Screamscapes: Tales of Terror (9 page)

BOOK: Screamscapes: Tales of Terror
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“You know what? I’m done,” she said. “You can take your stupid book and you can stick it straight up you-know-where. I’m finished.”

She threw the receipt at him. It hit him square in his forehead and rolled under the table.

He stared at her, blinking and confused.

“I’m taking a shower and going to work,” she said, trying to calm herself down. “I’ve let you waste enough of my time,
my life
, already. We can figure out what we’re going to do about living arrangements later.”

Gerard felt the pounding in his head growing louder, faster.

Maazo Maazo, Maazo Maazo
, it thumped, each word stabbing like a knife deep into his brain.

The room began to sway around him, and Gerard saw the edges of his vision turn black, like he was being sucked into a dark tunnel. He held onto the kitchen counter to keep himself from falling.

Then his voice started talking, but he wasn’t trying to say anything.

“Sonia, baby,” he heard himself say, but his voice was different, like it was coming from somewhere else, somewhere far away.

Darkness swallowed him. He was passing out.

He startled back into consciousness, clawing at the kitchen counter to keep from falling. He was surprised to find himself clutching linen sheets and a comforter instead of a smooth granite counter top.

He wasn’t in the kitchen anymore, he realized; he was lying in his bed, nude, the sheets cool against his skin. A shower hummed in the master bathroom.

How did I get here?
he wondered.

“Are you going take the whole day off, or only the morning?” His wife’s voice echoed cheerfully from the stall in the adjacent room.

He jolted up in the bed and looked at the clock on the nightstand. It was almost noon. The shower stopped.

“You want to go grab some lunch with me?” she sang in a delighted tone as she danced into the bedroom, hair wrapped in a towel.

She shook her glistening naked hips.

“What?” he asked, confused.

“Oh, did I bang my poor baby’s brains out? Is that why you look so silly?” she baby-talked, and kissed him hungrily on the mouth.

He struggled to get away, but she jumped on the bed, straddling him.

“What time is it?” he asked.

She bounced up and down on his crotch, eager and playful.

“It’s almost noon. C’mon, take the rest of the day off. I’ll let you have your way with me for three more hours,” she begged, sounding hopeful.

“No, I need to get ready for work myself. Shouldn’t I save some strength for later?” he asked, trying his best to go along.

“You’d better, lover boy!” she squealed and rolled off him. She started getting dressed for work.

He touched his head, checking for sore spots.

“Sonia, did I hit my head when I passed out in the kitchen?” he asked.

“What are you talking about, silly? You didn’t pass out in the kitchen! Practically raped me in the kitchen, yes – and in the hallway and on the bed - but I wouldn’t exactly call that passing out.”

“So I didn’t fall down?”

She laughed at him, and slipped on her shoes.

“Only once, when you were trying to screw me
and
carry me down the hallway at the same time, remember? You might have to keep working on that move. Why do you ask? Did you hurt yourself?”

“No, I thought…never mind.”

“Well, don’t you think about it - keep on lovin’ me like that and we’ll never fight again, I promise. I’m just jealous of your keyboard. If only you fingered me half as much as you do that thing,” she laughed, only half joking.

“It’s okay,” Gerard mumbled. He still had no idea what was going on.

Sonia grabbed her briefcase from beside the dresser and headed for the door. She stopped and looked back at him, a wistful expression on her face.

“You know I love you, right? I’m really sorry about this morning – and I do hope you have good luck with your book. I didn’t read your finished manuscript, but it did look very nice, very professional. I bet you it sells a ton.”

“Thanks. Fingers crossed,” Gerard said. He felt more confused at that moment than he had in his entire life.

As soon as Sonia’s car left the driveway, he threw on some clothes and went into the kitchen to find the shipping receipt Sonia had thrown at him earlier. He fished it out from under the table, and headed for his study.

A thick ream of printed paper was stacked neatly in the center of his desk. He was sure he hadn’t printed anything so large in the last few weeks. Curious, he picked it up.

 

A cover sheet read in large, bold lettering:

 

Serenity’s Termination

A Novel by Gerard Faust

 

It was the title of his novel, the one he had thought he would never complete. The heft of it in his hands quickened his pulse. He flipped to the last page. Three hundred, fifty-two pages - like Sonia had said.

His book was real.

