Kim hasn’t been able to find a decent place to sleep for the last few days and with the way she looked and smelled, she didn’t think there was much of a chance that would be changing soon.
The weather has been nice, which makes sleeping by the beach a little more bearable, but she missed being in a bed with a pillow and sheets. She would even settle for the last bed she was in, which wasn’t so nice, yes it was warm and comfortable, but it smelled like old cum and was full of bedbugs, still, it would be better than this shit.
She had been kicking herself for days for acting the way she did with that last one, she thinks his name was Henry. While at Henry’s, she kept waking up at night, then going to the window, where she would stay till morning chain smoking cigarettes.
She was seeing strange things in Henry’s neighborhood. She kept waking him up to show him what she had seen, he would come to the window, and these things she saw were never there.
“Henry, get over here, that fucking dog across the street, he is walking on his hind legs, he keeps looking at me.” She would frantically wave her hand that was always holding a lit cigarette. “Hurry Henry. Come here!” She would say this with eyes that were as jumpy as a drop of blood on a hot skillet.
Henry stopped going to the window after the second night of being dragged out of sleep by Kim. She had been disrupting him to the point where he kept missing work in the morning. It was on the fourth day that Henry asked Kim to go to the store. He gave her a twenty and a list of things he knew would be nearly impossible to find. While she was out, he gathered her things and left them by the door. He then called his boss and told him he had a family emergency and needed the week off.
Kim showed up after hours of trying to shop, excited about the fact that she was able to find the special lighter fluid he needed. She waited around till evening but started seeing the dogs again, which frightened her, so she left the neighborhood, left her things and started walking to the beach.
They had been following her now for the last few days. She looked to be beat up pretty badly, but she was the right age, and she looked like she might come willingly, which was always a plus…
Kim doesn’t like it when she thinks clearly. When the words stop, and the visions stop, she becomes aware of the world and her place in it, and that is genuinely terrifying.
This particular evening, she was thinking clearly enough to recognize that there has been a van following her for hours. She wasn’t sure why they were following her. Initially, it didn’t phase her much. The feeling of being followed is commonplace for her, yet, this feels different. When she is followed by phantoms, chimera or imaginary undercover operatives, she would often feel engaged and excited. Not this time. There was nothing exciting about this situation at all. This van following her made her feel sad for some reason. The sadness she felt was a deep and unusual. It reminded her the time the doctors told her she would never feel better, a feeling that Kim has worked hard ever since to forget.
She hasn’t had anything to eat for at least a day and she had started to look for anybody who can spare a little cash, or at the very least, some cigarettes. It was starting to get dark and the beach was mostly deserted. She did happen upon a man selling frozen pops from a wheeled cart emblazoned with the Mexican flag. He looked like he was winding down for the night and she thought he might be willing to give her something to snack on, to take away the hunger.
“Hey, excuse me,” Kim said abruptly approaching him while nervously pulling at her shirt. She stopped and tried to say something else but had a hard time, so she just pointed.
“Could I have one of those please,” she smiled a crooked smile.
“I’m hungry, I have no money.”
“Oh, no mas,” said the man shaking his head.
“OK, thank you,” she said, “sorry for bothering you,” she said this while turning to walk away.
When she turned, he grabbed her arm.
“Wait, wait, miss,” he smiled.
He reached into a colorful bag he had around his waist and handed her a five dollar bill. He smiled again, flashing a mouthful of gold teeth. Kim, being extremely grateful for his act of kindness, graciously accepted the money. She bowed in gratitude.
Five dollars was just enough for a burger and a chocolate milk at the open air snack bar, the one that stays open till 9:00.
She picked up her pace, making a scratching sound, as her sandals shuffled on the sandy pavement.
On a bench outside the snack bar, Kim worked at her burger, chasing it down with a cold chocolate milk. She felt the sadness coming on again and she cried a little as she chewed. She worried that she will die out here, maybe hypothermia, or an accident, like being ran over by a car. Whenever Kim thinks like this she sees these things happening to her as real as anything else. This evening, sitting on her bench, she thinks about getting hit by a car. She often thinks about her own death, with visions, being powerful enough at times, to bring on a full panic attack. Sitting there, she stared at the ground in front of her were she sees her tall thin body twisted up with bones sticking out where they shouldn’t be; she sees blood pouring from her eyes and mouth as her head can no longer contain the hemorrhage; she even sees her own eyes cloud over as her spirit leaves her body. This night, Kim finds these thoughts of death and dying more melancholic than sad or frightening. The melancholy is a feeling she welcomes, like her impending fate is the only thing she has left.
