Author's note: This is a spin off the Jeff the Killer 2015 reboot by K. Banning Kellum. His remake can be found here. Both Jeff and Jane are considerably different than their original incarnations. I am well aware that 'Jane Arkensaw' is a plagarized version of the original character but I was unaware of this at the time of writing this. I am honestly not sure what to do at the moment as I have actually been unable to find what the original surname was of the character. If anyone can help me with this particular issue, please contact or comment with some information or advice.
And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.
The poster read:
Everlast Fall Masquerade 2017
October 30 at the Hayden Memorial City Center
3450 US-190, Everlast LA, 70448
Doors Open 6:00 pm
Male and Female Masks Provided. Unique Masks Encouraged.
The bottom half of the poster featured two theater masks, one laughing and one weeping.
Comedy & Tragedy. Jane thought. They don’t even look like masquerade masks...
Standing in the hallway of Everlast High School, Jane read the poster and reread it, trying to reassure herself. She had lived in the small town for nearly five years, and she had dreamed of attending the Fall Masquerade as a High School Junior. She had snuck in years earlier, but this was her year.
“Hey JK, what are you doing here?”. Jane looked over in the empty high school hallway. Melissa was walking towards her with the new girl at school.
“Hey Mel,” Jane called, turning to face the two. Melissa was a dark brunette with with a snide smile on her face, knowing that Jane hated what she was doing. The girl next to Melissa was blonde, and she looked unsure of herself. Jane was slightly shorter than both of them, something something for which Melissa and a few others had mocked her to no end, and her black hair extended to the crease in her back. She addressed the new girl. “I’m Jane.”
“I’m Tracy,” the new girl said, apprehension obvious in her petite voice. “I moved her like, a week ago but I haven’t started school yet. Too late in the semester. Melissa’s been showing me around.”
“Melissa likes to show new girls around. She did it for me when I first moved here.”
Melissa gave Jane a knowing look.
“JK, why are you at school? Class ended two hours ago. Plus, you told me that you still haven’t bought your dress for the Masquerade.”
“JK?” Tracy asked blankly, clearly confused. “Are those, like, your initials or something?”
“Uh, no no.” Jane stammered. “My name’s Jane Arkensaw. It’s…’JK’ is an inside joke.”
“Just remember, Jane’s the golden girl who lays golden eggs.”
“Don’t listen to her,” Jane said firmly. “She’s just messing with you.”
Melissa shook her head.
“So, seriously, Jane’s the queen of Everlast, USA. That’s why we give her our lunch money every day.”
Yeah, I wish. Jane clutched the manilla envelope in her hand a little tighter, praying that they wouldn’t ask about it.
“Lunch...money?” Tracy spoke slowly and looked like a deer caught in a car’s headlights. Jane remembered when she herself was that lost when she moved to town. Out of pity she tried to change the subject.
“How do you like the town?” Jane asked, trying to be enthused. “Some parts are kinda weird if you’re new.”
Tracy shrugged and looked at her feet.
“Well...” Tracy started, pausing to consider if she wanted to ask the question. “Did Jeff go to school here? Before he started killing people?”
Melissa’s amused look vanished, and she gave Jane a serious look. Jane glanced at her quickly and then looked back at Tracy.
“Don’t talk about that,” Jane said quietly. Her father hit her whenever she asked about Jeff the Killer. “It’s really taboo.”
“Taboo?” Tracy repeated, incredulous. “Like, seriously?”
“Tracy.” Melissa said flatly. “Listen to Jane on this one. You’ll be better off.”
Melissa looked back towards Jane. She tried to resume her playful attitude, but she looked disturbed. Jane wondered how Melissa’s parents had disciplined her about the Jeff taboo. No one ever talked about it, but Jane assumed it was violent for everyone.
“So, the other thing.” Melissa said, her tone a little less joyful. “You still haven’t told me why you’re at school after hours.”
“Don’t change the subject!” Tracy said stubbornly. “I want to know why you two look so freaked out all of sudden!”
“Don’t ask stupid questions, Tracy.” Jane felt spiteful just thinking about the subject. “You’ll live longer, trust me.”
Tracy seemed taken back, her eyes widening in surprise.
“Jesus, Melissa was right.” Tracy said flatly. “You, like, really are a bitch. I think I’ve seen enough of the school for today.”
“Tracy, just go wait by my car.” Melissa sighed, rubbing her temples. “Okay?”
“Fine,” Tracy said. Jane and Melissa watched her turn the corner of the hallway.
“I really hope she doesn’t get lost on the way to the parking lot,” Melissa said, trying in vain to lighten the mood.
“Did you really call me a bitch behind my back?” Jane asked Melissa.
“In my defense,” Melissa said. “I wasn’t too loud.”
“You know I just don’t want her to talk herself into a bad spot. Why didn’t you tell her before?”
“Well, first of all that’s like telling someone not to think about elephants. Second, telling her not to talk about it would count as talking about it. I was sort of hoping she wouldn’t ask.”
“Of course she would ask, Melissa. She’s going to get herself into trouble if she asks the wrong person the wrong thing. Let’s just try to keep that from happening to her, okay?”
Jane realized Melissa was staring at the envelope she was holding.
“A late assignment. Mr. Dawson’s staying late today and said he’d accept it.” She had practiced the lie enough to say it without shifting her gaze or stuttering
Melissa looked like she didn’t believe it.
“Uh, Jane, that’s a terrible lie. It’s no secret you don’t do homework because your dad funds the school, and no one uses envelopes for homework. Why are you lying to me?”
“Mr. Dawson’s an asshole, and I need it to pass. My dad and I aren’t speaking.” Jane said confidently. “If I don’t do this, I can’t go to the Masquerade.”
Melissa glanced over at the poster Jane had been looking at earlier. She blinked twice and seemed to consider what Jane said.
“I call bullshit,” she said sternly.
Melissa seemed like she could always see right through Jane. It didn’t even matter that Jane had practiced the lie. Even then, Jane felt like Melissa was the only one who cared about her. But Jane was sick of being taken care of. At the end of the day, she needed to make her own choices, and she had to do what she thought was necessary.
“Look, it has to do with my dad and I really don’t want to talk about it.” Jane didn’t lie, but it was still a redirect.
“Did he hit you again?”
Jane appreciated that Melissa never learned to beat around the bush, but hearing her ask that hurt a lot.
“He hasn’t done that in years,” Jane said timidly.
“Really?” Melissa’s tone was bitterly sarcastic, “You’re acting like someone just hit you.”
Jane didn’t know what to say to that. Her lips tightened and her face felt numb. She said nothing as the first tears began to well at her eyes.
“I can’t help you if you don’t talk to me. I’m not gonna stand here and watch you cry, okay?” Melissa’s voice was sympathetic but became hard. “Fine, JK. Fine. Be that way.”
Melissa hated watching people cry, and Jane knew this. It was a cheap trick, but after Melissa left her she washed her face in the bathroom and proceeded to Mr. Dawson’s classroom.
Mr. Dawson took a deep, nervous breath as he watched Jane enter. He opened his mouth slightly to say something, but he only exhaled. Jane lightly placed the envelope on the desk in front of him, and Mr. Dawson watched it like it was the only thing in the world. He slowly grabbed it, watching Jane closely with suspicion. His eyes shot open when he opened the envelope.
