Chapter no 8

My Heart Is a Chainsaw

In A Nightmare on Elm Street, Nancy’s dad is a homicide detective, so she has pretty much unfettered access to the whole station, can waltz in and treat all the uniformed cops like Tatum treats Dewey, and they just have to fumble their papers and let her pass by.

Jade is no Nancy.

Meg stops Jade at her big L-shaped desk, which is pretty much the reception desk, won’t let her back into the hall that leads to Hardy’s office, to Records, to the Evidence closet, to the two holding cells, and to the only room Jade has access to, once every two weeks: Janitorial Supplies.

“Community service,” Jade explains, trying hard to sound as unenthused as possible, like there’s twenty other places she’d rather be right now.

“Community what, dear?” Meg asks, followed up by two quick bats of her fake eyelashes.

“For… you know,” Jade says, and rolls the left arm of her coveralls up to show her angry scar that, earlier—oops— she’d drawn centipede legs coming off of, like suicide is a bug she can pass with a handshake.

Meg sucks air in through her teeth, has to look away fast. Jade can still hear her daughter Tiff throwing up in the tall grass. Like mother like daughter.

“He said you might have some filing for me,” Jade explains, using her pleasant voice.

“During working hours maybe,” Meg explains right back with just as much false cheer.

“You’re here.”

“Special circumstances.”

“I can’t go home right now,” Jade says, covering the rest of that particular story with a “don’t want to talk about it” shrug, a purposeful breaking of eye contact that can only mean it’ll crack her tough-girl façade if she has to go any further into this.

Meg bites her top lip in then rotates halfway around in her chair, tapping the plastic button of her pen on the front of her top teeth, which Jade takes as a strong reminder not to chew on any pens in this office.

“Why is everyone here?” Jade’s not physically able to keep from asking after a few slower and slower tooth taps. “Somebody die, what?”

Meg doesn’t twitch a single muscle on her face, just keeps looking around for a menial enough chore. One someone with zero clearance can do, someone with negative clearance, which is to say: this one’s got sticky fingers, hungry eyes, and a bone to pick with authority. Only trust her as far as you can throw her, and keep in mind that you don’t have any arms.

“You wore your other work clothes,” Meg says, holding the back of her index finger under her nose so Jade gets the drift.

“Laundry day,” Jade tells her. Or, challenges her with. “Are you presentable under them?”

“What do you—?”

“Do you have other clothes on?”

“What’s wrong with being a janitor?”

“Too many pockets,” Meg says, staring right into Jade’s soul, “too roomy. An enterprising seventeen-year-old could smuggle a coatrack out in that.”

Jade stands and slowly unzips, holding Meg’s eyes the whole while. She steps out of the coveralls, rolls them into a ball, sets that ball on Meg’s desk, careful not to disturb all the inboxes and trays and pencil holders.

What she’s wearing now—what Meg can see now—is a shirt with a Raymond Pettibon gig poster silkscreen of a

bare-breasted dead woman named Janie, and Janie’s friend asking Jesus, also pictured, about why, if he’s Christ, why oh why won’t he raise Janie?

Meg’s lips tighten with disapproval.

“I can put them back on,” Jade says, taking a seat, slouching down in it like the criminal she is, “but who knows, I might steal all the staplers. Get a pretty good price for them on the street. Kids these days can’t get enough office supplies, I’m sure Tiff’s told you.”

“You can stuff envelopes is what you can do,” Meg says, standing with purpose, her posture prim and schoolmarmish.

“I live to serve,” Jade says, and hauls her ashes up, follows Meg… all the long way to the next desk over?

“So I can keep an eye on you,” Meg informs her.

“Wouldn’t have it any other way,” Jade says, and starts to take a seat in the empty rolling chair but Meg’s already rolling it away, replacing it with a battered stool.

“Helps with posture,” Meg says, reaching around behind Jade like to straighten her up but not going so far into legally fraught territory as to actually touch the temporary employee.

Jade allows her posture to be improved, straddles the little stool, and takes the envelopes and flyers Meg provides, enduring her walk-through as well: proper method, desired results, blah, blah. The flyers are pale green, are for some referendum to restrict the airspace over Proofrock.


“Sorry, Sherlock,” she says, and licks envelope number one, starts her stack of done-withs, pulls up the second flyer in desperate need of a careful crease.

For the first forty or so of them, Meg watches, harrumphing at Jade’s more sloppy attempts, humming conditional approval over the better ones. The sun goes down and the overhead lights become more important. Phones ring and radios hiss, feet scuffle, and Jade’s shoe-

polished hair, she has to admit, is letting off an acrid scent that she thinks might be either getting her high or dollying her up to some ledge she’s meant to tumble off.

