TAYLOR MACKENZIE AND THE WRATH OF LADY ALICE
This is an original story. All characters are created by me.
All characters depicted, names used, and incidents portrayed in this story are fictitious. No identification with actual persons is intended nor should be inferred. Any resemblance of the characters portrayed to actual persons, living or dead is purely coincidental.
The registered trademarks mentioned in this story are © of their respective owners. No infringement of their rights is intended, and no profit is gained.
There is quite a lot of profanity in this story. Readers who are easily offended by vulgar language may wish to find something else to read.
There is a fair amount of violence in this story, including a scene where a woman is the victim of physical violence. Readers who are disturbed by or sensitive to this type of depiction may wish to skip this one.
NOTES FROM THE AUTHOR:
Written: October 4th - 6th 2012 for the Royal Academy of Bards 2012 Halloween Invitational.
As usual, I'd like to say a great, big THANK YOU to my mates at AUSXIP Talking Xena, especially to the gals and guys in Subtext Central. I really appreciate your support - Thanks, everybody! :D
Description: A graveyard isn't the safest place to be on Halloween… especially not for a sensitive teenager who's hanging with the wrong crowd. Taylor Mackenzie's fragile young mind is about to be sorely tested by a series of events that will unfold on this fateful evening, the night of the ghouls…
TAYLOR MACKENZIE AND THE WRATH OF LADY ALICE.
A quarter to midnight on October Thirty-First, the graveyard on Forsythe Road on the outskirts of Redmond was dark, quiet and very foreboding. A faint north-westerly breeze that rustled the bare trees and blew the fallen, dead leaves around the graves and headstones was the only sign of life.
A few moments later, the quiet was shattered by distant yells and laughter, and the sort of crass, vulgar language so typical of a group of late teens from the wrong side of town.
As the group of five teenagers - three young men and two women - walked along the deserted suburban road, they passed through the cone of light from the only fully working street lamp in the entire neighborhood. All five were dressed in hip street clothes; sneakers with loose shoelaces, baggy cargo pants in various camouflage-patterns, and hoodies advertising well-known brands of sports equipment.
On their way past the old metal gate that led to the graveyard, Robby Norton, the natural leader of the group because of his nineteen years and six-foot-two frame, put a half-empty bottle of vodka to his lips and took a healthy swig before passing it onto his heavily made-up girlfriend of the week, Jessie Martin - neither bothered to take a second look at the ornamental gate from the mid-nineteenth century they were going past.
"Yo, Robby, take a look at this, bro…" Nicholas Walters, the self-proclaimed number two of their little gang said, pointing at the gate. "Yo, Robby! We can siddown in there, bro… they've got benches and shit."
"Yeah?" Robby said and stopped walking. When Jessie didn't, he wrapped his arm around her shoulder and pulled the seventeen-year old brunette to a stop.
Nicholas wiped his nose with the back of his hand and nodded hard, making his hoodie bop up and down. "Yeah, bro… check it out. A graveyard for Halloween, bro, it's feckin' perfect."
From her position at the back of the group, Taylor Mackenzie, the youngest at a tender fifteen who - despite her mother's protestations - was trying very hard to fit in with the rowdy bunch, pried the hand of her drunk admirer, Jake Azzorpardi, off her chest and stepped up to the metal gate. "It's closed," she said, giving it a good shake.
Robby came back to the gate and began to size it up. "We're the Gangsta Krew, nothing is closed for us," he said and gave the lock an almighty kick. The first impact made the old, rusty hinges creak and groan, but the gate stayed in place. "What the feck? Piece of feckin' shit… I'll feckin' show it who's the boss around here," he continued and really put weight behind his next attempt.
"Wait, Robby! It's a graveyard… you can't just kick-" Taylor said and tried to grab Robby's sleeve, but her words had no effect on the determined leader.
The next kick was successful, sending the gate crashing open and nearly falling off the old hinges.
"Awright, bro! You da boss and we da Gangstas!" Nicholas shouted, reaching for the bottle of vodka. When Robby wouldn't let him take it, Nicholas' hands quickly fell down his sides.
