Ding dong dead
Chapter 7 Ding dong dead
Hot, sticky, red.
It’s blood isn’t it?
All over the floor.
It smells, I don’t like it.
Why is it here?
All over the carpet.
Where am I?
Why did you do that?
A big mess.
Blood all over the floor, spreading and getting thicker like a dark red plastic spreading and dripping and coating everything. A child’s room, bunk beds, bright colours. Where is this place?
Something rising from the blood, the sea of thick hot red plastic. A head coated in it like it was hot molten wax and then another and another bobbing up like croutons in a rich tomato soup.
My vision is a tiny cone surrounded by blackness, small hands, a child’s hands reach for the heads, turning them over one by one. I recognise their faces but can’t place them. Buried somewhere, a tinkling, a mocking laugh and a slamming of a heavy door and they’re gone.
A feeling of loss, of loss of loss. Losing something that never existed, something you never had taken before you even knew it was there.
The little hand reaches for mine and it tells me to come and play and I want to. I want to so badly, but I can’t.
I wake up again, a cold sweat, it’s dark. I maybe got two hours sleep on Paul’s couch.
We could have used the bed of course but I couldn’t drag him much further than the living room. He is a big boy.
And once I’d got him down I wanted to stay with him and make sure he was ok. Some motherly instinct kicking in Diana? Channelling a little Florence Nightingale perhaps? Hardly, a good mask needs a touch up now and then like anything else. But soon enough after lying down next to him the sandman had snuck up on me and wrapped a ten pound fishing cord of sleep around my neck and I was his. I’d fallen asleep right on top of him. But now I was awake again in the wee hours of the morning and he was gone.
It wasn’t as dramatic as I thought it was. He came in after a minute or two with a glass of water and sat back down on the couch like he didn’t even notice I was there.
He cleared his throat and took in a big deep breath and then proceeded to take sips from his water and yawn hunched forward on the coach in only a pair of stripey boxer shorts. The glass perched in between his large smooth hands.
“Oh you’re up” He said. “I was just getting some water, I didn’t want to disturb you” A little sad smile crossed his face.
“I can see that” I said looking at the glass in his hand.
“Here” He said as he handed me the glass. I took a big gulp from it. I suddenly felt utterly bottomless and wanted to down the entire glass before handing it back to him.
It felt like we’d never talk about it and that’s kind of how I wanted it. Pretend like it never happened. Just let it slip off the cuff, a very interesting dream soon forgotten.
“What happened back there?” he said rather ineloquently breaking my fantasy of a night lost. Murderous pirate ships passing in the night.
“You don’t remember” I stalled.
He cleared his throat and looked off into the corner of the ceiling above the tv and said “Err no, I remember drinking a little and then” He shrugged his large round shoulders. ”I dunno, I guess someone jumped me and everything went black.” He sucked in some air from his teeth and went back nursing the now half empty glass. “I woke up here and my gun was gone.” He sighed like he was talking about a botched boy scouts camping trip as he stared into the glass. “My dad is gonna kill me”.
“Doesn’t he have lots of guns, I’m sure he won’t notice one missing” I added Diana deft subject dodger.
“You don’t know my dad” He scratched the back of his neck “I’ll have to tell him it was stolen.” He said as he scrunched his shoulders up around his ears as some sort of stretch. I heard a cracking sound and found myself staring intently at the muscles around his chest and back for some unexplainable reason. I did mention he was shirtless?
“Yeah you can’t tell him you lost it in a fight in a drug dealer’s house” Shut up Diana.
He let out a self-deprecating laugh, halfway between a laugh and a cough as he choked on some water.
We gave up on sleep after that and had a quick shower - separately. I had to change back into my previous set of clothes. Which was a little disgusting for dainty deleterious Diana but I couldn’t exactly skip school the day after another massacre. I suppose the whole finding body parts at school thing could have bought me a little credit.
A few short hours later I stood in front of my locker again staring at the space left by the volleyball. I breathed in and sighed, taking in all the smells of the pretty people passing me. Their talking all mixing together into an interminable cacophony of inane chirping, or tweeting. The occasional chortle and hushed whisper. Did I hear my name?
I closed my locker and as if by magic, a poof of smoke and the white witch of Orange County appeared.
Wendy engulfed me with the most over-exaggerated but nevertheless fake hover hug I had ever received. Her arms and chest barely touched me. Her perfect and perfumed hair only brushing my shoulder. But her movements were so verbose I thought she was going to poke my eye out with one of her fake tits or impale on a hoop earring.
“Omg are you ok?” She stopped for a brief second to look at me. “I’ve been trying to call you all weekend”. Her drawn on eyebrows folded like the legs of a large spider at perfect ninety degree angles.
