Kerry G.S Lipp
It was about that time in late August, the time when summer changes to fall. When hot summer sun is replaced with a chilly breeze, and the leaves of trees begin collecting on the lawn. Slowly, Halloween was approaching and that meant that The Bloodshed would be opening soon.
The Bloodshed opened every September on the second Friday of the month. It stayed open on every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday throughout the Halloween season. Many towns have a handful of haunted trails or cornfields that open during the Halloween season. However, The Bloodshed carried by far the scariest reputation among off the offering of the neighboring towns.
The Bloodshed single-handedly put the small town of Summit, Ohio on the map. A poll in a horror movie magazine placed The Bloodshed in the top five haunted houses in America for the last ten years. It was a hot spot to be, and even the most fearless left quivering.
It all began about fifteen years ago when The Bloodshed owner, Paul Simmons, inherited the land from his father who died of lung cancer. Simmons grew up playing in the large shed, and decided to keep it even though he already had a nice house on the east side of town. Simmons sold the house and all of the property, but he kept the shed because of the memories. Two years later Simmons came up with a wonderful idea to turn the shed into the most terrifying haunted house in the Midwest.
“Are you guys ready to check out The Bloodshed in a few weeks?” Marcus Destin asked his three friends crowding around the square table in the cafeteria. All three of his friends: Steve Poole, Amanda Dawning, and Stacey Taylor, said, “Hell Yes!” in unison through mouths of food.
“I heard they are using all four of the floors this year, and that if you make it out without quitting, they will refund your money,” Stacey said excitedly.
Steve sat quietly chewing his food while the others discussed the haunted house.
“I can’t believe someone had a heart attack there last year,” Amanda said. “I mean yeah it was scary, but a heart attack? Gimme a break.”
“When does it open this year?” asked Stacey.
This question prompted Marcus to unzip his brown back pack. He reached his hand inside and took out a folded sheet of orange paper. He unfolded the paper and the others saw that it was a flyer for The Bloodshed. The advertisement read:
WE WERE BORN TO KILL YOU
OPEN FRIDAYS SATURDAYS AND SUNDAYS FROM SEPTEMBER 15-OCTOBER 31
THE MAYHEM BEGINS AT 8PM EACH NIGHT
IF YOU SURVIVE THE FOUR FLOOR ONSLAUGHT YOU GET YOUR MONEY BACK ON HALLOWEEN NIGHT
SPEND YOUR HALLOWEEN SEASON HERE WITH US.
The advertisement also included a picture with a mastodon sized man wearing a blood splattered light blue jumpsuit and an equally bloody grin while brandishing a gore covered bloody chainsaw in one hand, and a severed head of an unfortunate female in the other.
“New logo this year,” Marcus observed.
“I love the new design, it’s so creepy.”
“So when are we all going to go?”
Steve who had finally finished devouring his hamburger lunch wiped the crumbs from his face and quietly said, “Halloween night.”
Justin drove five miles an hour above the speed limit on his way to orientation at The Bloodshed. He had no idea why after working there for three years he still needed to attend the orientation for the newly hired workers. In the distance he could see the massive shed as it slowly grew bigger. It had been freshly painted black, with the word BLOODSHED painted in blood red letters on both sides.
He turned his beat up hatchback into the parking lot. He hated that old car. It was just one more thing on a long list that led to him often being picked on by his peers. Justin grew up with just his mother, who had remarried three times and divorced three times. The kids in high school could be cruel, but Justin was used to being called son of slut. He pretended not to let that one bother him too much because he knew how much his mother loved him, but every time he heard those words, he felt something deep inside.
Working at The Bloodshed was Justin’s only out. He felt a sense of pride working at an establishment that held such a reputation, and could draw people from hundreds of miles away. Forcing the sad and upsetting thoughts away he exited the car. The stones crunched underneath his feet as he made his way into the front door of The Bloodshed. He entered through the front door and took a seat on the straw covered floor among the other seventy or so people waiting for the orientation.
After five minutes, at precisely six o’clock the owner of The Bloodshed, Paul Simmons came dancing out in one of his many tuxedos. Today he had chosen pink, but Justin had seen Simmons in every color of the rainbow, and then some, over the years. Simmons used his intimidating eye contact on the newbees before his face broke into a twisted, shit eating grin.
