Weekly Spooky - Scary Stories to Keep You Up at Night
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Ep.62 – The Weather Outside is Frightful - There's a Blizzard and This Killer's Blood is Just as Cold!

Episode Notes

During a record breaking blizzard two cops answer a call that turns into more than they bargained for when they discover an ax weilding maniac hell bent on spreading Christmas fear!

The Weather Outside is Frightful by Shane Migliavacca

Buy the new book! https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08P4ZF9LG/

Music by Ray Mattis http://raymattispresents.bandcamp.com

Produced by Daniel Wilder

Get Cool Merchandise http://store.weeklyspooky

Support us on Patreon http://patreon.com/IncrediblyHandsome

Contact Us/Submit a Story twitter.com/WeeklySpooky facebook.com/WeeklySpooky WeeklySpooky@gmail.com

This episode sponsored by HenFlix.com

For everything else visit WeeklySpooky.com

Transcription:

It was the worst blizzard the city had seen in over a decade. In time the storm would be known as ‘The Christmas Eve Blizzard of ‘73’, but tonight it was just ‘the storm’.    

Patrolwoman Halsey Stone strained her eyes scanning the sidewalk as the radio car crawled down the street, her partner Officer Roy Soccorso at the wheel. This part of the city had been hit hard by the country's current financial stagnation… decaying buildings, junk piled on the side of the street, broke down cars left to rot in open lots… for Stone this was too much like the poverty she'd grown up around. 

Many of the large buildings were seemingly abandoned, but in truth whole families lived within their walls, as did the normal cast of junkies, drunks, and other shady characters. 

An anonymous caller had reported a woman screaming for help. They'd circled the block a few times, but come up with nothing. The blizzard had driven everyone indoors… between the strong gusts of wind and the visibility being shit, nobody in their right mind would be out here. But here they were, on Christmas Eve no less... not that either of them had anywhere else to be… Stone had left her family behind when she’d moved to the “big city.”, and her partner was estranged from his wife and daughter. 

Stone’s left hand clasped and unclasped her holster. Almost keeping a steady rhythm.

"Enough," snapped Soccorso.

"What?"

"With the holster kid."

Shit. She hadn't realized she'd been doing it. She could get lost in thought sometimes. "Sorry."

"This is just a bullshit call kid."

"Sure." 

Stone took off her uniform cap. She smoothed back some of her long blonde hair that obstinately refused to corporate. 

"What? You think there's something to this call? Probably just some junkie trying to steal a few bucks… or some asshole trying to stay warm by raping a bitc-" He stopped himself. His face reddened a little. "Sorry kid."

Stone adjusted her dirty blonde ponytail. Maybe he was right… 

"How long do you want this to go on?" Soccorso said.

"What? Your shitty attitude?"

"No Okie. Looking for our phantom suspect."

God she hated that. When somebody back at the precinct found out about her family coming from the Ozarks, one of the assholes had started calling her ‘Okie’. They'd got it from some old song, and it stuck like glue.

"You got somewhere to be?" She said, somehow making it sound like “fuck you”.

He shot her a look. "No, just think our time could be spent better."

She drummed her fingers on the dash. All she wanted to do was bounce Soccorso's head off the dash… the anger was always there, had always been there. Once it scared her, now it was a friend.

"You know what, Okie? I'm going to make it your call. Do we continue looking?"

Stone took a deep breath. "My choice? No bitching?"

"Your call."

Since she’d been a kid, she’d had a “feeling”… she could always tell when something bad was coming. Stone had that feeling now.

"Another time around. If there's nothing… we go."

"Okay. Fair enough."

Soccorso turned the corner, as outside the wind gusted. Stone could feel the car move a little pushed by the wind.

"We've been at this dance for almost a month now kid, I'm supposed to be training you… be your partner… and I know jack and shit about you."

That was the way she liked it. There was too much in her past. 

"What's there to know? I'm from Missouri."

"You should open up more. Hang out with some of us."

"Why? You guys constantly make fun of me… where I came from."

"That's just ribbing you… no different than any other rookie. You make it harder on yourself anyway, acting like a brat."

"Sorry I'm just not Miss Fun and Games."

The woman came out of the blanket of falling snow, running at their car screaming. There was blood on her hands and jacket. 

Soccorso swerved the car, and ended up in a snowbank. Stone was already undoing her seat belt. 

"Fuck! You okay kid?"

"Yeah."

The woman came running towards them. Stone started to open the door.

"Oh god, officer I'm so sorry." 

"Ma'am, take it easy. Is that your blood? Are you injured?"

She shook her head. "No." The woman was shaking. "His-his blood."

Soccorso tried getting his door open, but the snowbank wouldn't give as he slammed the door repeatedly against the packed snow. 

Stone took the panicked women towards their car.

"What's your name ma'am?"

"Dorothy. It's Dorothy."

"Okay Dorothy, I need you to get in the back of the car."

Dorothy hesitated.

"What? Why?"

"You'll be safe. Until we can get somebody to look at you."

Soccorso finally gave up on getting his door open. 

Dorothy slid in, and sat in the middle of the backseat. A steel mesh separated Dorothy from Soccorso. 

"You'll be safe here. Now can you tell me what happened Dorothy?"

Dorothy told her how she'd been cutting through the alleyway on her way home from the corner store when a large man had come out of a nook in the alley and chased after her. When she fell on the icy ground he grabbed her. Terrified she pulled a metal nail file from her purse, stuck it into his leg, and made her escape. 

Dorothy pointed to the alley across the street a little ways back.

"It was there."

"Thank you Dorothy." Stone said. "You’re very brave. My partner will take care of you until an ambulance arrives.” 

"I will?"

Dorothy looked up at Stone, perhaps sensing what was about to happen. "I looked into his eyes, officer… there was nothing inside."

Stone tied to reassure her. "It's going to be okay."

"Kid, don't even think-" Soccorso said.

She cut him off. "Call it in. Get back up."

Stone slammed the door shut before he could protest any more.

Stone took off down the street towards the alley Dorothy had indicated. 

This was it… that feeling of dread that she’d felt. Her heart felt like it was going to break free from her chest. 

She made it to the alley. He could still be here… nursing his wound she thought. Ultimately he wasn’t in the alley… but something was.

The nail file. He'd pulled it out… now he'd bleed more and make her job easier. Stone followed the blood down another alley and out on to a deserted street. 

She had never been much of a hunter. Her dad had tried to teach her, but her patience was lacking. He'd seemed so disappointed in her, but those times out in the woods with him, just walking, those were some of her favorite memories of growing up. 

But now her father was spending another Christmas in prison. She sighed.

From somewhere above, Christmas music drifted down. Hark the Herald Angels. 

The heavy snowfall was quickly covering the blood. 

Stone came out of the alley. She heard voices and a door close. 

She spun around, her gun at the ready. 

A young couple stood there holding Christmas gifts, a look of shock etched on their faces. Their little dog on a leash yelped at her.

The man raised his hands dropping the gifts.

"Have you seen anybody suspicious.. other than me… maybe bleeding?"

The dog continued yelping. The man pulled hard on its leash. "Shut up Mitzy." 

Stone wouldn't mind slamming the guy against the wall. 

"No, officer." 

"I need you both to go back inside. There's a dangerous and wounded man in the vicinity."

Stone crossed the street. The trail continued down the side of the street past a large abandoned building. Then it stopped. 

Ahead of her, Stone heard a loud metallic ‘clank’… like a metal door or lid closing. 

She regretted leaving Soccorso behind. “No” Stone thought, “This is where I show them what I can do”. 

She crouched. Slowly she peeked around the corner of the building until she had a full view of the small street that lay beyond. 

There, next to an abandoned theater, was a metal hatch set in the ground. Those led to basements Soccorso had told her. Stone, gun at the ready inched towards it. Snow had been brushed off… very recently. 

And there was a bloody handprint on the hatch. “Got you bastard” she thought!

She pulled a rag from her jacket. There was no way she was taking a chance of fucking up the evidence. 

Her service pistol ready, Stone pulled on the hatch. Locked… of course. She'd have to find another way in. 

Then she heard it… the rustle of wings. Stone looked up. 

Perched on a rusty metal railing was a large white owl. It stared at her with its large luminous eyes… eyes that looked into her. She stared at it transfixed. 

Then it struck her what it was sitting on… the railing of a fire escape!

She ran over and discovered the bottom of the escape’s ladder was just out of reach. Frantically she looked around for something she could use to get up there. 

And there it was, sitting against the far wall of an adjacent building. An old plastic chair. She carried the chair over, and on tiptoes she reached and pulled herself up. All that tree climbing as a kid paid off. 

The fire escape led to a locked second story metal door. Not far from it was a window set above a narrow ledge. She stepped over the metal railing, and on to the ledge.

The wind howled. She feared a really strong gust might blow her off her perch on the ledge. Her feet knocked snow free as she inched towards the window. 

Finally she made it to the window. Using the flashlight from her belt Stone smashed through the glass and climbed through the window into the dark interior. 

She played the beam of the flashlight over the floor and walls of what had once been an office. The broken glass crumbled underfoot as she made her way through the room. 

Stone crept into the hallway, and soon entered the main theater area. Paint was chipping off the walls, and the seats that hadn't been ripped out or defaced in some way were covered in years of dust. She headed towards the stage area. Her snow covered boots kicked up dust as she moved, leaving wet tracks on the dirty floor. Stone climbed onto the stage. 

An ugly looking green couch sat by itself at the center of the stage, the curtain pulled shut behind it. She opened the curtain and entered the backstage. 

Stones flashlight beam caught a blank white face. She almost pulled her trigger before she realized a mannequin stood before her. 

She walked past the expressionless mannequin. 

"Fuck you asshole."

There was a long dark hallway that led off the backstage area. Old mattresses were stacked in a haphazard pile, stained with god knows what. A musty smell permeated the air. 

A large wood wardrobe sat in the middle of the hall, rotting. Stone raised her weapon in her left hand, and reached out with her right. She yanked the door open, causing it to fall off in the process. Stone backed up… it was empty.

Continuing on, she passed  a pile of broken props and raggedy costumes on racks, before arriving at a metal staircase leading to the basement.

She headed down, the metal clanking under her boots. The basement hallway was lined with brick, and appeared to be in better shape then the walls up above. 

Another foul smell filled the air down here… the smell of something rotten.

A mattress lay on the floor. Next to it sat stacks of books and empty soup cans. Someone was living here. On the wall were taped to it were newspaper clippings and excerpts from books and magazines… all concerning ax murders. Above them, scrawled in blood it read: THE AXEMAN COMETH! 

“Oh great, he’s got a secret identity” 

At the far end of the room was a metal door. A large rusty chain was wound through the handles and secured with a padlock. 

Before she could reach for the door, something wet hit her face. Stone turned her beam upwards to see multiple severed arms hanging from large strands of butcher’s twine. 

Not thinking she bolted forward and crashed into the metal doors with all her might. The doors tore from their rusty hinges and crashed to the floor with Stone in tow.

She quickly sprung to her feet and swung her flashlight around the new room. Taped to the walls in various sizes were crosses made out of paper. She inspected one of the crosses on the wall closest to her to find it was made from Bible pages. At the far end of the room was some kind of demented altar made primarily of lashed together bones. A large metal cross stood at its center surrounded by a multitude of crimson candles which filled the surrounding air with acrid smoke. 

"I've taken their sin." A deep voice said from behind her.

Startled, Stone spun around to see a brute of a man covered in shoddy, blood stained clothes standing in the doorway cradling an ax in his arms as if it were a newborn baby. Around his right leg a rag was tied where he'd been stabbed by Dorothy.

"I cut it from their bodies."

"You killed them."

"Freed them. They died without sin."

He walked forward towards her with a limp.

"Freeze you mother fucker!" Stone barked, her voice trembling.  

He stopped in his tracks.

“I was chosen.” He held out the ax. “It chose me.”

"Shut up!” She didn’t want to hear his psycho sales pitch. “Put the ax on the ground and place your hands behind your head."

He stared at her as if not comprehending.

“I’ve been to another plane… ascended. I was sent back to do their work here.”

"Do it fucker!" Stone screamed, her anger getting the best of her.

He set the ax down tenderly, putting his hands together behind his head.

"Kneel."

He did as he was told with some effort.

She moved forward and kicked the ax away. She noticed before it’s flight that it was covered in strange symbols.The wind outside sounded like whispers in the air… calling her. 

"I can't help but notice you’re left-handed" he said.

This caught her off guard enough that the man was able to lunge at her legs with a pocket knife, catching her in the side of the right leg. The .38 and the flashlight fell from her hands as she instinctively touched her wound. Stone retreated as painfully he stood and retrieved his ax.

"Do you know what it's like to die the painful death of a million screams in silence every day?"

Stone fell against the wall, leaving a trail of blood in her wake.

"Then they came to me. Angels. Took my pain. Gave me this ax. God teaches us with pain. That's how we become worthy of his love. Through pain."

He limped forward. Stone’s head began swimming wildly.

"Would you like to meet God?" he asked, raising the ax.

She felt the cold metal sticking in her leg. With all her remaining strength, and channeled anger, Stone pulled the knife from her wound. The pain was immeasurable. 

“You first!” Stone screamed.

She plunged the blade deep within his breast causing him to howl in agony. Stone pulled out the blade and brought it down again… and again… and again… until blackness took her.


She awoke to find the man in a fetal position, sobbing loudly.

Stone crawled forward and found her .38. The man started to slowly rise, using the ax to prop himself up.

"Don't you move." Stone said hoarsely.

"I could have helped you." 

He stood fully on shaking legs.

"I-I said don't move."

She took aim. Her arms felt like rubber.

"Cleanse the world of sin."

He limped towards her dragging the ax along the ground.

"Stop." She said, her voice breaking.

"You see it, don't you? See them… it’s in your eyes. In your soul.” He said reaching out for her with a bloody hand. 

Stone squeezed the trigger, firing a round into his chest and another into his forehead. His brains exited his head in a geyser of gore. He fell to his knees, the ax clattering to the ground. Then he fell forward… his body shuddered and lay still. The darkness took her once more.


Stone saw her parents playing with her as a child, followed by the great white owl, swooping down from the sky. It landed in a tree, watching her. It spoke to her… "Okie? Okie?"


"Okie? Okie?" Soccorso called from somewhere out in the hall.

"He-Here!" She said. Stone wasn't sure if he'd hear her.

He stumbled into the room. "Hang on kid."

He put a hand over her wound, pressing tight.

"Back-up is coming. Stay awake okay?"

She grabbed his arm.

"God, my corns are killing me after tracking your damn ass all over town.”

"I'm dying, and your bitching about your feet?!!"

"Shut the fuck up, you’re not dying… they make them tough where you’re from, right Missouri."

She nodded and smiled.

“Well, Merry Christmas Missouri.”

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Ep.61 – Babes in Terrorland/Santa's Letters - A Blood Red Christmas is in Store for You!

Episode Notes

Tonight we have a DOUBLE FEATURE! Two wicked stories! One about a cute toy shop with a dark secret and another about someone who is playing a DEADLY GAME of Secret Santa...

Babes in Terrorland/Santa's Letters by Morgan Moore

Get the Book: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08P4ZF9LG/ref=cm_sw_em_r_mt_dp_X.p2FbW448V8Z

Music by Ray Mattis http://raymattispresents.bandcamp.com

Produced by Daniel Wilder

Get Cool Merchandise http://store.weeklyspooky

Support us on Patreon http://patreon.com/IncrediblyHandsome

Contact Us/Submit a Story twitter.com/WeeklySpooky facebook.com/WeeklySpooky WeeklySpooky@gmail.com

This episode sponsored by HenFlix.com

For everything else visit WeeklySpooky.com

Transcription:

Babes in Terrorland

As with many holiday seasons before it, parents and children flocked to Barron’s Toy Store, in the village of Greenseas. 

In the middle of the crowd was Justin Barron, a fourteen year old with an apron featuring a handsewn version of the store’s logo in the middle. Justin was staying with his grandmother, the owner of the store, for the holidays while his parents were away on a business trip. He was enlisted to lend a hand almost immediately upon his arrival with it being the store’s busiest time of the year. 

Justin could never understand how she managed it all on her own… but she had been doing it ever since his grandfather died a few years ago, and was managing it successfully somehow.

Justin moved around the store as best he could seeing how crowded the small store was. The building itself was an old brownstone with the store situated on the ground floor and Mrs. Barron’s home on the second floor. 

The store could become a claustrophobic nightmare when business was booming, but he managed stocking the shelves and helping out customers as best he could. 

By the time three o’ clock came around Justin was spent and was ready for the day to be over so he could finally get some rest. Those thoughts were interrupted when he laid eyes on Cathy Wilcox.

He had known her since fourth grade and had a crush on her that never faded. Justin always wanted to tell her how he felt, but he could never muster up the courage to do it. Somehow he could picture everything he wanted to say, but anytime he saw her it all vanished.

Justin felt himself beginning to melt as he kept looking at her. His face turned bright red and immediately Justin began to do some busy week around the area, trying to disguise the fact that he had been staring at her. 

Justin’s heart beat faster and faster as if somebody was pounding away on a drum, but that came to an immediate halt when he felt a gentle tap on his shoulder. He turned around and saw Cathy there.

“Hi Justin.” Cathy said sweetly.

“H-hi Cathy.” Justin stammered, his face feeling like it was on fire.

Cathy gave him an intimate smile, her blue eyes seeming to shimmer to Justin. “Mind if I ask you a question?”

Uh-oh Justin thought. She’s gonna chew me out for looking at her, and in the middle of the store too. Everybody’s going to think I’m some perv. “Sure.” Justin responded after a brief pause.

“Could you help me and my sister real quick?”

What a relief Justin thought. “Oh, yeah, for sure. What do you guys need?” He asked, she then began to walk away down an aisle, Justin followed close behind her.

“My sister found something she wants but I can’t reach it and neither can she. I saw you and thought I’d ask you to bring it down for me, since your so tall and all.” Cathy explained.

“Ohhhh. Yeah I should be able to get it for you.” Justin replied with a smile.

Cathy returned the smile. Man she’s sooooo cute Justin thought as they kept walking beside one another.

The two eventually got to their location and joined Cathy’s sister Janet. Upon seeing Justin and the apron identifying him as a store employee, Janet pointed upwards towards the top of the shelf she was standing at.

“That one please.” Janet asked Justin.

Justin looked up to where the child pointed and saw a clown doll. The doll had been in the store ever since he could remember. It had a wooden head and hands and was dressed in a hand sewn outfit colored silver and blue. A jester hat adorned it’s head; bells dangling down playfully. 

Justin had always thought it looked creepy, and other people must have thought the same thing, as the doll had been around the store ever since he was a child. But maybe, finally, someone had found the doll appealing and wanted to give it a home.

Justin smiled and reached up, just barely able to get to the doll. He got a grip on it and brought it down, handing it gently to the little girl.

“Here you go.” Justin said.

Janet smiled as she held and stared at the doll. Cathy turned to Justin and gave him a big smile, he returned it in kind.

“I want him!” Janet responded energetically as she held the clown doll up to the two.

“How much is it?” Cathy asked Justin.

“I’m not sure, it doesn’t look like it has a tag on it. Let’s ask my grandma.” Justin said.

They arrived at the register, to find Justin’s grandmother smiling at the three. “There you are Justin, what cute friends you have there” she said. Cathy blushed lightly at the comment.

“Hey grandma,how much is this? There’s no tag on it or even a sign on the shelf it was on.”

His grandmother’s smile turned to a slight frown. “Oh honey, I’m so sorry. That doll isn’t for sale. I only keep it on the shelf for decoration.” She explained as sweetly as possible.

“But I want it.” Janet told her. “Are sure you’re not able to sell it?” Cathy asked.

“Unfortunately I am dear. My husband made the doll many years ago for Justin’s mother, and it has too much sentimental value for me to sell it… it’s been watching over the store for years” Justin’s grandma explained to the three.

Janet frowned, tears starting to well up. 

Justin smiled a little bit at the two and at his grandma. “It’s alright. I’ll put him back.” Justin said. He then made a motion with his head for Cathy and Janet to follow him.

The three of them made their way back to the aisle. Janet looked utterly devastated that she couldn’t have the doll, and Cathy looked equally saddened for her sister. 

Once they got back to the aisle, Justin put the doll back up. He then turned to Cathy with a small grin. She tilted her head in confusion.

“What is it? Why are you grinning like that.” She asked him. “Because, I know of a way to get the doll for Janet.” He explained. Janet’s face brightened up at once. “Really?! How?!” Justin moved a bit closer to Cathy so that he could talk to her in semi privacy, Janet frowning when she realized what was going on.

“My grandma is going out to a party tonight and I’ll be alone for hours. Come on by around eight  and I’ll let you in. We can get the doll then.” He explained to her.

“But she’ll notice won’t she?” Cathy asked.

“Don’t worry, I’ll take care of it. Just be here by eight.” 


Later that night Justin made his way downstairs to the store,and opened the front door to find Cathy and Janet standing there. Justin frowned a tiny bit as the two girls made their way inside.

“Why’d you bring your sister?” He asked, doing his best to hide his disappointment that it wasn’t just Cathy.

“She wanted to come and I couldn’t get her to stay home without spilling the beans. I told my parents I was going out with friends and she threatened to tell them what was really going on.” Cathy explained.

“I mean it isn’t entirely untrue. You are hanging out with a friend.” Justin said with a small smile. “I’m going!” Janet blurted out and ran towards the aisle with the doll.

“How are you going to explain this to your grandma?” Cathy asked as she walked past a display of a toy war scene.

“Oh. I’m going to tell her I ordered a pizza and just forgot to lock the door on my way back up. I’ll take some money out of the register and hide a few other toys, maybe knock some displays over to make it look like somebody broke in and robbed the place.” He explained.

“That’s pretty clever. Mean… but clever.” She responded as she stopped by the register, Justin stopping in front of her.

“Hey what can I say.” Justin said.

Cathy smiled a bit as she fiddled with some small toys by the register. She looked around and then returned her gaze to Justin. “Why are you doing this for us? Why are you risking getting in trouble?”

His mind raced at a million miles an hour, trying to figure out how to explain why he was so willing to help her sister out. No, help her out. Before he could give it any more thought he blurted out his response.

“It’s because I like you I've always liked you I think you’re sweet and cute, and I just wanted to help because I like you and thought maybe you’d like me back if I did it!”

He gasped for breath. 

Justin closed his eyes and took several deep breaths, eventually regaining control of his breathing. After a few brief minutes he opened his eyes, finding that Cathy was staring at him, her mouth dropped open some and eyes wide. 

Dread filled Justin, his heart beating harder and harder. Oh no, she’s gonna leave and never speak to me again and tell everybody I’m a loser and freak.

But she surprised him by smiling at him, warmly and widely. Justin slowly smiled back. They brought their faces close to one another, only a hairs breadth apart.

The scream that ripped through the air put an end to that.

“Janet!” Cathy called out and rushed off towards the location the scream emanated from, Justin following in her wake.

The duo arrived to find Janet laying on the floor screaming and crying in agony, her eye sockets bleeding profusely. As for the former residents of those yawning black holes, they were in the hands of the clown doll. The toy turned its head and looked at them. 

Justin and Cathy bolted from the aisle, the clown doll right behind them. As they ran down the aisles Cathy shrieked as other toys began to spring from the shelves and joined the hunt.

Stuffed bears and lions pawed at them with vicious claws that sprang from their plush paws as metal model cars pelted down on the teens like rain, leaving bruises and cuts. 

Justin managed to grab a baseball bat from a nearby barrel and started swinging away, as Cathy grabbed a stick horse and did the same. The two sent toys flying left and right, but more and more came forth.

Soon Justin and Cathy found themselves surrounded. They continued to swing away, but soon the terror toys grabbed their weapons and pulled them away, leaving the pair defenseless. 

Justin and Cathy looked at each other and took hold of each others hand, ready to accept their doomed fate.

The store lights came alive and bathed everything in a warm fluorescent glow, causing the pair to start. 

“Oh no, look at this mess.” the voice of Justin’s grandmother rang out. The older woman looked around at all of the toys, who now looked back at her. She stopped a few feet away from the rattled teens.

“Grandma! W-what’s going on!? Why are you home!?” Justin spat out in a mix of confusion and anger.

“And why did they attack us and… my sister… my god, Janet!” Cathy started but soon stopped as she succumbed to raw grief.

The senior shook her head and sighed. “I suppose I should explain. You see these toys, all of them, they come alive every nightfall.”

“B-but why… how!? ” Justin demanded.

“Justin, dear, your grandfather...your grandfather made them that way. Business hasn’t been the same for years, not since that damn department store opened up. Then when we learned your grampa didn’t have long left… he was afraid of what would happen to the store… to me. It was his opinion that without any help the store would have to shut down, so he decided to create some help.

Your grandfather had come across a strange scroll during the war, in a bombed out toy store… a store he swore was filled with screaming, burning toys. You can guess the rest. These toys have been cleaning, stocking, and providing security… as you have seen… here ever since. These wonderful toys, they’re loyal and always have been… always will be. 

Justin and Cathy were taken aback. They believed it all, after-all how could they not. But something still bothered them.

“Oh thank god! We’re safe then!” Cathy told them. The two smiled as they looked at each other and then at Justin’s grandma. But the frowns faded as they saw that the elder in front of them was grim.

“G-grandma…” Justin started with a shaky voice.

“I’m sorry love. But you were trespassing. You know I don’t like you coming down here at night, to say nothing of your friend here and her sister. The store was closed. Besides...they don’t move during the day, but they can still hear. When I left for the party they told me about your little plan. That’s why I came back early.”

“You mean you’re going to turn us into the police?” Cathy asked.

“No. Unfortunately for you two, I leave all security matters up to them. Your fate is up to them and I believe I know what they will do with you.” She explained. 

The toy soldiers from the war scene filed in, aiming their guns at the teenagers. Justin and Cathy’s faces displayed pure and utter terror.

With that Justin’s grandmother left and made her way to the stairs. She looked over at the two again and shook her head and sighed. Then, with a flick of her wrist she turned off the lights to the store. 

A stream of sharp ‘BANGS’ filled the store.

Santa Letters

Every year millions of children send letters to Santa Claus, expressing their wishes of what they hope will be under their tree come Christmas day. 

But, what if somebody used those letters for a not so joyful purpose? It has happened and the following is purported to be the true account of those events. This is the case of the ‘Circleville Santa Letter Murders’.

