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Preview: THE RIFT (an online supernatural thriller)

Jason West: The Rift

Jason West uses power from a rift between our world and a much darker world to fight the sinister forces lurking at St. Lawrence Academy.

Updated: 2018-03-06T20:03:50.112-05:00


1: An Unfriendly Welcome to St. Lawrence Academy


I wasn't the smartest kid in the world, but I wasn't dumb. I knew a rat when I smelled one. When I was five, I stuck a knife in an electric socket. Everyone knows nothing good’s going to happen when you stick a knife in an electric socket. That didn’t keep me from doing it. Sometimes I just wanted to find things out for myself. That was one of those times.Call me Jason. Not Jase, or Jasey, or Jase-my-man. It’s Jason. Jason West. Maybe if things like people not saying my full name didn't piss the hell out of me, I wouldn’t have ended up at St. Lawrence Academy.I’ll admit to having a short temper. I’d tell you to ask Dax Leary about it, but the doctors say that he’s got another three months before he should be moving his jaw. Kinda sucks. I warned him, though, so I don't think I should have to feel all that guilty. Wish dad felt the same way. Don’t worry. I’m not gonna give you that crap about being from a broken home and psycho-bullshitting my life to help you get who I am. If you don't get me, screw you.Dax Leary was the asshole of St. Luke’s football team. St. Luke is a rat-hole Catholic school in Tennessee. By rat-hole, I mean where the rat lawyers and doctors shit out their kids, while them and their trophy wives took trips to Boca Raton, Del Mar, and Akron for five week intervals. Me and Dax never had any issues, mainly because we didn’t hang in the same circles. That wasn't very difficult for me to accomplish because I never had a circle—or friends for that matter. He had hardly noticed me until one day when I accidentally bumped into him in the hallway.Dax was a beefy guy with unnaturally edged muscles that you and me both know are the result of illegal steroid usage. No 17-year-old is supposed to look like an Abercrombie model. He was a tower of rock, so I ricocheted right off his arm.“Watch it freak!”This didn’t really bother me. He was caught off guard, and I would have given a similar knee-jerk reaction.His goons stood at his sides, their glares encouraging Dax to punish me for my transgression. I slid past them."Looks like Jasey’s trying to feel me up!”I halted—that kind of halt where it feels like you’re body’s being pulled back.“What’d you call me?” I asked in a guttural whisper. Dax may have been bigger than me, but my impressive past with a violent disposition assured me that my temper could easily outperform his fluff-muscles.“You got a problem?...Jasey?”I turned around. Dax’s arched brow lowered slightly, as his confidence diminished.“You’ve been warned," I said.“Oooo.”“Pcht!”Snickering.His goons were amused by my dead-serious words. Dax’s quivering lip assured me that he knew my intention behind them. His game face was ruined, but with his buddies behind him and seeming to be awaiting retaliation, he evidently feared their disapproval over my reaction. He opened his mouth again.“What?....Jasey?”If you want to know the difference between the sound of a melon splattering against concrete and Dax’s head bashing into a brick wall: there isn’t one.So there I was, four weeks later, having been forced to leave St. Luke’s, with my Dad using the influence of money and his high-powered attorney to keep me in school and on 'the right track.'That’s where St. Lawrence Academy came in. On the brochure, it looked miserable. A bunch of anime-eyed guys patting each others' backs and two girls laughing their heads off. It looked more like a poster for a remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers than a brochure for a Catholic school. I didn’t know any guys like that—the kind that patted each others' backs and had those ridiculously big eyes. I guess their eyes were so big because they were trying to open them wide enough to take in all the beauty of life. Whatever their reason, I sure as hell didn't want to know them. Claire didn’t like it when I talked about happy people like that—like there was something wrong with them. She said it meant that I could be a sociopath or have suicidal tendencies. There were like a million other things[...]

2: Roomies


“Hey, Stud.”A juggernaut stood in the doorway, resting his arm on the frame. He was only in a pair of faded, red boxers and a necklace that held a circular, golden coin between his unnaturally large pecks.Guess everyone and their mother can get their hands on steroids these days.The edges of his shoulders were sharp and jagged. His pecks bulged at least four inches from his chest, and his arched biceps pushed out so that I could see several pronounced veins. Though he didn't have a six pack, his abs had a smooth line that divided two well-defined muscles. He had a thick, rough five-o'clock shadow, which led me to suspect that his perfectly smooth body was the result of an hour long shaving session every week or so. With a body like that, he probably didn't want any hair concealing his perfect curves and arcs.His face was just as perfect as his body. He had baby blue eyes—the kind that had probably helped him get out of a lot of scrapes when he was little. They sparkled in the hall's fluorescent lights. He sported one of those annoying cocked grins as he revealed a row of perfect teeth. His dark-brown hair was just an inch longer than a crew cut. It laid flat, expect for the gelled front. He stood in the doorway, looking me up and down. He must have heard me slip my key in because the door had opened before I had a chance to turn the knob.His "Hey, Stud" comment evoked some concern. I hoped that he wasn't trying to provoke me on my first day. How would Dad get me out of that one? Kicked out of one school after two months—kicked out of the next after a day.Something in the juggernaut's gaze assured me that it was not intended as a threat, but as an invitation. I stared at him blankly.“I’m Brad,” he said. He extended his hand. We shook. His biceps and triceps did a little dance. His peck bobbed up and down.“Jason,” I said in my usual, conversationalist fashion.Brad flashed an arrogant smile. A shimmer in his eyes evoked further concern. This one was different than the first look he'd given me. It was more like the one Father Daniels had given me—that look like he had something planned for me. Unlike with Father Daniels, I felt like I had a better idea of what Brad's plan was.Guess I'll be sleeping with one eye open.“Welcome to Hell,” Brad said. He winked.“Oh…it’s not that bad,” a voice said from behind him.Brad stepped aside and turned to a guy sitting at a desk, typing away on his laptop. Black t-shirt, jeans, and much scrawnier than mega-Brad. Not that he was a little guy. He just looked so much smaller than Brad. But then again, so did I.His hair was jet-black against his pasty flesh. He had sharp features, and a large nose that stuck out almost as long as Brad’s pecks. His smooth face gave him an almost boyish look.He didn’t look at me—just continued typing. The way that Brad stood by the door made him look like this guy's bodyguard.“So you’re our new roomie,” he said. “Right side, bottom bunk. Bottom drawer. Space in the closet is yours.”Brad waved his hand to invite me in.I stepped in and looked around uneasily. I’ll admit to being somewhat claustrophobic, and the size of dorm rooms always make me a bit uneasy—at least until I got settled.It was the typical setup. There were two bunk-beds. At the back of the room, a large window looked out at an oak tree that effectively obscured the room from light. The lack of light made the room appear even more cave-like. My pulse sped up.On one side of the room, a desk was being used as a laundry bin, books were shelved on the beds, and a few dumbbells lied on the floor. The other side was perfect. Everything at the pasty guy’s desk had a place. The pencils and pens were all bunched together in a tin, the printer was set on a stand right beside the desk, and the papers were placed in a little bin that read: Homework. The bed was made, and the only article of clothing that was in sight was a stray sock that lied under the bed. I assumed the sock was an oversight.I reached the bunk and dropped my bac[...]

