Suggested Audio Candy:
 Japan “Ghosts”
 Colonel Abrams “Trapped”
“What the fuck was that?” said Sabrina, her friend’s blood curdling scream still ringing in her ears. Nobody seemed to have an answer, until Mandy stepped in to lighten the mood some “Maybe she found a pube on the toilet seat”. This started a disgruntled Isabelle off once more “Well it must be yours then as that thicket ain’t ever seen a strimmer”. Mandy had never been one for letting somebody else have the last laugh at her expense and shrugged off the insult “I’m bringing the seventies back. At least I can grow some you bald beavered bitch”. Sabrina intervened again, hushing the sparring friends as she listened out for any further audio. Nothing, it had fallen eerily silent upstairs. “Do you think we should go check it out” Betsy Jane quizzed “she might be in trouble up there”. The four looked at each other blankly, none willing to make the first move until Mandy broke the silence.
“This ain’t over Izzy” she remarked before turning around and setting off to investigate. The others followed in quick succession, ordinarily Sabrina would be looking to take the lead but something about the shriek left a distinctly unsavory tang in the air and she was happy to play co-pilot on this occasion. Isabelle was reluctant to follow and still straightening her pajamas after her excruciating expedition. However, right now the proposition of being alone was not worth entertaining so she grabbed Betsy Jane’s hand and followed the procession. “What are we going to do if something has happened to her?” she asked Mandy, who swiftly replied “Do I look like Laurie fucking Strode? I’d say run screaming would be a fairly astute plan at that point wouldn’t you?” They remained huddled as they approached the bottom of the stairwell. Any differences had now been set aside, at least for the time being. By tomorrow it would all be forgotten anyhow, hangovers will have set in, and fake friendships resumed.
“I don’t think we should go up there” said Sabrina. Mandy wasn’t having any of it. “Are you man or mouse?” she posed. “Neither and I ain’t no pussy either. I’m a sixteen year old girl who knows her way around a lingerie party but not the business end of a machete.” This had Mandy shaking her head and she muttered so melodramatic” under her breath distinctly enough to make her point with clarity. “Hold on” Sabrina tugged at Mandy’s pajama top “Lauren? Lauren are you alright hun?” she called. Mandy rolled her eyes and they all hung on for a rejoinder but nothing was forthcoming. They reconvened on the staircase, slowly shuffling to the summit although none of them were relishing what lay in wait at the top. As they reached the halfway step a soft whisper came to greet them. “Quick come up here. Come on” It was Lauren, a fact that relieved all four of them as, at least, she had come to no harm.
Mandy turned to the others and offered her acidic rejoinder “See. Melodramatic. At least Izzy had the balls to run down the garden in the buff. What’s your excuse Sabrina?” desperate to save face, she hustled past her antagonist and led the way to the bathroom, from where Lauren’s voice had emanated. The others picked up the pace. When they arrived they were faced with an apparently empty room. “I’m here” came the voice again, this time pinpointed as coming from behind the drawn shower curtain. Sabrina hesitantly strode forward, grasping the plastic sheet and preparing herself for a sight too hideous to imagine. She cursed watching horror movies, they had taught her many things, one of which being that an ethereal voice combined with a slow-motion reveal was only ever the recipe for disaster. After a full ten seconds of procrastination, during which time they would have heard a pin drop in the pantry, she whipped open the drape.
Lauren was indeed there, huddled down one end of the bathtub, very much alive but looking as though she had seen a ghost. “There’s someone else here” she whispered “before any of you say a word, I didn’t just imagine it.” They all sighed a collective relief but the new Intel wasn’t the most encouraging, especially with the witching hour looming. “What did you see?” Betsy Jane asked. “I had just finished my pee and was mid-wipe with my panties round my knees and legs akimbo.” Isabelle saw the funny side. “Dignified” she remarked, to which Mandy couldn’t resist a sly dig “Yeah because you’ve still got your dignity”. The shaken girl continued “there was somebody standing in the hallway looking right at me.” Any humor in the air instantly dissipated and a universal look of concern returned to all their faces. “I couldn’t make out his face but he was holding a knife” she burst into tears before she could finish the sentence and Sabrina hugged her and pulled her back to her feet. “Let’s get her out of here. Mandy, you’ve got your mobile, call the police.”
Lauren climbed out and they turned around to leave the room. Isabelle was stood at the doorway and was the last to realize that the figure had returned and was bounding toward her with furious intent. Before she could scream her aggressor raised the serrated blade to her throat and slid it from left to right in one assured motion. As she span around to face the horrified onlookers her throat began to part, revealing first off-white muscle, then gushing claret. Grabbing the girl crudely by her scalp, the assailant brought his tainted weapon into play a second time, carving the same frayed arteries and causing spurts of warm blood which painted Mandy pretty much from head to toes. Isabelle was gargling as the life drained out through her fresh orifice, air bubbles forming around the abrasion and eyes rolling back in her head like lucky sevens on a one-armed bandit. Her only hope now was to become a posthumous YouTube sensation for her earlier streak. Turned out things could get worse.
Her killer, whom the group had now realized was concealed behind a leather gimp’s mask, hoisted her body away before it had chance to fall limp and the remaining girls bolted for the open doorway. He continued to cut through the gristle on the top stair, blocking their only available escape path and they bundled out in disorderly fashion, screaming at the very top of their lungs the whole way. Three of them managed to pass by the scene but Mandy wasn’t so fortunate. An opportunist lunge as she attempted to get around Betsy Jane proved costly and he rammed the same blade into the back of her calf. Lauren and Sabrina were already at their destination, the box room at the far end of the banister, while Betsy Jane thought better of leaving her friend and began tugging at her shoulders, dragging her towards the master bedroom. Still holding Isabelle’s limber cadaver in one hand, the masked madman held onto the blade, pulling it against the grain until it separated her Achilles tendon.
