The Women of Abelard Wood
Mother was raped in the village of Abelard seventeen years ago. Three village men took her during one of her rare ventures into town, herding her into an abandoned barn where they took turns at her. For hours, long after the men were physically capable of intercourse, they restrained and abused her, sodomizing her with the rough, splintered handles of farm implements when they could find nothing else. In their drunken revelry they even gave a goat a try, the three of them standing back and laughing as it’s cloven hooves gripped at her hips so that it might more voraciously hump her, an indignation whose penetrations her battered and bloodied body no longer contained the strength to prevent. Well I knew the story. It was this story that blackened my heart, having heard it my life long.
Surley and dark lie Abelard’s Wood, damp and fetid it’s soil. Stagnant ponds and bayou swamps create a crooked maze of unexplored fingers of land which stretch tentatively forth through the black water, into the putrid air, and on up to the dank canopy above. After that day in the barn it was here that Mother crawled, finding in the solitude of The Abelard Wood a refuge, a sanctuary, and a home, and so have I made it my home as well.
We learned the woods, Mother and I, and came to love them, over time. They sheltered us, fed us, and clothed us. From it’s depths we lived day to day, gathering herbs, mushrooms, snakes, lizards, frogs, and even small mammals, adding each to a stew which boils ceaselessly to this day; a stew endlessly changing in flavors, and textures, odors and powers, but which never, ever cools. That was our law of the forest, Mother’s and mine, that the fire must always burn, else the dark and the wet take everything given us back.
Mother is gone now, her pain over, destroyed by her very home. Like everything in the swamp, it eventually took her, too; rotting away her skin, molding it to a green cast with poisonous boils leeching from the most uncomfortable places, but she bore it well, even as it bent and racked her. She would reassure me as I applied poultices dipped from the hallucinogenic stew. “It is nothing,” she would say, “to the pain inflicted by man.”
To that end, we gained her revenge. Many is the lost child, the wandering maid, the wood-cutter gone missing from the village, ne’er to be seen again. Many is the time that the stew changed in texture, and smell, and flavor. Many is the night we stood over the pot, adding fuel to it’s fire while singing the old songs, the barely remembered songs, the songs that change like the stew, growing ever stronger as we tasted.
I am alone now; young, and painfully different. Though consumed with hatred for the village men, they have something I need, something I long for, and can get nowhere else. I need a seed, and must take one from between the legs of one who lives there, so I lurk now at the wood’s edge, a shadow watching the village road, and waiting.
That I have the bait to lure, I know. There is beauty in my face, despite it’s jaded hue. I have seen it in the eyes of those destined for the pot. I have seen it in their drugged lusts, but their erections fail upon sight of the cloven hooves on my lower half. But I will catch some unwary one, as the black widow catches one. I will lure him with what he wants, allowing him to see only that. I will give him his moment of ecstasy. I will hide the truth in potions and robes until it is too late, and he has given what I need from him... and then I will devour him, saving his loins to nourish the child that he leaves, but it is not easy. Many have I lured, and many have I lost, a few of them at the very moment of passion, when the seed was bubbling, and the blood boiling. Something tips them at the very end as to their fate, though I know not what? But I will know. I am young, and there is time. Their are other men, and more will come. I will call to those men with songs they long to hear. I will tease them, and toy with them, and feed them the broth. I will lie atop them with the nails of my fingers digging into their skin, and my hooves clinging to their waists. I will bite their necks, and pump their groins until one of them gives me what it is I need...
"Anything else, dear?"
Sabrina politely refused Mrs Taylor's offer with that sweet smile that could only belong to her. It was that gracious giggle that made the young lady famous in town, even when she rarely appeared down here. Her house is somewhere near the woods, the young boys say. It was the sole thing her father left her with, says the older fellas in the armchairs. And yes, to have stories told about you can be exciting. But not always.
"Oh, and I could use a broom, Mrs Taylor. The old one leaves more dust than it sweeps."
And that was the moment when everything changed. Mrs Taylor, who had been busy totalling all the prices despite her poor mathematical skills, gazed up at her in shock. The young boy, fiddling around with the worn-out bicycle tires, stood still as his tires rolled down the stairs to the harbour. The senior gentleman, busy scanning the papers beside her, no longer cared about the headlines. Clearly, they just beheld the beginnings of the forthcoming big news in town.
Even as Sabrina left the store, no longer wearing her adorable smile, she could feel the stares. How can someone feel those eyes? She doesn't know, but those eyes pierced right through her skin. The broom stood projected out of her little jute basket, and no one hid their suspicions as she walked to the edge of the town. Sabrina could hear the faint whispers amidst the cacophonies of the busy street. And for some reason, she knew they were talking about her.
