Previously on… Father Death (21)

1998

Stu walked along the beach. The dry sand depressed between his toes, and the neck of a beer bottle dangled in his fingers. His wavy hair bounced on the sea breeze. The sun prickled on his smooth and warbled skin, the lines and scars that drew his features thankfully into a new face.

The tropical air radiated warm, but it was autumn. Stu could feel the falling edge that only existed in his mind. His body clocked the approaching anniversary. It tracked it every second of every day. Just as he saw Billy’s disappointed face every morning when he opened his eyes.

Stu took a swig from the bottle and continued to walk along the shoreline. The waves rolled softly in a steady and persistent roar.

Maureen had been dead for three years. Billy and the others had been dead for two years. Stu Macher had been dead for two years too.

“Steve! Steven!”

Stu turned to his new name. The figure moved down from the modest beach house, approaching him across the sand, blonde hair whipping around her face.

“Steve, what are you doing out here?’ she asked as she reached him.

“Just walking, babe.” Stu took another swig and reached out to encircle her shoulders.

“Javier is here. He’s waiting for you inside.” She pressed her lips to his neck.

Stu glanced over her head, out at the water. His thoughts wandered across the waves and up to Woodsboro. He saw Maureen splayed out on her bed, Steven gutted and taped to a pool chair, Casey swaying from her tree, Kenny reaching for his gaping neck wound, Dewey collapsing into a pile on the porch, Gale slumped in the news van. He saw Billy bloody and collapsed in failure on the hall floor.

And he saw Sidney.

Heat radiating up through his scalp brought him back to the beach.

“Thanks, Court.” Stu laced his hand in Courtney’s and followed her up the sand to the small beach house.

Courtney. Just as beautiful of a cover as Tatum was. She even kind of looked like Tatum, if Stu had drank enough.

Blue, sun-bleached paint curled and peeled back from the siding of the small structure. The boards were rough as Stu grabbed the railing to ascend the stairs half-sunken into the sand drifts. A wind chime sang softly against the sea breeze.

Stu pushed the door open. Javier sat at the small, wooden kitchen table, twirling a small glass of clear liquid between his fingertips. Two large men in black stood beside him with their arms crossed, guns holstered on their belts.

“Javier, my man!” Stu burst into the room and jumped as he raised his hand for Javier.

Javier looked from Stu to his outstretched hand before extending his own. They shook. Then Stu dropped into the opposite chair.

“What brings you to my casa?” Stu asked.

“You haven’t shown up to work for me.” Javier stroked the rim of the glass with his fingers and watched the liquid quiver.

“Yeah, man, I thought my debt was paid.”

“I got you out of California, knowing who you are. I set you up here on this beachside paradise, gave you an easy gig. And you’ve done a good job for me for almost two years.”

“Gracias, amigo.” Stu smiled.

“Your debt is settled, but you are not out. You are not out until I say you are out.” Javier lifted glittering dark eyes to Stu.

Stu’s smile fell from his lips.

“You work the resorts for me. All the white girls and white boys trust a gringo like you, even with that face,” Javier continued.

Stu reached up and brushed his fingertips along the faint scarring of his cheek. “They’re getting better.”

“Let’s hope they don’t get too much better. Otherwise, Jimmy will have to rearrange your face again. Don’t want any of those Americans recognizing you.”

Stu shrugged.

“These tourists see that golden hair and hear your California talk and instantly trust you.” Javier poured the shot into his mouth and replaced the glass. “They party with you and buy from you. And no one looks twice because you look like you belong, because you’re goofy and make everyone laugh. You’re like a cartoon. I can’t give up that arrangement.”

“But Javier—”

“Look, Stu.”

Stu’s eyes widened, and he whirled around to locate Courtney, to make sure she had not heard his long-dead name in the room of the beach cabin.

“She is outside,” Javier assured him. “You are safe as long as you are with me. You are Steven as long as you are with me. Keep working the resorts, and I will leave you here living in peace.”

Stu squinted out the window into the blazing sunlight. He glimpsed Courtney’s blonde locks dancing in the breeze. Looking down to the woodgrain of the table, he plastered a wide grin on his face and offered it to Javier.

“Of course, Javi.” Stu stretched the smile until his scars threatened to pop. “I love working for you. I just thought we were square, man. When do you need me out?”

“Tonight. Jimmy brought the product for you.”

Stu leaned against the beachside bar and let the beer trickle down his throat. The club music throbbed around him, pulsating with flashing and strobing colored lights. Sweating, scantily clad bodies massed about the bar, clumped on the dance floor, spilled out onto the dark beach. Stu allowed his eyes to wander over the crowd and noted the glossy eyes where Javier’s product was already doing its work. His cargo pockets were already lighter as he hocked his wares through the eager and hungry party.

Money would make Javier happy, and Stu liked Javier happy. He appreciated the wordless nod of approval and lack of an ominous meeting with armed associates. He needed to not hear any names from a life left behind.

Billy had said everything would change. Billy said their lives as they knew them would be over. He was not wrong. Stu drained the bottle and planted it on the bar top.

A tan and muscled man in flowered board shorts with tall hair sidled up beside Stu. A rich, vacationing frat boy, no doubt. Stu assessed him with a calm sweep as the frat boy’s eyes darted to Stu then away.

“Hey, man,” the frat boy finally said, leaning in to be heard over the music.

“Hey.” Stu saluted with his empty bottle.

“I hear you’re the Candyman?”

Stu scoffed. Since you branded him the Candyman? No, his heart is broken.

“What? You got a sweet tooth?” Stu asked.

“Huh?” The frat boy offered dumb eyes.

“Buy me a beer, man.”

“What?”

Stu palmed a baggy and tipped his hand to the frat boy. “Buy me a beer,” he said, slower.

The frat boy dissolved into the crowd with his purchase, and Stu perched on a stool to enjoy his next beer. Planting his elbows on the bar top, he turned his eyes up to the flashing screens hanging above the glowing rows of bottles.

Gale Weathers looked down at him.

Stu gagged on his beer and nearly spewed it across the bar. He coughed and sputtered around the choke, gasping to regain his breath.

I can’t escape this bitch.

He reached out and seized the bartender by the shoulder. “My man, my man,” Stu demanded. “Turn this up.” He pointed hard at the screen.

The bartender gave Stu a skeptical squint, keeping his narrowed eyes on him as he extracted a remote and pressed the volume key. Stu waved his hands up and up until Gale’s shrill voice penetrated the edge of the pulsating music. Then he slid a bill into the bartender’s hand to soften his gaze.

“We are approaching the anniversary of the Woodsboro Murders, which I detailed in my best-selling book, The Woodsboro Murders.” An image of the book cover appeared beside Gale’s face.

Stu rolled his eyes hard. His beer went sour in his mouth and his stomach.

“Two years ago, in Woodsboro, California, Billy Loomis and Stu Macher went on a killing spree, murdering five people. They had also killed Maureen Prescott the preceding year. Cotton Weary has since been exonerated for that crime, in part due to efforts made here on Top Story.”

Stu gaped at the screen, at Gale’s narcissist audacity. I bet in her book it says she single-handedly took down Billy and me. She saved the day! Stu’s stomach clenched tighter.

“Tequila!” he croaked. “Tequila, por favor.”

The bartender slid a shot glass in front of him and dumped the golden liquid into it. It overflowed onto Stu’s fingertips, but he did not notice as he slammed it down his throat.

“Mas! Mas!”

The bartender refilled the glass. Stu slapped bills on the counter, Javier’s bills. The bartender snatched them and drifted away before Stu could ask for more.

“In addition to the Woodsboro Murders in 1996, I, Gale Weathers, brought you a harrowing eyewitness account of the massacre at Windsor College just a few months ago.”

Stu lifted the shot glass to his lips and froze. He gaped at Gale, the shot shaking in his grip.

“Copycat killers Debbie Loomis and Mickey Altieri terrorized the campus as they patterned murders after the original murders. Debbie Loomis is the mother of Woodsboro murderer Billy Loomis.”

Oh, fuck, Billy’s mother. Stu stopped breathing. He pressed his empty hand to his lips. Billy would have killed to see his mother, did kill for his mother. Stu tried to grapple with how Billy would feel to know his mother had murdered just like him, in his name. Proud? Touched? Offended? Would he hug her or stab her? Stu honestly did not know with Billy.

Maybe they would find out now that they were both six feet under together.

“Woodsboro survivor Randy Meeks lost his life in the Windsor College Massacre,” Gale continued.

“Ah fuck, Randy,” Stu breathed. Finally got him. Bet he saw it coming too.

Stu pictured Randy pinned to his front door, slapping the woodgrain and calling for Sidney. He conjured Randy’s wide eyes with fear wavering at the edges when Stu finally let him see, let him know how right he had always been. Stu imagined Randy had that same look plastered on his dead face when the rigor set in.

Stu toasted the picture of Randy on-screen and tossed the shot down. The tequila sizzled down his throat and pooled in a burning puddle on top of his stomach.

“Just like the Woodsboro Murders, the central target for the Windsor College Massacre was Sidney Prescott. Sidney Prescott is the daughter of Maureen Prescott, Billy Loomis and Stu Macher’s original victim,” Gale continued.

Sidney’s face consumed the screen, her wide and bright smile mocking Stu. Her hair had changed. She had lost those annoying, quivering bangs and cropped it close to her ears. She looked more like a survivor now, and he hated her for it.

“Sidney Prescott could not be reached for comment.”

The picture of Sidney continued to burn on the screen. Stu glared into it, narrowing his eyes until she blurred, the way everything looked when he opened his eyes after she electrocuted him.

Survivor. She wasn’t supposed to be the survivor. She was supposed to be the one person in all of this who was dead. Her and her mother. Yet she was still alive. Even Billy’s mother couldn’t come back and get rid of her properly.

This was not how you executed a proper sequel. Randy must have been appalled before he died. Debbie Loomis and Mickey Altieri had gotten it all wrong. They had all underestimated her. But Stu would not do that again.

In his sequel, he would get it right. For Billy.

THE END

Christina Bergling

https://linktr.ee/chrstnabergling

Like my writing? Check out my books!

  • Followers – You never know who is on the other side of the screen. Followers is a mystery and thriller that blends women’s fiction with horror.
  • The Rest Will Come – Online dating would drive anyone to murder, especially Emma.
  • Savages – Two survivors search the ruins for the last strain of humanity. Until the discovery of a baby changes everything.
  • The Waning – Locked in a cage, Beatrix must survive to escape or be broken completely.
  • Screechers – Mutant monsters and humans collide in the apocalyptic fallout of a burned world. Co-authored with Kevin J. Kennedy.
  • Horror Anthologies

Previously on… Father Death (20)

16

Stu’s breathing pressed back into his face from the inside of the plastic bag. His blood thumped steadier in his veins as his consciousness swam up to his sizzling nerves. He heard the plastic shuffling around his head but did not feel it against his face or shoulders. Willing his muscles to flex and move, he found them impossibly stiff and resistant. His breath just struggled in his face.

A chill tickled him deep below his flesh, coursing over him and making him writhe on his own skeleton. A skeleton that seemed singed and radiating. Before his thoughts coagulated into words, he imagined himself glowing in this strange, constrictive plastic space.

In your dreams. Sidney’s words echoed in his skull as her face flickered before him.

He jerked at her image. An involuntary and rageful spasm against the idea of her.

You sick fucks have seen too many movies. Sidney’s voice, again, tugged him more into his flesh, throbbing in hot pain. He saw her against the kitchen counter behind Billy.

Billy.

Where is Billy? Stu’s voice surfaced in his mind. Where is Billy? Where am I?

He had been in his blood-soaked house, surrounded by the bodies of their victims. Billy had been overzealously carving him up in the kitchen and throwing the phone at the back of his head. He had tackled Sidney to the ground after she had attacked Billy. And now…

Stu scrunched his face but felt nothing. He heard the skin crack and split at the movement. Back in the recesses of his sinuses, he smelled a faint char. A liquid slid from his cheek to drip on the plastic under his head.

The pain settled over him, formed articulate shapes on his body. He recognized the buzzing feeling of his arms and legs as they pulsated in angry rhythms. When he lifted his hands along his body, the plastic sheath around him contained them. His blunt, half-numb fingertips traversed the crisp edges of his sweater and the warbled, blistered flesh of his face. It felt wet and disfigured. Stu snatched the digits away, horrified to translate the touch into an image, and pressed forward into the plastic.

Above his face, he felt the zipper sealing him into the bag. He traced it up until he found the flat metal at the top above his head. Worming a finger out around the shape, he noted the cooler temperature outside the bag, and tugged the zipper down in an awkward struggle.

As Stu parted the seam of the body bag, weak light permeated the crack. The dim beams felt like an assault, and Stu squinted against them. His vision blurred, and he blinked hard to bring the world into focus around him. Turning his head on the crinkling plastic, he glimpsed another long, lumpy shape stretched out beside him.

Billy.

Wrenching himself up on his elbow, Stu’s muscles shaking and stuttering. Once he lifted his head, the world swam, and he gauged the gentle swaying below him. Tires rumbled under him as the van rolled down the road.

They think I’m dead, he thought. I’m the supposably dead killer. They’re taking me to the morgue under the hospital.

