Oh, the humanity! Yet more bodily dismemberment at Ham High. Will the terror never end? ....


Gory Graduation: Chapter 5
  (by Ross Horsley)

Totally lame, thought Trish as she emptied her locker for the last time. Grounded on graduation night… Who would believe it? You could bet all the cool kids like Toni, Lupe and Joyce would be out at some party somewhere, not to mention the super-cute boy who sat behind her in History class... ‘Oh Mike,’ she sighed to herself, ‘will I ever see you again now that I’m off to college and you’re destined for small-town obscurity working at a gas station?’

Her musings were interrupted by the realization that a sheet of Laverne & Shirley stickers had fluttered embarrassingly from the back of her locker to the floor, and she quickly stooped to pick them up. Luckily, no one could have witnessed this moment of typical uncoolness on her part; Trish had dawdled out of school, savouring her last moments of freedom before returning to the house where she’d have to spend the rest of the night. Now she found herself alone in the deserted hallway.

As she straightened up, she thought she heard something. Was that the sound of roller skates on a polished wooden floor? Don’t be such an airhead, she told herself. No one wore skates to school… except for Mr Tucker, and even then only when auditions for the school musical were in full swing. No, she must have imagined it. She crumpled the sheet of stickers into a ball and slam-dunked it into a nearby trash can.

Fishing in her purse, Trish took out a dime and headed over to the school payphone, where she inserted the coin and dialled a familiar number.

‘Kim!’ she cried when her best girlfriend answered the phone. ‘I can’t believe you missed your own graduation!’

‘Well, Trish, bone cancer isn’t like the flu, you know. I’ll probably be laid up for a while yet, possibly culminating in my untimely death.’

‘Gross!’ Trish giggled. ‘Anyway, it was pretty rad, Kim. Everyone was all dressed up in their gowns and stuff. Sherri Turtletaub wore pink stilettos under hers… Can you imagine?’

‘Barf-bag! So, are you getting ready to party tonight?’

Trish sighed. ‘I’m grounded. I haven’t cleaned my room or made my bed for a month, and Mom says I have to stay in and wash my dirty pillows.’

‘But what about Sunday night? I thought you were going to wheel me down to the mall. The new Cameron Mitchell movie is playing at the Dreamland Theater.’

‘Aw, Kim, I don’t know… I kind of have to start preparing for college now that I’m a high school graduate and all. Plus, Laverne & Shirley’s on.’ Trish bit her tongue. ‘Not that I watch it,’ she added quickly.

‘Trish, you promised! I just don’t understand you anymore… You haven’t been the same since that prank went hideously wrong a few months ago.’

‘Yeah, um, listen Kim, I gotta bounce. I think I heard a strange swishing noise behind me or something. Say hi to Junior for me, and tell him I can’t baby-sit again until the allegations have been dropped… Bye!’

Trish hastily hung up the receiver, slung her bag over her shoulder and began to walk towards the exit. Although it was late July, the sky was unusually overcast and only a sliver of gray sunlight shone through the door at the end of the long corridor. Thunder rumbled and she quickened her pace. A glance at her watch told her that it was almost four-thirty. Mother wasn’t going to be pleased with her tardiness, and would probably send her to her closet without any apple cake.

The thunder rumbled again, and Trish became aware of another sound mingling with its ominous growl. A rhythmic clatter mixed with what sounded like the flapping of fabric… Swish-glide, swish-glide, swish-glide… Scrape.

Trish slowly turned around. And froze. Her eyes widened in horror as her brain struggled to make sense of the surreal and terrifying image presented to it. Hurtling towards her in medium close-up was a black-robed figure on silver roller skates, a huge axe raised in its hand. Perched atop its head was a mortarboard, beneath which was… no face, just a blank black blur; an unfathomable lack of features, of anything other than an empty, endless evil that-

Description faltered as Trish stumbled backwards, clutching her bag to her chest. The figure continued to sail forward, now passing the bin where only minutes ago she had tossed away her stickers. She spun and fled, her eyes fixed on the door at the end of the corridor. The sunlight had vanished. A wave of fat raindrops splattered against the glass window. If she could just reach it before her pursuer caught up with her…

Something struck her heavily across the back of the knees and she went down hard, her legs twisting around the wooden handle of the axe that had been flung at her, halting her escape. She gasped in pain. That was gonna cause a bruise that even a pair of fashionable legwarmers wouldn’t completely conceal. But it was nothing compared to what the swiftly approaching madman would do to her if she didn’t get back up and run.

Carelessly leaving the potential weapon on the floor behind her, she scrambled to her feet and pelted full whack towards the door. It was only meters away...

But when the axe hit this time, it wasn’t with the handle. Its metal head wedged deep into her shoulder, neatly severing her left arm and backpack. The bag hit the floor, spilling out several sheets of unused Laverne & Shirley stickers, which were quickly soaked in deep red blood.

Trish’s remaining hand grasped wildly at the spurting wound, as a cry of desperate, unbelieving shock erupted from her mouth. Even the black-clad maniac seemed momentarily taken aback by the violence of his actions. But not for long. And the axe was soon rising for a second blow, looming in slow-motion above Trish’s head.

In seconds, she was running again – away from the door – her one arm flailing ahead of her, a trail of red droplets pooling in her wake. ‘Help!’ she screamed. ‘Mr Tucker!’ She knew the Dramatic Arts teacher often stayed behind late, polishing his props. If she could just make it to the school hall…

SWOOSH! The axe sliced so cleanly through Trish’s right shoulder that she barely felt the impact. It wasn’t until she tripped over her own disembodied right arm that she realized what had happened. Flopping and floundering on the floor like a human haddock, she rolled to one side as the axe crashed down again, this time burying itself deep in the parquet flooring.

Geysers of blood gushed from the useless stumps of Trish’s arms as she scissor-kicked back onto her feet, spray-painting the corridor walls with a graffiti of gore. As the psychopath struggled with the blade embedded in the floor, Trish staggered away towards the closed door of the assembly hall. Her balance was failing, her increasingly fragmented thoughts spinning out of control, her consciousness fading. Through the haze, a single goal remained clear in her mind: get through the door and find Mr Tucker.

She tottered the final few steps to the hall’s entrance. Risking a quick glance back down the corridor, she saw her attacker wrench the axe-head from the floor and revolve to face her with his literally blank stare. She turned back to the wooden door. Then stopped. All was lost. The sign below the handle said ‘Pull’.

Trish slumped to the floor and lay propped against the wall. Blood still pulsed from the stumps of her absent arms, forming a giant puddle around her. A spasm rocked viciously through her body. Summoning her last shiver of strength, she raised her head to face her gruesome destiny. Black folds enveloped her. She wasn’t sure if they were the outstretched graduation robes of her killer or the shadowy final curtain of imminent death. Either way, she sank into their embrace.