The Search for the Garden of Eden

Submitted into Contest #143 in response to: Write about a trip to see a natural sight that’s usually only ever seen in photos. ... view prompt


Coming of Age Funny Horror

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

Warning: violence, gore, sexual innuendos, also some religious satire.

   Forced to spend every summer at Bible Camp Leviticus, four teenage boys formed a secret group on account of a common curiosity: the female anatomy. Knowing the camp’s doctrine focused entirely on obliterating sexual desire from the loins of the attendees, the boys planned ahead and came prepared with their own countermeasures. Each member of the group, Malachi, Lazarus, Ezekiel, and Solomon, raided his father’s “secret” nudie magazine collection and smuggled one into the hyper-vigilant camp. Covertly referring to their group as, “The Four Horsemen”, they met under the veil of night in a dark corner of their cabin, with flashlights and a healthy dose of adolescent curiosity. 

   “Wow. They put that part of her right in the magazine crease.”

   “Do you think it really looks like that?”

   Solomon ran his finger down the shiny surface of the centerfold; his eyes wide with wonder.

   “They are so round.”

   Malachi rubbed the peach fuzz on his chin and cleared his throat. He cuddled the picture he cherished most, close to his heart. 

   “Wait till you see the one I brought.” With the grace and reverence of a priest displaying the holy sacrament, he gingerly placed the magazine down—centerfold open. “Guys…meet, Eden Storm.” 

   Oooooo Ahhhhh 

   “SHHHHH! You’ll wake up the whole camp ground!” Malachi hissed. 

   “I didn’t know those came in pink!”

   “Blonde hair…”


   “That looks like our garden after my dad mows the lawn.” 

   Lazarus, who suffered from narcolepsy, carelessly shoved his contribution toward Solomon before dozing off. Solomon flipped through the pages of Lazarus’s nudie magazine, admiring the glossy, feminine peaks and valleys until…

   “Hey look! This is the same chic! Eden Storm.”

   “Let me see that.” Malachi scoffed; offended that Eden dared to commit adultery with a different magazine. 

   “Nope. I don’t believe it. See? The left one is bigger in Lazarus’s picture; but the right one is bigger in the real Eden’s picture.” 

   “Yeah, but everything is perfect in both pictures,” Ezekiel crooned and pushed snoring Lazarus off his shoulder. Lazarus stirred and picked right up with the conversation as if he’d been wide awake the whole time.

   “Too bad we will never see her in real life.” Lazarus shook his head and yawned. 

   Solomon narrowed his eyes and twisted his mouth as an idea occurred to him. He poked at his phone, which he wasn’t supposed to have. Gasping with sudden excitement, he tugged Lazarus’s sleeve while frantically gesturing at his phone.

   “Guys! Guys…look at this!” 

   “I’d rather look at her. Her skin looks like cotton candy.” Ezekiel leaned toward the centerfold with his tongue out.

   “Ew. Don’t lick my magazine, doofus.” Malachi snatched the picture, holding it protectively away from Ezekiel’s tongue.

   “GUYS! I know where she lives!” Solomon whispered loud enough to get the group’s attention. 

   “What? No way!”

   “Probably a fake address.”

   “Even if it was her real address, what are we gonna do with it?”

   “I dunno. Maybe I want to see something in real life…something that most people only get to see in pictures.” Solomon shrugged. His friends blinked back at him—speechless. Slowly, each boy nodded in agreement; solidifying the group’s bond and commitment toward their common goal.

   Screeeech Slam!

A not-so-distant screen door interrupted their meeting.

   “That’s Old Edna making her rounds.”

   “She’s at Cabin Genesis, next door!” 

   The boys scrambled to hide the evidence and rush to their bunks before Old Edna made it through their door to Cabin Exodus.

   The next morning at breakfast in the Manna Mess Hall, Solomon proposed a pact.

   “Next year, for our high school graduation road trip, we go to find her, Eden Storm.”

   “We need a code name for our mission,” a bit of scrambled egg flew out of Ezekiel’s mouth when he spoke.

   “Let’s call it: The Search for the Garden of Eden.” Malachi grinned and sipped coffee. 

   To confirm their covenant and commitment to the mission, The Four Horsemen performed the most sacred and binding of all ritualistic handshakes: they spit-shook on it.

  Later that day, at the Righteous Anger Rifle Range, Lazarus yawned and wearily aimed his rifle at the target marked, “fornication is the devil”. Unfortunately, Lazarus’s narcolepsy often occurred at the most inconvenient moments. For example, when engaged in the use of a firearm. It happened so fast. He pulled the trigger and dropped like a sack of potatoes; jerking the rifle sideways and sending lead directly into Old Edna’s noggin. It was a horrifically bloody and tragic event that paused rifle practice and provided the perfect time for a snack break. 

