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Ep.101 – Boy Meets Ghoul - A Dinner Date FROM HELL

Episode Notes

A hot date turns blood cold when things don't get exactly as you'd expect for this romance of a lifetime...

Boy Meets Ghoul by Rob Fields

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Produced by Daniel Wilder

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Transcript:

Christian Shaeffer was having lunch with his friends outside at Clancy’s, a popular fast-food place among North Ridgeway High School students. The four of them were on the football team, talking about whatever. Then the subject of Christian’s upcoming date came up. “Hey, how come you’re not telling us you got a date for Saturday night?” Eric Danvers asked. “How come we gotta hear about these things from Chelsea?” Christian groaned. “Why does my little sister always have to be such a pain?” “So about this date of yours . . .” Matthew Martinson inquired. Jeffrey “Moose” Keegan put his hands up to his pecs and pretended to squeeze. “Does she have tits?” he rumbled. Christian groaned again. “Man, Moose, you may be the biggest guy on our football team, but you got the dirtiest mind, too.” Moose grinned mischievously. “Hey, a girl’s gotta have tits, brother. That’s just the way us men are. The bigger, the better . . .” “You do realize you’re probably going to die alone, right?” Christian asked, half-serious. Moose reached out and playfully shoved Christian’s shoulder. “C’mon, bro! Quit holding out here! Who is she? What’s she like?” He grinned mischievously again. “And does she have tits?” When Christian realized his football brothers weren’t going to back off, he finally conceded. “Fine, you bastards . . . Her name is Chloe Anne Carmichael. I met her when we had our game with Strickfield High here a few weeks ago.” “Whoa, dude! You’re really going out with a chick from Strickfield?” Eric asked. “Isn’t that like . . . I don’t know . . . dating the enemy or something?” Christian pointed to him. “It ain’t no different than that cheerleader you’re seeing from Pendleton High.” Eric raised his hands up in front of him. “Okay, okay . . .” Christian continued. “So, we just beat Strickfield High and finished our showers. I was all set to get in my car and head out. Then I saw this other car with the hood up . . . and a girl underneath it. I went over to help her. Then she came out from under the hood and looked at me. I swear, she looks like she’s right out of the 50s! I mean she’s wearing a red-and-white polka-dot dress that goes down just past her knees. She’s even wearing those black-and-white shoes. You know . . . with the black across the middle.” He pointed to Matthew. “Your older sister has shoes like that.” “Yeah, she does. Except Bethany’s into the 60s,” Matthew shared. “Okay, go on.” Christian pointed quickly at Matthew. “And she looks exactly like Betty! From those Betty and Veronica comics your sister loves to read!” Moose shot up out of his seat. “Oh, come on! What, you think we’re stupid or something? There ain’t no girl who looks like she’s right outta –” But Christian shut him up when he brought up her picture on his smartphone and let everybody look at it for a moment. “Now do you believe me?” “Damn! She really does look like Betty,” Matthew agreed. “Wait’ll Bethany hears about this.” Moose leaned in. “This is just her face. Does she have tits?” Christian groaned. “Okay, Moose! Yes! Okay? She’s a girl, and girls have tits. Okay?” Moose grinned. “But are they big ones?” Christian gave him the finger, getting a laugh from everybody. Then he got back to the subject. “Anyway, she had a loose wire under the hood. I fixed it for her. Then we got to talking for a while. We got each other’s phone numbers. We started texting and video chatting. Now we got a date for Saturday night. I’m going to pick her up at her place. She lives in the woods with her family just outside Strickfield.” Then everybody just looked at Christian. Christian just looked at everybody in return. “What?!” “Man, you got your head up your ass or something?” Eric asked. “Don’t you know there are stories about those backwoods of Strickfield? You don’t want to be heading in there – especially at night.” Christian groaned. “Seriously, what’s there to be scared of in those woods? I mean, come on . . . Strickfield’s own mayor lives in those woods. He still makes it to work every day, right?” Matthew pointed at him. “But there have been stories about things that have happened in those woods. Stories about people dying out there . . . and even a few of them coming back to life. And then there are the stories about creatures lurking around in there. And even cannibals! There are just stories on top of stories.” Eric pointed to Christian’s smartphone. “You should just text her and cancel, or have her meet you somewhere.” Christian groaned again. “Come on, you guys! Really?! All those stories are just superstitious horseshit. I’m going on my date with Chloe Anne Carmichael on Saturday – end of discussion!” Almost nobody said much of anything after Christian’s declaration. Even when they finished their lunches and headed back to North Ridgeway High for their afternoon classes . . .

Christian was driving through the woods on Saturday night and following the directions that his smartphone’s GPS was giving him. Christian did have to admit these woods near Strickfield did look quite spooky and seemed to stretch on for miles and miles. Or maybe it was just the consistent fog that had a foreboding presence seemingly everywhere. Still, he was willing to suffer a few heebie jeebies to get to Chloe Anne Carmichael’s house. “Prepare to turn left on Township Road 34 in one quarter mile!” Christian gasped and pointed a shaky finger at his smartphone. Then he shook his head slowly. He couldn’t believe how he’d let his football brothers get to him. This wasn’t Halloween, for crying out loud! This was a date with a really hot girl who just happened to look like a hot classic female comic book character. Still, he kept his head on and made the turn when his GPS told him to. It wasn’t much longer after that when he had finally reached his destination. Christian just sat in the car when he saw the Carmichael farmhouse. There were barely any lights on inside, and the fog really seemed murky and dismal around the farmhouse and huge yard. He even saw some cars that had been gathered near the barn. He started to wonder if anyone was even home. He was almost wondering if maybe he should just turn the car around and head back to North Ridgeway. Suddenly, the porch room at the front entrance came ablaze with light. And then the door opened. Christian felt his spirits lift when he saw Chloe Anne Carmichael step outside. He got out of the car and went to meet her. “Chloe Anne, hi!” Christian said. “I hope I’m not late. It’s a bit foggy out here.” Christian thought Chloe Anne was truly breathtaking. She was wearing the very same red dress with white polka dots and those same shoes from the night he had first met her. She wore her blond hair down; the last time she wore it in a ponytail. For a brief moment, he remembered Moose talking about tits and noticed that Chloe Anne weren't too badly stacked. Chloe Anne pointed to the car. “Could you shut that off for a smiggen? My parents wanna meet you.” “Uh-oh . . .” Christian uttered jokingly. Chloe Anne smiled. “Oh, ain’t nothin’ weird. They just wanna know who I’m goin’ out with tonight.” She sighed. “They wanna know who they gotta shoot ifin you don’t bring me back home on time.” When Christian looked at her with wide eyes, she burst out laughing. “Ahm just kiddin’, silly. My parents still wanna meet ya, though.” Christian obeyed Chloe Anne and was soon in the living room where the rest of the Carmichael family was seated. Her parents were in recliners and a younger girl sat on the couch. Mr. Carmichael gestured to the couch. “Have a seat, son.” As soon as both he and Chloe Anne were seated, Mr. Carmichael spoke to Christian again. “Look, Ah don’t know what yer intentions are with my eldest daughter here. But Ahm gonna trust her decision on ya.” Christian quickly raised his hands up in front of him. “Sir, I just want to take Chloe Anne out on a date. I’ll have her back whenever you say she’s got to be back. Seriously, I really like her and just want to get to know her. That’s all.” Both parents studied him for a moment. Even the youngest daughter, Hannah, just gave him an odd look. Also, he didn’t want to let his football brothers get the best of him, but he could swear . . . that they were all a little pale. Even Chloe Anne . . . Again, he was not going to let the guys get to him about the backwoods of Strickfield legends. Mr. Carmichael seemed to consider Christian. “Okay! Again, Ah trust my baby girl here. Chloe Anne’s old enough to know what she’s doin’. She seems to be real into you too.” Then he said to Chloe Anne, “You sure he’s whatcha want, darlin’?” Chloe Anne smiled from ear to ear. “Oh, ah do. Ah do ah do ah do . . .” Mr. Carmichael clapped his hands together once. “Okay, then! You youngins have yourselves a good time tonight!” “Um, what time do you want me to have her back by, Sir?” Christian asked. Mr. Carmichael just looked at him and smiled. “Ah really do appreciate ya callin’ me Sir. Yes, I do.” Then he seemed to think. “Well . . . now Ahd say that be up to the botha ya. ’Cause Ah git the feelin’ your really gonna get to know my baby girl real well – real soon!” He waved them off. “Outcha go! Have fun!” Christian wondered what he might have gotten himself into, but he quickly drove that thought out of his head when he felt Chloe Anne taking his hand. “Let’s go, honey.” The two of them were about to leave the house. Then Chloe Anne stopped him. “Hey, ya know what? Ah almost forgot! Wait right here.” Chloe Anne turned and went into the kitchen. She returned with a large picnic basket. “Ah was thinkin’ we can have ourselves a little picnic, you an me. I even know this romantic little spot that’ll just set the mood. It ain’t far from here.” Christian smiled. “Let’s go.”

Christian couldn’t believe he was having a picnic dinner with Chloe Anne . . . in the heart of a swamp! Still, the fire circle that Chloe Anne set up and lit seemed to give it more of a romantic ambiance, even with the fog. The swamp was quiet for the most part. It didn’t even bother Christian that he hadn’t heard a single cricket chirping or even a bird fluttering. It was just the two of them with their picnic dinner and their conversation. The two of them hadn’t touched their food yet. Actually, they had been talking for a little while. Christian realized that he was really into Chloe Anne. He wasn’t caring so much that she was a backwoods girl. He even seemed to be mesmerized by her hazel eyes that glowed next to their fire. Then it happened! Chloe Anne suddenly leaned in and caught Christian with a peck on the lips. Then the peck turned into another . . . and another . . . and then into a full-blown make-out session. Chloe Anne was on top of him as they held each other. Christian had been with other girls in the past, but none of them were taking his breath away the way Chloe Anne Carmichael was. If anything, her body felt like a perfect fit in his arms. The two of them made out for quite a while, almost never stopping to catch a breath. Chloe Anne’s kisses were both hungry and needy. Christian wondered how far things would go with Chloe Anne. And then . . . Christian got his answer. He was still flat on his back when Chloe Anne stood up. To his surprise, she unzipped the back her dress and let it fall. He gasped to see that she was quite naked! For a brief moment, Moose came back into his mind again. Yes, Chloe Anne most certainly had tits! Chloe Anne knelt down and helped him out of his varsity jacket. “C’mon, honey. It ain’t like you didn’t wanna go this far with me.” “But . . . your parents . . .” he sputtered. “. . . ain’t gonna care one way or another,” she finished. Christian was powerless to resist Chloe Anne and allowed her to help get him naked with her. They were holding each other again before Chloe Anne took charge and initiated their intimacy. The two of them shared intimacy again and again. Chloe Anne just couldn’t seem to get enough. Her skin felt so soft, yet unbelievably cool – and they were next to the fire circle. The last thing Christian remembered before he fell asleep was holding Chloe Anne in his arms . . .

