees, his face warped into an inhuman, twisted grimace. Abigail screamed and clung to the police officer. He looked at one of his colleagues questioningly and all but carried Abigail out of the room. Officer Beattie, who carried her into the lounge room, placed her gently in the sofa while another officer brought her a tall glass of water.

“Miss, we need to ask you some questions.” 

Abigail sat motionlessly; her vacant stare fixated on a piece of peeling wallpaper although she didn't notice it. 


Everything around her was hazy; blurs of men in navy blue uniforms swam around her, some talking in hushed tones, others loud but still disjointed, at least to her ears. She picked at flakes of dried skin on her palms, unaware of her bloody hands. Officer Beattie watched as the red flakes drifted towards the cream shag rug. He cleared his throat.

“Miss, I know this must be very difficult for you, but I really need to ask you some questions.”

She blinked several times, glanced at the officer for a moment and then returned her gaze to the far-off wall. His eyes are so green… green like my Dean… she thought. 

She wanted to start the last twenty-four hours over. No one would believe her about what had happened. She wasn’t even sure she believed it herself. It couldn’t have been me… she thought. I was asleep…


Her throat was dry; the ice-cold water sat untouched on the side table; condensation ran down the side like rivers, creating tiny pockets of water against the glass where they landed. Officer Beattie noticed her staring at the cup intently and handed it to her. She accepted the cool beverage with two shaky hands and sipped the contents carefully. It did little to quell the dryness of her throat.

“I–It wasn’t me…” she croaked, trying to place the cup on the side table. Officer Beattie took it out of her unsteady hands and set it aside. “I–I woke up a–and he was j–just like that.”

Officer Beattie glanced at her empathetically. “Miss, can you tell me anything about last night? Anything you remember?”

“I–I th–thought it was a  -nightmare and w–when I woke up, he...” She stopped mid-sentence, unable to bring herself to say the words. That somehow, saying the words would make it more real.

“Did anyone have any reason to hurt your fiancé, ma’am?”

Abigail looked up at the officer’s face; he was a broad man, stocky and tall with large hands and he leant in a little too close. Abigail stared at him, regarding him carefully. His expression conveyed kindness and empathy. She cleared her throat; it felt like sand in her oesophagus. He handed her the glass; she took a few sips and placed it back on the coffee table. “No. N–No one. I don’t know…”

“Had he ever cheated on you?” 

Had he ever cheated? Abigail thought. Was that all a dream? Had she even left the house that night?


“I–Is my car in my driveway?”

“Miss?” Officer Beattie enquired, raising an eyebrow. 

“I–I went driving last night. I was r–really upset. We had a f–fight and–” Her lips felt dry and it was becoming increasingly difficult to swallow. The officer grabbed the cup of water and handed it to her. She took two slow sips then nursed the cup in her lap. “I–I thought he had ch–cheated on me but I w–would never–”

“You thought he had cheated on you, ma’am?” He studied her face attentively while scribbling in his notepad.

“I–I don’t know what is real anymore.” She said, almost in a whisper. She stared at Officer Beattie, her eyes laden with sadness and despair. “I had an accident in my car last night, or maybe I dreamt it, I don’t know–but when I woke up…”

“Can you give me the details of your vehicle, Ma’am?” He made more scribbles in his notepad.

“I–It’s a red H -Honda Accord. 2009 model I th–think.” She swallowed, wincing at the dryness and pain in her throat.

“And the license plate ma’am?” His pen hovered above the notepad, his eyes boring into hers.

“Uh, A… B,” Abigail’s mind went blank.


“I–I’m sorry.  I c–can’t remember…”

“That’s alright.” He said kindly. “We can search for it on the database.”

Officer Beattie beckoned over a nearby officer talking discreetly. The officer then left the townhouse via the opened front door. Abigail noticed the yellow crime scene tape in the distance. 

“Is there anyone we can call for you ma’am? Any family members?”

"I–I am an only child. I lost my baby brother a long time ago to a drunk driver. M–My parents died about six years ago–a car accident. Th–they got t-boned by a truck…" 

“I’m sorry to hear ma’am.”


"Yes, ma'am?"

“I–I don’t understand. Wh–who would do this to him?” Tears pooled in Abigail’s eyes, rolled down her cheeks and landed in the folds of her blood-stained nightgown. “I woke at about three in the morning and he was f–fine. He told m–me to get back to s–sleep and hugged me till I drifted off. The last thing I r–remember was him stroking my h–hair…”

“We’re working to figure that out, ma’am.”

“H–How did I not hear anything? How did the c-creature get in? Did it f-follow me home?”