In 1978, the citizens of the small Ohio town of Circleville were beginning their Christmas season like any other; planning the December holiday while eating Thanksgiving dinner, making travel arrangements, and all the other hullabaloo that comes with the impending season. 

While the adults were occupied, the children of Circleville were planning as well; once more taking up the job of writing letters to inform Old Saint Nick of their Yuletide desires. Even the local schools were caught up in the fun, setting up small deposit mailboxes for the kids to place letters in.

All was well in Circleville as December came and Christmas magic filled the air even more than it already had throughout November. Everything was peace and joy... unfortunately that was all about to change.

In the early morning of December seventh, ten year old Dylan Jones was delivering papers for the Circleville Herald like he always did. When he reached the house of Joe and April Robinson he was about to be greeted with a horrendous site. 

Jones went around back to deliver the paper as he always did when he discovered the mutilated body of five year old Mary-Kate Robinson, a letter to Santa Claus nailed to her forehead. The boy screamed so loud that almost the entire neighborhood was jarred awake and came rushing to the scene. 

Police questioned the family, friends, teachers, everybody within the small community to try and figure out any clues and leads as to who may have committed this horrible crime, but no answers emerged. Unfortunately for the town it was not the end of this tragedy.


On December twelfth around twelve o'clock in the afternoon, eight year old Michael Stollings was on his way to the park to meet up with a group of friends. At two o’clock his friends called Michael’s house and informed his parents that he had never showed. Immediately the Stollings phoned the police, worried about their son, the fate of the Robinson girl foremost in their minds.

It wasn’t long before the police found Michael, much like Mary-Kate Robinson; dead with his body mutilated and a letter to Santa Claus nailed to his forehead.


The next day sheriff Patrick o’Kyle held a press conference in which he vowed to put a stop to this chaos. Curfews were put in place to make sure children of all ages were home by five o’clock at night, and the youngsters were also advised to travel together in groups. Soon things looked to be improving and a week went by without anything happening. That was soon to change.


December twentieth was another quiet day. 

Fred and Darlene Brooks headed out for a long overdue date night, leaving fifteen year old Tonya Wisecup in charge of their children. 

The pair returned home at close to midnight to find their home bathed in darkness. Upon entering the house the two noticed a smell they later said reminded them of rotting meat. They didn’t think much of it as they had recently been battling with raccoons getting stuck in the attic and dying. Tired and tipsy the Brooks went to bed, assuming that their babysitter was down in the basement asleep, spending the night as she tended to when she had school the next day.

When they awakened the following morning, the couple went downstairs to check on Tonya and see if she had indeed stayed overnight. What they discovered was nothing short of a bloodbath. Their children; John, Laura, Victoria were all dead… letters nailed to their heads, but this time there was a chilling new twist; a limb from each child was placed under the small Christmas tree set up in the basement.

As for Tonya, she laid discarded on the floor, cut from neck to groin and left to bleed out.


Later that day the city announced a new curfew for all residents, stating everyone in town must be home and have their businesses closed by four p.m.. Sheriff o’Kyle also advised residents take extra precautions to keep their homes locked and defended. 

The city became a ghost town come four o’clock. The chimes of clocks that rang the curfew hour ushered in eerie quiet. December twenty second and twenty third came and went with no incidents, but the town remained firmly on guard.

The morning of December twenty fourth came with no surprises as well. It was a dreary winter day; the gloom and holiday cheer mixing together like cold and warm fronts.

Circleville had started to loosen up slightly, something not hard to do considering it was Christmas Eve. The curfew was still in effect, but that seemed to almost add to the magic of the holiday as families stayed bundled in together,celebrating in warm homes that stood in contrast to the cold outside.  

Night came and the hours drifted along. It seemed that perhaps these terrible crimes were at an end. 

Christmas morning came and the police who had stood guard in the city streets throughout the night started to head back to the station, ready to go home to their own families to celebrate. But before anybody could leave a call came in. Somehow the killer had struck again, right under their noses. Twice.

The first victim was ten year old Jackson Devins who was found dead in his bedroom by his parents, his window pried open. At the same time police also discovered the body of six year old Addison Fergurson who’s body was found in a shed in her family’s backyard.

This sent the town over the edge into a full blown frenzy. Who was responsible for all of these deaths? How could anybody have broken into the homes and committed the crimes without being caught? Who was next?

Police set up barricades to close off the town and began a city wide manhunt, joined by the town’s residents. 

All day they searched, and the next day, and the next. For a solid week they searched, but no leads arose and no culprit was found. 

The new year came and it seemed that, finally, there was peace. No murders had been committed since Christmas, and law enforcement officials theorized that there would be no more incidents since the season was over. 

On January tenth Circleville held a citywide memorial service in honor of the victims and has held a similar service every Christmas Eve since.

These murders left many questions, all starting with who the murderer was. Upon reflection, they stated that they believed the murderer, due to the use of the letters the children wrote to Santa Clause, had to work for either the postal service or the school. As such the police conducted mass interviews for all post office and school employees.

While everybody interviewed seemed on edge, nobody stood out as being a psychopathic killer. As the weeks rolled on the case began to go cold. Without conclusive evidence to form any leads, the city and police made the controversial decision to stop the investigation.

1979 continued on, the tragedy still hanging over the town of Circleville like the spectre of death. 

People slowly started to return to what they could call a “normal” life, with only hushed whispers of the “The Santa Letter Murders.” remaining. 

Months went by and soon it was November. The Christmas spirit began to grow in the town once more, but it was tempered by fears of a new murder spree possibly arising.

In preparation, Circleville schools announced they would not put up letter boxes for kids this year as a safety precaution. The post office took action as well; stating that any letters addressed to Santa Claus would go straight to the police for protection. Everything that the town could think of they implemented, hoping to avoid another year of mayhem.

December 1979 began and ended with no murders. This left everyone baffled. Why did the killer not strike again? What was it about this year compared to the last to make him or her not lash out? 

Perhaps the crimes would be nothing more than a freak event, an unsolved mystery like so many others. That feeling continued into the next year, and for the next, and on and on.

To this day nobody knows who could have been behind the murders. 

Christmas in Circleville was never quite the same, but the years dulled the fear somewhat, and the police allowed the post office to accept letters to Santa once more… but did not allow the school to re-open their drop box. 

The same question always pops up; who did it? While law enforcement never did name a suspect or conduct any arrests, o’Kyle later said that he had a theory of the murderer’s identity. 

He suspected that elementary school teacher Linda Morrison was the killer after discovering her dead from suicide in January 1980. His reasoning was based on the fact that she was the one responsible for handing the letters to the post office in 1978. 

It was his belief that she made photocopies of the letters before delivering them. As for how she would have selected her victims, o’Kyle claimed that she did so based on which children in the school were receiving discipline for bad behavior. 

However there was no concrete evidence.

Perhaps it was Morrison, trying to enact a form of discipline on the children who acted out and the parents who raised their children to act as such. Though perhaps it was a disgruntled post office employee. Maybe it was somebody else who worked at one of the schools. Some theories suggest it was o’Kyle himself or another person within law enforcement. 

Doubtless, no one will ever know for sure. 

All that is known is that the fear lingers in the cool, crisp winter air that one day, the devilish deliverer will once again return, bringing Christmas terror to the town.

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Ep.60 – Welcome to Tiny Christmas, Iowa! - The Secret Santa Here is DEADLY

Episode Notes

An overworked business woman takes a new job in the midwest winter wonderland town of Tiny Christmas, Iowa. As her Christmas spirit starts to warm up like a hot cup of cocoa something isn't quite right and giftwrap isn't all that's hiding things.

Welcome to Tiny Christmas, Iowa! by Michelle Adler

Music by Ray Mattis http://raymattispresents.bandcamp.com

Produced by Daniel Wilder

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This episode sponsored by HenFlix.com

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Transcription:

I let out a sigh as my Uber passed the "Now Entering Tiny Christmas Iowa" sign. "According to the sign it's the Tiniest most Christmasiest place in all of Iowa!" My Uber driver Ajeet chuckled, sensing my displeasure. "I'm sure it's just as Christmasy as all fuck" I say, trying to come off cheery and almost succeeding until that curse word at the end. I lied on my interview.  I hate Christmas, I hate the midwest, the only thing I know about Iowa is that it’s a Slipknot album, and I have never designed a window display in my life. I am just an unemployable, grumpy, freelance graphic designer from New York City, trying to find any work that isn’t stocking shelves at a grocery store. To be honest, I didn’t realize the position was out of state until after I’d applied. I’d initially intended to turn the job down as I’d never had any desire to live anywhere other than the city that never sleeps. The high-rise condos, rats, street vendors, homeless people on every street corner, bodegas also on every corner, and constant bustle are things I’ve lived for, but at this point, maybe it’s time to stop pretending I could make it in NYC anymore. It wasn’t like I had a support system either. No family left and no friends to speak of.  I hadn’t even been on a date in the last two years. My social life revolved mostly around my interactions with my landlord, none of which were pleasant.  I heard that she was so happy I was leaving apparently she even threw me a goodbye party.. After I left. I lived for my work, but things had been so hard lately. Maybe It was time for me to give up.  Maybe it was time for me to start over. “Ma’am, that’s all good and fine, but we’re here.”  Ajeet said while simultaneously unlocking the doors. I hadn’t realized we’d even stopped… or that I was talking outloud.  I guess it had been awhile since I’d been around other people. I started to open the door before even looking at where I was. When I did, I pulled it back shut. “This can’t be right,”  I mumbled, fumbling for my phone to pull up the address I’d been given.  I was sure I was supposed to be in front of a house, my new house, or, I don’t know, anything, but instead we sat in a desolate parking lot on the outskirts of what was hopefully the correct town at least. Though it looked anything but Christmassy. In front of me, bloomed an industrial complex with a small collection of seemingly long abandoned warehouses and factories.  I felt a jolt of fear ping through my body.  It was quiet here, too quiet. Quiet enough for me to be raped and murdered without anyone noticing. “This is as far as I can take you,” I jumped as I realized Ajeet was already grabbing my luggage from the trunk. “What? Why?” So no murder then? “It’s a small town and a beautiful day.  Why not take a nice stroll through town on your way? I think the farmer’s market goes till 3..” He dodged. “No.. I-I don’t want to walk and it’s 30 degrees!” I said while repositioning the luggage he’d removed back into the uber,  “I just want you to finish driving me. What’s the big deal, it’s your job for christ’s sake!” Ajeet paused. “Listen, I don’t go in there. Tiny Christmas is not a town for people like me” He pointed to his turban. “They’re racist…?” “I don’t know what you want to call it, but I just don’t want to spend the afternoon stuck there while they try to convert me… again.  Last time I didn’t even get to take a lunch break and I’m really hungry today, so you’re on your own.” He said as he finished re-removing my luggage. “Like I said, small town, very friendly, I’m sure you’ll have no problem finding the place.” “W-well, I personally respect the Islamic religion” I chased him as he walked back around to the drivers side door and pulled it open, “I’ll even buy you lunch, how’s that?!” “Nope. Therapist said I need to start defining my boundaries or people are going to walk all over me for the rest of my life, “He slammed the door and pressed the lock down, “Enjoy your stay in Tiny Christmas, I’m sure you’ll have a wonderful time.” With that he and his Nissan Altima, pulled out of the lot. “Wait! You can’t be serious!!” “And I’m Sikh, you asshole!” He called back as he sped away. I stood there shivering in the cold, confused and becoming increasingly angry at my predicament. “No, you’re the asshole,” I grumbled as I grabbed my luggage and resigned myself to walking into town. As I’d mentioned before, I was basically left to fend for myself in an abandoned wasteland.  A beautiful young woman such as myself should not have to subject herself to such a dangerous situation.  I pushed through the dystopian scenery with a confident stride, preparing myself for whatever unsavory situation lay ahead of me.  However when I finally rounded the last warehouse, I was not prepared for what I saw. Ahead of me, across a set of train tracks, lay the most adorable little downtown I had ever laid my eyes on.  As I walked onward the air became filled with the scent of pine, cinnamon, and roasted chestnuts.  The streets were packed with happy looking townsfolk, each one going out of their way to say hello as I passed. And Ajeet was right, there was a farmers market! As nice as this all was, I have to admit I was a little uncomfortable with the level of friendliness and Christmas I was experiencing. I felt a bit of guilt well up inside me for not immediately being drawn into the merriness. I managed to brush it off quickly, though.  I wasn’t wrong, they were the ones that were wrong. As I slowly became increasingly annoyed at the pleasantries I happened upon a coffee shop. “Welcome to Christmas Coffee!” An overweight elderly woman hollered in an alarmingly cheery tone as the door jingled closed behind me. "Would you be able to point me in the direction of 616 Pine St?" I am an unemployed graphic designer with no chit chat skills. "Oh! I know who you are! You're the new window display coordinator from the big city!" "Well yes, and I'm running late--" "Oh sweetie, you look just about chilled to the bone! Did some ethnic cab driver refuse to take you the whole way?" She asked. I wondered how common of a thing that was. "Here you go," she poured a cup of coffee and slid it to me "free coffee, on the house! I'm Amanda by the way." I took the coffee avoiding her outstretched arm, "that's really very nice of you, I'll be sure to stop back when I'm settled, but I'm running late right now, so.." Yeah, I was never coming back. "Oh right, 616 Pine was it? Make a left then it's two blocks down. You couldn't even miss it if you wanted to!" I thanked her and sped out the door before she could continue to waste my time. I took a sip of the coffee as I walked out into the holiday pandemonium and stopped dead as the warmth hit my tongue. This was... the best cup of coffee I'd ever had in my life. It was rich and full bodied with notes of cinnamon, allspice, and honey. It brought back a flood of childhood memories. Drinking hot chocolate after school as my mother brushed the snow out of my hair, watching movies huddled by the fire, my mothers warmth as she rocked me to sleep. God, I missed her. If only, I thought, I could have something like that again in a real, non coffee based sense.. Wait, what was I thinking? I am a powerful, competent, unemployed graphic designer.  I’d never wish for a family, I convinced myself, brushing the tears from my eyes.  I went to take another sip of coffee, but I was beginning to feel nauseous, so instead I dropped it in the next available garbage can. Amanda was right, this place was hard to miss. Two blocks down was almost a full mile away and basically in the woods. The quant tutor with 616 scrolled across the door was the only building on the entire street. As I walked up the driveway, I realized how eerily quiet it had become. I hadn’t seen a single car pass me in the last half mile.  I shivered as the wind whipped up, this was the perfect place for an unsuspecting young woman to be raped and murdered. I was all alone.. No wait, I was being watched. “Well hello there, Rachel!” I jumped as the door of the house popped open to reveal a smiling middle aged man in a suit. “Oh. oh, hi…” I tried to collect myself, “You must be--” “Correct! I’m Jake from the agency, so glad you were able to find your way here! I was getting a little worried that you hadn’t been able to find a ride into town.” “Funny you should say that---” “Anyway, this is the place!” He cut me off, holding the door open beckoning me inside. The interior, despite having a certain charm, was covered in a layer of dust and white sheets. The air had a musty quality that signaled that this place had been long forgotten. I sighed, I do not like cleaning. “As mentioned earlier,” he continued, “it’s $250/month and you’re responsible for paying all utilities as well as any yard work or snow removal that needs to be done. Also, I think there are Christmas lights in the basement so you won't even need to buy any to decorate.” “I won’t be needing them, but thank you, I just want to settle in.” “Oh,” He seemed crushed, “Well, they’re there in case you change your mind.  It would probably go a long way to making the place feel like home.” “Umm thanks… well, how long has it been vacant?” I slid my fingers through the dust on the fireplace mantle and almost gagged at the many years of dead skin cells. “‘Bout five years, I think?” “That’s.. Why so long?” “I couldn’t really tell you, I’m just a real estate agent, I don’t own it or anything,” He shrugged. “Oh.” “Well, I mean, if I had to guess, maybe it was the murders.” “Murders?” I parrotted. See! I knew I was going to be raped and killed! “Sorry, I misspoke, disappearances is what I mean. It’s not really murder without a body.” Jake said matter of factly, “But anyway, that was a long time ago and I heard that tenant was like, really into meth, so it was likely drug related.” “Wait, didn’t you say---” “Anyway, here are the keys,” He handed them to me while also turning the doorknob “You should be good to go! Have a wonderful life in Tiny Christmas!” And with that he was already halfway down the walk. “...Murders?”

I had an unremarkable first night despite wondering just how many “disappearances” Jake had accidentally inferred. I tried not to concentrate on it too much, I was starting my new job the next morning after all.

Holidays And More! occupied the largest building in town. It was two floors of highly polished marble and glass. The first floor held the perfect area for a window display, but was currently empty. “This will be my canvas,” I thought.  I put my hand up to the glass wistfully only to have it slapped from the otherside of the glass by a burly man with a beard.  I jumped back and he let out a chuckle and motioned me to come inside. “I’m Mr. Santan the general manager,” The burly man explained, giving me a firm handshake. “Great to meet you in person. Thank you so much for the job.” “We’re just so pleased you accepted it.  The entire board was unanimous in the decision to hire you. Your plan for a Christmas display that gets us back to our roots is genius!” “Thank--” Before I could finish he pulled me in for a hug. “Say no more, Ms. Adler, we’re just so happy we can add you, another true believer of the magic of Christmas, to our wonderful family!” He said while patting me on the back. I recoiled slightly and he seemed to catch my discomfort and let me go.  “Sorry, I just love Christmas so much, I get carried away sometimes.” “Thats… I just, I should probably get to work, right?” I deflected. “Oh, of course!  There’s only two weeks till the big reveal after all. I’m sure every second counts.”  Mr. Santan led me over to my workspace and introduced me to my assistant, Tom Thompson, a tall and slightly too handsome man in a red vest. I felt.. Uncomfortable looking at him for too long, like I might, I don’t know, blush if I did? “You know Tom, you could take notes from Ms. Adler here,” Mr. Santan said before leaving, “Up your holiday game a little and maybe you’ll be the next one promoted!” Tom looked towards me and let out a little sigh, “Yes sir.”

On that first day, we spent most of our time going through boxes, taking inventory of what supplies the store already had so I’d know what we would need to buy. “So,” I broke the silence, “Mr. Santan wants you to up your holiday game, eh?” “Yeah, I guess he’s noticed I haven’t been my normal cheery self for that last.. Couple years” He seemed as surprised by that timeline as I did. “That’s a long time not to be happy.” Like I’d know what happy was.  I was a weirdly employed graphic designer caught in what was increasingly feeling like a low budget Christmas movie. “I guess so, I just haven’t been myself since my wife died.” Ohh, he was single and not even the divorced kind!  Widowed, the good kind of single! I stopped going through the box of christmas lights, my hands were shaking. “Yeah, it was really tragic. She hit a deer..”  He was going on about his dead wife, but all I could concentrate on was my own heartbeat as it began to speed up.  Why did I care if this guy was single? What was happening to me? I concentrated on regaining my composure.  I just needed to take it easy. This had been a big move, a huge change, and I’d lost my bearings. It was perfectly reasonable that I would feel confused and even want to fit in. Things would get less weird once I was used to my surroundings. “...and that’s when we took her off life support.” Oh god, he was still going, “I just don’t think I’ll ever really love anyone again, you know?” “I get it, but you’re young, you’ll meet someone again when you’re ready.” I tried to console.  He blushed slightly. “You’re a really good listener, you know? Hey! Would you like to come over for dinner on Sunday? We make a big meal after church so it’s always nice to have some extra company.” “Oh no, no, I don’t want to impose, we don’t really know each other and--” “Please? Think of it as me repaying your kindness for letting me dump all my problems on you like this.” He begged. “Well, when you put it that way, sure.”

After a relatively uneventful week, I awoke from a particularly weird nightmare at 3am Saturday morning to the sound of talking. Frustrated and groggy, I did what any good New Yorker would.  I pushed the window open with a level of violence that this house had probably never seen and leaned out into the dark. “Shut the fuck up or I’ll fucking come down there murder you!” I yelled, the, slammed the window shut, and lay back down. It was quiet for a minute, but then, was that chanting? By that point my complete consciousness had returned and I realized that I was no longer in an apartment, I was in a house.  I was in a completely isolated house. No one should be outside. I lay there in silence, trying to get a grasp on what I was hearing. Chanting? Crying? Maybe it was a wild animal, I thought. I’d heard foxes kind of sound like people. I honestly didn’t want it to be people or animals, both seemed like they could be dangerous and for the first time since the day I’d moved in, I considered what the word “disappearances” could possibly mean. After what may have been hours the strange noises dissipated, but I did not sleep for the rest of the night. In the morning, I decided maybe I would put up those Christmas lights. The house had no exterior lighting at all and seeing as it had sat unoccupied, there was a chance someone could still think it was vacant and try to break in.. if the noises I’d heard were people anyway.  If it was foxes or wolves or something, the light should deter them too. Despite being opposed to my core beliefs, I’d do it for my safety. I found a box with one whole strand of lights in it in the basement. Just enough to do the awning out front.  I figured it was better than nothing and it also meant I didn’t have to spend all day putting them up, so win win. There was however, another box in the basement.  I’d thought it was more Christmas decorations originally since there was a piece of garland at the top, but when I brought it upstairs I realized that what I had really found was a gun. A shotgun of some sort, to be more specific. Along with it was a little box with just a few bullets in it, seven, I counted. I’d never really handled a gun before and felt conflicted about realizing that it had been in the house with me for the last week. Who’s was it and why would they leave it, anyway?  Shit, for all I knew, all houses in Iowa came with guns.  After some careful contemplation and youtube videos, I decided to keep it by the door, loaded, in case I did end up running into whatever I had heard the night prior. When I heard the noises again that night, I at least managed to convince myself I could protect myself and got the smallest bit of sleep. By the time Tom came to pick me up on Sunday, I was already exhausted and a little jumpy. “You look tired, are you ok?” He asked as I fastened my seatbelt. His genuine concern made my heart feel all warm for some reason. “Yeah, just insomnia.” “I used to have that real bad when Joanne first died.  It’s hard being in that house all alone, huh?” “Not really. Why would it be hard?” “I just guess I find being alone really difficult. Everyone needs someone to hold at night.” He informed me. Was he suggesting he wanted to hold me at night? We arrived at his parents' lovely little colonial only a few minutes later.  I may have neglected to say this, but he’d been living with his family since his wife died.  I thought it was a little weird, but I also knew grief could really mess up a person, so it was better I didn’t judge. Anyway, the house was all decked out in a literal ton of blinking christmas lights, outside and in. It was really too distracting and tacky for my taste. His mom and dad hugged me immediately as we entered and thanked me for taking such good care of their son. Did they think we were a couple?  Did I want us to be a couple? What? No! We had a nice dinner and his family told me stories about what Tom was like growing up. After dinner they wanted to sing Christmas carols so his mom gathered us around the piano as his father played. I don’t know any full carols, but I managed to stumble through alright. We laughed a lot. It was.. It was really nice to feel like I was part of something again. It made me miss my parents terribly.  I wanted so much to feel safe and loved like that again. Maybe, I thought, just maybe the Thompsons could be my new family. Maybe this place could be my new something to be a part of. We kissed my driveway before I got out of the car.  He told me he was falling for me. Maybe I was falling for him too.

I woke up in pure panic at 3am. I wasn’t even aware of why I was so scared for a minute until the events of the evening came back to me. Something was terribly wrong with me. And the noises were back.

