Fiends ssc, p.11
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       Fiends SSC, p.11

           Richard Laymon
 
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  Only two nights ago, she’d been in a theater with Dan.

  She’d spotted Willy…

  For the next couple of hours, she stared at the enormous screen but noticed little that was on it. She dwelled on the screen in her mind, the one that played a horrible film about Willy.

  In that film, she relived it all.

  Again and again.

  Marty was pulled out of it when the lights came up. She found that she was squeezing Jack’s hand.

  On the way out of town, Jack asked if she would like some ice cream.

  ‘Sure,’ she said.

  They stopped at the Wayside Motor Inn, and each had a hot fudge sundae at its all-night burger joint.

  Then they were in the car again, rushing along the dark, twisting road.

  ‘Gives me the creeps,’ Marty said. She slid across the seat, close to Jack. He put an arm across her shoulders.

  ‘You don’t need to be afraid.’

  ‘He’s still out there,’ she said.

  ‘But he doesn’t have you. Not anymore. And tomorrow we’ll go to the police.’

  ‘Will you come with me?’

  ‘Of course.’

  ‘What if Willy comes for me tonight?’

  ‘He won’t.’

  ‘He might already be at your cabin waiting for us.’

  Jack’s hand went to the back of her neck. Gently and firmly, he rubbed her there. ‘He won’t get you. Not tonight. Not while I’m around.’

  38

  ‘You look good in stripes. Anyone ever tell you that?’ Laughing, Willy scraped the bottom of his chili can. Then he licked the spoon. ‘That was funny. Why aren’t you laughing?’

  The girl, sitting on the mattress with her legs crossed, said nothing. She gazed sullenly down at the can of chili in her hand. ‘By the way, sweetie, what’s your name?’

  She scooped a spoonful of chili into her mouth.

  A flashlight lay on the table beside the big, battery powered lantern that lit the center of the room. Willy picked it up, turned it on, and threw its beam in her face.

  She shut her puffy eyelids.

  ‘What’s your name?’ Willy repeated. And then he remembered a game he used to play when he was a kid. He put down the flashlight. He went to the bed and knelt on it, facing the girl. She smelled like sweat and sex. ‘Now,’ he said, ‘what’s your name?’

  ‘Tina,’ she said.

  ‘You lie!’ he blurted, and smacked her hard in the face with his open hand. The blow turned her head sideways. ‘What’s your name?’ he asked again.

  She looked at him. She pressed her lips tightly together. They were cracked and bleeding. She said, ‘My name’s Tina.’

  ‘You lie!’ he yelled, and smacked the other side of her face. ‘What’s your name?’

  She glared at him. She said nothing.

  ‘YOU LIE!’ He swung. His hand clapped her cheek so hard his fingers tingled and blood flew off her lips.

  39

  ‘I’ll be just outside the door if you need me,’ Jack said from the bedroom doorway.

  ‘I need you,’ Marty said.

  He grinned. ‘Maybe some other time. Goodnight.’ He shut the door as he left.

  Marty turned off the bedroom light and stood in the darkness. She thought about going out to Jack. But she didn’t want to seem pushy.

  Some other time.

  She took off her clothes and climbed beneath the sheet, wishing he was there beside her, holding her close and warm. His strong arms around her. Caressing her. Not doing anything funny, just being gentle and safe…

  She woke up with a start.

  Her heart was slamming. Her bangs were plastered to her forehead with sweat and the bed was soaked beneath her. She lay there motionless, wondering what had shocked her awake.

  The room was pale with a creamy glow of moonlight. The door was still shut. Between the door and the dresser fell a shadow. The shadow was too small to conceal a person. But the open closet made a large darkness.

  He’s in there.

  Ago, he’s not. Don’t be ridiculous.

  He is!

  The sweat seemed to freeze on Marty’s skin. She pulled her top sheet up tightly under her chin.

  The only sound she could hear was her own loud, thudding heart.

  She glanced at the nightstand. There was no lamp on it.

  Scissors.

  After bandaging her back that morning, Jack had put them in a drawer of the nightstand. She’d used them, herself, just before supper.

