I pull up to Esmeralda's food truck as a young woman works on it. By the looks of it, she is closing it up. I get out of Lily and walk up to her. "Excuse me. Do you know where Esmeralda is?"
"Home. Enjoying her retirement."
"She retired? Did she sell you the food truck?"
"No. I am her daughter and after this last little bit of excitement with the clowns. Well... we had a talk. She is too old to be out here all hours of the day by herself in a food truck. It's far too dangerous."
"But. Her food is amazing. So many people love coming here."
"Thats nice but its not worth her safety."
"So. Is the truck the problem? What if she was in a building?"
"That would be better but we don't have the money for that. Few people become millionaires by selling tacos."
"What if that wasn't a issue? Would you and your mother be willing to hear a proposal?"
"What kind of proposal?"
"Give me some time to put something together. Oh, my name is Faust by the way."
I hold my hand out. The woman shakes my hand.
"Maria. You have two weeks.. We are putting this lot up for sale then."
"Plenty of time."
"I look forward to hearing from you."
"You will. Have a nice day."
I get in Lily and hit the speed dial as I pull away. "David. Hi. You got a min?"
I will not be denied the best burritos in the world.
My tour of errands and amends continues. I pick up some gumdrops for Gumdrop. The first thing I did today was pick up Betty. Just as I thought, she squealed with delight when she saw her new digs. The ride in Lily was equally thrilling for her. I may have did some power slides and doughnuts on the way. The thrill faded and she got right to work. The first thing on her list was to give me a list of things she needed for her office. Julian did a wonderful job with her crystals. The biggest piece will be at my place. That leaves four little pieces. We agreed that Julian will keep one piece and I made a slit in the padding of Lily's passenger seat and slid another piece in there. I put one piece in my parents house. That leaves one piece left. I have some ideas but I will figure out what to do with it later.
Not everything is roses. Its been days and no movement on my gremlin problem. To make things worse, Gumdrop is in a foul mood. I have a sneaking suspicion that he has tangled with the gremlin a few more times during the night while I've slept. Most mornings I find a room tore up from their incidents, evidence of their fights.
I swing by a hardware store and go in and look around. I'm not really buying anything. Just trying to get some inspiration for a gremlin trap. After about twenty minutes, I leave. Uninspired and no thoughts on what trap I need to catch the small apocalypse squatting in my new home. As I walk towards Lily, I see a piece of paper under one of her windshield wipers. I pull it out and look at it.
"We need to talk. Come to the park in twenty minutes."
No doubt it was meant for me but tough shit. If someone wants to talk to me, they can talk to me face to face. I crumble up the paper and throw it away.
My next stop is lunch. Since I am being denied burritos, I will have to make do with some Chinese. As I work on my beef low mein and steamed dumplings, I go over my shrinking list of things to do. When I'm done I head towards Lily, full and happy that I only have a couple things to do. Them its pot and games for the rest of the day. I reach Lily only to see another paper under her windshield. I read it.
"We really need to talk. Park. Twenty minutes."
I'll just wait until they have the balls to face me. Like the last paper, I crumble it up and throw it away. I drive away in dread. I don't know how this next thing is going to work out but I need to try. I pull up to the historic Full Moon Inn in the historical district. I stayed here once and loved it. This inn is well over two hundred years old and ghost stories and tales of the likes of George Washington staying there run abound. I take a breath and walk inside. Off to the side of the lobby is a sitting area. The centerpiece is the large couch in front of the fireplace. Sitting on the couch is the dude whose house I blew up real well. Thanks to betty's research, I know is name is Jayson and we went to the same high school. Jayson was a couple grades ahead of me so thats why I didn't recognize him at first.
Ok. Here we go.
I walk around the couch and sit down on the far end. "Hi."
Jayson looks over.
"Jesus. What do you want? Don't blow this place up. Its too cool."
I deserve that.
"I have no intention of doing that."
"Then why are you here?"
"To make amends."
"To me? Fine. Stay away from me and we will be cool."
"I have a proposal."
"Wait. What? You haven't even heard it yet. Just listen."
"I don't have to. The police have closed their case but since the report was vague, the insurance won't pay for the repairs. On the upside, the city has given me some money, enough to stay here until I figure things out. All because of you."
"I feel bad about that."
"My heart breaks for your plight."
Jayson gets up and starts to leave. I get up and run around the couch and block his way. Ill be goddamned if I don't fix this. Jayson sidesteps and tries to get around me but I put my hand on his chest and push him back. Not a small feat since he is over two hundred pounds but my kettle bell workout has made me stronger than what I look.
"Bitch. You gonna get knocked out."
"Two minutes. Give me two minutes.. after that you will never hear from me again."
Jayson looks at his watch and folds his arms. "Ok. Go."
