Chapter Seven

Lizzy won’t leave me alone, follows me as if I’m a sick puppy. Constantly trying to look after me. I want to be left alone for a second. The moment I left the bedroom she was there. Trying to make me something to eat. Something to drink. Trying to pry herself into my evening however she can. I understand why she would want to. She’s just looking after me. She’s seen the video.

“Is there anything I can get you?” She asks for the hundredth time.

“No, honestly I’m good. I’m just getting some toast and then I’m going back to bed. Just enjoy your evening.”

“I can make that for you.”

“I’m capable to make toast. Thank you.”

“Yeah, but you’ve had a bad day. At least let me make you a drink. Hot chocolate?”

“If that will make you leave me alone.”

“See not so difficult. Oh, looks like we have no milk. I can make it with water?”

“Just leave it.”

“I’ll go to the shop. Don’t move a muscle.”

“Seriously, Lizzy. That’s enough now. Just stop it. I’m fine honestly. I know you want to look after me, but honestly I’m fine. There is nothing wrong with me.”

“You can’t be alright, no normal person would be. Not after what you’ve lived through today.”

“Well I am, honestly. Just let me go back to my room and get some sleep. I’ll be alright in the morning.”

“If you need anything just call me. I’ll come running.”

“I know you will.”

I went back to my room, and sat on my bed. One hand to eat the toast, the other to load the video on my phone again. I sit there and watch it a few more times. I’ve turned the volume down so Lizzy can’t hear it, but it’s loud enough for me to hear the gasps and screams. I’ve studied each of their faces. Every little detail.

After watching it, I don’t know how many times, I scroll down and look at the messages. I place the empty plate on the bed and stare at the first comment. No profile picture, but named Jules and Louis. The comment reads, “You deserve whats coming”. I can’t believe it. It’s got the most likes and comments. Who is it? Why would someone write that. Most of the replies agree that we deserve to be punished. A few defend us, especially after Lydia, and a couple even comment on the lack of apostrophe in what’s. The internet is typical. Someone is trying to scare us, and instead of manning up, they just hide behind their username. I hate it. I have to tell Louis. Maybe he’s already seen it. I just need to speak to someone and he’s the only one who will understand. I close the app and pull up the contacts. I press Louis and put the phone to my ear as it rings. I wait, whispering come on under my breath. Nothing. Straight to voicemail. I try again, and nothing. Again. Nothing. What’s going on. Louis is never that far away from his phone. I’ll leave it five minutes, and if he doesn’t answer, then I’ll go round. It’s just down the street.

He didn’t answer. The cold street welcomes me like an old friend, wrapping it’s frozen fingers around me and dragging me outside without question. I didn’t tell Lizzy I was going out. She was in her room, and that’s where she will stay. This would probably worry her and she would want to come as well. I decided it was best for her to stay at home. Even in my coat it’s cold. Colder than it was earlier. I almost regret not getting gloves, even though it’s only just down the street.

His house looks empty. None of the lights are shining through the windows. Maybe he’s gone out with the rest of his house mates. They were out drinking today. Maybe he caught up, not wanting to be alone tonight. He would still answer his phone though. I hurry down the path to the front door and knock on the door. It opens without any pressure. That’s weird. The latch is on. I take it off and walk in.

“Louis? You home? Your door was open,” I shout.

Nothing. I shut the door behind me and walk into the hallway. There is a living room to the left and stairs in front of me. I walk to the doorway and peer inside. No one there. Maybe he’s in his room. There are no lights on in the house, the landing is near enough in complete darkness. The floorboards creak with each hesitant step.
“Louis?”

Nothing. I hover outside his room, not wanting to go in. I just feel something bad is going to happen. It’s not just what happened today, but Lydia last week as well. No one knows who did it. Who killed her. Or why? I put one hand on the door and slowly push it open. The room is empty. I pull out my phone and call him one time. Leaning slightly on the door frame, looking at his scattered room. Rubbish and clothes all over the floor, and the distinct scent of sweat. It starts ringing, and then a ring tone echoes from somewhere else in the house. I turn around. It’s behind me. Is this not Louis’s room? He doesn’t answer the phone either way, and it ends up going to voicemail. I walk towards the room the ringing was coming from. The door’s shut. I already have one hand out when I reach it. My phone tightly gripped in my other one. Pushing the door open reveals another empty room. An unmade bed, more clothes. A few books. Nothing out of the ordinary. I ring Louis again.

