Archive for September, 2022

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)

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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 (12)

8

Billy rolled over in his bed reluctant the next morning. The phone records had come in late, or early, depending on how you looked at it. The holding cell, though thankfully vacant, had been unforgiving. The meager bunk he had lounged on for hours left his body stiff. The night he had spent fantasizing about what he wanted to do to Sidney, her face morphing and shifting between hers and her mother’s, had not amounted to rest. Sleep beckoned him from the pillow, but he was already late.

In the hallway at Woodsboro High School, Stu lurked along the lockers, watching the steady stream of students meander through the doors. The chatter was the same, perhaps even amplified after another day of mayhem. Sidney’s name was in people’s mouths again, and her story always got them excited.

He caught sight of Tatum in her silver jersey and tight red pants, her bare stomach flirting from below the hem of her shirt. She had her hair braided down into pigtails and teased a big red sucker through her lips. Sidney walked beside her, but Stu did not even register her. He suddenly missed Tatum and the simple nights they spent fooling around watching horror movies. He stared at her, musing on how he wanted just a couple more nights with her before the rest of this all happened.

“Morning, ladies,” Stu greeted. “Sid, you doing all right?” In his head, Stu heard the mutated voice from the voice changer, and he nearly laughed.

“Hi, Stu,” Sidney replied. “Yeah, I’m all right.” She clung to the strap of her backpack and looked down as she tightened her brown jacket around herself.

“Morning, babe.” Tatum pressed her palm to Stu’s stomach and leaned in to kiss him.

Her proximity and her mouth hazed his mind for a moment. He let one hand wander around her exposed stomach, concentrating on the warmth of her skin. How long had it been since he fucked her? Would he have time to do it one more time? He doubted Billy’s plan was making allowances for that. Stu kissed her back and took her hand as he followed the girls to their lockers.

As Tatum opened her locker and shuffled her books, Stu leaned against the next one. He had no need for books. Classes today were pointless. He tried to memorize her face while he had the chance.

“This is a mistake,” Sidney said from her locker. “I shouldn’t be here.”

She never stops whining, Stu thought.

“I want you to meet me here right after class. Okay, Sid?” Tatum commanded.

“All right.” Sidney’s voice was low and quiet as she clicked her lock closed. She turned to face the couple. “Hey, I haven’t seen Billy around. Is he really pissed?”

“Oh, you mean after you branded him the Candyman?” Stu pulled a mirror from Tatum’s locker and looked himself over, nearly tempted to invoke the Candyman, then replaced it. “No, his heart is broken.”

Tatum jabbed Stu in the chest. “Stu,” she scolded.

Screeching and howling came from down the hall. The entire mass of students turned toward the sound. A figure in a Father Death costume parted the crowd, weaving from side to side and wildly flailing his arms. The shredded fabric of the costume wavered with each jerking motion. As the figure ran past the group, his movement sent a breeze over them.

Stu could not contain his delight. They were imitating Billy and him. They were dressing up like them. This was one step away from copycats. He coiled and bounced around his joy as the smile unfurled on his face.

“Why are they doing this?” Sidney asked.

Buzzkill. “Are you kidding?” Stu asked. “It’s like Christmas.”

Tatum whirled around to Stu. A frown contorted her pretty face.

“Stupidity leak!” she scolded.

She lifted her sucker and smacked him in the forehead with it, leaving sticky imprints on his face. Stu flinched back away from her, pulling his arms over his chest.

“Take it easy,” he said.

Sidney spun on her heel, pressing her palm to her mouth as she ran down the hall. Tatum called after her, and Stu rolled his eyes hard while she looked away.

Billy dragged himself up the stairs. In her blind flight, Sidney collided with him at the top. Billy released an exclamation of pain as the impact reminded him of his stiff and sore muscles. Then he reached out to cradle and corral Sidney in front of him.

“Jesus! Shit!” Sidney sputtered.

“It’s just me,” Billy said, holding her loosely.

Sidney planted her fist into his chest and pushed him away. Rejection again. Billy felt heat at the spot of her touch and the anger that blossomed from it. Sidney rubbed a nervous hand over her face.

“Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa.” Billy pointed at her. He wanted to point harder. He wanted to stab through her. “You still think it’s me, don’t you?”

