Tales of Terror: “The Harem’s Keeper”

The Harem's Keeper

“Good morning, ladies.” Jeremy moved his head back and forth, admiring the view of a naked woman lying next to him on each side of his California King-sized bed. He’d been waking up the same way every morning for over six months now, but he still couldn’t get used to it.

Jenny, on his right, was a perky, petite blonde who was studying nursing at the University of Portland. Jeremy had bumped into her at one of the local pizza places near the University, and they immediately hit it off over beers and watching the Portland Trailblazers basketball game.

On his left was Angelica, a beautiful, dark-haired model who worked at a specialty lingerie boutique in Pioneer Place, the shopping mall located in downtown Portland. Jeremy had asked her out for coffee while shopping for one of his other lady friends, and much to his surprise, she had said ‘yes’.

Jeremy didn’t really understand what about his personality or his physical appearance that the ladies found so endearing, but he certainly wasn’t complaining.

“I am a lucky man!” he exclaimed as he jumped out of bed, turned on his stereo, and headed toward the shower to begin his usual morning routine. The sound of Tom Jones’ “It’s Not Unusual” could be heard resonating throughout the entire mansion that Jeremy lived in.

He sang along for a few seconds and then turned his mind to the day that lay ahead. Jeremy had just put the finishing touches on a year-long project, and eagerly anticipated that today could be the day he would finally be recognized for all his hard work.

His father, rest in peace, had instilled in him a tremendous work ethic, “a trait that all Langston men must personify”, he remembered his father saying on numerous occasions. Jeremy was certain that his ‘masterpiece’, as he liked to refer to it, would have made his ol’ man proud.

After toweling off and throwing some hair gel into his wavy brown hair, Jeremy selected his favorite Levi’s jeans and a nice dress shirt from his walk-in closet. He then made his way downstairs, walking past a half-dozen empty bedrooms on the upper level before he reached the massive, winding staircase that lead to the open entryway below.  The mansion, which Jeremy’s great-grandfather had built in the early 1900’s, featured a Neo-gothic architectural style, though Jeremy had updated the interior a few years ago to give it a more modern, 1980’s look.

As he walked toward the kitchen, located near the back of the main floor, he spotted Ashley waiting for him. She was in the breakfast nook wearing nothing but a pair of knee-high, argyle socks and a smile. Ashley had her fiery red hair tied in pig tails, and her body reflected all the hours she spent teaching Jazzercise at the local fitness club.

“You girls are going to kill me,” he chuckled, as he kissed Ashley on her cheek while giving her behind a quick squeeze. “Maybe later, Darlin, but I’ve got a little business I need to take care of first on this fine, beautiful morning.”

Jeremy strutted into the kitchen, grabbed his usual bagel with cream cheese along with a glass of orange juice, and then headed toward the study.

Up until a year ago, Jeremy had been living alone, spending the majority of his days in a haze brought on by excessive drug and alcohol use. On his occasional coherent days, he spent his time trying to find out more about the circumstances surrounding his father’s death. He was only 17 years old when his father, Dr. Gerald T. Langston, was shot and killed by the local authorities in 1962 for supposedly resisting arrest and pointing a firearm at a police officer.

After more than two decades of on-again, off-again investigation (and several bribes), Jeremy learned that there was never any gun entered into evidence. He even had one retired officer confess to him, off the record, that the lead detective on the case, Detective Arthur Harris, had given the order to “shoot first and ask questions later”. Jeremy uncovered other evidence as well, including his father’s supposed ties to a local crime organization and even some disturbing files indicating ‘unethical and sadistic medical practices’, but it was all circumstantial. As far as Jeremy was concerned his father had been a well-respected physician and business man who was murdered by the very police force that was supposed to protect people like him.

It had been a difficult tragedy to overcome, but on the 25th anniversary of his father’s death, Jeremy finally decided to turn his life around. He had now spent the past year working on something he knew would be remembered for decades to come, and that he anticipated would exceed every Langston achievement before him.

He pushed open the large door to the study and saw his faithful assistant, Mandy, dressed in a ‘naughty secretary’ ensemble, including high heels and an incredible short, black mini-skirt. Mandy had been a waitress when her and Jeremy met, but after only a couple of dates, he quickly determined that she was his ‘muse’ and that he needed her by his side if he was to accomplish anything. Whereas the other girls in the mansion were mostly just for fun, Mandy was truly special.

“Ahh, my dear. You are a vision to behold.” Jeremy gently grabbed Mandy by the waist, kissed her, and guided her over to his desk where he sat her on his lap while he tapped at his keyboard.

“I have a feeling today is the day we’ve been waiting for.” Jeremy pressed a few more keys on his computer to check the multiple security cameras that were installed throughout the ten-acre premises that the Langston Mansion was located on. There were about 30 cameras installed, though he could only check four at a time on his monitor.

“Look Mandy! They’re here!” Jeremy pointed to the screen with delight. “I want everything to be perfect when they come inside. Let’s get the presentation ready, shall we?”

Jeremy grabbed a VHS tape from his desk and placed it into the video recorder on top of the large box television located in the center of the room. There were three lush, brown leather couches that encircled the television, as well as a coffee table in the middle with refreshments. Jeremy had asked Mandy to ensure that only the best ‘top shelf’ liquor and cigars were readily available for his guests.

——————————-

Detectives David Morris and Eugene Harris motioned the officers following behind them to spread out as they neared the Langston mansion. They had already spotted numerous security cameras, ruining any element of surprise, but the detectives hoped that by covering all the exits they could prevent their suspect from escaping.

“You ready for this, Harris?” Detective Morris asked, the red whiskers in his mustache twitching slightly as he nodded his head toward the front door.

Detective Harris reached out for the doorknob and found it was unlocked.

“That doesn’t surprise me,” Morris said. He then radio’d the other officers to hold their positions. “This guy clearly wanted us to find him. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have sent you that love letter this morning.”

Harris responded with an unamused smirk as the two detectives slowly entered Langston’s mansion, guns drawn. The ‘love letter’ Morris was referring to was a thick, manila envelope that had been delivered to the precinct that morning, addressed to ‘Detective Eugene Harris’.

In the envelope was an adult-themed calendar with Polaroids of eleven missing females, each one having been scotch-taped over the top of the nude model featured for that particular month. Whoever had sent the calendar had drawn a veil with a black marker over each of the missing women’s faces, assumed to be in reference to the “Harem’s Keeper” title that the press had been using to describe the mysterious kidnapper. The current month of December, however, had only a white piece of paper taped to it with the outline of a woman’s form and a large question mark within the woman’s torso, also drawn in black marker.

In addition to the calendar, an old newspaper clipping from 1962 regarding the shooting of the suspected serial killer Dr. Gerald Langston was included in the envelope. Forensics was able to confirm that Jeremy Langston’s fingerprints were all over both the calendar and newspaper clipping.

Morris and Harris had been working the “Harem’s Keeper” case for the past 11 months and had suspected Langston, but they had never been able to secure a warrant for him. Previous to that morning, the only clues the Harem’s Keeper had left was a sliver of white paper with the name of the missing woman and the words “I’ll love this one too”, mailed in an untraceable envelope on the 12th of every month (the same day of the month that Jeremy’s father, Dr. Langston, had been shot and killed).

“Jeremy Langston,” Morris bellowed, “this is the Portland Police Department. We have a warrant for your arrest. Show yourself immediately with your hands in the air!”

The detectives continued through the entryway and then split up as Morris walked through the parlor leading into one of the main entertaining areas, and Harris took the other way through the dining room. While the two detectives were among the best in the Department, they were complete opposites in both appearance and personality. Detective Harris was a tall, attractive man in his early 40’s, known for his calm demeanor and by-the-book approach. Detective Morris, on the other hand, was older and shorter than Harris, and had a reputation for being cavalier and temperamental.

“Morris!” Detective Harris shouted from the other side of the mansion. “Come here!”

Morris back-tracked to the entryway and then followed the path he had seen Harris take. The smell of rotting flesh hit Morris’ nostrils as he stopped a few feet from the breakfast nook where a young woman’s body was tied upright to one of the chairs. Her skin had turned green from decay, thought it appeared that her murderer had tried to perform some kind of taxidermy or embalming process in an effort to preserve her.

“I believe this is Ashley Johnson,” Harris said, examining the body from a crouched position.

“Damnit!” Morris picked up one of the chairs and proceeded to smash it against the wall. “Langston!” he cried out. “You son of a bitch!”

Harris continued to take notes of Ashley Johnson’s appearance while he waited for Morris to compose himself.

“You finished?” Harris asked after a couple of minutes.

“Sorry, I…I was really hoping this guy might have been keeping these girls alive this whole time. I mean, we hadn’t found any bodies or traces of violence…”

“And there’s a chance we’ll still find some of them alive.” Harris stood upright, unfazed by the scene in front of him. His father, the retired Captain Arthur Harris, had exposed Eugene to a fair amount of case work growing up, and after 15 years of being a detective himself, there wasn’t much left that could rattle him.

“We should continue, together,” Harris told Morris as he motioned toward the kitchen. Morris nodded in agreement.

The two detectives proceeded to conduct a thorough inspection of the kitchen and walk-in freezer, and then headed down the hallway, quickly approaching the study.

“All officers, stay alert,” Morris commanded over the radio. “Murder victim has been found inside the residence. Suspect is assumed to be armed and dangerous.”

As both men neared the closed door to the study, Harris got a chill down his back. On the door was a piece of white poster board with a message scrawled out in black marker: “Come on in Eugene.”

“My ex-wife used to leave my name off our Christmas cards too,” Morris quipped, trying to keep Harris from taking the circumstances any more personally then he already had. Morris was fully aware that it was Harris’s father that had shot and killed Jeremy’s father, but they never spoke about it.

“Jeremy Langston,” Morris shouted. “Come out…”

“Is that Detective Morris?” Jeremy gleefully shouted through the door. “I’m so glad you could make it, although I do fear that the message I left on the door requires that one be able to read. Is Eugene not with you? I’m positive I saw him smiling, er, frowning for the camera just a few minutes ago…”

“Open the door and come out slowly, Jeremy,” Harris said calmly. “We can make this very easy for you.”

“I appreciate the offer,” Jeremy responded, “but I don’t think that would be nearly as much fun as watching you both burst into the room like the cops do on T.V. Besides, you must come in. Mandy has prepared drinks for us all and I have some very special video entertainment that you definitely won’t want to miss. I promise you, I’m not armed.”

“What do you want to do?” Morris asked Harris. “You think he’s armed?”

“Probably,” Harris replied, dryly, “but I also think we need to assume that at least one of the victims could still be alive…and we might need Jeremy Langston alive in order to find them.”

“Agreed.” Morris said as he reached out for the knob on the door.

“We’re coming in Jeremy,” Morris announced. “Any sign of a weapon and we’ll put you down. Do you understand?”

“Completely,” Jeremy responded, joyfully.

Harris and Morris both stormed through the door, their weapons raised. Jeremy was standing next to the television with a glass of scotch in one hand and the VCR remote in the other.

“See, I’m completely unarmed.”

Harris looked over at Jeremy’s desk and saw what he believed was Mandy Jamison’s body seated in a chair, preserved similar to Ashley Johnson’s.

“Do you know Mandy, Eugene?” Jeremy asked, pointing at her.

“Don’t fucking move, Langston!” Morris began walking toward Jeremy, his gun pointed at Jeremy’s head.

“Now, now, detective Morris stop right there.” Jeremy presented his drink and tipped it slightly toward Morris. “There’s enough poison in this scotch to kill an elephant, and I’m likely to drink it if you come any closer. I’ve been planning this moment for a year now and I won’t have you ruining it.”

“What have you been planning, Jeremy?” Harris asked, turning his attention away from Mandy’s corpse.

“I’m so glad you asked, Eugene. See, I can talk to you. You’re intelligent, well spoken, good-looking…when I look at you, I see a reflection of myself.” Jeremy scratched the top of his head with the remote. “You know, I wonder if our fathers would have seen us as similar? I mean, other that the fact that I’m white and your black, of course. Not that there’s anything wrong with being black. I mean, I’m not a racist…”

“Jeremy,” Detective Harris interrupted Jeremy’s rambling, “what is it that you want?”

“Hmmm….that’s a great question,” Jeremy twirled the glass of scotch in his hand. “As I’m sure you know, Eugene, today is December 12th and…the 26th anniversary of my father’s death. Now, I know you had nothing to do with that tragedy; however, I believe the bible says something along the lines of ‘the father lays the sins upon the son’ blah, blah, blah.”

“You want me to just shoot him?” Detective Morris asked Harris as he raised his gun and pointed it at Jeremy’s head. “The lighting isn’t very good in here, and I’m pretty sure that VCR remote in his hand looks a lot like a gun.”

“You know the thing about Mandy over there,” Jeremy continued, ignoring Morris’ threat, “she went to David Douglas High School. I suppose she probably graduated a few years before, but…” Jeremy stared directly into Detective Harris’ dark brown eyes. “Doesn’t your daughter also attend David Douglas, Eugene?”

Harris’ mind raced as his thoughts turned to his 16-year old daughter, Christine. She had stayed over at a friend’s house the night before, and he hadn’t talked to her since the previous morning at breakfast.

“What the hell did you do, Jeremy?” Morris again started to approach Jeremy, but he quickly turned toward the detective and shook his drink in a taunting fashion. “Not so fast, detective. After all, we haven’t watched my film yet.”

Jeremy pointed the remote at the TV and pressed the ‘play’ button.

“Please, Detective Harris,” Jeremy motioned toward the couch, “have a seat. I want you to meet Ms. December.”

Harris walked toward the back of the center couch and watched as an image of his daughter appeared on the screen. She was tied up, naked and crying, in some kind of dark cellar or cave. Although he remained poised on the outside, Harris’ blood began to boil.

“So you see, Detective Morris,” Jeremy paused to look at his glass and then tipped its entire contents into the back of his throat in one gulp. “You can’t kill me because you need me to find Christine Harris.”

“You crazy mother fucker!” Morris shouted as Jeremy swallowed the scotch.

“Oh, I appreciate your concern,” Jeremy laughed, “but the scotch wasn’t really poisoned. I just couldn’t have you shooting me before I laid all my cards on the table, sort to speak.”

Harris calmed his heart and quickly processed the situation. Jeremy Langston, a lunatic who was clearly acting alone, had most likely murdered eleven women and kidnapped (and possibly killed) a twelfth in an elaborate scheme to exact revenge for his father who was also a psychopath. These were not the actions of a man who could be reasoned with, and any attempts Harris and the Portland P.D. took to exact information from Jeremy would surely result in a series of mind games that were unlikely to help them find Harris’ daughter. Therefore, Harris reasoned there was only one way to resolve this.

Eugene Harris raised his firearm toward Jeremy Langston and pulled the trigger.

Image via 123rf.com

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Tales of Terror: “Falling”

Tales of Terror: Falling

Miranda slowly opened her eyes, the pounding in her head more pronounced than usual. Judging by the fading sunlight coming through the blinds, she guessed evening would soon be approaching.

“Audrey,” she croaked, dehydrated. “Mommy’s awake.”

Miranda sat up on the couch and reached for the aspirin and the half-empty bottle of vodka on the end table nearby. She swallowed the pills quickly, anxious for her headache to disappear as she looked around the room for her daughter.

“Audrey, come see mommy.”

Not a single sound was coming from any corner of the house. Miranda became slightly concerned as she got up and proceeded to check each room throughout the house.

“Audrey, honey. Where are you?” Miranda’s voice grew louder with each room she ventured into. Audrey was only four years old and was usually playing in the living room when her mother woke up from her ‘naps’. Miranda began checking under beds and in closets when suddenly she heard the front door shut. She quickly made her way to the front of the one-story house to see her husband, Kent, walking toward the kitchen.

“Kent! Thank God you’re home.”

Kent turned around and immediately a look of disappointment overcame him.

“What’s wrong, Miranda?” Kent’s voice was replete with cynicism. “It appears that you didn’t have a good day today.”

Miranda knew he was referring to her current state. She was wearing an old night shirt that hadn’t been washed in a week, and she hadn’t even found time in the day to brush her hair or teeth, let alone take a shower. Miranda had completed rehab a few months earlier, but she routinely fell off the wagon more times than she was able to stay on it.

