Many people have had questions. So, now is your chance. Send me your questions or leave tham in the comments section and I will answer them right here on October 6. Here is your chance...
Kirsten winced against the cramps that threatened to irreparably twist her insides. It was bad enough that the pangs of hunger racked her body, but to compound it with her period was almost like some sort of cruel joke. She could feel the wet stickiness of her discharge in the cleft between her legs as well as on her inner thighs.
The Big Man hadn’t been anywhere to be seen for the past day. Of course, she could still hear him on occasions slamming and clattering around downstairs. The very thought of him only made her twist into an even tighter knot. She’d fallen for his trick, foolishly thinking that perhaps he’d come to develop a soft spot for her. She had once again performed that disgusting act with her mouth that he promised would result in him providing her with a big bowl of steaming, hot soup.
The lie was bad enough; but to sit there beside her on the bed and slurp each spoonful had been especially cruel. She’d vowed that the next time that thing entered her mouth, it wouldn’t make it back out. Then she’d eat in front of him. Kirsten couldn’t help but giggle at the thought.
Eventually she got herself back under control. Those couple of minutes had actually been a blessed relief. For that brief period of time, she hadn’t felt the painful cramping…the repul-siveness of lying in her own bodily discharges.
Then she smelled it. The ever present odor of rot and death clung to everything. When she thought about it, it almost disgusted her that she’d become accustomed to the smell. Only, this was different. It was the stink of those monsters, but somehow worse. The new intensity of it initially had her thinking that they had finally breached the gate. Death had finally won entry to the Malloy Estate.
No, Kirsten reasoned. She would hear them much louder if they were inside. And while she could in fact hear their terrible noises, they remained distant. They were still outside the gate. Then what in the hell was that smell?
Kirsten raised her head and looked around. No, she was convinced that those things were still outside the gate. She tried to force it out before it took firm root, but failed.
The Big Man.
Somehow, he’d gotten himself bitten. That was why he hadn’t been upstairs in the last day. Perhaps it had happened on the night of the storm. He’d gone outside that night, she remembered. And there’d been the screaming. That had to be it.
Now she would have no choice but to wait. Perhaps he hadn’t figured out how to walk up the stairs. Or maybe he just hadn’t gotten around to it. After all, the Monster-people weren’t very smart. That would mean…she would lay here and starve, or…
Strange noises came from downstairs. Kirsten held her breath, afraid that even the slightest sound would bring attention to her.
Then she heard the sounds of footsteps on the stairs. The Big Man was coming. In that moment Kirsten realized that she wasn’t afraid. While this was certainly not a fate she would have chosen, it meant that this was finally over. What helped was the simple fact that she’d outlasted her tormentor. Somehow, that brought her peace.
Kirsten tried to relax. Even though she’d come to accept her fate, that did not mean that she looked forward to it. But, she promised herself, there would be no screaming…no crying. The Big Man had forced the last tears from her that he would ever get. He—
Heavy footsteps approached her door. Kirsten decided to accept her fate with eyes open. Taking a deep breath, she tilted her head up. An enormous shadow filled the doorframe. He had arrived. She braced herself and continued to make that inner-promise that she wouldn’t scream. She was ready to die.
Only…he kept on just standing there. Why wasn’t he coming in? Why wasn’t he attacking her? Why wouldn’t he just eat her and get it over with?
Finally he took another step into the room. Something wasn’t right. Or better yet, wrong. He didn’t look like one of the Monster-people. He looked the same as always, except maybe a little sleepy. No, he wasn’t one of them. He was pretty much the same as always. Well, then what was that terrible smell? she wondered.
The Big Man walked over to the bed and stared at her. Kirsten had long sense gotten over her shyness, but something about the way he was looking at her made her just a bit nervous. Then, The Big Man did something very strange; he leaned down and pinched the skin on her arm, breast, and thigh. Not hard, not enough to cause even a little bit of pain. And he licked his lips the whole time. Afterwards, he simply walked out of the room. He hadn’t said a word. She stared up at the ceiling and drifted off to sleep trying to figure out exactly what was going on.
Garrett finally found what he’d been searching for all day. He knew that, at some point, he’d seen a butane torch. Only, for the life of him, he couldn’t recall where. Now that he had it, he placed it on the counter next to the big meat cleaver.
Walking out to the front porch, he heard and saw them. Nope, he thought, they ain’t goin’ no place. Another rainstorm had rolled through and done nothing more than add to the stink already rolling off that mob. He’d be forced to keep to the rear of the house if it got much worse. Right now, the only good thing about them things smelling so bad was that it killed his appetite.
