Dale had watched police cars surround the house across the street. No matter which window he looked through, he could see nothing out of the ordinary. They had been there into the early hours of the next morning. He wondered if this was an appropriate time to reflect on the irony of the situation.
Squad cars littered his dead end street and officers policed the area and in Dale’s basement sat twelve meat pies waiting to be delivered to the homeless shelter. He had made pumpkin and ghost faces on them for Halloween.
The next day, when all the cars had gone, yellow police tape made a crisscross over the front door of the house. White powder covered most of the street and lawn, and police tape went around a couple of trees in the front lawn.
Dale made a mental note to pick up the newspaper over the next few days. When he sat to have his scrambled eggs and toast, with a side of ketchup, he would scroll through the internet and see if there was anything on the house across the way.
A rough knock on his front door took away the joy of taking his first bite of toast with egg on it. He finished chewing before he got up to answer the door, which led to a second, rougher knock that made Dale roll his eyes.
“For the love of god, hold on a moment, I’m coming!” Dale yelled.
“I’m probably not going to buy whatever they’re selling; Girl Scout cookies make me gassy.
It’s not children, they would be in school.
Ooo, maybe it’s Arbonne!”
Dale answered the door without looking first. He might have chosen differently if he had.
“Detective Cart, are you Dale Sutphin?”
A tall beast of a woman stood outside his door. She had straight shoulder length red hair and wore a grey-blue suit. She was attractive but looked like she had been through a few family issues and had seen more than she cared to talk about with anyone outside a bottle of whiskey.
“Yes, that’s me.”
“Your mom was, Beverly, right?”
“I remember her from the PTA meetings. I’m sorry to hear what happened.”
“It’s alright; she went to a better place.”
Detective Cart smiled affectionately.
“Do you mind if I come in? I have a few quick questions about next door. It shouldn’t be more than five minutes.”
“That would be fine. Can I get you something to drink? Eat?”
“No thank you, a few answers will do and I’ll be on my way.”
“Sure thing, we can sit in the living room.”
He closed the door behind her and she waited to follow him. They moved down the hall a few feet and turned into the living room, two long couches sat across from each other with a wooden coffee table separating them. Everything looked unused.
“So, Dale, I’m sure you noticed the fuss next door?”
Let me do the talking.
No, she’ll notice.
“Well, if I can be honest for a moment, it was quiet disturbing. I’m sure you all had a job to do, but those lights cut right through my curtains.”
Cart was squinting at Dale’s hand but she didn’t miss a beat.
“Can you tell me anything about, Mr. Middle?”
“You mean the old man that wears the same brown cardigan over and over again?”
“Were you aware of anything unusual happening across the street yesterday, around three in the afternoon?
She doesn’t know shit Sherlock.
“I was busy working around the house most of the day. I had some autumn landscaping to do in the back; I do love my mums after all.”
“You don’t know your neighbor’s name, you didn’t notice anything happening outside your house yesterday, are you an observant man, Mr. Sutphin?”
“I don’t tend to socialize with my neighborhood. I work from home and the only reason I’m here in this house is because my mother loved it and made me promise I would never sell it.”
“Yesterday afternoon, between three and three thirty, Mr. Middle killed nine children and two adults.”
Dale’s jaw dropped. Cart continued.
“He poisoned them with pie and they all dropped dead after vomiting up most of their insides all over his lawn and then he dragged their lifeless carcasses into the street, organizing them in a neat line. And you are telling me you didn’t notice any of this? You must have been very busy in your backyard not to hear the commotion.”
“I must have been listening to my iPod; I got it last month as a gift to myself.”
“Mr. Sutphin, I would like to take that water now if you don’t mind.”
Dale was already walking into his kitchen.
“Sure thing doll, anymore questions? I’m sorry I couldn’t be more help.”
Dale got out a glass and started filling it with tap water.
“Do you know a woman named, Melody Price?”
Dale pretended to think a moment and shook his head to help his lie.
“It’s a pretty name, but it doesn’t ring a bell, why?”
Dale turned around and Detective Cart was standing behind him.
“Because she was born, Melody Cart.”
Everything went black for Dale as Cart hit him upside the head with her Glock.
A bright light opened Dale’s eyes. It was brighter than anything he had seen and he had trouble focusing on his surroundings. The dark corners of his eyesight diminished and his horror came into focus.
He was in his basement, tied to his carefully constructed table, zip ties holding down his arms and legs. He tried to yell but his mouth was stuffed with a sock.
“You amateurs are all the same.”
Detective Cart walked into Dale’s peripheral vision and stood next to him, much as he had done to her sister, Melody.
“You watch things on YouTube, or watch television shows, or maybe you’ll read a book and you’ll think, ‘sure, I know what I’m doing.’ And you never do, because that isn’t how things work Dale. You know why?”
Dale tried to answer or plead but his voice no longer existed and instead he only cried and moaned.
“You did well for yourself, the plastic tarps are smart, and it appears the basement is soundproof. I imagine you did that to make sure your victims couldn’t be heard. Again, smart.”
In truth, Dale hadn’t planned the attack on Melody all that much. He had watched her and silently cursed her for wearing white after Labor Day, but he didn’t take his own idle threats seriously. He knew he was being irrational with an old stupid rule. But it bugged him, and ate away at his inner thoughts, and then she was in the trunk of his car
“The funny thing Dale is the fact I came over to ask you a few questions about your neighbor. I wouldn’t have even cared if you didn’t let me in. You were arrogant though and in doing so, you let me get a look at you. What a stupid, ignorant mistake.”