  Now, where’d I put them?

  On the dresser.

  But the dresser stood beside the open closet.

  I’ll never make it. He’ll jump me before…

  Nobody’s in the closet!

  Willy is.

  Marty inched her leg toward the side of the mattress. After a long time, her right heel dropped over the edge. She kept moving her leg sideways, slowly, slowly, until it was off the mattress all the way to her rump. Her foot on the floor, she started sliding her left leg over.

  Eyes on the dark, open closet.

  He’s watching. If he starts coming, run for it.

  At last, both her feet were on the floor.

  She raised her back so gradually that the bedsprings hardly made a sound. They were nearly silent, too, when she leaned forward and eased her weight off the bed. She stood up straight, staring at the black closet.

  Nothing seemed to move in there.

  With six slow, careful steps, she reached the dresser. Her hand patted the top of it.

  And found the scissors.

  Picked them up. Clenched them tight.

  With the tightness of a scream growing in her chest, she sidestepped to the closet. Raising the scissors high, she lurched into the darkness. She drove them down, hard and silent.

  Pain seared her thigh.

  She tried to stifle her yelp of hurt surprise.

  Waving her other hand in the air, she caught the dangling string and pulled. The closet light came on.

  Nobody there.

  Nobody except Marty.

  Marty, naked and sweaty and shaking. Marty, scissors in her hand. Marty with a ragged red gash ripped across the inner side of her right thigh.

  She had a sudden urge to sit down on the closet floor and cry. Sit there and cry till dawn.

  Instead, she bandaged her leg.

  Then she got dressed, putting on the stiff, filthy shorts and jersey that Willy had stolen from the girl by the lake.

  Then she took the shotgun out of the closet.

  Sneaking through the dark house, she found Jack asleep on the living room sofa. She set down the shotgun. She found his trousers draped over a nearby chair.

  His keys were in the right front pocket. His wallet was in the left rear pocket.

  She took out a five-dollar bill and slipped the wallet back into his pocket. She kept the keys.

  She was tempted to kiss him before leaving.

  But she didn’t dare.

  He might wake up and not let her go.

  40

  Thrusting and shuddering, Willy erupted inside Tina. Then he relaxed on top of her.

  Somewhere along the line, she had fainted.

  Just as well. Willy hadn’t liked the way she’d just taken it, never saying a word even when the pain made her twitch and weep.

  He pulled out and sat back.

  A breeze was blowing through the open door and window, giving him goosebumps. He got up and shut them both. The handcuffs lay open on the table. He picked them up. Then he turned off the lantern and made his way through the darkness. He found the mattress, got to his knees, reached out and touched Tina. Her skin was hot. From its sticky ridges, he knew he was touching her back. He slid his hand down her rump and down the back of her leg to her ankle.

  He cuffed her left ankle. After sitting beside her, he attached the other cuff to his own left ankle. The bracelet was almost too small, but he managed to get it on.

  Then he unfolded a blanket and
lay back, covering himself. He stared at the dark ceiling.

  It had been a great day.

  Even if the girl wasn’t Marty.

  At least Marty got what was coming to her.

  He’d scared the shit out of her with the noose.

  He’d killed her boyfriend. Twice. He grinned. Not every prick gets to die twice.

  He’d fucked her. Got her in the mouth, too - almost.

  And he’d shot her dead.

  That old hollow-point sure made a mess of her back.

  He grinned, remembering how she’d been sprawled out in the moonlight, the blood all over her back.

  Too bad he’d had to kill her, though.

  He’d wanted Marty here, not Tina.

  Not that there’s anything wrong with Tina.

  Except she ain’t Marty.

  He sighed. Oh, the stuff I would’ve done to her…

  41

  The attendant at the all-night gas station raised his red, chubby face out of a comic book when Marty stepped up to the window. She smiled at him and slipped a five-dollar bill into the trough under the glass.

  ‘Pump number two,’ she said.

  He took the bill and nodded.

  ‘Could I ask you something?’ she said.

