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Chapter 19: ONE, TWO, THREE

“He killed your mother?” asked Keith breathlessly.

Debbie admitted Keith and locked the front door behind him. “I’m sorry – I didn’t know who else to call – I hope you don’t---”

“Do you mind putting that down?”

Debbie looked at the knife. She hadn’t realised she was still holding it. “Sorry.”

“Now tell me – what’s going on?”

Debbie recounted everything that had happened since they’d dropped off Vic and she had been alone in the car with The Fear Master.

“And you think he’s killed your mother and left her body in the shower for you to find?”

“I know it must sound crazy, but he set up the whole Psycho scene for me to find – a real sick joke - and finding a real body … that’s the punchline.”

“Give me the knife. You wait by the phone, and if I don’t give you the all-clear within five seconds of me opening the bathroom door, dial emergency and get outside.”

“What if he’s in there – waiting for you?”

“Waiting for you, you mean. All the more reason for you to make yourself scarce.”

“All right.”

“We don’t want him butchering both of us.”

“Don’t say that.”

“Just my little joke.”

“Keith, if anything happens … I’ll never forgive myself.”

Keith smiled. “Never fear.”

The steady thrum of running water made it obvious to Keith that no one was standing under the shower, breaking the water’s flow with random movements. But he knew that didn’t mean somebody might not be lying under it. Some body.

Keith marveled at his reporter’s ability to detach himself from what he was doing even as he was doing it; he noted his every footfall … the grey splotch on the wall below the lightswitch … the faint smell of soap as he approached the door. This’ll make a great scene in my story, he thought: CUB REPORTER RISKS LIFE IN HOUSE OF DEATH!

Snatching a deep breath, his increased his grip on the knife and grabbed the bathroom door’s handle, twisting it down as far as it would go, then kicking the door with his left foot and stepping inside with his right.

The mirror was mildly foggy, the air barely warm. The hot water had run out long ago. And behind the pink shower curtain, nothing moved. Unless The Fear Master was a contortionist, no way was he hiding under the sink.

“I’ve got a jar of acid. On three I’m gonna throw it over the rail. So you’d better come out while you’ve still got all your skin.”

The water thrummed steadily. Nobody moved.

“One. Two. Get ready for a hot shower---three!”

With a cry, Keith ripped the shower curtain aside. He wasn’t feeling so detached now. His heart was pounding like a man being led before the firing squad.


Keith spun around in response to her cry. Debbie stood in the doorway behind him. Looking over his shoulder, she read what was written in lipstick on the shower wall:



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