Monday, September 1, 2014

Dusty Video Box Presents: Vendetta! One

created by Melvin L. Hadley
The Final Girl: Chapter 1

On November 1, 1979, as the first rays of the dawn manifested, Alice Ripley shoved the machete forward, blade first, into the abdomen of the large body that barreled towards her. Her eyes were closed, and only through sheer luck was her weapon able to find its mark. After hearing a sound reminiscent of a knife slicing through a thoroughly cooked ham, she slowly opened her eyes and gaped in horror. Her pursuer, a 7-foot tall heavily scarred behemoth of a man, stood trembling before her, his massive hands frozen claw-like above her head. Although his face was concealed within a ceremonial demon-like Japanese mask, Alice could see his head shaking violently, as if trying to withhold his cry of pain and not lose his inhuman presence.

"AHHHHHHHHH!!" she screamed hysterically, shifting all the weight of her lithe frame onto the blade impaled in her tormentor's stomach. This gained immediate results. A defeated animalistic howl bellowed from behind the mask, reverberating in the deserted junkyard. All the fear and frustration Alice had experienced up to that point manifested in a sadistic twist of the handle of the embedded machete, causing a small geyser of blood to erupt from the wound for good measure. The giant before her shuddered violently for one last time before his body went limp, finally thundering lifelessly to the ground, the machete now a permanent attachment to him.

Alice backed away hastily from the body and the glistening pool of liquid crimson that slowly collected around it. She did not stop until her back touched one of the rusty cars making up the other side of the makeshift corridor of junk. Her knees were weak, and she could barely stand from the bizarre mixture of fear and relief that had overtaken her. She stood motionless for a few minutes, her heart pounding so hard that it threatened to explode from her chest, her eyes never leaving the body. She inhaled and exhaled furiously, trying unsuccessfully to calm herself. The sudden silence of the junkyard was deafening, and Alice suddenly remembered that the giant man's "family members" could have heard the commotion and come to investigate. Cursing to herself, she whirled around, snatching in a nervous fury at the door handle of the old Station Wagon in an effort to get it open quickly. After a few tries, the rusted door finally surrendered, squeaking on its hinges as she pulled it open. The young woman's breath caught in her throat as she froze, her ears searching for sounds of anyone approaching. Thankfully, after a minute, there was none.

Slowly, Alice slid her body into the dirty car seat, and with great care, closed the door. Although a thick coat of dust covered the interior of the Wagon, it seemed as if it had just been parked there by a family recently. Cigarette butts filled the ashtray, while an Agatha Christie novel lay open in the backseat, along with a few opened coloring books with crayons spread across them. On the dashboard was a photograph of a family of four, a mother, father, and two daughters. Alice peeled the picture from the dash and inspected it closely. The father looked like a stand-in for the Meathead character from All In The Family, complete with the greasy mustache. The mother, on the other hand, was interchangeable with Diana Prince, glasses and all. The two definitely did not look in shape, and their two daughters looked too young to even consider it. With a sigh of sorrow, Alice returned to picture to the dashboard, finding herself wondering how many days did the family survived in the clutches of the sadists. Were the parents or kids killed outright? Or did they watch each other suffer? Did they even try to escape? The answer was already there; the killers were still going strong, at the pinnacle of their twisted game.

A few minutes later and the numbing effects of the adrenaline wore off and the pain attacked. In the morning sunlight that filtered into the car, Alice inspected her body, taking inventory of her wounds. There were small cuts and bruises on her arms and legs, fresh abrasions on her palms, and a welt that felt like a small mountain on her forehead. Her leg and arm muscles throbbed from hours of evading pursuit from her newfound sadistic foes. Her throat was dry, and her eyelids were heavy. Her long ebony pigtails flew about wildly as she shook her head frantically, trying to dispel the sleep that seduced her. She did not dare close her eyes, because she knew there was a chance that she would never open them again.

She glanced down at her blue and white-checked blood-stained Dorothy dress, realizing for the first time how ragged and dirty it was, a far echo from when she debuted the brand new costume at the Loomis Preparatory Halloween Ball the night before.

Suddenly, her costume was wavy, along with the rest of her surroundings. Remembering the Ball reminded her of Tea, her best friend and the only person on the face of the Earth that she had ever truly loved. Alice wiped the tears trailing down her cheeks, trying to suppress her last memory of her closest companion being dragged literally kicking and screaming into the dreadful bowels of the deserted hospital by another one of the maniacs.

