The sound of light humming and drops of water hitting the marble floor could be heard from the shower. It was a cold morning for July, but he insisted on taking a cold shower to awaken his sleepy, raw nerves. His body was still sore from last night's trip. He had had a little quarrel with his friends before they parted. It had been all intense until someone decided to break them apart and play tag. He knew it was silly; yet he didn't decline the wonderful offer. His legs still felt stiff from too much running; but the pain was worth it. It had been fun.
Reaching for the faucet, he turned the shower off and stepped out, his feet landing on a soft blue rug. He stood there for a few seconds, the excess water rapidly running down his body in rivulets. The water had helped on relieving some of the pain; but it was still there. He figured his body hadn't fully recovered yet from all the blows that it had received.
After grounding himself, he padded to the sink and stood in front of it, his hand instinctively grabbing the white towel that was sitting folded neatly on top of the counter. The mirror before him showed the reflection of a young man around seventeen years of age. He was lean. He had a few scratches on his chest — the ones he had gotten from the fight last night. His long black hair stuck to his skull like wet paper. His dark sunken eyes accompanied by dark circles under them gave him an almost unhealthy appearance.
It couldn't be helped. All he could do was receive his friends' attack. Hurting them was the last thing he wanted. He was somehow thankful he was in good terms with them again. He didn't want to lose his friends. They're the only ones who could understand him. Aside from his family, of course.
Swiftly, he wrapped the towel around his waist and then headed to his room. The place was a total mess. Clothes were strewn across the floor. The bed sheets were tossed and were laid on the bed in a lump. It was like a storm had passed by his room and left it in such a chaotic state.
It wasn't like July. He, himself, was surprised at how messy his room was. He was sure he had left it in order before he took a shower. He had folded his clothes neatly as well as his bed sheets. He had even vacuumed the floor.
July scratched the back of his head. It was strange. His sister must have come in while he was inside the shower. What was she was looking for in his room, he had no idea. He would have to ask her about it. But first, he had to clean the mess.
He didn't waste any more time and threw on some clothes. He did a quick brush of his hair and then started to clean up his mess of a room. It didn't take him that long to finish putting everything back in place. The sheets were straightened. The clothes were stacked neatly on a chair. Everything was in order. Proud of his work, he strolled out of his room and ended up in front of his sister's door.
July knocked on the pink door. "Adelyn. Are you in there? Open up. I need to talk to you."
There was no answer.
He knocked once again; but still, there was no response. He tried on the knob and was a little surprised to find that it wasn't locked. Usually Adelyn wouldn't forget to keep the door to her room locked. She didn't like anyone invading her territory.
Turning the knob, he pushed the door open and gingerly stepped inside. The room had a typical adolescent girl's pink walls and plushes sitting on top of shelves. Completely letting himself in, he found Adelyn in her Barbie pajamas, lying in her pink bed with pony plushes snuggling close to both sides of her head. She was sleeping and she had never looked so peaceful.
A smile crept on July's face as he stared at his sister. She still had make up on. She must have forgotten to wash it off. The lipstick had already spread itself on her face, making her look like she was a zombie from a horror movie. Nevertheless, it appeared as though the little brunette hadn't gotten up from her bed, so he decided it was not a good thing to disrupt Adelyn's sleep. The little princess deserved all the rest that she needed.
Carefully, he made his way out of the room and locked the door behind him. That's when he heard a voice from downstairs. It was like someone had squealed. It didn't sound like his mother. Thinking that it was a visitor whom had been assaulted by rats, he hurried downstairs to find out who it was; but to his dismay, a sickening sight welcomed him. His heart stopped. His throat dried up. His whole body was deemed paralyzed.
It wasn't real. He was imagining it. It couldn't be.
A woman about the same age as his mother was kneeling next to his mother's motionless body on the floor, crimson red liquid pooling around her. There was a knife buried in the middle of her chest as if it was a symbol of victory. The woman, whose hair was a fading red, looked up. Her eyes widened in shock, her mien mirroring the look on July's ashen countenance. Horror registered on her face as soon as she realized that he had caught her red-handed.
