Chapter no 2

My Heart Is a Chainsaw

Jade Daniels slouches—that’s the only word for it—into the staging area for Terra Nova on a twelve-degree night on the thirteenth of March, the Friday before spring break officially gets going for Proofrock.

In the left pocket of her thin custodian coveralls is a box-cutter, what her dad would probably call a “shitrock” knife, and in her right is her fist. Under her overalls there’s just a girl-cut Misfits t-shirt, probably technically too small if that matters, and her threadbare jeans, most of the holes in the thighs not from washing dishes at the pancake house or moving boxes in a shipping warehouse—Proofrock isn’t big enough for either of those places—but from scraping at the fabric with her fingernails during seventh period, her state history class, which she calls Brainwashing 101. Her fingernails are black, of course, and her hair is supposed to be green, that was the plan one hundred percent, it was going to look killer, but Indian hair doesn’t take the dye like the box says “all hair” should, so she’s got a bobbed orange mop to deal with, which was what started the fight at her house thirty minutes ago, spitting her up here.

If her dad had just been able to watch her cross from the front door to the hall without saying anything, she’d probably be in her bedroom right now, headphones clamped on, a bootleg slasher crackling on the screen of her thirteen-inch television set with the built-in VCR.

Her dad can never keep his mouth shut, though, especially six beers into a night that’s probably going to take a whole case to get through.

“You got to stop eating so many carrots, girl,” he said with a halfway chuckle, punctuating it with a drink from his


Jade stopped like she had to, like she guesses he must have wanted her to.

His name, Tab Daniels, is the one he earned in high school, because he threaded fishing line back and forth across the headliner glued to the roof of his Grand Prix, festooned it with fishing hooks, and then proceeded to hang enough pull tabs onto those barbed hooks that the headliner finally collapsed onto him one seventy-mile-per-hour night.

The wreck should have killed him, Jade knows. Or wishes. She was already on the way by then, so it’s not like it would have blipped her out of existence. All it would have blipped her to would be a less crappy version of her life, one where she lives with her mother, not her so-called father.

But of course, because she’s doomed to grow up in the same house with her own personal boogeyman, the wreck just broke his bones, Freddy’d his face up, because, as he always tells anybody who doesn’t know to have already left the room, God smiles on drunks and Indians.

Jade would humbly disagree with that statement, being half as Indian as her dad and getting zero smiles from Above, pretty much. Case in point: her dad’s drinking buddy Rexall chuckling about her dad’s orange-hair joke, and tipping his chin up to Jade: “Hey, I got a carrot she can—”

Hating herself for it the whole while, Jade had actually bared her teeth at this, expecting her dad to backhand Rexall, living reject that he is. Or if not backhand him, at least give him an elbow in warning. At the very very least Tab Daniels could have whispered not so loud to his high school bud. Wait till she’s gone, man. Anything would have been enough.

He’d just chuckled in drunk appreciation, though.

Maybe if Jade’s mom were still in the picture, then she could have thrown that maternal elbow, glared that glare, but whatever. Kimmy Daniels’s place is only three-quarters of a mile away from Jade’s living room, but that might as

well be another galaxy. One not in Tab Daniels’s orbit anymore—which is exactly the idea, Jade knows.

She also knows that stopping in the living room like she did was a mistake. She should have just kept booking, pushed on, shouldered through the smoke and the jokes, landed in her bedroom. Once you’re stopped, though, then starting again without a comeback, that’s admitting defeat.

She fixed Rexall in her glare.

“My dad was saying that about eating carrots because girls who want to be skinny try to eat only carrots, and the whites of their eyes will sometimes go orange, from overdoing it,” she said, touching her hair to make the connection for Rexall. “I’m guessing you being such a shit-eater explains the color of your eyes?”

Rexall surged up at this, clattering empties off the coffee table, but Jade’s dad, his eyes never leaving Jade, did hold Rexall back this time.

Rexall’s name is because he used to deal, back in whatever his day was, and Jade’s pretty sure it was exactly that: one single day.

Jade’s dad chewed the inside of his cheek in that gross way he always does, that makes Jade see the knot of spongy scar tissue between his molars.

“Got her mother’s mouth,” he said to Rexall.

“If only,” Rexall said back, and Jade had to blur her eyes to try to erase this from her head.

“That’s right, just—” she started, not even sure where she was going with this, but didn’t get to finish anyway because Tab was standing, stepping calmly across the coffee table, his eyes locked on Jade’s the whole way.

“Try me,” Jade said to him, her heart a quivering bowstring, her feet not giving an inch, even from the oily harshness of his breath, the ick of his body heat.

