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Just The Beginning
“JEREMY! JEREMY! WHERE ARE YOU? CAN YOU HEAR ME?” Katherine screamed and twirled in circles, the trees of the forest blending together.
“Katie, I’m here! “ Jeremy came crashing through a thicket of bushes. He was covered in cuts and blood. Katherine ran to him and collapsed in his arms.
“Jeremy where were you? What was that screaming noise? And who was saying ‘die’? And that laughing?” She started crying.
“Baby I don’t know I just fell down a hill into a thorn bush.” He hugged her as she shook and sobbed uncontrollably.
“I don’t care what I heard, but it’s over, and we’re together. It’s over, it’s over.” She kept reassuring herself.
“Oh Katie, your wrong. This is just the beginning.” He said as he slowly, painfully, and joyfully made sure she screamed as he killed her.
“Hey boss, we got another missing person.” Paul Johnston said with a file in his hand.
“Name?” Clark Benson set down his coffee mug as he accepted the file.
“Katherine Kearney, 18, last anyone saw her she was out with her boyfriend two nights ago.”
“And what about the boyfriend?”
“Jeremy Swanson, alive, says the last thing he remembers is falling down a hill, then waking up covered in blood next to his dead girlfriend. Sir, wouldn’t our first suspect be the-“
“The boyfriend, yes Paul, I want you to go down to the Swanson’s and ask as many questions you can come up with. If he’s innocent, he better have a pretty damn good story as to why he woke up covered in blood next to a dead body.”
“Yes sir.” As Paul left, Clark put his head in his hands. This made three missing people this week in one small town. As he was resting his eyes, he heard someone start to scream. Frantically he looked around. The office was empty. It had been full of people just a second ago. The screaming seemed to come from everywhere. It was definitely a girl, he could tell as the screaming turned to pleading.
“PLEASE HELP! CLARK! HELP ME!”
“Where are you?!” He screamed and started running around the office. Suddenly, the screaming was abruptly stopped, and it was deathly silent. The lights flickered, and shut off. Clark couldn’t see his hand in front of his face. Then, loud and maniacal laughing erupted from directly behind him. He turned. He could feel their breath as they screeched their laughter. He was frozen still, he tried to move but he couldn’t. The laughter was so loud, and he could almost see the person an inch away from him screaming their hysteria in his face. Through the laughter, he could make out a word being drummed out by another person. A young man, repeating a word over and over again.
“die, die ,die ,die ,DIE!”
Clark woke up and fell out of his chair, the laughing still echoing in his head.
“Just a dream.” He kept saying, as if it would make the nightmare disappear.
Susan Kearney opened the door.
“Hello, Mrs. Kearney, I’m Clark Benson. I’d like to talk to you about your daughter.” Clark’s voice was dry, he always hated these things, he always felt like he was only making the family’s life more difficult. Also, the dream in his office was still haunting him.
“Of course, officer, come in.”
“Thank you, but actually I’m no officer, just a detective.” He said with a small smile and a chuckle. Susan’s mind was completely off of him though, and it was no doubt on her daughter. Clark walked in and closed the door behind him. He turned and jumped. There was a mirror on the hallway wall, and for an instant, he saw himself, drenched in blood and silently screaming. And then it was gone. Clark slapped his face, trying to get the dream out of his mind. He walked through the hallway into the kitchen. It was quaint, with normal this and that.
“Mam, first of all I want give my condolences.” Clark said as he sat down at a small table.
“Thank you. Katie was always so…careful. Careful about everything, she even thought a whole week about whether or not to go on that date with Jeremy. Would you like something to eat or drink?” It was like she was autopilot the whole time. She answered all of his questions cooperatively and calmly. She made him coffee, even though he had said he wasn’t thirsty. He asked her how close she was with Katie, how close Jeremy and Katie were, how long they’d been dating, among other things. As he was walking through the hallway, he turned around and tightly hugged the woman. He could tell she was surprised, but also grateful. She embraced him back started softly crying.
“It’s not fair.” She spoke.
“I know, and I can’t say I know what you’re going through, but I also lost someone about a month ago in a car accident.” They remained embraced for a good minute, and then he finally left.
