P. 1
The Unfortunate Death of Casey Sennet

The Unfortunate Death of Casey Sennet


|Views: 4,046|Likes:
Published by Jevonne Ray

A story about awkward love, overbearing families, and monsters under the bed. Not necessarily in that order. Co-written by Jevonne and Olive.

A story about awkward love, overbearing families, and monsters under the bed. Not necessarily in that order. Co-written by Jevonne and Olive.

More info:

Published by: Jevonne Ray on Nov 07, 2012
Copyright:Traditional Copyright: All rights reserved


Read on Scribd mobile: iPhone, iPad and Android.
download as PDF, TXT or read online from Scribd
See more
See less




There was once an unassuming young woman by the name of Casey Sennet. As you may have guessed, she is going to die. The whole affair began on a Sunday evening, when she broke her streak of seclusion to visit the corner store. Rolled up in a coat and scarf to fend off the vicious November sleet, she had already locked the door and popped open her umbrella when she saw it. At first glance, her mind washed over it. Stray dog. No problem. But she took another peek, just in case, and found herself unable to look away. The monster stared back. Its large canine body was normal enough, but the horns curling from behind its ears and the five-fingered hands on the ends of its four legs were certainly not those of a dog. She could just make out needle-like teeth crammed at odd angles into its long jaw and signs of decay ratted in its fur. They stood there, girl and beast, gazing into one another. Some small voice in her mind was screaming fortheloveofgodRUNAWAY, but the rest of her remained oddly attracted to the unearthly thing at the corner of Willow Avenue and Church Street. Moth to the flame, she stepped closer to the curb, closer to the thing. It cocked its head, ears perking. Casey’s heart hitched, and her lungs tightened, and her stomach rose toward her throat, so that she knew something very powerful had just filled her, but she couldn’t apprehend what it was. The monster drew a step closer, closed its eyes, nodded like it knew. Like it understood. Then it was gone. Casey remained rooted to the concrete for some time, gaze fixed on the vacant street corner. She wanted to feel something, perhaps the tingle of onset insanity or a buzz of panic, but everything in her remained still. There was a something in the seat of her sentiments crooning, It’s okay, this is normal, this is normal, and she listened to it. That couldn’t be good. She should have been freaking out.


but after a bit of scrolling. Casey turned the monitor toward the wall. but bad hair was worth the privacy. she was grinding the ignition of her ’91 Nissan with a Google Maps print-off in one hand. Had she imagined it? No. she crossed the road and began to step around the street sign. Perhaps even the same one. There were several results for wolf sightings. Breathing deep. After waiting a moment for her fingers to thaw. So she did what any normal person would do: she went to the library to google “dog with horns sighting. because she had seen monsters before.” Once the car finally sputtered to life. maybe a picture she'd seen of the creature or a nightmare she’d had before. seeking credence and finding none. she began her search. eyes widening when she reached the bottom of the page. she read on to a plea from Kheft to be visited at his address by anyone who had seen such an animal. Not a handprint or a single hair.But she wasn't. a truth as constant as there is gravity or I am a woman named Casey Sennet. It was only a crude drawing. hit that chord of familiarity. her partially-numb fingers clinging to the steering wheel as she turned into the apartment complex indicated by her map. a few questionable chat rooms and some online fiction. Five minutes later. The whole thing made Casey's gut churn. sending strands of hair like watery coffee spilling out of her ponytail. Casey became aware of her pulse in her fingers as she gripped the mouse ever tighter. She knew that creature. away from prying eyes. written by a paranormal investigator named Zachary Kheft who had been tracking these creatures for some time. it was a solid thought. Nothing. The page was plain but fascinating. She was certain of this more than anything. and trees reached overhead with limbs stripped naked by the cold.” Sitting at computer #6 with the scent of moist books heavy in her nose. muttering. there was nothing. yet it resonated with her. Swallowing. 3 . She had to cock her head to actually see the screen. the whole library didn’t have to know. Apartments loomed with scattered windows lit from within. she followed the map into a town several minutes from her own but just as run-down. she was certain she’d seen it— she just didn’t know exactly what she’d seen. If she was crazy. “This is unreal. There it was. she found something. Yet when she raked her mind for any bit of information.

Uttering a curse beneath her breath. though. and Arthur responded in kind. anyway. 26C. Casey was losing the feeling in her outer extremities. peeped.” His jittering fingers appeared. toolong nails pressing into the doorframe. of course. trying to produce an assuring smile but succeeding only in a shiver. Casey parked.” and vanished through a door beside him. There was a rush of feet then a squeal of hinges as the door opened a few inches. 4 . you just— just wait. no. which was on the second story. In an unsuccessful attempt to conjure a response. Her journey up the stairs resulted in a few near-slips on the icy metal. and leapt into the sleet.” This time she was able to smile. the chain slid free and the door opened fully to reveal a man of some twenty years.” Casey shuffled her feet against the threshold as she bowed into the gloriously warm room. “He hasn’t had a girl over in a long time. “Right. In the narrow opening was an overabundance of freckles. remaining thus for roughly three seconds before inching back open to reveal Arthur again. stopped by a chain attached to the door frame. pulled her jacket tighter.” The door closed. assuming a nervous fidgeting with his hands. if that’s alright. where are you?” A slow cruise through the rows of buildings finally led her to the apartment in question.” “Right! Go ahead. “Zachary Kheft?” Casey ventured. wipe them please?” “Sure.” Arthur observed. It was too late to second-guess this. and by the time she reached the top. bright red hair and eyes mirroring those of a deer in headlights. albeit lopsidedly. “I’ll get Zach. just—” He disappeared momentarily. “No. she was shaking so hard that she almost couldn’t get her finger on the buzzer. slight-bodied and much shorter than Casey.” she said. Casey opened and closed her mouth a few times like a fish. Arthur cleared his throat. “Do you want to come in?” Though the prospect of entering a stranger’s house was a little more than unwise. I’m Arthur. “Okay then. He shook his head violently.“Alright. Seeming to recognize his blunder. Arthur shut the door behind her. and if worse came to worst there was a can of mace in her purse… “Yes. “Well. “Your feet. I’ll wait. Awkward. I’ll get Zach now.

