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He gasps as the flesh suddenly begins to move, hovering from above the other's stomach to his head. The portion of skin disappears, along with a length of the entrails. Another length disappears, followed by the rest.
Incredulous, the man lurches toward the other man and leaps onto whatever lurks above him. His chest strikes something above the other man, and he wraps his arms around it as it moves away. He cannot feel himself being tossed about, but as his legs knock against each other and the other man's body jumps around in his vision, he assumes he must be no longer moving on his own. His grip-around nothing-slips as well. When an invisible, blunt force jabs into his side, he cries and releases the entity, flying and then falling partly onto the dead man.
He hurriedly moves onto his hands and knees over the gutted body, searching vainly for the entity. A moment later something knocks against his ribs, and he is flung from the body. He screams as his foot twists awkward beneath him as he lands. He lies still, momentarily in pain.
In front of him, the other man's chest begins to stir. It seems to inhale slightly, but as it exhales, flesh is ripped from the top along with bits of the rib carriage. The flesh hangs for a moment and then disappears. What follows appears to the man as the systematic canceling of the other man's body. Legs are stripped of everything; organs spill out; and the skull is split to reveal the brain. And it all disappears above the body. There are no sounds of the entity, no suggestion of a beast devouring a meal. All the man can hear is the wet sliding of the organs and flesh and the snapping of bones.
Steadily, the blood shows another image. As it drips and sprays around the body, some of it touches the entity and hangs for a few moments. It streams along the entity's body, suggesting a long, slender torso. Other streams trickle down gangly appendages, taking longer to slide down the front two limbs. Most unsettling, however, is the blood that gathers around the maw. As the blood paints it, the man glimpses a long, narrow mouth as it flays in four directions to open, like a crimson flower in bloom. The rest of the blood splatters against an arching flap of skin above the mouth, and the man is unable to see anything else. It is too much for him.
Stumbling to his feet, he runs awkwardly from the creature, staggering forward every few steps due to the pain in his ankle. He runs until his steps no longer feel wet from blood. He runs until he can no longer see the body behind him. He runs until the pain in his ankle overwhelms him. He stops, breathing unevenly not due to exhaustion but pain.
He stands on his unhurt foot and surveys the area around him. He bites a corner of his lower lip and chews it lightly. He must not allow himself to see a speck, he thinks to himself. He must not follow what has happened. He thinks quickly back to the other man, of his actions. They met while both were running, he recalls.
He sits promptly and bites his lip.
When the speck appears, panic fills him. What will happen if he is found? Will it be different if he sits? Can he use the other's help? Is that thing following the other?
His face drains as he has this last thought. It's searching for him. So is the other man.
He scrambles to his feet, grits his teeth as the pain returns, and runs from the speck. He counts his steps, telling himself he'll stop after he reaches a thousand. He'll sit again and think of something else. That should change things; it would have to. He knows where the other man is; he must keep him behind him. He glances behind; he sees nothing; he continues.
When he hears the dead voice after a few hundred steps, he turns to look behind him. He discovers the other man is not behind him, but almost perpendicular to him. He stifles a sob and faces forward. He cannot think anymore. So he begins to run faster, away from the other man.
A tickle dances along the ridge of Greene's cheekbone, light and capricious like an eyelash. He sweeps the hair from his face with sleep encumbered reflex before digging his body further into the bedding that surrounds him. It's only when the tickle returns to his left nostril that Greene is coerced into consciousness. His hand, a bony projectile launched from some sheet covered cannon, rips through the air in front of his face. Greene sits up in his makeshift bed, a motley collection of discarded linen and secondhand clothing piled haphazardly in the corner of the room, and listens to the affronting irritant buzz in the hollow of his fist. He is humored by the faintly perceptible pressure applied as his visitor attempts to force itself through his fingers. For just a moment, Greene squeezes the muscles in his hand before opening it completely.
The fly escapes the thin, leathery digits that once held it captive and disappears into a world only flies know. Greene tolerates the flies, but it is not just toleration. They feed in his wake and flourish in his habitat. They need him; they are his dependents. He feels responsible for them and cares for them. The humming specks that float around him are his aura. They are a congregation so profuse they could black out the sun if they so chose. Or if Greene chose. They are his flies and he is proud of them.
Greene stretches his sinewy wingspan away from his torso, his bronzed flexible skin contorting as he cracks his spine. He rolls his bald head along svelte shoulders until his neck too pops satisfyingly and then stands in the midst of his slumbering mess. Greene is a tall man, and a slender one at that, attributes that have an exaggerating effect on each other. His head and face are meticulously shaven to the skin; beautiful, constant skin that rolls like desert from his crown to his toes without respite. He wears a simple pair of bathing shorts to cover his more offensive anatomy, incandescently white over his body's copper background. His movements are always calculated and efficient; he navigates life with a cool grace.
It is a minimalist space Greene stands within. Fifty by fifteen feet, ten feet tall, and three stories up; to Greene it is perfection. The room has to be at least a century old. The walls are deteriorating into the neighboring rooms and the ceiling has been removed leaving a metal skeleton above. Although the floors are covered in soot and dirt, Greene knows they are patchy, chipped wood underneath. Maybe it once was the conference room for some fortune 500 company, or the personal office of some hot shot defense attorney, or the storage room for research embryos for some nonprofit organization. Whatever it was, it is nothing now. It is abandoned like everything else in The State's Twelfth Sector, left to fade over time. That was until Greene arrived and revitalized its lost halls with new purpose. Greene never feels the need to decorate his home, it is the way it is supposed to be. Its character is earned and authentic. It has been three years since Greene moved in, and aside from some minor bedding, not a thing has changed. Feeling nostalgic, Greene's eyes scope the area seeing nothing but earthy walls, his whirling insect friends, and the residual gore from the night before.
Chills slide down the exposed hills of Greene's spine like melting ice as his mind entangles itself in the night before. The orgasmic rush of adrenaline, the acuteness of an endangered mind, the sweltering fervor that blurs the edges of memory into one continuous delirium. They revisit him like haunting ghosts. Suddenly, he can hear the distinct shrill of the screams in his ear and taste the salty blood on his lips. Greene's heart pelts within his chest like a desperate caged animal. The moisture drains from his mouth, leaving his tongue clicking blindly for water. Greene's euphoria passes, encompassed in a surge of thirst.
With long elegant strides, Greene glides away from his bed and towards the clear gallon water jugs he keeps abutted against his eastern wall. Yesterday had been an eventful trek into the Tenth District. During the daylight hours, he had successfully bartered five pounds of relatively fresh meat for six gallons of water and enough protein bricks and vitamin supplements to last a month. And after the sun had set, another satisfying hunt.
He is well known in the Tenth's black market meat circles. Palpable stares follow him through side streets and alleys, his canvas bag of paper-wrapped steaks slapping rhythmically against his thigh. The right people know where to find the Butcher Bones and his consistent supply of delectable cuts. It isn't the name he would have chosen for himself, but it serves its purpose. The moniker shrouds him in an air of epic mystery and legends are never in need of clientele. Greene has to fight back the smirks as the community's most exemplary figures came calling for his wares. Doctors, attorneys and legislators all clamoring for sustenance the way it had always been intended, with texture and flavor. They never question where such an abundance was found in such barren times. The Butcher Bones is truly an adept hunter.
Cool water pulses through Greene's mouth and down his throat as he pulls it from the jug in steady streams. The asperity is washed away with each gracious swallow and his innards electrify with a brisk shock that radiates relief throughout his system. Nothing is seen wastefully trickling from the corner of Greene's sharp lined mouth. There are no thoughtless drips plummeting from his defiantly pointed chin like a neglected faucet. It is all directed with strict intent inside, where it is needed the most.
As Greene places the jug back against the wall, he can hear a whisper. It is barely audible over the constant buzz of his flies, like the whistling breezes that sometimes blow through the holes in his walls. Only this whisper has the distinct staccato of words, a trick the rustling wind never learned. Greene turns to the wall opposite him, to the crumpled flesh that lays dormant there. Hues of rust and brick streak away from the body epicenter like a corporal sunset. Chunks of shredded meat and skin and organ are interspersed in its pigment, plastered to the drywall like stucco. Greene's eyes distend with disbelief. He shuttles across the floor, falling to his knees as he makes his approach and leveling himself to the boy.
"Help me." The whisper is repeated on innocent, pouting lips. Each word strenuously unearthed as though they were the heaviest ever spoken. He is beautiful, this boy. Beautiful and so perfectly youthful. Yesterday, he had been carefree, floating feathery down market streets. Tawny hair bustling the edges of a jovial, round face. His skin so pristine and taught, creamy with a hint of cinnamon across the bridge of his nose. His meaty limbs flailing with frantic, joyous zeal as he pranced.
He is the youngest human being Greene can ever recall seeing in person. Greene knows that at some point he must have been surrounded with people just like the boy, but that is reason not memory. It is a time for overpopulation and depleted resources. It is a time for handed down preformed food stuff rations and State mandated birth control. It is not a time for little boys. His parents must have been of great wealth and influence to be afforded such a treasure.
This creature, so scaled down, awkward and disproportional, is new to him. His arms and legs are stubby and graceless, his head sits swollen on his shoulders thwarting all hope for balance, his eyes are enormous moons but his nose and mouth just minute stars. He is a caricature of the fully grown adult he might have one day been, much like his thick, wriggling maggots are to their nimble fly parents.
Greene leans in to speak to the boy, his voice brittle and sharp like shattering window panes. "Oh, my son, I am helping you. I am helping you more than anyone else would ever dream to."
Recognition sinks in immediately for the boy. Eyes previously shuttered with fatigue explode open. Tears rim the whites as preciously hazel irises dart for escape. The boy's mouth begins to stammer in a fear induced convulsion.
"No. No. NO."
The boy kicks his legs, trying to distance himself from Greene. Blood that had been resting in still pools on the boy's abdomen is disturbed and spills over his side.
