Richard Trenton Chase opened his eyes. He was out. He was back. This was the real world; he could feel it. They really did give me a day pass. I’ll be damned. He laughed aloud at the phrasing.
For almost an hour, he just lay on his back in the grass and looked at the night sky. He was naked. Of course, he thought, when’s the last time I wore clothes? Had to be thirty years at least. My, how time flies.
He sat up in long grass, brownish and rough. To his right, a very straight line of trees; to his left, a silo, a barn and a house. There was a television on downstairs. In the distance, Chase could see the lights of a good-sized city bouncing off the clouds.
He stood, brushed off the grass clinging to him as best he could and walked to the house, humming, “Old MacDonald had a Farm.” When he got there, he looked through the window first. The clock on the wall said was 1:15 am. He stepped onto the porch and tried the door. Unlocked. That’s how he knew this house needed his kind of help.
Chase walked through the first floor, leaving dirty footprints on the hardwood and occasional throw rug. IN front of the TV, still on, slept a woman who had to be at least 75 years old.
“Excuse me will you,” he whispered to the old lady. He headed into the kitchen. He pulled a large knife from the block.
When he got back to TV Lady, she was still sleeping peacefully in her chair. Chase took her chin in her hand; it was cool and dry. Her eyes fluttered open and he smiled at her.
“Shhh,” he said, and pushed the knife into her heart. She lasted a while but made no sound; she didn’t struggle. She just looked at him, eyes asking why. He had no answers for her. When she was all the way dead, Chase stepped back. So far, so good. He climbed the stairs.
First he came to a bathroom done in peach, which looked pink in the night-light’s glow. In the next was a child, six or seven. He looked like an angel. Chase kept moving down the hall. There was just one more room, a large one. In it, the farmer slept with his wife; or maybe, Chase corrected himself, the farmer is sleeping with her husband. Best not to judge before you know the facts.
Carefully, he climbed onto their bed; they both stirred, but didn’t wake.
Chase pounced, leading with the knife, using his momentum to score a deep cut on the man’s face, eliciting a scream. Chase laughed and drove his knee into the man’s groin through the sheets. Then, he stabbed again, in the side of the head. The man stopped suddenly, body rigid.
“I taste pineapples,” he said.
Chase pulled the knife out of her husband’s head and stabbed the wife. It was a bad cut, but not lethal. Not yet anyway. Chase thought he might have hit her lung. She gasped.
“Why?” she said. “What did we do? Why are you doing this?”
“You left your door unlocked.” Chase smiled reassuringly at her, then stabbed her again and again until he was sure she was gone.
When he was finished with her, Chase rested the blade against the man’s throat, which made him pause. He looked up at Chase, tried to speak. Chase nodded, gave him a small smile to say, it’s okay; you don’t have to talk. Then Chase sliced deep into the man’s throat, spraying arterial blood across the room.
“Like Jackson Fuckin’ Pollack!” Chase turned at a noise and saw the boy in the door. Kid still looked like an angel, albeit a frightened one.
“What’s your name, kid?”
“This is gonna do bad things to you, Charlie. Tonight is gonna mess you up for life. But! There’s an upside, kiddo. I’m gonna let you live. What do you say?”
Chase nodded. “You’re welcome. I have to go now, Charlie. So much to do. Do not call the police. Do you understand me, Charlie?”
“Sir! God Damn, but it’s good to know people are still raising kids to be polite.”
Chase walked out of the room, patting Charlie on the head leaving the boy’s parents’ blood on his head. He set the knife down in the kitchen and left the house, pausing only to take the car keys from the hook on the wall, and drove their Ford Escort wagon down the road, carefully observing the speed limit.
He drove only as far as the next farm. It was now almost four am, Halloween morning. Out here in the country, folks might just be getting up soon. The gravel driveway was uncomfortable on his bare feet, but Chase didn’t mind. Pain is good for the soul. His soul could use all the good it could get.
The door was locked. Okay. No problem. Back in the car. See what’s next on the road. Chase drove away, and just like that, a family of eight got to live.
Just outside of town, Chase came across a nice, cozy subdivision. Well-manicured lawns, tasteful ornaments and matching garbage cans spoke of moderate wealth and conformity. He parked the car and peeled his naked, tacky body off the seat. It made a ripping noise, which made Chase laugh; he stifled it, but it kept threatening to bubble up again. He walked to the first house on the block. Door locked. Okay. The next one was locked, too. No problem. He was almost cheerful as he got the third door and found it locked as well. Maybe my work is done for the day, he thought. Maybe no one else needs my services.
The fourth door opened just as he reached for the handle. A woman stood there, holding a garbage bag. She was startled by Chase, but then looked concerned.
“My God! What happened to you?”
“Honestly,” Chase said, “I’ve been through Hell.” He managed not to laugh at his joke.
“Are you hurt? You’re covered in blood!”
“No, no. It’s okay. It’s not mine.”
She started to look worried, took a half step back.
“It’s cow blood,” Chase said. “A Halloween prank. My fraternity brothers put me up to it. I’m supposed to knock on someone’s door right at dawn, covered in blood and scare them. Only now, I feel really bad about it.”
“You poor man. You must be freezing. Come inside. You can use our shower to clean up and I’ll find something for you to wear. My husband is bigger than you, but maybe he has some sweats you can use.”
“You’re very kind.” Chase walked into her house. He noted the clean surfaces and lack of clutter: no kids. He noted the feminine print on the wallpaper, the floral couch and matching recliner, the flowers in a vase on the table: husband no longer there; he may be imaginary. She showed him the bathroom, avoiding looking at his nakedness. She pointed out the towel she kept for guests and said she was about to put on coffee and would he like some? He would.
