I’ve always loved acting. The rehearsals, the performing, and the satisfaction of getting a large applause at the end was all just fun and exhilarating.

One thing that always made me nervous, though, wasn’t the pressure of memorizing lines. It wasn’t the dreading of getting a callback. It wasn’t even the performances themselves. It was the competition.

At my old middle school in New Jersey, acting was a big thing and several talented kids would try out. I would sometimes get the parts I wanted, but at other times I would be sorely disappointed. But enough on that topic later. The events of my early high school years were brutally disturbing and scarred me for a very long time. But it’s something that I’ve wanted to get off my chest for a long time, and hence, here we are.

I guess my story starts when I moved from New Jersey to Michigan in that eventful summer before high school, when you try to have fun but are nervous of the years to come.

You see, I didn’t have a whole lot of friends in middle school and was hoping to turn that around in my new school. I had only three friends to say goodbye to as my family and I left for Michigan, and knew I would miss them, but was guiltily hoping that I wouldn’t be wishing to have friends like them again while in my new school.

The first few days in Michigan consisted of nothing but the strenuous chore of moving all of our household items into our new suburban home. After a few days of this traumatic experience, my parents finally allowed me and my sixteen year old brother, Tobias, to go out and find some friends.

I frankly had no idea on how to go about this, but my brother seemed to manage.

Within the first day he brought over two rising junior guys who happened to do theatre, so I was interested in making some older friends who were actors at the school but also nervous that I would make a bad reputation of myself from the beginning. Apparently, I didn’t.

Their names were T.J. and A.J., oddly enough. They were quite welcoming and friendly. T.J. was a buff and good looking guy but also kind of loud and boorish. He always quoted Breaking Bad and literally threw knives at our back fence during his first time over. A.J., on the other hand, was a tall, sensitive guy. Within the first twenty minutes of meeting him, he asked for my opinion on this beautiful love poem that he was planning to give to a girl he liked.

I liked them from the start. When my freshman year at high school started, I was on great terms with both of them. Much to my surprise, I made friends with others quickly.

At lunchtime on my first day, T.J. invited me to his table. A.J. was there, being as quiet and timid as he usually was and so were a variety of spunky teens like myself.

All did theatre, and their names were Craig, a fun and enthusiastic freshman who had a huge sense of humor; Kelsey, a very pretty tomboy who was a senior; Kyle, a very tall super goofy and sarcastic sophomore; Felicia, a funny and rather, hehe, horny freshman; And, finally, Katelyn. Katelyn took my breath away the minute I saw her. She was beyond beautiful and was one of the smartest and sweetest girls I ever met. She laughed at every joke I attempted while at the lunch table and whenever someone else was talking, she’d shoot me a smile. But, I knew I had no chance since she was a junior and most likely had guys all over her.

Our conversation at the lunch table eventually turned to a story about a sophomore girl last year who was brutally murdered and dumped into a large pond in her backyard. Her name was Ali.

Everyone else at the table nodded casually after T.J. mentioned this, and I realized it must have been a huge story in the town a year ago.

I asked about it and A.J. said that she had been in a lot of his classes and kept mostly to herself. Ali was, in fact, the stage manager in many of the theatre productions, but none of them actually talked to her since she rarely opened her mouth unless it was to yell out a command.

One night, when her parents were both working late, someone apparently snuck into her house and stabbed her to death. She was dumped into the pond in the backyard. No evidence was found on who did it.

I listened, shocked and terrified that someone so horrible could be living in such a quaint little town.

Kelsey said that the plays this year will be dedicated to her.

After lunch, I headed with Craig and Felicia to theatre. On the way there, I asked them about Katelyn. Felicia didn’t really know her, but Craig was her neighbor and told me that she was a rather rambunctious girl. Guys loved her, she was a terrific actress, and was super smart. That lowered my hope even more, which Craig must have seen in my face and made him laugh. He told me to never give up hope.

We got to theatre and met our teacher, Ms. McCormally. She was a fifty year old jokester who was always ready to make fun of you in a friendly sort of way. I didn’t really make friends with anyone else in the class, but that was okay since Craig and Felicia were hilarious and fun to sit next to.

At the new school, they do one fall play and one spring musical. We learned that we were doing "Death of a Salesman" for our fall play and "The Producers" for our spring musical, which surprised me seeing how inappropriate it could be. But hey, I was in a blue state.

The rest of the school day was a bit of a blur, but I rode the bus home and it turned out that Katelyn was on my bus, sitting in the back laughing with some senior guys who were sitting all around her. Figures, I thought. But right before I was about to sit in the front with someone I didn’t know, I heard her call my name. It was Ian, by the way.

I froze in place suddenly and my heart did a flip. I hoped it wasn’t too noticeable. I looked back and heard her call me over. I was speechless, but hid it well and walked casually over to her and her friend, Darby. The senior guys seemed to have broken up into their own group and began talking among themselves.

Katelyn and Darby both shot me a welcoming smile as I sat down in their seat. I was nervous at first, but progressively got over my social anxiety. I even had the courage to crack jokes.

Darby laughed every once in a while, but Katelyn laughed at everything I said, which made my heart flutter. We had the same taste in music as well. We loved Coldplay, Imagine Dragons, and Glenn Miller.

Over the course of September, we got closer and closer until, on perhaps the best and most shocking day of my life, she asked me to be her boyfriend one morning in front of the school.

I can’t tell you how speechless and exuberant I was that morning. After standing in shock for about ten seconds, I screamed out yes repetitively and quite exuberantly which made her laugh. Those days when I began to date her were the best in my life. We held hands, she surprisingly showed me off to everyone she knew, and we even kissed after one fun movie night at her house! It was the first and possibly best kiss of my life.

I couldn’t believe how lucky I was. As they say though, “Life turns on a dime”.

The fall play auditions were drawing ever closer and so was October. I wanted to try out for the character, Happy in the show. For those who don’t know "Death of a Salesman", Happy is the lead’s son. But, evidently, so did A.J. I knew A.J. would be competition, but didn’t really care because he was a great friend and hoped he would be happy (no pun intended) if he beat me to it. I was nervous though, and this look radiated off me.

Katelyn wanted the part of Linda Loman, the lead’s wife. I knew she would get it, seeing how great of an actress she was. We would text each other all night and support each other with getting what roles we wanted.

Everything was great until the night before auditions. I was waking up after a long night of texting Katelyn when my mom came into my room with a look of concern and sadness. I could tell something bad happened the second she walked in.

She slowly and nervously told me that A.J. was brutally beaten to death with a baseball bat in his garage the night before. I listened in shock, fighting tears. I just couldn’t believe it. I didn’t want to believe it. A.J., the kind-hearted junior who showed me his love poem. I wonder if he succeeded in giving it to her? Why didn’t I ask when I had the chance?

My mom, being my mom, still forced me to head to school as I fought tears. Katelyn, apparently, didn’t know of the tragedy and I broke the news to her on the bus. We comforted each other on the way to school.

A lot of students heard of the murder, and it stirred up controversy and fear. Some popular kids in English who ignored me kept saying that there was a serial killer in our midst, and I had to admit, it did kind of seem that way. First Ali, and now A.J. I prayed that it was just a coincidence that they were both in theatre.

At lunch, we had one empty seat. All of us were silent and were overly depressed. Even T.J.’s face showed he cried all morning.

Finally, Craig broke the silence and asked if the auditions were postponed or if the play itself was cancelled.

Kelsey blankly responded by saying that she talked to Mrs. McCormally and heard the auditions would be postponed and that it would be dedicated to both Ali and A.J. We were told the proceeds would go straight to their families.

I found this to be sweet, but it didn’t solve the problem of catching the barbaric and possible serial killer in our small town.

After I thought of this, I thought a terrible thing. Getting the role of Happy was a large possibility now. I immediately pushed the thought out of my head and was sickened I thought something so terrible.

Theatre with Craig and Felicia was very quiet. Every student couldn’t believe for one moment A.J. had been murdered. Mrs. McCormally wasn’t in today and, it was most likely because she didn’t want to be seen depressed. I didn’t blame her.

After the longest day of school I’ve ever had, Katelyn and I went home together as we planned the night before, before we knew what happened. We mainly comforted each other and made out a little to ease the pain. After an hour, her mom picked her up. She only lived a few minutes away, but there was no way me or her mother would let her walk home alone.

