Fiends ssc, p.10
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       Fiends SSC, p.10

           Richard Laymon
 
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  ‘Where’re you headed?’ he asked.

  ‘Gribsby.’

  ‘I’m going as far as Marshall.’

  ‘Oh, that’s fine.’ Her voice seemed awfully cheerful for so late at night. ‘That’s great. I’m sure I’ll be able to find a ride from Marshall.’

  ‘Probably.’

  She sighed loudly with relief or pleasure.

  She folded her arms below her breasts, slouched down in the seat, and smiled at him. ‘This is great,’ she said. ‘It sure feels good to be heading home.’

  31

  Rolling over, Marty crossed an arm over her face to block the bright sunlight. Then she opened her eyes. When the air touched them, they felt raw and burning. She saw that she was stretched out along the edge of a forest.

  For a while, she didn’t remember. Then it all came back. She moaned as it poured into her like a foul liquid, burning and nauseating.

  Suddenly, she sat up. She could see the road.

  The road, but no car.

  Willy was gone!

  The quick movement did it. She twisted sideways and threw up. When the convulsions stopped, she crawled away from the mess.

  She heard a car coming. Afraid Willy might be returning, she flattened herself on the ground. After it was gone, she got slowly to her feet. She leaned against the trunk of a birch tree and felt blood begin to trickle down her back.

  The forest seemed safer than the road, so she walked into it. Walking hurt badly. Her head was the worst part. It jolted with each step and throbbed madly every time she bent to pass beneath a low limb.

  At last, she came to a sunny clearing. Maybe the same clearing as last night. She couldn’t be sure. It didn’t matter, though. The clearing was bright and well hidden. She only cared about that.

  Lying face down on the tall grass, she found it softer than she hoped. It didn’t even feel scratchy on her bare arms and legs. It simply matted down under her, soft and dry, as if it had been put there especially to serve as her bed.

  She lay with her eyes shut, half awake, half dreaming, and at first she thought that the quietly approaching footsteps were part of her dream. Then she opened her eyes and saw a pair of moccasins.

  32

  Willy stretched and groaned with lazy pleasure. The sun felt so hot and good. If it weren’t for his bastard of a headache, life would be perfect.

  The bitch had really given him a wallop with that gun.

  He grinned. He’d really given her a wallop, too. With a different kind of gun.

  He opened his eyes, lifted his head and looked down his sweaty body at it. Wouldn’t do at all if it got sunburned. Especially not now, with so much good stuff ahead.

  Speaking of which…

  He got off the blanket and walked to his shack. ‘Here I am, sweetums. William the Conqueror.’ He posed in the doorway flexing his muscles.

  The girl in the shadows shut her eyes. She lay curled on her side on the mattress, naked, her arms handcuffed behind her back.

  Reaching high, Willy plucked a key down from the top of the doorframe. ‘Have you been a good girl?’ he asked, walking toward her.

  ‘Yes,’ she muttered.

  ‘Do you want William to let you go?’

  Her eyes opened and she nodded.

  Willy leaned over her with the key, opened the left cuff, then the right. His fingers came away bloody. He wiped them on the white skin of the girl’s buttocks.

  ‘Now put on your beautiful dress,’ he told her.

  She sat up and brought her arms slowly in front of her. She frowned at her raw, bloody wrists.

  ‘Oh, did I have the cuffs too tight?’ Willy asked.

  ‘Where are we going?’ the girl asked.

  ‘It’s a surprise.’

  She tried to pick up her shining, paisley dress, but her hands wouldn’t work. The dress fell. Willy picked it up. She raised her arms, and he put it over them. It drifted down her body.

  Willy helped her to stand. Then he fastened every button on the dress.

  ‘Let’s go outside,’ he said.

  As she stepped out the doorway, she raised an arm to shade her face from the noon sun.

  ‘Bright, huh?’

  She said nothing.

  Willy picked up his handcuffs and rope, then followed her outside. ‘Go over to that dead tree,’ he told her.

  She looked around at him. She glanced at the rope and cuffs in his hand. Then she looked toward the woods that began several yards to the left of the white, barkless poplar.

