Horror Shorts for the Wicked

Almost Novel Length (that's what she said)

Here are some longer stories for your enjoyment.
Disclaimer: some stories may contain content not suitable for children under the age of 18.

 

NEW! (02/02/2014)-- Escape (Andrew's Story) 

-- Spring Break

-- Table Rock's Vampire
(opens at sister site)

-- From the Eyes
(a work in progress)

-- Cold
(tentative title; work in progress)

 

ESCAPE (Andrew's Story)

DISCLAIMER: This story contains adult content; violence, and rape. Not for the faint of heart. If you are easily offended, turn back now.

 

A tough guy is reminded there are things stronger than him. After a long night of work, he is caught off guard and taken, only to wake up in a dog cage. The terror that follows makes Andrew believe in monsters ... and he vows to break free from his monstrous captor.

 

 

 

01

How long had he been here? After so many days in hell, one tends to lose track of the time. Days; weeks; months. He was certain it hadn’t been anywhere close to a year, though it easily felt like it had been decades since he had known freedom, sunlight, and fresh air.

For some reason he – Andrew Keene – was his favorite; therefore, he was kept alive. Not that this was “living,” Andrew thought as he looked at the hellish scene before him that had been his home since the night he was taken.

For however long it had been, Andrew had spent most of his time here locked up. He had an iron collar around his neck with a chain attached to it. He had mobility; he could move a good ten feet or so; walk around, and even exercise. He spent a lot of free time doing pushups and sit ups, and running in place – what else was there to do when you were chained up like a dog, night and day?

It made him stronger. Working out ensured his strength and growth. Perhaps one day he could catch his captor off guard. His arms had grown; his body was impressive. It was both good and bad because while he was getting stronger, he was becoming even more desirable to his captor – he loved Andrew’s rock hard body and the way sweat rolled from his chest, down his abs, following that strong v-cut all the way to the cock he loved so much.

There were showers in that hellhole. Three of them lined the walls. One of the shower heads always leaked so the floor was always wet around the drain. The basement must have been some sort of workout facility in its non-torture days – perhaps a way for a previous inhabitant to earn some extra cash. As long as he had been there, Andrew hadn’t seen much of the rest of his prison; – every now and then, he was allowed to visit the living room of the house he resided under – he was always down here, away from fresh air and the sunlight; he was now as pale as his captor.

Being his favorite, Andrew was well taken care of considering how the others were treated. At first, Andrew was shown the same treatment – he had been beaten and tortured, starved and left cold. But once he showed his captor he was no longer afraid, once he started fighting back, and once he treated his captor to the wonderful things he could do with his mouth and cock, he became the captor’s favorite. Andrew was treated to the luxurious life of a prisoner. He even got a cot to sleep on with two warm blankets. He was given real food and bottled water, and allowed to shower whenever he wanted, while the others were stuck in cages, fed dog food, and only allowed to bathe when he wanted to play with them.

Playing wasn’t nearly as pleasant as it sounded. Playing usually involved sexual deviancy and torture. Andrew had mostly gotten used to watching it by now – though there were still times he cringed. He had learned to shut down when the psycho came downstairs; he had learned to drown out the sounds of the screams and trained his eyes not to watch.

Would he ever get out?

You bet your damn ass he would.

Andrew was a fighter. He wasn’t a quitter, and he certainly wasn’t weak. He knew he needed to be smart about his escape; he knew he needed time to strengthen both his body and mind. He had been the lucky one. Had he only been chosen for sex and torture, he might not be so confident in his strength. A day down here was enough to break even a strong man.

Lucky.

Andrew was lucky because he was the special one. His body lacked recent wounds and he only had a few scars. At first, he had been given the usual routine; he was raped and left bleeding. But after only a few days his captor had realized Andrew was more useful than being just a pet. He had stopped hitting him and stopped cutting into his flesh. He used lubricant when he stuck his dick in Andrew’s ass instead of forcing it in. He was considerate – well, as considerate as a psycho could be.

When he knew his captor was out, Andrew spent his time working out and meditating to make his mind strong.

Andrew wouldn’t be broken.

Andrew wouldn’t be anyone’s slave.

He was going to escape. But not only that – and perhaps, most importantly – Andrew was going to make his captor pay.

 

 

02

The night he was taken would forever be stamped on his memory. Andrew had been working late at the gas station/convenience store. They weren’t 24 hours, but stayed open until 2 in the morning. It was closing time and Andrew had been taking out the trash. His captor didn’t have a car – the parking lot was empty except for the old Suburban that belonged to Andrew.

Normally, Andrew was very aware of his surroundings. Growing up in the “ghetto” had made him tough. It made him street smart. He knew to be aware of thugs and other potential danger. Once, some low-life scumbag had pulled a knife on him and tried to rob him. Tried being the key word. Imagine the shocked look on the face of the robber when Andrew turned the tables faster than the blink of an eye. He twisted the robber’s arm, snatched the knife from him, and plunged it into the man’s own thigh before the man had a chance to react.

As the man had screamed, Andrew smirked.

“Next time, it’ll go in your gut,” Andrew had said, spitting in the man’s face. He had let the guy go, hoping the man had learned his lesson. It was a dumb thing to do, Andrew knew – he should have gone to the cops. But Andrew doubted the man would be trying to rob anyone again soon.

Back to that night at the dumpster, Andrew had been tired from working a double shift. The only thing on his mind was getting home to his bulldog, Spock. Man, he loved that dog. Spock was always there to greet him, and was some of the best company a man could ask for.

Just as Andrew was flinging the large black bag of trash, something hit him in the back of the head. That was all he remembered before waking up in a dog cage.

The fuck? he had thought.

The first sound to strike his ears was that of dripping water – the shower head he would later find out. The next sounds he heard were that of sniffling, coughing, and weeping. He tried to sit up, but was too big. Lying on his back, he tried to search his surroundings. In his upside down view, he saw more cages that had people in them. Dirty people. Bleeding people. Mostly men and even a young boy. The one girl he saw was a blonde that looked like a stripper or a call girl. Her outfit was torn and skimpy looking. She had several cuts and abrasions, the most interesting being what looked like bite marks on her neck. The woman was small enough that she could sit up straight and was huddled in the corner of her cage, sobbing and shivering and hugging herself. Her face was tear-stained and there were black streaks running from her eyes from her mascara.

Andrew frowned when his eyes found the small boy. He couldn’t have been more than eleven. What kind of sick fuck would do this to a human being, but even sicker, what kind of psycho would do this to a child? The poor kid looked to be in shock. Like the woman, he was huddled and hugging himself in the corner. He wasn’t crying though; instead he was staring at nothing, barely blinking. There was a long cut on the side of his face that had started to scab over.

Andrew knew even then that wherever he was and however he would escape, he wouldn’t leave until he made sure the boy was free, too.

“The hell’s going on here?” Andrew muttered. He coughed, realizing his throat was too dry to speak clearly.

No one answered him.

“Hey! I said what’s going on here?” he said, raising his voice.

“What’s it fucking look like, prick?” A fat man said. He was sitting at an awkward angle in his cage, too big to comfortably be in any position.

“This is bullshit,” Andrew muttered. He should be able to easily break out of the cage. It was one of those flimsy dog crates. He began kicking at the back of his cage. It wasn’t as easy as he thought since he didn’t have room to get much force behind his kicks.

“Don’t do that!” The woman screamed. “He doesn’t like it when you break the cages!”

“Yeah, and there’s nowhere to go even if you do manage to get out,” another man that looked to be in his early twenties added. “There’s a metal door with a lock on it, like one of those in a bank or something.”

Suddenly, they heard that metal door open. Everyone else fell silent.

Andrew began shouting.

“Hey! Hey, you motherfucker! Hey!”

The woman covered her ears. “Stop!”

“Get down here and face me!” Andrew continued, ignoring the woman. She could be a weak coward if she wanted, but Andrew wasn’t going to cower like a dog.

It wasn’t until he heard the young boy weeping that Andrew finally stopped yelling. He turned his head as much as he could to see the boy, also now covering his ears and closing his eyes. The poor kid was weeping along with the woman. A fresh stream of urine appeared at the crotch of his pants.

“Hey,” Andrew whispered to the kid. “I’m gonna get you outta here, okay?”

The boy didn’t acknowledge him. He was beyond hope. Out of everyone, Andrew felt more for the little boy. An innocent child shouldn’t have to endure something so frightening.

Finally, Andrew heard footsteps. The psycho was at his cage, staring at him with an emotionless expression. His green eyes were cold and seemingly had no life to them. His hair was blonde but graying in places.

“You sick fuck, let me out of here so I can kick your ass!” Andrew said.

The tall thin man ignored him and turned his back to Andrew. He walked with slow, intimidating steps. As he passed each cage, the prisoners shook more violently. They were terrified of him. Andrew wasn’t. His blood was rushing at the thought of beating the shit out of him.

Just wait until he opens the cage, Andrew thought. Come on, you fucker.

The man went to the other side of the room where the showers were, though Andrew couldn’t see them at the time. He returned with a fire hose and the people began screaming, knowing what was coming. The man turned on the hose and began spraying each cage down with freezing water. Andrew tried once again to adjust in his cage so he could sit up straight and face his captor, but with no luck. When the hose got to him, Andrew had to cover his eyes. Water shooting out of a hose with that kind of pressure would surely damage his eyes if not knock them out altogether. He was just thankful that, while the water did come out with strong force, it wasn’t quite as powerful as a real fire hose.

He understood why everyone was screaming, though. Not only was the water freezing cold (and it was already cold in the basement), but it hurt. It felt like needles punching through the skin. The cages must have been bolted down because they didn’t move at all from the force of the water.

After the psycho thought they were soaked enough, he finally turned off the water and, just as emotionless, returned the hose to its spot on the wall.

The freezing and painful water was just a preview.

The man came back to Andrew’s cage and most of the people seemed relieved that he didn’t stop at theirs.

Yeah, let me out, you dumb fuck; it’s going to be the last thing you do, Andrew thought.

As the man bent over to unlock the padlock on the door, Andrew held his breath and readied himself to pounce.

“Out,” was all the man said when he opened the door.

Andrew slowly pulled himself out of the cage, pretending to be fearful just as the others were. His eyes met cold green ones as he stood and he glared, not blinking. As soon as he had total freedom and movement, Andrew drew his fist back quickly, intending on smashing the face of his captor.

Shock plagued Andrew’s face, however, as the frail-looking man blocked his punch. His reflexes were as quick as a cat’s, and keeping his cold stare on Andrew, he had brought up his arm to block the punch. Andrew’s fist was stopped inches from the man’s face. They glared at one another for half a second.

Lucky block, Andrew thought. He went for another punch. This time, he barely moved his arm before the man retaliated.

Suddenly, Andrew was thrown backwards, pushed by an incredible force. He flew several feet and his back hit a wall, knocking the breath out of him. Before he could slink to the floor, the tall man’s long, thin fingers were around his neck, holding his body off the ground. The man’s strength was unbelievable for his size – he looked like a skinny twig. Where was that strength coming from?

Andrew coughed and choked but didn’t beg for mercy.

The man held him there for several long seconds, as if testing his endurance, and then literally tossed Andrew to the ground. He slid a few feet but was happy to be able to breathe again.

“You son of a bitch,” he gasped, standing up. He faced the man again, ready to fight.

The man disappeared. Before Andrew could blink, he was knocked back to the ground and a weight was on top of him. The man was straddling him, holding him down. His hands were at his throat again.

“The fuck are you?” Andrew managed to mutter against the man’s choking hands.

The man just looked at him. His hands were like ice; his stare soulless. This was no man – he didn’t have a conscience. Andrew felt a rush of pain in the back of his head and he realized the man was slamming it into the concrete floor. He fought. He used his fingers to gouge out the man’s eyes … or at least he tried.

The captor seemed to be immune to pain. Andrew pushed until blood seeped out of the man’s sockets, but he still refused to loosen his grip on Andrew. He slammed his head again. Andrew’s vision blurred.

He threw punches, knocking his knuckles into the man’s cheeks and jaw. It was as if the man was toying with him; he only held him down; no longer choking him.

With a grim smile, the psycho suddenly jumped up. Andrew sprang into action. He was on his feet in seconds, staring the man down again. His arms were raised in defense, protecting his face.

Andrew’s captor reached for the wall and took a long whip from a hook.

“You think you’re going to use that on me?” Andrew growled.

Without saying a word, the psycho lashed at him. The whip slapped across Andrew’s arm. He yelled as blood began to seep from his forearm. The man hit him again with the whip. That time it hit his left shoulder and part of his face. Blood dripped in his eye from the wound that would later be a scar over his left eyebrow.

The man hit him again and again while at the same time, avoiding Andrew as he ran for him, intending on turning his face into pulp. Andrew was never able to catch him, though. His energy now depleted, Andrew fell to his knees, bleeding. He was tired. He was in pain. For the moment, he was out of fight … or so he thought.

The man tossed down the whip and ran for Andrew at a frightening speed. Andrew caught a glance at the man’s eye – the one he had gouged – was it already healed? Andrew only saw it for a half second and through his own bloody vision, so he couldn’t be sure. Before Andrew was aware of what was happening, the man had him on his knees. The psycho held him there and began tearing into his jeans, ripping away the material until Andrew was down to his boxers.

Why was this frail looking man so strong? Andrew didn’t know of anyone that could so easily rip through the heavy material of jeans.

His boxers didn’t stay on long. The man soon ripped those, too, leaving Andrew’s bare ass exposed. The man held one hand at the back of his neck and the other on his hip. Somehow, the psycho was able to hold Andrew’s legs to keep him from struggling.

Andrew tried flailing. He tried rocking his body back and forth in order to knock the monster down. He knew what was to happen next, but didn’t want to admit it. All he felt was rage; all he saw was red. His arms and his face were bleeding. The wounds stung, he was tired, hungry, and now he was about to be raped.

He gritted his teeth, his breath coming in short, angry gasps.

He felt sharp pain in his right ass cheek. Was the man biting him?  Andrew felt the man suck at the blood from his cheek for a few minutes while furiously stroking his own member. It didn’t take the monster long to get hard.

Andrew screamed in pain as the man shoved his cock into his ass without any kind of lube. The psycho pulled it almost out and then slammed it in deep again. Andrew screamed. In and out, each movement was followed by a scream. His asshole was torn and bleeding. There was enough blood now to substitute lube. Andrew vomited. The man started going faster and faster. Mixed with the throbbing pain was a small sense of pleasure for Andrew. But it wasn’t nearly enough to cover the agony he felt. Tears sprung to his eyes against his will – Andrew never cried.

When the monster was done with him, Andrew was tossed nonchalantly into his cage. An old, ratty blanket was thrown in next to him. The man left without saying another word.

Andrew lay there for several minutes, staring at the ceiling of his prison. He could feel the eyes of the others on him but no one dared to speak. The burning sensation at his asshole reminded him that he was a mess. There was a piece of his torn boxers conveniently near the cage. He managed to fit a couple fingers through the side and grab the piece of cloth. He dipped it into one of the puddles left from the fire hose.

Awkwardly, with not much mobility, Andrew managed to move the wet piece of cloth down to his ass. He pressed it against his hole for temporary relief. The cold water brought some ease to the pain but did nothing for his humiliation.

 

[To be continued....]

 

What do you have to say? 

 

 

Spring Break

Poor Amelia. She thought she found true love. What she really finds is a lie and the terror of being trapped in a house that doesn't want them to leave.

 

 

 

Spring Break (A)

Sara Vance-Hogan

Copyright © 2011 No part of this story may be used or distributed in any way unless given permission by the author.

 

 

 

Warning: this story contains adult material (explicit content "hidden" with black blocks -- highlight to read).
Not for those under the age of 18. Read at your own risk.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

01

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Tell me about yourself,” the college boy with dark brown hair said, half-running to catch up with the girl in the pink skirt and white blouse.

The girl laughed shortly, tucking a strand of caramel-colored hair behind her ear. “Why do you want to know?”

“You intrigue me.”

“How could I possibly intrigue you when you know nothing about me?”

