For Emily (based on true events)

There's nothing you wouldn't do for your sister.
There’s nothing you wouldn’t do for your sister.

“Be careful out there,” your mother’s words echo in your mind as blood oozes from Cheryl’s perfectly plump lips. “You know tonight is the anniversary, right?”

A cold breeze dances through the forest, and a million leaves clap for its performance. You breathe deep the fresh air, and wonder how they could be so stupid to think you didn’t know what they did. You guess ignorance and careless assumptions have been the deficiency of man, and you’re right. Oh, but how you wish you were wrong. Had you endured your own ignorance you wouldn’t be in that dark forest. As it were, however, fate has other plans for you.

You had blindfolded each of them. You didn’t do it because you were afraid they’d see your face but rather to scare the shit out of them. They needed to know real fear. They needed to know what it felt like to be your sister. She had been born into darkness, you wanted them to feel as she felt when they lured her into this god-forsaken forest and snuffed out her innocent life.

The soft moonlight intermittently shines through the branches as the percolating clouds pass overhead. Cheryl whimpers, and even though her tears wet the blindfold, you chuff with disgust. Maybe there was a point when curiosity had turned her into an ice-cold monster, but that time had gone. Now, she is nothing more than a frightened woman wishing she hadn’t killed your sister. She begs for your forgiveness, but she doesn’t deserve it because now it is you suffering life as a soulless monster.

“Who’s idea was it?” you ask as lightning flashes overhead. Booming thunder crashes, a crescendo to your climaxing emotions.

You pull a bloodstained bat from your bag. The very same bat they used to kill your sister. Alan suddenly starts to cry. With each deep-bellied wail, he spits snot and tears into the darkness. You thought for sure Cheryl would cave first, but now that you think about it, Alan is the weakest of the three. Of course, even the weakest find strength when self-preservation is the only thing they have left. You walk to Alan, and he tilts his head toward the sky.

“Alan?” You ask, and press the thick end of the bat against his cheek.

“No, man, I swear to God it wasn’t me.”

“Shut the fuck up, Alan.” Richard’s deep, forceful voice cuts through the night like a train through a brick wall. He’s the guy everyone listens to because he’s got a leaders personality. “If you say one more fu—”

The bat slams against Richard’s head, and your fingers go numb. Three more times you smash it into his face, and although Alan’s cries are almost too loud to bear, you can still hear Richard’s skull crunching. When you finished, he leans forward, now only held up by the binds the tie him to the tree.

You return to Cheryl and ask her, “Dick over there started this whole thing, right? You guys were just along for the thrill?”

Alan said, “Leave us alone, man.”

Another frigid breeze thrashes the leaves, and the comforting drum of rain follows it. Soon, the oddly warm water beats against all of you. After closing your eyes, you enjoy the feel of the water as it pours over you. “I know what they found at your house, Alan. The police tried to hide that fact from my family, but I know what you did to her.”

“I didn’t, I swear I didn’t!”

The bat lands hard against his stomach, and then you swing for a homerun. Unfortunately, the ball doesn’t leave the park. It merely falls to the side, silent and no longer weeping.

You return to Cheryl one last time, and move close enough to smell her perfume and feel the fine peach hairs on her ear tickle your lips. You whisper, “Do you know what blood and death brings to this forest?”

She starts to whimper again, and you take a long deep breath to savor her fear. “It brings all kinds of dangerous creatures. Ones that suffer eating dead flesh, but will enjoy the live treat I intend to leave them.”

She blubbers as you walk to your bag and pick it up. She calls for you to spare her, but you can’t do that. You won’t do it. You gave the others a quick death, but you cannot give her the same relief. She was supposed to be your sister’s friend. She was supposed to protect her from the world she herself couldn’t see. She knew your sister was blind in reality, sure, but she was innocent, too, blind to the darkness of man. For her betrayal, you will never forgive her. So she must suffer, and while you may never feel whole or at piece, at least for a short time you can feel some manner of adequate albeit false satisfaction.

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