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Chapter no 38 – FATHER KNOWS BEST‌

Playground

Deeply disturbed looks latched onto the faces of the kids as they first set eyes on the slides. The stretched jaws and furrowed brows were indicative of a new dread; one that had somehow driven them past the previous zenith. Each of the slides was positioned at the beginning of a pit of blackness.

The long slab of U-shaped metal stretched on for thirty yards over the certain doom. The ride ended on a lower-level platform where an open elevator door awaited. But coasting over the gaping void wasn’t even close to the most terrifying aspect of the sadistic stunt.

Beneath each of the slides were clusters of circular saw blades. They were positioned in a way that, upon descent, there was no way to avoid crossing over them. But in a perverse, gimmicky fashion, the machinery attached beneath the slides, pushed the spinning blades through the slits and then backed them out, rotating every few seconds.

The threat of extreme violence faced them, but the timing mechanism allowed a brief window for safe passage. If they slid down at just the right time, they would coast over the slits while the saws were retracted and avoid the hazard. But alternatively, if they chose the wrong moment, the saws would shred them to ribbons.

The severity of such damage would most likely be of the irreparable variety.

Tanya watched Donnie take a step closer to the edge. “Hold on to my hand,” she said.

She wrapped her trembling digits around the boy. The shrill twist of the spinning saw blades made Tanya’s body tighten. Her troubled squint found CJ.

“I—I don’t know if I can do this,” she said.

“It’s all about timing, if anyone can do it, it’s you,” CJ said.

There was even more stress straining his voice than before. Looking back to the rest of the group, he saw each child adorning their own stage of worry.

“We can all do this. We just have to watch the saws. If we can pass over the blades when they’re coming down, I think the—”

A loud motorized noise coming from behind them cut CJ off. The pit that lay under the greased monkey bars rumbled.

Isaac looked back to where the commotion was. To his ultimate dismay, the floor of the deadly pit was elevating towards them.

“Oh no! It’s coming up! The snakes are coming! It’s moving fast!” Isaac cried.

The sight injected him with a new motivation. He ran over to the ladder and propped his foot up on it.

The sound of the hissing heathens drew closer. They couldn’t be certain if they were poisonous or not, but they’d been conditioned to jump to worst-case scenarios as of late.

“What do we do?!” Sadie cried.

The sight of the buzzing saws wasn’t much more favorable than the horde of reptiles closing in.

“Everybody on the ladders!” CJ yelled. “C’mon, Sadie!” Isaac yelled.

As the children scrambled, the platform leveled out, and the knotty upsurge of the blood-drenched serpents slithered forth.

There wasn’t time to choose which slide they wanted to be on. On one side, Tanya continued to guide Donnie up to the top of the fifteen-foot ladder. She held him steady while CJ climbed up into the space behind his sister.

On the opposite side, Isaac made his way up to the top quicker than anyone else. He peeled his eyes from the scary sight of the saw to check on his sister.

As Sadie pulled herself up, she remained just a short distance behind her brother. The tears found her again and her face crinkled. She felt pain; her skin had grown sore from the continuous expressions of dread.

Bobby didn’t have a choice but to be on the same side as Isaac and Sadie. The snakes had come so fast that it was to be his destiny. He was a

few steps high, but far enough from the serpents to avoid peril.

When Isaac looked down the massive chute, the sheer length of the ride made his knees buckle. He clenched the metal poles tightly and watched the saw blades repeat their motions.

Up.

Down.

Up.

Down.

Up.

Down.

Across the way, Donnie did the same as Isaac. However, he saw the unforgiving steel with a far calmer poise. While he wasn’t as frightened, his unflinching yet blank nature did little to contribute ideas.

CJ was too far below to gauge a strategy. He felt helpless when it came to planning. Donnie surely wouldn’t be the one to probe about the topic. He turned his head toward Isaac. CJ hoped he’d be able to rely on him.

“Isaac!” CJ yelled.

“Yeah?!” Isaac answered.

“How many seconds is it between when the saws go down and come up?!”

Isaac waited for the blades to drop, then counted.

“One-one-thousand, two-one-thousand, three-one-thousand, four-one-thousand, five—”

The metal popped up, reclaiming its prior position.

“It’s—It’s just about four seconds, I think?!” Isaac hollered back. “You think?” CJ asked.

