Read Endless Night Online

Authors: Richard Laymon

Tags: #Horror, #Fiction, #Short Stories & Fiction Anthologies

Endless Night (4 page)

BOOK: Endless Night
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“Run!” Andy yelled.

Jody ran. The first stride rushed her past the far edge of light.

Behind her, Andy yelled.

She glanced over her shoulder in time to see him throw the machete. The moment it left his hand, he lunged sideways and raced after her.

Jody made it to the stairs and charged down them, sliding her right hand down the banister rail, holding the Louisville Slugger with her left, the bat bumping her shoulder as she bounded toward the bottom.

“They’re after us,” Andy gasped.

Jody swerved to the left. Her shoulder skidded against the wall. “Go by! Get in front! Get the door!”

She slowed her descent. Andy was at her side for a second or two. Then he was ahead of her. She crossed over to the railing just in time to bump her hand on the newel post at the bottom.

Staggering, she whirled around.

Somebody
was halfway down the stairs. A quick black shadow.

More than one? She couldn’t tell.

“Get the door!” she yelled.

“I’m trying.” She heard a rattle of chain. “Almost ...”

“Leave us
alone!”
Jody shrieked as the shape leaped at her from the stairway. It flew, airborne, arms stretching out for her. She thought she glimpsed a hatchet in its right hand. She swung.

Her bat smacked flesh.

The attacker grunted.

The blow knocked him crooked. Instead of coming down on Jody and slamming her to the floor, he hit the floor alone.

The front door swung open, letting in enough light from the porch to show the man sprawled on the floor. One quick step, and Jody was standing over him. She raised her bat high.

And heard footfalls thundering on the stairs.

“Jody!”

She gave up every thought of finishing him off.

She lunged for the doorway. Andy waited. Her foot no sooner touched the welcome mat than the door crashed shut.

Side by side, they dashed across the porch. They didn’t bother with the steps; they simply leaped and hit the walkway running. Jody shifted the bat to her right hand and grabbed its middle and pumped her arm just as if she weren’t clutching it. Almost.

“Where to?” she gasped.

“I don’t know!”

For now, it seemed almost good enough to run for the street.

The street in front of the house looked crowded. With parked cars. Five or six of them, all different from each other. And a dark van.

They just drove up and parked right in front of the house! Like a caravan, or something! Jesus!

What if they left someone behind to keep watch?

Jody quit worrying about that when she heard the house door swing open. She glanced over her shoulder. Men rushed out. She moaned and faced forward and tried to run faster.

“Head for a house!” she gasped at Andy.

Andy, at the sidewalk, cut hard to the left. Jody followed.

He’s little, she thought, but he’s sure fast.

At least we’re outside.

If only a car would come along!

The bat weighted her down. It interfered with her arms. Without it, she could duck into the wind and pump for all she was worth and pick up some major speed. But she didn’t dare get rid of it.

She remembered her first home run. She’d been so excited seeing the ball sail white and clean over the distant fence that she’d forgotten to drop the bat. She’d rounded the bases just like this, clutching it like a nutcase.

It had darn near killed Dad laughing.

But he’d been awfully proud, too.

Jesus, am I ever going to see him again?

She looked over her shoulder. The men were cutting across the grass.

This time, she really looked.

She wanted to see them well and know what she was up against.

Three of them.

The fat guy with the spear wasn’t among them. Must’ve stayed behind in the house. Others must’ve stayed, too.

Three had come out to tie up the loose ends.

To kill us.

The guy in the lead was fast. He had nothing in his hands, but there was a belt or something around his waist, so he probably had a sheath knife. The guy behind him carried a sword—a saber that he waved overhead, flashing moonlight. The third was having trouble keeping up. Maybe because the ax he carried was too heavy and awkward. Maybe because he was huge.

Jody couldn’t tell what they were wearing. Skin, she supposed. Their own and other people’s, like the man she’d killed. Skin, and lots of blood. Blood from Evelyn and Mr. and Mrs. Clark. Blood that looked black in the night.

What are these guys
?

They seemed too awful to be real.

She wished they would at least yell. People always yell when they chase someone, don’t they?

