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Ep.76 – The Bad Schoolgirl - Vampire Cheerleaders vs. Taibon!

Episode Notes

There's something not quite right about the Strickfield High cheerleading team... They've added violence, malice and blood to their routine!

The Bad Schoolgirl by Rob Fields

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Produced by Daniel Wilder

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I walk into the main entrance of Strickfield High School with Eileen Donnerly, or just simply Einstein. Einstein was a name her older brother, Martin, hung on her because of how unbelievably smart she is. How smart is she? Well, over that blizzard weekend, Martin and I just finished having some hot morning fucking. We stopped for some pillow talk, and he told me that Einstein once took his HDTV apart. She easily put it back together, but now he could access all of the satellite channels and streaming services for free. She even doubled the picture quality. I look at the little geek now and just want to wring her fucking neck, but of course I won’t. The problem with Einstein is that she’s always so fucking direct with me; she never sugar-coats shit. For example, I asked her why I fucking put up with her. I would’ve expected her to say because I’m sleeping with Martin. But no . . . she says it’s because she’s so cute and that I really like her. Sigh . . . I do have to admit Einny is cute. I also have to admit the little shit does grow on you. We’re walking the halls of Strickfield High, and I know I’m in hell. Just a few days ago, I had to deal with Jarren Hatley when she was on the ultimate caffeine high and tried to send Principal Matthew Van Diest on a permanent vacation. Speaking of whom, he’s standing right outside the door to the main office. And he’s eyeing both me and Einny. I’ll tell him to fuck off if he says something to me, but he doesn’t. He’s definitely checking me out, all right. Either he’s got an eye for me, or it’s the fact that I’m wearing this fucking schoolgirl outfit again: plaid miniskirt, white blouse with the sleeves torn off and tied up at my tummy, and my 80s Reebok Pump basketball shoes. I’ve been wearing this fucking outfit because if I wear any of Einny’s other clothes, I’d feel batshit claustrophobic and shred them. And I don’t really want to go shopping for new clothes. “Okay, Einny, where are these vampire cheerleaders you want me to check out?” I ask. “They usually hang out in the north hall,” Einny replies, in her mousy voice. “This way.” I let Einny lead me to said hallway. Sure enough, six cheerleaders are huddled together and yacking away. I immediately see the items of Olde Bloodstone they’re wearing as jewelry. Olde is spelled old with an e on the end. See, I’m the only vampire who can truly walk freely in the daylight. These bitches are using Olde Bloodstone to be able to walk in the daytime and not burn. Einny and I just walk right past them. Then I start hearing nearby jocks whooping and hollering. Turns out they’re doing it to me! “It’s the Bad Schoolgirl!” “You’re such a badass!” “Will you marry me?!” “How about a date, babe?!” And that . . . definitely pisses off the cheerleaders. Remember, most cheerleaders love the attention since they are at the top of the food chain in the female circuit of high schools. Now that they’ve seen me, they’re not going to be so happy. In fact, they all turn towards me and advance. The hallway gets quiet in a big fucking hurry. I’m ready to defend Einny if they decide to vamp out. “Who said you could walk our hallway, bitch?” Alissa Mirren demands. Her twin sister, Allie, grins. “This is our hallway. You need special permission to walk it. How much money you got?” The other four just look on in anticipation. I really feel the need to laugh. I’ll let you in on a little secret. Being the one unique type of vamp that I am means that I can detect other vamps, whether they’re Master or not. Now these bitches are just regular vamps, which means they think I’m completely human. Only other Master Vampires can detect me. In this case, they don’t notice my eyes are red. I give them the same sexy smile that Martin loves so much. “Oh, you two are so cute!” I raise my finger. “How about this? You two can take turns sucking my dick . . . and I’ll come and go wherever the fuck I like.” The twins just look at each other, mouths wide. They’re ready to start a full-on fight with me. I quickly raise my arm. “Now’s not the time . . .” I give them a quick nod to my right. They look to see Principal Van Diest staring attentively down this hallway. The twins each raise a hand, telling the others to back off. “We’ll let you go this one time as a courtesy,” Allie says. “Next time you come down here, you’ll be paying,” Alissa adds. I laugh as Einny and I turn and walk away. Einny asks me, “You think that was wise, Bells?” “What, pissing them off? Fuck yeah, they’ll be looking for me – exactly what I want.” I lightly slap her shoulder. “Don’t worry, I’ve got a plan.” And then I smell Principal Van Diest coming our way. I wait for him to reach us. “What can I do for you on this very fine day, sir?” I crack, not even turning around. He takes hold of my shoulder and turns me around. “Look, I know you’re new here, but we don’t need you starting trouble already.” I smile. “No trouble . . . No trouble at all. Like you said, I’m new here. Just want to get familiar with my new school.” He glares at me. “Um, I heard what you said to those girls.” “Yeah, and . . . ? You gonna take me to the office and wash my mouth out with soap?” Then I glare back and tell him to where only he and Einny can hear me, “I would love to see you try.” He’s irritated with me, but he knows he can’t really do anything. Then I show him my schedule. “Room 237 . . . is first period. Far as I’m concerned, we’re allowed to walk the halls freely to get to our classes. Maybe you should say something to the cheerleaders. Unless, that is of course, they’re in charge here?” When he doesn’t answer me, I flash my sexy smile again. “Way I see it, the students run this school. You’re just here collecting a paycheck. If you really do run things here, then fucking grow a pair.” As I turn to leave, he grabs my arm again. “Don’t you test me!” I’m still smiling my sexy smile. “That’s more like it.” I take my arm back. “Now fuck off and help make this high school a better place.” Einny and I turn away from the principal and resume heading to Room 237. The cheerleaders just glare at us as we walk right past them. I even make sure to flip the twin bees off. 

  • *                         * Throughout the day, I end up having classes with both Einny and members of the cheerleading squad. I can easily keep an eye on said people. The downside is that several horny boys are keeping their eyes on me. I hadn’t planned on being labeled the Bad Schoolgirl, but what could I do? I couldn’t just let Jarren Hatley have her way with Principal Van Diest. Oh, well . . . I don’t have to be the least bit afraid of the boys. I catch an occasional glare from whatever cheerleaders are in my classes, but I just give them right back. Thanks to my ultra-sensitive hearing, another Master Vampire quality, I can easily hear the cheerleaders talking. Tonight is a basketball game in the gym. After the game, they’re meeting the boys for their ritual. They don’t say where. Yeah, you bitches do that. You go hunt for your victims . . . and I’ll hunt all of you

That night, Einny and I are just outside the gym. Sure enough, the cheerleaders are inside and the game is going on. “What are you going to do, Bells?” Einny asks me. “Oh . . . I think I’ll head on in and watch the game,” I tell her. I can tell Einny’s a little scared. “You can go home if you want. I can handle those bitches.” Einny shakes her head quickly. “No! I got you into this. I’m going to see this through.” I turn my attention back to the gym. “Me, too. Then I can move on.” Now Einny’s gone from scared to upset. “No!” “We can talk about this later,” I say. “No!” Einny grabs my wrist and pulls me into the empty library. Then she points right at me. “You are not going to just up and leave Martin like that.” I fold my arms in front of me. “I asked you this before. I’ll ask you again. Am I just supposed to wear Martin’s college ring? Look! I only stayed because you told me there were vampires on the cheerleading squad. Okay, I confirmed they’re vampires, and I’ll deal with them. Once I do, then that’s it. I’ll give your uniforms back, get my shit, and leave Strickfield.” Einstein’s really pissed now. She shakes her head. “I said no! You are not walking out on Martin like that. He’s really into you.” She points right at me. “And not just because you’re fucking him.” I narrow my eyes on her. “What are you saying . . . ? That Martin’s in love with me? I don’t buy that. We’ve only known each other for about a week. We’re just sleeping together, Einny. That is it! And you . . . What, are we just supposed to be besties, hang out at the mall together, and do each other’s nails? I’m over a hundred fucking years old! I hunt supernatural vermin. I’m a fucking Taibon. I’m a fucking Master Vampire! A normal life will never be in my future. Why can’t you understand that?” “Stop acting all high and mighty, Bells!” Einny snaps. “And stop running away all the time!” “Who the fuck is running away?” I demand. “I don’t have any family left to run away from! I’m the last in my family tree! I’m alone in this world, and that’s the way it has to be.” I unfold my arms and raise my finger. “Has it ever occurred to you that my being in your house is potentially putting both you and Martin in terrible danger? All an enemy would have to do is know that I’m staying with you both and they’ll come at me – through you two!” I point to the gym. “Case and point. Those bitches know you’re with me. What’s to keep them from attacking your house?” Einny and I continue to argue. Some of Einny’s shit gets to be repetitive. I’ve finally had enough and walk out of the library. Einny’s right behind me. “We’re not done here, Bells!” “You’re risking bodily harm, Einstein!” I tell her when she grabs my wrist again. “You are not going to just up and leave Martin like that!” Einny hisses. I don’t turn to her. “I really don’t have time for this shit right now! We’ll talk about it when we’re done with what I’m here for.” I look inside the gym. “Fuck! The game’s over! The cheerleaders are gone!” I turn to Einny. “I could’ve been keeping an eye on those bitches. But, no! You had to get all fucking emotional on me!” I turn to her. “Why don’t you just go on home?! I’m gonna have to track them down now – before they hurt innocents. You’re just slowing me down here!” I march right into the gym to start tracking the vampire bitches. Unfortunately, I can hear Einny crying behind me. I can’t worry about that right now. But then I suddenly stop dead in my tracks. God damn it!! Thornton Jillian never had any fucking feelings when he was a Master Vampire. You’d think that when his blood mixed with mine, I’d have no feelings, either. True, I’m a Master Vampire, but I’m my own breed. I still have my humanity, which means . . . I still have feelings. And now . . . I feel like a complete piece of shit for hurting Einny’s feelings. I turn around and walk back to her. “Okay, come on.” She doesn’t move. I have to make this right. “Okay, I admit it. I’m a fucking hardcore cunt. You should know by now that I don’t have a filter. I say what I feel. I’m just telling you the honest truth here.” This is the hardest thing for me to say. “I’m sorry, okay? I know I was harsh, but I just wanted you to understand. I can’t be with anybody on a full-time basis. I just can’t.” Einny gets her shit together. “Martin’s been taking good care of me ever since our parents died. He’s been working at Mirren Automotive during the week, and Friday nights and weekends at Denoyer’s Grill just to keep a roof over our heads and the bills paid. All while taking classes at Strickfield University. He’s all I have. I just want the best for him. I know he’s really into you. My brother’s been with other girls, but he’s never looked at them the way he looks at you, Bells. I’m begging you! Please don’t hurt him!” I put a hand on Einny’s shoulder. “Martin and I will talk about things and go from there, but I make no promises.” She nods. “Okay.” “Okay. Now come on. Let’s go find those cheerleaders.” We turn and head to the girls’ locker room. As I suspected, they’re not in the showers. I’ve been around them long enough to get their scents. When we go outside, I see their footprints in the snow . . . until they just stop dead. “They flew away, Einny,” I tell her. “They turned into bats and flew off. I can’t go after them since I can’t change form.” “You’re a vampire and you can’t change form?” Einny shrieks. “If I can, I’ve never figured out how to do it. I’ll have to leap in order to go after them. If you’re coming, then you’re gonna have to hang on tight.” I grab Einny and leap high into the night sky. I still have their scents in the air. I manage to go a full three miles before I have to land and take another leap. Glad Einny remembered to wear her jacket. The scent is getting stronger as I land near a forest. Then I look and see some cars. I recognize a few of them and know they belong to some of the jocks. Stupid, stupid boys! They probably met up with cheerleaders thinking they’re gonna get laid. Yeah, they’ll fucking get laid all right! “It’s gonna get dangerous inside these woods, Einny,” I whisper. “You need to stick close to me. When I tell you, you run and hide.” “Got it, Bells,” she whispers back. I take Einny’s hand and lead her into the woods. The bitches aren’t that far away now. Their scent is very strong. Thanks to my vampire vision, I can easily see in the dark as if it’s still the light of day. We walk a little bit until we move behind a big redwood. There are four guys there with the cheerleaders. They’re all around a campfire. It looks as if two of them are flat on their backs, while the other two are in a trance. I know I could’ve saved them if I’d acted sooner. But . . . I have feelings. I guess it’s no wonder why other vampires I’ve taken down tell me that having feelings is my biggest weakness. Fuck them! I lean over to Einny and whisper in her ear. “Stay here!” I see her nod before I let go of her hand. I take off my shoes and hand them to her. Then I move and leap over to the other side of the fire. Everybody hears me land. When I reveal myself, everybody else that can look at me does. The twin Mirren bees point right at me. “You shouldn’t have come here!” Allie hisses. “Six of us to one of you!” Alissa notes. “You really came out here – alone?” one of the other cheerleaders asks in surprise. I put my hand to my chin. “Hmm, six of you to one of me . . .” I lower my hand and look at them. “Yeah, you’re right. Those are definitely bad odds. Yours . . .” Then I vamp out, changing my face and readying my claws. Then the bitches . . . scream?! What the fuck?! The bitches are actually scared of me?! I guess so, because they all turn tail and run. The two guys that are still tranced just stand there. I check on the two guys that are down. Einny approaches me. I’m ready to tell her she should’ve stayed put, but I know she’s concerned. “Are they dead, Bells?” I feel for pulses. “No, thankfully.” And then I finally understand. “I know why those bitches are wearing the Olde Bloodstone. Einny, what made you think they were vampires?” “I saw them smile and show fangs – like yours,” she tells me. “Alissa also showed me her claws. But . . . but they have to be vampires. They turned into bats, right?” “Yeah, they did. But they freaked out when they saw me, Einny. They can’t possibly know that I’m a Master Vampire.” “You mentioned Olde Bloodstone, Bells.” “Right, and here’s what I determined. If they were true vampires, they could use Olde Bloodstone to be able to walk in the daylight. However, they would have to keep their stones charged by drinking twice as much innocent blood. And by innocent, I mean virgin blood. I’ve been listening around school. I haven’t heard a single story about any bodies being drained of blood – or of that many people disappearing. So we get to the only other possibility. Those bitches are practicing witchcraft and are using the Olde Bloodstone to turn themselves into vampires. Yes, they can walk by daylight, which means their transformations aren’t complete. They have to charge their stones with soul energy in order to maintain their powers and continue their transformations. What they don’t realize is once their transformations are complete, they would need virgin blood to charge their stones to be able to walk during the daylight. I think you and I both know that pure virgin blood is very hard to come by in this day and age.” I point to the guys. “You keep an eye on them. I’m going after those fucking bitches.” They didn’t turn into bats this time. I can easily find the six girls, thanks to both their scents and their footprints. Seriously, I’ve heard over the years that cheerleaders can be such fucking airheads, but this is too much! I easily find two of them together. They’re both holding each other. Their faces are half-vamped. Suddenly, they scream and try to come at me. Classic rookie mistake! I snatch the both of them up and toss them over my shoulders. They both hit the snowy ground and groan. I’m on both of them before they realize it. They scream as I reach my claws out for them . . . and relieve them of their Olde Bloodstone jewelry to make them human again. I hold one girl to me as I glam the other and get information. When I get what I want, I glam the other. Unlike normal vampires who can only glam as a means of hypnosis, I can both bend people to my will and actually look into their memories, whether they remember or not. I come to find that these bitches have indeed killed people by taking their souls to charge their Olde Bloodstone jewelry. I could easily kill these two, but I’m not a butcher. No, I have a much more suitable punishment for them. I peer so deep into their psyches and corrupt them that they ultimately end up going insane. I let the girls go and pursue the others. Two more scream as they come out of their hiding places and attack me. I easily swat them away like flies. They truly have no idea of how fast a full vampire can move, even moreso for a Master. I’m on both of them before they can even get up. “So tell me . . . was this thing with using Olde Bloodstone to turn yourselves into vampires your idea?” I ask, knowing full well that it’s not. “We just wanted to live forever,” one of them says. “We just wanted to be important,” the other says. “You don’t know what it’s like to be invisible to people.” I’m not sure whether they can see me smile or not, but I find what they say funny. “Actually, yes, I do know what it means to be invisible to people. The only difference between you two and me is that I choose to be invisible. But you two . . . such stupid girls, you took lives for selfish reasons. Well, now you’ll have all the attention you two could ever want. I’ll see to that personally.” I take their Olde Bloodstone and make them insane also. That just leaves the little twin Mirren bees. Like the others, they’ve made the mistake of screaming before attacking me. These two are fully vamped out and want to give me a fight. Looks like these twin girls are the strongest out of what was their squad. They’ve probably siphoned more soul energy compared to the others. Well, they are Mirrens. All they care about is money and power. But being a Mirren means so very little to a Taibon. While Alissa and Allie are close enough to being full vampires, they’re finding out that there are bigger predators out here than them. They try to fight me with just basic street fighting. I’m a master of many different martial arts. To finish them off, I thrust my foot into one twin’s gut so hard that I can hear her spine crackle hard in many places. Then she falls onto her back. As for the other twin, I quickly bring my other foot up over my shoulder and connect with her neck. The slight crack tells me that I’ve damaged her spine also. She falls immediately. After relieving the twins of their stones, they become fully human once more. Only now, the two of them are paralyzed for life. I could drive them insane, but I feel I’ve done enough. No, I won’t let them die out here. I bring the former cheerleaders back to the campfire where Einny is. I know she has a smartphone, so I tell her to call 911 and ask for some ambulances. I still feel soul energy inside these stones, so I recite the spell to release the energy and send it back to the rightful owners. The two guys that were flat on their backs begin to move again. I make sure they’re okay before I glam them and make them forget about me. “You’d better get out of here, Bells,” Einny tells me. “I can see the flashers coming over there. I’ll get this.” I see where Einny’s pointing. “Good idea. You gonna be okay if I leave you here?” Einny grabs my wrist one more time. “Please don’t leave Strickfield! Don’t leave Martin!” “I’ll be at the house when you get home, Einny. I promise. Also, I promised you that I’d talk to Martin. I’ll be waiting for you.” When Einny lets go, I leap into the air and am long gone before the police and ambulances get there. I have no doubt that Einstein will take care of everything. 

Well, I won’t go into every little detail about all the sappy shit. It’s two weeks later, and it’s Friday at Strickfield High School. I look at my nails that Einny polished for me. God damn you, Einny . . . As you can tell, I did keep my word to Einny and remained at the house. Martin was already home when I got there. He looked tired from his classes. Still, he had enough energy to come and take me in his arms. As much as I wanted to tell Martin that we were done and that I wanted to leave Strickfield, I realized I just couldn’t do that to him – not like that. Again, part of me wished that I’d lost my emotions when I became a Master Vampire. But I love – and need – to feel, which is something very few vamps can do. Martin and I made love for the first time that night; normally, we just fuck. As for Einny, I think she pretty much knew that I was sticking around. The next morning, still two weeks ago, Martin had to go to work and then classes. He would be gone all day. It was just Einny and me, and we went to school. Wouldn’t you know it? Both of us were called into the principal’s office. Turned out that the talk of the school was that the cheerleading squad was permanently gone. It was in the Strickfield newspaper that something had happened to them in the woods near the south end of the village limits. Four of them were committed to a facility called Glennview, which was near North Ridgeway. As for the twins, they ended up in a special hospital over in Shore City where they would be cared for for the rest of their lives. It didn’t surprise me that their parents didn’t want to care for them themselves. Fucking rich misers . . . Anyway, getting back to Principal Van Diest, he had both Einny and me in front of him. He pointed right at us. “I don’t know what happened with the cheerleaders, but I know . . . I know that you two had something to do with it.” I roll my eyes. “Can you even prove any of this shit? If not, go fuck yourself and let us go back to class.” “Oh, you’re both going back to class, all right!” He stood up and put his palms on his desk. He had this weird smirk on his face. “I want you two go and see Miss Temple in her office. Now! I believe you know the way, Eileen. You can take our new student here to meet her.” When Eileen got up, I was a bit reluctant. I wanted to see what else this shitheel had to say. When he told me to get going, I got up. Before we left, I made sure he saw me give him the finger and flick my tongue. Einny took us to the gym and to Miss Temple’s office there. Turned out she taught a few of the gym classes, a few of the English classes, and was also the cheerleading coach. She looked really fucking happy to see us. There were four other girls there, too. I won’t go into details on them, but just seeing the six of us . . . We had to be the strangest mix there. Miss Temple couldn’t wait to tell the six of us that we were all the new fucking cheerleading squad! “Bullshit!” I quickly told her and stepped back. “You can fucking kiss my ass!” Believe it or not, Miss Temple wasn’t even upset with me. She just simply said, “Language . . .” Then she explained that Principal Van Deist had personally hand-picked the six of us to be the new cheerleaders of Strickfield High. I still told Miss Temple to go fuck herself. Then I about lost my fucking shit when I saw that Einny and the others gladly accept their uniform and shoes. As much as I protested, Einny looked so happy to have been given such an opportunity. I would’ve also told Einny to go get fucked, but we’ve had time to bond over the last several days. So . . . not only am I possibly developing feelings for Martin, I’ve gotten used to having Einny around. I think I’ve said this before, but she fucking grows on you. As soon as we were back out in the hallway, I grabbed Einny’s shoulders. “I am so gonna fucking kill you!” “No, you won’t,” she said quickly. “I’m your best friend.” Again, always so fucking direct. Getting back to now, I’m wearing a fucking cheerleading uniform. It’ll be another game night as a full-fledged cheerleader. Oh, and now I’m known as both the Bad Schoolgirl and the Bad Cheerleader. Einny told me she had a reason for the two of us joining the squad, and it wasn’t for us to show off our tits and asses in front of the crowds at the basketball games. Einny explained that a lot of shit goes on here in Strickfield. She promised me there would be more than enough work to keep me here for a very long time. In other words, we’d be keeping our eyes and ears open for shit to investigate. Over time, I would learn other interesting things about the other four cheerleaders. So I sigh to myself and realize I’ve gotten too close to the Donnerlys . . . and the great food at Denoyer’s Grill. Looks like I’m stuck in this fucking village indefinitely. Seriously, why couldn’t I have lost my feelings when Thornton Jillian’s blood mixed with mine over a hundred years ago . . . ? 

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Ep.75 – My Dog, Doug - What Lurks Behind That Cute Face?

Episode Notes

New house, new dog, but what evils could lurk inside of both?!

My Dog, Doug by David O'Hanlon

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“Daddy, I want this puppy,” Abby’s tiny voice replayed in Barry’s head as he wiped the dog shit off of his barefoot. Lindsey found the Armant on Craigslist. Normally, they were extremely hard to find outside of their native Egypt, not to mention expensive. Smart, protective, and loyal—they were the perfect breed for just about any family. He wasn’t a very large dog, less than two feet at his scraggly shoulders, nor did he look like he ate a lot. Plus he was free, which sealed the deal. The lady had told them that Doug needed more attention than she could provide, which wouldn’t be an issue with Abby. Why anyone would name a dog Doug, however, was beyond Barry’s understanding. Still, Abby and Lindsey thought it was adorable. So, Doug the Dog joined the family with an excited wag of his curly tail and a more excited screech from Abby.

