This story is by K.J Blanco and was part of our 2018 Fall Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
“Daphne, my only daughter, has been missing for the past seventy-two hours.” Chief Hart’s voice breaks as he looks out to the crowd of reporters and cameras. He’s done plenty of press conferences in the twenty years he’s served Lyra county, but this has to be the most difficult one. “We’ve searched everywhere but haven’t found a thing. If anyone out there knows anything, I beg you, please help bring my baby girl back to Rhea and I.” Tears spill from his eyes and his shoulders shake as he fails to keep his sobs from racking his body.
“It’s okay, Chief.” Chief Hart hears as someone gently moves him next to his wife, who barely registers his presence. Officer Luz is standing at the podium with paperwork in her hand.
“Daphne Elizabeth Hart, was last seen on Tuesday around five in the afternoon.” Officer Luz explains. “She was leaving her last class at the university. Daphne was wearing a red hoodie, blue jeans and black sneakers. She is twenty-one years of age, about five feet, five inches tall with blonde hair and green eyes.”
Chief Hart stops listening to Officer Luz’s description of his daughter. It’s too impersonal. She says nothing about the way Daphne looks so much like her mother, or how her laugh is so contagious. Officer Luz doesn’t know Daphne’s interest in trees or how she always stops to smell lavender.
Before Chief Hart knows it, the press conference is over. He strongly squeezes his wife’s hand and drags her away from the station. They begin to walk home on a crisp autumn day. The leaves have all changed colors and some have begun to fall.
Rhea barely looks at him on their walk home. Chief Hart can’t stand the way she seems to be unbothered by their situation. They reach their house in no time. He all but shoves Rhea in before slamming the door hard enough for picture frames to fall off the walls.
“What is wrong with you?” He shrieks. Rhea doesn’t flinch. “Our daughter is missing and you’re acting like you don’t care!”
Rhea doesn’t show any sign that she’s heard him. She doesn’t speak or move. Chief Hart feels his blood boiling. He can’t believe his wife is ignoring him at a time like this? He screeches wildly before punching the wall behind Rhea. He hopes to get any kind of reaction from her but she does nothing.
Chief Hart pins her against the wall forcefully enough that her head hits it with a loud thud. “What kind of woman are you?” He screams. “You are nothing! Do you hear me?” Rhea doesn’t answer him, she only looks to the floor.
Chief Hart vehemently grabs her chin, lifting it up enough she has to look at him in the eyes. Her eyes are darker then he remembers. He’s about to spew more venom towards her but he catches a glimpse of Rhea’s eyes widening before he feels a crunching on his head and the world goes black.
Chief Hart fights to open his eyes. He thinks he sees Rhea’s body being dragged to the backyard and think’s he hears someone speak a language that doesn’t seem from this world. He hears a deafening laugh before the world goes black again.
“Georgie.” Someone sings sweetly.
He feels something tickle his nose. “Georgie.” They sing again. He wonders where that voice is coming from.
“Georgie Hart.” The singing gets closer. “It’s time to get up.”
Chief Hart struggles to open his eyes. He can see blurs of red rapidly passing him and can hear thousands of voices chanting his name. He blinks a few times to clear his vision but his head is in so much pain it’s making him dizzy.
“Please.” Chief Hart begs. “Please stop!”
The chanting grows louder and louder and the red becomes faster. “Please stop!” He tries again.
All at once the chanting stops and he can’t see red anymore. He finally notices that he is tied against the Shrieking Tree behind the abandoned Lyra Manor. There are around twenty cloaked figures surrounding him, all of them stiller than statues.
“Georgie Hart.” He hears a stern voice call to him. “You have been brought here for your crimes against the coven.” A cloaked figure steps forward with a machete in their hand.
“Crimes? Coven?” Georgie cries as he struggles against his restraints.
The cloaked figure chuckles lowly before untying the cloak and letting it drop to the ground. The woman before him has dark hair, obsidian eyes and skin adorned by many tattoos. She has a scar running through her face and her smile reveals sharpened teeth. Despite her unusual appearance he cannot deny her beauty.
“Who are you?” George whispers in awe. The woman smiles wildly.
“I am the one they call Vega.” She announces as she begins to laugh.
He recognizes her laugh. “You were in my house. You took my wife.?” He asks accusingly. “Rhea!” He shouts but is met with even more laughter from the cloaked figures. They mock him, emasculate him.
He grits his teeth. “Stop laughing at me!” He shouts. “Give me my family before I end you!”
Vega’s smile drops. She quickly glides over to him and holds the machete up to his neck. “I don’t like to be threatened.” She warns. Georgie feels the cold metal against his throat. Vega looks about ready to end his life but another cloaked figure gently reaches out to her.
“That’s enough Vega.” She whispers. George recognizes that voice.
“Rhea.” He calls out to her. She turns towards him and drops the hood of her cloak. “What’re you doing here? I thought they had killed you.”
Vega smiles again. “Why would I kill her?” She gently holds Rhea’s hand. “I love her.” Vega proudly announces as she looks at Rhea like she hold’s the whole world. George’s heart drops.
Georgie’s eyes widen. “What?” He shouts as he fights against his restraints again. “Do you have no respect for me? What about Daphne? Have you killed her?” He accuses Rhea. “You monster!”
For the first time in a long time Rhea shows true emotion towards him. He wasn’t expecting to see pure hatred and anger directed his way. “I would never hurt my baby.” She says struggling to stay rooted to the ground.
“Then where is she?” He shouts again.
“You can drop the worried father act.” Daphne says as she drops her cloak to the ground. “I’m right here.”
“You’re alive!” He gently utters. “How?”
“I told you,” Vega begins, “you have been brought here for your crimes against the coven.” She smiles at Daphne.
Chief Hart finally understands. “I didn’t mean to.” He gulps. “I just wanted to protect my family.”
“Just because we’re family doesn’t mean you get to treat us anyway you’d like.” Daphne shouts. “You don’t get to sneak into my room every night because you think you can. You don’t get to leave bruises on mom’s skin because she married you. We are not your property. You don’t get to hurt me anymore.”
George Hart drops his head in shame. “I’m so sorry baby. I told you I would change. You just have to give me a chance. Please.” He begs.
“A chance?” Rhea repeats with fire in her eyes. “We’ve been together for thirty years. How long do I have to give you to change? I could live with what you did to me, but to our daughter? Really Georgie?”
Rhea grabs the machete from Vega and turns back to her husband. “I’ve lived through the abuse for too long. No one would help, no one would listen. Not until I met Vega. She picked me back up and helped me glue my pieces back together. She showed me the ways of the coven and she became our protector.” Rhea creeps closer to George. “It took us five years but we are at a point where we can leave all of this behind and start a new life with my love and my daughter.” Vega and Daphne stand behind her with adoration in their eyes.
“You bitch!” George spits out. “How could you do this to us? To me?”
“You are nothing. You aren’t worth this life.” She says as she slices his neck. Blood pours down his body as George Hart tries to grasp onto his life
Rhea hands the machete to Daphne. Daphne stands over her father as she throws an envelope a few feet away from him. George doesn’t need to see inside it to know what incriminating evidence it holds. “When they finally find your body, they will see what kind of man you truly were.” She leans in closer to her father as he fights for his life and plunges the machete through his chest “They will see what kind of monster lived in Lyra county.”