3: The Strange Becomes Stranger


“My mom says they’re lying.”“Bullshit.”A long-haired, big-boobed brunette and a flat-chested redhead whispered by the bleachers during P.E.It was my first day, and I had gone through the motions of talking to my teachers about what assignments would transfer and what ones I would make up. None of that was nearly as interesting as the whispers and muffled voices that surrounded me all day long. From what I gathered, everyone knew about this Lawrenceville Slasher that I’d seen in the paper Brad had dropped. I assumed that no one was allowed to talk about it and that was why they all had to do it in such quiet voices. Perhaps that was why Brad and Seth had been so serious. Maybe they were afraid I might report them for finding the paper in our room.Through my eavesdropping, I learned very quickly that “the night”, “it”, and “the thing” were all codewords for the Lawrenceville Slasher. Contrary to my normal disinterest to the blah blah blah that the kids at school talked about, I wanted to know what this was all about.“No, it’s true. My cousin’s an officer downtown and says that it’s more like the eleventh or twelfth.”This was one of the more clever conversations about the Slasher. They didn’t even need a codeword.“The Lawrenceville Post said it’s only the sixth,” the redhead insisted, in an equally quiet whisper.“My cousin says that the Mayor is trying to keep everyone from panicking, so he’s telling the papers less, so it won’t look so bad.”The redhead eyed the brunette suspiciously, as if she didn’t want to give her the benefit of the doubt.The brunette’s eyes flashed to me. She must have felt my gaze burning against her face. She gave me a furrowed brow to let me know that I wasn’t invited into their little conversation...or anything else for that matter.Bitch.“Alright everyone! Huddle up!” Coach Williams came onto the field, carrying a soccer ball. He was a beefy, round man with a face of stubble and a naked scalp. He looked like he was in his late 30s, but a few Twinkies and a pack of Camel had made him age in dog-years. He wasn’t all that different than Coach Michaels at St. Luke’s.Why do they always make the fat ones P.E. instructors?We gathered in a circle around him. Seth and Brad, who happened to be in my P.E. class, were standing on the other side of the circle, slightly outside of it. They had been easy to get along with as roommates, mainly because they were rarely ever around. I didn’t know what they were off doing, but I didn’t really care. I liked the privacy, and I was glad to have roommates who didn’t want to be in the same room with me.They stood next to a small, mousy-looking blond. She had a tiny nose and tiny hands and was about two feet shorter than Brad, making Seth look like he wasn’t all that small. Other than her size, it was interesting seeing her standing next to Brad and Seth. They seemed confident and sur. She looked around uneasily—like she felt uncomfortable about being out around people. I guess if I were a mouse, I would too. No one likes to be stepped on.Coach Williams divided the circle in equal halves for teams. Seth, Brad, and the mousy girl were put on the opposite team as me.I wasn’t a big sports guy, and I wasn’t really interested in playing a game. Even for a grade. I was just gonna do what I’d always done in P.E.—go with the crowd and pretend to give a shit.Coach Williams reffed the game as we went back and forth for a few minutes.Sweat poured down Brad’s brow. As he raced across the field with Seth, pit stains in his grey shirt grew larger and larger. Brad and Seth had intense gleams in their eyes. Almost everyone else was like me: pathetic. They didn’t give a shit and wanted to get this class over with so they could go home.Seth and Brad plowed through our team, scoring on us three or four times, regardless of who had the ball to begin with. Seth had the speed. He’d catch up with the ball and swipe it from whoever had it. Or he'd just use[...]

4: They Don't Fight Fair


“Oh, Jason, Jason, Jason.” Seth made a clicking sound with his tongue as he continued moving toward me.He looked like a ghost, and it wasn’t my imagination. It was that goddamn pasty skin of his.Brad walked up from behind him, towering over me seemingly more than usual. They backed me against the window.“NO! NO!” I insisted. I had to be having a nightmare, because what was happening was impossible. “Your leg?!”Seth smiled. “What’s wrong with it?”“I saw it! It ripped off and—”“You really think I’d be here if my leg had ripped off?”It felt like my head was going to explode. “No, but you can’t—”“Look at him,” Brad interrupted, setting his hand on the window and leaning into me so that his nose was two inches from my face. I could feel his hot breath on my lips as he whispered, “He’s really cute when he’s scared.”My heart raced. Not from the whole douchey Brad in my face thing. More from the whole Seth should still be in ER getting his leg set thing.Seth got just as close as Brad so that we were all huddled against the window. My breath quickened and my heart sped up as claustrophobia started to kick in.I glanced at Seth’s jeans. A huge bloodstain with streaks extended down to his shoes, which were covered in a mix of mud and blood. It was the only proof I had to convince myself that I hadn’t made the whole swinging leg bit up.“Just let me play with him for a while,” Brad said.His nose brushed across my ear. My head snapped up. He clenched his necklace and stared at me with his eager blue eyes. He bit his lip. It was evident that he wanted to do more than rough me up.“I think he’d like that,” Seth replied with a giddy smile.My fear was replaced with rage, but I kept it under control so that we didn’t have another P.E. experience.“If you’re gonna to do something,” I said through clenched teeth. “Just do it.”Seth’s lips tightened. He gave me a stern glare. He obviously wasn’t a fan of people challenging his authority.“No, Jason,” he insisted. “You wouldn’t like that.”We stared each other down.He made a fist and took a quick step at me. My back arched, chest tensed, and fists clenched as my body went into defense mode.Seth chuckled. He shook his head. False alarm.“You’re not worth my shit,” he said. He whipped around and headed for the door.My testosterone kicked in, and I went at him fists-first.He turned back, holding his necklace. He stared into my eyes. He didn’t look even a little concerned about my attack. I was sure it was because he thought Brad was going to bail him out, but at the speed I was going, there was no way even Brad was going to be able to pull me off before I got a few good face shots in.Seth’s brow was cocked, like he was challenging me to take my best shot.I swung. It was going to be nice to knock him and that stupid brow to the floor.Just as my fist was about to make contact with his pasty flesh, a powerful force pulled me from behind and threw me back. Not just a little throw. My body flew into the air and my back slammed into the window so hard that I was surprised I didn’t hear it crack. Not the window—my back.Damn Brad’s quick, I thought.But Brad was standing beside me, his arms folded, a snarky grin on his face.Seth stood a few feet from me, like he was still waiting for me to make a move.I looked around, trying to figure out how I’d ended up against the window. An odd realization hit me. I was taller than Brad and much taller than Seth. I looked to my feet. I was literally hovering over the half-dressers between our bunks.I tried to take a step forward. My foot didn’t budge. I was practically glued to the window.My arms were stretched out, my wrists pressed against the glass just like my feet. I struggled to get one of my arms free. I pushed and pushed, but it was like I had a 700 pound weight tied to my wrist. I inched my hand forward till my muscles gave, and it flew back against the glass.What the hell wa[...]

