• The sun was high on the cold winter’s afternoon. Peyton walked quickly, a tall young man close beside her, seemingly having a hard time keeping up with her pace. Her arms were full of bags, same were her companion’s, as they hurried down the snow covered pavement to catch the bus. They stopped next to the blue sign, the man then letting out a small sigh. The bus wasn’t quite there yet, though Peyton could see it in the distance. Ryan began to shiver subtly, and Peyton nudged him lightly with her elbow.
    “I told you to wear a coat, silly. It is winter you know?” Peyton chuckled lightly as Ryan’s teeth then proceeded to chatter. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw a man waving intensely in her direction. Out of pure curiosity she turned her head to look. She smiled when she realized that the man was waving at her. Peyton raised her hand slightly, attempting to wave, but her shoulder was pulled away by Ryan.
    “Bus is here.” Ryan said, grabbing a bag out of her arms and helping her onto the bus. Peyton never did get a good look at the man, though she had the strange feeling that she knew him. She brushed the thought off as she snuggled next to Ryan on the cold bus seat.

    The ride was long and bumpy. After an hour and a half, the couple were the only people left on the bus, now on a long stretch of road. It hadn’t been paved recently, making it feel and look old. It was poorly illuminated, only a few street lights worked anymore. The sun was beginning to set behind the snow capped mountains to the West. The bus soon slowed to a stop and opened its doors. Peyton stepped off the bus, Ryan close behind, smiling back at the bus driver. As it pulled away, the two began to trudge through the snow toward the house. It was larger than most, though not over done. The house was isolated from its neighbors by a good half mile in each direction. It had a sort of cabin like feel to it; the outer shell was wooden with large beams holding up the slanted roof, Aspen trees surrounding, the steps leading to the front door were made of large rocks, and there was a small barn a few yards away. Other than its rustic features, it was a nice two story place with large windows in the front and a modern, stylish interior.
    Peyton and Ryan finally reached the double wooden doors, shaking snow from their boots. After fumbling around with the keys, they stepped through the door, revealing a large, open room. They set the bags down on the counter then collapsed on the sofa. It was soon dark, and the few street lights flickered on. Peyton turned her head to peer out the window.
    “I hope Emily hurries. You’re boring.” Peyton teased, pecking Ryan softly on the cheek. They had invited their friend from the city to visit over night. The three were high school friends, and wanted to celebrate Peyton’s new job at the rehabilitation clinic. Peyton’s eyes scanned the darkness, squinting as they landed on a shadowy figure, standing beneath a street light. The figure looked human to her, though its head was tilted to the side and its legs were bending in odd directions. Peyton looked to Ryan and tapped him to get his attention.
    “Ryan, do you see that?” her voice was quick as she looked back to the street. Though, where the figure had been standing, there was a pair of headlights in its place.
    “Oh hey, Emily’s here.” Ryan pushed himself off the couch and went to greet Emily. Peyton followed, a confused look on her face. Stepping outside, she took a quick look around, searching the blackened trees around them.
    Emily leapt out of her car and hugged Ryan excitedly. Seeing Peyton in the doorway, she then bounded up the steps. The giddy, petite girl attacked Peyton with a girlish scream.
    “Pey! How are you? New job treating you well? You two cuties getting along? Any new significant others I should know about?” Emily glanced back at Ryan slyly as she bombarded her friend with questions. Letting out a surprised laugh, Peyton hugged her back while replying to her hurried questions.
    “Its been great. The job is a lot of fun.” Peyton led them back inside, taking a quick glance behind her into the darkness.

