Chapter no 10

My Heart Is a Chainsaw

It’s not Rexall who fires Jade for leaving graffiti when she was supposed to be erasing it—that’s Hardy’s job—but she’s pretty sure he’s the one who ratted her out, either as payback for stealing his glory at graduation or because she never does slow-motion shirt changes under any of his spycams.

It’s kind of too bad, though. The no more money thing, sure—that means no more phone, next billing cycle—but she also had big plans for one of Rexall’s illicit recordings being instrumental in unmasking the slasher, or at least documenting a kill in grainy black and white.

But that’s Letha’s job, Jade reminds herself, staring across the lake while Hardy straightens his desk calendar and drones on about destruction of county property, broken trust, no more second chances, adult responsibilities, civic pride, misuse of cleaning tools checked out to her name, abuse of key privileges, Henderson Hawk school spirit or the lack thereof, and somewhere in there she unfocuses her eyes as much as humanly possible, wide enough to just float in some muted state of mind through the whole rest of her Sunday, wash up on the shore of Monday pushing slasher after slasher into her VCR, trying to find a line back to herself. She drifts off ten minutes into each, though. She tries to convince herself it’s about finding the right movie for her mood, but how can none of them be right, when they’ve all been right before?

Then, “Tuesday?” she says, looking around. With no school and no job, the days don’t really matter anymore, do they? She hides her head under her pillow, sleeps until noon, then sleeps some more. Well, stays in bed anyway, staring at the

ceiling, wishing for a glass of water to ungum her mouth but not wanting it quite badly enough to actually go get it. Because, she hisses to Hardy, she’s not a go-getter, right? Everybody knows that. She’s a coaster, a rider, and where do people who go with the flow always end up? The drain, yes.

Specifically, that one in Janet Leigh’s black-and-white shower.

It’s a good enough comeback that Jade’s finally able to sit up and take stock.

Her dad should be at Terra Nova for the day, and her mom

—why is she even thinking about her? It’s because of the debacle Saturday was, right? It is. It’s because she had to see her mom through Letha’s eyes, sort of: as the future Jade. As if. No way will Jade end up here—no way does she ever shack up with some version of her dad, no way could she endure that same question her mom must get fifty times a day: “But… isn’t this the dollar store? How can this cost two dollars?”

One thing Mr. Holmes told the class one wistful seventh period was that nobody ever makes it past twenty with the same hopes and dreams and certainties they once thought so dear and vital and true at seventeen. Nobody except me, Jade had assured herself, but she’d also had to wonder if that was even a partially original thought—if every other student in history class that day wasn’t thinking the exact same thing.

It doesn’t matter. Come the very last day of July she’s eighteen, will be out of the house. Hopefully Boise is ahead of her somewhere, but Boise, she knows, takes bus fare, and bus fares cost money, and now there’s no more paychecks coming in, shit.

With that, Jade can’t seem to muster the will to untangle from her sheets. She’s most definitely circling that Psycho drain, is just sitting there ticking off the things she’s not: a custodian; a high school graduate; a final girl; welcome at

the big Independence Day party; any help to anybody at all, even herself.

It makes sense, she supposes. Has there ever even been an Indian in a slasher? In Friday the 13th Ned wears a war bonnet and claps whoops from his mouth, does his high-knee dance, but he’s still the same idiot he was before. In Halloween 5, there’s another war bonnet, but it’s just skating past in the background. There is that one Indian dude in Sweet Sixteen, Jade supposes. Or, two, counting his grandfather. Along that same line, though: outside of Leprechaun 6, has there even been a black final girl before? Usually in slashers, the black girls are the friends—Scream 2, I Still Know What You Did Last Summer. And that they’re in part 2’s means they’re a response, a bandaid.

She thumbs through her videotapes for something else that can count, that Letha could use as model, as guide, but there’s nothing.

Which is why she needs me, Jade reminds herself. Not that that compels Letha to listen.

This is the part in the movie where Jade’s supposed to rally, she knows. She’s not supposed to mope, she’s supposed to be gearing up, pouring black powder into lightbulbs, hammering nails into the business end of a bat, that kind of stuff.

But there’s no camera on her, she knows. And there never was.

It doesn’t mean she’s wrong about what’s coming, what’s already happening, but it does mean that now she can sit back guilt-free and just watch it all happen from her I-told-you-so place, right? Maybe that’s why she couldn’t get into any of her slasher tapes earlier. In comparison to the one she’s in, they’re kind of pale.

But she will be goddamned if Hardy can keep her out of the water on Saturday. She’s gonna be there front-row, shoving popcorn in, maybe wearing a clear poncho and goggles against all the blood.

Just, what to do until then, right? When it was going to be her and Letha working together, the week couldn’t be long enough for all the slasher ground they had to cover. Now, without that, and with no litter to stab, no hours to log, it looks to stretch forever.

“Meddling kids,” yeah. More like a bothersome ex-janitor with big ideas.

Jade guesses she could always go in, try to complete her community service, but if Meg was watching her close before, now Jade’s going to be under a microscope. Granted, that’s better than Rexall’s hidden fisheyes, but still, it’s not the kind of attention she really wants.

