Authors: Richard Laymon
Maybe I should wake him up, she thought. He said he’d go over with me.
Working her way slowly backward, she stopped when his penis was just below her face.
I could wake him up in a way he wouldn’t mind at all, she thought.
Just let him sleep. I can take care of this myself.
She kept backing up until her knees found the end of the bed. Then she climbed off.
Only stubs were left of the candles on the dresser and on the nightstands to either side of the bed. Gillian tiptoed from candle to candle, and puffed out each flame.
She entered the lighted hallway and followed it to the kitchen. A clock on the kitchen wall showed 2:38.
Lord, Gillian thought. How did it get so late?
She slid open the back door. The pool still shimmered pale blue in the darkness.
How did it get so late, indeed?
We must’ve been in the pool more than an hour after the Tarzan Jane business.
Gillian walked to the far side of the pool. Squatting there, she picked up her bra and panties, Jerry’s briefs. They were still wet.
She remembered how the garments had hit the concrete deck with sodden splats when they were tossed from the pool. And the feel of Jerry when she first embraced him naked in the water. And the sudden urgency, and how he had entered her and she had wrapped her legs around him and he had walked her to a corner of the shallow end and she had stretched out her arms and hung onto the edges of the pool until it ended fast with a quaking inside that made her cry out.
The memory of it left her a little breathless, a little aroused.
She stood up with the undergarments in her hands. Wringing them out, she walked to the pool comer where he had taken her, where he had held her for so long afterward and where she had finally said, “Now what’ll we do for fun?”Jerry suggested playing Marco Polo, a water version of hide-and-seek.
So they had played that game for a while, taking turns as the blind searcher, as the quarry. The hiding reminded Gillian of how it had been when she was a kid, but this time she looked forward to being found. The kisses. The touching. Which grew more intense as the game progressed until finally they climbed from the pool, rubbed each other with towels as they shivered in night air that had seemed terribly cold, and went inside to the bedroom.
The air now seemed warm. It’s because you’re not soaking wet, Gillian thought.
She went to the table. She draped the undergarments on the back of Jerry’s chair.
Her bandage was still on top of her piled clothes. She had nearly forgotten about the scrapes. The worst of the two had caused her a few pains during the night when Jerry touched it by accident or when it rubbed too hard against the sheet, but those had been only minor irritations, whispers in the noisy crowd of competing sensations.
She fingered the bad scrape. It felt dry, a little stiff, as if all that time in the water had leached out the wound’s moisture. So she left the bandage off. She stepped into her white shorts, fastened them at her waist, and put her blouse on. Buttoning it with one hand, she took the bandage into the kitchen and tossed it in the waste container.
She went to the bedroom. In the faint light from the hallway, she could see Jerry stretched out on the bed. He looked as if he hadn’t moved a muscle.
I could just leave the suitcase, she thought. We could go over in the morning. Jerry had said he would take a floating holiday—no pun intended.
I don’t want it hanging over my head, she decided. We’ll have better things to do when we wake up.
She walked back down the hall, moved carefully through the dark living room, and opened Jerry’s front door. She unlocked it so she could get back inside. Then she stepped out and quickly pulled it shut.
The grass was dewy under her bare feet as she crossed the lawn. She stayed close to the front of Jerry’s house. Fredrick’s driveway was empty.
What did you expect? Gillian asked herself. Did you think he’d come home while you were at Jerry’s?
It was a possibility. She knew that she would’ve heard his car pull into the driveway if he’d returned while she was in the pool. But Jerry’s bedroom was on the other side of the house. From there, she couldn’t have heard it. And she’d hardly been listening for it. And she’d been asleep part of the time.
But the car wasn’t there.
Fredrick Holden was still on his trip—maybe on one of his killing sprees.
Which will come to a quick stop, Gillian thought, once I’ve sent his scrapbook and a little anonymous note to the police.
She stepped onto his driveway. Its pavement felt warmer than the grass.
She glanced quickly up and down the block. Most of the houses were dark except for a few porch lights. She saw no one, and no cars moved on the street.
