Contest #207 winner 🏆

130 comments

Horror Thriller Mystery

This story contains themes or mentions of physical violence, gore, or abuse.

To: Buck Tucker

From: Speed Fate Team 

Date: 19th July, 2023, 12:47

Subject: Your Speed Fate Input


Hi Buck! Thanks for taking part in the recent Speed Fate speed dating event and submitting your feedback! We hope you enjoyed the evening! Please find below a copy of the comments you left for each of your dates. You will receive feedback submitted about you in a separate mail. Should any of those you said “Yes!” to also say “Yes!” to you, we will forward each of you a copy of your contact information so you can get in touch.

The very best of luck and thanks for choosing Speed Fate!

The Speed Fate Team.


-----


Buck Tucker dated the following people, 18th July 2023, and left the following feedback.


Mandy Rogers, age 37, Self Help Guru: 

You said: Fun person! Quick smile, bubbly, the conversation flowed from the get-go. Love the curls. She had so much to say, and was passionate about her interests even if they were a bit airy-fairy. If there’s one thing I respect, it's passion about your subject of choice. Refreshing to meet someone as firm a believer in destiny as Mandy is. Could talk to her for hours about sliding doors and parallel universes. Would love to delve deeper into her thoughts on ‘escapable fate’. Great date!


Would you like to meet Mandy again? Yes!


Evelyn Pearce, age 35, School Teacher:

You said: Evelyn is a dark horse. Shy to start but relaxed as the date went on. I was nervous too because she’s very smart, I felt dumb by comparison. Very impressed by her career, she seems to be a great teacher, very professional. I get the impression she could be successful at anything she turns her hand to, even partnering with me! She has the voice of authority, it just needs to be strengthened. She could broaden my horizons on intellectual topics and I could teach her about life outside the classroom. Definitely see potential here.  


Would you like to meet Evelyn again? Yes!


Katarina Cruz, age 38, Physical Therapist: 

You said: Not much to say about Katarina except-wow. I didn’t know drop dead gorgeous was an actual thing but as soon as I left her table I felt part of me die. Or at least abandon ship so it could stay behind. Her eyes really drew me in. Could get lost in them for hours. Not to mention everything else. Her English isn’t great but that didn’t matter, her body language did the talking. Can tell she doesn’t take shit from anyone and with those muscles…you wouldn’t want to forget her birthday! Bit intimidating, but that’s a turn-on, so it’s a yes from me. 


Would you like to meet Katarina again? Yes!


Ashley Davenport, age 41, Office Admin:

You said: Ashley is a bit mousey, not my type physically but has an air of mystery about her which is attractive. Not sure why she was at the event, she was an ice queen and I had to work hard to make conversation. Wasn’t very successful. Didn’t find out much about her other than that she has cats and works in ‘admin’. I’m not a cat person, but I have a dog who hates cats, so he would probably chase them off if we got together! Pretty sure she just had her walls up. I have a feeling I could get her to loosen up. I am 100% sure it would be worth it. It would be nice to see her show some emotion. Challenge accepted.


Would you like to meet Ashley again? Yes! 


*****


To: Buck Tucker

From: Speed Fate Team 

Date: 19th July, 2023, 16:31

Subject: Your Speed Fate Feedback


Hi Buck! Thanks again for attending the recent Speed Fate speed dating event. We have now compiled the feedback we received from the people you met and have included it below. You will receive the contact information for anyone who said “Yes!” that you said “Yes!” to also in a separate mail.

The best of luck and thanks for choosing Speed Fate!

The Speed Fate Team.


-----


Mandy Rogers, age 37, Yoga Teacher: 

They said: Buck was a pleasure to talk with! Very open minded and I didn’t get the impression he was humouring me when I was rattling on about chakras and meditation, he seemed to be genuinely fascinated. Was interesting hearing his views on the afterlife and reincarnation. He carries a lot of nomadic energy and seems to be as much of a free spirit as I am, even if yoga and mindfulness aren’t his thing. Would definitely like to bounce more ideas off him. I promised him a tarot reading if we meet again so here’s hoping!


Would they like to meet you again? They said: Yes!


