Tag Archives: horror

You’d Better Learn

 

“You’d Better Learn”

by Thadd Presley

 

“This isn’t how it has to be,” John told the man who held the bolt cutters. “I’m tryin’ my best t’ hold everythin’ together.” He looked toward his wife. “And just look!!” Sobbing, he slowly lifted his hand and pointed. “Look at what I come home to.”

Blood was dripping from his hand and running in streams down his forearm. When he focused on the blood, he felt a wave of dizziness flow from his head to his mid-section. “She’s here sucking up the profits while I’m out working.”

“So, that’s where your money’s goin’. Big Daddy wanted me to find out what’s going on with you.”
The black man, held the mouth of the bolt cutters out, waiting for another finger. John’s ring finger was next in line. He focused his attention on the woman huddled in the corner crying. “That true? You stealin’ Big Daddy’s dope?” He patiently waited for a response. “Hey, you hear me. Look here! You smokin’ up your man’s money and making him late on his payments?”

She started to say something, but her voice failed.

“Tell me somethin’, John, seriously,” the the black man asked, “what you gonna do? You want me to take another of your fingers or do I take one of hers? Big Daddy wants two fingers.”

“Just tell him to give me more time. I’ll have his money.”

“I’m telling you. Time’s up. He’s using you to send a message to everyone else. He wants you to know that he’s finished with you.”

These words meant more to John than losing his pinky finger. He couldn’t survive without Big Daddy’s help. “Come on, man. Just take the other finger, but don’t cut me off.”

When the executioner cut the ring finger from the hand, the bone popped loudly as it broke. John screamed and his wife joined him. Lying on the blood covered ground was John’s two fingers. The newest one twitched, as if trying to crawl away. John’s wedding ring was still on the finger.

“My job’s done here, John. Be sure to have the money by Friday. I don’t want to…”

John looked up quickly, his voice barely a squeak. “You mean, I still have to pay?”

The black man sighed. “Don’t tell me you haven’t learned your lesson. You owe Big Daddy. Now, don’t you think it’s in your best interest to pay him?”

“But my fingers? God!”

“God?” The black man asked.

John lowered his head.

“I’ll not have you takin’ my Lord’s name in vain.”

“But, I really have to pay Big Daddy all the money?”

“If you don’t, I’ll have to shoot your wife in the face.” He looked over at her. “She’s the problem anyway, right?”

John stared at the floor, not wanting to look at his fingers. But, for some reason he couldn’t take his eyes off of them. Is this really happening, he thought.

“Am I really…”

The executioner slapped John in the face. “Yes, you really are. Now, wake up.”

John didn’t know what the man had said, but he answered, “Yeah, right.” A shutter went through his body. “You’re right.”

“Now, get him to a hospital.” He told the wife.

“What do I say to them?” John whispered.

“Tell them you got your fingers cut off because you owe for drugs.”

“Really?” John was light headed. The world was growing black around the edges.

“Woman!” The the executioner said, standing up. “Get your man to the hospital.”

She looked up, eyes yellow and dull. “What do I tell them?”

“Tell them you brought him to the hospital because if you didn’t a big black man said he was going to kill you.”

Her eyes flickered, showing the smallest recognition of life. “Really?” She asked.

“Yeah, really.”

Slowly she stood up and started toward her husband. He wasn’t looking at the ground anymore. He was limp. His head flopped back, eyes glaring at the ceiling. “Do you think he’s dead?”

“He will be very soon.”

Grief came over her, but then the executioner also saw relief. “I’m going to miss him so much,” she said. “He was my high school love.”

The moment was lost when the executioner spoke. “Big Daddy wants his money. He doesn’t care who pays it. Don’t let your husband’s sacrifice be for nothing. I’ll be back on Friday.”

“What! Wait! I can’t—”

“You’ve almost a week. You can.”

“I’ll don’t know how to come up with twenty thousand—”

“Well, you’d better learn.”

She sat in silence as the big man walked out of the small apartment.

Jack’s Apartment (part 5)

Jack’s Apartment

(part 5)

by Thadd Presley

Jack came to, lying on the floor inside the dusty room. His face was inches from wool socks that bunched around the brittle bones of the girl’s feet. He felt very sad for her because she gave her life for an experiment. He wanted to reach out and feel her socks, but knowing they would crumble under his touch, he didn’t have the heart to destroy them. She had been through so much.

He realized then what he was meant to do. He could bring her back. Somehow. Wasn’t that what the man had done; brought his daughter back? Why else would he have gotten to see all he had, if not to help? He realized then that he could see Caroline. He could bring her back.

Then, he found himself engulfed with the knowledge he needed. Something had stuck out to him from the visions he’d seen. He looked around to find what he couldn’t remember. He saw it then and wondered why he hadn’t paid it more attention. It was the old, handwritten book. It had all the information and direction he needed to bring Caroline back. The book held ancient secrets unknown to man, pages upon pages telling of other worlds and gates that lead to them: gates to the dead and how they could be opened.

The book was priceless and held powers that no man alive remembered. He wanted the book. He had to know its secrets if he was to bring Caroline back; to right his wrong, he had to learn the secrets.

His hands trembled at the thought of holding the book. There were other papers on the desk that held the key to unlocking secrets of a forgotten time.

Written in a strange, unearthly language, the pages called to him. He saw drawings that depicted those who walked between worlds and the kingdoms in those worlds, which were described in all their glory and detail. The book told how the civilizations of this world and others fell to endless battles… battles that brought evil into the worlds of men. Yes, worlds!

He lifted a loose page from the desk and blew dust into the air. One look at the words and he knew it told of a last battle where man’s fate would be decided. But, once he got it close enough to read, he found it illegible. Frustrated, he picked up another page… nothing. Not even the drawings made sense to him now.

It was the same with the book. He didn’t understand a single word. But, he blew the dust off and looked at it anyway. There was no doubt about the knowledge the book held and the secrets its pages described. Jack’s need to know pushed him onward. He was sure he could learn how to read the book. It was necessary if he was to bring Caroline back. He had to free her. No, he had to free both of them.

They needed him: both the girl and Caroline.

It wasn’t hard to approach the dusty, disintegrating skeleton of the little girl now that Caroline’s life was at stake. He felt like he knew her and she him. He took a deep breath and brought the hammer down on the ring that held her chains. It took two blows before the old, rusted iron broke. He realized then that a chain was also attached to the body under the bed.

A moment later, less time than he could calculate, he was aware of the cold again. It was entering him, blowing into his face, seeping into him, making him weak. Far away he heard the phone ring. But that wasn’t important; there was more work to be done.

We need you, Jack.

He looked at the skeleton girl who was now crumpled on the floor. He started to reach down and pull her bones up, but it wasn’t important…

Read the book, Jack

He suddenly realized he’d done something wrong. An overwhelming emotion of fear fell upon him.

He wanted his Bible. He needed the comfort and protection of his new found faith.

“Jack,” a weak voice wheezed behind him, spinning him away from the skeleton and back to reality.

“Adam, good lord, lay still,” he said, walking toward his friend.

Adam was struggling to get up. “It’s a demon, Jack.” Adam took a deep, rattling breath. “I saw him in my dream. It made him kill his wife and child.” The quilt was filled with blood and Adam had his hand at his cracked skull.

