Gates to Asphodel, Chapter 13

Recap: Corey’s parents had an argument about her and were found dead the next morning. Corey then meets Detective Skylar Adams. She is later adopted by Helen and Andy. Two years later, Corey is in school and meets a friend, Terese, and the class bully, Sandra. One day, two students are found dead and Corey meets Detective Adams again. Corey starts 2nd grade, which brings her face to face with a terrifying new teacher. As you can expect, her teacher does not last long. And then neither do her adopted parents, but things look up as Corey may have found a forever family. Corey moves in with Detective Adams and his wife and learns Terese lives across the street. One Friday night, Corey has a typical, happy evening with her mom, but seems out of sorts when Skyler comes home looking haggard. One night, Terese is sleeping over, but it doesn’t stop Skyler from working on the strange murder case. Corey and Terese get an interesting ski lesson and Corey provides some important information regarding the murders.

 

“Are you sure you’ll be okay?” Dimitra asked worriedly as she knelt before her daughter.

Corey sighed. “Yes, Mom. I’ll be fine. You and Dad should go have fun.”

Dimitra looked up at where her husband waited, bundled up. It was almost New Year’s Eve and she and Skyler were going on an overnight trip for the first time since adopting Corey. Dimitra was a little nervous about leaving her daughter with a babysitter. She turned back to Corey.

“You sure you’ll be okay?”

“Yes, Mom,” Corey said emphatically. “I’ll be just fine with Vicky. Besides, you’ll be home tomorrow.”

“That’s true, Dimtira,” Skyler said. “And if we don’t get going soon, we’ll never get there before dark.”

“Okay, honey,” Dimitra said, kissing Corey’s cheek. “If you need us for anything, I left the hotel’s number on the refrigerator. Okay?”

“Okay.”

“Come on, Dimitra. Hurry up. I want to get going before the snow starts again.”

“I’m coming, I’m coming.” Dimitra rose and let her husband help her put her coat on. She bundled it up as Vicky emerged from the hallway after putting an overnight bag in the guest room.

“Don’t worry, Mr. and Mrs. Adams,” Vicky said around the gum she was chewing. “Corey will be just fine with me. We’ll have so much fun, won’t we?”

Vicky grinned at Corey and the little girl gave a shimmer of a smile. She didn’t like the young, twenty-something girl who was going to be staying with her that night, but she wanted her parents to have some fun. Besides, she seemed to have some kind of protector, and maybe Vicky’s fire red hair would be amusing enough to watch since the young woman kept swinging it all around her face.

“Okay, Vicky,” Dimitra said as Skyler slung a duffle bag over his shoulder. “All the emergency numbers are on the refrigerator. Call us for anything. If she even sneezes, call me right away. Got it?”

“Sure thing, Mrs. Adams. Don’t worry about Corey. She’ll be just fine.”

“Come on,” Skyler said, gently taking his wife by both shoulders and steering her towards the door. “They’ll be just fine together. Terese’s mom said Vicky was great with her kids.”

“Okay,” Dimitra said, though her voice clearly indicated she had some misgivings. “Have fun, girls.”

“See you tomorrow,” Corey said, going with them to the door.

Corey and the babysitter waved as Skyler and Dimitra got in the car and drove off. Then Vicky closed the door against the cold and Corey wandered over to the TV.

“So, what are we going to do, pumpkin?” Vicky asked as she joined Corey.

“I just want to watch some TV,” Corey said. “What are you going to do?”

Vicky shrugged and pulled her gigantic purse over to her. She reached in and pulled out a couple of magazines. “I got some magazines. What’s for dinner?”

Corey inwardly sighed. “My mom left some containers in the refrigerator. You know what? I’m going to go take a nap. There’s nothing on right now.”

Corey stood and handed the remote control over to Vicky. Leaving the woman with her magazines, Corey wandered over to her room and grabbed a book before throwing herself across her bed. She thumbed through the book to where her bookmark rested.

 

“Dinner!” Vicky called out a few hours later.

Corey looked up from the book she had been reading. In the few hours since Skyler and Dimitra had left, she had finished the first book and was halfway through a second.

“Corey, dinner!” the young woman yelled again. “Are you even awake?”

Corey frowned. Vicky had never sounded so rude before. Was something wrong? She sighed and reluctantly closed her book before hopping down from her bed and leaving her room.

