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The Face of a Monster (Freaks and Geeks/The Strangers short story)

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Kim winced in pain as she awoke. Not only was her head throbbing, her neck was shooting stingers down her spine. As she slowly lifted her head, realizing she must have somehow fallen asleep sitting up, a groan of discomfort escaped her. She carefully opened her eyes, suspect of what light they might have to adjust to, but found that her surroundings were mostly dark, the only light coming from an unknown source emanating behind her. Locks of her long, blonde hair had fallen around her face from how she had hung her head while sleeping, further obscuring her view and mildly irritating her with how strands tickled at her chin and nose. Alarmingly, even with her hair in her face, she couldn't see anything in the room she was in. It wasn't that her view was masked beyond her hair; there simply wasn't anything to see. No furniture, no windows, no walls... just a white floor that seemed to stretch forever into the darkness ahead of her. As she attempted to reel in her rogue locks, while also trying to remember exactly whose house she had crashed at, she found that she couldn't lift her arm. A sharp, strange laugh slipped from her lips as she became aware that her arms were inexplicably duct taped to the arms of the wooden chair she was sitting in.

"Daniel!" she called out with notable irritation in her tone. "Daniel, what the hell? Get this shit offa me!"

Kim was almost all at once irate; her boyfriend knew she wasn't into sex games, and S&M was definitely out of the question. She grunted, anger molding her face as she tried to break free of her restraints, and soon realized that her ankles were bound to the wooden chair as well.

"Daniel!" she yelled out again as a shadow appeared in the light source behind her, casting a long, distorted silhouette in front of the blonde. "This isn't funny!" She attempted to turn in her seat to see her boyfriend and give him a glare, but the bright light was too powerful. It was abrasive, harsh... blinding. "Jesus!" she breathed contemptuously, an enraged pain flickering across her face as she spun her head back around and squeezed her eyes shut.

"No Daniel here," a female voice stated, the increasing volume alerting Kim to the fact that the person behind her was getting closer. She could've sworn she'd heard the voice before, she just wasn't sure where. It was a soft tone, almost hushed, and completely void of any emotion, but there was a vague familiarity about it. "You've regressed back that far, huh?"

"Regressed?" Kim spat back with venom in her voice. The word was, surprisingly, not foreign to the girl. Ever since burying the hatchet with Lindsay, Kim found that she was learning new things all the time thanks to her brainy friend, including the fact that she wasn't exactly the dumb blonde everyone thought she was. "Where is Daniel? Get me the hell outta this chair! And who the fuck are y-" Her words stopped short once the figure came into her line of sight.

The woman was an average height from what Kim could tell, but she didn't have anything to truly judge her stature by and she was horrible at guessing measurements. What Kim could clearly see was that the mystery woman had long, blonde hair that ran down well passed her shoulders, wore tight, dark blue jeans and a purple blouse under... under a green army jacket that looked very, very familiar to Kim. It had to be Lindsay's jacket, there was no doubt in her mind, but Kim was suddenly too terrified to ask the woman how she got it. On her face, the woman wore an unsettling mask unlike anything Kim had ever seen before. A mask that seemed simplistic at a quick glance, but with features that truly dipped into the realm of the sinister upon further examination. It was supposed to be of a female face, but the characteristics were all exaggerated to some grotesque extreme of nightmarish imagination. Eyes that were too large, with egg-shaped irises that barely left room for white on either side. A button nose, an open-mouth grin that was too small with smile lines that extended passed where the lips ended... all of the faucets spread across an oblong, peach-colored face with rosy cheeks. Kim's eyes kept drifting back to the smile. Unequivocally, it was the worst of all... and it leered at her like a dead imitation of a cheerful expression. Overall, it was an unrealistic expectation of the beauty a woman was supposed to hold. A dollface. The word kept repeating in her head for a few fleeting seconds, as if she had figured out a key to a secret message.

More than the mask, it was what the girl carried that terrified Kim. In the masked woman's right hand, being held almost with a sense of negligence with how the thing dangled loosely from her fingers, was a large, blood-covered kitchen knife. The red, wet coating shone in the light when it hit the surface just right, drops sliding off the end point and hitting the white floor with a sick pitter-patter of reality, as if to emphasize what was being seen wasn't some kind of joke.

As the woman made her way closer to the bound blonde, taking one small, slow step at a time, Kim noticed something else that instantly brought her to tears- there were long, thin sprays of blood all over the jacket, and a few on the mask.

"Lindsay... is that Lindsay's blood?" Kim squeaked out in a voice that barely rose above a whisper, tears beginning to stream down her face and pelt her shirt. "What did you do to her?"

The woman looked down briefly, examining her clothing before touching a rather heavily stained portion of the jacket, her fingers leaving a red smear as they traced the fresh crimson line. She lifted her gaze back to Kim's terrified, teary eyes and shook her head. "This blood is your stepfather's..." she spoke, continuing to idly play with the gore.

A small, indescribable sound escaped Kim at the twisted revelation. She had never liked her stepfather, and hated him on most occasions, but... she never wished to see lines of his blood decorating a piece of clothing like abstract art, either.

"...and some of it's your mother's," the masked woman added nonchalantly.

The words, the epiphany that some of the blood belonged to Cookie, her own mother, caused a flood of repressed memories to flow through Kim's mind. Images of her stepfather and mother, laying in expanding pools of their own blood, flashed in her head in gory detail. The cuts, the gashes, the slashed throats, the shocked, pained expressions permanently etched on their faces in death. And then there were the sounds. The screams of agony, the gurgles and death rattles of her parents choking on their own blood. These memories, now unlocked, would haunt Kim for the rest of her life... however short it may turn out to be. She may have considered her mother a psycho hag most of the time, but she was her psycho hag, and she always loved her deep down. Kim tried to conjure up good memories of her mother, memories of days they would spend together listening to music as they did things together around the house, rare occasions where they would open up to one another, the unique moments where they had an actual mother-daughter relationship. But her efforts were thwarted by the image of a bloody, dead Cookie flaring into her cognitive at a faster rate than she could counter it.