“Dear God,” Jack cried, rushing to Adam’s side and pulling his belt off. “Keep your hands away from your head.” He bound the man’s hands, taking care not to fight with him. “It’s for your own good. You don’t want to dig your brains out, do you?” It was like dealing with a child, a strong child.

During the last year he had volunteered at the hospital and learned that head injuries were often made worse by people poking their dirty fingers into their brain and not knowing it. This was exactly the case with Adam. Jack saw that he had indeed been digging into his skull. Now the bone-white skull was covered with bits of grey, unwittingly pulled out by Adam’s probing fingers.

“Lord, be with us,” Jack prayed.

“It itches, Jack. Give me that screwdriver. I have to scratch it.”

The phone rang.

“Lydia,” Jack screamed into the phone. “Are you on the way?” He listened. “I’m afraid your husband is worse,” he explained to her. “He had a heart attack or something. He collapsed and hurt himself badly.” He listened. “Yes, I called them,” he lied and hung up.

Now he had to call them. He had no choice. If he didn’t it would look very bad.

With a shaking hand and an ever-more unpredictable finger, he pushed at the buttons on the phone.

“Nine-One-One. What is your emergency?” A woman was on the line before the first ring ended.

“I need an ambulance at the Wartzburg Building downtown. My friend has fallen. He has a head injury.” Jack heard her typing. “I’m afraid…he’s…I had to bind his hands with my belt. He’s quite delirious…”

The phone beeped in his ear and a woman’s voice, obviously automated, began to explain about staying on the line until the paramedics got to him. “Damn,” Jack said and hung up.

Adam was still fighting Jack’s every move and was now trying to stand up. Jack held Adam down and tie the his ankles with an extension cord.

What am I doing? he thought. “I’m so sorry, Adam, please forgive me.”

Jack. The voice called to him. It was a man. You can save her.

Don’t listen, Jack,” Adam croaked. “It’s lies.”

You can bring her back. She is your responsibility.

Jack picked up the screwdriver and knew what to do. He could bring Caroline back by sacrificing a life for a life. With a moan he pushed the tip of the screwdriver into his friend’s stomach. The screwdriver did not go easily. He had to use his other hand to hold the skin taunt. Finally, it broke through with a pop.
Adam shook his head and tried to fight, but he didn’t have the strength. “Don’t, Jack,” he said, twisting his body away. The cold steel was deep inside him. “Caroline’s gone. This won’t bring her back.” But, as he said it, he saw that Jack’s eyes were far away.

Jack pulled the screwdriver out and pushed two fingers into Adam’s stomach, just like he saw the man do in his vision. Adam’s insides were much warmer than Jack imagined.

Adam felt a tug and then pain erupted in his head and shot lightening fast through his body, filling his vision with red. He managed to look down at his body and screamed when he saw what Jack was doing.
Slowly, Jack was pulling Adam’s intestines out, loop by loop. They were gray with bits of clotted blood on them.

Black and green filled them in places.

When Jack started chanting, Adam was surprised at the low, guttural voice that he heard coming from his friend. Adam realized what was happening and the idea of death scared him.

Jack had given total control to the demon in the hopes of getting Caroline back.

“Jack, stop. It isn’t too late.”

Jack felt the love he had for Adam escalate. He bent down and kissed Adams cheek. “Thank you for everything,” he told Adam, then started chanting over again.

“Shut up, you fucking idiot! Can’t you see what you’re doing? Caroline is dead. She will not come back…” Adam groaned and his voice faded, unable to continue because of the pain.

Jack stopped for a moment. He was going to say something, but Adam didn’t give him a chance.

“Something is doing this to you, Jack. We have to get out of here.”

“They do not want to hear your drivel,” Jack said. It was the other voice again talking through him.
“They have been left alone for too long, waiting to be freed. Now, have a bit of fucking respect.” He jabbed the screwdriver into Adam’s arm. “And let me concentrate.”

There was already more pain than Adam thought possible. The pain in his stomach was terrible, so terrible, he didn’t even feel the screwdriver in his bicep. He knew that he was going to die, and there was nothing he could do about it. Soon, he would go into shock.     “Listen to me, Jack. Caroline is gone.”

Jack’s Apartment (part 4)

Jack’s Apartment

(part 4)

by Thadd Presley

Jack’s mind screamed for him to leave, to run away — this was an evil place –and never return, but he couldn’t look away. The red shock of hair, which hung from the skull in clumps, was too hideous to be anything but real.

“My God, Adam, is that a little girl?” Jack’s voice was only a whisper. “I mean, she can’t be real?”

“No, she can’t be.” He took a small breath, and silence filled the apartment while both men stood silently looking at the skeleton. “But, she is.”

Adam was praying, but also trying not to comprehend that things like this happened all over the world. He didn’t want to know the evils that men wrought.

Jack stood beside him looking at the shackled child in disbelief. His mind halted at the implications, but he was once an evil man himself and knew too well the terrible things the minds of men brought into existence. Men kill innocent people every day. I am a murder myself, he thought.

As Adam prayed, trying to forget the image before him, Jack saw more and more of the room’s contents: a long, black stain ran down the wall behind the skeleton and another black stain was under the small writing desk. The wooden chair, was covered in the same blackness stain, broken to pieces under the desk.

The girl’s screams came to Jack, suddenly. He could hear a woman crying behind the screams. He could see what happened in that room. He was forced to watch.

The black stain, which covered a large portion of the wall, was blood that had dripped from the girl’s shackled wrists. Just a flash of the terrible events showed him enough for an eternity: the girl hanging in the shackles, crying softly, pulling at her own wrists. He saw the blood breaking through the skin, running down her white arms. Her wild eyes darting around, watching, her fear of being trapped… of being unable to escape before she was to die.

The bruises running up her arm had been put there by the woman who now wept for the little girl. The woman was much older than his friend Adam. She had beat the girl earlier with a broomstick and burned her with a hot poker, first sticking the poker to the girl’s legs, which began to blister immediately. Then the broomstick was used on rest of her. The girl screamed and cried as she was beat.

The words flashed in his mind. Help Me!

He knew the little girl’s fate better than he knew his own father’s face. Someone had tortured this girl, long and hard, until the girl found it necessary to saw her wrists on the very shackles that imprisoned her. He closed his eyes to the pain she felt. He didn’t want to see anymore. But, the pain and loneliness of the girl pushed in on his mind.

She was beaten severely before being put into the shackles and hung on the wall to starve to death and hang for eternity, but she ended the misery of hunger by finishing the job herself.

As he pushed the scene out of his head, his eyes fell upon an open book on the desk. From what he could see, it was hand written and in a terrible state of decay. The book interested Jack very much. He had to have to look.

“Do you think anyone knows,” Jack asked, starting into the room.

“No, please. Don’t go in there.” Adam backed away from the room.

“Don’t leave me,” Jack pleaded and grabbed the old man’s wrist. “I think there’s…I see –”

“We have to call the police, somebody.”

“But, there’s something else? If I can just get closer –”

“Jack, please don’t.”

“I have to. You don’t understand. They called me. It was this girl that called out to me. I know it sounds crazy, but it was her. She knew my name.”

Fear filled Adam. He didn’t believe in ghosts, and he certainly didn’t want to hang around while was happening. To even know this had happened ,long ago was to much to face. To know that there was someone in the world that did this sort of thing… and something that called to people and knocked on their walls at night. He tried to force it away, but he couldn’t deny what was right in front of him. This was too real.

