The Four Stone Walls of Hellbybluegasoverredart©
Christine had returned home from college with her heart in pieces that Christmas, having lost her fiancée', sweethearts since their senior year of high school, who had suddenly seemed to fall from the face of the Earth.
He stopped calling.
He stopped visiting.
And from everything she could discern about his disappearance... he stopped existing.
And he wasn't alone, four other brothers of his Sigma Delta Kappa fraternity had disappeared, in what police had narrowed down to the same six hour period.
Aside from the love of her life, the missing persons report included Andy Romero, a star defensemen on the college soccer team. Reuben McNichols, a six-foot five giant of a man in his Senior year of dominating the college wrestling circuit. And then, the wildcard whom seemed to have no connection to the other three aside from being fraternity brothers, a quiet kid by the name of Drew Gaer.
Drew was the only one in the group that wasn't a known friend of any of the others outside the fraternity, mostly keeping to himself and spending all of his free time making extra tuition money as a known computer wizard, destined to be the next Bill Gates of our world according to anyone who had paid for his services.
Then there was Christine's boyfriend, Ryan Blake, a known trouble-maker throughout high school who had been expelled so many times his parents had had to move twice in four years just to change districts and get a fresh start. The constant moves were the only reason he'd graduated high school at all, though a good student, and while most would've bet that his past would follow him into college, an assistant coach for the university's hockey team appealed to his unbridled aggression and found the proper channel for it.
Ryan's freshmen year, he was already known as one of the most fiercely dominant players on the ice, at half the size of other players who wanted nothing to do with his bad side. He proved to be an extremely effective means of clearing paths to the net, including a path of his own, taking quickly to the proper procedure involved with LEGALLY running someone over in a big ugly smear - and Smear became what they called him.
What kept the campus most on it's toes was the size of the men who were missing, most of them anyway, and the impeccable shape that three of the four had been in at the time of their apparent capture. A star soccer player who could run the full length of the field in half a minute. A giant decorated wrestler nearly undefeated in his college career who could lift his weight and half again well over his head, as easily as a bag of groceries. And then Ryan Blake, Smear... the hockey player who'd knocked out more teeth with his open-ice body checks than most boxers had with their fists.
The trio were gritty, chiseled, animals even... all except for Drew Gaer. The quiet kid whose keyboard sounded like hundreds of stampeding deer within his dorm room, as his double-jointed fingers narrowly avoided mangling together while pummeling his formulaic brilliance into his overhauled system.
The case was into it's second week without any leads, and it was then that a heart-broken, near-hopeless Christine had gone home. She was glad that she lived close to the university if they got a break in the case, she imagined in her mind that the phone would ring and she could race to the hospital, see Ryan alive surrounded by his frat brothers... dirty and bruised but alive and home.
Upon arriving home, she remembered the cruise her parents had been planning for months, which they'd left for that morning, leaving her home alone in the giant two story, eight bedroom house.
Which is what had brought her to her parent's church so late in the evening. She couldn't stand to be in the giant house alone, and she prayed that maybe someone would be there. She needed someone to notice her heartbreak, to be with her and know what to say, at least share her company... more than anything, she desperately needed to not be alone.
Opening her eyes from a silent prayer which had somehow gotten lost in everything that was going through her mind, a newspaper caught her eye at the far corner of the pew. She recognized one of the pictures beneath the front page headlines as hers... and Ryan next to her.
Jumping up to grab the paper opposite her, she checked the date and realized it was today's paper, one she hadn't read yet, with the headline claiming a new break in the story. Her eyes felt like they were on fire trying to speed through the article...
"...after bringing in almost 300 students for questioning and having received nearly a hundred anonymous tips, the police have learned that all four men were seen on dates at the approximate time of their disappearance..."
Tears came to her eyes, and she wanted to argue with the words as though someone else was there to hear her. Looks can be deceiving, she reminded herself. A lot of their friends from high school had followed them to college, male and female, and Ryan had always been very social. She had no reason not to trust him. It could be a mistake.