Mr. Dawson involuntarily licked his lips and put the pictures back into the envelope. He swallowed.
“You...you’re quite beautiful, Jane.” Mr. Dawson offered, trying to smile.
“Can you just go fuck yourself already and give me the cash?” Jane spat back, nodding towards the envelope of pictures. “My face isn’t on any of them, but if I see any scans or digital copies around, I call the cops first thing. I’m still 17, so it’s still child porn.”
Jane felt nauseous when she realized she was talking about herself.
“So you do know how to do your homework. Interesting.” Mr. Dawson laughed, an amused grin spreading across his face. “I assure you, I’m not sharing these with anyone.”
Jane nearly threw up in her mouth but she forced it down. It was sickening that this man was actually supposed to be her teacher, to teach her how the world worked. She would never be able to listen to him or look at him without knowing what he had on her. But it was too late to stop now, so she counted the money Mr. Dawson passed to her.
Mr. Dawson let out a smug laugh.
“They almost shut the school down after those boys died. Now I can afford something like this.” Mr. Dawson sighed, satisfied with himself. “Your father really did bring this city back from the brink, Jane.”
“He could have you fired,” Jane shot back. “I could ask him to do that.”
“He only blackmails women, and I’m sure you won’t ask him to make an exception for me.” Mr. Dawson held up the envelope and gestured towards the empty seats. “I’m amazed many of your classmates pay more attention to you than they do to me. Like I said, you are very beautiful. To be frank I doubt they’d need your face all to recognize you. See you in class, Jane.”
She numbly placed the money in the black wallet that belonged to her mother. Her mother’s old driver’s license stared back at her, the last picture Jane had managed to save. Jane had seen the resemblance grow the longer she carried it, but her mother always smiled, a quirk Jane lacked. She placed the wallet in her pocket.
As Jane closed the door behind her, she heard a sound that petrified her. It was instantly recognizable, but she began to shake as she understood what she was hearing.
She heard the sound of a zipper.
Jane ran to the bathroom and threw up. Tears ran down her face as she cried and made her way out to the only car in the parking lot, her own.
Melissa was there waiting for her.huJane ran to her, crying, and tightly hugged Melissa before telling her everything she had just done.
“I’m sorry,” Jane sobbed. “I’m so stupid.”
Melissa said nothing as she took Jane’s keys and helped her into the passenger seat. Jane saw her gather the money from the parking lot ground and go back into the school. She emerged holding the envelope Jane had carried to Mr. Dawson.
“Don’t ask,” Melissa said. She entered the car and tossed the envelope into Jane’s lap. Jane tore the pictures to shreds, scattering pieces on her lap and the floor of the car.
Melissa drove Jane through the old part of town. It was the area hit hardest in the town’s economic downfall after Jeff Woods killed five people, not including an unborn child. Jane could tell that Melissa was taking her home, but Jane noticed they were close enough to an important spot.
“Turn here, please.” Jane said, her voice still rough.
“Huh?” Melissa blinked and did as Jane said. Jane guided her along the old roads which hadn’t been repaved in years. The various shops and stores were decrepit and those that weren’t already closed had various signs on them. For Sale. For Rent. Her father had told her that they moved to this town to try to rebuild it. Jane always felt like she was just along for the ride.
“There.” She said quickly.
“Oh good grief...” Melissa groaned, seeing the store Jane pointed to. She parked across the street on the desolate road. Dusk had come. “The costume shop? Really, Jane?”
Jane undid her seatbelt and stepped out of the car. “I’ll explain in a second, I just have to do something first.”
Looking down, she saw that she still had shreds of the photos clinging to her pants. She brushed them off and watched the wind carry away the indiscernible fragments away. Jane crossed the street. The store next to the costume shop was an abandoned video store. It was empty now, devoid of shelves, seats, or anything. In front of the old video store was a rusting bike rack. It was brown and most of its limbs had been torn apart, likely from people using tools to steal the bikes people had there. Jane shivered as she passed it.
The dress in the glass display case was etched into Jane’s mind. It left nothing to the imagination. Two straps were slung around the mannequin’s shoulders, holding the dress up. It hugged the mannequin’s hips closely, and draped around the figure’s legs before ending short of the knees.
Jane walked into the store and saw the owner, Edwin Dresher, standing behind the counter. Dresher’s face was wide and red, and he was portly. His large arms rested on the counter. He watched Jane closely with his wide face and thoughtful eyes.
“Arksensaw’s pretty little girl back again,” Dresher said, grinning. “You get the money?”
Jane felt her gut tighten as she tried to speak.
“I...I need to-” Jane started, but Dresher interrupted her.
“I told you last time,” he said, thoroughly annoyed. “Money. Or get out.”
Jane grunted and reached into her pocket, pulling out mother’s old wallet. She removed the credit card behind the license and tossed it onto the counter.
The name on the card was DRAKE L ARKENSAW.
“Kid I don’t know when you got a sense of humor but I told you once, I’m not taking your dad’s money. I told you to earn it yourself and come back. Until then, the dress ain’t available.”
“Fair enough.” Jane said, putting the card back into her wallet.“But you wanna know something? I just tried to do something really stupid because I really thought I wanted to buy the dress you keep in the window. And then I found out that I have a friend that I will never deserve and she saved me from making a terrible mistake. The only reason I’m here is because I wanted to tell you that your dress is not worth the trouble.”
“Well shit,” he raised an eyebrow and his face looked interested. “Who’s this friend of yours?”
“It doesn’t matter, we’re done. Have a nice night.”
Jane turned and started walking to the door but Dresher called after her.
“You got a cross around your neck this time!”
Jane stopped dead in her tracks and instinctively wrapped her fingers around the silver cross necklace she wore. A chill ran through her spine.
“What about it?” She asked, still facing away.
“You believe in all that?” He sounded like he was grinning. “Heaven? God?”
“Smart girl.” Dresher almost sounded relieved. “Hope for both our sakes they’re not real, then.”
“They’re not.” Jane said disdainfully. She wanted to tell him it was none of his business, but something clicked inside of her. No one ever asked about her mother or the necklace and Jane always felt like they already knew, somehow. For some reason, she turned around and looked Dresher in the eye, still clutching the cross. “My mom wore this. She believed, and it didn’t help.”
“She dead, then?” Dresher asked, his eyes widening as if he knew he was in uncharted territory.
“Murdered.” Jane inhaled a deep, pronounced breath of fresh air. Just saying if out loud helped, and a strange peace found her as she spoke the words. “Jeff stabbed her to death in front me.”
Dresher blinked. His mouth fell open and hanged there as he blinked twice more.
“I’m sorry.” He said quietly. “Kid...Jane. Do you want to know why I hate your dad’s guts?”
“I don’t care what you think of my father. And to be frank…” Jane realized she sounded a bit like Mr. Dawson. “My dad probably doesn't care either.”
“Fair enough.” He raised an eyebrow. He might as well have been laughing at her. “Daughter of a businessman. Tell you what. You hear me out, you can borrow the dress for your little prom.”
She laughed at him.
“I'm not a therapist.”
