• tab “It’s all part of the plan,” he said. Lips curled in a wolfish grin.
    tab “Plan?” I asked. My knees ached, the raw spot on my elbow stung, and I couldn’t feel my left leg. The back of my neck was itching, but I couldn’t scratch it or else I would fall. Something sharp was digging into my side; I suspected it was Johnny’s knee.
    tab “Johnny, I’m afraid,” I whispered. My fingers felt permanently clenched into a claw around the cold hilt of the dagger. Almost as if it were apart of me now. Johnny would’ve smiled if I told him that.
    tab “Don’t be.”
    tab “But I am. Please, can we just go back to the room?”
    tab “No. Listen, Vi. You hear that?”
    I held my breath and listened. The silence overwhelmed me at first, but then I heard the soft, whining sound of her snores. Jenny’s snores. My stomach clenched anxiously and a bead of cold sweat dripped from my nose. The dagger seemed to glint in the moonlight as I inched my hand forward; it grinned awfully like Johnny.
    tab “She’s sound asleep,” Johnny sighed, bringing his enticing lips to my ear.
    tab The touch of his cold fingers against my neck almost brought tears to my eyes. My heart couldn’t keep a straight beat, my muscles were screaming, and my emotions tore at my insides like trapped rats in a burning box. Every part of me wanted to die, but I was possessed. My will was gone; broken like a beast of burden. I would never be free again. I would never be free from the dagger.
    tab But as always, there was a part of me that never wanted this to end. The thrill, the danger, the love. And Johnny… I could never leave Johnny. It was insanity. I wanted to split in two like a cell, so I could be two different people. There was no way someone could be this torn between two worlds. I didn’t think it possible. But here I was, aching to slice myself in half.
    tab I peered over the stone ledge but avoided looking straight down at the ground. One more wave of vertigo and I would surely vomit. Instead I trained my gaze on the sleeping form of Jenny, her body curled into fetal position under the covers. Her sides slowly moved up and down with her calm, rhythmic breathing. I didn’t even have to look at Johnny to know that he was laughing silently, with his mouth agape and his lips pulled back from his teeth.
    tab Finally my muscles couldn’t stand it any longer. I had to move from this horrible position. I carefully turned my body around and dangled my legs over the edge. Johnny watched me proudly, appraising me with his steely eyes. I lowered the rest of my body down, down, down until my arms were stretched out and screaming in agony. Finally my bare feet touched the top of the cherry wood dresser. My toes were so numb with cold I was surprised I was able to feel the wood beneath my feet.
    tab I let my arms hang at my sides, let the warm blood rush back into them. As I waited for the feeling to come back, I looked up at Johnny. He was resting his chin on the edge, looking down at me and smiling. Always smiling. The more blood, the wider his grin. The notion should’ve made me feel sick, but it didn’t. I gazed back to plead.
    tab I can’t do this. I mouthed to him.
    tab I love you. His lips shaped the words and came together to blow me a kiss. Then he went back to smiling, his smirk hidden behind his folded hands.
    tab His gaunt face was surreal in the dim moonlight. Stark and angular like a skull, but still fascinatingly beautiful. Beautiful to me anyways. I imagined killing him and taking his skull for myself. He would’ve laughed if I told him that, too. Again he would've praised me...
    tab I stepped down from the dresser as quietly as I could. I had to concentrate on the movements of my body. I willed them to be slow and careful, despite the screaming agony in my muscles. Johnny would rub my shoulders and back when we got back to the room. He’d warm his hands and knead my muscles and unknot them. He’d take away the pain and tension, but only after- and only if- I completed my task. Such cold comfort was not welcome at times like these.
    tab I hadn’t even realized that I was now standing over the sleeping Jenny. My feet had somehow carried me to her bedside; my arm had raised the dagger to a ready position. I suddenly became very aware of Johnny’s gaze on me. My mind seemed to purge itself of all thinking processes. I was left mindless and mechanical, which was what he had trained me to do. It was second nature now.
    tab The dagger glinted cleanly silver once more before it hit its mark.
    tab The rest of the night, its only color was red.