A million pieces
It all started in the school yard the day he heard our friend Tom say if you cut a worm in half, it can re-grow the missing part. He didn’t stop to question why anyone would cut a worm in half. Nor did he research the veracity of the statement (which statement, actually, is incorrect; if you cut in just the right spot, the head can regrow a tail…but I digress). Rather, it planted a seed, a dark seed as it turns out, in the recesses of his mind.
When he got home from school that day, he told his mother about what he’d heard with regard to worms and said, “If that worked for people, I would cut you into a million pieces. The world would be a much better place if there were a million of you. You’re my favorite person in the whole world, Mama. I love you.”
His mother’s expression said she wasn’t sure if she should be happy or terrified but she smiled and hugged him, saying, “I love you, too, Jackie. Now you go on outside and play. Billy’s at the back door waiting on you.”
And the moment was promptly forgotten…by Jackie’s mom.
Some ten years later, Laurie Mae Parker disappeared. She was the sweetest girl in Ellaville. When they finally found her, she was buried in a field outside of town. They knew it was her simply because they found the head. The body, however, was…in pieces.
It was the most gruesome, most horrible thing anyone had ever heard of in Elaville. Parents were terrified to let their children go out and play since Sheriff Jackson had no suspects and no clues.
Days, weeks, months passed and nothing else happened; life went on and people began to forget.
Until Georgia Ann Baker disappeared. She was a saint, people used to say. So kind to everyone – children, animals, old people. Unlike the rest of Elaville, Sheriff Jackson hadn’t forgotten Laurie Mae Parker and so he started the search at the same field. The dirt had clearly been recently turned and it didn’t take much digging to find the first pieces. Not long after, they found the head and that was that.
Aside from the grisly nature of the murders, the sheriff was curious about the pattern. He told the boys at the bar, yeah, it was two young, sweet girls, but it was the pattern in the soil that got him. The killer planted the pieces in rows. Row after row. As if he – or she – was planting tobacco or cotton. Not that any killing made sense, but that just seemed to be more than just a little unusual.
Within a year there had been two more murders and Sheriff Jackson was contacted by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation(GBI). They had noticed the cases and, apparently, had found some similar ones in Zebulon, Butler, Smithville and Leesburg. They called it the Route 19 case because, well, all the killings were in towns along Route 19. (Not very original. I am partial to A million pieces, myself.) Sheriff Jackson sent them what information he had, which really wasn’t much, and passed the investigation on to the GBI.
Meanwhile, little Jackie was no longer little. He was a young man, working at Bob’s Hardware. He was Bob’s delivery man. He had started working after school when he was 16 and Bob took him on full time after he graduated. He was a little different, Bob was heard to say while tapping his head, but he worked hard and followed orders. Bob even let him use the company’s pick-up truck as his own, as long as he kept it clean. Jackie, or Jack, as he had asked to be called on his 13th birthday, kept the truck Clorox clean.
His pretty little mama had gone and left him a year earlier, surprising everyone. She had doted on Jack, and him on her, so everyone was shocked when Jack came into church one Sunday crying and moaning that his mama was gone. They thought she’d passed and that he needed help making arrangements, but no, Jackie said. She’s just gone. I must have done it wrong and now she’s gone. Everyone was a little confused, wondering what he could have done wrong that would make his mama leave him, but they just shook their heads, whispering behind their hands and patted him on the shoulder as they took their seats for Reverend Samuel’s service.
It wasn’t too much later that Laurie Mae Parker disappeared.
And then Georgia Ann Baker.
And the others along Route 19…the main road one might take to make deliveries. Just saying…not sure why Sheriff Jackson didn’t make that connection. It was a clue I hadn’t thought about earlier. But someone at the GBI finally did. And that same agent also discovered that all the young ladies were customers of Bob’s Hardware. All the victims' parents remembered the nice young man who had made a delivery to their home. Couldn’t be him, I don’t know how you could even think so, they all said. They had detectives following him day and night for two months before he stalked Ginger Pittsfield. They grabbed him just after he grabbed her…fortunately, before he brought her to me.
He was heard to say, but it was gonna work this time, I just know it, as the GBI led him away in handcuffs.
