This novel is limited to 100 free copies due to its part in Inkitt’s Novel Contest.
The stars littered the skies like pimples decorate a teenager’s face. Brittany Parker did not stagger out of her best friend Rachel Howards house like some of the drunken whores from Crescent Valley High School did. Rachel Howard’s birthday party was over and everyone was filing out of Rachel’s house. Brittany noticed that the windows to her boyfriend’s Chevy Pickup truck were all fogged up. She walked over and knocked on the window.
Her boyfriend’s name was Tony. Tony rolled down the window and he squealed.
‘’Oh shit, hi honey,’’ Tony stammered.
Emma Jean Watkins removed her head from Tony’s lap and raised her head to look into Brittany’s eyes. Brittany’s eyes began watering.
‘’You son of a bitch, I tell you I’m not ready to make love to you yet so you fuck the head cheerleader for your fucking football team? You both can go straight to Hell!’’ Brittany screamed.
Brittany stormed off and Tony placed his junk back in his underwear and zipped up his jeans and hurried after his angry girlfriend.
‘’Baby you have to let me explain,’’
‘’I understand perfectly Tony you’re an evil bastard who can’t keep it in his pants and as a result were breaking up goodbye Tony.’’
Tony grabbed Brittany’s arm and Brittany punched Tony with her free hand in the bread basket. Tony doubled over and grunted. Brittany hurried to her car and sped off. Tony hung his head and watched his former, sweetheart of a girlfriend leave his life forever. Tony hung his head in shame.
While Tony was away a man wearing blue jeans, a black t – shirt and clown makeup climbed into the driver’s seat. The clown held a small knife in his left hand. Luckily for the maniac the keys were already in the ignition. The maniac pressed his foot to the gas pedal and the truck rocketed to the oblivious, dunce, Tony. Tony turned around just in time to see the truck barreling at him right before it flattened him.
‘’Jesus Christ you’re the devil,’’
‘’Are you going to kill me?’’
‘’I’m afraid so.’’
‘’What the Fuck did I ever do to you?’’
‘’You helped Tony break that poor girl’s heart and that would make you a whore and well I hate whores.’’
‘’I didn’t even know Tony and Brittany had anything.’’
‘’Now dear I’d hate to call bullshit but bullshit!’’
‘’Everybody knows that for the last three months Brittany Parker and Tony Gonzalez had been going out exclusively.’’
‘’He’s not married and I really liked Tony.’’
‘’Well now actually, a lack of a ring doesn’t make what you any less of a whore; now you saw I married Tony didn’t you?’’
Emma Jean nodded.
‘’Emma Jean what kind of a gentleman would I be if I let you live after killing that garbage Tony?’’
‘’Please if you let me go I won’t tell anybody anything I swear.’’
The psycho laughed as the truck tore down the residential area at sixty five miles an hour.
‘’Sweetie I don’t care if you told on me. I’m not afraid of prison or getting killed; I just can’t justify letting a whore who would willing help a man betray his girlfriend’s trust live, maybe before I kill you can learn not to be so malicious as to blatantly destroy other people’s relationships.’’
‘’I’m so sorry please let me go I’ve learned my lesson and I’m real sorry.’’
The clown smiled.
He placed his free hand on the girl’s shoulder. ‘’I’m sorry dear I wish I didn’t have to murder you but what if you break someone else’s heart and ruin another relationship? Do you see that I don’t have many options here?’’
Emma Jean sobbed.
The maniac drove deep into a local set of woods. He removed the keys from the ignition and buried the keys deep in his front jean pocket. The psycho marched the terrified girl out into the woods. She wore a pink blouse and a black mini skirt. Her nipples poked through the pink blouse slightly.
‘’Take off all your clothes and fold them neatly in a pile at your feet.’’
Emma Jean stripped naked and folded the clothes at her feet. ‘’Now rest your chest across this hickory stump and arch your buttocks high into the air. A whore like you doesn’t deserve to die with dignity.’’
Emma Jean reluctantly did as she was told. She cried and whimpered. ‘’Please God save me; I’m a wretched sinner.’’
The clown grabbed the girl by the back of the neck and stabbed her hard, repeatedly eighteen times in the face with the blade of the knife. Soon the dead girl’s face looked like ham covered in chocolate syrup. The blood dripped profusely out of the massive hole in the dead girl’s face.
The maniac climbed back into the stolen truck and sped off. The killer turned up the Radio and blasted dark, modern heavy metal music. His dirty, shaggy, brown hair hung down slightly past his slender shoulders. His feet were bare. He played over the murders he had just committed in his mind over and over again. First he pictured Tony gazing dumbly at him through the windshield of Tony’s own truck before getting killed.
He could still hear the snapping of Tony’s bones as the truck squashed him. He could still feel the skull give way when Tony stabbed Emma Jean hard through the face repeatedly. In his own mind the killer had done well. He felt he was purging the world of evil.
After all the police had gone home all that was left in the Howard household was the Howard family. Rachel called Brittany that night.
‘’Hi Rachel, what’s up?’’
‘’ Brittany Tony’s dead.’’
There was silence between the two friends for a long time before it was eventually broken.
‘’You don’t sound too upset?’’
‘’Can I tell you something a little disturbing?’’
‘’Sure, I guess.’’
‘’I caught Emma Jean Watkins giving Tony head out in his truck as I was coming out of your party earlier.’’
‘’Yuck, that’s totally gross!’’
‘’Tell me about it; I just don’t feel sympathy for Ton right now. I know that sounds awful but Tony really broke my heart tonight and I guess I’m a little messed up about it.’’
‘’Well Emma Jean Watkins is missing.’’
‘’I suppose you don’t care about her either huh?’’
‘’You sound like a total psycho; you realize this don’t you?’’
‘’ I guess so.’’
Brittany laughed. ‘’I’m just a little messed up tonight I think after a good night’s sleep I’ll be able to grieve more properly.’’
‘’I see well goodnight psycho.’’
‘’Goodnight and Happy Birthday sweetie,’’
That night the youngest member of the Howard family dreamt horrible dreams. His name was Danny Howard and he was the youngest son of Margaret and Marshal Howard. In his dream Danny found himself walking through the gates of a carnival. Eerie, metallic carnival music blared out of the loud speaker. A clown approached the boy and handed him an orange balloon.
‘’The balloon read I heart Crescent Valley.’’ The clown, lead the boy into a funhouse. The inside of the funhouse was dark. It was filled with windy corridors. A trap floor dropped out from under Danny’s feet. Danny screamed as he clutched at the darkness for some kind of wall or crater in which he slide his hand in and hoist himself back up the narrow tunnel he was falling down. He landed on his butt in a darkened cave. He screamed as a humongous bear raised, up on its hind legs and growled.
Danny felt urine drip down his leg. As the bear lunged at him Danny shrieked. Danny awoke in his room with a terrible start. He was drenched in sweat. He desperately gasped for breath. The inside of the bedroom was dark except for a small bit of light that crept underneath the door. Danny did not dare awaken his family.
He did not want them to find he was a wussy or anything like that. In his mind Danny could hear his sister’s voice now. ‘’You’re so lame Danny.’’
He saw an old Batman doll lying on the bottom shelf housing his Universal Studios, movie monster, figurine collection. Danny leapt out of his bed and raced over to the shelf. He grabbed the doll and dashed back to his bed. He dove under the covers and cradled Batman in his arms. Intoxicated, by the sheer relief of feeling protected, by the dark knight, Danny quickly drifted off to sleep.
The next day Rachel visited her friend Margo Sullivan. Margo had kinky, frizzy, black hair and almond shaped eyes. Her skin was light brown. Her mother was black and her father was white. Last year her father had and mother had gotten a divorce. After the divorce Margo’s father had moved to Seattle and, Margo nor her mother had seen him ever since that time. Margo sat on the edge of her bed. Her stereo was seated on the dresser. Jimi Hendrix music blasted out of the speakers.
Rachel was seated Indian style on the floor in Margo’s bedroom. Margo noticed the puzzled expression resting on her friend’s face and decided to ask her what was wrong. ‘’What’s wrong, Rachel,’’
‘’I’m just upset.’’
‘’I’m just awestruck by the fact that Brittany is so blasé about Tony’s death.’’
‘’He broke her heart last night; she’s still hurting.’’
‘’Yeah but Tony’s dead.’’
‘’Did you hear they found that Emma Jean Watkins out in Hammond woods?’’
‘’Oh my God are you serious?’’ Rachel spoke and shuddered.
‘’They found her completely nude and her face was totally bloody and mutilated and part skull was caved in.’’
Rachel felt her stomach lurch. ‘’What kind of a person could do that to a person?’’
‘’People are nuts,’’ Margo said.
Rachel’s cellphone rang. Rachel dug through her little, white purse and pulled out her cellphone with the pretty, pink case. The cellphone itself was purple. ‘’Hello,’’ Rachel said.
‘’I’m going to kill you slowly,’’ The voice on the phone hissed.
‘’Fuck off creep.’’
Rachel clicked the end button on her cell phone and indignantly buried her phone back into her purse.
‘’What’s wrong Rachel?’’
‘’Some asshole just threatened to kill me.’’
‘’Did you see the number?’’
‘’It came up private caller.’’
‘’Tell me about it.’’
Rachel rolled her eyes. Margo’s fat cat Charlie strolled into the bedroom. He was mainly black but had white paws and a white belly. Charlie crawled into Rachel’s lap and curled up and fell asleep. Rachel patted the sleeping feline on top of his wide head.
The sun was starting to set. A man by the name of Trenton Cole sat at a booth by himself. The waitress brought him his milkshake and his bill. The milkshake was housed inside a Styrofoam cup. He pressed the straw against his lips and took a sip of the banana shake. He saw a red haired woman wearing pink, stretch pants and matching, pink high heels beating her son in the parking lot. The boys chubby cheeks were streaked with tears and his screams sent shivers down Trenton’s spine. The waitress that brought Trenton his milkshake frowned. She shook her head.
‘’That poor child, what an awful woman his mother is,’’ The waitress muttered.
‘’She looks like a real bitch,’’ Trenton said.
Trenton pulled a five dollar bill out of his pocket. He had no wallet. He did not believe in them.
‘’Keep the change.’’
As Trenton spoke his gaze never left the sight of the woman beating her son. Trenton’s green eyes were so cold he looked like a wolf. Trenton pulled a container that was supposed to hold a breath freshening spray. What he used it for was much more sinister. The boy ran into the car and tossed his coat over his head. He sobbed inconsolably. Trenton bumped into the woman.
‘’Watch where you’re going dickhead,’’ The woman hissed.
Trenton sprayed the woman in the face with the cyanide spray. She dropped to the floor. The spray flowed through her veins and suffocated her from the inside. Her heart shut down first and shortly after that her brain followed suit. Within the time of three or four eye blinks a son was left motherless. Trenton climbed into his stolen truck and casually drove away. Trenton drove to the farm house where he lived. The farmhouse sat at the end of a long, windy, gravelly driveway.
The farmhouse was painted a dark red like fresh blood oozing out of a gaping wound. The killer walked into his house and he found his wife sitting at the kitchen table reading a book. ‘’Hey beautiful how are you?’’
Trenton leaned down and kissed his wife on the lips. Molly looked down at the Styrofoam cup her husband was holding in his right hand.
‘’I take it you’ve eaten already?’’
‘’Yeah I stopped off at this nice, quiet, little diner just off Marble Street; the place looked pretty fancy. Marble floors and even a 1950’s style juke box.’’
‘’Wow seems pretty nice; we’ll have to go together sometime.’’
‘’That sounds great, we can go tomorrow after work if you like.’’
‘’That sounds great. It’s a date.’’
‘’How was work?’’
‘’It was great they are naming me teacher of the year Saturday night.’’
‘’Wow babe that’s really great congratulations,’’
Molly placed her book face down on the kitchen table and wrapped her arms around her husband’s neck. ‘’What do you say you and I go upstairs and celebrate?’’
‘’I’d love to honey but I’m real tired honey can we take a rain check?’’
Molly looked down at the floor.
‘’I guess so.’’
Trenton grabbed his wife by the chin and gently kissed her lips.
‘’I love you.’’
Trenton walked upstairs and Molly grabbed a towel from the linen closet and proceeded to make love to the shower head on turbo setting.
Danny walked into his parents’ bedroom. His mother snored quietly while Danny’s father made no noise at all while he slept. Danny walked over to his mother’s side of the bed and stared, silently at his mother. Danny tossed back his head and howled like a lunatic in heat. ‘’Die, die, die,’’ Danny shouted.
Margaret shot up and flicked the light switch on. Danny punched his mother’s arm hard.
Margaret grabbed her child by the elbows as she sat up in bed. Marshall woke up and glared at his son.
‘’What the fuck is wrong with Danny,’’ Marshal growled.
‘’He’s just sleepwalking.’’ Margaret whispered.
‘’Well I’m going to wake him up. This nonsense must end.’’
‘’No Marshal, it’s too dangerous to wake a sleepwalker, he could go into shock!’’
‘’That is bull shit, I’m waking the boy up now!’’
‘’Marshal don’t do it.’’
Danny’s eyes popped open. He felt groggy. He rubbed his eyes to wipe away the haze in them. His mother and father looked at Danny like he was a creature with three heads. ‘’How did I get in here,’’ Danny asked.
‘’You were just sleepwalking Danny. Why don’t you try to get back to bed ok,’’ Margaret said.
‘’Ok, goodnight mom and dad,’’
‘’Good night, Danny,’’ Margaret and Danny sang out in unison.
The next day it was Sunday. Danny sat at breakfast with his head tilted downward. He looked down at his bowl of cereal and avoided eye contact with his father. His mother and sister were still in bed. Both ladies were sound asleep. Marshal sipped his black, coffee and read from his newspaper.
‘’Dad do you ever nightmares?’’
‘’Well I had a bad dream last night and it really scared me.’’
‘’What was it about?’’
‘’I dreamt this evil man tried to kill me.’’
‘’What did he look like?’’
‘’He wore clown makeup and had long, brown hair.’’
He chased me around these darkened woods while wielding a giant chainsaw. He screamed and cursed at me as he chased me.’’
‘’That sounds like one scary, dream.’’
‘’You know son dreams can’t hurt you; they are just like little movies that play in your head wile you sleep.’’
‘’I know dad but they still seem creepy.’’
‘’Well son maybe you should turn your nightmares into short stories.’’
Danny’s eyes gleamed with excitement. ‘’That’s a great idea dad but Rachel won’t let me use her laptop.’’
‘’Well you can use the computer in my writing office.’’
Danny’s jaw dropped. ‘’Dad no one is allowed in your office let alone use your computer!’’
Marshal walked over next to where his son sat and placed his hand on Danny’s shoulder. He leaned over and stared into his son’s eyes. ‘’It is a writer’s office and you are a writer now aren’t you son?’’
Danny grinned. ‘’I guess so ha hah.’’
Danny hugged his father and raced off to his father’s office. Danny sat in his father’s big, black, comfortable, swivel chair and began furiously typing away on his father’s computer. Rachel heard typing and noticed the door to her father’s study was open. She poked her head inside the doorway leading to the study and frowned.
She rolled her eyes as she folded her arms across her chest as clear signs of her indignation. ‘’You know you aren’t allowed in here; I’m telling dad.’’
Danny turned around and stuck his tongue out at his sister.’’
‘’Go ahead dad said I could use his office.’’
‘’You’re lying and besides since when do you write?’’
‘’I had a bad dream and dad said if I wrote my dream down and turned it into a short story it would make feel better.’’
Rachel turned and dashed toward the kitchen. She saw her dad was cooking bacon. She stood directly behind her dad and hollered.
‘’Did you say Danny could use your computer?’’
‘’Yes I did why?’’