Eventually, using the strength in her other leg and any adrenaline still in circulation, Mandy broke free. She daren’t look at her injury as the searing sting suggested she wouldn’t be returning to Street Dance lessons any time fast. Coughing up blood, she frantically screamed “Get me out of here” and Betsy Jane did as she instructed, fumbling with the room’s flimsy locking mechanism and giving them temporary respite. Outside, the shrouded figure returned to his handiwork, placing the grue-sodden blade back into the open fissure and reconvening his carvery. After sufficient wrangling, Isabelle’s head came free in his hand and he held it above him like a savage trophy before hurling it down the stairs. As it bounced down the last two steps and landed in Sabrina’s cat Jezebel’s litter tray, he returned his attention to the girl’s headless carcass, in particular, her jaggedly exposed windpipe. There was just enough space in his gimp attire to slide his tongue through, and he did, running it around the bloodied stump as any remaining fluid jettisoned round him. He then disposed of her body the same way.
The shock had already set in with Mandy and she was barely conscious so Betsy Jane leaned her against the closet and begun sliding the queen sized bed toward the door to buy them more time. She could hear the other two girls hollering from down the way but it all sounded eerily quiet outside. The box room had no lock but Lauren and Sabrina had moved a chest of draws across to pen themselves in. Lauren was inconsolable after what she had just witnessed and Sabrina was the last person to be calming her down. “Oh my God. Did you see what he did to Izzy?” she sobbed. “What are we going to do? What are we going to do?” Lauren pleaded. “I think he got Mandy too. What happens if they’re dead too?” she continued. Both were courting one another’s madness, the two brains of the operation were clearly not behind door number two. Still, complete silence, no indication that the attacks were going to continue.
In Mr & Mrs Whittaker’s room, Betsy Jane was one step ahead of the game and already dialing 911 from Mandy’s cell. Unfortunately, Mandy had unwisely negated to dock her phone before coming out and that two minute teaser earlier had sapped virtually every wave of life from her flickering last bar. There was just enough time to get connected but not enough remaining for her to state the service she required. Silence once more, apart from Mandy’s labored groans as she continued to bleed out in the corner. Again, Betsy Jane thought on her feet and grabbed a towel from the linen cupboard, strapping it tight around what was left of the girl’s ankle. As she did, she clocked a pull-down ladder to the side which looked like it led to an attic of sorts. Marking the location in her head, she focused her attention on saving Mandy. She wasn’t going anywhere fast, if push came to shove then she would have to leave her as she would wind up dead for her good deed and that didn’t fit her social calendar.
The shuffling outside had returned now and was followed by a feline wail as Jezebel discovered that the pool on the top step wasn’t, in fact, milk. The killer bayoneted her with his blade, picking her twitching body off the ground and relocating it against the wall. He twisted it counter-clockwise until the convulsing subsided, tilted his head to one side in sick fascination, and grabbed the blade handle again, this time removing it with swiftness and finesse, and watching the kitten slide to the floor in a tattered heap. Obviously deciding that the poor cat hadn’t been through enough of a torrid time, he placed the heel of his black boot on the creature’s skull and stomped it into tacky pulp beneath his foot. Not a cat lover it would appear. Lauren and Sabrina were sickened by the squelch and the former had filled her waste paper basket with a crude mixture of jelly, marshmallow and vodka seasoned with popping candy. Sabrina’s stomach lining was more secure but, alas, the same couldn’t be said for her rapidly seeping bladder and fully excavated bowel. Her silk pajamas were shocking pink. Not any more they weren’t.
Lauren was still shaken from her projectile sickness but managed to amass the energy and resolve to head for the window. Being the smallest room in the house meant also having the most pathetic glazing. Only a small segment was accessible and she forced it open, screaming above the top of her lungs for someone to help them quick. Being Halloween night, twelve midnight on the button to be precise, others in the vicinity had also decided to make themselves heard. A procession marched in the street, clutching pots and pans which they commenced to clang, offset by the sound of Monster Mash coming from next door’s living room. She even got a salute from one impressed reveler for best authentic scream but nobody other than that batted an eyelid. Neither had a cell in their possession, that was the downside of choosing a jammy party.
Neither girl had an inkling that they were being handed a temporary reprieve as all of the killer’s attention was honed in on the other door. Easy pickings first, he knew he had left a scar and his most pressing concern was finishing his work as any true artist does. He’d also evidently watched his fair share of slasher flicks as he was contented just to stand before the obstruction and enjoy the moment for a minute. It needed to marinade, that last dispatch had been one of his finest to date and alas hadn’t been witnessed fully by anyone, bar the cat of course but she weren’t about to congratulate him on his ingenuity. Inside, Mandy had gotten a second wind but did not have enough in the tank to make it to the ladder. “Don’t you leave me” she insisted. Betsy Jane wasn’t about to be talked round, when do or die you do, that was her mother’s advice and she fully intended on taking it. Time was of the essence now as they had kept their host waiting long enough and his patience had finally run out.
Truly, Clearly, Really, Sincerely,
Keeper of the Crimson Quill
Copyright: Crimson Quill: Savage Vault Enterprises 2014