“Yes, that’s true,” Miranda responded, frustrated, “but that’s not why I’m upset. I can’t find Audrey.”

“How long have you been awake?”

“Long enough to have checked every room and closet in the house!” She responded, defensively.

Miranda could feel Kent’s judgmental tone piercing her already wounded psyche. It made things even worse that she could smell the all too familiar scent of another woman’s perfume on him.

“Did you make sure that all of the doors were still locked?” Kent asked.

He quickly turned away from Miranda and made his way to the back door in the utility room. Miranda checked the sliding glass door in their living room.

“The front door was still locked when I got home,” Kent raised his voice so that Miranda could hear him as they went in opposite directions. “Do you remember what time…”

“Kent!” Miranda shrieked.

Kent ran toward the sound of Miranda’s voice and found her standing on the back patio, the sliding glass door wide open.

“I, I don’t understand,” she stammered. “I always lock all the doors before I take my nap.”

Kent’s eyes grew cold as he stared down Miranda and then looked beyond her at their unfenced backyard. Their house was located a couple miles from the Oregon coastline with only a small, sparse forest in between them and the cliffs that surrounded the beach.

“Perhaps, if you wouldn’t drink before you you took your afternoon nap!”

“I told you,” Miranda responded, her body shaking from the realization that her daughter was in danger. “It was a bad day!”

Kent, frustrated and angry, turned toward his wife of seven years. “It’s always a bad day for you, Miranda!”

Miranda began sobbing.

“I…I just couldn’t get it together today. Audrey refused to eat her lunch, and then she started holding her breath like Landon used to do, and I, I just…”

“Stop it!” Kent snapped. “We need to find Audrey before the sun goes down. You go toward the cliffs and I’ll take the back way to the Murphy’s house, through the forest, to see if she went over there. When you reach the cliffs, stay there, and I’ll circle back around to find you.”

“Oh god, Kent. You don’t think Audrey…”

“I don’t want to think about that right now, Miranda. I just want to find our daughter!”

Kent quickly headed into the forest. Their closest neighbor, the Murphy’s, lived about a mile away. Miranda turned in the opposite direction and began making her way toward the coastline as fast as she could manage. In her haste, she had only thrown on slippers which weren’t helping her footing as she kept stumbling over fallen branches and partially hidden rocks.

Before they had children, Kent and Miranda used to walk the same path every night to watch the sun set. They had even staked one end of a rope to the top of the cliffs so they could get down to the beach, although they had only been ambitious enough to partake in the climb on a few special occasions. Shortly after their first child, Landon, was born Kent removed the rope on Miranda’s request as she was worried that a young boy would find the rope a temptation.

“Audrey!” Miranda yelled out for the thousandth time. The salty air coming off the ocean filled her nostrils as she stopped a few feet away from the cliff and fell to her knees. She began crying, not allowing herself to look over the edge out of fear that she would see Audrey’s broken body lying at the bottom. It had been three years since her first born, Landon, had died of leukemia, and the thought of losing another child squeezed the very breath from her lungs.

“Get up, Miranda.”

Miranda raised her head, startled. She turned around to see Kent standing only a few feet away from her. The look on his face was cold and distant.

“Ke, Kent…” Miranda wiped away her tears as she slowly stood up. “I didn’t expect you to make it here so quickly. I must have been slower than…”

“I didn’t go to the Murphy’s, Miranda.”

A sense of fear crawled through Miranda’s veins. She looked deep into Kent’s dark brown eyes, but the man staring back at her no longer resembled her husband.

“I, I don’t understand, Kent. I didn’t find Audrey. I was about to look over the cliff to see…”

“Audrey is safe,” Kent replied in a calm, but unfriendly voice.

Kent took two steps toward Miranda, now standing only an arms length from her. Miranda’s heart was nearly pounding out of her chest. She desperately wanted to step back from her husband, but she was already close to the edge, and her instincts were screaming to her that she was in danger.

“What’s going on, Kent?”

Kent remained incredibly still, his eyes never leaving Miranda while the sun slowly disappeared behind the horizon.

“I need to protect our daughter, Miranda…and, unfortunately, I can’t trust you anymore.”

Miranda’s fear turned to anger as the word ‘trust’ rolled off Kent’s tongue. She straightened her shoulders and stared back at him with the same coldness he had been showing her. “What the hell are you talking about, Kent? Where’s Audrey?”

“I told you, Audrey is safe.”

Miranda began nodding her head up and down, her wits having fully returned from her post-nap stupor.

“So what was the point of this, Kent? Scare me into thinking something had happened to our daughter so you could make me feel guilty? Build your case that I’m a horrible parent so you could justify leaving me for one of the sluts you’ve been sleeping around with these last couple of years?”

“It’s not like that, Miranda. You’re sick.”

“I’m sick of your bullshit, Kent; that’s what I’m sick of!”

Miranda leaned forward and shoved Kent backward.

“Landon died and instead of mourning him, you pretended like nothing was wrong. Then, you started working long hours and running around on me…why? Because I wasn’t giving you enough attention? You know what, Kent…let’s go back to the house right now, download the divorce paperwork, and I’ll sign the damn papers tonight!”

“You’re not going anywhere, Miranda!” Kent shouted.

He pulled out the bottle of vodka that Miranda had been drinking from earlier and threw it at her feet. Kent then lunged toward Miranda, grabbed her from behind her neck and forced her downward so that her face was only inches away from the shards of broken glass that lay on the ground.

“You can twist the truth all you want with your words,” Kent said as he tightened his grip on Miranda’s neck, “but it’s your fault our lives are broken!”

Kent was in a full-out rage. He yanked Miranda back up by her neck and swung her out toward the ledge. The slightest push from him would send her body crashing to the sand and rocks below.

“Kent, please!” She pleaded. “What about Audrey?”

“Audrey needs a mother who can love her and keep her safe. And you and I both know you can’t do that!”

Miranda’s temper boiled over as she surmised that perhaps Kent had found a new woman who he believed could take her place.

“You coward!” Miranda screamed. She quickly reached back with her left hand and grabbed Kent’s belt, knowing there was no way he could now push her over the cliff without risking his own demise.

“Do it!” she yelled. “I dare you!”

Kent was startled by his wife’s sudden move and took a step back, giving Miranda the opportunity to free herself. She quickly used all of her strength and the weight of her body to thrust herself to the ground, breaking Kent’s grip. She then grabbed a large shard of glass from the broken bottle and with all her might, stabbed Kent in the thigh. He screamed in agony as he fell back, the glass having severed his femoral artery.

“What have you done?” He cried out, frantically using both his hands to try and stop the bleeding. Miranda moved toward him and immediately applied pressure to the piece of glass still stuck in Kent’s thigh.

“Where’s Audrey, you bastard!”

“With my mother,” Kent blubbered.

“Are you sure?” She questioned, applying even more pressure to his thigh. Miranda considered that Kent might have left Audrey with his mistress.

“Yes, I swear! She’s with my mother!”

Miranda was satisfied with Kent’s answer and drew her hand back. She knew it would only be a matter of minutes before he passed out from the blood loss. She considered running to the house to call 9-1-1, but that would entail Kent remaining alive and in Audrey’s life…and Miranda could no longer allow that.

“Goodbye, Kent,” she said calmly as she began pushing his body toward the edge. He tried desperately to grab a hold of Miranda, but a swift kick to his thigh was all she needed to extinguish his efforts.

“Miranda,” Kent whimpered, his spirit crushed as his body was about to go over. She said nothing as she gave him one final shove and watched in the moonlight as his body fell into the shallow waves of the incoming tide below.

——————–

Miranda sat straight up in bed, her heart beating rapidly from her nightmare. She grabbed her cell phone and quickly pressed it for the time…2:30 AM. Miranda looked over at the other side of the bed and saw that Kent wasn’t there. The slightest bit of doubt crept into her mind that perhaps his death hadn’t been imagined. Slightly worried, she got up to look for him.

As she entered the hallway from their bedroom, Miranda turned slightly to the left and pushed Audrey’s door open to see her beautiful daughter sleeping soundly in her bed. It may have just been a dream, but Miranda knew there was a brutal, underlying truth that she had to face. She immediately resolved to put her drinking to an end. She thought about the bottle of vodka that she kept in one of the kitchen cabinets, and decided she needed to pour it down the sink that instant.

Walking toward the kitchen, she could see that one of the lights was on. Kent must have been having difficulty sleeping and come down to make himself some tea, which wasn’t an unusual occurrence. Miranda’s thoughts turned to her husband and how she wanted to fix their marriage. Not only would she stop drinking, but she would also suggest they begin counseling right away.

Miranda wasn’t particularly religious, but right now she was under the belief that her nightmare was an intervention from God or Spirit or something along those lines. She knew she had experienced a ‘wake-up call’, and that it was time for her to get her life back together.

She almost called out for Kent as she neared the entry way to the kitchen, but suddenly Miranda got a horrible feeling in the pit of her stomach. Instead of entering the kitchen directly from the hallway, she changed directions and crept slowly toward the dining room where she could observe her husband through the archway. What she saw next shook her far worse than her nightmare.

Kent already had Miranda’s bottle of vodka out on the counter and was pouring a small amount of white powder into it. Miranda’s eyes then dropped to the counter’s surface were she could see a bottle of over-the-counter sleep medication with the lid removed.

Had Miranda’s dream been a premonition? Was the sleeping medication the reason she had been so groggy when she woke up from her nap in her nightmare?

She began to panic as fear and anger took over her senses…and then, just as quickly, a calm came over her. Her dream had already given her the answer as to how to deal with the situation; all Miranda had to do…was play along.

Tales of Terror: “The Beakwinz”

The Beakwinz

“I’ll be right there, Peter.” David set his e-reader on the night stand and turned to his wife. “Well, here we go.”

“Do you think we’re doing the right thing, honey?” she asked.

David rolled out of bed, put on a pair of socks to go with his sweatpants, and then grabbed his old Steelers t-shirt from the night stand.

“It’s been going on for over two weeks now, Karen.  I just don’t see any other way.  Hopefully he falls to sleep quickly and that will be the end of it.”

“You sure that bed’s going to hold the both of you?”

“I hope so,” he laughed.

David walked half way down the hall and entered Peter’s bedroom.  Peter had been diligent to clean his entire room and make sure nothing was under his bed or in front of his closet.  He had been performing the same routine every night since the monster had first appeared.  This way, his dad was always able to conduct a quick search before Peter went to bed.  Unfortunately, that hadn’t been enough to prevent the monster from visiting him after his parents had gone to sleep.

“Should we still do the ‘inspection’ before we go to sleep?” David asked.

Peter nodded his head up and done.  David proceeded to ensure that the window was locked; then he checked under the bed; and then he finished by opening the closet door and looking behind the hanging clothes.

“All clear.” Peter’s dad announced. “You sure you still need me to sleep in your bed tonight?”

“I do dad.  Just this once.  I’m sure when the monster sees you he’ll be scared off and then he won’t bother me anymore.”

Both David and Karen were concerned that Peter was exhibiting these fears at such a late age.  Peter was nearly eleven years old.  Monster inspections, night lights and even leaving the hall light on with Peter’s bedroom door open hadn’t helped.  David knew that sleeping in Peter’s bed could potentially make things even worse, but he was willing to try anything.

“So…you think there’s room for me in there?”

“I can scoot over dad.  But, can we read a story first before we go to sleep?”

David hadn’t read a bedtime story to Peter since he was eight.  Still, he figured it wouldn’t hurt.  David had heard that parents should continue reading with their children at a much later age, anyway.  After reading Peter’s latest “Amazing Spiderman” comic, both father and son were ready to retire.

“Thanks for sleeping in here tonight, Dad. I love you.”

“I love you too, Peter.  Good night.”

David reached over and turned off the lamp on the two-drawer dresser next to the bed.  The mattress was uncomfortable, to say the least, but he had enjoyed reading the comic book with Peter, and it seemed to be turning into a good father-son bonding experience.  After spending a few minutes in the quiet of his own mind reminiscing about Peter’s earlier childhood, David fell asleep.

“Hi, Dad!”

David heard the words spoken, but it wasn’t Peter’s voice that had said them.  Whoever was talking had a gruff, menacing tone.  David quickly opened his eyes, but it was too late.  Two large, scaly hands grabbed him by his shoulders and tore him away from Peter’s bed.

“Dad!” Peter cried out having just woken up.

The monster squeezed David so tight that he couldn’t muster a single word.  In the moonlight David could see that the beast stood a good seven feet tall, had large, olive green scales covering its entire body, and was nearly as wide as it was tall.

“Let go of my Dad!” Peter shouted.

The monster stared at David with its enormous, yellow eyes.

“You’ll do nicely,” it said with a treacherous, toothy grin.

David felt the monster squeeze even tighter, his ribs and various other bones breaking from the beast’s unfathomable grasp.  It then proceeded to thrust David’s entire body into its cavernous mouth.

“No!” Peter jumped out of his bed, grabbed his baseball bat, and started swinging at the abomination.

David lay crumpled inside of the monster’s jaw, his lungs having been punctured and the foul stench of death surrounding him.  Unable to breath or even cry out, David simply waited in terror for the inevitable. The beast than began to chew.

“David!  Peter!  What’s going on?” Karen was now hammering on the bedroom door, having heard her son’s screams, but the monster had been mindful enough to lock it before attacking.

“Nicely done, Peter,” the monster finally spoke after it finished savoring the last few pieces of David that had gotten stuck in between its teeth. “You were a scared a little boy, just as you should have been, and it created the perfect opportunity for me to meet your father.”

Peter stopped swinging the bat, the tears in his eyes ceasing as he took a step back and looked at the beast standing in front of him.

“But…how did you get so big?” Peter whimpered. “You were only my size before.”

“Us Beakwinz have the ability to shrink and grow as we need.”

“Beakwinz?” Peter repeated the word, as though saying it out loud might help him to understand more clearly what he was looking at.  Along with its green scales and yellow eyes, the Beakwinz had large spikes protruding from its skull down to its lower back, and its neck was so short that it appeared as though his head and body were one.

“Are you going to eat me too?”

“Maybe, someday,” the monster replied. “But I doubt you’d be foolish enough to sleep in your child’s bed if I were to visit them.  And right now you’re only a boy and us Beakwinz certainly don’t eat children; that would be an awful thing to do, don’t you think?”

“But you are awful!” Peter retorted. “You ate my father!”

“Only because I was hungry,” the Beakwinz said in a defensive tone.

Peter stood motionless, staring at the monster in front of him.  His sadness over losing his father hadn’t waned, yet his fear was fading.  The Beakwinz no longer seemed as terrifying now that it wasn’t trying to scare Peter.

“Where do you come from?” Peter asked, his mother continuing to beat on the door, screaming at him to let her in.

“From the world beyond,” the Beakwinz replied as it began to shrink back down to Peter’s size. “We can only enter the human world through a child’s bedroom closet.”

“Why?”

“Don’t know; don’t care.  Those are the ways of the Beakwinz.”

The beast turned around and began walking toward Peter’s closet. “Goodbye Peter,” it said as it disappeared into the darkness.

And then the Beakwinz was gone, just as Peter’s mother kicked the door open and turned on the main bedroom light.

“Peter!” Karen hurried over to her son and wrapped him in her arms. She began scanning the room, looking for her husband. “Where’s your father?”

“He’s gone, mommy.” Peter responded, the shock from the night’s events having left him numb.

“What are you talking about?” Karen looked around the room once more and then turned her focus back to Peter.

“Peter!  I asked you a question!” Karen shook him slightly, trying to jar him from his trance. “Where is your father?”

“The Beakwinz,” Peter whispered. “The Beakwinz got him.”

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Tales of Terror: “A Gaze to Remember”

Tales of Terror: A Gaze to Remember

“Is that your cell phone going off?” Ms. Gordon inquired with a raised eyebrow.  The sound of the vibrating phone persisted as she lowered the sculpting chisel to her side, resting her hand just below the short hem line of the off-white sun dress she was wearing.

“Sorry about that.” Doug broke away from his pose and grabbed his phone. “Normally I ask my wife not to text me during training sessions, but it’s our anniversary tonight and we’re trying to wrap up our plans.”