For a moment, she wondered if it was right to think that Tea had received her just desserts. After all, it was Tea's idea to attend the Ball in the first place.


October 30, 1979…
"Hey Monkey!" a male voice shouted over the thunderous purring of the yellow Ford Pontiac as it raced passed. "Hey Monkey, the zoo is that way!" A chorus of laughs followed as the car vanished down the small two-lane road. Alice Ripley did not raise her eyes from the ground to see who it was, and did not care to. She had grown accustomed to the daily racial abuse thrown at her because of her darker skin color. It was useless to retort equally. What would she say? How would she fight? Her opposition at Loomis College Preparatory School were elite white students from all over the state of Kansas, some the sons and daughters of corporate bluebloods; their number were faceless legion. She knew that against all of them, she would not stand a chance.

Adjusting her blue Isis bookbag on her shoulders, the young woman trudged along the road to school, absorbing the fresh morning air and bathing in the young sunshine of the day. She was grateful that there was no rain that day, because she would have been thoroughly soaked at the finish of her seven-mile trek. Along the route were various mansions and well-to-do houses, some with robe-clad men or women picking up the morning paper. Alice never looked in their direction, already knowing what to expect from them. There was always scowling, suspicion, or muted annoyance on their faces. They were probably wondering why an African-American girl was walking through their town of Loomis, Kansas, of all places. They were probably assuming that she was up to no good. With a deep exhale, Alice placed an intangible shield of confidence around her as she continued her walk through the neighborhood, ignoring the dirty glances and the audible grunts. The silver steel gates to the school were visible a block away. She was almost there.

Through the gates she and into the stark three story red brick structure she went. As usual, she had made it to school on time, with plenty of minutes to spare. Around her, other uniformed students brushed past her, some rudely bumping into her or brushing her aside as they rushed to homeroom. Alice kept her head bowed, eyes to her feet, as she weaved through the human obstacle course to her locker. She dared not make eye contact. The slightest would insight the wrath of prejudice towards her.

Opening her locker, the young woman winced slightly, massaging the raised welts on her dark brown arms. Memories of the night before caused her eyes to water slightly. She could still feel the searing pain of the belt as it collided with her skin, the result of saying one-too many words back to her Aunt Cleo. Aunt Cleo was a product of antebellum Baptist religion, and was never above "sparing the rod". In her household, teenage angst and discovery were just another word for sin. The smallest indiscretion was punishable by violent beatings accompanied by violent graphic sermons selected from the Old Testament depicting the horrors of transgression. More than once, Alice had to literally fight to survive her Aunt's discipline, and had the scars and bruises showcasing the numerous "bouts" between them. There was once a teacher that was concerned about Alice's bruises, but after confronting her Aunt about them, he was subsequently fired and never seen again.

As Alice grabbed her schoolbooks from her locker and threw them in her bookbag, her ears picked up a shrill giggle a few feet down the hallway. A look of alarm flashed across her face as she hastily zipped her bag, slammed her locker, and walked swiftly in the opposite direction.

But it was too late.

"Where you off to, Beulah?" a bubbly female voice said.

Alice knew who the owner was before she even turned to face her. Her name was Jamie Strode, an anorexic blonde girl and a junior version of Farrah Fawcett, but with an unnecessary extra layer of makeup on her pale face. Accompanying her, as always, was her slick-backed haired boyfriend Billy Walters, who fancied himself David Cassidy, but always came off as more of a Bob Denver playing-Gilligan-type. Behind him, bringing up the rear was one of the school's few redheads, Derek Simmons, who always wore a mild expression on his face, no matter the situation.

Alice locked eyes with Jamie for a second, before trying to push past them.

"This isn't the time, Jamie." She said calmly. "We're going to be marked late."

"'We're going to be marked late!'" Jamie mocked in a singsong voice, exchanging laughs with her boyfriend. "Look at the little Aunt Jemima, trying to get her edumacation!"

Alice exhaled and rolled her eyes. "If you're trying to insult me, you could at least use the appropriate slur-"

Before she could finish her sentence, Jamie lashed out with a resounding slap across Alice's cheek, causing her head to rock to the side as she stumbled backward, finally falling on her posterior. Her backpack flew from her hand, skidding a few feet from where she landed.