Sabrina walked a little faster, feeling a growing sense of uneasiness clawing about her insides. Unfortunately, this only adds to the suspicions of the piercing eyes. She could now hear their breath. Perhaps if the town was quieter, she could have listened to their heartbeats too. Soon enough, she could hear the footsteps following her in stealth, closing in for the day's prey.
And before Sabrina could restrain herself, her legs took off, attempting their best to carry their keeper to the safety of her home. The jute basket slipped off into the gutter, soaking her favourite cookies in the swamp. But she couldn't care any less.
Of course, the home could not keep her safe. But sometimes, it seems to be the solution to everything. Returning home. But in those nefarious eyes, it was no longer a home. It was a coven. And Sabrina, a witch. Their prey. The one to burn while they relax and watch.
"Burn her." There never was much Sabrina could do. Apparently, the young man, whose love she refused, had seen her cooking potions. Smoke billowing out of her little coven. And another little girl who had seen her in her nightmares. All she could do was beg, and she did. But the men took the decision for the Gods, and how could she prove them wrong?
The young man was smirking as she got carried away by the relentless guards. The little girl sneaked behind her mother, unwilling to listen to the pleads of a witch. One day, they might take her away too. She doesn't know. In the name of God, they say. How could one kill an innocent girl in the name of God?
She doesn't know, but as she felt the fire melting her skin, she realised it. Her father loved the legends of the lost kings and their declining realms. They perch helplessly on their thrones when the Wicked takes over. In the name of the King, they say. But the King would have long lost his hopes on bringing happiness back to his kingdom. He just shuts his eyes and says it's dark. Sabrina wouldn't blame him. There wasn't much he could do.
Even as the young lady could feel Life doing its best to hold on to her, she was perplexed. Who was more terrifying? The King or the Wicked?
I got a long explanation to make, haven't I? *innocent lauughter* Well, to start off, I am in college! As if that justifies everything XD Well, I messed up. I guess that's pretty evident when it's about me *facepalm* But yeah. Well, technically, life messed up way better than I did this time around, so I guess I did okay XD Anyway, I will try to come up more often from now on. And yes, this story will (from now on) hold the record of the fastest story I have ever written ^-^ It took me about... an hour? An hour and a half? Well, definitely not a week or longer, as it normally is XD I hope you guys like the story. Missed you all too much!!! Warm hugs everywhere ^0^ <3 <3 <3
#fiction, not the last part (:
They Call Him Billy
Over the years the “Halloween” “Friday the 13th” and “A Nightmare on Elm St” films have become the Monster Movies of the late 20th century. Instead of having “Dracula” “Frankenstein” and “The Mummy” we had “Michael Myers” “Jason Voorhees” and “Freddy Kruger”. Well a few years before those movie villains hit the screen there was another killer who packed a powerful punch his name was Billy and he was terrifying in the 1974 film “Black Christmas”. To me he is the scariest man in movie history.
I may be going out on a limb with this choice but way back in 1974 there was Billy in a creepy, hoorror-like film called “Black Christmas” (also known as Silent Night, Evil Night). What I am about to explain is notto be confused with any of the remakes that were done as the remakes chanmged the initial conception of Billy.
The nuts and bolys of this film is it’s time for Christmas break, and the sorority sisters make plans for the holiday, but the strange anonymous phone calls are beginning to put them on edge. When Clare (Lynne Griffin) disappears, they contact the police, who don’t express much concern. Meanwhile Jess (Olivia Hussey)is planning to get an abortion, but boyfriend Peter (Keir Dulles) is very much against it. The police finally begin to get concerned when a 13-year-old girl is found dead in the park. They set up a wiretap to the sorority house, but will they be in time to prevent a sorority girl attrition problem? And as they say, the tension mounts aqs the melodrama music plays throughout.
The Billy in 1974 (played by several characters no less) Nick Mancusco did the voicovers during the telephone calls, and both Bob Clarke and Albert Dunk played shadow roles, meaning you never do get a real glimpse of what Billy looks like and that was one of the things that made this such a good film at the time.
Other more well known cast members were Margot Kidder and John Saxon, Olivia Hussey and Keir Dullea (he portrayed David Bowman, an astronaught in 2001: A Space Oddessy. For as eerie as this film was, it did have some mumorous moments such as this line said by Barb (Margot Kidder) -- “Oh, why don’t you go find a wall socket and stick your tongue in it? That’ll give you a charge.”
