11: To Trap a Monster


CLUNK! CLANK!

An empty kerosene drum toppled down a pile of even more kerosene drums. It rolled across the dust-covered floor.

I’d been working my ass off for about an hour in an old storage room behind the church chancel. It’d been filled with boxes, boards, bricks, paint cans, broken furniture, and crap galore. I’d taken most of the bulky things out of the room and thrown them into the church pews. The rest of the shit, I’d just pushed against the walls.

I wore a flannel button-up that Carrie’d found in a box. It was covered in little animal hairs, and I jumped every time one of them rubbed against my back, thinking it was a spider. On top of that, the shirt was starting to itch like poison ivy. It made me wonder if I’d gotten some while me and Carrie'd been running through the woods.

I tied the end of a long rope around the leg of a chair that was wedged between a shelf and the wall.

Almost finished, almost finished, I thought in a rush.

This room was even smaller than the basement, so my claustrophobia had kicked into hyper-drive. My hands shook uncontrollably. I was sweating so much I had to keep wiping my face just so that it wouldn’t get in my eyes. It made working nearly impossible. But every time I got a little hopeless, I just said to myself “Quit being such a pussy, Jason!” and got on with it. I’m sure Dad woulda been proud.

As I’d worked, my mind had flashed through the events of the past few days-from the accident at soccer, to Brad and Seth pinning me to the wall, to being attacked in the pool, to watching Ms. Ryder get brutally murdered in the clinic bathroom. They didn’t feel like memories. Memories felt like anger or sadness or frustration. These had some of that in them. But mostly, they felt ridiculous. Even now, after all that had happened, there was still this huge part of me that couldn’t accept them. This must have been what Claire had meant when she'd talked about denial. Of course, it was easier to think it wasn’t real now that there wasn’t any pressing danger. But that didn’t keep me from being scared as fuck that the Slasher was gonna creep in and stab me in the back with the knife it'd used on Ms. Ryder.

I pulled a ladder out from the middle of the room and pushed it against the wall. I gazed up at my construction.

I’d taken the head off a pitchfork and tied it to the head of a three-pronged cultivator, so that the pitchfork part was sticking down. On the back of the cultivator, I’d bundled about twenty or thirty pounds of bricks and concrete blocks with rope and some duct tape. The end of the cultivator pole was tied just above the door, to a revealed ceiling board. The pitchfork end was suspended to another ceiling board that I’d had to rip through the ceiling to find. The same rope that suspended the pitchfork end to the ceiling was connected to the rope that I’d tied to the leg of the chair that was wedged between the shelf and the wall. The plan was the Slasher would chase me in there, and I'd kick the chair loose. My half-cultivator/half-pitchfork device would drop down and be quite a surprise for my Slasher friend.

That’ll get you, you stupid fuck.

I’d done just what Leslie had said, with a few modifications here and there. I was pretty proud of myself. For having been thrown together in thirty minutes, in the dim light of two near-dead candles, my contraption wasn’t bad. Unfortunately, even though I’d managed to get some tests in, after I’d tied the bricks and the concrete blocks to the head of the cultivator, there was really no way of making sure it worked. I could only hope.

While I’d been working on all this, Carrie’d been outside with the bag of salt, creating circles of protection. I hadn’t liked the idea of her being out there on her own, but she’d reassured me that her necklace would protect her.

I checked over my work once more, made sure everything was in place, and then went out a side door Carrie had shown me to get out of the church.

The half moon in the sky covered the tall grass and pines in a soft, blue glow. I was glad to have some natural light cause I’d blown out both my candles, knowing it was highly unlikely they would’ve made it out the door.

Now that I wasn’t cooped up in a basement or a storage room, my shaking was starting to subside, and I could breathe again. A loud chorus of frogs played not so far from the church. It sounded like hundreds of them. There had to have been a creek or a pond nearby.

I walked around to the side of the church Carrie’d taken me to when we’d first gotten there. She walked along the church wall, her ponytail bobbing behind her little head. She whispered to herself the same way she had in the basement and when I'd seen her sneaking out of the dorms. In one hand, she held the bag of now-less-than-an-inch of salt. In the other, she held a pool of wax that was practically watering the grass.

“Almost done?” I asked, approaching her.

“Another few yards,” she said, her eyes fixed on the ground as she sprinkled salt beside her.

“Hey, listen,” I said, stepping into her path.

As she reached me, she stopped, shook the focused gleam out of her eyes. She looked at me blankly. The soft light from dying candle made her normally green pupils look as dark as they had in the basement.

“Thanks,” I said, blushing a little. Fortunately, it was too dark for her to notice.

"For what?" she asked, her eyes wandered toward the woods. “Being the reason this thing is after you?”

“No,” I said. “For helping me.” I’d been wrong about her. She wasn’t anything like Seth or Brad. She was a good person.

She gazed into my eyes, like she was looking for something. I couldn’t tell if it was to see how sincere I was about what I’d said, or if she was looking for something deeper. I felt this urge to turn away, but I didn’t, just let her peer as deep as she could. I wanted to hug her or hold her or something. Claire used to say it was natural for people to bond in times of crises. I figured I had a little bit of that going on, so I wisely kept that inclination to myself.

“Oh my God, Jason!” she exclaimed. Her eyes grew wide with concern. “You’re shaking all over!” She grabbed my hand.

I’m fine,” I snapped, snatching it back.

She pulled away, startled, looked at me with worried eyes, like the ones she'd had when I'd first pinned her to the wall in the clinic.

“It’s cold out here,” I insisted, not wanting her to catch on to my claustrophobia. I looked to the ground, avoiding eye contact. I didn't want her looking at me again with those searching eyes. I think a part of me was worried that she had some sort of psychic power she hadn’t told me about. If she did, I didn’t want her to know about that.

“Jason,” she said.

“Yeah?” I asked, still looking at the ground.

She didn’t respond. My eyes flashed back up.

Her arms were frozen in place, and her eyes stared forward nearly as steadily as they had when she had done the creepy Leslie-thing.

“I think…I just heard…something in the woods,” she said through her teeth, trying not to make any big movements.

The hairs on my back stood on end. I took a cue from Carrie. I slowed my breathing, stood just as still as her, listened for what she’d heard.

The sound of the bizarrely loud frogs and a few crickets filled the air.

I felt so stupid for having wasted Carrie's time. She wasn't even done with her circles of protection. If I woulda just waited five minutes. But no! Now I was going to get cut up by that alternate dimensional freakshow.

I was still waiting for something to pounce at me from behind. Still just the sounds of creatures and the occasional wisp of wind.

Carrie bit her lip. She made a little smile. I gathered she was starting to think she'd just imagined it.

I took a normal breath.

“Sorry,” she whispered. “I thought I heard something.”

I chuckled, put my hand to my chest. “You…scared…the shit out of me.”

“I’m sorry. Better to be safe than—”

A rush of air came from behind me and blew the flame right off Carrie's soupy candle. Something grabbed my wrist tight and ripped so hard I fell on my side. Next thing I knew, I could feel the tall grass slapping at my cheek as I was dragged across the ground.

“JASON!” I heard Carrie shriek.

By the sound of her voice, I could tell that she was already yards away.

Fuck.