In his absence. A man stood before her. I think I have an infestation of those animals. and Casey breathed a little faster. I guess. Casey didn’t like them at all. “And it had these teeth.” A moment of hesitation passed before Casey described the creature. Casey stole a gander at the interior of the apartment. Perhaps they— “Can I help you?” Casey spun.” Casey said. “How many?” he asked. much taller and sturdier than Arthur. face growing increasingly hot. but it was— I don’t know.” Her stomach jumped. so many teeth— maybe it was just a stray dog. “Just— just one. though. features. “Is this about those payments at The Oaks?” he continued.” Zach stared at her and his eyes widened with something akin to obsession. I don’t know why I said —” “It’s always like that. Had she really called it that? “You’re right.. depicting its horns with two devil-like fingers curled by her head and its unsettling hands with a wriggle of her own. Everything you can remember. Maybe white. defined by dark skin. Strange.” “That’s not much of an infestation. I really thought it was more than that. “What did you see?” “It was just like the picture on the site—” “No. Less-standard was the large gash in the wall above said sofa. Overall.. like you’ve seen them everywhere. I’ve moved out.” Zachary Kheft stared at her for a moment before his face fell flat. he had the appearance of a crazed jungle animal.” She fidgeted with the strap of her purse. You see one and you feel like you’ve seen them before. Lightly colored. It was far away. It was. He had cat’s eyes. I don’t want to have to write another letter—” “No. something foreign— maybe African?— apparent in his baritone. but I swear. snarls of yellowish. actually. Size. “Because obviously. “Tell me exactly. for lack of a more eloquent term. no. yeah?” 5 . “I. “I’m actually here because. um. unkempt hair.” Zachary stepped forward into her space. color. read your internet page. maybe like a wolf hound or something. hazel and a tad wild. and a stubble-roughened jaw with bit of a goatee. a bachelor pad. Okay. It was big. complete with a half-eaten sandwich in a paper towel on the arm of a beaten-in sofa.

Avoid them as much as you possibly can. she could only stare. he said. “What are these things? Do you know?” “I do. “Look. “Know how you feel like they’ve infested?” “Uh—” “They have. but you can buy yourself time.. what are they?” she asked finally. actually. With a curl of his lip. all intensity and energy and just a smidgen of terror. but—” 6 . and his voice was low and quick. however. and if you see them again. “Who.” Her head cocked a bit. going for the mace.. Zachary Kheft was silent.” They stared at each other for a long moment.” She pushed the gun away and retreated. “Tell me your name.” Her nails dug into the grooves of the doorknob. Casey felt an explosion impending between her ears. When he produced a pistol and held it out as if offering it to her. You can’t run forever. “They want you. I know I’m here asking for answers.” She grasped the knob behind her. Find someplace to stay.” Kheft frowned and the gun vanished behind him. “Look. I don’t see what this has to do with—” And then he was nearly toe-to-toe with her.” Pins and needles nibbled at her heart. going tense when the doorknob small of her back. made an inarticulate sound. Casey.” Then he reached behind himself and Casey’s hand plunged into her purse. “Casey Sennet. and clenched his teeth. “Well. made her spine tighten. eyebrows raising. “No— I don’t want that. yes. What is it?” Casey stepped back.“Well. I have no idea what you’re talking about. He opened his mouth as if to speak. Don’t go back home. trying to find the doorknob without breaking eye contact. breath coming so quick that it scrambled her thinking. “What?” She was lost to adrenalin. The monsters. I don’t know why you’re going to so much trouble to scare me. “What?” “Your name. move someplace else. They’re going to come for you. but what you’re saying doesn’t make any sense. those— those animals?” “No.

A month passed. Thanks. When she reached her car.” She gave what she hoped was a firm nod. thanks so much for that.” 7 . and the creeping night hours gave way to increasingly unpleasant workdays. Given the amount of blood and sweat it would take to get out of her lease agreement and the fact that the only place she had to go was back to her parents’. ma’am. but I didn’t— What? Oh. “I’m sorry for what they’re going to do to you. she threw it in gear and peeled off. “Really sorry. opened the door. “My name? I’m Casey. I know what you’re about to get into. I suppose it is a problem… Yes.” He drew the gun again. thank you. “I’ve been hearing about you. slipping and sliding but more willing to face the ice than the man who still watched her go. and Casey did not move out. Have a happy Halloween! What? No— of course not. held it out in the palm of his hand. watching with his forehead drawn into wrinkles as she backed away from the apartment. I apologize. I didn’t mean— no. obesity is an epidemic. But as every fleeting shadow started to resemble a monster and the creak of the shifting foundation sounded like death on the prowl. I’m sure there’s all kinds of evil going on tonight. Zachary Kheft came to the door. Casey. she wondered if Zachary Kheft had the right idea. At least take this. I’d have to transfer you to customer service if you want to make a return. I’m certainly not saying… Oh. but— Or you can hang up on me.“I’m not trying to scare you. When it did. she cast herself into the seat and gunned the engine. too.” he called.” “I’m leaving now. the sale is already closed. Paranoia made sleep elude her.” Casey turned and rushed down the stairs. praying the stupid thing would start faster than usual. Thanks for your purchase. I would never imply— Candy? Yes. ma’am… Yes. Um. I’m trying to warn you. it didn’t seem worth it— especially as she began to convince herself that she hadn't seen anything strange at all on the corner of Willow and Church. and it’s not pretty. yes. and rushed outside. Her stomach quivered for the rest of the day.