  ‘Don’t try to run,’ he said. ‘I’ll just chase you down, and then I’ll really have some fun with you.’

  She walked to the dead tree.

  ‘That’s right. Good girl. Now put out your hands. That's a good girl.’

  Her eyes stayed on his eyes, making him a little nervous as he handcuffed her wrists. He knotted the rope to the chain between the bracelets, then flung the coil over a high, thick branch of the poplar. It dropped on the other side. He took the end and began to pull, raising the girl’s arms.

  ‘I haven’t given you any trouble,’ she said quietly. ‘I’ve done everything you asked, no matter how… no matter what it was. Why do you have to hurt me?’

  "Cause I like it.’ He tied the rope to the trunk of the dead tree. ‘See how nice I am? I’m leaving you on your feet. Or would you rather sort of dangle?’

  She shook her head.

  ‘Now guess what I’m going to do,’ he said.

  Staring into his eyes, she said, ‘I don’t know.’

  ‘Come on, guess.’ His hands roamed the shiny, slick cloth. It was already hot from the sun. He felt her body through it.

  The girl gritted her teeth.

  ‘Gonna rip the dress off you,’ Willy said.

  ‘No, don’t. Please. It was a present. Don’t wreck it.’

  He slapped her face.

  Then, growling like a dog, sometimes biting the skin underneath, he slowly shredded the dress with his teeth. The girl cried as he ripped. When she finally was naked, he took her from behind with quick hard thrusts that rammed her up off her feet.

  Later, he left her hanging in the sun.

  He rested in a shaded place near the car and enjoyed the view.

  33

  When Marty opened her eyes, there was no longer a headache behind them. The curtains rustled with a mild breeze. Light slanted down through the window, laying a slab of gold on the floor. A clock by the bed showed 3:15.

  Sitting up, she looked in front of her. A dresser, a closet. Heavy hiking boots stood on the closet floor next to a pair of sneakers. On hangers, she saw a plaid lumberjack coat among many shirts, a dark suit, a colorful sport coat and a white terry-cloth bathrobe.

  She got up. The mirror above the dresser threw back her reflection, stunning her. She hardly looked like herself. Her face was swollen and discolored. Her hair was a wild tangle.

  Well, her right profile didn’t look too bad. Willy had only struck the left side of her face.

  Why did he leave me?

  She didn’t want to think about it.

  She opened the bedroom door. The living room was darker and cooler than the bedroom. ‘Jack?’ she called softly. No answer came. ‘Jack?’ Nothing. She walked across the rug, then out the front door. He wasn’t on the porch.

  He was gone?

  Back inside the cabin, she shut the door and locked it. Then she ran to the kitchen and locked the back door. She peaked inside a utility closet. She checked the bathroom. A closet in the living room. Behind all the furniture.

  Not looking for Jack anymore.

  Searching for Willy.

  Shaking and chilled, she shut herself into the bedroom.

  ‘You’re a fine specimen,’ she told the face in the mirror.

  The normal side of her face smiled nervously; the swollen side hardly moved.

  Turning around, she stared over her shoulder at the mirror’s image of her back. The knit jersey was torn in a few places midway down. It was stiff a
nd brown near the rips.

  She took it off.

  The large, square bandage - applied by Jack after carrying her to his cabin - was white except for a tiny dot of blood in its center. All around the bandage, her skin was stained. All the way down to her waist. The shorts had soaked up a lot of blood. She took them off.

  Dropping the clothes in a heap, she stepped to the closet. She took down the robe. Its hanger fell, making a tinny ping when it hit the hardwood floor. She crouched to pick it up, being careful to keep her back straight so the cuts wouldn’t pull.

  It was then that she saw the dark, glossy stock. She pushed some clothes aside. Propped against a back corner of the closet stood a double-barreled shotgun. Sweeping hangers away, Marty pressed between two clean shirts. They felt cool and fresh on her skin. She hoped that the blood stains on her back were dry.

  Her hand closed around the wide, side-by-side barrels. She lifted. The shotgun was heavy. With her arm outstretched, she could barely raise it off the floor. So she dragged it out of the closet.

