Chapter no 4

My Heart Is a Chainsaw

The rest of the day blurs past for Jade. It’s like she’s moving at normal speed, but everyone else in the halls and classrooms and cafeteria are superfast ants. Either that or it’s her that’s going slow, her that’s trying to wade through syrup.

In seventh period, probably because he’s tired of teaching the same old history unit—the Shoshone and the Oregon Trail, mining and Drown Town—Mr. Holmes shows them a video he’s taken from the ultralight little airplane he’s been buzzing around in all year, and sometimes parks in the parking lot even though his house is only three blocks away.

Because there are no airspace laws over Indian Lake yet

—“But wait, wait,” he says all sad-like—he can drift over to Terra Nova if the wind’s not too bad, report back on the progress of construction. That’s maybe why he built the ultralight in the first place, Terra Nova being his pre-retirement paranoia. But the ultralight’s pretty cool, Jade thinks—it’s pretty much just a sky go-cart. She’s surprised he hasn’t already killed himself with it.

Now that he’s mounted one of the school’s videocameras to the frame, it won’t be long, she imagines. Tilting his fabric wings this way or that for a better angle, a longer shot, that’s a good way to take a header into a flagpole, a tree, the tall brick side of the drugstore, or even just the hard surface of the lake.

Like he’s always saying, though, we all become history at some point or another, right? And, if Jade’s right about there being a final girl in town at long last—if that’s in fact what Letha Mondragon, sitting two rows up and one over, is— then what that means is that a slasher cycle is trying to get

started, meaning life’s about to get real cheap around these parts. A lot of people’s insides are about to start being on the outside.

Jade can hardly help smiling. Best graduation present


But it’s not a for-sure thing yet, she reminds herself. It can still be wishful thinking on her part. When you’re wearing slasher goggles, everything can look like a slasher.

What she needs is proof the cycle’s starting, and in the slasher that proof only ever takes one form: a couple of randos getting eviscerated, usually while half-dressed. It’s the blood sacrifice the ritual needs to get going right.

Who will it be, though?

Jade cases history class, looking for any of the telltale signs of impending death: a water bottle sloshing with something a lot harsher than water (check); a text thread exploding with a party’s address (check); a pair of pupils dilated well past mellow (check, check, check); the purple corner of a condom wrapper sticking up from a wallet or purse (it’s already torn, but still: check).

And—will this slasher be punishing the graduating class due to some long-ago forgotten prank their parents were part of, or will this have more to do with trespassing, with waking something that should have been left sleeping? If it’s the trespassing build, then Camp Blood will probably play a part, since that kind of horror always has tendrils connecting it to the black-and-white past. If the slasher’s here for something the parents have done and know they’ve done, though, then the slasher and the final girl will probably face off at the scene of the original prank, which will most likely be the lake.

Either way works.

Jade can’t help but smile.

“Ms. Daniels?” Mr. Holmes says, reeling her back to class. “I’m watching, I’m watching,” Jade says, and she sort of

even is. On the rolled-in television screen Mr. Holmes has

tied the videocamera into, he’s just crossed the opposite shore of Indian Lake, is skimming the top of the pine trees about a quarter mile to the north of Terra Nova.

“Wait for it, wait for it,” he says from the front of the classroom, and then dives forward for the pause button when he clears the last tree. “Trigger warning,” he turns around to announce, a mischievous glint to his eye. “All vegetarians, prepare to upchuck the celery and beets you had for lunch.”

Mr. Holmes is always arguing that he wouldn’t eat cows if they weren’t made of meat, which is enough of a groaner to sort of wrap around to endearing, in a sad way.

“More like cucumber, right, Ambs?” Lee Scanlon announces to the room single entendre–style, Amber Wayne kicking his chair from behind.

“Now now,” Mr. Holmes says, and the way he does slow-motion with the playback is by tapping the pause button over and over, inching his flight forward. It’s like a slideshow now, Jade guesses, and settles in to see what he saw on his last big trip across the lake.

From the front of the room, Tiffany Koenig, closest to the screen, gasps and covers her face, turns away. Mr. Holmes just smiles, tapping the pause button with delicious slowness.

In the high sloping meadow just past the tall line of trees right on the shore, spread out so you can kind of still see the formation they were in, are ten or twenty dead elk, their legs and heads all twisted and contracted into grotesque configurations.

Jade leans forward in her desk, because there was definitely some real and unique pain in this lonely meadow. Some roving Cenobite got its pound of flesh, and then the rest of the pounds of flesh as well.

Banner Tompkins stands, crowds the screen, a couple of the other football players suddenly interested in history class as well. It’s kind of a first.