‘’But no one is allowed to use your computer dad! You say it’s expensive and only you are allowed to use it!’’
‘’I know that but, I thought that Danny might feel better if he could turn something negative like a nightmare into something creative and fun it might make him feel better.’’
‘’That’s totally unfair dad I have never gotten to even set foot in your office and Danny gets to type in your office just because he’s a boy and he’s the baby of the family? That sucks.’’
‘’You have your own laptop what; are you getting so bent out of shape for?’’
‘’I just feel like Danny is the favorite child around here sometimes.’’
Marshal loaded the bacon onto a plate and tossed the pan in the sink. He walked over to his daughter and placed his hand on her shoulder.
‘’It’s time you knew the truth. Danny is my favorite and also your mother’s favorite child; we kept it a secret from you for twelve years but felt you deserved to know the truth after all these years.’’
Marshal flashed his daughter a crooked smile. Rachel chuckled.
‘’Dad you’re totally silly.’’ Rachel said.
Margaret descended the staircase and she appeared in the kitchens doorway. ‘’Good morning family, Margaret said.
‘’Good morning beautiful want any bacon?’’
‘’No thanks I’ll just have a piece of grape fruit and a glass of tap water.’’
‘’I see our beautiful daughter but where’s our handsome son?’’
‘’He’s in the study typing a story.’’
‘’Why is he allowed to type on your computer,’’
‘’It’s because he’s my favorite child.’’ Marshal stated.
The Howard family all shared a big laugh. After breakfast Danny allowed only his dad to read his story.
‘’Why can’t your sister and I read your story honey,’’ Margaret asked.
‘’It’s because dad’s a writer and you guys don’t know whether a story is actually good or not.’’
‘’I see, I guess you and I are just dullards, dear.’’ Margaret joked with her daughter.
‘’I suppose you’re right mother.’’ Rachel said with a sarcastic sigh.
Danny and Marshal walked into Marshal’s study and closed the door. Marshal sat down in his chair and read the story quietly to himself. When he was finished Marshal smiled. ‘’This is really good, son. I think you could even get this published.’’
Yes indeed, you should submit it to one of the short story markets at Writers Circus.com.’’
‘’You’ve got real talent son.’’
Danny smiled. ‘’Really dad,’’
Marshal stood up and left his son alone in his study. Danny sat down in his dad’s chair and found the website his dad spoke about. He found a horror magazine’s website called Fearsome Creatures. He submitted the story in an email and went outside to play. Two weeks later Danny received a letter in the mail. The envelope read ‘’To Danny Howard.’’ It was postmarked from Fearsome Creatures Magazine New York, New York. Danny rushed the letter up to his bedroom and shut the door.
He sat down on the edge of his bed and tore open the envelope holding his future. Danny pulled out the letter and voraciously read it. The letter read. ‘’Dear Danny,
Congratulations the editors here at Creatures Magazine have decided to publish your short story ‘’Nightmare Horror.’’
Rod Von Finger Blaster,
Danny pumped his fist in the air. He felt a strange elation fill his stomach. His cheeks felt hot. Danny raced off to find his dad. He saw the door to his father’s study was closed. A do not disturb sign hung from the doorknob. Danny knocked on the door and waited for his father to reply. ‘’Come in.’’ Marshal sang out.
Danny opened the door, cautiously and entered his father’s study. Marshal sat hunched over his keyboard frantically typing away. Danny pensively stood beside his father’s chair clutching his acceptance letter. ‘’Dad, my short story was accepted.’’
Marshal spun his chair around to face his son.
‘’That’s awesome is that the acceptance letter you’re holding in your hand?’’
‘’Can I read it?’’
Danny handed the letter to his father and allowed Marshal to read it. Marshal smiled as his eyes darted back and forth across the page as he read the letter. Marshal looked at his son and smiled. ‘’I’m so proud of you.’’
‘’We’ll tell your mom and sister about you getting published when they get back from the mall.’’
Danny hugged his dad and left his father’s study.
Three months later Halloween arrived. The leaves clung to the bottoms of Danny’s shoes as he walked on the slick pavement. Danny walked for a quarter of a mile before he noticed that he was not alone. He heard footsteps behind him. He quickened his walking pace. The footsteps quickened and grew louder behind Danny as Danny picked up his pace. A man wearing a ski mask grabbed Danny and dragged the boy into the bushes. Danny screamed as the man tore at the boys clothes. He tried to unfasten the boy’s belt but his wrist was seized by a crazed gentleman brandishing a rather small, army knife.
The boy ran away terrified. The man wore clown makeup and drove a stolen pickup truck. It was Trenton Cole. Trenton Cole knelt down and leaned over the masked man. Trenton was fairly thin but was well defined with farmer’s strength that he earned from bailing hay since he was ten years old. The foiled rapist stood six foot two and was bulging with weight room muscle.
‘’Scum like you does not deserve to live; I’m going to give you one minute to make your piece with God before I send you along to Hell where vermin like you belong,’’ Trenton said.
The masked man spit in the clown’s face. ‘’Eat shit clown boy.’’
The clown slid the knife deep into the rapist’s neck and twisted until he felt the trachea collapse and he heard an audible pop. Trenton stood up and left the corpse lying in the bushes. Trenton climbed into his stolen truck and drove off. He slowly followed Danny in his stolen truck to school.
At the dinner table Danny sat expressionless with his gaze averting his family. His mother frowned as she watched her son play with his peas using his fork.
‘’What’s wrong son, aren’t you hungry,’’ Margaret asked.
‘’I don’t feel too good mom, may I be excused?’’
‘’Of course darling,’’
Danny stood up and dragged himself up to his bedroom. An hour later Danny pulled his sister into his bedroom and shut the door, ‘’Can you keep a secret,’’ Danny asked.
‘’Sure what’s up,’’ Rachel said.
‘’Well I was attacked today on the way to school.’’
‘’What do you mean attacked.’’
A guy tried to rape me.’’
‘’Oh my God; are you alright?’’
‘’Yes I’m fine: keep your voice down. Somebody pulled him off of me before he could do anything weird.’’
Rachel wrapped her arms around her little brother. ‘’I’m so sorry this happened to you sweetheart.’’
Danny began crying as well. He could not remember the last time he had confided in his sister. He felt to be consoled by his big sister. Inside he immediately felt safer in the warmth of his sister’s embrace. ‘’I love you Rachel.’’
‘’I love you too Danny.’’
That night as Danny slept Rachel knocked on her parent’s bedroom door. ‘’Come in,’’ Marshal said.
Rachel opened the door and entered the bedroom. Margaret’s gaze never left the book she was reading. ‘’Her father was busy fidgeting with the batteries inside the remote control. ‘’Mom, dad I have something really disturbing to tell you.’’
Both Margaret and Marshal both looked up and gazed into their daughter’s big, blue eyes. ‘’Danny was attacked today on his way to school.’’
‘’What do you mean he was attacked,’’ Margaret asked.
‘’Apparently some maniac dragged him in the bushes and tried to rape him but some guy stopped him.’’
‘’Oh thank God,’’ Margaret cried out as she clutched her breast.
‘’Where is he now?’’
‘’He’s in bed asleep. Should I wake him up,’’
‘’No let him sleep, he’s been through a lot already,’’ Marshal insisted.
At Brittany Parker’s house the Parker family slept while Trenton climbed up a ladder and crawled into Brittany’s window. The clown watched the teen sleep. He brushed the hair off of the girl’s forehead and quietly watched the teen sleep. The next day Brittany awoke to a creepy sight. Written in her own, red
Lipstick Brittany read a message that read ‘’Happy Halloween.’’ Soon enough Christmas Eve finally arrived. Margo’s mom was spending two weeks with her mom for Christmas in Florida. Margo’s grandmother had been real sick and Margo’s mother feared it might be her mother’s last Christmas. That meant that Margo was spending Christmas and New Year’s Eve with the Howard family. That night the Howard Family and Margo all watched Rachel sing in the Church choir at the Midnight mass on Christmas Eve at the church that the Howard family normally attended every Tuesday evening from six to eight p.m. Rachel stood in the back row of the choir as she belted out the lyrics to ‘’Away in a Manger.’’
Margaret Howard dabbed away her tears with a napkin. After the church service was over the church goers poured out of the church. ‘’We’re so proud of you. You were amazing,’’ Margaret said.
She kissed her daughter’s cheek and hugged her too. Marshal also hugged and kissed his little girl. She was eighteen but as all parents feel she was still daddy’s little girl to him. Before he was able to quit his job as a car salesman he would always brag to his coworkers about how his daughter had been on the honor roll since she was in kindergarten. The clouds only sprinkled a light snow as the Howard family and Margo filed out of the church.
On the drive home the Howard family sang along to ‘’White Christmas’’ while Margo sat in the back seat next to Rachel and just silently stared out the window. On Crane Street there lived a family named Conrad. The Conrad family consisted of Mary Ellen Conrad, the mother, the father was Joe Conrad, and the bratty son was Holden Conrad. Holden was ten years old. Holden stripped naked and leaned against the wall in the corner and pooped all over the wall.
Mary Ellen shrieked. ‘’Stop that at once,’’ Mary Ellen shouted.
‘’Bite me, mom.’’
Holden ran outside while still nude and ran laps around the house. ‘’I’m naked boy ha hah ha.’’
From the street a man wearing a Santa suit watched the unruly boy streak around his front yard. Mary Ellen stood in the doorway. She looked like an angel from the warm glow of the lights of the house. Would you help me control your son,’’ Mary Ellen begged her husband.
‘’I’d love to dear but I’m busy building my ship in a bottle,’’ Joe whined.
That night as the Conrad family slept the phony Santa went into the garage and pulled out a gas can. He poured gasoline around the property and struck a match. He burnt the house down and stood there watching the blue and yellow and orange flames light up the sky. ‘’Some people just don’t deserve to be parents and unruly children should be disciplined.’’
Santa climbed into his stolen truck and tore down the street in the suburban neighborhood. Santa thought of the words that haunted him still. He pictured his doctor’s stern face as he told Molly and Trenton Cole that his wife was barren and unable to have children of their own. That was two months ago. Molly awoke in the midst of a terrible dream. She reached for her husband, and found he was not there.
She sat up and cried. The bedroom door swung open. The room was dark. ‘’Trenton is that you?’’
‘’Yeah it’s me.’’
Molly clicked on the bedside lamp. ‘’Why are you dressed like Santa Claus?’’
‘’I decided to visit some sick kids at the local children’s hospital.’’
‘’When I woke up and saw you weren’t here I panicked,’’
Trenton sat down on the bed and placed his arm around his wife’s shoulder. ‘’I’m here, baby.’’
The next day Marshal walked down the stairs. He found his wife seated on the couch watching the news. ‘’ The police have not confirmed whether they believe that the fire was started by the Crescent Valley Killer or not; the Crescent Valley Killer was linked to the deaths of Emma Jean Watkins and Tony Gonzales this past summer.’’ A newscaster said mournfully.
‘’Isn’t that horrible?’’ Margaret said.
‘’It’s disgusting.’’ Marshal added.
Marshal walked into the kitchen and put on a big pot of coffee. Danny descended the steps first. He was followed by his sister. Margo slept until noon.
Later that afternoon Danny sat at the new desk his dad had built for him drawing and painting with the new brushes and pencils he had gotten for Christmas. Charlie walked into Danny’s bedroom. Since Margo was staying with the Howard family Charlie was also staying with the Howard family. He rubbed up against Danny’s leg. Intuitively Charlie knew there was something very wrong with Danny. The cat growled and hissed at the boy as he continued to draw horrendous pictures which depicted graphic scenes of murder.
Margo and Rachel walked into Danny’s bedroom. ‘’What are you working on,’’ Rachel said.
Danny did not speak nor did his gaze ever leave the page he was painting on. Danny screamed a guttural growl. It sounded as if he was drowning in Hell’s lake of fire. Danny stood up and flipped over his desk. Red, orange, yellow and blue paint spilled all over the rug. Danny gritted his teeth and lunged at his sister. Rachel seized her brother by the wrists and gazed into her brother’s blank eyes.
‘’Danny what the Hell is wrong with you,’’ Rachel hollered.
Danny thrashed about wildly. ‘’I’ll kill you; do you hear me I’ll kill you.’’
Danny spoke through clenched teeth. Rachel tossed her brother on the bed and mounted him. ‘’You need to calm down Danny. Do you hear me? You’re acting like a total psycho!’’
Danny spit on his sister. Margo just stood in the doorway with her mouth agape. She had never seen her brother’s friend behave this way. Spit ran down Rachel’s cheek as she glared at her brother. Marshal and Margaret burst into the bedroom. ‘’What the fuck is going on in here,’’ Marshal yelled.
‘’Danny’s acting like a total psycho,’’ Rachel exclaimed.
‘’Let your brother up now!’’ Marshal shouted.
Rachel climbed off of her brother and let him up. Danny sprang up off the bed and lunged at his father. Marshal raised his hand and slapped his son’s cheek hard. Danny looked up into his father’s eyes. Danny rubbed his cheek. Danny’s eyes grew moist. ‘’What has gotten into you boy huh,’’ Marshal bellowed angrily.
The pain of his father’s slap stung his cheeks mercilessly. He had no idea why his parents and Margo and Rachel were staring at him. Everyone seemed upset. He had no memory of doing anything. He did not even remember painting or doing any drawing even. The rest of the day Danny refused to speak to anyone. That night Danny crept into Rachel’s bedroom. He snuck into his sister’s bedroom and grabbed a pair of scissors from the medicine cabinet. Danny tiptoed back into his big, sister’s bedroom and snuck over to Margo’s bed and watched her sleep.
Danny proceeded to cut Margo’s hair. When he was finished big clumps of black, frizzy hair was lying on the floor. He cut three inches of Margo’s hair off. The next day Danny heard Margo scream. Danny rushed into his sister’s bedroom. Margo was clenching her fists. Her teeth were gritted together. ‘’You did this didn’t you; you little creep?’’
Margo pointed an accusatory finger at Danny.
‘’I didn’t do anything I swear.’’ Danny protested.
Margo stepped toward Danny but Danny leapt back and Rachel restrained Margo. ‘’Let me go; I’m going to kill your brother.’’ Margo screamed.
Margaret walked into the bedroom. She was holding a basket of laundry against her right hip. ‘’What on Earth is going on….’’ Margaret looked down at the floor and Saw Margo’s hair lying on the floor. ‘’Danny did you do this?’’
‘’No mom I didn’t do anything I swear.’’
‘’Did so he’s a big fat liar.’’ Margo hissed.
‘’Daniel Bartholomew Howard what on Earth has gotten into you lately, young man?’’
‘’You’re grounded for a week: do you understand me?’’
‘’I didn’t do anything I swear, it was Glen.’’
‘’He’s the boy who tells me to do things and if I don’t listen to him he takes over my body and forces me to do it.’’ Danny admitted.
Later that day Margaret took her son to a shrink and Dr. Anderson diagnosed poor Danny with split personality disorder. The trauma of nearly being raped had brought out a separate, negative second personality inside her son. Margaret tossed the car keys on the coffee table in the living room. She hung her jacket u in the closet in the living room. She sat down on the couch and picked up a copy of Life Magazine.
Her eyes filled with mist. She thought of the first time she held her son in her arms. He was so small and fragile and innocent. His eyes were so full of love and life. His smile was as infectious as a virus. Now here it was twelve years later and that smile had faded and now he was sick mentally. She thought of the monster that turned her son into, a stranger. She gritted her teeth and teeth and hurled the magazine across the room and punched the couch pillows.
Her husband walked into the room. ‘’Babe what’s wrong,’’ Marshal asked.
Margaret looked up at her husband and spoke in a low tone. ‘’Danny was diagnosed with a split personality, Marshal.’’
