“He's late again.”

“Come on, Jerry. He's not that bad.”

“I don't know why you insist on bringing him with us everywhere we go.”

“He seems sad...you know. Like he could just use some friends.”

Staring through the fencing to the abandoned factory laying in wait for them. Jerry spins about flustered. “No. He doesn't need any friends. He's weird, and weirdos are left alone for a reason. You remember Casey Becker right?”

Shifting his feet in the mixture of dirt and sand lining the fence. Aaron looks uncomfortable, almost pale at the mention of her name. “Do you have to bring her up again?”

“Do you want to end up like Casey?”

“Why do you always bring it up like this?”

“Why can't you admit that Tanner acts just like Sarah did? Casey thought Sarah needed a friend. Just like you with Tanner. And where did it get her?”

Holding a hand up motioning for Jerry to stop, Aaron steps back saying. “Okay. Maybe there are some similarities, but.”

“Some similarities? Dude are you kidding me? Tanner is practically the male version of Sarah Bennet. And let's remember she took Casey out to the woods and.”

“Stop. I don't need to hear that part. You're going a bit far, don't you think?”

“No dude. I don't fucking think. I stay alive, and my gut says. Tanner is bad news. Now can we? Before the little shit shows himself and chops. Us. Into little bitty pieces like Casey Becker.”

“Do you have to be so mean all the time?”

“I speak my mind, that's why you like me. That's why we've been friends ever since Mrs. Steins class back in first grade.”

“It's also why we're always at ends.”

“It's endearing. Now seriously Aaron, come on man. I don't want to wait up for him. Can we just go inside for a little bit? Just the two musketeers again. Venturing through the dangerous ruins of Sal's Salty Sea-tuna factory? Please”

“Jerry. We promised Tanner we would wait for him outside the gate. I'm sure he's going to be here any minute.”

“He's already thirty five minutes late. We all agreed on eight o'clock. Dude it's getting closer to eight forty. I have to be home by eleven. Remember?”

“God fine. We will wait. Five more minutes, if Tanner doesn't show up by then...We both go inside without him.”

Slapping Aaron on the back, Jerry happily exclaims. “There. There's my leader, Athos. Welcome back to the musketeers sir.”

“Ah, Porthos how great of you to never leave.” Aaron says laughing, giving Jerry a playful shove.

Dark clouds brew overhead, and lightning flashes in the distance. Claps of thunder echo across the coast leading into the harbor and the forest beyond. A foul wind growing ever colder blows across the edges of the old factory. Catching the wind chimes and flowing through old shattered windows. The factory itself seems to howl, almost growl in the boys direction. Exchanging nervous glances between themselves. The boys spend a beat uncomfortably chuckling together.

Aaron pokes Jerry on the arm asking. “So why did we pick this place again?”

With an audible gulp, Jerry shifts in his own skin. “I thought you picked it?”

“No. You picked it didn't you?”

“Dude, are you losing it or what? I could'a swore you picked it.”

“I mean. I looked it up after we talked about it, but...”

Both of them come to the same conclusion, simultaneously saying. “Tanner.”

“Yes?” Tanner asks, walking up from behind.

Both jump against the chain link fence and scream.

Aaron turns around panicked ready to throw a punch. “Seriously man? You're gonna sneak up on us like that?”

Jerry spends a few beats screaming in an extremely high pitch. Holding his head, one leg up in the air, body curved and distorted in fear. Jerry finally opens his eyes and collects himself. “Ahem. What the hell Tanner.”

Tanner chuckles for a second holding up both hands in defeat. “Sorry guys. Ha. Didn't mean to scare you.”

Jerry nervously chuckles. “Why are you so late?”

“I had to finish my homework before I could leave the house. Why are you so early?”

“Whatever Tanner, we agreed on eight.” Jerry says angrily.

Holding his hands up and standing between the two of them. Aaron breaks the tension. “Come on Porthos, it matters not our companion is late. Aramis has arrived. Now the three of us may enter in the ruins in search of treasure. Eh? Now, what do you say to that? Dear comrade?”

Staring at Aaron angrily for a beat. Jerry breaks down laughing. “God damn it. You know exactly how to rope me in.”

Aaron pumps fists with Tanner saying. “Care for the honors sir?”

Pulling some bolt cutters out of his backpack. Jerry hands them to Tanner who asks. “Why do I need these?”

“Why to cut, the ceremonial chains of lock. Cut the chains on the fence man. We can't get in otherwise.” Jerry replies in a fake British accent.

“Oh. It looks like someone already has...” Tanner says pointing to a cut chain laying on the ground, half covered in dirt and sand.

Ignoring the chain Aaron opens one side of the gate for his companions motioning with a hand for them to follow. “Well then? Let's get on in there before we get caught.”

Tanner follows suit striding directly into the empty lot leading to the factory. Kneeling down confused. Jerry focuses on the chain, staring at it for a few beats. Practically leaping out of his skin. Jerry jumps when Aaron places a friendly hand on his shoulder saying. “Hey? You alright?”

Smiling at his friend. Jerry shakes the weird feeling away and grabs his friends hand to help him stand up. “Yeah. I just got a strange feeling is all. I'm sure it's nothing.”