“No. No, I don’t. It’s just that someone was there.” Sidney stared straight into Billy’s eyes. He could see the red rims of her puffy lids. So many tears. “Someone was trying to kill me.”

“I know. The police said I must have scared him away. It wasn’t me, Sid.”

“I know. He called me again last night at Tatum’s house.”

Just like I told him to. Good job, Stu. “See,” Billy said quickly, his words stepping on hers. “It couldn’t be me. I was in jail, remember?”

Billy lifted his fingers to Sidney, exposing the fingerprinting residue staining the digits black. Then he dropped his hand to the railing, defeated. Sidney took a step forward, gripping beside him.

“I’m so sorry. Please understand,” she said.

“Understand what?” Billy took a step forward into his anger. “That I have a girlfriend who would rather accuse me of being a psychopathic killer than touch me.”

Sidney’s eyebrows bounced at his words. “You know that’s not true.”

“Then what is it?”

Sidney’s features faltered harder as she struggled through her words. “What is it? Billy, I was attacked and nearly filleted last night.”

Let it go. You’re losing her, Billy thought, but he could not still his tongue. The words kept flowing unmitigated.

“I mean between us. You haven’t been the same since….” Billy paused. “Since your mother died.”

“Is your brain leaking? My mom was killed! I can’t believe you are bringing this up.” Sidney writhed in her outrage. Her tear-stained eyes narrowed into anger.

“It’s been a year.”

“Tomorrow. One year tomorrow.”

“I think it’s time you got over that. When my mom left my dad, I accepted it. That’s how it is. She’s not coming back.” He was not supposed to say what he thought. He was supposed to say his lines. These were not his lines.

“Your parents split up. This is not the same thing. Your mom left town. She’s not lying in a coffin somewhere.” Sidney’s face and body hardened.

You lost her. “Okay, okay, okay,” Billy backpedaled. “It’s a bad analogy. It’s just that I want my girlfriend back.”

Sidney gave him a dumbfounded look before she stepped past him.

“Sid,” Billy said.

Sidney turned. “I’m sorry if my traumatized life is an inconvenience to you and your perfect existence.”

The tears returned to Sidney’s eyes. She whirled around to keep them from Billy and ran awkward down the hall.

“What? What? Nobody said that. Sid!” Billy called after her. He had let too much of himself out, said too much of the truth. He dropped his head back in frustration. “Stupid!” he said to himself.

Billy turned to the empty hall where Sidney had fled. The spot on his chest where she had pushed him burned again, stirring the rage in his chest.

Fucking bitch, he thought. His mind shifted from his misstep, from all the words that had poured out of his mouth to Sidney. He saw her back as she ran away from him. Again. He felt her pushing him away from her. Again. He concentrated down on that hot rejection as he hurried to his locker.

He grasped the fabric bundle and unfurled the robe. His prankster classmates had already set the stage. He cast his eyes in each direction. Finding no witnesses, he pulled the robe on and seated the mask on his face. Then he hurried down the hall, tracing Sidney’s steps.

He was sure she had fled into the bathroom. He pressed against the wall outside the door. Just a Father Death copycat waiting to pull a prank. The hall was vacant, yet he aimed to look casual anyway, like any high school jackass. As he stretched a gloved hand toward the entrance, a blonde cheerleader and girl with a black bob haircut and clinging purple top burst from the door. Billy shrank back as they passed. They giggled and smacked their glossed lips, sauntering down the hall. Before the door could close again, Billy darted through it and slipped into the first stall.

He could hear Sidney, feel Sidney in there. Her choked breathing was barely audible when the stall door creaked, and her footsteps moved across the tile. Billy drew up his legs to balance on the toilet.

“Pathetic,” Sidney’s voice echoed soft in the bathroom.

“Sidney,” Billy whispered into the plastic mask.

“Is someone there?” Her voice shook, and Billy smiled under the mask.

“Sidney,” Billy whispered again, louder, longer.

Billy’s skin tingled against the costume. Sidney’s anxiety washed over him in waves through the door. She shuffled around the bathroom, chasing the sound. He heard her palms slap the tiles as she looked under the stall. Billy waited a breath then lowered each boot, slow and deliberate, and settled the costume over his legs.

