Author: Rhonnie Fordham
Amanda now stood naked and alone in the garden shed. Her muscles were even more noticeable, her body stronger than ever. All of the supposed scars from John were missing. She resembled a suburban mom on steroids.
Amanda stared down at the garden shears she held in her hands. Her reflection in the blades stared right back at her. She may have been quiet, but she wasn’t bored or in some kind of trance. Her excited eyes and subtle smirk didn’t hint at that at all. Her night looked to be just getting started. This was just the warm-up before the real show.
“They don’t believe you, Amanda,” said the familiar and frightening voice of Dr. Carpenter. “And they never will.”
Focused, Amanda stared down at the shears. She gripped the handle tightly. Dr. Carpenter’s voice didn’t scare her, it soothed her, goading on her psychopathic plans.
“They didn’t believe me either,” Artis said. His voice was louder and colder now, unable to hide the decades of resentment. “They can’t understand! They won’t ever understand! They can’t see the evil like you and me!”
Throughout his sermon, Amanda’s green eyes blazed with ire. And they were getting filled up on wrath and hate. A harsh glower overtook the Southern Belle’s natural beauty.
Dr. Carpenter refused to let up. “They don’t see it like us because they’re evil, Amanda! They’re the demons and the Devil who walk the Earth! And you can’t let them go on! You must destroy the evil!”
Like an emphatic Amen, Amanda snapped the shears one forceful time. They clasped together with the sheathing sound of a knife being retrieved off the kitchen counter. The shears were sharp, strong, and ready to kill. Just like Amanda.
“You know what you have to do,” Artis went on. “You can’t let the evil escape, Amanda!” His words and rants rose to an Apocalyptic crescendo. “You have to destroy the demons!”
Wielding the shears, Amanda locked her hungry vision onto the shed door.
“Kill ’em all!” Artis finished in a rallying cry.
Like promiscuous teenagers, Kevin and Linda continued their intimate rendezvous. They were literally at one with nature. Pinning Kevin against the tree, Linda moaned with pleasure as she practically made Kevin thrust against her. Harder and harder. He was stripped naked like a sex slave, Linda still half-dressed for the most part. She liked the control.
Sweating, Kevin looked like he couldn’t handle much more. Linda’s red handprints ran up and down his ass cheeks, her own personal form of cattle branding.
“Keep going!” Linda yelled aloud. Her eyes were shut, her body in too much ecstasy to realize she was draining Kevin of both his soul and livelihood. Not an easy task when it came to realtors.
Kevin breathed heavy. He was wore out.
“Harder!” Linda screamed even louder. Her domineering voice could rival that of Dr. Carpenter’s.
“I’m trying,” Kevin mumbled weakly. He leaned back against the tree while Linda clung to his back. It was hard to tell who was doing the thrusting at this point.
“Come on, baby,” Linda begged. She flashed a smile across that promiscuous face. “Don’t tell me you can’t keep up,” she teased.
“I thought I could.”
Finally, Linda opened her eyes and gave Kevin a nice smack on the ass, making him yelp. “You’re my little bitch, hun,” Linda said.
“For tonight at least,” Kevin replied dryly.
Leaning in closer, Linda caressed his face, teasing him like a teacher. “Ooh, you’re so cute.”
Neither of them noticed Amanda lurking behind them, hiding in the darkness like a primitive savage. She was maybe less than ten feet away. The long branches of a nearby tree shielded her naked body and wild eyes. The branches also hid the intimidating blades of the garden shears.
Breathing heavy, the exhausted Kevin looked right at Linda. “Say,” he began. He rubbed a sweaty hand against her smooth face. “Maybe we can take a break for a minute.”
“What?” Linda asked in disbelief.
Leaning down, Kevin reached for his shirt lying on the ground. “I’m tired, baby.” He grabbed a hold of the khakis wrapped around his ankles from being thrown down in a haste. “You wear me the fuck out-”
Linda pushed him back against the tree, keeping him from getting dressed. “No,” she said adamantly.
Like a scolded child, Kevin looked on behind her, avoiding eye contact. He didn’t see anyone else in the yard. Not Amanda.
Linda felt on Kevin’s chest. “We’ve got so much more to do, hun.” She noticed Kevin looking off behind her. She smiled and turned. “What? Do you see something?”
Linda didn’t see anyone either. Just the garden. And the Christy home.
“Naw,” Kevin said. Relaxing, or at least acting more relaxed and suave, he made Linda face him. “I just had to get my second wind.”
Excited, Linda flashed a grin. “You’re already that tired?” She caressed his cheek, his facial cheek that is. “I thought you were more experienced,” she said in a seductive tone.
Kevin chuckled. “Oh yeah. For sure.” His confidence sounded about as fake as everything else about him. But Linda didn’t care.