“Exactly. It's nothing. No fear. Right? We are musketeers. We live for these adventures my friend.”

Looking over Aaron's shoulder, Jerry notices Tanner nowhere to be seen and asks. “Dude...Where did Tanner go?”

Laughing Aaron turns around saying. “What do you mean where did Tanner go...?”

Perplexed the two boys walk across the open lot closer to the entrance leading inside the dark factory. The wind continues howling through the openings of the building accompanied by the ever ringing tones from some nearby wind chimes. The two mix together creating a disorderly cacophony of sound in the background.

Peering into the already open door of the factory. Aaron puts his hands against his face and shouts out for Tanner. Unable to hear anything outside. Aaron looks at Jerry asking. “Do you think he went inside?”

“Casey Becker, dude. Casey Becker. We are Casey Becker in this situation.”

“Will you...Just. Come on already.” Aaron says pulling a small flashlight from his jeans pocket.

“Whatever man. I call it like I see it. That kid is luring us in there to die.”

Aaron shoots Jerry a violent and angry look, then walks through the entrance into the factory saying. “Look. Follow or don't. I guess either way. I'm looking for Tanner.”

Watching Aaron walk into the factory, Jerry throws his arms to his side exclaiming. “Come on, Aaron. This is bullshit man. Who shows up this late...just to disappear again?”

Halfway down the main hallway leading into the actual factory itself, Aaron turns to face Jerry still standing at the cusp of entering the factory. “I don't. I don't know Jerry. He's probably just playing a prank on us.”

“Yeah...Just like Sarah Bennet did.”

Taking a single step towards the entrance. Aaron shouts. “Will you shut the fuck up about Casey Becker and Sarah Bennet already! It happened last year. Why do you talk about it so. Much?”

Hurt, Jerry takes a few step forward saying. “I don't know...dude. She just. I guess.”

“She what man?”

“It's just that. That story hit home for me, cause I feel I'd be the weird kid without you.”

“So that's enough reason to pick on Tanner the way you do?”

Jerry takes a few steps further into the entrance past an open doorway. “I don't know. I mean. No. That's not a good reason. I just. I guess. I pick on him, because I don't want him to create a rift in our relationship. I don't want to be lonely like Casey Becker was. Or hang with a psycho loner like Sarah Bennet who's going to get me killed.”

Taking a step toward Jerry. Aaron watches as Tanner pops out of the doorway next to Jerry brandishing a knife. Stabbing Jerry in the ribs, Tanner pulls the combat knife out and stabs him again and again. Laughing Tanner looks up to a paralyzed Aaron saying. “Don't go too far on me.” Looking back to Jerry. Tanner continues stabbing his body.

Stunned holding his flashlight. Aaron turns around to run into the factory and trips over a rotten bucket. Glancing over himself. Aaron scrambles to get to his feet at the same time as Tanner. Sprinting down the rest of the hallway Aaron looks back and clips his shoulder on the wall. Flipping around to avoid falling over. Aaron makes eye contact as Tanner lunges through the air at him with the ferocity of a lion. Hitting Aaron mid-air, the two tumble together over the railing leading to the factory floor below.

Spinning through the air for a few beats. Tanner wrestles with Aaron in attempts to stab him. Landing atop of Tanner on the concrete floor. Aaron rolls over coughing. With a few deep breaths he looks at the ten foot drop the two just took. Glancing to Tanner who hit his head on the floor, Aaron checks his neck for a pulse for a beat. Finding nothing but some blood seeping out from underneath his head. Aaron rises, grabs his flashlight and scours the factory floor for stairs or a ladder to get back up top.

Spotting an old rusted ladder hidden behind some plants growing in the cracks of the concrete. A beat passes as Aaron rips away at the plants. Grabbing hold of the first bar Aaron starts climbing as Tanner sprints at him from behind. Pulling him from the ladder, Tanner hits Aaron in the head with a loose rock in his hand. Shocked, Aaron tries to fight back as Tanner beats him to death with the rock. Leaving nothing more then a bloody mess behind where Aaron's face should be, Tanner finally rises with a deep breath.

Climbing the ladder, Tanner grabs a fire axe he hid away ahead of time and whistles. “Whew. Who knew this was so much work.” Thinking to himself for a minute he chuckles. “Sarah Bennet does...huh. How about that?”

July 09, 2020 22:21

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Rhondalise Mitza
05:11 Jul 14, 2020

Wow wow, Ben. Went there, did you? Not afraid to take risks in writing is good.


Ben K
13:53 Jul 14, 2020

I really appreciate this comment. Thank you very much. I strive to keep things fresh, even with the typical tropes. Any comments you have to help me improve this piece or any other would be much appreciated.


Rhondalise Mitza
15:37 Jul 14, 2020

Hmm, I think that the title was pretty nice but later on in the story it could be seen as a *dead* giveaway to who the culprit really is. If you want to go for forshadowing, that works great! But if not, you may want to reconsider. And you really, honestly are doing a much better job than most people I know (not on Reedsy, folks, just in general) so please do take this as feedback and not me being rude because that is no intention of mine.


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