"Three of the four girls have been officially reported missing by their families, while the fourth girl's family has yet to be reached. Though her name has not been disclosed, her parents are said to work at a church about fifteen miles from the campus where she was last seen on a date with one of the missing boys. Her parents are yet to be reached as of this print. Police are even beginning to question whether or not the parents' apparent disappearance has something to do with the mysterious circumstances under which the others have not been found. The possibility of the parents' role as either suspects or victims, however, is yet to be specified."
Her eyes swelled against the steady beat of her heart, throbbing against her chest as the sweat broke on her face and a slammed door echoed in the cavernous walls of the church where she sat... apparently alone.
"Ryan wouldn't cheat on me..." she said, staring at her picture and the place where her name had been screened out beneath it. It didn't say anything in the caption about the girl in the picture being the girl they were looking for.
The facts seemed to jump from the page and smack her in the face with a sting that shook her all the way down her spine.
She was sitting in her father's church, one that her parents had built and restored with every dime of their life savings after years of being condemned and abandoned. She did the math in her mind as she drove back and forth from the college to the school, all the times she'd stared at the clock on the way home... doing the math as she held in a sharp gasp from the pit of her stomach.
Fifteen miles from church to campus.
"Ryan wouldn't cheat on me," she said again, another door slamming shut as she jumped to her feet and whirled around, still alone, but with footsteps beginning to echo all around her, breaking the long silence.
"Who's there?" she called out into the empty church, as the footsteps grew quiet and a menacing laugh reverberated from beyond the walls around her.
"Ryan wouldn't cheat on me," she repeated to herself, "the girl's parents owned a church fifteen miles from campus... and Ryan wouldn't cheat on me. Only one of them hasn't been reported missing... the girl whose parents own a church... fifteen minutes from campus."
The footsteps started all around her again, coming closer, rushed, like cloven hooves pounding into the carpeting, up and down stairs and in and out of rooms, as though they were scouring the entire building for something.
"Who's there?" she called again, stammering with fear as she began to turn every which way to look over her shoulders and behind her, hands trembling and stomach beginning to churn with nausea as she fought to keep her vision from tunneling to darkness and passing out there on the floor.
"Ryan?" she called out... "Answer me right now or I'm going to call the fucking cops!"
The lights in the church fell to sudden darkness as she reached for the phone in her purse, dropping it with a scream as she crouched beneath the pew and fought for her eyes to adjust to the darkness. The footsteps were all around her now, from the last pew to the first pew and on each wall, circling and rushing past one another as though to form a tight circle around her.
She grabbed her phone and quickly ran her fingers over the buttons, visualizing in her mind the 9 and the 1 to call the police.
She pressed them as she found them and lay on her back prepared to kick as the phone rang once... twice.... three times... still no answer....
The phone went dead... and the sound only drew them to her... but right before she closed the little flip phone in defeat a voice came through the other end. Sharp and chilled, with a dead witches rasp as though from her grave, the words turned her blood cold as the hands lowered around her, snarling and snorting like demons possessed, hunting for souls in the night.
"One... two... three... four...."
"Help me..." Christine whimpered.
She could feel the hands beginning to grab at her clothes and her hair, touching her face, all of them bloodlessly cold like the walking dead. The rain outside pounded against the church and the sound of thunder began to rock the pew beside her. Something in her heart braced her for the stained glass windows to shatter, but they didn't.
Suddenly, a flash of lightning lit the entire church, and she could see his face, bruised and dirty, eyes white and mouth hanging, blood dried in his hair, and his hole body hanging at a broken arch over her.
"Baby!" she cried with tears, sitting up to embrace him... but he didn't even turn his head. He didn't look down to acknowledge her, nod, blink, it was like he was...
"Blind..." she muttered in disbelief.
"RYAN!" she screamed, "CAN YOU HEAR ME, PLEASE!"