He had no recollection of finishing it, though; no memory of printing it, no idea how his book could have been completed.

Had he been working on his book the whole time, managed to actually finish it while banging away in a daze? He opened it to a random page and began to read.

The writing was a lovely flowing prose; its literary sophistication and tonal resonance surprised him. He had no idea he was capable of such elegance.

The beauty of the writing stood in stark contrast with the depravity of the content, however. Sordid, revolting images bloomed to life inside Gerard’s head as he read. Deeds so vile, he was filled with shame.

Gerard flipped through it, reading snippets here and there. It was foreign to him; the things he read barely resembled the book he had intended to write under the same title. Entire passages of the book had been written in an unknown language. Notes from the author encouraged the reader to repeat those passages aloud, in order “to fully appreciate the alliterative and musical properties they contained”.

Those tonal passages were followed by English-language descriptions of unspeakable brutalities, acts so profane and malicious Gerard was repulsed by even the possibility they had been written by his own hands.

One such section told the story of a man bound by wire to a luxurious, velvet-covered chair facing a golden vanity, complete with desk and mirror.

Beside him sat another man, dressed in white and holding a gleaming scalpel.

The man in white began to slice the skin from the bound man’s face with the razor-sharp scalpel, piece by piece - not saying a word, his face expressionless.

As the story told, the man bound by wire to the velvet chair was powerless to do anything other than watch his misfortune unfold in the vanity mirror before him. As each new sliver was cut from his face, it was placed beside the others neatly arranged on the vanity’s tabletop.

Slice after slice, his face was removed. After the last piece was cut away, the bound man saw that his former face had been transformed into a grotesque mask that stared at him from now-empty sockets, a bloody jigsaw puzzle of human flesh.

The short tale ended by telling that, once finished with the task of cutting, the man in white plunged his scalpel into the bound man’s heart, and then began to feast upon the delicacy he had so carefully prepared.

Gerard tossed the stack of pages away as though diseased. It slid across the smooth surface of the desk, knocking over the ink well Sonia had given him. The shipping receipt slipped off the desk, catching his eye as it fluttered to the floor.

His heart sank when he finally realized what the receipt meant. Had he left a note asking his wife to mail this profanity posing as his finished draft to his agent? Was he insane?

Panic surged inside him. He had to get that manuscript back; he had to destroy it. Were the stories in it even legal? What if the publishers had called the police? Was it possible he might, even now, be mere minutes away from being arrested and dragged from his home for mailing such obscenities?

Gerard sat down at his computer to compose an e-mail letting his agent know that someone was playing a prank on him, that what he was receiving was some elaborate joke that wasn’t funny.

He opened up a new e-mail and began typing
Jerry Rogers
, the name of his agent, into the address field but his fingers typed something different:
Maazo Maazo
.

He tapped the delete key several times and tried again. Still, the words
Maazo Maazo
appeared every time he typed.

“Maazo Maazo,” he muttered out loud. He felt a spark of energy as he said the words, and then his hands no longer belonged to him. They typed, dancing across the keyboard

Words scrolled across the screen:
Maazo Maazo. Maazo Maazo was me. Maazo Maazo is now we. Stop resisting and listen up. This is your one chance to make it, to get published, to be a big-shot writer. Do you want that opportunity? Then you had better take it now or else they’re going to say you are crazy and lock us both away.

The writing stopped.

His hand grabbed the mouse and opened up a word processor program. His fingers resumed typing.

Are you reading me Gerard?
The words taunted him.

I’m going crazy, he thought.

Say something Gerard. Say YES if you read me,
his fingers typed.

“Yes,” Gerard whispered.

Good,
the writing on the computer screen resumed, Gerard’s fingers dancing along the keyboard.

I want to be a writer, too. If you are successful, I am successful. I am trapped inside you. You don’t want me here forever. I don’t want that either. Your wife might be the only person that wants me inside her forever, judging from how many times she came when I fucked her with your sorry body this morning, – but that’s not important. Are you still with me, Gerard?

“Who are you?” Gerard asked.

Maazo Maazo, of course; you invited me in by name - don’t you remember? How good you felt when I first came into your body that day. I bet you felt almost as good as your wife did when I came inside her body this morning – but I shouldn’t brag. We can’t all be good lovers - or good writers, for that matter. But at least I can make you look good, and you can enjoy my success, too – if you listen up.