"Relax," Greene reassures, stroking the boy's sweaty head with gentle, precise finger tips. "The worst is over."
Cries emanate from the boy. Not gaudy, attention seeking whelps, but babbling hopeless sniffles. Greene is reminded of creeks he once knew, running peacefully through some unnamed forest. He closes his eyes and tries to visualize them.
"I want to go home. I want to see my mommy." Shock is strengthening the boy's resolve. He speaks clearly, hindered only slightly as he calms his emotions with gasps of air. His eyes focus on Greene's, pleading with his humanity. It hurts Greene to disappoint something so angelic, but it's too late now. They have stepped off the ledge and all that's left is free fall. He must be strong.
"Do you love your parents?" Greene inquires. He rearranges his weight, positioning himself so he can sit more comfortably on the gritty floor.
"Yes, I love them. I want to go home." Aggression creeps into the boy's tone like a negotiator who has just stolen the upper hand. He pivots his wrists on the floor and tries to lift his shoulder blades higher, pulling his tailbone against the wall. As he does, a soupy piece of red sponge slides from his chest and nestles softly on his hip.
"Well, if you love them then it is probably safe to assume you want what's best for them. Which is precisely why you can't leave. Why you can never leave. Do you know what the average life expectancy is today?"
Greene pauses, waiting for the boy to guess. He doesn't. The spritzing of hope the boy had felt has burned off and been replaced with an inevitable, undeniable truth. He isn't going home.
"Two hundred and sixty. We are expected to live for two hundred and sixty years. That's absurdity of biblical proportions. They've eradicated all disease. They can treat all levels of injury. They've all but cured death. And in the process, all but destroyed what made us alive. There's no fear or pain. There's no anger or hate. How can we know hope if there's nothing to hope for? How can we love if we never know its counterpart? We've neutered God and made him a silent spectator as we float hopeless and numb for all eternity. This is hell. The only way we can save our world from this hell is to shock it from its slumber. We need to sacrifice something innocent. We need to wrong society and rob it of its security. We need to startle it so badly, it never sleeps again. Your death will save us all."
The boy whimpers weakly as droplets race from each eye leaving symmetric trails glistening down his ashy cheeks. His voice is a shrill whine whirling around Greene's ear like a pierced balloon.
"I don't want to die." Terrified emotion is bubbling inside of him, billowing out his pores. As he speaks, blood and spittle spray from his desiccated lips in a salmon mist.
"We all die." Greene scratches at his jawline as he spills his callous rejoinder. "Very few of us live before we do."
Greene reaches between the boy's legs and lifts up a length of mottled sanguine rope equidistant from their faces. Dramatically, he clenches the rope in his fists. Cherry juices are released from its surface as it contracts, rolling through Greene's knuckles and down his forearms. He brings it closer to the boy's face so he can be witness to the demonstration, but his eyes are shut.
"Do you know what this is?" The boy shakes his head listlessly in response. His eyes never opening, a pallor developing his face. Greene returns the rope to the boy's lap with an apathetic toss before continuing.
"That is your small intestine. In an adult it is typically about sixteen feet long. Surprisingly, that's about three times longer than the large intestine."
Greene's waits for his fact to be absorbed. The boy is stagnant as if sleeping, coral liquid gleaming at the corner of his mouth.
"Last night, I pulled out roughly four feet of your small intestine from the flowing gash in your stomach and left it to dry out and rot at your feet. And look at you. You persevere. You fight and gnash against the odds, desperately clawing for extra seconds. You refuse to give up. You refuse to accept your fate as it is obviously and literally laid out at your feet. And why? So you can taste your favorite protein brick one last time. So you can play one more round of game with your friends. So you can kiss your mommy and your daddy good bye before you're stricken from this world. You cling to each breath, each beat of your tiny heart, like the fleeting gift it is. Never sure if another will follow. You've lived more in the last night than anyone else has in a century. You are enlightened and we would all be blessed to know what you have felt."
A fly lands in one of the pink puddles along the boy's mouth, its spindly legs rapidly fluttering as it consumes the moisture. The boy slowly waves a fragile hand, shooing the fly away and back into the droning crowd that encompasses him.
"Sorry. They are impatient, but with good intent. They know the new world we are building is upon us." Slight indignation creeps into Greene's voice as he excuses his insect dependents
"You're not building anything. You're a monster. All you do is kill."
The words leap form the boy's mouth with rapid passion. Each one attacking Greene with precision, burrowing under his thick skin and into the malleable dough that spins beneath. His neck grows hot and his vision narrows. Greene strikes the boy across the face with an open palm, sending his limp body tumbling. Blood pours from his torso like a broken dam, emanating from the wound in waves. His chest no longer puffs and hollows on frail lungs.
Moments pass before Greene is able to collect himself. Later he will unsheathe his hunting dagger and chop away at the pudgy little limbs extending from the boy's corpse, ripping through muscle and tendon with each adroit strike. The meat is thick on the bone and will probably garner a healthy bit of trade at market. Even later, his following will bury themselves in the boy's deteriorating chest cavity. They will eat and lay their eggs in the sloppy mess that once sustained life and he will wilt like a plucked flower. But first, he will take the boy's decapitated head and leave it somewhere public. Somewhere it will generate cries and whispers. Somewhere the boy's lifeless eyes can accuse a world that forgot about them. And this terrible place, this place that causes good men to destroy beauty to preserve beauty, will find cracks forming in its foundation.
Timmy was my best and only friend. Everywhere I went, he went, and everything I did, he did too. He never complained, never argued with me, never wanted to play anything I didn't want to play. He was always there for me, and always listening. Nobody listens the way Timmy did. I'd stay up late at night and pour out every feeling and dream and fear and fleeting thought that a little kid could have, and Timmy would just listen. Not passively smile and nod, like my mom, or worse, laugh at me like all the kids at school, but actually listen, quietly and intently. And when I finally did drift off to sleep, I wasn't afraid of any monsters lurking in the shadows because I knew that Timmy was there to protect me. It was like I was the only thing he cared about in the whole world. The only thing he lived for.
We had all kinds of fun in those days, but the best times I had with Timmy were on Halloween. We would always go trick-or-treating together. Most of the adults in my neighborhood didn't seem to mind it. I'd just look up at them with sad eyes and ask if my friend Timmy could have some candy, too, and they'd toss a few pieces into the little bag that sat on the ground next to me, big, goofy smiles plastered on their faces. And when we got home, Timmy was always nice enough to let me have all of his candy.
Once a few years had passed, things were getting better at school, and I spent less and less time with Timmy. Just like with everything else, he never seemed upset or angry about it. That Halloween, I had three best friends to go trick-or-treating with. Real best friends. I didn't need Timmy anymore, and as time went on, I let him drift back to the farthest corners of my memory.
October 31st had come once again, and for the first time I could remember, I wouldn't be roaming the streets with my friends. I was stuck in bed, sick, my mind too hazy to recall whether or not I had called to cancel our pre-gaming plans. Earlier, I'd taken a few doses of some very strong medicine with the hopes that I'd somehow manage to make it out that night, but the sun was starting to go down and I still wasn't feeling much better. The door to my room creaked open, and my mom walked in with her coat and shoes on.
"Are you sure you don't need me to stick around?" She had a guilty look on her face, but I knew she had been looking forward to this party for weeks, and besides, having her around nagging me all night would only make things worse.
"I'm 17 years old, mom, I think I can take care of myself," I croaked.
"Alright, honey, but if you need me for anything at all, make sure you call me." She walked over to me and felt my forehead. Her face got a little more discouraged, and it looked for a second like she was about to say something, but she thought better of it and turned around. "I left a bowl of candy outside for the trick-or-treaters, so don't worry about them ringing the doorbell," I heard her say as she shut the door behind her. I sat up listening for the sound of her footsteps, and when about a minute had passed since I last heard them, I collapsed back onto my pillow and let out a deep breath. I was alone.
It must have been around nine o'clock when the house started to turn on me. The streetlamps outside cast jagged shadows throughout my room, which swayed or jiggled or stayed eerily still. Every so often, a car zoomed past. Something rapped at my window. Was it a bird? It sounded like fingernails. No, it must have just been some tree branches. My door rattled violently. It was the wind. It sounded like somebody was knocking. It was just the wind. I began to sweat. Insects chirped and buzzed outside. Inside, appliances hummed. They were loud. I couldn't ignore the white noise anymore. Sometimes off in the distance I could hear things being thrown, the odd celebratory shout, the blare of sirens. I tossed and turned. Every once in a while, I heard voices. They were getting closer. Did my mom remember to lock the door on her way out? She must have. But what if she didn't? Now the voices were at the door. Were they breaking in? Were they vandals? Or robbers? Or worse? A child's laughter. Trick-or-treaters. Just trick-or-treaters.
My head was throbbing. I pulled my blanket tightly over my head and buried my face in my pillow, trying to drown everything out. No luck. Suddenly, I heard what sounded like someone knocking on the front door of my house. It was just another part of the clamor outside. I clamped my eyes shut, refusing to let myself get up and investigate. The knocking recommenced, louder this time. I wrapped myself tighter in my blanket and tried to will the noise away. A muffled voice. The jangling of keys. I began to relax. I guess my mom was feeling too guilty and came home early. Perfect timing, too, I was actually starting to get a little scared.
The door swung open. Three sets of heavy footsteps plodded into the house. None of them belonged to my mother. I bolted upright in bed, and strained to listen. They were talking to each other. I couldn't hear what they were saying, but their voices sounded low and unnaturally gruff. After finally stifling my panting breaths, I managed to stumble out of my bed, my splitting headache only getting worse. Lying on my stomach, I dragged myself into the hall and inched up to the top of the stairs, squinting as I peered down into the room below. When I saw the intruders, I froze.