Jamie stalked over and stood over Alice. "You little slut!" She snarled, leaning close to Alice's face. "My family will never forget what your bitch mother did! Never!" Audibly gathering the mucus in her throat, she lobbed a gob of spit at Alice, which scored a direct hit on her face. Laughing in triumph, the malcontent blonde slapped high-fives with her boyfriend, and the pair walked away, arm in arm.

The hallway wavered as Alice's eyes filled with hot tears. Nursing her cheek, she slowly stood to her feet and reached for her book bag, only to find it being offered to her by a hand. Derek stood before her and for the first time since she had known him, had a look of emotion on his face.

It was sympathy.

Biting her lip, she quickly snatched the bag from his hand and ran as fast as she could to the restroom. She passed a teacher, who had his arms crossed and regarding her with a look of pity. He had witnessed the whole thing, but made no attempt to intervene. A sound like thunder echoed in the girl's bathroom as she exploded through the door. Futilely trying to maintain her composure, she quickly washed her face in the sink, and then looked in the mirror. A slender black girl with a nearly invisible bruise on her cheek and shoulder-length black hair stared back at her.


Did she look like her mother too much? Would she ever escape the curse of her mother's crime? Before she could explore that train of thought further, a stall door opened behind her, and a girl emerged. She was beautiful, with a glossy brunette mane styled in an exact replica of Jaclyn Smith and full red lips, tightened stubbornly around a lit cigarette. Her school uniform seemed to be two sizes small, and clung to her like a second skin.

"That bitch will never drop that grudge, will she?" she said in an annoyed tone, blowing a thin oval of smoke from her lips.

Alice wiped her eyes. "No. Problem is, I don't know if I should blame her or not."

The girl shook her head as she sat on the sink. "Look, Alice. You gotta learn that what your momma did doesn't give little Jamie the right to put her fucking hands on-"

"Tea!" Alice growled, visually flinching. "Language, please."

Tea chuckled, taking a puff from her cigarette. "See how direct you were just now? Apply that to Jamie, and pow! Out like a candle…"

"But I can't do that, Tea. Violence just brings more problems, not solve them."

"Bullshit!" Tea scoffed. "You letting that Wonder Woman and Isis shit go to your-"

"Tea, please. No profanity."

Tea was quiet for a minute, regarding her friend with a strange look. "You know, your aunt has really screwed you up. Seriously."

Alice said nothing, reaching for her bookbag. "I gotta run before I'm marked tardy again. See you by the basketball court?"

"Hold up." Tea grinded her cigarette on the porcelain surface and stood up, fishing around in the pockets of her uniform jacket. She withdrew a folded piece of waxy paper, handing it to Alice. Admiring the frictionless feel of the paper for a few seconds, Alice opened it slowly, her brown eyes lighting up upon what was revealed. A brilliant symphony of colors formed large bold letters, while a college of costumed teenagers danced under a silver glow-in-the-dark disco ball.


"Where did you get this?" Alice asked, a smile slowly tugging at the corners of her mouth.

"They're practically posted everywhere." Tea answered, shoving her hands in her jacket's pockets. "And before you even start, you can't back out on me this time."

The slow-spreading beam on Alice's face quickly vanished. There were many reasons she avoided looking at those glossy posters displayed on every other inch of the wall space at her school.

"But…I can't, Tea…" she sighed mournfully, visually shrinking back in fear. "You know how my Aunt is. I'll really 'get it' if she finds out about this." She clenched and unclenched her fingers nervously, battling the temptation to attend the annual event, the biggest party of the year for the small town teenage crowd. Even for the students whose social status was the equivalent of mud, this party was their chance to throw their inhibitions to the wind and hang out with the social elite of the school. In her three years of attending Loomis Prep, Alice had never been to the Ball…and she doubted her no-show record would change now.

But, as usual, Tea refused to accept no, especially a mournful one, as an answer. "No, we're not having this this time!" she snarled, balling her fingers into a fist and punching one of the stall doors. "You owe me, remember? You promised you'd attend with me this year! I can't believe we're missing out on another one because of your fucked-up Aunt!!"

