On a cold Valentine's evening a young woman finds out she has a secret admirer, and they want more than just her heart... And they'll do ANYTHING to get it!
Be Mine by Shane Migliavacca
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She’d just sat down on the bed, with the cat snuggling up next to her, when the knock at the door came. Blake looked over at her roommate Cassie, buried in her phone and closer to the door.
Cassie didn’t answer.
“Nope, guess not.”
Blake looked down at her cat, Dean.
She stood, as the cat looked up at her completely disappointed.
Blake crossed the small, messy dorm room as another knock came.
“I got it.”
“Huh?” Cassie mumbled.
Opening the door, Blake was greeted by Maggie from down the hall. The girl beamed at her from behind a pair of thick glasses.
“Here.” She thrust a pink heart shaped box at Blake.
“Uh, thanks. I guess.” Blake said, taking the box.
Maggie frowned. “It’s not from me. It was sitting on the table in the lobby with your name on it.” “Oh, thanks.” A box of candy… for her? There was nobody she could think of who’d do something like that.
“Going to the Valentine’s dance tonight?” Maggie asked, before Blake could shut the door.
“Nope, got a paper to finish.”
Blake shut the door. It really did suck, but not for the reason Maggie thought. She was struggling with the assignment, dragging her feet on it since day one. Now the deadline was looming.
There was a pink envelope taped to the box’s front with Blake’s name written in glitter. Inside was a Valentine’s card with a cute cat on the front which read ‘Your purrrfect’.
Underneath the card’s message was another, written in red ink. It read ‘Roses are red, violets are blue. I choose you. Meet me under the east bleachers at 8 pm’.
“What’s that?” Cassie asked.
“It’s alive.” Blake answered.
Blake rattled the box. “Someone left me a Valentine's gift.”
“You got a secret admirer.”
“Guess so, they want me to meet them tonight, under the bleachers.”
“Probably some townie rapists looking to assault a rich college girl.” “I’m not rich.”
“They don’t know that. Pop that fucker open.” Cassie said, sliding forward on her bed. “Bet there’s a human heart inside.”
“Nope, candies.” Blake answered, popping a chocolate into her mouth.
“Damn.” Cassie groaned. “Gonna meet this mystery admirer?”
“No time for love Dr. Jones. I’ve got a paper to finish.” Blake pet the cat, still lounging on her bed, before picking up her coat and book-bag. “I’m off to the library. Billy’s letting me in.”
“Oh kinky.” Cassie laughed. “There’s your secret heart sender.”
“Billy? I’m pretty sure he’s gay.”
“Well, so are you.” Cassie stated.
“It doesn't work that way. He doesn't have the kind of… parts I like.”
Blake slipped on her coat, and rested the strap of the book-bag on her shoulder.
“What about you, meeting Steve at the dance?”
Cassie’s gaze drifted over to her phone lying on the bed next to her.
“Naw, he’s busy tonight. Just gonna chill here with the cat and some TV.”
“Oh, sorry. I knew you were looking forward to it.”
A smile crept across Cassie’s face. “Hey, we could go together.”
Blake could see the hopeful look in her friend’s eyes, which made what she had to say painful.
“I’m sorry… I-I wish I could.” She said. “If I don’t hunker down and finish this paper… I can’t screw up. My parents sacrificed a lot to get me here.”
She could feel her heart start to beat a bit faster as she imagined going back home after flunking out… the disappointment etched into her parents’ faces.
Blake felt sweat trickle down her cheek as she started to breathe more rapidly.
‘Control’, she told herself, taking in a deep, slow breath.
“Don’t worry about it. I wasn’t totally serious about it.” Cassie said, perhaps sensing her friend’s stress. “I’m better off staying in tonight anyway.”
“Yeah, just a little bummed. Nothing big.”
“You sure? I could stay.”
“I’m sure. Go. Get that paper done.”
“Okay. I’m sorry.”
“Don’t be. I never am.”
Blake stepped out into the hallway, making her way past a group of girls all dressed up for the dance, before stepping outside into the bitter February air. The cold cut through her as she started across campus. Taking a pair of earbuds from her coat, she hit ‘play’ on her phone. She’d put together a mix for tonight… something to get her motivated and keep her going.