“The Man getting you down. probably because they were one of the many aspects of Maggie’s ongoing campaign against “The Man. “Hey. The economy will be fixed in an instant. and I'm so out of it that I just went and told my one sale to have a Happy Halloween. That’s where they abduct all the new recruits.” The woman pushed her thick glasses up on her nose and examined her schedule. dearie. Maggie. Every day she allowed to slip through her fingers in a call center made the ideas of bankruptcy and homelessness seem a little less unwelcoming. her headset following shortly with a clatter. She started lecturing me on evil spirits then tried to make a return…” Casey paused to sigh. Thank God it’s quitting time.” Casey put a hand to her temple. You just go home and rest. dearie! Stay home and make that herbal tea I gave you— stuff’s mighty strong. you won’t. won’t you? And don’t stay in bars past midnight.” 8 .” and the war he’d started in Vietnam that had taken her son from her years ago. “I'm just no good tonight. Casey had never seen her without her braids.” Margaret was an older woman with two grey braids.Casey’s forehead dropped to her desk.” Casey turned her head to gaze up at the woman beside her. The war which was. and she wasn’t willing to give up her ever-blossoming friendship with Chef Boyardee to go live in a cardboard box with an empty stomach just yet. “It’s your birthday tomorrow.” Maggie batted Casey’s arm with her schedule. right temple still glued to the desk of her half-cubicle. however. Margaret. Food was a pleasant and necessary part of life. “Tell me all about it when you get back. I’ll see you tomorrow. and you’ll find a better job.” “Don’t blame yourself. “I’ve hardly sold a thing tonight. one over either shoulder. but I’m sure you’re having a party. according to Margaret. She had forgotten. you know. “Alright. Casey dear?” “Oh.” The old woman’s braids leapt as she nodded in the affirmative. Things will get better when the government pulls out of ‘Nam and they give my boy back to me. “Oh. you know.” Casey had no sooner registered the suspicious comment about the herbal tea than the full meaning of Maggie’s words hit her: tomorrow was her birthday.” “No. still going on in secret. “That— that can’t be right.

” She stood.” There was no use lying. herself.” Casey waved a dismissive hand. “I will. reflecting that the blue of the scarf was probably her favorite color. a mother pushing a sleepy child in a shopping cart. I did. she could think of someone. she took extra care to step in every puddle that presented itself on the rain-soaked Colorado pavement. Obviously. as if shedding a hat in salute. She needed to do something productive with herself before she lost it and started seeing flying monkeys. She needed more sleep. The first item on Casey's list. Breathing a low tsk tsk. “What’s tomorrow?” “November 1st. Go ahead and get home early like you said. but she was suspicious enough to smell a lie from six miles away. And her elderly. pulled her jacket and scarf from the nearby coat tree. other than Maggie. The woman may have had a few screws loose. after wrapping herself in the blue scarf Margret had kindly knitted her. Thanks. But dearie— did you forget?” “Well… yeah. young friends to have a party tomorrow. dearie. was a trip to the store. She needed more of that. “You’ve been working too much. ignoring Maggie’s conspiracy talk purely out of habit. They had relationships. a group of teenagers messing around by a rack of sunglasses. and you call up all of your hip. she could invite over for her birthday. but she really—” “No. half-senile coworker was probably the only person who had remembered her birthday. but she attributed it to all of the craziness with strange creatures and questionable men offering her guns. she tugged off her scarf and couldn’t help but sigh as she melted into the people. As she walked to her car. you hear?” “Right. she wondered who. When Casey stepped into Wal-Mart. I never forget a birthday. these people had real lives. Surely by the time she got home. Margret reapplied her glasses and turned back to her own desk. she was too stressed. but decided to save those thoughts until later. of course.” Casey murmured. Maggie removed her glasses with a stiff movement. “Bye. 9 .“It’s true! They told us the girl down in HR got transferred. Maggie. more social life. not that. She still felt a little sick about forgetting it.” With a sagely nod farewell. and less work. As she slid into her car. A couple holding hands.

succeeding only in shifting his attention back to her face. He seemed more-or-less Asian. Perhaps tonight. “You dropped your Band-Aids. Casey’s brow lowered a bit in wonderment as she stared at this strange. unfortunate creature. The man had vanished. she stood in the pharmaceutical department of the store. he raked a hand through his rat's nest of long black hair and said. Was this what serial killers looked like? She was in a Wal-Mart at eleven at night. she returned the Band-Aids to their shelf and picked up the most promising bottle of sleeping pills. “Do you… want them back?” She held out the box to him. Just as it began to occur to her to offer some kind of help (a couple dollars or some employment advice. but it was hard to tell for the series of medical patches that completely obscured half of his face. She cast an absentminded glance down at the box. Given that he was built like an emaciated pile of sticks. and it stared like she was something ungodly. returned her eyes to the sleeping pills. Maybe— Whap! Casey jumped. As she made her way to the checkout. and the eye flickered to her hand. expression unchanged. Drawing a deep breath. she coulf remedy her sleep troubles and keep the late night fears away. but he was tall— at least six and a half feet. “So…” She drew out the word. she shook the box a little. then promptly looked back again. Was the man who had dropped it barefoot? She followed bowed legs up to a bony torso wrapped in dirty gauze.A few minutes later. she wasn’t sure exactly what she was going for) she found herself staring at an empty aisle. if she had to guess. swallowing and backing away a bit. yanked from her thoughts by the sound of a box of bandages hitting the floor. crouching to retrieve it when he made no move to do so himself. He continued to stare at her. a can of ravioli in her hand and her eyes on the sleep aids.” She nodded at the abandoned box. from there to a spindly neck and finally a face. After a long exhale. “F-fo-forgive me. When her peace offering didn’t elicit any other reaction. confirming his Asian ethnicity but clipped at the edges by something else she couldn’t identify. with the help of a pill or two. leaving her with naught but a box of Band-Aids and a can of ravioli.” His accent was odd. Only one eye was visible for the bandages. she glanced about and 10 . she shouldn’t have been very intimidated.