She leaned in toward his face. Kevin seemed scared of what more this woman was capable of.
Linda stopped right in front of his lips. “You ready to close the deal?” she asked.
In a quick and not-so-gentle touch, Linda fondled Kevin’s dick. He lost his voice quickly. The immense mix of pleasure and pain was too much.
“Come to mama,” Linda whispered. She gave him a passionate kiss more appropriate for a soap opera than a business transaction. While she savored every minute and taste, Kevin’s eyes went wide with fear.
A pair of open garden shears careened straight from the darkness, gunning for the back of Linda’s head.
“Kill ’em all!” Amanda hollered, her voice the female equivalent of Dr. Carpenter’s. All raspy rage.
The blade protruded through Linda’s skull before popping out her forehead and pinning Kevin’s head right into the tree. The shears stuck in deep. Blood ran all down the tree, dousing the bark with blood.
Linda’s corpse slumped forward onto Kevin, her dead lips forever stuck to Kevin’s. An eternal kiss. Her arms were even still eloped over his shoulders. Linda’s eyes were closed, she never knew what hit her. Death during pleasure.
On the other hand, Kevin’s eyes were wide open in fear. Like they were taking a permanent snapshot of his own impending death.
Together, the two of them looked like a gruesome student art project. Love in nature, murder by gardening tool. Blood trickled in small streams down their heads, interloping over their shared kiss. Slowly but surely, the crimson would adorn their nude bodies.
The intense Amanda glared at her victims. Like she was making sure the “demons” wouldn’t come back. The satisfaction was too short-lived.
“Finish them, Amanda,” Dr. Carpenter’s voice said in a rare hushed tone. His words resonated with Amanda far more than any sermon ever had. This wasn’t a command but the gospel. “Kill ’em all!” his voice then exploded.
Inside the house, Tony hid at his living room station. Earbuds, couch, and bad sitcom. His eyes began to drift on him. Not even the bombastic pop music could keep him awake at this point. The sitcoms seemed to be getting blander as the night went on.
Bored, Tony shut his eyes. This final night at the Christy home could’ve ended in a peaceful slumber.
“Tony!” Bridget yelled.
A familiar yet insistent grip snagged Tony’s shoulder and shook him awake.
Tony bolted upright, startled. “Shit!”
“It’s just me.”
Tony gave Bridget a confused look. “What the Hell are you doing!” He yanked out his earbuds.
“Something weird’s going on,” Bridget said, unable to hide the fear in her voice. “It’s Amanda!”
Concerned, Tony stood and grabbed her shoulder. “Yo, what are you talking about?”
“It wasn’t John who killed them, Tony, it was Amanda!” Bridget yelled.
Panicking, Bridget stepped away from Tony. “Look, she’s fucking crazy!” Bridget pointed toward the hallway. “I found all her pills in the closet under all the pictures!”
The scared Tony looks toward the hallway. “Fuck, man…”
Bridget snatched Tony’s arm, demanding his eyes. “It wasn’t John, but her! She was the one with Schizophrenia! She lied to us! She killed her own family!”
Tony could see the sincerity in her eyes. Her desperate panic. “You saw it, didn’t you?” he asked in a tone that was too scared to get much higher than a glorified whisper.
Uneasy, Bridget didn’t respond. She felt she didn’t have to anyway. Tony could tell, she figured.
“You saw it in your head,” Tony said to himself, as if speaking it out could make it any less disturbing. “You saw her kill them…”
“I did, but she’s on tape. She went to my room and carved all that shit on the wall, Tony. She did it!”
“Hey, I believe you.” Tony caressed her shoulder, trying to soothe her. “I ain’t ever doubting you, Bridget.”
Bridget looked into his soulful eyes.
“You know more than anybody when it comes to this shit,” Tony reiterated. “I know that.”
“We have to get out of here,” Bridget stated. She walked over toward the stairs. “Where’s Ms. Kane?”
“She’s-” Tony began.
In a quick and sudden fall, a wooden shelf in the corner collapsed to the floor. The loud thud echoed through the house, even overshadowing the canned laughter.
“Shit!” Tony yelled as he and Bridget looked toward the shelf. It was laying on the floor like a coffin. Bridget wasn’t sure why, but the sight and seemingly-simple occurrence felt like more than just a bad omen.
Nervous, she looked over at Tony. “Where’s Ms. Kane!”
“I don’t know, she went outside with Kevin!”
Like it was crying for attention, the shelf slid all over the floor, moving straight toward Bridget and Tony.
Tony jumped back in horror. “Fuck!”
But Bridget wasn’t as scared. Because she could tell who was moving the shelf. It was just like earlier in the closet. The shelf, much like the boxes, looked like like it was being moved by several pairs of small hands.
The shelf came to an abrupt stop right in front of Bridget and Tony.
“What the Hell’s going on!” Tony yelled.