She grabbed his leg and his body jerked violently down, grabbing her face with his hand and pulling her to her feet by the hair, hugging her and moaning joyfully as another flash of lightning revealed the other four brothers. All of them were white in the eyes, mouth hanging crudely, and bodies bent like stiff scarecrows without support for their joints.
All of them were covered in blood, severely beaten, white as sheets and cold as rain.
"What happened to you?" she yelled in his ear, hugging him tightly to her.
He was silent except for groans and heavy, frantic breathing, and for as loud as she screamed he would hardly flinch except to continuously look around over their shoulders like a nervous twitch that all of them shared.
Fighting off tears as best she could, she pulled his trembling hands to her face and gently placed a finger on her eye, then used his finger to trace a heart over her chest, and finally turned his finger back to point at himself.
"I love you" she said with a sob. She did the sign language again and he squeezed her hand as though somewhere, some part of him still existed and could feel her touch and knew her scent, wanted to see her and hold her like he would if he were normal... whatever had happened to him that had taken that part of him away... or at least so far from the surface.
He held her opened hand against his heart and slid up her wrist 'til he'd closed all but her index finger into a fist, pointing her finger down toward the floor. He then spelled out GO into her hand as she began feeling her way through the darkness towards the basement stairs, when all of a sudden his hand snatched her wrist back, holding her in place.
The dull, grinding sound of chainsaws filled the air through the pounding rain outside, from all sides, as the four men gathered around her.
She spelled out "Who" in his hand and he turned to her, looking through blind eyes, his face melting with sorrow.
"TAKE US" he spelled into her hand, and again used her finger to point down into the floor.
She held his hand and moved through the darkness as a door burst open and the sound of chainsaws scathed the air with blazing fury as he covered her mouth in time to catch her scream, and she began moving faster to the far end of the church which led down into the basement.
Their feet pounded hard against the thinly carpeted stairs as lightning flashed against the stained glass windows. They turned fast corners and ducked through short cuts, fortunate was she that she'd grown up in this church and knew it so well. Still, the sound of the chainsaws seemed to close the distance with heart-wrenching speed, at their heels as she finally found the door leading down.
It was locked.
She tried it several times with a sharp cry of terror as she grabbed his hand and placed it on the doorknob to show it was locked.
They looked at each other hopelessly as the three others merely stood there, listening to the sound get closer.
Ryan gently backed Christine into the corner of the doorway, blocking her with his body and standing guard, protecting her with his life from the coming onslaught.
Finally, the glow of flashlights rounded the corner and several strong looking men began to close the distance of the long hallway, walking now, taking their time, savoring the feel of their chainsaws cutting closer to the flesh and bone of their prey.
Moving quickly, Christine began climbing up Reuben McNichol's strong back and sliding the ceiling tiles aside, crawling through to the other side of the door and quickly dropping behind it, frantically working the lock on the knob with her shaking fingers and throwing it open as the men charged almost to the doorway with their chainsaws.
She yelled and screamed for the men to come but in the fear of the moment forgot what she'd already known... they couldn't see, they couldn't hear, they were helpless but to the vibrations of the chainsaws and the smell of burning gasoline as the strong men drew closer.
Christine fought through the urge to run and reached outside the door, grabbing at Reuben's massive arm, pulling him towards the door as she pushed past him and grabbed for Ryan, guiding him as well. She reached for Andy but it was too late, he and Drew had both been impaled by the growling chainsaws. She watched the heavy blades spinning through to the other side of their backs, nearly in her face as the men raised their weapons all the way up between the shoulders from the abdomen and halfway up the neck as the two men fell forward in hurricane bursts of deep red blood.
Christine turned back for the door with the heat of the chainsaws at her heels, nearly at her flesh as she ran past the door and left the ground, twisting in mid-air as she slammed it back on the men charging her, the force of the slamming door exploding inward with the jaws of a chainsaw piercing through and cutting its way in.
Christine followed Ryan to a deep corner of the basement and cowered there against his chest, the two of them completely trapped, finally breaking down having fought it off this long, listening to the sounds of the buckling door and the men all laughing as they forced their way closer.
