Wednesday, December 15, 2010


Prompt: You are trapped (alone or with others) in a single location during the fury and/or aftermath of a blizzard of historic proportions.
Genre: Open
Word Count: 1500 words or less

What delightful circumstances, and what a perfect setting for a monumental practical joke. Or maybe not...


Jerome Hoggstratten couldn’t be happier. He had never belonged to any in-crowds, either during his school years or during his be-on-your-own years. Actually, he had never really belonged to anything or anyone, for that matter. Of course, in the past, that was perfectly alright with Jerome. After all, he read the papers, religiously followed the news, and watched each and every forensic, cop, mystery, and cold case show on TV. He’d seen some of them two or three times. Reruns were such a blessing, as sometimes one was momentarily distracted by outside occurrences and one might miss a detail or two. It might appear small on the front end, but more often than not, these minor points ended up turning the investigation every which way from Sunday, and resulted in the identification and apprehension of the perpetrator. Lives were saved and the world was made right again. At least until the next one decided to show his or her stuff…

Serial killers, mass murderers, devil worshipers who performed human sacrifices--they were out there all around us. Jerome knew it, and accepted the harsh reality of it. So, he was going to make sure that he was totally prepared for the day he crossed paths with one. Statistically, it was a very real possibility. Many individuals’ lives connected in some way with one of these monsters, and unless victimized, never knew it until the face of evil was plastered all over the 6 o’clock news. Then came the ‘he seemed so normal’ and the ‘she was such a nice girl and helped me with my groceries’. Well, Jerome wasn’t about to be duped like so many others. He would know. He watched documentaries.

Funny how others didn’t appreciate this critical insight of his. People would seem friendly and appear to want to get to know the real Jerome, but the minute he tried to share some life-saving tips of how to see behind the mask of evil, they were gone. Jerome knew they would be the ones identified as being the body found dismembered under a picnic table in the park. So, if they didn’t want to take advantage of his expertise, fine. They would become victims of the Ted Bundys and the John Wayne Gacys of this world. But not him--not Jerome.

The co-workers at his new job were so different though. They shared all his interests and even invited him up to spend a long weekend at a cabin one of the guys owned. He could barely contain his excitement at the prospect of being able to spend several days with those who viewed the world his way and saw it as the dark and terrifying place it was, with danger and death around every corner. He couldn’t wait to get up there, so he decided to leave hours ahead of schedule. He had been told where the key was, so he packed a couple changes of clothes and several books exploring the minds of those who kill for some light reading while he waited for his new friends to arrive.

He had been wise to arrive ahead of schedule since the weather had taken a real turn. Light snow had been forecasted, but as it was, he was barely able to find the cabin in the blizzard that came out of nowhere, much less even make it out of his car. The snow was coming down so thick and fast, by the time he parked at the side of the cabin, he could barely open his door. He fought the wind and white-out conditions as he brought his suitcases in and finally shut and bolted the door. The generator would keep the power on, the fireplace was a Godsend, the cupboards were well stocked and there was even a full walk-in freezer off the kitchen. Everything he would need to get through the next few days in warmth and comfort. Everything except friends.

Jerome knew none of them would be able to get there in those conditions and he would be alone. Again. Well, he thought, at least I brought my books and I can study and take notes. When the storm lets up and my friends arrive, I can use my notes during our discussions. I’m sure it won’t be too much longer.

* * *

Jack Knowles couldn’t believe that weird-ass from the mailroom, Jerome whatever, had fallen for it and actually shown up. He, Tommy Silverman, Sharon Gitsby and Lucille Wohby, had laid it on pretty thick to him how truly interested they were in all that killer bullshit of his. What a Class A jerk. Sharon had approached Jerome and handled the invite. The way she looked deeply into those vacant black eyes of his and told him he simply must join them this weekend, while gently stroking his cheeks and running her hands through his barely there hair had done the trick. Now, the four of them sat in an RV behind the cabin, drinking beer and planning how to scare the crap out of good old Jer. They knew he’d be early, so they came earlier than early and hooked the RV up to the generator and waited. They knew Jerome wouldn’t go out back, what with the woods and all that surrounded the cabin. A serial killer might be hiding there. One never knew. They had to laugh. What a grand time they were going to have and what an even grander time they would have telling everyone back at the office what a pussy Jerome was. They knew he’d freak and the girls had their camcorders ready to catch every second of his meltdown. Trapped by a blizzard in a snowstorm, total white-out so no running to the car and trying to summon help… Maybe they’d upload it to the Web. Oh yeah. Now, that would really be an award-winning joke on the Jermeister.