To try to be part of the day, Jade makes a bologna sandwich with mustard—her dad’s fancy mustard, that’s supposed to be only his—eats it in her underwear in the kitchen, being sure to avoid all the reflections of herself in the oven window, the stolen napkin dispenser, the chrome faucet. Not everybody can be Julie James or Sarah Darling, at least not without a personal trainer, a nutritionist, and an airbrush. Sure, the Indian maidens on all the truckstop blankets are always swivel-hipped, stacked like a Disney princess, but Jade figures she must be from a different tribe.

Sitting at the sagging table in the kitchen, the sandwich on her right thigh, she leans her head back, stops chewing, wonders what it would be like to choke alone in the house like this—what regrets reel through your head?—and then jerks hard when the screen door rattles. By the time the front door swings open, Jade’s rolled off the chair, is crouched by the fridge, sandwich in-hand, eyes wide.

Rexall belches into the living room. She’d know that burp anywhere.

“Dude,” her dad says about it, his keys jingling into his pocket.

“That’s nothing,” a third voice slurs, one Jade doesn’t know.

Fucking great. Her dad’s not at Terra Nova for fifteen an hour, and Rexall, with nobody to supervise anymore, isn’t working either. It’s a drinking day. Another “high school never ended” day. Perfect. Wonderful. And the side door out of the kitchen involves the hallway, which is one of two directions these three can take, as the bathroom’s that way.

The other way they can take is right here, into the kitchen. Jade’s heart hammers in her chest. Not only is she only wearing a bra and panties, but these aren’t even good ones,

are even particularly bad ones.

And the voices are getting closer. Meaning they didn’t swing by to crash on the couch for an hour or two, watch one of her dad’s old westerns. This is a pit-stop, a refuel. They won’t be staying in the living room, are definitely coming this way.

But, which way?

Or, which of them is going to find Jade crouched in her underwear by the fridge, holding half a bologna and mustard sandwich, her eyes wide, pasty black hair everywhere?

Shit. Shit shit shit.

Jade takes stock again, clocking both doors, and then… no, she can’t.

The back door?

When footsteps start both crunching up the hall and resounding on the hollow part of the living room floor that leads to her, there’s no choice: still crouched, she scurries for the back door, twists the weak deadbolt over and falls out as quietly as she can, pulling the door shut softly behind her.

Voices in the kitchen now.

Two beers cracking open, then a third.

And—no, no, no: the door handle Jade’s still gripping, it twists under her hand.

She swings with it when the door opens, is dangling over the open space past the cement block under the door, is

trying to flatten herself to the side of the house, and then has to hold that trembling position while one of them pisses a pale yellow line out into the grass already burned by a thousand other pees.

Jade risks a look up through the back door’s window and… Clate Rodgers? Would Hardy let her have her mop back if she called in, whispered that his daughter’s killer was back in town again? Or does Hardy’s skin crawl all on its own every time Clate steps over the county line?

When Clate finally dribbles down, grunts through his shake-off, and hauls the door back over, Jade lets go, falls into the sharp weeds that grow by the house, and makes herself as small as possible, hopes nobody across the way’s looking out their window.

Two seconds later, footsteps still crunching in the kitchen, the window over the sink opening to blow cigarette smoke from, Jade sees her salvation billowing on the laundry line: the coveralls Hardy didn’t think to ask her to surrender. Unlike Michael Myers, she won’t even have to kill a mechanic to step into them.

Pulling them on in the shade of the house, she falls down like a boneless thing when a little brown bird explodes up from the leg. It’s so close to Jade’s face she feels the air from its beating wings, her hand coming up hours too late to protect her eyes. She pats down the arms for if this was a flock, then pulls the coveralls the rest of the way on and creeps around to the front, lifts her dad’s backup muck boots from the bed of his truck, which she bets Hardy would just love to hear about.

A block down, almost to the lake, she realizes she’s still holding the bologna sandwich. She takes a bite but her dad’s mustard is too sharp, too warm. She tosses the sandwich in front of her, steps purposefully on it, mashing it into the concrete, and then shimmies through the gym door of the high school, which Hardy explained was strictly off limits to her. Forever.

Like he didn’t know that was an invitation?

Jade goes through Lost and Found for mismatched socks, a confiscated t-shirt—green, a seventies Corvette dramatic on the chest—then does her make-up as best she can in the usual mirror, but only after roundly flipping Rexall off.

“Go ahead, turn me in,” Jade tells him, enunciating clearly in case he’s having to lip-read. “I’ll just ask Hardy how he thinks you knew I was here.”

She puts her eyeliner on thick as hell.

The next three hours she spends stalking the halls, playing Slaughter High. At least in her head. But she finally ends up being John Bender, escaped from detention in the library, using terrible form to shoot some hoops in the gym.

And then it’s Mr. Holmes’s old history classroom.

It’s empty now. Empty of him. His corny posters, the part of the chalkboard he had marked off for that day’s bullshit quote. The drawers of his desk are all stray paper clips and leftover staples.

Jade sort of wants to cry.

“Fuck you,” she says instead, and leaves not by the door she used to get in but by throwing a trashcan through the glass of the front doors, ducking through that crashed-open hole.

This is graduation, she tells herself, crunching through the glass like the four misfits on the cover of her The Craft videotape. All the ceremony she needs.

It’s night now. Pretty soon the streets of Proofrock will roll up, dousing all the lights. Jade cocks a hip out, glares down the empty streets. She’s not worried about dying and going to hell for all her sins. She’s not worried because she’s been living in hell for seventeen years already.

