Last year, I found out about a story competition where the character that you wrote about, the the theme, and the genre were chosen for your group by the judges. Imagine my dismay when I found out that mine would be horror. I don’t read horror, don’t watch horror movies, and am a giant chicken. I don’t even know if I could tell you a lot of horror tropes.
We had to write a short story that would not exceed 2500 words and had a week to finish it. The genre was horror, the character a newscaster, and the theme was ‘A remembrance’. So, I sat down and wrote it, edited it, showed it to a few friends, and submitted it. I ended up advancing to the next round.
So, with much trepidation, I am putting it up as my day 10 Ultimate Blog Challenge post.
Content warning: Violence and torture.
Start Killin’ the News
A young newscaster and her husband find themselves in a perilous position when a madman’s obsession turns deadly. What will she do when she is in danger of making the news instead of simply reporting it?
Sharp pain throbbed through my head, dulling my senses as I struggled to open my eyes. I couldn’t remember ever hurting so terribly before, except perhaps during a bender in college.
It felt as though lead weights were on my eyes and I struggled to open them and observe. A low groan came from beside me and my heart began to race. I knew that voice with its low tones.
“Liam?” My voice croaked with the effort to speak. Merely sounding out his name felt as though shards of glass scraped my throat raw and everything inside of me ached and pulsed in misery.
I managed to open my eyes and immediately recoiled at the bright lights hanging above me. Lowering my gaze fractionally, I could see monitors and a camera mounted against the wall. I closed my eyes to try to get my bearings and hoped that the pain in my skull would ease.
Slowly, I reached out toward Liam. As I listened, I could tell that his breathing was labored.
Pain shot through me as I forced myself to roll over slowly, opening my eyes once more. Liam’s tall form lay prone on a steel examination table, his blood reflecting off of the glossy finish.
Both eyes were swollen shut and his face looked as though it had taken ten rounds from a heavyweight champ. His hands were strapped to the table and long cuts marred the perfection of his skin.
“Liam.” I plead, my voice still raspy but a little stronger. I wasn’t strapped down, although my wrists were sore. I reached up slowly to take catalogue of my injuries as my sluggish brain tried to piece together what the hell had happened. Bruises marred my throat and blood pooled in my mouth. I leaned over, spitting it out on the floor that I inanely realized was fairly pristine. I was fully clothed, wearing a yellow blouse and black skirt. I wore high heels on my feet, which I couldn’t understand. I looked as though I was dressed and ready for my job at KTLA.
Uncertain of what to do, I simply struggled to catch my breath and do what I’d been trained to in the first place–observe. It was the number one rule of any good reporter. Observe and report the facts.
Computer banks, monitors, and several microphones caught my attention. A banner swung above me and wen I sat up to get a closer look, it said ‘Fuck KTLA’. How quaint. I was stuck in some high-schooler’s bid or attention.
“Liam, baby.” I whispered. “Wake up.”
My throat clogged with emotion as I searched for other clues. A lone chair sat in the middle of the floor beneath one of the brightest lights. Crimson marked some of the chains that looped around the arms as my mind balked at what I was seeing even as fragments of memory came to me.
I didn’t want to confront those memories yet, so I focused on something that was far more pleasant.
“Liam,” I whispered again. “You can make it. Talk to me, baby. Please.”
I fought back tears as I scooted closer to him, my lips pressed against his ear. “Remember when we first met? You were a hotshot photographer and I was the play-by-the-rules newscaster? It was when I Made Best newscaster of Crossland County.”
Liam had been one of the first to congratulate me. His shock of brown hair was untamed and he had a bad boy swagger that I found both exhilarating and annoying.
While I loved reporting the news, I hated the attention the award brought my way, and it was Liam who spirited me off to a small hole-in-the-wall restaurant called Dante’s. We drank wine, laughed, talked about our jobs and our passions. I don’t know if it was love at first sight, but we definitely had a great deal of like.
“You’re so vibrant. You’re no bullshit, Jess. You just say it as you mean it. I really like that about you.”
“Yeah?” I asked, arching an eyebrow. “Good. Because I don’t want you thinking that I’m giving in to your bad boy charm.”
