Saturday, October 29, 2011

Twilight Kills #CoffinHop

Today's Coffin Hop post is a selection from my short story "Under the Slide", included in Issue 13 of Sex & Murder Magazine. It's a cautionary tale about what could happen when kids get caught up in the vampire craze.
You can order a print copy of the issue (which features some awesome stories!) or read the full story online HERE.

Basically, I’m a freak. And when something freaky happens, the world needs a freak.

I wasn’t called into the situation immediately. It needed time to build up steam and attention before the “powers that be” would resort to calling me in. After the fourth school in Maryland was reported as having an “incident,” people started to get really nervous and wonder why this epidemic hadn’t been stopped or even diagnosed. I had been following the story very superficially for weeks and when the epidemic started to spread, I began preparing myself for the call. I have to admit that I was slightly offended when the call didn’t come immediately after the four junior high kids were found slaughtered in the same manner as they others across the state, but as I wasn’t too eager to delve into such a gory scene, I didn’t kick up too much fuss. When the phone finally rang, I knew it was about the incidents; not only because I was expecting it or because my visions revealed it but because the woman’s voice on the other end of the line was shaking terribly, probably half in shock from the deaths and half in apprehension of having to deal with “my kind.”

“This is a very serious situation,” she said as if I didn’t already know. “And they say you’re the best when it comes to—these things.”

“I’m not the best. I’m the only.”

“But you are a paranormal investigator?”

“No, I’m not, and I take offense to be referred to as such. I’m not some ghost chasing nutbar, Mrs. Willeck. I’m a preternatural detective.”

“What’s the difference?”

“Would you like to argue semantics or do you want me to find whatever killed these children?”

“Please, you have to find the killer. We’re afraid it might happen again.”

The police had crawled the crime scenes like ants searching for hidden sugar, and despite their surely flawless approaches, they had turned up no fingerprints or evidence that would lead to naming suspects, let alone finding the actual killer. I found this all very interesting. You would think that simple minds would make simple conclusions. Not so. The simpletons started making wild conclusions rather, and in a declaration that alluded to the detectives having seen the movie “Seven” one too many times, it was suggested that perhaps the killer cut or burned the skin off of the tips of his fingers; hence, no fingerprints. My theory was much simpler than that. It’s even simpler than the killer wearing gloves when committing his or her vile crimes. Perhaps the killer didn’t leave fingerprints because it didn’t possess them. Fingerprints are a human trait, and maybe, just maybe, the killer wasn’t human. One of the simpletons must’ve let that theory dance through their head at least once though. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be walking though the horrible 1970s art deco archway of Welton Junior High.

“Seems like a pretty normal school to me,” I commented as Mrs. Willeck led me through the orange halls.

“Oh, it is. We’ve never had anything like this happen before. It’s awful, just awful. Those poor kids,” she sniffled into her handkerchief.

“What kind of kids were they? The papers didn’t say much and some of the parents have refused to see me.”

“Refused to see a detective?”

“I’m used to it,” I replied. “So, the kids?”

“Well, they were loners but always in a group, if you know what I mean.”

“A group of loners, sure.”

“I guess they were part of that gothic crowd. You know, always dressed in black, always brooding over their
Twilight books.”

“Their what?”

“They are books. Well, they’re movies too. The kids can’t get enough of it.”

“Books about what?”

“I think vampires mostly. You know how kids are.”

“The four kids that were killed,” I started and Mrs. Willek whimpered into her hand. “Were they the only ones in this vampire-loving group of loners?”

“No, there’s a bunch of them.”

“I’d like to speak to them.”

“Of course. They’d all be on the playground for recess now. I’ll show you.”

She led me outside where the majority of the children looked like happy, healthy pre-teens, bouncing balls and chasing each other playfully. But when I spied a little girl dressed in black sitting on a stump with her nose buried in a book, I waved the Principal away and approached the girl cautiously. She seemed to take no notice of me; even when I stood in front of her, she didn’t look up from her reading.

“It’s not polite to stare,” she finally said.

“Sorry,” I replied as I sat down next to her. “You know, it’s also not polite to ignore people.”

“Sorry,” she said insincerely with a shrug.
“So, what are you reading: that
Dusk till Dawn book, or whatever it’s called?”

“It’s called
Twilight, and no I’m not. I don’t read those books.”

“Why not?”

“Because my retarded hamster could’ve written them,” she replied. “I prefer the classics.”

Harry Potter?” I joked.

Les Miserables,” she said mockingly as she shook the Victor Hugo novel in front of my face.

“I see.”

“So, are you here to investigate the murders?”

“What makes you think they were murders?”

“It’s more interesting to think they were. Besides, if they weren’t, why would you be here?”

“Maybe I’m just here for my own amusement.”

“You came to a junior high playground for your own amusement? That’s creepier than the murders,” she replied with her lip curled up in disgust.

“Don’t you think you’re kind of young to be reading such a heavy novel?”

