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Lauren's Return

Vengeance is a virtue.

"Sorry. Excuse me, sorry, coming through,” said Sarah cutting through people at the pool party. “Watch where you’re going!" Someone nudged her and she ended up pushing Lauren into the pool, though she didn't know she did.

Lauren sat there, only her eyes showing with eyebrows arched in anger. She swam off muttering and went to go look and see if her best friend John could be of any help to her now. However, later that night, it was reported that a girl named Susie Hannover was deemed a missing person and Lauren Koffner was confirmed dead in that very pool. These high school seniors were startled. They never spoke about their peer’s disappearance or death. They just tried to remember the good in Lauren, though she was very anti-social so everyone knew her through John.

***

John parked the car as him and his fiancee Sarah got out. They walked into their house and Sarah stops, “Babe, I left my phone in the car. I'll be right back.”

Sarah went back to the passenger side door and opened it, grabbing her phone and charger off the dashboard. She caught a chill as she closed the door, and let out a sigh as she rubbed her arms. The wind picked up as she walked back to the house and a little green paper fluttered under the windshield wiper. It read, "Hi, old friend. You’ve taken everything from me, even my best friend, but I'll be back soon" and was signed Lauren. With widened eyes, Sarah ran into the house yelling, "John,” fumbling up the stairs in her hallway.

He wasn't in the bedroom; this meant he was film editing in the basement. She ran downstairs only to find a roll reading "Koffner.” She knew her husband only used Eastman Kodak film. She locked the door behind her, developed the pictures, and went to a nearby cafe hoping to meet up with John there. She texted him, "Meet me at Sally’s. Its important."

Panting and out of breath, John ran in. "What happened? I got your text and I was worried.”

“Can you tell me what these are specifically?” she asked him, shaking in her skin.

“They're pictures,” he said, confused on why she'd ask that, knowing that’s his profession.

“I mean did you take them and if so what are they of because...”

“Because what? What are you trying to say? What’s going on with you? You've been acting strange since yesterday morning.” John realized something was wrong with her, he just didn't know what. He became very worried.

“John, listen. I found a note yesterday and it was signed by someone named Lauren. Then I went looking for you in the basement and found this odd roll of film labeled Koffner. Now we both only know one Lauren with the last name Koffner so you tell me what’s up. Are you trying to pull a prank on me because it’s not funny. Lauren and I weren't even that close, but she was your best friend. And the images on the film, I developed them and all of them are recently dated. The girl in them looks just like Lauren—all except for this one,” she said, shaking. It was a picture of herself, Sarah, lying in a pool of blood, the same pool Lauren was pronounced dead in, just bloody.

Chills ran up John’s body looking at these images. He got up out of his seat and started pacing around their cafe table. "Look, you and I both know Lauren is dead. That note and the film had to be planted into wherever you found them, but not by me. Honey, listen, I gotta go back to work. I want you to stay inside. If you’re going anywhere, text me when you’re leaving and when you’ve arrived. Then, when I get home we can figure this out. We can’t talk about stuff like this in public areas.” He kissed her head and ran off again back to work. She sat there, hands folded; she couldn't even swallow; her throat felt like it was closing in and a single tear strolled down her cheek. She walked out of the cafe as a man held the door open for her. He yelled, "You're welcome.” She stopped and gritted through her teeth. "Thank you.” She got in her car and drove back home, pictures in hand.

The door creaked open as she tries to put her keys in, and she realized the door was unlocked. Sarah locked the door and turned back toward the steps in an attempt to run back into her car. At the bottom of the staircase stood the girl from in the pictures, Lauren.

"Hey, old friend, remember me from five years ago? They said I was dead and Susie was reported missing. Haha, but really I killed Susie, and switched clothes with her and left my hair follicles in that pool since I knew her parents wouldn't want an autopsy, so hair would be the only way to deem who was in that pool that night so everyone thought it was me in there.” Lauren looked up at Sarah, slowly tilted her head sideways, and deviously smiled as she inaudibly chuckled.

Sarah ran up the stairs, trying to get up on the roof, but when she pulled on the exit, all of the exits were blocked and the handles were screwed off saying "Lauren" or "Koffner" in dripping red ink everywhere.

John pulled into the driveway and held his head in his hands as he took a long breath. He heard Sarah scream, saying, "Get away from me” and whimpering, “What do you want from me?” He ran out the car and pulled open the front door. As he did, he found Sarah whimpering in the doorway almost in a ball on the floor. He picked her up. Lauren ran up to the roof and climbed out of a hole in the wall she dug a few years ago.

“It was Lauren. She’s not-” She fainted.

When she woke up, she was in a hospital bed and she turned and found John on her side watching her sleep, he held her as she awoke.

“Are you sure it was Lauren Koffner that you saw? And what happened today? I come home and find you panicked on the floor.”

“She’s the girl in the pictures. She said I took you away from her and that she killed Susie and planted her body as her in the pool that night at that party. She wants to kill me. For what, I don't know.” Sarah was flustered and not ready to go home. She spent the night at the hospital and returned to work the following morning.

***

“Kathy, I’ll be back in a half hour. Call me if John comes looking for me. Tell him I'm by the river in the park.”

As Sarah was on break, John was at home deciphering what was really happening to his wife.

“Hello, John.” He turned around and saw Lauren standing in the center of his basement.

“What are you doing here? How did you even get in here? Aren't you dead?” He stood up and stood behind his chair. "And what do you want with my fiance?”

“Aren’t you happy to see me? And did you forget how we built tunnels in and out of here when we were kids and we’d try and run away and never could so we came here and talked about everything.” Her voice was calm and soft, almost seductive. "Look, I loved you ever since we were kids. For years, you’ve always talked about how you loved Sarah, and you never cared to ask or worry about my feelings. For years, I've watched you and her together after ‘I died’ and I don’t like it one bit. But I can fix this, she’ll be gone by this afternoon anyway. See you at the river.” She jumped down a hole and onto the street and ran to the park she knew Sarah always went to. John grabbed his phone and drove as fast as he could to the river. As he drove, he thought, "Don't worry, she’ll get what's coming to her.”

Sarah sat at the bench she always sat on, but out of the corner of her eye, she saw a figure, slim, but quick running towards her; it was Lauren. She ran as fast as her feet could take her until she crossed a street and lost sight of her and stood there panicked. John spotted her and hopped out the car, he ran over and grabbed her. "Are you okay?”

But then, Lauren ducked and dodged behind people and was hammered by a two ton bus coming straight to where she was standing and dropped dead on impact. Everyone flooded the streets and tried to help her, all except Sarah, whimpering on the sidewalk in John’s arms.

“It’s over now,” she said, pointing to the street. There lied Lauren Koffner, her eyes rolled to her brain and her blood on the surrounding vehicles.

“Oh my god,” said John, disgusted by the sight in front of him.

“She got what was coming to her,” Sarah said, in long, drooping breaths.

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