Turning around, Robby took a large swig of said bottle, creating two small rivers of vodka that ran down his cheeks until he wiped them off with the sleeve of his hoodie. "Yeah!" he shouted. "Time to par-tay!"
Taylor grimaced and rubbed her chin, not feeling particularly ecstatic over the prospects of partying on somebody's grave.
The others members of the small group had fewer inhibitions and hurried through the opened gate with Robby and Jessie taking the point. In the excitement, Jessie attached her lips to his, and they were soon necking so hard it looked like she was devouring his face.
A few minutes later, the noisy, unruly group of teens arrived at a small, paved recreational area in the center of the graveyard where the park authorities had put up a stone bench, a mesh waste disposal bin and a winter-proof faucet where the visitors could get water when they wanted to tend to the graves.
High above the stone bench, a single street lamp had been erected to keep the area well-lit during the evening hours, but like so many other things in the slightly run-down part of Redmond, it had been neglected to the point of only working in an on-off pattern.
The stroboscopic effect created by the blinking lamp sent Nicholas into a wild state, and he jumped up onto the stone bench and tried to perform a zombie-like shuffle. "Whaaa! Look at me, bro! Look at me, I'm a feckin' zombie!" he shouted, trying his best to shuffle around on the flat slab of stone.
The others duly laughed at his antics, except Taylor who was so creeped out by the foreboding location that she - of her own free will, for once - clung onto Jake who didn't seem to mind the attention.
"Zombie! Yaaaaaah!" Nicholas yelled, nearly falling off the top of the bench as he made a pirouette at one of the corners.
Chuckling, Robby reached down and gave Jessie's buttocks a good squeeze. "Baby, before that fat putz falls down and breaks his neck, why don'tcha go up there and show him what a zombie shuffle really looks like… huh?"
"Okay, Robby. I got a better idea… join me," Jessie said, grabbed Robby by the front of his pants and dragged him behind her.
Climbing up onto the slab of stone, Jessie pushed Nicholas down off it and began to perform a highly provocative routine that was closer to a lap dance than a zombie shuffle. Robby quickly followed her up on the table to experience the full effect of the wiggling teenager, grinning like a Cheshire cat through the whole act.
Taylor felt her cheeks burn at the vulgar show and looked away, glancing out over the deserted graveyard. The graves weren't well-kept anymore, but she remembered her mother telling her that from its consecration at the turn of the last century, it had been one of the biggest graveyards in the county. The deceased had been laid to rest from a fairly simple chapel, but it had burned down in a thunderstorm in 1999. After that, the city council had decided to stop using the graveyard, but kept it in fairly good condition.
As Taylor let her eyes roam across the headstones, she couldn't help but shiver at the thought of being so close to so many dead people - unfortunately, Jake misinterpreted her shiver and began to grope her chest again.
"Gettin' inspired by the dance, huh? Wanna neck?" he said, but his booze-laced breath in her face made her turn away rapidly and elbow him in the ribs. "Owch! Whaddafeck you do that for?" he continued, nursing his side.
"You stink, man!" Taylor sneered, shying away from her drunk admirer.
"Whaddafeck'a you know? Stupid little…"
"Get fecked, sonny boy!" Taylor said, throwing him a gesture that simply could not be misinterpreted.
Up on the table, Robby shot the two of them - mostly Jake - a dirty look before going back to enjoying his girlfriend's dance.
Nicholas was quick to take advantage of the situation and moved back to wrap an arm around Taylor's slender shoulders. "Hey, hey, hey… I'm always ready and willin' if ya lookin' for a new stud, babe."
"Yeah?" Taylor said, snuggling up to the overweight Nicholas to spite Jake.
"I'll think about it."
"You do that… hey, bro! I got myself a new girlfriend, bro!" Nicholas said, thumping his chest.
Rolling his eyes, Robby removed his hands from Jessie's hard-dancing rear end and jumped off the stone bench. "Yeah, right… is she your first?"