“The fact that I know nothing about you is what intrigues me.” The boy had caught up with her and was matching her steps as the two walked off campus. “All the other girls throw themselves out there. There’s not much left to find out about them,” he waved an arm around to show he was talking about the many women on campus. “You on the other hand, no one knows anything about. You keep to yourself, why is that?”

She laughed again, amused. “Forgive me if I’m wrong, but this is a college campus; you come here to learn, not open yourself up like a book to every other being here. I’m here to get an education, not to be scrutinized or enter some unofficial popularity contest.”

“Ahh, you poor girl. That’s where you’re wrong.” The boy stopped and gently tugged on her shoulder to get her to stop, too. She did, unable to hold back a grin; he wasn’t being pushy, just curious—it was kind of cute. “College is all about getting to know people while you’re getting an education. Haven’t you ever heard that your friends for life are the friends you make in college?”

The boy was looking at her with a confident smile and innocent brown eyes. Puppy eyes one might say.

The girl, still grinning, shook her head. She had been defeated. “My name is Amelia.”

“Awesome. I’m Brian.” His smile widened from ear to ear, confident in his victory over the girl.

Brian had been pursuing her for almost a week now. Amelia was the typical quiet girl that didn’t throw herself in the spotlight every chance she got, which of course made some of the other students (mostly the boys) curious about her. Brian had attempted to talk to her every day. He had started with a casual “hi” and then “can I help you carry your books?” or “would you like me to walk you to your room?” Amelia had blown him off without giving her name. She thought he was the typical college jock: only out to add marks in his scorebook for how many girls he was able to sleep with.

She wouldn’t be one of his—or any others’—“victory” girl. Ignoring him had been easy at first, just as it was with the other boys who had tried to get to know her. But ever since the day before, when she had looked into those brown eyes for the first time, she found she was curious about him, too.

It would still take a while longer before she would allow herself to drop her guard, however. She knew what boys meant: a trap. A distraction. A creature created for the sole purpose of breaking a young woman’s heart.

A breeze came up and tugged at the ends of Amelia’s skirt. Afraid the wind would lift the ruffles enough to show her back side, she adjusted the two books she was carrying to rest in a cradle in one arm and used the other push her skirt back against her leg. She left her hand there, holding the skirt against her knee, hoping it wasn’t too obvious what she was doing. If Brian noticed, he didn’t make it known.

“Don’t get excited, just because I told you my name doesn’t mean I’m going to divulge any further,” Amelia teased.

“No, of course not. Pushk.” Brian waved a nonchalant hand. “But a name’s a start. At this rate, I might found out your favorite color in a month.” He winked, teasing her in return.

“Possibly.” Amelia smiled again and started walking, leaving him there.

He looked like he might follow but then, perhaps not wanting to be too annoying and seem like a stalker, waved instead. “See ya tomorrow. Same time, same place?” He called after her in a joking tone.

Amelia looked over her shoulder, grin still in place. “I’m sure.”

 

 

They did this almost every day for the next week. At the end of classes, Brian would be waiting where he knew she would walk by. He would talk to her and she would respond with short and subtle answers. Slowly, he got her to speak to him more and by the end of that second week, she had finally agreed to go with him to the nearby coffee shop.

“So, why are you so hesitant to get to know anyone?” Brian asked, admiring her as she took a sip of her caramel frappuccino through a straw. Her skin was the perfect tone, not too tan, but not deadly pale either. Her eyes were pretty, a sparkling blue-grey color, and her cheek bones sat high on her face. That day, she had her long wavy hair pulled back in a messy bun. Her nose seemed slightly crooked, as if it had been broken before, but it didn’t take away from her pretty face. Brian could tell she had a nice body, too, but she didn’t flaunt it. She covered her curves with jeans and a band T-shirt.

She shrugged, a pained look going through her eyes. “I told you, I’m not here to make friends.”

“I think there’s more to it.”

The smile returned to her lips. She always seemed to smile when she talked to him.

“And why do you say that?” she asked.

He shrugged. “A hunch. I think maybe you’ve been hurt before. It’s common for people to shut other people out after they’ve been hurt.”

“What are you a psychologist now?” She joked.

“Well, it is my major.”

“Get out.”

“Yeah, I’m lying about that.” He laughed, and she chuckled too, stirring the foam on top of her frappuccino with the straw.

“My turn to ask you something.”

He sat forward in his chair, very interested. “Well, this is new. What have I done to be graced with a question from you?”

“Shh,” she said, chuckling again.

“Go ahead, beautiful.”

The breath in her lungs seemed to escape for a moment when he called her “beautiful,” but she tried not to let the word distract her. She pretended to ignore it.

“Why are you so interested in me? Do you have a bet with your buddies to ‘bag’ the shy girl or something?”

“Ahh, the truth comes out!” he joked. “I knew you’ve been hurt before and that’s why you’re so shy.”

“I never said that.”

“Nothing else would explain a suspicion like that. Amelia, my dear, you seem paranoid.” He grinned, leaning on the table so he could look into her eyes. “Don’t get mad; I think it’s cute.”

She wasn’t mad, not even close, but before he said that last part, she could feel her cheeks getting hot as she was prepared to take defense, lie, and say she wasn’t paranoid.

“In answer to your question,” Brian continued, all joking gone from his tone, which was now sincere, “No, there’s no bet. You’re going to think I’m crazy, but I just have this feeling.”

“What feeling?”

“Even if it doesn’t ever become anything more, which, don’t get me wrong, I really hope it does because I think you’re beautiful and amazing,” he smiled at her again and she felt her cheeks burn once more, this time from a blush. “I just have this feeling that we’re meant to be something special, even if it’s just really great friends. Call it fate if you want.”

“You’re not just trying to get into my pants are you?”

“Oh, trust me, I would be delighted to get into your pants, but no, that’s not what this is.”

Amelia sat there, contemplating him. Should she trust him? Her head told her not to, but there was a feeling inside her as well that implied their fates were supposed to cross.

“Okay, say I give you a chance, we fall in love,” she was laughing, joking about the idea of them falling in love, “and then when you’re bored of me and see a new piece of eye-candy, would you respect me enough to break up with me or just cheat on me?”

Whoa. That might have been too much, she thought. Brian definitely knew she had some baggage in the form of self-esteem issues now. Too late, though. If anything, his answer would prove if he really was interested in her or just a few “fun” dates. If he laughed, called her crazy, and got up and walked away, it might save her a lot of heartache at least. But if he understood and answered her sincerely … well, maybe he might be worth giving a chance.

“So that’s what happened, you’ve been betrayed before.” He wasn’t laughing or even smiling. The look on his face was one of understanding, maybe even sympathy.

Amelia nodded.

“Well, I can tell you this,” Brian said, his voice going back to its usual carefree tone, “I don’t know what the future holds, but I will promise you this: if we fall in love,” he grinned when he said the word, embarrassed perhaps? “I won’t want to be with anyone else, will I?”

“Theoretically, but people can fall out of love.”

“Touché.” Brian nodded. “Alright, Amelia: you have my word. If we fall in love, and I am ever stupid enough to want anyone else, I will break your heart before I betray your trust.”

It was a weird promise. Yet, it made Amelia feel better and she breathed a small sigh of relief that she hoped he didn’t see. Now that he knew what her issues were, they could take the next step. Amelia, though she would remain guarded, would give Brian a chance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

02

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Six months later, Amelia and Brian were in love.

It took a long time for Amelia to open up her trust to him. She had been hurt in the past and swore she would never let her guard down again. Brian had earned her trust, slowly. He had proven to her that he was sincere and genuine in his actions. What started as curiosity on his part—why was a pretty girl shy?—turned to fascination, then a deep caring for the girl, and finally love.

He had earned her trust by being a genuine pest, though not in the harassing kind of way. Amelia had never been uncomfortable with his persistence; in fact, she found it kind of cute. Alert. Head clear. Don’t let those puppy eyes deceive you, she had always told herself. Don’t rush into anything, make him work for you. If he works his butt off to earn your trust, the odds of his intentions being genuine are greater. Though, she reminded herself, not always 100% so never drop your guard entirely.

For almost a month after their first “not-date” (as they called it) at the coffee shop, Brian would be waiting for her after her final class, a yellow rose in hand.

“Why yellow?” she had asked him one day, smelling the sweet scent of the flower.

“Yellow means friendship,” he had told her. “It’s my way of letting you know I want to become friends with you above everything else.”

He could have been seeing girls on the side, while waiting for her, but Amelia doubted that since they spent almost all their free time together. The only time they spent apart was when they were asleep and during classes.

When Amelia was having a bad day, Brian could always make her laugh. It was when she realized this that she also realized he was in fact a good friend—her best friend.

Four months after their not-date, and four months of friendship, Brian was waiting for her like always but this time, it wasn’t a yellow rose he had for her. Between his thumb and fingers was a red rose. That was also the day Brian kissed her for the first time.

As he handed her the rose, he also cupped the right side of her face and whispered against her cheek, “Don’t push me away.”

Push you away from what, she started to ask but couldn’t get the words out before she felt the softness of his lips touching hers. They both had a hand around the stem of the rose. People were probably watching them, but Brian didn’t seem to care.

His lips were smooth like velvet and warm as a summer day. The kiss sent chills through her despite its warmth.

As he pulled away, smiling yet hesitant—afraid of her reaction—the different color of the rose clawed her brain and realization struck her: Brian was in love with her.

She looked from the rose to Brian and back again, wondering if she loved him too.

She didn’t know for sure. Her heart told her yes—screamed YES! But she was still leery of admitting it. What if he hurt her?

“You don’t have to say it, and I won’t say it either if you don’t want me to,” Brian said. “But I think you know what I’m feeling right now.”

Amelia nodded. “I know.”

Brian smiled, putting an arm around her shoulder. They walked off campus, sticking to their routine and heading for the coffee shop. Amelia refused to tell him she loved him back, but that day, she did agree to be his girlfriend. They became official. No outside dating. They were a couple and only meant to be with one another.

Brian patiently waited another three weeks before she fully gave herself to him. They made love in his apartment. Him being the romantic that he was, had planned the whole evening. He had candles lit and had sprinkled red and yellow rose petals on the floor, making a trail to his bed. Too bad they didn’t make it to his bed. They had made love right there on the floor, on top of the rose petals.

Red petals for love.

Yellow for friendship.

Five weeks later, Amelia finally shoved her insecurities to the far back part of her mind and opened her heart: she told Brian she loved him too.

Too bad that sorry son-of-a-bitch would screw everything up.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

03

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“I love you,” Brian said.

“I love you more,” Amelia replied.

“And you know you’re the greatest thing that’s ever happened to me right?”

Amelia laughed softly and pushed herself up on her elbows so she could kiss him softly. “You’ve told me that before. I’m starting to believe it.”

Brian scoffed, pretending to be angry. “You’re just now starting to believe it? You mean you don’t believe me already?”

Amelia laughed again and Brian did too.

“I believe you,” Amelia said, becoming serious. They kissed again.

*          *          *

 

They were going to a concert that night with a couple of friends. It was Spring Break and they were planning on enjoying every minute of freedom they had. No worrying about staying up too late and not being able to make it to classes the next day. They were going to have fun and the concert was just the beginning. After the concert, Amelia, Brian and a friend were going to drive all night to Florida. Amelia hadn’t met Brian’s friend, Parker, yet. He was meeting them at the concert.

The concert was being held outside, one of Amelia’s favorite rock bands.

When they got there, it was packed. The smell of a freshly mowed field greeted their nostrils. Loud music from local bands blasted through huge speakers on the stage while waiting for the real show to start. People had already crowded around the front of the stage.

Brian took Amelia’s hand and led her through the parking lot, heading towards the stage. Before they could take more than five steps, his cell phone rang.

“What’s up man?” Brian said. “Yeah, we’re here, just pulled up. We’re headed over now. By the porta-crappers.” He let go of Amelia and waved into the air. “See me? Okay, see you in a minute, bro.”

Amelia snickered. “Bro?”

“It’s a guy thing, baby.” He kissed her. “Anyway, that was Parker, he’s on his way over.”

They waited a couple minutes before a young man approached them from out of the crowd. He was tall, skinny, and had curly brown hair. He was smiling and waving. When he reached them, he and Brian did a man-hand-shake that included a half-hug. Then, Brian turned to Amelia.

“This is her,” he said, smiling proudly. “Sweetheart, this is Parker.”

“Hi, I’m Amelia.” She held out a hand for him to shake.

“Oh no. No, you’re Brian’s girl, that makes you family; family doesn’t shake hands. We hug.”

Before she could respond, Parker had picked her up in a bear hug. She laughed, blushing only a little when he put her back down on the ground. Parker was grinning from ear to ear. He had a nice smile and the prettiest dark eyes Amelia had ever seen. Parker and Brian looked like complete opposites—Brian’s eyes were bright blue with straight sandy blonde hair, and he was shorter and more muscular than Parker.

“So do you guys want to put your stuff in Bertha before the show starts?” Parker asked.

“Bertha?” Amelia asked at the same time Brian said, “Sure.”

“Bertha’s my old clunker of a Suburban—an ‘88,” Parker explained. “She’s reliable though, so don’t worry.” He winked, then turned and gestured for them to follow. “Come on.”

They stopped by Brian’s car and retrieved their luggage, then trudged halfway across the parking lot where Parker’s Suburban was. He was right, the vehicle was a clunker. It was brown and tan and wide—Bertha was a suitable name for it.

“I took the back seat out since there’s only three of us, that way some of us can sleep while someone else drives. No hanky-panky back here though,” he warned in a joking tone. Brian and Amelia laughed.

“No promises,” Brian said, grabbing Amelia with one hand around the waist and kissing the side of her head.

Parker laughed and then he and Brian loaded the bags, packing some of them on the middle bench seat since only one person would be sitting there at a time. Then, they headed back to the crowd where a few of Amelia and Brian’s friends from college joined them.

The concert was amazing. Of course, it was the first real concert Amelia had ever been to, and it was her favorite band, so she may have been biased. She had never been the type to go to concerts before—her mother had never allowed it. She had learned to experience so much in her short time with Brian. He had shown her to not be afraid to try new things—she even moshed that night! It was so much fun, and she couldn’t wait to do it again.

Once the last song played and the band bid the crowd farewell, the three were in Parker’s Suburban. Brian had given Jake, one of the friends at the concert, his keys to take his car home.

No one was sleepy at first; the concert had hyped them up, and they were also drinking iced coffee now. Parker drove first. Brian sat in the passenger seat, and Amelia sat in the middle of the bench seat behind, resting her elbow on one of the bags in the seat behind Parker.

They chatted for a while, Amelia and Parker getting to know each other. Once Parker found out Amelia liked playing RPGs on the computer and gaming consoles, he mentioned to Brian that he might have to “steal his girlfriend, because she was way too cool to be dating someone like Brian.” Amelia laughed about it of course.

“Yep, I’m a lucky guy,” Brian said, looking at Amelia with love in his eyes. “I found the perfect woman: she’s hot, smart, and she’s a geek.”

Brian’s range of video games weren’t very extensive, but there was an MMO he played whenever he had free time. He and Amelia usually played together when they weren’t out together or in school.

After a couple hours, Amelia finally started getting tired.

“You want to sleep for a bit, baby?” Brian asked.

“If you’ll sleep with me,” she said with a convincing smile that she knew was too cute for Brian to pass up.

They went to the empty back part of the Suburban and laid down a blanket and a couple of pillows before settling down themselves. Amelia lay on Brian’s chest and he pulled a blanket up around them. He kissed her forehead and then she kissed his lips.

“I love you,” Brian whispered in her ear just before she went to sleep. She smiled and then drifted off.

 

 

It was still dark when Amelia woke up. They were well on the road now, the nearest city miles away. The sky was black with pretty specks of white stars. When she rolled over, she saw she was alone. Brian was driving now. She hadn’t heard or felt him get up.

Sleepily, she crawled over the bench seat and kissed Brian’s cheek.

“What are you already doing awake, baby? It’s only been a few hours.”

