Prompt Day #238: Write about a character who discovers that his best childhood friend has become a serial killer…and realizes he’s the cause of it.
Blast from the Past
“Ted?….Teddy Wallace?” I looked up from my beer and there he was. Sean Murphey. Sean and I had been best friends when we were kids. He moved away in junior high and I never heard from him again.
“Sean? My God, how are you? It’s been years.” I said holding out my hand in an invitation to sit with me at the booth. He sat down. I signaled the waitress to bring two beers over.
“How’ve you been man?” he asked. We made small talk while the beers came. He’d been living in Denver the last twenty years working in a mattress factory. I told him I’d stayed here working for my dad’s hardware business. He’d never married; same as me. He’d just moved back to town after getting laid off. His grandparents still lived here and he’d moved in with them. We caught up as if we’d never been apart, as if we hung out here at this bar every weekend. We had the same sense of humor and found ourselves laughing at my stories of whatever happened to this one or that.
About three beers in, he leaned across the table conspiratorially and grinned.
“Hey, you remember that game we used to play; Haunting?” I paused. The word ran through me like an electric shock. I hadn’t thought of that since we were kids. Haunting we called it. Man, it’s crazy to think about now, but we used to sneak out late at night and break into people’s houses. The game was how much could we do, get into, eat or even on occasion take pictures while the families slept. Thinking back on it, it’s unbelievable the things we got away with.
“Oh Christ, yeah. That was crazy, man.” I said shaking my head. His grin widened.
“Well, I never stopped.”
“What? What are you talking about?” I asked. Was he seriously telling me right now that he continued to break into people’s homes all these years? Was he saying he still did? He gestured to me to lean in closer.
“Only now, I call it hunting cause when I get inside, I pick my prey and I kill ‘em while the rest of the family sleep.” He winked. “I’ve even killed a wife as she lay beside her husband!”
I felt my jaw drop. I couldn’t believe it. He had to be joking or drunk. I chuckled nervously.
“Good one, Bud.” I downed the rest of my mug.
His smile dropped off his face. “You think I’m lying?” he asked. I looked at him, really looked hard at his eyes. No. He wasn’t joking. Shit. My heart was pounding, but I wasn’t afraid. I was excited. I was almost jealous. All of the feelings from those night time intrusions came flooding back. That free feeling like you’re invisible, no one can stop you. It was exhilarating. I could feel my dick getting hard at the thought of it. I imagined standing next to a bed. A woman, blonde haired curled across her face, laying on her side with her back to her husband who has a pillow bunched under his head turned away from her. She has a teal colored tee shirt on. It looks so soft. I reach out and touch it. My hand runs up onto her face and I brush her hair off her face, combing it back with my fingers. She starts to stir. I grab her hair in my fist and quickly with the other hand, I snap her neck. I abruptly put a stop to the sick fantasy because I almost came in my pants.
I realized I was still staring at him. I opened my mouth to say something but I had no idea what to say. I wasn’t sure how I felt about finding out my best friend was a killer.
“How many?” I asked finally.
“I don’t know, maybe twenty over the years. You gotta be careful, you know.” The waitress dropped off a bowl of peanuts and he grabbed a handful. “So you wanna go with me; like old times?”
I did. God help me, I did. I told him I had to think about it.
“You do that.” He said and pulled his wallet out, laid a fifty on the table. “You let me know when you’re ready to team up with me. The things we could do together. MmmMm” He said and walked out.
I walked home alone, letting all the memories flood back. The things we did. The pets we occasionally left dead on the living room floor or the hamster we put into the disposal part of the sink but did not turn it on. We let the family do that themselves. Who knows if the thing escaped or not, but in our minds, we imaged the screams of horror as blood and fur came exploding out. I hadn’t thought of that phase of my life since who knows when.
I let myself in the house quietly, Mom and Dad would be sleeping. I decided to practice my skills. I slunk upstairs and snuck into their room. I stood over my mother, watching her breathing. I reached out. My hand was shaking and I willed it to stop. I touched her and she jumped. She sat up, her eyes wide.
“Ted! What’s wrong? What are you doing?” I had no words. I didn’t know what to say so I stood there. “Ted. You need to talk to me.” Dad was up now too.
“I ran into Sean Murphey tonight.” I said as if we were sitting at the dinner table talking about our day.
“Oh my God.” Mom said. She looked at Dad. “You better call Dr. Dewey”
“Why do we need to call him?” I asked. I didn’t want to see him anymore. I spent half my life locked up in his hell hole. But for the last five years, I’d been out. I’d been well.
Dad was dialing the phone. I grabbed his wrist and squeezed. “Put the phone down, Dad.” He did.
“Now, I don’t see what the problem is, here.” I said, trying to sound calm although right now, I wanted to kill them. “I simply went out for a few drinks, ran into an old friend and came home to tell you.”
“Honey, Sean Murphey does not exist.” My mom said as if I was a child.
“What the fuck are you talking about?” I said through my teeth.
“You made him up.” My dad said. “You see people that aren’t there, you hear voices, Son. And Sean Murphey is one of your hallucinations.”
“That’s a lie” I said, but my brain was getting all foggy. I remembered the pets we killed, but I couldn’t remember which one of us did it. It seemed I could remember a version for each of us. And the woman in the teal shirt, it could have been me.”
“Teddy, you were in the hospital for a long time but you’ve been so good.” My mom was crying. “I thought we were done with Sean.”
“He’s real. He’s been killing people, a bunch in Denver and maybe some between Denver and here. Look it up, unexplained murders. People waking up to find their spouse dead with a broken neck. That will prove it.” I said but even as I said it, I was seeing the people in my head. The victims, the layout of their bedrooms, their dead limp bodies as I snuck back out the door.
“I told you!” My dad said to my mother. She was sobbing now, head in her hands. I wrapped my arms around her.
“Shh” I said hugging her. I smoothed her hair down, and snapped her neck. Dad jumped up off the bed and grabbed the nightstand lamp. He threw it at me and it glanced off my face. I picked it up and swung. I swung it over and over and over. All I could see was red, but I thought it was my rage. I didn’t know it was my dad’s head until it was much too late.
I went downstairs and sat on the couch. I needed to think about this. What was real? Was Sean just part of me? Was this all a crazy dream? Maybe Mom and Dad were the hallucinations? I rubbed my face. It was sticky from all the blood. I thought about washing it off but then I really wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between my mind and reality. Instead I sat down and waited.
Someone would come eventually. It would either be Sean or Dr. Dewey and I would have my answer.