The lights were quite dim as I came to. Shifting slightly, I feel my head was banging. Rising from my position, I rub my eyes to clear away the sleep. Looking around, I couldn’t figure where I was. I tried to remember what happened. I was attacked by Mr. Walker’s friend. “Watch out for the shelf.” A voice said.
Screeching loudly, I shifted from my position, looking behind me. “How are you alive?” I yelled. “Keeping your voice down.” He was sitting on a couch, holding a flask that probably contained alcohol. I was laying on another couch. The room was sterilized and conditioned. The walls were clinical white and the lights provided a yellowish glow to the room.
“How are you alive?” I asked again. “When did I die?” He smirked. “If I wanted a Riddle for an answer, I would just get a puzzle book.” I retorted. The man laughed. He had changed from his previous outfit. He was wearing a black t-shirt and pants. It did not seem like he has been injured at all. “I saw Agnes stab you” I stated.
“That she did. But not strong enough to kill me. Her attack caused some bleeding but that’s it. All I had to do was hold my breath for a couple of minutes. You girls tried but you aren’t killers, you know?” “And you are,” I questioned. “I know about them enough to shield myself from this town’s yearly festival.” His face contorted in disgust as he said festival.
“No one has seen you here. You aren’t from this town.” I said. “How would you know that, little lady?” I looked at me in surprise. “This neighborhood is nosy.” I offered. “Yes. I always have to find some sneaky method to visit Kevin while I am here.” “So, this isn’t your first time here.” I concluded.
“You sure ask a lot of questions.” He chuckled. “Well, it’s been a long day and I am pretty sure you drugged me.” I narrowed my eyes at him. “You can’t hold that against me. Especially after you did the same to your friend.” He said. “How.. How do you know that?” I stuttered. His statement sent me into a flashback mode. I had chosen to cook the dinner tonight.
I crushed a sleeping pill and sprinked it into Agnes’ pasta. It was my insurance. So, that I could prep myself for the Purge and her attack. “I am very good at sneaking. I peered through the kitchen window as you crushed a pill and mixed it into the girl’s food. Voila! Ten minutes later she was drowsy and unsteady.”
“I was protecting myself.” I countered. “And I wasn’t?” He asked. “Against what? A 120 pounds girl who was dead on her feet and holding a toothbrush?” I sarcastically asked. “You have got a fight in you. There is a place you could go to. Away from this yearly killing fest.” He said quietly.
“My parents are here. My family and friends are here.” I whispered. “Family and friends who don’t even recognize you. They wouldn’t feel the guilt if they killed you on The Purge.” “But, still.” I insisted. “Excuses, excuses.” The man waved his hand in the air, dismissing my, well, excuse. “What’s this place you are talking about though?” I asked curiously.
“Had your attention, didn’t I?” He smiled. “No, I want to keep my options open.” I replied, honestly. “There is a town. Hillside County. You can move there. You will get a new identity. Low cost education, jobs available, comfortable living and chance to start a new life.” “Right, the complete do-over. What’s the price?” I scoffed.
“No price.” He clarified. “So, you do it out of the goodness in your hearts?” I spoke with disbelief. “Not very many people want to leave this town. Most just stay here. They like the routine.” He answered. “What routine? The nosy neighborhood, leaving the town for college and then coming back with a black hat to settle here?” I questioned.
“You are kidding me, right?” The man put down his flask and sat up properly. “No, I am not.” I replied. “You don’t know?” He asked again. “No, what are you talking about?” My frustration began to teem over the edge. “People here are addicted to killing.” He stated simply, “They can never stop. That’s why they return all the time."
“Of course not, they just go nuts on the day of The Purge, that’ all.” Desperately hoping he was wrong. “No, they do not. Killing has been culturized so much that people enjoy it very much. On the Purge, they let out all the frustration they have on that day,” the man explained. I was at the loss of words. But deep down, I think I knew this.
It wasn’t some curse of craziness, it was just people, who were too far gone. They were enabled by the law even more to the point there is no return. “You did know that, didn’t you?” The man asked. “Yeah, I am in denial.” I snorted. Then it hit me.. “What time is it?” My head into panic mode instantly.
“Around 3 pm.” He replied. “Are you kidding me?” I asked in horror. “The Purge started hours ago. Where are we?” “That hit you now?” This time it was his turn to snort. “Well, yes!” I exclaimed. “Kevin had panic room built inside his master suite. He would hide here when the Purge happened. It was our hangout spot. That’s why people haven’t seen me, ever.”
His dark eyes sobered a little as he spoke of his deceased friend. “Aren’t you mad that we killed your friend?” I breeched the topic carefully. “Not really. The man was likely to die in the Purge, otherwise it would have been at the hands of those who he owed money to,” the man answered. “Oh.” That was all I could say.
