June 3rd, 2016.
Stark City, Oregon.
Smiling, Wendy Marie Hunicutt stepped onto the pentagram. “Now it begins,” she whispered, sinking to her knees. “Payback's a bitch, Kara!”
The pale, flabby girl had drawn a crude circle on the floor in chalk. Within this circle, she'd drawn a five-pointed star. At each point of the star, she'd placed a small black candle. Five tiny flames now lit the empty room; flickering, twisting the darkness around Wendy's naked body. The azure ring on her left hand glimmered in the soft light. The initials carved into the gold band read: K.L.V.
“You've fucked with me for the last time!”
Kneeling in the star's central pentagon, Wendy closed her eyes. Blood spurted from her wrists, splattering against her legs, pooling around her knees. The razor she'd used to slit her veins lay outside the circle, next to an open tome of ancient writing. Beneath the razor lay a portrait of Kara Vance. Blonde, dimpled, and buxom. The All-American High School Cheerleader Goddess. Her blue eyes had been slashed by the razor. Black candle wax hid her perfect smile.
“And now I'm free...” Ignoring the hot sting in her forearms, Wendy concentrated, forming a vivid mental portrait of Kara. Her favorite portrait:
Kara, resplendent in her cheerleader uniform, falling from a great height. Hurtling into darkness. Crying. Shrieking. Thrashing. All the way to her death.
I'm gonna make you suffer worse than I ever have!
Still, Wendy's blood spurted. Her jaw quivered. Gooseflesh rose on her arms and legs. Beginning to feel faint, she bit down hard, took a deep breath, and began her ominous chant:
The memory of that fateful first encounter resurfaced. Walking into the Robert Sloan High School cafeteria for the first time. Seeing Kara Vance, daughter of Stark City Councilman, Kirk Vance, in the flesh. Everyone knew Kara. Everyone wanted to be her friend. There'd been an empty spot at Kara's table, and Wendy had committed the sin of sitting down, and the mortal sin of speaking to her.
“Why are you talking to me?” Kara had asked, much to the delight of her squealing sophomore posse. “You're freshman trash. Even worse, you're Meyer trash. We live in Hinckley, honey. Our parents can buy and sell your parents...”
Then came the laughter. Brutal. Haunting. Unrelenting.
Nude, bleeding, bathed in candlelight, Wendy remembered the utter confusion, anger, and shame as complete strangers ridiculed her. People she hadn't harmed...people she didn't even know.
And from there, everything escalated.
Dirty notes on her locker. Insulting texts to her phone. Obscene messages on her Facebook page. The unfortunate nickname: Windy Huni-cunt.
Condescending looks in the halls. Snide remarks in class. Prank phone calls in the middle of the night.
Threats. Shoves. Bubblegum in her hair. Key marks on her mother's car the first and last time Wendy drove it to school.
The time three friends of Kara's friends—since Kara's posse would never sully their own hands—jumped Wendy in the bathroom, resulting in a black eye, bruised ribs, and a sprained ankle.
And the rumors. The filthy, vicious rumors. The least cruel being that Wendy had blown several of her male teachers for passing grades. The worst being that she'd molested a boy she'd once babysat.
Dying, Wendy recalled how at first her parents hadn't believed her. How they'd told her that everyone deals with bullying at some point, and to tough it out. But when the abuse became undeniable, they'd gotten involved. Or tried to, at least. The teachers, the principal, the entire school system; no one could help. Maybe they just didn't want to.
Changing their landline had gotten their house egged. Getting a new phone increased the online harassment. Shutting down her Facebook caused a bag of dog shit to appear in her locker. Kara and her friends just created a fake Windy Huni-cunt profile, anyway. And there they posted the vilest messages and pictures the real Wendy had ever seen.
For three years, Wendy has endured this torment. Three long, miserable years.
With no end of suffering in sight.
Three times she'd applied for a school transfer, and three times she'd been refused due to overcrowding.
And lest she take comfort in the fact that her last year at Robert Sloan would be Kara-free, Wendy received an anonymous typewritten note in her backpack:
Dear Ms. Huni-cunt,
Don't think for a second that just because someone graduates their influence can't be felt.
Good luck in your senior year.
Thus, hopeless, harrowed, and untouched by any boy she'd ever liked, Wendy Hunicutt came to this abandoned boathouse overlooking Stark Reservoir, armed with a book, a razor, and a raging thirst for vengeance.