Then there is Mrs. Mac (Mariann Waldman) -- “These broads would hump the Leaning Tower of Pisa if they could get up there! ”
This film, by today’s standards wouldn’t probably be all that frightening, but you couldn’t tell that to an audience back in 1974 that and make them believe you.
If you are looking for drama, horror, and that stay up all night with the doors locked and the lights on, then this is a film to see. With this link,you can.
George the Banana Killer
Since I am twenty years to the day removed from the latest possible moment I may legally enjoy slasher movies, I will report on the greatest slasher villain of all time I would have like to have seen. I am old and my opinion does not count anyway, I mean.
Just so it’s said the greatest slasher villain of all time was The Breather from Student Bodies, but this movie came out in 19-Stone Age so I can understand if no one remembers it or cares.
Which is why I’m all in on George the Banana Killer, who kills people because, as George Carlin said, his name never ends: G-E-O-R-G-E-O-R-G-E-O-R-G...etc. usw..
So in this movie, the first scenes show George being a little, like, boy and he is all pathetic-like because he needs to become a slasher and all, and his mother makes him wet the bed and his father yells at him for it and locks him in a closet for 3 weeks without food, water, or ”twoi-lette.” In school he is famous for tripping over everyone’s feet, falling on his face, and eating the pencil/pen/doggy kacke that was in his hand and/or under his face when he fell.
His favorite color is magenta because I hate magenta.
Then comes the day of the fateful field trip to the zoo. George falls in love in a matter of seconds–as often happens in these movies–with the most popular girl in school who just so happens to have big boobs and short skirts. On. Naturally she has no interest in him and only has eyes, obviously, for the captain of the chess team. That is, until he unpacks his lunch and she sees he has a handful of the fullest, longest, ripest bananas ever shown on a movie screen. He sits in front of a cage, unaware that she is staring at him, and–I’ve given this a lot of thought–peels his banana slowly.
Suddenly, the girl who is almost certainly named Heather sits down next to him and stares at him greedily. He turns his head and his eyes become glued to her buxom décolligié and she turns her head, smiling shyly.
In this moment a ape in the cage behind them reaches through the bars and snaffles not only the bunch of bananas in George’s lap but also the one he has forgotten about while staring at her apples.
Heather, or Cindy? turns back to see George without his immense banana and becomes like unto another human, recoiling in disgust.
Thus George the Banana Killer is born. He goes around murdering teenage girls with overripe bananas, leaving the peels as his “calling card” so to speak. As his death count reaches like...700 the police get desperate and call in a psycho, who doesn’t help but seance scenes are always cool.
His name is George because of course it is.
Then comes the climax, where George is killed totally dead at least three times before he is finally put to rest, leaving the door open for sequels. One should have a creepy monkey in a people costume in it, but that is another story.
Have you been to the house?
Oh— just the one right on the very Top of the hill that seems to always Move- it’s never in the same place Twice~ Every time I look around for it. *pulls out a rough pencil sketch*
See, look right here..I took the liberty Of trying to figure out where its been Before & where it might soon be next. But my main concern now is....are my Calculations right? I do hope so.
Well, would you like to come with me?
‘Where?’ You ask, with a look of worry. I laugh nervously & pull you to my Side. Come on, don’t be afraid! It’s not like the House bites. *chuckles slowly* Not that I know of.
Soon we are off, and find ourselves Right at the front gate that hangs at a Crooked angle leading onto a windy Path to the main entrance of the house. Before my knuckles even touch the Wooden door, it gradually opens with a Creaking noise.
You stare and fail to move right behind Me. As if your feet are glued to the Ground.
As soon as I step in the house, the door shuts right. You panic & grab the Knob, doing your best to twist it Open. All you hear right at that Moment is my body hitting the floor. And then my shriek being carried Loudly by the wind.
05 Sept., 2021. (Sundae)
I was at a rather impressionable age; that awkward, gawky stage between child and woman. A friendless creature despised and disparaged by those who owed me nothing as well as she who gave me life and little else. Every day I desperately prayed for that promised metamorphosis from ugly duckling, scorned and shunned, to beautiful swan, respected and adored. From cowering to towering. From fearful to feared.
Yes, most definitely that: Feared.
I was in the bathroom, trying to wash away mud, blood, snot and tears along with the invisible but ever present feelings of loneliness, anger, self-loathing...and a healthy dose of hatred aimed at those who made my life a veritable nightmare. After I wiped my face with industrial paper towel, I looked in the mirror and there she was.
“Don’t let them get to you,” she said.