Christian woke up quickly and realized two things. The first was that it was morning. The second was that he was in an unfamiliar bedroom. Then he looked down to see Chloe Anne was sleeping soundly next to him and wearing only an oversized blouse, loosely buttoned. He wondered how the two of them had moved from the swamp and into . . . her bed? Suddenly, Christian felt his stomach growling like he’d never felt it growl before. He groaned and wrapped his arms around his midsection. Then Chloe Anne woke up. “Christian?” “We never ate your picnic last night,” he joked. “I’m just feeling really hungry.” Chloe Anne quickly moved over him and got out of bed. Then she grabbed his hand. “C’mon with me! Right now!” “Okay, okay . . .” He got up and let Chloe Anne escort him through the house and into the kitchen. Chloe Anne opened the refrigerator door and pulled something out . . . a human forearm and hand!!! “Eat this! Right now!” Christian shrieked. “What the fuck?!” He wondered what the joke was, but Chloe Anne didn’t look like she was joking. “Ah mean it, Christian. Y’all need to eat this right now!” “Well . . . gasp . . . we can go out for breakfast,” he stammered. Chloe Anne shook her head slowly. “We cain’t eat that shit! We means you too now, honey.” Christian’s stomach tightened so hard and made him groan in such agonizing pain that he actually found himself accepting her offering and biting deep into the forearm. He was surprised at how . . . delicious it really tasted. He kept eating hungrily. Then he saw Chloe Anne pulling out another forearm and hand and joining him. When he’d finished eating his portion, Chloe Anne immediately took his hand. She led him down into the cellar and to a walk-in refrigerator. She brought him inside and handed Christian a whole human leg. “Y’all gotta keep eatin’, honey,” she said. “You gotta eat until yer full, what with it bein’ yer first time an all.” As the two of them sat and continued to eat, Christian felt the need to ask, “What’s going on here, Chloe Anne? Why are we doing this?!” “Thought you’d never ask.” She took a last bite off the leg she was feasting on. “Yer just like me now.” She dropped the bones and took both of his hands in hers. “Yer with me now, Christian. Yer parta the family now.” When Christian’s unfinished leg had fallen to the floor, Chloe Anne quickly picked it up and handed it back to him. “Sorry, honey. Keep eatin’!” As much as Christian wanted to put what he was eating down, he found himself obeying Chloe Anne. He had gone through almost an entire human body before he was finally full. Chloe Anne herself didn’t have to eat nearly that much. Christian looked to her to finish her explanation. “Like Ah told ya, Christian, yer just like me now,” she told him. “Like Ah said, yer parta my family now.” Christian looked dumbfounded. Chloe Anne was patient. “Oh, Ah get it. You don’t know everythin’. Well, Ahm gonna teach ya all ya need to know.” “Are . . . are we . . . zombies?!” Christian choked out. Chloe Anne smirked a little and shook her head. “Close, honey. We’re like zombies in many ways, but . . . what we are . . . is ghouls. We gotta feed on humans to survive. Key word! Survive! See, ifin we don’t eat when we gotta eat, then we’re real zombies. As in you’ll waste away until you fall apart and there ain’t no goin’ back.” Christian just looked at Chloe Anne. Then he groaned as he got up and ran up the stairs. He turned to the back door and ran outside. Chloe Anne chased after him. They both ran away from the house. Much to his surprise, he was running faster than he’d ever ran in his life. What was more, Chloe Anne could run even faster than him and eventually tackled him near the edge of the swamp. “Get off me!” Christian shouted. Chloe Anne wouldn’t move. In fact, she grabbed his arms and pinned him down. “Now y’all listen to me, honey. You and me, we’re both ghouls. You belong with me now. Ah made you.” Christian went limp. “You . . . what?!” Then his eyes were opened wide when he saw how close her exposed cleavage was to his face. “You become a ghoul in one a two ways. One, like me . . . you’re born as one. That’s right, I been a ghoul since comin’ outta Mama. The second way . . . ?” Christian caught on fast. “When we had sex . . .” “Oh, I loved you real good,” she confirmed. “I coulda probably bit you, but it’s gotta be done in just the right place and makes a real mess. I ain’t real good at doin’ that, so it was easier for me to just love you good and turn you. Besides, ya know ya loved it.” Chloe Anne got off Christian and let him stand up. Then he groaned. “You fucked me . . . and turned me into a . . . a zombie?!” She laughed. “No! A ghoul!” Then she sighed patiently. “Daddy said it was gonna be tough teachin’ ya, but Ah gotta do it. ’Cause I made ya and yer just like me now.” Christian listened as Chloe Anne explained things. For one thing, ghouls didn’t shamble like zombies. They could walk and run. In fact, ghouls could be civilized and live almost-normal lives. The Carmichaels remained in isolation and only took living humans who dared to venture into the backwoods of Strickfield, which seemed quite plentiful. As far as the humans who already lived there, they were left alone because the wrong people might ask questions and possibly come in to investigate. Chloe Anne also explained that ghouls were like their vampire cousins in many ways. While vampires drank blood to sustain themselves, ghouls needed to eat humans. Chloe Anne removed her oversized blouse. Christian was again shocked to see her naked. Chloe Anne rolled her eyes. “We gotta take a bath and clean up after we ate good and done run out here, Christian. Now come on in with me.” Again, he obeyed her and got naked. Chloe Anne laughed a little when she saw that he clearly desired her again. “Well, okay, honey, we can play for a smiggen.” She picked up her blouse and pulled out few condoms. “Ya’ll better use these . . . unless you wanna make a little baby ghoulie with me.” Christian accepted the condoms from her and put one on before he went into the water with Chloe Anne.

They had finished cleaning up and having sex when they came out of the water. As soon as they finished putting on what clothes they had, they heard a loud gunshot. “Aw, foo!” Chloe Anne muttered. “I’m thinkin’ that Strickfield mayor done seen us. We better run, honey.” Another gunshot whizzed right past Christian, almost touching his nose. “Shit!!!” Christian turned and ran off. Chloe Anne knew she needed to go after him. It wasn’t too long after that the mayor of Strickfield, Patrick Gunter, stepped out of the shadows. He tightened his jaw and grunted. “God damn zombies on my property again . . .” He readied his rifle again and moved along.

Chloe Anne called out to Christian to stop, but he was too scared to listen to reason. Again, she proved to be his superior by catching up to him and tackling him. “Stop, Christian!” Christian finally stopped. He was really angry now. “Why?! Why, Chloe Anne? Why would you do this to me? Did I piss you off or something?” Christian wanted to heave in anger, but he realized he no longer breathed. His anger turned to sadness. “I was a really good football player at North Ridgeway High. I think I even had a good shot at a full ride to college. I had my whole life ahead of me.” He looked at her. “I suppose you’ve heard this before.” She shook her head. “Nope! Ah don’t go round makin’ other ghouls the way I made you. We’d have a real mess. An Daddy wouldn’t be none too happy.” “Then why me, Chloe Anne?” Chloe Anne just simply smiled, took firm hold of his face, and kissed his lips softly. Christian couldn’t help easing his arms around her and kissing her back. They kissed passionately for a long while. When they came apart, they looked into each other’s eyes. “Now ya understand, Christian?” Chloe Anne asked. “Y’all came to me when I needed help that night. Ya talked and kept talkin’ with me. Ya made me love ya, ya did. I told Daddy I wanted you an why. He gave me his blessin’. We did some lovin with each other, an I turned ya. Now yer with me forever an ever . . . like marriage. In fact, you an me . . . we’re married now.” She raised her finger. “Ghoul law!” “But . . . we don’t really know each other that well to be married,” Christian pointed out. Chloe Anne kissed his lips again. “We been man an wife twice now, honey. And it feels to me like you wanna be man an wife again. Face it, Christian . . . ya ain’t leavin’ me. Ain’t makin’ no threat here. You’ll stay here with me ’cause ya wanna.” Christian gave Chloe Anne that look that told her she was probably right. After all, how many of his past girlfriends had treated him the same way Chloe Anne had? True, they weren’t ghouls, but this particular ghoul had feelings and knew what she wanted out of life . . . or was it the afterlife? He would have many years to figure that one out, wouldn’t he? Suddenly, the two of them heard another gunshot. Christian felt the bullet go right the back of his head. He even saw it go through Chloe Anne. “It’s that dang mayor again!” Chloe Anne complained. She quickly grabbed hold of Christian’s hand. “We gotta run, honey. Snap out of it, dang t!” She only needed to slap the back of his head hard to bring him back to reality. Christian shrieked repeatedly, “Ican’tdothisIcan’tdothisIcan’tdothisIcan’tdothisIcan’tdothis!!” He ran away from Chloe Anne in a general direction. He heard another gunshot which completely closed out anything that Chloe Anne was yelling his way right then and there. “I’m getting the hell out of here and heading back home! I ain’t staying out here! The others were right! I never should have come out here!” He was so frightened that he couldn’t stop running. He even managed to lose Chloe Anne this time. He made it back to her farmhouse and found his car right where he’d left it. He jumped into the car to find the keys were still in the ignition. He fired up the motor and got the hell out of there as fast as he could – and without killing anybody along the way with his crazy driving.

Christian pulled in at his house and went to go inside. His mother was busy at the stove and cooking barbeque chicken – his favorite. The only problem was that he wasn’t really wanting it. He wanted it, yes, but his stomach was telling him a big fat hell no! After having a brief argument with his mom about the way he was dressed, he went straight up to his room and put on some fresh clothes. Then he went back out and went behind the garage. It was then when he smelled something sweet, like candy. It wasn’t long before he found that he had a visitor. At first, he thought Chloe Anne had finally caught up with him, but instead . . . “Moose? What’s up?” Christian asked. “Just in the neighborhood, man. Smelled your mom was cooking barbeque chicken again,” he replied in his growling voice. “Well, go on inside and go have some,” Christian invited. How could Moose smell his mom’s barbeque chicken when all he could smell was sweet candy? Moose was about to turn away to take him up on his offer, but then he remembered. “Hey, bro, how did that date with that Chloe Anne chick go? And I’m surprised you made it back from those fucking woods.” Before he could answer, he gave him a brotherly tap on his shoulder. “And does she have tits?” Christian really wasn’t sure how to answer him. The problem was that NO!! he hadn’t made it out of those backwoods. At least not as himself. He was a ghoul now – turned by Chloe Anne. He’d had incredible sex with that amazing girl! Now he was a ghoul just like her as a result of . . . What?! . . . some form of V.D. that she’d passed to him. Then he’d taken that bullet to the head . . . And that smell of sweet candy was really strong now . . . ! “Wait a minute! Moose! Do I look okay to you?!” Christian asked. Moose looked at him like he was crazy. “Well . . . You kinda look a little pale, but . . .” He made a Neanderthal grin and pointed right at Christian. “Oh ho ho! You fucked her, didn’t you?! You really fucked her! C’mon, bro. Tell me! Was she good? And does she have tits?” Then Moose felt a soft tapping on his shoulder. They both turned to see Chloe Anne Carmichael standing before them. She smiled simply and said to Moose, “Oh, Ah got me tits, sugah!” Chloe Anne leapt onto Moose and took a big bite out of his neck. She had her hand on his mouth to muffle his screams. When Moose fell onto his back, Christian knelt down beside Chloe Anne and began to eat with her. Moose was definitely big enough to satisfy the both of them. Christian’s parents never set foot outside or came out behind the garage.

That night, Chloe Anne came in through the front door holding Christian’s hand. “Oh, Mama . . . ? Daddy . . . ? We’re home!” she called out. “In here, kids,” Mrs. Carmichael called back. “Dinner’s ready!” The two of them found the rest of the family in the dining room. There was a naked couple tied to the table. “Aw, y’all didn’t hafta wait none for us,” Chloe Anne said softly. “We eat as a family, Chloe Anne,” Mr. Carmichael reminded her. Then he said to Christian. “That goes for you too, son, now that yer parta the family.” When Christian realized that Chloe Anne had easily found him, he knew there was no point in resisting her or what he now was. When he’d asked his new wife how she’d found him, she simply told him, “Why, silly, Ah coulda found ya any one a two ways. The easy way woulda been to look in yer wallet since ya left it behind. But Ahm a ghoul, honey, and yer my man. Ah made you, so naturally . . . Ah can smell you. Don’t matter none where you are in the world. And Ah know y’all could smell me comin’ for ya. Face it, honey, it’s you an me – together forever an ever to the end.” Christian realized that being with Chloe Anne wasn’t as bad as it seemed. He was part of a family that truly cared for its own. He’d been shot in the head and was still alive. Chloe Anne explained that he could have had his brains blown out, but he would have lived as long as he would have been fed or given human blood to help in the regeneration process. In the beginning he felt bad for the people he would have to eat in order to sustain himself. But he was a ghoul, and that was his new . . . afterlife now. Christian and Chloe Anne stayed on at the farm. He even took her last name. Over time, he would come to learn from the Carmichaels that nothing was more important than family . . . even if you are ghouls. As for the mayor of Strickfield, Patrick Gunter . . . he still didn’t like the idea of zombies coming onto his property.

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Ep.100 – My Freaky Family Fables Part 2 - These Fiends Have So Much to Show You!

Episode Notes

Part 2 of our creepy dive into the twisted family history of Weekly Spooky host Henrique Couto!

Tonight's stories by Shane Migliavacca, Morgan Moore, Keith Tomlin, Michelle Adler, and Dan Wilder

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

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

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

Produced by Daniel Wilder

This episode sponsored by HenFlix.com

For everything else visit WeeklySpooky.com

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Ep.100 – My Freaky Family Fables Part 1 - This Family Wants YOU For Dinner!

Episode Notes

We are celebrating 100 episodes of the show in a two part special! Join me as I dig into my terrifyingly sick family photos and tell you the stories behind the madness!

Tonight's stories by David O Hanlon, Christopher Dowell, Rob Fields, Joe Solmo and Killian Crane

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

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

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

Produced by Daniel Wilder

This episode sponsored by HenFlix.com

For everything else visit WeeklySpooky.com

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Ep.99 – Knightly News - Making It In TV Can Be MURDER

Episode Notes

A hungry young news woman finds herself in the midst of a bloody massacre in the middle of a whimsical fantasy faire!

