When I was young, there was a serial killer in my town.
For three summer straight, he killed people. Young, old, female, male, it didn’t matter to him. You just had to be alone long enough for him to snatch you up like some kinda boogeyman. Hell, it didn’t even have to be at night. Mrs. Gibbs ran out for groceries with her husband, he stepped back inside for a minute to grab something they forgot, and came back out to their baby crying in the car and a dropped bag of groceries next to the car.
They found her three days later, her ribs all cut open and splayed out so anyone and everyone could see her guts.
It was a nasty time, I’ll tell you that. I was only a kid. Like, maybe five when it started, eight when it all ended. I only found out the nastier details when I got curious and asked enough questions to people willing to answer. Not many people were, that was for sure.
Where I grew up was a pretty small town, so you’d think we’d find the murderer faster. But nah. Our neighbors couldn’t be killers. During the summer people did their damn best to never be alone. People who lived by themselves would move back in with their parents, friends would all group up. It’s hard never being alone though, ya know? There’s always moments when you just need to step out for a breather or you need some private time. And that’s when he got ya.
That last summer when the killer lurked was hot as hell. You’d be able to fry eggs on the sidewalk. I got a sunburn so bad I had to stay in bed for a whole day, the box fan blowing only slightly cooler air on my dried up face. There was at least two incidents when elderly people croaked from heat stroke. And of course that killer was back. Heatwave didn’t stop him from killing my sister.
I don’t remember Jill all that well. There was about a ten year age gap between us, so we were never close. My parents had her real young and she grew up to be stubborn. And like most teenagers, she felt untouchable. Immortal. That particular summer was bad, probably because she’d broke up with her boyfriend when he went off to college and met a fellow college gal.
So one night she blew off my parents when they told her to stay home and instead went to a party. Next morning is when they realized Jill never came home.
It took two weeks to find her. I made myself find out the details, you’ll figure out why later. She’d been fucked up real bad, he’d kept her alive as he cut her to pieces. First her fingers and toes, then her hands and feet, and up until she had no limbs. Then he cut up her face, cut out her tongue. And to wrap it all up her gutted her while she was still alive.
She suffered. But this time the killer made a mistake. Cuz someone saw him leave with Jill.
Frank Stokes. He was nearing his midthirties but spent most of his time with highschoolers or young adults. But mostly people thought he was harmless. Real quiet, real shrimp of a guy. But you know, there was a few rumors of his wild teenage years, how he stole his neighbor’s cats and dissected them. It was brushed off as youthful curiosity and charges were never pressed, probably because said neighbor died from a sudden stroke. Who knows, maybe it wasn’t a stroke, maybe Frank stuck some rat poison in her coffee. No one could answer that but Frank himself.
My town suffered far too long because of Frank though. My parents, my dad in particular, wasn’t gonna wait for the cops to fix this. So he gathered a mob and they went to go get Frank. Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, death for death.
They broke into Frank’s house and found a collection of human body parts. His souvenirs, I guess. People talked about how they found all sorts of fucked up stuff, I don’t know how much is true of course, since it all ranges from sacrificial altars to a taxidermied human being. They chased Frank out and into the nearby corn fields.
This is the part where it does get a little more fuzzy. Like it wasn’t fuzzy already. Retellings of the story vary, some people say they actually caught Frank and gave him what he deserved, beating him into the dirt as he cried and pleaded for mercy. Some other tales say they only cornered him. And another one says they actually started to hang him on the nearby oak tree before this next twist happened.
This is the one part of the story that does line up though. The part of the story where Frank said he could bring all his victims back.
Yeah, you’re not misreading that. While bawling his eyes out, Frank promised to return their loved ones to them if they only let him live.
Such a stupid idea. I mean, he killed a little under twenty people. And when you’re dead you’re dead. There’s no coming back from dead, especially when some have been dead for years by that point. I don’t know how he convinced them that yes, by tomorrow morning all of his victims would start coming back, but he did. My dad came back and got Jill’s room ready, the bickering between him and my mom actually woke me up.
I remember peering through my sister’s bedroom door and watching my dad make up Jill’s bed. But Jill was gone, my parents told me that Jill was dead. Jill was never coming home. But my dad even turned her radio on to her favorite station.
My mom ended up storming out, tears in her eyes. I think she was pissed dad didn’t end up killing Frank. I mean, I don’t blame her, if I’d really understood what was going on back then I would’ve been pissed too. That bastard took away my sister, and sure we weren’t close but she was still my sister.
Next morning though I was watching cartoons when I heard a knock at the door. Not really thinking as I was still waking up I stumbled to the door and opened it up.
There was Jill, wearing the same outfit she’d been buried in, standing out on the front steps. She smiled at me.
“Hey, idiot, mom and dad moved the hide a key. Thanks for letting me in.”
Numb, I just nodded and moved aside for her to walk in. She mouthed thank you as she tip toed inside. She sighed with relief as I shut the door. “God, it’s already getting hot. Mom? Dad? I’m home!”
My mom ran into the living room and promptly dropped into a faint. My dad ran in after her and fell to his knees, pale and shaking. I don’t think he really believed Frank was going to follow through with his promise. But Jill was here, back and perfectly fine. Or so it looked.
