Posts Tagged ‘writing’

Previously on… Father Death (16)

12

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Be careful!” Gale called in the distance.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Dewey?” Sidney’s voice was closer.

“Sidney?” he replied.

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

“Dewey.” Her voice wilted.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Stop right there,” Sidney said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

“No, I didn’t. You lied.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Christina Bergling

https://linktr.ee/chrstnabergling

Like my writing? Check out my books!

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

Previously on… Father Death (15)

11

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Everything back in place as if they had never fucked.

“You okay?” Billy asked.

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

“What?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Sidney?” Billy played the oblivious boyfriend.

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

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

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

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

“No!” Sidney cried. “Shit!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sidney wasn’t supposed to die yet anyway.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Behind you, kid,” the cameraman said.

“Randy!” Sidney yelled. “Behind you.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Continued on… Father Death (17)

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

Christina Bergling

https://linktr.ee/chrstnabergling

Like my writing? Check out my books!

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

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

Broken Glass Photography

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

Broken Glass Photography

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

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

And it has definitely moved me up the agenda:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Christina Bergling

https://linktr.ee/chrstnabergling

Like my writing? Check out my books!

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

Previously on… Father Death (14)

10

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

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

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

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

“Billy, hey,” Sidney smiled.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Oh really, Alicia? As if.”

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

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

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

He vaulted over the couch and rejoined the party.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“This is life. This isn’t a movie.”

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

He knew which genre he was picking for her.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“You are so amazing,” Billy said.

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

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

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

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

“Are you ready?” he asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Continued on… Father Death (16)

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

Christina Bergling

https://linktr.ee/chrstnabergling

Like my writing? Check out my books!

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

Previously on… Father Death (13)

9

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Fuck,” Billy hissed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stu skipped across the hardwood and pulled the door open.

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

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

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

“Whatever it was, it was awesome.”

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

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

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

“To our Woodsboro Rippers!” John toasted.

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

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

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

Wesley stepped up and slapped both hands on his chest.

“Step right up,” Stu encouraged.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hellraiser, right here,” Stu said to Tatum.

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

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

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

“Tits. See?” Tatum shrugged.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Billy shook his head, slow and grave.

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

Billy remained immobile and waited for him to reach her.

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

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

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

Billy nodded, smirking behind the mask.

“Can I play the helpless victim?”

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

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

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

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

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

“Ah! Stop!” she cried.

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

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

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

“Fucker!” she yelled at him.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tatum hung lifeless.

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

Continued on… Father Death (15)

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

Christina Bergling

https://linktr.ee/chrstnabergling

Like my writing? Check out my books!

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

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

Previously on… Father Death (11)

7

Stu parked Billy’s car at his house and replaced the keys in the visor. Like it had been there all night. Like he had walked over to Sidney’s. Or been dropped off. Whatever didn’t lead to forensics combing through his car. He packed anything incriminating into the dark duffle they had taken to Casey’s and slung it over his shoulder. Then he started the long walk home.

He needed to get home to feed someone.

In the back of the police car, Billy leaned his head against the window to cool his thoughts. The night had not gone as planned. He was supposed to play savior, not end up a suspect. But this was fine. He had prepared for this. He could use this later. When they inevitably decided that it was not him tonight, no one would suspect him later. His suspicion would become his own alibi. And Sidney’s guilt would be her undoing.

It’s fine, he told himself. It will be better this way. A perfect twist for a movie.

The thought soothed him. Yet he held himself rigid. He did not want to look too relaxed, like the guilty suspect who fell asleep in an interrogation room. He applied a layer of defeat and dejection. He furrowed his brow and flexed his features with worry.

With betrayal. Betrayal slipped on like an old glove.

The reporters had already descended by the time they pulled up to the small police station. The vultures circled to catch a glimpse of their media darling, their favorite victim: Sidney Prescott. The officers yanked Billy from the backseat and hustled him through the doors to avoid the cameras and microphones.

“No comment! No comment!” Dewey shouted over his shoulder.

“Just put him in my office,” Sheriff Burke barked. “His father is on the way down.”

Dewey snagged Billy’s elbow and dragged him past the open room of desks. He opened Sheriff Burke’s door and guided Billy through it. Once inside, he spun Billy by the wrists and unlocked his handcuffs. The metal clinked obnoxious as it released him. Billy brought his wrists in front of his body and massaged their freedom. Dewey gestured to a chair, and Billy lowered into it as Sheriff Burke planted himself behind his desk.

Through the large windows and open blinds, Billy could watch Dewey hustle back across the room to retrieve Sidney. He wrapped his coat around her shoulders and pressed his hands into her arms as he guided her to his desk. Billy’s nerves prickled at the sight, his blood pumping hotter in his veins. Sidney’s face was blotchy and red from crying, and she stared out blank in front of her, a distant look Billy was very familiar with from after her mother died.

Hank Loomis stormed into the station and stomped to Sheriff Burke’s office. He pounded a straight line, did not seem to falter, and sported a clear complexion. Perhaps he had not found the bottle yet tonight. Billy let out a tiny breath in relief.

“Sheriff, what’s this about?” Hank shouted, not even looking to Billy.

“Hank, calm down.” Sheriff Burke raised his hands.

“I’m not going to calm down until you tell me why you have my son in custody,” Hank yelled again, almost like he cared.

“Hank, sit down,” Sheriff Burke instructed.

Hank sighed hard and dropped into the chair beside Billy, finally granting him his eyes. Billy met his gaze briefly before turning his sight back to Sidney. Sheriff Burke stood and walked behind them to close his door.

“Sidney was attacked tonight, and Billy was at the scene. We need to ask him some questions, and you needed to be present for that,” Sheriff Burke said.

“Fine, ask away,” Hank said.

Sheriff Burke released the door and strode back across his office, thumbs hooked in his utility belt.

“Let me ask you this, what are you doing with a cellular phone, son?” he started.

Billy traced Sheriff Burke as he walked, propping stiff on his elbows against the chair. “Everybody’s got one, Sheriff. I didn’t make those phone calls. I swear.”

“Why don’t you check the phone bill, for Christ’s Sake? Call Vital Phone Comp. They’ve got a record of every number dialed.” Hank jabbed his hand at Sheriff Burke.

Sheriff Burke lowered to perch on the edge of his desk. “Thanks, Hank. We’re on top of it.” He turned to Billy. “What were you doing over Sidney’s house tonight?”

Billy leaned forward and planted his elbows on his knees. “Well, I wanted to see her. That’s all.”

“And yesterday? She said you climbed through her window last night too?”

“You went out last night?” Hank pivoted to Billy.

You would have noticed if you ever sobered up. Billy offered an uncomfortable smile. “I was watching TV. I got bored. I decided to go for a ride.”

“Did you happen to ride by Casey Becker’s house too?”

“No. No, I didn’t. Sheriff, I didn’t kill anybody.”

Billy wanted to smile. He wanted to peel back his sheepish little mask and show them his real face, what he was really capable of. Instead, he dropped his tone and his cheeks, adopted the severity they were expecting.

Sheriff Burke and Hank exchanged a look, and Billy cast his eyes to the floor. The grin was nearly impossible to contain. He flexed his jaw, hoping it would appear as nerves.

“We’re going to have to hold you, son, until we get those phone records,” Sheriff Burke said.

“That’s crazy. You know that?”

Billy gripped the back of the chair and turned back to find Sidney’s eyes staring at him. Her eyes were cold, drained of the warmth he usually found there. She may not have fucked him, but she had always regarded him with affection. Now, it was a sharply edged void. If his chest did not burn in rage, it might have hurt.

“This is ludicrous, Sheriff,” Hank exclaimed. “What happens now?”

“We’ll print and book him, put him in a holding cell while we wait for the records. You are welcome to wait at the station until we hear back.” Sheriff Burke waved through the window, gesturing for officers to come escort Billy.

Billy rose from the chair, sheepish and defensive. “Book me? Holding cell? I didn’t do anything!”

The officers moved past Hank and gathered Billy by the arms again. His skin throbbed tender from all their repeated violent gripping and tugging. They yanked him past his dad and out of the Sheriff’s office.

Billy pulled back toward his dad. “Tell them. Come on, Dad. Tell them.”

“He’s waiting for the lawyer, Billy,” the officer said in his face.

Billy wrenched toward Sidney, still seated at Dewey’s desk. Now, she would not look at him.

“Sidney,” he called. “Sidney, come on. You know me. Sidney, look at me. Come on!”

He begged as they dragged him across the room, shoving past Tatum, and through the door, his father trailing behind him. He could feel Sidney was crying. That reaction spurned him on, made him feel like he mattered again. It was more than the cold nothing she had just shot at him a moment ago. He could sustain himself on her tears.

Hank faded away into some waiting area as Billy was moved through printing and processing. He followed with compliancy, making sure to proclaim his innocence and confusion often.

“Hey, when do I get my phone call?” Billy asked.

The officer glowered at him. “Your dad is already here.”

“I still get one phone call, though, don’t I?”

The officer rolled his eyes. “Fine. But make it fast so I can get you into the holding cell.”

The officer shuffled Billy over to the phone and orientated it in his direction. Billy picked up the receiver and looked to the officer.

“Can I get some privacy?” he asked.

“No,” the officer snipped but turned his back.

Billy returned to the phone and dialed Stu’s number.

The house phone echoed through the cavernous Macher house. In the basement, Stu lifted his head and released a groan.

“You know, Neil,” he said. “Making a mess like this only hurts you.”