Marshal sat down beside his wife on the sofa and wrapped his arm around her. ‘’Well get through this as a family babe; we’ll get through this I promise.’’ Danny whispered.
Danny sat at the top of the steps. He watched his parents speaking to one another silently. Danny bowed his head. ‘’I’m a monster. My own parents hate what I’ve become.’’ Danny murmured.
Inside his own mind Glen began speaking to Danny. ‘’It’s all, that bitch Margo’s fault; everything was fine till she opened her big fat mouth.’’ Glen said.
‘’What are we going to do with her?’’ Danny asked himself.
‘’We’re going to kill the bitch!’’
‘’ Kill, kill, kill,’’ Danny’s inner voice and Glen’s personality chanted in unison.
While his family slept Danny, crept downstairs and grabbed a butcher knife from a drawer in the kitchen. Charlie woke up and gazed up from under the kitchen table. He mewed gently. ‘’Here kitty, kitty,’’ Danny whispered.
Charlie scratched at Danny’s ankle and hissed. The cat scrambled out of the kitchen and dashed up the steps. Charlie tiptoed through the darkness. He slowly climbed the steps inch by inch. He opened the door to his sister’s bedroom painfully cautiously. The moonlight crept in through Rachel’s bedroom window. Danny slunk over into Rachel’s bathroom in her bedroom. He pulled back the shower curtain and climbed into the tub. He pulled the curtain into the tub and crouched down into a ball.
In the middle of the night the bathroom door swung open. Rachel clicked on the bathroom light. She shut the door behind her quietly. She walked over to the toilet and sat down on the seat. Danny popped out of the shower and ran screaming into the bedroom. Rachel leapt off of the toilet and pulled up her panties. She heard screams ring out from her bedroom. Rachel raced into the bedroom. She turned on the bedroom light and saw Margo clamping her hands over her knife wound in her stomach. Rachel dashed across the room and tackled her crazed brother.
Danny landed on the knife. Both Margo and Danny were raced to the hospital. Both Margo and Danny survived. Danny was arrested and locked away in an asylum. When June Margo’s mom, picked up her daughter she instructed Margo to wait in the car for her. June stormed up to the front door of the Howard family and banged on the front door. Margaret opened the door and June punched Margaret in the stomach.
Margaret doubled over in pain. ‘’That’s for raising a fucked up little psycho that attacked my angel Margo!’’ June shouted.
June turned around and stomped off angrily. Margaret dragged herself over to the couch. She plopped down on the sofa and began weeping. She buried her face inside her hands. Her stomach lurched. She could not wrap her mind around the crazy situation she found herself in. She had not only lost a best friend but also a son. Her son was a monster. He was deeply disturbed and all alone. She imagined her son sitting in an activity room with rapists and murders trembling and crying out for her and she could not do anything. Numb was how she began to feel.
When she climbed back into her car June heard her cellphone ring. She answered it. She heard a growly voice speak to her. ‘’Apologize to Margaret or die bitch!’’
‘’Fuck you,’’ June shouted as she slammed down her cell phone into her purse. The sky was starless and chilled as Trenton pulled up into the Sullivan household’s parking lot. Trenton hopped out of his stolen truck. He broke into the garage and he pulled out a chainsaw. He kicked the front door in and entered the Sullivan home. June heard the intruder shuffling around downstairs and hopped out of bed and grabbed a baseball bat out of her bedroom closet. She crept downstairs and gasped when she saw her front door had been smashed in.
June crept into the kitchen and screamed when she saw Trenton dressed in clown makeup and blue jeans and a Jefferson Airplane t-shirt. He revved up his chainsaw and June raced toward the psycho. The psycho smacked the bat out of June’s hand using his chainsaw. June stumbled backwards a bit before catching her balance. She turned and ran. She stumbled on the stairs and Trenton’s chainsaw tore into June’s spine. Blood splattered all over the killer’s face and clothes.
Margo appeared at the top of the stairs. Mom is that you?’’ Margo called out. She felt around for a lights switch. Trenton dropped the chainsaw and raced out the door. He climbed into his stolen truck and sped off. Margo screamed as she stared in horror at her mother’s corpse. Blood was everywhere. Margo moved in with the Howard family.
The air was still that spring. Rachel sat down at the back of the cafeteria with her friends Brittany and Margo. A snobby girl named Libby Welsh approached the table. She was carrying a gray tray. She wore a blue, button up sweater a red skirt and white tennis shoes.
‘’Hey how’s it feel being the sister of a total nut job,’’ Libby snorted.
‘’It feels alright I guess how’s it feel being a total bitch,’’ Rachel said.
Libby rolled her eyes and walked away. The sun felt warm against the girl’s faces as they walked home. ‘’Guys did you hear? I’m pregnant,’’ Brittany announced as the three friends walked home.
‘’Wow that’s great, have you told your parents yet,’’ Rachel asked.
‘’Yeah they are excited to be grandparents.’’
‘’Does Rob know,’’ Margo asked.
Brittany nodded. ‘’Yeah he’s totally excited.’’
That night, at supper at the Cole house, comma there was silence. Molly looked at her husband pensively as he shoveled a bloody, hunk of steak into his mouth. ‘’Baby do you ever regret marrying me?’’ Molly asked.
Trenton looked up at his wife. ‘’Hell no; I married the prettiest and sweetest girl in the world why would I regret that babe?’’
‘’Well I just figured you might resent me because I can’t get pregnant.’’
‘’It’s not a big deal to me I love you.’’
Molly looked down at her lap and mumbled. ‘’Ok.’’
‘’Do you think maybe we could adopt?’’
‘’I don’t know why you would want to adopt a baby.’’
‘’I just wish I could feel the joys of being a mother.’’
Molly ran off to the bedroom and locked herself in tight. ‘’Trenton bowed his head and sighed. ‘’Looks like I’m going to be sleeping out on the couch tonight.’’
At the Howard house Charlie slept at the end of the cot with Margo. Margo had a terrible nightmare that night. She dreamt that her mother was dragging herself up the stairs of her old house soaked in blood. She made a thump, thump, thumping noise as she dragged herself up the steps with her chin. ‘’Help me child,’’ Her mother called to her weakly.
Margo sat up in bed and screamed. Charlie was a rather lazy cat. Most cats would totally freak out or run off at a loud scream like this but not Charlie. Charlie kept right on snoozing. He was dreaming that he was a sunlit beach playing with a ball of yarn with a gorgeous tabby cat named Joslyn. ‘’What’s wrong honey? Did you have another nightmare?’’ Rachel whispered.
‘’Was it about your mom?’’
Rachel wrapped her arm around her friend’s shoulder. ‘’It’s ok you’re safe now.’’
Margo wept openly. Charlie woke up and looked up at Margo but quickly fell asleep again. The next day there came a loud knock on the Cole’s front door. Molly opened the front door. She saw a tall man with broad shoulders standing on her front porch. He wore a floor length trench coat and a fedora.
‘’I’m detective Carl Watts and I have a warrant out for your husband’s arrest.’’
‘’Arrest, what did my husband do officer?’’
‘’He is the prime suspect in the Crescent Valley Murders.’’
‘’Is your husband home Mrs. Cole?’’
‘’No my husband is at work?’’
Molly fought back tears as she spoke.
‘’He’s a birthday clown and he’s currently at a child’s birthday party performing.’’
‘’Do you have the address?’’
‘’I think it’s at 450 Flatbush Lane.’’
‘’Thank you Miss Cole I know this must be devastating to hear; I thank you for your cooperation.’’
The detective placed his hand on Molly’s shoulder for a moment and then turned and left. The party was in full swing at little Bobby Boil’s house when the detective arrived. Trenton was dressed in a big, red clown suit with white polka dots on it. Smiling children laughed and cheered as the creepy, clown made balloon animals. Detective Watts approached the clown and whispered in his ear. Trenton grabbed the man and twisted his neck. The parents and children screamed as the clown dashed off into his stolen truck and hurried home. When Trenton came home he found his wife seated at the kitchen table.
She held a large, shotgun in her hands. ‘’I take it the detective told you what I’ve done?’’
‘’I guess you think I’m a monster don’t you?’’
‘’Do you still love me?’’
Molly shook her head.
‘’Without your love I’m already dead. Fire away,’’
Molly squeezed the trigger and sent the killer to Hell. That’s where murderers like him belonged. She began to cry. She did not feel like she had the right to mourn. She had lied to her husband. She did still love him even though he was a monster. She dropped the smoking shotgun to the floor. She picked the gun up and placed it in her own mouth and squeezed the trigger. The gun made a clicking sound but no shots were fired. She dropped the gun to the floor and simply walked away.
The next day Molly packed a suit case and nothing else and fled town. She drove her Toyota Echo out of Crescent Valley. She had no idea where she was going but she knew it was somewhere new and special. She felt the bump in her stomach and smiled. A curse was broken. In December Molly would have a healthy boy or girl. It did not matter to her as long as it was happy and healthy. She thought of Trenton and found herself smiling for reasons unbeknownst to her.
In many ways Molly knew that she would always love Trenton and when she thought of him she did not think of the monster that she had to shoot in her kitchen. She would think of the man who carried her to her hotel room at the local Holiday Inn and made love to her for the first time on their wedding night. Molly’s knuckles turned white as she clutched the steering wheel. She drove out of sight.
That summer Brittany moved away with her husband to Connecticut and Margo and Rachel applied to Crescent Valley University. Both girls were accepted. And in the fall both girls attended the university. In the asylum the Glen side of his personality had left him and now Danny had taken on an entirely new personality. He called himself Trenton Cole. The doctors kept telling him that Trenton was just an imaginary personality thought up by Danny. Danny knew in his hear that he was Trenton Cole.
Danny had memories that were not his own. He remembered the scar under his own armpit which was not under Danny’s but it was under the real Trenton’s arm. He remembered stabbing Emma Jean Watkins in the face. He remembered the look on his wife’s face as she squeezed the trigger and ended Trenton’s life. Danny was not there anymore. Danny had left his body a long time ago. In the paranormal world when somebody loses their zest for life a spirit may choose to leave its own body while still alive.
A new, wandering spirit may take over the old spirits body. This was what happened to Danny. Danny knew he was not strong enough yet but Danny envisioned the night he would escape from the asylum. He would return home and kill his sister. He would kill Margo too. It was his fault that his sister had placed him inside this damnable asylum. Although Danny’s spirit was gone his memories still were locked inside his own brain along with the memories of Trenton Cole. Danny stared straight ahead at the padded walls before him.
He knew that these walls would not hold him back forever and he would soon escape to wreak havoc in Crescent Valley one again. A large, round bellied, black orderly peaked in at Danny and noticed Danny was grinning. ‘’What are you smiling at boy?’’ The orderly growled.
‘’I was just thinking of home.’’ Danny said as he leaned back against the wall.
‘’Just thinking of home,’’
Ten years later Rachel found herself married to a dentist named Herman Shocker. The Shocker family lived in a lovely house on Crow Street. Rachel worked at the local library as a librarian. It was eight o’ clock in the morning. Her cup of Banana hot chocolate sat beside her in the cup holder of her 2006 Chrylser 300. She came to a red light and sat there for a moment waiting for the damn thing to turn green.
She saw a cute scarecrow with a grinning jack o’ lantern for a head sitting on the front porch of a pretty, white, house, with a picket, fence. It was Halloween and that meant that weird chill was in the air that only a Midwestern town in October could bring about. The light turned green and Rachel turned off the main road and pulled into the library’s parking lot.
She shut off the car and slid the keys in her purse. She entered the library and saw Mary Baxter scurrying into the backroom, behind the checkout counter. Rachel grabbed the stack of young adult books off the counter and walked to the back of the library. She entered the young adult section and placed the books in their right places on the shelf.
At 8:30 the library was officially opened. The Johnsons were a married couple in their early eighties that came into the library about once a week to shoot the breeze with the staff. The Johnsons walked into the library. Jim Johnson was a tall fellow in checkered, golf pants and a yellow polo t-shirt. His wife wore a baby blue jogging suit. She was short and plump. She wore dangly earrings and squeaky, white tennis shoes. Helen Johnson was the wife’s name.
‘’Hello ladies how are you all doing on this fine Tuesday morning,’’ Jim Johnson asked.
‘’Doing fine Jim and you,’’ Mary and Rachel said in unison.
‘’We’re doing just fine. The wife and I are going to be taking a road trip to Kansas City today.’’
‘’That’s nice why Kansas City,’’ Rachel said.
‘’We’re going to visit our grandchildren,’’ Helen said.
‘’That sounds lovely hope you have a lovely visit with your grandchildren,’’ Mary chimed in.
‘’We were hoping to search around your dollar bin and find a couple books to take up with us to Kansas City to read on the way there,’’ Jim boasted.
‘’Well I hope you two find something you like,’’ Rachel said.
Jim and his wife smiled and turned around and headed over to the bargain bin. They rummaged through it as if they were looking for buried treasure. After a good five minutes of rummaging the couple each found a book. The books were ‘’Catcher in The Rye’’ by J.D. Salinger and Eye of the Dragon’’ by Stephen King. Jim placed his book up on the counter and Helen followed suit. Jim pulled two dollars out of his pocket and threw them up on the checkout counter. Rachel placed the money in the cash register and hand Jim a receipt.
Mary placed the books in a plastic bag and handed the books to Helen. Everyone bid their adieus and the Johnsons walked out of the library linked hand in hand. That night Margo knocked on Rachel’s front door. Margo stood next to her five year old boy Alex. Alex was dressed as a bumble bee. Rachel opened the front door and smiled. ‘’Are you ready to go trick or treating?’’ Rachel asked.
‘’David, Alex is here,’’ Rachel yelled.
David was Rachel’s five year old son. David bounded down the steps. He was dressed in a brown dog suit. ‘’Aw you look adorable are you ready to go?’’ Rachel asked.
David nodded. Rachel bent down and kissed her son on the cheek. David wiped his cheek. Margo pulled out her cellphone and snapped a couple pictures of the two boys. ‘’The boys look so cute don’t they?’’ Margo asked.
‘’Totally,’’ Rachel stated.
The women and their children stepped out into the October air which was filled with chill. The night was starless. Leaves crunched under foot from the frost on them. The ground was frozen and hard. Several miles away Danny walked down a stretch of road that was nearly deserted. The asylum burned brightly as it burned. Danny meandered as if he was on Thorazine. He shuffled down the street.
Danny was finally free. His mind raced. He thought about his sister. He thought about Margo too.’’ I’ll kill those bitches, slow.’’ Danny mumbled to himself. His blonde hair hung down slightly below his shoulders. He was dressed in a white, asylum jumpsuit and he was barefoot. He happened upon a drug store called Harry’s. Danny meandered through the door of the drug store. The floors were made of hard tiles and a grizzled looking guy with gray eyebrows and black hair stood behind the counter. He watched the mental patient saunter off to the aisle that housed the Halloween costumes and decorations.
Danny grabbed a rainbow colored wig and a sewn up mask that was made to look like a mask fashioned out of human flesh. He put on the wig and the mask. He walked out the front door of the store. The angry cashier ran out of the store. He had grabbed a shotgun from under the counter and now brandished it violently.
‘’You get back here and pay for that costume you son of a bitch,’’ The cashier shouted.
Danny just kept walking. The cashier caught up to Danny and grabbed his arm. He spun the insane man around and got in his face. ‘’What’s wrong with you, you dumb son of a bitch? I asked if you were going to pay for that costume?’’
Danny grabbed the shotgun from the feisty cashier and beat the cashier over the head with the butt of the shotgun. Blood oozed out of the skull onto the cold pavement. Danny dropped the shotgun. It clanked as it hit the pavement. Danny continued to walk down the sidewalk. He kept repeating the phrase ‘’Kill them all,’’ over and over again inside his own mind.
