Down the Drain, Down the Drain

Stunned by the sight before them, the remaining quintet stood in the parking lot as the blueish-green, corpselike body of what was once their friend walked toward them from the water. Even from the long-distance, they could make out the yellow reflection in her eyes and glowing growth and death at her feet, but mostly they could make out her smile. A smile so large that it distorted her face and warped her lips and teeth into a terrifying rictus.

Down the Drain

“We have to get out of here,” Angelica murmured, “We have to keep moving.”

Glossy, tearful eye-contact was made among the group as they took their supplies and turned and ran toward the market at the edge of town. Deep into the darkness, they ran, trying not to look back, trying not to talk, trying not to cry, trying not to think, but Angelica did.

For the first time in as long as she could remember she hoped that her dad would find her, that he would come to her rescue. He hadn’t been there for her much. Maybe that wasn’t fair. He had been there, just maybe not in the ways that she wanted or needed him to be. He was a deeply critical man and that can leave scars on a child, driving the course of their lives toward self-destruction, or at least counseling.

For all of his belittling commentary and biting wit, he was there. Most of the time she felt that he was just there to tell her what she was doing wrong, tell her she had to be better, inform her of all of his unattainable expectations and hopelessly lofty goals. Not his goals for himself, but his goals for her. She had come to a point of forgiveness, however, she’d hit the age a while ago where she had become aware that his drive for her success was his weaknesses in himself, that his words to her were forgotten interpretations of his father’s words to him. He didn’t mean it, but how often it is that we hold grudges and carry scars from inflictions that were not malicious. Probably most of them, if not all?

As she ran, she told herself that if there was a part of her that did not forgive him, if he saved her, she would forgive it.

As she ran, she told herself that if there is a part of him that she has refused to understand, if he saved her, she would try harder.

As she ran, she remembered times when he was and was not there. He was there when he had to be. Those times that threaten a parent’s safety, threaten a parent’s reputation. Times like her saxophone recital and the meeting with the principal that followed due to her pulling down the pants and underwear of Geoffery Taylor in the ninth grade. It was the first penis she had ever seen in person and up until now, the memory was burned into the back of her mind. Now, most of the memory was gone. What was once a memory that was hers, a defining memory of her youth, was now just a memory of when her dad was there to bail her out.

But there were times when he was there when she did need him and she didn’t know it. At the time they too were a source of frustration, a source of embarrassment. Like in tenth grade when she snuck out of the house and got way too drunk at Jennifer Cooly’s house when Jennifer’s mom was out of town. The house was full of drunk boys and girls. Angelica had imbibed so much that she was throwing up uncontrollably on the back porch as the other kids laughed and pointed. Her dad came storming in and picked her up completely, even with his slight frame, carried her to the car, and took her home. It was the first time she realized that he was tracking her phone, but he also held her hair away from her face while she expelled what alcohol was left in her system and then made her a sandwich.

And, of course, he was there when her mom died.

It’s sometimes shocking how relativity comes into play, such as the comparison of a spoiled rich girl who doesn’t want to be embarrassed by her dad and a girl from a third world country that has to do unspeakable things just to eat at the same age. She never had a relative moment to truly put things into perspective, until now. If he came, if he dropped everything and saved her from this smiling face of evil that literally wanted to consume her, the needle would be shoved. It would be shoved so far to one side that everything he ever did or did not do that hurt her would be minuscule in comparison.

Next to her, there was a crack and a sizzle as Carter ignited one of the flares. The light both terrified and comforted her. Comfort that she could see, terror of what she might see.

“It’s not far. There’ll be a phone,” Carter said through heavy panting to the left of her. Left of Carter she could hear the footfalls and whimpering of Brad, to her right she saw the eyes of Tiffany, wild with fear, and beyond that, the stone-faced look on TwoBits face.

Brad fell to his knees sobbing as the group stopped.

“Get up!” Carter yelled, attempting to convey compassion, but expressing only panic.

“What’s the point?” Brad moaned into his hands.

“We have to keep moving,” Tiffany begged, crawling under Brad’s arm trying to help him up.