We both knew that was an exaggeration, she had not been calling me all weekend, that would have been impractical.
“I’m ok, I just-“
“Oh my god, I’m so glad you’re alright” She squealed gesturing to herself open palmed taking great care not to touch anything with her elaborate nails.
“I forgot the fliers, I’m really sorry” I cocked my head to the side, doing an attempt at an ‘aww shucks’ face.
“Fuck the fliers, you could have been killed.” She shivered and looked around the hall “He was here, he walked this hall, can you believe that?” She looked at me like it was actually a questions biting her bottom lip. “He could have done whatever he wanted and he chose our lockers.” She stopped and got contemplative for a second as if she was on the verge of cracking the case before perking up again as if she’d forgotten it entirely. “Oh I had Brodie pick up the fliers yesterday, it’s not big deal, all the shit you’ve been through”.
I scanned her face and there was something there, but I couldn’t tell if it was genuine fear or excitement. The goose pimples were a nice touch. I knew without knowing what she was capable of but right now she looked like a cartoon a little Latin mini mouse rubbing her bare golden arms. Afraid of the big bad wolf.
Maybe I was wrong about her, after all I wasn’t that sure, and my big brain hadn’t proven much use as of late. It was sort of a romantic notion I’d conjured up about her. Spiced up her little half Cuban buns.
“I think we’re gonna be ok, if he wanted to kill us he probably would have done it already.” I looked into her face as it froze in an awkward expression, so I summoned up more comforting platitudes. Like pulling a drawstring in grief councillor Barbie. “It was probably just a coincidence he chose our lockers, I mean what reason would he have to pick us out of -everyone”
She made a dry throat clearing noise and said “Well it’s over now, I guess.”
“You haven’t seen?” She went into her purse and pulled out a smartphone in a hello kitty case and started tapping away at it with a finely manicured nail the others kept back for fear of chipping and then turned it over so I could see her screen. On it a blurred out picture of the bodies on the couch. The picture was really good this time, and I could swear it might have been taken a lot earlier than the arrival of the police. I could have been passed out on the floor just out of frame. “There was another murder last night, it’s some kind of gang bullshit” She shook her head a little as she looked at the pictures again conjuring up all manner of gore and inhumanity befitting some violent videogame or cheap slasher movie. “This psycho dealer kills four of his own guys and then jets.”
“But how do they know it’s connected?” I shut my locker and stared up dimly at stained asbestos ceiling tiles.
“That’s the fucked up thing” She said as she opened her purse again to put her phone back at the bottom. “They found a head from the previous victim right on the motherfuckers coffee table.” Kitchen table/breakfast bar but reporters, you know, can’t get anything right.
I felt like snapping my fingers and saying ‘aha’. That’s why the bar maids head was there. What a neat package. A picture was starting to form. A nice little picture framing Antoine as the Head-hunter. It seemed like quite a promotion, small time pusher to the serial killer hall of fame. I had ruled him out from the running as I assumed it was nigh impossible to tape and plastic wrap yourself to a bed. Offering yourself up as a meal to the next generation of velociraptor. But who knows, maybe that was just what he was into. It didn’t seem too far out of the realm of possibilities.
But I doubt he’d paint himself into such a corner as this, but maybe I’d over-estimated him. Maybe I’d over-estimated them all.
So what was the plan? If I killed Antoine would I have been next? Would Antoine have disappeared forever sealed as an open shut case? And because I didn’t kill him what then?
Was this part of his plan?
The word ‘kill’ set my teeth on edge, throwing it around so nonchalant in my head. I had my chance and I wasted it. I could feel it now more than ever. It was this annoying buzz in my ear before, a single moth hitting a lightbulb in some deep dark cellar and now.
Now it was like fire ants screaming in my veins, crawling under my skin, the whispering a cacophony of good ideas, nails on a chalk board.
It was almost unbearable, it took every ounce social grace I had stored up over the years not to scream and pull my hair out.
It was whispering so loud now, right inside my ear. I felt hot. I could feel my mask melting, chipping, falling away. I was becoming some base creature. What was I supposed to do now? Go to the library for some montage on how to prevent lycanthropy? Maybe pick up some garlic and wolfs bane and make a smoothie with some kale.
I’d come so close, it could taste blood, smell it, it wanted nothing more than to be fed, to cut, to take and I held back. I denied it and it was hungrier than ever. But something about denying it felt good too, delayed gratification. ‘Delayed’, was it really delayed, implying it was coming, it was inevitable.
I was roused by an obnoxious clicking sound.
“Hello girlfriend, are you home?” Wendy snapped her fingers again trying to get my attention.
