Everyone has a fear, one that drives them insane. A fear which paralyzes you and consumes your soul. A fear that may or may not be real. Right out of Tennessee, located in the mountains, is a little Italian town called Nessuno è Sicuro, with a population of 746 people — well, now 745.
Emily walked out of her home for the first time in days. She needed food. She walked past the park and past the barber shop. She turned the corner and walked into the supermarket. She filled her basket with two six-packs of ramen and minute cook rice, and when she got to the checkout counter, there was a new cashier she had never seen before. Emily gave him the groceries and pulled out her wallet. As she looked up, the old man with a white beard was staring at her. “Hey, young missy. You look like that missing girl, except you don’t have that screwed up, ugly eye like her.”
“It wasn’t screwed up or ugly.” Emily grabbed her groceries and ran out the door.
Emily had a physical condition where her knees buckled quite often without her controlling it, and as she walked home, her knees buckled, and she fell in a puddle of water. Emily looked down to see her face in the water. It looked just like her sister’s. She started to cry. She just wished that she didn’t look like her sister so she did not have to see her face every day. She got up and she ran to the park. As she collapsed on the bench, she turned her head to read a missing poster. It said:
Two weeks ago, a girl by the name of Luara went missing. Luara was a 16-year-old girl by the time she went missing. Luara is a tan girl with red hair and one blue eye, and she is blind in the other eye. There is a cash reward. Please find her.
When Emily saw this, she felt her heart drop. She ran home and slammed the door as she fell on the floor. Emily was Luara’s best friend and identical twin sister. Emily kept thinking about what the cashier had said and how he called her sister’s eye “screwed up and ugly.” Emily and Luara’s mother was dead, and their father was a drunk who didn’t even care that Luara was missing. The two girls had a hard life, their mother died when they were two due to a car crash, their father beat their mother, and well, then Luara went missing. Emily always thought that the night before her mother died, her father came home drunk again and was punching her mother because he thought she was having an affair with her boss. Her father later told them that their mother had tried to leave them, but then she hit a tree with the car and died.
*Ding-dong* “Go away!” *Ding-dong* “I said go away!!” *Ding-dong* “Go the hell away!!! Ughhh.” Emily ran downstairs and opened the door to see Sheriff Davis standing on her front porch. “What is so urgent, Sheriff, that you had to ring my doorbell three times?”
“Sorry Emily, I know that you are worried and upset, but we have some new information about your sister you might want to hear.”
“What information? Please, please, tell me everything you know.”
“Well, we know your sister did not run away. We suspect it might have been a homicide. I am so sorry, and I know this information is stressful to hear,” the sheriff said, while fidgeting with his fingers.
“No! No, she’s not dead. She can’t be dead. This isn’t possible. Please oh please say this is just a premature verdict!” Emily’s heart started to ache, and she tried to hold back the tears.
“I am so sorry, Emily, but this is most likely what happened to her.”
“But — but they haven’t found a… a… a body yet.” Emily started to choke up.
“Again, I am so sorry, Emily, and we will get to the bottom of this, but please take care of yourself. Have a good day.”
“Excuse me, you don’t just ring someone’s doorbell three times, tell them their sister was murdered, and then say have a good day! I mean, what the hell is wrong with you?! Do you have no empathy? Just go away, just go.” Emily’s knees buckled as she fell to the ground.
Later that evening, the news had been spread around the town, and Emily finally cracked. She cried and cried until her face went pale and she fell on the floor.
*Ding-dong* “No please… please, no.” *Ding-dong* Emily couldn’t get up, she couldn’t feel her legs, and she just wanted this all to stop. She did not want to open the door. She just kept crying on the floor for a minute. Suddenly, she felt warm, strong arms wrap around her, and she just stopped crying.
“Luara? Luara, is that you?” Emily looked up only to see Jack’s face.
Jack was one of Emily’s best friends. He was a pale 16-year-old boy with brown eyes and brown hair, and although he loved Emily, he had never liked Luara. Jack had come to check on Emily after he heard the news about her sister. Emily started to cry again, and so he held her tighter.
“Hey Em, don’t worry. Nothing can hurt you when you’re in between my strong arms!”