She pushes through the darkness, her hands deep in the pockets of her coveralls.

It was worth it, she decides all at once. Getting fired. Getting fired for memorializing this slasher cycle on the bathroom stall.

Somebody had to, right?

Anyway, “The Lake Witch Slayings” is a killer name for what’s going on, and what’s still going on. She has to smile about that, which makes her… yes: there is a pack of cigarettes in the chest pocket of the coveralls. Fucking salvation. Thank you, tiny brown sleeve birds.

Jade fires up in the alley behind the drugstore. Through the smoke she can just see the Umiak bobbing at the pier, dwarfing Hardy’s little airboat, two of the Founders in town, it looks like. They’re stepping off the pier like just ferried across, anyway. Letha and Tiara are up at the boat cockpit, whatever it’s called, Tiara even wearing a captain’s hat like she’s in a Playboy spread. But Jade only has eyes for these two Founders. Is this the closest she’s actually been to them? It’s hard to look away. The way they move—“fifty” doesn’t mean the same thing at their tax bracket as it does in Proofrock. There’s actual spring in their step, and they’re yoga-limber, almost svelte, even, like they didn’t just step down from a cigarette boat but up from the pages of a magazine.

Jade leans against the back of the drugstore, takes the most slit-eyed, noirish drag she can, and watches them walk to the Porsche, the Range Rover.

Neither of them are Theo Mondragon, she can tell, he’s got those football shoulders, those dodgy hips. So… it’s Mars Baker, right? The other one’s either Ross Pangborne or Lewellyn Singleton, she can’t really tell those two apart so well at distance. They’re supposed to be grieving for Deacon Samuels, that’s got to be why they’ve converged on Terra Nova, but they’re not stooped with grief, they’re not dragging, they’re not sad and broken. That bounce in their long strides, really, it’s almost like they’re thrilled it wasn’t them.

“But it will be,” Jade says to them, and blows smoke out, spins away fast, trying not to let herself get caught up in their shine, their polish, their remove from real actual life.

Walking purposefully away from the road out of town to pay a visit to Camp Blood gets her going alongside the Terra Nova staging area again. She checks both ways and then, on impulse, why not, she steps in through the laid-over fence panel, walks fast in among the big equipment, the dozers and front-end loaders. Another time she might climb those big tires, sit in the cracked vinyl seats, pretend she’s Godzilla’ing down Main on a righteous rampage.

She has adult responsibilities now, though, doesn’t she, Sheriff? Civic pride, all that bullshit. To prove it she drops her cigarette, grinds it out under her boot like a proper citizen, and keeps stepping, trying the door of one of the storage sheds—padlocked—then cutting across a pile of junk to a more likely shed, just on the chance she can get eyes on whatever bladed weapon or chainsaw is probably going to be in play on Saturday. Halfway across the pile of junk, though, headlights stab on right beside her. She freezes, telling herself that if she can be still enough, then she’s just another broken pallet, just another torn-off pull of shrink wrap.

But then the driver’s door opens, and she realizes two things at once. The first is that this isn’t Hardy’s Bronco or some rent-a-cop the Founders have hired to patrol their lot. If it were, a dummy light would be pinning her in place right now, or at least a Maglite.

The second realization is that she’s been in this particular car before.

“Um, need some help?” Shooting Glasses asks. He’s the timid silhouette standing up behind the blinding glare.

“This where y’all keep the explosives?” Jade asks back, shielding her eyes as best she can. “Or, no. The candlesticks, the lead pipes, the daggers?”

“Who you looking to kill this time?” Shooting Glasses asks.

This time. Because “last time” was herself.

“Everybody?” she says, clambering down and out as best she can, without quite puncturing an ankle, or falling into a

needle bath.

“Think they’d notice if you did?” Shooting Glasses asks, reaching in to dial the lights down to just the orange ones.

“Dead & Buried, 1981,” Jade says by way of an answer. “Whole town of dead people who don’t know they’re dead. It happens.”

Shooting Glasses makes a show of aiming his finger down to the door panel and punching the unlock button.

Jade steps around to the passenger side, says, “There’s this other movie called Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things. If there’d been a sequel, it might should have been ‘Children Shouldn’t Get into Cars They Know Are Stolen.’”

Shooting Glasses folds in behind the wheel, says, “Another of your slashers?”

“I wish,” Jade says, settling in. “The director did go on to make Black Christmas, though, so maybe there’s some genealogy there, if you squint right.”

“Everything eighties with you, isn’t it?”

“Those are both dirty seventies,” Jade tells him, tracking the dim headlights prowling along the staging area’s fence line. “But the eighties were great, that’s why. They—”

Shooting Glasses interrupts by starting the already-started car, which results in metal screeching, parts grinding, and— more important—the brake lights of that car trolling by.

“That was pleasant,” Jade says to Shooting Glasses without looking at him. Just waiting for that car to move along, move along.

“It’s so quiet I can’t ever tell if it’s going or not,” Shooting Glasses says about the car.

“But the eighties,” Jade continues, since someone finally asked, “they’re when the slasher was at its purest. Which is to say its dirtiest, its cheapest. Low production values, throwaway dialogue, nobody actors, recycled premises—all about making that quick buck. But that’s what makes it the Golden Age, when Jason was born, Freddy was born, Chucky was—well, when Chucky was bought, anyway. But every

Friday there would be either a new slasher or two, or there’d be the same ones from a few months ago, with new titles. It must have been amazing. And I was born too late for it.”