“Oh sorry” Shit, I completely blanked, glazed over, I really am slipping. “I was just-“
“Happens to me all the time” A mysterious voice emerged behind Wendy, had he been there the whole time?
“Oh yeah Di” Wendy smiled and kissed the high chin of the man in the letterman jacket towering over her tiny self. “You’ve met my new bae right?” She said scrunching up those artisan eyebrows again into sharp points.
“Yeah sure” Brahma, Bradie, bromide, brontide? “You sit behind me in biology or something right” Complete guess.
He was tall and well built, definitely a line-backer.
“Brodie just became the school’s new quarterback”
“I don’t like to brag” He said smiling, looking down at Wendy, crinkling his high-brow. He had a boyish face with kind of a button nose and a floppy haircut like he was in a nineties boyband. His entire person seemed like it was picked out of a saved by the bell episode.
“You better be bragging about me mister” Wendy said in a weird baby voice standing on her tiptoes for an actual kiss. Excuse me while I purge my stomach contents.
“I heard about what happened to you” Brodie said taking his soppy wet lips off Wendy’s sticky glossed Botox pillows. “That really sucks, I hope they catch the guy.”
“Nothing happened to me” I said “Still got my head, see?” Did I really just point at my head?
“Right” He laughed like a big dumb idiot and then scrunched his face like he just barely got the joke. So this is how she liked them, big and dumb and pretty. He was good looking but something about his face soured on me. Too familiar, it felt like a face I’d seen everywhere and seeing it now locking face with Wendy did make me feel oddly queasy. Like walking in on my Aunt getting ploughed by her reiki healer part time life guard part time boyfriend, Darren.
“Oh yeah where’s Paul at?” Wendy took her head out of the clouds “I haven’t seen him today”.
“Oh we’re just giving each other some space today I guess” I laughed.
“Something up?” She asked half interested still looking at Brodie’s big dumb moon face as he chewed a stick of juicy fruit loudly.
“No, we just, kinda had a fight, I guess, sorta”. Technically true, the best kind of true.
Truthfully, Paul had got a little closer to my inner sanctum, my dark fortress of solitude than I’d have liked. The dream whatever it meant was a message. And I just needed a little distance so we could better compartmentalise what happened. Pack it away in neat little boxes and pretend it never happened. I knew he was good at that. He was unpredictable last night but I had no reason to believe I couldn’t trust him to keep it secret. After all he had much more to lose than I did.
“Wow” Wendy said wide eyed “You two had a fight; that must be the sign of the apocalypse”
“I’m sure you guys will work it out” Brodie adding his pointless platitude with a dull dough eyed smile. Oh Brodie, what white teeth you have. Maybe I saw him in a toothpaste commercial.
The rest of the day was one humid slog of nothing really that remarkable. Paul and I managed to avoid each other for most of the day, exchanging only one awkward glance in the lunch hall.
I was struck by a sad soggy urge just to get home and lay face down on my trash heap of a bed and just sleep until the sun came up again.
I walked home, it was pretty early. The serial killer was on the run, don’t you know. It was safe to walk the streets yet again fair citizens.
I couldn’t exactly use that excuse again on my Aunt to come pick me up. Considering we hadn’t spoken since the other day and she probably already thought I was dead in a ditch somewhere. Maybe she was surrounded by FBI right now crying and going through my search history. Crap.
Yes, I did that to punish her, yes it was petty and but hey what did you expect? I’m a little monster after all.
I don’t know what I expected honestly.
Would she be happy to see me, would she be mad? Did I care? I’d take whatever meek tongue lashing she could muster out of her mousey give peace a chance voice box and then be sent to my room, exactly where I wanted to be. So it would turn out either way.
Of course I was planning to do the human thing, which was? I don’t know, apologise I guess. Or was that the Canadian thing? What was the teenage thing to do? Just storm in and start yelling and shifting the blame, nothing says good defence like a crazy unpredictable offence. I could just completely blindside her with insane accusations long enough to get to my room and lock the door with no supper.
Then again, I was kind of hungry.
That could work, she did kind of sick a crazy bond villain on me. Or did she? I dunno, I felt like I was getting a lot of things wrong lately. My usually big brain under a bushel had been leading me astray or worse it was outright lying to me. I was overthinking everything, getting paranoid and crazy… er.
Maybe I could go teary afternoon special and just burst out into a fit of crocodile tears, tell her the whole sick sad story- Nah that never works.
The walk went quite quickly thinking of things to practice saying, or maybe I’d just storm into my room and not come out ever again. Learn to photosynthesise, hmm I’d need to open the blinds for that. The sun was just over the hill working its way down. It was still pretty bright, walking past all the matchbox houses. Hybrid cars puttering passed me at ten miles an hour.
