Sunday, May 21, 2017

KINGDOM of the ANTS part 2

Copyright (c) 2017 by Randall R. Peterson ALL RIGHTS RESERVED This is a work of fiction. All persons, locations and actions are from the author's imagination or have been used in a fictitious manner.



By R. Peterson

Joanie Otter knew something unusual was happening even before she showered in ice cold water, and started applying Lime Crime black lipstick. All three of the moon glow junipers outside her upstairs window were whispering together. The two-inch long crystal she wore on a silver chain around her neck was putting off strange pulsations almost as if creatures that weren’t supposed to were trying to communicate with her.
Joanie rolled her eyes and spit the F word three times when she saw the cerise Gucci pants and matching blouse her mother had placed on the cabinet next to the sink; they must have cost a fortune. Joanie knocked them onto the wet floor and used them to wipe up the water, wishing she would have done it when her feet were still dirty. Her mother hated how she dressed in her senior year of high school, but even the mayor of Cloverdale’s daughter had to choreograph her own death. Joanie knew the truth: all living things on the planet were actually in the process of dying. Why try to deny it? She dropped the wet designer clothes in the toilet bowl and closed the lid. Maybe now “Mrs. Cleaver” and her LSD - Ladies for Student Development friends would take the hint.
Her mother was yelling again from downstairs about the time. Joanie put in a CD of Siouxsie and the Banshees and cranked up the volume on Passenger to earthquake levels to drown out the sound.
            Even though she was on the thin side, Joanie struggled to get into short black denim pants so tight they looked painted on. Black garters supported black bell-bottom leggings exposing three inches of creamy white thigh. The black mesh-top sleeveless shirt with a satanic star woven with silver thread on the front barely covered her small breasts. Separate black sleeves went from her wrists to just past her elbows. She dried her straight shoulder length ebony hair with a towel and shook it out.  Joanie could hear distant rumblings when she put on her crystal earrings and silver bracelets. It sounded like millions of tiny grinding teeth with thrashing legs were blowing up a storm. Better go easy on the pocket-niners. (Ecstasy-pills) 
The nine-buckle boots, with two inch stomps, had a hidden zipper and were very tight but easy to put on. Joanie wanted to get to school early to blow doom crumbs with Bitch and Babybat. Two new kindergoths, Kent Lopez and Scotty Target, were scheduled to be tar-tongued (initiated into the coven) on Saturday night. They better each have a crystal soaked with virgin blood! The nineteenth was the only black wedding in April (first full moon). Joanie was feeling euphoric, excited and desperate.
Something uber-dangerous was coming to Cloverdale, Joanie could sense it, the crystal necklace she wore accentuated her perceptions, but she didn’t think it was Abra Cadaver the rival coven from Salt Lake City or Mortuary Frost the smaller one from Anaconda … although both groups had been extra threatening as of late and a territorial war was definitely coming.
Ham, Abra Cadaver’s reining Doom Queen, had sent Joanie a crushed black rose with a shredded stem inside a plastic bag filled with blood, urine and feces. Joanie sent Ham a huge rotting cucumber with a condom stretched over one end and a black post-it note attached that said stick it written with white chalk. The message was clear, the vicious Mormon-spawned bitch intended to eradicate Joanie’s coven and drown her in the Cottonmouth River or even worse in Cloverdale’s crumbling sewer system. The Cloverbone Coven was her responsibility. If Joanie didn’t destroy all enemies, things could get new sod ugly for the members … and for her fishy - wet and forever cold. And she was still plowing bones … (looking for answers).
Two new kindergoth might help. Joanie hated Ham and the Margaret Hamilton bicycle she always appeared riding after an impressive Mansonite bang of smoke. Big cities could bleed gallons more effects than the tiny. Abra Cadaver had almost thirty forks (boy members) and forty spoons (girl members). Joanie stumbled as she rushed down the stairs and almost fell.
Margaret Otter gasped. “Joanie, be careful!” Then she tried to hand her fleeing daughter a plate of scrambled eggs, toast and a glass of milk.
“I’m on a f#$%$#$ diet mother!” Joanie screamed as she ran through the kitchen. “Don’t be a smell that follows!”
“But you’re over five-foot seven … and you barely weigh a hundred and nine pounds!”
“I know that, mother! Don’t be a f#$%$%# doom cookie!” Joanie yelled as she slammed the front door hard enough to make screws pull out from the hinges.

-------2-------

The Federal Bureau of Land Management was charged with eradicating the two-hundred acre swarm of murderous bugs moving across south-western Montana. Local newspapers and nation television were calling it an Ant Farm. The governor had declared a state of emergency after the insects were blamed for at least nine deaths and a hundred million dollars in property damage. James M. Billman oversaw the loading of three air-tankers filled with two thousand gallons of concentrated Pyrethroids in Missoula airport. “As if range fires aren’t bad enough now we have ants crashing every picnic in the Big Sky state,” he grumbled as the planes took off.
Twenty minutes later all three pilots radioed that the poison had been successfully delivered. “Any chance of survivors?” Billman radioed back.
“Negative,” all three pilots declared. “If the poison itself didn’t kill them … they are surely drowned.”
No one was on the ground near the moving army of ants and didn’t see the millions of tiny holes they had dug deep into the earth just before the chemicals splashed down.

-------3-------

Kent Lopez was overjoyed with his new found powers. He paid Cloverdale’s local jeweler twenty bucks to mount the crystal and attach it to a silver chain. Just by holding the crystal in his hand and thinking about something, he was able to make it happen. “How about letting me wear the crystal for a while before we have to give it up,” Scotty Target suggested when they were gathering books out of their lockers for third hour geometry class. He was thinking about the Cloverbone initiation on Saturday night. “After all we both found it!”
Kent was annoyed with his friend’s persistent claims to something that was obviously his. The whole Goth thing was beginning to seem stupid and childish. “Not until I discover its secrets,” he said. Marsha Hicks happened to be walking down the hall alone. Kent thought she looked exceptionally fine in a short skirt and a tight Cashmere sweater. “Let’s see if those things you’re covering up are real or not,” Kent mouthed the words as he rubbed the crystal and stared. Marsha stopped suddenly and dropped the armload of books she was carrying. She lifted up her sweater with both hands exposing her bra-covered breasts while looking up and down the hallway with eyes like two vacant burned-out buildings. Suddenly she realized what she was doing, pulled the sweater back down, picked her books off the floor and ran down the crowded hallway amongst a chorus of hysterical laughter.
            “Did you make her do that?” Scotty staring was in awe.
            “Perhaps,” Kent said, “or maybe we just got lucky.” Kent smiled as he tucked the crystal back under his shirt. ‘It’s good to be king.”

