Chapter 16: Crapsville
Mandy watched as Dudley refilled his little cup with water from the tap. He was going through a lot of water. She figured it was his calming mechanism and had to fight back telling him to get a larger cup, so he’d quit getting refills. She turned and saw Maggie sitting on a table they used for preparing food before rushes. She was biting the inside of her thumb, the web-like area between the index finger and thumb. It was a nervous habit she had developed as a child, a result of an angry father. Her dad was always blowing a fuse over something. Even during sleepovers when Mandy was hanging out with her. He’d go off about them playing too loud, or the food her mom prepared being boring, or how messy his life was and how it was always someone else’s fault. And respect. He was always demanding respect.
Mandy took her hand from her mouth and held it between hers. “Look, Maggie, I know you’re nervous. Scared. We all are. But if you don’t stop gnawing at that hand, you’re gonna start bleeding.”
“Yeah,” Maggie said, “I know. It’s stupid.”
“No, it’s a coping mechanism,” Mandy said. She hopped up on the table next to her and put an arm around her. “We all have them. Dudley’s drinking water like it’s going out of style, or he just really wants to pee for an hour. And even Lucas. No doubt in that locked office, he’s got something he’s doing that’s making this all a little less—whatever the hell it is.”
“It’s Crapsville,” Maggie said. “Pure Crapsville.”
Mandy smiled and nodded. “Nailed it.”
The office door unlocked and slowly opened. They all stopped what they were doing and watched as Lucas came out, half leaning against the wall as he did so. Dudley was standing in the middle of the kitchen floor, cup in hand. He swallowed his previous sip. Lucas was clawing at the inside of his left forearm with his nails. He had been doing it for some time by the looks of it, as he had clawed into his skin and the blood was running down his arm, through his palm, and off his fingertips to the floor. He noticed Dudley first and stared at him for a moment.
“I’m hungry,” he sniffled. “I’m so damned hungry.”
He slowly turned his head and noticed Mandy and Maggie for the first time since stepping out. Mandy saw that his eyes were bloodshot, and a tear of blood dropped from the side of his right eye. He snarled at them. And he began to breathe heavier and heavier as he looked at them.
“Lucas,” Mandy stepped down from the table. “Are you OK?”
“Look at you,” he said. “Stupid whores. The whole lot of them.”
“What are you talking about?” Maggie said as she dropped down from the table. “We saved your life! We’ve been fending off these—whatever they are.”
He hawked up a ball of spit and spewed it on the floor between them. Mandy noticed it was a mixture of saliva, blood, and a tooth. “It’s mine,” he said through gritted teeth.
“What is your problem, dickweed!” Maggie yelled and started to step towards him, but Mandy put an arm out stopping her.
“You can’t have it!” he yelled and lunged from the wall at them, but lost balance and slammed into a wall before them.
Dudley jumped, dropped his water, and ran out of sight around the corner.
Mandy started to nudge Maggie backwards. “To the freezer,” she whispered to her.
“I saw it first!” Lucas yelled and lunged a second time. Mandy pushed Maggie aside and tripped Lucas up with her feet. He went reeling into the table they had been sitting on.
Mandy and Maggie took off running for the freezer around the corner at the back of the kitchen. They could hear him clumsily getting up and yelling profanities. Still going on about how It was His. Maggie pulled the heavy, stainless steel door open, and stepped in. Mandy grabbed a kitchen knife as she ran by it. She pulled the door quickly to its latching point. She looked and saw that Maggie was all the way in the back of the freezer. She was chewing her thumb again. Mandy didn’t say anything this time.
She stepped back away from the door and watched it, waiting for him to open it. Ready with the knife to stab him when he did.
“I don’t have a weapon!” Maggie screamed. “Dammit!”
The door shook with a thud. Maggie jumped.
The door shook again.
But it didn’t open.
Mandy recalled the confused look on the man earlier in the evening. He couldn’t remember how to open a door. Like all the basic functions of a man had left him, and he was only left with the primitive kind. Hunger. Aggression.
“Maggie, he doesn’t know how to open the door anymore,” she said.
“Earlier, when the man came at me from the parking lot,” she started, “he didn’t remember how to open the door. But he knew he was hungry, and he was really pissy about it. Lucas is hungry and pissed, and more aggressive than usual. And now, he can’t open the door. He’s turned into one of them somehow.”
The door began to shake repeatedly without ceasing.
“He’s losing his mind,” Mandy said. She knew that’s what had happened to Lucas. He had turned into a savage, primitive beast. Mindless, ignorant. In need of only one thing: food and It. What was It? “What do you suppose he was babbling on about? He kept making out like we were a threat to him. That there was something he had and we were trying to take it from him. What did that even mean?”
“The motivations of Lucas never made sense to me before,” Maggie said. “They sure as crap don’t make sense to me now.”
There was a dampened pop from outside the door, and the rattling of the door stopped. There were a few more pops, and then silence. Mandy and Maggie looked at each other, not sure what to make of it.
“Gunshots?” Mandy asked.
“Maybe?” Maggie replied.
They waited in silence. No more pops. No more rattling.
Mandy took the knife in her right hand, ready to thrust it forward if someone came at her. She slowly reached out with her left hand to the handlebar.
“Don’t do it,” Maggie whispered.
“We can’t stay in here forever,” Mandy said. “We’ll freeze to death.”
Maggie stomped her foot in frustration. “Fine.” She bit into her hand.
Mandy took the cold handlebar in her hand and slowly began to unlatch the door, but then she felt it was being done for her. She let go and stepped back. The latch opened, and the door slowly opened. She stepped forward with a thrust of the knife, but stopped when she saw a leather covered arm reach around the door to pull it open. The door opened and there stood Sheriff Elderton, behind her was another woman she didn’t recognize.
“Where is he?” Mandy asked.
“He’s dead,” Elderton said. “Wanna come out of there?”
Please subscribe to our newsletter to learn about new publications of stories and more.
About the Blog
Stories, excerpts, writing tips, guest bloggers, writing prompts, and more. A place to share and grow as a writer. Feel free to subscribe, submit something for the blog, or dive into the comments.