Susie Flanagan was innocent; as pure as gold and as sweet as sugar was what her grandmother used to say. She was the perfect teenager, everything a mother and father could hope for. She took care of her two little sisters, cleaned up their endless streams of sick and shit, took them for walks around the park, cuddled them when they were tired and soothed them when they were ill. She sat by her grandmother’s bedside when she was sick, practically watched her die -- a slow and tortuous passage from this world to the next. She was loving, caring, adorable. That’s what her parents believed, that’s what everyone in Evergreen believed, but that was far from the truth.
Seventeen year old Susie had a wild side. What her parents didn’t know was that she often snuck out at night and had been doing so for years. She had spent many weekends at clubs, house parties or just hanging around on the street, getting drunk, meeting boys. The other girls didn’t go out to the clubs -- rarely left the community for fear of being stigmatised, abused as a ‘gypsy’ as outsiders tended to do -- but Susie fit in so well that no one knew she came from Evergreen. It wasn’t that she was ashamed of where she came from, she adored the culture, it just didn’t mix with the life that she wanted. The travelling community that she had been raised in stuck to fundamental ideals of no sex before marriage, it was a male-centred world where the job of a woman was to get married, have kids and spend her days cooking and cleaning. Susie wanted fun, drugs, boys and sex.
Her parents thought she was a virgin. They tried to set her up with a number of boys from the local communities, she wasn’t interested. They thought she might be gay -- what they didn’t know was that she already had a number of boyfriends and countless more sexual partners.
She had been visiting one of these -- a twenty-something man she’d met outside a rave, acting drunk and flirty and looking irresistible -- on the night she died. She’d stayed out a little later than she’d hoped, the night had dwindled away and the morning was quickly approaching, in a few hours her parents would rise and would expect her to be in bed, ready to look after the house and the soon-to-be-crying siblings.
She walked with a kick in her step, her high heeled shoes in her hand. Evergreen was accessed through a long gate, big enough for the caravans to fit through, but Patrick Ryan’s caravan was right next to it. He hadn’t been sleeping for the last couple of days, not since Siobhan had been murdered -- he would be awake, alert to the sound of an opening gate.
She went around the back, the route she always took. The park was bordered by thick rows of trees, their leaves intertwined to form a bushy perimeter. The ground was wet; it had been raining earlier, not heavy but enough to soften the mud. It squashed between her toes as she walked, cringing with every step.
She stood on something sharp, gave a gentle hiss of anguish and snapped back her foot. It was too dark to see what she had stepped on, or to see the resultant puncture wound in her foot. She cursed under her breath, imagined a torrent of blood seeping out of her foot.
She dug around in her pockets, momentarily alarmed when she couldn't find the phone, the last thing she needed was to have left it at the stranger’s house. He was drunk and seemed like an idiot, if he woke to find her gone and noticed her phone he might be dumb enough to dial the number listed as ‘home’. She swallowed thickly, scrunched her eyes shut until that thought disappeared.
“Ohthankgod,” she muttered in a single breath when she felt the outline of the phone in her jacket pocket.
She heard something around her, felt something closing in on her. She always felt a little spooked out in the darkness, whenever she woke up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom she usually left the hallway light on, fearful that if she turned her back on the darkness something would step out and grab her. It was stupid, childish even, but she couldn't help but feel that there was something in the blackness, waiting for her.
The darkness was unbearably thick but she knew her way around. She had walked this path many times. For most of the year it was okay, the trees were bare, allowing light from distant streetlights or the moon to light her path, but in the summer the leaves on the tees thickened, blocking out the moonlight and leaving her in blackness.
She instinctively edged sideways; sure that someone was standing by her side, preparing to lead her into the black.
“Jesus Christ Susie, calm down,” she told herself, trying to brush off her stupidity.
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Genre – Horror
Rating – PG13
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