Emily stopped crying, and Jack looked at her face to see she had fallen asleep. She must have been tired from not sleeping for a while, he thought. Jack stayed up as Emily lay asleep for three whole hours. When Emily finally woke up, stretching and yawning, she realized that Jack was still there and screamed.
“Umm, how long was I out?” Emily asked.
“Not long, only a couple of hours. You should sleep a little longer though. It’s not healthy for you to not get any sleep.”
“Thanks, but I — I have to find Luara!”
“Emily, Luara is dead. Sheriff Davis told everyone last night.”
“But — but they haven’t found a body, which means they don’t know yet.”
“I am sorry Emily, the sheriff announced it while you were asleep, they found her. Well… they found her remains.”
“What? But she’s only been gone for two weeks! That’s not enough time. It isn’t her. It isn’t her!”
“I really am sorry, Em. I’m here for you.”
“You’re lying to me! You’ve never liked Luara, and that’s why you’re telling me these lies! I don’t care what you say, I’m going! I’m going to find her!” Emily walked out of her house and slammed the door behind her.
As Emily walked through the town, she saw people smiling as if things had gone back to the way they were. They were acting like no one had gone missing, like there hadn’t been a murder and there wasn’t a body. Emily wanted to scream. She wondered why nobody was worried, why they weren’t acting like someone would if another person had been murdered. She started to cry. She ran as fast as her legs could go until she reached the police station and fell to the floor in front of the sheriff, bawling and screaming.
“Where is she? Where is the body you claim is my sister? Huh?! Where is that… that thing, that you have mistaken for my sister? Where is it? Tell me!!!”
Sheriff Davis took Emily to the morgue. They walked into a room, and Emily gasped. All that was left of Luara was her ripped up body, her bones, some rags which were her clothing, her hair, and her one blind eye. Emily felt a sharp pain in her stomach, her heart started to beat faster, and she was short of breath. She remembered when she and her sister were seven years old, and Emily had been sick with the stomach flu. Luara stayed up all night to distract Emily from the pain by talking about their birthday and how fun it would be. They had wanted to celebrate their birthday with all of their friends and eat chocolate cake. Emily never thought that this was the way it would all end.
Two days later, Emily finally stopped crying. She told the sheriff that he had better start an investigation right away. She was trying everything to get her mind off of the thing that they had called her sister, but nothing was working. Emily was sitting on the couch in the living room when she heard *ding-dong.* “Just come in,” she muttered.
Jack opened the door and came in. “Hey, Em, I think I have something to help you ease the pain.”
“A party! I’ll be there too. It will help, just please come. Please.”
“Fine, I need something to help me right now, so I’ll try anything. Anything.”
“Great, then I’ll pick you up at seven.”
After Jack left, Emily got up, and she headed to her father’s room. He was passed out from being drunk. His closed eyes started to shift back and forth rapidly as he slept. Emily had never seen this happen to anyone before and did not know if this was normal. Emily looked at her father’s strange eyes in shock. Suddenly, his eyes opened up to reveal a glowing yellow, and Emily got scared and ran down the hall to her room. Emily’s room was clean and had two beds, one for her and one for Luara. It had pink, striped wallpaper that was starting to peel at the top. There was a leak in the middle of the ceiling and a metal bucket on the ground for the water to drip into. Emily sat on Luara’s bed and cuddled up under her sheets. They still smelled like Luara, and Emily felt safe and warm as she fell asleep.
When Emily got up, she was careful to not move the covers too much as she didn’t want to lose the feeling of Luara. She walked over to the vanity they shared and started to comb her hair, and when she looked in the mirror and saw the dark circles around her eyes, it was like she saw Luara. Emily called out to her.
“Luara! Luara, come here! Come back to me!!”
Then, Emily remembered it was her reflection, and she got so pissed that she punched the glass and shattered the mirror. Her fist was bloody, but she didn’t realize because of her crying. She suddenly heard the doorbell ring. Emily realized she’d forgotten all about the party as she fixed her hair and ran down to the door. She didn’t know why Jack had come early. She opened the door to see Danny instead of Jack.
“Uhh hi, Danny. What are you doing here?” Danny was one of Luara’s best friends. He was a 15-year-old boy with green eyes and dark brown skin. He normally never talked to anyone except Luara, but now that Luara was gone, he at least needed to talk to someone like her just one last time.