Busted holes appeared all throughout the shelf. Loud and quick hits. Those youthful forces were bashing the shelf in. They ran down the shelf like mysterious bullet holes, causing it to skid along the floor with each powerful smash.
Throughout the beating, Bridget heard voices. The Baker family’s pleas. She stared at the shelf as their voices played through her entranced mind.
“Help us,” Michael said.
“Please, Bridget,” said Amy.
“Stop her before it’s too late!” John begged.
The triumvirate haunted Bridget. A Greek chorus suited for the tragedy that was the Christy home. The family’s voices played on a loop for Bridget. It would’ve driven her mad if not for her sympathy and “gift.” Her fascinated eyes watched the shelf move closer and closer to her. She realized it was nothing more than a vessel for the Baker family victims. A way for them to push Bridget to achieve the retribution they sought from beyond the grave.
One more bash against the shelf sent it colliding against Bridget’s feet.
Freaked out, Tony rushed up to Bridget. “Bridget, what’s happening!”
Bridget turned and faced him. “They’re warning us.”
Before Tony could react further, the flatscreen toppled over and smashed on the floor. Sparks and smoke shot out everywhere. An explosion of electricity.
Tony jumped back. “What the fuck!” he yelled.
The voices all stopped harassing Bridget’s mind. That was the family’s final warning.
Bridget snatched Tony’s arm and pulled him toward the front door. “Come on!”
“Where we going?” Tony asked, worried.
“I don’t know, but we’re getting the Hell outta here!” Bridget replied. She pointed at the flatscreen debris. “That’s our fucking cue.”
Stepping in front of Bridget, Tony snagged the door handle. “I hear ya,” he responded.
“Don’t open that door,” John’s voice commanded Bridget.
Tony gripped the handle, ready to pull the whole thing open.
Nervous, Bridget reached toward Tony. “Tony!” she yelled.
In a tight grip, Bridget grabbed Tony’s arm. He faced her right before he could open the door.
“Don’t let him,” John’s voice warned Bridget.
Tony looked at Bridget, confused. “What?”
“John said not to open it,” Bridget said. Her conviction sold such a ridiculous line.
Frightened, Tony stepped toward her. “Fuck, really-”
The front door burst open. Crying out, the naked Amanda came charging in from outside.
Terrified, Tony and Bridget turned to see Amanda raise the long-handled spade toward Amanda.
“Die!” Amanda yelled. Everything about her, her muscles, her expression, even Amanda’s gritted teeth were full of overflowing rage.
“Oh God!” Bridget screamed. She held her hands out, ready to stave off the impending hack.
“Look out!” Tony shouted to Bridget.
Right before Amanda could wildly stick the spade into Bridget, Tony leaped in front of the intended target. The blade sunk deep into his upper chest, Amanda shoving it in as far as it could go. Blood spurted over Bridget.
“Oh God!” Bridget yelled. “Tony!”
Turning, Tony faced Bridget with blank eyes. Blood flowed through his shirt like a virus. The gaping hole of the wound resembled a shotgun blast. Amanda had stuck the spade in real good.
“No!” Bridget yelled. She looked on in horror, unable to help him. “No, Tony!”
Groaning, Tony grasped at the bleeding wound.
With wicked coldness, Amanda snatched the weapon out of his chest, sending more blood flying out.
Tony staggered to the floor.
“Kill ’em all!” Amanda screamed as she raised the spade.
Tony fell straight down with a loud thud. A red pool built up beneath him. He wasn’t saying anything and hardly reacting. Not a good sign for a personality like Tony’s.
“Tony!” Bridget yelled, hoping to resurrect him by calling his name. “No! Come on, Tony, please!”
Bleeding out, Tony couldn’t say a word. He shut his eyes slowly. The blood kept building up beneath him.
“Oh God…” Bridget said.
Amanda glared right at Bridget. “You’re all evil!” she hollered, spit flying out of her manic lips.
Frightened, Bridget stumbled back. “Amanda,” she said in a calm tone. Or at least, Bridget’s best attempt at a calm tone considering the moment. “You can’t do this, look at me! You know me!”
“You’re a demon!” Amanda yelled. She wielded the spade like a sword, ready to strike at any moment. “You can’t fool me, swine!”
“Goddammit, Amanda!” Bridget pleaded. She backed up against a wall. Nowhere to run. Nowhere to hide. “We’re not demons! You know us!”
“Run!” John’s desperate voice blared into her ears.
Holding up the spade, Amanda advanced toward her sole remaining target. Amanda’s smirk was simultaneously sadistic and playful. Like a bully that couldn’t be stopped and knew they couldn’t be. The sharp spade glistened in the light. Amanda moved with the swiftness of a killer on the prowl. A shark detecting blood in the water.
“She’s crazy, get out!” John yelled to Bridget once more.