“That’s what Cody’s always saying,” Shooting Glasses says, nodding to the taillights finally weaving away into Proofrock.

“Cody?” Jade has to ask, then, “Oh, yeah. The anyflavor Indian?”

“He says he was born too late too. That if he’d been born a hundred years ago, things would be different for him.”

“Good for him,” Jade says. “Don’t think it’d work for me, though.”

Shooting Glasses cuts his eyes over to her about this.

“Some boys from town would play a trick on me,” she says like the most obvious thing, “they’d throw me out on the water, and I’d run away into legend.”

“Don’t take this wrong,” Shooting Glasses says, “but I don’t think I’ve ever talked to anyone like you.”

“Y’all almost done building Camelot over there?” Jade asks back, throwing her chin across the water.

Shooting Glasses backs the car up, repoints it so they’re looking through the lake side of the staging area’s chain link fence. Past it, there’s the lights of Terra Nova.

“Foundation problems now,” he says.

“It’s rocky over there,” Jade tells him. “That’s why the cemetery is on this side, yeah? Only thing over there are old mine shafts. My history teacher says it’s all pockmarked with caves, too. And”—Jade closes her eyes to get it just right—“he says that, before the lake, when Drown Town wasn’t drowned, that at night you could see the sparks from the pickaxes over there. Everybody trying to strike it rich.”

“Did they?”

“What do you think?”

Shooting Glasses pulls a Dr Pepper can up to spit into, being sure to break the saliva string off before guiding the can back to the cupholder.

“I like how your eyes squint right when you’re spitting,” Jade tells him. “It’s like you know how gross that is.”

Shooting Glasses turns the parking lights off, stranding them in the darkness. But it does make the fence go away, which is pretty cool.

“So why do you want to kill everybody?” he asks. “Some more than others,” Jade tells him.

“No names, no names.” “Said the car thief.”

Shooting Glasses grins a guilty grin.

“You know that kid they pulled from the lake last week?” Jade says, patting the dashboard lovingly. “Bet his prints are somewhere in here. Hers too.”

“Her who?”

“His girlfriend,” Jade says. “She’s dead out there too.

Probably sunk, down in Drown Town.”

“That’s the old town that the reservoir—” “Lake,” Jade says. “Yeah.”

“I heard one of them over there talking about it,” Shooting Glasses says. “The—that astronaut one?”

“Mars Baker? He’s the lawyer one, I think.”

“He said he’s going to take a remote-control submarine down there, get some video.”

Jade looks into her lap, both amused and disappointed.

“Some things should probably just stay buried,” she says. “You saying you wouldn’t watch that video?”

“I’d watch it until that girlfriend’s decomposed face bobbed into the camera’s eye, yeah.”

“That’s from Jaws,” Shooting Glasses says, checking her eyes to be sure he’s right.

“Good enough for Spielberg, good enough for me,” Jade says back.

Shooting Glasses just sits there. Which is to say, he’s not leaving, not sloping off to whisper to his buds about how weird this girl is with all her throwback references, all the horror, all the gore. Jade’s face heats up, and, praying her

voice won’t crack, and only saying it after she’s gone over it and over it in her head, she says, “I could like you, I think.” When Shooting Glasses looks over for more, the Dr Pepper can to his lower lip, she adds in quick, “As somebody to talk to, I mean.”

“Where was I your last four years?” he sort of quotes.

“Why’d you come over, shine your headlights like that?” Jade asks. “Did you know it was me?”

“There’s supposed to be a bear around. Bears like trash.” “This one likes human innards, supposedly.”


“It’s all setup, distraction, red herrings.”

“Thought there were just trout up this high.” Jade has to grin a tolerant grin about this.

“I’m not supposed to be there on Saturday, even,” she says all wistfully, changing direction.

“Independence Day? The movie on the lake thing they do?”

“We do.”

“You do.”

Jade can feel Shooting Glasses’s eyes on her again. “Lot of people are going to, you know,” she says, looking up to see how he takes this: “Die.”

“Said the girl looking for murder weapons in the junk pile.” “No, you’re right,” Jade has to admit. “I’m definitely a

suspect, the reddest herring.” “Better than being a trout.”

Jade hits his arm with the back of her hand and he rolls with it into his door, making a show of keeping his spit can level.

“You told that old sheriff about this big wilderness massacre only you know about?” he asks.

“Doesn’t believe me.”

“Because of your hair, your… history.” “Among other bullshit reasons.”

“Your taste in movies?” Shooting Glasses guesses.

“My good taste in movies,” Jade says, flashing her eyes at him and also, for a snapshot of an instant, seeing the two of them through the windshield: two kids playfighting, making eyes behind the feeble jabs.

And she doesn’t even know his real name.

Shooting Glasses holds his hands up in surrender.

“But if it’s not you,” he says, running with this just to keep her talking, it feels like, “then who? Is it that… who were you talking about? That janitor who caught fire? Cropsy?”

“Cropsy’s strictly Staten Island,” Jade says. “That’s New York City.”

“Jason, Freddy, that other one?”