The Warner’s had just bought a new home. It was much larger than they needed, but the location was isolated and it had been priced to sell. That was always a plus for the frugal Barry Warner. The fourth bedroom was an extra, so Barry had made it into a playroom for his daughter—who promptly rechristened it the set of the Abby and Doug Tea Time Review. Every afternoon, they sat at the pretty, pink picnic table in front of a live studio audience of stuffed animals while Abby talked about the cartoons that her and Doug had been watching. Doug’s role consisted of sitting on the bench and fighting the urge to lick his own ass. Barry credited the dog for being such a good sport. Every once in a while, the dog would even offer a yip of agreement to Abby’s seven-year-old opinions on the geopolitical climate of Oz and other fantasy worlds. They had been in the house a week when the noises started—scratching in the walls that immediately sent Barry’s horror writer brain into action. You can’t write scary stories without believing, on some base level, that it could actually happen. Barry was a practical man, so he immediately got out his EVP recorder and began to scan the house. Obviously, there was something strange going on. He didn’t pick up anything out of the ordinary, though. Lindsey told him it was probably nothing. By the second week, they began to find things out of place or just missing altogether. Still, Lindsey insisted that they were simply being forgetful or Abby was moving them in an attempt to be funny. Who wouldn’t find disappearing house keys humorous, after all? And the attic door opening on its own? Well that was just a real gasser. Lindsey swore it was a breeze blowing in from some bad seal or something, but Barry had written this novel twice and knew the skeptic was always wrong. The strangeness continued over the next three weeks and Barry was thoroughly convinced that there was a ghost in their new home. It seemed Doug thought so, as well. Barry had been woken up at three one morning by a low, long, growl emanating from the playroom. Barry crept down the hall armed with a less-than-intimidating participation trophy from a Halloween writing contest. He found Doug standing on the picnic table, ears pricked up, and teeth bared. He was staring at the ceiling growling continuously. “Doug,” Barry whispered. The dog didn’t respond. More growling at the ceiling, but nothing else. Barry stepped further into the room and said the dog’s name again. He noticed the time on the Disney clock. It’s just a coincidence, he tried to convince himself. It’s definitely not a demon. Still, he cocked back the little trophy unsure if he would be better striking with the faux-marble base or the bedazzled jack-o-lantern topper. Barry reached for a play broom propped up on the Little Tykes kitchen and bumped the spot on the ceiling Doug appeared to be staring at. Barry jumped as things in the ceiling ran in different directions to get away from his thumping. In the dead of night, the tiny claws scratching the crawlspace echoed around him. Barry patted the dog with a sweaty palm and went back to bed, but not to sleep. That would take a while. It’s definitely not a demon, Barry. He reassured himself. Shit. Please don’t be a demon. Once the sun came up and some Lucky Charms went down, he was ready to do some investigating. “Doug, find the rats.” He pointed at the ceiling with a thumb. Doug, climbed into the chair next to him and waited for his cereal. Barry looked down at his bowl, spooned out the last couple of marshmallows and slid the soggy leftovers to the dog. “Don’t get used to it. I’m only doing it because you’re my canary today.” Once Doug was done eating, Barry grabbed a box of Milk Bones and headed for the basement door. Doug whimpered and looked towards the ceiling. He ran upstairs and Barry followed after him. Maybe the rats are isolated upstairs. Or maybe the ghosts live in the basement. He wasn’t sure which idea he would prefer. The spry young dog made it up the stairs long before he did and he watched as Doug ran over to Abby in the playroom and gave her sloppy kisses. Abby gave him a hug and told him she loved him, after which the dog trotted back to the door, looked up at Barry, and gave a sharp bark before embarking back down the stairs. He wanted to kiss his human goodbye before we face certain death. Barry wiped a manly tear from his cheek. The basement stairs creaked as Doug and Barry inched down them. The dog was alert, Barry was spooked. His bladder quivered with each groaning step. The basement was well lit and spacious, the exact opposite of what every horror movie, ever, had prepared him for. He waved his EVP recorder around the room. Nothing. Doug stopped suddenly and began sniffing the air. He cocked his head sideways and then walked cautiously to the old work bench on the far side of the basement. Barry watched as Doug worked his head underneath the bench and came back over. Doug dropped the dead rat at Barry’s feet. Its head and one of its legs were missing, but it was most definitely a rat. “Damn it, Doug.” Barry kicked the rat. “Lindsey was right. I’ll never hear the end of this. We better find the rest of them.” He was sure there had to be more of them after the noise they made the night before. He inspected the baseboards for any holes they could be using to get around. It occurred to him, that he didn’t actually know what a rat’s hole looked like. He doubted that it would be the neat little archway of the cartoons. He heard the scratching again. An unseen rat ran overhead. Then another. Then a small group. A frantic burst of barking sent him into the air and knocked ten years off of his life. Doug was going ballistic. The Armant snapped at the air, snarling and barking, as he bounced around. The scratching in the ceiling grew louder and spread across a wider area than before. There were a lot of rats up there and they were all moving at once—moving towards him. The antique, asbestos ceiling tiles broke under their weight and dozens of rats poured from the ceiling. They swarmed around Barry’s ankles and crawled across his feet. He went Michael Flatley on their asses and started stomping out a jig in an attempt to kill the vermin before they could escape. He slipped on one’s rupturing carcass and almost fell into the sea of rodents. Doug ran the direction the rats had come from, hitting the wall full force. The rodents scurried away from Barry in too many directions for him to keep track of, but the dog was focused solely on the wall. Barry screamed shrilly and slapped the beasts away as he struggled upright. He shook and checked to make sure none were clinging to him before joining Doug by the wall. He beat his fist against it to see if there were any more rats hiding. But there was no scratching or fleeing this time. No, there were no sounds of frightened rats. This time, something knocked back. Barry and Doug exchanged concerned glances and then both ran for the stairs.

Barry went to the basement later in the day to clean up his kills before they started stinking. He rushed to dispose of them before Lindsey got home from work—partially to spare her from the gruesome bag of squished rats, but mostly to avoid admitting he was wrong. Unfortunately, she pulled in right as he dumped them in the big green can. Apparently, ghosts weren’t as scary as rats. As soon as Barry recounted the day’s adventure, she ran to their room and packed a suitcase for her and Abby. Barry and Doug would be left to handle the raging rodent problem. He tried to tell her about the strange knocking and how he thought that was a sure sign of a ghost. “It’s a sure sign of a big damn rat, Barry!” She shoved the clothes into the bag haphazardly. And that was the end of the discussion. If your wife says the house isn’t haunted, then the damn house isn’t haunted. That’s the way it works. Barry sighed in defeat and helped her pack. They left that night to stay with family in Rogers, away from rabies-infected vermin. Barry sat on the couch and opened a can of Arkansas Red. He turned on the EVP recorder just to be sure as he opened his laptop. “Tomorrow we have to find an exterminator, Doug. Tonight though, tonight we are kings!” The 69 Eyes began playing through the laptop speakers while Barry ordered a pizza. “Would you like breadsticks or cheesy bread?” Doug cocked his head and groaned. “Right, stupid question.” Six sticks of cheesy bread and one slice of Meat Cravers later, the dog was lying on its back half asleep and gassy as hell. Barry was trying to enjoy a Hammer films marathon, but the scariest thing in the room was the dog’s farting. The next morning, Barry stepped into the pile of dog poo by the front door. The squishy warmth between his toes, reminded him of his horrible decision-making the night before and he made a mental note not to feed the damn thing pizza ever again. He cleaned up the mess and started looking for an exterminator. Every job can be done three ways. Fast, correct, and cheap… but you can only get two at a time. He checked the Google reviews and found one that said “Cheap, same day service.” Yahtzee. We have a winner. He dialed the number while munching on a piece of the leftover pizza. He had time to kill, so he decided to get some writing done and sat down at his desk. He was halfway into his second paragraph when Doug nudged his leg. The dog held the TV remote from the playroom in his mouth. “Abby’s not home, you don’t have to watch cartoons today.” Doug whined in response. “What? You want to watch cartoons?” Doug’s tail wagged viciously. “Right. Of course you do. Come on, then.” Barry went into the playroom and turned on the TV and started whatever movie was in the DVD player. Doug hopped into one of the miniature papasan chairs and waited for the show to start. Barry sighed and retreated to the office where he managed an entire page before Doug was whimpering next to him again. “Not now, Doug.” He gave the dog a gentle push with his foot. The doggie door was unlocked so the dog could let himself outside and there was a bowl full of food. He wanted for nothing. Doug gave a small bark, spun in a circle, and ran to the office door. Barry grunted and turned back to the computer screen. He started rolling sideways slowly. Barry wasn’t sure how to process the sight of the small dog dragging the office chair. Barry got up and Doug ran out of the room. Barry followed him and found him sitting on the bench of the pink picnic table. Doug looked at Barry, then the TV, then Barry again. “Really? You want me to watch cartoons with you?” A single bark and some frantic tail wagging answered the question. “Can you understand me?” Another single bark. “You’re shitting me, right?” Two barks. Barry twisted his mustache around his finger, looked at Doug for a long minute, and then decided that this was the official limit for crazy in one week. “I’m going back to work now and I’m going to pretend this conversation never happened.” He had just sat down when the banging on the door made him jump back out of it. All he wanted to do was finish one damn chapter, but that clearly wasn’t going to happen. He looked out of the window and saw a PT Cruiser painted to look like a rat in his driveway. It even had a tail bolted onto the hatch. “Cheap and tasteful, I see.” Barry stomped down stairs and opened the door. The man in the brown coveralls was some horrific hybrid of John Goodman and an outhouse. He spat a glob of tobacco into Lindsey’s potted fern, narrowly missing Barry’s zombie garden gnomes. Barry squinted at the name stitched over the man’s breast in bright yellow. Looking back at the man, Barry was certain it was neither a typo nor a nickname—the exterminator’s birth certificate definitely said ‘Ham’ as well. “What’s bugging you?” he asked with a brown-toothed grin. “Get it? Bugging you.” “You’re a rodent exterminator, so no. Not at all, in fact.” Barry stared blankly at the neanderthal. “Well… rats.” Ham fake laughed at his own pun. “Not even a chuckle, huh? Damn. I worked hard on that setup too. Look, I get paid twelve shitty bucks an hour to crawl my big ass around in spaces sized for midget turds while handling chemicals that’ll probably have me growing tumors in my eyeballs. I suck at this people greeting stuff, but I’m mighty good at waffle-stomping cute and cuddly rodents. So, what do you want me to kill?” “Now we’re getting somewhere.” Barry smiled. “Rats, lots and lots of rats. They’re in the walls and ceilings. About forty of them fell through in the basement, but we’ve heard them upstairs too.” “Awesome. Rats are easy.”  Ham slapped Barry’s shoulder. “I’ll start by putting bait stations and—” Barry cut him off. “Do you know how to write a novel?” The exterminator thought about it. “Don’t reckon I do.” “Do you want to learn?” Ham gave an honest shrug. “Not particularly.” “Well, I don’t want to learn how to kill rats. I do, however, want to write a novel. So, you kill the rats, I’ll write the book, and when you’re done I’ll write you a check for an hour longer than you actually worked, so you can go grab a beer or something.” “Hell, that sounds like a mighty good deal.” Ham rubbed his double set of chins thoughtfully. “You know, my boss makes me use this really shitty poison. It only kills the weak ones, that way you think you’re getting your money’s worth, but still have to call us out for a second visit. But if you were to make it two extra hours, and pay that bit in cash, I’d go ahead and use the good stuff now.” “You have a deal, good sir. Now go make things dead, please.” Barry went back to his office and found Doug sitting in the rolling chair with a can of beer in his mouth. He let the slobbery can roll across the desk when Barry walked in and then picked up his ball from the seat of the chair. “You’re trying to bribe me into playing ball?” A single bark. “No, Doug. We’re not playing ball. Go watch cartoons and lick yourself. I would if I could, but I keep falling off the damn couch. Revel in my envy of your flexibility and let me get some work done. Please?” Two barks. Barry grabbed Doug’s collar and tugged until he got out of the chair. He picked up the beer, flopped down in the seat, and thumped the top a couple of times before opening it. “This is a really cool trick, though. Tell you what, when I finish this chapter we’ll play a little catch.” Doug skulked out of the room without a sound and returned to the playroom. Barry continued working on his chapter. The hero had just found the zombie whorehouse and he needed to keep the image alive—well, undead—while he completed the scene. He heard a crash down the hall and let his head fall on the desk. The solid mahogany hit back and he immediately regretted the decision. If Doug was tearing things up, he was going to get dropped in a wok before the night was through. In the playroom, he found the dog. Only Doug, didn’t look quite like Doug. The tan and black fur ball rolled around on the floor whimpering. Barry felt the sudden tinge of guilt. The previous owner said the dog was needy, but he never thought it would drop dead from lack of attention. Doug’s collar snapped off as his neck bulged and pulsated and then he went suddenly still. Barry stepped closer to check on him. Doug’s front leg reached out from his body and Barry stopped in his tracks. The toes had extended into nubby little fingers. He looked over the dog’s body and realized that wasn’t the only change. He looked stockier. And his hind legs looked… wrong. Slowly, the dog got up and stood on his back feet—his only feet. The bipedal Doug looked at Barry and then lifted a tea cup from the picnic table. He took a sip of the make-believe beverage with his brand-new pinky in the air. “Oh shit.” Barry eased the door closed and backed out into the hallway. The door knob turned and Doug stood there for a long moment. He raised his furry doggy hand and wiggled his fingers. Barry ran for the stairs, taking them two at a time. That is until he missed a step and took the last six at once. He met the hardwood floor with a thud. He tilted his head back and saw Doug bouncing down the stairs as best as his restructured legs would allow. Barry got up, felt the pops and aches from the fall, and limped to the kitchen. He threw open the basement door to get the exterminator, but stopped on the steps. Doug ran into his back and they teetered for a moment. Both of them stood there, staring down into the basement. Ham was nowhere to be seen… and neither was the floor. Instead there was just a tide of writhing black fur as thousands of rats tried to move around one another. Doug and Barry exchanged looks, decided that the basement was officially off limits and promptly headed back into the kitchen. Doug shut the door, which was somehow more disturbing than the rat orgy in the basement. Barry huffed with his hands on his knees. Doug stepped forward, standing eye-to-eye with the author. Barry gave the dog a quick kick in the balls and bolted away while he yelped behind him. Barry hobbled back upstairs with Doug the dog-boy in pursuit. He screamed for the exterminator, but got no response. Doug growled behind him and Barry ducked into his bedroom, slamming the door. Doug tried the knob, but it wouldn’t turn. “Ha! You can’t pick locks can you, Doug?” Barry yelled through the door. He leaned against the door and tried to process everything. An excited panting echoed his own heaving breathes. It was then, that he remembered the bathroom that connected their room to Abby’s. “Oh, you got to be kidding me.” He turned around in time to see Doug launch himself through the air. The door shattered into splinters as the dog collided with him. Barry laid in the hall, sucking air with a Doug sitting on his chest. Barry swatted the dog off him and tried to get up only to feel Doug’s teeth latch onto his ankle. Barry swung his leg like an extra in a ninja flick and bounced Doug off the drywall. Doug, the malevolent size of a toddler, threw a punch straight into Barry’s groin. The author collapsed and hit the dog with a piece of the broken door. They both groaned on the plush carpet, trying to catch their breath. Whatever was about to happen, however, was interrupted by the attic door swinging down. The oversized exterminator did a funny little roll down the narrow steps and face-planted. Ham scrambled to his feet, jumped over Doug and Barry, and ran away with a final scream of “Brownies!” He moved quickly for a man his size—too quickly as he hit the stairs faster than he meant and went toppling down. Doug and Barry got up and walked to the top of the stair case. At the bottom, the exterminator was still in the wreckage of a curio cabinet. His neck was bent at an unnatural angle and with a halo of broken action figures around his leaking skull. “I didn’t think anything else would surprise me today, but here we are.” Barry twisted his mustache. “My insurance is going to go through the roof.” Doug gave a bark of agreement. “What do you think he meant when he said—” “Knock, knock,” a raspy voice said behind them. Doug and his human turned around hesitantly. Twelve tiny men, about a foot tall, with sharp teeth, and clothes made from rat hides were standing with spears and swords made of broken glass. “Brownies.” Barry sighed. “I guess that means Lindsey was right. It’s not ghosts.” Doug barked once. “Well Doug, what do you say?” Barry looked down at Doug. The shape-shifting pooch laced his furry fingers together and popped his knuckles. Barry rolled his shoulders. “Let’s kick some brownie ass.” One bark.

As it turned out, cleaning dog crap wasn’t nearly as much work as getting brownie stains out of the cream-colored carpet. The ambulance had taken away the exterminator’s body and his boss promised a ten percent discount on any future service for the inconvenience of his worker dying in Barry’s home. Barry negotiated it up to fifteen. Lindsey and Abby would stay the weekend at her parent’s house while the poison worked on the rats. Which meant there was only one thing left for Barry to do. The sauce sizzled as Barry tossed the meat and vegetables in the wok. The damn dog had done a number on him and he had taped ice packs onto the various bruises. An imported bottle of Irish whiskey and fistful of ibuprofen were helping with any remaining pain. He spooned the stir fry over the noodles, grabbed a beer from the fridge, and went to the living room. He pushed play and Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter started up on the big screen. Doug took the beer from Barry and cracked the top open. His mouth wasn’t designed for cans, so he poured it into a bowl on the coffee table and lapped it up. Barry took a bite of his stir fry and offered the plate to Doug who gave a low growl. “Oh, don’t be like that. You haven’t even tried it. It’s actually pretty good. And we have to do something about the rats, so eat up. Tomorrow we’ll try smoking some.” Doug took a tentative bite of the rat chow mein and proceeded to pig out once it met his discerning approval. “I hope you know, you’re going back to doggy Doug when the girls get home.” Doug let out a quick bark of agreement before holding the plate out for seconds. “You’ve got hands now, go get your own.” Barry put his feet up on the table and sipped his whiskey. Doug was certainly a handful, but it wasn’t all bad. The shape-shifter would make a great assistant and he liked all the classic horror films—he even gave Galaxy of Terror two freaky thumbs up. Having a dog-monster might actually be pretty awesome. Time would tell. Barry would work on the new book tomorrow. Tonight, him and Doug were kings again. The End

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Ep.74 – Old Jerry - The Trickster Becomes the Treat!

Episode Notes

Kids think they have a monopoly on Mischief, but tonight Old Jerry may just be the king of Tricks and Treats!

Old Jerry by RT Raynaud

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Great. Another broken blade. Goddamn Sawzall. This Japanese piece of shit just isn’t built for hard work. Or is it Chinese? I dunno. It’s one of those Oriental countries. I mean, if you’re using it in an air-conditioned, perfectly ventilated workshop a month after you bought it, and all you’re cutting is 5/8” plywood, it’ll work great. But, I swear, the moment you take it outside… or it gets dirty… or what you’re cutting is a little messy… you spend more time on saw repair than you do actually sawing. Hmmph… maybe I’m being too hard on it? I’m pretty sure that bone isn’t something the saw was designed to cut. … No, fuck that. This thing is designed to cut through aluminum. Bone shouldn’t be a problem. I should’ve just paid the little extra for an American made one. Fucker, fine. There. New blade. You happy, saw? Can we please finish this before sunrise? I still have a hole to dig. Relax, Jerry. Breathe. Just a little bit more work and you’ll never have to see this kid’s smug little fucking face again. At least he’ll never egg your house again on Halloween. I bet this was the little shit who’s been doing it every year. Without fail, each November 1 is spent cleaning rotting egg off of my stucco. Or toilet paper out of my tree. Or a smashed pumpkin off of my porch. I have been vowing for years to catch the fuckface who kept doing it. And I did, didn’t I, you little bastard? You thought that you could get away with it again this year, huh? You thought, “well, I’m just going to pick on Old Jerry. Just minding his own business.” You didn’t count on the fact that I was watching this year. That I saw you in your little Devil costume throw that egg, with your friends Dracula, Zombie, and Skeleton cheering you on. That I would recognize your stupid little costume when you walked up to my door alone asking for candy. Kind of a bonehead move when you think about it. Everyone knows that, when you’re “Trick-or-treat”-ing, you walk up to the door, knock, ask for candy, get candy, and go onto the next house. It’s called “Trick-Or-Treat”-ing” for a reason, you know. It’s in the disjunctive: you do one OR the other, not both. That would be “Trick-And-Treat”-ing, moron. Even if it wasn’t just plain illogical, if you’re going to do both, you should do the trick after you’ve already gotten the candy. Duh. And you’re NEVER supposed to go into the person’s house. Particularly when you don’t know them. Particularly if you’ve already egged the house because you’re a cocksucking, asshole kid with no sense of decency. Particularly when you’ve been fucking with Old Jerry for years already. You weren’t the sharpest crayon in the box, were you chief? OHHHH! Shit! See? That’s exactly what I’m talking about. You’d think that a saw could cut through some viscera without getting all jammed up. But noooooo. Ugh. Blood’s all over the place now. Fuck… it’s in my goddamn eye. Hold on, this shit stings. Even in death, you’re giving me crap. Alright.  . I need a new saw. When this is all over, I’m gonna dump this fucker in the hole with you, bud. You know, I honestly wasn’t expecting the “welcome to my haunted house” line to work. Most kids probably would have politely declined; it was the obvious play. Admittedly, I hadn’t expected you to have the balls to actually walk up to my house. I didn’t have the time to think of a really creative way to lure you in. I was in the middle of cursing myself for my unpreparedness when you said “thanks, mister” and waltzed through my front door like you owned the fucking place. You fell for my ruse hook, line, and sinker; complete with stupid smile across your chubby idiot face. I had such a hard time restraining my joy as I marched you through the house towards the kitchen. I probably could’ve done without that snide comment you made about how my home looked “more like a haunted crackhouse”. Yeah, I get it. I live by myself and I wasn’t expecting guests. It’s as clean as I mind it, but it probably couldn’t hurt to dust and mop more regularly. Now that I’m reflecting on it, the condition of my house probably helped sell the half-baked scheme in the first place. But, who the fuck are you anyway? You’re just some idiot kid. What the hell do you know about interior decoration? You probably have a fucking video game poster on the wall in your room. Ugh… classless fucking asshole. And the comment about the insects on the dishes in the kitchen sink? Apparently, you’re too good to eat bugs. I mean, it’s food that walks right up to you! You’ll eat whatever the hell “nougat” is; but if it has a thorax, all of a sudden, it’s too gross for you. Bourgeois bitch. I swear some people have no vision. But, you know what I regret? I regret not having a video camera set up to capture your face when you turned to me and said, “this is a pretty lame haunted house”. You were expecting to see me disappointed at the bad review. I could see it in your eyes; in your shit-eating grin. You wanted to ruin my night; to inflict psychic torment on who you thought was a poor earnest haunted house proprietor with your “dissatisfied customer” routine. I mean, I know it was just a ploy to get you in the house, but I was offering you a FREE haunted house tour. Gratis. As far as you knew, it would cost you nothing. Despite this, nothing would have given you more pleasure than to see Old Jerry’s feelings hurt. It’s just sadistic when you think about it. You relished the opportunity to be an asshole… right up until the moment I cracked you in the forehead with the hammer you never noticed me holding. If we’re being entirely honest, I hit you too hard. I wanted you to know what was happening before I turned your lights out. I wasn’t going for a “scream of terror” or anything like that, but, if I had my druthers, a “no, please stop” would have been nice to hear you say before the end. To be fair, blunt force head trauma is more of an art than a science. And, it’s not like I do this very often. To kids your age anyway. As was, you dropped limp without a sound. But, oooooh, boy, it was still pretty sweet. I’m getting chills thinking about it again. I knew I had to hit you again to make sure the deed was done, if only to make sure you couldn’t surprise me and get away when I turned my back. I’ve been down this road too many times to know that one should never underestimate the resiliency of the human body. Afterwards, I dragged you over to the basement door and pushed you down the stairs. There was no way for you to somehow magically escape from down there. I suppose I may have been being too cautious, but these are the kinds of lessons experience teaches you, I suppose. That’s the difference between Old Jerry and “other people”; I like redundancies. But, my worries were needless. You landed at the bottom with a dull flop, eyes open and dilated. You were clearly dead, your blood droplets spattered all over my basement stairwell. Oh… remind me later to get to the pharmacy to pick up some hydrogen peroxide to clean all of this up. Then came step two of my plan: cut you up into little pieces so that I could properly dispose of you. I mean, of course, I kept the tastiest parts of you for dinner this week, but my refrigerator is only so large. Eventually, the rest of you’d start stinking. Eventually, the smell would draw notice. Best just to dump you in a shallow grave and be done with you. I had just been hoping that the disposal part of this process hadn’t been so taxing. If only this saw would cooperate. I mean, look at me; I’m covered in your blood. Old Jerry looks like he’s been… well, like he’s been in a basement cutting up a body all night. HA! No? Well, I thought it was funny. Being splattered with your blood does make for a pretty convincing Halloween costume at least. When all’s said and done, kiddo, you’re actually pretty easy to talk to. Don’t get me wrong, I still think you’re a prick. But, I haven’t had this much human interaction in months. Ever since the psychologist lady told me to stop coming by. Man, now THAT is a story. You see, the court ordered me to see a shrink a couple times a week. But, one week she forgot to give me my prescription. I ran out over the weekend, but her office didn’t open until Monday. So, I did some researching to find where she lived and went to her house… SHHHHHHH! Do you hear something? . . . I think I just heard a knock on the front door. Hold on. Lemme go see. . . . Hey, wouldn’t you know, your friends Dracula, Zombie, and Skeleton are here. They look a little worried. Perhaps here to check up on you? Ah. Now I see why you were so bold in coming up to my house: this was all just some bit. You must’ve thought your friends had your back if anything went wrong. Maybe you should’ve stuck with the plan and only asked for candy. Who’s the joke on now, bitch? They sure did take their time in coming to your rescue, didn’t they? No doubt the product of an extended debate as to whether to go tell someone and risk getting in trouble for tonight’s hijinks. I really have to question your friends’ wisdom in approaching the same house you didn’t come out of. You really picked some idiot friends. Seriously, what the hell are they teaching you kids about the mechanics of “Trick-or-Treat”-ing these days? Like I said, go up to house, get candy, leave, approach next house, repeat. None of this is rocket science. But, I suppose they still are “witnesses” who can “link you back to me”. And I really don’t want the police sniffing around here. WAY too much for them to find. Oooooo-wee, they’d bury Old Jerry under the jail if they found half of the shit I have down here. A few too many skeletons in the closet. And in the crawl space. And under the floorboards. And in the backyard. Do you think they’ll fall for the same haunted house ruse you did? I mean, you did give me a great costume! How’s about it, hoss – you in the mood for some company? Yeah? Then we’re agreed! Let me go get my hammer. . . Oh, fuck. The goddamn saw. How the hell am I gonna cut up three more of you with this thing? 

