Donovan watched from his bedroom window as Brent, his sister’s boyfriend of three years, drove off, very likely for the last time. He had proposed, again. And again, his sister had said no. Donovan knew, without being told, that it would be the last time Brent asked.
He was not surprised she refused; she had been distant since Asa’s mutilated body had been found strung up upside down at the entrance to Raleigh Creek Cemetery. Not that anyone could blame her, especially Donovan, who had been only a guest star as far as most of his friends were concerned. He considered emotional connections to be a risky venture.
Nobody stayed. After Asa’s murder, even their mother had disappeared without so much as a note. Since then, his sister had also been his legal guardian and she worried anytime he left the house that he would not be returning. Between her fears and his nightmares, he rarely spoke to anyone who did not share his DNA.
Except Cameron. Through it all, his best friend had been by his side. Even on the worst days when he could barely pick himself up off the bed, Cameron was there. And never once did he ever ask for anything in return.
He turned away from his window and made his way downstairs, sure his sister would want the company, even if she would never admit it. She was another one, so strong, so unwavering that she never asked for help, even when she desperately needed some.
He found her in the kitchen cleaning up the mess left over from breakfast. He could tell she had been crying although she had already washed up before he walked in.
“Tara? You okay?” She would lie but he felt it would be wrong to not ask. “I saw him leave.”
“Yeah, um, I’m good.”
“Gone. Yeah, y’know, it just wasn’t working… anymore. I told him to just get out.”
“Oh.” Donovan knew better but just let her have her moment. She would be more hurt if she thought he knew the truth. “Well, okay. Good riddance. You deserve better than him, anyways.” That part was true; he like Brent well enough but never though he was good enough for his sister.
Maybe he was just biased.
“So, um, wanna go to the movies? Maybe see a slasher and overdose on popcorn?”
“I dunno, Donny, I’ve got a lot of shit-” She sighed deeply and he knew that was as close to an emotional outburst as he was going to see. “Sure. How about after lunch?”
* * *
Elias was alone in his cell when the guards heard him scream. They ignored it, assuming he was being difficult again. When the screaming stopped a few minutes later, they figured he had tired himself out as he had done many nights since being arrested for the murders of five local boys.
The truth was he tried to scream but he had been forced to sew his own mouth shut. For over three hours the torture had continued; he was first emasculated then skinned alive an inch of flesh at a time. When the guards finally made their rounds, they found his skin hanging on the wall and his genitalia shoved inside his anus. His body, what was left of it, was nailed to an inverted cross.
Not a single tear was shed.
* * *
Brent punched another hole in his bedroom wall. Tara infuriated him in ways he never imagined possible. While he would never lay a hand on her or anyone else, his walls were not spared his anger; they were frequent victims of his pent up frustration.
“Damn it, Tara, why do you have to be so fucking difficult? We’re fucking perfect for each other but you push me away every fucking time I ask to take the next step.” He punched the wall again, this time tearing flash off his knuckles. “Fuck!”
A noise from the kitchen drew his attention away from his bloody hand. He looked at his bedroom door with suspicion; his apartment was in a new building and years away from strange, unprovoked sounds. He grabbed a baseball bat and raised it behind him as he reached for the handle.
He threw the door open and jumped back, ready to swing. He stepped through the doorway, looked around but saw no one. He heard another sound and followed it into the living room. Still he saw nothing.
“The fuck?” He shook his head and turned back to the kitchen. “I must be fucking hearing-”
A naked boy stood in the door way, a rusted knife in his bloody hand. Brent stepped back, anger and confusion both gripping him. The boy stepped forward. Brent stumbled and fell back as the bat dropped and rolled toward the wall. When he looked back to the doorway, the boy was gone.
He jumped to his feet and ran toward the front door. As his hand gripped the handle, barbed wire wrapped around his wrist and pulled him away. He fought against it, against the barbs that dug into his flesh, but another wrapped around his other wrist and forced him onto his back. He looked up and saw the boy again. Then it all went black.
* * *
Brent woke up, wrists and ankles bound with barbed wire and his mouth taped shut. He pulled against the bindings but the more he moved, he deeper the barbs went. He screamed into the tape as fear gripped him and chased away any remaining logic.
The boy sat across the room, the knife balanced on its tip before him and brought back all manner of childhood nightmares to Brent’s imagination.
He tried to scream What do you fucking want? but only muffled sounds could be heard. Who the fuck are you?
The boy looked at him, as if disappointed.
You do not know us but surely you recognize this shell we inhabit.
Brent looked carefully at his face and slowly realized who his strange guest was. Impossible…
The boy smiled as barbed wire wrapped around Brent’s throat and squeezed. Muffled screams and curses flew as the wire tightened, cut off his air. His eyes went wide, filled with pain, as the wire ripped through his flesh and decapitated him.
The boy laughed, dark and violent.
TO BE CONTINUED