House is on fire. Family runs out front, you run out the back. When not accounted for by rescuers, you are pronounced dead. You’ve accidentally faked your own death and have decided to roll with it.
I still remember that day. The fire stinging our throats, trying to find each other so we could make our way out. However, I ran out in a different direction and blacked out once I was outside. The rescuers were unable to find me and my family was overcome with grief at learning the news of my demise. At first, I was unsure of how to react to the situation. I wanted to go back, but what if my return would make everything worse for them? Ever since the incident, my relationship with my parents had been strained and it felt like things would never go back to the way they were. As much as I loved them, I couldn’t bring myself to return. And thus, I made the decision to start a new life for myself.
It wasn’t easy, but I was slowly able to start anew. I wanted it to be as different as possible to my old life. I was able to get a good job, buy a house, get married and start a family. But for some reason, I found myself going back to that day. Thinking back on it though, I’m not sure how exactly the fire started, but it spread so quickly and engulfed the house in such a small amount of time that it’s a miracle we were all able to make it out. That was years ago…
“Hey, snap out of it.” A gentle voice whispered, forcing me to focus and stare at the direction the voice was coming from. It was my lovely wife who was staring right at me and rubbing my shoulder. I remembered that we were hosting a big party to celebrate our daughter’s birthday.
“Sorry, honey, was lost in my thoughts again. Has the entertainment arrived yet?” I asked, flipping the burgers and hot dogs that were on the grill. It was a pool party, and there were both family and friends attending. Our daughter and her friends were in the pool, splashing each other and just having a good time. I smiled as I watched them, still keeping a close eye on the grill as my wife laughed.
“Not yet, but they called and said they’d be here soon. I still can’t believe Melissa is 6 years old now! It feels like it was just the other day that she came into our lives.”
“Time sure flies! Our little girl is growing so fast, sweetheart. Oh, looks like the burgers and hot dogs are done.” I replied, serving up the food and making sure there was enough for everyone there. My eyes once again wandered towards my daughter and I couldn’t help shedding a small tear. Things had been so good to me… But I was still afraid. It was a few weeks ago that in the house just a ways further from ours, a murder suicide had occurred. A couple had died that day. From what the news said, it seemed that there had been a struggle between the husband and wife. She killed him and after committing the act, turned the knife on herself. It had been a bloody mess… However, the police didn’t release many details of the crime, so we didn’t know what had led to such a horrific event. It sent shivers down my spine, thinking of how the man had suffered so many stab wounds to the chest. Putting my hand on my chest and feeling the scars, I cringed a little. It felt familiar and brought back unpleasant memories. Pushing them as far away as I could, I focused on making my daughter’s birthday the best yet and started chatting with the guests until the entertainment arrived. Everyone huddled together to watch the magician we had hired for our little girl’s special day.
Once the festivities were over and everyone had gone home, my wife was taking a shower while I was throwing away the bags filled with trash. Finishing up, I wiped my forehead and sighed, glad that I was done. I sat down on one of the chairs by the pool and took a well-deserved break. Everything had gone according to plan and Melissa had such a fun time. She enjoyed the magic show and was bedazzled by the cake we had gotten for her. It brought me joy to know that we had done such a good job. I suddenly heard footsteps and felt small hands on my legs, pulling at my jeans. I looked down and smiled, recognizing them as Melissa’s. She had a big grin on her face and seemed extremely satisfied. She proceeded to sit on my legs and hum to herself.
“Had a good day, sweetie?” I asked her, resting my hands behind my head as I watched her.
“Yes, daddy, it was so much fun! The magic show was amazing! And my presents were all amazing too!”
“I’m happy for you! What did you think about the cake mommy and I got you?”
“It was so yummy, but…not as yummy as your insides would be.”
“Wait, what… Melissa, did I hear you correctly? My insides?”
“Oh, nothing, daddy!” she giggled, playing around with her hair. I was unnerved at those words however. I had hoped that I had misheard and that it was just exhaustion. Melissa then crawled up on me and looked right into my eyes. Usually, I didn’t mind her doing so, but something about her felt off. It was her eyes looking into mine, but there was something in them that terrified me. I laughed it off and just I was about to get her off, she growled and bit my right hand. I screamed and shoved her off, wincing at the surge of pain in my hand.
“Melissa, what was that?!?”
“I just wanted a little taste, daddy… Or should I say, Marcus?”
“Marcus? No, my name is Ethan! Melissa, stop that this instant and go to your room! This isn’t funny.”
“Did you already forget me, Marcus? Doesn’t this voice seem familiar to you?” she cackled, lifting herself up and staring at me straight in the eyes, “You can’t have forgotten little old me.”
I froze as I heard that voice again. It sounded like Melissa’s, but it was a little different. I gasped as it dawned on me that I had heard that voice before. But it couldn’t be! I started sweating profusely as I went back to that moment, the day the incident occurred. I was at school and it was lunchtime. There was this one girl we called the witch. She always seemed to be talking to herself and would lash out at others whenever anyone tried talking to her. I thought that I could help her by being her friend. She was by herself in a corner of the cafeteria as I approached her and tried to make conversation with her when she suddenly pinned me to a wall and pulled out a knife since there was no one else in there besides us. She had this grin on her face that made the hairs on the back of my neck stand. As she spoke, she was going on about how much she wanted to see my insides and proceeded to stab my chest, ignoring my pleas for help. I couldn’t get away as she somehow seemed to be stronger than me and held me in place as she continued stabbing. I kept screaming as I felt the knife plunge into my flesh and dropped to the floor, breathing heavily. I looked up and saw that she was going to finish me off when a teacher grabbed her hand and pulled her away. The shrieks that came from her as she was pulled away didn’t sound like anything human. I survived the attack, but was left with scars and the fear that she would come after me. That was years ago and I thought I had put it behind me. I shivered as I looked at my daughter, who was laughing at me.
“Who are you?!?” I yelled at it, getting off the chair and backing away, “You are not Melissa!”
“Oh, but I am in a way. This IS your daughter’s body after all. Such a lovely vessel. It was the first thing I saw after I lost my previous one. What a shame, really. I had such fun with my last one, but she had to cut our fun short.”
“What are you even talking about?!?”
“Ah, yes. I might as well explain myself. Do you remember that little murder suicide that happened a few weeks back? The murder was my doing, but alas, my vessel couldn’t bear it anymore and she killed herself. Such a pity. However, I saw your beloved daughter across the street and thought I’d have my fun with her. Little did I know that you’d be her father. My dear Ethan. Or should I say Marcus? Imagine my excitement when I discovered that her father was you, the one who survived.”
“No…this is impossible!”
“Nothing is impossible, Marcus. I thought I’d finish what I started all those years ago, but seeing the fear on your face is so intoxicating that I think I’ll let you live.” It answered, moving her head from side to side as if to taunt me.
“Leave her alone!” I yelled, tears running down my face as I pleaded with it, “She’s just a child!”
“Child or not, I’ve decided that I’ll stay. Tormenting you until you can’t take it anymore seems like such a pleasant way to complete my task. Not like you could ever hurt her since she is your little sweetie. Do try not to bore me while you’re at it…” it said before Melissa dropped to the floor and groaned a bit. I ran to her side and lifted her head, crying as I caressed her face. I swore to myself that I would find a way to be rid of this thing that had chosen to plague my daughter and prevent history from repeating itself. I didn’t know how I would do it, but I’d do anything to protect my daughter.
“It’s okay, sweetie. You’re alright. Everything is going to be okay. I promise…”