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chapter sixteen

"Trevor," said Maureen to his voicemail. "Listen, I believe you about Jared. I think you're right. He's dangerous. He's Simon Finch, and whatever you're doing right now, you can't�Look, just call me. I need to talk to you."

She hung up the phone and dropped it on her bed. Damn it. He hadn't picked up the phone. What was he doing?

Images of Trevor shooting people danced through her head. Who would Trevor kill? Kids at school? If he was going to do that, why hadn't he done it today? Was there a game tonight or anything? Football season was over. She thought. Were they playing basketball yet?

Trevor didn't really hate kids at school. Maybe that wasn't what he was going to do.

She should just go to his house. If he was there, she could stop him from doing whatever it was he was going to do. If he wasn't there... If he wasn't there, she'd call the police. Maybe they wouldn't believe her, but she wouldn't have any other options. So, good. She was going to Trevor's house. Great. How the hell was she supposed to get there? She didn't have a driver's license. She didn't have a car. She lived in the middle of nowhere. There were no taxis or public transportation. She needed to get a ride. But she didn't want to involve anybody in this.

Maybe she could steal her mother's car. She could drive. Sort of. She'd never driven anywhere besides the abandoned parking lot at the Murray Shoe Factory but she could do it. If she stole her mother's car, though, she'd have to wait until after her mother went to bed, which wouldn't be for hours and hours, and by then she might be too late.

Maybe she could call Frances. It would be okay if Frances were there. She was Trevor's girlfriend, technically, so that should help. No. No, Frances couldn't come. Frances wasn't the same as she used to be. She was really close to Jared. For all Maureen knew, she was part of the plan. Maybe she was going to help Trevor slaughter people.

Maybe she could steal Frances' car.

How was she supposed to get to Frances' car?

Damn it.

Could she ask James Mitchell again?

She didn't have his phone number.

Well, she was going to steal her mother's car. That was all there was to it. And until her mom went to sleep, she'd call Trevor every fifteen minutes. Maybe he'd get fed up and pick up the phone.

* * *

Frances was out of pills. The ones that Jared had given her. They were all gone. She'd taken all of them. She remembered that at one point, she'd stopped taking them all together, and she'd been okay, but she didn't feel okay now. She felt ravenous. Since they'd run out that morning, she'd been driven to eat. She'd resisted the urge for as long as she could, but eventually she couldn't help it anymore. She gave in and ate. And it wasn't as if she just ate a normal meal, either. She ate a lot of food. Several frozen pizzas, a few large bags of chips, five packages of cookies. When she was done, she felt gross. She called Jared and begged him for more pills.

He said he didn't have any more, and nothing she said would persuade him to give her more.

Frances couldn't handle it. She was panicked now. Frenzied. If she couldn't convince Jared over the phone, she'd convince him in person. She got in her car and took off for Jared's house. Five minutes on the road and she got stuck behind a car with an out-of-state license plate.

Frances hated out-of-state drivers. They couldn't handle curves in the road. The speed limit was 55, but this guy was going closer to 35. Frances knew the road well, and could handle taking it about 60. Considering she was in such a rush, she'd like to be taking it at about 75. The road to Jared's house had very few straight stretches, and because of this, there weren't many passing zones. Frances tailed the car as close as she could get, fuming. She couldn't believe this. It seemed absolutely imperative that she get to Jared's house as quickly as possible, and as the car ahead of her puttered along, braking to 20 miles an hour to maneuver around the curves, Frances felt as if she couldn't handle it anymore.

The next stretch of road wasn't designated a passing zone, but it was fairly straight. There was curve in it, but not a big one. The suggested speed limit for it was about 45. Checking the other lane for oncoming traffic, Frances swung out next to the car and laid her foot into the gas. Her car took off, the speedometer needle climbing towards 60 miles an hour. She shot past the car and headed into the 45 mile an hour curve.

Headlights cut around the bend.

There was a car in lane. Shit. She was in the path of oncoming traffic.

Frances glanced at her rearview mirror to make sure she was ahead of the car she'd just passed and cut into the correct lane.

But now the curve was upon her and she was going so fast. She slammed on her brakes and attempted to turn into it at the same time. It didn't work. Her car skidded and fishtailed. Out of control, Frances instinctively pressed harder on the brakes.

The world outside her was flying past. Her car was heading off the road, and nothing she did with her steering wheel seemed to stop it.

A large oak tree loomed in front of her windshield. Frances screamed, but it was too late. She threw her arms over her face as her car slammed into the tree. They didn't do anything to protect her.