Uneasy, Bridget leaned against the wall, watching Amanda pick up speed as she got closer and closer.
“Run!” Amy whispered to Bridget.
Amanda yelled as she charged forward.
Bridget just avoided the thrust of the spade. The sharp blade implanted straight through the wall. The same spot where Bridget’s head was pressed against just seconds earlier.
Shell-shocked momentarily, Bridget looked over at the spade. The whole wall cracked upon impact of the potent blade.
“You demon!” Amanda yelled in anger. She reached toward Bridget’s throat.
Bridget thought Amanda’s hands moved quicker and with more power than before. They were like weapons on their own.
“Get out, get away from her!” John pleaded.
Heeding his warning, Bridget ducked, just dodging Amanda’s forceful grip.
“She’s crazy!” John’s voice yelled.
Amanda’s hand hit the wall with startling power. The hit didn’t faze her even as it left a huge imprint in the wall. Almost as much impact as the sharp spade had had. “Die, Goddammit!” the frustrated Amanda screamed.
Bridget staggered away to the front doorway, her quick footsteps splashing over Tony’s overflowing red river of blood.
“Go!” John pleaded.
“Outside,” Amy’s soft voice said to Bridget. A gentle command. “Go outside…”
“Get her outside!” John chimed in.
Bridget disappeared out into the front yard. She never looked back. She didn’t want to. She just wanted out.
Groaning, Amanda snatched the spade from the wall. This hole was much more ferocious than any of the ones in the shelf. It’d have been much messier if Bridget hadn’t have moved. Amanda’s harsh eyes looked straight toward the door. “Kill ’em all,” she muttered.
Through the wide yard, Bridget ran. She was’t sure where she was going and she wasn’t sure where to hide. But she felt drawn to a certain location: Amanda’s famous garden.
Tired, Bridget breathed heavy as she kept going. But she wasn’t going to stop. Not until she reached her final destination.
“Bring her to us,” John’s voice begged her.
“Bring mommy,” Amy said.
“Bring her home, John stated.
Their voices were low, but full of adamant emotion. Like they would haunt Bridget forever if she didn’t comply. The chorus kept motivating Bridget to get to that certain spot. Right to the garden.
“You’re not getting away!” Amanda yelled.
Staggering away, Bridget turned.
Amanda was getting closer and closer. She held up her sharp spade, itching to kill. “I got you, you demon!” Amanda screamed. “You’re all gonna die!”
Bridget looked ahead. John, Amy, and Michael all stood in the garden. None of them wounded. None of them covered in blood. They were like Angels ready to greet Bridget and anyone else stuck in this damn house.
“You’re not escaping me!” Amanda yelled.
“Bring her here,” John’s voice whispered to Bridget. “Bring her to us.”
Bridget ran toward John and the rest of Amanda’s family. An escape into the garden.
“Bring her to the garden,” John stated. “Bring her home.”
Fueled by instinct and John’s soothing voice, Bridget headed straight toward the garden. His voice a calming antithesis to Artis and Amanda’s manic rants.
All the while, Amanda ran after her, running Bridget down like a starved animal. Her body and swift movements were so graceful as if she were a dancer of death. “You’re not getting out alive!”
“Bring her to us,” John’s low voice ran through Bridget’s mind.
Bridget looked on at the Baker family as she staggered into the garden, exhausted. All three of them flashed her confident smiles. Bridget didn’t know what to make of it. The family wasn’t the same scared, bloodied wrecks she’d seen throughout her stay at the Christy house.
“I’m killing all y’all demons!” Amanda screamed at the top of her lungs. Her vocal cords seemed to tear on this one, like she’d reached levels that Dr. Carpenter couldn’t even handle. But it wasn’t shrill, it was loud and even boisterous.
Bridget turned back real quick. She could tell Amanda couldn’t see the family just like she could never hear them. She didn’t have Bridget’s gift. No one did.
Wielding the blood-stained spade, Amanda stopped in the garden, just a few feet away from Bridget. The two women stared right at each other, recovering with deep breaths as they engaged in this intense showdown. “You’re not getting away,” Amanda stated coldly. “None of you will. It’s why I’m here! It’s why God put me here!”
Amanda’s voice dominated the scene. Bridget no longer heard John or the children.
“I’m here to exterminate evil!” Amanda boasted.
Not sure what to do, Bridget looked behind her. The family was gone. No, she thought. Was this all some sort of sick trap, she wondered.
“I never have mercy,” Amanda said.
The nervous Bridget saw Amanda take a menacing step toward her.
“Not on the evil,” Amanda continued. She raised the spade up toward Bridget’s face. Bridget could see all the thick blood splattered upon it. Like it was a gravedigger’s shovel rather than a suburban wife’s garden tool.
“Shit…” Bridget said as she backed away.