Adam grasped his left arm.

Adam’s fall brought his head down on the electric heater and a red stain started to bloom on the carpet.

Jack quickly knelt beside his friend so he could check his heart, but before he could: We need you, Jack. Now.

Jack’s head jerked up, afraid he might actually see the skeleton moving. But his eyes adjusted to the gray figure he’d seen on the floor and realized another skeleton lay there. He could only see the legs sticking out from under the bed. He believed, for no obvious reason, that this was the remains of a woman. ‘We need you, now’ was enough to convince him. He got up so he could see better. Her dress had disintegrated over the years, and her bones had partially turned to dust. But, the two voices had been women, and these were they. He was sure of that.

But, this woman had been stuffed under the bed when she died.

How do you know that? He asked himself these questions knowing that there was no answer. He’d never heard about any of this. How did he know that the skeleton under the bed was even a woman.

It didn’t matter. He just knew. He’d seen it. She was the woman who used the poker to burn the little girl. It washer who beat the girl with the broomstick and put shackles on her wrists.

Again, a vision flooded his mind. This woman, who’d been killed and stuffed under the bed, spoken with a man who sat at the desk writing in the old book. He saw them together, speaking softly to each other so the girl couldn’t hear them.

* * * * *

“It’ll only be one more night,” the man said. He wore a tall hat and sat at the desk. The woman stood beside him. “Tomorrow will be the full moon. We can send her back through the gate.”

* * * * *

Suddenly, Adam’s phone rang again and caused Jack to jump. He looked down and saw the blood flower still growing under Adam’s head. He bent down to search for the ringing phone and tripped over Adam’s foot. He fell hard against the wall. Pain shot from his shoulder into his neck. It caught him off guard, and he found himself on the floor beside Adam.

Seeing the thick pool of blood and smelling the metallic odor, made him realize that it was much more serious than he’d first thought. Adam wasn’t just injured on the outside, the man’s eyes told him he might’ve had a heart attack. He knew he had to do something to help him. The fact of two ancient homicides, less than fifteen feet away, meant nothing to him. The only thing that mattered was Adam.

Moving as quickly as he dared, he felt through Adam’s pockets for the phone. Finally he found it inside the pocket of Adam’s jacket, but not before it had stopped ringing. He forced his eyes to focus on the screen and pressed the buttons to show the received calls. Pushing the ‘send’ button on the first listing, the phone automatically dialed. It was Adam’s wife.

“Where are you…” she started without saying hello. “Lydia, it’s Jack.”

“Where’s Adam?”

Fucking Bitch, he thought, shut up a minute and listen. And she was a fucking bitch. He’d known her for a year now, and his opinion of her never improved. She was a nag, a pessimist, and she always needed control over everything. She never gave Adam credit for what he had achieved, neither with the ministry, nor his work with the rehab center. She constantly put others down to make herself look good. Jack realized the way she was as soon as he had met her properly.

“Please, Lydia shut up.”

He heard her gasp and took the moment to keep talking. “I got a big problem here.”

“Where is Adam? Put him on the phone.”

“Did you hear me? I have a problem and I need you too…” The phone clicked in his ear.
Perfect, he thought. Just perfect. What a bitch. He looked at Adam. “You’re gonna make it pal. Just hold in there. You’ll make it just fine.” But the blood on the floor tried to tell him different.

The phone rang in his hand and he jumped. He knew it was Lydia. He answered, “Adam is hurt Lydia. I need you to listen.” She was silent. Good, he thought. “I’m calling the ambulance, but I need you here. Do you know where my apartment is?”

She was silent. “Do you….”

“Not really.”

“Come downtown. It’s right across the tracks at the Wartzburg building…”

“But…” Then she started to cry.

“Are you coming?”

The phone clicked in his ear. He lowered his hand and just looked at the phone. He didn’t call 911 right away. He couldn’t. What would he say? He didn’t know how to begin. He wanted to make sure Adam was awake when they got there, so he could explain the situation himself.

When Adam fell, the sharp corner of the heater punched into his skull. The bone was cracked open, but at least his brains weren’t o

zing out. Jack couldn’t leave him to bleed to death, so he pulled the quilt off the couch and put it under his head. Then, he pulled it tight and redoubled it, tying a bow with the corners to hold it in place. Tucking more of the blanket under the bow, he tightened it to be more of a tourniquet. He thought about using his belt to tighten it further, but didn’t think it would work unless he put it around his neck.

A cold draft forced his mind back to the dusty room and the decayed skeletons. He turned to close the hallway door and stop the draft, but it wasn’t open. The cold was coming from the room.

Help us, Jack.

Jack felt himself go a bit light headed, but he tried to stand up anyway. It was a maneuver he couldn’t manage without leaning against the wall. The cold was bitter and overwhelming. He felt it seep into him, chilling his bones, draining him of his thoughts and energy.

He slowly moved toward the room, admiring his handy work on the broken door frame. I’ll have to fix that, he thought and found it funny. The light-headed feeling had returned, or had never passed, and he found himself leaning on the wall again for support. His thoughts were on the woman and child. He thought of Caroline.

What state was her body in, he wondered. Probably rotting with worms eating away at her.

Suddenly, he was filled with an urge to enter the room, to get close to the girl. It was a feeling he found absurd, but, none the less, could not fight. The room and the girl were the most important things in his life now. He had to help her anyway he could.

The phone rang again. He knew it was Lydia, but didn’t see the point of answering it. She was either on her way or not, simple as that. He couldn’t make the situation any more clear to her. He’d forgotten to call 911 and wanted to, although, now he didn’t think he could. He had so much he had to do. They need me, he thought. They need my help.

He found strength in wanting to help them; enough to walk out into the hallway. He took the hammer out of his tool bag.

Moving slowly, walked across the threshold back into his room. Upon entering, the cold blasted through him again. In his mind’s eye, he saw the girl screaming and the woman crying. He wanted to help them. But he didn’t know how.

He did know that they would tell him.

It was so cold in the room that Jack shivered violently, and his teeth chattered.

* * * * *

A vivid scene embraced him. He found it impossible not to see the brutality of it all, and he knew he would never unsee it. It filled his aching mind. The man with the tall hat was beating the girl. She was chained to the wall, crying for him to stop. He was a brute of a man. He put his hands around the girl’s throat and choked her until her face turned blue. Then he laughed at her when she came to.

Then the scene changed and the man was dressed in a blood drenched smock, leaning over the red-haired child. She was tied down to a wooden table with leather straps. Jack watched as she screamed and kicked. The table rocked with her strength, and the man held a knife to her stomach, chanting in a language Jack couldn’t recognize. His voice rose in wild octaves, words he had never heard filled the room. It sent chills through him.
The man took the large blade and pulled it smoothly across her abdomen. It was a quick, deep cut that gaped open; his hand moved with the precise skill of a surgeon, but this man was no doctor.

The skin pulled apart on its own, and he reached into the incision, lifting out a gray deformed child. Blood dripped from the man’ s hands as he continued to pull. She screamed, and Jack tried to block the image.

Help us, Jack. We need you.

More and more the man pulled, until finally the large hands and feet of the child were free from her. A thick organ came into view, plopping to the floor. It was her placenta. The blood ran black, spilling from the table onto the floor along with some of her intestines. Strings of black and green hung from the child’s large head. As the man tugged, the girl kicked her legs and flexed her arms. She never stopped twisting on the table. His hands were back inside of her now, groping around. He had placed the baby on the table beside her.