I snorted. Easy for her to say. She didn’t have to deal with the abhorrent wildlings that were my classmates. Or my mother.
“Seriously,” she replied to my wordless response, “You are a diamond. They are not even coal. They are dust beneath your feet.”
“Who are you?”
“Alyssa. And you are Melissa.”
Eveyone knew the social reject. I sighed. “I haven’t seen you around, Alyssa. Are you a transfer?”
She smiled. “No. I’ve seen you. I’ve been watching you.”
“Okaaaay....that’s not weird. Why?”
“Between school and home, your life, in a word, sucks. After that fiasco in the school yard today, I thought you could use a friend.”
Truer words were never spoken.
We became inseparable. I rarely saw her during the day except in the rest room or when she made faces at me from the door of my classroom. But after school, she was always waiting for me ouside the school to walk home with me. To talk. To listen.
I never invited her inside my house. I wasn’t allowed to have friends over. It had never mattered because I had never had any. It still didn’t. I preferred that not even my best friend see my mother come after me. Or strung out on the couch. Or, worse, hear the screams from her room - lust- or pain-filled, depending on who was with her and how much they paid. Or didn’t.
But Alyssa didn’t let even me stop her. Many times, she would climb through my bedroom window. Usually, just when I needed her most.
One night, after a particularly bad altercation -- verbally and physically -- with my mother, she was in my room when I ran in crying. She held me as I wept and whispered, “Let go, my sweet girl. I’m not going anywhere ”
The next morning, my mother was found with a needle still in her arm.
The death certificate would say accidental overdose.
I called 911. Police, medics and a social worker arrived very soon thereafter.
“What’s your name, little lady?”
“Alyssa,” I replied.
Anomaly: the third chapter
‘Roman, what’s wrong?’ the new woman asked.
Rosemary and Esme looked at the young man, their faces full of concern.
‘What happened to Bradshaw?’ Roman hissed.
‘Who’s Bradshaw?’ asked the Japanese woman.
Roman shrieked again and pointed at the woman who had materialised in William Bradshaw’s chair. He made a low moaning sound.
Deke Jones looked to where his assistant was pointing and felt his stomach knot. Across the desk from them, in the chair which had been occupied until a few seconds ago by an aging theoretical physicist, sat two figures. One was the unknown woman who had appeared from nowhere, the other a pallid image of the man they had been speaking with.
The ghost of Bradshaw rose from the chair and backed away from – backed through – the woman. His face was twisted in bewilderment as he continued to move, passing through the wall behind him.
Roman began hyperventilating and moved himself away from the desk, muttering nonsense.
‘I’m sorry, Chō,’ Rosemary said. ‘This is the kind of behaviour we’ve been witnessing today.’
Chō steepled her fingers and looked at Deke. ‘Can you explain his reaction?’ she asked. ‘I assume, as you and Roman share the same memory of Rosemary and Marika, you have some insight into his sudden panic attack?’
‘How do you know the name Marika?’ Deke asked.
‘You’ve just described her,’ Chō answered. ‘The receptionist only you and Roman remember.’
‘We were discussing her with Bradshaw.’
‘Who’s Bradshaw?’ Rosemary asked.
Deke stared at his wife. Had she not seen that the man they had entered the room to speak with had become an apparition?
‘It was you who suggested we come find him,’ Deke reminded her.
Rosemary shook her head.
‘When I asked if we knew anyone good in the field of multiple dimension.’
‘Rosemary suggested we come and find Chō Morishita,’ Esme said.
‘That’s not how we remember it,’ Deke whispered.
‘Did you come into this office to speak with this Bradshaw?’ Chō asked Deke. When he nodded, she said, ‘And you saw him and spoke with him?’
‘He mentioned parallel dimensions are probably not the cause of… of whatever is happening here. He asked us to write down details we remembered of Marika. Then he turned on the holoscreen and brought up the news.’
‘I did all of that,’ Chō said flatly.
‘So we’re going crazy?’ Deke’s voice was hollow.
‘I already said that no-one is suggesting that,’ Chō said, repeating Bradshaw’s words.
’What next then? Deke asked.
The room was silent but for Roman’s quiet gibbering.
Chō suggested they needed more data. Although Deke had known her for less than five minutes, he afforded her the same respect he held for Bradshaw. Whichever universe he was currently in, he surmised she was Bradshaw’s equivalent and that was enough rationale for him.
Because of Roman’s fragile state, Deke asked Esme to escort him back to their office while he and Rosemary stayed with Chō.
‘What data do we need?’ Rosemary asked.
‘And how do we gather it?’ Deke added.
