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Jean Mc’Callum sighed as she slumped down into an old wooden chair. She rubbed a hand over her pale face slowly, brushing a couple locks of her greying blonde hair out of her black eyes before taking a few gulps of lukewarm coffee.
“Okay, old girl. Back to work…” She straightened and switched on her laptop, swiftly opening up a file that was saved on her desktop.
She paused and examined the picture in the top right corner: a girl around fifteen, with golden locks of wavy hair spilling past her shoulders and almost down to her hips, and a face lit by vivid storm-grey, almost blue eyes. She was wearing a black leather jacket with sleeves that barely reached her elbows and a black T-shirt underneath adorned with the words, "Women Who Behave Rarely Make History," below a skull and crossbones. Black, loose jeans half hid a pair of similarly shaded combat boots.
“Okay… Jessie. Jessie, Jessie… here.” Jean stopped at the beginning of the profile she’d created: the summary of everything she’d learned about said girl over the past two months.
"Jessie was a bullied child who committed suicide at the age of fifteen-and-a-half. She left a note saying, ‘I’m ugly’, ‘I’m an idiot’, ‘I’m worthless’, ‘I am annoying’. Did I really deserve all those words of hurt from everyone? I caused you no harm, so why should I be punished? Don’t worry, karma’s really good at catching up :)"
Then she cut her throat.
"About three days after the funeral, one of the kids named Kacy—who bullied Jessie—reported having nightmares where she herself was being bullied. Th—"
“What?” Her hard, sharp voice caused the young brunette who had entered the messy study to flinch, and the younger female’s wide green eyes roved around nervously.
“T-the boy you wanted to interview is h-here.”
“Then stop stuttering like an idiot and take him to the room. I’ll be there in a minute.”
With a swift nod and, "Yes, ma’am," Jean was once again alone and blew out a long, arduous sigh before putting her laptop to sleep and closing it.
The woman slowly tottered to her feet before stumbling over the leg of her chair and muttering a colorful sentence or five. Smoothing out her grey business skirt, she strode out and down a short flight of stairs, entering a living room to her right and pausing to observe the teenager before her.
He was wringing his hands nervously and shaking as though it was as cold in the room as it was outside, and his drooping black hair shadowed a pair of charcoal eyes that had dark bags under them.
He jerked, looking up to where Mc’Callum had sat with one leg crossed over the other, and nodded slowly.
Clearly he wasn't going to speak without being prompted. “Hello. My name is Jean Mc’Callum. Would you please tell me about your encounter from four nights ago?” His head once again bobbed, and with a hard swallow, he leaned over to rest his elbows on his knees.
“W-well, I went to bed as usual, and fell asleep around eleven. B-but then I had this nightmare where I was being shoved over, and every time I got up or tried to, it would happen again. A-and… they were laughing. Everybody w-was laughing, and they wouldn’t stop…” His shaking had increased until Jean was almost sure he’d shatter at any moment, and she signaled her brunette assistant.
In about three minutes, all spent in silence as Ross tried to calm down, the young woman returned bearing a steaming mug of peppermint tea.
A few shaky gulps, several deep, trembling breaths, and the boy continued. “After that, I was in the middle of a crowd. Everyone was facing me and yelling stuff. ‘Loser’, ‘ugly’… ngh, they wouldn’t stop! The insults wouldn't stop. They didn't stop for hours….” He drained over half the cup before squeezing his eyes shut.
“I see. And have you happened to say any of those things to other people in your school? Perhaps you’ve pushed a few.” He froze, not even breathing as the mug slid out of his hands. Tea spilled out over the beige carpet, but Mc’Callum couldn't care less right then. She was too busy theorizing and fighting down a broad smile.
So that’s what’s happening.
“Thank you for your time, Mr. Ross. I would suggest you avoid bullying anyone, though. I’m sure you know how it feels now.” He nodded before standing up and tottering towards the door.
“So she’s giving bullies nightmares where they have to endure what their victims went through? That’s… strange. And wonderf—”
“Shut up already, you stupid girl. You’re just babbling about the obvious again! Bring me dinner in one hour, but otherwise I want you to leave me alone, got it?”
“Nngh, three days and still nothing new. What a waste…” Jean climbed into her bed slowly, sighing and mentally reviewing the basics of what she knew about Jessie.
All her victims wake up and find small wooden statues of griffins in their rooms. Griffins symbolize vengeance, so she’s obviously avenging the bullied children and targeting the bullies themselves. Once a father broke down and confessed to abusing his child—who was a bully—because his nightmares were getting so bad. So she goes after the source…
With almost nothing left in her mind, the last thing Mc’Callum noticed before she drifted off was the message on her phone.
“Shut up, idiot!”
“You’re such a useless blockhead, you know that?”
Jean flinched, collapsing to her knees before curling up in the fetal position and holding her head in her arms.
H-how come I'm... I don't care! I've never cared about harsh words! But I'm so scared. Why does my heart hurt so much?!
“How useless are you, hmm?”
“Get to work!”
“Shut up!” Her shaky voice barely reached a shout and sobs racked her body.
“Are you talking back to me?!” Mc’Callum flinched at the screech and large tears continued rolling down her face.
“Crying like a baby again, are you? How pathetic.”
“Shut up!” The woman sat, swiping an arm at the nearest figure, only to find that she was timidly entering her office, observing her own body in both the first and third person as she turned to glare at herself.
“Ms. Mc'Callum?” Jean attempted to frown at her soft, scared voice, but the look her dream self was giving her intensified until she wanted to be swallowed by the earth.
“What do you want now? Stop acting like a frightened mouse and speak! Speak!” The thundering voice filled her ears and vibrated through her body. It swamped her mind with an overwhelming sense of worthlessness and unhappiness until it felt like she was drowning...
With a terrified gasp, Jean sat up, blinking rapidly to stop her vision from blurring. Sweat beaded her forehead, and a scream escaped her throat when she noticed a figure standing in a shadowy corner.
“Shh, I won’t kill you. You know, that sweet assistant of yours never caused you any harm, so why is she being punished? Karma has caught up to you, and it’ll stay until you’ve learned your lesson.” With that, the silhouette dashed towards the window.
In the fat moon’s silvery light, Mc’Callum’s wide eyes absorbed flowing blond locks and flashing stormy eyes before the intruder seemed to simply melt through the wall and out of sight.
I-it was… ah-ahhh…
“AHHHHHH!!!” She curled up, gripping her hair tightly. She faintly registered her door being opened and rapid footsteps.
“Ms. Mc’Callum, what happened? Ms. Mc’Callum?”
Incoherent mumbling from Jean caught in the younger woman’s ears and she decided to try getting the poor lady to calm down by bringing up something normal.
“Oh, look at that! A new message from… Ross! You remember Mr. Ross?” Yet still the whispering continued, and in a last-ditch effort, the brunette pressed the play button and let the voicemail come on. As she did, her sharp emerald stare caught on a small, finely crafted, wood figurine depicting a creature with a lion-like body, a beak for a mouth, and feathered wings.
“Hey, Ms. Mc’Callum. It’s Ross, that guy you interviewed. Sorry about the tea spill. I was a bit nervous, hahah! But I took your advice and stopped bullying. Thank you. I’d been having those nightmares for days, and the moment I stopped pushing those other guys around and apologized, Boom! They were gone! I guess what goes around comes around after all. I hope that helps, and good luck with your research!”
With that, it ended, and the assistant sighed before leaving to make some tea. Jean remained on her side, panting and gasping out one word and one word only.
“Karma. Karma. Karma. Karma. Karma. Karma. Karma. Karma…”
Written by Kandosii Angel