Shit. I didn’t think I was going to be on the clock like this. The suddenness throws me off.
"Ok. Hold on. Ok. I know I'm not your favorite person right now. I fucked up and I feel sorry about that. I want to make things right. Look, here is the thing. I just bought the Gatsby house and it needs a lot of..."
"No. Its true. I need someone like you to fix it and bring it to the modern age." I pull a check out of my back pocket and hand it over.
"This is six months salary. The budget for the house is completely separate. Thats all you."
Jayson looks at the check. He has to be a excellent poker player. His eyes barely widen. "This is fake as shit."
"Nope. Tell you what. Cash it. If it clears you come to work for me. If it bounces, you will never see me again. The way I see it, I get my house fixed. You get a substantial nest egg to fix your place."
"This should be interesting. If this clears and start work on your house. I am the law. If it needs fixing, I do right not half ass it. Just so you know, I will have to subcontract a lot of it out. That is if want it done anything in this life time."
"I do want it done as soon as possible. Take a look around, draw up a budget and give it to me and I will get the money. Also, I know this place is cool and all but I do have a guest house. Its all yours. Rent free while you work."
"I suppose you want that fixed too?"
"Yup. Everything on the property. I do have one request." "Which is what?" "You take me up on my offer. We start over. Clean slate. My name is Faust by the way."
Jayson walks around the room a little bit. Clearly lost in thought. He walks back and shakes my hand. "Deal. My name is Jayson but you seem to already know that. When do you want me to start?"
"Tonight. Around six. Get a feel for the place."
Oh shit. Fuck me. It just dawned on me I offered the use of the guest house. I wasn't planing on that. Now I'm going to tell him about my special circumstances and guests. Shit.
"There is couple things I need to tell you before you start. I can tell you tonight. If you change your mind. Its cool. Consider the check a consult fee."
"Alright. See you at six."
"See you then."
I walk out of the Full Moon Inn in a far better mood. That went better than my last visit to a inn.
As I get near Lily, I see no paper under her windshield. Good. I don't have time for reindeer games. My relief is short lived as a white van slides to a stop behind me. Before I can act, the side door opens and two large masked men hop out and grab me and pull me into the van. I try to fight off my attackers but they are just too big. One of the men throws me to the floor and handcuffs me as the other puts a bag over my head. The van peels out, headed to a unknown destination. I try to keep track of what it does. Keep track of the turns but the van is moving too fast. It could be traveling fifty miles a hour or eighty. Not getting a sense of how fast we are going is just going to throw off the mental map I make in my mind. So I stop keeping track of what the van does. When the van stops, it feels like forty five minutes have passed. Once stopped, I'm dragged out of the van and taken into a house. One of the men takes the hood off and Kent Stone is standing in front of me.
"We need to talk."
"I don't see why."
I turn to the guard stepping towards me. "Don't. I will kick the shit out of your boss."
"My guards will keep that from happening."
"I’ll kick the shit out of them too."
I reply looking Kent in the eyes. My blood is boiling. One of the guards leans over to uncut me. I slightly turn my head and watch him. As he opens the first cuff, I flinch. The guard jumps back slams into the door behind him. I swoop down and pick up the key he has dropped. The second guard rushes me and I pick up a vase off of the small table by the door and smash it on the guards head.
The guards look at Kent. "Don't worry about him, worry about me."
Kent nods and they leave. I look at Kent as I undo the second cuff.
"You kidnap me and think your not getting hurt? You are about to find out how wrong you are."
"You can't do anything to me. You owe me."
"The hell I do. Not in this life or the next."
"I kept your identity a secret. The video of what happened at Oakmill has never been released."
"So? The video would just show a innocent girl escaping."
"A innocent girl that seems to be in the middle of many curious things. Oakmill, being seen with a black dog with glowing eyes. According to tales, it is a harbinger of death. There has been reports of a innocent girl matching your description killing a sizable satanic cult in the southwest. Your town was attacked by a murderous clown. Which was killed the second you return. Once I release my expose, many people will want to know who you are and seek to find you. I'm sure this unwanted attention from people like me will greatly change the way you work."
"What. Do. You. Want?"
Kent starts pacing.
"It wasn't supposed to be like this. I was on my way to a Pulitzer. I make a small mistake and get caught with a hooker and some coke ad its all gone. I needed some easy money so I start this fucking retarded occult website and become the inbread hillbilly source for news. That is if I can dumb down the stories to a four grade level. Thankfully my idiot fans are generous with their limited incomes. The night I saw you, things changed. None of this bullshit was supposed to be real. That changed that night. Now...now my life is in danger."
"From the owner of this."