Sidney’s breathing filled the room, eliciting Billy’s excitement. He ripped the door open with a grunt and exposed himself to Sidney. There was her face of fear, Maureen’s face of horror. It was the look he wanted to see every time she said no to him. He lunged toward her, arms extended to envelope her. Sidney threw herself to the floor, sliding along the floor and colliding loudly with the metal trash can. She scrabbled up from the ground and regarded him with the same fear as she fled the bathroom.

As the door drifted closed behind Sidney, Billy gathered himself to his feet, dusting off the costume as he stood. He pressed his hands into his knees as he laughed. The sound bounced back into his face from against the inside of the plastic mask.

Sidney was back where he wanted her.

Stu draped himself over his desk, long limbs hanging over like a spider. He twitched with nervous energy. It felt stupid to sit in a classroom and pretend to be a student. He wondered where Billy was. Probably chasing after Sidney, worrying after Sidney, trying to get Sidney to put out.

Fucking Sidney.

He wanted to scratch the words into his desk with his pencil. It threatened in his flexed fingertips. But that would leave a trace, and Billy was so meticulous about not leaving the wrong traces. He was going to show Billy he could do things exactly as he wanted. Better than he wanted. Then he and Billy could leave this shit town and cause problems somewhere bigger and better. It would be just them, together.

The speaker mounted to the classroom wall crackled, sending unexpected static through the room. Then Principal Himbry’s voiced poured out. The anxious edge on his words captured the attention of the class.

“I need your attention now, kids. Due to the recent events that have just occurred, effective immediately, classes will be suspended until further notice. The Woodsboro Police Department has issued a city-wide curfew beginning at 9:00 tonight.”

A laughing cheer spilled from Stu’s lips and was swallowed by the celebratory whoops coming from his classmates. A few dutiful students hung their heads in worry and whispered nervous words to each other. However, the majority pumped liberated fists into the air before hurrying into the hallway. More chattering words rose in the contained space.

Murder. Killer. Death. The words bounced against the lockers and sang sweetly into Stu’s ears. He absorbed the chorus with a blissful smile plastered on his face as he sauntered from the building. He did not bother going to his locker. What did he need? Classes and books did not matter for what he and Billy were doing.

Once he breathed free, outside air, Stu crouched down in the flower bed and plucked a few trembling buds. When he looked up, Tatum’s bright red pants marched by him on the sidewalk. He marveled at the way the fabric gripped her ass.

Surely, there is time for one more time with her, he said to himself. He knew Billy’s plan included cutting indiscriminately, but he at least wanted to say goodbye properly.

“You’re not going to pee anymore alone. If you pee, I pee. Is that clear?” Stu heard Tatum say as they passed him.

Fucking Sidney, the thought repeated. Whining again. Always about her. Yet Stu knew it was about her.

Stu vaulted over the petals and around the girls, extending the flowers in offering. “Kizzo, Kaskizoo is out. Darling, I don’t know what you did, Sidney, but on behalf of the entire student body, we all say, ‘thank you!’” Stu walked backward, extending his arms to his peers and shouting on their behalf.

“Drop it, Stu!” Tatum reached over and tugged a warning on the back of Stu’s shirt.

Swooping down, he scooped Tatum up on his shoulder. “No, I say, impromptu party tonight at my house to celebrate this siesta. What do you say?” He concentrated on the feeling of Tatum’s body against his, memorizing it.

“Are you serious?” Sidney said over her shoulder.

“Parents are out of town.” Stu lowered Tatum to her feet. “If this little vixen doesn’t invite the entire world, we’ll be fine. Intimate gathering, intimate friends.”

“What do you say, Sid? I mean, pathos could have its perks.” Tatum skipped up and took Stu’s hand.

Stu spun Tatum around into his arms and walked her in a backward dip, exposing more of her belly. He concentrated past the peek of her flesh. “Totally protected. Yo, I am so buff. I’ve got you covered, girl.” He replaced Tatum on her feet again.

“Come on, Sid. For me? It will be fun.” Tatum pleaded.

Sidney turned to face them. “Okay, whatever.”

“Yeah? Nice!” Stu took a playful bit of Tatum’s neck. “Cool, you guys bring food, all right?” Stu pumped his arms in celebration then hurried back toward the school to find Billy.

