It must have been nearly midnight. Outside the house, near a tree in the front yard, a police officer stood. He was speaking to two women, questioning them. The officer smiled and continued writing looking very bored.
“So, Miss Allgood, Miss Gutierrez, do you have any idea who this man may have been?” The police officer was holding a notepad ready to take notes and looking very bored.
“No,” they both answered simultaneously.
“Have either of you noticed anything strange? Break-ins, things missing, anything threatening at all?”
The shorter woman with the shorter dark hair answered right away, “No, he was just standing there looking at the house.”
“Miss Allgood?” The officer pressed.
“On Valentine’s Day… I got a really weird, anonymous valentine, I remember every line of it because it was so strange and scary. I can get it for you if you want?”
“Yes Miss Allgood, please.”
Laura walked back into the house and rummaged through the waste paper basket she had thrown the note in the trash a few days before. There it was at the bottom next to a Snickers candy bar wrapper. She took it back outside to the cop.
‘Hi cutie, will you be my valentine? I promise to watch over you. I promise to provide all you seek. I know what you’re running from, and the sin your pretty red lace heart hides or something like that. I can see it all, night and day. I can see you and I see you need me, even though you may not know it. I am here to help you discover your true self. I am here to help you learn to weep. Will you be my Valentine? Why not? Don’t you want to play?’
“Any idea who might have written it?”
“I don’t know. I just don’t know.” Said Laura getting visibly upset.
“Well,” the officer turned and started walking back to his car. “If anything else happens, you know what to do. And don’t worry, we’ll get this guy if he comes back.”
He got into his car and pulled out a small digital recorder and spoke into it, “County Police Department. Victim’s names: Laura Allgood, and Alisa Maria Gutierrez. Address: 211 Ridge Rd. Incident date: 12 a.m. 2/17/2017. Incident time: between 6:00 pm and 12:00 am Suspect: Male, 5’8″, medium build, Caucasian dressed in dark clothing. Charges: Stalking and Pursuit, Trespassing.” He put the recorder back in the glove box thinking another masturbating weirdo to add to the ever-growing list, put the car in gear and drove away, already forgetting everything about this call.
Alisa turned and took her friend’s hand. “That was creepy, but don’t worry about it. Let’s go inside.”
“Yeah, okay,” Laura muttered.
“Hey,” a voice yelled from out of a second story window of the house next door. “Are you girls okay?” It was Robert Driscoll, the neighbor.
Alisa waved, “Yes, we’re fine, thank you!”
“Have a nice night. You ladies need anything let me know” he pulled his head back inside.
Alisa grabbed her friend’s hand again, “Yeah OK Rob, we will.”
In a hushed tone Alisa said, “Speaking of perverts.” then, “C’mon Laura, we need some rest,” and pulled on Laura’s arm. “C’mon let’s go.” Laura stayed silent and let Ally lead her back inside the house.
It was afternoon the next day. Laura hurriedly walked across the empty parking lot towards the local library. After crossing the lot she turned down a quiet back street, her favorite route.
“Lauuuura,” a low voice sang.
Laura whirled around. “Who’s there?”
“Lauuuura,” the voice sang again.
“Hello? Who’s there? This isn’t funny! Ally? Is that you! This isn’t fucking funny” She yelled. Laura didn’t swear much. She either had to be really ‘fucking mad’ or really ‘fucking scared’.
“Lauuuura,” the voice deepened into a growl. Laura ran. The singing-growling voice followed her.
“Lauuuura, you can’t run,” the voice was on her heels now. Laura tried to scream, but a hand with a rag and some smelly stuff on it muffled her cry. Panicked and in fight or flight mode she tried to take in deep breaths of air that her lungs so desperately needed. She was choking on the rag, choking on the smelly stuff and it was burning her throat. She struggled weakly and felt herself slipping away. She blacked out.
When she woke, her mouth was dry and her throat was still burning. She had no idea where she was. The woods? What was she doing in the woods? Her mind cleared and she realized she was bound and gagged. “Mmmm,” she tried screaming, but tape was covering her mouth. She tried moving her hands and they were taped together behind her back.