Chase bathed in the shower. It was his first shower in decades, and he stayed in there a good long time. When he got out, he discovered she had put a pair of sweatpants and a T-shirt on the toilet for him. He hadn’t heard her come in and was bothered by that. Mustn’t let my guard down, he thought. He dried and dressed; the clothes fit well enough. Chase could smell coffee now. Coffee was another thing he hadn’t had in a long, long time.
“This is really very kind of you,” he told her over the lip of his mug. “It’s nice to know there are still some decent people in the world.”
“Fewer of us all the time, I think.” She shook her head, drank some coffee. “If you don’t mind my saying so, you seem a bit old to be pledging a fraternity.”
“I’m thirty. Yeah. I know. I dropped out of school for several years to work, but I wanted to go back and get my degree. My old man was a Delta, so it seemed like the right thing to do. Now, I’m not so sure. Hazing the old guy seems like everybody’s favorite sport.”
“I’ll just bet. People can be so cruel.”
“You have no idea.” There was silence for a moment as they sipped the hot liquid. “This is good coffee.”
“It’s fair trade.” She said it with pride.
“Why, I’m surprised you don’t know. Fair trade means the people who pick the beans are given a living wage instead of being treated like slaves. I only ever buy fair trade products; we all have a responsibility to take care of the world, don’t you think?”
“Sure, I guess. I never really thought about it.”
“Too many people don’t think about it. My goodness! How rude am I? I never even asked for your name.”
“Richard. Richard Chase. And yours?”
“Donna Logan. Pleased to meet you, Richard.” She put out her hand and he took it. She shook like a man.
“Pleased to meet you, too, Donna. I guess I couldn’t have picked a better house for this stupid prank. You’ve been so nice to me.”
“Think nothing of it. I want you to keep those clothes, too. I’ll find you some socks before you leave, though I don’t think we have any shoes that will fit you, I’m afraid. Thick, wool socks will serve for a bit. Are your frat brothers close by? Do you need a ride somewhere? I’m going to the gym in a bit anyway, so I could take you.”
“Can I ask you a question, Donna?”
“Just before I showed up at your door, and you went to take out the garbage, was your door locked?”
“Um, no. I don’t think so. I hardly ever lock it. This is a very safe neighborhood. Why do you ask?”
“Just curious. It’s one of those ‘ice-breaker’ questions I like to ask. I would be thrilled if you could give me a ride into town. I’ll jump out at the gym, so you don’t have to make a special trip.”
Donna collected their empty mugs and rinsed them in the sink. She heard Chase step into the kitchen and turned to let him know it would just be a moment. He held a stool above his head. The heavy wooden stool, held by the calmly psychotic man she had allowed into her house, came down on Donna’s head with enough force to kill her instantly. It was seven am. Halloween was off to a good start.
Chase had killed seventeen people by the time the cops caught him. An alarming number of people in the subdivision did not lock their doors. They will after this, he thought. Once again, he was naked and covered in blood.
They cuffed him and threw him into the squad car much harder than necessary. They said they would hold him overnight downtown, but that he would be taken to maximum security in the morning.
“I won’t be here in the morning,” Chase told the cops. “After midnight, I’m gone. I’ll tell you, though, it’s been a hell of a lot of fun being back.” And he laughed and laughed.
They ran his prints and got an immediate hit: Richard Trenton Chase, Born May 23, 1950; died December 26, 1980. That was impossible. That guy was dead. Long dead. Killed himself in prison.
“Who are you really,” demanded the big cop, pointing his nightstick at Chase.
“Richard Chase. I’ve been in Hell. Seen things you can’t imagine. Been through tortures Dante never thought of. But they let me out on a day pass as part of a sort-of work-release program. And, let me tell you, I have been having a really, really good time.”
“Fuck you,” the cop said. And, he sat outside the cell, watching Chase, occasionally glancing at the clock. At 11:58 pm, he stood and walked to the cage.
“Alright, Chase,” he said. Let’s see your little disappearing act.”
With inhuman speed, Chase flew at the bars, catching the big cop before he could retreat. His left hand snaked through the bars, grabbed the cop’s pistol and yanked it from the holster. The cop put his own hand down on Chase’s, keeping the gun from going anywhere. Chase bit the cop’s cheek, tearing flesh away and spat it in the cop’s eye. It was enough. Chase got the gun up, thumbed off the safety and shot the cop three times center mass. His body armor absorbed it, but it hurt like hell and he doubled over. Chase stole a glance at the clock, saw he only had seconds left, and put the barrel to the cop’s head.
“And that makes eighteen,” he said, and fired.
The shots drew cops from all over the building. Seconds after midnight, they found the big cop’s body on the floor, his pistol inside the empty cell. The prisoner was nowhere to be found.
When they reviewed the security footage, they watched Chase kill one of their own, and then they watched him disappear, gun falling to the floor. They watched it again and again. It never changed and they never quite believed it happened.
From then on, every Halloween, the cops in that department were extra paranoid, jumping at shadows; a few innocent teenagers nearly got shot. Eventually, they forgot. Just in time for the next damned soul to get a day pass.
Ken MacGregor writes and edits stuff. When not doing that, he can frequently be found reading, playing with his kids, or laughing at life's bizarre little quirks.
Production by Mjae & Desmond
Music by John Skipp
Image by Rudy and Peter Skitterians
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