Chapter One – Revenge Comes With Long Red Hair.
“You know. . . Kai . . . don't you . . . Em?” He had said, in between ragged dying breaths. “Because I know. . . Kai . . . she helped-” and with that he left the world ruining three lives for the price of two others. Mine. My mothers. And my best friends. Kai. Her life especially, because when I get the chance, I am going to do . . . something. I am going to show her how much like John she made me by killing Kora and Kokoshi. I promise you that Kai. It’s going to be the worst thing anyone has ever done to you. Worse than your parent’s deaths, I’ll tell you that now.
You were too young to comprehend that a killer had broken into your house, shot and hung your parents. But not me, oh no no no no, I was thirteen when that happened, I was old enough to know that my life was over. And these last three years I have been doing constant research trying to find a way to bring you crumbling down. Now I've turned sixteen and can carry out my plans, phase by phase, driving you mad. Everything and anything I do to you from here on out will stick to you like Kora and Kokoshi’s blood stuck to John's hands, and like Johns did to mine.
I know just how to get to you. To traumatise, humiliate and outcast you. I'll start with the ones you love most. Getting to everyone around you until you go insane.
But I can’t do this without giving an explanation to my adoptive parents, Kit and Mike. After the incident they put me in foster care because they had found my mums meth lab in our garage, about a year later Kit looked at my forms and decided he wanted me as his daughter. Three months later he married Mike and bought an apartment in the Gold Coast in Australia, close to where I used to live because they wanted me to always have a strong connection to my dead siblings.
I rolled out of bed and walked into the bathroom and stared at my reflection. The girl in the mirror had long deep red hair that goes down to her waist and bright blue eyes, framed by naturally dark eyelashes. My snow white skin glowed against the morning light. I was so different against Kit's smooth chocolate colour, when we went out together people just naturally assumed I was adopted. I'm going to genuinely miss those times. I step out of my clothes and stand for a second.
I turn the shower to full heat and step in, grateful for the warm water covering my freezing toes. In a matter of minutes I am out of the shower and dressed in my favourite blue shirt and black shorts along with some black boots.
I walked over to my dresser and took out a book and pen I wrote:
Kit and Mike,
Thank you both for everything
I will forever hold your hands,
Emika Burns, your daughter.
Using their last name was the least I could do considering the circumstances. I fold the paper and put it on my dresser.
I think of Ari, and how much I love him, and how much he will have to endure, but I know he will understand and forgive me. He will only have to play my games for a little while. Then he can join me, and if he doesn’t understand, he can join me by force. I think about his blonde hair, and his blue eyes, so much more dull then my own.
Then I remember how one time behind the gym block Kai's boyfriend Niko had kissed me, and I think about how much killing him will hurt Kai and that she deserves it, and I relish in the thought of her tears.
I retrieve my phone from the charging point in my wall and send two texts out. One to Niko,
Emika: Don't be afraid, you'll be the first to join me, in my fun little game, you will play with me.
His response came pretty quickly,
Niko: Em? What do you mean? If you want to start what we had going last year, I don't think I can do that behind Kai's back again...
Ah yes, I forgot about our little cheating scandal. I let my phone forget him and move on to Ari's number and sent him a text,
Emika:Don't be afraid, you'll see me soon, you won’t have to play my games. I love you.
His reply came lightning fast,
Arialthemermaid: Babe? What do you mean? You’re scaring me. I love you too, Mikki.
I laughed at his name, I forgot I had changed it. Then laughed at the new nickname he had given me. Mikki? As in, like, Mikki Mouse? Ha-ha. How cute.
I moved away from my phone and went to get the rope ready. I fumbled under my bed for a minute before grasping the rope I had put there the day earlier. Stumbling over to the window in the corner of my room, I untied the nots in the rope and leaned through the window into the open air. Just as I had suspected there was an iron rod, strong and sturdy, jutting out of the wall above me. I carefully grabbed the end of the rope and tied it to the rod, making sure there was a little length left and tied the rope again in a loop. I fit the rope around my head and lifted myself from the windowsill.
