Rest In…

Jordan Drew and Elysabeth Williams decided to put their heads together for this last 13 Stories ‘Til Halloween post and write something together. Hope you enjoy! 🙂

This wasn’t right. Something had gone horribly wrong and he didn’t know how to rectify the situation. Was this truly all there was? When he’d signed on the dotted line, he hadn’t known he was promising mind, body, and soul. In it for the long haul was one thing… but this… this was nothing short of hell on earth.

His girlfriend stood in front of him, more well put together than she’d been the last time he’d seen her. Her lips were lined with blood red, contrasting nicely with her stark white teeth. A single tear fell down her cheek. He longed to reach out and wipe it away, but could not. He recalled the skin being torn from his fingertips. They’d touch nothing.

“I miss you so much already, Toby,” she said, stepping aside to make room for his brother.

Wait. Charlotte… I made a terrible mistake!

“You care if I play your video games?” he asked, not looking Toby in the eyes.

Are you bloody kidding me? You have the audacity to stand there, in front of me, like this, and ask me about freakin’ video games?!

His mother’s face slid between Charlotte and Henry. He felt instant relief. His mother was always available for some sort of comfort, be it a warm smile, or a loving hug. He braced himself for the love of a mother to her child. “I can’t believe you did this!” was what he heard instead. “It’s an affront to all that is holy. I reared you better than this, Tobias. I taught you better!”

Mama! Come on! Please don’t do this to me! I didn’t know! I swear to God if I’d known, I never would have…

“Millie,” his father’s silky smooth voice sounded out loud and clear. It was the voice of a storyteller – deep, Southern, soothing. His mother looked behind her as his father patted her shoulder. Henry and Charlotte both stepped back, away from Toby’s sight.

Dad! Tell her, man. Tell her to pray for me! Tell her not to give up on me!

“It’s what he wanted, Millie. You saw the paper he signed. It was his decision to donate his body to science. How were we supposed to know this was what he meant?” His dad threw his hand up toward him, as if his mom couldn’t see. She didn’t want to, it was obvious. She covered her face. Toby tried to look down but couldn’t stand to see himself – insides out. “You can’t stay angry with him forever. Forgive and forget, that’s what I say… even if he does look like he took one too many dips in the hot tub.”

“Dad!” Henry said, hiding his smile with his hand. It was still there in his eyes though, and Toby wished he could punch Henry one last time.

His father chuckled, tilting his head to look closer at Toby. He shrugged and turned away, placing a comforting arm around Toby’s mom. “Come on, Millie. It’s time to say goodbye. Every time he comes into town, you drag all of us out here, and I’m not sure it’s good for you to see him this way. It’s not exactly how he’d like to be remembered by us, I’m sure.

Don’t leave me here! Please! I made a mistake, Dad, and I need your help… or Mama’s prayers. Something! Anything, just please God don’t leave me here like this! I can’t stand eternity stuck in here.

Millie sighed, dabbing the corner of her eye with the monogrammed handkerchief she pulled from inside her shirtsleeve. “I know you’re right, George.” She leaned in; close enough that Toby could smell her floral perfume. “It’s just that he shouldn’t have done it. I told him not to. I told him this was a monstrosity, and look at him, sitting on a block like Rodin’s Thinker, paraded about like that for the world to see. It’s not natural, George, it’s just not.”

Mom… please. Help me!

He watched as his family – the people he loved more than anything in the world – walked away from him. He’d see them again, and again he’d try to get them to hear him, but of course they wouldn’t. They never did.

Souls were supposed to go to heaven or hell… not be stuck as an attraction in a mobile museum where people came to gawk and point at the subjects insides… or maybe they were. Maybe this was hell. Either way, he was pretty sure someone made a mistake, be it God, for forgetting all about him, or himself, for signing the piece of paper donating his body to the most disturbing exhibit he’d ever seen in his life.

“How can I not, Mom? This cancer is gonna kill me anyway, what difference does it make what happens to my body after I die?” he remembered telling his mother the day the sign-up paper came in. He proudly showed her the paper. “It’s not like I’m gonna be here anyway… right?”