Knightly News by David O'Hanlon

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

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

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

Produced by Daniel Wilder

This episode sponsored by HenFlix.com

For everything else visit WeeklySpooky.com

Transcript:

Jennifer Lake paced the chevroned carpet and rolled her eyes. She checked the watch dangling from her wrist. Thom Braddock texted her to get to his office immediately, yet she’d been waiting thirty-three minutes. Channel 7 News occupied a meager, three-story building. You could get anywhere in the building faster than you could microwave a Hot Pocket and Thom damn well knew it. Jennifer stormed to the receptionist desk and picked up the phone. “Hey!” the secretary whined. “You can’t do that.” “Push the damn button. I’m tired of waiting.” Jennifer put the receiver to her ear and snapped her fingers. “Today!” “Someone’s got their vibrator turned up too high.” The receptionist leaned back in her seat and crossed her arms, pressing her ample breasts to the limits of her blouse. “We both know I didn’t get this job because I’m good at it… just like you. Unlike you, Thom’s not pissed at me. So, sit your bony ass down and wait, princess.” It was true. Thom hired Teagan out of Rowdy’s Clam Shack where she danced under the name Wet Dreamz. Teagan held her hand out with a venomous smile. Jennifer dropped the receiver an inch short and returned to pacing. She took out her cell and checked her texts, hoping someone had sent her a viable lead. They hadn’t. Since the Mercers went on their murderous rampage and killed all those babysitters, Jennifer hadn’t covered anything more exciting than a drive-by. It was as if all the psychos were taking a vacation. The Babysitter Slasher was huge for Channel 7—but her carriage to stardom was turning back into a pumpkin. Viewers were calling for their favorite weathergirl to return to her duties and Thom might grant their wish if she didn’t come up with another winner. The intercom beeped. Jennifer turned and found Teagan looking back at her with a smirk while the intercom called for her attention again. Teagan leaned over and pressed the button, answering in a breathy voice, “Yes, Mister Braddock?” “Send Jenny in,” he said through the speaker box. Jennifer stormed to the door and stepped into the office. Thom Braddock sat behind the oversized desk with his cowboy boots resting on top as he leaned back in his chair. Braddock was every woman’s fantasy—rich, sexy, successful, and dangerous. He was perfect… until he spoke. “Jenny, come grab a seat,” he grumbled. “It’s Jennifer, Thom.” Jennifer sat down across from him. “Like I’ve been saying for six years.” “Jen, let’s not pretend like you’re in a position to correct me.” Thom swung his feet to the floor with a thud and straightened up in his seat. “I have a special assignment for you.” Jennifer’s stomach soured. If Thom was personally handing her an assignment, her time was up. She needed that big story now! “Well, Thom, I’m actually working on some leads.” “You are, are you?” Thom rested his elbows on the desk and steepled his fingers. “Run it down for me. What’s got your eye?” “I’m working the follow-up piece on that robbery-homicide from Tuesday.” “It’s Friday. Who gives a shit about some guy that died on Tuesday?” Thom waved his hand. “Next.” “There’s my exposé on the housing conditions in Diamond Glen.” “Advocacy reporting is for bleeding hearts.” Thom shrugged. “You don’t have one, bleeding or otherwise. Give it to Roger.” “Roger will intentionally overlook gang violence in the Glen.” Jennifer smiled. “I do the piece now, set the scene, introduce the victims. When it boils over, we’re set. It’s good storytelling, Thom.” “Without an inciting incident, it’s shit. Next.” “I… well, I have some new leads in the,” Jennifer paused. She knew better than to say it. She sighed. “I have new information into the Mercer Sex Cult.” Thom pointed at her and clicked his tongue. “And there it is.” “The FBI is still digging up bodies on their property! Three prominent members of the community were arrested for their involvement and—” “And you decided to name drop the state attorney general and a former Vice President,” Thom added. “They were both identified on the tapes,” Jennifer protested. “The sex tapes, Jen. You implied their involvement in the other tapes.” “I said—” “Stop.” Thom held up a hand. “The Mercer train has reached its station. It’s time for you to get off and do some reporting. You’re covering Fantasy Faire.” “Are you fucking kidding?” Jennifer stood up, stomping her heel. “That’s amateur hour.” Thom lifted the plaque from his desk and read it thoughtfully. “This is my desk.” He slammed the plaque like a gavel. “Which means you will sit your ass down and listen to the terms of your continued employment. You were voted Arkansas’ favorite weatherperson five years in a row. Not because you’re somehow better at it, but because you’re hot. This may not be very woke of me, but there’s going to come a time all that goes away and you’re going to want to hide your muffin top behind an anchor desk. For that to happen, you need to learn how to do more than just exploit horrendous murders.” Jennifer slumped back into the chair. “Good, you’re listening.” Thom leaned back and put his hands behind his head. “You’re covering the faire, and you’re taking Teagan along.” “For what? Is there a chance we’ll need to dislodge a golf ball from a garden hose?” “Teagan’s wanted to do more for a long time. I’ve been letting her do man-on-the-street stuff for our online platforms and people love her. The two of you will be able to cover more ground. You’ll expand your resume and she’ll get valuable experience.” Jennifer started to argue, then hung her head. “When do we leave?”

Jennifer sputtered her pink lips and pointed at the group of faux-fur wearing drunks sloshing their mead in plastic horns while they sang around a fire. “Vern, get a shot of the nerds singing sea shanties,” she said. Her cameraman, dressed in a kilt for the occasion, went to the bonfire and broke into song along with them. Jennifer threw her hands into the air. Fantasy Faire was a renaissance faire for the roleplaying crowd. Three days of LARPing, table-topping, medieval games, cosplaying, and nightly fireworks displays. Tents for gamers, sales booths, and fortune tellers lined the designated walkways while carts rolled around providing booze and bottled water. Crowds cheered from historically inaccurate bleachers borrowed from the high school as a jousting tournament commenced. Jennifer had covered the opening round while Teagan collected sound bites from the fans. She hated to admit it, but the receptionist was doing a good job. She jumped as a hand closed on her shoulder. Jennifer spun and snorted with laughter. The portly young man wore a fake tiger skin across his torso and carried a foam club on his shoulder. “I am Bodim Gorefist and I have come to free you from the bonds of your brassiere,” he said with a hiccup. “That’s sweet, Bodim.” Jennifer fanned away his ale-scented words. “But why don’t you go roll your dice somewhere else before I free your teeth from your mouth?” “Spear-tease.” Bodim waved her off and staggered away. Jennifer groaned. The whole assignment was a punishment. Everyone was mingling for the time being. There wasn’t anything left for Jennifer until the bard karaoke contest kicked off. She started down the path looking for someone worth interviewing. Three women in movie-grade witch costumes caught her eye. They tried dragging a child away from its parents to playful giggles. Jennifer stopped at a wagon. A young woman in prosthetic elf ears sat outside casting rune stones and giving fake fortunes to a gathered crowd. “Beware,” she hissed. “A dark shadow looms like the barn owl flitting over prey. The Stygian Knight returns from his slumber in the bowels in Erebus. Only the claiming of a new bride will entomb him for another hundred winters.” “Fucking geeks,” Jennifer whispered and continued on. She scanned the crowds when she heard a roar of male cheers. Jennifer pushed between a man and his cow to see what was going on. Her shoulders sagged. Two women wrestled in a pit of mud and one was topless. Teagan sat on the fence that surrounded the pit, filming the event with one hand and swinging the lost garment over her head with an excited squeal. The bare-chested wrestler was a towering mass of tightly wound muscle. The Amazonian flipped her opponent over her shoulder and seized a handful of her hair, pressing her face into the mud until the smaller woman conceded. The redheaded victor stood every bit of six-foot and pumped a fist into the air. The crowd cheered again. She approached Teagan who offered her the skimpy covering she’d lost in battle. “Hold on to that for now,” the Amazon said. “You can return it to my tent later.” Teagan grabbed her mud-streaked hair and pulled the woman’s face down for a kiss. The crowd exploded in cat-calls and wolf howls. Jennifer watched them exploring each other’s dental work and started mentally updating her resume. The secretary was going to have Jennifer’s job by Monday morning.

Bodim leaned on a tree and rested his club against the trunk. He tugged his loincloth to the side freeing his manhood to the evening chill. “No retreating, my mighty stallion,” he told his shriveled member. “We must dispatch much ale to continue our conquest of buxom harlots.” Bodim urinated noisily against the knotted roots of the tree with a pleasurable groan. A branch cracked behind him and he cast a blurred glance over his shoulder. “Alas, this facility is occupied.” He punctuated his decree with a belch that reminded him of his nutritionally-imbalanced lunch. “Find your own damn tree, fair knight.” The knight stepped forward, his armor plates rattling as he approached Bodim. “What’s this? Doth thou wish to cross swords with the mightiest of barbarians?” Bodim laughed. “How do you even unsheathe your weapon in that getup?” The knight flexed his gloved fingers and reached for the handle of his sword. “Seriously? I’ve got like three pints to get rid of, bro,” Bodim said, out-of-character. “Let me shake it off and we can roll for initiative if you really want to do this, but… you know where my hands have been.” The knight jerked his sword free of the scabbard. The polished blade sparkled in the moonlight in stark contrast to the black plates of his armor. Bodim turned, splashing his stream across the knight’s feet. “Shit! I hope that doesn’t rust,” Bodim snickered and tucked himself into the loincloth before grabbing his club. He squinted at the sword. “What are you a fucking noob? Real steel’s banned.” The black knight swung his weapon, slicing through Bodim’s Styrofoam club. He charged forward while the barbarian gawked stupidly at the stump. The knight’s shoulder-plate struck Bodim, knocking him over the tree roots. The cosplayer whined and sat up. “Fucking aggro much?” The knight aimed his blade at Bodim’s nose. “I give up, bro.” The knight reached up, lifting his visor to reveal his expressionless eyes. The visor clanked shut and he gripped the sword in both hands, raising it over his head. Bodim screamed until the blade split his skull.

“What’d you think of Annoxia?” Teagan asked as she wiped mud from her lips. “Thom said I could do something exclusive for the website. I think I’m going to interview her back in her tent. I bet a lot of people would be interested in hearing more from her.” “Yes, I’m sure she’s a real cunning linguist,” Jennifer told her. “Do you have to be a bitch all the time?” Teagan pulled Jennifer’s arm to stop her. “You see this as some shit assignment, but most of them are. Rex covered the annual coon supper for eighteen years before he made anchor. He still goes out and does it because it’s tradition now. Not everywhere they send you is going to be a bloodbath. You act like local news is beneath you. Get over yourself, weathergirl.” “Fuck you, Teagan. You showed Thom your asshole so he’d stick money in your thong and got a job out of it. You don’t get to lecture me.” “I hope your pussy isn’t as cold as your heart or you’re not going to have a career to fall back on.” Teagan laughed. “You honestly think taking my clothes off for tips is somehow less degrading than exploiting dead babysitters? I used those tips to pay for journalism classes, and yeah, they were online before you go there. But I’m actually trying to be good at this, and I’m having a blast in the process. You’re being a miserable bitch, and getting the experience to match. You think you’re better than me? Then maybe act like it.” Teagan shouldered past her and went to find Annoxia, stopping to talk to anyone she found interesting along the way. Jennifer started after her and stopped in her tracks. The anger wiped off Teagan’s face in an instant as she approached two kids with footlong beards glued to their faces and padding stuffed into their outfits. She knelt and giggled and took pictures with them. Jennifer scowled. She used to do things like that when she was the weathergirl. People would ask her for her autograph and send her gifts on Valentine’s and her birthday. It was a dead-end job, and Thom was right about her wanting an anchor position. Jennifer wandered through the faire, using her digital to capture some B-roll. A group gathered in a candle-lit tent and groaned collectively as one of the players rolled poorly. She filmed them for a moment and then moved along to a pair of geeks battling with foam swords in defense of a damsel’s honor. A petting zoo closed for the night to a chorus of children promising to come back the next day and visit their favorite goats. She spotted Vern knee-dancing with a group of barbarians painted with woad. An elderly lady fanned herself and played coy to the mock-proposals of young men who jockeyed for her attention. The bimbo was right. Everyone was having a blast at the stupid event, except for her. Jennifer sighed and prowled the grounds, stopping to sample Attila the Hungry’s homemade mana bars. The combination of honey, nuts, and peanut butter reminded her stomach it was empty. The organ vocalized its need for greater sustenance and Jennifer got another of the bars to hold her over while she found something more filling. A bard stumbled by strumming his lute and belting out lyrics about a reporter named Lake who was as wet as her namesake. Jennifer snickered and recorded the rest of the performance until the bard, distracted by his flirtations, backed into a burly knight in battered armor who lifted him by his violet cloak. The reporter laughed as the men exchanged nerdy insults. Jennifer’s eyes drifted to another figure in the background, however. The rune-casting elf girl from before was making rounds between food carts and building a plate. Jennifer went and joined her at OK Brewing’s What Ales You? and tapped her on the shoulder. “I’m Jennifer Lake with Channel 7 News. I was wondering if I could buy you a pint for a brief interview?” she asked. “I think that’s the best proposal I’ve gotten today,” the elf said. “And the first one that didn’t involve a penis.” They both got a mug and found a picnic table where the fortune teller ripped into her snacks while Jennifer improvised a camera stand.

“Before I came here, I thought this place was just for nerds. You’re, well, obviously not what I expected to see. What brings you here?” Teagan asked “I’m a huge nerd.” Annoxia laughed, roughly towel drying her hair. “I’ve always been tall and athletic. Boys didn’t want to date me in high school. I excelled at sports so the girls didn’t want to hang out either. One day, some of the losers asked me if I wanted to have lunch with them and they were talking about Dungeons & Dragons.” “My dad and uncles used to play that,” Teagan said. “They were everything they wanted to be when they played and I liked that, so eventually I wanted to join. I beat a bunch of the jocks arm wrestling and took their lunch money,” Annoxia remembered with a wide smile. “Once I had enough, I bought a rulebook and read it religiously. That’s how Annoxia came into existence.” “That’s awesome.” Teagan jotted it all down in her comp book. “I see someone strong and beautiful, and I didn’t think about how there could be a downside to that.” “I appreciate that.” Annoxia sat on the cot and tossed the towel next to the battery-powered lantern. “Have you ever done any role-playing?” “Just in the bedroom.” Teagan snorted. “Can you show me how to do it?” Someone screamed for help, making Annoxia jolt from the cot. “You might have a more exciting story than me,” the Amazonian said.