Yesterday had been the last of any form of food that existed in this house. Sure, he still had four cases of beer, a fifth of vodka and a pint of Southern Comfort, but as far as food went… there was absolutely nothing.
Last night, he’d made the decision to eat The Toy. In some ways it was a shame. He’d miss many of the things he did to her, but there were no other options. He’d walked the top of the fence in a few places and decided that, if it came down to it, he could haul one of those things over the wall. If he tied it up good and put something in its mouth…of course he’d have to give it a good scrubbing first.
Garrett figured that if he did it right, he could still keep The Toy alive for a while. That was why he needed the torch. He considered the possibility of feeding The Toy some of herself. That might actually be entertaining.
Well, there was no sense putting this off any longer. He returned to the kitchen and grabbed the cleaver, the butane torch, and a large, wooden cutting board. He also snatched a length of nylon line that was about as big around as a pencil. It would be plenty strong.
He headed up the stairs trying to ignore the stench rolling in from outside. Was it his imagination or were they getting louder? Shaking off the disconcerted feelings trying to deepen their hold, he continued up the staircase. When he reached the open doorway, he paused. Should he make one more trip around the property? Perhaps there was an area he missed where he might slip over the wall and make a supply run. No, he told himself—only it was mama’s voice he heard—ain’t no way out of this now.
Shaking off the unpleasantness that accompanied hearing his mama’s voice again, Garrett’s face went cold and he entered the room. The Toy was stretched out on the bed. That in itself was nothing new, but he realized that he could see every single one of its ribs. There would be very little meat to be had here.
It slept, head turned to one side, the long hair was matting up again and looked like a nest of knots and snarls. Perhaps, after he’d had his dinner, he would give it a good cleaning. It liked having its hair washed and brushed.
Going to the bed, he set the butane torch, the cleaver, and the cutting board on the nightstand. It stirred a little, but didn’t wake. Good, he thought, that will make this easier. He pulled the piece of nylon line from his pocket and picked a spot just above the left elbow. He slid it under the arm and The Toy began to stir. Folding one end of the line under the other, he gripped them each and pulled tight.
The Toy cried out, its eyes opening in alarm and pain as the nylon bit into its flesh. It began crying out, asking questions. Garrett ignored everything and pulled the eight-inch dowel from his back pocket. He laid it right above where the line was cinched securely, wrapped the ends over once more and pulled tight again. The Toy was awake now and no longer making any sounds other than the forced breathing that hissed between clenched teeth. He began to twist the dowel, tightening the line. He could actually see the lower half of the arm losing its normal color turning to a shade of light blue that reminded him of those creatures outside. He quickly shook that thought away and wrenched the dowel another quarter turn.
He held it in place with one hand and fumbled in his shirt pocket for the lighter. The Toy’s eyes widened when he reached over and fumbled with the knob on the torch. He heard as well as smelled the gas as it hissed from the nozzle. With a flick of his thumb on the wheel, the flame danced on the wick of the lighter. He passed it in front of the nozzle and was rewarded with a popping sound and a small blue flame.
He flipped the lid shut on the lighter and dropped it back in his pocket. He picked up the cutting board and slid it under The Toy’s arm. There was a moment of confusion on its face, then, like the rising sun, the slow dawning of comprehension.
As Garrett picked up the cleaver, he was almost disappointed, but he’d come to expect defiance from The Toy. He didn’t know why now should be any different. It pressed its lips together and glared. For just a second, the ferocity of that look gave him pause. When he raised the cleaver, he was able to feel just the slightest tinge of satisfaction. The Toy’s eyes widened.
It’d been a while since he’d been able to savor such a wonderful feeling. The Toy had been many things; afraid was not among them. He brought the heavy blade down with all his might. There was a crack of bone…then an ear-piercing shriek of pain. It took two more whacks to separate the lower arm. By then, The Toy had lost consciousness.
Even with his preparation, there was quite a bit of blood. He set the severed piece of limb on the cutting board and placed it all on the floor. Then, grabbing the butane torch, he went to work on the bloody stump.
The smell of burning meat actually made his mouth start to water as he cauterized the hideous wound. When he was done, he undid the makeshift tourniquet. He could see a jaggedness in the pieces of bone that jutted from the wound. Perhaps next time he would use a saw. It might take a little longer, but it would definitely be cleaner.