That first date ended with a peck on the cheek and promises that we would go out again, and we had. Late night eating spots after a long shift at KTLA, mid-morning bike rides, picnics. Late night arguments that turned in to early morning make-up sessions, and finally, a marriage proposal with the kind of wedding I could only ever dream about.
I stroked my fingers over his bruised face as I swallowed back the fear and pain as fragmented memories filled my mind like lost puzzle pieces. A man with a knife, my screams and begging him to stop, Liam’s rage-filled bellows of pain. And for some reason, I remembered myself sobbing that this was Jess Trilby from KTLA news, signing off.
Bracing my hands on the table surface, I forced myself to sit up as pain screamed through my body. Swinging my legs over the edge of the table, I took a deep breath and stood up, nearly pitching forward. No, I couldn’t just fall over and die. If we wanted to live, I needed to figure out what the fuck was going on, and fast. Because newscasters reported the facts, and right now, they were grim.
I walked carefully through the makeshift studio, its exit door in sight. I wrapped my fingers around the knob and pulled with no luck. I heaved and swore, sobbing as I desperately tried to get our one means of escape to open.
I rushed around the room, frantic for escape, for some sign of anything that would get us out of this predicament.
A wave of nausea crashed over me and I stopped, bending over double as pain bloomed throughout my body. Every bruise and cut made itself known, and I could feel my pants leg sticky with blood. I’d get us out or die trying, and at the moment, death definitely looked like an option.
A piece of paper rested in the chair, so small that I hadn’t noticed it before. So much for the power of observation. Scooping it up, I read the blurry words through a sheen of tears.
“Jess Trilby, KTLA news.” It read. “A hotshot newscaster wouldn’t stop reporting fake bullshit, so she was brought here to teach her a lesson.”
Charming. Not only was I stuck in a computer lab that doubled as a poor man’s studio, but there were written taunts as well. ‘
The memory broke free from its restraints and I clung to the arm of the chair, trembling as the force of it nearly sent me to my knees.
“Read the news!” A man’s voice screamed in my memory.
I tried to read the words but I was afraid. I’d been drugged and the man had gotten the best of Liam. He had a tray of knives. He didn’t have a lapel microphone and he’d used the big one, placing it in front of me and demanding that I report the news. The bright lights that always had been a comfort to me made me dizzy and ill. I watched as his knife sank in to Liam’s skin again and again. My body had been chained to a chair and nothing I did could save Liam.
Victor Mcnair, brother to Steven Mcnair, convicted serial killer. He’d gotten the drop on Liam and I, and now we were in some hellhole because his brother had tried to drench Crossland County with the blood of his teenaged victims.
I snapped back to the present and struggled to control my breathing. Victor Mcnair had sent threatening emails that had been reported. The cops talked to him, but nothing ever came of it. Unless he acted and physically harmed us, there was nothing that could be done. He was painted as an angry individual who just wanted justice for his brother, but none of that helped me now.
I frantically searched for a weapon, but the room was bare save for the electronics.
Hopelessness threatened to smother me, but I pushed it back. I didn’t have time for emotions. I had to get us out of here.
The door rattled as dread filled me. Victor Mcnair walked in with all of the pomp he felt his position warranted.
He carried a wicked-looking blade in one hand and smiled. He wore a tailored suit with nice leather shoes. Who knew that killers dressed to impress?
“Jess Trilby.” He drawled my name with all of the southern charm that could ooze out of him. If smarmy had a voice, his would be it. “Are you ready for round two?”
I contemplated my options. I was injured and still bleeding. I couldn’t take him in a rush attack. I needed to wait him out.
His gaze flicked toward Liam as he walked away from me, adjusting the camera. “How’s he doing?”
I struggled to speak past my revulsion. I was a newscaster. If I had anything, it was my words. I used them now, putting every ounce of my public speaking experience to use.
“Liam Trilby sustained life-threatening injuries from a stabbing.”
He paused for a moment and smiled. “Oh, so now you tell the truth. You didn’t when it came to Steven!”
“Steven Mcnair was convicted of first-degree murder. He killed fifteen victims in one year.”
