I awoke to nothing but the unpleasant silence. What made it even stranger was that I woke up around the same time Iris would usually come by my room. My body grew accustomed to her forceful routine.
However, on that day, she never came by the room. She couldn’t. No update about her condition had been announced. So, as far as I was concerned, the poor girl still rested in the infirmary—unresponsive.
I didn’t know how much more I could take. In just nine days everyone went through a rollercoaster of disaster. Tensions were high, and an unexplainable feeling lingered within me.
I had to leave Serendipity. No matter what, I had to do it.
When I left my room, the sound of hurried footsteps and ragged breaths greeted my ears. I turned toward the direction of the sounds. The source had come from Henrika. She stopped mere inches away from me.
Her eyes swam with tears, racing down her face and drenching her blouse. Her horrified stare pierced me with an inexplicable sense of dread. The only other time I witnessed her make such a look was when Elena died.
My entire body stiffened—frozen by apprehension as I desperately waited for Henrika to tell me what happened.
“A-Ambrose! It’s Iris! S-She’s…”
I didn’t bother to give her time to complete her sentence. Just from her facial expression and trembling voice alone, I could imagine only the worst.
Next thing I knew, I took off down the hallway as fast as my legs would allow. I was never the praying type, but I couldn’t help but mentally bargain with the all-powerful one to produce good results. Although, I knew deep down that would never come true. I knew what waited for me in the Infirmary room.
At that point, I just had to confirm the situation for myself.
When I arrived on the scene, I saw the remaining players gathered around a single bed in the Infirmary—Iris’ bed. Mixed expressions all around. The only one that seemed to marvel at the situation was Melanie. It was like her expression alone told me everything that I wanted to know.
No one uttered a single word to me as I approached the bed. The other players slowly stepped aside and allowed me to see what all the trouble was about.
The second I laid my eyes on Iris, I nearly choked up at the sight of her; as if something got lodged in my throat.
That was the first thing that caught my attention.
Blood everywhere. It all poured from the hollow gaps where her eyes should’ve been. The liquid of crimson seeped through an endless abyss of darkness, staining the poor girl’s face, shoulders, and chest. It colored the bedsheets and even the floor.
Her lifeless face combined with her dark gaze haunted me. I couldn’t bear to look at her any longer.
She was dead. No way she’d be alive after having lost so much blood. My eyes scanned the room, searching for anything that would help me piece together what could’ve happened to Iris.
I’d be damned if I just accepted the fact that she died. Iris was murdered.
Plain and simple.
Someone in that room was responsible for it. I swore at that moment that they would pay.
“What the fuck happened here?!” I demanded answers from the other players.
“We're trying to figure that out for ourselves,” replied Wyatt. His face was pale. Almost blue even.
“Isn’t it obvious?” Melanie spoke up, pointing her finger at the corpse in the bed. “Someone gouged out Rainbows' eyes straight outta her sockets.”
“So, we have another murder mystery on our hands here,” Salomon stated.
“It pains me to make such an accusation, but…” Nicholas turned his head and faced Darius, who situated himself in the far corner of the room. “Darius, you were not the one that did this, right?”
“I-It wasn’t me!” Darius immediately declared with a desperately frantic tone of voice. “I swear! I didn’t do it!”
“You made the same pathetic excuse before with Elena! I am sure you are hiding something!” Wyatt approached the frightened teen then roughly grabbed the collar of his jacket. “What? Killing her was not enough? So, you had to target Iris as well? Do you enjoy targeting weak and defenseless women?!”
“That is enough, Wyatt. It is too soon to go around accusing anyone without evidence.” Zoey immediately defended Darius.
“What more evidence do we need? Darius has already proven he is capable of murder.” Wyatt pointed out.
“I didn’t do it! Oh, dear god! I didn’t do it!” Darius pathetically bawled his eyes out. Even in his weakened mental state, he forced those strained words out from the bottom of his heart.
