Part Fifteen of You Will Find Your Way
Dallas really shouldn’t have gotten out of bed this morning.
The next morning, Dallas wakes to the sight of the wooden beams that make up the sloped ceiling of her attic bedroom. Sunlight slants through the window next to her bed, and Dallas groans, rubs her hands over her face, debates for a long time about whether or not she should roll out of bed.
For some reason, she woke with that uncomfortable feeling of something amiss, and she does not want to get up and face it.
But then her stomach growls.
With another groan, she rolls out of bed and pulls on a pair of sweats, shuffles into the kitchen. She finds Giselle sitting at the table, and stifles a laugh because she’s sipping coffee from a soup bowl as she reads an article in one of her more-recent science journals.
The journal, of course, is propped up against one of their coffee mugs.
“Morning,” Dallas says as she shuffles over to the coffeemaker.
Giselle hums, but doesn’t look up from her reading, “Hey,” she says, tone distracted. “Can you come with me to the research library later? I have to copy off some materials for our radial mapping project.”
Oh, so that’s why she didn’t want to get out of bed today.
Dallas clenches her hands to fist, squeezes hard and shuts her eyes, counts to ten bursts of light behind her eyelids and takes a deep breath, “I don’t want to.”
“I didn’t ask if you wanted to, I asked if you would.”
She sighs again, “Might as well.”
The biggest problem with the research library was that it was moved to a new, state-of-the-art facility the summer before Dallas’ freshman year. To an unused piece of property just off Greek Row.
Which explains everything that happened to her.
Dallas scowls in the building’s general direction.
“Obviously,” Giselle pauses, clears her throat. “I appreciate you.”
Near Tate College, 2002
Dallas doesn’t remember the exact date of the night her life went to shit.
It’s helpful, for all that she doesn’t like remembering it—can’t remember it without having one hell of a panic attack—but it doesn’t help when there are things she needs to do that are related to said worst night ever.
She tries to remember, but it just leads to more panic attacks.
Not remembering much more than a vague sense of it happening somewhere between October and November means Dallas has to camp out in a motel room near campus, and check night after night after night for weeks until gets the right night.
She doesn’t leave the room until after sunset, tugs a hood over her head on the off chanced she encounters anyone who would recognize her while she crosses over to the side of campus she would really rather set on fire.
But she has to do this.
Dallas has no other choice but to do this.
God, even looking in that general direction of campus makes her want to vomit.
The sun dipped behind the forest over an hour ago, which means it’s time, so Dallas forces down the bile searing its way up her throat and shoves her hands into the hoodie’s fleece-lined pockets, starts walking.
The crackling of leaves crunching under her boots is painfully loud to her ears, nearly drowning out the sound of her pounding heartbeat. Eventually that all fades, her focus tied to the path in front of her and her current mission.
She has to take the long way around, skirt the line between where the campus ends and forest begins. Once there, she trudges through the thick bushes of the heavily wooded area in search of that clearing.
“I better not see myself get raped, I better not see myself get raped,” is the mantra that repeats over and over in her mouth as she walks.
Dallas stops short at the echo of a choked-back moan, dread pitting in her stomach with conformation that tonight is the night. The moans are followed by a low masculine chuckle that makes her see red, followed by the reverberating mumble of Latin chanting.
“Morons don’t know what they’re messing with,” she mutters to nothing, her face prickling with embarrassment on behalf of the poor girl they’re torturing as she digs her fingers into her right shoulder.
A bright flash sears through the forest and her eyes slam shut when she hears a horrible, rattling echo of screams that will probably haunt her for the rest of her existence.
When the light fades, Dallas steels herself for whatever she’s going to encounter, pushes her shoulders back and runs into the clearing.
What she finds can only be described as carnage.
She gags at the sight, chokes back bile as she surveys the charred lumps that used to be the bodies of the unknown number of men and women who attacked her. They burn through patches of dying grass, and a very tiny part of Dallas marvels over just how she could have possible survived.
Dallas grits her teeth and picks her way through the mess, kicks at charred lumps that are probably body parts before she finally finds the book those idiotic frat boys stole from Special Collections.
Because what says Greek Life fun more than trying to open a portal and using a poor, abused pledge as a human fucking sacrifice?
She picks the book from a pile of ashes that, god, probably used to be a living, breathing, piece of shit, teenage-girl-raping human being, brushes some charred flecks of bone off the heavy, but undamaged leather cover.
With a sigh, Dallas swallows back at the lump forming in her throat, finally hears a noice over the blood pounding in her ears—curious rumblings from the rest of the bonfire attendees.
Being caught would lead to an absolute disaster, so Dallas shoves the book in her hoodie and sprints in the other direction.
Running is the worst.
You Will Find Your Way continues with Part Sixteen
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