He took a moment, deciding what to do next. Should he go to the kitchen and see just how this tasted, or should he clean up The Toy. He decided on the latter. It would be important to keep it clean now. He didn’t want infection setting in and ruining his source of food. Besides, his meal wasn’t going anywhere.
Kirsten fought against consciousness. The first time she’d come to, she’d though it’d all been one terribly vivid nightmare. Then, the pain revealed itself. She’d immediately sicked up on herself. Of course, it was little more than throat burning bile since it’d been a few days since she’d had anything to eat.
Like it or not, she was awake. The first thing she realized was that her body had been wiped down again. The little bit of throw up that she’d managed was cleaned away. Also, her blackened stump had been wrapped up in what looked like one of her dad’s tee-shirts.
As soon as she gave thought to it, the pain seemed to amplify as if there was a knob turned up on the sensation. She tried to hold it back, but, seeing as she was alone and The Big Man wouldn’t have the satisfaction of seeing her do it, Kirsten allowed herself to cry.
At first it was just a hint of something she dismissed while she let tears of grief, pain, and frustration roll down her cheeks. But slowly, it became more pronounced. Her mouth began to water. When realization hit, she recoiled in horror. That delicious smell was her! The Big Man was somewhere downstairs cooking pieces of her! This brought a fresh wave of tears because, try as she might, she couldn’t stop her mouth from filling with saliva. Her hunger was more powerful than her feelings of revulsion.
She moved a bit and felt something. Her head snapped over so fast she heard and felt the tendons in her neck pop. The left arm—what was left of it—slipped almost free of its restraint! Without having a wrist, The Big Man hadn’t really paid attention to how he tied her up!
Kirsten felt something that was so foreign, it took her a few minutes to realize exactly what it was: Hope. It might’ve cost her half of her arm, but at last there was a renewed sense of faith in her ability to escape. She knew The Big Man well enough to know that he would drink himself into oblivion again sometime soon. Maybe not today…but soon.
All she had to do was be still and careful so as not to pull that arm loose until she heard those wall shaking snores. So many possibilities raced through her mind. Most of the early ones involved her sneaking in to The Big Man’s bedroom and beating his head in or chopping him up. However, Kirsten was no dummy. She questioned her strength physically to succeed at such a task. It would’ve been difficult with two hands, much less one.
No, Kirsten thought once her mind settled down, this was the chance to escape! She knew this area better than him, of that she was certain. She would use this opportunity to get away. Once she made it over the wall, he would have no idea which way she would run.
The shadows in the room were getting darker. That meant night was coming. Of course she didn’t expect to get lucky this soon, but also knew it was a case of the-sooner-the-better. The longer things went, the greater the chance he might discover his error. There was also the possibility that he might come back for seconds. She couldn’t have that.
Kirsten lay still, trying to ignore the gurgles of her empty stomach and the delicious smells causing her mouth to water. Instead, she focused on that blooming flower of optimism growing inside her. All the persistence would finally pay off. No matter what had happened up to this point…she would win. Kirsten Malloy would defeat The Big Man.
As the room slowly darkened, leaving nothing but the hint of some sort of light downstairs casting its faint glow in her open doorway, Kirsten let herself smile.
Garrett looked at the empty bottle of Southern Comfort like it had betrayed him. He tossed it aside and picked out another beer from the tub of cold water. He took a long drink and felt the gurgle in his stomach. Garrett felt the belch rise and contemplated how he couldn’t avoid the inevitable outcome. He let go loudly.
There it was again. That taste. It hadn’t been terrible when he ate. In fact, he’d been able to convince himself he was eating something else entirely. Then he’d had the images fly through his head. His mother. Kimmy Vanderwall. His first Toy. Each one eaten by those things. The more full he got, the less appealing his meal became.
He’d fallen asleep shortly after his dinner. The nightmares came fast and vivid. The Toy’s face appeared amongst the sea of dead faces alongside his mother and Kimmy Vanderwall. And there were others he recognized like Ennis; the man who’d done all those things to him so long ago. He awoke in a sweat and decided to drink the taste out of his mouth.
It hadn’t worked.
To make it worse, the wind was blowing in from the street. It carried the sound and the smell. He was fairly certain it was that combination that had triggered his nightmares. The darkness seemed to gain weight, pressing on him from all sides.
