Chapter 11: GARBAGE
To hell with them!
Debbie crouched down in the thorny hedge, watching Stevie and Vic kiss in the moonlight of her balcony.
How romantic! Debbie had thorns in her butt. Stevie had the guy she wanted. And here I am on a Saturday night, thought Debbie bitterly, alone.
Vic took Stevie fully in his arms. She clung to him. She groaned.
“When are you parents getting back?”
“Not until late,” she said breathlessly.
“We could … go inside.”
“Yeah. Come on.”
Debbie felt sick as, above her, the balcony door slid shut and from behind it muted laughter floated down. The phone rang.
Pulling a thorn out of her behind, Debbie crawled out of the hedge. She brushed the dirt of her hands and felt a pain in her back. She’d been down before, but never this low. Damn Stevie! It wasn’t Vic’s fault he had no taste. But Stevie had been a trusted friend. And Stevie was a traitor.
At least I’m out of that stupid club, Debbie thought as she started to walk down the road. No more masks, no more clowns, no more guns. Let Stevie have Vic. Let that snooty Betty and her big-nosed boyfriend enjoy the company of The Feeble Master. She hated them all – she never wanted to see any of the again, ever.
Debbie’s mother would be back tomorrow and had promised to stay around for at least a few days. Not that Debbie thought it was cool to spend time with your mother … if you had a boyfriend or a best friend. But if you didn’t …
Maybe it was time she spent more time with Mum. She’d probably want to spoil her girl, to buy her anything she wanted. That was it – they’d go shopping! Have lunch. No – not lunch. Then they’d have to talk. But a movie – they could do that.
Debbie wondered what it has been like at the Malice Palace last night. Had anyone missed her? Had Stevie felt lost without her best friend? Probably not, judging from the way she couldn’t keep her hands off Vic. For a moment, Debbie considered telling Stevie’s parents. They’d be livid if they knew what their darling daughter was getting up to in their absence.
But then, they might be delighted if they thought their quiet, insecure (formerly fat and now just plain) daughter was finally getting a life. They might throw her a party! If they did, one thing was certain – there would be no invitation for Debbie Dawe. Not even an invitation with an open-armed skeleton on it. Debbie wouldn’t even be getting those now that she’d dropped out of the club.
Hearing a car approach, she considered thumbing a lift. It was still quite a walk back to her place. A car stopped; a door opened. If she accepted a lift, she could be home in no time; and who knew – maybe the driver would turn out to be rich and fascinating and he’d fall in love with her, and …
Debbie swooned. But not because she imagined herself in the embrace of a handsome stranger. No. She struggled for a moment, trying push away the sickly-smelling pad that had been clamped over her mouth. She couldn’t scream, she could only … float … and dream, apparently, because when she opened her eyes, she saw a nightscape so weird it couldn’t be real.
Figures moved about like shadows in a graveyard … only they weren’t in a graveyard … they were someplace inside … glowworm-like lights moving around eerily in the solid blackness … and there was music, as strange and ethereal as everything else … but somehow the music was the most real thing because she thought she recognised it.
But there was no way she could recognize any of the black-clad figures wandering about with their hoods pulled down and their candles held high. Where was she?
She shook her head. Come on, Debbie, get a grip. I’m inside. Standing. They’re moving. I’m not. Maybe I know them. They’re in disguise. All I have to do is walk over to the lightswitch and flick it.
But I can’t. I’m stuck. My hand’s down some kind of tube. It’s cold and slimy round my forearm. Can’t get out. And my other arm – it’s tied behind my back!
Next to me – water? I’m in somebody’s kitchen. And my arm – it’s …
Please, please just let me be dreaming and I’ll forgive Stevie and Vic, and even dance at their wedding, but don’t let it be (drip, drip, drip) that I’m standing in somebody’s kitchen (all this and the kitchen sink) with my arm wedged down the garbage disposal!
The music … the theatrical setting … the way she’d “fainted” on the street – The Fear Master was behind it. And that meant this must be his house, and the robed candle-holders the Fear Leaders.
“Darn power surges,” simpered a voice close to her ear.
Turning, she screamed as she found herself staring into the face of a luminous skull surrounded by a black hood. There was no mistaking the dark, flinty voice.
“Let me … go.” She still felt woozy from the chloroform.
“Now where are those – here they are – these old houses still have ’em … fuses.”
“Here we are.” The Fear Master set his candle down on a benchtop and opened a cupboard. He unwound a fuse wire from a piece of blue cardboard and reached into the cupboard. “Now, how does this go?”
“Don’t.” Debbie struggled to free her arm. But it held fast. She tried to wriggle out of the cord that held her left hand behind her back. The cord bit deeper. It was useless. “I’m begging you, sir – please …”
“So fiddly doing this by candlelight,” said The Fear Master cheerfully. “Makes you wonder how they managed in medieval times.”
“Stevie? Vic? Do you see what he’s going to do? He’s going to chew my arm off in the garbage disposal! He’s going to kill me – and the he’ll kill you! You’ve got to stop him!”
The candles kept moving … no one unmasked … nobody came to her aid.
“This is … murder.”
“Not at all, Miss Dawe. My kitchen might soon resemble an abattoir, but you won’t die – that’s a promise … though we might have to start calling you Lefty!” The Fear Master cackled.
“I know why you’re doing this – because I didn’t go to your stupid movie – and I wasn’t completely honest about my homework … but I do hate spiders – ask anyone---Stevie’ll tell you …”
“That should just about do it.”
“Oh, don’t be such a baby. You told us you weren’t afraid of anything, that we could throw it all at you including the kitchen sink … so just think of this as a class experiment. Think of yourself as a class experiment. Now, that switch – to move it to the on position---”
“Please – I’ll do anything – just tell me what---I promise I will do anything – I don’t care what … I’ll even tell our religious-nut principal to go take a flying---”
“What did you say?” Spinning around quickly, The Fear Master knocked his candle onto the floor. The flame went out.
“Oh. You’re him, aren’t you? You’re Principal Slipper! I’m so sorry, sir – but no matter how much you think I’ve disobeyed and sinned, and how much you think I should be punished, like it says in the Bible – you know, the Commandments – thou shalt not kill. And that’s what you’ll be doing if you throw that switch – it goes against everything-----”
“Here we go – in three, two …”
The Fear Master flicked the switch and the lights came on. A mechanical roar came from beneath the sink.
Debbie Dawe screamed, clenching her right fist as she felt her body spasm, wetting herself as she fainted.