“So, just because I’m a kid, I’m not allowed to read anything of worth?” she spat. “Just because I’m a kid, I have to read those piece of crap
Twilight books and pretend to be a vampire like those dorks that hang out under the slide?”

“What dorks?”

“The ones that Lila was friends with and those other three kids that got killed. They all hang out under the slide and pretend to be vampires. It’s ridiculous.”

“They’re just kids playing make-believe. What’s so wrong with that?”

“No, they’re not playing; they totally think they
are vampires. Except half of them are old-school vampires and the others are those stupid Twilight vampires.”

“What’s the difference?”

“Lots of stuff. Like, you know how vampires aren’t supposed to go out in the sun?”

“Of course.”

“Well, in Twilight, they can. When they’re in the sun, they don’t burn up. They just get
sparkly,” she said with a theatrical wave of her fingers.

“That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard,” I said flatly.

“That’s what I’m saying.”

“If you’ve never read these books, how do you know so much about them?”

“Because every one of those vamp-dorks does their book reports on them,” she said in exasperation. “If it was Bram Stoker’s Dracula or something, I don’t think I would care so much. At least that’s a story that stands on actual story telling.”

“Wow. Alright. Obsessive, moody, hypercritical. Let me guess: you’re going to be a writer when you grow up,” I said with a smirk, but the little girl in black looked none too amused.

“Look, if you are here because of the murders, you shouldn’t be wasting your time talking to me.”

“Why not?”

“Because I’m not one of those dumb vampire kids. I just like wearing black.”

“Why is that?”

“Because it goes with nothing,” she said dramatically.

“That’s deep.”

“Thanks. Now if you don’t mind, I’d like to get back to my book.”

“Just one more question before I brave the crypt under the slide: these kids that think they’re vampires don’t actually drink blood or anything, do they?”

“You’re asking that because the kids’ bodies were drained, aren’t you?”

“You sure do know a lot about all of this.”

“Standing on the outside of the circle gives you a fair view of the interior.”

“Well put. So do they drink blood?”

“They might. Some of them have hickey-looking bites on their necks sometimes, but I think that’s just all part of the act. I know they carry around tomato juice with “blood” written on the label, and a couple of times, I saw them carrying around red freezie-pops, and they were telling everyone that they just raided a blood bank. Pretty dorky if you ask me.”

“I agree.”

“Although,” she began, almost musically, “I wouldn’t be surprised if they did the hickey thing themselves. You know, for real. At least, Mark and Sasha.”

“Which ones are they?”

“The two oldest. They’re going together. She was ‘turned’ first and then ‘turned’ him so they could be together for eternity, or some such nonsense. Eternal lovers. I guess I can see the appeal.”

“Aren’t you kids a little young to be thinking about love? Especially eternal love?”

“No,” she replied matter-of-factly as her fingers danced across the pages of her book.

“Thanks, kid. You’ve been really helpful,” I said as I started to walk toward the playground equipment, but the little girl in black called after me.

“You know that’s where they were found, right?”


“The four dead kids. They found them under the slide.”

But even if she hadn't said so, I would have known it as soon as I drew nearer. The playground equipment was a large mass of twisted metal with several boards and poles for one to slide down from the varicolored beast, but there was one slide in particular that drew me in. For one, it was the only one capable of acting as a refuge from sun-fearing or sparkly-skinned pseudo-vamps, and two, I could smell the death wafting from it as clearly as a normal person could smell popcorn cooking from two rooms away. The stench of blood is a thick, almost metallic smell that, once your nose gets a hold of, the back of your tongue does too. I swallowed the disgusting film forming in my mouth and crouched down beside the slide to look underneath. Like something out of a cartoon, as soon as my head ducked under the slide and entered their secret lair, the youngest boy hissed at me through an oversized set of plastic fangs. I was naturally taken aback and instinctively wanted to hold my fingers up in a cross formation and shove it in the kid’s face. In my mind, I did just that. 

To read the rest of "Under the Slide", click the picture below. Also, don't forget to comment with your email address to enter the "Danny Marble & the Application for Non-Scary Things" illustrated ebook giveaway!


  1. Hello, Jessica. Happy Saturday!
    I'm still working my way though the Coffin Hop. Man! What a list! In any event, I'm sorry that it took so long getting here. There has been a lot of writing to sample this week; some good, some not so good. I'm very curious about what I read from you here today. Well done. I'll definitely check out more of your work.

    rapture22 at hotmail dot com

  2. I've really been enjoying reading your work during the Coffin Hop, Jessica!

  3. Thank you so much, James and Julie. It's definitely been awesome getting to know and read new authors. Viva la Coffin Hop!

  4. Cool story.
    Definitely want to read the rest.

  5. Hi Jessica
    Great story....I was quite disappointed when it stopped, I was that riveted.
    Going to go and read the rest...
    Happy Hopping.
    - Kim
    hopping from "Wrestling the Muse"