fbpx

THE SKELETON KEY GHOST STORIES: PERFORMANCE ART

THE SKELETON KEY GHOST STORIES: BETWEEN DEATH AND HELL
November 18, 2002
THE SKELETON KEY GHOST STORIES: POPEYE
November 18, 2002

THE SKELETON KEY GHOST STORIES: PERFORMANCE ART

 It was cold that night when Jamie Lynn walked home at one AM. Her pretty little mouth quivered, hiding chattering teeth behind those ruby red lips. Every time she took a breath, it looked like she was smoking; not a cigarette, but one of those elegant, expensive, Cuban cigars, the kind rolled by hand.

She wore a white top, long sleeved, but thin enough to see the fleshy tones underneath. She wore no bra, and up close it was impossible to miss the set of two perfect little red circles that were her nipples. They stuck out like beams of light in the darkness.

Her long brown hair was accented by highlights, not more than three-days old. And not the cheap, do-it-yourself highlights, not even the kind one could get from a New York Salon…instead, it was something different, something impossible to place, something exotic. Her hair was at once a mess, covering half her face and right eye, unnaturally curly and yet, somehow precise; like it was hair sprayed into place.

A thick lining of black encircled her eyes. And about her eyes, if Paul Newman had been born a woman, his eyes might approach those of little Miss Lynn’s. Below her eyes, red blush brought attention to her cheek bones already flush from the cold of the night. Jamie Lynn’s cheek bones gave one the impression that she was from another era. High and strong, they called to mind the silent film stars of the roaring twenties, and the word classical would seem to apply.

She walked down the side of the road, each arm clutching the opposite elbow, shaking, shivering. Her boots, not the real kind, instead the fashionable kind one had to mail order for this far out in the country, trudged through the snow. She had the look of a runner, strong shapely calves and thighs leading up to her toned ass. But she wasn’t running now. No, now she was walking home at one AM in the Iowa winter of January.

In the distance, headlights appeared; far enough back that they might be mistaken for somebody’s cabin door opening at first. As the car approached, Jamie Lynn took notice. She hoped it was a man driving, or else one of those dykes. She pushed out her heavy breasts in front of her and began to walk like a fashion model, shaking and accentuating her every curve, strutting all she had to strut, which was quite a bit indeed.

As the car came up behind her it cast a silhouette forward, the driver had Jamie Lynn’s high beams on and they made Jamie Lynn’s figure shoot out fifty feet in front of her. A giant ghost with breasts and nipples unbound, arms and delicate fingers swinging to and fro, a piece of performance art almost. Jamie Lynn stopped for a moment to admire it. She was hungry.

Then the horn sounded, and again after one moment. Slowly, very slowly, Jamie Lynn turned around, being sure to let the driver get a good look. She knew how to get a free ride. Damon’s voice cut through the night, raspy and thick with a strong drawl, it was immediately apparent that he wasn’t from around these parts.
“Hey, you want a ride?” His voice was deeper, more harsh than naturally possible, like he’d been drinking moonshine and smoking cigarettes since age twelve.

“Can you get me to Wellsbrook Square?” She never let the men drive her all the way home.

“It’s a bit out of the way, but I can’t well let you freeze out here. Get in.” The perfect southern gentleman, thought Jamie Lynn.

For a long while there was silence in the car. No radio, if only because there was no reception out this far. The motor bridged the gap of silence. Then, after what seemed like an eternity, Damon opened his chapped lips.

“I would have opened the door for you, but I can’t get out in the snow on account of my ripped boot here.” Jamie Lynn looked down; his boot was, in fact, torn. A long gash all along the outside of his right boot; it barely even stayed on.

“How’d you manage that?”

“Chainsaw, cutting firewood,” he said, not even looking over. “Lucky I didn’t cut my foot off…say, where’d you say you wanted to go Miss…?”

"Jamie Lynn, my name is Jamie Lynn, but you can call me either one, or both, it can get confusing when you’ve got two first names, no one knows what to call you. But I’m used to it so I’ll respond to just about anything…oh, and I need to get to Wellsbrook Square."

"My name’s Damon." He stuck out his hand with its short, fat, stubby fingers to shake hers. As he did, her pretty little lips forced a smile; he saw it in his rear view mirror and sped up the car.