At the hundred and fourteen mark she nods forward, her forehead resting on the top of the desk for just a moment’s peace, but Meg clears her throat in a wake-up way and Jade startles, leans back into it.

“How many hours is this so far?” she asks.

“You keep your own time,” Meg says. “We’ll just hope it matches the time sheet I turn in to the sheriff.”

“Wonderful,” Jade says, and accidentally-on-super-purpose rips the flyer she’s trying so hard to fold just right.

“Recycling,” Meg tells her, directing Jade to the bin across the room, by the copy machine—same model as the library’s, probably the same purchase order—and by the time Jade shuffles back she knows it’s not worth the pleasure of wasting paper if it means she has to get up each time to do it. Her back does feel better, though. Maybe stools aren’t as evil as she’d always thought.

“What is that smell?” Meg asks minutes or hours later, interrupting whichever reverie Jade’s jellyfishing through. “Did you spill gas on your…” She jabs the rolled coveralls with the button of her pen.

“I don’t drive,” Jade tells her, voice creaky at first. “And they don’t trust me with the lawnmowers.”

“Probably a wise precaution,” Meg says as if to herself, and turns to some task on her computer.

A hundred and thirty stuffed envelopes later, the fourth pile of them teetering in most dangerous fashion, Hardy steps in as if through the batwing doors of a saloon.

“Megan, I need you to—” he starts, is stopped just as fast by Jade’s presence.

“Sheriff,” she says, repaying the jumpscare he gave her last night.

“What you doing here?” he asks.

“Community service?” Jade asks right back.

“She’s stuffing envelopes, sir,” Meg says, looking up over her glasses to show Hardy that he’s making a nuisance of himself in the front office, when his job is obviously not the front office.

“I see, okay, okay,” he says, rubbing his nose with the back of his hand, his six-hours-old five o’clock shadow raspy and loud against the stiff cuff of his shirt.

“Is everything…?” Meg asks, completing the sentence with her eyes.

“Staties are here,” Hardy says with a shrug, like he didn’t want the dead-Founder case anyway. To show how all right he is with it, he hangs his brown coat on the unstolen coatrack, puts his flat-brimmed official hat on top of that, and then swings his belt off, crashes it down on a lateral filing cabinet hard enough that Jade expects the service revolver to fire into her gut.

“You don’t have to stay,” Hardy says to Meg. “Gonna be a long night.”

“And miss all the excitement?” Meg says back with a grin. “Don’t know what I’d do without you,” Hardy tells her,

and, passing by her desk, works something stubby and black up from his shirt pocket, deposits it in a wire-screen pencil holder on Meg’s desk, tapping the lip of the pencil holder twice.

“If anybody calls—” Hardy starts, “Route them through Dispatch,” Meg finishes. “And then tell you who they are, of course.”

“My Girl Friday,” Hardy says, sweeping past.

Jade has no idea what kind of pornographic pet name that might be, and doesn’t think she wants to know.

Hardy stops at the hall, loosening the brown tie she’s only now realizing he’s got on.

“You were supposed to start tomorrow,” he tells her, his voice booming through the station.

“Early bird gets the maggot,” Jade says, flashing an evil smile.

“Eat what you will, eat what you will…” Hardy says in farewell, fading down the hall, still working on his tie.

“Very proper for a young lady,” Meg tells Jade without having to look over to say it.

“I’m a woman, hear me roar,” Jade says back, and licks the next envelope with as much attitude as she can pack into it, imagining her tongue lacerated by a thousand cuts, her teeth coating in blood.

An hour later Jade’s on stack seven of infinity, and every time she looks up, her vision is stained pale green. The corner in the wall over by the copy machine is actually a giant fold in-process, and Jade, inside that white envelope, has checkboxes for eyes. The stool she’s stuck on has a sticky surface some greater tongue has already licked. Meg is a greasy black hair that’s fallen into the works to mess everything up, one Jade can’t quite pinch up or flick away.

She raises her hand and Meg calls on her. “Yes?”


“Complete sentence, please?”

“May I visit the single stall women’s restroom whose toilet I know better than I want to already?” Jade says with full-on defeat. “The one I’ve been scrubbing already for the past—”

Meg chaperones her down the hall.

“Receptionista and ladies’ room attendant,” Jade says. “This is a full-service station, isn’t it?”

“Feel free to wiggle out the window in there,” Meg says. “It’s rusted open.”

“The night is an embryo…” Jade says, leaning in. Washing her hands, she catches a flash of herself in the mirror. “Nightmare Girl to the rescue,” she says, “up up and—”

Meg escorts her back to her station that feels like a cell, in the town that’s definitely a prison.

This is such a great plan for glomming onto information about whatever happened in Terra Nova, yes. But, on the sulky way past Meg’s desk, Jade does at least clock that

wire-screen pencil holder that Hardy deposited something into: TRANSCRIPTIONS.