What happened next was fuzzy. I can remember maybe a purple kind of substance wrapping around my body in a completely blue space. Then a voice loud and very obnoxious.
“YOU HAVE COME HERE SEEKING MY HELP, CHILD?” it said. It sounded male but it definitely wasn’t human. Although I knew it wouldn’t be human it was still a shock to hear how fake and robotic it sounded. I wasn’t expecting it to sound…. Animalistic I guess. “Yes, I need your help getting revenge on someone who destroyed my life,” I said. I had to sound confident otherwise I would be sent to whatever comes after death, which in my case, would probably be something like Hell. Maybe. Probably. “WHY DO YOU THINK I WOULD EVER HELP A WEAK LITTLE MORTAL GIRL SUCH AS YOURSELF?” the voice exclaimed.
“Uh, weak mortal girl? I am not a weak- wait, you said I was mortal? Like you’re not mortal.”
“HA. NO CHILD I AM NOT MORTAL, BUT YOU ARE, SO, GIVE ME ONE REASON WHY I SHOULDN’T KILL YOU FOR TRYING TO SEEK MY HELP WITHOUT A PROPER BARGAIN.”
“I do have a bargain!” I shouted and reached into the pocket of my shorts and pulled out a vile of my blood that I had cut out of my arm three days ago and hid in my cupboard so Kit and Michael wouldn’t find it. I wonder if they’ve found my body yet. I doubt it Kit never comes in my room and Michael was kind of more interested in my grades so they won’t check on me until after school. Poor parents. I handed out the vile of blood in front of my face, and it vanished in a cloud of black smoke.
“VERY WELL. WHAT DO YOU NEED?” the voice said.
“I’ll tell you but I want to know your name and I’m sure you want to know mine. I’m Emika.” I said, I may as well know who Mr Obnoxious is right?
“I HAVE MANY NAMES BUT YOU MAY CALL ME……” then he rambled out a lot of random noises and words in another language.
“Yeahhh imma stick with Death, it seems more your style.”
“WHAT? HOW DARE YOU! MY NAME IS SACRED, I WILL SMITE YOU CHILD!”
“No, you won’t, because I’ve given you my blood and if you know of this or not, accepting my blood means that you’re in my service, so yeah I will stick with death, it seems more your style.” Wow that took a lot of strength I can’t believe I just said that. But I did, and now Death belongs to me, so I will use him against Kai. Even if that means hurting everyone else.
I was already half way dressed when I received Emika’s text, I walked over to where my phone was and read it. Alarmed, I set of a text. Then five more. None of them received a reply. I figured she was just busy and had accidentally sent me something from her drama group, she was always doing that, she always mixed up my name in her contacts with a girl called Arielle. Thinking she was fine I quickly ran gel through my vanilla hair and washed my face. On the way out of my room I stuck a toothbrush in my mouth and splashed on my cologne and sprayed some deodorant, which fumes stung my blue eyes. They were dull light blue, so unlike Emika’s wild, beautiful dark blue eyes with hazel sprouting out from the midnight coloured pupil and a light green rim. I’d almost forgotten how radiantly beautiful she is. Almost.
I checked the time on my cheap second hand watch. “Crap! I’m late!” oh Emika is so going to kill me! I rushed down the stairs and into the kitchen, opening the fridge door with such force I thought it would break off. I threw together an emergency lunch, which meant I had an old protein bar, a probiotic Greek yogurt and an orange, all of which Niko really likes so he usually swaps me a slice of raspberry velvet cake, an apple and two chocolates, all of which he doesn’t like. Weird how he only likes the things no one else does and everyone else likes the things he doesn’t. Kai often made fun of him for that, but quickly made up with a comment on how handsome he looked, which he did, he had hair as dark as black ink and eyes as blue as the ocean at dawn. Niko had skin that would make you think that he has never seen the sun. I can see why Akira fancy’s him, Akira always gets weird looks from his parents when he is with them in public and someone asked him what the girl situation is. It’s like his parents hate him for being gay. Don’t get me wrong, I personally have nothing wrong with gay people or people who are against gays, it’s just that everyone has their opinions on gays but you don’t always have to make people feel bad or put them down if you don’t like their choices or ways of life, it’s just wrong.