5: A Good Swim


I wasn’t an idiot. I knew what was going to happen if I stuck a knife into an electric socket. But that wasn’t going to keep me from doing it.“Have you heard about Seth?” I asked the brunette from P.E.Evidently, she was in my American Lit class. I’d seen her as I’d walked into the class, sitting with one of her girlfriends in the back corner. They were dressed in those goddamn black uniform blazers that cover up girls' chests. They made the brunette’s girlfriend, with a bowl cut and bizarrely large nostrils, look even more flat-chested than she probably already was. Even with the constraint, the brunette’s boobs were fine. They pushed her blazer forward, making a nice curve. I’d been fortunate enough to have seen her in gym clothes the day before, strutting her girls, so I knew what they were capable of. But it was a shame that uniforms had to ruin perfectly wonderful breasts. And boobs weren’t the only thing uniforms ruined. I had to keep doing an awkward crotch pull-down whenever my slacks decided to ride up on me.As I’d approached the brunette, I’d heard her giving her flat-chested girlfriend the scoop about what had gone down in P.E. the day before. I had wisely cut in. With all the gossipy circles the brunette must have been a part of, I was sure she knew Seth was okay, but she was the kind of girl that was open to any new perspectives on the latest, most exciting topic. Her on and on voice had come to a quick halt, and she’d turned right to me. Even under that blazer, I could tell her boobs were doing a nice little jiggle.“No. What?!” she sped-asked. Her big, brown eyes lit up with a false concern and a very real excitement.She’d taken my bait.Sucker.“He’s fine. Evidently, he’s double jointed or somethin’. Came back to the dorm last night.”Her eyes dulled. She was incredibly disappointed by my lack of intel.“But hey,” I said in my least cunning of ways. “You don’t happen to know that girl who was the goalie for Brad and Seth’s team, do ya?”Her eyes lit up again. I’d seen that look before. It’s that look girls get when they think they have dirt on you. Claire, the counselor at St. Luke, used to get it all the time after every sentence I said.“Why?” she asked in an eager, melodic voice. Something about the way she said it and that awkward gleam in her eyes made it clear that she thought I was trying to hook up with that girl. And that was fine by me. It was better for her to think that than know the truth.I felt my pants riding up, but bit my lip. Now was not the time for an adjustment. “I dunno,” I played, acting like she’d caught me in my interest for the mousy goalie girl. “Just curious.”She grinned. “Her name is Carrie Morgan. I could totally talk to her for you, if you wanted.” She was a pro at this game. She must have been trying for Class Matchmaker.“No, no, no,” I insisted. If that got back to Brad and Seth, I was a dead man.She was caught off guard by my insistence. By the look she gave me, I figured I might as well have reached down and made my adjustment.“I mean…I would rather do this myself,” I said, covering up my motive.She bought it. She straightened her neck. Her head and boobs gave nods of approval, as if they were pleased to see a guy who was willing to be bold.“My name’s Megan, by the way.”“Jason,” I replied, not really in the mood for introductions. I just wanted to get to my desk and wiggle my pants down.She smiled. It was a radical transformation from the stone-cold glare she’d given me the day before when she’d caught me eavesdropping on her gossip about the Lawrenceville Slasher.“Nice to meet you, Jason.”So…the mousy girl’s name was Carrie Morgan. Why was this so important? Because I had a plan. I was going to get to the bottom of this whole Seth and Brad having superpowers thing, but I couldn’t just snoop around right after they’d kicked my butt. They’d know something was [...]

6: I'll Kill You


The taut, rusty chain pressed my neck against the side of the ladder. I needed air, but that wasn’t in my foreseeable future. I could feel blood rushing to my head. I thought if it didn’t stop, the back of my skull was going to blow off.The chain ran from around the ladder, up through the surface of the water, to a blurred image of the black cloaked Brad. He stood on the deck. From what I could make out, he had the chain wrapped around his forearm, tugging to keep it tight around my neck.It was one of those thick chains that you see Rottweilers and Doberman pinchers tied up with, so breaking it wasn’t an option. I had an idea, but the odds of it working against someone Brad’s size seemed slim.The tight chain hung just over my head. I braced my legs against the wall, grabbed onto the chain with both hands, and yanked at it with everything I had (which by this point, wasn’t much). The black cloaked asshole held strong. My neck was still locked against the side of the ladder, but the yank had given me a little slack.I pulled even harder. My biceps tensed, pulsated. I dug my legs into the wall. My thighs tightened. Every muscle in my body was either stiff or twitching. It reminded me of a few weeks in P.E. back at St. Luke when we’d done weight training. Everyone had to lift a certain amount and do X number of reps for their weight class, and then we were graded for it. It had been three weeks of moaning and making odd grunting sounds as we struggled to contort our muscles to get those barbells just a little higher. I remembered how tense and stiff my muscles had been mid-lifting, and it felt the same now. Though the real familiarity was my throbbing skull and clenched jaw. The only difference was that, in P.E. if I couldn’t lift the weight, I got a C. If I couldn’t this time, I was dead.I inched Brad closer and closer to the edge of the pool. It was a tug-o-war for my life, and I wasn’t going to lose. I felt the chain around my neck loosen, but I kept pulling at it and pressing my legs harder into the wall, knowing that I may only have one shot.The chain loosened some more. I kept one hand firmly on the chain and used the other to try and maneuver the chain up my neck and head. It was a tight squeeze. The rusty links scraped across my cheeks and tore at my ears and scalp, but I was in so much pain by this point that the sting didn’t feel nearly as bad as I thought it should. I pulled the last bit over my head.I was free!I kicked off the wall and went shooting out of the water, taking an enormous, well-deserved breath. It still felt like the chain was around my neck, restricting my breathing. But I had enough air to keep me from passing out.I reveled in my victory. It was amazing to be above water again—something that for a little while I thought might never happen again.A tug on my ankle reminded me that the other part of the chain was still tied to it. Back under I went. I was ripped back to the edge of the pool. I wasn’t worried anymore, though. Just mad as hell. Brad had had the upper hand before because he had caught me off guard. Now it was his rage vs. mine. And I knew that mine was going to win.He reached his hand down to grab me by the hair. I caught hold of his arm and kicked off the wall. He fell in.While he flailed about, I swam to the edge of the pool and pulled myself out. I scrambled on my belly across the cement and took some quick, frenzied breaths. My body was doing its best to compensate for the lost oxygen. My muscles and nerves were either stinging or throbbing or both, but I was so happy to be outta that pool that I didn’t care.I was facing the wall. Loud splashing sounds were the only thing letting me know that Brad was still struggling in the water. Heat rushed to my face. Not the loss-of-oxygen heat that I was dealing with before. More like uninhibited rage coming over me.I’m gonna kill him.I was about to get up and prepare for the fight [...]