His thoughts crackled disjointed. He squinted his eyes again, the skin crunching and cracking. He gave his head a little shake, but then the entire van seemed to spiral around him. Snapping his eyes open, he sucked in breath through his nose. It whistled distorted, and he brought his fingers to the mangled flesh again.

Sidney. Fucking bitch.

Sidney was supposed to be dead. Gale and Dewey and Randy were supposed to be dead. He and Billy were supposed to be the survivors.

He turned to Billy’s body bag beside him. His plastic only jostled softly with the movement of the van. Something in Stu’s chest sank heavily, deeper than the tingling, the numbness, and the shocks of pain. The van felt surreal, like a nightmare. As if Freddy Krueger would turn around from the driver’s seat.

But it was probably him who looked like Freddy Krueger now.

Stu craned his neck toward the driver’s seat. More cruel light poured in from the windshield, carving the seat into a haunting, warbled dark shape in Stu’s damaged vision. He could see the ball cap and jacket of the driver, not the brown fedora and striped sweater of Freddy.

Stu shimmied the body bag from his shoulders. It tangled in the frayed edges of his sweater before piling on the floor of the van. Stu remained crouched low, both to stay out of the eye-line of the rearview mirror and because his trembling arms resisted supporting him. He felt like Michael Myers coming back to life, reanimated with a second chance to finish things. Sliding from the bag, he hunched in the shadows beside the passenger’s seat.

The van bounced into the parking garage; the light from the windows brightened. The brakes squeaked softly as the vehicle stopped. Stu pressed harder into the back of the passenger’s seat as the driver opened his door and slid from the van.

Stu’s heart rate battled to the surface and pounded through his entire body, shaking the fried edges. Glaring through the windows the best he could, he pulled himself into the passenger’s seat. Before the driver reached the back seat, Stu opened the door and lowered his feet to the concrete. Reseating the door silently, he slithered under the van.

Above his head, he heard the back doors of the van swing open. The driver’s feet shuffled on the concrete. Stu watched the blurry boots turn one way then the other in nervous patterns.

“Shit,” the driver said. The low voice echoed in the empty parking garage. “Shit, shit, shit.”

Stu pictured his empty body bag beside Billy’s. It had to look terrifying, a frame out of a scary movie. A smile hesitated on his deformed cheeks.

The radio chirped above Stu’s head. “Get the Sheriff down here.” The driver’s voice cracked. “We have a problem.”

Stu felt his pulse pressing against the concrete below him. The boots shifted across the concrete. As they rounded the bumper, Stu slid from beneath the van. He crept along the ground and darted to the large green blurs against the wall. Gripping the edge of the dumpster, he heaved a long leg over the edge. He whipped over the side and lowered into the trash. The smell permeated his charred nasal cavity.

The door slammed open into the wall. Boots bounced on the floor, and voices filled the parking garage. The silent space crowded with chattering bodies. Their energy spilled over into the dumpster with Stu, yet he remained lowered out of sight, listening to them.

“Macher is gone,” the driver said.

“Gone? What do you mean gone?” Sheriff Burke said. “He’s dead. How can he be gone?”

“He’s obviously not dead then,” another voice countered.

All the voices hushed, and Stu pictured them huddled around the end of the van staring at his wilted body bag.

“Fuck!” Sheriff Burke exploded. “Well, where the fuck is he?”

Mumblings and murmurs failed to answer him. Stu cowered against the rim of the dumpster and hazarded a glance. Sheriff Burke stood at the end of the gaping trunk, his hands fisted against his bald head. He turned to the van then away into the parking lot then back again. Then he squared up to face all his officers fiercely.

“The media cannot catch wind of this. This is enough of a shit show.” He leveled his eyes and jabbed a finger at them. “This has been enough of a fucking catastrophe already. They are salivating over the massacre at the Macher house. Billy Loomis and Stu Macher are our killers, and Billy Loomis and Stu Macher are dead.” Sheriff Burke swiped a hand over his face, and Stu dropped back into the trash. “Now, find him!”

Boots shuffled on the concrete in manic patterns. Gurney wheels squealed as it approached the van. Billy’s corpse dumped heavy onto it. They wheeled it away and closed the van doors hard. Stu remained pressed in the garbage, sucking in slow and rank breaths. The garage fell silent around him until it was only his weak exhalations.

Dead, he mused. I’m dead. Just like Billy.

The weight returned to his chest to squelch his hammering heart rate. Dead like Billy.

This night had changed everything. This night had ended their lives as they knew them. Just as they had thought but not at all like they had planned. Stu strove to set aside the blooming feeling of failure, the familiar itching sensation. He did not have time to sink in that native quicksand. Even these local morons would search a dumpster eventually.

Stu peered over the edge of the dumpster, expecting to see at least one lingering officer. Surely, they would have left someone at this portion of the scene instead of scampering off frantic and disjointed to find their escaped killer. Yet his eyes found a vacant parking garage. The van stood alone in its parking spot.

If Stu was watching this scene in a movie, he would have laughed. Instead, he slunk from the dumpster and hustled to the exterior exit.

Stu pulled the hoodie low over his head, tugging on the strings to envelop himself. His raw flesh prickled at the stiff fabric. He flexed against the chill running down his back and rounded over the diner counter. Dragging the steaming mug of coffee under his face, he hunched over, squinting at the hanging television screen.

Gale Weathers filled the screen. Stu wrinkled his nose at her ghastly pink suit and the way it brought out the depths of the bruises on her face. No amount of makeup could hide all the trauma.

She probably doesn’t want to, Stu mused. Better ratings. Survivor ratings.

As Stu stared into her face, he saw her back in the news van, fresh blood trickling from her face, her head hanging limp on her neck. Appearing dead. She was supposed to be dead.

They were all supposed to be dead, but Stu had failed Billy. Now, Billy was dead.

Gale offered the camera her pursed-lip smile.

What a bitch. She really is eating this up. Loving every minute of it.

He saw her back in his kitchen, holding the gun in their faces, that same smug grin on her lips as the weapon trembled in her hand. But she had not foiled them. She had been a speedbump. Sidney had been their undoing.

“Good evening, welcome to Top Story,” Gale said from the screen. “I’m Gale Weathers, here with more eyewitness accounts of the murders in Woodsboro, California.”

Stu mashed his fists into the side of the hood. You’re supposed to be dead. There aren’t supposed to be any witnesses. Some random reporter is supposed to be saying Neil Prescott slaughtered everyone and only Billy and me survived.

“First, we need to honor our own fallen cameraman. Kenny Jones was killed on the job at the Macher house the night of the massacre. Kenny was a dear friend and colleague, and our hearts go out to his family.”

Huh, Kenny. Kenny was his name. Stu conjured the memory of Kenny’s eyes going wide when Stu’s blade parted his neck. Kenny pawed for Sidney in the van before collapsing to the dirt. He died so quickly, with barely any effort at all.

“Last week, five people were murdered by Billy Loomis and Stu Macher,” Gale continued.

Stu stiffened at the mention of his own name. He raised up on his stool and peered around the edge of his hoodie. The waitress continued to pour coffee into a wilted trucker’s cup, unfazed. The family at the far booth bickered unaffected. The two other patrons at the counter stared into the television and blinked slow. Stu lowered back down over his coffee.

“This brings the murder total for Loomis and Macher to six as it was revealed they were responsible for killing Maureen Prescott in Woodsboro one year ago. This new evidence will work to exonerate Cotton Weary, who was convicted for Prescott’s murder. Top Story has been proclaiming Weary’s innocence for the duration of the investigation and trial.”

Stu rolled his eyes and pressed his fist to his cheek, immediately recoiling away from the scabbed flesh.

“In addition to Maureen Prescott and our own Kenny Jones, Loomis and Macher savagely murdered Steven Orth, Casey Becker, their principal Arthur Himbry, and Macher’s own girlfriend, Tatum Riley.”

Stu sucked in a breath at Tatum’s name. He had not killed her, but he always knew Billy was going to. If he was honest with himself, he was surprised Billy had not made him to it. It seemed like a task Billy would want him to fulfill. Stu pictured Tatum’s face, remembered her in those tight red pants and the jersey baring her pale stomach. He listened to her reckless laugh.

“Six people lost their lives at the hands of Billy Loomis and Stu Macher,” Gale continued.

Should have been more. It was supposed to be more. All told, that did not seem like that high of a body count for a scary movie.

“But both Billy Loomis and Stu Macher are dead.”

All echoes and memories fell from Stu’s mind. His head became hollow to consume those words. The concept of his living death was perhaps as unsettling as the idea of Billy’s true death. He knew it was better to be left for dead, to be assumed dead, than to be lying beside Billy, yet Billy was not feeling the crushing weight that strangled him.

“Both men were killed by Sidney Prescott, Maureen Prescott’s daughter. Sidney Prescott has not responded to requests for interviews or comments.”

Sidney. Fucking Sidney. Billy had to put her at the center of it. Here she was, at the center of it.

Looking up at Gale’s face on the television, Stu saw Sidney rush around the screen and plant her hands on the back of the television to shove it down onto his face. The electricity shuttered through his bones at the thought. His muscles spasmed at the memory, and he wrapped his arms around himself. He glared up at the picture of Sidney imposed on the screen beside Gale.

Digging into his pocket, he pulled out the stranger’s wallet. He pulled out a few bills and slipped them under his cooling coffee mug. Then he palmed the foreign car keys and trudged out to the parking lot.

Continued on… Father Death (22) – THE END

Christina Bergling

https://linktr.ee/chrstnabergling

Like my writing? Check out my books!

  • Followers – You never know who is on the other side of the screen. Followers is a mystery and thriller that blends women’s fiction with horror.
  • The Rest Will Come – Online dating would drive anyone to murder, especially Emma.
  • Savages – Two survivors search the ruins for the last strain of humanity. Until the discovery of a baby changes everything.
  • The Waning – Locked in a cage, Beatrix must survive to escape or be broken completely.
  • Screechers – Mutant monsters and humans collide in the apocalyptic fallout of a burned world. Co-authored with Kevin J. Kennedy.
  • Horror Anthologies

Previously on… Father Death (19)

15

“Bitch!” Billy screamed.

Feathers fluttered to the ground around him. He panted in his anger as sweat prickled on his skin. She was not going to take this from him. Not his perfectly laid plan. Not after he had come so far and gotten this close. He just had to find that bitch and finish what he had started with her mother.

He could still salvage this.

He breathed through the swell in his brain. He had to control himself. Things only worked when he controlled himself and when he controlled Stu. Settling his nerves, he retraced his more frantic steps back down the hallway. Halloween had returned to television. Laurie Strode cowering in a closet as Michael Myers punched through the meager door.

The closet. Billy hesitated outside the hall closet, eyeing it. He turned the knob and peered in then cast his eyes down toward the television.

Father Death burst from the hanging jackets and plunged the tip of an umbrella into Billy’s shoulder. The blunt end forced a painful wound through his flesh.

He cried out in pain and surprise. The knife and gun tumbled from his hand, released in the shock. He turned to retrieve them, ignoring his injury, but his assailant drew the umbrella back and sent it through his chest again. Crying out, he collapsed to the hardwood floor.

From his drape on the kitchen counter, Stu heard Billy’s expletive. He knew Billy’s voice. He knew his tone. The painful edge on Billy’s cry conjured a surge of adrenaline in Stu. His body turned away from the pain and the dying and surged out of the kitchen. When he skidded into the hallway, he glimpsed Sidney standing over Billy’s fallen body, peeling off the Father Death mask and shedding the robe.

Stu released a battle cry before barreling toward Sidney. He tackled her like a football player, like Steven Orth. They rolled until Sidney landed on top of Stu and planted her knee in his groin. Through the pumping of adrenaline, he ignored her blow and punched her in the face. Sidney rolled away and scrambled to her feet.

Stu dove after her blindly, wrestling her over the couch. They collided with the coffee table and tumbled in a tangle of limbs and flurry of feathers. She fell to the ground, and he wiggled on top of her.

“I always had a thing for you, Sid.” A thing for killing you. A thing like Billy had for your mother.

Stu pinned her arms down. Sidney leaned over and sunk her teeth into his hand. Howling in pain, he released her. She snatched up a vase and smashed it against his head. His vision exploded in sparks, and he tumbled to the floor.

“Bitch,” he murmured from his back. That dark cloud swelled back over him as his mind swam.

Sidney scurried to her feet and rounded the television. Stu sputtered through the haze in his head, the weight returning to his mind. He turned his eyes up to see Laure Strode hunched in a closet clutching a butcher knife. Sidney planted her hands on the back of the television.

“In your dreams,” she said, shoving the television.

The television tipped from the stand and careened down onto Stu. The screen smashed into his face. His head went through the glass, and the electricity surged through his body. Stu screamed into the box as sparks and smoke swirled around him. His arms and legs flailed and twitched until he and the television fell still.

Billy heard Sidney’s steps move across the floor, nearing him again. Like any good scary movie, he knew to play dead. He knew to wait and see what she did. He was going to kill her. She just needed to be closer.

She crouched beside him and gathered up the discarded mask. What a stupid time to look at the mask, Billy thought as he kept his breathing shallow. He concentrated on remaining immobile. When Sidney gasped, he resisted the startle.

“I’m sorry,” Randy said. “It’s all right.”

Ugh, that fucker is still alive. How did I not kill this prick?

“Oh my god,” Sidney said. “Randy, I thought you were dead.”

You should be fucking dead.

