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The Mannequin Farm

Reading Time: 22 minutesI think I’m finally at the point where I’m able to talk about it.
It’s been several years since it happened. None of us – not me, nor my friend, brother, or brother’s friend, who also experienced it – have ever told a living soul, and rarely mention it to each other, but I think it might help to write it down. Then maybe I can finally forget about it.
When it happened, I was a teenager living in Cumbria, which is a region in the north west of England. Specifically, I lived in the Lake District: an area of outstanding natural beauty, which is also very rural, and very popular with tourists. Imagine lurching dark skies, grey brick walls and rugged scenery – mountains, fields, bodies of water – unfolding all around you, and you’ve got The Lake District. In my youth, I would be out on a boat in the height of summer, lazing on the dappled wood in the beating hot sun; I would hike up the toughest mountains in torrential rain to see some of the most beautiful views that exist on this planet. I know I was lucky, and I tried never to be ungrateful. But, as a teenage girl growing up, I always felt a keen sense of isolation from the rest of the world. My family lived – and still live – in a tiny cottage in a tiny village where everybody knows everybody, where there is no privacy at all, and no chance of ever getting away with anything. I went to the local secondary school, but by ‘local’, I mean I had to take a half hour bus ride to get there, and our nearest town was that far away as well. Summers, in my youth, were always long – and lonely.
That’s why it was such an incredible stroke of luck when a girl my own age moved into my village the summer I turned fourteen. My own family consisted of my parents and my younger brother Tom, who, when I was fourteen and he was on the cusp of thirteen, just seemed too immature for words, and spending time with him would only occur as a last resort. By some lucky miracle, the girl also had a younger brother, and on the day they moved in my mum sent us both over to her house to introduce ourselves and bring round some Kendal Mint Cake (kind of a Cumbrian speciality, for those of you not in the know).
The girl – Katie – and I quickly became fast friends. She’d moved up from London after her dad had passed away from cancer, which, obviously, was a difficult adjustment for her for several reasons, and I remember being acutely aware that I had to tread carefully with her. It was just Katie, her brother, Michael, and her mum.
The moment we met I knew I’d like her. She was my age exactly, with a cool sense of style – unkempt hair pulled effortlessly up into a bun, small nose ring glinting from her nostril (a fascination to me, who was not even allowed to pierce my own ears), and she wore a t-shirt for a band I’d never heard of, its symbol a skull and crossbones. She didn’t seem too put off by my own frumpy charity shop clothes and overly friendly (desperate?) demeanour either, which was a huge relief. Her brother, Michael – a small, narrow shouldered kid with very pale skin and an awkward manner – and my own brother hit it off too after starting a conversation about video games, and went trotting off to Michael’s room immediately to play on his Xbox. I sensed the family had money – their house was bigger than ours, and a lot less shabby – and so Michael would probably have a lot of the latest games. After a nervous introduction, Katie and I soon got talking, and we sat in her kitchen swapping stories whilst her mum unpacked boxes around us. She seemed grateful that there was someone her own age in this strange, rural land; I, of course, was ecstatic.
The summer went by in a happy haze: Katie and I spent most days together, wandering down to the lake for a swim, or hanging out in each other’s bedrooms, larking about online or watching movies. Our brothers, likewise, found companionship in each other, and Katie’s mum, who was from the area originally, made a friend in my own mum. When school came, Katie and I rode the bus together, and she assimilated effortlessly into our friendship group (another huge relief, as I’d been concerned that she might be a bit out of our league). I spent a lot of my time trying to please her, making sure that she knew I was as mature as she was – living in London, she’d experienced things I could only dream about – and the effort was tiring, sometimes. But I didn’t want her to move on and find someone more interesting.

My story really begins in the week leading up to the October half term, where Katie had an idea. We’d been friends nearly four months, and I remember that the two of us were in my room one rainy autumn evening, watching a scary film on my laptop (I don’t recall what), whilst trying to decide what I should give Katie for her birthday the following week – she’d suggested concert tickets in London; I’d suggested a rather more affordable bath bomb from a gifty place we both liked. My parents were out of the house for whatever reason, so we were in charge. As the film got to a particularly tense, almost silent scene, we suddenly heard peals of laughter coming from my brother’s room, which regrettably shared a wall with mine. I banged on it with my foot, telling the little pests to keep it down – my brother had reached a deeply troublesome (I thought) stage of development, where his teenage hormones had kicked in and he was no longer the sweet, docile, slightly irritating child I had once known, and had turned into a moody, distant, intensely irritating monster. Of course, my kicking the wall had absolutely no effect, and after a couple of minutes of threatening various abuses through the plaster I decided that I would simply have to go next door and carry out my threats in person.
I burst into his room, thoroughly cranky at this point, to find that it was in pitch darkness. There are few streetlamps in my village, so when I say pitch, I mean pitch. Furrowing my brow, I strained to see through the gloom, and I couldn’t hear a single sound, other than the whir of my brother’s Xbox on the floor. What were they doing? I voiced this to the dark room, but got no response.
Quickly, so quickly I wasn’t sure I saw it, I saw a shadow dart across the room. Even though I knew it was my brother messing around, I couldn’t help but feel the scenes from the horror film still sticking to me – was I sure they’d been in his room? Hadn’t they gone for a walk in the woods at some point? Had it really been them laughing?
I considered this as my hand fumbled around the wall for a light switch when, suddenly, something grabbed my wrist from nowhere – another hand. I screamed, piercingly, and tumbled back out into the hall, only to be greeted by the familiar peals of laughter we’d been hearing all night. Katie ran into the room and threw on the switch to reveal the little darlings huddled in black cloaks in the middle of the room like acne-ridden dementors, falling about in hysterics.
‘That wasn’t very fucking funny!’ I screeched at them, but even Katie was suppressing a smirk. The horror film had got to me, and my brother and his friend had taken full advantage of that. The two boys were still creased over, bundled in their cloaks, as I took my brother’s pillow and proceeded to hit them with it, which only encouraged the laughter.
‘We were just trying to be like old Mr McCreepy!’ Tom said through guffaws.
Who?
‘Who’s Mr McCreepy?’ Katie asked.
‘You must have heard of Mr McCreepy!’ Tom’s eyes were wide, and he nodded at his friend to clarify the obvious.
‘Everyone’s heard of Mr McCreepy,’ Michael sighed at two people he evidently considered imbeciles. ‘He’s that guy who owned the mannequin farm near Kolby village.’
Katie and I looked at each other and shrugged. Kolby village was ten miles away; I’d had no reason to ever go there, and I didn’t know much about it. I didn’t know anything about a mannequin farm, either.
‘He killed a whole load of people there, like fifty years ago,’ Tom interjected. ‘He was this really creepy guy who made mannequins for shops – and probably other things – and he lured all these guys to his house by pretending to be a woman online, then he bludgeoned them to death with an axe.’
‘And then he made mannequins out of their skin!’ added Michael, with glee.
Now, I’m going to pause here to explain that I am not a fan of horror. I don’t do scary stories, creepypastas, any of that stuff – and I usually hate scary films, and was only watching one that night because I didn’t want to look like a wuss in front of Katie, who had a taste for those sorts of things. Plus, there was a more than likely chance that my brother and his friend were lying, and I didn’t want to entertain this for longer than was necessary. Katie, on the other hand, was looking at them, intrigued.
‘There was an axe murderer who lived ten miles from here?’
‘Yeah.’
‘And his name was Mr McCreepy?’
‘No, you tool,’ Katie’s brother sighed. ‘His name was Martin McGreevy. That’s just his nickname.’
Unusually, Katie let this insult slide without comment. ‘What was his kill count?’ she asked.
Tom and Michael looked at each other, less cocky now. ‘Dunno. Loads probably. You could Google it.’
‘Haven’t you Googled it?’
‘Nah. We just heard it around school.’
I laughed, wishing to bring this conversation to a close. ‘Oh, sure. You guys heard it around school, so it must be true.’
‘It really did happen!’ Michael insisted. ‘Everybody knows about it! It’s coming up to the anniversary of his first murder on Halloween.’
‘Oh yeah, the fact that it happened on Halloween makes it all the more believable.’ I raised my eyebrows to the ceiling, then left them to it, returning to my own room and trying to shake off a strange, bubbling feeling in my stomach.
For all of the bravado I’d shown, there was a part of me – a small part – that had a feeling they might possibly be telling the truth. Something had happened in that village, a long time ago. I didn’t think it happened how they described it, but the name rang a bell; the image of the mannequins was clear in my head. I could picture my parents at the breakfast table, talking in hushed tones, the word ‘Kolby’ and ‘murder’ and ‘dummies’ bubbling from their lips when they thought I couldn’t hear them.
Katie came back into my room, and I had my finger poised on the play button on my laptop, ready to scare ourselves silly again.
‘Actually, I’m not really feeling this anymore,’ she said, and I breathed a huge, internal sigh of relief. ‘I’d quite like to look up that case.’
The relief quickly left me, to be replaced by further anxiety. ‘What, the thing they were on about? Katie, they’re morons,’ I said. ‘They’ll be making it up.’
‘Probably. But I’d like to check, just in case they’re not.’
She slid onto the bed next to me and plucked the laptop from my hands before I had a chance to protest. She opened up a new tab, and typed ‘Kolby murder Cumbria mannequins’ into the search bar.
Sure enough, a whole swarm of articles popped up.
‘Now, there’s a plot twist,’ she said, impressed. ‘They weren’t lying!’
I felt my palms growing sweaty as she clicked on the first article and a picture of a man appeared. The man was reasonably average looking: about forty, with short, dark, cropped hair and a sallow face, like he hadn’t eaten in a long time, wearing a tartan shirt, but his hollow eyes, looking intensely at the camera, sent a chill of fear down my spine. I felt as though he was looking directly at me. This was Martin McGreevy, killer of nine people, who had once lived just down the road. His time active wasn’t fifty years ago, as Tom had said, but a much closer nineteen, back in 1999 – although, anything pre-millennium was all the same to my brother – and I remembered hearing the stories, still fresh to the residents, when I was a child.
I can’t remember exactly which articles we looked at, but the story went like this. Martin McGreevy was a family man, with a wife and a four-year-old son, who owned a successful home business making custom mannequins for shop windows. However, like a lot of people, he had his secrets. Unfortunately, Martin McGreevy’s secret was that he liked to pose as beautiful women online, reel in gullible men between the ages of twenty and thirty-five, get them to send him nude pictures, and then lure them to his house under the pretence of hooking up. These were the days when the internet was still relatively new and people were less cautious about it, so he was generally successful in his invitation. Once there, he tied them up and committed unspeakable acts of torture on them, before eventually killing them with a sharp implement he would make his mannequins with. His wife, apparently, was aware of the entire situation, and may even have been an accomplice. Once he killed the men, he made mannequins in their likeness – though not out of their skin, as the boys had claimed – and he treated them as though they were real. Nine mannequins were found in the cellar when the police raided the house.
Once McGreevy became a suspect in the disappearances, he shot himself with a revolver, along with his wife and son. He was dead before they could even put handcuffs on him.
I think that most people, after reading this – and reading the gory details, as we did, which I will not relay here – would close the laptop and perhaps go to quietly throw up. Katie’s curiosity, on the other hand, was piqued. She wanted to know more. She summoned the boys in, who said that, although they’d heard wildly exaggerated versions of this story at school (the human skin anecdote, for instance) it was basically the same story that they were familiar with, and it really had happened in a farmhouse near the village of Kolby.
‘Well, that’s just vile,’ I said. ‘Those men died at the hands of that sicko. I hope he rots in jail.’
‘Why did you say you were acting like Martin McGreevy when you put on the cloaks?’ asked Katie.
‘Cos that’s what he used to do. His wife would let them in, and then he’d be down in the cellar. He would lie in wait for his victims, wearing the clothes he dressed his dummies in, and then pounce on them before they could do anything.’
‘How would anyone know that?’ I demanded.
‘His wife survived the shooting. She gave the police a full confession. She’s still alive today, in jail,’ Michael told me.
Katie asked if anyone still lived at the farmhouse.
‘Last I heard, it was abandoned,’ said Tom. ‘They say his ghost still roams the rooms, looking for more people to kill…’
They both started prancing around the room, swaying their arms and making howling sounds. Surely, at thirteen, they were too old for this.
I looked at Katie to share a look of exasperation, but instead, she was smiling. She had taken in the news of the abandoned house without comment, though I could see her expression changing, her dark eyes flickering with the formation of a plan.
I didn’t know if this was what happened to you after suffering grief at a young age, but my friend seemed to be abnormally fascinated by the dark side of life – death, torture, destruction, abandonment. It was – and is – a part of her that I struggle to like, if I’m being honest, but I try to understand that it is probably because she’s been through a childhood trauma. I don’t like to think that anyone could be interested in these things just for the sake of it.
After they left, she turned to me, the glimmer of a smile playing around her lips.
‘I know what I want for my birthday,’ she grinned.
I knew, at that moment, what she was going to say, and fear coursed through me like blood. Still, I needed to act nonchalant. When you’re a teenager, image is all that matters.
‘I want to go and explore the mannequin farm,’ said my friend. I just smiled, blankly.