The next week was crunch time. We had to make this display the most wonderful the town had ever seen. We could do it, I knew we could. Tom and I spent most of our waking hours together making sure everything was perfect for the big reveal on Friday night. Well, he spent most of his waking hours, I mean. He was probably sleeping, I was still hearing those weird noises. However, I was beginning to think that living in the country just meant hearing unexplained sounds at night. It was nothing to worry about and I had that gun just in case, which I’d decided to leave by my front door indefinitely. Plus, Tom and I were considering moving in together, so he would be able to protect me. Everything was ok. Everything was better than expected. Friday went wonderfully. Mr. Santan praised us both and offered me a permanent position which I gladly accepted.  I invited Tom over that evening to celebrate. “So are you going back to NYC for Christmas?” He asked me as we cuddled on the couch. Christmas was just five days away, wasn’t it? “Nah, I’m just gonna get some Chinese food and watch movies.” “That sounds really sad, Rachel, you should come over to my house. We always decorate our tree on Christmas eve then we do presents in the morning. You can sleep over, it’ll be fun!” He suggested. “My family loves you, so I’m sure they’d be so happy to have you.” “That sounds really nice, but actually, I think I just want to take it easy.” “Oh.” His expression fell. “No, it’s not like that, but I’ve…” I needed to be honest with the man I loved, “I’ve been lying to you. I’m not..” There was that chanting again. “Lying?” He asked, but then saw the fear on my face. “What’s wrong?” “Do you hear that? What is that?” I said in a whisper, my voice shaking. Tom listened for a second.  “The singing? That’s carolers isn’t it?” I held my breath to try to ascertain what I was hearing.  It was getting closer this time. Tom was right.  It was people singing. “Carolers” I breathed. “Yup, the weekend before Christmas they go out and sing at people’s houses.  Didn’t you have that in New York?” I shook my head. Had this been what I was hearing the whole time? Carolers practicing somewhere? “It sounds like they’re right outside.” I jumped as the doorbell rang, but convinced myself it was ok to answer it. Outside were seven of the townsfolk decked out in Christmasy attire. As soon as they saw me they began to sing. I wasn’t familiar with the song, but it was just so beautiful that tears started coming to my eyes. Here I’d been all worked up about people singing Christmas songs. This wasn’t NYC, nothing was going to try to hurt me here, no one had been anything but kind to me. I stood in the doorway listening for a long time, just taking in the joy. I let the New Yorker part of me fade. It was ok now, I was ok. Maybe I should go get some money for them or something, I thought. That was the least I could do for this kind of spiritual awakening, right?  I was about to turn around to find my purse when something stopped me.  I stopped me. What the fuck was I doing? I was a savvy fucking new yorker, I didnt need this dumb shit. This wasn’t even what I wanted..at all. What was I even doing with this boring, sad guy? I didn’t even like men and I hated Christmas carols! “Hey can you guys that's enough, you can stop now.”  I pleaded. "Really, please stop." No one seemed to hear me. I felt a deep primal fear rise up in my stomach. I needed to lie down or something. I needed them to stop singing already.  “Tom, can you--” I turned around just in time to see Tom lunge at me with a weird looking knife. Instinctively, I dodged and pushed him to the ground. I am a New Yorker who knows how to defend myself. I grabbed the shotgun. “Awwwww” The carolers grumbled in unison. “What the fuck is going on here?!?” I spat, clenching my weapon tightly. “You ruined everything, that’s what.” One of them moaned. I pointed my gun at the small crowd, “Are you trying to “disappear” me? Is that what this is?” “You know Tom, if you hadn’t waited so long…” One of them began.  Tom was now sulking on the ground behind me.  I was waving the gun wildly between him and the carolers now. “I just wanted it to be perfect, I’m sorry guys.” Tom shrugged. “She’s gonna taste like shit now. Adrenaline fucks everything up,” another said. “Will someone please tell me what’s going on!?” I shouted. “Tell me or I kill every one of you!” Tom sighed, “We were just trying to teach you the true meaning of Christmas.” “By killing me?!” “Of course not. Think of all the love we showed you these past couple weeks, that’s the true meaning of Christmas!” I recognized this one, it was the woman from the Cafe. “We know you felt it, we could tell.” “Felt it? This- this isn’t me! What did you.. Have you been putting something in my food?” “Aw, sweetie, don’t be so paranoid, everything we gave you was simply made with love, something you’ve been sorely lacking.” Amanda explained. “Well, that and just a tiny bit of LSD.” The others nodded in agreement. “You fucking dosed me with LSD?!” “What we did, Rachel, was give you the best two weeks of your life and we even got you back in touch with your religion!” said Mr. Santan. “My what?!” “Now you can die happily!” Tom chimed in, now standing over me again with that knife, smiling manickly. “I’m Jewish you assholes!” I screamed and shot a bullet into Tom’s confused looking face. His body thudded to the floor. “Oh man! How are we gonna explain this to everyone?” they whined as I turned my gun back on them, “Can we even sacrifice a Jew?” “You’re not sacrificing anyone.  If you try, I’ll blow all of your goddamn brains out.” I threatened, holding the shotgun mere inches from them, but they ignored my warning and continued discussing my murder, like I wasn’t even there. Fucking rude townies. “It’s not ideal, but where are we gonna find a christian this close to the ceremony?” Santan explained, “A Jew is probably better than nothing. Even if she is all upset and will probably taste like sadness.” “Hey! I bet I taste just fine!” What was I saying? I did probably taste like sadness. But that wasn’t the point, they were trying to kill me! I knew if I wanted to survive the night and ever see my actual home again, I was going to have to stand my ground and take those fuckers out then and there. I broke their disagreement with a single shot, fired directly into the chest of the weirdo closest to me. He fell to the ground in a motionless heap. That was finally the motivation the rest needed to actually come at me. But I was the one with the gun. “What? You’re not even going to try to rape me first?” I shouted as I fired mercilessly into them. Turns out it isn’t actually that hard to shoot people when they’re that close to you. I don’t know if I killed them all, but I certainly shot them enough to make it so they’d have a hard time chasing me if they survived. I ran as far away as I could get before calling you.  I don’t know if others are coming for me, but I’ll be ready if they do. I would have called the police, but I’m sure they’re in on it. You were right, that town is crazy. ”

Ajeet let out a sigh. How many times, he wondered, was he going to help someone flee from a crime scene? This couldn’t be worth the money. He’d be better off working for one of those takeout services. Yeah, he was going to sign up once he got home. No more transporting crazy people, just transporting food to crazy people.  “Wait, weren’t there 8 of them total?” He asked hoping this didn’t set her off,  “Didn’t you say that gun only had seven bullets? Doesn’t that mean you missed one?” Rachel thought for a second. Nope, she’d definitely shot 8 cultists, she’d counted. “I guess you could call it a Hanukkah miracle,” she giggled. Ajeet let out a fake laugh, not sure what she meant. “So.. airport then?” “Yeah, please.”

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Ep.59 – Christmas Rage! - Santa Has an Axe and He's Coming!

Episode Notes

It's Christmas Eve and a maniac has gone crazy with an axe, killing anyone that crosses his path... However there is an ever more dangerous predator out on the streets and they aren't out caroling...

Christmas Rage by Rob Fields

Music by Ray Mattis http://raymattispresents.bandcamp.com

Produced by Daniel Wilder

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This episode sponsored by HenFlix.com

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Transcription:

December 23rd – Evening

Strickfield Towne Centre Mall only seemed to be a hopping place around the holidays. The vacancies left during the usual ten months out of the year were mostly filled by seasonal stores. There was even a Santa Claus House in the mall’s center court. Families would line up with their children, many of whom had Christmas lists to give to Santa. But on this day, things were about to take a macabre turn . . . Santa Claus had just taken his seat on his throne. Templeton Mirren, the owner of the mall, and his family were right there in front of him. Santa just sat there and looked right at them. Templeton appeared to be patient. When Santa’s silence got to be too much, Templeton leaned in and whispered loudly, “If you don’t get your act together, Stanley, you’ll be enjoying this Christmas on your fucking welfare check!” Stanley Monroe was always tapped to play Santa Claus from Black Friday until Christmas Eve at Strickfield Towne Centre Mall. But as Santa slowly stood up and glared at Templeton Mirren and his family, he seemed to have a foreboding presence. Then, Santa opened the door to his house and received several screams when the slain, bloody body of Stanley Monroe just fell onto the porch. The families scattered in different directions. Santa took his time as he reached inside the house and pulled out the same bloody ax that he had used on Stanley earlier. Then he marched toward Templeton Mirren, raising his lethal weapon. Templeton Mirren turned and yanked a nearby father right in front of the Santa. The father never uttered a peep as Santa buried the blade right in his head. The other bystanders were too frightened to see what Templeton Mirren had done. They never saw him or his wicked wife grab their children and leave. From there, Santa pulled the ax out of the father’s head and buried it in another bystander as It Came Upon a Midnight Clear slowly began to play over the mall speakers. 

Christmas Eve Morning

I awaken in a different room and remember that I’m here at Franklin Sloane’s house. Franklin invited me to come home with him for Christmas. Franklin and I have been seeing each other since late August. In fact, he’s been my only companion this semester. After I take a shower and get dressed, I hear arguing downstairs. I make my way down and stop short when I hear that I’m the topic of discussion. Actually, it’s more like Franklin’s parents are giving him a hard time about me. The more I listen, I more I hear his father, Joseph, and his stepmother, Delphine, just discouraging him. His dad tells him there’s no way that a ‘big-titted puttana’ like me would ever care for him. They tell him that I’m just using him for my own selfish ends. Franklin argues back and tells them that I’m nothing like that. He tells them that we’ve been seeing each other since the beginning of the fall semester. He asks them what I could possibly be using him for. Here’s the irony. I am using Franklin, but not for the reasons his parents are implying. They think I’m with him for money, or that I’m waiting to humiliate him. I’m fully aware that people look at Franklin and decide that he’s the biggest nerd there is. Do you have any idea how many times I’ve heard people whisper that to each other when they think I’m not listening? I even hear those same people wondering how someone like me would even be with Franklin. Delphine tells Franklin that I’m way too beautiful for him. She even tells Franklin that I would never have sex with him, that people like me belong with fraternity boys. Yes, I certainly could have had my pick of a fraternity boy, or even a jock. The problem with those types of guys is that they would only want to have sex with me just for a short time. They would not want to commit to me. No, I need much more than they’re willing to give. For those of you who haven’t been following me since the beginning . . . From the time I came into the world, I have never felt so much as a single emotion. Perhaps my being emotionless is why I’m a serial killer. Your society has labeled me the Angel of Death, because I destroy those who prey on innocent people. I suppose the closest thing to emotions that I feel is my ever-insistent bloodlust, which pushes me onward to claim my victims. In fact, I’m feeling the urgent need to kill right now. I make my way to the dining room. The family doesn’t hear me come in until I’m right there, right when Franklin yells at Delphine, “That’s your problem. You always think everybody’s out to get me. Well, Raige isn’t like that!” Franklin becomes quiet when he realizes I’m here. The family is just looking at me now. “Perhaps I should just go,” I say. “Clearly, I’m not wanted or welcome here. I’ll just get my things and go back to my dorm.” Delphine looks sternly at me. “You heard everything?” I nod once. “I did. And you’re wrong about me.” I fold my arms in front of me. “Please, enlighten me. What do I hope to gain by using Franklin?” Delphine takes a deep breath. “Do you see yourself, Raigen? Do you see Franklin? Do you see how completely mismatched the two of you are? You can have any man you want. Why would you settle for Franklin?” While I myself don’t have emotions, I have come to understand a great deal about how emotions can move people, both positively and negatively. Watching enough television and being around Mama long enough will do that for someone like me. “So, let me get this straight . . . just because I’m a beautiful girl and Franklin’s a nerd, I would not want to be with someone like him? Then . . . why would I date Franklin? Why would I agree to come home with him for Christmas?” Delphine glares at me now. “Well, I don’t know. Why don’t you tell us?” “I agreed to come here with Franklin, because he asked me to,” I reply. “I wasn’t going home for Christmas, and Franklin didn’t want me to be alone. I’m thinking he invited me out of the kindness of his heart. That’s why I choose to be with Franklin. He’s kind to me. He’s never once tried to take advantage of me. I enjoy his company.” I unfold and lower my arms. “I can’t believe that you and your husband would cut Franklin down like this. Especially you – a church minister.” Delphine took over being the minister of Strickfield Community Church after the scandal with Minister Darren Harlow years ago. Yes, it’s the usual type of scandal you read about – with children. After Harlow was removed, Delphine became the new minister. She had to work very hard to keep the church going, but she managed to do it. I was a freshman in high school when this happened, by the way. Delphine’s been quite strict on Franklin ever since, according to what he’s told me about her and from what I’ve just witnessed. I put a comforting hand on Franklin’s shoulder. “Are you all right?” Franklin shakes his head. “Can we just leave, Raige?” “Yes! Yes, we can!” I reply. “Go pack a few things and we can have Christmas at my dorm.” Franklin leaves the dining room. His parents only glare at me before I turn and head back up to the guestroom to pack my things. You’re thinking that I want to kill them both, right? Nope! They’re both innocent, so I can’t kill them. Ah, yes . . . Now we’re getting to what I want to tell you. I currently have an even greater need to satisfy – even more than my need to kill. Now, while I don’t feel anything emotional, I do feel things that are physical. I know when I need to eat, drink, sleep, clean my body, seek comfort . . . I did say that I’m looking to use Franklin. As of late, I’m feeling the need to have sex. I was able to get by for many years without having to fulfill this basic need. Now my sex drive is becoming as insistent as my bloodlust. It’s because of this that I’ve come to realize that I need a mate, a constant companion. I need someone who can be good company for me and satisfy my sexual desires when the need arises. In turn, I would be just as responsive to my mate. Would you call me a primal girl, in spite of my highly developed brain? Perhaps you would be right. Franklin Sloane is one of the few young men at Strickfield University who has taken an interest in me. Over time, he has shown me that he is both a suitable companion and an intellectual peer. I really don’t care that Franklin is a skinny nerd who talks about chess or contemporary movies. I don’t even care that the rest of you in the female population are repulsed by him. Unlike you, I don’t have it me to be repulsed by him. On the other hand, I don’t even have it in me to be able to love him. Regardless, Franklin has proven himself to be a suitable companion for me, and my desire is for him to be my mate. Franklin comes and gets me. “You ready, Raige?” “Yes, we can go.” We head downstairs and to the front door. Before we leave, Franklin turns to his parents. “I really thought we were going to have a normal family Christmas this time, even with my bringing Raige. But I can see that’s never going to happen. Come on, Raige, let’s go.” Once more, Franklin’s parents and I exchange looks. Then I turn and leave with Franklin. 

Franklin is settled in my dorm room; I didn’t have a roommate during the fall semester. The only reason I’m allowed to stay over the holiday break is because I’m attending classes here at Strickfield University next semester. Franklin looks pretty down. “I’m sorry you had to see that back home, Raige.” We’re both sitting on our beds. I reach across and take his hands. “May I say something?” He raises his eyes to mine. “Sure.” “I know you’re probably having your doubts about me. Please don’t. I really do want to be with you.” “But why, Raige? Why are you still with me? Delphine’s right, you can have any man you want.” I could ramble to Franklin about why I want him, but I have learned that actions can speak a lot for a person. Still holding his hands, I move across to Franklin’s bed. Then we kiss. The more we get into our kiss, the more I’m feeling that I can’t hold back anymore. I need him so desperately. I let go of his hands. Franklin is surprised when he sees me stand up and take my clothes off. Once I’m naked, I pull back the covers on my bed and lay down to face him. “It’s just you and me, Franklin. The dorm is all ours. I want to take this next step with you. If you do too, then come and be with me. I only want and desire you, Franklin.” Franklin trusts me enough to where he knows I’m sincere. He removes his clothes and climbs into my bed with me. 

Christmas Eve – Late Afternoon The Strickfield Community Center was always a place where parents could bring their children on Christmas Eve for things such as Christmas stories, Christmas cakes and cookies, hot chocolate, and visiting with Santa. It had been just as much of a tradition as the fact that each and every house in Strickfield would be decorated to make the village look like a winter wonderland, with the exception of the walled off property that belonged to the Mirrens. In fact, Delphine Brewster-Sloane helped run the establishment along with a few other mothers. Delphine was making more mugs of hot chocolate when Mrs. Patterson walked into the kitchen. She gave Delphine a look of desperation. “Mary? What’s wrong? Hasn’t our Santa arrived yet?” Delphine asked. Mary Patterson reached out, stopped motionless for a moment, then fell flat on her face to reveal the ax that was sticking out of her back. Delphine screamed! Then she looked up and screamed even louder as a blood-stained Santa Claus stormed in and retrieved the ax from Mary Patterson’s back. Santa looked right at Delphine and watched her scream when he drew back the ax. Somehow, she forced herself to duck. When the ax blade became embedded in a cupboard, Delphine shoved Santa down and ran out. Delphine tried to yell for everyone to leave – quickly. The shrilling scream of the Santa Claus From Hell overshadowed the soft Christmas music. Then more screams overshadowed Santa’s as he chased after people while swinging the ax, sinking it into a few more parents. Delphine grabbed a folding chair and moved at Santa to try and keep him from killing any more parents – or even children. Santa howled with rage and disarmed Delphine with a few hard swings of the ax. Santa shoved her down and raised the ax for the kill. Delphine held her hands up and screamed as her life flashed right before her eyes. 

Christmas Eve Evening I awaken and know that Franklin and I are spooned up together. We spent much of the afternoon having sex. Franklin has definitively proven to be my chosen mate as he satisfied my every desire. I in turn focused to satisfy his. Then we fell asleep together. My need for sex is satisfied for the time being. However, my need to kill is as urgent as ever. I manage to slip out of bed. Franklin is still fast asleep. I need to go out and prowl for a kill. Since it’s Christmas Eve, I don’t really think I’m going to find anyone. I may end up having to wait until the day after Christmas to look for somebody. My bloodlust is demanding satisfaction, but I’m not going to take an innocent to do it. I get dressed and grab my smartphone. I leave the dorm and begin my walk around Strickfield. If Franklin texts me, I’ll just tell him that I’m picking up food for us from either Andy’s China Garden or Denoyer’s Grill downtown, which are always open. If I had emotions, I’m sure it would simply amaze me at how this village goes all out for many holidays, including Christmas. Every house is decorated and lit brightly. Some of the yards even have animatronics. In spite of all this, I still continue to feel my constant numbness. It isn’t long before I hear the sounds of police cars in the distance. I decide to go and see what’s going on. I know I’m only a police intern, which is why I’m not being called. Strickfield P.D. only calls me when it comes to detective work. If there are that many police cars, it’s probably something more dire that doesn’t require detective work. Just the same, I’m going to go and see for myself. When I get to the scene, the Strickfield Community Center, Mayor Patrick Gunter recognizes me and waves for me to come over. “I know you’ve been helping the police, but this doesn’t require you tonight.” “Can you at least tell me what’s going on?” I ask. Mayor Gunter tells me that there’s an escaped lunatic from Glennview Asylum inside the building wearing a Santa Claus suit and killing people left and right. He mentions how this Santa left bodies all over center court at Strickfield Towne Centre Mall last night. As Mayor Gunter keeps talking, my bloodlust is going crazy – commanding me to claim this Santa! Just what Mayor Gunter tells me alone is enough to where I don’t have to do my usual research. But the question now is how do I get inside the Community Center without the police seeing me? Then I immediately have a plan and proceed with its execution. I say good-bye to Mayor Gunter and wish him a good holiday. 

I know the village of Strickfield very well, thanks to all of the maps on hand at the police station, including the one for the sewer system. Because of my highly photographic memory, I immediately remembered the way into the Community Center through the sewer tunnels. I open a manhole cover down in the crawlspace where the shower pipes are located and come out that way. After putting the cover back on, I begin my hunt for this Santa. My bloodlust is nagging at me now. It doesn’t take me long to locate Santa. He’s got a few women trapped in the kitchen. And then I immediately recognize Franklin’s stepmother as one of them. When we started seeing each other, Franklin told me that Delphine volunteers her time here when she’s not being the minister for the Strickfield Community Church. It looks as though Delphine got beat up, but she’s still alive. I know that Franklin would be devastated if anything were to happen to his parents. The two of them put Franklin down, and yet he still thinks the world of them. I literally don’t understand it. Just the same, I know I’ve got to do something to save these people. Santa never says a word. He just glares at the eight women he’s holding hostage. He even raises his ax and brings it down in front of them, making them shriek or scream. Even I understand how cowardly it is for an empowered male to attack a helpless female. I tighten my fists as my bloodlust now screams for me take!! His!! Fucking!! Life!! I must use my head. I can’t just go in there and fight him. It would be different if Santa wasn’t toying with those women. Then I move stealthily into the kitchen. He doesn’t see me as I carefully slide open a drawer and pull out a kitchen knife. All I have to do is just draw it back . . . then I’ll fling it right into his back. As I raise the knife for the kill, I get a texting chime on my smartphone and know it’s from Franklin. That throws off my plan as Santa turns and sees me with my knife raised. He screams and rushes right at me. Delphine is surprised to see me now. “Raigen, no!” she cries out. When Santa reaches me, he swings the ax wildly. I quickly hit the floor and feel the rush of the blade going right over the back of my head. As I quickly turn onto my back, Santa raises his ax and brings it down. I turn over again and hear it hit the floor. I get to my feet and kick Santa in the back of the knee to take his leg out from underneath him. Santa growls and falls to the floor. I still have the knife in my hand. Before I can raise it to stab him, Delphine surprises both of us by crying out and ripping the ax away from Santa. “Raigen, get out of here! Now!” Delphine cries. Santa quickly gets back to his feet. Then he reaches out and grabs the ax, having a struggle with Delphine. I don’t see the other women that were with Delphine and determine that she must have gotten them out while I was distracting Santa. I’m definitely ready to stab Santa now, but I know that I can’t let Delphine . . . Wait a minute! She won’t know that I’m a serial killer. Killing Santa would just be a matter of my helping Delphine. Neither Delphine nor Santa can see what must be the evil glow in my eyes that all of my past victims have seen. All I have to do is move up behind Santa. Delphine will be splattered with his blood once I slice his throat. But common sense gets the better of me. I can’t let Delphine see just how violent I can truly become. She might tell Franklin, and I would possibly lose my mate. I have another idea. I quickly make my way around to where Santa can easily see me. “Hey!” Santa’s eyes are on me as I pull my Christmas sweater up and show him my large breasts. “Peekaboobies!!” His eyes are locked right on my breasts, which gives Delphine the advantage. She yanks the ax out of Santa’s hands and swings it to catch him right in the gut. He groans and stands for a long moment. I pull my sweater down as Delphine removes the ax and nails him one more time before he finally goes down. I quickly pull out my smartphone and call the police. I get Mayor Gunter and tell him that everything’s all right and that Santa’s slayed. My bloodlust is screaming at me for a fresh victim, but . . . I had to give my kill to Delphine to keep my secret. Delphine and I are alone now after I finish talking to Mayor Gunter. She turns to me and gives me a stern look. “Really, Raigen? Showing him your dirty pillows?” I look sternly at her in return. “You are still alive because of my ‘dirty pillows’. Never forget that!” Delphine and I keep glaring at one another. Finally, Delphine softens her expression and sighs. She looks around and moves to make sure that we’re truly alone. I can’t imagine why she would need to do that. She returns to me. “Yes, you did save many lives today, Raigen.” Then she leans in and says quietly, “I know who and what you are. Don’t try and hide it from me. You are the Angel of Death.” Then she backs away to get my reaction. I just look at Delphine. “I think you’re mistaken.” Delphine shakes her head slowly. “I’m not. You don’t know, Raigen, but many years ago you saved many lives that night. Including mine.” Just then, Mayor Gunter comes in with some police officers. He points right at me. “Raigen Devereux! Over here! Now!” Delphine mouths to me, “We’ll talk later.” I nod to her and address Mayor Gunter, who gives me hell for not keeping my distance on the count of my being a college intern. At the same time, he congratulates me on being the hero. Of course, I make sure that Delphine is given her fair share of the credit since I didn’t stop that Santa From Hell alone. 

Christmas Afternoon I look into the eyes of Templeton Mirren after I remove his blindfold. Then I remove his wife’s. I have both of them secured to tables in their basement. Then I remove their gags. “What the fuck is this?!” Destiny Mirren demands. I move to the front where they can see me. I have a remote control in my hand and turn on their television. “I have a little video here that I’d very much like for the two of you to see,” I tell them. I play what is the security camera footage that was taken from the Strickfield Towne Centre Mall. Could I have gotten any more lucky?! Chief Kazmierczak was a little strapped at the station, so he asked me if I’d stick around and go through the security footage from the mall. After texting Franklin and letting him know where I was, I went to the station and looked over the footage. Then I saw the angle to where Templeton Mirren had grabbed an innocent man and pulled him right into the path of the killer Santa, just so he could preserve his own life. His wife had seen what her husband had done and wasn’t concerned in the least. She only moved to get Templeton and the kids out of the mall quickly. Neither Destiny nor Templeton looked back. After finishing the footage, I stop the video and look at them. “Any questions?” “So what?” Destiny groans, looking as annoyed as she sounded. “All this over an insignificant man?” Templeton adds. “It looks to me as if your family could have easily gotten away, but you grabbed that man and pulled him right in front of the killer, guaranteeing his death. In effect, you killed him in cold blood. Your wife saw you and didn’t care, in effect condoning what you did. So now . . . I’m going to claim the both of you. Your children are with their grandparents. I’ve even disabled your cameras and your security system. It’s just us three here.” I even have pictures to display of shady bank records and illegal money laundering. I even found some Dark Net stuff that they were involved in – too much to list here. But seeing this security video – from his own mall – was more than a red flag for me. Normally, I’d have killed them just based on that, but I wanted more to give to the police. After all, these two are from the infamous Mirren family. The two of them are quite emotionless. The only difference between these Mirrens and myself is that I was naturally born without emotions. These two are of great money and privilege, so much that they just stopped caring. I’m wearing a plastic poncho and have an ax cradled in my hands. Oh, wait! It looks as if they do know fear. They see my evil glare and beg for their lives. Oh, but it’s sweet too late for that . . . “Templeton and Destiny Mirren, let the punishment fit the crime!” Destiny screams as I bring the ax right down on her face! And . . . I feel so much better, now that my bloodlust is finally being satiated. 

Christmas Evening Delphine called Franklin and made things right with him. She even told him to bring me back to the house for Christmas dinner. I agreed when he asked me and all was well. Franklin’s dad still gave me distrustful looks, but that was it. Delphine asked me to help her in the kitchen so we could have our little talk. As it turned out, Delphine had indeed discovered my secret. When she said that I had saved the lives of her and many children that night, it was because she had discovered Minister Harlow’s terrible secret. She had tried to stop him on her own using the legal system, but his influence was too strong. She decided that she would bring him down alone, even if it meant breaking the commandment regarding killing. As it turned out, I had read the story about Harlow in our newspaper in North Ridgeway. I came to Strickfield to claim him after I did my research. I broke into Harlow’s house, not knowing that Delphine was already there ahead of me. I ended up finding five children that Harlow had locked up in his basement. I freed them and told them to keep quiet. Harlow wasn’t expecting a high school freshman girl to come for him. After going up to the second floor and beating the living shit out of Harlow, I tied him up to his bed and castrated him. Even then, I remembered Mama’s words about making the punishment fit the crime. Delphine had been hiding in a closet, possibly waiting for the right moment to strike Harlow herself, and discovered that I was the Angel of Death. After cleaning myself up, I gave one of my burner phones to the kids and told them to call the police. Delphine told me that after I had left, she had explained everything to the police – leaving me out of it. Delphine gave me a big hug and thanked me for what I had done, today and back then. She promised me that she would keep my secret. The only thing she asked was for me to not hurt Franklin. I in turn promised her that I wouldn’t. Delphine never so much as gave me – or Franklin – a hard time ever again. 

That night, Franklin and I go back to my dorm. After we have sex, Franklin and I talk. He tells me that he only wants to make me happy. I tell him that I am – well, in my own way. I’m more than content on having Franklin Sloane as my mate, and I tell him that I’m not leaving him. Franklin has a realization. “I have something for you, Raige.” He gets out of bed and brings me a small giftwrapped box. I unwrap and open it to reveal his high school class ring. “It’s not much,” Franklin tells me. “But I know how I feel about you. Maybe Dad and Delphine are right about you being too good for me. But I need to know . . . Raigen Devereux, will you marry me?” “I will,” I say without hesitation. Franklin is speechless in his emotions. But he finally finds himself and puts his ring on my finger. I return the favor by giving him my high school class ring on a necklace. I only wish that I could feel the love that Franklin feels for me. Regardless, I will be a good wife to him as he will be a good husband to me. So . . . this turned out to be a very good Christmas for me after all. Merry Christmas, everyone!

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Ep.58 – Turkey Shoot - Blood Thirsty Vengeance is on the Menu!

Episode Notes

On Thanksgiving day something is hungry and loose in a small down and it's not content to be the centerpiece of your dinner anymore. Murderous turkey's are coming, and you pissed them off!