“I probably should be. I never thought I would be so happy to be a virgin.”

Let me help you out. Billy punched his fist up through Randy’s face, sending him sprawling back to the floor. Snatching Sidney by the shoulders, he threw her down to the hardwood.

“Fucker!” he cried.

Billy lay his body alongside Sidney, pinning her down. She squirmed helpless under his weight. He wiggled one hand around the knife then slid the other one around her neck. Once he found her throat, he squeezed down hard. Her eyes went wide. He had her.

“Say hello to your mother,” Billy said.

Sidney’s eyes narrowed, her brow drawing down to tighten her features. Reaching up, she planted her finger inside the wound in Billy’s chest. Pain exploded across his mind. He could not contain the scream tearing from his mouth. He reared back and lifted the knife high to finally get rid of her, to finally be done dealing with her shit. If nothing else, he was going to kill Sidney Prescott tonight.

The bullet tore through his shoulder and sent him off Sidney and back onto the floor. He hit the hardwood, coughing and sputtering in his own blood. The pain enveloped him. It felt so much like failure. He pumped his legs to slide along the floor, away from Sidney. From hooded eyes, he glimpsed Gale standing over him with the gun.

That bitch didn’t die either. Did we actually kill anyone?

The lights grew halos above his head. In the swimming glow, he saw Sidney, Gale, and Randy step over him. He allowed his eyes to close, for the pain to wash over him in a wave. It could not end like this. This could not be the way his plan unraveled.

“Careful.” Randy’s voice seemed quiet and distant. “This is the moment when the supposably dead killer comes back to life for one last scare.”

He was the killer. This was his movie.

Billy opened his eyes and reached for Sidney one last time. Sidney pulled the trigger and shot him in the forehead.

“Not in my movie,” she said.

Billy’s head dropped to the hardwood with a thud. A trickle of blood snaked down his forehead from the wound. He lay splayed on his back, his hands bloodied and haphazard above his head. His body flopped on the floor, lifeless, like Maureen on her bed one year ago. Her daughter stood above him, still holding the gun as his plan spiraled away into the air around them. As he mirrored his initial victim now, they had indeed come full circle, just not as he had wanted.

Continued on… Father Death (21)

Christina Bergling

https://linktr.ee/chrstnabergling

Like my writing? Check out my books!

  • Followers – You never know who is on the other side of the screen. Followers is a mystery and thriller that blends women’s fiction with horror.
  • The Rest Will Come – Online dating would drive anyone to murder, especially Emma.
  • Savages – Two survivors search the ruins for the last strain of humanity. Until the discovery of a baby changes everything.
  • The Waning – Locked in a cage, Beatrix must survive to escape or be broken completely.
  • Screechers – Mutant monsters and humans collide in the apocalyptic fallout of a burned world. Co-authored with Kevin J. Kennedy.
  • Horror Anthologies

Previously on… Father Death (18)

14

“Right here, asshole.”

Gale Weathers raised the gun and pointed it at Billy. A massive cut transected a blossoming bruise along her forehead, and blood trickled from the corner of her mouth. She still sported her red tailored skirt suit and shiny coat, yet her bare feet were soiled. The gun trembled in her hand.

“Man, I thought she was dead,” Billy said to Stu.

“She looks dead, man. Still does.”

“I’ve got an ending for you,” Gale interrupted. “The reporter left for dead in the news van comes to, stumbles on you two dipshits, finds the gun, foils your plan, and saves the day.”

“I like that ending,” Sidney chimed in from behind them.

Stupid bitch. Billy smirked. “I know something you don’t.”

Billy ambled forward unfazed. Gale squeezed the trigger, yet it remained fixed. She clutched the gun again, tipping it in her hand to look at it, eyes widening in desperation. Billy seized the gun and her other wrist and planted his foot in her chest. He kicked her hard, sending her flying backward. She sailed into the pillar on the porch, leaving the gun in his grip. Slamming hard, she collapsed in a heap on top of Dewey.

“Yeah, man.” Stu pumped a fist in victory.

“Yeah.” Billy stepped out onto the porch and crouched beside Gale’s body. “Aw, so sweet. It works better without the safety on.” He tipped his head to crack his neck then stood and pointed the gun down at Gale. “This is Gale Weathers signing off—”

“Baby, you’re going to love this.” Stu turned back to the kitchen to make sure Sidney was enjoying the show. “Shit.”

Sidney was gone. The corner where she had been cowering was empty. The gun was gone. Now, Sidney was gone. Stu’s thoughts surged then folded in on themselves. The pain swelled up over it all. It collapsed around the edges of his mind and hazed the edges of the world.

“What?” Billy whirled around and surged back to the kitchen. “Where are they? Where are they?”

Gaping at where Sidney was not, he turned to the floor where Neil also was not. His victim was gone. His fall guy was gone. His plan was gone. Panic flared up in him and immediately twisted into rage. They were not going to take it from him.

Beside him, nausea swelled over Stu. He teetered back into the fridge and wrapped an arm over his seizing belly as blood dribbled from his mouth. His legs wobbled unsteady beneath him.

“I don’t know, but I’m hurting, man.” Stu continued to cough blood into his hand.

“Fuck!”

The phone on the counter rang and snatched their attention, Billy from his rage and Stu from his pain. Then gaped it confused, as if they had forgotten the device’s purpose.

“Should I let the machine get it?” Stu asked.

Who would be calling? Who could be calling at a time like this? They are all dead or dying.

Billy leaned past him and snatched the receiver. “Hello?” He could figure out how to explain the call to the cops later.

The killer’s voice greeted him. “Are you alone in the house?” His voice, his words pirated.

Sidney. On the phone and voice changer in her father’s pocket. Billy’s vision went red.

“Bitch, you bitch, where the fuck are you?” Billy screamed into the phone, the knife clutched against the receiver.

“Not so fast. We’re going to play a little game.” That voice, his voice mocked him. “It’s called—” Sidney’s voice returned from beneath the mutation. “Guess who just called the police and reported your sorry motherfucking ass!”

Stu sank into the chair in front of the phone and puddled on the counter. He draped his arm long and rested his head upon it. His body beckoned for him to close his eyes, just for a second, to make the symphony of pain on his nerves stop.

“Find her, you dipshit, get up!” Billy planted the gun in his neck as he yelled.

“I can’t, Billy. I think you cut me too deep. I think I’m dying here, man.”

At the edge of the hurt, Stu registered he did think he was dying. The pain lulled him, coaxed him to just lie still, just close his eyes. If he did, he could be done disappointing his parents or answering to Billy. Tonight could be the end of this life without being the start of another one. It could simply be the end.

“Talk to her.” Billy pressed the receiver against Stu’s ear. “Talk to her.”

Stu drew himself up in his consciousness. He tugged his head up and grasped the phone, aligning it with his ear. Billy pressed away behind him, and Stu listened to him slink out of the kitchen.

“Hello?” Stu answered cordially.

“Oh, Stu, Stu, Stu.” Sidney offered him the same patronizing tone she always did. The tone that said she tolerated him because she had to, because Tatum was there. Only Tatum wasn’t there anymore. “What’s your motive? Billy’s got one; the police are on their way. What are you going to tell them?”

“Peer pressure. I’m far too sensitive.” No lie.

Billy stormed up behind Stu and snatched the phone from his grasp. “I’m going to rip you up, you bitch, just like your fucking mother.”

“You got to find me first, you pansy-ass momma’s boy.”

The reference to his mother set Billy alight. The phone flew from his enraged hand, bouncing off the back of Stu’s head. He did not see it. He did not hear Stu’s protest. He rampaged from the room.

“Fuck!” Stu cried. “You hit me with the phone, dick!” Stu gathered the receiver back into his hand.

“Fucker,” Billy raged. He ran to the couch and tore through the cushions with the knife, sending feathers flying. “Where are you? You fuck!”

Stu listened to Billy’s screams and leaned into the phone. “Did you really call the police?”

“You bet your sorry ass I did.”

Stu grimaced, emotion flooding into his sinuses. “My mom and dad are going to be so mad at me.”

They were going to know. They were all going to know now. His parents were going to be more than disappointed about his mediocre grades or messy room or the fact that he just wasn’t motivated enough. They were going to see the real him, something they never wanted to be around. They couldn’t stand even a fraction of him for more than a couple days before they were in the air again. He could not fathom how they would react when they knew he was a killer.

Continued on… Father Death (20)

Christina Bergling

https://linktr.ee/chrstnabergling

Like my writing? Check out my books!

  • Followers – You never know who is on the other side of the screen. Followers is a mystery and thriller that blends women’s fiction with horror.
  • The Rest Will Come – Online dating would drive anyone to murder, especially Emma.
  • Savages – Two survivors search the ruins for the last strain of humanity. Until the discovery of a baby changes everything.
  • The Waning – Locked in a cage, Beatrix must survive to escape or be broken completely.
  • Screechers – Mutant monsters and humans collide in the apocalyptic fallout of a burned world. Co-authored with Kevin J. Kennedy.
  • Horror Anthologies

Previously on… Father Death (17)

13

Stu jogged away from the house, leaving Randy quivering and clinging to the front door, still begging for Sidney. He rolled his eyes at how pathetic Randy was. He should have stabbed him on the couch before dispatching that cameraman. Yet then, he wouldn’t have been able to snicker in his ear. He wouldn’t have been able to enjoy telling Randy he was right.

Stu rounded the Jeep to obscure himself from sight, not that anyone would be looking after him. Especially not Randy. He hurried along the road, squinting into the night. The large puddles of blood caught faint glints of light. He started there and traced the bloody tracks of the news van.

The cameraman’s body slumped in a sad heap against the dilapidated fence. Stu glanced at it as he followed the road toward the trees. Skid marks drew across the asphalt. Stu chased them into the grass to find the news van pinned against a massive tree trunk.

Approaching the bumper of the trunk, Stu glaed at the square where Sidney had evaded him. He pressed his palm into the cool, smooth panel as he stomped through the tall grass. Peering through the open driver’s side window, he glimpsed the back of Gale Weathers’s head planted on the steering wheel.

Stu brushed his hands against his pockets, even knowing they were empty. No ghostly mask, no disguising robe, no knife. He felt much more exposed approaching Gale as himself. Whispering to Randy was not quite the same. Randy already knew. He sucked in a deep breath and glanced around the vacant night.

Stu reached through the window and grasped Gale’s shoulder. He tipped her back against the seat, her head flopping then lolling on her shoulders, sagging limp on her neck. Her mouth dangled ajar to reveal her perfect, white, straight teeth. Stu released a pent-up giggle. Sending his other arm through the window, he seized both her shoulders and gave her a firm shake. Her head snapped with the movement then drooped again.

“Well, that was easy,” Stu said to himself.

He released Gale to flop limp in the seat and turned back toward the house.

From the top of the stairs, Billy heard Sidney’s shouts. The door slammed. Then her whimpers floated on the air.

“Go away!” she cried against the door. “Leave me alone.”

Sidney was back in the house, and she was alone. It was time. Enough people were dead or would be shortly. It was time to wrap up this plan, execute this final elegant scene.

He drew a breath down into his lungs, feeling the blood on his shirt expand, and fluttered his eyes closed. Stabbed, left for dead, barely alive, crawling to save Sidney… he reminded himself and poured the character over his mind. This perfect boyfriend he had been feigning for over a year.

It all ended tonight.

Billy emerged and hobbled into the hallway.

“Sid,” he said, draping himself over the railing. He clung to the lacquered wood then skittered down clumsy and wounded.

He glanced down at the long case of wooden stairs looming below him, resisting the instinctual flinch before releasing his clutch and tumbling down. The edges and planes of each step bit and slapped at him as he rolled down the flight. He strove to relax into the fall as if he were focused on graver injuries. He skidded to a halt in a puddle at the base of the stairs.

“Billy?” Sidney rushed to him, her hands tentative over his body. “Oh, B—B–, are you okay? I thought you were dead?”

“I’m like a stuck pig, but I am all right.” Billy shuffled to his feet, leaned against the wall then against Sidney.

“You’re bleeding. Oh my god.” Sidney shouldered his weight, her hands playing about the fake blood.

That generally happens when you get stabbed. It was all working so well. She was seeing exactly what he wanted her to. The smile tugged at Billy’s cheeks, but he forced it from his face.

Billy hobbled to the front door. “We got to get help.”

“No, he’s out there.” Sidney threw herself across the door.

“Give me the gun.” Billy extended his hand and offered soothing eyes. Trust me, Sid. “Give me the gun. It’s okay.” It’s all going to be okay. It’s almost over.

Sidney handed him the gun with a reluctant hand and moved behind him. “Careful.”

Billy leaned into the doorknob as he turned the lock. Then he wrenched the door open. Randy immediately flew through the opening in a blur of his green shirt. He clutched Billy’s shoulder before dashing into the room, turning frantic eyes back to them.

“Please, help me!” Randy panted. “Stu’s flipped out. He’s gone mad.”

The sinister grin finally escaped Billy’s control. It unfurled across his face. The mask dropped, and he revealed himself to Randy. The fear he saw well up in Randy’s eyes showed that Randy saw him, but he figured that Randy had really always seen him underneath it all. Perhaps that is why he had wanted to kill him so bad all along. And the moment had finally arrived.

“We all go a little mad sometimes.” Billy leveled the gun at Randy.