Home Again

Dallas noted his mother’s ability to create their modest house into the most cheerful and warm home with ease as he walked up the leaf-covered driveway. The windows were alight with a soft glow from lanterns through gauzy off-white curtains. A stuffed nylon devil swung silently from the hook on the porch, its smile infectious in mirth. He grinned along as he scanned the yard. The wrecked witch stapled to the sweet gum tree made him chuckle, and a plastic skeleton abruptly shivered and “woooo’d” at him as he passed by. He had no doubt his mom was the quintessential southern woman – complete with perfect poise and grace, mixed in with a hellion’s sense of humor. She took much pride in celebrating every holiday with gusto, up to and including Halloween, even though the local fanatic church tended to frown on her antics. Such was life in a small southern town.

Dallas continued up the long winding drive toward the porch. The jack-o-lantern was already lit, since it was 5pm and dark would be coming soon. He glanced around once more, seeing a hand stuck out of the ground, its fingernails dirty from the dirt. A new addition, no doubt. A little morbid for his mom, but it didn’t concern him. She probably found it at the nearby Big Lots for a quarter or something. His mom loved a good bargain.

Approaching the wood screen door that was the only thing between him and the house he banged on the frame. “Mama, it’s me. Can I come in?”

“Yeah, come on, son,” the sweet soprano voice inside responded. “The pie is cooling off. You want some coffee?”

“Love some,” he said, opening up the door and walking through the foyer. Little, dusty, tissue ghosts hung from the ceiling, a Frankenstein face glared at him cross-eyed from the wall. He remembered all the décor from his childhood, packed in a special box that was unearthed the 29th of every September. They’d spend days putting these decorations up in the most perfect spots. He entered the kitchen where his mother stood, pouring coffee from the old percolator. Dallas kissed her on her perfectly curled and coifed hairdo and she scoffed.

“Just got my hair set yesterday. Don’t be messing it up. Betty would have a fit if I came in twice in one week.”

Betty was the ancient hairdresser down at the local salon, the Blue Hair Brigade. It was an apt name, since the age requirement seemed to be around 80. His mom was one of the youngest at the young age of 72 . They called her ‘youngin’ affectionately.

“How’s Miss Betty doing, anyway?” Dallas sat down at the sea-foam green Formica table. His mom handed him a chipped plate with a perfect slice of pumpkin pie atop it, and steaming cup of coffee that tickled his nose when he breathed it in.

“Oh you know. Ford’s been a brute since his hip replacement. Been givin’ her fits since he came home. Meaner’n a snake, mostly. Old bastard can’t shut his mouth to save his life and just leave people be.” Ford was Betty’s husband of several decades. He was a retired Marine, a World War II vet who still barked like a drill sergeant, wore his hair in a crew cut, and loved to bully the local kids – or anyone who dared cross his path. Generally harmless, he tended to get on people’s nerves with constant ‘back-in-my-day-‘s and his ability to Know All. He and Betty loved each other dearly, but Dallas knew they came from another time and place where divorce was unheard of and people married for better or worse, no matter how much worse was involved.

“I’m surprised that old coot is still alive,” Dallas said, sinking his fork into the warm pie and taking a bite. It was heaven baked in an aluminum tin.

“He’s been living on fear and spite, I believe,” she giggled and winked at him. Dallas nodded and laughed with her. “But something tells me he’ll get his come-uppings soon.” He smiled at that, but something hung in the air he wasn’t really sure of.

He listened as she prattled on about the local gossip; who’s been seeing whom, who died, who was born, what’s been torn down and rebuild as a new Piggly Wiggly. Dallas nodded at all the appropriate times as he listened and ate his pie. She talked about the upcoming holiday, now only 3 days away, and how she was prepped and ready for the local trick-or-treaters.

“That reminds me,” Dallas said, pointing his fork in her direction. “What’s up with the hand in the yard?”

“Oh he’s an old friend,” she said, taking his plate away. He stabbed the last bite of crust off before she walked away to put it in the sink.

“I don’t recall that one though. I guess you bought it while I was away?”

“Probably,” she dismissed and turned on the faucet and snapped on her yellow rubber gloves. Dallas knew she prided herself on lovely hands, and refused to succumb to the ever-dreaded dish-pan-hands – or the lure of a shiny new-fangled dishwasher.

Dallas considered dropping the subject while he watched his mom scrub the plate with vigor but something made him wonder.

“I’m going out for a smoke,” he said, pushing the metal framed chair across the linoleum away from the table.

“You really should give that mess up, Dal. Stuff will kill you,” she pointed her foamy brush at him as he kissed her on the head on the way by.