“Not stupid either.” Dresher leaned his weight against the store counter. “Don't want the dress, you can go.”
Jane looked through the glass pane door and saw Melissa in her car. Her eyes glanced over to the display case and found the dress again. The temptation got the best of her.
“Fine.” Jane said, feeling like a hypocrite. “Talk.”
“See that bike rack outside?”
“That's where it happened. My piece of shit grandson walked out of this store with his good for shit friends and they got their asses kicked when they tried to steal those boys’ bikes. Deserved it too in my opinion, but sure as shit those boys messed with the wrong kid.”
Jane cleared her throat.
“You're talking about Jeff.” Her voice carried caution.
“If you think not talking about him’s gonna keep him away, maybe I was wrong about you.” Dresher reached over to the corner of the counter and grabbed a bottle of alcohol, taking a hearty swig. “Not gonna bring back my grandson Randy or my little girl Bridgette.” His face twitched and he took another drink before placing the bottle on the counter. “Won't bring back your mommy.”
Jane waited several seconds as the tension brimmed.
“What's your point?”
“Point?” Dresher shook his head. “All it would have taken is a couple of bike locks and none of this shit would have happened. With all your dad’s money, he still hasn't bought any bike locks.” Dresher reached under the counter and pulled out a pack of bike locks. He smiled sadly. He sounded like he was about to start crying. “Want one?”
“Is this a joke?”
“Yeah!” He threw the bike locks at her feet. “It’s a joke this town has heard pretty often. Knock knock. Who’s there? Mr. Arkensaw holding your goddamn job!”
“Stop it.” Jane said. Now Dresher laughed at her.
“Ignoring it’s just gonna make it harder for you to live down. He came here sayin’ he’d clean up everything, and they’re so drunk on that money they actually believe that. He made this town worse, Jane! Only a matter of time before kids start killing each other again, and thanks to your dad I think the next killer’s just gonna be worse than Jeff!”
“Stop!” Jane yelled. She almost felt like her body was malfunctioning.Dresher silently walked past her and removed the dress from the display case mannequin and placed it on a hanger. Jane saw him reach his arm out with the hanger holding the dress.
“Deal’s a deal.” He said quietly.
Dresher watched the girl’s wild eyes dart between him and the dress. She took it, her hands trembling and she walked out towards a car. Dresher glanced back at the bike locks he’d thrown onto the floor and picked them up, glancing briefly back at the bike rack outside. The memory played in his head and the guilt resurfaced. He dropped the bike locks onto the floor and retrieved the handgun under the counter. He had only kept the store open this late because he did not plan to ever open it again. The car was still across the street, so he turned and faced the back of the store before he pointed the gun in his mouth.
Good kid, that one. Dresher thought, beginning to sweat. Might be the saving grace this town needs.
He closed his eyes and silently prayed for her until he thought the car had driven out of earshot.
Jane’s phone vibrated with a text message as Melissa drove the car towards Jane’s house.
Home late again, texted her father. Sorry.
Whose marriage are you ruining tonight dad, she almost responded. Backspace.
Why are you such a fucking asshole? Backspace.
What would happen if I locked you out? Backspace.
Jane sighed and decided the last thing she needed was to piss off her father again.
Okay she finally texted back. The read receipt popped up and Jane put the phone back in her pocket.
Melissa pulled in front of Jane’s house, the house that Jeffry Woods had killed his parents in. Drake Arkensaw had insisted that he would end the curse of Jeff the Killer by proving there was no curse at all about the house. His car was absent from the gravel driveway, ironically enough.
Melissa put the car in park and broke the silence.
“So what’s the deal with the dress and the pictures, Jane?” Melissa shrugged. “You want to talk, I listen.
“I do.” Jane sighed. “I guess...I guess I just had this perfect vision of what I wanted to look like at Fall Masquerade.” She gestured towards the dress hanging in the back of the car. “That dress was apart of it. Mr. Dresher wouldn’t take my the card I have that’s in my dad’s name, and he told me that if I wanted it, I needed to earn the money myself.”
“So you…” Melissa’s face evolved into a horrified mix of confusion and understanding. She glanced at the remaining fragments of the pictures on the car floor. “Oh my God, Jane…”
“Dad won’t let me get a job.”
“Well maybe he’s afraid you’ll do something insane like this!” Melissa shouted.
“Melissa, I swear to God if you start taking his side-”
“I’m on your side for Christ’s sake!” Melissa sounded pissed. “What the hell makes this dress so essential all of a sudden?”
“It’s not sudden, it’s important!” Jane shot back. She swallowed and forced herself to breath. “But I was stupid. And...and I was lucky you were there to stop me. I’m sorry, Melissa.”
Melissa’s face softened and they sat in silence for a few seconds.
“I threw that money back into Dawson’s face.” She said, scratching her head. “How’d you get the dress?”
“He just gave to me.” Jane shivered. “I think he’s kind of crazy.”
“Wouldn’t be the first nut from this town.” Melissa glanced at Jane’s house and scowled. “No offense, JK, but I hate this place.”
“I do too but could you stop calling me that? I always feel violated.”
Jane blinked at her own words. She thought she remembered something but put it out of her head.
“Oh come on, if you can’t laugh about how you live in a serial killer’s old house, the depression will kill you. You know, other than the obvious danger of him knowing exactly where you live.”
“Everything you just said is fucked up.” Jane couldn’t help but smile at the bittersweet thought. She looked out the car window and saw a police car and ambulance drive the direction they had come. Jane bit her lip and looked back at her house. “Why didn’t they just tear it down? Or burn it down, like for real?”
“He killed five people in this town, not counting the fetus, and no one’s stopped him. No one wants to give him a reason to come back.” Melissa grinned. “Satan probably lives in your basement.”
“Better go feed him.” Jane said, laughing. “My dad’s getting home late, which means tomorrow...afternoon. Want to stay for pizza?”
“Whatever you say, JK!”
News of Edwin Dresher’s suicide gave Jane mixed feelings. She kept waiting for the police to arrive at her door and ask about the dress, but they never did. The police never came to her house, not ever. Over the week leading up to Fall Masquerade, she had the dress cleaned and pressed before she got it sized properly at a tailor shop. Her conversation with Dresher had been depressing to say the least, so she tried to keep herself from thinking about it.
Her father went out less that week and stayed in study, which was unusual to Jane. She went out with Melissa and few other friends just to have an excuse to be out of the house as often as she could.
The Hayden Memorial City Center stood atop a foundation Jane’s father had cleared after tearing down several defunct businesses. Candles lit the interior ballroom and the walls were plastered by pictures of Randy and Bridget Hayden. As she entered the ballroom with Melissa, Jane received a nice Masquerade mask from the attendants at the doorway. It was an cheap black one that covered the top part of her face with gray lines tracing the interior. Melissa had brought her own, a porcelain mask that was white and had black painted lips. Eyebrows lined the forehead and eyelashes jutted from the eyeholes.
“I found it in my attic and they said custom masks are encouraged!” They walked side by side into the heart of the dense crowd. Classical music played, and Jane saw some dancers subtly passing drugs amongst one another. She didn’t care. She was just happy to be there with Melissa. “Plus Halloween’s tomorrow so why not something creepy? Speaking of which, that dress does look nice on you even if you got it from a dead guy.”
