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“…Victims of these horrific crimes were reported to have their limbs either extremely mutilated or completely sawed off. He or she is targeting only women so far. The culprit still has not been caught and is still on the rampage…”
I flipped my TV set off and slumped down in my bed. I rolled over to check my clock. “Man… 3:29 and still not a wink of sleep…” I mumbled, sliding down in bed and staring at the wall. This was the fourth night of insomnia I had suffered. I could not sleep whatsoever. I tried everything – counting sheep, relaxing my body – you name it, I had tried it. Nothing seemed to work.
I would only doze off maybe once, and it was only for about ten or fifteen minutes. When I did sleep, however, I began to have very ominous dreams. It was the same each time. I would be standing in a blank, wide room. The only thing in sight was this girl. She was young, only seven or eight. Her hair covered her face. She kept mumbling the same message over and over, “I have to be perfect… I have to be beautiful… make Mommy happy…”
I had no idea what those creepy dreams were about, but they were only dreams, figments of my imagination. Nothing to get worked up over, but they sure didn’t help me sleep any better. I couldn’t run like this for much longer, surviving days by sucking down one or two cappuccinos before work. It didn’t help a bit that I had to work the dayshift, starting at 8 AM.
I worked at a small café in town as a waitress. You know, nothing special; just your average little burger joint. It never made big money except on holiday weekends. We made enough to get by. I came into work at 8 AM and worked until 4 PM. Days weren’t too long and work wasn’t too rough. We’d have maybe 30 customers stop by every day, so days seemed very slow.
After a long day of work, I clocked out at 4:10 and started to head home. To get back to my apartment, I had to pass this little park every day. It was a nice little area, with benches and a playground. I’d always see happy faces peeking around the slides and hear laughter from the swing set. But on that day, something caught my eye. Something was abnormal.
On one of the benches sat a little girl, no more than 9 years old. She had long, curly blonde hair that ran to the middle of her back, some of it pulled back by a big white bow. She had bright blue eyes. She wore a gray short-sleeved dress that came down just above her knees. I couldn’t see her legs or arms at all; she had white leggings on under her dress and she wore a white long sleeved shirt underneath her dress. She wore black slip-on shoes on her feet. She looked happy, sitting and humming a nursery rhyme. This was the abnormal part – she was alone.
In my town, you never leave your kids alone. It’s not a big town, but crime rates are high, especially with this serial killer about. It was so odd to see a young girl alone in public at this time of day. So, choosing to be responsible, I decided to go talk to her. I slowly walked up and waved. “Hello there!” I greeted.
“Hello there, Miss!” She greeted me, her childish voice full of cheer.
“What are you doing out here all by yourself at this time of day?” I tried not to sound awkward.
“Oh, I don’t have to be home until the sunset. My mommy doesn’t mind.” The girl replied.
“Well, the sun’s about to set now,” I pointed to the sunset, “would you like me to walk you home?”
“Sure!” The girl giggled, and she reached for my hand and held it as we walked.
“By the way… what’s your name?” I asked.
“My name is Emily.” She smiled at me.
We walked down an empty street into the suburbs of town. It was about 5 in the evening and the sun was setting. We had talked about all sorts of things on the walk to her house – how old she was, what kinds of things she liked, stuff like that. We walked in silence for about a minute or so, when suddenly she stopped and turned to me.
“Miss, did anyone ever tell you how pretty you are?” Emily smiled and giggled.
I blushed a bit. I had never really been complimented; everyone in high school always picked on me for being the band geek. “No… but thank you. It means a lot.” I replied, smiling at her. Even after she had complimented me, she continued staring into my eyes. Her expression remained that of a childish grin. It was eerie in a sense, but I shook it off; she was only a curious child.
“I wish I had your eyes! They’re so bright!” She added.
I smiled, taking that as another compliment as we continued to walk ahead. She stopped me at an old run down house in the suburbs of town.
“This is my house!” She spoke.
“This is… where you live?” I had to admit, the house was pretty run down and stuff for someone to live there.
“Yep! Well, thanks, for bringing me home! We should play together again sometime!” Emily laughed and hugged me. “Bye!” She turned and skipped down the sidewalk into the creepy old house.