‘We need to identify the locus of this anomaly,’ Chō said. ‘Let’s start with Rosemary’s supposed death. According to you, it occurred last week.’
‘Last Tuesday,’ Deke confirmed. The brief glint in Chō’s eyes revealed that she could not recall the day. ‘You only had a six-day week last week too?’
‘Yes, but I can entertain the idea that it was a seven-day week and that a Tuesday was inserted in there somewhere. I’m used to contemplating a universe of eleven dimensions,’ she said, referring to her work with string theory, ’so one extra day isn’t so much strain on the old grey matter.
‘In the timeline that you and Roman remember, Rosemary passed away last Tuesday. For the rest of us, that day never existed and the events which led to her death did not occur, ergo she is still here.’
‘And the BBC news skipped from Monday night to Wednesday morning,’ Deke offered. He briefly explained the holorecording he and Rosemary had watched that morning. ‘That supports a lost day hypothesis.’
‘But Roman said he last saw Marika on Friday,’ Rosemary said. ‘Why would she still be around after this missing day?’
‘Perhaps the lost day was reapplied at another point in time,’ Chō conjectured, ‘and she was victim to the tragedy that befell you. No, that doesn’t make sense. Then she wouldn’t have been here on Friday.’
‘None of this makes sense,’ Deke said with a mirthless laugh.
‘What if there was another lost day?’ Chō said. ‘One further back in time which effected Marika’s timeline.’
‘It would have to be a day which was significant to Marika,’ Rosemary added.
‘Her birthday,’ Deke said.
Chō nodded. ‘If the day she was born no longer existed, she couldn’t be here. Do you know her birthday?’
‘No,’ Deke said, shaking his head. ‘And there’ll be no point contacting HR since she never existed here. What good would it do anyway? Would you be able to remember, with clarity, whether a day some twenty-odd years ago was real or not?’
‘No, I couldn’t,’ Chō admitted. ‘But Google would. I’ve been thinking how to validate the existence or non-existence of a particular day. The easiest solution is to check a calendar.’
She tapped on the keyboard – coloured a soft pink Deke noticed, not the standard black one Bradshaw had used – and pulled up the Google calendar for August 2049. The holodisplay showed six rows of numbers, one to thirty-one. The top row held just one date: Sunday 1st. The next two rows showed seven boxes, each with the days of the week. The fourth row had only six boxes: it was missing the all-important Tuesday 17th. The absent date was not conspicuous; the row was centred gracefully in the table, as though it was perfectly normal to have a six-day week in the middle of a month.
‘Check July, twenty forty-two,’ Deke said. At Rosemary’s puzzled look, he explained, ‘Jayke’s birthday.’
Chō hit a few more keys and the requested month filled the display. As expected, the third row was missing a day, Sunday 20th.
‘It looks like we’ve found a pattern,’ Chō said, ‘but two points on a graph always make a straight line. We need more data points to successfully confirm our hypothesis.’
‘But how are we going to find out Marika’s birthday?’ Deke asked.
‘I’ve got an idea,’ Rosemary said. ‘You could always ask her.’
Though the idea filled him with dread, Deke had to agree that direct communication with Marika was the most likely way to learn the date of her birth. They didn’t have contact details for her family or boyfriend and, even if they had, those people would not remember Marika if Chō’s theory was correct.
Trying to get the information from the spirit of Marika would be difficult. When he and Rosemary had first entered the university an hour ago, Marika and spoken soundlessly to him. He didn’t know if she would be able to hear him, or even if she were still there. After all, Bradshaw’s shade had soon made itself scarce.
His heart was pounding against his ribcage as he approached the lobby. As a scientist, he had neither believed nor disbelieved in ghosts, he had only awaited further evidence. Now, faced with the prospect of attempting to speak with the other side, he remembered all those horror films he’d seen. He hoped that, in this instance, life would not imitate art.
Stepping into the reception area, Deke was both relieved and dismayed to see Marika still standing behind her replacement. As he stepped shakily to the counter, the younger man looked up and smiled.
‘Hey, Professor Jones,’ he said excitedly, ‘have you seen this? The comet that’s approaching Earth – it’s not a comet.’
Focused on his otherworldly task, Deke was not paying attention to Gareth’s words.
‘Apparently, it’s changed trajectory,’ Gareth continued, ‘and scans from the ISS have determined it’s made of metal. Not “contains metal” like some comets do, but made of metal. It’s freaky, Professor.’
Marika turned her head from Gareth to the screen he was watching to Deke. Her brow furrowed, a silent plea in her eyes. She began to move her mouth hurriedly but, as earlier, there was no sound.