Stu slid the bucket across the floor and pursed his lips to avoid gagging. Then he bounded up the stairs, chasing the song of the phone. He burst out of the door and hurried into the kitchen, snagging the receiver on a finger.

“Hello?”

“Stu,” Billy hissed.

“Billy, man, are you home already?”

“No,” Billy snapped. “Call Sid.”

“What do you mean, ‘call Sid’? What are you talking about?”

“I’m at the police station. Call Sid.” Billy said the last two words slow and heavy.

Stu frowned and leaned against the counter for a moment. Then realization shattered across his brain.

“Got it,” Stu said.

The call died in his hand. He replaced the receiver, retrieved the voice changer, then picked up the phone again. He dialed Tatum’s number.

“Hello, Riley residence,” Mrs. Riley sang into the phone.

“Hello, may I please talk to Sidney?” Stu said.

“Yes, please hold on.” Mrs. Riley set the phone aside, and Stu waited.

“Hello?” Sidney answered.

“Hello, Sidney.” Stu wished he could see her face, like Casey’s through the window, but he could imagine it. It was the same face she wore when he burst out of the closet.

“No!” Sidney cried.

“Poor Billy boyfriend,” Stu mocked. “An innocent man doesn’t stand a chance with you.”

“Leave me alone.”

“Looks like you fingered the wrong guy. Again!” Stu hissed.

“Who are you?”

Stu could hear rustling, commotion, and other voices behind Sidney.

“You’ll find out soon enough. I promise.”

Stu smiled as he replaced the phone in its cradle. Then he sighed hard before gathering cleaning supplies and returning to the basement.

Continued on… Father Death (13)

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 (10)

6

“If it were any other day, I would have totally skipped,” Stu said, raising his elbows high to rub his eyes. “But if I did, I would have missed this circus!” He launched his arms out to gesture at the accumulating news vans and police cars.

“Yeah, didn’t you hear there was a double homicide last night?” Billy replied with a low tone but also a small smirk.

Stu planted a finger on his chin. “You know, I had no idea until this morning.” He burst into giggles, and Billy could not help but chuckle along. “Why are the cops here, though?”

“They’re going to start interrogating people.”

“I better get myself a Jolt or something. I didn’t sneak out of Tatum’s until late last night. She could not get enough!” Stu interlaced his fingers and stretched his arms high over his head. “Then we had that early business this morning.”

Billy rolled his eyes and said nothing, folding his arms across his chest and watching the news reporters scurry along the lawn.

“How did things go with Sid last night?” Stu asked.

Billy cut him a look, and Stu shrank back. “They didn’t.”

“Really? She still isn’t giving anything up? That girl is frozen.”

Billy glared across the campus. “How’s her dad?”

“Uncomfortable.” Stu laughed. “But he’s fine. My parents aren’t due back until next week. If they even come home then.”

“Plenty of time. We let them spin on this first.”

Stu nodded and posted himself beside Billy to watch the show unfold. “Holy shit, man. Is that Gale Weathers?” Stu pointed across the lawn to a large media van branded Top Story.

“Yeah, it is. Sid hates that bitch.” Billy smirked.

“What the fuck is that suit? She looks like a lime.”

Billy scoffed. “What, are you a fashion consultant now?”

“No, but I am seriously blind looking at that shit. Look at it, man!” Stu gestured at Gale again, and Billy could only laugh.

“I can’t wait to watch Sid freak out.”

“I’m sure you’ll get your show.”

“All of this is a show.”

The bell sang out above their heads, and they moved to file into the entrance. The students merged together into one breathing mass, flowing through the door, and filling the hall. The air was saturated with the excited chatter. The words murder and death echoed on repeat. Billy and Stu drank it in as they made it to their lockers to retrieve no books.

Books and classes did not matter today.

Billy strove to keep his expression neutral. He feigned a passing ignorant curiosity. Yet the entire scene captivated him. He had done this, created this chaos and this frenzy. And that power surged through him under his façade. He felt like he was wearing the Father Death mask right now as he walked the halls, hiding his true face under the blank one he presented.

Stu chased behind Billy, consistently glancing over to gauge his temperament. Waves of thrill surged over him, erupting in giggles or a leap in his step. Then he fell into step beside Billy again. At the end of the hall, he saw Tatum, nodded to Billy, and skipped off to meet her.

The bell rang, and the gossip migrated into the classrooms.

Billy slouched in his desk as Mrs. Hammond droned on at the blackboard. His mind flitted between images of Maureen, flashes of Casey and Steve, the feel of Sidney’s skin, walking home alone in the dark last night. His heart rode a rollercoaster in his chest as he wagged his pencil in his grip and watched it tap the desk.

The classroom door opened again, as it had been every fifteen or so minutes. A student stepped in and handed Mrs. Hammond a piece of paper. Mrs. Hammond unfolded the hall pass then cast her eyes to Billy.

“Billy Loomis,” she recited. “It is your turn. Head down to Principal Himbry’s office.”

Billy nodded and held his reaction, his inappropriate excitement, as he slid from the chair to follow the student courier. He shoved his hands deep into his jeans pockets and slunk down the hallway, attempting to look casually nervous.

He could not wait to play with the inept police.

Principal Himbry opened his office door to release the previous student, whom Billy did not register or recognize. He was fixated on what remained in the room. Behind Principal Himbry, he could see Sheriff Burke lounging in a chair and Deputy Dewey posted up against a wall. Potentially the least threatening law enforcement he could imagine.

“Billy, come in, please,” Principal Himbry said, stepping aside and gesturing Billy through the door.

Billy slid past Principal Himbry and dropped into the empty chair. He made sure to flex the muscles down his arm to look tense and make sitting appear uncomfortable. He moved his eyes around between the men to look as if he was uneasy surrounded by so much authority.

“What’s your name, kid?” Sheriff Burke asked.

Billy bristled at the word but held fast. “Billy Loomis.”

Dewey looked down at a clipboard and scribbled with his pen.

“The police are going to ask you a few questions,” Principal Himbry said. “Standard procedure. They will be interviewing the student body.”

Billy nodded, wringing his hands.

“How are you and your father, Billy, since Debbie left?” Principal Himbry asked.

Billy’s eyes flared at Principal Himbry before he could catch them. The familiarity of his mother’s name in Principal Himbry’s mouth ignited him. He felt the heat spread under his skin as sweat prickled over him. He seized his control and poured meagerness over his expression.

“Fine, we’re fine, sir.” He threw in the sir even though the word nauseated him.

“Did you know Steven Orth?” Sheriff Burke began.

“The football player?” Billy asked. “Yeah, I mean, we had gym together, but I didn’t really know him.”

“What about Casey Becker?”

“I know she was his girlfriend.”

“But you didn’t have any kind of relationship with either of them?” Sheriff Burke pressed.

“No,” Billy said firmly. “Nothing outside of class.”

“Where were you last night?”

“At home, watching TV.”

“Can anyone confirm that?” Dewey asked, eager to speak, lifting his pen.

Billy turned to look to him. “Yeah, my dad was home after work.”

“Do you like to hunt?” Sheriff Burke redirected.

Billy shrugged and turned down his lips. “Never been.”

The three men exchanged glances, and Sheriff Burke nodded.

“Okay.” Principal Himbry clapped. “Thanks for your time, Billy.”

Billy gave a curt nod before pressing up from the chair and fleeing the office. The next student was already queued up behind him. When she walked past him and he heard the door close, a smile split across Billy’s face.

“Stuart,” Mrs. Curtis called from behind her desk. “Please go down to Principal Himbry’s office.”

“What did I do now?” Stu asked, tossing up his hands and taking his legs down off his desk.

“It is your turn for questioning,” she answered.

“Oh.” Stu chuckled, and a giggle rippled through the class.

Stu hopped up on his feet and strutted from the classroom. He snatched the pass from Mrs. Curtis on a mocking bow and followed his escort down to the office. When Principal Himbry held the door open for him, he strode casually to the chair and dropped himself into it. Stu immediately turned to Dewey and slapped the armrests.

“Dewey!” Stu exclaimed. “Look at you, all gussied up.”

Dewey sighed hard and rolled his eyes, shifting side to side, uncomfortable. “Deputy Riley, Stu.”

“Oh, right, Dewey. Dewey, sir,” Stu said. “Keep it professional.”

“Stuart,” Principal Himbry said. “The police need to ask you some questions. The same questions they are asking everyone. Please take them seriously.”

Stu pursed his face and nodded. Sheriff Burke released a huge exhale then leaned forward around his gut. He lowered his small notebook, planted his elbows on his knees, and steepled his fingers in front of him.

“What’s your name?” Dewey asked, pen at the ready.

“You know my name, man,” Stu answered.

“Your full name,” Sheriff Burke pressed.

“Stuart Macher.”

“Did you know Steven Orth?” Sheriff Burke asked.

“The big linebacker guy?” Stu said, holding his hands out. “You couldn’t miss him.”

“Yes, but did you know him?”

“Nah, not really. We didn’t exactly run in the same circles.” Stu circled his fingers beside his face.

“What about Casey Becker?”

“I know who she is.” Stu flinched and grimaced. “Was? But I didn’t know her know her. I don’t even know if we even had a class together.”

“Do you like to hunt?”

Stu pressed his hand to his chest. “Sheriff, I’m an animal lover. Unless, of course, it’s a Big Mac.” Stu stuck out his tongue and laughed at his own joke.

Dewey placed his pen down and closed his eyes. Sheriff Burke clasped his hands together and exhaled again.

