The trailer truck roared down the ebony filled street, its speed topping well over eighty, the moonlight gleaming off its chrome rims.
Not another car dared to appear on the winding road and it was a good thing, for this truck had no intention of stopping for anything or anyone.
Seemingly out of control, it screeched around the bends and turns at a breakneck pace, threatening to go belly up at any moment.
It’s speed climbed faster still, tires smoking, backend fishtailing and cab lumbering until it swerved from the road completely.
Trashing the barrier, the truck roared over rugged and unpaved ground, kicking up dust and gravel. It made a straight line for the edge of the cliff that lay ahead of it.
The driver’s door sprung open and a woman jumped out.
She rolled to the ground, guarding her head and arms. Moving quickly, she curled herself up into a ball and tucked out of the way of the runaway truck just before it screamed over the edge.
She lifted her head and watched it vanish from her sight, listening to it clatter and rumble to a thunderous death. Flames lit up the night sky in vivid orange and crimson as a smile drew across her face.
Blood streaked her face and hands, but it was not her own. She got to her feet and wiped the dirt from her black jeans, as she slowly made her way to the edge of the cliff and looked down. A giggle escaped her.
“That’ll teach him. Bastard!” She checked the switchblades tucked into her leather boots to make sure they were still there and then began wiping the blood from her hands and face...with a lace tissue.
She never went anywhere without it. It was her lucky charm. The tissue that wiped the blood from her very first kill off her hands.
“That ought to take them months to figure out,” she said and headed back to the road. She giggled about him again. Truckers were so easy. He had picked her up at the little diner back on the interstate. He assumed she was a hooker. That’s the last mistake he’d ever make.
He was the sixth one in three months and the police still didn’t have a clue.
She stood on the side of the road, put her thumb out, and waited. It would not be long before some dude picked her up again. They were such suckers for her raven tresses and liquid blue eyes.
As she stood, she thought she heard rustling. “What was that?” A shuffling caught her attention. Was it footsteps...out here?
The sudden blow to the back of her head plunged her into total darkness.
In a thickly settled neighborhood, the house of a divorced schoolteacher was mysteriously stricken with a power failure. A strange silence filled the house, which was unusual for the teacher, for she liked her TV loud and her outside lights left on all night.
With great care, he wrapped the body in garbage bags and hoisted it into his muscled arms. He stood at least six feet tall and probably weighed about two twenty. His long dark hair was tied into a ponytail to keep it out of his eyes. Out the back of the house his car sat with its trunk open.
He rolled the body into the truck and threw the blood stained ice pick with it.
He savored the blood on his hands, letting his tongue caress them. From out of his pocket he pulled a pair of the schoolteacher’s panties that he’d removed from her lifeless body. He brought them up to his nose and took a hearty whiff before stuffing them back in.
For a moment, he paused and stared up at the moon, rising full in the sky. His mother used to take him for moonlit walks and they would lay outside in the grassy yard under a blanket of stars. Those were their special times, the times when she used to touch him and kiss him in secret places.
Pulling himself back from reminiscing, he was about to jump back into his car and drive the schoolteacher off to his place to have some more fun when a noise caught his attention.
Something from the hedges, he thought, something shaking, shifting. Was someone there?
Before he could turn around, the dull thud swept across his head and down he went.
The thin, bald man kissed her deeply, his tongue exploring hers eagerly. The two sat on his couch making out. He knew that his lean, toned body was a turn on to her and he saw in her eyes exactly what she wanted him to do.
It was a shame it wasn’t the same as what he wanted to do. He caressed her face, her neck with his left hand working it under her shirt and to her breasts.
His right hand slid down between the cushions of his couch.
She pressed up against him, a slight moan of ecstasy escaping her. He could feel her heart beating against him and that spurred him on.
With a thrust, he yanked a wire from under the cushions and quickly slung it around her throat.
He watched her eyes widen with shock, her face drain of all color; it turned him on, more than any kiss or caress could.
He pulled with all of his strength, tightening the wire around her neck, watching the blood stream down her chest.
She kicked and swung her fists at him, but it was no use. He was much too strong and within moments, her arms stopped flailing, her legs went still and her body went limp.
