I always considered astrology bullshit.
Of course, that never stopped me from clicking on articles about when I would find love or what my most attractive trait was and then scrolling down to read my horoscope. Just for kicks, you know? For the hell of it.
My twin sister, on the other hand, lived and breathed astrology. She followed star patterns and created birth charts and complained every time Mercury went into retrograde.
She knew everyone’s zodiac signs as well as she knew their names. So when a woman on our shared college campus suffered from an early death, my sister skimmed through the article detailing the drowning and laughed.
“Sorry,” she said. “That girl was an Pisces. A water sign. It’s just weird she died that way, is all. Ironic.”
But when the next victim died only two days later, she stopped laughing and started making phone calls. To the school newspaper. To the police. To a string of people who hung up and called her crazy.
That latest incident involved a girl we knew, a girl who graduated from the same high school class as us and used to stop by during every house party and BBQ.
We lost touch over the last four years, but still… The girl was the definition of sweetheart. She worked at the zoo a few miles away, feeding the animals. She owned three cats and two dogs. The type of girl who preferred pets to people.
And the poor thing got attacked by a lion. Mauled to death by an animal she helped name.
And her star sign? Leo.
Over the next three weeks, the murders continued across our town. It took the media three or four killings to link together what my sister knew during the first one, during the drowning. That zodiacs had something to do with it.
A Scorpio stung by a poisonous scorpion.
A Sagittarius shot through the heart with an arrow.
A Taurus stabbed through the toros with a set of horns. (Not from a live bull, but from a wall-mounted head.)
My sister read each article closely, absorbing the tiniest details and printing out the most captivating pieces to hang on her cork board. Her obsession jumped from astrology in general to the AstroKiller.
I took notice, of course. I loved my sister, but I read thrillers like Gone Girl and Before I Go To Sleep and The Girl On The Train. Stories about how you never truly knew the person sleeping next to you — or the person who spent nine months in the womb with you.
Besides, if any of her astrology shit was true, Gemini like us were inconsistent. Unpredictable. Untrustworthy.
So when the next death occurred, a more creative one this time, I did my research. Looked up the time of the incident. Tried to remember whether my sister had been home or out during that exact minute. If she had an alibi or not.
“Did you hear yet?” she asked as she burst through our bedroom door, and I clicked away from the article. “He killed a Cancer this time. It’s disgusting. These murders are getting more and more fucked up.”
She acted like it sickened her, but by the sound of her voice, I could have sworn she enjoyed it. That she was excited, or at least impressed, by the killer’s (or her own?) handiwork.
The Cancer she mentioned had been a little boy, only six years old, who was stuffed into a bolted-closed wooden box and covered with live crabs and lobsters.
The doctors determined he died from missing his shot of insulin, not from the oozing cuts and welts covering his body, but what was the difference? His heart still ceased to beat.
“I wonder what sign the killer is,” my sister said, her mouth twitching to stop a smirk. “I wonder if it’s the same as us.”
One week of silence. One week where the papers calmed the public by saying the killer must have given up, run away. One week where my sister shook her head and swore the killer needed more time because the next murders would be more complicated.
How would he pull off the rest? she mused. How would he kill someone like a Libra which was represented by a scale symbol instead of a lion or scorpion or bull?
We found out the answer in the middle of a bar, celebrating a mutual friend’s birthday. My sister’s phone beeped with a news story and she put down her martini to read it. Another murder.
Someone sliced off an overweight woman’s stomach and she bled to death. The police found her abandoned in a closet filled with nothing but dark blood, overhanging guts, and a digital scale.
“Well, I guess Libra is crossed off the list now,” our friend slurred after finding out the news. “Least I’m safe.”
She kept sipping from her drink, but my sister and I called it a night. Stumbled back outside to wait for our Uber.
I don’t remember the car pulling up to the sidewalk. I don’t remember swinging the door open and stuffing myself inside.
All I remember is a blankness. Not blackness. Blank. Nothing. No memories. No thoughts. Just being outside, arm grasping a lamp pole to stay steady one second — and slumped inside of an abandoned building the next second.