“I wanted to see Luara one last time. You look just like her, I’m sorry,” Danny said in a quiet voice.
“Uhhh… Co-come in.” Danny walked through the door and looked around as if he had never seen the inside of their old house before. “Danny are you okay?” Emily asked.
“You just seem a little out of it.”
“I’m sorry, I-I-I just miss her. I don’t really like people, but she… she was different.”
“I’m sorry, Danny. I understand how you feel. Hey, do you maybe want to come to a party with me and Jack tonight? I know parties aren’t really your thing, but it might make you feel better.”
“Sure, but ummm, is that blood on your hand? I can help you out if it’s a cut.”
Emily hesitated, she didn’t want him to think she’d done something bad. After a moment, she said, “Umm thanks, but it’s just raspberry jam.”
“Oh okay. Can I stay with you until the party?”
“Um yeah, sure. Just take a seat in the living room over there.”
The room was dusty and old. There was a sofa next to an old bay window and an old, antique coffee table in the middle of the room. On the wall facing the right was a big fireplace. The hardwood floor started to break. However, the room was cozy. Danny sat down as he waited, and just then the doorbell rang.
“Hi, it’s Jack. Em, you ready?” Jack shouted through the mail slot in the door.
Danny opened the door. “Hi Jack, Emily is upstairs getting ready. Come on in.”
After a moment of shock, Jack entered the old house and sat on the sofa. As he sat down, dust came up from the sofa, and he started to cough.
“Danny, are you okay down there?” Emily called.
“Yeah. Jack’s here too, by the way.”
“Okay, I’m almost ready.” Emily combed her hair, and she ran downstairs to see Jack and Danny. “You guys ready to go?” Emily asked. Both boys said yes, and so they got in Jack’s car and drove to the party. The party was at a tall townhouse made of brick. There was an alley on either side of the house. One of them led to a big backyard. The three teenagers walked down the alley and opened a gate to the backyard. There was loud music playing, people dancing with drinks in their hands, and Emily could swear she smelled a person barbecuing. The party smelled of cheap booze and roasting meat, and the smell of roasting meat would have been mouth-watering by itself, but mixed with the smell of cheap booze, it was nauseating.
“Hey, Em you want a drink?” Jack asked.
“Uhh… no thanks, I don’t drink.”
“Okay. Danny, you?”
“I’ve never had one before, but it must be fun!” Danny said.
“Lmao okay, two drinks coming right up.”
The three teenagers danced and ate. Emily wanted to leave. Danny and Jack had gotten drunk, and Jack was starting to yell angrily at random people while Danny was acting dazed and had started touching people and making them uncomfortable.
“Hey guys, I’m ready to go home now,” Emily said.
“Em, just stay a little longer,” Jack said as he started to laugh. Danny was passed out on a table by the speakers.
“Look, if you guys want to stay, I’ll walk home.”
“Okay, Em! Night night.” Jack started to walk back to the crowd of dancing people. Emily was shocked that he didn’t try to help her get home. She started to walk away and as she opened the gate to one of the alleys, she saw that the other end was blocked off.
“Ughh, damn it. This is the wrong side!” Emily said, and she was about to leave when she saw a person at the end of the alley. She wondered if he was drunk and needed help leaving. Emily walked up to the man but gasped when he turned around suddenly.
His eyes were shifting back and forth and glowing yellow. Emily thought they looked similar to her father’s eyes. His mouth was foaming and had two large, sharp fangs sticking out of it. He started to grow hair from all over. A tail sprouted from behind the man, and then all of a sudden he grew wings. Emily stared in shock. She wondered what this thing was and whether she was going to die. The thing looked at Emily and started to go after her. Emily ran, screaming down the long alley all the way back to the party. Her heart was beating so fast it felt as though it would burst. She was hyperventilating when she finally ran through the gate and tried to find her friends. She found Danny passed out on a table and grabbed him and started to shake him. Danny, still very dazed, said, “Hi Mom, what time is it? Is Santa here yet? Hauhah.”
