You know those families you see on TV where the parents love one child and ignore, or even abuse, the other? My family was like that when it came to me and my twin sister, Chelsea. Even though we looked alike, my parents always praised me for my accomplishments, and asked Chelsea why she couldn’t be more like me. Whenever she got upset or started to protest, they just told her to shut up, and called her ‘chatterbox’. Even though they never let her get a word in edgewise. Yeah, that was our household. It wasn’t fair, I knew that even from my earliest days. I always felt sorry for my sister, but I didn’t know what to do to help her.
Things came to a head one day when we were fourteen. Mom was out at a meeting, and I was upstairs doing my homework. I had just finished my math-when I suddenly heard the shouting. My father was yelling at Chelsea, over a failed test, I heard. I had never heard my father so angry. Chelsea was crying, trying to tell her side of the story, but as usual, my father didn’t let her speak. A loud smack echoed through the house, and I could feel tears start to pour down my face. I wanted to go downstairs, to shout at Dad to leave my sister alone and stop punishing her for everything, but I was scared. So instead, I crawled to my bed and put a pillow over my head, trying to shut out all the noise.
But then, suddenly, it stopped. I sat up slowly, removing the pillow from my head, hearing nothing but my own shallow breathing. Slowly, cautiously, I pulled myself out of bed, and walked out the door, afraid of what I might find when I went downstairs. My heartbeat grew louder and louder as I took one step after the other. I finally made it downstairs and walked into the kitchen-and let out a gasp of horror at what I saw.
There, laying on the floor, his throat slashed wide open, a small pool of blood surrounding his head, was my father. Chelsea stood above him, a knife in her hand. I wanted to run. I wanted to scream. But instead, I stood, frozen in fear as Chelsea turned slowly to face me, her gray eyes, so similar to mine, like chips of ice.
“He told me to shut up. He said that I talk too much and never listen, so I made sure that he never talks again.” Those were the last words I ever heard from my sister. I don’t really remember what happened next. I just faintly remember my mother’s scream as she walked in the door shortly afterwards, the sensation of her dragging me away, and Chelsea being carried off by the men in white coats as we drove off, leaving her, and our old lives, behind.
A year later, my life was back to normal. I was just a regular teenager in my sophomore year of high school, working part-time at a music store to support my mom. It was during my shift one Friday evening that things first started to go south. Dan, one of my coworkers, asked me if I wanted a ride home.
“No thanks,” I answered. “I’ve got a skateboard. My house isn’t too far from here.”
“You sure?” He asked.
“Sure I’m sure.” I answered. “Why the sudden generosity?”
“Well, there’s no telling who or what could be lurking around after dark.”
“I’ll be fine.” I assured him as I finished putting away the last few CDs and walked out from behind the counter.
“Well, if you’re sure.” Dan said with a shrug. “Be careful out there, Michelle.” A warm blush spread across my cheeks as his honey-colored eyes met mine. To be honest, I had a little bit of a crush on Dan, and from what I could see, the feeling was mutual. I walked out of the store and put on my helmet before skating home. Despite myself, I couldn’t help but feel that there was more to Dan’s offer than he was letting on.
The next morning at school, I noticed that my best friend, Shawna, was mysteriously absent. That was weird, I thought. She was one of the smartest kids in school. It wasn’t like her not to show up. My other friends didn’t think anything of it.
“Maybe she’s just sick.” They said. They didn’t see anything wrong. So I put it out of my mind. Tried to go about my day as usual. But I had a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach.
Shawna was still missing the next day. And so was Kyle, another friend of mine. This one, however, I wasn’t so surprised about. He had always been a troublemaker, maybe the principal had suspended him or something. At least, that was what I hoped. I decided to call Kyle, hoping for some answers. The phone rang once. Twice. Thrice. No answer.
“Maybe he’s just blaring his music really loud?” I said out loud to myself.
That night, I had a dream. Dan was standing in front of me, a horrified look on his face. I tried to ask him what was wrong, but when I opened my mouth, no sound came out. He must’ve known what I was trying to ask, though, as he said
“Michelle, she’s coming.”
“Who? Who’s coming?” That’s what I wanted to ask. But still, I couldn’t speak. Dan ran forward, his eyes full of fear, and grabbed my shoulder.
“She’s coming for you, Michelle! You’re not safe! Get out, now! She’s going to…” Suddenly, Dan’s voice seemed to leave him too. He couldn’t talk, like me. A cold hand then grabbed my shoulder, sending a shiver down my spine. Before I could do anything, however, I heard a hiss in my ear.