    The three of them chatted for hours, telling stories about love, labors, and losses. Emily was seeing three separate men, all foreign. Peyton and Ryan both rolled their eyes, as Emily told them how they all were infatuated with her, and she didn’t even have to worry about them finding out, because they all knew about it. Ryan avoided most of the love questions, blushing as Emily spat questions of engagement at him.
    “Where do your parents keep the wine?” Emily suddenly asked, standing. Peyton laughed at her question.
    “Uh, it’s in the cellar, but we agreed not to drink tonight Em.” Peyton said, leaning against Ryan’s chest. Emily smiled, her eyes glinting with the hint of mischief.
    “I know, I was just joking. I’ll be right back. Bathroom’s on the left right?” Emily didn’t give time for Peyton’s answer as she walked down the hall, disappearing behind a door.
    After about fifteen minutes, Peyton looked to Ryan, speaking a bit slowly. “She is taking a long time. I bet she went to the cellar.” Ryan stood, nodding in agreement as he helped Peyton up. The two walked down the hallway, stopping at the cellar door.
    “I’ll check the cellar, you check the bathroom.” Peyton said, starting down the stairs. It was dark at the bottom, so she assumed that Emily wasn’t down there, though she turned the light on anyway. After a quick look around, she decided that there was nobody down there after all. At that moment a hand curved around her face, covering her mouth and pulling her into a pair of muscular arms. Peyton let out a muffled scream, pushing away from the man. Ryan laughed loudly, letting her out of his grip. Peyton stumbled over a box, and fell to the side of it, looking up at Ryan with an annoyed look on her face.
    “I’m sorry Hun. I couldn’t help it. You’re just so fun to scare.” Ryan said, now trying to suppress his laughter.
    “Well thanks.” Peyton said, putting a hand on the top of the box to get back up. Peyton jerked her hand away, feeling moisture where her hand had been.
    Peyton brought herself to her feet then dragged the box into the light. It was of medium size, one the size of a mini fridge. On top of the box, written in red ink, were the words “I waited too long” Ryan looked at Peyton critically.
    “That’s a weird label for a box. What’s in it?” Ryan asked, still a bit of humor to his voice. Peyton shook her head as she looked at the liquid on her hand.
    “R-Ryan… I think this is… blood.” Her voice cracked as she spoke. Ryan looked at her hand then at the box. As Ryan pulled it open, Peyton screamed in terror. The face of Emily stared back up at them. Her face was sliced every which way, covered in blood, eyes stuck in a horrified expression. There were patches of blood where her hair seemed to have been pulled from the scalp in clumps, some sections even showing the skull. Her limbs were cut from her torso, broken in half, bone sticking out of the flesh, and carelessly stuffed into the box. Blood oozed from the corners of her mouth and chopped up flesh. The body seemed as if it had been beaten then chopped with some sort of large blade. Steaks had also been pierced through her neck, poking out at the bottom where it was severed. Peyton’s knees collapsed under her, clutching her hands over her face. She was gasping for air, shaking furiously as she looked upon the corpse. Ryan struggled to keep upright, as he stumbled away from the sight. He looked down at his hyperventilating girlfriend, and helped her up. He turned away, trying to keep himself from looking back at the gruesome sight.
    Ryan managed to get Peyton to her room, and shoved a chair under the handle. Ryan seemed almost calm compared to Peyton. Her whole body was shaking and her eyes seemed to stare off at nothing. Her expression was sheer horror. Ryan knelt down next to Peyton and grabbed her quivering chin.
    “Peyton… Peyton, we need to calm down. I’m going to call for the police.” Ryan looked into her eyes for a second before leaving her to grab the phone. There was no dial tone. Ryan threw the phone on the bed in frustration. He started for the door, only to be stopped by Peyton. She clenched his arm tightly, shaking her head furiously.
    “Don’t go out there. Who ever… What ever killed Emily might still be in the house.” Her voice was jumping all over the place, her grip only tightening on his arm. Ryan sighed, trying to keep himself together.
    “Who ever did this, cut the lines. We need to get help now. I’m going to get the police. I want you to stay here.” Ryan pried her hands from him and pulled the chair from the door. Peyton stumbled to her feet and grabbed him again.
    “I want to come with you.” She said, trying to add courage to her voice.
    “No, if he is out there, he might get you. Stay in here and stay safe. I can’t protect you if he comes after both of us.” There was a long pause until Peyton finally let Ryan go. She watched him leave the room and walk down the hall. As soon as he was out of her sight, she slammed the door and rammed the chair back against it.
    Hours passed, and there was no word from Ryan. She tried his cell a few times, though each time there was no answer. Her eyes flickered to the door. She had to do something. If she sat there much longer, she would eventually get caught by the man. After a slight pause, she stepped off her bed and went to the door. Taking a long breath, she opened it. Upon doing so, she saw writing up and down the walls, in blood. Peyton walked down the hall, slowly, only letting herself read a few of the phrases;
    “Will your skin cut as easily as theirs?”
    “I’ve been watching you.”
    “What will yours look like?”
    “How could you leave me?”
    “I long for the taste of it.”
    She walked into the kitchen, and suddenly a putrid smell wafted into her face. Her eyes caught more writing, this time much larger.
    “He stole you from me, so I stole life from him.” She forced herself to follow the red arrows to the black smoke, which was seeping out of the oven door. It was not fully shut because there was something sticking out of it. It wasn’t until Peyton had opened the oven that she realized that it was a burnt, misshapen arm. Immediately the smell of burning flesh poured into the room. Peyton stumbled back, hands reaching behind her, searching for a stable object. She slid down the wall, deep sobs escaping her throat with every breath. Peyton couldn’t avert her eyes from the charred body of Ryan. He looked as if he had been alive when the oven was turned on, and the assailant had to fold him oddly to fit. His arm seeming to reach for her in agony. Ryan’s mouth was wide open, in fact the jaw was completely missing.
    Peyton pulled herself up, running over to the oven and closing it. Her forceful push, plus the fact that it was burnt, caused the limb to sever from the rest of the body and fall to the floor. Peyton fled back into her room, not even bothering to shut her door. The mangled face of her boyfriend, forever imprinted into her mind. Suddenly, she heard the creek of her closet door open. Her head whipped around to see a face staring back at her.
    “Hello my angel.” It spoke, almost cooing to her. The man pushed the door completely open reveling himself to the terrified girl. She now got a good view of her attacker. His figure was twisted and misshapen, one of his legs was pointing completely to the side, causing him to walk with a heavy limp as he stepped away from the closet. The man held an ax in his hands, a menacing smile plastered on his face. Peyton backed away from the man slowly, until she reached the door, where she began to run. As she rounded the corner, the man pulled his arm back and flung the axe at her. Peyton shrieked in pain as the blade wedged itself into her shoulder. Peyton collapsed to the ground, clutching her gushing wound. The man walked up to her, taking his time to watch her agonized face. Kneeling down slowly, he grabbed her chin with his blood stained hand and pulled his ax from her shoulder, causing her to scream again. He brought her face closer to his, slamming his axe into her other shoulder once again, taking great pleasure in watching the pain she showed. His cold eyes gazing at her luscious, red blood as it trickled to the floor.
    Two years before occurrence

