It was a rather cool Saturday night. The SUV’s heater was only on at half blast. It subtlety jostled around as the reporting crew of the Daily Globe traversed a mostly-paved backroad on their way to Camp Murky Waters for the spookiest story they’d ever been assigned. This was no ordinary Saturday night. It was the night before Halloween and reporter Jack Kelvin, his partner Lane Lenore, and their videographer/photographer Oliver James had set out to create quite a holiday treat for their readers the next day.
Lane’s face was illuminated in white light as she scrolled through her tablet. “I’m starting to get the feeling that this may not have been the best idea. The more I look into this, the more it worries me. At first I thought it was some sort of urban legend, or exaggerated tale. But this camp really was the site of more than fifteen murders, spanning the past six years.”
”Don’t worry, Lane,” Jack said. He shrugged as he negotiated a sharp curve. “The killer is dead. The stories about him still lurking about the place are told by the local schoolchildren to scare each other.”
”They never found HollowSlahser’s body, though!” Oliver said, from the back seat.
”There’s no way that Nick Castle (his real name) survived that cabin fire a couple years ago that the camp counselors set to end him once and for all,” Jack assured them. “I mean, they did find some remains.”
”Why hasn’t this been all over the internet, an international story, by now?” Lane said as she clicked around with her index finger.
”The camp tried very hard to keep this story partially under wraps,” Jack said. “Bad publicity. It sadly didn’t matter, though. All the money they spent trying to keep the story quiet was their undoing anyway. That’s why it’s shuttered now.”
Only a crescent moon and the vehicle’s headlights illuminated the journey as they drove through a dense forest of fall colors. It was creepy enough, but fortunately it wasn’t long before they arrived at their destination.
Jack checked his phone. “GPS says this it it.” They slowly pulled into the gravel driveway of what used to be the main registration building of Camp Murky Waters. The sign with the name of the camp was starting to fade.
A middle-aged man stood outside the building, in the headlights, waiting for them. He was wearing brown pants and a brown jacket, a quite unassuming fellow standing their, quietly, puffy clouds of breath escaping his nose.
”So that’s Ralph, right?” Lane asked. “Our tour guide of the night?”
”Yep,” Jack said as he turned the SUV off. The roaring engine purred to a stop. The cold night air enveloped him as he got out of the vehicle. The three reporters also began breathing out white puffs of air.
”Good evening!” Ralph said. After the headlights went out he turned on a hand-held LED lamp.
The four of them all exchanged greetings, where the three reporters learned that Ralph had been working as the caretaker for the camp for the past few years.
”So, are we ready?” Jack said after the initial pleasantries concluded.
“Well, which murder cabin do you wanna see first?” Ralph asked. Jack found his voice a tad too cheery, given the subject matter.
”Ummm.” Jack looked at Lane, then Oliver.
”How about the, um, first one?” Lane suggested.
”Ah,” Ralph said. He pointed eastward. “That would be Cabin A. Right this way.”
The three Globe reporters followed the man as he walked them over to a quiet log cabin, dully illuminated by a nearby post light. The arched roof was painted blue, but like most of the decor of the camp, it was starting to fade. Jack pushed his dark-rimmed glasses further up his nose, as it had slid down some as they walked the somewhat rough gravel walkway. While he was at it, he also adjusted his tie. It had gotten a bit loose.
”Why the hell did I wear heels?” Lane said as she stumbled a bit on a particularly rough patch. “Jack, please, next time we have one of these excursions, talk me out of wearing stupid heels.”
”Remember when I tried to talk you out of going on that blind date?” Jack said. “If you wouldn’t listen to me then...”
”He was the one that was literally blind, wasn’t he?” Oliver said. He chuckled a little. Jack chuckled as well.
”You guys never tire of that story, do you?” Lane said. She sighed.
Ralph cleared his throat. “So this is the first murder cabin.” He gestured to the door. “Wanna go on in?”
”I never thought I’d say this about a ‘murder cabin’ but sure, let’s,” Jack said.
Oliver took a few pictures of the cabin with his phone. Then he turned on his shoulder-mounted camera. It illuminated the area with a bright light. He began shooting some footage.
Suddenly they heard leaves rustling in the nearby woods.
”What was that?” Lane said, looking around.