A few minutes after she left, I decided to watch something funny to get my mind off of everything, so I pulled up some South Park episodes online. I watched a bunch of them for a couple of hours and even laughed a little when I got a call from Katelyn. One of the worst calls I think I ever got. I picked up, not expecting to hear anything bad but rather a soothing conversation, when I heard Katelyn sobbing on the other end of the line. I sat up nervously and anxious. “What now?” I thought.

I asked her nervously what was the matter and she told me Kelsey hung herself. When I first heard this, I was in so much shock I dropped my iPhone on my wooden living room floor, cracking the screen badly. It, it just couldn’t be. Kelsey. The popular, cute senior who always hung around with guys hung herself. I heard Katelyn’s scared and hurt voice asking me to answer on the other line in desperation. After about a minute of thinking in shock and listening to Katelyn’s anxious voice, I finally picked up my newly cracked phone and talked to her about the situation in shock.

The next day, Kelsey’s suicide was the topic of the day in class and at lunch. Apparently, she created a noose from some rope her parents kept in her garage and hung herself from a coat hanger above her bed. We found out later that her parents released her suicide note and it said: I’m a fucking slut and can’t go on now that my friend A.J. is dead.

Craig and I heard about this from Kelsey’s sister, Andrea, who was in our grade. We talked at her locker waiting for our bus to arrive. Andrea told us that Kelsey actually seemed happy the night she died, claiming she hoped to get past this death and kick some ass in the show for Ali and A.J. She then went upstairs and never came down for dinner. When her parents went upstairs, annoyed by her stubborn attitude, they found her dead. She said how distressed and weighed down they felt.

“I think that they haven’t killed themselves for my sake,” Andrea said, obviously affected by it all. Craig and I immediately stopped her right there, because she looked like she couldn’t keep on talking, and we didn’t want to listen.

Craig came on my bus with me, planning to come home with me and assist me with my overly complicated Geometry homework. Katelyn wasn’t on the bus because she had to stay after school for SAT prep.

On the way home, Craig and I tried to talk about other things rather than A.J. and Kelsey’s deaths, but our conversation constantly turned to that subject. When it turned to it an overwhelming amount of times, I told Craig that I thought that Kelsey didn’t kill herself, and that she was murdered but it was made to look like a suicide.

Craig looked at me in shock, but surprisingly didn’t protest, and his shock actually went away after ten seconds. He then slowly nodded. “Yes, I think so too,” he without a trace of emotion.

After a minute of silence, Craig finally spoke up. “There’s no way a happy girl like Kelsey would suddenly kill herself, even if one of her friends were murdered. I had my suspicions but never really believed them until Andrea told us what Kelsey acted like the night she supposedly killed herself.”

“You think so too, huh?” a deep foreign voice said behind us. We turned suddenly and saw Franco sitting behind us alone. Franco was a sophomore who took theatre and was highly talented. He was from the Dominican Republic and kept mainly to himself, but everyone in the department liked him, nevertheless.

“What?” I asked nervously, not wanting our theory to be exposed. Franco quickly stood up and three seated with us just as the bus began to transport us home.

“Ever since Ali was killed, I’ve been investigating it myself, hoping to find anything useful that could lead to her killer. You see, she was one of my best friends and I sunk into depression when she died. She was maybe even more than a friend. I honestly think I loved her. When she died, I began to keep to myself.

"Anyway, after months of mourning her, I wanted justice. The cops didn’t have any leads, so I decided to poke around for anything that could allow me to catch her killer. I started with her house and searched the perimeter and guess what I found lying in the woods a few feet from her house? A duplicate key to Ali’s house. This meant that Ali knew who the killer was and entrusted him or her with a key. I continued to search and also found a leather glove stuffed under some leaves,” Franco began to tell us.

“And did you show this evidence to the cops?” Craig asked, obviously hanging on every word.

“Of course I did, but they were no help. A month after that, I gave up the search for any other evidence, finding it hopeless.

"But, just this week, A.J. was brutally murdered in his home, and I immediately knew it was the same killer. I couldn’t search the perimeter because cops were all over the place, but I knew they wouldn’t find anything, so I patiently began to wait. Today is when I found out Kelsey supposedly hung herself. This I knew to be a false assumption because I know Kelsey and there’s no way she’d kill herself.”

Craig and I listened, both of us intrigued and terrified at the same time.

“But, why would this killer just be killing high school theatre kids?” I asked nervously.

Franco frowned. “That is something I’m perplexed by. Something I do know is if we don’t find out soon, we’ll continue to die off, one by one.”

Franco came over with Craig and I. He assured me his mother wouldn’t care because he was always out of the house anyway. I found it to be ridiculous that we were going through with searching the woods behind Kelsey’s house, but I had to prove to myself that we were wrong. I really hoped we were.

My parents weren’t home because they were at work, which I found to be horrible parenting seeing that there was a possible serial killer around here, but Craig was going to be here with me anyway, which added some comfort. Tobias wasn’t there either because he went home with his girlfriend. He’s already had five.

I drew on some boots to avoid getting my school shoes muddy, and I let Franco and Craig borrow extras that I had. After this, Franco suggested we wear gloves, because if the cops found out that there was more to Kelsey’s suicide than what they originally thought, then we would be brought into the case. I agreed, but felt like some punk kid going out to murder someone with his friends for fun once I saw myself in the mirror.

The three of us headed out to Kelsey’s house. Her house was only a five minute walk from my house, so transportation wasn’t a problem. As we walked in complete silence, Craig tried to ease the mood by cracking a random joke about how big our English teacher, Mrs. Wells’ mouth was. I laughed like I always did at his jokes, but Franco showed no signs of being entertained. I could tell how determined he was to catch the killer who murdered the girl he loved. I still prayed that every teen murdered in theatre was a complete coincidence.

Three minutes after that, we arrived at Kelsey’s house,and it seemed empty from the outside.

“Is anyone there?” Craig curiously asked us.

Franco immediately shook his head. “No. Andrea decided to still go to tennis practice today after school, Kelsey’s dad is down at the bar drinking away his pain, and her mother is briefly staying with her brother and plans to use him as emotional support.”

Craig and I looked at him, confused and full of questions, but we never got to ask any because Franco began to jog over to their backyard. Craig and I followed. Their backyard had no fence and lead straight to the woods.

As we walked by their house, I silently observed it. Their house was beautiful, but something seemed off about it. My first assumption was that I only thought that because I knew a supposed murder took place there, but then I knew that even if I didn’t know, something felt out of place when looking at it. Must be some odd sense that humans have.

Franco, Craig, and I eventually entered the woods and looked carefully at the ground and in the trees for anything that may help convince us that we’re crazy, or completely right.

We searched for quite a while in silence, and the longer we searched, the more I began to think we were crazy for doing this.

That was until Franco called for us to walk over to him. I jogged over eagerly, and what he held up filled Craig and I with disappointment. It was a rock. Seriously, a small rock almost the size of a pebble. I began to think Franco was becoming obsessive and crazy over the death of Ali.

“Uh, it’s a rock, Franco,” Craig replied, confused.

Franco ignored the rather rude remark and looked over at the back of Kelsey’s house. Craig and I followed his gaze and our eyes met nothing but the house. I turned back to Franco and saw him squinting at something.

“What is it?” I asked eagerly.

“Oh, it all makes since now,” he said, sounding like a British detective. He was beginning to piss me off a bit.

“What?” Craig asked impatiently.

Franco pointed to Kelsey’s window. “Walk closer to that window and tell me what you see.” Craig and I walked forward, confused, and Franco followed us. Once we got close enough to her window, we began to look at it and saw nothing out of the ordinary.

“I don’t see anything. Franco, I-”

But Craig was interrupted when Franco pointed at the window. “See the small smudge of white on the clear glass? That’s an imprint from a rock thrown at it, and it seems fresh. Meaning that someone may have thrown this small rock at her window the night she died to get her attention and ask her to come in. The person didn’t want to be seen coming in through a door. Kelsey knew who it was, because she wouldn’t let some stranger into her room especially, when there’s a serial killer within our town. Kelsey lets him or her in, and then the person at hand strangles her and stages it as a suicide.”