It was absurd.
Our parents were going to a dinner party in the next village, where they were likely to be out until midnight. That was the night we chose, as it gave us plenty of time to get there and back.
Unfortunately, in the midst of our planning, my younger brother overheard, and threatened to reveal everything unless we allowed him and his weedy friend to come along with us.
‘You’ll ruin it!’ Katie screeched at them the night before we planned to go – the eve of Halloween, the night before his first murder, another thing that, surprisingly, my brother had got right. ‘You’ll end up telling the adults.’
‘We won’t!’ Tom insisted. ‘We’ll only tell them if you don’t let us come. Come on, we were the ones who told you about it.’
‘Go with your own friends,’ Katie said, ‘Surely they’re all going up there in droves if this story’s so famous.’
‘No one’s been up there that we know,’ Michael said. ‘It’s fenced off. It’s really hard to get in to.’
My heart jumped a little – I was hoping this nugget of information might put her off wanting to go. It only made her more determined to get in somewhere that others had not. Eventually, they struck a deal: the boys would come with us, if they could help us figure out how to get inside. Hands were shaken; spit was proffered; subsequently discarded. We were ready.

We set off after our parents left for their dinner party under cloak of darkness. Katie had a rucksack on over her coat packed with torches, a map and – most worryingly – even a knife, ‘In case we run into any trouble,’ she said. Her birthday had been two days prior, and she walked up the dark lane ahead of me, her new pink Converse shining in the moonlight, practically bouncing with excitement. My heart was full of lead.
The boys had also packed supplies: a penknife – ‘because you never know’ – my brother said, and some rope – ‘In case we need to scale any walls.’ The place was an abandoned farmhouse, not a maximum-security prison, but I said nothing.
The village of Kolby was very pretty, dotted with thatched cottages and an old 13th century church nestled in parkland. We trod through the streets carefully, not wanting to look too suspicious, and huddled under a streetlamp to glance at the map. We needed to follow Church Lane, out of the village, until we passed a track on our left which read ‘Pidcote.’ If we walked a mile up the track, we would hit the farmhouse. At least, that’s what one of Tom’s friends at school had told him – we could only see the first bit of the track from Google maps.
The night was very dark now, and it was bitingly cold. As we wandered up the road, we got out our torches, and fewer and fewer cars marked the roads. Eventually, we were immersed by dark stretches of farmland, and could hear nothing but the hoot of an owl in the distance, and some far-off noise from cattle. I pulled my coat tightly around me, fear beginning to set in. I wasn’t even that afraid of the farmhouse itself, or of the legend of Martin McGreevy’s ghost – I was more afraid of who might be living there now. We were four vulnerable kids on a dark, lonely road. We could be putting ourselves in serious danger.
The white wooden sign, ‘Pidcote,’ shimmered like a mirage under our torches.
My brother stopped, staring at it. ‘Maybe…maybe we should turn back,’ he said, nervously. Katie and Michael turned to look at him like he’d gone mad. ‘I don’t know if this is such a good idea.’
I was amazed – out of the four of us, Tom and Katie had been the most vocal in wanting to go. Katie and Michael shot me a look, as if to say, he’s your brother, you deal with him. l saw the fear flickering in Tom’s eyes; the irritation flickering in Katie’s. I had to choose.
‘Either you come with us, or wait here,’ I said, with as much courage as I could muster. ‘We’re not turning back now.’
I saw my friend smile with pleasure, and Tom’s expression hardened. ‘I’m coming,’ he said, sulkily. ‘I just meant if anyone else wanted to turn back.’
We trudged up the leaf strewn track, mud claiming our shoes. I had a fleeting gleeful thought that Katie’s beautiful new Converse would be getting muddy, then suppressed it out of guilt. Sometimes I felt envious of her wealth, and then remembered that at least I still had a dad.
We saw a building begin to loom in the distance. Surprisingly, as we got to it, it was actually very easy to get inside – the fence surrounding it was wooden, and not high, and we simply climbed over, finding ourselves on the other side with no trouble at all. I didn’t know what my brothers had been on about.
The farmhouse was a two storey affair, trees looming over it like hunchbacks, the windows boarded up so it looked vaguely monstrous, with metal panels for eyes. We shone our torch around the premises. The driveway was submerged in leaves; there were, obviously, no cars in it, and I couldn’t see any lights on in the house. Not that I was expecting to, of course, but I couldn’t help the thought that perhaps there were people squatting inside, and the lack of light made me feel less uneasy. The place was clearly deserted, a ghostly relic of the past. The wind bristled and I closed my eyes, wishing us away from it.
‘Well, we made it,’ I said. ‘Shall we go back now?’
Katie looked at me as though I was bonkers. ‘What? Go back? We’re going inside!’
The words didn’t come as a surprise to me, but I felt the full force of them even so.
We’re going inside.
The front door gave way easily; it was rotting, and falling off its hinges. Inside, the house smelt musty and damp; I remembered my grandmother’s house smelling like this when we went in after she died, because she’d stopped being able to take care of it properly and refused to ever put the heating on. The room we were standing in was a hallway, doors aligning each wall around us, a decomposing staircase toward the back wall. What I hadn’t expected was that there would still be furniture in the house. A side table was standing by the front door; a picture of a vase of sunflowers was skewed sideways on the wall. Homely artefacts amongst the dirt, reminding any visitors of what the place used to be, whilst the floor hosted more leaves and mud; the wallpaper was peeling and smeared with graffiti. I wondered if the kind of people who’d written that graffiti might be thinking of joining us here tonight, and I felt a bit sick. I shone my torch to see the numbers 666 scribbled in red on the once floral wallpaper; I realised that this would probably be the perfect location for dealing drugs. Cumbria was a boring place to grow up, and thus the drug trade was booming. Teenagers just didn’t have anything else to do.
‘Let’s split up,’ Katie said – the three most dreaded words in the English language. ‘Boys – you go upstairs. We’ll explore down here. We’ll all do the cellar together.’ Her eyes sparkled at this.
I could see Tom looking less than comfortable, but they nodded and headed up the stairs, whilst I trailed after her meekly.
She pushed open one of the doors on our left and we trod into the room. My feet felt like they were standing on linoleum; we were in what was once either a kitchen or a bathroom. Together, we shone our torches around. Then we froze.
A woman was standing in the kitchen, turned away from us. She was standing over a space where the stove most likely used to be, wearing a traditional 1950s outfit – hair up, flowery apron, floaty skirt. Every fibre in my body told me to run. But I was rooted to the spot, staring at this strange, stiff looking woman – who had not moved upon us entering the room. I reached out for my friend’s hand, but she was in the process of moving step closer, cracking a twig below her foot. The woman still didn’t move. I couldn’t take my eyes off her. Why wasn’t she turning around? What was wrong with her?
‘Katie…there’s something wrong here…’
‘Hello?’ Katie called out, gently. ‘Hello?’
She moved even closer to the woman, before prodding her on the shoulder. I couldn’t speak, waiting for it to turn around – what was she going to look like?
‘It’s…it’s a mannequin!’ my friend exclaimed, open mouthed.
Of course.
‘What?’
I drew closer to it as well, realising, as I brought my torch closer, that it was indeed a mannequin – the hair was too stiff; the neck too white. I got close enough to see the other side of her and, most horrifyingly, the thing was faceless, no features at all other than a large smile that had been drawn on with what looked like crayon, the rest of it just a white, blank canvas. A figure with no eyes.
‘Jesus Christ,’ Katie said.
I shone the torch around a little more, and noticed that, on the floor, in the space where the stove should have been, was a frying pan lying on the dirt, with two plastic fried eggs and a sausage in it – the kind you might give to a child.
‘She’s…cooking,’ I said.
Of course, McGreavy had made mannequins for a living. But why was there one in the house, now, all these years later? Some sort of sick joke by pranksters?
Katie and I looked at each other, unsure whether to laugh, or to cry. The sound of a scream from across the house meant we did neither.
We ran to the sound, coming from upstairs, finding both our brothers huddled together in one of the bedrooms, pointing at the boarded-up window. We got closer to it to find a small bed – or, what remained of a bed, rotten and smelly as it was – with the dummy of a child lying in it.
This mannequin was more detailed than the one in the kitchen. It had a face carved into it – a nose, and lips. Someone had even stuck two of those goggly eyes you can buy for arts and crafts to its forehead – giving the odd impression that it was lying in bed with its eyes wide open. On top of its head was a mop of curly hair.
‘What the fuck is that thing?’ my brother asked. His voice was quivering.
‘Well it’s a mannequin, what do you think?’ said Katie. ‘There’s one in the kitchen too.’
‘There’s more of them?’
My brother really was losing his shit. I felt a little embarrassed, if I’m honest. Michael remained calm and composed, eyes fixed on the thing in the bed, his head cocked as though he were looking at a scientific oddity.
‘I’ve had enough,’ Tom said. ‘This place is too weird.’
‘It’s obviously just a prank,’ Katie said. ‘Someone’s probably done it to scare stupid kids like us off the premises. Or it’ll be some of those serial killer groupies, trying to recreate the family home.’
‘That’s fucked up,’ my brother said, his face stark white.
‘Yeah.’ But Katie’s expression didn’t look like she thought it was fucked up. Instead, there was the trace of a smirk on her mouth. She looked like she was thoroughly enjoying the whole affair.
‘I think I’d like to leave now,’ Tom said. He looked at me. This was my chance to be a supportive older sister.
‘Well…maybe we’ve seen enough,’ I said. ‘This place is a bit freaky, after all.’
‘But we haven’t done the cellar yet!’ Katie exclaimed. ‘That’s the best bit!’
‘I don’t want to do the cellar. I’ve had enough,’ Tom persisted. ‘We’ve come out this far – there’s a bad vibe in this place. I feel like something bad is going to happen.’
‘Well, you can go home,’ Katie said. ‘But I’m going to go and explore the cellar. You don’t have to wait for me if you don’t want to.’
This was a difficult situation. I really didn’t want to choose between my friend and my brother, but it looked like I was going to have to. I stood, staring from one to the other of them; Katie’s face hard, certain; my brother’s pale and anxious.
That was when we heard it.
A soft, dragging sound. Coming from beneath us. Far beneath our feet. Like it was coming from the cellar.
I’ve never felt four people stop breathing at exactly the same moment, but that’s what happened. Then we heard it again. A dragging sound. Like someone dragging something heavy across a concrete floor.
‘What…what was that?’ Michael was the first one to speak. For the first time, he was looking scared too.
‘We need to get out of here,’ said Tom.
Cautiously, ever so cautiously, we tiptoed across what was Martin McGreavy’s son’s bedroom, headed out into what had once been his landing, and crept down what had once been his staircase. The dragging sound started to grow louder, more urgent, as if it knew we were getting away.
I grabbed my brother’s hand; he in turn took Michael’s arm. We made a beeline for the door, when I realised that Katie hadn’t moved. She was staring at the cellar door.
‘What are you doing? I asked in a desperate whisper. The boys headed out into the open air, but she remained rigid, staring.
‘Well, aren’t you curious?’ she asked. ‘Even just a tiny bit?’
‘No, I bloody well am not!’
‘I am. I want to see what’s making that noise.’
I couldn’t believe this. How could she be this stupid? As we were speaking, I noticed that the noise had stopped. Oh my god. What if whatever it was had heard us.
‘Katie, it could be dangerous down there. You don’t know who it is.’
‘I’ll just be quick.’
She was trancelike, moving towards the door as the sliver of moonlight from the front door fell across her face, and even as I grabbed her hand she pulled away from me, stronger than I was.
‘Katie, please.’
She opened the door, and before I could stop her, she was gone, heading down the steps.
‘For God’s sake!’
Nothing – not heaven and earth moving, not a maze of chocolate, not pigs flying – could make my feet unstick from their place in the ground and make me go down there and stop her. Instead I stood there, not even sure if I was breathing, as Michael poked his head back round the door.
‘What are you doing?’ he asked, ‘Why are you taking so long?’
‘Your sister’s gone down to the cellar,’ I said.
We both shared a glance – a terrified, helpless, awful glance. But neither of us could move. The dragging sound increased in volume again; the urgency amplified, filling my ears.
And then we heard her scream.
Her scream was even more ear-splitting than that of my brother’s; it was the kind of scream a person makes when they are experiencing the last moments of their life. Both Michael and I ran toward the basement door and stood at the top of the steps, the torch light falling in shards across the stairs. I took in the sight below: Katie, running back up the steps, her expression like that of a person being hunted; but nothing and no one was behind her. I moved the torch around to see a group of tall shadowy figures lurking in the farthest corner of the room; nine of them, stiff as boards, faceless. I felt my heart stop, but I couldn’t understand why she was so frightened – they were only mannequins, like the ones in the rest of the house.
And then one of them moved.
Thud, thud, thud – Katie’s footsteps pounded up the final steps and she pushed us with all her might back through the door, back into the hallway.
‘Get out of here,’ she shrieked, ‘Get out of here now!’
We didn’t need to be told twice. We began to run, out of the door, down the drive, towards my brother, who was also running – we ran to the fence, and climbed it, and lost rucksacks and shoes and grazed our limbs in the process but we did not care, because all we knew was that we were running, running far away from that place and that sound and those awful, awful figures.
I don’t know what made me do it. Even now, when I look back on it, I’m not sure it was even real. It was probably the hysteria.
But I’m sure that when I looked back there – and I looked back there only once, when I was twisting myself around on the fence – I’m sure I saw another figure standing in the doorway; another mannequin, a young girl this time, about fourteen. Its only feature a drawn-on mouth, a mouth wide with terror, and its long, bony arm was stretched out towards us, pointing. On her feet was a pair of pink Converse trainers.
I didn’t look back twice.