“Thanks.” Jane said, masking her embarrassment.
“One of these days you’re gonna have to tell me what makes that dress so special.”
“You really don’t remember?” Jane felt sad but she forced herself to smile. “It was when we snuck into this thing together when we weren’t supposed to.”
“I remember almost dying of alcohol poisoning…” Melissa glanced over at the drink counter, where all the bottles had gatorade labels and anyone with a nose could tell the clear, pungent fluid the attendant carried poured into cups was vodka. She scowled at the the ones drinking it.
“Gotcha,” Jane said, sensing Melissa’s embarrassment. “Well, let’s just dance.”
“First one of the night? Okay then.”
It was a very religious town but no one glowered as the two of them danced with one another. Jane made jokes about how poorly Melissa danced, but Jane felt a state of bliss wash over her and the two of them became lost in the masked crowd. She didn’t care about the drugs and she hoped Melissa didn’t mind being near alcohol. For that first song, the music melted away the world and she just felt normal. She wasn’t the rich daughter of whatever her father was, she was just a teenager trying to look her best for her best friend and no one paid her any special mind except Melissa.
The song ended and Jane dug the cross necklace out of her dress. Her conversation with Dresher reemerged and she placed the tiny chain and cross around her neck.
If you’re there Mom, She thought. Thank you.
She struggled with the clasp and right as she was about to ask Melissa for help, she felt someone grab her and force her to turn around. The necklace slipped out of her fingers and fell onto the floor. Her eyes followed it and when she looked up to see who had grabbed her, she was slapped hard across the face. A biting sting spread over her cheek as her head whirled on her neck to one side. Her mask absorbed part of the hit but it didn’t cover her cheeks, so she felt hot pain as she removed the mask and rubbed her face. She looked at who slapped her.
“Fucking whore.” Tracy said. She wore jeans and regular shoes as well as old hoodie. Her face was coated in sweat as if she had run there, and Jane smelled alcohol on her.
Melissa got in between them.
“Tracy what the fuck are you doing?” She asked, trying not to draw attention. By now the dancing had stopped but the classical music still hung in the air as the masked faces all gazed at the three of them. No one moved, and Melissa realized Tracy was crying.
“My parents are getting a divorce!” She pointed towards Jane. “Because of her! Her and her fuck-happy dad!”
“Stop, Tracy, just stop!” Melissa held Tracy at bay. “Leave Jane alone!”
“No!” Tracy shrieked. “This isn’t right! He just….” Her face was a pitiable hot mess of tears, the alcohol on her breath disgusting. Her voice was hoarse and hateful. “He just knocked on my door and my mom let him rape her. Now my dad’s skipped town, all because my mom didn’t want get fired! And then she blamed me! Me! All because I wasn’t friends with the with princess of Everlast! With her!”
Jane looked at Melissa’s pointed finger and found it led to her. Her face still stung.
“What are you talking about?” Jane said, barely loud enough for herself to hear. The room full of masks was still silent, and all eyes were upon her.
“Wake up, you stupid bitch!” Tracy screamed. “Your dad blackmails people with their jobs and the only reason people pretend to be nice to you is to avoid him! That’s what he does! Just ask Melissa here!”
Tracy pushed Melissa away from her and looked around to see if anybody else would move but no one did. The City Center was silent, and from behind their masks they all watched Jane. She, Melissa and Tracy all stood in a wide opening the crowd had cleared away from them. Everyone stood stract and tense, no one wanting to have anything to do with this but some sort of sick fascination to see what happened next.
Jane walked over towards Melissa, her mind and body numbly acting out of instinct.
“Is that true?” Jane looked through the eyehole’s of Melissa’s mask.
“She’s lost her mind, you can’t-”
“Is it true?” Jane’s felt like she was suffocating. Her skin felt deathly cold as if her body was covered in snow. Somehow she spoke without stuttering. “Did my dad do that to your mom? Is that why we’re friends?”
Melissa hesitated, and even looking through the porcelain mask, Jane could see through Melissa.
“Jane…” She whispered. “I swear to God it’s not that simple.”
Jane took a few harsh, shallow breaths as tears formed in Melissa’s eyes. Jane walked over to Tracy.
“If you want to hit me again, go ahead.” Jane said, stopping close to Tracy.
“Fuck you.” Tracy said. She pointed towards Jane’s torso. “That’s a nice dress Jane, did daddy buy it for you?”
“Tracy, I’m sorry!” Jane said stubbornly.
“Tell me something, whore.” Tracy held her face close to Jane’s, her voice loud enough for everyone to hear. “Does daddy like to keep his favorite toys close?”
Jane knew that Tracy didn’t mean any of what she was saying. She only wanted to hurt Jane because she wasn’t in a position to go after Jane’s father, none of them were. Tracy was just a victim of the cruel abuse her father had inflicted on her family. Blaming Jane was just displacement and Jane knew understood that.
But Tracy was right. As soon as the words left her mouth Jane felt a flood of repressed memories flood over her. Her father had abused her and her mother since Jane was a kid. The abuse for both of them had been unspeakable, and Jane had tried to kill herself so many times growing up her mother tried to run away with Jane but her dad found them. He stabbed her mother death and told the police Jeff the Killer did it. He had smeared her mother’s blood on the walls in the same words that psychopath had become famous for.
“Go to sleep,” She whispered, too low for anyone to hear.
“What?” Tracy asked, her.
Jane looked around and they were staring at her still. Did they all know somehow? Everyone always seemed to know more than her. Melissa was saying something but Jane’s mind moved too fast to hear her.
She punched Tracy as hard as she could. The girl stumbled back a step before she lost her balance and fell back. Some people tried to catch her but they had stood too far away, missing by inches. Tracy’s head hit the hard marble ground with a thick thud and crack. Suddenly sound returned to the room. Everyone was moving now and it was so loud. People crowded around Tracy as Melissa grabbed hold of Jane. People were talking into their phones and a few were screaming. The crowd around Tracy blocked her face and Jane failed to get a good look at her. Her mind rejected what she had done. She was not strong enough to kill Tracy. It was impossible that one spiteful suckerpunch could actually kill someone. All Jane could see were Tracy’s motionless legs jutting out from the mob of people. One guy was counting the beats for CPR, and some blood began to ebb out from the mob on the floor.
“Christ, Jane!” Melissa shrieked. “What have you done?”
“Let me go, Melissa.” Jane said. More people began to run away the body, and the screaming and chaos intensified.
“Jane…” Melissa sobbed.
“I said let me go!” Jane pushed Melissa off of her and ran out of the city center. She didn’t know why no one stopped her, but she ran to her car and drove over the grass and out of the parking lot as the police and ambulances began to arrive.
Jane staggered through her front door. Still hyperventilating, she went into the kitchen and pulled out a knife from the knife rack. The memory of trying to kill herself made her legs give out and she stared at the knife. But as Jane looked closely at the knife, she realized for the first time she was completely devoid of the desire to kill herself.
The front door creaked open and Jane quickly rose to her feet. There was no way it could be the cops as Jane would have heard them. Her blood froze as she saw the enormous figure walking through the door.