It’s definitely in this room. I kick a pair of jeans out of the way, and there’s the phone. Where is he. It’s not like him to leave his phone anywhere. A creak echoes behind me, freezing me in place. A cold ripple moves across me, before I dare turn around. Then the door swings shut. Louis has jumped out from behind the door and shut it.

“Did you see him?” he whispers.

“Who? No.”

“There’s someone in the house. I’m sure of it.”

“I didn’t see anyone. Did you call the police.”

“No, I wanted to make sure. It could just be someone being an idiot, I’ve been hiding in the wardrobe. I couldn’t get out to get the phone. I was wishing you would just leave. How did you get in?”

“The door was open, on the latch. That’s probably what you heard, the door moving in the wind. There is no one here.”
“Did you shut the door?”

“No, probably should have done, but you know how it is? I was scared. Thought a clown or something was in here.”

“This isn’t a horror film.”

“You were the one who thought someone was in the house, hiding in a wardrobe for half an hour.”

“You can’t prove it, and I was only doing it test you. Because I’m not a scaredy cat.”

“Really? Come on lets close that door, before you become one.”

I lead the way back through the door and towards the stairs. As I reach the top of the stairs, I freeze in place. The door is shut. I can see it from here. I didn’t close it. I’m sure of it.
“What’s up?” Louis asks.

“The door. It’s shut. I didn’t shut it.”

There’s a clatter from downstairs. Sounds like plates smashing on the floor.

“I know you’re here,” a voice says. “No use hiding. I’m coming to get you, it isn’t going to be quick. It isn’t going to be easy. It’s going to hurt. You’re going to pay for what you did to my boy.”

Neither of us can move. We’re both frozen in place. Louis just behind me. We can’t move. The floorboards will squeak too much. He’s going to find us. My legs start shaking, sweat forming all over.

“Back to the room,” Louis whispers. “Now.”

I follow, both of us creeping along the landing. He knows where to stand, probably gotten used to having to be quiet at night. He leads me back to the room and shuts the door behind us.

“Under the bed,” he says. “And for God’s sake turn your phone to silent. I’m going to call the police.”

I nod, not knowing what to do. Slowly I lower myself to the floor and crawl under the bed, while Louis bunches up a load of clothes so I’m hidden. I can smell the sweat, fags and booze. My heart beat echoes in my mind.

“Hi, yeah, I need the police right now. There is someone in my house. Yeah it’s 124 Cranstin Road. Yes, please send them quickly. He’s here. I think we’re safe for now. We’re hidden in the bedroom, I haven’t heard him come upstairs yet. Thank you. I don’t know. I’m not sure about weapons. I didn’t see him, just heard him.”

Louis carries on whispering, I wonder where he is. It sounds like he’s all around the room, shouldn’t he be back in the wardrobe.

“There’s two of us. Jules is under the bed. I thought it best to hide her. I’m just hoping he goes away. I haven’t heard him in a while. Maybe he thinks we’re not here. Yes I think he’s here to hurt us. He was smashing plates downstairs.” More silence. “Two minutes. That’s great.”

I pull out my phone to check the time twenty three to nine exactly. We can do this. We can survive.

“Wait a second, I think he’s coming up the stairs now. I’m going to go quiet.”

I hear some slight shuffling, and then a load crack.

“I love that sound,” someone shouts. “I’ve just thrown my knife into a door, if you were wondering. I’m going to search that room, and then let my knife choose again. You may be lucky this time Louis, but you won’t be forever.”

How does he know his name. Is he the one from the video. The one in the comments. Is that how he knows us. Is this the boys dad? No it can’t be. It just can’t be. It was an accident. An accident. I can’t believe this. I didn’t mean to do it. It was an accident.

“I’m coming to get you.”

