Posts Tagged ‘Fiction’

October 27th, 1999. Plainfield Wisconsin

“No, no, please God help me!” The voice of a young Ozzy Osbourne bellowed over the speakers on the Black Sabbath track that Franklin selected for this room in the Hell House, the local Church’s Halloween attraction designed to scare patrons into accepting Jesus. Franklin’s skull mask clung tightly to his face as he screamed and made monstrous sounds to the teenagers, some of whom fled in tears. Ghastly imagery of skulls and death adorned his section of this controversial haunted house. He was disappointed the whole attraction was not horror such as this. The Hell House had different rooms the patrons went into which recreated real world scenarios. A man who marries another man ends up dying of AIDS, a young girl gets raped at a party then kills herself, a single mother dies from an abortion. Franklin almost volunteered to do the school shooting simulation, but he managed to talk to the pastor into letting him design the Devil’s lair. Franklin took pride in this little slice of hell he made for himself. He was surprised they let him play Black Sabbath music, but then it occurred to Franklin, the organizers probably didn’t know what Sabbath sounded like.

“I told you I wasn’t gonna like this.” Franklin heard a familiar voice say as a new group of teenagers walked in.

“You knew who was hosting this, what did you think you were going to see?” Ben argued with his girlfriend Lindsey as he followed from behind. Franklin’s heart raced as he saw them both. Rumor around school was everyone’s favorite couple was on the rocks, and now Franklin was seeing it with his own eyes which watched from the skull mask.

“You know we gave these assholes are money for them to spread this shit! Gays are going to hell, single mothers. That girl that got raped, really?” Personally, Franklin enjoyed the skit about the girl who went to a rave and got drugged and raped and then committed suicide. Of course the rapists weren’t portrayed as going to hell.

Otherwise, Franklin was indifferent to the issues Lindsey raised, he was just happy for the chance to scare people, but now he was ignoring the other teenagers who walked by. Some stopped to admire his mask; others ignored him. Franklin didn’t notice them either, as his gaze remained fixed on Lindsey.

“Hey asshole aren’t you supposed to scare us or something?” Franklin turned to see the face of his classmate Ken standing before him.

“Fuck off.” Franklin answered back. His gaze remained on the young couple, who quickly exited the exhibit, not stopping to see the room he worked so hard on.

“Wait, is that you Franklin?” Ken said in surprise, recognizing his classmate’s voice. Looking over his outfit he said “You know that’s actually a cool costume. I dig it.”

“Dig this, asshole.” Franklin gave his classmate the middle finger.

“Come on man, we came here to get scared.”

“Tupac sucks cocks in hell motherfucker!” Franklin shouted as he leaned forward, thrusting his skull mask into Ken’s face.

“Hey fuck off man, what’s your problem?” Ken pushed Franklin away in protest. Franklin pushed him back, shouting and commotion followed.

Soon the minister hosting the event came in. “Hey that’s enough!” Focusing on Ken and his friends, the minister said ‘You guys get out of here, I’ll handle this.”

The others stormed out. “I already told you about your language,” the minister said to Ken, “and now your starting fights?”

“They started it.”

“That’s enough of this, get out of here.”

“But this is still open for another hour?”

“I said get out of here, you’re done!”

Franklin thought to himself it was probably a good thing he got to leave that stupid Church thing early, as today was a day he’d long waited for. Halloween H2K was being released on DVD today. From the Church, Franklin walked to Worden’s hardware store, which carried new DVD releases. Passing the magazine rack, he saw the new issue of World of Wrestling was in. Too bad that Sable slut was on the cover. That bitch couldn’t even wrestle but because since she looks like a damn Barbie doll, she gets the cover. He rolled up the magazine so people couldn’t see what he had as then approached the DVD rack. Of course, they had that stupid Star Wars movie. He also saw copies of the Matrix, Fight Club, but no Halloween. Franklin couldn’t understand. He was told earlier the store would be getting it. His eyes scanned the rack over and over as his heart slowly sunk. He should have known better than to expect this little shit town to keep up with the rest of civilization.

“Can I help you sir.” That dweeb four eyed clerk asked him.

“I thought you were getting H2K?” Franklin said. The confused look the face of this ignoramus gave revealed how clueless they were. “The new Halloween movie?” Franklin added. “It was coming out on DVD this week.”

“Oh yeah, those movies with Michael Meyers.” This guy was a total idiot, Franklin thought to himself, as Michael Meyers hadn’t appeared in Halloween movies in almost 20 years. “Yeah, we had a few of them.” the clerk said. “They must have sold out already.”

Franklin rolled his eyes in disgust. He’d rather they never had it at all than to have it be here then taken away. Bad enough his mom made him take his horror posters down once she started going to Church, but now he missed out on getting the DVD because of this stupid Hell House. “Well,” Franklin held is magazine up in defeat, “I guess I’ll just take this then.”

“That Sable’s pretty hot huh?” the same dorky clerk asked Franklin while at the register.

Franklin shrugged his shoulders as if the question were completely alien to him. “Let me guess,” the clerk said, laughing, “you just read the articles.” Of course, he read it for the articles, Franklin thought to himself as he handed over his cash. Why else would he be buying it?

“Franklin.” He heard an elderly voice as he collected his change. “How are you?” Franklin turned to see elderly Bernice standing before him. “I thought you were working at the Ghost House?”

“Oh, well I was.” His voice trailed off.

“Anyway, come back to the office I have something for you.” Bernice was the long retired owner of Worden’s hardware store, but she still came in once and a while to do odds and ends, mostly for something to do. She led him back to the manager’s office. No one was in at the moment. Flipping the lights on she asked “What do you got there.” referring to the now bagged item Franklin carried.

“Just a wrestling magazine.”

“Oh, I know why you bought that.” Bernice said with a glimmer in her eye. “That Sable’s gorgeous!” Reaching into a bag that rested on the desk she said “I wish they would put the Rock on the cover.” Franklin blushed in embarrassment as Bernice boasted. “He could pin me anytime!”

His mood instantly elevated as she removed the contents of the bag. “I knew you’d like this so I saved one for you. Think of it as an early Christmas present.” Franklin eagerly snatched the item presented to him. It was a DVD case, the cover of which looked like a computer monitor dripping with blood. The green Matrix-like letters read ‘Halloween: H2K.”

“Wow, awesome.”

“I knew you’d like it.”

“Franklin” he’d already turned around by now but stopped in his tracks. When he turned back around she said “You can be a nice boy. Maybe invite some friends over to watch your movie. A boy your age should have friends you know?”

“Yeah, yeah OK thanks.” Franklin said before leaving.

Walking outside, Franklin stared at the DVD reading the contents on the back; audio commentary by the director, behind the scenes features, a stick on the plastic indicated about the contest. This DVD was the key to a contest where he could win the original Michael Meyers Mask. Soon Franklin felt his body bump into something. A mat of brownish hair swatted his face, and for just a second he felt the smooth skin of a female.

The sound of groceries hitting the sidewalk preceded her voice “Oh, Franklin, I’m so sorry.” Lindsey said, kneeling down picking up her items.

Embarrassed, he looked back at Worden’s, where through the window he could see Bernice smiling at him. Seeing the chance before him, he knelt down and helped her pick up her things. “Thanks.” Lindsey said, smiling at him. This was the first time she’d spoken to him in forever. She was wearing a plain brown sweater, not that nice holiday themed one Ben got her last year. His heart raced as he remembered the gossip around school. Word was that she’d broken up with Ben, and what he’d seen earlier tonight seemed to have confirmed this.

She spoke to him again after putting her things in the trunk of her car. “I heard you were working at that Hell House. I didn’t see you there.”

“Yeah, my shift was over so..” his voice trailed off before asking, “Did you like the Hell room?”

“Um, I didn’t stay long. Not my thing you know.” Spying the wrestling magazine in his hand Lindsey said “Is that a wrestling book?” He nodded, embarrassed by the cover he knew she saw.

“Yeah, and I just picked this up.” Franklin held up his new prized possession.

“Oh cool, what is that?” she asked.

“Uh, it’s the new Halloween movie.”

“Oh nice, you always did like that stuff.” Lindsey said as she opened the car door.

“Yeah, uh,” he couldn’t believe he finally had the courage to ask, “would you want to come over and watch it with me?”

“I have to get home.” She answered as she sat down in the car seat. “Besides I’m no good with scary stuff, it’s too much for me.”

Franklin looked back at the store, where on the doorway there was a poster for the upcoming school winter formal.

“Uh Lindsey.”

“Yes.”

“I was thinking about going to the Winter Dance.”

“Really, that’s great.” She smiled at him and reached out and touched his arm.

“I was wondering if you’d want to go with me.”

“Oh Franklin.” For the second time tonight, his heart sank. “You know I’m going out with Ben.”

“I heard you broke up.”

“Since when do you listen to the school gossip.” she giggled before saying, “Ben and I had an argument but we’re fine. I’m sorry Franklin but I’m going to be going with Ben.” Now Franklin was struggling to fight back his tears. “You should ask one of the other girls at school. I’m sure you can find someone to go with.” Someone else? Who else would possibly go with him? A cold wind blew over Franklin, rustling the leaves about him. “I’m sorry Franklin but I have to go. See you.”

He winced at the sound of the door slamming shut before the engine came on. Then, Franklin heard another sound behind him, it was the blaring of a car horn, followed by the blaring of his mother’s voice. “Franklin, stop talking to that girl and get over here. We’re going home.”

Lindsey politely waved goodbye as she drove away. “What happened?” His mother asked. “Why were you getting in fights at the Hell House.”

“I don’t know, they were just some dumb kids.”

“Well why were you talking to that girl? Who is she?”

“It’s just a girl from school mom.”

“Probably some slut.” She said as she drove away.

As soon as they got home they could both smell the beer. Franklin’s father had been sober for a while, but now he was sitting on the couch watching TV while cans of beer lay about.

”Oh,” Franklin’s mother said. “so I guess you didn’t go get a job today?”

Franklin didn’t bother sticking around to watch the argument. He had more important things to do anyway. He forgot all about his parents, the Hell House, and that stupid dance once he popped the DVD in. He turned up the volume, drowning the shouting of his parents below.

He pulled out his notebook while the DVD menu loaded. From the H2K website he solved various online puzzles and answered trivia questions. For his success he was emailed special instructions to find nine hidden codes on this DVD. Whoever emailed the nine codes in first would win the grand prize, which was various props from the Halloween movies, including the original Michael Meyers mask.

