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It had been six weeks since Analise Dickinson had vanished and countless searches had heralded no clues as to her whereabouts. Police had continuously drawn a blank and been left no sign of a struggle or the slightest clue as to what happened that night. It was as though she had simply disappeared and her parents had been in mourning since being told that there was nothing else that could be done at this juncture. The story had gone national; bright, promising and beautiful, all three boxes were ticked making this a fashionable enough headline to capture people’s interest but a lack of any forthcoming details had left officials stumped and other more topical news had taken presidency.
The small rural town of Bexley had been turned upside down by recent developments and the amount of media coverage it had encouraged had brought numerous nationwide news crews in to report on the events of that night. Things were just starting to return to normal once more although strict nightly curfews had been imposed as the paranoid townsfolk weren’t taking any chances. Ordinarily there was nothing unique about this place, short of spawning a couple of bright NBA prospects, there was very little reason for folk to pass through. Several clicks from the beaten track and almost 6km from the nearest adjoining community, it was already considered something of a ghost town but right now was eerily silent.
The population was 757, hardly what you would call bustling and, at this point, most of them were tucked up inside their havens for the night with only the odd dog walker or inebriated old-timer to punctuate the quietude. “Happy birthday sweetheart” Brad raised his bottle of Becks in honor of his missing girlfriend. “She’ll turn up buddy” was his best buddy Norton’s response. “It just doesn’t feel right. I can still see her face you know? Clear as crystal, as if she were standing in front of us”. Norton considered himself to be a staunch ally and had remained upbeat throughout the past few weeks, even though he no longer shared his friend’s enthusiasm.
“Listen brother. She’ll be back soon enough but right now there’s nothing we can do. If she were here now you know what she’d say right?” Brad pondered momentarily and a wry smile began to stretch across his face “Yeah she’d tell me to chin the fuck up and start the party”. Whilst this should have been of consolation to the lad, it just served to remind him how resplendent she looked when she meant business. Norton could tell by his glazed eyes that he was having another one of his ‘moments’.
The pair had been together since eighth grade and were genuinely besotted with one another, so much so that it made Norton wretch a little. Maybe it was the fact that girls always gravitated towards Brad and he was merely the guy they’d tell their deep dark secrets. They’d pinch his cheeks and he was a one-man snuggle magnet but still a virgin and that wasn’t looking likely to change anytime soon. Not that he minded, he still got to cop a feel from time to time and, besides, he only had eyes for Belinda. He would play the patient game for as long as it took for her to have her heart obliterated by some total douche and, when that happened, Norton’s would be the shoulder she cried on and that was enough for him.
“What about if I were to say it with a pout?” he tried his best to lift his friend’s spirits as was his specialty. “That’d just be scary” Brad interjected, leaving his sombre place for a moment to join in. “Start the party boys” he placed one hand on his hip and camped it up, spotting his opportunity to lift him from his doldrums. “and you wonder why you get less than zero pussy” he teased. “Honey. You don’t know what I be getting. Let me tell you this” Norton leaned in closer than Brad would normally allow and whispered into his lobe “I get just plenty. Matter of fact…I’ve got one in me right now”.
“You are one sick puppy my friend” Brad stated the obvious, humoring Norton as he appreciated how hard he was trying to raise a smile and wasn’t ready to hear his rendition of I Am What I Am. “I’m ready. Let’s go back over”. This pleased his friend greatly “Okay sugarplum”. The pair returned to the kitchen, where Eden and Belinda were already knocking back the absinthe shots. “You know that shit is 90% proof right?” blurted Norton, always the statist. “Look at us. We’re Amazonian. We can handle our liquor” was Eden swift but slurred response.
“You’re already wasted, look at you” remarked Belinda whose sobriety was just as much in question. She prodded Eden who appeared less than resolute in her posture and likely to keel over at any given moment. “This is your chance” Brad whispered to Norton, to which he received back a mouthed fuck you. “You’re playing catch up boys” she stated. “Line me one up then” Norton was the most eager beaver in the warren and sat on the kitchen stool, rolled up his sleeves and prepared to get a bit messy. Belinda willingly took on the role of bartender although most of the spirit ended up on the worktop. “Here” she slid the tumbler over to him and, by the time it reached him it was barely half filled “Get that down your Gregory Peck”.