"No," the desolate, broken girl finally cried out, trying desperately not to fall into hysterics at the horrible scenes repeating in her head. "No!" she repeated as a torrid of tears twisted her face and anguish overtook her.

The masked woman began to giggle, menacingly holding her knife between both hands and twirling it around. "Did you a favor," she boasted, almost in a sing-song voice. "They both had it coming. Don't you remember?"

Fear wracked through her entire body, but a fierce look of defiance spread firm across her face. She was both terrified and angry at the same time, scared for her life yet willing to sacrifice it just to take out the bitch that did this to her family.

Family.

The word repeated in Kim's head and suddenly sent her into a frenzied state of mind and overrode her grief and concern of her own well-being. Her household was a family of four and only three had been accounted for. "Chip," she said through returning sobs, not even realizing she had begun to cry again. "Please don't hurt my brother, Chip; he's already been through enough." If there was any family member Kim could swear she cared for unconditionally, it was her older brother. He may not have always made the best decisions, nor had the best of luck, but even after the accident that caused his hydrocephalus to develop and forced him to become housebound, the two siblings never lost their closeness. In a household full of family drama and nightly fights, Chip was always there for Kim and she was there for him. Envisioning anything even remotely bad happening to him was killing her on the inside.

The woman, who had proceeded to wipe the globs of congealing blood from the kitchen blade onto the sleeves of her jacket, let her hands drop to her sides upon hearing Kim's plea. The knife dangerously skimmed against her thigh but did not even cut her jeans as she leaned her head back and released a long, arduous sigh. "Your memory really has regressed. Chip's..." Dollface's voice faded, as if she was hesitant to continue. "Chip died six months ago. You're really bein' a drag, you know that?"

Kim had to believe the woman was lying about Chip. The way her demeanor changed, the break in her speech... Kim simply had to believe it was a lie. But, in her mind, she had to ask why the woman would lie about something like that. The horrifying truth was there was no reason, and the lack of one put a fatal crack in Kim's disbelief of her words.

Dead. Her whole family was dead and Kim couldn't cry anymore or scream out her heartbreak because she felt as if she had no air left in her lungs, like she had been punched in the stomach and left both breathless and paralyzed. Defeated, Kim sank into her wooden prison, looking as if all the life had been drained from her, and, in a sense, it had been. She knew that her fate was going to be the same as her stepfather's... as her mother's... as Chip's. Kim once again tightly shut her eyes, wanting nothing more than for all of this to be a nightmare. "Why are you doing this? Why don't you just kill me already?" she questioned in a broken voice. The hitch in her throat was all but overbearing in its interference with her ability to talk.

There was no response to her questioning, but Kim knew the other woman was still there, silently standing in front of her. She wouldn't open her eyes again, she couldn't. The bloodied knife in the woman's hand was frightening, her mask's silent, blank stare was hideous, but the fact that she could taunt Kim with loss, seeming to bask in the act of murder, was beyond horrifying. Seconds passed and felt like they turned to minutes... then hours. The stagnation was its own form of torture and the continued silence drove her to fear what she wasn't seeing over what she might. And so, against her better judgement, Kim slowly opened her eyes again. The sight she was greeted with was the dollface mask, mere inches from her own face, and the bloodied knife slicing down in a violent, fluid swing. Almost inaudibly, it stabbed into the wooden arm of the chair Kim was tied to and hit flush against the side of her hand.

Kim screamed, completely incapable of stopping herself, and attempted to flinch back from the woman, from the knife, but the back of the chair quickly reminded her of her predicament and lack of mobility. Her face twisted in dread; unique features stretched and contorted in a backlash of panic.

"You want to know why I'm doing this?" the masked woman asked, tilting her head to the side as she did so. Tufts of her long, blonde hair fell from her shoulder with the action, dangling in the air while it appeared as if the woman was toying with her bound hostage.

The dread coursing through Kim's veins was too strong to allow her to think clearly, to even answer the question asked of her if she wanted to. All she could do was breath in quick, panicked breaths as she stared, wide-eyed, at the person whose face was hidden behind a mocking sheet of plastic.

"Because you're trying to ruin everything!" the woman finally revealed in a loud scream, much to the bewilderment of her scared captive. "I've been planning this for a looong time and I will not let you get in my way!"

"Wha... what?" Kim responded in almost a whisper, too lost in trying to understand the meaning behind the woman's words to realize she could have uncovered who her captor was from how her true voice came out in her scream.

"First, I'm going to destroy you... then I'm going to kill you," Dollface threatened, seemingly ignoring Kim's reply. "You've called out for that pathetic ex, cried over worthless parents and even worried about a backstabbing bitch!" the masked woman spat with ferocity in her voice. She tore the knife from the chair arm, splitting the wood and sending small splinters in every direction, before continuing in a softer tone. "The only thing you've done right is mourn the one loss that matters... the one that started all of this."

"Fuck you!" Kim yelled with a tinge of laughter in her voice and a crazed smile on her face, feeling as if she was losing her mind with the rush of emotions and feelings her brain was shifting through at lightning speed. "You can't destroy me anymore than you already have! You killed my fucking family!"

"Not all of them," Dollface said with a giggle, once again playing with the knife in her hands. "Chip died six months ago." She repeated the information she had reveled earlier, but this time it seemed to sink in for Kim.

"Shut up." Though she didn't know why, hearing how long ago her brother had died made Kim want to curl in on herself as a wave of guilt crashed over her.