Evelyn Pearce, age 35, School Teacher:

They said: Buck is great! He’s a lot more adventurous than me, very extrovert, which is exciting. I need someone like that to get me out of my comfort zone! Raising two teenagers as a full-time single dad is not an easy task so I take my hat off to him. Also impressed by his role as a part-time scout leader, setting time aside to take kids camping and teach them about the great outdoors, that’s inspirational. Would definitely be interested in getting to know him better. Always a sucker for a good dad!


Would they like to meet you again? They said: Yes!


Katarina Cruz, age 38, Physical Therapist:

They said: Buck is interesting man. Similar interest in keep-fit. Training for marathon now, I think he has a lot of work to do but is good he has goal to work for. Perhaps he need some help training, little out of shape but I don’t have heart to say! Cute smile, kind eyes, love bearded man. Also interested in his musical career, must be nice to date with guitarist of up-coming rock band! I think I should like to see this!


Would they like to meet you again? They said: Yes!


Ashley Davenport, age 41, Office Admin:

They said: God loves a tryer. I gave him nothing but he kept on trucking. Bonus points for that. If I was him I would have given up in the first minute. Like everyone else. Five must have been torture. Really hate this shit, only did it cos my friends signed me up and I never would have heard the end of it. Whatever, promise I’ll make more of an effort next time. Not that he’s going to want to meet me again. He’d probably sooner throw himself under a bus.


Would they like to meet you again? They said: Yes!


*****


To: Buck Tucker

From: Fate Team 

Date: 20th July, 2023, 11:30

Subject: Your Speed Fate Contacts


Hi Buck! Please find attached contact information for your matches from the speed date event you attended on July 16th, 2023. 

We hope you had an enjoyable experience and have our fingers crossed one of your matches will be ‘the one’! We’ve had a number of success stories to date, some leading to marriage, and are always interested in hearing how things go! 

The best of luck and thanks for choosing Speed Fate!

The Speed Fate Team.


*****


Dressed in his least shabby suit, well-worn blue check shirt, newly bought navy tie and doused in the least repulsive knock-off Hugo Boss aftershave he could find, Tucker drew a well-practised smile onto his goatee-framed jaw and slid into the seat opposite his date, the redhead in the white dress, whose hair was tied back in a hastily knotted ponytail and whose name was displayed on the sticker attached to her chest. 

“Evelyn!” he announced, clasping his hands together and placing his elbows on the table. “So good to see you! I was delighted to hear you wanted to meet me again! I felt we had a good connection, even though we only talked for five minutes! How have you been? How are those schoolkids? Hope they’ve been listening to teacher?”

Across the white-clothed table top, past the bottle of champagne chilling in a stainless steel cooler, two sparkling champagne flutes and the candle protruding from a chrome holder, Evelyn met Tucker’s gaze and swallowed the lump of saliva that had stuck in her throat.

He hadn’t thought it possible for her to be more nervous than she’d been at the speed date, especially since they knew each other now, but there she was, eyes darting about, glancing at the people either side of them, beads of sweat visible on her brow.

It was going to be harder than he thought to get her to loosen up, he realised, but that didn’t matter. In a way, he found her nervousness endearing.

“They’re fine,” she said, her voice coming out a whisper, forcing her to clear her throat. “They’re good, they don’t give me trouble. I never have to reprimand anyone.”

“Really? There’s not a single troublemaker in the bunch? What age did you say they were?”

Tucker reached forward abruptly, suit sleeve riding up his arm, and closed his hand around the neck of the champagne bottle, causing Evelyn to jump, eyes darting to his unclean fingers. 

“F-fourteen,” she said, returning her eyes to his as he took the bottle from the cooler and started undoing the wire holding its cork in place. “And fifteen. No, honestly, nothing like that. I don’t… I’ve never had to punish anyone, if that’s what you mean?”

“I see,” Tucker said, narrowing his eyes as if to peer into her mind. “Bit boring, isn’t it? All that authority and there’s not a single obnoxious teenager for you to use it on? I find that hard to believe. As a former teenager in a school full of stuck up bitches and bullying brats, I find that extremely hard to believe. But hey, if that’s what you’re saying…”

POP! The cork shot from the bottle with explosive energy, making the nervous teacher jump again.