Craig and I listened, stunned at either how much of an idiot or genius he was. “H-how did Kelsey let the killer in, you think?” Craig stuttered.

Franco almost automatically began to look around and then his eyes rested on a hedge a few feet from the house and right beside the fence separating Kelsey’s house from her neighbor’s.

“Well, check behind that bush there,” he said almost triumphantly. I walked over with Craig and we saw a ladder haphazardly shoved behind it. It looked as if it was shoved with extreme haste.

“I-it can’t be. This is all too farfetched. You’re saying that the killer is someone we possibly know?” I asked shaking.

“Someone she knows, yes,” he said looking up at her window and most likely visualizing the scene. Craig and I saw no new emotion in him since we left my house.

“Couldn’t it be some random boyfriend of hers we don’t know about?” Craig asked.

“Possibly, but Kelsey would be smart enough to not trust any random guy she meets at a time like this.”

Suddenly, we heard a blood chilling scream erupt from the forest behind us. We turned our heads in shock and in terror.

Without hesitation, Franco sprinted for the treeline. We were taken aback and terrified, but ran after him anyway. We didn’t want him following that scream alone.

We arrived in the woods and stood completely silent at loss. Every twig that was snapped we turned our heads too quite suddenly. After about a minute in silence, we heard a faint gurgling sound.

The three of us froze in place, all of us terrified. Franco’s face finally showed some fear.

We slowly followed the sound and stopped when we saw a hand poking out from behind a distant tree.

The hand was covered with blood. Once we saw this, we sprinted over to the tree and poked our trembling heads behind it.

We saw Felicia. Her throat slit. Dead.

What happened next felt like a blur. Craig ran off screaming and yelling for help. Franco immediately looked off in every direction attentive. I just stood there, not believing my eyes.

A neighbor apparently heard the scream and immediately called the police. The cops arrived and took us in for questioning. Craig and I were in too much shock to talk, so Franco did the majority of it.

He told the cops nothing of what we were doing and instead told them that they decided to go on a walk together through the woods.

The cops told all of us afterwards to never go out without adult supervision from now on.

Our parents arrived hysterically and in tears. They hugged us, relieved and terrified. After that came the usual scolding and yelling for going outside without an adult and, I agreed with my parents for once.

My parents then yelled at Tobias to ride the bus home every day with me and watch me until I came home. Rather than protesting like he always did, Tobias just silently nodded.

As we were leaving the police station, I passed by an office where Felicia’s family was receiving the horrible news. I didn’t see them, but heard tragic screaming and sobbing as I passed by.

My family and I drove home in silence. As I sat in the back seat staring outside the window, I got a call from Katelyn. I couldn’t believe that I hadn’t thought of her in over an hour. Too much had happened. I didn’t want to talk to her in front of my parents so I let it go to voicemail.

When I got home, I immediately rushed to my room and called her. She answered in a second. She was sobbing loudly and asked repeatedly if I was okay. Apparently the news of Franco, Craig, and I finding the body had spread fast.

I assured her that I was okay physically, but not emotionally. I listened to her sob about the whole situation for quite some time and I helped to comfort her. I was in too much shock to cry with her. I just couldn’t believe the whole situation. I had no doubt in mind now that Kelsey was murdered. And the fact that she knew who it was.

“I’m-I’m so scared, Ian,” she sobbed through the phone.

“I won’t let any harm come to you. I promise you. I’d rather die than have you be killed,” I told her, meaning every word.

If only I could’ve kept my promise.

For the rest of the night, I talked to her and we went back and forth, telling each other favorite things of ours.

I told her my favorite movie, book, and animal. She told me the same topics as well, and I was shocked and happy to find that her favorite book was 'Salem's Lot. It was a Stephen King book about a small town in Maine being taken over by vampires. I loved that book because of the characters and because of how suspenseful it was. The book, in a way, was similar to what was happening now.

We continued to talk through the night and every word spoken from Katelyn made me even more terrified. Not for myself, but for her. I couldn’t stand the thought of losing her.

After talking until two o'clock, Katelyn told me that she was going to get some sleep. I didn’t want to stop talking, but I told her to rest. She hung up, and I sat in bed, listening to the silence.

Every creak in the house I jumped at. I was too scared to shut my eyes. I felt that when I did, I’d hear some strange sound in the room and open my eyes only to see a man’s face grinning at me. A rusty and bloody knife in his hand. I laid in bed for about an hour listening to the sounds until I finally fell asleep.

I woke up and was relieved to find that I slept without any disturbance in the night. I then became aware of my surroundings and did the usual morning routine I did every morning. The day began like any old day, but it sure didn’t end like one.

After getting ready and eating a rushed breakfast, I walked to the bus stop. Tobias already drove to school in his crappy Chevrolet.

When the bus arrived, I saw Franco beckoning me to sit with him through the window. He looked distressed and there were black spots under his eyes.

I became concerned for him and felt he was going mad from depression and fear. He had to stop poking around in places he wasn’t welcome.

The other kids from my stop filed into the bus and I was always last because I was the youngest. A weird rule our stop had.

Once I got on the bus, Katelyn was in the back of the bus and smiled at me with showing off her beautiful white teeth. I was tempted to ignore Franco’s desperate look that he had on his face that I saw through my peripheral vision and sit next to Katelyn. But, I pitied him, so I held up my hand to Katelyn and held up one finger. She nodded with a small hurt expression on her face.

I sat next to Franco as the bus began to take us to school.

“Okay, what is it?” I asked impatiently, regretting the incredibly tone I right afterwards.

“S-someone was in my house last night,” he replied, staring ahead, devoid of vitality.

I sat in silence and in terror. “What?” I managed to choke out.

“Around three o'clock, I woke up from a bad dream and heard someone walking around downstairs. At first I thought it was my mom getting a drink or something but that’s when I heard my mother’s snoring from her room which was next to mine. The person slowly began to walk up the stairs.

"I immediately leaped from my bed and locked my door. I was a coward. I could’ve saw who it was, but I was so scared. The person, or more likely murderer, slowly shuffled over to my door and attempted to open it. The knob turned and turned but the killer couldn’t get in. I wanted to scream but was frozen in place, not wanting to make a sound.

"That’s when I heard a small jimmying sound in the keyhole, and I realized that he or she was picking the lock. I immediately held the knob, praying to a god I never believed in before. The lock was picked, but I immediately locked the door again just before the knob began to turn. Then I heard silence.

"After about a minute of silence, I heard a low whisper. It was an unrecognizable stoic voice. The voice said, “Franco, no matter what you try to do, you’re dead,”. I stood there in silence, terrified and nearly pissing myself. Then, I heard the killer descend the stairs and leave the house through the front door. I immediately ran to the window to get a glimpse of who it was, but of course, he was already gone. I sat by the door for the rest of the night.”

I listened terrified that right after he finished, a boy playfully screamed in the back of the bus laughing with his friends which made me jump in terror. I was never more terrified in my life, and that was just because of a story I heard. I couldn’t imagine holding onto my insanity had it happened to me.

“Y-you have to go to the police,” I finally replied.

“No. This is something only I can stop. The police will never catch the killer,” he said rather loudly.

“Franco, you’re crazy! Even if the cops don’t catch the killer, you still need protection.”

“No! This is between him and I now. I want to kill him myself,” he said with blood lust in his voice.

“I-I won’t let you. This isn’t your business. You tried, but now you have to get help from the cops.” I regretted saying that right after the words came out of my mouth.

I was right too, because it only made him angrier. “I tried, huh? I’m not going to end there, I’m going to succeed.”

I didn’t know what to say at that point. We sat in silence until the bus rolled into the school parking lot. Franco immediately shuffled over me and was the first one off the bus.

When I got off the bus, he wasn’t in sight. Katelyn quickly came up behind me. “Hey, what was that all about?”

“Nothing. He’s just scared,” I replied.

Our lunch table felt emptier and emptier each day. Only Craig, Kyle, T.J., Katelyn, and I remained.

None of us said anything. I couldn’t stop thinking about Franco. I was certain that he was getting himself into deep shit.

Suddenly, Kyle broke the silence. “Why just theatre people?” he asked blankly.

We all turned to him, taken aback. After about a minute of silence, T.J. lightened the mood a bit. “Jealous of how great we are?” he replied. This made us all smile and Kyle even chuckled a bit.

