Blue Skies, Apple Pies.

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic


A teenage boys begins to unearth some dark secrets of the idyllic town he grew up in.

Submitted: May 02, 2018

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Submitted: May 02, 2018

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I grew up graced by blue skies and rolling hills as far as my little eyes could see. I sucked in the purest air and had more adventures than any of the hero's in my story books. My childhood was spent exploring my surroundings with the kind of wonder and imagination you can only get from being truly innocent and untainted.

The lands that sprawled before me were my playgrounds; my theme parks. The forests and wilderness became my castles and forts, and the river that ran through was my very own ocean. As I grew, my attachment to my home never faltered or wavered, in fact I possibly fell more in love with it as I got older, and appreciated more so the blanket of comfort it had always draped over my shoulders. When I was fifteen my Grandma gifted me a chevy for my birthday, and from then on every Friday would be spent down by the lake with whoever was my flavour of the week that week, listening to Johnny cash and watching the sun set behind the mountains as our lips met each others.

I was the apple of my Grandma's eye, she'd squeeze my cheeks and ruffle my hair, and call me her angel boy. We spent a hell of a lot of time together when I was younger, I was mostly there for two weeks out of every month, and her home was more of a home to me than mine was.

Those were my favourite days, spent with her. My Grandma taught me how to be a man, how to hunt wildlife and skin a rabbit. I always loved how she wasn't squeamish like most women I knew, she was fierce and a brilliant hunter. She always said to me she could shoot her way out of any situation if needed. She said it with a joking smile but I felt comforted by it none the less. She taught me how to aim my gun properly so I'd hit every single can, I got so good at it I was a legend to my friends, and that status I owed to her.

We'd spend the summer evenings doing puzzles out on the porch, eating apple pie with cinnamon ice cream and drinking real Lemonade through a straw whilst we watched the birds in their states of ultimate freedom. Watching the animals was almost my favourite part of growing up, especially the predators. I think in a weird way I felt I could relate to them. I felt we had equal power, that is until I once saw a wolf rip the head clean off a rabbit. For a moment I thought I was going to vomit all over the floor, but regardless I watched with grim fascination, and I never saw a wolf as an equal after that.

Even as a small child I was most interested in how animals around me acted purely on instinct. No thought process. I was an observational child and I read a lot, I had a pretty good gage of my world by the time I was ten years old. Animals didn't sit in information like us humans did, they didn't waste time mulling or stewing or contemplating. I liked that. Kill or be killed, fight or flight. The food chain. I liked the order, and the simplicity.

This hobby was whole heartedly encouraged by my Grandma. I mean, most country folk felt at one with nature and knew their way around the earth, but like me, she had an absolute passion for it. When night would start to fall she would hand me my Grandaddy's old binoculars, and perch next to me with hers, steaming hot chocolate in hand as we watched the night life come alive around us.

I spent a lot of time around women. I guess you could say I was a ladies man, but my Grandma and my Momma raised me well, and I knew how to treat a lady. My Daddy left us when I was a little boy, I don't remember him much, and I don't care to either. My Grandaddy passed before I was born, but he was a good man. I knew this because both the ladies in my life had loved him dearly. It didn't bother me much not having men around, there was nothing no man could do that my Grandma couldn't. She held her liquor like an iron giant, built me a tree house with her bare hands, bigger than any of my friends. She even killed a snake once. She treated me like a man and taught me how to be one, there was nothing she wouldn't share with me, we were - we are, partners in crime.

I had only ever seen my Grandma clam up a few times, once when my Mommas old boyfriend cliff had one too many and struck her round the face with his belt, and I remember her face forming into this expression I'd never seen before, that I just couldn't place. She never said anything, she just took my momma by the arm, hoisted me up onto her waist and marched us both home. We never spoke of it again. The second time was when I asked her about the murders. See I've painted this almost picture perfect vision of where I grew up, and that's because for me, it was like that. I never knew darkness in that town as a child, but it wasn't like that for everyone.

The murders started before I was born, and stopped abruptly before I was old enough to know of them. It was a sickening crime wave that rocked our town like nothing ever had before. People were fearful. I tried to relate to that growing up but I always felt so safe here. I never felt fear. Not even when that wolf ripped that rabbits head of just metres from me. Not when Louise Jackfield fell from the fifth floor and I saw her head split like a melon. Not even when Aaron Walker had a psychotic break in chemistry and was probably seconds away from blowing us all to pieces.