Franklin’s eyes scanned every frame of the movie as it played, always searching the background for clues.  Any terror and suspense the movie might have offered was not able to phase this viewer. Soon, however, Franklin was startled not from the content of the movie but from the sound of his door slamming. His drunk father stumbled through the doorway, his eyes lazily looked around the room. “What are you doing?” he slurred. “You don’t have a girl up here do you?” After looking at the strange imagery on the TV screen he said “Of course you don’t.” Stumbling forward, eying the DVD case he added. “Your into all this weird shit. Why don’t you play some sports. Go out and get a girl.” Then, looking back at the TV, he asked  What is this?”

 “Dad don’t!” Franklin said as his father pushed the TV, making the DVD player on top slide part way off.

In response, his father pushed the TV harder, this time making it tip for just a moment. His fingers also accidentally hit the DVD panel. The sound of the DVD tray opening accompanied the banging sound of the whole device hitting the floor.

“What is going on in here?” Franklin’s mother burst into the room. His parents resumed they’re argument but at least took it out in the hallway. Franklin quickly knelled down to look at his electronics equipment. The lights were still on on the display of the DVD player, indicating that it still worked. Still, it was too late, the damage was already done. Franklin’s face reflected up at him from part of the DVD, tears fell from his eyes onto part of the disc. These tears wouldn’t change the fact that this DVD that was just gifted to him was now cracked in half.

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Milwaukee Wisconsin, August 15th, 1999

“In fulfillment of Bible prophecy, the world today is beginning to speak the same language. We are satellite- and Internet-connected. We are fast moving toward a cashless economy, a one-world government, a one-world court and a one-world church. We are building a universal city with a one-world church whose tower reaches into heaven.”

“Just like the Tower of Babel!” Franklin’s mother shouted in enthusiasm while other members of the congregation clapped and cheered in agreement. Jerry Falwell’s sermon continued.

“But the Trinity has come down and looked us over,” the reverend said, “and it seems that God doesn’t like what he sees. He may be preparing to confound our language, to jam our communications, scatter our efforts and judge us for our sin and rebellion against his lordship. We are hearing from many sources that January 1, 2000, will be a fateful day in the history of the world.”

Franklin stood up and cheered. Caught up in the moment, he briefly forgot about his mind off his nearly passed out drunk father sitting next to him. Since he lost his job last year he’d taken to the bottle while his mom took to religion. Deciding they needed to escape the sin and debauchery that she claimed gripped their tiny town of Plainfield, Franklin’s mother took the family to the big city of Milwaukee for a religious retreat. Franklin was familiar with Falwell. He remembered a few years ago the reverend said something about one of the Teletubbies being gay. Franklin wasn’t sure about that, but he hoped Falwell was right about January first. Back home, the church his mom drug him to preached hard on the Y2K scare that was in the news and how it was a sign of God’s judgement. At first Franklin was annoyed at having to get up early on Sunday mornings, but a wrathful god massacring humanity sounded pretty awesome. In the last few months he’d been obsessed with those Columbine kids who massacred their school. Reading some of their journals that were posted online, and he started to think both them and God had the right idea. Fuck the world and everyone in it, blow this place to smithereens and start again. Maybe almighty God will get creation right next time.

Like all the speakers before him, Falwell started hawking his book and other merchandise to the crowd before him. Franklin looked at his watch impatiently as the program was running over. After hearing one last plug of merch he looked to the door behind him. One of the local ministers made an announcement that after a short break the adults would have special small group sessions and there would be some programming for the youth.

“Oh wonderful, you can make some new friends.” His mom said.  

“Mom I’m going to meet my friend, you know that.”

“Oh, dear just go check it out. It will be fun.” She said before she and Franklin’s dad went to the adult study.

Franklin felt agitated as he got off the bus. According to the horror message board he frequented, Patrick was going to LARP with some people in nearby Cooper Park. Franklin planned to meet him there, but he was late. He never tried Live Action Role Playing Before. No one in his little shit town would have the imagination to try something that cool. He looked around the park and didn’t see anything yet. Then he spotted a girl dressed in all black standing next to a guy that was big like a football player. The girl’s bright red lipstick was noticeable from afar, when he approached, she smiled at him, her exposed jaw revealed a set of plastic vampire teeth.

“Hey Franklin.” He turned around at the sound of a male voice to see a teenager, dressed kind of normal, t shirt, jeans, Air Jordon’s, but he was carrying a plastic crossbow so Franklin presumed he was a LARPer. “Patrick, good to meet you. Sorry you missed the LARP. We ended up starting early.” Nodding his head to the other guy he said, “Tim here has to go in for early football practice.”

“Hey I’m Tim, nice to meet you.” the other teenager said waving his large hand at him. Franklin said nothing as Tim said “Sorry, I gotta head out.”

“Later.” Patrick said as Tim walked away with his arm around the vampire girl.

“He plays football?” Patrick said in disgust.

“Yeah, he’s cool. He also plays in my Shadowrun campaign.” Patrick said, referring to the cyberpunk themed table top role playing game. Patrick couldn’t conceive of a jock being a gamer. He didn’t have a lot of time to ponder this as Patrick asked, “So, you want to hang at my place?”

Later, walking into Patrick’s house, Franklin asked, “Aren’t your parents home?”

“Well, I just live with my dad and he’s at work.”

“Sweet.” Franklin said as he followed Patrick up the steps. He wished he didn’t have to live with his mom. Walking into Patrick’s room, Franklin expected a shrine to horror movies. What he saw were posters of sports figures he didn’t recognize. He looked confused as he stared a few athletic trophies set up in a display case.

“Those are for track.” Patrick explained before asking. “What sports do you do?”

That question was preposterous. “Uh, I’m, I’m not into sports really.”

“All about the scary movies huh?” Patrick said, picking up the Night Skies DVD. “Cool, well, you want to  check this out then.”

Franklin nodded and Patrick loaded the DVD player. Picking its remote control, he said “On the forums you said something about Easter Eggs?”

“Yeah, if you fiddle around on the menu screen.” Franklin took the remote control from Patrick’s hand and pointed to the TV screen.” “Look here,” he explained, “it doesn’t look like the cursor can go here, but watch.” Pushing the left arrow button on the remote, an area of the screen was highlighted that wasn’t highlighted before, indicating this was an item to be selected.

“Oh cool, how did you do that?

“Like this.” he said, holding up the remote. Pushing the directional buttons, Franklin moved the menu icon back and forth. Them after clicking the icon on the hidden spot, a deleted scene was loaded.

“Wow, that’s awesome!” Patrick said as the gigantic star filled sky of the southwestern united states appeared on the screen. The two teenagers watched as the sound of a Native American wind instrument drummed through the speakers of Patrick’s small TV. On the screen, the camera panned down to the image of a campfire. A mother and daughter sat among their fellow tribesmen.  Looking up at the sky, the mother said  “Our people have stories about a tribe that flew on an eagle all way up into the heavens.” The child’s eyes widened with wonder as her mother went on. “They flew so far away they had to live among the stars.”

“Really, they’re speaking English?” Patrick laughed.

“Listen to this part.” Franklin said urgently. To him, this wasn’t hanging out and socializing, this was getting his friend up to speed.

They both resumed watching as the woman explained that that one day this special tribe will come back to their lands. Just then, a flurry of shooting stars streaked across the sky. “Is that them?” The young girl excitedly pointed her tiny finger up to the heavens.

“Maybe,” the mother said, “maybe they’re coming to take you away!” The young girl laughed as her mother proceeded to tickle her. “OK, that’s enough stories. It’s time for you to go to bed.”

Later, while the young girl lay down beneath the open sky, she could not bring her self to close her eyes. Her gaze remained fixed on the sights above her. One of the shooting stars she’d seen seemed to have been moving slower, almost hovering over her people. In fact, it looked like the light was drawing closer. It’s bright white glow grew larger and larger. The rest of her people slept as she watched in wonderment this ball of light landing on the Earth as though it were a giant eagle. No sound was made as it appeared to touch the soil. Her eyes unable to move from it, the young girl said but two words. She drug out the syllables as she spoke, it was a phrase the filmmakers knew the audience would be familiar with.

“They’re here.”

“Cool, I remember I was a little kid when Heather O’ Rourke died.” Patrick said, referring to the child actor who starred in the original Night Skies film, and tragically passed in the late 80’s.  “That really sucked.”

“Yeah, she could have been in the TV show.” Patrick referred to the Night Skies spinoff TV series that aired on the sci-fi channel.

“Uh, yeah,” Patrick said, turning to his computer. The sound of the 56K modem indicated that he was connecting to the internet. “Anyway, you want to watch the movie a bit.” Franklin agreed and selected the ‘play feature’ option on the menu. They continued to make small talk while the movie played and Patrick typed on the keyboard. The familiar bleeping sound of AOL messenger occasionally accompanied the sounds from the movie. Soon Patrick asked, “So, you got a girl back home?”

“Uh, yeah there’s this girl back home. Lindsey.” Her name hung from his lips, like honey on a spoon that was just out of reach.

“Cool.” Patrick continued typing on his keyboard. After a few minutes he said “Hey, what time do you have to get back?”

Looking at his watch, Franklin said “Yeah, I should probably get back soon.”

“That’s cool. I’m gonna go meet this cheerleader chic in a bit, but I can give you a ride if you need it?”

“Sure.”

Later, after saying goodbye to Patrick, Franklin entered the church where he saw his mom kneeling in prayer with the minister. His father looked at him, his eyes betraying no emotion but his mother immediately looked back after the sound of the door opening. “Oh my heavens where were you?” She rushed up to her feet and came toward him. “We were just about to call the police.”

“Told you he was fine.” His father said. Smiling and nodding at his son he speculated, “Probably out with some girl.”

“No,” Franklin responded, frustrated. “I told you I was out with Patrick.”

“Who’s Patrick?” His mom asked.

“I told you who Patrick is.” Franklin couldn’t believe his mother’s ignorance. “That guy I met online.”

“Wait,” The minister interrupted, “So, you met a man online and you went to his house?”

“He’s my age.” Franklin said annoyed. “I came on this trip so I could meet him.

“And what were you doing with him?” His mother said, still concerned.

“God mom, we just watched a DVD.”

“Son,” the minister interupted again, “was this a pornographic DVD?

