While He's away - Part Four




As Jen sat there in her blood stained wedding dress, she could hear him in the kitchen clunking about. She wasn’t sure how long she had been out for before but it must have been a while if he had had time to rearrange all her furniture. She looked at the dining table, all laid out for dinner. Great she thought. She had previously been full of hope that she could escape somehow but now those thought seemed ridiculous. She looked down at her wrist, now free from the cord. She thought it looked pathetic, a slender, bruised, tiny wrist. What was she possibly going to do against someone like him? And she felt weak. . . so weak.

As she sat there her tired mind started to wander. And it wandered to a place that it often went to when she was feeling alone or afraid. The first time someone had truly made her feel safe.

Hours before her first date with Mick, Jen was in her parents living room pacing the floor.

“why hasn’t he called?” she picked up her phone and turned the screen on. . .

No messages.

No missed calls.

Damn. She tossed the phone onto the couch and picked it back up straight away to make sure it wasn’t on mute. It wasn’t. Damn.

She was sure he would call or text. He had seemed so keen when he had asked her out. He had come straight over to her and asked her if she would like to go out with him, and no one had ever been so forward before. Of course when he told her his name was mick she said “oh mick. . . Mickey, like mickey mouse!” and had then felt like a complete idiot.

No wonder he hasn’t called she thought. Why am I so embarrassing.

The phone rang from the couch.

“Ok, ok. Come one Jen, just act normal.”

Jen sat on the couch and took a deep breath.

“Hello?”

“Hi Jen.” Said a familiar voice.

“Hi. . . Dad is that you? What’s the matter? I thought you were in the house?” Jen looked confused.

“I am in the house Jenny.”

Then why are you calling? I’m waiting for a call. It’s important”

“I know! I just felt sorry for you sitting by your phone for hours waiting for him to ring. Me and your mum can hear you pacing around down there.”

“Dad! Hang up. . . now! He might be trying to get through. And it hasn’t been hours. I’m not even pacing, I’m just breaking in my new shoes.”

Jen’s dad laughed so loud she could actually hear him above her through the ceiling.

“Dad. I can hear you laughing up there. Right I’m hanging up now.”

Jen threw the phone back on the couch. Arsehole she thought. She could still hear him upstairs laughing. She pushed a pillow over her face and screamed.

        Hours later Jen was standing with Mick outside the entrance to the Funhouse at the Halloween festival, and she was terrified. Mick had picked her up at six and as a surprise he had taken her to the old recreation ground down by Ovingdean road where the yearly freak-feast was held. She had told him she couldn’t wait, but now she was outside looking at the flashing neon sign she wished she had told him the truth.

Her father had brought her here when she was six and she hadn’t dared come back ever since. She remembered how excited she was when she had first been here. The smell of hot dogs and roasting nuts. The sounds of the other children and grown-ups all laughing, and carnival music floating through the air.

        Her friend Stacey had visited the day before and had told her all about it at school. Stacey said that the best part was the funhouse because things JUMP out at you and give you a fright. She said it was full of clowns and skeletons but they weren’t really that scary. Jen couldn’t wait, but as she approached the funhouse with her father she started to feel uneasy.

        The funhouse was right at the end of the park and it seemed empty. The rest of the park had been packed, but as they got closer to the funhouse she noticed that less people were around. Jen thought maybe they were all scaredy-cats or something and didn’t want to go in. As she got closer and closer she gripped her Father’s hand tight as they both walked across the litter strewn grass toward the sign.

        There was an opening to a long tunnel that led to the funhouse and above the tunnel was a large sign. The sign had huge colourful neon letters that were shaped like clowns and the sign flashed on and off,

“FUNHOUSE. . . FUNHOUSE. . . FUNHOUSE.”

        Jen felt nervous. The clowns didn’t look fun. Each one had large wild eyes and large grins, and inside each grinning mouth were razor sharp teeth.

        Jen’s father knelt down beside her and brushed her hair behind her ear.
“ok Jen Jen you wait hear for a sec ok? I’m just gonna go and pay for the tickets.”

“Ok Daddy” said Jen and shined a big gapped-toothed smile at him.

She watched him walk over to the ticket booth and even though he was near she was filled with dread. She looked back toward the main part of the festival and wrapped her arms around her sides. It seemed as if her and her dad were the only people at the funhouse, and there was a large distance between them and the mass of people in the main part of the park.

        The laughter that she had heard before sounded different from a distance. . .

It sounded like screaming. And not screams of joy, but screams of fear. Real fear. She wondered how Stacey had been brave enough to go in the funhouse at all. I can be brave too she thought to herself, but didn’t quite believe it. Standing on her own made her feel nervous so she ran across to her dad who was paying for the tickets.

        She tugged on his jacket and reached for his hand.

“What’s wrong honey?” he said, looking full of concern.

“Nothing Daddy, I’m just a bit cold.”

He picked her up in his arms and gave her a kiss on the forehead.

“I’m just waiting for the man to find some change and then we’ll go in. Your’e not too scared are you? We don’t have to go in you know, we can go on the tea cup ride if you want.?”

