My freshman year of high school was what had to be the worst year of my life. I used to keep this story to myself- I never told anyone, never wrote it down. I just never saw a point. It’s hardly even possible that anyone would ever believe me. They’d think I was crazy. Which wouldn’t be fair with how much I’ve gone through. But now, I’m dying and my story must be told. I have to warn others not to play the game.
My name is Olivia Rose Caplan, but everyone just calls me Livvy. When I finished eighth grade, my parents decided that they wanted to move from our sunny home in Los Angeles to a small, rainy town in Maine. There, I would attend an all-girls school that I cannot put the name of or else this will be taken down without a doubt. To be honest, I’m not even sure if the school is still open, or if it was closed down. Still, I’ll just call it Hillside High School for Girls. Of course, “Hellside” would work pretty well, too.
At the time, the only things I dreaded were Hillside’s dull and boring school uniforms, and the fact that I didn’t know anybody. The second dread was actually a bit of my own fault. After all , I was in town for most of the summer, but I spent all of that time cooped up in my room reading ghost stories and H.P. Lovecraft. But I was fine with that. I didn’t plan on fitting in with any of these girls. I had a feeling that they were all going to be very boring. In fact, I had a feeling that the whole time we lived in Maine was going to be boring.
Boy, was I wrong about that last part.
About a week before the school year began, I started having these nightmares. At first, I didn’t think anything of them. After all, with all the horror I had been reading, I was sure to have a nightmare or two. But I began to worry about myself when I was having the same nightmare every single night for a straight week.
They were about this girl in the Hillside school uniform- white button up shirt, dark blue blazer, gray and black and blue plaid skirt, white knee socks, and a pair of Mary Janes- and pitch black pigtails. There was blood on her shirt that looked as if someone had wiped it there with very bloody fingers. The girl had very odd hands. Instead of fingers, she had long, black claws. Even odder was her face. The left side was the face of a girl. Pale skin, with a few blemishes here and there, pink lips, and a beautiful blue eye with flecks of brown, green, orange, and even a little lavender. Her eye was surrounded by thick black eyeliner and eyelashes so full they might have been fake. The right side of her face, however, was far from normal. The skin was white. Not Caucasian white. Pure white. White as freshly fallen snow or fluffy summer clouds. There wasn’t a single blemish in sight and the skin looked as soft as feathers. A smile was cut into the right side of the girl’s face, starting from the corner of her mouth and going up her cheek, giving her a perpetual lopsided grin. Her entire right eye was black. The pupil, the iris, even the part that was supposed to be white. Her black bangs would always brush against the eyelashes of her right eye except for the few seconds after she would flip her hair . The girl’s movements were how one might imagine the movements of a living marionette puppet. With restriction, but still a little bit of freedom. Sometimes I would try to imagine what her puppetmaster would look like, but I could never come up with anything.
But I think the thing about the girl that creeped me out the most was what she would say.
“Don’t play the game.”
She would say it over and over again. It wasn’t the phrase itself that creeped me out. It was her voice. Or rather, voices.
One voice was a heartbreaking, terrified sob. The other was a blood curdling scream.
I didn’t tell anyone about the nightmares. Not my mom, not my dad. No one.
When the first day of school came, I knew I wasn’t going to fit in. Where the girls at Hillside High School for Girls had long silky hair and girly jewelry, I had short, choppy hair and studded bracelets. Plus, I wasn’t interested in anything they were. They loved shopping, I loved reading. They loved hanging out with friends, I loved reading. They loved talking on the phone, I loved reading. They… well, you get the idea.
Anyways, it wasn’t long before I was known as an outsider and a freak.
So I spent most of my study halls and free periods at the school library. It was there that I found an old school yearbook.
It was the only school yearbook in the whole library. It was wedged between two books on encounters with ghosts. I thought that it was weird that it was there, because I had been to that section millions of times, and I had never seen it before. Someone must have put it there. Put it there for me to find.
When I asked the librarian about the yearbook, she said she didn’t even know that the yearbook was in the library. After checking to make sure it wasn’t from any of the four years she had attended Hillside, the librarian handed it back to me with a smile.
Turns out, the yearbook was from about thirty years before the school librarian had attended Hillside- making it from the 60s. 1966, to be exact.