Katie never told me what happened to her in the cellar that day. She never told a single soul.
She refused to ever speak of the incident at all, in fact, and would get very upset when we mentioned it. Once, I asked her if she saw the figures in the cellar, like I did, though I never mentioned the dummy wearing the Converse. She refused to engage with me. Her taste for horror waned; she never suggested going exploring again.
Sometimes Tom and I will talk about it. We’ll try and make a joke out of the whole thing now – must have been some twisted pranksters, we’ll say – but deep down, it scares us still, and I’ve never been able to go anywhere there are mannequins again, which, as you can imagine, makes life difficult in a department store. I don’t know why someone chose to put those things in there; I don’t know if they were mannequins made by McGreavy himself, or whether they were brought there after his death, and I don’t know how they knew that one of us would be wearing pink trainers. To ask those questions means delving deeper into the horror of that night.
I’ve never been back to the farmhouse. Katie and I became less close when we went to university, though we still keep in touch every now and then, even after she moved away from the village.
Michael and Tom are still close though. Tom says that Michael even went back there about a year ago – in broad daylight this time – to get some footage (he studies Film at university). He said he didn’t find any mannequins there, and all the furniture had been looted too.
The cellar door was locked when he went there, though. Whatever it was that lurked down there amongst the shadows was concealed away. And whatever it was Katie saw that night – whether she saw the same thing as I did, or maybe worse – was hidden away, and can only be left for you and I to speculate.

Credit: ShadowsintheLight23

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Always Be Nice To Your Neighbors

Always Be Nice To Your NeighborsReading Time: 4 minutes

When someone asks you about your dream home, how do you respond? It might be an apartment in a big city, a big house on a farm, or (if you’re like me) a cozy house with a picket fence in the suburbs.

My husband and I moved into my dream home about 5 years ago. It’s located in a tiny town; one of those places where everyone knows everyone and no one locks their doors – about a 30 minute drive from the city. We thought we found the perfect place. We were SO very wrong.

You see, the thing about people is that you never really know them. It’s common in this kind of town (and everywhere really) to come across the type of people who seem to be the nicest and most normal human beings on the planet, but who are different monsters behind closed doors. Usually it’s nothing more than hidden alcoholism or drug use, a secret affair, or domestic abuse… but even Jeffrey Dahmer seemed like an okay guy, and we all know what skeletons were in his closet (and fridge).

The weirdness started a few months ago when our new neighbor moved in next door. He kept to himself. He didn’t talk to anyone except for the occasional visitors that came from out of town to see him. They were a catalyst for rumors. I’d heard that he was a drug dealer, that he had been in and out of prison, and that he was cut out of his family’s lives for touching his nephew or niece but not reported for it out of pity. He was quiet and a little creepy, but he seemed okay to me. Apparently, I’m an idiot.

A couple of weeks ago, my sister was leaving my house late at night when she noticed that the dome light on her car was on. Someone had just been in there, it seemed. She ran back inside and alerted my husband who then walked her back out and took a look around to see if he could find the intruder. They heard footsteps on my neighbor’s porch, but couldn’t actually see anyone. My husband called out but received no response. The next day, he spoke with another neighbor about the incident, to warn him to lock his car at night. That neighbor told my husband that he had spotted someone in the bushes across from his house two weeks prior and chased the person to the house next to mine before he lost the guy. A few days after the chase, someone broke an upstairs window trying to get into his house while he and his family slept. The whole neighborhood was freaked out, and we had our suspicions that the new guy was the culprit, but we had no proof. No one had been able to see his face when he was busted, no one could say whether he had been chased TO his house, or if the person running had simply hidden on his porch or in his yard. Local police agreed to increase patrols in our area, and things quieted down for a while. That was, until this past weekend.

It was late on Saturday, around midnight, when I heard what sounded like power tools running. There’s a house nearby that’s being renovated by the family that lives there, so I just assumed they were finishing a project before turning in or something. I didn’t really care until about 45 minutes later when I saw the flashing lights outside my window. I went outside to see three police cars, an ambulance, and a small crowd gathering in front of the house next door. No one seemed to know what the hell was going on for once. The only information that I could gather was that an old lady who lived a few doors down had called the police to file a noise complaint when the sound of the tools woke her up. I had been standing with the crowd for about five minutes before the officers came outside to move us away from the house and rope off the area with crime scene tape. The coroner’s van showed up a short while later. It wasn’t until the next day that we finally got the story.

Two officers had responded to the noise complaint. They could hear the tools running inside, but no one answered the door when they knocked. One of the officers looked into a window and noticed a pool of blood on the living room floor. They called for backup and entered the house. My next door neighbor had killed some woman, dragged her down to his basement, and was using a power saw to cut her up into pieces. When the police entered the basement, he panicked and used the saw to end his own life. Apparently, he almost completely decapitated himself. As gruesome as the details of this heinous act were, the murder-suicide wasn’t the thing that caused the most unrest in my little community. He had a large, hand-drawn map of the town hanging in his basement. Each house was drawn as an empty square, and each square had notes written inside: how many people lived in the house, whether or not they had dogs, and the best time and place to enter the home undetected. He also had a stack of photos on a table near the map. He had taken pictures of every house on our street, some at night and some during the day, some from the outside and some from within.

 

CREDIT: Christine Druga

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The Shopping List

The Shopping ListReading Time: 2 minutes

The man walked quickly to his destination, boots crunching on the old snow. It was covered in dirt and dog piss. No one had bothered to shovel for a few days so the heaps of ice and snow were getting hard to handle. But he walked confidently, slamming his feet down over each solitary snowflake.

A few feet away sat the local bodega. It was rather large for a corner store, with groceries as well as home-goods. It was the only thing resembling a grocery store in the neighborhood. It stood out against the rundown apartments and sketchy shops. It was family-owned and a popular spot for lazing around.

The man stopped at the door of the bodega and looked inside. Usually it was full of patrons, but today is was empty. This worked to his advantage. He opened the door and the large bell rang harshly. There was a little girl behind the register. She has shiny black hair that was pulled back into braids. Her blouse was embroidered by hand but had food stains from years of hand-me-downs. She was doing her homework but looked up idly at the man. He walked deliberately down the aisles, grabbing items and shoving them under his arm. The girl turned back to her homework. She was accustomed to watching the shop while her father was busy with other things. After a few minutes the man dumped his items by the register. The girl eyed him suspiciously. He wore a black hoodie, black jeans, and large black boots. His eyes were heavy and purple. He looked as though he hadn’t slept in days.

The girl entered in the prices for items. She typed each number with care, making sure to charge the exact amount. Her little fingers punching the buttons made a louder sound than the man expected. He waited as patiently as he could.

She finished ringing him up and stuffed his items in a bag. He paid with dollar bills stained just a bit with age. He grabbed the bag almost violently and moved towards the door. A small piece of paper fell out of his pocket.

He left the bodega and the little girl came around to pick up the paper. It was a shopping list. It said:

Bleach

Rubbing alcohol

Lysol

Laundry detergent

Dish soap

Zip ties

She held the list in her hand for a second before opening the door. She saw the man a few feet away waiting at the streetlamp.

“Hey,” she called after him.

He turned around and stared at the girl. She held the piece of paper up. “You forgot the zip ties.”

The man slowly grudged back to the bodega. The little girl went behind the register and pointed out which aisle for him to look through. He found the zip ties and brought them up to the front. The girl rang them up and he paid.

For the first time in their encounter the man smiled. “Thank you for reminding me. I am having some good friends over for drinks.”

 

CREDIT: EZmisery

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Jeff The Killer (Reboot)

Jeff The Killer (Reboot)(artwork in image credited to DeviantArt users SuchAnArtist13 and BladeRazors)

 

Author’s note: Credit for the characters of Jeff, Liu, Keith, Troy and Randy go to the original author of Jeff the Killer. This is my remake of Jeff the Killer, voted for through a community challenge in 2015, to become the new Jeff the Killer story to be featured on the Creepypasta Wiki. This is not the original story, but rather a retelling. I hope you enjoy it.

The day Jeffrey Woods and his family arrived at their new home, the sky was overcast and the weather was muggy. The gray skies seemed to punctuate his mood. Jeff was not thrilled to be here. Their new home was beautiful though, a true example of his father’s new found success, but still, it wasn’t the home he’d known.

A week after they’d settled in, Jeff and Liu woke up early. The sky was a crisp and gorgeous blue, and although the Louisiana heat was playing its usual cruel tricks, the brothers decided that a morning bike ride to explore the area would be just the right ticket to combat the slight pangs of homesickness that they’d both been experiencing over the last week.

“I miss home,” Liu blurted out, as Jeff was smearing salsa on the microwaved burrito that would serve as his breakfast.

“Me too Liu, but I guess this is home now, so we just sort of have to make the most of it.”

“I know, but all of our friends and stuff are back in New Orleans. Remember that building we’d always sneak up on top of and watch the city lights come on, I miss that,” Liu responded, sounding down.

“Yeah, and ZM Video, the owner knew us and would always let us rent R-Rated movies without our parents, and he’d always hook us up with a free video game rental if we got a few movies… yeah, I miss that too, but Liu, we have to…”

Liu interrupted, “I know, we have to make the most out of this, but still, this place just seems so fake, and mom and dad still treat us like we aren’t even here.”

“Yep, they do. I was sort of hoping the new house would improve their mood, but what can we do?”

Liu had no answer.

Jeff finished his breakfast and the two boys left the house to mount their bikes and explore around a bit more. As it turned out, the subdivision they moved into was rather close to a cluster of stores in a small shopping center.

Village Shopping Center was the name of the short row of businesses. Within these were a Pizza Hut, a Chinese restaurant, a tobacco store, a Sprint store, and, what Jeff and Liu were most excited about, a video store.

“We’ll have to get mom or dad to come down here and open up an account so we can rent movies,” Liu mentioned as Jeff flipped a box over to read the description of a horror movie.

“Shit, you’re right,” Jeff snapped, feeling a bit of frustration at this thought. He knew getting his parents to actually come down here and set up a membership would take forever, since their usual after work routine was to go off into separate rooms until they got hungry enough to come out and speak.

Jeff glanced over at the girl working behind the counter, “Maybe I can go over there and sweet talk her into giving us accounts,” he joked.

“Yeah right Jeff, one look at you and she’ll probably ban us,” Liu remarked back, a smile broad on his face.

“You doubt me little man?”

“Doubt you? The guy who’s kissed two girls and almost touched a boob, never, please go on over and lay on all the charm.”

“Whatever, I totally could have banged that girl, but her parents came home and….”

“Last time you told me that story, you said her parents were out of town and her sister came home…”

Jeff became flustered and while in the process of trying to make yet another come back, the girl behind the register removed all doubt by speaking to the boys herself.

“Hey, aren’t those your bikes?” the young woman asked, pointing towards the glass window.

Jeff and Liu looked over and saw three boys outside, two of which were riding around in circles on the Woods brother’s bikes. They would spin them around and then jump off, letting the bikes crash onto the pavement, just to stand them up and ride them again. The two boys riding the bikes were both slim in build, while a heavier boy stood on the sidewalk, drinking a Red Bull and watching.

Jeff and his brother made their way towards the doors of the video store, when the fat kid saw them coming. Jeff couldn’t hear what he said to his two friends, but he made some sort of gesture while shouting, and the other two boys dumped the bikes where they lay, and walked towards the sidewalk, directly towards the two brothers.

“Those your bikes?” one of the boys asked as Jeff and Liu entered the summer heat.

“Yeah, why are you riding them?” Liu asked sharply.

“We just saw them there man, relax, figured someone just left them out for us,” the same boy responded, as his two friends joined him on either side.

Jeff, determined to make a good start here, tried to change the course of this confrontation.

“Well, they’re ours. We just moved here about a week ago, we live over on Fairmont Avenue, a few blocks from here. We were just checking out the neighborhood.” Jeff hoped that a civil tone could turn things around, but he could tell by the insolent look on the kid’s face that this was a difficult gamble.

“Good for you, you moved somewhere,” the fat kid remarked.

“Oh yeah Troy,” the first boy spoke, “they moved into that piece of shit house with the gravel driveway. I was wondering who would move into that place.”

“Well Randy, now we know,” the big kid, apparently named Troy, replied.

Jeff, still trying to salvage the conversation, tried peaceful banter one more time. “Okay, so you’re Troy and you’re Randy, well I’m Jeff and this is my brother Liu, we just moved here from New Orleans.”

“You ain’t in New Orleans now,” the third boy, who’d just now decided to speak, remarked.