I run a finger down the side of your face, you gasp and turn your head a futile struggle against your bindings. You can't see me but I've never seen anyone so clearly in my life. "Hello?" You whimper. "I'm right here, love." You flinch away as if I'd struck you, I'd never hit you without reason, you'd know that if you weren't panicking but it's okay, I forgive you. We just play the roles we've been given. You begin to sob, your eyes are covered in a black cloth leaving your shuddering body and wailing mouth the only signs. "Where the fuck am I?!" You scream, I furrow my brows, like you don't already know? "Shut Up." I demand but the way I say it doesn't come off clearly enough, I'm sure. Why else would you still be crying? You scream even louder and I'm forced to straddle you, "SHUTUPSHUTUP." My words slur together my face goes red but you won't stop screaming. I've lost control of the situation. I pull a knife from the table, it glides effortlessly across your neck, red ribbons cling to your skin, What a shame, You're my favorite.
The boy watches the sun set, dreading the darkness that follows. He begins to glance periodically at the old clock on the wall, its hands edging towards the night so threateningly. He plays with his dinner, a catch in his throat, as his mother watches him in worry. She does not know why her son is paler and more withdrawn with each passing day. He hasn’t told her or his father. He wants to be brave, not the silly little coward his friends had made him out to be when he told them two days ago, when it began. Still, as bedtime prowls, his heart beats faster and his knees grow weaker.
That night, he feels heavy. He shivers under the sheets and watches the shadows of trees against the streetlights dance on his walls. He thinks he sees glowering eyes. He thinks he hears someone. He stays in bed until he feels suffocated, like he may die if he spends another moment in the room- if there is really a sixth sense, it is screaming now. He jumps out of bed and stumbles into the neighbouring room, into the arms of his sleeping parents. His father doesn’t stir, but his mother wakes when she feels her trembling son crawl into bed next to her. Tears well in her eyes and she hugs him close, wondering if he’s being bullied, and whether he needs to see a school counsellor or a therapist. There isn’t enough room on the bed, she waits until his breathing calms to a regular rhythm. When she feels sure he’s asleep, she slips out of the bed into his room.
She is pale the next morning, and quieter than usual. She isn’t sure why. The next night is the same. Her son crawls in. She tries to wake her husband up this time, to see if he will move instead, but he grunts and rolls over. The following morning, they watch her clutch her steaming coffee mug until it turns cold. She stays at the dining table for the better part of the day. Meanwhile, her son hasn’t told her what bothers him, and she toys with the idea of therapy and dealing with bullies, an unconnected yet unsettling feeling lingering in the back of her mind. Two pairs of eyes shoot worried glances at the clock when the sun sets that evening. When her son crawls into their bed once more, she decides to sleep on the couch downstairs. She can’t say why, the instinct doesn’t reveal a reason she understands. When the sun rises, her husband walks downstairs to find her on the couch and asks her why. She shrugs. She isn’t as pale as she was the previous morning, though she’s stiff from an uncomfortable night of sleep.
The irritated father, sympathetic of his wife, has stern words with his son. He forbids him from disturbing his mother henceforth. The parents are undisturbed for a longer while that night, but that ends when the boy nudges his father awake, tears streaming down his cheeks. His father sighs in lethargic defeat and trudges to sleep in his son’s room that night. The mother and son don’t notice a change in him the next morning. He’s only a little more tired than usual. He silences some inexplicable nagging in the back of his mind with ease. He grumbles on the way to his son’s room when he’s disturbed yet again that night, and the night after that. After a lengthy discussion with his wife, they decide to explore options for therapy. He decides to exchange rooms with the boy until he’s better again. On the fourth night, he chuckles and wonders out loud why he seems to be the only one who can manage to catch a good night’s sleep in his son’s little room. His face falls when he hears a reply in a grating whisper. “You’re my favourite.”
"This one, I like this one." Before the businessman and the group of scientists is a glass chamber with a sterile-white floor and ceiling.
