Was it simply a dream, or was my reality a dream? That was the question that haunted my life now. My mom said we needed a change, my dad said it was for the best. The best. It had been about two months since we moved and this didn’t feel like the best. They loved it, I hated it. They told me I’d adjust to it, to give it time. Time, however, was the problem. No matter how many times I told them this place was haunted, that there was something wrong with this town, they just ignored it. Brushing it off like a child’s imagination. They hadn’t seen it; they had no idea of the horrible things that happened, night after night.
Since the first night, I’d seen it. Without fail I’d see it. It always happened at the same time – at ten o’clock, there was this horrible scream, as if a cat was being torn apart by a pack of wild animals. Without fail I found myself stumbling towards the window like a drunk man. Against my will, as if some mystic power was forcing my body to move. I stared out of my bedroom window into the darkness of my backyard. There was nothing at first. By then, the scream had faded and was replaced by the howling—the unbearable howling of crazed dogs. Then, out of the darkness, a figure slowly emerged. My mind raced as I tried to piece together what this new shadowy figure was. Was it an alien, animal, demon or maybe some myth made real? But as it moved, the moon gave life to it.
A woman. Without fail it was always a woman. Never the same woman, mind you. Never the same outfit or the same wound, but always the same look. She was in her early twenties, with light brown hair cut short, just reaching past her ears. It was impossible for me to tell if she was cute or not; fear had consumed her, contorted her features. Her mouth was twisted, hanging open but emitting no sound. As she stumbled through the darkness, her right hand was clutching her bleeding right leg.
My mom had installed these weird lamps throughout the backyard. They changed colors randomly, but at this time it was always the same color: yellow. It gave off a strange glow that made the stream of blood coming down the woman’s leg look black and shiny. The light reflected off the surface of the pool, lighting up the whole backyard.
She limped slowly across the yard, making her way past the pool. Inside I screamed, I yelled for her to stop. But it was too late—without fail, it was always the same. When the woman got halfway past the pool, he appeared. The dog’s cries faded away and the night became silent. Her head slowly turned to the side as she stared at him. She said nothing. Neither of them moved, neither of them spoke. Yet, they were screaming, yowling like crazed animals.
There were only two things you could make out about his face. The first was his glasses and how they shined in the moonlight. The second was his smile. There were no words to describe it. It was by all means a normal smile. Yet, you could feel his hand tighten around your throat the longer you stared at him. As he flashed that murderous smile, her resolve broke. Tears began to flow and panic took over her. She turned to run and you could see the pain within each step she took. Every step caused her face to twist in pain. Her mouth opened wide, moving quickly to form words, but no sound escaped. Blood dripped from the knife he held tightly in his left hand. It looked enormous—or perhaps it only seemed so.
He didn’t run, he didn’t rush; he walked slowly towards her, spinning the knife in his hand. The type of walk that demanded respect, or maybe fear. It took him seconds before he caught up with her. Lights flashed red as her head jerked back. His right hand gripped her hair. Her mouth moved; this time, the words that followed quickly became drowned out by the howls of dogs. She struggled as he tried to pull her backwards; time seemed too sped up. I watched it all.
I couldn’t look away; my eyes watched every detail. He tried to yank her backwards again as she stumbled forward. His hand held nothing but a chunk of hair now, ripped from her head. She fall to her knees crawling as quickly as she could, but he was on her again, tackling her to the ground. That was when I noticed I wasn’t alone. I wasn’t the only one taking in the night event. Lights in the other houses slowly turned off, showing only their eyes and smiles. Their smiles…the smiles of demons. Wide and wild, they shouted and bathed in the horror of the night. Like drunks, we took it all in. We drank well this night.
Digits dug into the ground as she tried to crawl away from him. He smiled. As his hand went up, the knife flashed in the changing light. As it disappeared within her back, her eyes closed tightly. Blood escaped as he jerked the knife out of her. As blood covered his shirt and hand, his facial expression changed, almost as if the sight of her blood had driven him mad. He became crazed, a madman. Repeating the action, again and again and again, like a wild man he kept going, even after the life faded from her eyes. Even after her body stopped moving, he repeated the action over and over. I didn’t blink, I didn’t look away. I found myself…aroused by it all. Unable to look away.
“Wait…” she abruptly said. “Did any of this really happen?” Her eyes scanned me, looking for a crack in my composure. She must have looked me over ten times before finally asking.
I only smiled as I stared at her, my hands steadily moving through the cat’s fur.