so she couldn’t ask for much more. was a lovely girl. perfect. hair twisted into a lost cause of tangles— before the bottle for examination. if she turned it on the lowest heat and left it on for a few hours. She’d been transferred. She then stepped into the bathroom. Though the oven sat nestled rather uncomfortably near the sofa. Once in her room. With a flick of her thumb. Her television had finally given up the ghost but still resided on the coffee table. where she cast a glance at herself in the mirror— slight bags beneath her eyes.craned her neck around corners. Biting her lip. that she thought of someone to invite for her birthday: Abbey Graves. They’d talked at the office. but well-insulated and armed with a security system. Who else could she possibly—? “Oh!” The gasp came on the coattails of a grin. but never exchanged any information. it occurred to her that she had never actually asked for Abbey’s number. she wrote Jake at the top of the list. Casey pulled a notepad and a pen out of a kitchen drawer and flung Abbey’s name across the top. heading to her bedroom with the sleeping pills in hand. from human resources at work. she brushed the back of it idly with her fingertips as a matter of habit when she passed by. but her cell phone number would still be the same. The walks from the store to her car and from her car to her house shocked her full of shivers and left her scarf dripping with sleet. she opened her phone and wedged it between her ear and shoulder when she found the number. Casey took a seat at her table and crossed out Abbey. When she began to click through her contacts. it would warm the house nicely. Of course! Abbey. Grinning. and he’d seemed interested in her— yes. she peeled off her wet clothes and changed into warm sweatpants and a t-shirt. she forgot about the encounter by the time she left the store. Having skimmed the label and made sure of the dosage. making what would have been an inconsequential sack of groceries into a bit of a burden by the time she reached her doorstep. Frowning. on her way back to the kitchen to unpack the groceries. 11 . It was then. however. Her house was shabby at best. always interested in how Casey’s day was going. She’d met Jacob Surley at the library a few times. but didn’t see him again. she tossed back two pills with a handful of water. Between the screaming child at the checkout in front of her and the cashier who rang up her Tampax twice.

Over the next few minutes. and the turnover rate at work was too high to make any good friends— aside from Maggie. We could also just go out. so Casey found herself at a last resort. mom. whoever. Call me back. Or— I could go over there. Whatever’s good for you guys. I know November’s hard. you know. Again.” Casey dropped into her chair. She didn’t know anyone from high school well enough. um.Three beeps sounded. Casey wrote down and crossed out a dozen more names. too. her brief time in college had been more stressful than social. Si usted está vendiendo algo. Blessedly. Uh. Thanks. “Hey. Putting the thoughts of a lonely birthday behind her. Deje su nombre y número después del tono. Or if I-. Resting her cheek against her palm. you have reached a number that has been disconnected or is no longer in service. but… I mean. Dialed again. Casey relinquished to the dizziness of the drug and forced herself to put away a few groceries before wandering back to her room. my birthday’s tomorrow and I was wondering if you wanted to. and her heart sank. I know November’s hard for you. you can come by yourself. if I don’t see you. sighed. “We're sorry. por favor nos llevan fuera de su lista. Just. You could come over here. 12 . please take us off your list. You choose. So she couldn’t call him… and he hadn’t been at the library recently. and gouged her pencil through Family.um. the idea of spending her birthday alone with a 70 year old conspiracy theorist was a little more than depressing. please don’t show up if you’re not sober. Through her fluttering eyelashes she could have sworn she saw a figure shifting in her open door. so I thought we could do something. do something. If you feel you have reached this recording in error. Or— or dad. who didn’t have any interest in getting a better job. Leave your name and number after the tone. If you are selling something. but before she could lend much thought to it.” and drew a strike through Jacob’s name. the sleep aid chose that moment to kick in.” The tone beeped. “Dad. she sighed. Oh— and I’ll have a check tomorrow when I see you. She pressed “3” on speed dial and felt a little lighter when no one answered. Her voice came rushed and a little airy. sleep stole her away. uh…” She put the phone to her chest for a moment and breathed deep. please—” She hung up. “You have reached Robert and Stella Senet. Same response. mom. Usted ha llegado a Robert y Stella Senet. I’ll send it like usual. However. if it’s a problem. and Casey almost hung up. “Nope. fun.

13 .

The thought that this was going to force her to get out of bed at six in the morning irked her slightly. it was pointed at the guy. Her attempt to slap the “quit making that awful racket” button ended in the demonic thing falling onto the floor beside her bed. so she resorted to throwing it into a loose ponytail as it dried. She crouched there with her back against the door and her fingers taut around the knife’s handle.. but she’d get over it. then dropped it promptly to the floor. She stepped out into the kitchen and grabbed her phone to call in. but—” She had no clue where she was going with this. you’re officially old enough to drown that throbbing in your head with a bottle of vodka. A few moments were spent investigating the finer aspects of her face in the mirror and standing sideways to scrutinize her figure— maybe one day it would look like something other than a slab of cardboard— before she dressed in a tank top and a pair of shorts. Her hair refused to calm itself. fumbling in a drawer until she found a knife. Happy birthday. she deserved the day off on her birthday. And the next moment she’d run and locked herself in her bedroom. or worse. armed? What if— 14 . but did she want to take the chance of getting into a fight with someone who had broken into her house? What if he was stronger than he seemed. “Stay where you are!” She reached behind herself. Judging by his health (or lack thereof). just out of her reach. She had the knife. she showered. every self-defense tip she’d ever heard choosing that moment to abandon her. When she reached down to grab it. Party or not. In the bathroom a few moments later. she instead knocked it away and left it screaming. Casey. Perhaps she’d even invite Margret over later. Enigmatic Six and a Half-Foot-Tall Possible Serial Killer Man from Walmart was in her house.The alarm that flung Casey headlong into the world consciousness each day never failed to be painfully loud. ready for a day of solitude in her warm house. “I-I don’t know what you’re doing in my house. He was in her house. she congratulated herself as she captured and disarmed the clock.. she could probably overpower him without doing anything drastic.