Someone must have slipped something into my drink.
I felt my sister’s arm against mine, her head resting on my shoulder, and instead of feeling that telepathic tug that bound us together, that made me cry when she cried and scream when she screamed, I felt farther away from her than ever. I felt betrayed.
She did this. I thought, my head too woozy from the drugs and booze to make any logical connections. She set all this up.
I slapped her awake, the ring on my index finger leaving a slash across her chin.
“What the fuck is wrong with you?” she asked, swiping away the blood.
Now fully awake, her eyes swept across the room. At the mildewed walls. At the termite eaten floors. At the only piece of furniture, a table at the opposite side of the room, with a gun perched atop it.
She looked lost. Confused. Terrified.
My sister didn’t bring me here. Of course she didn’t. She was knocked out with me. She was…
Her laughter cut off my thoughts. “That’s clever,” she said. “Yeah, it is, that’s smart. Two gemini. Twins. Put us together. Makes sense.”
Her eyes glittered with tears and I hated myself for thinking the worst of her. For thinking my best friend could pull off something so sick. For thinking Gemini are unpredictable, untrustworthy. That described me more than it described her.
“Hey, I mean, we were born together. Might as well die together,” I tried to joke. I couldn’t let her see me break down. I couldn’t fall apart in front of her.
“Actually… I don’t think so…”
Her eyes stuck to my chest. To something on my chest. A note. When my pupils flicked down, I noticed she had one, too.
On light blue post-it squares were the words: One of you gets to shoot & the other one of you gets to leave. Or else I kill you both.
It took the words a second to register. For my brain to realize that this person wanted us to shoot each other — no, that he wanted us to shoot ourselves. Because the person doing the shooting couldn’t leave. Only the other one could.
Before I could talk to her about how smart the Astrokiller was for realizing we would never kill each other but might agree to kill ourselves to save the other, we were both scrambling for the gun.
I had just reached the center of the room when she grabbed a clump of my hair and tugged hard enough to send me tumbling backward, the flooring so old my foot went straight through the soggy wood.
She climbed over me, feet pressed against my stomach and propelling off my thighs.
I yanked my ankle out of the hole as I watched her bolt for the table. I skidded across the room as I watched her lift the gun. I grabbed her by the shirtsleeve as I watched her fumble with the saftey.
I ripped the fabric off her arm, up to her shoulder, but she never loosened her grip on the gun, so I went for her lower body. I kicked her in the knee and she dropped to the ground, the weapon skittering across the floor.
Instead of going straight for the gun, she grabbed my already swollen ankle and pulled, so I thumped onto my back.
I kicked at her. She clawed at me. We ended up on top of each other, throwing fists and biting flesh, but never saying a word.
Caught in a fight to end our own lives. A fight to die.
She must have grabbed a pile of dirt or dust from under a missing floorboard, because she tossed something into my eyes and my vision faded.
I heard her nails scraping as she crawled across the floors and I did the same, feeling around in the direction I thought the gun fell, but I couldn’t reach it. I couldn’t save her.
I never saw the bullet, but once my vision unclouded, I saw the hole it made. Straight through the roof of my twin sister’s mouth.
Ten minutes. Twenty. Thirty.
I shoved the gun against my hummingbird heart and pulled the trigger, but no bullets flew out. None left for me.
Forty minutes. Fifty. Sixty.
I found the strength to stand. With both tears and blood clinging to my cheeks, I lifted her into my arms to escape the unlocked building. To wander into the moonlight and wave down the police, already on their way thanks to the gunshots.
And since I disturbed the crime scene, since no one was around to back up my story as the truth, since our shared bedroom was filled with newspaper clippings of the murders, since I knew way too much about astrology because of my sister — the police are looking into me. They think I could be involved. They think I could be the killer.
I don’t know if I’ll end up in jail or if all the hours in court will lead up to my freedom, but I keep reminding myself that my fate isn’t the most important thing to focus on.
The most important is that my sister was only number eight.
Eight out of twelve.
If you’re an Aries, Virgo, Aquarius, or Capricorn, be careful. Because it’s not over yet.
There’s still four more of you to go.