Kent reaches in his coat and pulls out the bluish-grey mask I was looking for at the apple farm. I snatch it out of his hands and push him back with my free hand. "You took it? What the hell is wrong with you?"
"It was part of my investigation. The mask is a bonus. After the expose aired I was going to authenticate it and auction it off. Fucking weirdos collect shit like that."
"So what happened to your get rich scheme?"
"He happened. Somehow he found me and killed most of what was left of my guards. He has been chasing me since."
"He is drawn to the mask. Killers like him form bonds with their masks. The mask calls out to him. No matter where it is."
"They can do that?"
Kent’s face goes pale and slack jawed. "Oh. God."
Outside there is a explosion of screaming and gunfire. Kent and I run to the nearest window. Standing by the van is a man in green work clothes. Hood pulled up and his lower face wrapped in black cloth leaving only his eyes visible. He is holding a hand scythe, covered in blood and standing over the two dead guards laying in a pool of their own blood and intestines.
No doubt a fight is coming.
I look up and see not all the rafters are covered. There are holes in the ceiling and luckily there is a hole by the door. I jump on the small table and jump again. I grab a rafter by one hand and lay the mask on the rotting wood, hiding it. I drop down and push the table against the door. Kent looks at me.
"What do we do?"
"Since he is between us and the van. We are going to fight our way out."
"I can't fight."
I turn to Kent. "Then if I lose, you will die."
The killer slowly walks towards the front door. I lean forward and put my hands on the table and keep it against the door. Just as three hard knocks hit the door.
"Give me what is mine."
"Its not here."
There is a pause and I hear the killer whisper. "You..."
The killer lets out a primal scream and starts throwing himself against the door. I can only hold him back so long before the door flies open and sends the little table flying. The killer enters the cabin, swinging his hand scythe. I duck out of the way and counter punch. Not missing a beat, the killer tackles me and slams me hard on the floor. The killer raise his scythe and brings it down. At the last moment, I move my head to the side. The point of the side digs into the door. I wrap my arm around his and I slam my free hand into his elbow, breaking it. The killer leans back and howls. I take the opportunity to push him off of me. I wrap my hand around the scythe but the killer grabs my wrist. I use the scythe as a anchor and swing my body around and kick him in the ribs and by the sound, I break at least a couple of them. Air wheezes out of his body as I scramble on top of him and slam his head on the wooden floor several times until he stops moving.
I stand up breathing hard and covered in blood. i don't know how much time I got so I drag the killer's body to the heavy wooden bed and handcuff him to one of the bed posts. He will have to break the bed or chew his hand off to get out of the cuffs. I won't be here to find out. I assure you of that. I retrieve the mask and look at Kent.
"Aren’t we going to call the police?"
"No. He will just kill them. You will call in a couple days so the authorities can retrieve the bodies for a proper burial."
"What about the mask?"
"Im keeping it. When he heals, he will look for it again. Hopefully I will have enough time to make sure the next fight is on my terms so I can finish this once and for all."
"Better you than me. I just want to say thank you. I owe you my life."
I walk to Kent and grab his shirt and pull him closer. Making sure he gets a good look of my blood covered face. "You owe me far more than that."
I let go and grab Kent by the back of his shirt and push him towards the van. I fling him in the driver's seat and we are off. It takes over a hour and half to get to Kent's temporary safe house. After some physical "Encouragement" he hands over all the papers and hard drives that contain everything about that night at Oakmill. I burn the papers and put the hard rives and uses in the microwave and set it for ten minutes. We leave and Kent drives again and takes me back to the Full Moon Inn. I get out walk around to the driver’s side and grab his shirt again.
"In two days call the cops. Send them to the cabin to get your security guards bodies."
"What if the killer is there?"
"He won't be. He will get out of the handcuffs by tonight and be long gone before the cops show up."
"How do you know?"
"Unlike you I've done my research. Now leave. I suggest you keep a low profile and get as far away from here as you can. If you pop up again in any form and the killer sees you, he might get the idea of taking care of loose ends. Understood?"
Kent stares at me for a moment. "Yeah. I understand."
Kent pulls out and tears off into the falling night. I look at the Full Moon Inn.
While I washed the blood off of my face at the safe house so I don't look like the final girl in a horror movie, I'm still covered in security guard blood. I look at my watch and see its five thirty. I take out my phone and call the inn. I ask the receptionist for Jayson. After a few moments he picks up.
"Hey, its me Faust. Something came up. Can we switch to tomorrow? Same time?"
"Well since the check cleared. We can do it anytime you want."
I hang up and watch Jayson through the window hang up and go back upstairs. I apologize to Lily for the new mess I'm about to leave in her. I head home with the serial killer mask in the passenger seat looking at the night sky. No doubt calling out to the killer it is bonded to. Mr. Lore: Oakmill Calling