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Ep.73 – Slasher - Making Movies Can Be MURDER

Episode Notes

A group of college students set out to make a slasher movie but when real bodies start piling up who will survive these halls of horror?!

Slasher by Rob Fields

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The group that was to breathe new life into the Strickfield University Film Society gathered in the movie room at Wilder Hall, the student union building. When Professor James Corgen arrived to conduct the meeting, he sat on top of his desk and looked at the others. “I see we’re missing somebody,” he said. “I’m sure Jennie will be here shortly,” Jessie, his busty, red-headed daughter, assured him. The professor appeared annoyed. “I’m not talking about your sister.” Just then, another girl entered the movie room. “Sorry I’m late. I got delayed.” Jessie turned to her. “It’s okay, Vickie, you didn’t miss anything. In fact, we’re heading out shortly.” Professor Corgen looked at Vickie. “You did read the script, right?” “Trust me, I know my lines,” Vickie assured him. “I know why Vickie got delayed.” Bethany Mirren looked over at the others and made an obscene pantomime of giving oral sex, getting a few chuckles out of some of the males present. Jessie pointed right past Bethany. “Hey! Don’t want to work with Vickie Valentine? There’s the door! We’ve only got one shot at making this movie. Just say the word and we’ll recast you.” Bethany flashed a toothy smile. “Your ad said you needed big-breasted girls for your movie. It just surprises me that you’d hire a porn star.” “That porn star can actually act!” Jessie fired back. “She’s already starred in a horror movie for the North Ridgeway University Film Club. The Murder Club is kicking ass all over the film festival circuit. My contact at North Ridgeway told me it’ll be getting a limited theatrical run in a few months. I want our movie to get that same prestige, especially if we want to keep the Strickfield University Film Society going.” “We’ve lost a lot of money over the past six months,” Professor Corgen explained. “Dean Roth won’t set aside any more money in the budget for us unless we can start making some of our own. We have just enough money left to make our movie. My daughter here wrote a script, which is both excellent and an homage to cheesy, exploitation horror. I don’t personally care for horror movies, but I feel Jessie’s going to do well with it. She’ll be in the movie with all of you, but will also be directing Slasher, the title. I’m merely here as an adviser. I don’t want any animosity between any of you, especially with Vickie Valentine here.” Jessie pointed to Bethany. “You in? Or out?” Bethany shrugged. “I’m in.” Jessie smiled. “Excellent! Now . . .” Professor Corgen picked up a bag and opened it. “All of your smartphones are turned off and go in there. No interruptions due to someone getting a text!” Some were reluctant in handing over their phones, but they were all collected. Jessie took an excited breath. “Okay, let’s head on over to the old Performance Hall. It won’t be torn down for a month yet. Dean Roth gave us permission to shoot Slasher there. Everything will be up and running, including the showers in the basement dressing room. If none of you want to go home, you can crash in one of the many old classrooms. Are we ready?” Cody King stood up. “Let’s go!” Everybody left the room and exited Wilder Hall. They walked across campus until they came to the boarded-up building that was once Performance Hall. The building had seen better days and was why a new building had been constructed. When Jessie was looking for locations to shoot Slasher, she had to convince Dean Jerry Roth to allow the Film Society to have the former performance arts building until it was time to be leveled. He finally consented and wrote her the permit she needed. He also had signs posted that only the Film Society had access to the building. When they reached the front doors, Jessie unlocked them and they all went inside. Jessie was so excited to be shooting her first feature film that she could barely contain herself. She took a deep breath and turned to everybody. “Okay, people, our first scene is already set up. Head down the hall to make-up, and then we’ll start.” The first day of shooting for Slasher was about to begin . . .


Jessie sat on the edge of the stage and looked over her copy of the script. Before long, she heard a door opening to her far left and saw her father coming in. “We’re shooting the opening scene in here,” she informed him. He came and sat next to her. “You’re going to do just fine, Jessie. I suppose I’m curious. Why did you cast an adult film actress?” “I told you, Dad, she really can act. I had a chance to see her in The Murder Club at North Ridgeway University a few months ago and knew she’d be perfect for Slasher. I met Vickie that night and showed her the script, which she loved. I can’t pay my actors much, but I’m glad she took the role anyway. Vickie’s trying to do more legitimate movies and get out of porn. I want to help give her that chance.” He put a comforting arm around her. “Okay, it’s your movie. I said I’d back you.” Jessie opened her script again. “Like I said, we’re shooting the first scene. I couldn’t find anybody to play the Scream Queen killer, so I’m playing two roles.” She picked up the blank white mask that signified the killer. “I still can’t reach Jennie. Do you know if she’s coming?” Her father looked grim. “I didn’t want to tell you, but your sister won’t be joining us for our meetings again . . . ever.” Jessie looked worried. “What’s going on?” He sighed. “She’s the reason we’re having our money problems. I discovered she’s been embezzling money from the Film Society.” Her mouth opened wide. “Oh, my god!” Then they heard a noise. Professor Corgen quickly stood up and walked into the stage area. “Somebody’s up in the catwalk.” Jessie found a flashlight and joined her father. She turned on the flashlight and pointed it upward. “I don’t see anybody.” “I’m telling you, I saw somebody moving around up there, Jessie.” Jessie slowly shined the light around a few more times. “I still don’t –” Suddenly . . . the figure appeared! The figure was obviously feminine, with a build similar to Jessie. The figure had the same red hair as Jessie’s and wore a sexy, form-fitting white dress that showed off how full and ample her breasts were. However, this female figure wore the very same mask that Jessie held in her hands. This girl was dressed as the Scream Queen, the killer of Slasher. She looked down at Jessie and her father for a long moment before she produced a bow and arrow. Before either of them could react, the Scream Queen took quick aim and shot the arrow – right through Professor Corgen’s heart! Jessie screamed as her father fell forward – dead before he hit the floor! Jessie looked up to the catwalk on impulse, but the Scream Queen was gone. Jessie held her dead father to her and sobbed. It was several minutes before the cast came in, ready to shoot the first scene. When they saw what had happened, they either gasped or screamed. Jessie turned to them. “Get out of here! Call the police!” Stanley Farnsworth quickly turned and left. It wasn’t long before he was back. “The doors are all chained up and the windows are boarded up! We can’t get out!” “Oh, bullshit!” Cody King snapped. “Get outta the way!” The cast members reached the main doors to find they were indeed chained tightly shut from the inside. They went and checked the other doors. Hope quickly turned to despair when they found the other doors were chained in the exact same manner. “We’re fucking trapped in here!” Cody yelled. “Bullshit!” “People, come on, we need to keep it together here,” Vickie Valentine said. “Let’s go back and check on Jessie.” They went back to the stage and found Jessie still holding her father’s body. Vickie lowered herself and convinced Jessie to put her father down. Jessie did and became angry. “I told you people to call the police!” “Let’s all go together,” Nate Henry piped up. “There should be a phone in the office.” “What about the bag with our phones?” Stanley inquired. Jessie looked dismal. “Dad put them away somewhere. I don’t know where.” Vickie stood up and helped Jessie to her feet. “We go to the office, then.” 


The seven of them entered the main office and found the landline phone. Stanley picked up the receiver and punched 9-1-1. Then he turned to the others with a grim look. “It’s dead!” “Bullshit!” Cody snatched the receiver from Stanley. After putting it to his ear . . . “The worm’s right! The killer probably cut the line.” He slammed the receiver back onto the cradle. “Fuck!” Vickie quickly cried, “Easy, people. We can’t be losing our shit here! Not now!” Bethany sneered at Vickie. “Just because you’re the porn queen doesn’t mean you’re the queen.” Cody turned to Vickie. “Don’t lose our shit?! We’re trapped in this fucking building! The phone ain’t working! We are so fucked!” Lizzie Jones finally got her words in. “I’ve actually been looking for a weapon or something, but . . . I can’t find so much as a single tool! I even went to a few of the other rooms nearby. There’s nothing to use as a weapon to protect ourselves in here! The killer’s thought of everything.” Stanley groaned. “We need to – Ohshit!!” Everybody else screamed and panicked as the Scream Queen now stood in the doorway – armed with a chainsaw! With one quick movement, she yanked the cord to bring the lethal weapon to life. Before Stanley could turn to move away, the killer thrust the chainsaw underneath his groin and worked right up the middle. Blood sprayed and splattered everywhere. The Scream Queen’s once-fully-white outfit and mask and exposed skin were being blood-splattered. When the killer finished, the two halves of Stanley fell to the floor. The Scream Queen gave them a long, blank look before she turned and disappeared. The remaining six were too shocked to run after her. “What the fucking fuck?!” Bethany screamed. Then she whimpered when she finally realized that she had Stanley’s blood splattered on her. “Eeew!” Jessie suddenly pointed to Lizzie. “You say there aren’t any weapons? I don’t believe that for a second! I’m sure the murdering cunt pretending to be the Scream Queen wants us to think that. There have to be things we can find to use as weapons. We just need to search the other rooms in the building.” “I’m all for looking,” Vickie offered. Bethany pointed to the doorway. “Hey, porn queen, in case you were sleeping through all this shit, that fucking psycho bitch is still out there!” Vickie glared at her. “No shit, airhead! We can’t just stay in here with our heads up our asses! You people can stay here if you want. I’m going with Jessie.” “We really shouldn’t be splitting up,” Nate stated. “Like Vickie said, we can’t just stay in here,” Lizzie recalled. “Hold it! I’ll go with you and Jessie.” As Nate reached out to take Vickie’s hand, she slapped it away. “Hands off! I’m married!” “Sorry.” Jessie turned to the others. “You three stay on this floor and look around. We’ll head up to the second floor. Plus, we still have the basement to check.” She turned to Nate and Vickie. “Let’s go.” Jessie, Nate, and Vickie split from the others and headed for the second floor.  


Bethany and Cody were looking through drawers, closets, and other places where they might find weapons. Lizzie noticed that Bethany wasn’t really making much of an effort. She seemed to be opening things slowly, all while keeping her eyes on Cody. She also noticed that the rich girl had conveniently unbuttoned enough buttons on her top to reveal the ample cleavage in between her two surgically-enhanced breasts. Truth be told, Cody really had an eye for Lizzie and kept checking out her ass whenever she wasn’t looking. Bethany noticed this and couldn’t understand why he would want to hook up with a future Suzy Homemaker, when he could have her hot and naked. All he had to do was just claim her. She had no problem answering Jessie’s ad for big-breasted girls to act in her movie. Bethany knew she had the biggest ones out of every girl in the cast. Hell, even Vickie Valentine’s natural ones didn’t measure up to hers. Bethany had spent a pretty penny on her breasts to turn lots of heads. Yet, Cody was wanting Lizzie? Oh, but Bethany wasn’t giving up so fast. After all, she was from the infamously-rich Mirren clan . . . and Mirrens always got what they wanted. Well, Bethany knew she couldn’t just strip naked for Cody, not with Lizzie right there. She would certainly continue to work her charms on him. Oh yes, he would definitely give in to her. If he was a good lay, she would keep him for as long as she would continue to want to play with him. “Everything good, Lizzie?” Cody whispered. Lizzie, the lookout person, whispered back, “I’m not seeing anything.” Lizzie kept looking one way, then the other. In truth, she wanted to help search for weapons, but spoiled Bethany just had to have her way. She’d had enough of Bethany’s hem-hawing. Before she could turn to tell Bethany to trade places with her, the blood-splattered Scream Queen was suddenly right there in front of her. Lizzie screamed when the Scream Queen grabbed her T-shirt and ripped it open to expose her bouncing breasts. Then the Scream Queen grabbed Lizzie by her long dark hair with the left hand and sank the blade of a boxcutter into her flesh just below her ribs with the right. With a few swift, precise movements, Lizzie’s stomach had been sliced open. Still holding Lizzie’s hair, the Scream Queen forced Lizzie to quickly drop to her knees – causing her internal organs to drop right out of her stomach with a loud, sickening PLOP!! Lizzie’s corpse fell onto its side. Cody charged through the door, knocking the Scream Queen to the floor. The Scream Queen quickly got to her feet and ran away. Bethany shot out of the doorway. When she saw what was left of Lizzie, she quickly cradled Cody’s arm. “Holy shit! What are we going to do now?” “We gotta keep looking for shit,” Cody said. “We don’t know if the others’ll be back or not. We gotta look out for ourselves now and find a way outta here.” “Please don’t leave me!” she moaned. “Shhh! Shut up! Come on.” Bethany nodded and held Cody’s hand. He squeezed her hand and led the way. 4

Jessie, Nate, and Vickie were on the second floor. They stuck together as they carefully examined classroom after classroom. They couldn’t find anything available to be used as a weapon. Not even so much as a pen. Vickie groaned in frustration. Nate put a gentle hand on her shoulder. “I know. This psycho seems to have thought of everything.” Jessie groaned in frustration herself. “Why is that sick bitch doing this?!” “You’re guess is as good as mine,” Nate replied. Vickie shook her head quickly. “We just . . . Goddammit, we just came here to shoot a horror movie!” She grabbed her hair and groaned again. “Am I being punished for being a porn star? My parents have never agreed with me doing porn to pay for school, but they supported my decision. I’m trying to get out, I really am.” Jessie stepped in front of her. “Look at me, Vickie! Look at me!” Vickie slowly focused on her. “I see you.” “You do what you have to do to pay for college, I get it. I know Strickfield University’s not the cheapest college. I don’t think the Scream Queen is targeting you specifically. You’d be dead already – just you.” She hugged Vickie. “For what it’s worth, thank you for much for agreeing to be in my movie.” Vickie hugged her back. “Thank you for asking me.” Then they came apart. “I don’t want to die. I’m a senior this year, and I want to graduate. I’m finally at a point to where I can leave porn and do something meaningful.” “What are you majoring in?” Nate asked. Suddenly, there was a loud racket down the hallway from them, which made them gasp! “We have to go check it out,” Jessie whispered. “Are you crazy? The Scream Queen might be down there!” Vickie whispered back. “Someone might be in trouble,” Nate offered. Vickie really didn’t want to go, but she nodded. They all cautiously moved down the hallway, checking every room along the way. Soon, they reached the room where they were sure they heard the noise. They entered the bloody room and found the remains of murdered crew members everywhere. Nate had to quickly cover Vickie’s mouth to keep her from screaming. Jessie had to whisper to her to get her to calm down. When she did, Nate removed his hand. Then Nate saw glass bottles of water on the desk. Being really thirsty, he picked one up and opened it. He’d only taken two swallows before he quickly spit it out, just missing Vickie. But he couldn’t tell her that what he had just consumed was not water. It was a highly corrosive acid! Vickie screamed in terror as Nate fell to his knees. His face, throat, and the flesh on his chest and stomach had melted away completely. Blood was pooling around his corpse quickly. Suddenly, the Scream Queen appeared with a bloody fire ax in her hands. “Fuck you!” Jessie shouted. The Scream Queen raised and swung the ax at Jessie’s neck. Jessie ducked – barely! When she came up, the girls both shoved the killer to the floor and ran out of the room. 


Cody and Bethany were exploring the basement now. They still hadn’t found any weapons, in spite of all the rooms they had checked. Bethany’s arm was still wrapped around Cody’s as she continued to cling to him. “Why? What did we do wrong, Cody?” Cody sighed and gave her a brief, comforting hug. “I don’t know. What I do know is we gotta get the fuck outta here.” They walked into the dressing rooms. Seeing nothing, they turned and walked into the shower room. Bethany was really scared now. “God damn it!” She held herself as she backed herself into a corner and seemed ready to cry. Cody moved to her and held her to him. “Hey! Don’t come apart on me here. Come on, blondie, stay with me here. Stay with me . . .” Cody moved his hands to the sides of Bethany’s face and began kissing her hungrily. Bethany snatched him to her and kissed him with equal hunger. Bethany let him finish unbuttoning her top to expose her abundantly large breasts. Cody had seen Vickie Valentine’s natural breasts many times when he’d watch her adult movies, but Bethany’s enhanced ones were much bigger. And to a guy, bigger was always better, right? Also, he would have liked to have hooked up with Lizzie, but . . . she was dead. For all Cody would have known, they were all going to die. Fuck it . . . he thought. Cody and Bethany undressed each other. Then Bethany turned on all the showers. As far as they were concerned, there was no Scream Queen in this steamy world. At least not for a few adulterous rounds of pleasure. For them, the sex was everything they’d both imagined. They were so into each other that they never heard or saw the figure appearing at the shower entrance. As Bethany was having her third orgasm, she opened her eyes and screamed! 


Cody screamed himself when Jessie yelled, “Are you two fucking kidding me?!” Vickie appeared next to Jessie. “Really?! We got a fucking killer running around in here, and you two are . . . are . . . This!” After Bethany turned off the showers, the naked couple grabbed for their clothes. Bethany took her time in getting dressed. Once more, she let her pride and status as a Mirren get the better of her. Still topless, she turned to Vickie and pushed up on her breasts. “Get a good look, porn slut,” she purred. “They’re so much bigger and better than yours.” Vickie just looked at her. “Yeah, and . . . ? Unlike you, people are willing to pay damn good money to see me fuck in the shower. What’s your excuse?” Bethany just sneered at her. Then she turned her back to the opposite entrance and finally started to put her top back on. As she went to button it up, she screamed when the loud roar of a very large drill tore through the air. Bethany gasped and started choking on her own blood when the huge drill bit went into her back and come out just below her prides and joy. Blood spilled from Bethany’s lacerations – some going down a nearby drain. Bethany finally fell forward off the drill bit and died. The Scream Queen came into the room and revved the drill in front of the last three still alive. The Scream Queen slipped on the wet floor and fell, allowing Jessie, Vickie, and Cody to escape. The Scream Queen got up and moved with amazing speed to retrieve the drill off the floor and begin pursuit. 7

Jessie, Cody, and Vickie made it to the stairway and ran up two steps at a time. Back on the first floor, they ran down the hallway. The raging drill made it quite clear that the Scream Queen was right behind them. As they made the turn to the stairwell, they just missed being hit with the drill that the Scream Queen had thrown. The drill had stopped when it hit the floor. They ran up to the second floor and kept moving. So far, the Scream Queen wasn’t in sight. When they reached the catwalk doors, Cody opened one and motioned for the girls to go in before he followed. They were careful in moving across the catwalk above the stage. The house lights suddenly came on, which made them all scream. As they reached the opposite doors, one of them opened. The Scream Queen stepped in. This time, she had a spear in her hands. Vickie quickly grabbed the spear and struggled to take it from the killer. Finally, she had seized it. The Scream Queen just stood there and seemed to be watching. Without warning, Vickie turned and drove the spear under Cody’s chin with enough force so that the tip came right out through the top of his head. Cody shook and gurgled for a few moments before Vickie just shoved him right off the catwalk. Cody’s head landed on the hard wooden floor where the sickening sound of 19his skull shattering was heard. Jessie gasped and looked at Vickie. “Why?!” On impulse, Jessie reached out and ripped the Scream Queen’s mask right off. Her knees wobbled when she saw the face of the killer! “What the fuck?!” she whispered loudly. Jessie held the bloody mask in her hands as she stared into what seemed to be her own reflection . . . a second Jessie Corgen! 


