The cat padded to the open door, stopped, looked over its shoulder and meowed before vanishing into the hallway beyond.
“I think it wants us to follow,” Sandy said, starting for the door. James said, “Not alone Susan,” They went into the hall and disappeared from sight.
Suddenly, the door slammed shut, and Susan screamed, her voice trailing off as her body hit the floor. James shouted, “Son of a…,” but the phrase ended in a moan of pain as his body thumped loudly to the ground.
Rick pulled his knife in a flash. He ran to the door, his hand on the knob, and looked back to Martin, who stood motionless, eyes wide open in fear and unable to move. Rick rolled his eyes, took a deep breath, then charged through the door, knife held low. A few seconds later, he screamed “Holy…,” but the scream ended in a sickly gurgling cry as he slumped to the floor.
When the door slammed shut again, Martin’s eyes rolled back into his skull as he fainted and collapsed into a heap like a boneless rag doll.
Martin woke some time later, his hands tightly bound and stretched overhead. He hung from a gleaming stainless steel meat hook, his toes barely touching the ground.
Four robed and hooded figures stood before him, backlit by the harsh hissing light of a Coleman lantern, which hung from the remnants of the broken chandelier. Deep shadows obscured whatever lay beneath the hoods, and Martin cried out in terror and hopelessness.
One of the figures advanced, gliding silently and brandishing the wicked, razor sharp athame. “Get the bucket,” he rasped in a deep demonic voice, “We’ll need all of his blood to open the gateway.”
Martin’s eyes flew open, and he started yelling, “Help me mommy! Help me mommy!” over and over uncontrollably. The knife-wielding figure started shaking, then began to laugh, his voice higher and somehow familiar. The figure on his left threw back its hood and said, “OK guys, this has gone too far. Let him down before he has a heart attack or something.” It was Linda!
Rick put down the knife, threw back his hood and lifted Martin off of the meat hook, then untied his hands. He took one look at Martin’s face and started laughing again, barely able to pause long enough to take a breath.
Susan and James unhooded, looked at each other, and said at the same time, “Help me mommy!” They then started laughing so hard they had to lean against each other to stop themselves from falling over.
Rick looked at Martin and grinned, “Dude, we got you good, you’ve been punked!”
Martin’s mouth opened and closed like a fish out of water, but he finally managed to sputter, “You… you, you mean you aren’t going to kill me?”
Rick raised an eyebrow and said, “Nah, we’re just messin’ with ya, let’s play some cards.” …