7: The League


Carrie's green eyes were locked on mine. The combination of the fluorescent lights and me being right in her face revealed a shimmer of blue in them. They reminded me of marbles. I was pissed at her for looking so damn cute. She hadn’t said a word, but I felt like she was trying to use her adorable ponytail and form-fitting green tee to make me let my guard down.The intensity of the hand mark on her face against her usual milk-white flesh made me realize how rough I’d been with her. Her chest pushed in and out as she took quick, uneasy breaths through her long lips. She didn’t move, didn’t speak. I figured she was still in shock from me kidnapping her and forcing her into the clinic. But as much as I wanted to find some compassion for her, I couldn't forget the fact that she had something to do with why that monster had attacked me at the pool.I pressed the end of the pen back against her neck. If she had powers like Seth, she might take the opportunity to pin my ass against the wall, and I wanted her to know the moment she tried something, I'd tear into her. As cute and innocent as she looked, that wasn't going to keep me from ripping her in two. That whole not beating up girls rule goes to shit when you start getting attacked by monsters."Listen bitch," I hissed through clenched teeth.She gulped."I don't know what you guys' game is, but I was just attacked by a fucking skeleton Grim Reaper with a chain fetish, so you'd better talk. Cause if you don't, I'll make you!"Fear flashed in her eyes. They grew as wide as they'd been when I'd come at her with the soccer ball the week before. "The slasher," she whispered so softly I almost missed it.I hadn't made the connection till then, but once she said that, I realized that the monster was the Lawrenceville Slasher everyone had been talking about since I’d arrived at St. Lawrence. What I had assumed was just another psycho serial killer was actually that…whatever. And these crazies were sicking it on anyone who bothered them."You assholes tried to kill me!" I exclaimed."No, no," Carrie insisted. Her normal voice was nearly as quiet as her whisper."What...the going on?" I forced out. I was nauseous with confusion, and she still wasn’t giving me answers. What was wrong with this fucked up school? Why the hell did Brad and Seth have powers? Why was there a big monster in the pool? When did I start living in a world where things like that happened? And when was Carrie going to tell me something that made some sense? My mind raced in every direction. The confusion fueled my rage.Carrie's eyes wandered. Not like she was trying to avoid looking at me. More like she was trying to make sense of something. "We...I..." she stammered, struggling for words. "It was an accident."An accident my ass!"Don't bullshit me! Brad made my nose bleed. He knew that I'd have to stay late. He knew I'd be in the showers. He and Seth set me up so that they could get that thing to go after me.""No. They can't," she insisted."If you have a better explanation, I'd love to hear it." My words were filled with the kinda sarcasm that woulda made me want to punch someone's lights out if they used it on me."It's not us. I mean, it is, but..." She seemed confused. I didn't know if it was real or an act, but if she actually was, I knew that she was nowhere near as confused as I was. "'s not something we can control, we just...we—" She stopped, looked me directly in the eyes. "I'll explain. Please just let me sit down."To say I was reluctant is an understatement. Was she trying to get away? And if she succeeded, would she go back and get Seth and that creature and bring them back here to get me?"Sorry," I said with no sincerity. "Not happening."Her confusion morphed into irritation. She took a breath and pouted through her mouse-nose. Her long lips tightened. "Listen," she said, straining to make her voice louder than usual.[...]

8: Carrie Spills Her Guts


"We didn't make it up," she insisted, like she wasn't a fan of the name. "There were people before us."My anger relaxed. A calm reassurance swept over me. I was finally going to find out what some of these rats were about. As reassuring as that was, it couldn’t ease the throbbing in my head, the sting across my back, the swelling of my nose, and the pain that seemed to be....well, everywhere.I waited for her to continue, but she hesitated, looked me over. I followed her gaze to see what she was so distracted by.Goddammit!I still wasn't wearing a shirt.I blushed, stepped back. I didn't feel just shirtless. I felt naked. There I was, more confused than I'd ever been in my life, still shaking from having been attacked by a giant monster in the pool, practically begging her to help me, and I didn’t even have a goddamn shirt on. I must have looked so stupid. I had that primal urge to run, but I wasn't going to let Carrie know how self conscious I felt. I sucked it up. That's what Dad woulda told me to do. Bastard.I swallowed a thick lump of saliva. It felt like a golf ball trying to force its way down.Carrie's cheeks were nearly as red as the hand mark around her mouth. At least I wasn't alone.She pulled her gaze away from my chest, back to my face."They—um—" she began.We exchanged awkward looks—the ones where you try to act like your fine even though you’re wildly uncomfortable. I gave her a fake "I don't give a shit" look. But if mine was as bad as her "I was just looking around and didn't notice anything" look, then she knew exactly how uncomfortable I felt."The League..." she said, struggling to remember what she'd been talking about. "...discovered a hole between our world and another one." Her eyes wandered above my neck. It was clear that she was still affected. And I’ll admit that there was a small moment where I wondered whether or not she’d liked what she’d seen."This hole tears right through Lawrenceville,” she continued. “They called it the Rift. The League discovered this very potent, tangible energy that seeped out of it. And they found a way to control it.”“It’s like it spits out electricity?”It’d never been very easy for me to follow abstract ideas. I needed to relate it to something that made some sense to me. And electricity was the closest thing I’d been able to come up with.“It’s not electricity,” she insisted.“Yeah, I get that.”How stupid does this girl think I am?“Just go with me on this,” I said. “So this…rift…spits out a sort of electricity, and you guys plug into it?”Carrie’s tiny nose was all cringed up as she struggled through my analogy. “Sort of…” she said, as if it made some sense to her, but she didn’t want to go with it.“And that’s where your powers come from?”“Yes.”“So you guys are like toasters.”Carrie’s face was even more contorted, like she’d smelled something awful. She must’ve thought I was way out in left field.“In order to use your powers,” I explained, “you have to plug into this Rift thing. So it’s like a socket, and you guys have to plug into it in order to work. Like a toaster.”“No,” she said. “A toaster just plugs in and you can use it whenever you want. We can’t just plug in whenever. Like with what Seth and Brad did with you. They had to work on that for hours to build up their strength. We’re more like…like batteries. We have to recharge.”“Okay, okay,” I said. We were on a roll. “So what does that have to do with that..." Images of skeleton-thin hands covered in wrinkles and blisters jumbled in my head so that I couldn’t find words to describe it."The Rift fluctuates.”Fluctuates? What is this, the news?“Sometimes it expands quickly, and something big can get through. That's what happened with the Slasher.”I tried to make it fit into my electricity example. It kinda fel[...]

9: Run!