“Greetings! It looks like I have conjured up a killer crew yet again.” His first sentence reminded Justin about the puns. He continued, “This gathering is for everyone. The training meeting for the bleeders will take place once this meeting has ceased. I’m sure you’ve all heard the buzz that we are adding a new floor this year. This will make four, all carrying specified theatrics. As in past years, the first floor houses the old haunted prison, the second floor features a movie theme, recreating scenes from the most famous horror movies, and the third will be a dark graveyard. The only goal of the first three floors is to break the groups of people asunder, so they can face the final floor companionless, but definitely not fearless. The fourth floor, the new one this year, is going to be a pitch black labyrinth. During the finale of the labyrinth there will be ropes hanging out of the fourth floor for victims to climb down. This way we will scare people even as they exit. We are offering a refund to the people that make it out without screaming for help but this occurs only on Halloween.” Simmons concluded his speech comically exclaiming: “YOU ALL HAVE MY PERMISSION TO SCARE THE SHIT OUT OF THESE PEOPLE.”
Justin liked the sound of the changes. He thought to himself that a lot of people could survive the floors, but when they had to climb down four stories by rope, even the toughest would get freaked out. He understood Simmons’s premise. Even if people didn’t get a refund, they would still have gotten their money’s worth. The kickback was a small gimmick, an incentive that few would be able to get, and Simmons would be bathing in money.
After the speech concluded, Justin took a brief walk around The Bloodshed. He could see the steel prison bars sitting steadfast on the first floor. Looking at the straw covered floor, he noticed dark splotches where fake blood had dried. He took a walk down death row, ironically where a man suffered a heart attack last year, and saw where in a few days fake inmates would be begging for their lives, while others would have being executed in their job description.
He ventured up stairs to the movie theme floor, where he had worked last year, and looked at familiar sights from movies such as Halloween and A Nightmare on Elm Street. Justin saw this and became extremely excited to go to work this Halloween season. Sure he would be working every weekend for almost two months, but he didn’t have many friends anyways. He figured he may as well do what he loved, and get paid for it at the same time. Tomorrow he would return to be briefed on where he would be stationed to work this season.
“Look everyone it’s the son of slut,” Marcus Destin exclaimed while extending a hand and finger in Justin’s direction. Most of the packed hallway of the school heard this and chuckled audibly. “Hey Justin, I got twenty bucks, what’s your mom doing this weekend?”
Justin felt slightly rattled, mainly because of the mass of laughing students in the hallway. Justin shook his head with fury burning in his eyes. Amanda Dawning, Marcus’s cute blonde girlfriend, quieted Marcus down because of the teacher walking towards them down the hall.
The bell rang and the approaching teacher shooed the kids to their afternoon classes. Justin did as he was told, and headed to his history class. Sometimes he thought to himself that if the other students knew about his prestigious job working at The Bloodshed, they might treat him differently. No one else from the high school worked there, and many of them would have sold their right arm to do so.
He once again considered telling his peers about his job but quickly dismissed the thought. The plans he had been concocting for months now would be lost if anyone knew about the job that he loved. Justin smiled to himself as he walked to class thinking about how naïve the entire school was, and how sorry they would be for making his life miserable for so long now.
The bell rang signaling the end of school. Most kids made their way to their lockers to grab a musical instrument or their athletic equipment. However, Justin slowly grabbed his books and exited the school. The only extracurricular activity he participated in was pretending to kill people.
He weaved through the rows of cars, all nicer than his, in the parking lot. Just as he grabbed the metal door handle of his hatchback he heard the dreaded voice of Marcus Destin. “If my mom turned tricks for a living, I’d be rolling in something a lot nicer than that.” Amanda, Stacey, and Steve all cackled. A wave of anger flustered Justin but he reminded himself that these fools had no idea what they were up against.
Justin carefully pondered his response but thought better of it simply saying, “Fuck you!”
“What did you say to me you son of a whore? Look at this face, this face will be the last thing you ever see!” Justin stared at Marcus for a long time with a stare burning right through him and said, “Just keep fucking with me, and you’ll see what happens.”
After saying this he opened his car door, got in, and sped away before any of the group could reply.
“What a loser,” Steve said. Even the girls joined in the torment after he left.
“I can’t believe he threatened us, you two should beat his ass.” Amanda said to both Steve and Marcus.