* * *

On Monday evening while on his drive home, Jerome felt conflicted. On the one hand, he was so proud of himself having survived his encounters with what he knew would be called ‘The Cabin Killers’. He’d send an anonymous letter to the authorities explaining how they’d been caught, but taking no credit for himself. Give credit where credit is due. Basking in glory was not Jerome’s way. The downside of all of this was the betrayal by his co-workers. All of them psychotic, sociopathic and deadly. Lying in wait for him at the cabin, moving around in the dark when they thought he was asleep, planning his demise. And the cameras? My God, he shuddered, those evil girls were going to film it all: My torture, my death, and most likely, my dismemberment. The axes had been plentiful around the cabin. Bastards. Now, the world was all upside down again and he’d have to find yet another job. How could he ever be sure there weren’t more of them within that firm. He couldn’t. Not really.

One by one they had come and one by one he had vanquished them. Them in their ski masks and black clothes jumping out at him and laughing. All that laughter. Once Jerome ran Jack through with a poker, his laughter stopped. A carving knife drawn quickly across Tommy’s throat ended his mirth. Lucille had come in with her little camera whispering for Jack and a swift twist of her neck had put her down. Sharon had been the last, creeping in and calling for the others. Jerome let her see it coming. She deserved it, luring him there the way she did. He did her with a pair of gardening shears. It was slow, and she was still breathing and reaching for him when he placed her, along with her co-conspirators, inside the walk-in. Thought you put one over on Jerome, didn’t you, he had said to her as he closed the door and bolted it shut. That’ll hold them till the police can get up here.

No one would know he had been there since he had kept his gloves on the whole time. Forensically, that was wise. There were never going to be any DNA errors where he was concerned. He wouldn’t be wasting away on Death Row for a crime he didn’t commit. Not him--not Jerome.

What he most agonized over though was how he had almost been taken in. He had obviously missed a sign somewhere in their behavior. He had to give them credit though. As mass murderers or serial killers--he would have to figure out what category they fit in later--they were good. So very good. Give credit where credit is due, Jerome always said.


  1. Nice story, Jerome is a very believeable character.... rational actions (in his mind) make him to be the very thing that he despises!

  2. Thanks Reg, for stopping by and commenting. Glad you enjoyed it. Fear can be a destructive emotion. Unfortunately, Jerome still doesn't see what his have done to him.

  3. You know I have met a few Jeromes, the ones I encountered were not into serial killers but they were still people I stayed away from.

    Great story.

  4. Hi, BB, Thanks for stopping by. Glad you enjoyed my little tale. I agree with you. There's something about life's 'Jeromes'. When your gut tells you to stay clear, there's a reason. Listen.

  5. Great story! You know,if one can believe the news, characters similar to Jerome actually lurk out there and do what you've just written... very creepy. Wait... now I sound like Jerome...

  6. Hi, Ingrid, Glad you enjoyed this. What's really creepy is that I have known 'Jeromes'. Super scary. When they look at you, you really don't want to know what it is they are thinking!

  7. Joyce, you encapsulate the fact that his fate was sealed by his early isolation. This is a great piece, full of nicely macabre incidents and a telling narrative.

  8. Thanks so much, Richard, for your kind words. Sadly, he was pretty much a done deal before the weekend getaway. One does have to be careful with practical jokes. Some people really have no appreciation of that type of humor. Glad you enjoyed it!