“Michael,” Jade fills in, shaking her head no. “I already—” “No, the one who eats people.”

“Leatherface. Bzzzt, not a slasher, sorry. It’s not about revenge with him, just—there’s nobody to get revenge against. Who’s he supposed to come after, the Texas economy that forced his family into cannibalism?”

“Other one who eats people, I mean,” Shooting Glasses says.

“Hannibal Lecter,” Jade fills in. “Bzzt, not a slasher either, but partial credit because he also wears a face of human skin. He just likes how people taste, right? Anybody else before we move on? Terminator, Alien, Fatal Attraction?”

“You can do this all night, can’t you?”

“What I was saying,” Jade tries to continue, “is that I already explained all this slasher stuff to who needs to know the most.”

“Did he buy into it?”

“She.” Jade shakes her head no, sadly, Letha didn’t. “Wait, though. I think it’s gonna be someone dressing up like our local legend, Stacey Graves.”

“Good name,” Shooting Glasses says, having to rush the Dr Pepper can in to wrangle a grainy line of spit that won’t break.

“Speaking of good names…” Jade says, looking past his current situation with the can to his yellow-tinted eyes.

He gets it, smiles, says when he can, “Greyson?”

“Greyson Brust,” Jade completes, showing off that she still has that rattling around in her head. “I never heard the end of that story.”

“I told you the beginning?” “Never heard any of it.”

“Because you… jumped out of the car?”

“Had to,” Jade tells him. “You were about to spill, and I couldn’t know this particular backstory yet.”

“Because it matters?”

“At this stage we don’t know what matters.”

“But you think what happened to Greyson does?”

“I think you’re stalling,” Jade says. “What happened to him? There any reason not to tell me?”

Shooting Glasses looks down into the crusty mouth of his Dr Pepper can, kind of shrugs, says, “Sort of?”


“Meaning that one way to look at it is that—it’s that we sold him, I guess.”

“How much?”

“Eight hundred each. That church guy, he counted it out in cash. We had to sign the accident report the way he wrote it up.”

“Church guy?” Jade has to ask. “Old-timey preacher, white hair and crazy eyes, big-ass hands, name rhymes with Bezekiel?”

“What? No, no—the… his name. That one the bear—” “Deacon Samuels,” Jade fills in. “The church of the flipped


“He paid us off. Now if we say anything, it’s like perjury.” “Not sure that’s really how it works.”

“That’s how he’ll make it work.” “He told you this?”

“Didn’t have to.”

“But he’s dead now.”

“And my signature’s still on that report,” Shooting Glasses says, leaning forward to rest his chin on the top of the padded steering wheel.

“So the report’s a lie, I take it.”

“It wasn’t supposed to matter,” Shooting Glasses says. “We thought he was gonna be dead on the ambulance ride, I mean. But Greyson—”

“I really do like that name.”

“You can have it,” Shooting Glasses says, leaning back and looking out his window, his face right there in the reflection for Jade. “He’s pretty much done with it.”

“This is the part where you tell me,” Jade tells him. “What, am I hypnotized?” Shooting Glasses asks.

“I’ll trade,” Jade hears herself tell him back.

He looks over to her, says after a beat, “Trade what?”

“Not what you’re thinking,” she says, sure to hold his eyes for that. “Ever since… since we first met. That night. You’ve been wondering why I did it.”

“You don’t have to tell me,” he says. “It’s—I know there’s never just one reason, I mean.”

“Try me.”

He considers this, considers it some more, then nods to himself, spits again, taking his time with it, and starts: “He could have been any one of us, right? Greyson, I mean. It was—we were leveling that lot on the point where the big house is going in. The dragon one.”


“Mondragon, yeah. One where that—I mean—”

“Where the hot girl’s gonna live and take long naked showers,” Jade says for him.

The dimple in his cheek gives away how right she is.

“You can pour the concrete so the top’s level,” Shooting Glasses continues, doing his hand left to right in case “flat” is a new concept to her. “The base, not so much. It doesn’t have to be so flat, I mean. But you do want to dig down to

pour. Bedrock works best, and like you were saying, it’s shallow as shit over there.”

“The bedrock you mean,” Jade says. “Yeah, what—?”

“The lake is deepest over there, because that side of the valley’s steeper than over here. Forget about it, sorry.”

She Theo Mondragons her hand for him to go on, and he does: “I wasn’t running the backhoe, Telly was. Just scraping back and forth with the boom. He’d loosen a big rock then push it out of the way. One or two of them caught the slope, went all the way down to the lake. It was like a game. Anyway, we had this leaf blower, I guess. It was so one of us could blast it around after Telly’d scraped an area pretty clean. So we could know what there was still left to do.”

“Where’d you plug it in, this leaf blower?” “It was gas.”

Jade nods, chides herself for stopping him again. “Anyway,” he says, “Greyson had his safety glasses on,

would step in right after Telly lifted out, and he’d—” In the confines of the cab, Shooting Glasses mimes sweeping a great windy nozzle back and forth at foot-level, like herding mice with air. Jade almost has to grin, the picture’s so clear. “I was standing right beside his dumb ass, right? But I had my eyes closed, because Grey was spraying my legs. It was hilarious to him, I guess. He was always screwing around, was an accident waiting to happen. But I had to like close my eyes from it, all that little shit blasting up. Then my pants legs just went still. That was the first way I knew something had happened. At first I thought he’d maybe run out of gas.”

