Knock, knock.

Monica never understood why Daddy was the one who had to leave. It was all Mommy's fault. She was the one who scared Daddy away. She was the one who faked Alex's death, took a mannequin and painted it so there were green eyes and brown hair and blood.

Knock, knock.

There was so much blood, not like that time when Monica stapled her finger, not like that time when she scraped her knee. Mommy painted a lot of blood on the mannequin.

Knock, knock!

Mommy had been knocking at her door for a while now, and she wouldn't stop. But Monica was set upon ignoring the persistent knocking. If Mommy was going to fake Alex's death, she deserved some punishment. What had she done with Alex, anyway? Where did he go? Maybe Mommy hurt him really bad and he was locked up in a tower somewhere. Or maybe Alex was dead! Maybe Mommy had killed him!

Knock, knock!

"Stop it!" Monica cried, glancing around her vividly magenta-colored room, bedazzled with glittery charms.

Knock, KNOCK!

If she was going to avenge Alex's death, then she must have something of use.

Knock, KNOCK!

There it sat, on her bedside table. She'd stolen it from the garage. Daddy used to use it a long time ago, and he would take her out to the woods and show her how to practice. "Our little secret," he'd call it, and warn her not to tell Mommy because Mommy would take it away.


Monica wrapped her hands around the handle of the gun and held it out in front of her, confidently walking toward the door and swinging it open. With all her strength, she pushed down on the trigger, firing it in the direction of not her Mommy, but a man with no face. And at the same time, the faceless man pulled the trigger of his own gun.

The gunshots were loud, and Monica's body contained more blood than she ever imagined.

Don gritted his teeth as he took fingerprints from the knife handle, grimacing at the pallid body of the boy. But oddly enough, Don only found matches to Alex Cowen's own fingerprints. The boy had probably touched the handle to see what it was as he passed, but there were no other fingerprints to be discovered. Curious. Perhaps the murderer was wearing gloves.

Sheriff Walrus next performed a general search of the area for clues. There was quite the mess in Alex's closet: perhaps the boy had been hiding inside it before the intruder committed homicide. But that didn't make sense. Why would Alex have exited the closet to confront the murderer at the door? If the kid were hiding in the closet, his body would remain in the closet, and there wasn't any sign that the kid was dragged into the doorway.

Pictures lined the walls of Alex Cowen's bedroom. As far as Don could tell, he was a sporty, regular kid, with loving friends and family. There were photographs taken at the zoo down south of Desenville from maybe two years ago, containing a bright-eyed boy with his bright-eyed mother and bright-eyed father and bright-eyed sister. There were photographs of Alex surrounded by his friends, Alex embracing a teenager that could very well have been his girlfriend, Alex sitting on a tree branch with a baseball glove covering one hand and a beam on his face. Numerous trophies and medals from various baseball matches and swimming meets covered Alex's bookshelf. The bed was unmade, and Don found magazines stuffed into the crack between the furniture and the mattress.

Don Walrus felt like he was intruding upon a life that wasn't his to understand. Grimacing, he stepped back and surveyed the room one last time, his eyes narrowing as they spied a suspicious-looking case on Alex's dresser.

It was large and black with a silver latch, and lay unassuming, half closed. Don approached it and slid his fingers beneath the latch. The case fell open, and Don gasped. Inside were knives. Knives. Two rows of them, each with a wooden handle and a gleaming, sharpened blade. Why would Alex Cowen own knives? Unless these weren't Alex Cowen's; unless these were the murderer's knives, who had left them here after stabbing Alex Cowen in the-

"Stop it!"

Don jumped at the noise and the case snapped closed. The cry was heard from upstairs and belonged to the shrill voice of… was that Cynthia Cowen's daughter? He had forgotten to check up on her. In fact, he had forgotten that the murderer might still be in the house. He cursed to himself for being such an awful sheriff.

Immediately, he was stepping across Alex Cowen's body and running out the bedroom door, across the hall, and up the stairs. Don wheezed, his breath capacity shortening as he took the stairs two at a time. He wished he hadn't passed up the weight loss program opportunity presented to him last year. After this was all said and done, he might consider getting in shape.