‘I can’t hear you,’ Deke said.
‘Sorry, Professor,’ Gareth said, increasing his volume. ‘It’s this so-called comet-’
‘No, Gareth, I didn’t mean you. I meant…’
What do I say? Deke thought. How do I tell him that I’m speaking to the spirit of a person he has supplanted in this existence? The whole situation was hard enough for Deke to understand, and he was living it.
Marika spoke faster, but it was still no use. Deke had no idea what she was trying to convey.
Behind Deke, the main doors thundered open followed by rapid footsteps on the tiled floor, then a breathless voice: ‘Can you help me, miss?’
Deke turned and looked at the newcomer. There was something familiar about his deeply set eyes and strong jawline but Deke had no idea where he had seen the man before. The stranger brushed a hand through his untidy hair, struggling to catch his breath.
‘Oh my god,’ Gareth whispered in fright. ‘It’s you.’
Deke glanced at Gareth, who obviously did know the man, then back. He had definitely seen the face before. As the stranger turned his head to look back at the doorway, the rotational movement jogged Deke’s memory. This was the face from the holographic news report – the suspected killer of thirteen people.
Myriad thoughts flooded Deke’s brain.
Could this day get any more bizarre? What are the odds of a serial killer arriving at my place of business on the day reality seems to be unravelling? Have I been placed in this dimension to apprehend this murderer? Or to be one of his victims? What did he mean when he said ‘can you help me miss’?
‘Stop,’ the stranger shouted.
Gareth jumped and lifted his hands from the phone. Deke guessed the receptionist had recognised the murderer much sooner that he had and had attempted to call the police.
‘What do you want?’ Deke asked.
Ignoring Deke, the man looked directly at Marika and said, ‘Please, miss. Please can you help?’
‘You can see her?’ Deke asked, shocked.
‘You can see her?’ the newcomer cried, turning his wild eyes on Deke. ‘How can that be? Is she real? Are you real?’
Do you know Marika?’ Deke asked.
The stranger shook his head. ’Who’s Marika?
‘What’s happening?’ Gareth’s voice was meek. He was trying to simultaneously keep his eyes on Deke, the killer and glance behind him at whoever the object of their conversation was.
‘Have you seen the others, too?’ the killer asked Deke.
‘Professor…’ Gareth whined.
Realising that he and the other man who saw ghosts could not talk freely in front of Gareth, Deke turned to the receptionist.
‘Everything’s fine,’ he lied. ‘I just need some time with… this gentleman in private. I’ll take him to my office so we can talk.’
‘He’ll call the police,’ the man said, glaring at Gareth.
‘Gareth, trust me. We don’t need the police.’
‘But he’s killed people,’ Gareth muttered.
‘No, I haven’t.’
‘We don’t know that he has,’ Deke reasoned. ‘Listen, he can leave some ID with you. A murderer wouldn’t do that, would they?’
Gareth looked confused. Deke could tell he was caught between acting rationally, contacting the authorities, and following the suggestion of a man he admired. He searched the right words to secure Gareth’s trust. Nothing concrete came to mind.
The stranger solved the problem. He pulled out his state ID and placed it on the counter before Gareth.
‘Vaughn Matthew Lynton,’ Gareth read out. He glanced at the holographic image then back to Vaughn. ‘I’ll keep this until you leave.’
Vaughn nodded eagerly, and followed Deke out of the lobby.
‘Why did you agree so easily to leave your ID?’ Deke asked as they walked the university corridors.
‘This whole day has been a nightmare,’ Vaughn said. ‘If you can see the ghosts too, maybe you can explain why everything is crazy. I just want to get somewhere we can talk.’
‘Ghosts, you say? How many have you seen?’
‘I don’t know. Too many. They’re everywhere.’
‘Did you see any before today?’
‘No. I told you. This whole day has been one crazy nightmare.’
Deke hesitated before his next question. ‘I have to ask, but I expect you’re going to say no. Have you killed thirteen people?’
‘No. I swear, no.’
Deke was not assured by the answer. Isn’t that what a killer would say?
A Welcome Change
You know, I’ve heard a few times that you tend to attract the things you spend the most time thinking about. If you think about how much debt you’re in, it’s all you end up seeing. Think too much about something like the Mandela Effect and you’ll keep finding new ways to prove that it exists.
Some people refer to it as manifesting, some people refer to it as coincidence. I like to think of it as a happy accident.
And it might be how I met Jerry.
