“Lizz what are you doing? Stop it, are you mad?” Lizzi could hear Ben’s breathy and taut voice fresh and in the flesh, as if he was right there. The voice faded slowly.
Lizzi’s pulse skipped and her eyes snapped open, she was covered in cold sweat; shaking, and her heart pounding, looking around the room suspicious and paranoid. The same dream has haunted her for the last five years. She realizes that she was not in her bedroom. Her hands, legs, and mouth were tied with pieces of red cloth. The room was dirty and painted red. Blood dripped from her hands to the floor.
The fear of the colour red hammered in her chest and she could feel the fear creeping up her spine, crawling up her throat and gripping it. Her face was ashen.
“Where am I? Who brought me here?” She screamed until she was drained out of energy and passed out.
Back at Lizzi’s apartment, Shen called James. the cell phone rang and James answered her call.
“Hey James, did Lizzi stay at your place last night?”
“No, she left at around eight last night. What happened?”
“She is not at the apartment. It’s too early and she has not even left a message. I have been waiting for one hour, but she has not come back yet.”
“What?! She didn’t get back home?” James said, faking concern in his voice. “I will wait till this evening and if I don’t hear from her, I will go to the cops.”
It was for the first time that Lizzi didn’t return home without even informing Shen. They have been best friends for three years now. Shen met Lizzi at the office when they were assigned to the same project and from then their bond grew stronger. From then they shared a flat as Lizzi always felt some kind of unknown connection with Shen.
It was evening now, and there was no sign of Lizzi, leading to Shen calling the cops.
James was called to the police station by Matt, the police officer appointed to investigate Lizzi’s case.
James was Lizzi’s elder brother. He was devious, conniving and amoral. Lizzi never really talked about James and had not even met him in the last three years until yesterday. Shen asked Lizzi about this sudden plan but Lizzi avoided her question by saying that it was just family business. As James arrived, Matt, the officer incharge of Lizzi’s case, questioned him.
“Was Lizzi with you yesterday?”
“Yes, she was.”
“Where is she now?”
“I don’t know. She left my apartment at 8 yesterday night. I insisted on dropping her but she said that she had some work to do.”
“Why did you meet her yesterday?”
“Just for a little brother-sister chit chat..” James seemed to be terrified.
“When did she leave, Shen?”
“She left home at 5 pm.”
“Did you find any difference in her behavior?”
“No, nothing at all. She seemed fine.” Shen answered Matt honestly.
“Nothing much just that she didn’t like the red color but yesterday she was wearing a red scarf. It’s not a big deal but just that it was different.” James added.
Back at the garage where Lizzi was kidnapped, the darkness of the room filled Lizz’s heart with regret. The fear reduced down to tears. The secret she kept from everyone but James and now James had tried to threaten her. And why wouldn’t he? Lizz always knew how James was but she thought he would be different for once and the result was her ending up in her chamber of secrets.
Waiting in the room for James to end it, she fell deeper into the arms of her darkest secret.
It was Lizzi’s 20th birthday, and she found a gift wrapped with a red ribbon. Excited, and ready to open it, Liz was disappointed when the doorbell rang. She opened the door and when she noticed Ben standing there, she hugged him and said, “Thanks for the gift, Ben.”
“Have you opened the gift, yet?” Ben asked her excitedly. She replied, “No, I haven’t. I was just about to open it when you rang the doorbell. I saw a red fabric like thing. Wait, I will get it.”
“No, not now. after I leave. It is something very dear to me and today, I have gifted it to you.” Ben stopped her by dragging her back to the sofa to sit with him.
Ben and Lizzi were best friends. They always knew what the other was thinking without even sharing. Ben trusted Lizzi blindly, and everything was sound until that night. The darkest and scariest night of Lizzi”s life, when the evil inside her overtook every being of her soul. She longed for a chance to reverse it for the last five years.
“Lizzi, what is this place? Where are you taking me?”
Lizz didn’t bother to answer as she quietly moved in with Ben walking in right behind her. In no time they reached a creepy looking garage, and Lizz asked Ben to sit before tying him to a chair.
Ben was too confused to use his mind. He kept asking. “What are you doing? Keep those ropes away from me, Lizz. What’s wrong with you?”
After a few seconds, James arrived. “Your work is done.”
Lizz replied to his statement by saying, “Get whatever you want from him and please just let us go, James.”
