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– Halloween –
NO STRINGS ATTACHED
“Please come over? I swear I’m so freaked out right now… I don’t want to be alone.” She cupped the phone handset like it was her life’s blood. She wriggled lower into her bed covers so she was hidden up to her neck.
“C’mon, you’re not that scared of a dream. What’s really going on?” her friend Sarah yawned.She had been sleeping soundly before Madison’s ring tone (Bukowski) rudely shook her awake.
“It wasn’t a dream. That’s what I keep trying to tell you. I’ve seen this same guy in, like, six different dreams. Each time, he’s disposing of a woman’s body. I swear, Sarah, he looked around like he knew I was watching him. It was so creepy–and so real. I don’t think it was a dream at all. What if he can follow my trail? What if it was like a two-way mirror? Sarah, what if he can find me?”
Madison sounded like she was about to have the mother of all anxiety attacks, her friend surmised. “Okay, tell me exactly what happened in this one. Spare no detail. Just close your eyes and tell me the dream,” Sarah instructed. She was out of her bed now, pulling on leggings and a tunic sweatshirt in the dark as she hugged the cell phone between her face and shoulder. She had dropped her phone three separate times doing the same stunt and now the glass was all cracked and crazed; she held it together with a screen protector so she could stop cutting up her fingers.
“Not until you’re here. I’m afraid to conjure his image at all, Sarah. I’m worried he might see me, somehow. It’s almost like there is an invisible tether between the two of us. I think he knows the tether is there, but he hasn’t found it yet. Every time I think of him, every time I dream about him, I think it gets him closer. I’m afraid, Sarah.”
Sarah jumped into her Sanuk flats, placed a scribbled note on her pillow for Mike, and grabbed her bag and car keys. “Okay, I’m walking out the door. I’ll be there in five,” her friend promised.
“Thank you, Sarah. I’m sorry to get you up in the middle of the night. Please tell Mike I’m sorry I woke him.”
“Are you kidding me? Nothing wakes that man once he hits REM sleep. Crap, he slept through the earthquake.”
“Okay, well anyway, I’m really sorry, but I really appreciate this, Sarah.”
“Forget about it,” she tried with her best New Jersey accent. “I’m in the car now so I gotta hang up. I’ll be there in a couple of minutes.” She changed her tone to one of untimely cheerfulness and added, “think about baskets of Pit Bull puppies.” She disconnected the call and hit the gas.
They were stretched sideways across Madison’s queen bed. Madison glanced at the alarm clock as she passed the joint back to Sarah. It was 2:35 in the morning. They both were supposed to be at work tomorrow, although Madison was contemplating the use of a sick day. She couldn’t face all of those kids with no sleep. The smoke was calming her anxiety attack, though. She no longer felt like her heart was beating too fast. She sighed.
“Oh my God, I’ll never be ready for this,” Madison answered quietly.
“Come on, close your eyes and, you know, fly, float, or whatever it is you do; let go. I’m right here.” Sarah soothed.
“Okay.” Madison’s eyes closed. “The first time I saw him he was pulling clothing and crap out of a big, dusty trunk in what looked like an attic space, and I’m pretty sure there was a body wrapped in cellophane, laid next to that trunk. I just didn’t know what I was seeing at the time. The next time I saw him he was in, like… I guess it could have been attic space too, but it was long and narrow and had sharply-angled drywall floor-to-ceiling on one side. There was a bank of mullioned windows all across the other side that looked out upon the roofs and penthouses of neighboring buildings; it was eerily pretty. The moon was full and it cast strong white light upon him—and that’s why I saw the plastic-wrapped… thing. He was laying the parcel down in front of the windows.” She squeezed her eyes tighter. “I saw hair… brown; I saw polished nails… a hand had broken free of the plastic casing. I think she was wearing acrylics.” She felt her friend grab her hand and squeeze it gently.
“Tell me what happened this time, Madison. What did you see?”