“And this is in the daytime?” Jade asks, hardly believing any slasher could be so brazen as to take someone with the sun shining down on them, people all around.

Shooting Glasses nods like that’s not the interesting part. “He’d fallen through,” he says. “I guess—I guess we were on top of a cave? I don’t know how Telly’s backhoe hadn’t

crumbled it all in already. But Greyson, man, the leaf blower was still there, wedged across the crack like he’d tried to hold on to it. It was still running. But he was gone, man. Fucking fell his ass all the way in, whatever.”

“One of you go down there for him?”

Shooting Glasses winces, having to be there again.

“We dropped a flashlight down to him,” he says. “Fifteen feet? Probably not even that. It wasn’t a big-ass cavern or anything. Just a little hollowed-out place, maybe fifteen by fifteen. Your history teacher’s right about it being all caves over there. Like fucking Swiss cheese.”

The reason there’s pockets of air in Swiss cheese, Jade knows but doesn’t say, is that there’s corruption in there, eating all around itself.

“But you got him out,” Jade prompts. Shooting Glasses nods.


Shooting Glasses huffs air through his nose in a sick laugh. “We had to loop him like a goddamn pig,” he says, wiping his lips with the back of his sleeve. “He kept—he kept running away from the light we’d shine down. Like, running on all fours, like he’d forgot he was even a person.”

“Head injury?”

“Finally we shined all our lights into this one kind of corner he kept running to. So he had to cross under the hole to get out of the light, right? We dropped a cargo net on him, and when he tried to fight out of it, it tangled him up. He fought it the whole way, was making these… these like noises, I don’t know.”

“Had he been bitten?”

“What? No. I don’t know, shit. By what? He couldn’t breathe, though. Like, hypo—no. What do they call it?”


“Yeah, that. Rabbit-breathing, the kind where your heart’s about to explode. And he was all curled up, kind of spasmy, his fingers crooked but not really broken. I don’t think they

were broken. You don’t remember the day the ambulance came?”

Jade shakes her head no, she doesn’t. “When was this exactly?” she asks.

Shooting Glasses shrugs, says like dredging it up, “It was before you… that night, I mean.”

“Right before I cut my wrist out on the water?” “The weekend before?”

“You found this car the morning after?”

He looks across at her like how could she know this? “Finish,” she tells him.


“Greyson Brust. Where’d Deacon Samuels hide him?” “Hide?”

“Stash, store, house,” Jade clarifies, not sure how else to say it.

“That—the old people’s home over on—” “Pleasant Valley Assisted Living.”

“When we went to see him that… that night, he—god. He was still walking on all fours, right? Like he was thinking like a bug or something.”

“That night?”

“Night we were burning the trash? You gave us that big lecture on… whatever?”


“He’d like stop when you talked to him, but it wasn’t the words he was hearing. I don’t know what the hell he was hearing.”

“Greyson Brust,” Jade says, trying that name on again in all its glory.

Did he—did he get bit by something or someone in that cave, get infected, and now was sneaking out his window at Pleasant Valley every night, killing elk and people the same? Was this a supernatural slasher, even though it’s so long after the Golden Age that it might as well be Bronze? Jade’s heart thumps with possibility.

“You think it’s him?” Shooting Glasses asks.

“I need to look at his feet,” Jade says. “Did you have to sign the visitor log thing to see him, do you remember?”

“Not anymore.”

Jade lets her thoughts keep rolling—Greyson Brust howling at the moon, his maw bloody, fingers sharp and violent—but then: “Beep, beep,” she says, backing up. “What? Thought you said he was walking on all fours when you went to see him that night?”

“That night, yeah,” Shooting Glasses says. “In March. He passed in April.”

“What from?”

Shooting Glasses shrugs like Does it really even matter? Jade supposes it doesn’t.

“Eight hundred dollars,” Shooting Glasses says again. “That’s what we sold him for. Eight hundred fucking dollars each.”

“What did Deacon Samuels say?” “About Greyson?”

“About all of it.”

He kind of squinches his face up, says, “He told us not to tell that other guy.”

“Theo Mondragon.”

“It was the foundation for his house,” Shooting Glasses says, his tone suggesting this is obvious to him, anyway. “Mr. Samuels, he—he said every house has a story, right? That it’s not always important that everybody know every little part of it. What you don’t know, it doesn’t matter so much.”

“What happened to the cave?” Jade says.

Shooting Glasses pulls the parking lights back on, washing the galvanized chain-link diamond lattice in front of them pale yellow. “We already had the rig and the framing out there to pour the foundation later in the week,” he says. “It was easy. We just—” he mimes directing a crusty-grey tube into a crack in the ground, cement slurping down. The exact

same motion Greyson Brust must have been doing with the leaf blower. Except now they were blowing stone.

“You filled it?” Jade says.

“You can’t lay a foundation over that kind of hollowed out space,” Shooting Glasses says.

“It could be him, then,” Jade says.

“Greyson?” Shooting Glasses says. “Told you, he’s—” “Dead, yeah,” Jade says. What she doesn’t say, at least

out loud, is Theo. Because she doesn’t want to mess this up. But it is him who was wronged, here, whose house is now built on a shaky foundation. It is him who had a score to settle with Deacon Samuels. Yeah, “Greyson Brust” is pretty killer for a slasher name. But “Theo Mondragon” definitely has that ring, too, doesn’t it? And, if it’s him—when it’s him

—there’s that added twist of the boogeyman being the final girl’s own father, which is perfect for a mystery slasher, no Golden Age supernatural shit necessary.