-------4-------

Joanie wasn’t as surprised as she should have been when she opened her locker with a key and found a dead rat hanging from fishing line with a silver-fork stuck through its neck. Still she dropped her books. She had been expecting this. Ham’s powers were second to none. The word Cadaver was written on the back of the locker with red fingernail polish along with words Froth Moon. The dead rat meant it was a fight to the death and Ham and her coven would be waiting for them Saturday at midnight in Black Rose cemetery. Baby Bat came up behind her. “What’s wrong?”
“Everything,” Joanie told her. “We have a fight coming and we’re outnumbered.”
“Mortuary Frost?” Marsha smiled. “I think even with just eleven we can make them go soft.”
“Ham sent me a message.” Joanie opened her locker to show her best friend. “She wants me banned from the planet and Cloverbone scattered in the wind.”
Marsha let put a hushed shriek and stepped back when she saw the tortured animal. “How did she get in your locker?”
            “Who knows,” Joanie said looking up and down the busy hallway. “Ham has spies everywhere.” She fingered the crystal hanging around her neck and glared at a pimple-faced sophomore stumbling past with an armload of books. “Naked, sex, boobs, look ….” Joanie chanted. Robert Maxwell stared straight ahead refusing to divert his eyes. “It could be him,” Joanie said. “Either that, or he’s scratching a different itch.”
            “Maxwell is just afraid of spilling his milk,” Marsha snickered. “I heard him crying in confession and telling Father Walters that he’d looked at a Playboy while washing dishes at Spare-A-Dime.
Joanie wasn’t convinced. “A ribbon like that is easy for a grave-queen like Ham to control with her powers.”
            “Speaking of power,” Marsha said. “You’re future Deathbats approach.
Kent Lopez and Scotty Target danced down the hallway as if they owned the school and everyone in it. Joanie felt the crystal around her neck vibrate and knew the pair possessed at least one of their own … and it was very powerful.
            “Remember,” Joanie told Kent when he ambled up to her. “Your crystals have to be soaked in the blood of a virgin before Saturday night.”
            “Just a prick of your finger … from either of you … should do the trick,” Marsha snickered.
            “I haven’t been a virgin since I was twelve years old,” Kent boasted; Joanie knew he was lying. “And I think we have the blood thing covered.”
            “We’re sharing a crystal because it’s extra-large,” Scotty blurted.
            “I’ll decide whether you share a crystal or a pine box,” Joanie told him. “Let’s have a look.”
Kent reluctantly removed the crystal from his shirt casting sly glances up and down the hall to make sure no-one was looking.
            Joanie and Marsha gasped when they saw the magnificent stone. “Where did you get that?” Marsha squealed.
            “Let’s just say I was victorious over an army of thousands.” Kent smiled.
            “We were victorious … and it was more than thousands,” Scotty added.
            “Whatever,” Joanie couldn’t take her eyes off the stone. “Make sure to coat it with virginal blood, cut your own finger if you have to, but both of you be at Black Rose Cemetery by eleven on Saturday night.
            “I thought a Black Wedding was always held at midnight,” Kent tucked the crystal back inside his shirt.
            “There’s a Baking Contest scheduled in that time slot,” Marsha injected.
            “We need two new Gravers to bring our Deathbats up to thirteen otherwise we fade by default … so we’ll push things up an hour!” Joanie tried to project a confidence that she didn’t feel
            “What are you chicks baking?” Both girls could tell Scotty was serious.
            “Ham,” Joanie told him. “Cloverbone is hopefully baking a big juicy ham.”


-------5-------

On Saturday morning, a gasoline delivery driver filling underground tanks at the Conoco station/convenience store just outside of Cloverdale called 911 in a panic. Sheriff Walker and two deputies responded fifteen minutes later. The last three days had been Hell for Montana law enforcement. It didn’t look like a robbery had taken place; all the money was still in the cash register and the only thing that appeared to be missing was a half-dozen 100 lb. sacks of sugar from the grocery section. The attendant, Charles Adams, who lived upstairs with his wife June was found in the garage part of the building. Someone or something had peeled every ounce of meat and gristle from his body and left his bloody skeleton hanging four feet off the ground from an air-powered lube hose. Sheriff Walker turned his head away respectfully as one of his deputies vomited. The sheriff went through the cash register receipts, Charlie hadn’t been to the bank in over a week, and the sheriff noticed a gas credit card receipt from three days earlier billed to Alfonzo Lopez and signed by his son Kent but thought nothing of it.
            Presumably Mrs. Adams was found in the bathroom upstairs. Only a few teeth remained in the woman’s skull and the sheriff hoped these would lead to a positive identification. The bloody mass inside the still warm soapy water in the bathtub was unrecognizable.
Sheriff Walker stared at the thousands of lines trailing across the bloody floor in the garage and on the stairs coming from the living quarters. It looked as if someone with shaky hands had tried to clean up with a stiff bristle broom. Oddly, the lines ended at an old unused well behind the building. The sheriff put in a request to the FBI office in Butte to have a special confined-space repelling and diving team check it out but was informed it would be after the weekend before they could respond.
Sheriff Walker shook his head. It wasn’t even the end of April and with a dozen unexplained deaths in Comanche County was gearing up for the deadliest summer on record.

-------6-------

            Joanie and the other ten members of Cloverbone assembled at Black Rose Cemetery an hour before Kent and Scotty were supposed to appear and two hours before the scheduled fight to the death with Abra Cadaver. Marsha (Baby Bat) had wanted to contact Hermie, the demon inside Joanie’s Ouija board, and ask the spirit for help but Joanie’s mother and her PTA LSD (Ladies for Student Development) friends had taken possession of the strange oracle a year before and refused to give it back. Joanie thought she knew why. Her mother had become mayor of Cloverdale and her friends had all prospered in commerce and romance since they started having weekly talks with the spirit in the basement of the Comanche County Library.
            The old Negro woman the cemetery was named after was buried in the back with family members and the huge slab of granite that covered her resting place was one of the oldest stones in the graveyard. Marsha used the time waiting for Kent and Scotty to draw a crude copy of the Ouija board on the stone surface with white chalk. The Cloverbone members gathered around the stone and Marsha used a triangular block of wood for a Planchette. A deep rumbling sound and flashes of lightning made the sky look like a battleground. “We have to hurry before the rain washes away the chalk.” Marsha placed one finger on the pointer and Joanie and the nine others did the same. She made her voice low, respectful and as loud as possible with the rising wind.
“Are you here with us?” The pointer began to move dragging along all the fingers and stopped on YES.
“Will you help us in our fight with Ham?” The pointer moved again and stopped on NO.
A gust of wind lifted sand and gravel from the road and pelted their faces with the force of a tiny tornado. Joanie looked at her watch it was past eleven. Where was Kent and Scotty?
“Why will you not help us?” Marsha was almost hysterical. All the hands were shaking as the pointer took forever to move and stop on six letters: A F R A I D.
“What are you afraid of?” The pointer had barely begun to move when a blast of air knocked all the members to the ground. A ball of fire rose into the night sky and Ham appeared from a cloud of smoke riding a nineteen thirties bicycle. At least forty other members of Abra Cadaver appeared around the edges of the cemetery moving inward.
“You’re early!” Joanie gasped as the dark woman got off the bicycle and limped toward her. The bike stayed upright without a kickstand and Joanie could see the wheels were still turning.
“Life is short and I don’t have time to waste,” Ham hissed. What looked like blood was dripping from the corner of her mouth and Joanie noticed the tail of a rat sticking out from between rotted and jagged teeth.
“But we’re not ready!” Joanie’s voice sounded like a plea even to her own ears.
“No one is ever ready for death,” Ham whispered and then she smiled.