“Why did you two kill him, anyway? Your friend was under influence but you seem sane enough.” He remarked. “It was an accident.” I muttered in shame. “An accident, you say?” He looked at me inquisitively. “Yeah. We stopped by his house for some timber wood. We have a traditional fireplace at our place.
Our parents have been borrowing for ages in exchange of money, of course." Running his hand through his short, dark hair, the man nodded, prompting me to continue my story. “So, we came to visit Mr. Walker. He welcomed us warmly, you know. And directed Agnes towards the backyard where he stored the wood.
As soon as, she left Mr. Walker began to make advances towards me. Even though, I refused, he kept on.” “He tried to assault you?” The man looked at me in shock, “What the hell?” I nodded. He let out a string of swear words. “Agnes came back right on time.
She picked up a knife from the kitchen and stabbed him defensively.” Sobs began to rack up as I realized what I had been through in three days. “I..I..don’t know. He just fell and died. He bled a lot. I was so stunned.” The words came out of me. The man did not make a move to comfort me.
. I was thankful for that. I, honestly, could not bear anyone’s touch right now. “In the fear of getting caught for murder, I moved my focus to hiding the evidence. And I don’t think I would have ever thought about it again.” “So, Agnes killed him.” He spoke, coolly. “No, her motive was to wound him, not kill him.” I said defensively.
“You are in denial about it, aren’t you?” He asked softly. “I don’t know. She had been different for days. I was hoping Agnes would become a part of this but she is. And I don’t know if I can speak to her ever again. And my parents are against me too. Because I did not support the Purge. It’s a mess,” I sniffed.
“You know, she wants to kill you too. She has a hitlist.” The man said. “What?” I look over at him in shock. “When I was acting dead in the garage, she was muttering names of people. Kevin and I were bonus.” “You are kidding!” I exclaimed. “Nope, and the names go” Kelsey, Sean, Darren, Jennifer, Sue and Fiona.”
“Woah, why does she want to kill them?” I muttered. “Beats me, I figured you knew.” He shrugged. “I don’t know, honestly.” I replied. “It can be anything you know. Pettiest of things can make her want to kill you. But the way she was looking at you, it was a big one.” “We never had a single fight!” I was stunned.
“Which is why you would never know what she was thinking.” He gently explained, “People let their thoughts out when they are angry. You get to know the worst of them that way. Its not an easy way but hey, you learn something new.” “Are you speaking about Mr. Walker?” I asked curiously. “Not really. Maybe a little. I found out about his habits last year.
He promised me he would stop taking advantage of young girls but apparently, I was wrong.” He replied. “So, what do we do now?” I questioned him. “We wait till the next morning. You have time to catch a wink if you want. You look like you are about to slip into a coma.” He snorted. “Thanks for the compliment,” I sarcastically commented.
“What do I do tomorrow?” I asked absent mindly. “That’s not my decision to make. However, the offer stands.” He said, getting up from the couch and moving towards the table near the shelf. The shelf companied many books while a laptop sat on the table. He opened it and began to work. Me? I decided to sleep off my problems.
I lay back down on the couch and closed my eyes. “It was quite an enlightening conversation.” I chuckled. “Certainly” He said. It occurred to me at that moment that I never asked his name. I figured I could ask it when I woke up. With that being my last thoughts, I slipped into a deep sleep. ***
A resounding knock woke me up. A hand was shaking me awake. I rise from the couch immediately. I see the man placing his finger on his lips, indicating me to be quiet. The knock came again. My eyes widened. Was it Agnes on the other side? The man clinched my arm and shook his head, telling me not to do anything stupid. I hear the knock again.
The man raised his knife a little higher. He handed me a bottle. The black and red appeared innocent enough but the label read: Pepper spray. Suddenly, a hissing sound came from the other side. The man sprinted towards the door and flattened himself against the wall. I hid the pepper spray behind me. Moments later, Agnes barged. The sight of her took my breath away. In a bad way!
She was covered in blood, from head to toe. Her clothes were turned into rags. There were tears on them. She was bleeding from 50 places it seemed. Her eyes were bloodshot and appeared frazzled. One of her fingers seemed to be broken. But she was holding a meat knife. That was dripping blood.
“Aha, my final kill. It feels fitting that you are the last one!” Agnes breathed out. Her voice was eerily quiet. Her hair was all over the place and tangled. It seemed that Agnes went all out on the Purge. “Why do you want to kill me, anyway?” I asked, calmly. I surprised myself with my attitude. Internally, I was freaking out.
“You see, I was just tired of you. You are annoying.” Agnes replied. “So were you, but you don’t see me wanting to kill you.” I tried reasoning. “Of course not, you are much better than us mere mortals. You could never kill anyone.” Agnes sneered. “Why, Agnes?” I asked again. “You see Kelsey, there is something I never told anyone.