“Same to you,” she said. “And you know I don’t sleep well without you there.”

Brian drove with one hand and took hers with the other, bringing her fingers up to his mouth to kiss.

“How long has he been out?” Amelia asked, looking at Parker’s sleeping form in the passenger’s seat.

“About half an hour.”

“Should we wake him and tell him he can take the back? It’d be more comfortable.”

“You don’t have to wake me up,” Parker mumbled. “I’m going.” He lazily and half-asleep it seemed, rolled out of the passenger seat, over the bench, and onto the pillows in the back. He was snoring within a few seconds.

“Come sit up here with me,” Brian said to Amelia.

She happily obliged. As Brian drove, he held Amelia’s hand, glancing at her every couple minutes and smiling.

They made it to their destination by 11:00am the next morning.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

04

 

 

 

 

 

 

They checked into the motel and decided the three of them would nap before going out to explore. Though, they weren’t sure they would be able to sleep since they were so excited and the smell of the sea air had perked them up. But, Parker reminded them, they were going to want to stay out late, and needed their rest in order to do so.

They had joining rooms, but Brian and Amelia locked Parker out of their side so they could have some privacy.

They all slept until near 5pm.

Brian woke Amelia by trailing gentle kisses across her skin. First her cheek, then down her neck and onto her shoulders. He repeated the pattern until her eyes fluttered. She smiled at the feel of his lips on her skin, and pretended to be asleep for a few more moments so she could relish in the feeling. His touch sent little shivers over her flesh and made the part between her legs flutter.

Finally, she rolled over to look into his eyes.

“Good evening, Beautiful.” Brian smiled and kissed her nose.

“Evening, Handsome,” Amelia replied and eagerly awaited another kiss.

Before showering, they made love—the second time in just a few hours as they had also made love before going to sleep. As Brian was on top of her, she suddenly had the feeling that something was going to go terribly wrong. Something told her that this would be the last time she felt Brian inside of her. As he came close to coming, she placed the thought back in her mind. Now wasn’t the time for such depressing thoughts. She was sure it meant nothing anyway. They were here to have fun—that’s what they were going to do.

An hour later, the three of them were entering a restaurant very near the ocean. They could hear the waves crashing into the beach as they went inside. Parker and Brian were chatting away, almost like women. Amelia smiled to herself as she thought this.

They ate, then walked a mile down the beach where a bonfire party was. Loud music was playing from the trunk of a shiny red car, probably a nice one, but Amelia didn’t know anything about cars. A small crowd of men and a few women were gathered around the vehicle though, admiring it.

A huge fire was about a football field away. People were laughing, talking, and dancing close by. There wasn’t as many people as there had been at the concert, but there was still a big crowd. Amelia didn’t mind much; she was getting more and more used to this kind of entertainment.

It got late. The sky became darker, though with the fire and commotion, the partiers didn’t seem notice. Amelia and Brian were dancing to an upbeat song, along with several other people. Parker was sitting off to the side, drinking and laughing at everyone. Amelia was giggling, Brian behind her, his hands on her hips.

As the song ended, Brian leaned down and whispered: “Nature calls, be right back, baby.”

“Okay, don’t be too long.” Amelia kissed him, then went to where Parker was sitting. She sat in the sand beside him. He handed her a flavored malt beer.

“You’re a pretty good dancer,” Parker said to her.

She smiled. “Thanks, I try.”

He chuckled and nursed his beer.

“Where’d ol’ boy get to?”

“Pee break.”

“Ahh.” Parker nodded.

*          *          *

 

Brian had to walk a distance away from the party to relieve himself. He wasn’t so drunk yet that he would be inconsiderate and indecent. Plus, he liked his privacy. He walked nearly a mile before feeling it safe enough unzip his shorts.

He was behind a rock. Guiding his stream, he chuckled as he wrote his name on the rock. It never gets old, he thought, still chuckling to himself.

When he finished, he zipped himself back up and started back to the party. Amelia and Parker were on the far end of the party. As Brian was making his way through the first part of the crowd, he noticed a small group of people his age. Both men and women. They were sitting around their own small campfire, talking amongst themselves, drinking, and smoking pot from what Brian could smell. There was also a battery radio sitting on a plastic crate near them. It played music from one of local radio stations.

“Hey man!” one of the men called. He had very tan skin and sun-bleached hair.

“How’s it going?” Brian said.

“Good, good. Why don’t you come over here and sit for a while?”

Brian thought of Amelia. She probably wasn’t very comfortable without him. He knew her social anxiety might be getting to her. But at the same time, he thought of the concert. She had done so well and had had so much fun. She was coming out of her shell, and she was with Parker. He doubted he needed to get back to her right away. Besides, it might make her feel more independent and comfortable, perhaps she may even conquer her anxiety, if she was without him for a little while. He wouldn’t be gone long.

“Sure man, why not?” Brian sat in a cheap lawn chair next to the man who had first spoke to him.

“What’s your name, man?” he asked.

“Brian.”

The man nodded and then gestured first to himself and then to everyone else around the fire. “I’m Joel, that’s Melvin, Samantha, Slade, Garrett, Corbin, and Cherish.”

Brian gave a friendly wave to the group.

“So what brings you here?” Joel asked.

“My buddy and girlfriend are here with me; we’re on Spring Break.”

“Yeah, thought so,” Joel laughed. “Most everyone on this beach are Spring Breakers.”

“Ah, are you guys local?”

“Born and raised, most of us,” Corbin said, grinning. His skin was black, and he appeared to be the youngest of the group, maybe 17 or 18.

“I’m the newbie,” one of the girls, Cherish, spoke up. She was a pretty girl with pale skin and long blonde hair. “I’ve been here two years.”

Slade and Melvin appeared to be of Hispanic origin. Samantha was a dark redhead with tan skin and bright blue eyes. Garret seemed to be the shyer one of the group. He was tall, pale and gangly with bright reddish-orange hair.

“Do you smoke?” Samantha asked.

“Sometimes,” Brian said, smiling. She handed him the joint. Silently, Brian promised himself he would only take one drag off of it.

“Want a beer man?” Corbin held out a cold longneck. Brian took it, thanking him.

He lost track of time. Brian became too consumed in the conversations. Before he knew it, he had already had two more beers and taken one more drag from Samantha’s joint. He wasn’t anywhere near drunk—it would take a lot of beer to make him drunk and he was nowhere close.

A slow song came on the radio. Cherish suddenly jumped from her seat. “Ooh, this is my favorite song! Come on, dance with me.” She pulled at Samantha’s arm. Samantha laughed and stood with her and the two girls left the circle to dance next to the radio.

The men laughed and went back to their conversation. Brian was throwing in his opinion on the TV show Family Guy when he really noticed Cherish for the first time. His attention was drawn to her when he saw out of the corner of his eye her hips swaying to the soft song on the radio.

She was wearing a bikini with a cover on her bottom half. The cover was just a slip of material that fluttered in the cool breeze from the waves nearby. He couldn’t help but notice she was slightly cold, too—her nipples were erect and could be seen through the material of her top. Her hair fluttered around her. Her dance was seductive. The way she moved her hips sent a chill down Brian’s spine and he felt himself start to stiffen.

He tried hard to ignore her, though. He went back to the conversation and tried not to look at her. He could still see her moving from the corner of his eye. She had a beer in one hand and was using her other to run her fingers through her hair.

Samantha had given up on dancing and sat back down a few moments ago.

“Whew,” Brian said a few minutes later. He noticed the horizon turning pink. “I’m going to have to get going soon.”

“Oh Man,” came groans from the group.

“I know, I know. But I’m probably in trouble already.” Brian laughed. “Gotta piss again though.” The beers had gone right through him. He started to head the other direction, intending on going back to his rock.

“Dude, why don’t you just go up there?” Slade said, pointing.

“Huh?” Brian said, turning around.

“There. There’s a bathroom up there. It’s got some toilets and showers for the beach-goers.”

Brian looked to where Slade was pointing. There was a small hill several yards away, and a building stood in enough light that Brian wondered how the hell he had missed it to begin with.

“That’s been here the whole time?” he asked in disbelief.

“Yeah dude. You must have walked by it.”

“Guess my powers of observation are lacking,” Brian mumbled, laughing softly.

The others laughed with him. Brian shook his head in disbelief at himself and started toward the building.

When he got inside, he was alone. He relieved himself at one of the urinals and then turned to leave. He stopped.

Cherish was standing in the doorway.

He laughed. “You know this is the guys’ room, right?”

She shrugged her shoulders. “I know. Just thought I’d see if you made your way up here okay.”

Brian nodded. “Thanks. I think I did okay.”

Cherish smiled, then brought her arms up and inspected them. She chuckled softly. “Wow, I have sand all over me.”

“Well, we are on a beach.”

She nodded in agreement, still smiling. Then, she walked further in, headed for the shower. “Guess I should rinse myself off.”

Brian pointed out the door. “Don’t you think you should the women’s bathroom?”

She grinned over her shoulder. “No one’s here.” Slowly, she pulled the cover from around her waist and let it fall to the floor.

Brian stuttered, feeling the excitement again. “I am.”

Cherish threw open the plastic curtain and turned on the water in the first shower. She eyed Brian for a few seconds while waiting for the water to get warm. Then, she stepped inside the shower, not bothering to close the curtain. Her swimming suit quickly became drenched. Brian noticed her nipples were still cold and were now even more accentuated under the wet material.

Keeping her eyes on Brian, Cherish removed her swimming top, tossing it into the corner of the shower. Then she removed her bottoms. She had a beautiful body. Brian instantly hardened.

“I saw you watching me earlier.” Cherish said. “Want to join me?”

Brian took in a deep breath. He knew what he should do. He should politely decline, turn and walk away. He should go back to Amelia. She was probably worried. Or pissed off.

Cherish seemed to know she was losing him to his conscience. She turned the shower head so it sprayed into the corner and then lowered herself to the shower floor. Staring shamelessly into his eyes, she opened her legs for him to see.

Brian bit his knuckles at the sight of her shaved area. He was about to make a very stupid decision.

“I’m going to regret this,” he muttered to himself before throwing his clothes off and going to the shower. He fell to his knees in front of Cherish.

“Let me make it a little easier for you,” she said. She brought her legs up and rolled slightly back so her feet rested against the wall, almost making a human-pretzel form and exposing and tightening herself.

“Oh God,” Brian whispered. He planted his face against her and began licking rapidly. His hands grasped her buttocks as he tasted her, mumbling vibrations against her clit. She moaned with pleasure. The shower water, though averted, still fell partially on them.

After pleasuring her for a few minutes, Brian asked her if she was ready for him.

“Yes, yes, yes,” she moaned.

He pulled her away from the wall, keeping her legs up so he could throw them over his shoulders. Her ankles touched his ears and he kissed her legs before entering her. He pushed her legs against her chest while they were still over his shoulders. The tightness of her position made it hard for him to last long. He pumped her fast and hard. She seemed to like it, as she was crying out with pleasure.

When he was ready to come, he pulled out and finished the job by hand since they hadn’t used a condom. As he was finishing, so was she, her hand pleasuring herself. He came on her abdomen and she came shortly after.

They took a few moments to rest before cleaning themselves with the shower water. That was when Brian felt the guilt.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

05

 

 

 

 

 

 

Amelia wasn’t sure if she should be worried or angry. Brian had been gone almost two hours. He was only supposed to be taking a piss. It had been all night. The sun was rising, the sky a pinkish color. She was starting to feel a little tired again and wanted to go back to the motel. Parker was passed out beside her, whether from drinking or just tiredness, she wasn’t sure. A lot of the people had left in the last 30 minutes, the crowd was now half the size it was when they arrived.

She decided to go look for him. If she found he wasn’t hurt or missing, she would be angry with him.

She walked several hundred feet, her eyes searching for him. Most of the people left were sitting in the sand, almost passed out. A lot were passed out. She stopped several people and described Brian to them, asking if they had seen him.

Finally, one person said the description sounded familiar and asked for his name again.

“Brian,” Amelia said.

The man, a tall redhead seemed to grimace. He hesitated and then pointed to his left. Amelia looked and saw a small building on a hill. Bathrooms and showers. The sky was on fire now with the early morning sun.

Amelia ascended the hill and stood outside the men’s room for a moment, thinking Brian would be out shortly. That was when she heard the moans. Her heart dropping into her stomach, she cautiously opened the door and was shocked by what she saw.

Brian was on top of another woman. He was pulling out of her and masturbating himself to finish while she did the same.

Amelia couldn’t move. Couldn’t breathe. She could barely even blink. She just stood there, watching as they finished. Watched as they rested for a minute without noticing her, and then watched as they cleaned themselves under the running water.

Without even realizing she was speaking, Amelia heard the words come out of her own mouth: “How could you do this to me?”

Brian flung around quickly. The girl stood, covering her breasts with her arms.

“Oh shit,” Brian said. “Fuck!” He hit the wall, then made a mad dash for his shorts. Amelia turned and let the door close. She could hear him rustling his shorts up his wet legs, tripping a few times and using his hands to catch himself on the wall. “God damn it!” he was yelling.

The door opened, but Amelia kept walking. Ignoring Brian as he called out her name.

“Wait! Baby! Wait!”

She couldn’t look at his face. She didn’t want to. She didn’t want to look into the eyes of her cheating lover. He had promised. Promised he wouldn’t hurt her. He was supposed to be different. This was why she had been so distrusting in the first place—her last lover had cheated too. Only she hadn’t caught him in the act, he had confessed. In some ways, seeing it was worse even though she didn’t have to wonder. He had gone to so much trouble to get her to trust him. His words had been sincere.

Couldn’t look at him. Tried to drown out his voice by covering her ears with her hands.

She started to run. She could tell he was running after her. A second set of feet was chasing. The girl. The whore. Who had sex with someone they just met, if not a whore?

She ran to the first vehicle she saw. An old van where a man was sitting in a lawn chair drinking coffee.

She ran up to him. He looked to be in his lower thirties.

“Please, I need to get back into town. Can you give me a ride?” It was a dumb move, she knew that. But she wasn’t thinking clearly; she just wanted to get away from him.

Brian was close by.

“Sure, how far into town?” the man asked.

“Not far. I’ll pay you, just please hurry.”

“Hop in.” The man was already standing and folding his chair. He threw it into the back and then gestured for Amelia to get in. She crawled in and sat in the closest seat. The man closed the sliding door just as Brian made his way to them.

“Wait! Amelia! You don’t know him, get out of the car!” He yelled at the man, who was climbing into the driver’s seat. “Don’t you drive away with her!”

The woman Brian had just screwed made her way to them, too. She tugged on Brian’s arm and said something. Amelia stared out the windshield as the van drove away, rocking back and forth over the sand.

 

 

“Brian, she’s in danger. That man is not safe.” Cherish said to Brian, tugging on his arm.

“Well get me to a god damn vehicle then!”

“Joel! We need your truck!” Cherish yelled.

Without questioning, Joel tossed his keys to her.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

06

 

 

 

 

 

 

“So what’s going on sweetheart?” the man asked.

Amelia cringed at the word “sweetheart.” She shook her head, not wanting to talk about what she had witnessed. “Nothing, I just needed to get out of there.”

The man looked at her in the rearview mirror. “Didn’t look like nothing. It looked like your boyfriend just got done fuckin’ another woman.”

Amelia ignored him, hugging herself. “Just, please drop me off at the motel on 15th.”

The man nodded but didn’t say anything. He was white, balding already, and what hair he had was thin and greasy on top. He was average weight, though on the heavier side of it.

Amelia was too wrapped up in her shock and pain to notice that the man was not going the right way. Fifteen minutes later, the van stopped outside a small house seemingly by itself.

The man put the van in park and then climbed in the back with her. She tensed, thinking he was going to become violent. But all he did was kneel beside her, in between the bucket seats.

“Look, Miss. I know you’re upset about something. I don’t think it’s a good idea for you to be alone right now. Why don’t you come inside for awhile? My mother will fix you some tea or something.”

Before she could respond, the side door was thrown open. There stood Brian.