"You remember, right?" Dollface continued to antagonize, slowly beginning to walk a circle around her hostage. "Oh, of course not... you were too busy following the Dead on tour when your brother needed you by his side the most. And then things just continued to get worse for you. With your mother, with your stepfather, with Daniel, with Lindsay, with-"

"I said shut up!" Kim called out again, but buried memories were already digging their way back into her consciousness. A daze seemed to overcome her and suddenly the blonde felt as if she experiencing everything from outside of her body. All she could do was watch in awe as her hidden consciousness came to life, playing out like a movie in front of her.

The first half of her 1981 summer vacation was the last time Kim would have any kind of enjoyment in life for a while. She spent that time appreciating being single, not having to keep an ever-watchful eye on her cheating mess of an ex, Daniel Desario, and doing little things she had wanted to for quite a while...  like stealing makeup from the big Rite Aid just off of 19 Mile Road by stuffing her pockets as full as she could.  The first two and a half weeks of July were spent with her best friend, Lindsay Weir, and a couple of their school's biggest Deadheads as they drove cross country to follow the Grateful Dead on tour, culminating in nine shows in total. While Kim wasn't expecting any sort of warm welcome upon her return home, what she walked into was beyond imagination. Even though her ride had left minutes earlier, Kim took her time simply staring at her house from a distance before finally gaining the nerve to go home, to walk in the front door and face the music that was sure to come. As soon as she set foot on her yard though, she was greeted with the sight of her parents hastily leaving the house. Her stepfather was dressed in a suit; it was ill-fitting, but still nicer than anything she'd ever seen him in before, and her mother was wearing a black dress that covered her shoulders and ran down just passed her knees, a veiled, black, floppy profile hat drooping over her head and covering half of her face.

"Well look who decided to come home," her stepfather remarked, a sour frown scrawled across his face and an undeniable sneer in his voice. He continued to guide Cookie to his run-down truck, an arm slung over her shoulders.

His spiteful tone immediately put Kim on the defensive, and she replied without thinking of the impact her words might have. "Who died? One of your alcoholic poker buddies?"

While the words instantly put a look of anger on her stepfather's face, it was her mother who broke free from his hug and slapped her daughter across the face as hard as she could.

In that moment, all Kim could hear was the sound of her mothers skin colliding with her own, and it was the loudest thing she had ever heard. She fell back, almost tripping over herself, and instantly cradled the cheek her mother struck, tears welling in her eyes.

"You little tart!" Cookie screeched, throwing her hands up. "Show some respect! Chip's dead for chrissakes! If you were home, if you were there, then maybe..." Her face shifted at her own words and she covered her mouth with her hand, instantly beginning to weep.

Cupping her face in her hand, Kim's building look of anger quickly fell to anguish. The news of her brother's passing was dropped on her like a ton of bricks that hurt worse than her mother's slap ever could. It felt like the planet had suddenly stopped spinning. "What- what do you mean? What happened to Chip?"

The duo ignored the girl's cry for answers, Cookie appearing to grow more and more angry, cursing her daughter's name aloud as her stepfather ushered her into the passenger seat, all the while whispering pleas for her to ignore her daughter and assuring that the girl didn't matter. After he closed the door, he looked at a crying Kim, still begging to be told what was going on, and pointed an accusatory finger in her direction.

"I hope wherever you were was worth it, girly, 'cause your brother might still be alive if you weren't so selfish." He looked at her for a moment longer, watching her break down even more, before he waved a dismissive hand in her direction. "This day's already bad enough, an' we don't need you makin' it no worse! We're gonna be late to the funeral dealin' with your nonsense."

"C-Chip's funeral?" Kim asked, tears clouding her vision as hysteria tore at her with intensity, making her feel as if her world had turned upside down in a matter of moments. "I need to come, I need to be there." She made her way towards the vehicle, but the look on her stepfather's face read that he had other ideas.

"Good luck gettin' there," he yelled, slamming the door shut and locking it instantly.

Kim pulled up on the handle frantically, but to no avail. A scream of defeat lingered in her throat, threatening to escape at any moment as she desperately tried to understand why this was all happening, why she was being punished for something she didn't do. "No, please!" Kim begged as the truck's engine weakly sputtered to life.

Alone in her misery, all Kim could do was watch the truck leave before she fell to her knees, ignoring the pain of rocks digging into her legs as she let the agony consume her. She stayed there, crying and screaming, for what felt like hours before finally mustering the strength to carry herself inside and remove herself from the sights of her nosy, gawking neighbors. Later, she would learn that, in a moment of imbalance brought on by his hydrocephalus, Chip likely fell and hit his head on the corner of the coffee table in the living room, connecting hard enough to knock himself out, fracture his skull and trigger a brain aneurysm. He laid there for hours and eventually bled to death, not being found until his mother returned home from work. The only solace the doctors could give the family was that he went peacefully, not feeling any pain from the hit or the bleed after he was unconscious.

Chip's death changed everyone in the household, and none for the better. Cookie never recovered from the loss, becoming more introverted every day to the point of losing her job and obsessing over everything Chip last touched being left exactly as he had placed it. She withdrew not just from life outside of her home, but inside as well, ignoring her daughter except to occasionally use her as a mental and emotional punching bag. When things became very tense between them, Cookie had no qualms stating that 'the wrong child died' and Kim was 'a mistake to begin with'. Her changed demeanor wasn't just reserved for her daughter, though. Cookie had detached herself from any sort of emotional or sexual relationship with her husband, even recoiling from a rare loving touch from the man. It put an additional amount of stress and pressure on an already-fragile marriage, but neither party were willing to seek a divorce.