A crowd of people gathered around the corpse and within minutes the outside of the drugstore was swarming with police officers. The new detective Elaina Ramirez studied the corpse. ‘’ Take the shotgun back to the lab and dust it for prints.’’
Margo and Rachel stood out in the street as they watched their little ones walk up the steps and knock on the front door of one of their neighbor’s houses. An elderly woman opened the front door and smiled. ‘’Trick or treat,’’ the boys sang out in unison.
Well aren’t you boys precious,’’ The elderly lady cooed.
The elderly woman reached into her green, ceramic bowl and pulled out two tootsie pops. She dropped the candy into the bag and grinned. ‘’Happy Halloween,’’ The elderly lady said.
She waved at the children and stepped inside. Across the street, in the shadows, Danny followed behind Margo, David, Alex, and Rachel. Silently he moved amidst the trees and the shadows. That night, after trick or treating, Margo and her son went over to Rachel’s house. Rachel’s husband the dentist was away at a dentist’s convention for the entire weekend.
Alex and David and Margo and Rachel sat around the kitchen table. The moms had purple glasses that were shaped like witches and the boys had their own, special, glasses in honor of Halloween. Alex had a cup in the shape of Frankenstein and David had a cup in the shape of a vampire. Margo and Rachel each took turns reading ‘’Clifford’s First Halloween.’’ When they were finished, Margo and Alex sent the kids to bed. Each child kissed their mothers on their cheeks and next hopped up the steps.
Margo and Rachel finished their hot, apple, cider and put their cute cups in the sink. They dumped the contents of their kids’ cups into the sink and left the cups in the sink. Margo and Rachel pulled out the Ouija board and placed it on the kitchen table. The girls sat down and placed two fingers from each hand onto the planchette. ‘’Are there any spirits in this house who wish to communicate with us tonight,’’ Rachel asked.
The planchette sat dormant for about five minutes before it started moving. The planchette scrolled over to yes. ‘’What is your name?’’
The board spelled out legion. Margo and Rachel shot each other concerned looks. ‘’What do you see in our future?’’ Margo asked.
The board spelled out death. The girls heard three distinct knocks pounding on Rachel’s front door. The girls gasped loudly in unison. Rachel mustered up some courage and stood up. She walked pensively towards the front door. ‘’Who was at the front door,’’ Rachel thought to herself. Was it some sex, crazed psychopath or some terrifying specter from beyond the grave wanting to drag Rachel off to hell with it.
Perhaps it was just her husband who left his convention early and decided to surprise the family. Rachel listened to the sound of her breathing as she crept closer to the front door. Cautiously Rachel reached her hand out and gently squeezed the doorknob. She turned the doorknob and opened the door. Darkness greeted her eyes. Rachel scratched the top of her head and shut the door.
Rachel returned to the kitchen and moved the planchette over to goodbye. The girls put the Ouija board up in the living room closet. Upstairs Alex screamed. Margo and Rachel both ran up the steps. Margo was first followed closely behind by Rachel. The concerned mothers burst into the bedroom.
‘’Alex what’s wrong,’’ Margo asked.
‘’Tell mommy what’s wrong?’’
‘’I saw a bad man outside my window,’’ Alex said through semi heavy sobs.
‘’What did the bad man look like?’’
‘’He had colorful hair and he wore a weird mask.’’
Margo chuckled and she wrapped her arms around her son. ‘’It’s Halloween son, it was just somebody in a funny mask sweetheart that’s all.’’
Alex looked at his mom with a hint of skepticism. There was no way to deny that what he had seen was the equivalent to the boogeyman to a child. His eyes were full of malice. He looked crazed and totally hungry. He looked hungry for flesh like the witch in Hansel and Gretel. The girls and the children heard heavy thumping footsteps thudding up the steps. The girls ran out into the hallway and saw Danny walking up the stairs. He was carrying an ax and his eyes were full of hate.
‘’Won’t you girls come and play with me ha hah,’’ Danny hissed.
Danny climbed up the steps. His face was hidden behind that strange, rubbery mask he wore over his face. His white, prison jumpsuit was splashed with blood. Rachel dashed into David’s bedroom and locked the door. Rachel ran into her bedroom and locked the door. She picked up the phone and dialed 911. The phone wire had been cut. She raced into her bedroom closet and pulled out her husband’s .44 magnum. She watched her brother slice into her son’s bedroom door using his ax.
‘’Hey you son of a bitch, come get me,’’ Rachel howled.
Danny shuffled toward the angry woman. He raised his ax up high and Rachel fired three gun shots into her brother’s chest. He fell on the floor and the ax clattered against the hardwood floor. She stepped over her brother’s corpse and walked into her son’s bedroom. ‘’Are you alright,’’ Rachel asked.
Rachel kissed her little boy on the forehead. Margo held her little boy tight too and kissed him on his forehead too. ‘’What happened to the bad man,’’ David asked.
‘’He’s dead mommy, shot him.’’
‘’That bastard cut the phone wire can I us your cellphone to call the police Margo?’’
‘’Sure my purse is downstairs on the kitchen table.’’ Margo said.
Rachel stepped out into the hallway. She saw that her brother was missing and so was his ax.
‘’The killer’s gone.’’ Rachel yelled.
Margo stepped out of the bedroom and cried ‘’what?’’ Rachel’s jaw dropped when she saw Danny appear behind Margo. His ax glistened in the moonlight as he raised it up high in the sky. ‘’Duck,’’ Rachel screamed.
Margo ducked and Rachel fired a lucky shot between the maniac’s eyes. The killer dropped to his knees and fell flat on his face. He dropped the ax to the floor. Margo picked up the ax and chopped off the killer’s head. Blood splashed all over the walls and Margo’s face. The head popped right off like a cork off of a bottle wine. She dropped the ax and fell to her knees. She buried her face in her hands and began sobbing. ‘’What the fuck did I just do?’’
‘’I’m a Goddamn murderer,’’
‘’He was a killer babe it wasn’t your fault you were just protecting yourself,’’ Rachel said.
She placed a sympathetic hand on her friend’s shoulder. Margo and Rachel hugged each other. Now Rachel started crying as well. The two friends had been through so much through their friendship. Margo stood up and walked into the bathroom. She clicked on the bathroom light and closed the door behind her. There was cute, little, dolphin, designs all over the walls of the guest bathroom.
She heard what sounded someone talking in a drain. She lowered her head and placed it as close to the drain in the sink as possible. The voice was garbled and indecipherable but it was a voice nonetheless. Finally Margo was able to decode what the voice was saying. The voice shrieked out ‘’Kill the bitch, kill the bitch.’’ Gnarled hands reached out of the mirror and grabbed Margo by the shoulders. She screamed. Rachel ran to the bathroom and tried to open the door but it was locked.
Rachel jigged the door handle as Margo continued to scream from inside the bathroom. Alex and David ran into the hallway. ‘’What’s wrong with mommy? Is she hurt?’’ Alex asked.
Alex cried out. ‘’Mommy are you ok?’’
Suddenly the door swung open. Rachel stumbled forward into the bathroom. Margo walked out and she was dry as a Stephen Wright Joke. She was not covered in blood. She seemed to glow in her pretty, mulatto face. ‘’Are you ok,’’ Rachel asked.
‘’Yes I’m fine.’’
Alex ran up to his mommy and hugged her. ‘’Mommy, I’m so glad you’re ok.’’
Two weeks later Margo was at her house and she was drying her hair with a hair dryer. Her little boy was playing with a toy, sailboat in the bathtub. She heard Trenton Cole’s voice inside her head. ‘’Kill Alex,’’
Margo’s eyes went blank. Margo stared at her son for a minute. ‘’Say goodbye sweetheart,’’
‘’Why mommy, where am I going?’’
Margo tossed the hairdryer in the tub. The tub filled with a blinding flash of light. Electrical currents ripped through the water and split through the little boy’s body. He convulsed and jerked spasmodically as electricity tore through the boy’s body. His toes and head exploded. Margo just stared silently and wide eyed. She felt nothing inside herself. The specter who had had taken over her body was unsympathetic. Margo clicked off the bathroom light and staggered up the stairs. Before leaving the bathroom Margo grabbed a pair of scissors from the medicine cabinet.
She held the scissors behind her back as she climbed up the stairs. She ran her free hand over the banister. She walked into her bedroom and found her husband Ray was reading the bible while lying in bed. She whispered in her husband’s ear a sexy message and he smiled and turned off the light. Ray screamed as Margo plunged the scissors into Ray’s chest. Blood filled hi lungs and blood poured out of Ray’s chest and mouth. Margo shrieked and screamed as she stabbed Ray harder and faster.
Margo finally heard her husband make the final death rattle in his throat and she stopped stabbing him. She was covered in blood from her face to her clothes. She licked the blood from her lips. She walked over to her phone on the nightstand. She dialed Rachel’s phone number and waited for her to pick up.
‘’Hello,’’ Rachel answered.
‘’Hey this is Margo can I come over? I need to talk to you?’’
‘’Sure, I’ll be waiting for you dear; come on over.’’
‘’See you soon.’’
Crickets chirped as Margo climbed the steps on Rachel’s front porch. She knocked on the front door. The knocks rang out through the house. Rachel stood up from the kitchen table. ‘’I’m coming,’’ Rachel hollered. David and Herman were up in their beds asleep. Rachel walked across the living room and opened the door.
Margo stood at her front door. Her face and clothes were splattered with blood. ‘’What the Hell happened to you,’’ Rachel cried out.
‘’ I was attacked can I use your telephone?’’
‘’Sure, come in.’’
Margo walked into Rachel’s house. Rachel walked into the kitchen and poured herself a cup of coffee. Margo reached into her purse and pulled out the bloody scissors. Rachel walked back into the living room. She was carrying with her coffee mug. Margo was nowhere to be seen. ‘’Margo, where are you,’’ Rachel called out. No one answered.
Rachel climbed up the steps. The steps creaked as she climbed the steps. She stepped into David’s bedroom. She clicked on the light in her son’s bedroom and found him sleeping peacefully. Rachel searched under the bed but found no one in the bedroom. She heard some rustling in the closet. The closet door swung open and Margo shrieked as she leapt out of the closet.
She raised the scissors high above her head and lunged at her best friend. Rachel screamed and her son sprang up in bed. ‘’Ah,’’ David screamed.
Rachel drove her shoulder into Margo’s stomach and forced her into the dresser. Margo howled in pain as David ran into his daddy’s bedroom. He ran into his daddy’s bedroom and shook his father’s shoulder. ‘’Daddy Margo’s trying to kill mommy,’’ David shouted.
‘’What,’’ Herman said.
Herman tossed the blanket off of him and grabbed his gun from off of the top shelf in his bedroom closet. ‘’You stay here, daddy will be right back ok?’’
Herman raced off to his son’s bedroom and David locked the door to his father’s bedroom. When Herman burst into his son’s bedroom he found Margo had mounted his wife. Rachel was struggling as Margo gritted her teeth. Herman hollered at Margo. ‘’Hey bitch!’’
Margo looked up and Herman blasted Margo between the eyes. Her head exploded and she fell to the floor. She made a gentle thud as she hit the floor. Rachel ran into her husband’s arms and sobbed. Herman knocked on his bedroom door. ‘’David, open up, its daddy,’’ Herman stated.
David unlocked the door and swung it open. He ran up and hugged his father and mother. Two months later the Baxter family moved out of that house. The house was sold a year later to the Barnes family. The Barnes family consisted of three members. They were Amy, Patricia or Patty and Emily Barnes. For a week painters painted the house blood, red. They moved in around July fourteenth 2013.
Amy was the eldest child. She was sixteen and a poet. Emily was twelve and she was the athlete. Patricia or Patty was the matriarch of the Barnes clan. She was a teacher but she was off for the summer because of summer vacation. Emily had her own trophy room in this new house and Amy had her own office where she could write. Amy sat in her new vinyl, leather chair and felt the cushy seat caress her back.
Amy sat at her laptop. She began typing a poem that she was planning on selling to a poetry magazine for a couple hundred dollars. She was listening to country music on her I pod. She did not even hear someone knocking on her office door. Emily walked into her sister’s office anyway. Emily was dressed in her softball uniform. ‘’Hey Amy it’s time to head to my softball game; it’ the championship game!’’
‘’You ever hear of knocking you little brat?’’
Emily stuck her tongue out at her big sister and stormed out of the study. After the softball game the Barnes family walked into a local diner. The joint was stylized after a 1950’s diner. They had an authentic jukebox that played hits from the 1950’s. After the meal the family piled into Patty’s Blue, Ford Pickup truck and headed home. Later that night Emily was lying in her bed staring up at the ceiling. She heard scratching under her bed.
Emily dragged the blanket up to her chin. She stayed as perfectly quiet as possible for two whole minutes. The scratching sounds grew louder. Her bed started shaking and thumping up and down. Emily’s eyes grew wide with fright. She tried to scream but no noise would come. The bed stopped thumping and shaking and Emily grabbed a blanket and a pillow and walked into the living room. She lied on the couch and turned on the television. Soon she fell asleep to the gentle glow and hum of the television light.
Emily awoke to the smell of bacon sizzling. She staggered into the kitchen and sat down at a seat at the end of the kitchen table. She saw her mother cooking breakfast while wearing an apron that read ‘’Mom Knows Best.’’ Patty looked back at her daughter and smiled. ‘’Hey sweetie how well did you sleep?’’
‘’Ok, I guess.’’
‘’I noticed that you slept on the couch, how come?’’
‘’ My bed was shaking.’’
‘’What, your bed was shaking?’’
‘’Yeah, it really freaked me out.’’
‘’Maybe you were just having leg spasms.’’
‘’I doubt it mom that bed was really thumping up and down.’’
Patty never said another word. After breakfast Amy locked herself in her study and furiously began typing twenty poems to put in a collection. After fifteen minutes a loose leaf notebook started to slide across the desk. Amy did not even notice this at first. The words she was typing reflected in her blue eyes as she typed. The notebook fell to the floor. Amy picked up the notebook and continued typing.
She started hearing voices mumbling to her. She could not distinguish what they were saying but she knew the voices were human.
She walked over to the door and unlocked it and poked her head out the door. She was all alone. She shrugged as she shut the door and sat back down in front of her laptop. She gasped when she looked at the screen and saw there was some writing that she had not written in her document. The unknown writing said ‘’you, will all die soon.’’
Amy scratched her head and erased the message. As she began typing again a creepy face appeared on the screen. The computer began screaming. She muted the speakers but the computer still screamed. The books on her bookshelves began to rumble and leap off of their shelves. The light bulb that hung over Amy’s head began to swing and flicker. Amy tried to unlock the office door but even when it was unlocked the door would not open.
The computer stopped screaming and the lights stopped flickering and the books stopped rattling and leaping. She ran up to talk to her sister. Amy needed someone to talk to about the experience she just had and she knew her mom would think she was totally nuts. She knocked on her little sister’s bedroom door. ‘’Come in,’’ Emily said.
Amy entered her sister’s bedroom. The bed sheets on Emily’s bed read NFL. Over her bed a poster of Prince Fielder hung. She was watching an old Cleveland Browns game on ESPN. ‘’Hey, do you want to hear something weird?’’
‘’I think our house is haunted,’’ Amy whispered.
‘’Why do you think that,’’
‘’I just had a weird experience in my study have you had anything weird happen to you while you’ve been here?’’
Emily nodded. ‘’I heard scratching under my bed last night.’’
‘’That’s totally weird.’’
‘’Totally,’’ groaned Emily.
Two months later, her mother brought a case home that read Sam on the front of it. The case was black and the letters were written in big, bold, red letters. ‘’What’s that mom,’’ Amy asked.
