The weather was postcard perfect.The soft breeze, carried by the North Pacific, trifled with trees, as if it was a naïve, curious child and they its toys. It gently caressed the skin, coated it in salt. It tousled the hair, it blew errant swarms of leaves, it whipped over the waves and it bore the scent of the briny deep.
And down, down below, you could see white foam spray, the side effect of waves pounding the beach. The pure, immaculate, pearly beach, cut off from the rest of the world by towering cliffs.
Yes, the cemetery offered a beautiful vista, but Chloe’s sunken eyes were glued to only one thing.
Here lies William Price, July 22, 1965-June 12, 2008. “The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen, nor touched, but are felt in the heart.“
She was enveloped in absolute blackness, her cries for help quelled by the deafening downpour. Each attempt to kick open the trunk door only impaired her senses, lowered her energy. She struggled to keep calm in the stifling, heavy air…
The missing girl of Arcadia Bay lit her wristwatch. The bright, crimson glare blinded her. Whilst trying to glimpse the digits with teary eyes, the car jumped and she hit her head.
Rachel Amber was terrified.
The watch was showing 1:05 a.m. She could hardly move her handcuffed hands as she tried reaching the back pocket of her jeans. The phone wasn’t there.
Of course, stupid.
She noticed she wasn’t wearing any shoes. Her bare feet were freezing.
Rachel found it painful to concentrate. She was wandering in her thoughts, vainly trying to think straight and conceive her situation. She could seldom overhear a conversation between two voices. Voices that belong to men. Voices, I think I recognize. She was unable to give them names, though.
“When things go south, think of all the good things that happened to you in life. That ought to lighten you up, sweetie. ” Her mother’s lesson echoed in her subconscious.
Never had she followed her advice as much as now.
Then brakes squeaked and she heard the car come to a halt.
Nathan Prescott and Mark Jefferson got out of the black sedan and proceeded to the back trunk. Nathan, eagerly anticipating what was to come, opened it, casting a shadow on the girl. The teenager’s face was flaming from crying. The night seemed like the sunniest of days to her now. Her begging eyes bore into him to seek compassion, to pierce his soul. She wished to see the maze of cog wheels that operated his brain. Were they rough and haywire like the ones of a madman, or rusty from tears like hers?
“I’ll get her out, you open the gate.” Jefferson instructed his protégé. The aged barn was still proudly standing, symbolizing the rich legacy of the Prescott family. Nathan unlocked the gate, and, after Mark forcibly took Rachel out, concealed the car behind some thick bushes near the Barn. There wasn’t enough space to park inside.
The interior was dim and the ubiquitous dust particles were highlighted by moonlight leaking through the roof.
Before they could reach the hatch, Jefferson’s cussing penetrated the silence as Rachel fell from his grasp. Her unconscious body luckily landed on straw, attenuating her fall.
His anger swapped places with shock.
Her skin was ice-cold and soaked in sweat. He nervously checked her pulse.
Nathan was startled by Mark’s sudden change of behavior.
“You stupid idiot, you ODed her!”
“Oh fuck! What do I do?” Nathan’s heart started pounding, like it wanted to tear open his chest and leap out.
“Do you have Narcan?”
“Get in the fucking basement and look for Narcan!”
Nathan raced into their secret liar. He rushed to the stands brimming with medical supplies and pharmaceuticals, his eyes desperately hunting for Narcan.
“It might be labeled as Naloxone! Hurry the fuck up, Nathan!”
Rage churned inside Jefferson. This is not how any of them envisioned it. The Prescott boy was becoming agitated, shattering more and more vials along the way. The teacher’s swearing could be overheard in the sterile vault. Hardly five minutes have gone by, yet it seemed like eons to him. After a while, Mark came downstairs himself, utterly irritated by the boy’s incompetence.
“What the hell is taking you so long?” Not expecting an answer, his tutor plunged himself into the rummaging as well. It soon had the look of a place that had been burgled. From the corner of his eye Nathan watched his teacher set about the task with thoroughness and composure, systematically sorting through the shelves. Yes, he was angry, but calm, focused. That was one of the many things Nate admired about him.
Nonetheless, anxiety hung in the air and it didn’t take long for them to realize they were merely delaying the inevitable.
They gave up.
He just sat on the cold ground and cowered in the corner, observing his mentor who paced around.
“Fucking bullshit. Didn’t I tell you to get it? Didn’t I?” He wasn’t expecting an answer. The boy was petrified, sobbing in the corner. A horrifying image of the future unfolded before his eyes. It’s over. He’s a failure. They’d lock him up and he’d lose it all. He thirsted for a way out of all that hell.
“What do we do?”
“What’s that? I’m having a little trouble hearing you through your blubbering.”
Nathan tried to man up.
“What do we do?” He asked again.
“What do you think?! She’s not gonna make it. We burry her, but later.”
Nathan regarded him with attention, perplexed.
“And I’m not leaving this fruitless. I’m taking my pictures and you’re helping me, young boy.”
At 2:35 a.m., the charcoal sedan left the estate. Mark was driving; the trunk was loaded with Rachel’s dead body. His anger was receding, and he took his time to tutor his pupil.
“You gotta take the shot, Nate. Always take the shot. It’s essential to find inspiration in the tiniest, rarest, most unusual details of the world. Only then you can break into the world of photography, and become recognized for who you truly are.”
A flashlight beam powered into the night, guiding its holder. Shadows crawled on and stroked the trail ahead. They mirrored the convoluted branches which speared through the sky.
The light soon led the man to a small but steep hill. The man couldn’t sleep, like always. Insomnia was his loyal companion, never leaving his side. He’d never trade it for sleeping pills.
He was keenly looking for nests among the branches, or holes that lined in the pocket-marked forest floor, searching for the humble homes of squirrels.
Instead he encountered a doe.
The innocent creature was standing warily, gazing into the distance, basking in the moonlight. Where’s it looking? Curiosity compelled the stranger to walk higher, scaring it off, much to his regret. He looked where its eyes pointed. He spotted a figure, cloaked in darkness, holding a flashlight, just like him, and shoveling dirt.
It was Nathan, his camera laid on the top of nearby wreckage, still occupying the same spot from which he took his own picture with the lifeless girl.
Always take the shot.
He had to take a break from the digging, and that’s when he saw it. A shadowy figure between the trees. And the face. It had a striking familiarity to it. He rubbed his eyes in confusion and looked again. The figure was gone. Certainly, he’s imagining stuff. Because of all of this mess.
The peculiar janitor always gave him the creeps, though.
Oh, how she hated it.
She hated how people looked at her.
She hated how she felt when putting up the posters. Increasingly hopeless, she named it.
She hated waking up, going to sleep, talking, breathing, living. All without Rachel.
Each and every one of her cells existed purely for hatred. Rancor, revulsion, animosity, yes, she delved into the dictionary at home. People experience it too often and feel the need to give it many names.
Chloe sensed a hand on her back. The lilac odor of her perfume gave Joyce away.
“How ironic it is, saying goodbyes to people that are long gone.” The azure haired teen whispered. Her mother responded only with a warm hug.
With quivering lips, trembling hands and eyes forlorn of all joy which they’d once overflow with, she added:
“I don’t want to say goodbye to Rachel.”