Night in the lonesome oc.., p.1
Table of Contents
ATTACKERS IN THE NIGHT
Other Leisure books by Richard Laymon:
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“Night in the Lonesome October is scary. I haven’t been this scared while reading a piece of fiction in a long time.”
—Bentley Little, Hellnotes
“Night in the Lonesome October is at once one of the eeriest, and one of the most immediate, horror novels of recent decades.”
—Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
“A brilliant writer.”
“Laymon doesn’t pull any punches. Everything he writes keeps you on the edge of your seat.”
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“If, like me, you consider Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked This
Way Comes an American classic, you are in for a real treat. The
Traveling Vampire Show will put you in the same vicarious world
that no one has entered since the master.”
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“Laymon is unique. A phenomenon. A genius of the grisly and the grotesque.”
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“Laymon’s writing’s super-tight and characters well detailed and believable, which makes the savage termination of so many of them all the more shocking! The unbridled joy of a delightfully fertile and wicked imagination at work.”
“Laymon has been putting out outstanding book after book.”
“Richard Laymon is a legend in dark fiction circles ... a master of the macabre, a man on the cutting edge of the horror genre.”
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ATTACKERS IN THE NIGHT
Somebody slammed into me from the right. The impact twisted me and sent me stumbling sideways through the dark. I tripped over my own feet, fell as if making a dive into shallow water, and slammed against the ground so hard that I skidded.
In the distance past my feet, Eileen cried out, “Eddie! Get him off me!”
I heard a smack like a fist striking bare skin.
“Leave her alone!” I yelled.
As I struggled to get up, I realized that I’d lost my knife. I had to have it Dropping to my knees, I swept my hands over the ground.
Eileen whined ... part pain, part terror.
The hell with the knife.
I grabbed a heavy, jagged rock that was larger than my hand, scrambled to my feet and rushed toward the sounds from Eileen and what was happening to her.
The sounds sickened me. Sobs and giggles, punches and slaps, yelps of pain, gasps for air, muttered curses, wet slurps, frenzied grunts....
Other Leisure books by Richard Laymon:
THE MUSEUM OF HORRORS
IN THE DARK
THE TRAVELING VAMPIRE SHOW
AMONG THE MISSING
ONE RAINY NIGHT
To Jerry and Jackie Lentz, our fine friends
who always seem to know what we’re laughing about
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“Casey at the Bat,” a poem by Ernest Lawrence Thayer, was first published under the pen name “Phin” in the San Francisco Examiner on June 3,1888. The classic poem contains the famous final stanza:
“Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright, The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light; And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout,
But there is no joy in Mudville: Mighty Casey has struck out.”
The skies they were ashen and sober;
The leaves they were crisped and sere—
The leaves they were withering and sere;
It was night in the lonesome October
Of my most immemorial year ...
Edgar Allan Poe
I was twenty years old and heartbroken the night it started.
My name is Ed Logan.
Yes, guys can be heartbroken, too. It isn’t an affliction reserved for women only.
Except I think it feels more like an empty stomach than a broken heart. An aching hollowness that food can’t cure. You know. You’ve felt it yourself, I bet. You hurt all the time, you’re restless, you can’t think straight, you sort of wish you were dead but what you really want is for everything to be the same as it was when you were still with her ... or him.
In my case, her name was Holly Johnson.
God. I’d better not get started on her. Suffice it to say I fell in love with Holly with all my stupid heart and soul last spring when we were both sophomores at Willmington University. And she seemed to be in love with me. But then the semester ended. I went home to Mill Valley and she went home to Seattle where she worked as a guidance counselor at some sort of fucking summer camp and got involved with some other counselor. Only I didn’t hear about that until two weeks into the fall semester. I knew she wasn’t on campus, but didn’t know why. Her sorority sisters pleaded ignorance. On the phone, her mother was evasive. ‘Holly isn’t home just now, but I’ll tell her you called.’
Then, on October first, a letter came. ‘Dear Ed, I will always cherish the times we had ...’ And so on. It might as well have been a letter bomb ... a letter carrying a voodoo bomb that first killed me, then resurrected me as a zombie.
The night after receiving the letter, I stayed in my apartment all by myself, drinking vodka (bought by a friend of legal age) and orange juice until I passed out. In the morning, I cleaned up the vomit. Then I had to live through the worst hangover of my life. Luckily, the letter had arrived on Friday. By Monday, I’d mostly recovered from my hangover. But not from my loss.
I attended my classes, going through the motions, pretending to care, trying to act like the guy people knew as Ed Logan.
That night, I studied until about eleven o’clock. Tried to study is more like it. Though my eyes traveled over the lines of my book, my thoughts dwelled on Holly. I lingered on memories of her. And ached to have her back. And agonized over vivid images of her making love with my replacement, Jay. He’s so special and sensitive, her letter had said.
How could she fall in love with a guy named Jay?
I’d known three or four Jays, and every last one of them was an asshole.
He’s so special and sensitive.
I wanted to kill him.
I wanted to kill her.
