(Author's note: This story is an official entry into the 2007 Literotica Halloween Story Contest. It is easily the darkest piece I have written for Literotica, and includes the themes of mind control and non-consensual sex. I hope you enjoy, and please, don't forget to vote.)
"Thirty seconds to air, Joe."
The producer rolled his eyes; for three years, ever since the syndicated talk show took off, he had been affectionately referred to as 'Dickhead.' It wasn't his fault that he had become prematurely bald at thirty-three, revealing the slit-like scar from an adolescent accident on the top of his head . . . .
Joe Rags – Ragsurillio, to be exact – cracked his knuckles, then his neck, loosening up as he always did before the show. He tossed back a Zanex with his coffee, put the pill bottle below the desk. The camera was about to go live, and he did not want to provide any proof to the numerous rumors concerning his drug use.
A quick glance to Humpy (a.k.a. Harold Lumis) told him everything was ready for the show. Humpy was a chubby guy, very crass and not the least bit shy or tactful. Joe couldn't host the show without his sidekick's vulgar contributions. Good thing the Joe Rags Show was on satellite radio. There were practically no restrictions on either content or language, a far cry from the 'early' days of bowing to FCC regulations and getting the daily slap on the wrist from a stodgy producer.
"Ready to freak them the fuck out?" Joe asked.
Humpy grinned and nodded, showing tobacco-stained teeth. He drummed his fingers next to the screen before him. "Let's do it," he said.
Joe looked to Dickhead, who was watching the clock. The producer held up a hand, counted down on his fingers while silently mouthing the words: Five . . . four . . . three . . . two . . . .
Through his earphones, Joe heard the raucous cacophony of the Crypt Keeper's laugh (the royalties to use it were ridiculously cheap), followed by the opening instrumental of 'Rock Lobster,' over which ran the introduction:
"Straight from the pits of Hell, bat wings glowing bright with flame, sweeping into the deepest, darkest place in your heart! Set aside normalcy, set aside morality, set aside civility! It's Joe Rags! Live and uncensored!"
Joe grinned. Howard Stern, eat your fuckin' heart out, he thought, then leaned into the felt-covered microphone. "Yeah, it's the Joe Rags show," he said to the millions of listeners who tuned in every night at eight o'clock. "So if you're not in the mood for raunchy debauchery or immoral turpitude, then switch over to that other guy and enjoy some outdated, 'Father Knows Best' shit. Otherwise, stick with me, kids, and get a real education."
He paused a moment, took a sip of coffee, and nodded to Humpy. "Okay, so this is Halloween—" he paused a moment as Humpy hit the 'diabolical laugh' button on the touch-screen before him. "—and we all know what that means: dress up your thirteen-year-old daughter like a hooker so she can get lots of treats and maybe turn a few tricks.
"You know, what bothers me about Halloween – aside from the asshole fuckers who put up scary pumpkins and lame-ass Casper posters in the store windows – is the dichotomy of thought about social mores and the costumes kids wear. I was shopping with my daughter the other day; she's going to some sorority party, and wanted to dress up like . . . whatsername . . . ."
"Brittney?" prodded Humpy.
Joe grimaced. "No, the other trashy bitch," he said.
Joe snapped his fingers. "That's the cunt. Damn, now there's a chick who would really benefit from a sex video, you know? Hell, I wouldn't mind seeing that tramp with a dick in her mouth. Anyway . . . so my daughter says she needs a set of six-inch stiletto heels to complete her outfit . . . I'm thinking, 'what the fuck? So you're finally legal, and you wanna show it off like a Vine Street hooker?'"
"You know she's gonna make you a grandfather before she's twenty," Humpy remarked.
Joe shook his head, took a sip of coffee. He glanced to Humpy, saw the man chuckling. "But that's just a small part of it," Joe continued. "It's the whole commercialism of Halloween that gets me. Just like how jolly old St. Nick is pimped out like a ho on 34th street every year, now we got Freddy and Jason practically sucking cock for the American dollar! It's disgusting! Whatever happened to the real spirit of Halloween? Whatever happened to scaring the shit out of your fellow man? Well, tonight, I'm going back to the roots of Halloween.
"It's called All Hallows Eve, and it's a Christianized bastard of a pagan holy day known as Samhain. Samhain was celebrated after the first harvest by the Celts of central Europe and what is now the UK. It was a positive celebration, heralding the good fortune raked in by honest, hard-working farmers. Don't see too many of those these days, do ya? No, now it's all about business and productivity. Shit. Almost makes me wish we were socialist."