For Kim's stepfather, the changes were just as severe, but for different reasons. He knew how much the loss of her brother affected his stepdaughter and how much she would beat herself up over not being there for him. He weaponized her vulnerability, bringing it up regularly when the two argued to quickly and efficiently shut the girl down and 'win' the argument. Shortly after Kim's senior year of high school began, her stepfather began to act very differently towards her. It started small, sometimes with uncharacteristic compliments of her appearance when the two were not at odds, and other times by sharing dirty jokes that he would've never spoken to her before. It escalated when his compliments turned inappropriate and included sexual advances and offers. He began buying her pieces of clothing - skimpy pieces of lingerie and thin, see-through shirts he insisted should be worn without a bra. The man even went as far as asking her to model his gifts to her. Kim was beyond creeped out with the shift in attitude and unwanted attention & presents, declining to either accept or showcase them for him. The night he ran his hand up her thigh during dinner, under the table as the two sat opposite Cookie, Kim made a scene and called him out for it. Instead of defending her daughter, Kim's mother blamed her for her stepfather's advances, calling her every derogatory word she could think of and insinuating that she always knew Kim was not far from being a 'working girl' and she was already a 'goddamn little slut'. Her stepfather, surprisingly, didn't deny the accusations, blaming his actions on the lack of attention and affection he was receiving from Cookie. He was kicked out of the house for a week. One single week. When he came back, it didn't take long for him to resume his reprehensible suggestions.

Kim never had a chance to properly grieve with support from the loss of her brother. She was too busy trying to just survive in a house of horrors. Both of her parents' changes fell on her in different ways, and she had to avoid the repercussions at all times. After the scene caused when her stepfather was exposed, she knew there wasn't anyone in her home she could confide in, and her situation outside of it was just as isolated and lonely. Her group of friends had fallen apart during the summer and the ensuing first months of the new school year. Though they were known for having a tumultuous, on-again, off-again relationship, Kim and Daniel never started dating again after their breakup at the end of her junior year and, by the end of that summer, she'd found out that he had moved on and was involved in a relationship with someone else. Other friends, such as Ken and Nick, had lost contact with the group entirely. As he fell in love with his band-geek girlfriend and invested in her interests, Ken left his old habits and friends behind. Nick had been shipped off to some segment of the military during the summer. It wasn't exactly a surprise to anyone considering his father had threatened him with the action for years if his son didn't change his life around by the age of eighteen. The day of Nick's birthday, his father drove him down to the local recruitment office and forced him to sign up. Because of Nick's father's ties and influence, he was sent to basic training within a month and no one in the group had heard from him since. On the night she called out her stepfather, Kim ran from her house and ended up in the one spot she used to call a home away from home: Daniel's house. Upon entering his room, though, she was shocked to find he was in bed with his new sweetheart... who also just so happened to be Kim's best friend: Lindsay Weir. They were dead to her after that, and she didn't even stay long enough for either to try to blabber out an excuse or reason why they had been sneaking around behind her back and keeping her in the dark about their relationship. Things were just as bad for Kim at school. Once the two felt the cat was out of the bag, Daniel and Lindsay went public with their relationship, and suddenly news of the new item spread like mad across McKinley high. Most students gossiped about it while Kim was well within earshot. She turned to the few other friends in school for help and advice about her home situation, namely those within her own group of female bullies. But she soon found that that was a bad idea when rumors began circulating that she had broken up with Daniel to become a homewrecker, sleeping with her stepfather in an attempt to drive her mother insane. Chip's unfortunate death was somehow twisted into a suicide that was brought about from the family turmoil and shame. No one at school looked at Kim the same after that, and many began to bully her on the matter, feeling as if it was their chance to turn the tables on their former oppressor.

"Having fun strolling down memory lane?"

Dollface's words brought Kim out of her painful memories and back to her current situation. The scenery faded back to the hollow abyss around her, the voices she had heard with clarity were shrinking to nothing and the only thing that stayed with her was the anger that remained from all she had been through. It spread through her entire being like wildfire, igniting her face in a flash of pure hated for everyone she had thought of. The masked woman was right. Daniel was pathetic, her mother and stepfather were useless, and Lindsay was most definitely a backstabbing bitch. "How? Why... why couldn't I remember any of that until you said something?"

"Because you're weak," the masked woman said in a very matter-of-fact manner, once again entering Kim's line of sight. She was fiddling with the large kitchen knife anew, using it to pick dirt and dried blood from under her nails. "You didn't want to remember those things; it wasn't that you couldn't. You buried everything because you couldn't deal with the sight of your folks, dead on the floor. But now we can agree that I did you a favor, yes?"

The gory images once again flashed in Kim's mind, but this time she wasn't scared or saddened by them. But, she wasn't happy either, and something told her that was what the masked woman wanted: for her to be happy about the deaths, to smile at them and be giddy... much like her abductor had been. "I'm not like you," Kim hissed towards the woman. "I'm not going to celebrate what you did! My parents might have been shit, but they didn't deserve to die, especially not that way you killed them. You think making me remember is going to 'destroy me'? You're wrong, bitch."

"Oh, am I?" Dollface asked and began to giggle. "Are you the same Kim who cried for her dead mother just before? Are you the same Kim who called out for her ex when she woke up? The one who worried about a girl who was sleeping with Daniel behind your back? Can you still say you would do any of that now?"

Now it was Kim's turn to refuse to answer, but only because she knew the woman had a point she didn't want to admit to.

"Destroying a person doesn't always mean they're left as a shattered individual, devoid of hope or nerve. You can destroy a person by simply changing their viewpoint, shifting how they would feel or react towards something forever. You can't say I haven't done that, can you?"

To Kim, it sounded as if the woman was smiling under her mask as she gloated, and she wanted to knock the smirk, as well as the mask, off her face.

"If you thought I would destroy you emotionally, though... I can still do that." She once again started to walk a circle around the bound blonde. "You know who's going to take the fall for these murders, these works of art? Hmm?" She stopped in front of Kim, who was glaring at her with a deep-seated hatred in her eyes. "Not me. Not you." She shook her head and resumed walking. "When they find out what happened here, the police will have all the evidence they need... to arrest Daniel and Lindsay."