Patty smiled as she sat down on the sofa and bent down and unlatched the trunk. She pulled out a ventriloquist dummy. The dummy had wild, red hair and glowing, green eyes. His face was shiny and he had a slight overbite. Hello, my name is Sam; I just flew in from Detroit and boy are my arms tired,’’ Patty made the dummy say. Amy knew the joke was terrible but they laughed anyway. ‘’That’s really neat mom but why did you get a new dummy? I really liked Harrison,’’ Amy said.
‘’Harrison was old and falling apart and besides I figured Sam would spice up the act.’’ Patty boasted.
Amy glared at the dummy and shuddered. The way the glowing, green eyes of the dummy stared into her own eyes filled Amy’s heart with dread. There was something about that dummy that was a little too human and yet a little too inhumane for Amy to feel totally comfortable with. Amy and Emily were out raking leaves in the front leaves on October 1st. Emily looked up and noticed that the dummy was seated in at the window gawking at her.
At that moment a beefy boy named Tucker Williams sped by on his ten speed bike. He was fat, ugly and annoying. His face was covered with freckles and he had curly red hair which many kids in the neighborhood deemed a ginger, Jew fro. He made a weird face at Emily and Emily stuck her tongue out at the boy.
‘’I take it you two don’t get along very well,’’ Amy said.
‘’He’s such a creep. He’s always, teasing me: and calling me a tomboy.’’ Emily complained.
‘’Some guys are just like that; they’re creeps and have no lives.’’
Emily smiled and nodded.
‘’I guess you’re right.’’
The dummy continued to watch the sisters. His eyes darted back and forth inside his wooden head. The sky was beginning to darken. It was dusk and the air was beginning to cool. A chill tore through the girl’s bodies like a tornado through Kansas. When Amy walked into the house to grab a soda Tucker rode by the house again. He dropped his bike at the end of the driveway and walked up the gravel driveway.
‘’Hey it’s not Halloween you can take off your mask ha hah,’’ Tucker croaked.
‘’You’re not a walrus you don’t need all that blubber,’’ Emily hissed.
Tucker shoved the girl down and pulled out a razorblade from his boot. He placed the blade against Emily’s cheek and gritted his teeth. ‘’If you don’t watch how you talk to me I’ll slice you open and feed your heart to my dog’s do you understand?’’
Emily nodded. Her eyes were now wider than satellite dishes. Tucker grinned evilly as he turned and rode off on his bicycle. Emily ran off into the house crying.
The moon was a thumbnail like sliver that night as the dummy snuck out of the house. He crawled in through Tucker’s window. Tucker snored like a wild boar. Sam gazed at the boy and grinned. ‘’I’m going to kill you!’’ The dummy whispered.
Sam snuck into Tucker’s little sister’s bedroom. He took some jump rope from the closet. He walked into the kitchen and retrieved a meat cleaver from the kitchen drawer. He raced up the stairs and when he got back into the bedroom he tied up the child. ‘’Wake up, pork chop,’’ Sam whispered.
The boy woke up and started to scream but the dummy slid the blade across the boy’s throat.’’
‘’Blood gushed out of the neck slit. Blood spilled onto the dummy’s shoes. The dummy dropped the cleaver on the floor. The dummy climbed out of the window and raced to the Barnes’ house. The next day the television was on in the living room while Amy and Emily were eating breakfast. Patty sat on the couch. The news woman on the news gripped her microphone firmly, and authoritatively. Her pant suit was red and fiery like her hair. She looked slightly seductive with cool and calm and slightly authoritative.
She looked like a smart woman of the new millennium. She looked like one of those typical, leftist feminists that thought any man who paid you a compliment was only being nice to you because secretly he wanted to fuck you. When the newswoman spoke she looked right into the camera as if she could glance into your soul or some corny shit like that. ‘’Twelve year old Tucker Williams was found in his bedroom early this morning in bed with his throat slit.’’
Patty squirmed on the sofa. ‘’That’s revolting,’’ Patty said.
Patty walked into the kitchen and placed a hand on her youngest daughter’s shoulder. ‘’Sweetheart they found your classmate Tucker Williams dead this morning; he had been murdered.’’ Patty whispered. She choked back tears.
‘’Best news I’ve heard all day,’’ Emily muttered.
Patty shook her finger in her daughter’s face. ‘’How dare you speak ill of the dead young lady,’’
‘’ I never cry when mongrels die, not even Old Yeller.’’
‘’Young lady you need to learn that good Christian people forgive and forget.’’
Emily crossed her arms and grunted. Emily loved Jesus and God just as much as any Christian would and should but that Tucker Williams was real bad news. He smoked cigarettes and pulled knives on little girls. He was also always peaking at his father’s Playboy magazines he had stolen from under his daddy’s mattress. Every day at recess Tucker would be there under the monkey bars just gawking at the magazine with his loser best friend Slim Jenkins.
Slim was already six feet tall and skinny as a broom and twice as dense. He had a damn overbite and square teeth that were as green as the day is long. Emily did not know who had murdered that child but whoever it was Emily felt like she wanted to shake their hand because in her mind, they had done the world a big service by killing that kid before hye went to prison for robbing a convenience store or maybe killing someone himself.
The girls headed off to school that day. It was a lovely day in October. The sun was actually warm and friendly. It was not typical of October weather in Ohio but it was a treat or so Amy thought. Amy could not help but smile because when she arrived at school she received a big surprise. The surprise came in the form of six foot three inch Jake Stone. Jake was the quarterback for the Crescent Valley Screaming Eagles. Whenever Jake passed any of the ladies in the halls of Crescent Valley High School their panties would get wet. Even some of the female staff had daydreams of sliding his manhood between their thighs. One young Spanish teacher in particular had to go work at a different high school because it was rumored that she gave Jake a stinky pinky in the stall of the woman’s bathroom.
Jake walked over next to Amy’s locker as she was grabbing her math book out of it. ‘’Hey, Amy right?’’
‘’Do you have a date for Homecoming this Saturday night?’’
‘’Would you like to go with me this Saturday night,’’
‘’I’d love to.’’
‘’Great! I’ll pick you up at your house at 7:45 ok?’’
‘’Sounds great see you then,’’
Amy’s heart fluttered. She practically skipped to her next class which was math. She hated math but her cares were as light as her heart. She was the new girl and already she had a date with the cutest boy in school. She smiled as her teacher Mr. Carlson droned on about quadratic equations. She drew a big heart on her notebook as she envisioned gliding across the dance floor with her date, Jake Stone.
She imagined kissing him goodnight on her front porch under a starlit sky. When Amy arrived home she headed up to her bedroom and put on some short, red shorts that were plenty stretchy. She closed her bedroom door and lied down on her bed. She started to slide her hand in her pants but a knock on her bedroom door stopped that foolishness immediately. Emily quietly stepped into the bedroom and sat down on the edge of the bed. Amy sat up and folded her arms across her chest. ‘’What do you want,’’ Amy asked.
Her voice was filed with slight agitation. ‘’There’s something really wrong with that dummy mom brought home from that antique store.’’
‘’Well mom found the dummy’s shoes in the garbage and she said they were bloody.’’
Amy chuckled. ‘’I doubt it was blood, I’m sure it was just red paint or something like that.’’
‘’Do you think the dummy is alive and it killed Tucker?’’
‘’Ha hah are you serious? Dummies don’t commit murders that junk only happen in cheesy horror movies.’’
‘’Listen, before mom bought the dummy, we were convinced that the house was haunted right?’’
‘’So, maybe whatever was haunting the house has attached itself to the dummy and is using the dummy as an avatar.’’
‘’I think you’ve been watching too many scary movies.’’
‘’Look there is something really weird going on in this house don’t you want to know what it is?’’
‘’I know what’s going on in this house. I have a little sister with way too big an imagination.’’
Emily bowed her head and shook it. ‘’You’re hopeless,’’ Emily mumbled as she walked out of the bedroom. Her shoulders stooped and she hung her head. Emily stomped off angrily to her bedroom. She slammed her bedroom door shut. She sat on the edge of her bed and balled her hands into fists.
‘’Stupid Amy, there’s something going on with that dummy and I’m going to figure out what it is,’’ Emily mumbled bitterly.
Finally Saturday night arrived. Amy came down the stairs dressed in a sparkly, purple dress with matching pumps. Her blonde, hair was pulled up in a bun and sprayed heavily. Her blues glimmered brilliantly in the light of the living room. Patty snapped five or six pictures with her Polaroid rapid fire.
‘’You look beautiful sweetheart,’’ Patty gushed.
She placed the bulky, camera on the coffee table and hugged her daughter and kissed her on her cheek. Patty released her daughter from her arms and watched her walk out the front door. Patty wiped the tears from her eyes and headed up the stairs. She grabbed the dummy from the trunk in her bedroom closet. She sat down on the bed and placed the dummy in her lap.
She looked in the mirror and puffed her chest out. She sat upright and looked confident. She practiced her ventriloquism for two full hours before finally placing the little dummy back into his trunk. It was after midnight when Amy finally walked through the front door. Her mom and sister were both asleep. She saw a mini figure sitting at the top of the stairs. ‘’Emily, is that you,’’ Amy called out in a semi whisper.
There was no reply. She climbed up the stairs as she gripped the banister slightly. She clicked on the hallway light and saw the ventriloquist propped up in a seated position with his knees bent. His hands rested comfortably in his lap. ‘’How’d you get here,’’ Amy asked.
She picked up the dummy and knocked on her mom’s bedroom door. There was no reply. She wandered into the dark bedroom anyway. She glanced over at her mother who was snoring gently. Patty’s back was to her daughter. She slept on her side. ‘’I’m alive,’’ Amy heard a voice whisper to her. She shrugged it off and placed Sam in his trunk. Amy tiptoed out of her mother’s bedroom and quietly closed the bedroom door behind her.
She heard her sister scream. Amy raced off to her sister’s bedroom and flung the door open. She clicked on the light and saw her little sister shivering and sweating and screaming as she sat up in bed. ‘’What’s wrong, sis,’’ Amy asked.
Amy plopped down beside her little sister and wrapped her arm around Emily’s shoulder. ‘’I had a nightmare.’’
‘’Sam was trying to kill me.’’
Emily nodded. ‘’It was just a nightmare you know? Dreams can’t hurt you.’’
‘’They said on the news, the fingerprints found on the murder weapon that was used to kill Tucker had Trenton Cole’s fingerprints on them.’’
‘’Who’s Trenton Cole?’’
‘’He was a serial killer who was shot and killed by his wife. He terrorized Crescent Valley a long time ago; what if his soul was trapped inside mom’s, ventriloquist dummy?’’
‘’That stuff only happens in movies; would you get real huh,’’
‘’Yeah get real would you kid? That stuff, only happens in the movies.’’ The dummy croaked.
Sam was standing in the doorway of Emily’s bedroom. He leaned against the frame of the door. His arms were folded across his chest. ‘’You think I’m Trenton Cole huh kid?’’
He approached the terrified little girl and placed his hand on her knee. ‘’You’re right kid he, he.’’
Emily shuddered as the dummy glared into the young girl’s eyes. He ran out of the bedroom. Amy took off her pumps and ran after the dummy and Emily followed behind her big sister. The girls poked their heads out of the room and scanned their eyes to the left and right but they never saw the dummy. They hurried around the house. They noticed that the front door was open. The girls raced to the front door and peered into the darkness.
Amy ran out of the house barefoot. She was followed by her sister. The girls walked through the neighborhood searching for their crazed dummy. The air was cold. The girl’s saw their breath as they walked the cool streets of their neighborhood. The houses in the girls’ neighborhood looked more sinister painted in darkness. The entire neighborhood was dead and dormant. The shadows looked menacing as potential danger lurked quietly around each alley and behind every house, hedge.
The girls saw Sam sneak off into a dark, alley. Amy and Emily followed the mischievous dummy into the creepy alley. Shadows bent and twisted to make horrid shapes and sights. The wind whistled like a maniac killer blowing into a dirty, harmonica. They heard the dummy laugh and they forged ahead. Emily shivered. She was dressed in slippers and pajamas. Amy shivered too. She wore her strapless dress and no shoes.
Soon the girl’s came to a brick wall that was an obvious dead end. ‘’What do we do now, Amy?’’
‘’I guess we go on home; the dummy will show up eventually.’’
‘’That’s what I’m afraid of.’’
The girls walked on home. They were both so exhausted that both girls fell asleep as their heads hit their pillows. The next day Amy awoke at about noon. When Amy arrived in the kitchen her sister was already seated at the kitchen table. She slouched. Her elbows were resting on the table. She was holding her head up with her hands. ‘’What’s wrong, you still worried about when the doll will turn up next,’’ Amy whispered in her little sister’s ear.
Emily nodded. ‘’I’m scared this creep will hurt one of us real bad.’’
Amy wrapped her arm around her sister’s shoulder and gave it a gentle squeeze. ‘’ promise you I won’t let anything happen to you or mom ok?’’
‘’Ok.’’ Emily muttered.
Patty walked down into the kitchen fifteen minutes later. She was carrying the dummy under her right arm. She wore a pink bathrobe and her black hair was a mess. ‘’Girls how did the dummy get all dirty,’’ Patty asked.
Both girls just looked in horror at the devious dummy. ‘’I don’t know mom,’’ Amy said before shoveling a mouthful of cereal into her mouth.
‘’Yeah, I don’t know either, ha hah,’’
Patty shot her daughters a suspicion filled look. Amy and Emily swallowed hard. Patty felt it in her gut that her daughters were obviously hiding something from her but as a mother with two young teens or a teenager and soon to be teenager on the October 30th Patty decided it was best to pick her battles very carefully. Patty brushed off the dirt and leaves clinging to his clothes. Finally it was Halloween night and that meant one thing. It was time for Emily’s Halloween/ birthday party. Emily felt it would always be better to celebrate her birthday on Halloween since it would make for a much cooler birthday party if she waited.
Orange streamers hung overhead. In big, bold, black letters the streamers read Happy 13th Birthday. Black streamers also hung over head and the message on them was written in big, bold, orange letters. They read: Happy Halloween. Patty stayed up in her bedroom reading a book to give the kids privacy for their party. Amy was out at a monster movie with her date from Homecoming, Jake Stone.
Patty raced down the stairs and made a b line for her daughter. ‘’Have you seen Sam?’’
Patty whispered to her daughter.
‘’I can’t find the dummy anywhere.’’
Emily’s jaw hung wide open. ‘’Oh no, Amy,’’ Emily thought.
Amy sat in a parked car at Inspiration point. She kissed Jake but that was it. ‘’I think you better take me home, Jake,’’ Amy said.
‘’Come on baby, don’t you think we should fool around a little?’’
‘’No I don’t. I like you a lot but I’m afraid I’m saving myself for marriage.’’
‘’I knew I shouldn’t have dated a sophomore.’’
‘’Is that the only reason you dated me?’’
Amy’s mouth hung open.
‘’Take me home now, Jake.’’
‘’What do you mean no?’’
‘’I mean you and I are going to fuck,’’
Jake tried forcing himself onto Amy but she fought him off long enough before he lost interest and drove her home. He hit three trashcans and almost hit a raccoon; he was driving home so fast. Amy slammed the car door and stomped off angrily into the house. Out of the backseat Sam popped up and smashed a hammer into Jake’s skull. The blood poured out of Jake’s skull and he fell, face down against the horn.
Patty and Amy and Emily walked outside and they all found Jake was dead. Patty screamed and Amy and Emily just stared in horror. They saw the evil dummy was seated in the back seat holding a bloody hammer. Fifteen minutes later police officers put the dummy in a trash bag and the hammer in its own bag as evidence. The party quickly dispersed and the teens and their mother quietly retired to the living room. The police station was burned down to the ground an hour later and all the police inside were killed in the fire. The dummy carried the bloody hammer back to the Barnes’ house which used to be Rachel Howard’s house.