A nearby officer who had been eavesdropping whispered in Beattie’s right ear while scrutinizing Abigail. She only heard a few words, but they were damning. Time…. death… three… 

They think I killed him? But I was awake! I would never…, she thought; her eyes darting this way and that as she struggled to recall the events of last night.


“I know you think I’m guilty, but I promise you I didn’t do it! I wouldn’t! I loved him!” Tears rolled down her cheeks and made salty pools in the folds of her pyjamas.

"At this stage, we are collecting all the evidence and your statement ma'am. We have yet to charge anyone, ma’am. We are doing our best to find out what happened to your fiancé."

"I saw a house when I went for a drive. I think the sign said Robertson County? I hit a pothole and came off the road. The accident totalled my car. I found a river and followed it until I came upon a barn and an old house. It looked run down and abandoned–a black animal appeared, a panther, I think? It scared me. I ran so fast that the rain stung my cheeks and wind whipped my hair around my face. I came to a cave and just as the animal lunged at me, I woke up. I must have been screaming because I woke Dean up."

“You crashed your car?”

"Yes, sir."

“Why did you follow the river and not the road?”

“I–I don’t know,” Abigail said. Her brows furrowed in confusion. Why did I follow the river? Following the road would have been more logical…


“I–I don’t know!” Abigail said more abruptly than she intended. “I… I had a feeling that I had to go that way…”

Officer Beattie rubbed at the stubble on his chin. 

“It was so vivid and felt so real -” Abigail continued. “- my lungs still burnt from running and my legs ached… but if I woke up screaming then it couldn’t have really happened, right? If it was all a dream–or nightmare–then he wasn’t guilty of cheating on me either, because that was part of the dream too…”

Abigail continued rambling incoherently, a vain attempt to make sense of it all. The officer that had left to find information on Abigail’s car had returned. “Sir, the vehicle is still in the garage with not a scratch on it.”

"How can that be?" Abigail's eyebrows furrowed in confusion. "So, it was all just a dream? I–I don't understand. It felt like I had been running. I felt it in my chest and my legs."

“What if she hitched a ride back with someone?” Officer Beattie thought out loud. “What time do you think you left the townhouse, ma’am?”

“I–I’m not sure, a - about seven in the evening?”

“Even if that was the case, how does one get from here to Robertson County and back again in what, eight hours?” The other officer probed. 

Officer Beattie nodded. He walked over to one of his senior colleagues; they talked in hushed tones while keeping their gaze firmly on Abigail. Her stomach tangled in knots; the fear and confusion mounted as she struggled to come to terms with everything. The way the officers were looking at her made her feel uneasy; she could feel the acidic bile in the back of her throat and repeatedly swallowed to force it back down. She grabbed the half-empty glass of water and chugged it. 

Officer Beattie dialled dispatch to arrange for a psychiatric team to attend the house. Another cop was scribbling notes with a blue biro pen into his notepad. None of it was making sense to any of the officers at the scene. Her car sat in the driveway, not a scratch on it. And there was no way she could have travelled all the way to Adams from Cincinnati and back again in under eight hours; especially not given the alleged state of the vehicle. Even if she had somehow flagged a ride home, the timing would not allow for such a journey. Officer Beattie believed given the circumstances, the best course of action was to transport Abigail to the closest mental health care facility for evaluation and treatment pending trial.

The psychiatric team arrived some twenty minutes later. As soon as Abigail saw the men in crisp, white coats step over the threshold she scampered to her feet, putting her hands up in protest. Quick, left jabs and wild right hooks barely missed the short man’s stubbled face as he stepped forward, talking in hushed tones; a futile attempt to placate Abigail. 

“Abigail. I’m Dr Michaels,” he approached her slowly with hands up, palms toward her. A second white coat appeared on the other side of Abigail. 

“I’m Dr Shea,” the other white coat said. “You can call me John.” He smiled warmly at her.

Abigail wasn’t listening. She surged forward, but the doctors and Officer Beattie worked together to restrain her.

“Listen!” she sobbed. “I didn’t do this! Find the real killer!”

“There was no sign of forced entry miss.”

“That’s impossible! I’m not crazy!” She repeated those three words over and over, all the while kicking and struggling against the men as they cuffed her and dragged her towards one of the police vehicles outside. Securing her in the backseat, Officer Beattie motioned for another police officer inspecting Abigail’s car nearby and tossed the keys to his colleague. She had depleted all her energy and fell silent; closing her eyes, she rested her weary head against the side of the door. 

“Take her to the local hospital; we will meet you there.”