The second Jessie Corgen laughed gleefully. “Hi, sis! Miss me?” Vickie grinned an evil grin. “You don’t recognize Jennie, your own twin sister?” “You killed Dad!” Jessie cried. “Why, Jennie?!” Jennie quickly raised her finger. “Why?! Didn’t you hear Daddy earlier? He found out I was embezzling money from the Film Society. Guess I got a little too greedy. Also . . . why should I have to wait until he dies to get all those millions? When I can have it all now!” Jessie shouted, “That’s what this was about? Greed?! You were so goddamn greedy that you killed our father – for Film Society money?!” Jennie laughed. “Stealing money from the Film Society was bonus money . . . but no. You know Daddy had a pretty fucking hefty life insurance policy – worth millions!” Jessie put the rest of the pieces together. “With Dad dead, you’ll be the only beneficiary. You’ll be set for life. The Film Society will close down for good, and you’ll be on your way to a tropical paradise where you can live out the rest of your life. And you even had to go so far to make sure the Film Society’s horror movie would never be made. Anything to make sure Dean Roth would have no choice but to close the Film Society down, right?” “Oh, you’re wrong about one thing, sis,” Jennie purred. To Jessie’s surprise, Jennie eased Vickie to her for a passionate kiss. Then they turned to Jessie. “Remember when I told Nate I was married? Jennie’s my wife,” Vickie revealed. “We eloped around the time we came up with this plan.” “Which means we will be living in paradise,” Jennie added. “A little money and a crooked lawyer and I also got the will changed. All of Daddy’s money and insurance will go to us – as in Vickie and me. I’ll never have to bust my ass for anyone ever again. Also, my sweetheart will be done with porn.” She moved away from Vickie and towards Jessie. “Sorry, sis . . . Nothing personal.” Jennie reached out and shoved Jessie hard off the catwalk. 


Jessie screamed only for a moment, until she landed on the back of her head and was still forever. Blood began pooling around her head and neck. Jennie turned to face Vickie, who stood with her back to the railing. “No more loose ends, love.” Vickie gave Jennie a sinister smirk. “Wrong, honey.” Suddenly, Vickie grabbed Jennie and flipped her over the railing. Jennie screamed all the way down until she landed and broke her neck. Vickie looked down and smirked again. “Sorry, honey, but there’s only going to be enough money for one person – me! Till death do we part.” As Vickie left the catwalk and headed downstairs, she pulled a set of keys out of her pocket, which would unlock the chains and the doors. Vickie Valentine – the unlikely sole survivor – stepped outside. She pulled out her smartphone from in between her breasts, turned it on, and called the police. Truly, Vickie was indeed a great actress; the police bought everything. Vickie would only have to wait a short time to collect all of the money, graduate from Strickfield University, and say goodbye to the porn industry forever.


The cast and crew were pleased at their screening of Slasher, which played at the Strickfield Centennial Theatre downtown. This particular screening was invitation only, which included the cast and crew along with the Film Society backers who contributed enough to get tickets to the screening as a perk. The end credits began to role and the house lights came up. Jessie and Jennie Corgen were sitting with their father, who congratulated them on a job well done. Jessie motioned to the cast and crew members present to make their way to the lobby for a meet-and-greet. Many of the cast posed for pictures. However, Vickie Valentine would end up signing copies of her adult movies that people happened to bring with them, in addition to posing for pictures. This screening was to celebrate that Slasher had made it onto the film festival circuit. Once it would finish there, it would play on the midnight movie circuit, followed by a limited theatrical run. In all, the Strickfield University Film Society would earn enough money to both keep their doors open on campus and have a budget to film the sequel, which the Corgen Twins had already written the script for. They knew they were going to re-sign their cast and crew to help make it. Vickie Valentine was already guaranteed her role as the star – and accepted it on the spot. Vickie Valentine would now be able to leave the porn industry and become a premier horror movie starlet. Not only had she agreed to star in Slasher II: Valentine’s Day, she would also go on to star in other horror movies for other independent studios. She hadn’t forgotten that Slasher had made her a star and made it a point to make herself available whenever the Corgen Twins offered her a role. Bethany Mirren, Vickie’s rival, had actually been approached by Vickie’s former agent about a career in porn. Bethany would never admit it, but she had actually considered it. However, it was no secret to the other cast and crew that she and Cody were seeing each other. The secret they shared between themselves was that they actually did have sex during their shower scene; they just didn’t seem to want to be apart after that. When it came to the rest of the cast, Nate Henry and Stanley Farnsworth would receive individual offers to appear in or star in other independent movies. Only Lizzie Jones had actually been signed to a Hollywood contract out of all of them and would go on to win Oscars. As for the Corgen Twins, many of their movies are still playing on the midnight movie circuit to this day. And many, many more are on their way . . .

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Ep.72 – Grave Consequences - What Happens When a Grave Robs You Back?!

Episode Notes

Stealing from the dead isn't a terrible way to make a living, it just takes a little getting used to. But what happens when a grave tries to STEAL YOU in return?!

Grave Consequences by Killian Crane

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Dennis’ shovel bit into packed dirt. Years of practice told him he’d passed the five foot marker. Only a few more inches and his blade would strike the coffin lid. This was one of the good cemeteries. It was off of a main road, but the town was sleepy and there were no lights. No lights meant he could park damn near on top of the grave. He wouldn’t have to lug everything from a block or two away. As an added bonus, the night dripped with a heavy fog. It would be impossible to see his electric lantern from a distance. Mr. Pyles told him to look for an old money tombstone, and he wasn’t kidding. The once lavish tombstone had a statue of a weeping angel wielding a sword staring down at Dennis as he worked. At the angel’s feet read “Here lies Vanya Mills.” Her birth year was worn away, but she died in ‘62. Chances were, anyone coming to check on dear old Vanya was either an old fart or buried close by. He dug faster, feeling sweat drip down his chin. He learned long ago to keep plenty of sweat rags handy for long nights, and there was a fresh beach towel already waiting for him in the driver’s seat of his truck. He had a change of shoes in his covered bed, where he’d place his muddy boots and tools of the trade in one large trash bag and his haul in another. If it was too big, he’d just wrap it in painter’s plastic and tape it up. Once upon a time, Dennis was something of a jack of all trades. A pipe fitter when he could pass a drug test, a construction hand when he couldn’t, and a thief in between. It was a stroke of genius that he found his favorite form of larceny; grave robbing. Many homeowners were getting home security systems. The ones with anything worth stealing, anyway. The same was basically true of people. You’d never guess who all was packing across the country. Sure, some places had hinky gun laws, but that didn’t stop granny from carrying a .45. Dennis knew that from experience. Several years ago he held up an old woman and she pulled heat on him. Luckily her hands shook something fierce. The .45 rang his ears, but didn’t ventilate him. Dennis had enough gumption to snatch the revolver from her hands. He retaliated, stomping granny’s ass into the ground. She had just been protecting herself, but she damn near killed him. To teach her a lesson, Dennis made sure she had the ass whooping of her long life. When he found the only thing of value she had was the revolver and a coin purse with a whopping $5 in change, he decided that robbing people was just too much drama. That night, he used the $5 to get a coffee at a local diner. The night had been rough, so sweet thang at the counter wasn’t getting a tip. The local paper was on the counter, opened to the obits. One in particular caught his eye. A local heiress, pretty little thing, probably in her forties, had kicked the bucket. She wore something intricate around her neck. The black and white picture didn’t do the thing justice, but he could tell it was gold and diamonds. It was then he had an idea. While he waited for her to be buried, Dennis pawned the .45 for $300, then went to the hardware store for the things he thought he’d need; a shovel, crowbar, mallet, good rope, bolt cutters, flashlights and a lamp, towels and large trash bags. It all came out to just under $200. Another $85 went to a shit hole motel nearby, and the last $15 to his name went to a good hot meal. He had a full night’s work ahead of him, and needed to have his strength up. Once he was at the cemetery, he realized just how brilliant his plan was. Graveyards were empty at night. The dead made people uneasy, except goth kids but they were easy to scare off. Another plus, there were no pigs on patrol. Small town pigs couldn’t be bothered that late when there was a car to sleep in or donuts to suck on. Best of all, graves didn’t call the police or shoot back. They were buried treasure, waiting to be plundered. As he dug up the heiress’s grave, he had this feeling of destiny. This was what he was truly put on the earth for. His shovel bit greedily into the dirt. Like a first date, he was both nervous and excited to meet little Miss Money. When he finally felt the thunk of his shovel on her coffin lid, he scraped away enough of the dirt to put his hand on bare wood. He gave the coffin a little knock. “You in there, sweet thang?” No answer. “Don’t you worry. I’m on my way.” He cleared the dirt away from the top and the sides, and slid his crowbar under the lip of the lid. It was like he was at the casino pulling the handle of a slot machine. Would he hit? Would he bust? He pulled the crank, and the lid popped with a hiss. She still smelled sweet, like flowers. He turned away, caught in a sneezing fit. Anything scented always did this to him. Well, damn near anything, really. He had a sensitive nose. He sniffled, embarrassed that she saw him like this on their first meeting. But that embarrassment evaporated when he saw gold chain encrusted with diamonds around her pretty little neck. Jackpot. He took the necklace off her. She didn’t seem to mind. As he stared at her, he had another bright idea. She wasn’t doing anyone any good laying in that coffin. But maybe she could still be good to someone out there… He threw the heiress over his shoulders and loaded her into the backseat of his sedan. It took a little doing to get her seated, on account of her being so stiff, but he got it done. Dennis buckled her in and covered his work. In the drivers seat, he wiped his forehead with an old bandanna. He saw her through the rear view mirror, staring at him. The glue holding her eyes closed had come undone. It freaked Dennis out a little, but she was just a stiff. Nothing she could do anymore. “I know this car ain’t what you’re probably used to,” he said, giving her a bashful smile, “but I hope you enjoy the ride.” He threw the sedan in drive and crept out of the cemetery. To Dennis’ surprise; it didn’t take much searching to find a buyer for the heiress. Down a dirt road that the sedan didn’t like, he found the old ranch house of a Mr. Pyles. He was an old man with a look in his eye of terrible intelligence. He and Dennis shook, and he explained that he was a sort of… artist. After viewing the heiress and seeing what he liked, he paid Dennis $2,000 for her in cold hard cash. He was floored, like a kid looking at the ocean for the first time. Before Dennis could leave, Mr. Pyles fetched two glasses and a batch of moonshine from the cabinet. “You got time for a drink?” the old man asked. “I got an offer you might like to hear.” Dennis never was one to say no to good money, so he stayed for the drink. “I been looking for someone like you,” Mr. Pyles said, “been looking a long while. You know, in the right hands, a dead body can be spun into gold.” He poured two shots of moonshine, and slid one to Dennis. “How would you like to make this a regular thing?” Dennis stared at the shot of moonshine, reminiscing about the thrill of the dig. He flexed his fingers, remembering the tension of his crowbar under the lid of the coffin... For the sake of formality, had to ask. “What’s the pay?” Mr. Pyles smiled. “Same for her, $2,000 a stiff. Anything on their person is a bonus for you, unless specifically instructed otherwise.” For Dennis, it was a no brainer. They toasted. The moonshine burned on the way down, and their pact was forged. Mr. Pyles gave him a burner phone, a name, a photo of a gravestone, and an address. Dennis set out immediately. Things went that way for three good years. Since then, Dennis sold the sedan in favor of a four wheel drive truck with a long bed and a hard cover. An eight foot bed meant he could put a basketball player in the back if need be. His new profession took him all across the country. He found that northern dirt didn’t give like the ground in the south, and the more rain a place got, the better for the older graves. Wet ground meant the coffins weren’t busted when he got to them. He wasn’t sure why that was, he just knew it meant he had to do less work. A busted coffin meant playing archaeologist, and on more than one occasion it resulted in a bust. Despite his love of southern coffins, southern air played hell with his allergies. They were bad enough as it was, but the south really let him have it. He caught a sneeze in the crook of his arm for probably the tenth time that night. The angle looked down at him scornfully. “Bless me,” he said, blowing a snot rocket at her feet before he kept digging. Most of the houses near the cemetery looked like old money. Chances were, Vanya was probably a trophy wife for some local millionaire when she was alive, meaning she carried some trophies into the afterlife. Dennis hoped, anyway. He wondered if Vanya was feeling lonely down there. Maybe she was looking forward to finding a new friend in Mr. Pyles. He wasn’t sure what the old man did with any of the bodies. Dennis brought him all kinds of people at various stages of decay. He learned that graves over 50 years old were usually just the frame. He enjoyed those graves the best. Bones were easy to pick clean and load in the truck. As he bit into the dirt, the shovel jolted with a thunk. “Thar she be,” he whispered with a smile. He cleared away enough dirt to touch the coffin lid. If that little bit was any indication, Vanya’s coffin was a good looking one in it’s heyday. Finger’s crossed for a bonus, he gave the lid a little knock. “I’m comin’ for ya, old bitty. Ya better be decent.” He cleared away the dirt as he had so many times before, and grabbed his crowbar. If the lid wouldn’t act right, he’d have to grab the mallet and force it open. But he wasn’t worried about that. Vanya was gonna be a good girl. She wanted to feel the air on her old cheeks again. And, if she played her cards right, she could leave with Dennis… Like a good southern coffin, the crowbar slid under the lip with no resistance. Gripping it in his hands, feeling how ready the lid was to pop, Dennis wiped excited sweat from his brow. Would he hit? Would he bust? All he had to do was pull and find out… The lid popped with a hiss. Dead air swelled into the night sky, and Dennis found himself in another sneezing fit. Allergies and the dead didn’t mix well. “It’s okay, old gal,” he said once he could breathe again, “we’ll get you out of that stinkin’ box.” Lid up, Dennis leveled his lantern, not understanding what he saw. Where Vanya should have been, there was a ragged hole leading somewhere below ground. Dennis lowered his lamp, trying to see past the dark. Uneasily, he realized that wherever the hole went, it went deep. From the depths below, a screech shattered the silence of the night. Dennis tripped face forward. Before he could grab for anything, he was falling through the coffin into nothing. As he slid, the dirt scraped painfully into his stomach. Then he stopped sliding and started falling, spinning in the air. Something not dirt broke his fall.  A jolt of pain shot from his ankle as he landed wrong, and his lantern went out. Above, he heard the coffin lid slam shut. He was left in total darkness. Instinctively he reached for his leg, but he was waist deep in something slimy and dense. His heart pounded in his throat as pitch black pressed in on him. The smell was unbearable, making him vomit on himself. He tried to be quiet about it because somewhere someone was crying. He fumbled for his lantern, fingers trembling as they dug into slime and something else. “Please,” he whispered, the sound of his echoing voice terrifying him. After what felt like an eternity, he found the lantern. He pressed the button, but it wouldn’t come on. “No,” he hissed, “no, no, no.” He jammed the button madly, but still the light wouldn’t activate. He felt himself sinking deeper. Liquid drenched his clothes and wet his skin. Whatever it was, it felt disgusting. “Please!” he cried, terror almost drowning him. After an eternity, the lantern blessedly came on, and the echoes of someone crying stopped immediately. Despite its blinding effect, Dennis held the light close to himself, thanking the powers that be that it wasn’t dark anymore. But as his eyes adjusted, and he saw what it was he’d fallen into, realized what it was that he smelled, he wished otherwise. He was in a large cavern. As he squirmed, he sank deeper into a pile of bodies, each of them at wildly different stages of decomposition. Through the muck he could see they were missing parts. Faces ripped off, hands missing, bodies torn in two. He tried to wriggle free, only succeeding in falling further into the pile. The dead weight began to press on him, and with the little air he had left in his lungs, he screamed. From the single rough entrance to the cavern came a faint light, accompanied by wailing. Whatever the crying thing was, it knew he was near. He tried to turn off the lamp, but the button was jammed. The glow beyond the cavern grew brighter as the patter of bare feet and wild shrieking closed in on him. He was out of time, and only saw one option. He flung the lantern away and played dead. The crying thing stepped into the cavern, having to hunch over. She was tall, with long red hair and impossibly long arms and legs. She wore a ragged black dress that was much too short for her skeletal frame, exposing her bony legs to the tops of her thighs. One slender hand held an electric lantern, bathing the room with questing light. With her other hand she held her face. Tears streamed between her fingers and down her forearm, where they dripped from her elbow. Peeking between her fingers, Dennis got a look at her eyes. They were puffy and impossibly red and searching for him. It took everything he had to keep up the act. Her hand, which ended in jagged nails covered black with grime, dropped from her varicose face, revealing crude makeup that ran down her cheeks. And cracked lips dribbling the same black grime on her fingers. What that grime could possibly be, Dennis didn’t want to know. Snot flowed from her nose and a fresh line of drool leaked from her mouth. She looked like she was always trying to say something, but the tears only allowed hitching sobs. Her cries reminded him of his mother’s the day his baby brother was put in the ground. That memory in this strange place sent cold sweat trickling down his spine. He wanted to look away, but he didn’t dare move. She put her lantern down and reached for the one Dennis had flung, picking it up with two spindly fingers. She sniffed at the handle, licking it with a long dirty tongue. Tears streamed down the lantern, glistening in the light. She gently placed his lantern on the ground and sniffed at the air. Her nose danced in his direction. With a sad grunt, she worked both hands into the pile of bodies. She fished out the bottom half of a corpse, her other hand still searching the pile. Her sobbing mouth worked around a bloated thigh, every bite a struggle as her teeth sank into decayed flesh. Black goo bubbled around her mouth as her slender neck flexed and pulled. The sound of old thigh meat tearing from bone made Dennis sick again, but he kept his face stone dead. His eyes begged him to blink but he didn’t dare. As she chewed and swallowed, he could feel her other hand questing the muck near him. The dark liquids oozed down the length of the half corpse, mixing with her tears into the dirt. Even as she ate, she sobbed. Her fingers prodded his foot. His heart jumped in his chest as she grabbed him by the ankle, testing him. As she pulled his leg, he grimly thought of his crowbar against the lid of a coffin. Would she hit? Would she bust? She squeezed, shooting fresh pain up his leg, and he knew beyond a shadow of a doubt his ankle was broken. Like her, he began to cry. The tears rolled down his cheeks, but somehow he kept himself from blinking. Back and forth she worked his leg, forcing Dennis to use willpower he didn’t know he had to stay absolutely still. There was a rumbling in the pile. Her questing had disturbed some precarious balance, and the meat shifted in response. Dennis became even more entangled, only his head above the pressing corpses. The mourner squealed, her hand darting from his ankle and to the shifting. She thought she had him. This might be my chance, he thought. It was a slim one, so impossibly slim, but maybe if she didn’t find anything, she’d move on. It would be terrible, but maybe he could wait her out. There had to be another way out of this cavern, she got down here somehow. He wasn’t sure yet what he’d tell Mr. Pyles, but he’d burn that bridge when he got to it. Right then, he just had to stay calm. As the pile shifted, the body of an ancient woman whipped around to face Dennis. Around her bony neck was a solid gold necklace sparkling with fine emeralds. He was face to face with Vanya Mills. He didn’t know how he knew, but he did. This night had already been the craziest of his life. He was terrified, and he should have been screaming. But all he could do was look at that necklace. Jackpot. It was beautiful, easily the most valuable thing he’d ever seen on a dead person, easily worth more than the bones wearing it. Dear old Vanya was just another skeleton, begging Dennis to pick her clean. Mad glee threatened to creep into his stone face. He flexed his fingers, fighting the urge to grab the precious jewelry. The mourner wailed in anger, grabbing a body and flinging it into the cavern ceiling. It exploded up there like a party favor, and parts rained. An arm struck Dennis in the head. He couldn’t scream now. He had to have that necklace. This thing thought she had him licked. She didn’t. She didn’t have any idea who Dennis was, what he was capable of. He was in his element. He understood then the intoxicating thrill he felt the night he stole the heiress. His entire life had been building to this very moment. He breathed careful, shallow breaths, reveling in how the dead made him feel alive. Vanya must have been able to read his mind, because as he stared into her empty hollows, she gave him a tight, knowing smile. He wanted to smile back. No, Vanya, he thought unblinking as his vision began to blur, you won’t get me that easy. I’ll be getting out of this one. And that necklace around your scrawny neck will be mine! The mourner collapsed, pulling at her hair, ripping it out in clumps, and pounding her fists into the ground. The thuds made Vanya’s head tilt to one side. Now she was questioning Dennis. She thought she had him licked too. She and the mourner were in this together! He might take Vanya’s head as a souvenir, just to spite her. Take her on a vacation paid for with her necklace. That would show her. That would put her in her place. Who did she think she was? She thought she was a match for Dennis? He’d robbed hundreds of graves! Hundreds! All of them preparing him for this, his masterpiece! You can’t stop me, Vanya, he thought, no one can! I’m getting out of here! I’m gonna win! Vanya laughed at him. Not out loud, but in his head. As she did; her head whipped back and her jaw fell open. Dust spewed from her skull into Dennis’ face. The kiss of death hit him just right. He wanted to cover his face, but he was thoroughly trapped by the dead. His grand plan to steal the necklace and Vanya’s head evaporated as he let out a loud sneeze. The mourning lady stopped pounding the ground, and their eyes met for the first and last time. Terrified, Dennis realized he knew that look in her eyes all too well. Jackpot.

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Ep.71 – Party in the Woods - Unexpected Guests Have Big Claws and Bigger Appetites!

Episode Notes

A party out in the wilderness gets crashed by some unexpected guests. They're mean, they're big and their hungry for YOU!

Party in the Woods by Joe Solmo pennedinblood.com

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Tristian and Becca made their way down the wooded path behind Tristian’s neighbor’s farm. Josh and Emily went to bed pretty early, so for years Tristian had brought friends down here behind the farm to explore the woods. As he got older he explored less and came to the woods to drink and party with the girls from town.

Becca was new to town, just moving here a month ago. Tristian was infatuated as soon as he saw her in the hall in school, her long brown hair flowing behind her. He followed her after school trying to come up with something to say to her to spark a conversation. It paid off though, he thought as he sneaked a glance at her behind in the moonlight through a break in the trees.

She carried a bottle of Jack Daniels in her right hand, it was already missing a quarter of the brown liquid inside. She was more of a drinker than he was, he noted with a smile. He couldn’t keep his eyes off the way she walked, the curves swaying back and forth, it was mesmerizing. The swaying stopped in front of him.

“Tristian, did you hear that?” she whispered to him.

“Hear what?” he asked at a normal volume.

“Shh…something in the woods,” she replied. “Do you guys have bears around here?” She asked with a little bit of fright in her voice.

“I didn’t hear anything. Don’t worry I have been coming here since I was a kid, there is nothing out here that can hurt us,” he said and smiled that famous smile that got him the girl on numerous occasions.

Becca still stood there for another moment, when she didn’t hear anything she began to walk the path again, but cautiously. Tristian snuck up behind her and grabbed the bottle from her hands. She let out a scared yelp as he laughed at her. He took a big gulp off the bottle, letting the alcohol burn his throat.

“Are the others meeting us up here?” Becca asked. She wouldn’t agree to coming out to the woods with a guy she just met unless others were going to be there. He scrambled to find another couple to come along.

“Yes, it’s not much farther now. We got a little fireplace from an old house,” Tristian said. “It must have been from the seventeen hundreds,” he said.