* * *

Trevor had turned off his cell phone. Maureen could tell because whenever she dialed his number, it didn't ring, it just went directly to voicemail. It was dark outside now. A few hours had passed, but it was far from late enough for her mother to go to sleep. Eight-thirty p.m. Maureen was worried. She'd hoped Trevor wasn't picking up the phone because he didn't have it on him. But now she knew that he was deliberately ignoring it. That was a bad sign. It meant he'd made up his mind to do whatever it was he was going to do, and he didn't want any outside interference.

Maureen knew she couldn't wait any longer. Her mother would freak out if she took the car, but she wouldn't be able to do anything to stop her. So she went into the kitchen. The key rack hung next to the phone. Her mother was in the living room watching TV. Maureen slid the keys to her mother's car off the rack and went downstairs to the garage. She got into the car and pressed the button that opened the garage door on the device clipped onto the visor on the driver's side. The garage door began to open. Noisily. Maureen held her breath, waiting for her mother to burst into the garage at the noise. When nothing happened, Maureen put the keys in the ignition and started the car. The sound of the easy listening radio station her mother listened to shattered the air.

As if on cue, the door to the garage opened and her mother appeared in the doorway. She was yelling something, but Maureen couldn't hear her over the radio. Heart pounding, Maureen quickly reviewed every driving lesson she'd ever had. She checked the rearview mirror. She put her right foot on the brake. Then she searched frantically for the...thing that put the car in reverse. She didn't know what it was called. The car she'd driven had had a lever next to the steering wheel. This one didn't.

Her mother was coming towards the car. Maureen locked the doors.

Where was it?!

There it was. Between the driver and passenger seat. Maureen yanked on it. Nothing happened.

Her mother was at the door, pulling at the door handle.

Oh. She had to push the button in first. The car lurched into reverse and Maureen stepped hard on the brake. She'd never backed a car up before. Her mother knew that. She was walking with the car, and Maureen could hear her now.

"Maureen Alice Paulsen! You get out of this car this instant!"

Maureen stepped on the gas and the car flew backward. Her mother lost her grip on the door handle. Maureen slammed onto the brake before she hit something. She was breathing fast now. Her mother was still screaming.

She managed to back out of the driveway, and then she sped off down the road and away from her mother. Driving was easy. She was fine. Right. She stopped pretty abruptly and she took off pretty fast, but aside from giving herself whiplash, she was okay.

It should have taken her fifteen minutes to get to Trevor's house. It took thirty. Maureen was afraid to go too fast on the road, so even though the speed limit said 55, she went 40, sometimes slower. Her phone rang about five times. She would have checked it, but she couldn't do that and drive at the same time. She hoped it was Trevor, but she figured it was her mother.

Eventually, she reached Trevor's house and pulled into his driveway. She wasn't dead. She hadn't killed herself. That was good. Also, Trevor's car was in the driveway. He was here. That was also good.

This was stupid, she realized suddenly. There was no reason for her to suspect that Trevor was going to hurt anyone. He probably wasn't answering her calls because she was his ex-girlfriend, and he didn't want to talk to her. And now she'd stolen her mother's car. Just after getting ungrounded. She should really just go home. She started to take the car out of park.

Something collided with the driver's side window.

Maureen let out a little squeak.

It was a person. It was Jared.

He banged on the window. "Open up."

She probably shouldn't do that. What the hell was Jared doing here? This proved her theory, didn't it? If she opened the door, what would he do to her?

She snapped off the radio. She hadn't been able to do it while she was driving because it took too much concentration, and she hadn't wanted to take her eyes off the road.

"Go away," she said.

"I thought I told you to stay away from Trevor," said Jared.

Maureen held up her phone. "I'm going to call the police."

Jared's face settled into a hard line, but he backed away from the car.

Maureen sat still for a few moments. Now what was she going to do? Jared had her trapped in the car. She leaned forward to peer outside. She couldn't see him anymore. Cautiously, she opened the door, clutching her phone like a weapon.

"Jared?" she called as she got out. "Jared, are you there?"

"I'm here," he said.

He was right in front of her. How had he done that?

"Stay back," said Maureen. "I know who you are."

Jared raised his eyebrows. "Who am I?" he mocked.

"Ian Flynn," she said. She waited for a look of confusion or a burst of laughter.

Instead Jared clapped for her. Four short, sardonic claps. "Very good, Death Girl. Very, very good."

"I'm right?"

