TW: violence, murder, blood
The harder Jill scrubbed, the more the crimson stain bled into the carpet.
“This is never going to come out,” she sighed, leaning back and taking another swig of her whiskey. She let the warm liquid rest on her tongue, relishing the aromatic burn, Jack Daniels, her father’s favorite.
“Hey now, I can’t have you drinking alone. Cheers,” her brother, Kent, called out behind her, tipping back his own glass of the same. “At least it was a killer party.”
“It’s not over quite yet,” she replied, flashing him an insidious grin.
He let out a baleful chuckle as he carried an armful of empty glasses over to the sink to be washed. Ducking down he searched through the various cleaners in the cabinet until he found the one he wanted.
“Here,” he called out tossing it to her, “See if that works. Mom would hate to see her carpet ruined.”
Jill studied the label of the cleaner that boasted to remove even the toughest of stains. We will put that claim to the test, she thought as she covered the unsavory blemish with a thick layer of white foam. She stood and stretched, collecting her whiskey and an overturned wine glass from the floor.
“I have ten minutes to spare while that soaks in,” she said, joining her brother in the kitchen. He took the wine glass from her and studied it.
“This one’s chipped,” he shrugged, placing it on the overflowing garbage bin. “Helen really needs to learn how to handle her liquor,” he laughed, “or at least switch to white wine.”
“Small price to pay,” Jill replied, pushing down the trash and tying off the bag. “After all, she did make this night happen for us.”
“I’ll drink to that.” He clinked her glass and they both let the familiar flavor of Old No. 7 slide down their throats again. Jill closed her eyes and indulged the smooth burn. Her brother clapped her on the shoulder, a softness in his eyes. The silence didn’t need to be broken. The unsung tragedy they both suffered would not be resolved with words.
“Soon,” he whispered, moving past her and heaving the trash bag from the can. Kent hauled the bag to the garage, grabbing a couple pizza boxes on the way.
Jill trailed him, hesitating in the doorway. Her eyes glided over the meticulously organized tools along the far wall. Their father had always been able to build or fix anything. She thought back to when she was nine and had come to this very garage, tears in her eyes, pushing the bicycle that she was certain was ruined for good. He had laughed and taken her on his knee, reassuring her that if you had the right tool for the job, you could do anything. Within minutes he had popped the chain back on and told her it was good as new.
I’m not so sure one tool is going to cut it for this job, she thought grimly as she walked over and plucked the pliers from their spot on the wall. Turning her attention to her childhood bike that was still sitting in the corner she knelt down and skillfully removed the chain. She slid the pliers in her pocket and clutched the bicycle chain tightly in her grip.
Kent was studying her from the garbage bin, “That’s a start,” he laughed. They walked back to the kitchen side by side. The tension in the air was almost intoxicating. Jill placed the bike chain in the freezer and shut it, shrugging.
“You finish the dishes and I’ll get back to work on that stain,” she said smiling.
She could have let her thoughts wander as she resumed the repetitive task, but she didn’t. Instead, she focused on the stain, on the scrubbing, on the cleansing chore. The deep red had lightened to a sickening pink. She sprayed it with the foam again and stepped away.
“Ten more minutes,” she called out turning her attention to the sticky rings on the coffee table. They wiped off the glass with ease, leaving behind a sparkling surface. Good as new.
She turned around and saw Kent checking his watch. Aside from the stack of glasses waiting to be air dried and the thick foam on the carpet slowly doing its work, all signs of their soirée had been erased.
“Forget about the carpet,” Kent said, “we still have plenty of work to do in the basement.”
Jill smiled and walked to the freezer. The chain wasn’t very cold yet, but that wasn’t imperative. Honestly, it had just been a last-minute notion. They clinked their glasses one last time and downed their whiskey. Kent’s pupils dilated with anticipation; a darkness shadowed his face. He slung the dish towel over his shoulder and led the way downstairs. Jill scooped up the carpet cleaner and followed him.
Kent flicked the light on at the base of the stairs, taking in the sight. The entire room had been carefully shrouded in sheets of clear plastic. A white folding table displayed an assortment of carefully chosen objects. Hung on the wall was a macabre collage. Jill had taken the time to enlarge every photo from their family album, the center of which was their parent’s wedding portrait. She thought it was a nice touch. Tightly secured in the middle of the room sat an unconscious Jason Stratton Garret, the degenerate sociopath who had murdered their parents seventeen years ago.