This made me think. Why us? Who could the killer be? I felt that the pieces of the puzzle were all there, and I just had to put them together. As I found out later, they were indeed all there.

After lunch, only Craig sat with me. Felicia’s seat was empty. Mrs. McCormally was there, only she just sat at her desk staring blankly at the wall, her eyes red.

Midway through theatre, the principal’s voice spoke through the loudspeaker. An assembly regarding the violent murders was scheduled and it was mandatory.

Craig and I walked silently to the auditorium where the set pieces that were in progress for Death of a Salesman should’ve been. We sat next to each other and patiently waited for the assembly to start. I wasn’t surprised at how quiet everyone was when they piled into the auditorium.

Once everyone found their seat, the principal and police chief of our school walked onto the stage. The principal stepped behind a podium and brought the microphone close to his mouth.

“First off, I’d like to thank everyone coming to this assembly on such short notice. We all know that three kids from our very school have died in the past two weeks. Because of this, we invited Constable Moore to talk of a new set of rules issued until this murderer is caught,” our principal told us.

He then stepped down from the podium and Constable Moore stepped up. He received no applause, not that he was expecting any.

Constable Moore was a well built man, and from what I heard, was also sharp and strong minded. An ivy league graduate, Moore decided to move back to this town in which he grew up. He became the town constable in no time.

Moore cleared his throat and nervously looked out into the audience. He was never big on speeches. “Attention, everyone. Our town has a serial killer on the loose who has taken the lives of Alison Glackin, A.J. Tweed, Felicia Johnson and has caused the death of Kelsey Gereski. If anyone knows anything that may help us, please come forward sooner than later. A curfew is being issued saying that all kids must be indoors by six o'clock PM and your parents must lock your doors. No one under eighteen is allowed in the woods alone, no matter what time it is. We assure everyone that we will catch this barbaric murderer soon. We have a significant amount of evidence that we will observe thoroughly,” Moore told us.

No groans nor moans were emitted from the crowd when they heard about the curfew. Everyone seemed to understand. Even Tobias, whom I glanced at every few seconds.

Constable Moore thanked us for our time and left the stage in a hurry, desperate and worn down. The crimes were taking a heavy toll on everyone.

The principal thanked us for attending and called for an early dismissal. This was met with some cheers, but mostly silence.

As we began to file out of the auditorium and to our lockers, I searched for Franco hoping to find him and talk some sense into him. He was no where to be found.

Craig saw me looking around. “Who’re you looking for?”

I snapped my head to him. I didn’t want to tell him everything while other students could be possibly eavesdropping, so I told him to follow me to the bathroom. We walked into the empty bathroom and I told him everything Franco told me.

Craig listened just as terrified as I was. “H-he heard the killer’s voice?”

“Yes, and judging by the amount of terror in his eyes, I believed him. I don’t think he’ll survive another night if he doesn’t say anything. He’s gone mad,” I answered, finding my hand to be twitching from the fear that built up inside me.

“Well, I’ll try to text him to talk some sense into him. He has seemed rather unstable lately.”

I heard kids jogging to their buses merrily and laughing. This made me sick. They had no right to be laughing after all the murders.

“Look, I got to go. If my advice doesn’t work, then we’ll just go to the police ourselves,” Craig told me, beginning to walk away.

“The advice won’t work,” I mumbled to myself exiting the bathroom a minute after Craig did. I walked to my bus and Franco was nowhere to be found. Katelyn was in her regular seat and smiled at me. She always saved a seat for me. I smiled back. Seeing her always brightened my day.

I sat next to her and we began to talk like we always did. When I talked to her, nothing else seemed to matter.

Our conversation eventually turned to Franco and she asked if he was okay. I sighed and silently whispered everything to her.

After I was done, the bus was already halfway to my house. She pulled away from me, distraught over the tale I told her.

“H-he doesn’t realize how much danger he’s in. We have to go to the police!” she gasped under her breath.

“That’s what I’m planning to do tonight. I worry about where he is now. I really hope it isn’t too late.”

My hope was suddenly crushed literally two seconds after I spoke this. The bus drove by Kelsey’s house and several cop cars were parked in front of the house. I could see cops and other neighbors staring at something in the backyard in horror.

Several other kids turned their heads but didn’t get a clear glimpse like Katelyn and I did. because by the time they looked, we already passed by. Katelyn and I stared at each other in silence for the remaining portion of the ride when the bus slowed down at my stop.

Katelyn suddenly kissed me on the mouth and we sat there for a few seconds, passionately kissing. When we pulled away, Katelyn talked to me nervously. “Be extremely careful tonight. Lock every door, sleep in your parent’s room. Anything.”

I nodded silently and kissed her again. Kissing her were some of the best moments of my life.

After we kissed for the second time, I walked off the bus. Other boy upperclassmen tried not to look at me and reveal their envious eyes. I didn’t mind. That actually lifted my spirits a bit.

Tobias was waiting for me at the bus stop, standing by his car. He seemed a bit annoyed, but understanding that he had to watch me.

“Alright homo, let me drive you the short way home,” he said opening the passenger side door for me like he was my chauffeur.

I quickly shook my head. “No! We need to head to Kelsey’s house. There’s been an accident,” Tobias at first looked at me confused and then a small look of terror began to creep into his face. “Oh no, really?.”

“We have to go!” I panicked hopping into the passenger seat. He immediately jumped into the front seat and drove over to Kelsey’s house.

When we arrived, a cop was already beckoning neighbors who saw the flashing lights away from the lawn. I still couldn’t make out what happened in the backyard.

Tobias parked across the street and I immediately dashed out of the passenger seat and to the cop. I weaseled around the small crowd and stood in front of the cop.

“Sorry kid, you’re going to have to move back,” he said shoving me a bit.

“Please sir. Franco’s my friend!” I cried, acting a bit.

The cop stared at me with a look of shock and then pity. “Oh, alright.”

He let Tobias and I through. I ran to the backyard and my eyes met the sight of Kelsey’s shed being surrounded with yellow tape. My heart sunk. Oh Franco.

I quickly asked a cop walking by me what happened. He looked at me and frowned. “I’m sorry son, but a local boy by the name of Franco Rojas was for whatever reason poking around in the Gereski shed and opened a door leading to a small crawl space below. Apparently, the lower portion of the stairs were sawed off but he couldn’t see this because it was just darkness below. We assume that he began to descend the stairs when he fell. On the floor in the crawl space below was a placed board of wood with knives sticking out of it. He fell onto the knives and bled out quickly.”

Tobias and I gasped in terror. There was something about his death, though. Part of the way he died rang a bell to me, for whatever reason. I just couldn’t put my finger on it.

Poor Franco. I always did tell him to never pry in places a person wasn’t welcome.

Tobias immediately took me home after that. He was just as shocked as I was.

I slowly trudged upstairs when I got a call from Craig. I answered and we talked for about twenty minutes over the whole affair. He was shocked and terrified over it all and apologized for not going to the police. I honestly didn’t share his shock and terror. I knew he’d die before I could do anything.

“W-we’re not going to die. I’ll take the largest precautions. I’m not going to go down without a fight,” Craig told me.

I sighed in tears. I was terrified for Katelyn. I was terrified for Craig. I was terrified for me.

“If the cops can’t stop this, we will. The pieces are there. I intend to put them together,” I said as I hung up.

I then sat down at my desk and began to write down pieces of evidence that I had. Stuff we found at Kelsey’s, Franco’s evidence, Franco’s death, anything useful I’ve heard from others.

I began to think about the voice Franco told me about. How he described it stood out to me. And his death. His death rang some bell and whatever that bell was, I recently thought about it. And of course, the rock we found in Kelsey’s backyard. Why would she let any stranger into her room. Was she dating some guy she didn’t know much about?

The big question was, why were the victims only those who were in theatre? It was no coincidence.

I thought about Ali, A.J., Kelsey, Felicia, and Franco. What did I know about them? What reason would someone want to kill them. Franco could be explained. He was poking around. But what about the others? I thought about everything that I’ve heard and everything that I knew about them.

Wait a minute.

Suddenly, in what seemed like a flash, I knew who killed them.

It was under my nose the whole time. I never saw it before because, because I knew who he was. T.J.