It looked like two spiders crawling out of the sides of the hole. They scurried across the wall, revealing wrinkly, blistered flesh, doused in what had to have been Ms. Ryder’s blood. Though, I didn’t really know. The Slasher could have gotten a few more kills in before finding me again.Where’d that knife go? I wondered.The hood of the black cloak slid out from between the spider-like hands. It pulled back into the hole. The fingers tightened against the wall. In an instant, the hood shot back out like a bullet.An urgent rush compelled me forward. I grabbed the bathroom door handle. My muscles, having already been overexerted during my chain tug-o-war at the pool, were extra-sensitive. My bicep burned as bad as the rubbing alcohol on my back as I forced the door shut.“Fuck, fuck, fuck!” I exclaimed, my words feeling as useless as Carrie’s declarations to a higher power just moments earlier.A loud clunk came from the other side of the door. It sounded like—and I hoped that—the Slasher had slammed into it.I swung around, dashed for the door to the hall.Carrie stood by the desk, on the other side of the clinic, staring at the bathroom door. Her mouth hung open. She was probably thinking about how poor Ms. Ryder didn’t deserve to die like that. I was in survival mode and too preoccupied with trying to keep us alive to worry about the already-deceased.“Carrie!” I snapped like a rude-ass who’d confused her for a dog.She shook her head. Without changing expressions, she darted toward me and the door.I threw it open, hopped into the hall. It was like when I’d raced other guys as a kid—that adrenaline kick right before I’d passed the finish line, followed by the reassurance that I’d made it, but that nagging feeling that I needed to keep going. Only this time, I really did need to keep going.I stopped, turned back to make sure Carrie was close behind. She ran out so fast I thought she was gonna plow into the wall on the other side of the hall. But instead, she made a quick turn and raced along the wall.If we’d been Lot’s wife, we wouldn’t have turned to salt, cause neither of us looked back. We were too scared it’d slow us down and give the Slasher the opportunity it needed to slice off our heads. In no time, I was tearing through the courtyard. The air rushed across my body, heat built in my chest, and I could feel a fresh layer of sweat dampening my forehead.It was still light out, oddly enough. I always thought shit like this happened in the middle of the night. Evidently in Lawrenceville, they happened in broad daylight. Although, judging by the orangey hue in the sky, I was pretty sure we didn’t have more than an hour of light left.“Wait...Wait!” Carrie stopped in the middle of the courtyard. I tried to stop too, but my momentum pushed me a few feet ahead of her.She ran to the corner I’d been hiding in earlier.Is she crazy?There was a moment where I considered ditching her, but something in me couldn’t just let her be an idiot and become the Slasher’s next victim. I chased after her. As she came to the Leyland cypresses I’d hid behind, she dropped on her knees and buried her face in the foliage. The branches caught strands of her light hair and pulled them loose from her ponytail.I thought she was reverting back to some primal hiding instinct, like an Ostrich burying its head in the sand. It was a good thing I was there to rescue her from her insanity. I swooped down, grabbed her by the arm, pulled her to her feet. “What the hell’s wrong with you?!” I exclaimed, trying to snap her back to reality. “We have to get the fuck out of here?”Her face tensed, and she flashed her teeth at me. I’d seen dogs make similar faces when I’d gotten in the way of their food. “I have to get my necklace!” she hissed. This was the fiercest I’d ever seen her.[...]

10: Leslie


Carrie got on her knees and quickly picked through the pile for candles and holders.“Get what started?” I asked irritably. Sweat dripped off my chin. My chest felt like someone was pushing against it. The room was starting to sway even more than before. All in all, I wasn’t feeling too hot.Carrie’s speed slowed. She half-turned to me. I could only see one of her eyes, but it had that same look it’d had when I’d ordered her to tell me about Seth and Brad’s powers.She put the holders and candles together and set them around the white circle.“I used to have seizures,” she said.Okee dokee, I thought. Not relevant at all. Either she thought we were both going to die, and she was trying to confess for her last rites, or she was actually going to take this somewhere.“When I was eight, I was diagnosed with epilepsy.” She continued setting the candles up around the circle, avoiding eye contact with me. Maybe she thought it was easier to tell me whatever she was trying to tell me if she couldn’t see my reactions.“I usually had two or three seizures a year. When we found out about the Rift and started experimenting with it, we didn’t know much. We had the manuscripts that the original League had left behind, and they’d helped us make the necklaces and do little things, but we’d reached a point where that was it.”By now, she’d set up five candles around the circle. She fixed their positions and mentally measured their distance from each other. She still had the lighter she’d used to light my candle with and used it to light the others. The entire room brightened with an orange glow.I hadn’t noticed till then, but there wasn’t any light coming from the window behind me. I checked over my shoulder. Outside, a dark blue hue lit pine trees and grass that were several yards away. Seeing that it was almost dark intensified my angst. Every moment that passed was a moment the Slasher was using to hunt me down. Carrie needed to hurry before it ripped through another mirror, or a wall, or a window and tore my head off.“Based on the kind of power the League talked about, we knew there had to be more,” she continued, “but there were so many manuscripts—nearly a hundred. We didn’t know how to sort through it all. Some of it didn’t even make sense.”She searched back through the pile of crap that she’d dumped out of the blue milk crate and pulled out a clear bag filled with what looked like sugar or salt. She got up, walked around the room and poured the substance over the chalk circle she’d made earlier.“After we’d discovered how to use the Rift, me and Seth spent weeks in here, reading some of the manuscripts. It didn’t get us anywhere. But we were sure that there was a way to access more power, and those manuscripts were all we had.”Even as she passed by me with the bag of whatever she was pouring, she kept her eyes on the floor, avoiding me completely.“Then I had a seizure. I mean, it felt like I was having a seizure. There was this throbbing headache. It was so intense I thought I was going to pass out. My muscles stiffened. I was shaking. My head jerked back and forth. I’d had enough seizures to know the symptoms for it, and I was ready.”As she completed the large circle, she headed back to the small one in the middle of the room.“But then there was this…this rush through my body. Like everything was lighter. My feet, my hands, my face felt like they were so light I thought they might float. And then these goosebumps rushed from my toes to my head.”She stepped through the candles, sat in the middle of the white circle, and folded her legs together.“I vaguely remember thumping my hand on the floor, but it didn't feel like me. It was like something was making me do it. Seth handed me a pen and a piece of paper. I—”She[...]

11: To Trap a Monster


CLUNK! CLANK!An empty kerosene drum toppled down a pile of even more kerosene drums. It rolled across the dust-covered floor.I’d been working my ass off for about an hour in an old storage room behind the church chancel. It’d been filled with boxes, boards, bricks, paint cans, broken furniture, and crap galore. I’d taken most of the bulky things out of the room and thrown them into the church pews. The rest of the shit, I’d just pushed against the walls.I wore a flannel button-up that Carrie’d found in a box. It was covered in little animal hairs, and I jumped every time one of them rubbed against my back, thinking it was a spider. On top of that, the shirt was starting to itch like poison ivy. It made me wonder if I’d gotten some while me and Carrie'd been running through the woods.I tied the end of a long rope around the leg of a chair that was wedged between a shelf and the wall.Almost finished, almost finished, I thought in a rush.This room was even smaller than the basement, so my claustrophobia had kicked into hyper-drive. My hands shook uncontrollably. I was sweating so much I had to keep wiping my face just so that it wouldn’t get in my eyes. It made working nearly impossible. But every time I got a little hopeless, I just said to myself “Quit being such a pussy, Jason!” and got on with it. I’m sure Dad woulda been proud.As I’d worked, my mind had flashed through the events of the past few days-from the accident at soccer, to Brad and Seth pinning me to the wall, to being attacked in the pool, to watching Ms. Ryder get brutally murdered in the clinic bathroom. They didn’t feel like memories. Memories felt like anger or sadness or frustration. These had some of that in them. But mostly, they felt ridiculous. Even now, after all that had happened, there was still this huge part of me that couldn’t accept them. This must have been what Claire had meant when she'd talked about denial. Of course, it was easier to think it wasn’t real now that there wasn’t any pressing danger. But that didn’t keep me from being scared as fuck that the Slasher was gonna creep in and stab me in the back with the knife it'd used on Ms. Ryder.I pulled a ladder out from the middle of the room and pushed it against the wall. I gazed up at my construction.I’d taken the head off a pitchfork and tied it to the head of a three-pronged cultivator, so that the pitchfork part was sticking down. On the back of the cultivator, I’d bundled about twenty or thirty pounds of bricks and concrete blocks with rope and some duct tape. The end of the cultivator pole was tied just above the door, to a revealed ceiling board. The pitchfork end was suspended to another ceiling board that I’d had to rip through the ceiling to find. The same rope that suspended the pitchfork end to the ceiling was connected to the rope that I’d tied to the leg of the chair that was wedged between the shelf and the wall. The plan was the Slasher would chase me in there, and I'd kick the chair loose. My half-cultivator/half-pitchfork device would drop down and be quite a surprise for my Slasher friend.That’ll get you, you stupid fuck.I’d done just what Leslie had said, with a few modifications here and there. I was pretty proud of myself. For having been thrown together in thirty minutes, in the dim light of two near-dead candles, my contraption wasn’t bad. Unfortunately, even though I’d managed to get some tests in, after I’d tied the bricks and the concrete blocks to the head of the cultivator, there was really no way of making sure it worked. I could only hope.While I’d been working on all this, Carrie’d been outside with the bag of salt, creating circles of protection. I hadn’t liked the idea of her being out there on her own, but she’d reassured me tha[...]