“He’s lying. He’s always making up stories, Amy!” Jonathan cried. “How come none of this is ever on the news or in the papers? Come on, Amy! He’s just pulling a fast one!” As he spoke, he tossed a rock at the lake.
She sat there quietly, waiting for my reply.
This was only my second month in this town. I met Amy Williams and Jonathan Vela in history class. Jonathan never liked me. He wasn’t what you’ll call amicable. No matter what I did or said, he challenged it. Once I told them how I helped my dad fix the brakes on his trucks. Jonathan asked me countless question on how I did so—so many questions I couldn’t answer one out of fear of saying the wrong thing. I spoke of how my older brother was in the military. Again, he challenged this with endless questions. But I had to endure them, to get close to Amy. She was beautiful. We were only in our first year of high school, but I knew what love was every time I stared into her green eyes.
“Well,” I spoke. My tone was flat, my eyes never looking into theirs. “If you would have let me finished.” I could hear Jonathan sigh heavily. “As the knife disappeared within her body for the tenth time, he sat there hunched over her, breathing heavy. As he slowly stood to his feet, he left the knife firmly within her back. He stared into my eyes as he smiled. The only thing I could see was the lens of his glasses and his smile. His hand gripped her ankle as he began to walk away back into the darkness. It was when she was barely visible that my mind returned to me. The realization of what happened, of what he did, of what I did, finally hit me. The true terror of it all. That a woman died in front of me, that I did nothing, that I said nothing. The first few weeks I couldn’t eat. I threw up endlessly. “As I spoke, she moved closer to me, each word lingering within her mind, painting a picture of the horror.”
“Still didn’t explain why it was never on the news!” Jonathan interpreted, staring at me, as if he was trying to find the slightest flaw in my tale.
Before I could answer, Amy spoke. “Ah! That’s so scary! Are you guys still coming over for dinner?”
Jonathan sighed heavily again at the fact he was ignored. I only smiled and nodded; he said nothing. She stood up and took the cat away from me as rushed home quickly. It must have been around seven o’clock. My parents already knew I was going over to her house for dinner. As Jonathan and I walked, we said nothing. I could feel his eyes burning a hole into me.
I only grinned. No matter how hard he tried to hide it, he was interested in the story. He was in love with it; he lusted for answers. So I gave him one—not all at once, but enough to keep him knocking on the door. “He ate them.”
Jonathan stopped in his tracks, his face flashing with confusion.
“He ate all of his victims. That’s why there was never a body. He would search other towns, miles away, to find his next victim. Seducing them, then bringing them back to his house, far away from their own home so the local news wouldn’t catch wind of a missing person.”
We were only a few blocks away from Amy’s house now. Jonathan didn’t say anything the whole walk. Did I win this round? Did I finally outsmart him? What was this strange taste in my mouth? Ah, it was victory!
The night was amazing. Johnathan was painfully silent; I loved it. As Amy’s mother set up the dinner table, we sat in the living room playing board games. “So,” Mrs. Williams said, “Amy tells me you are quite the storyteller. Something of a murderer in the night?” She smiled as she spoke. It was clear where Amy got her good look and charm from. “You know…” As she spoke, she placed plates on the table. “Sometime the best stories are the ones that real.” She winked at me as she laughed softly.
I was left dumbfounded by this. Was she just teasing me? Jonathan sighed, but it wasn’t his normal sigh. He was sweating; he looked uncomfortable. The whole night he was silent. As Amy stood up to go help her mother, I slowly leaned over to Jonathan.
“What’s eating you?” I flashed a smile, staring at him. His eyes met mine and only showed fear. My smile only grew wider as I noticed that he was truly scared of my story. But it was no fun; I didn’t think he would be this scared. With a heavy sigh I told him the truth. “It was a lie. It’s not true, man. ” I didn’t have the heart to tell him the whole truth. That I first heard this story from him. He was telling the same story my first day of school. Since then I’d been waiting to use that story again.
Even telling him it was fake didn’t seem to make the fear fade; in fact, it did the opposite. Before I could say anything else, the doorknob began to move. Amy’s father was home. As the door opened he dropped his briefcase by the door as he scanned the room adjusting his glasses. Johnathan wrestled in his seat as he stared at him.
“Ahem.” He cleared his throat before he started to speak. “You must be Anthony, you live a few houses down, correct? It’s nice to finally meet you. Amy speaks highly of you.” He flashed a smile as he began to walk towards his wife, who stood in the kitchen doorway. His walk was… strange. As they embraced each other Jonathan gripped my arm, tugging me towards him. His voice was low. “You need to go home. You need to get—”
Before he could finish, Amy’s father stared at him. His smile was wide and wild. “Jonathan!” his voice boomed. “It’s nice to see you again.”
