Death might be unforgiving and brutal but nothing could erase my memories of September Falls. The attack had been vicious and final and knowing that she had faced such fear and anger all alone was tearing me up inside
Darkness invaded every corner of the studio, creeping along the walls. Shafts of moonlight glinted teasingly through the large skylights holding the shadows at bay, spotlighting the scene in the middle of the room as September recoiled in horror at the carnage in front of her. Six months of hard work destroyed, vivid brush strokes cut off in their prime taunted her as her eyes captured the broken shards of glass from the delicate watercolours whilst the main acts of vandalism were evident in the large canvases. There was no mistaking the angry knife strokes that slashed from top to bottom.
‘Who could hate me so much?’ She choked back the scalding tears, her mind racing back through the series of anonymous gifts that had been left on her doorstep and then finally, the photo of her naked in the shower that had come just that morning. The fear was overwhelming. Someone was stalking her every move, mocking her, but somewhere, there had to be a clue as to who was responsible. She had to find out who was behind it and stop them. Her jaw set “Right, you bastard, whoever you are, you want a war? You’ve got one!’
As her fingers traced the ragged edges that revealed the savagery and intent of the perpetrator, a slow, creaking sound behind her brought her senses flooding back and she turned slowly, muscles taught and trembling, anger and fear washing over her in waves. The door was now partially ajar but there was no sign of anyone. But without an open window or a hint of a breeze, she knew that the door hadn’t opened on its own. Senses tingling, somewhere in the darkness of the passage, someone waited. The blackness both beckoned and taunted her, fear and anger intermingled until she could taste both bitter emotions, swallowing hard the need to cry out.
September felt as if her lungs were frozen. Restricted air and tension emanating from her, she used every ounce of courage that she possessed to move forward. Outstretched hands, red painted nails like talons, the door hinge creaked eerily as she pushed it fully back against the wall. The black void outside the room mocking and the shadows remained intact despite the best effort from the moonlight to penetrate the gloom. She took another step forward, mouth dry, heart racing.
She had no torch, no weapon and was trapped in her studio at the top of the house. There was no way out but to face the darkness and hope against hope that she was wrong, that the narrow corridor was empty and no threat prevailed. Indecision hovered and she took a long slow breath, sucking the air into her lungs, trying to steady her nerves.
In slow motion, the shadows moved menacingly and he materialized in front of her, long black trench coat with collar turned upwards. Shaded face, dark eyes, his once familiar features were painted with a bemused expression.
“Oh my god, it’s you. You frightened the hell out of me” She breathed deeply and with some annoyance. “What the hell…?”
The silver moonlight caught the upward rise and fall of the sharpened blade as it slashed between her breasts, blood splattered and the darkened trail of blood seeping into the white of her t-shirt. Staggering back, her eyes widened in shock as the studio turned hazy. She felt herself stumble and fall backwards, one hand clutching the gaping wound, blood splattering through her fingers, the other hand protective, trying to brace herself for the fall.
As she lay dying amidst the broken canvases, eyes wide, shocked, and with her blood seeping into the oil painted canvas beneath her, she only vaguely heard the sound of gunshots and as her body jolted with impact, she knew no more.
Along this hallowed ground she walked, heavy heart and with fear did tread. As the sun shone down, tormented soul, as underneath the ground her friend lay dead.
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