Serial Killers: The Child of Hyacinth Road (Part 5) 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
Brian poured a glass of rye on the rocks. He kicked back on his sofa, swigging and hoping for a wave of release followed by apathy about the whole thing. Apathy, even a joke. Mina would have provided the latter. She’d have gone straight for the gut. It’s all a test involving you—they’re deliberately shooting themselves in the foot to see how you’ll deal with manufactured juju. No one’s haunting the house, the company is haunting you. His face would turn to stone, she’d shove his shoulder, then they’d both burst out laughing. After five years it was still about the things that might have happened, and not how things actually were! Nothing was going to send Mina back to him on a sparkling saucer, but there were little solace grabs in the idea that two failed flings and the sparing of jail time after the strip mall incident were maybe her doing. She was a benevolent little cloud hanging there. Good, then maybe she’d also take care of everything that threatened to kill his career.
Brian tipped his glass of rye again—and cocked his head toward the opening of the hallway. A sound issued from the back of the house: something moving at a strange galloping pace.
Brian reached the doorway of the spare room and stopped cold. It was her, all right, running circles around the room.
On the walls. With feet sure as those of a squirrel on a tree.
“Phaedra! What the fuck!?” Brian charged in, clapping his hands, but this didn’t faze her. She kept her delirious orbit around her owner, around the furniture and boxes below, without breaking her stride. “Phaedra!” He watched as his cat continued her revolutions, leaping over the doorway and the window each time. At last she flew off the wall, bounced on feet of air, and shot through the door.
He found her sitting on her haunches in the kitchen, gulping in air, her eyes narrowed to slits. He stood guard, confused. Was she going to fall over dead? Attack? Never mind, no good trying to process. Brian waited for time that stretched, retracted, doubled back on itself. At last Phaedra’s eyes opened to the familiar world around her. Her breathing settled, and she rose onto all fours. “Oh…sweetheart!” Brian extended both hands, and his loyal companion walked into them. He brought her up and rested his chin on the top of her head. Her motor ran.
A new world churned with what eyes and ears could pull in and brains couldn’t process. The old one, a world of numbers and contingencies and quotes, had been assassinated and replaced. With Phaedra now crashed on one end of the sofa, Brian composed himself enough to do something that might engage the real world for a change: record a voice memo about events of the last couple of weeks, on and off Hyacinth Road. It didn’t matter what bizarre shit came from his mouth; the restoration of reason and sanity demanded it of him. His phone had other ideas:
NEW RECORDING JUNE 11, 1977 01:03
NEW RECORDING JUNE 11, 1977 06:20
NEW RECORDING JUNE 11, 1977 01:09
NEW RECORDING JUNE 11, 1977 00:52
Brian went to the array of little glitches and tricks that phones have or might be capable of having—opening apps at random, deleting notes, etc. This new development
might have made the list, had it not been for four certain digits.
NEW RECORDING NO. 1:
(hiss, growing louder…then fading out)
(a piano, playing softly, then the tune trails off)
(voices, apparently male and female, muffled and unintelligible, in dialogue)
(more dialogue, becoming louder, words maybe “indulging”, “worthless”, and “needs to end”…an angry yell, a door slams)
(under the breath, unintelligible)
NEW RECORDING NO. 2:
(hiss…then fades out)
(a sequence of soft murmurs and sobs)
Male voice: “You need to stop that.”
Female voice: “Leave me alone! I can’t deal with you right now.”
“Leave you alone.” (mocking laugh) “Leave me alone, she says.”
(a loud yell, then more sobs)
“Stop it! Stop crying, now.”
“I don’t—I can’t…”
“You listen to me, Chris! We’ve been down this road more times than I care to remember. And where does it take us, every time? You’ve seen the things he’s done. That stuffed dog on the stairs I tripped on, that screech the other night just as I swallowed a bite of meat! There are things at work in him that we cannot have in this house!”