“...I’ll take your word for it. How about your colleagues? They all super-nice too? Come on, you can be honest. Bet there’s a couple of real shits, right? Get off on tormenting the kids? Probably a few pervs too. Pedo bastards? I know there were at my school. Oh, I know. Can think of at least three motherfuckers who deserved to have their dicks cut off.”

Sitting forward, extending his arm, pouring bubbly liquid into his date’s glass, he glared as she shook her head softly, almost imperceptibly, and sucked in her lips. He snorted, smiled, a shake of the head as he finished pouring and moved the bottle to his own glass.

“You don’t have to be so nervous, Evelyn. It’s just me and you, you can tell me anything. I’m very open minded. A man of the world. I know the way things work. I’m familiar with what goes on behind closed doors.”

In response to his comment about it being just him and her, her eyes had flicked to the left and right again, almost as if to remind herself there were people around them, though it shouldn’t have been necessary, considering how boisterous they were.

“Don’t worry about them,” Tucker said, depositing the champagne bottle back into the cooler with a clatter and crunch. “What we talk about is none of their business and vice versa. Let’s just focus on getting to know each other.”

He lifted his glass, took a sip, let the bubbles pop in his mouth and tickle his throat.

“Mmm. Effervescent.”

Evelyn watched him return the glass to the table with dampening eyes and quivering lip, bubbles spinning in the amber liquid in the untouched glass before her.

“So you’re not a mean teacher. And you have no asshole students. And everyone you work with is lovely. Okay. I get it. They’ve conditioned you well. Turning a blind eye is second nature. That’s okay. That can be fixed. You just have to open your eyes, see things for what they are. Identify the evil in people, acknowledge it, accept that it’s there to be destroyed. And do you know the best way to do that?”

He crossed his arms, lifted an eyebrow, cocked his head. 

“N…no,” she said, the first tear escaping an eye and running down a scratched, grime-covered cheek. “I don’t. Buck, you know, I think you got the wrong impression of me. I’m not a bad person. I treat people well, I don’t, I’m not, I…”

“The best way to do that,” he cut her off, craning his head closer to hers, his nose almost touching the trembling candle flame. “Is to find it in yourself and expose it. Draw it out into the light, like a putrid, rotting vampire, set it free and watch the havoc it wreaks. Once you know what your own darkness is capable of, you’ll be able to recognise it in others. And then you’ll be able to do something about it. Like me. It’s simple, really. So come on, let’s go on a journey of self discovery. Aren’t you drinking?”

“Please, Buck. I don’t think I’m what you’re looking for. I think we should …”

“Have you ever cheated on someone, Evelyn? Deliberately? Or ‘accidentally’, thinking it was okay because, you know, it wasn’t that serious and they weren’t ‘invested’.”

“No, I never…”

“Have you ever lied to someone, to let them down gently, or just because you wanted some attention, to be wined and dined, treated like a Princess to pass the time?”

“Buck, I want to stop, please.”

“Have you ever hit anyone, a sibling, a child? Have you ever lost your cool and lashed out blindly with a hand or a foot, hurt someone, out of anger or desire?”

“Please.”

“So you don’t use your authority to punish students, how about something else, have you seduced one? All those virile young teenagers, staring you up and down, have you ever taken advantage of it, tasted forbidden fruit? Or maybe not them, maybe one of their parents, maybe a bit of homewrecking sates an urge.”

“I don’t know why you’re doing this. I don’t know what kind of person you think I am, but I’m not…”

“Have you ever thought about killing someone, Evelyn? Pulling a cord tight around their neck and watching them choke, sticking a knife in their guts and twisting it, enjoying the warmth of the warm, sticky blood that…”

“Jesus, God, somebody help me, please somebody help me!”

She screamed. She stomped. She shook. 

She howled and yelled and roared, teardrops flew from her eyes but nobody helped.

“Oh, Evelyn,” said Tucker, after allowing her a moment. “I had a good feeling about you. I thought if I could get you to see the light and come around to my way of thinking, we’d have fun expelling assholes from the world. But it’s not going to happen, is it?”

She continued to scream, wrenching and twisting in the chair she was tied to, so he shrugged and took hold of the candle, slid it from its holder, revealed the blade that protruded from its base. The teacher’s eyes went wide and her voice cracked as he angled it towards her throat, leaned further forward and swiped left. 

