Annabel tossed and turned in her sleep. She dreamed. Her dream began with Josh, and he told her that he would love her forever. Her dream ended with Marko, always smiling. She woke with a start. She was back in Josh’s (Her?) apartment, in bed.
She frowned, how had she gotten here? The last thing she remembered was passing out at the Boardwalk after she saw…Josh. What she had seen couldn’t have been real. Was she seeing things because of stress? The way Josh had appeared and disappeared…not human.
And he had been transparent. Her heart raced, ghost? No, she was ‘under a lot of stress’, as Marko had put it, and had been imagining things. Getting out of bed, she took a long, hot, shower. Unable to eat anything, she called the police again, who said they were already ‘working on it’. Annabel grew extremely tired and fell asleep.
She didn’t know how long she had slept, but she awoke to a knock on the apartment door. Rubbing her eyes, she stood and went over to the door. When she saw the two police officers, her heart began to race.
“Are you Miss Annabel Storm?” the taller one asked.
Not trusting her voice, she nodded instead.
“You filed a missing persons report for Josh Falhart?” the other one inquired.
Annabel nodded again, throat tight.
“Earlier this evening…” the first officer glanced at his partner before continuing, “His body was found.”
Annabel gasped, tears springing to her eyes. “No,” she managed to say, “Th-there must be must be some mistake.”
The officers shared worried looks.
“NO!” Annabel repeated, forcefully this time, it couldn’t be true! All of a sudden, she wanted, needed, to get away.
Tears streaming down her face, she pushed past the two officers and ran down the hall. Dimly, she heard the officers calling after her, but she didn’t want to hear them. As soon as the elevator doors opened again, she was once more running. She didn’t care where she was going; she just wanted to get away. When she finally could not run anymore, and her tears did not flow, she stopped to see where she was.
Trembling from exhaustion, and from running, she realized she near the Boardwalk. Feeling alone, she collapsed on a bench and closed her eyes. She needed someone to talk to, but she didn’t know anyone in Santa Carla… When she felt good enough to head to…her apartment, she took a deep breath and opened her eyes. She had that uneasy feeling that she always got after crying, but she tried to ignore it. She got up and slowly made her way across the crowded Boardwalk.
Out of nowhere, Marko appeared beside her.
Annabel flinched slightly at his sudden appearance.
“Find your boyfriend?” Marko asked.
Annabel stopped walking and stared down at the ground as she fought back the tears that threatened to fall. “He’s…dead,” she said at last, her vision blurred with unshed tears. The rest of the night itself was also a blur.
She remembered telling Marko what had been happening lately, starting with Josh’s disappearance. She even told him about seeing Josh in the crowd the previous night. He listened quietly the whole time she talked, it was nice to have someone to talk to who was a good listener.
She remembered Marko offering to give her a ride back to her place and that she accepted. At the apartment, Annabel had asked him if he would stay with her, that she didn’t want to be alone all night. She no longer felt nervous around him, even though she had only known him a few days. She was tired after all that had happened that night and the previous one and she fell asleep in his arms, a deep, peaceful sleep.
Several hours later, when Annabel stirred from her sleep, it took her a few moments to remember she was with Marko. Carefully, so as not to wake him, she raised her head to look at him. He was still asleep, and he looked so peaceful that she had to smile as she laid her head on his shoulder and drifter to sleep again. She felt safe, and that was a good feeling.
The sun rose on Santa Carla. You were safe from sun up, til sun down, but at night, the evil emerged. And Annabel, unaware, had already seen that evil. The dark haired girl awoke to the chirping of birds. Before she even opened her eyes, she could tell that she was alone.
“Marko?” she called, looking around the room. There was no reply.
“Marko?” she called again, standing. Had he left without even telling her?
“What is going on in this town,” she muttered under her breath. Thinking, she did find it a little odd that she never saw Marko during the day. Not once, now that she thought about it.
She also had a feeling that something strange was going on in Santa Carla. Some connection with its nickname, ‘The Murder Capital of The World’. All she knew was that whatever it was was responsible for Josh’s death. Josh’s parents must be really upset. Realizing something, Annabel wondered why her own parents hadn’t called, they had the apartment number.
She reached for the phone to call her parents, then stopped. No. If she talked to them about Josh’s death and everything that had been happening, they would want her to come home, and she was not going to leave Santa Carla until she got to the bottom of this mystery.