Billy heard Principal Himbry’s announcement from the girls’ bathroom where he had chased Sidney. He loitered there, listening to the students celebrate and gossip as they drained from the school. He kept his Father Death skin on, just another insensitive teenage copycat, and regarded himself in the mirror. He tipped his head from one side to the other slowly, like Michael Myers, noting how truly creepy it was for a masked face to adopt that quizzical body language. He yanked the knife from his forearms sheath and held it high above his head, like Leatherface with a grumbling chainsaw.

This killer could work. This killer could be iconic.

When the school around him had fallen silent, Billy slipped the knife back into its holster and pressed the bathroom door open. The hall was vacant. Abandoned papers littered the floor as evidence of the hasty and morbidly gleeful evacuation. As Billy moved, no other sound registered beside his own breathing bouncing against the mask. He peered in each open classroom but only found desks abandoned as if the students had evaporated.

Billy approached the main office cautiously yet still no one. Crossing one leg over the other, he slunk near the wall, yet even the staff had capitalized on the excuse to flee the building and barricade themselves in their homes.

I did this. I did all of this. They are scared of ME, and they don’t even know it. Billy felt a surge of adrenaline at the thought.

Principal Himbry’s door was sealed tight, yet when Billy leaned his ear close to the glass, he could still hear the man shuffling around within. Billy grinned at the fact that he had not missed him.

How are you and your father, Billy, since Debbie left? He heard Principal Himbry’s question echo in his mind again. Debbie. Debbie. DEBBIE. Why would he be asking after his mother after this long? He surely didn’t care about Billy. Why would he be using her first name? Any answer just brewed fire in Billy so hot that his palm sweated around the knife in his gloved hand.

Billy knocked hard on the door then leaped across the hallway into another room. He cowered low and silent below the window of the door, stifling his breathing.

“Yes? Hello?” He heard Principal Himbry call from the other side.

Billy remained frozen, waiting and replaying Principal Himbry saying his mother’s name in his mind. His pulse slammed into clarity as he sat immobile. He listened for Principal Himbry to close his door. Billy opened his own door and slipped across the hallway, rapping on Principal Himbry’s door then diving back to hide.

Principal Himbry answered faster this time. His irritated breathing filled the hallway as his steps began to move. Billy listened for them to tap into the main office. Then he opened his door a sliver. He watched Principal Himbry’s back navigate through the desks. Billy lunged across the hall and into the Principal’s office, tucking himself behind the open door. Once concealed, he concentrated on taming his breathing and waiting for his prey to return.

Principal Himbry lingered in the room when he returned, not convinced he was alone. He eyed the closet skeptically before pouncing on it and stripping the clothes aside. Billy resisted the chuckle as Principal Himbry found nothing. Billy forced himself to wait. He wanted Principal Himbry to feel safe and reassured so that the scare he produced was fully realized.

Principal Himbry strode across his office for a final peek down the hallway. When he moved to close the office door, he exposed Billy. Billy unfolded his arms above his head with the tendrils of the costume waving and advanced on Principal Himbry. Principal Himbry finally turned and displayed the terror Billy had been waiting for. Principal Himbry’s face stretched and contorted in shock and fear.

Billy smiled delirious against the plastic as he shoved the knife into Principal Himbry’s stomach. Principal Himbry grunted and wilted over into Billy. Billy steadied him with a hand on his shoulder so he could extract the knife and stab into him over and over until his arm burned from the exertion and the heat in his chest had migrated to his forehead. When Principal Himbry’s face when slack and Billy could see his own ghostly mask in the reflection of his eyes, he stepped back and regarded his work.

“Whoa, man,” Stu said from behind Billy. “What’d he do to piss you off?”

Billy whirled around and peeled the mask off his face, leaving it resting on his head like a hat.

“Nothing.” Billy shrugged. “He’s a good victim. He’ll grab people’s attention.”

“No objections here.” Stu lifted his hands. “Guy was a prick.”

“I’m thinking we should hang him on the football field. Gut him like we did Casey. Bet it will draw a crowd.”

Stu turned a grimace into a thoughtful face. “How do you want to do that? People are still hanging around out there. Getting high on the field and whatever.”

“I’ll handle that later when everyone is at your party. Just help me get him closer now. We’ll bag him up and put him in that equipment shed for now.”

Stu shrugged, nodded. “Then what do you want to do? Party isn’t for a while.”

“Fuck with people.”

Stu’s face lit up, a devious smile slithering across his thin lips. “How?”

