Welcome back to Wednesday Fiction. I’ll keep the intro to this part nice and brief, as I’m not feeling the best today. In short: some of what goes on here is not entirely fictional. At least, on an emotional level. I may well have dated a woman like Bill once upon a time, and been in Ally’s position at the beginning of this part.
That’s it…hope you enjoy.
Oh, and click here to read Part 1.
Once the door had closed behind Todd, Ally turned her attention away from the board and toward Bill. Without Todd around, she felt free to allow her simmering anger at Bill to boil over. It would have its way with the bastard, as it always did.
“You know, you could have told him about the cabin.”
Bill smirked, but he kept his eyes glued on the Scrabble tiles. “Yes, I could have, but what would be the fun in that, pray tell? Why not let him imagine the worst?”
“You’re such a prick.”
Jen raised an eyebrow. “The worst?” She looked from Ally to Bill. “What are you hiding this time?”
Ally sighed and shook her head. “You didn’t tell her, did you?” Of course he hadn’t. No matter how hard Ally tried, she would probably never understand this asshole. It seemed that nothing – and no one – existed to him outside of his own desires. She said a silent prayer that she had gotten away from him and found Todd.
Bill shrugged and spread his hands, giving her the sheepish grin that had drawn her into his miserable world in the first place. “I didn’t see the point.”
Ally recognized this routine. One of Bill’s few joys in life seemed to be pulling women into his orbit only to shoot them down. The process ensured that no one could ever get inside his thick emotional armor, and it gave him untold power over the right kind of woman’s heart.
Jen frowned, looking downright annoyed. He had scored another hit. “What the hell does that mean?”
A sliver of human decency deep inside Ally wanted to warn Jen. Maybe she could spare the woman from the fruitless hope that Bill would ever change. That sliver never got very far, though, as another part of her whispered in her ear, why should she get out of it when you had to suffer?
Bill ran a hand through his hair and exhaled. “Yes, of course. You’re correct. I probably should have told you, I just didn’t see why you would care…”
“Of course I care. It involves your life? I care. Now tell me.”
Bill leaned forward, steepling his fingers beneath his nose. Ally recognized this as the beginning of his Lecture pose. “You are familiar with the history of bootlegging in the Poconos?”
Jen narrowed her eyes. “Let’s pretend that I’m not, just for funsies.”
He waved a hand. “It’s a complicated story. Lots of ins and outs. Lawrence Louis Squeri wrote a fascinating book about the whole thing, you should read it.”
Ally gave an exasperated sigh. “Oh, God, spare us the lecture.”
Bill looked at her with fiery eyes, but nodded. “Very well. Populist version, bootlegging existed. It was popular in the Poconos. So was the KKK. The Klan didn’t care for alcohol, or for the Jewish element creeping into the area. This cabin just so happened to be at the center of both. I believe even you can use your imagination to fill in the blanks.” He stared at Ally as he spoke the last sentence.
Ally ignored the barb; she had heard so much worse from his mouth. “Murder. You mean murder.”
Bill chuckled. “They sure as hell didn’t have tea parties.”
“You never told me that.” This surprised her, though it shouldn’t have; every time she thought that she had found the bottom of his lies, something new arose. She hated the feeling of hurt that swept over her. How many times had he brought her here, and still hidden away this part of Bill World? Todd was right. She had to be crazy to stay around this man.
The bastard winked at her. “A man must have his secrets, after all.”
“You didn’t tell me either,” Jen said, her voice flat. Ally recognized the tone. The woman must have carefully cultivated it as a way to hide her hurt from Bill. Ally knew this because she herself had used a similar tone during the summer of 2008, right up until she stumbled upon Bill and a female colleague fucking in what they thought would be an empty classroom.
That one still hurt.
Bill gave that infuriating shrug again. “I would. I just…well, it didn’t seem important.”
Ally slapped the table. “Give us specifics, you dickhead. You know what happened.”
He pushed a stray Scrabble tile, his eyes distant. “I don’t know what there is to really tell. It’s the same old story. Crime, racism, murder.” He brightened up, his eyebrows waggling. “My grandfather did tell me that there may have been a gunfight in the cabin, though I’ve never found any evidence of it. I do know that they buried the bodies in the front yard, and never told anyone outside the family.”
Ally stood up. “Are you kidding me?”
He looked up at her, his eyes wide. “What? It’s history. Interesting, but…”
Ally put a hand to her mouth, looking to Jen. She couldn’t be okay with this, could she? “‘What’? You’ve been bringing me…us…to Murder Cabin for years and haven’t told anyone?”
He adjusted himself, squaring his toad-like body toward her. “I told you, it’s a family secret. Besides, I don’t see the big deal. They’re long gone. You don’t believe in ghosts, do you?”