And there, at last, Wendy found peace.
Smiling, Wendy opened Kara's eyes. They gazed up at a shadowy ceiling. The air felt cool and dense on their skin. It worked! Wendy thought, wallowing in the strangeness of living in Kara's flesh.
Holy fucking shit, I'm actually there!
But for all of her sorcery, Wendy hadn't gone far. Just across the reservoir, where a small group of graduates had gathered to drink, fuck, and camp for the night. Nearby, they heard a cacophony of raucous voices and an acoustic guitar. Which meant that the party hadn't ended. For either of them.
No, it's only just begun.
Wendy brought Kara's hands to their face, patting their cheeks as if to affirm their reality. Then they sat up, peering about their dwelling. A tent, Wendy realized. A goddamn expensive one, too. Dark green, bigger than Wendy's room at home, and lit by a kerosene lamp in the corner. Two army style cots formed a crude triangle to their position, one occupied, one empty. The other girl lay on her side, mouth open, reeking of booze and marijuana.
Looking down, Wendy saw that they also sat on a cot, covered by a thin sheet. Clad in panties, socks, and a long pink shirt which read: High School Grad!
Curious, Wendy licked Kara's lips, but found no trace of alcohol or weed. In fact, Kara's breath tasted minty, as if she'd brushed her teeth.
Of course. Perfect little angel, right to the last.
Throwing off the sheet, they stood. Moving inside of Kara felt akin to walking on a boat, Wendy thought. Precarious. Dizzying. But the raw euphoria of having Kara—that fake, vicious, socialite—under her control eclipsed it.
Time to get moving, princess...
In one fluid motion, they reached down and slipped off the panties. Pink, like the shirt.
Won't be needing these.
Next, they removed the socks. Pink, like the panties. Like their toe- and fingernails.
God. Virgin pink from head to toe. Gag me with a shovel, Kara.
Halfway to being barefoot and pregnant, Wendy steered Kara toward the tent's exit flap, unzipped it, and stepped outside. The earth felt moist beneath their feet. The warm summer night greeted them with a half-moon and twinkling stars. A soft breeze caressed them, blowing their shirt around their thighs.
Beautiful. Perfect night to lose your virginity...
And to die.
To their left, a campfire blazed in a shallow pit. Around the fire sat several of their classmates, drinking as shadowy flames licked their faces. One of them strummed the guitar, leading them in a raucous rendition of “American Pie.” Squinting through Kara's eyes, Wendy searched the small crowd, looking for the final yet crucial ingredient.
Come on...where are you?
Then she saw him; bottle in hand, lounging against a large rock. Charlie Sheen. Not the real Charlie Sheen, of course, but Stark City's equivalent: Ryan Holloway. The Bad Boy of Hinckley. A rebel without clue or cause...with the luxury of an enormous trust fund.
Everyone at Robert Sloan knew that Kara belonged to Hinckley's own Connor Cranleigh. Star pitcher for the Sloan High Bandits, president of the chess club, and son of Senator Maxwell Cranleigh, Connor had a bright future. Rumor had it that he and Kara, together since eighth-grade, had never gotten carnal. Both came from religious, well-known families, and had pledged to remain celibate until their wedding day. Which is why Connor had opted to skip this particular party.
Lead us not into temptation.
Ah, but the flesh...Kara's and mine...is far too weak to resist. Poor, poor Connor. How will you ever endure this heartbreak?
Smiling with Kara's lips, Wendy willed their feet to move. Weaving a path through bushes, twigs, and drunken seniors. Straight to Wendy's ultimate weapon. The bad boy himself.
On the other hand...who gives a shit?
Within Kara, Wendy tingled. This would be her first time, too. A shared experience with the person she hated most, punishing her in the process. Not to mention putting a blight on Connor's perfect life, and teaching Ryan a lesson in responsibility.
Yeah. The three of ya deserve each other.
With Kara's breath in their throat, Wendy sauntered toward Ryan with an abandon neither had ever known. Together, they appeared before the drunken malcontent like a vision; shadowy, sultry, and aglow in firelight.
“Wha—?” Ryan murmured, gazing at a face shrouded in darkness. Then he chuckled. Hoarse. Mocking. “That's you, huh? Miss 'Merican Pie?”
