The same group of rowdy teenagers that had always been the best of friends gathered once more for their annual campfire. This was a tradition amongst their group, and this year was no exception. 8 rambunctious teens sat around the crackling fire pit, giggling as they shoved white puffy marshmallows onto their sticks. Taylor and Josh were cuddling under the same plaid blanket, to Margot’s dismay, and Eddie flung a flaming ball of charred, gooey sugar over his shoulder, narrowly missing Victoria’s ear. They all laughed at Victoria’s over-acted protest to being assaulted by sticky treats, enjoying the cool fall night.
    As the sugary buzz started wearing off and the evening began to wind down, Harlow stood across from her 7 best friends with a devilish look in her dark brown eyes. “I propose a story.” She said in a low tone, barely more than an evil whisper in the moonlight.
    “What kind of story?” Margot asked brightly, ever ready for a change of subject from her staring at what had recently been known as “Jaylor.”
    “A scary story.” Harlow replied cooly, flipping her long brown hair over her shoulder, exposing a pale shoulder to the moon. The four boys let out an excited yell and the girls looked a little reluctant to the frightening tale they were about to hear. They all knew that of the 8 in the group, Harlow had always had the creepiest and oftentimes most inventive mind, especially when it came to halloween and telling stories. None of them found it easy to sleep after last year’s story, it had involved a psychotic doctor going on a very gruesome killing spree in the hospital and the cutting open of many a torso. Though Peter didn’t like to admit it, he still had the occasional nightmare about it.     So they all settled in to hear what Harlow had to say. She cleared her throat and began her story.
    “Her name was Amelia.”

    Amelia was a very bright kid. She always got the best grades and knew every answer in class. She never wore the most fashionable of clothes and she wasn’t very pretty, especially when she was compared to the populars. She hated the populars and everything they stood for. Amelia had an online blog that she designed herself where she could talk about her day and all of her little thoughts. She often referred to the populars as the soulless socialites, the ones who rose to the top of the food chain for no apparent reason other than that they were beautiful. And they were. They were flawless, perfect, impeccable consumers of the human flesh they walked upon as they strutted down the halls of their high school. Amelia hated them for that.
    Specifically, she hated five of them. There were over a dozen populars, but these five people were the worst of all. The head cheerleader. The quarterback. The actresses. The beast. Each had very different qualities that were equally disgusting and, in Amelia’s eyes, equally infuriating. They belonged to the same clique and they all shared one thought about a certain mousy brunette: They all hated Amelia. And they liked to be very, very vocal about their opinions.

    The most painfully devastating day of Amelia June Thorton’s life began tardily. She was running late for gym class, which was quite unusual for someone as proper as Amelia always was (punctuality was a very, very important trait for her to maintain), so she was uneasy as she slid into the overheated gymnasium. She flushed an embarrassing shade of red and muttered her apologies to the coach, much to the enjoyment of the snooty popular kids who, by some crafty scheduling adjustments, ended up all being in her class. Great.
    The class was no more miserable than usual, and Amelia was grateful when the bell dismissed them. The girls filed into their locker room and rushed to find the best showers. Today, Amelia was lucky enough to get one with heated water. Little did she know, head cheerleader Piper was busy lurking just outside of her curtain. Piper picked up each article of Amelia’s clothing cautiously, careful to not rustle loudly enough to alert Amelia to her plans. Piper signaled to Lola to put down her script and come hold open the big bag for her. Lola complied with a heavy sigh, she was riveted by her script and any pause was like asking her to stop breathing. An uncaring Piper stuffed Amelia’s clothes into the bag and pulled out a piece of black cotton cloth, placing it where the pile once was. The devilish duo then left quickly just as the water from behind the curtain shut off.
    Amelia was horrified. She wrapped her towel tightly around her body, clutching it desperately as she looked frantically for her clothes. All she found was this dress. Amelia looked at her watch and debated for a moment whether the rest of the day was worth the humiliation, but she knew that she couldn’t possibly skip school. She slipped the raven colored cotton over her pale frame, gathered her books, and went to her next class with a depressed grimace hanging over her face.
    The hallway was no longer just a long corridor paneled with rows of metal lockers and tiled with bland porcelain. No, it was a stage. And Amelia had stage fright. Everywhere she looked she saw dozens of faces that seemed to enjoy each decadent morsel of her unbridled embarrassment. And through these faces, she saw the faces of the populars who looked sickeningly pleased. Amelia sank lower within herself, praying for the floor to open up and swallow her whole like some sort of monster that would be bigger than this glitter covered dress that read “I’m a whore,” and “Dumb Skank,” and “Loser.”
    Piper walked over to Amelia, looking into her tear-filled eyes with an icy smirk. “Oh, Amelia. You know, you don’t need to wear dresses like that to tell people everything they already know. What happened to your clothes? Oh, wait. I forgot.” Piper pulled the long black bag from behind her back, zipping it open as she raised it over Amelia’s head. A stream of dark brown liquid flowed from the bag into Amelia’s bright blonde curls, followed by her soggy clothes, saturated with the foul substance. “It’s just a little reminder of what a dirty slut you are. The world would be a better place without people like you clouding up my day. Remember that.” Piper turned on her shiny Jimmy Choo heel and strutted away from the damp, destroyed mess she left in the middle of the hallway.
    Amelia ran from the school building to her car, her brand new Lexus that her mother had gotten her for her 16th birthday last month. What she found was a disaster. Not a single surface of the once brilliant blue paint wasn’t covered in dried egg yolk and pieces of shredded toilet paper. On the back there was a little note. “From your best friends: Piper, Zeke, Lola, Jenna and Logan.”
    Of course they were all in on it. Amelia thought, Zeke, Piper’s perfect boyfriend. Quarterback, no less. He’s her freaking puppet, of course he would do whatever she said. Jenna, the equally ridiculous robot in Piper’s empire. She was practically the same person as Lola, they read the same scripts and auditioned for the same parts and, of course, kissed the same ass. Piper’s ass. And Logan? The school bully? He didn’t even know me, he just likes to watch people suffer. He once put Billy Hartwick in a port-o-potty and pushed it over, and that kid’s in a wheelchair. They were all in on it. Amelia’s mind whirred. She broke through the disgusting mush on her door and wrenched the car in gear before speeding off to cry in the comfort of her own room.
    Something in her changed that night. When Amelia went to bed, she was a broken, crying mess. When she woke up, she was a composed and resolved machine. She put on her clothes and left with her head held high, perhaps even a little smile on her full lips. For some reason, nothing about yesterday mattered because she was completely certain in her next move. As if it were chess and she had her pieces right where she needed them. Check.
    She went to find Zeke first, and she needed to talk to him when Piper couldn’t touch her. So she talked to him in math class, Piper wasn’t smart enough for Pre-Calculous. Amelia sat behind him and he took no notice of her. Pulling together all of the courage she could gather, Amelia ripped a piece of looseleaf out of her notebook. She scrawled a note and carefully folded it before passing it to him. He grabbed it apprehensively and unraveled it. It read:

