Jess opened her eyes only to be blinded by the light. Her surroundings were perfectly white, making the reflection of the light that much brighter. Sure that she was dead and in Heaven, Jess closed her eyes.
“Well, at least I am not in Hell,” she thought amusingly. “Wait, what if-” She sat up straight, worried that she only knew Heaven and Hell from movies. The reality might be very different.
Some voices were trying to break through to her, but it felt as if they were miles away, and Jess could not make out any of the words. Slowly, she looked to her left and jumped, startled. A man was sitting in an armchair right next to her. His lips were moving, and his arm was extended towards her.
Jess moved back to avoid the touch, scooping her legs under her chin. She must have gotten caught.
“But how? It seemed as if the hotel was safe…” Jess tried to think, but her thoughts were too scattered to form a real conclusion.
From the corner of her left eye, she saw a woman approach her. The female held up a syringe.
“No, no, NO!” Jess screamed and tried to jump off the bed, but the guard rails in place foiled that plan.
“Ma’am, please calm down. You’re safe now,” the woman in grey scrubs said, still with a syringe in hand.
Jess could not take her eyes off of that syringe. Her brain supplied her with a couple of possible solutions that could be in it. Sedative. Nerve agent. Out of these two, Jess hoped it was the first. But then, why would they want to have her sleep again?
She patted her stomach and lower back to see if she would feel any pain – a sign of stolen organs. Nothing. But she was wearing something different than what she was used to – a hospital gown.
“Where am I?” Jess asked the female.
“You’re in a hospital. You’ll be alright. Do you need any pain medication?” the nurse asked as she pointed at the syringe.
“Hospital? No. I’m alright. I don’t need that,” Jess replied and vigorously shook her head.
“Alright. The doctor says you’re a little shook up, but you will be OK. This gentleman here is with the Police. We called him after you woke up earlier and said your friend had been killed,” the nurse gestured towards the man sitting next to the bed.
“Did something happen to your friend?” he asked and scooted a little closer to the bed.
The image of Amanda’s arm invaded Jess’ mind, and no matter how hard she tried, she could not push it away.
“How did I get here?” Jess asked, looking around the sterile white room.
Apparently, the hotel staff had discovered her when they were mopping up the muddy footprints that led to her hotel room.
“Tell me about your friend,” the officer urged.
“Amanda was terrible company…” An image of a cat’s face – Amanda’s tattoo appeared in front of Jess’ eyes, and she burst into tears. How could she had been so calloused? Amanda was going through a rough time and all Jess wanted was all of the attention focused on her instead. What a terrible friend she had been. And now she could not even apologize.
“Anyway, you don’t need to know all that drama. I’ll just tell you what happened at the hotel,” Jess said and swallowed hard, not wanting to recall the terrifying events. “I mean, outside of it,” she corrected and nodded slightly.
The police officer lifted his head from above his notebook.
“It seems that all of the bad things happen outside of the hotel. I know it sounds silly, but that’s what I had observed.”
The man went back to writing without saying anything in return.
“Once I dropped off my bags in the room, I went back to the front desk to ask for Mr. McGregor. He was in charge of the “Vacation for selfies” campaign. McGregor. Write that down. I can show you his Instagram account once I get back to my room and grab my phone. He might be a part of the ring.” Jess looked at the police officer, but he just kept on writing.
She then told him how she was led to a “presentation room” that was on the edge of the beach, about half a mile away from the hotel. She was told that her expenses would be covered as long as she posted selfies on hotel grounds a couple of times a day for a week. They were to meet at the end of that week and discuss any potential for future partnership. Jess was so happy. A free vacation? Who would not want that?
Mr. McGregor asked her to go back to the hotel on her own because he had another meeting a few minutes later with another potential star. But he already knew that Jess was “the one.” It made her even more sure that the future was going to be bright.
Jess followed the path until she came to a fork. She did not remember that from her way down. She frowned. The trees were too tall to see over them. Not wanting to get lost, she decided to go back to the presentation room to ask Mr. McGregor for help, but before she could turn around, she felt a searing pain in her shin. There was a hunting trap wrapped around her leg. She tried to open the trap with her fingers, but was unsuccessful. She then dropped to the ground to try and crawl.
