Three weeks had passed since Quinn had disappeared, and her grandmother was just as inconsolable as when she was told about her daughter’s suicide. While she tried to maintain the strength to console her living daughter’s loss, she could barely hold back the tears from streaming down her face whenever she spoke with Jane, calling her to see how she was handling her own grief, and to reassure her that Quinn would turn up any day now, fine as rain.
She didn’t believe it.
Not that she’d ever say it aloud, but she knew that her Quinn-bear was never going to be found, and that she was never going to see her again. Missing little girls like this always wind up dead, she told herself. It’s just a matter of time.
Trying to stay composed; she sits watching the news, comforter wrapped tightly around her legs and hips as she sits propped up in bed. Her husband Tom is downstairs, making a pot of tea for the both, to try and ease their nerves a little. While he was hardly one to wear his heart on his sleeve, even she could see the effects of all this despair weathering his already aged features. He was losing sleep, eating less… but then again so was she.
“And in other news, it appears the disappearance of Quinn McNeal is still an ongoing case with little to go on. The first in a series of child abductions, the New York Police Department is doing their best to try and find any link between the crimes, which have so far seemingly been at random.” The newscaster said in his overly cheery tone, shuffling some papers in front of him.
“No ransom notes or messages to the parents have been reported, with only one suspect described from the fourth abduction as a possible accomplice.”
That perked Marcy’s interest, getting her to sit up a tad straighter, more alert. A cheap sketch of what appeared to be an older man appeared on the screen next to the anchorman, colorless and bland. Whoever this man was, he would fit into almost any crowd around him.
“The perpetrator’s name is unknown, but he engaged the father of young Benjamin Solis the night he was taken, his mother Maria Solis murdered. No signs of a struggle were found, nor a weapon; only the telltale marker of the abductor, a shattered window.” The anchorman continued, reading from his papers as he spoke. “Police have asked that anyone with information regarding the identity of this man to please come forward.”
Solis… why did that name ring a bell?
Could Benjamin be Michael’s boy, that rat bastard…? Marcy thought to herself, scowling at the memory of the man that had driven her dear Elizabeth into her deep depression. The name Maria was one she knew from a few years back as Elizabeth’s friend from school, as well as the woman that Michael ended up cheating on Elizabeth with. Had they gotten married, had a child?
A crash from downstairs made Marcy sigh, knowing full well that Tom had dropped another teapot. This was a common enough occurrence that she usually purchased two or three and just kept the others in the storage closet, as he was always so sure he could carry a full pot of tea, a bowl of sugar and a cup of milk, as well as two cups, on a single tray. She lectured him over how he should just call her down to make her tea, not try and bring the whole set-up upstairs to the bedroom, but he wasn’t one to listen.
Throwing the blanket off her legs, shivering at the cold, she quickly tugged on a pair of pajama pants beneath her over-sized orange T-shirt (the faded logo of the Texas Longhorns almost illegible due to the ravages of time and the repeated use of the washing machine), she padded her away across the room and down the hall to the stairs.
“Tom, did you drop another teapot?” She called down the stairs, leaning over the railing to consider the living room which connected to the kitchen. “What have I told you about trying to carry all of that at once?”
“Granny!” A faint cry called back, the voice of a little girl, low and weak. “Granny, where are you?”
Panic gripped Marcy’s heart as she began vaulting down the steps towards the cool tile floor, slipping as she turned from the bottom of the stairs and stumbling into the long dining room table.
“Quinn!” She cried, wincing from a sharp pain radiating from her knee. “Quinn-bear, is that you?”
Turning the corner into the darkened kitchen, Marcy groped the wall for the light switch, limping along the cool tile until she felt the warm puddle of tea from the dropped teapot beneath her feet, a few hardened shards of glass grinding beneath her feet as she went. Her hand finally running over the casing of the switch, she happily flipped it on, ready to call Jane and the police about Quinn’s miraculous return.
That is until the light flickered on and showed Quinn stooped over Tom with another child, a young boy, tearing into his flesh with bloody fingers and serrated fangs. Tom stared up at Marcy in a mixture of agony and confusion as the boy, mouth firmly latched onto Tom’s neck, reared back with a tendon firmly clenched between his teeth, Tom’s flesh peeling around the ligament being torn from him like plaster falling from the wall as a phone line is torn from a wall. Quinn, naked and grey with blackened veins covering her whole body, was slicing open Tom’s side with her bare fingers, cutting away choice pieces of meat and stacking them neatly at her side. She looked up at Marcy, her eyes as black as coal.
“Granny!” She said around a mouthful of serrated teeth. “Grandpa tasty! Hungry! Wanted Grandpa’s cookies… but was too hungry! He tastes better than cookies anyway.”