“What—what did it?” Letha asks, and all heads turn to her. She’s not looking away, but the pain in her voice, on her face, is about to spill over into tears, it sounds like. For the

sad innocent animals.

“Such a tragedy,” Banner says, trying to match her emotion.

“Please,” Jade hears herself scoffing, and Banner looks back to her, flashes his grin that she’s pretty sure means Shhh, shh, I’m almost into her pants, here.

If only he knew who he was dealing with.

“What did it, yes,” Mr. Holmes is saying, doing that thing where he thinks on his feet while the image is paused and trembling. “As you can see, there are no bullet or arrow holes, no holes at all.”

“Beaver fever,” Lee says, and gets a high five from Banner, a sneer from most of the girls.

“Giardiasis,” Mr. Holmes corrects, as if considering this possibility. “But… wouldn’t an elk’s four-chambered stomach take care of most parasites? Or, would nineteen elks’ stomachs fail to do so, and all at the same time?”

“Griz,” Banner finally says, and, as if his judgment here is final, he takes his seat.

Mr. Holmes comes around slow on the heel of his right loafer, his left skating just over the floor, stopping him perfect, a move Jade’s always appreciated—not that she’d ever tell him.

“Mr. Tompkins may be on to something,” he says. “Do you see how the bull’s neck there has been broken? What other animal out there would have that kind of raw power?”

“A bear?” Letha says, as if just making the connection between it and “griz.”

“Oh my,” Amber adds with fake drama, covering the O of her mouth with her so-delicate fingers.

“There is wildlife on that side of the lake, Ms. Mondragon, yes,” Mr. Holmes informs Letha. “One of the many perils of living in what was formerly a national preserve.”

“Can we—you know?” Tiffany K pleads, rolling her hand forward for the play button please.

Mr. Holmes grins, lets his flight glide on past this meadow of dead elk and then bank high over the forest, swoop back in the direction of Proofrock—

“Wait, wait,” Letha says, coming up from her seat a bit.

Mr. Holmes catches the pause key and Jade realizes she has been gone a long time: not only have the houses of Terra Nova been getting real and actual skins over their wood frames the last two months, but there’s driveways being carved out, unlikely pools and ponds being scraped into the rock, and an actual dock latched onto the shore now.

Tied onto the dock somehow, but probably anchored too, because the lake is deep on the steep side of Pleasant Valley, is the kind of yacht Jade’s only seen in movies. Ones about drug dealers.

Did it get lifted in on a fleet of cargo helicopters, or was it trucked in on one of those wide-load rigs?

“Oh, that’s just Tiara,” Letha says, not so much with pride as with… defeat?

Tiara must be the bombshell blond white woman tanning in a nothing-bikini on one of the many decks of the yacht. She’s straight out of Cheerleader Camp—easy to hate.

“Sister?” Banner says hopefully.

“Stepmother,” Letha says curtly, no malice at all, but maybe a trace of what sounds to Jade a lot like forced pleasantness. It’s the first chink she’s seen in Letha’s final girl armor, but really it’s just more support for her being a final girl: before getting sucked into the slasher cycle, the final girl will have to have some sort of pre-existing issue. For example, Mr. Holmes: in Scream, Sidney’s pre-existing issue was her mother’s death. In Urban Legend, Natalie’s trying to live down the death she accidentally caused years ago.

Letha’s issue must be this trophy wife who’s supposed to be her mom. Either that or—or it’s whatever happened to her actual mom, all wrapped up with how fast her dad found a replacement, one who could be Letha’s older sister.

Had this “Tiara” already been cued up, possibly? Were the circumstances of Letha’s mom’s death perhaps… mysterious?

Jade has to look down into her lap to keep her eyes hidden.

“Go on, go on,” Amber says to Mr. Holmes, just to get Tiara’s bikini away from the front of the classroom, and Mr. Holmes, having old man fingers, of course cues ahead and then stabs the pause in again, this time holding on the shaky-guilty image of his left hand, a cigarette cocked between the fingers—cigarettes it’s common knowledge he’s promised his wife he’s done with forever. Cigarettes that Jade has to guess fall down out of the sky all over Proofrock. Cigarettes that could be anybody’s, but aren’t.

The dirty dog.

It kind of gives Jade a new respect for him. Never mind his complete inability to cue the recording past that image. At least it gets him to usher them all gone before last bell. Jade walks out into the parking lot alone, already unwinding the gauze from her wrist. She lets it trail behind her all the way over to Golding Elementary. It’s not usually her beat, but that’s where Main Supplies is: her next pair of coveralls.