Kim was transfixed, lost in thought, her stare, dead and distant. Overlapping the, all too real image of her bleeding out on the asphalt, she saw a small dog, he was sitting on the ground in front of her. She brought her vision back to focus and started to think that there was really a dog there; he was staring at her and he looked hungry.
Kim has always been a sucker for stray dogs, or ‘stray’ anything for that matter. She looked at the dog again to make sure he was a real and not one of those bizarre two legged dogs she had been seeing lately. She reached down to pet him. The touch of his rough fur was enough to confirm that the hungry thing in front of her was your standard quadruped. The dog just sat there and stared at her as though the poor thing was asking her rescue him, to take him away with her. She, knowing that same feeling herself, felt a deep empathy for the animal. She hadn’t eaten all day, but she could not resist sharing her burger with him.
He looked to be some sort of wire terrier and he was very happy to be sharing a meal with her. For the first time in a while, Kim started to laugh, real laughter, not the crazy kind, and she started to smile as well. Shaping her face into a smile brought an awareness of the wetness on her cheeks, she wiped her face with her arm and then gave the stray another bite of her burger. She was enjoying the companionship, but she understood, as always, that the smiles and laughter wouldn’t last. It was only a matter of time before she would become paranoid and send him away.
looking up, she sees the van again, it’s lights were off as it pulled into the parking lot, stopping in front of the snack bar. Kim was not afraid, she was kind of expecting this. She was happy that her belly was full, and at the very least, she had a chance to eat.
Kim could hear the front doors unlatch. She was surprised to see a very ordinary older couple, dressed like tourists step out of the van. She had been expecting something totally different. She has heard stories about girls getting picked up, raped and murdered, yet, these two walking toward her looked like they couldn’t hurt a fly.
You would think that she would be relieved to see that they were harmless, but instead she was surprised by a feeling of disappointment; she was ready to go, willing to accept her fate, even if it were a horrible one. The fact that these were good people, who were not going to harm her, just meant more shit to crawl through before her inevitable end.
“Tippy, there you are,” said the woman who looked like she was about to keel over with excitement.
“Alice, you were right it is her,” said the man in the baseball cap and pastel golf shirt.
When the dog heard them he turned around and ran toward them at full speed, tail wagging. The woman knelt down and lifted the dog into her arms while he frantically licked at her face.
“We can’t tell you how long we have been searching for this little guy,” said the old woman who was sporting an impossibly large hairdo.
“I am so grateful he was with someone who was feeding and taking care of him.” She held out the dog to inspect him, smiling, “look honey, not a scratch, and I was so worried.”
The woman stood there looking at Kim, and appeared as though she was thinking.
“You know there is a reward we are offering,” she said looking at Kim with all seriousness.
Kim couldn’t believe her good fortune, she understood now why the van was following her, they were actually looking for their dog; now they are offering a reward; she couldn’t have asked for better luck.
“The reward is two-hundred and fifty you know,” said the man.
The woman was shaking her head up and down slowly while looking at Kim, “that’s right she said, two-hundred and fifty.”
“Come over here, I have the cash in the glove-box.”
As she stared at the man and woman holding their dog, Kim felt a strange darkness move through her. The darkness she felt had moved past sadness to full blown dread, not the paranoid kind, but the real stuff that only comes with clear thinking. Yet, she had no reason to dread what was happening, this was probably the luckiest thing that had ever happened to her and she was not going to pass this up.
So she followed them. They both had an odd gait about them, and they kept turning around to make sure that she was still behind them, which made Kim uncomfortable. They walked up to the van and they opened the passenger door, the interior light came on and the man went for the glove box. While he did that, Tippy started jumping up and down at the side door of the van, she was acting like she wanted in, like if she barked long enough the door would magically slide open… and it did.
A flood of light came from the back of the van, at the same time Kim looked over at the old man and she can see clearly that he had pulled a gun from the glove compartment. She saw Tippy jump into the van and in the van she saw a man. His head was topped with a cowboy hat. He was clothed entirely in Roy Rogers regalia, complete with a handkerchief necktie.
“Well hot Damn!,” said the man in the van, “lookie what we got here!”
She went to turn to run and that was when the old man hit her square in the middle of the forehead with the but of his gun.
“Hey daddy, I’m getting hungry, you mind hitting up a drive through?”
“What you thinking about Gus?”
“I don’t fucking care, it ain’t like there’s a big difference, is there?”
“You boys talk nice now,” said Alice.