“This were two hundred years ago…” he said, not having to finish it because it was the same stupid thing he was always going on about: how he was born too late, how this

age, this era, he wasn’t built for it, he was a throwback, he would have been perfect back in the day, would have single-handedly scalped every settler who tried to push a plow through the dirt, or build a barn, tie a bonnet, whatever.


More like he’d have been Fort Indian #1, always hanging around the gate for the next drink.

“Might have to take you over my knee anyway,” he added, and this time, instead of continuing with this verbal sparring match, Jade’s right fist was already coming up all on its own, her feet set like she needed them to be, her torso rotating, shoulder locked, all of it, her unathletic, untrained body swinging for the fences.

It should have worked, too. Tab’s head was turned for the last drink in his bottle, and she’d never tried anything like this before, so he wasn’t special on-guard. He had been getting suckerpunched his whole stupid life, though, and had some radar as a result. Either that or God really was smiling on him.

Him, not his daughter.

He caught her fist in his open left hand easy as anything, pulled her face right to his, said, “You do not want to do this with me, girl.”

“Not with,” Jade said right into his lips, “to,” bringing her knee up into his balls like there was a rocket in her boot heel, and then, in the time it took him to keel over into the coffee table, clattering empty bottles away, Jade was running through the screen door, exploding out into the night, never mind that she wasn’t dressed for it.

The only reason she got her work coveralls at all was that they were hanging on the laundry line, skinned with frost— nobody expected weather to have rolled in over the pass like it had. She didn’t put the coveralls on until the end of the block, though, and when she did she was watching the street the whole time, her eyes the only heat she had anymore.

“Alice,” she says to herself now, shuffling through the open gate of the staging area for the Terra Nova construction going on twenty-four/seven across the lake.

Alice, the final girl from Friday the 13th, has sort-of orange hair, doesn’t she?

She does, Jade decides with a cruel smile, and that makes this dye-job not a disaster, but providence, fate. Homage. This is Friday the 13th, after all, the holiest of the holies. But she’s pissed, she reminds herself. There’s no smiling when you’re the kind of pissed she is. All that’s left to do now is turn up somewhere with hypothermia. What she’ll tell Sheriff Hardy is that her dad was partying like always and kicked her out just like last time.

All Jade has to do is tough it out. Go past shivering to something more blue-lipped and dry-eyed. Her loose plan had been to walk down the town pier to get that done—it’s public, it’s dramatic, somebody’ll find her before she’s all the way dead—but then she’d seen the flickering glow from the staging area, had no choice but to moth over.

The flickering glow is a fire, it turns out. Not a bonfire, but… she has to smile when she gets what she’s seeing: the grunts on the night shift have used the front-end loader to scoop up all the wood and trash from around the site, probably their last task before clocking out, and then they left all that trash in the big steel bucket, kept it lifted a foot or so off the ground, and dropped a flame in, probably on a shop towel they held on to until the last finger-burning instant.

Burning’s one way to get rid of a load of trash, Jade supposes. With Proofrock trying to dip down into single digits, maybe it’s the best way.

What gives Jade license to come right up to the fire with the rest of the grunts, by her reasoning at least, are her work coveralls, grimy from afternoons and weekends mopping floors and emptying trash and scrubbing toilets. Her name—“JD” for “Jennifer Daniels”—sewn onto her chest

in cursive thread proves she’s like them: not important enough to bother remembering, but the front office has to have something to call you when there’s a spill needs taken care of.

“Howdy,” she says all around, trying for no lingering eye-contact, no extra attention drawn to her. She immediately regrets howdy, is certain they’re going to take that as insult, but it’s too late to reel it back in now, isn’t it?

The one with the yellow aviators—shooting glasses, right?

—nods once, leans over to spit into the fire.

The guy beside him with the mismatched gloves backhands Shooting Glasses in rebuke, nodding to Jade like can’t Shooting Glasses see there’s a lady among them?

To show it’s no big deal, Jade leans over into the heat, her frozen face crackling, and spits all she can muster down into the swirling flames, her eyelashes curling back from the heat, it feels like.

The grunt with his faded green Carhartts tucked into his cowboy boots chuckles once in appreciation.

Jade wipes her lips with the back of her bare hand, can feel neither her lips nor the skin of her hand, is just using the brief action to case the place.

It looks the same from inside as it does through the ten-foot chain link: pallets and pallets of building material, ditch witches and scissor lifts, tired forklifts and crusty cement chutes, trucks parked wherever they were when dusk sifted in, brought the real chill with it. The heavy equipment like the front-end loaders and the bulldozers are all herded onto this side of the fenced-in area, the silhouette of the backhoe rising behind like a long-necked sauropod, the crane the undeniable king of them all, its feet planted halfway between this fire and the barge that ferries all this equipment back and forth across Indian Lake.