A second mouth fell open in the smooth, pale skin of her throat and she gasped, gurgled, thrashing more urgently as a spine-chilling groan crept from her soul.

Tucker sat back and watched. 

No glee showed on his face. No excitement.

He watched blankly, the knife held loose, the thin layer of blood on its blade sprinkling scarlet splashes on the tablecloth. If there was an air about him at all as his second hope for a partner fizzled out, it was one of disappointment. 

He really would have liked her as a soulmate.

After a minute, when Evelyn stopped twitching, he checked to ensure his shirt and jacket hadn’t been soiled then slid the candle knife back into its holder. Licked his forefinger, extinguished the candle’s flame, pushed his chair back and got up. He took a napkin from the table, dabbed at his mouth as he stepped back, watching his scuffed loafers, careful not to step into the blood that had pooled beneath the chair behind him, the blood that had oozed from boring-not-mysterious Ashley. 

To his left, bound and gagged Katarina lunged her upper body towards him, impressive arm muscles bulging through the gossamer-thin material of the dress he’d clad her in, brown eyes glowering with hate, teeth gnashing behind the black rubber strap that subdued her mouth. The chair was bolted to the floor, her feet were chained to the chair, her movement was restricted.

He wasn’t ready for her yet. 

A fist to the face, she slumped, head lolling loosely over her chest.

To the right of the teacher, in the centre of a long abandoned warehouse, another dressed table, another pair of chairs and terrified captive, a puddle of urine, not blood, on the floor around her feet. 

Tucker fished a lighter from his pocket as he stepped around the corpse of bleeding Evelyn, lit the wick of the candle dagger protruding from chrome scabbard. Lighter back in pocket, he took hold of the rubber gag around the girl’s head, pulled it off, relishing the snap as it came loose.

“Please,” she said, all wild, rabbit eyes and mascara-smeared face. “Don’t hurt me. I’ll do anything. I promise. Anything.”

He drew a well-practised smile onto his goatee-framed jaw and slid into the seat opposite his date, the blonde in the ivory white dress, whose curls hung loose around her face and whose name was displayed on a sticker. 

“Mandy!” he announced, spreading his hands to greet her and bowing theatrically. “So good to see you! I was delighted to hear you wanted to meet me again...

“I believe you had some thoughts on escapable fate?”


July 22, 2023 00:06

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130 comments

Marc Rothstein
20:51 Sep 11, 2023

Extremely dark clever twist. Well done!

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Geir Westrul
16:00 Aug 26, 2023

Derrick, that was such a creepy twist, going from the epistolary maybe-rom-com premise of the speed dates to the serial killer tableau at the end. Gut punch! Bravo!

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16:53 Aug 28, 2023

Thank you Geir! Lovely to get a comment from you here I read your work regularly and it's always impressive and inspiring 😊

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Rae Toonery
10:33 Aug 26, 2023

Love a bit of sick humour - very well done. (thanks for the follow)

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10:52 Aug 26, 2023

Lol thanks. Yes enjoyed your nursing home romp too! Nothing like a bit of tongue in cheek darkness

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Michael Robinson
12:19 Aug 17, 2023

I liked this story. I kinda expected something sinister, but I wasn’t expecting this! At first, I thought it was an ordinary date until I read the line about the grimy face and had to go back and read it again. Well done!

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18:39 Aug 17, 2023

Thank you Michael! :)

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Amanda Lieser
04:19 Aug 16, 2023

Hi Derrick! Congratulations on the stunning win! Your use of speed dating was brilliant and I loved the way you built the suspense up. I was totally terrified during this story in the best possible way. I love that you chose to truly commit to this character’s perspective. Insanity is a fascinating thing to write with. Nice work!!

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09:57 Aug 16, 2023

Aw thanks Amanda! Lovely to get a comment like that from a long-term submitter here. :) Chuffed!

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Nathaniel Miller
00:54 Aug 09, 2023

Brilliant. Love how you played with structure here - speed dating comments in the beginning created a really nice exposition for all the characters. Also, I enjoyed the painfully slow reveal of Tucker’s true sociopathy. A really fun, dark read. I’m a fan. Thanks for sharing!