“One of these days, we’ll find him, and hurt him,” Marcus said, his face expressionless.
As Justin exited the parking lot, he took a swig of cold water from his bottle and calmed himself down. He was upset with himself for making the threat, but after thinking about it, there was no need to be worried. He had them right where he wanted them. The only information he needed now was to find out what day all four of them would be paying a visit to his home turf: The Bloodshed.
Justin pulled his car into the parking lot and took off his school clothes throwing them into the back seat. The khakis and button-up shirt were replaced with more comfortable jeans and hooded sweatshirt. He exited the car with a smile on his face, savored a deep breath of the cool September air, and walked into The Bloodshed.
Paul Simmons, today sporting a lime green suit, was waiting along with the other members of Justin’s group showing them that his wooden cane pulled apart into a good sized sword.
“Come in come in.”
Justin recognized most of the faces. Simmons was so excited it freaked Justin out. Simmons was always very enthusiastic about The Bloodshed. Part of this reason was that he liked to scare the shit out of people, but the other reason was that these few short weeks of work made Simmons enough money to last him the whole year.
Simmons paced as he spoke and the familiar grin never left his face. Justin saw how excited Simmons was, and wondered what would happen to Simmons at the end of all of this.
“Alright everyone’s here, let’s commence. You vets here today will be assigned to the new floor this year. As I told you yesterday the theme for the top floor is a tenebrous labyrinth. You seasoned veterans have the experience and you should all be proud for being selected to work on the fourth and final floor. If people even make it up to the fourth floor, it is your responsibility to scare the crap out of them to keep them from getting their money back.
Simmons continued, “As you all saw at the end of the labyrinth there will be a giant open window with ropes for victims to climb down. Also next to these ropes there will be an elevator to take them back down to the first floor. Chase them into the elevator. However, they will have signed a waiver before entering that if they are injured while climbing out the window, they will be responsible, not us.” Simmons then said, “So that means if they fall and injure themselves, we are not liable. Any questions?”
No one asked any questions.
“Okay then follow me.” Simmons strutted through the horrifically decorated shed, up four flights of wooden steps and into the fourth floor.
The overhead lights shined brightly as Simmons led them through the labyrinth. They navigated much easier through the tight labyrinth with the florescent lights on the ceiling as a guide. Obviously the lights wouldn’t be shining while scared customers attempted to make their way through the abyss. Simmons led them through a series of twisting lefts and sharp rights as the group progressed through the maze.
At the end of the corridor they were in, Justin could see the window that would be used as an escape route for only the bravest. Along the way Simmons assigned different crew members to different areas of the labyrinth. The only person without an assignment was Justin.
Justin was beginning to wonder if his invitation to the fourth floor was a mistake when Simmons spoke, “Justin I want you to guard the window. You job is to scare the sight out of the few victims that make it this far. I think you have what is takes, and I’m counting on you to save me a lot of money. There are five escape rope ladders, but I don’t anticipate many victims will desire climbing four floors down. Should they decline, you must show them to the elevator, all the while being as scary as possible. Any questions?”
Another uncontainable smile spread across Justin’s face. This is perfect he thought to himself.
“Great. Okay, that’s all for today. We open in one week, I’ll see you then.”
The employees took the rickety paint chipped elevator back to the ground floor. Most of them walked in pairs or at least small groups, however Justin walked alone. The few congratulations he received made him feel slightly guilty for what he was plotting and how it would scar all of these hard workers for life.
The weeks began passing, and business was booming at The Bloodshed. They were making boatloads of money and no customer left unsatisfied. Justin was enjoying scaring the people, and was also accumulating a small fortune by high school standards.
Every day Justin would arrive an hour early and walk through the maze on the fourth floor. He already walked through with a pencil and paper, and accurately mapped out every nook and cranny of the entire labyrinth. Even without walking through the maze, or looking at his map, he could draw it identically on a blank sheet of paper.
He had been through the maze a few dozen times, and had it completely committed to memory. Now he practiced going through the maze with his eyes tightly shut. The lights, with the exception of the occasional flicker of strobe lights, would be completely black when The Bloodshed hosted customers, and he knew he had to be prepared. Justin could complete the maze flawlessly with his eyes closed, and there were still two weeks before Halloween. His memorization of the labyrinth would be a welcome weapon on Halloween.