The day that barge was delivered by a convoy of semis and then assembled on-site, just before Thanksgiving break, it had been enough of an event that a lot of the elementary

school classes took a field trip to watch. And ever since that day, Proofrock hasn’t been able to look away. It never seems like that long, flat non-boat can carry one of these ten-ton tractors, but each time it just squats down in the water like it thinks it can, it thinks it can, and then, somehow, it does. Watching through the window during seventh period, Jade hates the way her heart swells, seeing the monstrous backhoe balanced on the nearly-submerged back of the barge again.

Does she want the backhoe to slide off, plummet down to Drown Town under the lake, or does she want the water to just rise and rise around its tall tires, nobody noticing until it’s too late?

Either will do.

At the other end of that ferry trip is Terra Nova, which Jade despises just on principle. Terra Nova is the rich development going up across the lake, in what used to be national forest before some fancy legal maneuvers carved a lip of it out for what the newspapers are calling the most gated community in all of Idaho—“So exclusive there aren’t even roads around to it!” If you want to get there, you either go by boat, balloon, or you swim, and balloons fare poorly with mountain winds, and the water’s just shy of freezing most of the year, so.

What “Terra Nova” means, all the articles are proud to reveal, is “New World.” What one of the incoming residents said, kind of famously, was that when there are no more frontiers, you have to make them yourself, don’t you?

Right now there’s ten mansions going up over there at a pace so breakneck it looks almost like the houses are rising in time lapse.

What those entrepreneurs and moguls and magnates probably don’t know, though, is that if you walk the shore around to the east from Proofrock to Terra Nova, having to tippy-toe along the dam’s spine at a certain point, the one clearing you’ll stumble into will be the old summer camp,

long gone to seed: nine falling-down cabins against a chalky white bluff, one chapel with open sides so it’s pretty much just a low roof on pillars, like a church that’s sinking, and a central meeting house nobody’s met at since forever. Unless you count the ghosts of all the kids murdered on those grounds fifty years ago.

To everyone in Proofrock it’s “Camp Blood.” Give Terra Nova a summer or two, Jade figures, and Camp Blood will be the Camp Blood Golf Course, each fairway named after one of the cabins.

It’s sacrilege, she tells anyone who’ll listen, which is mostly just Mr. Holmes, her state history teacher. You don’t remake The Exorcist, you don’t sequel Rosemary’s Baby, and you don’t be disrespectful about soil an actual slasher has walked across. Some things you just don’t touch. Not that anybody in town cares. Or: everybody likes the fifteen dollars an hour Terra Nova’s smooth-talking liaisons are paying anybody who wants to hire on for the day. Anybody like, say, Tab Daniels. Thus the surge of beer he’s been riding the last couple of months.

The transaction’s not what they think, though, that’s the thing. They’re not selling their time, their labor, their sweat, they’re selling Proofrock. Once Camelot starts sparkling right across Indian Lake, nothing’s ever going to be the same—this rant courtesy of Mr. Holmes. Before, all the swayed-in fences and cars with mismatched fenders on this side of the lake were just the way it was, the way it had always been. Now, with Terra Nova’s Porsches and Aston Martins and Maseratis and Range Rovers rolling through to park at the pier, Proofrock’s cars are going to start seeming like a rolling salvage yard. When people in Proofrock can direct their binoculars across the water to see how the rich and famous live, that’s only going to make them suddenly aware of how they’re not living, with their swayed-in fences, their roofs that should have been re-shingled two winters ago, their packed-dirt driveways, their last decade’s

hemlines and shoulder pads, because fashion takes a while to make the climb to eight thousand feet.

As Mr. Holmes put it on one of his sad digressions—it’s his last semester before retirement—Terra Nova wants to make the other side of the lake pretty and serene, nice and pristine. It’s not quite so concerned about Proofrock, which before long is going to be just what gets left behind on the way to something better: cigarettes ground out under boot heels, quick pisses behind tires as tall as a house, little jigs and jags of angle iron pushed into the dirt along with layer after sedimentary layer of lonely washers and snapped-off bolts, which is why no way will Jade be staying here even one more minute than she has to after graduation. That’s a promise. There’s Idaho City, there’s Boise, there’s the whole rest of the world waiting for her. Anywhere but here.

But that, like the hypothermia, is all later.

Right now it’s just rubbing her hands together over the fire, never mind the sparks swirling up. If she flinches from them, she’s a girl, she won’t deserve to be here at this hour.

“You all right there?” Shooting Glasses asks.

“Excellent,” Jade says back, giving him a sliver of a grin. “You?”

Instead of answering, Shooting Glasses tries to make subtle eye contact with the other grunts, except quarters are too close for “subtle.”

“I interrupting something?” Jade says all around. Mismatched Gloves shrugs, which means yes.

“Feel like I just barged into a wake, I mean,” Jade says, going from face to face.