Walking into the living area, Corey found Vicky sitting at the dining table. Before her was a plate of steaming pasta with broccoli, a half full wine glass, and a dark bottle of wine. Vicky was leafing through a magazine when Corey entered. She had just lifted the wine glass when she heard Corey approach.

Corey walked over to her chair, eyeing Vicky as the woman eyed her and took a sip. She kept the glass in her hand as Corey sat before her own plate of pasta.

“Took you long enough,” Vicky said, taking another sip of wine. “Nice nap?”

Slowly, Corey nodded. “Where did you get that wine?”

Vicky gave a light laugh before taking another sip and putting the glass down. It was now almost empty. “Don’t worry, little girl. I brought it with me. I have a couple more. It’s going to be a long night.”

“My parents don’t like it when people drink in our home, especially when they’re not home.”

Vicky waved a hand before refilling her glass. She pressed a finger to her lips and giggled. “Our little secret. Now, hurry up and eat before your food gets cold.”

Reluctantly, Corey did as she was told. She watched Vicky drink and flip through her magazine all the while. Vicky never touched her food in the half hour Corey spent eating and watching her.

“Aren’t you hungry?” Corey finally asked.

Vicky waved her glass. “Not right now. I’ll eat later. Finish up.”

Corey only stared at her babysitter. She couldn’t believe Vicky was getting drunk right before her eyes. Unbidden, memories of Andy flooded her mind. She suppressed a shiver and quickly finished eating.

“You really should stop,” Corey said quietly, pleadingly, her eyes focused on her food.

Corey didn’t like the glazed look in Vicky’s eyes. The woman had started her second bottle while Corey had been eating. The first was rolling around on the tabletop, rolled to and fro by Vicky’s lazy fingers. Corey was positive almost half of the second bottle was gone by now.

At the girl’s comment, Vicky leaned forward, hand still clenched around the wine glass stem. She pointed her index finger at Corey and blinked a few times.

“Listen here, missy,” Vicky said, her words starting to slur together. “I’m an adult. You’re a child. You can’t tell me what to do.”

“I’ll call my parents,” Corey said, jutting out her chin. She scrambled out of her chair. “I’ll call them right now if you won’t stop.”

Vicky lurched from her chair, wine sloshing over her hand. Her long legs helped her beat Corey to the refrigerator. She bent forward and leered at Corey.

“Oh no you don’t, little girl. Get off to bed now.”

“No.”

Vicky put her face in Corey’s, her expression ugly. Corey drew back in fear and bit her lip.

“I said, get to bed,” Vicky repeated, voice and expression nasty. “Go before I force you.”

Corey’s face paled and she turned away. She could hear Vicky laughing as she hurried into her room and slammed the door. She threw herself across her bed and began to cry.

 

Corey awoke to a dull gray light. She turned her head to peer out the window and saw the sky was full of gray clouds of varying shades. She groaned and turned her head again to gain her bearings.

That’s when she realized she had fallen asleep, fully clothed, diagonally across her bed. Her eyes flicked to her alarm clock as she propped herself up.

It was almost nine in the morning. Her parents would be home in a couple of hours. And she hadn’t brushed her teeth the night before.

That thought had Corey leaping up from her bed. She had to bathe, dress, and brush her teeth. Quickly, she gathered some clothes and walked out of her room, bundle under her arm.

On her way down the hall to the bathroom, she paused by the guest room door. It was closed. She hesitated a moment and then moved to press her ear against the door. She only heard silence, and assumed Vicky was asleep. At least, she hoped Vicky was sleeping in there. Regardless, her parents would be home soon.

Corey locked herself in the bathroom and sat for a moment in the toilet, letting the bath tub fill with water. She couldn’t wait for her parents to get home and get rid of Vicky. She wondered when Vicky would get up. Part of her duties was to prepare breakfast for the both of them. Maybe, if she was lucky, she would be smelling breakfast as she left the bathroom.

Sighing, she undressed and slipped into the warm water. She wished she had time to play, but knew her parents would be home soon and she wanted her hair to be dry. Sighing again, she finished washing up and quickly dressed in a soft white turtleneck and long plaid skirt. Pulling on her socks, she hopped out of the bathroom and down the hall back to her bedroom. After quickly running a brush through her shoulder length hair, she went back over to the guest room.

Taking a deep breath, Corey raised a fist and knocked. “Vicky? Are you awake?”

