Warning: This chapter contains content that is very graphic in nature. Depictions of suicide are showcased in this chapter. Read with caution.
The four girls sat in Stratus’s room contemplating all that they had learned after their strange visit to the Wicca shop. A sort of hush fell over them and they looked at each other, each waiting for one to say something first. Stratus broke the silence.
“It’s a trap.” She said.
“Is it?” Neveah questioned.
“Well Duh! That girl obviously knows Quinn. They were practically twinning in the way they act.” Izzy said.
“Okay so she knows Quinn, but how? Who is she? Why doesn’t she want Quinn to know about her?” Harley asked.
“It doesn’t matter, it’s a trap. All of it.” Stratus said firmly.
“That still doesn’t answer a hell of a lot of questions. What’s in the box? Why does Quinn keep lying to us? Who was that girl? Who killed Alice? Need I go on?” Neveah said.
“Even if it wasn’t a trap, it’s not like we could just go into Quinn’s house and look at the Blackbox she is sort of mad at us right now.” Izzy pointed out.
A knock came at the door and all four girls flinched.
“Okay girls time to go, someone is grounded remember.” Stratus mom poked her head in through the door.
“We’ll talk tomorrow at school,” Stratus said eyeing each of the girls.
They all gave tight nods before getting up and leaving.
That night Stratus tossed and turned in her sleep, breaking out into a sweat as the haunting laughter seemed to echo in her brain.
Stratus shot forward in bed and glanced around her dark room in a panic. Only darkness greeted her. Too dark. She quickly got up and turned on her closet light. Her eyes once again darting around the room. Nothing out of the usual. She sighed before walking back to her bed, leaving the light on. She glanced at her phone for the time. It was nearly four in the morning, with another sigh she closed her eyes and went back to sleep.
The next morning all their girls wanted to get to school extra early so they could talk without Quinn, but to their annoyance, Quinn’s car was already parked in its reserved spot.
“What the heck? We woke up early for nothing.” Harley complained.
“Wonder why she’s here so early?” Izzy rubbed her eyes.
Hardly anyone was at the school yet, just the staff and a few student-athletes who had morning practices. When they walked in the cafeteria was nearly bare. Quinn was sitting in her usual spot with a book in hand, completely relaxed and carefree.
All four of the girls sighed.
“Just act normal,” Stratus said.
They walked up to the table and Quinn looked up at them in surprise.
“What are you guys doing here early?” She asked.
“What are you doing here early?” Neveah shot back.
“Brandon’s first day back. He wanted to get here early to clean out Alice’s locker. He said he was just going to keep her stuff in the debate room until he leaves today.” Quinn shrugged.
The girls shared a look. Quinn narrowed her eyes and set her book down.
“Now you,” she ordered.
Izzy elbowed Stratus.
Quinn’s eyes went to her. The ice-cold glare piercing through her soul. It made her shiver and goosebumps rise on her arms.
“Honestly, we just got here early to try and think of a way to apologize to you for Saturday. I know I was a bitch, and we all sort of ganged up on you and made you tell us all that stuff about Alice. I guess I just want to know if we are okay? I’m sorry for being um… pushy.” Stratus lied.
Quinn eyed her and gauged her level of seriousness before eyeing the other girls.
“Whatever, we are fine. I’m not going to go home and cry about it if that’s what you think. I’m over it. New day, new drama.” Quinn shrugged before picking up her book again.
All four girls visibly relaxed.
“So uh, how did things go with Roxy?” Izzy changed the subject.
“I had to peel her off of me and make her go home yesterday. I guess you can say she and I are a thing now.” Quinn shrugged.
“You don’t seem happy about it.” Harley pointed out.
“I’m indifferent,” Quinn said without looking up from her book.
There was a moment of silence.
Quinn set her book down again and eyed the girls.
“What aren’t you guys telling me? You are only this quiet when you are hiding something.” Quinn frowned.
Before any girl could answer a loud ear piercing shrill cry echoed off the cafeteria walls. It was the kind of scream you would hear when you know something horrible has just happened. Everyone went deathly silent. The hairs on Stratus’s neck stood on end.
A girl came running into the cafeteria. She collapsed on the floor in a heap of tears. She was crying, the type of cry you do when you’ve just lost someone. She covered her mouth and shook violently, constantly looking behind her.
Mason ran in shortly after, his hair still wet from the shower he just had after swim practice. He ran to a trash can and vomited. Then he slid down to the floor, a silent shock registered on his face.
Whispers quickly broke out everyone wondering what was going on.
“Someone help!” The girl sobbed.
Harley stood to her feet and quickly jogged over to Mason.
The other girls quickly followed, except Quinn who walked at a normal pace to the scene, her face a mask of indifference. She did not look at Mason or the crying girl instead her eyes drifted past the cafeteria door to the open door of the debate room just down the hall.
She walked past the girls and into the hall her feet carrying her to the debate room. Slowly and almost fearfully she pushed the door all the way open.
