A million thoughts raced through Lexi’s head as she darted through the entrance to Springwood Memorial. All she heard on her phone was “Quinton...dead” through a sobbing voice, and immediately took off out of the crowded stadium. She didn’t even know who had called her, but assumed it was Tash.

Her assumptions proved true as she rounded the corner in the lobby, because standing there balling her eyes out was Tash, and she was sharing consolation with Quinton’s parents, Leroy and Latoya. Lexi had already burst into tears on the way to the hospital, and those tears quickly resurfaced when she made eye contact with her best friend.

“Oh my god, I’m so sorry,” Lexi cried, hugging the three of them together. The four of them sobbed together for a moment, until Tash pulled Lexi aside and hesitantly decided to tell her her deepest, darkest fear.

Tash was careful to drag Lexi away to the opposite corner of the hallway, where no one else would hear them.

Still choked up, Tash could barely get the words out.

“Lexi,” Tash stuttered.

“What is it?” Lexi asked, equally choked up.

“I think it was Krueger,” Tash whispered as tears streamed down her face.

After a short pause, a look of shock, but not of surprise, appeared on Lexi’s face. It was almost as if she expected what was coming before Tash even opened her mouth.

“Are you sure?” Lexi asked.

“You should have been in that ambulance, Lexi,” Tash replied, wiping the tears from her eyes. “It was so sad. He was so terrified of falling asleep. He just kept saying ‘No Sleep!’ ‘No Sleep!’, and I did the best I could to keep him awake. Even when he finally passed out, he still mumbled ‘no sleep’ ‘no sleep’, until he was all the way out cold.”

“You might be right, Tash,” Lexi answered. “Something dawned on me after I saw your painting. It made me realize that if Krueger could get to Apryl and Veronica, and if he could get to you and me, then everyone else is fair game too. Including Quinton and—”

However, right before Lexi could complete her statement, another gurney was rushed in through the main entrance. Lexi’s heart dropped as she recognized the kelly green jersey from afar. Amid the commotion, she raced toward the paramedics, who pushed her away. Still, Lexi persisted and found that her suspicions were true. Mike was being wheeled into the emergency room, suffering multiple contusions and a bunch of other jargon Lexi couldn’t understand. All she knew was that her boyfriend must have been injured at the game, the same way Quinton was, and if she didn’t do something about it, there was gonna be more than one funeral to attend.

“Mike!!!!” Lexi yelled, pleading with the medics to let her follow. They didn’t, insisting on hospital policy that she stay in the waiting room. It wasn’t long before Tash caught up to her and held her back.

“What are you doing??!! Let me go!” Lexi demanded, trying to break free as another round of tears rolled off her face.

Tash didn’t say anything. She just grieved alongside her and felt a sick and twisted feeling of deja-vous rip up her insides. It was all starting to overwhelm her. There was no way she’d be able to take it if her best friend lost her true love in the same night as she did. It was already too much to bear knowing Quinton was gone, but Mike too? It was all like a bad dream. A nightmare...

Trying to piece it all together scrambled her brains like an egg in the ‘this is your brain on drugs’ commercial. But after what Lexi told her about Krueger spreading his fear to everyone, it suddenly all became crystal clear. That bastard Fred Krueger was responsible for all of this. The nightmares, the paintings, the game, the loss of Quinton, all of it.

The thought of losing Quinton echoed inside her brain like a bad childhood memory. And when she put two-and-two together and realized Krueger had indeed killed Quinton, she instantly felt sick to her stomach. Letting go of Lexi, Tash then took off running down the opposite hallway, not even acknowledging her best friend.

“Tash, where you going?” Lexi desperately called out, starting after her. “Are you okay?”

But there was no way she was going to catch her. Not with that head start. So Lexi helplessly watched as Tash disappeared out the front doors and back into the cold, rainy autumn evening.

And somewhere, Fred Krueger was thinking, ‘This is only the beginning. This is just the beginning’.


Not long after Tash left the hospital...

Lexi emerged on the third floor and quietly walked toward her sister Apryl’s room. She had requested information on Mike as soon as it became available, and then departed to make sure her sister was okay. Talk about being stretched in so many directions. She felt like the rope in a tug of war contest, only her rope wasn’t as strong. It felt more like a rubber band, she thought as she progressed down the narrow hallway. Lexi then noticed something odd, just as she had earlier when she first came to the hospital. Earlier, all the rooms were occupied and shut up tight. But now, all the rooms were empty and wide open, with the exception of Apryl’s. Even Veronica’s room was vacant, and that worried her.

She turned the latch and entered Apryl’s room slowly where she was immediately greeted with a hug from her mother.

“How is she?” Lexi asked.

“She looks a little pale, but the doctors say she’s coming around,” Sandra replied. “How was your game?”

“Mom, Quinton’s dead,” Lexi informed her, trying to break the news to her as easily as possible. “And Mike’s downstairs in the emergency room.”

“What?” Sandra questioned. “But how?”

“Quinton took a really hard hit at the game tonight,” Lexi responded. “He was knocked unconscious, so they rushed him here, but he died in the emergency room. I have no idea what happened to Mike, because I left the game early to come here, but he didn’t look good when they wheeled him in.”

Following a pause, all Sandra could say was, “Baby, I’m so sorry” and hug her tightly.

“Mom, why are all the other rooms empty now?” Lexi asked.

“What do you mean?” Sandra questioned, surprised.

“Every other room on this floor is empty,” Lexi answered. “And they were all full earlier.”

Sandra, puzzled, didn’t reply. Lexi could clearly tell she was in deep thought, but about what? If it was about Krueger, chances are his activities were far from over on this night. Or any other night, for that matter.

Just then, Apryl’s heart monitor began to rapidly fluctuate up and down, and a doctor and nurse came running into the room shortly thereafter, their white robes dancing at their sides. Apryl’s body then began to move around in her bed for the first time, and she was screaming— screaming bloody murder.

They had no idea what was really going on...

Proceed To Chapter 23
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