Then, he smiled and the girl stopped moving. “It is working,” he told someone. Jack couldn’t see who else was in the room. “The gate is opening. Soon we will have the gate open and have our daughter back.” He withdrew his hands from the girl’s abdomen and shook them off, splattering the table with tiny clots of red and black. “A life for a life,” he told the unseen listener. “This girl for our girl.”

Jack could stand no more. This had to stop seeing this. He searched his mind for a way to save her; he realized he’d just seen an abortion. But the child was not human.

Then, as if answering the questions forming in his mind, the girl looked toward Jack. “We need you,” she said and passed out.
The man in the blood covered smock shouted. “Soon Tabitha will return. Our daughter will be with us again.”

Jack’s Apartment (part 3)

Jack’s Apartment

(part 3)

by Thadd Presley

He woke sitting up on his couch. The quilt had fallen in the floor and was laying too close to the heater. He could see steam rising from it. Sunshine streamed in through the windows, brightening his living room.
Then the knock came again. The same three booming knocks. He looked at the red, digital numbers of the clock blinking 12:47 PM

“Damn, the electricity must have gone out,” he said to no one. Then, to the knocking, he yelled, “hold on.”

“Jack,” someone called. It was a familiar voice. “You in there?”

“I said hold on. Just a second.”

Two sleepy steps brought him close enough to the only window for him to see the red pinto on the curb. It was Adam come to visit him. He opened the door.

“Mornin’ Adam.”

“Boy you’re a light sleeper,” Adam joked.

“Lucky I slept at all.”

“Sorry to hear it,” Adam sympathized. “I hope you feel up to coming to the food drive?”

“I had the craziest dream,” Jack began without being asked about the dream. “Something I hadn’t felt in a longtime.”

Adam saw the unsettled look in his eyes. “You have to give it time, Jack. It’s been a long time since you lived alone. It will get easier. Perhaps, it’s the temptation manifesting itself…”

“No, it’s not that.”

“Have you had urges…”

“Yeah, I guess, but that’s not it.” Frustration was already showing in his voice and Adam heard it easily.

“Well, tell me about it on the way to the church. We have a food bank to stock. I’ve got some coffee in the car. Maybe I can help you figure out something that will help you readjust to your new surroundings.”

“Do you believe dreams have a meaning,” Jack asked, turning from the door, allowing his friend to enter. Then, without letting him answer, “I mean, I know what it’s about. I remember it perfectly, but you think it might mean something in the real world?”

“Maybe, probably, maybe not. What was it about?”

“You’ll think I’m crazy.”

“You are crazy.” Adam said smiling. “Or, maybe you should be.” He put his hand on Jack’s shoulder. “Look, you probably just slept wrong.” He pointed to the couch as if it was proof.

“It’s not the couch, Adam. I’ve slept on way worse at the church and at the clinic.”

“Well, we’ll pick up my daughter’s old bed after the food drive just in case. I don’t want you sleeping on that old thing anymore. Who knows where it’s been. And then, tonight, we’ll have a few beers and talk about your new life. It’ll make a world of difference to talk about it and work out a few details of the coming week.”

“No, no, my stuff’s s’posed to be here today. Matter of fact, I should stay in and wait on the movers. Plus, I want to look around and see the best way to get started on the renovations.” But that wasn’t the only reason he wanted to stay. The dream was still fresh in his mind. He could hear the girl’s voice so clearly. He had to get that key, had to help her.

“Well, you going to tell me about the dream or not,” Adam asked, looking around the room. “It’s probably got something to do with this place.”

“That’s it exactly. It is this place. Maybe it’s the whole building.” He closed his eyes, trying to close out the locked door right in front of him, trying not to see his dream.

“Well, it’ll pass as you get used to it. Now, when do the movers get here?”
“Noon-ish,” Jack answered. “I just have the few things from the storage unit. No reason to pay forty bucks a month while I have all this room. I’ll wait on them and let them in.”

“Yeah, I suppose you should. Tell you what. I’ll give you a call tonight.”

“Just give me a few minutes before you leave. I want to tell you about the dream.” He was starting to feel uncomfortable again, claustrophobic. “I need to tell someone.”

“Wow, this is really got a-hold of you, huh?” Sweat was visible on Jack’s face, and Adam realized then that his friend was actually shaking. “Start from the beginning.”

Jack closed the door against the cold hallway. “You see that door?” He asked while Adam sat down on the couch.

“I do..”

“Well, I can’t open it. It’s locked tight, and I haven’t got a key.”
“Dorry does. She’ll bring it in a few days, I’m sure.”

“Huh?”

“The land lady, Dorry, she’s got all the keys.”

“Oh.” He paused, then started again. “I just don’t know what’s in there and…”

What about the dream, Jack?”

Jack held up his hand. “Hold on. This is gonna sound crazy enough as is, we can’t just rush into it.” He sat on the couch and noticed for the first time that it smelled bad, like old cheese and mold. The whole place stank, but he pushed that out of his mind and cleared his throat. “It all started because I thought I heard someone call my name. At first I just put it out of my mind, you see, but it happened a few times.

“Finally, after getting a bit spooked, I just listened, and I heard it again. That’s when I realized it came from that room.”

“You just scared yourself,” Adam assured him. “It happens all the time. It’s even happened to me a time or two. Once, when I was in college, I was to the point of sleep. You know that place where you’re in between. Like your still awake but unable to move?”

Jack nodded.

“Well, I thought the devil was in the room. I actually thought there were demons in the room. I felt them all around me.” He started to laugh. “I prayed and prayed, but nothing worked. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t move. It was one of the worst things that’s ever happened to me. Later in life, I learned that it’s called sleep paralysis, a common happening.”

“But the voice called out to me while I was awake, asking me to help them. ‘We need you,’ the little girl said.”

“But you were dreaming?”

“No, not then. I wasn’t asleep.” He started to rise from the couch. “I was awake. Fully awake and walking to the bathroom.”

Adam touched Jack’s arm and kept him from standing up. Goosebumps covered his skin. “It’s called sleep paralysis. Don’t work yourself up.”

“No, it wasn’t that. I could move. I sat straight up and looked around. Believe me, I know when I’m awake Adam.”

“Okay, then you were dozing and you…”

“Dammit, Adam. It’s more than that. It’s that room.”

The hard words were not what surprised Adam, even though he was twenty years Jack’s senior. After all, he didn’t expect the man to call him sir or pop. It was the fierce nature of the words that startled him. Jack had never spoken to him that way. “Well, maybe the answer is simple,” Adam said, thinking the room wasn’t the problem at all. “Let’s just pick the lock and solve the mystery. See what’s on the other side.”

Oddly, the simple solution of picking the lock hadn’t occurred to Jack, and he suddenly wanted to kiss the old man. “By Jove, you’re a genius.”

Adam winced at the word. He didn’t like people to use God’s name unless in prayer or bible reading.

Jove was, after all, a shortened version of God’s name.

“Sorry. It slipped,” he said, already off the couch and heading for the door. “Got a knife?”

“I have a credit card. Maybe we can slide it between the jam and get it that way. At least, I think we can.” The two men looked at each other, and Adam smiled. “I wasn’t always a man of God, my boy.” They laughed, and for Jack it felt good to laugh.