“Yeah, and who the fuck said you could call us by our names?” Randy asked, that insolent, privileged smile never leaving his face.

Jeff smiled and responded to Randy, “Well, I guess I could have called you a fucking asshole but I figured I would give you the benefit of the doubt.”

In that moment, a flare of rage replaced the smirk that had rested on Randy’s face throughout this entire exchange. The other two boys, Troy and the still unknown third member of his band, seemed to be momentarily struck silent. Perhaps they weren’t used to being stood up to.

“Oh I’m sorry, was that language too adult for you?” Jeff asked. “And you, quiet boy, we know this isn’t New Orleans,” Jeff stated to the slim kid that had reminded him of his geographical locations, “because if this was New Orleans you three would already have gotten your asses kicked for touching someone else’s shit.”

The slim kid looked back and forth at his two friends, however, Randy, clearly the leader, seemed to know what to say. “Keith, you gonna let this little bitch talk to you like that?”

Jeff knew this part. And while he wanted quite badly to sock Randy and his pals around, a real concern suddenly invaded his mind. If he and Liu got into a fight on their first week in this new neighborhood, their parents would freak. He could practically hear it now. And while things had been far from perfect in their home, even after the move, there was a peace that had fallen over the family, and Jeff, fighting his urges, decided to do his best to keep it.

Jeff looked over the three, very well dressed, very privileged looking suburban kids before them, and dismissed them. “You guys are boring, come on Liu, let them continue their play dates without us.”

Liu laughed at that and followed behind his brother towards the bikes. However, Randy and his little gang of would-be toughs would have none of that. They moved to block Jeff and his brother once again.

“Where you going pussy?” Randy asked, shoving Jeff. Jeff could tell that shove had no real conviction. Randy was trying to figure him out, seeing where his buttons were. He’d push harder eventually, but Jeff swallowed the slowly building anger within him once more.

Liu took a bit more exception to the shove.

“We’re going to your mom’s house, me and my brother saved up a couple dollars from doing chores and we hear she doesn’t charge much.”

As the words left Liu’s mouth, Randy appeared to only register a small portion of it all. Randy Hayden had grown up in Mandeville. His father was a partner at a local firm that made a lot of money, something else that Jeff would soon come to learn. Randy and his friends, while the same age as Jeff, had grown up in very different circumstances. They were used to being listened to; they were used to being feared.

In fact, Randy, the target of the insult, just stood there. It was actually Troy, the fat kid who stepped forward, fist balled, eyes squinted in anger.

“Who you talking to?” Troy shouted, and took a wild swing at Liu.

Liu, who was both in better shape and had sparred with Jeff a time or two during his time spent boxing, was able to avoid the punch, but just barely. Had that been all, it may have once again ended there. Troy was clearly taken by surprise at Liu’s speed, and actually didn’t attempt another punch. However, these were bullies, kids that ran in a pack for a reason. The skinny one, Keith, stepped around and threw a punch that connected with the left side of Liu’s face.

Jeff had seen enough. He’d been shocked at how quickly this evolved into blows, even though he’d expected it from almost the start. When he’d first met Randy and his friends, he’d been curious. From there he’d developed an annoyance with them, and slowly that annoyance had evolved into anger. However, upon seeing Liu punched, seeing the small trickle of blood form on his brother’s lower lip, upon seeing the smug look of satisfaction on Keith’s face, that anger that Jeff felt, suddenly exploded into a rage that he’d never felt before in his life.

Jeff Woods did not hesitate. He stepped forward, his feet automatically falling into the correct stance that he’d learned from the boxing classes his father once enrolled him into, and delivered a powerful right hand to Keith’s face. The skinny boy had no time to register shock or pain. The punch caught him by surprise, and his knees buckled. Keith went down to the ground in a heap of confusion and dawning fear.

Randy, the so called leader here, was almost too shocked to move. He’d had quite a lot of experience starting fights, but no real time logged in losing them. He’d never felt control of a situation slip. He was used to being in charge. So now, seeing one of his friends go down so quickly and easily, left him in a state of shock that he had no idea how to address.

Troy on the other hand seemed to have a plan, throw another punch. He moved towards Jeff deceptively faster than his weight would seem to allow, and threw two equally fast punches. Jeff however had no problem side stepping both attempts. Troy, seeming lost for actions, actually dropped his arms, as if to say, ‘gee, what do I do now?’

Jeff had the answer. He moved in, throwing three hooks to Troy’s stomach. The hefty kid’s eyes went as wide as pie pans, a fitting analogy, Jeff thought. He staggered back, clutching his throbbing stomach. Jeff wasted no time, and stepped in once more, fetching a sharp punch to the big kid’s jaw, causing Troy to promptly fall on his ass. Jeff was reminded of King Hippo from the Punch Out game he used to play. He couldn’t help but smile.

Jeff now turned his focus on Randy. He advanced on the boy, feeling something new forming inside of him. He still felt the anger, the rage actually, at the antics of these three assholes. They had the nerve to mess with their bikes; the nerve to insult two kids they’d never met before, and of course, the ultimate offense, touching his brother. However, mixed in with this rage was also a sweet, enjoyable pleasure. Not only was he kicking their asses, but he was loving every second of it. It was as though the joy of showing them up was perfectly blending with the rage he felt towards them. Together, it formed into a sadistic, controlled sense of power.

That was, until Liu stepped in front of him. “Jeff, stop, that’s enough!”

“Why stop now Liu, they wanted this,” Jeff replied in a flat voice that Liu had never heard come from his brother’s mouth.

“She’s calling the cops, look!” Liu shouted again, and this time, Jeff came back to reality long enough to listen. He glanced over at the video store clerk, and saw her on the phone, talking frantically and pointing towards the parking lot. Suddenly, Jeff’s strange sadistic haze collapsed, and he regained his former self.

“Fuck, let’s go!” he stated quickly, and he and Liu mounted their bikes and rode towards the parking lot exit.

“Yeah, you better fucking run!” Randy called behind them. Jeff and Liu paid no mind and peddled away.

A few blocks down the street they dismounted their bikes and began to walk them together. At first, neither brother spoke, then Liu broke the silence.

“Jeff, thank you for standing up for me back there, thank you.”

“Yeah, those guys were pieces of shit, they had it coming,” Jeff replied, looking down at the street as they walked.

“What… what happened? I’ve never seen you like that before?”

“Just defending myself Liu, what was I supposed to do, let them beat you up?”

“I bet they go to our school, I bet we’ll see them there, and they won’t forget this.”

“Who cares? We didn’t ask to move here, we didn’t ask for any of this. Mom and dad just wanted a bigger house in a nicer neighborhood, and we were along for the ride whether we liked it or not. Think I give a shit what these rich asshole kids think of us?” Jeff stated, and went back to looking at his feet.

“Think we’ll get in trouble?” Liu asked.

“For what, defending ourselves?”

“Yeah, I guess you’re right, they did start it,” Liu answered, and to the brother’s, the matter was closed.

However, things were far from over.

They found that the trouble they believed they’d escaped was in fact waiting for them at their front door. Jeff and Liu saw the police cars well before they arrived at their driveway. Two cop cars, both parked in front of their house. Both of them felt their stomachs drop, as they well knew why the police were there.

The brothers entered the living room, to see their parents sitting on the couch, the two cops standing up, leaning on the wall, writing in their notebooks.

“What did you two do?” Shelia practically screeched as the two boys entered the house.

Liu, younger and less centered than Jeff, began to fall on the defensive, “Some kids tried to jump us down by that video store, they were messing with our bikes, and when we went outside, they got in our faces!”

“That’s not the way we heard it!” Matt Woods interjected, his voice firm and ripe with anger and dissatisfaction.

“No dad, that’s what happened,” Jeff began to explain. “We were down at Friendly Video, looking around the store, when these three kids started riding around on our bikes. All we did was walk outside, and the kids started talking trash to us, trying to provoke a fight. When we tried to leave, one of them punched Liu.”

Finally, one of the two cops spoke. His name tag read Williamson. “Boys, we have some serious complaints about the two of you. From what eye witnesses at the shopping center say, you two started the confrontation with Randy and his friends.”

Jeff took notice at how familiar the cop’s tone was when he said Randy’s name. This was a small town after all, and there was a good chance that this cop coached Randy in little league, or drank beers with his dad. Hell, it was even possible that this cop could be an uncle to one of the bullies.

“No sir,” Jeff replied, “we didn’t start it, they did. We just wanted our bikes, we just wanted to leave. They blocked us.”

Williamson continued, as though he’d heard nothing Jeff said, “Several witnesses, including the video store clerk, say that you swung first. They say that the boys were riding your bikes, but let me ask you this, did you chain your bikes to anything, or did you just leave them outside the store?”

“What’s that matter?” Liu demanded.

“Well son, if you just left your bikes lying around in the street, you can’t exactly blame Randy and his friends for riding them, now can you? It’d be different had you secured them somehow, but you just left them there.”

“Mom, dad, you’re not buying this crap are you? You know me and Liu don’t start fights, when have we ever? These three punks messed with us, and if you can’t tell that these cops are taking their sides, then you need to open your eyes!” Jeff knew he was skating on thin ice, but that rage, it demanded some sort of satisfaction.

“Jeffrey, do not speak about these officers in that tone of voice, and do not speak to us that way either. Now, it’s pretty obvious that you two aren’t happy here, that you miss your old home, but starting fights in the street isn’t going to change anything!” Jeff’s mother snapped back.

“Listen boys, you’re lucky. None of the parents want to press charges. This will be reported as a simple scuffle between teenagers. But be advised, you’re both on notice. This is a quiet town, not like New Orleans. We don’t tolerate this sort of behavior over here. If you see Randy, Keith or Troy, I highly suggest you tell them you’re sorry. We’ll be keeping an eye on both of you, so don’t let this happen again. You don’t want to have an arrest record, do you?”

Jeff felt his anger bubble over, and he could not hold his tongue. “Who is he to you Officer Williamson? Is Randy your nephew? Is he a friend’s son? Or maybe you go over and screw his mom while you’re on duty? Which one is it Officer?”

“That’s it, both of you go to your rooms!” Matt Woods apparently found that he wasn’t a mute after all, as he ordered his sons out of the room. Jeff and Liu walked up the stairs, however, they refused to hang their heads in shame or feel any regret.

Neither of their parents spoke to them for the rest of that day. Jeff and Liu stayed upstairs, venting their shared frustration to each other. They’d been screwed over, even at their young ages, they knew that. They took some solace in the fact that they at least hadn’t been arrested or cited, but still, they saw what was really going on here.

“That cop, he was protecting Randy,” Jeff whispered to his younger brother.

“No shit,” his brother replied.

“We have to watch ourselves; we have to take care of each other. You saw it down there, even our parents didn’t stand up for us.”

“Yeah, what the hell was up with that?” Liu asked.

“Imagine, their fucking image, that’s what’s up with it. All they care about is fitting in here. They want to make sure they blend in with the rest of the Stepford families. No more fighting, if we see Randy or his two fuckhead friends again, we just walk away, okay?”

“But Jeff, you can kick the shit of them, why would we walk away?” Liu asked.

“Because I can’t kick the shit out of the cops Liu, I can’t kick the shit out of mom and dad, and that’s what would get us. Fucking Randy and his pals are protected here, you and me, we’re not. So, if we see them, just avoid them, okay, please?”

Liu nodded, “I feel like a little bitch though, I owe Keith for hitting me.”

“No you don’t, I paid him back for that, and paid his fat friend too. I hope they just leave us alone now,” Jeff sighed.

Jeff and Liu didn’t hear from their parents for the rest of that day. They remained in their rooms late into the night, and finally came down to eat after they were sure their folks had gone to bed. Liu said that he felt relieved about that, but Jeff had a sinking feeling that the worst was yet to come. Jeff was correct,the next morning, when the two brothers came down stairs together to eat breakfast; their parents were already sitting at the dining room table, staring at the boys, approving of nothing they saw.

“Sit down,” Matt stated flatly.

“What’s going on?” Liu asked.

“Sit….down!” Matt stated again, anger dancing on the words.

The boys complied without further question.

Matt Woods began his diatribe, “Whatever that was yesterday, beating up some kids for touching your bikes, mouthing off at the police, disrespecting both me and your mother, that stops today!”

“We didn’t beat anyone up for touching our bikes!” Jeff blurted.

“Shut up Jeff, this is a one way conversation!” his father barked. “That kid, Randy Hayden, his father is a partner at my firm, did you know that? Did you even think about that when you were assaulting him over your godforsaken bike?”

“You just didn’t think, did you Jeff?” Shelia added.

“How could I have known that?”

Matt continued, “Well, I’ve spent the entire morning talking to his father on the phone. His dad is willing to let it all go, but shit son, I have to deal with that at work now. Do you have any idea how much damage this could have done to me, to our family?”

Jeff felt that rage coming back, and fought with all his might to keep it stifled.

Instead, he once more tried to appeal to the two adults’ parental side, “Mom, look at Liu’s face, they split his lip, can’t you see, it’s still swollen!”

Liu turned his head to better showcase the injury.