"Yes, sir."

With lights flashing and sirens wailing, the officer sped off towards the hospital with the psychiatric team following closely behind.


Several days went by and for the first few days, Abigail was under strict observation and sedated.

Abigail was the primary suspect. She was the only one in the townhouse at the estimated time of Dean’s death. They found his blood all over her and neighbours had heard screams coming from within the apartment in the early hours of the morning. They subpoenaed her phone records and found no evidence of her having been anywhere near Adams on the night of the murders. But they had not, however, located the weapon used in the murder of Dean Bell. The head Psychiatrist at the Waverly Hills Sanatorium, overseeing her case, had deemed Abigail to be unfit to stand trial due to her clear mental state. She was to remain in the wing reserved for the most violent and criminally insane.

A male nurse arrived at Abigail’s room. He was to escort her to the bathroom. Feeling groggy, Abigail stumbled silently beside the nurse down the corridor. She struggled against the buckles and straps of the straitjacket. It was uncomfortable, but they forced her to wear it. 

She hadn't eaten in three days and water tasted like vinegar on her tongue. She mourned for Dean. She could not understand why nobody would take her seriously. She loved Dean. She was struggling to cling to her sanity; any threads of her mind remaining were tangled and frayed.

“I’m not crazy,” Abigail said to the nurse. The nurse said nothing. “I’m not crazy! I’m not crazy!” Abigail screamed, her words echoing off the grey, peeling walls. Inmates chimed in from within several rooms throughout the wing. Some were pounding against their doors. Some were echoing Abigail’s protests. Some were muttering incoherently to themselves against a wall.

“Calm down, Miss Abigail,” Marcus responded curtly. He was tall and of solid build, with dark brown hair and striking blue eyes. His sleeve and nape tattoos partially visible under his scrubs. “Time to shower.” He ushered her into the bathroom where a female nurse was waiting. 

A short, strawberry blonde Nurse with bright green eyes by the name of Chelsea helped Abigail out of her jacket, blue cotton pyjamas and into the shower.

“I’ll be right outside the door if you need me, Abigail.” 

She turned the faucets, running her hand under the water until it was warm enough, wiped her hands on the hand towel and watched as Abigail stepped into the shower. The nurse exited the bathroom to find Marcus leaning against the corridor wall with arms folded.

“Rough day?” Chelsea inquired.

Marcus sighed. “I really feel for her, you know? No one ever comes to visit her.”

“She has no immediate family,” Chelsea replied. 

“Do you think she did it?” Marcus’ eyebrows furrowed, his eyes full of questions.

“I don’t know.” Chelsea shook her head. “She definitely mourns him. I hear her every night as I do the rounds, crying out his name. Something about it is just so haunting.”

“I wish we there was a way to know for sure.”

“Most of the people in this place don’t know their arse from their elbow,” Chelsea said.

Marcus snickered. “I guess you’re right.”

Abigail showered for several minutes, not wanting to go back to her empty, lonely cell. Turning the taps off, she got out of the shower and towel dried herself, walking towards the basin. She had been in there so long it fogged the mirrors and windows with steam; she wiped her hand across the reflective surface and stared intently at her reflection. The ordeal had taken a tremendous toll on her. Dark bags sat under her dull eyes carrying the burden of months of exhaustion from constant nightmares and lack of sleep. She noticed a few new fine wrinkles on her face. Turning the tap on she cupped her hands under the faucet to catch water. The cool liquid brought a welcome touch to her skin as she splashed her face twice. She patted herself dry, glancing into the mirror again as she placed the hand-towel back on the rack.

The glass warped and bowed; Abigail stared at it curiously. She rubbed her eyes and looked again. Suddenly, her face transformed into a frightening, twisted grimace full of sharp, jagged teeth. Wrinkled skin covered her weathered body. Her eyes turned to soulless black pits but seemed to stare right at her. The scent of a thousand rotting corpses permeated her nostrils; Abigail gagged and retched. Without warning, the reflection screamed shrilly at her shattering the mirror into tiny splinters; blood trickled from her ears over her hands as she cradled her head. Shards of glass penetrated Abigail’s face, upper torso and her arms. She screamed, frantically trying to pull the shards of glass out of her flesh. Suddenly an aged, slender hand with talon-like fingernails reached toward her from beyond the shattered mirror. 

She let out a blood-curdling scream. She vaguely heard the muffled voices of Chelsea and Marcus calling her name as they clambered to the bathroom. The room swam around her and she felt her legs buckle. Before she could hit the ground, the darkness swallowed her completely.

















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