“Good call,” Cowboy Boots says while wiping at his nose.

“I’m not Catholic,” Jade says, pulling back with all of them from a long swirling exhalation of sparks, “but isn’t there usually more drinking at a wake?”

“You’re thinking Irish,” Mismatched Gloves says with a sort-of grin.

“Let me guess,” Jade says. “Your name… McAllen?

McWhorter? Mc-something?”

“That’s Scottish,” Shooting Glasses says, staring into the fire. “Irish is O’Shaunessy, O’Brien—think luck O’ the Irish, that’s how I remember it.”

“Which of them has leprechauns?” Cowboy Boots asks.

“Shh, shh, you’re Indian, man,” Shooting Glasses tells him. “We’re talking Europe stuff here, yeah?”

“Me too,” Jade says.

“You’re a leprechaun?” Mismatched Gloves asks, smiling now as well.

“Indian,” Jade says, and, by way of formal introduction to Cowboy Boots, “Blackfoot, my dad tells me.”

“Isn’t that Blackfeet?” Shooting Glasses asks.

“Montana or Canada?” Mismatched Gloves adds in.

Jade doesn’t tell them that, in elementary, until she caught the Montana return address on what turned out to be a Christmas check, she’d always thought she was Shoshone, because those were the Indians her social studies class said were in Idaho. So, being in Idaho, that’s what she must be. But then that return address, and that tribal seal by the address—she’d saved it, kept it hidden alongside her Candyman tape. Too, back in those days she’d had the idea that, since she was starting out half Indian, that as she got bigger and taller—got more and more physical actual blood

—someday she’d be full-blood like her dad.

“Blackfeet,” she says back with faked authority. “What the fuck do you think I said?”

“Yeah,” Mismatched Gloves says, holding his different-colored hands high and away, not touching this anymore, “she sounds Blackfeet all right.”

“Adopted,” Cowboy Boots says about himself, by way of introduction. “Could be anything.”

“What he’s saying is he’s a mutt,” Mismatched Gloves says.

“Mutt your ass,” Cowboy Boots says back, and Jade files that away: on this job-site, “your ass” is the add-on way of turning anything around. Her kind of place.

“So who died?” she says to whoever’s answering.

“He didn’t die,” Cowboy Boots says, blinking something away.

“Depends on what you consider dead,” Mismatched Gloves adds.

“Greyson Brust,” Shooting Glasses says, being respectful with the name.

“Hired on with us,” Mismatched Gloves tells Jade, then shrugs an exaggerated shrug, like trying not to think of something.

“Zero days since the last accident?” Jade asks, aware of the eggshells she’s walked onto here.

Shooting Glasses chuckles kind of humorlessly.

“Place is cursed,” Jade says, which gets all of their attention, a few more unsubtle glances among them. “Probably, I mean,” she adds.

“So where you headed?” Cowboy Boots asks, trying to get Jade’s eventual exit started.

Jade, not a poker player, accidentally sneaks a glance in the direction of the great void in the night Indian Lake is, shrugs.

“She’s not going to,” Mismatched Gloves says, watching Jade hard. “She’s going from, right?”

“Killer name,” she says back to him, the answer to a question he hadn’t even been asking a little.

“Say what?” Cowboy Boots says.

“Greyson Brust,” Jade says, obviously. “That’s—he sounds like horror royalty, I mean. You can hear it, can’t you? ‘Greyson Brust’ is right up there with Harry Warden, with Billy Loomis, with John Wakefield, with Victor Crowley and Sammi Curr. With… I’m gonna say it… Jason Voorhees. Some names just have that killer ring, don’t they?”

“You good, there?” Mismatched Gloves asks, and Jade looks down to where he means: the red blooming slow in the left pocket of her coveralls, from when she was flicking the utility knife’s razor blade open and shut against her leg on the walk here.

“Got some red on me, yeah,” she kind-of-quotes, shrugging his inspection off, all the tiny scars up and down her thighs and hips crawling over themselves to be seen. And then, because now nobody’s saying anything and everything’s awkward and starting to suck, Jade backs up a smidge from the fire, says, “But you’re right, yeah. I have to be careful here. Shouldn’t be standing so close to open flames like these, I mean.”

“You were—” Cowboy Boots starts, then tries again: “I thought you were talking about—”

“Slashers,” Jade says with her best evil grin. “I was talking about slashers. They’re why I can’t catch fire here. I’m a janitor, I mean, a custodian, and what’s that but a caretaker, right? I’m practically Proofrock’s caretaker when I’m wearing this. And if I stand too close, catch a sleeve on fire, and the rest of me goes up, then…”

Jade has to gulp her smile down.

“I’m talking about Cropsy,” she says, looking from face to face for even a hint of recognition. “Slashers from 1981, Alex.”