Enjoying herself, Amanda matched every one of Bridget’s steps. “Not on you,” Amanda went on.
Bridget’s ankle bumped into a stiff object. Startled, she toppled backward and landed on the soft dirt. “Oh God!”
Using the spade, Amanda pointed at the ground. Right at the stiff objects lying by Bridget. “And not on your friends either,” Amanda finished. Her tone was off like she was deadpanning or at least trying to. Hell, she was too deranged at this point to even pull off subtle sarcasm.
Bridget’s uneasy eyes looked right toward the objects. She let out a horrified screamed.
Like human plants, Kevin and Linda’s bloodied corpses lied sprawled out in the garden, each of them halfway-covered in dirt. Either Amanda attempted a halfass burial or she really was attempting to fertilize them just like her expensive seeds.
“I had to destroy the evil!” Amanda proclaimed. “I have to!”
“Oh God… no, fuck no…” Bridget said.
“This is what I was chosen for!” Amanda yelled.
Fighting back tears, Bridget leaned over and grabbed Linda’s dead hand. “No, Ms. Kane…” she said in sadness. She caressed the hand, never once caring about the moist blood and grimy dirt sticking to her skin.
Wielding the spade as if she were delivering a soliloquy, Amanda went on. “I have to stop the evil! The demons! This is what I must do!” With the melodramatic flourish of a madcap preacher, she leaned in toward Bridget’s face. “You’re not fooling me! None of you ever were!”
The disturbed Bridget watched Amanda point the spade right at her.
“You’re all demons just waiting to kill!” Amanda said. “And I ain’t getting fooled by you. Oh no!”
“She’s here,” John’s voice cried out to Bridget.
“Yes,” Michael said.
Confused, Bridget looked around the garden, but didn’t see anyone. Only one Baker family member was here, and it was the fucking crazy one.
“None of you were fooling me!” Amanda continued. “You’re not taking me!”
“Bring her to us, Bridget,” John asked.
Bridget looked right at Amanda. Amanda’s “sermon” was only getting crazier, her rant accompanied by wild eyes and a performance that could be called hammy if it weren’t so terrifying. Amanda waved her hands and that spade all around, looking to be at war with the entire world. A world full of demons in her mind.
“I lost my family to you sick fucks!” Amanda shouted in disdain. “You took my baby boy and girl! You made them evil!”
“Please, Bridget,” Amy pleaded. The innocent voice elicited teardrops to slide down Bridget’s face.
Amanda laid the spade against Bridget’s face. “You can cry those tears, but you ain’t fooling me, bitch.”
“Just think,” John begged. His voice was now louder. Not with fear or concern. But excitement. “Think about us!”
“I’m burying the evil now!” Amanda yelled.
Balancing the barrage of Baker banter, Bridget stared at Amanda, doing her best to keep calm. In the back of her mind, she could picture John and the children begging her. Their fatal wounds. The blood. Michael and Amy’s brutal anguish.
Amanda drew the spade back. “I’m burying the evil forever!”
Flashes of Michael and Amy staring on with wounded eyes and fearful faces played like a projector through Bridget’s mind. The sensations hit Bridget hard, a burst of torment and adrenaline. And she didn’t try to suppress them either.
“Think about her,” John’s voice said.
As Bridget’s tears faded away, more Baker family memories hit her. John and the kids playing in the yard. All those photos from the closet. An All-American family eating dinner together. The family’s joy of celebrating Christmas in the Christy home.
“You’re not stopping me, you evil bitch!” Amanda yelled. Too busy spilling her feelings, she didn’t care that Bridget let go of Linda to grab her own head. The killer migraines were all coming back for Bridget.
“None of you can stop the retribution!” Amanda went on. “The Lord’s work!”
Overwhelmed by the visions, Bridget shut her eyes and kept clutching her head.
“Keep thinking,” John commanded her.
“You can’t stop me from ending your evil!” Amanda continued. “I see through your Goddamn disguise!”
“Keep thinking, Bridget,” John said.
More of the memories flooded through Bridget’s mind. The bad ones. Amanda’s descent into madness. She hid the pills. She spent more time in the garden and inside the shed. More time talking to herself in a different voice… in Artis’s voice. Only the kids noticed it at first. But then so did John. But none of them wanted to acknowledge that maybe mommy was going crazy.
Like she was rallying up an audience that consisted of only the Christy house, Amanda waved the spade toward the house. “I’m taking you all out tonight!” Amanda screamed.
The latest flashes Bridget endured were from that fateful night. The Baker family massacre. Amanda nude and in stalker mode. She strangled John in grotesque fashion.
“No more evil!” Amanda yelled with fire-eyed passion.
Woozy, Bridget looked on at Amanda. “Amanda, please,” she said weakly. “You can’t do this.”