I turned into my block and felt an intoxication of a coming night wind. The smell of the palms and the little quaffed bushes surrounding the houses. A primal rushing wind forcing its way into my lungs. I almost felt like skipping the rest of the way home.
But there was something incredibly tantalizing about resisting that same urge. Delayed gratification, as I said. It was something I’d honed over the years. There was no other way, unless I wanted to spend the rest of my adolescence looking at people through plexi-glass. Doing my best teen Hannibal Lector impression.
I walked as casually as I could as the sun was slowly going down, ripping broad swaths of red and orange along the sky.
The neighbours two houses over were having some sort of semi-noisy party. I say semi-noisy because it wasn’t loud house music or drunken shouting. Just refined loud excited talking knives and forks scraping. The barbecue sizzling on their quant veranda over their garage.
“Hey Di, how’s your aunt?”
“She’s-err fine” I said.
“Give her my best – oh and if you could talk to her about that parking ticket-” Gary from next door said as he went back to flipping burgers and smiling at nothing in particular. He was a nice guy, kind of forgettable, one of those software engineers who grew a beard because he had no chin and wore only plaid. His wife was kind of a bitch though, one of those trashy women with horrible haircuts who you can tell are going to be fat one day.
“Will do, have a good evening Mr Harvey” I said with a smile in my voice which he didn’t see. Politeness and cleanliness, next to godliness. I hopped up my driveway and to the front door about to knock remembering I had a key. Knocking would only give her enough time to think up a line and a cruel face to sling it from. I was feeling righteous indignation. Her plan was probably the same as mine, come out guns blazing. Quickest draw would win, just bowl over the other, like women do. Making themselves completely impenetrable to logical arguments and explanations. Then resorting to waterworks when the other party wouldn’t just roll their belly up in the air for the final attack.
I jangled my keys out of my purse quickly finding the right one, oh so proud of myself. I can’t kill a helpless gangbanger taped to a child’s bed but I can find my keys super quick hoorah. I slipped my key into the door and was slightly deflated to watch the door shrink away from my prodding. It swung loose from the jam.
Ditzy Aunt stereotype forgot to lock the door again, what a cliché’. This was the sort of neighbourhood you could leave your door unlocked in but my Aunt wasn’t the sort of neighbour to do it. In fact she’d been double bolting the doors again since the murders started.
Eh, it’s probably nothing. Maybe she’s out canvassing for me, stapling my picture to phone poles and in her haste just forgot to lock the doors. I’d call and she’d discover me home safe and sound and once I paid her back for the printing cost of the fliers, everything would be copasetic.
I closed the door behind me making a disconcerting clicking noise and instantly the air was heavier. A wry whisper, a hiss from the deep dark, a warning from the dark driver. The hair on my neck bristling with anticipation of something awful. I held my breath and just listened. Nothing. Silence.
I breathed slow and quiet and got low, shrinking into the dark where I belonged.
I could feel it, was it him? Had he come for me? I failed him. I didn’t play his game, didn’t dance to his tune and now he was coming for me and my Aunts head.
He probably put it in the fridge waiting for me to stumble in and scream and then the bag goes over my head and the darkness comes. And then leaves and is replaced with bright light. Not god but a masonry light and a camera and a sharp blade and then snicker snack goes the Jabberwock. And then it’s nothing but cold concrete and darkness and then maybe flames and damnation if you’re into that.
This was it, I was making jokes but this was it, I knew it. Here in my home, there was nothing keeping him out, he got in before just to watch. To prod me, mock me for being unable to see the obvious truth. Which was?
I could run and I could scream, I could call Gary in here with his spatula and he could maybe slow him down for as long as it took for his head to hit the ground. The cops, the man in the wheelchair, could they protect me, could they save me from myself?
I had to try.
I made my way into the kitchen, it was dark, all the lights in the house were off.
I crabbed low, moving towards the phone in the kitchen. I know I should use my cellphone but it makes a lot of noise and lights up like a Christmas tree and I couldn’t risk it. I needed the dark and the quiet low murmur of the party outside.
I squatted under the phone and released it from the cradle, slow and quiet and started tapping 911. Shit what was I gonna say? “Please send police my imaginary friend thinks there’s a serial killer in my house because it’s scared of the dark”.
Well it didn’t matter anyway, phone line was cut. Of course it was, that was dumb.
I slid Ruez’ iPhone out of my pocket and unlocked it and started swiping through his really cluttered layout to find his dialler. I starting tapping 911.
Just as I hit the last 1 the phone rang with a loud DMX song and I froze.
I answered like an idiot.
“Come into the living room Diana” A hushed voice said.