“I know she did it. I saw her stab them both a bunch of times with a knife,” the blonde girl said.
“How many times would you say she stabbed each of them?” the attorney asked.
“I’m not exactly sure. I was kind of far away. Maybe a dozen times each.”
“And how are you sure Mrs. Smith-Kensington killed them, if you were, as you put it, ‘kind of far away’?”
“They lived down the street from us. I knew them well enough to know it was her. I saw her stabbing Jack. He screamed, which made Mr. Kensington come running. By the time he got to her, I think Jack was dead, because he didn’t get up or scream any more. Then, she stabbed Mr. Kensington until he stopped screaming. I know she did it.”
The judge pounded her gavel. “The jury will deliberate and come to a decision.”
Later, the foreman of the jury said, “Guilty of the first-degree murder of Jack Kensington and the second-degree murder of Thomas Kensington.”
“The court sentences you to life in prison,” the judge said.
The creepy, glaring green eyes. “You will pay.”
I woke suddenly. My fear of Daniella coming and killing me already made it so that I couldn’t sleep well. And now, I had to have one of those dreams. Ever since I testified against her when I was ten, I had creepy dreams about Mrs. Smith-Kensington and couldn’t help worrying that one day, she’d come after me, even though I knew she lived behind bars.
A scream pierced the quiet. I thought the screaming came from my dream, but I couldn’t have imagined that. A second scream echoed through the night. I crawled out of the thorns. I didn’t want to just sit around if someone needed help. But I had no weapon. I wondered if I should go to the community pile to see if a knife was there, but by that time, the person could be dead. The lack of light made it hard to see. I wanted to follow the screams, but no more came.
I realized as I ran that I should have checked my sisters’ safety before I left. I tore through trees and brush in search of whoever screamed, scared now, that it was one of my sisters. Thorns scraped my arms and legs as I ran through the forest. I found nothing. Maybe my dream confused me and just thought I heard a scream? It got a little lighter as I continued farther. I looked down and stopped short. Daniella lay on the forest floor. Blood saturated her clothes. And again, on the ground, in capital letters I read the word, “ASK”.
I screamed and ran back to the thorn shelter. I couldn’t believe Rupert did this, but what other choice did I have?
When I got back, the sun shone brighter and Rupert and my sisters sat awake in the tunnel.
“Shayne, where were you? We were a bit worried,” Natalie said.
“Rupert, you need to go,” I said.
“I need to talk to my sisters. Go away.”
“Okay?” Rupert said, looking confused and crawling out of the thorny tunnel. He walked away.
After he left, I crawled in.
“Guys, I just found Daniella dead. That means Rupert’s the murderer.”
“What?” both my sisters said.
“Daniella’s dead. Isn’t that clear enough? Rupert killed her. He was the one with the knife.”
“But he’s only a kid. How could a kid do something like that?” Natalie said.
“Well, none of us did it.”
“But Rupert’s a nice guy,” Ginny said.
“Anyone can act.”
“But Rupert’s not like that.”
“How can you say that, Ginny? You hardly know him. If he didn’t, who do you think did?”
“I just can’t believe it. I can’t wrap my mind around it,” Natalie said.
“We need to stay away from him. If he already killed all those other people, how can we say he won’t kill us?”
“But how can we expect him to leave us alone?”
“I think we should move back to our shelter. He can stay here,” I said.
“But I still can’t believe it’s him,” Ginny said.
“Ginny, everyone else is dead. He killed them, unless there’s some thing one of you aren’t telling me.”
“Are you accusing me of murder? Of murdering my own aunt?”
“No. We clearly didn’t. Therefore, he did.”
“Wow, I’m really hungry and thirsty,” Ginny said later that day, after the initial shock about Rupert lessened.
“We could probably be safe if we all went together. We could go to the community pile and get the other knife,” I said.
“Shayne, you’re not going to stab Rupert, are you?” Ginny said.
“If he attacks us, yes! I’m not letting a little creep murder any of us. We shouldn’t act like this is nothing just because he’s a little kid.”
We crawled back through the tunnel and stayed close to each other as we walked. We went to the community pile, but all the knives were gone.
“See? He took them to leave us defenseless. We need to hurry up and get water. Them we need to get to safe place. Maybe we should go somewhere else so he won’t find us,” I said.
We made it to the water pool and Natalie started drinking. I had just knelt down, when Ginny gasped. I looked at her. She stared at the ground. About a foot in front of her a snake slithered toward her. I was as terrified as she looked. We both hated snakes. We both crouched there, not moving. The snake moved closer. I tried to think of what to do, but couldn’t. The snake struck and bit Ginny’s ankle. She screamed. At that, Natalie turned and looked at Ginny. Leaves cracked to my right. It sounded like rapid footsteps getting closer. Rupert ran up, knife in hand. I was terrified. Who did he intend to kill? Next thing I knew, Rupert jumped in front of me and cut the snake’s head off. I breathed hard. I looked at Ginny. She looked close to tears. Rupert knelt next to her.