ma’am. but he was handsome." Casey pinched her temple. Was he bringing it to her? “Just leave it outside!” she said. “Excuse me. and Casey nearly swallowed her tongue. Actually. Do you know that a man came in a minute ago and told the boss you’d be out for a few days? Something about an unexpected trip. The phone rang again. so—” 15 . and—” “Oh. closer this time. He was wearing some pretty fancy clothes. What happened? Are you with him?” She frowned. “Hey. She closed her eyes and sighed through her teeth. birthday girl. do you have time to consider buying a pair of sunglasses? Guaranteed to deflect any brainwashing laser beams the government has on those satellites in outer space. On her knees. my heavens! Is he trying to arrest you over conspiracy? Because if they’ve found out I know about ‘Nam. She heard him place the phone on the wood then step away. too— could’ve been blind. face against the wood. “Don’t even try to come in here!” The knob ceased to rattle. Maggie. The phone rang again and she snatched it up.Her entire body lurched when her phone rang outside of the room. knife poised to strike. but somehow he got into my house. “Okay. Definitely not the man in Casey’s living room. this isn’t the best—” “Just a moment. no. Maggie. then. I’m not sure if he’s even dangerous. and there was a light knock. “What? Did he leave a name? What did he look like?” “I didn’t catch a name. flipping it open and sliding it between her shoulder and her ear as she locked the door. "In fact. you don’t have to say anything! You have rights—” “No. look. business formal and all that. Why on earth had she left it on the floor? It rang again.” Handsome and well-dressed.” Casey sighed and rubbed her forehead with the back of her hand. He wasn’t outside. he hasn’t tried to do anything. he’s not trying to arrest me. He had funny eyes. and his hair was really curly and black. There’s a man in my house right now. “I have a knife!” Her voice was pitchy and not as fear-inducing as she’d intended. she ventured to open the door a crack. Then the doorknob rattled.

you hear me!” What remained of his eyebrow lowered in a gesture of confusion. dearie!” The intruder spoke again. okay. the last vestiges of what might have been nails scraping Casey’s hand. “But you don’t have a boyfriend. just one moment—” Casey pressed a hand over the mouthpiece and twisted so that her face was flat against the floor. eye wide and mouth peeled back to reveal— oh.” Picked the lock? There went the last three years of feeling secure in her own home! Just beyond Casey’s panic.” “God!” she yelped. “Maggie. and pressed the phone against the crack to prove her point.. yelping when the 16 . but I can’t speak for you. “I mean them. The monsters. ju-jus-j-ju-just—” And his fingers came scratching after the phone like great spider legs. don’t! You can’t! It’s for your own good. “I’m going to call the police!” she said. because you need to get out right now. I’m fine. you hear me!” “No! You can’t!” Then the crack filled with half a face. She said. but I’m going to call the police if you don’t get out. Margaret continued a babble of defense instructions. “And I’m sorry. so I just picked the lock. look. were his teeth filed to points? “Please. “What are you talking about? There’s no monsters here.” Casey’s stomach turned. I didn’t mean. In the crack beneath the door. she saw long-fingered hands covered in band-aids and beyond them a pair of knees. you. so even if I don’t call the police. so—” “No. high and frantic. please. not the police!” His voice strained over the words. Casey. it doesn’t matter. God. She shrieked and leapt back from the door.Casey nearly leapt out of her skin at the voice just opposite the door: “You didn’t arm your security system.” Casey’s spine went cold. “Hey.. “Are you alright? Just hit him where it counts and run. My— uh— my boyfriend will be here soon. “No. I’m fine. you’re going to be in trouble. I— how do you know my name? No. The incessant noise was not helping. don’t call the police! Y-yo-y-you-y-yoy— they’ll kill—” “The police aren’t going to kill me. garbled now by static. you didn’t hear me knocking. listen! I’m not sure why you’re here.

I can still call the police!” A rush of bare feet and he appeared. Easy enough. she kicked herself for not taking her mother’s advice: “You’re moving to the ghetto..” Casey collapsed back onto her rear. “Hey.. hey you! I’ve got a home phone in here.” she’d said. praying the old hunk of metal would actually start. only the hope that this stalker was as flimsy as he looked. She peeled out into the street in defiance of every defensive driving class she'd ever taken and knew she had only one place left to go: Home. Then she ran. Moments later she was in her car. knees then hands then face.” Casey leapt up and into the adjoining bathroom. Adrenalin spiked and she unlocked the door. God— help. a familiar jingling when she threw on the garment brought tears of relief to her eyes. “Oh. run like heck. but did she want to chance it? And even if she did. help me—” Swiveling to look for some other source of protection. "N-n-n-no. Casey rushed back to the door and threw herself to her knees to look through the crack again. “buy a gun. a hand to her chest as if that would impede her impending hyperventilation. Or maybe. no no no no. You’ll be thankful you did. She went to dial 911 and found her phone missing. spray. gunning the ignition.” She had no such assurance. snatching her coat as she passed the rack with a silent prayer that her car keys were in the pocket. Inhuman shrieking ratcheted up in the hallway outside. The knife still lay by the door. her trusty can of mace.. the kind of noise Casey associated with demons in scary movies and pterodactyls from children’s shows. now. maybe even stab them? “Oh. where— yes! There was her purse..footboard of her bed hit her back.. and inside. Hopefully. you can't! It’s for your own—” Casey leapt back and sprayed him. but he was gone.. please be in here. please be in here. no. kicking it open and flattening him behind it like so much home-invading stick bug. She’d never actually used it. Still nothing. “Hey. but it didn’t seem too complex: shake the capsule. no— you can’t do that— stop!” She fell to her knees and pressed her face against the crack. 17 . Her prayers were answered again with a strained growl from the engine. “No. would she have the strength of body and will to actually fight someone off. Her head jerked up just in time to see his gnarled fingers snatching it away.

