The Chainsaw Masquerade, short story by Allie Guilderson at

The Chainsaw Masquerade

The Chainsaw Masquerade

written by: Allie Guilderson



Travis stomps up the steps, the wood spongy under his steel toed boots. Once inside he falls into the tattered recliner, throwing up the footstool with a whoosh. He kicks his feet up, his boots smearing the threadbare fabric. He doesn’t have the energy to remove them. Besides, the faded red and yellow checkers are already caked with mud from this exact habit.
There’s a knock at the door, but he ignores it. They’re just trick-or-treaters, he saw them on his way home—a spiderman and a unicorn. If he waits long enough, they’ll get the hint.
The chair groans as he tries to find a comfortable position in its collapsed upholstery. His eyes are drawn to the sofa opposite the coffee table, the turquoise fabric is slightly faded by an even layer of dust. He sighs longingly. The cushions are plump and luscious, the perfect place for a weary man to lay his aching body. The yellow shams, the ones his wife had bought to contrast the turquoise, are begging him to come rest his head against the unused surface, but he rejects them. Whenever he tries to use the couch, visions of Andie, his vacant wife, consume him.
She’d chosen it while on a shopping trip with her sister. He could hear the apprehension in her voice when she’d called—he rarely said yes to anything, so she’d been thrilled when he’d conceded. Of course, his decision had been swayed because he was in the emergency room at the time and wanted to soften her reaction. The tip of his finger had been sliced off with the saw, because he’d neglected to wear the gloves she’d bought after the last time it had happened. He’d opened the gift and rolled his eyes at her. What did she know about chainsaws? Nothing. A frivolous purchase done by his frivolous wife. But now he’s missing the tips of two fingers. Perhaps he should have listened to her.
The doorbell rings. “Fucking tricker treaters,” Travis grumbles.
He glances back at the couch, the day it was delivered coming to mind. She’d been so excited.
“It looks so good,” she’d said, tried to kiss him, but he’d pushed her away. He hadn’t realized the fabric was so, so, so femmy! Imagine him, a man, sitting on a turquoise couch?
“It’s a yuppy couch,” he’d spat. “What a waste of money. You never should have bought it.”
“Oh, Travis,” she’d giggled, eyes rolling, “It’s a beautiful couch. Just sit on it. It’s so comfortable, you’ll love it!”
He’d hated the way she’d disregarded his words—as if she thought he was joking. “I said we’re returning it. End of discussion. Call the company and make them take it back.”
Her grin had slid off her face like an egg down a windowpane. “No. We’re not returning it,” she’d said, stomping her foot. “I love it. We needed a couch and I bought one.”
He’d sprung at her, shoved her down onto her precious couch, and wrapped his hands around her slender throat. Only for a few seconds—just to teach her a lesson. As soon as her eyes bulged in fear, he’d released her, and watched her sob with mild contempt. “Keep your fucking couch,” he’d spat before stomping away. It had been an overreaction, but at least now she knew not to question his authority.
That isn’t the only memory he has of that piece of furniture. There were some good ones too. Like sitting together with a home cooked meal, watching television. Seeing her cuddled up under a blanket knitting. Or the few times they’d made love on the sofa. Those memories are the most painful because they make her absence even more noticeable.
There’s another knock at the door.
Travis sits up, swiping at the dampness on his face, and yells, “Go away!” He doesn’t know why they’re coming to his door. The lights are off. There are no decorations. In the past his wife would’ve set out carved pumpkins, strung fake cobwebs, maybe even a few plastic spiders and bats. She would have ooh-ed and aah-ed at the little superheroes and princesses, adorned in her own costume. Around nine o’clock she’d set out a bowl of candy and head to the annual Halloween party—the one held down at the community center in the middle of town. It was an adult only affair with dancing hors ‘d oeuvres and alcohol. You had to buy tickets well in advanced to have a shot at getting in. Andie had always purchased hers the year before.
When they were dating, she’d managed to convince him to go. Even though he’d refused to wear a costume, he had danced with her and played the part of a good boyfriend. He’d been keen to impress both her and her family. However, as soon as they were married things like restaurants, movie theaters and dances were removed from his repertoire. Travis hates crowds, he can barely stand going to the grocery store.
Andie was hurt at first, she’d said he’d misrepresented himself, but that’s not how he saw it. People always go the extra mile when they’re dating, why should he be any different?
For the first few years of their marriage, she’d bought him a ticket to the Halloween party. “Just in case you’re not such a debbie-downer next year,” she’d say, with a cheeky wink.
At first, he’d just told her that it wasn’t his thing, but at some point, it started to irritate him. Finally, he’d snapped and said that he “didn’t want to come to her fucking party” and that she was “making a fool of herself, dressing like a whore.”
That was the last time she’d purchased two tickets.