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16:53 Aug 28, 2023

Thanks Nathaniel!

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Martin Ross
20:00 Aug 07, 2023

Congratulations! Ingenuous dark tale, and I love the innovative setup! And Buck Tucker — love it!

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20:21 Aug 07, 2023

Yes! Thanks Martin! Probably the darkest thing I've ever written. There is a second part to the story, I will just have to wait for a suitable prompt to turn up so I can get it out there :)

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Shania Ottessor
22:46 Aug 06, 2023

Derrick, this was so captivating from the first word. The layout of the emails made it an easy read and the twist was so smooth and seamless. Brilliant.

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06:25 Aug 07, 2023

Thanks Shania. Glad it went down so well. I really wasn't sure when I submitted! Thought I might be run out of reedsy-town lol you just never know. Appreciate the comment!

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Evan Charles
18:45 Aug 05, 2023

This gives Joe Goldberg a run for his money. A very chilling story and a great read!

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21:55 Aug 05, 2023

Thanks Evan! Glad you liked!

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Karin Eriksson
23:48 Aug 03, 2023

I really enjoyed this. A creative and entertaining twist!

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20:22 Aug 07, 2023

Thanks so much Karen, glad you enjoyed!

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Sarah Saleem
07:49 Aug 02, 2023

The writing style is really cool, very different and very creative! I like the twist you have taken on speed dating and I loved Buck's calmness through it all.

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16:27 Aug 02, 2023

Thanks so much! Yes annoyingly calm psychopath acting like he's not doing anything wrong, just trying to find his psycho soulmate. Psycho Soulmate would also be a good name for a speed dating service possibly 😂

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Stevie Burges
07:03 Aug 01, 2023

Frightened me to death! I had checked the categories before reading the story so knew this wouldn't end well. Very slickly written. Congratulations on the win.

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20:25 Aug 07, 2023

Thanks Stevie. Hope you have recovered by now!! :)

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Stevie Burges
09:18 Aug 14, 2023

Only just. Story too clever by half!

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Sammy Xoxoxo
03:08 Aug 01, 2023

wowwwww.. this took me by surprise. loved it! congrats on the well deserved win!

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20:25 Aug 07, 2023

Thank you Sammy! :)

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Hala Giles
20:17 Jul 31, 2023

Congrats on the win! Loved the set up with the speed dating emails and dinner ambience. As a reader I felt comfortable knowing that she was safe in the company of others but you completely span that around. Yup - enjoyed that.

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20:26 Aug 07, 2023

Thanks Hala! Yes I was hoping to blindside people with the setup so glad to hear it worked :)

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Anna W
17:39 Jul 31, 2023

Wow, what a great story, Derrick! I loved how it transitioned from innocent to deadly, and the tension that built up along the way. Wonderfully executed, no pun intended :)

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18:29 Jul 31, 2023

Thanks Anna! Glad it worked out the way I wanted it to. And. ...pun away! I love a good pun!! 😂

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Story Time
17:28 Jul 31, 2023

Congratulations on your win, Derrick. I thought the concept for the piece really helped elevate it to something special. Well done.

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18:32 Jul 31, 2023

Thank you Kevin! Glad it worked! 😊

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Chris Miller
12:52 Jul 30, 2023

Very good, Derrick. Congratulations on the well deserved win.

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13:05 Jul 30, 2023

Cheers Chris! I am in good company in the winners circle 😊

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J. S. Bailey
03:19 Jul 30, 2023

Already been mentioned a lot but starting the story with the dating app emails was a great choice. Paints a picture of these characters and gives the story a light-hearted tone...then the tone shifts. I was aware of the horror tag but never guessed where this was going. Brilliant execution and well done on the win. Loved it!

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08:03 Jul 30, 2023

Thanks JS! Yes took a bit of a gamble on the email idea but it worked out well. Seems to have caught quite a few people off guard!

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Sjan Evardsson
00:05 Jul 30, 2023

Well deserved win. Kudos!

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08:03 Jul 30, 2023

Thanks Sjan!

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Chuck Sears
20:48 Jul 29, 2023

That was one heckuva twist at the end. Well disguised!!!

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21:47 Jul 29, 2023

Thank you Chuck!.

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