    Dressed in light blue scrubs, a woman pushed an occupied wheel chair into an open space. The man in the chair was named Daniel, he was trapped in a bad fire, legs crushed under a metal beam. He had survived, though came out with shattered leg bones and third degree burns, covering most of his body. Daniel, as he began to recover, was put into the care of ‘The Helping Hands Rehabilitation clinic’ to begin the long process of learning to walk again. He was put under the care of a young volunteer worker named Peyton. He admired her, trusted her, cared for her. Daniel only allowed Peyton to touch him, or to even be near him. Peyton soon had to leave for school, though, she promised him that she would come back, that she would visit him. Time passed, and he wouldn’t let anyone replace Peyton. He had become infatuated with the high school girl, and was convinced that she would come back. Time went by and Daniel went mad with waiting. One day he simply snapped, stabbing the closest human with a pen, consecutively. Daniel was sentenced to seven years in jail, and was labeled clinically insane.
    Killing the man fascinated him. Seeing the blood pour out of his victim excited Daniel. He had the urge for more, though was never given the chance to in jail. Of course because he wouldn’t let anyone else help him, his legs healed wrong, and his face never looked normal again, after the incident. Life in jail makes you think, and the only person he could seem to think about was the young girl that helped him. One night, only two years into the sentence, he escaped from jail and went looking for Peyton. He was walking among a crowd of people, one cold afternoon, and saw a girl running down the sidewalk on the other side of the street. Daniel recognized her immediately. Out of excitement, he waved his hand as high as he could, in hopes that she would see him. When Peyton smiled at him, warmth filled his body, until she was pulled away by a man onto a bus. At that moment, Daniel was consumed with anger for the man, and realized,
    “That is the man that took her from me. He is the reason why she forgot me.” So he followed the bus, arriving just as the sun was setting. He was walking down her street when he stopped in a street light to look upon the house of his beloved, but he heard a car approaching from behind him, so he quickly hid in among the trees.
    “Another person, taking up Peyton’s time, keeping her from being with me.” He told himself as he decided what he had to do. Unbeknown to him, Daniel had gone from a simple crush to pure obsession for the volunteer.

    Three days after occurrence

    “Break it down.” Sergeant Ronald ordered his men, as they reached the large doors. Planks of wood covered the doors and windows, making getting inside tough. As the police broke through the wood, they were plunged into darkness. The boards on the windows let absolutely no light in what-so-ever. Getting a call from concerned parents about how they are unable to get into their house after a trip, the police went to check it out. Seeing signs posted on the windows saying things like; “Stay away”, “Get out” and “She is mine”, they decided that it was a bigger job than just two people could handle. Turning on their flash lights, the men were shocked to find all of the blood; on the walls and floor. They searched every room, finding the unidentified body in the oven, and a woman’s body stuffed in a box. The smell was unbearable and the men were forced to wear gas masks. Finally, they came upon one last room. They had followed a blood trail that lead from hall to the door. Hearing a voice from inside, the men tried to enter it. Not opening on the first try, they then were able to kick it down easily. As the police filed into the room, they came upon Daniel, holding Peyton in his arms. Her face was blank, eyes unblinking. Her skin was pale white, cuts, gashes, and blood covering her corpse. Daniel rocked softly, caressing her face as he repeated a phrase to the tune of ‘Ring Around the Rosie’.
    “You are mine forever now, I will love you always. Friends and lovers, they all fall down.”