They were not human. Their faces were contorted into grotesque shapes. Their skin looked pale, rubbery, and decaying, and they were all completely bald. Their teeth were sharp, feral, and rotting. Their mouths dripped. One of them had two slits for a nose. Another one had no ears. Another carried a blunt weapon. Their eyes appeared sunken and glazed over. They crudely staggered around the room. From where I was lying, I could hear their rasping, slurring speech. They were talking about me. I tried to fight through my dazed state, to convince myself that what I was seeing wasn't real. I couldn't.
I lost whatever self-control I had left. I was about to scream, when suddenly somebody reached out from behind me and firmly pressed a hand over my mouth. A voice quietly urged me to calm down. I found it oddly soothing, and obeyed. The hand receded, and I turned around to see a boy of around my age who looked vaguely familiar to me.
"Timmy?" I gasped. I was confused, but I was done trying to distinguish fiction from reality. Timmy nodded. Silently, he started to make his way down the stairs, motioning for me to follow. When we reached the floor, the monsters whipped their heads around to face me. One of them snarled at me and lurched in my direction, stopping right in front of my face. Its breath stank. I wanted to back away, but I was too scared to move.
Timmy sprang into action. He quickly snatched the weapon out of the monster's hand, and with an audible crack, slammed it into the side of its head. Even after the monster hit the floor, Timmy continued to hack away at it. The other two didn't try to fight back or even run away. They just stood motionless, their mouths agape and their eyes wide, appearing almost as terrified as I was. Without any sign of emotion, Timmy turned away from the first monster and attacked the second. When that one started to look as bad as the first, the third monster stumbled towards the door, tripping over itself and falling to the ground in the process. Timmy displayed the tiniest hint of a smile before beating that one in the same way he beat the others.
When he was done, Timmy sighed contentedly and dropped the weapon on the floor. Serenely, he led me back up the stairs and into my room, where he motioned for me to get back into bed. I was relieved, but now that all the excitement had ended, my head was starting to clear up, and I wanted answers.
"Is...is this real?" I asked Timmy, who had taken a seat at the foot of the bed, just like he used to when we were kids. He nodded. "What were those things?" I asked. For a moment, he appeared deep in thought, as if deciding whether or not he should speak.
"It doesn't matter," he said, finally. "They were going to hurt you. I protected you." He stared at the floor in silence for a second before looking up at me again. "All I ever wanted was to protect you. All I ever wanted was to make you happy." He looked sad, and I suddenly remembered what I had done to him, exiling him to the back of my mind for years.
"Timmy, I'm so sor-"
"Never mind that," he cut me off. It seemed like my attempt at an apology was making him angry. He calmed down, and sighed again. "You should get some rest."
"Goodnight, Timmy," I mumbled groggily. He didn't respond. My eyelids got heavy, and within minutes, I was fast asleep.
I woke up a few hours later to the sound of my mother screaming. I sprinted down the stairs to see what had happened, and almost fainted when I reached the bottom. My three best friends were lying dead on the floor in big red puddles, parts of their Halloween masks ripped apart or bashed in, a broken and bloodied flashlight lying near them. My mom had just finished dialing 9-1-1 with shaking fingers when she looked up at me, which caused her to scream even louder than before. She was pointing at my hands. I looked at them, and saw that they were covered in blood.
Later, as I was being shoved into the back seat of the police car, I could swear that I heard Timmy, laughing hysterically.
Here is one I am making as I go along
Noises have been heard, of a ghost that would scream
The voice of a boy, who was turned into cream
The blood was excessive, the mess was obserd
That voice of pain, a noise not wanting to be heard
As the night came to an end, another sream erupted
of a girl who was tortured, who's insides were ruptured
Footage has been seen, of this disgusting crime
Murder by murder at this very time
His mind keeps on churning, until all is deceased
This is the mind of one heck of a beast
So shut your windows, do not answer the door
Or the last breath you will take, will be on the floor
Ten murders are comitted in each town every year
To think you'll be next is something to fear
Do not think about stepping outside
Or you'll be boiling until you are fried
Jack is the name of this son of a bitch
So don't close your eyes, don't even flinch
Stay close to your neighbours, make sure they're in sight
Or you'll be tortured, and raped all night
Happy halloween Newgrounds, you're all gonna die
Nuked or drowned, you're all gonna fry
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The detective restlessly entered his house. It was the same thing every night. He went through the usual routine of putting his hat and jacket on the nearby hanger. His thoughts filled up his mind and his body was simply moving on by rote memory. He had gone over this case with a fine-tooth comb, but where he looked for answers he had only formulated more questions; each one creating more of a complex and contradicting case than the last. Victims were found in pieces spread out in different towns and locations. No fingerprints, clues, hints, or evidence had been left behind. The oddest thing about this case was that the cuts on the victims resembled that of an animal's claws ripping and tearing through the flesh more than it did a human's weapon. The killer either had created his own crude killing tools or had a pack of animals to carry out his cruel commands.
"Yeah, or it's a monster."
I was tired; we were all tired. I half convinced myself that it obviously couldn't be a monster, but I also couldn't come to terms that a human could be doing this. I wanted to quit my job. I could have easily been a truck driver or a factory worker. Hell, if I had finished college then I could have been a teacher. I always filled my thoughts with dreams such as finishing college but I wasn't one for learning. In fact, I couldn't remember anything or anyone from my few miserable college years. Deep down inside I knew why I had chosen my career. Ever since my parents had been murdered during a robbery I had sworn that I would protect the innocent.
"Hell, listen to me. I want to help others and most of the time I can't even control my own life."
The night would end like any other, with me taking a few shots of cheap vodka and some pills to calm my nerves. I'm sure a doctor wouldn't recommend the combination, but at that point in my life I didn't really care anymore. Soon I would drift off into blackness; the blackness of my sleep - the blackness of my life. It always seems like I haven't slept. It's almost as if my alarm goes off as soon as my head hits the pillow. The morning differed very little from the night. I still went through the usual routine, but just with different activities. There was no time for the usual breakfast. Only time for a shower, which was surprisingly still damp from the last time I had used it. The torture of leaving the warmth of the shower was like no other. I soldiered through and before I knew it I was on the road heading to work.
The town had been full of petty crimes ever since the killings started. I could have pulled over several speeding cars on my way to work, but we had been given orders to only go after the major offenses. I didn't receive much of a greeting when I reached the office. As soon as I walked in I was prompted to leave. Samuel hadn't shown up to work today and hadn't been answering his phone too. We were supposed to be finding a way to end this killing epidemic, but here I was, a seasoned vet, doing a wakeup call for one of the rooks. It was only a few miles to Samuel's house and I still knew the way from the one night he had invited some of the guys from the force over for a few beers. As I pulled into his driveway I noticed his car wasn't in the usual location. I casually exited my car and made my way to the front door. It was actually a nice change of pace to get out of the station and its inevitable mountain of paper work and evidence.
"Huh, the front door is open..."
For the first time, the thought that this could be a perilous situation entered my mind. My hand instinctively grasped the gun holster on my belt as I carefully entered the half open door. I instantly knew something wasn't right. There was furniture carelessly flipped over and many things that pointed to what might have been a robbery. Chances were the person that had done this was long gone, but with the way the crime rate had risen I had to be prepared for the worst. I walked into the living room. It was all too familiar to the time that I had come home late that one Halloween night; the night my parents were murdered.
I was a senior in high school at the time. Like most other teenagers the night consisted of destruction of public property and a large amount of alcohol. I had put off coming home to prolong the inevitable screams and yelling for not following my curfew. I entered the house through the back patio in hopes of avoiding my parents. Even though it was pitch black inside I had entered my house enough in similar situations in the past to know my way around.
"A few paces ahead, three to the left, feel for the... that's not right..."
I went to feel for the TV stand, but was met by nothing but air. Perhaps I had one too many to drink and ended up losing myself in the darkness. I blindly guided myself to the far wall where the light switch was located. At least I assumed I was heading in the right direction. My hands aimlessly felt the wall.
"There it is."
I flipped the switch and my eyes reacted as they had just seen light for the first time in hours. My eyes focused. The TV stand had been flipped over, the house lay turned upside down, and my parents were murdered.
A crash interrupted my thoughts. It had come from a nearby hallway. Sweat poured down my forehead. As tough as I made myself appear on the outside I was just as weak on the inside. Behind the bedroom door was the source of the sound I had heard just moments before. With one hand gripping my gun and the other slowly twisting the door knob open, I cautiously made my way into what appeared to be a bedroom. This room was just as trashed as the rest of the house. A quick scan of the room failed to locate the source of the sound, but I knew there was something there. I could feel it. I made my way to the opposite side of the bed. I caught sight of a foot, attached to a leg, attached to a body - a body of a man. The body lay there motionless with a cover blanketing its upper torso.
I was scared before, but now I was practically shitting my pants. I grasped the cover and slowly pulled it away from the body. I had found out why Samuel had never shown up to work. He was dead.
His eyes and mouth were open as he lay dormant on the ground. I couldn't stand to see him like this. Out of respect my finger tips gently closed his eye lids. An ear bursting scream emitted from what I had thought was Samuel's corpse. I tripped, stumbled, and landed on my face. As quickly as possible I spun around, gun in hand.
"What the fuck are you doing in my house Andy?"
I ignored the question out of pure anger and adrenaline.
"I thought you were fucking dead you cocksucker... you almost made me shit myself."
Andy reached for the clock, pulled it down, and immediately screamed.
"Piece of shit alarm clock!"
I was still utterly confused. Andy explained to me that the party he had the night before had gotten a little out of control. I gave him about twenty minutes to clean himself up before we'd head off. About twenty five minutes later he opened the front door, still half dressing himself.
"Get in the car rook. We have more important things to worry about then irresponsible police officers being late to work."
On the way to the station Samuel told stories about the wild night including how he had left his car at the convenient store after he was too drunk to drive home. I was clearly annoyed with him, but oddly enough he didn't notice. We couldn't have reached the station any sooner. Another minute of his ignorance and I might have lost it. We walked in together, but now his mouth was shut. Perhaps he had finally realized the massive ass chewing he was in for.