I edged toward the chair as I spoke, figuring that was where he’d want me to be anyway. In my panic, I had forgotten that chains could be used to hit as well as restrain. Shaking fingers wrapped around the links as I struggled to unloop them from the chair.
“You have us here because of your brother.” I said, not bothering to acknowledge his agitation.
“You took someone that I loved. Now, I take someone that you love. We’re going live on Facebook. And then you’ll report the truth. After that, I’ll make sure your husband watches as I do to you what Steven did to those girls. And I’ll laugh as I cut your tongue out of your whore mouth. Do you know how much I’ll make you bleed?”
He turned away, typing on his computer as I frantically tugged on the chains. “I’ll bring you back over and over again only to edge you closer to death.”
Never could I imagine that villains really did monologue before the coup de grace. I finally freed the chains and hid them behind my back.
Monitors started powering on as Victor turned the camera toward me. “We’re live. Tell them. You fucking tell them.”
“How did you manage to find me, Victor? How did you get us here?”
“I tased your husband and then you.” He snapped. Comments were showing up on his screen but I was too far away to read them. The fear threatened to choke me, but I noticed him walking toward Liam, his knife extended. I didn’t know what to do, didn’t know how to end this so that we would all be okay. But I would be damned before he hurt my husband anymore.
“On Saturday, June 1, 2019, Victor Mcnair kidnapped Liam and Jesslyn Trilby while the couple were on their way to an evening out.” My voice was shaking but I forced myself to go on as he approached Liam. I only had a sliver of a chance to get us out of this alive.
“He did this because he hoped to live up to the killing spree of his brother, Steven Mcnair.” He paused, gaze sliding toward mine, but I kept looking at the computer screen. I was still too far away, but I could tell that the comment section was buzzing. I hoped it was full of people who would help us.
“He..” My voice broke. “He did this because Victor Mcnair could never hope to be Steven. Instead, he is just a talentless hack who has pissed away his entire life and career hoping to hold a candle to his older brother’s deeds.”
Victor charged toward me and I clenched my hand around the chain. He was faster than I expected. I snapped my arm forward, the links slashing him in the face, but still he kept coming. I tried to step out of his way, but I wasn’t fast enough.
He slammed in to me, all hate-filled eyes and rage. He landed on top of me, his blood pouring from his face where I’d hit him. His fist slammed hard in to my cheek and for a moment, I saw stars. If I lost this fight, Liam would lose too.
I struggled to remember anything that might help, every self-defense class I’ ever took seeming to leave my head. Anger fueled me. He reared back, knife in hand and I sat up, slamming the heel of my hand in to the bridge of his nose with a crunch. My other hand went for his eyes, but I felt a sharp pain in my arm.
The knife clattered to the floor and dimly I recalled that all of this was on air. If we died, there would be justice for us. But I didn’t want justice. I wanted to live.
His hands wrapped around my throat, squeezing and pressing, stealing precious air as he leaned over me. Blood poured from his injured nose. I tried to push my hands between us, to break the stranglehold that he had on me, but he was too strong. Keeping one hand up, I lowered the other, fingers frantically questing for the knife. Tears streamed down my face as I gripped it in blood-drenched fingers. He didn’t see me as I lifted the blade struggling to ram it in to his eyes. Screaming, his hands left my throat and I gulped in precious air, spots dancing before me and my blood pounding in my ears. I snatched the knife with my free hand and sliced upward again, hate and self-preservation fueling my movements.
He curled up on the floor screaming. There was no mercy in me now, nothing but the need to survive.
I stood up on trembling legs. He reached for me and I slammed the knife down, again and again until blood pooled and I nearly fell atop him. I kept my fingers on that knife, using it as my lifeline as the dam of fear and anger burst.
I crawled away from him as the room tilted. I heard sirens in the distance getting ever closer. The would-be killer lay on the floor, dead by my hand. “Jesslyn Trilby killed Victor Mcnair in self-defense.” I said hysterically, staring in to the camera. My hair was askew, my face bloody, and I could hear the sirens getting closer. “Law-enforcement is incoming. Jess Trilby, KTLA News, signing the fuck off.”
I heard a loud bang upstairs and the knife fell to the floor as I slid in to the black.