Corey waited a moment before pressing her ear to the door. Silence still permeated the room. Corey frowned and knocked again before pressing her ear back to the door.

“Vicky! Wake up!”

Corey waited a moment, tapping her foot, before taking hold of the door knob and opening up the room. She peered into the room and blinked when she saw the bed hadn’t been slept in. She pushed the door open further and stared, blinking, at the still made bed.

Then she turned and ran for the living area. Emerging from the hallway, she looked around wildly until she spied a dangling arm from the couch. Swallowing hard, she tip toed over to the couch. She drank in the sight of Vicky’s wide open eyes, the spilled wine glass and bottle, and Vicky’s bloodied and torn body lying across the off white couch.

Corey sighed and sat down, Indian-style, before the couch. It had happened again. She had hoped no one else would die after she had been adopted by Skyler and Dimitra. It looked like something was still killing the people around her.

Corey sat like that for the next two hours. She just stared at the body, her stomach rumbling, until she heard her parents’ car pull into the driveway. Then, with a heavy sigh, she pulled herself up and went to meet them at the door.

The door burst open nearly ten minutes later. Her parents entered with smiles and ruddy cheeks. Skyler had the duffle bag over his shoulder and now set it down by the door before sweeping his daughter into a hug. Dimitra claimed her as soon as Skyler put her down.

“I have something to tell you,” Corey said quietly.

Skyler and Dimitra hesitated as they were pulling off their coats.

“Corey?” Skyler asked cautiously. “Where’s Vicky?”

Silently, Corey turned and pointed at the couch. Skyler pulled his coat back on and gently held his wife back, giving her a pointed look. Dimitra nodded and grasped Corey’s shoulders. Corey put her arm down as Skyler headed for the couch.

Skyler walked around the couch and looked down at the sight that met him. He sighed heavily and ran a hand through his hair.

“Call the police, Dimitra,” he said, still staring at the body. “It’s happened again.”

Dimitra quickly nodded before releasing Corey and kneeling down to dig out her husband’s phone. Quickly, she put in the call and reported they were on their way. Skyler walked back to them and knelt down on one knee before Corey.

“Honey, what happened?” he asked quietly.

Corey told him about the night before, about Vicky getting drunk and threatening her. As she spoke, Skyler’s jaw tightened.

“I slept all night,” Corey said. “I didn’t hear anything. When I got up, I thought she was still asleep.”

Skyler pulled her forward and gave her a tight hug. “It’s okay, Corey. I think the best thing for us is to leave.”

Corey jerked back and stared at him, her arms still on his shoulders. “We can’t leave,” she said, horrified. “All my friends are here. This is the only place I’ve known. Besides, how do you know people won’t start dying wherever we move to? And your job is here.”

“She has a point,” Dimitra said softly. “Corey will be a mess if we pull her and Terese apart.”

Skyler pressed his lips together. “All right. We won’t go too far, but far enough away that we’re among people who don’t know us. Maybe then all this madness will stop.”

“Do you really think so?” Dimitra asked.

“It won’t,” Corey said. “I know it won’t. But I think we should leave a house where someone died, anyways. It isn’t good for our psyches.”

“Our what?” Skyler asked.

“Our psyches.”

“Where on Earth did you hear that?” Dimitra asked.

Corey shrugged. “I don’t know. I just know it. We can’t stay in this house, but I don’t want to move far away.”

“We’ll find somewhere,” Skyler said quietly as he rose. “Let’s take care of this mess first. Then we’ll figure out what to do afterwards, okay?”

Corey nodded and wandered over to the kitchen. “I haven’t eaten anything and I’m starving. Can I have some cereal?”

Dimitra looked over at her husband with wide eyes. Skyler sighed and shrugged. “For some reason, these deaths don’t bother her. She was eating muffins when her biological parents died. Go ahead. She needs to eat something, anyways.”

Slowly, Dimitra nodded and walked over to the kitchen. “Have a seat and I’ll get you something to eat,” she said quietly to Corey.

Corey nodded and went over to the dining table. A couple of minutes later, Dimitra put a bowl of milk and cereal before her daughter. At Skyler’s nod, Dimitra sat beside her as a knock came at the door. Corey dug into her breakfast and didn’t seem to notice what was going on around her. The body didn’t even draw her attention even though part of the body was visible from where she sat.

 

 

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