By: Alex Lape
There were very few words Adrian Tippen found to give meaning to his otherwise chaotic and volatile life - one of them being security. And security was exactly what Adrian found when he pretty much made a mad dash out of Riggsburg, New Hampshire as soon as the final bell of his senior year at Brutus H. Heddings High School rang out. As soon as he felt the ignition of ‘89 Camaro turn over, Adrien knew that Riggsburg and all the grievances he had with that godforsaken town would figuratively and literally be in his rearview mirror. He would no longer have to watch his piss drunk uncle come home to beat and abuse his aunt, a sight he didn’t understand until he was thirteen. His uncle had been resentful about the fact that he had to settle for being “married to the wrong sister who turned out barren, then having to raise the child of some bastard who had taken what he wanted and left.” Adrian figured the only thing that really saved him was the fact he had his mom’s eyes, those warm hazel eyes that had once soothed his uncle’s restless soul. But there was another reason Adrian had decided to leave the town. A reason that shook him to his very core. A reason that made him wonder if reality held horrors that dreams and fiction could merely hope to pale in comparison to. A reason Adrian had hoped he could hide in the deep recesses of his mind and live his life normally, a feat he found out he could only do for so long..
In the Summer of 2009, Adrian had started getting emails and calls from an old classmate named Tanya while he was somewhat enjoying his life as a journalist out of Saint Louis, Missouri. Tanya had become a fledgling fashion model who had recently got her big break in Las Vegas. For the following weeks, Tanya would try her best to convince Adrian to head out and visit Riggsburg with her. Adrian politely shrugged this off by saying that he had deadlines to meet, that he had to eventually interview a new rising mayoral candidate and he just couldn’t find the time. But Tanya would keep insisting that a trip back would be worth it for, only for Aiden to shoot her down with half-hearted excuses. Things only took a turn for the dark when Tanya had begun to taunt Adrian on whether or not he was still afraid of the Gering Farm Butcher legend that had circulated around town in the 90s when they were in high school.
In 1993, a news headline had come out that the police had found the bodies of various women from various age groups dismembered in a shed on the Gering Farm. The owner of the farm had passed away, leaving only his wife and their grandson “Whacky” Mack Gering to inherit their land. Maxwell “Whacky Mack” Gering was a senior at Brutus H. Hedding when Adrian was still in eighth grade. Mack was a shy kid with sudden outbursts of emotion that only came out when he was overwhelmed. And though Ma and Pa Gering gave him the most loving home environment they could, none of that would eventually shield him from the routine verbal and physical abuse the outside world slammed him with through the school system. Soon, Maxwell would begin to notice the opposite gender and soon painfully find out that he’d be afforded no fortune in that department, either. In his junior year, Maxwell had fallen in love with a cheerleader, girlfriend to a varsity linebacker with a promising shot to a college career. When the linebacker found out about his crush, Maxwell was cornered in a locker room, beaten severely, and ran out of the locker room and into the field where the cheer team was practicing. Among the cheerleaders was his crush, which the linebacker forced Mack to confess his crush to. Despite Mack looking to the object of his affection for sympathy and reprieve, the girl would simply join in on deriding him to the point where she would offensively question certain parts of his anatomy. Mack stumbled tearfully off of the field, vowing that “those sluts and whores would get what they deserved one day.” Oddly enough, the stories of the grisly murders the same year Pa Gering had passed. Adrian had been with the group of kids who discovered the slaughter site and alerted the media. It was a sight that Adrian could see everytime he closed his eyes for years to come. Ma Gering fought tooth and nail in court to show that her beloved Maxwell had been a victim of the justice system just as he had been a victim of his peers.
In a way, Adrian could identify with Maxwell as much as he reviled what he had allegedly done. Maxwell’s crush Vivian was the older cousin to Tanya, and both were daughters to Riggsburg high society. Tanya’s parents frequently scoffed at Adrian’s incomplete parentage, fearing that through their association Adrian would leave Tanya pregnant before abandoning her. But to be honest, Adrian never had romantic feelings for Tanya, or rather - he never pursued them. Adrian knew what the repercussions were if he tried. High society was high society, and with that came an image to preserve. With that also came a perfect excuse to try and mask Vivian’s brief adult film career. The only pearls around her neck had to be the ones that daddy buys, Adrian guessed. The linebacker had been kicked out of his campus university for public intoxication and property damage. Meanwhile Adrian did leave Tanya - but he left for a better life.
And now Tanya had offered him a window back, back into the distant nightmare he only recently felt he had woken up from. At least, until late November. Since their first “reunion” in the summer, Tanya had messaged him at least a few times in a week, at the most it’d be once a week if life was busy for both of them. When the latter half of October rolled in, Adrian had noticed the letters had stopped. At first, Adrian had felt a sharp pang inside of him. Was he feeling the loss of the opportunity of returning love? Was he jealous at the prospect of his old flame moving on? No, at least not as far as he was concerned. In fact, Adrian had been keeping up a torrid physical relationship with an editor after working hours. And yet, Adrian had begun to feel a deepening pit of dread permeating every fiber of his being. It was as if a limb had been amputated from him without him knowing it was even there. As if something on the fringes of his world had been deleted. A nagging feeling that began to morph into a form of paranoia that lingered with him throughout his daily life - at work, on the road, at home, and even on a creaky table with his favorite editor.
As November finished its first week, the nagging feeling consumed Adrian past the point where ignoring his investigative instinct was no longer an option. Adrian had begun a search into the Riggsburg newspaper database to find any articles or clippings to coincide with Tanya’s ceasing of letters. And for the record, there was a brief mention of Tanya being among the town’s notable returnees in a brief sidebar editorial. Another article that had caught Adrian’s attention was the report that an overcrowding of Riggsburg’s mental asylum had resulted in both escapees and early releases of certain inmates. And then came the article that reminded Adrian that his nightmare was real: an article of a new murder on the Gering Farm, complete with a picture of Tanya’s limbs, torso, and other parts scattered on the bar floor - and her head hanging on a meathook.