With all my homework done and nothing better to do, I decided to look at the yearbook. It was actually pretty cool looking at the yearbook. It was sort of like looking back into the past- which, I guess I was doing. The uniforms were the same, but the hair and makeup were drastically different.
About halfway through the yearbook, it was almost time for me to go home. I decided to look at one more page before I packed up my stuff.
When I turned the page, I gasped, and nearly dropped the yearbook.
There, on the page, in the third row, second column, was the girl from my nightmares, the right side of her face matching the left, smiling up at me.
It was eerie. There was no way that she was real. This had to be some kind of crazy coincidence. There was no way in hell that the ghost of some girl named Julia, who attended this school in the 60s, was visiting me in my dreams, telling me not to play some game.
No. Fucking. Way.
I must have been pretty freaked out, because the school librarian was standing in front of me, saying my name in a way that suggested that she had been saying it for a while.
“Livvy, your mom is here to pick you up,” she told me once she had gotten my attention.
“Oh, thanks,” I replied, shoving my belongings into my bookbag.
“Do you want to take the yearbook home with you?” she asked.
I shook my head. “No thank you.” There was no way in hell that I was taking that thing home with me.
I didn’t say much on the way home, which wasn’t out of the ordinary. Usually I’d read a book or do homework on the ride home. That day I just stared blankly out the window, my thoughts racing so fast, they would have given The Flash a good run for his money. I also didn’t say anything to my mom and dad that night except for a quick “Good night” before I went upstairs to take a shower and go to sleep. Well, try to go to sleep. No matter how much I tossed and turned, I just couldn’t fall asleep. I tried counting, reading, listening to music, but nothing worked. Nothing! Thoughts of Julia Melville just kept sneaking into my mind, not letting me think about anything else. I was going to go insane if I didn’t do something.
I sighed as I slid out of my bed and into my desk chair. My body protested at first, urging me to get back in bed, to try again to fall asleep, but as soon as I turned on the computer, the blue light blinding me, I was wide awake. (Of course, my computer being the pain in the ass it is, it decided that right then was the perfect time to update. FUCK YOU, WINDOWS 7)
I pulled up Chrome and clicked on the search bar. At first I wasn’t sure what to type and I just stared blankly at the Sailor Scouts. Then I typed in “Julia Melville Hillside High School for Girls 1966.” I expected- and sort of hoped- that nothing would show up.
I got a whole lot of nothing.
Attending Hillside High School for Girls wasn’t the only thing that Julia had done in 1966.
She had also died.
It seemed to me that the press had had a field day with Julia Melville’s death. There were hundreds of articles, maybe even thousands, dating from November 1966, when she died, all the way up to the early 90s. I decided to read the earlier articles, since the more recent ones were more like conspiracy theories. But even in those ones, the details were minimum.
The students had all claimed that Julia was a very close friends of theirs and it was so awful that this sort of thing had happened to her. You know, generic “Someone-at-my-school-just-died” stuff. So I had no idea what was true and what wasn’t. The teachers said that Julia was very talented and got nearly perfect grades and her parents were devastated when they got the news. A girl committed suicide a few weeks afterwards. I read those articles for a good two hours, but I still had no idea why Julia’s ghost was haunting me. And what did she mean by “Don’t play the game?” None of it made sense.
I sat back in my chair, realising that my face was only a few inches from the screen, and took a deep breath. What was I missing here?
I pulled up a couple more articles. After I read them, I said, “Huh. That’s odd.”
What I found was very, very odd.
Apparently, even though a whole bunch of people thought that Julia had been murdered, it was said to have just been a freak accident. If it had just been a freak accident, then why did that girl commit suicide? One article had also said that there had been tons of things that suggested foul play, yet it was still marked down as an accident. Not only that, but it also seems that the school tried to cover up Julia’s death (it didn’t work, obviously). This was all beginning to sound very suspicious.
It took a lot of digging, but I was soon able to find out what the crime scene had looked like.
Julia had died in the bathroom. The door had been locked from the outside, leaving her trapped in there with no way to get out. The mirrors were all broken, shards of glass littering the floor. The police claimed that she had bled to death, as did the autopsy report. Honestly, I didn’t even see how that would be possible. Unless, of course, the shards of glass from the mirrors had magically cut her deep enough, which I seriously doubt happened.