“You can get out, Stuart,” Principal Himbry said.

Stu jumped up and walked to the door. “Um, good luck?” he near laughed before skipping down the hall.

The lunch bell finally rang and released the classes from the stifled building. The conversations buzzing through the halls had not changed. The vocabulary was no different. The police interviews only served to fuel speculation and intrigue. Whispers of murder had escalated and crescendoed into shouts of MURDER. The word took on a life of its own, stalking through its anxious and happy hosts, happy to pass it between them.

Billy slunk up behind Sidney as she exchanged books in her locker and rooted around for her lunch. He slid his hands along her light blue shirt above her jeans until he found her waist. She startled back into him, gasping in a small cry before she recognized him. Then her smile broke wide across her cheeks, and she leaned into him. He slithered his arms the rest of the way around her.

“You’re so jumpy,” Billy said against Sidney’s ear as he cradled her.

“You keep sneaking up on me.”

Billy pressed his lips into Sidney’s neck until he could feel her pulse thump soft against his skin. He lost himself in its hypnotic and steady throb. And all the thoughts of making it stop. Sidney guided him back and seated her locker door.

“Come on,” she said, extending her hand. “They’ll be waiting for us at the fountain.”

Billy took her hand and searched for her pulse there. He knew it thumped in her wrist, but there was no way to grip her casually that way. Instead, he concentrated on the warmth of her flesh and the idea of what it would be like for it to go cold. After she finally wanted him. After he was done with her.

The California sun sliced through the day from high in the clear sky as Sidney led Billy across the courtyard. The water splashing in the fountain glistened in the garish light. Billy squinted against it, lifting his free hand to shield his eyes. Tatum and Stu already perched on the cement lining the water, and Randy approached them from the side in a glowing green shirt, lowering himself beside Tatum as Sidney and Billy arrived.

Billy planted himself on the edge of the long bench. He maneuvered Sidney between his legs as he sat then folded back to bask in the sun like a lizard. The warmth of the concrete radiated up through his clothes as the sun beat down on him. Tatum chattered at Sidney, as she always did, but Billy did not hear her. He heard Casey screaming when she first saw his ghost face through the window. He heard Steve’s muffled cries against the bloody tape. He heard Maureen asking why.

“Saw your brother today,” Randy said to Tatum, slipping a grape into his mouth.

“Yeah, we all saw Deputy Dewey,” Stu commented.

“He was all nervous this morning,” Tatum said.

“Yeah, he looked a little flustered,” Sidney said, reclining into Billy’s legs.

“What kind of questions did they ask you, Sid?” Tatum asked.

“They asked me if I knew Casey,” Sidney answered.

“They asked me too,” Tatum said.

“Hey, did they ask if you liked to hunt?” Stu leaned between the girls and looked down at Billy.

“Yeah, they did,” Billy confirmed. “Did they ask you?”

“Why would they ask if you liked to hunt?” Tatum interrupted.

“Cause their bodies were gutted,” Randy said.

At Randy’s words, Billy raised up on an elbow to cast his eyes over the group at him. “Thank you, Randy,” he said in a flat voice.

“They didn’t ask me if I liked to hunt.” Tatum held her arms out beside her.

“Cause there is no way a girl could’ve killed them,” Stu answered, quick and casual.

Tatum tipped her head at him. “That is so sexist. The killer could easily be a female, Basic Extinct.”

“That was an ice pick, not exactly the same thing,” Randy clarified, squinting in the sun.

An ice pick would not have been nearly as much fun, Billy thought as he kept his face slack.

“Yeah, Casey and Steve were completely hollowed out.” Stu suppressed the flash of Casey’s intestines tumbling at his feet. “And the fact is it takes a man to do something like that.” It took me, he thought.

“Or a man’s mentality,” Tatum mocked.

“How do you…gut someone?” Sidney’s voice joined the conversation, soft and hesitant.

The group halted, turning all eyes to Sidney. The moment thickened with the past, the unspoken past they all knew. It hung over them, casting shadows even in the glaring sunlight.

“You take a knife, and you slit them from groin to sternum.” Stu’s heavy and heartless words hit Sidney in the face, and her expression contorted.

Billy leaned forward to glower at Stu. “Hey, it’s called tact, you fuckrag.” Sidney needed to see him defending her.

Sidney winced then redirected. “Hey Stu, didn’t you used to date Casey?”

“Yeah, for like two seconds.” Stu’s lips curled in an awkward smile.

Randy leaned into Tatum’s ear quickly. “Before she dumped him for Steve.”

Tatum’s nose wrinkled as she frowned at Stu. “I thought you dumped her for me.”

“I did; he’s full of shit.” Stu wrapped himself around Tatum and glared at Randy.

“And are the police aware you dated the victim?” Randy pressed.

“What are you trying to say—that I killed her?”

“It would sure improve your high school ‘Q.’” Randy shrugged.

Tatum cuddled into Stu. “Stu was with me last night.”

“Yeah, I was.”

“Was that before or after he sliced and diced?” Randy bit and tore at the words.

Sidney flinched as Randy spoke, retracting from Billy, curling into herself.

“Fuck you, nut case!” Tatum snapped. “Where were you last night?”

“Working. Thank you.”

“Oh, at the video store? I thought they fired your sorry ass.” Tatum opened her eyes wide to accentuate her point.

“Twice.” Randy popped a grape in his mouth then crushed it between his teeth.

Stu adopted an uncharacteristically serious expression. He dug deep to muster the resolve. “I didn’t kill anybody.”

“Nobody said you did.” Billy tilted his head for emphasis.

“Thanks, buddy.”

“Besides, it takes a man to do a thing like that,” Randy mocked.

“I’m gonna gut your ass in a second, kid,” Stu said.

Randy rose and bowed toward Stu. “Did you really put her liver in the mailbox? Cause I heard that they found her liver in the mailbox next to her spleen and pancreas,” he said in a Jerry Lewis impersonation.

Sidney writhed at each word. She stiffened, her face wrinkled, then gathered up her backpack. Billy observed her discomfort and made sure to mirror her disgust. He made the right facial expressions, exhibited the right tense and rounded body language.

“Randy, you goon fuck, I’m trying to eat here.” Tatum threw a grape at Randy.

Randy smirked as he leaned over Tatum to fetch another grape from the open bag. Sidney pressed her lips to Billy’s and got up to walk away.

“She’s getting mad, alright?” Stu joked. “You better liver alone. Liver alone!”

Stu cackled at himself, extending his tongue. Billy glared over at him and shifted into the space Sidney vacated to sit forward. He watched her walk away. Leaving, always leaving him. Billy reached over and smacked Stu’s arm.

“Liv—Ow! Liver. Liver. It was a joke!” Stu protested.

“You can’t joke like that with Sid,” Tatum snapped. She shoved at Stu and looked after Sid.

“Come on, that was funny.” Stu looked to Randy and Billy for confirmation.

“Don’t be stupid,” Billy said what he was supposed to say, what he needed Tatum to repeat to Sidney. “Her mom, man.”

“That was a year ago.” Stu threw up a hand. “It has nothing to do with this.”

“Yeah, but Gale Weathers is buzzing around,” Randy said. “Did you see her?”

“How could you miss her in that hideous suit?” Stu sniped.

“It all feels exactly the same.” Tatum’s voice fell and took the conversation with it.

“Lunch is over anyway,” Billy said as he abandoned the warm concrete and headed back toward the school.

Stu skipped across the asphalt and snagged Billy around the neck. Billy allowed Stu to drag him down, his boots slapping the parking lot in staggered steps. Hunched over, the grin rippled unmitigated over his cheeks until he sluffed Stu’s arm from his shoulder and stood upright again.

“What a fucking show today, man!” Stu seized Billy’s shoulders from behind and gave them a small shake.

“Get a hold of yourself before you put on a show.” Billy shrugged Stu off and regarded him from the side of his eyes.

“I know. I know.” Stu took a dramatic inhale, running his hands up along his torso. “It’s just so exciting. It’s all anyone could talk about today. Us, man.” Stu tapped Billy’s arm. “We did that.”

Billy smirked at Stu as he lowered himself into the car. Stu rounded the passenger’s side of the car and joined him.

“So,” Stu asked as Billy drove from the parking lot. “What are we doing tonight?”

“I want to fuck with Sidney,” Billy replied, his eyes locked on the road.

“Is it time to off her?” Stu lounged against his window and extended his long limbs toward the floorboards.

“No, not yet. Just need to scare her.”

“Maybe getting her blood pumping will thaw her out.”

Billy snapped narrow eyes over to Stu. Stu lifted his hands in surrender.

“I’m just saying, man,” Stu said. “Scary movies work on Tatum every time.”

Billy’s rage rippled through the air, and Stu pursed his lips. He laced his long fingers over one knee and turned his gaze to the road ahead.

“How much do you want to scare her?” Stu finally asked when Billy’s breathing had settled. “Like, do you want her to just scream or bleed a little?”

“We’ll see what you can pull off while I’m on the phone.” The cruel grin returned to Billy’s cheeks. “Because I need to be there to save her at the end.”

Stu smiled deliriously and nodded.

“Just don’t kill her.” Billy’s words were sharp, and he shot another glance at Stu.

“All right, all right, man. I get it.” Stu lifted his hands again. “I can follow directions.

Billy parked the car in the same spot on Sidney’s street. He focused on diving into the memory of the successful night with Maureen, damming up the swelling thoughts of trudging back to this spot after Sidney had rejected him the previous night. He could retrace his steps to the large house tonight and divert her along his maze as he wanted. Get her to scream like he wanted.