“Lauuuura.” Laying there she strained her head around to see where the voice was coming from. There was a man, his face covered in shadows. “The human race is so vulnerable to sin. Even a good girl like you can’t escape it.” He laughed. Laura struggled as he walked near her. “Maybe?” he said thoughtfully, “if I do this….” he grabbed her right ankle roughly and yanked her up violently in a twisting motion breaking it. Laura screamed through the cloth and tape and the real terror began to set in along with the intense pain. “For safety my dear,” he said as Laura cried muffled cries. He reached into a black leather bag and removed a roll of duct tape and began winding it up her legs and around her arms to her waist “we wouldn’t want any struggling around now, I might cut too deep by accident.” He then took a razor knife, the kind you open large boxes with and slowly sliced a cross on her forehead. Laura continued to scream. “SHUT UP YOU BITCH!” and the man slapped her so hard her head snapped to the side. “Maybe you could be saved…but you’re just such a little whore”
He sighed, “Ahhh, I need a smoke, I… I need to think. How, how, how, how?” The man took out a cigarette from his pocket and lit it. He took a long, deep drag and sighed out the smoke. It curled about his head giving it an evil murky unnatural glow. He chuckled coarsely. “Poor Laura, so alone, so full of sin” he said, mocking her. “Why do I deserve this? What did I do, oh boohoo?” He moved the cigarette from his face. “I don’t know, but it must have been something…. You’re too dangerous to keep alive, but you have to pay, that guy might hurt someone in this neighborhood.” He giggled a bit and knelt down and brought the still lit cigarette dangerously close to her face. “Stop struggling, I might miss and get your eye if you do,” he thrust the cigarette onto her forehead. Laura whined and thrashed her head. “I only have a few smokes left,” the shadows on his face distorted its shape, but she could see through the haze of pain that he was smiling.
After an hour of torture, the man dragged a beaten, exhausted Laura to her feet. “Come see my box,” he said and ripped the tape off of her mouth.”P-please,” she croaked pleadingly. Her voice was barely a whisper. The man simply cut the tape off of her hands, knowing she was too weak to resist him.”Come see my box,” he repeated. He dragged her towards a bush. When she saw what the man was really dragging her towards, Laura’s eyes widened. It was a box. A box in the ground about seven feet long, buried up to its top. On the ground just beside it was a lid that had some old fashioned writing on it. It reads ‘Comfort House Inc.’ On the right wall of the box there was a metal grate set in the wood that opened into another, smaller box with a top on it, a ventilation port. “See? You won’t die, I don’t want you to die…. Not right away that is.” He threw her in and quickly nailed the top shut. Laura screamed until she passed out. She thought she was blind until she remembered what happened. Remembering that she was in a homemade coffin she started hyperventilating. “No!” She shrieked in a blood-chilling voice and thrashed around what she could.
“Someone help!!” She sobbed
Light suddenly fell on her face from the grill and an unsure voice spoke, “Hello?”
“Please help me!” Laura screamed.
“Miss, are you okay?”
“No, I’m fucking losing it. I need to be let out. GET ME OUUUUT!”
“Shhhhh stop screaming you’re scaring me. I’m Rhys,” she could hear a young boy’s voice through the ventilation portal. He sounded about ten years old.
“Rhys, my name is Laura Allgood. Please, Rhys please get me out of here before he comes back”
“He? He who?” Rhys asked.
“A man,” Laura took a deep breath “A man abducted me.” She heard Rhys say, “Holy shit!”
“I can’t open the lid, it’s nailed shut.”
“Rhys you have to help me, please, please.” Laura sobbed. “Please Rhys, call the police, yes, go call the police,” Laura sobbed.
“Okay, lady I will do whatever I can.” She heard him start to move away.
“Wait!” Laura looked around the coffin and in the dim light through the grille she could see that there was a lot of scribbled writing and weird symbols carved into the wood. Noticing she was lying on top of a dirty white blanket and a plastic sheet. On the left there was a tiny shelf upon which sat a pack of saltine crackers and four ballpoint pens on top of a single piece of paper.
