It was nearing midnight, Halloween coming to a close. All the little kiddies were at home sifting through mounds of sweets in preparation of cavity orgies in the days to come. Most adult revelers were still partying or finding spots to nurse their binges.
Usually, I'd be home with a tumbler of Johnnie Walker Black in hand, microwave popcorn by my side, watching Halloween 1 & 2 back-to-back. It was a usual tradition since my teens, but now I sit in a corner booth at the waffle house, nursing my umpteenth cup of truck stop Java, waiting on him.
It all started with my fascination of horror movies and urban folklore, but that little fascination turned into an obsession while poring through the library archives in the campus library.
Two years ago, I was just a normal college sophomore on scholarship in a small college town near the Texas-Louisiana border. I did the usual college things, binge drinking, binge fucking, football games on the weekend, cramming for tests on Sunday. I chose English as my major, but thought about film school ever since I saw my first horror movie at the age of twelve.
I considered myself somewhat of a movie buff. I hold the record of most rented movies at the local Blockbuster and have a pretty extensive collection of tapes and DVDs. It was my senior year that I started research on folklore and urban legends for my graduation thesis. It was one of my many late night in the campus library that I came upon an article about an abduction so obscure, that it only garnered a few inches of text on the back page.
Coed missing off campus
The disappearance of a local college coed has authorities searching nearby bayous and questioning several students. Shannon Bates, Liberal Arts major at E.A. Poe College, was reported missing by her roommate after not returning from the Halloween party she was attending two nights ago at the gymnasium.
She was last seen in the vicinity of the King Memorial Gardens. She was registered at the college with no next of kin and law enforcement said there might be a possibility that she just left on her own. Authorities are questioning students and ask that any information be directed to the Royal Parish Sheriffs office.
King Memorial Gardens wasn't actually a garden. It was a small graveyard on the edge of campus, which held the tomb of the original landowners Richard and Betsy King. Around the ghastly mini mausoleum were a couple of unmarked graves, presumably offspring. It was too scary even for the like of me, with it's covered walkways and mildewed smell.
Only horny drunken kids and frat pledges during rush week ventured out there at night. In the morning, empty beer bottles, used scumbags, and the occasional panties would litter the area. It wasn't a murder yet, just a missing person's case until I found another article with the same circumstances, five years later to the day.
Missing college student's dorm ransacked
An E.A. Poe College student's dorm was pillaged, prompting the Residence Advisor to alert police. Judith Myers, a Journalism Major, has since been reported missing, following an extensive search of campus. The annual Halloween party held in the campus gym was where she last talked to her roommate, whose identity is being withheld. According to eyewitness accounts, she was seen headed in the direction of King Memorial Gardens. What was first thought to be a Halloween prank became more sinister when a mutilated hand was discovered among the bedlam tips missing. Authorities are silent as to the owner of the hand and expressed concern for finding the missing student.
"We just want to find Ms. Myers ASAP and get this all behind us," stated Sheriff John Stroh.
This is the second time at the college where a student was reported missing. In 1990, Shannon Bates went missing and after furtive efforts was never found. Like Bates, Myers was also a student with no next of kin, but local law enforcement says there is no connection. Poe College president Wes Romero showed concern for the allegations and promised, "to get to the bottom of it post haste." Anyone with information should contact the Royal Parish Sheriffs office immediately.
Next to the article was a photo of Judith Myers from the student directory with another of President Romero in his office right below. She was a pretty girl with sad eyes, as if she knew of her own demise. President Romero looked stoic as ever, puffed chest, and straightened back.
Anyone that ever met him knew he was all spit and polish, from his starched cuffs to his always-polished Stacy Adams. Him and his Southern Belle of a wife, Jamie Lee Romero, were known Hitler and Eva in quiet circles. After a couple more hours of poring over articles, slugging Bawls energy drinks, and three trips to the rest room, I put together what I knew to bring me to the Waffle House off I-10 at Midnight.
Even without the fingerprints, I knew that the hand belonged to Shannon Bates, but who could prove it. The federal authorities were never called in to assist. Nor were they called five years later for Judith Myers or five years after that when another coed went missing on Halloween and the nipples of presumably Myers were discovered on the kitchen counter in the off-campus apartment of the third victim, Simone Carpenter.
