“Hey, it’s Sam!”
Alice froze, her fingers gripping at the marble notebook in her lap, the pages moist. ‘Don’t trust Sam’. The words screamed at her from their place in the heading of the paper, scrawled neatly in black ink. ‘Don’t trust Sam’.
Another knock at the door. “Alice? Open up.”
Alice slid from her bed, her gaze locked on the foyer down the hall. She turned to the window that courted her headboard and eased it open. Barefoot and donned in a skimpy tank top and pajama bottoms, Alice stepped out on to the fire escape. It groaned in protest, rattling at the will of the wind.
A knock, loud and insistent. “Alice! You know mom and dad hate when you ignore me!”
Alice paused, her toes pressing into the cold metal of the fire escape’s descending steps. She pushed herself back on to the level of her apartment floor, peering through the window and straight down the hallway to the cherry wood of the entrance, where beyond stood Sam, a boy whose name was the only note in “Things to Remember”, by Alice Santana. Sam, who she couldn’t trust. Sam… her brother?
Alice swung herself into her bedroom, padding on to the floor with the slickness of a cat.
Sam pounded on the door, shaking it within the frame. “Open up!”
Alice’s breath stuck in her throat, as the shuddering of the door suggested its resistance against the weight of someone’s body being thrown against it.
Suddenly, the shaking stopped. The door rested soundly in its place, and the air dripped with silence.
A flutter of movement as a small piece of paper was wedged under the door. Alice approached warily, clinging to her notebook, as if it could protect her. She caught a glimpse of matted blonde hair and wild ice eyes as she moved past the hallway mirror and hesitantly plucked the clipping from the floor.
“HORRIFIC SLAUGHTER IN FAMILY HOME”. A black and white picture of wife, husband, and two children accompanied the headline, their smiles haunting the page. Alice ran her thumb over the daughter’s face, the girl’s eyes glinting in their innocence. She stepped back in the hallway to where the mirror confessed the truth to her, and frantically searched the rest of the article.
“‘Homer and Giselle Santana were brutally stabbed 13 times each in an act of hatred,’ says investigators. The loss of blood identified with their son Samuel suggests that he too has been claimed by the killer’s violent rage, though his body is yet to be found. The once loving mother and father seem to be survived by their only daughter, Alice Santana, diagnosed by doctors with retrograde amnesia that resulted from the family’s trauma. ”
The newspaper clipping floated to the ground, slipping through Alice’s fingers with the notebook in tow. Alice found herself in the mirror, pieces of memory and identity a whirlwind in her mind. Tears left tracks on her cheeks as they spilled from her eyes. Waking up to a broken reality, only one thing was certain: her brother. Her brother was alive, separated from her only by a smooth slab of wood.
Alice flew against the door, her hands already working at the locks. She wondered briefly at the heat wrapping her body in coils before she yanked open the door and took Sam into her arms.
She breathed into his neck, the smell of something bitter and acrid. “Oh Sam,” she sobbed.
He patted her back soothingly. “Oh little sister,” he sympathized, his voice ragged, “I thought you to be smarter than this.”
Alice stiffened in his embrace before pushing away, backing down the hall. She slipped on the fallen notebook and crashed to the ground as gas flooded the room with a green, sickening tint.
Sam, blonde hair falling across the goggles of his protective mask, leaned over and picked up the book. Alice’s vision blurred over his figure studying its content.
“‘Don’t trust Sam’”, he mused. “Well that would’ve been wise, wouldn’t it?”
Sam chuckled lightly, and Alice lost her hold on reality and slipped into darkness.
© 2016, Annalie Buscarino. All rights reserved.
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