After the terrible night and feeling of loneliness the night before, happiness and laughter seemed very far from him.

As they tried to force the credit card between the door and the frame, Adam’s phone rang. He didn’t answer it. Another few minutes passed and they still hadn’t opened the door.

“Do you have a knife of any kind or a screw driver,” Adam asked.

“Yes, in my tool bag. Hold on,” Jack said and disappeared through the apartment door and into the hallway.

In the hall, Jack felt the cold, January chill on his legs, even though he was still inside the building. The night before suddenly came back to him. He smelled the steam from the quilt, the urgent need to use the bathroom, the face he saw in the mirror that looked so afraid, and the words: We need you, Jack.

It was too much.

He returned with a small, black, leather case and closed the door to the hallway. He didn’t want anyone to come up and see him breaking into the locked door. After all, didn’t she say that there could be treasure up here.

Adam reached out for the black case. “Getting cold again,” he said. “I’ll bet there’s a line a mile long at the church waiting for a hot meal.” He was looking at Jack, as if to say: this can wait. People are starving, you know? But, to Jack, this was the most important thing at the moment. Let them starve; let them freeze; just get that damn door open, he thought. “And there will be more snow tonight. We’ll probably be opening the auditorium to the homeless by sundown. We need all the people we can get.”

“Hope so,” Jack said matter-of-factly. “I love snow.”

“You got the gas on?”

“No, I’ll probably freeze, but won’t it be beautiful in the morning.”

“You should come down after your storage arrives and stay at the church. They’d be happy to see you again. They need you…”

“Don’t say that,” Jack snapped.

Adam looked at him. No, he leered at him, trying to see what was behind his eyes. Adam suddenly wondered if the man had been on drugs again.

“Just, don’t,” he told him. “That’s what the little girl was saying last night and kept saying it. Then, they called me by name.”

“I really wish you would come with me when we get finished here.” He didn’t want to leave him alone.

“You could just leave a note for the movers.”

“I might, Adam. Really, I might. And please,” he said, taking the old man by the arm. “I’m not crazy. I’ve never been afraid of anything in my life. Not before this.”

“We’ll get to the bottom of it, don’t worry.” He held up a flat head screwdriver. “If we can’t force it, we’ll take it off the hinges.”

Both men pried on the door. Adam went first trying to jimmy the lock, and then Jack tried to force off the hinges, but neither worked.

Adam turned to get the pack. “This door probably hasn’t been opened for twenty or thirty…” But his words were cut short when Jack kicked the door. “Hold on…” he said, but Jack kicked it again, and the frame cracked. “Now you’ve done it.”

“I can build it back,” Jack said, and Adam knew he could. He knew Jack was a great carpenter.

“Okay, finish her off, but do it with finesse.”

Another kick sent the door smashing open. Dust flew up and filled the air. The room beyond was like an Egyptian tomb, dust covered everything and the musty air took his breath away. For a moment, the room was nothing but a swirling mass of gray dust. Faint objects could be seen strewn everywhere, covered with an inch of dust.

Inside the room was an ancient iron-framed bed. A molded, rotting mattress had fallen through the frame and was decaying on the floor; beside the bed, a roll-top desk leaned to the left. It was covered with papers. Beside the desk were figures drawn on the wall.

What the two men saw next, which they saw together, was too frightening to comprehend.

On the wall, hanging with it’s wrists bound, was a skeleton.

“That can’t be real,” Adam croaked. He was gasping for air, whether it was the dust or the sight of a skeleton. “People liked to collect things like that in the old days. Oddities they called them.” Then, as he realized all the dust in the room was most likely the skin and rotted remains of the body, he covered his mouth.
The odor in the room was sickening and overwhelming. They could both taste the foulness of the place… taste the deadness in the air.

Jack’s Apartment (part 2)

Jack’s Apartment

(part 2)

by Thadd Presley

During the meeting with the landlord, she told him that the fourth floor had been used as storage area for years. She talked a bit about her father passing away and leaving the building to her. “My brother got the money, and the yacht, and the hotel. All I got was this run-down place.”

“But, why was the fourth floor empty?”

“He had plans for it, I guess. He was always a dreamer. Fact is, he won the building in a high-stakes poker match during one of the worst years of his life. He lost everything and bet everything he had on a single card.

“As you can see, he won.”

Jack smiled. He liked to hear stories of people making good on a million to one odds.

“Too bad, my mother told him. Looks like you lost more than you’ll ever know with that place.”

Jack wanted to ask about her brother, but she didn’t give him a chance.

“My father was into gambling and drinking. That is… until he met Adam. My dad didn’t go to church much, until the end, but Adam helped him to find God and so much changed after that.”

Jack thought it was a lot of information to be telling a stranger, but then again, they had someone in common. Through Adam, they were far from strangers.

“There could be rats or bats or anything up there,” she told him. “I haven’t cleaned the place or even been up there in over a year.” She looked out over the river that passed in front of the restaurant where they had lunch. “When you get your room finished, we’ll see what we can throw away, but you might find treasures up there.” She smiled. “I think the last tenant of the fourth floor was in his early seventies. He was a bit of a pack rat. He kept everything and I’m sure you will run into it.”

“Treasures would be great,” he remembered saying, assuring her he wouldn’t steal anything; he was afraid if he stole from her or lied to her, drugs and death were sure follow. He wondered what Adam had told her about his situation. “I don’t need anything fancy, mind you, just a quiet place where I can get used to being on my own again.”

She smiled at that and explained again that room wouldn’t be suitable for human occupation until he gave it a bit of love and care.

He liked that she used the word “love.” It gave him a warm feeling of acceptance, a thing he hadn’t felt in a long time.

*     *     *     *     *

We need you, Jack , the voice snapped again, sending a frosty bolt of lightening down his back, calling him back to the present. It seemed to come from all around. Goosebumps sprang out on his arms. The urge to pee suddenly returned, and he quickly turned from the sink, which continued to run nothing but cold water, and faced the toilet.

Once finished, he washed his hands and made his way to the kitchen, only looking into the living room to check the heater. Once in the kitchen, he knew he couldn’t stay and that he was going to call Adam. But, not quite yet. First he made a sandwich from the leftover macaroni and carried it to the warmth of the couch where sat down.

He used his foot to pull his small electric heater toward him and watched the locked door like it was going to crash open any minute. Listening for the voice, trying to steel himself against it if it happened again. He thought if he sat and waited, he would know exactly where it came from, but even before he finished his sandwich, he started to doze.

His dreams began immediately.

*     *    *     *     *

He stood in the stairwell that led up to the fourth floor. Looking down over the metal rail, he mentally counted the flights he’d passed. Was he on the right floor? Each landing looked the same. But, the door which opened on the fourth floor was painted green, where all the other floors had white doors. But, there was no door at this landing. He hadn’t seen a green door on any of the landings all the way up. He was lost, but that was impossible because there was only one set of stairs. He looked up, surprised to see that the stairs climbed higher and higher.

There wasn’t but four floors in this building.

Panic struck him then. Where was he? The wrong building? His eyes filled with hot tears. The feeling of loneliness suddenly encased him and pushed closer and closer, farther and farther into his mind. He was overwhelmed; he needed to find the door to his floor or the door to the street. If he was found in the wrong building, someone would think he was trespassing. The cops would be called and his probation violated.