“Anniversary?” Ms. Gordon inquired, waiting patiently while he texted his wife back. “How many years?”

“Uh,” Doug appeared overwhelmed at the challenge of multi-tasking. “Five.” He threw the phone back on his pile of clothes. “Okay; there shouldn’t be any more interruptions.”

Ms. Gordon watched intently as Doug returned to his place on the small platform in her art studio.  He was the perfect balance of both handsome and muscular; a modern day ‘Achilles’ that most women only wished their husbands could resemble.

“Do you love your wife, Doug?” Ms. Gordon asked as she raised her chisel to the marble statue in front of her.

“Of course I do,” he responded defensively.

“I see.” Ms. Gordon lightly chipped away at her art. “Then why do you lie to her?”

Doug’s semi-erect manhood began retreating, as though the temperature in the room had suddenly dropped. “I thought we agreed that we wouldn’t discuss my personal life?”

“It was your cell phone that went off,” She said curtly. “Besides, our time is nearly up and I realized I don’t know much about the man I’ve been sleeping with these last few months.”

Ms. Gordon continued with her work, ignoring Doug’s pouting.  Her perfect olive skin and muscle tone suggested she was in her 30’s, though Doug suspected she was older than she appeared.

“Sorry.  I just…I don’t want to talk about it.  Jenny’s a good wife, but with the kids and my long hours, things have gotten, you know, difficult.”

“I admit, I’ve never been married, but from what I understand ‘difficult’ comes with the territory.”

“Sure, but it’s tough.  I barely make ends meet as a personal trainer…although this gig you gave me is really helping out.”

“And I suppose it doesn’t hurt that you get to sleep with your benefactor at the same time?” Ms. Gordon’s tone had a bite to it that had taken Doug by surprise. “I’m not paying you to have sex with me, Doug. I’m paying you to model.”

“Yeah, I know, but I’ve got needs and Jenny…she’s just always with our kids.  Doesn’t leave much room for me.”

“And I suppose the fact that I have no strings attached makes things with me…’simpler’?”

“Exactly.  Hell, I don’t even know your first name.”

“That’s because you never asked me.” Ms. Gordon stepped up on her stool so she could better reach the muscles on her sculpture between its shoulders and neck. “It’s Barbara, by the way, and it’s a good thing you’re beautiful, Doug, because you certainly don’t make a woman feel very special with your words.”

“What the fuck?” Doug crossed his arms out of frustration while the veins in his muscles began to bulge slightly. “I thought you were having fun too? I can just pose for you if you want to skip the pleasantries?”

“Oh, now don’t get your feelings all hurt.  Obviously I enjoy your company or I wouldn’t have hired you in the first place.  My point is simply that someday, your beauty will run out…and you might want to think about the kind of man that will leave you as.”

“I’m only 25; I’ve got plenty of time.”

“You’d be surprised.” Barbara took her eyes off the sculpture temporarily and looked at Doug. “Would you please uncross your arms?”

The red in his face faded slightly as he re-positioned his arms.

“How about we change the subject?” Doug suggested as he rolled his shoulders back to accentuate his physique. “You say you don’t know much about me, but I don’t know anything about you either.”

“I’m an open book,” Barbara responded. “Ask me anything.”

“Well, where are you from?”

“Before I became a ‘California girl’, I lived in Savannah, Georgia.”

“Your accent doesn’t sound Southern?”

Barbara laughed. “That’s because I’m originally from Greece.”

“Oh, that’s cool.” Outside of remembering a few details about Greek mythology, Doug wasn’t very familiar with the country. “How about your statues, er, sculptures? Who usually buys things like that?”

A sly grin formed on her face. “Mostly women who want something ‘pretty’ to look at.”

“What do you charge them?”

“As you can see from my residence, I do okay.”

Barbara’s house was located in the hills of Santa Barbara with a clear view of the ocean.  Although her studio was modest, the rest of the house featured high ceilings, marble floors, and an amazing pool in the back that she and Doug had fooled around in on many occasions.

Barbara stepped down from her stool, took a step back from her work, and sighed.

“What’s wrong?” Doug asked.

“Well, I’m thinking I might need to re-do your face.  It’s just not coming out the way I wanted.”

“Can you do that?”

“That’s kind of up to you.  See, your body came out perfect, but look at your eyes.”

Doug stepped over to observe the sculpture. “Yeah?”

“There’s no depth to them.”

“I don’t get it.”

“Big shock there,” Barbara teased as she patted him on the rear. “Stand back over where you were.”

“I was thinking,” he said as he walked back to his designated spot, “since this is our last session, maybe we should celebrate afterward?”

“Let me guess; you’d like to see me naked one last time before I send you on your way?”

“Naked is a good start.” Doug pictured himself removing Barbara’s sundress and taking her right there in the studio, their bodies writhing together in a dance of ecstasy he’d become addicted to ever since their first ‘session’.

“If you’re quite ready to put your libido aside for a moment,” Barbara moved away from the sculpture and stood directly in front of Doug, “would you please look into my eyes?”

“Sure.” After a few moments had gone by, Doug began feeling awkward. “You want me to just keep staring at you?”

“Yes.” Barbara replied. “Now, picture your wife.”

“Hey!”

“Just do it, for God’s sake!” Barbara commanded. “And no talking.  This will only take a minute and then we’ll be done.  I need to see your soul and right now you’re looking at me as a sex toy, which just won’t do.  I need to feel your heart, Doug.”

“Think about Jenny,” she continued. “How you’ll be looking into her eyes across the table in the restaurant tonight.  Reflecting upon the last five years you’ve spent together and the lifetime you hope to share with her.  Think about how much you love her.”

There was a distant light within the dark pools of Barbara’s eyes that began shining brighter and brighter.  An overwhelming amount of guilt flooded Doug’s thoughts.  He refused to cry, but was suddenly feeling unbearable anguish on the inside.

“That’s it.  That’s the depth I needed.” Before the words had even left Barbara’s mouth, Doug felt his entire body stiffen as though he were paralyzed.  He tried to look around, but couldn’t move his head.  He could neither breathe nor feel his heart beat, although he was still able to see and hear everything.

“Wondering what happened to you, are we?” She asked with a gleam of treachery in her eyes. “I’ll fetch a mirror for you.”

Barbara raised a small compact in front of Doug’s face.  In the reflection, he saw a stone-faced version of himself.

“Alas, that’s what I meant by you’d be surprised as to how quickly time can run out.”

Barbara walked over to Doug’s pile of clothes and scooped them up.

“Doesn’t appear you’ll be needing these anymore.  I’ll just set them in your car after I drive it down to the park and leave it.  Handy for me that you never told anyone who you were with or where you were going, eh?  That’s why men like you are perfect for my line of work; eager to keep secrets, and so deserving of the end result.”

Doug watched Barbara as she exited the studio, leaving him to reflect upon his wasted life and the eternity he would spend regretting the decisions he had made.  His wife, Jenny; their two young children, Ana and Jacob; the life they had planned; all of it, he quickly realized, was lost forever.

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Tales of Terror: “The Rising”

The Rising Short Story

Kayden removed his headphones and ran his hand through his unkempt, greasy brown hair.  He looked at the bottom right corner of one of his computer monitors and saw that the time was creeping up on 3 AM.

“Not a bad effort for a Friday night” he thought as he signed off from his account and plopped on top of his bed covers.  It was the middle of summer in Pontiac, Michigan and although the air conditioning was blasting throughout the rest of the house, Kayden preferred the warm night’s air coming through the open window in his bedroom.  The sound of crickets from the park nearby created a peaceful melody that settled his mind after an evening filled with tense gaming.

Just as Kayden was about to fall asleep, he heard a noise coming from outside his window.  He continued to listen, the crickets’ chirping becoming fainter as he realized that someone was crying in his backyard.  Kayden got up from his bed and looked out the sliding glass door that led from his bedroom to the pool in the backyard.  He turned on the patio light and saw a woman knelt over one of the lawn chairs.

“Are you okay?” he asked, opening the sliding glass door and making his way toward her.

The woman turned around, startled.

“I…I’m sorry. Is this your home?” The woman appeared to be a few years older than Kayden, probably in her early-20’s, and was covered in dirt.

“Yeah.” Kayden stopped a few feet away from her and crouched down to meet her at eye level. “What are you doing back here?  Are you hurt?”

“I don’t know. I…where am I?”

“Um,” Kayden was struggling to maintain eye contact, having noticed that the woman wasn’t wearing anything under her loose-fitting, transparent white gown.  She had long, dark blonde hair and the blue in her eyes was so light, they almost looked white. “Stonegate Estates,” he managed.

The woman stared blankly at him.

“Pontiac…Michigan.” He added.

“I’m in Pontiac?” she half-asked, looking around dazedly. “That’s where I died.” Her voice faded as she stood up and made a half-hearted attempt to brush some of the dirt off her arms and legs.

“You did what??”

“I died,” she affirmed, “in the Pontiac State Hospital.”

Kayden wasn’t familiar with the hospital she was referring to, but judging by the woman’s appearance and mental state, he suspected she could be referring to a local mental institution.

“I’m not supposed to be here,” she said under her breath.  She looked down at her feet, her mind drifting into an abyss of forgotten memories.

“Where are you supposed to be?” Kayden waited a few seconds for her to respond, but the woman remained lost in her thoughts.

“How did you get here?” He tried again.

“I…I climbed out of my grave.  Over there.” She pointed toward the back corner of the yard next to the small tool shed.  Kayden thought he could make out a small pile of dirt and sod near the area she had indicated.

The woman’s eyes made their way back up to Kayden, slowly inspecting her own body along the way. “My body…it’s as if I never died.”

Kayden didn’t believe for a second that the woman had actually dug herself out of a grave in his backyard.  He knew there had once been a mental asylum called the Clinton Valley Center located where the neighborhood now stood, but that place was torn down over 15 years ago.  Kayden only knew this because he had looked it up on Wikipedia after a few kids from school had teased him about living in the ‘haunted subdivision’.

“Is there someone I can call for you?”

The woman laughed under her breath. “I suppose you think I’m crazy.”

“No…maybe a little confused?”

“That’s all right.  Everyone thinks…thought,” she corrected herself, “that I’m crazy.  My mother had me committed.  She thought I suffered from a terrible mental condition.”

“Did you?”

“No.  I just really liked having sex.  I don’t know why.”

Kayden suddenly felt very awkward.

“I’m sorry.  I didn’t mean to embarrass you.” She turned away from him and looked up at the stars in the night’s sky. “That’s exactly the kind of thing I used to say that got me put into the Hospital.  What year is it?”

“2015.” Kayden couldn’t take his eyes off her.  The young woman’s naked form had become even more visible as the moon’s light shone down through her gown, exposing her ivory white skin.

After several moments had gone by, Kayden started to feel sorry for the young woman.  Clearly she needed help, and his staring at her was starting to make him feel like a pervert.

“Would you like to get cleaned up?” Kayden took a couple of steps toward her.  He could smell the musty scent of fresh mud on her.  He figured she came in through the side gate, which his dad never bothered locking, and must have just started digging the hole with her own bare hands.  He wanted to get a closer look at the supposed grave, but didn’t want to give her the impression that he didn’t believe her.

“My sister is at a friend’s house tonight so we can go raid her bedroom for some clothes.  She’s only a Freshman, but I think her stuff will fit you okay.” Kayden tried to be subtle as he evaluated if she could fit into any of his sister’s clothes.  She was curvier than his younger sister, and a few inches taller as well.

“Okay.”

“What’s your name?” Kayden asked as they began walking back toward the sliding glass door.

“Elizabeth.” The words appeared foreign to her as they rolled off her tongue. “And yours?”

“Kayden.”

“Thank you for your help, Kayden.”

“You bet.” He slid the door open for her and they walked into his room. “We’ll just need to be quiet since my parents are asleep.  Their bedroom is upstairs on the other side of the house so we should be okay.”

Kayden escorted Elizabeth into his sister’s bedroom across the hallway.  She chose a pair of sweatpants and a sweatshirt from the closet, and then he showed her to the downstairs bathroom.

“I’ll get you something to eat while you get cleaned up.  Any requests?”

“Anything will do,” she responded, allowing her gown to fall to the bathroom floor. “I’m absolutely famished.”

Kayden turned around immediately, though he had already gotten an eyeful.  He quickly decided that the synthetically enhanced women he was used to viewing on the internet didn’t come close to the real thing.

“Okay,” he said shyly as he closed the door behind him. “I’ll, um, see you shortly.”

It took Elizabeth a couple of minutes to figure out how to work the shower, but she eventually got the temperature to where she wanted it.  She slowly washed away the dirt and grime off her body while trying to recall details about her previous life.  Memories of her childhood and the psychiatric hospital flooded her mind, though she couldn’t organize them into any kind of timeline that made sense.

As she stepped out of the shower, the hunger pains in her stomach became severe.  She hurriedly dried off, put on the clean clothes, and made her way down the hall into Kayden’s bedroom.

“I have pizza rolls, hot pockets, Doritos and Mountain Dew.” Kayden motioned Elizabeth to come over and sit with him on his bed. “I know it’s not very healthy, but…”

“It’s wonderful.” Elizabeth said as she sat cross-legged on Kayden’s bed and stuffed a pizza roll into her mouth.

“So, what year did you die?” Kayden asked nonchalantly.

“1952, I think.” Elizabeth took a drink of Mountain Dew. “This is interesting,” she said with a slight wince.

“You’ve never had Mountain Dew?”

“I had a bottle of Coca-Cola, once.  My mother never allowed me to drink soda or eat anything with sugar in it.  She believed it made my ‘condition’ worse.  But one time I snuck over to the drug store with my friends after school and drank one.  I liked it!”

Kayden chuckled at Elizabeth’s enthusiasm over a bottle of pop.  As they continued talking, he couldn’t help but start to believe her story.  He knew it was completely ridiculous, but the way she responded to everything he was telling her made it appear as though she really hadn’t been alive since the 1950’s.

“Oh my God!” Elizabeth’s eyes got wide.  She bolted from the bed and ran back into the bathroom.  Kayden quickly placed his can of Mountain Dew on the bookshelf and followed.

“Are you okay, Elizabeth?” he asked, standing outside the door.

After a couple of minutes he heard the toilet flush and Elizabeth opened the door, her face appearing pale and drawn.

“I’m sorry,” she said moving in toward Kayden for a hug. “This is a little embarrassing but I’m afraid I just ‘lost’ everything you fed me.”

“No worries.” Kayden took a moment to enjoy the feel of Elizabeth’s body next to his.  He was 17 years old and had never had a girlfriend. “Would you like something different to eat?”

“No, thank you,” Elizabeth released Kayden from her embrace and headed back into his bedroom. “I think I’ll take a break.”

She started looking around at all of the things in his room, trying to distract herself from the pain in her stomach.

“Why do you have so many televisions?” She pointed to the two computer monitors on his desk and then over at the large television standing on his dresser.

“Oh, well the two you’re standing next to; those aren’t televisions.  Those are computer screens.”

Elizabeth looked back at him, clueless.

“Would you like to watch a movie?” Kayden asked, changing the subject.

“Sure, I guess that would be…” Elizabeth grabbed her stomach and fell to her knees in pain.

“Are you okay?” Kayden rushed to her side.

“I…I guess it’s just hunger pains, but…the food you gave me. It’s just not…”

“No worries, I’ll get you something better this time.”

After a few minutes Kayden returned with a sandwich and some orange juice.

“This should work better.”

The smell of the food turned Elizabeth’s stomach, but she knew she had to eat.  She was just about to take a bite of the sandwich when suddenly they heard screaming coming from outside the house.

“Help!” they heard someone yell out.

“Help me!” another shouted.

More and more screams filled the air as Kayden and Elizabeth ran to the living room so they could see what was happening.  It sounded as though the entire neighborhood was shouting.  They flung open the drapes to see dozens of people dressed in white gowns walking up and down the streets.  Many of them were holding their sides, no doubt experiencing the same kind of hunger pains Elizabeth had been.

“Did you all come from the same place?” Kayden asked.

A look of terror grew in Elizabeth’s eyes. “Oh, God.  I’m not the only one.”

“It’s okay. I’m sure we can help them.” Kayden placed his hand on Elizabeth’s.  Her hand was ice cold.