Kim's stare softened at the names, but only slightly. "Why should I care? You helped me remember that they're utter trash. They deserve..." She trailed off, realizing that her attitude, her complete disregard for the pair's lives being ruined for something they didn't do, only proved her kidnapper right. If Kim refused to care, refused to have empathy... then who she was was gone... destroyed. Suddenly, her stoic, tough girl armour cracked. While she certainly wasn't a fan of either of her former friends, she realized there was no way she wanted their lives ruined by taking the blame for something as massive as murder. Her attitude shifted as she tried to find herself again. Shaking her head, she pleaded, "Please, don't; you can't! They didn't do anything!"

Dollface sighed and changed the direction of her path, stopping directly in front of Kim."I'm running out of time. I told them I'd meet them soon." She lifted the knife slightly, placing the tip against Kim's body and tracing the point up over the girl's sternum. "This took a lot of planning, you know," she stated, a hint of petulance in her tone. "It's not like I picked these people out of the blue; that's for later, when I meet up with the others, and we have our fun. This though... this was my gift... to you. And you're trying to ruin it."

"No," Kim whispered weakly, shaking her head in protest as a fresh tear ran down her cheek. "Please, you don't ha-" A sharp pain cut into Kim's words as the blade pierced her chest, just to the side of her left breast. "No!" Kim tried to scream, finding the simple action very difficult as the masked woman plunged the weapon in deeper. There was an intense burning sensation, one that momentarily overrode the pain, as she felt the metal slide further in.

Dollface let go of the handle and squatted down, facing Kim on a more even level. "I must be close; I can practically feel your heartbeat against the blade."

Kim, breathing heavy and trying her hardest to block out the pain, didn't flinch at the disclosure. "You're a... you're a monster," she grunted through her panted breaths, looking like she was halfway between consciousness and oblivion.

"Say, before you die, do you wanna know why I wear this mask?" Dollface inquired, a giddy inflection overflowing in her voice. With a giggle, she lightly wiggled the knife in Kim's chest when she took too long to answer.

A single cough escaped Kim as a fresh bolt of pain ricocheted through her body. The sudden, violent expulsion of air pulled blood from her punctured lung up her throat and out her mouth, splattering the liquid over the mask of her attacker.

Dollface once again cocked her head to the side and stared at Kim as she slowly died. "Well, alright, since you asked nicely. I wear this because..." She reached up with her free hand and removed the mask, finally revealing her identity.

Kim's pained expression was quickly replaced by one of shock as the sight she saw turned into the only thing she could focus on, the only thing she could see, the only thing she could feel. As the woman who so callously delivered a lethal stab to her finally revealed herself to Kim, the bound blonde found she was looking at her own face.

The same smirk Kim had donned a million times was now staring back at her in seeming ridicule. The woman in front of her had the same round cheeks, the same strong chin and large, blue eyes. It was like staring at an identical twin, but Kim knew the horrible truth was that the person behind the mask... was her.

"...I hate how your face looks." Dollface sneered, making no attempt to conceal her true voice any longer. As she spoke, her sly smile turned to a disgusted grimace. She pointed to her own face, making a circular motion with her index finger. "This is the face that took shit from everybody. This is the face that let that scumbag of a boyfriend get away with cheating, lying and whatever the hell else he did before you broke up and he started fucking Lindsay. This is the face that choked and caved when life got too hard. This is the face that failed at everything! This is your face, not mine, but I'm fucking stuck with it!" she finished, screaming her last few sentences out. Dollface took in a deep breath and exhaled through her mouth in a noisy fashion, appearing as if she was calming herself down. "This face, though..." She held up her mask and smiled at it. "This is the face that won't take shit from anyone. This is the face that's gonna take life by the reins. This is the face that got revenge. This is the face that killed your mother, your stepfather... the one that's gonna make Daniel pay and ruin Lindsay's sweet, perfect life. This is my face." She stared at Kim in silence for a few moments, watching the girl soak the information in and try to rationalize it. A smile crept back on her face as she saw one last opportunity to shine. "Here, try it on and see how it feels. It might help you remember what really happened today." With her words, she lifted the mask once again, turning it in her hand and sliding it over Kim's head, positioning the cover so it sat just right.

There was a familiar smell lining the inside of the mask: strawberry flavored Hubba Bubba bubblegum; Kim's favorite. Under any other circumstance, she would love the smell, relishing the fix of gum she was chomping on to receive it. It was her go-to alternative every time she ran out of smokes or tried to quit. At that moment, however, the smell was nauseating to Kim because she knew that Dollface was chewing it behind the mask. As she tried to focus her vision through the mesh material over the eyelets, she realized the darkness had somewhat receded and she could see more of the room under the mask. There were white walls to either side of them, both tarnished with dirt, moss and dried blood. Portraits lined the walls as well, each positioned at a different height and crooked to some degree. There were three repeating portraits and Kim only recognized one of them: Dollface's. The other two showcased similarly masked individuals. One of a man with what appeared to be a burlap sack over his head, eye-holes cut out for viewing and a simple black line drawn across the area where his mouth would be, the inclination of a slight smile present in its curvature. The other picture was of another masked woman, her false face appearing to be from the same mind that designed Dollface's. The idea that rang out in Kim's mind at the sight of the mask was of a pin-up girl, the same type that were the pinnacle of popularity in the 1940s and 50s, appearing on anything from advertisements and magazine covers to the sides of war planes. The mask portrayed a large black curl of hair at the top and side of the face as well as many other features from the Dollface mask. But the eyes were not enlarged nor were they covered. A set of human eyes could be seen behind the mask in the painting, much like those of the man in the mask beside her. Suddenly, Dollface's hands clasped the sides of Kim's face, tearing her attention away from the pin-up girl portrait.