“No, no, Billy,” Sidney shouted beside him.

“Oh fuck!” Randy knew it was coming, as he always did.

Billy pulled the trigger. The bullet tore through Randy, launching him backward and over the pointless table Stu’s mother kept in the center of the hall. The vase and flowers cascaded to the floor in shatters. Sidney rushed to Randy as he groaned on the floor. Of course, she did. Of course, she would.

It was all in the open now. Billy felt the freedom surge through him. They were here. They had made it to the endgame. He tipped the gun up and scratched the barrel along his scalp.

“Anthony Perkins, psycho,” he commented. Sidney turned disbelieving eyes to him. He loved that quivering look on her. She looked up from Randy’s body in trembling awe, just as Billy always wanted her to look at him. “Mmmm.” He slipped his finger into his mouth and sucked off the fake blood. “Corn syrup. The same stuff they used as pig’s blood in Carrie.”

The horrific realization on Sidney’s face was gorgeous. It contorted her features, making her look even more like her mother on the last night of her life. Billy nearly hardened again at the correlation. It had all come full circle, just like he had wanted.

Sidney whirled around, desperate, chaotic. Her hands spiraled from her body as she lurched toward the kitchen. Stu emerged, having rounded around the back of his property. She collided with him like a wall then cuddled into his chest. He leered down at her, but she was too distracted to gauge his menace.

“Stu.” She collapsed into his chest in a pitiful heap. “Help me.”

Stu flicked his eyes to Billy. They exchanged the thrilling sparkle of victory, the electricity of everything going to plan. Stu slid his hand up his body, positioning the voice changer over his wicked grin.

“Surprise, Sidney.” The device twisted his voice.

Sidney’s eyes widened. She shrank away from him. “No!”

Billy raised his eyebrows at her, mocking her with a shocked expression. She shoved Stu aside and threw herself into the kitchen. Billy ran around the hallway and entered from the opposite side, corralling her between them.

“Oh, now. Whoa!” He pushed the gun into her face. Stu chucked the voice changer, and Billy plucked it from the air in his blood-stained hand. His cheeks vibrated in his grin. “What’s the matter, Sidney? It looks like you’ve seen a ghost.”

Sidney’s legs buckled beneath her. She wobbled back and clutched the counter. “Why are you doing this?”

“It’s all part of the game, Sidney.” Stu loomed on one side of the island.

“It’s called guess how I am going to die!” Billy yelled through the voice changer and pointed the gun at her face.

“Fuck you!” Sidney dropped her hands from her hair as she yelled.

“No, no, no.” Billy’s voice softened. He offered Stu the gun and exchanged it for the knife. “We already played that game, remember? You lost.” Billy cornered Sidney, knife pointed at her face.

She had lost. She had lost so completely.

“It’s a fun game, Sidney. See, we ask you a question. You get it wrong—booyah!—you die.” Stu pointed the gun at her to mime a shot.

“You get it right, you die.” Billy shrugged.

Sidney raised stern, resolute eyes. “You’re crazy, both of you.”

Stu cuddled up to Billy’s back, amalgamating them into one threatening person in front of Sidney. He felt them together, in parallel. He had done everything he was supposed to; he had gotten them exactly where Billy wanted. Right here, to this moment.

“Actually, we prefer the term psychotic,” Stu said over Billy’s shoulder

“You’ll never get away with this.”

Billy tipped his head. “Oh, no? Tell that to Cotton Weary. You wouldn’t believe how easy he was to frame.” Billy teased the ends of Sidney’s hair with the blade.

“Watch a few movies, take a few notes. It was fun!” Stu’s face twisted comically.

“No!” Sidney melted and surged forward.

Billy caught her in his free arm. “Whoa.”

“Where are you going?” Stu laughed.

Where could she go? Cornered by both of them with a gun and a knife. This was the end of her.

“Why?” Sidney dragged herself up and slammed the counter again. “Why did you kill my mother?”

“Why?” Billy echoed. “Why?” He shouted, and Sidney and Stu both startled. Stu drew back away from Billy. “You hear that, Stu? I think she wants a motive. I don’t really believe in motives, Sid. Did Norman Bates have a motive?” Billy oscillated conversationally.

“No,” Stu answered.

“Did they ever really decide why Hannibal Lecter likes to eat people? Don’t think so!” His face jerked forward with his words. She cowered away. “It’s a lot scarier when there is no motive, Sid. We did your mom a favor. That woman was a slut-bag whore who flashed her shit all over town like she was Sharon Stone or something.”

“Yeah, we put her out of her misery because, let’s face it, Sidney, your mother was no Sharon Stone.” Stu pointed the gun and opened his hands around it.

“Is that motive enough for you?” Billy hesitated and toyed with the knife against his lower lip. “How about this? Your slut mother was fucking my father. And she’s the reason my mom moved out and abandoned me.”

Sidney’s mouth dropped open. Her eyes seemed to well with tears, if Billy could believe she cared that much. He stared into her as he watched the words resonate in her mind.

Stu lost his breath. His face went slack. He gaped at Billy. For an instant, he was back in Maureen’s bedroom, watching the rage seethe on Billy’s face. I had picked Maureen, not Billy, he told himself. Why didn’t he tell me? A blur of all their planning sessions, all the tasks he had carried out for Billy whirred through his head. Why didn’t he tell me?

“How’s that for a motive?” Billy continued. “Maternal abandonment causes serious deviant behavior. It certainly fucked you up. It made you have sex with a psychopath.”

Stu snapped back from the wound in his mind. “That’s right. You gave it up. Now, you’re no longer a virgin. Ooh! I said virgin!” Stu covered his mouth and squealed. “Whoops! Now, you got to die. Those are the rules.”

Billy seized Sidney and drew her to him, wrapping around her back. He played with the ends of her bloody hair and savored the fear and rage radiating off her. She felt the way he had felt these past months and years. He had finally succeeded in transferring it to her. And he drank up that success. This was how they were supposed to be.

“Just pretend it’s all a scary movie,” he said into her ear. “How do you think it’s going to end?”

Billy gestured to the hall with the knife. Stu exploded with excitement. They had finally reached the crescendo of his involvement, his masterpiece of contribution.

“Oh! Oh!” Stu shouted, clicking the safety on the gun and placing it on the counter. “This is the greatest part. You’re going to love this! We got a surprise for you, Sidney. Yeah, you’re going to love this one. It’s a scream, baby! Hold on a sec. I’ll be right back!” Stu dissolved into ghastly horror mocking and leaned with Frankenstein arms through the door.

Billy nuzzled deeper into Sidney and clutched her tighter. “You know what time it is, Sid? It’s after midnight. It’s your mom’s anniversary. Congratulations. We killed her exactly one year ago today.”

He had done it, and with Sidney helpless in his grasp, he savored that. They were all just where he wanted them.

“Attention!” Stu shouted.

Stu emerged, wrangling Neil Prescott. Neil hopped forward with his legs bound together by duct tape. The tape molded to his face, and blood trickled down over it. He looked wilted and defeated from his days in the basement.

“Oh, look! What do we have behind door number three, Sidney?” Stu shoved Neil into the kitchen and forward onto the floor. Neil fell to his knees at their feet.

“Daddy!” Sidney dove forward at her father.

Billy caught her by the shoulders and hauled her back to him. “Whoa. Hold it. That’s enough.”

Stu moved up behind Neil. The taxing days of serving as his warden were closing. He beamed in elation at feeling them spiral away into the past, flying away with this entire life behind him. Stu’s hand slithered into his pocket to retrieve the voice changer again. He brought it up to his lips once more, one last time.

“Guess we won’t be needing this anymore, huh?” He pushed the mutated words over Neil’s shoulder then slipped the device into Neil’s pocket. Then he dug into his other pocket to retrieve the cell phone. Just the feel of it in his palm brought thoughts of Casey’s tear-stained cheeks back into his mind. “And oh, look at this. Ring, ring! Won’t need this.” He stuffed the phone in with the voice changer.

“Got the ending figured out yet, Sid?” Billy jostled her in excitement. This was his plan, his brilliance laid at her feet.

“Come on, Sid. You think about it now, huh? Your daddy’s the chief suspect. We cloned his cellular. Evidence is all right there, baby!” Stu shoved Neil hard in the back until he toppled over to the floor.

“What if your father snapped?” Billy mused, slipping back into the fantasy he had been constructing for over a year. “Your mother’s anniversary set him off, and he went on a murder spree, killing everyone.”

“Except for Billy and me. We were left for dead.”

“And then he kills you.” Billy pointed the knife at Sidney’s chest, ready to press it through her flesh. Once she understood. Once she appreciated who he really was. “And shoots himself in the head. Perfect ending.”

“I thought of that.” Stu claimed his credit, his piece of the plan.

Billy pulled Sidney out of the way and stepped forward. He leveled his eyes on Stu. Stu’s heart thumped in dreaded anticipation.

“Watch this,” Billy said to Sidney. “Ready?” he asked Stu.

Stu was not ready. Stu hated this part of the plan. He was here to do the stabbing, not be stabbed. Why can’t I just get knocked unconscious and be left for dead that way? he thought. But he steeled his face. This was for Billy. He planted his feet and pressed his fists into his scalp.

“Yeah, yeah. I’m ready, baby,” Stu changed. “Right, get it up! Yeah, baby, get it up! Hit it!” His voice climbed with his anticipation.

Billy set his stance and stared into Stu’s eyes as he stuck the knife into Stu’s side. The pain blazed up Stu’s nerves. He had never been stabbed before, never cared to consider what it felt like when he plunged the knife into Casey or Dewey or that cameraman. His nervous system seized around the sensation, and his hands tingled as he balled them into fists to compose himself.

Stu folded in half then drew himself up with a hand plastered over the wound. “Good one, man!” Stu chewed back the pain. He would not look like a pussy in front of Billy. “Jesus!” Now, I can return the favor. He tilted his chin down and narrowed his eyes at Billy. “Oh, shit. My turn.”

Billy rolled skeptical eyes to Stu. Stu had followed directions. Stu had executed his tasks well enough to get them here. The victims were dead. Neil Prescott was bounded, gagged, and successfully framed at their feet. Yet Billy’s hand hesitated around the knife. If he did not hand it over, he would lose Stu, and the plan would unravel. He gritted his teeth and extended his arm toward Stu.

“Don’t forget. Stay to the side, and don’t go too deep,” Billy instructed. He seized a handful of Sidney’s jacket.

“Okay, I’ll remember.” Stu’s voice drifted off.

The pain continued to radiate through Stu, sending barbed messages up his nerves. It tickled that wound in his mind, that gap where Billy had not told him why they had killed Maureen Prescott. That massive detail he had not trusted Stu with. A seed of rage trembled in that hole. When Stu plunged the knife into Billy’s side, some of that rage pushed into it.

“Ah! Fuck!” Billy shouted. He turned into the island, shielding his injury. “Fuck! Goddammit, Stu!”

A warm pleasure crawled into the wound in Stu’s mind, a perverted sense of reciprocity. He could not prevent the satisfied leer from creeping over his face.

“Sorry, Billy. I guess I got a little too zealous, huh?” Stu dismissed, looking at Sidney.

Billy extended a bloody hand to Stu. Fake and real blood were no longer distinguishable. Pain cramped over his wound. The blood slid hot along his skin, but anger burned hotter across his forehead. He scarcely felt the pain under his rage. That now pointed at Stu. He should have stabbed himself. He kept his hand out and glared at Stu.

“Give me the knife,” Billy commanded.

Stu flinched internally at Billy’s menace. He forgot how terrifying he could be. “No.”

“Give me the knife. Now!” Billy’s voice shook the kitchen, and Stu surrendered the blade.

Stu turned to Sidney and regained his maniacal grin. “You see, Sid, everybody dies but us. Everybody dies but us. We get to carry on and plan the sequel. Cause let’s face it, baby, these days you got to have a sequel.” Stu’s hands spun in a flurry in front of him, spittle flying from his mouth.

My turn again, Billy thought. He seized Stu’s arm to steady him and brought the knife into his other side. Stu wilted in his grasp. Billy plucked the blade out and dragged up the outside of Stu’s arm, splitting his sweater then his skin.

“You sick fucks have seen too many movies!” Sidney said from behind them.

Billy hesitated for an instant to point the knife over his shoulder back at Sidney, keeping his eyes on Stu, reminding Stu of who he was.

“Sid, don’t blame the movies,” Billy shouted.” The movies don’t create psychos; movies make psychos more creative.” He spun Stu around and slashed the knife along his back.

Stu howled and arched against the injury. “Oh, stop it, Billy, would you? All right? I can’t take it anymore. I’m feeling a little woozy here!”

Stu’s head swam in the pain. His entire body chirped in panic as the blood dripped all around him. He surely would make a convincing victim now. Yet something else blossomed within him. When he glowered at Billy, he did not see his friend; he did not see his partner. He now saw the end of the knife.

Billy pressed the knife to Stu’s chin. “All right. Go get the gun, and I’ll untie pops. Okay?” Stu stared back at him, his blood dripping steady onto the floor. “Now!” Billy shouted.

“Okay.” Stu stared back and spoke softly.

Stu turned around. His head swooned with anger and a wave of dizziness. When he looked at the counter, the void on the white tile perplexed him. He stared at it, waiting for the gun to materialize again, waiting for things to make sense from under the pain.