-------7-------

Kent and Tony sat inside Kent’s father’s car just down the street from the Bliss residence listening to Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon. “Damn it! Johnny was supposed to be grounded!” Both boys stared at their friends bicycle parked on the lawn of his girlfriend Sheryl’s house.
“His parents probably went out to a movie or something and Johnny decided to sneak off.” A flash of lightning showed the rubber mask Kent was examining in his hands. The grotesque features on the disguise looked like a dead person that had recently risen from a grave … even better when he put it on with a human-hair wig. Scotty was using a sandstone to sharpen the edge on a sixteen inch butcher knife. In the back seat was a video camera with sound and infrared capabilities.
“Are we really going to kill her?”
“Yes! We have to!” Kent dropped the mask in his lap and was rubbing the crystal. “We were always meant to kill Sheryl … only we didn’t have the power … now we do.”
“Cloverbone ain’t gonna like it when we show up at the cemetery late!”
“When we show up with the crystal, and Sheryl’s severed head, all will be forgiven.” Kent laughed. “I’ll do it slow … just make sure you film everything!”
Kent looked at his watch it was just before midnight. The door to the house opened and Johnny walked toward his bicycle. “Finally! I thought he was never going to leave her alone!”
The two watched their friend pedal down the street as they walked toward the garage. “You remember where the fuse box is?”
            “Yes! On the back wall.”
After they cut the power to the house they watched as a single candle moved from room to room. Then Kent put on the mask and clutched the knife while Scotty held the camera and they tried the back door. It was unlocked … and they crept inside.

TO BE CONTINUED …


Sunday, May 14, 2017

KINGDOM of the ANTS

Copyright (c) 2017 by Randall R. Peterson ALL RIGHTS RESERVED This is a work of fiction. All persons, locations and actions are from the author's imagination or have been used in a fictitious manner.


KINGDOM
of the
ANTS
By R. Peterson

Kent Lopez gasped. Ingrid Bolsø Berdal playing the part of Jillian Everson in the film version of A Box Filled With Darkness started climbing down a ladder into the seemingly bottomless cardboard container in the hallway of the daycare center. Something with a creepy hissing voice had taken one of her children far below. “Don’t go down there you crackly bitch!”
The Bliss living room flickered from dark to light as the film played on the oversized TV.
            “Chicks in movies always do the most returded things,” Scotty Target mumbled. He couldn’t take his eyes off from the strange horror movie either. Over on the sofa, Johnny Olsen and Sheryl Bliss had started making out after Jillian’s big-breasted next door neighbor Erma Kite, (played by Monica Keena,) stumbled into the scene wearing a wet t-shirt after apparently running through a half-dozen lawn sprinklers. Sheryl’s parents had gone to a charity function and wouldn’t be home until after midnight. “See I told you … you stupid c$%#!” Kent yelled when the ladder slipped and Jillian screamed as she disappeared into the box.
            “Release the bats!” Scotty blurted. “There’s this gnarly huge rat down there that tries to eat her!”
            “Do it! Kill the dumb bitch!” Kent was waving his arms wildly and knocked over a can of Coors spilling beer on the expensive carpet. Sheryl whispered in her boyfriend’s ear and then glared at his two friends.
Johnny stopped groping Sheryl and cleared his throat. “You guys can finish watching this movie another night. It’s almost eleven and me and Sheryl want to spend some time alone before her parents come home!”
            “But we’re just coming to the best part,” Kent complained. Sheryl stood up and marched to a coffee table, not bothering to button up her blouse that showed her naked breasts. She flicked the movie off with a remote control. “I’ll clue you boys in,” she said brushing dark hair out of her eyes. “Ingrid Berdal wins,” she said. “She always wins … in every movie she plays in.”
Johnny was holding the door open. “We’ll have to do this again sometime,” he said with a smirk.

            “That sick-flick was radical,” Kent said when he and Scotty climbed into Scotty’s father’s Suburban. “I wish I had a copy of it!”
            “Wouldn’t it be great if we could make our own scaries,” Scotty told him as he started the car. “For once I’d like to see those stupid c$%$# get what’s coming to them.” He started Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon playing on the car stereo.
            “My old man has all kinds of video equipment he never uses,” Kent said. “He has an infrared camera for shooting in the dark and everything. Why not make our own Horno movie?”
            “Who would we get to play the final girl with the big tits?” Scotty looked over at his friend and smiled. Scotty was rolling a massive joint laced with PCP.
            “Sheryl Bliss,” Kent giggled. “She’s the best looking girl Johnny has ever wanted to bang and she has definitely got a big pair of box office attractions.”
            “She’d never do it,” Scotty said. “Johnny told me she hates our guts and doesn’t want him to bring us over anymore. He’s changed since he booed-up with her!”
            “Who says Sheryl has to know she’s being filmed?” Kent lit the marijuana cigarette. A smell like stale almonds drifted up from the chemical treated smoke. “If we planned everything just right … with her home all alone … suddenly the power goes off. I noticed the breaker box on the wall in the garage when I went out to have a smoke earlier.  Imagine her face as she’s being chased through the house by two hideous demons holding butcher knives.”
            “One masked man-beast with a hissing voice and a knife,” Scotty corrected. “If we go to that much work, one of us is going to have to be holding a camera.”
            “We’re sixteen years old and we have no money. How do we make a movie that doesn’t turn into a vomit bomb?”
            “We butcher the Blair Witch for real,” Kent said. “It’ll be totally awesome! We’ll just make sure we get the plasma to splash everywhere on the walls the floor and record all her screams!”
            “That’s so Brazilian! … Release the bats! I love it!”
            “And don’t even think about putting our names on the credits.”
            “Yeah! The cops would definitely think that was a plate of donuts.”
            “Sheryl is one lucky bitch, I’ll tell you what,” Scotty giggled. He took a hit and passed the cigarette to Kent. He was remembering how sexy Sheryl looked when she walked across the room half dressed.
            “How’s that?”
Scotty exhaled. “She’s going to be a major scream queen and all she has to do it stand there with her big mouth open and bleed.”
Both boys laughed for a full minute until snot was running down their noses.
            “We’re really not going to kill her just to make a film… are we?”
            “No, not just for the movie. All monsters need some kind of power backing them up and we don’t got any, but we’ll still get the c#$% … I promise!”
Kent began to laugh and Scotty joined him. They laughed all the way home and quietly for hours afterward as they lay in their respective beds.