“Walk around town like copycats a little. I want you to go make sure Randy comes to your party. I want a piece of that little fucker tonight.”

Billy felt the power radiating off him as he walked through the trees behind the mask. Hearing his own breaths measured his steps and grounded him in his flesh. Anonymity shrouded him, and he wore the face that he had made everyone fear, the face that was closing the entire city tonight. He breathed in the smell of the cheap plastic pressed against his nose and associated it with the thrill throbbing down his nerves, the anticipation crackling on his brain. It was all going so well. Even the unexpected arrest had twisted to work out in his favor. The actors were playing their parts, and he could feel the final scenes culminating in his brain. He just needed to get his leading lady to take proper direction.

Weaving through the neighborhood, he felt the warmth of the sun bite at him in patches between the shadows. He walked between the houses like Michael Myers would do on Halloween night, peeking out near the streets enough to be glimpsed. He fought the urge to stand menacing beside a large shrub. Instead, he continued toward his target.

He saw Sidney and Tatum perched on Tatum’s front porch. Music pumped from speakers Tatum had set on her roof. He could not hear what the girls were saying, but he did not care. Tatum, no doubt, was probably saying something that would cause him problems later, but she would not be an impediment for much longer.

Billy glanced at them, almost wishing they would see him, then moved through the nearby trees and continued his parade before looping back to his car. Dumping the costume into his trunk, he dropped in the driver’s seat and navigated toward the video store.

The video store was packed with bodies. People hovered in the aisles, evaluating titles or chatting about the murders or the curfew. The energy in the building was electric. It brought the hair on Billy’s arm to stand on end when he walked through the door. When eyes turned to him, he knew what they were thinking, and he could not resist the smirk.

Billy met all their gazes and meandered into the horror section. The familiar movie covers and faces enveloped him. Every story he had dove into after his mother left, every film he had watched on repeat when his father passed out, every killer who was an inspiration. He felt at home and understood and relaxed into his skin. He snatched a hanging bag of popcorn and tore it open.

“Aren’t you Billy Loomis?” A girl with streaming blonde ringlets asked, toying with her backpack straps.

“Yeah.” Billy turned and smiled at her and the friend lingering beside her.

“I think you’re in my gym class.”

“Oh yeah?” Billy grinned a little wider, noticing how attractive she was and how her eyes looked welcoming instead of cold. Hungry even.

“Yeah. So, uh, what movie are you looking for?”

Billy looked around at the horror section. “You like scary movies?”

The front door chimed as Stu entered the store. He glimpsed Billy loitering in their section with two cute girls. A purr of jealousy rolled through him, but he swallowed it down and scanned the rows for Randy. Randy mounted a rolling cart and skittered across the floor, nearly colliding with a patron. Scoffing at the sight, Stu moved up behind him.

Randy parked the cart sloppy across the aisle and gathered a stack of VHS tapes in his hands. Stu crept up behind him and reached his long arm around, launching the tapes from Randy’s grasp. They arched into the air before cascading to the floor.

“Ooooh!” Stu called to garner more attention. He stuck his tongue out and laughed as he swung around the video shelf opposite Randy.

“Dork,” Randy replied, narrowing his eyes.

“Jesus, this place is packed tonight.” Stu cast his eyes around the crowd before settling into a lean atop the shelf, propping his head on his hand.

“We had a run in the mass murder section.” Randy picked up more tapes and shelved them between him and Stu.

“You coming to my fiesta?” Stu traced Randy as he worked down the shelf.

“Yeah, I’m off early cause curfew, you know.”

A blonde in a light blue shirt approached Randy, hands hooked in her backpack straps.

“What’s that werewolf movie with E.T.’s mom in it?” she asked.

“The Howling,” Randy answered easily. “Horror, straight ahead.” He gestured to the section with his chin.

“Thanks.” The girl whirled around to move toward Billy in the horror section.

Randy caught sight of Billy and grimaced. “Now, that’s in bad taste.”

“What?” Stu asked, glancing confused across the room.

“If you were the only suspect in a senseless bloodbath, would you be standing in the horror section?”

Randy and Stu both looked at Billy as he offered his popcorn to the two girls, appearing relaxed and cavalier.

Hiding in plain sight, Stu thought. “What?” Stu repeated. “It was just a misunderstanding. He didn’t do anything.”

“You’re such a little lap dog. He’s got killer printed all over his forehead.”