“Um,” Shooting Glasses says.

“Okay, okay,” she says, backing up in her head to figure out where to start for them. “Say you’re the main and only caretaker for Camp Blackfoot. The one from The Burning, I mean. Not the one from Camp Blood, which is a movie to them, a place to us around here, but forget that for now. It’s just—it’s the same way Higgins Haven is in both Friday the 13th Part III and Twisted Nightmare, right?”

“You’re the janitor for this camp,” Cowboy Boots fills in, playing along.

“If I’m Cropsy I am, yeah,” Jade says, ignoring everything else. “And I’ve got my own cabin and everything. But these kids, these punks, they don’t really appreciate the way I’ve been ‘taking care’ of things, so much. Remember, this is sleepaway camp. It’s its own little closed system of punishment and reward.”

“Think I know that camp,” Shooting Glasses says. “You went to camp?” Mismatched Gloves says.

“I know the punishment part, I mean,” Shooting Glasses says back to him.

“So I’m Cropsy, I’m the janitor, the caretaker,” Jade goes on, before they forget they’re listening to her. “It’s my job to clean up all the blood in the showers. It’s my job to tump the cut-off fingers out of the bottom of the canoe. Any deaths by wasp-nest or arrow or axe, I clean them up just the same. But then all these kids get it in their head that I need to be taught a lesson, so they elect to play a harmless little prank. Kind of a time-honored tradition of camp, right?” “Got a jacket in the truck, you want one,” Cowboy Boots says to Jade. Probably because of the way her jaw’s chattering and the muscles around her eyes are jerking. But that’s not cold, that’s excitement. Usually Mr. Holmes will have cut her off by now, his big hand up between them, telling her he’s not letting her write any more papers on

horror movies, sorry.

But she can do them out loud, too.

“The prank these kids dream up,” she explains, her voice gearing down, really getting into this, “it’s that they sneak a probably-fake human skull into Cropsy’s—into my bedroom while I’m sleeping, leave it there with two little candles burning in the eye sockets, and then bang on the window to wake me up. You can guess what happens next. The prank works—I’m scared, terrified, I’ve woken up to a nightmare— my cabin’s on fire! Lesson learned, right? Wrong. In my half-asleep panic, I knock this skull over, the sheets catch fire, and then for some reason I’ve got a full can of gas in there

with me. Probably to keep it away from the kids. To keep them from hurting themselves with it in some stupid way.”

“Shit,” Shooting Glasses says.

“Now fast-forward five years after that explosion,” Jade says, like it’s a campfire they’re gathered round. “I, Cropsy, I lived through that burning… somehow. Kind of. Because I’m all melty and cratered, I wear trench coats, and my hat’s always pulled down low because any sunlight practically hisses against my tender skin, my pizza knots of scar tissue

—this is three years before Freddy, cool?”

“Got some gloves too,” Cowboy Boots offers, starting to pull his off.

“I don’t need a glove,” Jade says, set up so perfect. “First person I kill, it’s with scissors.”

“Should we—?” Shooting Glasses says to everybody but Jade.

“Shh, shh,” Mismatched Gloves tells him, getting into this.

Jade grins a not very secret grin. “By the time I make it back to the lake Camp Blackfoot’s on, though—that’s Blackfoot—those scissors have gone magnum. They’re full-on hedge clippers now. And… why scissors, you think? Why hedge clippers? That’s what I’m wanting to get at here. Maybe you can guess it. My history teacher couldn’t.”

“There somebody we can call?” Shooting Glasses asks.

“Think back to that initial prank, right?” Jade says, stopping at each face like an interrogation. “Two candles burning like eyes in that skull? Now, say I just woke up, saw that in the very last part of what I’m going to come to consider the good part of my life, wouldn’t my first impulse be to cover those eyes, to ruin those eyes, to stop this scary shit from happening? But, if I just had a letter opener, say, I’m screwed. I have to either stick it in the left eye or the right eye, which doesn’t make the scare go away, it just turns it into a pirate. But, if I’ve got scissors like Schizoid from the year before, well. Then I can pop both eyes at once. They’re the perfect weapon for this terror I’ve woken

up to. But now it’s five years later and I’m back at good old Camp Blackfoot, and there’s just a metric shit-ton of killing that needs to get done. So I ditch the scissors. Hedge clippers, though, with them I can stay back at a safe distance, just chop-chop-chop.” Jade mimes it for them, coming at each of their throats. They just watch her. “And anyway, hedge clippers, they’ve, one, never been used in a slasher before 1981, and, two, when held up so they kind of flash in the light, they kind of make you feel like you’re already dead.”

“Can I give you, you know, a ride somewhere?” Shooting Glasses asks.