“You don’t understand,” Elizabeth squeezed his hand. “Some of those patients…they were dangerous.”

“Well, I’m sure the authorities are on their way to lend assistance.” Kayden glanced at the front door to make sure the dead bolt was secure.

Elizabeth fell to the ground holding her stomach again.  Kayden quickly moved in, placed his shoulder under her arm, and helped her to the couch.

“Oh no,” Elizabeth began crying hysterically. She scooted as far away from Kayden as possible.

“What’s wrong?” he asked.

“I know why everyone’s screaming.” Elizabeth began shaking her head back and forth.

“Are they all hungry? Is the pain that bad?”

“Those screams aren’t coming from the patients…they’re coming from your neighbors.”

“What?”

“Kayden.  My hunger…the reason the food you gave me didn’t work is because my body doesn’t want it. The only thing that smells good to me right now…is you!  I literally want to hurl myself at you and sink my teeth into you.”

Kayden’s temporary crush immediately vanished.  He slowly stood up from the couch and backed away from her. “That’s not funny, Elizabeth.  I mean, you’re joking right.” Kayden’s mind rushed through all of things he knew about zombies.  Elizabeth certainly didn’t look like one.

“I’m not supposed to be here, Kayden,” Elizabeth’s voice became very stern. “None of us are.”

“Don’t worry, Elizabeth.  I’m going to get you help.”

“I don’t think you can, Kayden.” Elizabeth began shaking feverishly, her eyes fixed intensely on Kayden. “I don’t know that I can hold myself back.”

Kayden looked at the fragile woman in front of him and figured he could hold her off if he really needed to.

“I’m going to go get my parents.  Stay right here.” Kayden turned toward the stairs and began to call out for his parents.

As soon as Kayden placed his foot on the first step, he felt the weight of Elizabeth’s body on top of him.  He was surprised by her strength as she held him face down on the stairs with her left arm while she bit into the right side of his neck.

“Elizabeth!” Kayden gasped, his blood gushing all over the stairs and the wall.

The hunger had taken Elizabeth over, her body and mind no longer her own.  As she sunk her teeth deeper into Kayden’s neck, the memories of her past life suddenly disappeared, along with her humanity.

“Please, Eliz…beth,” Kayden choked out of desperation.

Annoyed that her prey was still attempting to talk to her, Elizabeth quickly flipped him on to his back, and ripped his throat out so that she could continue to feed on him in peace.

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Tales of Terror: “The Scary, Hairy Monster”

The Scary Hairy Monster

“Oh my God! Pull over!” Sherry shouted.

Bryan whipped his BMW over to the side of the old country road as dust and gravel flew in all directions.

“Jesus! What the hell, Sherry?”

“Check that out!” she cackled in wicked delight, pointing to a sign a few feet in front of them.

“The Scary, Hairy Monster Vineyard,” Kiera read out loud from the back seat.  The weathered sign featured the picture of a monster that bore some resemblance to ‘Bigfoot’, though the teeth were much sharper and the eyes much scarier than the standard depictions of the mythical beast.  Zach leaned over Kiera’s lap in order to get a better look for himself.

“We’ve got to stop here!” Sherry told Bryan, placing her hand on his thigh. “This is the perfect place to finish our little wine tour before the party.”

“Are you fucking nuts?” Bryan said, his voice still raised. “Next time you want me to pull over just ask like a normal person for crying out loud!”

“Oh, you would have totally missed it if I hadn’t been so dramatic.” Sherry laughed off Bryan’s attempt to scold her.  They had been dating for almost a year now, and Bryan never stayed angry at her for more than a couple of minutes.

“Fine.” Bryan took a deep breath and turned the car toward the gravel driveway that lead up to the vineyard.  He ran his hand through his dark blonde hair and glanced over at Sherry, wanting to make sure she knew that she owed him one. “I’ll be collecting after the party,” he added.

“Maybe sooner,” Sherry responded impishly, her green eyes staring back at Bryan with lustful intent. “Depending on how good the wine is, of course.”

Kiera rolled her eyes.  Sherry was her best friend and had convinced her that a double date of wine tasting with Bryan and Zach would be fun the afternoon before their annual Halloween party.  However, Kiera had found Zach to be obnoxious and conceded, and wasn’t excited about the prospect of wasting further time in his company; especially if she was to be left alone with him while Sherry and Bryan escaped into the nearby woods for some ‘play’ time.

“Are you sure this little detour won’t make us late?” Kiera asked.

“Ah, we have lots of time,” Zach said, leaning toward her.  He placed his hand on the back of Sherry’s seat so that he could flex his arm just enough to try and impress her with his physique.  Kiera displayed a look of disgust as she pushed him back.

“Let’s take it one base at a time there, Romeo.” Kiera kept her eyes locked on the vineyard sign as they drove past it.  As if Zach wasn’t already making the situation unpleasant enough, a feeling of anxiety crept up Kiera’s spine.  Part of her wasn’t convinced that the name of the vineyard was meant to be a joke.

The driveway ran about a half-mile up the Napa Valley hillside and ended in front of a small, one-story house.  The red paint on the house looked fairly worn, as did the white picket fence surrounding it.  The parking area was more dirt than gravel, and there were no other cars to be seen.  As the four of them got out of the car, Zach pointed out that there were steel bars in all of the windows.

“That’s not creepy or anything,” Kiera said.

“Oh, come on,” Sherry pleaded to her friend as they walked toward the house. “It’s all for effect. This is so cool!”

A narrow walkway led them around to the side of the house where the garage had been converted into a small tasting room.  There was a rusted “Wine Tasting” sign hanging a couple of feet from the open, barn-style sliding door.  Inside, an older woman in her 70’s stood behind a faded oak counter.  She looked up as they approached.

“Good afternoon,” the woman addressed them. “I’m afraid we’re only open for another twenty minutes.  It’s already 3:40 in the afternoon and I close the tasting room promptly at 4 PM every day.”

“We’ll just have to drink fast then,” Bryan winked as he pulled a $50 bill from his wallet and laid it on the wood counter.  The old woman looked at the bill longingly.  Bryan imagined she didn’t have many customers and that there was an opportunity to buy a little favoritism.

She turned toward the shelf behind her and grabbed four glasses along with two bottles of already opened wine. “We currently have two wines that we’re pouring today; a red table wine and a slightly pricier Pinot Noir.”

Bryan, Sherry and Zach all sat down at the counter while Kiera began walking around, looking at the pictures on the wall.  Most of them were faded photos of what she guessed was their host in her younger years.  There were a fair amount of pics of the woman with two different gentlemen, along with what appeared to be a black and white family photo celebrating the opening of the tasting room.

“When did your family open the winery?” Kiera asked from across the room.

“1941,” the old woman responded. “I was only eight years old when my father moved my mother and me to Napa from Pittsburgh.  My father’s family had worked in the steel industry all their lives, and he wanted something better for us.”

Kiera was about to ask a follow-up question when Sherry jumped in.

“And what of the Scary, Hairy Monster?” Sherry asked, accentuating each of the first letters of the vineyard’s name. “Did he move here with you?” she laughed.

“No,” the woman responded, appearing to take no notice of Sherry’s mocking tone. “I imagine he’s been living here since before our founding fathers even settled this great country.”

“I see,” Sherry said as she took it upon herself to pour a second glass. “And, how did you learn about him, then?  Invite him to dinner one night, did you?” Brian and Zach both laughed like hyenas as they grew more inebriated.

“Sherry!” Kiera snapped, embarrassed by her best friend’s behavior.

“Oh, it’s all right,” the woman said. “I’m rather accustomed to outsiders not believing.  The winery was originally named after my mother, Isabella.  One night, after we had only lived here a short while, my father heard a great commotion in the hen house.  When he went to investigate, he discovered that all of the hens had been eaten, their bloody remains scattered about.  Over the next few weeks, the rest of our livestock disappeared in a similar fashion.”

“So, it was the scary, hairy monster that ate your pets?” Bryan jeered.

“Indeed,” the old woman affirmed. “We don’t have time for me to indulge you with the entire tale, but after my father died at the monster’s hands, my mother re-named the winery in hopes that it would somehow appease the monster.  I also lost two husbands to the beast before I finally gave up and decided that living alone was for the best.”

Kiera suddenly felt very sorry for the old woman.  It was clear to her that the woman believed what she was telling them to be true.

“Have you ever seen him?” Sherry asked.

“Only once,” the woman responded, her voice fading as she reflected upon the memory.

“And was he as scary as you’ve made him out to be on your bottle?” Sherry pointed drunkenly at the label.

“It was very dark the night my father was killed,” the old woman turned her attention directly toward Sherry, “but even in the darkness I could still make out how truly terrible the monster’s appearance was.”

Sherry grew quiet, as did Bryan and Zach.  The woman had spoken with such conviction and authenticity that it had killed their ‘buzz’.

“Why didn’t you just move away?” Kiera inquired, softly.

“I thought about it, many times.  However, something has compelled me to stay here all these years.  Maybe because I know the monster’s secret and I can help keep people safe from him.” The old woman suddenly appeared startled and looked down at the watch on her wrist.

“Oh, dear, it’s after 4,” she said as she began to tremble. She moved as quickly as she could over to the door and began sliding it closed. “I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean to let you stay so long.  I’m afraid you’ll all have to stay here tonight. It’s no longer safe for you to return to your car.”

“What are you talking about?” Bryan rose up from the counter and placed his hand on the edge of the door, stopping the woman’s progress. “We’re not staying here, lady.”

“But you must!” she pleaded. “You could all die if you go out there!” She continued to try closing the door, but to no avail as Bryan straightened out his arm to impede its further movement.

“Listen,” Bryan said, trying to calm the woman down. “We’re just going to take the bottle of wine we paid for and then we’ll all be on our way.” Bryan nodded to Zach to grab the half-drunk bottle of Pinot and then signaled for Sherry to join them.  Kiera was scared that the woman might be telling the truth, but convinced herself that it made more sense to head to the car and get out of there.

“It’ll be all right,” Kiera said as she touched the old woman on her shoulder. “Thank you so much for your hospitality.”

The woman didn’t say anything back to Kiera; instead she just shook her head, and began closing the door again now that Bryan had removed his arm.

“Wow!” Bryan said to Sherry as they walked back to the front of the house. “Nice choice on the winery.”

“Don’t pretend like you weren’t entertained,” Sherry retorted.  In truth, Bryan was annoyed more than anything else.  All he’d gotten for his $50 was a couple of already opened bottles of mediocre wine and a lost opportunity to have sex with Sherry before the party.

The group made their way back to where the car was parked, only to discover that all four tires on Bryan’s BMW had been slashed.

“Holy shit, dude!” Zach walked around the car to observe the damage. “You think it was the old lady?”

“Fucking Hell!” Bryan stormed over to the woman’s house and began pounding on the front door. “Unlock this God damned door!”

“That’s impossible, you guys.” Kiera tried to reason with Sherry and Zach. “She was with us the entire time we’ve been here.”

“Yeah, but I bet she had something to do with it,” Zach said, now drinking directly from the bottle of Pinot. “Lure’s people into her tasting room on Halloween; has someone slash the tires on their visitor’s cars so they can sucker them into staying and spending all their money on her crappy wine.”

“It’s a nice trick, bitch, but I can play that game too!” Bryan grabbed a large rock on the ground and flung it through the window. “You might think those bars can protect you, but I can cause a whole lot of damage if you don’t make this right!”

“What the hell are you doing!” Kiera yelled.  She tried to restrain Bryan from hurling another rock but he just shoved her down on the ground.

“Stay out of my way, Kiera!”

“Hey, Bryan, calm down.” Sherry moved toward him tentatively. “Let’s just call a tow truck.”

“From where?” Bryan responded angrily. “We’re in the middle of nowhere!”

“Uh, guys,” Zach stammered. “I’m not getting a signal on my phone.”

“See!” Bryan exclaimed as he threw another rock into one of the house’s windows. “So you’d better make this right you old hag!”

As soon as the words had left Bryan’s mouth, something growled from behind the large group of oak trees on the left side of the house.

“Real funny, Za….” Bryan’s voice cut off as he turned around to see the outline of an enormous animal charging straight toward them.  Without hesitation, Bryan bolted down the driveway on foot, leaving his three friends to fend for themselves.

Kiera grabbed Sherry and started backing up toward the front door of the house. “Please,” she cried out, hoping the old woman might help them. “Please, let us in.”

Zach was slow to respond to the events transpiring before him, the wine having taken full effect.  Before he had even fully turned around to see what the others had been looking at, the monster had him in his clutches and ripped him in half.

Sherry let out a blood-curdling scream as Zach’s insides spilled upon the ground. The monster continued holding one half of Zach’s body in each of his arms as he stared intensely at Kiera and Sherry.  He then lifted his right hand to take a bite out of of Zach’s entrails.

Kiera squeezed her best friend’s arm, anticipating they would be next if they continued to stand there.  She was just about to pull Sherry away to make a run for it when the front door opened and a pair of arms pulled her and Sherry safely inside.

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Tales of Terror: “Charlie”

Charlie the Clown

“That’s just wrong, Dad,” Stacy said unamused.  She continued to finish her dinner while her father, Gary, stuffed a junior-sized ‘evil clown’ costume with worn-out towels.

“What? I’m just saying your mom and I have always felt bad for never giving your brother and you another sibling. So, I decided to just make you guys one this Halloween.”

Stacy decided to ignore her dad’s teasing and instead focus on the YouTube clip playing on her tablet.  She wasn’t a big fan of Halloween, and especially not of the darker and scarier decorations that had become the recent trend.  Stacy hated being scared.

“I think it’s awesome, Dad!” Stacy’s younger brother, Dustin, chimed in.

“Thank you, Dustin.” Gary took a step back to admire his work.  He had found the clown on a clearance sale the previous year, and decided it would be the perfect addition for their annual Halloween party.  The costume featured a fairly standard clown appearance from the neck down, but it was the blood-stained collar and the horrific-looking mask that had convinced Gary to purchase it.  The clown’s mask was painted white with rudimentary stitching around his eyes, mouth and the sides of his face.  There were also smears of blood on both his temple and around his mouth, and his eyes glowed red with an intensity that made them appear to be on fire.

“What do you think, honey,” he addressed his wife. “Should we call him Pogo?”

Gary’s wife, Nancy, grimaced.  She was not in favor of her husband’s suggestion to name the clown after the infamous serial killer, John Wayne Gacy’s alter-ego, ‘Pogo the Clown’.

“I don’t think I want that kind of negative energy in the house, Gary.”

“Very well,” he replied despondently. “Dustin, what should we call your new brother?”

“Charlie!” Dustin said eagerly, his bright blue eyes looking into his fathers for the nod of approval.

“Charlie it is,” Gary affirmed.

Nancy was a little nervous that Gary was encouraging their 12-year old son to be quite so enthralled with the darker side of Halloween.  However, she tolerated it since Stacy had never shown the slightest interest and Gary was desperate to have a ‘partner in crime’.  Nancy enjoyed Halloween as well, but left the more morbid details of their décor up to her husband.

After Gary finished placing some black boots on ‘Charlie’, he sat the clown down in an old white chair and placed him in the wall space between Stacy’s and Dustin’s bedroom doors.  The kids’ bedrooms were on the main level, directly across from the bathroom.  Gary took wicked delight knowing that everyone at the party would have to walk by Charlie.

The rest of the evening was spent in typical school-night fashion as dinner concluded and the kids disappeared into their rooms.  Stacy glared at Charlie as she passed by him on the way to her bedroom.  The clown gave off a horrible vibe with his glowing red eyes.  She turned off the hallway light to see if it would help, but the glow remained.

“Dammit dad!” she uttered under her breath.  Stacy quickly walked into her bedroom and locked the door.  Her parents had told her it was against the rules to sleep with her door locked, but she didn’t care.  Tonight, and for the rest of the week leading up to the Halloween party, Stacy decided she’d rather take her chances with her parents getting upset than be at the mercy of some demonic-looking clown…even if she knew, from a logical standpoint, that Charlie was just a glorified stuffed puppet.