But what did happen?
I pulled up Julia’s autopsy report again.
According to the report, Julia did bleed to death from a stab wound in her abdomen. That confused me. Did that mean that the ghost of Julia’s murderer was visiting me? Because the blood on her shirt had been wiped there- most likely by someone else- and definitely hadn’t been enough blood for someone to have bled to death.
And how the hell did they get away with calling all this an accident?
I glanced at the bottom corner of my screen, then sighed and massaged my temples. It was almost three in the massaged my temples. it was almost three in the morning, and I still had no idea what had happened to Julia Melville in that bathroom in 1966, why a ghost was visiting me in my dreams, or what this all had to do with some game.
“Julia, what the hell happened to you?” I muttered, sitting back in my chair and staring at the computer screen in frustration.
Suddenly, another tab opened on my browser without me even touching the mouse. Then the words “Bloody Mary” appeared in the search bar. I stared at the computer, expecting it to search the name, but nothing happened. So Julia was killed by Bloody Mary? At first, i didn’t believe it. As much as I believe in ghosts, I have never really believed in Bloody Mary. I mean, it seemed just like a silly game to me. I never took the idea of her being real into consideration.
Apparently I was wrong.
Now that I thought about it, Julia or whoever I was being visited by being killed by Bloody Mary did make sense. The bathroom, the smashed mirrors, the blood wiped on her shirt.
But why on Earth was Julia Melville playing Bloody Mary? She was a junior when she died. Wasn’t she a little old for that game?
Then I thought about how the bathroom door was locked from the outside, the girls’ claims that they were all close friends with Julia. Had some of the girls forced her to do it? Locked her in there and said that they wouldn’t let her out until she did it? It made sense. It seemed that was the end of the story and now I could climb back into bed and go to sleep and for the first time in two and a half weeks not be visited by Julia’s tortured ghost.
But one piece of the puzzle just didn’t seem to fit: Julia’s appearance.
Why did she look like that? The black colored eye, the cut smile, the pure white skin, the claws. None of it made sense.
I rubbed my eyes. I was super tired. I hadn’t slept at all that night and I doubt the fact that I had been staring at the brightly lit computer screen the whole time was helping much. I wasn’t going to be able to stay awake in any of my classes.
I x-ed out of Chrome and crawled back into my bed, the soft and warm blankets welcoming me with an embrace. I fell asleep almost instantly.
Julia’s ghost visited me that night, but it wasn’t the normal dream.
I was standing in front of the bathroom where Julia had been murdered. I was alone. Then Julia strode out of the shadows.
“Hello, Livvy,” she greeted me. Even though she seemed really calm, her voice was the same: one voice crying, the other screaming.
“Hello, Julia,” I replied.
“Do you know how I died?” she asked cocking her head.
I shifted my weight on my feet, uncomfortable. “Well, I have a general idea.”
Julia laughed. It was a horrifying laugh, the crying and screaming still there. “Having a general idea and knowing are two completely different things.”
A chill went down my spine and suddenly I wanted to leave. I wanted to be anywhere but there. But I was dreaming, so I was in my mind. In this dream, I seemed to have all five senses, so pinching myself wasn’t going to do me any good. I was trapped there until Julia wanted me to leave.
“What am I doing here?” I demanded.
She grinned. “Don’t you wanna see how I died?” Julia asked in a sing-song tone, which sounded really demented in her two voices.
My heart skipped a beat. “Are you going to show me?”
“Might as well since we’re already here.” Once again she spoke in a sing-song tone, sending shudders down my spine. Julia changed to how she looked in the yearbook- how she must have looked in 1966, on the night she died. She giggled in a normal voice, then vanished.
I heard more giggling, only it wasn’t Julia. It was two other girls, done up in popular 60s makeup and hairstyles. They were gossiping about someone.
“Don’t you think it’s odd that she never wears makeup?” asked one girl.
“Yeah,” the other girl replied. I recognized her to be the girl who had committed suicide. Her name was Bonnie Anders. “I really wish she would, so we wouldn’t have to look at her hideous face.” It was mean, but it sounded forced. The two of them tittered.