"Samuel, get in car five and make your rounds. Andy, go get the fax we just received from the back room."
That was just my shitty life. The rook is hours late and nothing happens, but I follow every command and I'm handling the grunt work. Just like a lab rat I followed the orders and found myself in the backroom. I figured there was no harm in taking a peek at the fax before anyone else.
"New DNA evidence found from the recent..."
Then there was darkness. The lights in the back room had just suddenly shut off. I walked towards the light of the exit.
"Slam!" The door had shut right in front of my face.
"What the fuck's going on?"
I slammed against the door, screamed, yelled, kicked, but no matter what I did the door wouldn't budge and my voice wasn't heard. The only connection that I had with the outside world was the view I received via a small square four by four window in the middle of the door. There was movement from the corner of the hall. My heart stopped. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. A creature covered with bloody, mangled fur emerged from the darkness. It scraped its claws along the wall making a terrible screeching noise. It peered through the window. There was no way it could have seen me because of how dark it was in the room, but yet it stared directly into my eyes. I was too scared to move. The creature snarled an evil grin. I felt as if its grin tore into my soul. My lungs started to burn, my head felt like it was going to explode, and slowly every square inch of my body was consumed by pain. I faint into the darkness.
I awoke, but it felt like no time passed. The door that had once locked me in was open. I slowly slid out of the door, gun in hand. The lights that had been filling the hallway flickered. I made my way down the hallway, but heard no commotions or noises.
"I'm dreaming... this has to be some sick nightmare."
What used to be my partners now were nothing more than massacred corpses whose spilt blood filled each and every room. I looked away from the vile sight. I needed to do something, but I was the only one left.
"Wait... no... we had five cars out on patrol."
I searched and looked, but every phone, every walkie, and basically every way to communicate had been completely destroyed. My house wasn't far. I could hide out there long enough to call in for backup.
"Looks like I'll have to call the army in..."
I couldn't stand it there anymore. I ran to my car. No stop sign, red light, barricade, or even crime could stop me from driving now. It felt like hours before I pulled into my driveway. I burst out of my car, my feet hitting the ground faster than they ever had before. I arrived at my door and the phone so quickly that I almost didn't notice the shadow, the figure; the same beast that I had seen in the station. Down the hallway stood this monster, motionless, waiting. I drew my gun and squeezed the trigger.
"Click, Click, Click... How could I be empty?"
More seconds passed; maybe minutes. One step at a time I managed to muster up the strength to advance. This creature - this beast; it was no monster at all. In fact, it was a mere costume. A costume that I had once worn during Halloween. Of course, it had been modified. Claws, teeth, and a bullet proof lining. I fell to one knee.
My parents sat there screaming at me. Something ticked this time. Their yelling painfully echoed in my brain. It would be the first time I killed.
My second knee hit the ground.
A woman pulled out in front of me on the freeway. I followed her home. The next night I came in disguise to rip her throat out with my claws. I spread pieces of her body around to make searches last longer than needed.
Both of my hands hit the ground, supporting my ever increasing weight.
I picked up the fax from the backroom of the station.
"New DNA evidence found from the recent murder cases reveal that officer Andy Jacobs has been directly correlated..."
That was all I had to read to realize what I had to do. I crumpled up the paper, put on a vest, and shot down each officer. Knowing that I could buy more time for when I turned back, I destroyed each and every form of communication in the station. Satisfied with my actions I returned to the backroom.
And now I was at my house. It might have seemed like a coincidence, but when I heard the sirens outside of my house I knew everything had gone according to plan. It was a plan that I might not have known about, but one that I created. I slipped on my costume. I was ready to kill again.
(I didn't see a rule against posting something you've already posted so here's my Halloween narrative that I posted earlier in the Writing forum)
The full moon's glow hath strengthened and emits wave upon wave of illuminated silver on the
restful town of Elsinore. Though restful it may seem, a man sits solemnly upon his rooftop, eyes
resting on the paradisiacal silver radiance of the moon.
He grows tired and and lies upon the tiles of his roof. But soon enough, he snaps into a seated
pose, face filled with query. What was that that had caught his eye? The gentle aura of the Moon
grows into a shade of red, sending a shiver, not just down his spine, but through to every molecule
his lanky body contained. Though invigorated to the logic, his faithful side cringes at the sight.
For that split second that orbiting rock turned red, he swore on his Grandfather's grave that every
crater he'd grown accustomed to formed the wretched face of Beelzebub himself.
But he was a grown man now. Ghost stories were a thing of the past. Though the fact that it was
the night of Halloween crosses him mind, these days it was surely just a festival for the youth?
But he eats his words as he lowers his gaze from the moon to the neighbouring graveyard where
echoed howls broadcast.. from six feet under.
What originally appeared to be a few diminutive silhouettes in the distance were now within identifiable distance. The dead has risen.
The irony of swearing on his Grandfather's grave gives him no laughter while his rotting elder
crawls from his wooden casket onto the artificially lit streets of Elsinore.
But the streetlights are overpowered as the once paradisiacal silver radiance turns red, forevermore.
(Just a few typos fixed. Sorry for double post)
The full moon's glow hath strengthened and emits wave upon wave of illuminated silver on the restful town of Elsinore. Though restful it may seem, a man sits solemnly upon his rooftop, eyes resting on the paradisiacal silver radiance of the moon.
He grows tired and and lies upon the tiles of his roof. But soon enough, he snaps into a seated pose, face filled with query. What was that that had caught his eye? The gentle aura of the Moon grows into a shade of red, sending a shiver, not just down his spine, but through to every molecule his lanky body contained. Though invigorated to the logic, his faithful side cringes at the sight.
For that split second that orbiting rock turned red, he swore on his Grandfather's grave that every crater he'd grown accustomed to formed the wretched face of Beelzebub himself.
But he was a grown man now. Ghost stories were a thing of the past. Though the fact that it was the night of Halloween crosses his mind, these days it was surely just a festival for the youth? Surely?
But he eats his words as he lowers his gaze from the moon to the neighbouring graveyard where echoed howls broadcast.. from six feet under.
What originally appeared to be a few diminutive silhouettes in the distance were now within identifiable distance. The dead has risen.
The irony of swearing on his Grandfather's grave gives him no laughter as his rotting elder crawls from his wooden casket onto the artificially lit streets of Elsinore.
But the streetlights are overpowered as the once paradisiacal silver radiance turns red, forevermore.
"[I am a] Rocket Man burning out his fuse up here, alone."
Covered in gore (and a little light-headed) he awoke on a pile of dead guys. He tried to stand, but his limbs wouldn't go where he told them. He held his arms in the air like an up-ended turtle for a few moments before finally rolling over on his side. He was briefly shocked to discover he had been laying on a pile of corpses this whole time, but eventually concluded "huh...I guess that explains all the elbows." Giving the bodies a brief once over, he realized they'd all had the shit shot out of them. He wondered how he had avoided being shot, too, since he'd apparently been lying at the top of the pile of (then living) men when the shooters had dropped by. He had yet to discover that they hadn't (missed him).
Initially failing to push himself up (instead of pushing against all the stiffs his arms would just shake and give out after a few inches) he took a quick breather and then stood up in one single, solid, fluid, exhausting motion. As soon as he stood erect, all the blood rushed out of his head.
Waking up a few minutes later, slumped against a coffee table like an unstrung marionette, he realized his left foot had fallen asleep while he was unconscious. Shifting weight to his right ass cheek, he pondered his options while waiting for his foot to wake up. "Who blew all these guys away? Should I try to find the shooters? And thank them for not blasting me, too? I'm hungry."
He was freezing his balls off. The heat was clearly out, and the wind drafting through the bullet holes in the walls didn't help. He looked over at the dead guys to see if any of them had a coat or a sweater or something he could borrow. They all had identical leather jackets, which matched the one he had wore. He didn't think he could fit two on at once: they were too thick. Looking closer, he saw the coats weren't all exactly the same. One had a roaring tiger's head on the back, and another had a bull stamping its foot. He craned his neck and tugged the shoulder of his coat forward to get a look at the picture he assumed was back there, but could only see an angry eye, a smiley mouth with shark teeth, and a long, pointed red nose.
Giving up after a little more futile tugging and peeking, he realized his foot was no longer asleep and stood up, this time supporting himself with a hand on the back of the couch. His vision went white, but this time the stars faded to reveal a small room stinking of rot and lit only by whatever thin streetlight beams could squeeze through the bullet holes in the front wall. Finally taking the time to look around he saw dried blood spattered on the back wall, and flecks of gore splashed on the side walls. Clearly, the stench was unbearable, and he understandably stepped outside for a breath of fresh air.
He walked through an odd thing that was coming out of cracks in the sidewalk leading away from the door; it rose like steam, though it was cool as mist, and opaque like smoke. Separate streamers of it were poking up all up and down the street and sidewalk. He ignored it, instead heading for an SUV parked on the street adjacent to the door. The windows were shattered and a corpse with another one of the matching leather jackets and a black winter hat sat behind the wheel. Exposed to the elements as it was, it had decomposed a great deal more than the guys inside. The skin had turned grey and juicy, with bits of either bone or muscle poking out in places. On closer inspection, the back of its coat had a great white shark on it.
Shivering, he opened the door and a little rot and greasy organ juice spilled out, nearly gooking up his boots. Fortunately, he dodged away at the last second, putting both of his hands on top of his head and screaming (but not in a girly way) in shock. Recovering quickly, he was surprised again when he felt a bunch of chunky/sticky stuff in his hair. He headed for the driver side mirror of the gore-mobile, absent-mindedly stepping in the puddle of goop that had just spilled out.