“Sounds cool,” Becca said.

Thinking of the fireplace, Tristian frowned. He should be able to see it from here. He knew Greg and Beth were here already. He saw Greg’s car down by the side of the highway on the way over. Maybe he was just lazy, he thought.

The moon was hidden by the boughs of the trees above. Tristian made his way in the dark to where he knew the stone chimney was. He could barely see the lighter stone in the darkness. He felt around to the right where he stacked the kindling. It felt wet, but he didn’t remember it raining recently. “Greg if you pissed on our wood I will kill you,” he called out to the night. He hoped Greg heard him as he banged Beth, or whatever they were doing.

He grabbed a book of matches from his pocket after stacking the wooden branches into a small teepee shape, with pine needles and last fall’s leaves under. “I can’t see anything,” Becca said from behind him.

“One second,” he said, masking his disappointment. She was one hell of a looker, but she seemed kind of annoying to him. He struck the match, which blinded him for a second with its brightness in the almost complete dark.

He instinctively moved the match to the pine needles under the wood before it burned out or the wind got it. He saw spots in his vision as he gently blew on the pine needles. “Yes!” he called out as the fire came to life. It wasn’t piss on the sticks, it was a darker, thicker color. It reminded him of the bottle Becca carried. “Hey babe, can I get a drink,” he said getting to his feet. The sticks were catching now and the light from the chimney was spreading. Becca didn’t answer him. “Babe?” he said and turned around.

Becca was standing in front of him, ten feet away with the bottle still in her right hand. Her widened eyes stared past him towards the chimney. “What the hell’s gotten into you,” he said and took a step closer, but she didn’t move. He watched as the bottle slipped from her hand and struck the ground, spilling its contents.

“What’s wrong with you?” he said grabbing the bottle off the ground to save its contents which he tried to pour down his throat. He stopped with the bottle to his lips. Becca still hadn’t moved. He started to get a creepy feeling and turned towards the fire.

The light from the flames illuminated the immediate area. The stack of wood he had piled there yesterday was definitely wet, but it was also red. It looks like something bled all over it. His eyes fell to just in front of the stack of wood and he saw the source of the blood.

Greg, naked to the waist lay on the ground, twisted in a way Tristian could only describe as… wrong. His face looked behind him and several vertebra stuck out from a gaping hole in his neck. His eyes were wide open in fear, similar to Becca’s.

He turned towards his would be girlfriend, but she was still looking in the same direction. Tears streaked her cheeks and a sob escaped her lips. He turned back to see what she was looking at, and that’s when he noticed Beth.

Blonde hair mixed with crimson blood covered her young face from the caved in skull before it sunk into the opening that her missing lower jaw left behind. She was completely naked behind the wood pile. Tristian approached her body carefully. He tried to speak but nothing came out. She had large scratches or claw marks crisscrossing across her naked breasts at an inch deep filled with rivers of blood. One of her legs was missing. Just missing. How does that even happen? He couldn’t see it anywhere, but he did find her lower jaw. It looked like some sick bastard had tried to rape her with it, but all it did was tear her pubic area. Teeth peeked out from between strings of her mangled genitalia that hung from her body like the streamers on a five year old girl’s bicycle.

Panic started to settle into Tristian. He stepped backwards away from the mangled corpses of his high school friends. “Becca,” he called out. “Run.” He turned himself to run and saw a horrid sight. Behind Becca, who still hadn’t moved from the same position, stood three humanoid shapes. Their eyes reflected the firelight from the chimney.

“Becca?” Tristian managed to say before the creatures moved. In an instant two grabbed his date and held her arms back behind her. He heard a sickening pop as one of her shoulders were dislocated violently. The pain seemed to break Becca out of her shock. She screamed.

The third creature charged Tristian. He managed to land a punch on the monster but it didn’t seem to have any effect. It grabbed him and forced him to his knees, placing one of its large clawed feet on the back of his legs so he couldn’t get up.

“Help me Tristian!” Becca called out. It was her last words. One of the creatures hands suddenly protruded from her lower abdomen, tearing out of her flesh with a violence Tristian had never witnessed before.

“NO!” he called out in horror and began to sob. He swore the creature holding him mocked his cry. Tristian saw the moment Becca died. He could see it in her eyes. The moment it ceased to be Becca and became only a sack of meat. It was worse than the mangled corpses of his friends, watching her die like that.

Becca’s body fell down to the ground. The two monsters fought over her, tearing pieces of her flesh off in front of him. The same flesh he was admiring just a short time ago. Tristian couldn’t take it anymore, he put his head down, letting his hair cover his eyes but the creature holding him reached down with its gray hand and pulled his hair until he once again was facing Becca. 

Not only did they seem to enjoy killing, but it seemed they enjoyed making him watch. He cried out.

When the two creatures finished dividing up Becca they began to eat. Tristian struggled, but the creature’s strength was too much for him. He clenched his eyes closed to block out the horror in front of him, but the creature seemed to know. It dug a dull nail into the back of his neck every time he closed his eyes, only letting the pressure off when he opened them again. 

Closed or open, he was being tortured. He kept them closed as long as he could take the nail digging him, never in the exact same space, then opened them until the pain from the nail was replaced with the evisceration of his date.

It seemed to go on forever. He couldn’t take anymore. He tried to move again, but the third creature that held him, did so diligently. “Go on, get a bite,” Tristian called out to his captor. It was the only thing he could do, mocking his torturers.

He had no way to track time, but at least fifteen minutes passed as he watched his date disappear piece by piece down the gullets of these hellish creatures. He couldn’t take anymore and closed his eyes to escape but his ears picked up on the wet, snapping of teeth through her flesh and bones. It reminded him of tearing the wings off a chicken dinner and it made him want to throw up.

The creature holding him down pushed him all the way to the ground. He opened his eyes and looked at what was left of Becca. At that point he did throw up, but it had nowhere to go being forced down to the ground. He breathed in his own vomit and thought he was going to drown.

The creature yanked him up back to his knees as the other two  approached. He was pulled all the way to his feet and with a last act of defiance he kicked the groin of the creature right in front of him. It stepped back from the impact then reached out with its grey skinned hand and grabbed his chest, tearing cloth and flesh away from his body.

He screamed, the pain was intense. “Just fucking kill me already,” he yelled out, just wanting it done. He couldn’t take anymore. “Do it you cocksucker!” The monsters didn’t heed him. One of them grabbed his hand and held it out. The first creature, that had been holding him the whole time switched places with the one that tore a piece out of his chest.

It looked him directly in the eye, with an evil intelligence behind its gaze as it slowly and deliberately raised his hand to its mouth and bit off his thumb. He screamed out into the night. He held on to a slim hope that Josh or Emily might hear him in the quiet country night. They had just had a newborn so maybe they would be awake feeding it, he thought.

The creature bit off his middle finger, and smiled, Tristian’s blood and flesh still sitting in its gaping maw. Its body shook with small convulsions, with a grunting sound. A shiver shot up Tristian’s back as he realized it was laughing at his misery.

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Ep.70 – Be Mine - This Valentine's Day They Want Your HEART!

Episode Notes

On a cold Valentine's evening a young woman finds out she has a secret admirer, and they want more than just her heart... And they'll do ANYTHING to get it!

Be Mine by Shane Migliavacca

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For everything else visit WeeklySpooky.com


She’d just sat down on the bed, with the cat snuggling up next to her, when the knock at the door came. Blake looked over at her roommate Cassie, buried in her phone and closer to the door.


Cassie didn’t answer. 

“Nope, guess not.” 

Blake looked down at her cat, Dean. 

“Sorry buddy.” 

She stood, as the cat looked up at her completely disappointed. 

Blake crossed the small, messy dorm room as another knock came. 

“I got it.” 

“Huh?” Cassie mumbled. 

Opening the door, Blake was greeted by Maggie from down the hall. The girl beamed at her from behind a pair of thick glasses. 

“Here.” She thrust a pink heart shaped box at Blake.

“Uh, thanks. I guess.” Blake said, taking the box. 

Maggie frowned. “It’s not from me. It was sitting on the table in the lobby with your name on it.” “Oh, thanks.” A box of candy… for her? There was nobody she could think of who’d do something like that. 

“Going to the Valentine’s dance tonight?” Maggie asked, before Blake could shut the door.

“Nope, got a paper to finish.”

“That sucks.”

Blake shut the door. It really did suck, but not for the reason Maggie thought. She was struggling with the assignment, dragging her feet on it since day one. Now the deadline was looming. 

There was a pink envelope taped to the box’s front with Blake’s name written in glitter. Inside was a Valentine’s card with a cute cat on the front which read ‘Your purrrfect’. 

Underneath the card’s message was another, written in red ink. It read ‘Roses are red, violets are blue. I choose you. Meet me under the east bleachers at 8 pm’.

“What’s that?” Cassie asked. 

“It’s alive.” Blake answered. 


Blake rattled the box. “Someone left me a Valentine's gift.”

“You got a secret admirer.”

“Guess so, they want me to meet them tonight, under the bleachers.” 

“Probably some townie rapists looking to assault a rich college girl.” “I’m not rich.”

“They don’t know that. Pop that fucker open.” Cassie said, sliding forward on her bed. “Bet there’s a human heart inside.”

“Nope, candies.” Blake answered, popping a chocolate into her mouth. 

“Damn.” Cassie groaned. “Gonna meet this mystery admirer?”

“No time for love Dr. Jones. I’ve got a paper to finish.” Blake pet the cat, still lounging on her bed, before picking up her coat and book-bag. “I’m off to the library. Billy’s letting me in.”

“Oh kinky.” Cassie laughed. “There’s your secret heart sender.”

“Billy? I’m pretty sure he’s gay.” 

“Well, so are you.” Cassie stated.

“It doesn't work that way. He doesn't have the kind of… parts I like.”

Blake slipped on her coat, and rested the strap of the book-bag on her shoulder. 

“What about you, meeting Steve at the dance?” 

Cassie’s gaze drifted over to her phone lying on the bed next to her. 

“Naw, he’s busy tonight. Just gonna chill here with the cat and some TV.”

“Oh, sorry. I knew you were looking forward to it.” 

A smile crept across Cassie’s face. “Hey, we could go together.” 

Blake could see the hopeful look in her friend’s eyes, which made what she had to say painful.

“I’m sorry… I-I wish I could.” She said. “If I don’t hunker down and finish this paper… I can’t screw up. My parents sacrificed a lot to get me here.”

She could feel her heart start to beat a bit faster as she imagined going back home after flunking out… the disappointment etched into her parents’ faces.

Blake felt sweat trickle down her cheek as she started to breathe more rapidly. 

‘Control’, she told herself, taking in a deep, slow breath. 

“Don’t worry about it. I wasn’t totally serious about it.” Cassie said, perhaps sensing her friend’s stress. “I’m better off staying in tonight anyway.” 

“Everything okay?” 

“Yeah, just a little bummed. Nothing big.”

“You sure? I could stay.”

“I’m sure. Go. Get that paper done.” 

“Okay. I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be. I never am.”

Blake stepped out into the hallway, making her way past a group of girls all dressed up for the dance, before stepping outside into the bitter February air. The cold cut through her as she started across campus. Taking a pair of earbuds from her coat, she hit ‘play’ on her phone. She’d put together a mix for tonight… something to get her motivated and keep her going. 

Walking along a lit path, snow and ice crunched under Blake’s boots. Taking in a deep breath of cold air, she felt her heartbeat going back to normal. 

Since middle school, Blake had suffered panic attacks. She had trouble keeping her grades up… trouble fitting in. She’d found ways to cope with it over the years with the help of the school counselor, Miss Cheryl. 

Getting this paper finished would relieve a lot of stress. 

Most of the campus buildings were dark, only lit by a few lights left on inside and some spotlights outside. So many shadows, perfect for a townie to be lurking. Blake wanted to laugh off Cassie’s comment, but here… alone in the night… she wasn’t so sure it was something to laugh at. 

Stopping to adjust her heavy book-bag, Blake became aware of something as the song she was listening to faded out. Footfalls on the snow. 

She turned, picturing a salivating pack of townie boys ready to pounce. 

Ready to swing her book-bag like a mace, Blake wouldn’t go down without a fight.

She turned and found herself face to face with a campus security guard.

“Hey… hey miss.” The man nodded. “Where are you headed tonight?” 

Not wanting to get Billy in trouble, she fibbed. 

“Meeting a friend to study.” She smiled. 

She noticed his name-tag read ‘Stu’. He looked like a ‘Stu’ Blake thought.

“I see, nose to the grindstone and all that. Commendable.” 


Blake could feel his eyes on her as she continued on. She felt a little better knowing there was somebody out keeping watch while most of the campus was at the dance. 

The library, designed in the mid-sixties, stood out against the rest of the campus which had been renovated in the last few years. 

She knocked on the staff door around the building’s back. After a few minutes of standing around waiting, and thinking Billy wasn’t even in there, the lock clicked and the metal door opened. 

A young man, a thin shadow of stubble covering his lower face, peeked his head out. His eyes darted back and forth before stopping on Blake. “Is it secret? Is it safe?”

“Billy.” Blake said, wearily. 

He smiled broadly. “Sorry, couldn’t resist… all this clandestine shit.”

“It was your idea for me to use the staff entrance.”

“Didn’t want somebody seeing you come in the front after hours. Old man Styles would have my ass for breakfast.” 

Blake shivered as the wind gusted. “Gonna let me in already? My non-existent lady balls are freezing off. ”

Billy stepped aside and Blake entered what appeared to be the library’s office area… a cluttered mess of desks and cabinets. From somewhere in the library, Elvis crooned away as they stepped into the main room. Only half lit, the library was a maze of bookshelves and shadows. 

“Feel free to set up shop anywhere, I’ll be down here doing inventory awhile, so don’t worry about getting the boot.”

Blake smiled. “Thank you for this. There’s just too much chaos back at the dorm to focus, besides Cassie didn’t go out tonight.”

“Oh, she didn’t go to the dance?”

“Naw,  got stood up.”

“Kind of the same for me, all my help bailed so they could go to the dance.”

“Well, at least you got the King.”

“Music isn’t gonna be a problem is it?” 

“Nope. Brought my own.” Blake pointed to her earbuds. “Where’s it coming from anyway?”

“Old man Styles has a record player hooked up to the PA. He’s got a shit ton of vinyl in his office.” Billy pointed over his shoulder at the head librarian’s office. “Helps the night go quicker.”

Blake headed upstairs, and plopped down at a desk off in a corner.

With her paper and reference material laid out on the desk, Blake popped open an energy drink and took a sip.

“Sweet, sweet caffeine.” 

She un-paused her music and got to work. 

Cassie’s finger hung over the ‘send’ button. How long ago had it been since she’d sent it? She wasn’t sure. 

She read the message again:’ I know about the two of you’. 

The message remained unseen by Steve. A part of her regretted sending it, the part that still loved him… even though she’d seen them together. 

Fuck it. Fuck him, the shit.

“More Cheaters coming up.” The TV promised. 

Cassie pet the cat lying next to her. “Here I am on Valentine’s Day, petting my gay roommate’s pussy, watching Cheaters all alone.” 

Cassie groaned, tapping the back of her head against the wall. 

“Sorry kitty, but I gotta bounce.” 

Cassie put on some lipstick, looking at herself in the mirror.

“Fuck you Steve.” 

Putting on her jacket, Cassie looked at the cat curled up on her bed.

“I’ll leave the TV on for you. Learn from Cheaters pal… don’t fall in love.”

Snow had begun to fall, whipped along by the wind. Cassie was in the mood to do something bad

She could head to the dance, maybe find some action there. No, all those couples… dancing… kissing.  She’d feel more alone then back in their dorm room. 

Instead, Cassie headed towards the library. 

She hugged herself as wind blew across the path, swirling snow in its wake. 

Cassie approached the sliding glass doors and peered inside. 

She knocked on the glass.

“Hello? Anybody around?” 

She shivered and knocked on the window again. There seemed to be music coming from inside. Someone had to be in there. 

“Hey! Anybody alive in there!”

“Keep it down!” A voice barked at her from inside. 

Billy glared at her from over a stack of books.

Cassie frowned. “Sorry. Jeez. Is Blake in there?”


“I’m her roommate. I gotta tell her something.” Cassie shivered. “Please.”

Billy shook his head. “Go around back.” 


Going around the back of the building, she saw the door open and the young man motioned for her to hurry up.

He slammed the door shut behind them as Cassie silently gave thanks for the heat. 

“When I invited Blake to study here tonight, I didn’t think it was an open invitation.”  

“Billy?” Cassie asked. “Blake didn’t tell me you were such a grump.”

He laughed. “I just don’t want to get my ass in trouble. This job helps pay the bills.”

Cassie looked him over. “I don’t see any trouble with your ass.”

This visibly threw him off. 

“Um, so Blake is upstairs studying. I can show you the way.” 

“No need to show me. I’ve been here before… I know her hangout spot.” 

“I’ve noticed you around.” 


A loud knock from the front of the library startled the both of them. 

“What the fuck?” Billy complained. “Are you expecting somebody?” 

“Um, no. Unless the cat followed me.” 

“Bill Murdock?” A man hollered from outside.

“Shit.” Billy said. “Stay here. Stay hidden.” Billy left the office, Cassie could hear him talking to the other man… music from the speakers obscuring some of their conversation. 

Billy assured him everything was okay. 

The man laughed, then wished Billy a goodnight. 

He came back looking harried. 

“Everything cool?” Cassie asked. 

“Yeah, just the security guy making his rounds. You better head up before someone else shows up.” 

Stu  almost made it back to the ‘security hut’ as he called it, when his phone rang. The ‘Psycho theme’ ringtone told him all he needed to know. He didn’t want to answer it… but ignoring it would be worse. 

“Hi honey.” Stu tried to sound happy as he answered. 

“What are you doing?” 

“Walking my rounds. How about you honey?” 

“Sitting here alone! What do you think?” 

Shit. Wrong choice of words. “I’m sorry baby. If I could get out of this I would. But there’s nobody else.”

“Tell me the truth. You're not banging one of those young college floozies, are you?”

“No… ” He tried to reassure her. “I never would. I love you.” Somebody giggled. 

“Are you laughing at me?” He asked.

“The hell are you talking about?”

The childlike giggle came again. This time he was sure it wasn’t his wife.

“Okay, who’s out there?” 

Another giggle from somewhere in the dark, just off the footpath. 

Stu took out his flashlight and shined it into the darkness. He expected to see a couple of the students pranking him… instead there was nothing. 

“Stu! What the hell is going on?” His wife asked.

“Sorry honey, work… got to go.” 

He hung up.

Stepping off the path, he shined his light over the snow covered ground. There was nothing out of the ordinary… but a quick flash of movement among the trees caught his eye. More giggling rung out. 

“Look, knock it off kid. Go back to the dance or the dorm.” Un-holstering his pistol, Stu approached the trees. 

“If I catch you and you’re high on something, your butt will be expelled!”

His gut instinct was to walk away. Don’t give the little punk the satisfaction of playing their game. Sadly, when it came to his job, Stu was a stubborn man… so he went forward. 

“Listen. Show yourself. I’ll take you in, you can sleep it off on the couch and go in the morning. Sound good?”

Stu was answered with the sound of glass shattering. 

“Shit. Had to do this the hard way.” 

Ahead, through the trees, Stu could see the side of the Visual Arts building. The glass of one of the ground floor windows had been broken. Shining the flashlight inside, he could see traces of snow on the dark linoleum floor. 

“So much for a quiet night.” He muttered, entering the side door.

Rounding the corner he stopped. Something was laid out on the floor in a straight line leading further down the hallway. 

Stu bent down, getting a good look at what was sitting on the floor… a little pink candy heart. 

For the first time he could remember, Stu was scared shitless. 

As much as he wanted to head back to the hut and forget this crap, he couldn’t. 

He stood, gun at the ready, and followed the trail of candy. The trail ended in front of a pair of large auditorium doors. 

Stu nudged the doors open slowly. The large room was completely dark. 

He advanced slowly down the main aisle, swinging his flashlight side to side. The light danced over the seats, pausing on each one long enough to see… nobody. 

There was only one place left someone could be hiding, the stage. The stage was made up to look like a girl’s bedroom. There was a large bed, a desk, and nightstand. 

As he walked up the wooden steps to the stage, there was an obvious shape under the blankets on the bed… a human shape.

“All right.” Stu said, gun trained on the bed. “Game’s up.”

He yanked back the blankets in one swift motion, ready to grab the little shit hiding there. 

A grinning plastic face stared up at him from the human-sized doll that laid there. 

Suddenly, pain erupted from his left Achilles tendon. 

He fell hard sending his gun and flashlight from his hands and across the stage floor. 

Stu watched as a figure slid out from under the bed and stood brandishing a bloody knife in their gloved hand. 

The short figure wore a beat up old army jacket, with a gray hoodie underneath. The hood was pulled up, hiding their face in shadows. They playfully waved at him.

“Oh god.” Stu stammered. Turning over, he crawled towards the gun. “Leave me alone!” He screamed.

Those words would be Stu’s last as the figure jumped on his back, driving their knees in, and knocking the wind out of him. Stu felt the cold steel of the blade against his throat, as that childish laugh filled his ears. 

Cassie found Blake sound asleep at her desk. 

She didn’t have the heart to wake her sleeping friend. Instead she went downstairs where Billy was still hard at work as Bobby Darin sang about the sea.

“Don’t you ever take a break?” 

“Sooner I get this done, sooner I get to go home and sleep.” Billy said, scanning a book. 

“Sleep is overrated. C’mon, take a break.”

She walked over to Billy and leaned on one of the bookshelves, trying to look as seductive as possible. 

“How’s Blake doing?” Billy asked, sounding a little uncomfortable with her close proximity. 

“Unfortunately, she’s sleeping. Now, here’s my thing. I’m having a bad night. I need something, anything to take my mind off the shit.”

She leaned in close to Billy’s ear. “So, how about taking a break?”

“Listen, you're very attractive. Don’t think I haven’t noticed. But...um, I have a lot of work here and shit.”

She kissed him on the cheek. “I can help, I’m very good with the Dewey Decimal System.”


“Oh!” Cassie exclaimed. “So not gay.” 

“Huh?” Billy looked up at her. 

“Nothing.” She said, breathing heavy. 

They were in the back corner of the library, behind a shelf of rarely used books. 

Cassie laid her head on Billy’s bare shoulder.

“I don’t do this, it’s just tonight.” She said. “I don’t want you to think I’m easy.”

“I don’t… I wouldn’t.” Billy said. “I know this is just a fluke… a one time thing.” 

“I wouldn’t say that.” She laughed. “We’ll see… okay?”


Cassie laid there feeling her heartbeat go back to normal. It was the first time she noticed the silence. 

“Record stopped.” She said.

“Guess so.” 

“How much trouble would you be in if Oldman Styles caught us?” 

“Are you crazy, he’d have my ass thrown out of school.”

“From what I’ve heard, this isn’t the first time someone got some in the library.”

“Miss Walton?”

Cassie nodded. “And Coach Greer. It’s a rumor anyway.”

Billy laughed. “It’s more than that. I almost walked in on them one night in the projection room.”