Stacy followed her usual pattern of staying up until almost midnight texting her friends while she lied in bed watching TV.  She was just about to nod off when she heard a shuffling sound outside her door.  Stacy placed her ear next to her door to listen more carefully.  The sound of polyester material rubbing against itself filled her eardrums.  Stacy trembled slightly as she grabbed her computer desk chair and placed it under the doorknob for extra insurance that nothing could get into her bedroom.

“Am I imagining this?” Stacy asked herself as she got back into bed, her eyes remaining fixed on the door while images flashed in her head of Charlie walking menacingly up and down the hallway.  After about a half-hour the sounds in the hallway stopped.  Stacy felt temporary relief as she plugged in her earbuds and tried to fall asleep.

—-

Midnight was approaching on the eve of Halloween while Stacy aimlessly surfed the web, waiting for the mysterious sounds in the hallway to start and end.  The last few nights had been the same.  Every night, around midnight, she heard noises in the hallway that lasted for about 20 to 30 minutes.  Stacy felt relatively secure with her ‘double-lock’ system, but was also concerned for Dustin’s safety.  On a couple of occasions, she had asked him if he’d heard any strange noises at night, but he told her “no”.  His responses offered little relief to her, however, since Dustin typically slept like a rock.

Stacy took some solace in knowing that her mom would be taking down all of the Halloween decorations the day after the party to begin decorating for Christmas.  Stacy secretly plotted that she would dismantle Charlie during the day, under the guise of helping her mom take down the decorations, and then stuff the possessed clown costume into the bottom of the garbage can.

It was 12:15 AM and there still hadn’t been any noise from the hallway when suddenly Stacy heard her mother scream.  She leapt out of bed and grabbed the kitchen knife out of her dresser that she had appropriated several nights before.  Stacy stood near her door, frozen in terror.  After only a few seconds her mother’s screams passed, followed by the sounds of something making its way down the stairs and then into Dustin’s bedroom.

The house fell completely silent as Stacy’s heart sunk into the bottoms of her feet.  She knew Charlie had done something terrible to her parents, and she couldn’t bear the thought of letting him hurt her little brother.  A sudden burst of courage entered her as she proceeded to unlock her bedroom door, the knife clenched firmly in her right hand.

Stacy’s heart was beating so loudly that her eardrums felt like they were about to burst.  She braced herself, knowing that Charlie could be waiting to pounce on her, as she flung her bedroom door open and turned on the hallway light.  With her knife held in front of her she whipped around, and to no surprise, Charlie was no longer sitting in his chair.  Stacy rapidly turned her head in every direction as she made her way over to Dustin’s door and reached out with her left hand to turn the knob.  It was locked!

Unsure of what do to next, Stacy decided to check on her parents.  She knew better than to hold on to any hope that they were still alive, but she still felt a pull within her soul to check.  Stacy followed the splatters of blood on the carpet up the stairs and turned on the light as she entered her parents’ room.

Her parents’ entire bed was soaked in blood, their bodies covered with multiple wounds.  Stacy was confused for a moment as to how Charlie got his hands on a weapon like that when she had the only big knife in the house…and then she remembered her dad’s knife and sword collection that he kept in his office.  Stacy considered that not only did the demonic clown kill her parents and now, threatened her little brother, but he also certainly had a more formidable weapon than her kitchen knife.

Still terrified, Stacy made her way back down the stairs and stood in front of Dustin’s bedroom door.  She was determined to save her brother, even if it meant her dying in the process.  She began to lower her shoulder with the intent of breaking down the door, but her instincts told her to try the knob again.  Stacy reached out with her left hand and a powerful shiver ran down her spine like an electric shock as the knob turned without resistance.

Stacy pushed the door open and flipped on the light switch all in one swift movement.  To her surprise, Dustin was sleeping peacefully in his bed, his sheets cocooning everything but his face.  Stacy whipped her head around feverishly to the right and then the left, looking for the clown.  She was about to check the closet when Dustin slowly opened his eyes.

“Shhh….” he whispered, his finger gently pressed against his lips. “Charlie’s sleeping.”

It appeared that Dustin was alone in his bed, but Stacy couldn’t see what was on the other side of it.  She pictured Charlie, crouched behind the other side of Dustin’s bed, waiting to plunge his weapon into her ribcage.  Stacy lowered her stance and side-stepped her way to the other side of the bed, her right arm holding the knife and shaking from the adrenaline coursing through her body.  What she saw next, however, was scarier than anything she had imagined.

Stacy’s eyes began to fill with tears and the breath in her lungs escaped, almost causing her to faint.  Before her lay the empty costume that was ‘Charlie’, covered with blood.  The towels her father had used to stuff him lay in a crumpled pile next to the costume with one of her father’s large knives left carelessly on top of it.

Questions of “how” and “why” flooded Stacy’s mind as her eyes traveled back toward Dustin lying in bed.  She couldn’t move.  Instead, she just stood there, staring at him and wondering why he had done it.

Stacy couldn’t see that Dustin had once again opened his eyes.  A glimmer of red swam through the blue pools of his irises as he waited, motionless, for his sister to make the next move.

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Tales of Terror: “Trick or Treat – A Family Tradition”

Trick or Treat

Elsie watched studiously as her mother, Laura, stretched and pulled a mouth-watering batch of salt water taffy.  It was Elsie’s favorite of all the treats that her mother prepared every Halloween.

Around the kitchen were several more goodies including orange-colored popcorn balls, caramel apples, suckers, peanut brittle and the Holiday themed ‘graveyard fudge’, which featured a gummy worm on each delicious piece.  Even though modern times called for store-bought candy, all of the neighborhood parents fully endorsed Laura’s traditional values and enjoyed the treats along with their children on Halloween night.

“Would you like to help mommy?” Laura asked.

Elsie nodded her head up and down enthusiastically while Laura placed a small piece of the sticky sweet substance in her palms.  The candy felt warm and gooey in Elsie’s hands as she proceeded to mimic her mother’s taffy-pulling method.

“Daddy’s going to be home soon to take you and your brother trick or treating.  Did you decide which costume you’re going to wear this year?”

“I’m going to be a princess this year, mommy!” Elsie replied, her little five-year old hands working the taffy diligently.

“I see.” Laura smiled and reached her hands out to relieve Elsie of her duties. “Why don’t you go ahead and get dressed sweetie.  You can help mommy finish afterward.”

Elsie responded with a huge grin as she tore off through the kitchen and family room toward her bedroom down the hall.  Next to Christmas, Halloween was Elsie’s favorite holiday, and she was terribly excited to see what wonderful candy she could collect this year on her trick-or-treating adventure.

“Devin!” Laura called out to Elsie’s older brother. “Are you ready?”

“Yeah, mom,” he replied from the family room where he was playing video games. Devin was excited about Halloween too, but his first priority was conquering the new “Dragon Masters” video game he had received for his birthday just two days earlier.

Laura turned her attention back to the taffy as she began rolling it into rope-like strands for cutting.  This year, she had chosen to make the taffy cherry flavored so that the red color would seem natural.  Laura had only included a slight amount of Mr. Dumont’s blood in the corn syrup / water mixture she used to make the taffy, but the crimson-red tinge would have made it difficult to use any other color.

“I’m home, honey.”

Laura heard her husband, Gary, walk in the front door and address Devin about the absence of his costume.  She was annoyed with her son’s disregard of her instructions, but soon the situation was remedied as Gary shut off the video game and whisked Devin away to his bedroom to get changed.

“How was your day?” He asked as he walked into the kitchen and hung his car keys on the empty hook beneath the large ‘Countdown to Halloween’ calendar.

“Busy,” Laura responded wide-eyed.  She began cutting the ropes of taffy and placing small, one-inch pieces of it on pre-cut wax paper wrappers.

“Looks good.” Gary snatched a piece of taffy under Laura’s watchful eye. “Cherry.  Nice choice,” he added with a wink.

Laura smirked back at him since Gary knew exactly why she had chosen that flavor.  He moved in closer and gave her a kiss, the cherry flavoring on his lips making for a sweet moment of romantic bliss.

“You know we did the right thing?” Gary said as he allowed for a few inches of space between himself and Laura. “I know our beliefs are our own and we promised never to force them upon anyone else.  However, Mr. Dumont deserved what he got.”

“Oh, I’m in full agreement my dear.” Laura turned her attention back to the taffy. “Mr. Dumont is going to give back a little piece of himself this Holiday to every one of the households he terrorized in some way or another.”

Laura’s mind turned back to the first time she and her husband had met Mr. Dumont nearly 10 years ago.  He was a cranky old man who always seemed to go out of his way to cast darkness over his fellow neighbors.  She couldn’t remember a week having gone by without an incident of him yelling at one of the neighborhood children for playing too close to his yard or making too much noise while he was trying to take a nap.

Laura’s tolerance of Mr. Dumont finally came to an end a few days ago when Elsie came home crying as a result of Elsie’s cat, “Mr. Whiskers”, disappearing.  It was well known that Mr. Dumont made open threats about anyone’s pet that happened to wander on to his property, and over the years many of the pets living around the neighborhood had disappeared under suspicious circumstances.  When Laura confronted him and he did nothing to deny his involvement, she decided it was Mr. Dumont’s turn to disappear.

“What’s that wonderful smell?” Gary inquired.

“Meatloaf,” Laura responded with a devilish grin. “And, it’s ready, so would you please round up the kids? I want them to have something of substance in their stomachs before they indulge in all that candy.”

“Kids!” Gary shouted from the kitchen. “Dinner’s ready!”

Laura rolled her eyes at her husband’s method of summoning their children.  Elsie ran into the kitchen and dove in to her chair wearing her princess outfit while Devin followed closely behind sporting his Darth Maul costume.

“Meatloaf?” Devin groaned. “But, mom, we always have pizza Halloween night.”

“Not this Halloween,” Laura affirmed. “This year, we’re celebrating All Hallows’ Eve in the tradition your father and I grew up with.  A home cooked meal made with a very special and secret,” she leaned in toward Elsie and gave her a slight tickle on her belly, “recipe.”

“What’s the secret, mommy?” Elsie giggled.

“I’ll tell you some day when you’re older.” Laura looked over to her husband to share in the ‘inside joke’.

While Laura and her husband had grown up in more traditional households that engaged in ‘unique’ culinary practices monthly, they only indulged in the family tradition on rare occasions.  The world had become extremely public, making it difficult to get away with anything, especially when coupled with all of the advances in forensic science.  In fact, the only other time in the last couple of years they had participated in such an act was when they ‘removed’ a convicted child molester from their community the previous summer.

“You kids ready to go trick-or-treat?” Gary asked as he stuffed a large bite of meatloaf into his mouth.  Thoughts of vindication for his daughter’s pet, as well as relief from Mr. Dumont’s constant harassment of everyone in the neighborhood, made the delicacy that Laura had prepared that much more savory.

“I am, dad!” Devin responded, as he chugged down his glass of milk.

“I’m a princess, Daddy!” Elsie added enthusiastically.

“And a beautiful one at that,” Gary acknowledged. “Now kids, let’s make sure to invite everyone we see tonight to drop by the house later for our famous post trick-or-treating party.  Your mother has worked extra hard this year to give everyone a very special treat.”

Both Elsie and Devin nodded affirmatively as they jumped up from their chairs to go grab their goodies bags.

“Guess that means they’re ready,” Gary chuckled as he stood up from the table and grabbed his keys back off the hook. “I promise we won’t be too long, honey.”

“Make sure you’re not, my dear husband.” Laura unwrapped a dark red sucker and placed it seductively in her mouth. “Because after all the trick-or-treating and parties are done with, you and I have our own All Hallows’ Eve tradition to celebrate.”

“I love traditions,” Gary added with a knowing grin.

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Tales of Terror: “Don’t Look Back”

Tales of Terror: "Don't Look Back"

The sunlight was quickly fading overhead as my girlfriend, Tiffany, and I made our way back through the forest that covered more than half of my family’s 300-acre property.  My parents and I, along with my two younger brothers, had just moved here a few weeks ago and this was my first true exploration of the new surroundings.  Tiffany thought it was exciting to be out in the wilderness as the shadows began to grow, but I couldn’t help but feel anxious about getting back to the house before dark.

Throughout my adolescence I had always struggled with nightmares and ‘things that go bump in the night’.  Even though I had just turned 17, I was still experiencing recurring night terrors, the most recent one featuring the forest Tiffany and I were now trudging through.  In this dream, there were three beautiful women that lived in the forest by day, but then transformed into horrible trolls after dusk.  The three trolls would wait for my brothers and me to foolishly camp out in the forest at night, and would then capture and eat us.

I estimated that Tiffany and I still had another couple of miles to walk on the barely forged trail when suddenly I heard a branch snap behind us.  I looked around, but all I saw was a fat, brown squirrel scurrying up an old fir tree with a nut clenched in its jaws.  To this point I had been allowing Tiffany to lead as she was the one with the flashlight on her phone, but her pace wasn’t meeting my need for urgency.  I began walking faster and tried to pass her when she stopped abruptly.

“I’ve gotta pee,” Tiffany said.  She jumped off the trail and started heading into the mass of trees that hugged our path.

“Jesus, Tiffany, I’ve seen you naked.” Thoughts of our sexual escapade earlier that afternoon rushed into my head as I pictured her on top of me.  “Don’t wander too far off the trail.”

“A girl needs her privacy,” she laughed. “Turn around!”

“For crying out loud.” I turned toward the opposite direction though I could barely see the blonde hair on the top of her head as it was.  I was now feeling extremely nervous as I heard another branch snap in the distance.  I’m sure it was just a deer or a raccoon, but I regretted not having brought a flashlight.

“Tiffany, hurry up!” I shouted, all too aware that the sunlight was now completely gone, the summer moon barely yielding enough light that I could just make out the trail I was standing on.

“Tiffany?” I called out. “Tiffany?  I realize you probably think it’d be really funny to scare a guy in his own forest, but…”

“Run, Jake!” Tiffany screamed.

“Tiffany!” I cried out.  I frantically turned in the direction of her voice, but I couldn’t make out anything in the darkness.  I began crashing through the foliage, making my way toward the last spot I had seen her, when suddenly I heard what sounded like a pig snorting.

“Jake, Go!” Tiffany shouted, though this time it was from a much further distance.

I ran toward her as best I could, my body taking abuse from every tree branch and stump along the way.  After a few minutes I stopped to catch my breath and listen for any movement that could guide me in Tiffany’s direction.  There were no signs of her, but the snorting sounds I heard earlier seemed to be getting louder.  I searched the ground nearby and armed myself with a medium sized branch.

“Run, Jake, Run!” The words echoed in the forest, only this time, they weren’t Tiffany’s.  Instead it was a horrible, gnarled dialect that appeared to be mocking my girlfriend’s warnings.

“Tiffany!” I called out.  Thoughts of my ‘troll nightmare’ flooded my mind and caused me to abandon my common sense.  Could there really be trolls living in the forest?

“Run Jake Run.” A voice from the shadows croaked.

“Keep going, Jake,” mocked another, which I recognized as a statement Tiffany had made earlier while we were having sex.

“Don’t stop, Jake” the first voice growled in jest, again referencing Tiffany’s and my lovemaking session.

I realized whatever it was that was making its way toward me had been following Tiffany and I for the majority of our time in the woods.  I grew incredibly frustrated with myself as I began backing up toward the trail.  I wanted to believe that I was the ‘hero’ type, but in reality, I was a coward.  I continued to make my way back to the trail, convincing myself that Tiffany was most likely beyond my ability to rescue, and that the best thing I could do was to go get help and bring back the authorities to search the woods for her.

The pace of the mysterious creatures in the woods picked up as they made their way toward me.  I couldn’t take it anymore.  As soon as my feet hit the packed dirt of the trail I turned in the direction of the forest’s entrance and bolted.  I could only run so fast as the trail was half-covered with debris and overgrown trees, but the sting of branches hitting my face and limbs didn’t deter me.  My lungs heaved, grasping for deeper breaths from the night’s cool air to aid in my escape.  I was only a few hundred feet away from the entrance when I heard the creatures close in behind me.

“Run Jake Run,” they taunted.

I didn’t dare look back.  It would only slow me down, and I had no desire to see what kind of terrible things were chasing me.

“Come here lover boy!”