“Dad,” Jane said shakily. “You're home early.”
Built like a tank, Drake Arkensaw walked shakily through the door, drunk out of his mind.
“Jane?” He mumbled, his red eyes squinting to focus on her before going wide. “What the hell are you doing?”
Jane realized she still held the knife in her hands and a cruel idea formed in her mind.
“You know what Dad? I've decided that I hate my life and the only thing I can do is kill myself.” Her father was so drunk that he actually believed this. His breathing became closer to a sob.
"God, Jane. Just…. put the knife down sweetie.” Jane remembered what Tracy said. She remembered how her father had ruined her perfect night, and she loved the pain and fear he showed in his eyes despite how much a monster he was.
She held the knife to her throat.
“Stop, please!” He begged. “Why are you doing this?”
“I'm doing this because I hate my life. I hate this town, I hate the people. I hate everything about this place!” Jane’s father was inching closer, and he smelled putrid. She gripped the knife tighter. “And most of all, I hate you.”
“Jane, whatever’s happened, I swear that we can get through it. We always have.”
“There is no getting through this!” Jane remembered the Masquerade, how they had all looked at her. Tracy’s blood on the floor.
“There’s gotta be a way, Jane!” Drake Arkensaw tried to sound composed but his breathing had quickened. “There’s gotta be another way forward, or something! Please!”
Suddenly a darker idea came to her. The police were going to take her away and neither she nor her father could do anything about that now. Fear griped her as she realized that without her, Melissa and her family might be at risk again. She had no idea how many lives her father had ruined, and she realized there was only one way she could try to keep that from happening anymore. She was going to jail no matter what happened.
“You’re right dad…” She muttered, more to herself than her father. “You’re right. I think there’s a way.”
“Good, good! Just give me the knife, Jane, please.”
Jane rushed at her father and jabbed the knife into his gut. Surprised, he tried to back away but the knife cut through his shirt and he cursed. He pushed Jane back, and she pulled the knife out of him. His right hand gripped the wound as his other hand tried to keep Jane at bay. As soon as he tried to hold her at arm’s length, the pain exploded in his gut and he instinctively gripped it with both hands. Jane took this opportunity to try to stab her father in the throat but he managed to catcher her at the wrist and desperately hold the blade away from himself. Blood pooled at their feet as they desperately swayed for control of the knife.
“Jane!” He screamed, feeling his strength leaving his body, pouring out through the wound in his gut. “Jane, stop!"
He managed to shove Jane away from and push her over. Drake leaned against a table and desperately tried to hold the bleeding. Jane picked herself up and considered charging again when her father spoke.
“After everything I’ve done for you…” He looked at Jane with wild, deranged eyes. “I gave you a roof, a car, but it was never enough, was it? Paid off teachers, shit. All you had to do was sit on your ass and do nothing.”
“You killed mom.” Jane spat back, pointing the knife at him.
Drake let out a single, joyless laugh which looked like it hurt him quite a lot.
“Yeah I did. She tried to take you away from me Jane. You’re sick, you get it from me. Do you really think you’d have any friends if it weren’t for me?”
“I remember what you did on my birthday.”
“I don’t care!"
His face hardened, his skin beginning to pale. Drake looked down at the blood on the floor and realized the he needed to call the police if he was going to survive. He pulled out his smartphone, not taking his eyes off Jane or the knife. Suddenly he heard the sound of police sirens and ambulances. In disbelief he turned his head towards the windows, and the flashing lights made him close his eyes and look away.
Jane saw the flashing lights and realized she was out of time. When her father turned to look at the lights outside she rushed him, plunging the knife into his heart. He grabbed her by the throat and Jane fell onto her side as her father pressed into her throat with his fingers. His grip loosened by the second. Blood drained from his nose and mouth. His voice sounded like sand and Jane remembered the hatred in his eyes the night he killed her mother.
“They’ll come for you. You’ll never....make it...without me.”
Jane pulled the knife out of his chest as the police burst through the door. Blood poured out her father now but his grip on her throat seemed to intensify and she could not pull away from that hateful gaze even after his eyes lost focus.
At the station, the police officer read the charges to her as two charges of voluntary manslaughter. Jane confessed to both cases and told the police everything. The officer was wide eyed as Jane told him everything.
“Jesus…” the brawny officer muttered, leaning back in the chair across from Jane. A two way window reflected Jane and the rest of the room. She was still wearing that bloody black dress. Her hands were handcuffed behind her. “Let me take those off.”
“Thank you,” Jane muttered. She flexed her wrists and cupped her hands on her knees.
“Sound like we can get the manslaughter charge on your father knocked down from voluntary to...constructive.”
“Heh.” Jane grinned. “Won’t argue with that.”
Her grin faded.
“What about Tracy’s parents?” Jane asked. The idea of speaking to that girl’s parents horrified her.
The officer shrugged.
“We’re still tracking them down. Seems fucked up that they left their kid behind on a family vacation.”
“Vacation?” Jane leaned forward. “They were getting divorced!”
“What?” The police officer raised and eyebrow as the door opened and a man in gray suit walked in with a briefcase. His hair was gray but he was a slim and muscular man.
“That will be enough, officer. I’m Ms. Arksensaw’s lawyer, Seymour Hardwick, and I’d like to speak with her alone.”
“I didn’t call a lawyer,” Jane protested.
“Officer, if you would be so kind.” Hardwick said, ignoring her. The officer glanced back at Jane with an aggravated look before getting up and walking to the door. Hardwick glanced at the camera to check if it was off and sat down across from Jane.
“We’re off the record, so first and foremost I would like to thank you for ridding the world of that scum, Drake.” The man offered his hand but Jane disregarded it.
“What is this about? I don’t need a lawyer.”
“Of course you do,” Hardwick said. “You’re accused to two deaths, one of which was a terrible suicide and the other was a premeditated serial killing.”
“What deaths are you talking about?”
“Well Ms. Tracy Polk killed herself after her parents departed on a vacation without her. And Jeff Woods has already targeted your family and your father’s death matches his modus operandi.” Hardwick removed his glasses and grinned playfully. “Brutal knife wounds.”
Jane stared at him in horror.
“No, no no no! You are not covering this up. Who the fuck are you?”
“I represent the corporation your father held as a subsidiary. I also went to your eleventh birthday.”
“You knew what he was doing to me and my mom.”
“And I hated myself every day for it. But he was my client, and I released him from similar charges once.”
“You covered up my mom’s murder.” Jane leaned back in her seat. “Well if you came here to do the same for me, no thanks. I’m sick of my dad’s money following me."
“I could leave you here to rot but I won’t. You did the world a favor by getting rid of that monster, and I will not allow Drake to ruin your life for doing the right thing. You’re not a murderer, Jane.”
“What about Tracy? Everyone in that room saw me kill her!”
“Seventy eight of your Everlast High Classmates witnessed Ms. Polk’s death. Each one purported she suffered the wounds when she jumped from the ceiling rafters.”
Oh my God. Jane thought. Did he threaten all of them?
“And her parents?” Jane scowled. “Tracy said they were getting a divorce.”
“Did she now?”
Jane understood everything in that moment. This guy had already buried the bodies and told the stories.He was making Jane innocent, whether she wanted it or not. Her father’s money was like a virus, finding weaknesses in the law and exploiting them.