”Probably just a deer,” Ralph assured them. The three reporters looked around, somewhat nervously. But they ultimately accepted Ralph’s explanation.
But Ralph was wrong.
There was an evil presence in those woods, a tall man wearing bloodstained blue overalls, tightly gripping the wooden handle of his favorite murdering axe. He watched them silently through the eye holes of his dirty, white mask.
A thin layer of dust coated the inside of the cabin. The sides were lined with sleeping bunks. The mattresses were there, but barren of any linens or blankets.
Ralph reached up, fumbled around a bit, but found the chain to turn on the cabin’s singular light. “Here’s where it began.” Jack and Lane both turned on their phone’s voice recorders. “I believe Zack here, in 2014, who was sleeping in this bed, was the first victim.” He pointed to a mattress near the door at the other end. “If you have an ultraviolet light you can still see the blood on this mattress. Well, so I heard.”
”So, he just... I mean the killer, he just like...” Lane gestured toward the bed as if she was swinging an imaginary axe.
”Pretty much,” Ralph said. “In the middle of the night.”
”Well at least he was like... killed in his sleep,” Lane said. “He probably never knew—“
”Ohhhhh no,” Ralph said, almost chuckling. “HollowSlasher, why, he likes his victims to suffer for a moment. He chopped poor Zack’s left arm clean off first. He usually does that. Hacks off a arm or a leg first.”
”Well, that’s um... rather unpleasant.” Jack said, frowning.
”Are you reporters always gifted with understatements?” Ralph asked. Oliver laughed. Jack didn’t.
Ralph then proceeded to tell them about all of Cabin A’s murders. Jackie Stiles. Robert Gates. And Finn Hadley. He went over some of the gruesome details, too.
”He... he... he gutted Jackie... while she was still alive?” Oliver stuttered. He gulped.
”Yeah, poor, poor girl,” Ralph said. “He tried to strangle her with her own entrails. When that didn’t work the HollowSlasher lopped her head off. Merciful at that point I guess.”
”Jesus...” Lane said, looking away from Jackie’s former bed as if the murder had just happened.
Next Ralph took them over to Cabin C. He had similar stories of grim murders for them there, too. As the four of them stood around in that cabin, they were not aware that the very same HollowSlasher (formerly Nick Castle) was lurking about right outside the cabin, waiting for the perfect moment to strike.
It soon came.
As they started to leave Cabin C, Oliver said that he wanted to hang there for a moment, getting a few more good shots of the cabin.
”All right, we’re headed over there, to Cabin E,” Ralph said, pointing out the door and toward it.
The other three left Oliver all alone in the cabin. He did what he’d planned to, zoomed his camera around, getting some good shots. He was shocked to pan the camera around to find a man in bloodstained overalls and an eerie white, dirty mask.
Holding an axe.
Oliver yelled as loud as he could. It was the HollowSlasher! The serial killer of Camp Murky Waters who loved to slash and kill camp goers on or around Halloween!
Oliver tossed the camera aside and spun around to run, still screaming, but the HollowSlasher swung his axe and lopped off Oliver’s left arm. Blood began to spray from the stump left behind, painting the nearby wall red.
But before the HollowSlasher could deliver a fatal blow, suddenly Jack was there. He was horrified at what he was witnessing.
”Oliver!” he yelled as his friend collapsed to the floor, still screaming in horror. Jack stood between him and the infamous serial killer. The HollowSlasher paused, still a little surprised at how fast Jack had ran back to the cabin. But then he shrugged and raised his axe, ready to strike again. Lane then arrived back into the cabin and began screaming when she saw the carnage and what HollowSlasher was about to do.
The crazed killer, undaunted by the screams, swung the axe right into Jack’s chest.
But the axe broke. As if the HollowSlasher had hit a wall of pure steel, the metal end of the axe broke right off and sailed off, over his shoulder, clanging to the floor behind him. Jack frowned at him. HollowSlasher, stunned, looked at Jack, looked down at the wooden axe handle, looked behind him, looked back at the handle, looked back at Jack...
”What the fuck?!” Lane said, which is actually exactly what the HollowSlasher was thinking.
”He missed!” Jack yelled, quite unconvincingly.
”The fuck he did!” Lane said.