"Remember what led to today, Kim," Dollface instructed, a wicked smile formed on her lips as she spoke.

Without warning, the out-of-body feeling once again came over Kim, transporting her to a realm where she was spectator in her own mind while more memories emerged from the fog she had wrapped them in.

"It was nice hangin' out again, Kim. Really," Daniel stated, sitting across the table from the blonde with Lindsay next to him, the couple holding hands.

Kim had to actively fight the desire to roll her eyes at the sight. "Yeah, this was fun," she agreed with a smile. "It's been so long since we've tried to hang out as a group like this."

Daniel returned her smile, but his was more vibrant and enthusiastic than hers. "Been kinda hard with Nick gone and Ken avoidin' us like the plague... and us actin' like a coupla knuckleheads. Look, Kim, we..." He looked down sheepishly for a moment, trailing off, before looking back up with a more serious expression. "We didn't mean to hurt you by gettin' together. Honest."

There was a sincerity in his voice and in his eyes that the blonde couldn't ignore.

"And we didn't want to hide it from you either, Kim," Lindsay chimed in, giving the same vibe of sincerity. "We just didn't know how soon would be too soon with what happened to Chip."

The subject had been avoided during the few hours the three had spent together, so for it to be shoehorned in at the end felt somehow forced, like they knew time was running out and they wanted to confess their sins.

"I'm..." Again, Kim had to fight her inner urge to show her true colors on the matter. "Guys, look, it's fine. I'm fine. You two seem good together; all Daniel and I ever did was fight anyway. Besides, he knows that if he screws up, I'll tell you all his embarrassing secrets!" She grinned and began to laugh. Daniel and Lindsay following right on her heels.

"We really should hang out more!" Lindsay beamed.

Daniel nodded and then rolled his eyes. "Hangin' out as a group is gonna be the only way I get to see you anymore, soon," he bemoaned to his girlfriend. "Your old man's been a drag for the past few weeks. It's like he's got a radar on my car or somethin'!" He widened his eyes for a moment to show how exasperated he was with the situation.

Lindsay sighed and looked over to Kim. "It is getting pretty bad. Daniel took me out to a surprise dinner last week at his favorite restaurant, and my dad burst into the place like a total buzzkill," she explained. "He made me leave with him and took me home. He kept going on and on about how disappointed he was in me and he had sources that were telling him wherever we went. The only reason he even let me come over here today is because I told him you'd be here too, Kim. It's like he doesn't want me to have a life or something. I'm not even allowed to go to a movie with Daniel anymore if we don't have someone else with us! And I swear I love my brother, but I can't watch another one of those hokey comedies or sci-fi movies he loves."

It looked like an epiphany had overtaken Kim for a moment. "Guys, I think I've got an idea..."

Kim went on to explain her plan, one that involved Lindsay telling her father that she had a group project with Daniel and Kim and they are all going to meet at Kim's to work on it. Daniel would pick Lindsay up, leave his car at Kim's and if Mr. Weir drove by to make sure everything was okay, he'd be none the wiser because the couple would be out enjoying some private time in Kim's car while Daniel's sat in front of her house.  Dez, a mutual friend of the blonde and her ex, was out of town for the weekend and Daniel just so happened to have the keys to his place, leaving the couple with a nice, cozy private spot for them to enjoy.

All three teens were excited by the idea and wanted to put it into motion as quickly as they could. It was decided that the next night would be the perfect opportunity. After a few more minutes of the friends reconnecting through conversation, Mrs. Desario asked her son and his girlfriend to help her make dinner. They offered for Kim to stay and have dinner with them, but she declined, stating she had to head home. Before leaving, she excused herself to the bathroom. Instead of stopping near the rest room, though, she went to Daniel's room and rooted through his closet as quickly and quietly as she could. It didn't take more than a minute for her to find what she was looking for: an older pair of sneakers he wore when he had to take mandatory gym classes. They were perfect; they even had his name hand-printed in them. She held them in her hand, throwing her coat over her arm to cover them completely, and walked back to the kitchen to say her goodbyes. Daniel gave her a quick hug after putting a large kitchen knife down when he was done cubing a large steak. When his back was turned, Kim wrapped the knife in a paper towel and stuffed it under her coat as well. Just before leaving, she noticed Lindsay's green army jacket hanging over the couch near the front door. She scooped it up on her way out the door as a wicked smile formed on her face.

The next day, she met Daniel and Lindsay in front of her house.

"Thanks again for lettin' us borrow your car, Kim," Daniel lauded, a classic smile spread across his face as he held Lindsay close to him.

Kim shook her head and grinned. "No problem. It's not like I'm going anywhere tonight anyway. Unlike you two, I really do have a project to work on." She jokingly stuck her tongue out at them for a moment. She handed her car keys over, passing Daniel's open, expectant hand and holding them in front of Lindsay, much to the girl's surprise. "I know how Daniel drives," Kim explained, "and even though you totaled your parents' car, I still trust your driving over his."

Blushing at the mention of such an embarrassing memory, Lindsay took the keys and began to laugh. "Thanks, Kim. Hey, maybe we can do something next weekend, ya know? Like, see a movie. I read that The Cannonball Run is still playing on the discount theater and I know you have a crush on Burt Reynolds."

Trying to giggle away a blush of her own, Kim turned her head and looked across the street. She noticed her neighbor peeking through her blinds. "Old lady Dodd's at it again," she commented as her laughter subsided. "Making sure everyone's business is her business, too."

Daniel scoffed. "I always hated that old bitch."

His words earned him a smack on the arm from his girlfriend. "Daniel!" Lindsay chastised.

"Bat!" he quickly spat out with a shit-eating grin, flinching slightly at the hit. "I meant, 'that old bat.' Really."