Bending over, he looked in the mirror and saw three rivulets of congealed blood that had run down the left side of his face from a dried bullet wound above his left eye. Feeling the back of his head, he found a hole at least the size of a grapefruit that exposed scrambled brains. Covering the hole with both hands, he looked up and down the street to make sure no one could see his organ poking out. His eyes finally fell on the body in the car, with the coat and hat on. He yanked the winter hat off the stiff's head. It was a little moist, but reasonably dry, so he jammed it on, making sure to cover up the mush-hole in his head.
Hoping to start up the heat in the car, he dragged the corpse out of the driver's seat. It hit the pavement with a wet thump. Finding the keys already in the ignition, he leaned over the wheel and tried to start the car. After several attempts, the engine refused to turn over. He walked to the front of the car to get a look at the engine. The hood was full of bullet holes.
"...Well...I guess that explains it." He said.
"Pssst.........Hey Charley...Hey Charles......Hey Chuckles...Hey Chaz......Hey uhhh......Chimbo?"
He (Charley) turned to find an extremely sweaty man wearing a black suit and red tie under a tan overcoat standing in an alley, one hand cupped next to his mouth, the other jammed in his pants pocket.
Charley looked back over his shoulder and then to either side; he was the only one on the whole street so he asked, "Are you talking to me?"
Observing (with Charley) that there was no one else around, the sweating man slunk toward the front of the car, "HA! You're a real cut-up, Chuck," he patted Charley's chest with the back of his hand. "Now listen," the man put an arm over Charley's shoulders, perspiration drizzling from his chin onto Charley's coat, "I heard a bunch of your boys were coming up dead, so I thought I'd check in and see how the contract I gave y..." trailing off. His eyes bulging and jaw set, the sweating man reached up and ripped off Charley's new hat, revealing the bullet wound.
"Goddammit, you've got a traumatic head wound!" He spiked the hat against the ground, "MOTHERFUCKER!!!"
"Hey, come on!" Covering the hole in the back of his head with one hand, Charley bent down and picked the hat up.
"I'm sorry, Charley," the sweating man held his hands up in apology, "I bet you don't recognize me, messed up the way you are. I'll be damned if I'm not having the shittiest day... this is the last thing I need. If it's not the one thing, it's the other. And if it's not the other, it's my best guy doesn't even know who am I am."
"How can I put this? As I'm sure you've realized, when a guy with a set up like yours gets his noggin busted open, he tends to forget himself." The man pulled a handkerchief from the front pocket of his overcoat and dabbed the sweat off his forehead. "This whole deal is falling behind schedule, and I was hoping you could speed things up around here and shore up the effort somewhere else. That clearly won't work if you don't know what you're up to..." the sweating man clapped his hands, "POW! I've got it -I think my rainy day fund is just big enough that I can slap a thingy on you and you'll be good as new in just a few hours..."
Rocket Man part 2
The man cupped his own chin for a moment. Streams of face sweat cascaded down his sleeve. "So here's the deal: I can give you just enough juice to grow your brain back by this evening, and you'll remember everything from before, but if you take any big shocks, for instance having a limb hacked off, the thing'll overload and I'll be broke with nothing to show for it. I'm gonna need you to be careful, though you shouldn't have to worry about getting blown up on the easy hit I gave you. Can I count on you not to screw this up?"
Charley kinda shrugged and kinda nodded.
"Come on man, show some enthusiasm. Normally if you'd responded like that, I would've dumped you on the spot. Unfortunately, these fucking guys have me bent over a barrel so I'm gonna ask one more time. It's not like I'm asking for your first born son or anything, I'm just asking you not to go out and hurt yourself. Will you please," the man put his hands together in an explosion of palm sweat and held them in front of his face as if he were praying, "try not to get fucked up? For my sake?"
"...Yeah, sure I'll try."
"Great. Fan -tastic. I'm gonna do it now," the man jammed a hand deep into his pocket, his face screwed up in concentration as he felt around. "Ok, ok...O...K," he whipped his hand out of his pocket and stuck it right up close to Charley's face. The sweat came out so fast, drops of it visibly swelled before dripping off or rolling down the man's sleeve. "You ready?"
Charley nodded, staring at the fist in front of his nose. The man took his other hand and smacked the shit out of Charley with it, knocking him flat and splattering sweat all over the place. Before Charley could try to stand up, the man bent down, grabbed him by the shoulder, and dragged him to his feet.
"I think that'll do it."
As soon as he'd righted himself, Charley glared at the man, who stood pondering for a moment. "Right!" he said, jamming his hand into his coat and pulling out a folded-up and somewhat moistened document. "Here's another copy of your current contract. It's just a basic search and destroy, so you might as well try and get on it while you wait for your brains to grow back." The sweating man held the piece of paper for Charley to take, but he refused to oblige. The man rolled his eyes and jammed the rag in Charley's pocket.
Looking up and speaking to no one, the sweating man said, "I've got a feeling Chuck's not gonna wannna cooperate for the time being, so I'm gonna need you to keep him out of trouble for a while."
"That's cool," said a voice from nowhere. The man nodded, apparently satisfied.
"And, familiar with your record as I am, I feel obliged to remind you for the LAST TIME." The man stuck a finger in Charley's face launching flecks of sweat all over him, "self termination is cause for dismissal. Don't try to screw with me right now. Usually I'd find that sort of shit hilarious, but I'm just not in the mood today. You got any questions before I go?"
"Why am I so fucking cold but you're sweating you're your ass off?" While steam rose from the sweating man, none came from Charley's breath.
"For starters, it's a tad bit chilly out for a person like you. I come from a much colder place. For seconders, you probly got no blood left. No blood means no circulation. No circulation means you can't regulate body heat," he pointed at Charley's chest, "I bet your heart isn't even beating right now," the man leaned toward Charley, squinting, and said pointedly, "maybe you should go get something to eat? That should help you grow some blood cells...get your ticker going again. Warm up a little."
The sweating man looked down at his watch, "You know I love to hang out with you Charley, but its about time for me to go."
"And -hey," the sweating man said as he started to fade, "if I catch you playing Russian Roulette again while we've got a job going, there'll be hell to pay..." The sweating man vanished.
Charley stared at the spot where the sweating man had stood for a few seconds before his stomach growled. Taking his hands out of his armpits, he rubbed his stomach and said, "I'd kill for a ham sandwich!"
A short shrill giggle erupted from nowhere, "keehee! I was hoping you'd say that!" The voice was barely suppressing glee, struggling to keep its voice quiet. A tendril reached down from the blobs of steam that felt like mist but looked like smoke; it clutched something in a fog hand with giant fingers that tapered to needle points. As the hand came closer, Charley saw that the thing it held was a young woman hanging upside down, bound with rope and with a piece of duct tape over her mouth.
"What the fuck are you?" asked Charley.
"W-well I was hoping you would remember me of all people, but I guess not. I'm 'the dank.'"
"OK." Said Charley, shrugging.
"Now listen Charley: I'll make you a magic ham sammich; I'll give you the best damn sammich the world's ever seen -ever! All you gotta do is choke her keehee!" The dank shook the upside down woman for emphasis, as it started to crack up again, "kee! See? She's already out," (she was indeed unconscious) "I got 'er tied up an' gagged an' everything!" The dank began to have a touch of reverence in its voice, falling to a whisper, "Just wrap your fingers around her throat and squeeze until she stops wriggling. It's not hard. It's just like taking candy keeAH!" The dank guffawed and its voice rose in volume, "its just like chokin' a baby!!! Keeheeeheee!"
Charley was not as amused by the thought of strangling children as the dank was. His shoulders slumped and he tried not to look at the unconscious woman hanging upside-down in front of his face. "Kee! Hey, listen, I know it's a dirty job, but someone's just gotta do it! And -hey! -Hey!"
The dank stuck out a pointy finger and jabbed Charley in the chest, "c'mon man! Look at me when I'm talking to you! I can't tell what you're thinkin' of when you look all over the place -OH SHIT!"
The needle-finger had poked through Charley's chest just a bit to the right of his heart, so about a foot of it stuck out the other side.
Shit! Sorry man!" The dank pulled its finger out of Charley, a surprisingly small amount of blood adhering to it, "that was totally an accident!"
Charley shrugged and said, "It's cool...I guess."
"O-ok great..." the dank shook its finger, flicking some of the blood off, "so -hey, lets get this over with, huh? You heard the man; you gotta grab a snack before you can get your juices flowing again. Don't you want this magic sammich I've been telling you about?"
"Are you gonna choke this bitch er what?"
"...Maybe later," said Charley, turning and walking away; he'd just spotted a diner down the street. Why kill somebody for just a ham sandwich when he could get a whole meal on the cheap?
"...sure, cool. I'll take a rain check," the dank's fog hand lifted the woman away, "you sure are a buzzkill today, bud."
Charley was annoyed to discover that the dank was rising from cracks everywhere on the street, not just near the front of the house he'd come out of.
"Oh, that's no good," coming closer to the diner, Charley saw a bunch of nails hammered in the wall above the door where a sign should have hung. Stepping over the door, which lay on the ground just outside, he found that all the tables had been turned over and chairs were flung all over the place. After several minutes sifting through the debris, Charley found a rack full of chips tipped over on its side. He picked up a bag and opened it. The chips were well past their expiration date.
After eating the freshest looking chip, Charley decided he was hungry enough to tolerate the bitter, soggy, moldy taste so he ate a few more.
It came in a flash: Charley saw two men crouched behind a car. One of them wore a leather coat that matched Charley's except the back had a picture of an angry locomotive exploding through a house. They were both looking at a businessman in a suit sitting on a street corner bench, eating lunch. Train-smash held out a gun for the other guy, who appeared to be just an extremely nervous teen punk. "So here's the deal Junior...go over there and blast that dude, or you'll be a nobody forever."
Junior reached for the gun but stopped just short, "b-but what did he do, Bill? Did he screw you guys or something?"
"Of course not, that's the whole fucking point," Bill said.