“Okay. I was sort of floating, I guess, over someone’s backyard. It’s a pricey neighborhood. Um… there’s a built-in swimming pool and pretty landscaping with stone, Birds of Paradise, and Malibu lights. There’s a sliding glass door from a master bedroom; it’s open. There’s gauzy, white tab drapes stirring in a slight breeze. Then I see him. He has a cocktail in one hand and he is standing at the edge of the pool. He’s kind of handsome, in a scarred and rugged way. Nice body, too. He seems so relaxed… so normal. Now I see the woman…” Madison was back inside her dream, even as an urgent voice inside her head begged her to stay away. “A really pretty woman in a white, one-piece swimsuit just passed briefly in front of the slider and curtains. She’s fussing around her bedroom, readying herself for him.
“He just heard her close a dresser drawer. He’s turned away from the still water to watch her brush her hair into a high ponytail. His free hand is traveling to the small of his back where he’s reaching for something… uhhh!” Her quick intake of breath whispered as it escaped her. At the exact moment of Madison’s exclamation of horror, the killer suddenly looked all about the backyard. “Oh, no! He heard me!” At that, the killer looked up into the air. “Oh my God, did he just hear that, too?” Now the killer drew a bead on just one spot in the air above him, and a slow, wicked smile seeped across his face. Madison quickly imagined herself reeling in an invisible tow rope before the killer reached for it—for her. This was too slow! She imagined she held a knife as wicked as the one the killer sported, sheathed at his belt in back; she sliced through that tether, quick and mighty. Her eyes popped open.
“What the hell? What was that?” Sarah’s arms and legs had sprouted gooseflesh.
“I swear he heard me. He looked around when I caught my breath. And when I asked aloud if he heard that, he zeroed in on the air above him; Sarah, I swear he looked right at me.”
“Wh… what did he do when he saw you?” her friend was now trembling.
“He smiled. He just smiled.”
“What did you do?”
“I tried to reel in the tow rope. I think I was too slow. I imagined myself with his knife, and I cut the cord. But, Sarah, I think I was too slow. He saw me, I just know it.”
“Jesus, Madison.” Sarah was no stranger to her friend’s weird psychic bouts—she’d known her since the fourth grade. “Do you think he can follow your… string?”
“I don’t know. I was hoping that by following his string, I might get some details that would tell me who he is, or where he is, or who his victims are. I’m just not getting very much and I’m worried he’s learning more about me with each try.”
“What do you mean? He may know what you look like, but he has no idea where in the world you are, right?”
“I don’t know. It was the way he smiled, like he knew something.” She turned around to see what was behind her; her eyes surveyed the wall. She saw nothing tell-tale on her vanity, nothing identifying on the wall about the mirror, either. And then she saw it, in the mirror: Palm Dessert Pre-school Calendar 2013. There stood Sarah and Madison with their class; their names listed below… pretty much everything a serial killer needs to find his next victim. Madison turned back slowly to her longtime friend. “Sarah, do you think he could see the calendar?” Madison’s voice took on a husky quality.
“No, I don’t. This is silly; he could be in Belize for all we know.” She held her friend’s stare. “You know I’m right.”
“Okay. But you’re going to stay here for the rest of the night, aren’t you?” Madison’s bottom lip actually quivered.
“Of course, Sweetie. I have my overnight bag and everything. We’ll go in to work together, okay? That is, if we can get some sleep now.”
Madison checked her wristwatch; the lunch period would end in about ten minutes and after that, story time. The day was so pretty it had the power to chase away the black clouds of her nightmare from the night before. Invisibly tethered to a serial killer? Sometimes even she didn’t know where she got such goofy ideas; she looked over at her best friend, smiled, and shook her head at her own silliness. Sarah seemed to understand exactly what Madison was thinking, and smiled back.
Madison’s head jerked up at the command. Wait! That command issued from inside your head! Her mind screamed just a fraction of an instant too late. Her eyes locked onto the same dead eyes of the killer from her dreams. He stared at her from across the playground; he lifted something he had draped over the palm of one hand, something she couldn’t see… something invisible. With his other hand, he mimicked an invisible pair of scissors and sliced right through that invisible string.