“No you asshole, it was Night Skies IV!”

“Franklin!” his mother scolded. Meanwhile, his father looked at his watched, appearing just as annoyed as Franklin was.

“It’s OK.” The minister said to Franklin’s mother. “Franklin, you have to be careful about meeting people on the internet.”

“I only came on this trip so I could meet him, and I hardly got to hang out with him because your crap went on all day!” Then, turning to his parents, he said. “Now come on let’s go home.” He stormed out of the church and walked towards his parents’ car. He couldn’t believe in the stupidity of these people. Sitting in the car, fuming, he thought to himself, there was one thing he hoped these people were right about. He hoped the world really did end this year. If he ever would have prayed, he would have prayed for this planet to be obliterated. Watching his mother sobbing while coming out of the church, his father meekly following behind, he cursed his lot at having to be raised by these idiots. As they opened the doors and plopped themselves down in the car seats, he thought to himself, if they’re still alive in the new millennium, he might have to do the finish them off himself.

September 2003

Clarice just finished telling her Uncle Milton the story of her first kill.

“You finally brought home dinner.” Emily’s face glowed from the combination of the campfire and the pride she felt for her granddaughter. “He tasted great too!”

“Smokers never tase great.” Walt said as he stood up. The fire was slowly dying out by now, and Clarice’s grandfather poured a pale of water to extinguish the remaining flames.

Milton listened the whole time Clarice told her story. He remained quiet as his family curled up in their sleeping bags in the grass, far off the interstate where no one would see them. Watching the smoke rise from the smoldering pit that was their campfire, he remained sitting, looking out over the darkness while his family began their slumber.

Finally, he layed down on his blanket next to the van. Milton remembered that day so many years ago when he visited the prison Chaplin. Thinking back to that moment as he lay looking up at the stars, he chalked it up to having a weak moment. To his right lay Clarice in her sleeping bag, that teenage boys severed head lay next to her. She was still awake, gazing into the dead head’s eyes, her hands caressed the cold skin as if it were and undead lover. “Yeah, that Clarice is certainly a chip off the old bloc.” He thought to himself. Looking to his left, Milton’s parents were fast asleep. He couldn’t shake the feeling that this while trip was a wild goose chase. Naturally he wouldn’t dare say this aloud, but when passing through their home town he thought about pulling off the interstate and insisting they just go home. However, he could tell this little road trip of death made his father feel alive. Moments like tonight, and in that alleyway in New Jersey, made him feel like it was 1974 all over again. The clan was back together, and mayhem and murder followed. Milton wanted to enjoy every moment he could with both his parents while they were still around. Before they were, before..

Milton now turned upwards to gaze at the stars. He wondered if his brother was up there somewhere. Was it really like they said in those Sunday school stories, was he really up there looking down on him and his family? “Hey  Frost,” he whispered, waving at the stars light years away. “Are you really up there looking down on us?” If so, Milton pondered, then his departed brother could see all the chaos and death he and his family had been causing, and he’d be proud. He’d be be especially proud of his “daughter.” Milton himself never wanted kids, but he remembered Forst always had a soft spot for him. Since the moment he found her as a little baby in the back of that house after dispatching her parents, he loved her like her own. “You’d be proud of her.” he whispered as he again looked over at her, now fast asleep. “She’s a nut like the rest of us.”

“Ah what the hell am I doing, fucking talking to myself.” He muttered while turning to his left side. Past his parents he could see the now extinguished fire pit. The bones and leftover flesh remained burnt on the spit. Remembering the mighty fire that once roared there not long ago, Milton thought to himself. “That’s the kind of place God would send us to, if any of that shit was real.” He remembered those days back in the prison, it was the first time he’d read the holy book since he was a kid. Good stories actually. He particularly liked the Old Testament, all that wrath of God stuff. If those stories are to be believed, then the Almighty stacked more bodies then ten generations of his family could dare dream. The aroma of burnt flesh still tickled his nostrils as Milton thought about the sinners burning in the eternal pit of flames. “Why should he suffer.” Milton pondered. His family would never be that Norman Rockwell slice of Americana. He loved what he did, and he couldn’t imagine living his life any other way.

Rolling over, once again laying on his back, his eyes again scanned the unspeakably large canvas that was the sky above him. “What an amazing work of art this infinite abyss of the cosmos was. Could all of this really be here by accident?” Before his eyes fell asleep, he had one final closing thought. “If there really is something up there,” he muttered to himself before he fell to sleep, “then he created a butcher like me.”

The End 

September 2003

On a secluded area off an interstate in the mid-western United States, Milton’s family reminisces about a time they visited him at a New Jersey Prison.

“I remember that trip.” Milton’s mother Emily recalled. “We went into New York afterwards.”

“Yeah,” Clarice, Milton’s niece added, “remember I got lost in the Strand bookstore?”

“I remember you STOLE something from the Strand Bookstore!” Milton’s father and Clarice’s grandmother recalled with a laugh the misadventure they had in the world’s biggest second-hand book shop.

“Oh, those were good times.” Emily said. “We saw Cats on Broadway, and remember we went to see the Twin Towers?”

“Oh yeah, we did.” Clarice said, recalling the two landmark skyscrapers that were destroyed just a few years ago.

“I remember that day.” Milton said. “We didn’t have TV but we all listened to it on the radio.” Then, shaking his head he muttered. “God damn awful.” His family nodded in agreement. Every single person sitting around this campfire had blood on their hands, but even for monsters such as these, they all silently agreed that the evil that day was a step too far.

“Anyway, that was a nice little trip.” Emily said.

Before his niece continued her story leading up to her first kill, Milton thought about his time just after their visit. This was something he hadn’t thought about in a long time, in fact, it’s something he almost forgot himself.

Federal Correctional Institution: Fort Dix, New Jersey August 1993

Milton sat quietly after the religious service. He wasn’t sure what to expect, but he liked the Chaplin. Mr. Savanelli preached about the Flood and Noah’s Ark. Milton always like that story as a kid. Afterwards, he asked the Chaplin for a word in private.

Now alone in the room, the Chaplin asked, “Did you enjoy the service today?”

“Of course. I always liked that story where God drowns everybody.” Milton answered with a smile. “You know I drowned somebody once.” Milton shocked himself by how casually he revealed this. What followed was a sense of panic he hadn’t felt in years. Milton looked behind him to see if the guard was there, but luckily, he was standing outside.

Turning back, the Chaplin maintained his warm friendly smile, but it was evident he’d read the expression Milton wore on his face. “Don’t worry,” Savanalli said, “anything you say here is between us.” 

Milton trusted this God fearing man to be good on his word. “OK” Milton said, wiping his brow. “It wasn’t that fun anyway, almost went under myself.”

“Would you like to sit down?” Savenelli asked.

“Sure.”

As they both sat down the Chaplin said “I don’t recall seeing you before. What brings you to us today?”

That was a good question. What had brought Milton here today? He thought about it before speaking, even though he already the answer. Finally, he said, “I got a visit from my niece recently.” 

“Oh, that was your niece that came? I thought maybe it was your daughter.”

“Wait, you saw her?”

“I saw you with who I assumed was your family when I was visiting with Dr. Pleasance.”

“Dr. Pleasance.” That name brought a smile to his face and wicked thoughts to his mind. “Yeah, we saw her talking to that guy that did the baby-sitter murders. Clarice, my niece that is, was asking about him.”

“I see, is she afraid of him?”

“No she idolizes him.” Milton answered immediately. Then with a chuckle he added, “She thinks he’s awesome.”

“Is that why you’re here?”

Milton answered the question with a question of his own. “Think there’s any hope for a guy like that?

“Well, Jesus preached to those who were far off and those who were near. Scripture says that in Christ we are no longer strangers and aliens, but that we are all fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God.”  

“Yeah, yeah, Ephesians 2:19.” Milton responded dismissively. “I mean, do you think they’ll ever let him out?”

“Milton, as I’ve told you,” the Chaplin now sounded more stern, “I won’t share anything you tell me here. I would ask you to understand that I won’t be discussing his case with you.”

Milton shook his head, amused how the Chaplin blocked this line of query. “Alright, well let’s discuss his soul then, if there is such a thing that is.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, your God,” Milton then snapped his fingers as he asked, “couldn’t he do some magic trick to make him good?”

“Milton, I think you know God’s not a parlor magician. He gave us free will.”

Of course Milton knew all about free will. He’d read “Summa Theologica” by Thomas Aquinus as well the writings of John Wesley. He could have easily formulated a counter argument against these classical theologians. Instead, he looked at the iron bars across the window and responded. “Free will to end up in here.”

“Or free will to accept his grace and walk into his light.”

Milton laughed at the response. It brought him back to that time when he was a teenager and a pair of Jehovah’s witnesses knocked on their door. Their flesh tasted tough and chewy, like the leather of their shoes that had walked too many miles. “So, even if a monster like me believes in God’s only son than I shall have eternal life?” he asked, mocking the much quoted verse, John 3:16.

“Even a sinner such as you,” Savenelli answered with his own smirk, “no matter how infamous they may be.”

“So, you know who I am?”

“You’re not the first prestigious inmate I’ve witnessed to.” The Chaplin said proudly. “In fact, many within these walls have come to Christ.”   

“That sounds great chaplin. Hey, do you think the people I butchered would want to be up there in heaven with me?” Milton knew just how to phrase this question. Milton felt proud of himself for stumping him. After a short moment of silence Milton added “Yeah, I didn’t think so,” wrapping a bow on the moment.

The Chaplin pivoted by asking “That elderly couple Clarice was with, were they your parents?”  

Still proud of stumping the Chaplin and understanding why he changed the subject, Milton answered coyly “You got it.”

“Your parents.” Savanelli then asked, “What about the girl’s parents?”

“Her dad, my brother,” Milton’s emotions now clouded as he explained, “he died when she was just a baby.”

“And the mother?”

With an uncanny gleam in his eye Milton answered “Well, it’s probably best we don’t talk about that.”

Savanelli appeared to accept that answer. Seemingly knowing not to push that subject further he then observed,  “Your parents must be getting up there in age. Raising a teenager must be a lot for them to take on.”

It was then Milton revealed what was truly on his mind. “It’s not my parents I’m worried about.” Milton took a deep breath after those words exited. He felt genuinely startled that this sentence had just come from his own lips. It was as though his words were prisoners escaping from his mouth before it occurred to his mind to close his jaw, keeping his thoughts trapped forever.