-------2-------

            Fourth-hour P.E. was the only class that Kent and Scotty had together. They stood at the gym sidelines watching a group of seniors play slaughter-ball. Kent was almost knocked unconscious when a ball bounced off from his head. Rex Hicks stood at center court smiling. “Hey Rocky!’ he yelled. “Why don’t you and Bullwinkle get out here so we can have some fun?” He was poking fun at Kent being short and squat and Scotty tall and angular. Everyone in the gym laughed.
            “I gave my last drop of sweat to your sister,” Kent called back trying to be equally as funny.
            “I don’t have a sister … you moron!” Rex bellowed.
            “It must have been your mother then … she was as ugly as you are!” Kent stood looking defiant even though the senior stood a foot taller and was twice his weight.
Just then Coach Johnson walked in and the gym became too silent. “That’s it for today,” he called. “Anyone in my class who doesn’t shower better be on the rag … if not … when I get through with them … that sorry individual will be!”
            “I’m going to get you … you little f#$%” Rex whispered as he filed past Kent and Scotty.
            “We better shower before Coach leaves to help Mrs. Markland clean her lab,” Scotty moaned. The whole school knew the coach had a thing for the science teacher and clean her lab was code for rumored sexual activity.
Kent was just stepping out of the shower and reaching for his towel when Rex Hicks snapped him viciously on the upper thigh with it, missing his genitals by inches. “Coach left early.” Rex snickered. “I don’t blame him. Did you see the tight sweater that #$%$ was wearing?”
            “I don’t look at older women,” Kent said. “After your mother … nobody else gets a rise out of me.” He jerked his butt and legs spastically as if he were having sex.
            “Oh my God! No!” Scotty moaned as the entire football team lifted them both into the air and carried them into the bathrooms.
            “That toilet at the end still doesn’t flush does it?” Several students laughed as Rex dragged Kent kicking and struggling passed the line of stalls. One stall seemed to be occupied with just a pair of boots showing under the door. “I’ll bet it’s got at least one German Brown floating belly-up in the bowl!”
Eddy Frazer opened the door and then held his nose. “Ugghh it’s overflowing!”
            “In you go,” Rex laughed as he forced Kent’s head into the foul water.
            “You’re next!” Eddy grinned at Scotty.
            “Why me? I haven’t done anything!” Scotty wailed as they finally pulled Kent’s head out of the water and shoved him toward the showers.
            “You swim with a turd … you get flushed down the drain with one!” Rex told him.
It was all over in a couple of minutes but to Kent and Scotty it seemed like hours. “I’ll get those bastards if it’s the last thing I ever do. Scotty was splashing water on his face from the sink and Kent was trying to wipe off his head with a handful of paper towels.
Suddenly the occupied stall door opened and Coach Johnson lumbered out pulling up his pants. He’d been there the whole time, now he now sounded angry. “Back in the showers both of you!” A sadistic smile formed on his pudgy face. “And don’t you ever mess with my team!”

-------3-------

Kent was determined that he and Scotty were no longer going to be Cloverdale High School victims. He arranged to pick up Scotty just before midnight in his father’s Falcon. “The jocks have all the power at school,” he said. “It’s time we had some power of our own!”
Scotty was surprised when Kent turned into Black Rose Cemetery; they hadn’t visited the graveyard at night in months … tonight was the first night of the full moon. A group of shadowy figures were clustered around a crumbling headstone near the back of the cemetery with the name Jim Coots barely readable. “Coots was a gunfighter and the first non-Indian buried in this bone vault,” Joanie Otter told them when they climbed from the car. She stepped out of the shadows. It was dark but Scotty could still see the white face-paint and black lipstick. All the others, eleven in number, were dressed in Goth attire, mostly black robes with pieces of silver jewelry dangling from various piercings. “He and his death companions were the first to piedi da tomba.”
“What’s she talking about?” The group had formed a circle around the pair and Scotty was getting nervous.”
“Walk from the grave,” Kent said. Then he went on. “Legend says an old Negro woman named Rose established this cemetery back in 1878 and the Sheriff paid her twenty dollars for each coffin and a dug hole to put it in. Cloverdale was called South Fork back then and it was a wild little town. The black woman made herself a fortune.”
“She was a hole-witch who brought back some of the dead to help her run her ranch,” Joanie said. “That’s why this circle is sacred to Cloverbone.”
“What’s Cloverbone?”
Kent wrinkled his nose. “It’s the name of the coven that we’re going to join.”
            “We are looking for two kindergoth to bring our number back to thirteen since the extraction of two of our hole-witches Terrie Franks and Louise Baumgartner,’ Joanie said. “But you don’t just become stick-witches. First you have to prove you are worthy.”
            “What do we have to do?”
            “Each of you younglings must bring a natural-grown crystal the length of the first finger of your left hand dipped in the blood of a virgin to this spot on midnight of the next full moon,” Joanie said. “The prisms will become part of the coven. Do this and you will become members with our full protection … fail … and you will be cursed with death.”
            “You wouldn’t really kill us just because we decided to change our minds,” Scotty laughed but the sound coming out of his mouth sounded weak and afraid. All eleven members of the coven crowded closer. Scotty thought he could see the gleam of knife blades under the dark robes.
            “Break the rules and Cloverbone will be forced to perform an extraction,” Joanie said. “Terry and Louise failed to obey the rules …and had to be extracted.”
            “But those two died when their car plunged off a cliff and burned when they were coming home from a ball game in Butte,” Scotty blurted. He became silent and brooding when he noticed the knowing smiles gleaming from under the hoods.
            “Fire makes a path. Burning is the only way to kill any witch … stick or hole,” Joanie grinned.