“Get away from her!”

You get away from me, Brian!” Amelia screamed at him.

“I’m not leaving you alone with this guy! Cherish told me about him; he’s a bully and can be dangerous! Get out of the car, Amelia!”

“Cherish? You mean the other woman you just fucked?!” Amelia said. She rarely used that word, finding it inappropriate and unnecessary. Brian seemed surprise at the vicious sound of her voice.

Suddenly, there was the sound of a gunshot, then two more. The girls ducked on instinct, and Brian turned around to see the man had shot three of the tires on the truck he and Cherish had come in. Even more furious, Brian turned around to yell at the man, and reached into the van to grab him, looking like he wanted to beat the crap out of him. Before he could get very far, however, the man shot again—two more times. Amelia and Cherish screamed that time. Brian was thrust backwards, and he fell with his back against the pavement. He was still shirtless, so the wound was immediately visible. The bullet penetrated near his shoulder and blood was seeping from the hole. The fall made him hit his head and he was knocked unconscious. He had also been shot in his right thigh.

Amelia looked beside her and saw the man still aiming the gun. A handgun. She didn’t know what kind, but it was sleek and a semi-automatic. Without thinking about the possible outcome of her decision, she jumped from her seat and rammed into the man’s side. He fell over against the other seat. Amelia saw an open toolbox behind the seat the man fell against. As he struggled to get back up, gun still in hand, Amelia grabbed for the first tool she could see on top: a wrench. She used all her strength to hit him in the side of the head with it.

He fell backwards again, knocked out. The gun fell from his fingers. Amelia gagged when she saw the wound on his head and the blood seeping from it.

“Oh my God,” she whispered. She may have killed him.

“Hey!”

The girl’s voice brought Amelia out of her current shock. Brian. She turned around and saw Brian still on the ground, bleeding.

“We have to get him out of here in case the psycho wakes up.”

Amelia only glared at the girl.

“Look, I know you hate me, and I know you’re not happy with him right now, but do you want him to die?”

Amelia shook her head. “No, of course not,” she whispered.

“Good, then help me.” The girl (whore) known as Cherish, took Brian under the arms and motioned for Amelia to take his ankles. Amelia reluctantly did so.

“I’m guessing you don’t have a phone?” Cherish asked.

“No, I left it with Parker.”

“I don’t have one either.”

“Obviously,” Amelia sneered, looking at the skimpy swimming suit Cherish was wearing.

Cherish ignored the sneer and continued. “I know of a place we can take him and then we can find some help. We don’t want to leave him in the open in case Noah wakes up.”

Noah was apparently the bully that Amelia had just knocked out.

As they struggled to carry Brian with them, Amelia started to regret leaving the gun behind. But she had never used a gun and didn’t want to kill anyone—she was scared of guns; that was why she hadn’t brought it along. As long as they could get out of sight, they should be safe.

*          *          *

 

Noah Walker woke up an hour later. His head hurt. He touched his fingers to the wound. There was blood. Stumbling, he went into his apartment and blotched at the wound with gauze he found in the bathroom. He poured peroxide on it, gasping at the sting. He wasn’t able to cover the wound, so he went to his mother’s bedroom where he knew he would find comfort.

She was still sleeping. He crawled into bed with her. She stirred, feeling the movement.

“Mother, I’m hurt.”

She saw the wound on his head. “My poor baby!” She cradled him, laying his head on her bosom and reaching over to the side table where a box of tissues were. She grabbed a bunch and held the wad to his head. “What happened?”

“Some evil bitch hit me with my wrench.”

“Where’d she go?”

“She ran away.”

“Shh, shh. My poor baby.” The mother kissed his forehead and let him lay on her for several more minutes.

“Mother?” Noah asked after a few moments of silence.

“Yes, baby?”

“Can I put it in?”

The mother smiled to herself, kissing his forehead again. “Of course, my baby boy.”

Noah smiled raising his head slightly, and pulled the covers up so they went around him as well as his mother. Then he raised his mother’s nightgown, and lay on top of her, parting her legs….


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

07

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Here, there’s a place I know we can take him,” Cherish was saying.

Amelia hadn’t heard her at first. She didn’t want to leave Brian to possibly bleed to death, but she wasn’t pleased about her situation, either. Brian had cheated on her. The woman he had cheated on her with was standing 5 feet in front of her, helping her carry him to safety. She didn’t want to be near the woman, much less speak to her like a civil human being.

But she had no other choice right now. She could be mad later. She could be cold and rude to the woman when they were all out of danger.

“Where?” Amelia asked.

“There’s an abandoned house down the road, about a quarter of a mile. Think you can make it that far?”

Cherish wasn’t being condescending in the least. Amelia took it that way though and glared at her.

“Yes,” was all she replied.

When they got to the house, Amelia’s arms felt like they were going to give out on her. It looked just like an abandoned house would: boards on the windows, an out-of control lawn with weeds as tall as her knees. The path up to the door was barely visible as it was being overtaken by grass. The house itself didn’t look too bad. It was dirty but the paint seemed to be in good shape underneath. It must not have been abandoned for long.

They were in a small town. The abandoned house was mostly on its own, on the outskirts of the town. There was an old gas station not far from the house, but it didn’t appear to be in business anymore.

As they made their way to the front door, Amelia caught sight of something moving across the path right behind Cherish, who had her back to the house.

It was a snake. Amelia gasped, tripping as she tried to stop while Cherish was still moving.

“What is it?” Cherish asked, looking over her shoulder. She jumped, startled by the snake and let out a small yell. “Geez!”

The snake slithered away, scared of the intruders.

After both girls took a moment to shake off the creeps, they continued. Amelia could see Brian still breathing, but he was still out cold. As she looked at the sleeping face of her lover, Amelia started to feel anger and hurt make its way into her blood. How could you? She thought.

“Hopefully the door’s unlocked,” Cherish said, drawing Amelia out of her thoughts. With her back against the door and holding onto Brian’s uninjured shoulder, Cherish tried to turn the handle. “Of course not,” she muttered. Looking at Amelia, she asked, “Ever kicked a door down before?”

Amelia shook her head. “No, but I can try.”

Cherish nodded and took Brian’s full weight, moving out of the way for Amelia.

Amelia looked at the door she was supposed to conquer. She was only wearing sandals. This was going to hurt, she knew. Glancing down at her feet, she noticed she was standing on a doormat. Maybe….

Amelia looked under the mat, hoping to find a key.

Nope. Of course she couldn’t be so lucky—this wasn’t her day, why would there be a key there?

Going only by what she had seen on movies, Amelia took a breath and planted one foot against the cement, then raised her leg and gave the door a swift kick right below the door handle. She flattened the bottom of her foot and used that part, knowing she would break her toes if she kicked it any other way.

The door shook in its frame and she thought she heard a couple pieces of wood break off. But the door didn’t fly open the way it did in movies. She kicked it again, and again, and again, until finally, the door broke free, sending splintered pieces of wood from the door frame.

Her foot hurt and there was a tingling sensation going up her leg. She ignored it though, knowing there were more important things to attend. Like Brian. She didn’t know if Noah intended on searching for them and getting revenge for the injury on his head, but she didn’t want to stay outside and find out.

Amelia returned to her place and took Brian’s ankles, helping her move him into the house.

It was stuffy inside. No air flow and the house was heating with the rise of the morning temperatures. They appeared to be in the living room. Something Amelia found strange was that the boards covering the windows were on the inside of the house—not the outside. Most people put the boards on the outside to keep the windows from being broken. Maybe it was to keep people from breaking in. If the boards were outside, it would be easy for someone to pry them off and break a window to get inside. As for the room itself, there was only an old couch and an end table in the room. There was a staircase to the left of the entrance of the kitchen. The house did seem empty.

Just for good measure:

“Hello!” Amelia called.

“I told you it was abandoned,” Cherish said.

“That may be, but there could have been people like us, looking for shelter and staying here without giving you a memo,” Amelia said.

Cherish turned her head, possibly rolling her eyes, Amelia couldn’t tell for sure. She chose to ignore her.

They carried Brian to the couch and lay him on it carefully. He grimaced in his sleep.

“Okay, I’m going to walk into town and use a phone since we don’t have ours and call an ambulance for him,” Cherish said. “Look for something you can use as a weapon in case Noah figures out where you are.”

“What’s the deal with him?” Amelia asked. “What should I expect?”

“He’s a town bully. He’s slightly on the retarded side, though, so some people think he doesn’t understand that what he does is bullying. He’s mean to kids, and starts fights with anyone who doesn’t let him have his way. He’s really creepy, and as you saw, dangerous. So just … stay low, okay?”

Amelia nodded.

Cherish headed for the front door.

Suddenly, a strong gust of wind flew into the house, and the door was slammed shut. With the door now closed all the way, it also became dark except for a sliver of light coming in from a crack in the board over the living room window. Cherish stopped in her tracks. Amelia looked up, confused.

“I kicked that door in. The frame is broken, how did it shut like that?”

Cherish shrugged her shoulders as she glanced at Amelia. “Where’d the wind come from, too? I didn’t hear or see any storm coming in.”

Amelia’s flesh became plagued with goose bumps. She felt cold, scared, and suddenly very vulnerable. She stood, cautiously looking around her. There was no one in sight.

“Do you see a lightswitch anywhere?” Cherish asked.

Amelia searched the walls in the dim light.

“Nevermind, I found one.” Cherish went to the front door and flipped a switch next to it. No electricity.

“Hold on, I think Brian has a lighter.” Amelia went to him, bent down and searched the pockets of his shorts. She found the lighter he always carried and took it.

“What are you going to do with that? We don’t have candles or torches or anything,” Cherish.

Amelia ignored her question and brought the lighter to the front door. She used the small flame to inspect the door frame. Both she and Cherish gasped in shock. The frame was completely intact. It was as if the house had healed itself. Cherish tried opening the door. It was locked again, this time from the outside.

Cherish suddenly lost her composure.

“Oh my God, oh my God,” she was saying over and over, putting her face in her hands.

“Calm down, please!” Amelia hissed. Though she was able to keep her composure on the outside, on the inside, she was freaking out, too. The door had healed itself. And they were locked inside.

“You don’t understand!” Cherish said. “The reason this house was abandoned was because the family had supposedly been terrorized by ghosts or demons or something! I thought it was just a story, but how the hell did the door just do that? It’s true, it’s gotta be true. We have to get out of here.”

“Okay, don’t panic,” Amelia said. “We’ll pull back some of the boards and see if we can break a window or something.”

Just then, a deep growling sound began emanating throughout the house. It was low, barely audible, but it was there, and both girls heard it.

Without hesitating, they each ran to the nearest boarded up window, right next to the front door, and began pulling on it. They both worked on the same end, forcing their fingers under the board so they could grasp it, even though it was painful.

Amelia and Cherish were meant to be enemies, but they knew they had to work together if they wanted to get out.

They pulled until their arms hurt. Their wood cut into their fingers, breaking the skin and making them bleed. It was nailed down tightly. Finally, though, the board started to give. They pulled one end loose, then moved to the other side. The growling sound had vanished, but they still felt something.

Eyes watching. Evil waiting.

“Aaah!” They both yelled as they pulled on the other side of the board. It was painful. Their fingers were already bleeding; the wood was making the cuts deeper. They didn’t care. Adrenaline was on their side. The board broke free and they let it fall to the floor, sidestepping it so it didn’t crush their toes.

“Oh my God,” Amelia whispered when she looked out the window.

“Fuck!” Cherish cried.

There was nothing outside. All they could see through the window was a wall of dirt against the glass. They knew there wasn’t a dirt pile outside at this window. It was as if the house had been swallowed by the earth.

The house didn’t want them to leave.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

08

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Come on, we need to see if we can find some candles or something,” Amelia said.

“What about Brian?”

“He’ll be fine there. It’s not like he can help us right now. And since we’re apparently going to be here for a while, look for something we can bandage him up with, too.”

What was this assertiveness? Amelia had never been a leader. Maybe she knew there was no other choice. Cherish was obviously too afraid to take charge of the situation. Amelia was scared, but she knew panicking wouldn’t get them anywhere. She had been interested in the paranormal since she was a young teen. She knew some myths. Now would be the time to see if they worked….

Cherish was nodding. “Okay, yeah, you’re right. Do you want to look upstairs and I’ll look down here?” By the tone of her voice, it was clear Cherish was afraid to go upstairs.

Amelia shook her head. “No, we’re not splitting up.” She added under her breath, “I’ve seen how those movies go.”

“Okay, so where do you want to start?” Cherish glanced fearfully at the staircase.

“Kitchen. Let’s see if we can find candles first.”

Amelia and Cherish walked slowly to the kitchen, careful not to trip on anything in the darkness. Amelia held the lighter, using what little light it produced to help show the way. Every move they made, every step they took, Amelia felt eyes on her. Evil. Whatever was keeping them there wasn’t friendly.

Her heart was beating fast and she could hear Cherish’s breaths coming in short, soft gasps. Cherish was also following her too closely for comfort. The frightened young woman seemed to have forgotten that she was following the woman whose boyfriend she had slept with. Amelia wondered then if she should be upset with Cherish. Had Cherish even known Brian had a girlfriend? Perhaps she wasn’t to blame at all. Although Amelia still couldn’t agree with someone sleeping with a person they had just met, and considered it sleazy, perhaps she was being irrational where Cherish was concerned.

That didn’t mean she had to like her.

They got to the kitchen and saw that it was just like the living room. Few pieces of furniture and appliances, and dusty. A small four-chair table sat in the corner. There was an old coffee maker on the counter. They couldn’t see anything else in plain sight.

“You look in the cupboards above,” Amelia said, “I’ll look in the drawers.”

Cherish nodded and went to the cupboards. Amelia first went to the drawer next to the stove. She found adhesive wall paper in there for lining the cupboards. Not sure if they would find any other type of adhesive, she thought to grab it for possibly covering Brian’s wounds.

“Does the water work?” Amelia asked Cherish since she was standing over the sink.

Cherish tried turned one of the handles. A soft stream of very low pressured water flowed from the faucet. The pressure became lower and lower the longer the water was on.

“Turn it off,” Amelia said.

Cherish went back to searching the cupboards. Amelia went back to the drawers.

Amelia went through two more drawers, finding silverware and a junk drawer with scissors, twist ties, electrical tape, a small pair of pliers, and superglue. She took the scissors and superglue. She knew the electrical tape wouldn’t work very well to keep bandages on skin.

“Here, I found some emergency candles,” Cherish suddenly said, pulling a package from one of the cupboards. It was a large box of small stick candles.

“Were there any plates?”

“Yes, why?”

“Grab a couple.”

Cherish took a small stack of salad plates from the cupboard. Amelia went to stand by her, taking two plates and setting them on the counter. She then held her hand out for the candles, Cherish handed them to her. Taking a candle and lighting it, Amelia waited a few seconds until the wax started to melt. She tipped the candle and dripped a few drops on the plate, then turned the candle right side up again and stuck the bottom of it on the hot wax on the plate. She held it there in place for several seconds until the wax cooled. The candle now stood on its own. She did the same with a second candle and handed one of the plates back to Cherish.

“There, now you have some light.”

“Thanks.” Cherish used her makeshift lantern to continue searching the cupboards. She found a small pile of towels and washcloths and grabbed a few of them.

Once they finished searching the kitchen, the two girls took their findings and went back to the living room. Among their finds was a few gallons of water, two large packs of paper plates, a package of napkins, some canned goods, a roasting pan, and a small bottle of whiskey. Amelia prepared to work on Brian. She wasn’t a nurse, but knew a few tricks to cleaning wounds and wrapping them.

First, she lit a few more candles and set the plates around the room to provide light. Though dim it was, it was still better than the darkness from before.

Amelia sat on the couch with Brian. He was still sleeping. She touched his skin. He was cold.

“Grab that end table and bring it closer to the couch,” Amelia nodded at the small piece of furniture sitting in the right corner of the living room. Cherish did as she was told without question, though she seemed hesitant as the corner was darker than the rest of the room. She moved fast, dragging the table across the floor.