Alice flinched, turning away and looking at the mirror. She really hated when her friend swore uncontrollably like that. But, in the depths of her heart, she knew Tea was right. Her Aunt had barred her from many adolescent social functions because of her twisted religious viewpoint of the world.

"But that was months ago…" she mounted a weak defense.

"So?" Tea snapped back. "A deal's a deal. Look, we'll deal with that bridge when we cross it. Any other pointless excuses?"

Alice nodded towards the mirror. "I'm not exactly the captain of the cheerleading squad here, if you catch my drift."

"If any of those assholes want to ruin their night, let them." Tea said solemnly, stepping next to Alice and throwing an arm around her neck. "But Alice, you gonna have to show them that you're not afraid of them. You're gonna have to show them that you're human…and the only way you can do that is on a very basic level. The Party Level!"

Just as Alice was about to comment on her friend's pseudo-philosophy, the school bell reverberated through the hallways. "Oh God, I'm late!" she squealed, grabbing her bookbag, and dashing to the door. "This is all your fault, you hear me?!"

"Much obliged!" Tea shouted, lazily leaning against the sink and waving to the retreating girl. "Don't grow a yellow streak on me, you hear? I got everything planned out, okay? OKAY?!"

"Got you!" Alice cried over her shoulder before vanishing through the doorway into the mob of students racing to their first class of the day.


October 31, 1979…
Her Aunt was more cooperative and trusting than she could ever remember. Tea had a way with persuasion that could not be defended against. It only took a little while for her best friend to convince her domineering Aunt about the importance of the Ball to Alice's life. For the first time since she had come to live with her relative, Alice was granted permission to experience a social existence outside the four walls of her sterile room.

Halloween Night could not come fast enough. The day flowed at a snail's pace, but the headmaster generously released the students at lunchtime to prepare for the coming nocturnal festivities. It did not take long for Alice and Tea to return to her home, thanks to gaining the use of her Aunt's midnight black Buick LeSabre. It felt as if Alice was lost in a dream; never had her Aunt displayed such compassion towards least not true compassion.

The mansion was empty when they arrived. Her Aunt had uncharacteristically stepped out, leaving the place to them. The girls changed unhindered in Alice's bedroom. As Tea promised, she had planned everything, which included Alice's costume, which was the famous ensemble of Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz, complete with ruby sequined Candies. Tea, half in order to keep the theme of what she termed the "Good ol' Girls", and half as a joke, decided to attend the party as Daisy Duke from The Dukes of Hazzard.

The Ball was being held in a newly renovated and reinforced barn a dozen miles north of Loomis, and the drive there took 30 minutes. Tea drove while Alice watched the rows of the tall stalks of corn merge into a blurred line as they raced down the two lane highway around dusk. Alice squinted as the air brushed past her face from the rolled down car window, tossing her newly formed pigtails about. She had heard the term freedom spoken hundreds of times, but finally knew how it actually felt.

The massive farm structure, the inanimate host of the celebration, loomed before them, the epitome of isolation against the backdrop of shadowy drenched cornfields. A broken down tractor set near the barn door entrance as laughing film icons, storybook legends, and fantasy characters, formerly fellow students, streamed in. The very air around the barn throbbed with the vocals of KC and the Sunshine Band's "Shake Your Booty".

"We're here!" Tea announced triumphantly in a singsong voice, turning the engine of the LeSabre off and looking at her friend. Alice's lip trembled as a look of fright flashed over her face.

"Alice...come on, kid..." Tea reached over and caressed her friend's hand, trying to calm her. "The Party Level, remember? You're here to have fun, now. Got nothing to be afraid of..."

Alice glanced into her companion's emerald eyes, gathering solace and courage from them. "Here to enjoy myself." She repeated, her conviction growing stronger. "Here to enjoy myself."

Tea nodded, satisfied, and opened the car door. "Now let's get in there before they put on that shitty Rod Stewart music!" she shouted ecstatically. "WOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!"

Alice stepped out of the car slowly, feeling as if she was about to attempt the first step before a firing squad as opposed to just a party. Her heart thundered in her chest. She took a few breaths to calm down, leaning against the car for support. Tea had pressed on ahead, but turned back to check on her friend.

"You alright, girl?" she asked, her voice radiating with concern.

Alice nodded weakly. "I'm such a drag, aren't I?"