She gripped Dale’s hand and held it still. It was outside his eyesight but he could feel her pushing his hand flat against the table. From behind her back, she took out a wide blade that looked like something from Rambo with metal teeth climbing up one side and a sharp edge along the other.
She swung down and Dale thought she missed her target, or was trying to scare him into a confession. A tingle ran the length of his arm and into his chest. His lungs let out every bit of air they held and the nerve endings sent warning signs up to his brain. A shooting pain followed and he made a stifled cry into the sock.
“You wore her ring?”
She held a bloody hand up to the light for Dale to see. He knew now she was only using parlor tricks. He could still feel his hand and wiggle his fingers. She was trying to scare him. She must have stuck a needle or something in his hand, that’s all.
Detective Cart held the hand and wrung away at the pinky fingers, finally pulling free a ring which she also held up to the light.
“This is a custom cut sapphire. There is only one of these in the world and it belonged to my sister. Why would you wear the ring of a missing person the day after she went missing? Maybe it was that other voice; it sounded a little gay if you ask me. Did he like the ring so much that you had to wear it?”
The panic rose in Dale’s chest, he was losing feeling in his arm, and he couldn’t move his fingers. Cart looked at the bloody hand and placed it on Dale’s forehead, its fingers resting on his forehead, like Thing from The Addam’s Family was about to give him a head massage.
Cart leaned over and whispered into Dale’s ears.
“If you tell me where she is, I’ll make the next few minutes easier for you.”
Dale had tears filling up in his eyes, his chest was heaving, his mouth was dry, and there was an intense lump in his gut. He did his best to breath out of his nose but his one nostril was clogged and his other dry as a desert.
“I’ll ask you one more time. Where is my sister?”
She picked up the hand and made it dance down his face and rested on his chest, fingers looking back up at him.
His eyes betrayed him and he made a quick glance over to his basement fridge. She followed his line of sight and looked back at him, confused. She swung the knife into his severed hand as a place holder while she walked over to the fridge. The tip of her knife went through the hand and pierced Dale’s skin enough to send jolts of pain up his abdomen and into his chest.
Cart walked over to the refrigerator and swung it open. Twelve pies with pumpkin and ghost faces covered each shelf. There were also two containers of Cool Whip and a canister of Whip Cream.
Cart stormed back over to Dale and straddled him and leaned in with their noses touching.
“You fucked with the wrong woman.”
She unstuck the knife and held it above her head with two hands. She took one hand and removed the sock from Dale and in a split second drove the knife down into Dale’s mouth, shattering a few front teeth. His tongue had been sliced in two and she held it there for a second.
“This isn’t going to hurt a bit.”
She smiled wickedly and with all of her might, pulled the large knife to her, ripping through the bottom half of Dale’s jaw and slicing open his throat. She was stuck for a moment on his breast bone but she tugged and the knife cut through, opening his chest. She moved her body back and continued struggling with the knife, cutting down through his stomach and finally across his manhood.
Detective Cart stood back and admired her filet of Dale.
A red pentagram had been painted on the floor boards, under the ripped up carpet. Samantha’s corpse lay in the middle, dried blood stuck to her skin around her eyes and ears. Six people in matching black cloaks and black pants kneeled around her, chanting.
One cloaked figure removed her hood; golden hair fell to her shoulders. She was a classic beauty with porcelain skin and minimal makeup. The next person removed their hood and it was Joel who smiled at the blonde.
“Another year of protection,” said Joel.
The rest of the group removed their hoods as well. Two twin women with chestnut hair, also with very little makeup except for a bit of eyeliner that gave them cat eyes. They each had a small beauty mark on opposite cheeks. There was another lady with black hair and dark skin and old tattoos on her forehead that had faded blue and looked like alchemy symbols. The other male had a trimmed black beard and colorful tattoos of flowers traveling along the side of his head and down his temple.
“Beverly, we need to find Joel a replacement,” the man with the beard said.
The woman with golden hair looked at each of her followers with a pearly white smile.
“Joel made a great sacrifice this Halloween, and it is something I will never forget.”
Joel smiled at everyone, happy with his role. Everyone smiled back except the ebony woman with the faded blue tattoos. Her voice sounded like she attempted to swallow gravel before speaking.
“Qandisa is right unfortunately. We must find a new location,” Beverly said.
“But this was our most successful year,” said the man with the beard who sounded older than he looked. “Thirteen people are dead on this street alone. We have never gotten into double digits.”
“Exactly, Locke. It’s time to move onto somewhere bigger than this pitiful little town.”
Beverly smiled again at her group, locking eyes with each of them. She stood up and began walking around them as if she was playing a twisted game of duck-duck-goose.
“We have drawn too much attention to this building and this road. Some of us got overzealous and now we’re in danger of being found out. Luckily today is Halloween and we can move on, and between now and then, we’ll find a new member.”
The twins finally spoke up with their soft voices in unison.
“A new member? We’re making it seven?”
“Not exactly,” Beverly said.
As she finished her words, she brought a carving knife down into Joel’s skull. His eyes popped wide and blood started leaking out of his mouth. His body was going into shock and when she pulled the knife out, his body fell to the floor and began to convulse.
“Joel brought unwanted attention. I’m five thousand years old and I’m not letting an ant like Joel ruin this for me.”
Everyone was silent and Qandisa smiled.
“We have one year to find a new city and a new building. Next year, we will sacrifice even more. We will become unstoppable and finally move to the last phase of my plan.”
She paused for dramatic effect and looked at them all, one by one.
“Next year my faithful followers, we slaughter an entire city.”
Thank you for reading. If you missed any earlier parts click below…