Hanging by an extension cord from the indoor balcony, where many club members played board games and hung out, was Brandon. His glasses were on the floor beneath him. His body wasn’t even swinging, giving a telling sign for how long he had been like that. His face was blue and his neck a deep purple from where the cord choked him.
Brandon Kingsley was dead.
“Quinn, what is it?” Stratus came up behind her.
Quinn quickly pushed Stratus out of the room and slammed the door shut behind her. She grabbed Stratus and hugged her close to her body. Stratus could feel Quinn shaking.
“He’s dead,” Quinn said into Stratus’s shoulder, being sure to keep Stratus away from the room.
“Who?” Status tried to pull free.
“It’s Brandon, he’s… he killed himself.” She whispered.
Stratus’s eyes went big as saucers as she stared at the closed debate room door. Through the door window slit, she could see Brandon’s arm.
Quinn took a deep breath before regaining her composure, she pushed Stratus back and gave her a hard look.
“Go get help, I’ll call the police.” She ordered.
Stratus nodded and walked off. Her face felt numb, her whole body seemed to be reacting on autopilot. She found herself walking to the principal who was already making his way to the commotion. She didn’t say anything she just grabbed his shirt sleeve and pulled him towards the debate room.
“911 what is your emergency?”
“My name is Quinn Hillcast, I go to Regal High. Please send help immediately, a friend of mine has hurt himself.”
“Can you tell us what happened?”
“He’s hanging from the balcony, he isn’t moving. I think… I think he’s dead.”
“You said he was your friend? Can you tell me his name?”
“Brandon, Brandon Kingsley.”
“And where exactly is he so that dispatchers know where to go.”
“He’s in the debate room, which is by the cafeteria. Right by the main door to the school.”
“Okay, I am going to need you to sit tight. Help is on the way. Don’t mess him, just wait until the paramedic arrives on the scene. Can you do that for me?”
“Okay.” Quinn’s voice shook and she swallowed loudly.
After the principal overheard Quinn’s conversation, he slowly walked over to the debate room. His hands shook as he turned the doorknob. Quinn once again grabbed Stratus and shielded her eyes from the room. Stratus just held Quinn tightly and closed her eyes even tighter.
The principal opened the door which squeaked slightly.
“Oh god.” He covered his mouth at the sight of it.
Other staff members quickly came to look, one even burst into a hysterical fit.
Before any more students could arrive, buses were canceled, the front doors were locked, and a message was sent to all parents. Come pick up your kids there has been an incident, the school canceled until further notice.
It wasn’t long until the police got there.
Brandon Kingsley was pronounced dead on the scene.
Quinn, Mason, and that girl were all brought in to make a statement.
Everyone else was made to go home.
Quinn stared blankly at the steel table as she waited for Agent Cortez. She didn’t look scared or shocked, more tired than anything else. Her eyes just stared blankly ahead.
When the door opened Quinn flinched at the sound, she had been waiting there so long she had gotten lost in her own thoughts or lack thereof. Cortez sighed and sat in front of Quinn with some files in one hand, a coffee in another.
“Brandon’s mom is here.” Cortez started,
Quinn forced herself to meet the agent's eyes.
“She insists that you had something to do with this, that you killed him. She says you were the one to take him to school. Is that true?”
“Yes.” Quinn’s voice came out in a hoarse whisper.
“I’m sorry, a little louder please?” Cortez asked.
“I said yes. I drove him to school early.” She repeated more clearly.
“He said he didn’t want to take the bus, that he didn’t want people to stare at him. It was supposed to be his first day back. He told me he wanted to get there early to clean out Alice’s locker. I offered to help him, but he said he wanted to do it alone. Last I saw him he was walking into the front office to get the code to Alice’s locker.”
“Did he seem upset?”
“Did he say anything about wanting to end his life?”
“Where did you go right after you left him?”
“I went into the cafeteria and sat down to read. I’m sure the school cameras can back up that I was there the whole time until I found him.”
“Right. And he didn’t show any signs, none at all?”
“He was sad, but who wouldn’t be? He sister was killed. Nothing unusual about it, he just seemed regularly sad, I didn’t know.” Quinn sighed and ran a hand through her hair.
“Thank you but I think that will be all for now, unless you want to add anything?” Cortez raised an eyebrow.
“I just want to go home.” Quinn nearly whispered.
Cortez pursed her lips but got up and held open the door for Quinn.
Quinn got up and quickly walked out.
“I know you did this! You are letting her get away!” Ms. Kingsley cried and lashed out at Quinn.
Several officers had to hold her back.
“You’re sick! A psychotic murderer! You are letting her get away with it.” she broke down and fell to the floor.
Quinn eyed her before quickly walking out of the police station to her car.
When Quinn got home, she quickly went inside and shut and locked the door behind her. She slid down the front door and stared blankly ahead. No expression on her face. Her house was silent, Quinn tilted her head and listened. Not a single sound could be heard. No creaking boards, no unwanted music, no mysterious glasses shattering, just silence.
Slowly, very slowly, her lips turned up into a smile.