Less than a minute.

“Not that one, maybe this one. Oh hello. I can’t believe you would just wait here like that for me.”

“Now come on, I don’t know what you’re doing here, but just calm down.”

“I’m calm. Just like you were when you killed him?”

“Killed who? That boy earlier? He isn’t dead.”

“It’s all the same to you, though isn’t it. He’s in hospital right now, when he should be at home.”

“Please, just put the knife down.”

“I’m afraid I can’t. This is how it has to end.”

“Please, just calm down.”

“I told you, I am calm. Does that hurt.”

Muffled screams echo in my ears. I want to crawl out and help, but I can’t do anything.

“You don’t need to do this.”

“You would say that, lie still and this will be quick.”

A sudden weight is shoved onto the bed, and then another on top of it. God. He’s climbing on top of him.
“We didn’t mean anything. It was an accident. Please, I swear.”

“That isn’t good enough right now, I’m afraid. Where is the woman? At her house? I’ve been there. There was no one there. Where is she? Here?”

“No I haven’t seen her.”

“Sure you haven’t. She’s under the bed? No. In the wardrobe? She’s in here. You don’t need to tell me, I’ll find her. Just let me do this first.”

The weight on the bed shifts, as it’s franticly squeaks, trying to escape. I can’t do anything.

“It’s over now. Jules. Where are you? Come out to play.”

What do I do? What do I do? It’s been two minutes. Where are they? What’s going on? Why is this happening. I can’t stop crying. Why is this happening.
“You under the bed then? If you’re not in the wardrobe, then that’s where you are. I’ll give you five seconds to get out, and I’ll make it quick. Five, four, three, two. No? Really? I’m going to enjoy this, probably a little too much. One.”

Chapter Eight

I have blood on my hands. I’m covered in it from head to toe. Is this justice? Was it worth it? I found them both. The internet is a wondrous thing. People are so willing to talk. But was it really worth it. They’re not here anymore. They will never be coming back. It was worth it. Of course it was worth it. They nearly killed my boy. They deserved everything. The sirens are ringing in the street. They’re a welcome relief.

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Chapter Six

I didn’t expect to see it when I got home. Him laying there in hospital, helpless. And we’re forced to go home and just wait. And then when I get home it’s there. Mocking me. Mocking him. I had a message on my phone, I looked at it and someone had sent me a video. A video of that bitch pushing him. Straight into the road. I’ve watched it and I’ve watched it. And she needs to pay. There is no way I’m letting her get away with this. She deserves to die.

Her face. Fake shock. She’s enjoying it. Loving every second. While he’s there in hospital. Michael. I swear on my life. On Leah’s life. That I will make her pay for what she did to you. I will wipe that smug look off her face.

“What are you watching?” Leah’s asks.

I didn’t realise she was still up. I thought she’d gone to bed. I was sitting in the living room. I didn’t even hear her walk in.

“Nothing to worry about.”

“You’ve been sitting there watching it for ages. Over and over again. I’ve watched you do it. What is it?”

“Just something someone sent me.”

“Show me your phone.”

“Don’t talk to me like that.”

“Oh god, is that? Really? There’s a video. Why would someone film that.”

“I don’t know. There are some sick people out there. Don’t worry about it. Just go to bed.”

“No. No. I want to see it. Let me watch it.”

“You don’t want to see it.”

“I do. That’s our little boy. Why would someone film that. Give me your phone.”

“Leah.”

“I swear to God, give me your phone. I can just as easily get mine.”

I give her the phone. I know she shouldn’t watch it, but what can I do. She would find it one way or the other. I stare at her eyes, almost seeing the video in them. Listening out for the little moments. The gasps. The slamming of the brakes. The screaming. It’s all there. Tears forming in her eyes, slowly plummeting to the floor.

“I can’t believe someone would film this.”

“I know. It’s just some kind of sick game.”

“Why would they. He’s just a kid. Playing a game.”

“They did this to him.”

