She tossed and turned, unable to drift off to sleep. Exhausted, she both begged for and dreaded sleep. When she did sleep, her dreams were plagued by the sounds of that night, the wafting voices, then that blood curdling scream! When she was awake, the voices rang through her ears, as loud as they were that night just, what now? Was it only four weeks ago?
She replayed the scene over and over in her head. She had been unable to tell anyone, even Kristy. Kristy always listened with that amused smile. But this time, no. She couldn't mar that sweet innocent being with this, this story of ... murder.
It had started innocently enough. A late night trip. A reconnaissance mission for a friend. Simply searching for info, looking for a good plan of attack for another late night birding. Her job? Swing by. Park toward the road. Sneak up to the house and see if one could get past the flock of wildlife to place a swarm of rogue flamingos. She had been asked to do it because Michelle was afraid of chickens. She wanted to be sure the coast would be clear. She had been working late in town one night, innocently planning to overthrow the church (but that's a different story, has no bearing on the situation at hand), when Michelle had seen her and asked for this little favor.
She could still see it. Hear it. She had parked in the driveway of the dilapidated house in front of Amy's. Amy had often wished aloud someone would buy it. I bet she was glad now that no one had been living there that fateful night.
She had stealthily sneaked her way through the yard, her years of DHLET training (Dark Hallway Lego Evasion Tactics) paying off. She had gotten all the way up to the house, perched very near the porch, proved to herself that the flock was not concern, they hadn't even raised a hackle, and was ready to retreat when she saw ,,, She could barely stand to admit to herself what she saw. They looked ghostly. The pale faces of those two women who she had so admired. But they say artists are a little unsteady. Mentally unstable, as it were.
The eerie glow of the flood light bathing them in blue light. She pondered walking up to them, being all like "Hey! You need better security around here!" But she could tell by their demeanor, and the fact that they were out in the dark whispering, that it wouldn't be a good plan. So she listened a moment. Writers always need good dialogue, she wasn't eavesdropping. Just researching. She always wanted to be a mystery writer, this setting seemed a good one to formulate a story, so she sat waiting to see what she could invent from this scene.
She would not need to invent anything, as it turned out. The scene was to become gruesome enough without her imagination.
"Come on, Amy. We have to do this. YOU have to do this."
"I don't know, Abby. Maybe we shouldn't. I'm, I'm, I'm just not sure now."
"We've been through this. You are being silly. You can't just keep him around forever."
"But Burt, he -"
"Burt is a wimp," Abby cut in. "I like Burt, but he's a wimp. He's holding you back. You can't let your emotions get involved here."
"Look, I know it's hard the first time. It gets easier. Before I married Russ, I did this sort of thing several times. Russ just hasn't given me a good opportunity yet."
"No buts. Look, how long has Burt been out of work?"
"Any offers yet?"
"None that he'll consider. If only he'd be reasonable and take one. This wouldn't have to happen."
"It would have to happen eventually, Amy. They just get old. Then they are no good to you. You have to take care of them but what do you get in return? You can't even eat the meat if you let him get too old. Think of the meat, Amy. This will feed your kids for a while."
"I'm not sure I can eat it."
"At first it will be hard. But you can do this."
"Mimi was going to do it for me...."
"Amy, get a grip. Come on. Mimi can't be there every time you need unpleasant deeds taken care of. I'm pretty sure she will be doing her own soon. I know things have been tense there, too with Pike not working regularly either."
"Poor Pike, I'm surprised he hasn't become stew."
"Yet ..." Abby said, seeming to hint.
"But what about Gene. He said he'd take care of him for me. The other day. Remember? When the stupid idiot made me trip? Gene about took his head off then. He said, 'When the time comes, Amy, and you want to get rid of that ... THING, just let me know!"
"Gene is sweet, but he was just being emotional. I doubt he'd really want to deal with all the blood."
"Blood? I hadn't thought of that."
"It's okay, that's why I laid out the tarp. I t will catch a lot of the mess and we'll drag it to the pond and rinse it all away. Like it never happened."