12: I'm Not Gonna Die Here


“Fuck! Fuck!”Rocks, briars, and fallen branches poked and scratched through my flannel shirt.The silhouettes of trees and bushes rushed by as quickly as if I was driving passed them in a car. With my free hand, I grabbed at saplings and vines, but they either ripped out of the ground or snapped in two. I dug my bare heels into the leaves and dirt in vain.Well this sucks, I thought.The Slasher’s tight grip numbed my wrist. As it dragged me through the woods, a sharp burning sensation pulled my bicep apart.Why doesn’t it just kill me and get it over with?When Leslie had devised her brilliant plan to trap the monster, there’d been one huge flaw. In order for it to work, it needed to rely on someone other than the unluckiest person in the world. Clearly, since my arrival at the horror-filled St. Lawrence, that’s exactly what I was.My arm continued to stretch. I figured it was gonna snap off pretty soon, but then, the Slasher released its grip. I dropped. My face smacked against the ground, which felt just as hard as the cement floor at the pool. As if I needed anymore bruising after all the trauma my body had sustained over the past day.I hopped to my feet, my head bobbing about as I searched for the Slasher.I couldn’t find it.When the fuck did it get this fast?It’d dropped me in a small clearing. Bare trees, back-lit by the soft blue of the moon, looked like shadows. It was nearly impossible to distinguish a 7-foot-tall black mass from anything else. As I turned every way, dry leaves rustled under my feet. The ribbets of the frogs I’d heard loud and clear by the church were much softer now.Come on…where’d ya go?The Slasher’d had me in its misshapen clutches and could have torn my throat off right then. Why’d it gone to all the trouble to drag me this far into the woods and then disappear?Leslie had said the Slasher fed off people’s fears. Shit! It was trying to freak me out. It was probably getting some sick pleasure outta making me squirm—making me wonder when or where it was gonna pop out.“Come on you dumb fuck!” I called out. “I’m not afraid of you! If you’re gonna kill me, just do it!” My words were far more confident than I felt. I was really wigging out as much as I’m sure it wanted me to. And if it could feel my energy or whatever, as Leslie had said it could, then my antagonizing it wasn’t going to make any difference.RATTLE! RATTLE!“Fuck!” I spun around, stumbled backwards. Nothing was there, but I could’ve sworn the sound had come from right behind me.RATTLE! RATTLE!It was behind me again. I twisted my body back around, fists ready—as if swinging at it a few times was going to help.Either my vision was getting worse or the shadows of the trees and bushes were starting to blur together.RATTLE RATTLE...RATTLE RATTLE...RATTLE RATTLE…Now I couldn’t tell where it was coming from. My head shot to one side, then the other, then whipped around to check behind me.Nothing.I had two choices. I could stay where I was and let the Slasher scare me till it was ready to attack. Or I could run like hell, going God-knows-where and let it hunt me down and freak me out that way. Standing there wasn’t really an option for me, so I dashed through the woods, heading towards where I thought I heard the frogs coming from.The rattling continued behind me. A rush of adrenaline shot from my stomach to my chest, and my speed double in half a second. I hopped over stumps and fallen trees. Occasionally, I wouldn’t see one and stumbled forward till I caught my balance and continued speeding along. I ducked under large branches. The little ones I ran right through, letting them slap me in the face, chest, and legs. I was starting to get used to this new fast-breathing, heart-pounding, mus[...]

13: Lucky Me


I'm not gonna die here. I'm not gonna die here, I continued to think amidst my panic attack.Cracks in the stone walls, cobwebs, dust, the coffin, and the doors blurred together and swirled around in a nauseous-making kaleidoscope effect. I wanted to throw up, but I could tell it wasn't gonna happen.CLANG! CLANG!The Slasher struggled with the mausoleum door. That old chain around the handles may have just been my saving grace.CLANG! CRUSH!But of course, I wasn’t that fortunate.The doors flew open, and a black shadow that I knew was the Slasher rushed in. It went for the coffin—or at least that’s what it looked like. My swirling vision wasn’t very reliable, and I didn’t stick around to find out. I crawled to the door, feeling my fingers along the floor so that I had an extra-sensor to verify where I was going. I dragged my body across a stone platform just outside and fell onto the grass and dirt just beyond it.Still in hyperventilation mode, I struggled for air that my lungs refused to let in. It would have been helpful if my reflexes and mobility had returned faster, but most of my body was still paralyzed. Fortunately, my limbs permitted a little movement. I pushed my palms against the ground, but I was shaking so much that as I got about halfway up, my wrist gave and I fell on my side.It was an odd thing. Here I was with all this adrenaline rushing through me, sweat pouring down my face, a desire to run, and a perfectly good body to run in, but my body wasn’t gonna do it.Gimme a break!But as much as I wanted to spring to my feet and get the hell outta there, my body didn’t let me do more than slightly flip onto my back.The Slasher came out of the mausoleum, its black cloak blowing in a breeze that I was numb to. It grabbed my ankles and dragged me back into the mausoleum.Well, that was fucking useless.Jumbled images cluttered before me, and I dropped. It wasn’t a big drop, but I could tell by the hard stone on either side of me that the Slasher had put me in something. I wiggled around a bit before my vision settled enough for me to realize where I was. I was inside the coffin!My eyes shuffled back in forth, to one side of the coffin, then the other. The interior was stone as well, which I thought was very unusual. Most coffins I’d seen had soft bedding inside them. Inside this one, the walls were slick like marble, and glowed in the moonlight. I figured it had to just be someone's perverse idea of a decoration.My neck jerked back and forth like my chin was trying to write a message in the air. My claustrophobia had completely immobilized me. Even my seizure-like shaking had settled. I wasn’t hyperventilating anymore-just making soft wheezing sounds. I felt like I had when I was drowning in the pool.Who the fuck needed a giant coffin in the middle of a mausoleum anyway? This is bullshit!I wished that I could have said that this was the worst my claustrophobia had ever been, but unfortunately, that wasn’t true.The moonlight that entered through the stain-glass windows gave me just enough light to see the Slasher hovering over me. Out of the contorted images that raced before me, I saw the shadow of what I knew was the Slasher’s morbidly blistered, skeleton-thin hand. It reached into the cloak, pulled out a dark object, which I couldn't identify till a gleam of moonlight reflected off its side. It was a blade—probably the same one it’d used to kill Ms. Ryder back at the clinic.The Slasher knelt down so that its hood was just above me. Warm air that I figured was the creature’s breath rushed against my face. The monster pressed the end of the blade against my throat, massaging it around. It was trying to freak me out. I didn’t see why. It had me right where it needed, [...]