“Um, Houston, we have a problem here.” Stu tapped his bloody fingers where the gun had been to verify its vacancy.

“What?” Billy turned from looming in Sidney’s face with the knife.

“The gun, man. The gun. I put it right there, and it’s not there.”

Billy stomped across the kitchen to look over Stu’s shoulder. “Where the fuck is it?”

Continued on… Father Death (19)

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is screamicon.webp

Christina Bergling

https://linktr.ee/chrstnabergling

Like my writing? Check out my books!

  • Followers – You never know who is on the other side of the screen. Followers is a mystery and thriller that blends women’s fiction with horror.
  • The Rest Will Come – Online dating would drive anyone to murder, especially Emma.
  • Savages – Two survivors search the ruins for the last strain of humanity. Until the discovery of a baby changes everything.
  • The Waning – Locked in a cage, Beatrix must survive to escape or be broken completely.
  • Screechers – Mutant monsters and humans collide in the apocalyptic fallout of a burned world. Co-authored with Kevin J. Kennedy.
  • Horror Anthologies

Previously on… Father Death (16)

12

Billy peeled himself from the sheets of Stu’s parents’ bed. The fake blood dried so fast and so sticky. His shirt cleaved to him, and his fingers webbed together. When he pulled them apart, the blood separated in the creases along his hands. Flexing his hands, he watched the effect a couple times as he walked to the front-facing window.

Approaching the pane from the side, he peeked around the edge. On the ground below, he glimpsed a black figure shoving a wilted corpse atop the news van parked in the distance. When he registered no other movement, he moved across the window for a better view, releasing a small laugh before swallowing it.

He lingered, watching Stu wrestle the lifeless body, giggling to himself until the corpse seemed properly positioned atop the van. Then as Stu crept across the yard and back into the house, Billy moved away from the window to lurk deeper within and wait for his moment to rejoin the party.

Sweat poured down Stu’s face inside the mask, but he could not wipe it. Perspiration sprouted all over his body, the costume smothering him as his heartbeat attempted to pace itself down from the exertion. His muscles tingled in exhaustion. As he dragged himself through the door, his body began to recover.

Stu peered into the living room. The couch was vacant. Randy must have wandered off when Halloween concluded and he finally realized he was alone.

Stu eased back to the open front door, staying out of sight but getting close enough to glimpse and hear the night wafting in. Things remained quiet for a long moment. Stu again resisted the urge to spirit up the stairs to check in with Billy. Billy wanted him down here, so he remained. His breathing steadied in his stillness, and his sweat finally cooled.

He was ready for another round as voices tickled the edge of the dark outside.

“Is there a phone in the van?” Dewey’s voice mumbled soft in the distance.

“Yeah,” Gale answered, sharper, easier to hear.

“Lock yourself in it and call the sheriff for backup.” Dewey’s voice grew closer.

“Be careful!” Gale called in the distance.

Stu glanced out through the shape of the door and saw Dewey approaching, eyes frantic and gun drawn. Tatum’s annoying older brother. Stu drew deeper into the house. Slamming his back into the doorframe, Dewey entered the house on stuttering steps. Stu could feel Dewey’s fear radiating in before him, and it thrilled him.

How many times he had fantasized about punching this asshole in the jaw? Stu tightened his grip on his knife. Stabbing Dewey was going to be so much better.

“Neil?” Dewey called, his voice shaking. “Mr. Prescott?”

Stu retreated into the house, allowing Dewey to wander farther into the darkened rooms. Stu slunk against the wall, trailing his fingers along the drywall. He passed the living room with Jamie Lee Curtis’s screaming face and loitered in the hallway. Dewey’s steps unknowingly chased him.

“Woodsboro Police,” Dewey called. “Mr. Prescott?”

Neil could probably hear Dewey calling for him from the basement. He was probably fighting wildly against his duct tape gag and bindings. Stu smirked at the thought.

Dewey rounded the corner beside Stu, oblivious to the dark figure standing in wait. He eased past Stu, unaware with his gun wavering in front of him. He rounded to the television and glimpsed the flickering scenes of Halloween.

The movie seemed to calm him as if it explained everything. Dewey relaxed a degree, taking a breath and lowering his gun as he lingered by the wall. Stu crept up behind him then drew his knife and plunged it into Dewey’s spine.

Dewey released a yowl and arched into the injury. His knees buckled, and he collapsed at Stu’s feet in a pile of police uniform. Releasing the knife, leaving it planted in Dewey’s back, he stepped back to watch him.

Dewey puddled at Stu’s feet for a moment then reanimated in his pain. He slapped his palm to the hardwood and fought to press himself up, hissing and grunting with each motion. He craned his neck and turned wild eyes to Stu, ingesting the looming ghostly figure in pure panic. Stu towered over him and tilted his head to watch Dewey flounder.

Dewey crawled across the floor, dragging himself on his belly at first. Once he put distance between himself and Stu, he hauled himself to his feet, clinging to the wall and staggering back to the front door. Stu allowed him his clumsy escape before chasing his steps.

Screams and commotion filtered through the front door. A crash echoed in the distance. Then Sidney’s voice came from the night again.

“Dewey!” she called, desperate. “Dewey! Dewey, where are you?”

Dewey stiffened at the sound of Sidney’s voice. His shaky steps surged forward. He tripped out onto the front porch, clutching the column for support.

“Dewey?” Sidney’s voice was closer.

“Sidney?” he replied.

As soon as her name tumbled from his lips, he collapsed heavy to the porch, exposing the blade still protruding from his back. Sidney kept approaching, drawn to Dewey’s weakness. Stu grinned and capitalized.

“Dewey.” Her voice wilted.

You know what would be creepy? he asked himself. Pulling this knife out of Dewey and fucking stabbing her with it. I would love to see that in a movie.

The inspiration charged Stu, and he took long strides to through the door and to Dewey’s body. Seizing the knife theatrically, he tore it from Dewey’s spine, turning his ghostly face directly toward Sidney and wiping the knife off to show her it was her turn. The way her jaw went slack and her eyes glimmered in fear told him it was a great idea.

Sidney turned her fearful face away from Stu as he stepped over Dewey’s crumpled body and advanced toward her. She scurried around Dewey’s Jeep and threw herself inside. When she looked away, Stu stooped down to snag the keys from Dewey’s belt.

Above their heads, Billy leaned restless toward the window again. He grew bored with all this waiting, all this biding his time while he allowed Stu to corral the pawns. Orchestration could be tedious in the execution. He watched Sidney close herself inside the Jeep as Stu marched toward the vehicle.

Sidney appeared different to him now, cowering in fear inside the Jeep. He had already had her. He had already won. Now, he just needed to finish things. The downhill trajectory in his plan soothed him. The writhing rage in his chest simmered when he saw her so helpless now.

Stu seized the passenger’s door handle, but Sidney swiftly locked it. She dumped herself into the driver’s seat and furiously rolled up the window as Stu marched around the front. She clicked the lock down as he reached the door.

Stu snickered to himself as she groped at the vacant ignition then fumbled around for the keys looped around his index finger. He tapped on the glass with the tip of his knife. She turned her wide eyes up to him, her face almost beautiful with all that drying blood. He lifted his hand to display the dangling keys and savored the dismay spreading over her features.

Sidney never would have granted him that control if she could see his face. She always dismissed him as a goof-off, only tolerated him due to his proximity to Tatum. Behind this mask, she could not deny him. Behind this mask, she was terrified of him. He chortled silently behind the plastic before dropping to the dirt out of sight.

Slithering below the Jeep and wriggling to the other side, he extended his long arm to unlock the door. He immediately heard Sidney’s hand slam down on the lock again. He crept to the back of the vehicle and released the lock on the tailgate, allowing it to rise silently. Then he slunk to the driver’s side and unlocked the door. She again pushed it back down.

From within the Jeep, the police radio spouted garbled words. Stu heard Sidney fumble at the receiver. With her distracted, he hurried to the open back and climbed into the trunk.

“Hello! Help Me! I’m at Stu Macher’s house on Turner Lane. It’s 261 Turner Lane. Please, he’s going to try and kill me,” Sidney cried into the radio, mashing her fist against her head.

It was not time for cops yet. They were not ready for that. Stu reached over the seat and seized Sidney’s throat to silence her. Her windpipe flexed, and tendons rolled under his grip as he strangled her. Sidney sunk into her seat, flailing at Stu. He ignored the blows until her feet leveled on his head. Those impacts dazed him and sent him tumbling back on the seat.

Stu peered out of the window to watch Sidney scurry across the yard. As she moved, Randy rounded in front of the Jeep and approached her. Stu stripped off his mask and sloughed off his costume, abandoning it in the back of the Jeep and creeping around the trunk. Randy skidded on stiff steps with his hand planted in his pocket.

“Sidney! Sidney,” Randy called. “Jesus, we got to get the fuck out of here.”

As Stu turned appear as if he was just approaching the scene, Sidney stooped down to snatch the gun from Dewey’s belt. She pointed it at Randy. Randy’s footsteps stuttered as he raised his hands.

“Stop right there,” Sidney said.

“Don’t shoot,” Randy said. “It’s me. I found Tatum. She’s dead. I think Stu did it.”

Fucking Randy, Stu thought. He really does know this shit. Fucker is always right. On cue, Stu hurried up beside Randy and plastered a pleading expression on his face.

“Don’t listen to him, Sidney,” Stu begged.

“Stay back.” Sidney swung the gun between Randy and Stu, retreating toward the house.

“Stu did it.” Randy grabbed the railing and ascended the porch steps.

“He killed Billy,” Stu argued. “He killed my Tatum.” He reached out toward Randy. “You did it. You killed my Tatum.” Stu snatched Randy’s arm and threw him from the porch steps into the gravel.

“No, I didn’t. You lied.”

Stu wanted to shrug and say, well yeah. He wanted to tip his hand to Randy and laugh at the realization on his face. Randy did love to be right about these things. It would be the perfect thing to give him before Billy killed him. Unfortunately, it would unravel the entire scheme, so Stu kept his outraged and pitiful expression for Sidney.

“Sidney, baby, please give me that gun.” He stretched his hands out to Sidney as he climbed the stairs after her. “Give me that gun. Christ, man.”

“No, he did it, Sid,” Randy protested, joining them on the porch. “He did it. He did it, Sidney. Please, I didn’t do it. He did it, Sidney. Please, Sidney. No!”

He is right. He is so completely right. Again, Stu thought.

The three of them stood frozen, exchanging pleading stares. Sidney looked from one to the other before gripping the edge of the massive door.

“Fuck you both!” she shouted before heaving it shut in their faces.

The door rattled in its frame as it slammed shut in Randy and Stu’s faces. Randy gaped at it, shock and heartbreak dripping down his cheeks. His palms flew up to slap desperate at the wood, bat in denial that Sidney would point a gun at him and shut him out.

“No, no, Sidney!” Randy whimpered against the woodgrain. “Open up. He did it. Help me! He’s going crazy, Sidney.”

Stu could no longer contain his glee. The smile burst uncontrolled upon his cheeks. The door was closed. Sidney could not see. Randy was about to die. It didn’t matter anymore. He could be himself. He could let the mask slip.

Randy pawed and knocked at the door, calling and whimpering Sidney’s name. Stu permitted a chuckle to dribble from his lips. Randy turned to him slowly, scrutinizing him.

“I knew it,” Randy breathed against the door.

Stu surged forward and snatched Randy by the collar, pinning him to the door. Randy fumbled against the wood, produced more knocks for Sidney. Stu brought his mouth close to Randy’s ear and poured his soft words inside.

“You got it, buddy,” Stu mocked. “You were right. About everything.”

Stu pushed back to meet Randy’s eyes. Shock stretched Randy’s features.

Why was he shocked? He called it. He had known.

It only felt right to Stu to tell him before Billy sliced him apart. Stu stared into Randy’s pupils until Randy became uncomfortable; then he gave him a little shove into the door and snickered in his ear.

Stu left Randy pinned against the door and ran off into the night.

Continued on… Father Death (18)

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is screamicon.webp

Christina Bergling

https://linktr.ee/chrstnabergling

Like my writing? Check out my books!

  • Followers – You never know who is on the other side of the screen. Followers is a mystery and thriller that blends women’s fiction with horror.
  • The Rest Will Come – Online dating would drive anyone to murder, especially Emma.
  • Savages – Two survivors search the ruins for the last strain of humanity. Until the discovery of a baby changes everything.
  • The Waning – Locked in a cage, Beatrix must survive to escape or be broken completely.
  • Screechers – Mutant monsters and humans collide in the apocalyptic fallout of a burned world. Co-authored with Kevin J. Kennedy.
  • Horror Anthologies

Previously on… Father Death (15)

11

Billy clung to the pillow as he thrust into Sidney. She was disappearing beneath him as the sensations flared over his mind. Her moans seemed distant as he buried his mouth in her neck. The pressure mounted behind his looming orgasm, and his focus narrowed.

He pushed back up on his arms to see Sidney’s face, to remind himself she was there, to see that he had won. Sidney’s brow furrowed as she bit at her lip. That wrinkle in her palette tugged on something, harkened back to a flicker of Maureen. Billy could not unsee how much she looked like her mother panting below him. His brain exploded with flashes of the fear contorting Maureen’s face one year ago, Sidney’s terror as Stu chased her the other night, Casey’s tears before she died. His eyes fluttered at the slideshow before he came hard.