The Chaplin immediately pounced on this opening. “Why are you worried about your niece?”

Knowing he was exposed, Milton’s eyes wandered around the room. Looking at the prison walls he answered, “Well, she’s being raised by the same people that raised me.”

“And your concerned Clarice will follow in your footsteps?”

Now speaking freely Milton said “She’s a good kid, she’s so smart, likes to read, not ignorant like other brats her age. I just..I just want her to do good.”

“And there’s not much you can do for her behind these walls.”

The normally articulate Milton replied with one word. “Yeah.”

“Milton, I tell you what we can do. God asks us to pray for him in our times of need, we pray to God especially for things that our out of our hands.” He then extended his own hand and asked. Would you like to pray with me?”

Milton said nothing, he just sat there looking at the man’s hand. “You know Milton, maybe you’re right, maybe praying won’t help.” This was the first thing Milton heard that surprised him. “But it won’t hurt now, will it?”

He took the Chaplin’s hand and closed his eyes before hearing these words. “Father God, I thank you for Milton’s presence this day. He has come humbly before you to ask for your help. Together we lift up his niece Clarice in prayer. She is a wonderful young girl with a bright future ahead of her. We pray for her that she may walk the righteous path. We pray for Milton’s parents, who are raising her, that you may give them the strength to guide her during the trying teenage years. I also pray for Milton that he may be a good influence on his niece, even if from afar. I pray for the four of them that when they journey down the road of life, that all four of them may turn towards the light, the light of your son Jesus. It is in his name we pray, Amen.”

Milton opened his eyes and quickly wiped the tear from his cheek. He knew the Chaplin saw it, but he said nothing of it as he held up his Bible saying “We do have some of these in the library. I hear you’re a voracious reader.”

2003

“Anyway, it was a nice little trip.” Emily said. “We thought on on the way back that would have been your first.”

“What do you mean.” Clarice had forgotten all about it, but as her grandmother started talking about it, she remembered.

1993

Clarice’s hands shook as she held the blade up. All she had to do was swing, just swing it down in one swift motion and it will be all over; but she couldn’t stop looking at his eyes. Those eyes widened in horror, pleading to her for mercy. Her grandparents subdued the hitchhiker they picked up on the way home and tied him up for easy pickings; but as Clarice stood over him in the empty field just off the road, she couldn’t bring herself to do it.  

“Come on honey, make us proud. Make Uncle Milton proud.” Her grandmother prompted. Clarice wanted to, she wanted so desperately to please her family, but something was stopping her. Some invisible force she couldn’t comprehend seemed to lock her arms in place, almost as if she couldn’t move. “Come on,” her grandmother taunted, “kill this bastard!” Clarice closed her eyes tight, her hands gripped the handle of the knife as hard as they could while she took one last deep breath.

She jumped back and screamed as the blood splattered. There was not only blood, but bits of bone and flesh as grandpa’s sledgehammer bashed the skull of the hapless victim. Seeing the graphic site before her, Clarice dropped the knife and fell into the arms of her grandmother. “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry.” she cried, feeling deep shame in not living up to the family name.

“It’s okay dear.” Clarice felt her grandmother’s gentle hand stroking her back. “It was hard for me the first time too.”

“It’s either you or them.” Grandfather said as he took out his bag of tools with which he intended to prepare the fresh carcass. “You gotta understand that.” Hearing her continued to sob he added, “Clarice, your grandmother and I love you, but this is the way of our family. One of these days, your going to have to bring home dinner.”

Milton remembered that day Clarice came to visit him in prison. Waiting for them in the visiting room, he saw Dr. Pleasance. She looked good with her red curly hair that fell down to her shoulders, and that British accent turned him on something fierce. She was here to see the inmate who did those Baby-Sitter Murders a few years back. He didn’t get why she bothered, that freak never said a word, but at least he had something to look at while waiting for his family.

Then she walked in. Milton couldn’t believe how tall she’d gotten. No longer that little tom-boyish rugrat who visited not that long ago, Clarice was becoming a woman. All the other inmates as well as some of the guards watched her figure approach the table he sat at. Milton knew full well what they were thinking, and he wanted to rip their spleens out for it.

Milton’s parents came in behind her. It was always a relief to see them. They both looked well, but Milton could see they were getting up there in age. After talking for a while about how everyone in the family was doing and the usual small talk, Clarice handed Milton a book. In a way, Milton was relieved to see at least one thing remained about Clarice. He was also excited to receive this book, being a longtime fan of Robert Bloch who was disappointed the library didn’t get his newest novel. After thanking her he asked, “How did you like it?” safely betting she’d already read it.

“Brett Eliss’s book was better.” was her answer.

“You just liked that one because of all the gore.” Walter chimed in. Milton laughed in agreement.

“Really,” Clarice replied to her family in all seriousness. “You think I’m that shallow. “Bloch’s character is just a lonely motel owner with mommy issues. American Psycho is an exploration of the dehumanizing effects of capitalism.” Continuing her dissertation on the novel, she described the main character, explaining, “Patrick’s descent into madness is caused by his view of everything and everyone around him to be seen as a commodity, to be bought, used, and disposed of.”

As Clarice rattled of her thesis, Milton beamed with pride. “Damn this girl was smart.” He thought to himself. He knew it ran in the family, as much as smarts could run in this family he supposed.

“You can see why she’s so popular with the boys.” Walter joked,

“Grandpa!” She objected.

Noticing how others in the room occasionally glancing at his niece’s legs, Milton asked “Speaking of which, any boys caught your eye.”

“Oh, yeah, tell him about Darryl.” Emily excitedly butted in.

Clarice’s face immediately turned red in embarrassment as Milton asked “Oh, who’s Darryl?”

Later, Milton would remember this moment as the only time he ever saw his niece being meek as she explained, “He’s just a boy from school. He’s really cool.”

“Yeah, she was all disappointed when she had to postpone because we were coming here first.” Walter said.

“No, I wasn’t, I couldn’t wake to see you Uncle Milton” she said, taking her Uncle’s hand. “When I get back, Darryl and I are going to see the new Friday the 13th movie.”

“Still watching that junk.“ Milton jested. Letting go of her hand, he leaned back and said “I suppose that was one good thing about being incarcerated, zero exposure to junk movies.” Milton laughed.

“Yeah, I know it’s not as good as Halloween.” Milton was surprised because he thought she didn’t like that movie. However, Milton then saw her obvious sarcasm as her eyes widened and she leaned forward to say “NOT!!!!”

Milton laughed and said “I’m sure you’ll give me a detailed thesis next time I see you.”

“Oh my god!” Clarice said in excitement. Milton turned around to see Dr. Pleasance walking away, he got a nice view of her tits as they bounced with each step. Milton noticed his father licking his lips as she passed, her hand partly covering her face. Clarice had her eye on something different, she watched the two guards escort the large prisoner away. Even they seemed a little scared of him. She caught a brief glimpse of his face before he turned around and was escorted back to the bloc. “Is that the guy from the Baby-Sitter Murders?” Some of the guards looked her way as she spoke loudly.

Milton put his finger over his lips indicating for her to hush before nodding his head to answer yes.

“Wow, he’s awesome!”

“Do you know what he did?” Milton asked in concern.

“Hell yeah, I know what he did! Killed five bitches in Bethlehem Pennsylvania in 1988.” she said excitedly. “I’m his number one fan.” “Hey,” she turned to her grandparents. “that’s not too far from here, could we stop there on the way back?”

“Honey, we got a long drive ahead of us. We don’t have time to make too many stops.” 

“Yeah,” Milton said, “besides, don’t you want to get back to your date?”

“Yeah, I guess.” she answered disappointed, but her face brightened again at her next thought. “Do you think next time I could visit him?” referring to the culprit of the infamous Bethlehem murders.

“Honey, they don’t let random people visit inmates here.”

“Well, couldn’t you do something to…”

“Look honey,” Milton was now getting impatient. “We don’t have a lot of time left. I really don’t want to argue about this.”

“Oh,” Milton’s mother Emily interrupted, “wasn’t there something else you wanted to ask him?”

“Great” Milton thought to himself, bracing for whatever she might ask of him next. She didn’t understand that his notoriety in fact did not do him any favors in the big house.

“Milton,” she asked, “do you remember when you were a kid and you saw Ed?”

At the sound of that name Milton’s mind was brought back to a time when he barely came up to his daddy’s waste. Back then he hoped to be big and strong like daddy. He remembered one day, when daddy was handing his “special business.” Daddy always took the sledgehammer for his “special business.” Milton was no dummy, he knew that meant daddy was hurting bad people. He just wished the bad people didn’t scream so much. It didn’t matter so much. Sometimes when it was time for daddy to grab the sledgehammer, Ed would come and play with him.

Milton imagined different friends in his mind. Space adventurer Flash Gordon, wrestling champion Lou Thez, the Lone Ranger, he pretended they would come to his house and take him off on adventures. Milton always knew this was in his own head, but Ed was different. Ed came to him. He was exciting and adventurous like the others. He wasn’t dashing either, he had this weird fleshy lump below his one eye and an odd lopsided grin, but he liked to play with Milton. They would go outside and play catch, or they’d watch football games and movies together. In his own way, Ed was fun.

Sometimes Ed even came to dinner, especially when Mom made that special meal to feed “the appetite” as his parents called it. Milton felt funny about the special meal, especially when Ed discouraged him from eating it. Milton loved his mommy and daddy, but they got mad when he wouldn’t eat the special food; and insisted that Ed was no more real than Flash Gordon of the Lone Ranger.

One day his parents outsmarted him. They wouldn’t let him have any food until he tried the special meal. Eventually his tummy was rumbling, and although Ed actually crying, Milton couldn’t resist anymore. He took a bite, and he loved it. He devoured it all like a rabid dog, and when he looked up from the dinner table, Ed was gone. He’d never see him again.

Milton didn’t say much when Clarice told him about seeing Ed again. He merely dismissed it as her imagination, just as he tried to convince himself. Soon the time was up, they said their goodbyes, and his family left.

Milton never told his family what happened after that visit. It was a few days later when Milton was working in the library that he noticed the sign-up sheet. It was probably here every week, and he just never took notice of it. However, on this day, he did see it. Milton put his name down for something he’d never been a part of before.