14: Can We Trick It?


Air rushed into my lungs. I hopped off my back, sat up.Carrie was kneeling beside me. I didn't know how much time had passed since I'd lost consciousness, but any amount wasn't good. Carrie looked at me with urgent, wide eyes. "Jason," she said in a calm voice with an anxious hum. "We gotta go. Now!"My mind was scattered, trying to process what had happened in the woods, the cemetery, the mausoleum. I was still in severe pain and couldn't breathe as well as I needed to.Carrie grabbed my arm and pulled me up with her. She didn’t care whether or not I was ready. She knew we had to get outta there."Wh--what just--?""I healed you," Carrie explained. "Just had time to do a little, so you probably still feel like shit."She was right about that.I stumbled passed tombstones and mausoleums alongside her. She kept glancing behind us—I supposed to see if the Slasher was coming. "Ok," she said. "I think its trying to figure out its next move. It'll try to sneak up on you again, but if we can make it back to the old church before it gets to us, we're good.""Where are we?" I asked, remembering that we weren't even in the cemetery next to the church."The original church used to be at the top of this hill." That was where we were now heading. "It burnt down in the 1800s. They built the new one further in the woods. They considered it bad luck to continue using this cemetery, so they made a new one next to the old church."I'd never heard of a church doing that before, but I'd also never heard of a place where monsters chased teenagers through the woods. At least, not a real place.Carrie handed me a bag of something. It was more salt, like she'd been using to make her circles of protection. That must have been what I'd seen fly in the Slasher's face back in the mausoleum. Though, why had it made the Slasher leap back and fall to the ground?"It'll protect you," Carrie insisted. "Leslie helped me make it. She said it would immobilize the Slasher.""When was this?""When the Slasher got you, I went back to the basement and asked her to tell me how I could stop it from killing you."“Oh…how thoughtful.” I was trying to be cute. Kinda my attempt at lightening the mood. The heavy silence that followed let me know it hadn’t helped. "Wait. How did you find me?""Leslie used my finger to point to where you and the Slasher were heading.""She can do that?""They can. And it wasn't as easy as it sounds.""Well if they know where it is, why can't they just stop it?""Leslie can't assert their power on anything. It has to be invited through us."As much help as Leslie’d been, I resented the fact that she or they or whatever didn't just step in and deal with this monster themsleves. After all, weren't magical things just supposed to fight each other and leave normal people alone? Of course, I guess it was Seth and Carrie and Brad's prodding into all this that had brought the Slasher out, so in some odd way it made sense that a person would have to put it back in or kill it or whatever they were going to have to do to stop it. I just wished that person didn't have to be me."What did it do to you back there?" Carrie asked."What?""You were in this catatonic state. Does it have some special ability that we don't know about? Can it telepathically attack? Does it drain people of life-force before it kills them?"As much as I wanted to lie and tell her that yes, the Slasher had some supernatural power that had immobilized me, I didn't want to mislead her scientifically oriented mind."No. It doesn't," I said plainly, wanting to make it clear that I didn't want to go any further.I watched to see her reaction. Her eyebrows scrunched together, just as I figured they were going to."What was it then?"Heat rushed [...]

15: Plan C


A black mass flashed through the trees, rushed at Carrie. The Slasher was coming for the kill.

Carrie was ready. As the Slasher came up on her, she whipped around and threw a handful of salt at its hood.

Thata girl, I thought.

The Slasher bowed its hood so that the salt slammed into the cloth of the hood rather than into the creature’s surely deranged face.


In creating my ingenious plan, I hadn’t considered the Slasher wising up to Carrie’s salt. Figured. Our first plan, as orchestrated by Leslie, had blown. So why not this one too?

What was this plan of mine? Simple. Carrie would make me invisible to the Slasher by doing her invisibility-thing with the necklace. Now, not being able to be detected by the Slasher, I would climb into a nearby tree, while Carrie, the one who the Slasher could still detect, would wait in the clearing for the Slasher to pounce, with a handful of salt to take it down when it did. When it was down, I would leap from the tree and shove the rest of the bag in its face, rendering it helpless long enough so that Carrie and I could make it back to the old church, to finish the real trap.

Let’s be honest—a little too simple.

Unfortunately, now that the Slasher had found a way to deflect Carrie’s attack, I was going to have to do this on my own. I leapt from the tree, hopped on the Slasher's back, wrapped my arm around it, and shoved the bag of salt in its face.

The Slasher ducked its hood, evading my attack as well. Most of the salt fell on the ground.

“RUN, CARRIE!” I shouted in an order.

While I struggled with the Slasher, Carrie bolted into the woods.

The Slasher hit my arm so that the bag of salt went flying into the woods, then it threw me off its back.

As I hit the ground, I rolled on my side-just wanting to stay in motion, cause the more I moved, the more work the Slasher was going to have to do to get to me. I scraped some dirt and salt into my hand and as the silhouette of the creature came at me, I shoved my hand up, into its hood, and pressed what I'd grabbed into it.

The Slasher leapt back, as it had done in the mausoleum, and unleashed a shrill, much like the one I'd heard when it was struggling at the pool.

While it was in pain, I ran into the woods, dodging stumps, fallen branches, and saplings. I didn’t see or hear Carrie anywhere around. I was going to have to get back to the old church on my own. And that wasn’t going to be too easy.

16: Back at the Old Church


I clung to the top of the chair, ready to pull it back and let the pitchfork do its work. I was trigger-happy, ready to pull now, but had to control the urge. I only had one shot at this.The shuffling stopped. I leaned toward the wall, listening. Nothing. Waited some more. Still nothing.Me and Carrie exchanged a look—one of those “what the hell is this thing doing?” looks.My nerves were so on edge I thought if human spontaneous combustion was possible, I was going to explode right there.“Where…is…it?” Carrie whispered through her teeth.“I…don’t…know,” I whispered through mine.I couldn’t wait any longer.“I’m gonna look,” I said, getting up and heading for the door.Carrie grabbed my arm, easily stopping me—as I wasn’t all that eager to step into my death.“Just pull the chair when it comes in. K?”Carrie nodded.That door. That awful door seemed to mock me—challenge me. It questioned my manhood. Was I really going to be bold enough to approach it, when I feared that the Slasher was just around the corner, waiting. It took a lot of effort to take those few steps to get less than three feet further, and even when my feet moved toward it, I leaned my head back.I held my breath, forced myself forward so quickly that I nearly tripped forward.No sign of the Slasher. Just the empty hall.I turned back to Carrie, shrugged to let her know that it was a no show. It was kind of a shame too. I was looking forward to pulverizing its ass.A hand reached down, grabbed me by the collar of the flannel shirt I was wearing, and pulled me into the air.SPRING! RIP!“FUUUUUUUUCCCCKKKKK!”I made the same scream that I’d heard Seth make just days earlier during the accident in soccer. I don’t think I’d ever screamed so loud in all my life, but the pain in my back hurt like shit.“Oh my God!” I heard Carrie panic.Her nerves must have been on edge as mine had been, cause the moment she saw movement, she’d pulled the trigger, and now I could feel the sharp prongs of the pitchfork stinging in my shoulder. It felt like my chest was turning into stone. My mind was scattered, and all I could see was the black hood of the Slasher’s cloak in my face.What the fuck? I thought as I tried to rationalize how it had just appeared in the doorway that fast. That’s when I realized. It was actually on the ceiling. Literally holding itself up with its leg and arm equivalents. I hadn’t even thought of it being able to climb like that. Another realization came fast. That’s what it must have done in the woods. That’s why I hadn’t ever able to see it until it was too late.Well, it was too late for me now. It pulled me towards its hood. Two long sticklike things came out of the front of the hood—like little pincers. If I hadn’t been in so much pain, I would have been disgusted by the idea that the Slasher was some giant bug, but the pain gave me some distance from reality. Though, to be perfectly honest, the enormity of the pain in my shoulder was so intense that it blocked out all the other pain I’d been experiencing in so many other places. There was something nice about that. But at the same time, I still had a pitchfork in my back. And it did hurt like fuck.The Slasher threw me back. The pitchfork rig swung me back and then brought me forward again before my weight forced the pole holding the pitchfork to snap. I toppled to the floor, landing on the pitchfork, which dug even deeper into my back.“Shit!” Carrie cried as she vicariously experienced my pain.The Slasher dropped from the ceiling. The creak the floorboards made sounded like they were struggling to bend.I sat up. The pitchfork, still j[...]