-------4-------

            It was almost a week later before Scotty was able to finagle his father into letting him borrow the station wagon for a trip to Crystal Mountain. The hillside in the south-western corner of Montana was discovered to be a vast source of raw quartz crystals after a highway was blasted through in the previous century. The mountain was pock-marked with empty craters but only a few rock-hounds were now digging. Kent and Scotty followed a winding paved path to the top. “It’s going to be hard finding two perfect crystals the size of our fingers,” Scotty sad looking around. “This place looks like an exploded mine field.”
            “That’s because people are only allowed to dig on this side of the hill,” Kent told him. “We have to search the other side to know what we’re looking for.”
            There was no trail and an hour later the two boys found themselves halfway down the steep hill with scratched arms, faces and legs from brambles and wild raspberry bushes. “We better go back,” Scotty gasped. “Every bush we pass feels like it’s trying to grab me.”
They were on a rock ledge about twelve feet wide. Kent walked over to peer off the edge. “This is it! This is why we came!” Kent was almost shouting and pointing down.
            “Release the bats!” Scotty exclaimed as he looked over the edge. A gigantic red-ant pile at least four-feet tall was crawling with what looked like millions of tiny insects. Just then the sun peered from behind a shroud of clouds and reflected rainbow colors of light from a massive quartz crystal stuck upright in the top center of the nest. “That thing is as big as my hand!”
Between dancing for joy the boys gazed at the magnificent gemstone and wondered how they were going to retrieve it without being eaten alive.
            “No way a bunch of ants could have dragged and erected that crystal there,” Kent said. ‘It had to be some acid-tripping hippie who was trying to start his own animal kingdom.”
            “We have to test their defenses,” Scotty declared. He began to gather stones and an hour later succeeded in killing a Robin with a pitched rock. Both boys gasped as Kent flung the dead bird onto the pile and it was consumed in a matter of seconds. “Those things are evil and it’s almost like they are worshiping the crystal like a God. There’s no way we can even get close to it,” Scotty decided.
            “What was it Joanie said in the cemetery,” Kent was thinking out loud. “Fire makes a path?”
            “All I have is a Bic lighter, a pack of orange slow-burn Zig Zag papers and an eighth ounce of Columbian skunk-bud,” Scotty said. “You want to try to get close enough to start that nest on fire?”
            “There’s no way we’re leaving this mountain without that crystal,” Kent told him. “We passed a gas station with a store a few miles back. I’m sure they have lighter fluid … five or six cans should do it. When the smoke clears, we’ll be in control of the insect’s God and all they’ll have is bad memories.”
            “That’s what I’m afraid of,” Scotty whispered. “That an army of ants are never going to forget what we did to them.”

-------5-------

It was sunset by the time Kent and Scotty made it back to the Falcon and drove three miles to the gas station and back. They had purchased six cans of Rosonol lighter-fluid, all the tiny store had. They spent at least a half hour tossing dry brush and twigs on the nest from a distance before squirting the flammable liquid all over the pile. Kent lit a torch made from a torn piece of his shirt wrapped around a stick and then doused with fluid onto the nest.
The pile burst into flames with a terrific whoosh sound. Kent and Scotty had to stumble backward as far as they could in the thick brush to get away from the flames. A screeching sound like thousands of tiny doors being opened filled the air and both boys covered their ears. At first they thought it was the tiny bodies burning and popping like corn, but when they felt the insects beginning to bite their legs they knew they were under attack.
Running downhill is easy when you are scared out of your mind. They made it to the bottom of the hill and to a waist-deep creek in less than two minutes. They both plunged into the water still sapping their faces arms and legs. After the biting stopped the swelling began. Kent was looking out of one eye and Scotty was nearly blind as they made their way back to the nest.
It was completely dark now and the only illumination was from a thin new-moon and Kent’s i-Phone app. The massive red-ant nest was reduced to a pile of smoldering black ash. The crystal was gone! “They’ve taken it underground!” Scotty exclaimed.
“It would take a thousand ants … and they haven’t had time!” Kent used a long stick to poke around in the ashes. “I didn’t think about ants going to sleep at night,” Kent said. “All we really had to do was wait until dark and we could have taken what we wanted without the death and mayhem.” The ashes were deep; the lighter-fluid soaked nest had burned with a ferocious and frightening fury. “But what fun is that?” Kent laughed then suddenly shouted. “Here it is!”
The crystal had fallen on its side and been buried by smoldering ash but was still ice cold to the touch as Kent held it up to the new moon and turned it in his hand. “The power that belonged to the kingdom of the ants is now ours,” he told the night sky.
“This is only one crystal,” Scotty looked worried. “We were each supposed to return with our own.”
“This one is so large the Cloverbone witches are going to be thrilled,” Kent said. “Relax! Something tells me we have the power now!”
Scotty was the first to feel the vibrations underground. A moment later Kent felt them too. It was like the aftershock of an earthquake, common in the northwest of the U.S., but nether boy had felt the original tremor. ‘I think we’d better make like birds and get the flock out of here,” Kent said just before they scrambled back up the mountain.

-------6-------

A half-hour later they were roaring down the highway leaving Crystal Mountain behind. Both boys sighed relief. If they had stuck around the parking area for another two hours they would have seen the carnage as millions of ants descended from the mountain, tearing the aluminum siding off from a fifth-wheel trailer and stripping every bit of flesh off the retired couple sleeping inside. Two hours before dawn, the gas station where they had purchased the lighter fluid was drowned by an enormous swarming black wave. The gasoline pumps exploded sending a ball of fire into the night sky as the station attendant ran screaming from the building as he was being eaten alive. A Montana State Trooper, responding to a call from a concerned citizen, made the mistake of getting out of his patrol car at a rest area and was literally carried down the side of a mountain by an enraged insect army.
“Our troubles are over,” Kent told Scotty as he dropped him off at his house. It was 4:19 AM. Both boys looked at the crystal one last time before Kent took it home. They struggled and fought to see which one could hold it. The raw gemstone seemed to be vibrating. Tiny shockwaves sent delightful shivers and nausea up and down their arms and legs promising delightful things in the future and an equal amount of fear. Both boys felt like they were finally becoming the all-powerful deities that they were destined to be … and they also felt the impending doom!”
“All we need now is the blood of a true virgin,” Kent whispered as if he held the key to Hell in his hand.
“I heard Johnny say that Sheryl’s parents are going out of town again this weekend but his parents grounded him and he was jacked that he wouldn’t be able to go see her!” Scotty was staring at the bag Kent had slipped the gemstone into.
“Perfect,” Kent said. “It’s movie time! Let’s just hope Johnny has left her hymen intact and her virgin blood will power up my crystal!”
Both boys went to bed feeling both sick and wonderful. Scotty kept thinking about Kent using the word my.
While on both sides of the highway eighty-seven miles from Cloverdale the new moon shown on a deadly army of murderous black insects, drawn by strange vibrations emulating from the stolen crystal,  slowly marching ever onward to reclaim the power what was once their own.