A few days later Milton was working in the library when the guard came for him. After being escorted back to his cell block, he was then taken to a part of the prison he’d never been to before. Finally, he realized he’d forgotten all about what he signed up for. As soon as he walked in the room, he thought this was a bad idea. Fred was there. He didn’t like Fred. Milton did bad things in his life, but he never did anything like what Fred did.  Fred laughed when he saw Milton walk in. A man whose frame filled the doorway wasn’t used to being laughed at. “What,” Fred asked mockingly, “are you a man of God now?”

This story is a spin-off from No Gein II Part 12, in which Milton and his cannibalistic family sit around the campfire swapping stories after having just killed some random motorists. The opening line here is the last line from that chapter.

A secluded area off the interstate somewhere in the Mid-western United States. September 2003

“I bit in, and I stayed alive.” 

“You wanna hear about my first taste Uncle Milton?” Clarice asked, smacking her lips on her flesh sandwich.

Taking another bite of his own food, Milton looked up at the night sky as the fire crackled and the stars burned in the heavens. “Let me guess,” he pondered for a moment. Then he remembered. “It was that boy, what was his name,” his eyes searched the lights in the sky above until it came to him. “Darryl.”

“Oh my god, how did you know?” Clarice blushed with excitement, but when she looked at her Uncle Milton, just for a brief moment after that name escaped his lips, he looked a little sad. Clarice wondered why. Perhaps it was because he was coming to know she wasn’t a little girl anymore. Tonight was the first night he’d seen her in action, having helped hunt these three hapless travelers that were tonight’s dinner.

Light from the flames washed over the family while Milton answered, “I remember reading about it in the newspaper. I figured that was you.”

“Oh, that’s so sweet.” Clarice smiled as she looked down and took another bite of her sandwich, glowing from the approval she’d received from her uncle. Looking back up, she noticed Milton was still looking at her. She squinted her eyes and wondered what he wanted.

“Well, let’s hear the story then!” Milton requested.

August 1993

“I’m gonna kill you, you fucking bitch!” The young teenager wasn’t playing around, and the crowd surrounding her knew it as she rubbed the other girls face in the dirt before slapping her. Other kids and even a few adults stood around watching and cheering. Clarice couldn’t breathe as Diane’s hand wrapped furiously around her neck. As one of Diane’s hands went from Clarice’s neck to her smother her mouth, Clarice did the only thing she could think of.

“Ahh!” Diane jerked her hand back pulling her flesh away from the grip of Clarice’s teeth.  “Bitch just fucking bit me!” she cried.  Clarice then grabbed a stone and struck Diane in the side of the head, causing her to fall to the ground. The small audience cheered as Clarice rose to her feet. Diane was in shock as she wiped the blood from her forehead. Clarice wanted to pounce this girl and pound her face into the ground, but she was caught up in the moment. This was the first time in her life people were cheering for her. In reality, they probably didn’t give a damn about her, but in this moment, she was their champion. Shaking the the dust off she could see the faces screaming for blood, but then, there was another face, a face a face that wasn’t cheering, a face she hadn’t seen in a long time.

She didn’t see the fist flying her way, but she felt it land in her stomach before it sent her stumbling back. The crowd roared again as Diane was back on her feet. “Now you’re really fucking dead.” she grunted.

“Hey you kids, get the hell out of here or I’m gonna call the cops!” The crowd booed at the owner of the local burger joint who stormed into the parking lot. ‘You heard me, beat it!” He shouted as the audience dispersed. Diane took off running without saying a word while Clarice gripped her side where she got hit. Watching all the people leave, she didn’t see that face anymore. It must have been just the heat of the moment, at least that’s what she told herself while she tried to catch her breath. Once she calmed down, she slowly walked away; the excitement of the moment had passed.

“Oh my god, what happened honey?” Clarice’s grandmother asked while wiping her granddaughter’s face with a wet towel.

With a smile that took away all her pain, Clarice answered. “A boy asked me out.”

“Wait, you mean a boy did this to you? Who is it?” Her Grandfather Walter interrupted. Clarice had been raised by her grandparents as long as she could remember. Filling the role of the protective father, he picked up his sledgehammer and said in complete seriousness. “I’ll kill him.”

“No, no it wasn’t a boy.” Clarice rushed to explain. She knew full well it wouldn’t have been out of the question for her grandfather to actually murder someone over this. “I think it was his old girlfriend.”

“So, she was jealous huh?” her grandmother Emily said. “Well,” Emily looked over Clarice’s slim figure, donned in cut off jean shorts and a tank top. “you are turning into a real looker.”

“Guess that runs in the family?” Her Grandfather said, playfully patting his wife’s backside while asking, “So, who’s this boy?”

“His name is Darryl.” Clarice answered dreamily. “He goes to school with me. He asked me to the movies this weekend.”

Now Clarice was worried. She didn’t know why her grandparents gave each other that look. Was there some reason they weren’t going to let her go? Then, as soon as her Grandmother spoke, Clarice realized she’d forgotten all about it.

“Honey, we’re going to see Uncle Milton soon.”

As exciting as the prospect of a first date was, she actually wasn’t disappointed at the news.  It had been a while since she what was her Grandfather’s other son. “Uncle Milton!” Clarice exclaimed. “Oh my god, I forgot all about it!”

Her Grandfather said “I was going to remind you to pack. Are you sure you’re not disappointed? We’ll just be gone for a week.”

“No, not at all.” Clarice assured them. “I’ll call Darryl and tell him.”

“Godless feeling in me

night after night

Godless feeling in me

Born of their lives”

Danzig III: How the God’s Kill spun in Clarice’s  CD player she packed her clothes in her room. Figuring she’d need some reading material for the road trip, she perused her shelf that was overflowing with books. Some Halloween novels caught her eye. Author Nicolas Grabowsky wrote a series of novels continuing the Michael Meyers story after Halloween II; unlike the film series which turned into an anthology. She realized she hadn’t read Halloween: Deadly Treats, which was a crossover novel featuring Chucky from Child’s Play, characters from the Demonic Toys films, and Brittany Lloyd, the psychotic child killer introduced in a previous Halloween novel. She grabbed this book off the shelf, figuring she would read it on the way back. She wanted to give a book to Uncle Milton, as the prison allowed visitors to bring one gift. However, Uncle Milton was more refined in his horror tastes and probably wouldn’t care for this one. Then she saw it, it was Robert Bloch’s new novel. She knew her Uncle was always a fan of that author’s work, and it would also answer the question of what to read on the way out.

Finally, there was the question of what to wear for the big day. Looking through her closet of her wardrobe of mostly black outfits, she found just what she was looking for. She pulled out the Charles Manson which read “Charlie Don’t Surf” in the back.

Manson’s eyes looked back from the reflection of the mirror as Clarice held the shirt up over her body. Through the mirror she could see her grandmother standing in the doorway. “Your father would have been so proud if he could see you now.” Emily said.

Looking at the reflection of her own face, Clarice brushed her own cheek with her free hand as she asked “Do I look like him, or do I look more like…” her grandparents talked a lot about her father, who died when Clarice was just a baby, but her mother was never really discussed.

“I can see bits of your father in you.” Emily answered. “Not so much in how you look, but how you are.” Playfully jabbing her on the arm, she said “You’re definitely one of our family. From the time you were little you were spunky,” Emily’s eyes teared up as she remembered her long departed flesh and blood, “just like Frost was.”

Clarice teared up at the mention of her father. She hadn’t heard his name spoken in a long time. Giving her grandmother a hug, a strange question came to mind. 

“Grandma,” Clarice said, “do you remember Ed?”

“Ed who?” Emily asked, confused.

“When I was little.” Clarice recalled. “I had an imaginary friend named Ed.”

Clarice could see Emily’s eyes moving, thinking for a moment, trying to remember. “Oh yeah,” her grandmother said. “You used to go on all the time about him.”

“Grandma,” she hesitated, but the words came out of her mouth. “I saw him today.”

“What do you mean you saw him?” Now Emily’s eyes squinted at her granddaughter, and Clarice worried her grandmother wouldn’t believe her.

“When I had the fight.” Clarice said, “I hit that girl with a rock. She was down on the ground and everyone was cheering around me. I wanted to kill her grandma. I really did. But then I looked in the crowd and I saw Ed. He looked at me real sad, like he was disappointed.” Clarice stopped their, still trying to process what she’d seen, before finishing  “Then the owner came out and chased us off, and Ed was gone.”

“Oh I’m sure it was just the heat and the excitement honey.” Emily said, evidently not thinking much of what  she’d just heard. “Probably just some dirty old man checking out your ass!” Emily jested, giving Clarice a smack on her bottom. “Don’t worry about it. You just finish packing.” she said while she turned away and walked to the bedroom door.

“Grandma?”

“Yes dear.” Emily responded, turning back to face Clarice.

“Didn’t Milton use to see Ed when he was a kid?”

“Now that you mention it,” Emily’s eyes again wandered, as she was again trying to remember moments from so long ago. “I think he did.”

2003

“I remember you talking about Ed.” Whitman said to his son Milton around the campfire. “It was like you understood how other imaginary friends were in your head, but you always insisted Ed was real.”

Milton simply nodded. He’d now finished his food, and stared blankly into the campfire.

“I remember that day, Clarice.” Grandma said. “I was so surprised. You hadn’t seen him since you were little.”

“Well, Milton doesn’t want to hear about your imaginary friends.” Walter interjected. “He wants to hear about your first taste!”

Clarice was about to resume her tale, but there was something she wasn’t going to share. Her grandmother was wrong about one thing. There was another time she saw Ed, it was just a few years before that fight. She was eleven, and she was bleeding. Clarice panicked when she saw the blood on her hands, but her Grandmother explained these things to her. That night, laying in her bed, the darkness around her felt alien, as though she were slipping into a new world she never asked to be in. She hated the feeling of the material between her legs. It felt embarrassing and irritating. She couldn’t yet accept what her grandmother explained to her, that this was going to be her normal life from here on out.

Her feeling of irritation faded as she felt a presence in the room. Her mood lifted when she saw that lopsided grin and saggy baggy eye. The thing was, he didn’t look happy. “What’s wrong Ed?” Clarice asked.

“That’s what’s wrong.” He angrily pointed to her crotch. “You’re becoming one of those dirty harlots. You’re gonna be the type of girl my mother warned about!”

Now Clarice was in shock. “I’m not dirty.” Her voice contained a mixture of fear and anger, with a dash of confusion. She’d never seen Ed upset like this before.