“I’m the killer!” Jane shouted. “You can’t just blame this on Jeff!”
“Sure I can.” Hardwick said smugly. “It’s easy. Jeff the ‘celebrity’ killer. The deranged boy with a few burns that can kill anyone at any time. He’s not the first to evade capture from this retarded government of ours. If you ask me he probably overdosed in some drug den and was buried in a backyard. That’s what happens in reality, Jane, and the world’s a better place because of it. And people? Please. Everyone’s willing to believe a fantastic story as long as it has a grain of truth and especially if it’s a little creepy.”
“I won’t let you do this. I know what happened and I’ll tell everyone.”
“Jane, you’ve been exposed to significant trauma, and it’s not uncommon for victims to....rewrite what they saw. You’d only discredit yourself.”
Jane remembered how she had believed for years that Jeff killed her mother. This man was right. She wouldn’t be reliable if she went against the official record.
“I know what I saw, I know what I did.”
“Your mental health records would support the contrary.” Hardwick laid his hands on the table. His hard face softened. “I’m giving you an opportunity to go and live your life, Jane. I’m not the only one grateful for Drake’s untimely demise, and there may even be a future for you at our company.”
“I don’t want your future.” Jane spat in his face. “I just want to get as far away from you and anything to do with my dad as a I can.”
Hardwick wiped the spit from his face.
“Very well.” He said. “I’m not here to ruin your life, Jane. Quite the opposite, I assure you. I can arrange passage to your mother’s relatives, including your grandparents. Leave Everlast behind. There’s nothing for you here anymore.”
It took three days for the police department to release her. The police commissioner resigned to protest. They stared at Jane as she departed, disgust on each one of their faces. Hardwick led her to her car, which had been searched and emptied due to the investigation. Before she drove away Hardwick tapped on her window and she rolled it down.
“If you ever need anything-”
Jane sped off before he could finish. The first thing she did was drive to Melissa’s house. She ran up to the door and thankfully Melissa opened the door right away.
“Jane? Oh my God, y-you’re okay! What the hell happened to you?”
“Melissa,” Jane said gravely. “I need to know what happened with Tracy.”
“With Tracy? It was horrible. There were these guys in suits making bribes and threats. They tracked down everyone who saw what happened. Did you really kill your dad?”
“Yes.” Jane replied. “They’re covering up what I did. What my dad did. I can’t let that happen. I won’t.”
“What are you saying?”
“I need your mom to come forward with what my dad did to her. Every one of my dad’s victims needs to come forward...even me.”
“Even you?” Melissa looked at Jane with a sadness she couldn’t convey. “Jane, I...That won’t happen. My mom will never talk to anyone about that, none of them will. He’s dead, so let’s just let him die.”
“He’s not dead, not yet. This lawyer is trying to set him up as an innocent victim of Jeff the Killer. He doesn’t deserve to be remembered like that. And I think he did something to Tracy’s parents. I think he had them killed to cover it all up.” Jane rubbed her temples in frustration. “Can you just ask? Please. I’m going to try to find proof or something at my house. Something that will help.”
Melissa looked at Jane with despairing eyes.
“Okay, Jane.” She said numbly. “Okay, I’ll try.”
“Thank you!” She hugged Melissa closely. “I’m sorry to put you through all of this.”
“Stop saying sorry.” Melissa said, loosely hugging Jane back. “None of this is your fault.”
“I killed two people, Melissa.” The reality of what she said seemed so far away. “One night...and I’m a goddamn mass killer.”
“Tracy was an accident. Your father was not a person at all.” Melissa held Jane’s hands. “You are not a killer, Jane.”
“You sure about that?” Jane grinned bitterly. “Isn't that what ‘JK’ stands for?”
“Stop.” Melissa said, sighing in embarrassment. “Killers choose to be bad, and you’re not like that. Listen to me: you’re not.”
Melissa ran back into her house and up the stairs before returning with Jane’s silver cross necklace. She gave it to Jane, and Jane stared at it in the palm of her hand.
“I found this in...the chaos.”
“Keep it.” Jane said. “I want you to take it.”
Melissa blinked in disbelief.
“It’s yours now.”
Jane departed and saw Melissa still standing in the doorway as she drove to her old house. The police had departed the crime scene, probably at Hardwick’s order. It towered over her as she entered through the doorway. The blood stains on the floor remained and unnerved her but she proceeded to her father’s private study. The police investigation had cleared and left it the way they had probably found it, in perfect condition. Jane had never been in that room because it was the room where Jeff the Killer had murdered his parents, and because of Jane’s father himself. The bed was removed with several bookshelves and filing cabinets surrounding a pristinely organized desk. Jane began to tear through the papers and cabinets with no idea what she was looking for. She needed evidence, some sort of proof that her father had been what he was.
Tucked inbetween two books on the shelf was a sealed letter, addressed to the Everlast Police Department.
I, Drake L. Arkensaw, being of sound mind and body, confess to the murder of Elaine Arkensaw on July 23, 2011. This occurred after she tried to abscond with my daughter, Jane Arkensaw, who I sexually assaulted on November 25, 2010 and July 22, 2011. With the help of my business legal team (a full list of persons is included with this letter) I made the crime appear to be under the modus operandi of the serial killer Jeffrey Woods. I also threatened my daughter, who witnessed the murder, to corroborate the fake story. Let this be my confession and let what happens happen. I know I will never see the light of day again but more importantly I know I will never see my daughter again. I moved to Everlast to try to do some good and rebuild the town where Jeff lost his mind. Seemed poetic, trying to make sure no more ‘Jeffs’ came about. But I know I’ve done more harm than good, and I’m ready to face the consequences. And to Jane...I won't pretend I deserve anything except your contempt. Despite...me, you've become a fine woman, a better daughter than anyone could deserve. Please don't let what I did destroy you. Try your best to forget about me. I'm so sorry.
The letter was dated five days before he died. Jane checked the list of names with the letter, and among them was Seymour Hardwick.
“Jackpot.” Jane whispered. She quickly removed her phone and took a picture of the letter before sending it to Melissa. Jane jumped when her phone buzzed with the caller ID showing Melissa. Jane rejected the call, knowing that Melissa probably wanted to talk about what the note said about Jane. She had no time for that conversation. Jane grabbed some documents that her father had signed that would help them match the handwriting. She wondered how the police had not found the letter, and she realized that Hardwick had probably bribed them to stop searching before they reached this point. The body had probably kept them busy. As she put the papers into her pockets, she wondered if her father would have actually sent the confession letter.
Jane turned to leave and gasped when she saw the doorway was open, and Seymour Hardwick was standing there with a gun pointed at her. In his other hand was a container of gasoline.
“Sit in that chair,” he said, as smoothly as when he had first introduced himself. He approached her slowly “Now.”
He pistol whipped her and she stumbled back, somehow managing to keep her footing.
“I don’t need to shoot you, Jane. I’ll beat you to death here and now if you don’t sit in that chair and don’t make a sound.”
Jane grasped the side of her head where he hit her. Somehow the blow hadn’t broken skin, and she thought for a moment that he didn’t mean to kill her. She pulled the chair away from the desk and sat down across from Hardwick. The man with the gun pulled a roll of duct tape out of his suit pocket and threw it to Jane.