Oh my God school starts in thirty minutes. As I’m about to race out of the two story cream coloured house, my Uncle Alex walked out of the living room, scratching his military style hair and putting on a clean shirt over his bronze abs after his mid-morning workout. The new girl he had with him had red hair, green eyes and smudged blue eyeliner. She called out from the living room couch, “hey baby? Could you make me some coffee? I’m real tired and my boss wants me in for an extra shift today.” She had a southern accent and spoke as if she hated speaking in general. Uncle Douchebag looked back at her then me with those brown eyes, and wicked smile. “Hey, you can make coffee kid, right?” he checked his watch. “Uh, never mind you are going to be late for school, I really don’t see why they haven’t kept you back, what are your grades again? D’s right?” Getting angry I replied, “B’s actually” I started walking out the door, he started to say something and I considered listening to him. I ignored that impulse and walked down the street.
The second I got to school, Niko raced over, with Kyran and Kai right behind him. He wore the signature uniform, a blue shirt and black long pants, with the school emblem on each, a moon amongst the stars as the principle would say with admiration, and let me tell you, I’m a straight man but wow did he look good. He grabbed me by the shoulders a steered me away from Kyran and Kai. How was it that the guy could look like he’s just had six cups of coffee, plus energy drinks and has just suffered a panic attack, and still look better then Channing Tatum Justen Bieber and all of the bts boys combined? Haha, total bro crush moment right there.
“I know you’ve gotten the same text. I know you have, I’m going crazy, has she spoken to you? Do you know what she’s up to?” Niko was rambling really fast, but he as whispering, like someone could hear him. “Man, what’s wrong? Are you talking about Emika’s text? Bro, it’s probably just something she was supposed to send to her drama group, just chill, take a breath, everything is fine.” Well, everything was fine until Niko showed me the text he got from Em. What the hell was she talking about? “Whoa…” I motioned over to Kai and Akira, not wanting to end up like people in the movies where half the group don’t know what’s going on until half way through when they’re about to die. Niko said nothing as they read both of the texts.
“Holy crap. What the hell is she on?” Kai spoke with a tremor in her voice as if she was only trying not to cry.
“I’m with Kai man, what in this world?” Kyran said.
The bell went, saving me from having to talk them out of whatever suspicions they had. We looked at each other grimly, and started walking toward roll class. No one shared roll classes together so we went our separate ways. Only then did I realise that Emika wasn’t here.
The second that the lunch bell for 11:00 went I was told by Miss Danika that I was needed in the office for an emergency. The last time I had heard something like that my parents had died. I couldn’t stop thinking that something had happened to Emika or Jan, my next door neighbour, or even Alex, he was an ass sure, but he was the only family I had left. As I walked into the waiting room, I saw Kai and Niko sitting down, holding hands, and Kyran watching Niko with a worried expression. I hurried in and sat beside Ky, he caught me up to speed, which wasn’t that interesting, and they had all been called up here just like me. Well, if it involved all us, it couldn’t be that bad right? Wrong.
We were called into the principal’s office almost straight away, and when we arrived, Kit and Michael, Emika’s adoptive parents, sat crying, along with the guidance counsellor. Was Emika okay? Me and the guys shared a look that said, what the hell is about to happen. The principle looked directly at me as he said, “I know this is going to be difficult to understand, so I won’t try and go through all the useless shit you guys are going to hear a lot of the time, your friend Emika,” she reached across the desk and covered my hand. “Your friend Emika hung herself of the side of her apartment building.” What. What. What. What. What. What. What. What. No. no. Emika wouldn’t do that. No. she wouldn’t. She isn’t like that. Why would she do that? Why would she leave me here? All alone.
A week went by where I did nothing. I wouldn’t speak to anyone, and even Alex left me alone. I sat in my bed crying or sleeping or counting all the things I wished id never said to her. I wished I told her I loved her more. I wished I had complimented her more. I wished I had done everything and anything she needed or wanted. Why on earth would she hang herself?