Vern wiped the brain matter from his eyes. The horse neighed and kicked one of the barbarians in his blue-streaked face. The rider, adorned in black armor, swung his mace, and bashed open another skull like a gore-filled pinata. A couple of players discarded their foam swords for branches and tried pummeling their attacker. The sticks clacked and pinged against the steel plates. The sickening, wet splat of the spiked club pulverizing flesh sent Vern running. “Help! Someone help me!’ he shouted. The freedom of his kilt aided his flight. The noise of the karaoke contest guided him back to the faire as he continued calling out for anyone. Hooves beat closer. He chanced a look back and saw the knight—a shadow against the distant glow of the party’s fire. His pursuer slid free the wooden lance from the horse’s saddle. A ring of tents sat illuminated by a firepit. He angled toward the gathering, hoping to find safety in numbers. Vern tried shouting again, but his lungs were fighting to keep him moving. The metal point of the lance hit the base of his skull, knocking his teeth out as it tore through his mouth. Vern’s feet pumped in the air as the momentum lifted him from the ground. The lance hit a tree, shattering into splinters and leaving Vern in a heap around its roots.

“What was that you were saying earlier about the ‘Stygian Knight,’ when you did the thing with the rocks?” Jennifer asked. “They’re runes, not rocks.” The fortune teller, Elodie, laughed and took off her elf ears, massaging the cartilage with a happy groan. “The Stygian Knight is part of the game lore. The creators just released an entire adventure module around his return, so it’s playing a big part in a lot of the events at this year’s gathering.” Jennifer pursed her lips. She didn’t do any research before coming out, reenforcing the idea that maybe she wasn’t a real reporter after all. She cleared her throat. “I didn’t know there was a game,” she admitted. “I kind of made a snap judgment about the whole thing, to be honest.” “A lot of people do.” Elodie patted Jennifer’s hand. “We celebrate all fantasy here, but it’s our collective love for Dragon Spawn that created Fantasy Faire. The Stygian Knight is a character from the game that’s always been in the background. There’s only two ways to get him to go back to Erebus, the underworld. The most common is to satiate his need for love. A woman becomes his bride for a century. It’s used a lot to write off characters that people are tired of or whose players have moved on.” “What’s the other way?” “He can be bested in combat, but only by a virgin.” “Why a virgin?” “Well, for starters it rules out most of the heroic fighter types. It makes the campaign shift focus to the clerics, paladins, and wizards. It also helps a lot of players with their self-image.” “How so?” Jennifer sipped her ale and leaned on the table. “Virginity and masculinity are seen as incompatible.” Elodie popped a cheese cube into her mouth and shrugged. “Everyone assumes players are virgins. They treat it like it’s the worst insult they can come up with. So, the creators made the virgins the heroes.” “Perhaps against the Stygian Knight,” a voice said. Elodie groaned. Jennifer looked to the new arrival, decked in polished armor with a flowing, crimson tunic over it. The man didn’t wear a helmet over his angular, handsome face. The reporter focused on his features, trying to remember where she recognized him from. “It takes a real man to defeat a horde of orcs or a bugbear. A man such as I.” He put his hands on his hips heroically. “I am Aldous Francisco, Lord of Gygax.” “More like Lord of Ball-sacks,” Elodie grumbled around the rim of her glass. Aldous ignored them both when he noticed the camera. He slid onto the bench beside Elodie, nudging her to the side to get into frame. “What are you filming?” he asked. “An interest piece, so I don’t know why you’re sitting,” Jennifer told him. She snapped her fingers. “Wait a second. You’re Francisco Reed, the quarterback for the Little Rock Riot.” Aldous straightened and cleared his throat. “I’m sorry, miss. I never break character.” The screaming interrupted the impromptu interview. Jennifer snatched the camera off the table and recorded the people running away. She recognized the screams. They were the same kind she heard at every major story of her short career. She watched the crowd flee, taking steps closer to them. Elodie grabbed her arm. Jennifer looked at the woman’s hand and pulled free. “A good reporter runs towards the danger.” Jennifer sprinted into action.

The dwarf was keening, trying to keep his guts in as Teagan crawled over him with a whispered apology. When she’d screamed, people filed out of their tents—straight into the Stygian Knight’s path of violence. He bashed their heads with his mace, sending the survivors fleeing in terror. The next camp came running to help them, only to turn tail at the sight of all that carnage. Annoxia prepared for battle as the Knight dismounted. Teagan recorded the event. The Knight dropped his mace into a fresh pool of blood and drew his sword. Annoxia looked around for a weapon and he charged while she hesitated. His sword flashed in front of her face. Teagan gasped as a lock of red hair floated in the firelight. The Amazon dropped low and lifted the Knight into the air, tossing him into the bonfire in an explosion of embers. He rolled away from the flames. His sword slashed through the air to keep her back. Annoxia kicked the hilt, knocking the weapon away. The black knight’s knuckle guard cracked against her jaw. His gloved fingers twisted in her hair and blade sprang from under his gauntlet with a cold schnick. Annoxia blocked his arm, stopping the point against her throat. The black helmet battered her face until she stumbled away. The Knight lunged with the concealed knife, plunging it into her tightly muscled abdomen. The sword sparked off the side of the Knight’s helmet. He staggered away. His own weapon rushed toward his visor. The Knight sidestepped and slashed with his dagger. Teagan’s shirt split down the middle. A thin gash from her navel to collar opened. The Knight’s killing blow stopped an inch short. His helmet cocked to appreciate the view. He slugged the neophyte reporter across the jaw instead. Jennifer watched as the Knight slung Teagan’s unconscious body over the back of the horse and set off to toward the stage of the karaoke contest. She ran to the campsite, filming the bodies. Annoxia groaned and tried to get up, only to fall once more. Jennifer helped her sit up and gave the warrioress her phone. “Call for help. If I let him kill the boss’ secretary, I’m definitely out of a job.” Jennifer collected the mace from the blood puddle and sprinted after the Knight. En Vogue’s Free Your Mind grew louder as she caught up. Terrified screams replaced the catchy lyrics. Jennifer took cover behind a large speaker while she filmed the Knight’s rampage. Her would-be suitor cowered beside her, pulling his purple cloak around himself. “He’s killing everyone,” the bard whimpered. “You noticed that too, huh?” Jennifer crawled past him to the anachronistic DJ booth. She flipped the switch on the side of the generator, casting everything into darkness. Jennifer switched her camera from video to still and inched along, letting the moonlight guide her toward Teagan’s captor. The horse stomped around while the Knight laughed at whimpering victims bleeding out beneath him. Jennifer took a deep breath and prepared herself to do something stupid. Teagan groaned. The Knight twisted and grabbed the back of her neck. “Shush, wench,” he shouted. Jennifer paused. She expected a growl—something deep and fierce, not a nasal squeal echoing from inside the obsidian helmet. She scoffed and charged straight at the horse. The camera unleased a burst of flashes. The horse reared back, rolling Teagan from its haunches with a plop. The Knight screamed and clung to the steed’s neck. Jennifer flashed it again and smacked its shoulder with the mace. The horse bucked wildly, bouncing the Knight and launching him into the air. Jennifer heard the satisfactory clanking of his armor bounding across the field. The lights came back on with a sudden roar from the generator. The bard stood, shaking at the booth with a smile stretched across his face. Teagan pulled the remains of her shirt together and tied them in a knot around her midriff as she joined Jennifer. They approached the fallen form of the Knight. He started to stir as they drew near. Teagan heard the schnick of the blade and jerked Jennifer’s head out of the knife’s path by her ponytail. Jennifer swung the mace as hard as she could. The Knight dropped to his steel-plated ass and wrestled to get the dented helmet off his head. The ragged metal tore open his cheek between the thin line of a patchy beard and a spray of acne. He sobbed as he worked a broken tooth free and spat the remains to Jennifer’s feet. “You stupid cunt,” he squeaked. “You shouldn’t have done that!” The Knight clamored to his feet and drew his sword. Teagan ran away. “Thanks for the help, Teagan!” Jennifer gripped the club handle, wringing it in her fist. “I’m going to make your incel ass famous. The Knight’s Sword Goes Limp—how’s that for a headline?” “Bitch!” The knight swung wildly. Jennifer backpedaled and met his blow with one of her own. Their weapons clashed again. Jennifer braced as the Knight spun and unleashed a powerful slash that knocked her to the ground. The Knight aimed his blade at her heart. “I guess I’ll still be penetrating one of you uppity bitches tonight,” the Knight laughed. “I cast fireball, motherfucker!” Teagan shouted. She knelt next to a large, narrow cylinder. She held up a remote control. Jennifer’s eyes followed a red cord from the cylinder back to the squat, concrete bunker behind the secretary. The realization dawned on her and she rolled away from the Knight, covering her face. Teagan pressed the button. The mortar shell fired with a resounding thump and slammed into his breastplate. The Stygian Knight flew through the air on a trail of sparks and disappeared beneath the karaoke stage. The explosion knocked over the stage-lighting and set the decorative skirt ablaze in a multi-colored flash. The wooden structure ignited instantly. Teagan went to Jennifer’s side and helped her to her feet. “Guess you got a real story out of this after all,” she said. “Yeah,” Jennifer rubbed Teagan’s shoulder. “I guess we did.” Sirens wailed in the distance. The two reporters raised their cameras to film the Knight’s funeral pyre. The stage collapsed atop his remains, setting embers adrift on the breeze. “It’s a real hot knight, huh, weathergirl?” Teagan nudged Jennifer’s ribs. “Don’t push it, secretary.” The End

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Ep.98 – A Night of Hot Wax - This Music Can KILL YOU

Episode Notes

A mysterious musical recording brings a young man to a sinister performance where the final movement is DEATH!

A Night of Hot Wax by John Oak Dalton

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Ep.97 – Normal Shit - Zombies Really Put a Damper on a Work Day

Episode Notes

Felix has to finish their shift at work, no matter how many zombies get in the way.

Normal Shit by Michelle Adler

Read the comic: https://www.webtoons.com/en/challenge/at-the-end-of-everything/list?title_no=527008

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Transcript:

I wasn't able to remove my respirator fast enough to prevent myself from filling it with vomit. I fought viciously with its straps and eventually separated it from my face mid wretch, tossing it away with all the gracefulness of a person who was now covered in their own puke. I finished up on the deteriorating concrete like a civilized adult.

My first clear thought while I was trying to calm down was that general, "my body betrayed me and now I have no food and I'm going to starve to death" thing that I think when I have no food and I'm going to starve to death. That, amazingly, didn't calm me down at all.

After that, came a wave of embarrassment. I mean, it's just an arm. Was I really throwing up over a stupid fucking arm? It's not like I'd never seen an arm before... I see them all the time, I even have two of my own! I mean, look at it sitting over there in the street, minding its own business...ripped off at the socket, like a chicken wing.. In the early stages of decay..

I spit some more bile into the grass. Ok, now I was just messing up my esophagus.

I sat for a few minutes, collecting my thoughts. I couldn't go to work like this. I needed to call Steff and let her know I was going to be late. "Maybe I'll leave out the part about the arm and just pretend I'm unreliable," I thought. But before I could trudge back to my house and hose myself off, I was going to need to do something about that arm.

I sighed. They'd said they were going to up city sanitation services to take care of this kind of thing, but I hadn't even seen a garbage truck in over a month. Living in a slightly less desirable area of the city, I was used to this type of shit. But still, even slightest consideration, like an email about suspending service indefinitely, would have been nice. I thought about ignoring it, just never looking in that spot again, but I was afraid someone was going to trip over it. I pulled off my soaked t-shirt and approached cautiously, as if not to startle it. It took all my effort to actually grasp the thing with my t-shirt covered hand. I then lifted the limp chunk of meat and panic ran it to the closest neighbors overflowing trash can, shouting "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry!" As I did for some unknowable reason.

I made it back to my house WITHOUT TOUCHING ANYTHING and washed my hands until the skin started to peel.

I felt bad about being late to work. Being dependable is my one and only good quality. Without it I'm just a scared, incompetent child. "This is the time," I thought as I pushed the security gate open just enough to slide my body under it, "this is the time they fire me." I quickly slammed down and relocked the gate. Of course this was not that time, it couldn't be. I didn't even flip on the lights of the empty store as I entered, I was alone. As always.

Removing my gear, I hovered over the computer and checked the day's pending orders. Today it was just floral arrangements. Once the flowers were arranged we had a strict no refund policy. So before I started piecing things together, I checked the phone for cancellations. There were 21. I've been keeping track of the cancellation to order ratio since the first week we noticed the very disturbing trend. I've found it correlates directly with the-- you know-- Or at least it used to when I had access to that kind of data. Cases rise and flower cancellations go up right along with them. The only time this wasn't true was right around Valentine's Day and Mother's Day for obvious reasons. I scribbled down 21/40 on the pad next to the register, wished it was Valentine's Day so I could give people happy flowers, and got to work.

Amazingly, we still have water, cold water at least, on the Southside and I've been able to secure propane for the generator rather easily. I sat in the cool, cave-like humidity, as I prepared the day’s orders. The generator covers the refrigerators and computer, but that's all. I hummed quietly to its din, grateful it wasn't quieter, it muted whatever was happening outside.