“This ain’t Amanda Baker,” Amanda Baker proclaimed. She threw her hands up as if serenading herself. “This is the Doctor Of Death!”
“Go on, Bridget,” John begged. “Keep going!”
Feeling heavier sensations than ever before, Bridget’s head leaned against her hand as she looked straight down at the ground.
“Tonight, I’m punishing the wicked!” Amanda yelled.
Bridget cried out, the visions practically pulsating through her skull. In the flashbacks, Amanda stripped down to her skin. Covered in blood, she stuck the garden staples in John’s eyes, each one being stuck in with a long and tedious shove.
Bridget yelled once more, feeling the immense pain in her own eyes. Like she could feel John’s pain… he was showing her the true horror of the Christy house. Amanda’s vile actions.
“You demons won’t stop me!” Amanda screamed.
Tears and snot overflowed on Bridget’s face. It all mixed with the dirt stains.
“Think deep,” John’s voice said. He was calmer and more collected now. Like he knew Bridget was right on the cusp of greatness.
Staggering up to Bridget, Amanda spun the spade in her hand like a sharp baton. “I’m doing God’s deeds!” Amanda said.
Bridget could hear Amanda’s harsh footsteps crush the soil as they got closer and closer.
“I’m taking out the evil!” Amanda proclaimed.
Terrified, Bridget looked right on at her. The twirling baton had the blur of an otherworldly crystal ball, one in which Bridget could get an excellent glimpse of her possible and most brutal death.
“Think harder, Bridget,” John told her. He had the soothing tone of a comforting guide. Of a supportive father. “You’re almost there.”
Dreading what was to be a final part of this intense process, Bridget looked down and closed her eyes. The final visions reverberated through her conscience like the worst acid trip imaginable.
In vivid technicolor and fairy-tale-like production design, Bridget witnessed Amanda chasing the children into this very garden. They were helpless and trapped. And forced to watch their own mother take them out with a monstrous rake. The slicing was continuous. She’d turned her own children into pulverized flesh.
“I’m cleaning you out of my house!” Amanda said to Bridget. Cackling with unsettling glee, she swung the spade right toward Bridget’s exposed neck.
A pair of rotten hands emerged straight out of the soil and latched onto Amanda’s ankles in a tight grip.
Lowering the spade, Amanda stopped and looked down in horror. She recognized those hands. The long, skinny fingers. Even through the deteriorating flesh, she could make out a small glimmer amidst the decrepit mangled skin. A wedding ring. “No!” she screamed.
Bridget looked up in petrified fear. She wasn’t positive, but she had a good hunch who had crashed the scene.
Through the ground, John pulled himself up out of the soft soil. Out of this garden cemetery. The rest of his body wasn’t in any better shape. His flesh was moldy and rotten, somewhere between deceased and wormfood. Glimpses of bones could be seen amongst the tattered clothing and desecrated skin. Hell, he couldn’t even stand. His splintered legs wouldn’t allow it. Bugs and dirt slid off his flesh. The earth staples still hung loosely from those caved-in eye sockets. But he didn’t have to have perfect vision to see his true target.
“You bastard!” Amanda yelled.
She swung the spade straight into his face, forcing it into an eye. The spade crashed through the earth spade, sending both weapons protruding out the back of John’s head. Black blood oozed out the “wound” in a steady stream.
But John didn’t let go. Somehow, through the grisly canvas that was his face he seemed even angrier.
“Die, you evil bastard!” Amanda screamed, unable to hide the desperation in her voice.
John groaned as he pulled Amanda to the ground. Right down to his level.
“No!” Amanda yelled.
John dragged her closer toward the mass of pulpy flesh and moist blood that was his face.
“Let go of me, you bastard! You filth!” Amanda continued.
Scared, she tried to pull his hands away from her. One of the fingers snapped off in an explosion of red dust, sending more of the ooze flying across Amanda’s face and chest. She cried out in disgust.
John leaned in closer. Ooze spilled from his disjointed mouth as he attempted to speak. What came out wasn’t the soothing voice Bridget had heard or the soothing tone of a warm father. Instead, it was slow and torturous. Like a robot on life support.
“Amanda…” John sputtered out. All that dirt and blood had apparently strained John’s vocal cords pretty badly.
“No!” Amanda screamed. She squirmed and fought all she could, using all her might. But her nimble, nude body wasn’t getting out. John’s hands held on tight.
“Let go of me, you evil son-of-a-bitch!” Amanda yelled.
“It’s just me, Amanda,” John stated. The bottom half of his mouth dropped a little lower. It hung on by mere threads of flesh.
Amanda shrieked. She was helpless like John. Like her children.
“Come home, baby…” John said. He would’ve formed a wide grin if his mouth would allow it. John pulled Amanda by her ankles with slow and long drags. Amanda’s body slid along the slick dirt. She wasn’t getting away.