“She might have asked you to join in!” 

The pair giggled.

“Well, I got to get back to work.” Billy said. “I wish-”

Cassie cut him off, kissing him. 

“I know, duty calls.” She sat up. “I’ll go see if Blake is up.” The PA crackled with static as another record started to play. 

“How?” Cassie asked, looking at Billy.

“Only one way.” He replied. “Somebody else.” 

“Who? Blake wouldn’t, I don’t think.”

“I’ll go look.”

“I’ll go with you.”

“Stay here. If it’s the old man or Stu or somebody… I’m toast.”

He surprised Cassie by giving her a quick kiss on her cheek. She watched him hurry off, feeling a sudden nervousness. 

She waited, listening. 

With the music it was hard to make anything out. Cassie could hear Billy say something, then he yelled one word that sent a chill through her whole being.


Blake woke with a start. 

She’d dreamed of a dark figure standing behind her, stroking her hair. A great mechanical roar erupted from within it, making her jump. 

Above her the overhead heater rumbled to life.

How long had she been asleep? How much time had she lost? She’d only meant to grab a quick nap. 

Groggy, Blake fumbled for her phone, knocking over an empty energy drink.

“Caffeine, you betray me.”  

The earbuds dangled from her ears, but her phone was gone. Blake checked the rest of the desk and the floor. 

“What the hell?”

It couldn’t just be gone.

From downstairs music drifted up. Billy was still here. The music was something classical, though Blake wasn’t sure of the composer. 

Blake went downstairs, despite the music, there was an odd stillness to everything. 


The song reached its climax before going to static. Outside wind rattled the library’s large glass windows. The snow was starting to fall heavier now. 

The clock over the front desk said 1: 30. She’d slept for hours. 

“Billy.” She called out again, worry straining her voice. 

From somewhere in the library a childlike giggle answered her.

“C’mon, this isn’t funny. Stop screwing around.”

Fear climbed up her ribcage and threatened to take hold of her. A flicker of light caught Blake’s eye. Something moved in the library’s rear, accompanied by the sound of voices. 

The light was coming from the conference room. The wall mounted TV had been turned on, and a presentation on the college's renovation played to a darkened room. 

A lone figure sat, back to Blake, watching the screen. Blake walked around the side of the seated figure, before she saw their face, she knew. 

Billy sat there unmoving, staring straight ahead. A large bloody wound covered his chest. His arms laid outstretched in front of him, his hands cupped together holding something.

An offering.

A heart sat in his hands. A note was pinned to it… ‘I heart you’ written in blood. 

She ran from the room, and charged the front door, only to find it locked. 

Frustrated and scared, she pounded on the glass, but it was unwavering. 

There had to be another way out. The office, where Billy had let her in! Entering the office, Blake scanned the room, there could be somebody hiding behind one of the desks. The door on the other side of the room might as well have been miles away. 

Blake grabbed a silver letter opener from the nearest desk. She held it out like a crucifix to ward off some unseen evil. 

Blake got to the door without incident and found it locked. 


She headed back out to the main area. There must be another way out… a fire exit, something... 

She headed through the center of the library. Something slowly moved down one of the aisles, making Blake stop. 

Crouching, she slid the letter opener into her jean’s pocket. She crawled on her hands and knees, trying to get a better view. Slowly she pulled a book from the shelf, and peered through the gap, coming face to face with Stu the security guard. His body lay on the ground, lifeless, his head tilted to the side looking straight at her. 

Her breathing became louder, more ragged… threatening to give her away. 


A gloved hand gripped her shoulder. 


Grabbing a book from the shelf, Blake lashed out hitting somebody. She didn’t stay to see who. 

She ran, throwing books over her shoulder at an unseen pursuer. 

Blake ran back to the entrance, pounding on the glass. “Let me out!” She screamed. 

Enthusiastic clapping made her turn to see a figure sitting on the checkout counter, a hood obscuring their face. 

“Wow! That was great!”

They pulled the hood down, revealing a young woman with short black hair. 

“I was surprised.” The girl said, holding up a cell phone. “You have an eclectic taste in music.” 

The girl started swiping through tracks on the phone as Blake stood watching in shock.

“Some of it is good… but there’s a lot of crap.” She continued going through the songs. “Crap, crap, crap.” 

“Ooh.” She laughed. “Barracuda!” Tossing the phone over her shoulder.

“What the fuck is going on?” Blake asked.

“Why didn’t you meet me?” The girl sounded hurt. “I sent you chocolates. Would it have been so hard? I thought you were different then those others.”

Blake had seen this girl somewhere before… in the dorm or a class… maybe they’d passed in the hallway. 

The girl looked at her genuinely hurt. “You don’t remember? First day orientation? You sat down next to me and smiled. We talked about how nervous we were. Or that time I tripped? You stopped when nobody else did… helped me pick up my books… asked me if I was okay.” The girl sighed. “I’ve loved you since I first saw you. That's why I got transferred to Mr Sigmond’s class. So I could be near you.”

“You-you killed Billy because of me?” Blake felt her head spin. 

“Like the song says, the problem with me is you.” The girl jumped down from the counter. “Billy wasn’t the only one. As you saw, I killed that doofus security guard… can’t have him interrupting.” She reached into her jacket and pulled out a keychain. “Besides I needed this.” 

This was madness, Blake needed to get away… get help. She felt her heart beat faster… felt it harder to breathe. 

“You think I’ll just fall in love with you?”

“Why not? You're the only one who ever noticed me… no one else has. They ignore me.”

“Oh god, you insane bitch.”

“I’m in love.” 

“Maybe, maybe you are.” Blake smiled. “You did all this for me?”

She walked towards the girl. “I don’t even know your name.” 

“Terri. My name is Terri.” 

“That’s a nice name.”

Blake reached her hand out towards the girl. Her other hand slid into her pocket, touching the hilt of the letter opener. 

Terri grabbed Blake’s outstretched arm, pulling her along.

“C’mon! I have one last gift for you!”

They stopped at the door to old man Styles office. 

“What’s behind door number one?” Terri asked. “Any guesses?” 

Blake held the letter opener, now concealed under her shirt sleeve. What could this maniac be planning?

“No? All right.” Terri sighed, a little disappointed.  

She opened the door, to reveal a beaten Cassie lashed to Mr. Styles’ chair. Terri wheeled her out of the office. 

“Oh shit.” Blake took a step back. “What have you done?”

“Nothing… but you’re going to. See, she had to come snooping around… screw up everything. She gave Billy a pretty good screw before I killed him.”

Cassie glared at the girl. A muffled “Fuck you.” could be heard through her gag. 

“If you really, really love me, then you’ll kill her… like I killed for you.”

Terri pulled Stu’s gun from her jacket, and pushed the barrel against Cassie’s temple. With her other hand, she pulled a large knife out and tossed it onto the floor in front of Blake. 

“Two things can happen.” Terri stated. “Pick up that knife and kill her… or I kill the both of you.”

Blake shook her head in disbelief. “How would we get away with it? Your fingerprints… my fingerprints… all over everything.”

“Simple. She did it. We’d be each other’s alibi. She went nuts, killed Stu… fucked Billy… and then came after us. We killed her in self defense.”

“And we live happily ever after?” 

“More or less.”

Blake looked down at her best friend, then up at Terri. Bending down she picked up the knife and stood in front of her terrified friend. 

Terri trained the gun on Blake. “Don’t try anything.” 

Blake and Cassie locked eyes. 

“Would you just kill the bitch already.” Terri ordered. “It’s been a long night.”

Blake took a deep breath, finally in control. 

She pushed the chair into Terri with all her strength, knocking the girl down. The gun erupted as Terri fired. 

Blake fell on the girl. They struggled, and the gun flew from Terri’s hand. The two fought for the knife, until finally the knife found its way into Terri.

Terri looked into Blake’s eyes, and smiled, blood staining her lips. “She loves me. She loves me not.” Terri lamented, touching Blake’s face before letting out a groan and going limp.

Blake used her last bit of strength to cut her friend free.

“You okay?” She asked Cassie.

“Not really.” Cassie laughed, choking back tears. 

“Fuck.” Blake said, looking down at her side. An expanding red stain darkened her shirt. “I’ve been shot.”

“Hang on, I’ll get help.”

Cassie ran into Styles’ office. Blake could hear her talking to 911. 

Blake leaned against a bookshelf, looking at Terri. 

“Happy fucking Valentine's Day.” 

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Ep.69 – Good to the Last Drop - A Hot Cup of MURDER

Episode Notes

Who doesn't like a hot cup of coffee on a cold winter's morning? Well this percolator will make your coffee give you a lot more than a pep in your step, it could make you KILL.

Good To the Last Drop by Rob Fields

For more of Bella Taibon check out Episode 64 "The Last Taibon"

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

Produced by Daniel Wilder

This episode sponsored by HenFlix.com

For everything else visit WeeklySpooky.com


Adam Lester watched his girlfriend, Jarren Hatley, move around the kitchen. There were days when he really enjoyed seeing how animated she could be as she multitasked. She did it all: worked on washing dishes, tending to the stove for making both her breakfast and her lunch, wiping things down, and even making a fresh pot of coffee. She would even be able to talk to Adam as she did all these things. Adam was one of the premier basketball players on the Strickfield High School team. Adam had always been about sports from his days in Strickfield Junior High all the way to now. He even had scouts come and see him, some offering him full rides through colleges and universities. However, he would have to keep his grades up and be able to graduate. Mathematics was never his strongest subject, which was why he needed a tutor. Around football season, Adam saw a flyer on the school bulletin board that Jarren Hatley had put up about tutoring. He texted her number, got a response, and she had been tutoring him in math since their first session. Adam hadn’t planned on taking a real liking to this geek, but his overall grades were greatly improving because of her – not just math. He was so grateful to her one day that he kissed her, just intending for it to be a peck on the lips. But it ended up becoming much more. Now Adam and Jarren were an item, the talk of Strickfield High. The one thing that Adam couldn’t believe about Jarren was how much caffeine she drank. Now, she was pouring her freshly made coffee into a thermal cup to drink at school. She had just finished everything when she smiled at Adam. “Okay, done!” Adam accepted the breakfast sandwich from her, along with a kiss. The two of them were about to leave when they heard a strange noise. They both looked to see the coffeemaker making louder noises. Then it gave off a sudden surge; they saw a brief, giant spark of electricity. Shortly after, the coffeemaker was smoking. “Shit . . .” Jarren muttered. “And I just bought it last week.” “Take it back,” Adam suggested. “You still have the receipt?” Jarren gave him a look of finality before shaking her head. “Best Buy’s going to think I abused it.” She sighed. “I’ll just have to buy another one, but I’m not going to have time today.” “That’s right, you’ve got those meetings tonight,” Adam recalled. Jarren sighed. “Student council after school. Key Club right after. Followed by your football banquet.” Adam smiled and eased Jarren into his arms to give her a gentle hug. “Don’t worry, I’ll find you a new coffee pot.” Jarren looked into his eyes. “You’re not going to have time. We could make it out to Strickfield Towne Center Mall before they close at nine, but Best Buy closes at eight.” Adam caressed the side of her face. “I’ll get you your coffee pot tonight. That’s a promise.” They kissed one more time before they left her house and went to school. *                    *                    * After the football banquet, Adam and Jarren couldn’t get out of Strickfield High fast enough. Adam drove them out to Strickfield Towne Centre Mall. By the time they had pulled in and parked, Adam saw that Jarren was sound asleep. “Probably hit the wall,” he mumbled to himself. He wanted to wake her up, but she looked so peaceful that he just let her sleep. He got out and went into the mall. As Jarren had said, Best Buy had closed at eight. There were only a select few other stores open. Adam shook his head to himself. He couldn’t believe this mall was still open. There were so many vacancies, especially after the holidays were over. He kept expecting to come to the mall and see it finally closed for good. Still, it continued to stay open. Adam moved past the food court, which only had a Subway and a mom-and-pop pizza place. Just thinking about food made him think about Denoyer’s Grill. He checked out the rest of the mall, but he wasn’t having any real luck. There was one last store down where Radio Shack used to be. “Tinker’s,” he muttered. “What have I got to lose?” He walked to the store and went in. He couldn’t believe all the odds and ends that were there. Just then, a man in his late forties approached him. “Can I help you, young man?” Adam shrugged. “I hope. My girlfriend’s coffeemaker crapped out on her this morning, and I promised her I’d get her another one – tonight.” The man smiled. “Well, my good man, you’re in luck. I just happen to have one right over here.” The man took him to what appeared to be a percolator. Adam gave the man a look of uncertainty. “She’s more of a Mr. Coffee type person. She wants her coffee as soon as she gets out of bed. I mean, she lives on coffee – and energy drinks.” “I do have energy drinks in the cooler by the cash register, but I’m afraid I can’t help you in terms of an automatic drip coffee maker.” The man raised his finger. “However, your girlfriend will never have to worry about electricity with this percolator.” He lowered his finger. “Unless she’s using electric . . . ?” “No, her dad made it so her house either runs on natural gas or burning wood.” He took a deep breath. “How much?” “Hey, no pressure, son.” “I know, but I want Jarren to be happy and have her coffee in the morning. Maybe she can learn to appreciate this. If not, I’ll get her what she wants tomorrow after basketball practice.” The man took the percolator, and they went to the cash register. A few moments later, he quoted Adam the price. “Twenty dollars.” “Twenty dollars?! For this thing?” Adam raised his hands in front of him. “I mean, this thing’s gotta be an antique.” “And you are right. However, you look like your heart’s in the right place with wanting to get this for your girlfriend. So for you . . . twenty dollars.” Adam dug out his wallet. 

Adam knew that Jarren’s dad would be uneasy if he brought her home as crashed as she was. Adam carried her from his car and into his house, after he unlocked the back door. He carried her up to his room and laid her down in his bed. After covering her up, he went back downstairs to close and lock everything back up. As he was about to lock up his car, he saw the percolator he’d just bought from Tinker’s and picked it up. Adam went back inside. After locking the door, he decided to see how the percolator worked. He found a quick video on YouTube and knew he could easily make morning coffee for Jarren. 

The next morning, Friday, Jarren yawned and woke up. She saw she was in Adam’s room and turned to see Adam sleeping in the recliner next to the bed. She yawned again and moved to wake him up. Adam opened his eyes, and she kissed him. “Good morning.” “Hey,” he whispered. “You all right?” She nodded. “I could really use some coffee, though.” Adam raised his finger. “Say no more. I bought a percolator for you last night. We can try it out before we leave for school. Why don’t you go take a shower? I’ll head downstairs and make your coffee.” They kissed again. Then Adam watched as Jarren got some fresh clothes out of the two dresser drawers that he let her use for when she’d stay the night. Adam yawned, staggered out of his room, and walked downstairs. 

Jarren came down freshly dressed and accepted the mug of hot coffee from Adam. “I never made coffee before, baby, so I hope you like it.” Jarren didn’t hesitate and took a drink. Then she looked at Adam. “This is really good.” Adam gave her a weird look. “Really?” “I’m serious. This is delicious.” She took another drink. “Very strong – just the way I love it!” Adam wasn’t the cook that Jarren was. All he had to offer her was prepackaged food from the cupboard. She accepted a pack of Pop Tarts and opened them to enjoy with her coffee. Adam poured her some more and topped off her thermal cup that he had washed before going to sleep. 

Adam and Jarren had a little time before class, so they sat in the cafeteria and talked about whatever. It wasn’t long before Adam’s fellow jocks approached him. The truth was that Adam never really cared for any of them, especially when they showed their obvious contempt for Jarren. “Can it wait until class?” Adam demanded, without so much as looking at them. Brent Haskel snickered. “I don’t know why you put that ho before your bros, man.” Then he looked at Jarren. “Get the fuck outta here!” Adam was ready to get up and stand up for Jarren. Much to his surprise, Jarren immediately stood up. She looked at Brent with such a sharp glare; Adam had never seen this look from her before. “Why don’t you make me, asshole?” The other jocks laughed. Then Brent leaned in. “I’m sorry, I don’t think I heard you, geek.” Jarren didn’t back down. “Yes, you did. You know, this school must be pretty desperate for a basketball team if they’re letting just any dumbasses play for them. Correct me if I’m wrong, but you haven’t even won one single basketball game!” Apparently, Jarren’s stating of the obvious was too much for Brent’s ego, because he grabbed Jarren and raised his fist to hit her. As Adam was about to fight him, Jarren struck first. Still glaring at him, she raised her right hand – with lightning speed – and dug her long fingernails into the side of Brent’s face. She seemed to take great pride in dragging her nails down his flesh, making him scream and bleed fast. The other jocks were about to attack Jarren, but several teachers were quick on the scene. Brent Haskel kept crying out as he continued to bleed from his face, blood dripping on the floor. 

When Jarren opened the back door of her house and walked in, she saw her father waiting for her. “You wanna tell me why the fuck Principal Van Diest just called me to tell me that you’re SUSPENDED?!” Jarren took a drink of coffee from her thermal mug, finishing it. She didn’t even seem to care that her father had just yelled at her, as he had done so many times before during her life. “Yeah? And . . . ? Sure, it’s quite all right for a guy to try and beat me up, right? But when I strike back, oh fuck no! Nooooooooooo! That’s never fucking okay! You’re just supposed to be quiet and –” Her father lashed out and slapped her so hard that she fell onto the kitchen floor. Then he pointed down at her. “Don’t you ever talk to me like that in my house!” Jarren glared at him and slowly stood up. She put her hand on the side of her face and felt the heat her father had just inflicted on her and knew her face was red. Lowering her hand, she said to her father in a deadly whisper, “This is the last time you ever put your hands on me, you son of a bitch!” Without warning, she grabbed a knife out of a nearby cutting block and went at her father. He screamed as she stabbed him, making him bleed fast. Then she stabbed him a second time! A third! A fourth! Again . . . and again! When her father was lying dead in a pool of his own blood, Jarren laughed maniacally before she licked the blood off the knife. After she growled in satisfaction, she decided that she wanted some more coffee. Since the coffeemaker was still wrecked, she remembered the percolator at Adam’s house. 

Adam had been depressed after watching Principal Van Diest yell at Jarren. When she stood up and turned his desk over, he pointed to his door and yelled that she was suspended and for her to, “Get the hell out! Now!” What had happened to Jarren? She was always such a sweet girl. He knew that she had it rough growing up, being raised by an abusive father. Still, she had always kept her head high. She was the best thing that had ever happened to him. It wasn’t until the day’s events had unfolded that Adam realized that he truly loved her with all of his heart. He wanted to call her, but Jarren didn’t own a cell phone. Her dad wouldn’t let her have one. He decided that he had had enough of seeing Jarren suffer. He was going to go and get her and bring her to live with him. He would protect her from her father if push came to shove. He decided to stop at home first. He noticed the snow was starting to come down and remembered the blizzard that was forecasted for the weekend. When he walked into his house, the strong smell of coffee filled the kitchen. Jarren was sitting at the table, wearing one of Adam’s football jerseys, and drinking her coffee. “Hi, honey.” Adam quickly sat across from her. “Jarren, are you okay?” Then he saw the red mark on the side of her face. “Oh, my god . . .” Jarren took his hand and another drink of coffee. “I’m fine, babe. Just fine now.” Her face appeared more sinister. “Daddy’s not a problem anymore.” Then she looked to the percolator. “Have some coffee. Just made it fresh. It’s really cold outside, especially with the blizzard here now.” When Adam declined, Jarren shrugged. “More for me.” Adam took her hand. “Listen, you don’t have to worry about your dad. You can stay here with me – as long as you want.” She squeezed his hand. “I told you . . . he’s not a problem anymore.” She nodded to the window. “You sure you want to be cooped up with me during the blizzard this weekend?” “I don’t want you to go,” Adam replied. Jarren finished her cup and put it down. Then she stood up, came over to Adam, and sat on his lap. She gazed into his eyes. “I want you.” They kissed passionately. After a while, Jarren got off Adam’s lap. She took his hand and waited for him to stand up. Then she led him upstairs to his bedroom. 