Walking along a lit path, snow and ice crunched under Blake’s boots. Taking in a deep breath of cold air, she felt her heartbeat going back to normal.
Since middle school, Blake had suffered panic attacks. She had trouble keeping her grades up… trouble fitting in. She’d found ways to cope with it over the years with the help of the school counselor, Miss Cheryl.
Getting this paper finished would relieve a lot of stress.
Most of the campus buildings were dark, only lit by a few lights left on inside and some spotlights outside. So many shadows, perfect for a townie to be lurking. Blake wanted to laugh off Cassie’s comment, but here… alone in the night… she wasn’t so sure it was something to laugh at.
Stopping to adjust her heavy book-bag, Blake became aware of something as the song she was listening to faded out. Footfalls on the snow.
She turned, picturing a salivating pack of townie boys ready to pounce.
Ready to swing her book-bag like a mace, Blake wouldn’t go down without a fight.
She turned and found herself face to face with a campus security guard.
“Hey… hey miss.” The man nodded. “Where are you headed tonight?”
Not wanting to get Billy in trouble, she fibbed.
“Meeting a friend to study.” She smiled.
She noticed his name-tag read ‘Stu’. He looked like a ‘Stu’ Blake thought.
“I see, nose to the grindstone and all that. Commendable.”
Blake could feel his eyes on her as she continued on. She felt a little better knowing there was somebody out keeping watch while most of the campus was at the dance.
The library, designed in the mid-sixties, stood out against the rest of the campus which had been renovated in the last few years.
She knocked on the staff door around the building’s back. After a few minutes of standing around waiting, and thinking Billy wasn’t even in there, the lock clicked and the metal door opened.
A young man, a thin shadow of stubble covering his lower face, peeked his head out. His eyes darted back and forth before stopping on Blake. “Is it secret? Is it safe?”
“Billy.” Blake said, wearily.
He smiled broadly. “Sorry, couldn’t resist… all this clandestine shit.”
“It was your idea for me to use the staff entrance.”
“Didn’t want somebody seeing you come in the front after hours. Old man Styles would have my ass for breakfast.”
Blake shivered as the wind gusted. “Gonna let me in already? My non-existent lady balls are freezing off. ”
Billy stepped aside and Blake entered what appeared to be the library’s office area… a cluttered mess of desks and cabinets. From somewhere in the library, Elvis crooned away as they stepped into the main room. Only half lit, the library was a maze of bookshelves and shadows.
“Feel free to set up shop anywhere, I’ll be down here doing inventory awhile, so don’t worry about getting the boot.”
Blake smiled. “Thank you for this. There’s just too much chaos back at the dorm to focus, besides Cassie didn’t go out tonight.”
“Oh, she didn’t go to the dance?”
“Naw, got stood up.”
“Kind of the same for me, all my help bailed so they could go to the dance.”
“Well, at least you got the King.”
“Music isn’t gonna be a problem is it?”
“Nope. Brought my own.” Blake pointed to her earbuds. “Where’s it coming from anyway?”
“Old man Styles has a record player hooked up to the PA. He’s got a shit ton of vinyl in his office.” Billy pointed over his shoulder at the head librarian’s office. “Helps the night go quicker.”
Blake headed upstairs, and plopped down at a desk off in a corner.
With her paper and reference material laid out on the desk, Blake popped open an energy drink and took a sip.
“Sweet, sweet caffeine.”
She un-paused her music and got to work.
Cassie’s finger hung over the ‘send’ button. How long ago had it been since she’d sent it? She wasn’t sure.
She read the message again:’ I know about the two of you’.
The message remained unseen by Steve. A part of her regretted sending it, the part that still loved him… even though she’d seen them together.
Fuck it. Fuck him, the shit.
“More Cheaters coming up.” The TV promised.
Cassie pet the cat lying next to her. “Here I am on Valentine’s Day, petting my gay roommate’s pussy, watching Cheaters all alone.”
Cassie groaned, tapping the back of her head against the wall.
“Sorry kitty, but I gotta bounce.”