  The shotgun had two triggers. It also had a hammer at the back of each barrel. There was a lever between the hammers. She pressed it sideways with her thumb.

  The barrels suddenly dropped, nearly wrenching the weapon from her grip. They hung toward the floor, connected to the stock by a hinge. In each chamber was a round, brass disk with a little nub in the center.

  It’s loaded.

  Marty rested the barrels against the floor, then lifted the stock until the latch snapped. The shotgun was whole again. She returned it to the closet and straightened the hangers in front of it.

  Then she put on the robe. It was far too big. She rolled up its sleeves and tied its cloth belt.

  ***

  Jack was still gone when she went into the bathroom. She took a long shower. Then she dried herself carefully, surprised by the number of cuts and bruises she discovered.

  She put on the robe and tied its belt snugly. There was a comb by the sink. She did the best she could with her hair, and opened the bathroom door.

  Jack looked up from a magazine. ‘How you doing?’ he asked.

  ‘A lot better than a few hours ago.’

  ‘Glad to hear it.’ He unrolled a leather pouch and started loading tobacco into his pipe.

  ‘Sure is nice of you to help me.’ She sat on a rocker across from him. ‘Do you mind me borrowing your robe?’

  ‘Not at all.’

  ‘My things are a mess.’

  ‘I noticed.’ He struck a match and sucked its flame down to the surface of the tobacco. ‘Did you sleep well?’

  ‘Great.’

  Jack tamped down the loose ash in his pipe and lit another match. As he drew the flame into the briar bowl, he looked at Marty and raised his eyebrows. He blew a cloud of smoke.

  ‘Smells like a cake baking,’ Marty said. ‘A chocolate cake.’

  Jack shrugged.

  ‘Would it be all right if I use your telephone? I’d like to call my parents and let them know I’m okay.’

  ‘Help yourself.’

  ‘I’ll call collect.’

  ‘No need.’

  The telephone was on a lamp table at the end of the sofa. Marty stood up and went over to it. She picked up the handset, then tapped in the numbers.

  Sitting down on the sofa, she listened to the ringing.

  Someone picked up. ‘Hello?’ asked her father. He sounded tense. ‘Hi, Dad.’

  ‘Marty! My God! Are you all right?’

  ‘I’m okay.’

  ‘What in the name of God…?’

  ‘I was kidnapped.’

  ‘Kidnapped?’

  ‘I just got away a little while ago. I’m all right. You and Mom can stop worrying about me.’

  ‘We’ve been basket cases.’

  ‘It’s all right now. I’m not sure when I’ll be home, but…’

  ‘Where are you? Where are you calling from?’

  ‘A place in the woods. Anyway, I’m fine. I’ve got to get going, now.’

  ‘Marty…’

  ‘Give my love to Mom.’

  ‘Marty, for…’

  ‘Bye for now, Dad,’ she said, and hung up.

  ‘Short but sweet,’ she said to Jack, and tried to smile. ‘I just didn’t want to get into it, you know?’ She made a small laugh. ‘Besides, it was long distance and you were paying.’

  ‘You were actually kidnapped?’ Jack asked, and puffed on his pipe.

  ‘Yeah.’

  ‘Guess we’d better make a call to the police.’

  ‘Could it wait? I’m still… I don’t know. I feel like I need some time, or…’

  ‘The sooner you get to the police, the sooner they’ll put your kidnappers out of commission.’

  ‘Kidnapper. Only one.’

  ‘Don’t you think you should call the police?’

  Marty looked into Jack’s eyes. They were gentle, confident, comforting. He seemed like a man who knew things and could handle tough situations. She would be safe with him. ‘How about tomorrow?’ she asked.

  ‘Fine with me.’

  ‘Can I stay here till then?’

  ‘You’re welcome to stay as long as you want.’

  ‘Really? As long as I want?’

  ‘Sure.’ He grinned and puffed his pipe. ‘Long as you behave yourself.’

  34

  Willy took a red bandanna out of his jeans and wiped the sweat off his face. ‘Hotter than boiled piss,’ he said.