“What do you want?”

The same as you: to be a famous writer. I want to be the world’s MOST famous, most widely-read author in history. You know why? I want to see the world, I want to travel. I want to come and go as I please anywhere throughout humanity. But the only way I can do that is if someone invites me in, like you did.

Gerard tried to move his fingers as they hovered motionless over the keyboard. He could not regain control.

His fingers resumed typing, and he read.

You know most books are written by demons, right? Words and music are the best way to get someone to let you directly into their head. The demon who writes for Stephen King, now that’s one lucky fucker. Once people read one of his books, he’s in for good - he can go right in and out of them from then on.

I wish I knew that demon’s secret. I only know how to get someone to let me in if they say one of my chants out loud, and that’s hard to get people to do. Dr. Seuss had it down pat, but I’m not sure I’ve got children’s books in me. Horror is the way to go – and you helped me write my masterpiece.

Gerard’s cell phone began to ring.

Answer it,
his fingers typed.

He stared at the phone, motionless. His agent’s New York number flashed on the caller I.D.

His fingers pounded the keys furiously:
Pick up the fucking phone!

Before Gerard had even decided to answer, his right hand grabbed the phone, clicked the answer key, and held it up to his ear.

A man’s voice was on the line.

“Hello? Hello?”

Gerard’s left hand typed again.

Say hello or I will make you kill your children.

“This is Gerard,” he croaked.

“Gerard, you okay?” the voice on the phone asked. “Jerry here. Got your manuscript, and I have to say…I didn’t know you had it in you! That was a ballsy move, changing the whole story at the last minute, but you pulled it off!”

Aimless House Publishers loved the changes, absolutely
loved
the book, Jerry had said; but there was a tight publishing schedule.

The book would make it to press if all editing was complete tomorrow, ready for the printers. If he couldn’t have it ready, kiss it good-bye until this time next year – that is, if the publishing editors still loved it as much
then
as they did
right now
.

Jerry was quite emphatic: they probably wouldn’t.

Would a six-figure advance be enough motivation to have it done in the next twenty-four hours? They could always negotiate his asking price on the movie rights later, Jerry said.

The real Gerard was gone by that point in the conversation; but Maazo Maazo took over for him, finalized the details, and started to work on the requested revisions.

Sonia got home around three-thirty. She had dropped the kids off at their grandmother’s house for the afternoon, eager to resume their love-making session from earlier.

She found Gerard at his desk in his study, where he was typing faster than she had ever seen him type before.

She slid a single bare leg through the doorway and wiggled it seductively, calling to him.

“Hey there, loverboy,” she cooed, “the kids are at grandma’s. Can I interest you in, oh, I don’t know – a little fucking-my-brains out? Please?”

He ignored her. She stuck her head into the study.

“Pretty please? I really, really need you to do me like you did before,” she pleaded.

Gerard continued typing. “Get the fuck out,” he said flatly.

“But Gerard, I need you so bad!” she begged.

Gerard’s body stopped typing and turned to face her. His eyes were black and full of anger.

She stepped back, startled.

“Seriously, Sonia, get out,” he demanded in a tone she had never heard. “Get out of the house and leave me alone. Stop wasting my time and let me finish writing my goddamn book.”

Gerard’s body turned away from her and began typing again.

She started to walk away, but reconsidered. She crossed her arms in defiance and dropped the sexy voice.

“You are
not
going to talk to me that way, do you understand?” she said.

“Get out,” he repeated.

“I will destroy that computer
and
your stupid-ass book if you say that to me one more time. Say it -
I dare you
,” she hissed.

Gerard turned and hurled his cell phone at her with all his might. It missed her head by only inches and shattered against the wall, broken pieces clattering to the floor.

That was the final straw. She was pissed.

“You want to play rough?” she screamed, and charged him. She grabbed him by the shoulder and whipped him around.

“Who do you think you are, you limp-dick, worthless fuck? The ride you gave me today is the only - and I do mean
only -
thing you’ve done right in your entire pointless life. You can get out of my house and out of my li…”

Her rant cut off mid-sentence. In a single fluid motion, Gerard jumped to his feet, grabbed her by the throat, and slammed her head onto the desk. The computer monitor shook as she struggled and kicked, trying to free herself from his iron grip.