“I know it. I’ll quit next week,” he promised, pulling his pack of cigarettes from his pocket as he crossed the threshold again to the front porch.

He lit up and looked about the yard again. The stars were coming out already, even in the short time he’d been sitting in the kitchen with his mom. It didn’t take long once the sun set behind the trees.

Glancing around, he caught the sight of the hand again. It was upside down though, palm up. With a frown, Dallas tried to remember it earlier. Didn’t look the same – that was for sure. He took a drag off his cigarette and flicked it into the yard, more concerned with this decoration than a nicotine fix.

As he grew nearer, he saw the hand twitch and he cursed loudly.

“Watch your mouth, boy!” his mom called from inside, making him jump.

“Sorry mom!” he yelled, trying to catch his breath.

He took another step closer, and the hand flipped downward again, gripping handfuls of the ground.

Dallas jumped back, gasping for air. Either this was the most realistic decoration he’d ever seen, or something was truly amiss.

With one last step closer, he inspected the hand. Wrinkled and liver-spotted, it trembled. Upon even closer inspection, Dallas noticed the insignia ring, of a World War II veteran.

His mom approached from his left side with a knife in hand. “You want some more pie?”

Rules Are Made To Be…

“Aw, come on, Peyton.” His blue eyes begged for forgiveness. “You know my sister adores you. Honestly, she didn’t think you’d come. You know how you are.”

How I am? Her first instinct was to be angry. She huffed and folded her arms across her chest, turning slightly away from him. The longer she thought about his words, the more she realized he was right. It made no sense to be angry. Cam was right. Had she been invited to his sister’s party, she would have declined. Not because she wasn’t curious about the goings on at a real un-chaperoned party, but because she was one of those people who always followed the rules.

Peyton had a cousin who believed rules were merely guidelines. He never followed them and it showed in his parents’ tired faces and disappointed eyes. It never seemed to bother her cousin, but it killed Peyton to think her parents could ever look at her that way. She made a promise to herself she would never be on the receiving end of those disparaging looks. She wanted to be the one her father looked at with pride, and so far, she’d done pretty well.

Her parents weren’t difficult to please. Good grades, being home a couple of minutes before curfew, bringing dates home to meet the folks, and making it a point to never lie. It was easier than most would think, and even though there were those who looked at her like she was a goody-goody, she was pretty much given free rein to do as she pleased. Luckily, her interests didn’t wane far from coffee and the occasional rated R movie while snuggling with Cam in the well lit living room.

Problem was, she was tired of playing perfect. Teenagers across the world were known to make mistakes, why should she be all that different? If she went for a little while and came home before midnight, it couldn’t even be considered breaking a rule, anyway… more of a slight bend, really. Her parents would be out of town that weekend anyway so it wasn’t like she’d have to lie to their faces, which was something she couldn’t have done to save her life. Peyton took a deep breath and looked at Cam. “What if I want to go?”

Cam pursed his lips and lifted an eyebrow. “Your parents are going out of town this weekend and this party won’t be chaperoned. Not to mention there’s gonna be alcohol, and God knows what else. Let’s do something else. Something less likely to make your parents hate me,” he chuckled. “You’re… you, and that isn’t a bad thing. I love you the way you are, stickler for rules and everything.”

Peyton grunted, feeling guilty for even entertaining the thoughts inside her head.  “Maybe I’m tired of being the good kid. Maybe for once I’d like to know what it feels like to doing something… a little less than good. I won’t drink, I won’t smoke, and I’ll leave early too, but I really want to go.”

“Will you kiss me goodnight?”

Peyton grinned. “I may even kiss you good morning.”

Cam smirked as his eyes lit up. He draped an arm over her shoulder and walked her home.

She told her parents she would be out with a few friends, and of course, they had no issue with it because they trusted her. She promised to be in no later than 11:00, and they handed her $40.00 for food and “stuff” to last her the weekend. “Don’t forget to lock-up,” her dad said as he kissed her forehead and closed the door behind him. She grinned. She was all set to bend some rules.

When Cam picked her up the next evening, she felt pretty good. She had her cell phone, she had cash, she had her keys… but she couldn’t get over the thought that she was forgetting something. Something important. She double checked her purse, but nothing was jumping out at her. She shrugged the feeling off, determined to have a great night.