Tea shook her head. "Hey, cut yourself some slack. This is a new experience for you...kind of like your first time."

"My first time?" Alice gave her a puzzled look.

"You know..." Tea trailed off, thrusting forward with her pelvis. "Your first time. Doing it."

"Doing disco?"

"Yeah. Yeah, that's it." Tea shook her head shamefully while petting Alice on the head. "Now let's go. Remember, chin up, ass out, assets flaunted. You gotta show these numbnuts that you're somebody."

Alice nodded silently, meekly obeying the laundry list of grace laid out before her. The two sauntered erotically to the rhythm of "Staying Alive" as they entered the Barn. Crossing the threshold, Alice stood riveted to the spot, overwhelmed by the sights and sounds of this newfound experience. Overhead, a collection of silver disco balls splashed silver squares across the crowded dance floor filled with gyrating bodies. Fog projected from machine maintained a haunting atmosphere, while darkened jack o' lanterns were lined every wall of the barn, leering at the guests with cookie cutter faces.

"Stick with me, kid." Tea grinned, shouting over the music. "I'll show you how to behave badly…and like it!"

"Er…okay." Alice said submissively. Suddenly, she felt so small, so insignificant, compared to the costumed mob on the wooden dance floor before her.

"Is…is that how…marijuana smell?" she coughed, her nostrils burning with the unfamiliar aroma as her eyes watered. A quick search of the room located a small group of students passing a joint amongst themselves.

"Come on!" Tea shouted, practically pulling Alice's arm out of her socket as she maneuvered through a human maze of Supermen, Cyclons, and vampires. They stopped in the midst of the horde, Tea dancing to the rhythm of the music while Alice watched with a look of inexperience and worry scrawled on her face. There were a few astonished or dirty stares, but mostly the people performing them soon went back to dancing.

"Dance!" Tea giggled, grabbing her friend's dark brown arms and jumping up and down wildly. "You can do it!!"

Alice gave in to the infectious fervor that her friend radiated, and soon she was bouncing awkwardly to the tempo of "Love Rollercoaster". A newfound feeling surged through her, a euphoria that conquered her senses. For the first time in her life, she felt uncaged and burdenless.

"What is she doing here?!" she heard someone yell, snapping her out of her rapture.

The crowd seemingly parted as Jamie Strode, squeezed into a tight Marilyn Munroe gown, and her boyfriend, dressed as Elvis, sauntered arrogantly up to Alice and Tea.

"Didn't you see the sign, darkie?" Jamie snorted, waving a finger in Alice's face. "No whores allowed."

"Uh-Huh!" Billy chimed in Elvis-like, with a sneer.

"Leave me alone, Jamie." Alice said quietly, in a warning tone which surprised even herself. Where did that come from?

"You have no right to be he-" the blonde squealed, her hands reaching for Alice's dress in an attempt to rip it off.

Tea was a literal blur, her hand sliding into her back pocket of her cutoffs and flashing up to Jamie's neck before the last syllable had formed on her lips

"That's not how you talk to a civilized lady, motherfucker." She growled through clenched teeth. "I'm tired of this racial bullshit, and I know my pal has had it. Use nice words when talking to her from now on or I'll cut your little breasts into teeny tiny puzzle pieces. Hear me?"

Jamie nodded timidly, her face drained colorless, standing on her tiptoes as Tea pressed the ice-cold tip of her switchblade on her neck. "Sorry…Alice…" she whispered. Her boyfriend stood frozen, his mouth opened in shock.

"Hmmmm…that's a start." Tea said, withdrawing her blade, and with a flick of the wrist, collapsed it. She felt a hand on her wrist, and glanced into the dark brown eyes of the owner.

"Tea, you didn't have to do that." Alice reprimanded her friend.

"But it got my point across." The brunette replied smugly. "Besides, it got Elvis here to pee his pants."

All eyes fell on Billy's ivory pants, and sure enough, a visual yellow streak trailed down the side of his leg to a matching puddle on the floor by his shoes. Clutching her neck, Jamie snatched her boyfriend by the cape and dragged him away, his face bright red with embarrassment.

"That was still unnecessary." Alice said with a frown towards her friend.

"Can't hear you!" Tea squealed, dancing away from her friend and merging with the other partygoers. As much as Alice tried to search the crowd for her, she could find no sign of the tall brunette.

