Chapter Story – Part Two
Hetty’s mind slipped to the few hours priors. She could feel the bright winter sun on her skin, a reminder of the past days of warmth when autumn had reigned and bestowed its easy days and cool nights. She remembered stopping outside the music building before entering. She’d closed her eyes, lifting her face to the sun’s rays, and knew warming-reprieves in the future would be sparse.
Annabelle bumped into her outside the doors. She was laughing and nudged Hetty. “We’re going to be late. C’mon,” she said. She was so pretty. So young.
Hetty shook her head. Officer Rayne’s face replaced Annabelle’s. A deep void pinpricked her heart, but she clamped her mind over it, determined to keep it hidden.
“What else do you remember?” Officer Rayne said, having written only a short sentence in his book.
“We went to rehearsal,” she said. The compilations of what they’d practiced that day filled her mind. The fingers on her left hand unconsciously tapped notes to the arrangements on her leg.
Annabelle was first chair violin, whereas Hetty was first chair viola; their sections separate. Annabelle rolled her eyes at Hetty. Hetty countered by sticking out her tongue. Both girls quietly giggled into their instruments, not wanting to get caught by stuffy Professor Hollinsky.
Her memory sped up, and the music ended. Annabelle was telling her she’d meet her at their dorm room. Professor Hollinsky wanted Hetty to stay later, adjust her fifth positioning.
“I told her to take the underground because it was cold outside. The south underground is a straight shot from the music building to our dorm.” Hetty paused then, remembering Annabelle’s broad grin and the way her long, black hair cascaded over her shoulders and framed her ivory skin like a masterpiece painting on the wall.
“I told her to take the underground.” The words stuck in her mind now that she said them out loud, with each loop they cut her heart—the pain of what she’d done becoming more evident as the thought spun. It was her fault. If she’d just told her to go another way. Or asked her to wait. Annabelle offered to wait for you, remember? You should have taken her offer. She’d still be alive.
She whipped her head toward the officer. Annabelle’s ivory silhouette slid under Officer Rayne’s ebony one.
“How long were you with Professor Hollinsky?”
Her thoughts collided, some grinding to a halt as others burned rubber to escape. The effort to hone in on the specific answer he needed sucked her energy. Tiredness rounded her back’s spine and dragged her eyes to the floor.
“About twenty minutes. Rehearsal ended before three. Everyone put their instruments away, except for me.” Her left hand cradled the phantom neck of her viola. She imagined the coolness of the deep mahogany wood on her palm. She wished she could play, help expel the emotions that overwhelmed her.
“After you finished speaking to Hollinsky, what did you do?”
“I went to the underground to meet Annabelle at our dorm room.” Panic flooded her limbs, and the violent shaking from earlier resumed.
Flashes of the underground bombarded her mind’s eye: her walking down the stairs to the main door that led to the underground; the echo of her red pumps on the marble-like flooring, the chill that swarmed her once she entered the tunnel.
Her thoughts had rested on her fifth positioning, her fingers ghost-walking the music notes as her footsteps echoed. Their first big concert was that weekend, and her parents were coming to town to watch. She remembered feeling really happy—excited. She’d stepped into the south tunnel, an off-shoot from the west, as it edged toward the base of her and Annabelle’s dorm.
The underground always smelled musty and locked up, like there was never any spring cleaning done—never a blast of clean wind to air it out—but now there was another smell that infiltrated her mind. A metallic smell, like she stepped into a chemistry lab and someone was doing an experiment.
She heard whimpering first, then harsh grunting. Were people having sex down here? She half giggled and cringed at the idea of catching someone in the act.
At first glance, that’s what she thought she saw, two amorous lovers, getting it on, on the floor. Then she saw blood—so much blood, and the woman’s body didn’t look right, like Raggedy Ann, limp and floppy.
The woman’s face tipped to the side, facing Hetty.
It couldn’t be, but it was, the more she looked. Oh, my God! Annabelle! She let out a guttural scream and started running toward Annabelle, swinging her shoulder bag as she went.
The man kneeling over Annabelle looked up at Hetty. He watched her run toward him, unnerved as if mutilating beautiful young women was a normal activity.
The man shoved a long metal blade into Annabelle’s gut, twisting and thrusting it over and over until he filled whatever sick quota he had in his mind, then he slit her throat. Careful to sidestep her body, he stood and moved away from Annabelle, with his sights still on Hetty, as she pounded her way down the hall toward him.
Hetty ran faster, crying, yelling at the man to leave her friend alone. The short-heels on her red pumps thudded the floor, jarring the tiny bones of her feet. She felt like she was in a nightmare, running with all her might but never seeming to make any headway.
She panted and pumped her arms. Her swinging bag, loaded down with sheet music and her book on music theory, hit the front of her legs, a dull whack every few seconds. She’d have bruises later, lots of them. Nothing like Annabelle, though. Must get to Annabelle.
The man swiveled on the balls of his feet and sprinted, soon disappearing down the bright-lit underground. By the time Hetty slid to Annabelle’s side, the man was gone.
Annabelle’s eyes looked through her. Her red sticky blood imprinted itself on Hetty’s clothes and hands. Hetty fumbled Annabelle to her breast and rocked her back and forth, alternating between yelling for help and madly praying. Please don’t die. Please don’t die.