Well well well.

“There anything else I can do instead?” Jade whines to Meg.

“When you’re done with the referendums you can apply postage, yes,” Meg says, her eyes holding on to Jade’s, maybe to see her flinch.

“More licking, yay,” Jade says, and takes her stool.

For the next two stacks she imagines going fast enough that she sweats, fast enough that she can rub the tacky backside of the eventual stamps into her swampy armpits before applying them to the envelopes.

Get your entertainment where you can find it, right?

For now Jade has to make do with the grey smudges her stained fingers are still leaving on the pristine white envelopes, which she guesses will make the people of Proofrock aware these are hand-stuffed, not machine-.

Like that matters. Like any of this does.

This time when Jade lowers her forehead to the desktop for just a moment’s escape, she forgets that she’s awake, so that when she comes to, she’s all alone in the front office, like she’s been sucked into some Freddyfied version of where she just was.

She looks to the doorway for a bleating lamb, to the other doorway for a bodybag sliding away, and then to the water cooler, to see if it’s just water in there.

It is. For now.

Jade taps her right foot on the ground, testing it. Not oatmeal. Same old floor.

Maybe this isn’t a dream. Meaning… meaning Meg didn’t wake her this time? Jade dials her hearing up, can just make out Hardy in lecture mode in his office, Meg’s attentive burble filling in the empty spaces, and some quiet stretches between the two of them that’s probably some official on speakerphone.

When Jade tries to glide over to the Important Pencil Holder on Meg’s desk, she finds, moments too late, that her legs are asleep, so it’s more of a stumbling lurch, one that dislodges an inbox of metal-case clipboards, sends them sailing over the edge.

Jade dive-falls, just keeps them from rattling to the floor.

She sets them gently back in their place, checks the hall again because Meg can appear at any moment, and then she’s in Meg’s chair, is fumbling for the digital recorder Hardy dropped in the pencil holder.

It smells like his breath, plugs into Meg’s computer like it knows that socket, confirming for Jade whatever “Girl Friday” means. And now, of course—of course—Hardy’s voice in his office is doing that rising thing that denotes the end of whatever session this is for him and Meg and the caller.

“Shit shit shit,” Jade whispers, and jabs a tab open in Meg’s browser, dials her school email up and logs in, jacking the password up not just once but two times, the warning flashing that one more failed attempt and she’ll be locked out until tomorrow.

Making herself go slow, she enters the letters of “Haddonfield” backwards, replacing the vowels with symbols and numbers.

Her inbox pops on-screen.

She drags the only file off the digital recorder into a new message right as the door closes down the hall, Meg’s shoes approaching at a painfully brisk clip. But the file isn’t loaded yet, is too big, shit shit shit.

Jade sends it anyway, which at least minimizes that guilty window, and, making herself wait long enough that the file might have had long enough to get sent, she guides the digital recorder out of its socket—X’ing out the DEVICE REMOVED WITHOUT EJECTING error pop-up—sliding it over, over, over…

She can’t lift her hand to get it over the metal lip of the wire-screen pencil holder, the TRANSCRIPTIONS to-do box. Not

without announcing what she’s just been doing.

Is this it, then? Is this where she gets busted, hauled into the place she already is, her mask ripped off?

Not if it doesn’t have to be.

Not before she hears that recording, anyway.

Because she can’t give herself away by raising the hand she has turtled over the recorder, she leaves it there beside the pencil holder and slumps forward as if exhausted, trying hard to sell that this is just where her hand got to unintentionally, ma’am, sir. Meg.

“And what are we doing here?” Meg asks, suddenly just there.

Jade fake-flinches, “roused” from a cat-nap on the clock.

What her mouse hand has opened just on reflex is the last email from Mr. Holmes. It’s still the top message in her inbox. And now that it’s open, it could have just been new.

“Just,” Jade gulps, calling on her inner Billy, her inner Stu, finally saying, “Mr. Holmes.” She leans back, holds her hand out, presenting the email for Meg to see. “My dad doesn’t believe in internet,” she adds, cringing from having to play a card this needy.

Meg just scans the email. It’s about certain liberties she took with the bibliography of her last make-up paper, the biggest of those liberties being that there wasn’t a bibliography.

“I’m…” Jade starts, starts again, fully aware she’s the only one speaking here: “Ask Sheriff Hardy. It’s a late paper he wanted me to still submit.”

“The sheriff?”

“Mr. Holmes. For history class.”

“Which you already graduated from.” “It’s complicated.”

“That part I do believe,” Meg says, scooching in but not yet displacing Jade, a proximity Jade overplays her reaction to, jerking her left arm—and hand—such that that wire-

screen pencil holder goes tumbling off the edge of the desk, the digital recorder swan-diving in right after it.