“Bye, now,” she says to the gauze, watching it dance higher and higher in the breeze, a long skinny ghost.

Jade goes into the elementary the back way, finds Main Supplies first try—this was her school for six years—and has her pick of the leftover coveralls. Yay. She steps into the least stained of them, stands into the shoulders, and shoots her arms down through the sleeves. They’re too big again, smell like whoever wore them last, but whatever. At least the zipper works.

She uses her Crüe earrings to pin her name-patch to the chest, over the thread-holes from the last unlucky soul.

“So it begins,” she says, tying her hair back as best she can, as short as it is, and ducked ahead like that, she sees the old timecard rack behind the open door, a relic of more analog times. Rexall, the janitor for these parts—he’s a natural with throwup—has his phone tucked in there, charging.

It reminds Jade of the mystery phone still in her back pocket.

Moving quietly now, as if that makes a difference, she unplugs Rexall’s, starts this pink one charging on its cable.

Three forever minutes later, Jade tapping energy into the floor the phone can have if it wants, it powers on. Five minutes later, Jade can’t even dream what the passcode might be. “SVEN”—7836—is a fail, as is 1234, 4321, and all the corners and diamonds both ways. She’s about to shrug and say screw it, go outside and do some drop tests because why not, but then… she palms her own phone, goes to the last call, the one to the non-U.S. number, and redials, ready to hang up to duck any overseas charges.

The phone she’s holding doesn’t ring. Of course. If your if-found number rings the phone that’s just been found, then you don’t deserve to get your phone back. And if you were thinking that was going to happen, well, Jade isn’t sure what she deserves.

She sits on the stool that’s right there, starts punching a flurry of random codes with both thumbs, is probably ninety seconds into it before she realizes she’s not alone, that there’s a shape looming beside her, and sort of behind. A shape with a distinctly acrid scent, undercut with… is that Jergens?

“Trying to give me a fucking heart attack, man?” she says to Rexall.

He steps forward, his coveralls matching hers. Before this exact moment, and counting all the nights he spends

passed out on the couch fifteen feet from her bed, she’s always managed to avoid being in tight places alone with him.

“You’ll never get it that way, Blue,” Rexall says about the phone, his breath some sort of minty, which doesn’t fit with the rest of how he presents.

“Just forgot the code,” Jade mumbles. “Trying all my usual ones.”

“That’s why you’re two-fisting it?” Rexall says about the fact that she’s holding more than one phone. He licks his lips long and slow, presumably so they won’t crack when he grins the lecherous grin Jade knows is coming.

“You know,” she says to him, resetting, “here in a little bit, Hardy’s going to be looking for suspects for… for something that’s about to start happening. You’re maybe going to be at the top of that list, might want to have your alibis in order.”

“I didn’t even know her, Your Honor,” Rexall says, holding his Boy Scout fingers up but then leaning over to take a profane sniff of the back of his middle finger.

“Just remembered,” Jade says, “I don’t talk to you anymore.”

Rexall holds his left hand out for the pink phone, snaps twice when Jade doesn’t give it.

“What for?” she asks.

“She said without talking to him,” Rexall halfway-quotes back to her, and—what the hell—it’s either surrender it or continue this conversation. “Wouldn’t believe how many of these get permanently lost over here,” he goes on, stepping over to a PC buried under about fifteen half-done computer repair jobs. “I crack them, wipe them, jailbreak them, they go for hundred and fifty each, easy like Sunday morning.”

“I’m not looking to sell it, I’m just—”

“Yeah, yeah, it’s your backup phone,” Rexall says, plugging it into the PC, tabbing over to a terminal window. “Fifty dollars.”

“I don’t have fifty dollars, Rexall. I don’t even have fifty cents.”

“Show me a little something then?” he says. “Couple of… not-so-little somethings?”

“Um,” Jade says, no eye contact, resisting the urge to check the zipper of her coveralls. “I’m seventeen? Not that that’s even an appropriate request if I was legal.”

“Had to try,” Rexall says with a no-harm no-foul shrug, then out-louds the magic key-combo he’s typing that runs his program: 36-26-36.

“You sure you should be working around kids?” Jade asks. “Or even around, you know, living people?”

“Tried the morgue in Boise,” he says. “There was… an incident. Ask your dad about it sometime, he was there.”

Jade waits for him to guffaw or chuckle, because this has to be a joke, doesn’t it? Please? Finally she just says, “How about you do this for free, I don’t narc you out to Hardy. Not for cracking this phone, I mean. For… inappropriate requests?”

Rexall stiffens but doesn’t turn around.

“I was just goofing,” he says as if hurt, hitting return grandly, the pink phone flashing twice then going black.