While she did that, Amelia opened the bottle of whiskey and poured it over the bullet wound on Brian’s shoulder. To her surprise, he grimaced and started to wake up, feeling the new pain. Before he could completely come to, Amelia quickly poured the liquid over the second wound. Cherish reached her at the same time with the table. She left the table about three feet from the couch.

Brian was groaning and trying to sit up.

“Hold him down,” Amelia said. Though her jealousy and anger flared again, seeing Cherish put her hands on her boyfriend.

“Brian,” Amelia said. “Brian!”

“Huh?” he said drowsily.

“You need to stay down. You’ve been shot; I’m cleaning your wounds. Just stay still.”

Though still confused, Brian did what she said and kept still, relaxing, though the look on his face stayed a painful one.

She didn’t know the first thing about removing bullets from a wound, nor did she have the tools, she was sure. But she knew she had to stop the bleeding. She would just have to leave the bullets in him and hope that doctors could fix him when (and if) they got out of here.

To close the wound, Amelia used the super glue. The glue was a gel, not a liquid. She squeezed the tube, covering the hole. The blood mixed with the gel, making a gooey red plug over the wound. Brian yelled softly in pain, then again when she did the other wound.

“Here,” Cherish said to Brian. She grabbed the bottle of whiskey and helped him take a drink.

In case the glue wouldn’t work the way she thought, Amelia decided to be cautious and cover the wounds as well. She used the scissors to cut the towels to make gauze. Then, she cut out two small squares of the adhesive wall paper. She wasn’t sure how strong the adhesive would be, and didn’t want to risk ripping away a large part of his skin later, so she made sure the adhesive would barely touch his skin. She put it over the gauze, allowing only half an inch of each corner to adhere to his skin.

Next, she needed to start a fire to warm him up. She used the roasting pan and had Cherish help her bunch up several napkins and rip up a few of the paper plates. She lit the paper products on fire, then asked Cherish to come upstairs with her to see if they could find blankets, knowing the paper products wouldn’t burn for long.

Hesitantly, Cherish followed. Both girls had a plate with a candle. Brian didn’t care about being left alone—because he didn’t know the situation yet. Amelia decided to wait to tell him until they got back downstairs. He probably wouldn’t believe them right away anyway.

“How come these people didn’t have a phone?” Cherish grumbled from behind Amelia. They were nearing the top of the staircase.

“Maybe they took it with them. I doubt a phone would have worked anyway.”

There were two bedrooms and a bathroom upstairs. The master bedroom had a brass-framed, double bed still in it, stripped of all bedding. There was also a dresser and a writing desk. They searched the dresser, finding old T-shirts and other pieces of clothing.

“They must have left in a hurry to leave all this stuff behind,” Cherish said.

“I’d say so, considering they left all the big pieces of furniture behind instead of taking the time to move it all out,” Amelia said. She was at the dresser, picking through the clothing. The clothes smelled musty, but they were better than nothing.

“Here,” Amelia threw a long T-shirt to Cherish. “I’m sure you’re getting cold,” she said, an underlying comment of condescension to her tone. Cherish was still only wearing a bikini, hurriedly thrown on after she and Brian had sex.

Cherish caught the T-shirt, rolled her eyes and slipped it on. She must have really been cold, Amelia doubted she would have put the shirt on just to appease her. Grabbing another shirt for Brian, Amelia and Cherish left the room. They went to the second room and found a baby crib in it, also stripped of its bedding. There were curtains thrown on the floor under window, still attached to the curtain rod. As if the people had just thrown it to the side in order to board up the windows.

“We can use these for blankets.” Amelia went to the curtains and removed them from the rods. She draped them over her arm along with the shirt.

The bathroom was next. It was an average bathroom. They checked the one cupboard over the toilet and found a stack of towels.

“We can use these for blankets, too.” Amelia handed the curtains and shirt to Cherish and she took the stack of towels for herself. In the cupboards under the sink, they found rubbing alcohol and a roll of toilet paper.

“Well, I think this is all we’re going to find. We better go back downstairs and stay there for a while until we figure out what we can do to get out of here.”

“No complaints here,” Cherish said. “I don’t like it up here much.”

“I don’t like it in this house at all.”

As they neared the staircase, there was suddenly a loud, shrill scream that came from downstairs. It was Brian….


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

09

 

 

 

 

 

 

When they made it downstairs and reached the couch, they saw Brian squirming. He was still screaming. The sounds he was making made Amelia’s blood cringe. He was in pain. Terrible pain. What she and Cherish saw made them both stop in their tracks.

Dozens of pea-size abscesses were moving beneath Brian’s skin. The bumps travelled and wiggled across his chest, over his arms, and through his knees. One crawled up his neck and went just below his eye before disappearing behind it. His body was twisting in ways that seemed impossible and his eyes were bloodshot.

The girls were frightened and frozen with fear. What could they do? How could they help him? Amelia didn’t know and it didn’t seem like Cherish had a clue either. The blonde girl was quivering beside Amelia, screaming in fear as she watched Brian’s tortured body.

Amelia searched around the room, hoping to find something that might be helpful. She didn’t know what she was looking for; she just hoped something would stick out and give her an idea. Cherish finally broke free of the fear induced paralysis, dropped the blankets she had been carrying, and was now running to Brian. She collapsed beside him, her hands hovering over his body as if she were afraid to touch him, but wanted to help.

Squirming and screaming. Squirming and screaming. His pain wouldn’t stop. Cherish was sobbing, staring down at him.

Suddenly, the abscesses stopped moving. They began to swell, growing to twice their original size. Then they burst. Spewing from Brian’s body came blood and a dark substance that shot from his new wounds like a dark cloud being pulled to the ceiling.

Brian’s screams grew louder.

Cherish fell backwards, alarmed. She screamed along with him.

Amelia watched. Stunned. Too shocked; too afraid to move.

With the black clouds came an alarming screeching sound. Blood and darkness spurted from holes in Brian’s flesh where the abscesses had been. This lasted for a painful thirty seconds before the dark clouds vanished, leaving only oozing blood behind.

Brian fell unconscious.

Amelia and Cherish looked at one another, terror in their eyes. Cherish was still on the floor. Amelia looked back at Brian. She was still across the room, near the stairs. Was he dead? He was bleeding from the holes that covered his body. She had to help him.

Slowly, she made her way to him, unsure of what she would see when she got there. Cherish followed Amelia’s lead and cautiously pulled herself to her feet.

Brian was breathing. Shallowly. He lay there unconscious, but grimaced in his sleep. His flesh looked terrible.

“Come on,” Amelia said to Cherish with a shaky voice, “we have to patch him up.”

Nodding, Cherish seemed to gain her composure. She swallowed hard, nervous, and stood beside Amelia, looking down at Brian’s battered body.

“More super glue?” she asked.

Amelia thought for a moment. “I don’t know, I think the holes are too wide; I’m not sure it would do much good.”

At least the holes weren’t very deep.

They used the gauze after dousing each wound with the whiskey. By the time they were finished, Brian had several white patches all over his body.

“We have to get out of here,” Amelia was saying as she dressed his wounds.

Cherish was nodding, but seemed discouraged. Her face showed doubt. Then she spoke it.

“How? The house won’t let us leave.”

Amelia shook her head. “I don’t know yet.” She was exhausted. She realized then that she hadn’t slept all night. Her body was tired and she could feel her mind starting to shut down. She needed rest.

“We’ll figure something out after we rest for a bit.”

Cherish’s eyes widened. “You want to sleep here?”

“We don’t have a choice. I can’t think right now.”

“What if we all get attacked like Brian did?” Cherish lowered her voice to a whisper, eyes darting around the room as she leaned in closer to Amelia. “What if it or they come back? There’s evil in this house.”

Amelia turned, picked up the pile of blankets and towels she had placed on the floor before helping Brian, and began laying them on the floor next to the couch to make a spot for her to lie down.

“I’m not sleeping,” Cherish said.

“Then don’t sleep.” Amelia pulled a blanket up to her shoulders and closed her eyes.

Though she wouldn’t come right out and ask her, she hoped Cherish was serious about not sleeping. She was afraid of what might happen if they all went to sleep. Hell, she was afraid of what would happen with them awake, but somehow felt things would be worse if no one stayed awake.

Cherish had every right to be afraid. The thing (or things) would be back eventually. Something in that house didn’t want them to leave, and that something was overjoyed at having warm, living flesh and blood in its house.

*                 *                  *

 

Cherish was not shutting her eyes and leaving herself vulnerable. She would not lie on the floor and act as though she were at a sleepover. She would not go to sleep. She was going to find something, some way to help them escape the house.

Amelia wasn’t paying attention to her and the girl already looked as though she were asleep. She was lying on the floor next to Brian’s couch. Next to her wounded lover. For a brief moment, Cherish felt guilty for sleeping with him. She may have helped in ruining a seemingly nice girl’s life and splitting up a happy couple. But then, if he was so easily seduced, it was best that Amelia found that out now.

After grabbing one of the candles, Cherish began the climb up the stairs. A part of her screamed to turn back—“don’t go alone!”—but the other part of her wanted to brave the darkness and seclusion to find something to help them. Maybe the windows upstairs wouldn’t be blocked by dirt on the outside and they could climb out of one. One story wouldn’t be too far to climb or even drop from if they had to. A broken leg would be worth an escape from preternatural death.

She knew her friends would come looking for her eventually, especially when the truck wasn’t returned to Joel. But how would they know where to look? They had abandoned the truck with its flat tires. If they got lucky, Joel and the others would search the vicinity around the truck, but those were some low odds.

She had to find a way herself. And she wasn’t going to wait for Amelia to have a cat nap first. Who knew what could happen in that time?

When she got to the landing at the top of the stairs, she stopped and cautiously searched the area. She didn’t see anything, but she felt it. Something was watching her.

Taking a deep breath and forcing fear as deep as it would go, she pushed herself to go into the master bedroom. As in the infant’s room, the windows were boarded up in here. Cherish set the candle on the writing desk that was next to the window. She tried pulling on the board as she and Amelia had done downstairs. Her fingers were still sore from the first time, but she ignored the pain and  pull on the board as hard as she could.

It wouldn’t budge.

She picked up the candle and examined the board. There were two large nails on all four sides. She needed something to pry them from the wall. Maybe there were some tools in the kitchen that she and Amelia had overlooked.

As she turned to leave the bedroom, she saw something sitting on the brass-frame bed. It made her stop suddenly because she knew there hadn’t been anything there before.

It was a book. Or rather, a small notebook – possibly a journal. It had pink and white flowers on the cover and looked to be several years old as the cover was cracked and bent in places.

Curiosity overwhelming her, Cherish picked up the notebook and sat on the bare mattress. Holding the candle close to the pages, she began reading:

 

My name is Hailey. The date is July 12th of the year 2000. I was on vacation with three of my friends: my girlfriend Rebecca, her sister Marissa, and Marissa’s boyfriend Bradley. We had car trouble here in Conway, stopped at the nearest house for help. It’s been 5 days and we haven’t left that house.

When we knocked on the door, a man answered. He looked like a redneck, but seemed kind; he fooled us with kind eyes.

“Don’t you kids have cell phones?” he said when we asked to use his phone. “I thought everyone had cell phones these days.”

“Our batteries are dead, Sir,” Marissa had told him.

He nodded and beckoned us inside. “Alright then, come on in.”

He gave us a phone book and Bradley began thumbing through it. While he searched, the man spoke to us.

“What are you doing out here?”

“We’re meeting Bradley’s father a few hours from here,” Marissa said. “He’s taking us hunting.”

“Huntin’?” The man said as though he were confused. “What are you hunting?”

“Deer,” Rebecca said.

The man nodded, then laughed. He didn’t look the type with his overalls and John Deer hat, his thick accent, and the guns he had hanging on the walls, but he proceeded to explain to us that he was a member of PETA and an animal rights activist. He was a vegetarian and didn’t like the idea of hunting animals for food or entertainment.

There was an uncomfortable silence and it became awkward. He then laughed.

“But that’s just my opinion – to each his own.” He left the room, going into the kitchen and saying over his shoulder, “Does anyone want something to drink? I have tea, lemonade, Cola, and of course water.”

We didn’t think we were in danger – as I said: he seemed kind – so we all asked for a drink. He brought us glasses of what we had asked for on a tray and set it on the table. Bradley was writing down a phone number.

“Thanks man,” he said, picking up a glass of sweet tea. He took a long sip before heading to the phone with the number on his piece of paper. The man nodded and then gave each of us our drinks. It had been hot out and we were all thirsty. I think Rebecca drank all of hers within a minute. She was the first to fall.

I went to her side, panicking. I remember the room getting blurry, I heard Bradley talking on the phone – “Hello, is this …” –  then he collapsed in mid-sentence. I looked at Marissa as my eyes clouded over. She was stumbling, falling towards the couch.

The last thing I saw before I fell unconscious was the man. He was calm and had a kind grin on his face.

When I came to, we were in a basement. Our hands were tied together and there were collars around our necks – we were being treated like animals.

There was a horrible smell. It reeked of rotted flesh and stale blood. My friends were next to me. Most of them were awake already. Rebecca was the last to open her eyes and she panicked when she realized she was restrained.

“It’s okay, baby,” I had assured her. “We’ll get out of this.”

“I don’t think we will,” came Bradley’s voice.

I looked to my left and saw him. He was pointing up with his bound hands. We all looked up, too. Rebecca started crying. I gasped. Marissa screamed, then covered her mouth as if afraid her scream would bring the man to us.

Mounted on the ceiling and the walls were the heads of the man’s prey. He was a hunter, too – the same as us, but with one difference. His prey was not deer. It was not ducks nor doves, or any other animal.

His prey was humans.

The severed heads of humans had been mounted on displays like buck heads. In some cases, a full torso, and one that was most disturbing in my eyes: a full body. As a statue in the far left corner from where we sat was a human being stuffed like a prized animal. It was an older male, dressed as a hunter in camo pants and an orange vest. He had a neatly trimmed, salt and pepper beard.

“My father was a taxidermist,” the man said, coming down the stairs. He had heard Marissa’s scream and knew we were awake. “He taught me how to do it.”

Marissa and Rebecca were crying. Bradley and I tried to keep our composure, but I knew he was afraid as I was.

The man kneeled in front of us and smiled. “You don’t like my display?”

“You’re a sick fuck,” Bradley said.

“What? I am?” the man said in an ironic tone. He looked around his basement with confusion. “What makes you think that, young man?”

“You’re a murderer! You display the heads of human beings like they’re fish and you want to know what makes me think you’re a sick fuck?” Bradley said.

“Yeah, what’s wrong with it?” the man said. “How is what I do any different than what you people do? At least you humans have the smarts to know how to fight back. All the deer can do is run. You torment an innocent creature, chase it down until its heart is beating so fast it probably feels like it’s going to implode, then you shoot it, killin’ it dead for no reason other than your entertainment and next meal. Meanwhile, it was part of a family – had babies that are now orphans. You end lives every time you shoot a deer, yet it means nothing to you because it’s just an animal. Well, animals feel pain, buddy and they do have a purpose. You don’t have to be human to have rights. They have a right to live, too. What YOU people do sickens me.”

No one said anything. I guess because we all knew there would be no talking any sense into this man. We just needed to find a way out.

“Here,” the man threw this notebook at my feet, followed by a pen. “Write down your story.”

I didn’t understand, but I refused to do so at first. I left the notebook on the floor.

He came down to feed us twice a day. Each time he would ask me if I had written anything. I never answered him.

On the fourth day, he brought me a small stack of more notebooks. Out of curiosity, I read them. They were the journals of the people he had killed. I don’t know why he keeps these journals and I never asked. I didn’t care.

By the fifth day – today – I decided to write our story. I know we’re not getting out of this alive and I hope someone finds this journal so they know what happened.

 

Day Six: He came down here five minutes ago and told us to “get ready.” He’s going to drop off us in the woods and “give us a chance” to escape while he hunts us. He wants us to run like deer. I’m scared. I don’t want to die. I don’t want Rebecca to die – I’ll do my best to protect her as I know Bradley will protect Marissa the best way that he can. Please God, let there be others in the woods, let them find us. Let us make it out alive.