"You've really done this before." Amy inquired of her friend. She looked so sweet. Who would have suspected the murderous nature of this seamstress.
"A couple of times. It's been a while. But I hear it never goes away. Like riding a bicycle," the murderous artist chuckled.
"But an axe? Why not a shotgun?"
"Do you want to wake the children?"
"They'd never eat the meat if they knew. Enough talking, Amy. No more delay. Russ will be missing me."
"He looks so lifeless, laying there..."
"I slipped him a little something in his food. To make it easier for you. It made it easier my first time when he didn't fight me."
"I don't plan to make a habit of this."
"Neither did I that first time. But you'll find, you get a little thrill. You'll see."
"Ok, I'm ready. Better do it before I lose my nerve."
Suzann saw the glint of the of the axe in the blue light as Amy lifted it above her head. The next thing she heard was the most horrifying screaming sound, Amy's own - quickly muffled by Abby's hand, mixed with that of the poor, newly beheaded creature. She hadn't known Burt well, but couldn't imagine dying that way. The spatter had flown all over the front of Amy and Abby. In the eerie blue light all she could see was flying goo. The sound of Burt's cry didn't last long, as he was dead in an instant, but Suzann didn't hang around long to hear any more. Falling back on her DHLET training once more, coupled with her DMASAWTSB training (Don't Make A Sound And Wake The Sleeping Baby), she fled swiftly and silently. Never did Amy and Abby suspect their had been a witness to the fateful murder.
For the first few days following, Amy had been quiet, had become a hermit in her house, which suited our heroine just fine as she couldn't bear to talk to her. But Abby had been her normal, cheerful, smiling self. Suzann couldn't believe the evil that lay behind those innocent eyes. And to think, she had killed before. Implied she would kill Russ should he ever give her the opportunity.
Then slowly Amy had began to come out of her shell. She began posting amazing recipes, many "casseroles" she had been trying, on her facebook page. She had begged Suzann to come to dinner, and thus far had avoided it. But tomorrow she would no longer be able to avoid it. Kristy was insisting they all have a "girls only" lunch and Amy was hosting. If only she could tell Kristy. But, she didn't think she could get the words out. So she lay her awake, trying to decide how to avoid eating poor Burt.
Amy had told them that Burt had suddenly gotten a call back at work and had been gone for weeks. This wasn't unusual, but Suzann didn't buy it. She knew this time Burt would never come back.
She awoke from fitful sleep, dreaming of screams and voices wafting through the woods. She tried to plead sick, but Kristy knew her too well, knew when she was just avoiding, and insisted, saying she needed to talk to them all about her husband. She needed some help with him.
She showed up a little late, walked in to hear Kristy's words trailing off.
"...So you see? It has to be a surprise and look like an accident. It can't look like I had anything to do with it or that anyone had planned it or -"
Suzann's arrival caused her to stop short. The look in Kristy's eyes were at first surprised by the interruption, then relaxed that it was only Suzann.
"Oh, I was just telling them of my plan for Joe. But now that you are here, let's eat this yummy taco casserole Amy has prepared and discuss it more comfortably sitting on the couches."
They sat, Suzann pushing the food around her plate, complaining of a stomach ache, excusing her lack of appetite, as they discussed the children and other pleasantries. Suzann couldn't believe what she had heard. Had Kristy known all along? Now she was planning to have them "help" her with Joe! What had she walked into! Her heart was racing. She was sure her face was flushed. Hopefully they would all think she was just ill as she claimed. She looked, sweating and anxious, at the door, trying to figure out how and when to get out of here!
Just as Kristy opened her mouth to, after much raving over the yummy lunch, to start to explain her situation in more detail, the sound of the door opening behind her caught all of their attention.
"Honey! I'm home! Surprise!"
They all looked at Burt. Suzann stared. Nearly passed out from emotion and relief. The scene ran through her head and she instantly knew she had let her writers' imagination take the execution of the family turkey to the execution of the family patriarch. What a nut she had been!
She turned to look at Amy. She looked at Amy's face as it registered the arrival of her long delayed husband and read murder in her eyes. Amy hated surprises.