It sounded crazy to me but he had the opportunities, the nature, the motives. I could always tell something else was behind that enthusiastic smile.

I began to think. He always had the nature, but didn’t really knew what was in him until he joined theatre. T.J. had a deep passion for it, I knew that. He killed Ali last year because she was highly disliked as I heard and I think T.J. loved to exploit this. She most likely came back to his insults by threatening him with her casting power which must've pissed him off to the point where his psychotic tendencies were unleashed.

Though it was probably nothing more than an empty threat, T.J. was unable to think logically, hating the idea that she controlled what part he got, so when he heard her parents were out at dinner and she was at home alone, he took the opportunity and snuck out of his house to her house at night. He broke in and stabbed her to death, most likely laughing psychotically the whole time.

After dumping her into the backyard pond, he ran home and cleaned blood off the knife, not wanting his mom to be suspicious as to why a knife was missing.

His psychotic side most likely faded away until this year, when it suddenly erupted again.

Since it was already unleashed the year before, it wasn’t as contained as it used to be. He killed A.J. because I remember him telling me that he wanted the part of Max Bialystock, the lead role, in the spring musical The Producers. However, A.J. was going to be some competition for him because of his outstanding voice. T.J., unable to think logically, finished him off.

Afterwards, the two murders must have gave him even more blood lust so he began to kill others illogically.

He had to have hated the idea of "sluts" at the time, so he murdered Kelsey and Felicia, who liked to mess around with other guys. Since Kelsey knew him, she immediately let him in after he threw a pebble at her window, with a freshly made noose stuffed into the back side of his pants.

Now with Franco. I don’t think he ever intended to kill him, but he was poking around in places he wasn’t welcome.

T.J. had to of been watching us investigate and must have known Franco would come back and visit the shed, so he set up the board with knives coming out of it. The thing about that form of weapon that itched at my brain had to of been the first time he came over to my house, and threw knives at my back fence. Knives on wood, that had to have been it, right?

I began to worry after thinking this all out. Worried for Craig and I. We had been there with Franco poking around. Maybe we knew too much.

I was scared, and knew I had to go to the police, but I had to warn Craig before anything else. I grabbed my cell phone that was sitting on my desk and attempted to turn it on. It was dead. Figures.

I quickly threw myself off my chair and grabbed an old baseball bat that was leftover from when I used to play baseball from under my bed. I intended to walk, because I didn’t want to drag Tobias into this.

I left my room and could hear Tobias talking on his cell phone as he watched House of Cards in his room. I quietly crept by his room and then rushed downstairs and out the door.

Even though it was four o'clock, it was already getting dark. I hurried up my pace, fearful that I may of had to walk home in the dark, hopefully from an uneventful visit to Craig’s.

As I began to jog to his house, I passed by Katelyn’s house. I stopped and looked at it for a bit. Her parents weren’t home so they had her older brother, Evan, come home early from his job at the hospital and watch her.

I felt that I had to tell her and warn her that T.J. was the killer. What if he went after her instead? This thought made me rush up to her front door and ring the doorbell. No answer. I didn’t hear any movement or talking from inside the house. I got nervous and rang the bell again. Another bell that went unattended to.

I frowned and tried the front door. Open. Why it was open, I didn’t know.

I closed the door behind me and stood still, hoping to hear a sound. That’s when I heard Nirvana coming from an unknown area. I slowly crept through her front hall and into their living room. The sound of the music was closer. I crept out of the living room and into the dining room.

The music sounded closer and that’s when I realized that it was coming from the basement. A small amount of light could be seen from under the door. Someone was down there, I nervously thought as I tiptoed over to the door, sweating with terror.

Baseball bat ready, I slowly pushed the door open and the music could be heard clearly. It was Territorial Pissings by Nirvana.

I’ve never seen Katelyn’s basement before this, so when I did, I saw it as a perfect basement for some cliched slasher film. The stairs were wooden and were progressively rotting away. I couldn’t see the rest of the basement until I descended the stairs, but from what I saw, it was a cold metal floor with a water heater in the corner.

There was a horrible stench in the air and it was freezing. Her basement was a lot unlike the rest of her well decorated house, to say the least.

I began to descend the stairs with my baseball bat raised. As I walked down, I began to hear a vague sound of sobbing that the music droned out. I panicked but realized it wasn’t Katelyn. It was a man’s. Evan. The sobs were followed by quiet, muffled moans and screams.

This made me quicken my pace and when I got to the base of the stairs, my eyes met a terrifying and shocking sight. I gasped stepping back.

It-it was T.J. He was strapped to a bed wearing only his underwear. He was gagged and was crying. There were slashes across his face. And, in the corner of the opposite side of the basement was Katelyn. She was grinning and holding a hammer.

“Hey Ian. I’m so glad you joined us. You made it just in time for the finale!” she laughed. She grinned as she walked over to the bed a hopeless T.J. was lying on.

I was speechless. I was shaking. I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t want to believe it. It had to be a terrible dream, right?

“K-Katelyn,” I stuttered, the baseball bat falling from my hands as the music ended.

She put her hand up. “I know, I’m sorry for not inviting you, but you’re here now, so it doesn’t matter, does it?”

“Wh-what’re you doing?” I asked, walking forward a bit as I felt no present threat towards me.

“Well, what does it look like? I went home and saw T.J. walking in the woods alone. I felt that I’d do him a favor if I ended him, so I knocked him out and brought him here. I had to drug my brother because he can be a drag sometimes. Don’t worry, it just feels like he’s sleeping. He’s upstairs in his room now,” she told me casually.

It terrified me because she just assumed that I’d find this all normal. “W-why are you doing this?” I asked as T.J. watched me with pleading eyes. He was no longer the jokester I met who threw knives at my backyard fence. Now he was just the empty shell of a human being that was drenched with fear.

“Well, let’s see. I decided last year that I loved acting to the point that no one would stand in my way as I tried out for the role I wanted. This thought first came to me when I thought about that bitch Ali. She was just SO jealous of my popularity. She never directly said it, but you could see it in her envious eyes. Since she was such a loser, I knew she’d take it out on me by not giving me the roles I was entitled to. I had to get rid of her. After overhearing a conversation she had with Franco, I learned that she would be alone that night. So, I took the opportunity and snuck over to her house that night. I killed her and enjoyed every moment of it. Her pleads for mercy filled me with a pleasure that I’ve never felt before. Since it was my first time, I was scared that I might've left something of mine behind on her, like a hair, so I dumped her in her backyard pond.

“I was satisfied, and tried to tell myself that I wouldn’t kill again for fear of getting caught, but it gave me such a rush of adrenaline that I’d knew I would do it again. That’s when this school year started. I met you and fell in love with you. I never loved anyone before, but you took my breath away.

"I saw your passion for theatre and I felt that it was my duty to help you out. When I heard your fear of A.J. getting the role of Happy instead of you, I got angry. Why should a dorky loser like him get a role that you deserve? So, I grabbed this hammer that I hold in my hands now and payed a visit to his house. I texted him to meet me outside and saw him walk outside, sealing his fate. The second he jogged up to me, I bashed him in the head and did it again and again, loving the sight of his brains flying everywhere. I then took his phone ,because I knew the police would find my text, and deleted it. I then carefully placed it back in his pocket after wiping the fingerprints off and ran. Nobody suspected me for a second.

“Killing A.J. got me thinking. I thought of my competition and knew that Kelsey had the potential to steal the role of Linda from me in the fall play. She had to die. The night after, I snuck over to her house and lightly threw a pebble at her window to get her attention. She came to the window and I told her to let me in because I had to tell her something that I thought had to be a secret. She agreed without a second thought and told me about a ladder behind the shrub next to her fence. I quietly got it, careful to not alert her parents. Since there were limited windows in the backside of the house and because they were in the basement playing Wii together, they had no chance of seeing me. I stepped into her room, trying to hide the noose I tied from rope that I found in her garage. After talking to her about a fake issue that I ad libbed on the spot, I strangled her once her back was turned to me. I decided to have fun and set up a sight of suicide, writing a note that I’d think she’d actually write if she did commit suicide at the time.