The party wasn’t as great as she hoped it would be. Every “A-lister” from school was there, but by 10:30, half of them were draped over each other, passed out and drooling on the couch. The other half were being loud and obnoxious discussing “how awesome beers are, dude”.

She was beginning to regret the addition of rebellion to her lifestyle. Cam had been right. This wasn’t her. She tugged on his sleeve and whispered in his ear that she was ready to go home. He smiled knowingly, and nodded.

The drive home was uncomfortable. Even though it was a lesson learned, she’d already bent more rules than she wanted explain to her parents. She also really wanted Cam to come inside. She wasn’t sure what to do and decided to allow him to make that move. He parked in the driveway and got out. A good sign that he was at least coming in for a bit. She smiled at him. “I’m not staying,” he said, grinning. “Breaking one rule is enough for tonight. I thought maybe we could watch a movie since it’s still early.”

“On the couch?”

“With the lights on,” he laughed.

Gotta love a guy who plays by the rules. She hopped out of the car, excited to have the best, most understanding boyfriend a girl could ask for. She ran inside her house, leaving the door open for him to follow. “I’m home!” she called out. There were two reasons for this. One, being it was habit. Second, she wanted to make sure her parents hadn’t come home early. Even if she had no plans to break or bend any more rules, she didn’t want to take the chance that her parents would catch her bringing Cam inside so late. The uneasy feeling from earlier that night returned. Something wasn’t right, she could feel it in the pit of her stomach.

She and Cam sat snuggled underneath a quilt listening to Jaime Kennedy explain how to survive a horror movie. She giggled. She loved Scream because of the rules. Rules were important, even in a gore-fest. She sank deeper into Cam’s arms. A shadow passed behind the television and her heart skipped a beat. She sat up, muting the television, trying to convince herself the shadow was just her mind freaking her out. She and Cam looked at each other when the stairs creaked, and then she realized the reason behind the sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach. Something she should have remembered, even if her father hadn’t reminded her before he left. Rule number one when you leave the house.

Don’t forget to lock the door.

Road Trip

My take on a classic story. Hope you enjoy. 🙂

Jack sighed. This trip was not turning out as great as his best friend promised. They were halfway to their destination, and completely lost. Rain pounded the windshield, his lights were dirty and his wipers were crap. They should have stopped at AutoZone before driving their cars across the country in a last ditch effort to have some fun before college classes began.

“Does that hoopty go any faster than 25 miles an hour, Jackson?” Hal’s voice came through the speakers of his car.

Jackson looked in his rearview mirror at Hal’s silver car and laughed. “Not when it’s raining cows outside.” Hooking up their cell phones to their car stereos, powered through the cigarette lighters was Hal’s idea. All of it had been, really. He’d routed their trip, making plans and hotel reservations across the country, allowing a whole week to get from California to Kentucky with a three day buffer in case of car trouble, or some other unforeseeable problem… like this freaking monsoon. It wasn’t trekking across Europe, but after seeing that horror movie about a youth hostel, he was actually okay with that.

The rain had already put them an hour and a half behind the day’s schedule, mostly due to the “should’ve done that” trip to AutoZone Jackson lamented not making. He and Hal decided that it might be best to keep the phones on until the storm blew over. Jackson suggested going ahead and stopping for the night, but Hal didn’t want to lose the deposit on the hotel room, so they kept on.

“Hey dude, what’s up the road there on the right?” Hal asked.

Jackson leaned closer to his windshield, slowing down just a bit, and squinting his eyes. “Is that a person?” Jackson wondered out loud. He felt bad for whoever deemed it necessary to walk around in this mess. He slowed down even more as he drove closer.

“What are you doing, man? You can’t stop to pick up a hitchhiker!”

“I’m just going to stop and see if they need some help.”

Jackson ignored Hal’s protests as he pulled up next to the mound of walking clothes and rolled down his passenger side window. “Hey, do you need a ride?” he called out. A wrinkled face appeared from underneath a cloak. The lady smiled at him and nodded. He pushed open the door to let her inside just as Hal pulled out from behind him and rushed down the road.

“Didn’t your folks tell you to assume all hitchhikers are serial killers?” Hal grunted.

The woman looked at the cell phone hanging from the visor. “Your friend seems upset,” she said as she fastened her seatbelt. Jackson laughed. “He’s always in a bit of a hurry. I’ve got time to get you where you need to go, though.””