Disgusted, I moved to turn away, but suddenly Julia’s clawed hands came from behind me and grabbed onto my shoulders, holding me in place. “Stay,” she said in her voices. “It’s almost to the good part.” I thought that this was a very strange thing for someone to say about their own death, but I obeyed.
“Do you want to know what I heard?” the first girl asked.
“What?” asked Bonnie.
The girl looked around before answering. “I heard that her parents are dirty pot smoking hippies!”
Julia’s grip on my shoulders tightened as Bonnie’s hand flew to her mouth. “No!” she gasped.
The other girl nodded and continued, “Disgusting hippie scum like her should be wiped off the face of the Earth.” Suddenly a wicked expression appeared on her face. “We should make an example of her.”
“You mean kill her?”
“If it comes to that, yes.”
“But kill… I don’t know, Joann, that might not be such a good idea. After all, killing is a sin and-”
“So?” There was venom in Joann’s voice now. “Half the things those hippies do are sins. In fact, it was a hippie that killed my dad.”
“I thought that was an accident.”
Joann wrinkled her nose. “So he claimed. But I don’t buy it. So basically it’s an eye for an eye sort of thing.”
“But Joann, I-”
Joann whirled around and glared at her friend. “You don’t what, Bonnie? What do you don’t? You don’t want to be my friend anymore? Is that it?”
“No, it’s just-”
“Then you’ll help me kill Julia. Don’t even try to back out of this. Besides, you aren’t going to kill her. I am.”
“But what if we get caught?” Bonnie asked anxiously. I felt bad for her. She didn’t want to kill Julia. Joann was forcing her into it.
“We aren’t going to get caught. I have the perfect plan. Do you remember that game we used to play? Bloody Mary?”
“Yes, of course.”
“Well, that’s my plan. We’ll make it look like she was playing the game, and this time Mary actually came. We’ll do it here, at the school around midnight. Nobody will ever trace it back to us. It’s the perfect crime. Only three people will know about it: you, me, and Julia.”
Then the two of them vanished.
“So Joann and Bonnie killed you?” I asked as Julia stepped out from behind me.
“No,” she said, shaking her head.
“Then who did?”
“Wait, what? Do you mean Bloody Mary actually did kill you?”
Julia winked. “Watch and find out. I wouldn’t want to spoil the end.” Another set of shivers ran down my spine as Julia disappeared.
Then it was night. At least, I think it was. The school was dark. Voices started making their way down the hall.
“Are you sure that it’s okay for us to be here?” a girl I recognized to be Julia asked.
“Of course,” Joann laughed gleefully. “Nobody is here this late at night, so it’s not like we’ll get in trouble or anything. Come on, it’ll be fun.”
“Hey, Bonnie, are you okay?” Julia asked. “You don’t look so good.”
Sure enough, Bonnie looked like she was about to throw up. She opened her mouth to reply to Julia’s question, but before she even had a chance, Joann answered for her.
“She’s just nervous that her grandmother will find out,” Joann lied. “She’s really strict. Bonnie’s taking a big chance coming here tonight.”
“Bonnie, you didn’t have to come if it meant you would get in trouble,” Julia told her. Bonnie looked like she was going to be even more sick at her kindness.
“Of course she had to,” Joann said. “We’re your friends. And friends do anything for each other. Right, Bonnie?” She just gave a weak nod in reply. “So, Julia, how about a game of Bloody Mary?”
Bonnie went pale.
“Bloody Mary?” Julia repeated. “Aren’t we a little old to be playing that game?”
“We don’t have to play the game if you’re too scared,” Joann teased.
“I’m not scared,” Julia said flatly.
“Then let’s play!” Joann laughed. The three girls ran into the bathroom. I followed them in, unsure of what else to do.
Bonnie closed the door with trembling hands.
“Bonnie, don’t forget to turn off the lights,” Joann chided. Bonnie hesitated before doing it. But she still did it.
Just as I was thinking about how grateful I was that it was dark, that I wasn’t going to have to actually watch Julia die, watch Joann kill her, Julia’s ghost whispered in my ear, “Let’s shed a little light on the subject, shall we?” Then I could see everything. The whole scene. Bonnie, Joann, and Julia standing in front of the mirrors. Bonnie was wringing her hands and Joann kept glancing in the direction of Julia, even though I doubt she could see anything. Julia was just standing there, completely oblivious if what was about to happen.
