Serial Killers: The Child of Hyacinth Road (Part 4) by F.M. Scott
- Serial Killers: The Child of Hyacinth Road (Part 1) by F.M. Scott
- Serial Killers: The Child of Hyacinth Road (Part 2) by F.M. Scott
- Serial Killers: The Child of Hyacinth Road (Part 3) by F.M. Scott
- Serial Killers: The Child of Hyacinth Road (Part 4) by F.M. Scott
- Serial Killers: The Child of Hyacinth Road (Part 5) by F.M. Scott
- Serial Killers: The Child of Hyacinth Road (Part 6) by F.M. Scott
- Serial Killers: The Child of Hyacinth Road (Part 7) by F.M. Scott
The young couple, a software CEO and a fitness trainer, gave off a cheerful energy he hadn’t seen in a while. Like the professor before them, they admired the well-flowing interior. They also made a point of groaning at the Berber carpet in the living room.
Here were two women who knew what they wanted and didn’t want, Brian thought. Of course, this trait could be a double-edged sword with prospects, but it often helped things along and led to fantastic sales. He fessed up to agreeing on the carpet matter.
“Allergy city,” Kelli said. Her wife Ginger nodded.
The three reached the spacious den by way of the kitchen, when the trainer stopped in her tracks. “Oh.” She sniffed the air sharply—and quickly clasped both hands to her nose. “Oh…Jesus! What in the—”
“You okay, Ging?” Kelli asked. “What’s the—oh, God!” She covered her own mouth and nose with a hand.
“What is it?” Brian asked, a familiar panic rising in his voice.
Ginger shuddered. “I…excuse us.” She bolted for the back door and unlocked its large deadbolt. Kelli followed her onto the patio.
Ginger put her hands on the short, curved stone wall and retched into the grass. Brian started to intervene but realized, as with the professor, that he could only let the scene play out. So this place has already sent one person packing, and now it makes you puke. Shall I prepare the paperwork?
Brian approached the couple as they sat down. The young, robust fitness trainer slumped into her wife’s arms; she panted a bit. After studying her a moment, Brian attempted to break the newly formed ice: “I am so, so sorry. I wish I—”
Kelli raised a palm at Brian and shook her head.
Brian excused himself and returned with two bottles of water from the dorm-sized fridge he’d kept in the garage.
“Can you tell me what it was you smelled back there?”
The trainer broke from her wife’s arms, took a water, and sat up straight. Her voice hitched. “I don’t know how to explain.” She took a gulp from her bottle. “It started in the den. It was like nothing I’ve ever smelled before, not in my whole life. There was almost a-a texture to it. A way of feeling something as it happens, like…like I was witnessing…”
Brian leaned in. “Witnessing what?”
She looked at Kelli, then back at their host, her voice shrinking. “The process of death itself!”
Brian gulped hard. “I’m not sure what to say right now, other than once again I’m truly, truly sorry for your experience. I will check into things right away.”
Something caught Ginger’s eye; she clapped a hand to her mouth again. She pointed at the kitchen window behind Brian.
Holy shit. What now?
Kelli shot to her feet, her eyes trained on the same spot. “Now tell me you don’t see that!”
Brian peered at the window, moved closer to it, stared even harder. He turned and gave an emphatic shrug. “See what?”
“That thing!” Kelli said. “A head, it’s big as a basketb—it’s gone! Just now, it’s gone. It was right there, inside that window!” She ran a hand through her hair. “Its eyes were all black, and the rest of the face”—she gulped hard—“was hanging by a thread, looked like it had been…ahhh, God!” She took her silent, trembling wife by an arm, helping her to her feet. “It’s cool, honey, we’re getting out of here right now.” She turned to Brian and shifted gears. “Sir, I do not know what you’re trying to pull here, but what I do know is I’ve got your business card, and your immediate supervisor’s going to hear about this right away! You understand me? My wife has been dealing with PTSD for a long time, and you apparently think it’s funny, for whatever reason, to trigger her by staging some stupid Amityville shit like this? Are you even a real—are you trying to sabotage your own job?
“What!?” Brian half-shouted. “Oh, my God, no…no! I’ve told you I have no idea what’s going on with this place, but please, please, can you just—”
“Then you’d better get a clue, and fast. We’re going to your boss, and we could take this to the Real Estate Commission!” Kelli thrust an index finger toward the side of the house. “You open that damned gate right now and let us out of here! We are not going back through that house!” Brian stood silent. “Move!” Kelli ordered. He did, and the three trudged in silence toward the big wooden gate, Kelli holding Ginger tightly. Brian lifted the heavy black latch; the couple disappeared around the corner of the house and into the driveway. Brian’s throat spasmed and his hands shook like leaves.
He plopped down onto the barstool at the kitchen nook. Hannah, the division manager, was attending a real estate conference in Las Vegas. Brian jumped ahead to text his boss about the day’s events, in the interest of her hearing about it first from a reliable steward of the company. This would be loads of fun, since he’d already told her about the professor and she didn’t know what to make of that. After some grilling, Hannah urged Brian to leave any legal repercussions up to her and the regional management. She added: “I don’t begin to understand how the patterns available to the human mind get bent into such tapestries, but I will say that once that happens, those tapestries have a way of reprinting themselves on anything that happens to be within distance. Your trick is not to get too close.”
Hannah had never talked like that before. A beautiful burst of metaphor—well-put, and at the same time so alien. The call ended on the note that whatever kind of shit she was smoking in Vegas, it wouldn’t be pretty to see how she’d react when it wore off.
On the drive home, something else hit him: A CEO of anything probably had enough legal connections to sue him into a cardboard box under a bridge. It didn’t matter what his senses couldn’t pull in. Both women smelled something deathly and described a head with a mangled face looming in the kitchen window of the house on Hyacinth Road. With them and the professor, it was now three against one. And the traffic was getting heavier.
F.M. Scott is from Tulsa, Oklahoma, where he lives and writes. His stories have appeared in The Killer Collection, Sirius Science Fiction, The Horror Tree, The Tulsa Voice, and The Rock N’ Roll Horror Zine. A few of his drabbles were collected in Trembling with Fear: Year 2 Anthology.
Facebook and Twitter @fmscottauthor
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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 and Reborn, and the novellas, Bottled and Paused. Her novel, The Woodcutter, is due for release via Brigids Gate Press in 2023. 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, on Twitter at @el_stevie, Instagram stephanieellis7963 and also somewhere on Facebook.