   The campers sat at nearby picnic tables, enjoying cookies and juice while forensics investigated the scene. Alas, Dead Old Edna was immediately replaced by Just Steve, so the violent attack on fornication continued without a hitch. Rifle practice continued, but Solomon, Ezekiel and Malachi waited for Lazarus to regain consciousness while discussing plans to find, Eden Storm.

   “It’ll be a long trip.”

   “We’ll take turns driving.”

   “Except for Lazarus.”


   (One Year Later…)

   “I’m so proud of you for your persistence in seeking, The Garden of Eden.” Ezekiel’s mother dabbed tears from her eyes and helped load the minivan for her son. Ezekiel kissed his mother and drove off to pick up the rest of the crew.

   The other mothers followed their boys out to the van, too. 

   “Did you pack protection, dear?” Malachi’s mother handed him his graduation present, a SIG Sauer P229 Legion, and ruffled his hair playfully.

   “We don’t care who or what you kill, son. As long as you protect your virginity.” Lazarus’s mom brought out his pillow and stashed a machete by the passenger side door.

   Solomon, the group’s organizer, gave a riveting pep talk from the front seat.

   “Eden Storm allegedly lives in Arizona, near Las Vegas, Nevada. Our cross-country drive should take us approximately two point five days…less if we don’t stop.” Valedictorian of his high school class, Solomon planned every detail of the trip. He pushed up his glasses and handed printed itineraries to each of The Four Horsemen.

   “I say we don’t stop until we run out of gas!”

   “Yeah! We drive straight through!”

   “Stopping is for weaklings and losers!”

   Twenty miles and Mountain Dews later, Ezekiel pulled over for a unanimously requested bathroom break. He cleaned candy wrappers and soda cans out of the van while the others were in the restroom. On his third trip to the trashcan, he noticed a girl with long, blonde braids; writing words on a cardboard sign: Arizona or Bust

   Mesmerized by the mere proximity of the female, Ezekiel’s mouth dropped open as he watched her. He recognized the “Arizona” part of her sign. Plus, he was pretty sure that, “bust” meant, “boobs”, so he approached the young lass with a solution and a smile.

   “We’re headed to Arizona. Wanna join us?” 

   “Sure! I’m Beth.” 

   When everyone returned to the van, Ezekiel handed the driving responsibility over to Solomon and moved to the backseat where he got better acquainted with Beth. She livened up the atmosphere with sing-a-longs and stories of her travels across the country.

   “I’ve been on my own for a while. Saved up money from modeling gigs and set off to see the world.”

     In the driver’s seat, Solomon fumed with hostility. This was supposed to be a guy’s trip. They’d planned it for a whole year: The Four Horsemen’s quest to find the woman of their dreams and finally see, Eden Storm, in the flesh. This random, “Beth”, chic, was absolutely NOT in the plans. But, no one else seemed bothered— Lazarus slept in the very back and Malachi played the harmonica for the girl. 

   “You know, hitchhiking is dangerous. What if we were mass murderers?” Ezekiel felt protective of the defenseless girl.

   Beth giggled and twirled her braid; pretending to be just as innocent as the boys wanted her to be. 

   “Oh, I know you’re right. There are some crazy people out there. That’s why I’m hoping I can talk you boys into picking up my twin sister over in, Baton Rouge.”

   “Did you say, ‘twin’?” Solomon repeated, his interest piqued. Even geeky Solomon tossed a years worth of plans aside for a chance to be with twins. He emitted the appropriate, “Beavis and Butthead” laugh, floored the accelerator, and got them to Baton Rouge in record time. 

   “You have reached your destination.” Siri’s voice announced at the last minute. Solomon swerved and slammed on breaks, nearly causing a multi-car pile up as he pulled into the Conoco where Beth’s twin awaited.

     Clara looked exactly like Beth, as identical twins often do. They even dressed alike, with identical blonde braids and tattered backpacks. Lazarus stirred long enough to acknowledge the clones.

   “Huh. Two Beths. That’s something you don’t see every day.” A quick swap of seats put Malachi in the driver’s seat while Lazarus snoozed beside him in the passenger side. The other half of the Four Horsemen schmoozed with the twins, who were impossible to tell apart.

   “Identical twins, eh? So, everything about you is exactly the same?”

   “Pretty much. Except we are also, mirror-image twins. She’s left-handed and I’m right-handed.” 

   Aside from the unventilated reek of body odor and an obnoxious accumulation of candy wrappers, the rest of the road trip was pleasant, but uneventful. That is, until things got weird. The group was a mere twenty minutes from Eden Snow’s alleged lair when the trouble started. 

   “You said you were a model. Like, for clothes or some department store?” Ezekiel walked his fingers over Beth’s hand.

   “She’s a nude model. Just like me, right Sis?” Clara leaned forward to join the conversation from the very back seat. 