About a week before Halloween Justin headed out into back yard where the old rotting tool shed resided, and began to take inventory. He had spent the last few weeks collecting whatever weapons he could get his eager hands on.
That evening, Justin decided to examine all of his acquirements and make sure he was completely prepared. Justin let himself in through the creaky rusted door, and locked it behind him. Dirty light poured in the dusted over windows, but Justin turned the naked bulb overhead on also.
Justin walked over to the work bench and pulled a small shoebox housing his provisions from one of its drawers. Inside the box Justin had collected a few various knives and his personal favorite, a straight razor. The longest knife had a seven inch serrated blade with a rubber handle. He picked it up and looked at his reflection within the blade of the knife. After smiling a devilish grin, he tossed the knife back with the others and shut the drawer.
Peering at Justin from the opposite wall was the deranged clown. Justin had been the deranged clown last year, and loved the mask so much that he decided to use it again this year. He hung the mask on the wall when he wasn’t working simply because he liked the way it looked. The exciting thing about wearing a mask is that no one knows who you are.
Deciding to keep his identity as secret as possible, Justin decided to wear a new mask he bought yesterday on Halloween night. It was simple, consisting of a glow-in-the-dark skeleton sporting a maniacal grin. Justin placed the mask on his face, turned out the light and stared into the broken mirror above the basin. He liked what he saw.
At school, during the remaining days Justin laid low. He played everything cool, he kept quiet, showed up on time, and stayed out of everyone’s way. His plan was almost ready to take off, he couldn’t ruin it now, but Marcus Destin and the fabulous four could.
“Hey Justin,” he sneered. “What are you gonna be for Halloween? Is your whore mother taking you trick or treating? Or is she dressing you up like a pimp so you two can go as a duo and she can save time by not wearing a costume?”
It was Justin’s turn to respond, and he exhaled deeply, calming his nerves before he spoke.
“Hey Marcus what are you doing this weekend? We should hang out. Maybe the five of us could hit The Bloodshed on Friday, if we make it out we get our money back.”
After hearing Justin’s comeback, random people began to clear from the hallway.
Marcus came at him slowly saying, “I’d have to be dead before I would hang out with you.”
The dwindling crowd watching the altercation departed after Marcus finished his attack. Marcus walked back to the others, put his arm around his girl and walked to class. No one came to Justin’s aid, but that was nothing new. He learned to suppress his emotions a long time ago. This was just another burst of lava into the chamber, its propulsion adding to the others, creating a potential eruption that could happen any time. Lucky for Justin, the magma wasn’t going to be ready to spew prematurely.
Halloween came on a crisp Friday morning. It was definitely October, trees naked, shivering in the breeze, jackets and caps covering cold flesh, and warm drinks soothing thirsty throats. Justin decided that no matter what happened to day, he would enjoy it; after all he knew it would be his last visit to high school.
After school Justin headed home and spent a couple hours with his mother before she left for work. They enjoyed a nice dinner together as well as a few long embraces. After the pork chops were eaten, and the dishes placed in the dishwasher, the old grandfather clock in the corner of the room struck six, and Justin’s mother left for work.
On her way out the door, Justin told his mother he loved her, as he always did. This time it took on new meaning. He waved to her from the front porch as she backed her Oldsmobile into the street. He felt a warm tear trickle down his cheek as her black car became a dot, and then nothing. Wiping away the tears, he checked his watch, 6:15; this gave him an hour and a half before he needed to report to The Bloodshed.
All of the emotion that had welled up in Justin had been alleviated, and he began to prepare. He headed out through the browning grass and cracked concrete stepping stones to the door of the tool shed. Without bothering to turn on the light, Justin collected his new skeleton mask, his navy blue coveralls flecked with fake blood, and the small shoe box containing multiple knives.
Once back in the house he dressed in blue cargo jeans with large pockets, and a long sleeved t-shirt. He grabbed the scissors from the roll top desk, and after pulling the pockets out of the coveralls, he cut them all. Now he was able to reach through the pockets of his coveralls, into the pockets of his jeans. After sheathing four of the knives, he placed them into the pockets of the worn jeans. Saving his favorite for last, he placed the straight razor, in his right hip pocket.