    “Dear Zeke,
    I know that you don’t know me very well at all and that you think that I’m crazy for even writing this, but it’s necessary. I need to talk to you when she’s not listening. I know that you’re decent enough to not share this with her and that you’ll meet me at 10:00 PM here at the school. Please, don’t tell her. I need this.


    Zeke just stared at the message, reading it over and over. Never in his 17 years of life had he been more confused, yet more intrigued. He folded the note and stuck it in his pocket, not replying to her. He still had to decide what the hell it meant.
    There had never been a longer day in Amelia’s life than waiting for 10:00 to roll around. She sat on the cold, unforgiving bleachers by the football field, waiting for the boy to decide if he would be honorable. She knew he hadn’t told Piper because Piper hadn’t spoken to her all day. Amelia thought that this was a good sign, it showed that maybe Zeke was honorable. However, Amelia knew better than to think that this boy was any better than his girlfriend because she was very aware of his completely unforgivable behavior. And, as Newton had taught her, every action has an equal and opposite reaction. So she waited.
    When Zeke showed up, it was five minutes after ten. Amelia just smiled as she saw him step up the frosty metal bleachers, advancing towards her uneasily. “What do you want?” He called. She smiled wider and she took several steps towards him. They met at the middle of the stands, Amelia standing one step above him which made her eye level.
    “Oh, Zeke. Don’t you know? I thought Piper would have told you. No? I guess I’ll explain, then.” She breathed, “I hate to tell you this way. But, I’ve always admired your grace.” She then put her hands on his muscular chest and gave a great shove, he fell backwards, his face flashing from shock to fear in an instant as he tumbled downwards, hitting each step. At the bottom he landed in a bloody, unconscious heap. Amelia smiled and said to herself “I stand corrected- that wasn’t graceful at all. Pity.”
    She bound his limp wrists together with the same silver duct tape she used to cover his broad mouth and his ankles. She then got to work on unearthing a large hole in the vast football field. Amelia had thought that his placement would be ironic, the star quarterback of the team being buried under his legacy. After taking nearly an hour to make what was an incredibly shallow grave, it was complete. She dragged his body into the hole and began refilling it. She couldn’t help but smile as she put the last of the loose dirt over his body, finalizing it with a pat of the shovel. Realizing her small gloating over him, she stopped herself at once. Narcissism didn’t become her.
    Amelia went to school the next day with shockingly no despair over her night’s misdeeds. Zeke didn’t make it to math the next day, and she found it quite easy to continue her learning without him. It was as if he never existed to her, which was quite alright. He never really existed in her world anyways.
    Next, she decided, she would have to speak with Logan. He was never a nice person to anyone. His deplorable actions had to be punished, and she had just the right ideas. Amelia went to him during lunch that day, when she approached him he was just finishing taking Oliver Poole’s lunch money. Oliver cowered beneath his mighty fists and quickly surrendered his crisp $5 bill. Amelia felt pity for the poor boy and a greater pull towards her next act. She smiled as she spoke to the beast. “Oh, Logan. Can I talk to you for a minute?”
    Logan believed her. He truly thought she held some kind of undeniable attraction toward him that could be silenced no longer. He was under the impression that at 6:00 that evening, he would be quenching her lustful thirst for him that she had repressed for many painful years. Idiot.
    Amelia had decided that since Logan’s main export was humiliation and superiority, she wanted him to experience submission and helplessness. She spent her afternoon creating an elaborate trap inspired by what she’d seen used to capture bears when she had went hunting with her father so many summers before. How fitting, a bear trap. So, when Logan arrived at the vacant cottage by the local lake that had been deemed the party spot for all underage alcohol consumers, he thought he would be getting something he would never forget. And he was right.
    Amelia stood by the lake, the low moon sending shimmers across the quiet water in a comforting way. She thought that it was almost unfair that something this beautiful existed in such a tragic world. Logan interrupted her mid thought, approached her and stopped several feet behind her. “So, what are we doin’ here?”
    Amelia put her best seductive face on and beckoned him closer. Boys were so stupid, would they really want to reproduce with anything that moved? Apparently so, he advanced and stepped on the trigger that she had set up, sending a large metal cage dropping from the overhead tree and landing overtop the beast. He screamed and swore in surprise. Amelia hit the small “Record” button on top of a hidden camera.
    “What are we doing here?” She asked with false concern. “You are going to die, just like your friend Logan.” Panic hit his face and he started pleading for his life. “You see what you’re doing? You’re begging. And I’m video taping you. You’re weak. You’re a bully and a coward and I’m here to expose you at your lowest moment. You know, It’s been said that people only reveal their true selves when they are at their worst. Well here it is. You’re crying and begging like a pathetic worm. And you’re going to die. How fitting, someone who makes people miserable for entertainment gets a taste of his own medicine. Too bad you won’t be around when people see you as the weakling you are.” She seethed. She felt the power and courage flow through her veins, hot and acidic. Each pointed word slid off of her tongue and hit him like another dagger.
