Bree’s hateful stare was practically burning a hole into the back of her best friend’s skull.
Chris threw her head back, laughing hysterically at something Aaron had said. Her thick, blonde hair fell all over Bree’s desk, who brushed it away in disgust.
But Chris, I thought you were seeing someone? So, what are you doing flirting with Aaron, you slut? Bree thought in a rage. She felt a pang of jealousy as the two of them watched a video on Aaron’s phone, so close together that their heads were nearly touching.
It was a sunny, Friday afternoon and the class had grown rowdy in anticipation of the weekend, which was only minutes away. The young substitute teacher—who appeared about as interested in quadratic equations as his students—suddenly looked up from his phone.
“Aaron, please take your seat.”
Aaron rolled his eyes, letting out an exasperated sigh. He smiled and shrugged his shoulders at Chris, “Guess I gotta go.”
Bree felt her heart stop momentarily as his piercing blue eyes locked with hers. She lowered her gaze quickly, blushing. Aaron leaned casually on Chris’ desk, “Hey ladies, don’t know if you’ve heard, but I’m having a bit of a gathering at my place tonight. So, I’ll see you guys there, right?” Though he was talking to the group, his question seemed directed at Chris.
Chris looked to her group of friends, “Yeah, I don’t know, it sounds kinda lame. Maybe we’ll stop by if we have nothing better to do.” She smiled slyly as the other girls giggled. Bree didn’t laugh at all, she couldn’t tear her eyes away from the secret smile Aaron and Chris exchanged. She felt her body grow hot with resentment for her best friend.
The bell rang and most students were out the door before it had even stopped resonating.
“I’ll see you girls tonight,” Aaron said, flashing his perfect, white grin before turning to join his friends out in the hall. Bree stood and waited for Chris, who was taking forever to gather up her things. She rolled her eyes.
Some things just never change, Chris, she thought, too busy flirting to get your shit together on time.
It was true that some things had not changed over Bree and Chris’ nine-year friendship. The two girls had met in the second grade when Chris was new to the school and their teacher had assigned her a buddy, Bree. They were different, sure, but somehow a fast friendship blossomed between athletic, outgoing Chris and mild, bookish Bree. The girls had been inseparable ever since.
And while some things never changed, and maybe never would, a lot had.
Chris had changed. Bree had noticed that Chris was a beautiful girl, even at seven years old. By the time the girls hit thirteen, the boys started to notice, too…especially once she started filling out in all the right places. Her athleticism helped; years of volleyball and track had developed her long, lean legs and whittled her already small waist. Chris often looked more like a 21-year-old model than a sixteen-year-old high school student.
Bree had changed too, though not in the ways she had hoped. Her body seemed to grow a little taller, but remained about the same in shape: thin, lanky and flat-chested. But her envy for Chris had grown significantly over the years. While Chris’ good looks and flirty personality had nearly every guy in school chasing after her, wall-flower Bree had yet to have her first real relationship with a boy.
Chris knew that Bree had a thing for Aaron Zanyk, but did she let that stop her from shamelessly flirting with him? Of course not. Did it matter that she could have her pick of any guy at Chester High? Apparently not. And what about the guy she was already involved with? It looked like she hadn’t considered him at all.
Bree could feel herself growing hot with resentment. You whore, she telepathically spat the words at Chris.
A voice interrupted her enraged thoughts. “So, we’re going right?” Sam asked, towering over Bree by several inches. “I mean, we should,” Sam continued, “everyone’s going to be there.” She lit up suddenly, “Hey Chris, why don’t you bring your mystery man?”
“I’m with Sam on that one,” Bree agreed, laughing inside because Sam had said something useful and not stupid, for once. “It’s a party, lots of people will be there, so it’ll be a pretty low-pressure situation. It’s not like you’re inviting him to hang out with your parents.” Bree could only think of Aaron, seeing Chris show up to his party with another man.
Chris crinkled her nose at the prospect. “I don’t know. Maybe,” she responded, throwing her bag over her tanned shoulder. “I’ll call him when I get home, but I’m pretty sure he’s going to be out of town with his family this weekend.”