Cassie put on some lipstick, looking at herself in the mirror.
“Fuck you Steve.”
Putting on her jacket, Cassie looked at the cat curled up on her bed.
“I’ll leave the TV on for you. Learn from Cheaters pal… don’t fall in love.”
Snow had begun to fall, whipped along by the wind. Cassie was in the mood to do something bad.
She could head to the dance, maybe find some action there. No, all those couples… dancing… kissing. She’d feel more alone then back in their dorm room.
Instead, Cassie headed towards the library.
She hugged herself as wind blew across the path, swirling snow in its wake.
Cassie approached the sliding glass doors and peered inside.
She knocked on the glass.
“Hello? Anybody around?”
She shivered and knocked on the window again. There seemed to be music coming from inside. Someone had to be in there.
“Hey! Anybody alive in there!”
“Keep it down!” A voice barked at her from inside.
Billy glared at her from over a stack of books.
Cassie frowned. “Sorry. Jeez. Is Blake in there?”
“I’m her roommate. I gotta tell her something.” Cassie shivered. “Please.”
Billy shook his head. “Go around back.”
Going around the back of the building, she saw the door open and the young man motioned for her to hurry up.
He slammed the door shut behind them as Cassie silently gave thanks for the heat.
“When I invited Blake to study here tonight, I didn’t think it was an open invitation.”
“Billy?” Cassie asked. “Blake didn’t tell me you were such a grump.”
He laughed. “I just don’t want to get my ass in trouble. This job helps pay the bills.”
Cassie looked him over. “I don’t see any trouble with your ass.”
This visibly threw him off.
“Um, so Blake is upstairs studying. I can show you the way.”
“No need to show me. I’ve been here before… I know her hangout spot.”
“I’ve noticed you around.”
A loud knock from the front of the library startled the both of them.
“What the fuck?” Billy complained. “Are you expecting somebody?”
“Um, no. Unless the cat followed me.”
“Bill Murdock?” A man hollered from outside.
“Shit.” Billy said. “Stay here. Stay hidden.” Billy left the office, Cassie could hear him talking to the other man… music from the speakers obscuring some of their conversation.
Billy assured him everything was okay.
The man laughed, then wished Billy a goodnight.
He came back looking harried.
“Everything cool?” Cassie asked.
“Yeah, just the security guy making his rounds. You better head up before someone else shows up.”
Stu almost made it back to the ‘security hut’ as he called it, when his phone rang. The ‘Psycho theme’ ringtone told him all he needed to know. He didn’t want to answer it… but ignoring it would be worse.
“Hi honey.” Stu tried to sound happy as he answered.
“What are you doing?”
“Walking my rounds. How about you honey?”
“Sitting here alone! What do you think?”
Shit. Wrong choice of words. “I’m sorry baby. If I could get out of this I would. But there’s nobody else.”
“Tell me the truth. You're not banging one of those young college floozies, are you?”
“No… ” He tried to reassure her. “I never would. I love you.” Somebody giggled.
“Are you laughing at me?” He asked.
“The hell are you talking about?”
The childlike giggle came again. This time he was sure it wasn’t his wife.
“Okay, who’s out there?”
Another giggle from somewhere in the dark, just off the footpath.
Stu took out his flashlight and shined it into the darkness. He expected to see a couple of the students pranking him… instead there was nothing.
“Stu! What the hell is going on?” His wife asked.
“Sorry honey, work… got to go.”
He hung up.
Stepping off the path, he shined his light over the snow covered ground. There was nothing out of the ordinary… but a quick flash of movement among the trees caught his eye. More giggling rung out.
“Look, knock it off kid. Go back to the dance or the dorm.” Un-holstering his pistol, Stu approached the trees.
“If I catch you and you’re high on something, your butt will be expelled!”
His gut instinct was to walk away. Don’t give the little punk the satisfaction of playing their game. Sadly, when it came to his job, Stu was a stubborn man… so he went forward.
“Listen. Show yourself. I’ll take you in, you can sleep it off on the couch and go in the morning. Sound good?”
Stu was answered with the sound of glass shattering.