    She dragged the large cage to the calm waters, disturbing them as he fought. She pulled him into deeper waters and just before the water was over his head, she whispered a falsely bitter farewell. Then Amelia left him underwater, trapped and alone with what was only one last lungful of air left. She held the camera in front of the water and captured the moments where the last few bubbles of air popped at the surface. The water stilled itself once more and the moon shimmered over it as if nothing had ever even happened. “Beautiful.”
    Zeke wasn’t in school again the next morning, and neither was Logan. But no one had noticed. No one but Piper. Amelia had heard her complaining to Lola and Jenna about how he had never called her back last night and that she wondered if that was his silly way of breaking up with her. They hushed her worried babblings and assured her that it was fine. Oh, how little they knew.
    Amelia didn’t quite know how she was going to get the next two alone. That is, until she saw them rushing hurriedly to the auditorium to rehearse their lines for the upcoming school play. She saw them run through the heavy doors, scripts clutched tightly to their chests as if they were guarding the pages with their lives. Maybe they were...
    Amelia followed them and once inside, she shoved chairs under the handles of the doors. She wouldn’t want any sort of escape, would she? The girls on stage hadn’t even noticed anyone had walked into the room, they were too involved in their own rehearsing. Silly girls. Amelia snuck into where the control panel was and paused for a moment as she saw the copious buttons in front of her. She finally found the one she was looking for “Master Lights.” She turned them off and it was pitch black in the room. The girls let out an alarmed scream and began asking who was there. They sounded frightened.
    Amelia tore off towards the stage. She had grabbed a fire extinguisher from the control room and that is what she used to bludgeon the girls over the head. They were both unconscious, but Amelia was sure they were still breathing. Amelia turned on the control lights and saw them, lying peacefully on the stage. How was she going to kill them? It only took her a second to decide. She leaned toward both of them and took off both of their belts. She fashioned two odd nooses and wrapped each around their necks. She then suspended them from the balcony of the elaborate set the stage crew had spent several months designing.    
    Though they were both efficiently dead, Amelia didn’t think that this served them any sort of justice. This isn’t what they deserved. Amelia looked around the stage for something to give her inspiration for their demise. And then she saw it. The pages of their beloved scripts, scattered where she had disrupted their rehearsal. Amelia ripped several pages from each and looked at the girls. She opened up their pretty little mouths, and stuffed the pages in and down their throats. Once again, Amelia’s ironic sense of humor left her smiling at the freshly dead girls before her. She was beginning to get too narcissistic for her own good, her pieces left her far too satisfied with herself. She shook it away and left the auditorium, preparing for the main event.
    She didn’t even bother going to school the next day. It would surely be overrun with police and investigators and gossip of all the recent deaths of seemingly innocent students. Instead, she went to the home of Piper Kingston. More specifically, the bedroom. She waited there until Piper returned from her boring duties as head cheerleader. When she got home, Amelia was ready.
    Piper opened the door of her room and closed it in the same movement. She locked the door, which Amelia found to be exceptionally helpful as it would be one less thing she would have to worry about doing. Piper turned around and saw Amelia standing there, looking mousy and innocent as she could. “What the hell are you doing here, freak?” Piper asked, surprisedly. Amelia didn’t offer a reply, she just smiled darkly. She stepped forward and Piper instinctively stepped back. Amelia pulled a piece of shimmering cloth out from behind her back and threw it at Piper. Piper looked at it and gasped, wide-eyed and fearful.
    Lunging forward, Amelia struck Piper, grabbing a tangled fistful of Piper’s long, sleek red hair. Amelia wrapped the glossly locks around her wrist, taking control of Piper’s head. Piper screamed in pain and Amelia found it somewhat satisfying. She pulled out a shiny pair of handcuffs and put one ring around Piper’s wrist, the other around Piper’s bedframe. She repeated this with the other wrist, except it was latched to Piper’s desk. Amelia pulled a long, silver blade from her pocket and Piper instantly froze. “What are you going to do to me?” she whimpered. Again, Amelia didn’t reply. She just cut away Piper’s perfect clothes. She redressed her in the shiny dress that was all too familiar to the pair of them. Amelia then used the long blade to cut off large chunks of Piper’s beautiful red hair, making her look uneven and ugly. Piper’s tears slid down her face and her sobs fueled Amelia’s cruelty.
    “Did you know that you’re perfect, Piper?” Amelia whispered, half crazed. “Because I think you do. Did you know that you’re beautiful, Piper? Because I think you do. You know what doesn’t make you pretty? Hate. Hate makes you ugly, Piper. And you hated me, didn’t you? Yeah, you loathed me. And your hate for me made you so ugly, Piper! And you know what you did! You were just cutting off your nose to spite your face.” Just as Amelia said the last sentence, she dug the top of the blade into Piper’s face, causing blood to spill out in great torrents. Amelia dug deeper and deeper into Piper’s face making vermillion pulsate all over her and the snow white floor beneath them. Piper screamed a violent and agonizing scream of pure pain and Amelia laughed at her. Amelia continued to cut until Piper’s nose was now a mangled ball of flesh in a pool of blood at her feet. Only then did Amelia set the knife down on the desk and pick up a bucket she had almost forgotten about by the door. She dumped the contents of the bucket onto the screeching and writhing Piper beneath her. The mud streaked over Piper’s broken body as she continued to deteriorate. Amelia picked up the knife once more and held it to Piper’s bloodstained throat, slashing it with fervor. The light left Piper’s vivacious eyes and soon, Amelia’s too.