He said nothing but nodded. I was confused. What was he trying to tell me?
Dinner started soon after. As we ate, we talked and laughed. Jonathan, however, didn’t. He barely ate; he barely spoke. “So Anthony, I hear you have a rather active imagination,” Mr. William said, placing his fork down. “You know, you could probably sell some of your stories to the newspaper.”
I only smiled as I listened to his praise. By now Jonathan was slouching in his chair so much he was almost under the table.
Amy smiled as she looked over at me. “How did the story end? About the murderer? Was it going to happen again tonight?”
She caught me off-guard. I nearly forgot that I said it happened every night. I smiled as I looked down at my plate. I had to gather myself, figure out the best route, the best ending. “Well,” I started. “As they disappeared in the night. I could hear a faint sound. He was humming. I don’t know the song or remember how it goes. But I would know that hum anywhere!” My eyes scanned the room as I took in the vibe of all of them. Amy and her parents were invested completely in the tale. Jonathan’s eyes were glued to the clock.
“But it didn’t end there! My body took control again. Against my will I found myself crawling out of my window, following the trail of blood he left behind. That’s when I saw him…hunched over her. His hands moving like a machine. I didn’t know what he was doing until I moved closer. The closer I moved, the louder the sound of his action grew. It was unbearable, flesh ripping and tearing. That’s when I saw it: he was cutting his victim into pieces. Each piece went straight into his mouth. Like an animal he howled and screamed.” I paused. While I spoke to them, I was reenacting the event with my food. I stared at them all, and Amy was on the edge of her seat. I had them in the palm of my hand.
“Wait!” Mrs. William cried. “Stop! Don’t finish just yet! Let me go get dessert! Amy, why don’t you show him around the house as I get things ready?”
Amy smiled and nodded as Jonathan stared at me with solicitousness. I ignored it. He was playing at something; however, tonight was mine. “That’s a perfect idea!” Mr. William chimed in. “Jonathan, mind helping me clear the table?”
He said nothing; he only slowly nodded. He was shaking. As Amy took my hand and led me out of the dining room I could see that Jonathan wasn’t acting; he was truly afraid. I forced the thought out of my head.
She showed me the house, and it was bigger than I thought. As we walked there was one room she didn’t show me. All of the doors in their house were white, but this one was red.
“Hey Amy,” I spoke, staring at the door, almost as if it was calling me, whispering sweet nothingness into my ears. “What’s in there?” I pointed at the door as I asked.
She looked at the door as she titled her head. “Oh…that’s just my dad’s personal study. I mean, you can go in…if you want.” Her tone was different.
My hand slowly moved toward the door, gripping it tightly as I swung it open. My mouth dropped open as I stared into the room. It was a closet. All of the buildup, all of the excitement faded quickly. She laughed as she walked away, motioning me to follow.
We made our way back to the dining room as they all sat there laughing and chatting. Plates with cherry pies sat waiting for us at our chairs. My mouth watered as I walked towards it. That’s when I noticed two extra plates. My mind was confused until I saw my mom walk out of the kitchen with Mrs. William. “Mom?” I questioned. She only smiled at me. Was this the end of my perfect night? She sat down next to me as her grin grew wider towards me. Jonathon was gone. “Where’s Jonathan?”
“Oh, he wasn’t feeling too good. Your father took him home. Poor thing didn’t touch his food. Such a shame,” my mother said, picking up her fork. Her eyes moved from person to person, then to the clock. It was now nine fifty-nine.
“Ahem.” Mr. William cleared his throat. “So, the story! I have to know, what happened next?” He stared at me with a blank look as he placed his elbows on the table, leaning forward.
“Yes! I heard you were right in the middle of a story! I’d love to hear the ending,” my mother chimed in, her blue eyes staring into mine.
“Right…where was I? “ I questioned, staring at the pie. “Ah yes! So there I was.” My eyes scanned the room as I began to feel the vibes of everyone again. “He sat there, bit by bit, eating her. He didn’t even cook her! He just went to work without a second thought. While I watched, I felt as if I was the one being watched. His back was to me so it wasn’t him. But I knew I was being watched. That’s when I knew he wasn’t alone. Hands escaped the darkness behind me, wrapping around my mouth and neck. I could tell it was a woman; her touch was soft. She smelled of wildflowers and her nails was freshly done. They dug into my skin as she pulling me against her body. She was a few inches taller than me.”