TO BE CONTINUED …




Sunday, May 7, 2017

GLORIA part 2

Copyright (c) 2017 by Randall R. Peterson ALL RIGHTS RESERVED This is a work of fiction. All persons, locations and actions are from the author's imagination or have been used in a fictitious manner.




By R. Peterson

Some of the things I’m describing are my best guess as to what went on. I was there but I couldn’t be everywhere. I’m a pretty good judge of people you have to be to do the kind of things I do and get away with it. This is the truth as I remember it. Why do I talk about all of this in the third person? None of us are who we were then.
The king and queen of the Cloverdale Senior Prom were voted for after a special assembly that displayed the talents and other attributes of those running. Gloria’s friends assured her she was a shoo-in.  The school’s most popular girl wasn’t certain. One thing was sure, her enemies, and when you were as breathtakingly beautiful as Gloria you had more than enough, wanted her to crash and burn and die. Plenty of fake puffery and jealous scowls greeted Gloria as she tried to keep the designer dress she’d purchased from Wedding Bells from wrinkling inside a clear plastic garment-bag on her way to the stage dressing rooms. I was there in the crowded halls … although I tried not to stare.
            “I haven’t seen you and Brian walking to classes together,” Marsha Hicks’ reflection sneered from a mirror as Gloria took the dress out of the bag. “Have you two broken up?”
Gloria knew her rival for Prom Queen had a thing for Brian, almost every girl in the school did. Marsha commandeered the mirror like an exotic vulture preening the feathers that covered her ample bosom, applying Yardley of London white lipstick and waiting for Gloria’s relationship to die.
            “We’re not going steady … so knock yourself out!” Gloria knew Brian had his low times but she didn’t think he was that low yet.
            “Oh I’m not interested in a wild-rocker,” Marsha sneered, “even if he is adorable. I want a guy with wherewithal someone like that new guy in town Ted … what’s his name. I hear his father doesn’t just have a money tree in his backyard … he has a whole forest of them!”
Gloria knew Marsha was lying and would be all over Brian before the day was through. She wasn’t worried about Brian falling for a sleazy-easy. He, like almost all high achieving guys needed a real challenge something worth working for. Brian always had and always would need to conquer and win what he wanted. She just wouldn’t let him take her for granted. The senior prom was probably the most important dance of anyone’s life and Gloria wanted Brian to blow-up at the dance, rescue her from Ted Evans and get his lustful reward at Makeout Lake later.
Gloria made a mental note to drop by Paxman’s after school. Like most of the high school students the new guy hung out there after working as a paralegal during a break from law school. She still didn’t have a date for the prom and if her plan was to work out she had to give Theodor Monson Evans III an opportunity to ask. A friend had told her that he’d been driving around the night before like a lost puppy obviously looking for her in his blue VW beetle. When she passed Brian in the hall he appeared to be simmering with anger, although he tried to hide it. She knew him well and she was going to know him a lot better. Gloria smiled; everything was going according to plan.

-------2-------

Brian drooled along with all the other high school boys as the contestants for prom queen lined up in the auditorium. They were all rare beauties but Gloria was exceptional. She was the only one he stared at. The black-mist with silver-stars House of Harlow gown she wore accentuated her strawberry-blonde hair and copious green eyes. A pang of jealousy stabbed at Brian’s heart as she promenaded across the stage. Some lucky guy would be taking her to the prom on Saturday night … and it wasn’t going to be him. When Brian thought about losing out he didn’t blame Gloria. From everything he’d heard Theodor Evans was a high achiever on his way to the top. A member of the young Republicans, Ted was the kind of guy who would turn into a successful businessman perhaps even a politician able to offer a wife the best things possible in life: cars, summer-homes and exotic vacations to all parts of the world. All Brian could offer her was a smile, a six-year old Harley Davidson Softail and a smoking Dodge-van filled with battered rock band equipment … besides he hadn’t even asked her to the prom.
“I’m voting for Gloria,” David Fess said as he marked his ballot. “Even though Marsha Hicks promised me and half the senior class a fifteen-minute romp in the backseat of her dad’s Ford for my mark.”
Brian laughed. “I’ve never known you to suffer from integrity before … when it comes to fat bottom girls!”
            “Integrity? Never had it, never will!” David laughed. “Of course I’ll lie and say I voted for the gibblet! But I’ll be the first in line and I’ll cut the quarter-hour to five minutes to make up for it.”
Gloria sang a heart-full and excellent rendition of Barbara Streisand’s The Way We Were for her talent and by the end of the song he could hardly breathe. What went wrong with their roller-coaster of a ride relationship? Brian thought. Why did everything have to be so hard?
            “I’m voting for Gloria too,” Brian said as he marked his ballot, and then added wistfully. “There is no one in the world like her … and there never will be.”

-------3-------

It was just by chance that Gloria ran into Ted on Wednesday and that changed everything. She needed a pair of shoes to go with her dress and the ones she wanted were only sold in Missoula. It was dark and the ladies apparel store was almost closed when Gloria arrived. Ted’s blue VW was the only car in the parking lot. The store-clerk a pretty girl named Mona, who Gloria had met several times before, was helping put some packages into the Beetle’s tiny backseat. Ted’s right arm was wrapped and in a sling. It looked like it might be broken. “What happened?” Gloria said as she pulled to a stop next to the pair. Ted looked startled … and it took him a moment to respond. Something about the situation seemed strange to Gloria … she hardly knew Ted but it was as if she had caught him doing something wrong.
            “I took a bad fall while hiking,” Ted stammered.
Mona quickly put the packages in the backseat and then left after a backward glance at the good-looking guy. Gloria could tell she had been attracted to Ted and she had obviously dashed the girl’s plans to get to know the young man better. “That’s too bad,” Gloria said. “I guess you don’t feel much like dancing?”
            “You dance with your feet not your arms!” Ted smiled. “What did you have in mind?”
Gloria was born without shame and time was running out. “I find myself without an escort to the Senior Prom on Saturday night and I wondered if you might be available.
            “I’ve been looking everywhere for you this last week,” Ted said. “I was going to ask you that same question. Now I won’t have to worry about having you say no!”
            “Great!” Gloria almost shouted her enthusiasm. Then she glanced at the car and her smile sagged. “Pick me up at eight. The dance starts at nine but cruising through town for at least an hour before is all part of the night.” Gloria didn’t tell him that after the dance Makeout Lake was also part of the ritual, but there was no reason. By the time the dance was over she would be with Brian.
Ted grinned. “Eight it is,” he said, “and don’t worry! I won’t be driving this piece of junk on Saturday night!”
            “Not that your car isn’t great,” Gloria stammered. “It’s just that this night is supposed to be really glamorous!”
            “Don’t worry,” Ted called after Gloria as she ran toward the store just as Mona was closing the front door, “You’re going to have the ride of your life!”