Closer and closer she got to John. Like she was on an assembly line to Hell. She stretched out and tried to crawl away, pulling up all her dirt and flowers, leaving the garden in total disarray. “Aw, God!” she screamed.
Determined, she glared at John. “Go to Hell, you evil bastard!” she yelled. She reared her leg back, yanking it out of his grasp.
“No!” John yelled, the ooze drowning out his cries.
With a wicked smile, Amanda got ready to kick him right between the earth spades. “Burn in Hell, John,” she said coldly.
Before she could finish the job, two pairs of small hands lurched out of the ground and yanked Amanda’s leg straight into the dirt. Their hands were small, but the fingernails were long and jagged. Immediately, they tore into Amanda’s leg, causing long red lines to appear.
Amanda screamed in pain.
Amy and Michael joined John on the attack. Deep slices and gashes were all over the children’s young skin. Like John, they were decomposing, their flesh hanging off in strands. But they had been waiting. And they were strong.
Ooze flowed simultaneously down each child’s chin, giving them competing rivers of black blood. “Mommy,” both Michael and Amy said in eerie unison.
“No! Leave me alone!” Amanda yelled.
John dragged her further toward the family’s gaping grave. Michael and Amy’s hands dug even deeper into Amanda. They weren’t wanting to let go of mommy every again. Amanda tried pulling away from them, only to see her filleted flesh curl up along her leg. She hollered out in intense agony.
“You’re not my children, you’re evil!” Amanda screamed. “You devils, you’re demons! Y’all are all evil!”
Pulled away by her family, Amanda looked on Michael and Amy. They grinned at her like mischievous schoolchildren. Unlike John, their teeth were still there. Their young pearly whites. The one spotless aspect on otherwise ghastly bodies.
“No!” Amanda cried out.
John pulled her toward him in one final rough tug. They were nose-to-nose like a bride and groom on wedding night. Till death they won’t part. Michael and Amy leaned in right next to them.
Trembling, Amanda looked on at them all with horrified eyes. “No, let go of me!” she screamed.
“You’re with us, Amanda,” John proclaimed. His grotesque hands grabbed her by the shoulders. “Forever…” he managed to say before his jaw dislocated and dangled to the side.
The sudden fall spurted more of the slimy blood over Amanda’s face, quieting her before she could even manage another scream.
The children lunged in toward Amanda’s stomach and put their pearly whites to good use.
Grimacing, Amanda looked up, the pain unbearable. “No…” she groaned. “You’re evil,” she said in between spitting out the nasty ooze.
Her blood and intestines dangled out of her chest and fell to the soil. Michael and Amy’s teeth became coated in crimson and with juicy chunks of Amanda’s feast of flesh.
“You’re not my family!” Amanda said in a weak yell. She turned and saw Bridget looking on in silence.
“Bridget…” Amanda said.
Still lying on the ground, Bridget just stared on at the pitiful sight.
John’s dead hands were holding on to his one true love while the two zombified children ate their naked mother alive. Amanda didn’t look like the imposing predator anymore. She was overwhelmed prey.
Unlike in her visions, no sensations shot through Bridget right now. No sensational sympathy, not even disgust. Bridget didn’t just feel like she shouldn’t intervene. She didn’t want to.
Amanda reached a weak and wobbly hand out toward Bridget. “Bridget, please,” Amanda cried.
The voice sounded different to Bridget. She hadn’t heard Amanda speak in her normal tone the entire night. Amanda now didn’t have the eerie bravura and confidence of Artis. Here was Amanda Baker. The tormented wife and mother of two.
Amanda’s grue flowed through the garden, watering the plants with blood. Her eviscerated organs and intestines only began to pile up higher. The ones that weren’t being consumed by Amanda’s own children that is.
“Bridget, help me,” Amanda stated weakly. She held her hand out just a little bit further. “Please…”
Hesitant, Bridget didn’t say anything. She was scared, but not sympathetic.
She could see John looking right at her. Not in an intimidating way. Just like they had a mutual agreement. Like John was satisfied Bridget kept her part of a bargain Bridget didn’t even know she was capable of. He respected her too much to pose a threat. Bridget thought he seemed grateful.
“Help me!” Amanda yelled to Bridget.
The voice felt a little different again. It was a little louder and a little more demanding, Bridget thought.
“Bridget, save me! Same me from the evil!”
Suspicious, Bridget didn’t budge. She just watched with uncertainty.
“Goddammit, Bridget!” Amanda went on. “Don’t just stand there! Help me! Save me!”
It was then that they both knew Bridget wasn’t going anywhere.
Amy pulled out a long strand of Amanda’s organs and consumed it with rapid glee. Blood and gore covered her chin like spaghetti.
Amanda screamed in pain. “You bitch!” she yelled at Bridget.
Recognizing that tone, Bridget crawled back just a little. Just to be safe.