Turkey Shoot by David O'Hanlon

Music by Ray Mattis http://raymattispresents.bandcamp.com

Produced by Daniel Wilder

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The white sheet was a Rorschach test of ruddy blooms across the uneven surface. Sheriff Eldon Hart dabbed VapoRub on his upper lip as he entered the makeshift morgue of Rhoda Baines’ office. It was little more than a meat locker built along the back wall of Country Smiles Dentistry. The tiny township of Fiddler’s Gap rarely needed a morgue—and nestled in the Ozark Mountains, they didn’t call on a dentist much either. Still, between her dental practice and double-duty as county corner, Rhoda’s office stayed busy enough. Deputy Alex Hargrove was new to area. Despite eight years in law enforcement, this was his first corpse and he slathered the VapoRub on his lip into a greasy mustache. Rhoda waved him off when he offered her the jar and she chuckled softly. The sound was somewhere between melodious playfulness and a braying mule and it brought a smile to the stone face of Sheriff Hart. Rhoda snapped on a pair of nitrile gloves and passed the box to the cops who did the same. Hart flipped on the articulated examination light. He nodded to Rhoda who pulled the sheet back like a lounge-act magician clearing a tablecloth from beneath the guests’ glasses. “Whoo!” Deputy Hargrove leaned away. “That’s not what I was expecting.” “Nope,” Hart added, simply. The body was largely held together by the remains of his clothing. The face consisted of a few patches of flesh too stubborn to come off. The eyes were gone, along with the lips which left the tobacco-and-blood-stained teeth grinning around a maw occupied only by the stumpy remains of the victim’s tongue. The spine was a stretch of ashen desert between ravaged muscles with the soft tissue of the throat completely absent. Hart walked along the length of the steel table as he continued his observations. Holes, ranging from pencil-width to fist-sized, dotted the torso and the flannel shirt was in tatters around the wounds. The connective tissue of the left arm had been torn away, leaving the appendage in the sleeve, but no longer attached to the body. The gut was hollowed like a jack-o-lantern. The shredded blue jeans held much of the same. Hart poked his finger into a hole in the man’s thigh and then examined the bare tibia below. “Okay, so what are we looking at here?” he finally asked. “Dead Caucasian male in his thirties. No ID, but he does have a tattoo on his forearm… the part that wasn’t ate, that is.” Rhoda used a sponge to clean the torso. “Foxy found our victim about five this morning and brought him to me. I’ve left him alone, but I did a cursory examination.” “Hell, Foxy shakes like a tweaker in an earthquake. How’d the old fart bring…” Hargrove waved his hand at the body, “this, without it falling apart?” “Carefully.” Rhoda shrugged. “Alright, but what was an old hermit doing out in the woods that early?” the deputy asked. “Foxy hunts turkeys for family’s that can’t afford one for Thanksgiving,” Hart answered. “The Fox family’s done it since the Great Depression. Foxy doesn’t like people, but he cares about them.” He prodded another hole. “What’d you mean by the part that wasn’t ate?” “The soft tissue was destroyed—throat, crook of the arm, belly, eyes. The intestines are missing large portions and some organs are gone in their entirety.” Rhoda took a gauge and measured a puncture wound for their benefit. “These are peck marks.” “Well, shit. I’ll go put out the APB right away.” Hargrove clapped his hands together. “Big ass bird, red thing on his head, answers to Woody.” Hart smirked and then cleared his throat. “Scavengers dig in through the soft spots. Could be vultures found him.” “That was my first thought.” Rhoda rolled the man on his side and raised his shirt. More peck marks and long cuts adorned the flesh. “There’s no lividity, however.” “Meaning?” Hart scratched at his stubble, suddenly wishing he’d stopped to make himself presentable before coming to see Rhoda. He snapped his fingers best the gloves would allow. “Shit! He bled out.” Rhoda bit her lip and smiled. “Precisely. He was either very recently dead or… nevermind, that’s ridiculous.” “Maybe not,” Hargrove said, catching up with Rhoda’s line of thought. “Maybe he fell and knocked himself out cold. Might’ve been in a coma or something and they thought he was dead.” “Perhaps.” Rhoda watched the young deputy for a moment. “Pretty good theory, regardless.” “We need Foxy to take us where he found him.” Hart leaned in to examine the cuts. “This is a murder until we prove otherwise.” Benoit ‘Foxy’ Foxworth III leaned on the tailgate of Chevy C100 with his pipe clenched between his teeth. The truck was four different colors and two shades of rust, putting it at odds with the palatial home beyond. The Foxworths made their money in copper mining and then reinvested in oil which ensured Foxy could live comfortably for twenty lifetimes. Still, he never liked people enough to bother impressing them, so he only kept the truck running at best. The octogenarian sharpened the thin-bladed knife meticulously while he watched the battered Dodge Durango crunch up the gravel drive. Foxy kept the trees clear so he could welcome any guests with a warning shot should they come up uninvited. Foxy set the whetstone down and sheathed the blade before going to meet the officers. “I ain’t kill him,” Foxy said before the window was down all the way. “I didn’t reckon you did.” Hart put the SUV in park and turned his hands over thoughtfully. “Now if he’d been shot, that would be different.” “Well he weren’t.” Foxy stared at the sheriff before sighing and opening the backdoor of the Durango. “If we’re going back out there, you’re taking me to get some groceries on the way back. I forgot bread.” “I think we can manage that.” The ride along the old highway took them by Caroline Marvell’s Dine Inn motel and eatery, which counted as the area’s fine dining. The girl was barely twenty and inherited the establishment after her parents were murdered. She didn’t know much about business, but Hart made sure she turned a profit—any petty offense would be overlooked if you went straight to the Dine Inn and tipped very generously. Caroline waved from the front door as she finished setting up the sandwich board advertising the annual community Thanksgiving dinner that evening. The locals started the tradition when the mines dried up in the last days of the nineteenth century and kept it alive ever since. Hart even made a trip to nearby Marshall to pick up rolls and canned cranberry sauce. It didn’t seem like much of a contribution compared to the work others put in, but no one was hungry enough to eat the Sheriff’s cooking—including him. The general store’s freezer section provided the meals he didn’t get at the diner. “You been to the Dine Inn yet, Alex?” Hart asked. “It’s on my list of things to do, sir.” Hargrove stared out the window at valley just beyond the flimsy guardrail. “You really think it was birds?” “Weird shit happens out here.” Hart slowed for the turn on the old logging road. “Foxy, we going to be able to reach this spot?” “Mostly.” Foxy puffed the sweet, rich smoke between the officers. “Game trail is pretty clear but she’s going to be bumpy. We’ll have to go across the holler on foot though and then it’s about a mile as the crow flies.” “Why’d you go all that way to shoot a turkey?” Hargrove asked. “Ever hunted turkey, boy?” Foxy squinted at the deputy. Hargrove turned in his seat. “No. I used to hunt deer back home, but we don’t get a lot of turkeys.” “They’re elusive,” Foxy grunted. “The valley we’re going to has natural borders that aren’t worth the effort to most hunters—human and otherwise. When I was a kid, we called the valley Turkey Shoot, because there were so many of them critters about. Then came the ‘quake of ’53. Weren’t no easy way out there after that. No one hunts Turkey Shoot no more.” “So, what made you take the trip, Foxy?” Hart teeth clacked together as the tire dropped into a pothole. “Been hearing the gobblers out there for a bit. They’re getting loud like there’s too many of them, so I went to check and found a path.” Foxy scratched his chin. “When they opened the dam a few months back, it must have moved some stuff. Left a pass straight to Big Creek.” Hart turned onto the trail. They bounced in their seats until the tires found Foxy’s ruts and settled in for a marginally smoother ride. Hargrove braced himself against the dashboard and shook his head while they banged down the path. “This is more than bumpy.” Hargrove’s head thumped against the window. “Are we there yet?” “’Bout another twenty minutes,” Foxy laughed. Foxy had a great sense of time. Twenty-one minutes later, they got out of the SUV, put on their coats and grab some water bottles. “Is that,” Hart pointed at the metallic backpack, “what I think it is?” “Oh, damn. Umm, I forgot to tell you about that,” Hargrove said. “You sent me to Searcy County to buy their old gear last week. Remember?” “I don’t remember a flamethrower being on the list.” Hart scowled. “They used to burn weed crops with it and I thought it might be useful.” Hargrove shrugged. “Besides, it was only fifty-bucks.” “A flamethrower is never going to be useful.” Hart shut the hatch and shook his head. “Maybe next time you can find a bazooka.” Hargrove’s smile beamed. “I think they have two over in Pulaski. Want me to call them?” Hart pinched the bridge of his nose and started into the woods. They used the overabundance of rocks as natural stairs down the slope of the holler. Large outcroppings loomed overhead. Foxy crunched through the fallen leaves and detritus, leading the way to a groove left by a long extinct waterfall. It was steep and narrow, but craggy enough to allow the geriatric to shimmy up. Hart and Hargrove followed his lead. They made it to the edge of Big Creek where they took a breather on top of a large, flat rock. The dam at Lake Pocahontas drained along the formerly dry riverbed that people took to calling Big Creek. At the moment, it wasn’t particularly big. It looked like Foxy was right and the opening of spillway had displaced dozens of boulders, many as large as a car along this path. A series of calls sounded nearby—a rapid, putt-putt-putt that faded down and away from where it began. “Boys, we done been spotted,” Foxy said and pressed himself up, stretching his back before stepping into the creek. “That call means danger’s close.” A single yelp answered the call from a tree top. Then another to the other side. “What’s that mean?” Hargrove asked. Another half dozen of the short calls came down. Foxy squinted at the tree tops. “That’s the others saying they’re watching us. Come on. We’re almost there.” The leaves just on the other side of the creek were still damp with blood from where the John Doe had been killed making the forest floor a slippery mess. Hart huffed into his hands and rubbed them together. The man’s weapon lay undisturbed next to the largest collection of blood. A turkey feather twisted lazily in the puddle. Hart knelt and collected the shotgun, inspecting scratch-marks across the receiver. He eased the pump back and found a shell still in the chamber. A brown streak darted from the tree tops and disappeared behind a knee-high stone. Hart brought the shotgun up on instinct. “The hell was that?” Hargrove moved his hand to his pistol. “Was that a bobcat?” “No, numb-nuts.” Foxy laughed. “Was a turkey.” “Turkeys can’t fly.” The deputy saw the other men’s expressions and sighed. “Can they?” “Damn city folk,” Foxy grumbled. The bird bobbled out from its cover and Hart lowered the gun. It hissed once and called out in a burst of clucks and yelps. Another turkey answered him and lighted nearer the three men. Two more came down. A third glided past Foxy and settled beside him. The five turkeys, fat, juicy gobblers, started walking slowly. Their dangling snoods swelled and rose erect above their beaks and their wattles flared out. “What’s with the bird boners?” Hargrove asked. “That’s the snood,” Hart answered. “Means they’re excited.” “I know I’m sexy, but you’re really not my type,” Hargrove said to the closest of the flock. Six more turkeys dropped into the gaps between the others—also male, and also engorged. With the extra members, the formation became clear and the birds circled the men. Foxy’s knife hissed as it cleared the leather sheath. “They’re doing a predator check.” Foxy shook his head. “They want to make sure we’re not a threat, that’s all.” “Then why you getting antsy?” Hart looked at the old man and the blade trembling between his bony fingers. “Sonsofbitches are huge. Not one less than thirty pounds. And look at the snood on that one.” He stepped closer to the sheriff and pointed out one of the birds, then redirected his finger. “And that one.” “What about it?” Hargrove eased his pistol out. “It’s probably a foreign concept to you,” Hart said with a smirk, “but the ladies like big ones. There’s one dominant male in an area. Why are there two massive toms in this group?” Hargrove bent and squinted at one of the accused as they continued their death march around the trio. “That’s a mighty interesting question, Sheriff. I got a better one?” He shifted to a two-handed grip on his weapon. “Why the fuck has that one got flannel stuck in his chest hair?” Hart glanced at the bird and saw the shred of red shirt dangling from the beard and the slightly too-dark spots on its feathers where blood had caked on. He saw it, but he didn’t understand—not until the bird flapped toward him, gobbling ferociously. The sheriff backpedaled and fell with the bird coming straight for him. He raised the shotgun, barring the creature’s attack. Its claws scratched at the steel along with the older markings and Hart realized just what had happened to the dead man in Rhoda’s orthodontic mortuary. Deputy Hargrove kicked the bird like a game winning field goal and opened up with a barrage of gunfire before it could right itself. He grabbed the sheriff’s collar and hoisted him to his feet. The turkeys were no longer circling. They stood perfectly still looking at their fallen comrade and then at the trespassers. The birds took methodical steps forward, clucking between themselves and the circle began to dilate in on the humans. Foxy snatched the shotgun from Hart and fired, leaving a cloud of drifting feathers where a turkey used to be. “We should be running!” The three men sprinted for Big Creek, blasting away at their attackers. The birds gave chase. The trees rustled with excitement and the hens began swooping to the ground and joined in the pursuit. A fierce, primal gobble filled the valley and snapping branches signaled the coming of more feathery fiends. Hart looked over his shoulder in time to see the single, titanic beast tearing from the underbrush. The Saint Bernard-sized tom lowered its head and ran for all it was worth to catch up with the rest of his rafter. He quickly passed the others who fell in formation behind him. Hargrove dashed across the creek and took a knee, laying down fire for Hart. Foxy was hobbling along as fast as his eighty-three-year-old legs would carry him, but the birds were closing in. Hart stopped, turned, and lifted the senior over his shoulder. The slide locked back on Hargrove’s pistol and he reached for a fresh magazine only to find the holder empty. Hart crossed the creek and dumped Foxy into the deputy’s arms, wheezing from the effort. The men made it another hundred feet before Hargrove slowed and tugged Hart’s coat. “Wait!” “Now’s not the time to wait, kid.” Hart turned and stopped cold. Foxy limped ahead and rested against a tree to see what the hold-up was. He watched the birds flapping their wings and calling out in frustration as they paced the near-side of the creek among the array of scattered boulders. He raised the shotgun to his shoulder and lined the bead-sight up with the large, dominant male. “Don’t shoot,” Hargrove said, patting the air. “It’s turkey load. You get past the feathers on that thing.” “Kid’s right,” Hart concurred. “Why’d they stop?” “Because they’re dumb,” Foxy grumbled. “Them rocks used to be one big heap. They don’t realize the wall is gone.” “And they never needed to fly over it.” Hart backed away slowly. “Let’s get back to town and call Game and Fish. Man-eating turkeys is their jurisdiction.” “Why?” Hargrove asked. “Why are they eating meat?” “They always ate meat, numb-nuts.” Foxy lowered the shotgun. “Turkeys eat lizards and snakes. They get big enough, I reckon they start on squirrels and groundhogs too. That monster, probably takes down anything he comes across though.” “And the bird with the biggest face-dick gets all the turkey pussy,” Hargrove muttered. “Shit. These others are his babies. They got their daddy’s taste buds.” “What is he doing?” Hart pointed at the father of the flock. The big tom took a hesitant step forward, prodding the ground with long, slender toes before curling his claws into it. The snood dangling over the side of his face twitched and swelled. He clucked twice. Some of the hens answered with yelps and putts. Two males mounted the boulders, their heads jerking side-to-side quizzically before one of them hopped down and landed on the other side. The leader threw his head back and gobbled, causing a chain of jovial calls from his brood. “I think they just figured out they can leave,” Hart whispered. “They got everything they need here,” Hargrove replied. The smaller birds squatted and wiggled in place before launching themselves into the air, soaring just over the heads of the men. “Like you said, kid—they got their daddy’s taste buds.” Hart started jogging toward the car. “It’s Thanksgiving, they’re going to want to have supper with the family just like everyone else.” “The diner,” Foxy said grimly. “They can’t fly for very long, but they can go where we can’t. We can still beat them there if we hurry,” Hart said on the run. The tom cried out and leapt onto a boulder. For his height, he was considerably lean thanks to his largely carnivorous diet. Hargrove watched him for a moment. “Something that big can’t fly right?” he asked. “I must’ve missed Animal Planet when they was talking ‘bout giant, flesh-eating turkeys,” Foxy told him. The turkey squatted. “Fuck me!” Hargrove turned and darted after the sheriff with the bird’s wings beating powerfully overhead. ** The Durango slid to a stop in front of the Dine Inn with its lights flashing and siren screaming. Foxy leaned against the window, still panting from exertion. Hargrove sprang out and addressed the line of diners making their plates along the buffet tables. “Everybody get inside the turkeys are coming,” he shouted. Everyone cheered. “No, not the ones to eat,” he corrected. “The ones that are going to eat you.” The residents looked at the young man curiously and exchanged glances. Some eased further from the bedraggled deputy and others burst into laughter. None of them moved inside. “Listen up!” Hart cocked his rifle. “The deputy gave you a lawful order. There’s a flock of rabid turkeys attacking folks and I’m going to need all of you to proceed to shelter immediately.” “Turkeys can’t get rabies, Sheriff,” Barney Allen said. “And they travel in rafters, not flocks,” Willard Bly added. “It’s a new rabies.” Hart pinched the bridge of his nose. “It’s from China.” “It doesn’t matter what it is.” Rhoda pushed her way between the folks gathered around her table of assorted pies. “Foxy found a dead man this morning and what the Sheriff’s saying lines up. We need to get you all inside.” “That’s why you don’t let no dentist be the coroner,” Barney grumbled. “Let alone a woman dentist. It all sounds fake to me. Ain’t no such thing as killer turkeys.” The killer turkey that divebombed Barney did not agree. The man crashed into the arms of Willard, who screamed highly as the bird thrust its head into Barney’s throat and wriggled deeper into its prey. He dumped Barney to the sidewalk and ran, shouldering smaller diners out of his way. A tom hit him between the shoulders, driving him through a table full of greens. Everyone panicked. Some of the mountain folk drew guns and fired at the birds that were gathering overhead and landing in the streets. The sharp ping of a ricochet was followed by the hollering of the bystander it struck. More of the residents ran for the gun-racks in their vehicles for more formidable weapons. Most just ran. A shotgun blast removed the car mirror a foot behind Hart. “Every fucking time,” Hart groaned. “These yahoos are going to kill as many of themselves as the goddamn turkeys do. We need to wrap this up!” “I’m open for suggestions, boss.” Hargrove kicked a hen against the side of the diner. A jake landed on his back and pecked his skull. He shrieked as it tore a strip of flesh from his neck. He swatted at it, only for the foul fowl to roll and slice his hand with its spurs. The bird pushed its head into his flesh and the deputy fell to his knees. There was a boom and the attack finally ceased. Hargrove reached behind him and pulled the severed head of the juvenile from his collar. Feathers drifted calmly around him and Caroline winked at him from behind the sights of her shotgun. She pivoted and hit another and then a third. Hargrove tried to ignore the swelling of his own snood while he watched the girl pick off murder-turkeys like she was trying to win the big stuffed animal at a carnival duck-shoot. The rafter gathered its numbers. Turkeys swooped from the roofs and tackled anyone still running. A tom circled a pickup, clucking angrily after the prey that cowered beneath it. A pair of smaller jakes had no problem spotting the man and sprang at him, pecking at his legs. The man kicked at them and clutched the undercarriage as the birds tried to drag him out. An artery tore open in his fight, splattering the road and drawing more turkeys to the party. Gunfire erupted tearing chunks from the road and managing to kill a jake before the turkeys leapt back into the air. Bullets pinged through the body of the truck—and the body beneath it. The Walsh Cousins, all six of them that weren’t currently in jail, walked side-by-side with their automatic rifles bucking wildly between whoops and howls of excitement. Bobby-Joe Walsh dropped his empty magazine to the ground and spat tobacco juice from the corner of his smirking mouth. “Don’t worry yourself none, Sheriff. Nothing the judicious application of the second amendment can’t handle. Whoo!” The remaining members of the flock gathered on the store front eves. Eddy Walsh dropped one like a beer can off a fence post. The males threw their heads back and gobbled in unison as the rest of the Walshes opened fire on them. “Why aren’t they attacking anymore?” Hart asked while he checked on a clawed-up victim keening in the street. “They’re just letting themselves get shot. It’s like they’re waiting for something.” The alpha turkey plummeted out of the night sky and flattened Eddy beneath its bulk. Its lanky neck stretched in a flash and Bobby-Joe’s belly spilled open. The other Walshes found themselves as quickly dismembered before the behemoth turned its attention to a guttural cry from behind. Willard stood clutching two lifeless turkeys in his massive fists. His clothes were torn asunder and he leaked from hundreds of pecks, but somehow stayed breathing. He threw the carcasses aside. The tom tore open Eddy’s throat and gobbled at his challenger. Willard roared back and they charged one another. Hart raised his rifle. His leg buckled, sending the shot into the sky. The quartet of hens pecked him until he fell. The tom leapt on the run and took Willard’s head off as it glided toward the last person still standing. “Oh, damn it all to hell.” Hargrove reached for his pistol belt, pulling his baton before the turkey slammed into him. They crashed through the window of the Dine Inn and slid across the stained, linoleum floor. Hargrove swung the baton up to deflect the turkey’s peck. It reared its bald, pink head back for another go and Hargrove grabbed for its two-foot-long beard, tearing the hairs from its chest. The baton thunked off the monster’s skull and the deputy tried to crawl away before the leathery foot pinned his head to the tile. “Hey! Big Bird!” Hart raised the rifle. “Time for the main course.” He lined the sight up with the beady, saurian eye staring back at him. Then, the rafter swarmed him. Between the flurry of attacking fiends, the sheriff could see Foxy sauntering across the street from the general store. The geezer puffed his pipe and the bag of Wonder bread swung from his spotted fist like terror-turkeys weren’t murdering the townsfolk. A beak dug into Hart’s cheek, pulling him back to the current crisis. Hart clamped his teeth onto the bird’s throat and kicked another into the air, snapping his rifle up and blasting it like a clay pigeon. He punched another and the group launched away from their victim. Hargrove tried pressing himself up, but the tom dribbled his head off the floor. The deputy wasn’t sure which would crack first, but knew one of them was imminent. Caroline’s shotgun rumbled through the diner. The tom’s tail feathers spread and rustled. It lowered its weight, putting pressure on Hargrove’s skull, preparing to lunge… Then its offspring started screaming. The alpha turned. Turkeys flailed and flopped in the street, some dashed madly with their feathers burning brightly. The octogenarian stepped into the diner with the flamethrower casually slung over one shoulder. “Don’t you know. I always supply the turkey around these parts,” he grumbled. A stream of pressurized fuel shot through the pilot light, igniting on its path to the titanic tom. The jellied petroleum clung to its feather, withering them all the way to the skin. The bird shrieked and leapt toward the old man. The flamethrower sputtered, hissed, and then extinguished. Foxy stood his ground. The empty fuel tank clanged as it fell to the ground. Foxy’s weathered hand eased to his belt. Hart watched in terror as the bird with the funeral pyre plumage charged the senior citizen. His oozing wounds ached as he stretched for his rifle, praying to get off a shot before Foxy was torn to pieces. His fingers found the grip of the rifle and he wrestled it to his shoulder. Hart wasn’t about to lose another citizen of Masco County. He squeezed the trigger and the striker fell on the empty chamber with a sharp, soul-crushing, snap. Foxy turned away. His arm looped through the air and the tom ran past him, bouncing off a wall before collapsing. Its beak clicked open and closed on the floor. “Fried was always better than roasted anyhow.” The old man kicked the severed head away from him and shrugged. Hargrove rolled over and shielded his eyes from the glare of the burning bird. He watched Foxy slip the knife back into his belt and walk to the Durango. “I ain’t never liked these social gatherings.” Foxy climbed into the passenger seat. “I want to get home now.” “I guess we’ll be serving turkey through Valentine’s at this rate,” Caroline said as she helped the deputy to his feet. She braced him against her and helped him outside. “What’d I get myself into?” Hargrove moaned. Caroline scrunched her nose. “Things get a little strange up here.” Bodies littered the street. Rhoda was treating patients in front of the VFW with the help of other survivors. A siren cried down in the holler as emergency vehicles wound their way up the mountain. That’s what communities did when bad things happened. They came together. And Masco County gave them plenty of opportunity to prove it. Hart made it to the Durango and gripped the doorframe for balance. “What you doing for Christmas, Foxy?” he asked. “Avoiding you. I’m too old for this shit.” The old man jerked the door from Hart’s grip and slammed it shut. “And Happy Thanksgiving!” “Yeah.” Hart nodded. “Happy Thanksgiving.” And then he passed out. The End

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Ep.57 – Reaper Requisitions - Death is Only The Grim Beginning!

Episode Notes

Most people fear death, but that is only the beginning. We learn all about the life of a Reaper, the trials, tribulations, and of course paperwork... Lots and lots of paperwork...

Reaper Requisitions by Christopher Dowell

Music by Ray Mattis http://raymattispresents.bandcamp.com

Produced by Daniel Wilder

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Support us on Patreon http://patreon.com/IncrediblyHandsome

Contact Us/Submit a Story twitter.com/WeeklySpooky facebook.com/WeeklySpooky WeeklySpooky@gmail.com

This episode sponsored by HenFlix.com

For everything else visit WeeklySpooky.com

Transcription:

She felt numb. She remembered that it was only a short time ago when she felt her breaths slow and her body begin to cool. Everything seemed hazy, almost as though there was a film over her eyes. She couldn’t explain the feeling, but it felt as if everything had become disconnected, almost as though —

Her front door burst open with a loud bang as a mist began to pour into her home. Everything shifted to a pale shade of blue as a bell rang from all around her. Crows began to caw despite there not being any indication of the carrion feeders anywhere nearby. But something strange shook through her body as the tolling of the bell resounded: She couldn’t feel her heartbeat despite the fear coursing through her. Then, with a final ringing of the bell, silence filled her home.

A figure clad in black robes and a hood obscuring its face floated through the room and pointed at her. “Ask not for whom the bell tolls,” the figure in the black robes bellowed in a deep, echoing voice. “It tolls for thee.” As the figure came closer to her, its boney finger motioning in a “come hither” gesture, she screamed and ran as fast as she could to the back of her house and burst out of the back door.

“Listen, running just makes us mad and makes our job harder, okay?” The woman and the figure she now knew as “the reaper” stood in front of an elevator waiting for it to arrive. The reaper’s voice was now higher-pitched than it had been before. “Plus they won’t update our uniform. Seriously, running in these robes is annoying.”

The woman shook. “S-s-sorry.”

The reaper put its hand on the woman’s shoulder. She jumped. “It’s alright. Dying isn’t easy and, well, the show I like to put on makes it a little worse. But you’ll thank me for making your death seem like a memorable and significant experience after you’ve finished the 8,000 years of paperwork it takes to get you properly set up in the afterlife.”

Tears began to form on the edges of the woman’s eyes.

“I’m kidding. It’s not that much paperwork. But it is seriously boring.”