“Teacups?" Stacey said disgusted, "That rides for babies Dad. I’m six and three-quarters. I’ll go in the funhouse.” She smiled a big brave smile at him.

He laughed “Okay, Okay, the Funhouse it is, I bet it’s not even that scary anyway.”

They both smiled now and Jen started to feel a bit more confident.

“Oh it is scary,” a thick gravely voice said from behind the counter. “It’s VERY scary for little girls.”

The man stared at Jen with a strange smile and he looked horrifying. His sweaty long hair covered the right side of his face.

“Well I’m not a little girl” said Jen in her best grown up voice, “I’m nearly seven years old.”

The man chuckled but it sounded more like someone clearing phlegm from their throat.

“Oh seven, well. . . tell that to the clowns when they’re grabbing you from the darkness!”

To emphasise this, the man leapt forward and reached out for Jen with both of his arms. He got so close that Jen could smell him.

Jen screamed and buried her face into her dad’s shoulder.

“Hey come on, what’s wrong with you?” said her father, “She’s just a kid for Christ’s sake!”

The man just stood there laughing at them both and as her Dad carried her toward the funhouse Jen watched the man from over his shoulder. He was still smiling and he gave her a little wave that sent shivers down her spine.

When they reached the funhouse Jen said that she wanted to walk and her father put her on the ground. They both looked up at the sign, held each other hand and headed toward the entrance tunnel. There were thick black plastic sheets covering the entrance and they pushed them aside and walked into the darkness together.

Inside it was pitch black and Jen nearly lost her balance from being disoriented. Her father clutched her hand and told her not to worry. . . but she was worried. She thought she could smell the man from the ticket booth and was scared that somehow he was watching her. Up ahead she could see a small light and could hear the sound of music playing. She didn’t care what was in the funhouse. She just wanted to be out of this darkness.

        When they were about halfway down the tunnel Jen realised that she was no longer holding her fathers hand. She froze with terror.
“Daddy? . . Daddy?”

There was no answer. She spun around with her arms out trying to get a feel for him but she just grasped handfuls of nothing. She tried to find the light at the end of the tunnel but she couldn’t see it anymore.

“Daddy? Where are you?” She was starting to panic now and she could feel tears welling up in her eyes.

Just as she thought she saw the light again she felt large arms cover her face and she was lifted into the air. She tried to scream but the arms covered her mouth and she just heard a pathetic muffled whimper.

It’s that man, I knew he was bad, where’s daddy? she thought, and before she could scream again she could feel something else against her face like a bin bag. Light flashed into her vision and her and the person holding her tumbled onto the ground.

“Daddy? What happened why did you leave me?” she was crying now.

“Jen Jen, I was only gone for a second sweetie, I got my foot stuck on something and you kept walking. I heard you scream and ran to find you but It was so dark in there. . . I picked you up but we must have ran straight into the side of the tunnel. We're ok though see!” he smiled.

“You were gone for ages Daddy.”

“I wasn’t sweetie, it just felt like that because you were scared, the whole thing lasted about two seconds.” He picked her up and gave her a cuddle. “And beside there’s nothing to be scared of in the dark. . . Okay?”

Jen nodded. But she thought that there was something to be scared of in the dark. Something to be VERY scared of.


Twenty years later and Jen was still scared of the dark, well, not the dark really but scared of being in total darkness. Fears came flashing back to her as she stood outside the funhouse with Mick. She didn’t think she should be scared this time. She liked Mick, she knew she had only known him for the best part of five minutes but there was something about him. . . something safe.
She looked up at the neon sign, and the same clowns flashed on and off with the lights. I should just tell him I’m scared, she thought, surely he wouldn’t laugh? He seems nice.

Mick walked over to the entrance and lifted the black plastic sheet across to reveal the tunnel to the funhouse.

“Wait Mick,” Jen smiled nervously and ushered him to stop.

“What’s wrong? Are you Okay?” he looked concerned.

“Yes. Well no. . . I came here when I was a child and I was terrified of the tunnel. I never even made it into the stupid funhouse. It’s just the dark, I don’t like being in the dark.” Jen frowned “I bet you think I’m stupid hey?”

Mick reached out and took her hand.

 “Do you trust me” he said. . .

Jen bit down on her lip and thought about it.

“Yes. . . yes I do”

“Then there’s nothing to be scared of”

And they walked into the darkness together.

                                   ....................................................................................

   The comforting memories of Mick making her feel safe drifted away and Jen snapped back to reality when she saw steaming food being ladled onto the plate in front of her.She wasn’t sure what the food was but it stank. She tried not to vomit and turned her head away from whatever it was. There was no way she would be able to eat it anyway with her mouth in the condition it was in.

The man whistled and scurried around the other side of the table to fill his plate. He seemed overjoyed. Every few seconds he would turn round to check she was still there.

“I’m still here, you bastard” she whispered and was about to pull a face but thought otherwise.
The man just grinned each time that he looked at her and continued sloppily placing the food onto his plate. His plate was full of what looked like some kind of meat and Jen started to wonder just where he had got it from.