"Uh… naw, bro…" Nicholas said in a voice that tried to be cocksure, but a slight tremble betrayed him - as did the blush that crept up his cheeks.
Robby leaned his head back and emptied the bottle of vodka in a single gulp. "Come on, Gangstas! Let's have some fun! Wooooooooo!" he shouted and threw the empty bottle into the darkness where it promptly shattered against a headstone. "Let's go feckin' mental!"
Mental was the only word that could describe the vandalism that followed. Not wanting to be part of it, Taylor stood in wide-eyed shock and witnessed her fellow Gangstas kick down headstones and the bushes surrounding the graves, tear up the sparse vegetation lining the aisles and even throw around the very few flowerpots and bouquets that had been put on some of the most recent graves.
All Taylor could do was to cover her mouth with her hands as she felt her heart hammering away in her chest at the awful sight. Deep down inside, she felt like a creep for not doing anything to stop the vandalism, but at the same time, she doubted that she could have made her so-called friends stop no matter what she would have said or done - save for calling the police. However, that wasn't even an option as her mother had taken away her phone for a week as a punishment for running with the wrong crowd.
Once the worst of the berserker rage had left Robby and his cronies, he dug into his hoodie and grabbed a spray can that he proceeded to shake thoroughly. "We're gonna give 'em a little fix-up!" he shouted. "Yeah, man… a feckin' fix-me-up in red, man!"
The first several headstones he came across were simply smeared with red doodles, but when he found a larger headstone that Nicholas had kicked over, he got down on his knees and gave the can a strong shake to make it work longer. "Suck… my… dick…!" he said out loud as he sprayed the words onto a dark headstone that was in remarkably good shape despite being situated in one of the oldest parts of the graveyard.
Beautiful, golden letters meticulously carved into the stone proclaimed that this was the final resting place of Lady Alice Cunningham née Seymour, 1904-1936, but Robby didn't care - the red paint went everywhere, covering every letter.
As he sprayed the final K in 'dick', the can ran dry and he simply chucked it over his shoulder. Leaning back on his thighs, he observed his work of art. Finding it to his liking, he nodded and let out a jubilant whoop as he jumped to his feet.
Taylor took a few staggering steps down the aisle with the vandalized headstones. While Robby and Jessie did their worst to gnaw their faces off behind her in a vodka- and rage induced rush, Taylor looked at the ruined golden letters and felt so bad that tears began to sting her eyes.
Knowing that her friends would bully her mercilessly if they caught her crying, she sniffed angrily and assumed a tough, detached pose. Suddenly, as she looked at the name on the headstone - lit up by the infrequent blinking of the street lamp at the recreational area - a thought she couldn't quite connect to anything flashed through her mind.
'Lady Alice Cunningham… why do I know that name…?' she thought, scrunching up her face in deep thought. 'There's something about that name… something Mom has told me… but what…? God, she was only thirty-two when she died… brrrr. Creepy.'
"Yo, Taylor, you coming or what?" Nicholas said from a million miles away.
"It's midnight, babe. Listen," the portly Gangsta said and pushed back his hood so he could put his hand behind his ear in a cartoon-like pose.
Taylor pushed her own hood down - revealing her spiky, honey-blonde hairdo that had caused her no end of grief with her mother - and listened to the distant church bells heralding the arrival of the witching hour. A shiver ran down her spine and she hurriedly put her hood back up, hoping that the thin fabric would be adequate protection from the ghouls and ghosts that were bound to come out now.
"You feckin' coming or what, Taylor?" Nicholas said, once again dragging Taylor away from her own little world.
"Yeah, yeah, I'm coming," Taylor said and shoved her hands into the pockets of her hoodie. "For what, anyway?"
"For what… feck, for the jimmies, babe! Jesus, the feckin' kids today!" Nicholas said and began to shuffle back to the stone bench where the others had already assembled.