I guess these southern towns, still don't look too kindly on the "guv'ment" getting involved. All the victims were single with no next of kin to notify. They also were all African-American. Kinda easy to sweep them under the rug, with the Elizabeth Smarts, Jon Benets, and Natalee Holloways getting the above the fold headlines.
A few calls to area papers and even the USA Today produced no results and even the FBI confirmed what I felt. I realized that three black women missing weren't too high on the priority list with Homeland security trying to monitor the corner store terrorists. After all, there was no real evidence except for untraceable body parts and all the victims were adults with no one to miss them anyway.
I drew up a shoddy timeline and pieced together what facts I knew. It happened every five years on Halloween. Usually right after the annual party in the gym. The killer had to be someone who lived here year round, probably a professor or a local. Somehow, the victims were alone and in the vicinity of King Memorial.
No lighted area, leaving perfect seclusion for the abductor. Even the horniest and drunkest sumbitch avoids that area on Halloween. By the time incoming freshman have graduated and moved on with their lives, the next abduction happens. The college is small but large enough for news to never stay in place too long, before the next big thing. The closest daily paper is 40 miles away and the college paper has enough soft news like alumni grants and football scores to shy away from anything investigative.
By the time I knew that no help was coming, Halloween was a week away. I hacked the databanks of the admissions records; too easy since the only firewall on campus was the one at the Homecoming bonfire. I narrowed a search down to possible candidates, or should I say victims. I found fifteen women with no next of kin, but only three of them were sista's. I actually had to get off my ass and do some legwork. Of the three women, two lived in the dorms and one off campus.
The off-campus student was an Amanda Tittle, but after two hours of staking out her pad, I crossed her off the list. She had not one, but two men in her life. Not that she hid that fact, with her bedroom window open in the October night and both of them at either end of her like a Chinese finger puppet. I think if she came up missing, she would truly be missed.
Next on my list was Tiffany Jones. She was a sophomore on scholarship, Dean's list, Varsity Cheerleader, and pledge of Lambda Epsilon Iota sorority. It was no secret that the pledges were whisked away in the middle Halloween night, chained together in a rundown shack in the middle of the bayou, to be retrieved in the morning. Just the thought of half-naked coeds huddling together for warmth in pitch black made me want to investigate, but life and death were at hand.
Therefore my target of the night was Jasmine Sweets. She had no boyfriend, kept to herself, and slaved away on the third shift at the aforementioned Waffle House, just two miles up the road from Poe. By the time I found her dorm, she already left for shift and there was no picture of her in the student directory for me to find her
I went back home to prepare. Not wanting to look out of the ordinary, I rummaged through my footlocker for something suitable. Since I was strictly on the espionage tip, I decided with all black. I shook off my old leather pants that I bought with my first motorcycle, wore once, and decided too gay for my liking. I strapped on a pair of hiking boots with the hidden contraband heel.
As an afterthought, I slid a three-inch blade I bought in New Orleans in the compartment. Looking at myself in the mirror, I realized I resembled a poor knockoff of Wesley Snipes in Blade. To finish the ensemble, I cut a hole in the top of my trench coat and slid my souvenir Hatori Hanzo from the Kill Bill Series down the back. A pair of Ray Bans and fake fangs and I looked a little better. I ran outside and jumped into my 78 Corvette Stingray with rebuilt engine, bald tires and rusted muffler. Hey, I was in college on a scholarship.
I got there about nine and there were few patrons scattered about. The only worker present was the portly cook slapping his spatulas together in an ungodly concerto as he moved hash browns back and forth across the spitting grill. I found a corner booth where I could get a good look at the door and the parking lot. I tried to relax, but my nerves were shot and the damn sword was rubbing a hole in my smaller back. My next move was nonexistent. Do I find her and say, "Hey, I think you're about to be abducted and possibly murdered tonight." That would probably put me in jail, she'd be killed and I'll be on trial for conspiracy.
I tried to call the F.B.I again earlier, but was told to call my local authorities first. I should have told them my name was Ahmed and I have a nail clipper. So before I left the house, I sent a Fed-Ex to the headquarters of the F.B.I with copies of all my findings and a note about events that may or may not take place in the next 12 hours.