“OK, I’ll call her and get her agitated,” Billy started.

“That should take no effort. That girl lives agitated.”

Billy narrowed his eyes at Stu. “Get into the house and chase her around. You can wound her but nothing serious.” Billy pointed with his finger. “Really scare the shit out of her, though. She needs to know this is real.”

“You sure you don’t want to chase her around?”

Billy raised his eyebrow. He wanted to chase her. He wanted to wound her. He wanted to do all of it by himself, just his way. Yet he needed to play partner with Stu. He needed to give him a role. He needed to have him in place later. And he had so many things he needed to say to Sidney.

“I’ll get her later.” A cruel smirk wound Billy’s lips. “I’ll call from the trees then show up at the right time.”

Stu nodded before tugging the robe over his head then sliding the mask over his face. When he turned the ghastly visage to Billy, he was a new and anonymous figure.

The sun had fled from the sky behind the distant hills. Billy stuffed the keys under the visor, and they exited the car, pressing their doors closed quietly. They moved through the fresh night, hiding from the bright lights and white picket fence of the Prescott house, making for the trees. Billy found a trunk to befriend, not unlike Stu in Casey’s backyard, as Stu crept toward the side of the house.

Billy extracted the phone and voice changer from his pockets. He dialed Sidney’s number from memory and pressed Call.

“Tatum, just get in the car,” Sidney answered.

Billy bristled at hearing Tatum’s name. Tatum, in the way as usual.

“Hello, Sidney.” He smiled in his anonymity, in the game.

“Uh…Hi, who is this?” Sidney’s tone lost the irritated, coating instead in confusion.

“You tell me.” Billy already enjoyed not saying what he was supposed to, giving himself new lines.

“Well, I—I have no idea.”

“Scary night, isn’t it? With all the murders and all, it’s like just out of a horror movie or something.” The words scary and horror tingled on his tongue, crackled through the phone.

“Randy, you gave yourself away. Are you calling from work? Cause if you are, Tatum is on the way over.” Sidney laughed.

Billy watched a light ignite in the house.

Fucking Randy. You’d like it to be Randy. The edges of Billy’s vision brewed red.

“Do you like scary movies, Sidney?” Billy asked.

“I like that thing you’re doing with your voice, Randy. It’s sexy.” Sidney’s voice bounced playful.

You would flirt with him. “What’s your favorite scary movie, Sidney?”

“You know I don’t watch that shit.”

I know you don’t do anything. “Why not? Too scared?”

Billy glanced over to Stu, hunkered down against the side of the house, a black blob against the siding. He twitched in his boredom, wobbling his knife in front of his face in the shadows.

“No, no,” Sidney said. “What’s the point? They are all the same. Some stupid killer stalking some big-breasted girl that can’t act when she is running up the steps when she should be going out the front door. It’s insulting.”

“Are you alone in the house?”

“Randy, that’s so unoriginal. I’m so disappointed in you.”

Fuck Randy! “Maybe because I’m not Randy.” Anger leaked into Billy’s voice, even through the voice changer.

In the lighted window facing the trees, Sidney appeared leaning on the back of the couch. She hesitated there until Billy’s voice broke across her face. Then she pushed back and turned into the house.

“So, who are you?”

“The question isn’t who am I? The question is, where am I?”

“S—So where are you?

“Your front porch.” Billy’s heart accelerated in his chest. Come out and see me. Come out and play, he beckoned her.

Sidney paused for a long time. Then the lights in the front of the house came on.

“Why would you be calling from my front porch?” Sidney asked, her figure appearing in the front windows.

“That’s the original part.”

“Oh yeah, I call you a bluff.”

Stu’s head snapped toward the front door. He shimmied up the siding and slunk deeper into the shadows. Sidney opened the door and stepped through onto the porch, swinging her head from side to side around the yard. Billy watched her in quiet fascination, waiting. Her fearlessness excited him. No tears like Casey. Sidney stood exposed and confrontational, alone on the porch.

“So, where are you?” Sidney asked.

Billy near-choked on the response yet quickly righted himself. “Right here.” He was right there, looking right at her.

Sidney lowered the phone to her side and strode along the porch boards, eyes slicing around the night. As she turned her back, Stu crept along the railing of the porch. He moved slow and silent, watching the back of her head. When she placed her hands on the far railing to look over, he sprinted up the steps and in through the front door.

Stu’s heart hammered in his chest as he cleared the threshold. The mask felt suffocating in all his suppressed panting. Despite the tingling in his hands, he moved directly into the closet and tucked himself inside.

Outside, Billy released a relieved breath at seeing Stu make it. Sidney turned back from the railing and brought the phone up to her ear.

“Can you see me now?” she asked.

“Uh-huh.”

“Ah.” Sidney planted her finger in her nose and whirled from side to side.

Billy wrinkled his face, recoiling from the phone as he watched her.

“What am I doing? Huh? Huh? What am I doing? Hello?” she called loudly. She paused a beat, waiting for a reply, then burst into a smile. “Nice try, Randy. Tell Tatum to hurry up, okay? Bye now.”

Say Randy one more time! “If you hang up on me, you’ll die just like your mother. Do you want to die, Sidney? Your mother sure didn’t.”

A wave of relief rolled over Billy. He had been waiting to say those words to Sidney for months. He wished he was close enough to see her face.

“Fuck you, you cretin,” Sidney snapped.

The call died in Billy’s hand, but he could only smile down, pleased at the phone. He watched Sidney flee into the house and slipped the phone into his pocket. He meandered toward the back, moving to climb the same route he had the night before.

From inside the dark and crowded closet, Stu heard the front door close. His cue. Throbbing with nervous energy again, he pushed the door open and raised his knife high. Even through the shrouded eyeholes of the mask, Stu could vividly make out the terror twisting Sidney’s face. The thrill nearly nauseated him. He fought back the rising thoughts of Casey from blurring with the moment and lunged forward.

Sidney ducked immediately, disappearing from beneath his blow. He settled for knocking her down from her back. She sprawled to the hardwood yet struck out with her legs, taking him down in a clumsy heap. He was only relieved that Billy was not inside to witness this display. He grappled on top of Sidney, lifting the blade, yet she clung maddeningly to his wrist.

Frustrated, he seized a handful of her hair in his glove and lifted her head. Then he slammed it down against the wood floor. Her hand shot up to cradle her temple, and he watched her eyes swim. In that temporary daze, he caressed her neck with the blade then heaved it above his head with both hands. Sidney’s eyes went wild.

“No!” she cried, kicking him in the chest.

Stu flew backward, tumbling to the hardwood. The floor collided hard with his back and elbows. As he scrambled from his back, Sidney shot to the door and fought with the chain she had secured. Stu stabbed at her, yet his blade found only door. He released a disgruntled sigh as he wrenched the knife free. Sidney was already fleeing up the stairs.

What a cliché, Stu thought as he chased after her. Billy would never forgive him if he gave up here.

Stu jogged up the stairs after Sidney, swinging the knife at his side and repeating just don’t kill her in his mind. Sidney darted down the hallway and into her room, slamming the door in Stu’s face. Stu made the proper show of fighting the door until he broke it open. The door slammed into another door and left him trapped and struggling in the hall.

Stu smashed the doors together, slashing his knife through the bedroom air and attempting to shove himself through the opening. Then once Sidney sat at her computer screen, he retreated and hurried down the hall and out of the house.

Crouched outside Sidney’s window like the previous night, Billy listened to the commotion. Once he heard Stu stop fighting the doors, he thrust himself through Sidney’s window.

“Billy!” Sidney cried.

“The door’s locked,” Billy said as he climbed into the room. “I heard screaming. You alright?”

Sidney gathered Billy into her shaking arms, clinging to him. “The killer is here. He’s in the house. He’s in the house. He’s going to kill me.” Her words mumbled into his collar.

Billy wrapped his arms around her, enjoyed her trembling against him. He had caused this. He had this control.

“He’s gone,” Billy soothed. “He’s gone. It’s alright.”

The cell phone tumbled from Billy’s pocket and bounced beside his shoe. Shit, Billy thought. Shit shit shit. Sidney glanced down at the device and drew away from Billy. Her eyes narrowed with skepticism. She looked at him with that same look, that same face Maureen had before he had plunged the knife into her.

“What?” Billy asked. Shit. Play dumb, just play dumb. “Sid, What?”

Billy reached for her, but Sidney sprinted from the room and down the stairs. The rejection blistered along the back of Billy’s throat again.

“Whoa! Whoa!” he called after her. “Wait, wait, wait! Sid, wait!”

His words meant nothing to her. She kept running. He trailed her to the hallway and leaned down over the railing.

“Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait! What’s going on?” he called. “Sidney, come back. Sidney!”

Sidney’s scream climbed the stairs, followed by another equally high scream.

Fuck, Billy thought.

He remained slumped over the railing, wearing the confused mask of an innocent man. The voice changer was in the trees for Stu to fetch. If Stu was any good at following directions, as he claimed to be, he would be pocketing that and driving Billy’s car far out of sight right now. Billy pushed a breath through his lips and conjured the trust.

A stampede of footsteps came barreling through Sidney’s front door then pounding up the steps. Dewey led the charge with his pistol gripped between clenched hands, his eyes wide above his thin mustache. Billy fought the urge to roll his eyes at the sight of him. He easily would be in the first round of deaths in any good scary movie.