“A day after that, I got home early from the meeting with the counselor that I told you about, and walked through the woods. That‘s when I saw Felicia ahead of me walking in the same direction I was. I thought of innocently saying hi when I thought about her as potential competition. I didn’t know about her skills too well, but I wasn’t taking any chances, so I grabbed scissors from a pencil box I had in my backpack and snuck up on her and grabbed her, putting the scissors to her throat. She must have been terribly frightened by this and let out a scream right before I silenced her by slitting the windpipe. I was worried someone heard it, so I dropped her to the ground and ran just as I heard someone rushing over, who I later found out to be Franco, Craig, and you. Oh honey, I’m sorry if the scream scared you.

“That night, I became pissed off that Franco thought this was any of his business. I had no intention of killing him, but I was afraid he might find something that would exploit me as the murderer. So, I snuck out of my house around dawn and paid a visit to his house. I predicted correctly where his spare key was and snuck into his house, taking a butcher knife from his kitchen. When I walked to his room, his door was locked and when I tried to pick the lock, I could tell that he was holding the door. I became nervous and angry at the same time, so I issued a warning to him and then left. As I walked home, a thought came to me. I knew that he’d become determined to catch me because of the threat I gave him, and I knew he’d search places in Kelsey’s yard that he hadn’t searched. Her shed. Remember that part in the book ‘Salem’s Lot when Dr. Cody dies from the board full of knives? Well, I thought of that and became excited. I quietly walked up to a random house and predicted where the spare key was correctly again. I snuck in and stole all of the knives they had, putting them into a garbage bag I stole from them. I then snuck back out and set up the trap in the crawl space of her shed and then quickly snuck home and lay in bed for the last hour thinking about everything before I got back up for school. And you know the rest.

“As I lay in bed that night, I decided to stop killing because I was afraid of getting caught. However, I wanted to kill at least one more time. Hence, here’s T.J.,” she told me.

I couldn’t believe it. No! This was in no way the Katelyn I fell in love with. The Katelyn I fell in love with was a character created by her acting. All this time, she was the killer.

The pieces were there. Franco’s death rang a bell because Katelyn just told me the night before that her favorite book was ‘Salem’s Lot and in it a character named Jimmy Cody died by falling onto a board with knives sticking out of it, just like Franco.

T.J. was staring at Katelyn, just as shocked as I was. He turned back to me with his pleading eyes and said something that was too muffled by the duct tape over his mouth to hear, but I could tell what he was saying. “Please. help me.”

I looked to Katelyn nervously who was observing me for a response. I could tell she was getting impatient and her psychopathic side began to show, directed at me.

“K-Katelyn, you can’t kill him. H-he won’t tell anyone,” I told her pleadingly. T.J. looked from me to her, a single tear running down his cheek.

Katelyn shot me a look that looked like a combination of confusion and disappointment. “Oh, Ian. You would never make a good killer.”

She suddenly brought up the hammer and smashed T.J.’s skull in. Blood and brains flew everywhere. I couldn’t take it. I screamed.

T.J.’s head was completely caved in and blood leaked out. One eye was popped out to an unnaturally large size. He was dead. At least it was quick.

“K-Katelyn. What have you done?!” I screamed, collapsing to the ground in terror.

She looked at me with that same confused look. The fact that she found this all normal terrified me. “What is it, Ian? Are you going to tell on me? I thought you’d love me no matter what I was,” she said as she began to walk to me over the blood and pieces of brain, hammer still in hand.

I scooted back into the water heater and she bent down to my face. “I’d hate to have to silence you. I love you too much." As she said this, she raised the hammer a bit. I stared back into her beautiful eyes. She was so beautiful and had such a bubbly personality. Who would’ve thought she was a psychopathic murderer?

“Y-yes. I’ve always loved you, Katelyn. I-I would never reveal your secret,” I said forcefully.

I was afraid she’d hear the force I had in my voice, but her expression softened into a smile and she kissed me. It wasn’t like our other kisses. The kiss symbolized death to me. I didn’t feel any passion while kissing her. I never thought I’d say that.

I had no choice but to help her clean up all the blood. As I cleaned, I kept eyeing the hammer she left on the ground by the water heater. I kept imagining an escape plan, but I knew that I couldn’t turn her against me. What if I missed while swinging at her? Even if I did manage to escape without using the hammer, I’d come back with the police and she’d be long gone. She’d want me dead. That was dangerous.

After we finished cleaning, we put T.J.’s body in a trash bag and I helped her carry it out to the woods in her backyard. I felt so guilty while doing it and had to fight back tears. I was a monster because I was assisting a killer.

“H-how much farther?” I gasped, tired from guilt and how heavy his body was.

“We’re here,” she said as she stopped and let the half of the body that was in the trash bag she was carrying fall. I was surprised by this and dropped the other half.

I stared down at the bag that had T.J.’s body inside with guilt. He had parents. Parents that would want to know why he wasn’t home in time for dinner. Parents would wonder and worry about where he is.

As I thought this, Katelyn brushed some leaves out of the way and revealing a circular sewer top. She pulled it off and I could hear running water below.

“This sewer top is highly unknown and when the body is found, the authorities won’t be able to trace where it came from because this sewer traces all the way to the next town and leads who knows where. So don’t worry, honey. They can’t find us,” she told me with a smile.

I stared at her trying to hide my terror and forced a smile. “I’ll, uh, bring T.J.’s body over to it.”

Reluctantly, I bent down and began to drag the trash bag that contained T.J.’s body to the sewer. It was hard to come to terms with the whole situation. T.J. was gone, and I was partially responsible.

I brought him to the edge of the sewer and gave his body a slight push. I heard a splash and the water take him away, and then he was gone.

As I stared down into the dark and highly polluted running water, Katelyn suddenly ran over and hugged me, like any normal girlfriend would. I hugged back, seeing no other choice in the matter.

She put her head on my shoulder and whispered to me. “Thanks for helping me, Ian. I know witnessing the death of someone you know can be hard, but if you actually did the murder, you’d feel something incredible. Something you never felt before.”

A tear ran down my eye. Thank god she couldn’t see it. I didn’t know what to do. I knew who the killer was. I could turn her in and stop everything. But, buried in the deepest part of my emotions, I still loved her.

I left her house after she kissed me another time. I still didn’t feel the passion I once felt.

I wasn’t afraid anymore as I walked home alone. Now, all I felt was a mixture of depression and confusion. What was I to do? She said she’d stop killing and that T.J. was her last victim. But I knew that wasn’t true. She loved murdering people, that was clear enough. Maybe three victims ago, I could possibly of convinced her to stop, but now it was too late.

Even if I did try to turn her into the police, there wasn’t a whole lot of evidence against her, now that I thought about it. Plus, she’d put on the best show, acting as nothing more than an innocent and beautiful teenager. And then she’d most likely come for me.

I got home a few minutes before my parents came home just as it started to get dark. I noticed a cop car patrolling the neighborhood as I walked into my house. I felt more guilt knowing that I was safe tonight.

I walked upstairs and noticed Tobias was asleep during my whole ordeal, so my parents would never know I was out. I guess that was a good thing. Something good had to happen today. I sprawled myself onto my bed, thinking.

What could I do? I wanted to turn her in, but two things stood in my way. Lack of evidence and confused emotions. Before I could think more about the situation, I fell asleep from exhaustion.

My mom woke me up the next day and I opened my crusty eyes groaning. Even after thirteen hours of sleep, I was still exhausted.

I heard the terrible news of T.K.’s disappearance which lead to her pestering me some more about not going into the woods alone. I knew I was safe for now, so I tuned her out, which I regretted doing later. She was only trying to help.

After going through the usual morning routine, my mom made Tobias drive me to school. No arguments from him. I was glad too. I wouldn’t have to see Katelyn hiding her real self from the world.

As he drove me the regular five minutes to school, I felt tempted to ask him about Katelyn and see if he told me anything that could shed some insight on the whole situation. But, I decided against it, not wanting any family members pulled into this whole situation.

We arrived at school and the whole first half of the day felt like a blur. I reluctantly headed to lunch and felt surprise and relief when I only saw Kyle and Craig at our lunch table. They looked distraught, which told me that they knew of Franco’s death and T.J.’s disappearance.

I walked over and sat down. “H-hey, where’s Katelyn?” I asked staring at their emotionless faces.

Kyle turned to me expressionless. “She went to an SAT prep. Apparently, they have lessons during lunch now.”