"Oh… b- but I don't smoke…"
"You wanna belong to da Gangsta Krew, don'tcha? Gangstas smoke jimmies. Take it or leave us, babe. Don't mean feck to me," Nicholas said and upped the tempo to get back to the others before they could snatch all the best marijuana cigarettes.
Taylor gulped audibly and briefly slowed down, but her need to be accepted by the group was stronger than her fears, and she continued on.
Fifteen minutes later, all the Gangstas were sitting around the stone bench smoking jimmies. Robby - already on his second cigarette - was playing with his Zippo, constantly flicking it open and shut.
When he got bored with that, he casually reached over to ignite a rectangular flower decoration lying next to them on the bench that Jessie had taken from one of the graves - within seconds, the bone dry flowers were burning merrily.
"Oh man, that's creepy," Jessie said around a deep whiff of her cigarette.
"What is?" Robby said.
"Look at that…" she said and pointed at the burning decoration. "It says, I'll Love You Forever… and we're burning it…"
Robby took another whiff of his own cigarette and broke out in a weird snicker. "Burning hot love… that's what I got for ya right now, baby. Wanna see it?"
"Yeah," Jessie said in a matching snicker.
"You really wanna see it?"
Robby snickered even more weirdly and began to unbuckle his cargo pants.
Sitting at the other side of the bench next to the snickering Jessie, Taylor didn't want to see anything of what Robby had to offer so she hurriedly closed her eyes. She had barely touched her jimmy, but the weed was so strong and the air so thick with smoke it had already begun to play tricks with her inexperienced mind.
Even with her eyes closed, she was able to see the graveyard as clear as day, sensing all kinds of weird colors float in and out of reality. Large purple drapes fell on all the Gangstas, enshrouding them in grotesque, colorful shadows. The voices of the others became slower and more distant, alternately rising and falling in pitch, and ultimately ceasing altogether.
When she realized she couldn't hear the others speak anymore, Taylor opened her eyes and looked around, only seeing odd, discolored patches of light where the other Gangstas should have been.
Her jumbled mind began to struggle against the intoxicating smoke, working at fever pitch to tell her that she needed to get out of there at once while she still could. Struggling to her feet, she took a step backwards but promptly fell over the bench she had been sitting on.
A strange, rolling sound reached her ears and she realized it was her so-called friends mocking her. Feeling her gut burn from the intense smoke and the even more intense guilt, she climbed to her feet and staggered off into the graveyard itself to get away from everything.
Twenty paces on, she fell again, ending up on her hands and knees at one of the graves. Her mind was going at a million miles an hour to compute all the illogical, psychedelic things she was imagining, but she felt reality slowly slipping away from her, and that frightened her so badly that she couldn't stop a stream of tears from running down her cheeks.
Crawling like a toddler, she moved ahead until she could feel cool, moist soil under her palms instead of the coarse crushed stones in the aisle. She tried to look up, but couldn't focus at all - though she sensed more than registered that the grave she had found was the one with the red graffiti; Lady Alice's final resting place.
Through sheer willpower, she managed to turn herself around and sat down with a bump on the outside of the grave. Feeling helpless and alone, she looked up at the blurry, purple sky and cried out for help in a voice so weak it didn't even carry back to the stone bench.
The thought had barely left her foggy mind before the soil on the grave began to shift right in front of her. At first, she just stared at it, thinking that it was another hallucination, but then a pale hand became visible through the top soil.
The pale hand was quickly followed by an equally pale arm that slowly dug its way out of its clammy prison, but the head that eventually became visible was anything but pale - it clearly belonged to a woman who had a full head of pitch black hair.
By now, Taylor was staring at the horrible scene with eyes as wide as saucers, but she was still too influenced by the effects of her laced cigarette to truly comprehend what was going on.
Her limbs were so heavy she couldn't move an inch, she had trouble breathing properly and her heart was hammering away in her throat as she witnessed the darkly clad creature stretch up and show itself fully.