Brad sidestepped Eden, who was leaning precariously and clearly intoxicated, and strolled through to the lounge where the remainder of the group were huddled watching the horror channel. “Spot on timing. Galaxy of Terror is on in twenty” Vincent called out to Brad as he entered and slouched on an armchair in the corner with his beverage. “How many times have you actually seen that film?” Brad asked. “Seventeen in total. But I’ve watched that space maggot bang Dameia’s barn doors in maybe a hundred times”.
“That’s right. He uses it as sex ed” joked Edgar, who was sprawled out over the prime spot and encroaching on his bosom buddy’s personal space. The two were inseparable, Charles had been a lifelong horror aficionado and Edgar dug that shit too. Edgar’s parents were huge fans of Poe and named him accordingly whereas Vince’s had simply liked the name although he swore he was the reincarnation of Vincent Price. It was rare that you would see one without the other and the topic of conversation always reverted back to horror.
“If I had a space maggot that’s exactly what I’d be doing with it” Vincent proclaimed, to which “Instead you’ve just got a regular maggot” was his comrade’s lightning quick retort. “That’s not what your mother said when I was backing her up with my xenomorph jism”. Always the mom jokes, Edgar had to think on his feet in order to deflect the putdown. “That was my grandma bitch” was suitably vile. The pair mocked their skirmish and Brad looked on grinning. Beneath his thin jovial veil he was hurting bad and couldn’t shake Ana from his thoughts.
“Whatcha watching?” inquired Eden who had also made her way in from the kitchen although quite how she made it was anyone’s guess. “Is it porn?” Brad just shrugged and stared back into the neck of his beer bottle while the grappling pair called time on their playful melee and shuffled aside to accommodate the new arrival. “It could be if you keep knocking that paint thinner back” Vince remarked hopefully. “Nah, you’re not looking any more attractive I’m afraid. Just a little fuzzier round the edges” she replied, bursting any faint bubble of aspiration.
She plonked herself between them and looked over at Brad. He was barely even there, despite his facade and her excessive drinking it was clear to her that he was suffering. “I miss her too” she said, remarkably sober for a second. “I just feel in perpetual limbo Eden” he replied. “I know it’s shitty but she’ll be back” she stated. “She’ll be back. She’ll be back. That’s all everyone keeps saying to me” He sat upright in his seat “She’ll be back like she’s fucking Benji. Back from what? From where is she suddenly going to magically reappear?” He stopped himself, fully aware that he was being an asshole and mindful that it was hard to know what to say to him at this point.
The room fell reticent for a moment before Edgar piped up to buck the lull. “You fancy watching some vintage Robert Englund with us Eden?” he asked. “I know that guy. He’s the one with the fingers right?” was her mumbled response. “Er…yeah he’s got ten of them” Vince quipped. “You know what I mean. He’s got the…the thingies. The claws” she mocked up her finest animated hand puppet. “Steel blades my dear. Four on each hand” he informed before Edgar attempted to enlighten her further “although in the remake they included a fifth talon”. Brad just looked at Eden who was already lost and muttered “and you wonder why I’m depressed”.
Brad had the house for the entire weekend as his father was away on business and his mother had died when he was seven. It wasn’t unusual for him to have the place to himself and he was more mature than most so his pops trusted him to be the man of the house in his absence. He had no brothers and his younger sister Amelia generally kept herself to herself so this was a regular occurrence. He hadn’t wanted to be alone on Analise’s birthday and knew she would have been twisting his arm to have a gathering so it just seemed right that they should celebrate her day for her. In fact, Analise was much closer in proximity than any of them realized and, even more dishearteningly, so was her aggressor.
Truly, Really, Clearly, Sincerely,
Keeper of the Crimson Quill
Copyright: Crimson Quill: Savage Vault Enterprises 2014