Chris strode out of the classroom, Bree and Sam on either side of her. “You know we’re just friends, right?” she continued, “Like, we’re not official or anything like that. I’m not trying to freak him out by inviting him to hang out with my friends. He’s older than us and I don’t want to look like an immature little girl, you know?”
Sam nodded and Bree hesitantly followed suit. Chris had had boyfriends in the past and she’d never gone to such lengths to keep them a secret. In fact, she was the type of girl who would be texting her arm candy all day and giggling like a damn fool, but not this time.
Bree, knowing Chris as well as she did, suspected that something was off about Chris’ new relationship.
As Chris and Samantha gossiped at their lockers, Bree quietly gathered her things, fantasizing about exposing Chris’ secret love life. Maybe she was having an affair with a married man. Or, maybe she had found herself a rich, old pervert, someone who would buy her dinners and gifts in exchange for gross sexual favours. She giggled to herself, imagining Aaron’s reaction when he found out that Chris was prostituting herself for meals at Red Lobster.
Bree decided that she didn’t suspect, but knew, that Chris was hiding something. Whatever it was, she was going to find out.
The girls had decided to meet at Sam’s. Her recently single mother was living her best single mom life, which meant that Sam almost always had the house to herself. Their plan was to get ready, have a few drinks, and head to Aaron’s party. Bree, however, had a plan of her own.
She walked along the sidewalk, her overnight bag slung over her shoulder. The faint sound of vodka bottles clinking against each other couldn’t be masked completely by the layer of strategically placed clothes. It was still early and Sam wasn’t expecting her friends for at least another hour. Bree walked past Sam’s street and into a wooded area she knew like the back of her hand.
She and Chris had spent countless hours in these woods behind Chris’ house, playing a game they had made up called ‘Piggy’. Being back in those woods—smelling the damp odour of mossy trees, and the feeling of rotting leaves and soft earth beneath her shoes—took her back.
“Here, Piggy,” she could hear Chris calling menacingly, “here, Piggy, Piggy, Piggy!” she let out a loud, pig-like squeal. Bree couldn’t take it anymore. Her heart was racing, her chest was burning, and her toothpick-thin legs were about to buckle beneath her. Before she could think to stop, Chris tackled her—hard—from behind, sending her plummeting face-first into the wet dirt.
“Chris!!” Bree cried out, “Chris, oww! You got me, you got me, okay? Get off of me!” It was as if Chris, basking in the glory of winning Piggy, couldn’t hear her. She grabbed Bree by the hair and leaned in close, “Got you, little Piggy!” Chris practically spat the words into her ear, followed by grotesque squealing and snorting sounds. She let her hair go suddenly, letting Bree’s face fall back into the dirt. “Now you have to catch me! Good luck with that!” she shrieked with laughter before taking off into the woods.
We’ll see who has the last laugh, Bree thought to herself as Chris’ unfenced backyard came into view. She dodged behind a shed when an upstairs light suddenly flicked on. It was Chris. She watched as Chris paced her bedroom, appearing to talk to herself. No, not herself, she noticed earbuds in her ears. She was on the phone. On the phone with who, her new man? Bree strained to listen. She watched as Chris pulled clothes from her closet, holding items up in front of her and tossing them onto the bed.
“Oh my god, Sam!” Chris exclaimed loudly and burst out laughing, throwing her head back and tossing her perfect, blonde waves. The signature laugh that Bree had grown to hate over time.
She’s just talking to Sam, Bree understood, but she did say she would call this guy tonight, to see if he wanted to come to the party. She glanced at her watch, there was still time for Chris to contact him and put forth the invitation.
She watched as Chris stuffed clothes, makeup and bottles of alcohol into a bag, occasionally stopping to provide a dramatic ‘Oh. My. God!’ in response to Sam on the other end of the line. Chris finally seemed satisfied with what she had packed, hung up her call with Sam, and headed into her ensuite bathroom. Bree realized that this may have just been a big mistake and an even bigger waste of time.