“What is that?” Jen asked nervously. She thought she might as well try and say something to him. She had watched a programme about people that get taken hostage a few weeks ago and one of them had said that she survived because she tried to become friends with her captor. The psychologist, or whoever she was said that it was harder to kill someone if you develop some kind of bond with them. Jen thought that made some kind of sense.

The man was clearly surprised and almost ran over to Jen. He crouched down and pointed at her.

“What is it?” she asked again.

He tried to speak but no sound came out of his mouth. Just more foul breath. He tapped the side of his head and started making strange whining sounds.

You can't talk can you? thought Jen, and she had an idea.

Jen looked at the man and tried to hold his gaze, when she had his attention she slowly said “Meat. . . meat. Is it meat?”

The man nodded his head violently.

Jen pointed at the man’s mouth. “You say . . . meat. Mmmmmmm.”

The man looked like he had been asked the hardest question in the world, his face was distorting and shaking as he pressed his lips together. “Mmm mmmm”

Jen nodded enthusiastically “uhhuh”

“mmm mead” said the man “mead mead”

“You did it!” Jen tried her best to smile, “You did it.”

The man leapt up and spun around shouting “Mead” as he did. Jen thought that maybe she would have a chance if she could just keep him occupied. Mick would be back in the morning and as long as she could make it till then she would be ok. As soon as she heard him open the front door she would start screaming and then he would come and save her.

The man suddenly stopped spinning and ran out of the room. The second he was gone Jen started to try and untie the cord around her left wrist. It was on much tighter that the one on her right and she thought that cutting it off might be her only option. She looked at the table to see where the knife was. It was close. She would probably be able to reach it without having to shuffle the chair forward.
Jen tried to look over her shoulder to make sure he wasn’t coming back but it was no use. Her neck wouldn’t move. She tried to twist from her waist but the back of the chair restricted any movement.

Right. . . Jen thought, come on just do it. He’s not coming back yet. This is your chance.

She twisted her wrist and flicked the piece of cord onto her lap. Reaching over she tried to grab the knife, but it was further away than she thought.
Damn, come on. She stretched as far as she could and her fingertips just managed to reach the tip of the blade. Aware that the man may come back at any moment Jen started to panic. Beads of sweat ran down her face and she was becoming exhausted. In her head she could imagine him running down the corridor finding her with one hand free. Then he would beat her again like he had in the bedroom.

“I can’t do it, I can’t reach…”

There was a sound in the kitchen and Jen pulled her hand back. Her nail must have caught the serrated tip of the blade and the knife slid toward the edge of the table.

Shit. Don’t fall off, please don’t fall off.

Jen sat motionless and watched as the knife slowly span closer to the edge. If the knife fell now he might hear it hit the floor and even if he didn’t he would notice it wasn’t on the table. Then he would check Jen’s hands and find that one of them was free. And then she would be in trouble.

The knife was slowly coming to a stop. Half way through each turn half of the knife was hanging off the edge of the table. Jen closed her eyes.

And then the knife fell.

Bracing herself, Jen prayed that it wouldn’t make a sound, but of course it did. The knife made a clunking noise and even though it was quiet, it was the loudest sound she had ever heard.

The second after the knife hit the floor she could hear him running. His heavy feet smashing off the hallway floor. And he was screaming. He was running so fast that when he stopped in the doorway he actually skidded across the floor. In one hand he was holding a rolling pin from the kitchen and he looked livid. He stood surveying the room and when he saw it was empty he came over to Jen. He pressed the end of the rolling pin into Jen’s forehead and stared at her with accusing eyes.

“It was just car going past. . .just a car. Everything’s ok. I’m still here see. Were friends still aren’t we.”

The man looked at her with a blank expression on his face.

“Fends?”

“Yes yes friends!” Jen was actually laughing now. He wasn’t going to notice the knife!

The man stood up and started to smile “Fends! Fends. Fends.” He started with his strange clapping but as he went to spin around he stopped and stared down at his feet.

“What’s the matter? Jen asked nervously, “Friends? What is it” Jen followed the man’s line of sight and saw that underneath one of his feet was the steak knife.
He looked down at the knife and then back at Jen. He looked genuinely shocked as to how the knife got there.

Jen shook her head, “No! no it wasn’t me, you must have knocked it off before when you left. I’m stuck here. Jen nodded toward her hands and feet. “See?”

Laying the rolling pin on the table, he bent down to pick up the knife, but instead of picking it up he knelt on the floor and his hands went to Jen’s left foot. His large fingers fumbled over the cord to make sure it was still attached. Then he moved onto the other foot. . . it was secure. He was about to check her hands when he noticed something lying next to Jen’s foot
.
A piece of cord was now running through his fingertips, and it didn’t take him long to figure out how it had got there. He looked up at Jen and stretched his arms out to her neck. . . but he wasn’t fast enough.

Jen had the rolling pin in her free hand and she brought it down as hard as she could against his face. His large nose shattered as it made impact with the wood. Blood gushed down his face and he reeled back in pain. He was now right next to Jen and he was desperately searching his face with his fingers as if trying to stop the flow of blood. Jen slammed down the rolling pin again, this time onto the back of his head.

His large body stopped moving. A hand reached out for Jen’s face, and then he dropped to the ground.


For the Final Part please click HERE