with a squeal of hinges. Mom. “Come on. The woman was a wisp of a thing.“Mom? I know you're here! Please answer me!” Casey pounded flat-palmed against her parents’ front door. I swear. “I assume they've come for you. Any explanation she had was impeded by her teeth. “Happy Birthday.” “You knew about this?” Casey dropped into the couch and began to strip off her frigid socks. Cassandra. Her nose crinkled at the reek of off-brand air freshener. what exactly are you talking about?” Her mother looked her straight in the face.” Casey sat in stillness and stared at the woman adjacent her. I think I’m in danger! Please!” Finally.” “Know all about what?” “About your husband. if this is some kind of joke. what does that mean?” 18 . still littered in unpaid bills and picture frames from the dollar store.” Her mother lounged into her father's chair with a few fingers to her temple. then back up. or you wouldn't be here. “I'm sorry. a familiar face appeared in the doorway. it isn’t funny—” “No. She scrutinized Casey for a moment before asking with a hint of a Mexican accent. leaving Casey to assume that he was off gambling away the grocery money. and Casey stamped her sock-feet to remove the snow before escaping into the dwelling’s warmth. “Mom. which chose that moment to take up a violent chattering. expression hard. “What are you wearing?” Casey looked down at her tank top.” her mother said. shorts and socks. “They really haven’t told you?” “No. get inside before we both catch death. Hispanic and short with graying hair all pinned up like something had died in it. “You know all about it.” her mother offered without eye-contact. seriously. The house of her youth remained unchanged since her last visit. simultaneously thrumming with energy and losing feeling in her limbs. there’s nothing funny about this at all. “Well. The chair customarily filled by the hung-over mass of her father pleaded vacant. then.

Casey’s heart hitched. Is that okay. eyes wide. I’m— um— I’m sorry. Casey cradled her with palms that had gone moist and shaky. Her stomach beginning to twist. Cassandra. look at me—” she turned the graying head. Mom.” Brow folded. but her mother jerked away. Mom?” She went to place a consoling hand on one of the sob-wracked shoulders.. Casey shifted in her seat and made an inarticulate noise. The Quinceañera was great. Her mother’s heavy breathing tapered into small gasps. Casey flinched back. “They— they’re going to kill you. all strained into a single. the poor woman dissolved to tears. incredulous gasp: “What?” A hand went to her mouth.” Casey’s insides lurched and became a vacuum.” Again. they hear everything…” Her mother’s words descended into mutters. Mom. “Look. “Look. and I’ll listen to you. sobbing. now. You're getting married. Mom. he was in a wreck! I saw the car. Cassandra. They ate Tyler.The woman pulled a frown and averted her eyes. It’s— it’s no use. “Because they killed your brother. then they’ll kill us. looked into eyes awash with tears. Casey shifted to her mother’s side. I don’t even know what you’re talking about. “Come on. I-I was at the funeral—” 19 . if this is some kind of cultural thing. let me tell you that I have no intention of getting married. “It means exactly what it sounds like. and images of murder and cannibalism crept around the edges of approaching nausea. That’s crazy. “Hey— don’t.” she whispered. but—” “I told you this isn’t a joke. and when you do. Cassandra! Be serious!” her mother shrieked and shot to her feet with intensity uncharacteristic of such a slight thing. Mouth agape with nothing to say. Even if something like that did happen. How do you know anyone would try to hurt you?” Her mother sniffled. holding the sides of her head between weathered hands.. Casey took a seat on the arm of the chair and folded her mother up in a firm hug. it’s fine. and she collapsed back into the chair. because I could— hey. right?” “No. “I could just say no. “Mom. “What? What are you talking about?” “He’s coming for you— he— he’s going to make you marry him. They see everything. everything going breathless and tight against each other.

. how could it have really happened? But then.” Her mother didn’t seem to hear. like Rumpelstiltskin?” Her mother scoffed and dismissed her with a wave of her hand. struggling to breathe around her knot of a throat. “What? Mom. her little chest heaving. taking deep breaths. They. and he had the monsters with him. right there on the corner of Willow Avenue and Church Street. to shove down the sensation of vomit growing in her stomach. “He came to us years before you were born. A-and then they arranged the whole thing. a-and then. right there in front of us. and we’d been so drunk. “—well. They were coming for her. stop it. her mother tore away and began pacing. she’d probably get sick on her own feet. after it happened. but the point is. ate him whole. “There… there was this man.” She paused. these. I don’t know. that smile. Cassandra.“It was all fake!” With that. a fist to her mouth. Honestly. The monster had looked her right in the face. The Smiling Man. You didn’t see— these men came to the house. “What. He threatened to kill us then and there. before Tyler passed on. and they had these things with them. we assumed it wasn’t real.they took us to this. but she’d seen it with her own eyes. It was a lie. Like it understood.” her mother said. “They… ate him.. to quell the tears. If Casey took a deep breath. “Oh. we were drunk and terrified and we agreed. “You weren’t there. she saw her mother composing herself. and Casey had felt something that she couldn’t understand at the time. She wouldn’t have believed it. It was ridiculous. And the monster had closed its eyes and nodded like it knew. This isn’t okay. and they took us. jaw slack. “I’m not sure. The monsters ate him. but now she knew: she’d felt her future twisting away. we called him. “Why?” she whispered.” Casey sat with her hands on her face.these demons with monkey feet and horns and antlers and wolf faces. the wreck and the funeral and everything. They ate him. but he said he’d let us live if… if we gave him our firstborn child.this garage or something and…” She went quiet. The Smiling Man came again.” Casey blinked. “What do they want?” With a peek through her fingers. the men made us swear— they made us swear never to tell the truth. God. Casey stared. a week or so before they—” she swallowed. He said…” 20 .