All of us kids had heard snippets of information, despite our parents and grandparents reluctance to talk of the events during that time. My friends knew bits and pieces from overhearing their folks talking about the hushed matters at dinner parties, when they think their little darlings are all tucked up and safe from the all too real ghost stories. Friends of friends knew things from whispers on the wind, and of course, we had all googled it at some point or other. The fact that nobody was ever caught has encouraged countless urban legends in our town, of hiding monsters and violent maniacs lying low in the dense forests.

There were seven victims found, could have been more I guess. All of them were female, all of them were killed by asphyxiation. All of them had been stabbed prior to death. There was a cop called Roberts who used to get a little too drunk at the diner during the time the case was going on, and people found out a few things here and there, but nothing ever came of it. Police thought it was pretty unusual the way they died. This killer left no evidence on any of the crime scenes. None. He killed by strangulation but he still felt the need to see the blood. I always just figured he was a showman, an attention seeker, you know? I never got how he wasn't caught though, in a small town like this.

Anyways, the police didn't have a clue and had very little direction. I'm sure city cops would have had a team of profilers and behavioural analysts on the case with the click of their fingers, and I'm sure they would have found something our cops hadn't seen, and maybe they would have caught him, but our town just doesn't have the manpower for that. After years of hell, they stopped just as abruptly as they started. It was presumed the killer had moved on or passed away, and it became a cold case, buried in the archives.

The folk who were around during the brunt of it don't like to speak of it, especially my Grandma. I often considered that maybe she saw something awful, or even discovered one of the bodies. I never pressed the subject, it was just accepted as history and that was that. The darker side of our history never bothered me too much. My own history never bothered me too much either. I never felt the need to ask about my Daddy. I had one photo of him my Momma gave me, just the one. Gold teeth, gold watch. Glinting in the sunlight as he pulled my momma to his side. I think Grandma gave it to me because she felt like I deserved to know where I came from, but I always got the impression she didn't want me to know too much. I got that, I wouldn't want to talk much about a man who abandoned my daughter and grandson either. I know he liked a whiskey, I knew he had a sharp tongue and a wondering eye and that's about all I needed to know. My Grandma filled his shoes just fine.

I remember one summer when I was about eight or nine, I was shooting cans with my best friend Teddy in the yard when I got momentarily distracted and lurched forward in the dirt, kicking clouds full of gravel into my face. I heaved and spat onto the floor until my mouth was empty, to look up and lock eyes with my grandma standing right in front of me. I had never seen such a look of contempt on her face before. She grabbed onto my vest, pulled me in close, and almost growled 'you look just like your daddy when you do that, don't you ever let me see you do that again boy.' she never referenced him directly after that, and I never spat again.

'Hanging naked from the bridge. Just swaying there. Two of them at once. Knew it wasn't suicide because of the stab wounds. God, imagine seeing that on your way to work.' I was in the school canteen when I heard those details for the first time. I didn't think much of it at the time but I must have been paying attention because I still remember exactly how it sounded. He had that tone of sick excitement we see in human beings when discussing the darker side of our psyche. Sometimes it echos around my brain.

At Easter me and Grandma did egg hunts. We had so much land around us sometimes we would be out hunting for hours. As she got older her memory got a little shakey, and she would forget where some were hidden. That just made it all the more fun for me, made it a real challenge. In summer we would do scavenger hunts for fun, she never stopped this ritual, not even when she could probably have done without the hassle. I was quite the adventurer though, and very skilled with Map reading and navigating. As I got older my Grandma tried to make the scavenger hunts more challenging for me, she knew it fueled me. I loved it when I'd find old coins buried, that she had carried in her youth. That felt like real treasure. It's how she gifted me my truck keys, I dug them out from behind a tree on my birthday hunt, whooping as it hit me that freedom was at my teenage fingertips.

The summer of my sixteenth birthday was gearing up to be the best of my life. I had my truck, a string of farmers daughters to keep me entertained and a part time job at the hardware store with more pocket money than I could spend. I knew my annual hunt was coming up and I'd hoped Grandma's pushed the boat out. I wanted to take my tent and stay out all night this time. Her fading memory never stopped her making an effort, and her hunts were always perfect. They made me think but I never pulled my hair out, they were brain training and a past time and I dreaded the day we both got too old.