“Yes you are, you’re becoming a dirty bitch!”

“Don’t say that!” Clarice tightly clutched the teddy bear laying next to her as Ed loomed over her. “You’re my friend!” she said desperately.

Ed’s old rough skinned hands grabbed the teddy bear threw it on the ground. “How could I be your friend’s with a dirty slut!”

“Stop it!” she exclaimed, pulling her covers up over the bottom half of her face.

Ed’s own face drew closer, the brim of his hunters cap almost struck her forehead as he shouted “You dirty bitch, you dirty fucking whore!”

Clarice screamed hard until the lights came on. “Honey what’ the matter?” She turned to see her grandfather burst into the room. When she looked back, the tears still flooding her eyes, Ed was gone.

Before she could say anything through her sobs her grandmother entered. “It’s OK honey,” she reassured. Probably just a bad dream.”

No Gein II: A Second Helping

Chapter Fifteen: Leftovers

“Jerry! Jerry! Jerry!” Springer took Marilyn’s mind off all this madness and war, at least it did for a little while. The Nurse sitting nearby laughed along with her at the latest shenanigan’s of the tabloid TV talk show. Then reality walked back in as Marylin’s daughter entered, and the memories of all the stories Marilyn heard on the news came rushing back to her mind.

“Kristina!” Marilyn reached her arms out at her daughter, “Jesus honey are you OK?” 

“I told you I was OK.” Kristina answered before embracing her.

Marilyn didn’t like the sternness in her daughter’s voice. She was worried about her little girl, “Wait till she has kids.” she thought to herself. “She then recalled that Kristina did phone a few days ago and told her what happened. Those memories only brought that pain to her hip again as she said “I told you not to be messing around with that!” Through her tears Marilyn then  reprimanded her daughter.

“Didn’t you want to know what happened?”

“All I want to know is that you’re safe.” 

Before pulling away her daughter answered. “I know mom. I am safe, OK?”

Kristina then went into her purse and pulled out an old envelope. “What’s this?” her mother asked.

“This was for you mom.”

The paper of the envelope was worn and brittle, as if it had been sealed a hundred years ago. Tiny specks of dust fell to her lap as she unsealed the envelope, about to excavate the contents inside. The nurse got her Marilyn’s spectacles as she began to read.

“If you’re reading this then chances are things didn’t turn out well for me. Shouldn’t surprise me, had to fight my whole damn life. Maybe I shouldn’t even be writing this letter. Some say I might be making shit happen by doing so, but I don’t feel like taking the chance that I’ll have a happy ending.

I damn sure hope you get one though. Forgive my French, writing letters isn’t my strong point. Just wanted to get down into words so you don’t think I forgot about you. I can’t imagine how hurt you might feel, thinking I left you all alone. I don’t blame you for hating me, you might hate me forever, but maybe one day you’ll understand.

If you would know about our family tree you’d want to burn the whole thing straight to hell, but that doesn’t matter now. What matters is what we do from here on out. I hope to leave you something money wise and make things right somehow. I don’t know if I’ll ever see you, and when you’re older if you don’t want to see me, I understand. Just hope that someday you can understand how much I love you. I’m so sorry things got as bad as they did. I’ll try to make all this shit right someday. Keep your chin up kid.

Love, 

Your mom,

Henry’s vision got blurry, the image of Helen and Chuck faded away, like it was all just a dream. He opened his eyes and he was standing in front of his old house in Amherst. The sun shined bright and the sky was a luminous blue, it looked so clear above him it was almost like magic. It was then he heard the song.

“Why was I born. 

Why am I living?

What do I get?

What am I giving?

Why do I want a thing I daren’t hope for?

What can I hope for?

I wish I knew.”

As Henry remembered how his parents liked that song, he realized it was coming from the car approaching down the road. It was his dad’s car, and it was kicking up a big pile of dust behind it, just like it used to when he was a kid. As the car parked, he saw that familiar smile. Stepping out of the car, she was just how he remembered her, all those years ago.

“Look at you all grown up!” The woman said to her little brother.

“Sally?” In his mind he was shocked, but in this place, wherever he was, his body could only feel happiness. A joy and wonder sprang forth from him, like the joy of a thousand sunrises.

“Oh my god.” Henry hugged his sister, and while he couldn’t understand where he was, he knew that wherever he was, it was a place he was so happy to be.

Pulling back and looking at her, for a moment in infinity he remembered all the terror she’d endured. “Sally, my god, I’m so sorry.”

She put her finger to his lips saying, “It’s ok. I took on a burden. I took it so others could live.”

“What?” Henry was growing ever more confused.

His sister simply giggled as she shrugged her shoulders suggesting even she didn’t fully know what she meant. “It’s hard to explain, but it all works out in the end.” Then she playfully jabbed him on the shoulder. “Besides, you know I was a Beatnik, I was never gonna fit in anyway. And hey, live fast and die young. I mean come on, could you see me growing old? Ew….”

Henry laughed as somewhere in his gut he knew she was right.

“Anyway, let’s go see mom and dad.”

“Mom and dad?” He didn’t have time to process that he might see them in this place too, but he heard that familiar sound from so long ago of the wooden door creaking. Out came what was, as a child, the most beautiful thing he could see, his mother standing there with a big cold jug filled with ice and lemonade. Behind her came his father, exactly as he remembered him as a boy, smiling at him wearing a leather baseball glove. 

“Yeah, you might be surprised. We’ve gotten pretty close actually. It’s what happens when you’ve got nothing but time I guess.” Sally then excitedly ran away. “Race you there,” she turned her head back to tease him. “Last one up is a rotten egg!”

“Hey, you cheated!” While Henry complained at the unfair advantage his sister took, he didn’t even notice his vantage point had suddenly lowered as if he suddenly shrunk by a few feet. He just knew he couldn’t let his big sister beat him again. His little legs ran as hard as they could, kicking up baby clouds of dust through the heavenly Wisconsin plains as they headed home. 

Far across in the distance, an angel looked on, smiling at the sight of a little boy racing his big sister to their front porch.

One more chapter to go, and I promise this one will have some chills. Come back on Halloween for the conclusion of No Gein II: A Second Helping!

No Gein II: A Second Helping

Chapter Thirteen: Bloody Reunions

Pine Grove, Wisconsin. December 8th, 1954.

“Keep your chin up kid.” Mary wasn’t the crying type, but tears welled up in her eyes as she wrote these words before stuffing the paper in a white envelope. Upon sealing it, she placed the envelope in a small bag filled with what was left of the family jewels now hidden it under the floorboards of her bedroom. Placing the wooden boards back in their proper place, she remembered the last time she hid something in a spot like this. Saved her husband from a lot of trouble when cops raided. Looking back on it, maybe she would have been better off if the cops caught her crazy ex. Who knows, maybe Marilyn was better never getting anything from her at all. What she did know was that in that moment she needed to get out of the house. 

Stepping outside into the Wisconsin plains, she marveled at how It was so open out here, it was like you could see off into forever. This definitely was Kodak country. Someone could be watching her from miles away and she would never even know. She didn’t like to think about that as she drove to her establishment that she’d opened with the money she grabbed from Whitman. Figured for all the insanity she’d endured; she should get something for her troubles. 

Plainfield Wisconsin, 2003

Milton wasn’t about to find any literary magazines at the hardware store, but his mother was happy as she browsed the wrestling magazines. Milton couldn’t quite understand his parents’ love of this glorified carnival show, “It’s Shakespeare for the masses!” his mother once explained to him. 

As Milton’s mother flipped through one of the grappling magazines she came across a special report from Japan. There was a large photograph of a wrestler standing in the middle of the ring holding a chainsaw. Clarice walked by and grew excited upon seeing the picture. “Wow.” she exclaimed. “That looks like you Uncle Milton!” 

Milton didn’t care either way for the picture, but Clarice’s grandmother complained “That bastard stole your uncle’s bit! We should sue!” She said jestingly. 

“I don’t understand why you still like that stuff.” Milton complained. 

“Well,” his mother answered, “they say wrestling is in your blood. I don’t know about that, but I once had a wrestler in my belly!” she cackled.

“May I help you?” Milton and his family turned around to see a very elderly woman standing before them.

“Do you work here?” Milton said, not hiding the surprise in his voice. This woman looked even older than his own parents.

“Oh heavens no, I’m long retired.” The woman answered. “But I owned this store a long time ago. I still like to visit sometimes.” The woman introduced herself as Bernice, spying the magazine, she added. “Oh, are you a wrestling fan?”

“All my life!” Milton’s mother said. Then, pinching her son’s cheek as if he were a newborn, she said “When this one was just a little baby we used to watch Gorgeous George on the television set.”

“I remember him, he was such a scoundrel!” Bernice recalled. Her wrinkled cheeks then blushed as she added “I was a fan of Lou Thez. That man was a tall glass of water!” Then she revealed with a giggle. “Used to make my husband so jealous!” The ladies shared a laugh before Berncie said “Well if there’s anything I can help you with just let me know.”

“Actually, we’re in the market for a new chainsaw.” Milton said.

“No problem, right this way.” Bernice immediately led them to the section that held chainsaws. She detailed what they had in stock as if she were still an employee. Milton gazed at the selection, and there, hanging up high on the shelf, was the one for him. It was a ferocious looking farm and ranch saw like the one he had in his heyday. “That’s our newest model.” Berncie said as she watched Milton eye the particular saw like a kid in a candy store. “The 74 Hooper. Runs 20% longer than other saws before refueling, has a built in shock absorber, throttle trigger, and a pre-separation air filtration system. A few of the rancher’s around here picked this one up and I haven’t heard any complaints!”

“Imagine the damage you can do with this Uncle Milton.” Clarice said in awe.

Milton reached his hands up to the saw and firmly gripped its handle. It felt very comfortable in his hands. It had been so long since he’d held a saw blade, he felt like Arthur withdrawing the mythical sword from the stone, proving by that act alone that he was the rightful King. Staring at the blade as if it were an extension of his own body, he only said one thing. “I’ll take it.”

Kristina sat alone in the police station waiting room. She wasn’t sure what to expect. Since the local news broke a lot of reporters and curiosity seekers were descending on this small little town. It hadn’t occurred to her that con artists and attention seekers might come out here to tell a similar story to what she had. She hadn’t come out here for attention, she just wanted the truth.

