Serial Killers: How Much Did You Take (Part 1) by Stefanos Singelakis
- Serial Killers: How Much Did You Take (Part 1) by Stefanos Singelakis
- Serial Killers: How Much Did You Take (Part 2) by Stefanos Singelakis
- Serial Killers: How Much Did You Take (Part 3) by Stefanos Singelakis
There I was, standing in the yard and staring at the grenade in my hand, feeling my palms sweat… It was only a matter of time before my grip became so slippery that I would drop the damn thing on the floor. And then what? Just a big boom I suppose. Maybe some sort of blinding flash before the blast sends what’s left of my face through a fist sized exit wound in the back of my skull.
I remember thinking, “Maybe I shouldn’t hold this thing so close to my face.” Like that would make any difference. Still, a second later I was holding it at arm’s length as far away from myself as possible. Of course, I couldn’t really let myself drop the thing; that would be the end of it… and me. I was certain of that. My arm felt too rubbery to pull off a good swing and toss it away. Hell, I’d probably miss my shot and watch it hit the roof of the porch and come bouncing back to me and then I’d be in the same fix as I was before, except now it would be worse because I’d be out of time.
Another second passed and I scanned the porch. Maybe if I could find the pin then I could plug it back in and then make a run for it. I needed to escape this place. Why did I even come here? I couldn’t remember. Everything, everything was a blank. I kept sweating and the more I sweat the more I worried about dropping it and then… definitely boom, toast, good-bye, fuck off.
All this sweating was making me thirsty. I wondered where I’d put my drink. I knew that Ramone had brought it out. That fucking degenerate, he always needed a drink, even more than me. But don’t get me wrong. It’s not the drinking that made him a scumbag. It’s the fact that he always drank my booze. And now that I come to think of it, where was my drink?
There it was, right in front of me. Somebody placed a small coffee table outside on the porch too. It looked exactly like mine. I recognized the water stains and the cracked brown paint job. And how did it get here? Wait… Is this my house? Fuck.
Nothing else to do, I reached over with my free hand, picked up a tumbler mixed full of Cutty Sark and ice chips, and took a long pull on the plastic straw that stood anchored in the drink. After clearing a third of the glass my head began to level out. I could finally concentrate on the task at hand, which was, what the hell was I going to do about this goddamn, fucking live grenade that I was still squeezing between my fingers. Okay, maybe I was wrong earlier. Maybe if I chuck it just right, I might clear the deck and then pull off a two-second dash for the inside of the house. With any luck, it might only blow down the front door and then… and then I’ll be safe.
I took another sip of the drink and heard the ice clink. I’d taken too much and now my head was swimming. From the smell of my own breath, I could tell that Ramone and I had been polishing off a bottle. Have you ever emerged from a blackout while in mid conversation? That’s kind of how I felt.
I felt hot but my body was cold, only my hands and the air felt like they were boiling… I needed to keep breathing and gather my strength but the more I breathed the stronger I felt and soon I was squishing the grenade between my fingers until it looked more like a lemon being pressed in a vice. Or close enough. I was scared I was going to drop it and then… the inevitable boom and, and I’d be fucked, really fucked. And where was Ramone? I could use another drink, something to cool my blood. I was boiling up again. It felt as if it had been a full ten minutes since I’d last seen him.
My head went through another moment of silence. I didn’t know how long it lasted. I didn’t own a watch. I’d lost my phone. I didn’t remember anything actually. Nothing about what happened. About how I’d gotten here. Or where here even was. Why did I think this was my backyard? Panic suddenly gripped me. I muttered something that sounded like, “I’ve been fucking kidnapped. Oh fuck, fuck, fuck…”
Out of nowhere, there was a voice. But whose voice it was, I could not tell. It wasn’t mine. But of course it wouldn’t be mine, idiot. But then who? Who the hell was talking? For a second I dared to look away from the bomb in my hand. I scanned the porch quickly but saw nothing. I was alone. I knew then that I had lost my goddam mind. This was the end. This was it. As if matters couldn’t get any worse, I heard what I thought was a scratching noise underneath the floorboards of the porch. The thought of rats crossed my mind and made my skin crawl. Ever since I was a kid, I’d been scared of them and now they were crawling around under my feet. I wanted to run but I didn’t dare to move. I figured that any sudden twitch might set off an explosion. As the scratching continued, the hair on my arms stood on end.