His stomach growls. He heaves himself up, the chair and his knees creaking with the effort, and lumbers to the fridge. There’s nothing in there but a pack of lucky. Andie had done all the shopping and cooking. Travis can’t stand the thought of walking around a grocery store—that’s a woman’s job. Cursing, he slams the door shut. How dare she abandon her commitments? Just because she’s chosen to leave him doesn’t mean she shouldn’t have to keep the house and make the meals. It’s her duty for as long as the marriage stands.
He misses the days of coming home to a hot meal. Andie would make huge casseroles and Travis would gorge himself on them. She always complained when they didn’t have any leftovers, but he never understood that. She should be glad that he enjoyed her cooking so much.
If it weren’t for her family advising her, she never would have left. They ruined his life. Travis has never understood why his wife admires her father. He’s an incompetent, meddlesome man, constantly prying his fingers into their marriage. Travis felt his first stab of hatred towards the man the day before their wedding when his future father-in-law warned him that he better take good care of his daughter. Travis said that he would, but that he expected the family to stay out of their marriage. Andie’s father said that if he felt a need, he would step in, no matter what Travis said. That small blot of hatred spread as the years went on, and now he loathes the lot of them. He’d once told Andie that her family was “a waste of oxygen” and he meant it.
Sawing her father’s skis in two was one of the most satisfying things Travis has ever done. He had imagined that he was sawing through his father-in-law’s abdomen—the blood, the crunch of his spine. He’d loved it. On days when he was forced to be around his in-laws, he’d fantasize about that moment, reliving it over and over. The thought of it made his hands twitch and his blood race.
Despite the joy he’d felt, he had to apologize for the destroyed skis. In fact, he’s sent the family many apology letters. His wife told him that if he wanted her to come back, he would need to apologize to everyone in her family. So, he wrote one—one gloriously scripted apology. A list of all the things he’d done and said and acknowledged that it was the spirit of anger in him that had made him do it. The list was copy and pasted a few times with a new name at the top and voila, everyone got an apology, but it wasn’t enough for Andie.
She’d thanked him but said she needed more time. So, he’d done it again, and again, and again. Until she’d had a No Contact order put in place. That was a week ago.
The doorbell rings. Travis grabs a beer from the fridge and throws it. Watching as it shatters against the front door. “I said, fuck off!” He hates Halloween, hates how much she loves it.
And then, it dawns on him. Travis’s face twists into a manic smile. The whole family will be at that costume party. There will be hundreds of people there. He’ll wear a mask. They’ll have no idea he is there. All he wants is to talk to her, to tell her he loves her. If he can see her face to face then maybe, just maybe, she’ll come back.


An hour later Travis is staring at his reflection through the leather mask he’d rigged up. He chuckles and revs his chainsaw. It looks pretty good. She’ll never recognize him. He could probably even win the best costume reward.
Travis leaves for the party—chainsaw in the passenger seat and Judas Priest blaring through the stereo. By the time he arrives he’s got a good idea what he wants to say. He spots her vehicle near the main entrance, her family parked right beside it. Not wanting to be too obvious, he pulls into a spot at the far end of the lot.
Striding with purpose to the front booth, he demands to buy a ticket.
“$20 please. Awesome costume by the way,” the woman says.
Travis forks over the cash and scoffs. “That’s a bit cliché, isn’t it?” He gestures to her Harley Quinn costume.
“Dick,” she mutters, but he pays her no mind. In different circumstances, he would have put her in her place, but not today. He’s not interested in wasting his time.
With the chainsaw heavy in his hands, he pushes into the throng. The entire venue seems to be vibrating from the techno blasting through the speakers. The center of the gym is littered with costumed partiers gyrating, their beverages sloshing over the rim of their red solo cups. “Fucking yuppies,” Travis mutters as he squeezes his way through. He imagines sticking the live saw into the mass of dancers, the terror that would ensue would be thrilling.
He emerges on the outer edge which is lined with chairs and tables, and he scans the nearby faces. For a moment he’s worried he won’t be able to find her, the costumes are so elaborate, but then his eyes fall upon a tall slender woman dressed as the Corpse Bride, sipping on a cider. Travis’s heart stops—it’s been so long since he’s seen her. This is his chance. He readjusts the chainsaw in his sweaty palms and hastens across the floor.
He’s almost there when he recognizes her companions. The lanky frame of her father, dressed as Gumby, wraps an affectionate arm around his daughter’s shoulder. Her brother and sister, Leia and Han Solo, are a few feet over, their movements not quite good enough to be called dancing. Their howling laughter floats to his ears. The hatred in his heart swells. They are idiots. He imagines tearing his chainsaw through each of their necks, and smiles to himself.