Jill set the carpet cleaner and bike chain on the table and handed her brother a plastic handle of cheap tequila. “His drink of choice,” she laughed. Two hours earlier she had slipped a healthy dose of Rohypnol into a double shot of Patrón and had served it to ‘Strat’, as he preferred to be called, with a charming smile. This was no longer the time for top shelf liquor.
Kent twisted off the top of the tequila and sauntered over to their captive. He grabbed a fistful of dingy blonde hair and yanked back Strat’s head. Winking at his sister he declared, “Justice is served,” and poured the noxious liquor down the helpless man’s throat. Strat coughed and sputtered as he choked on the forceful barrage of liquid. Kent released his grip letting Strat’s head hang down as he drooled and slobbered into his own lap, barely clinging to consciousness.
With as much force as he could muster, Kent slammed the bottle against the other man’s face. Strat’s eyes fluttered open for a brief second, the drug fighting against his effort to come to.
“Maybe we should have used the good stuff,” Kent laughed, “that would have been a lot more fun with a glass bottle.”
“My turn,” Jill called out, a sing-song lilt to her voice. She pulled the pliers from her pocket and skipped over to her brother. “Fingers or toes?” She asked.
She glanced down at Strat’s grimy boots with disgust, saliva and tequila still dripping down from his slack-jawed mouth. Crinkling her nose, she settled on the thumbnail of his right hand. Using the same practiced motion her father had taught her she tugged at the nail, ripping it off halfway. A low tortured moan filled the basement. Strat’s whole body shook and his head tilted up, eyes fluttering.
“Morning, cupcake,” Jill exclaimed, slapping him gently on his cheek. Kent grabbed his hair again and roughly pulled his head up so he was looking Jill directly in the eye. “This is going to hurt,” she whispered and slowly peeled the remainder of his thumbnail off.
“Fu- “Jill promptly shoved the bloody fingernail into Strat’s mouth, cutting off the vile word.
“Our parents did not abide that kind of language under their roof,” she reproached.
Strat spat the nail out with a stream of vomit. He was slowly regaining his faculties, much to his horror. Looking down at his duct-taped wrists he began to buck against his restraints. Jill and Kent regarded his fruitless attempts with scrutiny.
“What the hell do you want with me?” Strat grunted. He was answered with a backhanded blow that left his ears ringing.
“My sister warned you about that kind of language,” Kent tittered, massaging his hand. “You’re asking the wrong question. It’s not what we want with you. Its what we want to do to you.”
“Why?” Strat groaned, spitting out blood and tequila.
“Now that’s a good question,” Jill chimed in, gripping his earlobe with the pliers. She pinched the soft flesh and pulled hard. Strat screamed in agony as she waved the chunk of flesh in his face.
“Now listen up,” she hissed. “Do you know who those people are?” she screamed, pointing at their parent’s beautiful wedding portrait; at the collage of precious family memories.
Strat’s expression contorted with horrified recognition as he gawked helplessly at the ghosts on the wall. The happy couple smiled back at him, the little girl smirking in her soccer uniform. He shook his head in defiance, struggling harder against his fetters.
“I was a kid,” he wailed. “Please.”
Jill stomped back to the table and snatched the canister of carpet cleaner. His woeful cries making her blood boil. She slammed his head back and filled his gaping mouth with the thick white foam.
“No.” she screamed as he tried to spit out the putrid soap. “I was a kid. I was just a child. Twelve years old and you murdered my parents in front of me. You slashed my fathers throat and stabbed my mother four times. When I started to cry you slashed my stomach.” Spit flew out of her mouth in rage as she lifted her shirt to show him the gruesome scar from her childhood. “For what? His wallet? Her ring?” She tossed the canister against the wall and started sobbing.
Kent walked over and consoled his sister. “If this is too much,” he started.
“No,” she said shaking him off. He walked over to the table and grabbed the five-inch pocket knife, the same kind that had ended their parent’s lives. Offering it to Jill, she shook him off again. “You do this part,” she whispered, wiping her tears with the back of her hand.