“My god Jeff, so some kid played a little rough with your brother, is that any reason to fight them? I wanted to make friends with some of the other families in this neighborhood but thanks to you… I just don’t know…”

No sooner could Jeff or his brother construct a proper defense, than their father began speaking again. “So, your mother and I have talked this through. Since there are only a couple weeks of summer vacation left, we’ve decided that Liu should spend the rest of the season at Aunt Marcy’s place. We’ve already spoken to her, and she is willing to let him come out there and stay.”

Both Jeff and Liu were floored by this decision. Both boys began to protest at the same time, but they saw the look on their parents’ faces. The decision was made.

“Why can’t we both just go then?” Jeff asked, a last ditch effort to at least get away from his parents.

“Marcy doesn’t want both of you there, she says you two are too rambunctious, and frankly we agree,” Shelia answered.

And so it was, Liu was shuttled off to his Aunt’s place in Abita Springs, Louisiana, a place even smaller and duller than Mandeville, if one can believe that. Jeff watched his brother leave, and then walked back to his bedroom. He felt that rage; however, it began to feel almost… pleasant to him. He couldn’t explain it. He was furious at this turn of events, his parents had turned their backs on their own children. However, through it all, these new feelings he was experiencing weren’t all terrible. This anger for example, he could almost taste it. It felt like thick, sweet syrup, stirring around in him. Of course, he knew the extra ingredient that would complete the flavor. That satisfying joy he’d felt when he had Randy and his friends on the ropes the day prior, that mixed perfectly with the anger, to create some intoxicating product that Jeff almost craved now. He fell asleep lying on his bed thinking about that syrup, that thick, viscous that seemed to work its way into the very fabric of his soul. He wanted it, yet he knew that it was destructive, and that nothing good could come from sampling it again.

Several days passed, and tensions were high between Jeff and his parents. Without Liu around, there was nothing for him to do except sit in his room and play video games. He went outside but didn’t venture far from home. He knew if Randy and his goons showed up again, it would likely result in another fight.

For a few days, that worked well, and Jeff believed he could get through this. However, his mother changed all of that on an early Saturday morning. Jeff was awoken suddenly by sharp sunlight striking his face. He heard his mother humming, something that she rarely did. Even in his half sleeping state, he knew that humming was forced. She was doing it to wake him up, and figured the added sunlight would get things there even faster. When she noticed Jeff’s eyes cracking open, she sauntered over to his bed, and began speaking in a tone that simply oozed false joviality.

At first Jeff had refused. Could his mother be serious, did she really expect him to go over and make friends with Randy? He was still in bed when his mother stopped her incessant humming long enough to tell him to get up and get dressed. Once he learned why, he’d told her no, no way in hell. However, his mother was a shrewd manipulator, and she’d know exactly what would get the job done. She promised Jeff that if he did this for her, went over and made it work with Randy, that Liu could come home the next day. She’d sandbagged Jeff right into the corner with that one. He’d no choice but to agree.

A short time later, Jeff and his mother were pulling into Randy’s driveway. Randy’s mother answered the door.

“Hi, you must be Jeff,” she greeted.

Jeff smiled wanly and confirmed that was in fact who he was.

“Hello, I’m Shelia Woods, nice to finally meet you in person!” Jeff’s mother announced, barging past her son and extending a hand to Randy’s mother.

“Shelia, so pleased to meet you, I’m Bridgette Hayden. Sorry to hear that our boys had a little mishap the other day. You know how it is though with teenagers, hormones going crazy and all. Randy never gets into fights, but he explained to me that Jeff and his brother are still new to the area, and haven’t quite learned how we do things in Mandeville yet, isn’t that right Jeff?”

Jeff couldn’t resist a small jab, “Yeah, sorry about that Miss Hayden. Me and Liu had no idea that it was okay for your son and his friends and mess with our bikes without asking.”

“Bridgette, he gets that mouth from his father, never knows when to shut up. How about you and I go in and have some coffee and you can tell me all the great gossip around Mandeville while our boys get to know each other the right way.”

“Randy is in his room Jeff, upstairs, second door to your left. I’m sure you’ll hear the sound of his video games or something,” Bridgette stated with very little humor to her voice.

“Thank you ma’am,” Jeff answered, and entered the house.

Jeff knocked and heard Randy answer with, “Come in.”

“Hey, so, I guess you heard, our parents want us to hang out, get to know each other,” Jeff stated with little conviction.

“Yeah, that’s my mom alright, she doesn’t like drama. Honestly I think she worries too much, I mean, I’m cool if you’re cool.”

Jeff sat down on the floor next to Randy and struck up a conversation. “So, turns out your dad is my dad’s boss, he freaked out about the fight in the parking lot. He was actually worried that he’d get fired or something.”

“My dad is like, everyone’s boss. I fucking hate it. I think half the kids at my school talk to me because their parents are somehow connected to my dad’s firm.”

“Why do you hate it?” Jeff asked.

“Because it’s fake, this whole damned town is fake. You’ll figure it out as you go, but trust me; everyone who lives here is just trying to pretend they’re something else. My parents make me do all this shit, all the trophies and stuff, just so they can brag, that’s it.”

Jeff smiled, “I know how you feel. My dad had me in boxing class a year ago, because some co-worker of his had a brother that worked at the place or something. As soon as that guy quit though, I was out of that gym the next week.”

“I wish it was that easy,” Randy responded, “I hate playing baseball, but my dad will sure have me out there again next summer, and the summer afterwards. It’s like, he knows I hate it, but wants to make sure I’m out there with his stupid company name on the back of my jersey.”

“Randy, why did you and your friends fuck with our bikes the other day?”

“I told you, this town is fake, and boring as shit. There is nothing to do here. We have to find stuff to do. I mean, there are only so many times you can go hang out at the video store, or ride the dirt paths in the woods. All the girls here are stuck up, all the stores close early, there’s no mall and the movie theatre is across town. We were just bored man, so, sorry for that I guess.”

“It’s cool,” Jeff replied, “I guess I’m sorry for too. Things went too far.”

“You mean the fight?” Randy asked, “That shit was actually cool. Those guys, Keith and Troy, they just leech on because of my dad. It’s like I told you, I’m pretty sure their parents make them hang out with me.”

The afternoon went on, and Jeff soon forgot that this was a mandatory arrangement. He actually started to find himself liking Randy, sure, their first encounter was a little sketchy, but he was coming around to the guy, finding that he wasn’t so bad once his idiot friends were removed from the equation.

About an hour later, things took a new turn. Jeff heard the twin pops of two car doors shutting in near unison, and then heard the engine start up. He dropped the game controller and peered out of Randy’s bedroom window, just in time to see his mother and Randy’s mother backing out of the driveway.

“Our parents are leaving,” Jeff said.

“About time, I figured my mom would eventually talk your mom into going shopping, or going to get coffee, or something like that.”

Jeff heard Randy pause the game.

“Hey Jeff, come down stairs, I want to show you some cool stuff,” Randy invited, and Jeff followed.

Randy led Jeff out to the garage. It was hot in there, with the main door shut. The garage was well kept though, and Jeff observed stacks of magazines underneath a work bench, as well as tools and various other utility items stacked about.

Standing in the small, closed in garage, with the late summer heat lingering about, Jeff began to feel a bit uneasy. Despite the fact that he and Randy had seemed to bond over the last few hours, Jeff couldn’t ignore a sense that things were different now that the adults were gone.

“What did you want to show me?” Jeff asked.

“Hold on, let me get it,” Randy replied, moving the magazines out to reveal a small, red box.

Jeff watched as Randy removed the box and opened it.

“Check it out, my dad’s flare gun,” Randy announced, and waved the red, tubular gun about.

“Woah, be careful with that!” Jeff shouted, more out of shock than real concern.

“It’s fine dude, don’t be a pussy, it’s not even loaded,” Randy said. However, Jeff watched as he fished one of the flares out of a back compartment. Randy then continued to fiddle with the flare gun, popping it open and loading a flare. “Now it’s loaded,” he announced. “My dad showed me how to use this last year when we went out boating. Sometimes I take it out back and shoot flares at the trees. But, maybe this time I don’t need a tree.”

The change in Randy’s voice and demeanor was impossible to ignore.

“Okay, well cool gun. Let’s get back in the house though, it’s hot out here, plus, I’m getting hungry, what do you have to eat?”

However, as Jeff turned to walk through the small door leading back into the house, his path was suddenly blocked by two more familiar faces.

“Where you going Jeffey?” the fat kid, Troy, blurted out, as he and Keith stepped forward into the garage.

“Took you two assholes long enough to get here, I’ve had to babysit this faggot all day,” Randy shouted, a wicked joy was present in his words.

“Sorry Randy, but Keith here had to mow his front yard before his parents would let him come out,” Troy said, a sheepish tone to his voice.

“It’s cool, we’re here now,” Keith said.

“What the fuck is going on?” Jeff asked, staring at Randy. He noticed that Randy still had the flare gun in his hands.

“I’ll tell you what’s going on Jeff; you owe Keith and Troy an apology for what you did. You sucker punched them, and then ran away. You didn’t even have the balls to fight them fair, so now, you’re going to pay them what you owe!”

“I’m not going to fight you, okay, I’m done with that shit,” Jeff replied as he glanced about the room for an exit.

“You’re right about that, you’re not going to fight. You’re going to stand there and let my boys get their licks in. Then I get mine, and when that’s done, you get the fuck out of my house. I’ll tell my mom that you got sick and walked home, and after that, if you see us again, you better walk the other way.”

“I’m not going to stand here and get hit by you or your friends, so just let me go home, how about that. I’ll tell my mom that we’re cool and everyone wins, okay?” Jeff asked.

Randy then raised the flare gun towards Jeff. “No, you stay pussy; you stay and take your licks.”

Jeff felt that sensation once more, that sick, rich dark matter that swirled about inside of him. He could taste it now, it was heaven. In his mind, he imagined himself diving into it, swimming in it, letting it swallow him whole. He looked around and the sensation only grew. He saw Randy, standing there holding the flare gun. It was limp in his hands though, and the hammer was not cocked back. Jeff knew that Randy had no intention of firing it. He looked over at Keith, skinny and pathetic, a kid born to follow. Troy, fat and sweaty, breathing a bit heavy from his walk over, and of course, in the middle of it all, Jeff himself. He felt that pleasure begin to mix with the rage, forming the perfect product. He tried to avoid sampling it; he knew that only regret could come from indulging in it. However, when it was placed so close, when the aroma and the promise of that sweet savory flavor was only inches away, Jeff found that he could no more to stand against it than a ship in the ocean could stand against a typhoon.

Jeff began to smile.

“Why are you smiling at me, you queer for me or something?” Randy asked, a slight nervous tinge in his voice.

“Am I smiling Randy? I guess it’s because I’m just having so much fun,” Jeff announced, and suddenly lunged towards the unprepared kid holding the flare gun.

Jeff struck Randy once in the nose. Randy’s arms dropped, yet he kept hold of the flare gun. Jeff, without even needing to look, realized that Troy and Keith had actually taken a step back, instead of advancing as they should have. Jeff delivered another strong blow to Randy’s jaw, causing the boy to drop to the floor.

Jeff now turned his attention to Troy and Keith, the two tough kids that had yet to actually make so much as a move in his direction. Troy actually backed up a step and stumbled over the stack of magazines that Randy had moved earlier. Jeff took this opportunity and stepped forward, once again introducing Troy’s round belly to his fist. Troy tried to stay on his feet, but Jeff’s punches, combined with the stumble over the magazines, caused Troy to fall back, landing hard and striking his head on the concrete slab that was the garage’s floor.

Keith was actually trying to back away. However, Jeff was currently standing between him and the only exit to the garage, since the carport door was closed. Jeff took two quick steps towards the skinny kid, and felt the most intense joy at seeing Keith stagger backwards, knocking his back into the wall. That perfect blend of pleasure, control and rage had come together. Jeff felt as though he was floating above the world. Somewhere in his mind, he knew there would be hell to pay for this, but at that exact moment in time, he couldn’t care less. He didn’t care about Liu, he didn’t care about being arrested, and he didn’t care if his dad got fired. All he cared about, in that fraction of time, was hurting Keith.

Keith tried to make a run for it, hoping to squeeze through the small gap between Jeff and the door. However, Jeff clipped him a hard right hand to his face, causing Keith to stagger back again. Jeff could see that his knees were buckling, and took full advantage. He moved in, pinning Keith to the wall, and began to deliver blow after blow to the skinny kid’s stomach. Keith’s eyes became as large as saucers. Once satisfied, Jeff stepped back, and watched in demonic glee as Keith slowly slid down the wall, gasping for air.

Randy got back to his feet, but seemed to have no idea what to do.

“We done now Randy? We good, or do you and your friends need more?” Jeff mocked.

“No more, we’re cool…”

“How about you assholes?” Jeff asked.

“It was Randy’s idea…” Keith said weakly.

“Yeah man, we didn’t even want to,” Troy agreed.

The debate may have continued, but the sound of a returning car broke the tension.

“Oh shit, my mom is back!” Randy shouted, his voice cracking in a humorous way. It seemed that the previous tough guy had all but shrunk back to a scared child.

“So, we’ll just say that we were all hanging out,” Keith replied.