Next, he dressed himself in the coveralls, and studied himself in the mirror for a long time. Looking for signs that would raise suspicion, he decided that the knives were all deceptively hidden. Finally he pulled on the mask, and looked at himself in the mirror. His grin under the mask matched the psychotic one the skeleton wore. He reached into the pockets, and realized grabbing the knives from his jeans was going to be easier that he anticipated.
“Let’s go!” Destin yelled while also blaring the horn. He and Steve had been sitting in the driveway for close to ten minutes now. When the girls appeared though, both Steve and Marcus agreed that it was well worth the wait. The girls dressed similarly, wearing black skirts with fishnet stockings, pink sweaters, and enough mascara to make a zombie jealous.
As they approached the car, Marcus once again blared the horn, making both of them jump and giggle. They hopped in the backseat and were greeted with,
“It’s about time!”
“Look at us, and tell me it wasn’t worth it,” said Amanda.
“Little heavy on the mascara, but I think you look sexy,”
“It’s Halloween silly; we’re trying to look scary and sexy at the same time.”
Marcus smiled at her response and backed the car out of the driveway.
They arrived at The Bloodshed around 9:30 p.m. Marcus cut the engine and the four exited the sedan. The girls huddled close to their boyfriends, and used them to block the sharp, October evening wind. At the entrance, they were met with a crowd of people waiting outside for their turn to have the life scared out of them. People in line were chatting about previous trips to The Bloodshed, rumors, and past Halloween stories. The boys held their women tightly as they waited outside complaining and slightly miserable on account of the cold weather.
Unbeknown to them, Justin watched them from the top floor window of The Bloodshed. For the past six weeks he timed people, and knew precisely the average time it took a small group of people to progress through the initial three floors of mayhem housed in The Bloodshed. Justin calculated that the average time for a group of four people to make it to the top floor was between fifty minutes and an hour but rarely would people from the same group make it up together.
He watched Marcus and Steve each purchase two tickets, and walk into his playground. He checked his watch. 10:06 exactly. They should arrive around 11. Just as this thought crossed his mind, he jumped out from a little alcove by the final window and scared the shit out of another satisfied customer. He had been scaring people for a couple years now, but for some reason this one felt more real and significant than ever before. He was fucking ready.
Amanda held Marcus’s hand with a vice grip as they entered the first of the four floor onslaught. As the four walked through the dimly lit haunted prison, some inmates stared holes right through them, while others realistically pretended to cut themselves as rivers of blood flowed from their arms and necks.
The first big scare of the evening occurred on the first floor. Even though it was staged, it looked very real. Just in front of them a small scraggly looking man was running from a predator twice his size wearing a pig mask, screaming for all the help in the world that would never come. For a moment Marcus wanted to come to his aid. He had to keep reminding himself that this was merely part of the show. He couldn’t look scared in front of his gorgeous woman. The man all four pondered saving was caught by pig face, who proceeded to stab him repeatedly in the gut, the scraggly man shrieked as blood spewed from the wound. Even though Marcus and the others knew it was fake, it looked extremely real, and they began to feel sick to their stomachs. This was what they paid for.
Leaving the scrawny man a quivering, bloody heap, pig face turned to the four. Even knowing it is purely entertainment, when your being chased by a pig faced man twice your size, with a knife, covered in blood, you fucking run. The four branched off, and evaded the large attacker, as did others behind them.
Running hand in hand without looking back, Marcus and Amanda made it to the steps leading to the second floor. They darted up the creaky wooden steps, which served as a sort of asylum after what they just saw. Pig face was no longer in sight, so they waited, while catching their breath and nervously giggling, for Steve and Stacey. When they caught up, together they made their way to the second floor.
Most of the employees on the second floor wore masks from either Halloween, or Nightmare on Elm Street. The landscape recreated scenes from these movies. In one lighted nook, they observed a young Michael Myers stabbing his sister repeatedly while she brushed her hair. A little farther down the corridor, they observed a bed with a geyser of blood shooting all over the walls and ceiling.
They briefly stopped to watch the geyser, and wonder how The Bloodshed pulled off such a perfect recreation of the scene from the legendary horror movie A Nightmare on Elm Street. The awe they watched in was cut short with the loud, roaring buzz of a chainsaw. Marcus wasn’t quite sure if he smelled the gas, or heard the buzz first, but to him, both were noble causes to run for his life. He darted backwards, knocking Steve and Stacey into a few frightened faces behind them. Leaving Amanda behind, he retreated into the darkness towards the end of the corridor they came in.
