Amanda Jones ran as fast as she could, ignoring the burning pain in her muscles as she sprinted down the seemingly endless hallway. Behind her, she could hear the wicked cackle of her pursuer, almost as though it was spurring her on. Amanda closed the heavy wooden door behind her and allowed herself the briefest of seconds to catch her breath, but when she surveyed the room she found herself in, her tired pants turned into a scream of pure terror.
"K-Kat!?" Amanda gasped as she approached the frail, lifeless body slumped on the carpet in the middle of the room. Even in the gloom, Amanda could instantly tell that the German girl's neck was broken, her limbs contorted into shapes nature never intended them to make. But what haunted Amanda most were Kat's eyes- eyes that fixed her with a stare that seemed to say 'you did this to me'.
On the verge of hyperventilating, Amanda backed away from Kat's body and sprinted out of the nearest doorway she could find, the cackle of her pursuer following her every step of the way.
"This isn't happening," Amanda sobbed to herself. "This isn't happening!" Amanda repeated her mantra as she sprinted down the corridor in the hope that if she said it enough times, it would come true, but no matter how many times she repeated herself, she found herself trapped in her nightmarish predicament.
"Why!?" A voice called out, stopping Amanda dead in her tracks. Almost paralyzed with fear, Amanda turned to see the face of Ciara Nightingale, her best friend in the whole world, staring at her with the same accusing eyes as Kat's body. "Why did you do this, Amanda?" Amanda watched in horror as the life left Ciara's body and the dark-haired girl slumped to the floor in an undignified heap.
"No..." Amanda sobbed as she resumed her sprint. "Please, god, no..."
But no matter where Amanda ran, death followed two steps behind her. Her old travelling companion Hannah, collapsed at the foot of a flight of stairs. Amanda's dancing friend Tanya, who she had met during a week's break in Moscow, collapsed in the remains of a glass coffee table with a bullet wound in her abdomen. Even her friend turned nemesis Rachel Fox was present in the haunted mansion, her lifeless body hanging from the end of a rope. All of the women, every single one, fixed Amanda with the same stare, the stare that let the terrified American girl know that their fate, their blood, was on her hands.
Amanda ran and ran, tears flowing freely from her eyes as she desperately tried to flee the laughter, but the faster she ran, the louder the laughter got, until eventually she ran out of the front door of the mansion to find herself surrounded by a dozen hooded figures, each one of them slowly advancing on her as she stood petrified in the pouring rain.
Despite her best efforts, Amanda's eyes remained open as the hooded figures all drew long, curved blades from their robes. The American girl watched in horror as, one by one, the robed figures drove their blades into her belly. The pain was sharp, but not overwhelming- not unlike a bad stitch, Amanda thought- but as each blade found its home inside her slender torso, Amanda grew weaker and weaker, until with the final knife, she found herself plummeting forward into the oblivion that awaited her...
"Aaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!" Amanda shrieked as she woke with a start, her bedsheets having tangled around her sweat-drenched form as she slept. "It was just a dream... Oh god, it was just a dream..." Amanda blinked tears out of her eyes as she checked the time on her hone- 3:18am. Over four hours before she was due to get up, but she knew that after yet another nightmare, she wouldn't be able to get back to sleep.
To set her paranoid mind at ease, Amanda unlocked her phone and opened up her Facebook account, browsing to the profiles of all the familiar faces she'd seen in her dreams. As usual, Kat was hard at work- she'd been promoted to assistant editor of one of Britain's biggest fashion magazines, and seemingly spent every waking second either working on an article of tweeting about the article she was working on. Ciara was busy working at an archaeological dig in the north of Italy, whilst Hannah was on yet another conservation cruise in the Arctic Circle. Tanya was busy teaching ballet to a new generation of students at her school in Moscow, whilst Rachel... Amanda knew that wherever she was, she was more than capable of taking care of herself.
All of Amanda's friends were safe and happy, as was the American girl herself. She just wished she could forget the incident that threatened not just her safety and her happiness, but the lives of her and her friends- the incident that would never have happened if it hadn't been for her own arrogance...