“Let me conveniently remind you, Will, he can’t even walk! But I suppose it’s another one of your holy delusions that he can. And you blame him for your own stupid accidents?”
“He’s not human, Chris. He will never enter the kingdom of God. He is the devil’s work! You think three years is gonna change that?”
(a wet gurgle, then what sounded like a hissing, snickering laugh—hthth-hthth-hthth!)
“D’you hear that? Look at him! D’you believe it now?”
(hearty laugh) “Well, that’s rich, isn’t it? A real beauty it is! He’s a handicapped child, Will! And you think he’s threatening you? A child, for Christ’s sake!”
“You shut your foul mouth, woman!”
“Ohhh, yeah. It’s so cute the way you learn things years after the fact. Talk about the same old road, do I have to remind you YET AGAIN why we’re in this together? The tests looked bad early on, you knew what the doctors said as well as I did. But by all means, Will, save a baby that doesn’t have a chance! And of course I went with it, and you damn well know why. Because I was afraid of you and your father, that’s why. I didn’t know what you and your church or corporation or whatever it is were capable of doing!”
“Shut your mouth, now! Shut up!”
“Keep him alive and suffering, let him be sick and mute and deformed, let him stop breathing time after time, and be brought back for round after round of this joke of a life, because guess what—we’ll both go to hell if we don’t.”
“I’m warning you, Chris! I’m warning you with the wrath of our Lord!”
“He never should have lived like this. And it had nothing, absolutely nothing, to do with God or Satan or angels or devils. That’s what you can’t seem to accept, no matter what. Look at me right now, Will. Look in my eyes. I’m so goddamned exhausted I can”…sobs… “I can barely see straight! Get a good look, Will, because with you I AM IN HELL! He’s your seed! And you know what? Maybe he IS out to get you! Ha, ha! Yeah, Will, better be watching over your shoulder, woo-hoooo!”
(a hard slap, a yelp…quick footsteps moving away)
“He’s all yours, Willy boy. A chip off the old dick!”
(sobbing, and footsteps reentering the room)
“Blood of Christ, save my poor soul!”
“Will!…Will, what the fuck—Will, no! NO! You can’t—”
(loud report, like a gunshot…a thud…another shot…and another)
(a loud screech, rising in tone)
(another gunshot…a couple of sharp gasps, then a wet wheezing sound, prolonged then fading…)
(two more shots)
(panting, then the wavering whimper of a man, rising from the throat)
NEW RECORDING NO. 3:
(the hiss, rising louder than before, prolonged…cuts off)
(a sound like the pump of a spray bottle and wiping of a surface; repeats several times)
(male voice returns, barely audible, like an incantation or prayer, lasting a minute or so)…“Rest you, son. Rest at last. May all malevolent spirits be gone from you, in Jesus’ holy name.”
(some rustling, then soft impacts, like the tapping of something)
NEW RECORDING NO. 4:
(whisper): “Blood of Christ, save us all.”
(a gunshot, a thud)
(a faint tone rising in pitch…cuts off)
The living room felt like a box. The air in it shrank, made itself harder to find. Brian knocked back the rest of the rye and went, shaking and rubber-legged, to the kitchen for a refill. He took a big swig of grain medicine and drew several deep breaths against the trip-hammering of his heart. He returned, sat down, and fumbled for his phone. Two parents. A sickly child. Some kind of religious thing. And a whole family dead, in that fucking house!
Brian went back for another listen, starting with the first of the four recordings marked with the year of disco and the Son of Sam. At the instant his finger hit PLAY, his screen went white. “Fuck,” he muttered. The voice memo app returned—empty. Brian exited the app but came back to the same blank queue. He repeated this twice then chucked his phone onto the floor. Phaedra, splayed in deep relaxation, didn’t budge.
He went out to sit on the deck. The September air had begun to cool a bit. Maybe it, combined with the rye—and the weight of sheer mindfuck overload—wouldn’t let him think anymore, except to have the sense to fall into bed.
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.