“Great, your fancy program bricked it,” Jade says, taking it when he hands it to her. “Thanks.”

“Power her up,” he says. “No passcode anymore, all the data remains. You’re welcome, jailbait.”

“You give scuzz a bad name, Rexall,” Jade says, holding the pink phone’s power button in.

“Thank me now or thank me later…” he says. Then, about his own phone in the timecard slot: “Plug mine back in, won’t you? It’s… it’s doing something.”

Jade nods her best noncommittal nod, is waiting for the pink phone’s startup to finally get over with.

“And—and don’t, like, look at it?” Rexall adds on his way out, eyebrows raised like he’s just asking for common courtesy here.

Jade doesn’t dignify this, just stares him down until he’s gone. A half step later she has his phone, is powering it down without having to log in, mostly because she doesn’t want the distant thrill it would probably give him for her to type that “36-26-36” in. When the phone’s cycled down, she steps up onto the stool, hides his phone in the ceiling, pulls the tile back into place, says in monotone, “Sheriff Hardy, the evidence you need is right above Main Supplies, I saw him tucking it up there one day.”

The pink phone buzzes awake in her hand. Jade taps through this and that, most of it in a language she doesn’t know. But then she lands in the photo album, because selfies are the universal language.

The most recent is a video.

“What have we here…” she says, ducking out of Main Supplies, watching and walking, trying to beat the rush of elementary kids to the exit doors.

At first it’s just foggy nothing playing back at her, but then the phone’s camera figures out how to focus through whatever that is—that same sandwich bag?—and it’s a naked blond girl, flashes of a naked blond guy.

“Unauthorized Use of the Town Canoe,” Jade tells them, unwinding her earbuds and clocking the date: six days before her “attempt,” as the therapist in Idaho Falls calls it.

She guesses she’s lucky the town canoe had even found its way back by the time she needed it, right?

As for who these kids are, first, their English is all intoned funny, and second, around here they’d be Towhead 1 and Towhead 2—blond mops she’d have shared crayons with, freckled faces she would know. And she doesn’t.

“Sven,” Jade says then, turning backwards to push through the double doors, out into the sunlight. Inside Golding Elementary the bell rings, meaning Jade’s just ahead of the tidal wave of coughing and sniffing and yelling and crying.

It could wash right over her and she wouldn’t even notice.

The guy—Sven—has just gone over the side of the canoe. Jade stops walking, stops breathing.

“What the bleeping bleep…” she says, looking around for if any of the parents in the hug-n-go lane have cued into the momentous thing happening on this phone’s screen. They’re just staring, waiting for her to move already, please.

Jade nods sorry, sorry, and steps along, scrubbing the video back to when Sven goes over, the pale soles of his feet there and gone.

The girl is all alone now, and, going by what Sven called her at the pier, her name is… ‘Throat Murder?’ ‘Thromudder?’ ‘Crone Mother?’ Jade settles on the easier “Blondie.” As in, Just what is Blondie flinching away from?

Jade looks up, out to Indian Lake, as if she can see what was terrorizing this blond girl that night.

She rewinds again to Sven going over the side, memorizing every splash, every breath, every moment of this magical thing that happened after Proofrock was asleep, and this time through she flinches with Blondie, even turns around with her, trying to see over all sides of the canoe as well.

“This could have been you, horror girl,” she says to herself.

Same lake, same pier, same boat, almost the same night.

Now the girl is paddling away from something alongside the canoe, and now—no, no—she’s slipping over the side because swimming has to be faster. Meaning Jade can only hear now.

The girl’s scream splits the night in two and then cuts off just as fast, the silence after it quieter and deeper than any Jade’s ever experienced.

In Friday the 13th, it’s two blond counselors who get the blade to start the ritual, Barry and Claudette. In Proofrock, in whatever this is going to be called, it’s two blond out-of-towners. Two Netherlanders, Sven and Blondie.

“Thank you,” Jade says to them, kissing the screen then flinching back from the pink phone ringing against her lips. She rubs the sensation away, and then, on the fifth ring, because the kids flowing past are watching her, wondering if she’s going to, she answers—holds it up to her ear, anyway.

It’s that same language from the video. The one word that’s the same, evidently, is “detective.”

That’s all Jade needs to hear.

Calmly, not in any kind of panic, just another wrong number, she hangs up, bends to attend to her right boot, and when she stands, she’s sliding the pink phone under her chunky sole. When she moves ahead with the surge of kids, she’s sliding the phone out into the road, into a puddle. It slurps the phone right in, but then the phone bobs up to the surface—the case must float, shit. It’s just hanging there like a flat cork, so pink, so obvious, ringing again now, two fourth-graders stopped by Jade to watch this unfolding tragedy.