Unable to stand it anymore, Garrett grabbed the poker from the rack beside the fireplace and stormed out into the darkness. He stalked up the driveway, ignoring the chill. Reaching the gate, he lashed out, jabbing and poking with savage ferocity. Every so often his attack would drive the iron tip into one of those emotionless faces. The body would slowly drop to the ground in some cases. In others, they were pressed so close that it stayed pressed between the bars and the gigantic horde behind them.
Exhausted, he finally tossed the poker to the ground. The sounds of the undead were loud enough to drown out his scream of anger and frustration. He returned to the house, stopping in the entry to consider exactly what he wanted to do. He decided on the beer, but he would go upstairs soon enough…and The Toy would pay for his being trapped here.
He grabbed the bucket of cold water with the remaining eight cans of the case bobbling in it. Garrett refused to look at the counter as he passed through the kitchen on his way out to the back yard. He would not look at those long, slender bones.
Once outside, he began on the beer. He could still hear them. His hands fished around inside the bucket. Empty. Looking around, he saw cans scattered about his feet. He didn’t remember drinking them all, yet here they were. He considered his choices. He had one more case left, or the bottle of Vodka. He decided on the bottle.
Returning inside, Garrett grabbed it and stood in the empty pantry. He took long pulls every so often. The images in his mind seemed to grow more and more clear as he drank. Lifting the bottle to his lips, he almost wept when nothing happened. The bottle was empty.
Anger came in a flood, and Garrett threw the bottle across the dark kitchen. He heard it explode in a shower of glass shards; some of the pieces flickering in the minute amount of moonlight coming through the windows.
Like a human landslide, he started through the house. Slow at first, but gathering momentum. He left a path of overturned furniture in his path; smashing or tossing aside anything that was unfortunate enough to get in his way. The stairs proved to be his most difficult obstacle. He made his way up, each slip or stumble adding to his anger.
He reached the doorway. The candles had long since burned out, but he could see the small, naked form outlined on the bed. He fumbled with his belt and kicked off his shoes. Allowing his pants to fall to the floor, he toppled trying to pull out his legs. With growing anger, he tugged and yanked until they finally came off. Casting them aside, he rose and approached. In shock, Garrett took note of the most recent betrayal. His body wasn’t responding. Normally anger had him fully aroused. Not this time. He tugged at the flaccid piece that dangled ineffectively between his legs. Nothing happened. He threw himself on The Toy and tried to stuff his impotent organ inside.
Furious, he rose up on his knees and tugged the line tied to the right arm and the headboard so hard that it snapped. He repeated his actions on the line secured to the right leg and the bedpost. It also parted, causing him to fall back. He heard The Toy cry out, Yes, he thought, cry. But still his body refused to respond.
He flipped The Toy onto its belly and grabbed its hips. Moving up behind it, he again tried to arouse himself manually. He tried to push himself into The Toy once more.
Garrett screamed his rage. He hit The Toy with one big fist in the small of the back. It yelped, but his body would not give him even the slightest twitch of arousal. His fists rained down with meaty thuds and even the occasional pop of a bone; sometimes from his hands, sometimes from The Toy.
Exhausted, he stopped. At some point, his bladder had let go. The room began to tilt and spin. In a daze, Garrett climbed off the bed. He stumbled down the dark hallway to his room and collapsed. Fortunately, he was on his stomach. His body convulsed twice as watery vomit sprayed from his mouth and nose. Then, the deep snore mixed with a bubbling sound echoed in the room.
Kirsten sobbed. Her body hurt everywhere. It felt as if she’d been placed in a giant vice and crushed. Each breath sent a new pain coursing through her. She tasted blood in her mouth and was having a terrible time getting enough air. Each inhale and exhale felt smaller, like her lungs were shrinking.
She tried to roll over, and it took a second before she realized it. Her right hand was free! The Big Man had left without securing her. So was her right leg! That meant…
Kirsten pulled what remained of her left arm free of the bindings. Only her left leg was still tied. She sat up and was hit with a bolt of pain so severe that she blacked out.
When Kirsten came to, it took her a moment to comprehend what had happened. Fear crept in. This was her one chance. If she blew it because of the pain, she would…
What? Kirsten thought. Live to regret it? Not for long she wouldn’t. The Big Man was going to cut her up and eat her. No, she had to do this and she had to do it now. She looked out her window. The slightest glow of dawn was beginning to show in the sky.
Very slowly, she sat up. Her breathing sounded strange. It reminded her of the pump in her dad’s fish tank in his office. Eventually, she was sitting up. Her vision narrowed, and once more the pain threatened to overwhelm. Kirsten gritted her teeth and fought through it. Wincing against the agony, she untied the knot on her left ankle. Once that was done, she took care of the ones on her right wrist with her teeth and the one on her right ankle.