Junior looked from Bill to the gun back to Bill.
"How the fuck am I supposed to rely on you when you can't even cap a guy who's not shooting back? Are you gonna do it or not?" Bill asked.
Junior didn't say anything. He was completely frozen staring at the gun.
"I think we should just let him go if he never-"
"Do it or don't. What the guy didn't do has nothing to do with it," said Charley. The kid just kept staring at him, so, disgusted, Charley yanked the gun out of Bill's hand and shot the businessman until the gun was empty. The guy spasmed and jerked like he was trying to get up, and then he was still, his head thrown back, dangling over the back of the bench. Junior screamed. Wincing at the sound, Charley punched him in the back of the head with the gun, knocking him out.
As Charley waved for another member of the gang to pull the car around, Bill asked, "Do you want me to get rid of this kid?"
"Nah...give him another chance. It took me two tries to get my first kill, too. He's just gonna have to learn not to be such a bitch."
And then Charley was back in the busted out diner chewing on some moldy potato ships.
Shivering harder than ever, Charley dropped the chips and rushed out the front door into a particularly thick portion of fog. Apparently the dank had gathered a big chunk of itself just outside the front of the restaurant waiting for Charley to come out.
"There you are Charley! Where'd you go? I'm supposed to be keepin' you out of trouble!"
"Didn't you see me? That place had huge windows in the front!" Charley blundered along the street, barely able to see three feet.
"Yeah...windows?" said the fog thing, apparently bemused.
"Wait -are you blind?"
"bl -wuh," the dank knew that Charley was still shivering, so he changed the subject, "hey buddy, did you find something to eat in there?"
"...I found something, but I lost my appetite," Charley nearly tripped over a curb.
"You can't warm up if you don't have something to eat."
"I'll start a fire," Charley spat, narrowly dodging a telephone pole.
"If you don't have blood to move the heat around, you'll literally cook on one side, and you'll never get completely warm down deep in your guts. I know you're hungry, so-" the pointy fingered hand came down again, clutching the unconscious woman, this time right side up.
"I told you I don't want your magic sandwich," Charley barely dodged around the woman as she appeared in his path. The hand followed Charley as he trundled along through the dank.
"Oh no, there's no magic sammich anymore. I think you made up that shit about losing your appetite cuz you couldn't find anything worth eating in there. And I don't think you'll find anything worth eating anywhere else: I'm the only one that can hook you up in this crap-hole." The needle hand shook with mirth, "Keehee! So here's what we're gonna do: if you wanna warm up you're gonna have to EAT this bitch."
"I SAID NO, GOD DAMN IT!" The woman hung obnoxiously close to Charley's head, and he barely avoided being kicked in the nose by a pair of nasty uggs as the hand yanked her around. "Get her out of my face! I don't care what you do with her just keep her away from me!"
"...fine Charley, have it your way." The hand reached back and threw the woman, apparently as hard as it could, through the air. She disappeared in the fog. Charley had no idea where she landed.
He ran in the front of an office building with the fog monster in tow. "Where you goin' Chuck!?" The dank stayed outside the door as Charley ran through the abandoned lobby, darting around chairs and clambering over a busted piano that had had its legs torn off. Bursting out the back door, he dodged around tendrils of dank rising from cracks in the street as two big pieces of the thing came around the building from opposite sides, converging on the exit he'd just used. Having completely surrounded the building, the dank settled in to wait for Charley to come out, just as he was running into a gas station across the street.
Inside the gas station, Charley didn't find piles of food like he'd hoped, instead climbing over shelving flung around haphazardly, only to stumble over a rotten corpse clutching a bunch of honey buns under its arm. Judging by the piles of empty plastic wrappers that surrounded the dead guy, he died of a junk food overdose. Or he might have been injured already by the time he got to the store; who knows. He was far too decomposed for Charley to tell. He nearly tripped and fell over the body as he snatched one of the confectionary delights. He struggled to take the wrapper off: his hands were shaking like crazy. Finally he took a bite, chewed and swallowed. His heart beat once, and a little bit of blood oozed out of the hole the dank's needle-finger had poked in his chest earlier. Charley felt as if a vice were tightening around his skull as his vision went dark.
Charley was walking into the police department late at night carrying a duffel bag. A guy in a leather jacket leaned against the bars in a cell with his back to the door. The back of his coat had a roaring tiger on it. There was a big bloody splotch on the floor in the middle of the cell, next to a big, chubby, intimidating, unconscious prisoner with his nose flattened. Across from the guy in the coat all the other prisoners were crammed together on a bench against the wall, trying to get as far away from him as possible.
"Yo, bitch!" Charley yelled. The guy in the coat turned around. It was Junior, the kid from before who couldn't take the shot.
"Yo, bitch, what is up!?" Junior yelled, "are you gonna bail me out or what? My head's killing me."
"I'm probly gonna have to fill out an assload of papers, so keep your pants on."
Charley stepped up in front of the lady at the front desk, and put his duffel bag down in front of her. He unzipped it to reveal a big pile of cash. "Hey, what's it gonna take to get my friend out of here tonight?"
She stared at the money for a long moment, "...are you attempting to bribe me?" She asked, shocked.
"Of course not, I'm just trying to bail my buddy out."
"Oh..." she seemed more surprised than when she thought he was bribing her, "honey, people normally just fill out a check, or get a loan from a bail-bondsman. Besides, your friend's been charged with a felony. A judge won't set bail until his hearing on Monday."
"Fuck that shit," said Junior. Charley and the lady turned and scowled at him.
"Would you just give me a second to try and figure this out?" Charley asked. He turned back to the lady, who was muttering under her breath about "foul language," etc.
"Sorry about that..." the lady waved him off. Charley leaned in close and murmured, "So what if I was bribing you?"
The lady leaned toward a microphone, "Jack, would you come to the front desk for a moment?" A uniformed police officer sitting at a desk across the office stood up and walked toward the front. "Offering to confer any benefit upon a public servant to influence the prosecution or incarceration of any person who has committed or allegedly committed a felony is a class B felony. I'm afraid officer Brady is going to have to take you into custody," the lady said with a look on her face that was somewhere between bored and annoyed.
Charley chuckled. "For the record, I only said 'what if.'" He reached into his coat and pulled out a machine pistol.
He shot the lady at the desk, Officer Brady, and the other three schmucks who were working the late shift that night. Fumbling around on Brady's corpse he found the keys, which he used to let Junior out of his cell, locking the rest of the prisoners back up at gunpoint. Walking back to the front desk, he took a can of gasoline out of the duffel bag, where it had been hidden beneath all the cash.
"Shit! What's that for?" Junior asked.
"What do you think its for?" Charley popped the lid off the can and poured gas all over the front desk, on the bodies of the lady and Officer Brady, then down the aisle between all the officers' desks. After making sure to cover all the other bodies, Charley walked back toward the cell near the front door. He poured a big puddle of gas between the bars and splashed some directly from the can all over the inmates who were still in the cell.
The prisoners screamed at Charley, "Fuck man, what are you doing?!"
Finally emptying the can, Charley tossed it into the middle of the cell and walked toward the front door.
"Don't you think that's a little much?" Junior asked, standing shoulder to shoulder with Charley, staring at the cell. The area around the door was dry.
"Nothing's too much when somebody fucks with my boys."
A big tough prisoner busted out of the group huddled against the wall. He rushed across the cell, leaping over the unconscious guy, and grabbed the bars in the door "Hey man, aren't you gonna let us out!?!?"
Charley just smiled and lit a match, "enjoy the show, kid."
Charley would have woken up in a cold sweat, but he didn't have any fluids left to squeeze out his pores. He had collapsed to the floor of the gas station, apparently unable to stand the strain of taking a bite of some junk food. He gagged and heaved but there wasn't anything left to come up. He tried to stand but his legs were tangled up with the corpse. Tugging them free, Charley rose to his feet and stumbled outside. A big bunch of the dank still surrounded the building Charley had run through earlier, plaintive cries of "come on Charley," or "get out here dude, come on," emanating from it. He walked down the street, making sure to step around all the bits of fog oozing up.
After walking about a block, Charley turned the corner so the dank was no longer in sight. About 100 yards away a group of guys in sweatshirts and sagging pants stood clustered around something, blocking Charley's view of whatever it was. Charley didn't think anything of them until he'd gotten within 20 feet, when they all backed away at once, revealing a young woman in the middle of them holding a bloody knife, and a man backing away from her holding his arm, which had a big gash in it. She held the knife up, warding the rest of the men off. One of them got behind her, grabbed her around the waist and threw her to the ground. The knife skidded away on the pavement as the rest of the men ran up and started kicking her.
Charley walked towards them, "You're doing it wrong."
The gangsters turned toward Charley. "Wha'd you say?"
"I said you're doing it wrong."
Charley stood in front of them hunched over with his hands jammed in the pockets of his coat shivering, and maybe a little blue.
"So why don't you come show us how it's done?"
Charley punched the talking punk in the face, and as he fell to the ground limp, Charley wound up and kicked him in the gut right at the bottom edge of his rib cage. The guy curled up in a ball sucking air, "See?" said Charley, "If it takes more than one or two shots, you're doing it wrong. I've already fucked one of you skanks up and I'm not even breathing hard."
The other jerks all came at Charley at once; they knocked him to the ground, and then beat the living shit out of him.
After a minute or so, winded, the gang bangers backed off. Charley started to get back up, broken, torn, and bruised, though not really the worse for wear, speaking relatively. Impressed by Charley's toughness, one of the gang members walked right up in front of him, pulled a snub-nosed revolver from a coat pocket and shot him in the chest.
Charley hacked up a bit of blood, rose to his feet, and slapped the gun out of the punk's hand. As Charley picked up the gun, the whole gang got up and ran.
"Hey, is that you Charley? I Thought I heard a gun..." The dank was back.
"Yo," Charley pointed toward the gang members running away, "that guy over there shot me."