"You still in high school, Jamie?" he said after another long silence.

"I’m seventeen, a senior this year, leaving town soon. This place is nice, don’t get me wrong, but I want something bigger."

"I used to live in the city, but I like my privacy out here." He was starring at Jamie Lynn’s breasts, she noticed. "Buckle up," he added as a cover. She strapped the belt, but stuck her chest forward and pouted her lips. He was allowed to look, but she wasn’t going to let him touch.

"You ever go hunting out here? I mean, can you handle a gun?" He was still looking, Jamie Lynn didn’t mind, she liked the attention and watched the road for him, since he was otherwise occupied. He was going too fast, but Jamie Lynn wasn’t going to mention it. Telling him to slow down might give him the wrong impression. "I hunt, there’s nothing like the thrill of the kill. But I don’t do it like most, like your daddy probably does." Jamie Lynn still hadn’t answered his last question, he didn’t seem to mind.

"Most hunters, they just shoot the deer, and that’s it. To me that’s cheating. I’ll shoot him sure, but just in the leg. Then I’ll fight him, hand to hand, maybe use a knife if he’s got antlers."

"Good way to get ticks," Jamie Lynn mumbled, not sure exactly how to respond.

"No…never had a problem with that. Never even occurred to me until you just said that."

The car drove on, pushing 80 miles an hour on a two lane road in the pitch dark of the icy winter. They were nearing town and Jamie Lynn asked him to turn right. He ignored her and slammed on his breaks. Jamie Lynn flew forward, her belt caught her, but too late; her head, her face, slammed into the dash, hard.

Her forehead was already swelling when she came to. Her lips, her pretty little mouth was split open. Her front teeth had dug in deep when she flew forward and now she could taste the salty, metallic flavor of blood. She reached to wipe her face, but couldn’t move. A wave of panic ran through Jamie Lynn, assuming she was paralyzed. Her breath became quick and shallow, testing the air for the scent of gasoline. But she couldn’t smell anything; her mouth was too full of blood. The air seemed thick with it.

Light was coming from somewhere, but it hurt too much to open her eyes. The last few hours were a blur. Jamie Lynn remembered being over at Sophie’s house after school, sneaking Max over, imbibing his fluids, then a blank.

A tapping started, with the migraine Jamie had it was unbearable. Steady as clockwork, tap…tap…tap…tap. Jamie summoned all the strength she had left in her and screamed, "Stop it!"

Damon let out a high pitched giggle and suddenly it all came back; the crash, slamming her head, Damon grabbing her and locking the doors, her door must have had a child lock on it, because it wouldn’t open.

Damon had pinned her down. Jamie Lynn fought back as hard as she could, but he had a hundred pounds or more on her and the element of surprise. Even in the car’s small cab, he was quick. Before she could stop him Damon was on top of her, pressing his knee between her D-cups, her hands held like vice grips by his, his other knee rubbing against her crotch.

He smelled awful, like sweat mixed with motor oil. Her legs flailed so he kicked her in the gut and Jamie Lynn went numb from the waist down. And then, again, a blank. Jamie Lynn was thankful for it, she didn’t even want to remember.

The tapping still hadn’t stopped and Jamie Lynn was coming back into consciousness. She was drenched in blood, too much to be her own and tied with handcuffs to a pipe behind her back. The linoleum floor was filthy and the florescent bulbs lighting the room gave a sickly appearance to Jamie’s skin.

She was stripped and shaven, head to toe. Her eye liner ran down both sides of her face in streaks mixing in with the blood she was showered in. The blood, it was sticky, like a wound as it cauterizes.

When she finally got the strength, Jamie Lynn looked up. Damon stood in front of her, maybe five feet back leaning on a banister made of rusted over steel. Not the rust that comes from leaving a bike out in a rain storm, the rust that comes from months and years of showers of water, then blood and bleach, then water again. Each mixed with urine and spit and vaginal fluid and semen and tears and mucus and sweat. The kind of rust that comes too strong and too soon to be natural.

Damon stood looming over Jamie Lynn. The tapping came from his knife on the steel banister. His knife was not metal, but rather some intricate carved white element unknown to Jamie Lynn but very dear to her all the same. And sharp as a scalpel.