What’s the matter with them, afraid they’ll wake up the neighbors?

At the end of the line of parked cars, Andy leaped from the curb and ran into the street.

Jody leaped. She glanced at the rear of the last car. Always get the license plate, Dad had told her many times. If anything ever happens involving a motor vehicle, make sure you get the license plate. “But that’d be stealing,” she had supposedly responded one time when she was about four years old.

“You don’t take it, you get the number. Remember it, write it down.”

She wanted to get the number now.

The license plate was easy to see in the pale glow of the streetlight. It looked black and shiny. Paint? Tape?

She didn’t pause to investigate, but veered away from the rear of the car and stayed on Andy’s tail. He was dashing at an angle toward the other side of the street, seemed to be heading for a massive, two-story brick house.

Its shrubbery was bright with spotlights. The walkway to its front door was bordered by footlights. The porch light was on. The area of pavement in front of the three-car garage looked like a tennis court illuminated for night games.

Lights everywhere except in the windows of the house.

All of them looked dark.

Who’s gonna be up at this
hour?

She wondered why Andy had picked this house. The one next door to his own place had to be closer. Maybe he knows these people, or ...

She took a quick look back.

And glimpsed a For Sale sign on the lawn of the house beside the Clark home.

So maybe this was the nearest house with people in it.

It’ll do a lot of good, she thought, if they’re asleep.

Twisting farther around, she saw the leader of the bunch leap off the curb. The other two seemed to have fallen behind him a little, but not much.

Are they gaining on us? she wondered.

Doesn’t matter. They’re too close.

“Help!” she shouted as she ran. “Help! Police!”

Andy took up the cry.

Jody started shouting, “Fire!”

Andy called out “Dr. Youngman!” as he left the street in his wake and sprinted up the lawn. “Dr. Youngman! Help! Please! Dr. Youngman!”

Jody joined in.

The grass was cool and very wet. Dr. Youngman must’ve watered his lawn tonight.

“Dr. Youngman!” Andy yelled. “It’s Andy! Andy Clark! Help! Open up! Help!”

Jody scanned the house front, watching for a window to fill with light.

All the windows stayed dark.

A hot night. If the windows were shut and the air conditioner running, nobody inside the house was likely to hear their shouts.

But maybe Dr. Youngman had heard them. Maybe he just wasn’t turning on any lights. Maybe right now he was heading for his front door. Maybe he would swing it open wide just in the nick of time and say, “Hurry inside, kids. Quick!”

Oh God, if only.

“Forget it!” Jody gasped. “They’ll kill us on the porch!”

Andy didn’t hesitate. Maybe he’d already reached the same conclusion. “Porch” was coming out of Jody’s mouth when Andy broke to the left.

Jody made her turn away from the porch as fast as she could, and yelped as her feet skated out from under her.

She seemed to take a long time going down.

An endless sideways glide, her body sinking closer and closer to the ground, finally touching down with her left hip, then a smooth slide over the soft wet grass.

Sliding in
.

Stealing second.

Jesus! They’re gonna get me now!

Chapter Four

The slide through the grass shoved Jody’s nightshirt halfway up her back.

She sat up fast.

The guy came in grinning. He dropped and skidded on his knees. He didn’t smell like the others, didn’t stink of rot.

“Gotcha now, babe,” he whispered. Grabbing the short hair on the back of her head, he jerked her backward. His face came down at her. “You’re a real beaut.”

She pounded the top of his head with the Louisville Slugger.

An upward swing from the ground, one-armed and without much power behind it.

She didn’t wait to see its effect, but rolled hard to the left. She felt a tug at her hair. Then she was free, scuttling over the grass on knuckles and knees, hanging on to the bat.

The guy with the saber was running straight at her.

He was only a few strides away when Jody burst to her feet and took off. He twisted and slashed. The saber made a quick whewww as it whipped past her back.

Then he gasped.

Jody glanced around in time to see him slip and tangle his legs and land on his rump. The guy who’d caught her on the ground was on one knee, ready to stand. One hand was clamped to the top of his hairless head, the other pulling a knife from the sheath at his hip.