Alice had Tippy sitting in her lap, he was looking straight forward out the window of the van, hypnotized by the lights of the oncoming traffic. “Tippy, sweetie, what do you want to eat? You want some ice cream, you want mama to get you some ice cream?”
“I wouldn’t mind some ice cream,” said Bob.
“Sound good to you Gussie?”
“Yep, sounds good mama.”
Kim could hear everything being said in the van, but whenever she tried, she couldn’t open her eyes or feel her arms and legs. She was also having a hard time recognizing what position her body was in. Whatever was wrong with her has completely disrupted her ability to understand what her body was doing.
She did her best to gauge where she was and what was happening; from the sound of it, she was inside a moving vehicle and there was a conversation going on between the old man and the old woman who had confronted her at the beach. She can also hear the twangy voice of a young man. She could smell his breath as well, it was bad, smelled to her like the bone meal her grandma used to put on her rose bushes. She could also smell cigarette smoke, someone was smoking in the vehicle and it was making her crave one real bad. Kim needs to smoke constantly to keep the hallucinations down. When she smokes, it calms her. It’s as though her whole system needs the smoke and nicotine so badly, it stops her worrying about all the shit long enough to get the vital chemical to her brain.
“Mama, I think we got a wiggler.”
“Just give her a little more of the special K son.”
“I need a new hypo, I busted the last one we got back here.”
Kim was really working to open her eyes. She wasn’t sure if what she was hearing was real or not, so she wanted to see for herself. She suspects the voices were coming from real people, because they were talking about things that the regular voices don’t really talk about; the voices have never discussed Ice cream, or special K.
“Mama, goddammit! Check the mother lovin’ glove box for the extra kit we got.”
Alice shuffled through the glove box and found the kit Gus was asking for. She flipped on the interior light switch from the front console.
“Jesus Christ Gussie, why’d you go and start cutting on her for.”
Kim felt a pressure on her leg, but when she heard Alice mention cutting, she panicked.
“Come on, hand me the fuckin’ kit, she’s really starting to stir, I need that hypo.”
Kim opened her eyes, they immediately flooded with light, so much that it felt like a needle was being shoved under her eye.
“Oh shit mama,” Gus was laughing, “she’s gone and woken up.”
“Oh man,” said Bob, “If she sees you Gussie, poor girls gonna shit her pants.”
With that last comment, Kim looked up at the man who had her head resting in his lap. When she looked at him she saw an oddly disfigured human that had a combination of massive scar tissue about his face, bulging eyes and what looked to be a nose that had gone through multiple botched surgeries.
Gus looked down at Kim and she could see that his face was covered with make-up, with his cheeks painted red to simulate a sort of healthy glow. As he spoke she could see that he had a mouthful of rotten teeth, most of which had been rotted to black jagged points.
She started making grunting sounds now. Kim could see Alice’s face in the yellow light and she was overwhelmed by the garishness and obscene quantities of make-up on her face with the highlight being the entirety from her eyelids, past her eyebrows being covered in blue eye shadow.
She handed Gus the hypodermic kit. As Gus readied the hypo with a new syringe of ketamine , Kim could see Bob’s glassy black eyes glaring at her from the rear view mirror. She could also see Tippy looking at her with curiosity. She looked at her arm and saw the IV. She saw Gus’s scab covered hands as he slipped the hypo into the IV.
As Kim started to lose the ability to keep her eyes open, she looked down at her leg and could see where Gus had worked on her leg and flayed the skin, she could also see the open case of surgical tools next to her leg. She tried to scream, and nothing came out. Then her eyes shut.
“Ok, we’re here,” said Bob, “who wants ice cream?”
 Friend of the Family
Nearly five years ago Bob, Alice, and the rest of the family voted to give one of the slower kids to a Mr. Lin Kenny in exchange for a steady supply of nitrous oxide and ketamine. Lin was a Korean man that owned a couple of Veterinary clinics, one in Town and another away from town that served the farming community. The family’s association with Lin allowed for easy access to drugs, antibiotics and discrete medical treatments. Lin also took care of the pigs and chickens.
The transaction with Mr. Kenny was a win-win for everybody; the family had instant access to the sedatives they needed to keep the women quiet and immobile; and Lin, a very lonely man, found a new friend in Bella, one of Samuel’s sanctified and hallowed children.
The win-win didn’t last long though, soon after mom and dad filled the supply room with vials of ketamine and nitrous canisters, Gus discovered the joy of nitrous and he started hitting the gas, and everybody else, hard and often.
