This is a story in four parts.
Something smelled fishy.
Not in the clichéd ‘something doesn’t feel right’ sense. But something literally smelled fishy in the girl’s locker room. The stench was foul and permeating, like it was coming up from the cracks in the floor tile. An eerie silence danced mockingly around me while I towel-dried my hair. It was egging me on, pushing me to find out what the hell that smell was.
The girls—excuse me— “young ladies” (as Headmistress Baylor would have said) that attended Sojourner Truth Prep weren’t the most hygienic. That much was obvious from the stench that seemed to be spewing from the vents. I pushed my feet into shower shoes and crossed the room towards the showers. The flip-flop sound that my shoes made echoed hauntingly against the walls—reminding me every few seconds that I was alone.
Gingerly, I pulled back each shower curtain, jumping back as if a masked murderer was behind one of them, patiently waiting for me to discover his hiding place.
“Get it together, Reed.” I willed myself. I backed away from the stench and serial-killer-free shower stalls and walked through the double doors towards the bathrooms.
As soon as I pushed the doors open, the smell caught me by the throat. I inhaled, tasting the stomach acid that spewed into my mouth. My eyes welled up and my breathing became shallow. My heart almost slowed to a stop.
I inched through the bathroom, catching my ghastly reflection in the long rectangular mirror that ran the length of the room. My face was turning green.
I finally reached the last stall—the one that had been shut and marked ‘out of order’ for weeks on end. I figured I’d flush whatever leftover bodily fluids were steaming in the bowl and sprint out of there, but when I opened that stall door I realized the cause of the odor was way too big to flush.
Emily Santis—the star pupil of Truth Prep— stared at me with dead eyes that were wide open and horrified. Her long, dark hair was a bloody mangled mess, matted to her heart shaped face. Duct tape was slapped angrily over her mouth. Her hands were bound. Her thighs were forcefully married; her feet and legs hoisted in the air, bound as well, and tied to the coat handle of the door. Her usually glowing olive skin was indistinguishable. Instead, her body was a myriad of black and blue bruises. Her eyes, usually gentle and full of life, were red and poked out of her sunken skull, staring at me as if begging me to do something.
But I just stood there, unable to move.
Unable to think.
Unable to breathe.
With my hand still tight on the door handle, Emily’s body slumped downwards from my pull and the stench of her dead body slapped me hard in the face.
I got the fuck out of there.