“Stay still,” she heard from behind.
Before she could turn to look at whoever was behind her, she was pinned to the ground and blindfolded. A bag was pulled over her head for additional protection and she was carried off somewhere. She must have passed out because she woke up somewhere where it was cold and there was no light and inhumane noises pierced her ears. Jess’ leg was free but the pain was still there. She sat there for a while, waiting for assailants to return, but they never did. So she got up and tried to walk. She quickly learned that she could not put any pressure on her injured leg.
Slowly, she made her way away from that place and closer to the hotel. The path appeared familiar. When she could see the hotel, she heard the same howling noises as she did in the cellar and she froze for a moment. The noises got closer and Jess ran. Or as much as she could with one leg mangled.
She also told the officer about how she discovered Amanda’s arm on the patio.
The nurse came by and informed Jess that she might have to stay overnight for observation, and they would make further decisions in the morning. Jess wanted to go home, but she still had no idea what had happened to her or Amanda. At least in the hospital she felt safe. Maybe the cop would return the next day and explain everything to her. THEN, she could go home and try to rebuild her life.
Jess was deep in thought, with her eyes closed when she felt someone enter her room. Her eyes darted open. Amanda. Jess gasped and sat up straight. It could not be.
“But you’re-” she said with a shaky voice.
“Torn to pieces?”
Amanda slowly made her way towards Jess’ bed.
Jess’ heart raced.
“Yes. I was all that.”
“Dead and torn to pieces after the love of my life left me,” Amanda explained as she sat down in the same chair as the police offer did just a few hours earlier.
“But…” Jess began and reached out for Amanda’s hands. She tried to recall if the nurse gave her any medication that might have made her hallucinate, but nothing came to mind.
Amanda pulled her hands back and smiled. “No. This is not how this will go. I’m tired of catering to you. Now, we’re going to do what I want.”
A shiver ran down Jess’ spine. There was something in Amanda’s gaze. She could not explain it, but she knew it was nothing good.
“You know why he left me?” Amanda asked and titled her head to the right.
Jess did not reply. She remembered Amanda telling her he had fallen out of love with her, but she did not want to anger her friend. Definitely not with that glint in her eyes.
“He told me he didn’t love me anymore. And do you know what?” Amanda asked and leaned in towards Jess.
No reply. Jess was clueless but also worried.
“It was because he fell in love with someone else… With someone else very close to me. With my BEST FRIEND!” Amanda stood up and then sat on the edge of the bed.
“He fell in love with YOU! Now, I wondered why that was. The answer was easy, but I didn’t want to hear it – you enticed him. Always so nice to him. Always defending him…”
“What? NO! I never liked him, but I was courteous to him FOR YOU,” Jess replied, and a tear ran down her cheek.
“I thought we were best friends and that nothing could come between us. Especially not a man… A man whom I LOVED!” Amanda moved in closer to Jess.
“Revenge was the only option for me. I knew you wouldn’t leave me be. You had to pay the price,” Amanda said and took Jess’ hands into hers. “I arranged it all,” she added and smiled.
“But… you… your arm…” Jess tried to put the puzzle pieces together.
“Yes, the blood and the arm looked very real,” Amanda chuckled and brought Jess’ hands to her neck.
The night nurse came in to inform Amanda that the visitation hours were over.
“I thought death was the best option. But now, I know that it would be too easy,” Amanda whispered into Jess’ ear before leaving.
She stopped at the door, turned around, and winked at Jess. “Good night,” she whispered and left the room.
Once Amanda exited the psych ward, she could not help but beam with joy. “She shouldn’t be a problem for a while. Time to get my man back!”
“Write a story inspired by the word ‘exotic.'”
– prompt used for this CW piece.
P.S. As always, you are more than welcome to use this prompt to inspire your post. If you decide to write something, be sure to pingback to this post so that I can get an alert and check out your piece. (A post on how to do pingbacks can be found here.) If pingbacks are not your thing, feel free to simply leave a link to your piece in the comment section below. The more, the merrier!
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