He sighed, throwing the wire down on the coffee table and getting up off the couch. All the excitement left him needing to relieve himself. He was headed toward the bathroom when a noise echoed in his coat closet.
Pausing before it, he listened again and heard nothing. He looked back at her body. She was still there, lying dormant. Nope, couldn’t have been her. He chuckled and shook his head. He turned to go to the bathroom when something blunt cracked him atop his baldhead. He immediately went out.
Her head ached, a tingling shooting through her entire skull. The second thing she noticed was the cold, hard floor against her face. She opened her eyes suddenly, realizing she was vulnerable. It took a moment for the room to come into focus, the murky features shimmering into view, her eyes tearing.
Noticing that she was not alone in the room, she sprang to her knees and put hers back to the nearest wall.
In the far corners of the room two men sat, as bewildered as she was, rubbing their heads and shaking out the cobwebs.
She reached for the switchblades in her boots and discovered to her dismay that they were gone. The men scanned one another with untrusting looks then peered at her. They remained silent.
She got off her knees and crouched, like a soldier ready to pounce, like an animal ready to strike. Her eyes gave the men the once over. One was at least six feet tall and most likely over two hundred pounds she surmised. He had recently killed. She could smell it on him. He reeked of blood and death. His long hair was tied back and she studied the scars on his face, most likely gotten them in a bar or prison fight.
The other man was lean and bald, head shaved actually, to hide the fact he was losing his hair. He was decked in faded denim from head to toe, a vest with a white t-shirt underneath and a pair of tight jeans. His sneakers were black and his belt matched.
He too was a killer and enjoyed it, the fresh, clean look of his face meant he felt no guilt or remorse. That man never lost a night’s sleep.
Without weapons or a concept of what was happening, she wasn’t sure she could take them both on but she sensed they were not responsible for her being here. They seemed to be in the same situation as she.
“Where the hell am I?” She barked at them with a sting in her voice. “What is this place?” She was growing impatient. “How did I get here--Goddammit answer me!”
“Watch your tongue or I’ll cut it out,” the big man answered.
“With what? You’re as unarmed as I am,” she replied.
“I don’t need a weapon.” He wriggled his fingers in the air at her.
“Enough,” the bald man spoke up. “None of us knows how or why we’re here. So let’s cut the bullshit and figure it out.”
She said nothing and instead studied the room. It was quite Spartan; its walls and floors were polished marble. There were no doors, no windows, no apparent way out. She spied a small round screen in the center of the ceiling.
“There’s got to be some kind of way out,” the bald man said, getting to his feet and placing his hands on the walls.
The other two eyed him carefully, watching his every move. He was bit too calm.
“You two aren’t getting the jump on me,” the big man said, standing next. “I don’t know what you want or how you two got me here. But I’ll snap you both in half if you don’t open this place up.”
“Oh stuff it back in your pants.” She stood last and eyed the screen above them again. “I’ve taken down bigger than you. Besides, it could have been you who brought us here.”
“I’ve about had it with you sister. I’d like to ring that pretty little neck of yours.” He began towards her.
She clenched her hands into fists and felt her heart beginning to race in her chest. She itched to claw the eyes out of the big goon and stuff them down his throat.
“Christ!” The bald man yelled again. “Would you two cool it! Something is wrong here. Someone else brought us here and for a reason. Now, I don’t know either of you and you don’t know me but we all know we have one thing in common and we enjoy it. It quiets the voices, it quenches the thirst, it fills the heart, it makes us feel alive or whatever. But we’ll never be able to do it again if we don’t get out of here and fighting with each other won’t get us that.”
“On the contrary,” a soft, smooth voice called from the screen in the ceiling above them.
The three looked up at the screen, contempt on their faces. At least someone was finally revealing themselves. The voice was clearly male and after a moment’s pause, addressed them again:
“That’s exactly how you will earn your freedom. You three are the fiercest, most brutal serial killers to walk the streets at this time. I have summoned you here for my personal amusement.”
The woman hissed under her breath.