“Boss! Boss!” Paul came running out of the building as Clark was walking into the office. “I went to the Swanson’s to ask questions and I called them before I got there and I was talking to Ms. Swanson and then a little girl started screaming in the background!” Clark stopped dead in his tracks. His dream. There was a little girl screaming.
“Was there laughing?”
“Yeah, how did you-“
“And someone saying ‘die’?”
“Did you already get the call? Anyway, the line got disconnected after the laughing and when I got there she was dead. It Jeremy, Clark. He was lying next to her covered in her blood.”
“We don’t know for sure it was him.”
“Well, yeah but it’s pretty obvious. He was the only other person in the house at the time, and he was the only one with Katherine.”
“We don’t know that, Paul.” Clark told Paul to go search the house for anything unusual, and Clark decided the next place he needed to look was the site of Katherine’s death.
Clark walked around the area of the forest where Katherine was murdered.
“Boss, you’re going to wanna hear this.” Paul walked over, holding his smartphone and reading the message.
“It’s from the guys who were examining Katherine’s body for clues to her death. It says her body was ripped in ‘neat’ shreds and her heart had burst. All of her major bones are shattered and her eyes are, um, reversed.”
“Yes, Jeremy- uh I mean, the murderer took out her eyeballs, and reinserted them backwards. It appears that the same thing happened with Mrs. Swanson.”
“Two people in one day. It was obviously the same person for both killings.” Clark gave one last look around the forest. As he was walking out, his foot got caught on a root. His face hit the forest floor.
“You okay, mister?” A boy came up and helped Clark up. Clark looked around, everyone had left. How? He looked at the boy. Slowly, he recognized him from his file.
“Jeremy Swanson? What are you-“ Clark jumped as he felt something crawl quickly up his leg. Then another something on his other leg. They felt like huge spiders. Clark started randomly beating where he felt the horrid things. Then another seemed to drop from a tree, land on his head and crawl down his neck under his shirt.
“Make it stop!” Clark said as he tried to kill them as more and more started biting him and cutting open his skin. He felt their hairy legs all over him. He saw Jeremy, with a blank expression.
“Oh, Clark, how can I make it stop? It’s only the beginning.” And Jeremy grabbed Clark’s head, and started screaming in his face. It was the same screaming in Clark’s nightmare. As Jeremy was screaming, his mouth seemed to grow larger and wider. Suddenly, to Clark’s horror, a furry tarantula the a little bigger than Jeremy’s head crawled its way out of Jeremy’s mouth, one leg at a time. It jumped onto Clark’s face, and slowly tore Clark to shreds.
“Boss! Clark!” Clark thrashed out in terror as hands shook him awake. He looked up to see Paul; and the rest of the investigation team.
“You okay, boss? You were screaming pretty loud there. Hit your head pretty hard on that fall.”
Another nightmare, Clark thought. What was with the reoccurring random dreams? One thing was for sure. Clark never went against a gut feeling. And dreaming about Jeremy Swanson killing him was enough to convince Clark that he ought to see Jeremy personally.
In the car, there was an awkward silence between Paul and Clark.
“How’s your head?” Paul asked.
“Fine, just a little bruise.”
“Look if you wanna go home or something it’s totally cool I can handle this case. “
“No, something is going on here that isn’t normal, and seeing Jeremy will clear things up and hopefully put an end to it.”
“But it seems like it’s only the beginning. If it isn’t Jeremy, then we have no lead whatsoever.”
Clark sat in silence. He kept questioning why the day mares were happening to him. Was it a warning to stay away? But how would the killer get inside his head? Or even know that Clark was the one behind the investigation. He felt as if he was naked in the dark. He had no protection and no way of knowing when the next vision of horror like that in the forest would happen again.
Clark and Paul walked up to the Swanson residence. As they knocked on the door, the father, Arthur Swanson opened the door. As soon as he saw Clark’s badge, he shook his head.
“Uh-uh, no way. I’ve already spoken to three different reporters and five cops. And don’t you dare say you want to talk to Jeremy, ‘cause he’s had enough judgment and criticism for a lifetime.
“Sir, we just want to end this case, and with all due respect, your boy is our strongest subject. He was the only one there for the murder of Katherine Kearney and Courtney Swan-“
“Don’t you dare finish that sentence. I can’t believe you would have the audacity to accuse a son of murdering his mother. Would you kill the woman who gave birth to you?”