“Shit, shit, sorry,” Jade says, standing so that Meg’s rolling chair rattles back against a file cabinet.

“This is why we should all stay at our own stations,” Meg tsk-tsks, collecting the scattered objects as if they’re nothing. She holds up the recorder, though, says, “If this doesn’t work…”

Jade nods, playing guilty. For just and only that, nothing else.

“Go on then,” Meg says about the still-open email on her screen. “I don’t want to stand in the way of academic progress. Reply. I’m sure teachers in the summer live for messages from students. Especially retired teachers.”

Jade positions her fingers at the keyboard version of ten and two, makes her email as short as she can: Just finished it this morning, will send it tomorrow by noon. doc or pdf?

She sends it with a flourish, like tapping the final ivory key of a piano performance, and in getting that fancy, she manages to accidentally open the file already attached higher in that thread. For a bad moment she’s sure Hardy’s mumbled voice is going to come through Meg’s speakers, but then the computer’s two-bytes are just rubbing together in their digital way to open the word processor around this document.

“He wants hard copy too?” Meg asks, probably because, being Tiff’s mom, she knows Mr. Holmes prefers paper over digital. Probably so he can stand outside and smoke while grading.

“Do you mind?” Jade asks.

Meg motions for Jade to continue being the burden she already is, so Jade hits print, and—shit shit shit, that’s right. This is one of her lists, could be either giallos in order of descending title length or “Actors Whose First Role Was in a Slasher”!

Neither are her best side, she’s pretty sure.

The printer spools up high, higher, and then starts spitting out not a single page, which would be the stack of giallos, but the three- or four-pager, with Tom Hanks and George Clooney, Jennifer Aniston and Daphne Zuniga probably so prominent that no way can Meg not say something about them.

Meg, reading a memo, wanders over, plucks the stack-so-far up, and gives it a cursory scan.

“Johnny Depp?” she says to Jade.

“Nightmare on My Street,” Jade mumbles, sucking her top lip in.

Meg breathes in deep, blows it out slow, and walks the pages over to Jade, says, “Using office supplies costs fifteen minutes on your time card.”

“Thank you,” Jade says, and logs out of the computer much more carefully, spins around in her chair like a real long-time county employee, her coveralls magically in her lap already.

“And he is cute, I’ll give him that,” Meg calls after her. Jade looks back, He? evidently painted on her face.

“Johnny Depp,” Meg says, complete with playful eyebrows. “I used to have a poster of him on my wall.”

“Brad Pitt was in Cutting Class,” Jade throws out there.

Meg considers this, finally seems to decide she’s not sure they’re each in the same conversation, so ends it with, “It’s between you and him of course. Mr. Holmes, I mean.”

“And the school district,” Jade adds, rolling her list of slasher debuts into a tube and popping it on the end, which is Meg’s cue to usher her the rest of the way out of the front office, apparently.

“Has it been twelve hours already?” Jade play-asks, electing to push the door open before her rather than have her face smushed into it.

“Just wait,” Meg says, sweeping the problem Jade is from her office. “When you’re my age, you’d pay anything to have these hours back.”

Jade chocks her coveralls under her arm with the roll of pages, and, maybe fifteen steps from the building, all her attention pouring into her phone, waiting for this sound file to load from her email, she hears the single worst possible sound to hear: a lamb, bleating from the darkness to her immediate right.

Jade gasps and gulps in the same instant somehow, which sends her coughing, ends with her bent over, hands on her knees so she can dry-heave.

The bleat comes again, maybe a touch slower this time, as if aware of the response it’s provoking.

Her eyes adjusting to the night now, Jade can just make out a shape stepping forward out of the gathered shadows, and, because she is who she is and knows what she knows, she’d bet her last breath—which she just coughed up, pretty much—that that shadowy figure’s about to go bandy-legged, its arms stretching out farther and farther from its sides, until the knives-for-fingers on the right hand can scratch into a wall, a tree, her throat, it doesn’t matter.

“Whoah, whoah,” this Freddy says, though.

Bit by bit, Jade assembles this voice into one she’s known since kindergarten.

“Banner?” she says. Banner Tompkins?

He steps forward, flipping the hourglass in his hand, which… isn’t an hourglass at all. It’s a deer-call, one of those little cans with some air-driven mechanism inside that bleats out a deer call when you turn it over.

And—and Banner, he’s got a rifle slung over his shoulder, warpaint under his eyes, hunting pants tucked into his boots.

“Jade,” he says back, and then they both look up when the world goes halogen-white: two pickups screeching in, the lead truck hiking a front tire up onto the grass. The beds of both trucks are lined with more hunters.

“What?” Jade says, just in general.

“Bye now,” Banner says, and touches the brim of his straw cowboy hat, vaults up into the bed of the lead truck, which is already peeling out.