“Shit. Had to do this the hard way.”
Ahead, through the trees, Stu could see the side of the Visual Arts building. The glass of one of the ground floor windows had been broken. Shining the flashlight inside, he could see traces of snow on the dark linoleum floor.
“So much for a quiet night.” He muttered, entering the side door.
Rounding the corner he stopped. Something was laid out on the floor in a straight line leading further down the hallway.
Stu bent down, getting a good look at what was sitting on the floor… a little pink candy heart.
For the first time he could remember, Stu was scared shitless.
As much as he wanted to head back to the hut and forget this crap, he couldn’t.
He stood, gun at the ready, and followed the trail of candy. The trail ended in front of a pair of large auditorium doors.
Stu nudged the doors open slowly. The large room was completely dark.
He advanced slowly down the main aisle, swinging his flashlight side to side. The light danced over the seats, pausing on each one long enough to see… nobody.
There was only one place left someone could be hiding, the stage. The stage was made up to look like a girl’s bedroom. There was a large bed, a desk, and nightstand.
As he walked up the wooden steps to the stage, there was an obvious shape under the blankets on the bed… a human shape.
“All right.” Stu said, gun trained on the bed. “Game’s up.”
He yanked back the blankets in one swift motion, ready to grab the little shit hiding there.
A grinning plastic face stared up at him from the human-sized doll that laid there.
Suddenly, pain erupted from his left Achilles tendon.
He fell hard sending his gun and flashlight from his hands and across the stage floor.
Stu watched as a figure slid out from under the bed and stood brandishing a bloody knife in their gloved hand.
The short figure wore a beat up old army jacket, with a gray hoodie underneath. The hood was pulled up, hiding their face in shadows. They playfully waved at him.
“Oh god.” Stu stammered. Turning over, he crawled towards the gun. “Leave me alone!” He screamed.
Those words would be Stu’s last as the figure jumped on his back, driving their knees in, and knocking the wind out of him. Stu felt the cold steel of the blade against his throat, as that childish laugh filled his ears.
Cassie found Blake sound asleep at her desk.
She didn’t have the heart to wake her sleeping friend. Instead she went downstairs where Billy was still hard at work as Bobby Darin sang about the sea.
“Don’t you ever take a break?”
“Sooner I get this done, sooner I get to go home and sleep.” Billy said, scanning a book.
“Sleep is overrated. C’mon, take a break.”
She walked over to Billy and leaned on one of the bookshelves, trying to look as seductive as possible.
“How’s Blake doing?” Billy asked, sounding a little uncomfortable with her close proximity.
“Unfortunately, she’s sleeping. Now, here’s my thing. I’m having a bad night. I need something, anything to take my mind off the shit.”
She leaned in close to Billy’s ear. “So, how about taking a break?”
“Listen, you're very attractive. Don’t think I haven’t noticed. But...um, I have a lot of work here and shit.”
She kissed him on the cheek. “I can help, I’m very good with the Dewey Decimal System.”
“Oh!” Cassie exclaimed. “So not gay.”
“Huh?” Billy looked up at her.
“Nothing.” She said, breathing heavy.
They were in the back corner of the library, behind a shelf of rarely used books.
Cassie laid her head on Billy’s bare shoulder.
“I don’t do this, it’s just tonight.” She said. “I don’t want you to think I’m easy.”
“I don’t… I wouldn’t.” Billy said. “I know this is just a fluke… a one time thing.”
“I wouldn’t say that.” She laughed. “We’ll see… okay?”
Cassie laid there feeling her heartbeat go back to normal. It was the first time she noticed the silence.
“Record stopped.” She said.
“How much trouble would you be in if Oldman Styles caught us?”
“Are you crazy, he’d have my ass thrown out of school.”
“From what I’ve heard, this isn’t the first time someone got some in the library.”
Cassie nodded. “And Coach Greer. It’s a rumor anyway.”
Billy laughed. “It’s more than that. I almost walked in on them one night in the projection room.”
“She might have asked you to join in!”
The pair giggled.
“Well, I got to get back to work.” Billy said. “I wish-”
Cassie cut him off, kissing him.