“Is it four seconds or not, fuckface!” Bobby yelled. “Stop yelling!” Sadie demanded.

“Shut up!”

“Everyone be quiet! I think I’ve got an idea!” Isaac interjected.

He pulled his body forward and cautiously balanced himself at the top of the slide. His shaking rump sat on the flat part of the tube just before the dip. Isaac untied his left sneaker and slipped it off his foot. He tested with the shoe, gliding the rubber along the metal that comprised the slide.

Isaac was disappointed when he noticed the material got hung up, gripping against the metal instead of easily sailing down it.

“Dang,” he mumbled.

Another idea quickly struck him. Isaac used his free hand to remove the sock over his foot. Upon brushing the soft cotton against the slide, he found it glided against the metal without issue.

“What the heck are you doing?” CJ asked. “A test run!” he replied.

Isaac unbuckled the brown belt around his waist. Then he slid the leather off, bunched it up, and stuffed it into the shoe hole. He palmed the weighted sneaker in his hand afterward and judged the density. Lastly, Isaac took hold of the sock and stretched it out. Once the material was slacked enough, he slipped the cotton around the entire shoe.

Sweat dripped off the tip of his nose, and his glasses clouded. His eyes darted from the sock-wrapped sneaker over to the blades. He watched intently, waiting for them to return.

He calculated the space between him and the first set of blades. If he slid down while they were showing, by the time he reached them, they should already be back down. The distance between each set looked about the same. If the sneaker made it by the first set of blades, it should also make it past the remaining saws just the same.

“Here we go!” Isaac yelled.

As the blades came up, the sneakers slid toward them. Just as Isaac predicted, the smooth gliding sneaker moved past the first set without issue. Then past the second and third, before arriving safely at the below platform.

“It made it!” Isaac rejoiced.

“What does that mean?!” Tanya yelled. There was still much worry in her tone.

“It—It means that if you slide down right when the saw blades come up that we should make it through without getting cut!”

“Should?!” CJ yelled.

“I think so. We’re all heavier than the shoes so we might go a little faster, but I think there was enough space in between!”

A snarl found Bobby’s face, his impatience, anger, and annoyance beamed.

“Then go ahead! If you’re so fucking sure then—” “Bobby, he’s trying to help!” CJ yelled.

His brother’s antics were wearing on him.

“No, he’s right. I should go first. Besides, I don’t think we have another option!” Isaac yelled.

“Don’t leave me, Isaac!” Sadie cried. Isaac looked back at his kid sister.

“I’m not leaving you. I’ve just gotta get down there first. Once I do, then I can tell you exactly when to come down. It’ll be alright, I promise.”

Since they’d entered the playground, Isaac had made enough promises to his sister to fill up a punch card. She’d earned another free one. Still, nothing had changed. Not a single one of them was guaranteed.

“I’m scared, I—I don’t want you to go yet,” she cried.

“Well, whether you like it or not, he’s going!” Bobby barked.

Sadie’s hysterical sobs broke Isaac’s heart. He wanted to cuss Bobby out, but he knew it wouldn’t help the situation. He controlled his emotions and stared into his sister’s eyes.

“Do you trust me?”

When Sadie nodded, multiple tears toppled off her face. “Then I’ll see you down there, okay?”

She could only offer Isaac a horrified nod; her brother had said enough to convince her.

“Alright, here we go,” Isaac said.

He looked back toward the meat-wrecking machinery. The lump in his throat grew to gargantuan dimensions as he watched the blades go down.

He couldn’t blink.

A big bead of sweat drizzled into his eye stinging it, but it didn’t deter his concentration. He clenched the metal bars readying himself, and just as the spiky tips of the saw blades emerged, he pushed forward.

Isaac’s take-off was clean. While nothing snagged him initially, that didn’t stop the screams of terror from erupting out of his esophagus as he approached the first set of saw blades. He kept his feet angled upward as he closed in, elevating his heels higher. It might very well come down to inches, and if that was the case, Isaac needed to ensure he gave himself the best shake at clearing the saws.

Thankfully, it wasn’t as close as he projected it to be. The blades fell into their slits just before the bottom of his feet reached them. The same as his sneaker had done, Isaac sailed safely past each of the perils implanted on the path of malice.

“Yes!” CJ cheered. “He did it! I can’t believe he did it!”