Instead, he waits. Not a single movement is lost on him—tucking her hair behind her ear, her neck bobbing as she swallows the cider, a chuckle as her siblings try to pull her into their dance circle. Travis is relieved when half an hour later, the pair of sisters separate from the group and go to the bathroom. Mariah is a mild inconvenience, but she won’t be able to keep him from speaking to his wife. She’s a weak, stupid bitch.
He follows them at a sprint, heart thudding against his ribs. When he arrives at the women’s washroom, he doesn’t think, just walks straight in.
“Andie,” he says forcefully, though his throat is dry, his tongue like a block of wood.
“Oh my god,” Andie says. Both the women exit the stalls, fear in their faces.
“Travis, what the hell are you doing here?” Mariah hisses.
“Shut up, Mariah,” he growls. Facing his wife he pleads, “I need to talk to you, Andie.”
His wife backs away, shaking her head.
“You’re not allowed to be here,” Mariah says. Arms spread wide—she steps in front of her sister.
“I said, shut the fuck up.” Travis holds up the chainsaw, rattling it in the air. To his annoyance, Mariah doesn’t move. Her fear is masked with stubbornness. He recognizes this look, An die’s used it often. “I just need to talk to my wife.”
Mariah begins to tell him no, but Andie squeezes her shoulder. “It’s okay. Let him say what he wants.”
“Fine. But then he has to leave.”
Travis smiles at his wife, but she doesn’t return it. He sighs and gives her an imploring look. “I just want to know why. Why you ignored my apology letters. Why you started the no contact order. You didn’t give me a chance to—”
“Travis, you had lots of chances. It’s over. I will never feel safe with you again. I will never trust you. Please, let me go.” Andie sighs, crossing her arms. There are prominent dark circles beneath her eyes, worry lines permanently crease her forehead—such details he hadn’t noticed from across the room.
“But I love you, Andie. I’ve done everything you’ve asked. You said I had to apologize to your family. I’ve done that. Several times.”
“Your apologies were bull shit,” Mariah says. “You can’t apologize three times in a row and say it’s because you didn’t mean it the last time.”
Her words make his blood boil. How dare she speak to him that way? She should learn to watch her tongue and behave as a woman should. If she can’t shut up, she should be punished. “Mariah, I swear to god if you speak again, I’ll rip you in two,” he growls, turning on his saw and opening the choke.
“Ha! You don’t have the balls, Travis. Come on, Andie, let’s go.”
Travis’ face twists in rage. He pulls the starting cord and as soon as the machine bursts into life, he lunges at her.
Mariah screams at her sister to run, but it can barely be heard over the roar of the machine. She turns to flee behind Andie, but he slashes out. The chain cuts into her back, churning out flesh like ground beef. Blood spatters from the entry point, but he presses on. As it arches down it sinks deeper and deeper, the flesh bursts out through the fissure of her skin.
There’s a glint of white shimmering through the chasm of blood and he smiles realizing it’s her spinal cord. He tightens his grip as the weapon convulses against the bone. There’s a sickening crunching sound as he pushes the chains through the vertebrae. Then with one last satisfying snap, the chainsaw slides out. Her limp body slumps to the ground, crumpling in on itself as blood pools around it. Crimson droplets have spattered across his face. The smell of copper fills the air. His hands are slick with warm red and yet, he feels nothing.
He is pulled from his fascination by the sound of Andie shrieking. She grabs her sister’s hand and tries to pull her out the door.
Travis watches the scene with mild interest. Chuckles when she screams for Mariah to run. “She’s dead you idiot.” He raises the chainsaw and brings it crashing down through Mariah’s wrist. That delightful crunch reverberates through his arm as he snaps through the bone. Andie flies back, the connection broken. She screams, looking at the hand still entangled with hers.
“You made me do it,” Travis says, motioning to the bloodied corpse with his saw. “If you’d only listened to me. If you’d only come back, then none of this would have happened.”
“You’re crazy,” Andie whimpers.
“People do crazy things when they’re in love,” he shrugs. He grabs her wrist and rips the slick, dead hand from her grasp and tosses it on top of the body. She sobs as he drags her out of the bathroom. “You’re coming home with me,” he hisses.
He fights his way to the ballroom, her arm in one hand, the dripping weapon in the other. When they near the dance floor people begin to stare and point. Travis isn’t sure if it’s the blood or the idling chainsaw, but it doesn’t matter. None of them try to stop him, so he trudges on.
Travis begins to think he’s going to make it out but when they near her family, Andie begins to scream.
Their heads all turn to the couple and her father’s face blanches in horror. He yells at his son, “It’s Travis!”
The men take chase and Travis panics—he could take them on one at a time, but he’d be easily overpowered by the two of them. Pulling hard on his wife’s arm, he begins to sprint.
She falls to her knees, reaching back to her family. “Daddy, help!”
“Stop resisting me,” he shrieks, yanking hard.
“Let me go!” Andie screams, thrashing harder against him. Her arms flail, clawing at the tile floor.
