“Remember everyone, hypnosis is what you imagine it to be,” Forest said. “You only perceive it to be a slight loss of consciousness, that’s what you get. I’ve read up on this so everything should be just fine.” A group of friends were all in chairs looking at Forest in the kitchen of his house. Jackie was the rebel of the group, Wendy was the comforter, Rob was the helper, and Forest was the trickster.

“Really?” said Jackie. She never had full trust of Forest after a prank that was pulled on her. “Rob, you don’t trust him right?”

“Uh I ummm… sorry?” classic Rob.

“Rob, do you trust Forest in being a group hypnosis?” Wendy said calmly.

“Oh yeah definitely, I mean I trust him and all.”

“What about you Alt?”

Altitude, (Alt for short) was the quiet one of the group. In fact, he hasn’t even said his own name to them. Introvert, yes. Crazy, far from it. He lent an ear to everyone and keeps the group together. After all, he kept Jackie and Forest from a full blown out fight.

“I think this should be… interesting. I never really have been hypnotized before,” with his voice starting to have a tone of excitement to it. That’s all Forest needed to gain some confidence in his first time putting people under hypnosis.

“Shall we begin?” said Forest. After a moments silence, agreement came and the process started.

“So close your eyes,” Forest said. “Open them back up. Now if you feel scared that I’m going to do something you don’t want to do; you will actually never do those actions. So you can relax and do things under my suggestion. Now you can close your eyes again, this time go into a slumber.” The participants obeyed and slowly, yet surely, they starting to fall from their chairs. Jackie first, Alt second, with Wendy and Rob following. Forest liked this higher power, and knowing that he shouldn’t have it makes it more desirable. “Now, you will sit up eyes closed and I will ask you a question. Answer truthfully.” Forest grabbed his phone and hit record. This was gonna be good. He turned to Rob. “Do you have a crush on Wendy, Rob?”

“Of course I do,” Rob replied in a monotone voice. Forest giggled as Rob seemed that he realized what he just said. Wendy didn’t seem to notice.

“Wendy,” Forest continued, “have you known that Rob has a crush on you?”

“Yes,” Wendy said. “I’ve known for 3 months when he told me.” Forest flashed a look at Jackie. She was awake. Not only that, but seemed amused. Amused that some secrets were coming out.

“OK… Alt?” Forest said. “What is your name?”

“I don’t have one,” Alt said in a monotone voice.

Silence filled the room. Rob and Wendy were back to their normal states, but everyone was startled when Altitude said what he did. They looked at each other and didn’t know what they could do. Comfort him as they put a stop to this, or ask him another question? Forest was in control after all, so in a classic Forest fashion…

“Why don’t you have a name?”

“I’m an orphan; an orphan from birth.” Silence again. Everyone is knowing more about the guy who is normally in the corner, but now is the center of attention without knowing it. His eyes were closed after all.

“Why are you telling us this?” Forest continued.

“Because I need to be free. I haven’t told anyone because I didn’t trust…” Alt opened his eyes. He saw everyone looking at him. He knew instantly, because they all wore a worried expression. He pierced his lips together and was about to lose it. “Well?” he said with aggression in his voice. “What do you want?” Alt was under his own control again. He’d risen from his chair and was approaching Forest.

“Well I ummm… I-I never really thought that it would come to this so… I… I guess I could make it up to you?” he was backing up. Forest’s back was to the wall as he was slowly curling up into a ball as Alt kept advancing, now with pure rage glowing in his eyes. Wendy walked calmly up to Alt as she put a hand gently on his shoulder.

“Hey Alt?” she said. “You keep us together. Maybe it’s time for us to keep you together. I can’t imagine what you have been through.” Alt’s anger seemed to give way. Wendy let go of his shoulder, giving him a comforting smile. He traded it back, then turned to Forest.

“Well, what do you suggest?” Alt questioned, head cocking over to the left slightly. “How do you make this up?”

“You… get to do what you want? At any time? Like, if you want to do it, then you do it. Only three times we can do that though. That works right?” Alt contemplated this for a while. Forest just hoped that it would be enough to get this over with. Alt flashed a look over at Forest dead in the eyes. He seemed to have his hand reach into his back pocket.