“Oh my fucking God, thank God,” she said and scribbled a note that read: My name is Laura Allgood. I am badly hurt. I am buried alive. Please come and let me out. Rhys can help you- just come help me. Hurry.
“Here,” she passed the letter through the grill, “Give this to-” She heard a shuffling sound and footsteps running away. “Rhys? Rhys, are you there!, RHYS?!”
She heard Rhys laugh, then as the laughing continued it got deeper and more maniacal. It was the man who abducted her, “give me that.” He tore the letter away through the grate, away from Laura’s hand. He pulled out a camera, “Say cheese.” The camera flashed and Laura was blinded for a moment.
“No… NO… oh God please NO.” she sobbed. The look on Laura’s face was priceless the man thought. I should be a fucking artist. What the hell, I am an artist. He smiled and put the picture in an envelope.
A woman stepped out onto a stone stoop and reached in the mailbox. “Must be from the church,” she said to herself. The envelope was heavy, yet of a soft sort, more akin to cloth than paper. It was sealed with a small blob of some wax like substance. She turned it over and gasped when she saw the scrawled word: ‘Laura’ She quickly slit open the top and pulled out a single Polaroid picture of her daughter behind a grimy metal grate. She looked hurt and filthy, and tears streaked down her face. On the back of the disturbing picture was a poem:
she is impure.
but I can help.
I can purge her sins.
but the price is high.
the price is death!
Clean and dead.
alive sin sticky
there is a special place behind the laughing walls.
dark inside, they bed together, you know.
You put her dowry there.
PUT HER DOWRY THERE.
do you love your dirty little whore ?
The woman, Laura’s mother, raced into the other room to call the police. They arrived in good time, in a convoy of flashing lights and blaring sirens. Tears were shed, notes were taken, fingerprints on the mailbox dusted for, reports filed. In the end the Detective told Laura’s Mom…
“It’s not much to go on yet ma’am, but let the forensics boys have a crack at it and we’ll see if something develops.”
“Please find her, find my daughter please!”
The detective stood there for a moment thinking if he should or shouldn’t console this grieving mother.
“Is … Is there someone you need me to call?”
“No, no thank you detective I have some friends coming over from the church to be with me.”
“OK ma’am, let us know if you need anything or if you remember anything or if anything strange happens.”
“Yes, yes I will. Of course. Thank you detective.” He could see the tears welling up in her eyes again and forced himself to turn and walk away.
Back in The Box, Laura was having trouble breathing. She was in and out of consciousness and she was dreaming about monsters. Terrifying monsters playing in a hellish band. They had the bodies of men, but black skin and different heads. One in the center, the one that really caught her attention had a wrinkly, yellowish face with two lines of staples running from its mouth and eyes. It had long red and black hair. Another one, the one playing the drums looked like something out of a Japanese horror story. It had a white face with black and red painted features. It had long black hair. Another glared angrily out of a metal hockey mask from over its guitar. One had nine-inch long nails sticking out of its head. One was sick, twisted Pinocchio from a child’s nightmare, one looked like a zombie. They were all gruesome looking, a mix of animals and tortured men. One was an insane looking clown and from its back grew another monster that looked like a jester. Their eyes ripped into a crowd of demons, playing wild, chaotic music. The singing monster moaned in an almost pleading voice, they all threw their heads violently up and down vomiting up a foul ichor. Head-banging. “HANDS ON MY FACE OVERBEARING I CAN’T GET OUT, OUT, OUT, OUT!”
Laura woke with a start. She was cold, so cold and she drew the blanket and sheet closer to her chest. “Is that where I’m going? To Hell?” She croaked. That dream brought back memories of the church she grew up in, The Church on the Mount Savior. “After spending my whole childhood in that church I’m going to hell?” She sobbed.
The monsters in her dream haunted her thoughts. It was as if they knew her position and were explaining it, trying to tell it to the whole world through screaming pain and suffering. It moaned a few times then continued, screaming, “I can’t die, I can’t die, I CAN’T DIE, I CAN’T DIE, DIE, DIE, DIE,” Despite the cold mud that was creeping down her back she felt hot. Unbearably hot. It must be the breath of the demon at her feet. It was opening its mouth. She pulled the sheet and blanket closer in futile defiance. “No,” she breathed. “No …” Hearing something through her delirium. A soft scratching sound that got louder and louder and she realized that the dirt was being thrown on top of The Box.
