The last thing she knew was a loud BANG!
“This just in: The Mall of America became victim to a shooting earlier today when a suspect in a black hooded sweatshirt stormed in and started shooting in the crowd. There were two reported deaths and approximately 32 injuries. The two deaths were those of Jefferson High School’s Jessica Warkovski and Ashley Smithson. More on this story as it develops”.
BANG! “Woah!” Ashley opened her eyes. She was in a foggy forest. Jessy sat on the ground in a fetal position. Her face was wet and her eyes were red. “What the-“ Ashley was in pure amazement. Jessy got up and touched Ashley’s shoulder before giving her a hug. “Where the hell are we?” Jessy’s voice shook; “I have no idea. I just remember a loud pop, pain, closing my eyes. Then I woke up here. Alone. Next thing, you were here. And…and…” Jessy’s eyes welled up and her voice got scratchy, “I’m scared, Ash, I wish I knew what happened”. To Ashley’s surprise, she was calm and collected. She held her sobbing friend in her arms and whispered, “It’s gonna be okay, Jess, it’s going to be alright”. She didn’t have the heart to tell her what happened. Ashley’s mind was stuck on one image: the shadow that hung over her as she was killed. She knew they were dead but whether they were in Heaven or Hell, she couldn’t tell. At the moment, it looked like Hell.
Jessy sniffled and lifted her head from Ashley’s shoulder. That’s when she noticed a very dim light coming through the trees. Ashley looked as well. Faintly they were able to hear; “Ashley Smithson. Jessica Warkovski”. Leading Jessy by the hand, Ashley went through the forest. Jessy didn’t try to fight. The light grew brighter and brighter until they reached their destination. It was a lantern held up by a pole. The pole, in turn, was being held by a woman with a clipboard. The woman stood in front of a large iron gate. “Ashley Smithson and Jessica Warkovski?” The girls nodded. “Hi”, the woman put the clipboard under her arm and smiled, “I’m Jane with the Welcoming Committee. If you two could just follow me, please”. She pushed the gate open and allowed the two friends to enter first. Then, Jane locked the gate behind them and followed them up the dirt road.
As Jessy clang to Ashley’s arm, questions formed in her mind. However, all those questions seemed to come out in the form of three words; “What’s going on?” Jane gave a sigh; “I have bad news, Jessy-“ “Wait, you know my nickname?” “Oh, yes, we know everything about both of you”. “Everything? We?” Ashley stopped suddenly, affronted by a very large building standing before them. It seemed to have come out of nowhere. Her companion let go of her arm to stare as well. Jane stepped in front of them; “Welcome to Murders Manor.”