The elevator dinged and the doors slid open. The reaper took the woman’s hand and led her inside. An uncountable number of buttons lined the walls of the elevator and the reaper pressed the lowest one. The elevator jerked to life as it descended. The reaper saw the woman clench and her body tighten. “It’s alright. Just because we’re going down doesn’t mean we’re ‘going down,’ if you know what I mean.” The reaper leaned against the wall. “You might as well get comfortable. We’re going to be on this elevator for a while. If you have anything to ask, you’ve got the time before we get you processed.”

“Processed?” The woman turned, her eyes wide as she stared into the black void inside the reaper’s hood.

“Yeah. When we get to the ground floor you’ll get put in the department that best suits you. Or you could always choose to be a reaper, but, eh… ” The reaper trailed off as it stared into the woman’s eyes. “You’re better off just going where they put you.”

“Where they put me?” The woman looked away from the reaper’s hood. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

“It’s not too complicated. You see, what you’ve been told about the afterlife is somewhat true, but there are some differences. First off, there’s no Heaven, Hell, eternal punishment, eternal paradise, or so on.” The reaper sat down on the elevator’s floor and motioned for the woman to join it. She didn’t. “What we have instead is a bureaucratic, ‘efficient’ business situation where people are assigned tasks based upon their strengths shown in life.”

“Wait, then why are we going down?”

“Because that’s where the Assignment desk is.”

The woman slumped to the floor, hitting a few buttons on the side of the wall as she did so. “So you’re saying that all the good, all the bad I did in life doesn’t matter? You’re saying the only thing that matters is how good I am at filing documents?”

The reaper turned to look at her sitting on the floor beside him. “Paperwork, spreadsheets, flipping burgers, whatever career you’ve been found to excel at. Yeah. That’s exactly what I’m saying. Also,” the reaper motioned to the lit up buttons on the wall. “You shouldn’t have done that. We’re going to be in this elevator forever now.” 

“Wait, forever?” the woman’s eyes grew wide once more.

“Not literally forever. Maybe like 20 minutes. But it’ll feel like forever.”

The woman and the reaper sighed along with one another.

“Listen, boss, we gotta talk.” The reaper burst through the office door as a man in a pinstripe suit jumped.

“Haven’t you heard of knocking, 7142?” the man said as he rearranged the paperwork on his desk.

“Haven’t you heard of keeping your promises?”

“I have no idea what you’re talking about, 7142, but if you have an issue, you know the proper procedure.”

The reaper sat down in an empty chair in front of the pinstripe-suited man’s desk. “Listen, boss, I’m not going to go down to Complaints. It will take 70 years before you even get an acknowledgement that there’s a complaint filed, let alone know its content or go to Reparations to ensure that the complaint is received.” The reaper leaned forward. “No, I’m not going to wait any longer.”

“Whatever are you talking about, 7142?” The pinstripe-suited man rubbed at his temples. “You’ve got work to do. Those souls aren’t going to ferry themselves.”

The reaper stood up, knocking the chair over as he did so. “That’s exactly why I’m here. When I took this job I was told I could retire once I ferried a billion souls. The woman I just brought down to Assignments makes 100 million more than that. I’m done, boss.”

The pinstripe-suited man opened a drawer and pulled out a file labeled “7142” and opened it. He licked his fingers as he leafed through the documents, stamping and initialing random pages as he did so. He leaned back in his chair.

“You’re right, 7142. It seems you were due for retirement 100 million souls ago. However,” the pinstripe-suited man slid a form across his desk to the reaper, “if you look at your contract you’ll see that part of your retirement requires you to send in a request to train a replacement before you can resign. I have yet to receive a request to train a new reaper, 7142.”

The reaper snatched the paper off the pinstripe-suited man’s desk. It read the words on repeat and saw — in the smallest print the reaper could read with squinted eyes — that yes, at 1 billion souls he was to send a request form — in quadruplicate — to Reaper Requisitions for a recruit to train as an intern until which point said intern could perform tasks on its own. 

The reaper shook its head. “I need to take a long lunch today, boss. I have some paperwork to fill out.”

The pinstripe-suited man slid a form across his desk. “You’ll need to fill this out and wait for approval before you can take your long lunch. And I’m also giving you an infraction for busting in here without an appointment. You know the rules.”

The reaper’s shoulders slumped, and it shook its head as it took the forms and a yellow paper infraction. That yellow piece of paper meant the reaper would have to bring in another million souls.

61 years after the meeting with its boss, the reaper received approval to take a long lunch. This meant the reaper gained an extra 10 minutes to its break-time. When the reaper reached the Complaints Department, it already had its paperwork filled out and signed in quadruplicate. The reaper didn’t think it would take any longer to include a complaint about the robes. If approved, that complaint would allow the next generation of reapers to enjoy the freedom afforded to them by actual pants. But the reaper doubted it would get approved — at least not any time soon.

After the reaper filed its request for an intern and its complaint about the robes its lunch had ended without it having time to eat anything. It would have to pick up something to eat during its next soul run. It wouldn’t be the first time the reaper had to eat on the job.

“7142,” the speaker rang out as the reaper sat in Reaper Requisitions 124 years after filing his request for an intern.

The reaper stood up and walked to the window where a woman in a pant-suit sat behind plexiglass. She didn’t look up at the reaper as she stamped stacks of papers, which was fine. It allowed the reaper some time to admire the woman's pants and long for the feeling of pleated fabric caressing its inner thighs. The woman cleared her throat, breaking the reaper out of its pants fantasy.

“Get to the point and stop dilly-dallying,” the pant-suited woman said, still not looking up at the reaper. “You have no idea how busy it’s been for the past few centuries.”

“Sorry.” “So you’re here for an intern, right? I hope you’re not here to keep inundating us with that uniform crap,” the pant-suited woman stopped stamping and looked at the reaper. “Do you have any idea how much more work a uniform change would cause?”

“I sure don’t. That’s not my department.”

The pant-suited woman scoffed. “Of course,” she continued moving papers and stamping them. “Just take this form and go down to processing and walk down the hall. There are recruits waiting there. Interview them and pick the best fit." The pant-suited woman slid a form to the reaper, and it took it. 

“I thought you all procured and interviewed the interns. I don’t have time to take off to interview them. Isn’t that exactly what your department is here for?”

“Fine,” the pant-suited woman pushed her papers to the side and pushed a button. A loud buzz sounded as a door opened in the back of the room. “Go in that door. Your boss hand-picked this one as the best candidate. The intern will be in a room waiting for you. Now, let me get back to my work.”

Blinds which had “closed” written on them dropped down before the reaper could reply. 

The reaper stood up and walked to the door. It peered inside to try to see what was in there, but the reaper couldn’t make out anything beyond the dark hallway in front of it. Since the reaper didn’t know where it needed to go it followed the hallway as it twisted and turned. Most of the doors had a red light above them, so the reaper assumed those weren’t the doors it should go into. To the reaper’s relief, it found that its assumptions about the lights were correct when it came upon a door with a green light over top. When the reaper turned the knob, the door opened without any opposition. 

“Don’t come in!” a voice yelled from inside the room. But it was too late, the reaper had already swung the door all the way open.

The reaper saw a soul halfway through the transition from soul to reaper attempting to put on a set of black robes, but because the soul still had most of its human features, the robes didn’t fit. As the reaper walked over to the transitioning soul, it pulled off the robes. The soul yelped and moved its hands to where its genitals once were.

“There’s no need to do that,” the reaper said as it tossed the robes over a chair. “You’re transitioning into a reaper. You’re like a Ken doll down there.”

The now nude soul removed its hands from where its genitals once were and screamed. “Where’s my junk!?” it said as it slapped at the blank spot where its “junk” had presumably been.

“It’s gone. That’s part of becoming a reaper.”

“Well if I would have known that I wouldn’t have agreed to do it,” the soul said as it turned around and began to put on pants and a t-shirt.

While the reaper knew the soul could go back to having “junk” by renouncing its intention to be a reaper, it didn’t want to tell it that. Not with the reaper’s retirement on the line. “Yeah, that sucks. They should have told you that before you accepted the position,” the reaper said, also neglecting to mention that there was far more the soul wasn't told about becoming a reaper. “You ready to go on your first assignment?”

“Not really. I’m more ready to get my junk back.” 

The reaper hung its head. “Just follow me to the surface, okay?”

“All of this seems unnecessary,” the reaper’s new intern said as it set up fog machines around their assigned soul’s home.

Maybe that’s why you’re so jaded you decided to become a reaper, the reaper thought. “It seems like it is, but this is important. It makes their death seem like something that matters. Maybe if your reaper did this for you you’d see why it’s so necessary.”

The intern kicked at the dirt. “I guess you know best.” “Considering I’ve been doing this for more years than you’ve existed, you’re right that I know best.” The reaper queued a CD to play in a boombox next to it. “Now wait by the window and watch what I do. I may even have you take point on the next assignment, alright?”

The intern nodded and began to walk to a window.

After stepping on a hover-board and draping its robe over the device, the reaper pressed a button on a remote and mist began pouring out of the fog machines. Under its hood, the reaper placed a voice oscillator and set it to the lowest setting. Then, when the mist had engulfed the home, the reaper burst through the front door seeming to float, the robe covering the hover-board making the reaper move in a smooth, soundless way. When the sound of bells ringing began to play over the boombox, the reaper made its way into the house. 

As it entered, it said, “Ask not for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for—” The reaper stopped speaking when it saw that there was no one inside. It looked around and noticed that the window where it had told the intern to stay was open. “What the?”

The reaper heard people talking outside as fog continued to roll into the house. It pressed the button on the remote to stop the mist from spewing out of the machine — after all, acquisitions would give the reaper a 20-30 page complaint if it overused supplies like that — and rolled outside on the hover-board. Next to the silent boombox the intern sat next to a man.

“— when I decided to become a reaper,” the soul said. “That’s pretty awesome. Think I could be one, too?”

“Nah, you’re not cool enough to —” the intern stopped speaking when it saw the reaper come rolling out of the house on its hover-board.

“Interesting weather out here, isn’t it?” The reaper said, its voice oscillator making its voice bellow. The intern shook when it heard the reaper speak.

“Yeah, it’s —” the intern stopped speaking when it looked into the void of the reaper’s hood and felt the reaper’s anger flow through it.

“Say,” the reaper looked at the man whose soul they’d come to ferry, “do you mind sitting there for a moment while I talk to my cohort?”

“Sure, I’m dead, it’s not like I’m in any hurry.”

The reaper grabbed the intern’s arm and tugged it behind the house. Once there, the reaper looked over the soul’s shoulder to make sure the dead man wasn’t watching or listening to their conversation. He wasn’t.

“What do you think you’re doing?” the reaper said as it forced the intern to look into its void. “I told you to sit and watch, and what do you do? You messed the whole performance up.” “I told you it was unnecessary,” the intern said as it looked away from the swirling blackness inside the reaper’s hood. “Look at that guy,” it pointed to the man sitting by the boombox. “He’s doing just fine and it took me, like, three seconds to tell him what was up. That’s a lot better than your hover-board nonsense.”

“Alright, since you know best, I’ll let you ferry him down to be processed and then you can meet me back up here for our next assignment. How’s that sound? If you succeed in both of those tasks, well I’ll hand you my robes on the spot and you can be the next reaper 7142.”

“It’s a deal,” the intern held out its hand and shook the reaper’s. They then took the soul to the elevator and the reaper allowed its intern to take the man down the elevator all by itself.

Since the reaper now had some time — a new sensation to him since most of his time consisted of going on assignment, ferrying souls, filling out paperwork, filing documents, or waiting in lines — it decided to write a longer form of its request to give reapers pants instead of the tripping-hazard robes they’d had to wear since, well, the reaper didn’t know how long. The intern would be busy with lines, paperwork, processing requests, and so on. And without the reaper there to talk it through the proper procedure, the intern would most likely have its claims rejected multiple times before it came back for their next assignment.

The reaper put its hood up when it heard the elevator chime. When it turned around to see the doors open, its heart metaphorically grew cold when it saw the soul and a man in a pinstriped suit — the man who was its boss — exit the elevator with the soul. “7142, you have some explaining to do,” the man said as he pushed the intern forward. “Why was this intern spending time navigating the halls of Assignments all by itself without reaper assistance?”

The reaper’s voice caught in its throat — or what it considered its throat — for a moment before it could speak. “I, you see, well, I uh,” the reaper scratched the top of its hood before speaking again. “I gave that intern orders and it didn’t follow them, so I thought as punishment for its insubordination I would make it, you know, have to learn something on its own.”

“That’s all well and good,” the pinstripe-suited man rifled through his pockets, “but you didn’t file the proper insubordination complaint paperwork, nor did you file the request for punishment form, let alone a request for intern access.” He clicked his tongue.

“Sorry, sir,” the reaper grabbed its intern by the arm and pulled it close. “It won’t happen again.”

“It had better not,” the pinstripe-suited man handed the reaper a yellow piece of paper. “For now I am issuing you this second infraction. Should you receive more, it could affect your retirement.” He turned around. “Please don’t make me have to leave my office again due to your shenanigans.”

“Wait! One more thing before you leave,” the reaper handed the pinstripe-suited man the uniform change request form it had been working on. “Can you see that the right person in Requisitions gets this form?” 

The pinstripe-suited man snatched the document from the reaper’s hand then entered the elevator. The door closed with a ding. 

The reaper lifted its head and then screamed as it tried to tear the yellow piece of paper in its hand. The paper stretched and pulled, but no matter what the reaper did, the paper would not so much as tear. This made the reaper scream even louder.

“Come on, let’s get to our next assignment,” the reaper said as it dropped the yellow piece of paper on the ground. “And this time please listen to me, okay?”

“Sure,” the intern said as it watched the reaper struggle to peel the yellow piece of paper off its shoe after stepping on it. “I think I’m starting to like this job.”

“What, no complex setup this time?” The intern said as it and the reaper walked up to their new assignment’s door.

“No, not this time,” the reaper lowered its hood to reveal the face of an older, grandmotherly woman. “Sometimes thi—” “Wait, have you been an old grandma under there all along?” The intern’s eyes widened as it looked at the reaper’s face.

“No. As a reaper I am able to change my face when I need to. It will be something you are able to do as well should you pass your internship.” 

“You mean when.”

The reaper knocked on the door and put in its voice oscillator before speaking in an old woman’s voice. “Stay quiet and she won’t see you, alright?”

The door swung open and a young woman with tear-stained cheeks looked at the reaper. “M-Mom?”

“Yes dear, I’ve missed you.”

“Oh Mom!” the young woman hugged the reaper. “I’ve missed you so much. Things have been awful since you… well, you know.”

“It’s quite alright dear. That’s why I’m here. I’m here to make things better for you, alright? Anything you need, just let Mommy know.”

The young woman smiled and motioned for the granny-faced reaper to come in. The intern followed behind once the reaper beckoned it to. They sat down on a threadbare couch as the young woman walked into the kitchen. The reaper swept bottles of spilled pills into a nearby trash can out of sight of the young woman. It moved into a relaxed position on the couch as the young woman returned with a tray of rolls.

“I know they’re not as good as you make them, but I’ve been trying to perfect the recipe since the last time I saw you.”

The reaper took one of the rolls and smiled as it bit into one. “Oh dear, you’ve outdone yourself. I think these are even better than the ones I make.”

The young woman cracked a smile. It looked out of place on her sad face, but it seemed to brighten up the room. “I know you’re just trying to cheer me up like you always do, Mom. But it’s alright, I remember how yours tasted. These are nowhere near what you can do. ” “Oh hush, dear,” the reaper said as it grabbed another roll from the tray. “A mother’s love adds a certain flavor, but it doesn’t compare to the raw talent you’ve got for this sort of thing.”

“You really mean that?” The woman smiled again, this time it stayed on her face.

“Of course I do, in fact,” the reaper began to motion for the door, but before it could do so, it saw its intern begin to jitter in the seat next to it. It gave its intern a stern look before turning back to the young woman. “I know a place looking for a baker with your talent.”

“Really?” the young woman’s eyes lit up as she looked into the reaper’s own, kind eyes.

“Yes dear. In fact, you may even get to work with me on a regular basis. Wouldn’t that be nice?”

“You mean I’d get to see you again every day?

“Yes. Every day.”

“I would lo—”

“Enough!” the intern stood up from the threadbare couch and pointed at the young woman. “I don’t know what this” — he moved his pointer finger over to the reaper — “is trying to pull by looking like some old biddy and talking to you, but you’re—”

“Who are you?” The woman looked uncomfortable and frightened. “Where did you come from?”

“Me?” the intern pointed its thumb at itself. “I’m nobody. But the one next to me? Well that’s a reap—”

“Sit back down!” the reaper’s voice bellowed, overcoming the voice-changing properties of the oscillator. “You will listen to me or you will be removed from your internship.”

The intern sat down, a smirk plastered on its face. “Fine, but you should get to the part where you tell her she’s dead. Rip that Band-Aid off real fast, you know?”

The young woman looked at the spirit then back to the reaper that still wore her mother’s face. “Mom, what’s this thing talking about being dead? Am I? Am I d—”

She broke out into tears as she realized what was going on. 

As she realized what she had done. 

As she realized what these two things in her living room were. And, at that, her mind snapped and broke into sobbing, wailing pieces.

Outside of the house the reaper stood with its intern standing next to it. Its hood covered its head once more and was again filled with the endless void. It held what looked like a cell phone up to the side of its head. “Yes, one banshee for extraction at my location.” There was a pause as a voice spoke on the other line. “No, the intern’s an inconsiderate — my streak’s still intact.” The reaper sighed as it listened. “Not my call, but if it were, I’d have this intern sent straight to— yeah I got it. We’re on our way back.”

The reaper pressed a button on the phone and placed it back in its robe. It began to walk in the direction of the elevators but did not motion to or in any way acknowledge its intern.

“So uh,” the intern said as it began to walk behind the reaper. “Are we going to talk about what that thing was in there?”

The reaper stopped. “That thing — as you put it — is now a broken soul, a banshee. It can never regain its humanity because of the flood of emotions it felt when you made it realize what it had done t— You know what? Why am I even talking to you?”

“Because you need to train me, of course.” The intern continued walking as it passed the reaper. “I need to know about these weak spirits who turn into barn sheep or whatever.”

The reaper sped up and grabbed its intern from behind. “Those spirits are not weak.” The intern shrunk away as the reaper’s black void seemed to flow through it. “Those spirits had hard lives and took the ultimate step. If you did something like that, I think you would have instantly become a banshee.” “So you’re saying that we have to walk on eggshells because some spirits can’t handle their own deaths?” the intern shrugged off the reaper’s grasp. “It sounds to me like it would just be better to get rid of these ticking time bombs before they turn into those things. When I’m a reaper I’ll—”

“You won’t be a reaper.” 

“What? Of course I’ll be, I—”

“You. Won’t. Be. A. Reaper.” With every word that came from the reaper’s mouth, its voice pitched down an octave.

“Cute trick,” the intern said in a wavering voice, “but I’ve seen your voice box thing. You’re not gonna scare me with it.”

As the intern turned around, it saw that the reaper had grown to cover the sun setting on the horizon. Darkness surrounded as the reaper drew nearer, its arms now turning to shredding talons. Before the soul could scream out for something, anything to come rescue it, it felt the sharp bite of the reaper’s claws sink deep into its head and shred into its mind.

When all became quiet once more, the reaper pulled its phone from its robe and dialed a number on the speed dial. “This is 7142. I broke my streak,” a quick pause as the reaper listened to the voice on the other line. “Yeah. Got another banshee for extraction. This one is also at my exact location.” The reaper looked down at the broken, crying thing at its feet and shook its head. “No, I won’t be sticking around for this one. It’s the sorriest excuse for a soul I’ve ever seen.”

“How could you do that to such a promising intern!?” The pinstripe-suited man turned red as he waved fistfuls of yellow infraction papers at the reaper. “When I’m done with you, you’ll be lucky to retire when you hit a trillion souls, do you hear me?”

“Loud and clear, sir.” The reaper looked down at the yellow infractions covering the floor like confetti. “Should I return to Reaper Requisitions for my daily assignments then?”

“Yes. Get out of my sight. I can’t even stand th—” 

The reaper slammed the door on the pinstripe-suited man before he could say anything else. A yellow infraction printed out by the door and the reaper grabbed it. Oh well, it thought, as long as I’m around no reapers like him will take my place. As the reaper turned to go into Reaper Requisitions, it saw a line of other reapers standing in queue.

Tapping the shoulder of the reaper in front of it, it asked, “Hey, uh, what’s with the line?”

“Didn’t you hear, 7142?” the reaper pointed to a screen toward the front of the line. “We’re getting new uniforms.” “New unifo—” The reaper stopped speaking as it saw one of its co-workers stroll past wearing dark, pleated, two-legged pants.

“I don’t think a trillion souls will be that bad after all.”

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Ep.56 – The Babysitter - The Killer is Watching and You Have No Idea!

Episode Notes

A babysitter is watching after some kids to make some quick cash when the phone calls start... But the killer is closer than anyone could imagine!

The Babysitter by Rob Fields

Music by Ray Mattis http://raymattispresents.bandcamp.com

Produced by Daniel Wilder

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Transcription:

I’m walking down Sheffield Avenue, which is located over in Strickfield Commons. As I’m looking at all of the beautiful homes that line each and every block here, I remember that everybody and anybody who lives in Strickfield knows that this is where the rich people live. Further down this street, I can see the wall that surrounds the properties where all of those Mirrens live. It must be nice to have the kind of money that they’ve got. They sure don’t have to take babysitting jobs just to be able to make money. “Kelsey?” a woman calls out to me. I quickly come out of my thoughts and turn to see Mrs. Nancy Marsden standing in the front door of the house I’m supposed to be babysitting for. “Sorry, I guess I got lost in my own thoughts,” I say to her in my mousy voice. She gives me a little smile. “Well, come on in. My husband and I are getting ready to leave. We were just waiting on you.” I turn and walk to the front porch. I walk up the steps and Mrs. Marsden steps aside to let me come in. This house always smells like potpourri. Definitely a pleasant smell. This beautiful house isn’t one of those mansions the Mirrens live in, but I would live in a house like this if I had that kind of money. The potpourri smell is overtaken by the smells of something savory, which makes my stomach growl. Then Jonathan Marsden himself comes out of the kitchen. “Kelsey, glad you could finally make it.” “Um, aren’t you two going out tonight?” I ask. “Oh, we are,” he says. “I’m actually putting dinner on the table for you and the kids.” One of the perks about babysitting for the Marsdens? They feed me real good. Either they give me money to order something to have delivered or Jonathan makes dinner. I take off my coat and let Mrs. Marsden have it. Then I go into the dining room and see three very nice turkey dinners on the table. “Oh, you’re way too kind,” I say. “I’ve got to take good care of you, Kelsey, since you take good care of our kids,” he says with a wink. “Sit.” I go and sit at the table. Then the two children I’m babysitting come in and sit. Stephen and David are across from each other, nine and ten. They both give me those dirty looks. “Can’t you get a better babysitter?” Stephen complains to his dad. “Yeah, she’s such a nerd,” David adds. “Kelsey wears those stupid glasses and she can’t even play video games that good.” Jonathan gives them a gentle sigh. “Now, you two . . . Kelsey takes good care of you both, doesn’t she?” They give me their dirty looks again. As you can tell, they really don’t like me that much. Still, they can’t tell their dad that I hurt them in any way. No, I treat them with kid gloves and pretty much let them do whatever they want. When the kids don’t reply, Jonathan tells us to go ahead and eat. Nancy comes into the kitchen. “We’d better get going, dear. We don’t want to be late.” “Right!” Jonathan agrees. When Nancy leaves, Jonathan comes up behind me and pats my shoulder. “You’ve got this under control. As always, I’ll pay you when we get back. You’ll probably get a bonus if there are no issues.” Jonathan and Nancy leave. Now it’s just me and the kids. They start giving me a hard time again about my glasses and how I suck at video games. Then Stephen tells me the only reason their dad hires me to babysit them is because he says I’m a cute little thing. Then David tells me I look like a little girl. Sigh . . . I sure wish my body would have developed as much as my brain. They’re right when they say I look really young for my age; I’ve been told that I look like I’m twelve, when I’m really much older. I can’t even get into R-rated movies without having my I.D. with me. After we finish dinner, I go ahead and do the dishes. The kids are running around and acting like . . . kids. I have to tell them to settle down. When I’m done with the dishes, I join the boys in the living room. Then they attack me and start wrestling me. I end up getting a little rough with them, not enough to hurt them of course. In time, I get them to sit down and we watch a couple of movies (their choices). When it gets to be around ten o’clock, I tell them it’s time to head upstairs and go to bed. Of course, they always have to ask me if I can let them stay up a little later. I bend a little and give them another half hour. Then I finally make them go upstairs. In fact, I make sure they’re both in their pajamas and getting into bed. One other time before, I caught them messing around in their parents’ room. “Don’t even think about raiding any of the other rooms up here,” I tell them. “I can hear you downstairs and I’ll be up.” “Yeah, you’re just waiting for Dad to get home,” David quips. “Well, yeah,” I say. “He’s got to pay me, right?” “And then you can show him your boobs,” Stephen teases. I open my mouth wide. “Stephen! You are much too young to be talking about things like that!” I point at both of them. “Now get to bed! Remember, I’m downstairs and I’ll hear you if you’re messing around up here. And if I hear you . . . I’m coming back up here and killing you both.” They both give me pouty sighs and finally get under their covers. I wait a bit before I turn out the light and head back downstairs. I sit in a recliner and turn on the TV. I turn the volume down enough so I can hear it and not disturb the kids. There’s a news program that shows the Statton house, which is just a few blocks away, still here in Stickfield Commons. A reporter is talking about a murder that happened there just last night. Turns out the three children who lived in that house were all murdered – violently! They’ve been reporting on a lot of kids being murdered in the last few months. They obviously haven’t caught whomever did it. I click the remote and try to find something to watch. It’s one of those nights where nothing’s on. I adjust my new glasses and wish I hadn’t broken my other ones. I guess that’s what happens when you get careless, right? I turn off the TV and pull out my smartphone. Just as I’m about to mess around on it, I hear the telephone ring. It surprises me that the Marsdens still have a landline, as rich as they are. I get up and answer the phone. “Hello? Marsden residence.” “How are the children this evening?” this weird voice asks me. “Excuse me?” “How are the children this evening?” the voice repeats. “Um, can I help you with something?” I demand impatiently. CLICK!! “Stupid crank callers . . .” I mutter as I hang up the receiver. I go back to the living room and sit down with my smartphone. I open up Facebook and check out my notifications. Then I mess around on Twitter and post a few responses. After that, I look at some of my pics. After a while, the telephone rings again. I groan and get up to go and answer it. I pick up the receiver. “Hello? Marsden residence.” “Don’t you think you should be keeping a closer eye on the children?” It’s that weird voice again. “Seriously, what do you want? The Marsdens aren’t home right now. You’ll have to call back later. Preferably tomorrow morning,” I say, with a bit more impatience. “I wouldn’t get too comfortable if I were you.CLICK!! I groan and hang up the receiver. I realize I have to go to the bathroom. After I finish, I’m washing my hands. Then I’m looking at myself in the mirror. “Yeah, right. I’m a cute little girl? Give me a break,” I mutter to myself. I look myself over in the mirror again. The best I can do to describe myself is that I look like a small beanpole version of Velma from “Scooby-Doo”. I’ve got the same dark hair as Velma, except mine is straight and goes halfway down my back. I also have freckles on my cheeks. Then I look down at my chest. I can’t believe that Stephen would attack me and talk about my boobs. Okay, I’m not endowed like many of the cheerleaders at Strickfield High, but I’d like to think that I have enough to at least tell people I’m really a woman and not a little girl. So frustrating . . . I turn away from the mirror and leave the bathroom, turning off the light. And . . . the telephone’s ringing again. I groan again and go pick up the receiver. “Yes?” “Did you even check to see if all of the doors were locked?” A pause. “Kelsey!!” My eyes open real wide! “Seriously, what do you want?” “I’d be checking those doors if I were you.CLICK!! I growl and slam the receiver down. Then I move and check the doors. They’re all locked up tight. I even check the windows down here. I mean, the Marsdens wouldn’t have them unlocked anyway, right? Not in the middle of November. Seriously, what does this person want? Why does he keep calling here? I take a deep breath. Keep it together now. It’s just some idiot who’s trying to scare you for some cheap thrills. I return to the telephone and wait for it to ring again, which it does. I pick it up. “Now what?!” “You should have been checking the doors to make sure you could UNLOCK them. I’ll be coming for you very soon, Kelsey. There will be NO ESCAPE for you.” This time I’m the one who hangs up on him. I need to go and check on the kids. Then the telephone rings again! I swear I am going to rip the phone cord out! I pick up the receiver. “Leave me alone!” I yell. “In a little while, you’ll be more alone than you think . . . permanently! I’ll be coming for you in just a short while! You will belong to me!CLICK!! I have had it! I hang up the receiver and then pick it back up again. I dial 0 for the operator. Yes!! I can’t believe I actually got an answer – from an actual person! Must be the phone service the Marsdens are using. “Yes, I’ve been receiving these harassing phone calls. I don’t know where they’re coming from, but the caller’s been threatening me.” The operator tells me to call her back again if it happens again and she would try and trace the call. And that’s the end of that conversation for the moment. Not even thirty seconds after I’ve hung up the telephone, it rings again. I pick it up and hope it’s maybe the operator giving me a big break and telling me she’s found the creep who’s been calling me. No such luck . . . “You’re a very bad babysitter, Kelsey! Has it ever occurred to you that maybe you should go and check on the children?! You’d better hurry . . . because I’m coming for you. NOW!!CLICK!! I quickly call the operator back and tell her what happened. She tells me to hang up and she will call me back shortly. After hanging up, I turn to go and check on the kids. I hold myself at how scared I really am. I shriek when the telephone rings again. I quickly turn and pick up the receiver. “Leave me alone, God damn you!” It’s the operator calling me back! I quickly apologize! There’s no time for pleasantries as she tells me that I need to get out of the house immediately! She’s just told me that . . . that . . . the calls are coming from another line inside this very house!! She tells me she’s already got the police coming. I hang up and quickly make my way to the front door. I’m already hearing the sirens coming. As soon as I’m outside, the police car parks right across the street. Two police officers get out. Then the driver opens the rear door and lets a college-aged girl get out. I rush to the officers and explain everything that’s been happening. “I can go in and check it out,” the girl tells the officers. “Maybe clues got left behind.” “Not without one of us backing you up, Devereux,” Officer Strowe tells her. “Remember, even though you’re working with us, you’re still a college intern.” “I understand,” Devereux replies. “Which one of you is accompanying me?” “I will,” Officer Shuldon offers. Officer Shuldon accompanies the Devereux girl to the house. They both go in and look around. It’s several minutes later before they come back out. “There’s nobody upstairs,” Officer Shuldon tells us. “Devereux and I both checked out the upstairs.” Devereux says, “The two beds in the kids’ room were slept in, but they’re not there now. Officer Shuldon heard me calling for them, but we never got an answer.” “They’re really not there?” I shriek. “Are you serious?!” I run away from them and head back into the house. I don’t even hear the officers calling out behind me. I race up the stairs and into the boys’ room. Sure enough, Stephen and David are nowhere to be found. “Oh, my god!” I scream. “What am I going to say to the Marsdens?!”