“No it’s me, Emily! And what? It’s June! Get up, there’s a monster thing. Help! O-M-G, O-M-G, we need to leave!!! Come on, get up! Come on!” Danny started to get up as Emily frantically looked for Jack, who was dancing next to two women when she found him.
“Jack! Jack, come on we have to leave! There’s — there’s a thing outside!! It-it-it it’s a monster thing!! We have to run, come on!”
“You’re delusional, Luara! Did you meet my friends? Uhh… umm… this is, uh, blonde girl number one and blonde girl numbah two.” Jack waved his drink in the air. “Look at my big muscles! Huahha.”
“Come on, Jack, you’re drunk. We have to go! Come on!!”
“Luara, I told you to just go if you want to go! Just go the hell away!”
Emily couldn’t believe he was acting so mean, or that he’d called her Luara. Emily grabbed Jack and Danny, dragging them to the car. Suddenly though, her knees buckled, and she fell to the floor and couldn’t get up. Jack and Danny couldn’t help her since they were too drunk. They all watched as the monster thing flew over the brick wall of the alley and started to head straight toward them.
“Jack! Danny! Help, please! I can’t get up!” Jack and Danny’s bodies filled with fear when they saw the thing. Jack grabbed Emily and started to run to his car. He threw Emily in the back as Danny hopped in the back as well. Jack threw open the door to the driver’s seat, grabbed his key from his pocket, and dropped it. The three teenagers were too scared they had forgot that Jack had been drinking. His hands were so sweaty he kept dropping his keys, all while the thing was coming straight toward them.
“Jack, pick up the key! Jack, come on!”
“I’m trying to, it just — it just — ”
“It’s right there, Jack! Hurry!”
“Got it!” Jack started to drive away. He drove past the supermarket and turned the corner past the barber shop. They saw more of the monsters in the park, and as they passed, the monsters looked up at them. The teenagers felt their bodies go numb. They couldn’t move or speak. Everything was quiet. And then the things started to fly at the car. Jack hit the gas pedal and sped sixty miles per hour down the road. He drove past the houses and buildings until he crashed into a tree. Emily had been so scared she forgot Jack was driving drunk. She looked out the window and saw the things approaching them.
“Run, RUN, we’ve got to RUN!!!” she screamed.
The teenagers unbuckled their seat belts and tried to run. “I-I-I think I’m stuck! Danny, Emily, help me please!” Jack yelled. Emily and Danny helped Jack get out, but they cut his leg in the process. The three of them ran into a nearby store for shelter.
Emily thought about how her sister could have been killed by one of these things. These things could be people she knew! Emily thought about her sister and who could possibly have done this to her. Who could have hated her so much. And that was when she realized…
Emily gasped as a thought came through her head, and her body went cold. “Jack… where were you two weeks ago?”
“Jack, just tell me where you were.”
Jack frowned. “Emily… you — you don’t think that I could’ve done that to Luara… do you?”
“Jack! Where were you?”
“I don’t want to tell you!”
“What could you have been doing that’s worse than murdering my sister?” Emily demanded as she started to cry.
“I was high, okay?! I didn’t want people to know about it,” Jack said angrily.
Emily didn’t believe him. “That’s such a bad excuse, even I could do better! You were high? I mean come on, you could’ve said you were on a date or at a party, or even at the movies! But you had to say you were high? You hated her! You-you-you’re one of them, aren’t you?”
“What? No! You’re paranoid. Why the hell would I be one of those things? You don’t really think I’m one of those things. Do you?”
Emily and Danny started to back away from Jack. “St-stay away from us, Jack! Danny, we’ve got to run!”
“Guys wait! I said wait!” Jack grabbed Emily and threw her across the wall with all of his strength. “Emily, I’m sorry, but you can’t think I did that. Do you really think that?”
“Jack, why would you do that to her?” Danny helped Emily up and started to run out of the shop. As they ran, they saw Jack limping behind them trying to catch up. They turned around to see one of the things jump on Jack and rip him apart.
He called one last time to say, “Em, this is your fault!”
Emily started to cry. Her childhood best friend had just died. She had seen him get ripped apart, heard him scream… she could even smell his blood in the air. His screams echoed in her head, but she couldn’t think about them for long. She needed to run away.