  But the shack was just ahead. He would be there in a minute or so. About time! Two hours was too damn long to be tromping through the boonies, especially in this kind of heat.

  He was glad he’d done it, though. Now he was sure they were alone. No sign of humanity anywhere nearby. He sure had found himself a great place for a hideout - or Dewey had.

  I oughta drop Dewey a card, he though. ‘Hello from your old stomping grounds,’ he said aloud.

  The girl, apparently hearing him, lifted her head. She was still standing, arms high, under the tree. And still on her feet to keep her weight off the handcuffs.

  ‘Hi, sweet stuff. Miss me?’

  She squinted at him and said nothing.

  ‘Looks like you got yourself a little sun,’ Willy said, and laughed.

  Where she’d had a tan before, her skin now had a deep, rosy glow. Where her skin had been white, she now appeared to be wearing a bright red bikini.

  Willy dragged a fingernail down her breast.

  She flinched and made a hissing sound between her teeth.

  The scratch from his fingernail looked blue-white for a moment, then went red.

  ‘Hurt?’Willy asked.

  ‘Yes.’

  ‘Tough titty.’ He laughed.

  35

  ‘Are you hungry?' Jack asked. ‘I picked up a couple of steaks in town this afternoon.’

  ‘Great. I’m starved.’

  ‘Okay. Why don’t you go on and get dressed, and I’ll start the barbecue?’

  Marty felt her skin heat with embarrassment as she thought about the torn, filthy rags on the bedroom floor. ‘Won’t this do?’ she asked, glancing down at the white robe.

  ‘We don’t know each other well enough,’ he said.

  Marty smiled. ‘Oh. I see.’

  ‘Go change,’ he said.

  She went into the bedroom. On the bed lay two green shopping bags. Inside them she found a white blouse, a pale blue skirt, panties and a bra, and a shoe box containing a pair of white sneakers.

  All brand new, the tags still on them.

  Blushing, she called out, ‘Thank you, Jack! They’re great!’

  ‘You’re welcome,’ he called from somewhere beyond the shut door.

  Marty took off the robe. She hung it in the closet, glimpsing the shotgun’s stock before she turned away. Then she removed the bandage from her back and made a new one. After that, she removed the tags from the clothes. She started to get dressed.

  The bra was slightly too large.


  ‘Wishful thinking,’ she muttered. Laughing quietly, she put it on anyway.

  Everything else fit well. Looking at herself in the brand new clothes, she felt clean and fresh and very safe.

  The night with Willy seemed far away.

  Until she saw her face in the mirror.

  That brought it all back. Her stomach twisted. She crouched on the floor, shivering, hugging her belly. Then, like an icy wind, it passed. She hurried outside.

  The afternoon sun was hot and calming.

  She found Jack behind the cabin, standing at a red brick barbecue.

  ‘The clothes are wonderful,’ she said.

  ‘You look great.’

  ‘If you’re into battered, bruised and ugly.’

  He laughed. ‘I must admit, I would be interested in seeing what you look like when you haven’t just been beaten to a pulp.’

  ‘Consider it done. It’s the least I can do for you.’

  36

  Willy came out of the shack. He was naked. He held his red bandanna in one hand, his leather belt in the other.

  The girl raised her head and opened her eyes.

  ‘This is gonna hurt, sweetie. But don’t scream too loud, or I’ll have to gag you. You wouldn’t want that. My hanky’s got boogers in it.’

  Her dry lips stuck together when she tried to open her mouth. Then they peeled apart. She licked them, and asked in a raspy whisper, ‘Why are you doing this to me?’

  ‘Because I can?’

  He began to swing his belt.

  37

  When Jack drove her into the town of Wayside that evening, it looked different from the night before. Golden in the lowering sun. Busy, yet peaceful. And crowded. A dozen people stood in line at the movie theater.

  ‘Would you like to see a show?’ Jack asked.

  ‘Would you?’

  ‘Sure.’

  Jack parked the car, and they walked to the theater. Inside, they found seats near the front. The lights faded out. And the previews started.

  Marty could hardly believe that she was safe and watching a movie.

 
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