For the first days, everyone was just shocked to see the friends and family they’d buried come back to them. Even if they’d been dead for years and years, they came back looking as alive as you or me. They had no memories of actually dying, which is probably for the best considering how Frank made them suffer. But they did know they’d been dead.
It’s sad to say that Jill and I really only bonded after she came back from the dead. I guess dying shifted things back into perspective. She went from hell child to perfect angel. She did her chores, never broke her curfew, and spent time with me. We went to the park, the ice cream parlor, hell, we even had a day at the zoo. During all this time she kept telling me how much she loved me, how she was sorry she always pushed me away or treated me like an obnoxious lil shit before. She was just frustrated and took it out on her family.
We all took the miracle at face value. Don’t be mad about it, we were just so damn glad to have our family back. No one noticed how Frank just slipped out of town one night. People only realized he was gone after he didn’t show up for work three days in a row. But now he was someone else’s problem, people reasoned. All the people he’d murdered were back, so why even bother anymore, right?
But come on, I’m sure if you’re reading this you know that bringing people back is always a fucking mistake. When you’re dead, you’re dead, and that’s that. You don’t get a do over, at least, not in the body you started out in. I dunno about reincarnation and shit like that, but I do know that all those people coming back was a big fucking mistake.
It was just little things at first. Dead animals, roadkill turning up with no blood in it. Dry as a bone, those bodies. Then a funeral home was raided the night before Ms. McCarthy’s funeral, she’d been drunk dry too. Not only that, Mr. Quinn, the funeral director had been attacked. He’d lost so much blood that they thought he was a goner. But he managed to pull through, when he did he had the strangest story to tell.
He’d just been getting things finished up for the night when it happened. A small group of people barged on in, and before he could ask what they wanted the leader grabbed him and threw him to the ground. Most of the group ran to the casket, dragging Ms. McCarthy’s body out and started cutting her open with knives. They looked disappointed at the minimal amounts of blood as she’d been embalmed but all Quinn could do was watch as they sucked away at the wounds they made.
Then one of the leaders cut open Quinn’s wrist and screamed with triumph as they began to suck away at the wound. He tried to get away but more and more of them pinned him down and made cuts all over his body. They only left after they’d drunk their fill from him and Ms. McCarthy.
If there’d been no body there that night, I imagine Mr. Quinn wouldn’t have survived to tell the tale.
Jill wasn’t doing well though. Although she’d been strong and healthy at first, she’d gotten pale and started wasting away. She wasn’t sleeping at night, and when she did sleep, she woke up screaming. I think she remembered what happened to her. But she wouldn’t tell us if she did.
It all came to a head when someone heard screaming from the Gibbs residence. Course, 911 was called, and when the police got there the eldest daughter stumbled out, her shirt covered in blood and cradling her bleeding youngest sibling. She just pointed inside before she collapsed.
Inside was Mrs. Charity Gibbs, sucking on her dead husband’s neck while two of the other resurrected drank from other wounds on his body.
They managed to escape, after killing a cop and taking his body with them. I think they found it later in the ditch, drunk dry of blood and all shriveled up.
Lots of people died as the resurrected made their escape. All of them got out too, ran off into the woods and just disappeared. Turns out a couple of them actually had help from their living relatives and friends, bring them animals and people to drink from.
Every one of them left. Except Jill.
Jill called me to her room. My parents were out, don’t remember why. But I went into Jill’s room, probably one of the only times I did. She never liked me in her room.
She looked terrible. White as a sheet, her face all shrunken, she’d probably lost like twenty pounds in the matter of a few weeks. She took my hand in hers and squeezed as tightly as she could. “Can you stay with me?” She asked, her voice raspy and dry.
“Because I’m gonna die again. And this time, I don’t-” She coughed and spattered blood all over my face, “I don’t wanna do it alone. I know it’s selfish. It’s gonna be bad… and I could’ve… I could’ve stopped it, but I didn’t want to hurt anybody. Please stay. Please?”
I stayed. I sat at the foot of her bed and stayed. Her fingers gripped tighter and tighter until they went lax… and rolled onto the bedspread.
Her palms followed shortly after, plopping on down in my hand. I ended up dropping it and it rolled away on the floor. It took a bit longer for her arms to come off at the shoulder, each muscle and tendon snapping like a rubber until it hung on by a few shriveled threads. She cried as her head fell to rest on my lap, her tongue falling from her lap and onto my shoe.
She fell all to pieces in a matter of an hour.
My parents came home to find me on the bed, rearranging my sister’s body parts to look like she was just resting. I don’t remember that, but frankly I blocked it all out after she ended up dying for the second time. I was admitted into the hospital, I didn’t speak for weeks.
But I recovered, you know. I bet that bastard Frank would’ve loved to see the havoc he caused. No one thought about looking for him after they got their loved ones back, and after their loved ones turned on them we had our hands full. Gotta admit, a clever move on his part, to give him enough time to get out of our lives.
Frank’s gone. And he stayed gone. I just hope he isn’t causing problems somewhere else.