“That’s right, you see I admire such skill and cunning, such savage primal instincts. It’s been a while since I’ve had a contest and you three are just the thing I need. I’ve always wondered what it would be like to pit the most deadliest of killers against one another. So here is my offer, as simple as it is. You three will each leave this room through separate doors, you will hunt the others down and the last person standing wins their way out of this place. Refuse me and this room will fill with poison gas and you will all die.”
They scowled, refusing to answer the voice from above.
“Out there, in the halls and mazes you will be reunited with your weapons of choice. Beware however, there are traps abound that will add to your challenge. This will surely be a test of wills and a contest to be remembered forever. I thank you for your participation.”
“Bastard,” the woman whispered under her breath.
“Yes Lilith,” the voice chuckled. “You are strong willed and treacherous, you will be fun to watch.”
How the hell did he know my name?
Lilith glared at the screen, wishing she could climb up and tear it out of the ceiling.
“And you Nathan, all brawn and no brain. Will your strength reign supreme?”
The big man gave the screen the finger and said nothing.
“And Jared, cunning and clever. Will your resourcefulness score you freedom?”
The bald man looked up, shook his head and smiled.
“Ah, this will be quite enjoyable.”
The three gathered under the screen and eyed one another, giving each other the once over, sizing the up competition.
“Let’s begin. I think the rules are pretty simple, there aren’t any. Just do what you do best. Nathan, you will go first.”
The wall behind the big man opened with a yawning crack. A jagged slice of darkness awaited him. Nathan grumbled before approaching the opening. “I don’t like this, not one bit. Smells rotten.” He glared back at his two comrades, who strained to see through the gaping crack, and climbed through.
As soon as he was through the wall closed up.
“Jared, now you.”
The wall closest to Jared opened with a similar effect. “No one’s getting the best of me,” Jared said as he examining the opening, peered into the darkness then began to climb through. He turned back to Lilith and winked. “See ya soon, sweet stuff.”
“Last but most certainly not least, Lilith,” the voice rasped with self-confidence.
The wall in front of Lilith bellowed and rocked before groaning open just like the others. Lilith stared up at the little speaker in the ceiling and pointed her finger directly at it. “You will regret this. When I’m through with the others, I’m coming for you.” She jumped through the wall without hesitation.
The first thing Lilith noticed about the hall she stood in was the dim light emanating from the row of naked light bulbs that lined the ceiling. The floor was made of dirt that scuffed in clouds of dust as she walked.
A variety of doors lined the walls and she wasn’t sure which one she should enter first. One thing was for sure she wanted to find her knives and fast.
The smell of excrement wafted in the air around her but she’d smelled worse. She wasn’t about to let the atmosphere of this place take her off balance. She’d smelled rotting bodies, the scent of urine soaking the pants of quaking men, vomit of those witnessing her deeds and the stench of burning flesh. Nothing could faze her.
She went to the first door on her left and took hold of the knob.
She pulled her hand away fast. The knob was hot, extremely hot. She could feel the heat all over the door, washing through it in waves. She decided to avoid this one.
Turing to her right, she walked up to another door and tried the knob. It felt normal and opened with ease. The door creaked wide against the wall and Lilith stepped into the room.
Nathan kicked the door in with his foot, a trail of spittle escaping his mouth. He stepped into the dust-laden room and his eyes lit up when he saw his ice pick lying on a table across the room.
He started towards the table when the floor dropped beneath him.
A pit opened up, the floor appearing as if it wanted to swallow him whole, and Nathan lost his footing.
The big man caught himself as he fell, his huge arms latching onto a corner of the floor, dirt and debris echoing around him.
He had just managed to keep himself from tumbling into the pit and looking down, the dim light of the room casting its light into the pit, he noticed the silhouettes of massive spikes.
He pulled himself out of the pit and back onto solid ground. He grunted once as he stood up, huffing and puffing and eyed his ice pick.
Nathan lumbered over to the table and grabbed his favorite weapon. Some dust sailed onto his head from the ceiling as he lifted the pick above him, causing him to shake himself and roll his eyes.
“Time for some slaughter,” he barked.
The slender, savvy Jared ran his hands along the walls of the hall, checking for any sign of traps or a secret door or a clue to the way out.
