There had been another murder.
It was all over the newspapers, the headlines screamed; LIVING IN FEAR: MURDERER STILL AT LARGE. It was the one thing on everybody's mind, nobody was safe. It had started out with local schoolgirl Rebecca Williams. She was found in her home with severe blood loss, dying minutes before the ambulance arrived.
The next one was Katy Franks, one of Rebecca's unfortunate friends found in exactly the same way.
Then it was Melissa. And then Talia. And then Samantha. The situation gradually became worse and one student was being killed each week. There was also a pattern amongst the victims; they were all female and aged between fourteen and seventeen. The police had then enforced a curfew stating that anyone below seventeen had to be indoors after 9pm. Only a few people resisted, the rest knew that it was what was best for them.
Emilia went round her friends house after school. The only friend she had was Zach, the only one who really talked to her and liked her.
His mum opened the door.
'Oh hello Emilia. Come in, Zach's just upstairs.'
Emilia stepped over the threshold, smiling. She had always loved Zach's house, it was so incredibly tidy, a complete contrast to her own house. She took off her shoes, setting them down neatly next to Zach's familiar converses.
'Be careful to get back before the dark dear,' his mother called after her before disappearing into the kitchen. Emilia checked her phone, it was only 5pm, she had plenty of time.
'Zach?' Emilia knocked on the door before entering.
Zach's room was the only room in the house that wasn't tidy, a typical boys room. The blue walls were covered in music posters, small unsigned bands were his preferences, the ones nobody knew about. A stack of books stood next to his unmade bed, a mug of coffee sitting on top of them. Clothes lay strewn across the floor, aftershave and deodorent cans scattered amongst them.
'Emilia!' Zach's voice called from his en-suite. 'What are you doing here?'
'Oh charming,' Emilia pretended to be offended. 'I'll go.'
'No, no! Stay.' Zach came out his bathroom, looking unusually tidy, like he was going out. His dark hair, stylishly messy, framed his olive toned face and dark, kind eyes. He was wearing a light blue shit and faded blue jeans.
'You look smart,' Emilia noted.
'Yeah, um, I'm sorry but I'm actually going out with some friends in a bit...'
'Oh,' she tried not to sound too disappointed. 'Okay then. Is your mum letting you? I mean, it's already five o clock.' She hated how disapproving she sounded.
'I'm getting picked up at eight.'
Emilia tried to ignore the jealousy she felt, or the dejection she felt at not being included. Or the general anger about how hard it was for her to make friends. Why was it so hard? she'd asked herself these questions many times. Sure she was a little introvert, keeping to herself most of the time but was she really that unapproachable?
'You know I'd invite you,' Zach said softly. 'But it's not my place, it's my friends birthday.'
'I know,' Emilia laughed, a horrible false sound that she hated to hear. 'It's okay, we can hang out some other time yeah?'
'Yeah,' Zach smiled, completely oblivious to her hurt. 'Tomorrow?'
'Sure,' Emilia nodded, turning round and heading back downstairs.She slipped her shoes back on wordlessly and walked into cool evening breeze, keeping her head high and her smile plastered on her face.
Only when she was out of sight did she let the tears fall.