I had two siblings, twins actually. They were 11 months old. My mum managed to hide her pregnancy from everyone. They were adorable. We were planning to move out of this fucking town last year. But your cold stone father found out my mother’s secret.” I was horrified. I did not like where this was going. A tear slipped from Agnes’ eyes. I could actually see her pain on her face.
“You know what he did? He attacked my mom and knocked her out. Then he buried my siblings in the backyard. Alive!” “You hear me: ALIVE” Agnes roared. “Every year, he would lock his own daughter in a room and then, go out to kill others. Their deaths shocked my mum. She became a functioning alcoholic after that. She began to abuse. Blame me for their deaths!”
“So, this time I planned to take part in the Purge and kill all those responsible for my siblings’ death.” “You killed my father?” I look at her, horrified. “No, sweetie. I am going to kill you to cause him pain. They already lost one. Time to lose their last one!” She began to laugh manically. “Why did you never tell me this?” I foolishly ask.
“Tell you what? Hey, Kelsey, your dad killed my siblings but it is not punishable because it was the Purge.” Agnes derisively replied. Agnes began to step forward in my direction. Her eyes glowed as she smirked haughtily. I did not even want to defend myself at that point. I just sat there, limp. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing but then I had one more question.
“What about Sean, Darren, Jennifer, Sue and Fiona? Why kill them?” “How do you know about that?” Agnes was shocked. She stopped in her tracks. Her eyes widened. “Never mind how I know that. Why?” I shook my head. “You were always one curious little madam. But I will give the answer before you leave the world.” Agnes chuckled.
“You see, they bullied me. A lot. So, they were going to go. Its been an interesting day. You know I just beat the town’s record of the maximum kills. Before it was 13, now it’s 34.” Saying, I was horrified is an understatement. “Anyway, this was nice chat, so bye-bye. Tell…” Agnes words were cut short. The man had stabbed her from behind. Her mouth fell open in horror.
. The knife had penetrated through the ribs. The tip of it pointed out of her chest. Blood began to gush out of the wound as well ass her mouth. Her eyes rolled upward as she fell. I just watched as Agnes remained on the ground. Not moving an inch. I watched as she lay dead. What was I staying in this town for? How many things did I not know about? What other secrets am I privy to?
For the first time in my life, I did not want to find the answers to these questions. I wanted out. I wanted to run away from this town. I needed that clean chit. “Hey, we need to get rid of the body. I am going to drop it outside. Stay sharp.” The man called out to me. I nodded in reply. He lifted Agnes, taking her away from my sights.
But the image stayed. The blood that was spilled on the floor stayed. Agnes’ explanation stayed. I wanted to get rid of these memories. I got up from my place, walking to the bathroom outside. I washed my face and my hands. It felt like her blood was on my hands. I did not even want to think about what my father did.
Looking into the mirror, my reflection stared back at me. I look haunted. My blue eyes had lost their color and sunken inside my cheek. My skin was pale with brown strands of hair all over the place. That was the face of despair. My mouth was set grimly as if they would never smile again. It felt like that in those moments.
The man appeared behind me. “Its over. They have gone.” He said. “I wanna go outside.” I breathed deeply. “You sure? Its gruesome.” He sighed. “Yeah. Its fine. I need a memory.” I began to walk away from the bathroom. Padding through the living room, I opened the main door.
Stepping onto the porch, I saw the horrible scene from Ground Zero. My feet carried me forward. The sun was beginning to rise. Its rays feel on the dead bodies. In a distance, the carriers were loading the bodies. They were clearing the blood off the road. So that everyone can wake up and pretend nothing happened yesterday. I could never pretend.
I couldn’t not believe that I grew up in this town, lived here for 18 years. It was quiet. Only sounds were of the jet streams of water hitting the road. I heard that places look different in the aftermath of a war but never did I expect to see it with my own eyes. Looking at the place in front of me, the cold breeze gusted by carrying the stench of blood.
All these people had a family. But their deaths were only a means for others to relive their frustrations. I realized that people will never change in this town. They enjoy this. This land could never be purified. Those roads remain tainted, the walls still have the bloods of innocents splattered on them. I watched as the carriers moved from on spot to another.
The sun slowly inched higher. It made it look like the Purge did not happen, but it did. I turned towards the man who stood behind me in silence. “Does the offer stand?” I asked stoically. “Yes.” He nodded in understanding. The sun light reflected on his face, I guessed that he must have been in his late thirties. “Where is this town?” I enquired.
“600 miles away from here. Hillside County.” He replied. “Okay. I want to leave now.” I put forth my request. “Don’t want to speak to your folks?” the man began to walk towards a black sedan. “Never.” I followed him. I eased into the passenger seat as the man slipped into the driver side.
As he turned his ignition, I asked, “What is your name? I never asked.” For the first time since I met him, he smiled at me. “Ivan.” **********************************
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