I began to silently debate. Should I tell them? Maybe they could help me. But I could possibly get them hurt.

After about five minutes of us rarely eating and not talking, I leaned forward to them and began to whisper. “G-guys, I know who the killer is.”

Kyle and Craig immediately turned to me, expressions of surprise and shock forming on their faces.

“W-what?” Craig asked.

“I, I know who’s been killing people in our department. S-she sits at this table,” I told them, eagerly awaiting their responses.

In unison, both of their eyes widened in shock. Small disbelief could be seen on their faces.

“Katelyn?” Kyle choked out.

I slowly nodded and tears began to stream down my face. I tried my hardest to fight them. “I witnessed her kill T.J. and I helped her dump his body into a sewage drain. I-I’m so sorry.”

Kyle and Craig stared at me in fear. “Y-you saw her kill him?”

“Yeah. Before she did, she told me everything. She killed every single one of them,” I said, repeatedly looking back thinking Katelyn would be there every time.

“But, she’s such a beautiful and innocent teenager,” Craig told me, hoping I was crazy.

“It’s all a show. She’s been hiding her psychopathic side for a long time. I-I don’t know what to do. I need more evidence against her to turn her into the cops. The only evidence I had is probably in another county by now,” I told them, praying that one of them had a suggestion.

Kyle stared back at me, studying my face. “Y-you’re not fucking delusional right now, right? I swear, if you’re kidding-”

“I’m not. I saw her murder T.J. with my own eyes!” I cried desperately.

Craig stared into space for a few seconds and then covered his face, coming to terms with the truth. “It’s true. Your face that I read no lies in combined with the fact that Kelsey knew the killer. It’s really true.”

Kyle sat there, staring down at his half eaten spaghetti. He’s known Katelyn longer than any of us had, and it must have been hard for him to believe it.

“I don’t know if this is true or not. You may have been delusional or something. But, I think I know how to kill two birds with one stone. You visit her and ask her about the murders with your phone in your pocket and the voice recorder app on. If she trusts you enough to murder someone in front of you, she’ll answer anything you ask truthfully. You’ll have your evidence and I’ll be convinced,” he told me as he continued to stare at his food.

I sat back and thought about this. He was right. She would tell me anything. But I was afraid she’d catch me in the act, and do something terrible to me. Even if she didn’t, did I want to turn in my first girlfriend who I still had feelings for in the deepest part of my emotions to the police?

Craig silently observed me and must have saw the fear and confusion in my eyes. “Look, I know that you’re afraid, but Kyle and I will be outside observing the scene. If anything goes wrong, we’ll come in and help. Just leave the door unlocked. If what you say is true, we can’t let the murderer of Ali, A.J., Kelsey, Felicia, Franco, and T.J. have no justice.”

I listened and realized he was right. I had to do this. And I trusted Kyle and Craig to assist me in this plan.

After thinking briefly, I took out my cracked iPhone and checked for my voice recorder app. It was there. I tested it with a hello and it was effective. I was really going to do this.

Suddenly, Craig looked behind me and his eyes twitched vaguely. I then knew who was walking over and quickly put my phone away. Katelyn’s arms then wrapped around my torso and I tried to stay calm and not show fear.

She put her head on my shoulder and kissed my neck. “Hey cutie,” she giggled.

I saw Craig and Kyle force a smile as she sat down beside me. She began to ramble about how boring the lesson and that’s when I noticed that if you already knew she was psychotic, it was completely transparent as she tried to hide it. I think Kyle and Craig both noticed this as well.

I forced a laugh every once and a while at her jokes and tried to act like nothing happened between us the day before. She just assumed I loved her enough to never tell anyone. My love was that strong, but I’d never keep a serial killer from the police no matter what it was for.

Before I left school that day from theatre, Craig gave me Kyle’s number. I didn’t like receiving his number because that meant our plan was official. I hoped it was fear and not love that made me so stubborn towards this plan.

Craig and I talked about casual things like video games and school work at our table before the bell rang. I liked that moment. It gave off the illusion that everything was normal. How I wish everything was.

After the bell rang, Craig told me to text him and Kyle before curfew and they’d head to Katelyn’s. I agreed and left for my bus. I got on and saw Katelyn talking to Darby, suddenly looking depressed. I knew what was going on. She just heard about T.J.’s disappearance and was acting depressed. I didn’t want to sit next to her, but didn’t want to draw attention.

I walked back to her seat and she waved me, a smile forming on her face. Darby waved to me as well as I sat down.

“D-did you hear what happened to T.J.? Isn’t it terrible?” she cried, tears beginning to stream down her face. I had to say, she was a great actor to others who didn’t know her true form.

“Yes, I know,” I said hugging her, acting myself. As her head rested on my shoulder, I swear I heard her mutter something to herself. When I asked what she said, she said it was nothing.

I became worried and thought of what she said as we rode home. It was something like “I can’t believe what I must do,”. What did that mean?

I talked with a distressed Darby about classes I should take next year when the bus stopped at my stop.

Before I got up, Katelyn grabbed me and kissed me. There was something behind that kiss that made me uneasy. I couldn’t tell what it was at the time. She then pulled away and asked me to come over to her house and stay with her until curfew. I told her I would, knowing she’d realize I was against her if I refused. She was becoming more and more unstable, I noticed. Plus, I had to go over anyway to get evidence.

I walked out to my bus stop and saw Tobias there by his car. He looked annoyed but understanding about picking me up.

“Okay loser, let’s get going,” he blankly said hopping into the front seat. No, hopping was too happy of a word. More like he slouched. I forgot that T.J. was his friend too. I was partially responsible for his behavior.

He drove me home and the minute we got there, he slowly trudged upstairs into his room. I couldn’t tell if he went there to grieve or to finish the final season of Breaking Bad. Something T.J. told him to watch, I then realized.

I sat down at the dinner table and took out my iPhone. I texted Kyle my number and almost immediately afterwards he texted me back. He asked if I was ready and I replied by saying for him to meet me in the neighborhood woods. I texted Craig the same thing. This was it.

I snuck outside and walked over to the woods. As I did, I took out my phone and tested the voice recorder again. I practiced what I would do as I walked.

I stuck my phone in my pocket with the voice recorder app on and ad libbed a conversation. I then took the phone back out and turned on the recording to see if I could hear the conversation okay. It was clear enough to hear.

The neighborhood woods then came into view. The woods stretched on to three towns over and I’ve yet to explore it all, mainly because of this whole ordeal.

Kyle was already there outside of the entrance. Made sense, because he lived right next to it. I walked up beside him.

“Are you okay?” he asked me. My anxiety must have been completely transparent.

“Y-yeah. Just a little nervous,” I told him.

“Don’t be. Craig and I will be standing right outside hidden behind her hedge. Keep the door unlocked and try to stay by a window.”

There were so many things wrong with this plan. Correction, there were so many things that could and most likely would go wrong with this plan.

“Wait, what do I do once I get her to start talking? How will I get around to turning it on?” I asked, finding one of many flaws with this plan.

“I was just about to say. Download the Smart Voice Recorder app. Once you turn it on, it stays on until you turn it off. When we show this to the authorities, just fast forward to when you get it out of her,” he answered casually.

“What if I can’t get it out of her?” I asked as I took my phone out and went to the app store.

“If she loves you like I know she does, I know she’ll tell you anything. If what you say is true, she was already willing to explain everything to you.”

This made me feel terrible. I felt like a husband who cheated on his wife and felt guilty about it. I was completely betraying a beautiful girl who loved me, and whom I loved back. But this series of murders had to stop.

As I downloaded the app, Craig arrived, panting from having to jog. I felt bad, because he lived about one or two miles away.

“Hey, I came as soon as I got the text,” he panted.

Kyle sighed. “Okay, let’s get going. Ian, get a head start ahead of us so we can arrive without being seen.”

I nodded and nervously began to walk the few blocks to her house. As I began to walk further and further from the woods, I heard Craig utter the words “Good luck." Never say good luck in the world of theatre, I thought grimly.

After walking for about five minutes, I finally arrived at her house. After checking for her in the windows, I reached to my right pocket twitching and turned on the voice app.

I couldn’t describe the anxiety that was building up in me as I walked up to her front door. My knees were shaking and my breaths were heavy as I raised my arm and knocked on the door. I forgot that there was a doorbell.