I was dying to get into a new relationship. Jerry was another face in the crowd, but when he rear-ended my car during rush hour traffic, we ended up exchanging numbers along with insurance information. It might not have been the best meet-cute, but it did lead to a coffee date. The coffee date led to an evening at the bar, which led to me staying the night at his house, which led to him waking me up the next morning to eggs and toast. We officially started dating after about a week. It was such a welcome change in my life.
Getting rear-ended was totally worth it.
After a few months, something seemed… off. I didn’t really put too much thought into it – maybe Jerry was having a bad day? His workload had been increased, without a pay raise to match, and our rent had just gone up at the same time. It makes sense that he’d be a bit tense until we know we can keep everything working smoothly. I picked up a couple of freelance gigs to help make ends meet in the meantime.
“Hey, babe, I’m going to be staying late at the office today,” Jerry said over the phone. “My manager has a deadline to meet, and I offered to help her out. Is that all right?”
“Of course,” I chimed back. “Thanks for letting me know.”
“Yeah. Love you, Lace.”
“Love you too!” I said, hitting the “End Call” button through the latex gloves I wore. Suds of soapy water and chemicals coated the kitchen counter. I still had a lot of cleaning to do.
Jerry was out almost until midnight that day. I didn’t mind, since that gave me plenty of time to make sure the house was spotless by the time he got back.
“Hey, love,” he said with a sigh when he stepped through the doorway, dropping his keys on the table nearby. He looked thoroughly wiped out.
“Hi,” I replied, planting a quick kiss on his mouth. He smelled like fresh soap, and maybe aftershave. “Welcome back.”
“Did anything interesting happen today?”
“Oh, yeah,” I said, opening the closet door so that he could put his coat away. “I finished up one of my side gigs. It went through without a hitch!”
“Nice. Wish I could say the same.” He chuckled, rubbing a hand on the back of his neck. “If I have to look at any more spreadsheets tonight, I’ll…” He stopped, peering into the coat closet.
“Something wrong?” I asked.
He squinted and shook his head, like he was trying to get rid of a pesky thought. “It’s nothing.” He hung up his coat without saying anything else, then closed the door.
I forced a quick smile, telling him that there was a tub of ice cream for him in the freezer. He chuckled again and walked towards the kitchen, eager to escape to the bottom of the tub.
A sigh of relief escaped my mouth. I’d forgotten to clean the closet.
After a few more weeks, we’d settled into our new routine. Jerry’s manager had retired, and the new one gave him a nice pay raise. When he heard the news, he called me to let me know.
“That’s excellent!” I said, cradling my phone between my cheek and my shoulder, typing away at my laptop. “I’m really proud of you.”
“I’m just excited to have a savings account again.” He took a deep breath, then exhaled, blowing static into the phone receiver. “I’m going to have to take another late night today, though. Hopefully only an hour or two.”
I frowned, looking away from the computer screen. That was the third time this week he’d had to stay late. Sure, it was nice to have a little time to myself, but I still wanted time with him, too.
“Is that all right?” he asked after a few seconds of my silence.
“Y-Yeah, it’s fine.”
“I’m sorry, love,” he crooned. “Once this next paycheck comes through, I won’t have to do these late nights anymore.”
“That sounds nice.”
“It will be.” I could hear his smile in his voice. “I’ll see you tonight, okay?”
“Okay. Hurry home,” I said, glancing down at the stained shirt I was wearing. Better change it before he gets back.
I met with my parents for a late lunch a few days later, then spent some time wandering the city and scoping things out. There were several new studio apartments along this street, with huge windows letting everyone see in. I tutted under my breath. No way would I ever be that comfortable with so little privacy.
It made my job so much harder.
This was the last freelance gig I had agreed to for now, so I was looking forward to getting it wrapped up quickly. It was a little different from the others – I had been able to lure them back to my place and take care of them there, but this one would be in his own apartment.
My client wanted him gone. He knew too many secrets and had too little money. The client would spare no expense in making sure he could be eliminated in a way that wouldn’t trace back to them.
I tried looking on the bright side of doing the job this way. Maybe I wouldn’t have to put so much careful thought into cleaning up afterwards. I’d still be careful, of course. But I’d been careless enough to leave parts of my own house still smelling like blood, and it would only be a matter of time before Jerry put the pieces together.
I hoisted my bag more securely onto my shoulder, breathing out a sharp sigh, and stepped out onto the crosswalk to get to the building complex.
The screeching of tires snapped me back to reality. Cars skidded to a halt, swerving to avoid crashing directly into me in my distracted state.
“Sorry!” I called out, holding out my hands and backing right back onto the sidewalk. “So sorry!”