Wyatt clicked his tongue at the sight and released Darius.
“So, how should we proceed with this situation?” inquired Nicholas.
“For starters, I am going to conduct an autopsy on Iris. Confirming how she died will help us determine who her killer is.” Wyatt answered. He then wandered off to the other side of the room, collecting all the supplies he’d need for the autopsy.
“You think Caius would be generous enough excuse us from the games while we investigate?” Henrika wondered.
“Absolutely not!” Caius suddenly appeared from behind us. All of us stepped back, startled by the sudden intrusion.
“Were you waiting by the door the entire time?” Zoey questioned the game moderator, giving him a skeptical gaze.
“That is not important,” Caius dismissed the question with a sly wave of his hand. “I am here to inform you that the games will proceed as usual, despite the death of Iris.”
“What? But this is a serious matter! Surely finding the killer is more important than some stupid games!” Wyatt yelled.
Utterly stunned by the revelation, Caius released an overdramatized shriek.
“I cannot believe what I am hearing! I have gone through a lot of work for these games to happen! I will not allow a single death to get in the way!” Caius stood firm in his declaration. “If you wish to investigate the murder, that is fine. But, when it comes time for the games to begin, the games will commence. Understand?”
“What if we play the same game as before?” Zoey suggested.
“Playing the same game twice? What blasphemy are you spouting?” Caius yelled—as if it was the worst thing he had ever heard in his entire life. “Do you realize how boring that is? No! I will not allow it!”
“But, if we don’t, then the killer will get away with this!” Henrika pleaded.
“That is of no concern of mine.” Caius turned his back to us. “Should you manage to find the killer yourselves, you are all more than welcome to punish them in the games.”
“Sweet. I’m looking forward to finding out who did it.” Melanie nonchalantly accepted the situation.
“Well then, I have other matters to attend to. Good luck with your endeavors. I shall see you all for the games later tonight.”
And with that, Caius left the room without a care in the world. The lives of the players were meaningless to him. A murderer lied among us—threatening to take us down along with Iris.
“Bastard. I am going to find the one responsible for this. I swear it.” Wyatt furiously declared. He set up the supplies for the autopsy on the table next to him. Afterward, he looked at us and demanded, “I want everyone to leave the room now. I need complete silence while I work. I will alert everyone when the job is done.”
No one offered any objections to his demands. Without another word, everyone left the room then went their separate ways. Instead of going to my room, I headed for the lounge. After everything I endured the past couple of days, I needed a drink.
I secured my spot in the lounge and proceeded to drown my sorrows with the devil’s nectar. The burning sensation the alcohol gave me as it went down my throat paled in comparison to the scorching rage in my chest.
I shook my head and grimaced at the bad taste in my mouth and the disturbing imagery in my head. Varied emotions swirled inside of me, building up until it burst. My grip on the glass up tightened enough to shatter it into pieces. Shards of glass tore into my flesh.
But, the pain didn’t register.
I merely sat there and watched as my blood dripped from my hand to the table. The images of Elena and Iris’ corpses flashed through my mind—along with many others. They all died in such horrible, gruesome ways imaginable.
They didn’t deserve it.
None of it.
Why did they have to suffer?
“Ambrose?” A soft voice had come from behind me. Afterward, I felt the person’s hand grasp my shoulder. “You’re bleeding…”
I slowly looked over my shoulder. The person was none other than Henrika. She grabbed my wounded hand and inspected it.
“It’s not a big deal.” I dismissed her. I tried to pull my hand away, but she held it firmly.
“You say that. But, you’re losing quite a bit of blood here. We’re gonna have to get this fixed up in the infirmary.”
“No can do.” She shook her head with a stern expression. “As of right now, I don’t want to be alone. Not with there being a killer on the loose.”
“And you immediately assume that I’m not the killer?”
“I didn’t say that.” Henrika stood up and pulled me to my feet. “Come on, let’s get you to the infirmary.”