Emily and Danny ran to Emily’s house. They didn’t stop until they made it in and slammed the door behind them. They fell to the floor as they tried to catch their breath, and Emily looked over to see her father sitting in a lounge chair. The fire in the fireplace was roaring in front of him as he stood up and turned around. Emily got up and ran to give him a hug. Her father was shocked, but he hugged her back. Emily started to cry again.
“Da-da-dad! Ja-Ja-Jack, he — um, he was the one who killed Luara,” Emily said as she tried to not get fully choked up.
Her father hugged her tighter, “Oh, sweet, sweet daughter. You innocent dumb girl… your friend wasn’t the one who killed your sister. You didn’t really believe that, did you?”
“What — what do you mean?”
“I mean, your friend didn’t kill your sister. You two come sit down.” Emily and Danny walked over to the couch and sat down. “Let me give you a little history lesson on your beloved hometown.”
Emily froze in fear, scared for what her father was going to say.
“A long time ago in Italy, there was a man who decided to create a new race. He made 23 of these, well, creatures, and he watched as they changed and they became monsters. The man tried to keep his creations a secret, but one night someone broke into his lab and found them. The spy told the city what he had seen, and they all grabbed their torches and stormed his lab. The scientist found out they were coming though, and so he took his creatures to the dock, and they fled in the night. He sailed to Louisiana where they were eventually attacked. The scientist was burned at the stake, and only thirteen of the creatures survived. The creatures ran until they were safe here in this town called Nessuno è sicuro. None of the people speak Italian here except for some ancestors of the original 13, but Nessuno è sicuro means no one’s safe. Emily, your ancestors are two of the original 13, and your mother and Luara weren’t safe here.”
Emily and Danny were frozen in fear, their lives had been a lie, everything they knew was a lie. “You’re lying, none of this is true,” Emily insisted.
“Then explain the creatures outside. Explain your dead sister — your dead mother even!”
“Mom died in a car crash, Jack killed Luara, and those things out there they are not real! I don’t believe it!”
“No Emily, I killed your mother, I killed your sister, and those things out there are your flesh and blood. They’re family.”
“No! Why would you kill Mom? Why would you kill Luara? You don’t kill the people you love!”
“Love? Who said anything about love?” Emily’s father let out a sneer. “They didn’t have the gene activated like you and me. They weren’t strong enough, and so I did what I had to do!”
Emily’s heart felt a pain she had never felt before, a feeling from deep, deep down inside her. The agony started to spread all over her body as she started to scream! Her eyes started to glow, her mouth now had fangs and was foaming. She grew wings, a tail, and hair grew all over her body. This pain felt like no other pain in the world.
“You’re changing. You’re doing it! Embrace it! Hahahaha!”
Emily’s mind began to shut off, her body charged at Danny — she didn’t mean to, but she couldn’t help it. Emily ripped Danny’s head off of his body, and it flew across the room. The blood splattered in her face and got into her mouth. It tasted bitter. Like… well, how else could you describe it other than like your friend’s blood? Emily’s mind was shutting off, and she could feel it. Her father started to run, but she grabbed him and threw him into the fire. She didn’t want to do this, and she tried to fight, but it wasn’t working. Her father’s body caught on fire, which set the house on fire, burning both her father and Danny’s bodies.
Emily flew out of the burning house and watched as it crumbled. As the monster took over Emily, she saw bright lights and heard loud noises coming from all directions. Emily felt like she was drowning and couldn’t swim to the water’s surface. She finally reached the bottom, and her mind fully shut off. Emily couldn’t see anything, feel anything, or hear anything. She was just asleep, and later that night she killed everything in her sight, until there was nothing left living in the small town.
Emily woke up on the cold, hard street. She looked at her hands to see that they were covered in blood that she didn’t know how had got there. She stood up, remembering nothing of what had happened the night before. The streets were covered in red, the air reeked of iron. Emily walked through the streets and saw bodies covering the sidewalks, guts on the walls, in the streets, in the trees, and even on the street lights. The remains of people she knew and people she did not were scattered everywhere. Emily walked over to where her house used to be and sat down on the burnt remains of the place she once called home. She wanted to know what had happened the night before. She wanted to know if she had caused all of this destruction herself, and more importantly, she wanted to know if she could do it again.