“Who?” Jade says then, because her first question was so effective.

She steps out of the way for the trucks to barrel past, and the grim faces of all these high school graduates and their dads sitting across from each other in the beds, the butts of their rifles riding their knees, long barrels tilting into the sky

—they’re soldiers, aren’t they? This is some kind of war.

Against what? The deer?

The last face Jade sees is Lee Scanlon’s. He’s looking back, his free hand clamped tight on the tailgate, his lips pressed together, his eyes for all the world pleading with her, as if he’s being abducted, just needs someone to say something about it.

Jade tracks the taillights until they make a turn just short of the highway, to the right. Where there’s only logging roads that all bottleneck at the Old Bridge, two miles down the creek. The bridge that only leads to…

Caribou-Targhee National Forest, on the other side of the lake.

“Jaws,” Jade says at last, like making a late identification of those two trucks. This is that comic relief scene in Jaws, where all the boats are vying for space in the water so can they be the ones to haul the killer shark back to Amity Island.

It’s not so funny in real life, though. That look in Lee Scanlon’s eyes for the half-second Jade saw him, it was fear, one hundred percent. Not that there’s any sharks up here in the mountains. And not like any motley crew of villagers ever actually kills the slasher—looking at you, Halloween 4.

Jade remembers that massacred herd of elk over in Sheep’s Head Meadow on the other side of the lake, though. And elk are way tougher than people are.

For a moment she considers ducking back into the sheriff’s office to have Meg pass word on to Hardy that strange things are afoot at this particular Circle K. Things that could get people hurt.

But, too, a slasher’s gonna do what it’s gonna do, right? You can’t stop wheels this big and timeless from turning, from grinding over who they need to grind over. All you can do is keep your eye on the sky, for if one of those wheels is rolling at you.

Jade thumbs her earbuds in right then left, wobbles her head to make sure the cable’s free enough, and Hardy’s already droning through them at a steady mumble.

“—the one who looked like a young George Peppard, that one? Or’s he too old for you, Megan?”

Jade sneaks a look behind her to be sure she’s alone. With Hardy whispering right in her ear, she doesn’t feel very alone. She does most definitely clock Hardy’s use of past tense, though. Whoever he talked about looked, not “looks.” Ding ding ding, give the man a headstone, he’s dead.

No clue on “George Peppard,” though she likes the way Hardy rides that last syllable. It makes her want to say it herself, except of course he’s not waiting for her, is just droning on. Fast-fast, she pauses his dictation, image-searches “George Peppard,” and, holy shit, Hardy was right: that is one of the Founders, right down to the rakish smile, the hair, the softness at the edges that means money.

Deacon Samuels.

To be sure-sure, Jade searches him up as well, tabs back and forth from Peppard, and, yep, it’s like she did the same search twice.

Point for Hardy.

“Thank you, sir,” she says to him, and unpauses his voice. “He didn’t exactly have permission, no, strike that, strike that, delete. I mean, I’d given him a warning already, that better? Yeah, looked like someone was shooting a Roman candle over there, just poof, poof, poof, these orange fizzing

balls arcing up from the old camp, sizzling down into the lake.”

“That was you, then,” Jade says to Deacon Samuels, looking up as if she can see all the way to Camp Blood from here. But, if the Terra Novans are the ones using the old campground as a place to shoot fireworks off now, then where are the kids from Proofrock supposed to hook up, drink? More important for Jade: where’s she supposed to hide out for a night or two when she needs a place?

“But it wasn’t fireworks,” Hardy’s going on, talking quieter now, as if he’s hiding under the monkey bars at recess. “He was—get this—he had a bucket of gas right there by him, in this little tee box where he’d cut the grass down so it wouldn’t wrap the head of his driver up on the way down. A tee box is like, shit—sorry, sorry. It’s like a batter’s box had a baby with a putting green? That help? Anyway, what he was doing… I got to get the order down here, else his ass’ll blow up instead of—but I’m getting to that.

“So he had good expensive balls down in that gas, Dixon Fires, no joke, and then he had a lit candle maybe four feet away—about as far as he could reach while keeping his feet planted, same position every time, so he could know what to adjust. You know what I’m talking about, Don plays, you’ve seen him swing into that net he sets up in his front yard. Anyway, what Samuels would do is dunk the head of his driver into that bucket of gas—and, no lying, it was a Maruman, Megan, hand-crafted out of Japan, by families who probably, I don’t know, make samurai swords? And these are just as deadly. One of them would pay for two of my trucks, for half of my house probably, and he’s dipping the head in gasoline! And, if anybody asks, that driver’s in Evidence now. But let’s hope nobody asks. You know how tags fall off sometimes, stuff gets lost. Small town, don’t have the manpower to keep up with everything. It’s still a good club, I mean, might get me ten yards farther, out of the rough for good. We’re about the same height, me and

Samuels. Or, we were. But I’m getting ahead of myself, sorry, sorry.