She forced me along with her. I didn’t have the strength to resist her. I didn’t know if it was because of the alcohol, or all the stress my body accumulated. Either way, I was at her mercy again.
When we arrived at the Infirmary, Wyatt had finished with the procedure of Iris’ autopsy. He appeared startled when we entered.
“Ambrose? Henrika? What are you two doing in here?” His expression was—grim. His body language also unsettled me.
“Ambrose’s hand is injured,” Henrika informed him, pointing to my bloodied hand.
“I’m fine. She’s the one making a big deal out of it.” I complained.
“You’re dripping blood all over the place, and there are glass shards in your hand. You could die of blood loss or infection if left untreated.” Henrika sharply turned to face me then repeatedly wagged her finger in my face. She truly carried herself as a mother figure.
“She is right. We should get that looked at.” Wyatt approached me and took my hand. After a quick inspection, he brought me over to one of the medical beds, then wandered over to the cabinets to gather supplies.
Henrika stood by the exit, watching me like a hawk—as if I’d try to make a break for it. The thought did cross my mind. But, I didn’t plan to put it into action.
“So, care to explain to me how you injured your hand?” Wyatt inquired as he began to remove the glass shards from my hand.
“That’s not important.” I averted my gaze from him. “Worry about Iris. Did you learn anything from the autopsy?”
Wyatt’s face went pale again. When he removed the last shard from my hand, he poured disinfectant alcohol over the wound. It stung like hell—but the pain meant that it was working.
“Well, I learned that the bracelet did not kill her. I did not find a puncture wound on her left arm.” He informed us. “However, her right arm was riddled with horizontal scars.”
“Horizontal scars?” Henrika softly repeated. Cautiously, she wandered over to Iris’ body. She gazed at the girl’s right arm and saw them—the scars.
“Looks like Iris has attempted to kill herself on numerous occasions.” Wyatt sadly revealed. “My diagnosis is that she died from blood loss.”
“After getting one’s eyes gouged out, yeah, I’d assume they’d die from that,” I said.
“No. I believe that the removal of her eyes was done post-mortem,” Wyatt shook his head then grabbed Iris’ right arm. He raised it up then showed us the freshest cut. The blood from before had completely dried. “My theory is that the killer witnessed the scars on Iris’ arm, then slit her wrist so that she could bleed out. That way, we would assume that Iris committed suicide.”
“If that’s the case, then why did they go as far as to remove her eyes?” Henrika wondered.
“That part is a complete mystery to me,” Wyatt said before he placed his hand over his mouth as if fighting back the urge to hurl. “But, if I were to guess, I would say that the killer did it to conceal their mistake.”
“Mistake?” I asked.
Wyatt directed our attention to the cut across Iris’ wrist once again. “The angle of the cut gives away that Iris did not commit suicide. I approximated the direction of entry by looking at the tangential surface of the wound edge. The wound is angled downward toward the left. This suggests that Iris used her left hand to cut herself.”
“Well, that only makes sense, right?” Henrika asked. “Since the cuts are on Iris’ right arm, it only goes to show that she used her left arm to cut herself.”
“Yes, but that was only with the previous cuts. This cut, however, is entirely different from the rest of them.”
“How so?” I asked.
I couldn’t spot any significant difference between the rest of the cuts. Sure, the length of each cut was different. But, I hardly believed that was what the doctor referred to.
“The tangential surfaces of the other cuts are angled towards the left. Also, there are slight deviations from the previous cuts—most likely from Iris flinching or cringing each time she cut herself. However, the most recent one points towards the right.”
“So, whoever cut Iris is right handed?” Henrika assumed.
“It is a possibility, but I would not base the assumption entirely on that,” Wyatt responded. “Anyway, what I am trying to explain is that the most recent cut is far too different from the ones Iris did to herself. This cut is more practical—precise—well performed.”
Henrika moved in closer and examined the cut for herself. A silent hum had escaped from her lips before she backed away.