“I know, duty calls.” She sat up. “I’ll go see if Blake is up.” The PA crackled with static as another record started to play.
“How?” Cassie asked, looking at Billy.
“Only one way.” He replied. “Somebody else.”
“Who? Blake wouldn’t, I don’t think.”
“I’ll go look.”
“I’ll go with you.”
“Stay here. If it’s the old man or Stu or somebody… I’m toast.”
He surprised Cassie by giving her a quick kiss on her cheek. She watched him hurry off, feeling a sudden nervousness.
She waited, listening.
With the music it was hard to make anything out. Cassie could hear Billy say something, then he yelled one word that sent a chill through her whole being.
Blake woke with a start.
She’d dreamed of a dark figure standing behind her, stroking her hair. A great mechanical roar erupted from within it, making her jump.
Above her the overhead heater rumbled to life.
How long had she been asleep? How much time had she lost? She’d only meant to grab a quick nap.
Groggy, Blake fumbled for her phone, knocking over an empty energy drink.
“Caffeine, you betray me.”
The earbuds dangled from her ears, but her phone was gone. Blake checked the rest of the desk and the floor.
“What the hell?”
It couldn’t just be gone.
From downstairs music drifted up. Billy was still here. The music was something classical, though Blake wasn’t sure of the composer.
Blake went downstairs, despite the music, there was an odd stillness to everything.
The song reached its climax before going to static. Outside wind rattled the library’s large glass windows. The snow was starting to fall heavier now.
The clock over the front desk said 1: 30. She’d slept for hours.
“Billy.” She called out again, worry straining her voice.
From somewhere in the library a childlike giggle answered her.
“C’mon, this isn’t funny. Stop screwing around.”
Fear climbed up her ribcage and threatened to take hold of her. A flicker of light caught Blake’s eye. Something moved in the library’s rear, accompanied by the sound of voices.
The light was coming from the conference room. The wall mounted TV had been turned on, and a presentation on the college's renovation played to a darkened room.
A lone figure sat, back to Blake, watching the screen. Blake walked around the side of the seated figure, before she saw their face, she knew.
Billy sat there unmoving, staring straight ahead. A large bloody wound covered his chest. His arms laid outstretched in front of him, his hands cupped together holding something.
A heart sat in his hands. A note was pinned to it… ‘I heart you’ written in blood.
She ran from the room, and charged the front door, only to find it locked.
Frustrated and scared, she pounded on the glass, but it was unwavering.
There had to be another way out. The office, where Billy had let her in! Entering the office, Blake scanned the room, there could be somebody hiding behind one of the desks. The door on the other side of the room might as well have been miles away.
Blake grabbed a silver letter opener from the nearest desk. She held it out like a crucifix to ward off some unseen evil.
Blake got to the door without incident and found it locked.
She headed back out to the main area. There must be another way out… a fire exit, something...
She headed through the center of the library. Something slowly moved down one of the aisles, making Blake stop.
Crouching, she slid the letter opener into her jean’s pocket. She crawled on her hands and knees, trying to get a better view. Slowly she pulled a book from the shelf, and peered through the gap, coming face to face with Stu the security guard. His body lay on the ground, lifeless, his head tilted to the side looking straight at her.
Her breathing became louder, more ragged… threatening to give her away.
A gloved hand gripped her shoulder.
Grabbing a book from the shelf, Blake lashed out hitting somebody. She didn’t stay to see who.
She ran, throwing books over her shoulder at an unseen pursuer.
Blake ran back to the entrance, pounding on the glass. “Let me out!” She screamed.
Enthusiastic clapping made her turn to see a figure sitting on the checkout counter, a hood obscuring their face.
“Wow! That was great!”
They pulled the hood down, revealing a young woman with short black hair.
“I was surprised.” The girl said, holding up a cell phone. “You have an eclectic taste in music.”
The girl started swiping through tracks on the phone as Blake stood watching in shock.
“Some of it is good… but there’s a lot of crap.” She continued going through the songs. “Crap, crap, crap.”
“Ooh.” She laughed. “Barracuda!” Tossing the phone over her shoulder.