“Tie that around your ankles to the chair.”
Jane numbly obeyed, fear crippling her common sense. After she finished Hardwick taped her hands together behind the chair and also taped her mouth shut. He searched her pockets and found the letters. He read her father’s confession letter and grinned.
“Jesus, Drake.” He looked towards Jane and sneered. “I guess the moral of the story is don't wait too long to confess. Wouldn't you agree, Jane?”
Jane breathed violently through her nose and watched him, glancing back between his face and the gun. He holstered the gun and pulled out a lighter, setting the letter and list of names ablaze before dropping them into the metal garbage can besides the desk.
Jane screamed through the tape and watched the smoke rise out of the can. Hardwick approached her and held his face close to hers.
“The sensible thing would have been to leave like I told you. Fortunately for me, your friend Melissa has much more sense than you. The night you killed Tracy, we gave all of them a substantial bribe and legitimate threats. Funny how fear works. She called me! Your best friend told me how you were trying to ruin everything I’ve tried to do for you. And she cares about you, Jane.”
Melissa? Jane thought, tears brimming at her eyes. No…
“I gave you every chance. So my conscious is clear.” He stood over her and brandished a large knife. He grinned. “Well, Jane….they say the killer always returns to the scene of the crime.”
The knife closed in on Jane’s face, but suddenly they both heard a tapping sound coming from the doorway. Confused, Hardwick looked behind him and saw a figure standing in the doorway dressed in ragged jeans and a torn gray hoodie. Black hair draped across on half of its face and yellowed teeth shone in a sick smile. The other half of the face was gray and covered with burn scars. A pink scar formed a wide smile beneath a widened pale eye.
Jeff Woods held a knife lazily at his side.
“Am I interrupting?” He asked, not moving but only sliding his one working eye between Jane and Hardwick. “I'm in the market for a dirty lawyer.”
“No fucking way.” Hardwick said, dropping the knife and reaching for his gun. Jeff moved like a wraith and closed the distance right as Hardwick pointed the gun. Jeff shoved the knife upward through Hardwick’s jaw and grabbed his wrist, pushing his hand away. Hardwick screamed but the knife had gone through his mouth and tongue, rendering him only able to utter a grotesque squeal. Jeff pushed him to the floor and held his arm as the man dying began wildly firing off shots from the gun. Jane slammed her eyes shut as the bullets whizzed around her, spraying paint chips and wood fragments as they collided with the walls.
A series of clicks notified Jeff that the gun was empty. He ripped the knife from the man’s head and slammed it into his chest, cradling the man’s head as he stopped struggling. Jeff held the man’s head close as he watched the eyes dilate.
“Shhhh.” He whispered. “Go. To. Sleep.”
He dropped the man’s head and looked at the girl. Blood had pooled around her, and Jeff saw that one of the bullets had hit her in the abdomen. Her skin was already graying and she shivered from shock. He’d only come for the lawyer that had been setting him up with crimes he had not committed. It had taken years to track him down, but as Jeff looked at the dying girl he wondered what he should do. Once people went into shock they were so hard to hurt.
“Tough luck,” he said aloud as he approached her. He grabbed her black hair and pulled her head back, noting how she was unable to resist. She was crying, tears flowing down her cheeks. With his knife, Jeff traced the tear lines, cutting into her flesh. To his disappointment, she only shood and whimpered, unable to even scream. Her cheeks ran red with tears of blood. She was fading already, and with a grunt Jeff realized she was not worth the time.
He turned, but then he saw the gasoline cannister Hardwick had brought to burn the evidence. Jeff used fire seldomly, but he picked up the cannister and checked to see if he still had that bed of matches in his pocket.
He produced a match bed from his pocket and there was one match remaining.
He began to laugh so hard he knelt over, wiping the tears from the side of his face that could still cry.
“Someone upstairs must really hate you.” He said, pouring the gasoline onto the girl. She squirmed a little but the gunshot wound seemed to drain her of any ability to resist. Jeff lit the match and watched the girl savagely try to break free from her restraints, but the more she bled the less she struggled.
“You’re very beautiful,” He said, holding the match. “But do you know the thing about beauty? The thing about looks?”
Exhausted of any strength, Jane struggled to keep her head up as she watched the fire on the match in Jeff’s hand.
“Looks can kill!” He said, tossing the flame onto Jane and igniting the gasoline.
The fire spread over her body faster than Jane could comprehend. She lost any measure of time or fear as raw pain replaced everything she ever knew or understood. Through the flames she caught one final look as the disfigured Jeffrey Woods watched her burn, laughing insanely. Her vision dissolved into black blindness but the pain at every part of her body persisted. She tried to scream but she realized she could hear nothing, and eventually the sensation left her as well. She imagined falling into a black hole, unable to see or feel or hear anything as if she did not exist at all.
Drake Arkensaw was buried next to an empty box. The police found enough of Jane’s blood to know she had not survived but the body was nowhere to be found. From the burning chair they found a trail of blood leading out the front door to where the police presumed Jane had parked her car. Therefore, the killer had disposed of the body and absconded with the car, neither of which were ever found. Both this treatment of a victim’s body and the visual accounts of the suspect driving Jane’s car out of Everlast did not match the modus operandi of Jeff the Killer, even if the second victim, Seymour Hardwick, did. Despite the inconsistency in the remains, or lack thereof, the police report determined that Jeffery Woods did murder Jane Arkensaw.
Melissa did not attend Jane’s funeral because she felt too guilty. Instead, she waited a week until the reporters had evacuated the town, along with most of the population. Without Drake Arkensaw and his substantial investments, the town dried up and nearly all of the people sought out other places. Melissa’s family was one such case, and the day before they were going to move, Melissa swallowed her guilt and drove to the Everlast cemetery after she made a few calls.
“This the one?” Asked the muscular cajun man Melissa had brought, also with his enormous pickup truck.
The grave they stood before read:
Drake Lukas Arkensaw
January 1, 1972- October 30, 2017
A Man And Nothing
What does that even mean? Melissa thought.
“Yeah,” She scowled. “This is it.”
The cajun got to work attaching chains to the grave and he got in his truck. After revving the engine, Melissa watched his truck pull the grave free of the ground. Together they loaded the grave into the back of his truck. With some shovels they dug up the coffin and they used pickaxes to break through it. Melissa stepped out of the grave as the cajun lifted the body out of the hole. She wandered over to the empty grave nearby.
Jane Kara Arkensaw
November 25, 1999- November 4, 2017
Jane had not left a will or any requests for her tombstone, so the spot for a few words was empty.
Melissa pulled out her phone and retrieved the picture Jane sent her. She read the part that horrified her the most.
...Jane Arkensaw, who I sexually assaulted on November 25, 2010 and July 22, 2011…
He had raped her on her eleventh birthday.
Melissa grabbed one of the shovels and began to violently strike Drake Arkensaw’s body. She screamed as she brought the spade down on the corpse’s head and arms and chest over and over again. The cajun watched her silently until she stepped back and dropped the shovel. Nothing was discernable about the corpse’s face anymore.