Strat sat exposed, a fresh stream of vomit and carpet cleaner dripping from his chin. “Please,” he wailed, “Please, I was young and-“
Slash. Kent sliced through his soiled shirt like butter. A crisp line of warm red oozed across his gut. “That was for my sister,” he hissed through gritted teeth. He stabbed him again, and again, and again, and again. “For my mother.”
Jill stepped up behind him, fingering the bike chain in her hands. She lashed it around his throat, cutting off his painful laments. “And this,” she whispered into his mangled ear, “is for my father.” Her grip held true as she felt the man in front of her feebly fight for his life. She felt him weaken and go slack underneath her vengeful grip. She held the chain so tight her hands bled. Her tears fell silently down her cheeks as she stared at her parent’s faces on the wall.
Her brother finally came up and gently placed his hand on her shoulder. She startled. “Ten minutes is up,” he whispered taking the chain from her bleeding grasp.
Emotionally exhausted, the siblings collapsed to the ground behind Strat’s lifeless corpse and cried cathartically. They lost track of time sitting on the cold basement floor. Their tears had long since run dry when Jill began to chuckle hoarsely.
“I guess it’s time to tidy up from the afterparty,” she said dryly.
"Quod est Necessarium est Licitum; That which is Necessary is Lawful"
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The pacing was pure jet fuel -- HOLY COW. Great foreshadowing. I knew we were going dark, but I didn't know how fun it would be. Wheeeeee!! Great sibling banter. Loved this...
Thank you so much! I knew it was going to be dark when I started writing it as well. I think once I got towards the end I just let the story pull me and I sat back and enjoyed the ride.
I love when the characters hijack the story and write it themselves. It's best when we are like weirdly accurate fortune tellers, mediums just channeling the words on the page. FUN :)
So well said! When our characters look at us poor writers, and say, “Dance for me puppet.” I feel like they jump off the page and the entire story flows so much more fluidly and is naturally engaging.
Hi Jacquelene, What a wild ride! I loved the opening, the eerie red stain on the carpet that we slowly become convinced is just wine, but by the end it’s a toss-up. You toy with tension with incredible ease in this story. The details of the bike chain, for example, and other little hints that something isn’t quite right here. It’s a rather dark story but you write it with delicate attention to detail, which makes the whole thing that much more off-putting. Very well done, I’m looking forward to more of your work :)
Your kind words and critique have put a smile on my face! Thank you so much. I haven’t written much since I signed up for this site but I definitely plan on changing that! Thank you again!!
Wow! Vengeance is a dish best served cold. You have wonderful prose and timing. Thank you for this.
Thank you so much!!
You did it again, of course: “My turn,” Jill called out, a sing-song lilt to her voice. She pulled the pliers from her pocket and skipped over to her brother. “Fingers or toes?” She asked." Honestly, I'm an original writer, and all, but Deidra L (below) really captures my feelings! I know how fun it would have been for 'me', I'm just impressed at how fun you made it for us all - Bravo! Your Fan, Mark ~
Oh my goodness. Thank you, thank you!!! I started your second story today but had a lot going on at the time. I plan on restarting it and finishing tomorrow because honestly I love your descriptive writing and wanted to dedicate proper attention to your prose. Stay tuned for feedback. -Your Fan!
Wow! I loved this! What a ride! :-)
Thank you so much for taking the time to read!! :)
Wow, wow, wow!! Jacquelene, this was super amazing!! The siblings bond together was very strong, and you did a great job showing that. The descriptive writing here is top-notch and so vivid. I could see everything happening clear as day. Your prose is simply a joy to read, I was totally immersed in this story! The fact that Strat killed their parents they way he did, gave the siblings more than enough motivation to do what they did. I loved the little touches, like with the bike chain, what a great touch. Also, the title and that last li...
Oh my goodness! Thank you, thank you. You’re kind words are the best. Makes me want to keep writing. Honestly the format that turned out when I uploaded it here is driving me crazy! Every time I edit it so I can tab the paragraphs properly it just stays the same. Argh haha. I don’t know why some of the paragraphs are effed up but I am determined to fix it.
I know, right?! When I post my stories the formatting is all messed up too. I think the problem is in Reedsy itself. I tried using Google docs, and Word and they both do the same thing. I have to go in and edit the formatting, remove the indents, and then I make sure to double space between each paragraph. IDK... :) I hope you do keep writing! Your stories are great, and I know I'll be reading them ;) ❤️