“What the fuck is going on?” Blake asked.
“Why didn’t you meet me?” The girl sounded hurt. “I sent you chocolates. Would it have been so hard? I thought you were different then those others.”
Blake had seen this girl somewhere before… in the dorm or a class… maybe they’d passed in the hallway.
The girl looked at her genuinely hurt. “You don’t remember? First day orientation? You sat down next to me and smiled. We talked about how nervous we were. Or that time I tripped? You stopped when nobody else did… helped me pick up my books… asked me if I was okay.” The girl sighed. “I’ve loved you since I first saw you. That's why I got transferred to Mr Sigmond’s class. So I could be near you.”
“You-you killed Billy because of me?” Blake felt her head spin.
“Like the song says, the problem with me is you.” The girl jumped down from the counter. “Billy wasn’t the only one. As you saw, I killed that doofus security guard… can’t have him interrupting.” She reached into her jacket and pulled out a keychain. “Besides I needed this.”
This was madness, Blake needed to get away… get help. She felt her heart beat faster… felt it harder to breathe.
“You think I’ll just fall in love with you?”
“Why not? You're the only one who ever noticed me… no one else has. They ignore me.”
“Oh god, you insane bitch.”
“I’m in love.”
“Maybe, maybe you are.” Blake smiled. “You did all this for me?”
She walked towards the girl. “I don’t even know your name.”
“Terri. My name is Terri.”
“That’s a nice name.”
Blake reached her hand out towards the girl. Her other hand slid into her pocket, touching the hilt of the letter opener.
Terri grabbed Blake’s outstretched arm, pulling her along.
“C’mon! I have one last gift for you!”
They stopped at the door to old man Styles office.
“What’s behind door number one?” Terri asked. “Any guesses?”
Blake held the letter opener, now concealed under her shirt sleeve. What could this maniac be planning?
“No? All right.” Terri sighed, a little disappointed.
She opened the door, to reveal a beaten Cassie lashed to Mr. Styles’ chair. Terri wheeled her out of the office.
“Oh shit.” Blake took a step back. “What have you done?”
“Nothing… but you’re going to. See, she had to come snooping around… screw up everything. She gave Billy a pretty good screw before I killed him.”
Cassie glared at the girl. A muffled “Fuck you.” could be heard through her gag.
“If you really, really love me, then you’ll kill her… like I killed for you.”
Terri pulled Stu’s gun from her jacket, and pushed the barrel against Cassie’s temple. With her other hand, she pulled a large knife out and tossed it onto the floor in front of Blake.
“Two things can happen.” Terri stated. “Pick up that knife and kill her… or I kill the both of you.”
Blake shook her head in disbelief. “How would we get away with it? Your fingerprints… my fingerprints… all over everything.”
“Simple. She did it. We’d be each other’s alibi. She went nuts, killed Stu… fucked Billy… and then came after us. We killed her in self defense.”
“And we live happily ever after?”
“More or less.”
Blake looked down at her best friend, then up at Terri. Bending down she picked up the knife and stood in front of her terrified friend.
Terri trained the gun on Blake. “Don’t try anything.”
Blake and Cassie locked eyes.
“Would you just kill the bitch already.” Terri ordered. “It’s been a long night.”
Blake took a deep breath, finally in control.
She pushed the chair into Terri with all her strength, knocking the girl down. The gun erupted as Terri fired.
Blake fell on the girl. They struggled, and the gun flew from Terri’s hand. The two fought for the knife, until finally the knife found its way into Terri.
Terri looked into Blake’s eyes, and smiled, blood staining her lips. “She loves me. She loves me not.” Terri lamented, touching Blake’s face before letting out a groan and going limp.
Blake used her last bit of strength to cut her friend free.
“You okay?” She asked Cassie.
“Not really.” Cassie laughed, choking back tears.
“Fuck.” Blake said, looking down at her side. An expanding red stain darkened her shirt. “I’ve been shot.”
“Hang on, I’ll get help.”
Cassie ran into Styles’ office. Blake could hear her talking to 911.
Blake leaned against a bookshelf, looking at Terri.
“Happy fucking Valentine's Day.”
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