It was Wednesday morning before Strickfield High School could reopen. Adam and Jarren walked in holding hands. Many eyes turned to Jarren. She no longer wore the clothes people were accustomed to seeing her wear. Her hair was dyed red and was frizzy and wild. Her clothes now showed off her tapered legs and skinny figure. Adam didn’t know what to make of Jarren’s new attitude – or her makeover. She seemed like her old self when they were together all throughout the blizzard. Jarren stopped just in front of the principal’s office. “Here, hold my coffee.” She handed Adam the thermal mug and marched right into the office. Principal Van Diest hadn’t expected Jarren to burst in . . . literally burst through his door. The principal pointed to her. “You aren’t supposed to be here! I suspended you for two weeks!” Jarren stood in front of his desk, raised her arms, and slammed her fists down. Principal Van Diest couldn’t believe that skinny Jarren Hatley had just destroyed his desk. She glared at him now. “Let me make this clear to you, asshole. I come and go when and where I please. You want to keep pissing me off, I’ll be glad to put you through another desk. Seriously, I am so sick of your fucking shit! How many times have you let bullies run rampant here, while you punish people like me?” She pointed at him. “That changes today! You hear me?!” Principal Van Diest raised his arms in front of him as Jarren grabbed him and lifted him right off his feet. She glared into his eyes. “Don’t fuck with me!” Then she dropped him back into his chair, turned around, and walked out. Jarren smiled with glee as she took her coffee back from Adam. “All settled . . .” The two of them hadn’t walked ten feet from the office door when it slammed open. The principal burst out and pointed right at Jarren. “You are expelled from Strickfield High School! Leave here now, or I’ll call the police!” Jarren stopped. She chugged the rest of her coffee before she handed the mug back to Adam. She turned around and flexed herself, causing loud cracks to come from her neck and back. Then she gave Principal Van Diest her evil glare again. “You just don’t listen to reason, do you?” Before Principal Van Diest could yell another word, Jarren grabbed him. Easily lifting him up and over her head, she threw him several feet down the hallway. He might have crashed right through the windows of the cafeteria had he not been caught by someone else. When he felt himself being put back down, he turned to see the blonde girl who had caught him. Next to her was Eileen Donnerly, whom most everybody knew as Einstein. He knew Eileen, but he had never seen the blonde girl who now looked even meaner and angrier than Jarren Hatley. “Principal Van Diest, what is going on?” Eileen asked with surprise, in her mousy voice. Suddenly, Jarren was right there. She grabbed Principal Van Diest with one hand and shoved the blonde girl so hard that she flew back and through the gymnasium doors. Then she shoved Eileen so that she fell hard onto her rear. “Now . . . Matthew, where were we?” Jarren sneered. “Jarren, stop!” she heard Adam calling out. She didn’t seem to hear him. “I’m going to put you right through these fucking cafeteria doors. Then I’m going to put you through every goddamn table.” Suddenly, Jarren felt Principal Van Diest being snatched away from her. The blonde was back. She put the principal back down and snapped at him, “Get the fuck out of here!” When Principal Van Diest moved away, the blonde turned to Jarren. “You just made a huge mistake, you fucking skank. Nobody puts their fucking hands on me like that. You want to fight?! Let’s fight!” “Bells!” Eileen called out to her. Bella Taibon quickly turned to Eileen, yanked her up, and pushed her next to Principal Van Diest. “Get him the fuck away from here, Einny.” Jarren grabbed Bella and attempted to throw her, but Bella was ready for her. Much to Jarren’s surprise, Bella was quite strong herself. Jarren found herself being thrown into the gym now. She landed on the floor and slid to the halfway point of the basketball court. Bella marched right in shortly after. “I seriously do not need this fucking shit, this morning!” Bella snapped. “First, I had to spend the last several days in this motherfucking village during that blizzard! Then I have to wear these fucking clothes just to be able to come to school!” She yelled over her shoulder. “A fucking schoolgirl outfit?! Really, Einny?” She glared at Jarren. “Now I’m in a fucking school. And I have to deal with you first thing this morning? What, did you put your fucking tampon on wrong or something?” Jarren screamed like a banshee and ran at Bella. The two girls met and started trading punches. Bella could easily have avoided Jarren’s fists, but she wanted to know what sort of a supernatural being she was dealing with. When Bella determined that Jarren was just a human, she started taking more of the offensive. Bella lifted Jarren off her feet and threw her into the bleachers. She crashed through them and groaned. Jarren was quickly back on her feet, both bleeding and bruised now. She screamed at Bella again as she came out from inside the bleachers. Then she ran at Bella again. Bella knew that she couldn’t unload anymore on this girl, as much as she wanted to. Despite having the strength and powers of a thousands-of-years-old Master Vampire, she would have to subdue her without killing her. Bella snatched Jarren and wrestled her to the floor. The two girls wrestled one another. Bella couldn’t believe that this human was so strong. Just by seeing the crazed look on Jarren’s face, she knew that Jarren was on something. She had seen many addicts in the past. While Jarren certainly wasn’t on drugs or alcohol, Bella knew there must have been some magic or potion that was making Jarren extraordinarily strong – and crazy. Bella was especially annoyed at the people who came into the gym just to snap pictures or take videos of the fight. No one would ever see it, thanks to Bella’s inability to be photographed. But in the hallways, students would call it the geek girl vs. the bad schoolgirl. Bella focused and took the defensive as Jarren threw fist after fist at her. She hoped that Jarren would tire and become easier to subdue. When she saw that this wouldn’t happen, Bella snatched Jarren and took her down to the floor. She wrapped her legs around Jarren’s midsection from behind and locked Jarren’s upper body in a full nelson type move. Jarren screamed and struggled to break free, but Bella was far too strong and could keep Jarren in her place. Bella held her incapacitated for several minutes. “Stop this!” Bella yelled. “Now!” “Never!!” Jarren screamed. Bella soon realized that Jarren’s strength would never diminish, but she had one more trick up her sleeve. She released Jarren and watched her get up. She came right at Bella, which was what Bella counted on. She snatched Jarren and held her so that she could lock eyes with her. Bella never really liked using her glam on people, but this was one time where it was warranted. Jarren felt herself under Bella’s spell and quickly became weaker because of it. Soon, she fell to the floor and went right to sleep. Eileen and Adam both came into the gym. “Bells, is everything okay?” Eileen asked. When Bella was sure that no one else could hear them, she answered, “I glammed her. I don’t know how long she’ll be out, but we need to lock her up somewhere where she can’t hurt anyone.” Adam knelt down next to Jarren. He took her hand and wondered what had happened to his beloved. In fact, that was what Bella wanted to know. She snatched up Adam and glared at him. “What’s she on? You better talk to me. I really don’t want to have to glam you.” Adam protested again and again that he really didn’t know. Bella believed him and put him down. She didn’t let him go, however. “Sorry, boy, but you leave me no choice.” Adam felt himself sink into Bella as she glammed him to her will. Being that she was a Master Vampire, she knew that she could go even further with her glam. She could actually peer deep into Adam’s mind and see everything that he had seen. She looked upon the last week. Then she came to the memory of him visiting Tinker’s at Strickfield Towne Center Mall. And then Bella understood. After removing the glam from Adam, the three of them waited as Jarren was strapped down tightly to a stretcher and taken away. Adam was ready to leave with the paramedics to be at Jarren’s side, but Bella stopped him. “Not so fast!” she snapped. “We’re going to your house first. I want to examine that percolator you bought for your girlfriend.” “But . . . !” Adam started to sputter. Then he sighed. “Okay . . .”

Adam, Bella, and Eileen walked into Adam’s house through the back door. Bella immediately spotted the percolator and opened it. The remaining coffee inside was still hot and smelled strong. Bella uttered a brief incantation and discovered that this was no ordinary coffee pot when it gave off a feint red glow. Bella turned to Adam. “How much of this fucking shit did your honey drink?” Adam sighed in exhaustion. “I really don’t know . . . Jarren drinks so much caffeine.” Bella closed her eyes and stifled a groan. Then she opened them. “Okay, we’ll assume she drank quite a bit, based on what we’ve seen from her.” Then she poured the remaining coffee down the drain. “Is something wrong with that coffee pot, Bells?” Eileen asked. “Oh . . . nothing much,” Bella replied. “The metal body is made with traces of Olde Bloodstone – that’s Olde, with an e on the end. Not the kind of shit you want falling into the wrong hands.” “Isn’t that a birthstone?” Eileen asked. “Take the Olde away, and you’ve got the birthstone,” Bella replied. “Keep it in, and you’ve got some potentially dangerous magical properties that come from it.” Bella turned to Adam. “Your girlfriend’s coffee was tainted with it. There’s a fucking good reason why Olde Bloodstone goes great with a percolator. The tainted coffee brought out whatever pent-up emotions your girlfriend had. Now, it can be good or bad, depending on the person. Say you would have drank the tainted coffee, and you being hopeless romantic, it would have made you appreciate love that much more. You’d even be able to score most any girl you wanted. But in the case of your girlfriend . . . She must have had some really scary shit happen to her.” Adam explained about how Jarren had gone through many years of abuse at the hands of her father. Then he finished with, “She was always such a cheerful person whenever I saw her. When I finally met her dad, I knew right away something was off about him.” Bella looked a little sad now. “I’m really sorry, Adam. Your girlfriend drank all that tainted coffee. It brought out all the pent-up rage that had been building up inside her over the years. The more she drank, the more she percolated. Until she couldn’t take anymore and started lashing out. Like I said, Olde Bloodstone goes real fucking good with a percolator.” She got serious and looked him right in the face. “Now . . . let’s take a little trip to this mall of yours.” *                    *                    * Adam’s jaw dropped. “I’m telling you, Bella, it was right here. I’m not making this up! The store was right here – where the old Radio Shack used to be. Right here!” Bella looked at Adam. “I believe you. When I glammed you, I saw the store called Tinker’s. It made me think of a certain motherfucker named Eisley Tinker. See, he’s known and renowned in the supernatural world for fixing and rebuilding things . . . only he likes to add something . . . special to them to make supernatural shit happen. I ran into him some sixty years ago. Even now, Tinker’s still a slippery son of a bitch. He must have known people would be coming and . . . poof! No more fucking store! The problem is . . . we won’t know where Tinker will turn up next.” Just then, Adam received a call on his smartphone. It was from Strickfield General Hospital. The more Adam heard, the more his emotions lifted. “Yes, that’s great! Oh, thank you! Thank you so much!” When Adam hung up, he looked to Eileen and Bella. “Jarren’s going to be okay. She’s sleeping soundly. She’s going to be kept at Strickfield General until she’s gone through her caffeine withdrawals.” Then he groaned. “But how will Jarren ever be able to come back to school? I mean, a lot of people saw what she did. And then there’s Principal Van Diest . . .” Bella sighed. “Sorry, honey, but I can’t possibly glam that many people. I can glam Principal Van Diest so that Jarren isn’t suspended anymore, but the rest will be up to her.” “Thank you,” Adam said. Bella knew that Jarren Hatley would be okay, but what about the other lives that Eisley Tinker had claimed? Bella was even more upset now that she couldn’t leave Strickfield knowing that her old enemy had returned. Sooner or later, Tinker, you’re going to fuck up. And then . . . you’re fucking ass is MINE!!

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Ep.68 – Careful What You Wish - Only Death Comes From This Genie

Episode Notes

Penn and Ed are an unlikely pair who encounter and ancient evil from the deserts of the middle east, how can they stop something with the limitless power to grant any wish?!

Careful What You Wish by David O'Hanlon

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Penn reached for the doorbell. His finger hovered over the button as it had the last two times he tried to bring himself to ring. He sighed and jabbed the button. Ed’s face pressed against the glass of the nearest window. Penn chuckled at the sight of the freckled, buck-tooth face smiling excitedly at him. The door opened and Penn was greeted by a far-less enthusiastic individual. Penn shifted uncomfortably. He didn’t look like an ex-con in his new jeans and custom polo shirt, but he felt the same way he did every time he was pulled in for a police lineup. Ed’s mother, Janet, held an obese chocolate-point Siamese cat against her chest and stroked it like a movie villain while she eyed the man on her doorstep. Janet slipped her robe up over her shoulder and raised an eyebrow. “You’re Ed’s friend?” Penn shifted the brown paper bag into his left hand and extended the right. “Yes, ma’am. I’m Penn.” “Been in a few too would be my guess.” She waved him inside. “You’re going to let the other cats out.” Penn stepped inside and glanced around the restored Brownstone. Three tabbies lounged on the furniture. A Maine Coon lifted its head from the arm of the recliner to survey the new arrival to its domain. The cat was seemingly unimpressed by Penn and went back to sleep. Penn turned to Janet. Ed had told him his mom used to be a famous model, but the horrible marriage and subsequent vodka-and-valium-based diet hid the fact now. Janet looked like she should be bumming smokes outside a 7-Eleven. Penn felt a tinge of guilt. He knew better than anyone not to judge a person by their circumstances. She dumped the Siamese onto the loveseat and straightened her pajamas before pulling her robe closed and tying the belt tightly around her slender waist. “Don’t you think it’s weird hanging out with a ten-year-old boy?” Janet snapped the elastic from her bun and let her brown hair fall as she walked past him and into the kitchen. She grabbed a glass from the dish strainer and banged it onto the countertop. “You’re like thirty, after all.” Penn shrugged. “So are you.” “Thanks for rubbing salt in that wound.” Janet poured orange juice into a glass and reached for the Popov bottle atop the fridge. “You can have something to drink if you like. Lactose-free milk, sugar-free Kool-Aid, caffeine-free tea. We even have the shitty soda that lacks all of the above.” “I’ve got a water bottle in the truck, but thanks.” “Cut the shit, Penn.” Janet sipped from the bottle before pouring a splash into the juice. “The boy’s allergic to everything. No one hangs out with him because they want to. The last date I had was four years ago and Ed broke out in hives because of the guy’s cologne. He has to wear a dust mask to walk through the living room because of the cat hair. The inhaler, the EpiPen, anxiety meds, and Allegra for sinuses. Seizures at the movies, motion sickness at the fair, panic attacks at the mall. There’s nothing you can do with him. Ed shouldn’t even go to the park, or wherever it is that he spends his time. What do you really want with him?” Ed sneezed around a corner. Penn wasn’t sure where the boy was, but knew he was within earshot. Janet’s eyes flicked toward the noise and back to Penn. Calling her son a loser clearly wasn’t outside the norm. Penn’s fist tightened, crumpling the paper sack noisily. “Healthwise, there’s a lot of things wrong with Ed. Everyone else sees those conditions as things that make him weak. I see them as the reasons he’s got such a big goddamn heart.” Penn stepped closer to Janet and took the glass from counter before she could drink it. “They’re Ed’s conditions, but you’re right, they do interfere with your life. You have to take the extra precautions and I bet that’s exhausting.” “Don’t you patronize me!” “I’m not. Honestly. I can’t imagine what you’ve had to sacrifice to protect him, but that doesn’t change the fact that Ed doesn’t get to be a kid.” Penn chugged the screwdriver and scowled at the aftertaste. He cleared his throat. “What I want is take him for the weekend so he can experience a sleepover, watch cheesy horror flicks, play too many video games, and eat a fuck-ton of red-and-green gummi worms with his friend the way regular kids get to. And you can go to the spa, or the mall, or a date, or at least to a liquor store with better vodka.” “You are one ballsy sonofabitch.” Janet huffed and put her hands on her hips. “Thank you for noticing, but let’s keep this professional.” Janet’s face slipped into a smile for a brief moment, then the serious, judgmental glare returned. “You want to know what’s in it for me?” Penn shrugged. “Ed’s the only person that’s ever seen anything good in me. I want to return the favor. I want to give him the experiences he should be having and as an extra bonus, I’m giving you the weekend off.” “He’s got school Monday.” Janet took the glass from Penn and jabbed the rim into his chest. “You have him home by seven Sunday night or you’ll be the one with medical conditions.” “Whoo-hoo!” Ed shouted from around the corner.

Ed climbed into the unmarked moving truck and clicked his seatbelt. Penn handed him the brown paper bag. “I don’t think your mom likes me,” he said. “To be fair, mom doesn’t get enough guests to know how to like people.” Ed uncurled the lip of the bag. “What’s this?” “A present, obviously.” “Presents don’t usually come in brown grocery bags, Penn.” Ed giggled and pulled out a black polo shirt. “Hey! It’s like yours.” “Exactly like mine,” Penn said as he tapped his own embroidered pocket. Ed found the chest pocket was identical and featured a stitched moving truck in green thread and gold letters surrounded it—Ed and Penn Moving Services. Ed reached into the bag once more and pulled out a lunchbox. He opened it and found a bag of gummi worms, a sandwich, two juice boxes, and a protein bar. Ed smiled sadly. “What’s wrong?” “I’m too weak to help you move things.” “People have little things to move.” Penn tussled Ed’s shaggy hair. “Besides, you don’t get stronger by not trying. I used to be scrawny.” “Really?” “Really. And look at me now.” Penn flexed, straining the sleeve of his shirt. “How do you think I got this strong?” “Because you had nothing to do but workout when you were in prison?” Ed answered chipperly. “That’s entirely true, and also not my point.” Penn pursed his lips. “Even if you can’t help with the physical part all the time, I’m going to need someone to help with all the business stuff. They don’t teach book keeping in the joint. And you have to help me paint the truck.” Ed sat up quickly. “Any color?” “Of course. Ready for our first job?” Penn held out his fist. Ed bumped his knuckles against Penn’s hand. “Absolutely, partner.” 

Crumbs rolled down Ed’s shirt and joined the others in his lap while Penn lugged the mattress up the loading ramp and into the back of the truck. Penn was right and the couple had lots of little things for Ed to load. Still, he felt bad leaving the heaviest stuff to his friend. He shoved the rest of the sandwich into his mouth. “Is there more?” he asked between bites. “Yeah, but not much.” Penn pointed to one wall of the truck. “Think you can move those boxes over in front of the dresser? There’s a big curio cabinet and two footlockers that I think would be more stable there.” “Sure thing!” Dahlia patted Penn’s shoulder as he hopped out of the truck and rested her hands on the bumper. “You’re a good helper.” “Thanks,” Ed said. “You have a lot of cool old stuff.” Dahlia laughed. “Oh love, this isn’t ours. My grandfather was a bit of an adventurer once upon a time.” “That’s so cool!” Ed scooped up a box and set it on top of the dresser. “So, this is all his treasures?” “Some of it. After my grandmother passed away, Poppa Harp became a hermit and most of it just stayed here collecting dust. My daddy used to tell me all his stories. I’m sad to say I never got to meet the man, myself.” “That does kind of suck.” “Kind of.” Dahlia tugged at a violet braid and twisted it around her fingers. “Not knowing him means I get to hold onto the hope that some of the magic in those stories might actually be real.” “Oh, magic is very real.” Ed smiled knowingly. “Where is all of this going?” “I’m sending it all over to a colleague. They’re going to sort it and sell it for me.” “Why not keep it?” Dahlia laughed sweetly. “Oh, I’d love to, but there’s just too much of it. The hubby and I are moving to New York. We found us a cute little townhouse… the operative word, being little.” “That’s too bad.” Ed lifted an ornate bottle from one of the boxes. “This stuff is really nifty. I’d love to hear the stories about each one.” “Maybe you will, love. I’ve got a book deal with a big publisher up North. I’m going to write all about Poppa Harp and his adventures.” “I can’t wait to read them.” “I’ll send a signed copy to you and your dad,” Dahlia said with a smile. “Oh, Penn’s not my dad. He’s just my best friend.” Ed’s face soured. “By default.” Dahlia cocked her head. “How’s that?” “He’s my only friend, so I guess he has to be the best one.” Ed stared at the bottle in his tiny hands. “Well, now you got two, Ed.” Dahlia smiled at him. “I got to pack up a couple more boxes that I think would fit perfectly right where you’re working. I’ll be back in a tick.” Ed leaned on the dresser and turned the bottle in his hands carefully. Raised figures around the vessel were carved from the green glass itself. Ed stepped toward the back of the truck and viewed it in the sun. “Nifty,” he gasped as the glass changed to brilliant red in the direct light. Figures bound to one another formed an unending chain near the base of the bottle above a silver cap cut to resemble flames that engulfed them. A cutout figure towered over them with a staff in his hand and the neck of the bottle was shrouded in a silver sleeve with intricate engravings of stars over the man. On the opposite side of the bottle was another figure bound by a giant snake with a hood over his head. He turned the bottle upside and felt the weight shift. Then held it up to light to discover it was empty. He shook it again, feeling the invisible contents bouncing about. “No freakin’ way.” He rubbed his thumb over the constricting body of the serpent and tucked the bottle away in its box as he heard the dolly bounce off the front porch. “This is so cool.” It took another forty minutes to load the rest of the things and say goodbye to Dahlia and her husband. She got Penn’s mailing address to send the book like she said and tipped both of them in cash for their hard work. They were cruising down the backroads to avoid the rush hour traffic. Ed turned up the radio and bobbed in his seat to Iggy Pop’s ‘Butt Town.’ Penn laughed at the boy and threw up his horns before headbanging along with the music. Ed exploded with laughter. Neither of them was aware of the happenings in the back of the truck. They couldn’t hear the glass snake’s body fissuring or the tiny pieces falling away from the hooded figure now free of its reptilian restraints. They couldn’t smell the acrid, semi-sweet fumes spilling over the lip of the bottle as the building smoke forced the cork up. Penn checked the time on the dashboard clock and grunted. “What’s wrong?” Ed asked. “I was hoping we’d have this all dropped off before dark so we could go to the park and get those hotdogs you like so much for dinner.” “If I had helped more, we might have been done faster.” “Don’t do that. It’s not your fault. It’s our first gig, we’ll get faster.” He shrugged. “Besides, there’s a place nearby that has huge coneys with every topping imaginable.” “Like?” “They’ve got one call the Gut Buster where the dog is inside onion rings in a cheese toasted bun and drowned in chili.” “Sweet! I think I’ll have two of those.” They both laughed. “Can we go to the mall?” Ed rubbed Dahlia’s twenty-dollar tip between his fingers. “Sure, we can do whatever you want, kid.” He squeezed Ed’s shoulder reassuringly. “But I thought you didn’t like the mall.” “I’ll take an extra anxiety pill.” Ed hung his head. “I want to find mom a perfume I’m not allergic to.” Something thumped in the back of the truck. “Shit.” Penn slapped the steering wheel. “I forgot to strap the mattress down.” Penn pulled over and unbuckled. Ed’s eyes grew wide as he realized the source. “Don’t go, Penn. It’s not much further.” “It’ll only take a second, kid.” Penn winked and stepped out, skirting the side of the truck in case of passing cars. Ed clamored out of the truck and watched as Penn rolled the door up. Penn sniffed the air and fanned his hand in front of his face. “Why’s it smell like a fucking opium den?” he asked no one in particular. The ornate bottle clattered along the metal floor of the truck and rolled off the end. Penn caught it before he could hit the ground. He sighed and held it up for Ed to see. “The mattress must have knocked over a box. Probably some old timey cologne that stinks,” he said. “How many years have I been captive?” A set of glowing eyes shined in the darkness. Penn knelt next to Ed. “I thought magic had to have a battery.” “What do you think you’re holding?” Ed whispered. “What is the price of my emancipation, master?” The thing in the back of the truck’s voice was a rumbling hiss, like steam through rusted pipes. “What is owed of Babak?” “Master?” Penn looked at the bottle quizzically and snickered. “Is that what I think it is?” “Yes and no,” Ed gulped. The speaker came forward. His body adorned in a silk cloak with strands of gold that shimmered in the setting sun. Wrinkled hands curled at the ends of the flowing sleeves before reaching up and pulling the hood away from his face. A sweeping, gray mustache covered his entire lip and swept out in grandiose curls. “Do you free me without obligation?” Babak asked. “You’re a fucking genie!” Penn exclaimed. “An ifrit,” Ed corrected. “The master is learned,” Babak said. “Speak quickly. I have been gone too long.” “Not until you grant us three wishes, though,” Penn said. “The Law of Suleiman binds me to one.” Babak held up a single finger. “I am free of my glass prison and now bound only by the hesitation of the master’s words.” “I’ve seen enough horror movies to know how this turns out. I wish you were back in the bottle,” Penn said. “It was the boy who set me free. He must make the wish.” “Wish him back in the bottle, kid. It’s not worth the risk.” “I wish I wasn’t a burden,” Ed blurted. “Fuck!” Penn waved his hands in the air. “Nope. That doesn’t count. He’s just a kid. He doesn’t know what he’s saying.” Babak twisted one side of his mustache and grin menacingly. “It is done.” Ed doubled over with a screech and collapsed to the gravel shoulder. Penn dropped to his knees and hugged him close. Ed’s fever was growing fast enough that Penn could feel the heat rising off him. “What the fuck did you do to him?” “He will be a burden no longer.” Babak shrugged. The ifrit burst into flames and flashed overhead, streaking upward and flying above the city like a comet. Penn lifted Ed and hurriedly put him in the cab of the truck, shut the back, and climbed behind the wheel. “Don’t worry, Ed.” Penn pulled onto the road in a wide u-turn across traffic. “I’m going to get you to the hospital and then I’m going to go beat the shit out of that genie.” “Ifrit,” Ed said weakly. “The hospital can’t help me.” “Hospitals can fix anything,” Penn lied. “The ifrit were created from the first flame in the universe.” “How do you know this shit?” “I read a lot.” “You should be reading Dr Seuss or something. Not… I don’t know.” Penn waved his hands. “Not whatever the hell you’re reading.” “Dad didn’t leave me any of those. He left me books on magic.” “I thought you said your dad was some scumbag talent agent.” “He left because he wasn’t my real dad. Mom had too much to drink and told me. It was my fault too.” “No, that doesn’t make it your fault. Your real dad is probably much cooler and that guy was just a chickenshit. Not the point right now.” Penn shook his head. “If not the hospital, then what do I do to save you?” “Get Babak to go into the bottle.” “Easy enough.” Penn grabbed his phone out of the console and pulled up the internet app. He steered with his wrists so he could type faster in the search bar. “Where are we going?” Ed wheezed. “He called the bottle a prison. Getting out of prison is something I know a lot about. When someone gets released, they want one thing.” “A woman?” “No!” Penn looked at Ed incredulously. “That’s the second thing. First comes real food. There’s only one place that serves Middle Eastern cuisine in this part of Oklahoma.” “Get him back in the bottle.” Ed broke into a coughing fit, spattering blood across the glovebox. He laid over and put his head on Penn’s leg. “It’s not your fault if you don’t save me, Penn.” Penn stroked Ed’s hair—strands came loose and clung to his fingers. He pressed the accelerator down to the floor.