I was very good at pretending it completely blocked whatever was happening out there. I started to hum louder.

The closer I got to finishing my prep work, the more excited I became. It got to the point where my hands were actually shaking from the sheer joy of.. being so fucking terrified.

Well, anyway, I did that annoying breathing technique where I breathed in and out way slower than I could ever want to and then agonized over how specifically horrible I am at breathing in general until I fixated on my crushing self loathing enough to compensate for my near panic attack. Normal shit.

It was time. I trudged forward into the unknown filled with a sense of whatever it is I feel all the time. The air was so thick with smoke from whoever's wildfires it was this week, that, for once, I was incredibly thankful to have a gas mask (which smelled like puke now, fyi) instead of the more standard muzzle that was strongly recommended, though not legally required, by the CDC. Everyone had told me I was crazy when I started wearing it, but who's crazy now?

Ok, it's still me.

All of the day's deliveries were funeral arrangements. Yeah.. I had three funeral homes to hit before 5pm. I can't stress how important it was that I stuck to that timeline. The last funeral home was exactly a half hour's ride from the shop and I absolutely had to be back there by 5:30 at the very latest. No fucking wiggle room available.

The first stop, Bradford's Funeral Home, was out in the sticks. It was a beautiful ride up a very steep hill. Which was part of the reason I went while I still had the highest amount of energy and the least amount of injuries of the day. The building was surrounded by a tall chain link fence, complete with razor wire at the top. I always tried not to look at the razor wire.. I didn't really want to see what was caught up there. I'm not saying anything was, I'm just saying it was possible and I didn't want to find out. The gate at the entrance was always locked, but they'd added this neat little drop box for the flowers and I guess mail too. I rang the buzzer next to the box, shouted "It's Felix!" into the intercom. As usual, there was no response from the other side. That was ok though, I’m sure running a funeral home is a tough job even in the best of times, they were probably just embalming someone. They weren’t like, dead in there or anything. Or...you know.., but somehow still working, or at least taking in the flowers every day. I placed the arrangements gently into the receptacle.

“Just because I can think it, doesn’t mean it’s real,” I reminded myself, continuing to avert my gaze from the razor wire as I turned away to leave.

I liked the part where I got to go down the hill. I imagined how nice the air would have felt if it wasn’t full of smoke and I wasn’t so covered in protective gear. I wondered if this was how astronauts felt when they were on the moon or wherever it is astronauts go. If so, I don’t ever want to go to space. I got so lost in my space men daydream that I accidentally cruised right through the stop sign at the bottom of the hill. Luckily, there was no one on the road. I still felt bad about it though.

Second stop, Riverview Cemetery and Mausoleum, was, you guessed it, right by the river. And I bet you’ll never guess what you can see from there. Correct again, the expressway! Anyway, Riverview’s security was a little more lax. There was no razor wire (only the barbed kind) and while the gate was latched, it was not usually actually locked. Anyone with enough mental dexterity to unlatch a gate was probably ok to go in. And plus, it seemed mean to lock the dead out of a final resting place. Or at least that’s what the funeral director had told me. It was also possible that they had just lost the key. It’s not like there was a locksmith left in this town.

Whatever the actual reason for keeping it unlocked was, usually that latch was more or less dry and clean, and not coated with a viscous layer of mucus and blood, like it happened to be at that moment. I stared at it blankly for a long time, but who was I to question it? I barely knew a thing about proper gate maintenance. It was quite possible that what I was looking at was lubricant of some sort. Maybe the gate had been sticking lately.

"Mucus is a good lubricant," I accidentally reminded myself, suddenly overtaken with a full body shudder. I pried the gate open with a twig.

Everything looked ok in the cemetery. All the corpses were underground, at least, and that felt like a win. However, when I got closer to the office I realized that this was not even vaguely "a win".

"I don't have any more food to throw up," I reminded myself, averting my gaze from the mess of what I can only describe as entrails on the marble entryway floor and fixating on the silent interior. I saw a mop in the corner, ready to go. At least someone was on it, I thought.

But there was no one.

I took a deep breath and shouted, "Mr. Matthews? It's Felix with the flowers!" My voice echoed back at me violently, followed by deafening silence. He was definitely probably just in the bathroom. "I- um, I'm just gonna leave these here," I yelled into the nothing and laid the arrangements out on the front desk. As I turned away, I could have sworn I heard--

I stood motionless, listening to the stale air, my heartbeat pulsing audibly in my eardrums. After a while I realized that I'd been holding my breath and puffed outward. This was stupid, everything was ok. I absolutely hadn't heard anyone call my name.

"Ffff...lix.." The breathy moan of an approximation of my name made every single muscle in my body contract simultaneously, readying a fight or flight response. I was trying to calm my breathing when I heard something wet being dragged across the floor. That was enough for me to whip around and let out an embarrassing gasp.

The funeral director was using all his upper body strength to pull himself over the carpet towards where I was standing. Normally he just, well, walked places, but I guess that wasn’t an option seeing as his legs were mostly gone. Chewed right off like jerky. The mangled leftovers stained the carpet as he half crawled forward. I almost said something, but I didn't know what words to use, so I just stood there staring at him, like an idiot. I was probably making him feel more terrible with that reaction. I should have smiled and told him how nice his shirt was or something. Couldn't really see what it looked like under all the blood, but you get the idea.

"Feee....lix…" He choked through his eviscerated windpipe, "It's st-st..lll heerrree." He lifted his left arm and pointed behind me. Well, every fucking hair on my body stood straight up at that point. Suddenly I became acutely aware that the light from the doorway was now obstructed. I slowly reached to my side to grab my big long hitting people stick and silently cursed myself for not carrying a gun.

“Swing once and run,” I planned in my head, “make it to the back door, get the rest of the deliveries and get as far away as---” But it was too late. Something had grabbed hold of my arm and squeezed it with what I could only imagine was the intent to break it in half. I winced as its long, filthy nails dug deep into my flesh. I fought the urge to panic about whatever weird bacteria might be entering my bloodstream and how long it would be before I could clean it with antiseptic. I had to resist the urge to try to jerk my arm away. Any sudden movement could startle the thing and increase the speed in which it caused harm to my physical being. What I mean is, I really needed two arms to do my job well and I intended to keep them both.

An oppressive humidity graced my unprotected neck. It was fucking sniffing me. It’s cold, musty breath pulsed in and out, as it tried to determine the best place to take its first bite. I was going to die right there on the floor with Mr. Matthews. I had to come up with a plan before---

Oh shit, too late again.

My dying friend's eyes widened with fear as the thing dug it's fist into my hair, scraping my scalp, with the intention of.. you know... But instead of fighting to pull away, like a normal god fearing individual, in a moment of sheer insanity, I convinced myself to trust-fall into that fucker. You know when you go to lift up something heavy and it turns out it's actually very light? The force of its pull and my lack of resistance caused my head to slam right into its jaw. A few of its teeth thudded onto the carpet and it screamed in shock and hopefully at least a little pain. That was enough for it to stop paying attention to crushing my arm and I was finally able to grab my staff.

I turned to meet the gaze of the monster, a young woman. Shit, she couldn’t have been older than 21. She cradled her broken jaw in her hands, black mucus streamed from her eyes and her injured mouth, the skin of her forearms cracked and grey, splitting to reveal bright red mushrooms. Nothing special, really, but still a bit unnerving. She lunged at me, clearly upset about her face, but I was able to get my staff between us, and hit her in the diaphragm hard enough to knock the wind out of her. She collapsed like a broken marionette. That was my opportunity to violently smash her head in. It… took awhile. Not because I’m not strong, though that factors in a little, but mostly because of all of her screaming. I'm not going to insinuate that it was so bad that I wake up every night in a cold sweat, swearing I'm hearing me murder her over and over again or anything. But it's really hard to power through that after a while. Maybe I should get some of those noise cancelling headphones.

Once I was sure it was over, I turned back to Mr. Matthews. I winced in awareness that I was going to have to mercy kill him in the same way (Note to self: GET A GUN). There were no hospitals that would take the recently bitten and no cops left to kill people for fun, so that responsibility was increasingly falling on me. Luckily, while the funeral director was still in that same position, staring at me in horror, he was no longer breathing. I managed to lay him in a more dignified position, closed his eyes, and apologized for being too late to save him. I thought about mopping the floor myself before being on my way, but all I really had time to do was affix a note to the door explaining the situation so the groundskeeper would know what he was walking into.

By the time I exited the cemetery gate it was already 4:27pm. With my last stop still roughly a half hour away, I rode like my life depended on it, blowing through stop signs and red lights, breaking any traffic law that technically didn’t matter anymore. I longed for the earlier part of the day when I was young and dumb and concerned about that one stop sign.

The last stop, Friendly’s Mortuary, was on the other side of the river, in the city’s urban core. I didn’t love going over there because it was much more densely populated. I didn’t even like being around that many people when they were alive, but now with most of them, you know, it was a particularly bad time.

I approached the bridge, breathing hard, my arm still bleeding a little, and my head throbbing. The smog was so dense that I couldn’t see the blue arches of its structure rising up in front of me, like I normally could when I turned the last corner. The smog was so thick that I still couldn’t see it when I was only a few yards away. The smog was so dense that-- I could see the buildings on the other side just fine? The light from the afternoon sun glinted off their broken windows.

Oh shit.

I squeezed the hand breaks frantically. The bike, apparently not affected by the laws of motion, came to an immediate stop, leaving me to maintain momentum and sail over the handlebars. An intense pain cut through my spine as I landed flat on my back. I laid there, feeling stupid and in pain for a long time. Once I was able to collect myself, I flipped to my side and stared down into the water. Parts of the suspension bridge peaked through the rough waves far below where I lay on the charred asphalt.

It would have looked like a suicide. Maybe it almost was.

How could I have possibly forgotten that I’d blown up the bridge a day prior? What kind of fucked up individual, burns a bridge to the ground and then casually forgets it ever happened? In addition, I was supposed to contact Friendly’s to let them know that because I’d committed what boiled down to an act of terrorism to save this side of the city from the vast infestation on their side, we were no longer going to be able to deliver to them, but I guess it had slipped my mind as well. I was really doing a bad job over here.

It's not that there wasn't another way over. I would never blow up my only access to civilization. However, it meant taking the expressway on a bicycle at rush hour and going through the tunnel. I mean, the bridge had been bad enough, but a moist, dark, underwater tunnel? No fucking way I was doing that, it was probably teeming with zombies--er, I mean..you know. I’d never make it through alive and the flowers would probably be pretty messed up too.

I checked the time on my now cracked phone screen, 5:15. Now, maybe you're thinking this is the part where I concoct some cool plan to get me there and back in time. Or maybe you wanna believe that a helicopter touched down right then and there and for some reason flew me both ways out of the kindness of their heart. Well, I'm sorry, but in reality we're both going to have to accept that I am just not that good of a courier.

I sighed, defeated, removing the remaining floral arrangements from my carrier and dumping them into the river. Once I was done destroying my work, I managed to get to my feet. If I pedaled really really fast, maybe I could at least get back to the shop in time. Might not be that easy to do injured, but whatever. I reached for the handlebars to pick up my bike. I missed. My left hand had more or less just grasped air, making me lose balance, twist my ankle and, of course, forcing me to confront my two missing fingers. It wasn’t the first time I’d forgotten they were gone, bitten off a few months back, and then tried to grab something with them. Heck, it wasn’t even the first time it had happened that day, but for some reason that was the time it had me doubled over and sobbing, like the little tiny baby I am. I just sat there, shaking and gulping down tears, not even sure what I was crying about, until my phone beeped, alerting me to the time, 5:30. I lifted my mask to wipe my eyes and stain my face with dirt and blood. The cool, pre-evening air made me shiver. It hurt to move and really what was the point? It was already too late. So now to add to losing a client, breaking my phone, watching a fellow business person bleed out, and vomiting over an arm, I’d also officially been at work for over 8 hours and I do not get overtime.

In the end I forced myself up and limped my way back. "Just another day in paradise," I grumbled. I needed a fucking vacation.

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Ep.96 – Even Witches Can Cry - Never Make a Deal with a Demon!

Episode Notes

After a tragic loss a man of mystery makes an offer Jillian can't refuse. When the man returns for his piece of the bargain things get DEADLY.

Even Witches Can Cry by Charles Campbell Buy the book at http://valleyboypublications.com

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Ep.95 – Chain Letter - Do What It Tells You OR DIE!

Episode Notes

Someone sinister has used their evil to make the threats of chainletters a reality! Now as the body count rises can it be stopped?

Chain Letter by Rob Fields

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Ep.94 – The Wolf of Fagan County - There's a Monster Among Us!

Episode Notes

A sleepy town has always had dark secrets but when young people turn up dead, mutilated and partially eaten a brother and sister decide they have no choice but to find out who's killing the townspeople.