“Hands where I can see them, Loomis,” Dewey said, leveling his gun on Billy.

Billy lifted his palms gingerly. “I didn’t do anything, Dewey.”

“Deputy Riley!” Dewey huffed. “Billy Loomis, you’re under arrest. You’re coming with us.”

Two officers swarmed from behind Dewey and seized Billy by the arms. They dragged him down the stairs, awkward and staggering. Billy followed, docile and compliant, keeping his mask of confusion and innocence firmly seated. He focused on seeking out Sidney.

The officers wrestled Billy across the lawn. He struggled against them only to protest his innocence and look for Sidney. He applied just the right amount of outrage and bewilderment. They pushed him down the sidewalk cutting through the manicured lawn and past the picket fence. Then they slammed him down on the hood of a police cruiser.

“All right, hold your hands together,” one officer instructed, tugging on Billy’s wrists.

“Do you wish to give up your right to remain silent?” Dewey recited.

“I didn’t do anything,” Billy repeated.

“Do you wish to give up your right to speak to an attorney and have them present during questioning?” Dewey continued.

The officers hauled Billy up from the hood, hands cuffed behind his back. They moved to haul him away.

“Ask her. She’ll tell you.” Billy looked again for Sidney. He could feel her nearby.

Sheriff Burke pulled up in his car. Dewey approached the car, anxious to deliver news.

“What do we have, Dewey?” Sheriff Burke asked.

“I caught him, Sheriff.” Dewey beamed.

“Who is that?” Sheriff Burke squinted down at Billy.

“Billy Loomis.”

Sheriff Burke stretched out of his car as Billy struggled toward him. He pulled against the officers, attempting to shrug them off.

“Sheriff, Sheriff, call these guys off,” Billy begged, the words sour in his mouth.

Sheriff Burke granted Billy a disdainful glance. Then the officers shoved him in the backseat of a car.

“I didn’t do it,” Billy continued. “Sheriff, wait. Listen, call my dad. Please, call him. He’ll tell you. Call him. Sidney!” The officers shut the door in Billy’s face. “Sidney!” he called through the glass. “Sid!”

Behind Billy’s car, Stu watched the flashing lights in Sidney’s yard. He held the ghost mask in his long fingers, fiddling with the plastic edge of the face.

“Fuck,” he breathed.

He listened to Billy’s cries encased by the police car until they drove him away. Then he slid into the driver’s seat. He chucked the voice changer into the passenger’s seat and rested his head against the steering wheel. He let out a breath then smacked his forehead against the wheel. Then harder. When he hit hard enough to feel a slight ringing in his ears, he dropped the keys from the visor, started the car, and drove off into the night.

Continued on…. Father Death (12)

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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 (9)

5

“Holy shit. Holy shit. Holy shit. Holy shit,” Stu breathed from the passenger’s seat like a mantra.

“Wooooo!” Billy called out the open window. The crisp air whipped through his air and made the night feel more real.

Stu planted both palms on the dashboard and turned a dazed expression to Billy. The light from the road carved his face into grave shadows.

“We did it,” Stu said. “We fucking did, man!”

“Again,” Billy corrected. “We fucking did it again.”

The tires spirited them away into the night, away from their crime. Stu’s nausea sank back into memory behind them, pooled around Casey’s guts in the grass. Billy drummed his fingers on the steering wheel, unable to temper his elation.

“Where to now?” Stu asked.

“Alibis. Getting you to Tatum.”

Stu’s face fell before he plastered the smile back in its place. “That’s right. Where are you going?”

“I’m going to swing by Sid’s house.”

“She know you’re coming?”

“Nope.”

“Her pops in town?”

Billy reached over and slapped Stu in the arm. “You know he is. It’s kind of important to this whole thing that he is right now but won’t be in a couple days.”

“Right, right.” Stu glowered and rubbed his arm, sinking down into his seat.

“What are you going to tell Tatum about where you were before this?”

Stu slipped his hand under his seat and extracted a couple VHS tapes. “Just picking up some scary movies to watch. Lifted these out of Randy’s car.”

“Nice.” Billy nodded in approval, and Stu’s smile spread.

Billy rolled to a stop outside Tatum’s house. Stu glanced to the lighted wrap-around porch then back to Billy.

“See you tomorrow, man.” Stu beamed and then hopped from the car.

Stu bounced up the sidewalk in leaping steps as Billy pulled away from the curb. Billy saw Tatum open the door and wrap her arms around Stu before he drove off down the street.

Billy relaxed into the driver’s seat, leaning back into the upholstery and draping his wrist over the top of the steering wheel. Stu had executed his plan without bungling it. Now, Stu was a fully vested participant, more than an accomplice, no way out anymore. He was following the script, just like Billy needed him to.

Billy tilted his head toward the window and let the breeze slip through his hair and massage his thoughts. As he pointed the car toward Sidney’s house, his mind meandered back to that night. One foot of his consciousness toed into that memory at the sight of Sidney, at the right glance from Stu, but perhaps the most from going to the Prescott house. Where he could retrace the steps of the crime itself, breathe in her stale smell even a year later.

The pleasant nostalgia climbed his limbs as he wound up the hillside streets to the Prescott house. He parked in the same spot he and Stu had that night, hidden from the streetlights and the windows. He wasn’t supposed to be there again. Echoes and similarities crashed over him. He could be treading his own footsteps from that night as he crept toward the looming and lighted house. He almost stopped to savor the sensation of it, to live in the throbbing thrill.

He also resisted the urge to find the same entry point and burst through the sliding glass door in a full reenactment. He was here for Sidney—not her mother this time.

Avoiding the garish stretch of the ludicrous exterior lights, Billy slipped to the side of the house, away from the street and under Sidney’s window. He stepped back towards the trees until he could see over the railing to glimpse the light in her open window. Then he continued around the back and heaved himself onto the back deck. Laying soundless footsteps on the planks, he ascended to her window and crouched low, listening.

The faint sound of keyboard clicking drifted into the night. Easing up slowly against the siding, Billy peered through the window. Sidney perched on her desk chair, glancing between the monitor and keyboard as she typed. Somehow, her dutifully doing her homework irritated Billy. He had just been out gutting and hanging their classmates as she sat in her room doing what she was supposed to. He wanted to climb through the window and ruffle her perfection. Tear down her perfect life, the façade with which she surrounded herself.

Soon enough.

Billy bumped against the house as he lowered himself from the window. He reached over and sent a small flowerpot cascading over the railing. It shattered faintly below. Then he waited. He could hear Sidney press up from her chair and approach the window. Her hands appeared on the windowsill. Billy smirked before reaching out to snatch her shoulder.

Sidney released a short, sharp scream and recoiled from him.

“It’s just me!” Billy said, leaning in through the window. “Sorry. Don’t hate me,” he said as Sidney helped him climb through.

Billy looked down to notice the nightgown she was wearing. The flowered fabric bared her shoulders. Her perky breasts hinted beneath the thin cotton fabric as the bottom ruffle flirted with her thighs. His mind clouded for a second at the suggestion of all her flesh.

“You sleep in that?” he asked.

“Yes, I sleep in this.” Sidney’s head whirled between Billy and her bedroom door. “My dad is in the other room. You can’t be here.”

“I’ll just stay a sec.” Billy unfolded himself to standing.

“No! You gotta go! Go! Go! Go!” Sidney flustered a hand at Billy’s chest.

A knock fluttered on the door, and Sidney jumped again. Immediately, the door opened yet crashed into Sidney’s open closet door. Billy dove to the floor as Sidney sprinted across the room. Curling his legs in, he pressed himself against the trailing edge of Sidney’s bedspread as he listened.

“What’s going on in there?” Sidney’s dad asked. “Are you okay?”

“Can you knock?” Sidney said.

He did knock, Billy thought, laughing silently to himself.

“I heard screaming,” her dad said.

“No, you didn’t,” Sidney answered.

Yes, you did, Billy thought as he smirked on the floor.

“No?” Her dad’s tone softened. “Oh, well. I am hitting the sack. My flight leaves first thing in the morning. Now, the expo runs all weekend, so I won’t be back till Sunday. There’s cash on the table, and I am staying….”

Bingo. We grab him tomorrow.

“At the Hilton,” Sidney finished.

“Out at the airport. So, call if….”

“I need anything. Yeah, I got it.”

“I could’ve sworn I heard screaming.”

Hopefully, you’re about to, Billy mused.

“Have a good trip, okay?” Sidney dismissed her father.

“Sleep tight, sweetie,” her dad said.

Billy listened for the door to close. He grabbed a stuffed tiger from the floor beside him and popped it up on the bed.

“Close call,” Billy spoke for the tiger.

“Billy, what are you doing here?”

Billy eased up from the floor. “It occurred to me that I had never snuck through your bedroom window.”

“Well, now that it’s out of your system….” Sidney motioned toward the window.

Billy could feel her anxiety. She wanted him to leave. Somehow, that excited him more, being there when she didn’t want him to be. He strode past her, unfazed.

“I was home watching television,” Billy continued. “The Exorcist was on.” He waved his hands beside his head. “It got me thinking of you.” Billy moved around her room as he talked.

Sidney gave an amused shrug. “It did?”

“Yeah, it was edited for TV. All the good stuff was cut out. And it got me thinking of us.” He turned his eyes back to Sidney as he approached her. “How two years ago we started off hot and heavy. Nice solid R rating on our way to a NC-17. And now, things have changed, and lately, we’re just edited for television.”