"THAT MOTHERFUCKER!" Yelled the dank "DOESN'T HE KNOW I COULD GET IN TROUBLE IF YOU GET FUCKED UP!?!?!?"
The dank flew down the street and chased after the gang, leaving Charley alone with their victim.
Charley turned to the young woman, helping her get to her feet, "You feeling ok?" The gangsters down the street were shouting in dismay as the dank enveloped them.
She had a big purple splotch swelling on the left side of her face, and blood oozing out her nose. "Cuz you look like shit."
"You sure are a charmer," she said, brushing dirt off her jeans.
"Would you be surprised if I told you I hear that all the time?"
"Yeah? When was the last time someone called you that?" She asked, sardonically.
"..." there was a long awkward pause, punctuated by a wet sound kind of like a turkey breast in a plastic bag being smacked against a tree. And then screams.
"YOU SHOULDN'T'VE FUCKED WITH ME, MAN!" The dank screamed down the street.
"I'm sorry! Please, give me my arm back! AAAAA!"
"SORRY DOESN'T CUT IT!"
She winced at the screams. "Hey, uh, we should go inside...it can't find us in a building," Charley explained.
They started walking toward a storefront, "anyway, thanks for saving me from getting raped, I guess," she said.
"If it's any consolation, by the time I got here, it seemed like they decided to just beat you to death and call it quits," said Charley.
"That's real comforting, thanks," she said sarcastically, smiling for the first time, "I feel much better about this whole thing now." She held her hand out, and he shook it, "my names Danny, by the way," she said.
After a second, he took his hand back. "...You're taking this real well for having just been beaten up. I was serious, you really look terrible."
"So do you." She shot back, pointing at the blood on his face.
"That's different. I get in fights all the time. I'm used to this crap."
They climbed over a pile of rubble outside the front door of the store. He looked down, taking care not to lose his footing. Charley saw that Danny had on a familiar pair of uggs, which the dank may or may not have almost hit him in the face with earlier.
"Uhhh...what are you doing out here anyway?" He asked. "It doesn't seem like there's much going on around here."
They stood in the middle of the abandoned store talking. "I have no idea." She shrugged, "I just woke up on top of a pile of trash tied up with rope and with a piece of tape over my mouth. It was really weird. Fortunately, I managed to reach my pocket and cut myself loose with my knife." She reached in her pocket and pulled out a pack of gum. "You want some?"
"I'd love some," said Charley. She handed him a piece.
"Wow, you look really cold!" She said, realizing, now that they'd stopped, that Charley was shivering. "Your lips are blue! I know this neighborhood pretty well -do you want me to take you somewhere where you can warm up?"
"No?...ok, can I at least get you something to eat?" She asked.
"Eh. I'm ok." He shrugged again.
"I feel like I owe you. Is there anything I can do pay you back?"
"...Yeah, there is something." Charley reached into his pocket and pulled out the snub-nosed revolver he'd taken from the gang member and held it out to her. "Would you mind shooting me in the head?"
"Whoa!" She flung her hands up and backed away from Charley, "you want me to kill you!?"
"Nah," Charley took his hat off and craned his head around to show her the gaping wound in the back of his head. "It probably wouldn't kill me."
"Oh shit, that's weird! ...But even if it won't kill you, why would you want me to do something so retarded?"
"Cuz I want to stick it to that fog monster out there; you heard him, he'll get in big trouble if I get messed up. And...it sounded like if I did it myself I would probably actually die."
"Won't it want to come after me later?" She asked.
"It'll never know if we do it in here, and neither of us step in it when we leave."
"Alright, if it's what you want. Crazier things have happened today," she said, resigned, pointing the gun at the right side of Charley's forehead and shutting one eye, "wait a second..." (she lowered the gun) "Did you already swallow that gum I just gave you?"
Charley shrugged. "I was really hungry."
Gangland overlord D. Burrow was terrified that he'd be assassinated, so he made sure to take a random route to work every day. Or so people thought; in reality he was on a three week rotation. You'd have to tail him for a few months to figure it out, which was no small task considering that he owned two houses and five apartments, with nearly a dozen hotel suites around town reserved for his personal use. There was very little way to even tell which place he'd go to in the evening, which car he'd drive, or if he'd take a cab, and he'd become adept at slipping away with his two huge body guards if he got suspicious. It only took Charley's boys six months to figure out Burrow took the A bus from a dive on Sixth Street every third Wednesday. They'd been hoping to kidnap or blackmail him, but they never found a good opportunity.
Charley stood on a rooftop, ten stories up, with Junior and a guy with a bandage over his nose and two black eyes. The guy with the busted nose wore a leather jacket with a shark on the back. They were across the street from a stop on the A route three blocks before Burrow's office. Charley was pulling a rocket launcher out of a plastic case. "Who was that sweaty guy you got that bazooka from anyway?" Junior asked.
"Nunya." Charley said.
"Nunya fucking business, that's who," Charley said, loading a projectile, "just a guy I get crazy-ass rocket launchers from and shit."
The A bus pulled up at the stop across the street. Bill got off; he didn't have his coat with the house-punching train on today. "That's the signal," said Charley, "Burrow's on that bus, alright." He held the rocket launcher out for the guy with the black eyes. "You wanna do the honors, Peanut? He busted your nose, after all."
Peanut took the rocket launcher. Junior asked, "You sure we can't just go over there and shoot him? Do we really have to blow up a bus full of people?"
Peanut aimed through the viewfinder, and the targeting computer started beeping, honing in on the bus' heat signature. Charley said, "There's no way we could rush a crowded bus with his bodyguards as tough as they are and not get a few of our boys killed. And he always has those damn snipers waiting when he gets on or off. And I'm not going to wait three weeks to show a dick like Burrows he can't fuck with my boys."
Junior shrugged, "alright. I just wanted to examine our options." Peanut fired. The launcher kicked hard, causing the rocket to come out pointed above the bus, but the targeting computer compensated, bending its path downward as it dived across the street.
"Would you forget meeting me?" Asked Danny
"Probably. But I might remember eventually."
"When you wake up, what should I tell you your name is...I don't think you told me before?" She asked.
Charley paused for a second, and turned around, "what's the picture on the back of my jacket?"
"Oh! Its just a spaceship blasting off...it has an angry fighter-plane face painted on the nose. You know, with crazy eyes and pointy teeth?"
"Ok...when I wake up, tell me I'm Rocket Man."
"...Alright." Danny gathered herself for a moment, wrapped both her hands around the grip of the pistol and took deadly, brain-spattering aim at Charley's forehead.
"Hey Charley, its your turn to grab the brewskis."
They sat in a familiar room watching a football game on TV. Most of the gang was there, eating pizza and sucking down beers in their leather jackets.
Charley stood up, "Alright...Hey Junior, you want a beer?" (he nodded yes) "who else wants a beer?" A couple guys raised their hands, and he started counting. One of the guys seemed like he was ignoring Charley, "One, two, three...hey Cockface, you want a beer or not?"
"Fuck you, Charley."
"I'll take that as a maybe." Charley started walking toward the kitchen, when the front door busted open. Charley turned to find a disheveled, breathless member of the gang standing just inside. "Yo Bobby, what's up?"
"D. Burrow's boys found out we were the ones that killed him, they're right behind me, and they're loaded for bear!"
Everyone stood up just as a bunch of shots rang out outside. "Shit! Peanut was still in the car!" Bobby yelled. He turned toward the door and took a pistol out of his belt. He had a picture of a bull stamping its foot on the back of his coat. Everyone else, including Charley, started to pull out guns too, but before anyone could do anything, the whole front wall lit up with machine gun fire.
The snub nosed revolver looked huge in Danny's little girly hands. "You're not sorry you'll forget everything?"
"I did some shitty things for my gang, and now they're all gone. So I guess I won't be sorry."
Danny shut her eyes as she started to pull the trigger (much slower than Charley would have liked).
A single bullet ripped through Charley's head and knocked him down to the cold floor on top of a pile of his own boys.
"I think it's gonna be a long, long time 'til touchdown brings me round again,
To find I'm not the man they think I am at home"
Gordon Simmons was slammed into his locker.
"Ow! What the hell?", he struggled to exclaim with his face pressed against the cold blue metal.
"Man, Gordo! Your locker stinks worse than you do!", chastised the bully.
Judging by the voice, Gordon could tell it was Jordan Merrick. This was just one of the few assholes to target him this year. This particular one had a point, however. The smell emanating from his locker almost made him gag.
Jordon gave one more shove before backing off. Crinkling his nose, he looked Gordon up and down, and left, flicking him off on the way down the corridor.
With a cross expression, Gordon smoothed out his old oxford button-down and tried, unsuccessfully, to flatten out his ratty brown curls. Taking a deep breath for composure, he choked on the stench.
After he finished sputtering, he covered his nose with the collar of his shirt while working the locker combination with his free hand. With a click, the locker was unlocked. Apprehensively, he opened the skinny hinged door. His math and history textbooks were on the top shelf where he left them. He looked in the larger bottom section, thinking that something from an old lunch had fallen out of his bag and gotten lost. Digging through old homework marked with average grades and gaming magazines, nothing was to be found. The source of the smell had to be coming from the top shelf. Gordon pulled his history book down, immediately jumped back in alarm and screamed, knocking into Erica Burrows.
"Watch what you're doing, you ass!", Erica spit out with venom. The normal bustling students in the hallway became silent, staring wide-eyed at Gordon in all of his scrawniness.
"S-sorry", he stuttered, rubbing his neck, head hung with shame.
Erica made a sound of contempt, rolled her eyes and stormed off. He stood in the middle of the hall which was once again busy with teens. With chagrin, he moved towards his locker again. I can't believe I almost knocked over Erica Burrows..., he thought. Gordon had a "thing" for Erica since middle school. It seemed like every year his popularity would regress and so would his chances at ever being with his dream girl. His dream girl with beautiful flowing blond hair, a stunning smile, great figure and great big perfect ti-
"Gordon!" He was snapped out of his daydream. It was Ryan Turley, his best friend since 2nd grade, and "World of Warcraft" companion since 7th. "Yo! Gordon! Come back to reality!"