Gus had always been a violent man, but the drugs made him wild and extremely unpredictable. The family couldn’t do much more than sit back and watch while he inflicted often strange and arbitrary offenses to himself and the bodies of the women and children he shared his home with.
Nothing could be done of Gus, he had privileges beyond the others, this was due to his being the only one in the house still alive that had been born to Bob and Alice, and the only one who can rightfully claim the designation of being a true ‘Child of Love’. The others were born to Samuel and the girls that came after Alice. Samuel’s children were children of necessity, children that Bob himself had been called upon to nurture and care for.
The kid Lin took fascinated him from the first time he laid eyes on her. Bella was about four feet tall, with an elongated head that was equal to about one-third of her overall body height. Bella also had a cleft palate which left her face with an angry red gash that ran from her lip to just below her left eye, her skin was white as snow and her iris’ were an ashen grey. All of these deformities reminded Lin of the auspicious creatures that populated the folktales of his childhood growing up in rural Korea.
Bella was born to a young woman that was taken for breeding from outside a methadone clinic in Toronto. Tammy appeared healthy, but her years of hard drug use did enough damage to cause her to birth slower babies. Some of the other girls had the occasional slow one, but Tammy had three in a row.
The children born to Samuel are usually deformed physically, but mental afflictions are rare, and when they do happen, they can almost always be attributed to the mother. After Tammy’s third child was determined to be slow, Bob and Alice used the bolt gun on her, bled her out in the bathtub then had Tammy processed at the local rendering plant, and eventually they fed her to the pigs.
When they pulled up to the orange house, Lin was there in his van waiting to greet Bob and Alice, It was good to see him; last night Gus finished the last of the nitrous and he was starting to freak out. Gus is a nightmare to be around when he doesn’t have his supply of hippie crack. He has a tendency to hurt the kids and the girls, and now that he is training to assist Lin in his surgeries, Gus was starting to practice on anything that falls asleep.
It was raining when they got to the house.
“Lin, my good man, how are you doing? What a pleasant surprise.” Bob gave him a hug, “How’s the little one?”
“Oh she’s with me, see,” Lin slid open the van door and inside, in between the gas canisters was a cage, and inside the cage was Bella.
“Lin she looks great.”
Alice looked into the van with a bright smile on her face. “Bella, you look so pretty today, looks like Mr. Lin got you a hair cut.”
Gus stepped out of the van now, his cowboy outfit was stained with blood and various sauces from fast food restaurants.
“Fan-fucking-tastic, ain’t it Mr. Lin, you got some of the gas with you?” Gus said this with an eager smile and hungry eyes.
As Gus spoke Lin looked into Gus’ black hole of a mouth and was reminded of a whale filtering krill.
“I sure do Mr. Gus.” Lin smiled.
“Momma I’m gonna go inside and get cleaned up, I think I’m going to have me a gas party tonight.”
With that Gus took off his hat, hit it on his jeans a few times to as if to clean it. He turned to look at Bob and Alice and he felt happy. He smiled and held it there for a moment. He thinks Samuel will be ‘over the moon’ about the new girl, and even though Gus isn’t one of his special children, maybe Samuel will now start treating Gus like one of his own. Yet as big as that smile of Gus’ was, it was not big enough to get away with what he did to the girls leg while they were in the van, he knows he shouldn’t have done that, he know she was a good one, meant for Samuel.
Gus has been part of Samuel’s world for as long as he can remember. Gus had never really been considered an asset by Samuel, however, at the very least he had been seen as more of an amusement rather than a liability, but lately Gus has not been able to control himself. He thinks it might be the gas and the Special K that is causing him to act funny, or maybe there was just something wrong with him, he sometimes thought his brain was broken, and maybe that’s why he always wants to cut people up. Sometimes he imagines having a willing friend, someone that could be with him at all times, someone that would let Gus cut on them, anytime he wants to. He images his friend could even carry a leather case over his shoulder that contained his knives and sutures and drugs.
Gus knows how unreliable he is, and the consequences for becoming unreliable in the eyes of his master scares him. ‘If he gets mad at me, they’ll take the gas away,’ he thought with the smile on his scarred face now reduced to a fearful grimace. ‘Shit,’ thought Gus, ‘I sure hope he don’t feed me to the pigs.’
When Gus said the word ‘pigs’ in his head, he saw himself practicing surgery on the pigs, and then he started to smile. That vision immediately turned on him when he cut open a pig belly, when the contents spilled, he saw swimming among the bile and vomit, pieces of his own face. This vision was so real to Gus, he let out a sorry Yelp.