“Oops,” the taller of the two girls tells Jade. Jade’s just staring.

“Here—” the shorter one says, stepping forward to retrieve the phone for Jade, who’s evidently too heartbroken, too scared, but Jade, her palm stabbing out to the girl’s chest, stops her, a bus swishing by in that same instant, honking loud and long, close enough that the tips of the girl’s hair rub along the dingy yellow paint.

Behind Jade, a woman screams, the kind of scream that makes Jade feel like she just got punched in the gut, it’s from so deep.

She looks back in wonder, half-expecting it to be the blond girl from the video.

It’s Misty Christy the rhyming realtor, rushing to the shorter of the two girls, pulling her into a hard hug.

“You saved her,” the tall girl says up to Jade, and Jade looks to the retreating bus, to Misty Christy clutching her

saved daughter, and then to the puddle. Pieces of the shattered phone are bobbing in the water.

Jade swallows, and then Misty Christy is hugging her too, hugging her and crying, and Jade, unable to speak, doesn’t tell her that it was an accident, that she was only keeping this elementary schooler from getting the phone, she wasn’t trying to save any lives, be any kind of hero—that’s not what she does. Kind of the opposite, really.

When Jade’s finally released from this hug, there’s a half-moon of parents arrayed on the grass, all watching her, waiting to see what the horror girl’s going to do now. Jade presses her lips into a sort of smile, is kind of wondering what she’s going to do as well. Finally she just thrusts her hands in her pockets, shoulders around to hide from them all, and the first step she takes is deep into the puddle that ate the phone.

Her foot goes cold and wet and she keeps moving, and half a block later she finally sputters a breath out, draws another in deep-deep, her hands steepled over her mouth.

Those Dutch kids in the lake. They—what them dying like that means… it means this is—

It’s started, Jade knows. It’s finally happening.



Actually the slasher ISN’T impossible or just in the movies, sir. But it does need certain minimum requirements after the initial prank.

The 1st thing is the Blood Sacrifice. Think Judith Myers the big sister in

Halloween or Casey Becker from Scream, or her 1960 version Marion Crane in, you guessed it, Psycho.

The 2nd thing a slasher needs is Adults, surprise. And by adults I mean those parents and teachers and cops who dismiss all this tomfoolery of the kids being just kids. Think A Nightmare on Elm Street where Nancy’s dad the police

detective should listen to his daughter. Or Officer Dorf from Friday the 13th who can’t even drive his own motorcycle but with a name like Dorf what do you

expect. If the adults and police were competent then all this could be stopped. Or go to Final Destination’s Bludworth, who is really and forever Candyman

Tony Todd, an adult who actually BELIEVES these kids, but because of that he can’t talk to any other adults. Or even when the adult knows for sure and

believes beyond any shadowy doubts, which is rare like Dr. Loomis in Halloween or Crazy Ralph in Friday the 13th, then nobody believes THEM, which is the main sucky part about being a kid. Well it’s 1 of the sucky parts but don’t get me started because then I’ll be talking about how it’s not really suspension worthy if someone replaces the sex ed videotape with that arrow coming up from Kevin

Bacon’s throat, but this paper is of such educational value that it should make up for that.

3rd of what the slasher needs is for all this to happen pretty much Overnight.

The reason you need that is because a slasher that happens over a single bad night in Haddonfield, it’s believable that the adults who could put a stop to it are distracted or it’s their night off. The 3rd and a half necessary ingredient which is kind of part of “Overnight” is a Party. Slashers love to crash parties. Think what if Proofrock were getting a slasher. What night might we all be in one place for for this bloody business?

Next and 4th is the Signature Weapon. Jason has his machete, Michael has his kitchen knife, Ghostface has a hunting knife, Freddy has his glove, Cropsy has those hedge clippers, the Fisherman who still knows what you did last summer

has that hook, and, 5th, the pentagram number, you need someone to WIELD that weapon, sir.

Enter the Slasher and his opposite the Final Girl, our #6, who you know from me telling you when I was a freshman.

So in conclusion once a slasher comes back from the “dead” and does the Blood Sacrifice with a Signature Weapon, then the Adults go incompetent, there’s an Overnight Party, and a Final Girl stumbles out of the library and into this meat grinder, but don’t forget about #7.

That’s the Sequel, Mr. Holmes, which this paper will ALSO have, where you’ll be thrilled to learn all about 2 other necessary things, Masks and SlasherCam, but that’s next semester, since right now I have to either do this interview

project for half my history grade or die trying.

You'll Also Like