THE FEAR MASTER

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Chapter 17: INTO DARKNESS

“They say it was a place like this where he took his victims. Some claim he hunted them for sport. Isn’t that sick?” The Fear Master threw back his bandaged head and cackled.

Debbie, the only passenger remaining (DD LOVES TFM) sat beside her seemingly demented driver. Turning away, she stared at the window. They were entering a wooded area known locally (for no other reason than the students of Bakers Hill High thought it sounded scary) as Frankenstein’s Forest.

“I am referring of course to the Butcher of Benton – Laurie Naughton … or whoever he really was.”

“What makes you think it wasn’t Naughton? He was convicted.”

“Would you be a dear and get me my mints?”

“Mince?”

“They’re in the love box.”

“The …?”

“Glove box. Be a love and get them for me.”

Be a love? Here Debbie was alone in Frankenstein’s Forest with a man who stuck people’s arms down InSinkerAtors for kicks and he was talking about hunting humans while asking her to be a love. If it wasn’t a good long hike from here to her place, she’d tell him to let her out.

But she didn’t. instead, she opened the glove box. And gasped.

“Goodness gracious – did I leave that there?”

Debbie stared at the .22 handgun.

“That’s what I call a breath freshener – it’ll blow a hole right through the top of your head!” The Fear Master cackled.

“I can’t wait a week – I have to know now – tell me what you are!”

“The same as you, my ample adventuress – I’m a monster!”

“I – I am – not---”

“Of course you are. We all are. Nothing to be concerned about. But if the truth frightens you, pick up the gun.”

“N-no …”

“Afraid? Of what? Me? Pick up the gun, girl – defend yourself.”

“No.”

“Or should I ask, not what are you afraid of, but what are you more afraid of …?” He pulled the hearse over onto the shoulder of the road. There was no traffic. They were in the middle of Bakers Hill, yet completely isolated from everyone in it.

“What are you going to do?” Debbie asked.

The Fear Master took off his hat and glasses. “You said you want to know what I am. Let me show you. You do want to see what’s under these bandages, don’t you?”

“I … you … said you’re---a monster.”

“Why don’t you take a peek? Just a little one. Not scared, are you?”

“I want to go home.”

“And so you shall. But first you are going to gaze upon the face of Edward Hyde!”

“No!”

“Make up your mind.” His fingers stopped fumbling with the bandages. “And whatever you decide, commit to it, Miss Dawe. Because if you really want to stop me from showing you what I am … you’re going to have to pick up that gun and shoot me. Are you going to do that? Are you?”

“If I see your face … you’ll kill me.”

“I don’t remember saying that.” He started to work on the bandages again. A tuft of black hair sprang free.

“Please – just take me home.”

“Is that an invitation?” A strip of pink skin became visible between his eyebrows and hairline.

Debbie opened her mouth to speak, slammed the glove box and wrenched open the door, all in one crazy, disjointed movement as the hearse slowed and she tumbled out into the heart of Frankenstein’s Forest, through which she ran in adrenaline-fuelled panic, the sound of her heartbeat mingling in her ears with the distant laughter of The Fear Master and she plunged headlong into darkness.

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