I began in my usual place, near the crossing where little Ellie Marcy was hit by that truck. I try not to think about it but there's still a stain on the road. The clues started simple as they always do and led me out to the orchard digging around near some trees, to the churchyard which I always found myself aimlessly wondering around and finally back out into the woods. I made a few stops at the woods, following her riddles to a giant tree I thought might be my end point. I was excited to find my birthday treat, and eagerly started poking around the tree for some information. I found the coordinates nestled in between a piece of loose bark. My trusty compass was needed at this point, only the son of a bitch wasn't there. I must have dropped it.

I retraced my steps back a little while before realising that everywhere looked the same and I may as well go look for a needle in a haystack. I was pissed to say the least, i had spent all day at this, and I wasn't about to go back to Grandma's to get another compass or admit defeat, I'd never live that down. I decided to have another look at the coordinates and see if I'd came across any nearby in the previous years that might give me some direction. That was a dumb idea, I didn't remember at all. I decided to play smart and look for any ground in the area that looked like it could have been tampered with. It all looked a bit tampered with if I'm honest but with determination I picked a spot and started to dig.

I'd already gone down way further than Grandma had ever buried anything, and I didn't even know if I was in the right place, I just didn't want to accept that I'd have to turn home so badly, I just kept tossing the dirt out. Eventually I hit something. I honestly figured it was a big rock or something, I wasn't really hoping for much until I saw the gold glint in the sunlight. I had never found anything gold before, my Grandma had outdone herself this time. I reached into the soil to unearth my prize.

Gold watch. Gold teeth. Glinting in the sunlight. Surrounded by human bones. I'm sure I didn't scream, I actually don't think I did anything at all, other than stand there, mouth hanging open and wondering what the damn hell my next move was supposed to be. Did anyone know he was here? Do I ask my grandma? Do I tell the police? I decided to cover it back over slightly. This rested my mind, now I wasn't starting at the reality of it. I had to head home eventually, I couldn't stand here staring at the sight of a corpse all day, regardless of how morbidly fascinating it was.

I walked as slowly as possible to give me time to collect my thoughts. I didn't watch my footing at all, and fell twice, the second time landed me face first in the mud and I didn't notice i'd cut myself until the blood from my forehead had dropped past my chin and onto my white t shirt, spreading like a blossoming flower. It reminded me of a piranha attack i saw on the TV.

I think the first time you receive news that really changes your world is the closest we can be to zombies. Something that is both alive and dead simultaneously.

I made it back somehow, although I felt like I'd left something back there and it gnawed at me. I now realise that was the last shred of my innocence. I opened the gate to my Grandma's yard, and the smell of cut grass made memories flood into my head, with a warm feeling of nostalgia, reminiscent of sitting down in front of the fire when you're frozen to your bones. My breathing steadied as I let these memories float around and lull me to calmness. I saw my grandmother teach me to hold a gun properly, heard her soothing words in my ear as I felt like the bravest man on the planet. I carried that feeling up the path to the looming door ahead.

I let the front door shut gently behind me. My grandma was sitting in the kitchen when I stepped through, pouring over some books on the table. Small talk seemed like a lost art on me in that moment, and I found words tumbled out of my mouth before I could really think about the consequences. 'I... I found a body. Down by the orchard.' Have you ever said a sentence that didn't seem real? So utterly absurd that is couldn't possibly be? But there we have it. Its out now,in all it's disgusting absurdity. 'OK... OK then. Why don't you sit down honey?' She patted the seat beside her as if we were going to eat apple pie and catch up on our day, and I did sit down. I was worried if I didn't my legs may give out beneath me from how fast my blood was rushing through my body. 'Do you know who it was?' her panicked eyes searched my face, and my gentle nod was received with a sigh of complete and utter sadness, an emotion grandmother showed me rarely.

'I should have been more careful. Should have been more goddamn careful. Its my memory, its not what is used to be. I never meant to send you there you know.' she studied my face and whilst I got what she was trying to tell me it wasn't quite enough. 'what do you mean, Grandma?' I managed to keep my voice level, even though I could have bubbled over from curiousity, and sickening sickening adrenaline.

'I don't want you to to hate me, my boy. I don't. I would never have kept secrets from you if they weren't worth keeping. I hope you know that.' I did know that. I remembered when Old Jackson, the farmer from the next town over was found dead in his cow shed. Heart attack, she told me. I only heard about all the blood from my friends, who's parents couldn't keep their voices down at the best of times. I remember finding out what a paedophile was, and what group mentality was when I was much older. I understood why my Grandma didn't tell me. I respected this town more after that, just like I did that wolf with the rabbit.