As I fiddled with my Zippo, I felt a presence and smelled the intoxicating aroma of cocoa butter.
"Would you like some coffee, Sir?"
That voice drizzled over me like caramel over an apple at the annual parish fair. It had just a twinge of Southern twang to let me know that the owner was born and raised here, but stayed long enough to assimilate. I felt myself stiffen at the outside chance that I could hear that same voice in my ear asking me to do things that you couldn't get at the 24-hour restaurant.
"Are you Blade? I think that is so cute."
I lifted my head to respond and was struck by the mocha-hued goddess standing there with a steel coffeepot in one hand; the other placed demurely on her hip. She stood about 6'2", her hair blown out in a shapely natural with an Afro pick resting off to the side. Instead of the standard yellow WH smock, she was dressed in skin draped denim bejeweled with sequins and a pair of calf high boots with pimp heels.
"Yep, you're the first," she replied as she poured that first cup of coffee smiling at me. "I thought that no one was gonna get it; you made my day."
I smiled back at her, my mind thinking of her warm and wet place. I shook off those thoughts and concentrated on the steaming liquid in front of me.
"My name is Jasmine and I'll come back when you're ready to order."
As she walked away, my heart dropped through my stomach and ended up somewhere near my right foot. It can't be her. That is so fucked up. I felt like the Grim Reaper; knowing her possible demise and also realizing that I had a snowballs chance in hell of stopping it."
I lit up a Marlboro and took a sip of coffee, wishing I brought my flask of Johnnie with me. I glanced at my watch and saw that I had two and half-hours before the witching hour. I glanced across the way as Jasmine scuttled back and forth with plates of steaming eggs, the never empty coffeepot, and her innocence intact.
I calmed down enough that when she came back to me, I was able to order without a panic attack. Famished from running around all day, I got the steak and eggs platter. When she returned with my order, she sat down and looked at me. This took me off guard as I stared back at her with knife and fork in ready position.
"So, Blade. What's brings you out here this time of night. The parties aren't even in full swing yet."
"Waiting for somebody."
"Are you early or are they late."
"Don't know yet."
Her eyes closed as if she was trying to read me and her nose scrunched her like a rabbit searching carrots.
"Are you sure that's all you're doing?"
I shoveled in a mouthful of hash browns covered with onions and chili and mumbled, "Yep."
"Well, I hope they take their time." With that, she got up and went to greet a trucker with that smile and pot of coffee.
For the next two hours, I went through a pack of smokes, another steak dinner and a huge slice of apple pie. Jasmine checked up on me every once in awhile, throwing a little small talk my way every time. I found out that she was an orphan, here on partial scholarship, but raised in Haddonfield, Illinois. I also was on my own and knew how hard it was with nobody watching your back. Customers came and went, but I couldn't spot anything out of the ordinary.
A few minutes past 11 o'clock, Jasmine came by with a check and her goodbye.
"I don't think your friend is coming through, Blade." She sat down and repositioned her comb. "I'm about to end my shift and I've got a date."
As I fiddled in my coat pocket to pay the bill, my heart leapt just a little. She has a date, so she won't be alone. My little celebration came to a screeching halt when she added, "I got the DVD warmed up and I never miss watching Halloween one and two. It's tradition." With that, she swept up the bill and my money and went to the cash register.
I jumped out of my seat, shook off the pins and needles, and abruptly headed for the exit.
"Your change," she shouted after me.
"Keep it," I replied as I shoved past a drunken Frankenstein and beeline for my car.
I parked a distance from the restaurant so I could get a bird eye view of the parking lot. Through the wide windows, I saw Jasmine check out and gather her belongings. She swiftly walked to a beat up blue Honda Accord and got in. I turned the engine over in the Stingray and stared at the dashboard clock. I had one hour to go before the witching hour and another two to keep vigil. A sudden shower speckled my windshield with watery drops making harder to see with activating my wipers, but I wanted to keep a low profile.