And oh my, yes, did she know the tone of voice that he had employed. It was that of the dedicated “deal with it” atheist. Not only would the deaths make little difference to him, the very act of suggesting that they might somehow taint the ground would be the superstitious drivel of a lesser mind. She could hear the words in her head already, and she had no interest in another verbal dueling match with him. She sighed. “Well…no. I guess not, but I mean…there are dead bodies out there. You didn’t think to tell any of us?”
He rolled his eyes. “They’re long gone by now. Probably just dust.”
Her skin crawled. “But dead bodies, Bill.” She hoped that the words would penetrate his thick skull.
No such luck, of course. “And? They don’t represent a health hazard, if that’s your concern.”
She fell back into her chair, looking to Jen again. “Are you okay with this?”
Jen’s mouth was tight as she said, “Would it matter?”
Unbelievable. She crossed her arms over her chest. “Well, I don’t care what either of you think. I don’t want to be sleeping in Murder Cabin.”
Bill returned his concentration to the Scrabble board. “Pray tell, how do you plan to get down off the mountain tonight? Sun’s setting. That descent is not going to be fun.”
She stood up again. “More fun than staying here.”
He scowled. “Maybe lover boy can save you from the ghosts. Does he have a proton pack?” He snickered, no doubt impressed with his own wit.
Ally couldn’t bottle her frustration any longer. She reached out and flicked his ear.
He howled and drew back, his eyes wide in a wounded look. “Why did you do that?”
“Because you’re an emotional five-year-old.” She glanced at Jen and saw a brief, but very real, smile cross her face. Maybe there was hope for the poor woman after all.
Ever the one for dramatic exits, Ally turned on her heel and headed for the door. She knew that Todd would be more than happy to get her out of here; he had been very clear on his feelings about the place and Bill. He had been right, after all. Maybe she needed to listen to him more.
“Don’t come crawling back to me again,” Bill said, his voice cracking.
She snorted. “As if.” She pushed the cabin door open in a huff, sure to slam it shut behind her.
Two steps out of the cabin and she knew that something had gone very wrong out there.
Her first indication of Wrong would be the red, snowy trickle that stopped just short of her snow boots. She pushed the snow around with the toe of one silver snow boot, watching the crimson liquid stained the shiny material.
Blood, that’s blood.
As she thought it, she realized that she also smelled iron; this odor overwhelmed the strong pine scent that had ruled the clearing just a few minutes before. Her brain buzzing, she followed the trail of blood with her eyes, watching as if from a great distance.
The stream widened as it wound on, ending in a pool of what looked like dark red snow cone material. Her head went numb when she saw the blood pool’s source: Todd’s headless body, its neck staining the snow with diminishing – but still powerful – squirts.
She knew the corpse to be fresh, and a moment later she registered the lumbering form that lurked just behind Todd’s dead body: his snowman. This had to be the strangest sight of all, as the thing moved, cocking its head as her eyes traveled the distance to its face. It had slung an axe over one shoulder and rested one pristine white foot on Todd’s loose head. A blind, angry intelligence shone in the thing’s white eyes, and she heard the snow crumpling as it narrowed its eyes.
She screamed, but the emotion behind the utterance didn’t reach her heart. She had already frozen up inside, her mind calculating the angles necessary to survive this attack. She turned on one heel. If she could just reach the door quickly enough, she could duck back into the cabin. The snowman couldn’t get in there, right?
It didn’t matter. She managed only one step before a gust of cold air rose around her, blowing snow into her face. Its force made her give up the small bit of gained ground; she took a staggering step backward, covering her eyes.
Run, you have to run, she thought. The breeze died, and she uncovered her eyes, ready to bolt for the door. She tasted the metallic pang of fear in the back of her throat when she discovered the snowman standing before her, blocking her way, leering at her with that maniacal grin.
Instinct screamed at her to run, and so she did, heading in the opposite direction. She leapt over Todd’s body, blowing past his decapitated head as she made her way toward the steadily darkening forest.
The cabin door must have opened behind her. Warm light shone on the darkened snow, and she heard a rush of horrified voices. She couldn’t make sense of what they might be saying. The wind had picked up again, blowing the snow around her, blinding her.
This time she wouldn’t allow it stop her. . She kept moving, eyes closed tight.
She let out another scream when she slammed into the snowman’s body, falling on her ass. She opened her eyes and found the beast looming over her, watching her every move with an alien fascination.
I can’t escape, she thought, and her vision began to dim.
The snowman picked up the axe in a slow, terrible, silent arc, its body slumping and crunching with the effort.
Somewhere behind her, Jen screamed, and Ally became aware that . Todd’s blood soaked the seat of her pants, somewhere in another world, a world where this wasn’t happening.
The snowman lifted the axe in a single motion, swinging it from the ground toward Ally, aiming the rusted, bloody edge headed right at the middle of her face.
Daddy, she thought.
She closed her eyes and waited for oblivion.
Click here to read Part 3!