'Your daddy was a nasty son of a bitch and he didn't belong here in this world. He didn't have a good bone in his body that man, and a soul as dark as the devil's. I saw it in his eyes when your momma first brought him home, that she was in trouble. He took my baby from me and turned her snow white skin purple.' She looked at me with a pain I had only ever seen once before, when little Ellie Marcy' s mother locked eyes with me on that ferociously hot afternoon, two days after her little girl had been ploughed down on the crossing. She tried to scrub that blood off for weeks, like if it disappeared, it never happened to begin with.

'I've never felt hate like that. But your momma was as stubborn as the sun is hot, and she had a temper to match too.' I couldn't imagine confronting my Momma. She was as soft spoken as a child's story book but she wasn't so good around other women. Once, she punched a lady right in the mouth at the grocery store. She got in trouble real good for that. Grandma broke my chain of thought with venom in her voice. 'She wouldn't listen to me. We fell out real good me and her, and I'll tell you now my boy, I could have slapped her silly myself for her stupidity' she let out a long breath and cupped my chin with her hand. 'But she's my baby girl and so I let her do her and kept a close eye like you know i do.'

I saw her grit her teeth.

'The murders started and I got real worried about her you know, being away from me and parting late with him. I wanted her back home with me so I could keep her safe but he didn't like that one bit. Then she got pregnant with you and he had her then. Had his claws in good. I just had this feeling, you know - that something was very very wrong.' I knew that feeling, and I knew my Grandma had a sixth sense for trouble. We had lodgers here one time, Grandma was trying to make a little extra cash so me and her could have a blast that summer. They were only here two nights before they left with bloody noses. 'I can't explain it, it was this gutteral feeling that never left and I couldn't sleep. People. They knew stuff in this town and we all knew your daddy couldn't have kids see, or at least he thought he couldn't. He didn't want anyone knowing this of course, but word gets around here one way or another. It made him real mad I think and he didn't like being the subject of gossip. He put more than a few men in hospital for drunken ramblings about his manhood and someone else clearly doing his job for him. Nobody spoke of it after that, but the damage was done.' I was starting to get the clearest image of my Daddy I'd ever had, and he seemed more and more like a disgusting oaf of a man than I ever thought.

She shifted in her seat.

'I knew your momma loved that man god knows why but she did, and she was faithful to him like I am to Christ. He should have been over the moon about you, but he was bitter and jealous and he didn't trust her.' she raised the gold Cross around her neck to her trembling lips and planted a soft kiss in the centre. 'Then... one night not long before you'd arrived your momma heard a racket and caught him red handed. Literally, covered in blood head to toe creeping on through the back of my land here. He put his hands on my baby girl one last time and I emptied your grandaddy's shotgun into the god damn devil himself. We buried him me and your momma, him and his secrets and we don't speak of it no more.' she paused to let me digest this image, of my own father, covered in someone else's blood and battering my pregnant mother on my grandmother's land. It wasn't very digestible and I felt my stomach lurch. ' I never meant for you to find that, or find out like this. I'm loosing my marbles I think.' Tears crept down her face as her eyes met mine.

My mind went to the talks around town, all those legends we talked of at camp fires. I thought of those seven girls, and my mother who nearly became one. 'why didn't you tell anyone what he did?' I managed to choke out, the weight of the situation suddenly bearing down on me. 'we decided, on that night under the moonlight that giving you a normal life was worth more to us. It might be selfish and it might be stupid but you had a childhood without stigma, without hurt and without these ghosts in your closet. He was a monster, and he deserved way more than he got. I hope he rots in hell. The only good thing I got from him was you, and you are worth all of it.' she spoke almost as if looking for my reassurance, my approval.

I agreed in my heart, I thought about this man I barely knew putting his murderous hands on my Momma, and my Grandma forced to protect us both, and I agreed. I felt sadness in my whole being, to my absolute core about the entire situation and every lost life. I felt a strange sense of closure. The weirdest feeling though was one of sudden understanding, pieces all fitting together. I understood my roots and where I really came from. I understood why I never felt afraid. And I understood why when listening to Johnny cash, and locking lips with my flavour of the week whilst the sun set, I always had to fight the compulsive urge to wrap my hands around her throat.


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