The Sweetest Hereafter

It’s started again. They found four bodies. Kids. Just like before. They found the first one around midnight. Fat kid. Say he drowned. The second one turned up at the resevoir. Naked. Bloated. Discolored. She’d bled out through a thousand little cuts all over her body, like she’d been through a cusinart.
An hour later, they found the third one. Her body had been left at the landfill, half buried in garbage. The others, they were nobodies, but she was one of those heiress types. A couple more years, and she’d have had her own reality show. Trashy pop album. Celebrity sex tape. The works. Instead, she’s hip deep in shit with a broken neck. They can’t find her dad either, but the press doesn’t care about that yet. Not when they’ve got a serial child murderer to fawn over.
It was dawn when the last body turned up. Another boy, just like I knew it would be. The news is saying he was tortured, medieval-style, his small body broken on a rack. I know better. I know he thought he was having the time of his life. Having a great adventure. Right up until his arms popped out of their sockets.
Maybe things would be different if I’d stayed with him, all those years ago. Maybe I could have played along, played his game. Let him dress me up like his little Mini-me. Maybe it would have stopped. Or maybe I’d have ended up like my friends.
Friends? No, not really. I’ve spent the last twenty years telling myself they were, because it was easier than the truth. The truth is, I hated the others. Thought they deserved what they got. I didn’t get it, not till later. They were just kids for Christ’s sake. They weren’t perfect, but who the fuck is? I can tell you, I wasn’t no prize. Just some cheery little shit who could smile and look pretty and not give a fuck as long as it was happening to other people.
It was only later that I got it. That I understood what he’d done to the other kids. What he wanted to do to me. So I ran. Dyed my hair and lived on the streets for a couple of years. I never went home again, because I knew he’d find me. I read in the papers what happened to my family a couple of weeks later.
No one ever linked it to him. No one ever linked what happened to my family to what happened to the other kids. I don’t know why. No one’s going to link these ones to him either. No one’s even going to suspect him. But I know he did it. I know. And I have to stop him. Because I’m the only one who can.
Willy Wonka must die.

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