The tapping stopped and Damon moved forward, kneeling down to Jamie Lynn’s level and grasping her face at the jaw. Her perfect square jaw, a benefit of her Nordic roots. Try and she might, and she did try, Jamie Lynn could not turn away. Damon held her tightly and starred into her eyes, piercing her soul.

"Don’t worry, I haven’t done anything to you that would make your momma blush." Damon crooned and then added, almost as an after thought, "yet."

"You really shouldn’t take rides from strangers. Sooner or later a creep is going to pick you up. You’re lucky I’m a nice guy. You need to be more careful in the future." Damon stood up and began to pace to and fro and bandied his blade about as he continued to rant. Jamie Lynn began to cry.

"Now, you’re probably wondering, ‘why am I here’ or, ‘why am I covered in blood’ or else, ‘why am I shaven’, let me tell you." Jamie Lynn’s pretty little mouth began to jerk and contort a scream forming in her throat; Damon noticed.

"Don’t scream. I mean, you can if you want, but you really should pay attention first. You’ll have plenty of time to scream later, and I hate to repeat myself." Damon paused and stared at Jamie Lynn sternly; she screamed anyway.

"Fine," he said exasperated, "have it your way. No one can hear you, but feel free to scream." And Jamie Lynn did so. After a minute or so, Jamie Lynn became tired and Damon grabbed some duct tape. He tore a piece off and delicately placed it over Jamie Lynn’s mouth. Her pretty little mouth.

"Now Jamie, listen. You have every right to ask those questions. But, they’re the wrong questions all the same. What you should be wondering is, ‘what is that knife?’” Jamie Lynn was weeping openly now.

"This knife here," he said while examining it, "was the forearm and collarbone of one Fedra McAllen a homely young thing; victim number three. She’s so much prettier now, I think you’ll agree." He stopped to show the knife to Jamie Lynn. It was a thing of beauty. Carved by hand and held together by a piece of stainless steel embedded in the center.

Twin spheres made the bottom of the handle. Each contained three circles on the front and back engraved on the otherwise smooth surface. Above this, the handle grew thinner, becoming a set of cylinders with sharp zigzags up the length of each. Outside the cylinders, two wide flat surfaces, thinner than the cylinders and spheres shined, varnished. Next the bone rose by a quarter inch straight up at a ninety degree angle and curved down and outward to each side. Ending at a point, making it almost a foible.

In the center of this, raised slightly was a face, contorted in a scream, the only piece of visible metal. Around the face three balls of flame expanded out, three peaks of flame mirrored on each side.

Then the blade, whiter than bone should be as a result of its bleaching and coatings. The blade spread out as it went along its eight inches. The tip came at a straight angle on the right side, and a sharp inward and a sharp inward curve making almost a circle on the left dipping down to a second peak designed obviously for style over function. All the same, it was sharp enough to cut flesh like warm butter.

"I am not a killer, I’m an artist. What I’m doing, it’s performance art. First a series of still pictures of you. That’s what the blood there is from." Damon paused and Jamie Lynn’s heart skipped six beats anticipating the worst.

"Well, it’s not real blood, but that’s the point, it’s fake, but this is real. Growing up on a cattle farm, you get a good sense of blood and death early. Then, I grew up and moved to New York to become an artist. And what can an artist depict except what he already knows. I tried to do it in galleries, but it never worked, they laughed me out of town…but now, now I’m making real progress out here."

Jamie Lynn squirmed and panicked trying to find a way out, any way out. From behind the duct tape, her pretty little mouth tried to let out a scream, a cry, a prayer, but she couldn’t.

"It’s not all bad though. You’re pretty now, but in twenty years? What I’m giving you, I’m letting you stay beautiful forever. You’ll never grow old, never get wrinkles, you’ll be perfect forever. You’ll become an artist as well as art." As Damon finished his speech, he grabbed a curtain at the side of the room and pulled it back. In a glass case ten feet high were two unfinished doors, gleaming white like the knife, and just as intricate too.

"It’s my version of the gates of hell." Jamie Lynn knew the piece vaguely. She had failed art history the semester before and suddenly wished she had paid more attention.