“You’re evil like them!” Amanda continued. “You’re a fucking demon! Evil cunt!”
Artis’s voice by way of Amanda had re-emerged. And Bridget could tell instantly. Maybe that was Amanda all along or maybe she was really possessed. Bridget wasn’t sure…
“Goddamn cunt!” Amanda shrieked. “You evil bitch!”
Ignoring Amanda, Bridget looked right at John. Even though his corpse was nothing more than barely-conjoined fragments masquerading as limbs, Bridget could sense his feelings. He liked Bridget. He wasn’t a threat. After all, her powers had given him and his family their one shot at vengeance.
“You evil bitch!” Amanda hurled at Bridget. “You’re fucking evil, you-”
John forced Amanda to face him and gave her a rough kiss, silencing her profanities.
Amanda’s weak hands slammed against him. Aside from further knocking bits of his flesh away, it did nothing.
Even with only John’s upper mouth being functional for a kiss, it was a tight embrace, one made even more uncomfortable by the children constantly eating Amanda’s insides.
With a dramatic flourish, John pulled back, biting off a chunk of Amanda’s lips through his grimy teeth.
Crying out, Amanda grabbed her blood-spurting lips. The tattered remnants dropped down her chin, leaving her teeth permanently exposed. A literal kiss of death. “No! Aw, God!” Amanda struggled to say through the pain.
John and the children grasped onto her body and made their way back to the deep hole John emerged from. Their garden grave where Amanda had buried them all along.
Helpless, Amanda looked on at the spot as her family pulled her in closer under the suffocating earth.
“No, let me go!” she pleaded through the blood and mangled lips, her voice barely above a pathetic whimper. All her ferocity had been stripped away by her own family. “Y’all evil bastards! Let me out! Let me go, Goddammit!”
The kids entered into the grave first. John held Amanda close to him, restraining her weak attempts at escape.
“You demons!” Amanda screamed out.
Pulling her in closer, John dragged Amanda underground. The dirt muffled Amanda’s final cries forever.
The soil smoothed out on its own, covering up the hole. The Baker family unit was all together again. Reunited in the grave.
And then it was quiet. Bridget didn’t say a word. She was simultaneously stunned and scared. However, she had prevailed. Her gifts finally hadn’t been exploited for profit or evil. They had been used by kinder spirits. The spirits of a family desperate for closure. At the very least, the voices and visions were gone from Bridget’s head at this very moment. There was peace.
All the blood and Amanda’s stray guts littered the garden. As did Linda and Kevin’s corpses. Sure it was a mess, but somehow the colorful grue worked in perfect correlation with the remaining flowers. Call it a gory Gothic garden.
A long crimson trail strewn with bits of Amanda’s flesh and intestines stopped right at one particular spot. One of the few areas of the garden where no plants grew. The grave.
Nearby, Amanda’s long-handled spade stuck straight out of the soil. Just like she probably would’ve liked it.
Alone in this gruesome environment, Bridget stood up. Sweat, blood, and dirt covered her skin and clothes. The surrounding landscape didn’t faze her none. Not the vivid blood or splattered organs. Instead, Bridget felt relieved.
A beaming voice broke through the staunch silence. “It’s in the shed,” Amy’s voice said. No longer a whisper, her voice radiated like a beam of sunlight.
Bridget looked right toward the garden shed. She listened for anything else, but the voice was gone. That’s how all children should talk, Bridget thought. They should all sound this happy.
Bridget couldn’t help but crack a weak smile.
A strong hand snatched Bridget’s shoulder, startling her away from the good vibes as fast as they had hit her. Ready to swing a punch, she turned and looked on at Tony.
Tony held his hands up and took a step back. “Whoa, whoa, it’s just me!” Large blood stains still dominated his shirt.
Bridget groaned. But she was glad it wasn’t anyone else. “Jesus, Tony…”
Reassuring Bridget, Tony grabbed her shoulder. “Hey, I’m sorry, alright. Are you okay?”
Bridget gazed at his wound. At least the bleeding had stopped. “I was gonna ask you the same thing.”
Tony smirked. “Naw, I don’t think she got me too good.”
“Yeah, if you say so” Bridget replied. She flashed him a smile until she turned and saw Linda lying on the ground. Surrounded by flowers, the arrangement of the corpses had a poetic eloquence to them.
Noticing Bridget’s morose mood, Tony followed her gaze to the sight. “Aw, shit,” he said in dismay. For once, he wasn’t exaggerating from fear or for melodrama. He was speechless. His hurt was real.
Bridget looked over at him. His wounded eyes said it all. Bridget pulled him away toward the shed, wanting both of them to get outta there together.
“Come on,” Bridget said to Tony in a supportive tone. They were only about ten feet away, but it was the longest walk either one of them had ever made.