The truck crashed through the front of Saffron Palace, sending patrons of the restaurant fleeing in all directions. Penn stepped out of the cab and slammed the door, pointing the bottle at Babak, who sat at his table completely unbothered by the destructive entrance. “You can get back in the bottle or I’m going to jam it up your ass,” Penn warned him. “You’ve worked so hard, please,” Babak gestured to the seat across from him, “join me for my first meal.” “I’m not asking.” Penn sat the vessel down. “You in the bottle, or the bottle in you.” Babak combed back his white hair and shook his head. “You cannot threaten me any more than a louse threatens a camel.” Penn slugged Babak square in the nose, shattering it and tipping him over in his chair. “I figure that magic lamp is like solitary confinement. The guys in solitary get soft. They can’t take a punch.” Penn kicked the ifrit in the ribs. “Now get in the fucking bong!” Babak’s mustache smoldered. The bittersweet smell of opium trailed from the glowing ends as he rose to his feet. Penn backed away slowly. The threads of Babak’s robes ignited and the garment fell away from his naked body as ash. Penn lifted a chair over his shoulder. Babak’s mouth stretched open until his jaw unhinged and continued to stretch wider still. His voice emanated from deep within him. “I am that which was created before all else. From the first flame, I took my life. You, child of the mud, are born in my shadow,” he said. “You suck at talking shit.” Penn lunged forward, swinging the chair at Babak’s face. A fiery cloud launched from Babak’s maw and engulfed the furniture. Penn let go and jumped back, gasping at the remains already scorched to a cinder between him and the ifrit. The creature laughed. Smoke oozed from his pores. Yellow-brown perspiration dripped from the wiry hairs of his broad chest. The glow returned to his eyes and his skin combusted. Babak clutched Penn’s arms, searing his flesh and tossing him effortlessly across the restaurant. The fiery figure stalked the room, leaving burning footprints in his wake. The ceiling tiles darkened overhead. Penn crawled under a table, only for a fireball to set it ablaze. He shot from beneath it and ran to the kitchen as more flaming orbs streaked past him and ignited the furnishings. Penn pulled his shirt over his head to examine his wounds. The creature’s handprints were black spots of charred flesh. “Jesus, I look like a fucking Whooper.” The plastic swinging doors melted into a puddle as the ifrit pushed through them. Babak turned slowly to face Penn. “Where is your bravado now, little louse?” he growled. “You know what the hardest thing about getting out of prison is?” Penn asked, looking around the kitchen for a weapon. He grabbed a large, curved knife and pointed it at Babak. “Enlighten me.” The ifrit touched the point of the knife. The blade glowed intensely until the tang cooked through the handle and Penn tossed it aside with a shriek. He continued moving away from the walking inferno. “The hardest part is knowing the whole fucking world went on without you. Everyone lived their lives, moved on and did their own thing.” The creature paused and cocked its head. “This is true.” “Everything changes when you’re locked up. No one gives a shit that you’re gone and the world isn’t the same when you come back. So much shit has been invented that you can’t keep up. Bet you never even heard of ANSUL.” Penn grabbed a pot and slung the boiling oil at the ifrit. The liquid flared to life, burning everything in its path. Secondary fires flashed around the kitchen. Babak’s laughter boomed. He stepped toward Penn and raised an accusatory finger. A gout of flame speared outward and contorted into a flaming sword that stopped inches from Penn’s face. Then the ANSUL fire suppression system engaged. First came the high-pressure blast of chemicals that extinguished everything, followed by the blanket of heavy foam that knocked both combatants to the floor. Penn pushed himself up and slipped about until he got his footing. He spat the non-toxic, but non-tasty, foam from his mouth. Babak sobbed on the floor in a quivering mass beneath the white, sudsy blanket. His flesh was charred from the fire-suppressing agents. “Let’s get you back in the bottle.” Penn grabbed Babak’s arms and the burnt flesh stripped away in his hands. “Eww!” The ifrit curled into a fetal position as his cooling skin crumbled and broke away leaving a human-shaped briquette on the floor. “Fuck!” Penn kicked the corpse and it shattered into soggy ash. “You weren’t supposed to die. I need you to fix Ed!” Something stirred among the debris that used to be Babak’s ribcage. “What the shit?” Penn knelt to inspect the movement. He dug his fingers through the slog, revealing a green, fist-sized, orb stretching open within the ifrit’s body. The red poppy petals pushed through and twisted open. The petals shuddered and the oversized flower moved shakily across the ravaged organs beneath it. Penn touched the petals. The flower twisted violently and the four, vice-like fangs buried deep into Penn’s hand. He jumped back, howling in pain. The fake flower lost petals as Penn shook his arm violently, revealing the creature whose back it grew on. Its spindly legs fought for purchase as it was slung back and forth. Penn banged it against a counter top, freeing himself from its bite—at a cost. He grimaced at the exposed bone before reaching for towel to wrap around the wound. A cowering cook ran past Penn and into the wrecked dining room. Penn ignored him and followed the monster’s tracks through the foam and out the service entrance to the alley beyond. He groaned. The overhead lights left pools of piss-yellow light between the restaurant and the neighboring building. “Come out, Babak,” he called. The ifrit did not oblige. Thin digits caressed Penn’s bare shoulder and squeezed the tense muscles sending a ripple of goosebumps up his spine as he whirled around. The creature wasn’t there. Just the cook. The diminutive Iranian man glared at Penn from behind thick lenses that occupied entirely too much of his dark face. The man held up the magic bottle. “You forgot this,” he said softly. “It seems to be missing the cork.” “Shit. I hadn’t thought of that.” Penn took the bottle. The man reached into his white smock and produced a cork of his own. He held it up, showing Penn the burned in hexagram on its wide top. “I think you’ll find this one fits perfectly.” The man scampered away. “The fuck am I supposed to do with the bottle?” The cook stopped at the door. “Put the ifrit back inside. Do you know nothing?” “As a matter of fact, I don’t.” The cook rolled his eyes and sighed. “Ifrits don’t like light. Flush it out, nail it to the earth, invoke the name of Suleiman and return it to its vessel at once to undo any wish it has granted. It is not that difficult.” The man disappeared inside and slammed the door. Penn’s shoulders sagged. He put the cork between his teeth and pulled out his phone, flipping on the flashlight. “Okay. I got light and a bottle. Where do I get nails? I don’t see a hardware sto—ooh! Motherfucker!” Penn cast the light down and found the source of the sudden pain. He lifted his foot and, with it, the broken slat of a pallet. He slid down the brick wall and pried the board loose. The rusted nails squeaked as they passed through the rubber sole of his boot. “Oh good, now I have nails.” He panned the light around. Nothing moved. He tilted the phone under the dumpster beside him. The monster screeched and lunged from its cover, attacking the phone, and knocking it to the ground. It scurried away and Penn crawled after it until he could get his feet under him and run. The thing’s ten legs carried it much faster than Penn could hobble. It cleared the alley and found itself in the glare of a streetlight. The ifrit screamed again and bolted around the building. Penn rounded the corner and searched for the thing. Then he saw the back of his truck sticking out of the side of the building. Ed was slumped against the tires—his clothes saturated with sweat and his face void of color except for the explosion of freckles. A clump of hair blew away from his head on the breeze. Bloody spittle dripped down his chin as his body spasmed with weak hacks. Penn slid to the ground beside him. He hugged the boy and stroked his cheek. The fever was gone, but Ed’s skin was deathly cold in its wake. “Come on, kid. You saved me. Stay alive long enough to let me pay you back.” “It’s okay,” Ed moaned. “At least I’m with my friend.” Penn wept as the boy fell limp against him. The ifrit shimmied out from under the truck and stared at the two humans with its beady, red eyes. Its fangs spread in a clicking-hiss that sounded like perverse laughter. The monster moved forward slowly, crawling across Ed’s wilted form. It watched Penn cry, but the man didn’t move. Babak took tentative steps onto his thigh and then stood tall and repeated the evil cackling. “What’d you call me, Kazaam?” Penn sniffled. He wiped his nose on the back of his hand, still clutching the broken board. “A ‘child of the mud,’ wasn’t that it?” Babak blinked each of his six eyes. “Guess that makes me part of the earth.” The board met Penn’s thigh with a sharp, wet smack. Babak squealed beneath the wood, with the nails pinning him in place. Penn pressed the board down harder and spat the cork into his free hand. He placed the hexagram against Babak’s face. Smoke roiled at the contact of the divine symbol and infernal flesh. “In Suleiman’s name, get the fuck in the bottle.” The creature’s flesh vibrated, shifted, and burst into a cloud of brackish smoke that swirled down the neck of the ornate glass vessel. Penn stuffed the cork into the top, sealing the ifrit within. His head thumped against the tire and he hugged Ed close. “I’m sorry I was late, kid.”

Janet adjusted the flowers in their vases. Her hands shook as much from stress and heartache as from the lack of a drink. She hadn’t had a drop since Penn returned without her son. She wouldn’t touch it ever again. Ed only ever had one friend, but the flowers seemed to come from everywhere. Even some lady in New York sent some. It seemed all the time Janet spent in a bottle, her son spent touching the lives of others. None of them were his friends. Just Penn. The rest sent cards explaining how Ed helped them. How the words and smile he shared touched them. She reread the cards and broke down in tears again. Penn placed a hand on her shoulder. She slapped it away. “I never knew what he was doing when I’d send him away,” she said, holding up the cards. Penn took them and flipped through the stack. He’d read all of them several times. “Ed told me magic is just a toy without a battery.” He set the cards next to the flowers and took a bag of gummi worms from his pocket. He’d picked all the other colors out to leave only Ed’s favorite red-and-green ones. He put one between his teeth and slurped it up before offering them to Janet. She smiled softly and plucked one from the bag. “What’s that even mean?” she asked. “Ed shared his magic with people that needed it. He got that from somewhere. Maybe you fucked up in how you showed it, but you still loved him or you wouldn’t be crying in a bag of gummi worms with me. That was the battery to his magic… love.” “They still don’t know what happened,” Janet said. “Severe allergic reaction,” a small, Middle Eastern man said from behind oversized glasses. He stepped into the room and slapped the iPad against his palm. “Possibly something found in the secondhand moving blankets inside Mister Pennington’s truck.” “Pennington?” Janet glanced up at Penn. Penn pointed at the man. “You’re the cook.” “Obviously not, since I am clearly the doctor.” He nodded happily. “And you are Casper Marion Pennington, are you not?” “Wow. Your parents hated you,” Janet said. “Yeah.” Penn pinched the bridge of his nose. “I am.” “You should be more careful of the things you allow a boy to play with,” the doctor scolded him. Ed turned away from the harsh glare of the overhead fluorescents with a groan. “Mom? Penn?” “About damn time you woke up, kid.” Penn rubbed Ed’s shaved head. “How are you feeling?” “Like I was in a car crash.” The doctor cleared his throat. Penn squinted at him then turned his attention back to Ed. Janet shoved him out of the way and snuggled her son. Penn sat on the corner of the bed and dug in his pocket with a groan. The skin grafts were tight and pinched. Ed pushed his mother’s hair out of his face. “Mom, you’re smothering me.” “I’m sorry, baby.” She kissed his cheek. “For so much.” Penn put his hand on her shoulder again and this time she let it stay. “Good thing you woke up when you did,” Penn said. “Why’s that?” Ed asked as excitedly as the recently resuscitated could. “Because you almost missed the coolest, most fun holiday there is.” He handed Ed a narrow box with a ribbon around it. Ed opened the box and smiled, holding up the prize inside. “I can’t believe I forgot.” “That’s right kid, it’s National Kazoo Day.” The End

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Ep.67 – Adam's Tale - Vicious Bloody Terror Comes in Small Sizes!

Episode Notes

On a camping trip Adam learns that bears and wolves aren't the most dangerous creatures in the woods, something else is coming and it's hungry for blood!

Adam's Tale by Joe Solmo http://pennedinblood.com

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In another time, the cool, damp, night air would have felt good on Adam’s drunk face. The moonlight shone between the thick branches of an ancient maple tree only feet away. It might have been a mile away as far as Adam was concerned. It was the pine tree he worried about. The pine tree that he could smell but not see. Its rough bark dug into his back as he struggled with the bonds that held him in place. How he got here was some sort of mystery. The woods he remembered. A party he remembered. Camping with friends was the last thing that he remembered. Where were they now? Did one of them do this? Where was Felicia? He tried again to turn his head to get a better view of his surroundings, but he still couldn’t move. Something was around his forehead keeping him against the hard, rough bark of the tree. He strained his ears, listening for some clue that could give him answers, but the only sounds he heard were a rustling in the branches above him in the trees. At first, he was alarmed but relaxed after realizing that whatever was up there, was too small to give him trouble. It was the animal that tied him up, that he was most interested in, anyway. “Are you out there?” he asked the night and listened. No response. He knew the man had to be out there somewhere. “Hello?” Adam called out to his captor. Frustrated, he kicked his feet, disturbing the bed of pine needles. That was when he heard the snicker. In the shadows of the maple in front of him something moved. A flash of orange light illuminated a face Adam had never seen before as it lit his cigarette. Who was this guy? “Who are you?” Adam asked, straining to see in the dark. “Let’s not worry about that now. You won’t be around long enough for us to get acquainted. It’s near midnight. The witching hour and all that,” the stranger said, waving his cigarette around as he talked. “Where are my friends?” Adam asked. “What did you do to them?” “I didn’t do anything. All I did was set the plate. Everything has to eat,” the stranger mumbled. “What the fuck does that mean? Untie me!” Adam said. “Why would I do that. Today has been going great so far. The best in a long time. They will be pleased.” Adam struggled against the bonds that held his arms behind his back, nearly dislocating his shoulder in the process. He grunted with the effort, which made the stranger laugh. He approached Adam and kneeled down, making intense eye contact with Adam. He got so close Adam could smell the man, a combination of cigarette smoke, sweat and halitosis, but the man’s icy stare kept him from retching from the smell. There was a timelessness in those eyes. He was only two inches from Adam’s face now. Too close for Adam. “Save your strength for the screaming, there will be lots of screaming,” he said and cracked a smile. He touched Adam’s cheek with his lit cigarette. Adam yelled out and tried to twist out from under the burning cigarette, but the iron clad grip on his head wouldn’t let go. He cried out into the chilly night again and again as the man burned him. Each touch a shock of pain on his cheek. “Yeah, like that. I think you will do fine,” the stranger said and laughed. In the distance a wolf howled, followed by another. Adam’s eyes widened. “Don’t you worry about them, now. Even they won’t come here,” the stranger said and flicked the rest of his cigarette at Adam. “This here is a special place. It’s time I head on out. They don’t like to be watched. This should buy my farm some time. They oughta leave me alone for a year at least.” “Who?” Adam said, but the man wandered off into the darkness without giving him an answer. He heard the wolves again and wondered if that was going to be how he died, torn to pieces by wolves. What was it the stranger said? The wolves won’t come here? Why not, he thought. He could smell the cigarette still burning and thought about it catching the bed of pine needles all over the ground on fire. He had a morbid question cross his mind. Would he rather die in a fire, or eaten by wolves? He almost laughed at the idea of getting a choice. He wondered if the wolves like Bar-B-Que. A half hour passed, the cigarette burned out and the wolves didn’t get any closer. He could still hear them howling out there in the forest somewhere. His cheek hurt from the stranger’s cigarette burn barrage and he wished he could look at it in the mirror. He heard sound of a small animal rustling in the dead leaves somewhere in front of him, near the maple tree the man had been standing by. He wished he knew why this was happening to him. The maple tree reminded him that the path beyond it leads to an old natural chimney. A rock formation that leads down into the earth. He had found out about it on a hiking app and he convinced his friends to come out here to hike and camp, but where were they now? He hoped they were ok. Adam thought his hand was going numb, the pins and needles sensation was beginning to set in, but then he realized it felt more like tiny little bites. He wiggled his fingers, and felt something furry run across his hands. What the fuck was that? Another nibble on his fingertips. “Ouch, you fucker!” he said and wriggled against his bonds as hard as he could, and to his surprise he freed his hands. He quickly worked on whatever was tying his head to the tree and wriggled free. He stood up and turned around to find a chipmunk sitting there, considering him with its black eyes. “You the one that bit me?” he called out and kicked at the rodent. It easily dodged his foot in the moonlight.  Adam rubbed his cheeks and tried to get a good idea of his surroundings. If the large maple was there, then camp must be this way, he thought and headed off in that direction trying to work the cramps out of his muscles. The little chipmunk hopped after him on the forest trail, keeping its distance. With all the roots and rocks, Adam stumbled through the woods while trying to make it back to camp, twice he almost fell, his hand was covered in mud and sticky pine pitch. He wiped them on his pants as he continued through the wood. He could just make out a fire ahead in the distance. It must be his friends! He called out to them. “Felicia! Jacob!” He got no response. He stumbled into the clearing, but he didn’t see anyone. His tent was on the other side of the dying fire, he went over to it and opened the flap. Felicia was inside, wrapped in her sleeping bag. They must have gone to sleep, he thought. He climbed into the tent and shook her, but she didn’t move. She was always a heavy sleeper. He poked her harder and lit the small battery powered lantern they use on camping trips. “Wake up! We have to get out of here!” he said. Finally, she was stirring he thought as he watched her swallow and turn her head.  “Come on!” Her mouth opened and a chipmunk climbed out, his face a crimson mask of Felicia’s blood. It squeaked twice and ran past him to the tent opening where another one was sitting watching him with those cold black eyes. “What the fuck is going on?” he called out and looked back down at Felicia. He shook her again, and got a better look at her. Her mouth was agape and he realized with horror that she had no tongue. He turned towards the doorway and saw that now there was about a dozen chipmunks standing there on hind legs watching him. The one with the bloody face took a step forward. “We are Tamias,” the bloody one squeaked. “Tamias,” the rest chirped in high pitched unison. “I’ve fucking lost it,” Adam whispered to himself and shook his head. “We demand payment for the transgression,” the chipmunk said. “Payment must be made. We demand it. The deal cannot be altered.” “I have no idea what you are talking about. What did you do to Felicia and Jacob?” he asked. Then started to laugh as he realized he was having a conversation with a chipmunk in a tent next to his dead girlfriend. Did he forget that he ate a bunch of mushrooms? “Two hundred cycles ago the deal was made. This land, our land to be shared. For a price. The blood price must be paid. A life for each season that passes, and we would share our sacred forest with the man and his kin. The most fertile land for his food to grow. Waters that grant a long life,” the chipmunk squeaked. The moonlight lit the orbs that watched him above its chubby cheeks. “I don’t understand,” Adam said and charged the entrance to the tent. The chipmunks scattered out of his way. He turned towards the tent and started to tear up as he glimpsed Felicia through the tent flap. The Tamias formed a circle around him, keeping out of kicking distance. “Human. You are the blood price. You and your friends must be given to the Tamias. The price must be paid!” the spokesperson for the chipmunks squeaked angerly. “You’re not going to get me. JACOB!” he yelled trying to get his friend to wake up. Maybe together they could escape this nightmare. “You friend is with the Dux Tamias. He cannot hear you,” the bloody chipmunk said calmly. “You will meet him soon yourself. The time draws near. The price must be paid.” “You can’t have us!” Adam yelled and ran to his friend’s tent. He ripped open the tent flap and jumped back at the horrid scene he saw inside. There was a chipmunk the size of a St. Bernard in the tent digging into his friend’s flesh, blood was everywhere. The large rodent turned to face him, an entrail hanging from its mouth, the soft tissue stuck between its elongated rodent teeth. He heard the patter of the chipmunk’s feet as they approached behind him. He backed out of the entrance to the tent, retching from the smell. “Dux Tamias, he is the sacrifice,” the bloody faced one squeaked and saluted the large beast. “It is promised. The blood,” the largest said leaving the tent. There was a shine of intelligence in its black eyes. “The blood,” the bloody one said. The rest of the chipmunks crossed their arms in salute as well, then returned to all fours. “Oh, fuck this nonsense,” Adam said and punted the closest chipmunk across the campsite. He turned towards the big one. “You want some of this?” he said angerly. “You are the promised. Bring the bowl,” The Dux Tamias said in a deeper voice that still squeaked and the bloody faced chipmunk ran off with two others. Adam looked around for a weapon. He saw his hiking staff near his tent. He worked his way over to it, keeping his eyes on the Dux Tamias. “You going to pay for this,” Adam said picking up the hiking staff. He pulled off the rubber tip that covered the metal spike underneath. He brandished it like a sword, pointing the tip at the Dux Tamias. “The bowl, the blood,” rang squeaky chipmunk voices as one. The bloody faced chipmunk returned with the others dragging a stained wooden bowl. The Dux Tamias stepped closer to Adam, a sneer crossed its adorable chubby cheeked face. “Stay back. I’ll skewer you and all your little friends. Roast you over the campfire,” Adam said and swung the staff at the large chipmunk. “Just like picking up trash!” he said and stabbed down, impaling one of the chipmunks who let out a chilling death squeak. The rest of the chipmunks circled Adam and started to squeak in unison to their approach. A marching cadence of the chipmunk army’s approach. Adam swung and knocked a chipmunk over. He turned towards the large one that was getting a little too close for comfort. He felt the weight of a few of them climbing up his legs, and tried to swat them off. That’s when the big one jumped on his back, knocking him to the ground. He hit his head on something hard and got dizzy. The Dux Tamias stuck its face close to Adam’s. “In two hundred years we have not gone without the blood. We will not now. Know this human. Your blood will satiate a hunger in us that is almost impossible to control. It keeps your species safe. It’s a noble thing, you are doing,” it squeaked. “The Blood. The bowl,” bloody face chipmunk said and dragged the bowl closer. The chipmunks all climbed on his back. He body was growing weak. Did he hit his head that hard? “By now the enzymes in our saliva have worked into your bloodstream. I am sure you remember a few nibbles back in the forest, yes?” came the voice behind him. Panic began to set in. For the first time Adam was worried for his own safety. Numbness took over most of his body as they moved the bowl under his cheek. He felt the Dux Tamias bite into his neck, and then the warm trickle of his own blood run down into the bowl. He couldn’t turn his head to see, but he felt the chipmunks leave his back and heard them slurping from the bowl. The Dux Tamias moved its form in front of Adam. It was hard for him to concentrate. The corners of his vision began to turn dark. He tried to focus on the dog sized rodent in front of him. That was when he noticed all the chipmunks were lined up in front of him like a buck toothed firing squad. “The Blood. The Life,” they all squeaked from the hole between their adorable chubby cheeks. Their black eyes flashed red before they charged him. He was helpless to stop it, Needle teeth tore into his face. He might have screamed just before darkness took over and he succumbed to the chipmunks will. 

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