“To them it’s pitch black,” Julia’s ghost explained to me. “But we can see everything.”
Then the three girls started turning around three times, chanting “Bloody Mary” with each turn. When they finished, they just stood there, waiting for something to happen.
And something happened.
Something none of them had expected.
She wasn’t there, and then she was. A fourth girl. She appeared in the room, right next to Joann. It was horrifying enough, right there in full light. I can’t even imagine what it must have been like in the dark.
The girl was wearing a bloody white nightgown. Her long, chocolate brown hair was a knotted mess and a lock of it hung in front of her face. her lips were blood red, dark circles under her eyes. And her eyes. Oh, her eyes! They were furious and searching. Searching for what, I don’t know, but searching, nonetheless. Then there were her fingers. Once you saw them, you couldn’t tear your gaze away from them. Where her fingernails should have been, there was blood. So, so much blood.
There was no denying who this girl- or at least, ghost of a girl- was.
Bloody Mary, the one and only.
Millions of girls play the game. Daring each other to do it at slumber parties and and grade school bathroom breaks. Nothing ever happens except the girls exploding in giggles.
But that night, when these three girls called her, Bloody Mary came. And she came with a purpose, that much was obvious.
“Thanks for the invite to the party,” Mary hissed into Joann’s ear. Joann went as white as a ghost- no pun intended.
Then Mary stood in front of Julia.
I couldn’t bring myself to watch. I closed my eyes.
But I could still hear.
Julia’s terrified screams filled my ears and tears filled my eyes.
When Julia had stopped screaming, I opened my eyes again, but her ghost had made it dark again and I couldn’t see a thing.
“Turn on the light!” Joann cried in a shaky voice. Bonnie ran to the bathroom door and flipped the light switches. When the lights came on, Bonnie turned around and saw Julia lying on the floor, dead.
“Joann! Oh, Joann, Joann, Joann!” Bonnie gasped. “What have you done?”
Julia was spread out on the tiled floor, a scream of terror frozen on her face. Her black hair and a puddle of blood surrounded her.
“I didn’t do it!” Joann said. She was panicked and on the verge of hyperventilation.
Bonnie and Joann stood in silence for a while, neither one of them able to speak.
“If you didn’t, then who did?” Bonnie asked finally, breaking the silence.
Joann opened her mouth to reply, but before she even had the chance to form the words, a bell could be heard jingling wildly. It seemed to have no definite source, instead, coming from everywhere at once. Then it sounded like the bell fell to the ground with a small thud! and all the mirrors in the bathroom exploded. Shards of glass covered the floor and both girls screamed.
Julia’s body jerked, causing Bonnie and Joann to stare in horror. Suddenly her eyes and mouth snapped shut and her right arm shot up in the air, followed by the left, both hands hanging limp. Then the rest of Julia’s body followed, dragged up by her wrists like a marionette puppet, her head lolling from side to side before it lifted and her eyes shot open. her right eye was black, just like in my nightmares.
A demented grin crossed her face.
“Hello, Joann. Hello, Bonnie,” Julia said in her half screaming, half crying voice. Bonnie started sobbing. “Do you wanna see what I can do?” Julia continued in a sing-song tone. Then she raised her hands, still moving like a marionette. Julia’s fingers began to stretch and turn black until they grew into long claws. White swirled into the right side of her face until there was a clean line down the middle of her face, right side pure white, left side normal. Then Julia smiled and when she did, a cut started forming from the right corner of her mouth, curving up as it made its way up her cheek, stopping when it was just centimeters from the corner of her black eye.
My stomach lurched and Bonnie screamed.
“Bonnie, you can go,” Julia said. “You didn’t do anything wrong. This is all Joann’s fault.”
Bonnie hesitated at first, not sure if she wanted to leave her friend alone to face Julia’s ghost, but when Julia yelled “Go!” Bonnie obeyed and ran from the bathroom.
Once she was gone, Joann asked, “What do you want from me?” She tried to sound brave, but it didn’t work very well.
“What do I want from you?” Julia scoffed. “How dare you ask me that question. You acted like you wanted to be friends, but you just wanted to kill me. Last I checked, friends don’t try to murder each other. You have a very twisted mind. Oh, and by the way, my parents are lawyers, not hippies. If you would have actually taken the time to know me, you would have known that. So basically, you had no reason to kill me. Just goes to show how stupid you are. You’re going to rot in Hell- if that place is even real. I won’t be finding out any time soon. I’ll be staying in this world for a little while more.”