The Wolf of Fagan County by David O'Hanlon

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Transcript:

Maybe Whistler was a nice town once. It seemed that way until the summer of ’86. The old folks always whispered about certain places—about the places you don’t go and the boogeymen that dwelled within. Everyone in Fagan County knew a local ghost story. Back then, I loved to hear those stories. Nowadays, not so much. My dad trucked crops from the farms into the neighboring states of Louisiana and Mississippi. I didn’t see much of him. He left before dawn and got home after sunset. The day before my thirteenth birthday, he took a load to Shreveport. I awoke to a stack of used horror comics the next morning with a note that read “You’re old enough for the good ones now, soldier.” I loved the way those pages smelled. After all these years, I still have a couple of them in the suitcases I live out of. I’d read through the entire bundle in a week. I flipped through them and found the one I’d enjoyed the most for a second visit when my mother called from downstairs. “Connie! Come quick,” she shouted. I hated when she called me that. It was bad enough being named Conrad. The effeminate nickname caught on with my friends in second grade… and then with the rest of the student body by the end of recess. Something sounded off in her voice as I trudged down the narrow staircase that descended into the kitchen. Mom was sitting at the table with her elbows pressing into the vinyl top and her hands hiding her face. My sister, Lisa, had her head down, shrouded in her arms. Her body convulsed as she bawled noisily inside. I held my breath all the way to the table. No one spoke to me as I slid the chair away from the edge and eased into it. Mom reached over and put her hand on mine. “Something terrible’s happened,” she whispered. Something terrible had happened a few weeks ago, too. And a few weeks before that. We’d discussed both of those events as a family. No one was crying then. Sure, Mom had been shaken up by the discovery of the first body, but it seemed like nothing to worry about. We all knew Old Man McGarrah from around town. He would pop out like a magician’s rabbit to grump about what a bunch of slack-jawed hippy-spawn all the kids were whenever you least expected it. The police said it was a heart attack that took him and that coyotes took to eating his remains. Grotesque and unseemly as it were, my folks delivered the news to my sister and me with just the facts and reminded us to stay away from the woods. Coyotes rarely attacked people, but Dad said there’s something different about any animal—including man—once they got a taste for blood. The second time we were called to the table, it was clearly more bothersome. Mom wasn’t handling it well, but she remained calm as she told us about the bodies found out along County Road 63. A couple of teens gone to make out got cut up real bad. Chief Hardesty said it was just a freak occurrence—a crime of opportunity—and that the killer was likely long gone. Our parents told us to be home thirty minutes before sundown after that and to never go anywhere alone, just in case. This time was different. “Connie,” she started, tugging at the silver locket dangling from her thin neck. Her voice trembled. “It’s Brenda.” My stomach knotted. Brenda Knowles had been Lisa’s best friend since kindergarten. She’d babysat for me on a few occasions and came to eat dinner with us every Wednesday. She was my first crush too. I sniffled, but held back any other reaction until Mom could finish. Maybe it wasn’t what I thought. Maybe those old Tales from the Crypt comics were poisoning my imagination the way Father Dean said they would at youth service. Maybe she was moving away. That would explain why they were so upset. “Chief Hardesty found her this morning,” Mom continued. Nope. It was exactly what I thought it was. I don’t remember the exact moment that I realized the killings were a month apart, but I do remember Lisa raising her face to stare at Mom and then me in turn. Her lips quivered and then she stood up fast enough to knock the chair to the floor. She slammed her fists onto the table and screamed. That I’ll never forget. That look… and those words. “She was eaten!”


Lisa cried until she passed out that night. I watched the news with Mom to see if the police had anything to say. The station’s newest reporter, Rex Willits, looked like he’d been sick as he raised the microphone close to his chin. His hand shook slightly and his trademark smile was nothing but a thin line of white teeth below his bushy mustache. Rex nodded slowly and started his report when the phone rang in the kitchen and Mom went to answer. “I’m here at the Ridley Funeral Home in Fagan County to report on a grisly, unimaginable crime,” Rex started. He swallowed hard. “The body of fifteen-year-old Brenda Knowles was found just before dawn this morning. Brenda had been babysitting for family friends the prior evening. She started the short walk to her home just before eleven pm.” I turned my attention to Mom’s shouting in the kitchen. “What do you mean ‘two days,’ Paul?” she growled. “It doesn’t take two damn days to get a mechanic.” Dad’s truck broke down. That happened a lot when he was hauling rice to Shreveport. Only then, though. Mom noticed too. She had a pretty good idea of what was going on. “What about the kids?” she wailed. “You know what’s going on here! You’re leaving us alone so you—” Her voice became muffled and I scooted closer to the television to hear what Rex had to say. I heard the phone slam against the receiver several times and Mom stomping up the steps. “I’ve seen the body… my God in Heaven, I’ll never unsee it now,” Rex said when movement caught his attention. He snapped his fingers and pointed his cameraman in the direction of the police chief. Other reporters rushed in around him. Rex elbowed one of them out of his way and reached out with his mic. “Don’t you buzzards have anything better to do?” Chief Hardesty barked. “A child is dead for Christ’s sake.” “How?” Rex asked. “How did she die?” “Violently,” Hardesty answered in his low, gruff drawl. “Is this related to last month’s double homicide?” a woman’s voice asked. “We don’t have conclusive evidence linking the two, this early in the investigation,” Hardesty said. His shoulders sagged. “There are… similarities.” “Were the other victims missing flesh and muscle?” Rex quizzed him. “Were there bite marks on them as well?” Hardesty glared at Rex and then spoke with forced restraint. “At this time, I’m asking all residents of Whistler and the outlying areas to stay indoors at night. The curfew is merely a request, however.” The wail of sirens cut the report short. We wouldn’t find out until the morning that they’d found another body. Crazy Delores lived in a shack on the edge of town. She sold herbal remedies and told fortunes for a dollar. No one knew how long she’d been dead. I climbed into bed, but didn’t dare go to sleep. I opened a comic and thought about Dad. Maybe the rig really broke down, but I didn’t buy it. He was spending time with some woman. In a strange way, that made me feel better. He was more worried about getting laid than he was about the killer on the loose, so maybe it wasn’t a big deal. My door creaked open and Lisa slipped through the gap. I laid the comic down. I didn’t know what to say. ‘Sorry your best friend was brutally murdered and partially eaten’ really didn’t seem like it’d help the situation. Then again, ‘we’re going to find Brenda’s killers’ wasn’t a winner either, but that’s exactly what Lisa said as she leaned on my dresser. I gawked at her and waited what felt like an eternity for her to say something else. “Look, Connie,” she started, then paused and chewed her bottom lip. “Chief Hardesty is a scumbag. He’s going to pin all this on the first person that ain’t Baptist enough for him. Then the murderer is just going to drift away.” I was still too young to know how common that sort of thing was around there. Or what kind of a man Baxter Hardesty really was. I did want to make sure that Brenda’s killer got caught, however. “The killings are about a month a part,” I said, hesitantly, unsure of exactly what I’d discovered. I shrugged. “What if the killer travels and just stops through here every few weeks?” “Or lives here and returns home once a month?” Lisa offered. “Dad’s friend, Ted, is a long-haul driver.” I remembered. Ted tried to convince Dad to work with him all the time. I also remembered Ted coming to my birthday party. I shook my head. “I’m pretty sure he’s out of town now.” I scratched the two recently sprouted hairs on my chin. “What about a delivery driver? Brown’s only gets a few deliveries a month.” Lisa thought it over and nodded. “Okay, we’ll go by and see when they got a delivery.” Thinking the conversation was done, I lifted my comic. “What is that, Connie?” Lisa asked, shakily. “What are you reading?” I closed the issue and looked down at the cover. Bright yellow eyes stared up at me above fangs dripping blood over a broken skull. I looked up to my sister. I knew what she was thinking and I wanted to tell her she was stupid. I wanted to, but I didn’t. The same thought hit me when I looked at those fierce yellow orbs on the black cover. My stomach pitched as I thought about the recent events. My eyes left the stare of the beast and met my sister’s. “It’s a werewolf,” I finally said.


We tried to put the notion back into our imaginations—where werewolves were supposed to stay. Lisa and I rode our bikes to Brown’s General Store just past noon. The curfew officially started at sundown and was no longer a request. Not that it mattered. The streets were already deserted. The baseball card sputtering in the bike spokes signaled the arrival of Brad Breaker. Brad was between Lisa and myself in age, so he hung out with both of us. He was the definition of cool with his acid-washed jeans and his torn, mid-riff, Bruce Springsteen t-shirt. Brad could play guitar… and football. He was also muscular, with aquiline features and sandy blonde hair that made him look like Patrick Swayze in Red Dawn and made Lisa’s brain stop working. “My mom spazzed when I said I was leaving.” Brad looked at the grocery store and turned back to us. “But you said it was an emergency.” “You won’t get in trouble, will you?” Lisa asked. “Nah.” Brad shrugged. “My old man said experience builds character… and that I need to bring back more Folgers.” “Lucky this is our first stop,” I said. “So, why are we here?” Lisa looked to me. Telling him our theory would have been the right thing to do, but she thought he was cute and hoped I, being closer to the childish age to believe such things, would do it for her. I did not. “We want to find Brenda’s killer,” I said and waved at the street. “Everyone’s scared to death. We want to help.” “Why?” Brad asked. “I mean, why do you think you can do it faster than the police?” I removed the wrinkled, somewhat-neatly folded newspaper clippings and handed them to him. “Mister McGarrah died and his corpse was eaten by coyotes. That’s what they say, anyhow. There’s been a killing, at the same time, every month since. Each of those victims was partially eaten as well,” I said, rattling off the facts as quickly as I could. “I think the killer comes to town once a month.” “We think the murderer might be a delivery person or truck driver. So, we want to ask the Browns if they’ve gotten any shipments this week,” Lisa added. “Gnarly.” Brad nodded slowly. “Let’s get to work.” The Browns deliveries turned up bupkis. We checked with every business in town for the same results. That theory was as dead as Brenda, which left us with only one other possibility. A quarter till seven, we stopped by the ice cream shoppe and got sundaes for a quick sugar rush before dinner. I debated sharing the werewolf idea. I’d been trying to dismantle it as we asked around. If it was a werewolf, why’d the killings start only recently? Was anyone acting differently around town? Was anyone new? What made someone a werewolf? So many questions, but none of them ruled out the possibility. “What if… it’s stupid.” Brad said, staring up at the now full moon. “What if it’s a werewolf?” Lisa choked and stared at me wide-eyed over puffed cheeks full of banana split. “I mean, my pops tells me to stay away from Snyder Creek because some kids died back in the ’20s. Everyone says that was a monster. Why couldn’t this be one?” “Darn it!” I snapped my fingers and scooted my chair back with a screech of steel feet against the sidewalk. “Why didn’t I think of that?” “Think of what?” Lisa asked. “I’ve heard that story too,” I answered. “The Snyder Creek Ghoul. They never found out what really happened. Lisa, we need to go to the library and see if we can find any old papers about that.” “Not a chance, Connie.” She pointed at the sherbet skyline. “We need to get home before dark. It’s a long ride.” “The library’s probably already closed, anyway,” Brad offered. “The cops are never going to believe us,” Lisa said. “After tonight, he’ll just be a man,” I reassured her. “We’ll have a month to find out who the werewolf is and prove it.” “Crap!” Brad let his head hang. “Most non-triumphant.” “What?” Lisa and I asked in unison. “I forgot the coffee.” He put a foot on a pedal. “I’m going to hustle to Brown’s. See you later.” He wouldn’t.