JUST A BITE OF CANDY ON HALLOWEEN
By T.R. Heinan
|Tom Thibodaux was the first uniformed officer on the scene. Until he saw the body, he thought the call would turn out to be another Halloween prank. That’s what he told Homicide Detective Bart Pellerin. The two cops stared down at the bloody corpse as the crime scene crew finished taking photographs. Every cop present was asking the same question. “What happened to the rest of her face?”|
After returning to the station, Pellerin played back the tape. A “demon” killed a girl on Governor Nicholls Street next to the Lalaurie Mansion. At least that’s what all five callers told the 911 operator. None of the callers had actually seen this “demon,” but that’s what the only eye witness kept screaming. The flurry of cell phone calls weren’t going to be much help.
Even with half her face missing, it didn’t take long to get an initial identification of the victim. Her name was Candice Boggs, a student at Tulane. According to her boyfriend, Candy had become obsessed with a new television series about Delphine Lalaurie. She wanted to take a haunted walking tour on Halloween night and see the building people in New Orleans call THE haunted house.
The only person who would admit to witnessing Candy’s death was a drunk who called himself Pauley. Pellerin would know his true identity in a few minutes, after his prints were scanned. Pauley was beyond intoxicated, so Officer Thibodaux was keeping an eye on him in Interrogation Room #3.
Pellerin watched boyfriend Steve Iverson in Room #2. The young man was nervous and his mood appeared to shift from confusion to anger to extreme grief and back to confusion, in the span of less than two minutes.
“What happened?” Pellerin asked Steve in a calm, controlled tone of voice.
“Candy took a photo when our tour group was standing on Governor Nicholls Street. It showed an orb in front of the Lalaurie Mansion,” said Steve.
“A ball of light in the photo,” Steve tried to explain. “Sort of a big deal for people into ghost hunting.”
“And Candice was into ghost hunting?”
“She loved all that paranormal stuff. Can you take these cuffs off me?”
“Maybe in a few minutes. Why is it that you didn’t see what happened?”
“Our tour group had rounded the corner onto Royal Street so the guide could explain the front door of the mansion. It has all these odd carvings. Candy ran back to see if she could get one more orb picture.”
“So she went back to Governor Nichols Street and the rest of you were on Royal, is that right?”
“For a few minutes, yes.”
“Then what?” asked Pellerin.
“This drunk guy came around the corner screaming at us.”
Pellerin was about to follow up with another question when a knock signaled that Officer Thibodaux was outside the door. Pellerin walked out to the hallway to see what the uniformed cops had learned.
“Our witness is Paul Jefferson,” Thibodaux said in a low voice. “Been in and out of every rehab in New Orleans. He’s useless. Delusional. The tour guide thinks the girl left the rest of the group and disappeared around the corner. The ticket agent for the tours doesn’t even remember her.”
“Boyfriend probably bought the tickets,” said Pellerin. “So, tell me about this demon.”
“Pauley says he was having a drink on the sidewalk when a ball of light appeared over the Lalaurie house. Says the girl came around the corner with a camera, from then on it just gets weird.”
“Weird, how?” Pellerin asked.
“He says the light grew in size, turned into a fourteen foot tall female with bat wings, bit the woman on the face and then vanished into thin air. I’m gonna ask him for a blood sample. See what else he’s on besides booze.”
Pellerin scratched his head and asked, “So what do you think happened?”
“Boyfriend did it,” said Thibodaux. “It’s always the boyfriend.”
“The tour guide says he was with the group.”
“The guide thinks he saw him, but none of the rest of the group remembers whether he went with her or not. All they recall is Pauley running around the corner screaming about a demon.”
“Maybe,” said Pellerin, “but her face looked like it was bitten by a shark. How long did it take for you to respond to the call?”
“Less than two minutes,” answered Thibodaux.
“So where is the rest of her face?” We talking about an eye, and a chunk of flesh, bone and brain larger than my fist!”
“We’ve searched everywhere, not a trace,” said Thibodaux. “I don’t know how, but that kid did it.”
“Detective,” the desk sergeant called out. “You better hear this. Caller says a creature from hell is attacking a taxi driver in front of the Lalaurie Mansion.”
T.R. Heinan is the author of L’immortalité.