"Tea!" she screamed, almost in tears, over the music, hoping to catch a glimpse of her friend. "Tea!! I can't…I can't do this by myself…"

Suddenly, her eyes fell on Derek Simmons, clad in a replica of Tony Manero's white disco outfit. He stood silently before her, close enough that she was bombarded by his aftershave. She took a cautious step back, her gaze lingering at her feet, her face feeling strangely hot. She prayed silently that he would go away.

He took a step forward, undeterred, slowly reaching for her face. His fingers felt like fire as they graced her cheeks, gently pushing her face up to look into her eyes. Alice submissively obeyed, her gaze locking with his. His eyes were ocean blue, and warm. Suddenly, the other dancers surrounding them meant nothing, and they were the only two in the entire area. But, just as suddenly, she began to feel an uncontrollable trembling seize her, traveling through her hands and up her arms. The dance floor began to spin as a bout of dizziness swiftly overcame her. In her mind's eye, random images flashed like a runaway projector. Her hand, with broken fingernails, clawing at dirt. A man in a leathery mask placing a silencing finger to his lips. A pain that felt as if she was literally being pulled apart.

The lights were loud. The music was blinding. Her world was a dazzling blur of faces as gravity became no more. Her body felt lightless as she teetered on her heels and fell backward.


November 1, 1979…
It was three knocks that jarred her awake from her slumber.

They had found her!!

If only she had not fallen asleep!

Already her hand darted around the seats of the car searching for a makeshift weapon as she slouched further down in her seat. Her hunt yielded something short, cool, and smooth. She drew it into her line of vision. A crayon?! An exasperated sob escaped her lip. Wasn't there even a pen in this old heap?!

Three knocks happened again.

Whimpering, she wedged herself in the small footspace, huddling as tight as she could get. She reprimanded herself for falling asleep so easily as she held her breath, her eyes squeezed shut, hoping that her pursuers would pay no mind to her hiding place. Her heartbeat had never sounded so loud before.

"Alice! Hey kid, you in there?" a familiar voice cried weakly, as a blurry face peered through the door window of the Station Wagon and shook the door handle. Alice's eyes widened in astonishment as she instantly recognized who it was. She became a blur as she crawled out of her hiding space, threw open the door, and threw her arms around her dearest friend.

"Tea!!" she sobbed joyfully, pulling back to inspect her. "Thank you, God! Is it really you? Did they hurt you? Are you all right? Are you all there?!"

"C'mon, I'm too beat-up to play twenty questions!" Tea whined. Her raven hair was disheveled, and her face was covered with dust. Her tank top mirrored Alice's dress, covered with random spots of dried blood, none which looked as if it was hers.

"How did you escape?" Alice asked nervously, glancing around to make sure they were not being watched.

"Trade secret." Tea quipped with a wink, before she spotted the huge man felled by Alice earlier, the machete still sticking upward in his chest.

"Looks like you've been channeling that aggression like I told you." She said with a low whistle. Walking over to the dead maniac, she knelt down for a closer look. "But this isn't Jamie."

"We have to go, Tea. Now." Alice declared, anxiously twisting her pigtail around her finger. "You've seen how horrible they are! Please…let's just get far away from here. Please."

"And do what, my little pretty?" Tea replied, walking over the dried-up pond of blood and sitting on the large man's chest with his head between her legs. "Always be on the run from these guys? Call the fucking police? Call the president for a nuclear strike on this hellhole? Please. That shit never works."

Her hands lingered on the mask. It did not take much to pry it off. Alice initially turned her head in order to not see what lied beneath, because anyone wearing a mask definitely had something to hide. However, curiosity drew her eyes back to the sight, and she nearly shriek in horror.

Underneath the mask was nothing more than a mass of shapeless vein-filled flesh. No eyes or mouth could be seen, but two holes seemed to form a nose of some sort. Huge gashes were dug in the skin, held together by stitches that were literally stapled to the skin. Together, the gashes seemed to form a symbol of sorts.

"My God…" Alice gasped, feeling sick to her stomach and weak in her knees. She turned away, not being able to stare at the face for another second.

"No wonder this guy had anger problems…" Tea chuckled weakly, tossing the mask casually over her shoulder. "This is a face a mother would spit at. Where's a damn camera when ya need one?"

