Horror Suspense

This story contains themes or mentions of physical violence, gore, or abuse.

Meredith didn’t believe in fate until she was in middle school. She didn’t skip class often. She was a good kid, terrified of her parents and the consequences of her actions. She brushed her teeth twice a day, braided her hair every morning, and made her bed before going to school. She did everything that she was supposed to. She had never skipped class before in her life.

But one day she just couldn’t drag herself to her math class. The preteen angst was at its peak, and an overly dramatic break up had driven her into hiding in one of the bathrooms in tears. It was a rare occasion for her, but hormonal teenagers are bound to make the occasional odd decision. This was just one day. Just one class.

It happened to be the day that something went horribly, unpredictably wrong. That math classroom shared a wall with the science lab. A science lab filled with flammable materials that should be kept as far away from middle schoolers as possible. Letting a twelve year old use a gas burner was a recipe for disaster, after all. But no one thought that it would happen there. No one thinks that bad things will happen to them. 

The explosion from the gas leak certainly would have killed her if she had been in her seat. But that one day, that one class, she had skipped. There was no way for her to rationalize it. Could she really say that she was lucky? Her classmates died. That hardly felt like luck. But she was alright. How could she possibly be alright? 

From that point on, she was obsessive. She felt as though she owed the universe a debt. Fate had saved her. She couldn’t doubt it. She felt that if she doubted it, she would break. Drown under the weight of what that meant about her. About that day. So she devoted her life to following fate wherever it took her.

It started with letting a pendulum pick out her classes in high school. Computer science, intro to art, honors biology. She hated biology. She couldn’t question what fate held for her. That was what fate had wanted for her, after all. She wasn’t sure why. She wasn’t sure where fate was going with it, but she had to believe. 

Her mother thought that it was just a coping mechanism. Meredith would grow out of it eventually, her mother insisted. So she fed into it, buying her daughter whatever trinkets she could find that would fit with her mounting obsession. Before long, her collection of tarot cards and astrology books had taken over the family room. Her mother hoped that it was for the best. It comforted Meredith, after all. The nightmares had stopped. 

From that day, everything was fate. She forgot her umbrella one day, because she was meant to get soaked in the rain. She was meant to get soaked in the rain so that her father would slip on the puddle she left in the kitchen. He needed to slip so that she would go with him to the hospital. That was how she was convinced that she needed to go to medical school. That was why she needed to take honors biology. That was the gist of her neurotic rambling as she left the hospital with her parents. 

She left out the part where she wandered past places in the hospital she wasn’t meant to be. The surgeries looked fascinating enough. She couldn’t describe it, but the surgeon's instruments seemed to call to her. That had to be fate.

When she was late for dates, it was because she wasn’t meant to go on them. A traffic jam was never a traffic jam. It was fate telling her to stay home. She lost friends, she lost relationships, but she accepted it as part of what fate held for her. Friends and dates would just distract her in medical school, anyway. Clearly, she was meant to do something great. Fate clearly took interest in her. 

Her parents started to get concerned when she hadn’t grown out of things by the time she was looking at colleges, but they were completely lost when it came to what to do. They knew that breaking the illusion would hurt her. But she hated biology. Meredith wasn’t built for medical school. No matter how hard she worked, they knew that she would drown in the work. However, they decided that they had to let her learn things for herself. 

And learn she did. Failing her first class had to be fate. She needed to take it again for some reason. Maybe she had to meet someone. Or maybe she just needed to graduate later than she meant to. The second failed class stung a bit more, but it could still be fate. Maybe destiny was stalling for something. It had to be something important. Her whole life had led up to whatever fate had in store for her. Everything since the day of the explosion had been about what was to come. 

It was when the breakdowns started and the nightmares returned that she started to question things. She was being punished. She had to have been. She had to have done something wrong. She clearly strayed from the path that was set from her. It was the only thing that she could believe. Something was going wrong. 

It wasn’t until she was in the library that she got her answer. She had bumped into a biography section. An untied shoelace made her trip. She would forever hold that as the clearest sign she had gotten. Only one book fell, after all. The universe was practically shoving the message in her face at that point. 

H. H. Holmes and his murder hotel. She had heard of him in passing before, but she hadn’t paid much attention up until that point. She hadn’t thought to. Until she learned that he had gone to medical school. Until she realized she had enough money saved up to buy the rickety hotel down the road. Who was she to question fate and its messages? 

May 11, 2023 02:58

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