He picked her head up and slammed it down again, hard, squeezing her throat harder. Her eyes bulged grotesquely as she strained to breathe.

Gerard’s black eyes settled on the decorative dip pen, the gift she had given him; it lay on the desk next to her swollen face. He scooped it up and stabbed the gold-plated nib deep into her carotid, grinding it in a circular motion as deeply as he could before pulling it back out in a spray of blood.

Sonia’s body went limp, and he released her. Her lifeless body slid off the desk and flopped on to the floor in a heap. He surveyed her awkward position with amusement for a moment, and then shoved her away from the desk with his foot.

He read the inscription on the pen: “
To the best man who ever wrote his way into the story of my life; make sure it has a happy ending! Love, Sonia
” Blood dripped from the nib; seeing that elicited a chuckle.

“Let me get back to writing your happy ending, my love,” he whispered to the corpse on the floor.

As he turned back to his work, he noticed Gerard’s face reflected on the screen. For a fleeting moment, Maazo Maazo felt a new sensation run down his spine; he suspected it was pity.

He shrugged it off and began to type.

A few hours later, Gerard’s finger hit the
send
button on an e-mail, the final draft attached.

It was finished.

Gerard awoke later that day. He was in his bed, again not knowing how he had ended up there. This time, though, the linen sheets and comforter were covered in a mess of dried blood.

He found Sonia’s battered body on the floor of his study, the shattered bits of his cell phone crunching underfoot.

Something inside him broke when he realized she was dead. He sat down beside her at his desk, in a state of shock.

He sat motionless - slumped over his computer, eyes staring off into space, blood-encrusted fingers perched above the keyboard - waiting for Maazo Maazo to communicate with him again, to tell him what he should do.

But his fingers never moved.

He was still there, gaunt and catatonic in front of the computer, several days later when the police broke through the front door of his home. He didn’t move as they approached him, guns drawn, didn’t even blink as they gingerly worked their way around the festering corpse of his wife to apprehend him.

Gerard offered no resistance as they hog-tied his hands and feet behind his back. He chanted the words “Maazo Maazo” over and over as they dragged him through the front yard to a waiting police car, while his neighbors watched with puzzled faces.

The book was perfection, sent to the press just in time for an immediate release. The publishers were so impressed with the commercial possibilities of
Serenity’s Termination
they doubled the size of the first edition run.

But a savvy reporter made the connection between the book and the author’s arrest, and the lurid story made headlines everywhere. It was juicy news: the new novel,
Serenity’s Termination,
foretold how the author killed his wife in gruesome detail.

Media outlets ran the story for days. Millions of people ran to their nearest bookstore to buy a copy of
Serenity’s Termination
before it could be pulled from store shelves.

The relentless publicity helped the first edition sell out in a matter of days. After much debate, the publishers decided to keep the book in print, declaring in a public statement that it would serve as a “fine moral warning to the public” - a decision undoubtedly influenced by the fact that the book was on track to become the biggest seller in publishing history.

Gerard Faust, despised wife-killer and infamous best-selling author, found himself incarcerated in a maximum security prison. Cut off from the outside world, he had no idea that his book (or as he called it, “Maazo Maazo’s book”) had become an international sensation.

Gerard only knew that Maazo Maazo was gone, leaving him with nothing but a dead wife, a cold prison cell, useless and ill-gotten fame, and the very real possibility of a death sentence.

Gerard passed time in his cell watching an endless procession of interchangeable guards shuffle around a desk down the cell block. The shift changed every twelve hours, but one thing stayed constant: the disgust and hatred they communicated in every glance at him. Anyone within earshot let him know the whole world wanted him to burn in hell - not only for murdering his wife, but for bragging about it in his book as well.

Death, they said, was too sweet for a demon like him.

One day several weeks after his arrest, a guard walked up to Gerard’s cell and showed him the book he was reading.

Gerard was surprised to see his own name in print under the title:
Serenity’s Termination
.

“I’ve been reading your book, you sick fuck,” the guard told him matter-of-factly.

Gerard stared at him, sure that
anything
he might say would be the
wrong thing
.

“Maybe even a sick fuck like you can write one hell of book,” the guard said while flipping through the pages, searching for something.

BOOK: Screamscapes: Tales of Terror
10.54Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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