“Kristina.” The secretary said. “He will see you now.” 

She walked back to the Sheriff’s office where she found the Officer who’d previously introduced himself as Jonathan sitting at his desk and on the telephone. “OK see you soon Henry.” she heard him say before he hung up. Seeing her, he stood up and gave back her driver’s license and the stack of papers back that belonged to Kristina’s mother. “Here you go ma’am.” the officer politely said. “Please understand, there’s been all kinds of weirdos coming out here since the story broke, but your story checks out.”

“Do you have information about my grandmother?” She asked. 

“Ok, here’s what I’m gonna do.” Jonathan said in a low voice. “I’m gonna give you directions to this address.” He handed her another slip of paper saying “It’s my friend Fred’s home. I want you to go there in about a half hour. He’ll be expecting you. Myself and some others will be there shortly. There won’t be any prying eyes there, so once we get settled in, I’ll give you some information.”

Kristina wasn’t expecting Tom Clancy Cloak and Dagger business coming out here but given how many people she saw snooping around she could understand why. The directions brought her to the old house on the outskirts of Plainfield, where she was greeted by an elderly gentleman named Fred, who was Jonathan’s father. He invited her in, where she met another older man, along with a couple who looked around her age.

Fred introduced Kristina to the three saying, “This is Henry Kohler, his daughter Helen, and this is Helen’s husband Chuck.” 

These three looked familiar, but Kristina couldn’t place it. “Have I seen you before?” she asked. 

“No, I don’t believe we’ve met.” Helen said.  

Kristina was certain though. “No, I’m sure I’ve seen you before. Were you on TV?”

“Helen’s brother is George Kohler,” Fred explained, the film director. 

“Oh wow!” Kristina now remembered seeing them on the entertainment news, but then, understanding the implication of what she just heard, she grew a little worried. “Um, are you going to make a movie here?”

“Hey Dad.” Jonathan said as he walked in and greeted Fred. After greeting the rest of the group, he said “To answer your question Kristina, no, they won’t be making a movie. Actually, they’re here for a similar reason you are. You might want to sit down.”

Once everyone took a seat in the living room the Sheriff cautioned. “Now what you hear in this room stays here OK? I’m doing my damndest to keep a lid on this thing so this whole town doesn’t turn into a carnival. Understand me?”

“Sure.” Kristina said. She had no desire for publicity, she just wanted to know what happened to her grandmother.

“That pit where they found those bodies” the officer explained, “about a quarter of a mile away there used to be an old farmhouse. About 50 years back there was a man there by the name of Edward Gein. Ma’am, I’m afraid your grandmother’s body was on his property.”

“OK.” Kristina tried to calmly process this fact. “How do you know this?”

“I had a sister.” Henry began to explain. “Her name was Sally. Long story, but one night she accidentally ran into him. Almost got killed herself.” Pointing to Fred, Henry went on, “Short version of the story is she got a hold of Fred. He went to the house along with a policeman. They weren’t sure what was happening, but they’d found Ed, and.. God.” Henry shook his head as he remembered that horrible night when he learned the truth about his sister.

Fred took it upon himself to finish Henry’s sentence. “It turned out Ed had been grave robbing for years, and he’d kept the bodies in his house.”

“Oh my god!” Kristina exclained. “This man robbed my grandmother’s grave!” 

“No, actually we think he murdered her.” The officer said. “She lived in a town called Pine Grove just down the road. Her old house is still standing actually. Anyway, she had a little tavern which Ed was known to frequent. One day she came up missing, and in her tavern a pool of blood and a bullet cartridge were found on the floor. There were always rumors she was hiding from the mob out here, so at the time people figured her past had caught up with her. But that night, my dad found your grandmother’s, uh, body.” He did not wish to tell her the awful details of how his father found Mary’s face peeled off and stored in a plastic bag. He could see his father shiver, knowing he was reliving that horrible moment. Jonathan went on. “We know Ed owned a gun that would have matched that cartridge, and rumors were he joked about having Mary at his house. Dad figured he killed her. I’m really sorry ma’am.”

As much as it was a shock, at the same time it felt like a weight had been lifted off her shoulders. The truth was god-awful, but at least she knew what that awful truth was, and at least she could tell her mother before she passed. “You said she had a house nearby?”  She asked.

“Yes, that’s correct ma’am.” The officer said.

“I’d like to see it.”

“You’re perfectly free to do that on your own time.” Jonathan said. “Anywhere I go now is going to draw attention, but you are free to do that if you like”

“We’ll go with you.” Henry said.

Kristina was grateful for these people willing to accompany her. The officer gave her the address. She would see this home where her grandmother walked, hopefully this would provide some closure, and then she could tell her mother what she’d learned.

Pine Grove Wisconsin 1954.

Cleaning off the bar, Mary couldn’t get the thought out of her mind. Maybe Marilyn was better off without her. No, no she needs to see her. Maybe she should leave right now and go see her, but what if she got caught. Her mind bounced back and forth between the possibilities. Luckily happy hour was about to start. The locals came pouring in and the usual conversations kept her mind off her troubles.

Hours later she announced last call. Soon the usual hangers on staggered away. Her little establishment was doing well for itself, but as the patrons left, Mary’s troubles rushed back into her mind like the tide of an ocean that never reached this land. The bell chimed as the door opened again. “Shit” she thought, “who was coming this late?” Then she heard the footsteps, quiet little footsteps that sounded like they belonged to a small man.

“Hi Mary. You OK? You look upset?” The late patron observed.

“Oh, I just got something in my eye. No trouble.” It was old Eddie Gein. “What are you doing out so late? If you’re hunting rabbits, you won’t find any here.”

“Oh, I know, I was just having trouble sleeping.” Eddie’s hands fluttered and his eyes darted around the room as he spoke. “Is it okay if I have a drink?”

“Well, I’m closing soon, but I’ll give you just one, OK?” Mary then turned her back to him as she poured a short beer. Eddie always seemed like a harmless fellow, if not a little odd. She heard about how he often helps out around town, sometimes played with the local kids. She also heard about his crazy mom. What she never heard was the gunshot. She didn’t hear her own body hit the floor either, as she was already gone.

No Gein II: A Second Helping

Chapter Twelve. Campfire Stories

Carcasses of their victims hung from a spit over the fire as the family camped out in a secluded area of forest just off the highway. Milton was grateful his mother packed bread in their cooler so he could made himself a nice little sandwich. “Oh my god, this is the best meal I’ve had in years!” he said, taking a bite of the freshly cooked flesh packed between the two wheat slices. Looking at his niece he said through a mouth full of food, “I’m telling you; don’t you ever go to prison. The food there is awful!”

“Don’t worry Uncle Milton,” Clarice giggled while using her fingers to eat a piece of meat off a paper plate, “they’ll never take me alive!”

“They’d better not. By the time you’d get out I’d be dead.” Clarice’s grandmother cackled.

“You’ll be dead a lot sooner if you don’t stop using so much salt!” Clarice’s grandfather said as he ate his freshly made stew.

“Whitman, I’ve been making it that way since before I even met you and don’t you forget it.” Emily barked back.

“Wait,” Clarice said, “I thought the family recipe was from Grandpa’s side?”

Pointing to the old metal pot in which chunks of flesh floated from their latest victims, Clarice’s grandmother, Emily, explained, “The meat stew is from Whitman’s side.” Then holding up her own sandwich she said, “I’ve been eating this since the Great Depression.” Watching the flames dance around the remains of their victims she recalled “Daddy went and died, and mom and I could barely survive on the farm in Oklahoma. I remember being so hungry, so hungry it brought me to tears. Must have drove my poor mother mad, how I couldn’t stop crying.” Her voice shook from the sting of that pain she still felt decades later. “We had a loaf of bread, but not even a lousy vegetable to put between two slices. One night a straggler came by, tried to take advantage of my mom. She killed the bastard dead.” Emily had the full attention of her audience as she finished her tale. “We were starving, but, next thing you know,” Her face changed from an expression of sorrow to triumph as she proudly held up her sandwich and proclaimed. “Bon appetite!” 

“Wow.” Clarice marveled at the story. “So did you introduce the appetite to grandpa?””

“No, I already had it.” Whitman answered his spouse’s question. “In fact, when we first met, I kept it a secret!”

“So how did you find out?” Clarice asked.

“Well, actually he caught me!” Emily laughed. “I kept the appetite to myself when we’d first met. One day he was away on business, and I was at home starving. We had plenty of food mind you, but the appetite was overpowering. I went and out and got somebody tasty, but loe and behold he came home early, I thought I might have to kill him!”

“I almost killed you when I saw how much salt you were using!” Whitman reminisced.

Looking at his niece, Milton laughed, “They’ve been fighting about that all my life.”

“Aww,” Clarice fawned, “the appetite kept you together. That’s so sweet.” 

“Yeah, my first wife couldn’t take the heat,” Whitman recalled. “so she got out of the kitchen so to speak.” he said laughing.

“Wait” Clarice was shocked at this truth her grandfather just dropped. “You had another wife?”

“Yeah, her name was Mary, tough old broad, just like your grandmother, but she didn’t like our family’s peculiar, uh appetite, as we say.” Grandpa explained before eating another mouthful of his stew. 

“What happened to her? Clarice asked.

“Actually, this is why we’re heading out west.” Whitman revealed. “I had this old set of jewelry; it belonged my mother, bunch of diamonds and shit. That bitch took it all along with some cash and took off. Never saw Mary again.”

“Wait,” Clarice asked, “so did you just find her?” 

“Well someone did!” Whitman laughed. “You see the news about those bodies that turned up in the plain states?

“No, really?” Clarice answered.

“Too busy on that internet shit!” Her grandmother complained.

“Hey,” Clarice protested, “rotten.com is an awesome site! I’m telling you, you’d love it.”

“Look I don’t give a dam about gotten.com or whatever the fuck you’re talking about!” Clarice’s grandfather said, agitated. “Those jewels belonged to my mother, and I always wanted to kill that bitch for running off with them. Well, it turned out some Psycho beat me to it like 50 years ago. Apparently she had a home out in Wisconsin.”

“And you think you’re going to find these jewels 50 years later?” Clarice wondered out loud. “She probably pawned them off.”

“Maybe, but I just gotta know. Mary always hid shit in that space under the floorboards some old houses had.” Grandfather laughed as he recalled. “Actually, Mary saved my ass one time during a police raid. If her old house is still standing. I bet that at least some of that shit is still in there.”