It’s a little after 1:00am when I cut through a yard and walk into the wooded area between there and my house. Boy, did I ever hear about it from the Marsdens after the police called them and got them to come home. Needless to say, they refused to pay me. How did somebody just come inside the house and take the kids like that? How?! I’m halfway through the woods when I hear some twigs breaking just behind me. I gulp and turn in another direction. Seriously, who did I piss off? Who wants to kill me? Where did I go wrong? I run out of the woods and back out to well-lit streets. I keep moving and know I’ll be home soon. Just then, a car pulls up to me. The passenger window rolls down. It’s Devereux, that police intern. “Are you all right, Kelsey?” she asks me. “You want me to take you home? I don’t mind.” I look back in the direction of the woods and know I don’t want to face down that creep, if it turns out he’s really following me. Without a second thought, I open the door and get in. After pulling the door shut, Devereux starts driving. “Thank you!” I exclaim gratefully. “No problem. I just want to make sure you get to where you need to be.” “I remember who you are now. You’ve been on the news before. You’re Raigen Devereux. When the cops said you were in intern, I thought your name sounded familiar. You’ve been helping the Strickfield Police Department solve their hardest cases.” “Why, yes, you’re right,” she says. “I’ve certainly earned plenty of credit hours, that’s for sure. I was just told today that there would be a detective position waiting for me at the Strickfield Police Department after I graduate from the university.” I feel sad. “Too bad you couldn’t solve what happened to Stephen and David.” There’s a brief silence. Then Devereux talks to me. “I wouldn’t be too worried about the Marsden kids. When it comes to them, they’re just fine. In fact, there’s really no mystery to solve regarding them. I’d even be willing to bet that they’re explaining everything to their parents right now. But make no mistake, Kelsey Bishop . . . you are in a world of shit. I told you I’d be coming for you.” I gulp as she reaches into her jacket pocket and pulls out something that looks like a little speaker. Then she says into it, “Didn’t I, Kelsey?” It sounds just like the voice I heard over the phone. She drops the voice changer. “And now . . . you belong to me.” And before I can do anything, Devereux lashes out fast and punches me hard in the face. Hard enough to knock me out . . .

I wake up and look around. I find that I’m secured to my dining room table. Then I recognize where I’m at. The next thing I know, Raigen Devereux comes into the room from the kitchen and is looking right at me. She looks so . . . evil! I’m so scared now! “What do you want with me?” I cry. “Why are you doing this to me? What have I ever done to you?” Raigen pulls up a chair and sits down beside me. “Let’s answer those questions, shall we? First question: What do I want with you? Answer: To punish you most severely. Second question: Why am I doing this to you? Answer: Because punishing the wicked and the corrupt, such as yourself, is what I was born to do. Final question: What have you ever done to me? Answer: Nothing to me personally. However, you made the most unfortunate mistake of attracting my attention, Kelsey Bishop.” Raigen stands up. “So tell me . . . How does it feel to make the news? How does it feel knowing that you’ve viciously murdered so many children?” “I didn’t – !” I start to protest. Raigen raises her hand sharply to quiet me. “My proof!” She turns to a little table she’s got set up that has multiple instruments on it and picks up a pair of broken glasses. She has plastic gloves on her hands. “Recognize these? You should. They’re yours. I discovered them at the last crime scene, which was just last night – at the Statton house. I could have easily handed these over to the police. They would have fingerprinted them and found you themselves. But I decided that you should be next to satisfy my bloodlust. Of course, I have to make sure that I have sufficient evidence. I must make sure that you’re a hundred percent guilty before I pass sentence. “After secretly conducting my own investigation, I discovered one commonality with all of the child murders that have been happening here at Strickfield Commons. You! In every interview that the police have conducted, each parent said that you were the babysitter at each of the murders. You see, I’m there at each crime scene when the parents are being questioned. Remember, I work with the police. I’m not just there to gain credit hours. They rely on me to help them solve cases. Not to brag, but I do make the papers quite a bit with this beautiful brain of mine. On the one hand, I gain honor for solving the cases. But what the police don’t know – that you are finding out – is that I make the papers in a second way.” Her stare is really scaring me now. “I am also known as the Angel of Death! Your society has labeled me a serial killer. Perhaps I am. But you certainly are. Why would you kill children? They’re still innocent and haven’t tasted corruption yet. Yet, you viciously slaughtered them without a second thought. Please, Kelsey . . . enlighten me. Why children?!” She raises her finger. “And stop denying it. I found blood on these broken glasses and did a match with one of the victims. It’s definitely not yours. But the true evidence is indeed in your fingerprints. And your name isn’t really Kelsey Bishop. It’s Mindy Arkman. You escaped from the Glennview Correctional Facility, which isn’t far from North Ridgeway – where I’m from. You’re much older than you appear. I believe your true age is actually twenty-eight!” Now I’m very angry! “Those fucking brats deserved everything they had coming to them! Why should they get to grow up in luxury while I was forced to live in poverty? All their parents do is leech off of us ordinary people. We bite away! We fight and claw! And we can never get ahead! Because fucking rich people make sure we’re put in our place. My mom gave up and blew her fucking brains out when she realized she couldn’t afford to care for me. I bounced around from one foster home to another. I got the living shit beat out of me from one home to the next. I finally saw what I needed to do and started taking my revenge. You’re right! I am twenty-eight! But I’m small enough to look like a brat, so I used that to my advantage. I made myself look like different girls and took babysitting jobs for rich families so I could fucking kill their brats and make their parents pay for putting me where I am now. I even steal their cash they have lying around when I find it. There! Is that what you want to hear?” Raigen gets up and turns on some more lights. She’s got photos taped up all over the dining room. So many photos. All of them are kids I’ve murdered over the years. She raises a mini- recorder and turns it off. “I turned this on once I saw you were going to confess. The police will find this here when they find your body.” She puts a note on the recorder that says PLAY ME and sets it down. I also see my smartphone. “The police will find all of your pictures on your phone as well. Seriously, why do you people insist on taking pictures of your victims?” I laugh scornfully. “Oh! You really expect me to believe you are the Angel of Death? You? You’re going to kill me? Look at you! You’re way too hot – like a fucking porn star, especially with those big tits!” Then I growl and start thrashing wildly. “Struggle all you want,” I hear Raigen say. “The tape is industrial strength and I’ve perfected my technique with the bungee cords. You’re staying right on that table, Mindy Arkman. And this is where the police will find your body. And, yes . . . I am going to kill you. I must!” I look her over again. It finally registers that she’s wearing a rubber apron. She’s even wearing . . . a fucking bathing suit on underneath her apron. “Oh, you finally noticed the swimwear,” Raigen says. “Killing you is going to be quite messy this time up. But . . . this is how it has to be.” Raigen takes a huge cutting knife off her table and approaches me. Oh, God . . . ! Why does she scare me so much with the way she looks at me?! She’s fucking pure evil living in this beautiful girl’s body! “Wait!” I scream. “You have to tell me what happened to Stephen and David Marsden! I looked in their bedroom. They weren’t there! You said they were both still alive! You owe me that before you kill me!” Raigen shakes her head. “I owe you nothing, except for the death you so deserve for each and every one of those children that you murdered in cold blood. All you need to know is that I will leave you in the very same way that you left all those kids. After that, I’ll take a shower and put my clothes back on. When I’m long gone, I’ll make my usual anonymous phone call to the Strickfield Police Department to let them know where to find you. It’s time to satisfy my bloodlust now.” I shriek as she raises the knife above me. “And now, Mindy Arkman . . . let the punishment fit the crime!” And then I scream as the knife comes down and plunges deep into my stomach. I think I even feel the tip of the blade scrap my spine! I feel her withdraw the knife. I scream again as she raises the knife again and stabs me hard one more time. I manage to hold on for one more raise of the knife before I finally die when the third thrust cuts into me. 

  • *                         * I stabbed Mindy Arkman a few more times before my bloodlust was content at knowing that I had claimed her life. Then I proceeded to keep stabbing her and making her look as bloody and horrific as she had made each of her child victims look before their parents had found them. I was a real mess by the time I was finished. Having done my work, I went into the bathroom where I had my shower stuff set up. I removed the apron and gloves and placed them into a garbage bag. I removed my swimsuit and placed that into the garbage bag. From there, I got into the shower and cleaned myself off good. I was still wearing my flip-flops. I always made it a point to never leave prints of any kind behind. When I finished my shower, I dried off and put fresh clothes on. I remembered to drop the flip-flops into the garbage bag. After leaving the house, I went to where I had my car hidden. After loading up the garbage bag, I left to dispose of the evidence. What’s that, you’re asking? Oh, you want to know what happened to the Marsden kids, don’t you? Okay . . . Earlier, I had traced Mindy Arkman to the Marsden house. I knew the children would be safe for the time being. When they were finally put to bed, I came into the house through an upstairs window. I had to move quickly and quietly and make it to the boys’ room. I managed to keep them both quiet and to tell them why I was there. Believe it or not, they actually trusted me. I took the boys out of their room and told them to hide up in the attic. I gave them one of my burner cell phones and told them to wait for my call. Once I knew the boys were fully safe, I found the upstairs landline phone and started making the menacing phone calls. When I knew that I had scared Mindy enough, I left the house and made my way back to Strickfield University, which was a little over a mile from Strickfield Commons. You see, I knew Mindy would eventually call for help and play the scared little babysitter. Right on schedule, I was called by the Strickfield Police Department – on my normal cell phone. From there, the two officers, Shuldon and Strowe, came and picked me up. Then it was back to the Marsden house. Ah, classwork . . . So, when Officer Shuldon and I went upstairs and went through all of the rooms . . . Well, we never went up into the attic. But you’re getting the idea. The kids weren’t around. Mindy was to believe that the person who was calling her from inside the house, using the upstairs landline, was the one who had taken the children. Mindy was really scared by then. She must have figured someone was out to get her, because she played the scared victim very well when she tried to explain to the Marsden parents what had happened. Anyway, after the officers dropped me back off at the university, I went to my car and went back to Strickfield Commons. On the way, I called the boys and told them they could come out of hiding and to go find their parents. The boys would never know my identity, because I was wearing a mask. The phone I gave them was an untraceable burner phone. I found Mindy and picked her up. And you know the rest of the story from there . . . As for me, I’ll just have to dispose of the evidence of my involvement in Mindy’s death. Then I’ll head back to my dorm and go to bed. Having said that, I bid all of you . . . GOOD NIGHT!!

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Ep.55 – The Dead Thing Under the House - Sometimes Death is Only the Beginning!

Episode Notes

Blake has been tasked with going into the crawlspace to find the source of a putrid odor, but that was only the tip of the iceberg of morbid insanity that awaits him.

The Dead Thing Under the House by David O'Hanlon

Music by Ray Mattis http://raymattispresents.bandcamp.com

Produced by Daniel Wilder

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Transcription:

Old Man Jennings ventured from his home on Sundays. He’d amble down the gravel path that led from his porch to his mailbox for the weekly accumulation of sales ads and bills, and promptly retreat into seclusion. In Blake’s thirty-one years, he’d never seen anyone come to visit Meadowview’s mysterious hermit. Once a week, a lawncare service came out to take care of his yard. Twice a year, someone power washed his siding. He paid them all with a check, slipped through the mail slot, when they were finished. A barred door with two locks hung on both the front and rear of the house and they stayed shut. He would open the ornate front door with its beveled stained-glass window to enjoy the weather, but never the security door. His windows were much the same with heavy, blackout curtains on the inside and bars on the out. His groceries were delivered promptly at one in the afternoon, every Thursday for as long as Blake could remember. A little doggie-door, for lack of a better term, would lift out and Jennings would pull the bags through to the obscure solitude of his self-imposed prison. Theorizing about what went on inside the home was a Meadowview pastime as familiar as the annual crawdad boil or the town’s community yard sale. Depending on who you asked, Old Man Jennings was a Satanist, a serial killer, or a space alien. Some people even believed he was already dead and his ghost was just stuck there. Blake didn’t believe any of it. The ancient coot would have to leave the house to murder people, after all. As kids, Blake and his friends dedicated enough hours spying on the man to know that never happened. As an adult, his divorce had forced him to move back in with his mother… directly across the street from Jennings. Blake found himself peering through the blinds out of habit and the geezer still stayed locked inside, just like he always had. So, it would be an understatement to say Blake was shocked to find Old Man Jennings standing on the porch when he answered the geriatric’s frantic knocking. Jennings’ hair was an explosion of white that jutted from his dark scalp in all directions. The mane was much more ample than Blake’s own, which was retreating faster than a chubby kid at fat camp. Jennings stood on the porch with the grim stature and utter silence of an animated skeleton. Blake shut the door, removed the chain lock and opened it fully. “Mister Jennings, are you lost?” “No,” Jennings said. “There’s something dead in my crawlspace.” Blake squinted at the elderly man. “Pretty sure there’s people that take care of that.” “There is, but I don’t like strangers.” Jennings pointed a bony, accusatory finger at Blake. “That’s why I came to you. I’ve known you longer than anyone.” “We don’t really know each other, though,” Blake muttered in confusion. “Then how did you know my name?” Jennings’ lips peeled away from toothbrush-commercial quality chompers in what might have been a genuine smile. “Is your mother home?” Blake shook his head. “She’s in Toledo, visiting my sister.” “Oh? How is Sharon? Still married to that banker?” Jennings looked away and tsked. “Sorry, about your own divorce, by the by.” Blake’s jaw dropped open. “How’d you know about that?” “Just because I don’t leave my house doesn’t mean I don’t talk to my neighbors.” Jennings shrugged. “Your mother’s been my pen pal since 1984.” Blake looked over Jennings’ shoulder at his home. “My mom sends you letters? From across the street?” “She respects my eccentricities.” Jennings jabbed his thumb toward the street. “Speaking of, think you can help me with the dead thing under the house?” Blake sighed. “Yeah. Let me change into something else first.” He shut the door and headed upstairs. He wasn’t about to mess up his favorite self-pity outfit crawling around in the mud and spiderwebs that surely occupied the crawlspace. The thought of all those spiders hiding in the dark prickled his skin with a wave of primal terror. He pulled the Ghoulies II t-shirt away from his goose bumped flesh. Blake Sterling’s father gave him the most heroic name in history before he split. However, it wasn’t a name he ever lived up to it. Spiders were only one of his many phobias. Stretch marks peeked over the band of his sweat pants from a childhood full of expired Twinkies and Ding Dongs his mom brought home from her job at the gas station. Years of bullying led ‘Blake the Blob’ away from the sweets… and food in general. He looked like one of those kids the infomercial people feed for a nickel a day. His dainty form lacked definition or distinction, minus a single tattoo. His ex-wife’s name was coiled around a rose over his heart. He got it the day she said she’d marry him. The mirror inside the closet door reminded him of all the reasons Kayla left. Blake grabbed a black t-shirt from a drawer and pulled it over his head before changing into a battered pair of Wranglers that were already stained from painting his kitchen. His face soured. It wasn’t his kitchen anymore. He threw on his sneakers and didn’t bother tying them. The crawlspace was going to be more fun than his usual day of self-imposed purgatory. Blake slumped down the stairs and met Jennings on the porch. The two men made their way across the street and through the gate of Jennings’ chain-link fence. A piece of the butterscotch lattice was removed from the side of the house to reveal the access point between the cinderblocks. The mid-morning sun was blocked by the trio of white oaks in the front yard leaving Blake to unravel the mysteries of the crawlspace on his own. The putrid-sweet stench of rotting meat lingered leisurely from the opening. Blake knelt down and groaned. “A bit tight,” he said. “It’s called a crawlspace for a reason.” Jennings tapped him on the shoulder with a small, metallic flashlight. “The smell is strongest in my bedroom. Straight ahead fifteen feet and then hang a left. You should find whatever it is in that area.” “Right.” Blake took the light and let its beam stab into the tangible darkness. “Mister Jennings, are you sure you don’t want to call someone that knows what they’re doing?” “You’re a grown up now, you can stop with the ‘Mister Jennings’ stuff. My name’s Harp. And you do know what you’re doing, Blake. You’re pulling a carcass out from under my house for me.” He turned to leave then twisted back. “Oh, I’ve got an apple pie cooling right now for you too. Come get me when you’re all finished.” Blake shimmied into the space. The flashlight revealed a few broken spiderwebs dangling from the floor. Whatever died had crawled in along the same path that Blake now took and the goose bumps quickly returned. He clamped the flashlight between his teeth and crawled along, panning his head from side to side looking for the vagrant spiders as much as he was the dead thing. Once he made it what he surmised to be fifteen feet, he turned as Harp had instructed. A wave of steam swirled in front of his light and he paused. Blake took the instrument from his mouth and huffed hard watching the breath fog. He crawled forward slowly, shivering at the sudden bite of cold pressing against his face. The progression was like stepping into a meat locker as he left the warm summer air behind him. The temperature continued dropping with his advance. Something jutted out of the earth in front of him. He squinted at the shape, trying to discern its nature. It didn’t help. Harp’s pungent guest spread its perfume with exponential intensity as he inched closer. The light flickered and dimmed before it could reveal the source of the growing stench and then went out completely. Blake continued onward, shaking his head like a dog in an attempt to bring life back to the tool. It worked… And he wished in hadn’t. The illumination fell on the mound of disturbed dirt and then onto the arm—the very human arm that reached out of the shallow grave with its fingers furled into the soil. Blake followed the limb to the naked shoulder, up the livid flesh of the neck to the face. Between the strands of dirt-caked, blonde hair the dead woman’s expression was frozen in a final moment of stark terror. The flashlight plopped next to the corpse with Blake’s panicked screaming. He scurried backwards until he was far enough away to risk taking his eyes off the corpse and turned in a mad dash for the exit. Blake collapsed onto Harp’s porch swing. The neglected chains called out in a demented screech at the arrival of its first guest in decades. Harp pushed open the security door and watched Blake shudder with heaving breaths. “There’s a dead woman under your house,” Blake whispered. Harp leaned on the porch rail and crossed his arms. “Just the one?” “What?” Blake took his eyes off his shaking hands and looked at Harp. “Was there only the one body down there?” “I… I don’t know. I didn’t keep looking after I found that one. Why would there be more than one? Why are there any?” Blake shot up. “Why the fuck are you so calm right now? Exactly how many dead bodies under your house would you consider too many?” “Three,” Harp answered, matter-of-factly. “Three would be very bad. Did you bring the body out?” “I’m not disturbing a crime scene!” “Do you know she was murdered?” Harp raised an eyebrow and held his hands open waiting for an answer. When Blake shook his head, he continued. “So, it’s not a crime scene. She might have crawled under there on her own. I need to see the body to be sure.” “I’ll draw you a map, because I’m not going back down there to get her.” Blake paced the porch. “She was partially buried so that rules out your theory.” “And she was pale.” Harp opened the security door and held it ajar. “She looked scared and there was no blood around her. That sound right?” Blake nodded. Harp gestured for him to enter the home. “You’ll be my first guest since 1981.” “Did… did you kill her?” Blake watched the old man’s face fall. “No, but I know who did. One body means he’s found me. Three would mean he’s not alone, so let’s hope you didn’t miss any.” Harp Jennings nodded for Blake to come in. “The pie’s ready. We need to talk.” The tangy sweetness of the pie reminded him of the ones his mom served him every Saturday morning. It soothed him from the shock of his discovery. He speared a chunk of fruit and raised it to his mouth, savoring the smell after the one he faced in the crawlspace. It went down a lot easier than Harp’s tale. “So, a psychic vampire killed the girl and buried her under your house to say hello?” Blake asked around a mouthful of pie. “Moskon isn’t a vampire. He’s a moroi.” Harp stood up from the faded, thread-bare cushion of his couch and walked away. “They leave their bodies at night to eat the souls of the living.” “That’s definitely more believable.” Blake got up and followed Harp down the hallway. Pictures hung with yellowed pieces of tape along the corridor. One showed a smiling, young, Harp Jennings sitting atop a camel in front of a pyramid. Blake skipped the next few and found another showing Harp in furs with a pack of sled dogs. Harp passed through the archway of the kitchen. “I wasn’t always a homebody.” “Why aren’t the pictures in frames?” “The moroi can travel through mirrors.” Harp pulled a pitcher from an archaic Frigidaire. A single picture hung on the door from a heart-shaped magnet—Harp and a woman standing at an altar. He touched her face lightly. “I learned that one the hard way.” “Let’s pretend like I believe any of this. Why is Moskon pissed at you?” “The last time I saw him, I stuffed his mouth with garlic and sewed his lips shut before burying him.” Harp sat two glasses on the counter. “I’m pretty sure that might have been what did it.” He poured the tea and handed a glass to Blake. “I need you to help me kill him.” Blake sipped the tea and shook his head. “We need to call the cops and report the body.” “In the morning.” Harp pointed at the floor. He continued before Blake could protest. “Look. She’s been there this long, one more night won’t hurt. You think I’m crazy and I think there’s a monster coming to kill me. Give me until morning to prove one of us right.” It was a quarter past three in the morning, and Jennings was clearly insane. Blake’s chin dipped closer to his chest as he nodded off once again. Harp poked him in the thigh with a sharpened branch from the front yard’s oak trees. Blake snapped awake and clutched his makeshift spear, ready for a fight—not that he’d ever won a fight in his life. The garlic bulb crinkled as Harp rolled it in his bony fist. “We have to stay awake, boy. That bastard’s coming tonight,” Harp whispered. His eyes jumped around the room, looking for signs of movement. “You said the bars keep him outside. And there’s no mirrors he can use to sneak in here through.” Blake stood up and dropped his spear on the coffee table. “Even if he comes, we’ll never see him.” “Damn.” Harp licked his lips. “I wanted to keep him out for so long that I never about needing to lure him in. Think we should open the door?” “Yes, we should.” Blake squeezed Harp’s arm gently. “So that I can go home and call the cops to come get the girl. There’s no monsters, Harp. We’ll get this sorted out in the morning and get you somewhere safe where you can get the help you need.” “The help I need?” Harp pushed Blake away. “You foolish boy. I’ve seen things that would make your asshole pucker so tight, you’d shit spaghetti noodles!” He stormed to the door and threw it open. The stained-glass motif shattered as it struck the wall and fell like colored hail. Harp worked the locks open and pushed the security door out of his way. He spun back into the house and lobbed the garlic at Blake. “I’ll show you I’m not some demented old coot, Blake.” He pointed into the night. “We’ll just let him in. Then you’ll see a real monster. Oh yeah, you’ll see alright. This all ends right here when we push stakes through Moskon’s heart and trap his demonic soul in a prison of rotting flesh for eternity!” “I’m not sure how that was supposed to change my mind about the demented part, Harp.” Blake started toward the door. “I’m going home, now.” Old Man Jennings barred his path and pressed the point of his stake into Blake’s breast. Harp’s dark eyes narrowed with an intensity that made Blake shrink back. “You’re a coward, Blake. That’s why the kids used to bully you, why you’re always the first one laid off, and why your wife left you! You don’t take risks. You don’t challenge yourself. You never step outside your well-defined bubble of bullshit!” “Fuck you!” Blake slapped the stake from Harp’s hand and pushed the old man to the floor. “You’ve been locked in here longer than I’ve been alive and you call me a coward because I don’t want to stay and play pretend with you? I may have failed at everything I’ve done, but at least I’ve done something.” Blake glared down at Harp and realized what he’d done. He extended his hand to help him up, but before he finished his apology, Harp’s boot caught him dead between the legs. Blake gasped and fell to the floor, trying not to return Harp’s apple pie. The old man stood and dusted off the seat of his trousers. “You’re right, boy. I’ve been hiding in this house for thirty-nine years, but for the forty-eight before that I was goddamn Harp Jennings!” Harp dragged Blake upright by his collar. “I swam with sharks in the wreckage of the Saratoga. I climbed two of the world’s tallest mountains. I pilfered the pyramids of forgotten pharaohs. I dedicated my life to adventure and dangers and reaped treasures the likes of which you can’t even imagine!” “Then why are you hiding?” Blake wheezed. “Because Moskon took my greatest treasure.” Harp’s voice cracked. His lips quivered and the fury in his eyes turned to miserable sadness. “I killed a lot of monsters and a lot of men that weren’t no better. But I couldn’t stop him from taking my Mable. I didn’t lock myself in here because I’m afraid of Moskon killing me, boy. I locked myself in here so he wouldn’t kill no one else that I loved.” “I… I don’t know what to say.” Blake threw his hands into the air. “Maybe you murdered the girl under the house, or maybe there is a soul-sucking monster coming to get you. Either way, I’d feel a lot safer as far away from you as possible.” Blake hung his head with a sigh and walked around Jennings, straight out the door. He didn’t look up until he was safely through the chain-link gate. His muscles tensed against his attempts to look back at the home. The image of Old Man Jennings rushing down the gravel path with a stake over his head rippled Blake’s flesh with goosebumps. He turned slowly, expecting the worst. Instead, he saw Harp leaning on the doorframe in defeat. Blake gave him a curt nod and crossed the street quickly. In his haste, he completely overlooked the man in the black peacoat strolling down the sidewalk. Blake bumped into the man and apologized. “No worries,” the man said. His voice was winter fog, low and cool. He looked Blake over. “It’s quite some neighborhood here. Like a postcard, really.” “Yeah, it’s pretty nice. Have a good evening,” Blake said as he hurried up to his porch. “I see why my old pal Harper, chose this place,” the man called after him. Blake turned to find the sidewalk empty once more. He hurried inside and locked the deadbolt and the chain-lock. He kicked his shoes off and padded up the stairs to his room. He was going to put his comfortable clothes back on and raid his mother’s gin collection until he forgot all about the dead body, Harp Jennings, and the creepy man on the sidewalk. He peeked through the blinds at Jennings’ home. The old man waved at him and pulled the security door shut. The blinds snapped together noisily as Blake turned and went to the closet. He jumped away with a scream that would have made Dee Wallace jealous. His haggard reflection glared back at him in the mirror. He laughed at his own panic and bent down to retrieve his sweats and t-shirt from the closet floor. Blake paused, dropping the clothes and rubbed his fingertips together, observing the damp soil that came off them. His quivering breath fogged before him and he fell over backwards. Filthy blonde hair poked between the hanging jeans and slacks. The lamplight reflected pathetically on the cold, lifeless skin that stretched forth and crawled along the floor. Blake’s panicked breaths perverted his words to inarticulate squeals and grunts. He found his voice as the frigid fingers curled around his ankles and jerked him across the carpet. The dead thing was no longer under the house. ** Blake’s screaming would stop soon. The newly risen were full of such insatiable hunger. Harp sighed and clicked the locks into place. A man grasped the bars of the security door and leaned in close. A series of small scars lined his tanned lips where they’d once been sewn together. His hands smoked as they wrung the iron, but the man in the black peacoat smiled through the pain. Harp recoiled away and raised his wooden stake. “It seems there’s a vacancy across the street,” he hissed. “What do you say, Harper? Won’t you be my neighbor?” Harp lunged forward and the stake jabbed between the bars. Moskon took a calm step away and shook his head. “Meadowview is such a lovely place to raise a family, Harper. You’d know that if I hadn’t killed yours.” Moskon turned with a chuckle and crunched along the gravel path. “There’s such potential in these small towns.” “Come inside and let’s finish this,” Harp growled. “No.” Moskon held his arms wide. “See how easy it is to walk away from a fight, Harper. You could have done that once. Now, you’re going to hide behind your bars and your stakes and your garlic and you’re going to watch as you become the last man in Meadowview. Then when there’s no one left for you to care about, I’m going to turn you and bury you right there in your crawlspace. I’ll stitch your lips around garlic cloves with a stake in your chest so you can’t do anything more than spend your eternity rotting away in stillness—just some undead thing under the house.” Harp watched Moskon’s clothes fall, empty to the sidewalk as his body twisted into a tower of fog that disappeared into the predawn sky. Harp opened the security door and push it out of his way. Moskon was a monster of his word. Harp ambled over to his porch swing and sat down to the symphony of squeaks and pops of the neglected chain. It groaned as his long legs pushed him into a gentle rhythm and Harp stared at the stake clutched in his arthritic hands. Maybe he still had one more adventure in him.