“OK, really,” Stu mocked. “How come the cops let him go, smart guy?” Because the cops are morons.

“Cause they obviously they don’t watch enough horror movies. This is standard horror movie stuff. Prom Night revisited.”

“Yeah?” Stu lounged long on the top of the shelf. “Why would he want to kill his own girlfriend?”

“There’s always some stupid bullshit reason to kill your girlfriend.”

You are not wrong there. I can think of a thousand reasons to kill Sidney. Stu lifted his eyebrows in curiosity.

“That’s the beauty of it all, simplicity. Besides, if it gets too complicated, you lose your target audience.”

“Well, what’s his reason?”

“Maybe Sidney wouldn’t have sex with him.”

Bingo! “What? Is she saving herself for you?” Stu laughed and shuffled.

Randy’s eyes filled with a quiet desperation. “Maybe. Now that Billy tried to mutilate her, do you think Sid would go out with me?”

Stu squawked in laughter. He extended his tongue then covered his mouth, pointing. Then he dropped his cartoonish display for a deadpan expression. “No, I don’t. At all. No.” Stu leaned forward and widened his eyes. “You know who I think it is? I think it’s her father. Why can’t they find her pops, man?” Aside from the fact that he’s in my basement.

“Because he’s probably dead! His body will come popping up in the last reel or something. Eyes gouged out, fingers cut off, teeth knocked out!” Randy’s voice escalated, and patrons turned their eyes to them. “The police are always off track with this shit!”

“Man!” Stu flinched at Randy’s volume and attempted to hush him.

“If they watched Prom Night, they’d save time,” Randy continued, waving the tapes still clutched in his hands. “There’s a formula to it. A very simple formula! Everybody’s a suspect!”

Randy’s voice filled the store. The room froze and turned to him. Stu gestured smoking a joint to the gawkers and waved them off.

“I’m telling you,” Randy said, “the dad’s a red herring. It’s Billy.”

Randy turned away from Stu with a handful of tapes. He whirled around directly into Billy. Greeting him like a wall, Billy seized the front of his shirt. Randy stopped breathing. His eyes went wide. Billy saw the blend of surprise and fear on his face and let the smirk playing on his lips. He figured it only made him more intimidating.

“How do we know you’re not the killer, huh? Huh?” Billy asked.

Stu clamped down on Randy’s shoulders, sandwiching him between them.

“Hi Billy,” Randy choked, still in Billy’s grip, abandoning the tapes in his hands to a pile at his feet.

“Maybe your movie freaked mind lost its reality button. Ever think of that?” Billy snapped.

“You’re absolutely right,” Randy said. “I’m first to admit it. If this was a scary movie, I would be the chief suspect.”

“That’s right,” Billy said.

“What would be your motive?” Stu leaned into Randy’s neck and toyed with his earlobe with his fingertip.

Randy turned back to Stu and shrugged Billy and Stu off, straightening his shirt. “It’s the Millennium. Motives are incidental.”

A wicked smile fractured Billy’s cheeks. “Millennium,” he laughed. “I like that. That’s good. Millennium.” He pinched Randy’s nose to jostle his face. “Good kid.” Patting Randy’s cheek, he released his smile and turned on his heel to exit the store.

Millennium,” Stu mused from behind Randy. “Good word, my man.”

Randy leaned back into Stu and pointed after Billy. “You’re telling me that’s not a killer?”

Stu shrugged and danced away from Randy. “Come on, man. You know Billy has always been intense. Doesn’t mean he’s a killer.”

“Whatever you say.” Randy stooped to pick up the fallen tapes.

“I gotta run pick up some things for tonight. See you at the party?” Stu pointed both fingers at Randy.

“Yeah, yeah.” Randy nodded and turned back to the shelves.

Stu checked off another task in his mind and exited the store to find his Father Death costume.

Two Father Deaths converged on Billy’s car, parked on a side street. They stalked to the trunk before shedding their shrouds and masks to reveal Billy and Stu. The two quickly coiled the fabric into the car and shut the lid, smirking and shuffling to either side of the vehicle.

“Did anyone see you?” Billy asked, tipping his chin at Stu over the roof of the car.

“Oh yeah,” Stu laughed. “You should have seen the look the store clerk gave me.”

“You went into the store?” Billy slipped into the driver’s seat.