The trio laughed for a moment before Kim gained a grin of her own. "Hey, Daniel, you wanna give Dodd a show? You know, for old times sake."

Her ex simply smiled and nodded.

"No. You guys, come on, be nic-" Lindsay tried to intervene, but was cut off by Kim beginning to yell at Daniel.

The two exchanged a loud, heated back and forth, each seeming to pull insults and accusations out of thin air as Lindsay looked to the ground, more embarrassed than ever. The fake altercation caught the attention of several residents along the street, and not just the nosy neighbor it was intended for.

Less than a minute later, Kim caught sight of her neighbor out of her peripheral vision, shaking her had and moving away from the blinds. Kim laughed at the woman's withdrawal as Daniel dropped the act and laughed alongside her.

"That never gets old."

Lindsay rolled her eyes, arms firmly crossed over her chest. "Glad you two like acting like kids so much." She looked around, noticing that all of the gawking neighbors had went back to their own business.

"Oh lighten up, Lindsay," Kim replied with glee still in her voice. "Now you two go, have your fun. And don't worry about giving me the keys when you guys get back, just leave them under the visor. No one wants my junker besides me, anyway."

She hugged both friends and waved goodbye to them before going back into her house. A sick, evil smile lined her lips as she watched them drive away, leaving Daniel's car in plain sight on the side of the road in front of her house. Her plan was in full effect and there was no time for second guessing or any kind of screw ups. She stayed in her room for hours, waiting for the right time to strike, occupying herself by wrapping the handle of Daniel's kitchen knife in a plastic bag and using it to shred her bed sheets and mattress, then turning the blade on her arm and splattering collected blood all over her walls and ruined bedding, making it look as if she had been attacked in bed. A few bloody hand prints on the door and she was pleased with the result. After wrapping her arm and putting Lindsay's jacket on, she reached for the top shelf of her closet and grabbed the Dollface mask, sliding it over her head and making sure it sat snug against her face as a surge of euphoria entered her system and made her feel alive for the first time since she'd learned of her brother's passing.

Her stepfather was nearly passed out in his favorite chair, a collection of empty beer cans strewn on the floor around him as he zoned in and out of sleep, the TV blaring as the bumper for 'The CBS Saturday Night Movies' began to play. Her mother was finishing dinner in the kitchen, trying to make sure the pork chops were not too badly burned. As she turned around to set the table, she let out a slight shriek as Kim stood behind her in complete silence, a strange mask on her face. After chastising her daughter for scaring her and wearing a 'stupid mask', she pushed passed the girl, not noticing the large knife Kim was holding, nor the vibrant, yellow rubber gloves on her hands. Reaching for the plates, Cookie felt a sharp, burning pain spread across her back as a hand waved in front of her face and clamped across her mouth, muffling the scream she released. As she attempted to flail, the blade of the kitchen knife entered her vision and stabbed downwards into her shoulder, leaving her with the same sharp, burning pain she had in her back. She was stabbed again and again, leaving various wounds all over her chest, shoulders, arms and abdomen before, finally, the blade was brought to her neck and one fluid movement sliced the skin from ear to ear. A rush of red flowed down Cookie's already-bloodied blouse as the woman choked and gasped for air, her punctured lungs rapidly filling with her own blood from previous hits. Cookie struggled and fought for a few seconds, even managing to land an elbow into her daughter's stomach, but her strength quickly faded along with everything else, and she was dead less than fifteen seconds after her throat was slit.

In the living room, Kim stood in front of her sleeping stepfather, a half-full can of beer barely staying in the loose grips of his fingers. She traced the tip of the blade along the arm of the recliner, lifting it slightly and settling it between the man's legs, resting the sharp side of the blade against his clothed inner-thigh. She thought for a moment before moving the blade up a few centimeters, recalling the exact location of the femoral artery from the textbooks she'd studied for so long. She had to be quick if she wanted to get the cut in and a distraction hit before he woke up and fought back. She practiced her move twice before going for it, glancing up to make sure none of her movements had stirred the man. Feeling confident in her timing, Kim made a quick, hard upward slice across her stepfather's thigh, cutting several inches into his flesh and smoothly severing the desired blood vessel, and hastily stabbed the blade into his crotch as he jolted to a stir from shock and pain. Instinctively, he pushed Kim, hard, before attempting to stand from his seat and falling right back into it from the detached muscles and burst of fresh pain. Kim hit the carpeted floor with a thud, but quickly recovered from the shove and was back on her feet in moments. Watching her stepfather agonize over the blade in his crotch, not realizing that he was bleeding out from his thigh, brought a sick smile to Kim's face, one she almost wished he could see under the mask. As she approached, he once again tried to stand, but Kim neutralized the situation by raising her foot and stomping on the handle of the blade, driving the knife further into the man's crotch and sending him back to his seat, wailing in pain and clutching at the arms of the chair with a vicious grip that turned his fingers white. He reached for the blade and released a defeated, whimper of a scream at the slightest motion of his attempt to remove it. Sweat began dripping from his forehead almost as quickly as it formed and Kim could see signs of his increasingly labored breathing. She yanked the blade from its wound and barely missed being grabbed as her stepfather made one final attempt to attack her. He hit the floor and simply laid there, his breathing slowing every second. Kim grabbed a handful of hair and lifted his head as far back as she could, bringing the blade in front of him and slicing his throat in the same fashion she had performed on her mother. With some effort, she was able to push the man onto his back, watching as the life drained from him. After he passed, she continued to mutilate his body, inflicting countless stab wounds over every inch of his being and only stopping once she broke a portion of the blade off in his chest.