This time the creature’s voice was only a few inches away from my ear, and I could smell the stench of its rotten breath.  My heart sank knowing that my efforts to run away had been futile.  I felt a sharp pain on the side of my head and then everything went dark.

—–

I slowly opened my eyes to dim candlelight, my head throbbing from where I had been struck.  I was inside of a cage in the middle of a musty smelling room with no windows, though I was fairly certain I could make out a door several feet from where I was…hanging!  My eyes moved upward and I could see that my arms were chained above me from the ceiling, which was only a few inches taller than I could stand.  I also noticed, to my dismay, that I had been stripped of all my clothing.

I rolled my head to the left and my stomach turned as I witnessed the sight of Tiffany, naked, hanging next to me.

“Tiffany,” I whispered.  She just hung there, motionless.  A good amount of blood was seeping from her forehead into her long, blonde hair, and I feared that she might already be dead.

“He’s awake, he’s awake!”

My head shot up in the direction of a dark corner of the room from which three hideous looking monsters came. They appeared the same in real life as they had in my dreams. Scraggly black hair covered the tops of their green heads with small horns poking out a few inches above their ears. I guessed their height to be less than five feet, but their bodies looked strong and powerful, like wart-covered tree trunks.

“Hello lover boy,” one said to me as it moved toward the cage.

“What do you want,” I said, surprised that the words came out as calmly as they did. I was absolutely terrified.

“We wants you to serve us,” it replied.

“Yes, yes, serve us…tasties,” another one added with a twisted grin that exposed her rotting teeth.

“What the hell are you talking about?” I shouted at them.  Even though I was tied up and naked, the cage in between my captors and I was granting me inexplicable courage to raise my voice to them.

“Ladies,” the tallest of the three said as she moved past the other two and placed her face within a few inches of the cage. “Humans are stupid. You must explain things to them slowly and clearly.”

The creature’s hallow black eyes gazed into mine and I froze in terror.  I gathered she was the leader by the way the other two acknowledged her authority and became quiet.

“We’ve been watching you, Jake,” she said in a less-gnarled, eerie tone. “We wants you to be our new servant.  The humans who dwell in the house below our forest are always to be our servants.”

Suddenly the circumstances surrounding my parent’s acquisition of our new home made complete and horrible sense.  The previous owners of the house had abandoned it, leaving it to the banks to repossess and auction, my parents having successfully submitted the winning bid.  I now feared that I knew what happened to the last residents.

“Did you kill them?” I asked.

“Ay,” she affirmed.  “Looks like this one isn’t as stupid as most,” she said to the other two.

“Listen here, Romeo.” She reached out with a key and unlocked the cage.  I shook with trepidation as she walked up next to me, her eyes remaining fixed upon mine. “You will deliver a human to us every week that the moon is at its fullest.”

“Can we makes requests?” interrupted one of the others.  She was the slightest built of the three and appeared to have a third nostril.

“I likes the young ones,” added the other.

“Silence!” the lead beast commanded.  She leaned into me and placed her fat, index finger from her right hand upon my waist line.  I almost threw up.

“It doesn’t matter how old, or the gender, or any of that.  Just know, should you fail us, we will force you to watch as we devour your entire family.  Then,” she slid her finger from my waist down my inner thigh, “we’ll eat you bit by bit while your heart still beats.”

She went to exit the cage when I heard myself ask her one more question.  I was so overcome with fear that the sound of my own voice at this point startled me.

“What are you?”

“Heh, it wants to know about our curse, it does,” cackled the one with three nostrils.

“Nymphs by day, trolls by night!” the other hollered.

The banter from the two creatures outside the cage subsided as soon as their leader answered.

“Looking for answers are we?” She took one step back toward me and any charm that she had been attempting to use on me vanished. “It doesn’t matter what we are or how we came to be.  We own this land and everything that lives on it.  Serve us or be served!”

She quickly turned toward her fellow ‘trolls’ and exited the cage. “Let him go!” she barked.

I wanted to be strong as they loosened the rope so that my feet could touch the dirt floor.  I even thought about standing up to them, maybe even trying to fight the beasts and save Tiffany.  Instead, I just went through the motions of putting my clothes back on and walking through the door from their hut into the forest.  I wasn’t sure that Tiffany was even still alive, but it really didn’t matter.  I knew what the trolls had planned for her.

As I walked back home under the fully risen moon, the shock wore off, and I was faced with the daunting task of saving my family.  I couldn’t bear the thought of having to watch my brothers or parents being eaten by those monsters.  Slowly, my mind gave into the darkness of the evil task that had been forced upon me, and I began creating a mental checklist of those whom I could invite for a walk in the forest.

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Tales of Terror: “Allison”

Allison - Twisted Tales of Terror

Dear New Harbor Times readers,

My name is Sally Christenson, wife of author Luke Christenson, and I have purchased this full page ad in an effort to honor the memory of my late husband. I’m sure you’re familiar with the events that transpired at the Dennison home in September 2011 which claimed my husband’s life. The following are the six journal entries recorded by Luke leading up to the day he disappeared.

From the Journal of Luke Christenson…

Saturday, September 7, 2011

Sally and I arrived in New Harbor today to visit with her sister and family for the week. While I haven’t always been a fan of the dreary Washington State coastline, I do enjoy spending time with my wife’s family. I’m also hoping to find some inspiration for a new book; something edgier, darker…perhaps even a horror story. Sally often reminds me to be careful not to alienate my readers with something too dark or scary, but I’ve grown tired of writing science fiction. Perhaps it’s time for me to find a new audience. Regardless, I will let ‘Spirit’ dictate my path as I go for a run tomorrow through the town’s old neighborhoods. I find that the best roads taken in life’s journey are those that come when I am open to listening to the world around me.

Sunday, September 8, 2011

I had an interesting jog today. I began by heading toward the harbor, which is only a half mile away from Dawn’s house. From what I’ve been told, New Harbor used to be a thriving community back in the 80’s, but the decline of the timber industry and the recent recession has taken its toll. I passed by a lot of sad looking homes with broken down porches, leaking roofs and unkempt lawns. On my way back, I took a path that followed the railroad tracks, leading me through some of the oldest neighborhoods in town. Most of the houses appeared to still be occupied with the exception of one.

As I ran toward this particularly ran down home, I felt as though a darkness was permeating from its lot. The shed on the side of the house was missing its door and there was a large “No Trespassing” sign posted on it. The house still had its windows, but the white paint was horribly worn and it appeared that no one was living there; at least, that’s what I thought. I had just about passed by the house’s front door when I noticed a young girl looking out the large window of what I gathered was the living room. She was staring at me, her deep, hazel eyes following me as I continued by at a slow jog. The girl’s hair was long and brown and she was wearing a dingy white nightgown. Time almost seemed to stand still until I tripped over a crack in the worn out sidewalk and nearly fell. I shook off the moment and continued on my way home at a slightly faster pace.

It’s nearly time for bed and I still haven’t been able to shake the feeling I experienced from that house nor the image burnt into my mind of that little girl. In spite of my better judgment, I’m going to take the same route tomorrow.

Monday, September 9, 2011

It’s almost midnight and I don’t have long to write. I ran by the house again today and this time, when I passed by, I heard the screams of what I guessed was the little girl. I immediately ran onto the porch to look through the living room window. Despite the rain that had begun to fall and impair my vision, I was certain that I could see a man in a white tank top running through the living room after the girl. I ran over to the front door and, without thinking, kicked at it right below the knob. The door flew open and I raced into the living room, preparing myself for an altercation; however, all I found was an empty room.

The nauseating combination of mold and urine entered my nostrils as I looked around at the yellow-stained plaster walls and warped hard wood floors. It was obvious that no one had lived in this house for a very long time. As I continued to observe my surroundings, chills ran up my spine as I noticed that all of the windows were boarded up and that it had suddenly become very dark inside. Fear took hold of me as I rushed back through the front door and on to the street, only to discover that the late morning had turned to dusk.

When I returned home, Sally was in a panic. She said that I had been gone for nearly 9 hours. I didn’t understand what had happened so I just told her that I must have gotten lost in my thoughts…in our 13 years of marriage I have never lied to my wife…until tonight.

Tuesday, September 10, 2011

I am at a loss. After spending an entire morning convincing Sally to allow me out of her sight, I ran directly to the house. Once again there were windows where the boards had previously been and the same scene played out before my eyes as I watched a balding man in his late 40’s chase after the brown haired, hazel eyed little girl. Not wanting to risk another visit to the ‘Twilight Zone’, I approached the door with no intent to actually enter. The door showed no signs of me having broken through it yesterday as it remained closed and locked.

The girl’s screams grew louder and I could hear the man shouting angrily at her. It took everything in me to resist trying to save her. After a few moments, I returned to the sidewalk and walked away. As I turned the corner on my way back home, I could have sworn I heard the little girl whisper “Please Luke, save me.” The girl’s voice was soft and eerie. I believe enough in ghosts to now think that the house is haunted.

Wednesday, September 11, 2011

I didn’t have time to go on a jog today, though even if I had, I’m not sure I would have gone back to the house. I’m beginning to think that the inspiration I was looking for to write a new book is more than I can handle. Sally and I spent the day out at the beach with Dawn’s family, during which I was able to research the history of the house using my phone.

Evidently, about seven years ago, the family who was living there disappeared. Rumors circulated that Riley Dennison, the father, had murdered his wife, Deborah, and daughter, Allison, in a drunken rage. It was well known that he had a horrible temper and he’d been arrested twice on domestic disturbance charges. Despite the police’s best efforts, they were never able to uncover anything about Riley or his family’s disappearance.

There’s little doubt in my mind that Allison’s spirit still remains in the home and wants me to discover where her father buried her body so that she can rest in peace. Sally and I are heading back to our home in Malibu on Saturday, so if I decide to help Allison I’ll need to do it in the next two days. With that said, I’m not sure I’m up to the task. I’ve never been one for adventures and at this point, I’m truly scared.

Thursday, September 12, 2011

I rarely cuss in the pages of my journal, but…“Holy shit!” In spite of my fear, I returned to the house today and this time the little girl just stared back at me from the living room window. Her eyes were sad and it appeared that she had been crying. I spoke softly to her, saying “give me a sign and I promise I’ll find you”. A few seconds later, a deer appeared on the front lawn. I slowly turned and watched as the doe proceeded to walk around toward the back of the house. I followed, cautiously, until it stopped in the far corner of the backyard, only a few feet away from a small wooded area through which the train ran.

The deer lowered her nose to the grass and then looked back at me as though she were indicating to me where to look for Allison. As soon as I nodded my head in acknowledgement, the doe bolted into the woods. I ran to the spot in the yard and although I couldn’t see anything, the foul stench of death had suddenly filled the air around me. I had never been in the presence of a dead human before, but I had jogged past plenty of dead animals on the side of the road in my life.

I fell to my knees in the damp grass to see if I could feel anything. After having spent several minutes analyzing the ground and not finding anything I decided to start digging. I hadn’t thought to bring a shovel so I simply plunged both of my hands into the cold, wet soil and began pulling up sod. It only took a few handfuls before I discovered a hard surface about twelve inches under the ground. After a half hour more of digging, I uncovered a set of wood doors that appeared to be to an old wine cellar. The doors were locked with a large, rusty padlock.

I contemplated whether I should leave to purchase bolt cutters that instant in order to finish the task, but I knew Sally would grow anxious over my absence if I were gone for that long. Besides, it appears that I have solved the mystery of Allison’s disappearance, and I should have plenty of time tomorrow to purchase bolt cutters, cut the lock, and place an anonymous call to the authorities regarding the whereabouts of Allison’s body. This has indeed been a surreal experience. I’m looking forward to returning to Malibu and going back to writing science fiction.

A message from Sally Christenson:

My husband Luke was discovered in the wine cellar of the former Dennison residence the evening of Friday, September 13th, having passed away from a massive heart attack. After waiting several hours for him to return from his jog that day, I had begun to worry. I read the journal he keeps on his laptop and quickly made my way to the Dennison home, accompanied by my sister, Dawn. When we went around to the backyard and found that the doors to the wine cellar were locked, we immediately called 9-1-1.

The police found no signs of a struggle or foul play, though no one could explain how Luke got into the cellar since the padlock on the cellar door remained intact. There were, however, several markings carved deep into the dirt floor of the cellar that read “I’m not alone” and “She tricked me.” Based on Luke’s journal entries above, I am lead to believe that Luke’s messages in the dirt were referring to Allison. Along with Luke’s body, the police also pulled out the bodies of Allison and Riley Dennison from the cellar, though to everyone’s surprise, they did not find the wife, Deborah Dennison’s body.

I have not returned to New Harbor since my husband’s passing. However, I’m told that the Dennison home still remains standing despite my letters to the city urging them to have it torn down. To anyone who has read this far, I warn you to please keep your families and friends far away from the Dennison home. I fear there is still evil there.

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Tales of Terror: “Let’s Play a Game”

Let's Play a Game

“Kara, this place is awesome!” Jill exclaimed as we walked into ‘Anastasia’s’, a small costume & new age gifts store.  Most of our friends were going to the big Halloween store in the mall to pick up their costumes for the weekend’s upcoming festivities, but I preferred a smaller venue with more authentic items to choose from.  Besides, Michael worked here and I knew Jill had a crush on him.

The costumes were displayed on the main wall in the middle of the store with the more conventional items like tarot cards and witchcraft books in the front, and the more adult-oriented items in the back.  Jill immediately grabbed a gypsy costume and headed for the dressing room.  I wasn’t in quite as much of a hurry as I preferred to savor the ‘costume selection’ process by taking the time to look at each outfit and accessory.  Besides, Jill was sort of high maintenance and I knew she’d need my undivided attention while she tried things on.

“What do you think?” Jill asked me as she came out sporting a purple, pink and turquoise dress that looked two sizes too small for her.  Her hemline looked like it was barely covering her ass and her boobs were spilling out of the top with her long blonde curls resting upon them.  I admit I was a little jealous that I was not as blessed in the boobs department, but at least it kept most of the creeps at school from taking an interest in me.

“Looks good Jill.” Michael said as he walked past her with a couple of masks in his hands.  Normally it would have been odd for a high school football player to be working at a store like Anastasia’s, but in this case Michael’s aunt owned the store.  He was staring so hard at Jill I was surprised he didn’t run into the sales counter as he walked by it.  I was actually not a fan of Michael, but he was athletic and had that whole ‘tall, dark & handsome’ thing going so it was easy to understand why Jill fawned over him.

I could see by Jill’s reaction to Michael that my opinion was no longer needed.  She moved on to searching through the accessories while I headed to the dressing room to try my first attempt at costume bliss.  As I closed the door I could hear a couple of girls giggling from the back room.  I rolled my eyes, mocking their immaturity. “It vibrates too.”  I shouted out, feeling quit clever about myself.

When I came out of the dressing room I looked for Jill to give me the thumbs up or down on the long, red and black Victorian style dress I was wearing, but she was standing over next to the masks flirting with Michael.  I stared at the mirror, somewhat annoyed that my girlfriend had abandoned me, and tried to decide if I should dye my brown hair black for Halloween.  While in the midst of my mental contemplation, I noticed a guy wearing all black enter the store carrying a large duffel bag.

The guy was about our age, extremely clean-cut with perfectly combed, dishwater blonde hair and steely grey eyes.  He walked straight up to the counter, let his duffel bag fall with a ‘thud’ and then waited impatiently for someone to assist him.  Michael said something to Jill that made her laugh, probably mocking the ‘guy in black’, and then walked over to the counter where he was standing.

“Uh dude, I’m sorry but we don’t allow duffel bags or back packs in the store.” Michael’s tone was slightly condescending, probably because this guy had taken him away from his ‘flirt-fest’ with Jill.

The guy in black gave Michael a very confused look. “I, I’m sorry do you think I’m going to steal something?  Is there some law that precludes me from carrying my personal things with me?  Perhaps I’m not allowed to purchase any additional items, either?” Michael wasn’t sure how to respond.

“Dude, I’m so messing with you right now.  My name’s Eric.”  Eric chuckled while he extended his hand out to shake Michael’s.  “I’ve got something I want to show you.”  Eric bent down, unzipped his bag and rose back up with a gun in his right hand.  Michael quickly backed away from the counter and raised his arms half way in front of his chest.  He was about to say something when Eric cut him off.