She crawled to Ryan and held his hand, letting her face fall into his cold palm, crying soft tears as she felt his other hand stroke her head. How had this all happened? Who was after them? What had they done? What did they want? Why?
She looked up at Ryan and the words echoed in her mind, a sense of urgency bit down hard on the nerves of her shaking hands and she began spelling "Why" impulsively into his palm. She noticed even his hands were shaking now, something she'd never seen nor would've ever expected from the man who once feared nothing, and tears ran down her face as he began spelling slowly into her hand.
They wanted her. The men wanted her. What had she done?
Half the door fell to the ground on one side, just tight enough for the men to not fit, though it would only be a matter of seconds now.
"Why" she spelled again in his hand.
"Fear" he spelled back.
She drew a question mark in his hand as smoke and dust began to fog the room from the chainsaws in the door.
He spelled "Us" in her hand as they both took a deep breath of oxygen, trying to hold it to keep from gagging on the air around them.
They're afraid of us? She wanted to scream in his ear, she wanted to pull the voice out of his throat, how could he explain this situation one syllable at a time?
"Us?" she spelled in his hand, as he reached down to rub her stomach and then spelled "Baby"
They were coming for her... to kill her... so that she wouldn't have his baby? They were afraid of them having a child... she was more lost than ever and it was too late.
They were past the door.
She drew a final question mark in his hand as they all drove into big Reuben's chest at once with their chainsaws, blood splashing them against the far wall where they were hidden by the smoke and saw dust in the air.
He brought her finger to his eye, spelled an M in her hand, and leaned down close to her ear... struggling out a hoarse little croak of a rasp of a whisper, all he had left of his voice.
Eye M Cursed.
They were coming for her because they were afraid of their child. Now she knew why.
She wanted to ask him why, draw a hundred more question marks in his hand, and get the whole story one word at a time, but it was too late. She felt the chainsaw plunge through his middle, shaking his entire body, as she quickly put his hand on her heart and kept spelling "I heart you" into the back of his palm.
She was alone now.
They circled around her and she whimpered with fear, cuddling tearfully to the fallen corpse of her beloved. The smoke began to clear and she could see their faces. They were all older, elderly even, with faces that narrowed outward to a point and small jagged teeth like no human she had ever seen.
"It is an awful shame..." one of them remarked to the others, "that such a girl is to be wasted."
"We cannot risk that she has been fertilized by the demon seed." another said.
"Why couldn't they hear me," she screamed at them, "why couldn't they speak? Why did you do this?"
The men looked at each other with amusement.
"Do not worry... as long as you are not pregnant, we will not harm you."
"If you have any heart at all you'll kill me and bury us together..." She was glaring at them now, baring her teeth like an animal, ready to pounce.
"We can't kill you, miss, we need you alive as long as possible."
"I'll kill myself!" she snapped, "I won't eat, I won't sleep, and I'll bash my head against the floor until I'm blind."
"Listen bitch, just because we're walking around with these things doesn't mean we're uncivilized." he said, raising the chainsaw in his hand. "We're doctors... and there's nothing you can do to yourself that we can't fix... your quality of life has no measure of importance to us, just that you live. A pulse is all we care about, even if we have to maintain it by machine. That's how we ensure your cooperation. You don't eat, you live with broken arms. You don't sleep, you live with broken legs. You fight, we'll break your spine. You run, we'll skin you like an animal. As doctors, we know how to fix every bone we break, and we know how to break every bone we fix. It's up to you how good you feel, but it's not up to you whether you live or die. That's up to us."
"Oh yeah, you're real fucking civilized. Do you treat your mothers so well you fucking pigs?!"
They licked their chops like vultures, circling around her.
"Enough talk... time is of the essence"
The man smiled crudely as he dropped his long coat to the floor and began unbuckling his pants. The others around him removed their clothes, and they surrounded her from every side.
All she could do was glare at them, bearing her teeth like a cornered dog.