The lights above him flickered and buzzed, threatening to fizzle out.
Jared bent at the knees and searched the floor. Perhaps a trap door was there, perhaps just a trap. He wasn’t sure what to expect, but he had to be ready for anything.
The hall stretched down ahead of him and met another, splitting off to the left and the right. Jared followed it down and stood at the crossroads, pondering his next move.
Shadows danced all around him, twisting and shaping into phantom figures. The lights in the new hall flickered as well. Jared turned to his left and spied three or four closed wooden doors He then turned to his right and saw bare walls of stone covered by tapestries of cobwebs. The dirt on the floor below him was disturbed as if someone had been through here recently.
His eyes scanned his surroundings again, searching for the cameras he was sure were on him. The voice had said it wanted to watch the fun. The amusement of the game but Jared had yet to spot any leering eyes.
He chose the right path and started down the hall, where the doors were less frequent and the darkness bled into the path before him.
The further he walked into the dark, the more his eyes grew accustomed to it. He was a feral person anyway, he enjoyed the dark, his vision in the dark was better than most. He could sense any other living presence in the darkness and be on top of them before they knew what hit them.
A skill he had been born with and put to such devious use.
A single bulb glowed on the ceiling above him now and that was the extent of his light. He stared up at it and noticed something near the bulb. His wire.
His killing toy was entwined loosely around the bulb, but it seemed to high to reach.
He studied it for a moment, then looked around the walls again. Curtains of darkness tried to camouflage the solution to his dilemma, but Jared would not be so easily defeated.
The walls held secrets, and he knew it. He went to one of them and ran his hands over it. The surface was rough and jagged, seeming to indent in certain places. Jared grabbed hold of a notch in the wall and lifted his leg, pressing his foot against the wall as well.
Inhaling deeply, Jared hoisted his body up off the ground and began scaling the wall, the notches and grooves allowing him to reach the top with little effort.
He turned to see the light it was not far from him. He stretched his limber, rubbery body and reached for his wire. His arm brushed again the bulb, the heat stinging his finger and with a final thrust, felt the wire against his skin.
The light bulb burst, plunging him into utter darkness and sending him crashing to the floor.
He landed on his back hard, a thud resounding through the hallway. Dust sailed in clouds around him and his head ached but the wire was clutched in his hand. He smiled.
A sound echoed in the distance.
It sounded like a struggle. A grunt here. A moan there. Some cursing.
Jared slipped to his feet and crawled silently down the hallway, through the dirt and dust, spiders and centipedes scurrying over his hands.
Turning the corner, he found a nicely illuminated alcove and within stood Nathan his foot caught in what looked like a bear trap.
The steel teeth bit deep into the big man’s ankle, locking him tightly in its grip. Red pools formed on the ground around him. A chain drew from the trap to a stake embedded into the floor, securing the guy in place like the big dumb animal that he was.
Jared laughed to himself, watching Nathan trying to pull free, struggling and cursing with outrage, his ice pick on the floor beside him. He pulled and pulled on the chain then used his hands to try to pull the trap apart only to succeed in cutting his fingers to ribbons.
A loud roar filled the room as Nathan grew angrier with every passing moment.
Jared tightened the wire around his hands and stayed low. “Showtime,” he whispered to himself. He began to slip into the shadows and make his way slowly behind the big man. “Moron. This is going to be too easy. I’ll be out of here in no time. I just hope the woman is as pathetic as this one.”
Nathan bent to his foot again, the blood pumping out of it, as Jared rose up behind him.
Jared slung the wire around Nathan’s throat with one sweep and pulled with all of his might.
Lilith stepped into the room and heard a snap, immediately she dropped to the floor and rolled off to the side.
A pendulum blade swung through the open doorway in a gust then retracted, hitting the wall behind it in the room and embedding itself.
She laughed, as she felt the keen sharpness of the blade barely skim her breasts and realized how close that had been.
She jumped to her feet and inspected the room. It was as plain and filth ridden as everything else. In the corner sat a bucket, one you would expect to use in a well. She walked up to it and gave it a soft tap with her foot.
