Claudia arrived home to find the house empty. She checked everywhere in the dark, not wanting to draw any more attention to the place when Joyce was known to be gone for a while. She didn’t have any luck trying to find some sort of clues. At least not at Cyndi’s old place. No traces at all. She thought of returning and waiting for Joyce to think up of another way. She sat in the dark and waited for a long time. Until she got impatient and left the house again. She had to risk it and track Joyce down. Perhaps it was an old habit. Or paranoia because of what happened during the last traditional festival. She knew Joyce would laugh at her when she confessed to Joyce of her concern. Joyce always knew how to laugh things off–regardless of the situation. Joyce was in a way like her past self, except Joyce was smarter. Well, not in the situation of choosing such a guy like Nic. But Joyce was a lot smarter in other situations.

For some reason, Claudia was drawn in by the dark, humongous house as she made her way toward the marble path. She needed to cross the wooden bridge and head into town to find Joyce, not linger. She had to remind herself of that goal, not get distracted and think of the past. Yet she couldn’t help staring at the house. But why was the door bolted like that? There was no reason for it to be since she remembered it was never locked up–regardless of night or day. Curiosity and paranoia forced her to head toward that direction instead of the bridge. It took her a while to remove the stick. It was indeed a heavy stick. She tossed it aside before reaching for the handle, but she barely touched it and it just fell off. Alarmed, she placed her fingers into the hole where the knob used to be and tugged on it slightly. The door came undone, and she was finally allowed access.

“Nooooooooooo…”

The blood-curdling scream came from none other than Claudia. She saw the body. It was hard not to, especially how the lights were bright overhead, allowing her to see so clearly of the truth. A cruel truth that she had wanted to put behind her more than anything.

Claudia had already crashed onto the floor and was actually sobbing in hysterical. She crawled slowly over to where Joyce’s body was, chanting over and over again the same phrase.

“It was all my fault…”

Soon, the neighbors came. It was like how Joyce had predicted. If only Joyce had outlasted that moment. Some of them had heard Claudia’s scream from earlier. It was hard not to in the silent night. They had returned from the festival just in time to hear Claudia’s scream. Claudia was once again pulled away from the scene like a similar night of the past while some of them ran back into the main area of town to inform the authorities.

Everything went by in a blur for Claudia as she continued her hysterical crying and chanting. Then she was brought to the local headquarter because they finally recognized her as the girl they were looking for all along.

“Her boyfriend did it,” Claudia blurted out when she finally calm down and was able to speak in a coherent manner.  “He and his friends killed her.”

Several pairs of eyes were staring at her, wondering if she’d gone crazy.

“We will investigate in that area later,” Someone spoke up. “But we have reasons to believe you’re involved in Cyndi’s murder. In fact, both murders. You were present at both places and even fled after the first murder. Instead of stepping forward to cooperate with us, you chose to run. How do you explain yourself?”

Questions after questions streamed at her. None of them would listen to her. She knew it would happen. No one would believe her. Then she was told she would be transferred toward the suspects’ region to think it over, and if she would finally provide legit information. Or confess. Depending on which one would come first. As she was being escorted down the hallway, she could see all sorts of prisoners looking out at her. None of them dared to make a peep, but they had these haunting looks in their eyes that made the place tenfold eerie.

The door clang shut behind her after the guard shoved her in the cell. There were only two openings allowing her any source of light to the outside world. One squared space by the top of the door with bulletproof glass in its hollow spot. The other was a window higher up at the back of the cell though it was protected with metallic cylinders to prevent any possible escape.

Then the guards left her to the darkness and the small space that was now her new habitat. Hope slipped more and more as the days went by, she gave up talking or pleading. She knew they didn’t care for her version of the story. So she kept silent. Not saying anything. Until one day. The day they told her someone was coming in to see her. It was Nic. They said he wanted to know why she had killed his girlfriend. Maybe they pitied him thus granting his request of coming in such a place.

“Perhaps it’s better for you to be in here,” Nic said after he was done scanning Claudia’s little room. “It would’ve been better if you weren’t such a busybody.”

“You’re a murderer, you’ll never get away with it,” Claudia shouted with much rage within her. And the bottled up emotions since the day Cyndi died. And now Joyce.

Nic had on his amused smile then. “Am I? From this side of the door, I think we both know who’s getting away with it and who’s not.”

With that, Nic resumed his sorrowful expression and turned to leave. He needed to carry on with his mournful state, telling the world he had just lost his girlfriend. Someone whom he could possibly spend the supposed future with. Yet that was robbed because of someone else. While Claudia’s attempts to stir any sense of suspicion on Nic to the guards were all in vain. She had no proofs and the three conspirators had more to plant on her than she could ever imagine possible.

© Tuesday, August 21st, 2012

Posted: Friday, October 19th, 2012

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