“Yeah, saw Sid and Tatum there grabbing snacks for tonight.”

Billy’s eyes grew dark. “Good. So, they’ll be there tonight.”

Stu looked down at his lap, weaving his fingers together. “Tatum is pretty adamant that you not be there.”

“Yeah, I know,” Billy growled. “I’ll show that bitch what I think later.”

Stu pursed his lips and looked down at his woven fingers. It felt like Tatum’s time was slipping through his hands too quickly. He would not deny Billy his plan. He just wanted one more time with her, one proper goodbye. Perhaps if she showed up early enough, he could sneak her upstairs before things really got started.

Billy started the car and eased away from the curb. He leaned into the window as he drove, stroking his chin with one hand. His mind wandered over all the plans to unfold tonight.

“What are you going to do during the party?” Stu asked.

“Take care of Himbry. Get ready.”

Stu shifted in his seat, continued to wring his hands, and looked from the windshield to his side window.

“You nervous, man?” Billy squinted over at Stu.

Stu shook his head quick. “Nah, excited.” He tipped his head. “Well, maybe a little.”

“For what?” Judgment pinched Billy’s face.

“Just that last part.”

“Being left for dead.” Billy raised an eyebrow as he watched the road.

“Yeah, the stabbing and bleeding part.”

Billy rolled his eyes. “It will be fine. It has to be convincing.”

“I know. I know.”

“You won’t even feel it. Our adrenaline will be pumping so hard. We’ll be riding that high.”

Stu nodded but kept his hands clasped together. His eyes continued to wander back and forth between the windows as his foot tapped on the floorboards. Billy registered the nervous energy rolling off Stu and leaned farther into the window and his musings on the night to come.

The car rumbled to a stop on Stu’s gravel driveway, the massive Macher house perched before the expanse of rolling hills. The sun flirted with the horizon, casting vivid orange rays through those hills. Billy could feel the night swelling around them and his anticipation with it.

Stu opened his door and eased a leg out. “All right, man. I’ll see you when it all goes down.”

A genuine smile hinted on Billy’s lips, and Stu relished its appearance. He mirrored the grin immediately and kept it on his cheeks even as he opened the front door of his empty house. For a suspended second, he could pretend Neil Prescott was not in his basement, requiring food, water, and bucket emptying. He could tell himself he would say goodbye to Tatum right before they sliced their way through Woodsboro and left it blood-soaked behind them. He could glimpse the future, the sequel, that Billy promised him on the other side of a few stab wounds.

Riding that wave of possibility, Stu whistled as he fetched a bottle of water and a sleeve of crackers from the kitchen. He danced around the island then paraded down the hall and into the basement. The smell struck him first and knocked him out of his prance. He pressed the back of his hand to his mouth to temper his gag.

“Whoa, Neil, it is rank down here,” Stu called, dropping onto the concrete floor.

Neil answered with the dragging and yanking of a chain. Stu heard it pull taut against the pipe to which he had secured it.

Skirting the bucket, he moved toward Neil. “Now, be cooperative this time, man. I know you’re thirsty and hungry. And I doubt you want to get hit with the pipe again.”

Neil’s narrow eyes appeared from the shadows, rage flickering behind wounded control. He shuffled toward Stu and sat awkward on the edge of the rumpled couch.

“There you go, buddy.” Stu nodded in approval. “See, it can be much easier like this.”

Stu tore the plastic open on the crackers and cracked the seal on the bottle of water, passing each over to Neil. Neil reached out as for as his restrained wrists would let him. He stared into Stu the entire time, yet Stu met his eyes unaffected, barely even blinking.

“Well, Neil, buddy boy.” Stu slapped his knees. “Time to get ready. The big show is tonight. You won’t want to miss this.”

Neil’s eyes went wide, and he stopped chewing the cracker smashed in his mouth. Crumbs clung to his lips.

“You’ll even get to see your precious baby girl,” Stu said as he reluctantly grabbed the handle of the bucket and made for the stairs.

“Sidney?” Neil asked.

Stu offered Neil a maniacal smirk and moved up the stairs without a response.

“What are you going to do to my daughter?” Neil shouted. “Sidney! Sidney!”

Stu closed the door over Neil’s yells. “Going to have to gag that prick before the party,” he muttered to himself.

Continued on… Father Death (14)

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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