“But also,” Jade barrels on, having to remind herself to breathe, “scissors and hedge clippers, they kind of fit the name, don’t they? Think about it. ‘Cropsy.’ If the name is at all descriptive, then it has to mean cropping things. Cutting them shorter than they were. Look it up in the dictionary when you get home. To ‘crop’ is to cut off the outer or upper parts. This is what I do as revenge to these campers, this summer. I crop the living shit out of them. In the woods. On a raft. In a mineshaft… all things we have right here in Proofrock.”

“What are you saying?” Cowboy Boots says, looking around like to check if he’s the only one of them wondering this.

“I’m saying that this is why I say I should be careful here,” Jade tells him, opening her hands to the fire. “If I get too close to this and go up in flames, then I’m going to come back in five years and carve through this town like, like—but I forgot to tell you all the other stuff. Shit. Did you know that on the set of The Burning, Tom Savini still had Betsy Palmer’s decapitated head from Friday the 13th, and the actors actually got to play with it like a volleyball? And, talking Friday, did you know it and Mother’s Day were filming across the lake from each other in 1979? Yeah, yeah, the crews would get together at night and drink beer, and

they, no way could they have known that the f-f-floodgates were about to open, like—like those elevator doors in The Shining, right? It must have—it was, it had to be—can you even imagine—”

Jade hates it, but she’s crying a little bit now. Maybe kind of a lot, really.

And now Shooting Glasses has her by the arm, his jacket off, around her shoulders.

He guides her away from the precious heat of the trashfire, delivers her into the passenger seat of a late-model dust-caked car that’s out of place for a construction site.

“I—I’m f-fine,” Jade finally manages to get out, trying to prove that it’s okay, she can stay, she can talk all night, she did all her slasher homework, she knows every answer, please, just ask, ask.

“I’m taking you to—” Shooting Glasses says from the driver’s seat, grubbing the keys up from the passenger seatback pocket, which makes it feel like his fingertips are touching her back. “Are you really, like, running from something?”

Jade considers this question for long enough that it becomes an answer.

“Where can I take you, then?” Shooting Glasses asks, cranking the engine.

“This your car?” Jade asks him back, wiping her face, finally breathing, and breathing too much now, too deep, like she’s about to just collapse into a girl-shaped column of tears and wishes.

“It’s like Cody out there,” Shooting Glasses says, nodding back to either Mismatched Gloves or Cowboy Boots. “We adopted it.”

Cowboy Boots, then.

“Adopted it your ass,” Jade says, pausing for a slice of a moment to clock if he hears that she’s talking like them. “Adopting a car means—it means you s-s-stole it.”

She hates shivering like this, showing weakness like this, having to have a body like this. But it’ll pass, she knows. You only shiver for a bit, when your body still has hope it can get back to warm.

“It was in the way of loading the barge last weekend,” Shooting Glasses says with an easy shrug. “We moved it in here to keep it from getting dinged up.”

“That d-doesn’t mean it’s y-y-yours.”

“We’ll give it back whenever whoever’s it is comes for it.” “Maybe it’s m-mine,” Jade says, her shoulders jerking in

spite of the jacket she’s wrapped in.

In answer to that, Shooting Glasses plucks a glittery pink Deadwood shirt off the dash, holds it up.

Jade has to smile, caught. No way can a horror fan claim a shirt like that.

“Now where we going, final girl?” Shooting Glasses says.

Jade’s heart stops, being called that. It stops and then inflates like a balloon in her chest. But, “That’s not me,” she has to say, looking out the side of the car, through her own reflection. “F-final girls are virg—they’re p-p-pure… they’re not like me.”

“Question stands.”

“I’ll show you,” Jade says, and nods to the right, into downtown Proofrock, then says to Shooting Glasses, “N-now you.”

“Me what?” Shooting Glasses says, easing the car one tire at a time over the fence panel laid on its side that Jade guesses is a gate. Close enough. When he turns the headlights on, though, she reaches across, touches his arm, shakes her head no. He sucks the light back into the front of the car. It makes it feel like they’re driving through church.

“I’d never even been here before,” Shooting Glasses says about Proofrock, sleeping all around them.

“Lucky,” Jade says, a wave of shivers rolling up her back again, her lips set against this physical betrayal. “Here.”

Shooting Glasses hand-over-hands the wheel to the left again, easing them past the drugstore, past the bank, and it’s not like church anymore. Now it’s like they’re coasting through a painting: “Quaint Mountain Towns.” “Lakeside Pastoral.” “What If 1965 Never Stopped Happening?”

“Your turn,” Jade tells Shooting Glasses. “I told you—I told you some stuff. Now you tell me some stuff. That’s how it works. Quid pro quo, Clarice.”

Shooting Glasses shakes his head side to side slow, apparently impressed that, in spite of these early stages of hypothermia, the girl’s still got it.

