Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Vulnerable (A Gravedigger Story)

Genre: Horror

Note to readers: This story is a sequel to two previous stories, "Tight Spaces" and "Flat Tire", which you can also read for free here on my blog. To access these stories, use the blog archive listed on the right-hand side of the main page.

Daniel Skye

Kaylee Thompson or Kay as her friends liked to call her, was free at last. Free from the oppressive rule of her father. Free from the house that imprisoned her for nineteen years. Free.
Between after-school jobs and the occasional babysitting gig, she had saved up enough money to afford either college tuition or an apartment. She chose the apartment.
While searching for places that fit her tight budget, Kaylee had spotted an ad in the local paper. Someone was renting out a guesthouse in their backyard. Eight hundred dollars a month for a one-bedroom that included a living room, kitchen, and bathroom. The place was equipped with cable, internet, and all utilities were included with the monthly rent.
She met the landlord, a local cop named Patrick Downey. This fact made her feel secure amidst the reports of dead and missing people. The most recent being a girl named Georgia Nelson who was last seen leaving a strip club where she worked.
Westlake was a pretty safe community until The Gravedigger came to town and caused a stir. That’s what the local media dubbed the unidentified killer whose trademark was burying his victims in makeshift coffins.
Among those discovered recently were a couple named Amelia Walsh and Todd Brennan. Brennan’s throat was slashed before he was buried. Walsh was buried alive, and died of asphyxiation before the cops could locate her. Now Georgia Nelson was missing, no doubt buried in some unmarked grave that was now covered by the first blizzard of the season. The snow had hindered the police’s search, and if they did find Georgia Nelson, it would no doubt be too late.
That being said, Kaylee felt safer in Downey’s backyard then at home with her father. For all she knew, her father was The Gravedigger. He certainly fit the profile of a serial killer. He was bossy, controlling, prone to violent outbursts or verbal assaults.
Woodrow Thompson was a spiteful man who got stuck with Kaylee when his wife walked out on him for another woman. Determined to punish Kaylee for his wife’s misdeeds, he subjected her to years of harsh punishment and unfair treatment. She wasn’t even allowed to leave the house except for school and work until she turned eighteen. Even then she was given a ten o’clock curfew on weekends.
My house, my rules, Woodrow would repeat. It was his mantra. He tried to contact her several times since the move, but she refused to return his calls or tell him where she was living now.
Kaylee adored the guesthouse, which was built to resemble a small cottage. And she appreciated the fact that she’d have a separate entrance and her personal life wouldn’t interfere with Downey’s. She moved her stuff in before the first snow had even thawed.
The first night was bliss. She ordered Chinese takeout and blasted Kelly Clarkson music, stayed up watching movies until three A.M. It was a pleasure not having to abide by the rules or standards set by another. All Patrick Downey expected her to do was pay her rent on time, be respectful of the property, and take care of her own trash and recyclables.
Her friends came over on the third night to scope the place out. Hannah was gaga over the place like Kaylee, while her friend Vicki was clearly jealous and thoroughly inspected the guesthouse, hoping to find some flaw to nitpick. When she found none, she settled for complaining about the noise stemming from Patrick’s garage.
It was true; in the short time Kaylee was there she discovered Patrick was a bit of a home improvement man. He spent all his free time in the garage; hammering, sawing, buzzing, and drilling away. But it was a small price to pay to escape from the clutches of her father.
“What’s that faint smell?” Vicki sniffed the air. “Smells like bleach or something.”
“Ignore her, Kay,” Hannah said, rolling her eyes. “She’s just jelly.”
“What’s the rent like?” Vicki continued to pry.
“Eight hundred bucks a month.” Vicki looked ready to blow a gasket at that one. And Hannah had to bite her upper lip to stifle her laughter.
Her friends stayed for pizza and she invited them to spend the night, but they insisted on a rein check. Hannah had a date and Vicki just wanted to get out of there before she started seething.
That night, the racket from Downey’s workshop continued. The insufferable noise disturbed her sleep all night, and Kay decided she would politely approach the subject in the morning.
His car was still in the driveway when she knocked on the front door. When he didn’t answer, she tried the bell. And when that didn’t work, she walked over to the garage.
She knocked again to no response. But the garage door was unlocked and Kay couldn’t help but peek inside to see what he was working on. Inside the garage, Kay saw his latest project.
It was a wooden coffin, built to match her size, right down to height and width. Kaylee’s first instinct was to bolt from the garage, until she heard footsteps rapidly approaching. She gasped as she felt the warmth of Downey’s breath on the back of her neck.
“How long can you hold your breath?” he asked.

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