It was then that the door entertained a knock so quiet that neither woman would have heard it if not for the momentary silence. ‘Fine. and he did all the talking. “I don’t know. This was unreal. and for all we knew. He told us that in that case. Pierce. In a mental clinic. your father and I protested.She took another pause. “He reminded us of our contract and told us the terms. “Who’s Vincent Pierce?” she asked..” Casey murmured. trying to get her grip around the idea only to have her fingertips slip off the edges.” Casey said it softly. Why would I ever want to talk about this if I didn’t have to?” Casey didn’t know what to say to that. Her mother shook her head.. Pierce just sat in a corner with his eyes closed. Casey’s mother’s eyes drew thin as she went to the door. your father and I. We met him… years ago. her nausea given over to stillness. closing her eyes. Cassandra. unbelieving. standing on her tip-toes to see out the peep hole. Mr. “I’m so sorry. how was she to react to such a thing? Now that the initial sickness had passed. try it. she sat.” The woman put a jittery hand to her temple and released a groan. or at least when you met this… this Mr.” Casey’s eyes screwed shut as she let loose a long sigh. it was some kind of scam or hoax. “It’s him!” she hissed.’ He didn’t have the monsters with him. “Probably not. “A mental clinic?” That was exactly where this whole situation belonged. “Vincent Pierce!” 21 . because it was the only thought that would stick. She gasped and pitched backwards. he’d kill us. and we told him.” Her mother scoffed and asked. How were we supposed to know that-that he would—” And she began crying again. A man named Vincent Pierce would be coming for you when you were twenty-one. and you’d have to marry him. “Cassandra. But you could have at least—” “We weren’t going to talk about it ever again. Some mysterious “Smiling Man” with pet monsters had looped her into an arranged marriage and killed her brother because her parents resisted. “Mom. We said he couldn’t have you. The Smiling Man was there. “I wouldn’t have brought it up today if I hadn’t thought you already knew. Obviously. you should have told me about it when Tyler died. would you have believed me?” “No. He didn’t say much. why are you just now telling me this? You— well. “This is…” She placed her face in her hands again for a moment before looking back up. if-if I had known…” “You couldn’t have known.

On the porch stood a looming scarecrow of a figure. Casey. a few words made it to her tongue. “What do I do?” “Open it. His face was rendered red and puffy around the eye. They all stood still and silent for a long moment before Casey’s mother peeped. draped in gauze.” Casey said. as promised. Casey pushed herself to her feet. “Um. a result of the mace— should her shoulders have gone so heavy with guilt? Finally. and he had come for her on her twenty-first birthday. Her mother nodded and threw the door open. entire body rigid save for her thrashing heart. trying to produce some sort of dialogue and succeeding only in staring at him. She stepped back and found herself toppled over in the arms of the chair behind her.” “Hello. staring Vincent Pierce down as she tried to suppress the quiver in her tone. “Why what?” “Why am I suddenly finding out that I’m supposed to marry somebody because of—” she drew in a gasp that threatened to become a sob.” he said. actually. “What?” 22 . nostrils and mouth.” Vincent said. Casey’s brow pinched. “I’ve just got one question— no. the man she was apparently supposed to marry. shaking. hello. each too intimidated by the other to move any closer to the door. but midsentence she lost the words to realization. “I’m— I’m going to go make some coffee.Casey sprang to her feet. half his face pasted up in medical patches and his one eye staring.” Casey said. “You!” Casey screamed. but I have one very important one that I need to ask before anything else happens: why?” He swallowed. look.” and left the girl and her alleged fiancé at an impasse. “—because of hellhounds and cannibals? What’s going on? How—” “There were no cannibals. Her mother waited with a hand frozen on the doorknob. but she knew that there was no stopping it now. I have a lot of questions. because she did not know what was happening or how she would ever quite accept it. This was Vincent Pierce. “Alright. Her lips parted to order him off.

was actually eaten. took in a deep breath. A man who’d whittled his teeth to points and come to claim her as his bride didn’t really have much business being afraid. awkward with the rigidity of a person whose poor posture prevents them from standing straight. okay?” Vincent stood with his eye unblinking for quite some time. “I’m sorry you’re on edge. and you— well. So I’m just— just a little on edge. mouth drawing open as if to speak more than once. wringing his hands. just come in. “I don’t want to intr-intru-inint—” “Then you can stand right inside the door.“Cannibals. “I’m sorry. Casey’s toes had begun to go numb. she’d say he was more frightened than anything. He was a nervous wreck. the more Casey began to realize that he was more scared of her than she was of him.” he gasped and waved his hand in a gesture of decline.” he said. He took up sentry just beside the door.” After a moment of neither party moving aside from shivers. “All the heat’s getting out. Casey stared. Her first instinct was to snap ‘You’re why I’m on edge!’ but it seemed wrong. “No. she had to ask. would you like to stand inside?” Because. Mr. a man who broke into my house this morning and just so happens to have some kind of connection with the people who got my brother eaten. She’d seen stray dogs that looked better. it was hard to watch him shake in the cold. I didn’t mean—” Why was she apologizing? “Look. here.” Casey pressed a hand to her temple and moaned. “Mr. Pierce stepped inside and Casey closed the door behind him. Pierce. And now I’m apparently supposed to get married to you. 23 . and despite her self-preservation’s persistent demands for caution. but there wer-were-w-we-wer-” he hung his head a moment. shifting his meager weight— though that may have been because he stood in bare feet on the icy front porch. It was hard to gauge his emotions.” Casey was unsure if it was polite to interrupt someone who stuttered but found herself more concerned about the cold. please. She could practically hear his bones rattling. but if Casey had to guess. He really was sorry. but never doing so. “wer-weren’t cannibals. what with half his face being covered in bandages. I just found out that my brother. breathing shallow. the brother I thought died in a car accident. but the longer she stood there. creepy man affiliated with monsters or not. You said there were cannibals.

