Archive for November, 2022

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