Sidney’s face fell before she raised her eyebrows slyly. “Oh, so you thought you would climb through my window and have a little raw footage?”

Yes. “No. I wouldn’t dream of breaking your underwear rule.” Billy glanced to the side then back to Sidney. “I just thought we could do a little on-top-of-the-clothes stuff.”

Sidney lowered herself to sit at the edge of her bed. “Okay.”

“Yeah?” Billy offered a grateful smile that felt vile on his face.

“Yeah.” Sidney smiled brightly.

Sidney rose to kiss Billy, and he met her with his mouth. He pressed his lips against her again and again before guiding her back onto the bed. He laid Sidney down gently on the mattress, climbing on top of her.

“Hey,” she said on a soft laugh as they continued to kiss.

Sidney tangled one of her hands in Billy’s as their kiss deepened. Billy’s nerves throbbed in an agitated rhythm. The restraint was maddening. He did not want to be gentle. He did not want to wait. He was exhausted of both. He wanted to just take her. He needed her to finally want him. He felt those desires pounding through him with her breath against his nose, her fingers tracing his own, her body under his. He felt his self-control wobbling.

Billy slipped his fingers from Sidney’s and extended them down her thigh, pressing his hand to her warm, smooth flesh. His brain drowned in impulse as he slid his hand up her thigh, teasing at the hem of her nightgown.

Instantly, Sidney’s firm grip seized his hand and stopped his progress. Anger and rejection sliced through the haze and brought his mind back to a point. He had his mouth on her neck, but she turned away and started to buck him off.

“Okay, okay, okay. Time’s up, stud bucket,” Sidney said as she slid from beneath him. She sat up and pressed her palm over her mouth.

Billy could feel a pulse in his anger. “God, you see what you do to me,” he said exactly what he meant in a soft tone.

Sidney released a laugh and her smile again, brushing her bangs aside. “You know what my dad will do to you?” Sidney cast a glance to the door.

“Yeah, I’m going.”

Billy retreated backwards toward the window. Sidney stood from the bed and followed him, interlacing her fingers with his. Her touch mocked him now, but he treated it with feigned affection. He pecked her lips before pushing his legs out the window.

“You know, I appreciate the romantic gesture.”

Sure, you do, Billy scoffed in his head. “Hey, about the sex stuff, I’m not trying to rush you at all. I was only half-serious.” No, I was completely fucking serious, you frigid bitch.

“Okay.” Sidney cracked a relieved smile and brushed her hand down his arm.

Sidney leaned in to kiss Billy again. He attempted not to bristle at the touch and climbed the rest of the way out of the window.

“Hey Billy, would you settle for a PG-13 relationship?” Sidney called.

Billy looked up from the windowsill. “What’s that?”

Sidney gripped the neckline of her nightgown then tugged to unhinge all the snaps lining the chest. The nightgown flew open for a brief instant, exposing her breasts in the soft light. Billy stood stunned as she covered and laughed at her own cleverness. He leaned forward onto the windowsill and cradled his forehead. Rage billowed up in his chest, but he concealed it with a choking grin.

“My God,” he said. “You’re just a tease.”

Billy dropped out of the window. He saw Sidney watch him for a minute then she receded back into the glow of her room. Seething, Billy slipped back into the night and away from the Prescott house. He no longer felt pleasantly enveloped in the memory of the night he killed the woman who destroyed his family. He was no longer riding the euphoric high of successfully executing two people. Those things were eclipsed by the fact that he was not enough for Sidney, that she did not want him enough. She continued to string him along in this game.

What had he expected? He had expected tonight to be different because tonight was different. He expected her to feel that in him and be seduced by its power. Yet she could not throw him out of her window fast enough.

Just as his mother could not run away from him fast enough.

All because of Maureen. Still.

Billy slammed the car into gear and sped himself home. He entered quiet, but only the grumbling of the television greeted him. When he padded down the hall, he found his father passed out in his recliner, still in his suit. Hank had loosened his tie before he poured his first drink. After several more drinks, Billy knew he forgot what he was wearing at all.

Billy retired to his room and flipped on his television as if he had been home watching all night.

Continued on… Father Death (11)

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 (8)

5

“This motherfucker is so heavy!” Billy grunted.

“Well, look at him,” Stu replied. “He’s like a linebacker, man.”

Steve moaned as Billy and Stu struggled him through the field outlying Casey’s parents’ property. The lights of the house appeared small in the distance. The shape of the pool glowed in the growing dark. Their long black robes swished and tangled in the grass. As they approached Casey’s house, Steve shifted against the duct tape binding him.

“He’s coming to,” Stu reported.

“Get him in a chair.”

Billy and Stu shuffled around the edge of the pool deck. An eerie mist rose from the glowing water. Both scrutinized the lighted windows of Casey’s house for movement. They lowered Steve, and Billy gestured to one of the chairs beside the water. Stu hustled to it and lifted it to avoid scraping it along the cement.

“Hurry!” Billy barked.

Stu huffed and threw exasperated eyes back at Billy as he maneuvered the chair over. As Steve wriggled at Billy’s feet, fighting his tape bindings, his muffled screams rose from the ground. Billy replied with a swift kick to his ribs.

“Shut up,” Billy hissed. “There. Help me with him.”

Steve thrashed as they gathered him up and wrestled him into the chair. Billy reached into his bag and extracted the glinting knife, holding it up in front of Steve’s face. Steve’s eyes went wide, and he stilled, puffing panicked breaths out of his nose. Billy lowered the knife and cut the tape at Steve’s wrists. Then Stu tore off fresh tape and bound him to the arms of the chair.

Billy studied Steve’s eyes as Stu worked. Frantic, they shifted from Stu’s hands to Billy’s knife. They lingered the longest on Casey’s house, trying to press into the window. Billy stared at the fear pooling in tears at the corners of Steve’s eyes. When Billy stepped back and the blade moved away with him, Steve tugged on his new restraints and screamed against the tape again. Stu stepped up in front of him.

“Nighty night.” Stu smiled and punched Steve hard in the face.

Steve slacked against his bindings, slumping in the chair. His head rolled to the slide as blood trickled down over the tape covering his mouth. Billy and Stu both tipped their heads as they regarded him. Then each took an arm of the chair and lifted, grunting and scuttling until he was tucked behind the planter. With Steve out of sight from the house, they retreated into the darkness of the yard.

Crouching behind the plants, Billy lowered his bag. He sheathed his knife in a forearm holster then offered Stu another blade to do the same. He handed the cell phone and voice changer to Stu. Then they both extracted a mask. Billy held his mask in his hands, examining the screaming visage once more. Then they both turned their eyes to the house to see Casey move across the window.

Casey’s figure, cleaved in a cream sweater and purple pants, crossed their view as she moved between the kitchen and the living room. They could see the blue glow from her television as it anticipated an upcoming movie screening. She tucked her short blonde hair behind one ear as she walked. She floated through the house, ignorant, naïve, unaware. And that made her beautiful. Billy and Stu exchanged elated grins and nodded.

Stu stepped back and positioned himself where he could see the most windows. He hunched against a tree and clutched the phone and voice changer in his hands.

Billy pulled the mask over his face. An elastic band hugged the back of his head while the hood draped down over his shoulders. As the plastic of the mask pressed against his nose, the mesh eye holes darkened his view of the night. He listened to his own breathing as he moved back toward Steve.

Once Billy was settled, Stu took a deep breath and pressed the Call button. The call rang in his ear before he heard the phone ring in Casey’s house. He watched Casey move across the living room to retrieve the phone from the small table, television glowing behind her.

“Hello?”

Stu heard Casey’s voice in his ear and watched her hold the receiver to her ear, stretching the spiraled cord. He was glad he had caught her in the living room, in full view of the patio door windows. It was as if she was on a movie screen for him.

“Hello?” he responded, hearing the distorted version rendered by the voice changer.

“Yes?”

“Who is this?” Stu was not sure what to say, how to start this exchange.

“Who are you trying to reach?”

“What number is this?” Stu stalled. His mind raced with his heart.

“What number are you trying to reach?” Casey leaned into the phone, smiling.

“I don’t know.” He said exactly what he was thinking.

“I think you have the wrong number.”

No, I have exactly the right number, he thought. “Do I?”

“It happens. Take it easy.”

Stu watched Casey move the phone from her ear and heard the call die in his own.

“Shit!” he hissed.

Casey turned away to leave the living room as he redialed the call. The phone beckoned her again, and she turned to snatch it back up.

Billy watched Stu from his crouch, anxiety prickling along his skin. He forced himself to breathe against the mask and hear and measure the exhalations. He wanted to be on the phone. He wanted to be orchestrating the night. He’s already fucking it up, his mind kept chanting. He choked on the necessity of letting Stu do this. Billy was the director, writer, maybe even the leading man of his movie, but he needed Stu to play his part.

“Hello?” Casey answered again.

“I’m sorry. I guess I dialed the wrong number,” Stu answered.

“So, why’d you dial it again?”

“To apologize.” He had never apologized to Casey once. She was the one who needed to apologize to him.

“You’re forgiven. Bye now.”

Not so fast, bitch, he thought. “Wait! Wait! Don’t hang up!” Stu said.

“What?”

“I want to talk to you for a second.” I want to play a game.

“They’ve got 900 numbers for that. See-ya.”

The phone died in Stu’s ear again, and he watched Casey shake her head as she left the room, moving out of sight down the hall and into the kitchen.

“Shit!” Stu slapped his gloved hand against the tree bark. “Fucking bitch.”

Stu redialed.