 

1:30 am July 19th, 2010

They didn’t make it.

 

Cherish closed the notebook, a shiver running down her spine. There was a sudden rush of cold wind through the room and she yelled in alarm, dropping the notebook back on the bed. She clutched the candle, too scared to move.

Flashes of Brian’s torment came to her mind. She didn’t want the same thing to happen to her.

“Please, please go away,” she whispered. “Let us leave.”

Not safe … basement, a voice growled on the wind.

Cherish sprang from the bed. She grabbed for the journal to take it downstairs. Her hand found nothing. She looked at the bed. The journal was gone.

She ran down the stairs.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10

 

 

 

 

 

 

Amelia had only been asleep for a few minutes when she heard Brian moaning and stirring. Fearing he would move too much and rip open his wounds, she jumped up and knelt by his side.

“Lie still,” she said. God, all she wanted to do was sleep. Her eyes burned terribly and her head was swimming.

“Am-Amelia,” he was mumbling.

“I’m right here.”

“S … I’m … sorry.”

Amelia felt a lump form in her throat. The pain she originally encountered when she saw Brian and Cherish together came back to her.

She shook her head. “Now’s not the time, Brian.”

“It … may be the only time we have,” he muttered.

“Brian, you’re going to be fine,” Amelia said in a stern tone. “The bullet wounds aren’t that bad and the others aren’t very deep.”

“That’s not what I’m talking about.” He grimaced, trying to sit up. Amelia helped him prop his back against the arm of the sofa. “I mean this house.”

“We’ll get out.”

Brian reached up and touched Amelia’s cheek. She flinched and turned her head. He seemed hurt by her rejection.

“I’m such an idiot,” he sighed.

Amelia nodded her head. “Yes, you are. How could-” She started to ask how he could have done what he did. But, remembering where they were and the situation they were in, she closed her mouth. She sighed. “Nevermind, just get some rest, we have to get out of here first; we can deal with the drama later.”

She didn’t let him respond. Lying back on her blankets, she turned her back to him and pulled the cover over her head. She needed sleep if she was going to think clearly.

 

 

Brian closed his eyes. He wished Amelia would talk to him now. He hated seeing her back turned to him, especially knowing the reason for it was her being upset. He wanted to cradle her in his arms, and just hold her. Thanks to his idiocy, he may never get the chance to do so again.

How could he have been so stupid? How could he have been so weak? He had fucked up. He probably lost the only girl he had really loved, the girl he had planned on proposing to after this vacation was over. The girl that was the one. His. She was the only one he had ever seen himself spending the rest of his life with. And now, who knew what was going to happen? He didn’t think even Amelia knew at this point. He wouldn’t blame her if she never wanted to see him again after – if – they got out.

And all for what? One quick fuck in a public bathroom with a girl he barely knew that meant nothing to him?

A part of him wanted to blame the girl … what was her name? Cherish? She knew he had a girlfriend, yet she did that seductive dance and followed him into the bathroom.

No. He couldn’t blame her. He was responsible for his own actions, and had no one to blame but himself.

His actions would cost him his life; he wasn’t being dramatic in thinking that – Amelia was his life and he couldn’t imagine going on without her. How could he have let his dick do the thinking? He was scum and he knew it. He didn’t deserve forgiveness.

But God, he hoped he received it.

Amelia, please forgive me. I love you more than anything.

 

 

Cherish ran down the stairs and she saw Brian sitting up on the couch. Should she tell him about the journal? Would he even believe her now that she couldn’t produce it?

She inched near him – he didn’t seem to have seen her. His eyes were closed. Cherish looked at Amelia. She was sleeping, too.

Grabbing a blanket, Cherish sat on the floor, leaning her back against the couch at Brian’s feet. She wrapped the blanket around herself and brought her knees up to her chest. She wouldn’t sleep. She refused. She only sat there, alert and waiting for Amelia to wake up.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

11

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thump! Bump! Rap!

The noises made Amelia jump awake. Brian was alert as well, and Cherish, sitting near Amelia with her back against the couch, looked terrified with wide eyes.

The house seemed to be going crazy. Doors were flying open and shut, there was an unseen source of cold wind in the living room, and most of the candles had been blown out.

Thump! Thump! Thump!

It sounded like something large was taking a club and beating the walls with it.

Amelia flew to her feet, unsure of what to do. Cherish was there with her and Brian was trying to sit up all the way on the couch.

Cherish turned to Amelia. “I think we can get out of the bedroom window upstairs. It’s risky; we could get hurt, but I think it’s better than sitting here waiting to die. The only problem is, it’s nailed shut like that board we pulled off earlier. We need something to ply the nails out.”

Amelia thought quickly, trying to drown out the sounds of the beating and the pounding.

“Okay, there were utensils and pliers in the kitchen.”

“Let’s go,” Cherish found new bravery and led the way to the kitchen. Amelia assumed she had had enough and adrenaline was guiding her.

They threw open the drawers and searched through the utensils. Amelia found a butter knife. They could use it to pry under the head of the nails to loosen them enough to use the pliers to pull the rest of the way out. Or so she hoped.

She and Cherish started for the stairs.

“Oh my God,” Amelia breathed as she looked towards the sofa where Brian lay.

Creeping toward him from an open door on the left side of the room were several crawling corpses. Most of them were headless. Some were only half men, cut off at the waist. Those used their feet to scrape across the floor, dragging what was left of their legs and bottom. What was left of those corpses was rotting flesh. Chunks of flesh and drops of blood fell to the floor as they crawled.

The smell was overwhelming; the stench of death and rotten eggs – sulfur.

There were several of them, close to a dozen. Headless and half-man corpses, clawing at the floor and crawling, wiggling their way towards Brian. He hadn’t seen them yet; he was watching for the girls.

“In the basement … ” Cherish muttered. “They’re coming from a basement. A bunch of people were murdered by some psycho here ten years ago.”

Amelia wasn’t going to ask her how she knew or ask her to divulge details. She needed to get to Brian. They would get out of here. Then she would ask questions.

“We have to get him and bring him upstairs with us.”

“Are you crazy?” Cherish hissed.

“Come on! I can’t carry him by myself! Hurry! They’re almost to him.” Amelia was already running to Brian’s side. Cherish hesitated for only half a second before running after her.

They quickly dragged Brian off the couch and helped him stand, one girl on each side of him.

“Holy shit!”

He saw the creeping corpses. Despite the obvious pain he was in, Brian did his best to run with the two girls to the stairs. They hobbled, the three of them, up each step. Cherish risked a glance over her shoulder.

The tortured and angry corpses were moving faster, afraid they would lose their escaping prey. Their movements seemed to have been sped up and they clawed the floor with terrifying, jerking movements.

When they made it to the master bedroom, the girls dropped Brian on the bed and then rushed to the boarded window. Amelia immediately shoved the butter knife underneath the head of the first nail. She angled it and pried the nail up. It budged just enough for the pliers to grip. Amelia moved on to the second nail. Cherish closed the pliers around the loosened nail and pulled.

They moved quickly and luck – or God – seemed to be on their side in aiding their escape because each nail complied. Cherish only had trouble with the nails at the top simply because she wasn’t tall enough to properly ground herself and pull.

“Move!” Amelia screamed.

Cherish stepped to the side as Amelia shoved the bed (with Brian still on it) against the wall. Without hesitating, Cherish jumped on the bed and went back to work.

Amelia ran to the doorway of the bedroom and looked down the stairs. Big mistake. The corpses weren’t held back by a staircase. They were making their way up, two corpses at a time. There was one that did have a head. He was leading the way, and dressed in camo pants and an orange vest. He had a graying beard.

“Amelia!” Cherish yelled. She was on the last nail and the board was about to fall.

Amelia ran, jumped on the bed and grabbed hold of the board so it didn’t fall and hit Brian. She threw the board to the side. It landed with a loud clump on the floor.

“Son of a bitch!” Cherish screamed.

There was dirt against this window, too.

“Fuck this,” Amelia said. She jumped off the bed, grabbed the chair that sat with the writing desk and jumped back on the bed. Cherish ducked and Brian covered his eyes as Amelia hit the glass with the back of the chair.

The glass window shattered, sending pieces of glass falling to the bed and penetrating the dirt on the other side.

Not caring that there were pieces of glass in the dirt, Amelia began digging. She pulled clumps of dirt out, throwing it down on the bed and the floor. Cherish followed her lead and the two girls dug and clawed through the wall of dirt. Their fingers and arms were nicked by pieces of glass, but the girls ignore them and kept digging.

The further they tunneled, the colder the dirt got. And the further they went, maggots and worms started appearing. The stench of death and sulfur became stronger, making them gag. They could hear the corpses scraping along the floor. The dead things were almost to the bedroom.

Brian summoned the strength to move by himself. He rolled off the bed and rushed to the door, slamming it shut before the things could reach it. Shutting the door may not keep them out of the room, but perhaps it would slow them down. He took the chair and worked the back of it under the doorknob as extra security.

He would have helped the girls dig, but there wasn’t enough room for all three of them; he would only get in the way. So he waited.

The girls had dug and removed about a foot’s depth of dirt.

“This isn’t working,” Cherish was saying. She was shaking her head.

“Just give it a little more time,” Amelia said, out of breath and still gagging from the rotten smell. She tried not to look at the maggots and worms that were covering her hands and starting to crawl up her arms.

Cherish yelled at the sight of the worms making their way up her arms. She gagged again, then stopped digging and leaned over to vomit.

“Move,” Brian said to her. She rolled to the side and he took her place.

Grimacing and groaning with each move he made, Brian ignored the pain he felt and helped Amelia to dig. He used both his large hands to pull out heaping mounds of dirt.

Scraping sounds came at the door.

The corpses wanted in.

BUMP! BUMP! BUMP!

The noises got louder.

Brian braced himself on one side of the window and raised his leg, kicking the dirt as far as his leg would go. The moist dirt clung to his leg. He could feel the creepy crawling things on his flesh. Still he pushed harder, forcing his foot through.

Finally, his foot stopped resisting and he felt warm air.

Brian pulled his leg back out. There was a hole where his leg had been, and daylight was shining through. The sun was setting.

“Hurry before it closes back up!” Brian yelled.

He and Amelia dug furiously and then pushed the dirt out of the hole until the hole grew large enough for them to crawl through.

“Come on,” Amelia held her hand out to Cherish. Not hesitating, Cherish grabbed it and Amelia and Brian helped her through the hole.

It was a ten foot drop, but Cherish didn’t care. She lowered herself as far as she could, feeling the dirt wall crumble beneath her fingers, and then let herself fall. She curled up into a ball and landed on her side in the backyard. The fall knocked the breath of her, and she would probably have some bruises, but otherwise was fine.

Brian then helped Amelia to do the same thing. She rolled next to Cherish, gasping for air as it was knocked from her lungs. Brian immediately followed.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

12

 

 

 

 

 

 

When Brian landed, he looked up. The three of them saw a normal looking house. The dirt wall was gone and it didn’t seem that it was ever there – there were no smudge marks or remnants of dirt. But they knew they hadn’t imagined it.

Amelia looked down at her arms. The worms were gone, but there were particles of dirt on her skin. Cherish and Brian still had dirt on them, too.

“What are we going to do now?” Cherish asked.

“Get the fuck out of here,” Brian said.

“How? The truck is down the road with two flat tires.”

“We’ll have to do some walking till we can find someone to fix it.”

“What if Noah comes around?” Cherish asked.

“Who?” Brian asked.

“Noah, the guy who shot you.”

Brian waved off the notion as if it were silly to think about. “After what we just dealt with, he won’t be anything to be scared of.”

Amelia stepped forward, heading for the front yard. “We need to get you to a hospital first,” she said to Brian. “We’ll worry about the truck and how we’re going to get back later.”

“I think I’ll be fine for a bit longer. I don’t want to stay in this fucked up town any longer than I have to.” Brian followed Amelia. Cherish was close behind. “We’ll get back and I’m going to report that asshole that shot me, then we’ll go to the hospital and all get checked out.”

Cautiously, they returned to the truck, keeping an eye out for Noah. He never appeared. Brian drove the truck slowly to the nearest place that sold tires. They got there just in time – it was about to close for the evening.

Being the only one to still have her check card with her, Amelia paid for the tires. Once the truck was fixed, the three began the silent and awkward drive back.

 

 

Instead of going back to the beach, they headed in to town. Brian realized going back to the beach would probably cause a commotion. Him showing up bruised, bandaged, and bloody. They would be the center of attention and none of them wanted that. He would drive into town, call the police, then call Parker on his cell phone to let him know what had happened. He would have the police call for him to be taken to the hospital after he and the other girls gave their reports.

While they drove, Amelia pondered. She was in the passenger seat and looking out the window, watching as the water passed her by. Now that everything was calm, and over, she could think clearly on what to do from here.

Brian had broken her trust. He had broken her heart. She loved him, trusted him, and he cheated on her. Her entire world seemed to break that moment she saw him with the woman she now knew as Cherish. This was why she had kept a wall up in the first place. Brian knew that. He broke through that wall, made her trust him, made her fall in love with him. She thought they would be married one day. And now this uncertainty was in her head. What was she going to do?

She could never trust him again. No matter how many times he called himself an idiot and said he had fucked up, no matter times he swore never to do it again, she would never believe him.

But she still loved him.

The thought of leaving him made her insides clamp up and hurt. Maybe he had truly realized his mistake and it would be enough to scare him into doing the right thing from now on: never cheat on her again. Maybe he would remember how he felt now – like an idiot, a fool – and remember how big a mistake it had been the next time a girl tried to get with him.

Maybe, just maybe … she wouldn’t have to leave and she could give him another chance.

They made it to the gas station. While Brian asked to use the phone, Cherish sauntered up to Amelia, who was standing off by herself.

“Hey,” Cherish said.

“Hey.” Amelia didn’t feel like talking to her. Now that they didn’t need to rely on each other’s help and work together, she didn’t care to even look at the woman.

“Look, uh,” Cherish began slowly, unsure. “I know it won’t change anything, and I know you probably wish I would fall off the face of the planet right now, but I just wanted to say I’m sorry. I knew he had a girlfriend and I pursued him anyway.”

Amelia scoffed, feeling tears come to her eyes. But she wouldn’t cry.

“Why?” she said through her teeth. “Why would you do that?”

Cherish shrugged. “I dunno, because I’m a first class bitch? I hate that I did it – I wish I could take it back. I think because I was cheated on a long time ago, I go after guys who have girls because I want to see how loyal they’ll be. If they cheat with me, they’ll cheat on me, you know? But if there’s ever that one guy who rejects me, I’ll wait patiently for him. If things don’t work out with the woman he’s with, then I’ll make another move. If things do work out, then hey, good for him.

“I just want to find that right guy, too, ya know? I just haven’t been so lucky yet.”

Amelia was shaking her head.

“I know it doesn’t make sense to you. I know I’m the evil bitch home wrecker in your eyes, and it’s true to an extent. But you have to ask yourself a question: if he wouldn’t have cheated with me then, who would he have cheated with later? Would you guys have been married? Would you have had children?”

Amelia laughed an ironic laugh. “You want me to thank you for seducing and fucking my boyfriend now instead of waiting till later?”

“No, I’m just saying, aren’t you glad you found out now what kind of man he’s like? That he’s capable of cheating and probably would have done it anyway eventually? Aren’t you glad you know now? That you aren’t married and don’t have children and haven’t wasted your life on someone who would break your heart and trust later?”

In a weird way, it made sense, Amelia had to admit that to herself. Brian was obviously capable of cheating on her and probably would have done it later on down the road.

But she wasn’t going to admit it to Cherish. She wasn’t going to agree with her. And she certainly wasn’t going to thank her. Amelia decided to change the subject.

“Look, uh thanks for not entirely losing your head back there. Thanks for helping me and not turning and running the other way before we even got to that house.”