"You win the prize. Now get the fuck out of here."

"Where's Trevor?" she asked.

"Inside," said Jared. He sighed. "You're a very tough girl to get rid of. You know that? Threatening you didn't seem to work. How about bribing you? What is it that you want, Maureen?"

He reached out and grabbed her hand. She tried to pull it back, but he held it firm. "You don't want Trevor, do you? Because if you burst in there and save him from himself, you'll have him. You two will get married right after high school. But Trevor will be depressed a lot. And he won't take medication for it. So, he'll start drinking. He won't be able to keep a job. You'll have to work to support the both of you. And he'll die young, but he'll leave you a lot of debt."

Maureen yanked hard on her hand, but she couldn't get it away from Jared. "Let go of me," she said.

"If you drive away right now, do you know what will happen?" Jared asked. He pulled her closer and used the hand not holding hers to close her eyes. Maureen started to see things. She struggled, but Jared held her firm. She could see herself walking along a sidewalk near some tall, brick buildings. The area was well landscaped. It was her all right, but her hair was cut differently, and she was wearing tight, tight jeans. She looked hot. She watched herself wave at a guy across the street before hurrying over to meet him. She kissed him. The guy was hot too.

"That's college," said Jared. "You end up going somewhere out of state. Nice big town. That's your freshman year boyfriend."

Suddenly, the picture changed. She was in bed with a guy. A different one. He was equally gorgeous, with chiseled muscles. Jared squeezed her hand, and she felt herself merge with the self she was seeing. The guy was over her. They were looking deep into each other's eyes, and her body was tingling all over. They were both breathing heavily. They were breathing in the same rhythm. It was like a romance novel. No lie. She'd never felt anything like what she felt for the guy she was in bed with. She loved him so much she thought her head would explode. And then she felt something stirring deep in her body. It was building and building and�

Jared let go of her. "Yeah. You leave now, sex gets good. You stay, you and Trevor and keep doing what you have been doing. Which must have been pretty pathetic, from the impression I get of it from your head. Our boy's no good in bed, huh?"

Maureen was trying to shake the images from her head. She was trying to shake the feelings from her body. "What are you?" she rasped.

"Not human," said Jared.

Was that possible? Of course it wasn't possible. But that must be it. How Jared could be Ian and Simon. How he could change his appearance. How he could be killed but not die. Maybe she'd known that from the moment she began to suspect him. Maybe that was why she was accepting it now.

"You can see the future?"

"I can do a lot of things."

Like force guys to kill people, apparently. What had she gotten herself into? She couldn't fight Jared. He was some kind of monster. She backed up against her car. She fumbled behind her for the door handle.

"You gonna leave?" said Jared.

Maureen opened the door and got in.

"Good choice," said Jared. He turned his back and started towards Trevor's house.

Maureen gunned the ignition and put the car in drive. She drove it full speed into Jared. His body crumpled with a sickening crunch.

See the future, her ass. He didn't want her here. He was clearly a powerful being, and he really didn't want her here. That meant she might be able to stop what was happening.

She got out of the car, slammed the door, and said to Jared's twisted form, "One thing you forgot about teenagers. The future doesn't matter to us. Tomorrow is the rest of our lives for all we care."

She marched up to Trevor's house and let herself in. "Trevor," she called.

A hand clamped over her mouth. "Shut up, bitch."

Well. Jared wasn't dead.

She bit his hand.

He pulled away, swearing.

"Trevor," she screamed.

Jared tackled her, knocking her chin into the kitchen linoleum. Her teeth snapped into each other. Pain shot through her jaw. She elbowed behind her, connected with Jared, but apparently not causing him any harm.

He pinned her down with his weight. "Shut your mouth, or I will cut your throat," he said.

Maureen didn't say anything.

"Good," said Jared.

Someone shuffled into the kitchen. It was Trevor. He was wearing a pair of pajama pants, but no shirt. He had a shotgun in one hand. He used the other hand to rub his eyes. He looked like he'd just woken up.

"Maureen? Jared? What are you doing here?" he said.

"Trevor, shoot Maureen," said Jared.

Trevor shrugged and raised the shotgun.

"No," said Maureen. "Trevor, don't listen to him. You were right. He's bad. He's after you. He made your brother shoot those kids at Madison. He made Gus Lee Perry kill all those people in the seventies. He's a monster or something."