Sidney breathed beneath Billy, her inhalations lifting him before he rolled onto the pillow beside her. He pushed the sweaty strands of hair from his forehead and smoothed them back into place. Sidney pulled the sheet up to cover her naked body, the movement reminding Billy she was there. He rolled to his side and plastered a loving grin on his face, leaning in to kiss her.

Sidney offered her wide smile in return, letting her hand play at the side of Billy’s face. She pecked at his lips a couple times before drawing herself to a sitting position, keeping the sheet pressed against her chest.

“How do you feel?” Billy asked a question he should ask.

“Okay.” Sidney nodded as she turned toward her clothes.

Billy followed Sidney’s lead and slid from the bed to fetch his clothes strewn over the floor. He glanced to watch Sidney dress herself, slow and silent. Dropping to the ground, he did the same as he scrutinized her. She kept her back to him, but he did not need to see her face to know her brow still wavered. She pulled her jacket on and flipped her hair over the collar.

Everything back in place as if they had never fucked.

“You okay?” Billy asked.

“Yeah, yeah, I’m fine.” Once she had her clothes back on, she reached for the brush on Stu’s mom’s bedside table to run it through her hair. Sidney replaced the brush and glanced at the phone on the table. “Who’d you call?”

“What?”

“Well, I don’t know. When you’re arrested, you are allowed one phone call. I was just curious, who’d you call?”

Stu. To call you, you dumb bitch. “I called my dad.” Billy cast his eyes away in the lie.

“No, Sheriff Burke called your dad. I saw him.”

Fuck. Billy’s mind scrambled for traction. “Yeah, but when I called, I didn’t get an answer.”

“Huh.” Sidney kept her back to Billy, mechanically slipping on her shoes.

The burning sensation rose in Billy’s chest as he stared at her. “You don’t still think it was me, do you?”

“No. No.” Sidney forced a laugh. She turned on the mattress to face him, drawing her leg up. “I was just thinking, if it was you, it would be a clever way to throw me off track. You know to use your one phone call to call me so I wouldn’t think it was you. That’s all.”

No, clever would be to call Stu to throw you off track without a trace. “Really?” Billy could feel the rage on his face, but it was the appropriate look. He crawled forward and placed his hands on the mattress. “What do I have to do to prove to you I am not a killer? Huh?”

Billy heard the door squeak softly behind him and Stu’s weight depress the floor, but he ignored it. He burrowed his eyes into Sidney and watched her face contort. Her eyes widened as they caught sight of Stu behind him. She trembled in her fear, and Billy fought his lips from turning up.

“Oh my god,” she breathed. “Oh my god!”

“Sidney?” Billy played the oblivious boyfriend.

“Billy, watch out!” Sidney reached out to him.

Billy whirled around on cue. Stu looked foreign with his ghost face, but Billy could not resist giving him a sinister grin. Stu stomped forward and planted his feet in a killer stance. Then he thrust the bloody water balloon into Billy’s hands. Billy hunched around the balloon and positioned it over his stomach. Wielding his knife, Stu feigned a violent stab and punctured the balloon. Billy smashed it into his chest and smeared it over his shirt and hands as Stu planted a hand on his shoulder and continued to pretend to stab him.

Stu stepped back to give Billy the room to spin back to Sidney. Billy turned dramatically and cast a hand outward to fling splatter on Sidney’s face. He twisted his face into a pitiful and agonized mask and reached a trembling, bloody hand to her.

“Sid,” he panted before collapsing on the sheets.

“No!” Sidney cried. “Shit!”

Stu looked down at Billy’s crumpled body on his parents’ bed. At least someone was getting use out of this room. He grinned wide beneath the mask. From the horror on Sidney’s face, they had played their scene perfectly. The blood spread all over Billy was quite convincing.

Stu faced Sidney square, lifted the knife, and wiped the blood off with his glove. He gripped the blade tight, so it squeaked against the fabric. Sidney covered her mouth in horror, her bangs quivering behind her fingertips.

Stu ran around the foot of the bed and lunged after Sidney. She scrambled quick over the mattress beside Billy and through the door. Pulling the pocket door closed behind her, she locked it. Stu pounded on it a couple times for effect, chuckling to himself as she sprinted. Then he ambled in the opposite direction. He heard her footsteps race around the rooms, but he knew this house better. He haunted every inch of this empty house every day.

He jogged casual around the other way and interrupted her flight. As she descended the brief flight of stairs in the hall, he emerged to meet her. The shock on her face was bliss.

He would love to stab her, love to get rid of her. She was always whining, always in the way. Without her, he and Billy could finally move on, somewhere else. Together.

Sidney skidded to a halt and tore back the way she came. She scrambled up the stairs with Stu on her heels. He could nearly take hold of her hair or jacket. As soon as he felt he was closing in, she snatched the open door and smashed it closed on him. The impact took him off his feet. He met the unforgiving floor disoriented.

As Stu struggled to his feet, his head buzzing, Sidney dove into the storage room and slammed the door behind her. When Stu caught up to the door, the knob refused to move. He struggled with it until he freed it. Then the door stopped short against his surfboard.

Here we go again. “Fucking bitch,” he hissed inside the plastic mask.

He pushed and wrestled with the door until he wriggled it open a crack. He wedged his face and arms through to glimpse Sidney’s terrified face. She spun around and dashed toward the windows.

He listened to Sidney fumble through his room as he crouched down. He wormed his hand through the opening in the door and slipped it under the surfboard. Then he shuffled the surfboard upright by frustrating, slow degrees. Once he got it upr, he shifted it out of the way of the door and toppled it over into the room.

He burst into his bedroom and stomped over the surfboard. He scanned the room in desperation. She had been in here alone too long. He didn’t want to find her hiding in the closet like Laurie Strode.

“Help me! Help!” Sidney’s voice screamed from outside his window.

He glimpsed her hands clinging to the windowsill. He sprinted through the hazards of neglected things and seized her wrist. Sidney shrieked. She twisted her wrist in his hand and leaned back hard in his grip. Laughing to himself, he released her to gravity.

He watched Sidney arch through the night air, legs and arms flailing against the darkness. Her body met his father’s boat with an unpleasant thud, but she rolled off alive quickly. Before she could cast eyes to glimpse him, Stu ducked out of the window and ran back through his room.

Sidney wasn’t supposed to die yet anyway.

Stu wanted to check in with Billy. He wanted to relive how well they executed his false murder. He wanted to do this together. But you could not have two people embodying one killer that way, not with this many victims still alive. Stu had too many things to do before they regrouped. And one of them was lazily drinking and babbling on his couch.

Billy would have wanted to kill Randy himself for always coveting Sidney and generally just being a pain in the ass. He could thank Stu for doing it for him. It could be something Stu did right for him.

Stu hustled down the stairs, avoiding every squeak in the floor, and moved toward the living room. He could hear Randy slurring from the couch as he approached.

“No, Jamie, watch out. Watch out, Jamie. You know he’s around. You know. Look, look, there he is. I told you. I told you. He’s right around the corner.”

How perfect, Stu laughed to himself. Guess you don’t get to survive a horror movie either, prick.

Stu tempered the skip in his step as he loomed behind Randy, preparing the strike.

“Jamie, look behind you. Jamie, look behind you,” Randy begged, leaning toward the screen. “Look behind you. Turn around. Behind you. Behind you, Jamie. Turn around”

“Somebody, help me! Help me!” Sidney’s screams from outside snatched Stu’s attention.

Begrudgingly, Stu left Randy yelling at Jamie on the couch and slipped out the front door, leaving it ominously ajar behind him. He perched on the edge of the porch and squinted across his dark yard, scanning the shadows for movement.

“Help me! Help me! Let me in!” Sidney’s screams snatched his attention again, and he caught sight of her at the news van. “The killer’s after me. He’s in the house.”

The cameraman pulled her through the door and yanked it shut behind her. Stu sprinted across the grass toward the van, pressing himself against the tail end of the van and listening to the voices within.

“Behind you, kid,” the cameraman said.

“Randy!” Sidney yelled. “Behind you.”

Stu frowned and tilted his head in an odd blip of déjà vu. They continues to yell and babble within the van. Then the door howled along into tracks as the cameraman dumped himself out onto his feet. The large man quivered as he whipped his bulging eyes from side to side.

“Aw, 30-second delay,” the man said, leaning into the van before turning out again.

Stu shrugged at the simplicity and surged forward, bringing his blade across the man’s thick neck.

The cameraman’s eyes swelled larger in their sockets as he registered the trauma. His hands floated up to the injury as he sputtered. Blood poured from the slash in his throat like a fountain. He turned slow toward Sidney, gripping the edge of the door, before wilting to the dirt.

Sidney gaped at the fallen man, quivering in her shock and fear. Then she locked her eyes on Stu and seized the door. She heaved it closed, but before she could latch it, Stu thrust his knife through the waning opening. He felt the blade hesitate against flesh. Sidney cried out from inside the van, and the door slammed shut.

Sidney released the door and tumbled backward, clutching her bleeding shoulder. Stu jostled the locked handle before reaching through the open window. He lifted the lock then ripped open the door and threw himself after her. Sidney clawed her way across the van floor. Stu reached for her ankles, yet they kicked out of reach as she fell through a small opening in the corner. Stu scurried after her until his shoulders wedged him in place. The opening was too narrow. He pounded his knife-wielding fist on the bumper in frustration.

Sidney disappeared into the shadows, hobbling and running into the distance. Irritation radiated through Stu, and his plastic mask felt suffocating. Shoving back and dragging his knife against the floor of the van, he retreated until he was tripping over the cameraman’s corpse.

Stu regarded the immobile body at his feet and tipped his head. It was a lot of man, but this movie really did need a body reveal. The victim pool was not scared enough, with just Sidney limping around bleeding and screaming. Dewey and Gale Weathers were out here somewhere and needed a good scare before the knife. Stu looked to the roof of the news van then back to the body. Then he slipped the knife into its holster and took a deep breath.

Continued on… Father Death (17)

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is screamicon.webp

Christina Bergling

https://linktr.ee/chrstnabergling

Like my writing? Check out my books!

  • Followers – You never know who is on the other side of the screen. Followers is a mystery and thriller that blends women’s fiction with horror.
  • The Rest Will Come – Online dating would drive anyone to murder, especially Emma.
  • Savages – Two survivors search the ruins for the last strain of humanity. Until the discovery of a baby changes everything.
  • The Waning – Locked in a cage, Beatrix must survive to escape or be broken completely.
  • Screechers – Mutant monsters and humans collide in the apocalyptic fallout of a burned world. Co-authored with Kevin J. Kennedy.
  • Horror Anthologies

It has been about a quarter since my last accountability post about my writing progress. I am happy to say that the plan has worked. I have found my way back to writing. (Medication also doesn’t hurt, but that’s for another post.) Perhaps my passion and enjoyment is not as high as it has been at other times, but it has been good.

Broken Glass Photography

My life has descended into a bit of chaos. Writing became expression and escape once more. As it always has been for me.

Broken Glass Photography

I was dreading restructuring my WIP novel (partially because the critiques undermined my perception at a weak time). And it was a slog, a long road with many turns, rest stops, and detours. Yet I reclaimed the fun in the process. Once I let myself be swept away by the world and reacquainted with my characters, I lost myself there. I enjoyed creating new chapters to expand things. The story grew in my mind, and that is one of the best parts of writing.

Now, the WIP novel is off to some gracious beta readers to let me know if I have stitched Frankenstein together to resemble a man. Then I will give it an end to end edit (likely hidden in a hotel as is my usual). At that point, we will be back to where I started, and I can try to mount the publication hill once more.

And it has definitely moved me up the agenda:

  • Get to the next milestone in the new story ✔️
  • Outline the restructure of the rewrite novel ✔️
  • Restructure the rewrite novel and write new scenes ✔️
  • While rewrite novel cools, edit fan fiction novel ✔️
  • Post fan fiction novel ✔️
  • Edit rewrite novel
  • Return to new story

I have been posting my fan fiction novel, Father Death. My playful escape, my writing jumpstart is still bringing me joy. It tickles me to live on that side of the movie, so putting it out in the world makes me happy. Especially just in time for horror season.

It is nice to feel like myself mentally as my physically form is enduring minor deterioration. I return to writing as my safe space, my break in the storm, my center. While it is not perfect, as nothing in this life is, it is familiar.

I have even done some author events in person. The first since the pandemic. I’m still pretty terrible at promoting and selling, but I am trying to adapt to the shifting landscape. Though I would prefer to focus on only creation. This is part of being a published author, I suppose.

So I interrupt the regular posting of Father Death episodes to say I am alive (if not a little wounded); I am back to writing; and I am making progress. One of my favorite things is to check things off a list.

Tell me… how do you distract from the madness around you? How do you coax yourself into being productive?

Christina Bergling

https://linktr.ee/chrstnabergling

Like my writing? Check out my books!