He took out a paper and asked Ben to sign it. At first, Ben refused, but he had no choice left. “Okay, Ben. Let’s go. I am sorry, but I didn’t have a choice.”
“Haha, you really thought I would let him go? I am sorry dear sister but that was never an option.”
Matt continued to investigate Lizzi’s case while Shen and James answered his questions to help him find Lizz as soon as possible.
“Yeah, I gave her a red scarf. At first she refused, but then she just wore it for me.” Shen said to Matt as the investigation continued.
“Is there any reason that she didn’t like the color red?” Matt asked.
“No, I don’t know the reason.” replied both Shen and James in unison.
After the investigation, Shen allowed James to drop her off at home. They were inside the car when Shen saw a red piece of fabric. This was from the same scarf she wore yesterday. She grew suspicious of James and informed the police.
“What is the red fabric doing in your car? Earlier, you said she went all on her own at night?”
“I don’t know, seriously I have no idea,” answered James. The police could notice the range of fear in his face.
“Keep an eye on him, something very fishy is going on.” said Mark.
Lizz decided that she was not going to let James use her this time. She bent down and picked up her phone, removing the tempered glass, she broke it into pieces and started cutting the red cloth that tied her hands together. Her hands were bleeding terribly, but she finally managed to completely untie her hands. She opened the door and was about to run when Shen arrived.
Lizz rushed towards her best friend and hugged her, “I knew you would find me,” she said relieved to see Shen standing in front of her. “Yeah, obviously I found you,” Shen replied by hugging her back.
“Come on, let’s run.” Lizzi pulled Shen’s hand, but she did not move, and instead started asking questions, “Why is the whole room red? Why did they keep you in this creepy place?”
“I don’t know, Shen.” Lizzi replied, trying to hide her emotions. She held Shen’s hand and dragged her out saying, “Let’s get out of here.”
Shen stopped her and said, “We will but tell me how you killed Ben.” Lizz froze and went numb, she was unable to understand and decipher what she had heard. How could Shen know about this?
“Who are you? How do you know about Ben?” Shen hit Lizzi hard, dragged her back and tied her to the chair. She took out a gun and pointed it at Lizzi, and questioned her again, “How did you kill Ben?”
“I didn’t want to kill Ben. The only thing I knew was that I had to bring him to James, so that he could get a signature, but then he didn’t let Ben go back…he took the gun and tried to shoot him. I snatched the gun and threw it towards the ground, but Ben took hold of it and pointed it at us. He was determined to kill both of us. I had no other way, so I took a scarf and strangled him with it.”
“The red scarf, right? The one he gifted you for your birthday.” Lizz stood surprised because she never told anyone that it was Ben’s gift to her.
“How did you know?”
“It was my red scarf, I’m his sister.”
“But he never really mentioned you…why?”
“Because I left home and him, along with it a few years ago so that I could live my life with freedom. He was extremely furious with me and disappointed as well. I returned on his birthday three years ago.”
“How did you figure it out? How did you know that it was mine?”
“I saw red-colored threads tangled with the shirt he wore on that day which I got from the hospital…it reminded me of my favourite red scarf that Ben knit for me himself. It didn’t take me much time from there to figure out that you and James were involved in all this, because I went through Ben’s Instagram once and had seen you wear that scarf. ”
Shen took a gun out, making Lizzi scream instantaneously, “It was James who did this!”
“Yeah about that. Yesterday, I plotted a piece of the same red scarf you were wearing in James’s car to draw all attention towards him. He grew suspicious of me, went to our apartment, and saw pictures of Ben and I. He is following me and should be here any minute.”
Shen gave Lizz a crooked smile and fired the gun. James arrived at the spot where he was met with the sight of Lizz lying dead on the floor with a gun lying beside her. Just as he was about to run, the police arrived and arrested him.
The next day, Shen arrived at the graveyard dressed in a beautiful yellow gown with a red scarf and flower in her hand. She walked towards Ben’s grave, and sat near it. As she placed the flower on his grave, tears rolled down her cheek, but she was finally content that she had gotten justice for her dead brother. She rested her head on Ben’s grave and said “I am sorry I wasn’t there when you needed me, brother, but you can be at peace now, you will not need to turn in your grave everytime James and Lizz took a breath – you have got justice, Ben.”
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