The creature in the grave sensed Taylor's presence and turned around to look at her through a pair of bottomless, cobalt blue eyes that flickered like they were made of hellfire. Using very little effort, the creature pulled itself out of the grave and crouched down on top of it like a big spider with its two long legs suspended on either side of the small pile of soil it had pushed aside.
"Taylor," the she-creature said in a raspy - yet crystal clear - voice that echoed in and out of Taylor's mind. "You shouldn't have desecrated my sacred home."
"I d- didn't! Th- that was Robby! Wh- who… what are you?" Taylor croaked in a tiny voice.
"La- Lady…? I re- remember you!" Taylor croaked. "Mo- Mom told me about you… fr- from the lib- library! She to- told me you we- were a…"
"A sorceress, yes," the creature said in Taylor's mind. "The narrow-minded people back then thought a stake through my heart would kill my spirit as well as my body… it did neither. I have merely been sleeping. Until now," the dark Lady continued, looking at her ruined headstone.
Taylor tried to get up but found that in her weakened state, gravity was still too tough an opponent so she bumped back down with a groan. "It wasn't me…" she said quietly.
"Will you show me who it was?" Lady Alice said and creased her lips into something approaching a demonic grin - however, all it did was to give Taylor a bad case of the shivers. "These bad people you mingle with… are they friends of yours?"
"Fr- friends? They're… they're not my friends… only Jessie," Taylor said darkly, running her filthy hands across her face that felt as rubbery as a basketball.
"In that case, you wouldn't mind if we played a little with them, would you?" the strange creature said and rose to her full height.
"P- played with them? Wh- what do you mean?" Taylor said. From her position near the ground, the creature seemed to be seven foot tall and she had to lean her head back to take in the entire devilish apparition.
"Make them suffer," Lady Alice said with such icy detachment that Taylor's heart nearly stopped beating.
"I don't want them to suffer… I'm not a bad person…" Taylor said in a tiny voice, leaning forward to clutch her throbbing head in her hands. "I'm just trying to fit in… but they always treat me so bad… except Jessie… she really is my friend…"
At first, the creature cocked its head, but ultimately shrugged and slid silently off the grave.
Moving like a shadow, Lady Alice slid over to the next grave and knelt down in front of it. After putting her hand on the damp soil, she took a gliding step back and waited for the first of her companions to arrive - she didn't have to wait long.
A few moments later the soil began to shift, and before long, a vaguely humanoid - yet undeniably demonic - figure had finished digging its way out of the grave. Standing at six-foot-three, the gray-white, hairless demon had a human-like body but a face that was anything but. It had two large eyes and a nose, but instead of a normal mouth, the beast had two fully exposed rows of shark-like teeth.
Its first thought was to show its undying obedience by kneeling in front of the dark Sorceress.
"Rise, my old friend," Lady Alice said, putting her hand on the other creature's bald head and caressing it tenderly.
As the toothy beast got on its feet, the dark Sorceress ran her fingers down its cheek. "Wait here until I summon our old companions."
Grunting, the creature nodded and stepped back into the shadows.
Taylor had been watching the demonic proceedings with wide, frightened eyes, but as the gray-white beast stepped back and the dark Sorceress moved over to the next grave, an unnatural calm fell over her and she simply settled down to observe the otherworldly scenes with a strange curiosity that surprised even herself.
Three minutes later, two further demons had joined the dark Sorceress and the toothy beast - the first was a faintly red humanoid with piercing yellow eyes, and the other was a shorter and far skinnier creature that moved slower and that didn't seem to be as mutated as his fellow demons, save for a pair of unusually large hands.
At first, Taylor couldn't understand what the skinny demon could do compared to the others, but when it opened its mouth and let out a stream of insane, high-pitched giggles, goosebumps broke out all over her young body.
Stepping behind her companions, Lady Alice raised her arms in the air, straining the coarse, dark robe she was wearing to breaking point. "Denizens of Hell!" she said in a raspy voice that echoed through Taylor's mind. "The time for retribution has come! They have defiled our homes… we shall defile them. Onwards, my brethren! And spare no living soul!"