  • Followers – You never know who is on the other side of the screen. Followers is a mystery and thriller that blends women’s fiction with horror.
  • The Rest Will Come – Online dating would drive anyone to murder, especially Emma.
  • Savages – Two survivors search the ruins for the last strain of humanity. Until the discovery of a baby changes everything.
  • The Waning – Locked in a cage, Beatrix must survive to escape or be broken completely.
  • Screechers – Mutant monsters and humans collide in the apocalyptic fallout of a burned world. Co-authored with Kevin J. Kennedy.
  • Horror Anthologies

Previously on… Father Death (14)

10

Billy stripped the beer-soaked costume from his body and abandoned it in the darkened laundry room. He pulled a fresh shirt from the basket on the dryer and tugged it over his head, donning one of Stu’s button-up shirts. The costume had thankfully absorbed the majority of Tatum’s assault, and Billy smelled no worse than any other party-going teenager. He placed his knife in the folds of the fabric for later, smoothed down his hair, and slipped back out the same unattended door.

“Happy Curfew!” Stu called from the front porch as attendees filtered out and to their cars.

Billy glimpsed Dewey’s Jeep parked among the other cars. He guessed you could not extend an underage party with a deputy staked right outside, hovering over Sidney. None of them knew he would be dead soon enough. They would all be dead soon enough.

Billy jogged up the cement path and snuck to the side of the door. When he heard Sidney calling Tatum from just inside the threshold, he popped into the doorway with a yell. He caught eyes with Stu and raised his eyebrows.

“Billy, hey,” Sidney smiled.

Billy could tell she was trying to conceal her shock, trying to appear welcoming. Her effort was apparent in the way her fingers flirted with her forehead and the way she plastered her signature smile across her lips.

Stu planted a finger on his chin. “Hmmm, Billy, what are you doing here?”

“I was hoping to talk to Sidney alone,” Billy said.

“You know, if Tatum sees you, she’ll draw blood,” Sidney said.

Not anymore, Billy thought. He wanted to laugh, thinking of Tatum smashed by a garage door opener, but he contained it to a smirk.

“You know, why don’t you guys go up to my parents’ bedroom? You guys can talk.” Stu caught his fist in his other hand. “Whatever.” He tilted his head suggestively.

“Subtlety, Stu, you should look it up,” Billy scolded.

“No, it’s okay. We do need to talk.” Sidney extended her hand to Billy.

Billy took Sidney’s hand and gave Stu a swift shot in the testicles as he passed. He figured Stu deserved that after his girlfriend had just launched beers into Billy’s groin and face. They could discuss that later. If Stu survived.

“Oh, ow!” Stu laughed, watching Sidney lead Billy up the stairs.

Randy appeared from within the party. “What’s Leatherface doing here?” he asked, looking longingly up after them.

“Cute,” Stu said. “He came to make up.”

“There goes my chance with Sid. Damn it.”

“As if. That’s all I’m going to say. As if.” Stu pushed the door closed.

“Oh really, Alicia? As if.”

Stu threw a peace sign into Randy’s face and wandered into the house to the stragglers left on the couch. The reference to Alicia and Clueless conjured up memories of Casey and now Tatum for Stu. All his blondes. He smiled at the private connection.

Stu moved into his living room, the tails of his father’s absurd satin robe billowing behind him. His father was never home to wear it, so Stu donned it while he was alone in his house. And tonight, he wore it in case this was the last night he spent in this house. The last normal night, at least. Tomorrow, he would be Stu Macher, the survivor, or the killer, or just dead. In any case, he would no longer be this Stu Macher, whose own parents couldn’t give a shit what he was doing as a killer was on the rampage.

Stu looked up at the television to see the opening scenes of Halloween flashing. For an instant, he saw Casey on his couch, huddled against him, watching it. He felt her body against his mouth. Then he heard her shaking voice answering Michael Myers into the phone. He could feel her guts pooling at his feet again. All the memories surged through him in a rush.

He vaulted over the couch and rejoined the party.

Sidney reached the top of the stairs and stopped, looking confused between the doors. Billy joined her on the landing and gently pointed to Stu’s parents’ bedroom. The room was always vacant. He had slept in their bed many times when he stayed over while they were off jet-setting wherever. He had fantasized about fucking Sidney while laying on that mattress.

Sidney flashed a sheepish smile and squeezed Billy’s fingers a little tighter. He registered a slight tremble in that grip. A muddled excitement throbbed in Billy’s veins. With the echoes of Tatum’s swinging corpse still in his ears, he had been fixated on finally killing Sidney, finally completing the circle he started with her mother. He had abandoned the goal of bedding her first.

Yet, here she was, guiding him to a bed with that damned coy smile on her lips. It seemed impossible that he would get to accomplish both tonight. The duality in his motivation throbbed with his pulse as he wrangled his good boyfriend mask back onto his face one last time.

Sidney eased down to perch on the end of Stu’s parents’ bed. Billy paced in front of her a couple times, looking around as if he were a foreigner in the space. Then he settled beside her. He attempted not to vibrate in anticipation. He held himself calm and relaxed, putting a supportive expression on his face. He gripped his knees as if he was searching for the words until Sidney offered him an encouraging smile.

“So, um,” Billy started. “So, I’m sorry. I’ve been selfish, and I want to apologize.”

“No, Billy,” Sidney interrupted. “I am the one who’s been selfish and self-absorbed with all this post-traumatic stress.”

“You lost your mom.” The words were misshapen in Billy’s mouth. He did not know if he wanted to laugh or yell, but he did neither. He kept playing his part.

“Yeah, I know, but you’re right. Enough is enough. I can’t wallow in the grief process forever, and—” Sidney paused. Then her voice became small. “I can’t keep lying to myself about who my mother was.” She sniffed and rubbed her forehead. “I think I’m really scared that I’m going to turn out just like her, you know? Like the bad seed or something. And I know it doesn’t make any sense.”

She has been listening. “Yeah, it does. It’s like Jodie Foster in Silence of the Lambs when she keeps having flashbacks of her dead father.”

“This is life. This isn’t a movie.”

“Sure, it is, Sid. It’s all—it’s all a movie. It’s just one great, big movie.” Billy reached out and laced his hand into Sidney’s hair, caressing her cheek until his thumb found her lips. “Only you can’t pick your genre.”

He knew which genre he was picking for her.

Sidney pressed her lips into Billy’s thumb. Then she stroked his face before leaning in to kiss him. She burrowed into his shoulder as he wrapped his arms around her and brought his mouth to her neck. Her proximity, her smell, the feel of her brought his nerves to attention. The pointed edge of his thoughts hazed and blunted. He felt his skin and his blood.

“Why can’t I be a Meg Ryan movie?” Sidney said over his back as he was lost in the sensation of her. “Or even a good porno.”

The last word broke over Billy’s brain and left him momentarily in shock. She’s fucking with me. She’s teasing again. “What?”

“You heard me.” Sidney drew away from him so he could see her eyes.

“Are you sure?” He didn’t care if she was sure, but he knew it was what he was supposed to ask.

“Yeah, I think so.” Blush painted her cheeks.

Billy could not contain the smile. He only tempered the edges to keep it from looking predatory. He reached up along her neck, past her pulse and into her hair, and pulled her into him. He kissed her deeply and pushed her back on the mattress. All thoughts of murder moved to after.

Ravenous energy raced along Billy’s skin. He wanted to grab at her and rip the clothes from her body. But that was not what Sidney was finally agreeing to; that was not what he had finally convinced her to do. He had to cage himself and take this her way. He bit back the surging monster within him and kissed her, gentle but hungry.

Sidney kissed back tentative at first, almost laughing in the way she exhaled in stutters. Then she melted into him and surrendered to the undulations of his tongue in her mouth. He pinned her body down with his and worked his mouth along her neck as his hand roamed. He had waited so long for her concession that the momentum swept him up. Sidney wriggled under him until she could find his mouth.

She pushed him back with her kiss until he eased off of her. Then she grasped the hem of her own shirt and stripped it off over her head. Her hair fluttered back into place after it. Billy glimpsed her small, white bra. As he tugged off his own shirt, Sidney reached behind her back to unlatch the bra.

She actually meant it this time. This was no tease. She was finally serious.

“You are so amazing,” Billy said.

Sidney exposed her breasts, and Billy enveloped her. Her bare skin pressed into his. He felt her flesh, so warm and alive, and was excited by the impermanence of that. This moment, here against him, was one of her very last.

He guided Sidney to her back, ruminating on her bare skin and her final moments. His heartbeat climbed in his chest as he moved over her, parting her legs with his knee. He settled on top of her and aligned his body with hers. She lifted her head to meet his and pecked him with gentle kisses. He swallowed her in a deep kiss before moving his mouth down her body.

Sidney’s stomach fluttered as Billy’s lips trailed along it. Her moans were punctuated with shaking giggles. He reached the top of her pants and brought his hands up to unbutton them. Once he slid her pants down, he freed himself from his own, kicking them off frantically.

He slid back up over Sidney and looked down into her eyes. A different kind of fear greeted him; a soft and seductive sort of fear wound into the edges of her smile, hinted in the corners of her eyes. Yet it gave him the same thrill.

“Are you ready?” he asked.

Sidney sank her teeth into her bottom lip and nodded. Billy took one deliberate breath then pushed himself inside Sidney. She gasped in his ear, and her back arched underneath him.

He had won. He was going to take everything from her. This moment. Her mother. And soon, her life.

He could tell she had waited for him, even though he had not waited for her.

His mind crackled with sensations. Mounting waves of pleasure and victory rolled up his nerves. Sidney moaned and breathed in his ear as he moved harder and faster by degrees. He wanted to clamp his hands around her neck right now and combine that look of fear with his brewing orgasm. He was tempted to combine this success with the ultimate goal. But then he would be killing Sidney out of sequence. He would be robbing himself of the reunion with her father and his entire master plan. Even seeing her death mask in this moment was not worth missing her face when he revealed all.

He would not tug on this thread to unravel his entire plot.

He clutched the pillow above Sidney’s head and focused on one thing at a time.

“I’ll be right back!” Stu yelled dramatically before zombie walking back into the dark hallway to a roar of approval.

He left Randy in the living room, toasting his demise with a beer. Turning away from the party, he continued to laugh and shake his head. Rules to survive a horror movie? What a jackass, he thought. Those rules need not apply if you are the killer.

Stu knew it was time. Sidney giving in and putting out was an added bonus. That would put Billy in a better mood and might make the stabbing session later go a bit better. Or Stu could hope. He did not like to think about Billy with Sidney. It brewed a twitching jealousy in his chest that he had to keep pushing down, shoving aside. He rounded into the laundry room to don his costume and get to work.

As he slipped his knife into its holster and placed the mask over his face, he heard the party dissolve into chaos.

“Let’s go before they pry him down!” one voice called.

Stu adjusted his gloves and straightened the hood around his neck. Planting his feet, he stretched one side of his body and the other. In the distant room, footsteps slammed the floorboards as they fled the house. The yells, cheers, and singing continued as their vehicle engines started.

“The football field! Come on!” another yelled.

The cars rumbled off into the distance, and the house around Stu settled back into quiet. The television continued to mumble the steady bars of suspenseful music down the hallway. Stu took a deep breath and popped his neck before pumping his arms in front of his chest a couple times. He reached over the washer and opened the cabinet.

The water balloons of fake blood quivered at the movement of the cabinet. Stu grasped the first trembling bulb. He gave it a gentle squeeze to ensure it would not burst then slipped it within his robe.

It’s time, he told himself. Here we go. It’s time.

He repeated the mantra in his mind as he slunk along the hallway. His pulse increased until he could feel its throb in his veins, and his skin prickled against his robe. Each step reverberated up his entire body as he moved back through the light and to the staircase. Randy draped alone across the couch as Jamie Lee Curtis flickered across the screen in front of him. Stu glanced in his direction before creeping up the stairs.

Continued on… Father Death (16)

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is screamicon.webp

Christina Bergling

https://linktr.ee/chrstnabergling

Like my writing? Check out my books!

  • Followers – You never know who is on the other side of the screen. Followers is a mystery and thriller that blends women’s fiction with horror.
  • The Rest Will Come – Online dating would drive anyone to murder, especially Emma.
  • Savages – Two survivors search the ruins for the last strain of humanity. Until the discovery of a baby changes everything.
  • The Waning – Locked in a cage, Beatrix must survive to escape or be broken completely.
  • Screechers – Mutant monsters and humans collide in the apocalyptic fallout of a burned world. Co-authored with Kevin J. Kennedy.
  • Horror Anthologies

Previously on… Father Death (13)

9

Billy sat on the hill overlooking the football field as the sun died in the sky. In the fading light, he saw Steven Orth moving across the field in his final practice before Billy and Stu coerced him into their backseat. Billy smiled at the nostalgic figment and the way it meandered into his memory of gutting Steve in Casey’s backyard.

The night in Casey’s backyard felt like a lifetime ago. Maureen’s bedroom seemed even longer. It was as if Billy had lived entire lives in between. He had become a different person with each life stolen by his design.

And it was all leading to tonight. It was all about to culminate. Billy sucked in the cooling evening air and felt that reverberate through him.

When night fully heaped in the sky and darkness pressed down on the field, Billy pressed up to stand, brushing his hands on his pants. He trudged through the shadows and to the equipment shed.

He found Principal Himbry’s body folded in the wheelbarrow where they had left it. Billy gripped the edge of the plastic bag and peered inside. Principal Himbry’s still-wide eyes reflected the dim light pouring in from behind Billy. Billy smirked down at the fear forever frozen on his dead face. Resisting the urge to whistle as he heaped rope on top of the corpse, he pushed the wheelbarrow out onto the field.