She came to the walkway that led to the front door. Its painted surface would be slick under wet bare feet, so she moved carefully even though the dew on her feet had mostly been blotted off while she crossed the driveway.
That would be just the thing, she thought. Take a slide and bust your keester.
No more than one crash and burn per day, please.
She climbed the stairs to the stoop.
She realized that she was gritting her teeth and trembling. The night was warm and she wasn’t even wet. So knock off the shakes, she told herself. What are you, scared or something? What’s to be scared of? Oh, nothing much.
She gripped the door handle. Her thumb depressed the leaf-shaped metal tab and she heard the latch draw back. But she didn’t open the door.
She licked her lips.
Do it, she told herself. Get your damned suitcase and get the hell out of here. Grab it, you’ll be back in Jerry’s house in about fifteen seconds, maybe eight if you put on the old spring.
She took a deep breath.
Maybe I should wait for Jerry, she thought.
Damn it, the suitcase is right at the door. All I have to do is reach in. Maybe one step into the house, that’s all. Then I’m home free.
She swung open the door.
The house was dark. It was supposed to be. Fredrick’s timer was set to shut off the lamp at eleven.
Her suitcase was a dim shape on the floor, just far enough inside so the opening door wouldn’t knock against it.
Exactly where she’d left it.
Glad I didn’t wake Jerry up for this.
She stepped over the threshold, took one more step, bent forward and reached for the suitcase handle.
A pale hand shot past the edge of the door, snatched Gillian’s wrist, and swung her stumbling forward into the dark. The suitcase tripped her. She knocked it over and fell across it.
The hand on her wrist was gone.
The front door thudded shut.
She scurried forward, knees on the suitcase, then on the carpet. She started to push herself up, but someone landed on her back, smashing her down flat. Her breath blasted out. She turned her head in time to prevent the front of her face from pounding the floor, and pain flashed through her cheek-bone and jaw. Then something—a fist?—struck the other side of her face.
She wondered vaguely what was happening. Somebody’s been waiting behind the door?
She couldn’t think of the name. The owner. Not him. Not him! A burglar? She’d left the door unlocked.
Another punch smashed the side of her face.
The weight left her body. Fingers dug into her armpits and she was lifted. Her knees rested on the floor for a moment. Then she was hoisted higher, jerked backward against a body, swung around and pulled, heels dragging along the carpet. Out of the living room. Into the hall. Through a doorway.
The hands thrust her away and let go. She flapped her arms, grabbing at the darkness for a moment before she hit the floor flat on her back. A dim figure leaped past her sprawled body.
She squinted when light stabbed her eyes.
Through a tingling in her ears, she heard a man’s voice. “Oh, you’re a beauty, a real first-rate beauty.”
She raised her head. A man was standing near her feet, smiling down at her. He looked younger than thirty. He looked clean-cut with his short brown hair, white knit shirt and blue slacks. There was glee in his smile and eyes.
It’s him, Gillian thought. Oh Jesus.
“I’m glad you dropped in,” he said. “I’ve been waiting for you. Knew you’d be back.”
He unbuckled his belt and slid it out of the loops of his slacks. He doubled it.
“Does anybody know you’re here?”
Gillian shook her head. She raised her knees.
“No,” she gasped. “Nobody knows.”
“Where were you tonight?”
“Not what I wanted to hear,” he said, and rushed forward, swinging the belt.
Gillian flung up her arms. The belt snapped against her, lashed her arms and belly and legs as the man danced around her, bending and whipping. She rolled over and covered her head. The belt smacked her back and buttocks. She shivered with the stinging pain. She heard herself whimpering, making sharp sucking sounds each time the belt hit her.
He’s not going to stop, she thought. He’s ... enjoying himself.
When he pranced past her head, she reached out and grabbed his ankles. She tugged, but he stayed up and lashed her harder than before, the belt whistling and slapping her sides and rump. Lurching forward, she tried to bite his ankle. He tore himself free and leaped backward in time to avoid her teeth.
“Ooee! A fighter! I’m gonna have fun with you.”