“No,” he said at last. “I don’t trust you anymore. So much trust I put into you, and what do you do? You reveal to everyone in here my deepest secret, just because you wanted power! So, I think that this should work to shut you up.” Alt pulled out a knife from his back pocket. Jackie screamed and pulled him back, Rob and Wendy grabbed Forest pulling him up to his feet. Jackie continued to pull Alt back, her arms around his while grabbing his wrists. She then tripped him, bringing him straight to the ground. He dropped the knife, and Jackie grabbed it before he could reach for it and brought it to his throat. Alt’s breathing was now like a dog’s pant.

“I have one request,” Jackie croaked. “What were you going to say? If not, knife to your throat.” She put the knife edge right up to Alt’s neck, as he now wore a worried expression.

“This is blackmail!” he shouted.

“Who gives a damn?” Forest said. “You tried to kill me!”

“Well if you want to know, then grab your popcorn and have some fun with it. I’ll tell the story,” he looked Jackie in the eye.

“It looks like hell in there,” she said. “Your eyes are like hell.”

“As I said I’m an orphan,” Alt said, ignoring Jackie. “We left off when I said I wanted to be free correct?” nods came from the room, knowing that the knife to the neck had them safe. “Well I don’t trust anyone. Not even you,” he said forcibly. “I only said what I did because it felt like I was on air. But I don’t want to talk about that. What I want to say to you scars me. The reason why I met you in school was because my parents are still alive. They are feeding money to me, and the orphanage that I used to be at. They just didn’t want me, that’s it. You wanted me, so I stayed. I kept you together because I didn’t want to lose you. When you exploited me, it felt like we are now reaching the end of the line. Now I’m angry because knowing you, you’re going to take advantage of this. So, am I right?” He looked into Forest’s eyes with his hell ones. “Am I right?” he repeated.

“I’m… sorry,” he started to sob. “You are right.” Forest dropped to his knees, and Wendy put a hand on his back.

“That’s all,” Alt said, his eyes now focused on Jackie. She nodded and lowered the knife. Rob now joined Wendy and Forest. They all huddled together and tried to help each other.

“This is going to hurt us all,” Wendy said. “We all learned something, and that’s OK Forest. You made a mis-”

“You shouldn’t have done that,” screams broke out, then Jackie was stabbed in the neck by Alt. He pulled it out and pounced on Rob, and then he joined in Jackie with a stab wound in the neck. Wendy charged Alt in his bloody rampage, only to be leveled. “Nice try,” Alt said, stabbing her as well. Forest was stunned and was near paralyzed when he saw everything that happened, and now Alt turned his attention to him. He scurried backwards, only to go into a corner as he was on the ground. Alt approached him, knife ready. He got on one knee in front of Forest.

“No, please!” Forest begged. “I won’t do anything, you can run! Just don’t hurt me!”

“What do we have here?” Alt said in a calm and casual voice. Forest noticed that he had his other hand on the ground beside him grabbing something.

It was the phone that was recording everything. “Well I assume that the police would look at this when they find the dead bodies. So… I guess you can join them in the afterlife.”

“No!” Forest screamed, only to have his throat stabbed as well. Alt used his dead friends finger to open the phone. It recorded everything.

“Well mister policemen,” he said. “I won’t be cocky or anything. All I will say is that you should have enough info to solve this case. You won’t have my fingerprint anywhere because I never layed my fingers on anything as I arrived with Wendy. I will be on the run for you to find. Don’t worry, I won’t leave the country, I don’t have a passport at all, but I will soon. You have three months until that happens. The papers are in for me and are already approved for me to receive a passport. Then, the hunt will be international. That is all the clues you may work off of. Good luck,” Alt turned off the recording.

Officer Henry looked at his partner, officer Jeremy in disbelief. They looked at the pieces of paper on and near the bodies describing who they were.

“Forest, the hypnotist. Last one killed. Use his right index finger to open the phone on the table,” said one by Forest’s body.

“Wendy, the healer. Third one killed. Give her a proper funeral please,” said another.

“Rob, the helper. Second one killed. Good humour, poor reliance,” said one by Rob’s body.

“Jackie, the rebel and the fool. First one killed. Stupidity has a price and this is it,” read another.

“Henry?” Jeremy said. “Why is this here?” He handed over a piece of paper that had the lyrics of “Hellfire” by Barns Courtney on it.

“It’s evidence,” Henry responded. He grabbed his walkie talkie. “We’re going to need as many people to check this place out. We’ve got something big.”