The End

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Ep.54 – Another Mischief Night - She's Loose and She's Ready to Kill You!

Episode Notes

This is our Halloween Episode, so on top of our haunting story we have some fun skits and music as well to celebrate our favorite holiday!

On Halloween things aren't so good at the Forbe's mental hospital as their star pupil has escaped and gone on a rampage to quench her thirst for blood and carnage!

Mischief Night by Shane Migliavacca

Music by Ray Mattis http://raymattispresents.bandcamp.com

Produced by Daniel Wilder

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Support us on Patreon http://patreon.com/IncrediblyHandsome

Contact Us/Submit a Story twitter.com/WeeklySpooky facebook.com/WeeklySpooky WeeklySpooky@gmail.com

This episode sponsored by HenFlix.com

For everything else visit WeeklySpooky.com

Transcription:

Fresh from nursing school, Kay Farris had only been at Forbes Sanitarium for three months… yet, she was already sure she’d never get used to the building or the psychotics that dwelled within. 

Lightning flashed outside, it’s crooked fingers searching for the ground. Halloween was a few days away, but for Kay it may as well be tonight. The dark hallways and stillness of level 5 were creeping her out, and the damn storm wasn’t helping matters. 

Dr. Chandler had all the patients on level 5 sedated early; something to be thankful for, she thought, as she made her rounds. But with the storm it was really the only course of action as bad weather tended to knock out the sanitarium’s power… and since the doors were locked electronically, if the power went out, all the doors would unlock. The cheapskates in charge refused to pay for a backup generator. 

She stopped. 

Ahead was the end of the hall… and the last door on the left behind which sat Patient  15. 

Patient 15; that girl in the mask, Amanda Williams… she was worse than all the others. The girl just sat there, day and night in her white mask, never making a sound. Chandler, who had treated the girl since she’d first arrived, said she wore the mask out of shame… shame that her brother was murdered in a botched robbery while she stood by, paralyzed with fear.

Kay heard noises coming from the room late at night… not surprising since Amanda was the only patient that was never sedated as Chandler felt it unnecessary. Kay suspected the old man thought of the girl as a daughter. She chuckled, picturing them sitting down for a Sunday dinner. 

She started down the hall again when there was a bright flash of lightning, followed by a loud crash of thunder. The lights dimmed before finally flickering back on. 

“Spooky shit huh?”

Kay jumped, she spun around to see Johnny Earl behind her. The husky orderly smirked and she felt her face turning red. “What?”

“Down there. The last cell.” His loud booming voice trailed off into a whisper. “Patient 15.” 

“I guess.” Kay shrugged, not wanting to let on how freaked the girl made her feel.

“All the ghosts and goblins will be coming out soon. “ He made eerie sounds. “I can protect you.”

“Save the trick or treat shit for Halloween night, Johnny Earl.”

Thank god Halloween was on a Saturday this year Kay thought, safe in the knowledge she had the day off. 

“Hey, I’m sorry. How about I make it up to you?” He touched her arm, making Kay flinch.

“There’s some empty rooms downstairs, we could take a little break.”

She pulled away from the big orderly. “Not a chance.” 

“Stuck up bitch.” Kay heard him mumble as she walked away. 

Smiling at his disappointment, she walked back to the nurse’s station. An older nurse sat watching a small TV which sat next to a large Jack-o Lantern. Lightning flashed, causing the lights to dim again. The woman looked up as Kay approached. 

“Don’t worry.” The older woman took out a cigarette, lighting it up. “Happens every time there’s a big storm.”

A sinister laugh erupted from the TV. 

“31 Days of Halloween will return with: Jesse James Meets Frankenstein's Daughter after these horrendous arcane adverts!” 

Mrs. Bradley was the senior nurse on the 5th floor, which meant she could do whatever the hell she wanted… so, the old nurse spent her shift watching old horror movies and smoking.  

“How are all our little chickadees?” “Sleeping.”

“Good.” Mrs. Bradley coughed. “Sit down for a bit. They ain’t going anywhere.” 

Kay sat, stifling a cough. She hadn’t talked to the older nurse much since staring at Forbes. Bradley intimidated her, and Kay had heard stories from the other nurses that the old woman could be quite the tyrant if you crossed her… so Kay did as she was told and kept her head down.

“You like it here?” 

She felt her throat tighten as Kay strained to think of the appropriate words.

“Um…”

“It’s a shithole.” Mrs. Bradley laughed. “Don’t worry about trying to kiss my ass and say this is a great place. Do your job, put in your time, and if you're smart you’ll use this as a stepping stone.”

After a few moments of silence, Kay worked up the courage to ask a question.  

“How come you stayed?” 

Before answering, the old nurse tapped some ash into a coffee cup. 

“Big fish small pond. If I’d gone somewhere else, I’d have to start over again.” 

Johnny Earl sauntered towards them. “Well, well. Nobody told me it was break time.” He made a hurt face. 

Standing, Kay adjusted her uniform. “Well, back to it.” She walked by Johnny Earl, giving him the cold shoulder. Kay could feel them both watching her as she walked away. She listened to the squeak of her sneakers on the cold linoleum floor. 

Outside lightning  flashed, the brightest one yet. On its heels was a building-shaking rumble as thunder rolled above the earth. 

The light’s flickered and hummed again before going out. This time, they remained dark. 

“Oh fuck.” Kay muttered to herself. She stood alone in the hallway, darkness surrounding her. Kay used the faint light from outside to find the wall. Slowly, feeling along the wall, her hand glided over the concrete of the wall and the metal of the doors. 

She continued on this way until she bumped face first into the wall at the hall’s end.

Embarrassed, Kay headed back. She could see the pumpkin grinning there by the now dark TV. A fiery face grinning at her… a beacon in the dark.

Another sharp blast of lightning revealed the older nurse sitting there in her chair. Kay’s eyes strained to adjust after the bright flash of light.

“This is something.” Kay said, feeling a little better in the veteran’s presence. “I’m sure the power will be back on soon, right?”

Unable to see but the faintest outline of the older nurse, Kay turned the face of the Jack-O-Lantern towards the woman.

“Mrs. Bradley?”

The woman’s head slumped to the side, her eyes open and wide. Her swollen tongue hung limp from her mouth, which was frozen in a silent scream.

Nearly tripping over her own feet, Kay backed away. 

What should she do? Find Johnny Earl… call the cops? 

Slowly turning, Kay came face to face with a blank white face mask. Narrowed eyes sized her up from behind it. 

“Amanda.” Was all Kay could spit out before strong muscular hands gripped her by the throat, lifting her off the ground. Amanda’s eyes met Kay’s… cold, deep and somehow innocent. 

Suddenly there was a deafening crack and it was over. Kay’s body hit the linoleum floor with a dull thud. Amanda stepped over the body without a second glance. She had much to do. 


Kyle Williams felt guilty as he put on his Halloween costume. Amanda would want him to go out, have a good time. The thought of her made him touch the side of his face as he ran his hand over the scar on his cheek. 

If only he’d done something to help her that night. 

“Come on lead ass!” 

Trevor, his impatient roommate stood in the door dressed as Dracula. 

“Them wild wild women ain’t waiting forever.” 

“Sure, almost done.”

Truthfully, he was glad to be going… it was a chance to get out of the dorm, instead of sitting around by himself while everybody had fun.

“I can’t believe you're going as a hobo.”

“I’m not a hobo.” Kyle groaned. “I’m Dr. Who.”

“I’ve seen Dr. Who, he doesn’t dress like a hobo.”

“The second one did.”

Trevor shook his head. “Whatever man, I’ll take your word for it. Let’s go.”


As they pulled up the driveway, Kyle was amazed by just how many people were there.

“Holy shit.” 

“Got that right.” Trevor said, looking for an open spot on the lawn to park. “I think the whole collage is here and then some.”

Finding a spot on the outer edge of the lawn. Trevor parked. They got out, both marveling at the lit up three story house. Halloween lights crisscrossing it’s front.

A pretty Latino woman in a revealing red dress and shoddy black wig, a close enough approximation of Sigourney Weaver from Ghostbusters, brushed past Kyle as he and Trevor made their way towards the house.

“Sorry.” She said, turning to look at Kyle, before disappearing behind a van. 

“No prob.” Kyle replied. Watching her go.

“Dude, she was checking you out.”

“Yeah right.”

“Fuck, she was. Trust me.”

“Really?”

Trevor nods. “Go on. I’ll be inside.” 

Kyle hesitated for a moment, before going to look for the girl in the red dress.

Poking his head around the other side of the van, Kyle scanned the rows of parked cars.  A guy, his hair pulled back in a ponytail, dressed in a karate gi and a blonde girl in a cheerleader uniform stared at him as he prowled around looking for the girl.

He headed back towards where they’d parked. It was like the girl had vanished into thin air. “Hey. Over here.”

Kyle turned to see the girl in the red dress leaning against a tree. “Hi.” He stammered. 

She beckoned him over. 

“Kyle Williams?”

“Y-yeah.”

“Come with me if you want to live.”

“What?”

“I always wanted to say that.”

A man cleared his throat, stepping from behind a tree. “Officer Mortez, we don’t have time for shenanigans.” 

The man rubbed his hands together. His thinning white hair was combed back. Kyle was very familiar with the little man.

“Dr. Chandler?” Kyle said, perplexed. “What are you doing here? Did something happen?”

The doctor stroked his chin. “Your sister escaped… after killing two nurses and an orderly.” 

“And later she stole a car after killing a motorist.” Mortez added.

Kyle looked at the pair dumbfounded. “What… why?”

Mortez scanned the area. “Let’s get to the car. We can talk about it there. I don’t like being out in the open.”

She hustled them to an unmarked car. 

Kyle stopped. “What about Trevor? I don’t want to just ditch him.”

Mortez pushed Kyle into the back seat in response.

Chandler slid into the passenger seat just in time as Mortez peeled out. 

“How is this possible doc?” Kyle asked. “I thought she was harmless?”

“It’s complicated. Something must have been triggered within her.”

As the doctor tried to explain his theory, Kyle became aware of headlights bearing down on them.

“Are we… ” Mortez cut him off. “Being followed? Yes, since we left the party.” 

“So, you're a cop?”

“Sure am.” She said, their eyes meeting in the rear-view mirror. 

“Great legs for a cop.” Kyle said, under his breath as he looked over his shoulder.

Mortez took a radio from the dash. “Got the kid and the doc, heading in. Over.”

“Kid?” Kyle mumbled. “I’m in college.”

Kyle could hear the other car gunning it’s engine as it accelerated before pulling up alongside them. Kyle made out an all too familiar face in the driver’s seat… his sister’s blank white face mask stared back at him.

Amanda swerved the car into them. 

Mortez fought to keep the car on the road as the car struck them again. 

“Why the hell is she doing this?” Kyle screamed over the scrapping of metal.

Mortez managed to shake off the other car for a moment, but Amanda hit the gas and rammed their car again. 

“Your sister is getting on my nerves!” Mortez snapped. 

As Amanda continued her assault, Kyle leaned over the front seat. He looked at Chandler who was sweating profusely. 

“Why is she doing this doc?” 

Chandler looked ready to faint.

“She wants to kill you.”

Before Kyile had a chance to process this, Amanda sent their car flying off the road and into a ditch. Kyle wasn’t sure which one of them was screaming at the top of their lungs, before he realized it was himself as darkness descended upon him.


“Hey, Great Gatsby, wake the fuck up.” 

He looked up to see Mortez hovering over him. As she pulled him up he saw Chandler nursing a nasty gash on his forehead.

“Where is she?” Kyle asked, feeling a sting of pain in his back. 

“Don’t know. We gotta get out of here.” Moretz pulled a pistol from a thigh holster, flashing a bit of leg. “I radioed in our situation, there’s nobody close and I’m not hanging around here waiting for your crazy sister to show up.” 

She popped the trunk open. Rummaging around, she pulled out a tire iron and offered it to Kyle.

“Merry Christmas. Don’t say I never gave you anything.”

He took it, turning the dingy looking metal bar over in his hands.

“If I can get close enough… ” Chandler spoke up. “…you won’t need violence.” He pulls a syringe from his jacket. “I can sedate her.”

Mortez frowned. “We’ll see doc. Can you walk okay?” 

“I think so, officer.” 

Kyle helped him forward as they headed into the treeline beyond the ditch. Mortez took point.

Kyle leaned in close as he helped Chandler step over a tree root. “Why is she doing this?” 

“As you know, your sister believes you died in that home invasion.” He wheezed between words. “Think of that time you visited her in the hospital, when she became agitated… ”

Agitated was one way to say it, Kyle thought. 

He could still remember that day. Not that long after that Halloween invasion, the doctor had ushered him into her room. Upon seeing him, Amanda had started screaming at the top of her lungs. A wild, terrified look in her eyes. Since then, his visits consisted of seeing her through two way glass. 

The doctor cleared his throat before finishing. “What I learned is, your sister feels you are an impostor… a phony duplicate of her brother. A doppelganger.” 

Kyle let the words sink in as they made slow progress through the heavily wooded area. His sister, the one he loved more than anything else in life, truly wanted to destroy him.  

Mortez motioned for them to stop. 

“There’s a field up ahead. Sit tight. I’ll take a look.”

“Not a good idea.” Kyle replied. 

“Chill kid, I’m just going five feet.” 

She slipped through the trees as Kyle shook his head. “I’m not a kid.”

After a few minutes, Mortez came back.

“Looks like a farm in the distance… can’t tell if there’s anybody there. I think it’s our best bet. There might be a phone or a car.” 

Beyond the trees was a large field, overgrown with tall grass. As they started across, Kyle felt his heart beat faster. Amanda could be anywhere out here, lying in wait… the grass was over waist high… tall enough to conceal one very pissed off sister.

A cool autumn breeze rolled over the field. The grass swayed back and forth. 

Kyle’s eyes darted back and forth as he gripped the tire iron tightly. 

Suddenly he caught a black shape off to their left in the field, just sitting. Moonlight gave it a vague, ominous shape. 

“What the hell is that?” 

“What is what?” Mortez asked. 

“There.” Kyle pointed with the tire iron.

“Tractor, maybe.” Chandler offered. 

They kept going. 

Like some great beast opening its eyes after a long slumber, headlights flooded the field as the dark shape roared to life… the car’s tires peeling out as it shot towards the trio.

“Shit!” Mortez spat as she took aim. 

She fired off a round as the car screamed towards her. 

Mortez dove to the side as the car barreled by, headed straight towards Chandler and Kyle.

Kyle grabbed Chandler and pushed the startled doctor to the ground and out of the car’s path.

The vehicle spun around for another attempt. 

Kyle was running and screaming before he even realized what he was doing. All that he knew was he had to draw the car away from them. 

“Amanda!” Kyle screamed as he ran full tilt towards the farmhouse. Maybe there was something there he could stop his sister with. 

Adrenaline was the only thing fueling his flight. He ran, huffing and puffing, until the world slipped out from beneath his feet and he fell face first to the grass. 

Regaining his wits, Kyle rolled at the last possible minute out of the way of the oncoming car.

Screeching to a stop, the car now blocked his path to the farmhouse. Amanda met his gaze behind the wheel of the car. 

Getting to his feet, Kyle felt the sting of a skinned knee and a twisted ankle acquired from his tumble.

Hobbling towards the barn, he heard the car slowly turn around. No rush, she had plenty of time to kill him. The brake lights bathed the landscape in a bloody red hue. 

The place looked deserted… a good thing; no one else to get in his sister’s path. Kyle pushed open the large barn doors, the headlights of the slowly approaching car at his back illuminated the dusty interior. 

Kyle entered the barn as the car crept further towards him. 

He could feel Amanda’s eyes fixed on him.as well as the weight of the tire iron in his hand. 

He turned as the car lurched forward and stopped... then moved forward again. It was halfway in the barn now. She was taunting him… playing with him. The high beams stung his eyes as the car drew closer.


“Goddam!” 

Mortez pushed tall stalks of grass out of her way. When she’d gone down after the car had nearly clipped her, she’d lost her gun… a fucking rookie mistake. It had to be here somewhere. 

She glanced up, across the field. The light from the car was still visible.

“Stay here doc.” She ordered. “I gotta help the kid.”

Chandler tried to say something and she cut him off.

“You’ll be a bigger help finding my gun.”

“Take this then.” He handed her the syringe. “It’ll put her out quick.”

She took off running. 

If the kid was dead when she got there, Mortez would make sure his sister was too. “Fuck knocking her out. No going back to a nice cell for that bitch” she thought, and if Chandler didn’t like that he could take it up with her captain. 


The car stopped a couple feet from where Kyle stood. 

The roar of the great beast died as Amanda turned the car off. The bright blinding headlights faded, leaving spots in Kyle’s eyes. 

Spots or not, he could see the pale white mask watching him from behind the wheel. 

“C’mon.” he taunted. “You want me? I’m right here.”

The car door swung open as Amanda exited the vehicle. Her eyes blazed behind the mask, studying him.

“It’s me.” Kyle said. “Don’t you recognize me sis?”

As Amanda moved away from the car, Kyle could see she was holding a large knife in her blood stained hands. 

He held out the tire iron at the end of his trembling arm.

“I don’t want to hurt you… okay?”

She moved forward. Her gaze never left him.

“I’m not some copy you know? It’s me, Kyle.” 

Raising the blade, she advanced. 

“Remember when Bobby Iver stole my bookbag? You threatened to kick his ass after school if he didn’t give it back.” 

Amanda stopped. Her eyes locked on him.

“C’mon, there has to be something there.” Kyle pleaded. “Remember when you were hung up on Stevie Lee? You were crying in your room and I sat with you? You have to remember.” 

She raised the knife over her head, ready to strike. 

Kyle touched the scar on his cheek. “See this? That man did this. He lied about killing me to his buddy. Lied to save me. I didn’t die that night.”

Amanda’s hand shook. She started to lower the knife. 

“Don’t you fucking move, you crazy bitch!”

Mortez stood behind the car holding a broken board. 

“Stay away!” Kyle warned. 

Amanda turned towards the young cop and let out an inhuman howl. She leapt onto the car’s roof in two swift movements. She crouched there, scraping the car’s roof with her knife. 

Kyle rushed forward, trying to put himself between the two. He was too late as Amanda jumped off the car, towards Mortez. Kyle caught a glimpse of the blade as the two women collided. 

The two struggled as Kyle tried in vain to separate them.

Kyle was pushed away from the skirmish but managed to see Amanda stand, holding Mortez by the throat. His sister’s fingers tightened like a constrictor on the cop’s neck. 

For her part, the struggling Mortez managed to land a solid punch to Amanda’s face, stunning the woman and cracking her mask in the process… but her grip remained firm.

“Let her go!” Kyle pleaded. “We can go home… I’ll take you.”

Amanda let go of Mortez, and turned to her brother, half of her mask gave way revealing the pale beautiful face of a young woman. 

Still gasping for air, Mortez jammed the syringe into Amanda’s shoulder. Amanda responded with a backhand that sent Moretz violently to the ground.

She started to walk away from them, staggering as she went, until finally collapsing against the side of the car.

Kyle took her in his arms, sliding her into the back seat of the car.

“What are you doing?” Mortez asked, barely able to speak. 

“I’m taking her home.” He said getting into the car.

“She’ll kill you.”

“We’re family.” he said, starting the car. 

Mortez could only lean weakly against the barn door, and watch them drive off into the black October night. 

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Ep.53 – The Pumpkin King - Hungry Zombies Are on the Prowl!

Episode Notes

On Halloween Night two of the most unlikely heroes you could ever imagine are tasked with fending off the undead and coming face to face with the impossibly evil Pumpkin King!