“Sir, if you’ll-“
“WOULD YOU?!” As the father screamed, Clark’s entire vision seemed to shift. He saw the distressed father, then, a second later, saw Jeremy right behind him with a knife held up, poised to kill.
“No!” Clark shouted as he tried to stop the non-existent Jeremy from killing his only remaining parent. But there was nobody behind Mr. Swanson.
“I mean, no, I wouldn’t even think of killing my mother, but let us just talk to your son. If he’s innocent, then you have nothing to worry about. But if he’s guilty, do you really want a murderer in your house?”
The father’s eyes widened. He must have not thought of it like that. After a few minutes of his strange gaze, he let the men in.
“He’s in his room. Upstairs, first door to the left.” As Clark and Paul walked up the staircase, Clark saw the mirror hanging on the wall, adjacent to the staircase. He had yet another vision. But it wasn’t like the others. It wasn’t with Jeremy. It was with someone else. Clark stopped on the step he was on as he looked at the scene in the mirror play out.
“Everything ok?” Paul behind him asked.
“Yeah, I’m just seein things.” He continued up the steps into Jeremy’s room. Jeremy lay on his bed, staring at the ceiling. He was a tall, skinny boy. He had brown hair in a buzz cut and brown eyes that were filled with unspeakable pain…or unimaginable guilt. He looked at Clark as they entered.
“Are y’all more cops?”
“Detectives, we just want to ask you a couple questions.”
“Yeah, yeah, go ahead.”
“Mind if we have a seat?” Paul said, pointing to the small couch opposite the bed.
“Sure.” The boy continued to stare at the ceiling.
“So, Jeremy, what happened when you went out with Katie the night she was murdered.”
“We went to the park to watch the sunset, and Katie started freaking out. She thought someone was watching us. I kept asking her to point to who she thought it was, but she said she couldn’t. She only ever saw him out of the corner of her eye, staring at us. But when she tried to focus on the person, they weren’t there. I personally thought she was just trying to get my attention ‘cause she caught me checkin out this cute blonde. But it drove her crazy, and she told me we had to run away from the guy, into the woods. I took it as her cute way of trying to get away and be alone, so I followed her into the forest. Then, as we were in pretty deep, Katie turned around and said that the spot was good. I took her hand and as I did she looked behind me and started screaming. As I was turning around, whoever was behind me pushed me and I rolled down this hill and as I was falling I heard this crazy laughing. I slammed into a tree and woke up, covered in blood, next to my dead girlfriend. Someone pushed me down a hill, killed Katie, then dragged me by her and soaked me in her blood. What kind of sick monster does that?”
“I don’t know, Jeremy.” Paul said with sympathy.
“So you never saw the killer?” Clark asked.
“Nope, but I could recognize his laugh anytime. I dream about it.” Clark looked up from his notes.
“Dream? What’s in those dreams?”
“Someone laughing in my face, and someone screaming die. But its pitch black and I can’t see anything. And in this other one, I had spiders crawling all over me.” Clark sat in awe. He wondered if the dreams were somehow connected.
“But…in my most recent one, it was completely different. There was this man, and he had a welding mask on. He didn’t have a shirt on, and his chest was seriously burned. Like it had been burned a long time ago and it was the scars. He slowly came at me, and told me that this was just the beginning. Then he put me in this pool, and said it was going to get a little warm. The…” Jeremy shuddered. “The water started getting warm, and then hot, and then I couldn’t take it. I screamed out and it just kept getting hotter. My chest felt like it was collapsing on top of itself. I woke up and that’s all I remember.” Clark grabbed his head. The scene he had seen on the mirror just a moment ago, that was the answer.
“I have to go back to the office and check something.”
“But we haven’t asked all the questions.” Paul said.
“Then you stay here, I’ll only be a minute.” Clark ran down the stairs and got in the car. He had to check the files.
The office was empty; Clark rushed up to the top floor and to his desk. He sat down and opened the drawer where he kept the most recent murder files. He looked at each one, and every single one said the same thing.