-------4-------

            Thursday morning was marred by tragic news on all the television channels. A young woman’s nude and battered body was found alongside a dirt road just outside of Missoula. “I was there last night!” Gloria gasped as she told her parents. “Good thing I was with friends!” She remembered the empty parking lot with Mona and Ted.
            “Your mother and I don’t want you going to that dance alone!” Her father was upset.
            “Don’t worry. I’ve got that covered!” Gloria said as she stuffed a bagel into her mouth and ran for the school bus.
            “Who are you going with?” her father shouted after his only daughter.
            “Don’t worry,” Gloria’s mother assured her husband as she ladled scrambled eggs onto his plate. “She has a date with Ted Evans that fourth year law student renting a room from Sheriff Walker. You couldn’t ask for a more responsible or respectable young man.”
            “I hope he’s strong enough to handle himself,” Gloria’s father said as he buttered toast and then watched his daughter get on the bus. “With a serial killer running around on-the-loose you need more than a law degree to protect the ones you love.”

-------5-------

            Brian grew tired of the girls flocking around him in the halls of the High school. Everyone knew he didn’t have a date for the prom, and Gloria did. Brian’s band-mate David Fess noticed his depression and sang the wrong words to a Crosby Stills and Nash song while Brian got his science book out of his locker. “… if you can’t be with the witch you love … then just love the bitch you’re with!”
Brian had to grin in spite of his depression. “I’m serious,” David said. “I don’t mean that you have to settle for Marsha Hicks. At least a hundred girls would jump at the chance to go to the dance with you!”
            “That might be so but none of them are the ones I really want.” Gloria happened to walk past with a group of chattering girls at this moment and she smiled at Brian. It was the last time he would ever see her.
Brian knew she was the most beautiful thing he’d ever seen in his life. For the past several days she was all he could think about … her and the meaning of true love. To truly love another then you care about them more than you do yourself. What he and Gloria had was special but the girl deserved more. She deserved the life that someone like Ted Evans could give her. Friday was the last day of High School. Brian was graduating … and it was time he moved on.

-------6-------

            Saturday morning and afternoon were much more than hectic. Gloria was a little bit frustrated that she hadn’t seen Brian anywhere as she had her hair and nails done and picked up Ted’s boutonniere. He was probably off sulking someplace with his friends. Good! Let him sulk. When he got mad enough he’d come to the dance and take what was rightfully his. Gloria closed her eyes and dreamed about wearing Brian’s class ring and suddenly it was a wedding ring that he was slipping on her finger. Yes! This was shaping up to be the most wonderful day of her life. Gloria admired herself in a full length mirror. She had to admit wearing this formal gown glittering with stars made her look like the sexiest witch ever … if the spell she was weaving didn’t work on Brian then it wouldn’t work on anybody!
            Ted pulled up in front of the house driving a black BMW. Gloria was a little annoyed that he parked out front and honked his horn. He had refused to meet her parents when she’d asked him on the phone and they really wanted pictures. Oh well! If everything worked out the way she planned it would be a short-night for Ted anyway.
            Ted did get out of the car and open her car-door for her. His arm was no longer in a sling. ‘It was just a sprain,” he said. Gloria noticed he kept his face turned away from the house. She shook her head. What was he afraid of? He wasn’t that much older than her.

It seemed like every boy and girl at Cloverdale High School was cruising Main Street. Ted complained about the endless driving down Townsend Avenue turning right on Main Street, turning right again on Galbraith and making another right turn on Meghan Way before connecting again with Townsend. Ted played music on the radio but quickly changed stations each time the news came on. Gloria saw plenty of people she knew driving around. Many of them were hanging out of car windows having a good time. She insisted that Ted honk his horn. After a while she realized that all the windows in the car were tinted a dark grey and that no one could recognize her anyway.
She was looking everywhere for Brian and insisted that Ted drive past The Asphalt Massage, a biker bar just outside of town. Brian wasn’t even close to twenty-one but Gloria knew that he sometimes used a fake ID especially when his band needed to appear old enough to perform. She didn’t see his Harley parked in the lot there either. Ted was beginning to get annoyed. “I’m thirsty,” he said. “How about we go back to my place … and I’ll fix us a drink.”
“It’s almost nine. Let’s go to the dance.” Gloria told him.

-------7-------

The band playing in the High School gymnasium was good but Gloria had to admit Brian’s band was better. When she didn’t see him anywhere in the crowds of people surrounding the dance floor or out dancing she began to get worried. The first hour was at least bearable; she kept expecting him to burst through the door any minute and sweep her away. The second hour the smile on her face was visibly forced and she was beginning to get angry. She even talked her best friend into dancing with Ted so that she could go into the bathroom and ask all of her social contacts if anyone had seen Brian. The last hour was agony. She was furious that Brian hadn’t shown up to claim her and she was more furious with herself for coming up with such a stupid plan. Ted could tell she was upset and wanted to leave early but Gloria insisted on staying until they were the last ones out the door. She was still hoping without hope for a miracle but Brian didn’t show.
They drove around after the dance but Gloria was running out of places to look. She finally suggested that they drive to Makeout Lake. It would be just like Brian; Gloria thought to take some hussy out there … just to get even.
“I’ve heard of that place. It’s a pretty rough road isn’t it?” Ted was smiling for the first time in hours.
“An old logging road forks off from Canyon Road and goes to the lake just inside Motha Forest,” Gloria said. “Yes, it is a little rough.”
“In that case we better switch to my VW,” Ted said. “This car we’re riding in was borrowed.”
“I figured as much,” Gloria told him. Still she was surprised when they pulled into a used car lot and Ted parked at the back next to his bug.
“I’ve lived here all my life and I didn’t know Harrison Auto Sales rented luxury cars!”
Gloria was even more surprised when Ted used the same key-ring pulled from the BMW and used a different key on the ring to start his own car. “Does anyone even know you borrowed that car?”
            “I hope not,” Ted told her. “That could get me into a lot of trouble.”
Gloria shook her head. It seemed Ted wasn’t the upstanding young upward moving Republican everyone thought he was. Still no one was perfect. She was more interested in finding out if Brian was at Makeout Lake and who he was with.
            “Both these seats lay back all the way and I brought along blankets and a pillow,” Ted told her with a smile on his face. “The Lake sounds like my kind of fun.”
Gloria had been too busy wondering where Brian was and she suddenly realized Ted thought he was going to get lucky.
            “Ted I’m sorry,” Gloria told him. “I’m sorry about tonight. I’m sorry for everything. You’re a very good looking guy but the truth is I’m in love with someone else and this whole night was just a setup to make him jealous.”
Ted glanced at her and shrugged his shoulders … as if he’d known all along.
            “I’ll pay you back for whatever you spent and I am really sorry,” Gloria told him. “This night was really the stupidest thing I’ve ever done. Can you just take me home now and call it a night. I really am very sorry.”
            “The night’s not over yet,” Ted said. “I still think we might have a little fun!”
Ted started to speed up as they roared down Townsend but as luck would have it traffic was heavy and he hit a red light at Wallace Avenue. “I’m sorry,” Gloria said as she opened her door and jumped out. “But this date is officially over!”
A line of cars behind Ted were honking their horns and he reluctantly pulled away leaving Gloria on the sidewalk. There were still plenty of people driving around and she flagged down some friends and got them to give her a ride home.