"Socialist? You a fucking Nazi now, Joe?"
He shot a sour look to Humpy. "Fuck you," he spat. "You're not listening to me, dude. I'm ranting against commercialism, not for control. But, fuck that. We'll table the pros and cons of commercial whoring for another show. Tonight is about the practice of Halloween. Of putting on masks to ward off the evil spirits and all that jazz. Centuries ago, they sat around campfires and told stories, and that's what we're gonna do tonight. I wanna hear about the freakiest Halloween stories you all have to tell.
"1-800-555-HELL. That's the line for Halloween stories, and they better be good. I'll kick your ass off the air without so much as a 'fuck you' if all I get is some buttered-up version of Halloween V, got it? And, to get things moving . . . ."
Joe paused a moment, sipping his coffee, feeling the Zanex kicking in. He sighed softly as the relaxing glow spread across his shoulders like the warm rush of morphine. "Seven years ago, tonight, I was in an accident. Pretty bad one, too. Me and my bitch ex-wife were driving along a country road and got clipped by some jackass in a commercial van. Spun around a few times, then flipped, end over end. I could have sworn I had my arm out the window and lost it. Hell, I could feel it being ripped off! Blood everywhere!"
Joe gritted his teeth, looking for a moment to the camera, then to Dickhead in the booth, then to Humpy, who was watching avidly. "I can remember the pain. I can remember seeing the smeared remains of my left arm on the road outside the window of my '69 Camarro as I hung, upside-down, constrained in the driver's seat. And the crying of the Bitch. Like she'd broken a nail or something.
"I don't really know what happened next. I passed out, and when I awoke, I was in a hospital bed, and the docs – fucking losers, you ask me, they don't know half as much as they want you to think they do – were telling me I was gonna be just fine. I still had my arm, which sort'a freaked me out, since I knew, I fucking knew, it had been ripped off. They told me I had been hallucinating. Said something about too much alcohol and drugs. Fuck them; they don't know shit.
"You know what, Humpy?"
Humpy stared, his round, pale eyes wide. "What's that?"
"I did lose my arm. Fucking thing was ripped off, I know it. You know what happened?"
Humpy frowned. "Um . . . what?"
Joe chuckled. "I think I can remember it, now, though it's like some kind of freaky dream. Like the kind you have when you take morph on an empty stomach. Turns ya inside-out. Anyway, I remember it. Dark smoke and that stench of sulfur . . . it was the Devil. He came to me that night, gave me back my arm. And all he wanted was a signature on the dotted line."
Joe winked to his producer. "Now look at me. Sold my soul to the devil, and I got me a national satellite radio show. Not a bad trade, huh?"
Humpy suddenly laughed. "You're a bastard, Joe, you know that?"
Joe grinned. "Yeah, I know that," he agreed. He faced the microphone once more. "Okay, open lines. 1-800-555-HELL. Scare me. I dare ya."
". . . and I just knew it was my husband," Marian from Kentucky said on the other end of the line. She sniffled with emotion. "He just wanted to tell me he was all right, that there was life after death—"
"Oh, fucking hell," groaned Joe, hitting the switch that cut the line. "What the fuck is this? Sappy Halloween Night? Come on, you twisted sad-sack assholes out there! Scare me!" He jabbed at a button. "Line three. This is Joe Rags, you're on the air. Talk to me."
There was a long pause. "Hello, Joe." The voice was smooth, dark, and deep, like congealing blood on a sidewalk.
Joe rolled his eyes. "Nice work on the voice modulator, dude," he said. "Let me guess: drama student?"
The line was silent for several seconds, spitting out faint static into Joe's earphones.
"Hello? Look, man, if you're a heavy breather, I know some sorority chicks that would get off on this shit—"
"How's the scar?"
Joe stopped abruptly. "What was that?"
"The scar," repeated the haunting voice across the line. "The one you got when you were nine, walking the slippery rail outside school. Don't you remember that, Joe? You slipped, cracked a tooth, slammed your chin into the ice-covered railing."
Self-consciously, Joe touched his chin. The scar was faint, but the calcified fracture beneath still bothered him now and then when the weather turned cold. He forced a chuckle, conscious of the camera upon him and the millions of watchers throughout the country. "Nice," he said. "Almost got me. So what's your story?"
There came a low, rumbling laugh from the other end. Joe could just make out the faint sounds of footsteps, the distant noises of the street. "Same old story, Joe," the man said. "Desperation, depravity, pain and consequence. We see it all the time, don't we?"
Joe sighed. "This ain't 'Junior Socrates Hour,'" he said. "You got a story for me, or what?"