Brad’s body wasn’t found for six days. Worst of all, strange as it sounds to say it like a bad thing, he didn’t get eaten. It would be a while before Lisa drew a startling conclusion from the fact. The curfew started an hour earlier afterwards. A citizen’s patrol was organized as well. It wasn’t much more than a dozen yokels with spotlights and guns driving the paved roads, however. They wouldn’t go down the miles of gravel paths where there weren’t any streetlights to keep them safe. They didn’t find the werewolf, either. All they accomplished was shooting a drifter who was busking at the Crispy Chi’ken Truck Stop. Chief Hardesty tried to pin the murders on that poor soul, like Lisa had suspected he would. No one was buying it. By that point, Dad had decided that between the new woman and a monster running roughshod back home, he had all the reason he needed to move to Louisiana. He came while we were asleep to collect his things. We spent every day tracking down information and investigating whatever absurd idea came to us. It was two nights before the next full moon when Lisa told me her troublesome theory. “He didn’t eat Brad because he was warning us,” she said, somberly across the table. The local library had few books on lycanthropy. We’d been reading them every night and comparing them to the two clippings we had from 1926 when the Snyder Creek Ghoul had struck. I put the piece of paper I was using as a bookmark between the pages of the tome and closed it. “What do you mean?” I whispered. “We were asking around about delivery schedules, about people from out of town.” She shook her head. “The wolf isn’t a stranger. We know him and he heard us asking. He wants us to leave him alone.” I checked my watch and reached under the table, wrestling with the zipper of my fanny pack. “Then he shouldn’t have killed our friends,” I growled. I pulled my prize and set it where Lisa could see with a heavy thump. Her eyes widened at the sight of cold, blue steel. “Dad forgot it when he packed,” I told her and lifted the Saint Christopher medallion our aunt had given me for my birthday. “I’ve got this and six silver dollars. We can make two or three bullets with that.” “We don’t know how to make bullets.” “Otto Dickens does,” I pointed out. “We have time to get to his store and back home if we go right now.” “We’re not hunting the damn thing, Connie!” Lisa stood quickly and looked around at the mostly empty library. She lowered her voice. “We should stop this.” “If he killed Brad to scare us off, then he knows who we are. We need the bullets regardless.” Her face twisted with contempt. She knew I was right and scooped her backpack before heading to the exit. We rode our bikes to the fork in the road—left to our house or right to Otto Dickens’ gun shop. Lisa didn’t speak as she leaned and pulled her Schwinn down the righthand street. I smiled softly and followed. Most families in Whistler had lived no further away than the county line for generations. Otto just seemed to appear one day. Despite what you might’ve heard about southern hospitality, it doesn’t apply to strangers. Otto had an uncanny ability with firearms, however. Small towns of rural Arkansas might’ve hated strangers, but they certainly loved their guns. Otto was soon a welcomed member of the community and set up a shop on the far side of town, a couple miles past the old cemetery. The tarnished bell over the door announced our arrival with whatever-the-hell a bell’s version of smoker’s cough is. Otto looked up from the reloading station, his face twisted with curiosity as two teens entered his tiny store. A long scar parted his wild, white beard on the left side of his face. He held up the cartridge he was working on between his thumb and index finger. “Best goddamn rifle round in history,” he said in a voice that sent a shiver racing up my spine. “Forty-five-seventy. I kept a chopped down Winchester in this caliber for clearing tunnels. Can’t hear much of shit anymore as a result, but it could turn old Victor Charlie inside-out in those confined spaces. You ever shot a man?” Lisa and I exchanged bewildered glances. How many kids could say ‘yes’? “Didn’t think so.” Otto deposited the finished cartridge into the cardboard box beside him. “Well, what can I help you with then? Too early for hunting.” “Not what we’re hunting,” I said. Lisa elbowed me in the ribs and cleared her throat. “You can make bullets, right?” “Reckon I can.” Lisa held out her hand and I gave her the items from my fanny pack. Otto left his stool and prowled to her. He bounced the coins and pendant in his palm. His amber eyes darted from one of us to the other before he snorted. “You want silver bullets.” He set the materials on his counter and shook his head. “That’s a shit idea. Silver’s too dense. It won’t take the rifling. Unless you plan on shooting a barn, you won’t be hitting nothing from more than a few feet. Muzzle velocity will nosedive too because the round is heavier than your powder load. They won’t mushroom either. They’ll go clean in and out. Shotshells. That’s what you need if you’re looking to use silver.” Lisa looked at me, completely lost in the gunsmith’s lesson in ballistic science. I didn’t understand it either. “We don’t have a shotgun,” I finally said. “We have a Chief’s Special .38.” “A snub-nose shooting silver bullets?” Otto burst with boisterous laughter. “Hell, you kids might as well slather yourselves in barbeque sauce and yell ‘here, puppy’ if you plan on fighting a werewolf with that set up.” My jaw fell open and I quickly glanced to my sister to find her in the same state. Otto put a hand on each of our shoulders. I hadn’t noticed before, but three of his fingers were missing from the one resting on me. He hunkered slightly to look us in the eyes. “Don’t look so surprised. Ain’t much else you could be doing with silver bullets.” He went behind the counter and pulled a sawed-off shotgun from beneath the register. My eyes drifted to the black tape wrapped around the walnut stock and the rough scratches where a serial number had been. “Reckon you can borrow this one. Going to take about an hour on the shells.” “You believe us?” I asked. “Lots of things in this world we pretend not to believe in no more. Pretend weren’t real in the first place.” He absently rubbed the scar on his cheek with the nubs of his fingers. “We pretend… until they start eating us.”


The sun was just an orange razor’s slash by the time we got home. We dropped our bikes in the yard and ran inside. The shotgun mostly fit inside Lisa’s backpack, so we could sneak it past Mom. Not that it mattered. All the lights were off and she wasn’t waiting for us like normal. I headed for the living room while she stashed the gun and changed clothes. “How are you, soldier?” a gruff, ragged voice asked from a darkened corner. The hairs prickled on the back of my neck at my dad’s pet name for me. He stepped out of the shadows. He looked different, and naked, as he gracefully scaled the back of the couch and perched on the cushion. The weak glow of the mail-order touch lamps shimmered on the sweat-slick hairs growing longer from his tight flesh. His elongated nails scratched at the thick, orange fabric of the sofa. “You can catch a lot from whores,” he said. He spoke slowly, like each word was new to him. Long strands of drool slung from his mouth as he flexed his jaw with a series of loud, painful pops. “Your ma knew. Tried to fix it with Crazy Delores.” His obsidian eyes focused on the coffee table. I saw Mom’s locket sitting there next to the half-full ashtray, still wet with blood. “It’s not just the bite,” he grumbled, his words becoming deeper and more inhuman. “It’s like the clap. I brought it home. Made her. McGarrah was… accident.” He shifted on the cushions. Things moved inside his body—bones and muscles realigning—and he whined like a dog in a sticker bush. He sprang over the table and landed inches from me. His nose twitched as he took in my scent. His lips didn’t touch anymore as the fangs locked together. Stiff fur covered his once chubby cheeks. “She couldn’t… control.” He growled. His teeth snapped in front of me. “I can. Join… pack… become. Come with me… soldier.” I quivered with fear. With hurt. With anger. I never suspected my parents. I needed answers. Lisa screamed and broke me out of his hypnotic gaze. His hand clamped over my mouth. He watched the stairs, waiting for Lisa to come down. I eased my hand to the fanny pack, wiggling my fingers to stretch the zipper without the noise. “Connie?” Lisa called. Dad sniffed the air. I watched his pointed ear twitch. He whipped his head back around to me and his eyes widened as the barrel pressed against his chest. The .38 was louder than I remembered. The bullets weren’t silver, but they did the trick. He fell backwards and crashed through the table. I fired the rest of them into his face while he was down. He screamed in pain behind me while I darted for the stairs. I slammed into Lisa who was clutching the shotgun. “I think there’s two of them!” she shouted. I wasn’t listening. I jerked the weapon from her hands and went to finish Dad off. Only, he wasn’t there. Two bloody bullets rolled in the debris of the coffee table. A shadow fell over me from the kitchen. I threw myself to the floor, narrowly dodging the swipe of my father’s claws. I rolled onto my back and he looked more monstrous than before. His face had contorted into a snout. The front window shattered, startling me. My finger tensed on the trigger and the silver buckshot tore through Dad’s thigh, obliterating the wood paneling beyond. I clamored up the stairs and Lisa pulled me to my feet by my collar. We ran into our parent’s room and slammed the door behind us. I screamed when I saw the body on the bed. It was Mom… but just barely. Her features were still deformed. Her body, still covered in the bristly fur of her new form. And her head hung from the gnawed throat by a few remaining strands of muscle. Everything Dad tried to tell me suddenly made sense. His new girlfriend turned him and he turned Mom. That’s how the werewolf knew we were snooping. Mom was doing the killing while Dad joined his new pack in Louisiana. I vomited at the foot of the bed. “What’s happening?” Lisa asked. Downstairs sounded like a dogfight. Snarls, yips of pain, furious barks, things breaking. I threw the door open and whipped around the corner with the shotgun raised and ready. Dad pounced onto the stairs. Blood gushed from wounds and he bared his fangs as he crawled up the steps toward me. I pulled the trigger. Nothing happened. I remembered duck hunting with him and then my own folly. I hadn’t chambered another round. He drew closer as I racked the slide, but it was too late. His claws opened deep furrows in my thigh and I toppled backwards. Then the other wolf came into view. It grabbed my father’s legs and pulled him down the steps before mounting his back. The beast howled victoriously and glared at me with amber eyes set in white fur. The monster clamped its fully formed jaws down on the back of Dad’s neck. I heard the wet snap of the spine as it shook its head from side to side. I stared at the long scar parting its fur, at the claws digging into its prey… and the missing fingers beside them. I pressed the barrel of the shotgun to the back of my father’s skull and fired. The white wolf slunk away. Brain matter and pieces of skull clung to its fur. I pumped the shotgun again. And then the beast was gone.


By morning, the bodies had fully reverted to their human forms. Chief Hardesty didn’t question anything. Dad was the killer and Mom was just a victim. We let him run with that story. Before our aunt could come and pick us up, we needed to take care of one more thing. We rode our bikes to Otto Dickens’ shop and found him assembling a pistol at his counter. “Reckon the police seized that gun,” he said, simply. “Yeah,” I answered. “Sorry, I guess.” I set my mother’s locket on the counter and looked at the gunsmith questioningly. “Wolfsbane.” He licked his lips. “It helps when you’re young, when the moon is still your master.” He finished the pistol he was working on and slipped it into a messenger bag. He pushed the kit over to me. “I haven’t killed anyone in a long time, in case you’re wondering,” he told us. “What do we do now?” Lisa asked. “Different breeds of wolf, the world over. My kind don’t have a pack here.” He pointed at the gauze around my leg. “Your old man’s kind does. You took from them. They’ll take from you. A wolf never forgets. You’re just rabbits now and there’s nothing left to do for a scared bunny, but to run.” We took the bag Otto prepared for us and left his shop. We didn’t go back to the house and wait for our aunt, though. We rode our bikes to the outskirts of Fagan County and hitched a ride at the Crispy Chi’ken. They caught up with us in St Louis three years later. I buried Lisa behind a city park. I rest in one place until I hear the bays of the pack on those bright, moonlit nights and then I disappear onto another stretch of asphalt. Always moving. Always staying ahead of the wolves. Always ready to remind them, that rabbits have teeth too. The End

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Ep.93 – The Siren's Song - Something Under the Water WANTS YOU DEAD!

Episode Notes

Something under that water sings beautifully... and hides a DEADLY secret, waiting to bring you under!

Siren's Song by Joe Solmo

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Transcript:

<pre>Jacob watched as his uncle headed towards the rustic one room cabin that sat on the riverbank. He wondered how he was supposed enjoy himself up here with his uncle. It had only been three days since his mother’s funeral. A car accident took her from him, she was on her way to pick him up from a friend’s house, after a night of trying out Dungeons &amp; Dragons. The night was fun, he was all smiles until the phone rang at Keith’s house and Keith’s mom had to drive him home. She wouldn’t explain why, but Jacob could tell by the look on her face something was wrong. They never caught the person who crossed the double yellow lines and hit his mother head-on. They fled the stolen car and the scene on foot before the police arrived and found her there. Jacob overheard the officer say that she was still alive when they arrived, but passed shortly after. They found several beer cans in the other car, and thought it might have been a drunk or teens out for a joy ride, but no one knew for sure. There was no justice, just loss. It really wasn’t fair. When Uncle Greg showed up to help them with arrangements and daily household stuff, Jacob was glad. His father seemed lost, he’d just stare out the window at the driveway, like he expected his wife to pull in any minute. At times, Jacob wanted to join him, wanted to believe that it was all a mistake and his mother would be home in time for dinner and complain has his father overcooked the roast. The night after the funeral his father suggested he go to bed early, and to be honest, Jacob didn’t feel like staying up. As he finished brushing his teeth, he could hear his uncle and father talking on the back deck. The window was open on the warm August night. He dragged the stool over to the window he used to use to brush his teeth so he could peek out. His father was still wearing his white shirt and tie, the latter hanging loosely to the side as his father raised a glass to his lips. He turned towards his Glen. “You know why I don’t want to go back up there,” Jacob’s father said after swallowing. “It would do the both of you good to get away. Come up to the river camp. It will be like old times, Jason,” Glen replied. “The boy should be up there too, get away from this place.” “Too many memories. Memories of her. You know not all the memories up there are good ones,” Jason said. They sat in silence for a minute and Jacob got bored. He climbed down and put his wooden stool away. He thought it was odd that his father told his uncle that he met mom at the cabin. When he asked for a school project, his parents had told him they met at a school dance. Jacob snapped out of his memory and looked at the river as it flowed by. So, this was where his father and mother met. He looked up and down the shore and wondered which of the houses had belonged to his mother’s family. He had never met anyone from his mother’s side. She told him they had all died when she was young. Before he knew it, he was standing at the water’s edge. Something had drawn him there. There was something comforting about the way the water lazily passed by the large boulder near the weathered dock. He walked out onto the aged wooden planks until he reached the edge and looked down at the reflection of the sunset and mountains in the river. He stared intensely into the water, there was something there, just under the surface, but he couldn’t make it out. Pastels reminiscent of Easter covered the swirling water, keeping its underwater secrets from him. He slapped a mosquito as it tried to make a meal of him. A look out on the water showed all kinds of insects swimming just above the surface of the water, and he regretted not bringing a long sleeve shirt to cover up. Jacob had never been fishing before, he wondered if he would like it. Maybe if it was a video game. Then he wouldn’t have to worry about the bugs. “There you are Jake,” came Uncle Greg’s voice from behind him. “Let’s get all the bags inside. It’s really cooling down; the browns should be out soon.” Jacob didn’t know what a brown was. He assumed it was some kind of fish, or maybe an insect since there were so many of those out. He grabbed his duffel bag from the back of the truck and with a grunt lifted it over the side of the truck. It took both hands to carry it to the house with a week’s worth of clothes inside it. “What’s a brown?” he asked his uncle as he caught up to him, out of breath. “Trout, boy. Brown trout. It’s on the menu for tonight. They love to eat those bugs there and will be right up near the surface. Easy pickin’s,” Uncle Greg replied. “Eww, they eat bugs?” Jacob asked. “Sure do, it’s a source of protein for them.” “Do they taste like bugs when you eat them?” asked Jacob. “Not at all, they’re delicious,” his uncle replied with a laugh and put his bag down on the old worn couch. “You take the bed; I will take the couch.” Jacob looked at the bed by the window. It had a nice view of the river; he carried his bag over to the bed and plopped in on there without taking his eyes off the river. A boat was heading upriver, the steady drone of its motor almost trancelike. He watched it until it was out of site. “How come you don’t have a motorboat like that, Uncle Glen?” Jacob asked. “Well honestly, I can’t afford one. I am not very good with money,” Glen said laughing as he set down the cooler by the old sink. Jacob had not even seen his uncle to go back out to the truck to get the cooler. “Dad says you whizz it away, but I don’t know what that means,” Jacob said. “Yeah well, when we were growing up, your father had it easier that I did making friends. I found my friend in a bottle. Y’understand?” Uncle Glen asked gathering up the fishing gear and heading towards the door. “Yeah,” Jacob said, but had no idea what his uncle was talking about. The canoe was so shaky it felt like if Jacob sneezed he would send the thing over and he’d have to swim back to the cabin. So he sat very still, white-knuckle gripping the sides of the aluminum canoe in order to prevent his imaginary catastrophe. His uncle paddled them upriver a bit to a spot he said he knew where there was a deep pool that the browns liked to hang out in. They would drift with the current from above it so the fish wouldn’t hear the splashing of the oars and get spooked. Even though he was terrified of the canoe tipping, Jacob wasn’t afraid of the river itself. Once again, he felt a calmness when he looked out on it. There was something familiar about the river, something comforting. It took a few minutes for him to get up the nerve to let go of one side of the canoe and reach down to the water, letting his fingers drag in the cool water. “Well, here we are,” his uncle said and slid the canoe just upstream of a fallen log to keep the watercraft in place. “You ready to catch some fish?” Jacob watched his uncle take a rod out from a tube and fit the ends together until the thing was almost as long as the canoe. He had seen rods in fishing shows before, but this one was super long and the line was brightly colored. He watched as is uncle tied a tiny little poofy thing to the end. “Here take this,” Glen said, thrusting the rod towards his nephew. Jacob reached out slowly to take the rod from his uncle, daring to rise a little from his safely seated position. As he sat back down, he felt something bump the canoe. “What was that?” he asked nervously, looking around wide-eyed. “We just brushed up against a log, nothing to worry about,” his uncle said and started to fit together another rod. “All I have are these fly-fishing rods, it’s a little harder to cast, but the browns love the flies on the end,” his uncle explained and stood up in the canoe making it shake more than Jacob would have liked. Uncle Glen gave a false cast and sent the line shooting out the end upstream. Jacob watched the graceful cast. It was easy to see the bright orange line make its way back downriver to them. His uncle cast this way three more times, explaining to Jacob how it worked, but Jacob wasn’t about to stand up in the boat now. He felt another bump on the canoe. This time he swore he felt something tapping on the bottom of the boat. “What is that?” Jacob asked, terrified. “There are all kinds of noises, kid. It could be anything, a branch, a turtle. Nothing to worry about either way,” Uncle Glen explained and sat back down in the canoe. He reached into the bag he brought with them and pulled out a beer. “If you were another year older, I would let you have one, but eleven is just too young to drink beer.” “That’s ok. I don’t want a drink,” Jacob said. “Good boy, don’t want to end up like me,” His uncle answered putting down the beer to grab his paddle. “Let’s move a little farther downstream and give it another go.” Jacob nodded and looked overboard as his uncle maneuvered them out into the current to take them downstream. Jacob. Jacob can you hear me. His young eyes widened as he heard the familiar voice. It couldn’t be. How could he hear his mother? She was dead! He looked at his uncle to see if he heard it too, but he just guided the canoe down river. Jacob. It’s your mother. Can you hear me, child? Jacob tried to swallow, but his throat went dry. The hairs on his neck stood up. This can’t be happening. “Uncle Glen, I don’t feel so good. Can we just go back to the cabin?” Jacob asked in a weak voice. “Huh? Oh, I guess we could. Didn’t know you get seasick. Our family have been sailors for generations. Must be from your mother’s side. I never met her folks. Probably grew up landlocked,” his uncle said. “Let’s break down these rods first.” Another thump on the boat, this one louder. Jacob wondered if he was losing his mind. Between the thumps and hearing his mother’s voice, he just wanted to go home. Get away from the crazy place. He looked out on the water, and no longer felt a calming sensation. He was terrified. Jacob. I need your help. You will help your mother, won’t you? He closed his eyes tight, wishing it all away. The voice, the bumps, the trip, the accident. Everything. Why was this happening to him? Why was his mother taken from him? Was that really her voice he heard? Was it all in his head? They reached the dock without further incident. They entered the cabin without another word. Jacob went over to the bed and lay on it, facing the river. He didn’t want to turn his back on it. “You want something to eat?” his uncle asked from the small table where he was sitting. “No thanks, I am not very hungry,” Jacob replied, propping his head up on his pillow to better see out the window. He wondered why he didn’t see more boats out on the river, sure it was getting dark now, but still there wasn’t much traffic out there. “Ok, maybe you will feel like eating in the morning. I’ll make pancakes. If you need anything, just let me know, I will be having a few drinks before I turn in, I think,” his uncle replied. Jacob closed his eyes for a second, then looked back towards the water. He closed them again for longer this time, trying to fall asleep and put an end to this day. One less day he had to stay here and he could go home. He wasn’t sure how long he’d slept, but when he woke it was dark out. He could hear his uncle snoring from the other side of the cabin. He sat up and looked out the window, the full moon illuminating the scene before him. He could make out the dock on the shore of the river, a ribbon of darkness flowing in the moonlight. Jacob. Jacob are you there? The voice again. How? Jacob wrapped the blanket around him. Wait. What was that? Jacob. Don’t be afraid. The hair on the back of his neck stood up again as his brain processed what his eyes were seeing. A woman was coming out of the lake, wrapped in a white dress, flowing behind her. It couldn’t be. Could it? “Mom?” Yes, my son. It’s me. Come outside. I will explain everything. Jacob looked at his uncle, passed out sitting at the table now covered with empty cans. He would sleep through the night. He slipped out of bed, keeping the blanket wrapped around him as he made it to the door. He opened the wooden door just enough so that he could slip out, sure to close it quietly behind him. He made his way through the damp grass, keeping his eyes locked on his mother on the river’s edge. He noticed a swirl of fog obscuring her legs and feet as he approached. She reached out to him, but he stopped twenty feet shy. He looked at her pale face, surrounded by her fire red hair. It didn’t look wet, even though she seemingly emerged from the river. I guess anything is possible in a dream, he thought. Jacob. Why do you hesitate. Come here my son. Her voice sang in his ears, but her lips never moved. Was this a dream? “Mom? Is it really you?” he asked. It’s me, Jake. Did you hear me earlier on the river? “Yes. Was that you thumping on the boat?” he asked her, pulling the blanket tighter around him. The night was colder than he first realized. Yes, I was trying to get your attention, son. I miss you and your father so much. I didn’t expect to be back here so soon. “Why are you here at the river? Is the river… ?” Jacob asked. No, Jake. This is where I came from. I had to return when I was done with my life with you. It is complicated. “Are you a ghost?” Her musical laughter filled his ears. My child. That is a good question. I am not sure to be honest. I have been keeping a secret from you for years. I think it is time to tell you of your heritage, my son. But first, I need to ask you a favor… Jacob woke from his uncle shaking him. “Are you okay Jacob, it’s almost nine,” his uncle asked. “Five more minutes,” Jacob grumbled rolling back over. “Okay Jake, I will get started on breakfast then,” his uncle said. “Pancakes good?” The grunt his uncle heard from the pile of blankets he took as an affirmative. Soon the smell of bacon and maple syrup assaulted Jacob’s nose. He rose from the blankets and looked out at the river, remembering what his mother told him last night. It had to have been a dream, he thought. It had seemed so real though. Jacob had to admit he was really hungry, and his mouth watered when he saw breakfast on the table. He ate so many pancakes he thought he was going to burst. He wondered if there was a more perfect food. If there was, he hadn’t had it, that was for sure. “Can we go fishing again tonight?” Jacob asked. “Sure. Didn’t think you would want to after getting seasick last night. We can go right now if you want, just let me finish the dishes,” Uncle Glen said. “No, let’s wait until tonight, it will be cooler. Teach me to cast like you did last night in the yard though. It looked fun, like a whip,” Jacob said throwing his napkin in the trash. “It’s not really like a whip at all, but I will show you. Can you check on our ice situation? Do I need to run into town?” his uncle asked. Jacob opened up the cooler. “Um, it looks like we might need some for later. What happened to all the beer that was in there?” His uncle looked in the cooler. “I guess I had a few more than I thought. A trip into town it is then. Do you want to go with me or hang out here?” “I’ll stay here, Uncle Glen,” Jacob replied. “I want to draw a little,” he said and went for his duffel bag. Inside was a sketchbook and pencils. He pulled them out and brought them to the table. “Suit yourself. I won’t be gone long,” Uncle Glen said and headed out the door. Jacob sighed as his uncle left. Could it be true? His uncle returned hours later, it was mid afternoon and he smelled of alcohol… bad. Jacob couldn’t get within ten feet of him, he reeked. “Come on boy, time to teach you to cast like a master,” his uncle said and grabbed the tubes that contained the rods they used last night. Jacob. A chill went down his spine as he stood in the yard. Was his mother really calling to him? Jacob I can’t get any closer. Are we set for tonight? Jacob nodded towards the river. He didn’t know if she could hear him or not, but the nod seemed to answer her question. Thank you, my son. See you at sunset. “You always just stare off into space, boy?” his uncle asked scratching his head. “You weren’t watching, now pay attention…” An hour later Uncle Glen was passed out on the porch and Jacob had the rest of the night to himself. He would wake uncle when it was time to fish. Jacob managed to get his uncle up just before sunset, and get him into the canoe. He even helped paddle this time. They made their way up river even faster than the night before and passed the fallen log even earlier. “Let’s try a little farther upriver,” Jacob said. “Is that okay, Uncle Glen?” “Sure boy, keep paddling, I’ll get the rods ready. Jacob continued to paddle up river, pushing against the current. The sun was beginning to drop behind the mountains, similar to last night when they were out here. “Is this a good spot?” Jacob asked. “Good as any to start,” His uncle replied and threw the little anchor overboard to keep them in the spot long enough to fish it. He handed Jacob a rod and grabbed one for himself. “Go ahead and give it a cast.” Jacob hesitated. “You go first, I want to watch you cast one more time.” He felt something against the bottom of the boat. Was that a thump? Glen cast out towards the shore where there was a bend in the river, the insects swarming just above the surface. He felt something and tried to set the hook, but lost it. He stood in the canoe making it wobble until he got himself balanced. Are you ready now Jacob? “I need a little more distance,” Uncle Glen said and cast again, this time his fly landed inches from the bank. “That’s the sweet spot, right there,” he said and began to strip in the line. Now, Jacob. Just like we talked about. Jacob picked up the tube that the rods came in, it was made of fiberglass, not very heavy, but it would have to do. He slid forward in the canoe slowly until he was near his uncle. “Uncle Glen?” “What is it boy? Don’t you know you have to be quiet when fishing?” “This is from mom,” Jacob said and swung the tube into his uncle’s gut, catching him unaware. His uncle pitched forward and the canoe began to list towards shore. “What the… did you do that for?” his uncle growled clutching his belly. Jacob answered him with another swing, this one right behind the knees, causing his uncle’s legs to buckle, he fell back and went overboard. The canoe stayed upright, just like his mother promised him it would, like it was held in place. “Help me out of the damn water!” his uncle called out grabbing the side of the canoe and shaking it. Pale arms reached up from behind Glen and snaked around him. Good job, my son. He must pay for what he did to me. He was jealous of your father and I, and when I turned him down he decided if he couldn’t have me no one would. First, he kidnapped me from the river onto dry land with my newborn fry, you. Then your father and Glen fought over me, like some kind of prize. When I died my soul went back to the river where my people live. Where your people live, Jacob. Jacob listened to the explanation from his mother as her face came up next to his uncles. A large flipper slapped the water as she dragged his uncle father from the canoe. We have avenged my death, my son. Now we must avenge our kidnapping from our people. Paddle back and call your father up here. Then we can be together again. Then I can teach you about your heritage. I can show you how to change your form, to live in the water, or on land. Jacob paddled away as he heard his uncle splashing behind him, crying out for help. He wouldn’t look back, not after what his uncle and father had done to his mother. No wonder she was so sad all the time, he thought. He put the paddle across his lap and let the current take him back to the cabin now that the waters behind him have gone silent. Soon he would be reunited with his people, under the river, just one more wrong to right… </pre>

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