The man with the ax had done a lot of catching up.

Can’t forget about him, Jody warned herself.

He was tall and broad and muscular. And he had that ax.

He looked unstoppable.

He’ll just keep coming, no matter what.

But he sure wasn’t fast. He was still in the middle of the lawn, jogging toward her, when Jody dashed onto the warm, dry pavement of the driveway.

Andy waited for her, bouncing, shaking his arms and legs like a relay runner anxious for the pass of the baton. The instant Jody reached his side, he pivoted and ran.

Side by side, they sprinted across the driveway.

They ran for the hedge. It stretched the length of the driveway, a wall of green squared off at the top. Higher than Jody’s head.

“Under,” Andy gasped.

A cinch we can’t go through—or over.

Jody saw what he meant. Though the bushes appeared to be a solid mass, there were open spaces near the ground, gaps between the trunks.

She took a glimpse back. The guy who’d caught her after the slide had again taken the lead. He was almost to the edge of the driveway.

She and Andy dropped to their knees.

She thrust her bat through the gap, flung herself flat and squirmed into the bushes. Squirmed in fast and frantic. Ready to feel a hand grab her ankle and drag her out.

Or maybe the guy with the ax would chop ...

It’s taking forever!

The bushes and the ground itself seemed to be alive, clutching at her, clawing her, pushing her back.

And then she scampered free.

Andy was beside her, pushing himself up. He was whimpering and gasping.

“It’ll be all right,” Jody whispered. On elbows and knees, she turned herself around and peeked under the bushes.

She searched for feet and legs.

She saw only the driveway and the lawn beyond it. Pulling back, she snatched up the bat and got to her feet. “Let’s go.”

“Where are they?”

“I don’t know.”

She guessed that the men must be on their way to the far end of the hedge. It would take them a while to get there. Ten or fifteen seconds, maybe.

If only we could disappear!

Crawl back through to the other side? Right. It wouldn’t take a genius to leave the ax man behind, just in case.

Andy suddenly clutched her short sleeve and tugged at it. “I know! You go back and try and get Dr. Youngman to open up. I’ll lead those guys on a wild-goose chase.”

“That’s nuts!” Jody blurted.

“It’ll work! I’ll circle around and meet you.”

“No. We’ll...”

“Go back through.” He tugged her sleeve, stretching the neck of her nightshirt down off her shoulder.

“Hey.”

He kept pulling. “Get down. Go back through.”

No time to argue. She sank to her knees.

“See ya.” Andy whirled and sprinted off across the lawn.

The stupid jerk! she thought. He’s acting like it’s a cowboy movie!

She started to get up, intending to go after him.

He was already halfway to the next driveway.

She was on one knee, ready to stand, when the first of the pursuers raced past the end of the hedge. He slowed. He turned his body. Jody froze, knowing he was about to face her. But he spotted Andy first and lurched into a run.

Jody dropped flat on the grass just as the man with the saber appeared on the sidewalk and joined the chase. A moment later, he was followed by the ax man.

They all cut across the grass, going after Andy.

Just the way he’d figured.

They think I’m with him. Probably think I’m up ahead somewhere.

“Go, Andy, go,” she whispered.

Then she turned herself around and squirmed back through the gap at the bottom of the hedge. At the other side, she sprang to her feet. She switched the bat to her left hand as she sprinted across the driveway. She wondered if anyone could hear the slap of her bare feet. They sounded even louder on the painted concrete of the walkway curving from the edge of the driveway to the porch. She leaped the porch stairs. She flung herself against the front door and crashed her fist against it.

She pounded on the door with all her might, eight times, nine, ten. Then thought,
My God, what if they hear me knocking?

So she quit and slid herself across the cool wood and jabbed the doorbell button again and again and again. Each time she poked it, she heard a faint chime from inside the house.

“Come on, come on, come on,” she whispered.

Continuing to jab the button, she twisted her head away from the door and peered over her shoulder. She saw no one. Just the broad lawn, the driveway and hedge, the empty street. Empty except for the vehicles in front of the Clark house. Five cars, one van.

BOOK: Endless Night
9.06Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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