Billy clasped his gloved hands and strangled them together, breathing harder against the mask. Steve rustled in the rousing edges of consciousness beside him.

“Hello?” Casey answered.

“Why don’t you want to talk to me?” Stu asked. Why did you dump me?

“Who is this?”

“You tell me your name, I’ll tell you mine.” Stu smiled as he found his footing in the banter.

“I don’t think so.” Casey shook something, and the noise drifted into the receiver.

“What’s that noise?”

“Popcorn.”

Stu heard the smile in Casey’s voice, even though she was out of sight in the kitchen. He remembered that smile. He remembered her movie nights. She was getting ready for Steve.

“You’re making popcorn?” He knew she was. He knew she always did when she watched movies on a date.

“Uh-huh.”

“I only eat popcorn at the movies.” Let’s talk about movies, Casey.

“Well, I’m getting ready to watch a video.”

I know you are. “Really? What?”

“Oh. Just some scary movie.”

You used to watch scary movies with me. “You like scary movies?”

“Uh-huh.”

“What’s your favorite scary movie?” Stu held his breath.

Yes, read the script, Billy thought as he released a calmer breath.

“Uh, I don’t know,” Casey said.

“You have to have a favorite. What comes to mind?” Stu asked. I showed you so many.

“Umm…Halloween.”

Stu smiled and leaned his head against the tree. He thought of watching Halloween with Casey, kissing down her flesh as Michael Myers executed teenagers. His excitement surged, and he breathed slow to calm himself.

“You know the one guy in the white mask that walks around and stalks babysitters,” Casey continued.

Stu knew the one. “Yeah.”

“What’s yours?”

“Guess.”

Tonight. Tonight was Stu’s favorite scary movie.

“Um… Nightmare on Elm Street,” Casey said.

“Is that the one with the guy that has knives for fingers?”

“Yeah, Freddy Kruger.”

“Freddy, that’s right.” Stu rolled his eyes. Everyone knew Freddy. “I like that movie. It was scary.”

Casey reappeared in the window as she moved from the kitchen back toward the living room. She held a stack of VHS tapes in her hands. Stu traced her with his eyes, feeling his heart hammer in his chest. His hands trembled around the devices, anxious for action.

“The first one was, but the rest sucked,” Casey continued.

“So, you got a boyfriend?” Or do you care about Steve as much as you cared about me?

“Why? You want to ask me out on a date?”

Stu watched Casey walk to the television and stack the tapes on top. He saw her flirtatious head tilt, the way her hip cocked and nearly lost himself to a flashback. She clearly cared for Steve just as much as she had cared for him.

“Maybe,” Stu said, gritting his teeth. “So, do you have a boyfriend?”

“Mmmm, no.”

“You never told me your name,” Stu pressed.

“Why do you want to know my name?”

“So I know who I am looking at.” Stu held his breath again.

Casey froze. Her head snapped up, and she looked away from the window. Stu saw the words impact her brain, and his body trembled at the resonance.

Billy peered over the plants to see her body go rigid. As planned. He smiled under the mask.

“What did you say?” Casey hesitated.

You heard me, bitch. “I want to know who I’m talking to.” Stu could scarcely stifle a giggle.

“That’s not what you said.”

Casey moved close to the patio doors and reached for the light switch. Light flashed and washed over the patio, over the spot where they had wrestled and taped Steve. Stu glanced at the edge of the light from his shadows, saw Steve and Billy still tucked out of sight. Casey’s eyes swept the pool, her face docile and oblivious. Then she flipped the lights back off.

“What do you think I said?”

“What? Hello?” Don’t give up yet, Casey. I’m not done yet. We haven’t got to play yet.

“Look, I got to go.” Casey’s voice changed, lost its melody and flirtation.

“Wait. I thought we were going to go out?”

“Uh no. I don’t think so.” Casey’s fingers fumbled down to lock the patio doors, fear contorting her features.

Stu saw her move to lower the phone. “Don’t hang up on me!”

The phone died in Stu’s ear, and Casey turned back toward the kitchen. Billy sprang up. Stu hesitated to see the ghostly face in the night. Then Billy waved him over with a firm hand. Sprinting over the grass, Stu grabbed one side of the chair. Steve grunted and struggled again as they swiveled him back into position between the pool and the house.

“Here,” Billy commanded from beneath the mask. “He has to be right in the middle when she looks out that window.”

With the chair in place, Stu redialed the phone. As it rang, Stu returned to his tree, and Billy moved around the perimeter of the house.

The itching returned to Billy’s palms as he moved around the side of the house. He looked to the empty rope swing hanging eerily from the massive tree in the front yard and the empty gravel driveway. The quiet, manicured, landscaped front yard only made Billy’s nerves writhe more furious beneath his skin. Billy crouched beside the front porch and waited.

“Yes?” Casey’s tone had changed. Stu remembered this clipped tone from when she dumped him.

“I told you not to hang up on me.” Stu felt his resentment tangle with his excitement.

“What do you want?”

“To talk.” To fucking kill you.

“Well, dial someone else. Okay?”

The call died in Stu’s ear, but he grinned. He crept around the house to glimpse Casey in the kitchen. Smoke bloomed from the roasting popcorn. Casey lifted it, and Stu pressed Call. Dropping the popcorn, she snatched the phone to her ear.

“Listen, asshole,” she snapped.

“No, you listen, you little bitch! You hang up on me again, I’ll gut you like a fish. You understand?” Stu released an unmitigated laugh, and it sounded maniacal through the voice changer. The words were liberating, flowing out of him unfiltered. “Yeah.”

“Is this some kind of joke?”

Stu could hear Casey was crying now, and that only spurred him on. “More of a game, really. Can you handle that? Blondie?”

Casey sprinted from the kitchen, and Stu shadowed her as she ran down the hall checking locks. His heart pounded with glee and excitement as he moved. He rounded to the front and saw the top of her head peer from the glass at the top of the front door.

“Can you see me?” he mocked from the darkness.

“Listen, I am two seconds away from calling the police.” She was using a strong voice, but Stu heard her weakness, wanted to feed on it.

“They’d never make it in time were in the middle of nowhere,” he pressed.

“What do you want?” she sobbed harder.

“To see what your insides look like.” The words tasted so sweet Stu could not help but lick the air and the lips of his smile.

Billy stood and stepped up on the edge of the porch. He nodded his ghost face at Stu as he crouched down and moved to the front door. He rang the doorbell twice in a friendly way a boyfriend would. Then he slipped off the porch and back around the house.

“Who’s there? Who’s there? I’m calling the police!” They heard Casey say.

Stu immediately pressed the Call button.

“You should never say, ‘Who’s there?’ Don’t you watch scary movies? It’s a death wish. You might as well come out and investigate a strange noise or something.” He wanted to laugh but chewed it back as he hurried back around by the pool.

“Look, you’ve had your fun now. So, I think you better just leave or else.”

“Or else what?” Stu choked back more giggles. This was too much fun.

Peering through the patio door windows again, Stu watched Casey move back into the living room. She hunched over and clutched her stomach. When she turned her face, he could see the tears streaming down her pink cheeks. She looked even more beautiful to Stu now.

“Or else my boyfriend will be here any second, and he’ll be pissed when he finds out.”

Billy stood beside Stu. They both glanced over at Steve, bloodied and bound to the pool chair, and chuckled silently. Stu reached over to give Billy a gentle nudge.

“I thought you didn’t have a boyfriend?” he mocked.

“I lied, I do have a boyfriend, and he’ll be here any second. So, your ass better be gone.” She was reaching. Stu could see her body language wilting under her fear. She held her stomach tighter now.

“Sure.”

“I swear.” Casey stood and went rigid. “He’s big, and he plays football, and he’ll kick the shit out of you!” She shouted until she craned forward.

“I’m getting scared. I am shaking in my boots.” Stu let the sarcasm drip from his words.

“So, you just better leave.”

“His name wouldn’t be Steve, would it?” Stu glanced over at Steve again. Steve caught his eye, and Stu offered a mocking chin lift.

“How do you know his name?”

“Turn on the patio lights. Again.” Stu knew she would not be able to resist. He knew she believed him now, that she knew he could see her.

Casey pressed up against the glass. She reached out, and light washed over Steve. At the sight of her, he struggled futile against his restraints again.

“Oh god!” Casey shrieked. Stu could hear her through the phone and the glass in a terribly wonderful symphony.

Billy’s breath caught in his throat at her face. That was the look; that was the fear. All his anxiety settled. It no longer mattered who was on the phone, who was holding the knife. That was what he came here to see.

Casey immediately reached down and loosed the lock, opening the door to rush to Steve.

“I wouldn’t do that if I was you!” Stu snapped in his anger, anger at her willingness to run out to a killer for Steve.

Casey pulled the door closed and turned the lock again. Tears poured down her face as her free hand teased at the glass.

“Where are you?” she cried.

“Guess.”

“Don’t hurt him.”

Too late. “That all depends on you.”

“Why are you doing this?” Casey continued to cry and twitch her fingers at the window.

“I want to play a game.” I want to make you pay.

“No.”

“Then he dies right now.”

“No! No!” Casey wailed, her face contorting.

“Which is it?” Stu asked and waited for her reply. Casey continued to stare at Steve. “Which is it?” he asked again, leaning into the words.

“Wh-what kind of a game?” she stammered.

Stu smiled, grim and pleased. “Turn off the lights. You’ll see what kind of game.” Casey hesitated, and Stu shouted, “just do it!”