The next day, Saturday, I couldn’t stop thinking about the dream.
“Michelle?” Dan asked. “Are you okay?”
“I don’t know.” I admitted. “Things have been weird lately.” I sighed and, before I could stop myself, said “You know, today makes one year since I’ve seen my sister.” And in that moment, I swear I saw all the color drain out of Dan’s face.
“Dan?” I asked. “What’s wrong?” Before he could answer, a customer with a CD called me over. I didn’t get a chance to talk to Dan again for the rest of my shift. People kept pouring into the store, mostly kids and teenagers free from school.
Finally, at five, I clocked out and said goodbye to Dan. He said something, but I couldn’t hear him, and I took off down the street. On my way home, I decided to stop by Shawna’s house. I skated up to her door and was about to knock, when I noticed that the window was broken. I hesitantly reached out and tapped the window. It swung open. My blood ran cold. Somebody had broken in.
Without thinking, I grabbed a clip from my hair and picked the lock, my hands shaking the whole time. I got the door open and flew inside, shouting
“Shawna?! Mr. and Mrs. Howell?!” My heart pounding, I ran further into the house-but didn’t get far before I found their corpses. Shawna lay in the living room, a look of horror frozen on her face, her throat slashed wide open. Next to her lay her parents, their throats likewise slashed. Just like my father…
“Oh God.” I put a hand to my mouth, feeling nausea rise up in my throat. My friend and her parents had been murdered. Why hadn’t I heard of that? And who would do something so horrendous? I froze. I knew who.
Pulling out my cell phone, I called my mom, feeling my pulse race as I waited for her to answer. I swore when I got the answering machine. Not bothering to leave a message, I put my phone away and ran back outside, seeing Dan’s car waiting.
“Hop in!” he shouted. I didn’t need to be told twice. I jumped in, panting hard.
“Dan,” I started, “It’s my sister.”
“I know.” He said, to my surprise. “My dad’s a psychiatrist. He received word a couple days ago that an inmate escaped from the asylum. He even told me her name-Chelsea Bronson.”
“Stop.” I said as we reached my house. Dan obliged, and I tossed the door open, not bothering to grab my skateboard as I ran to the door. Dan called after me, but I ignored him and swung the door open.
“Mom?” I called, panicked. “MOM!” Not caring how loud I was being, I ran upstairs, my heartbeat quickening with every step that I took. I blinked a couple times, trying to get my eyes adjusted to the light.
Looking back on it, there were a lot of things I should have done differently. I should have accepted a ride from Dan when he offered to drop me off a couple days before. I should have called the police when I learned that Chelsea had escaped and was on the loose. And I definitely should not have been so reckless. Because I found her waiting for me, standing over my mother’s body, the same way she had stood over my father’s the previous year.
My breathing was shallow as I looked from my mother to Chelsea. I didn’t know which disturbed me more. My mom’s throat was slashed open, like Shawna and her parents. But Chelsea had changed a lot in only one year.
My sister was very thin and pale, her wiry dark hair hanging around her face, and her gray eyes even colder than they were on that fateful day. She was wearing torn jeans and a light green hoodie. It was obvious that she hadn’t seen the sun in a while, as her skin was the color of spoiled milk. But, most shocking off all were her scars. Three long, jagged scars went across her face, like a wild animal, or maybe even one of her fellow inmates, had attacked her. She had another scar in her throat, and I knew right away that she couldn’t talk.
My sympathy for Chelsea faded, however, when I saw the razors she was holding, old-timey things like the kind Sweeney Todd used. Our mother’s blood dripped from the blades.
“You bitch.” I spat. “You killed our mom, just like you did with Dad! And Shawna and her parents! And Kyle! Was all of this just to get back at us?! At me?! Do you really hate me that much?!” Chelsea responded by gripping her razors tighter and rushing to attack me. Before I could think, I felt someone push me out of the way. I looked up in time to see Chelsea stab Dan in the throat.
“Michelle…” he choked out through mouthfuls of blood, “Run.” I pulled myself up, running as fast as my feet could take me. Chelsea was close behind me, and I had to duck as she tried to swipe at my throat.
“Chelsea…” I spun around to look at her, and Chelsea shook her head before grabbing me by the throat and slamming me against the wall with inhuman strength. I don’t know whether or not it was my imagination, but I saw her mouth the word ‘Chatterbox’.
“Please.” I gasped. “Don’t…” Chelsea, or rather, Chatterbox raised a finger to her lips, razor still in hand, and made the last sound I ever heard