Amanda saw the chainsaw wielding behemoth raise the blade high, and before he could lower it, she sprinted past him, grazing him and knocking him off balance. After she past him, she ducked past a few other goons, and dived into the staircase leading to the third floor. She sat a few steps into the darkness and waited.
She waited for what seemed like forever as other startled groups and couples passed her, but none of them were the friends she waited for. After nervously bouncing her knees and twisting her hair, she braced herself on the banister, and slowly made her way to the third floor.
Steve and Stacey had evaded the chainsaw wielding maniac only to be confronted by another. They saw the fear in each other’s eyes as they froze in limbo between two buzzing chainsaws. In an instant, harnessing the adrenaline, both dived in separate directions. Steve rolled behind a wooden pillar, where he caught his breath and checked his pants. Stacey scrambled into a young couple to her side. After apologizing with her eyes, because her breath was long gone, she made her way to the steps moments after Amanda had ascended them. Here she waited for her love to come to her aid.
At the top of the stair case, Amanda timidly took a step into the room and saw the graveyard. To say that the graveyard looked creepy was like saying the Zodiac was just a killer. The flashing strobe lights coupled with looped bloodcurdling screams by itself was strong enough to sicken a stomach. Add to that bleeding heads on pikes, staged bodies looking like Manson Family or Ripper victims lying on the floor, and people stumbling through the rows of headstones with nothing on the brain other than instilling fear created one hell of a terrifying scene.
Amanda’s face twisted in horror as she walked about thirty yards into the graveyard, avoiding headstones, and the masked people roaming between the rows. She knew she was nearing the end of The Bloodshed, and took a slow deep breath, when she felt the tip of the knife thrust right between her shoulder blades. She screamed, but it didn‘t even amplify due to the constant screams radiating in the background. Quickly, her assailant spun her around and plunged the knife in her stomach also giving it a violent twist. By now she was covered in blood and inches from death. She looked through glazed eyes to see a glow in the dark skeleton mask. Amanda crumpled to her knees, then her back and became nothing more than a lifeless decoration to scare the others.
Justin smiled under the mask, and for a split second relished in the beauty of his work. He knew he had timed it perfectly. Leaving the knife beside her he disappeared upstairs.
Back at the staircase, Steve finally caught up with Stacey. She flashed him a terrified smile and hand in hand they walked quickly up the steps. As they entered the graveyard, the familiar combination of fear and adrenaline began flowing through them. Walking briskly, they avoided the staged bodies lying on the ground. When they walked a little less than halfway through the large room, they saw her.
Both saw the lifeless body of Amanda at the same time, and immediately rushed to her. Steve grabbed her hand, desperately searching for a pulse but found nothing other than the still warm sensation of her recently departed flesh. Steve and Stacey began shouting to each other, but their cries for help were drowned out by the screams coming from the speakers in the room. Together, and thinking alike they headed toward the final staircase hoping that it would be closer to someone who could help.
At the top of the final staircase they were greeted with a tunnel that would make even the most fearless claustrophobic. Reluctantly Steve laid on his belly and with Stacey close behind, the couple wormed their way through the ten foot tunnel. The flashing light at the other end came from a strobe light, and the constant loop of screams and saws continued as they exited the tunnel.
The strobe light flashed against a black wall with a yellow arrow pointing left on it. It was far too late to turn back, and both knew it. They discovered it was a labyrinth, and with a slight bit of hesitation, they headed directly into the storm.
They walked left and then wound around to their right. Every few seconds, the strobe lights flashed, giving them a hint at navigating the maze. After winding to the right, like a blind man finding his way around, Steve and Stacey held hands with one hand, and followed the wall with the other. The couple walked straight about twenty paces before they hit a fork in the path. Without consulting Stacey, Steve took the path branching left. Big mistake. After making a quick right, the familiar scent of gasoline greeted them. While the smell invaded their nostrils, the monstrosity brandishing the chainsaw stepped into sight.
Knowing that someone in The Bloodshed was an actual killer made this all the more terrifying for Stacey and Steve. The burly man raised the chainsaw high above his head, and Steve went for the kill. Steve lunged at the man leading with both fists. The blow landed squarely and the fiend took a step back, and dropped to his knees. While the man gasped for lost air, Steve and Stacey whirled around and took the fork leading to the right.