‘’How did that dummy get into Jake’s car and why was he holding the hammer?’’ Patty asked.
The girls all three sat together on the sofa. ‘’Mom, the doll’s alive,’’ Emily proclaimed.
‘’What,’’ Patty asked.
‘’Its true mom, we’ve seen the doll walk and talk. We think it might be possessed by the spirit of some psycho named Trenton Cole.’’ Amy said.
‘’Ha hah, are you girl’s serious?’’
‘’Yes mom we’re totally serious.’’ Amy said.
‘’You guys are trying to put one over on your old mom huh?’’
‘’No mom we’re telling you the truth; that dummy is totally evil. It killed Tucker too.’’
‘’Stop with this nonsense girls, there’s no such thing as killer dummies.’’
The front door swung open and the dummy appeared in the doorway. He held the bloody hammer in his hand that he had murdered Jake with. ‘’Boo.’’
‘’Oh my God,’’ Patty screamed.
The girl’s ran past the psycho dummy and piled into Patty’s, blue, pickup truck. The girls laid rubber as they sped down the darkened road. None of the ladies said a word as they drove down that eerie stretch of road that made up highway 690. Soon the ladies came to a quiet inn called the Red Rooster Inn. The Barnes girls piled out of the truck and walked into the inn. Behind the counter of the inn the girls saw a bald, thin man about sixty five years of age. He wore blue jeans and brown hiking , boots and a red, plaid shirt.
‘’You ladies need a room for the night?’’
‘’ Yes, do you have a phone?’’
‘’No, I’m sorry,’’ The man said.
‘’ Damn, well we’ll take a room for the night.’’
‘’Room seven is cozy.’’
‘’Fine, we’ll take it. How much do I owe you,’’
The man chuckled as he waved his hand back and forth. ‘’I’m not going to charge you a thing.’’
‘’Well ever since you walked in I got the sense that you had the devil after you and I sensed you could use a guardian angel.’’
For some reason this made all, the girl’s smile. ‘’God works in mysterious ways girls.’’ Patty told her daughters.
‘’He sure does ladies: he sure does.’’ The Innkeeper said.
The women retired to their bedroom and fell asleep. In the middle of the night Emily heard the door open. She sat upright in bed and felt for the light switch on her bedside lamp. She gasped when she saw the dummy standing beside her bed. His eyes were crazed and his hammer was bloody. His cheeks were stained with dried blood.
‘’Mom, Sam’s back!’’ Emily squealed.
Amy and Patty sprang up in bed. Patty chucked her shoe at the dummy and he lost his balance and fell over. Sam dropped the hammer to the ground. Emily popped out of bed and grabbed the bloody hammer. She smashed the dummy’s face, legs, hands and feet. Soon he was just a big hunk of saw dust. The nightmare was seemingly over. The dummy had been destroyed.
Panic rushed over the girls when they realized that the killer’s spirit could not be destroyed. They wondered if Trenton Cole’s spirit was finally burning in Hell or if indeed it was still lurking in the shadows just waiting to devour the Barnes family or any other family unfortunate enough to battle the crazed killer from beyond the grave. The Barnes family moved out of Crescent Valley two months later. The blue, pickup truck rattled down the highway.
The family was headed to Florida. Amy wore her Detroit Tigers baseball cap and blue jeans and a pink t shirt. Crescent Valley had been a Hell to so many people that it felt good for Patty to be able to leave it in the rearview mirror. They arrived at their new home in seventeen hours.
Everyone was so jetlagged they all fell asleep. The next day Amy and Emily went down to the beach. They smiled as they dipped into the water. The water was cool. Night soon fell on the beach. The girls walked back to their beach house. They walked past the light house. Up in the lighthouse they noticed a blue, light. It was so brilliant that it should have burned their eyes to stare at but instead it hypnotized the girls so much that they stared open jawed in amazement at the strange, wonderful light.
The girls were so intrigued by the magnificent light that they entered the lighthouse and climbed the seemingly endless series of stairs. By the time girls climbed to the top of the lighthouse they were panting like mongrels. When they arrived at the top of the steps the girls caught a glimpse of the most beautiful angel they had ever seen. She emanated a brilliant, blue light. Her gown was also blue and so was her crown.
Her wings were as golden as a thousand burning suns. She sang a harmonious song that was as beautiful and regal as she was. She smiled at the children and the children smiled back at her. Amy and Emily watched in panic as they watched a ship heading towards the lighthouse. ‘’Oh my, gosh that ship is going to crash right into the lighthouse.
Amy and Emily clung to each other tightly. ‘’Please God save us,’’ Amy cried out.
The angel glided over to the children and placed her finger to both their lips. ‘’Hush,’’ the angel whispered.
She spun the light around and waved her hand and Amy and Emily cheered as they watched the ship turn around and head back in the direction in which they came. The angel disappeared and both girls hurried out of that light house as fast as they could. The girls looked at the cross that hung on their wall over their kitchen table and smiled.
‘’I guess that man at the inn, back at Crescent Valley, really did send us an angel.’’ Amy said.
For the first time in six years the family said grace before their dinner and Emily led the family in prayer.
Back in Crescent Valley a man named Chuck Lane moved into the house that the Barnes family used to inhabit. Chuck moved in with his dog Buck exactly six months after the Barnes family moved out. Chuck was a blind man. He was sixty seven years old and he was a retired Navy seal and carpenter. He had spent the last ten years farming on a farm in Iowa. He moved to Crescent Valley after he had been afflicted with arthritis.
He sat on the back porch sipping on a cold, glass of lemonade two months after he had moved in. Chuck rocked gently back and forth in his rocking chair. His St. Bernard Buck lied down beside his owner’s feet. ‘’I’ll tell you what Bucky boy, country living is the best kind of living if you ask me,’’ Chuck stated firmly.
Buck just kept snoozing. Buck heard a noise and he sprang up. Buck was two hundred pounds and pretty spry for a big dog. Buck was about six years old but loved to hunt. Every morning at six o clock Chuck would let his dog out to pee and Buck would be gone for about two or three hours hunting gophers in a nearby field. Once Buck caught a rabbit and brought what remained of it up to the front porch one morning.
Chuck saw its ribcage glistened with fresh blood and its skull had been pulled from the fleshy pouch still attached to spinal column of the dead creature. The dog licked Chuck’s hand and Chuck had to wipe the blood off of his hand with a greasy rag he used to clean the carburetor of his 1973 Chevrolet Pickup. Two months later Chuck had been hunting up in Texas and a rattlesnake spit venom into old Chuck’s eyes.
The doctor’s removed the poison but Chuck was left blind. Buck leapt off the front porch and pounced atop an opossum. It had scurried under the front porch but Buck grabbed the fellow in his jowls and growled. He bit through the critter’s neck and instantly severed the poor creature’s spinal cord. The dog dug a hole and buried his trophy in the hole. The dog blue eyes glimmered in the darkness.
‘’Come on boy, it’s time to go inside,’’ Chuck called to the dog.
Buck ran into the house and Chuck followed close behind him. Chuck headed off to bed and Buck slept on the couch. The next day Chuck woke up at five- fifty eight and climbed out of bed. He went into the living room and heard his big, old St. Bernard pawing at the kitchen door. Chuck let his dog out and shut the screen door shut. He fixed himself some fresh eggs and some bacon.
He made a fresh pot of coffee and sat down and ate. After breakfast Chuck went into the bathroom and defecated. When he was finished he walked out of the bathroom and headed into living room. He listened to the Reds, baseball game on the radio. He grimaced when he heard how bad the Reds were getting blasted by the Detroit Tigers.
‘’Goddamn, Verlander,’’ Chuck grumbled.
He clicked off the game and listened to one of his audiobooks on cassette tape. The audiobook was ‘’Cujo.’’ Chuck was convinced the narrator was a ‘’fag’’ as he called him. Soon Buck dissolved away and soon he was only a figurative shell. Trenton Cole’s vengeful spirit took over the dog and Buck’s eyes even turned green.
Buck happened upon a creek. By the creek he met a bare chested boy in blue jeans who wore a straw hat. He held a fishing pole. He chuckled with glee as he felt a fish bite. He reeled in the fish and in no time at all, the boy caught a five, pound bass. The boy held onto the bass and grinned with glee.
‘’That’s the prettiest bass I ever did catch,’’ The boy said.
The dog looked at the bass and licked his lips hungrily. ‘’I guess you’re pretty hungry aren’t you boy?’’
‘’Well I reckon I better give you this here fish on account you’re big enough to crush me with one paw and I’m guessing you’re just hungry enough to do it.’’
The boy tossed the fish to the dog and the dog leapt up and caught the fish with his mouth. The dog quickly gobbled up the fish. The boy reached up and patted the dog atop his head. ‘’You’re pretty friendly aren’t you?’’
‘’I never was allowed to have a dog on account of the fact that pop couldn’t afford to feed one; I reckon that’s just how it is sometimes eh boy?’’
‘’I’ll tell you what that nigger that killed all them, girls a couple a couple of months ago after raping them wouldn’t break into our house if you was our guard dog. He’d a taken one look at you and said I ain’t setting foot in that house.’’
‘’I bet you’d eat us into the poor house wouldn’t you?’’
The boy bent down and whispered into the dog’s ear. ‘’You want to see something really cool?’’
The boy took off and raced toward a nearby field. ‘’This here is the best place in the world you know why?’’
‘’It’s because it’s my happy place. Whenever I need to get away from my troubles I just come here and play games like tag and hide and from go seek with my best friend Roscoe Flats.’’
Soon the dog heard, screams coming from about twenty yards ahead. The dog and boy raced through the corn field and found the bulky black, rapist atop a defenseless, white woman. Her dress was torn. The rapist wore blue overalls and a yellow undershirt. ‘’Hey boy, you best be getting off of that lady before I sick my dog on you.’’ The brave boy threatened.
‘’Get out of here before I kill you and skin that mongrel of yours.’’
‘’ Is you deaf nigger? I said you best be leaving that white girl alone.’’
The bald, black man released his grip from around the woman’s neck and stood up. He pulled a switch blade from inside his right hiking boot. ‘’I’m going to skin you alive, kid.’’ The rapist growled.
Soon Trenton inside the dog, saw some of his own wife in the terrified woman’s eyes. Buck leapt up and bit the rapist’s hand. He howled like a beast as he released the blade and let it drop to floor. The dog tore through bone. When the dog released the wicked man’s hand it felt numb. He could not even lift it and it felt like it was missing. The dog knocked the wicked man on his ass and sprawled on top of him. The dog dug his teeth into the man’s throat. He clamped his teeth deeper into the man’s throat until he severed the voice box and he felt the trachea collapse. He ripped the throat right out of the rapist.
The dog felt himself fill with an elation that rivaled even sex as he heard the rapist drown in his own blood. He had just murdered the worst kind of person there was a rapist and a murderer. The rapist made gurgling sounds as he drowned in his own blood. He watched the man’s eyes roll back into his head. Buck watched the man’s foot shake, spasmodically a few more times before he was completely still.
The woman hugged the boy and Buck as well. She patted the dog on top of his head. The dog, woman and the boy soon parted ways. The sun was setting and Buck knew it was time to be heading back home. Before he left Buck found out the boy’s name was Jeremiah Jenkins. The young woman was named Hannah Mae Cornwall. The dog trotted home. Even as he was drifting off to sleep Buck thought of his new friends. It felt good to help people again. The next day the sun poked up barely over the horizon and Buck knew it was the dawning of a brand new day.
Chuck sat up and placed his feet on the hardwood floor. He walked across the room any put on his bathrobe. Chuck let the dog out of the house and Buck went back to the creek. He saw Jeremiah sitting on the bank of the creek. He had his lure in the water as he reclined against a big rock. He smiled at his furry friend. ‘’Hey boy, you come back for more fish,’’ Jeremiah asked.
The sun shone brightly overhead. Warm sunshine reached down and sprinkled itself all over the boy’s face. The dog panted as he watched the boy reel in another bass. The boy fed the dog another bass. He petted the massive dog along its back and shoulders. He felt the thick muscles tense up as the dog stood over the fish and tore through the scales. He licked the bones clean. He licked the remnants of blood and fish guts off his lips and followed the boy into the field.
The dog felt something inside him change. For many years Trenton Cole had seen himself as an avenger. He looked at himself as an avenging angel who killed those people who were evil and wicked in their hearts. These were the people that deserved to die and Trenton had taken it upon himself to eliminate these wicked people from the realm of the living.
Now with his new k-9 avatar Trenton felt he enjoyed killing. It had become an addiction. The bestial dog began growling at the boy. The fur on the dog’s back stood straight up. He arched his back and his green eyes filled with rage. Jeremiah’s eyes grew wide.’’ What’s wrong, boy,’’ Jeremiah cried out.
The dog lunged at the boy sprinted through the seemingly endless cornfield. He ran into countless dead ends as he weaved in and out of the various rows of corn stocks. He eventually wandered onto the property of the farmer who owned the property. The farmer appeared in the doorway. He was tall and lean and wore blue overall suspenders. He held a shotgun as he stood on his front porch. The boy screamed as the dog ran off into the cornfield and the farmer shot at the dog. The bullet caught the massive dog at the base of the spine.
The dog lied down in the field. The blood flowed from the dog’s gaping wound. The dog watched his life flash before his eyes. He saw Molly standing in the kitchen as she held that shotgun in her hand. He saw all those people he killed and he heard hoof prints thumping across the ground. He saw a hooded figure, who, was seven feet tall riding a black horse. The horse’s mane was fiery and orangey. The horse was pulling a black carriage.
The horse neighed. The hooded figure reached out his hand and grabbed Trenton’s soul by the hand and led him off to Hell. The dog’s blood seeped into the soil and therefore, contaminated the local corn supply. The entire town soon went insane. Mother’s turned against daughters and father’s turned against their sons.
A young couple moved into Crescent Valley. Their names were Judy and Frank Johnson. They moved in next to Chuck. Chuck had hung himself shortly after hearing his dog was dead. Judy and Frank watched as the movers piled their furniture into their new house. That Sunday evening Judy heard someone knocking on the front door as she was cooking supper. She was cooking biscuits, homemade fried chicken and corn on the cob.
She pulled off her apron and answered the front door. She saw a thin, tall man standing on her front porch. His eyes were green, yet somewhat kind. He flashed a warm smile at Judy and she smiled back. The man clutched his bible tightly in his bony, hands.
‘’How are you on this fine, summer evening,’’ The preacher said.
‘’I’m well, may I help you?’’
The man removed his hat and spoke gently. ‘’My name Joseph Henry; I’m a local pastor at Southern Baptist Church on Spring Street and I wanted to give you this pamphlet.’’
Judy opened the door just enough so the pastor could hand her a pamphlet. ‘’Thanks for the pamphlet pastor but I’m afraid my husband and I are catholic,’’
The pastor smiled and tipped his hat. ‘’We’re all knights in Christ’s service.’’
Goodbye, miss,’’ the pastor said.
‘’Goodbye,’’ Judy replied.
The pastor walked off and Judy continued to fix supper. The two teens with shaved heads, waited in the bushes. They approached as he was heading toward his car. The two punks stepped out of the bushes. They wielded razorblades. They grabbed the old man by his arms and forced him down to the ground. They laughed as the pastor soiled himself.
‘’Dear lord help me,’’ The pastor cried out.
The skinheads sliced into the pastor’s stomach and cheek. He cried out to Heaven but no one helped the preacher. He screamed until one of the punks slit his throat. They ran off and left the body there in the driveway. A pack of hungry dogs descended upon the corpse and dragged it off into a wooded area. Frank was too sick to eat. Judy ate alone.