His mind screamed the fact that he was alone in the world. He’d killed the only woman who’d ever loved him. Being alone had never bothered him before; it was the way he wanted it. But now the desire for someone to care for him, to love him; it overwhelmed his mind and flood his blood with fear. He would do anything to have someone love him, anything for a companion to sit through the evenings with him and read.

The climb up the flights was not a particularly bad one; he enjoyed walking, and this was a source of some much-needed exercise and another good habit he could take up. He assured himself that the next landing would be his. But, the stairs went up and up. They seemed to be never ending.

Before having to stop and catch his breath, he climbed twenty flights and never passed a single door.
He turned and began to start down when he saw the door. But, it wasn’t green, nor was it in the right place. It was one flight below him. He knew it wasn’t there before, but none of that mattered now. As long as it lead to a floor and to someone who would direct him in the right direction.

As he walked down the steps, dread began building up inside of him. By the time he stood in front of the door, he was afraid to open it. He couldn’t just stand there. He had to go through the door. He built up his courage and just as his hand touched the knob, it became the locked door in his apartment.

We are waiting, Jack. We need you.

To turn around and start back down seemed impossible. It would only begin his journey all over again, and he knew he couldn’t leave and abandon anyone, not again, especially if someone needed his help. Meaning if he could help them, he would.

“Who’s there,” he called and listened as his voice echoed off the concrete walls of the stairwell.

His hand was still on the doorknob.

We need you, Jack.

He jerked his hand away from the cold brass.

A moment passed, and he knocked on the door, then banged on it. “Hello,” he yelled and then listened as his voice echoed again and again in the endless stairwell. “Who are you? Where are you?”

Help us.

“I will, just….”

Just what, he thought? How could he help anyone when he was the one lost?

Everything in him wanted to help, whether it was the homeless at the food ministry or orphaned children in another country. It was in his nature; at least, it was a part of his new nature.
He put his ear to the door, listening for movement. He was suddenly aware of the silence. The terrible feeling of loneliness returned. He wanted to help them. Whoever they were. He felt, he needed their companionship as much as they needed him. After all, wasn’t he trapped as well? He pressed his ear to the door harder and listened with all his might.

Boom, Boom, Boom

The door rattled with thundering knocks which caused him to jerk his head away. His foot came to the edge of the steps, and he rocked on the edge for a moment; for a millionth of a second he floated there, not knowing if he was going to go over or keep his balance.     Then, as gravity would have it, he tilted too far and started to fall….
The slow, tumbling fall into forever brought him back to the real world with a jolt.

Jack’s Apartment (Part 1)

Jack’s Apartment

by Thadd Presley

Jack’s first day in the apartment was a new lease on life. He wasn’t sure what he wanted to do first. But it was an answer to his prayers, and, yes, Jack was now a praying man. God wasn’t always on constant call when it came to Jack’s old life. However, since he began his life after drugs, he was in constant communication with the man upstairs. But, this was more than Jack could have asked for. He never knew gigs like this existed. The idea of “cup runneth over” truly had a meaning now, and Jack felt like a human being for the first time in years.

But, Jack was logical. He knew that it wasn’t all God. Jack owed a special thanks to Adam, the man he met while in the county rehab.

Adam was a preacher of sorts, who spent time with addicts and gave them hope. But Adam was much more than a counselor to Jack. Adam was a guiding light and a mentor. He helped Jack and gave him a chance to work at the church and prove himself as a carpenter, which had been instrumental in getting the job at the apartment complex.

He thanked Adam as he sat alone for the first time in a long time, with his dinner on his lap, and thanked God for his apartment, which was on the fourth floor of the Wartzburg Building. It was only a small, cheap, four-room cracker box, but he lifted his head toward the roof, as if he could see into heaven, and asked God to come into his home. It was a quick prayer, just something to bless his food and to invite good spirits to his new place. But he knew it was important, because he didn’t want to forget about all the good things that had been happening to him lately, nor did he want to forget what drugs had done to him.

Before he left the rehab center, he thought that he’d be happy out in the real world, away from the clinic and all the church meetings, away from all the drug addicts and the whiners. But, he wasn’t. Over time, he’d come to like working for the church and he liked the few friends he’d made while living at the halfway house. He liked that his life was on a new path, but he was more afraid everyday. Afraid that he’ d mess everything up now that temptation was at every turn.

What he felt then was suffocation. Anytime he thought about running into old friends or what he was going to do if he started wanting a hit, a panic quickly closed in on him and crushed his goodness. His ideas of a good life and of the spirit who he’d prayed for began to wilt as if something didn’t want him to have a good, new life.

He just felt so alone.

The apartment he picked out on the fourth floor had a small table in the main living room, where he sat with his macaroni. On his left was a doorway to the only bedroom, which was really small, and beside that, a door opened onto the bathroom. There was a fourth room, but it was locked and so far had been inaccessible. He had keys to all the rooms on the fourth floor since part of his rent was going to be repair work, but none of the keys opened this door. The lock was older, probably left over from a century before, and because it was his first day in the apartment, he didn’t want to be a pain to the landlady, especially if it meant she would have to drive all the way back into the city and open it herself. She would be back in a few days to inspect the work he’ d be doing and make sure he was as good a carpenter as Adam said. He could wait and ask her about the room then.

For a moment, with food paused in mid flight to his mouth, he thought about when he’d met her. She was younger than he’d imagined when Adam told him about her, and she was beautiful. She asked him questions about his past and where he used to work. She reminded him that the floor had not been used for thirty years, so he would have to wear a mask when he worked.

“Who knows what all is considered toxic these days. The paint is lead based, I know that for sure; the tile has asbestos in it, as does the insulation and ceiling tiles, and probably there would be more than that. Do you understand that you have to wear the mask? It is very important.”

“Yes,” he answered.

“Legally, no one can live on the fourth floor yet, but since Adam has been so good to us in the past, I’ve decided to make an exception. What we need to do is get your room up to code and as close to livable as fast as we can, both for your health and in case of any problems we might have with the inspectors.”

“I understand. I’ll start in the apartment and work my way into other areas.”

Then came the question he knew was loaded. This was where she would decide everything. “So how long do you think it will take to do the entire job. I mean, the floors, the doors, the trim and painting, we have to replace the ceiling and there will be more, lots more, when we get into it deeper?”

She smiled when he said, “four months should get us to a good point. After that we will know exactly where we stand.”

“I’ll know where we stand in one week, Mr. Solsbury. I want to start renting that floor as soon as possible.”

“Yes, ma’am. Four months is just my guess right now.”

They talked while they signed the last documents, which explained that he would not owe rent for the months he worked, but rules came with the room. No drinking or parties were allowed and no one could live with him. No one can be on the fourth floor, except Adam of course. And, by signing and shaking her thin hand, he became the sole tenant of the fourth floor. He felt like Donald Trump that day. He had an entire floor to himself.

He thought of all this while he ate in silence. With no television or radio, the feeling of loneliness had a tendency grew out of hand, and he found himself thinking of Caroline. He’d never felt so alone in his life, not even when his mother died. Since after high school, he always lived on his own and loved the solitude he had when he wanted or needed it. But since Caroline’s overdose, he’d found a real need for companionship and love. He hated himself for getting her hooked on pain killers and showing her how to shoot up. Her death was his fault; there was no doubt of that. It was as if he killed her the day he met her.