Jade nods that, yes, this is her, this is what she does.

“Where were you the last four years?” she says to him, kind of accidentally out loud.

“I was—” he starts, then hears it like she means it, just purses his lips, peers ahead into the unheadlit darkness.

“This is where you tell me about your buddy,” Jade explains to him. “The one that wasn’t a wake for back there. The one who didn’t die all the way or whatever.”


“Did he go live with a distant aunt to recover? Was her barn full of pitchforks, her hands full of s-sewing needles, her head full of bad ideas?”

Shooting Glasses looks over to her about this.

“That’s how it usually goes, I mean,” Jade explains, trying to show she means no insult. “The wronged party, victim of the prank, has to go somewhere long enough that everyone else can forget all about him, so it can be a s-s-surprise when he’s back.”

“You said this place was haunted,” Shooting Glasses tells her.

“By all the ghosts of who everybody used to want to be, before they died inside,” Jade says.

“What were you doing out here?” Shooting Glasses asks. “Did you know Friday the 13th, it was trying to cash in on

Halloween, yeah, sure, but then right at the very end it

forgot what it was doing, started thinking it was Carrie?” “Why do you talk about horror so much?”

“Slashers,” Jade corrects, is always correcting.

“I mean, and don’t take this the wrong way, but, have you considered that maybe you’re just hiding be—”

“Can’t I just like horror because it’s great? Does there have to be some big explanation?”

“I’m just, your leg, I think maybe that’s blood. I think maybe I should—”

Jade doesn’t hear the end because she’s popped the door, is rolling out into the cold, can’t take any more of this—her dad, this town, high school. Questions, glances, judgments. The sad way stupid Sheriff Hardy looks at her. The way Mr. Holmes is always asking her these exact same questions, every time she turns in a paper. Now even construction grunts she doesn’t know are treating her like she’s in need of special-delicate handling.

Fuck that. Fuck all of them.

She falls on the heels of her hands and her knees, doesn’t let that stop her, is already running like a ragdoll down the town pier, that kind of running that’s all untied boots, that you have to lift your chin for, because you know you’re going so fast. Halfway to the end of the pier, the stolen car’s brights blast on, throwing her shadow out ahead of her, where it plunges past the wooden planks, into the water.

Jade tries to stop but it’s slick, so, yeah, the perfect capper to the perfect night: she goes flailing over the end, just like every kid all summer long, except it’s not summer yet, and she’s seventeen, and it’s cold-thirty in the dead-dead morning.

The last thing she thinks as she’s slipping over the end is how stupid it is that that shaky light is steady for once, isn’t flickering out, and then she’s holding her breath for the icy plunge, is trying to insulate herself with slashers that happen in the snow but can only come up with Cold Prey

and Cold Prey 2, and that’s not going to be enough to keep her blood from freezing.

Instead of splashing into the lake or cracking through the thin sheet of ice that has to be there, she thunks into the bottom of the green canoe always tied there, BYOP-style: Bring Your Own Paddle.

The canoe rocks and founders, doesn’t quite roll.

Jade sits up holding the back of her head, the world blurry and getting blurrier, then, hearing footsteps coming for her, she lets the scratchy nylon rope loose, reaches out with one boot to push off into the darkness, the scrim of ice on the surface crackling around her in large, slow sheets. So she won’t have to see Shooting Glasses standing there looking for her, she fetals down on her side in the bottom of the canoe, the gunwales to either side hiding her and her orange hair, her blue lips, her red left leg, her pitch-black heart.

And she hates it more than anything, but she’s sobbing now.

No, she can never be a final girl.

Final girls are good, they’re uncomplicated, they have these reserves of courage coiled up inside them, not layer after layer of shame, or guilt, or whatever this festering poison is.

Real final girls only want the horror to be over. They don’t stay up late praying to Craven and Carpenter to send one of their savage angels down, just for a weekend maybe. Just for one night. Just for one dance, please? One last dance?

That’s all Jade needs in the world, she knows.

Instead she’s got Tab Daniels for a father, Proofrock for a prison, and high school for a torture chamber.

Kill em all, she says in her heart of hearts. Let God sort them out.

Or just leave them unsorted, floating facedown in the shallows. That works too.

Jade chuckles to herself through the tears, pats her chest pocket for the cigarette she doesn’t have, because these coveralls were just hanging on the line.