Don was pulling himself up the last of the stairs when he heard the gunshot. His eyes widened enormously and he ran down the hallway, his hand fondling the gun in his holster as he

Bursting through the open door, he narrowly avoided tripping over a young girl with yellow-blonde hair lying with her hands wrapped around a gun and a bullet in her chest. Don stopped, pulling out his own gun and aiming it around the room. Where was the murderer? Taking an exaggerated breath, he stared wildly at the pink walls and gem-coated picture frames. Where was he where was he? Don peered out the open window, but there was no one. Don exited the room and performed a thorough search of the surrounding closets and Cynthia's bedroom, but nobody made their presence. The murderer was gone.

Finally, he sighed. There were sirens in the distance as he turned to face the girl's body in the doorway. Monica, wasn't it? It didn't make sense. Certainly there was a murderer, because Monica's gaze was frozen with a look of pure terror, and under no circumstance did someone committing suicide look afraid of something dwelling immediately in front of them. But where did that murderer go? They were quick: quick to plant the gun in Monica's hands and quick to escape, most likely through the window.

Oh, the morgue people were sure to have many questions.

Sam was conflicted. Tessa was becoming increasingly annoying and clingy, and he was just dying to break up with her, but she hadn't done anything to him. He had no reason to end their relationship. Besides, if she confronted him about why he truly was breaking up with her, he didn't want to lie. He hated lying. But unless he lied, she would hate him.

It was truly a dilemma.

Sam didn't understand how he got himself into this situation in the first place. It was all Selena's fault. Selena seduced him. He had no power to stand up to her overwhelming beauty and enticing charm and bubbly personality. Selena was the new and improved version of Tessa Spider: better at understanding him and making conversation than Tessa would ever be; better at cheering him up and brightening his day and oh he had to admit the sex was fantastic.

Tessa had invited him over that evening, but he had had plans with Selena for the past month, and he couldn't very well turn her down. Naturally, Sam had gone with Selena, and Tessa hadn't asked many questions. Sam supposed he was lucky to have an unassuming girlfriend, but the problem was she was always there. Always calling him at work and eating the food at his house and trying to have sex when he really wasn't in the mood.

Tonight, he had decided, he would end it. Sam would end their relationship and get together with Selena and all would be well.

He stared up at the small building. The lights were on in the kitchen, but the entire scene was eerily silent. At this hour, Tessa would usually be blasting music from her room as she typed away at her latest ten-page environmental studies paper rather than dining by herself in the kitchen. Sam shrugged to himself and knocked on the door loudly. When no one answered, he knocked again. Rang the doorbell. Kicked the door. Where was she? Sam began to panic. Her car was in the driveway...

Maybe she simply had her earbuds in for once. Sam sighed to himself and made his way around the house toward the back door.

The back door was open wide.

Sam gasped and ran through the back door, stopping as he saw Tessa lying on the floor, head and limbs twisted at unnatural angles, her eyes staring blankly at nothing. He stared numbly. Surely… surely there wasn't… surely she hadn't… Tessa Spider was dead? No. No, it couldn't be. He collapsed, his hands finding her neck in an attempt to check her pulse, but Sam found nothing. She was dead. Dead for some time now. He felt her hands, and they were cold.

Shaking, sobbing, he pried her fingers away from a tiny glass bottle. What was it? Had it been some sort of poison, causing her to twist and turn and die die die die die but surely Tessa hadn't killed herself. She was happy. Tessa was happy and Sam had made her happy and why would Tessa Spider commit suicide and why would the door be open? Had she been murdered?

Sam could not bring himself to cry. Somehow, this was all his fault. He could have prevented this, but he had chosen to go out with Selena. It wasn't right. Tessa Spider had always treated him the way she wanted to be treated, yet he hadn't given her a second thought when he consented to Selena's invitation. Sam despised himself. Hated himself. This was all his fault.

Leaning his head back against a conveniently placed chair, Sam pulled out his phone, dialing the number to the sheriff's house. It rang- rang rang rang- but there was no reply. Sucking in a breath, he proceeded to leave a voice message. "Hello, Mr. Walrus… this is Sam Mendal… I just found my girlfriend dead in her own house…"

As he hung up the phone and closed his eyes, it struck him suddenly that it was March 30th. Tessa Spider's birthday.