“No, the fucking flare gun, if she finds out that I messed with it, I’m screwed!”

“So put it back,” Jeff suggested. That sensation of rage was fading again, and he felt control returning.

“Yeah, grab the magazines, please,” Randy begged. Jeff found that he rather liked that tone, that begging, whipped dog mentality.

Jeff was paying no attention to Randy; he was down on the floor calmly gathering the magazines. He didn’t really care if Randy got in trouble or not, however, if his mother returned and found trouble, he feared that Liu may not be able to return home as promised.

Everything else happened in a flash, both literally and figuratively.

Randy, now in a panic over the trouble he’d be in if he was caught playing with the flare gun, had begun to sweat. As his hands frantically clawed over the gun, his thumbs pushed the hammer back, unintentionally. He didn’t even notice that the gun was cocked. He was turning it over in his hands, trying to quickly disarm it. He then heard the sound of keys in the front door. He knew that he had only seconds now to hide it.

Everything else happened in slow motion. The gun slipped from Randy’s sweaty hands as he’d attempted to rotate it once more. He saw it fall to the floor, seeming to float to the ground, rather than fall. Jeff, busy stacking the magazines, had only enough time to register Randy’s shocked gasp. He turned to look in the boy’s direction, just in time to see the bright red flare gun hit the floor. The gun discharged, launching a speeding ball of fire directly into Jeff’s face. Jeff felt the hot flash of heat and pain tear across the left side of his face. After the initial registry of agony, there was no more thinking. Jeff began to scream, clutching the left side of his face and rolling around on the floor. For a while he forgot everything, as he was plunged into that dark, rich syrup once more, the rage almost serving to dull the pain.

When he finally did come to a stable level of alertness, he realized he was in a hospital room. Half of his face was bandaged, he knew that much. He wanted to open his eyes and speak, let his family know he was awake, but the drugs still had a firm hold. He was awake, but not quite yet functioning. He could hear several familiar voices though.

“Is he going to be okay doctor?” Jeff’s mother asked.

“Oh yes ma’am, your son will be fine, however, he will have a lengthy road to recovery, and will need your support. The flare struck his face and caused 3rd degree burns on his left side.”

“How bad is the eye?” Jeff’s father asked.

“Hard to say at this point, he’ll need to see an optometrist for further review, but the damage appears quite severe.”

“And his face? What about his face?” Jeff’s mother asked, sounding deeply concerned.

“Well, we were able to clean and treat the injury in time, so you’ve no concern for infection or anything of that matter. We’ll want him on antibiotics for a while, and he’ll need to have the wound cleaned and dressed on a regular basis, but all in all, your son got very lucky. The damage could have been more severe.”

“Doctor,” his mother began again, “What if there is permanent damage? What do we do about that?”

“As I said, an optometrist will have to examine the eye…”

Shelia Woods interrupted the doctor, sounding more agitated then before, “You’re not listening, not the eye, his face! What do we do to correct his face?” she demanded.

“Well ma’am, we have treated his face, like I said, there shouldn’t be a risk of infection so long as you….”

She cut him off again, “Not the infection, his…. his appearance? What can we do for that?”

“Miss Woods, that’s hardly a concern at this point. Once he is healed and back on his feet, you can possibly explore plastic surgery to repair some of the damage, but honestly, right now, we can’t waste concern on how he looks. What is important is that your son is healthy. He can expect to be back home in a few days, maybe sooner.”

Jeff’s dad spoke again, “Okay, thank you doctor. Can we have some time alone please; my wife and I need to speak.”

“Certainly,” the doctor replied.

“Liu, why don’t you go down to the hospital cafeteria and get yourself a snack?” Matt Woods suggested.

“But I want to be here in case Jeff wakes up,” Liu replied.

“Liu, they told us that Jeff is heavily medicated. They don’t expect him to wake up anytime tonight. So, just go, and if he does come around, we’ll have you paged,” Matt replied.

Jeff heard the door open and close as Liu exited.

His parents both let out a long shaky sigh, but Jeff was starting to believe it was not a sigh of relief, but rather one of stress.

“We’re going to have to home school him now Matt, that’s just what it’s going to be, we’re going to have to keep him home!” he heard his mother rant, her voice sounding frantic.

“What? I mean, he probably won’t be able to start school right on time, but I doubt he’ll miss a whole year!” his father responded, trying to maintain a calmer voice.

“I’m not talking about that Matt, I’m not worried about him missing a week or two of school. I mean his face Matt, you heard what the doctor said, his face is going to be…. disfigured!” Shelia argued back.

“We don’t even know the full extent of the damage yet Shelia, it could be minor, it could possibly heal, and you heard what he said, plastic surgery could be an option in time.”

“In time? What kind of time? A year, two years, and what about in the meantime? People are going to see him and they’re going to talk, is that what you want? He’s going to be a…. a pariah! You think anyone is going to want to have him around their kids?”

Jeff was hearing all of this, just letting it soak in, slowly. As his mind absorbed the words, he felt that rage return. Sick, rich, dark, that syrup of raw, primal emotion. He wanted to scream at his mother, to tell her to shut up, that he was the one lying here, half his face burned, blind in one eye, all thanks to her forcing him to go over to Randy’s house. He wanted to ask her why she left, why she went off to go shopping or have her nails done or whatever it was that she did. He wanted to know why she’d leave him alone with a kid who just days before tried to jump him and his brother. He wanted to know how she could care more about his appearance than the fact that he was lying in the hospital.

However, there was still so much more that he wanted to know as well. He wanted to know how much more his mother hated him, how much more she saw him now as a, how did she put it, a pariah. He wanted to continue to swim in the thick pool of dark hatred that was starting to form from the rage and anger. That was a new one now. Before it was anger, then it was anger mixed with pleasure. But now, now it was anger mixed with hatred. And while he certainly longed to be free of it, while he most certainly preferred the false sense of love and concern he believed he’d heard from her before, he also wanted to test it out a bit more. He also began to wonder, how well would this new recipe blend with pleasure, how would it feel?

Matt Woods began to speak again, “I just can’t believe he shot himself in the face with a flare gun. I always thought Jeff was more responsible than that.”

“Don’t even get me started on that,” Shelia replied, “I couldn’t believe it when Randy and his friends explained to the medics and police how it all happened. Randy was just trying to show Jeff around his house, and wanted to show him the collection of magazines his dad kept in the garage. You know boys; he was probably hoping that a couple of Playboys would be in there or something. Then he said Jeff found the box containing the flare gun, and just wouldn’t stop playing around with it. You should have heard those other boys Matt, they told me that they practically begged Jeff to just put it down before he got hurt, but he just had to show off. I just don’t know where we went wrong Matt. I thought us moving out here to a nice quiet neighborhood would make everyone happy. Jeff though, he just, he just wants to fight us on everything.”

And while all that came together in Jeff’s mind, he continued to swim in that black ichor of hatred and rage. The morphine drip added a nice touch of euphoria, Jeff could almost see himself, plunging into the syrupy waters of hatred, and emerging changed. Each dip brought him so much twisted pleasure. And that was when he finally understood. He could sample the pleasure now. Not because he was enjoying what was happening, but because he knew he could enjoy what was to come.

Just as the doctor had predicted, Jeff was scheduled to go home a few days later. During his time at the hospital, he never asked to see his face. It wasn’t until the last day that he finally asked for a mirror. The nurse had come in to change his bandages, as was the routine. She was a pleasant woman, she spoke to him, asked him how he was doing. He enjoyed her visits. So, on the final day, when she arrived to clean and dress his face, he asked to see himself.

“Are you sure sweetheart? Would you like me to call in your parents first?” she asked.

“No thank you,” Jeff replied, “I think I want to see it for myself first, without them standing over me.”

“I understand,” she replied honestly, without a hint of pretension.

Once the bandages were off, she handed him a small hand mirror.

“Would you like me to step out of the room?” she asked.

Jeff ignored her and looked at himself, taking stock of the damage. Sure enough, his face was a mess. The entire left side at least. The flare struck him traveling upwards, and burned a scar into his left cheek that extended to his eye. At first glance, it almost looked like he was smiling on that side. The scar was still bright red, and burn tissue spread out on either side. Once it arrived at his eye, the news did not get any better. His eye was white, just a lifeless bulb plugged into his face. He closed his right eye, and found that he could see nothing from his left eye at all. The scar continued up the left side of his forehead. The damage was less severe there however. The hair on the left side of his head was burned off, leaving a few strands to stick up here and there.

“Sorry sweetie, but I have to put clean bandages on,” she told him.

Jeff smiled, “It’s okay, there will be plenty to time for me to admire myself later.”

There was no joy from his parents on the ride home, or upon arrival. They spoke very little, and there was a tension in the car that simply wouldn’t fade out. As for Liu, he was thrilled that his brother was okay, but he didn’t know what to say concerning the damage to his face. So, after asking a few questions about the accident and the recovery, he fell silent as well.

They walked into their home at dusk and Liu asked about dinner. He suggested they let Jeff pick a place, to celebrate his return home.

“Just go to sleep, both of you boys, go to sleep,” Shelia remarked. She and her husband both retreated to their bedrooms as well, to argue or feel sorry for themselves, who knew?

Jeff and Liu didn’t speak much that night. Jeff spent most of the evening staring at himself in the mirror. He kept pulling back the bandages and looking at the scars. Liu wanted to see them too, but felt that it might be imprudent to ask.

“I’m glad you’re home Jeff, I really missed you and I’m glad you’re okay,” Liu said to Jeff as he stared at himself.

“I’m not okay Liu, and neither are you. None of us are really. There is a sickness here. The only difference is, now my sickness shows on the outside as well,” Jeff replied, his voice as flat as that on an answering machine.

“What are you talking about?” Liu asked.

“One day, you’ll see it too. This is what happens though, this is what happens when it all falls down,” Jeff said, still peeking behind his bandages.

“Jeff, I don’t know what you’re trying to say,” Liu responded.

Jeff didn’t reply though, and after several moments, Liu left him alone. Liu went down to his parent’s bedroom and knocked on the door.

“What is it?” the voice of his mother asked.

“Mom, I think Jeff is acting weird, you may want to come talk to him.”

“Go away Liu, leave your mother alone,” his father’s voice answered. Liu, being young, had no other ideas, so he returned to his own bedroom. He didn’t know that those would be the last words he’d ever hear his parents speak to him.

That night, Shelia and Matt Woods awoke together, both being light sleepers, it took little to bring them out of slumber. The sudden removal of their blanket, as it was snatched from the bed, did the trick just fine. They awoke to see a small light coming from the half-bath that was situated in their master bedroom. The door was cracked only slightly, and the light source was weak. They could make out a human shape, standing over their bed though.

“What, what is going on?” Shelia grumbled.

As their vision came into focus, they realized their son was standing before them. Matt reached over and flipped on the lamp next to their bed. Jeff was standing there, his bandages off, his disfigured face beaming down on them, with a long kitchen knife clutched in his right hand.

“What are you doing son?” Matt asked, his mind still trying to shake out the cobwebs of sleep.

“He’s got a knife!” Shelia screamed, grabbing at her husband’s arm. Matt kept his composure though.

“Shelia, it’s probably the painkillers, he likely got up and got disoriented, relax for Christsake.”

Jeff tilted his head to one side, still not speaking. He stared hard at his father, slowly bringing the knife up, ensuring that he saw it well.

“Son, what are you doing?” Matt asked.

“Scaring you,” Jeff replied, with no emotion in his voice.

“Matt… do something!” Shelia pleaded.

“Okay son, I realize you’ve been through a lot, but you need to go back to bed. I’m going to call the doctor in the morning and….”

Jeff moved quickly across to his father’s side of the bed, his head moving about, alternating between a normal looking young man and the deformed ghoul that had been lurking in the shadows.

“Okay son, you’ve scared me, is that what you wanted?” Matt asked, adjusting to the middle of the bed to put distance between himself and his son.

“Good, now I can start hurting you,” Jeff spoke again, with no emotion.

His father had time to utter a single syllable, most likely to ask another question, to try and reason with his son. Jeff however, gave him time to do no more than that. He lunged onto the bed, driving the knife into his father’s stomach. Matt attempted to fend Jeff off, but the wound to his midsection rendered him into shock, and his arms fell to the side. Jeff could hear his mother screaming, but paid no mind. He wanted to finish with his father first.

Removing the knife, Jeff stabbed down into his stomach three more times, quickly. His father gasped and coughed up blood, his body jerked and twitched each time the knife found its mark. After the third time, Matt Woods lay still.

Shelia had backed up against the headboard of the bed. She wanted to climb down, make a run for it, but she’d balled herself up between the headboard and the end table. In her frantic state of terror and confusion, she couldn’t figure out how to do something as simple as dismount a bed.

“Jeff…. Why, why are you doing this to us?” she asked feebly.

“Randy started it, you must have known that, but you ignored it. Liu had a busted lip, you must have seen that, but you ignored it. I was shot in the face with a flare gun, but you believed Randy, why? So you could fit in?” Jeff asked in a low, almost growling voice.

“No baby, I believed you, it was, just, your father’s job…. And we’re new here, and…. Oh God Jeff please….” his mother begged.