“And if there’s any people in that house?” Clarice asked out loud, knowing full well it was a rhetorical question.

Grandmother ate the last bit of her sandwich before answering. “Well, we’ll get hungry again I’m sure!”

Then Clarice wondered, “So how did you get the appetite Grandpa?”

“It was the war.” Grandpa remembered. “We were on a fishing boat off the coast of Iceland. One night a German U-boat took us out. Our boat was partially afloat, and me and a few other guys clung to the wreckage.” Taking a sniff of the night air he could recall that peculiar aroma from so long ago. “I remember the smell of the ocean mixed with that distinct smell. It was the smell of cooked meat. A few bodies floated by. I remember one in particular, chest was blown off, and the heat from the explosion burnt some of the flesh. We could all smell the meat. I’m sure we were all thinking it, but I was the first one to say it out loud. Of course, the other survivors thought I was mad.”

Grandfather finished off his meal as he came to the conclusion of his story. “As the night passed, one by one the other survivors faded one by one. By the time the sun came up the next morning, I was the only one left, all the others sank into the sea. I could feel something, something in my whole body. I can’t describe it, but it was almost like I could feel my soul about to leave. As the sun was coming up, I looked out at the surface of the water kissing the horizon, and I could see my parents. They were at their old home in the highlands, sitting on the porch waiting for me. I knew what was about to happen, but I didn’t want to go. I turned away to see one of the bodies floating past me, big burly guy, his frame could have filled up a whole doorway. His arm was blown off from the night’s explosion, and parts of his flesh looked like they were partially cooked. Looking down at the flesh, I bit in, and I stayed alive.”

No Gein II: A Second Helping

Chapter Eleven: Road Trip From Hell

Milton missed driving. When they first embarked on their journey his parents insisted on taking the wheel, as Milton couldn’t even remember the last time he drove. His folks were getting up there in age though, and he could tell they were getting tired; so after some persuading, he at long last had his own foot on the gas.

After living in a box for so long Milton was now On the Road with the whole country spread before him like an open atlas. He felt like Jack Kerouac and Neal Cassady, zig zagging around the country with no end in sight. He wasn’t sure where they were going, but they weren’t going to stop until they got there. Milton always appreciated America’s heartland. New Jersey, in the shadow of the Big Apple, was so cramped and crowded, but once they got past Chicago, they entered that realm where you could see for miles. Far off in the distance, the sun was setting in the prairie fields. It looked so far away that Milton pondered how he was probably watching the sun set in the next time zone.

The blare of the semi-truck’s horn shook Milton out of his daze, where he had unknowingly drifted ever so slightly into the next lane. “Watch the road moron!” His father shouted as Milton yanked the van back.

“Watch your speed too.” His mother nagged. 

“I’m not speeding!” Milton insisted as he glanced at the speedometer.

“I know but we’re coming up on the spot.” his mother said.

Milton had forgotten, but his memory jogged once he saw the road sign his mother told him to look for. Hitchhikers were common out here. Dangerous thing that is, especially for a young girl, a young girl like the one who waited there before him. Her golden locks bounced in the setting sun as her thumb pointed in the air. Her sexy midriff was bare and exposed like Shania Twain, and she was decked out in cut off jean shorts and cowboy boots. To top it all off was her sign. On it was a pair of thick red lips with a tongue sensually slithering out, a drop of saliva falling from the tip. Above it read, “Head for Food.”

Milton’s heavy foot pounded the breaks hard. The van door swiftly slid open as the woman stood there grinning. “Young girl like you shouldn’t be out here hitchhiking,” Milton heard his mother say, “could be dangerous you know.” 

“Dangerous for who?” The woman shot back. 

“Get in here.”  Milton’s mother took the young girl by the arm and pulled her into the van.

The girl’s arms wrapped around the elderly woman as she said, “Grandma!” 

Milton’s father turned around from the passenger seat and patted her on the head saying. “Good to see you, Clarice.”

Confused for a moment, Clarice asked “Wait, then who’s driving?”

Milton gave a polite little wave as he pulled back onto the road. Clarice beamed like a child on Christmas morning as she saw the scarred face in the driver’s mirror. “Oh my god, Uncle Milton!” From behind she wrapped her arms around him and kissed him on his scarred cheek. “They finally let you out!”

Milton patted her niece’s hand as he continued driving. “That’s right baby, I’m finally out.” Looking at her reflection in the rear view, a flood of memories came rushing back to him. Taking a deep breath, before setting his eyes back on the road he said “You look just like your father.”

“Awww.” Tears welled up in Clarice’s eyes as she again kissed her Uncle on the cheek. “That’s so sweet.”

“Just keep your eyes on the road!” His mother interjected as the van got back on the highway.

Darkness was falling over the plain states as the white can continued down the road. In this part of the country there were almost no other cars around. Only a few lights here and there lit the road, their surroundings otherwise covered by forest. Far ahead Milton noticed a pair of yellow lights blinking. Driving further forward, everyone in the van could see a car sitting on the side of the road. An older man was inspecting a flat tire, and it looked like two other people were inside the car. Milton’s blood rushed through his body, his breathing grew heavy and sweat began to form on his forehead as the possibilities illuminated his mind in this darkness. Milton only had one question. “Are you thinking what I’m thinking?”

“Whose hungry?” his mother cackled. It was a rhetorical question. 

The van pulled up to the parked car, and the door slid open. “Need some help?” Milton asked as he shined his Mac flightlight on the man inspecting his tire. 

“I could sure use your light if you don’t mind.” The man said, not noticing Milton’s scarred face in the dark. “I can change the tire, but I can hardly see out here.”

“At least someone knows how to change the tire.” A woman, Milton presumed to be the man’s wife, said while puffing a cigarette. She stood on the other side of the car and nodded her head towards her vehicle. A faint light glowed from inside, and for just a moment, a pimply faced teenager turned his eyes away from the screen of his Game Boy Advance. Looking out the window with a dazed look on his face, he asked “What happened?”

Milton’s hands trembled ever so slightly as he held the torch like Mag light in his hand. Here were two potential victims right before him, but he knew the dangers of tied being greedy. Someone else could have the punk in the car, but once he took out the parents, he would have tied Jason’s record. As the flat tire was finally released, Milton saw Clarice creeping toward the car. He was a little nervous for her, but was excited too. This would be the first time they would have some action together. He laughed as she got the teenage dork’s attention. His mouth fell agape as she pulled up her shirt, teasing a flash of her tits. Her hand let go of her shirt before the full reveal as she then made a motion mimicking fellatio then nodded her head towards the woods. The Game Boy instantly fell to the floor as the car door quickly opened and the boy almost fell out of the car.

“Where are you going?” His mom asked, not noticing the girl who already pranced off into the nearby forest.

“Uh, I’m just going to stretch my legs.” He nervously said before bolting off into the woods.

“Ok, well don’t go too far.” his mom said.

Milton was so proud of his niece; he could already tell this wasn’t her first rodeo. With that dork out of the way, he raised the flashlight higher in the air. Just as he was about to bring it crashing down, he spotted his father who had gotten out of the van. He motioned with his hands indicating he wanted Milton to wait.

The few minutes it took for the spare tire to get on the vehicle felt like an eternity, but finally it was done. “Thanks for your help.” the man said. Milton only nodded in affirmation. It was then he heard the whistling. In the moonlight they could all see the female form of Clarice skipping towards the two vehicles whistling along the way, not another soul in sight. She was carrying something in his hands.

“Where’s Troy?” The mother asked, stomping out her cigarette.

Upon hearing that Clarice shouted “Heads up!” before swinging her arm into the air. The object released, and spun like a basketball as it flew through the sky. It was a perfect shot, crashing into the windshield cracking the glass. Both parents screamed as they saw the decapitated head of their son bouncing off the hood of the car.

Their screams were mixed with howls of laughter from Milton and his family. “That’s my niece!” Milton boasted. Beaming with pride he forgot anyone else was even around him. Only the screams of his father snapped him out of it. ‘Oh yeah,” Milton thought to himself as he grabbed the father from behind. Milton allowed him to struggle a bit, he enjoyed letting his victim think he had a fighting chance as Milton released one of his arms to grab his small blade. His body felt that incredible rush of adrenaline as he held the blade up in the evening air. Once he couldn’t withhold his urges any longer, Milton plunged the blade into the man’s throat, letting the blood wash over his hands in the warm night. Another body for the count, one more, and he would tie Jason’s record.

Milton lustfully looked at the newly made widow as her breasts heaved with her deep breaths of terror. “One more.” he thought to himself. Clarice’s laughing was only matched by the screaming mother running down the road. Milton immediately followed in pursuit. He didn’t chance throwing the blade. He hadn’t thrown in so long, and if he missed then his blade easily would be lost in the dark. He made a point to exercise while in prison, hitting the weights and walking the track, but he hadn’t run like this since he was young. His chest heaved heavily as his thick legs pounded the macadam trying to catch up to his prey. She wouldn’t get away. She couldn’t get away. He had to get her, he had to tie Jason. Thoughts of murderous glory propelled him faster down the deserted highway, allowing him to close the distance between him and his victim. She was so close he could taste her fear. Now he would have her, soon he and Jason would be equals. 

There was a popping sound just before blood squirted from her head. The next sound was the woman’s body hitting the ground, and then there was that distinct smell, a smell he hadn’t experienced behind bars. He turned back to see Clarice standing in the moonlight, a whiff of smoke rising through the air from her pistol.

“Dammit Clarice, I almost had her!” Milton protested.

“Bullshit, your old ass wasn’t getting anything!” Clarice mocked.

“Well, since when do we use guns anyway?”

“Come on Milton, it’s not the 70’s anymore. We gotta keep up with the times! “

To Milton, this was blasphemy. “Keeping up with the times isn’t our modus operandi!” He complained.

Holding up the pistol, Clarice explained, “Well this is mine. I’ll have you know this gun was a gift given to me when I was but 13 years old. The motherfuckers who had it before me were the ones who killed my daddy!”

Milton was struck dumb by this truth. He couldn’t possibly respond. He stood still for a moment as he remembered his brother, this wonderful girl’s father. As he reflected, he became bathed in the glow from the headlights of the family van, through which he could see Clarice walking away from him. He also saw his mother poking her head out the window shouting, “Will you two stop fighting and get these bodies off the road! I’m starving!”