Today was the day of her funeral. Kit and Michael relayed the gruesome discovery of their dead daughter. They had come into her room to ask if she wanted pancakes or waffles for breakfast, but they hadn’t found her there and they saw that her window was open, figuring she was on the fire escape staircase they looked out and found her body, pretty much blue from the cold and the lack of oxygen.
Kai said what an amazing friend she had been and that she knows Emika will watch down on us as we live our lives. When it was my turn to speak I just said that I loved her and that she was a good person, then sat back down to admire the rest of her funeral. The entire time people were trying to crack jokes and make people laugh, saying that’s how she would have wanted us, happy and not sad. But the jokes only made people cry. Kit and Michael made sure that everything was perfect for their baby girl. I had several people ask me why I looked like I had just come out of a zombie apocalypse, when I responded with a death glare and the “leave me alone. Your only chance.” They usually did leave me alone to mourn the sudden, tragic loss of my beautiful queen. The only girl whomever stole my iron heart. No one made me feel the way she did. She is mine, or rather she was.
As days turns into more days, Emika’s death still rattled the in the newspapers and on talk shows about what we can do to help people who we think are suicidal. None of it really hurt me, I was more just surprised, I thought she had finally gotten used to the way things were with her real mum. She had nothing else going wrong. I guess I can’t really blame her, though, if I had lost my two autistic siblings like she had, I probably wouldn’t haven’t been able to tolerate a life like hers either, with the adoptive parents and school and all. Still, I couldn’t help but wonder if the text I had sent her was the reason why, like she had wanted me instead of Ari, which was weird because even when we were cheating on Kai and Ari she had always said no strings attached. Hey, don’t look at me like that, it was only a one time . . . two time . . . four time thing. I love Kai, and no one else, and of anything, I wish I hadn’t done it. I would walk through fire just to see her face. She’s my girl, not Emika.
I had gone to see Ari the day after the funeral, he wasn’t responding so they called the hospital and the doctors said he was catatonic, so I went home and checked on Kai.
I picked up my phone and scrolled through my contacts, ready to click on Kai’s name and send her a text. Instead I found something really weird. First off, before I tell you anything, let me just check with you. Phones aren’t supposed to, uh, change contact names on their own right? Well, that’s exactly what my phone did, scrolling through my contacts, Kai’s name was changed to MURDERER!! And Emika’s name was changed to, Death Girl. I clicked into Kai’s messages, but everything was as I’d left it, so I clicked into Death Girl, and my phone was spammed with messages that I never got any notifications for. I read through them.
Death Girl: I’m not dead.
Death Girl: I am coming.
Death Girl: YOU. WILL. DIE.
The temperature in the room dropped to at least negative fifteen degrees. Feeling freaked out I changed the names back and deleted Death Girl. I switched into Kai’s contact and sent her a message to calm myself down. It didn’t work. The message didn’t go through. Instead, my phones battery died, even though I had it charged to eighty percent.
The light in my room died so suddenly I almost jumped out of my soul. The window opened slowly and two icy blue and purple hands peeked over the top of the window sill. Slowly, slowly, the hands grew into arms, and then a head raised itself. It had long red hair and dead but beautifully alive blue eyes. A smile stretched across the things face.
Then I got scared. I jumped out of bed and ran down the stairs of my house. My parents were taking a vacation in Bali so they were not coming home any time soon. I could hear frantic cold feet right behind me, slapping against the floor. I screamed and turned around but there was nothing there. A ran to the kitchen and grabbed a knife from the draw.
It looked so much like Emika. What the hell was it?! Being the dumb shit I am I screamed out, “WHO ARE YOU? SHOW YOURSELF! IM HEAVILY ARMED!” the only response I got was cold breath on my neck. Heavy breathing echoed down the stairs. Gleeful laughing sounded of the walls. Little kids running around and then screaming in terror. The ambience of crying and screaming got louder and louder and louder. Then Emika’s voice screamed my name so loud my ears actually bled. A waterfall of what looked and smelt like blood crashed down the stairs and right into my face. I was drowning. The creature (did I mention this thing is NUDE?) swam up to me and muttered something. I couldn’t hear it. I was too busy drowning in blood. The creature grabbed my hand and said, “No strings attached Niko.”