Jasmine pulled out of the parking lot and after waiting at the light, turned left onto I-10. I pulled out also and began to make the turn when out of nowhere, I was momentarily blinded and slammed backwards into my seat. I didn't know what happened until I heard the scream of my tires and the sick twisting of my front fender and realized I was blindsided by another automobile. After the noise subsided in my ears and the car came to a halt, I shoved against my drivers' side door and peeled my self from the mess.
"Dude, Are you ok?" asked a weaving Mummy as he tried to peel the gauze from his mouth to speak more clearly.
I thought about Jasmine's fate, thinking about how I should have let her in on what I knew, and instantly puked all of my dinner on street and the Mummy.
"Shit, Man," screamed the Mummy as my dinner mixed with his dressings and fake blood, actually putting an improvement on his costume.
I plopped down on my back fender and tried to clear my head. I looked at my car and saw it was finished. The front end was bleeding green, and both front tires were flattened. The other driver's car was still intact due to the ram bars installed on the monstrous SUV. Before I thought about what I was doing, I jumped behind his driver's seat, peeled his truck away from the wreckage, and pointed it west.
In the rear view, I saw a ghostly figure jumping up and down in the shadow of the overpass, loose bandages flapping like a tails on a kite. I pushed the accelerator down and let the hemi do the work. Five minutes later I slammed on the brakes in front of Jasmine's dorm building, looking for any sign of her blue Accord. Not seeing it, I jumped out of the stolen truck and raced across the parking lot, up the flight of steps to the dorm monitor's office.
"Jasmine Sweets. I need to see her now."
The plump matron looked at me with bored eyes, smacking her gum. "Men are not allowed visitation after Midnight, young man." Glancing at her watch, she added. "There's no need to be waking her up anyhow, call her tomorrow."
"Just call her, please." My frantic eyes searched for a way in, but the front doors were electronically locked.
Sighing she picked up the phone, and dialed the three digits of Jasmine's dorm room. After what seemed like an eternity, she put the phone back in it's cradle and mumbled, "No Answer."
I slid down the wall and buried my face in between my knees. I failed her. I failed myself. I wracked my brain for something and within an instant was on my feet again, hurtling out the door into the unloving night. The rains subsided, leaving the campus covered in a light fog.
I stopped short of the parking lot when I saw two campus security cars, circling, with hi-beams cutting through the settling mist. They targeted the Dodge and got out to investigate. I crouched low and swept along the shadows until I was far enough away to break into full stride. I ran into a group of revelers and blended in with them until I reached the West End of President Romero's house whose footpath led right to my objective.
The stillness of the surrounding woods sent shivers through my thick jacket, right into the marrow of my bones. There was no spooky music to tell me what was around the corner, no camera angles to tell me which way to look. Only the sound of shifted pebbles under my cautious footsteps broke the night air. I crouched low to the ground to let my eyes adjust to the dark. I gripped the hilt of my Hanzo sword for comfort and proceeded forward. Before I knew it, I was at the entrance of King Tomb. I tried to control the fear seizing me by steadying my breathing, but truth is told I was a shivering bitch. It was that unyielding scent of cocoa butter wafting past my nose that steeled my nerves and told me I was in the right spot.
A branch broke underfoot to my rear and I quickly spun to face my intruder.
"You shouldn't have come, what you think you're doing is useless." said a recognizable voice.
"Well, I'm here now and I got Hanzo with me," I barked in false bravado as I reached back to pull my weapon. Squeezing the patterned handle, I snatched it out and took a defensive stance. The pull was easy; too easy. I followed the focal point from the handle to the blade only to realize that more than half the blade was missing. It must've snapped off during my fender bender. By the time I registered the mistake, I felt a crushing blow on the right side of my face, sending me hurtling down to the gravel. The last thing I remember were a pair of the shiniest damn Stacy Adams this side of God's green earth planted a foot from my closing eyes.
I was dreaming of the Bahamas, White sands, blue skies, and crystal waters. I was nursing a Margarita that was way too salty and I was stretched out next to Jasmine. She looked as beautiful as ever but was troubled, Despite the gorgeous day; it felt damp and chilly. She mouthed something to me, but someone on the beach was playing a David Allan Coe ballad, preventing me from hearing what she was saying. I leaned closer, but I still couldn't hear but a whisper. I concentrated on her ripe lips and realized she what she was saying.