My night followed my usual routine – no sleep, except for about ten minutes, and that’s when I had the dream. It hadn’t changed much. The whole night I just sat awake in bed thinking about Emily. She was such a sweet young girl, beautiful and lively. Her mother must be very proud of her. What intrigued me most about her was how she always complimented other people and never herself. Did she not find herself attractive? I doubt that. Something else bothered me too… the way she stared at me, smiling and unblinking, when she complimented me. It was so eerie. I felt like I couldn’t trust something about her…
Work went by fast. It was a normal shift. I clocked out at about 4:30 and started on my walk home. I was halfway through the park when I looked over and noticed Emily sitting on the same bench as yesterday, watching me. She seemed… off. I walked over to her and spoke, “Hey there, Emily!”
She looked up at me and shook her head, as if she had been in deep thought. “Oh, Jill!” She smiled instantly and got up to hug me. “How are you?” She asked in her innocent, childish voice.
I smiled. “I’m fine.”
She sat there, staring at me strangely.
“Is… something wrong?” I tilted my head slightly.
“Oh no, Jilly – is it okay if I call you that?” I nodded. “But, I was just wondering what it would be like to have your eyes.” She giggled, then added, “I may just come steal them and find out!”
I laughed nervously and looked to the side. That was an awkward statement… but oh well. I shrugged it off and went on. I noticed that the sun was beginning to set, so I walked Emily home and headed to my own apartment. Emily seemed off that night. She was still sweet and kind, but. I don’t know what about her was different, but something was.
That night was the same as always – no sleep. That is, until around 4:30. I dozed off for about ten minutes, and then I had the dream. It was so similar to the dream I had previously been having… but something was different. The same girl stood before me. She was silent, but then she looked up at me. I couldn’t see her entire face, but her hair came apart over one eye. It was a beautiful blue eye, but I forgot all about it when she spoke.
“Jill…” She spoke my name in a low growl, “Has anyone ever told you how pretty you are? And your eyes… heehee… so pretty… I WANT THEM!”
I jolted awake immediately. I just sat there for a few minutes, motionless, taking in what I had just seen in my dream, which had become a nightmare. I didn’t even attempt to sleep after that; I flipped on my TV set to see what was on. I managed to catch a re-run of the 11 PM news.
“The culprit has claimed four more lives so far this week.” The news anchor was talking about the serial killer. “We’ve learned more about him or her in the process. The culprit is rather short and uses a sharp hatchet as a means of weaponry. We’ve also been notified that there is a pattern in the way victims are killed. They are killed by a swift blow to the chest, and then parts of their body or even entire limbs are chopped off. Officials say that the missing limbs have never been located, and it remains a mystery as to what their use is to the killer…”
I flipped off the TV and rolled my eyes. This whole ‘serial killer’ stuff was a bunch of hype just to scare the community. They act like it such a big deal; people are senselessly murdered every day and the news doesn’t give them a fifteen minute segment on the 11 PM news, do they? I wasn’t convinced this was anything to worry over, so I rolled over and spent the rest of the night staring at the wall, as always, lost in thought about my nightmare.
Work went by rather fast that day. I was lost in my own thoughts all day, thinking about my nightmare. I slipped up all day, getting orders wrong and giving wrong change out at the cash register. I just couldn’t think straight at all. I clocked out as soon as I could and hurried out. I was thinking so much that I never even realized where I stopped walking at – the park.
I looked around the small park. It amazed me to watch the young children play, chasing each other playing games. I wished I could be as careless as them, oblivious to the pain of the world. I almost didn’t notice when I felt tiny arms wrap around my waist.
“Jilly!” I heard Emily’s voice calling, shouting her nickname for me. I thought it was cute.
I looked down to see her happy face looking up at me. “Hey there, Emily! You’re at the park again?” I responded.
“Yep! I’m always here after school. I like to watch the other kids play.” She replied happily.
“Why don’t you ever play with them?” I asked curiously.
“I think it’s funner to watch.” She said. “I think it’s better that way.”
We sat there and talked for quite some time again. She told me about her day at school, particularly mentioning her art lesson.
“Oh! I almost forgot.” Emily reached into the little pocket on her dress and pulled out a folded up sheet of paper. “I drew this for you, Jilly!” She handed it to me.