No answer. Instead, they reached down, grabbed the bottle—“Hey!”—and took a hearty gulp.
Something like that, asswipe.
The booze went down like a swarm of bees, but Wendy didn't mind. Though not her favorite libation, as a last drink, it would do.
“Wanna get loaded, huh?”
Still no answer. Just an open hand before his blurry eyes. Warm. Soft. Adorned with shiny pink nails. Inviting him to paradise.
No, I wanna get fucked.
“I ain't goin' for no walk! Gimme back my drink!”
Wordless, they stepped closer. Wordless, they guided Ryan's groping hand under their shirt, bypassing their thighs, pushing his fingertips inside. Letting him feel Kara's moistness, making Wendy's intentions clearer than the night sky.
“Oh,” Ryan said, burping. “Is that it. Well, sure. Why not? I ain't that fuckin' drunk!”
But you are that fuckin' dumb.
Removing his fingers, Ryan took their hand and struggled to his feet. With another swig, they turned and led the Hinckley Bad Boy toward the shadows.
Away from the firelight. Into true darkness. And in that darkness, Wendy Hunicutt left this mortal coil.
June 3rd, 2026.
Frowning, Kara Lynn Vance stepped into the shower. “What in God's name ever came over me?” she whispered, leaning into the warm spray. She'd had the dream again. The same one that's haunted her ever since the night of her great unraveling. The horrid replay of awaking to find herself naked, straddling Ryan Holloway, a bottle of tequila in one hand, and Ryan's phone in the other. The people surrounding them—no doubt summoned by her screams of ecstasy—holding their phones; filming them, cheering, laughing...having a grand time.
All at my fucking expense!
Eyes closed, Kara took a shuddery breath. Remembering:
It...it's like I woke up in a daze or something. I felt so...angry...and...horny. Just out of nowhere. Some kinda temporary insanity. But for all that, it still seems like I dreamt the whole thing.
Turning from the spray, Kara swept her hair back, grimacing from inner pain.
I'd almost swear I didn't do it of my own free will. I was like a puppet on strings that night. It's just not fair...
Now the tears came. Hard. Inevitable. Lost in the swirling stream beneath her feet.
God, the videos everyone posted! Me, screaming 'Fuck me, Charlie Sheen!' over and over! Swilling that nasty shit while I...rode...that...that fucking degenerate! Not one bit of it makes any sense! I'd never even thought about screwing Ryan Holloway! And I loathe tequila!
Even now...I just...can't...explain it!
Hands clenched between her breasts, the strained woman hissed through gritted teeth.
I really must've been insane! Those videos were bad enough, but I had to go and tweet those stupid, drunken ramblings!
In her heart, Kara knew she could never write such awful, demeaning things—much less post them for all the world to read. And yet she had. Somehow. And though they'd been deleted, the words still burned in the depths of her savaged mind:
ryans cok > connors! lol!
my dads n @$$! dont vote 4 him!
sloan hi suxxx!
guna fuk all nite!
But Kara couldn't bear to recall anymore; each tweet like a vicious, open wound. Face buried in her hands, she wailed and shook her head. Defying the past she swore belonged to someone else.
On my own fucking feed, no less! Posting as...as...
Wendy Hunicutt. Just the memory of that girl's name renewed the onslaught of tears, bringing a deep, deep pang of shame. The girl Kara had once taunted as “Windy Hunicunt” had been found across the water. In the tattered boathouse. Wrists slit, lying in some satanic ritual scene. Kara's defiled picture next to her—
And she was...wearing...my class ring...
So. A sex scandal involving a Stark City Councilman's daughter on one side of the reservoir, and a bizarre suicide on the other? Well, the national press had a field day with that mess. And once a link between them had been established, every reporter in the country turned feral.
Christ, I don't think it could've been any worse!
Local Teen Posts Private Porn Video!
Socialite Daughter Decries Own Father!
Councilman's Daughter Bullied Classmate To Death!
Dead Teen's Diary Found!
All Stark Sentinel headlines. Every day, for months. Bold black letters screaming in the Vance family's face. Kara's most of all, though each story made sure to mention her father's seat on the City Council. Then, of course, the infamous People article:
A Rising Star, Fallen From Grace
There went the scholarship to Oregon Tech. There went her hopes of marrying Connor—who hadn't handled the situation well. In fact, Kara still had his goodbye letter in her closet. Scrawled in ink, each sentence throbbed with utter heartache, which, for her, still thrived. Connor had long since married another woman he'd met at Oregon State. Together, they worked for Senator Cranleigh, and had two darling children.