I hated her, but I wanted her back. I pictured her return, myself weeping as we hugged and kissed. She was weeping, too, and gasping, ‘I love you so much, Ed. I’m so sorry I hurt you. I’ll never leave you again.’
Anyway, that’s how it was going Monday night. Around eleven, I gave up trying to study. I turned on the television, but just stared at the screen without really seeing what was there. I thought about going to bed, but knew I would end up wide awake, tormented by Holly and Jay.
At last, I decided to take a walk. Just to get out of my apartment. Just to be doing something. Just to kill time.
Thoreau wrote, ‘You can’t kill time without injuring eternity.’
Screw it, I thought. Screw Thoreau. Screw eternity. Screw everything.
I wanted to go out walking in the night and get lost in the night and never come back.
Maybe I would get hit by a car. Maybe someone would attack and murder me. Maybe I would hike on over to the train tracks and look for a train with my number on it. Or maybe I would just keep walking forever, out of town, out of the state, just out.
Out was where I wanted most to be.
Outside, the darkness smelled sweet and moist and a soft wind was blowing. The October night felt more like summer than fall. Soon, with the exertion of fast walking, I was sweating inside my chamois shirt and jeans. So I slowed down. I was in no hurry, after all.
Though I’d started out with no destination in mind, I found myself heading east.
No destination in mind?
Maybe, maybe not.
I hadn’t set off on my walk with any plan to make a pilgrimage to Holly’s sorority house, but that’s where I went. My feet seemed to take me there all on their own. Of course, that’s nonsense. I guided them there. We walked a route we had walked so many times before. Instead of hurrying eagerly to the front door, however, we crossed to the opposite side of the street. We didn’t stop, but walked very slowly.
There was the veranda where Holly and I had so often kissed goodnight - sometimes for an hour or longer.
There, one story up and three windows from the south corner, was the large picture window of Holly’s room. Her former room. The window was dark, now. Some other girl was probably asleep in the room behind it ... in the same bed where Holly used to sleep.
And where was Holly now? In her own bed in her parents’ house near Seattle? Or in Jay’s bed?
He’s probably fucking her right this second.
I could picture it. I could feel it. I could feel Holly’s soft, warm body under me, her eager mouth on my lips, her tongue in my mouth, one of her breasts in my hand, her slippery wet tightness hugging me.
Except it wasn’t me, it was Jay.
He’s so special and sensitive.
Managing a smile, I turned my head. ‘Oh, hi, Eileen.’
Eileen Danforth, one of Holly’s sorority sisters and best friends. She held some books and binders clutched against her chest. She was probably on her way back from studying in the library or the student union. The wind was blowing her long, dark hair.
‘How’s it going?’ she asked.
‘Guess you must’ve gotten Holly’s letter.’
Naturally, Eileen knew all about the letter.
‘Yeah,’ I said.
I nodded. I didn’t trust myself to speak.
‘Just between you and me, I think Holly blew it.’
‘Can’t imagine what got into her.’
‘I can,’ I muttered.
Eileen’s face twitched slightly as if she felt a small, sharp pain. ‘Yeah,’ she said. ‘Me, too. I’m really sorry.’
She sighed and shook her head. ‘It’s really a shame. Who knows, though? Maybe you’re better off.’
‘Doesn’t feel that way.’
Eileen pressed her lips together. She almost looked ready to cry. ‘I know how it feels,’ she said. ‘God, do I ever.’ She lifted her eyebrows. ‘So, did you just come over here to stare at the house?’
I shook my head. ‘I’m on my way to the donut shop.’
‘At this hour?’
‘It’s open all night.’
‘I know, but ... it’s really out there.’
‘I’ve got nothing better to do.’
She looked into my eyes for a while. Then she said, ‘Could you use some company? Just give me a couple of minutes to drop off my books, and ...’
I was shaking my head. ‘I think I’d rather be alone.’
‘You shouldn’t walk all that way by yourself.’
‘I’ll be fine.’
‘It’s the middle of the night.’
‘I know, but...’
‘Let me come with you, okay?’
I shook my head again. ‘Maybe some other night.’
‘Well, it’s up to you. I don’t want to ... you know, make a nuisance out of myself.’
‘It’s not that.’
‘I know. I understand. You just want to be alone.’
‘But be careful, okay?’
‘I will be.’
‘And don’t do anything ... crazy.’
‘I’ll try not to.’
‘It isn’t the end of the world, you know.’
I figured my mother would say exactly the same thing if and when I phoned home and explained about Holly.
‘Just seems that way,’ Eileen added.
I don’t think Mom would’ve added that.
‘Yeah,’ I said.
‘But things’ll get better. They really will. You’ll meet someone else ...’
That would probably be my father’s commentary.
‘You’ll fall in love again.’
‘God, I hope not.’
‘Don’t say that.’
‘Do me a favor, okay? Bring me back a couple of donuts?’ This was Eileen to the hilt. I knew she wasn’t making the request simply due to a fondness for donuts - though Dandi’s were spectacular. For one thing, she had a car; she could drive out to Dandi Donuts whenever the mood struck her. For another, she was slender and very pretty and tried to stay that way by avoiding such delicacies as donuts.