After waiting for about a minute, Katelyn came to the door, her face red. I was confused by this, because her acting depressed over T.J.’s death was getting a bit too over the top. She smiled at me opening the door wider to let me in. “Hey, come on in,” she said softly.

I walked in and kissed her, which caused her to lower her hand from the door. My idea worked. After we kissed, I shut the door for her, making sure it was still unlocked as it shut.

“Oh, can you lock it for me? The murders are making me paranoid,” she softly pleaded.

A small lump formed in my throat and even more anxiety built up but I tried my hardest not to show it. Why was she still acting? Evan must have been upstairs haphazardly watching his sibling just like Tobias.

I forced a smile at her and reluctantly turned the lock. I realized I had to be on my guard if she happened to find out what I was doing. I was on my own.

“Hey, let’s watch some TV,” I suggested, still wanting to be by a window.

Katelyn smiled and nodded. “Okay,” she said timidly as she began to walk over to the living room. I followed, noticing my knees were beginning to shake again. I tried my hardest to stop them.

She walked through her long front hall and turned the corner to the living room before me and when I turned the corner, my eyes met a horrifying sight.

I held back vomit as I saw Evan with his throat slit on the couch. His face was frozen into an expression of terror and blood dripped from his throat onto the floor. On the coffee table beside him, a wine glass was filled with water and a bottle of cyanide was beside it. I looked over to the fireplace and saw Darby lying against it with several stab wounds in the chest. Her lifeless eyes showed fear. Blood was dripping from her onto the floor as well.

“K-Katelyn. W-why?” I cried, knowing that was the only thing I could choke out.

Suddenly, she ran up yelling with rage and tears on her face and cut my thigh. The pain was excruciating. I screamed in pain and fear and fell to the floor. She bent down as tears fell from her face and stabbed me again in the knee and foot. I screamed, tears falling from my face. I’ve never felt pain worse than this in my life. Plus, now I had no chance of running away or even getting up.

I stared back at Katelyn as she stood up, the bloody knife in her hand. My blood mixed with Evan’s and Darby’s.

“W-why?” I cried.

She was crying, that was obvious enough. “I’m not saying anything until this piece of evidence is out of the way,” she said as she bent down. Towards my pocket, I realized terrified. She reached into my pocket and took out the phone, the voice recorder app on. She stared at it in tears and slammed my phone onto the hardwood ground, completely destroying my phone and my only chance of evidence. I looked behind her and noticed the curtains were drawn. Kyle and Craig wouldn’t see me.

I looked back to her and she pointed at me with her bloody knife sobbing. “You betrayed me. I thought you loved me.”

“I-I do-

But I was interrupted by her shouting the word liar at me. I was afraid that she’d stab me again, but she started to cry. “I-I thought I could trust you with my secret. When I came into the lunchroom after SAT prep, I saw the way Kyle and Craig looked at me. It was obvious you told them. Then when I glanced over your shoulder and saw you were testing the voice recorder app, I knew what your intentions were. But, I decided to play it off like I didn’t see anything. I hugged you, and I could feel how uncomfortable you were.

"After lunch, I began to come to terms with what I had to do. Kill myself. I couldn’t kill Craig, Kyle, and you all at once. But, I didn’t want to venture into the afterlife alone. No, I wanted to take my loved ones with me. I still loved you. My love was so deep for you I couldn’t stop even if you ruined my life. I wanted to take my brother, my best friend, and the boy I loved all with me.

“I invited you over and after you left, I invited Darby to get off the bus with me. She was hesitant, but eventually agreed. We got off together, and once we walked into the living room, my brother Evan was sleeping on the couch. That lazy fucker. I still wonder how he became a doctor. As Darby put her stuff down, I said I was going to get a snack and headed to the living room. I grabbed the kitchen knife and ran over to Darby who was completely oblivious of my intentions until I grabbed her by the hair and stabbed her over and over. Seeing the life leave her eyes was a bit of a thrill to me, even if she was my friend. I then walked over to the couch and slit my brother’s throat. I watched him wake up and gargle the last of his life away. I then set up the cyanide to take after I killed you,” she told me, raising her knife and walking over to me.

I began to crawl away hopelessly. I knew begging wouldn’t help. I heard her begin to hum an old nursery rhyme as she grabbed onto me and put the knife to my throat. It was cold and rusty. Tears flowed from my eyes as I closed them and prepared for the end. What would dying be like? Was there a heaven I’d go to, or would there just be darkness.

Before she cut my throat, I heard a loud crash through the living room window. Katelyn suddenly lowered the knife and turned towards it. I turned around as well and saw a large rock on the ground, shards of glass surrounding it. I then saw Kyle rush in and he stared in terror at the sight before him.

Without saying anything, Katelyn raised her knife and threw it into his chest. Kyle twitched a bit after it flew into his chest and he looked down at it silently, turning pale. Blood began to drip from his chest. He looked back up at me expressionless and fell to the ground, dead.

I stared in tears and then noticed that Katelyn no longer had the knife. She must have seen my expression of hope forming on my face and began to run towards Kyle’s body. I quickly pulled her leg from underneath her and she fell onto the hardwood floor heavily.

She groaned in rage and kicked me in the face so my hand would loosen. My vision became fuzzy and she slipped out from my grip.

Through my distorted vision, I saw Craig hastily jump into the house through the broken window and he gasped in horror at the sight and Kyle’s body. Katelyn ran towards Kyle’s body in rage, intending to grab the knife and stab him. I slowly began to crawl towards them, my legs bleeding and my vision still fuzzy. I realized I’d eventually bleed out if I didn’t get immediate medical attention. I could feel the life slowly leaving me.

Craig stood there in shock as Katelyn ripped the knife from Kyle’s chest. He snapped back into reality just as Katelyn raised the knife at him, but it was too late. Right as she began to bring the knife down on him, her bare foot stepped on a piece of glass. She suddenly dropped the knife and began to scream in pain.

Craig took the opportunity and tackled her to the ground. He managed to pin her down and she was furious, trying her hardest to claw at his face and kick him in the groin. He looked over to me as I crawled over.

“Ian, the knife! Give me the knife!” he cried. I realized the knife that flew out of her hands landed right by me. As I began to crawl over to it, my life slowly fading from me, Katelyn managed to release her arm and claw Craig across the face.

Craig screamed in pain and his reflexes immediately brought his hands to his face to assist the wound. Katelyn immediately kicked him off of her and pinned him to the ground. She began to repeatedly punch him in the face, showing her to have a whole lot of potential strength that I never knew she had. The rage mixed with depression must have done something to her physical state.

I grabbed the knife and my elbow rested on a broken piece of glass, but I ignored the pain as I hastily crawled over to Katelyn, who was still punching the life out of Craig. She seemed to enjoy it, which distracted her from me.

I sat up and quickly stabbed her in the back without a moment of hesitation. She stopped punching and went limp for a moment and then collapsed into my lap. Her face was pale and the rage was gone. Only affection was in her face now. This surprised me.

“T-thank you for stopping me, Ian. I-I don’t know what I was doing. I, I killed so many people and I don’t know why,” she stuttered, tears falling from her eyes. “I’m just a crazy psychopath, I guess. I guess I’ll pay for it in whatever afterlife there is. Getting stabbed set off a spark in me I, I guess. I-I love you,” she told me crying as the life slowly left her.

“I love you,” I told her lifeless body, kissing her one last time as I heard police sirens in the distance.

I really did love her. And I didn’t keep my promise of never letting harm come to her. But, she had to die, right? She had to die.

The cops came and got immediate medical attention for Craig and I. After treatment, we realized that we would live, even though Craig’s face would be disfigured for about a month and I would need crutches for a few weeks.

The police questioned us separately and we told them everything truthfully. After interrogating us over and over again, they let us go since all the evidence from the bloodbath at Katelyn’s house fit in and our stories never changed.

T.J.’s body was eventually found decomposed in the next town over, which helped to support our story.

Craig and I decided to move past the tragic ordeal just like the town and continued on with our lives, making new friends that helped us forget.

We continued doing theatre and tried out for the plays in our sophomore year, which is the year I’m in right now as I write this. The plays in our freshman year were cancelled.

We always got the leads, because after all, there was no more competition.