Once she’s drifted far enough out that the light from the pier can’t reach her, she sits up, takes stock, and keeps monologuing even though the trashfire is just a flickering speck of light on shore: “Did you know that kid the shark eats in Jaws, his name’s ‘Voorhees’ too?” she asks the construction grunts, all three of them so ready to smile with wonder at this. “Yeah, yeah, Voorhees kids should maybe stay out of the water, think? But that’s not even what I meant to say, okay, sorry. I was just—when Jason comes up out of the water in mossy slow motion for Alice, floating there in her safe canoe, roll-the-credits music already cueing up, that’s Friday’s Carrie moment right there, that’s the stinger that would set the mold for the Golden Age of the slasher, the eighties, and, and… the way he comes up and hugs her from behind, it’s not because he means her any violence, any harm, it’s just that he’s—he’s a little kid, goddamnit, he’s a helpless messed-up little kid and he’s fucking drowning, he’s terrified, he’s holding on to whatever he can, right? He’s scared, and she’s… she’s supposed to protect him, save him, keep him safe.”

Jade lowers her face, because the air at her chest has to

be warmer. Her lungs feel like they’re iced over, filling with something solid and permanent.

This isn’t just going to be hypothermia, Sheriff Hardy, Mr.


She’s Alice at the end of Friday the 13th now, she knows, when Friday’s starting to be Saturday, she’s Alice and she’s floating out on the lake in her canoe, waiting for the magic to happen, trying to stay out there long enough that Jason notices her up at the surface, starts rising, rising—

“Here I am,” Jade says, loopy with cold now, smiling because it doesn’t hurt anymore, and just to give Jason some color to find her, some of what he likes, she holds her

left wrist out, uses her right hand to flick the razor from the utility knife like a sharp little tongue, and she cuts longways and deep like opening a fountain, doesn’t scratch some side-to-side plea-for-help gash.

Her blood pours steaming from the fishbelly part of her left forearm and she studies it, says, “Here I am, I’m—I’m…” What stops her is how fascinating her blood is, pooled on the surface of the gelid lake. She’s seventy percent certain a misshapen face is looking up at her from the murk, its mouthful of gravestone teeth trying to grin. She smiles back, looks all around in farewell, to Proofrock where she grew up, to Terra Nova where she’s never been, to Camp

Blood, where her heart is.

“Momma I’m coming home,” she says with that Ozzy lilt, and she knows no arms are coming up from behind her for her big finale, for the slasher version of a death roll, which is really just a hug, but she closes her eyes all the same, pretends.



And then there was one. Of me, I mean, Mr. Holmes, one Jade Daniels to take

you by the hand and walk you up and down the video rental aisles of slasherland to make up for what I missed from the Freddy Glove Incident at freshman

detention, which wasn’t even really my fault, and that Freddy glove has PLASTIC blades anyway. It’s almost October though, and horror is my religion. Can I not

celebrate orthodoxly and honor my church’s holy days?

But I need to explain SLASHERS to you now, in under 2 pages.

It’s easy to think that the slasher started with Halloween, previously called The Babysitter Murders, or that it got a face when Friday the 13th III put a

certain Black Christmas hockey mask on, but still, a lot fans and true believers will go back to Psycho and Peeping Tom. However though if you ask yourself

“Who was the first masked killer?” then you can go all the long way back to Phantom of the Opera, which you might remember seeing on a high school outing probably.

What’s first and almost first isn’t as important as what’s INSIDE the slasher though, sir. And that is REVENGE plain and simple.

To explain, years ago there was some prank or crime that hurt someone and then the slasher comes back to dispense his violent brand of justice, and he’s not listening to excuses or apologies because there’s not one single one that

could ever be even halfway enough, his mission is carving and he’s not stopping until he’s stopped.

So in the case of Jason Voorhees and Freddy Krueger, what made them into a slasher is that Jason DROWNS through massive and obviously wrong neglect,

and Freddy is EXECUTED by a mob illegally, and the counselors who allowed this drowning and the parents who became this mob never get punished, just get to keep on keeping on, and it’s that unfairness that powers the slasher. As for

Michael Myers, his Ahab Dr. Loomis says he’s evil, but he’s been MADE evil, Mr.

Holmes. The crime done to him is that his sister his BABYSITTER should have been watching him closer not stripping down and sexing it up. Michael could

have been run over in the street. He could have choked on candy. He could have found a knife and got all stabby.

Only one of those three ended up happening, Mr. Holmes. It would have been a pretty short movie otherwise.

As for Ghostface from Scream, sure Billy aka Ghostface says it’s scarier when there isn’t a motive, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have one, sir. Final Girl

Sidney’s mom had an affair with his dad, breaking his family up, so a year later all the revenge starts up.

So what I’m saying is that in the slasher, wrongs are always punished. The

crew that did the Bad Prank years ago gets the just dessert they deserve, with a bloody cherry on top, and when they least expect it, making it all better, which should convert you to my side of the movie aisle and the water’s fine over here, Mr. Holmes, really. A little bloody maybe, but all the dead people are people who were asking for it. Which is my argument in a gory nutshell.

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