  He shrugged.

  Before she could start to ask for directions, he frowned and said, ‘What happened to your face?’

  She shrugged. ‘A guy hit me.’

  ‘Slugged you?’

  ‘Yeah. A few times.’

  ‘Sheesh. He really creamed you.’

  ‘I noticed. I felt it.’

  ‘What’d he wanta do that for?’

  ‘He’s just a jerk who likes to hurt people.’

  ‘Does it hurt a whole lot? Your face?’

  ‘Some.’

  ‘Guy must be a real creep.’

  ‘He is.’

  ‘Somebody oughta fix his wagon for him.’

  ‘Somebody plans to. Do you know where Cricket Lake is?’

  ‘Sure. You going there?’

  ‘Not exactly. I’m looking for a place close to Cricket, though. It’s a small lake. I don’t know its name, if it even has one.’

  ‘We got lakes like that all over the place.’

  ‘This one’s just west of Cricket.’

  ‘West?’

  ‘Yeah. It has a dirt road leading to it, and one cabin.’

  ‘Oh, I bet you mean the Dewey place.’

  ‘Maybe.’

  ‘The place that Jason Dewey hid out. A little shack by this lake. Jason Dewey, he hid out there… guess it must’ve been three summers back.’

  Marty shrugged her shoulders.

  ‘You know about Jason Dewey?’

  ‘No, but..

  ‘He’s the guy that chopped up that family down Hingston way. You must’ve heard about it. Made all the news. He hacked up the mother and father and all the kids, two or three kids - and the family parrot.’

  ‘A parrot?’

  ‘Yeah.’ He grinned. ‘He ate the parrot. Wild, huh? A real nutcase.’

  ‘He had a hideout somewhere near Cricket Lake?’

  ‘Sure did.’

  ‘How do I find it?’

  He gave her directions, but explained that she should wait for morning. ‘You ain’t gonna find the turn-off in the dark. But if you wanta wait till morning, I’ll take you out there myself.’

  ‘I have to go right now.’

  He looked disappointed. ‘You sure you can’t wait?’ he asked. ‘Sorry. But I’ve got a wagon to fix. Thanks for the information.’

  ‘Welcome.’

  ‘Pump number two,’ she reminded him.

  ‘Five bucks worth.’

  42

  Two miles west of Cricket Lake, Marty swung the car onto a meager dirt road and stopped. Turning sideways in her seat, she reached up and removed the plastic cover from the dome light. Then she twisted the bulb loose. She put the cover and bulb into Jack’s glove compartment, then started driving forward.

  The road, little more than a couple of wheel ruts, was hard to drive on. It threw the car around as if trying to rip the steering wheel out of her hands. She held on tightly, fighting to keep control.

  A rough bump jolted her teeth together and she bit her tongue. Tears blurred her vision. She didn’t dare let go of the wheel, so she tried to blink them away. It didn’t work. Tears still blinded her. So she gripped the wheel as hard as possible with her left hand and used her right to rub her eyes clear.

  Just then, the road turned.

  The car swerved out of the shallow ruts.

  She grabbed the wheel and steered along the overgrown center strip, bushes scraping against the right side of the car until she guided the tires again into their twin paths.

  She slowed down and took the road more carefully.

  Just take it easy. No big hurry. I’ve got all night.

  Just so I get there before morning.

  Catch him in his sleep.

  If he’s there.

  God, I hope he’s there…

  43

  ‘Hey,’Willy heard. Something shoved his shoulder. ‘Hey, wake up.’

  ‘Huh?’ he asked. ‘What?’

  ‘I’ve got to go,' Tina said.

  ‘What?’

  ‘I’ve gotta go to the bathroom.’

  ‘Shit.You gotta go now?'

  ‘I can’t help it.’

  ‘Shit,’ he said again. Then he said, ‘Okay, so I guess we gotta get up. We’re cuffed together, case you didn’t notice.’

  ‘I noticed.’

  Slowly, awkwardly, they both stood up in the darkness. Willy got behind Tina and steered her to the table. There, he turned on the lantern. ‘Okay, now we go outside.’