Once he’d popped a few more knuckles. not— I mean. “… influential. The only thing that could make this worse would be losing her head. “No! You can’t. “Family? You’re not— are you part of the mob or something?” She didn’t know if there was much mob activity in Colorado. she gestured toward the sagging couch. tossing up her hands. “So. so… how is this going to go? What’s going to happen? And. “Alright. they’ll k-k-ki-k-kill-ki—” “Alright!” Casey cried.” She collapsed backwards into her father’s chair and clung to the armrests. “Okay.” Three months? That was awfully fast. finally taking a seat and drawing his ridiculous legs up onto the cushion to sit cross-legged. then perched back on it after a moment.” Sighing through her teeth. and you d-d-d-don’t even have to—” 24 . “Um. we’re j-j-ju-jus-j-ust…” One of his shoulders gave a loose shrug. you can sit down again. He blinked at her for a moment before moving toward the couch. “We’re supposed to get… well. it’s fine. I have no choice. really. but— Casey leapt to the edge of her chair. With a deep breath to calm herself. no. why is this happening?” “Well.“It’s. Let’s sit.” Casey frowned. No. okay. we wouldn’t be— I have a separate room for you. Vincent looked away from Casey. please. Her hands kneaded the armrests of their own accord. For the first time since he’d come to the door. uh. What happens if I say no to this whole marriage thing?” Vincent lurched to his feet. I think. please sit!” He flinched at her sudden enthusiasm. “Really. Vincent tensed and glanced over his shoulder at the couch. I get it.” It was bad enough having him in the house. married three months from now. Did he just say— “Live with you?” His bony hands flinched up. I mean. She deflated with relief. but it would be less shocking than other things she’d encountered today. “It’s hard to explain. You’re going to live w-wi-w-with-w-wi— at my house until then. it’s—” She cleared her throat. my family is…” Vincent looked down at his hands and cracked the knuckles with a few flexes of his fingers. Right. he said. Casey brought a hand to her face.” She drew a long breath to steel herself as best she could. “Oh. different question. “Okay. “No. having him tower over her was a whole different level of uncomfortable. what’s the deal? I mean.

” Breathe. “-w-we should g-go.” Mouth taking a downward turn. for that matter.. “But after we. look. After all. Why is this happening? I get that you have a crazy. but I need to know why. there are a few things. It could have been anyone. this new amendment made the whole thing sound pointless.” he continued. though not before Casey had caught his smell— an overwhelming mixture of mildew and turpentine. “…expectations?” “Well. Her joints stiffened. But were associations with marriage-arranging. Breathe. Do you?” 25 . I’ll go with you. he stepped to her chair and reached out. “I don’t know why this is happening. then. um. “You don’t have a choice in this either. Separate room. Right. um.” “Um. Mr. not to rush you. His hand recoiled. “I’m s-ss-so-s-s-so-s-s-so sorry. and her heart drew tight. of course not. man-eating monsters supposed to make sense? “Well. why didn’t they care whether she stuck around? Her brother had died because her parents had resisted. He was shaking. no. Pierce— Vincent. “I’ll go. he watched her. “He chose this. why me?” For a long moment. and something not unlike compassion welled in her chest. Casey sank back into the chair. and He sees everything. almost as if to touch her. but what had they even been resisting? Three months of living close-quarters with a creep? It didn’t make any sense.“No. He looked down. does your family have…” she cringed. ‘powerful’ family. “Okay. You just… you were unlucky. I get it. You’re free to go live wherever you like. however. if this crazy family had gone through the trouble of binding her into a marriage. wringing his ankles.. There’s a reason— there always is— but I don’t know what it is. his face pinched by sadness. “You won’t have to live with me. get married.” She cast a long glance up at the ceiling before turning her eyes back to the strange creature on her couch. “It’s not you. and he stepped away. Casey. but I don’t think…” Vincent squirmed.” He looked up at her use of his first name.” His hand drew to the bandaged side of his face as a cringe pulled at his reddened mouth. insides clenching. what happens? I mean.” Casey’s joints unwound. married. once we’re. but what do they want with me? And. but w-w-we-” Vincent gazed pointedly at his feet as he stuttered over the word.” Rising from the couch. While the idea of not being indefinitely attached to this man allowed her a few easy breaths.

I am hoping to have the Revised Draft completed by August 2013. “I’m sorry. {Author’s note: Schedule permitting. this will become the first part of a series to be released on Amazon Books. clasped her hands together over her chest. She pulled back.” Casey reached to touch his arm. And that was how Casey met Vincent Pierce. He murmured. too” she murmured. but he flinched away. “No. for Kindle etc. the man who was going to kill her.A gasp left him. Check back for eventual details!} 26 . and for a moment she thought he’d begin crying. but he didn’t.

You're Reading a Free Preview

/*********** DO NOT ALTER ANYTHING BELOW THIS LINE ! ************/ var s_code=s.t();if(s_code)document.write(s_code)//-->