"Tea!" Alice stamped her foot, her hands balled at her sides. "We need to leave now! Please…before they start to search for us!"

Tea stood up and stretched, walking over to the Station Wagon and leaning against it. She pulled out a battered box of cigarettes, slapped it against her palm, and drew out one. Placing it to her mouth, she lit it with a match and blew out a small cloud of smoke.

"They're human." She said after a moment of silence. "We're not going anywhere."

"Excuse me?" Alice's mouth dropped in disbelief. "I think I just heard you say we're not going anywhere."

Tea nodded. "Me and you, Alice. We can be like Charlie's Angels. Or Starsky and Hutch. Or Electra Woman and…you get the picture."

"No. No!" Alice cried, stalking up to her friend and staring her directly in the face. "Are you stoned?! We're talking about cold-blooded real-life killers here, Tea. Cannibal killers. I watched them eat a man's foot raw. Toes first. I am not about to become a full course meal for these monsters!!"

"Then kill them." Tea replied challengingly. "You know you want to. You know how easy it is."

Alice slowly turned to look upon her handiwork, her slewed Goliath. A shiver traveled through her body. She remembered the sensation she experienced in that adrenaline-filled moment, as the machete plunged into his torso. It was a bizarre mixture of unbridled passion and dominant power, a feeling that she had wished to last forever. A surge of guilt hit her. No matter the circumstance, she had just taken a life. She was no better than the freaks they were running from.

"No…I can't." Alice admitted quietly, her head bowed in shame. "I just want to go home, Tea. Just want to go home."

"Why trade one hellhole for another?" Tea blew another puff of smoke. "What the difference between this fucked-up place and Loomis, huh? You'll die in both. At least here, ya got a scraping chance. You got a chance to get back at those motherfuckers for killing Derek, and nearly killing me!"

"I'm going home." Alice said, determined, turning her back towards Tea and walking off. The offer was tempting. But she did not want to kill.

She did not want to end up like her mother.

"Alice!" Tea shouted after her. "Alice! Think about it! We can become famous! Everyone at home would have no choice but to love you! Think about all of the victims killed here! Their souls are crying out for vengeance, damnit!"

But Alice did not stop. She was now at the edge of the junked car corridor, and could see an evergreen plain that stretched towards the horizon. She could not recognize the location.

"You can't survive without me!" Tea's voice reached her ears. Alice stopped midstep, sighing deeply. It was true. She could not imagine life without her closest confidant. Hiding tears of frustration, she whirled around and returned to the location. As she drew near, Tea discarded her cigarette and grinded it under her right pump.

"And I can't survive without you." She finished, placing her hands on Alice's shoulders. "If you can't do it for anyone else, do it for your mother."

Alice averted her gaze, looking at the ground. "Why her? Why did you have to remind me of her?"

"Because this is your chance for retribution. For her sins."


The word stirred something inside her. She looked into Tea's eyes once again, drawing upon the solace and courage that was always prominent in them. Maybe there was some truth to her words. Maybe she could gain retribution in her mother's name. Maybe she could become famous and everyone in Loomis would finally accept her for what she was. And gaining some measure of revenge for the deaths of Derek and her classmates sounded like an added bonus as well. She hoped they could come up with a clever plan to capture the killers.

She hoped not to kill ever again.

"Okay." She said with a deep breath. "What the hell."

Tea was taken aback. "Huh? Did you just *gasp* cursed?"

"I plead insanity." Alice shrugged. "So…ready?"

Tea nodded solemnly and withdrew her switchblade, which came out with an audible click. "Born ready." She acknowledged. "But you're going to need a weapon, right?"

Alice chewed on her bottom lip nervously, knowing what came next. Her eyes shot to the machete impaled in the man's chest. It seemed to call out to her, glistening in the setting sun. Her steps were slow towards it; she wanted the walk to last forever. The blood-soaked ground squished under her feet and she set one of them on the dead man's leg. Her left hand slowly grasped the well-worn handle of the tool, and it felt as if a tinge of electricity surged through her. With a hearty grunt, she pulled the weapon from the body and held it before her, blood dripping from the tip of the blade.

"Promise me something, Tea." She said after staring at the blade for a moment.


"Promise me…that I won't become my mother."

"I promise." Tea said, silently crossing her fingers behind her back.

To Be Continued…


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