“No! I’ll never let you go.” The men are quickly advancing on them.
The steel toe of his boot connects with a thud against her temple, and she crumples. He swings her up over his shoulder and races through the crowd. The guests in his vicinity begin to scream, and as he runs, the more voices join the chorus.
A few courageous party goers put themselves between him and the exit. Travis groans and ignites his chainsaw. Several men back away, but a few remain. He rolls his eyes at their idiocy. With his wife hanging over his shoulder, he slashes the live saw through a man’s abdomen. Ropes of intestines spool through the open gash, landing with a sploosh on the floor. The man stays standing for a split second, and Travis barks out a laugh at him with his innards hanging outside his body. He sways and lands in the pile of bowels. Bodily fluids splash over Travis’s boots. He looks around at the crowd, swinging his chainsaw. “Who’s next?”
The men who had been so brave just moments before back away, heads shaking. One collapses onto his knees, vomiting up beer and appetizers. Travis grins and sloshes through the mess, leaving foot tracks of blood and bile as he runs out the door.
He comes face to face with the Harley Quinn from the beginning of the evening. “What’s going on in there?” Her face is pale, eyes wide. “What happened?”
“Get out of my way,” Travis growls, holding his saw in front of him. She holds up her arms, eyes wide and steps aside. He sighs when he notices the cellphone clutched in her hand, the screen displaying an active phone call. “You called the police,” he groans. “Why would you be so stupid? I’m going to have to kill you now.”
She shakes her head, mouth gaping.
He lunges at her, the saw shuddering as it tears through her neck. Her scream stops dead as her head slides off. Travis kicks it and watches as it rolls down the hill—pink, blue, pink, blue, until it disappears into a shrub.
He gets to his vehicle and throws Andie in the back seat, quiets his chainsaw and tosses it in beside her. As he moves for the driver’s side, someone screams his name, and he turns to see his in-laws racing across the parking lot. He jumps into the car and slams his fist onto the lock button. Starting the engine, he revs it. He hits the gas hard, swerving his vehicle towards the men. He’ll crush them like ants under a boot. Just as he’s preparing to feel the thump of them under his tire, they dive in opposite directions and his vehicle soars through the middle. With a growl, he slams his fist into the steering wheel. He’d like nothing more than to drive straight into them, but the sound of sirens makes him think better of it and he hits the gas hard, roaring past them and onto the road. The wailing of the police grows and then softens as he creates distance between them and the community center.
When they get home, he carries Andie into the house and lays her on the couch. He stares at her for a few minutes. She looks so peaceful, save for the blood flowing from the cut on her forehead. It’s as if he’s been transported in time and she’s just fallen asleep on the couch like any regular Saturday evening. He’d shake her awake and tell her it’s time for bed, and she’d get up and follow him into the master bedroom. If only things could be that simple again.
He knows he won’t get away with what he’s just done. If it weren’t for her family, they could have been happy. It’s all Mariah’s fault. If she hadn’t stood up to him, none of this would have happened.
Andie begins to stir.
Sirens approach.
If he’s going to do it, he must do it now.
He gets a barrel of gas from the garage, but the matches seem to be missing. Rushing back into the house, he places the jerry can beside the sofa and begins searching for the matches. In a frenzy, he rips apart the kitchen drawers, but the matches are nowhere to be found, so he flies into the bathroom. He’s halfway through tearing the bathroom cabinet apart, when his elbow knocks something and it shatters on the floor. It’s a candle, a vanilla marshmallow one, it was Andie’s. The smell wafts up to his nostrils and a flurry of memories come with it. Where the candle had sat is a perfect circle, clean of dust and toothpaste spittle, and beside it—the matches. He snatches them up and kisses them, dust sticking to his lips.
It will be romantic, like Romeo and Juliette. They’ll go to the after life together, and maybe there she’ll be able to love him.
He pours the liquid over the couch, over himself, over his wife. For the first time since she left, he sits down beside her. He considers flicking on the television, for old times’ sake. Maybe an episode of Brooklyn 99, or The Office, but there isn’t time. Already he can hear the police getting closer. Andie’s father and brother probably told them where they live. Travis wonders what the reaction will be like when they discover Mariah, and he smiles at the thought. If only he could have witnessed the aftermath. That pompous prick will lose both daughters in one evening, and it will serve him right.
The couch is comfortable, even with the shiny damp settling over the turquoise fabric. The smell of gasoline fills his nostrils as he lays back against the yellow cushions. Even though the end is near, he feels at peace. The last few months have been a living hell, it is a relief to finally be done with it. Perhaps not quite how he had envisioned, but this way they’ll be away from her family.
There is the blaring of sirens and the flashing of lights.
He closes his eyes against it and lights the match.

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This publication is part 86 of 90 in the series 13 Days of Halloween