    “They found them both later that night when Piper’s mom came home from work. She said Amelia had a smile on her face. I guess she got the last laugh. They never found Zeke’s body, but a couple of drunk kids found Logans at a party a few weeks later. He was curled in a ball at the bottom of the lake. That’s the last anyone ever really talked about those kids or what happened in Amelia’s head. The end.”

    Harlow finished her last sentence and looked out to her friends, all staring at her in horror. No one spoke for a few minutes, they just looked at Harlow who looked back at them with a satisfactory smile. Eddie was the first to break the silence.
    “What the hell was that.” He said, incredulous. “We thought you were going to give us a scary story, not some kind of messed up serial killer.”
    “Eddie’s right. I mean, Jesus Christ. I’m not going to be able to sleep for, like, 2 weeks.” Margot agreed. She looked at Harlow with a wide-eyed, terrified glare.
    “I thought it was pretty kick ass...” said Josh, who received a swipe from Taylor that told him that she didn’t agree.
    “Thanks, Josh. I thought it was scary, and apparently so did you guys. You looked like you all pretty much crapped your pants.” Harlow sniffed. She shook her head at them in disbelief towards their weakness when it came to gory, creepy stories.
    “Whatever. Let’s just... go back to my house and hang out or something. It’s kinda late...” Peter said shakily. This was obviously going to give him nightmares, just like last time. He poured the metal bucket of ashes over their dying fire and they gathered up their blankets. The gang of kids all got in Peter’s van and drove away from their little fire pit, but couldn’t quite get away from the picture they all held in their mind of Amelia with bloody hands and evil eyes haunting them from beyond her shallow grave.

The End

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