The man had returned. He wanted to play with her some more, but he could sense time closing in on him like and ever shrinking box. With disappointing grunts he picked up a nearby shovel and started throwing dirt on top of the coffin. Whistling a merry tune and grinning from ear to ear, he could hear her start screaming ‘No’ over and over again and it became more muffled until he couldn’t hear her at all. With a final pat, pat of the shovel on the dirt he turned and left, leaving the sobbing, pleading Laura in darkness and suffocating death.
Time was a long slow gnawing hunger that ate at her mind and her body. Weak from torture and exhaustion she could feel the periods between awake and unconsciousness growing. She was stuck in The Box for God knows how long. She heard nothing of the outside world. All that there was, was darkness, herself and the box. Her food, the pack of crackers was long gone and it had only made her more thirsty. She wasn’t sure if she could remember the taste of water. She knew she was going to die soon. After hours of useless screaming, thrashing and clawing until her fingernails broke off and her fingers were bleeding stumps, she decided that there was no hope. She decided to just rest up for the torture she had to endure in the hell that awaited her. She was losing it, going insane. She was hearing noises, scratching at the lid of the coffin or someone opening the lid of the vent. Sometimes she heard voices, the voices of the monsters tormenting her final hours. Sometimes she saw lights at her feet. Two red glowing lights like the eyes of a demon preparing to swallow her alive.
“How did you discover this?” It was a police officer.
“I was walking my dog,” a man with curly dark brown hair and a big, dark brown beard covering his face said. “Taking my usual route and he got away from me. Pulled the leash right out of my damn hands and ran into this clearing.” He pointed at the cluster of trees. “There was a man sitting there, crying, he didn’t even notice me and my dog come up.”
“How did he look, what was he wearing?”
“I’ve never seen him before, but he wasn’t that old, not as old as I. Maybe twenty-twenty five and he was wearing one of those, um-mm … what do you call it, jumpsuit, work overalls I think? Had a business’s name on it, couldn’t make it out too well because it was so dirty, you know, but I could read one word on it. ‘HOUSE’, yeah it definitely said house in faded red lettering, but like some old timey print, you know?”
“What was he doing there?”
“It looked like he was scolding himself. He was scratching at the ground.”
“What did he do when he noticed you?”
“He ran, I must have startled him because he hit a tree branch trying to get away. Whacked himself a good one he did..”
“Did you pursue him?”
“No way! I would have never caught up to him! I’m not that old, but I’m not that young!”
“What did you do then?”
“My dog was digging something up, so I helped.”
“That’s when you found the body?”
“Yeah, I smelt something and when I moved away all the dirt I saw this box buried in the ground, knew exactly what it was then and I went and called the police and you all showed up.”
“No, that’s pretty much it.”
“What’s your full name again Mr. Driscoll?”
“Robert R. Driscoll.”
“What’s the middle initial R stand for Mr. Driscoll”
“Rhys, but you can call me Robert. Everyone does.”
The officer smiled in reply and continued writing in his notebook, looking very bored.
I've always been a jack of all trades. I've been a poet, author, social commentator, comedian, online gamer, pod cast host, and Youtuber. I've had a class A license to drive semi truck over the road. I've worked as a chef, manager and all kitchen positions in hundreds of restaurants over the years. I've traveled in Mexico, Canada and through 37 of the 50 states. I've been a volunteer firefighter in Florida, where I grew up. I've fished the waters of the Gulf of Mexico and saw the far distant coast line of Cuba before its recent opening to the west. I've married, had 4 kids, divorced, got CKD stage 6 (end stage renal failure) Survived a stroke, mild heart attack, MRSA, blood clots and now chronic heart failure. Fully disabled and home bound, the internet is my social outlet, and window on the world. I go to dialysis three times a week, I watch movies, play video games and chat with people on social media. Writing is my catharsis for a life that is now spent measuring the time I have left, less the tomorrows that may never be.