“All right, all right,” Jack said. “I’ve actually been wanting to tell you this for a long time... but...” He sighed. “I’m Superguy.”
Jack unbuttoned his shirt, revealing a red and yellow suit underneath, a big “SG” logo on his chest.
”I had a feeling!” Lane said. “I always thought it was weird how Superguy was always around when you were!”
”Jack... is... Superguy?” Oliver said, weakly, from the floor. He desperately gripped his bloody stump with his other hand.
The HollowSlasher decided he wasn’t giving up quite yet. He then bashed Jack’s face with the wooden axe handle. But Jack barely flinched and the axe handle also ended up on the floor behind him. HollowSlasher jutted out his arms and gesticulated angrily, as if to say “REALLY??!”
Jack, or, Superguy, removed his glasses, tossed them aside, then grabbed HollowSlasher by his shoulders tightly. “Didn’t your mother ever teach you not to chop people up?!”
”Didn’t he also chop her up?” Lane said.
”Oh, right.” Jack said. He lifted HollowSlasher up into the air. The bloody murderer flailed his legs about.
”Jesus Bloody Christ!” Ralph yelled when he entered the cabin. First he sees Oliver with his arm chopped off. Then he sees what looks like Superguy, still partially wearing a grey business shit, holding up the HallowSlasher.
Lane looked at Ralph, but then Oliver. “Oh my god, Oliver, I’m so sorry, I’m calling 911 now!” She got out her phone to do just that. Meanwhile, Jack slowly shook his head at HollowSlasher.
”So I have a policy of not killing humans,” he said. “Or, well, anything mortal. But, yknow, I don’t think you’re human. Or mortal. I mean, you get shot by a machine gun, seemingly dead. But while at the morgue you come back to life, kill the hospital staff, come back to the camp, kill some more. Then they chain you up to a concrete block and throw you in the lake. But the next year you come back and kill some more. Then they set you on fire, shoot you multiple more times... well you get my point, right?”
HollowSlasher’s mask was still on, but Jack used his x-ray vision to see the “OH SHIT” look on his face.
”Kill him, Superguy!” Oliver said, raising his hand. But when blood started to spurt out of his stump again he quickly covered it back up.
”I should,” Jack said. “You’re murderous scum. Something to hate. Like the Ice Capades or unskippable YouTube ads.”
”Oh, I hate those, too!” Oliver said.
Superguy then said “It looks like the camp I am now in, is the ‘Kill HollowSlasher’ camp. Any last words?”
The HollowSlasher grunted.
”Oh, right, you don’t talk.” Jack crushed HollowSlasher from the sides. The sharp, hollow sounds of his bones crushing echoed off the cabin walls. HollowSlasher’s body went limp, the life crushed out of it. Jack tossed him to the wooden floor.
”He’s probably not dead,” Ralph said. “Just sayin.”
Lane, meanwhile, tended to Oliver. “Ambulances and cops are on their way, sweetie.” Then she had a thought. She turned to Ralph. “Oh is there still a working refrigerator here?”
”Yeah,” Ralph said. “Oh do you want some snacks? I can—“
”For my coworker’s arm!” Lane said. “They said they’d try to reattach it.”
”Oh oh, right!” Ralph said. He picked up Oliver’s arm. “I’ll take it there!” And he left.
Later, the dark night sky was lit up with red and blue flashing lights. Oliver, and his arm, was loaded into am ambulance. Police questioned Lane. But Jack, who had taken off the rest of the business suit and hid it, fully displaying his Superguy costume, remained in the cabin near HollowSlasher’s body.
”Are you sure?” a police officer asked him. “I mean, we trust you, Superguy, but we have procedures-“
”Leave him to me, officer!” Superguy reiterated. The officer left. And sure enough, HollowSlasher started to stir.
Superguy sighed. “I’m standing right here.” Then he stomped his super foot onto HollowSlasher’s head, making fleshy jelly out of it. About five minutes later, the HollowSlasher’s head jelly began to reform back into a head.
Superguy rolled his eyes. “Still standing here!”
He then used his heat vision to burn HollowSlasher into ashes.
Several minutes later HollowSlasher’s ashes began to come together.
”STILL STANDING HERE, DUDE!”
For: Behold a Pale Horse: The 2021 Halloween Horrorquest