An hour later, having eaten what he could of the cold pasta, he was laying on the old couch, which looked as if it had been here through the thirty years of abandonment, half asleep thinking of Caroline and what his life would be like if she hadn’t died, whether or not he would have gone to rehab. It was her death that brought the police and the reality of drug use to his life. The more he thought about Caroline and what he did to her, the more he thought about whether death did for him. She never got a second chance like he did; she never got to learn a lesson. All she got was death, and he gave it to her in a needle.

He dozed and dozed…then he dreamed.

Jack.

A high pitched, hollow voice filled the room. It seemed to shake his entire being. He opened his eyes, completely sitting up, and felt for his phone. He’d set it on vibrate days ago and hadn’t changed it. He looked around the room, knowing he’d heard something.

No… someone, he told himself. It was a voice. He listened harder, trying to hear his neighbors below. He listened for footsteps in the hallway. Maybe it was someone in the stairwell and their voice had traveled. His eyes stopped on the locked door. He looked away, but somehow he could keep them from going back. The door was actually pulling his eyes to it. He felt panic beginning to set up in his muscles and chest. It would become hard to breathe, but he had to stay calm.

“Dude, calm down,” he said aloud. “It was a dream.”

He shivered. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d been so rattled. The sound of his voice calmed his nerves a bit, but he knew sleep wouldn’t return. He could only sit there and look at the door.

After a long while of sitting in the red gloom of the heater’s glow listening to the silence, he knew a trip to the bathroom was in order before sleep would return. He wasn’t old by any means, but the drugs had done their worst to his system. He knew he wouldn’t make it the entire night without a pit stop.

It took another five minutes and mighty strong convincing from his bladder to get him to leave the warmth of the heater. The gas on the fourth floor was turned off, so the only warm room in the apartment was the living room, and only in the vicinity of the heater.

He tested the floor with his bare feet and found it absolutely freezing. But it had to be done; there was no stopping nature. In the old days he would have used a bottle and tossed it in the morning, but he didn’t have a bottle, nor did he feel like living that way. After giving up everything in his pursuit to live a new life, such things now seemed out of character and would lead him right back to the past. He felt that a new life demanded new actions.

He crossed the room, only thinking of his urinary duties, when he heard the high-pitched, quick voice again, like the snap of a rubber band.

Jack.

Hearing the voice again and being awake when he heard it shook him to his bones. A bit of pee squirted down his leg and he had to squeeze everything together so he didn’t piss himself completely.

He walked faster and felt the burning urgency.

That voice was not his imagination, he nervously realized. “You heard that with your own ears,” he told himself in a whisper, “and it called your name.”

He turned and looked at the locked door.

Fear tried to grip him, but he fought it. He no longer felt alone, but he couldn’t let whatever it was scare him out of his apartment. What would Adam think if he called and said he couldn’t stay in the apartment because he was scared? He smiled in spite of himself, thinking how easy it was to frighten yourself. How many times did he do it as a child? Every night? Whether it was something under the bed or in the closet, something always seemed to be out to get him. And as he got older, the monsters just got scarier and more dangerous. A simple dream or a spooky moment had a way of sending the blackest fear upon him. It was worse now, since Caroline.

Help us, Jack.

This time he jumped hard enough for his feet to leave the floor. It was louder, closer, and there was absolutely no denying that the voice came from behind the locked door.

With a flick of his hand, the light in the bathroom broke the darkness, and he saw himself in the mirror. He didn’t like the look in his eyes and looked away. He turned on the water. It was as cold as he knew it would be.

As he waited to see if the water would get warm, he tried to push the idea of ghosts away. But, there was no mistaking that he’d heard the voice. It called to him three times.

The fear forced its way into his mind.

He let the water run and listened as it gurgled down the pipes. If it started to run red, he warned himself that it would only be rust. Not blood. That only happened in movies. Old pipes sometimes have rust in them.
The urgency of getting to the bathroom was gone, replaced with fright.

Rubbish Day (part 1)

Rubbish Day

(part 1)

by Thadd Presley

He watched the Honda in his rear view mirror as it pushed it’s way through traffic and cut it way in front of cars. Every time another car was forced t brake or had to weave into another lane, the two young men inside the offending car laughed. Once, he thought they’d taken it too far when they dove right in front of an old woman and caused her to put her brakes on too hard. The car behind her was too late on the brakes and had to swerve onto the shoulder trying not to hit her. It was all to close for comfort.

When the two men got behind Jerold he was ready for them. He wasn’t a Sunday driver. He loved to drive and he knew how to do it. Cars were one of his life’s passions. Along with his daughter, numbers and maths, cars made his world complete. He especially loved the car he was driving. It wasn’t his only car. It wasn’t even close to his most expensive car, but it was his the one he always dreamed of owning.

Presently, Jerold’s car collection stood at eighteen. Most of them were custom built just for him. But this car was in it’s original condition. It was his cherry and he meant for it to stay that way.

He could have driven any of his cars, but he chose the Porsche because he was on an important mission and the Porsche made him feel like he was in charge.

When the Honda suddenly made it’s move to pass Jerold cut it off. “You shall not pass,” he said to no one and laughed.

The Honda sped up and tried to stay right on his bumper, but it was easy for Jerold to pull away from them.

The games were played back and forth. The Honda would try to pass and Jerold would not let it. They would sped up as if he ram him and then either slow at the last minute or Jerold would leave them in a cloud of black smoke.

Then came a move too close to call and the Honda spun out.

That was enough for Jerold. He slowed to normal speed and put his mind back on the task at hand. He was going to visit his daughter in Crossville and it was going to require a bit of decisive action.

Tears blurred his vision as the anger welled up in him.

Suddenly, the Honda shot around him and it sounded terrible. Jerold looked over to see the passenger holding up both middle fingers. Anger flooded his veins and fire filled his head.

“Fucking punks,” he yelled. “God damn fucking punks.”

The Honda’s driver saw his reaction and laughed.

There was not many cars on highway 27, as Jerold reached over and opened the console between the seats. The cold metal cooled him down a bit. He wasn’t going to let a pair of punks cut him off and get away with it. Not today he wasn’t.

He gunned the Porsche and passed the Honda, flipping them the bird just as they’d done to him. Perhaps they would get cocky and follow him. Fuckers didn’t know what they were in for, though, not today they didn’t. Today they were going to get their fucking reward.

They did exactly as he’d hoped. The Honda quickly caught up and began to follow along, hoping to intimidate him.

After all, why wouldn’t it be intimidating. They were young and he was a middle aged, balding man who probably couldn’t fight worth a piss because his belly was beginning to stand out a bit too far. Also, they out numbered him. But, Jerold McCleary wasn’t afraid. He was not going to be scared of anything anymore. He’d been Mr. Nice Guy for far too long.

Assholes, especially assholes like these two punks were used to pushing people around and expected everyone to cower in fear because that’s what people usually did, had to be taken out. The world had forgotten how to be strong and now it needed someone to step into place and do what everyone else was afraid to do.

Jerold had been thinking of the world and the state it was in for a few days and he was prepared to do what was needed. It was obvious to him that the world needed someone with guts. The world was in desperate need of a pair of balls. There was just no other choice, he had to do what was required and he was more than happy to do it.