“Anyway, he’d fish down in that gas bucket with the head of his driver, and he’d come up with a dripping ball balanced right perfect on it, deadcenter on that logo, and then, no lie, he’d dribble it up and down just like a paddle ball, just like Tiger, except with a driver, not a sand wedge, which has that flat landing pad on top, not a humped back. Something to see, believe you me. When I puttered over there the first time, it about hypnotized me, that. I thought I was maybe in a commercial. That he was about to make me famous.

“Then though, he’d get that little Dixon going good and bounce it hard once, so it’d go up a touch over head-height, and he’d use that time to pass the head of that driver through the flame of the candle, and it would poof orange but wouldn’t break his rhythm enough that he couldn’t catch the ball when it came down.

“Still with me on this? Now the head of that Maruman’s lit, sparking, and the ball catches fire too, is just going up and down, up and down. That first time I was over there, I expected to keep sneaking looks over at cabin five like always, you know, your dad probably told you about that, but anyway, shit, sorry, then I couldn’t stop myself smiling over his little trick. You know he’s on the cover of golfing magazines, right, this Deacon Samuels? Well, it’s not because of his real estate. Some people just have it. Or, had it, yeah.

“Anyway, just like Tiger then, he’d dribble, dribble, becoming like one with the ball—Chevy Chase, you know that movie? Forget it. Before your time as well. But Samuels would bounce, bounce, his knees starting to go up and down with the ball, like, and then he’d draw the Maruman back and he’d slash it forward with the prettiest stroke you’ve ever seen, I promise, making that perfect little knock, and he’d hold the follow-through too, hold it in a way that told me he’d played some baseball as a kid, wasn’t only a golfer.

“And that ball, Meg, hot damn. There’d be a crush of sparks each time he did it, each time he slapped it with the head of that driver, and then it would launch up out of that, arc high out over the lake like a meteor, and then plunk down into Ezekiel’s Cold Box with all the other balls he’d already been hitting.

“I couldn’t ticket him up for something that beautiful, Meg. Or for burying treasure like a whole bucket of Dixon Fires out there either—oh, shit, just hearing that, a Dixon Fire is on fire. But don’t include that in the write-up. Just what we need. ‘Sheriff shows favoritism to rich residents on other side of lake, can evidently be bought,’ no thanks. I did warn him, though. And, if he let me hit any balls into the lake, then, well. Let’s just say he didn’t and leave it at that?”

Jade turns the corner by the drugstore, her shadow leaking out ahead of her from one of the two streetlights the bank had installed next door to protect its ATM. Because Proofrock is full-to-bursting with kid John Connors, yeah. Important, too, there’s no golf course in all of Pleasant Valley. Even if there was, though, what Jade doesn’t know about golf would still fill all of Indian Lake. All the same, though, her heart does kind of swell, watching those flaming balls arc out over the dark water and hang, hang.

Which is exactly how easy it would be to fall in love with rich people. With Terra Nova.

Mr. Holmes is right, one hundred percent.

And he’s lucky one of those golf ball meteors never burned through the silk of his wings while he was up there, Jade supposes. But, not like he’s not flying with a lit cigarette, either. And, now that Jade thinks about it, just who was it who called these fireworks in, and who in maybe-return for that warning asked for that airspace referendum?

She nods in solidarity with Mr. Holmes, bumps the dictation back twenty seconds and adjusts her left earbud, doesn’t want to miss a word.

“Any the hell way, you can take it to the fucking bank that that’s what Samuels was doing over there when he got his ass killed. The bucket was there, still sloshing with unleaded. The club was there in the tall grass, waiting to get tagged and bagged. The candle he’d been using was burned down, somehow managed not to light the whole damn valley up. No witnesses, of course. But it was that Mondragon girl that found him, you know the one—oldest of them all? Black? Looks like a model from a magazine?”

Jade makes a fist, shakes it. Of course Letha found the next victim. Final girls have an unerring sense, are forever stumbling on eviscerated bodies, decapitated heads. Each one is a stepping stone to who she’s about to become.

“She says she went out there when the fireballs stopped happening. She made the two girls she was sitting on the dock with… let’s see, I wrote them down. Yeah, the Baker twins, I guess the Bakers left them there for the week or something. Or maybe Samuels trucked them in when he breezed into town, they don’t tell me anything. But, so the Mondragon girl, she made… yeah, ‘Cinn’ and ‘Ginger,’ that’s it, those Baker girls, she made them stay there while she went to see if Samuels had blown himself up, was flopping in the lake trying to douse the flames. She didn’t say ‘flopping,’ though, maybe make a note of that. And I take it ‘Cinn,’ which she spelled for me, is for ‘Cinnamon.’ It’s not like they’re real witnesses.