“Before you speak, don’t.”  Eric leaned forward, pushing the gun even closer to Michael’s face.  “Here’s what’s going to happen everyone.”  Eric’s voice got louder so that all of us in the store could hear him. “First of all, don’t bother trying to leave out the emergency exit in the back because I already locked it from the outside.  Second, I know there are exactly five of you in here so will the two little sluts in the back please come out front before I put a bullet in this guy’s brain.  Same thing happens if anyone uses their cell phone!”

The two girls immediately came out from the back room and joined us.  One was a tall, African-American girl that looked anorexic (probably wanted to be a model) and the other girl, a ‘ginger’, was on the short side with a couple extra curves.  I recognized both of them from our high school, though I couldn’t remember their names.  Honestly, unless they were a close friend or someone on the cheer squad with Jill, I didn’t really attempt to remember anyone’s name, especially if they weren’t in our senior class.

“Wow.” Eric grinned maniacally. “That was fast.  Guess no one wants to see you get hurt.” He said looking at Michael.  Eric confiscated all of our phones, checking them first to see if anyone had tried calling or texting (which no one had dared to), and then ordered the four of us girls to get into the dressing room.  Jill appeared terrified so I held her hand, trying to calm her.  The other two girls were even worse off, both crying profusely and in hysterics.

“You guys need to get it under control or you’re going to get us all killed.” I told them, keeping the volume of my voice low so that Eric wouldn’t hear me.  I understood they were scared and upset, but acting like a bunch of sissies wasn’t going to help the situation.  I had just managed to get everyone quieted down when I heard Eric walking back towards the dressing room.

“Okay ladies!” Eric opened the door with feverish gusto. “Our game is about to begin.” Eric was acting the part of some creepy game show host as he motioned for us to get out of the dressing room with a wave of his gun.  The store was much darker now that Eric had drawn the blinds and covered the glass door entrance with a long, black sheet.  Michael was sitting on a chair in the middle of the floor, tied up and gagged, with a candle placed about three feet away from him on all four sides.

“This evening you will all be part of a new and wonderfully terrifying reality game show.” Eric oozed an excessive amount of sick enthusiasm as he pointed to the webcams he had set up throughout the store.  In addition to the webcams, he was using a small hand-held camera to narrate with.  “First of all, each of you is required to wear a costume for this game.  What are your names?” Eric pointed his gun in Jill’s and my direction.  I immediately responded to him with both of our names as Jill went speechless from fear.

“Well, Jill and Kara, since you’re already in costume, please take opposite sides from Michael and have a seat.  Eric then pointed to the other two girls, “You sluts! Take off your pedestrian clothes; all of them; and put these on.” Eric flashed a perverse grin as he threw a ‘Queen of Hearts’ and ‘Geisha’ costume down in front of them.

“If either of you protest my request, boy toy here will pay the penalty.”  Eric placed his gun in his waist band and pulled out a rather large knife that looked like something out of a bad sci-fi movie.  The blade was curved and serrated with a dragon etched into the handle.  He then walked towards Michael and made a small cut in Michael’s forearm. “Just to make sure you bitches believe me.” Eric snarled.

Eric watched intently as the two girls stripped down to nothing.  The slighter built girl grabbed the Queen of Hearts outfit which consisted of a form-fitting black dress with red hearts.  She cried and trembled as she pulled it up over her naked body.  The other girl bent down to pick up the bright blue and black Geisha robe, and slipped it on over her exposed flesh.

“Take your spots around the chair.” Eric commanded.  He looked at the four of us in a circle surrounding Michael and appeared very proud of his handy work. “You all look quite lovely.” He said in an uber-creepy way.  He then instructed us to pick up our candles and walk around Michael while he began playing freaky Halloween tracks on an iPod.

After we had been walking for what seemed like forever, I decided to break the silence.  “So, judging by the webcams you’ve placed all over, I’m guessing you’re a delusional, sexually frustrated freak who’s watched a little too much torture-porn.  Am I right?” I’m sure the other girls thought I was crazy for provoking Eric, but I had a method to my madness.

“Fuck you bitch!” Eric shouted in a rage as he made his way back into the circle and slashed away at Michael’s other forearm, this time making a much bigger cut.  Michael screamed out in pain through his gag, but I knew he was as good as dead anyway and I was focused on saving Jill and me.

“Listen psycho, why don’t you just get to the point?” My chest was puffed out like some football player with too much testosterone.  Everyone had stopped walking and was watching the scene between Eric and me.  Eric threw down the knife, grabbed his gun and pushed the barrel of it against Michael’s skull.

“You know what,” Eric said, completely unhinged, “if you want the game to go faster then let’s make it happen!”  He then turned around and pointed the gun at the girl dressed as a Geisha. “Pick up the knife and kill him!” Eric commanded.  The girl froze in terror and looked at me as though I would have an answer for her as to what she should do next.

“Sorry, sorry I forgot to explain the rules.” Eric laughed as he scratched the side of his head anxiously with the barrel of his gun.  “The name of the game is ‘Kill or Be Killed’.  You see, ‘Memoires of a Geisha’ can either kill the boy in the chair with the knife or I’ll shoot her in the head with my gun.  If she kills him then she’ll take his place in the chair and the choice to ‘kill or be killed’ will pass on to the next.  One of you lucky kids will get to go free tonight and the rest of you…well, at least you all get to be stars in my show, right?”

“Let me go first.” I said as I began walking towards the knife.

“You’re going last!” He shouted back “Now step back or I’ll just shoot everyone right now.” I had definitely succeeded in throwing Eric off his ‘flow’, which was exactly my intent.  However, before I could make my next move, I was going to have to wait until he was distracted.  I stepped back into the circle so that Eric could once again focus on the Geisha.

“You have ten seconds to make your choice dear; starting…now.”  Eric began to count down from ten while the girl just stood there, scared and crying.  There was no way she had it in her to kill Michael.  The lower the numbers got the more hysterical the young girl became, but she never even made an attempt to pick up the knife. “One” Eric said calmly.  I closed my eyes and heard the gun fire a single bullet.  Jill and the girl dressed as the queen of hearts screamed.

“Shut the fuck up, both of you, or we’ll just skip right to me blowing each of your brains out!”  Eric was yelling at them and shaking his gun in the air.  The dead girl’s brains had projected all over the front counter, leaving a horrific mess of gore and shattered pieces of skull.  Now that Eric had fired his gun I anticipated he would accelerate the pace of his game, not wanting to risk the police showing up before he had finished.

Eric popped his neck from side to side and commanded us to begin walking again. The cracks of sunlight that had been sneaking their way through the blinds were now completely gone as the night had come upon us.  I knew exactly how I was going to save Jill and me from this mess, but unless the police miraculously showed up in the next few minutes, no one else looked like they were going to survive.

“Stop walking.” Eric said calmly as the Rob Zombie song that had been playing on the iPod came to an end.  He threw the knife down at the Queen of Heart’s feet.  “Your turn ‘Queenie’…Kill Michael.”  It occurred odd to me that Eric referred to Michael by his name when I didn’t remember anyone having told him that.  The poor girl grabbed the knife and walked over to Michael.  She raised it above him as Eric went through the same count down as before.  Just when I thought she might actually do it, Michael looked up at her and she lost it.  The girl dropped the knife to the floor and another gunshot followed shortly after.

“Well, no surprise there.”  Eric quipped as he kicked the girl’s body out of the way.  “It looks like it’s come down to the blonde versus the brunette.  My money’s on you ‘Sabrina.”  I couldn’t believe he had just addressed me as the ‘teenage witch’; normally I would have come up with a witty insult in that instance, but I needed to stay focused on the whole life or death situation in front of me.

Eric instructed us to once again start walking in the circle.  He grabbed his hand-held camera and shoved it in both Jill’s and my faces for close-ups.  I continued to look forward and acted as though nothing that had just transpired had fazed me.  After a couple more minutes Eric appeared bored and I knew the moment of truth was about to come.

Eric looked up at the ceiling for a split second, rolled his eyes and head forward and then looked straight at Jill. “Stop.” He said with a twisted splendor.  “What do you think blondie; can you do it?”  Eric placed the knife directly in Jill’s hand, the gun in his other hand pointed straight at her skull.  “Countdown begins…now!”

Jill held the knife loosely in her hand and looked at me with tears in her eyes.  Anytime she had ever faced adversity in her life she looked to me, and I was always there for her.  We had been best friends since we were six years old and no one was ever going to take her away from me.  I nodded my head up and down and mouthed the words “you have to” to her.

Jill looked into Michael’s eyes and he nodded his head in agreement that she had to kill him.  Eric’s eyes widened as Jill took the knife, her tears now raining down her face, and stabbed Michael in the heart.  The life in Michael’s eyes vanished quickly.  Jill stepped away from his body and fell to her knees sobbing.

“Ladies and gentleman the girl’s got a will to live after all!”  Eric cheered gleefully into the camera.  He walked over to Michael’s body, untied it, and cast it to the side with the knife still in it.

“And now it’s time for the climax of our show.” Eric said in true game-show host form.  He placed the gun in his waist band again and while holding the camera in his left hand, attempted to force Jill up from her knees with his right hand. “It’s your turn in the chair sweetie.” He exclaimed, as he struggled to get Jill up and into the chair.

With Eric preoccupied with Jill, my window of opportunity had come.  I quickly grabbed the knife out of Michael’s carcass and drove it through Eric’s spine so fiercely that the end of the knife burst through Eric’s rib cage.  Sadistic as it might sound, I wished I could have seen the bastard’s look of shock at that moment.  Before he could turn around, I grabbed the gun from his waist and unloaded several bullets into his chest and skull.  His lifeless body fell to the floor like a sack of putrid meat.

I immediately went to Jill and held her as she broke down in my arms.  We had survived.

After the drama of the endless police questions and the news cameras faded, we went to my house.  Jill was planning to sleep over anyway that night since her parents were out of town and there was no way she could be left alone.  Throughout the night Jill woke up screaming every hour, and every time I was right there to comfort her and help her get back to sleep.  Over time the nightmares would fade, as would the memory of Michael.

I wished I could tell her the ugly truth about Michael; how he had raped me our freshman year and that he had deserved to die; but in the end I decided it was a story that was better left untold.  After all, Jill wouldn’t understand.  Obviously, Eric never understood either since he went along with my whole ‘horror game show’ idea thinking it would be him that ended up with me instead of Jill.  He could never have guessed though that it was Jill that I loved.  And now no one would ever come between us again.

Vince Dawson: “The Island”

Vince Dawson - The Island

My name is Vince Dawson.  The year is 7518 and the universe has remained in a state of relative peace since the combined forces of the Alliance defeated the Krion Empire a decade ago.  While the Alliance won the war, we were not successful in capturing all of the enemy survivors.  Now, the remaining pieces of the Krion Empire lurk in the dark spaces of uncharted galaxies, waiting for the opportune time to once again plunge the free world into a state of chaos and destruction.   These days I am no longer an airstrike commander, but instead a hired gun and bounty hunter who travels the lesser known parts of the universe.  My most recent assignment has left me in a precarious situation on the planet Venus21…

“Honestly guys, I had no idea that the Admiral’s daughter was spoken for.”  I said as I tried to reason with the handful of guards that were accompanying me on our short ride from the Port of Helen to what the locals here simply called “the island”.  Evidently, it wasn’t enough to deny me the reward I was owed after I had rescued Admiral Nupon’s daughter from the Dugg pirate ship.  Now, the Admiral insisted that I be condemned to “the island” where he was certain I would meet my death; all because his daughter, Kaliss couldn’t keep her hands off me on our way back to Venus21.  Not that I had minded her being all over me; the Princess Kaliss was truly a knockout.  I just wished she hadn’t told her father that she no longer wished to marry the guy she was betrothed to because she had fallen in love with me.

I turned to the guard on my left as we continued towards the island on a small hovercraft.  “So, uh, what kind of survival gear you gonna hook me up with?”  I asked him sarcastically.  He was short, maybe 5’8 in his boots, and judging by his youthful appearance I guessed he was fairly inexperienced.  He looked rather nervous as he struggled within himself not to turn my direction.

“I’m a little sensitive to the cold so would you mind packing me an extra blanket?”  I gave him a big toothy grin, but still nothing.  Even with the restraints around my wrists and ankles, I figured I could have easily wrestled his gun away and taken out the rest of the guards.  However, I was concerned that I’d have to kill most of them in the process which would have gotten me into even hotter water with Admiral Nupon.  Instead, I decided to just face the island for the next 48 hours, swim back to the port and hope that the Admiral was too focused on his daughter’s wedding to notice my stealing my space ship back.

The hovercraft stopped several hundred feet short of the island’s shore and I could feel my restraints being removed by one of the guards behind me.  “If you guys wouldn’t mind, could you drop me off a little closer to the beach?  I’m a little worn out after having been with the Princess for all those days.  I know she’s the Admiral’s daughter and that she probably hasn’t been with a lot of guys, but you’d be surprised on how many times she wanted to…”

A surprisingly powerful shove sent me flying off the hovercraft and into the sea below.  The water was extremely warm, like the tropical oceans that I enjoyed during my childhood when we would visit my father’s family on Earth.  My father came from a long lineage of royalty though he seldom ever spoke of them after we left the solar system.  I was a teenager when the Krions first started terrorizing the weaker planets, and my father had to relocate us constantly as he was promoted through the ranks of the still forming Alliance.  I shook my head as my trip down memory lane ended and quickly swam to shore before the local sea creatures discovered my presence.

Looking above at the two suns in the clear, pinkish-blue sky, I considered taking a long deserved nap under one of the palm trees.  My skin was naturally on the darker side thanks to my father’s side of the family tree, but the ladies seemed to really go crazy when I had a nice tan.  Despite the vacation-like scene though, I knew I couldn’t just lie out in the open with no shelter or defensible position; especially considering I didn’t have any idea what I was up against on the island.  About thirty feet from the shoreline, the sandy beach turned into a dense jungle from which a rather large volcano emerged several miles within.  I began my journey into the thick, green foliage in hopes of finding both fresh drinking water and a place I could disappear into for the next 48 hours.

After about two hours of hiking I had made it to the base of the volcano.  There was a modestly sized lagoon with a stream running into it and a small, shallow cave that appeared to be uninhibited.  “Perfect” I said to myself as I went about fortifying my surroundings with a few traps around the perimeter.  I was also able to find a sharp enough rock to use for carving out a couple of spears from fallen tree branches.  The guards had taken just about everything useful out of my flight vest save a few protein bars, some matches and four condoms.  I was pretty sure the condoms weren’t going to be of any use on the island, but I suppose a guy never knows.

Just as I had finished my second spear I heard something approaching towards the stream.  I quickly retreated behind a boulder that stood a few feet from the entrance to the cave.  Whatever it was that approached was intelligent enough to avoid the traps I had set.  About a minute had passed when I saw a figure rush past my hiding spot and into the cave.  It was a woman!

“Hello.”  I said, doing my best to keep my voice from echoing too loudly.  The lagoon was partially surrounded by the side of the volcano making for rather less-than-ideal acoustics when one was trying to avoid being found by whatever it was that inhibited the island.  I moved from behind the boulder, lowered my spear and stood directly in front of the cave so that whoever was in there could see me.  Standing 6’5 and being built like a modern day god I knew I could come off a little intimidating so I proceeded in my most charming and gentlest tone of voice.

“There’s no need to be afraid.  My name is Vince Dawson, Airstrike Commander of the 15th Regiment. (The ladies always seemed to be impressed by the title.)  I’m afraid I’m currently occupying this particular area, but I’m sure we can work something out.”

“This is my domain pirate.  Leave now!”  She said from inside the cave.  Her tone wasn’t nearly as charming as mine had been.  I was tempted to go into the cave and bring her out myself, but I thought I’d give her another chance.

“I’m sorry, but I saw no evidence that this cave was being used by anyone.  Listen, I’m only here on the island for a couple of days so why don’t you just come out of the cave and we’ll talk this over.”  There was a long pause of silence and then a very young woman, barely in her 20’s emerged from the cave.  She had long brown hair that appeared it hadn’t been washed in days and eyes so green they matched the surrounding foliage.  She also had a rather nice form that I probably took a little too much time to admire.