Gordon shook his head, "Sorry. It's been an interesting day."
Ryan stepped between him and his locker, "What the hell was that?", he furrowed his uni-brow and sniffed, "And what the hell is that smell?"
Gordon looked over his friend's head to the face staring out from the top shelf of the locker through empty eyes. Cringing, he motioned for Ryan to look.
"Woah! That's pretty creepy.", Ryan said stating the obvious, "Is that what smells?"
"Yeah. I think someone slipped that mask into my locker somehow and put something on it to make it stink."
"They did pretty good with the blood, too. How did they get it in there?"
Shrugging, Gordon reached over Ryan and pinched the tip of the mask between his thumb and forefinger.
"Hey, watch the hair!", exclaimed Ryan after Gordon's arm brushed against his head.
"Why? You got a date or something?", Gordon chuckled as his comrade ran his fingers through his bowl cut. Ryan twisted his freckled face into a sneer, making his buck teeth protrude more than usual. Patting his pal on the back, Gordon walked to the nearest waste bin and tossed the face inside.
Later that night, Gordon sat in the blue La-Z-Boy recliner facing the TV. Around 10:00 not much was on except the local news. He sighed and watched as the anchor woman droned on about Halloween coming up and how to be safe while trick-or-treating.
A minute later, the reporter had caught his full attention. "A local boy from East Mayfield High has been reported missing. Cameron Jenkins is a junior at the school. He is approximately five feet, seven inches, has short brown hair and usually wears glasses. If you have any knowledge of Cameron's whereabouts, please contact the local police."
Gordon recognized the name as someone he took algebra with. They never really talked to each other, but it was a little disturbing to hear the news. He shook his head, putting the missing classmate out of his mind. Disappointed with the late night entertainment selection, he turned off the picture box and went to bed.
The next day, there was hallway chatter of not only the missing student, but also a teacher who peculiarly stopped showing up for school without notice. Rumors flooded the classrooms about how the teacher might have abducted Cameron, the previously missing teen. His head churning with his own concoction of possible scenarios, Gordon stood, spaced out, at his locker before lunch.
"What up!", Gordon startled as Ryan greeted him cheerily.
"What's got you so chipper?", he asked Ryan only half curious.
"Nothing much. I had a good night last night."
"Ah. The date went well then?,"Gordon chuckled.
"It did actually", Ryan replied, "I think I'm going to go on another one."
Gordon placed his books in his locker before heading towards the cafeteria, walking beside his friend and arguing that the school's chicken salad was much worse than their lasagna.
Over the course of the week, the strange disappearances continued. Brad Tillman (a freshman member of the student government), Monica Gayle (one of the lunch-ladies), Robert Ortiz (backup quarterback for the varsity football team) - just some of the missing. By Friday, the entire school was in a state of quiet panic. Some parents were starting to keep their children home and talks began of shutting down the school. The campus was crawling with police looking for clues or anything suspicious.
During second period, Gordon and Ryan sat next to each other both looking equally jaded of their instructor's droning and chalk tapping on the blackboard. Out of the corner of his eye, Gordon noticed Ryan's red head perk up, peering outside. Intrigued, Gordon craned his neck to look through the window too. Ryan jumped up and leaned closer to the window.
"Mr. Turley, what do you think you're doing?", asked the obviously irritated history teacher.
"It's Brad Tillman!", Ryan exclaimed as he pointed outside.
Everyone rushed to the windows, pressing up against the glass to get a better view. Even "Mr. Monotone", the history teacher, jockeyed for position to see the unfolding event. Sure enough, it was Brad looking disheveled, but seemingly unharmed, walking out of the nearby woods to the West. One of the cops roaming outside finally noticed the once missing student and sprinted to him. He put an arm around Brad and helped him towards the school building with haste. After a few minutes of not being able to see more of what was happening, the lesson resumed, but no one was concentrating on it.
Lunch time arrived as it did everyday. The path to the cafeteria always led by the school nurse. As Gordon and Ryan passed, they noticed the door partly open, the same cop stood inside with his back facing the entrance. He stepped to the side to speak with the nurse over some paperwork along with the school principal, Millard Wilson. The two friends stopped in the middle of the hall and gazed inside at Cameron who was sitting atop the paper-covered examination bench. Suddenly, Brad jerked his head up and stared back at them. His eyes didn't look those of a victim's. They were piercing. It was enough to send chills up a polar bear's spine. Gordon averted his eyes elsewhere. Brad probably wanted to be alone anyway, he thought. He and Ryan continued to lunch.
Masks Pt. 2
The day continued as more and more of the missing reappeared from the neighboring woods. The authorities began sending search teams into the tree line, coming out every so often with another missing person. While students and staff rejoiced over the returns, there was a large amount of confusion. Why were the students coming back now and all at the same time? Where were they to begin with? What happened to them while they were gone? Unfortunately, none of these questions could be answered. The returning students and staff told the police they couldn't remember anything. The story was the same all around. They black out on the day they went missing and came to in the woods, finding their way back to civilization. Mystery hung thick in the air when classes ended for the weekend. After giving statements and receiving check-ups, the missing were allowed to go home to their families as well.
The weekend sped by. Gordon, bored at home tried to get in contact with Ryan, but to no avail. When Sunday came along, he was getting worried. Especially when he heard that people were still going missing even after the returns of the previous East Mayfield students and staff.
After a night of tossing and turning with anxiety, Gordon slunk out of bed and headed for another Monday at school. At his locker, he stood on edge, waiting for his friend. Five minutes before first period started, he was about to give up the wait and head to Literature, but noticed a flash of red hair in the crowd of last-minute students hurrying to class. Ryan broke free of the small mob and stood in front of Gordon, panting, pushing his glasses back to the ridge of his nose.
"What up?", he huffed with a toothy smile.
Not wanting to be late, they both speed walked towards their next classes. "Where were you?", Gordon grilled his nerdy companion, "I've been trying to reach you all weekend!"
"Sorry. Still going on those dates.", Ryan said with a half smile.
"This chick better be good. We'll talk later."
They split up to head to their different classrooms.
While sitting in his first period class, Gordon didn't miss a beat with his daily routine. After preparing for class, he sat cati cornered to Erica Burrows and admired her from afar. Every day he did this, but today was a bit different. As he gawked at the back of her head, she whipped her face around to look at him. Unprepared, he tried to play off the fact that he was ogling her, but noticed something off. Her eyes. They bored into him like Brad's did on Friday. Disquieted by this, he faced forward and waited for class to start, trying to ignore the feeling of her stare on him. Oddly enough, he was a little happy when Jordan Merrick walked in. Every other day he shared this class with Jordan who would sit directly behind him and pester him in some way or another. Gordon hoped for the encounter as it would take his mind off of Erica and bring a sense of normality to his day. Regrettably, this didn't happen. Jordan cruised past him and took his place abaft. Slowly, Gordon turned his head and peeked at the bully. In return, he got the same stare. Feeling like he was between two crushing forces, Gordon slid down in his seat, trying to avoid the two students' attention.
The class felt as if it was never ending, but finally, it was over. Dismally, the next period was the same; a large portion of students acting strange. Gordon wanted to go home. He somehow made it to lunch without freaking out and scanned the crowd for Ryan. Finally, a friendly site as his pal's geeky demeanor made his way to him.
"Ready for some grub?", asked Ryan.
"Yeah" Gordon nodded enthusiastically, "I've never wanted lunch more in my life."
"Dude. You gotta start eating breakfast."
After getting their food, they sat down at their usual table. Gordon stared at his food, shifting bits of corn around on his tray.
"Hey. You ok?" Ryan questioned.
"What? Yeah, sorry." Gordon snapped out of his stupor.
"Alright..." his cohort said incredulously. "Well here's some good news for you. Erica was returned over the weekend. Then again, bad news is so was Jordon Merrick.
"I didn't even know they were missing in the first place."
"Oh? Well now you know" Ryan chuckled.
Gordon cocked his head a bit. "Actually..." he began while rubbing the back of his neck. "Something has been bothering me."
"The people who were returned have been acting really strange, including Erica and Jordan."
Ryan swallowed the food in his mouth and put down his fork. "Oh? Strange as in how?"
"Just creepy. Like they aren't themselves. Jordan didn't say some asshole remark and Erica seems to be a little more to herself."
Ryan nodded slowly. "That is kind of weird."
"And you know what else is weird?"
"Throughout this whole thing, you haven't seem too bothered."
A shadow eclipsed the table in front of Gordon. Confused, he turned around. Erica stood behind him close enough that he could smell her perfume. He turned back to Ryan and asked, "What... what's going on?"
Ryan gave a faint smile in return. "You're the last piece of the collection, Gordon."
"What are you talking about?" he replied, chuckling nervously. Jordan Merrick approached the table to his left. Suddenly, he became claustrophobic. He realized that more and more of his fellow students were surrounding the table. "Is this a joke? It's not funny!" he said, raising his shaky voice.
Ryan sighed. "My friend. Well... actually you're Ryan's friend." He gazed at Gordon's frightened and confused face, coveting it. "My friends and I have been wanting to do this for a very long time. All of these wonderful faces... juicy personalities... you gotta love high school!" He cackled. "Oh, if you still haven't figured it out by now, I'm not really your friend, Ryan." He moved both of his hands to the back of his head. The students and staff followed suit.
To Gordon's horror, when his should-be friend brought his hands towards him, his face came along with it. "Welcome to the club, Gordon." The meaty skull grinned at him while the others held him on the chair. The glint of a knife was the last thing he saw before it dug into his eye socket, removing each one creating a hollow face in his head like a Halloween mask.