This seemed like grunt work. This seemed like work Billy should have been orchestrating. This seemed like Stu work. Billy looked between the heavy body and the high goal post and sighed. Stu was tending to their fall guy and gathering their victims. Billy could set this piece on display. If he had to.

Billy cast casual eyes all around to verify the empty field. Everyone was distracted; everyone was under curfew. He could bask in public solitude as he positioned the wheelbarrow directly under the goal post then tore the bag away from the corpse. He felt more at ease looking at Principal Himbry’s dead face, reliving the fear that he had put there.

Gathering the rope in his hand, he unwound the bundle. He stepped back and pitched the end of the rope toward the arm of the goal post. It arched into the night then wilted back at his face.

“Fuck,” Billy hissed.

Snatching the rope up again, he pitched the end up over and over until it finally swung up and looped over the arm of the goal post. He pumped his fist in victory as he retrieved the successful end. Tugging the rope along, he moved to Principal Himbry’s corpse. He folded the body over on itself, propping it into a seated position as best the wheelbarrow could support. He threaded the rope under Principal Himbry’s armpits and bound it tight.

Billy yanked on the rope to pull Principal Himbry’s body upright. The knot held, so Billy exchanged the bound end for the side draped over the goal post. He tugged hard, pulling the length taut. Then he leaned with his weight and crawled his grip hand over hand. Principal Himbry’s body shifted in the wheelbarrow then steadily dangled from the rope. Body flopped in the bind, Principal Himbry’s wide eyes caught the dim light to glint down at Billy.

Grunting and struggling, Billy clung to the rope with trembling hands. Principal Himbry seemed to get heavier the higher he managed to heave him into the air. Sweat trickled through his hair. He pinned his elbows in the rope and walked backwards to the goal post, circling it and wrapping the rope around the post.

Billy peered around the goal. Principal Himbry’s corpse hung limp from the rope, arms and legs swinging gently in the residual motion. The silhouette was perfect and horrifying. The warmth of admiration poured off Billy’s chest. He secured the rope to the post and finally released his aching hands.

Shaking out then massaging his hands, he returned to the wheelbarrow. Grasping the handles, he migrated the wheelbarrow to Principal Himbry’s feet. Then Billy placed his feet in the wheelbarrows and extended himself toward the body. He slipped the knife from the forearm holster and slashed across the stomach, spilling Principal Himbry’s guts on the ground between them.

Stu hummed to himself as he replaced the duct tape in the kitchen drawer. Then he eased around the island to extract a few beers from the fridge and place them on the counter in anticipation. Before he had unloaded his hands, the doorbell chimed.

“Party time!” Stu called out to himself, hoping Neil could hear bound up in the basement.

Stu skipped across the hardwood and pulled the door open.

“Wesley and John!” Stu greeted. “If it isn’t the Woodsboro psycho killers.”

Wesley and John both smirked at Stu’s words before moving in the open door.

“Nah, man,” Wesley said, tilting as he spoke. “They were just costumes. We were just paying homage.”

“Whatever it was, it was awesome.”

Stu slapped Wesley on the back and escorted the boys into the kitchen.

“Grab a brew, gentlemen.” Stu gestured to the bottles on the counter. “We’ll toast to school being out!”

The boys each cracked a beer and held them up together.

“To our Woodsboro Rippers!” John toasted.

Stu beamed with pride before taking a swallow. The door chimed again, and more people poured in with additional cars parking behind them. The house enlivened instantly, became smaller in occupancy. Stu would never notice that his parents had not been home in days with so many breathing bodies within his walls.

Stu allowed his classmates and acquaintances to permeate his house, pour and flow through the rooms. He abandoned them to their own devices and posted himself in the kitchen. All parties ultimately centered in the kitchen.

“Who wants to do a beer bong?” Stu called, lifting up the tube and wiggling it over his head.

Wesley stepped up and slapped both hands on his chest.

“Step right up,” Stu encouraged.

Wesley took the receiving end of the tube while Stu lifted the other side high and poured a beer into the funnel. The liquid glugged down the pipe and into Wesley’s anxious throat. As he chugged, Tatum and Sidney paraded into the kitchen, clutching bags of snacks.

“Oh, that’s mature,” Tatum said, catching sight of the boys then dropping the bags on the counter.

“You’re tardy for the party, so we started without you,” Stu answered. Wesley finished the beer, and Stu offered him a high-five. “Oh, my man!”

Stu smiled hard to conceal the grimace. Tatum was late. The house was full. His window alone with her had closed. There would be no last goodbye, no final fuck. The disappointment welled in Stu, surged up from the same place where he resented his parents. Then it passed like a wave, and Stu’s grin was genuine again.

Stu draped an arm over Tatum and Sidney’s shoulders and turned them toward the living room.

“Come on, ladies,” Stu said. “Randy is going to pick out a good scary movie.”

“Really?” Sidney flinched. “Is it really time for a scary movie?”

“Oh, Sid,” Stu said. “It’s always time for a scary movie.”

Stu collapsed to the couch and tugged Tatum along with him, tucking her under his arm. Sidney moved around them and dropped to the next cushion. Randy stood in front of the television, wielding stacks of VHS tapes as usual. He turned to the waiting audience.

“How many Evil Dead?” he asked. “One? Two?” He counted the raised hands. “How many Hellraiser?”

Tatum toyed with a stem in her mouth. Stu leaned in to tug on it with his teeth, letting his fingers lace between hers. He snuggled into her, inhaled her scent.

Hellraiser, right here,” Stu said to Tatum.

Sidney rifled through a stack of tapes. “The Fog, Terror Train, Prom Night. How come Jamie Lee Curtis is in all of these movies?”

“She’s the Scream Queen.” Randy leaned onto Sidney’s armrest, whispering and placing his palms together.

“With a set of lungs like that, she should be. Yeah,” Stu said into Tatum’s hair.

“Tits. See?” Tatum shrugged.

The doorbell chimed again. Stu unearthed himself from beneath Tatum and tumbled over the back of the couch.

“Oh, I’ll get it,” Stu said. “Hey, grab another beer, would ya?”

“What am I?” Tatum asked. “The beer wench?”

Billy walked down the quiet, dark road. He donned the Father Death robe, knife already strapped to his arm, yet he let the mask dangle from his fingertips. It swung as he walked. He strode past Neil Prescott’s car that they had strategically not hidden very well in the trees off the road. Then Stu’s house came into view at the end of the road, lighted and loud.

The final party in a scary movie. A full crop of victims waiting to be culled. And Sidney was there waiting for him.

The anticipation, the excitement practically hummed on his nerves. All of his plans had led to this night. All of the deaths stacked and pointed to her. This was the climax and the crescendo, he had painstakingly architected. He had waited for so long, playing the good and patient boyfriend. Now, he could remove his mask. Now, he could show them all his true self before he executed them. He could end this story properly before going somewhere new to start a new narrative. A new script.

When Billy got to the Macher property, he could hear the voices and music drifting from inside. He noted the Top Story van parked not very secretive away from the drive. Slipping the mask over his face, he moved to the side of the house, avoiding any wayward glances from the party.

If Stu had followed directions, he would find what he wanted in the garage. If Stu had followed these directions, he might follow anything Billy had to say.

Moving through the dark grass, damp blades licked at the trailing ends of the robe. The night and the field extended around him. He thought of Texas Chainsaw Massacre and every other horror movie with teenagers isolated far away from help. He slid along the side of the house like a shadow, easing through the back door.

The party was louder inside. The voices nearly breathed on Billy through his hood. The music pulsed on his skin. There was so much life throbbing inside the walls. Yet it was concentrated in the living room, huddled around scary movies on the television. The world could not turn away from a good scary movie.

With all eyes entranced, Billy moved easily along the periphery of the festivities. He watched Tatum disappear into the garage, leaving the door ajar behind her. He moved to the door, easing it closed behind her and locking it. Then he waited in the shadows of the unlit corner for Tatum to walk back across the garage. Soon enough, the knob wriggled, and she knocked on the door.

“Hey, shitheads!” she called, but no one could hear her but Billy. “Hello?”

Billy waited, his breathing batting back against his cheeks in the mask. No one moved toward him in the house. When he heard the garage door rumble, he twisted the lock and slipped into the garage.

Billy perched on the top step and regarded Tatum. She looked ridiculous in a bright green sweater and flamboyant skirt. She shuffled toward the raising garage door, her arms heaped with beer bottles. Billy reached up and tapped the garage door opener button. The door seized.

Tatum halted and bent to dip under the door. Billy pressed the button again, sending the door descending back toward the ground. Tatum toddled, confused, before whirling around to glare at Billy.

“Is that you, Randy?” she asked, still narrowing her eyes.

Billy shook his head, slow and grave.

Tatum rolled her eyes, dismissive, and approached him. “Cute. What movie is this from? I Spit on Your Garage?” She waved her hand careless as she spoke.

Billy remained immobile and waited for him to reach her.

“Lose the costume. If Sidney sees it, she’ll flip.”

Billy shook his head again. He was done doing what Sidney wanted. He stepped to bar Tatum’s way.

“Oh, you want to play psycho killer?” Tatum asked playfully.

Billy nodded, smirking behind the mask.

“Can I play the helpless victim?”

Yes, you can, he thought. Billy nodded again to feel the motion all the way down his neck, the way he wanted to kill her so bad.

“Okay, let’s see.” Tatum tipped her head. “Oh no, Mr. Ghostface. Don’t kill me! I want to be in the sequel!” Tatum smiled and pushed to move past Billy, but he held firm. “Cut it, Casper. That’s a wrap.”

Billy seized her wrist and stripped her arm from her body. The beers tumbled from her arms and shattered around their feet.

“Randy, what the hell are you doing?” Tatum struggled against him.

Billy displayed his knife in front of her face before lifting her arm and drawing the blade down her skin. Blood dripped immediately from the wound, and Tatum’s eyes grew wide in horror.

“Ah! Stop!” she cried.

There it was. Fear wiped all the disdain and judgment Billy usually saw from Tatum’s face. It transformed her, put her under his control. He felt the wave of relief cascade down his spine as Tatum clutched her arm in disbelief, that gorgeous expression twisting her features. Billy inhaled it for an instant as Tatum tumbled into a chair before dropping down the steps to pursue her.

Tatum shot up from the chair with determination. She rounded in front of the fridge, and Billy lunged after her. The freezer door whipped open to halt his pursuit. His clarity and enjoyment shattered with the impact. A grunt expelled from his lips as he fell onto his back on the concrete.

Tatum sprinted across the garage as he shook the haze from his sight. She found the door locked. Billy wasn’t an idiot. He gathered himself to his feet, her blood still on his knife, when she turned back to him. She dropped to the ground and snatched up surviving beer bottles.

“Fucker!” she yelled at him.

The first beer exploded across Billy’s crotch. Billy staggered at the impact. He could not feel the beer soaking through his robe. The second beer shattered on his face. The blaze of foam temporarily blinded him before it poured down his cheeks. The second head collision called up the haze on the sides of his mind again. He blinked hard and planted his feet to ground himself.

Rage surged up through Billy. This was not how Tatum was supposed to die. Of the many times he had fantasized about killing her, he was never supposed to end up knocked down and soaked with beer. She was as much an inconvenience to kill as she was to deal with in life.

Billy charged at her, ready to embed his knife in any fleshy, bloody part of her. Preferably a part that would shut her up. Tatum’s eyes widened at his approach. At the last second, she collapsed. Billy flew over her, splaying on his back on the steps. The impact of each stair protested on his nerves, louder than the rush of finally getting to kill Tatum.

Tatum scrambled to her feet. Diving across the cement, she scrabbled toward the cat door at the bottom of the garage door. Billy lay across the stairs and stared at her bewildered.

What is she doing? he thought. That bitch is never going to fit through that.

Lost in his perplex, he gradually pulled himself back up as Tatum clawed her way to the tiny door. She managed to wedge an arm, shoulder, and her head through the opening. Her legs kicked wildly in the garage as if she could force herself the rest of the way through. Once he was standing, he looked at the garage door opener and smiled. As he pressed the button, the machine overhead rumbled to life.

Tatum screamed and struggled as the garage door opener roared and shuttered, dragging her up in the air. The tracks trembled as the entire apparatus shook. She kicked and pushed but could not dislodge herself from the small cat door. Billy watched in detached amusement as the door delivered her into the waiting edge of the house, smashing her head until the door could no longer move. The opener sparked and smoked, and the light flickered furious until all fell dark and still.

Tatum hung lifeless.

It was not the kill Billy wanted, but it was the kill he would take. He tilted his head to appreciate the bizarre happenstance. Then he opened the door as Stu had shown him and slipped back into the party.

Continued on… Father Death (15)

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is screamicon.webp

Christina Bergling

https://linktr.ee/chrstnabergling

Like my writing? Check out my books!

  • Followers – You never know who is on the other side of the screen. Followers is a mystery and thriller that blends women’s fiction with horror.
  • The Rest Will Come – Online dating would drive anyone to murder, especially Emma.
  • Savages – Two survivors search the ruins for the last strain of humanity. Until the discovery of a baby changes everything.
  • The Waning – Locked in a cage, Beatrix must survive to escape or be broken completely.
  • Screechers – Mutant monsters and humans collide in the apocalyptic fallout of a burned world. Co-authored with Kevin J. Kennedy.
  • Horror Anthologies