Already breathing heavily as the adrenaline left her system, Kim dragged her mother's corpse into the living room, tearing out patches of the woman's hair with every tug and leaving a long trail of blood from where she started. It only took her a moment to position it next to her stepfather's exactly how she wanted it. She began to set the scene, making every effort to leave bloody shoe prints all over the house as she frantically worked; ones that marked her steps with the unique tread and logo engraved on the sole of Daniel's shoes. With a little effort, Kim tore the left lapel from Lindsay's jacket, stuffing the material in her mother's hand so it appeared as if a fight ensued. A smirk lined her lips as she rolled the accompanying button under the plastic-clad, brown couch. Nothing was left to chance in her plan and it all had to go accordingly. And so far, it had.  It wasn't coincidence that Mr. Weir knew where to find his daughter and her boyfriend whenever they were gone for too long. Kim, masquerading as a concerned neighbor, had written a letter to the man, chronicling her worry and leaving a large list of Daniel's usual hangouts and local make-out points. With the arrival of the letter, Lindsay and her boyfriend quickly had to reign in their hormones before her father truly found them in a precarious situation.  Unbeknownst to either of them, Daniel and Lindsay were going to make excellent patsies, as she already had left clues leading to both teens as the culprits of the murders and her own disappearance. The argument in front of old lady Dodd was calculated as well. Kim knew her neighbor couldn't resist her curiosity, and setting up a fight that no one knew was fake aside from those involved in it would leave more than a few people who could attest to the fact that they witnessed Daniel and the blonde in a heated argument with each other hours before the murders. With Dez out of town, enjoying a car convention in Detroit that Kim had told him about earlier in the week, and Daniel and Lindsay barricading themselves in his apartment the entire night, there wouldn't be anybody outside of the couple to be able to support their alibi. The murders were almost perfect, with the only flaw being how personal the wound to her stepfather's crotch would seem. By the same standards, though, the twisted rumor was that Kim had slept with the man, so anger directed at his genitalia from a scored ex wasn't exactly a stretch too far from the realm of possibilities. All that was left to do was plant the evidence. Bagging the knife and the shoes, Kim would place them in Daniel's car, using her spare key to access his trunk and hide the items under a collection of rags at the far corner of the space. Likewise, after she was done at her house, she planned on stopping by Lindsay's home and stuffing the army jacket in her mailbox, perhaps even leaving one of the blood-stained sleeves hanging out so other people would notice it as well. Kim would disappear after that, meeting up with her two accomplices and practicing their forms of execution on other unsuspecting, unknown families. If she learned anything from her parents' deaths, it was that a quick kill only gave a quick rush, and if she wanted to stretch that out, she would have to stretch out the time she spent toying with and terrifying future prospects. Her eyes grazed over a picture on the wall as she made her way around the house and the image made her freeze. It was a simple portrait, one that showed a smiling trio of Kim, Cookie and Chip, all huddled together and looking like a happy family. It was the sight of Chip that awoke something in Kim, that made her snap back into reality with a different point of view. Upon lifting the mask from her face and resting in on top of her head, she was terrorized by the sights she saw around the house: the disarray, the blood and, finally, the corpses sprawled in the living room. Crying frantically, she hurried to her mother's body and desperately called out to her, hoping for some sort of response... but all she was met with in return was a cold, dead gaze from the woman. She panicked, feeling both woozy and nauseated at the same time. She ran to the bathroom, clutching at the sides of the sink and she leaned over the porcelain bowl, panting heavily and battling against small gags that were causing her throat to spasm and making her stomach threaten to heave. She peered up, catching her reflection in the mirror and recoiling from what she saw staring back at her. There were sprays and splatters of blood everywhere: her clothing, her neck, hair and the mask. Her gloved hands were more red than yellow, and smeared trails of blood were left at her every touch. She wasn't looking at herself anymore... she was looking at the face of a monster.

A gasp escaped Kim as she felt her out-of-body experience end and her reality return to her. It was a sickening feeling not for the return, but for what she brought back with it: knowledge that she did not have time to piece together after finding out Dollface's true identity, knowledge that she never would have wanted to even consider but now had no choice but to accept as fact: not only was she Dollface, she was a cold-blooded, calculating killer. She had taken lives without as much as flinching, relishing in the feeling even. Sobs began to escape Kim as she sunk into despair, her ability to feel anything resembling hope or pride was gone.

"There, there," Dollface said in a hush after removing the mask from Kim and placing it to the side. She wrapped an arm around the girl's head, as if to cradle and embrace it. "You've finally remembered, haven't you? It's alright now, everything's alright." She laid her head atop Kim's, her cheek resting on the top of her head. After a moment of silence, the only sounds filling the void being the short, shallow gasps of sorrow and languishing life from Kim, Dollface whispered, "I told you I'd destroy you... and now..." Her arm jerked suddenly, driving the rest of the blade into Kim's chest. The warm caress of blood covered not only Dollface's hand, its position held steadfast as she kept her iron grip on the knife handle, but also her chest as a rush of blood streamed from Kim's mouth. She kept ahold of Kim's head, feeling the weight sink more and more into her chest as the muscles relaxed and the blonde released one final, long breath. "Rest now, sister," Dollface whispered, closing her eyes and allowing a single tear to fall from them, "there is much for me to do before we ever see each other again."

When she opened her eyes again, she was staring at herself in the bathroom mirror, a look of dazed recognition furrowing her features. For a moment there, she had lost herself, blinded by a dangerous storm of empathy, regret and guilt. The disturbance, however, had passed. Her expression smoothed a moment later as she slowly leaned her head from side to side, stretching her neck and relieving a bundle of built-up tension. A familiar wicked smile grew on her face as she stood up and swept her hair behind her ears, leaving smears of blood on her cheeks, and pulled her mask back down over her face. The one-sided battle between the light and dark within Kim Kelly had been fought and won and once her momentary hiccup had passed, she picked up right where she left off. After all, she had a plan to stick to, a schedule to keep, and soon, The Man in the Mask and Pin-Up Girl would be expecting her.