The lights extinguished again, drowning Steve in the darkness and his muffled protests. Casey pressed her forehead to the glass before sliding down the wall and crawling backward behind the television. Stu grinned in victory and moved closer to the house.

“Here’s how to play,” Stu started. “I ask you a question. If you get it right, Steve lives.”

“Please, don’t do this.” Casey’s voice folded under her cries again. The room got darker when she unplugged the small light on top of the television.

“Come on, it’ll be fun!” It already was fun.

“Please.”

“It’s an easy category.”

“Please.”

“Movie trivia.” Stu could barely contain his excitement, knowing how terrible Casey would be at movie trivia, not that it mattered if she got the questions right or not.

“I’ll give you a warm-up question.”

“Don’t do this. I can’t.”

“Name the killer in Halloween.” Stu recited from Billy’s list of questions, selecting from his shared past with Casey.

“No.”

“Come on,” Stu coaxed. “It’s your favorite scary movie, remember? He had a white mask, and he stalked babysitters.”

“I don’t know.”

“Come on. Yes, you do.” You came looking at his mask.

“No, please, “Casey whimpered.

“What’s his name?”

“I can’t think.”

“Steve’s counting on you.” Stu looked to Steve again, still wasting his time battling tape.

“Michael. Michael Myers.” Casey’s voice turned resolute.

“Yes! Very good. Now for the real question.”

“No!” Casey lifted her head as the tears returned to her voice.

“But you’re doing so well,” Stu mocked. “We can’t just stop now.”

“Please, stop! Leave us alone.”

“Then answer the question. Same category.”

“Oh, please stop.”

“Name the killer in Friday the 13th?” Stu selected another of Billy’s approved questions. The trick question.

Casey’s head appeared in the window above the television. She bounced on her feet, excited.

“Jason! Jason! Jason!” she shouted.

Stu licked his lips in glee. “I’m sorry. That’s the wrong answer.”

“No, it’s not! No, it’s not! It’s Jason!” Casey stomped forward in front of the larger window, giving Stu a clearer vision of her angry face.

“Afraid not,” he pushed. “No way.”

“Listen, it was Jason.” Casey’s face hardened. “I saw that movie 20 goddamn times!”

“Then you should know that the original killer was Jason’s mother, Mrs. Voorhies. Jason didn’t show up till the sequel. I’m afraid that was the wrong answer.”

Stu relished watching her face fall, glorying in her disappointment and frustration.

“You tricked me,” Casey said, defeated.

“Lucky for you, there is a bonus round. But, poor Steve, I am afraid he’s out!”

At the cue, Billy pulled the knife from his sleeve. His heart pounded in a calm and purposeful rhythm as he took long strides toward Steve. He braced himself as he slashed across Steve’s stomach. Steve howled against the tape. Billy swiftly stuffed his hand into the open wound, feeling the warmth and the wet, and yanked out a fistful of intestines before riding the thrill into the shadows and around the house.

Casey appeared at the patio doors, and the lights switched on, illuminating the carnage. Steve’s eyelids fluttered as his head tipped back before he went limp in the chair. Stu drank in Casey’s horrified expression as she slid down the glass and retreated across her floor to tuck herself behind her television. Stu could not contain his laughter.

“Hey, we’re not finished yet,” Stu called. “Final question. Are you ready?”

“Please, please, leave me alone,” Casey begged.

“Answer the question, and I will,” Stu lied, greedy for her pain. “What door am I at?” He spoke slow and annunciated.

Casey’s head appeared above the television again as she looked around, confused. “What?”

“There are two main doors to your house, the front door and the patio door. Very simple,” Stu explained.

“I can’t do this. I can’t. I won’t.”

“Your call.”

Stu disconnected the call and pocketed the devices. He pulled the mask over his face. The plastic pressed against his grin, and his hot breath immediately filled the space. He grasped an empty chair and heaved it toward the house, sending it crashing through the patio doors he had been gazing through all night.

With the smashing of the back window, Billy punched a side window and slipped through the broken frame. Even through the mask, he could see the smoke thick in the house from the kitchen. He pressed against the wall. Casey’s footsteps pounded through the house as she sprinted. Billy’s fingers tingled with excitement as he clutched the knife and ran across the hall, searching for her.

Outside, Stu traced the edge of the house. As he rounded the corner, he glimpsed Casey slinking out of the side kitchen door. She pulled the door closed behind her, quiet and cautious, pressing her back tight against the house. The phone lingered in one hand as she clung to a knife in the other. He left her there and took the opportunity to slip through the destroyed patio door.

As Billy moved into the kitchen, the heat from the flames on the stove pressed at him through his costume. He pushed through the smoke, circling around the island in the empty room. Still no Casey and she could not have gone far. Not with Stu out back.

Billy crossed the kitchen and stood near the window. He allowed his eyes to trace the room then snapped his head to the window. He nearly startled to find Casey’s face on the other side of the glass. Casey screamed loud. His heart seized, but he punched his hand through the glass to snatch her wrist below her weapon. Casey continued shrieking as he bashed his head through the window toward her.

He felt the control at holding her wrist, tugging her closer, moving to pull himself through the window. Then the phone smashed into his face. The plastic of the mask plowed into his nose, and the world went bright then blurry. Billy toppled back onto the hardwood floor in a disoriented heap.

Casey’s shrieks and the sound of breaking glass stabbed through Stu’s hood. He tilted the ghastly face to see her dart from the side of the house onto the patio. She hesitated in front of the broken doors and Steve’s disemboweled corpse.

Guess he’s not better than me now, Stu mused as he grinned beneath the mask.

He kept pace with Casey from within the house, and when she rounded the corner, he threw himself through the small window. Launching his arms in front of him, he wrapped around her and snagged her shoulders. She tugged and struggled against his grip, but he turned her into him, wrapped under his arm as they used to walk together. Then he plunged his knife into her chest.

Casey crumpled from under his arm, tumbling back into the damp grass. Her hands flew to her spilling wound as whimpers poured from her quivering lips. Stu stood stunned over her for a second, absorbing the sight of the vitality flowing from her cut. As he straddled her, a strange blend of panic and elation surged through him. It had been so long since he had been this close to her, been on top of her. He had never been in control of her like this. She never did what he wanted like she was about to.

Casey threw up her arms to resist him, but the moment dissolved into a blur. Stu reached through the haze of her movements and her cries to seize her neck and stab the blade through the side of her throat. In a coughing gag and sputter of blood, Casey went silent. Stu stopped breathing to marvel at his own work.

Billy would be so proud.

The pain exploded through Stu’s body. His vision went red as his stomach curled into itself. Casey had thrust her knee up into his testicles, and he nearly vomited into the mask. Stu folded helpless into the ache. With a shove from Casey, he sprawled onto his back and wallowed in the blow. He could hear Casey scramble to her feet and move across the lawn as he waited for the waves to pass.

The headlights of Casey’s parent’s car swept over the lawn as it approached. Then the tires rumbled over the gravel before pulling to a halt. The car doors shut before parental chatter drifted in their direction. Casey staggered toward them, toward help. Stu dragged himself to his feet as he watched Casey extend her hand and cry out of a muted throat.

He approached her from behind, knowing they couldn’t hear her, knowing she wouldn’t make it to them. When he reached her, he flipped her to her back with little effort. With all the blood loss, she flopped to the boards of the porch. Stu positioned himself to finish her, and Casey raised a bloody and shaking hand. Her fingertips pressed into his face as she gripped the mask and pulled it from his face.

She looked up and saw Stu’s face, recognition breaking over her features. She did not even look that surprised. He was glad she knew it was him. He raised the blade high and stabbed until she stopped breathing.

The smoke detector chirped, and Casey’s parents called her name as Billy jogged around the side of the house, the bag bouncing at his side. When he reached Stu, Stu had already tugged Casey’s body off the porch. Billy could tell she was dead. She had that Maureen look. He cracked his neck to ignore the jealousy at missing that final flash of fear and control.

This was Stu’s turn. This was cementing Stu’s role.

Billy stared aghast at Stu’s exposed face.

“Put your fucking mask back on,” Billy barked.

“She pulled it off,” Stu said. “I was a little busy.”

“What if her parents came out here?”

“What are we going to do with her?”

Billy turned his ghost face from side to side, surveying the yard. When his eyes settled on the tree swing, he grinned beneath the mask. He bent down to seize one of Casey’s wrists and helped Stu drag her across the grass.

“Open her up,” Billy commanded as they reached the swing.

“What?” Stu asked.

“Open her up. Intestines spilling out just like Steve.”

Stu hesitated, his blank ghost face tilted up at Billy.

“You started it,” Billy clipped. “Now, finish it.”

Billy turned to the swing and swiftly sawed through each rope. The voices in the house grew louder, more frantic.

“Hurry,” Billy hissed. “We have to get her up before they get out here.”

Stu gagged and pressed the back of his hand to the mask. Then he staggered back to standing.

“She’s open, man,” Stu said, voice wavering.

“Get her up here then.”

Stu’s blank mask whirled up to Billy again, tilted in outrage. Yet without a word, he slipped his hands under Casey’s armpits and heaved her up. The two worked awkwardly with the floppy corpse until Casey hung suspended from the tree. Her intestines tumbled from her stomach to pile on the grass below, just as Billy had wanted.

Billy stared for a long moment before slapping Stu in the stomach and shouldering the bag. The two hustled into the dark field, disappearing between the leaves as Casey’s mom’s scream shattered the night.

Continued on… Father Death (9)

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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