Carter grabbed his other arm and threw it over his shoulder and helped get Brad to his feet, “Come on, man. I’ll help you, but we have to keep moving.”

“On, shit,” Angelica whispered as she noticed and pointed at a faint green glow in the tree line next to them. Looking up, they could see the sharp silhouettes of the trees in the starlight expanding and bending, the ominous creek of the growth and death of the trees cutting the silence, a subtle sound made deafening by the fear and stillness surrounding.

“Fuck, fuck, fuck,” TwoBit repeated as he fumbled through his bag and found the other flare. He cracked off the striker cap doubling the orange glow as they all looked into the blackness around them. “Get him the fuck up and let’s keep going,” he continued, attempting to sound commanding.

“Deb’s dead,” was Brad’s only response.

“I know she’s fucking dead and we’ll all be fucking dead too if we don’t start moving you fucking pussy!” TwoBit yelled at Brad, darting his eyes back and forth at the group in front of him. “Fucking leave his ass, we have to go!”

“I’m not leaving him,” Carter said to TwoBit.

“You’re such a bleeding heart pussy, you fucking pussy,” TwoBit now directed at Carter, “your sensitive, shy bullshit might work at the fucking warehouse or some shithole coffee shop, but that shit ain’t gonna keep you alive now! Now, fucking move!”

“How is this helping?” Angelica asked.

“Fuck you too, you fucking talentless hack!”

“Woah man, chill out,” Carter said, finding some assertiveness.

“Look who got a backbone,” TwoBit continued as the group just watched his anger fueled breakdown, the anger and fear in his face exaggerated by the whipping orange sulfuric light sources against the blackest black. A black so dark all depth to it is gone, except…

From behind TwoBit a feature broke the blackness. Two yellow eyes peering through the darkness. The eyes moved quickly, but the adrenaline of fear allowed every second to seem like minutes as Angelica watched powerlessly. A sharp nose cut through the dark beneath the eyes and then below that, the awful, dreadful smile of teeth and blood. Large triangular fangs and curled lips moved toward the unexpecting TwoBit. Through the darkness, an orange-lit cerulean hand with black claws and blood splatter rose above him.

BiscuitAs protracted as the previous moments were the next came in stark contrast. As Angelica looked on, the clawed hand came immediately down from behind, over TwoBit’s head to his chin, and then quickly raked up his face slashing along the way until sticking in his eye sockets. Angelica’s shouldered then startled with the popping sound and the gush of blood from TwoBit’s face and eyes.

TwoBit dropped the flare as his body was ripped back into the vertical sea of darkness.

“No!” Angelica yelled, scrambling forward and grabbing the flare, then holding it as far out as she could to try to see in the black.

“There!” Tiffany howled, pointing off into the darkness.

Angelica threw the flare in the pointed direction. In the flarelight they saw the naked pale body of Biscuit hunched over the still corpse of TwoBit as she used her neck and razor teeth to rip chunks of flesh from his face.

“Go… Now!” Angelica wailed as the remaining four ran in the opposite direction from the gore. Ahead, far down the road, they saw a lone streetlight in the darkness illuminating the small roadside market.

Their adrenaline did its job. What seemed like an insurmountable distance passed in a moment as they approached the market.

The market, called T-Birds, was one of those old highway stores that only saw business during the tourism months. It was probably buzzing when the road was a highway, but when the new freeway was put in years ago, it was relegated to a drinks and ice stop on the way to the lake. At that moment, to Angelica, it was a haven, a fortress, a castle glowing with hope under its lone streetlight.

They ran to the locked door of T-Birds and, with a new found lust for life or vengeance, Brad immediately punched through the glass, reached through, and unlocked the door. Throwing the flares into the street, they scrambled inside.

Inside the store was lit with crosshairs of shadow from the windows, flares, and the streetlight. They huddled in a pile at the back of the store, attempting to catch their breath and their sanity.

Angelica felt her heart skip a beat as she noticed the hairs on the back of her neck stand on end. Again the thunderous metallic sound resonated through the night rattling the store’s windows and extinguishing the streetlight.

They held each other in the darkness, wondering what to do next.

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