With that command, the three demons jumped into action, headed straight for the group of unsuspecting Gangstas who were still sitting at the stone bench, smoking their jimmies.
On its way there, the red demon briefly turned towards Taylor, but a raised hand by Lady Alice made it change its mind. Grunting, it carried on towards the bench.
Taylor felt sick to her stomach - even in her foggy state, she knew exactly what was about to happen. As the red demon had eyed her, she had forced herself backwards into the low vegetation that separated the graves, but now she climbed back out and staggered to her feet, supporting herself by holding onto the vandalized headstone.
She tried to rub her face again, but the odd, rubbery feeling persisted. All around her, garish colors, shrill sounds and the demonic creatures came together in a nightmarish cocktail that scared her witless - and yet she had somehow known deep in her heart that the dark Sorceress would intervene before the red demon could do anything to her.
Lady Alice slid silently back to Taylor and put a cold, pale hand on the young girl's shoulder. "You should watch. It'll be the last time you'll see them," the Sorceress said in a raspy hiss.
"No! Jessie is my friend! Please spare her!" Taylor howled and tried to shake her head, but the movement worsened her condition and she nearly keeled over from the strain. Sobbing, she let go of the headstone and slipped to her knees.
"Mmmm," Lady Alice said and turned her attention back to the stone bench and her fellow demons. With a faint nod of her dark head, she set the inevitable events in motion.
At the table, Nicholas stubbed out the last remains of his second marijuana cigarette and looked around at his fellow Gangstas. The jimmies had been far stronger than usual, and even the experienced user was heavily affected by the laced weed.
Suddenly feeling a pair of hands around his portly waist, he thought that Jessie was finally going to reward him for being such a studly Gangsta, but when he looked to his right, he saw her slumped over with her head resting on her arms. "What the…?" he slurred and tried to get up, but discovered that something was pinning him to the bench.
Looking down, he spotted a pair of scaly gray-white hands. The information had a hard time getting through to his fuzzy brain, but he finally realized that he was in trouble.
At the other side of the stone bench, Robby stared at the bald, toothy demon that was standing directly behind Nicholas, seemingly poised to inflict pain on the chubby Gangsta. Not believing his eyes, Robby did the only thing he could in that situation - he pointed at the demon and began to laugh; an insane, drug-induced cackle that grew in intensity until it became so violent he could hardly breathe.
The laughing tore Jessie from her slumber and made her jerk upright. Looking around in a daze, she stared wide-eyed at the three demons that had surrounded them. She opened her mouth to scream, but the only sounds she was able to produce were grotesque gurgles.
Then everything happened at once. The pandemonium sent the toothy demon into a frenzy and it opened its mouth fully to wrap its two rows of teeth around Nicholas' skull. With a gruesome crunch, it bit the back part of his head clean off, sending a cascade of blood and brain matter all over the stone bench and the people sitting there.
That pushed Jessie over the edge and she clutched her head and began to scream, shrieking so fiercely that the toothy beast grunted and shied back from her in surprise.
Seeing his friend fall forward with only half a head made Robby scramble to his feet and try to get away - still cackling like a maniac - but he bumped into the skinny demon before he had made even a single step. Robby's insane laughing was matched to the note by the demon that calmly reached up and put its large hands on the sides of his face.
For a few moments, a hysterical cackling match of insane proportions was fought between Robby and the odd creature - but in the end, the skinny demon won comprehensively when it crushed Robby's head between its hands as effortlessly as squashing an overripe melon.
Jessie and Jake knew they had to escape before they'd meet a similar fate to their friends, so they scrambled from the stone bench and took off in a frantic run.
The toothy demon was too slow to follow them, but the red creature and the giggling beast did their best to keep up with the madly rushing teens as they sprinted across the graveyard, shrieking at the top of their lungs.
"God, no…" Taylor croaked, once again trying to get on her feet. "They didn't deserve to die…! Wh- why did you kill them?"