Dropping to his knees in front of Gillian, he grabbed her hair. She yelped and felt as if her scalp were being ripped as she was jerked up.
They were both on their knees, facing each other.
His fists were tight against the sides of her head, clenching her hair.
His face was blurry through Gillian’s tears, but she saw that he was still smiling. He had slobber on his chin.
His hands shot down. They snatched the neck of her blouse and yanked. The front flew open and he peeled the blouse off her shoulders, tugging it halfway down so it pinned her arms at her sides.
He stared at her breasts. His eyes were so wide they seemed lidless.
“Where were you tonight?” he asked.
“I ... went ... for a walk.”
“Bad lie.” He pinched her nipples and twisted them. As pain streaked through her, she realized vaguely that he had let go, and then she saw a fist floating up from his side. It seemed to be coming at her very slowly and she thought that she should have no trouble at all ducking it, and then it crashed into her face.
The telephone was ringing. Gillian felt a rush of terror.
I won’t answer it, she thought. If I don’t pick it up, Mom and Dad will be all right. Just ignore it. It’ll stop.
It didn’t stop.
She sat up in bed.
The handset was in its cradle. Blood streamed from both ends. Puddles of blood were spreading over the top of the nightstand.
“No!” she cried out. “Stop!”
The phone kept ringing. The blood began to dribble off the nightstand’s edges.
Then the handset leaped from the cradle and flew at her. It sprayed her face with blood. It wrapped the cord around her neck. She started to choke. She pulled at the cord, but it tangled her hands, bound them.
The mouthpiece pressed against her mouth, spouting blood down her throat as the cord strangled her.
Then the receiver mashed her ear. “Your turn,” whispered the voice of the phone. “Your turn now.”
Gillian jerked awake.
But the nightmare didn’t stop. She was being choked. Her hands were bound. She struggled in the darkness, trying not to panic. The cord at her throat kept tightening. But when she straightened her arms, it loosened. She sucked air into her burning lungs.
A surge of motion tipped Gillian.
Something was vibrating under her. She could hear an engine sound and the hiss of wheels spinning on a road.
I’m in a car.
Her eyes saw only black. She blinked them to make sure they were open.
On a car floor. The back seat floor? she wondered. But no light. None at all. And no driveshaft bump under my side.
Gillian’s legs were bent. She began to straighten them, very slowly in case the movement should tighten the rope across her throat. Though she could feel that her ankles were tied, there didn’t seem to be any line connecting them to her neck. She unbent her knees a little more. A wire snagged one of her feet.
A tail light wire? A brake light wire? One or the other.
Gillian knew where she was.
In the trunk of Fredrick Holden’s car.
Her heart started slamming, pumping pain into her head, making her battered face burn.
Oooh, I’m gonna have fun with you.
Rick wished, once again, that he had brought the bottle with him. He was shivering. His neck was stiff, and the rigid muscles seemed to go right up into the back of his skull, squeezing pain into his head. The bourbon might have helped. On the other hand, he would have polished it off a long time ago, probably during the first hour of his vigil, and he would’ve ended up totally plastered; it might’ve even been enough to knock him out.
I’d be no good to anyone, he thought, zonked out of my gourd.
Yeah. But what good is this, anyway?
This is doing a lot of good, he told himself. It’s the one sure way to keep those bastards from sneaking out of the woods and jumping us. And it got me away from Andrea, away from temptation.
Rick was seated on the ground with his back against a tree trunk, the revolver resting on his lap.
He thought about his visit from the preacher-man.
Jeez, what a performance!
The bastard was mad as a coot but most probably harmless. Christ, he’d been out in the wilderness for fifty years or more. Enough to turn anybody crazy ...
Through a gap in the bushes ahead, he could see Jase, Luke and Wally in their sleeping bags. If the boys had a tent, they’d decided not to use it. They’d sacked out around the fire.
The fire had still been flickering when Rick arrived. Later, nothing remained except a red glow, though sometimes a flame had climbed out of the rubble like a fatally wounded survivor, quivered in the darkness for a little while, and died. Even the glow had faded out, finally. For the past hour or so, the fire had been dark and smokeless.