The life I was supposed to have, Goddamnit!
Sure, former Councilman Vance—having lost his seat in the smear campaign—tried to pull some strings. But nobody believed the article claiming that Ryan had drugged Kara that night. Kara herself even granted an interview to “Good Morning America,” saying everything she'd been coached to say, but the damage to her reputation, to her life, couldn't be repaired. Now she knew how it felt to be bombarded with hatred.
Poor Wendy. I...I just...I didn't understand.
And right as the media shit storm reached gale force, something horrible happened. Kara missed her period. A few days later, she woke up sick. Being Catholic and celibate, she'd never used birth control.
Whoops. Just never planned on waking up one night, possessed by Satan himself.
God, what came over me that night?
After confirming the awful news, Kara delayed telling her father for several weeks. Waiting for the storm to fade. But it didn't. Not for a long time.
I was only eighteen! How was I supposed to deal with all that? I still can't believe any of it happened!
Again, Kara shuddered. Her father had flown into a rage upon hearing her confession, throwing books, wine glasses, and even his pipe as he stormed about the house. “Please, Daddy!” she'd begged. “Please let me get an abortion! I don't want this baby!”
But Daddy couldn't allow that. Not after everything else. So he fixed it. Daddy fixed everything. As best as he could, anyway.
“You'll have the child,” Kirk Vance told his tearful daughter. “That's the price you pay. Don't worry, though. We'll hire a nanny to do the dirty work, and when the time comes, we'll ship it off to a private school. You'll survive. You're a Vance, by God!”
And so it happened. And Ryan, upon learning of his impending fatherhood, wasted no time in joining the United States Army.
Be all that you can be, Ryan...
Ten years later, Jeremy Vance has met his father a total of three times.
You worthless son-of-a-bitch!
Still crying, Kara turned off the shower, and stepped onto the tile. Toweling off, she avoided her reflection in the mirror. She looked healthy, but no longer resembled the firm, All-American Cheerleader Goddess she'd once been. She now weighed forty pounds heavier than the night she graduated, and stretchmarks marred her breasts, hips, and navel. At twenty-eight, she could lose the weight in a matter of weeks if she tried...
But what's the point? Maybe when I'm ready to get married again.
Ah, the marriage. Still reeling from heartbreak, three months pregnant, Kara succumbed to parental goading and agreed to a date with Travis Reisinger, of the Hinckley Reisingers. A handsome jock, Travis had a bright future; just not as bright as Connor's. Kara found him charming—but then, she'd also been at her most vulnerable. Together, they'd received endless bombardment by both the Vances and Reisingers to get serious. Thus, after several months, Travis proposed, and Kara—spurred by her father's decree: “No Vance woman has ever had a child out of wedlock!”—accepted. All for the sake of appearances.
Yeah. Great fucking move.
Four years and two black eyes later, Kara filed for divorce. Travis never lived up to his potential, and took his failures out on her. Now, to her ultimate shame, the girl once voted “Most Likely To Succeed” again lives at home with her parents. Living on alimony, child support, and Daddy's allowance. A privileged life, no doubt, but a life cloaked with tragedy and regret. And from time to time, the dream returns. Reminding her. Disrupting her.
Wendy Hunicutt, still crying out from the grave.
I guess I ruined her life, Kara thought, not for the first time. Oh, well. I suppose we're more than even now...
After drying her face, the disgraced woman began to apply her makeup. Looking into her own eyes didn't help. The pain and sadness within almost made her want to end it all. Almost.
But I couldn't do that. No way. A Vance never quits...although I doubt any other Vance ever dealt with so much shit. Daddy and his fucking platitudes. It's all so easy for him. Water under the bridge, while my heart continues to bleed and break everyday...
God, it was all supposed to be so different! What the hell happened? What...was it...that...?
But no matter how many times she asked that question in the coming days, weeks, months, and years of her life, Kara Vance never understood what triggered all those horrible things the night Wendy Hunicutt committed suicide.
Kara never knew what came over her.
—January 24th, 2016