Judy finished dinner and washed the dishes. She went to sleep that night and was treated to an incredible nightmare. She felt an ax in her hand. She casually walked into her bedroom and split her husband’s skull in two. She woke screaming. Her sheer, pink nightgown was drenched in sweat. Her husband groaned.
‘’What’s the matter?’’
‘’I dreamt I murdered you with an ax.’’
‘’Is that all? Well goodnight.’’
‘’Frank I’m totally serious that dream really scared me.’’
‘’You know it’s only a nightmare try to go back to sleep.’’
Judy lied down but she waited another two hours before she, finally went back to sleep. The next day when Frank walked down the stairs he found his living room had been totally trashed. The sofas were slashed open. The walls were splattered with pig’s blood. A butchered pig lied on the floor of the living room. The smell was so horrendous that Frank stifled a gag.
His wife stepped into the living room and said nothing. ‘’What’s going on in here,’’ Judy asked.
‘’I don’t know Jude, I just don’t know.’’
When Frank looked outside he saw a swarm of twenty people descending upon his house. Black clouds amassed overhead. Heavy, rain poured from the sky. The people carried an assortment of weapons. They carried chainsaws, chains and pitchforks and even baseball bats and axes. They surrounded the house like they were a zombie horde. For Frank and Judy it was their apocalypse. The horde smashed through the front door and broke the windows.
Judy screamed as she was sucked into the crowd. She was beaten with chains and raped with baseball bats and dismembered by chainsaws. Frank fought through the voracious horde of killers and escaped into his Hemme, Dodge Ram. He sped through the streets of the town of Crescent Valley. He fought back tears as he thought of his wife being raped and butchered by that zombie like horde back at the house.
He stopped at a diner to call the police. The police arrived and when Frank walked outside to meet the police officers the officers opened fire upon the harmless man. Frank fell to his knees as the blood poured from his lips and lungs and chest wounds. Frank fell, face down into the dirt and the same horde that had murdered Judy descended upon the police officers. The police officers gunned down the horde and next turned the guns on themselves.
Crescent Valley soon became a ghost town. Farmers from the next town over received the corn left over from farms in Crescent Valley from the farmers who were left un affected by the corn’s madness inducing contamination.
Havoc in Fairdale
Toby Copeland woke up one Saturday and placed his feet on the carpeted floor. He walked across the carpet and received a slight shock when he squeezed the doorknob. ‘’Ouch,’’ Toby said.
Toby peed for what seemed for twenty minutes. Toby walked down the stairs. He saw his brother, Michael seated at the kitchen table. Michael wore a sleeveless, dark, blue shirt and a backwards hat with the white Nike check. His jeans looked gray and faded. His arms, although skinny, were well toned.
‘’What are you going to be for Halloween tonight?’’
‘’I was going to be a vampire or something like that.’’
The full orange moon appeared to be laughing that night as Michael walked with his little brother. Frosted leaves crunched underfoot as the boys walked up and down Fowler Street. Michael stood in the street as he watched his little brother climb the porch of his neighbor’s house Mrs. Blankenship. As he climbed the steps Toby heard inaudible voices mumbling inside his brain.
Mrs. Blankenship appeared in the frame of the door. She wore a pink, bathrobe and pink, fuzzy slippers. Her hair was white. ‘’Trick or treat,’’ Toby said.
‘’My, don’t you look like a dapper vampire?’’
Toby could not hear what Mrs. Blankenship was saying to him. The voices were growing louder and more insistent on not being ignored. He could not hear what they were saying but they were screaming at the boy. He ran off the porch without taking any candy. He raced across lawns and knocked over trashcans. He burst through his front door and raced up to his bedroom.
He slammed his bedroom, door shut and raced into the bathroom. He locked the bathroom door and clicked on the bathroom light. The fluorescent lighting flickered a bit before it finally came on. He stared into mirror. He placed his vampire fangs on the bathroom sink and scrubbed off his makeup with soap and water. He gazed at his gaunt looking, face in the mirror.
He gasped when he saw his face reflection turn skeletal. He screamed and +he +heard furious pounding on the other side of his bathroom door. The pounding reverberated in his mind like a thousand bells ringing at once inside an echo chamber. He clamped his hands over his ears and dropped to his knees. He let out a primal yell of pain and anguish.
Toby collapsed in a puddle of woe upon the floor. Michael burst into the bathroom. He saw his younger brother rocking back and forth on the floor. Michael shook his brother’s shoulder. When Toby looked at his brother he saw that he had a lizard’s head. Michael appeared to flicker his tongue. Toby yelled as he cowered in a corner of the bathroom.
‘’What the Hell is the matter with you,’’ Michael bellowed.
‘’You’re the devil, go away Satan,’’ Toby shouted.
‘’What the Hell are you talking about, I’m your brother.’’
Toby looked up at his brother and he looked normal again. Toby struggled to get back to his feet. ‘’What the Hell happened to you tonight, you’ve been acting all weird.’’
‘’I don’t know; I think I’m going crazy or something.’’
‘’I’m hearing voices and seeing things,’’ Toby muttered.
‘’What are the voice saying and what things are you seeing?’’
‘’Skeletal faces and lizard heads.’’
‘’You’re right that does sound crazy.’’
‘’I’m scared I don’t know what to do.’’
‘’Don’t worry man you’re totally safe.’’
Michael placed his arm around his brother’s shoulder and pulled him in close.
‘’Kill him.’’ The voice in his head called to Toby.
Toby tried to ignore the voice in his head. Louder the voice declared ‘’kill him.’’ Toby stood up and cried out. ‘’Leave me alone.’’
As Michael slept Toby crept down the stairs. The voice kept repeating, kill, kill, kill and Toby walked into the kitchen. The shadows in the kitchen contorted into weird looking creatures that loved to eat children or wanted to drag them off to Hell with them. Toby glided across the kitchen floor and snuck over to the dresser drawer. He picked up a long, jagged edged knife and crept upstairs. He slid the door to his brother’s bedroom open.
He slipped into his brother’s bedroom and tiptoed over to Michael’s bed. Toby stabbed his brother hard, in the chest again and again. His eyes popped open and he watched in horror as his brother stabbed him over and over again. Soon the dying boy slipped out of consciousness and never woke up. The room felt colder than before. Michael snuck out of his brother’s bedroom. He ran into his bearded father out in the hallway. ‘’Toby, what are you doing with that knife?’’
The father, Hank grabbed the bloody knife from his son. When he went to check on his oldest son Hank screamed. As the boy was being arrested, the neighbors on Fowler Street gawked in horror at the pint sized, killer. One of the voices in the crowd called out. ‘’It’s just like Crescent Valley all over again.’’ The sirens blared as they raced the child to an asylum.
Toby sat in the back of the squad car. He remained silent. Quietly he dreamt of slitting the police officers’ throat. There were two cops in the car. The one driving the squad car was bald, fat and mustachioed. The lady was slender and blonde. The child was shackled and handcuffed. An orderly led the child down the halls of the asylum. He ushered the child into his cell.
Toby sat in the corner of his padded cell. He saw bugs crawling all over the walls and floor and ceiling. He rocked back and forth. He screamed like a woman being raped. He heard the voices in his head laughing at him. ‘’They’ll all pay soon.’’ The voice whispered.
In Florida, while walking on the beach Amy and Emily spotted a woman with dark hair. She was holding hands with a man wearing blue jeans and a long, white, button, up shirt. He was barefoot. The woman wore no shoes either but she wore a long, black skirt and a black t shirt. Her baby bump was visible to the girls.
‘’How far along are you,’’ Amy asked the woman.
‘’That’s awesome are you excited?’’
‘’Yes, my first husband and I were unable to conceive but Trevor and I are finally going to have a baby.’’
‘’That’s awesome, congratulations.’’
‘’Come, on Molly we don’t want to be late for the Howells’ party,’’ Trevor said.
The couple walked off and Amy and Emily went home. Patty sat at the head of the table and clanged her fork against the side of her glass of iced tea. ‘’Girls, I have an announcement to make, I’m seeing somebody.’’
‘’Really, that’s great mom congratulations,’’ Amy said.
‘’What’s his name mom,’’ Emily asked.
‘’His name’s Mike and he is really excited about meeting you girls,’’
‘’Sounds great mom,’’ Amy asked.
‘’Yeah great,’’ Emily rolled her eyes.
That night as Emily bathed she noticed blood being sucked down the drain. She looked down at her thighs and saw warm, blood rushing down her thighs. ‘’Shit,’’ Emily muttered.
The next day Emily and her mother went to the drug store. Emily wore her Detroit Tigers ball cap, white Nike Sneakers, gray sweatpants, a gray, sweatshirt with a hood and dark sunglasses. I hope to God none of my friends see me picking up pads,’’ Emily thought to herself.
She walked down the aisle and scanned the aisle with her eyes. She grabbed a box with green sides and walked to the front of the store. She stood behind a weird man in a trench coat. He kept jerking his arm back in a spasmodic motion. He grabbed the videotape he just bought and practically dashed out the automatic, sliding doors. Emily tossed the pads up on the counter and avoided eye contact with the cashier.
The cashier had red, curly, hair. She looked at the pads and next at the girl and smiled. She noticed the girl’s dark sunglasses and sloppy, slacker outfit and addressed the girl. ‘’Is this your first time buying pads?’’
The cashier chuckled. ‘’I’m glad you find my gynecological initiation into womanhood so amusing, bitch,’’ Emily thought to herself.
The cashier scanned the pads with a scanner. ‘’two dollars and ninety- nine cents,’’ the cashier sang out rather cheerily.
Emily pulled three dollars out of her sweat pants pocket and slammed the money on the counter and said, ‘’keep the change.’’
The girl was handed the box of the tampons and hurried out of the store. The sun barely poked over the horizon giving the surrounding area an orange glow. She hurriedly climbed into her mother’s, blue, pickup truck and quickly slumped down in her seat. ‘’Did you get the pads dear?’’
‘’Yes mom, go,’’ Emily groaned.
Patty rolled her eyes and frowned. ‘’Fine,’’
The car rattled and dips in the parking lot pavement, made the truck bounce up and down; which caused Emily’s stomach to lurch a bit. When she got home she raced upstairs and locked herself in her bathroom and closed the door. She put her pad in and dressed and left the bathroom. Later that night Emily and Amy headed to the drive in.
The air was stuffy and humid. A bead of sweat rolled down Emily’s face as she waited to for her sister to return from the concession stand with Emily’s popcorn. Emily sat in her Hello Kitty chair facing the screen. Beside the exit of the drive- in there was a wooded area. Emily glanced over her shoulder, almost, by accident and she noticed a few leaves and branches rustling. She gawked in horror as she saw a man wearing ratty, clothes. His jacket was full of holes and his beard was full and bushy.
The man walked with a gaited limp toward the young girl. He was carrying something in his clenched fist. It was small undoubtedly, much smaller than the weird man’s burly hands were. The man approached the girl and quietly handed her a penny. ‘’Thanks,’’ Emily laughed nervously.
Emily placed the penny in her jean pocket.
The man grinned and headed off into the woods. On their way home Emily pulled out the penny the man gave her and told her sister about it. ‘’That’s weird, Emily,’’ Amy said.
Her eyes never left the road. A voice broke in over the radio. ‘’The Penny Killer has escaped from Jacksonville Sanitarium tonight. He received this moniker because after he murders someone he usually approaches a total stranger and hands them a penny.’’ The radio announcer decreed.
Emily looked at her penny in open mouthed shock and panic. Amy spoke first. ‘’Oh, my gosh Emily; that is honestly creepy.’’
The rest of the drive home was silent. That night she heard tapping on her bedroom window. She climbed out of bed and shuffled across the room. She saw that creepy man that handed her a penny at the drive- in. He was standing on a ladder outside her bedroom window just staring at Emily. He was nude and obviously aroused. Emily screamed as she fled from her bedroom in absolute terror. She burst into her mother’s bedroom and shook her violently by the shoulder.
‘’Mom, wake up there is some naked, creepy weirdo staring at me through my bedroom window.’’ Emily screamed.
‘’What,’’ Patty whispered still half asleep.
‘’Some naked, pervert is gawking at me through my bedroom window.’’
Patty sprang out of bed and raced to her telephone. Someone had cut the wire. ‘’Shit,’’ Patty bellowed.
The mother and daughter raced out into the darkened hallway and burst into Amy’s bedroom. Amy was asleep. A creepy, bearded, nude man stood over Amy. He was fondling himself as he watched the pretty, teen girl sleep.
‘’Get away from my daughter you fucking sicko!’’ Patty screamed.
Amy woke up and screamed as she watched the pervert, staring her in her face. Patty grabbed a thick, wooden, television tray and raced at the naked man. She charged at the man and swung the table over the man’s head. The table shattered over the man’s skull. The pervert fell against the wall. He grabbed his head and groaned. The three women ran out of the room and fled from the house. They hopped in the truck and found a local diner where Patty hopped out and called the police.
‘’Hello, police, there is a disturbed, naked man at my house; I live at seven, seven, seven Leap Lane come quick,’’ Patty shrieked at the nine, one, one operator.
‘’Help is on the way ma’am.’’
The Girls drove home and sat in their own, driveway and waited for the police to arrive. They arrested the man and after the cops left the girls all headed to bed. Six months later, Michael and Patty, were engaged and six months after that the couple was married. Michael was sitting up in the stands when Emily hit a grand slam over the fence to win the game. Michael and Patty cheered as Emily rounded the bases.
On their way to the parking lot a boy of fifteen approached Emily. His name was Carlos Hernandez. His hair was dark and his skin was tan and his eyes shimmered like two lumps of brown coal. Her heart beat against her chest that she believed that her heart would leap right out of her chest and sprint all the way home. ‘’Hey would you like to go out with me?’’
Emily grinned widely.
‘’I’d love to.’’
‘’Great, can I kiss you,’’
As the two teens’ lips touched all her anxieties melted away and she allowed herself to be present in the moment. She did not think about what her friends or family would say. No, she just thought it felt amazing to be kissed and to have a boyfriend. The two kids stopped kissing and Emily blushed and turned away and headed toward her sister’s Dodge instead of riding with her stepdad and mom.
‘’Carlos asked me out and I said yes and he kissed me.’’
‘’Wow, really? That’s awesome.’’
‘’How was the kiss?’’
‘’It felt amazing.’’
‘’Did you get butterflies in your stomach?’’
‘’Yeah and my heart felt like it was going to leap out of my chest.’’
‘’You’re entering a fun and exciting time in your life, dating can be fun but be careful.’’
‘’I’m just saying don’t do anything that you’re not ready to do.’’
The rest of the car ride home was silent. Thoughts crept into Emily’s mind of doubt and dread. Was she really meant to be with Carlos? Did he really like her or was she just a game to her? Her euphoric high soon evaporated. She slunk down in her seat and sighed silently, that night, up in her bedroom, Emily texted Carlos.
‘’Do you love me?’’
Emily placed her cellphone on her dresser. She drifted off into a fine sleep. At first the dream was sweet and happy but soon it turned ugly and scary. Emily found herself sitting on the beach near her house holding her boyfriend’s hand. Seagulls honked in a sing song way. The ocean turned red and a skeleton washed up on the beach.
The skeleton was small and fragmented. It had no doubt belonged to a child. A shadowy figure emerged from the water. He had no face and yet he exuded a wicked malevolence. Carlos walked zombie like toward the shadowy figure who beckoned to him as he stood in the middle of the ocean. The part where he stood was far too deep for anyone to be standing and have their head above the water and yet there he stood with his hand outstretched. He held in his right hand a long blade that glistened in the moonlight. The shadowy figure handed the blade to Carlos. Carlos grabbed the blade and slit his own throat. Carlos smiled as the blood spurted out of his own throat.