“Tell me about home school mom? Tell me all about how you don’t want to send me out in public because of my face. Tell me how none of the other kids will want to be my friend, and how none of their parents will want to be yours. Tell me about that mom, tell me how nice it’s going to be, you home schooling me…..”

“Jeff please, I was just stressed, I was worried about you that’s all… please I…. I love you…”

“Mom, I think you should take your own advice, you know, what you told Liu when we got home tonight. He wanted to do something nice to welcome me home, and do you remember what you told us to do instead?” Jeff asked, as he now crawled over, cornering his mother on the bed.

“What did I say?” she asked, the question coming out barely a whisper.

“Go to sleep!” Jeff snarled, and drove the knife into his mother’s chest. He stabbed her over and over again, and as he did, he finally found that perfect recipe, that heavenly blend. That rage, hate and pleasure all mixed into one perfect formula, and for a while, Jeff became lost in it all.

Jeff opened his brother’s bedroom door, not surprised to find his brother asleep. He had dozed off with headphones in, so he slept through all the shouting. That was fine with Jeff. It was easier that Liu not have to hear all of that.

Jeff sat down on his brother’s bed and nudged him slightly. It took a moment, but Liu finally opened his eyes and looked up. Jeff removed his earphones for him.

“You’re free now Liu,” he spoke softly.

“Jeff, what… what are you talking about?” Liu mumbled, still half asleep.

“You’ll see in the morning. I just wanted to let you know I love you. You’ve been my best friend, remember that, okay?”

“Thanks, I… I love you too. Now, let me go back to sleep,” Liu replied, already dozing off again.

Jeff smiled and stood up. As he left the room, he looked back at his sleeping brother one last time, before he vanished into the night.

 

CREDIT: K. Banning Kellum

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The Noir Family

The Noir Family 

*TRIGGER WARNING* This story is NSFW. It contains strong violence, among other graphic depictions. If you are under the age of 18, or sensitive to such topics, refrain from proceeding any further.

 

DISCLAIMER: None of this information has been released to the public. What I’m about to share with you is highly confidential. My superiors at the bureau are trying their best to keep these killings a secret to avoid panic, but I can’t keep my mouth shut any longer. You all deserve to know the danger that lurks out there. You deserve to know that no one is safe from this family. They are deranged, twisted, psychopathic killers. The following is my recounting of an interview with one of the Noir family sons and the events that transpired thereafter.

He was sitting there, staring down at the table. His hands were cuffed, and a bit of blood dripped from a cut on his temple. His name; Lucas Noir. The oldest son of the family. Aggressive, schizophrenic, delusional, and very deadly. He was picked up outside of a friend’s house the night before, covered in blood. Thankfully, he surrendered peacefully.

I made my way into the interrogation room, stood there a minute to look him over, then took a seat in the chair opposite him. He didn’t look up. Instead, he gently placed his hands down on the table and began fidgeting with his thumbs. I dropped his file down on the table. It landed with a loud thump.

“Lucas Noir. Born April 17th, 1991. I’ve been reading about you all night.”

He raised his head a little, but not enough to meet my gaze.

“Age eight; you were admitted to a mental care facility after killing your cat. You claimed she was screaming at you, threatening to hurt you. You were released three months later.”

He remained motionless.

“Age sixteen; you were arrested for killing a high-class drug dealer, Markus Haze. You were found not guilty, claiming it was self-defense.”

He didn’t say a word.

“Lucas, why don’t you tell me what happened last night. Tell me what you did to the Walker family.”

After a moment, he took a slow, deep breath, exhaled, and finally spoke to me.

“I got to Shaun’s house last night at about eight. Him and I had been fighting over the last few days over a girl. I went over there with the intention of roughing him up a bit, but once I started, I couldn’t stop. I didn’t want to stop. Earlier in the day, before my father joined my mother at The Farm, he told me that I was a man, and that I should take care of the problem as men do.”

“What does that mean, Lucas?”

“My father always says, ‘If someone stands in the way of something you want, you simply slip a knife between their ribs, step over them, and continue onward.’ So that’s what I did, more or less. When Shaun’s parents left to do some shopping, I smashed a vase over his head, dragged him into the downstairs garage, and killed him.”

“Tell me how-”

“You know how!” Lucas shouted back, slamming his fists on the cold, metal table.

“I need to hear you say it.”

Lucas took another deep breath, then continued.

“There was an old snowmobile in his basement. After dragging him downstairs, I laid him on the floor, grabbed a nearby jack, raised it up, slid him under, and lowered it onto his head. The weight of the vehicle crushed his skull, but I was still filled with rage. The key was in the ignition, so I hopped on, started it, and cranked the throttle. As the treads spewed his blood across the wall behind me, I finally felt good. I felt that my father would be proud of me…”

I took a moment before saying anything to him. I had seen the crime scene, but the way his eyes lit up while talking about it was gut wrenching. He seemed so proud of this horrible thing he had done. It was as if he had hit a homerun at a baseball game and was proudly telling everyone of his achievement.

“What happened next, Lucas?”

“His parents came home.”

Lucas looked to the one-way mirror behind me, then back to me. A smile stretched across his face.

“I knew that they would find Reed dead in the basement, call the police, and that I’d never see my family again. So I killed them too.”

“How did you do it?”

“I walked up to the top of the stairs, holding onto the door handle tight. I heard Shaun’s father call for him. Then, the sound of him running upstairs. I heard his mother move to the base of the staircase and call to him. ‘Jim, maybe he’s downstairs. Want me to check?’ Shaun’s father came back down and said, ‘No, I’ll grab him. You can start dinner.’ I heard his mother walk into the kitchen. Shaun’s father came towards the basement door. When he tried to open it, I held on tight, trying to make him believe it was locked.”

He stopped talking. His gaze drifted down to the table, a smile still on his face. I think he was savoring the memory of the kill.

“Go on, Lucas.”

“I swung the door open,” he continued. “Smacking him in the face with it. I ran past him and into the kitchen, shoved Shaun’s mother to the ground, grabbed a large knife from one of the drawers, and went back to Mr. Walker. He was leaning against the wall next to the door, his nose bleeding. He looked up to me, horrified. ‘Lucas? What are you doing? Where’s Shaun?’ I didn’t answer him. Instead, I started stabbing him in the chest. Mrs. Walker ran in, grabbed me, desperately trying pull me away from her husband. I turned and slashed at her, catching her on the arm. She fell back and I continued to drive the knife into Mr. Walker, repeatedly. I didn’t much care for how he was looking at me at this point, so I dug the knife into his eyes as well.”

“What did you do to Mrs. Walker?”

“I stood up and turned to her. She backed up towards the wall behind her. She was screaming. It was so loud. I wanted her to stop, but not before making her suffer for trying to interrupt my kill. I drove the blade down through her leg. She screamed again. I began beating her, then stabbing her. Like Mr. Walker, I gouged out her eyes too, a matching set-”

I slammed my fists onto the table, stood up, and yelled.

“Tell me what you did next, Lucas! I want you to say it! To remind yourself of what you then decided to do to that poor woman!”

He was silent for a moment. He looked up to me, still smiling. Still so proud of what he had done to the Walkers. Happy that his sick, twisted father would be proud of what he accomplished.

“What did you do to her?” I asked in a calmer voice, looking into his eyes as intensely as I could.

“I defiled her.”

“Why?” I demanded.

“Mother said to always leave the women happy in the end.”

“You did all of this over some girl? A girl you will now never see again. You are going to spend the rest of your life locked up, underground, and alone. Your family won’t be able to get you out. Your lawyers won’t be able to get you out. What you did was too severe. You know that, right?”

“I don’t care.”

“You don’t care? You’re a dead man walking.”

“So? At least I had fun.”

He laughed. I turned away, no longer able to look at the sick and twisted, barely adult man that sat across from me. I heard a knock on the glass, looked up and nodded that I understood. Taking my seat again, Lucas looked me in the eye and gave me an insulting wink.

“Where is The Farm, Lucas?”

“Upstate in the forest. I’ll lead you to them if you want. Not because I want them caught, but because I know they won’t be. They’ll kill you and every agent you bring. My father is going to enjoy hanging your delimbed bodies from the trees. And don’t worry, my mother will treat you all very well.”

“You’re sick, you know that? We’re going to lock your whole family up, just you wait and see!”

“Even if you do manage to lock us all up, agent Monroe, you’ll never find your wife’s body. All your effort to catch us will be in vain. I’ll let you in on a secret, though. My whole family took turns on her and my father took a little souvenir.”

He let out another laugh, then looked at me with that twisted smile of his.

“Her head.”

I stood up abruptly, looking down at Lucas. I felt tears begin to form and roll down my cheeks. I turned to the one-way mirror, back to Lucas, and exited the room. Waiting for me in the hallway was my partner, agent Lasko. I pulled out my phone and called my wife. It went right to voicemail. I called again; still no answer. I wiped my face with my sleeve and Lasko placed a reassuring hand on my shoulder.

“We’re sending a team to your house now, just to be sure. If something’s happened, we’ll find her.”

“Thank you, Lasko.”

Lasko removed his hand from my shoulder. I followed him down the hall into one of the many open offices. I sat down at a table in the center of the room. Lasko went over to the coffee machine and filled a cup. He came over and placed it in front of me and then sat down in the chair on the other side of the table.

“The most important thing you can do right now is keep your head clear. I’ll follow your lead no matter how you want to do this, but don’t let your emotions drive your actions. What’s the play here, Monroe?”

I sat quietly for a moment, my hands wrapped around the mug, thoughts racing through my mind. Did they take her? Did they hurt her? Is it possible he just made it up? I closed my eyes and took a deep, calming breath. Lasko’s right. I gotta play it smart. If she’s in danger, I have to be careful.

“What do we have so far?”

“Well,” Lasko began. “We have the oldest son. He knows the location of The Farm. According to him, the whole family’s there. If your wife is missing, Director Vice is going to have you removed from the investigation. Whatever your plan is, we have to act now.”

I took another moment to think. There wasn’t enough time to plan a fleshed-out attack or even a backup plan if something were to go wrong. All there was time for was orders. Quick and concise. I looked up at Lasko.

“We’re gonna take Lucas into our custody. Gather a team of agents. Two cars worth. We’ll keep our coms on a closed circuit. By the time we hit the road, the team sent to my house will know whether or not she was taken. If she’s fine, we’ll let Director Vice know what we’re doing. We’ll be in some shit, but it should go relatively okay. If she’s gone, however, Vice will call and pull me off the case. He’ll have no choice but to send backup. He’s not gonna be able to pull me in the middle of an active pursuit.”

Lasko looked down at the table, let out a loud sigh, and looked back up at me.

“We’re going pretty far off the reservation with this one, Manroe.”

“Whatever we have to do to stop these psychopaths.”

Lasko went off to gather agents for our assault on The Farm. I retrieved Lucas from the investigation room and brought him down to the parking garage, placing him, cuffed, into the back seat. Lasko hopped into the passenger’s side a few minutes later. Once the other cars pulled up, we rolled out onto the street and headed for The Farm.

A little over an hour into the drive, I got the well expected call from Director Vice. My wife had been taken. I was ordered back to H.Q. As he said this, another agent’s voice could be heard in the background.

“He’s taken Lucas Noir and almost a dozen of our agents, sir. They’re heading to The Farm.”

Vice began screaming at me to turn around, but I hung up on him. Lasko looked at me, worryingly.

“You know Monroe, this better work. I got a pension I’d very much like to see one day.”

Another hour passed by.

“Pull in here. The dirt road on your left,” instructed Lucas from the back seat.

Slowly, we pulled off the main road and onto a dirt path in the woods. Another few minutes of driving, and we arrived at a large, black metal gate.

“We walk from here.” Lucas said. I turned around to see him smiling.

“I hope father put up the decorations.”

Next to the large gate blocking the road was a smaller gate that was ajar. One by one we went through. As we walked down the dirt road, a loud bang sounded off in the distance ahead of us. The agents drew their sidearms, and Lasko gripped the chains of the cuffs behind Lucas’ back. We had no idea what to expect. This family had committed unspeakable atrocities. Even knowing this, we were not ready.

Off in the distance, I saw another gate, wide open across the road. Hanging from the trees on either side were delimbed corpses. All of us but Lucas let out disgusted groans. One still had blood spilling from its wounds. They were stripped nude, heads shaved, and eyes gouged out. Strange symbols were etched into their stomachs. One was of a crescent moon. Another one depicted a ram’s head.

As we made our way through the second gate, the other agents carefully looking over the hanging corpses, Lucas let out a twisted laugh.

“I love when father decorates. His art is so beautiful!” Lucas spoke softly, mesmerized by the sight of the dangling bodies.

A little further up the road, a young girl sat in the dirt, crying with her back to us. She wore a dark red dress that was ripped up and muddy. She couldn’t have been more than thirteen or fourteen years old. I noticed that she had only one shoe. I motioned to the agents behind me to ready themselves in case anything was to happen. Slowly, I approached her.

“Are you okay?” I asked in as gentle a tone as possible.

She continued to cry. When I was close enough, I knelt beside her.

“What happened? How did a little girl like you end up all the way out here?”