The Night of Reckoning
By Micki Peluso
Vera dreaded the night. Each October 31st, the dark shadow grew closer. Soon the demonic essence would claim her. All her magic, herbs and chants were useless against it. Scorpio, her pit bull/poodle mix with high intelligence and a killer instinct would be no match for what came closer and closer each Halloween Eve. Lord, how much longer must I suffer until the wicked marauder whisks me off to his evil lair? What have I done to deserve such threat of future eternal torture?
“Gram, why don’t you believe in Halloween?” asked eight-year-old Tyler. “It’s my favorite time of the year. I’m gonna be dressed in black like the grim reaper.” His blue eyes gleamed with anticipation.
“That’s nice,” his grandmother replied, trying to sound enthusiastic for the boy. “Come for treats before sunset tonight. I’m going to bed early.”
“Okay, Gram. Save me some Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, and don’t let the goblins get ya.” He jumped off the front porch laughing at his own joke.
How she yearned to share his excitement on Halloween Eve. It was once her favorite holiday, but no more. When did it begin? She knew exactly when. It was on a Halloween night when Hank and she had the terrible fight. He had accused her of flirting with the local butcher, which she denied, admitting only to being alluring enough to secure the best cuts of meat. The argument raged on through the evening, when Hank suddenly grasped his heart and fell to the floor. Vera tried hard to resuscitate him after she called 911, but it was futile. She mourned her loss, certain that their quarrel had killed him. Then the dreams began, growing more terrifying as each Halloween neared. The nightmares were never clear, just a black clawed hand beckoning and the scent of evil wafting over her. Her heart pulsated wildly through her chest as she felt haunted by fear and guilt… it would be the death of her.
Halloween arrived with all its costumed, hidden faces. She handed out candy until evening, but then refused to answer the constant ringing of the doorbell. Scorpio laid by the entrance, growls rumbling from his throat. It seemed to go on forever, until the children gave up and went to other houses. The night was nearly over and she could finally rest.
Sudden rapping on the door made her jump—who would pound so loud? she wondered. It awoke her from a deep dream of Hank, one that was so realistic she reached out to touch him. He was telling her that his death was not her fault. He had kept something from her; his heart had been failing for many years. She felt his love wash over her body, mind and soul. That pounding! Why now when she finally felt liberated by years of torture, knowing this dream would wash away the nightmares?
Vera slowly rose from her bed, ever dutiful. She donned her bathrobe and apprehensively walked to the front door. If death greeted her now she was no longer afraid. She even looked forward to it, knowing Hank awaited her with love. The door creaked as it opened–a figure clad in black, holding the scythe of the Grim Reaper stood poised before her.
“Hi, Gram!” Tyler said. “Sorry I’m so late.”
A Path of Destiny
Jagged tones of lightening cracked in deafening volume followed by the rumbled claps of thunder. My body thinly protected in black polo shirt and khaki pants, shivered and trembled in trepidation of the menacing darkness. Freezing rain whipped across my face sharply stinging my checks, as tears fell from the corner of each eye with every rip of intensity.
It had commenced as a warm, sunny autumn day, the sort that teases you with hints of summer now passed. I, Arthur Barnes, Jr., began my travel to Zeznabar Castle, deep in the Canadian forests. Winter caretaker of the grand structure; this was a job I relished. I’d had great success and recognition in this particular field of service, mainly due to my love of preserving structures and antique relics of the past.
Not knowing the outline of the land, I’d managed to over react to a sharp turn in the extensive winding road leading to my destination. Pitifully, my once pristine 1962 Fiat was now set firmly against an unforgiving large Maple tree, smoke escaping from under the mangled front hood. You’d think at thirty-seven years of age, I’d known better than to set off on foot in unfamiliar territory. Hindsight is always a fools’ observation indeed.
Night fell instantaneously. The storm hit without warning and I stumbled from the edge of the road, propelled under the ancient, crumbling servants building. My blonde covered head hit the ground; blue eyes searched the landscape, lower body hinged beneath the rocky composition of the unyielding structure.
Time had not meaning; each second a minute, each minute an hour, each hour a day, each day an eternity.
Is it my imagination as I glance up to see small movement of wings, tongue protruding from a wide-mouth, lips smacking for this creature’s next meal?
Author, Monica M. Brinkman
Column: A Touch of Karma
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