“It isn’t far, and I can’t thank you enough,” she squeaked. “My husband needed his medicine, and my car broke down. I can’t pay you money, but I have tea ready. I’d be honored if you could join me… as payment for the ride.”

“Tea is a bad idea, Jackson,” Hal said. “You need to tell her to get out of the car and come on. We’re late.”

The lady snorted. “Tea is never a bad idea, child.” She turned towards Jackson. “Please say you’ll join me.”

Jackson offered a small smile to the lady and agreed. Hal gunned the gas and pulled around Jackson, who gave the woman an apologetic smile as Hal’s taillights disappeared into the darkening horizon. Hal didn’t even try to be polite after that. He spent the next five minutes complaining and ranting at Jackson over picking up the “old biddy”. Jackson could feel his cheeks warm with embarrassment and told Hal goodbye as he hung up the phone. He ignored Hal’s callback and listened as the woman named Pearl Mallory told him about how much Jackson reminded her of her husband, interspersed with directions on how to get to her home. Hal called a total of 23 times before Jackson finally pulled into Pearl’s driveway. He left the phone in the car as he helped her out and they walked up the steep stairs to her home.

Once inside, she led him to an old fashioned embroidered couch, and pointed at the tea set sitting on the squat, cherry wood table. “You just make yourself at home, son. Pour yourself a cup, I promise it’s exactly what you need.” She offered Jackson another toothy smile and disappeared into a hallway. Jackson looked around the dusty old room filled with pictures and memories of family and friends. He poured himself a glass of tea and sipped, relishing in the warmth of it as it slipped down his throat. He hadn’t realized how tired he was until then. The stress of driving in the rain and the embarrassment of how Hal treated to little old lady melted away as the tea began to settle him. He closed his eyes for only a moment and awoke with a start as the sun shone on his face.

He sat up looking around, confused. “Pearl?” He called out, but nobody answered. He yelled his appreciation, hoping Pearl heard him as he ran out the door. The sun was high in the sky and he knew Hal was going to be pissed. Pulling out of the driveway, he took one last look at the house. The night before, in the pouring rain, it seemed much more a safe-haven than the dilapidated shell it looked in daylight.

He dialed Hal’s phone, but Hal wasn’t answering. Jackson tried to make up for lost time by driving twenty miles over the speed limit. Just outside the tiny town, police cars blocked the road. He stopped his car, hoping one of the officers standing around would be able to give him an alternate route. An officer nodded at him, pointing at Jackson’s car. “You can’t go this way, son,” he said.

Jackson smiled at him. A tow truck struggled against the weight of a car on the slippery mud that used to be the road. “This is the way my GPS says I need to go. I got sidetracked helping someone get home last night or I would have made it before the road washed out, I guess. Is there another way around?” he asked.

“You’ll have to drive out and get on the main highway to bypass. It’s about an hour out of the way, but it’ll get you where you need to go.”

Jackson nodded and started to turn around to head back to his car, when the tow truck finally succeeded in pulling the mud encrusted car onto what was left of the road. Jackson’s heart skipped a beat, recognizing the car as Hal’s. He started running towards the car, but the officer grabbed his arm. “No, you don’t understand. That car belongs to my friend!” He struggled against the officer, but wasn’t able to get out from his grasp. “I stopped to pick up an old lady and get her home and out of the rain. My friend…he was going ahead to the hotel! That’s his car!”

“Pearl?” The police officer questioned. Jackson kept fighting to get to Hal’s car, but the officer got in his face and shook him. “Your friend is in the hospital. He’s banged up pretty bad, but he’ll live. Now I need to know – the lady you picked up – did she give you her name? Was it Pearl Mallory?”

Jackson nodded, slapping tears from his face. How was he supposed to call Hal’s mother and explain that not only was her kid in a wreck, but that he’d abandoned him to give a stranger a ride?

The policeman nodded. “Pearl’s husband died out here about twelve years ago when the road washed out. Pearl begged him not to go. She hated the rainy season. Believed it wasn’t safe. Now every time it rains, we get a report of somebody picking her up and taking her home. She always pays them with a cup of Earl Grey tea.”

“So?” Jackson asked, not understand what any of this had to do with Hal or his car.

The policeman smiled and patted Jackson on his back. ‘Pearl Mallory died ten years ago.”