The wall was made of skeletons, so many skeletons. Welded together or hung with string, each piece acting out a story from the bible. A level of Dante’s hell, a piece of great art. The framing all the way up was complete, but pieces were missing everywhere.

And it was beautiful.

Jamie Lynn wanted to vomit, but the duct tape held it in.

"You, your soul will be the centerpiece, my recreation of Rodin’s ‘The Thinker’ Your skull specifically. And your spine will make the edges of the Red Sea. Your legs, they are strong, they will reinforce the lining of the doors. You’ll die in your performance of course, but you, as art, will live forever."

Jamie Lynn fought with all her might, pushing and shoving her body. It was futile, and she knew it, but the adrenaline was too much to ignore.

"Calm down or you’ll break something!’ Damon dropped his voice and grabbed Jamie Lynn by the throat. He spoke in a seductive, cooing growl. "It won’t hurt, I’m not going to hurt you, it will be quick, I know what I’m doing. Killing is…it’s part of the performance; killing is an art form too." And then Damon began to hum a lullaby, slightly out of key, into Jamie Lynn’s ear as he pressed down on her throat and cut off her breathing, and knocked her out.

"I’m making a commentary on the sexes." Jamie Lynn awoke to these words. "It’s not sexual, it’s about how we’re all equal in the end."

Jamie Lynn opened her eyes. She was at a table, chained down to her seat. Sitting up, still nude, but cleaned off. The tabletop was on level with her mid-torso and was made of glass. The light from above made her breasts and face reflected off the tables glass. Somewhere, a camera flashed. Jamie Lynn closed her legs tightly at the knees.

Damon entered the room with two plates of meat. He placed one, full of small precut pieces in front of Jamie Lynn and the other, a full sized, bloody, rare steak in front of himself. "I would give you a fork and knife, but we can’t have you hurting yourself now can we? Its been a long night for you, and we’re not nearly through yet. Eat up, you’ll need your strength."

Jamie Lynn lifted her arms, heavy chains weighed them down and allowed her only minimal mobility. She at ravenously, even though she feared the meat might be poisoned. Across the table, Damon carved his steak with Fedra’s forearm and collarbone. Sticking each piece on the knife’s tip and then using it as fork. Both steaks were rare, almost raw, and bloody.

"I’m surprised,” Damon soliloquized, starring at his meat before eating it, "that you haven’t threatened me with the idea of getting caught."

"I’ve taken psychology classes," Jamie Lynn said between bites, "You’re a sociopath with delusions of grandeur. You think you’ll never get caught, because you think you’re God. But basically, you’re just fucking nuts."

Damon glared; Jamie Lynn had struck a nerve. "I am not crazy, I am not a murderer, I am not a hick, I am an Artist! And I don’t think I’m God, but I do know they won’t catch me. Think about it; would you have guessed what my knife was made of if I hadn’t told you?" Jamie thought about it, and she knew the answer was no. "I use all the bones in my work, so there’s no evidence…and the rest of the bodies…well, what can I say? I am a starving artist."

Jamie Lynn looked down at her plate, sick with terror. She had already eaten most of her steak. Things became blurry as her intestines clamped down and her stomach exploded in protest forcing the full contents of her digestive track up and out of her mouth. Her pretty little lips stung from the acid content.

"Now why’d you have to go and do that? Mandy Hertz died so that you could have that meal. But just for the record, you had no idea, did you? It was a good steak, wasn’t it?" Jamie Lynn choked back tears, half from the acid residue in her mouth, and half in horror, knowing that Damon was right.

It was the best steak she’d ever had.

"You can’t do this," Jamie Lynn fought to speak through her tears, gasping for breath between each syllable and swallowing half her words, "You just, cant!"

"Au-contraire! I can. I have; twenty-three times." Damon said as if this fact would console her.

"They’ll come looking for me! I’m popular…my boyfriend, he’s the first string quarter back" Jamie Lynn lied through her teeth. Her boyfriend was a stoner and the closest he came to playing quarterback he’d ever been was selling nickel bags in the park. And though she was pretty, or perhaps because of it, Jamie Lynn was by no means popular.