“At least you left part of his skull still on.” The cajun remarked. He didn’t know the corpse and he didn’t know the girl. He wanted to keep it that way.
“Dump it in the Gulf. Somewhere deep.” Melissa said, handing the man his payment. “Make sure no one ever finds this piece of trash ever again.”
“What is this?” He said, counting the cash. “This is more than triple what you offered, what’s your game?”
“Just fucking take it.” Melissa spat. “Money well spent.”
It felt good to be rid of the money Hardwick had bribed her with the night of the Masquerade. He’d been clear when he told all the people who saw Tracy’s death that if anyone found out the truth, he would put all of their parents out of work. He approached Tracy personally before Jane was released and warned her that he would have her and her parents killed unless she reported everything Jane did when she got out. She was going to do as Jane asked, but her mother had hit her when she tried to convince her to talk about what Drake Arkensaw had done to her. Melissa realized that Jane’s plan wouldn’t work so she called Hardwick and begged him not to hurt Jane or her parents. That snake’s wispy voice on the phone just thanked Melissa and promised that she’d get a thankful payment.
Melissa thought , but when she tried to call Jane wouldn’t pick up and then Jane sent Drake Arkensaw’s confession letter. Melissa was so astonished and devastated that she broke down crying and by the time she composed herself, she was already hearing neighbors talk about seeing Jeff the Killer in town again.
Now Melissa stood before Jane’s tombstone.
“Happy 18th Birthday, Jane. I know it was a few weeks ago but...,” Her voice was breaking. “I...I know you said that you wanted me to have this but...I know I helped put you there. I know you’re not here, exactly, but...but…”
Melissa crossed her arms to keep from shaking. She had never felt so cold and alone before. She cried for a few minutes, glancing around to make sure no one was watching. Her trembling hand removed her phone from her pocket and she brought up the picture of the confession letter.
“Jane...if you can hear me…I just want all of this to end. I’m sorry.” She deleted the picture, knowing that there was nothing to substantiate it, no witnesses left to corroborate it, and ultimately, no desire on her part to pursue it. All she could do was make sure the world forgot about Drake Arkensaw entirely. Melissa undid the silver cross necklace around her neck and placed it on Jane’s grave. “I don’t deserve this. Goodbye, Jane.”
As she left she passed by a few more tombstones.
Randy Hayden. Bridget Hayden. Next to them was the grave of unborn child Bridget died with. Only a single word adorned that stone.
She blinked in disbelief when she saw that another grave had been added.
Edwin Louis Dresher
April 31, 1958- October 23, 2017
Melissa drove home and beheld the dozens of empty houses and abandoned stores. No one seemed willing to give the town a third chance after so many people had died. Out of instinct she passed by Dresher’s old costume shop and she remembered the night she and Jane had snuck into the Fall Masquerade when Jane had first moved to Everlast. Melissa had never done it before, despite what she told Jane, and she took way too much of the free alcohol. After they got kicked out, they meandered past the store towards Jane’s house. Melissa saw Jane staring at the dress Dresher kept in the window. Melissa was still wasted and thought it was funny.
“Never knew you were into that kind of thing, Jane.”
“I’m not!” Jane retorted. “You’ve had way too much to drink, Melissa.”
“Yeah, well, I think you could pull that dress off!”
“You...really think so?”
“Do I really think so?” Melissa mockingly repeated. She leaned against the window. The alcohol had removed any sense of shame. “Jane, you’re like...really crazy beautiful and you don’t even know it. Yeah, with that dress it’d be like, bam! You walk into any room and just knock ‘em all dead! You would be…”
Melissa glanced over towards the bike rack rotting on the sidewalk, the story of Jeff Woods sticking out. A sick joked formed in Melissa’s mind but she was too far gone to keep herself from saying it.
“You’d be a real killer! Jane the Killer! Heh.” Melissa laughed obnoxiously as her head began to spin. “You, you get it? ‘Cause you live in his old house and ‘killer’ has more than one meaning and-”
“God, I get it Melissa. You don’t have to explain.” Jane let Melissa lean on her as they continued down the road. “I think you’re for sure crashing at my place tonight.”
“Whatever you say, JK!”
Melissa felt a bittersweet yearning for those simpler times back when Jeff was just a joke. Now Jane, her father, and so many others were gone, and with all the empty driveways and parking lots, the town felt truly dead. It was as if Jeff had killed the town like it was a living thing and he was a corrupting disease.
The moving truck was parked outside but her parents’ car was gone. Selling their house had proven harder than they thought, and Melissa had distanced herself from the reasons why. She unlocked the door and ascended the stairs to her room. Most of her things were packed away in the truck, and she walked over to collapse onto her bed.
Atop her mattress was her porcelain mask from the Fall Masquerade.
“The hell?” She murmured, picking up the mask. “I-I thought mom packed this. Why’s it here?”
A hollow voice responded, and Melissa was half sure she recognized it.
“There is a price.”
Before she turned to face the voice, she noticed the smell. Burnt flesh wracked Melissa’s nose as she covered her mouth to turn around. Her heart skipped a beat she focused on the figure leaning against her closed door. Melissa recognized the black dress draped around the figure’s body and the face and long black hair were perfect but the eyes were not human.
“Jane?” Melissa said, her voice barely a whimper.
Its skin was deathly pale as if there wasn’t a drop of blood in its body. The face adorned two gruesome scars that made it look like she crying black frozen tears. But the eyes...the eyes were black and without pupils. Melissa felt her skin crawl the closer she looked at it. In her mind she should have been happy to see Jane but she felt no familiarity with whatever was staring at her now with those eyes. Somehow she knew they weren’t made of whatever human eyes were made of. The thing felt malignant and spiteful and cruel. Some basic instinct older than common sense told Melissa that this thing was evil.
“There is a price,” it said again, its lips a deathly shade of purple and black.
“What price?” Melissa said, barely able to speak. “What the fuck are you?”
It was holding a knife.
“The price is blood from a loved one.” It reached into its dress and threw something at Melissa’s feet. She recognized the cross necklace. It grinned. “I’ve always loved you, Melissa.”
The handwriting on the note was beautiful.
If you are reading this, then you know that I found you. And if I can find you, then I can find anyone, even your brother. If you thought you were doing him some kind of favor by not killing him with your parents...when I find him I will tell him that he died the moment you let him go. There is no mercy between us, but if I am right about you, part of you still remembers what love is. I want that to die before I kill you. When there is nothing left of the whoever you used to be, when there is nothing but evil beneath your skin, then we will be the same. If you don’t kill him, I will. And so I have a question for you. Do you know how to take a life without enjoying it anymore? Poor Liu, caught between two killers. I wonder who he will be more afraid of. If you believe you can stop me by killing me, just know that even if you hide in the dark you don’t know what the dark is. Not yet.
Sleep well, Jeffry.
-Jane the Killer
Jeff tilted his head and observed the note. He reached into his pocket and looked intently at the match bed. It was empty, so he pulled out a lighter and lit the note aflame. He let it fall to the ground, and it flipped over in the air before it landed. Jeff saw an old poster. He bothered to read just the title.
Everlast Fall Masquerade
At the bottom was an image of two masks, one laughing and one sobbing. The fire burned them both.