Jared yanked Maureen to her feet. "Boy, do you have that wrong," he said. He turned her to face him. "I didn't make Robbie do anything. Robbie did that all by himself. He was the most twisted human being I have ever met. No, I didn't make him do that. I was always after Trevor. I've been trying to make Trevor kill his family since he was twelve." He laughed.

Trevor looked at Jared. "You're Simon."

Jared nodded. "Yes, Trev. That's right. Now, be a good a little boy and march into your parent's bedroom and blow their brains out."

"Why?" Maureen said.

"What?" said Trevor.

"What?" said Jared.

"Why do you do it, Jared?"

Jared shrugged. "Because I can?"

Trevor scratched the back of his head. "I can't hear the bees."

"Shoot Maureen," said Jared. "Shoot Maureen and the bees will come back."

Trevor shook his head. "I don't want to shoot anybody."

"Fucking bitch," said Jared. "You do this to him. I can't get to him with you here."

"Good," said Maureen.

"Remember what she did to you, Trevor," said Jared. "Remember?"

Trevor shook his head.

"Fine," Jared muttered. "Usually, I don't like to get my hands dirty, but..."

He took a pistol out of his belt and put it to Maureen's head.

Jared's head exploded.

Maureen screamed. Trevor had shot Jared, but Jared was still standing. Half his face had caved in, and his skull had shattered, but he clapped again. Four short, sardonic claps. "Very good, Trevor," he said, but Maureen didn't know how he was talking. He didn't have a whole mouth. "Now, on with it."

"No, Trevor, no," said Maureen. "Please, let's just go. You and me, come on." She reached for him.

What was left of Jared shoved the pistol between her and Trevor. "Don't touch him," said Jared. Jared didn't look like a person. He was a mangled thing. Bloody and broken.

Trevor looked towards the doorway to the kitchen. "Why didn't my parents come when the gun went off?" he asked. He looked at Jared. "Are they...?"

"Of course not," snapped the Jared-thing. "I saved that honor for you. But I did drug them. Go look." Jared gestured with the pistol down the hallway.

Trevor took a half-stumbling step forward.

"Go on," urged the Jared-thing. "We'll come along."

Jared jammed the pistol into Maureen's ribs and nudged her after Trevor, who was making his way shakily out of the kitchen, dragging the shotgun with him.

"The living room," Jared said. "They're in the living room."

The lights were on in the living room. Trevor's mother was slumped on the couch. His father sat next to her in arm chair. His head was resting against the wall. His mouth hung open and slack. Jared left Maureen for a second and went to Trevor's mother. He yanked her up by her hair, positioning her so she was facing Trevor.

"Now," said the Jared-thing, "it's very simple, Trevor. First you shoot Mommy. Then you shoot Daddy." He mimed this with the pistol, making little "pow" noises. "Then," said the Jared-thing, and he stuck the pistol in what remained of his own mouth. "POW!" Jared waved, somehow smiling without a face. "Bye, bye, Trev."

Trevor wobbled on his feet and then leveled the shotgun.

"No!" Maureen screamed. She lunged for him, tackling Trevor.

The shotgun went off. The shot hit Jared again, this time in the midsection. Blood seeped out of the wound.

Maureen and Trevor landed with a thud on the carpet, their limbs tangled. Maureen's chin collided hard with Trevor's shoulder. She bit her tongue and cried out.

The Jared-thing was on them. "I told you," he growled, "not to touch him!"

Maureen clutched Trevor. He pried at her fingers. He yanked at her arms.

"No buzzing," Trevor whispered. "No buzzing."

"Let him go!" Jared shrieked. "Let him GO!"

Maureen struggled against Jared and reached for the shotgun, careful to keep contact with Trevor at the same time. Her fingers brushed the barrel.

Jared pulled her back.

She stretched again, straining her arm, nearly crying out from the pain and�

�it was in her hands. She staggered to her feet and began to bludgeon the Jared-thing with the butt of the gun. Bones cracked. Blood spurted onto her face. Her hands.

"Just kill your parents, Trevor," moaned the Jared-thing, but its voice was choked with blood. "Just shoot them," it gasped.

"No," murmured Trevor. Then stronger, "No." He took the shotgun from Maureen and drove it into the bloody mess of bone and guts that had been Jared. "NO!"

The Jared-thing convulsed. Once. And it was still.

Trevor swallowed. He set the shotgun down on the carpet. He looked at Maureen, his face twisting in disgust and terror.

Without a word, he stalked out of the living room, out of the house, and into the night.

Maureen could hear him when he screamed.

alternate ending >>

Copyright (c) 2010 Valerie Chambers