|Copyright © 2002-2019 by A Shockey All rights
reserved. Materials may not be reproduced without
express permission from the author.
The lone phantom bus tunneled through the darkness, its high beams two piercing remedies
for the blackness of the night. It carried twelve remaining passengers.
Ramey Stover was one of them. Her destination: Crawford, Florida.
For the past five hours, the bus had been a haven for her from the world outside. A beast
within whose belly she was safe. But the beast was nearing its next-to-last stop. Soon, it
would cough her up, spit her out, and go its rootless way, leaving her alone in an unfamiliar
place. In one more offbeat town. Where the residents were unaware of the horror going on
within the realm of their quiet community. If only they knew what she did. They would not
be sitting out on their porches in their rocking chairs, talking about how slow the corn was
growing, or how much peanuts were bringing in by the pound this year. Instead, they would
be in their houses with the doors locked and praying they weren’t the next to be taken.
Why wouldn’t they listen?
She sighed heavily in frustration. To her left and just across the aisle, an older gentleman
peered at her over the top of a dog-eared magazine. His gaze was one of abstract curiosity.
His bright gray eyes searching her face inquisitively.
She looked away, returning her gaze to the night speeding by outside the window.
Her bitterness was growing, and bringing with it an undeniable desperation clawing at her
very soul like some hideous, taloned monster. One that tore at her over and over again each
new time she went to the authorities with what she knew, only to have some tobacco-
chewing redneck either look at her sideways, or flat out laugh in her face. Not too long ago,
one in particular did even worse. Good old Chief Henry Tollerson of the Brady Police
Department in Brady, South Carolina locked her up for two weeks, during which time she
was mind-pillaged by the local psychiatrist because he believed her to be “missing a few
eggs in the quail’s nest”. Attitudes were the same everywhere she went. Only the faces of
the residents were different.
Something had to give. She did not want to spend another year of her life chasing after him.
Trying to keep up. Forever searching for a way to stop him while he in turn kept scurrying
from one town, one state, to the next, leaving body after body lying cold and blue in his
A shiver touched her, reaching with one icy cold finger to trace a fine, deliberate line down
the nape of her neck with unnerving endearment. She knew the touch. It was Death,
taunting her again.
A steady throbbing pain settled itself in the center of her forehead. She squeezed her eyes
shut and rubbed the aching spot with her fingertips. A streak of bright blue light suddenly
seared her vision.
A horrifying memory clawed its way from her past to the present, and everything around
her began to fade into a grayish-white blur. It tugged at her with long skeletal fingers. From
the depths of her childhood hell, it pulled her in, dragging her down, kicking and screaming,
through the darkened corridors of a past she could not escape.
Time rolled back with the speed of light. She was six years old again. And she was there.
Lying in bed, and dreaming of the beautiful pink unicorns dancing along the frilly edges of
her bed’s overhead canopy. Then the dream was shattered. By a scream of sheer terror.
One so horrific, it was absolute.
The scream brought her wide-awake. She sat up and looked anxiously around the room.
She noticed her bedroom door was shut. (It was open when her mother put her to bed. It
was always open. Except now, it wasn’t. And this made everything all wrong.)
She sat perfectly still. She listened with her entire body. It was like being electric. Like
drawing in the air and everything floating on it a person couldn’t see, and feeling it all over,
so you heard it on the inside. Every crackle. Every shivering hiss.
And there were other noises filtering through the left wall of her bedroom. The adjoining
room belonged to her parents. She listened carefully, trying to determine just what might be
going on in there. Something was, and it was happening to her mother. Of this, she was
certain. There was no mistaking her mother’s voice.
Apprehension crept over her in a smooth, slithering wave. It raised and dimpled the flesh of
her arms and legs. For a long time, she couldn’t move. Only listen. Until the sounds grew
even more frightening.
She slid to the edge of the bed. When her feet dangled over the side, there was a split
second when she wondered if the ever-lurking Leg-Troll-Goblin was going to reach out with
his clawed, scaly hands and grab her by the ankles. Normally this thought scared her into
staying in bed, (except when she had to go to the bathroom so badly had he grabbed her
then, she would have drowned him for sure by peeing on his lumpy head!), and she would
not have gotten up this time, but the instinctive urge to go to her mother outweighed all else.