“Anyway, the Mondragon girl beats feet over there, it’s only fifteen minutes if you hug the shore, even in the dark, and… she’s probably going to need some therapy, Megan. Good thing her dad can afford it, right? Samuels, he was… I don’t want to paint the picture in your head… let’s just say that that bodybag I keep tucked in the boat, that I might or might not ice down for beers for the Fourth? It wouldn’t do the trick. Had to ask the Mondragon wife, Queenie or whatever, to go into the kitchen of that big yacht, fetch us back some sandwich-size ziplock bags. It was while I was

standing around waiting for them, taking a trip down memory lane, cabin five kind of pulsing in my vision, when I saw what was right before my goddamn eyes, Megan.

“A bear print, clear as day and twice as big, I tell you. Because the mud was wet, there were even claws scratched into the ground two or three inches past the pads of the feet. A big-ass boar, I mean, and, judging by Samuels’s, um, condition, a pretty unhappy one. Rex Allen tried to make a joke about Smokey the Bear just doing his job, open flame and all, but I shut that down quick, got on the horn to the ranger station.

“Time their man got here—I’m talking about Seth Mullins here, that’s two L’s—they’d decided to let me in on the little secret that they’ve had a trash grizzly causing problems over towards the Wyoming line. These are those bears that start to like human food a little too much. And, know what? Right there in Samuels’s golf bag was a paper sack of some sort of pastries. Smelled them before I saw them, you know how I am when there’s a donut in the room.

“Anyway, I know it can get kind of stale around these parts, that a little mystery might juice things up nice-like, but all we ended up with, aside from a man getting stuffed in sandwich bags, was about five minutes of mystery, or however long it took me to walk from the remains over to the bear print.

“Only other tracks for the staties to find with their fancy degrees and thousand-dollar equipment were ours, and then the Mondragon girl left some bare feet tracks I guess, that’s ‘bare’ as in no shoes, not ‘bear’ as in… you get it. So, not counting all the tracks we could account for, and taking into account the one track from a bear we now knew was a problem case for the federal Forest Service—police work really isn’t that hard, is it, Meggie? Hard part’s—”

Jade pulls the earbuds down, has to lean over she’s breathing so deep.

So Banner Tompkins and Lee Scanlon and the rest of them are out after a rogue bear, then. A killer bear. A verified monster. “Grizzly, 1976, Alex,” she manages to dredge up, spit out. “Sometimes called a slasher with a bear, but really just Jaws on land, minus Quint.” Which is minus everything.


If it had been a Proofrocker getting portioned up for the freezer here, Jade would know that the prank that woke this slasher was some crime twenty years ago, maybe even Melanie Hardy’s drowning, which would probably put Jade’s dad on the victim list, which would be just fine, thank you.

What does it mean that an untouchable Founder had been killed, though? And, not just killed, but killed in a way that a bear could be framed? How long had it taken whoever was doing this to lure a bear in to cover their tracks?

More important, why? Is this some townie with a chip on his shoulder about who was pulling good hours at the construction site, who wasn’t? Is Terra Nova messing up the back porch vista a certain someone had been counting on staring into for retirement? If so—if either of those—then why now instead of months ago? Had it been last night because whoever it was knew Deacon Samuels would be out there alone, since he’d been alone out there before?

“Who are you?” Jade says to Indian Lake.

It’s a good reflective moment, and she’s milking it for all the drama it’s worth when her phone rings in her hand and she fumbles it away, drops her coveralls, tangles her feet in them and falls, her pages unrolling every which way at once, her elbow scraping on the asphalt so she can answer the phone with a sharp “What already?”

At first, nothing. Then, timidly, “Um, I think I know you from, from the ladies’ r—”

“You got the package,” Jade says, rolling over onto her back, the wash of stars opening up above her. “You found the—the… you found them both. The kid in the lake. The Foun—Deacon Samuels. You know it’s really happening.”

Again, silence.

“Do you need those pants back?” Letha Mondragon asks in a way that Jade can see her mouth, kind of smiling.

“There’s so much I need to tell you,” Jade says. “I’ll be your… what’s that Pinocchio dude called, with the love letters?”

“Cyrano de Bergerac?”

“Like, together, my knowledge, what I know, mixed with your… your everything.”

“What are you saying?”

“Something’s coming is what I’m saying. It’s already here is what I’m saying. You’ve seen it yourself, the proof anyway.”

Letha doesn’t respond to this.

Jade goes on: “I didn’t know it was going to cross the lake for… for Terra Nova, though. I’m sorry.”

“I have so many questions.”

“I’m the girl made of answers.”