Lady Alice cocked her head and shot Taylor a puzzled look. "You ask why? What a strange question. They were bad people. Look at what they did to my headstone. They desecrated my home, Taylor. I cannot let that go unpunished."
"W- will you kill me too?"
Grunting, the dark Sorceress put a cold hand under Taylor's armpit and helped her up. "Why should we kill you? You told me you didn't do it. Did you lie to me?"
"N- no… but Jessie didn't do it either! I know her m- mom, and… and… it would… c- could you at least spare her…? Please?"
"Why?" Lady Alice said coldly, looking away from the young, sobbing girl and out over the dark, foreboding graveyard where her demonic companions had managed to drive the last two Gangstas into a corner.
"She's my friend! Please…!" Taylor said, trying to stand on her own.
The only reply she got from the dark Sorceress was a brief wave of the hand that made the chasing demons stop and look back at her. "Hmmm. Come," Lady Alice said, suddenly dragging Taylor with her.
The two mismatched figures quickly crossed the graveyard from the vandalized headstone to the small cul-de-sac where Jessie and Jake had been trapped, with Taylor stumbling along the gravelly aisles and Lady Alice seemingly gliding above them.
All three remaining Gangstas looked like they were ready to fall apart; their faces drawn, pale and haggard from the horrors they had lived through and the aftereffects of the laced cigarettes. When Jessie saw that Taylor was alive, she let out a heartfelt sob and tried to reach her, but the red demon intercepted her before she could make contact.
Again, Lady Alice waved a hand slightly, silently telling the demon to withdraw.
Once Jessie was free, she stormed forward, wrapped her arms around Taylor and began to sob inconsolably, mumbling nonsensical words through her hoarse crying and appearing much younger than her seventeen years.
Taylor didn't know what to do so she just began to rub her hands up and down Jessie's back and returned the nonsensical whisper, looking at the dark Sorceress who was watching them with an unreadable, icy expression on her face.
After a short while, Lady Alice's lips creased in a brief smile and she reached up to point at the crying Jessie. "Is she the one you wanted me to spare?"
"Y- yes!" Taylor croaked.
"Mmmm. And him?" Alice continued, turning around to point at Jake who was still so drunk from the alcohol he had consumed prior to smoking his jimmy that he didn't know what was up or down.
"I… I d-… I don't care," Taylor whispered, closing her eyes as she kept her firm grip on Jessie's back.
"Mmmm," Lady Alice said again, waving her hand.
A split second later, the red demon jumped forward and attacked Jake, forcing him backwards into the tall hedge that surrounded the cul-de-sac. With an earsplitting howl, it set itself alight.
The red, demonic fire quickly transferred to Jake's clothes and his body, and soon, he was burning like a candle, flailing his arms madly as he tried to douse the flames.
Jake's unrestrained screaming made Taylor open her eyes wide and stare at the cruel, gruesome scene. Shying back, she and Jessie tried to use their friend's shocking death to slip away, but Lady Alice was too quick for them and grabbed hold of Jessie's hoodie.
"Halt. I have not yet decided on her fate!" the dark Sorceress growled in her raspy voice.
Taylor broke out into an angry sob and tried to yank Jessie back towards her, but the she-demon was far too strong. "You promised!" she cried angrily. "You promised you would spare her!"
"I did? You are mistaken," Lady Alice said and grabbed Jessie around the neck, causing the teen to cry out in pain and reach for Taylor with wide, frightened eyes. "You are gravely mistaken," Alice continued and started to twist her wrist.
Crying out in terror, Taylor grabbed Jessie's hands and arms to pull her out of the demon's grip, but before she had time to try anything, Jessie's vertebrae snapped with an audible crunch. As her head lolled grotesquely to the side, her hands became limp and fell from Taylor's grasp.
"No! No! No!" Taylor screamed, but it was already too late for her friend.
Lady Alice let go of the dead teenager and watched with interest as the body slumped to the ground and landed in a boneless heap. "She will never desecrate anyone's home again…" she said with an evil smirk.
"You m- you monster! You promised…!" Taylor cried, clutching her head.