The adrenaline coursing through Isaac hadn’t allowed him to celebrate or even comprehend the frightening feat that he’d just conquered. As his

body thudded against the cold ground, the emotional exhaustion weighed him down.

“Just have a seat on top. You’re just gonna go for a little slide now, okay?” Tanya asked.

As Tanya readied little Donnie, he obeyed her, flattening out at the peak of the slide.

As an extra measure of precaution, she held onto the back of his shirt, not trusting that he wouldn’t just skip ahead like he’d been known to.

One by one, Donnie, Tanya, and CJ found a way to forget their fear. They trusted the results that Isaac’s successful attempt presented them with. As Isaac regained his bearings, he noticed Donnie standing over him.

He was holding onto the sock-wrapped shoe. Donnie thoughtfully set it down in front of Isaac, just as Tanya found her way to safety.

By the time CJ made his way down, Isaac was once again wearing all of his clothing and accessories. While he was happy to see the three of them arrive unscathed, his attention immediately turned back to his sister.

When he looked at the top of the distant slide, he saw Sadie’s blonde ponytails trembling and her toothless frown in the distance. She was frozen from the fear; her entire body possessed at a steady rattle.

“Fucking go!” Bobby screamed.

Sadie remained motionless. Her small, shaky arms were clamped onto the metal bars on each side of the slide. Her insides ached as a yellowish fluid exited her body and drizzled down the massive chute.

It only took seconds for the warm trickle to make its way onto the platform in front of Isaac. As the pungent odor of the urine invaded his nostrils, a terrible feeling came over him. He instantly knew that his sister was in deep trouble.

“I—I’m scared, Isaac! I can’t do it!” Sadie cried. “Yes, you can!” Isaac yelled.

“No! It’s gonna cut me up! I’m gonna look like Sam!” A thick string of drool seeped out of Sadie’s mouth.

“You just have to slide down when the blades are up! I can watch them for you and tell you when to—”

A grainy sizzle suddenly echoed throughout the room. A voice came over the loudspeaker blotting out any chatter. But the voice didn’t project an endearing or frightened tone. It wasn’t about concern; it was about command.

“Bobby, I know I’ve always been down on you for not having what it takes to play ball. But maybe I was wrong. Maybe that skateboarding you do can actually help you. Just think about it, if you find something to ride down on, then you won’t get hurt. These little fuckers killed Kip! We can’t just let them get away with it! It’s only fair. Don’t disappoint me, Son. Don’t disappoint—”

Greg’s voice cut off just as the horrified cries and curses of Tom and Molly exploded in the background.

“Noooooo!” Isaac screamed.

Bobby’s mind was already in a dark place. Since he’d witnessed his brother being broken down into shreds, he felt different. Just because he was a disappointment to his father, it didn’t change the instincts entrenched in his bodily fiber. If anything, it only amplified it.

He wanted his father’s acceptance. He wanted to make him proud.

Bobby would never be CJ or Kip. He wasn’t fortunate enough to be blessed with such a raw knack for sports or athleticism. He could never be what his father wanted.

Until now.

The violence had slowly desensitized him. It made reaching for Sadie’s ankle much easier. Before the little girl could understand the macabre nature of what Mr. Matthews was suggesting, Bobby gave her a good tug. She pancaked forward, landing flat on the top of the slide. Bobby elevated himself closer and pinned her back down with his knee.

“Bobby, what the hell are you doing?!” CJ cried.

As Bobby retrieved the forgotten knife from his waistband, he was struck by a moment of brief hesitation. He wondered if he could really go through with it. It was like a thunderstorm inside his head. The electric current struck, and images materialized in his mind.

Flashes of Greg’s grinning face—they radiated a proudness the likes of which he’d never been graced with.

Flashes of Kip’s brutalized remains—they oozed the faint traces of the life he was robbed of.

Flashes of Isaac finishing hopscotch—the release of relief that he didn’t deserve.

“This is for Kip!” Bobby yelled. “Bobby, no!” CJ cried.

“Stop!” Isaac begged.

The hard point of the blade plunged through Sadie’s back, sliding several inches inside her. The depth of the wound went almost up to the hilt, causing her little lung to collapse in the process.

Tanya was shell-shocked by her brother’s actions. As she clenched onto Donnie, she recalled Bobby’s mean-spirited jabs. It just seemed like a normal sibling rivalry. She never imagined he might be capable of such an atrocity.