Screams continued to blare from the speakers, slowly making them sick to their stomachs. The path to the right of the fork went straight about fifteen feet, and then twisted off the right. In the blackness, Stacey and Steve decided to wait for the brilliant flash of the strobe lights before progressing. Waiting for the next flash, they knew that it would be coming within two seconds.
On schedule the light flashed, but instead of welcome light helping to lead the way, they were met with a six foot tall figure wearing coveralls and a smiling skeleton mask. Stacey’s scream caught in her throat, due to the knife the figure buried in it. Steve looked in horror as his love’s blood sprayed from her severed jugular vein, and splattered all over his face.
Stacey fell to the floor squirming for a few seconds before becoming still. Steve formed a fist, and threw a haymaker at the figure wearing the skeleton mask. The figure easily dodged the blow and connected with a counter shot. With a swift motion, the figure ducked behind Steve’s back, while also putting him in a headlock. Steve wrestled with the attacker, but the grip was tightened and Steve was at his mercy. The figure then reached into its pocket, and pulled out a small straight razor. The strobe lights flashed again just in time for Steve to see the hand bring it up to his neck. With lot of force, Justin sliced the tender flesh of Steve’s Adam’s apple. Justin giggled, finding it funny that Steve was so covered in blood that only a forensics lab could tell whose was whose.
Before anyone else came, Justin dragged the bodies by the feet, one at a time, into an alcove he had discovered during one of his many trips through the labyrinth. That’s three he thought to himself, one left to go. Justin remembered his plan, smiling devilishly knowing that the prior three had it easy. He was saving the best for last.
Marcus was sick of waiting. Where are they? He thought to himself. Since his act of cowardice he had been looking all over the place for them. He looked throughout the second floor avoiding people wearing masks. After he was certain they weren’t on the second floor, he waited by the steps for a good twenty minutes trying to find just one of them.
After those twenty minutes, he gave up and decided to meet them either at the exit or back at the car. He walked up the steps into the cemetery. Marcus felt his stomach tie into tight knots as he observed both the visual and auditory effects. He walked briskly, ready to end this evening and spend some alone time with Amanda. Marcus’s mind almost became a utopia as he imagined the sex to take place later in the evening. These thoughts were cut short when he stumbled upon the lifeless body of his girl. He rushed to her. He shook her. He attempted mouth to mouth on her face, lifelessly twisted in pain and horror. His cries for help couldn‘t be heard over the noise resonating throughout the cemetery. Marcus tried to grab a hold of other people near him, but they looked at him like he was crazy, and continued through The Bloodshed.
He decided that the fastest way out was to complete the final floor, and immediately call for help. He sprinted towards the staircase knocking a few people over, he didn’t care, he had to get help. Marcus also mentally prepared himself, he knew that there was a killer on the loose, and that in a haunted house, anyone could be a killer. He couldn’t trust anyone. He darted up the steps.
At the top of the steps, the same painted arrow, strobe lights and maze welcomed him. Trying to stay calm, he entered the labyrinth. He followed the same twisting and turning path that Stacey and Steve had taken. At the fork, Marcus chose to go right, and a few steps on to the path he slipped but managed to brace himself on the wall. As the strobe light flashed, he glanced down to see the unmistakable blackness of fresh blood in the dark.
This led him to panic, and he began running as fast as he could. Running at near full speed, his face met with a solid wall knocking him off balance, and causing blood to trickle from his nose. Claustrophobia, fear, pain, and rage all flooded his body at once. He was helpless. Feeling the wall, he took a right, and laid his eyes on the window with the ropes to get out of this nightmare.
Calmly, Justin watched the panicked Marcus rush over to the window. Out of the shadows, Justin, covered in blood, began walking towards him. As Justin approached he could see the tears of fear and desperation running down Marcus’s face. Justin held his two biggest knives, one in each hand.
Marcus saw the skeleton faced figure wearing blood soaked coveralls and knew this was the demon that took his love. Marcus, ran straight at Justin, and attempted a football style tackle. It barely hit, and Justin rolled mostly out of the way. Taking advantage of both their positions, Justin, with the serrated knife in his right hand, sliced through the meat of Marcus’s left Achilles tendon.
Marcus braced himself on the wall, while Justin got up. The pain became too much to bear and as his final action before falling to his knees, he reached out a shaky right hand and pulled the mask off of his assailant.