Car horns blared and several drivers scowled my way. One of them hollered out a distant “Watch where you’re going!” and I ducked further back. The back door of a taxi popped open, and a guy stepped out, looking in my direction.
I didn’t have time for this. The target had an expiration date, and I was about to miss it.
Turning on my heel, I started speedwalking to a different crosswalk, hoping to get lost in the bustle of the other pedestrians. It didn’t work, though, and the guy from the taxi clapped a hand firmly on my shoulder.
“Lace, are you okay? What are you doing here?”
I whipped around to see Jerry, a concerned look in his eye but anger in his grip.
“I’m fine,” I replied, brushing his hand away and not answering his other question. Why did he have to show up now, when I’m about to get started on my job?
“Why are you here, Lace?” he repeated, stepping closer.
This was weird. He didn’t usually care this much about where I am. We basically trust each other with everything – except, of course, the murder side gigs I took on to make ends meet. That part tends to be a bit of a red flag.
“Well… why are you here?” I retorted, gripping the strap of my bag. He looked away, rubbing the back of his neck. “You should be at work right now. What gives?”
“Okay, I needed to travel for a specific job, all right?” He sounded sharp, angry, and this might actually be the first time I had heard that edge in his voice. “It’s no big deal.”
“Where are you headed?”
“I could ask you the same.”
I tilted my head in the direction of the target’s apartment. “Right over there. I’m meeting up with… a work client.”
Jerry blinked, looking at me with an almost blank expression. “Are you going to room 201?”
As a matter of fact, I was. How could he know?
My facial expression must’ve given him his answer. He shook his head, softly grabbing my arm above the elbow and maneuvering us so that we were going towards the building. “That’s where I’m headed, too,” he murmured into my ear as we walked. “Don’t worry, we’ll work this out.”
I couldn’t figure out how to put words into a coherent sentence. What was he saying? Why is he going to the same room in the same building as me? What’s happening here?
It was a tense elevator ride, punctuated only by our breathing and the series of questions in my mind. When the doors slid open, Jerry walked right to the apartment in question and slid an inconspicuous key into the handle, turning it to open the door. With a knowing look in his eye, he gestured for me to walk in. His next few words made all my questions click into place.
“Let’s get to work.”
I’ve heard a few times that you tend to attract the things you spend the most time thinking about. If you think about how much debt you’re in, it’s all you end up seeing. Think too much about something like the Mandela Effect and you’ll keep finding new ways to prove that it exists.
I spent a lot of time thinking about killing, and it might be the reason I ended up finding and marrying a killer.
I would never have married you if I had known that you were a serial killer.
I began to notice little things that concerned me the first month we were married. You were narcissistic, always primping in the mirrors on the wall as you passed. I noticed that you never paid any attention to me because you could only focus on yourself.
I always wondered why you disappeared for periods of time just before the newspaper headlined new rape-murders. Your excuses were vague but you really didn’t care what I thought about your absences. I found explicit, sadistic porn magazines hidden in the garage but you said the previous house owner must have left them.
I hate to admit that I began to use your proclivities to my own advantage. If my boss lady made me stay late, all I had to do was mention it to you and her body would be found the next morning. If someone spread nasty gossip about me, you would take care of her. It’s not that this bothered you that much – it was just that it provided new targets for you. You always felt so powerful and strong when you accomplished a new murder. You never mentioned it, but I knew you were the killer.
I hate to admit it but I became enamored of your proficiency and decided to take a stab at it, if you get my drift! That night while you were sleeping, I plunged my favorite butcher knife into your devious heart. You can’t imagine how excited I became as I watched blood seep out of your body. After getting rid of your body, I decided to take over your job and I was very, very good at it! After all, I studied at the hands of a master!
I read people so well, I know their emotions before they even do. Those who are happy are whom I choose to spend my time with. There is one woman, she is there, yet she isn't. She seems to smile at all of the right times, she seems to laugh at jokes, she seems sad when something terrible happens; yet, she just isn't there. She doesn't have those feelings and I know it is all fake. Our group is small, she spends every day with us, she does what we do, follows the latest trends, she doesn't miss a beat.
From time to time, she is gone. Our group assumes there is a secret lover, just someone she doesn't want us to meet. The group doesn't pester, but they do tease about the secret lover. Then, she is gone again.
After a night away from the group, I come home and look in the mirror. Blood covering my face and clothes. I look in the mirror and I see her. The woman, the one who has no emotions. The woman who fakes it every day with her group. I see the woman I am looking back at me after yet another ruthless kill.