She stopped crying. She turned her head, her eyes locking with mine. A smile, similar to Lucas’ stretched across her face. I stood up and backed away, cautiously drawing my firearm from its holster, readying myself. Once I saw her face, I recognized her immediately. Her name was Jessica Noir; the middle child of the family.

As she stood, revealing large knives in each hand, I motioned to the agents behind me to stand their ground. She began making her way towards me. I continued to back up. One of the agents came up beside me, asking what our next course of action should be. I wanted to take her alive. Avoid harming her as best we could.

Without warning, she rushed forward. Not at me, but at the agent to my left. He raised his gun to shoot, but her blades quickly found a home in either side of his neck. As he fell, his gun went off. The bullet dug into the ground, kicking up a mist of dirt. I tried to grab her, but she slashed at me, tearing open my shirt. Thankfully, I was wearing a Kevlar vest underneath my clothing, so the blade missed my skin. One of the other agents took a shot, grazing her leg. She winced in pain and quickly scuttled backwards across the road. A member of our group ran up and dragged the downed agent behind the others. We waited to see what she would do next.

She stood there, putting her weight almost entirely on her good leg, staring at us. She dropped her blades, fell to her knees, and let out an ear-splitting scream. Further up the road, we could hear what sounded like a large vehicle starting up. The small girl pulled out a device the size of her hand from a pocket in her dress. She clicked a button. Metal pikes, closely placed next to one another, shot up out of the dirt along the sides of the road. Any plan to escape into the woods was now gone. We turned to run for the gate behind us, but it had closed. One of the men ran to it, desperately trying to pull it open, but it was locked tight. We turned back to see something barreling down the road towards us, kicking up dust as it raced. It was a small school bus, painted black and red. Mounted on the front was a snow plow and protruding from its sides were long poles placed at varying heights, nearly touching the pikes on either side of the road. Each pole was wrapped in barbed wire.

As it flew towards us, we tried to shoot out the tires. All of our shots hit the dirt or the plow. Jessica smiled at us, stood up, walked into the middle of the road, closed her eyes, and lifted her head up to the sky. Still smiling, she reached her arms out, and spoke. The noise of the bus made it too difficult to hear, but I was able to make out what she said by reading her lips.

“I am today’s sacrifice. May the foes of my family meet a fate worse than mine.”

When the plow on the bus collided with Jessica Noir, she didn’t even let out a scream. The top of the plow dug into the back of her head, and her body fell under the speeding, modified bus. The blood-soaked vehicle was then headed our way. Lasko grabbed Lucas and together we ran to one side of the road and dropped to the ground. The barbed wire just barely scraped our backs. I looked back to see only two other agents follow our lead. The others were either hit by the bus directly, or mutilated and beaten down by the bus’s weaponized shafts.

The bus then collided with the gate, bringing it to an immediate halt. I looked back up the path to see Jessica’s flattened corpse, resting in a pool of blood. Cautiously, Lasko, Lucas, and I stood up. I made my way for the bus. I threw open the doors, gun pointed at the driver, ready to unload my clip. The driver, who was the youngest sibling of the family, John, was dead, his head laying on the steering wheel.

“Fuck, Monroe. Just like that, almost all our men are gone!” Lasko yelled at me, once again holding onto the chains of Lucas’ cuffs.

“I know. But there’s no stopping now. It’s just Mr. and Mrs. Noir left. We have to push forward.”

“Monroe. Even if we do come out on top of all this shit, we’re fucked! We got eight of our fellow agents killed!”

“I know that!” I screamed in Lasko’s face.

I lowered my gun, placed it back in its holster, and continued further up the road.

“You coming or not, Lasko?”

“I’m coming. C’mon kid. No way in hell we’re leaving you behind.”

“Good. I wanna watch my father rip your hearts out and eat them!” Lucas laughed, sinisterly.

As Lasko, Lucas, the two remaining agents, and I made our way further up the path, a large wood cabin became visible through the trees. Getting closer, we noticed someone standing out front. It was a woman. Mrs. Noir, by the looks of it. She wore a bright yellow dress with white flowers, a blossom-patterned red scarf tossed around her neck. In one hand she held a pocket watch. In the other, she held a scythe.

She started making her way towards us, her dress swaying side to side as she stepped closer. Lasko stopped walking, still holding on to Lucas. He pulled out his pistol and put it to Lucas’ temple. The two agents behind me unholstered there weapons and aimed them at Mrs. Noir. She stopped, looked at the weapon in her hand, running her fingers over the curved top of the blade.

“We’ve been expecting you, agent Monroe. Lucas; thank you for bringing our guests to us. I’ve been working alone in the yard all day. The company is a pleasing sight!”

“Fuck you, you psychopath! Where’s my wife?!” I yelled at her, keeping my gun steady, pointed at her head.

“Tell us now, or I’ll blow your son’s head off!” Lasko shouted, clearly frazzled by everything that had happened. He dug the muzzle of the gun deeper into Lucas’ temple. He scrunched his face up, clearly pained by the barrel.

Mrs. Noir smiled, looked each one of us in the eyes, then ducked down. Behind her, closer to the front door of the cabin, stood Mr. Noir. His hands wrapped around two large handles that were connected to a minigun set up on a tripod.

“What the fu-” One of the agents behind me shouted as bullets began flying through the air.

I dropped onto my stomach. Lasko shoved Lucas into the line of fire. He twirled around as bullets soared through his flesh. As he fell to the ground, a mist of blood spewed from his wounds. Lasko dropped to the ground just as the stream of bullets passed over him. I turned my head in the dirt to see the last two agents of our group motionless on the ground, laying in their own blood. Lucas landed nearby, droplets of red dripping from his twisted smile.

When the bullets ceased, Mr. and Mrs. Noir laughed. I looked up to the two of them hugging one another on the top step of the porch. Lasko and I remained still on the ground as Mr. and Mrs. Noir walked over to Lucas’ body. Mrs. Noir, holding the scythe in one hand, bent down and dug her index finger into one of the many bullet wounds in her son. She stood up, smiled at Mr. Noir, and smeared the blood across her face, laughing all the while.

I jumped to my feet and broke the silence.

“What the fuck is wrong with the two of you? Do you even realize what you’re doing? All your kids are dead! And now you’re painting your face with his blood? None of this fits the profile!”

“We don’t expect you to understand, little man.” Mrs. Noir said with a condescending tone.

Mr. Noir held his wife’s chin and turned her face towards his. He then offered us an explanation of sorts.

“We have seen the universe.” He began. “Many years ago, we were given a chance. A chance to see everything that has been, is, and will be. As a family, we took the universe’s outstretched hand and experienced infinity together. To you, it’s insanity. To us, it’s pure bliss. When you’ve looked into the eyes of oblivion and felt its cold stare on you, you come to realize that your existence is meaningless. So why not have fun with it?”

I tightened my grip on my gun, then pointed it at Mrs. Noir as the two stood there, looking deeply into one another’s eyes. Without hesitation, I squeezed the trigger. The bullet tore through the side of her head. As she fell to the ground, Mr. Noir didn’t move an inch. He remained motionless, staring happily in front of him where his wife once stood.

A moment passed, then he turned to me.

“Agent Monroe. Do you think you’ve hurt me? Like I said, life is entirely meaningless. Well, for us it was, I suppose. But you…”

In the blink of an eye, Mr. Noir pulled out a pistol from a holster hidden in his coat and then shot Lasko in the knee. He fell to the ground screaming, clutching the wound in agony. I moved over to him but was stopped by a second shot in the dirt by my feet.

“Normal people are so predictable. If someone you care about is hurt or in trouble, you jump into danger without a second thought on the matter. What does it matter if your fellow agent here gets shot, bleeds out, and dies? What does it matter if your wife was kidnapped, tortured, and murdered in a way you deem gruesome and inhumane?”

“What did you do to my wife?!”

“I’ll show you. Come with me. Your friend will be fine. Don’t worry about him.”

He turned and headed for the front door of the cabin. I looked to Lasko. He nodded at me, reassuring me he’d be fine. I then reluctantly followed Mr. Noir past the minigun and into the house.

The inside of the building was entirely empty. No furniture, pictures on the wall, wallpaper, or anything of the sort. Nothing but some wooden planks and a black marker laying in the center of the room.

I followed Mr. Noir down a set of stairs near the back of the house. Candles illuminated the staircase, leading us to a big open room at the bottom. Against the wall opposite the base of the stairs was a woman; strung up by chains, a bag over her head, and cuts traveling down the length of her body.

Danielle?

Mr. Noir made his way over to her and ripped the bag from her head.

It Is Danielle!

“Danielle!” I shouted, rushing towards her. Mr. Noir quickly raised his gun to my head.

“You don’t get to touch her. That’s the deal.”

“Fine. whatever you say, just please don’t hurt her anymore.”

“Hurt her? Ha! It’s not me who hurts her.”

“What?”

“Keith? Is that you?”

“Yes. Yes honey, it’s me!”

“How could you, Keith? How could you let them take me? I’m in so much pain. You were supposed to protect me.”

“I know, sweetie.” Tears made their way down my face. “I know.”

“Kneel.” Mr. Noir ordered in a firm voice.

I did as he demanded. My wife looked at me, beginning to cry. I looked at her. Then, Mr. Noir shot twice. One bullet dug through my left knee, the other grazing the side of my face. I fell backwards onto the cold concrete floor. My vision became hazy for a moment. Mr. Noir stood over me, leaning down into my face.

“This is how it ends, agent Monroe. You will lose everything. Your job, your freedom, and your wife.”

He turned and shot at Daniel. Her body went limp as blood began seeping out of her wounds. I screamed. Mr. Noir pinned my head to the floor using the barrel of his gun.

“This is the punishment I give to you, Monroe. Your wife is dead. You got all those other agents killed. You got your partner shot. Now, you must live with the burden. The guilt will boil inside of you for the rest of your life until you inevitably blow your own fucking brains out. The worst part? I’ll still be free. I’ll make my way out into the world, killing more people as I go, and you’ll live knowing it’s your fault because you couldn’t stop me.”

He walked by me, kicking my gun aside as I writhed in pain, stopping at the base of the stairs to look at me one last time before making his escape.

“You know, agent Monroe, I really did like that wife and kids of mine. They were my pride and joy; my favorite family to date. Now I have to go out and find a new one.”

He cackled and then winked at me.

“Perhaps you and I will meet again one day.”

 

CREDIT: R.L. Rogers

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The Ice Cream Man

Ice Cream ManLittle Johnny got a fudge pop laced with razors.

Susan got an orange pop filled with hydrochloric acid.

Billy got Dip N’ Dots dipped in fire ant poison.

97 more to go.

A new park everyday; new deaths every night.

He was careful, always making false leads, always covering his tracks. He was clever, he was quick. He always made sure the poisons varied, so there was never a link to the ice cream. The hydrochloric acid took two days to kick in and the fire ant poison started as flu like symptoms. The razors, well, he just threw those in as a nod to the old classic poison scheme. He liked keeping them close, but not too close.

Anti-freeze lemon pops; those took a while to perfect, but in the end, he got it right. The chocolate bon-bons that turned them into cement from the inside out he had bought from a fellow down off Bourbon Street. They had cost a heavy penny, but it was worth it, as it took his count down to 80.

In Ashland, Oregon, he mixed a variety of snow cone flavors with sap from the Chobani Tree, causing them to dissolve into mulch the minute their little fingers touched warm water. This brought him down to 50. Picturing the mothers scream as their children dissolved before their eyes at bath time made his stomach clench, but he couldn’t stop. Not with 50 left to go.

Klondike bars injected with South Sea Coneshell venom were next. That one was good; it took almost two weeks for the poison to be absorbed, and by that time, it was too late. The newspapers of Bodi, California called it the most deadly virus of the year; he called it numbers 39-49.

A tar like substance called Godtish that he bought from a wicked looking gypsy filled in the two weeks that it took the venom to work. That went into the Spongebob Squarepants pineapple pops. It shrunk them so little, not even the most powerful microscope on earth could see them. Godtish brought him down to 20.

Jakku seeds went into the sprinkles. Almost every one of the children in the small town of Arnold, California asked for sprinkles. Never before had Arnold seen such a string of mass child suicides. But it was only a tragedy to them, as his count went down to nine.

He was in the home stretch now, so he picked his victims carefully. The twins from Lakeshore got two cones of arsenic. The lonely boy in East Palo Alto got a frozen black widow in his grape popsicle. Baby Gretchen got the last of the Chobani sap.

Five more to go.

He was parked outside Stafford Park. He watched carefully as children ran in and out of the water sprinklers. Then he turned on his music. They came to him like flies to honey. Parents smiled appreciatively as they handed him their money, oblivious to whom they were actually smiling at.

The girl in the pink swimsuit got a chocolate ice cream with Jakku sprinkles.

A boy named Nancy bought a Mickey Mouse Pop with rattlesnake venom.

A brother bought him and his sister matching Spongebob pops.

Anticipating the arrival of the last of his victims, a familiar face caught the man off guard.

“Daddy?”

The man smiled sadly, and then handed the boy his ice cream.

1 more to go.

 

CREDIT: Kathleen Stahler

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