Damon, seemingly bored with the proceedings, replied, "I’ve killed prom queens; no one’s coming. You’re obviously not listening; you’re number twenty-four! The police are scared, twenty-three dead and no leads. I’d be scared too if I were that useless. You’re right though, people will notice; people tell the cops and they might look for a bit. But, inevitably, you’ll be re-listed as a run away; your file will gather dust, but you, you will shine! Somewhere, in some art museum, thousands of people will see you everyday. Maybe even your parents. They’ll stand there looking at you and think ‘How pretty,’ and then move on, never thinking of you. You will disappear into your part like a perfect method actor. And it won’t hurt, I promise."

"Don’t!" Jamie Lynn warned, "Or you’ll regret it!"

"Ma’am, I don’t think you’re in any position to make threats." Damon had finished his steak and now walked slowly across the room. He looked down at his blade, Little drops of Mandy Hertz’s blood still slid off of it. He licked the blade and stuck it in his mouth, sucking it lightly.

"Normally, I would take my time, go through a whole ritual; but you seem scared. And my objective is far from sadistic, it’s artistic. So what do you say we cut to the chase?"

Damon towered over Jamie Lynn as he walked towards her; again swinging his blade about. Her pretty little lips quivered, her perfect little figure squirmed. He last moments were quickly approaching and she was powerless, chained to a chair, naked, shaven, and crying. Damon kicked her chair back, away from the table and down onto the floor. He caught Jamie Lynn’s head before it hit the concrete, bashing his knuckles on the ground, splitting them open.

He pressed is blade to her cheek and slid it down just hard enough to draw one long drop of blood. The red seeped out like a paper cut, but it didn’t hurt.

Deeper now, harder, he cut, crisscrossing along her belly making a checkerboard pattern. She bled, heavily. But she didn’t scream. Instead, she clenched her teeth down on her tongue and tried her best to breath through the tears.

"Stop, stop now," she said through gritted teeth. "You don’t want to do this, not to me."

"Honey, sweetie, baby…you aren’t special. You are worth no more than anyone else. Remember your psychology classes. Remember; ‘delusions of grandeur’?" he spit as he spoke to her.

Damon moved the knife up, preparing to slit her throat, to kill her in the Kosher style.

"No, you don’t understand. You don’t want to do this to me because you will regret it," Jamie Lynn muttered, angrily now.

"I thought I was a sociopath."

"It has nothing at all to do with that," Jamie Lynn said, all the fear and pain fading from her voice.

Damon laughed and slit her throat. Jamie Lynn, with her last breath from her pretty little lips mumbled something incoherent, then smiled as she bled out.

Crimson covered the floor, and after a moment, the flow stopped. Damon stared, looking over his work. Then he took his tools from a drawer and prepared to finish the job with his circular saw in hand he prepared to dismantle Jamie Lynn. But as he leaned in, Damon noticed that air bubbled once more from Jamie Lynn’s throat.

"You forgot one thing," said the corpse. Damon jumped back in shock. "You said were hunting me, but I was hunting you!"

And then Jamie Lynn’s chest burst open, ribs bent outward and snapped as the beast within arose. Snake like coils intertwined in black and stained red with blood formed a torso. Sharp, triangular shoulders pulled up and into place. Arms sprouted, thick and muscular and slimy. ‘Her’ hands became claws, seven fingers on each hand. Each finger like a knife, ten inches long, and curved at the tip downward and hooked at the tip like a question mark, and sharp as anything imaginable.

Damon sat, jaw agape as the beast grew. ‘Her’ face pulled up from somewhere deep in ‘her’ gut. Gills on the side, and a jaw span of close to two feet. Green, jewel-like eyes and braids of black veins came together to make a prehensile ‘pony-tail’ with a scorpion stinger on its end.

Jamie Lynn’s human form lay crumpled like a bloody bed sheet on the floor. The Beast stood in the middle of where her stomach had been. Tentacles instead of legs held ‘her’ to the floor. Dozens of them held her up; now it was Damon’s turn to vomit.


Readers, it’s all in your hands now! Vote for your favorite of these Ghost Stories over in our CHUDSTORIES forum on our message boards. If you’re not already a registered member, sign up (it’s free)!