It’s not as grand, is even kind of grubby, but it’s pretty perfect, too. Especially since Jade had been right about him from the get-go. It hadn’t just been paranoia. He wouldn’t be the first Black slasher—Candyman, Jimmy Bones, Machete Joe—but he’d be one of hardly any, anyway.

“You gonna breathe?” Shooting Glasses asks from his side of the car, which is approximately fourteen miles away at the moment. And Jade isn’t sure she can breathe right now, really. She’s spent the last couple of days feeling sorry for herself, not sure what to do now that Letha won’t accept she’s the final girl. But this washes all of that away, doesn’t it?

Saturday’s three days away now, leaving her one day for reconnaissance, one day to sneak over to Terra Nova, get a sight line on Theo Mondragon, see if he’s sharpening a blade or not, and one day to show that blade to Letha somehow.

It feels good to be back on track.

It sucked getting banned from Saturday’s big party on the water, yeah, and she felt like a traitor, not being able to sit all the way through any of her slashers, but that’s just because she’s in an actual hand-to-God slasher. Not at the front, but not in the final tally yet, either. Just hanging around in the between-parts, which is right where she wants to be. With all her viewing, all her self-assigned homework, all she’s ever seen with slashers is the main part of the story, right? The part everybody knows, the final cut. But now she’s moving through the hidden parts, the connective tissue. The real guts, the actual terra nova.

“Watch a few movies, take a few notes,” she says in her best Stu.

“You okay?” Shooting Glasses asks.

It’s the same thing he asked her last time, right before she bailed. And now she’s got her finger on the door handle again.

“I didn’t do it because I wanted to die,” Jade says, the rise of scar tissue on her left wrist practically glowing in the sleeve of her coveralls. They’re watching ghost-versions of each other in the windshield now. Ghost versions that can waver away with one wrong breath. “I did it because I wanted to be part of the movie. Part of all of them. What was the day that it happened, you remember?”

“Friday, we were just off work.” “Date, I mean.”


“The number.”

Shooting Glasses squints, trying to dredge it up, finally gloms onto it, says, “Friday the thirteenth, yeah. Radio kept talking about it.”

Jade nods once, says, “Jason was supposed to rise up behind me, pull me across to Crystal Lake. Things make more sense there.”

“That’s that old camp?”

Shooting Glasses chin-points across the water.

“Pretty much,” Jade says.

“But everybody dies in those movies…” he says, pulling the headlights on now, blasting white out across the water.

“But they really live first,” Jade says, popping her door open to fade into the night. “Now, remember what I told you, be somewhere else this Saturday, cool?”

“What about you?”

Jade presses her lips together and stands from the car, is about to shut the door on this, which feels one hundred percent like the perfect gesture, like what would happen in a movie, but then she flinches halfway around instead.

It’s not Hardy standing there—since the library, she’s been spooky—but a long sustained scream.

It’s not close, but it’s close enough.

Shooting Glasses stands from his side of the car.

“They’re playing my music,” Jade says to him, and leaves her door open, is already running for the pier, Shooting Glasses’s work boots pounding in after her. Behind the drugstore she smacks into her dad and Rexall, hustling the other way, eyes wide, Rexall still carrying a beer bottle, her dad’s jeans wet, maybe… all of him wet?

The impact knocks Jade down but her dad doesn’t stop, is already gone.

“Who—?” Shooting Glasses asks. She shrugs his helping hands away, wipes her dad’s gross wetness off and gets up herself.

“Town drunks,” she says, casting a single disparaging look after them.

Shooting Glasses turns to look as well, like there’s anything to see—Indians really can turn to smoke—and Jade’s already running again, is the first Proofrocker to get to the pier, though porch and window lights are glowing on up and down the shore.

Jade leans onto her knees breathing hard, taking in everything she can.

The Umiak is still there, too big to even really bob, and the screaming—yes. Yes yes yes.

It’s Letha, not at the steering wheel anymore, but the back of the big white boat. Tiara’s trying to hug her away from whatever’s below them in the water but Letha’s pushing her away, can’t suffer contact right now. It’s like she’s trying to crawl inside herself, shut the world out.

Jade nods, gets it. In one of her papers for Mr. Holmes, she explained that the final girl goes from innocence and obliviousness into a series of staged confrontations with mortality, menace, danger—a funhouse of worse and worse horror—until she finally curls into herself to hide. But that’s really a chrysalis. One she claws out of as an angel of death. For Letha so far, it’s been the Dutch boy in the lake, his skin sloughing off in her hands, and then Deacon Samuels, turned inside out at Camp Blood, Letha probably stepping

into him before even realizing what’s happened. “Don’t forget the elk,” Jade mumbles.

“What is that?” Shooting Glasses is asking beside her, stepping forward to see better.

Jade clamps onto his forearm, holds him back.

“This isn’t for us,” she says, nodding up to Letha, “it’s for her.”

Letha falls back so the short railing’s hiding her. And now Proofrockers are arriving in robes and curlers, with shotguns, with fire pokers, with glasses of scotch they forgot to leave behind.