17: Slasher's End...and Mine Too?


The Slasher lunged at me.Still with the pitchfork in my back, I rolled to the side. The Slasher pounced onto the pole that I'd tied the pitchfork to, making the pitchfork curl further into my back in a particularly painful way. Then, to my good fortune, it slipped out.I caught a glimpse of the end of a hammer that was stuffed into a pile I'd made while setting up the room. I grabbed it and whipped around, ready to slam the thing into the Slasher's face.The Slasher was two steps ahead of me. The pitchfork dove toward the floor.Two of the prongs hit the side of my foot and dug in. It felt like someone had dropped a 50 pound weight on it. The pitchfork had no trouble tearing through my skin and muscles. My back arched and my chest pushed forward as I wailed out in agony. Every muscle in my body seemed to tense, except my hands, cause the hammer slipped right out and bounced as it hit the floor.The Slasher left the pitchfork in my foot, I supposed to keep me from going anywhere. It reached into its cloak and, and as a magician would reveal a pair of doves, the Slasher revealed its metallic blade, already splattered with dry, rust-colored blood.I spent a moment trying to pull the pitchfork from the floor, before realizing the uselessness of my efforts. I have to say, I was surprised. The board it was stuck through surely was just as decrepit and crappy as the rest of the church.This must've been what it was like for a fox in a trap, looking around desperately, not knowing exactly how little its chances were of surviving. I picked my hammer back up and held it before me, using it like a shield. It spurred a new thought. I didn't need a weapon. Just a shielded!Beside me, in the pile the hammer had been in, was part of an old tin gutter. I grabbed the gutter with my free hand, forced it before me just in time to catch the Slasher's attack. The blade went right through, just as I had so cleverly planned. Unfortunately, it also went through the palm of my hand, so that I saw the end sticking out of my skin.Shit, shit, double shit!Despite the super-fail, I tried to use this to my advantage. I twisted my wrist so fast that the blade slipped from the Slasher's grasp. I turned my hand so that the handle of the blade faced me, and dropping the hammer to free my unharmed hand, I pulled the blade from the gutter and my other, pain-filled hand. Now I was armed. I only had one usable hand now, but it was better than the nothing I'd had before.The Slasher didn't seem to be taken off guard by my quick maneuvering. It jumped on top of me, scratched at me with its yellow fingernails.I took a few stabs, but the cloak was flying around and so in my face that all I managed to get was the cloth. While amidst the struggle, I thought what a bitch Carrie was for just sitting around while I was getting mauled by the creature that she and her friends had released from another dimension.A loud clang echoed through the room, and the Slasher dropped onto me, its black cloak covering my eyes.The Slasher was incredibly heavy, as I figured it would have been based on its size. I tried to push it off me, but having one hand uselessly curled up, and the other trapped under between my own and the Slasher's body, I didn't get far.The weight lightened as the Slasher rolled off of me. Carrie, shovel in hand, had pushed it off. It didn't take me long to realize that she was responsible for the creature's demise. It was the second time she'd saved my ass. I felt bad about thinking she was being a lazy bitch. Truth was, I kinda owed her.She grabbed the half-pitchfork, half-cultivator that was still nailing me to the floor. "You ready?" sh[...]

18: Rejection


Twos, ones, parentheses, and what looked like a billion pi symbols blurred together.I stared at the pop quiz, my mouth hanging open.This is fucking ridiculous.And it was too. I had just been through hell the night before. I shouldn’t have had to take a quiz.I glanced around the class. Everyone was busy with their own quizzes. A deep resentment tightened in my chest. I felt like everyone should have known about the events that had taken place the night before. They should have known that I’d been nearly drowned to death in the school pool. They should have known that I’d been chased through the woods by a giant cloaked insect from another dimension. They should have known that I nearly had a panic attack in a coffin. I'd had sharp objects puncturing through my chest and hands and been burned alive!High school’s supposed to suck, but not like that.Pain. That’s all there’d been. An intense burning fire in my flesh, my lungs feeling like they’d been filled with nails, my muscles twisted to the side and immovable. It’d been overwhelming.I’d caught fire and had blacked out. When I’d regained consciousness, there’d been nothing but darkness and intense pain. I could only assume by the intense pain that I was in hell. I always figured that if hell existed, that’s where I’d end up, and when I’d felt that swirling pain rippling through my body, splitting my muscles, I was confident that’s where I was.It was so different from my original concepts of hell, as presented by my schooling. I had expected lots of people, fire, vivid colors, chains. What I had was my own screaming and pain and darkness. I figured that was so much worse than anything the nuns or priests had ever taught us. If they’d warned me that it was going to be like that, I would’ve worked harder to be a good person.I was in this dark, painful state, contemplating spending an eternity there and horrified at the idea that the pain might never end, when my eyes burst open and were filled with a light so white and bright, I thought it could have only been heaven.All the pain in my body had completely disappeared. There was only been me and this bright light. But why had I gone to hell first? For an instant, my notion of the afterlife underwent a radical transformation.Then, I heard the most beautiful voice, like an angel. “Jason…Jason…”My eyes quickly adjusted. Carrie was knelt over me, looking down calmly, certainly.“Close your eyes again,” she said. “They won’t be able to adjust this quick.”I didn't close them. I just kept on looking around. Everything felt so different. I felt light and eager and excited. And then, like I wanted to throw up. I shut my eyes quickly.Carrie later explained that she’d dragged my body back into the church and used her super-healing powers or whatever to bring me back. She said that I hadn’t died but had just been really really close.A part of me felt silly about all my divine revelations. Another part of me just felt sick. Regardless, Carrie told me I had to go to classes. I don’t remember why I'd listened. I guess because I’d been so confused and disoriented that I woulda pretty much listened to anyone.So, there I was in Trig, struggling to think my way through a quiz that my bitch of a teacher, Miss Gray, had forced on us.I wondered if Miss Ryder’s body had been found. I wondered if there were police swarming the clinic, trying to determine cause of death. Although, if they had discovered a body, I don’t know why we’d still be in school. Wouldn’t that be grounds for a day off? Like snow day? Only a murder day or so[...]