It was the only way to make the world a better place. Currently, the world was over run with assholes who were used to getting their own way, creating a life of hell for the average person. Jerold was going to fix his part of the world and kill the stupid bastards that he found. He looked into his rear view mirror.

He didn’t want to become a murderer, but what choice did he have?

By standing up and carrying out this one simple act of charity, the world would quickly become a nice place to live. Just by eliminating the two assholes behind him, everyone would be better off and there would be less trash on the corner of people’s lives.

Jerold was sure the Honda was going following him, so he slowed to a crawling thirty-five miles an hour. Then he put his blinker on and slowly turned into the Outback Steakhouse parking lot.

At 9:00 AM he knew the restaurant parking lot would be deserted.

He slowly pulled around the building, as if he were lost. He didn’t want the punks to think he was leading them to a trap or to tip them to the fact that he was going to stand up for himself.

He pulled to the back of the lot where a big blue garbage dumpster sat next to a smaller black container used for old cooking oil. He began to back up, but the Honda pulled close behind the Porsche, so to block him in, but Jerold knew there would be room to pull out when he finished cleaning up the world.

The two punks didn’t lose any time getting out of there car and Jerold realized they were both men and not teenagers like he’d first thought. The driver stepped out of the car and started toward him.

Jerold also got out of his car and stood to face the man coming toward him. “What’s your fucking problem fat boy,” the driver yelled and looked back to check on his passenger. Sure enough, his buddy was just getting out of the car.

“Two on one?” Jerold asked and pulled the 38 Special out before he could respond. “Alright, we can do that.”

The first bullet entered the driver’s chest, and the passenger ducked.

Jerold watched as he turned to run. Jerold smiled and shot him in the back. He approached the driver to see if he was dead. When the man looked up at Jerold, another round turned his brains into jelly. Jerold finished the whimpering passenger the same way.

He figured there would be cameras trained on the parking lot, but who cared? More important was the fact that two assholes were killed and their earthly stupidity was brought to an end. Why wouldn’t he be thank him and the surveillance footage be used as a training video for people who were tired of living in a world of assholes.

Both the world and everyone in it owed him big time.

Back in his car, he calmed himself by breathing in the smell of leather.

After a moment, he started the car. The perfect purr of the engine reminded him of the reason he left the house. The car reminded him of much more once he thought about it. It reminded him of home, of being safety planted and free of worry, of the power every man should have over his own life. It reminded him of security and freedom all at the same time and it was a great reminder. It brought everything into focus. Where his energy and thought had been diverted onto the two assholes, it was now back on the reason he woke up and got out of bed.

He wasn’t just going for a morning drive. No. Jerold was on a mission. He had left his house nearly two hours earlier and began his journey to Crossville where to he would find his daughter and once and for all make sure she was safe. He’d made this trip before with the same intentions, but that was all in the past when he was trying to be Mr. Nice Guy. Well, this time he was not going to saving her for a day, he was not going to threaten to call the cops. He had only one option now, which would remove the threat from her life permanently.

He gunned the engine and smiled. Then he wiped a tear from his eye and popping the clutch, causing the wheels to squeal and then screech. Black smoke poured from the whirring tires, lifting the car. As if riding on air, it moved around the parked Honda in a perfect, sweeping arc.

The Porsche’s tires then grabbed onto the tarmac, straightening the car so fast it rocked sided to side as it moved forward.

Jerold smiled.

It was a relief to be out of Wartzburg, it was a relief to be rid of two assholes, it was a relief to be on his way to see his daughter.

Daphne.

My Daughter Dearest.

I’m on my way.

Easter, Bloody Easter

Easter, Bloody Easter

by Thadd Presley

“That’s exactly what she told me,” Anita said as she handed the sheriff her ID. “I don’t know what else to do. She said she would kill me if I so much as came down here. And we both know she will. You have to help me.”
“She told you not to come and you came anyway?” The sheriff was surprised.
Anita shook her head and then, realizing that she was saying no, she nodded. “Yes, I had to. She has my brother in the basement.”
“But, she said she would kill you.”
“I know. Please help me.”
“OK, OK. Just sit right there. I have to make a phone call and get this straightened out.” The sheriff rose from the chair and walked towards her from behind his desk. “Just to be sure. You’re mother has your brother locked in the basement and she is going to kill you because you came down here and told the police?”
“God, yes. What is wrong with you?” Anita was starting to get frustrated. She had already spent thirty minutes explaining to the police that her mother had gone crazy and was torturing her brother.
“Nothing is wrong with me, Anita. I have to get the facts straight. Don’t you see that it’s hard for me to believe a story like this. You’re mother is one of our town leaders and my boss’ wife.”
“Yes, call my dad. Please! I know he’s out of town, but he will tell you that she has been acting funny lately.”
“That’s exactly what I’m doing.”
The sheriff was almost out of the door when Anita screamed.
He turned around and saw blood pouring from her eye. “Dear God,” he exclaimed and ran to her. “What did you do?”
Anita couldn’t answer him, although she tried. Her mouth just wouldn’t say the words.
“Sheriff Coffee,” a deputy called, then he saw the blood. “What’s happening to her?”
“God only knows, Stephen. Get in here and hold her head.”
Stephen couldn’t believe what he was seeing. The young girl was sitting in the expensive leather chair with her head lolling from left to right. A thin spurt of blood shot from the side of her eyeball with every heart beat.
“What is she trying to say,” the sheriff asked. It was obvious to both men that her mouth was moving and words were slowly being formed.
“Here.” Stephen pushed a blank piece of paper on the sheriff’s desk.
“Try to write on this, Anita.”
There was no time to think. The sheriff barely had his hand out of the way when Anita’s bloody finger began to draw words onto the paper. It moved back and forth and up and down, lubricated by the blood on her hand.
“What is that?” the Sheriff asked. “Good Lord. It’s not one of those pentagram things is it?”
Stephen looked at the dark red scribble and put his hand on the desk, trying to settled his spinning head. But it did no good. He was suddenly overwhelmed by dizziness and puke rushed up his throat and sprayed out of his mouth and nose. The sheriff didn’t have time to flinch before the hot, grey, half digested oatmeal landed on his shirt and fell, stinking, on his trousers.
“Damn it, Stephen, pay attention.” But it was too late. The deputy had passed out and was sliding slowly across the desk, into the floor.
“Anita, please, look at me.” The Sheriff straightened her up as he said it, wanting to get the situation under control. But as Anita continued to draw on the paper with her own blood, the sheriff realized that she had drawn a stick figure. What was she trying to tell him. He was running out of time. “Someone get in here.”
“If you tell anyone, I’ll kill you,” a voice said.
He whirled around in search of the woman who spoke,but there was no one there. The sound was in his head. Suddenly, a pain shot through his temple and his right hand instinctively went to his head.   “Who’s there?”
“No mom,” Anita said. “He won’t tell.”
“Who’s doing this?” The sheriff demanded.
“If you tell, I’ll kill you.” The voice was louder. “I have you all right here with me.”
The pain in the sheriff’s temple grew and warmth flowed from his nose. He reached for his gun and saw that his shirt sleeve was red. He realized then that his nose wasn’t running. It was bleeding. As he lost consciousness, he suddenly realized what it was she was trying to draw. He almost laughed. What could he have done to help her anyway. The police are no match for a voodoo doll.