Cherish shrugged, seemingly disappointed the subject had changed. “It was nothing. I uh, found a diary when I went upstairs by myself. I don’t know if you’d care, or if it even matters since it’s all over with, but it had some pretty messed up shit in it.”

“Did you happen to grab it?”

“No. I tried to bring it down with me to show you, but when I went to pick it back up, it had disappeared.”

“Oh well.” Amelia shrugged. “I don’t think it matters now. And to be honest, I don’t want to know what was in it – I’m going to have enough nightmares as it is.”

Cherish smiled. “Well, thanks for helping me making it through that house. I don’t think I would have survived alone.”

Amelia nodded in response. “You know, maybe under different circumstances, we would have been friends after all that.” She paused, eyeing the woman, then turned and walked away. “Take care.”

Amelia waited by herself for the police to arrive. Brian had come over and tried to talk to her, but she wouldn’t respond to him. Understanding she wanted to be alone, he went to stand off near the front door. Cherish wandered the store.

The police arrived and they all gave their statements of what had happened with Noah. They left out the part of the house being haunted and said they only took shelter there until they thought they were safe. They doubted anyone would believe a haunted house story and that might take away their credibility of what happened with Noah – the cops might not take them seriously if they thought they were making up stories of a haunted house.

The police called for an ambulance to take Brian to the local hospital. The police asked Cherish and Amelia if they felt they needed a doctor for any reason and both girls said no.

While they waited for the ambulance, Amelia stopped by to talk to Brian.

“I’m gonna head back,” she said in a quiet tone.

“You’re going to go hang out with Parker?” he asked in a hopeful voice.

Amelia shook her head, fighting back tears. She didn’t want him to see her cry.

“I’m going to stop by and grab my stuff, then I’ll take a bus home.”

“Amelia … please … don’t do this to me now.”

“You did this to yourself, Brian. Did you really think I could stay with you after knowing you’ve been with someone else? You had sex with another woman. We could never make love again because I would always feel tainted because you were in her, when you should have only been in me. I would see that image of you two together every time we had sex. I can never trust you again, and that’s no way to be with someone. I just hope you’ve learned, and remember what this feels like, for the next girl who trusts you.”

She didn’t give him a chance to say anything else. To beg or plead or make false promises.

She left the store, and headed to a pay phone. She would call for a cab to take her to the hotel so she could get her stuff, and then she would be on the next bus ride home.

 

 

[The End]

 

 

==========

Cold (tentative title)

 

COLD (PG-13)

(tentative title)

 

He hated snow. He hated rain. And he wanted a tan.

Ashton Carter is looking for a new life. After many disappointments in his home-town, he decides moving 1500 miles away might help give his life a fresh start. Not long after arriving in his new town, the warnings begin....

 

Copyright (c) December 2011 Sara Hogan. No part of this story may be copied or reproduced, used or stored in any way without prior consent of the author.

 

 

 

Chapter One

 

He sat at one of the outdoor tables at Portside Inn Food and Spirits, picking from his appetizer while he waited for his main course to arrive. The red umbrella at his table sheltered him from the sun – a seemingly rare occurrence in Marquette Michigan. He was waiting for his ride to the airport to arrive, and the lack of sunshine was one reason he was getting the hell out of here. It almost seemed like the sun had come out just for him, as if begging “please stay!”.

Well Ashton Carter wouldn’t fall for it. He was moving to a sunnier state and that was final. He had lived here all his life and was sick of the weather. He was a person who wanted to go outside without a rain slicker; to feel the warmth of the sunshine on his face more often than he got here. He hated snow. He hated rain. And he wanted a tan.

He supposed it didn’t rain as much as it could in Marquette. At least he didn’t live in Washington where Seattle was known for rainfall. But it was more often than not cloudy in his hometown. He needed a change.

It wasn’t just the weather, of course – that was just what he told everyone. There were other reasons Ash wanted to leave Michigan and the biggest reason was because of a … (wait for it) girl. Yes, the age-old reason for one wanting a life change: love – or rather, failed love. In Ash’s case, it was a one-sided love, leaving him with a broken heart. He and Mariella had dated for over a year and unbeknownst to him Mariella decided she would rather become the town bicycle than commit herself to Ash. Two weeks after he proposed marriage (which she said yes to), he came home early to find her in bed with Thomas Harper, the cable guy. Thomas was just one of many of Mariella’s conquests. While with Ash, she had also been with Henry Ballenger, the hardware store manager, James Newton, the bar tender, Ethan Holquist, the factory worker, and even one of Ash’s best friends (well, former best friend now), Shawn Marquis. There were more, but Ash didn’t know their names – nor did he care to know.

It had been two months since he had kicked Mariella out of his home. It had taken him six weeks to organize his move after deciding he needed to get out of here. Mariella hadn’t been his only heartbreak or disappointment in Marquette, so naturally, Ash had decided he needed a complete life makeover, starting with moving to a warmer and sunnier climate. He already had a new job to start in Solhaven New Mexico, and a few appointments to look at apartments in the small town.

Solhaven was a suburb of Albuquerque with only 1,200 residents. If not for a friend of Ash’s visiting a few times and telling him all about it (“the sun shines all the time there!”), he wouldn’t know Solhaven existed. That friend was going with him and helping him get settled in. Unfortunately Christopher couldn’t drop everything and move with him because he had a good job and a family – a wife and two children – in Marquette.

Just then, Ash’s waiter came out to his table, placing his meal – the Dinghy Dip – in front of him.

“Would you like another Midnight Snow Storm?” the waiter asked politely, eyeing Ash’s almost gone alcoholic drink.

“No thanks, I’ll just drink my water,” Ash smiled.

“Enjoy your meal.” The waiter left.

Ash pushed what was left of his Nachos Grande to the side and took a bite of his sandwich. The sun disappeared and he looked up at the sky. A giant gray cloud had moved in over the sun’s rays. It looked like rain was gathering. Seagulls were chatting noisily around him. The smell of Lake Superior was thick on the air.

His sandwich was halfway devoured when he saw a brand new, silver Honda Odyssey pull into the parking lot at Portside Inn. The driver was Ash’s friend, Christopher Peterson. He had traded in his Mustang convertible upon his second daughter’s birth. Christopher was a business man and always wore nice clothes. Today he wore a pair of neatly pressed tan slacks and a light blue polo. His grandfather’s watch rested on his left wrist.

“Hey Ash,” Christopher said as he sat next to him. “What are you drinking?” Not waiting for an answer, Christopher grabbed the remaining bit of Ash’s Midnight Snow Storm and downed it. Ashton laughed. He hadn’t planned on drinking the rest anyway.

“How’s Grace and the kids doing?”

“Well,” Christopher said, sounding like he had news to tell. “Becca started ballet classes, Lina is finally potty-trained, ya know,” Christopher crossed his fingers and snorted a short laugh, “we hope, and … Grace is pregnant again.”

Ash wiped his mouth with a napkin and laughed. “Jesus, Chris, don’t you guys have anything better to do?”

“What’s better than sex?” Chris joked.

“You better get a hobby or you’ll be trading the van for a bus here soon,” Ash laughed, pointing at the Odyssey. Chris laughed, too.

“I know it. Well hey, maybe I’ll get a boy this time. Ya know, teach him to throw the ball.” He mimicked throwing a football. “I’ve tried to show Becca how to play, but she just wants me to paint her toenails.”

“Maybe Lina will be more interested. Does she still like playing with her trucks?”

“Yeah, she loves the monster truck you got her for her birthday. Of course, Daisy doesn’t like the truck all that much. Lina likes to chase her with it.”

Daisy was the family cat. Ash laughed.

“Yep, Lina’s my little Tomboy. Becca’s becoming a diva, I think. She’s overly dramatic about everything. Don’t get me wrong, she’s adorable when she’s gasping and pretending to faint because I put the wrong peanut butter on her sandwich.”

Ash laughed. “Becca definitely takes after Grace.”

Chris laughed, knowing Ash was just kidding. “That she does. Anyway, how ‘bout you, bud? You all ready to go?”

Ash finished his sandwich, then started picking at the nachos again. He was unusually hungry today. “Yeah, the moving guys will deliver all my stuff in Solhaven in a week, so probably two weeks from now, I’ll have my stuff,” he winked at Chris, who laughed.

“That’s the truth, huh? Those guys are never on time.”

“And I’ve got a couple bags to hold me off till my stuff gets there.” Ash pointed to two large suitcases with wheels standing next to his chair. “I’m good to go.”

“You have a car down there yet?”

“I’ve got a few places I already have appointments for to look when I get into town. I might just get a motorcycle for now.”

Chris nodded. “Cool, cool. Well, you ready to go then?”

“Yeah, let me just flag down the waiter.”

Once Ash had paid for his meal and tipped his waiter, he and Chris loaded his bags into the van and Chris drove them to the airport.

“You’re not gonna leave this monster in the parking garage while you’re gone right?”

“Nah, Grace’s gonna have one of her friends bring her to pick it up.”

“Is she really okay with you being gone so long?”

Grace wasn’t the nagging kind of wife, but even Ash knew trying to take care of two kids on your own was hard, especially if Grace was pregnant again. Grace was always extremely sick during her pregnancies with nausea and vomiting all day. Trying to chase after a two-year-old and an almost-five-year-old would be difficult if she had to keep running to the bathroom.

“Yeah, she’s fine. Her sister is coming in from Wisconsin to stay and help her while I’m gone.”

“Are you guys going to get a second car soon? This has to be a pain in the ass, having to share a vehicle all the time.”

Chris shrugged. “It’s not so bad since I carpool with Dave on work days, but we were talking about it, yeah. Maybe just a small car with good gas mileage for whoever doesn’t have the kids when they’re driving.”

“Good idea.” Ash nodded.

He and Chris talked almost the whole way down. Ash was starting to feel a little down. He would miss seeing his best friend all the time. It would be hard living so far away. But starting a new life was also going to be exciting.

 

 

 

 

Chapter Two

 

The flight was mostly uneventful. Ash always got air sick whenever he flew, so he popped some medicine that helped with motion sickness. He fell asleep soon after and slept almost the entire flight. Christopher had an iron stomach and nerves. He barely blinked when the plane hit turbulence for several seconds. He just continued watching the featured movie – one of the Harry Potter films.

Ash woke up just in time for the landing. Lucky him. He gripped the arm of his seat and clenched his teeth against the feeling of his stomach wanting to leap out of his throat. The plane bumped up and down as it sped along the runway. Chris looked over at him and laughed, mouthing the word “pussy,” so the other passengers didn’t hear him – he never liked using foul language in front of people he didn’t know, and in front of children especially.

Ash was too concerned with keeping his lunch down than to bother responding or even flash Chris a dirty look.

Finally, after a couple of very long minutes, the plane stopped. They were soon leaving the plane and eventually made their way to baggage to claim their things.

Ash had reserved a rental car at the airport. They would have to drive 40 West for about an hour, turn off the interstate and drive for another 15 minutes or so before they reached Solhaven where a hotel room was waiting for them. He had an appointment at an apartment complex the next day to look at one of their available units.

“Ahh, sunshine!” Ash breathed when they walked out of the airport. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky in Albuquerque that day. The sun was near setting, but it was still easy to see that he was going to enjoy living here. The mountains were absolutely beautiful, and Ash had always been fond of the desert look – rocks instead of lawn; cacti instead of trees. Oh, there were trees – the ones with the green bark were particularly pretty – but they were few and far between.

Even with the sun setting, the temperatures were warm enough that Ash didn’t need a jacket. It was late Spring. He would have needed a jacket if he were still in Michigan at sunset.

“Oh, I uh, saw Mariella the other day,” Chris said gently after they got on the interstate. Ash was driving his rental: a red Chevrolet Cruze. It wasn’t very big, but it got good gas mileage. Maybe if he liked it enough, he would buy one.

Ash felt a quick pierce go through his heart. He pretended he didn’t care though.

“Oh yeah? How’s she doing?”

Chris laughed. “She lost her job.”

“Really? What, did she sleep with the owner’s husband?”

“That’s the rumor.”

Ash laughed, rubbing his face with one hand. “I meant it as a joke, but it’s not all that surprising that it’s probably true.”

Chris was still laughing. “She’s living with her mother now.”

Ash nodded. “Good.”

He wasn’t normally the type of person who was entertained by others’ sufferings, but after what she had put him through, he thought it was fair he was allowed to find joy at least once in what Karma had brought back to her.

“She asked about you.”

Ash stopped laughing. He wasn’t sure if he cared to know that part. He knew Mariella was no good for him, but he had really loved her. It was hard to move on after having to so abruptly stop loving her.

“What’d she say?” he asked cautiously.

“She just wanted to know how you were doing and what you were up to. I told her the truth.”

Ash side-glanced his friend. “What’s the truth?”

“That you were moving away … to be with your new girlfriend … who put herself through college by being a Playboy Bunny.”

Ash felt his humor return and began laughing. “I wish that were the truth.”

Chris shrugged, smiling. “You never know. California is only two states away from you now.”

“Yeah,” Ash scoffed. “A Bunny would be interested in me.”

“Hey, you’re a good looking guy. If I were into dicks, I would be all up in that.” Chris jokingly put his arm around Ash’s shoulders and pretended he was going to kiss his cheek.

“Cut it out!” Ash slapped at him, keeping one hand on the steering wheel.

“Those dark eyes, that wavy black hair,” Christopher continued in a dreamy voice, “That stubble. You remind me of a young Hugh Jackman. Yum-me.”

“I’m telling Grace,” Ash said, chuckling.

Chris waved a nonchalant hand. “She probably wouldn’t be surprised.”

“That’s true. You’ve always been sort of queer,” Ash joked.

Chris made a kissy-face at him. “Just to you, baby.”

Ash laughed again. He felt good. He was glad he had decided to move and change his life. He was also glad Christopher was with him, at least for a few weeks. He would be lonely when Chris left for Michigan again, but Ash knew that everything was going to be fine. This was a fresh start, and he was ready for the next chapters of his life to begin.

They arrived in Solhaven almost two hours later and checked into the one hotel the town claimed. The town was small. But from what they could tell in the darkness, it was a quaint little town. It was well kept, and the buildings were all in nice shape. It was the kind of town one might want to raise a family in if they were looking for quiet and a low crime rate.

After unloading the car, the two men decided it was time to relax. They were hungry, so they drove to the nearest restaurant to eat and have a drink.

 

 

 

Chapter Three

 

The next day, Ashton and Christopher were up by 8am. Ash had his appointment to view an apartment at 9. When they went outside, Ash smiled. The sun was brightly shining. The only clouds were those gathering around the mountains and they didn’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon. It was warm, already in the 70s.

They hopped in the car, stopped to get an iced coffee, and then headed to the apartment complex according to the GPS on Ash’s phone.

“What’s this place called again?” Christopher asked.

“Rolling Oaks.”

“Sounds friendly.”

Ash nodded. The pictures on their website looked pretty nice, too. But he knew that, when looking for a place to live, pictures sometimes lied. Same with online dating.

When they got there, they saw the reason for the name of the apartments. The lot didn’t look like it belonged in the desert. It was fenced, with lush green grass inside. Giant oak trees stood out against the desert background. The apartments themselves did look nice, though – at least on the outside.

Ash and Christopher were shown a one bedroom, as per request. The woman showing them around kept glancing at the two of them as if she wanted to ask if they were a couple, but didn’t seem to have the nerve to ask outright.

“How many tenants will be living here?” she finally asked. Clever.

“Just myself. My buddy here is just helping me get settled.” Ash nodded at Chris.

“Oh, that’s nice of you,” she said to Chris, who nodded and smiled in response.

After being given the tour, Ash told the woman he would contact her later in the day if he decided he wanted the apartment. It was nice, but he wanted to see what the other placed looked like that he had an appointment to see in thirty minutes.

They arrived early at the Palo Verde apartments. These had the desert look, complete with Spanish roofs. The buildings were made of beautiful Spanish stone and instead of trying to give the illusion the tenants lived in a place abundant with green grass and trees, the landscaping embraced its desert origin with white rocks, cacti, and those little trees with green bark, which Ash learned later were what the apartments were named after – they were called Palo Verde trees.