  ‘Together?’

  ‘If you think I’m gonna take off the cuffs at this hour, you’re outa your fucking mind. Let’s go.’

  As they walked in tandem toward the door, Willy saw their reflection in the window. It was the brand new window that he’d installed just before taking off to get Marty. ‘Hold it,’ he said, and grabbed her shoulders. ‘Get a load of the lovebirds. Almost as good as a mirror,’ he said.

  ‘Can we go?' Tina asked.

  ‘When I say so.’

  In the reflection, he watched his hands vanish behind her shoulders. They reappeared under her arms, then covered her breasts. Her breasts felt hot and slippery. He watched himself squeeze them, watched his fingers pinch her stiff nipples.

  She squirmed and made odd little noises in her throat, but didn’t protest.

  He’d grown hard. He rubbed himself against her back.

  In the reflection, he saw one of his hands glide down her belly. It continued downward and went too low to be seen in the window.

  He felt her moist curls.

  Then his fingertips spread her and slid in.

  He saw her smile in the glass.

  ‘Feels good, huh?’ he asked.

  ‘This does,' Tina said.

  The portrait shattered. Jagged shards exploded into the night outside. Others dropped from above. They plunged down like broken slabs of ice, stabbing and slicing her outstretched arm.

  Willy jerked her away from the broken window.

  ‘You bitch!’ he yelled as they both stumbled backward, cuffed at the ankles. ‘You stupid bitch! You busted my fuckin’ window!’

  When they fell, Tina landed on top of him. She squirmed and thrashed. Her back and buttocks were hot and slippery. Willy liked how they felt, sliding against his skin.

  He didn’t know that she was clutching a spike of broken glass until she started to use it on him.

  44

  After what seemed like more than an hour of slow driving through the woods, Marty rumbled down a slope and spotted a rock, pale in the moonlight, resting in the strip between the ruts.

  She jammed on the brakes.

  Not quick enough.

  The rock scraped and thundered against the car’s undercarriage.

  When the noise st
opped, she wiped the sweat out of her eyes. She eased her foot onto the gas pedal. The car started slowly forward.

  Then she saw it.

  Ten feet ahead, shining in a stray slant of moonlight, was the rear window of another car.

  Willy’s car. The one he’d taken after killing the two men on the roadside last night.

  Marty hit the brakes and turned off the engine. She opened her door, glad she’d taken care of the ceiling light.

  She climbed out and dragged the shotgun after her. Propping its stock on the ground, she crouched behind her open door. She cocked both hammers.

  Looking over the top of the door, she could only see the back of Willy’s car. She gazed at its trunk. Beneath the dark curving metal, Dan lay dead.

  Unless Willy’d moved him.

  Dan.

  She turned her eyes away from the trunk.

  To each side of Willy’s car, she could see woods. But not much else, not from her crouched position behind the door. She didn’t want to stand up. She liked it fine behind the solid, protective door. But there was no choice.

  Slowly, she stood up straight.

  She gazed into the darkness, half expecting a gunshot to crack the silence.

  No, she thought. He won’t shoot me.

  He had shot at her before, but only to stop her from escaping. This time, she wasn’t trying to escape; she was coming to him. He would want her alive.

  Hefting the shotgun, she rushed, crouching, to the front of his car. There, she knelt down by the tire. After taking a moment to catch her breath, she raised her head and looked up the road.

  The shack, less than fifty yards away, was probably no bigger than her bedroom at home. The walls looked like pale, weathered wood. From where she crouched, she could see a door and a window. The window was lit by a dim, hazy glow. As if a flashlight might be on inside the shack.

  She shivered and felt the hairs rise on the back of her neck.

  Is he up? she wondered. At this hour?

  Up or not, this is it.

  ‘Here I come, Willy,’ she whispered. ‘Ready or not.’

  And she was up and running, shotgun heavy in her hands, pine needles crunching under her shoes, running, fingertip sliding through the trigger guard, running, stopping at the shack’s wall, thrusting the barrels in through the broken window…

 
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