|The Taylight Zone - Anthology Seven
25 - Blood's Laughter - Verve
It was laughing at him. It was simply sitting there, mocking Zac; laughing at him. Where it came from what out of the realm of askable questions. There was simply something absolutely ghastly about the innocence of it…the absolutely perfect ring of blood in the centre of the table. God only knows what it was. But he knew it was blood, he was positive; the wet, coppery smell had been making him nauseous. He dared not touch it, sick thoughts had been running through his head from the moment he saw it appear. What was it, now? Laughter rang through his ears. It was going to drive him mad, and it was no one's he'd ever heard before, and the blood disappeared. Only to begin its constant drip, drip, dripping again seconds later.
Two minutes before Zac's head was in his hands. There was nothing he could do, nothing he could say, and in all the 17 years of his life he'd never had such issues. The phone lay off the hook beside his shaking shoulder, screaming the harsh, familiar dial tone. But it wasn't a dial tone, not for Zac. It was Dara's voice. Her sweet, soothing voice.
"Zac…um…I have to leave. I mean, literally leave. My father's sending me to my grandmother's in Florida…I'm pregnant."
But that's not what had really happened…that had happened two weeks before. Underneath the screaming monster was a newspaper, a newspaper dated three days before that Taylor had been hiding under his bed in hopes Zac wouldn't find it. But he had, he had found it after Taylor deliberately told him not to go under his bed. Curiosity killed the cat, was all that could be thought of the second he pulled it from under Taylor's mattress. It should have been thrown away, but in Taylor's haste he'd only thought to ram it under his bed beside porno magazines and old songs written for old girlfriends. And Zac had stumbled upon the headline news.
Oklahoma Teen Found Dead; Probable Suicide
The grainy black and white school photo of Dara blown up to gross proportions took up half the page in Zac's distorted vision, and the other quarter not filled with text describing in vivid detail her death was a smaller, ironically excellent quality photo of the dead girl. He'd burst into tears at the sight of it.
"Dara," he mumbled, tears running down to the end of his nose and dripping onto the table.
"Why…Dara…why…I loved you…so much…"
And then there it was. A dripping sound that shattered the silence and scared the life out of him. He looked up, and the most frightening thing on earth was occurring before his eyes. From nowhere at all, blood dripped onto the table. Slowly, showing a macabre beauty in its silence; a beauty only seen in the silver tint overlying the thick red. He listened to the constant dripping sound as though it were gothic music, dreading the sound of it but being swallowed by it at the same time. It was laughing at him; a horrible, childish laugh that ripped his insides apart and filled his eyes with tears. It was screaming at him; nonsense shrieks of agony that reminded him of a banshee. You're wrong, Zac, she never loved you. She only needed an excuse to be rid of you. None of them like you anymore, Zac, you're not cute anymore. They all want Taylor. They've always wanted Taylor. Taylor is perfect, Zac. Taylor has the looks, Taylor has the charm…there's nothing good about you. Dara never loved you, never loved you, not an ounce, she only wanted to get away from you… Everything's wrong for you, Zackie…
It mocked him, the blood, dripping into a perfect circle, a perfectly round pool, then slowly expanding, until it almost filled the table and he had to scoop the paper and telephone up to save them from being stained by this phantom omen. Omen of what, Zac asked himself. It was pure evil, just the sight of it. The thick blood bubbled at the centre as though it was alive, and he could hear it laughing at him. Everything was laughing at him, everything and everyone hated him. Zac couldn't watch it anymore. He stood up and ran from the kitchen, not bearing to look at the red liquid any longer. It was going to kill him, he knew it was going to kill him. He couldn't let it kill him. He had to get away from the insanity. Jessica looked up from braiding Zoe's hair on the couch.
"What's wrong, Zac?"
He looked at her blankly.
"Nothing. Nothing's wrong."
He tore out of the house before she could ask again.
Everything was distorted. No matter where he looked, he saw blood. Thick, horribly pure blood dripping off everything. Dripping off everything into perfectly round puddles. Then when he closed his eyes it was gone. He opened his eyes for a second time, and realized he was standing in the middle of a cold, empty cornfield. He'd probably walked himself through the forest into the cornfield. He aimlessly sat down. Zac's head was spinning. Everything just kept whirling around and around in front of him until it made him so nauseous he closed his eyes and blacked out.
"Zac…I love you, Zac…I'm so sorry…"
He opened his eyes and saw Dara, his sweet, innocent Dara with her huge blue eyes and baby-fine blond hair. And she was dressed in black, playing with a piece of her hair the way she had been the day he'd seen her last.
"But Zac…we can't be together…unless you come with me…"
Zac sat up. He was horrified. It wasn't Dara.
"No. No, I won't. I can't."
She smiled her sweet, playful smile.
"Yes you can, Zac, it's peaceful here. Peaceful and gray, Zac, isn't that what you always wanted, silence?"
He shook his head.
"No, no I can't. You're not Dara, you don't sound like Dara."
Her smile turned cruel, and her eyes black.
"Foolish," she mumbled, then disappeared, and Zac scrambled to his feet and on his way to home. All the way there he heard laughter; a girl's smooth, darkened laughter that swallowed him whole and blurred everything. It ran through his head like a bad song that no one wanted to hear and wrapped around him, smothering him.
The house stood empty. Where was everyone? Nowhere came to mind, for some sick reason, but… dolls belonging to ZoŽ lay in a heap on the floor, Taylor's sheets of music, half-scrawled on, were scattered across his desk. It was dead. The house was dead; devoid of all life. He looked around, hot tears filling his eyes and making everything seem larger. He raced around looking for something…anything…sharp. And he found it, too, staring at him from the mantle place; a silver-plated switchblade with a handle of ivory sent by his grandfather while on a trip. It was an antique, he mused to himself, worth well over three thousand dollars in any auction. And it had never been used.
Zac had always wondered what it would feel like to die. He knew now, digging the cool metal into his flesh. It hurt like the most unimaginable thing…draining himself of his own life. It scared him, but he couldn't do anything about it now. He sank to the floor and watched Dara return. "I told you, Zac, that wasn't the way to go. You're so foolish."
And her face twisted; he'd been right. It wasn't Dara, her hair grew to her waist and blackened and her eyes sunk in farther, and her face whitened. She was dead. He remembered her face vaguely, from somewhere…
I'll see you in Hell.
The girl. Days before, the ghastly girl who had appeared while he was signing someone's autograph and smiled her evil smile.
"Blood," she'd mumbled. "Will you sign in blood? That's my name. Blood."
The sick look that had spread across Zac's face.
"What? Go away!"
She'd smiled sweetly.
"Oh, you won't be rid of me that easily. Not at all."
He'd let the other fan go on her own business then spat on the dark girl's shoes.
"I'll see you in Hell," he muttered, and turned to leave.
"Oh, you don't know how right you are, boy," she'd whispered, and disappeared…without a trace.
"You," Zac croaked. "It's you."
"Of course, in the flesh. Welcome to the rest of your life, Zac. Do you take to heat well?"
The words were only noises to Zac, he was losing fast. He sank into oblivion.
She kicked his foot and made a snorting noise, almost a laugh.
"You are such a fool, dear boy."
As she disappeared, the room filled with her laughter, her sick, smooth, crazed laughter, and the floor slowly began to fill with Zac's blood, dripping slowly into a perfect ring on the bathroom's tiled floor. An absolutely, perfect ring.