She was free!
Kirsten struggled to her feet and made her way to her dresser. It seemed to take an eternity, but at last, she was dressed. Now she would slip out. She had an entire world to hide in. The Big Man would never find her again.
Stepping into the hall, Kirsten heard them: The Monster-people. Why were they so loud? she wondered. Had they slipped inside the gate somehow? She could also hear the snores of the Big Man. Fairly confident that he would remain fast asleep—she could smell the stink of alcohol on him from the hallway—Kirsten slipped into his room. Were the Monster-people out in the back yard?
She looked out the window and her entire body seemed to go numb. She went into the bathroom, and peeked out the window. Her mind struggled with what she saw. There were so many.
Realization crashed down on Kirsten and she cried. Now she knew. She knew why there had been no more meals. She knew why The Big Man had started in on her. There would be no escape.
Kirsten thought long and hard until she came to a decision. Calmly, she went to her dad’s office. She knew exactly where he kept the key for times when power was out and an emergency arose. A few times, a voice in her mind tried to talk her out of her plan.
No, the voice would plead.
Yes, Kirsten thought, it is the only way.
Steeling herself, Kirsten struggled her way down the stairs. Reaching the front door, she cast one look up the stairs. She could still hear him snore. Stepping outside, the cold air threatened to steal what little breath she could take in. Kirsten walked the familiar path to the driveway.
She reached the gate and stared at the wall of horror that stared back. She didn’t recognize any of the faces. All her friends…their families…gone. The electronic mechanism that opened this gate was useless. However, at the bottom was a lever. In case of an emergency, during a power failure, of course there had to be a way to open the gate.
Fighting through the pain, Kirsten knelt. The Monster-people were smashed in so tight that none of them could follow her; none of them could reach down and grab her. She fumbled with the box. Kirsten was thankful that The Big Man had shown no interest in her dad’s office. The key had been right there in the top drawer where he always kept it. It slid into the lock and turned. The box opened and she tugged at the lever. It barely budged. So many of those things pressed against the gate.
Her frustration mounted, but she kept at it. Through the tears and the pain she felt it budge. Then it popped free. Normally it took two men to pull open each gate manually. Not this time. It literally flew open, slamming into Kirsten and sending her tumbling backwards.
The pain was white hot and instant. Sheer force of will kept her from losing consciousness. The horde had stumbled forward. Many of those in front fell, and a huge tangled knot of the horrible creatures piled up in the entrance. That was the only thing that saved Kirsten for the moment.
She made it to her feet as a dozen or so of the creatures began to stagger her way. Kirsten clutched at her sides as she made for the house bringing a tsunami of undead in her wake. They followed, arms outstretched, mouths open; wailing, moaning, and crying out for her flesh.
Once she reached the halfway point on the stairs, the first one made it through the doorway. Kirsten noticed that this one was a girl…almost the same age. Like her, this one was missing the lower half of one arm. It was also missing one eye and had ugly and jagged punctures in its body. Its head tilted up to Kirsten and it made a strange mewling noise before it started towards the stairs.
The Monster-people really struggled here. But in droves they came in pursuit of the young girl just out of their reach. Kirsten saw many wander into the house, but it didn’t matter. It looked like a hundred of them were slowly making it up. It was like a ship slowly filling with water.
Eventually they were on the landing, the one-armed, one-eyed girl leading the way. Kirsten could still hear the snores of The Big Man, but they were being swallowed by the cries of the Monster-people.
She led them into the bedroom, only pausing briefly. She spat on the still-sleeping form in her parents’ bed; then, she opened the door to the balcony. The yard was a roiling sea of dead faces, heads bobbing as they all came through the gate in front. There were too many for the house to hold and they were overflowing around it now.
They came into the bedroom. The Monster-girl paused, glancing first at Kirsten, then at the snoring mound that was The Big Man. It seemed to come to the conclusion that more was better and headed for the bed. Some followed, others locked onto Kirsten. She stepped out onto the balcony and made her way to the rail.
A noise behind her made her pause. At first it was muffled. Then…it became a scream. The scream held equal parts fear and hurt. Down below, the sea of faces looked up. Kirsten slowly made it over the rail, fighting off the pain. But the screams from inside seemed to help, almost acting like an anesthetic. Closing her eyes and holding her arms out, Kirsten pushed away and reveled in the few seconds where the wind rushed to her face.