She doesn’t answer, just puts the phone in my hand and walks away. I look back at the video. And press play once more. I sit back down and let the pictures etch themselves further into my mind. This is all I’m ever going to be able to see. I look again at the comments and see there names. Louis and Jules. Their names. The ones who did this to him. They deserve to pay. I will make them pay. I press play again.

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Final Fantasy XV

Nearly a month ago, I sat here waiting for the postman to arrive. The package containing 10 years of hopes and dreams. I knew there was no way it could live up to the expectation. For the last 3 years I’ve been trying to put myself off it, preparing for the inevitable disappointment. But as the date slowly became a reality I started to let that slip. It was actually going to come out, after delays and delays, it was finally time.

I started it up, waited for the day one patch. Something that didn’t exist when this game was announced. I launched the game, and was taken into the world of Eos. I couldn’t believe it. For the first time, in almost seven years, I was playing an actual new numbered Final Fantasy game. I was still doing my GCSEs when the last one came out, and what a disappointment that was. I still put weeks of my life into it though.

I’m a different person now. Ten years have passed. I first watched the trailer, in silence, in the school library. My friend showed me it, along with a couple of others. I don’t speak to any of them anymore. Time drifts forever onward. We have waited so long for this, it’s important to us. Final Fantasy fans know how important this game is in general, perhaps the most significant release of the year.

For the first couple of hours, I was loving every second. Yes, the combat is overly simplified, so you can get through most of the battles with just holding one button. But it looks cool. Watching Noctis fly around, swiping. Everything in real time, long gone are the slow paced fights of yesteryear. This is a new system for a new Final Fantasy. Something every fan expects at this point. The world felt massive. Looking at the map, and seeing how far I’ve been and how much is left to explore. It’s almost daunting.

And then problems start to creep in. The car is on rails. Which isn’t a problem, but my God it’s so incredible boring watching the auto driving. There is no point in manual, unless the game forces you. They advertised this as a road trip between four friends and their tightening bond. But in reality it’s watching a car drive through mostly desert, slowly turning at the corners. I know it wouldn’t have made sense to have a full speed, weaving between traffic, crashing into barriers, thrill ride. But this seems stupid. The car is a disappointment, and there is no reason not fast travel to anywhere you have already visited.

The world is massive, and it feels great to explore it, but that doesn’t last very long. It’s pretty empty. There are battles to be fought, items to be found and hidden dungeons to be traversed. But there is also a lot of setting way points, and running in a straight line, since the car can only get you so far, or jumping on a chocobo and riding forward, not really feeling part of the world. Just trying to get to the next objective.

The story of a Final Fantasy game is one of the main reasons most of us play them. It’s probably the second thing, after the combat system, that we look for. The potential is there in XV, but it never comes through. I’m not going to give spoilers, so don’t panic. Some of the characters’ motives don’t seem to be consistent. There were a couple of bits in the game where I was taken out of the story because the characters seem forced. There is a massive tension between a couple of the main characters towards the end of the game that just straight up is unjustified and stupid. It seems to be put in there to force tension in the story, but nothing up to that point builds to it. It just happens out of the blue, and I felt lost.

There are tons and tons of side quests in this game. Perhaps too many, for a couple of reasons. They are very similar. Grab this, kill them, collect this item. Bring it back and there you go. They get boring. I don’t know how many there are in total, but it’s too many. I’ve finished with the game for now, and I have loads of them left. In a way that’s good, but I got so bored doing them. The other reason why there are too many is that there is no balance between the story content and the side quests. I started by doing them as they turned up, and at one point in Chapter 3 I became so over levelled I had to stop completely. The game is way too easy. I didn’t see one game over screen until after I finished the story and went back to clean up. I had to let myself die with plenty of items to heal, just to see if it does game over. It’s disappointing that there is never a real threat in the whole game. I wasn’t buying tonnes of items, I just found them and never saw any real danger. There wasn’t one point where I thought I was going to game over.

I have a lot of negatives for this game, but there are some positives as well. The game is gorgeous. Simply stunning. Running through the world was mesmerising. An amazing feeling, it takes a lot to completely take your out of reality and submerge you into a world of full immersion but XV does it. The fighting is really fast paced as well, which feels great. some of the fights, while lacking in danger, felt epic. The music is stunning, which is as expected from a Final Fantasy game.