There, sitting cross-legged on the ground, was a carbon copy of him. The original man, Xerox Emson, is the head of this facility's organization, a cloning company called Rorrim Images. The workers in this facility hadn't been surprised when their boss requested a product to use as a body double in commercials and public speaking, but were suprised when he seemed to turn down other Copies over this one. After all, this had been their first version of Emson that carried a few noticible flaws, including a slightly off BMI and a few more birthmarks than the Original. And outside of physical differences, this clone possessed a lower score of empathy and noted outbursts of violence toward his caretakers.
Dr. Deron Durrinell, the organizer of this project, had determined that this Prototype Sample had increased traits of psychopathy from his Original Copy.
Despite hearing of all of this through intern Zarina, Emson continues to have eyes on the Prototype. "He's perfectly imperfect as our company's representative. Close enough to my appearance that people will listen to him, but different enough to grab the attention of the tabloids- I'll take it!"
As he heard this faintly through the thick glass that separated them, Prototype stands up and begins walking toward them. He wears vantablack (the color for First Copies) clothes that heavily contrast with his bleached surroundings, and chains on his feet and hands that clink, alerting them of his movements. He stops just before the barrier, his breath fogging the glass.
"Did you hear that?" Emson waves a little too excitedly to his clone. "You're my first choice as a sort of mascot- no, the face- of our company. I've even given you a name already: Parox, short for Paradox. Just like me, but also not!"
Parox stares back at him blankly, thinking over what his Original had just said.
"Damn, I think he's considering it." The business man laughs to the scientists, them joining in nervously. "I'll say it again: You're my favorite of these other folks." He gestures to the neighboring Copies in their own clear cubicles. They're either looking at the commotion or being sent off for other purposes, now that Emson has made his decision.
Finally, the Prototype responds: he smiles eerily, baring his teeth on the glass. "I wish I could say the same, brother."
For the interns stationed around the chamber, time seems to slow as they catch sight of a growing crack around the supposedly-bulletproof glass, a spiderweb stretching from the contact of Parox's mouth on the barrier outward. His smile keeps growing with it, and to his horror, the eyewitness Emson realizes that his clone had been chattering his teeth. Whether it was a simple case of the butterfly effect or another of the Prototype's unknown mutations, an opening was being made.
With the poke of his pointer fingers, Parox shattered the ten foot tall wall of glass, transparent shards raining on interns who are thinking "I didn't sign up for this shit today". The clone rolls his shoulders to brush off the glass, looking around at the screaming scientists and frozen Emson. He walks over to them, his feet now as quiet as a jaguar's advancing to his prey.
"Am I still your favorite?" He pulls apart his arms and legs and the steel cuffs snap like twigs. "Or are you going to just use my organs like the others?" He reaches out and wipes the blood from a cut on his Original's paled face.
"Or, better yet, if you like me so much, why don't you let me live your life instead? You could use a more... capable replacement, for your company and all."
Xerox Emson's neck, also claimed to be steel, snaps like a twig too.
Mommy, I have a Spork and a Teddy Bear!
"You're my favorite"
"Aw, that's adorable dear! Your favorite what?" The little boy looking up at his mother in her slightly dirty blue polka dot sundress and smiles at the words. The mother's hands shake slightly, unarmed by the malicious smile painted on the face of her innocent child.
"My favorite toy"
"Toy, honey?" The shakes were more violent now, leaking into her voice as the small boy took a minuscule step forward.
"Aren't you a toy?" The little boy's head cocks to the side, child-like confusion scrunching his face.
"Darling... Put it down, please."
"But mommy! You're my toy and I wanna play!"
"I wanna play!" Rage overtakes his round face, his grip on the handle turning his little fist white like the face of his father who now sits propped in the corner, drained of blood. "I wanna play! I wanna play!" The words leave his lips in rapid succession, each word louder, shriller. Each syllable causes a shudder of realization to barrel down her spine; she birthed a monster. In fact, that's her last thought as the little boy lunges.
After the little boy finally sits, tired, he rocks back and forth with a grin slightly too large for his tiny features.
"Darling? Are you ok?" The woman peeks her head in, her eyes slightly widening at the sight of the boy with a spork, surrounded by stuffing and bits of a shredded teddy bear in his mouth. She had given him that teddy bear as his birthday gift.
The boy looks up.