“See anything you like pirate?”  She asked in a tone that I was smart enough to realize wasn’t sincere.  She lunged towards me with a dagger in her right hand and I quickly disarmed her.  She struggled as I held her against my chest with my powerful arms.  “Let me go you bastard!” She screamed.  I released her from my grip having taken her knife, and she turned towards me with fire in her eyes.  “Leave now pirate or I will kill you!”

“Listen honey,” the charm in my tone was gone. “I can appreciate that you don’t trust me and that it’s probably been a little scary for you on this island all alone.  However, I’m not you’re enemy and I’m not a damn pirate. I was just doing a job for the Admiral when I got detoured and ended up here.”  There was a pause in the conversation and I could tell by the way she was looking at me that she was trying to decide if she could trust me.

“Admiral Nupon?”  She responded.  “That makes sense why you’re on the island then.  The Admiral doesn’t like pirates cutting in on his business and he certainly doesn’t care for morons.” I was about to object to her insulting my intelligence, but she cut me off before I could speak.  “We’re not alone you idiot!”  She said as the she brushed a lock of hair from her eyes.  “Ogres roam this island.”

“Ogres?”  I asked, somewhat in disbelief.  I knew very little about Venus21, but my understanding was outside of a few spectacular beasts that roamed the oceans the planet was void of larger life forms.  The girl headed towards the lagoon, placed her cupped hands into the water and drank.  She was wearing a camouflage top and grey cargo pants that complimented her athletic build.  “What do these ogres look like?”  I asked.

“They’re green, ugly and about twice the size of you.”  She continued in between drinks.  “We call them the Hidoki and they are the original inhabitants of Venus21.  Humans murdered the majority of their race centuries ago when the planet was first “pioneered”.  What’s left of their race lives here on the island and the Admiral fancies them as his personal executioners.  Their intelligence is minimal, but they know the island’s terrain, they’re incredibly strong and they like to eat humans.  Of course, the pirates that are sent to this island deserve such a fate.”

“I’ve already told you, I’m not a pirate.”  I responded, quite annoyed with her repeated accusation.  Being called a pirate was just about the worst insult one could receive seeing as to how they had well deserved reputations for being rapists and murderers.  In an attempt to clear my name, I proceeded to tell the girl about my mission to save the princess and how it all was a misunderstanding between myself and the Admiral.  I then asked what her name was and why she was here on the island.

“Myra. My name is Myra, Mr. Dawson, and my being on the island isn’t a result of my choosing the wrong fuck buddy.  My parents were both banished to this island as a result of their opposing the Admiral’s reign.  The Alliance may have won the war against the Krions, but in the process they made deals with hundreds of corrupt warlords in exchange for military support.  I am on this island to rescue my parents and get them back to the mainland.”  As Myra spoke I knew of the “deals” she referred to.  The Alliance was formed out of necessity, not out of principle, and in order to amass the kind of army that could take out the Krions some arrangements and political appointments had to be given to less-than admirable individuals.

I had just asked Myra about her plans as to how she was going to escape the island when I heard the sound of several heavy steps approaching us.  “We’ve been speaking too loudly.”  Myra said as she jumped to her feet.  She began running in the opposite direction of the footsteps, but it turned out the Hidoki had already surrounded the entire clearing.  I quickly scaled up the side of the volcano under the cover of a few boulders and watched as the giant beasts scooped Myra up and placed her in a large vine sack.  There were too many of them for me to attempt a rescue so instead I followed them as they made their way through the jungle and back to their village.

Both suns had set by the time we had reached the Hidoki’s village on the other side of the volcano.  There were three moons that orbited around Venus21, but all were shining at a minimum tonight, making for poor visibility.  Rather than risking a botched rescue attempt in the darkness, I decided to remain in the protected rock formations above the village and wait until the first sun to make my next move.

The night had only lasted a few hours before the first sun peeked above the horizon with a magnificent display of orange and purple.  I looked below in hopes that none of the giants would be awake yet, but I was sorely disappointed.  There were already about 50-60 of the green, hairless beasts roaming about the village and unfortunately, Myra was being kept in a pit smack dab in the middle of everything.  The beasts wore no clothes and spoke in a language that was primarily comprised of grunts and groans.  They also had an extra eye in the back of their skulls which made sneaking up on them a rather unlikely scenario.

I searched my surroundings and discovered a large boulder several hundred feet above the Hidoki’s village wall that appeared to be unstable.  I made my way over to the boulder and pushed on it until I jarred it loose.  The boulder went flying down the side of the volcano heading towards the village.  I wasn’t actually counting on the other 20 boulders to follow, but thankfully I was able to jump out of the way before the landslide overtook me.  The Hidoki went into a state of panic as boulder after boulder crashed down upon their village and took out almost half of their outer wall.  All but one of them rushed to the village’s perimeter to investigate the chaos, leaving one solo guard between myself and Myra.

The giant stood at about nine feet tall and was armed with a crudely made spear.  As I made my way towards the pit I picked up a small stone, about the size of a baseball, and hurled it at the giant’s eye on the back of his head.  He screamed out in agony and turned to face me.  I dodged two swings of his spear, but could not avoid his left fist striking my chest which sent me flying back several feet.  The giant stood over me while I was laid out on the ground and raised his spear to skewer me like a human shish-kabob.  I rolled over at the last second, making the giant miss me as he plunged the spear into the dirt.  While he was bent over trying to free his spear from the hardened clay, I quickly swung myself over his shoulders and slit his throat with the knife that I had obtained from Myra.  The giant fell to the ground dead, oozing a purplish liquid from his neck.

I got off the beast and walked over to the pit where Myra was being kept.  “I think your boyfriend underestimated me.”  I teased as I cut through the thick green vines that covered the top of the pit.  There was a pungent smell of death and urine coming from below and I imagined that Myra was probably not to happy that she had just spent the night marinating in it.  As I helped Myra out of the pit I looked down to see if there were any other prisoners, but all I saw were the skeletal remains of humans.

“Thanks” was all that Myra could muster as we escaped from the Hidoki village.  Evidently it had been quite a blow to her ego needing to be rescued by the likes of me.  We forged through the jungle at a rapid pace; following a non-existent path that I was quite certain wasn’t taking us in the right direction.  It appeared that Myra was almost trying to out run me as she progressively built up to a full out sprint through the jungle’s thick foliage.

“Uh, you want to slow down a little.”  I said, trying not to yell too loudly in anticipation that the Hidoki had probably figured out that Myra escaped by now.  She was now out of sight, though I could hear her crashing about the bushes in front of me.  “Hey Myra, I don’t think you’re heading in the right…”  Before I could even finish my sentence I had been whisked up into a large net about twenty feet from the ground.  I couldn’t believe I had allowed myself to fall into a trap.  I went to grab the knife from my vest, but it was no longer there.

“Looking for this?”  Myra asked as she looked up at me and held the knife in the air.  “Yeah, I couldn’t have you escaping or they might still try to track me.”  Evidently, Myra must have taken the knife while I was reaching down to pull her from the pit.  “See you around pirate.”  She said as she ran off into the jungle leaving me hanging from a tree.  Fortunately, I still had the sharp rock in my pocket from the day before.  I was able to cut through the net in a matter of minutes and swung from its remains to the base of the tree.

I quickly scaled down the tree and hit the ground running.  Part of me wanted to follow Myra, but she was clearly more trouble than she was worth and I needed to focus on finding shelter and getting some rest before my swim back to the port.  I made it to the island’s shoreline by mid-day and this time I decided it was better to just build a make shift tent and take my chances in the open.  I had taken great care in covering my tracks so that the Hidoki wouldn’t be able to find me.  Besides, I was quite sure they were more interested in getting Myra back than to try and track the scent of another human they hadn’t even seen.

For a fleeting second the thought entered my mind that my own daughter would have been close to Myra’s age if she were still alive.  Mariana had only just turned eleven when her life ended, but I liked to think that she would have been just as strong as someone like Myra had she lived.  It wasn’t often that I allowed myself to think about such things, but the calming sound of the ocean and the tranquil scene of the low rolling tides brought a peace of mind that I seldom experienced.  I spent the rest of daylight building a small tent and took to slumber at the setting of the first sun.

The next day came with the first sun filling the sky with an impressive array of orange and blue shades.  I looked in the direction of Port Helen and sighed as I considered the swim ahead.  Never mind the fact that I wasn’t the strongest of swimmers, I also had no idea what kind of sea life would be trying to have me for breakfast on the way.

As I removed my boots and vest I saw what appeared to be a projectile with a white tail heading for the main land.  Suddenly there was a tremendous explosion and a large cloud of gray smoke formed above the port.  The sky seemed to part ways as a large battleship and several smaller fighter craft rained heavy laser fire upon Admiral Nupon’s city.  At first I thought it might be a Dugg retaliation, but then I saw the battleship come into full view.  It was the Krions.

Tales of Terror: “My Captor”

My Captor

The sliver of light that peeked through the open space above the blacked out window began to fade.  Darkness was coming and soon I expected my captor would be visiting my cell again.  There was no clock in the room I was being held in, but my guess was she came to me around midnight every night.  In fact, on the occasional evening, the faint light would re-appear when the moon was out and the sky was clear.  Those seemed to be the nights that she was most eager to see me.

I hadn’t been outside for several weeks, but I still often pictured what the sun and the night’s sky looked like this time of the year.  It was true that it rained a lot in Portland, but the summers were an exception, providing plenty of warm, beautiful days.  I had only just started enjoying the season’s turn when I was abducted that late night in June at some club downtown.

There were plenty of beautiful women I ran into that evening, so one of them could have easily been my captor or “Angel” as she liked me to refer to her as.  I’ve never actually seen Angel’s face as she always has it hidden behind a white mask, but perhaps if she took it off I’d recognize her…or not.  That night is still such a blur in my mind, mostly due to the amount of alcohol I had consumed as well as whatever drug Angel had slipped into my drink.

Tears started welling up in my eyes as I began to acknowledge, once again, that I would most likely never make it out of this basement alive.  I was only 22 years old.  My life hadn’t amounted to much, but I had really turned things around this last year.  I was now attending Portland State University after finally finishing up a long stint in community college, and I had even gotten an externship working at one of the local advertising agencies.  For the first time that I can ever remember in my life, my parents had told me they were proud of me.

Thank God my parents couldn’t see me right now; naked and chained to a metal support beam in the middle of a basement.  There was a toilet in one corner and a shower in the other.  I had been given very little to eat or drink, but at least there was enough slack in my chains to move around some.  Occasionally I would talk to myself since I had basically no human interaction.  Angel rarely came down during the day, and when she did it was just to feed or shave me.  I’m pretty sure she had only spoken about a dozen words since my time there.  Of course, she visited me every night too, but that was for a much different purpose; no talking was allowed or I would be punished.

Dinner time was here as I could hear Angel unlocking the door.  She walked into the room wearing the usual white mask, gloves and black cloak that covered her entire body.  Angel had a candle in her right hand and a paper plate in her left.  On the plate were a few strawberries, carrots and what appeared to be a small serving of chicken.  I was only fed twice a day so it was no wonder that I had probably lost a good 15 pounds since becoming her slave.

“Hi” I said to her, desperate for any kind of acknowledgement.  She said nothing back and left me in the darkness as soon as she had placed the food down on the cement.  I ate slowly, trying to savor every morsel.  I had barely finished my meal when suddenly the room began to spin and I passed out on the floor.

I could hear whispering as I began to regain consciousness from my unexpected slumber.  I recognized the feeling of my throbbing headache and intense muscle weakness as the same one I had the first night that I was abducted.  Angel had obviously drugged me again.  My vision was somewhat blurred after I opened my eyes, but I could still make out the shadows of several forms.  They were all covered in black cloaks and wore white masks, just like Angel.  I counted twelve of them as they stood in a large circle around me, each one holding a candle.

I realized now I was standing against the metal beam in the middle of the room thanks to several chains that had been used to keep my body upright while I was passed out.  The temperature in the room was unusually warm, almost like a sauna.  I tried to raise my arms enough that I could wipe the sweat from my forehead, but the chains had no slack in them.  I continued to look around in my dazed state, when I noticed Angel walk in.  More whispering from the others in the room ensued.

“My fellow sisters,” Angel addressed the group.  “The seed of our fellow brother that stands before you has fulfilled its purpose.  I have a new soul now growing within my body.”  Angel paused as the rest of the group seemed quite pleased with the news.  The incense from the candles was beginning to fill the room with a burnt flower type smell.  “Tonight,” she continued, “we shall celebrate the spirit of our Mother Goddess as one life is sacrificed so that a new one may flourish.”

As Angel spoke I could feel myself becoming scared.  Not the kind of sheer terror that one would experience if some guy wearing a hockey mask were chasing them with a chainsaw.  Rather, it was more like a calm, sickening combination of helplessness and inevitable doom.  Angel walked towards me, removing her gloves as she approached, and stared into my eyes through her white mask.  Just as when she had come to my room every night, I felt a coldness radiating from her that sent shivers down my spine.  You would think that being forced to have sex with a woman whose body was pretty much perfect would be every young man’s fantasy.  However, there was never any warmth or love present in our “sessions”.  Instead, it was mechanical and left me feeling empty inside every time.

“Please…”  I began to say, but Angel lifted her right index finger and placed it on my lips to silence me.  She then looked around the room and nodded her head.  At that moment, every figure in the room placed their candles on the floor in a tight circle around me.  The smoke from the candles lifted up around me, their scent creeping into my nostrils and making my dizziness even worse.  Each of the cloaked figures then returned to their previous spot and removed their clothing and masks.  They were all women.  I began searching each of their faces, but only received a cold, impersonal look when my eyes met theirs.

My eyes had only made it about half way around their circle when Angel, still standing in front of me, proceeded to remove her cloak and, for the first time, her mask.  The breath from my lungs escaped me in my shock.  It was Angela, my sister’s best friend that stood before me.  Angela was gorgeous, with long blonde hair, green, cat-like eyes and full, pouty lips.  I had always had a crush on her during my adolescent years, though given the current circumstances, I was more inclined to hate her and wish her dead at this particular moment.

I now knew exactly where I was.  Angela owned a home in the suburbs of Portland where I had once attended a birthday party at.  I didn’t remember seeing Angela at the club on the night I was abducted, but I suppose it could have been any of the other women in the room that had actually drugged me.  I swung my head to the left to finish my scan of the other women’s faces in the circle and I couldn’t believe what I saw.  In the far left corner of the room was my sister, Veronica!

Thoughts rushed into my head faster than I could process and I began to feel extremely nauseous, though I was too weak to vomit.  Not only had I been molested and essentially raped by Angela, but my own sister was also apparently involved as well.  I continued to stretch my neck over my left shoulder and tried to make eye contact with my sister.  “Veronica, what the fuck are you doing?”  I yelled at her.  Given recent events, I probably should have shown better judgment with the choice of tone in my voice, but I was beyond pissed off and terrified.  What was my sister doing in some sadistic cult that practiced man-hating “bitchcraft”.

Veronica showed no emotion as she looked back at me.  Angela then touched my face with her hand and brought my eyes back in line with hers.  “It is time, brother, for you to give your light to a higher cause.”  I had no idea what she was referring to as she grabbed a large, gray ceramic bowl and placed it at my feet.  “My sisters, we shall now drink the life force of this soul so that our circle might gain its power and pass it on to the new spirit that grows within me.”  With that Angela revealed a sizeable dagger with weird symbols on it and placed the blade on a region of my body that I’d always felt should never have anything sharp next to it.

“No Angela No!”  I half screamed, half cried, but it was too late.  She removed from my body what she had used so frequently during my imprisonment, and now blood streamed down my legs and into the bowl.  It only took a couple of minutes before she removed the bowl from below my feet and drank the blood from it.  Angela then handed it off to the other women in the circle as they drank from it too.  My will to live vanished.

Veronica and I had such a normal life growing up.  My parents had always been so good to “V” and me.  What happened to her?  I tried to make some kind of sense of what was going on, but the loss of blood was too great for me to overcome.  As the bowl made its way around the room I realized I did not want to see my own sister drink from it.  I closed my eyes and after only a few seconds longer, I felt my soul drift away.