But what confused her almost as much as Bobby’s unforgivable act, was her father’s sadistic directions. It was a side of him that was seething with a vengeance. A sickening dimension of his personality she’d never seen. Did he really believe that Isaac or Sadie had anything to do with Kip’s death?

Sadie squirmed and cried out, but her pleas were cut short by a cough.

A hot mass of blood and spit rained down the metal slide.

Bobby held Sadie steady as the blade exited her back. It reentered her tissue beside the initial wound just as quickly. He continued to back-stab her repeatedly until the blood was pissing out of the several holes dotting her back with each breath she took.

Bobby slammed the gory tip into her one last time. This poke landed closer to her neck, and the sheer force drove it deeper into Sadie’s body than any of the prior strikes.

It was by design.

Bobby yanked it around intentionally, confirming that the knife was securely lodged inside her flesh.

Bobby pulled himself up to the top of the slide and methodically nudged Sadie to the edge where it dipped.

As she choked on her own blood, the red rained down the long chute, tracing over the path of her piss. And just like he did on his skateboard, Bobby secured his footing on Sadie’s backside.

He steadied his balance by holding onto each end of the U-shaped slide. Then, Bobby set his right foot close to Sadie’s neck, just behind the knife he’d left sticking out of her back. A chiropractor-caliber crack erupted from Sadie’s spinal column. As he pressed her pale face into the metal, Bobby could feel the bubbling blood in her lungs as she attempted to gasp for air. Sadie’s internal rumble continued as he set his left foot down on her butt.

“Just like you wanted, Dad,” Bobby whispered.

He used his arms to pull himself forward and soon realized that the amount of blood and piss on the slide had created an even slipperier slope.

Bobby always enjoyed riding fast, so as he rushed toward the blades, his excitement heavily outweighed his fear. He believed there was enough meat underneath him to avoid getting sliced into.

Despite not being academically inclined, his horrific hypothesis proved true. The first set of blades didn’t cut all the way through Sadie’s backside; she’d caught the tail end of the cycle. The mauling slowed them momentarily while the metal carved out several gaping wounds into her face and neck. Tiny teeth ejected, gums were gashed, and parts of her lips were ripped off. Sadie’s chest and bones were sliced through, the revolutions deep enough to almost reach the organs inside her torso.

The immense outpouring of blood offered additional lubrication, accelerating their pace. As Sadie’s upper body hit the next wave of blades, the steel shredded into her even deeper. When the pink meat was divided by wild slicing, the flesh was flung in every direction. The act of violence was so devastating, it made Sadie look like human vomit.

 

 

Sadie’s tongue and nose were destroyed. The blades had unearthed her cartilage, muscle, and bone. The damage was of such a magnitude that Sadie’s head now looked like a bunch of fresh slaughterhouse scraps that were randomly glued together.

Below the space where her face had once rested, Sadie’s right arm had been viciously gashed. Her tiny bicep was so mutilated that it had detached from her splintered skeleton.

The interior thigh on the same side got slit to the bone, offering a veiny exposure that shouldn’t have arrived until the varicose days of the future. Another Fourth of July-worthy explosion of blood splatter painted the already crimson metal.

By the time Sadie’s body reached the final set of saws, the meat serving as Bobby’s protection was scarcer. He could clearly see the hole that had developed right under her shoulder. Bobby used his left hand and secured his fingers around the handle of the blade wedged in Sadie’s back. Then, cautiously, he repositioned his footing away from the cavernous wound.

His actions wouldn’t even matter.

The gory heap that was Sadie Grimley breezed through the final set of saw blades. The combination of the prior two slashings and the lubricated track altered the timing. The change was enough that, by the time they arrived at the last trio, the saws had already retracted under the slide.

As Bobby rode the bolting, bloody cadaver to the end of the slide, he and Sadie both became airborne. A sudden halt struck as the messy corpse connected with the stone floor. When Bobby somersaulted forward, his grip on the knife never wavered.

Being familiar with failure, he handled the wipeout with grace. As he rolled his way back to his feet, the first thing he saw was the wrath in Isaac’s eyes. But just as quickly as the boy charged him, Bobby raised the blade. When Bobby pointed the steel, slathered in Sadie’s final drippings, at Isaac, he knew his aggressor’s fury would soon fizzle out.

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