I opened it up, and it softened my heart to see what she had drawn. On the paper was a picture of two people standing beside each other. The short one was labeled “Emily” and the tall one was labeled “Jill”. It actually resembled me; she got the hair and eye color right. “Emily, it’s beautiful!” I praised her, giving her a hug.
“I drew it just for you! I had to add you to my drawing because you’re so pretty!” She looked at me, remaining silent for a few moments, and then she spoke again, “Jill, you’re so pretty. Your eyes are shiny and your hair is pretty and your face is perfect. I wish I looked like you!” She commented.
I was taken aback; no one had ever complimented me so thoroughly, especially not someone of Emily’s age. “Thank you so much, that means a lot.” I just sort of smiled at her. I had no idea as to how I should respond to what she said, except to smile.
I looked up and noticed that the sun had begun to set. “Emily, it’s almost sunset, you should head home. Do you want me to walk you home again?” I asked, gathering my things and standing to my feet.
“No, Mommy’s coming to get me today. You can go on ahead Jilly!” Emily replied cheerfully, standing up and giving me a hug.
“Are you sure? I don’t mind.” I responded, unsure of whether she was being truthful; she was young, after all.
“No, it’s fine! She’ll be here any time now.” Emily smiled.
I nodded and waved. “Bye, then!” I turned to walk away.
I was walking down a dark street a few blocks from my apartment. The sun had set and the street lights were on. I walked silently, thinking about happier things, contrary to my earlier thoughts. Emily always cheered me up. She was more of a friend to me now than just some little girl I talked to on the way back from work. I felt that she was different from everyone else.
I stared ahead into the dark of night, which was only interrupted by the occasional street light. I was only a block from my apartment when suddenly I looked ahead and noticed something peculiar. In the light of the lamp post in front of my apartment building, I saw what looked like a silhouette. It was short in stature and unmoving. I stopped walking and just stood still, staring at it blankly. Who or what is that and what do they want? I stepped forward a bit, hoping I wouldn’t confirm my fears.
As I walked closer, I breathed a heavy sigh of relief as I saw that it was only Emily. But what was she doing out this late? Wasn’t her mother worried? “Emily, what are you doing here?” I asked curiously. She didn’t reply. She stepped forward into the direct light of the street light, and what I saw before me was something I could never forget.
Emily looked different – much different. She no longer wore her long-sleeved white shirt or white leggings, only her gray dress. She was missing an arm. Her skin… what the…? Her skin was discolored all over, patches of completely different colors covering her arm, legs, and neck. The patches were outlined by the markings of stitches. Even her face had stitches on it. What… what was she? Where’s the Emily that I love?
“Emily… what… what is this…?” I asked her, my voice shaking with pure terror.
“This is me. Mommy wants me to be perfect and so I’m making myself better. Don’t you think I’m pretty? Perfect?” She gritted her teeth and spat as she said the word ‘perfect’. Her face twisted into a wicked grin as she held up a sharp hatchet, caked in dry blood. I nearly vomited when I saw her pull out a needle and thread, a dismembered arm, and watched her sew it in place of her missing arm.
“Emily… I…” I couldn’t find words to say. The knot in my throat closed up. Everything made sense. It was her. She was the killer. She murdered all those women because she wanted to feel beautiful. She took their body parts and replaced her own with them. She sat in the park every day watching for victims. Victims like me. And once they became friends, she closed in for the kill.
Emily started to walk closer to me. “I’m going to be so perfect now. Mommy will be so happy and everyone will love me.” She giggled as she spoke. The innocence in her blue eyes was gone. I turned around and took off running as fast as I could, but I felt a sharp blow to my back. I fell to the ground, writhing in pain. I shakily pulled myself onto my knees and tried to crawl away, blood running down my back, across my neck, and dripping onto the sidewalk below. I gasped for air, grabbing at the ground below me. Suddenly, I felt a rough kick to my back and I rolled onto my back. Emily stared down at me, her malevolent smile clawing at my sanity and her no longer innocent eyes staring into my soul.
“Don’t run, Jilly! We’re just sharing, like they teach us in school. You get to share your beauty with me, okay? I get to be pretty like you now!” She jabbed her fingers into my left eye socket. “And I’ll start with your beautiful eyes.”