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Family Portrait

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It was a sunny weekend. School was to start in less than a week and I couldn't be any more excited. It was my first day of high school. My first day in six years of a roller coaster. When I was a little kid, I always had dreamed of this day. To sum up all of my feelings and to keep myself from rambling on about something that doesn't matter, I couldn't wait.

I woke up at 9. It was time to get my late school supplies, my mother didn't earn much in one payday so I had to buy the absolute necessities first, and then buy the other things that might not even be used halfway into the school year. Today, all I had to buy were my black shoes, a sci-cal and possibly a new backpack if we run by a good deal.

I showered and put on my clothes--just jeans and a tee, after all, we're going to the market. The market should be jam-packed with people doing the same late school supply hunting as I was going to. I called my mother and we rode a jeep to the market.

It was hot and humid, just like any other day in the Philippines. The streets were jam-packed with cars waiting for someone quietly on the parking lot. We walked around, searching for the best deals the market had to offer. Except, I could feel a burning sensation around my neck area. Thinking it could be the sizzling heat of the tropical sun, I shrugged it away. But, I could still feel something dancing around my nape. I've looked back several times (which made my mother ask me what was up) to find nothing.

But I knew something was there, something was eating me from the inside out. Something--or someone--gave me something to fear about.

We took a taxi back home, with all of the walking we had to do, I was pooped. My mother was a smart shopper, every time something like this happens, she brings her notebook and jots down the prices and compares them with those of other stores. I think she had some sort of math major or whatever, but this saved us thousands. If we bought the first thing we could without looking for anything cheaper, we could have spent 60 pesos more. 60 pesos we were now using for fare.

I plopped the baskets of vegetables on the table and hurry up the stairs to ready my things for school. I went back down to ask my mother if I could spend the next few hours alone. She agreed to it, and as soon as I heard her agree I dashed off into my room. Sitting upright, Indian-style on my bed. Typing away, reading my friend's stories of her adventures into foreign beaches, envying her. All summer, I have done nothing. We could never afford that luxury. I just sighed and continued on with my browsing.

My eyes became heavy as I start looking through some more Facebook posts. I scrolled past each and every one, stopping a picture that caught my eye. It was a poster for the search of a man with brown skin and dark hair and almond brown eyes. Apparently, he is the main suspect for a massacre sometime ago, but was never found again. Police have cracked the cipher found at the crime scene over ten years ago. He will resurface and kill again, but no one knows when exactly. The only thing certain is that it will be this June, possibly near the date of his first killing spree. I shuddered at the thought of being massacred by some man I did not even have the slightest clue about.

About an hour of pure paranoia passes by and my mother calls my name, signaling dinner time. I stood upright, stretched and bolted the windows shut, even the ones at the bathroom. I smirk as I picture the killer having to break the glass just to enter, I wasn't stupid. I washed my hands and walked downstairs, just as my name has been called a second time.

"Andrei's not here?" I ask for my brother, who usually comes home around this hour. It made me wonder why he was late. I think of the killer but quickly shake the thought from my mind, I would never see my life without him, he brought home so much money for my education. It was really selfish for me to think about my needs at a time like this but it is true. I shrug my shoulders and my hunger overwhelms me. A spoonful of chicken broth nears my mouth and I take a cautious sip.

"No." My mother responds. She scoops up some rice into her plate, and continues talking. " He might have a school activity of some sort."

"Alrighty then." I say, killing the conversation. The rest of the meal is eaten in complete silence. I collect the plates and washed it, my mother wiping the table as I did. I went up to my room, but my mother stayed to watch the soap operas that follow the news. It was 8:17 and I was a little bit worried, my brother should be here!

Thoughts of the killer flood my thoughts, it was harder to shake off with every minute that passed by. I had no intention of going outside to take a look, though. My mother would kill me or worse: the killer might. I start breathing heavily, a little bit faster than my usual breathing cycle, and it sped up as time went by. I decided to calm my nerves by playing games, but it didn't work. The best way to end this is to go to sleep. My eyes were starting to get heavy and my mouth opened to let a trapped yawn free. It was only around 9, which was way too early for my usual bedtime.

My sleep was disturbed by sounds of screaming and faint moaning. Moaning of pain, and not pleasure mind you. All the while, a pair of red orbs illuminated my dark dream, giving it a spooky and eerie aura. I looked at the clock and strained my eyes trying to make out where the hands of the clock were facing. I read 11:50 but I decided to check my cellphone to be sure. I slapped myself out of my own stupidity. The night brings out the worst in me.

My spirits were lifted when I heard the sound of what could be Andrei cooking. He always cooked something up late at night. My mother disapproves of it, but he still does it. I take soft steps down the stairs, my heart stopping at what I saw.

My mother and Andrei were lying down on the floor, hands intertwined. It was placed carefully below a picture frame that I remember from the days before my father committed suicide when I was little, hung above the cabinet. I never paid attention to it because it brought some questions I wouldn't want to ask my mother. I was being carried in my mother's arms while my father and brother were smiling nexxt to us, completely unaware. It was obvious that he was trying to mimic the portrait.

I was hyperventilating at that point, I was trying hard not to vomit when I saw what was written next to them in their own glistening, scarlet blood.

YOU ARE NEXT.

Adrenaline shoots through my veins, making sure I have enough energy to run the hell away from here. I turn back to retrieve my cell phone to call the cops, big mistake.

He was there, smiling. Holding a bloody knife that he was dragging along the wall of the dim hallway. His shirt was previously white, judging from the collar. It was a dark red now. I squint my eyes to get a more focused look. Then I remember, he was the man at the jeep.

"Goodbye, Abigail." He said, he smirked as he held up the knife. It was glistening with their scarlet blood. I squinted my eyes to get a better look on his face. My eyes widened as a jolt of shock rocked my body, making my fingers twitch. Flashes of my life appeared and my heart raced. Anger, sadness and confusion filled my body.

"Dad?"

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