Emily screamed as Carlos fell to his knees and then fell face down into the ocean. His corpse floated out of sight rather quickly and he was never seen or heard from again. The shadowy figure vanished briefly and next appeared behind Emily. Emily looked down and gasped when she noticed she was sinking. She was already ankle deep in quicksand. The more she struggled the deeper she sank. Tears ran down her cheeks as she screamed and continued sinking.
“Who was this lunatic?’’
‘’Why was he trying to kill me,’’
These were the thoughts that raced through the sinking girl’s mind. Soon she was up to her armpits in quicksand. Soon she was buried up to her neck and before she sank out of sight Emily woke up. She gasped as she sprang up in bed. Sweat poured down her face as she struggled to catch her breath. She cried out her boyfriend’s name. The next day at school, Emily found her boyfriend standing by his locker. Emily wrapped her arms around his neck and hugged him tight.
She kissed him on the cheek. ‘’What was that about, babe?’’
‘’I had an awful nightmare that you were killed.’’
‘’Wow that’s totally scary,’’
‘’I was horrified.’’
After school Emily and Carlos both walked hand in hand all the way to Emily’s house. Emily kissed her boyfriend on the lips before turning around and walking inside. She walked up to her bedroom and shut the door. She grabbed her diary from under her mattress. She sat down at her desk and wrote in her diary. Dear diary,
I had a nightmare last night that really scared me. I cried for an hour just worrying about Carlos and whether or not he was ok.
Emily heard a knock on her bedroom door. ‘’Come in,’’ Emily called out.
The door swung open and her sister entered the bedroom. She sat down on her sister’s bed and smiled. ‘’Writing in your diary huh?’’
‘’Do you want something?’’
‘’Dad wants you downstairs.’’
‘’You mean Michael?’’
‘’Just get down stairs ok?’’
Emily rolled her eyes and hurried downstairs. She strolled into the living room and saw her stepdad wearing blue jeans and a striped, dress shirt. ‘’Hey I’m taking your mom out to dinner and after that to a movie; so we won’t be back till real late ok?’’
Her mom came down in an elegant, sparkling, blue dancing dress and matching, blue high heels. ‘’Mom you’re a knockout,’’ Emily boasted.
‘’Yeah mom you look totally hot,’’ Amy said.
‘’Thanks girls you’re both so sweet and how about your stepdad? Doesn’t he look handsome?’’
‘’If he has to,’’ Amy muttered.
‘’He’s kind of dapper for an old guy, I guess.’’ Emily joked.
Michael frowned. Patty kissed her two daughters and headed out the front door arm in arm with her husband.
‘’I’m going to go invite Keith over,’’ Amy said.
‘’I’m going to go meet Carlos on the beach,’’ Emily exclaimed.
The stars gleamed overhead as Emily and Carlos held hands as they strolled down the beach. There was silence between the couple but their eyes said everything that the young couple was too afraid to say. Carlos and Emily tumbled to the ground. They laughed and giggled as Emily fell on top of her boyfriend. Emily leaned in and kissed her boyfriend’s lips.
Emily sat up and leaned back against her boyfriend’s body. He cradled his arm around his girlfriend’s waist and kissed the back of her neck. ‘’When are we going to take our relationship to the next level,’’ Carlos asked.
‘’ What do you mean?’’
‘’I meant when are we going to make love?’’
‘’I’m afraid I’m not anywhere near ready to even think about doing that.’’
‘’Don’t be mad, I love you.’’
‘’ When do you think you will be ready baby?’’
‘’I’ll let you know but until then just be patient, ok,’’
Emily melted away into her boyfriend’s arms. The waves gently lapped at the teens’ bare feet as Emily and Carlos stared up at the twinkling and burning stars above their heads. They paled in comparison to the fires burning in the hearts of the teen couple. Soon the couple parted ways and Emily headed home. As she walked on the cool sand Emily’s mind raced. She loved Carlos but she could not bring herself to make love to him yet. She sighed deeply. Regret crawled through her mind.
She knew that from now on dating would be stormy seas so to speak. She knew the butterflies and goose bumps weren’t so much what boys were after when they dated girls but instead they wanted their bodies. This made Emily shudder. She wondered how long she could hold off her hormonal boyfriend’s advances. What if he wouldn’t take no for an answer the next time? She would just have to dump her boyfriend if he refused to respect her and her body.
She felt a bit queasy as she walked through the front door of her house. She walked up to her sister’s bedroom and knocked on the door. ‘’Come in,’’ Amy asked.
Emily walked into her sister’s bedroom and saw her sister sitting in front of her mirror, brushing her hair. Amy was dressed in a pink bathrobe and fuzzy, pink slippers. Emily sat down on her sister’s bed and placed her hands in her own lap. She twiddled her thumbs as she looked down at the floor. There was silence between the two girls for a couple minutes before Emily broke the silence. ‘’Carlos asked me to make love to him tonight?’’
‘’Keith asked me the same thing.’’
‘’Did you give in?’’
‘’Yeah, did you?’’
‘’Thanks but weren’t you scared Amy?’’
‘’Sure but I was ready and so was he.’’
‘’Did I make the wrong choice?’’
‘’No sweetheart not at all I’m proud of you.’’
Amy placed her hair brush down on her dresser and walked over to the bed and sat down beside her little sister. She wrapped her arm around her little sister’s shoulder and gave it a gentle squeeze. ‘’You have to listen to what your heart tells you if you don’t believe it’s right than don’t do it ok?’’
Emily nodded. Emily and Amy hugged. ‘’So how was your evening with Keith?’’
‘’He was so romantic, he brought me a red rose as we danced to our favorite song right in the living room.’’
‘’How was the, you know, sex?’’
‘’It was no big deal actually.’’
Ha hah really,’’
‘’Yeah it’s totally not what dating or love is about at all.’’
‘’What is it all about?’’
‘’Just two people loving each other and respecting each other,’’
‘’That’s a relief.’’
Amy smiled and nodded. That night Amy dreamt that she was pregnant she walked into the bathroom and saw her belly was bulging. She woke up and hurried into the bathroom. ‘’Not pregnant thank God,’’ Amy muttered.
Halloween arrived soon enough and Amy found herself at a Halloween party at her friend Candy Mason’s house. Amy sat on the couch chatting with Candy. ‘’That guy in the phantom costume has been scoping you out all night, you should go talk to him.’’
‘’Get real Candy, I have a boyfriend remember?’’
‘’It doesn’t mean you can’t talk to other guys does it?’’
‘’Actually it kind of does,’’
The tall fellow in the phantom costume glided across the room. He asked to dance with Candy. Candy took the gentleman’s hand and they strolled out onto the dance floor. The gentleman led Candy up the stairs. Fifteen minutes later Candy staggered down the steps covered in blood. All the partygoers laughed and cheered as Candy staggered across the room and pulled and fell to her knees in front of her best friend.
‘’Help me Amy, I’m dying,’’ Candy groaned.
Her words sounded garbled. The phantom returned down the stairs carrying a bloody knife. Candy fell flat on her face and died. The party goers froze with fright as they realized that Candy was not playing a joke on them. She had really been stabbed and now she was dead. The knife wielding phantom removed his mask as terrified partygoers fled from the house. Some kids were trampled as drunken teens fled in fear from the maniac. Amy rushed toward the door and sped away in her car. Five minutes later Amy noticed a van was following her. The van tailgated her closely.
She felt the car jerk forward as the back end of her car was rear ended by the van. She pulled off to the side of the road and tried waiting for the prick to pass her. The van pulled off to the side of the road behind her. She tried to start the car again but the car refused to start.
‘’Start you piece of shit,’’ Amy cursed.
The driver got out of the van and headed toward the car. Amy was too preoccupied with trying to start her car back up that she did not see the man that killed Candy approaching her car. Amy finally started the car back up and narrowly escaped from the maniac. When she got home Amy hurried into the kitchen after she heard shuffling in the kitchen. She saw her stepfather lying on the kitchen table completely dismembered. His eyes, ears and fingers were lying in a metal bucket under the kitchen table.
His hands and legs were scattered all over the kitchen floor. Michael’s head was still attached to the torso. Michael’s chest lied completely open. His ribs had been cracked open and his heart continued to pump warm, gooey blood. Michael’s eyes were still wide open and his lips and face were contorted into a hideous scream. She cried out in sheer terror.
She saw the maniac appear before her. It was the same creep who had killed Candy. His beard was bushy and his eyes were brown. His beard was bushy and red. He lunged at the terrified teenager and grabbed her and forced her against the table. He grabbed Amy by the back of her neck and bent her over the table. Her face was lying in a pool of her stepfather’s own blood.
She could taste the blood on her lips and she started to gag. She vomited into her own mouth and it fell onto the table and some of the bile climbed back into her nose which made her vomit more and it burned her throat and nose. The maniac bent over and whispered into Amy’s ear.
‘’I followed you and your family here from Crescent Valley and I decided to finish you off for my hero Trenton Cole; I want to finish his work.’’ The psycho whispered.
Emily burst into the room carrying a wooden soft ball bat. She swung it with all her might and cracked the evil man in the back of his skull. He dropped his knife and fell to the floor. The bat had shattered when Emily smashed it over the killer’s head.
Emily was relieved when she read in the paper that the killer had not been killed but instead just suffered a mild concussion. Even if he was evil Emily never wanted to kill anybody. She could not even bring herself to kill a spider and she totally hated spiders. When she was five years old Emily watched her dad kill a spider and she cried all afternoon. She even picked up the little fellow in a napkin and placed it in a shoebox and held a funeral for the little fellow.
A month later Emily, Amy and Patty packed up and headed back to Ohio. They were not going back to Crescent Valley; instead they went to a place called Emory. Emory was a small town of about five hundred people. Amy sang along to the radio in the front seat as Emily just stared out the window in the back seat. Other than Amy’s singing no one else spoke. Patty wore a mask of hurt and shock. Emily felt hurt too. She was not so worried about her step dad.
She missed her own dad and wished they would get back together but that was never going to happen. She thought of Carlos and imagined how things might have been different had she told Carlos yes when he asked to make love to her. She pictured Carlos moving on to another girl and within a month he would probably forget all about Emily. Tears started to burn Emily’s eyes. ‘’Why does growing up have to hurt so, bad,’’ Emily thought to herself.
Patty had sold her truck a couple weeks before they moved and now Patty was driving her daughter’s car to their new home. Patty planned on buying her own car when they were settled in at a local car lot in Emory. Once Patty, Emily, and Amy were all settled in, Patty heard a knock on the front door. She opened the door and smiled when she saw a portly, bald man wearing white, tennis shorts and white, a tight polo shirt, a black belt and black sneakers. He was holding a pie in his hands.
Next to him stood a portly woman who wore far too much rouge and a big red and yellow sundress. She held a dish with foil over it. ‘’Howdy neighbor; we’re your next door neighbors the Harpers and we just wanted to welcome you to the neighborhood.’’ The woman sang out.
‘’I baked you this lovely peanut pie and my wife cooked this lovely lasagna for you,’’ The man boasted.
Patty grabbed the food. ‘’Thank you so much, this means a lot to me and I’m sure my kids will love the food.’’
‘’Bye now,’’ The woman and her husband sang out.
‘’Bye,’’ Patty said a little more soberly than her neighbors.
Patty bumped the door shut with her rump and headed into the kitchen. That night Emily, Amy and Patty ate Mrs. Harper’s lasagna. ‘’This lasagna tastes like rubber,’’ Emily complained.
‘’Yeah mom it’s totally gross,’’ Amy groaned.
‘’Mr. Harper’s peanut butter pie is awesome though,’’ Patty stated.
‘’Agreed,’’ Amy said.
‘’Ditto,’’ Emily added.
‘’Whose turn is it to do the dishes?’’ Amy asked.
‘’Its Emily’s turn,’’ Patty remarked.
‘’Great,’’ Emily groaned as she rolled her eyes.
After dinner Emily stood at the sink. She was wearing blue, rubber gloves and holding a dirty, plate in one hand and a yellow sponge in the other. She scrubbed the spaghetti sauce off the dish with the sponge and quickly dried it using a dry, dish towel. She thought of walking into her new school and not knowing anybody.
‘’Would the other girls be mean to me,’’ Emily thought to herself.
Would she do something embarrassing which would totally ostracize her from the rest of her class?
She shuddered at the thought of doing this. After she finished washing dishes she walked up the stairs and knocked on her sister’s bedroom door. ‘’Come in,’’ Amy yelled.
Emily walked into her sister’s bedroom. She found Amy reading a romance novel. ‘’Hey Amy can we talk,’’
‘Sure what’s up,’’
‘’I’m nervous about starting a new school tomorrow.’’
‘’You should be an old pro at adjusting to new schools by now,’’ Amy laughed.
Emily remained stern faced and silent.
‘’Are you worried what the other kids are going to think about you?’’
‘’Yeah, I’m worried that they will think I’m a total geek or something like that or worse.’’
‘’Well I’ll tell you one thing that people like and it’s confidence; tomorrow walk into that school with your shoulders back and your head held high.’’
Emily hugged her sister and headed off to her own bedroom. Emily climbed out of the front seat of her sister’s Dodge. Emily decided to follow her sister’s advice. She held her shoulders back and held her head up high. She looked up at the sign above the entrance of her new high school. The sign read Emory High School. She walked through the front doors of her new high school and in the faces of her new classmates she saw a potential for new friendships and hope for a fresh start.
Ayesha Shaikh: I love the twists. 😆I like how the writer describes everyone's point of view and the character development. I'm gonna read all the books by this author (current and upcoming). She's one of my favorites now. The spelling mistakes are normal no big deal, the amazing plot makes up for it. Thank you ...
Jennifer Sibley Jannise: So, I originally read the book because my daughter asked me to. However, I read it in 2 days and thoroughly enjoyed it. It is well written and thought out. If the author writes and publishes any more books, I would definitely read them.
Tony Lee: Read this during my 7-hour flight. You've done a great job describing each situation, but I believe there is room for improvement. Also, the ending was a bit abrupt and I think the last part where Terry Hunter was brought in again (slight spoiler) wasn't really necessary.. But overall the story k...
Bri Hoffer: I couldn't put it down!! The characters are all incredibly likable, and it's so descriptive you can see, smell, and feel thier surroundings. Great story, and very well written. I cannot wait for follow up stories. there were a few grammatical errors, but nothing that I could move right over.
ahattar4096: The only part. Get annoyed of is how they ask soooooo many questions here and there and it just makes it a bit boring for me. Like so boring that even some I skip through and after I do it has nothing to do with what they will next talk about in the story. My opinion is tha mabye the questions th...
briggy1998: I really enjoyed the book, even though I had to skip a few lines, because at times it could get a bit disturbing🙆🏻😅What I would have liked is if you could have given a bit more insight into jack's and fiona's relationship, especially the epilogue was a bit short 😬Other than that an amazing story!
Alex Reltin: This is a great story! I love how well you go into detail and emotions of Capri, and Mel. You have amazing dialogue and overall it's just a thrill to read!The only critique I could find is that some of the paragraphs should be separated. For example:-"If Nia would have just let me take the car an...
Deleted User: (A review in progress). I like this. It's sparse, gritty and atmospheric - reminiscent of the classic Golden Age of American detective fiction of the Thirties. I've only read the beginning, but I'll definitely be back. This writer knows their stuff and has done their homework on detective work. T...
harry142018: This story was gripping and very professionally written. With lots of twists and slight of hand tricks, the author deceives the reader until finally showing their cards at the end. With several subplots all intertwining to create the main plot, this really is an interesting and engaging read.