A familiar clanking rose out of it. She reached in and pulled out her knives, her twin blades. Old friends were at last reunited. The amount of people she’d thrust those knives into was staggering. The mastermind behind this didn’t know who he was messing with. After all she’d been trained by a killer herself.
Her old man had taught her how to take down a person with one blow to the leg or a wrench of the arm. He showed her where the pressure points were on the human body and how to use anything available as a weapon.
He let her watch every adventure, every deed, wanting her to learn the ways of the family, the joys of anarchy and chaos. He enjoyed his killing as well, kidnapping and hostage taking was one of his specialties and he liked to watch people squirm.
That’s why when she killed him on his fiftieth she let him watch it in a mirror she’d bought just for him.
She slid one knife into her boot, kept the other clutched in her right hand and walked back out of the room. “Where are the boys,” she quipped. “I’m ready to play.”
Nathan bellowed like a dinosaur in Jurassic Park, jerking his upper body and swinging Jared side to side. Finally he lurched forward again and hauled Jared off his feet.
The two struggled, grimacing and yelping, but Nathan just would not go down.
Nathan swiveled around, attempting to toss Jared from him as if he were a bull rider in a rodeo. The trap pulled and ripped at his ankle, sending waves of agony throughout his body.
The trap chain jingled and snagged Nathan’s foot, tripping him. He fell backwards against the nearest wall, smashing Jared up against it with his massive girth.
The shock wave caused Jared to loose his grip on the big man, the wire flying from his hands, his head bouncing him off the wall and dazing him.
“Fucker!” Nathan roared spotting the ice pick at his feet. He grabbed hold of it and swung hard. “No one’s taking me out!”
The pick ripped into Jared’s chest with such force it actually nailed him to the wall. Blood splattered Nathan’s face and he howled as it soaked him, grinding the pick with spite, listening to Jared’s ribs snapped, his gasps dwindle and watching his eyes widen with astonishment.
At last Jared stopped twitching and went limp, a trickle of blood drooling out of his mouth and down his chin.
Nathan pulled the pick from Jared’s body and watched it slump to the floor. He stared at the blood-dipped pick and the realization finally hit him. He swung the tool hard again and smashed the chain of the trap, freeing himself from the floor.
He limped onward the trap still attached to his ankle and vanished down the hall to continue his mission. “Your turn bitch! You hear me BITCH! I’m coming for you!”
Lilith reached the end of her third twisting hallway and found something interesting, a set of stairs. They climbed up into the darkness and turned off to the left, out of sight.
She stared up, trying to get a glimpse of where the stairs led, her fingers played with the blade of her knife. She could see some faint light above and the air smelled musty.
The inside of her mouth felt hot. She reached down, took the other knife from her boot and started up the stairs.
“Who will it be first?” She asked aloud. “The bald scrawny one or the big dumb one. Doesn’t matter. They’re both getting their pricks handed to them. What if they work together? What will I do if they gang up on me? Naw, men aren’t smart enough to work together.” She smirked as an archway began to come into view ahead of her.
She drew closer to the top, her eyes fixed on the arch, dim light dancing within it.
She stepped up to the entrance and came face to face with Nathan who stepped into the archway at the same time.
The two stood for a second equally stunned and then the ice pick tore through the air¾
Lilith ducked the blow, the pick shattering the wall, pieces of it sprinkling everywhere and lost her footing. She tumbled back down the stairs, smashing her arms and legs, thumping her head, losing one of her knives.
She landed at the bottom, head spinning, arms tingling, lips bleeding. Looking up, she saw Nathan limping down step by step, brandishing his blood stained pick.
“You’re next bitch! The game is over!” He called.
Her heart slammed against her chest as she crawled to her feet, her knees buckling. She held her remaining knife tightly as she made her way to the first door within sight.
She pushed the door open and stumbled into the room to find a pit bubbling with a black substance in the center of the room. It looked like oil to her and smelled like rotting flesh. A smell she knew well.
Behind her she could hear Nathan limping down the hall, dragging his trap, grumbling to himself. Another door waited on the other side of the pit and she made a run for it, working her way around the bubbling hole in the floor.