I remember thinking, “It’s happening again. Just ignore it and, and it’ll go away.” Stare straight ahead. Don’t look at anything, do nothing, don’t breathe, close your eyes, I can’t stop sweating, don’t breathe. No! Wait… breathe, breathe. I took a breath and then another. And I don’t know why but I looked up again and slowly, ever so slowly, I peered along the porch in a creeping 1-80 and there he was, back from who knows where. I dared not think of what he had been doing.
“Mike. Hey, man!”
My mouth was working again. I could talk.
“What! What is it? What on god’s green fucking earth do you want from me, you fiend!”
I watched Ramone lift his own tumbler full of ice and Cutty and take a sip. I saw that it was one of my glasses. How the hell did one of my glasses get here? Why is all my shit on this porch? Where the fuck am I?
“Stop squeezing the ball.”
For a second, I didn’t know what he was talking about. Ramone was clearly off his meds. The man was deranged. As I looked at him, I could see his eyes glowing with the shine of two demonic orbs that burned through his irises.
“Stop squeezing that tennis ball like that. You’re making me nervous.”
He pointed in the direction of my hand. I looked at it and saw that I was no longer gripping the live grenade in my sweaty palms and was instead crushing a piece of sporting equipment between my mits. Just a plain old yellow tennis ball. I remembered that I’d picked up a tennis ball not too long ago outside of a convenience store; it was lying abandoned in the parking lot. I had a tendency to spot things and take them with me; kind of like mementoes or what have you. I guess I just liked collecting shit. I looked at it for a second and tossed it away. It bounced lazily down the couple of steps until it stopped on the grass. For an instant, I wondered where the explosive had gone and then the thought left me. Fuck, Ramone’s eyes were glowing like fire. I felt as if within a second or two he was going to leap out of his chair and gouge out my eyes or something.
“What do you want?”
He looked at me, not knowing what I was thinking. Suddenly I felt like a criminal. As if I’d been bracing myself to do something terrible. To fight him to the death maybe if he came at me with those demon eyes.
“Nothing man. What’s your problem?”
I stopped for a moment to think. “What was my problem?” I didn’t know. I didn’t know anything. I didn’t know where I was.
“Nothing… nothing’s wrong. I… my glass is empty.”
I stared down into the melting ice chips and the golden residue of diluted scotch.
“It hit you hard didn’t it?”
“The shrooms man. Ed said they were heavy as fuck. We should have never eaten that much.”
“I, I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“The shrooms man. Fuck, Ed said they were mixed with something else but I never expected it to fuck us up so bad.”
I had no memory of this. “Right.” I pretended to know what he was talking about and as I faked it, pictures started coming back to me until somehow, I knew that we’d bought drugs.
“Right, I remember. We bought shrooms. How much did I eat?”
Ramone looked at me again. His face was melting and his eyes were burning. As he spoke, I could see that he had these long wolfish teeth. His mouth was moving but no words were coming out.
“So, what do you think? You ready?”
I was sweating profusely again.
“Think about what?”
The fangs that crowded his mouth kept smiling at me.
“You better not have taken too much man, honestly.”
It sounded like a question almost. Did I ask the question? Those fangs were shimmering but nothing was coming out. All I got was this insistent ringing in my ears.
A minute or two seemed to pass by and Ramone stood up awkwardly. The man moved like soft linguini.
“Okay, fine, let’s go do what we promised.”
I could hear a huffing noise like a locomotive in the distance. It was a sound of exasperation. And the rats were still there. I felt sick.
“Stop joking around Mike. Let’s go.”
A couple minutes later, we were on the road, driving out of town. Ramone was behind the wheel. The windows were down and he had the stereo on. We were listening to Santana’s Soul Sacrifice. It must have been an oldies station. As we continued to eat up the road, I looked down and saw that I was holding a black 9mm in my hands.
What the fuck did I agree to do?
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Stephanie Ellis writes dark speculative prose and poetry and has been published in a variety of magazines and anthologies. Her longer work includes the folk horror novels, The Five Turns of the Wheel, Reborn, and The Woodcutter, and the novellas, Bottled and Paused (all via Brigids Gate Press). Her dark poetry has been published in her collections Lilith Rising (co-authored with Shane Douglas Keene), Foundlings (co-authored with Cindy O’Quinn) and Metallurgy, as well as the HWA Poetry Showcase Volumes VI, VII, VIII, and IX and Black Spot Books Under Her Skin. She can be found supporting indie authors at HorrorTree.com via the weekly Indie Bookshelf Releases. She is an active member of the HWA and can be found at https://stephanieellis.org and on Blue Sky as stephellis.bsky.social.