"Oh! There she is! Mmmm . . . my, what a sweet thing, Joe. She really is very pretty, and sexy, too. Nice and slender, despite having squeezed out that brat you call a daughter."
For a moment, Joe was speechless, not sure what to say. He glanced to Humpy, who shrugged, then Dickhead. No answers there, either. Joe quickly brought his wits back into play. "Okay, I'll give it to you," he said. "You're a pretty slick fucker. Now—"
"Sorry, Joe, gotta go make some Halloween cheer. I'll get back to you."
Joe frowned as the line disconnected. "Asshole," he muttered, then punched a button. "Line four, you're on the air."
Joe eased back in his chair, slipping the headphones from his head. The last couple of callers had been so-so, mildly entertaining, but they were not on his mind. The caller who had implied he was stalking Joe's ex-wife was. Joe had been glad to get rid of the woman he considered an emotional and financial drain (despite the fact that he now paid over six grand a month in alimony), but the mere idea that someone out there might be stalking Carrie bugged him.
He had a three-minute break while the ads were read, satisfying the Gods of Capitalism for their monetary support. The camera was still running, of course, with Joe's legions avidly watching even his most mundane moments. Just for the hell of it, he picked his nose while he took out his cell. He still called Carrie once or twice a month – mainly just to check up on their daughter, Melissa – so her number was in phone's memory.
And rang . . . .
Finally: "Hi, this is Carrie Stathan. I don't feel like talking to you, so leave me a message."
Joe grimaced, snapped the phone closed. It wasn't uncommon for Carrie to ignore his calls, unless she was expecting one. Still, given the unnerving tenor of the 'stalker's' words earlier, the lack of acceptance on the other end was a little . . . frightening.
"Joe, you okay?" Humpy asked, munching on a toasted coconut donut.
He shrugged dismissively. "Just checking with my bookie," he said. "Asshole must be doing his secretary or something."
Humpy grunted. "Yeah."
"What the fuck does that mean?" Joe snapped. "'Yeah?'"
Humpy frowned, mid-bite. "Hey, why you getting mad at me? I ain't one'a your callers."
Joe frowned. "Finish your fucking donut," he said, after glancing to the clock. "We got thirty seconds."
Humpy studied his boss, his friend of more than half a decade, noting the slight twitch in Joe's left eyebrow that always came when the man was nervous. "That guy got to you, huh? That guy who said he was checkin' out Carrie—"
"Hey," interrupted Joe with a glaring look. "Nobody gets to me, got it? I'm Joe Rags. I get to people, not the other way around."
Humpy dusted his fingers, sucking a tooth as he nodded slowly. "Sure."
Joe gave his partner a disgusted look, noticing Dickhead gesturing from the corner of his eye. The bald man began counting down silently once more. "Get on the clock," Joe grumbled, then fitted his earphones back in place. He watched Dickhead's fingers folding in: three . . . two . . . one . . . .
Joe waited for the Crypt-Keeper's laugh to fade, then spoke: "Okay, hour two of the Joe Rags Show, and it's Halloween!" He hit a button on his console that elicited the 'maniacal laugh' of Vincent Price. "I wanna hear your raunchiest, most perverted, most disgusting and frightening Halloween stories. Don't hold back, got it? I don't want any sappy, mamby-pamby bullshit about ghosts and weird noises . . . not unless the ghost looks like Elle MacPherson naked and she's cutting off some guy's balls. So, come on! Give it to me! 1-800-555-HELL."
He jabbed at a button. "Line one, you're on. Scare me, I dare ya."
"Hey, Joe. Love your show, dude."
"Great," responded Joe curtly. "What's your story?"
"Well, man, I ain't shittin' ya, but last Halloween, I made it with a real fuckin' vampire. She turned me into one."
Joe paused a moment, giving Dickhead a dubious look. "Yeah, those vampire sluts really suck, don't they?"
"Dude!" the caller responded with an extended laugh. "Fuckin' bitch sucked me off like a . . . a fuckin' nomad in the Gobi, needin' a drink!" He laughed some more. "So, anyway, I'm at this nightclub, and she walks up to me, kind'a like Trinity in The Matrix, right? Black leather and bare shoulders and all that shit . . . ."
Joe barely listened to his obviously inebriated caller as he watched Dickhead in the producer's booth. The soft-bodied man was talking to someone on one of the holding lines, frowning and looking uncomfortable. He looked up to Joe, and gestured, waving two fingers.