“Look, I’m sorry-” Joann started.
“Sorry doesn’t cut it!” Julia screamed. She was no longer moving like a marionette. She was moving of her own free will. “You tried to KILL me! You tried to kill me, and all you have to say for yourself is SORRY? You’re such a PATHETIC PIECE OF SHIT! Do you know that? Because you should.”
“But I didn’t kill you, Bloody Mary did,” Joann objected.
“So?” Julia snapped. “You’re the one who brought me here. You’re the one who said we should play the game. You’re the one who wanted me dead in the first place. So it’s your fault. All of it. Yours, and yours alone.” Julia started walking towards Joann, who in turn began backing away until her back was against the wall and Julia was just inches away.
“Do you want to know what I think you deserve, Joann?” Julia asked quietly. “I think, that for everything that you’ve caused tonight, you deserve to die. After all, because of you, my parents will have never gotten to tell me goodbye, and I’ll never say bye to them. They don’t even know that I came here tonight. They had to work late and were already gone when I woke up this morning. Now, my father will live out the rest of his days as an alcoholic and my mother will die from a drug overdose. Because of you, Bonnie will suffer from severe depression until she finally kills herself a few weeks from now, which will cause her family more pain and stress than they will be able to handle. All because you suggested playing a stupid little game. Actions. They always have consequences, don’t they?”
“You don’t know that all that stuff will happen. I bet you just made it all up.”
I cringed. This wasn’t going to end well for Joann. Not with that attitude.
Julia chuckled. “No. Actually, I’m not making it up. It’s all stuff that’s going to happen. You see, it seems that when you die, the first thing that happens to you is that you learn how your death will affect people. It’s quite interesting, as a matter of fact. If you don’t understand now, you’ll understand soon.”
“What do you mean?”
Julia cocked her head and smiled a wicked grin. “Why, I’m going to kill you, of course. you’re not very bright, are you? It’s just an eye for sort of thing.”
Then, without another word, Julia stabbed Joann with one of her finger-claws in the stomach. Blood trickled from the wound and out of the corner of her mouth as the life drained from her eyes.
Julia withdrew her claw, and then stepped aside, giving Joann’s lifeless body room to fall to the ground. Then, Julia waved a hand and Joann’s body changed to look like Julia’s.
Julia’s ghost turned and smiled at me.
After that I flashed to my room, sitting in my bed. At first, I thought that I had just woken up, but then I realized that I was wearing my school uniform rather than my pajamas.
Suddenly, I gagged. Then again. And again. Then blood began pouring out of my mouth. I stared in horror at the growing puddle of blood on my bed. It didn’t stop, either. It just kept going and going. There must have been gallons of it. A metallic taste filled my mouth and I honestly thought that I was going to die right then and there. But then the blood slowed down to a trickle and finally came to a stop.
Then my eyes- my real eyes, not my dream eyes- shot open and I began gasping for air, taking in as much as I could, my body fearing that it wouldn’t ever be able to bring enough oxygen to my lungs.
I glanced at my clock. 5:43. Pretty soon I’d have to start getting ready for school. But I didn’t think I could go that day. Not after that dream. Perhaps not ever again. I didn’t know how my parents would have felt about that, but I couldn’t go back there. I could never go back to Hillside High School for Girls. Maybe I could do online school. Maybe I could figure out a way to go to the boys’ school. I just couldn’t go back to that school.
Someone knocked softly on my bedroom door.
“Livvy, are you okay in there?” Mom asked as she opened the door and peered into my room. “I heard you thrashing around. Did you have a nightmare?”
“Like you wouldn’t believe,” i sighed, running a hand through my hair.
“Do you want to talk about it?”
I shook my head. “No. That’s okay. Thanks. though.”
Mom nodded before backing out of my room and closing the door.
I did want to talk about it. But I couldn’t. At the time, I didn’t know how to put it all into words without coming off as crazy. If i did know, I would have told my mom right then and there. I probably would have had to go through months of therapy, but at least I wouldn’t have had to go through this next bit by myself.
To be continued….