-------8-------

Gloria’s father said it was late going on 1AM and at first refused to let her drive the family car but she shouted, bawled and insisted until he gave in.
There were very few cars in town and Gloria cruised slowly through all the parking spots at Makeout Lake looking for Brian or his bike but he just wasn’t around. She was crying real tears as she headed back to town. “I ruined this night. I ruined my life I ruined everything,” she sobbed. There wasn’t another car on the road when she saw Ted’s VW parked alongside the road with what looked like a flat tire. His car jack leaned against the back bumper and he was just prying off a hubcap.
            Gloria truly did feel awful about what she had done to Brian but she also felt terrible about what she did to Ted. That’s obviously why she pulled over and stopped. She wasn’t the only one having a terrible night. Gloria was less than three feet away with only reflected light from the headlamps when she noticed the cast was back on Ted’s arm.
            “You!” he said standing up and smiling. “I thought I’d lost you forever.”
            “I feel terrible about everything,” Gloria said. “I just stopped to give you a hand.” She couldn’t help but stare at his arm in a sling.
Ted held up his arm and laughed. “Turns out it was worse than I thought it was.” He gestured to the trunk at the front of the car which was open. “Mind handing me my lug wrench?”
Gloria glanced at the tire Ted was prying the hubcap off from and noticed dirt pushed around the tire to make it look like it was out of air but things didn’t click at that moment. It was when she saw handcuffs, duct-tape and a knife in the trunk that she realized she was in trouble.
            “Did I say I needed a lug wrench?” Gloria was just starting to turn when he hit her. “Stupid of me … it was right here in my hand.”

-------8-------

            Brian had been riding for almost twelve hours with only quick stops for gas and pulled onto a scenic overlook just as he left Utah and crossed into Nevada. He walked around to stretch his legs and gazed up at the stars. Life is never what you expect not for anyone. Gloria was always his dream, that and playing music but it was time he woke up. California looked like as good a place as any to start over. Almost everything he owned was on the back of his bike. His parents could send his band equipment later when he found out what he was doing and where he was living. “I only hope that if Ted isn’t the right guy for you that you find someone who is,” Brian told the stars. Just then a super bright star streaked across the sky and lit up the desert. Brian smiled closed his eyes and he could almost touch Gloria again. “I just want you to know that I will love you forever.”

-------9-------

“Sure Ted raped her. She was gorgeous he would have been a fool not to … but he didn’t kill her! I swear! And that’s the truth! Did you know that Brian was here to see Ted and Ted told him the same thing? That’s how come Ted knows so much about what went on. Ted made him talk before he did.”
            “Cut the bullshit!” Sheriff Walker kicked the chair the suspect was sitting in inside the special room inside Florida State Penitentiary. “You are Ted. Everyone knows that …even if your last name isn’t Evans! Now what the #$%$ did you do with her body?”
            “I’m not the same person I was on that night,” Ted said. “No one is.” He took a drink of water from the glass sitting on the table. “I’m telling you God’s own truth. In less than fifteen minutes I’m going to find out what we were all really put on this Earth for. I’m going to meet God!”
            “Okay, have it your way!” Sheriff Walker was frustrated this had been going on for years. Ted had been convicted of multiple homicides and was considered the worst serial killer in the history of the US. He had shown authorities where numerous bodies were buried. Why wouldn’t he cooperate on this one? “Let’s hear your damn story one last time.”
            “I took my time … it was great!” Ted was starting to drool. “Even if she was mostly unconscious and bleeding. After I finished everything I wanted to do to her, I put her back in the trunk and drove to Magician’s Canyon. Everyone in town said the Earth swallows a whole river there and I figured it was the perfect place to dump a body!”
            “So you strangled her there like you did the others?”
            “No,” Ted said. “When I opened the trunk she was awake. I know what you’re going to do to me now … and I’m ready she says. I watched her climb out of the trunk and walk toward the edge of the ravine. I could hear the water roaring far below as it was sucked into the round like a giant drain. The brightest falling star I’ve ever seen streaked across the sky as she walked toward the edge. She was completely nude with long gorgeous legs and that long strawberry hair falling around her shoulders. I never seen anyone so beautiful.”
            “And you say she jumped?”
            “She looked up at the sky as that star, meteor or whatever it was streaked across and she said as if someone in the sky could hear her … I’m so very sorry!”
            “And she went just like that?”
            “She was looking so good I thought about maybe putting her back in the trunk and having a bit more fun later but she was there one moment … and then she was gone.”
Florida State Prison officials unlocked the door and the warden extended his hand. “It’s time,” he said gently.
Ted turned to Sheriff Walker as they led him down the hallway toward the electric chair. “She really was wonderful,” he said. “After all the things I did to her she kept saying she was sorry! I’ll never forget her!” Then Ted began to howl like a rabid dog in the loudest voice the sheriff had ever heard. “The lord is my shepherd … I shall not want …”
Sheriff Walker was in his car headed back to Montana when a news report came on the radio and said the nightmare that had gripped a nation for more than a decade was finally over. The news commentator said that now maybe things would get back to normal. “He’s never been to Cloverdale,” the sheriff whispered before he shut off the radio.

THE END ?