Looking at her feet, she saw the warm fluid soaking into her skin was her husband’s blood rapidly pooling across the kitchen tile, the hard bits she had assumed to be glass his teeth. The teapot was still sitting on the counter, atop a tray laden with cookies and their usual fare of amenities they used for their nightly cup of tea.
Except sitting right next to it, calmly drinking from one of the orange rimmed cups was Elizabeth. Swathed in a flowing black dress, with skin as pure as milk and eyes as red as the blood pooling at Marcy’s feet, there she sat, calmly sipping tea from a cup as if nothing in the world was wrong with the entire situation at hand. Marcy opened her mouth to scream, but found that her voice was suddenly gone, Elizabeth’s hand held up, wagging a finger.
“No, mother dear… no need to alert the neighbors to this little reunion.” She said, her voice hollow, echoing like speaking from the bottom of a well. “I just decided to stop on by to see how you’re holding up since my timely demise, perhaps catch up on old times. Oh, and to murder Tom.”
Marcy struggled to ask why, but the piercing crimson eyes of her daughter keep her silent and locked in place, the only sounds for the next few moments in the kitchen were the little boys feral growling as he tore and ate, and Quinn’s humming as she cut away sections. Elizabeth closed her eyes in seemingly silent pleasure as she finished the last of her tea, setting the cup to the side carefully before throwing her curtain of dark hair over her shoulder and leaning back on the counter, crossing her legs as she studied Marcy.
“You’ve lost weight,” she finally said, breaking the silence, “I’d be jealous if I could even feel that way anymore. I assume you’re wondering what’s going on?”
Marcy could only give the slightest of nods while under her daughter’s thrall, her eyes watering as tears freely flowed down her face.
“Well, to make it simple, I’m letting everyone who hurt me know how it feels. How it feels to lose those that you loved, and to be powerless to stop it.” Elizabeth said as casually as one mentioning the weather.
“I took Quinn from Jane, the little drama queen, and took Benjamin there from Michael,” she motioned towards the feral little boy, just as grey and dead looking as Quinn, who was just now pulling blood-soaked vertebrae from Tom’s mauled neck, her husband’s glassy eyes showing he was no longer among the living, “and just as I’ve finished taking Tom from you.”
Marcy let out a wracked sob, sinking to her knees with a low splatter of blood marring her night clothes. “Why Elizabeth, why?” She gasped out between sobs.
Elizabeth practically growled, her eyes flaring brighter than before. “My name is Ash now, mother dearest. Elizabeth, as you well know, is dead. As for why I’m doing this, I should think it’s obvious.” She said as she leans forward with a sinister grin. “To make you, and all of you who merely watched me sink further into my depression, suffer as I did.”
Quinn stood from Tom’s eviscerated side, carrying the stack of neatly cut slices of meat over to
Ash and holding them up proudly to her, a toothy grin etched across her horrible face. Ash ran a hand lovingly down her head, the child’s hair falling out as she touched it. Looking to Marcy, Ash smiled.
Quinn finally has a mother who will put her first, above all other things,” She said with a soft smile reminiscent of the woman she once was, “While Benjamin is rightfully mine.”
“H-How?” Marcy asked, struggling to gain control over her own body.
Ash answered by tossing a lump of dried meat at Marcy’s knees, forcing her to look down at the partially rotted heart that had long since turned grey.
“Maria broke my heart, so I broke hers. She took my spot at Michael’s side, giving him the son I promised to give him. So, I took both her heart and her boy.”
“W-what a-a-a-are they?” Marcy stuttered her mind reeling as if she’d been drinking too much.
As her vision swam, Marcy’s body dropping to the blood socked floor with a sloppy splat, Ash merely watched her with indifference as Marcy struggled to keep her eyes open, some foreign source in her mind forcing her to sleep.
“They’re mine,” Ash whispered harshly, hugging Quinn to her side. “And they’re free.”
Marcy woke up the next morning in a congealed pool of her husband’s blood, a carving knife placed in her cold hand and three police officers standing over her with looks of grim determination on their faces. Over the next several months, Marcy was forces to go through a humiliating trial, her name and face plastered all over the news.
Only to be found innocent due to lack of evidence. The coroner’s report stating that the carving knives serrated edge hadn’t made the slightest mark on Tom’s body, and that they could find no other tool with which she could have used to kill him. With no murder weapon and no motive,
Marcy was set free.
Physically at least. In her mind, she was trapped. She knew what had happened, but knew that such a story would never be believed. She had a distraught daughter who thought her child dead, and couldn’t correct her. She knew of a man whose son was missing, and could do nothing to comfort him. All she could do was stew in her own misery, the knowledge of what had really happened haunting her until the day she died.