With a smile coming from Marcus’s absolute disbelief, Justin put his nose up to Marcus’s and demonically screamed, “LOOK AT THIS FACE MOTHERFUCKER, THIS FACE WILL BE THE LAST THING YOU EVER FUCKING SEE!” Justin then raised both of his hands, still holding the long bladed knives, and with years of rage, buried them both in Marcus’s eyes.
Marcus howled in pain as blood, pus, and piss flooded his body and the floor. While Marcus was subdued and the knives stood erect from his eye sockets, Justin reached out the large open window and fetched two of the ropes. Earlier in the evening, he had taken two of the escape ropes, and tied them into nooses. He slipped the first around Marcus’s neck. He had to concentrate because of the slipperiness of the blood. Marcus, like a pig in a slaughterhouse, just kept screaming.
Once Destin’s neck was securely in the noose, Justin hoisted him up, and tossed him out the window. Justin then looked into the mirror on the wall opposite him, grinned at himself, and tightened the other noose around his neck. He stood on the windowsill for a few moments enjoying the cool evening breeze, as if flowed through his hair. Like a swimmer from the high dive, he then dove like a swan head first outside his only haven.
Welp, that was actually worse than I thought.
Please let me remind you all that THIS IS THE FIRST(Worst) STORY I EVER WROTE!
I know we are all our own toughest critic, but that sucked. I still love the concept, never seen it done before and I think it’s creepy as hell. Will really make you question if that haunted house/maze/hospital or whatever your town has will one day succumb the psychosis of a madman.
But unlike Justin, my execution isn’t very good. And I really hope you all caught the whole “I’d have to be dead to hang out with you joke” that’s one of the only redeeming qualities. There are a number of horrible things that annoy me with this story. Here’s a few.
-this is wordy as hell. I think I could chop close to 2000 words and not harm the story one bit.
-the story doesn’t really start until over halfway through so actually about 3-4 thousand words could/should be cut
-the whole premise of “escape ropes” is preposterous
-if you read my current stories, I waste almost no words with description. I do it ad nauseum here.
-I don’t know if I buy the “show don’t tell” rule all that much, but if I was ever going to teach it, this story would be a perfect justification for it
-how many times can you say “thought to himself” before you realize how redundant that is? Apparently to my young self, there isn’t a limit
-I can keep going, but I think you all probably get it.
I ain’t saying I’m great now, hell not even good. But I’m better. I hope you go seek out a few of my other stories if you haven’t already, for comparison purposes of course 😉 Especially you writers out there who are just starting. This shit is a grind. It’s like a video game. You work and you fight and you gain new weapons and items and experience points and you level up. But it takes time.
Just because you wrote it doesn’t make it any good. (I don’t care what the fuck people who self-publish unedited garbage on Amazon say) Write more, get better and when you look back at where you were 6 or 7 years ago, you can see the growth. It’ll make you feel good, I promise.
I hope you all learned something from the story and maybe even enjoyed parts of it.
Like I said earlier, I’ll be around. Posting occasionally and still reaping all of the markets that HT so graciously tips us off on. And if you want to contact me, feel free, I’d love it. Find me on Facebook New World Horror – Kerry G.S. Lipp, twitter @kerrylipp. Email [email protected] and I’ve never posted this one publicly before, but it’s not that hard to find either, facebook Kerry GiansSquid Lipp. That’s the GS for those of you late to the party.
Happy Halloween and I’ll see you all around. Take care of your bad selves. AND THANKS SO MUCH FOR EVERYTHING.
Keep reading, keep writing, and keep it real,
- Taking Submissions: Third Point Press December 2018 Issue - September 25, 2018
- Ongoing Submissions: Folded Word - September 25, 2018
- Taking Submissions: Urban Crime - September 24, 2018
- Taking Submissions: American Gothic - September 24, 2018
- Taking Submissions: 2100 A Health Odyssey Contest - September 24, 2018
- Ongoing Submissions: Zooscape - September 24, 2018
- Ongoing Submissions: Nanoism - September 24, 2018
- Trembling With Fear 09/23/2018 - September 23, 2018
- The Horror Tree Presents… An Interview with Dean M. Drinkel - September 22, 2018
- Taking Submissions: Black Labyrinth Anthology I : Possession - September 21, 2018