“He’s right. It looks completely straight. No hesitance in the cut.” She pointed out.
“So, we’re now one hundred percent sure that Iris was murdered. Next order of business—figuring out what was used to cut her.” I said. “Any clue as to what sharp object was used, Wyatt?”
The Doctor paused. He appeared deep in thought. We waited in tense silence until he finally answered, “After measuring the length and width of the cut, I concluded that the object used was sharp on only one edge. The wound has one sharp edge and a dull edge.”
“Something that’s bothering me is how the killer bypassed the no physical violence rule,” Henrika commented.
“She has a point,” I agreed. “when someone gets cut, that’s physical violence. I don’t see how the killer manipulated that rule.”
“I believe that this is a matter of perspective at this point.”
Our heads turned toward the entrance—Zoey entered the room with her usual stern expression. She wandered over to Iris and examined the body. It made me uncomfortable how she made it seem so easy. There were no signs of hesitance in her movements.
“What are you doing?!” Wyatt rushed over to Zoey and stood between her and Iris.
“Examining the corpse,” answered Zoey—as if it were natural.
“The corpse?! Show some god damn respect!”
“Why are you getting in my way? You examined the corpse yourself, did you not? You had your turn. Now move aside.” Zoey demanded.
“There you go again, referring to Iris as a corpse—like you do not even recognize her anymore! How can you be so cold-hearted?!”
“Now is not the time to worry about pointless feelings. My concern right now is to find out who killed her. And you are preventing me from doing that.”
“Please stop fighting,” Henrika stood between the other players, keeping them at arm’s length. “We should work together to find the killer. Wyatt, let Zoey examine Iris.”
Wyatt clicked his tongue and stormed out of the room—not muttering another word.
“What’s his problem?” I asked while I bandaged my wound.
“No idea.” Henrika shrugged her shoulders. “Anyway, what did you mean earlier, Zoey? That this situation was a matter of perspective?”
Zoey turned her back to us and proceeded with her examination. “This is just a hunch. But, what if physical violence could not be determined in this case?”
“How can it not be determined? Wyatt said so himself that he believes Iris was cut.” I mentioned.
“I believe that theory as well. However, we lack critical evidence to prove that fact.” Zoey pointed to Iris’ sockets. “The object used to cut her was not large. There are no cuts around her sockets. So, it is safe to assume the object was long and thin.”
“So, why does Iris getting cut not count as physical violence?” Henrika questioned.
“How can one determine physical violence if the assaulted is unresponsive?” Zoey suddenly proposed the question.
“W-What?!” Henrika stammered.
“It is mentioned in the rules that if a player is caught physically harming another player, the offender will be disqualified and killed on the spot,” Zoey reminded us. “However, if the one being harmed is unresponsive—who is to say they are hurt?”
“Are you fucking with me?! The killer managed to escape death because of such a loophole?!” I exclaimed.
Anger swelled inside of my body once again. I figured that loopholes existed in the rules. However, I didn’t think that someone could manipulate them to such an extent. Iris’ killer managed to survive on a fucking technicality.
“I can’t believe this…” Henrika brought her hand to her face then took a seat on one of the medical beds.
“The fucking coward,” I clenched my hands into fists. “So, the murderer found a loophole in the rules, then capitalized on it. Bastard. They won’t get away with it.”
“To kill someone so helpless, defenseless…the killer must be a complete monster.” Henrika solemnly said.
“And we’re stuck in here with them. Sooner or later, we’ll find the fucker.” I swore it. One way or another, the killer would be revealed, even if I had to find them myself.
Bio: I am the son of a writer. As such, I have a wild imagination which helps me put pen to paper. All my life I have been inspired to write and create exciting stories, which I plan to share with everyone through as many mediums as possible. I am also looking forward to reading a lot of interesting stories here. Original stories that I upload here are updated weekly, and constructive criticism of my work is appreciated. I'd love to improve my writing.