I enjoyed this game, but as expected it didn’t live up to the hype. While I know the game was pretty much scrapped and restarted so the development cycle is closer to 4 years than 10, but that doesn’t mean we refreshed our wait. Only the future will tell if this game stands up next to Final Fantasy VII or becomes another XIII. It’s way too hard to tell, especially since it’s hard to distance it from the wait. Maybe in a year or two I will replay it and feel more detached, but for now the game is Okay, but that’s it.

6/10 – Good.

Something I wanted to point out, but not in the main review was that Square Enix has stated they will be updating the game for free. Enhancing the god awful chapter 13, and adding cutscenes to make the story more cohesive. While this is good, it seems like they knew it was lacking and wanted to avoid another delay. For me this seems like too little too late. I probably won’t go back and play it just to see the differences, but it’s nice knowing that when I do go back they will be there.

 

 

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Chapter Five

My hands haven’t stopped shaking. I can’t believe I did it. I just reacted. Didn’t think he was a kid. Didn’t think. He was a kid, can’t believe it. He’s alive, at least. My flatmate made me hot chocolate, but I can’t hold the cup long enough to drink any. I just can’t stop shaking. Seeing his body flop to the floor and the blood. So much blood. Why didn’t I just stop. We were on the road. He wasn’t going to hurt us.

After the hospital we got driven home, the police dropped us off. Louis barely spoke to me on the way home. I think he was in shock as well. The police kept on telling me it wasn’t my fault. I was too busy crying to listen, but he was saying that he shouldn’t have been doing it. But he was just a kid.

“Hey, are you okay?” Lizzy asks as she walks in. “Jules? You okay? You haven’t drank anything since you’ve been back.”

“I’m not thirsty.”

“Come on, sit up, you can’t just lay in bed all day. At least let me cook you something.”

“I’m not hungry.”

“Please. Sit up at least.”

I don’t respond. I just wish she would walk away and leave me alone. I close my eyes and try to make myself stop shaking. The kid. The blood. The stunned silence. The screaming. The sirens.

“It’s not your fault. He was a stupid kid, he shouldn’t have been messing around in costume like that. Not with what happened last week.”

“Still a kid. Probably didn’t understand.”

“We’re not that much older. I wouldn’t have done that, at his age. I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t have either.”

“Not the point.”

“He’s going to be okay. We can go and get some flowers and chocolate tomorrow morning and take it to the hospital. I’m sure he will be fine.”

I don’t say anything. I’m not sure if it was the other way around I would want him to visit me. It’s not like I know him at all.

“I’m going to make you something to eat.”

She gets up off my bed and walks out of the room. I don’t move. I can’t move. Apart from the shaking. I want to cry, but I’m too tired. I’m just going to lay here for a while. The blood seeping into the pavement. The hands over peoples’ mouths. It’s all just there. Waiting like someone else’s holiday photos, sitting behind my eyes.

My phone starts ringing, I ignore it. It rings again. I shift a little in bed, but nothing more. Again. I sit up and look at the screen. It’s Louis. I thought it’d be my parents. Probably worried about me, but I don’t know if they even know what happened.

I ignore the phone again, but it carries on ringing. I answer it.

“Hey, Jules.”

“Hey.”

“I can’t stop thinking about it. I can’t believe what happened. Everyone here has gone out, but I just can’t. I’m sitting here watching it over and over again. I can’t believe it. Why would someone do this? I just don’t understand. It was an accident.”

“I can’t stop imagining it.”

“Imagining? Haven’t you seen the video. It’s all over facebook. Someone filmed it and put it online. I don’t know who. So many of my friends have shared it.

“What? Who would do that?”

“That’s what I mean. It’s sick.”

I sit up and move over to my laptop.

“I’ve watched it none stop. It’s only a short video, but I can’t believe someone was filming it. I can’t find out who uploaded, but it’s been shared over and over again. Everyone is going to watch it.”

Slowly the internet loads up and I see that I’ve got a few messages from people. The first one asking how I am. Another saying they saw the video.