Into the next room she went and found it to be a dead end. Another pendulum blade swung at her from the right, she ditched it and it sunk deep into the wall to her left.
She looked around the room and saw no way out, just four walls sealing her in. Bracing herself, knife poised to strike, she prepared to face her enemy.
Nathan appeared in the doorway, the lower half of his legs soaked in the black substance of the pit, apparently he had just marched straight through it, not even bothering to walk around it.
“I’ve been looking forward to this,” He said as he started towards her, pick held aloft.
“Stop talking shit and give it your best shot!” She lunged at him and stabbed him in the neck. He reeled back, stumbling, but it only seemed to slow him for a moment. The pick toppled from his hand but he managed to backhand Lilith with the other.
The hit sent her to the floor. Nathan staggered to her again, picked her up by the hair and threw her against the wall. He continued with pummeling her with his fists.
Pain and anguish wracked her body as blotches and welts covered her, his last hit knocked a tooth out of her mouth. That’s when she saw red as rage began to replace the pain inside of her.
She lashed out at Nathan’s face with her hands, scratching him with her nails and slashing his eyes.
Covering his eyes with his hands, he backed away from her. Lilith then kicked him in the gut, driving him back even further so she could catch her breath. It was then that she remembered the steel trap still clamped to his ankle.
She drove her foot hard into his ankle and he crumbled down on one knee, wailing in agony. Lilith lifted her knee up into his face and sent him onto his back. She climbed on top of him and pulled the knife out of his neck, raising it high above her with both hands.
He pushed a clenched fist into her gut, knocking the wind out of her, the knife sailing across the room, and then threw a punch to her face with his fist. He rolled her off him and struggled to his feet.
Lilith crawled on her belly, she saw the pendulum before her and dragged herself slowly to it, her belly burning, her mouth filling with her own blood.
Nathan picked up his weapon again and stormed towards her like a runaway train, lifting it high above him. “Die you bitch, die!”
With one last reflex Lilith sidestepped the behemoth as he lurched in front of her, rolling onto the floor and catching the flailing chain of the bear trap. She yanked it with all of her strength. The chain tangled in his feet and sent him crashing down like a redwood, landing right into the lodged pendulum blade and impaling himself.
His arms went limp but his legs remained straight, keeping his body upright as a single gasp escaped him. A stream of blood poured from his mouth and pooled onto the floor.
Lilith panted heavily, chest heaving as she crawled out of the room. She stopped in front of the bubbling pit and closed her eyes. She was exhausted.
“Bravo. Bravo,” the smooth voice said. “You were my favorite.”
Lilith opened her eyes to see a figure rise out of the black, bubbling substance in the pit. It stepped towards her, the black oil oozing off it to reveal a robed figure with a cowl. “Well done my champion. You will make a great replacement.”
“What the fuck are you talking about?” Lilith spat as she got to her feet, her fists clenching.
“I needed to know who would be the best. Which of you would be able to continue my work, since your times had all come at once.”
He walked up to her and place a robed hand on her shoulder. She stood frozen as the scene unfolded before her eyes:
The trailer truck rushed for the edge of the cliff. Lilith laughed, thinking what easy prey the trucker had made, as she went to open the driver’s side door. To her horror, she found that she would not be jumping free.
The trucker was not dead, from the floor of the cab he reached for her, grabbing hold of her legs and restraining her. She screamed and fought to free herself but it was too late. The truck screeched over the side of the cliff, becoming nothing more than a mass of twisted metal before exploding into flames killing the two of them.
“No… no… NO!” Lilith screamed as she tore the cowl off of the hooded figure and stared right at herself. She screamed with terror.
The face melted away, flesh dissolving until revealing nothing but a skull. The walls around them crumbled away as the darkness slithered around them and the cold filled the air. The scent of death choked Lilith’s senses as she watched her own skin turn black and char.
“Come Lilith,” it said to her, latching on to her arm with bony fingers. “My time as the angel of death has ended… yours is about to begin.” It dragged her into the pit as she screamed and writhed to no avail, whether she liked it or not, Lilith was about to begin her new reign.