"What did—" July was about to ask but was interrupted when the woman stood up in a haste and scampered out of the house, almost falling in the process.
There had been a burglary. That woman was the one who had entered his room and had tried to find something worth stealing. His mother must have seen her and tried to attack. But seeing the end result, it was apparent that his mother had failed.
"Mom!" July ran to his mother's side. Her eyes were wide open, signifying a rather not peaceful death. With trembling hands, he attempted to check her pulse; but it was no use. There was a red line running across her neck, leaving the flesh of her throat exposed. Her jugular had been severely sliced.
Everything about his mother was painted red.
July's eyes oscillated from the knife buried in her chest to his mother's mortified visage, his eyes gradually welling up with tears. The pace of his breath picked up, each inhale of air becoming more shallow than the former. His chest felt heavy. It felt like poison was spreading throughout his system.
That woman. Who was that woman? He had seen her somewhere before. But where?
July reached his hand out and gently closed his mother's eyes. Getting up on his feet, he ran for the nearest telephone he could find inside the house. His frail, shaking fingers immediately tapped on the emergency numbers only to be disappointed when he heard no dial tone. He gaped at the receiver while his eyes trailed the cable wire where it ended hanging loosely over the edge of the table. His chest felt heavier now. It was a maddening sensation.
Gritting his teeth, he whipped his head to the direction of the sofa. His father was sitting there, his head hanging low while watching the morning news on the TV.
Had he been asleep the entire time? Didn't he know that his wife was dead?
July approached his careless father and planted himself in front of the TV, blocking the view while a female anchor went on her report about a crazed person who recently escaped from an asylum.
"Did you hear that, Dad?" he screamed at his father, his own rage deafening him. "That person just entered our house and killed Mother! Why didn't you do anything?"
There was no any reaction or movement.
Just then, a bunch of people in uniforms burst through the door, holding up their guns. The cops had arrived. July couldn't be any more happy. He had to give them credit for their immediate action.
One of the officers stepped forward, his gun pointed at July. "Don't move. Hands up!"
July froze, confusion clouding his already wretched mind. What? What were they doing? Did they think he had done this?
"Dad, what's the meaning of this?" he asked, kneeling in front of his unmoving father. His father still didn't look up.
"I said don't move or we will have to shoot you!" the officer shouted.
A few more people arrived; and to July's joy, he recognized them as his friends. They had come for him. They would help on convincing those bunch of idiots that it wasn't his doing. Who's crazy enough to murder his own family anyway, right?
July stood up to greet his friends and to show them his gratitude. Meanwhile, his friends shoved past the cops and walked up to him; but instead of giving him an affectionate gesture, they grabbed a hold of his arms and held him in place as one of them pulled a loaded syringe out of his pocket and gave July a shot. He tried to fight them, but he felt weak. So weak.
"What are you doing? I didn't do anything," he spoke in alarm, sounding as though he was about to break down. "I'm the victim here."
His friends made no response. They dragged him out of the house while his consciousness slowly slipped away. Their faces were stoic. It's as if they didn't know him. Looking around him, he saw the woman from earlier standing there at the corner, watching him with that fake terror on her face. He wanted to jump on her and rip her eyes out of her skull with his bare hands and feed her innards to their neighbor's dogs. Try so hard he did, but it was futile. He had no strength in his entire body. He's like a complete doll, powerless and numb.
July threw his head back in a laughter. How could they believe that lunatic of a woman over him? They're making an innocent person suffer without concrete reason. What a pain.
As soon as his laugh subsided, he looked to his side, smiling at his friend clad in a white coat. "What will happen to my family now, Doctor?" he asked weakly.
His friend returned the look. "What do they do to dead people?"
"But I didn't kill them."
"I didn't say you did, little Jule." His friend gave him a sympathetic look. "But we couldn't let any of this happen again. This time, we'll lock you up in the padded room for good. No more running away."
He frowned. He guessed his friends hadn't completely forgiven him yet.