None of them touched their pies, no one but my mother. Before I could continue there was a knock at the door. “Oh! That must be your father. Don’t you dare continue without me!” Mrs. William pleaded as she hurried to the other room.
I grinned as I took the first bite of pie. It tasted wonderful; however, the taste of victory was even sweeter. As she hurried back into the room she instantly sat down and flashed me a smile. My father slowly walked into the room as he greeted everyone. “Would it be all right if I had a glass of water?” he asked politely.
“Of course, I can—” Mrs. William started before he raised his hand to stop her.
“No, no! It’s fine—I think I’m fully capable of getting it on my own. I’ll only be a moment,” he said, grinning widely and walking into the kitchen. She smiled as she slowly wrestled with her seat, getting comfortable. “Continue! Continue! This is getting so good!”
Amy gave me a smile I’ve never seen before. I felt weak as I shyly looked away. “Right…so here I was. Heart racing, blood pumping. I struggled to escape, but it was no good. Her grip was strong. She place her chin on my shoulder as she kissed my cheek softly. That’s when I heard a strange laugh. A twisted, horrible laughter that echoed through the air. But the strange part was, it wasn’t her nor him making the sound. Without even realizing, I was laughing a laugh I’d never heard before. His head slowly turning, staring over his shoulder at me, his glasses shining in the moonlight and blood running down the side of his lips. She whispered sweet nothingness in my ear, slowly letting me go. To this day, I have always remembered what she said. Night after night, she told me this. Night after night, it burnt a hole in my soul. Then, I found myself in my bed. Alone. The blood trail gone, the only thing that remained was…her words. Each morning I would sit there motionless in my bed, emitting no sound at all, only hearing her words repeating over and over. Haunting me endlessly. I found myself laughing…laughing that terrible laugh again.”
They sat there silently; only the ticking of the clock could be heard. All at once, Amy and her parents spoke the same words. “What did she say?!” they pleaded.
“What did she tell you? What were the words she said over and over?” Mr. William asked impatiently.
A smile formed on my face, my eyes moving from person to person. By this time my dad finally walked out of the kitchen behind Mr. Williams. When my eyes met his, he flashed me a warm smile with a soft nod. My mother sat comfortably in her chair, slowly looking over at me. “Ahem.” I cleared my throat, placing the fork down. “Well then,” I started. “She said…”
The Williams inched closer to me, hanging on every word.
“She said….” I stared at each one of them. My father didn’t bother to move, maybe the tension was too high? He only stood there silently, watching all of them with pride. “She said, we needed a change, he said, it’s for the best.”
Confusion took control of the Williams as they listened. “They said, the next one will be yours, son.” My eyes stared down at the half-eaten pie as I spoke. My father’s right hand moved around Mr. William’s face, tugging him back out of his seat as he stabbed a knife through his throat. My mother’s smile was wild and crazed. With one motion she leaped on the table and lunged herself at Mrs. William. Amy screamed loudly while our mothers wrestled on the ground. Mrs. William screamed for Amy to run; she struggled and pleaded for us to stop.
My mom assailed Mrs. Williams relentlessly, stabbing the fork into her face while Mrs. William’s screams grew louder. She repeated the action over and over until there was no movement from Mrs. William anymore. My father glided across the table towards Amy. She busted from her chair and tried to escape. His knife sliced open her right arm as she made her way into the living room. I was already there, blocking the front door, staring at her with a crooked smile. My hands behind my back, I greeted her with the eyes of a crazed man, lust and hatred flashing in my eyes. She paused, terror filling her face. Tears rolled down her cheek; it was beautiful. My father broke through the door like a madman as she screamed loudly. His smile was that of a monster, his body moving like wind, the blood on the knife shining as he swung it wildly at her. She raced towards the back door as the knife barely missed her throat. He didn’t follow; he only stood there smiling, his hand moving towards mine, placing the knife in my left hand.
My mom walked out of the dining room staring at us. “She’s all yours.”
I won’t bore you with what came next, because you already heard the tale. Amy ran through the darkness; I followed. She struggled, she fought. But at the end of the night, I tasted victory. At the end of it all, I ate myself sick with the taste of victory. I drank myself stupid with her blood. As I towered over her cold body, I stared into the eyes of another. He will tell a tale of this night. Just like Jonathon had done the nights before. Just like Jonathon, he will be slipshod about the story. He will tell as many as he can. He drew us to him, and at the end he knew.
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