Emika? What the hell was she doing? She’s dead! She’s supposed to be dead, we saw the autopsy reports!
“No! No, you’re dead! You’re dead!” I gurgled incoherently. I realised I had been able to hang onto the knife the whole time. Emiko grabbed my ankle and pulled me through the blood pool. I won’t be able to hold my breath for much longer. I’m going to drown if I don’t do something soon.
Thrashing won’t do any good. Neither will yelling, I’ll just waste my energy, then I’ll die anyway. A light bulb flashed on my mind. I wrenched my foot back randomly, intending to kick her in the face then swim for safety and find a better plan, somewhere where I can breathe. But instead of my master plan working out and me getting to safety, she just wrenched the knife from my hands and said something that sounded like a spell. I tried reaching for her but I couldn’t move my hands. I thrashed, but I did me no good, like I had said before, it wasted my energy and left me unable to do anything as she dragged me away into whatever dark thing was approaching us.
She threw me towards the big black portal-looking thing and I blacked out. I had random dreams of Emiko speaking to a tall black man called Death. She was watching Kai fold her washing in tears. Then she was laughing at the black man in an Italian suit. He said nothing.
Gasping for air I woke up in a completely never ending whit space. Emika was standing in front of a whisky purple board, like a computer in a desk, and just like my dream she was watching Kai in tears, folding up Emika’s clothes out of her bedroom because her parents were too upset to do it themselves. Emile realised I was awake and motioned me over.
“Am I dead?” I asked her, confusing creeping into my voice. I expected her to say no, then wake up from this horrible nightmares with dead friends and blue, lookalike, creepy-ass girls in the nude. But she simply looked over to me and said “yes. You are dead Niko. The girl you saw was my . . . imitation, was it Death?” she motioned over to him to speak and he nodded. Was he not allowed to speak? “Emika, what exactly are you running here? Who is this guy? Why do you call him Death?” O-ookaay, I do this thing where I ramble when I’m confused or scared. And huh you know, I was just told that I was dead.
“Because he is, literally, death. He controls who lives and who dies and, like me, who gets revenge. You could say he’s a God. Because, he is. Niko, I brought you here first because I thought you wouldn’t understand. So I have Death standing by here so, just in case when I explain things to you, you try to run. Death, can you put a change, um . . . over there, far from the desk in front of me. Disarm whatever can be used as a weapon or means of escape.” Death grumbled something under his breath. “What was that?” Emiko asked with as evil sneer spread across her face. “Nothing my . . . “then he grumbled some more. “My . . . ? Come one now, you can say it, go on.”
“My Queen. Nothing my Queen.” He said the word queen like it was her name. I immediately sympathised with him. I bet he was actually a decent pers-god.
“Emika. Elaborate. Now.” I said.
Emiko told me everything. From her mother’s secret meth lab and her abusive step farther, to the details of John’s death and her sibling’s.
“So, you want me to help you, what? Murder my girlfriend because you think your step farther said she help kill your siblings?” hold on, I needed to think rationally. If I pretend to help her, all the way through this mess, I can maybe get Death to turn against her and save my friends as well as Kai. I nodded along as she explained her point of view and tried to sound as genuine as possible. God she w’s so delusional. She thinks if she kills all of our friends that she’ll be able to drive Kai insane and she’ll kill herself to get away from it. It took all my strength not t just strangle her right there, and I’m not sure that Death would want to stop her.
Kai told me that she would wait another week before she killed Kyran, then two weeks before she killed Ari. She explained that she wanted to make Kai hurt, so much more then she had.
“You know, I thought you would be the hardest to persuade, why are you not, uh, you know trying to kill me?” Be careful what you wish for crazy.
“Well, I guess it makes sense.”
