Rise of a Queen

By: Rina Kent

A shiver claws up my spine as I watch the place where many lost their lives without being heard. Death reeks from every pebble and every tree. From the sky and the night. They stand witness to the time everything started and ended.

The moonlight casts a shadowy silver light on the old architecture that Dad built with his own hands. He was so good with them, his hands.

He knew how to snap necks, then fix me breakfast. He knew how to set traps for helpless animals, then brush my hair as if he was the most doting father on earth.

It’s been eleven years, but it’s almost as if I saw Dad dragging a dead woman across the ground only yesterday.

Time is…immeasurable in this place. It has its own metrics and its own haunted memories.

It’s been a few hours since I arrived, but I haven’t left my car. My fingers keep tracing my watch, back and forth, as if that will fill me with the needed courage. I told myself I would get out when I could control the trembling of my limbs, but that hasn’t happened.

My hand is still quivering as I open the door and step outside. I follow the moonlight’s trail, my unsteady heels crunching against the pebbles.

My ankle pulses with pain; I probably twisted it when Sarah pushed me to the ground.

I limp my way to the cottage, then stop in front of the door. The need to destroy it — or better yet, burn it — rushes to the forefront of my brain.

But that won’t bring back the women who died. It won’t bring back my life or everything I lost that day.

I do a detour and hobble to behind the cottage. When I came here eleven years ago, this place was circled by police tape. All eight graves were opened up and the corpses were taken for autopsy, and eventually the women had a respectful burial. However, only seven corpses were found — including the woman I saw that day. She was the last addition to Dad’s collection.

The eighth grave was empty. He was already hunting for someone to fill it and I reported him before he could.

Now all the graves are closed. The black dirt is even darker under the silver moonlight. The eerily quiet atmosphere doesn’t suggest that the earth was flipped upside down to hide murders.

I limp to where I remember the graves to be. Eleven years ago, I stood over each one and said their names. I apologised for not setting them free sooner and promised to shed everything I had in common with Maxim Griffin. Name, habits — everything down to any type of food we ever shared. That’s why I barely eat anymore.

I do the same now. My limbs struggle to keep me standing as I stop over the first grave and speak in a low, brittle tone, “I’m sorry, Marissa Loyd. I didn’t know you, but I know you had a bright future ahead of you. I’m so sorry he’s making you flip in your new grave by doing that interview. If anyone should be buried here, it’s him.”

I drag my twisted ankle to the next grave and the next and the next. By the time I say all their names, exhaustion plays on my nerve endings and I’m about ready to collapse.

Being here is like reliving the past and allowing it to creep into the pores of my skin.

I’ve never forgotten the victims’ names. Marissa, Giselle, Caroline, Selena, Mari-Jane, Hope, and Nora.

They’re engraved in my mind like indelible ink.

I may be able to forget my own name, but I’ll never forget the names of the defenceless women whom my father buried in nameless graves as if they were nobodies, erasing their existence.

My feet come to a halt in front of the eighth grave, and my heart jolts as needles form on my skin.

It’s open. The grave that should be closed like all the others is open.

Oh, fuck.

Oh, shit.

Why…why is it open? It shouldn’t be. It’s like eleven years ago, when —

A rustle comes from behind me and I whirl around.

It’s too late, though.

The last thing I see is a black mask before something slams into my face.

I fall backwards into the grave.

Just like back then. Just like when I was nearly buried alive.

I might’ve been able to escape that time, but it’s different now.

It’s finally over.

The world darkens as a tear slides down my cheek.

Why, Daddy? Just why?


Eleven years ago

Sweat trickles down my spine as I step over the yellow signs.

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