   “Your skin looks like cotton candy,” Ezekiel pushed aside Beth’s braid and stared longingly at her exposed neck.

   “We’re from Arizona. Went all the way to the East Coast to deal with a bunch of stalkers.”

   “Yep. My sister’s a pretty decent hacker. She located the creeps and we hunted them down.”

     “So pretty,” Solomon caressed Clara’s braid; too preoccupied to listen to the words spoken by the twins.

   “Took care of at least a dozen each. Most we handled individually.”

   “Yep. Clara just finished off that jerk in Louisiana.”

   “But we joined back up because this last group is special.”

   “You’re special, too,” cooed Ezekiel, smelling Beth’s hair.

-That’s when things went from weird to shocking.

   Beth unbuckled her seatbelt and stood up. Right as she aimed a switchblade at Ezekiel’s jugular, Lazarus sprang out of his seat like a coiled cobra and chopped off her hand with a machete. Still twitching and gripping the switchblade, her well-manicured, severed hand thumped to the floor board.

   Like a king fu master, Lazarus leaped again and disarmed (dis-handed) Clara milliseconds before she sliced Solomon’s carotid with a toothbrush-shiv. Shiny, bangle bracelets clinked off her jagged stump and rolled like rogue wagon wheels; leaving a bloody trail down the van’s floor.

   The twin nubs sprayed sticky, thick blood that coated the driver’s side of the front window; obscuring Malachi’s vision. Tires shrieked and smoked when he slammed on brakes, adding the stench of burnt rubber to the metallic smell of blood. 

   A back tire couldn’t handle the pressure and exploded, sending the van into a tailspin. Lazarus helped Malachi steady the wheel. Ezekiel mistakenly turned his face toward the spurting stumps and received a face full of bone-chip-infested plasma. It totally ruined his contacts. (And his taste for red meat.)

   Lazarus and Malachi guided the van as it lumped along to the side of the road. Without looking, Beth, bolted from the van, screaming about her hand and ran directly into oncoming traffic. Bits of Beth splattered onto five different vehicles. A suburban punted her severed head into a nearby pine tree where it perched like a raven with bloody blonde braids dripping onto the branches below. In a panicked rage, Clara launched herself toward her sister’s leg, still twitching on the highway and was met,( literally), head on by an eighteen wheeler that never even slowed down. (Thirty miles later, at the next weigh in, the driver discovered a mess on the front of his beloved truck: pink and gray brain matter speckled with insect carcasses, and a blue eye’s optic nerve twisted into the grill.)

   The boys in the van sat dumbfounded, shivering with shock. Lazarus handed his friends juice boxes to lift their spirits. After changing his contacts and the tire, Ezekiel drove the van to the nearest car wash. The Four Horsemen worked together to cleanse the van of every bit of flesh, bone, and blood.

   There, at the car wash, wrinkling in the breeze, they saw a flier taped precariously to a pole:


Clara and Beth Bundy 

“The Cross-Country Murderers”

 Identical twins, who took turns posing as alias “Eden Storm” in porn magazines, are wanted for the brutal murders of at least 36 men across the US.

   “I knew it wasn’t her in both photos,” said Malachi.

   “At least we got to see her in person.”

   “Well, guys, mission accomplished.”


April 27, 2022 16:13

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Lavonne H.
04:04 May 18, 2022

Sharon, do you mind really late, comments? I hate horror; writing it or reading it. Except when it is wrapped up on good ole religious fun like your story! You did give lots of hints so I knew the girls were The Girl. What I didn't expect was rejoicing (amen) when the mayhem began. Somehow, your horror is the kind that can be stomached and not internalized as sheer evil. And to that, I salute you! Yours in writing, Lavonne


Sharon Hancock
02:14 May 19, 2022

I love any comments from you! You made my day😻 I enjoy absurd horror/satire/humor and it is so fun to write. Thanks so much for reading and commenting.😻😻


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Zack Powell
21:04 May 07, 2022

This is officially my new favorite Sharon Hancock story. Wow, what a wild ride! (No pun intended.) I forgot halfway through that you tagged this as a Horror story, so when the climax happened I went 😳😳😳. You got me good, leading me along on the boys' journey, and then BOOM! Blood and guts everywhere, and I couldn't stop reading. I feel like I say this every time, but it's true: Your imagery is phenomenal. You know the horror genre inside and out, and it shows. I LOVED the opening paragraph so much (one of the best I've seen on Reedsy). Hil...