Main detective: John Cassidy----Partner: Paul Johnston
Main detective: Russ Walton----Partner: Paul Johnston
Main detective: Clark Benson----Partner: Paul Johnston
It was Paul. All the files said that the only known suspect was killed a few hours after the main killing, and all of them had the same thing in common. Paul was the only one with them when they were killed. He made excuses for all of them, but the vision Clark saw in the mirror had determined his answer. He had seen Paul behind him, and then he saw a man with a welder’s mask and a badly burned chest sneak up behind Clark and slit his throat. Then, Clark realized what he had done; he had left Paul alone with Jeremy.
Clark sped down the streets to reach the Swanson residence. The door was half open, and as he walked through, he put his hand over his mouth. Arthur Swanson’s body was lying on the ground, in a pool of blood, but his head wasn’t attached to the body, as Clark opened the door fully, a line of string attached to the doorknob pulled something from the balcony above tumbling down. Just as Clark looked up, he saw it was the head of Arthur Swanson. It hit him square in the face and tumbled away. It was still warm with life and the blood spilling out of the neck got all over Clark. He then heard the sound of splashing water coming from behind a door. As Clark approached the door, the splashing sound stopped. He opened the door and saw it led to the garage. He saw Jeremy on the ground, half alive, with legs that were bent inhumanly. His chest was soaked with water. Suddenly, Clark couldn’t breathe. He reached behind him and felt the knife in his back. He fell to the ground. Paul came into view, holding a red gas can. It wasn’t water that soaked Jeremy’s chest, it was gasoline. And now Paul finished it off on Clark.
“Well well, Clark, look how smart you turned out to be. I must say though I’m a little disappointed. I mean you leave the guy alone with me, even though your guess is that I’m the killer. That was the stupidest thing to possibly do, and leave it to you to do it!” Paul pulled out a cigar and a lighter. He stuck the cigar in his mouth and lit it. “You know Jeremy,” he puffed out the first few circles of smoke and walked towards Jeremy, moaning on the floor. “You really shouldn’t smoke. What do we always say down at the office, Clark?” He looked at Clark. The happiest look was on Paul’s look. He was enjoying murdering an innocent person. “Smoking kills.” With that, he tossed the cigar onto Jeremy’s chest.
“NO!” Clark yelled as the cigar instantly caught the fuel and Jeremy screamed as his body burst into flames.
“I’LL KILL YOU! YOU GAVE YOUR LIFE TO PEACE AND HONOR AND LOOK WHAT YOU’RE DOING!” Clark screamed as loud as he could with the knife in his back.
“You think I’m doing this ‘just because’? See, the world is falling apart with war and fighting. We need peace; we need to build a new empire.” Paul started pacing the room, and Clark tried to reach his gun, tucked in between his belt and jeans. “But in order for a new empire, we must first rid ourselves of the old and corrupt one. So yes, Clark, I did give my life to peace and honor by doing this. I will kill everyone on this godforsaken community, and then the world will hear of me. A nameless fear. And with that fear, I will gain followers. Anyway, it will be nice to watch you burn, Clark. Listen to Jeremy scream, its music to my ears!” He started laughing. His insane laugh that echoed throughout the garage and Clark’s head. “Goodbye, Clark!” He pulled out his lighter and ignited it, as he did so; Clark pulled out his gun and shot Paul Johnston in the chest. The lighter fell in a puddle of gas which led to Clark. He quickly got up and ran to the fire extinguisher. But the fire had caught his leg already and was spreading to the rest of his body. He sprayed the white foam on his leg and the puddle. Lastly, he hosed down Jeremy, who had stopped screaming, and stopped breathing. Clark couldn’t stand on his leg, it was badly burned. He called the police to come get him and the bodies.
“Well Clark, looks like you’ll be in a wheel chair until the burn heals. And honestly, it doesn’t look like that’s going to be anytime soon.”
“Thank you, doctor.” Clark was put into an ambulance.
“Well that psychopath is dead, looks like this whole thing’s over.” The man in the ambulance said reassuringly.
As Clark was drifting off to sleep from the medicine, he jumped. He looked down at his toes and saw a big hairy spider about the size of his open hand.
“Whoa!” The man opened the back doors and swatted the spider out of the car. “I hate those things.”
Clark drifted off to sleep, and he didn’t have any dreams, but he did remember hearing a faint voice…
“This isn’t the end, Clark, ITS ONLY THE BEGINNING!” Followed by insane, maniacal laughter.