“Now he’ll believe you?” Shooting Glasses says to Jade, about the thick red blood churning in the water, under the Umiak’s harsh lights. “The sheriff?”

Jade can only shake her head slowly, no.

Somewhere up on deck, Tiara, in her joke of a captain’s hat, finally thinks to turn the propellers off. The Umiak sighs back into the pier, the one taut line going slack, and then Jade gets it: her dad and his idiot friends, still in high school, the three of them bobbing under the pier, waiting for the ski

ropes they’ve tied to the boat to tighten, pull them up onto the surface of the water.

It was worth all the nights in jail, supposedly.

Until now. Until they tried to hook onto a much bigger boat, one with a whole rack of propellers back there to suck them in. Still, if it hadn’t had that one line moored, it might have worked, right?

Would Letha have forgotten to cast off, though? Would Tiara? Had they ever forgotten just one single line? When they only had one line tied in the first place? And—why had they even tied-off at all, if they were just dropping a couple of Founders off?

“Who is it?” Shooting Glasses asks.

“Who was it,” Jade corrects, backing the two of them out of this gathering crowd. “Pretty sure it was a guy name of Clate Rodge—”

She stops when she clocks a bulky shadow coming in from just behind them, where nobody should have been, where there’s nothing, just… just the memorial bench?

“No,” Jade says, her whole body going cold. Not because she’s not supposed to be the one seeing some Scooby’d up Stacey Graves, but because… because there’s no stringy black wig, no rotted gown. Just a wall of khaki.

She grabs on to Shooting Glasses again, to keep from falling down.

Sheriff Hardy must have been sitting there all along, smoking the night’s last cigarette on his daughter’s memorial bench, like every night.

“Who you say it is, there?” he asks over-innocently, his eyes flicking up to Jade’s for a moment then away before she can register anything.

“N-nobody,” she mutters.

He rubs his cigarette out between his fingers, deposits the butt in his chest pocket, then pats it like telling it to stay put.

“What the hell was that about?” Shooting Glasses asks once Hardy’s stepped onto the pier.

“A Bay of Blood,” Jade says, chest heaving, mind reeling, face numb, and because they’re off to the side now, she knows Shooting Glasses has to be able to see what she’s talking about: Clate Rodgers’s frothy blood lapping up against Hardy’s hull, some of the chunks adhering to the fiberglass. Not quite as high as the little airboat’s name, Melanie, but when Hardy passes by, the water laps up a few inches, baptizes those eight letters in what’s left of the boy who was with her the day she drowned.



Okay, before we talk Red Herrings in the slasher even though it’s official turkey season not fish season, first, it’s ALWAYS slasher season, as there’s plenty of

Blood Rage around the dinner table of Home Sweet Home, especially from the ThanksKilling turkey itself, but second, HELLO, MR. HOLMES! I never thought I’d miss 7th period I mean. And since I’ve already done my time, this time I can just say it out right that cutting the fingers off my VERY FAKE glove, or, it was a real glove but not my fingers inside just green slime aka nightmare fuel aka Freddy blood, I should really get a science award for that, not suspension. Ever heard of

a senior prank? I’m a senior. That was my prank. And it’s not my fault Tiff did her big faint routine and broke her phone. Probably it was broke already and she just wanted someone to blame for it.

Enter me, sir. I always did it. And her mom already bought her a new and better phone anyway.

But nevermind all that. Something’s fishy here, isn’t it? It’s the Red Herring in the slasher movie. The origin of this is how when you’re running from dogs that are trailing you by smell you can put a dead fish on your trail and that like blows the dogs’ noses up pretty much. For Agatha Christie the Red Herring was the

person all signs and clues SAID was doing all that killing, but really that’s just Mrs. Christie being a magician and shaking this hand so you don’t watch the other one.

Wes Craven does the same magic trick in A Nightmare on Elm Street, where Rod is the obvious killer to all the cops and parents. At least until Freddy kills him, which is usually the way it goes for stinky fish on the trail. And what’s weird is that for the 1st time in slasher history ever probably, in Friday the 13th: A New Beginning, which is part V, meaning “5,” halfway to “X,” Jason Voorhees HIMSELF is kind of the Red Herring. Everyone thinks the killer is him, when surprise, it’s far less exciting. Even Randy in Scream SAYS he himself is the obvious right suspect for Casey Becker and Steve, his tastes all being in the horror aisle of the video store, but this is AFTER Billy and Stu have already fake set Billy up into

Red Herringhood.

What to notice here is the magic trick happening before your eyes, sir. Agatha or Wes are just shaking this hand around to distract your nose if you were a dog,

but it’s all so this real and actual blood soaked party can creep past into non-suspicionhood. And while sometimes the way they be fair is to say “LOOK, he’s doing all of this, can’t you see?” we’ve been burned so many times by exactly this that we know that can’t be true, so we keep on looking the other way.

What the slasher does I mean is turn us ALL into the cops and parents who 100 percent know it’s Rod who killed his girlfriend Tina, who KNOW it’s Jason in V, and that’s when it has us right where it wants us, since cops and parents are less than useless in the slasher.

So are we, I mean, except as carving dummies, which isn’t like carving a turkey, except for the end result, I guess.

Enjoy your meal, Mr. Holmes.

You'll Also Like