". . . so she's, like, getting' all down and dirty, on her knees right there in the club! Like, tons of people watching! And—"
"Really fascinating," Joe said to the caller on line one, just before slapping the button to end the call. He sighed and chuckled into the microphone. "Halloween porn. Gotta love it." He depressed the button for the second line. "Joe Rags. Talk to me."
"You should have left the other caller on. I was getting into the story."
Anxiety gripped him for a brief moment, as Joe instantly recognized the smooth, nefarious voice. "Well, if it isn't my number one fan," he remarked dryly.
"More like the other way around, Joe, but we'll get to that later."
Joe frowned, listening to the background noise from the other end. The man was obviously indoors, and sounded relaxed, suggesting he was sitting down. Faintly, Joe thought he could discern something that sounded like whimpering. "You know, dickwad, this whole creepy Hannibal Lecter routine is getting old, fast. You got a story, fine, let me have it. But lose the whole—"
"Oh, I have a story. Guaranteed to scare you into next Tuesday."
Joe froze visibly. Guaranteed to scare you into next Tuesday, he thought. That's what Uncle Marty said to his wife on Halloween before he blew his head off with a shotgun. Jesus, that was more than ten years ago. He leaned closer to the microphone. "Who are you?" he asked.
There came a dry chuckle through the line. "Why don't you call me Nick?" he suggested. There came the ringing sound of a Zippo being flicked open, then the unmistakable click of steel on flint.
"Okay . . . Nick," Joe said patronizingly. "So what's your story?"
Nick exhaled on the other end, invoking an image in Joe's mind of a dark-haired man leaning back in a leather chair, a cigarette between the fingers of a slightly-canted hand. "Well, it involves a rather pretty woman, forty-one years old, though she's held her age well . . . about five-five, little on the slender side, with dyed blonde hair. It's a good job, really. Can't even see her roots. Why, you might even believe she really is a blonde, since she shaves the carpet."
Joe felt his palms getting sweaty. 'Nick,' whoever he was, could have been describing Carrie to a tee. He looked to Humpy, who stared back with wide, wondering eyes. He shrugged helplessly as if Joe had asked him a question. "Sounds a little . . . typical to me," Joe said. "Like you're just making something up off the top of your head."
Nick chuckled. "Bear with me," he said. "There's a killer twist."
Joe ground his teeth a moment. Nick's voice was compelling, bidding him to continue listening. As well, he wanted to keep the man talking, if only to reassure himself that this was all an elaborate hoax. "Well, don't keep me waiting."
Nick laughed again. "That's what I like about you, Joe. Ready to jump in the pool without looking for the sharks." He paused, exhaling again. "So let's get to it. I picked her up as she was walking to her car. Not the Mercedes, but that maroon SUV. What's it called? A Marino?"
Joe took a breath, keeping calm. "Murano," he corrected.
"Yeah, that's it. Nice ride. Lots of space. Tossed her in the back where no one could see her. Oh, don't worry, she's not dead. I'm not into necrophilia."
Joe tensed at the implication of Nick's words. He saw the worried and angry look that crossed Humpy's face; he had always been infatuated with Joe's ex-wife. A cautionary hand silently bade Humpy to be quiet. "So you really want me to believe that you kidnapped my ex-wife?" he prodded.
"Sure. Want to talk to her?"
Joe caught his breath, swallowed thickly. He had expected – hoped – that Nick would balk at the challenge. Words stuck in his throat, alongside his heart. He listened as Nick moved on the other end of the line. The whimpering that had been faint earlier became louder. Joe heard Nick talking to someone else, ostensibly, his ex-wife.
"Just a few words, honey," Nick said in a placating tone. A feminine gasp sounded from the other end. Joe imagined a gag being pulled away.
He stiffened instantly, recognizing the voice of the woman he had spent over sixteen years of his life with. His stomach tightened, in response to the invisible dagger that was suddenly thrust home. "Carrie?"
"Joe!" she shrieked again. "What the fuck's going on! Who is this asshole?"
"J-just try to stay calm," stammered Joe. His mind was spinning from the sudden reality that, indeed, Carrie appeared to be a prisoner of some sadistic, evil man.
"Calm? Calm? I'm tied to a fucking bed, Joe! This better not be some kind of sick fucking joke, 'cause if it is, I'm gonna fucking roast you in court!"
Joe squeezed his eyes shut, fighting the impulse that whispered in his ego to lose control.
Nick's diabolic laugh returned on the line, with Carrie's shrieking voice becoming muffled. "Now isn't that sweet? She thinks you're behind this, Joe. But then . . . you are."