The apartments were beautiful with vaulted ceilings and slanted doorways. They had plenty of windows, and a sliding glass door that opened to Ash’s own balcony. From the balcony was a beautiful view of the mountains. It was barely in Ash’s price range, but still so. He asked immediately if he could sign the lease.

As Ash was reading over the paperwork and signing where he needed to, movement from the corner of his eye caught his attention. Standing next to him was a little boy with red hair, probably no more than five years old. He had a curious look on his face and was watching as Ash read the paperwork. He looked up and around for Chris, hoping his friend would distract the boy, but he didn’t see him anywhere. Not that he minded the kid hanging around, but he always felt uncomfortable when people – yes, even children – watched him while he was reading, especially if they were trying to read what he was reading at the same time. He looked around for his future landlord next – the kid was probably his. The landlord was busy with a copying machine across the room, printing up more paperwork for him.

Maybe he could convince the kid to move along.

“Hey,” he said to the boy. He had bright blue eyes.

“Hi,” the boy spoke in a soft voice. Ash then noticed there were a few crumbs around the boy’s lips that looked to be from Oreo cookies.

“Are you looking for someone?” Ash asked.

The boy shook his head.

“Where are your parents?”

The boy pointed at the landlord. “That’s my daddy.”

“I bet he’d like your help with that machine over there,” Ash said, smiling.

“Maybe. I bet it needs paper again, and since I’m small, I can put it in easier.”

“That’s a good idea,” Ash replied, winking.

“Are you new here?” the boy asked.

“I am. I’m going to live in these apartments.”

The boy nodded. “Be careful of the spiders. They like to come out at night.”

Before Ash could reply, the boy was off to help his father with the copying machine. He didn’t take what the boy had said to mean anything significant. He thought it common knowledge that spiders preferred the night – though they weren’t limited to it. Plus, living in a desert, there were bound to be big hairy ones here.

Chris finally came back as Ash was signing the last piece of paperwork.

“Hey man, where have you been?” Ash asked.

“I was checking out your workout facility. It’s pretty nice.”

“Cool,” Ash finished signing his last name, “Carter,” swirling the end of the “r” up in a curl.

“Here are your keys,” Mr. Sumner, the landlord, said. “It’s all ready to go for you, they finished everything this morning. We had a feeling you’d want it,” he winked and chuckled.

“Great, that’s sooner than I expected,” Ash said. He held out his hand for Mr. Sumner to shake. “Thanks very much.”

“Welcome aboard. There are maintenance numbers on the back of my card that I gave you a minute ago, as well as an emergency number.”

“I appreciate it.”

As they were leaving to go get the suitcases and check out from the hotel, Ash saw the little boy again and gave him a friendly wave. The boy smiled and waved back.

 

 

 

 

Chapter Four

 

Ash and Chris checked out of the motel room and before going back to the apartments, stopped at a department store. They would need a few things – sleeping bags and pillows – since the movers wouldn’t be in town for a few more days. They bought the bags, pillows, and a few other things.

Soon after, they were settling into the apartment as best they could without real furniture.

“So,” Chris began. He was setting up his laptop so they could stream movies and TV shows online. “Do you think you’re gonna like it here?”

Ash looked around his new place. The living room was large and open, and of course the vaulted ceiling was one of his favorite attributes. On either side of the sliding glass door that opened to the balcony, there were giant slanted windows that went from floor to ceiling, making sure plenty of sunlight could stream in and brighten up the already bright room. The carpet was off-white, and the walls were painted beige. Everything was clean and looked brand new. The kitchen sat to the right of the living room – there wasn’t a wall separating them; it was all open. The countertops were white and black marble swirled together. The cupboards were white. The floor was stone tile that had gray, black, and white rocks all mixed together and polished to a smooth finish. There was fresh wallpaper in the kitchen made to look like gray brick. The sink had one of those swan faucets that detached as a sprayer. The dishwasher and appliances were all brand new and stainless steel.

Down the hall to the left of the kitchen was the bedroom and bathroom. The bedroom’s ceiling was also vaulted and had a remote controlled ceiling fan and carpet the same color as the living room.

The bathroom looked like a typical bathroom, with a long counter that had plenty of room for grooming supplies. The whole place looked brand new and Ash wondered if his place had just been remodeled or if the entire apartment complex was brand new.

Ash nodded in response to Chris’ question. “Yeah, I think I will.”

***

They spent most of the day just watching movies online (Chris had hacked into the lobby’s Wi-Fi), and ordered pizza at dinnertime. They went to sleep early, intending on getting up early so Ash could get some more things he needed for the place – curtains for one thing – to help get set up before his furniture would arrive.

Ash set up his sleeping bag in his bedroom; Chris slept in the living room.

In the middle of the night, Ash woke from a bright light shining directly in his eyes. His room was lit up by a full moon. Curtains were definitely a must. Since he was awake, he got up for a few minutes and went to the window to see what his place looked like at … what time was it, exactly? Ash picked up his phone, which was plugged into the wall to charge. 3:47am.

He went back to the window. The moon poured its light over everything outside. The mountains glistened in the distance, proudly bathing in the light. Everything looked so crisp and clear. The sky was cloudless. There were thousands of beautiful stars keeping the moon company and watching him from above. He took in a deep breath, relishing in the smell of a fresh start. The room had that just painted smell; the smell of a new life. He had made the right decision in moving down here.

He was just about to turn around and go back to his sleeping roll when movement from the left side of the window caught his eye.

It was far from the parking lot where he had seen the something. There was mostly desert on this side of the building, with a few trees and several cacti. One lonely light pole stood in the center of the parking lot. If not for the moon, it probably wouldn’t be very bright on this side. Few cars parked on this side.

When he finally caught the thing that moved again, his breath caught in his throat. He must have been imagining it. The “it” he saw appeared to be a huge spider. It was off in the distance, in the desert near a hill. It must have stood 7 feet tall – maybe even more. Its spindly and hairy legs lazily trudged through the desert.

Ash blinked. Then he turned around for a second. It had to be his imagination. He was tired and in a new and exciting place. He looked back out the window.

There, see? He thought to himself. Nothing there. Or had it just gone behind the hill?

No, definitely his imagination. Spiders that were 7 feet tall? He was sure if that were the case, they would be known about (a spider that big would be hard to miss) and this place would probably be deserted.

He stared out the window, in the same spot he thought he had seen the creature, for a good fifteen minutes. He blinked as little as possible. He looked hard. Never saw anything more.

He was just tired. Going back to his sleeping bag, he fell back to sleep until his alarm went off at 7 in the morning. He hit the snooze button, intending on waking up on the next buzz. He hit snooze again and again….

*** Begin update (02-06-2012)

 

When they finally got up at 8:30am, Ash had forgotten about what his overactive imagination had seen the night before. Chris didn’t mention anything strange, either. Ash was feeling great, thinking that his choice to move had been the right one. This was a good place for him to start over – he was far, far away from Mariella and everyone that knew him. He felt good, his spirits were rising – he was even excited about going shopping for new apartment items, and Ash was a typical guy in that area: normally, he hated shopping.

He and Chris stopped at a fast food place to order breakfast before going to the department store. Ash bought curtains, towels for the kitchen and bath, and even some (manly-looking) blue and black candles. After the department store, they stopped at a hardware store to pick up tools and screws for hanging the curtains.

When they got back to the apartment, Ash set up the step-ladder he had bought. Chris handed him the tools and screws he needed as he hung up the first curtain rod. Looking out the window while he worked, it was then that Ash finally remembered what he had supposedly seen the night before.

“Hey, Chris?”

“Yeah?”

“Did you happen to see anything weird last night?”

“No, I was sleeping,” Chris said in a “duh” kind of voice.

“I woke up, and when I was looking outside, I could have sworn I saw a huge creature out in the desert,” Ash was talking with a nonchalant tone. He wanted to make sure Chris knew he wasn’t freaking out or anything. He’d never hear the end of it if Chris thought he was scared.

“A creature?” Chris snorted. “You mean like Bigfoot or something?”

“No, more like … giant spiders.” Ash finished the last screw on the curtain rod bracket. Chris handed him the curtain rod and Ash slid the curtain onto it before placing the rod on the bracket. Chris was chuckling.

“Giant spiders? What did you smoke before you went to sleep?”

Ash chuckled, too. “I know. I was probably just dreaming. But we are in the desert – who knows what kind of weird shit is out there?”

“Well, Roswell is kind of close by….”

Chris was making fun of him now. Ash knew how crazy he sounded, though; he couldn’t blame Chris for thinking he was nuts. He decided to drop it and not say anything more.

 

 

 

Chapter Five

 

They come into town to cleanse it on the fifteenth night of every month. Stay in your home from sundown until sunup.

 

“What the hell is this?” Ash wondered out loud. He had gone to the kitchen to start making breakfast when the note caught his eye. It had been slipped under the front door, and was written in perfect cursive handwriting.

“What?” Chris was playing a game on his phone, looking up only when Ash had sounded alarmed.

Ash showed him the note.

Chris shrugged. “Probably some prank one of the neighbors pull on all the new people that move in. And anyway, according to this, we missed this supposed ‘cleansing’ for the month anyway.”

“Yeah, just in time, the fifteenth was three days ago.” Ash laughed, crumpled the piece of paper and tossed it into the paper bag they were using for trash.

***

Over the next several weeks, things went smoothly. Ash started his new job, in which everyone welcomed him warmly. His furniture and moving boxes had been delivered on time and Chris had helped him set everything up. His apartment was now in perfect order. He couldn’t believe how everything had fallen together so ideally. It almost seemed that everything was too perfect. Something in the back of his mind was taunting him, saying “just wait for the shit to hit the fan – life can never be this perfect.”

The only thing he hated was seeing Chris go. But he had a family to get back to. He promised he would fly down for a visit whenever he could. Ash agreed to do the same, though he wasn’t looking forward to ever returning to Michigan – even if it was just for a visit.

 

From the Eyes

I have these thoughts inside my head
Not bang! bang! bang! you're dead
But something less simple for them who die
I want them to suffer; I want them to cry

 

From the Eyes
Sara Vance-Hogan
(This story is from the point of view of a disturbed man and may content mature content in the form of adult language, violence, and gore)

 

 

Chapter One

 

 

My name is unimportant. Just know that I am a man. I cannot stop these thoughts; they are always with me. When I see a woman. A man. Even a family. I want to hurt them. I want to kill them. Especially girls with blue eyes and blond curls. It doesn’t matter what their name is, or what they do.

I know people would think I was bad if I gave in to my urges. No one would like me – they would want me to die, too.

It was sunny that day when I opened my eyes. First one eye. Pause. Groan. Then the other eye as I rolled onto my back and pulled up to my chin the cheap quilt that I had found at a thrift store. It smelled raw, musty, just like the rest of my shitty apartment. I’m no housekeeper and my bitch doesn’t live with me so she doesn’t clean either. There was trash all over the floor; several beer and soda cans, used tissues from jerking off, the trash from any package I had opened in the last several months, and even dog hair was still stuck to the carpet from a dog I used to have several months ago. I got landed with my mother’s west highland terrier when she died a year ago. That damn dog had chewed the hell out of my work boots (they had cost more than a hundred dollars). I broke his fucking neck, chopped him up in my bathtub and put him in a trash bag. The following Wednesday, I discarded him in the dumpster an hour before I knew the trucks would arrive.

I had nice furniture in my apartment. But as my many (past) girlfriends had said, “what’s the point of having nice furniture if you’re not going to keep it clean?” So, even my nice furniture looked like shit. Not one table or end table had escaped the dust or old spilled drinks of my boorish housekeeping. The table by my bed had my cell phone and an alarm clock on it. Piled next to those were food crumbs, chip bags, and empty condom packages. I didn’t throw anything away but once in a great while. Every now and then I would grab a few trash bags and pick up some of the garbage. I’d empty out maybe 3 bags of trash at a time and then be done with it. My kitchen trash was always overflowing.

That day, I had a job interview. I already had one job but I needed money to get out of this shithole apartment and to a place that gave me more privacy.

I looked at the clock and saw I had another hour before I had to be at the job interview. My alarm would go off in eleven minutes. I hated waking up before my alarm went off. That was eleven more minutes I could have slept.

My upstairs neighbors were already up and running around as usual. They had a couple of kids that they let run wild. It often sounded like the little brats were jumping from furniture to floor. The thuds above my head got so loud at times that it sounded like an explosion and would startle me so badly that it felt like they had kick-started my heart. The vibrations sometimes shook the walls. Not to mention the stomping. They ran, they stomped, and they jumped at all hours of the day and night. Their spawn also screamed. A lot.

It wasn’t the type of screaming and stomping that would imply the children were being abused. They were just little hellions allowed to run free and do whatever they wanted.

I often imagined taking a meat tenderizer to their cute little faces and turning them into something unrecognizable.

One of the kids screamed at the top of their lungs just then, followed by an annoying whining cry.

Little fuckers.

Might as well get up. I turned off the switch to my alarm and all but rolled out of bed. I slunk to the bathroom and took a piss half asleep, probably missing the bowl at one point, and then started the shower. I let the water run for a few minutes so it would heat up.

When I got in, there was a nice cloud of steam and the water was hot. I stood there under the water with my eyes closed. It felt good, but didn’t help to wake me up.

After about five minutes, the water started going cold. That was normal; the hot water never lasted in this dump. Even though I was used to it happening by now, it still pissed me off. I wanted to be able to relax under a nice stream of hot water for longer than five minutes.

I quickly scrubbed and washed my hair, then turned off the water as angrily as I could. I brushed my teeth, dressed, and spiked my short hair professionally. I shaved my face, leaving the side burns and at 35 after, I was ready to go.

As I was heading to my car, I passed my upstairs neighbor and one of the “darling” little children. The mother was taking the six-year-old to school.

“Hi!” the little girl waved at me.

I imagined carrying her small corpse to the dumpster.

“Good morning!” I said cheerfully and waved to the little girl.

“You’re up early,” the mother commented. She was smiling.

Shut the fuck up.

“Job interview.” I smiled back.

“Ahh, I see. Good luck.”

“Thanks.” I got in my car and waved goodbye to them. In my rearview mirror, I saw the little girl climbing in her mother’s car. I imagined slamming the door on her skinny leg.

I drove with the window rolled down despite the morning chill of Spring. The cold air helped clear my mind and keep me from getting distracted; it helped me to think, to prepare for this interview.

Though really I was morose and apathetic, I was outwardly charismatic. Because I knew something wasn’t right in my head. I knew I didn’t think normal thoughts, and I didn’t want anyone to catch on to that. I knew how to charm people even though I hated them dearly. I wasn’t concerned about not getting the job I was interviewing for; I would simply charm the person doing the interview, too.

The job was only a ten-minute drive. It was for a part-time bank teller. Boring as hell, but it would be extra money.

My full-time job was at the Air Force Base nearby as an aircraft mechanic. I was a civilian worker (or civvy as the military guys called us) and worked the second shift from 3:30pm till midnight. I made almost 18 dollars an hour there, but it still wasn’t enough to get me the kind of place I wanted. I needed seclusion, and that always costs more.

At the interview, the man asked me if I was good with people.

“I love people, and they tend to love me,” I replied with a grin and a confident tone. “I guess you could say I’m a true people person; I never feel awkward or uncomfortable or shy around anyone.”

In my head I laughed. But the man smiled, buying it. He wrote something down on a piece of a paper. I charmed him. I called him, “sir,” and smiled a lot. I was annoyingly respectable, just how suits like it. I got the job on the spot.

That day was Friday. I would start my new part-time job on Monday. My shift would be from 9am until 1pm. That would give me just enough time to come home and eat lunch and relax for an hour before going to my job at the base. I would be working almost all day, 5 days a week. But I would have weekends off to recover, and several 3 and 4 day weekends a year thanks to federal holidays. I would be exhausted a lot of the time, but it would be worth it to have my own place, my own privacy, to do whatever the fuck I wanted.

 

...to be continued...

*********************

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