"Your blood tasted funny in my dream. I've forgotten the taste, I need to jog my memory Pretty please?"
The woman looks at the boy in shock, the white walls of the room blend right in with the paleness of his skin. Poor boy hasn't been allowed outside that room for 6 years now.
The boy stands, eyes gleaming bright as he clutched onto the plastic spork like a knife. The woman springs to action.
"He's at it again" The woman mumbles into the walkie talkie at her hip as she backs up and slams the door shut, he bangs his broadening shoulder into the cushioned door over and over, screaming for his 'mommy'.
She turns and walks down the dimly lit hallway as a male nurse comes to retrain him again, the screams of other people just like him guiding her way.
A Heart Beneath the Fur
Wolf Man...you're my favorite! You didn't choose your violent destiny! It's not your fault that you were bitten by a ravenous wolf; which, unfortunately, turned you into the same during every relentless, full moon.
You, as a man, Larry Talbot (nice looking I might add), with decency and sincerity, tried to warn people that you needed to be locked up, behind closed doors, to keep you from killing innocent people, who may just be in your fateful path. It's not your fault that mankind thought you were crazy! Your acting like a lunatic did you no good!
Sadly, Larry Talbot, aka Wolf Man, you met with a fatal silver bullet. Ironically, that shot was fired, by Gwen, the woman you loved, while you were under the guise of being a wolf in a running pursuit of a frantic and scared woman.
Even in the end, you wouldn't and couldn't hurt Gwen, because you had a gentle heart hidden under that furry exterior; and, you took that final blow as a true testament to your love for her.
So, sadly, I say goodbye, Larry Talbot, aka Wolf Man; your tragic love story lives on in the hearts of those who love the classic, black-and-white horror movies...like me and many, many others Rest in peace, my misunderstood, furry friend.
“You’re my favorite”. I heard him whisper in her ear. Her pale grey eyes wide. I strained to see what was happening. He was just sitting there with his face pressed into her hair. I thought he was smelling it. But when I looked and I mean really looked he was licking it. I saw his tongue gliding across the top of her head and as he lifted his head he saw me looking at him. And he smiled. That smile was terrifying. I’ve never been so scared of a smile in my life. I pulled my gaze from him and saw the girl or what was left of her. I wonder what color her eyes were before they turned this murky grey. I wonder whether or not she laughed or maybe she was a bitch and deserved this. This man stood now. It’s funny because to look at him as an average man on the street he doesn’t look scary. But here in this dark dirty space he’s quite terrifying. He has that short thin comb over hair. Basic brown is what I would call the color the same as his eyes. He's tall and skinny and slouchy. He shouldn’t be scary but right now I am terrified and I am pretty sure that warmth I’m feeling is pee flowing down my leg. I watch him walk over to me. My hands are tied to an eye hook in the wall. He stands over me smiling that same smile. He reaches his hand down towards me and says “You’re my favorite”
"Please, let us go..." Fiona says. Always the brave one, she is.
"Please, let us go," I mock, my face twisting into a sneer. "Now, that won't be any fun, will it?"
My trusty dagger hangs from my hands as I gesture lazily towards the ropes binding my prey. "Go on. Escape! The next and last thing you will ever know will be this blade in your throat," I remark.
The faces of my prey stare back at me, worn and weary, shining with pain. Various deep scratches litter their bodies, coupled with multiple bruises. My work, of course.
Fiona glances briefly at the heap of lifeless bodies at the back of the room, put there both to terrify and feed my prey. Nervously, she glances at the others, before throwing off her bindings. Mild astonishment jolts through me. How long was she planning this? I direct my eyes towards Fiona, rushing towards the door.
Just before she reaches it, my hand strikes out, flinging my needle-sharp dagger across the room. It hits her gut, sending her to the floor as she cries out in pain. Slowly, like a predator hunting its prey, I get up from my chair and stalk towards Fiona. I twist the dagger around before pulling it out, relishing the pained tears and horror-struck gasps.
Stabbing the dagger one final time into Fiona's heart, I look her squarely in the eye.
"What a shame, you were my favourite," I drawl. "Guess I'll have to find another to play with."
Everyone else seems to shrink into themselves.