The Pumpkin King by David O'Hanlon

Music by Ray Mattis http://raymattispresents.bandcamp.com

Produced by Daniel Wilder

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Transcription:

Barley and Clyde Sawyer were not the nicest men in Boucher, Arkansas. If they were, they never would have found themselves in my employment. The rural community of Boucher was somewhere between a large town and a small city and had attracted, throughout its years, a veritable rogues’ gallery ranging from petty thieves to serial killers. The Sawyer cousins fell somewhere in the middle of that spectrum. The boys worked any number of odd jobs, but often supplemented their income by... creative means. The cousins were the perfect partnership, seeing as Barley was strong as an ox and Clyde was, well almost, smart as one. What Clyde lacked in intelligence he made up for in loyalty and tenacity. Qualities found rarely in men of his ilk, if they’re ever found at all. Clyde brought a heart of gold to the team— fool’s gold, as it may have been. And damned if he wasn’t the best shot, I’ve ever known. Barley on the other hand, was not. In fact, if the boy managed to hit the broadside of a barn, you could safely bet he’d been aiming the opposite direction. Luckily for him, he was hellfire in a brawl. Barley also served as the thinker of the two—a meager accomplishment, to be sure. It was, as it turns out, Barley’s bright idea that led the boys to my doorstep. My name is Barnabas A. Lambert and I will do my best to relate to you the events that would later bring me to employ Barley and Clyde. Some of the details may have been exaggerated in their recollections, so please try not to hold that against me—I’m only telling you, how I heard it. “Well sumbitch, Clyde,” Barley said. He said it a lot. It was only by the inflection that Clyde Sawyer knew exactly how to take it. The slow, drawn out tempo of the catchphrase told him Barley was not at all impressed by the turn of events. Clyde never missed a shot, not even on purpose. It was like every bullet he fired magically found the bullseye. The fat man’s head leaked across the truck bed. “Could’ve at least wrapped him in plastic,” Barley griped. “I ain’t have none.” Clyde wheezed and dug in his pocket for his inhaler. “That bastard weighs a ton and I had to pick him up all by my lonesome.” “If you hadn’t shot him in the head, you wouldn’t have had to pick him up at all.” Barley grabbed the man’s collar and jerked him out of the back of the truck in three tries. The body poured over the tailgate into a contorted heap. “Ugh! He squirted brain juice on me. I didn’t say anything about shooting him.” “Ain’t say nothing about not shooting him either.” Clyde straightened the corpse out. “Things got a little out of hand. I had to improvise.” Author’s Surname / Barley and Clyde Meet the Pumpkin King / 3 “Out of hand, my ass. You just needed to give him the brick and get the bag of money.” Clyde sighed. “I got the money and we can sell the brick again.” “Ain’t the point, Clyde.” Barley shook his head. “What kind of drug dealers can’t be trusted to keep their word?” Clyde scratched his head. “All of them, I reckon.” “Well, that shit’s gotta change.” Barley grabbed the man’s ankles. “Lift with your knees. We ain’t got no workman’s comp.” Clyde hooked the body under the arms and they began the arduous trek down the levy with their portly cargo. Thanks to Clyde’s hair-trigger and Barley’s short-temper, the duo was getting good at disposing of unwanted bodies—a skill they sold to others, as well. “Clyde, make me a promise.” Barley wrestled to fix his grip around the gargantuan thighs. “What’s that, Barley?” “Make the fat ones run a bit before you shoot them.” Clyde laughed and lost his grip, sending Barley and the body rolling to the bottom of the incline. He stopped laughing when he heard the splash and trotted down quickly. Barley shook off the water and unraveled the plastic sheeting from his pocket in silence—near silence, anyhow. A low hiss alerted them to another presence. “Clever bastard.” Clyde pointed behind Barley. “That’s the same one as last time.” The alligator inched closer, but stayed to the water’s edge. Gators were smart critters and knew the sound of the Sawyers’ 1978 Dodge Warlock meant a free meal was coming. Barley laid the sheet out and rolled the man onto it. “If they’re working, they might as well be getting paid for it,” Barley said and unsheathed the knife from his boot. “Hell, we might even get a couple of them to keep at the house. Be a damn sight better than coming way out here to dump a body.” Barley ripped open the man’s shirt and set about the grim task of hollowing the corpse while Clyde went up top to retrieve the bags of landscaping rocks. By the time the younger Sawyer brought the duffel back, Barley was finished with his end. Barley tossed a kidney to the gator to thank him for waiting patiently while Clyde stuffed the body with stones. They wrapped the plastic around the man and secured it with duct tape before loading him into the camouflaged johnboat. As they rowed away, the gator went for the viscera left ashore. The channel wound around a series of bends and into the maze of swamps that occupied the southeast of Fagan County. There was little in the way of civilization in that nook of the Natural State. Barley and Clyde paddled until they reached a tiny island known locally as Frog’s Ass—so called because it was bare and wet as an amphibian’s behind. Arkansans can be quite colorful in their colloquialisms. They rolled the body into the water before mooring the boat to the ramshackle pier. Frog’s Ass used to be a popular spot with the peculiar church of Ebenezer Whitt. The sinister minister, and founder, of the nearby community of Whitt’s End was something of a local boogeyman. The Spanish Flu found its way into the tiny village and spread amongst the congregation like wildfire. At least that’s what they say. Fact of the matter is, like most stories in the South, there’s the truth... and then there’s what really happened. Whichever version you believe, the ending is the same—everyone in Whitt’s End died badly. As the years went on, some of the yokels began venturing to Frog’s Ass Author’s Surname / Barley and Clyde Meet the Pumpkin King / 5 to party without the nuisances of local law enforcement. Reports of strange occurrences were rampant, as were the disappearances. The island, not much larger than a Walmart, was eventually forgotten about except by those of ill repute—those like Barley and Clyde. The boys got off the boat and stretched their legs. Rusted beer cans poked out of the dirt like headstones of fun times long since dead and served as the only proof anyone had ever come to the isle before them. They didn’t use the small motor when carrying anything of legal ambiguity and the two hours of rowing took its toll, so they rested on the island whenever their work took them so far into the wetlands. Barley laid back and let the cool mud sooth his tired muscles. A single cloud drifted lazily across the full moon. “Hey, Barley,” Clyde called as he urinated noisily against a stone protrusion. “Come look at this.” “I reckon I’ll pass.” Barley sat up and pulled his shirt back on. “Best keep it away from the water though. Some snapper might think that little white wiggler of yours is a minnow and bite it off.” “This is why you ain’t got no friends, Barley.” Clyde’s zipper punctuated the statement. “I meant come look what I was peeing on.” “This better be good.” Barley left his flashlight sticking out of the mud and joined his cousin. He took of his ball cap and scratched at his shoulder-length hair. “Yep, that’s definitely interesting.” “It’s one them devil altars, that’s what it is,” Clyde informed him. “That’s just lies they tell in movies, Clyde,” Barley felt the carved lines of the knee-high stone pillar. “The pentagram means good things, most the time. Folks used it to symbolize the Five Wounds of Christ, for example. It’s even big in China.” “Damn, you always learning me something, cuz.” Clyde spat tobacco juice across it and inspected it with his penlight. “So, this is a good thing, then?” Barley checked his watch and grunted. “Well Clyde, I don’t reckon this one is actually.” “How’s that?” “You see, Clyde, we was here two nights ago... and it weren’t.” “That is a bit worrisome.” Clyde leaned closer to the symbol. “Maybe we just overlooked it.” “Could be.” Barley snugged his hat back on his head. “But it’s been Halloween for about three hours now and it’s a full moon and I’d much rather we didn’t fuck around with the pentagram in the swamp if it’s all the same to you.” “Big Barley scared of an old star? Ain’t that something.” Clyde pointed at an indentation in the center of the star. “What you reckon that is?” “Looks like a hand. Let’s get on back to the house. We promised we’d do them hayrides for the kiddies tonight.” Barley turned to leave. “And don’t touch the—” A cypress exploded in a flash of lightning across the swamp. The animals went silent, like scalded children cowering before an angry mother. Barley rubbed his eyes to clear the spots from his vision. Frog’s Ass shuddered twice and the muddy bank bubbled. The ground shook again and Barley’s boots sunk into the liquifying soil beneath him. He exhaled sharply and shook his head before looking back at his cousin. Clyde’s jaw was hanging open—and his hand was pressed firmly in the middle of the bizarre altar. “Well sumbitch, Clyde!” The carved star glowed brightly and the younger Sawyer jumped away, immediately sinking into the island up to his knees. Barley plodded over quickly as he could and pulled him Author’s Surname / Barley and Clyde Meet the Pumpkin King / 7 free. They made slow progress to the johnboat as the ground sucked at their legs, trying to pull them inside. The edge of Frog’s Ass dissolved into drifting clumps of muck as the landmass became nothing more than sludge and broke apart before them. The remnants of the dock collapsed entirely. “I told you not to touch it,” Barley exclaimed. “But you knew I was gonna!” The island broke away in a flash and dumped them into the swamp. Barley clung to Clyde’s back, trying to stay afloat. Barley swam slightly better than a boulder, after all. A pillar of fog rose from the dying island, crackling with its own lightning storm inside its swirling mass. The moon dimmed and, over the symphony of horrid destruction, the Sawyers could hear something much worse. It wasn’t laughter, as we’d call it, but rather the perverse imitation of the act by a thing born in a place where joy did not exist. Clyde took great motivation in this and got them to the boat right quick. Barley kicked his feet to keep his head above the black water while Clyde submerged and cut them free of the shattered dock. They clamored inside the boat and Clyde shook water from his inhaler for three puffs of salvation. The remains of Frog’s Ass drifted lazily in all directions and the tower of fog spread out across the sky, blotting out the moon for all of Fagan County. “Think that’s a bad omen, Barley?” Clyde spat swamp water. Barley clicked the switch of the spotlight mounted on the nose of the boat and shined it across the swamp. A piece of plastic sheeting reflected it back as it floated away. Bubbles popped next to the boat and a pudgy face rose silently above the surface. Water streamed through the bullet hole like a broken faucet. The man gripped the rim of the boat and jerked it down, sending Clyde into the water with him. Clyde bobbed up in time to see the obese corpse breast-stroking to his revenge. Zombie- teeth snapped at the air in anticipation of Clyde’s flesh. Clyde shut his eyes tight. The trolling motor hummed to life and he knew Barley was skinning out before the corpse could eat him too. Then the motor bogged down in an entanglement, whining as it tried to break free. Sticky chunks pelted Clyde’s face. Barley must have gotten stuck in the broken remains of the isle Clyde feared. The revenant would have his vengeance on both the Sawyers, soon enough. Clyde opened his eyes and watched the headless body sink into the swamp for the second time that night. Barley shut off the motor and slung it over his shoulder with a grin. “You swimming home, or you wanna get yourself in the boat?” Barley remounted the motor to its bracket. Clyde pulled himself in and sighed. “There’s a chance this might be my fault.” The rest of the day was without further zombie attacks and the boys felt assured the incident on Frog’s Ass was an isolated one. With it being Halloween, they didn’t have any jobs lined up and focused on the evening’s task—preparing their truck for the hayrides. The Dodge Warlock growled into the daycare’s gravel parking lot. Barley stepped down from the lifted pickup and the much shorter Clyde slid out. The screen door swung open and clacked against the siding as she came out to meet them. Barley stumbled, drawing an amused snort from Clyde. Everyone in Boucher was in love with Maude Beaumont. The streaks of green, cascading through her blonde French bob, shimmered in the late afternoon sun. She waved to the cousins with her slender fingers dancing playfully and smiled in the way that only she can. It was a tactic that melted the hearts and befuddled the minds of men across the county. One had to be careful Author’s Surname / Barley and Clyde Meet the Pumpkin King / 9 with Maude, for if you looked into the depths of her eyes you might not ever return in the same manner you left—as was the case for Barley Sawyer who fell into those eyes in the seventh grade and found himself perpetually entwined around those playful, slender fingers. I must admit, I myself have fallen for her charms on some occasion which has kept the boys employed... and alive. As he rounded the vehicle, Barley spotted a hunk of brain clinging to the tailgate and quickly tossed it into the bushes before Maude could see it. She’d convinced Barley to pull the trailer through Driscoll’s Corn Maze for the daycare’s annual hayrides. Three trips through the field and Barley would be in a position to finally admit his love for Maude, though he wouldn’t because he’d been in that position on at least thirty-three other occasions and chickened out every time. “Hi Barley,” Maude said sweeter than Georgia tea. “And Clyde, of course. Are y’all set for the rides?” “Howdy, Maude.” Clyde pulled the trailer hitch from the bed of the truck and slotted in below the bumper. “We are now. Is Driscoll gonna have them damned scarecrows out this year?” “Just like every year since 1963,” Maude assured him. “Fuck.” Clyde’s face soured. “I don’t like them, not one bit. Ain’t no reason Halloween needs to be scary. After all, we’re taking little kids through that maze.” “Language, Clyde.” Barley shook his head. “I can’t take you nowhere.” “I’m used to him by now.” Maude smiled and gestured to the trailer with its square bales arranged into benches amidst a bed of loose straw. “I figure we can take them in groups of ten, except the pre-K kiddos. There’s eleven in that bunch.” “Sounds like you got it all planned out.” Barley smiled and took his trucker cap off. “Will you be riding in the truck with me... me and Clyde, I mean. Unless you’d be more comfortable if it were just you and me. Clyde don’t mind riding in the back none.” Clyde’s face twisted in confusion. “I definitely mind riding where them scarecrows can see me.” “Man up, Clyde.” Barley’s shoulders sagged. “I reckon I mean to ask if you would like to ride up front with me, is where I was going with that.” “I was thinking Clyde could sit up front, where he’s safe.” Maude squeezed Barley’s arm. “And that you might like to ride with me in the back. I even got a special Halloween blanket we can sit on.” Maude looked up at him with those damned blue-green eyes and Barley went toppling down into them. His affirmation came out in a squeaky, bashful yip of excitement and he quickly set about moving the truck and getting the trailer hitched to it while Maude went inside to prepare the plastic pails the kiddies would be carrying on the ride. Clyde wrestled loose bales into the bed of the Warlock for Barley and Maude to ride on. The first carloads of kids pulled into the parking lot and went inside to get their baskets. Clyde slipped the aluminum bat from under the seat and patted it against his palm. “The hell do you need a baseball bat for?” Barley asked. “Well, I reckon we got attacked by a zombie this morning and I might’ve sank an island after fiddling with that magic doohickey, so we should have some protection tonight.” Clyde beamed with pride of his forward thinking. “There’s also the time to think about.” “What about the time, Clyde?” Barley checked his watch. “It’s a quarter-to-six.” Author’s Surname / Barley and Clyde Meet the Pumpkin King / 11 “Exactly, cuz.” Clyde pointed up at the sun, or where it should’ve been anyhow. “Why’s it dark already?” Barley looked at the dense blanket of clouds folded across the sky. Somewhere beyond the fluffy barrier, the sun struggled to come through, staining them a hellish red. The screams of excited children swarming out of the daycare interrupted the cousins. The little gremlins piled into the trailer with their haggard parents shuffling behind to wish them a plentiful bounty. Maude strode up to them. Barley, forgetting the rest of the world existed, lifted her gingerly into the bed of the truck before joining her. He leaned over the edge and tugged Clyde to him by the collar. “It’s probably just a storm blowing in, but keep your eyes open nonetheless.” He glanced over his shoulder at Maude before turning back to his cousin. “Give me your gun.” “I ain’t bring one.” Barley stared at Clyde until he begrudgingly pulled the revolver from his boot and handed it up to him. “Don’t know why you want it,” Clyde said. “You shoot straight as the letter S.” “Just drive and watch for out for the dead.” Clyde made the turn into the corn maze. Sure enough, Driscoll’s scarecrows were waiting at the entrance. The whole Driscoll clan was there as well, tossing candy into the trailer to the joyous wails of the children. They were deep into the maze before the lightning started. Clyde slowed the truck to a crawl and watched the clouds crackle with tangerine bolts of electricity. He mashed the brakes and put her in park before leaning out the window to whistle for Barley. He jerked a thumb at the storm. Barley stood up and looked to the clouds. They rolled like waves, cresting in saffron strobes. The laughter echoing from around them turned to harmonious singing—a hymn known only to the forgotten cult of Whitt’s End. The stalks rustled with sudden excitement. Clyde sucked his finger and held it up to the sky. “Ain’t no wind blowing, Barley.” He slipped out of the cab with his bat in hand. “Nope. There sure ain’t, Clyde.” Barley climbed down from the truck and looked to Maude. “Best you wait here, my dear.” The miniscule forms, adorn in temple garments, ambled out of the maze, not much higher than Barley’s waist with pumpkins resting atop their scrawny shoulders. Clyde took tentative steps toward the nearest of the infernal carolers and swung for the fences. The singing stopped in a collective gasp as they watched one of their number drop flat. “Well sumbitch, Clyde!” Barley pulled the pistol and kept it trained on the mob. “You can’t just go whacking little kids with a bat for being creepy.” “Weren’t no kid.” Clyde pointed at the shattered remains of the pumpkin and slithering worms oozing out of the neck. “It’s an imp. They’re like goblins but they serve a... oh shit.” “Serve a what, Clyde?” Barley asked. A earth-shaking roar answered. The imps shrieked in agreement. A vine whipped out of the maze and twisted around Barley’s legs, jerking him under the truck. He screamed for help, clutching the corn stalks while the vine pulled tighter. He drew the pistol and fired into the maze. Still the vine fought against him, snapping the stalks and pulling him deeper inside. Author’s Surname / Barley and Clyde Meet the Pumpkin King / 13 Clyde found himself swinging at the swarm of charging imps, unable to aid his cousin. Maude jumped into the trailer and ushered the terrified children into the truck bed. “Stay here, we’re leaving soon,” she promised them. The tire iron screeched across the bed as she pulled it to her and joined Clyde in the game of demonic whack-a-mole. More gunshots cracked in the maze. Clyde cursed the whole situation and smashed another pumpkin, spraying Maude with the wriggly contents. She swiped the worms from her hair and slapped Clyde hard enough to dislodge the tobacco glob. “Watch where you’re swinging,” she shouted. “We need to get the kids out of here and rescue Barley. You got a plan for that?” “Barley does the planning.” Clyde kicked one of the creatures between the legs and laughed as it collapsed. “Imps got nards too!” “That’s not helpful!” “Get in the truck and tell them crotch-dumplings to hold tight.” Clyde winked. “I think I got me a plan after all.” The Warlock bounced violently through the field, following the bent and broken path of Barley’s abduction. The truck was designed for off-road shenanigans, but the trailer slid and twisted, tossing hay bales into the field like mortar fire. The truck jerked hard, narrowly missing Barley as they caught up with him. Clyde pulled the truck alongside and Barley grabbed the chrome nerf bar. “This is not a plan!” Maude shouted as she tried to keep the kids from bouncing out of the truck. “Well it’s working like one!” Clyde shouted. Clyde leaned out the window. “Told you, Barley, you can’t shoot for shit. Now, hold on.” Clyde jerked the wheel and pulled Barley away from the vine, snapping the tendril in two. The agonized scream drowned out the roar of the Warlock’s big engine. Clyde stopped the truck and got out. Barley handed him the revolver and went to check on the kids and Maude. Clyde opened the cylinder and cursed. “Only left me one bullet?” he asked. “You ain’t never needed more than the one.” Barley climbed into the truck bed and tried soothing the children. “What do imps serve, Clyde?” A wall of corn dropped away with a swish and two scarecrows staggered forward with scythes held high. Maude hopped out of the truck and cocked the tire iron back. Hellfire burned in the mouths of their jack-o-lantern heads. Barley broke a board free of the Warlock’s bedrail and joined Maude. “You boys can fuck right off,” Maude warned them. They didn’t listen. They reaped the air with their blades and ambled closer, side-by-side in their pursuit. The gunshot silenced the wails of terrified kiddos. The two pumpkins wilted and their fire spread, engulfing the straw bodies. “I hate scarecrows.” Clyde spun the pistol on his finger and blew smoke from the barrel. “Barley’s right. I ain’t never needed more than one bullet.” Lightning crashed to the ground in scores. The maze ignited in their wake and twisting vines, curled out of the flames like snakes seeking mice. The ground split open, crazing in fissures that stretched to the boys and Maude. The sulfuric fumes rising out from them stung their nostrils and brought tears to their eyes. “Imps serve the royal family of Hell,” Clyde grumbled. Author’s Surname / Barley and Clyde Meet the Pumpkin King / 15 “How do you know that?” Maude whispered. “Learned it from the YouTube.” Clyde pressed a wad of tobacco into his lip. “Really wish you ain’t wasted my bullets, Barley.” “I was trying not to get killed, Clyde.” Barley hoisted the two-by-four. The three-story jack-o-lantern tore out of the earth on the verdant, coiling vines sprouting from the white fuzz along its spongy, orange belly. A great guffaw resonated from the pulpy mouth of the beast, matched by the torso of a man rising where its stem should’ve been. Tiny gourds grew out of his flesh like tumors and more greenery sprouted amongst his white hair. “I was Ebenezer Whitt, prophet of the Ascendant One, Hammodai!” he bellowed. “For as the angels fall, so shall the demon rise.” “That sounds bad,” Barley whispered. Maude ran over to the truck bed. “Kids, I’m going to need y’all to get on down from there and sit in the trailer nice and sweet. Can you do that? Just like when we play the Quiet Game.” “For my sacrifice and the lot of five-hundred souls, I am beyond the limitations of the flesh,” the creature continued. “I am the Pumpkin King, Pontifex of the Temple of Blight and the Harbinger of Famine.” Clyde spat tobacco juice down a fissure. “How about you come on down off your pumpkin and Barley’ll just go ahead and whoop your ass?” Barley nudged him with the board. “Why me?” “Damn it all to Hell, Barley.” Clyde threw his hands in the air. “I took care of them scarecrows and Maude helped with the imps. Carry your weight some.” The vines lashed out and Barley rolled away from them. He tossed the board aside, switching it out for one of the sickles lying on the ground. Clyde wasn’t as nimble. The creeper constricted around his narrow figure. The blade flashed before him. Chlorophyll sprayed his face as the tentacle shrank away. “What’d YouTube say about killing this guy?” Barley swiped at vines, cracking like whips at the boys. “Need virgin blood.” Clyde jumped over a fissure and grabbed the other scythe. “I think we’re in trouble then,” Barley grunted. “Got a whole trailer full, I reckon.” Clyde cut down an attacking appendage. “We’re not feeding the kiddos to the pumpkin.” Barley grabbed Clyde’s collar and swung him to safety as the field cracked open beneath him. “I’m never gonna get a second date now.” “Fools!” The Pumpkin King lunged forward. The jack-o-lantern mouth stretched wide, unleashing a wave of orange and green bugs. Millions of aphids poured across the ground. Their tiny bodies sliding across one another like sand in an hourglass. “This is entirely your fault, Clyde. I told you not to fiddle with that damn thing!” Barley stomped at the early arrivals. The cousins stood back-to-back while the famished horde besieged them. The Warlock’s engine revved, rumbling through the smokestack exhausts. The aphids slowed their advanced and halted altogether when the engine roared again. The cousins looked at the truck. The rumble of the motor shook the gold-striped body. Through the window they saw Maude, wringing the steering wheel in her fists as she pumped the accelerator in an uneven rhythm. The aphids turned, Author’s Surname / Barley and Clyde Meet the Pumpkin King / 17 the movement imperceptible on account of their size, and seemed to rewind into the coriaceous flesh of the Pumpkin King. The Warlock’s tires spun, flinging dirt across the kids hunkering in the unhitched trailer, before jumping forward. The engine roared like a lion pouncing at its prey. The bull-bars struck the cottony peach fuzz growing along the demon’s belly. The rind collapsed under the full force of the redneck limousine’s V8. The cousins, dumbfounded more than usual, stared at the brake lights glowing within for the moment it took the whole thing to collapse on top of it. The house-sized gourd putrefied in a puddle of pie filling that heaped over the truck, swallowing it like the tide takes the beach. The pickup pulled out in reverse, its smokestacks bubbling hot pumpkin puree as it slid in a j-turn beside the Sawyers. Maude jumped down from the driver seat. Orange goop covered her body and dripped from her hair down her stained blouse. She wiped her lips and muttered, “Clyde left the windows down.” “Maude,” Clyde started and then snorted with restrained laughter. “You look gourd- eous.” “Fuck you, Clyde” Maude slapped her hands over her mouth and looked to the trailer. “I’m sorry, kids! Miss Maude shouldn’t have used that word.” Most of the children were sobbing or calling for their mothers, others simply rocked silently. I’m sure they’ll recover eventually. After all, nothing builds character like supernatural trauma in early childhood. I wouldn’t be the man I am today, if it weren’t for such events. Barley watched the mutated form of Ebenezer Whitt pulling himself out the puddle, dragging his entrails behind him. Clyde charged at him with the scythe overhead. Whitt slithered down a fissure. Clyde narrowly missed, sinking the curved steel into the earth. Clyde threw his trucker cap to the ground. “Damn it all to Hell!” Tubular, yellow flowers bloomed around the blade and Barley knelt to inspect them. He plucked one and stood up. “Pumpkin flowers.” He slipped it behind Maude’s ear. “I reckon that means this is just the beginning.” “Whatever comes next,” Maude said, lacing her sticky fingers between his. “We can handle it, just like tonight.” “How did we handle it?” Clyde asked. “Aphids don’t like acoustic stressors, so I used the truck to drive them away.” Maude pointed at the remains of the former Pumpkin King. “And that was just a case of phytophthora blight, obviously.” “Obviously,” Barley agreed. “You know, I was thinking, after we get these kiddos home, we should go on over to Orville.” “Oh, no.” Clyde shook his head. “I know what you’re gonna say next. We ain’t never going near that shack again.” “What shack?” Maude asked. “There’s an old woman lives in the woods outside Orville,” Barley said. “She’s a witch, or a ghost, we ain’t too sure which one. She used to scare the bejesus out of us as kids. She’ll know what Clyde done did.” “I ain’t going!” Clyde crossed his arms. “You know what happens when you mess with ghost-witches?” Author’s Surname / Barley and Clyde Meet the Pumpkin King / 19 Maude shook her head, splattering Barley with pumpkin juice. “Me neither and we ain’t finding out. I draw the line.” Clyde swiped his hand, making an invisible line in front of him. Barley hitched the trailer and got behind the steering wheel with Maude snuggled up against him. Clyde pouted on a hay bale next to the kids while they drove out of the corn maze. They told the parents the scarecrows had been extra scary that year and promised the children would stop crying eventually. Then they headed out across the old highway to Orville to see the Crone of Cock’s Call Holler... I told you, they got some colorful names for things in Arkansas. It was Barley’s bright idea to see the Crone and it was that idea that brought them to my door. Sometimes, things just work out. And that’s the story of how Barley and Clyde first met the Pumpkin King. It might not all be true, but that’s how I heard it. The End

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