She started to pick up her overnight bag off of the ground when she saw Chris emerge from the bathroom wearing a skimpy, black nightgown with a plunging neckline that displayed plenty of cleavage. Bree’s jaw dropped. Chris loved being the centre of male attention, but she couldn’t possibly be thinking of wearing that to the party, could she?
She watched as Chris pulled something off the top of her bookshelf. A large, heavy-looking, rectangular board. As she did, something small slipped off from on top of it, glinting in the light before it fell onto the floor. Chris placed the board gently down on the bed. She picked up the smaller, fallen object and turned to the window, holding it up to the moonlight. Bree held her breath, not daring to move a muscle, and watched Chris admire the triangular piece of wood with glass in its centre. Bree relaxed a little, recognizing that the backyard was pitch dark and the shed was shaded by the great trees of the woods; there was no way Chris would see her.
Chris sat down on the bed in front of the board and placed the triangular piece on top of it, sliding it around in small circles. Bree gasped in sudden realization: Chris was using a spirit board. She’d heard of them before, that people used them in an attempt to contact ghosts and demons. What on earth was she using a spirit board for? Was this some sort of new hobby?
Christine Rowe, ladies and gentlemen, Bree thought to herself in her best announcer’s voice, Chester High’s Miss Popular by day, and delusional ghost whisperer by night! Bree stifled a laugh, she never would have pegged Chris for a freak, not even after all these years. How hysterical! Bree craned her neck in an attempt to see more. Chris had both hands on the board now, her eyes closed, muttering to herself. Bree watched in confusion and amusement, almost wishing she had some popcorn to go with the freak show.
Minutes passed and nothing happened. Chris sat there, perfectly still, only her lips moving slightly as she mumbled alone in her room, while Bree watched from her hideout behind the shed.
She jumped when Chris suddenly jerked to her left, as if someone had grabbed both her hands and yanked her. The piece slid rapidly across the board: to the right, then abruptly back to the left again, tugging Chris along with, who remained in a closed-eye, trance-like state through it all. Bree felt goose pimples erupting all over her arms, what in the hell was Chris doing? The teen’s head flopped and bobbed like a Raggedy Ann doll, her eyelids flickered slightly, and her lips continued to mutter. Bree was overcome by a sense of cold dread from the monstrous scene. It was all so unnatural, so wrong.
Chris finally seemed to gain some control over her body. She lifted her chin off her chest and looked toward the board, then her eyes slowly drew upward, as if she could see something in front of her.
There was nothing, absolutely nothing, there.
Bree watched in horror as Chris’ hair began to lift away from her face, as if by an invisible hand. Chris stared longingly at the dead space in front of her face, whispering something and licking her lips.
It was too much. It was all just too much. Bree’s fragile mind could no longer try to grasp what she was seeing, and a small cry escaped her throat. She quickly clapped her hand over her mouth, eyes wide in terror, what had she just done?
Chris’ hair abruptly fell and her head snapped toward Bree, who stood frozen in fear behind the shed. There was a loud SMACK as an abnormally long handprint suddenly appeared on the window. They had heard her.
She couldn’t control it any longer and started to sob, her body racked by frightened tremors. As much as she tried, she couldn’t break eye contact with Chris, whose normally bright, green eyes were an impossible, icy blue. They weren’t her eyes at all. Her mouth hung open, inhumanly wide, and she lifted her hand with a painful slowness until her finger pointed directly at Bree. Bree couldn’t begin to comprehend what was going on and yet, she knew that she had witnessed something purely evil and it wasn’t going to let her go. The last, remaining strand of her sanity snapped in that moment.
She screamed. She screamed until a long, frigid hand clamped tightly over her mouth. Her eyes darted around in the darkness and saw nothing. Cold beads of sweat broke out on Bree’s back and forehead as she felt a hot, stinking breath against her neck.
The last thing Bree heard was a gravelly voice in her ear.
“Got you, little Piggy!”
And grotesque, pig-like squeals as she was violently dragged into the woods.
Priyanka Chaya is a Communications professional by trade. While she already writes for a living, she dreams of spending her days in her moody office, scribbling down her countless idea for stories of ghouls, ghosts, demons, and things that go bump in the night.