"Girl!" Lady Alice barked, clenching her fists to bring forward her three demonic companions. "You shouldn't call others what you are yourself. You had the choice to save your other friend, but you let him burn. What are you, little girl? We. Are. Alike."
"No!" Taylor screamed and spun around to run away, but the toothy demon had snuck up behind her and quickly slammed its hands down on her shoulders to pin her down.
The dark Sorceress came up to stand very close to Taylor and began to caress her cheek with her pale fingers. "Mmmm, yes we are. I came because I recognized a kindred spirit. You. You killed your friends. We were merely your subjects, carrying out your bidding."
"No… no…! NO!" Taylor screamed and began to struggle to get away from the pack of demons.
When her struggling proved futile, she let out a pained moan and tried a different approach - by twisting and wiggling, she was finally able to break free of the toothy demon's grip.
As soon as she was free, she set off running back towards the place where it had all started, the vandalized headstone. With her young brain short-circuiting from all the terrors she had witnessed, she threw herself onto the moist soil and began to rub her hands on the red paint, hoping that if she could remove the graffiti and bring the luster back to the dark headstone, the demonic creatures would disappear and her friends would return to life.
Unfortunately, all she succeeded in doing was to get her hands filthy and bloodied. Soon, her blood was smeared all over the headstone, adding a diabolical, crimson sheen to the golden letters. When she noticed, she started sobbing but didn't still her frantic movements - instead, she went at it twice as hard.
The dark Sorceress slid silently up to stand at her own grave. Observing Taylor's frantic rubbing, she cocked her head and allowed a brief smile to crease her dead lips. "I always reward those who show me respect by offering their blood. Come, Sister. Come home with me… you'll fit right in," she said as she reached out towards Taylor with a cold, pale hand.
Suddenly jerking upright, Taylor looked around the deserted graveyard with eyes as wide as saucers. Everything was deathly quiet, save for a distant police siren and a church bell that struck one a.m. Coughing, she looked towards the starry sky and was relieved to find it black instead of purple. Her throat was so raw that she had trouble breathing, and the coughs that came as she staggered to her feet were very painful.
The headstone she had been leaning against was dedicated to 'Lady Alice Cunningham née Seymour, 1904-1936' and the red graffiti that Robby had smeared on it was still there, but there was no sign of her blood.
Her hands were sore, but when she checked them for cuts, she only found little pebbles from the aisle and cakes of dark, moist soil. After cleaning her hands on her pants, she began to rub her arms, freezing to the core from the low temperatures and the horrible images she had seen in the bad trip.
Sighing deeply in relief over the fact that it had all been a drug-induced nightmare, she began to move away from the grave and staggered across the gravelly aisle to get back to her fellow Gangstas at the stone bench; her sneakers leaving indents in the loose, crunchy gravel.
When she realized that her friends had left her all alone in the scary graveyard, she let out a groan and scrunched up her face in disappointment. 'Feck… they didn't give a shit about me… I coulda frozen to death back there. A-holes,' she thought, rubbing her arms to combat the chill that was sneaking up on her. "I don't want nothing to do with them… buncha feckin' A-holes!" she mumbled as she turned around to get back to the metal gate at the entrance to the graveyard.
Taking a step back, she noticed two deep furrows in the gravel that went the opposite way of where she had just come from - back to the graves - but she didn't think much of it and calmly stepped over them.
Once Taylor had moved through the gate that had fallen off its top hinge after Robby had kicked it open, she turned left onto the deserted street and began to stagger home, thankful that her bad trip hadn't lasted longer. 'Mom's gonna scream at me anyway… God… if she had seen me tripping… she woulda killed me… she woulda killed me stone dead…'
At five past one on November First, the graveyard on Forsythe Road was once again dark, quiet and very foreboding, with the only signs of life being a faint north-westerly breeze that rustled the bare trees and blew the fallen, dead leaves around the graves and headstones - and the rhythmic plop, plop, plop of the drops of blood and brain matter that dripped off the edges of the stone bench…
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