Sharon Hancock
01:03 May 08, 2022

Thank you thank you! You have such an inspiring way with words. I always feel like writing 10 more stories after I read your reviews. 😻 This one was inspired by a joke I heard once: A woman bought her husband subscriptions to Playboy and National Geographic; so he could look at pictures of all the places he’d never visit 😂 Thanks again, my friend! 😻😻


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Mike Panasitti
20:13 May 07, 2022

Sharon, lovely usage of holy Biblical names, especially for randy boys. A bathroom stop is much more plausible after 100 miles and 20 2 liters of Dew. If laughs out loud won contests, your stories are contenders. Perhaps by notching down the hyperbolic descriptive passages just a little, you might get your coveted win.


Sharon Hancock
01:16 May 08, 2022

Thanks so much for reading and commenting. And thanks for the advice. I will work on that. There’s so much competition on here, though. So many talented writers. I of course still want to win one week, but I’m also happy to be read. I’ve learned a lot on here! 😻


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07:16 May 06, 2022

What a funny, dark and captivating story! I really enjoyed the religious satire and the unexpected twist at the end with a Tarantino-like scene.


Sharon Hancock
18:01 May 06, 2022

Thank you so much! What a compliment to have anything I wrote bring the master Tarantino to mind! 😻


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J.C. Lovero
02:28 May 05, 2022

Hi Sharon! What luck that we get to be critique circle friends this week? Hay kween! First of all, let me say this story had me ROLLING. The kids were just adorable together. The narcolepsy kid was my favorite, randomly in and out of sleep yet still present throughout. And then he randomly goes kung fu master on them?! Yes please and thank you! I had a strange feeling that the girl at the gas station was suspicious. Kudos to you for dropping hints along the way. I was NOT expensing an all out brawl, but it was good fun. RIP Dead Old Edna


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Howard Halsall
17:55 May 04, 2022

Hello Sharon, What a hoot! I had a good old chuckle reading your latest story as thoughts of ‘Carry on Camping’ meets ‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ came to mind; especially with the eighteen wheeler road kill moment. As for your Four Horsemen; what a bunch of zany characters. Maybe they could have called themselves the Four Crumpeteers? (In another universe?) I loved the ending idea about the twins not looking entirely identical; a funny little pay off for the lads’ earlier centrefold confusion. Well done for this tale. It’s a treat to be ta...


Sharon Hancock
00:57 May 05, 2022

Thank you so much for reading and laughing and commenting 😻


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L.M. Lydon
00:46 May 04, 2022

What a truly creative direction to take the prompt in! And a definitely unexpected end.


Sharon Hancock
00:57 May 05, 2022

Thank you so much for reading and commenting😻


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Felice Noelle
13:02 May 03, 2022

Sharon: What a clever take on the prompt. And I loved the title. The plot line took a different swerve than I expected, but that's a good thing. The stark contrast of the naive camp administrators with the naive campers accentuated the old good versus evil. I hated to see evil seem to win, until the ending when evil seemed to trump evil and then we're wondering if an evil actually won. At one point I was rooting for the boys, then the girls, then the boys, and then wondering about truly twisted reality. Makes me wonder about what my ...


Sharon Hancock
23:04 May 03, 2022

Thanks so much for reading and commenting! This was purely fictional, so I’m sure your daughter had a great experience. 🤭😻


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Alisha Proffitt
17:15 Apr 29, 2022

What a wild ride from start to finish! I really enjoyed reading this.


Sharon Hancock
00:59 Apr 30, 2022

Thanks so much for reading and commenting😻


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Michał Przywara
20:36 Apr 28, 2022

I like the twist of them being twins. Lots of funny bits too, like how the road trip gradually falls apart. I'm a little surprised that they didn't recognize Eden Storm (either of them) when she got in the car, but I guess they weren't looking at her face :) Oh, the title is also brilliant, especially considering the religious camp and background. The mother being proud of her son for seeking the Garden – very nice!


Sharon Hancock
23:07 Apr 28, 2022

Thank you for reading and commenting. That’s right they weren’t looking at her face. 😂😻


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Crows_ Garden
01:59 Apr 28, 2022

"Bundy":eyes: Okay- I knew when religion camps were involved it'd be a bit messy but that ending.. Jeez I did not expect that. It was a bit sudden for me, but it was still really good. I like the ideas of the twins doing stuff like that, that was a nice touch.


Sharon Hancock
23:13 Apr 28, 2022

Thank you for reading and commenting! Sorry if it was too sudden of a change. I’ll work on smoothing that out. That seems to be the turn my characters all want to take lately. I’m like, “but it’s about summer camp and..” and my characters are all, “everyone must die!” 😂


Crows_ Garden
00:52 Apr 29, 2022

Of course. It might have just been me, as I do tend to read a bit fast. But you could perhaps drop a hint or two of the murderous-ness that'll happen? I love those sweet plots with chaotic players, I'll check out your other stories : )


Sharon Hancock
16:24 Apr 29, 2022

Great idea. I think I did forget the foreshadowing in this one. Or I might’ve accidentally removed it during one of the edits. Thanks!


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