Gus felt like his medical training with Doctor Lin would give him enough opportunities to cut up people and animals, but first he needed some gas.
Gus started moving toward the house, excited about his gas party, when he saw Bella in the back of Mr. Lin’s Van and he wondered if Mr. Lin would let him cut her up.
Bob saw how his son was ogling Bella. Bob, being a businessman, understands the delicate relationship he has with Mr. Lin. Bob knows his son well and when Gus gets that look in his eye, he has surely woke the beast. When Gus ‘gets the beast’, there will be blood.
Under normal circumstances Bob or Alice would offer to bring Gus into town to find a fresh one. But after all the driving they had just done, he was only in the mood for putting his feet up and watching a little ‘boob tube.’
“Hey Gussie, whatcha doin there?”
Gus didn’t turn, he just kept staring at Bella in her cage.
“Hey Daddy,” he said, his eyes fixated on the girl in the cage,“this one here, how old is she?”
“She’s about sixteen son, and you best stay away from her, she’s Mr. Lin’s now.”
Hearing his name Mr. Lin looked over at Gus, he knows about Gus and the things he likes to do to girls. Mr. Lin looked at Bob, in turn Bob gave him back a reassuring look. Bob knows how much Bella means to Mr. Lin and he will make sure she stays safe.
“Hey Gussie,” Bob said, trying to distract hi son, “why don’t you tell Mr. Lin here about that fine work you did on the new girl?”
Gus turned, mouth agape, turning to his father with a dead look in his eyes, “what was that Daddy?”
“I said, tell Mr. Lin that you did good by him, with your lessons and all.”
“You mean, how I took that girls leg while she was in a K-hole and how I cut her up all sweet like?”
“Exactly son, you tell him about that and I’ll go inside to see about getting that gas party set up for you.”
Once, Gus started telling Mr. Lin about what he did in the van, Bob knew he would have just a few minutes before Gus went after Bella.
Bob quickly walked up the porch steps to the ‘big door’, he entered the code then stepped inside. Right away, he heard some of the kids that were playing in the living room call out his name.
“Uncle Bob, Uncle Bob!”
“Not now kids, uncle Bob needs to take care of something real quick, then I’ll be back, I promise,” he stopped to look at them to give them reassurance that he was listening,”I brought some candy too, just give me a minute, alright.”
At the mere mention of candy, a chorus of mutant voice boxes cheered.
Bob walked past the prep kitchen down the hall to the main kitchen. He walked past a couple short stout women peeling potatoes, and into the main pantry. Inside the pantry there was wall of shelving. He undid a latch and moved the shelving that was on a pivot. Behind the shelf was an open space. Under dim light, he could see there was a young girl, maybe ten years old, inside a cage made of chicken wire. He recognized her right away, she had four legs below the waist, and even in the dim light he knew who it was.
Marcy was one of Bob’s favorite of all of Samuel’s kid’s. She looked up at Bob with a desperate look in her eye, “Uncle,” she said, “why’d they put me in here.”
Bob shook his head when he saw her. Last time he left, Marcy was a good girl, and now she’s in the pig cage. Bob knows that only the worst get thrown in the pig cage. When Bob and Alice are gone, Samuel will sometimes send a youngin’ to the pig cage. Bob has no say in what Samuel does.
“I didn’t mean to eat him uncle,” she said looking at him baring her teeth which were arranged in several jagged, uneven rows.
“I just got so fucking hungry,” she said, looking about frantically, “I just got,” she hiccuped, “I just got so fucking hungry!”
Bob will never get used to the sounds that come out of these children, especially after they turn. It never sounded natural to him. When Bob was a boy, he saw a ford pick-up crush his daddy while he was under it; Bob thought Marcy sounded more like his daddy dying than a little girl.
Bob then watched as the young girl pulled a leg to her mouth and started gnawing on it. Many of the children will turn when they hit age ten or eleven, and once that happens, they can never come back. Bob knew he needed to get Gus quick before the girl killed herself. She was getting worse.
Bob, moved the shelf back into place then walked back through the house and out the big door. He need to get Gus to let him know that they had one that they were feeding to the pigs. Gus could cut on her all he wanted. He could cut her a thousand different ways practicing all kinds of difficult surgeries. He could do that while taking as much gas as he wanted. This would be a good day for Gus and Bob couldn’t wait to tell his son how much fun he was about to have.
many more awful chapters to come – if you like this story, please let me know and I will make sure I update you when new chapters are posted – bjk