“Thanks Niko, thanks.”
Three Months later.
“Think about it,” Ari said from across the table.
“Think about what Ari? Your dream doesn’t mean anything, Niko died three months ago, the autopsy report said it was secondary drowning, not death by resurrected ghost girl that also died a week or two before.” Kai spoke through tears. I coughed to get their attention, “look, Em came to you in a dream, that’s all we know, so why don’t you tell us the whole dream before we go jumping into random theories, okay?” Ari sighed and turned to Kai again, before explaining his dream.
“Okay, I was standing on top of Niko’s staircase in his house, Emika was at the top of his staircase, holding his hand. She said this, “Niko’s is here with me, he accepted his death, I hope you will too. Or, Death here, will help you get over your fear of cages. Love you!” it was the creepiest thing ever.” His worried expression was infectious, first speeding to me then Kai. “What does she mean by Death? She said it like it was someone’s name.” I asked, impatiently waiting for something scary to happen. To my fortune, nothing did. I waited for someone to say something. No one did. Instead, Ari got up and moved to where the Greek myths and books on Greek gods were. He picked out several, handed them to me and picked out several more to hand to Kai. “What do you what us to do with these?” Kai asked sceptically. “I want you to read them. Then I want you to come back and tell me what you think of my insane theories.” He got up, slammed his hands on the desk and said, “good thing Emiko didn’t kill me before I found this out.” With that he walked out of the library that had been listening to the entire conversation. “Uhh, drama assignment, sorry.” They looked away.
When I got home I dumped my bag on the desk and pulled out the Greek books that Ari had given to me at the break.I went up to my room, avoiding my parents. I’ve never really had a normal life. When I was younger my parents tried to give me up, so I bounced around from placement to placement, crying every time I was sent home away from people I grew to love, so eventually I stopped loving. Or generally caring about anything really. I shut off emotionally, and when I had discovered my girlfriend at the time couldn’t handle it anymore, I tried walking onto a road in mid hour traffic. Someone pulled me back and got counselling for the next two years. I turned gay and started self-harming. I still do.
I pulled of my school jacket, revealing my cut up arms. I sat on my bed and pulled a sharp pocket knife from my bag. I slid the knife hard across my arms. Blood ran down my skin, dripping to the brown carpet, filling my nose with the coppery smell. I cover the new cuts with a cloth and started reading the books. The more I read the more I understood what Ari’s theories were about, there were constant stories about people coming back from the dead and taking revenge on the people who knew them the best. Seeing revenge on people who have forsaken them while they were alive. But who would have done that, knowing Emika’s already screwed up past?
I would be lying if I said I did not fall in love with Niko before he died. I was always jealous of Kai, and whenever I saw her with him I had the urge to walk right over and give him a kiss he would never forget. But I held back, and now I’m glad I did, otherwise I think Kai would have just ended it. Reading through the books, I came to realise that Ari’s theory wasn’t . . . completely insane. If I thought about it, Emiko dying and then Niko soon after, it did seem kind of . . . extra. I mean, personally I’m a Christian boy, and so are my parents though they aren’t really supportive of my, uh, gayness . . .? Pulling some random clothes out of my closet, I changed out of my uniform, careful to avoid spreading blood everywhere.
A knock on my door sounded. I shoved on a jumper and opened it. “Hey Kyran, you had time to read my books yet?” taking the jumper of I invited Ari in. He was the closest person to me, he was the first person I ever told about my cuts and he seems like the only person in the whole world to understand. In truth, he’s the one I’ve been crushing on since I was fourteen, not Niko. I mean, don’t get me wrong, Niko is . . . was, was hot as all hell, but I’m not really into the hot guys, I’m into the, I don’t know, creative, cute and funny guy’s and Niko was more like tall dark and handsome, totally Kai’s type of guy. Ari is always there when I need him, he’s easy to talk to and makes me feel instantly better when he’s around. Niko was hard to talk to, and never seemed to get my point of view on subatomic partial enhancement and theoretical physics. Oh yeah, I’m a nerd.