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As Deborah entered the kitchen, the final room between her and the outside, the first thing she noticed was her friend Sam slumped forwards onto the marble breakfast bar, a butcher’s knife sticking out of the back of his head.
A vast pool of blood dripped over the table’s edge and pattered to the floor.
She couldn’t help but notice that a huge cross had been daubed in blood on the wall.
‘Prepare for salvation,’ was written beneath it in dripping six-inch letters.
A sound made her spin, but it was just blood trickling down from the slit in Darren’s throat.
He slumped back against the fridge, his glassy eyes staring at the still-frosty beer in his left hand.
His right hand held a knife from the same block as that which was buried up to the hilt in Sam’s skull – a weapon he’d never even had chance to defend himself with.
The gun went everywhere her eyes did, but it seemed clear that her enemy wasn’t here.
Has he fucked off? She dared to hope.
The very idea sent life-affirming relief flooding through her.
But then she shook her head.
I can’t let my guard down, or I’ll end up like those poor bastards.
She pulled the kitchen door open quietly, not daring to make a noise that might alert him to the fact that she was on her way outside.
She shivered as the cool night air hit her.
Steam began to rise from the warm blood on her clothes and skin.
A noise from behind her made her jolt and she felt certain that it was him coming for her, eager to wet his knife in her guts, but the reality was arguably even worse.
Camille, the most popular girl in class, was shoved up against the wooden wall of the house.
Her arms were horizontal, nailed to the wall in twin splatters of red.
Nails ran through her feet and into the wall.
The sound seemed to have been her head finally flopping onto her chest as her lungs gave out.
Blood ran down the walls in thick trails.
‘Forgive them, Lord for they know not what they do,’ was written in the dripping blood legend above her.
Deborah’s eyes filled with tears.
Camille had been one of the sweetest kids in class.
Never had a bad word to say about anyone.
She’d been a kind soul with an infectious laugh and some serious talent when it came to penning horror stories.
Her skin crawled as though someone was watching her, but she couldn’t see where they were.
She wasn’t even sure if there was anyone there.
The gun held out in front of her, she made her way down to the neighbour’s house.
With every step she took, she felt closer to safety.
Moving further from hell and closer to heaven.
She was right, but not in the way she had hoped.
By the time she’d gotten to her neighbour’s house, she was utterly exhausted.
Her body had seized up in the cold weather and she felt like dying might actually be preferable to the pain she was going to wake up with.
Assuming, of course, she survived that long.
She felt sure Cross had gone, as there had been nothing to suggest that he was still following her.
She saw no car, which made her feel like he’d made his getaway rather than getting his head blown off.
Still, doubt gnawed at her.
Would he really give up so easily after he’d killed everyone else at the party?
The neighbour’s house was also still, but she didn’t take this as strange, especially since it was just after five in the morning.
They were quiet, kept themselves to themselves, in fact she thought they had kids (she saw them that rarely that she wasn’t sure).
She rang the doorbell, all the while her eyes scouring the darkness for her hidden attacker.
Nothing moved, bar the brass wind chimes tinkling on the eaves to her right.
The silence again consumed her.
She felt tiny.
Not sure if the doorbell had worked – she’d certainly not heard it – she went to rap on the door.
As her hand touched the varnished wood, it swung open and she knew instinctively that something was wrong.
People just didn’t leave their doors unlocked, even out here in the country.
Her flesh began to crawl, her heart to race.
The moisture in her throat seemed to suddenly evaporate.
Still, she figured it was worth trying to call the cops, or an ambulance.
The phone will be fucked, she thought.
As though God was finally on her side in all of this, she saw blue lights coming up the drive.
‘Thank you,’ she said, gazing gratefully into the heavens.
She ran to the cop car, the gun now hanging low by her side.
She was going to be ok.
The good guys were here.
They would catch the bad guy and riddle him with bullets, saving her conscience the burden of killing him.
As she approached the car from the passenger’s side the window wound down.
‘Get in, miss,’ the cop said.
‘Oh, my God. Am I pleased to see you,’ she gushed. ‘There was this madman. He had a priest’s collar on. But he was killing my friends. He said we’re all sinners.’
‘You can relax,’ the cop said. ‘It’s all over now.’
Something flagged in her mind as being wrong, but, in her haze of terror and adrenaline and despair she couldn’t figure out what it was.
‘Have you caught him?’ she asked. ‘I think he might still be hiding out here somewhere.’
‘Not yet, miss. But we will,’ the cop said.
It was the wind that made her realise what was happening.
It blew up really intense, blowing dust up from the road that went into her eyes.
She blinked hard to try and clear it, and that’s when she realised the cop hadn’t blinked in all of the time they’d been talking.
She moved closer to the car, to get a better look at him.
As she did so, she saw that his eyes were staring, glassy, dead.
Saw the knife, glistening with dark gore, that protruded from his belly, shoved through the seat from behind.
While she stared, in mute contemplation, the driver’s door came open.
In a flash she was face to face with the man who had killed all of her friends.
‘You didn’t think I’d give up on you that easy did you, sinner?’ he giggled, twisting her wrist so the gun fell out onto the road.
This is it, I’m going to die, she thought.
He grabbed her head with his hands on her temples, crushing together so hard she feared he was going to crack her skull like an egg.
Without warning, he slammed her head into the car door, hard enough to make the world do a flip.
Before she could react he had done it again.
He was still doing it when everything became darkness.
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