She needed to see her. To know that she was okay. Perhaps to be told (as she’d been told
on a few other occasions) that the sounds were all just “part of the grown-up game she and
daddy were playing”. Anything. Anything at all would be far better than the frightful images
her imagination was conjuring up.
Thus, braving the danger of becoming the Leg-Troll-Goblin’s midnight snack, she lowered
herself to the floor, then dashed away from the bed as quickly as she could. She glanced
back once just to be sure, her eyes wide and probing the darkness. Luckily the coast was
clear. Maybe the Leg-Troll-Goblin had already devoured his snack this night.
Or maybe he’s in there with your mother!
This thought almost paralyzed her with fear. A painful lump lodged itself in her throat. She
swallowed hard against it, thinking it was going to choke her and she would die, gagging to
death right here on the shaggy carpet, with only the unicorns as witness to her demise. But
she didn’t choke, and the lump went down, and this left her with having to go on.
She held her breath and took hold of the doorknob. Squeezing her eyes shut, she turned it,
fearing what might find just on the other side. Maybe not the Leg-Troll-Goblin, but a
slobbering, double-fanged monster, instead, with an appetite for little girls who loved
unicorns and hated slimy toads. Or maybe there was a clown. An awful clown whose
painted mask was all he had for a face, and who would try to steal her eyes because he
knew hers would fit perfectly in the socket holes of his makeshift skull. Or maybe there was
a giant, red-eyed pig; it would eat her alive if it caught her, then carry her soul away in its
mouth to a giant mud pit, where a soul-worm would greedily suck it down into its squishy,
muck-filled belly. Anything could be out there just waiting for her to open the door and step
out into the hall. It was good reason to hesitate, and now she was even more frightened.
She was rooted to the floor, her hands locked tightly around the doorknob. The sounds
coming from her parents’ bedroom were growing more horrible by the second. Now
someone was thrashing about on the bed. She could hear the headboard banging into the
No monsters! No pigs! No clowns!
No monsters! No pigs! No clowns!
The words were a silent chant in her head. Finally, she summoned enough courage to ease
the door open a fraction. The hinges groaned and squealed, and she thought surely
something or someone was hearing. The something being the red-eyed pig. The someone
being the sightless clown. And it would be the clown who grabbed her, she was sure of it,
because he could hear twice as well as the monster or the pig. It was because he could not
see; his ears were extra keen, especially where door squeaks and floor creaks were
Holding her breath, scared out of her wits, she poked her head through the gap and peeked
out into the hall. There was no drooling monster. No giant, red-eyed pig. No masked, eye-
less clown. Only darkness met her wide-eyed, frightened gaze. Quietly, she stepped
cautiously out into the hall.
She inched forward, staying close to the left wall, hands clenching and unclenching in
nervousness, her bare toes digging into the carpet between each new step. She went to the
closed door of her parents’ bedroom and pressed her ear against it, listening. What she
heard made her suspicion seem an awful, sure reality. Her mother . . . Pleading . . . Begging
. . . Then her voice muffled as something was put over her mouth. She was clearly being
held against her will, and subjected to something horrible. Something evil.
Ramey wanted to turn and run. To return to the safety of her own room, the warmth of her
bed, and the dream of the dancing unicorns. Instead, she found herself turning the knob that
would open the door to her parents’ bedroom and the world of horror being carried out
The room was not entirely dark, but dimly lit by a single bedside lamp. The light of which
was softly muted by a rose-colored scarf draped lazily over its shade. It was supposed to
create warmth and coziness. Two things her mother loved. But this situation was entirely
different, and the scene before her was anything but inviting. Confusion clouded her mind
as she tried to discern what was happening, exactly.
Her mother was lying spread-eagle on the bed, her wrists and ankles tied to the bedposts
with knotted lengths of white nylon rope. A bright red scarf served as a gag for her mouth.