“The bench,” Letha Mondragon says, and it takes Jade a moment to reel through all the benches in Proofrock, finally settle on the only one that could be considered the main one: Melanie Hardy’s memorial bench by the water, just up from the pier. To Letha, arriving by Umiak every morning for school last semester, it’s probably the only bench.

“Out in the open, good, good,” Jade says. “You don’t know if you can trust me yet. You’ve got to be careful, I might be the one doing all this. Shit, I should have thought of that.”

“My dad says—”

“Parents in slashers are either drunks or they want to put bars on your bedroom windows. Sometimes both.”

Letha breathes in and out, is maybe about to cry, here.

Jade is looking across the lake at the yacht, back at its mooring.

“It wasn’t a bear,” Jade says at last. “I think you know that, don’t you?”

“Somebody pinched the candle out,” Letha says, quieter, like this is just for Jade.

“It didn’t just blow out?” Jade asks back.

Letha doesn’t answer, and in that silence Jade stands and spins around, silently cussing at herself: whose side is she on here? Not her own, evidently.

“Never mind,” she adds.

“Okay,” Letha says back timidly.

Jade takes a step closer to the water, then another step, is standing in it up to her shins now, her printed-out pages floating around her.

“That candle being out could mean it’s somebody from over here,” she says, quiet as well now. “We’ve all been trained on not burning down the national forest since kindergarten.”


“But nobody over there would want to burn down their new house, either,” Jade says. “And… did the sheriff ask if you were wearing shoes when you—you…?”

“He didn’t ask,” Letha says with barely enough air to activate her larynx.

“We can’t do this over the phone,” Jade tells her. “Three o’clock?”

Jade counters with lunch, which she can sacrifice for this.

A thousand lunches, even. All the lunches she has left. “Which light is yours?” she asks then.

In reply, one of the thirty or so glowing windows over there blackens, then comes back.

“Noon,” Letha says, confirming it.

Jade nods, hangs up without a goodbye, holding the warm face of the phone to her chest, her feet not even cold in the water. She tells the Mr. Holmes in her head that she’s not falling in love with Terra Nova, sir, don’t worry.

Not all of it, anyway.



So okay I know I said this sequel or part 2 of my 2 parter extra credit paper would get here, and here it is, after what I guess we can call the Interview Project Meat Grinder. But if “Soul Crusher” works better then cool. I am still barely a sophomore though anyway, so there’s that. And it’s lucky I am too,

since whoever it was that made a Leatherface mask for themselves out of edible panties from the truck stop and then ran down the hall doing boogity boogity hands at everybody didn’t escape down the sophomore hall, but the JUNIOR hall, meaning it was most definitely and undoubtedly for sure a junior. And I might

add that all so called evidence should be edible.

But part 2 — masks and cameras, which means going to Italy.

While Psycho was getting its success and formula ripped off all during the 60s, which I’m sure you remember first hand, there was another tradition

cooking in the red sauce over in Italy’s boot heel, or maybe the leg part, this isn’t Geography. I’m talking about the Giallo, sir, which is a word that means

yellow and a name that means “trashy movie with a bodycount.” As you can tell, a Giallo is like a proto slasher. It is to the slasher what dinosaurs are to birds.

Why the Giallo is super important is that it’s where the camera technique was born that’s basically what Carpenter would do in 1978 for Halloween. Killers in Giallos don’t wear masks I mean, sir. Or, they do wear masks, but they’re HAND masks. What’s a hand mask you ask? That would be a… GLOVE. Killers in Giallos all wear these black gloves. Those gloves are like that Father Death robe in

Scream. They hide gender and race and body type and marriage status and tattoos and finger count and also knuckle hairiness, Pamela Voorhees, ha ha. But the camera in the Giallo is always looking down AT those gloves doing their

bloody work. And because everything is limited to what those killer eyes can see, black gloves are all the disguise that’s needed to keep an identity hidden as setup for the Reveal.

So to conclude already so soon, what was black gloves in the groovy 60s became through John Carpenter’s director camera MASK eyeholes to look

through in the 70s, which is what we in Slasher Studies call “SlasherCam,” which for example is Billy’s starting out Point of View in Black Christmas or the shark’s in Jaws, which isn’t just a monster movie but also a slasher, wink wink.

Never mind that that’s Debra Hill’s hands on the actual knife in that

Halloween opening, not Kid Michael’s. What you need to pay attention to instead is what those hands are wearing, which proves my point that John Carpenter knew the tradition he was using, the Italian bodycount movie, the Giallo. Those gloves, sir, are WHITE. This is Carpenter saying that, yes, he knows from whence all this bloody business comes, but he’s doing the INVERSION of that, he’s one-upping it all, sir. This isn’t the only reason Halloween is and was great and

forever will be, but this is a 2 page part 2 so I can only talk about the first 5 minutes. But I’ll “BE RIGHT BACK… ” don’t worry.

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