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Today’s post is by Kelsey Sutton, author of Some Quiet Place.
“What’s with the mask?” I asked Emery, eyeing the thing in her hand as we walked up the front steps of Isabelle Stone’s house. The emerald material gleamed in the moonlight. “This isn’t a costume party, right?”
Emery snorted, shoving it in her pocket. She didn’t bother ringing the bell; she just opened the door and walked in. Music washed over us, pounding and painful, and she raised her voice. The door slammed behind us. “No,” my best—and only—friend shouted. “Like these people would ever cover their perfect faces. I just brought it because it gives my outfit a little flair.”
She was wearing black, like every other night. Not exactly hard to match anything to it. Before I had a chance to respond, I saw them, and the words died in my throat.
There he was. Simon. He looked so cute with those glasses.
And of course Isabelle Stone was hanging all over him, more drapes than girl.
Emery put the mask on and said something, then she was gone. Panic swelled in my chest. I tried to distract myself by moving further into the crowd. The noise and the chaos overwhelmed me, but I was still glad we’d gone. I’d never been to a party before. Proof that being the new girl wasn’t so bad this time. Things had changed. Even though I hadn’t been able to escape my nickname—it’s not exactly fun being called “Mouse” all the time—I had Emery. And the teasing wasn’t so bad here. Well, not anymore. Isabelle had gotten tired of torturing me a few weeks ago.
My nickname was appropriate, no matter how much I hated it. I slipped through the conversations and groups unnoticed. I didn’t touch any of the alcohol, but I’d chugged so much water before this that my bladder eventually overpowered my desire to become part of the fun. I went to the stairs in search of a bathroom. Emery found me at the bottom and looped our arms together. It was too loud to ask her where she’d been.
Isabelle cut in front of us, and as I paused to let her pass, my glance flicked up to Simon’s, who was standing beneath the chandelier. He was so serious. I thought about saying something, but my shyness was paralyzing. After a few moments, all I could do was hurry up those stairs. Maybe after peeing in the toilet, I would puke in it, too. This was so humiliating. Emery seemed edgy. She was probably in another one of her moods.
At the end of the hallway, Isabelle vanished into a bedroom. I frowned, then mentally shrugged. “Has she been bothering you again?” Emery leaned close to demand. Shaking my head, I enclosed myself in the bathroom.
A few minutes later, the lights flickered. Then they went out entirely. A scream ripped through the stillness. Then, before I could react, there was another one. I opened the door and rushed out. What was going on? Ragged breaths left my mouth, and they felt like the only sound in the entire house. Where was Emery? The screams had sounded so close. The only other person up here was Isabelle.
Blindly, I walked to her bedroom and pushed the door open. The hinges whined. “H-hello?” I whispered, digging out my cell phone. I cleared my throat and used the glow from the screen to scan the room. “Isabelle? Are you okay? What’s—”
My leg collided with a chair, and I fell forward. My hands flew out, and landed on someone warm and solid. Isabelle. On the bed. She must have passed out from drinking too much; I could feel the alcohol she spilt on the bedspread all over my palm.
No. Not alcohol.
The glow from my phone showed the truth. Her blood dripped off my hand, probably leaving a trail. She wasn’t passed out… because her eyes were wide open. Unblinking. More blood seeped through her clothes and onto the carpet. I retreated in a daze. I slammed into a wall.
“Move!” Emery hissed in my ear. “And wipe that blood off on the inside of your shirt.” She yanked at my arm so hard it felt as if it should pop right out of the socket. It didn’t. The lights were still off, but my friend didn’t seem to need them. She guided me through the darkness, ignoring it when I stumbled. I struggled to obey her through the fog in my brain. Was the blood off? We padded down the stairs, our footsteps so loud in this terrified silence. I slammed into someone running toward the screams—a faint oomph penetrated the stillness—and the overwhelming scent of some perfume teased my senses.
The lights came back on.
As soon as our eyes adjusted, Emery was pulling at me again, back up the stairs. “What are you—” I started, still confused and dazed.
“What’s going on here?” Emery asked loudly, elbowing my side to shut me up. I didn’t want to see Isabelle again, so I stayed in the hallway while everyone else crowded around the doorway to her room.
In the rest of the house, we could hear people are laughing and running and shrieking. I raised my gaze and spotted Simon again. This time, he was watching me. He wasn’t looking away. My mind went back, back to when none of this was happening, and I remembered our eyes meeting like this just before I went upstairs with Emery to find the bathroom. The breath caught in my throat. Then our stare was broken as girl pushed past him, and an annoyance flickered across his face.
Hayley shoved a phone into my hand. “Call 911. Now,” she snarled. My classmates were whispering now. Their hushed speculation surrounded me as I dialed the numbers slowly. 9-1-1. An operator answered, and I was saying something about dead and help when something shattered on the floor. We all turned. It was Caelyn Rodriguez. Hayley was brushing past us as if she was about to flee, but then she paused. Caelyn’s eyes were wide and panicked. Why? Did she have something to do with this?
“Did you call the police?” a girl asked me. I didn’t answer. She touched my arm. “Hey… I forget your name. Did you call the police?”
“Amy,” I whispered. “My name is Amy.”
Kelsey Sutton has done everything from training dogs, making cheeseburgers, selling yellow page ads, and cleaning hotel rooms. Now she divides her time between her full-time college classes and her writing, though she can also sometimes be found pounding out horrible renditions of Beethoven on the piano and trying bizarre drinks at her local coffee shop. Kelsey lives in northern Minnesota with her dog and cat, Lewis and Clark. She is represented by Beth Miller of Writer's House, and her debut YA novel SOME QUIET PLACE is forthcoming from Flux in 2013. You can add it on Goodreads here!
You can also find her on Twitter @: https://twitter.com/KelseyJSutton
Drop her an email @: firstname.lastname@example.org
And visit her on her blog at www.kelseysutton.blogspot.com