In the half-light, Ramey could see fresh tears glistening on her cheeks like tiny, silvery
offerings. Trouble was, no one wanted them. Least of all the man standing over her.
What was her father doing? Why did he have her mother tied to the bed?
In that instant, she became unaware of her own movements, as though her brain suddenly
decided to go on holiday and leave her body parts to operate on their own accord. She half
bungled, half staggered into the room. She wanted to scream, had her mouth open for this
very purpose in fact, but the sound hid itself away.
Her trembling legs carried her frightfully closer, until she was so near her father, she could
have reached out and tugged on the tail of his lab jacket. It occurred to her, in a sort of
absent-minded thought deluge, to do that very thing. To get his attention. So he would turn
to look at her. Surely he would want to explain to her what was happening here, once he
saw how frightened she was. But some stronger force deep within her said otherwise, and
her arms remained two heavy-hanging limbs by her sides.
She neared the foot of the bed. Her mother, who had until now been struggling against her
bindings, looked up at this moment and saw her standing there. Her eyes widened even
further, and the terror already evident in her gaze soared to a level beyond comprehending.
(There exists a place, and a point in it, where sheer terror becomes insanity. When Death
comes knocking, it’s where he takes you first. It’s a place where a person’s worst fears are
realized. It’s where Horror resides, and every now and then Evil drops by for a game of
poker. In the end, Death will be the victor. In the meantime, there is Horror and Evil to
contend with. In a place where there is no room to hide.)
Her mother’s eyes were screaming at her. Get out! You shouldn’t be in here! I don’t want
you seeing this! But Ramey was rooted to the spot. Her father, busy at concentrating on
what he was doing, did not notice her right away, though she was perfectly within his field
of vision, just to his left as a matter of fact, and ---
Was that a real syringe?
He was standing over her mother with the long, glinting needle. From the tip, a drop of
amber-golden liquid was seeping. She thought it looked like the sap that oozed from the pine
trees at the edge of the drive.
“Now, Julene. Just lie still,” he was telling her. “It won’t hurt so much if you lie still.”
He was lying. Ramey knew it. She could tell by the sound of his voice. Her mother knew it,
too. And as he drew closer and closer with the needle, her struggles intensified. Her eyes
were wide and wild, and she was screaming against the gag in her mouth.
“All right now,” her father coaxed. “Here we go.”
He used his free hand to raise her nightgown, exposing her round, protruding belly. She
panicked, crying furiously and pulling against the ropes. But she was helpless to get away.
Feeling her turmoil from the inside, her unborn baby, seven months into development,
vulnerable inside her womb.
“Don’t make me hurt you, Julene,” her father said. “You should consider the baby as well.
One wrong move and it could be seriously injured. I won’t be responsible.”
Ramey swallowed and almost choked. Was that where the needle was going? In her mother’
s belly? Where the baby was?
Suddenly her mother grew very still on the bed. She continued to cry, but in the way of a
person who has lost all hope. She quietly turned her face away toward the window and the
“That’s it,” her father said, and he brought the needle to her mother’s stomach.
Ramey watched as it was inserted. She was struck motionless by the sight, not wanting to
believe what she was seeing. She had never seen a needle so long. For a moment, she
wondered if it might go clean through her mother’s middle and out the other side. It might
have been better if it had. Maybe then it wouldn’t have hurt so much. And it did hurt. She
saw that. When the syringe was depressed and the liquid was sent in, the horror of all true
horrors began. Her mother, now in excruciating pain, managed to work the gag out from
between her teeth. Then she started screaming. Her voice . . . Her pain . . . They became
all that mattered in the world. Her screams transcended time, and were with Ramey always.
Still, this wasn’t the worst. No, this was only the beginning. And her life was changed
When Ramey Stover wakes from a tormented
sleep feeling as though she's been there, it's because she
has. And through the darkness, someone is reaching out to
her . . .
Ramey is haunted by Corrine's tortured cries.
The drugs are changing her. There is little time left to save
Finding Corrine will force Ramey to face a terrifying
truth, and the madman who is her family's darkest secret.