“I can’t believe it. Do you think we were set up?” I ask.

“I don’t know. I thought that, but I honestly just don’t know. It makes no sense.”

“They couldn’t have known how it would end. It was probably just someone who saw it and pulled out his phone.”

“Probably, but it’s still sick. Why upload it to facebook.”

I find the video and click play. It’s taken from across the street where we were standing. We’re already standing on the Kettering Road when the video starts. I’m standing near Louis. Both of us out of breath, panic over our faces. The streets slow down. People turn and look. I turn and push him. Desperate, and he falls backwards and bounces off a moving car. His body collapsing out of view. A moment of silence, and then screams.

My hands cover my mouth, mimicking the video.

“What happened?” Someone asks.

“Did she kill him.”

“Did you see that.”

“Oh my God.”

The clip ends as we move towards the boy. Louis pulling out his phone to call an ambulance.

“Did you watch it?”

“Yeah I just did. I can’t believe it. Why would someone upload that.”

“That’s what I’ve been saying.”

“Have you seen the comments?”

“What do you mean?”

“Is that Louis and Jules? I can’t believe she would do that. I know her from school, she wouldn’t hurt anyone. Why would someone dress up now, after last week. Some of them are so mean.”

“I didn’t read them. I’ve just been watching the video over and over again.”

“Someone should push her in front of a car. He’s just a kid.”

“Ignore them. It’s just idiots on the internet.”

“Someone tagged me in the comments.”

“Who?”

“A dick from school. Asking if this is me?”

“What?”

“I’m feeling really angry right now. It was an accident. I’m going to go now.”

“Okay, if you want to speak, call me. Remember that it isn’t your fault. It was just an accident. Remember that.”

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Chapter Four

I was sitting at home, in front of the TV, bag of crisps in hand, when the phone rang. I wasn’t expecting it, and it was the land-line. That means two things, bad news or someone selling something. I swore as I stood up, and reached for the phone. I was already annoyed.

“Hello?”

“Mr Tylain?”

“Yes,” I answered.

“It’s your son, Michael. He’s been in an accident. We need you to come to the hospital as soon as possible.”

“What happened?”

“He’s okay. He was hit by a car, but it’s all been sorted now. He’s going to be fine, just needs to spend a few days here.”

I don’t remember the rest of the conversation. I grabbed Leah, and we rushed to the hospital. And there he is. Laying there, tubes sticking out everywhere. He’s asleep. Has been since the accident. They say he will probably wake up tomorrow some time. They say he’s very lucky. Then they say what actually happened. That he was dressed up as a clown and scared a couple of uni students. That one of them pushed him, and it was just an accident.

“So what have you done to them?”

“The students? We got statements, and then sent them home.”

“You didn’t arrest them.”

“They didn’t commit a crime. He dressed up as a clown. And considering what happened last week. Everyone’s on edge. It was self defence.”

“He’s a kid. He didn’t deserve that.”

“No he didn’t. But he should be alright. The doctor has said he will make a full recovery.”

I don’t answer. I just stand there looking at the policeman, knowing that he let them get away. They deserve worse. They should have known he was a kid. Look at his height. He was just playing a joke. It’s not like he could have known about the murder last week. He was just a stupid kid. And even if he did hear about it, no one knows who did it. It’s not like there was a video of a clown. He couldn’t put two and two together.

“I just can’t believe it. Look at him. He’s so small,” Leah says, nearly crumbling into my arms.

“He’s going to be okay,” I say holding her up. “They said it was just a bump to the head, that he will be fine.”

“I know, but just look at him. He needs to come home. I need to look after him. He needs us.”

“I know he does. He will be home as soon as possible. We will look after him.”

“Why would he does such a bad thing?”

“He’s just a kid. Doing what kids do. He saw a craze online and wanted to be part of it,” he sighs as he looks at the costume the police handed him. “Look, he probably got this from the attic, that’s where we kept his brothers after he moved out.”

“It is. I can’t believe he would go and scare people.”

“It’s not his fault. He’s just having fun. It’s there fault. They should have known he was a kid.”

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