“I don’t think you should move a lot. It’s better for you to stay calm and still,” Rupert said. “But we should stop that bleeding.”
I looked at Ginny’s ankle. I hadn’t even noticed the blood. Rupert pulled off his shirt and tied it around her ankle.
“You okay?” he asked.
Ginny nodded and sniffed. Rupert looked the snake.
“Lucky for you, Ginny, that snake wasn’t poisonous,” he said.
“Well, that’s a relief,” Ginny said, her face paler than normal.
“We better get away from the snake. They can still bite after they’re dead.”
“You! Why would you save her?” I asked Rupert.
“Umm, why wouldn’t I?”
“When you’ve killed all these other people, how can I not expect you to come after us?”
“What are you talking about? I didn’t kill anyone.”
“How can any of us believe you?”
“What motive could I have for killing all those people? I don’t want to go to jail.”
“How do I know you aren’t just making things up? You’re the only one besides us here.”
“I don’t know if this makes any difference, but I decided to make God my Heavenly Father after you sent me away.”
“Really, Rupert? That’s great!” Natalie said.
“So, please will you let me come back with you guys?”
I thought about it. If he was the killer and just made up his getting saved, I didn’t want him near me and my sisters. And how could he not be the murderer? What if he just wanted to get me to trust him again?
“Shayne, what if he gave us all the knives? Then, say he just happened to be the murderer. He couldn’t do anything to us,” Ginny said.
“If he didn’t do it, who do you think did, Ginny?” I asked harshly.
“Could there be natives after all?” Ginny said.
“I’ve been all over this island. We’re the only ones here,” Rupert said.
“How can we trust anything you say?” I said.
“If I was the killer, wouldn’t I want you to think there were natives on this island to get the blame off myself?” Rupert said.
Ginny looked at Rupert, then at me. “Shayne, I don’t know why, I just feel like we can trust him. I mean, he just jumped in front a snake for me.”
“Maybe we should see what bodies are still around,” Natalie said.
“Why? What good would that do?” I said.
“What if someone just faked being dead?”
“To get us to eliminate them as a suspect?” I said.
“Yeah. That would be smart. I can more see that than Rupert being the killer.”
I thought about it. I guess it didn’t make sense for Rupert to be the murderer. He always seemed like a nice kid and why would he save Ginny from the snake if he wanted us dead?
“Fine. Rupert, give us the three knives,” I said.
“Three? I only have the knife that we found with Caroline’s body, and another from the community pile,”
“Then, where’s the other knife?” I said.
“Whoever faked being dead must have it. That’s how they’ve been killing people,” Natalie said.
“But why do you have another knife?” I asked Rupert.
“I took it form the pile so the murderer wouldn’t get it.”
“That seems suspicious to me. How can we know you didn’t take it so you could use it to kill the rest of us, who are defenseless?”
“Well, I’m going to give you guys them both and make myself defenseless. Isn’t that good enough for you?”
“How do we know you don’t have the third one hiding somewhere? How do we know you won’t attack us in our sleep?”
“I seriously don’t have it. What do I have to do to prove that to you?”
“We’ll go look for the bodies. If one of them is gone, I’ll be more likely to believe you. But that doesn’t mean I do yet. Anyway, are you going to give those knives over?” I said.
“Shayne, do you really still think he’s the murderer?” Ginny said.
“Well, you certainly can’t expect me to believe him just like that. I say he’s guilty unless proven otherwise.”
“That’s fair enough, I guess,” Rupert said. Rupert handed one of the knives to me and the other to Natalie. “Now, Ginny, I don’t think you should go walking around a lot. You need to rest.”
“All right. Maybe we should just go to the shelter and look around tomorrow.”
“We could stay in our stick shelters now,” Natalie suggested.
“All right, then Rupert can stay in his own shelter. Let’s go,” I said.
“Can you walk?” Rupert asked Ginny.
“Maybe. It hurts.”
Rupert helped her to her feet and said, “Lean on me a second.”
Ginny leaned her weight on Rupert and her good leg and tried to stand on the bad leg.
“Shayne, come here. I don’t want girl cooties,” Rupert said.
I walked over and Rupert transferred Ginny’s weight to me. I helped her limp to the shelters.
Suddenly, Ginny threw up. Natalie made a face that showed her disgust at the vomit but then her expression changed to one of compassion.
“You okay?” I asked Ginny.
She nodded. We crawled into the girl shelter.