's 2013 Horror Write-off:


Submitted by Brian Shadensack

    "I hate this job."
    "You've already said that three times today, Jerry."
    "I can't help it, I really hate this job."
    "Four times."
    "Well I really do..."
    "Keep whining Jerry, it's a real attractive personality trait."   
    "You know we're not supposed to use our real names."
"Fuck that, who's going to hear us?" Ted snapped.
    "Well I am. We promised we wouldn't use our real names."
    "God you're a pussy."
    "Well, I just feel that it's not very professional to use our real na..."
    "Shut up."
    Jerry's eyes dropped to the floor like a wounded dog. Wounded, not dead, as he found his eyes wandering. He noticed the ripped pleather seats; the stains on the metal where the upholstery should have been; the tools in the back of the van. Finally he noticed the zipped up black leather bag lying on the cold metal floor. He hated that bag; it filled him with a sense of dread; a sense of nausea. He quickly forced his eyes to the window, tracing the crack in the dirty glass.
    "I'm sorry." Ted eventually chimed in.
     Jerry noticed Ted  rolling his eyes. 
    "Its ok man, I know this job is just getting to you."
    "It eventually gets to everyone."
    Jerry sighed. "Hey, listen, why don't-"
    "Fuck! The bag just moved!"   
    Jerry sighed as he realized that the stress was starting to get to Ted again.   

    "Pull over, I'll drive."
    "No, no; I can do it."
    "Listen, Ted. There is no way that bag could have moved."
    "Yeah I know, but you still can't drive."
    "Why not?"
    "It's my van"
    The van started to swerve.
    "No its not, its the boss'."
    "Who I've been working for longer."
    "Seniority doesn't matter"
    "Like hell it doesn't."
    Ted ran a stop sign.
    "Ted? Snap out of it. Ted! Will you please," Jerry was turning red, "Pull the god damn van over!"
    Jerry didn't believe in swearing.

     "Ted? Snap out of it. Ted! Will you pull the god damn van over!"
     "Ok, ok calm down and I'll pull over."
    Ted turned the wheel hard and slammed on the breaks.
    "Do you always have to prove a point?"
    Ted just chuckled. Jerry hated Ted's chuckle. It was a deep dark chuckle, one that you gain from years of smoking cheap cigarettes. Jerry missed the days when Ted smoked, it calmed him down; made him a better person.
        "Hey, at least the doors still work." Jerry said with a half hearted chuckle as he opened his door.
    Ted didn't even hear it.
    "You ever notice that we never work on a nice day?"
    He was right. It was overcast and cold. It painted the entire environment bleakly. The houses all looked the same; cold, small, uninviting.
    "I don't try to think about it", Ted said as he threw the keys to Jerry. "Here- catch."
    Jerry wasn't paying attention. The keys knicked his ear.
    "Oh god"
    Jerry couldn't stand the sight of blood, it made him queasy.
    "Man, Jerry how do you keep your job?"
    "Shut up and help me find them."
    "Help you? You look like you're about to faint."
    "Just find them."
    They looked ridiculous; two grown men, both in cheap suits, on their hands and knees in the cold wet gravel on the side of the road, one looking for a pair of keys; the other just trying to cling to conciousnes.
    "Hey, look at Abbot and Costello!" Someone yelled from a passing car.
    "Fuck you!" Ted yelled back.
    "Fuck you!" Ted yelled back.
    "Kind of an odd insult wasn't it?"
    "Abbot and Costello."
    "You'd rather be Laural and Harvey?"
    "That's not what I'm saying; I'm just saying it's an oddly cultured insult to yell out of a car."
    Ted thought for a second.
    "Fuck you too."
    Jerry grumbled.
    "Found them."
    "Good, let's get going."
"Listen, Ted. There is no way that bag could have moved."
    They piled back into the van, driver and passenger nothing changed.
"Yeah I know, but you still can't drive."
    The van whined and slowly came to life with the turn of a key.
    "Hey Jerry, where you even really looking for the keys?"
    "Not really. I was just trying to keep my breakfast down."
    Ted chuckled.
    "So how are the wife and kids?"
    Jerry realized too late that that was the wrong question to ask.
    "In California." 
    "That doesn't mean you still can't talk to them."
    Ted sighed.        
    "My little girl is turning ten in a week. Her mother doesn't want me to come to her birthday party.."
    "Why not?"
    "She's a bitch."
    "So you still going?"
    "Yeah, I'm not letting that bitch keep me from my daughter. She's my little girl just as much as she is her's."
    "What's her name?"
    "That's an odd name for a kid."
    "No that's her mother. My little girl's name is Caroline."
    "That's a pretty name."
    "Thanks, it's a family name", Ted breathed heavily; reminiscing about better times. "Fuck! The bag just moved."
    "Ted, calm down. There is no way the bag can move."
    Ted fished a penny from the ash tray and flicked it at the bag.
    "Did you hear that? It just moaned."
    "It didn't moan."
    "Yes it did, yes it did."
    "Calm down Ted, calm down. We're almost there."
    "Calm down, calm down!? Fuck you; I'll god damn calm down when I want to calm down."
    "Seriously look around, we're almost there."
    Ted peered out the window. All the houses looked the same. Nice little suburban homes. Ted didn't like suburban homes. They always held secrets. Secrets hidden all over, like shallow grave. Secrets that didn't need a lot of digging to uncover. Secrets like an eight year old stealing her dad's cigarettes. Secrets like an unfaithful wife sleeping with the mailman.
    "Can I tell you something Ted?"
    "What Jerry?"
    "I'll never have kids, can't stand them."
    Ted just chuckled.
    "You're alright, you know that?"
    Jerry just chuckled. He not only finally broke Ted's shell and managed to calm him down.
    "Look Ted, there's the mark."
    They always marked the house; usually it was some weird thing on the mailbox, sometimes it was just a little mark on the door. Ted and Jerry had been in the business long enough to recognize these marks no matter how small they were.
    They both sighed.
    "Time to get ready."
    Jerry eased on to the breaks and pulled into the driveway.
     "Come on; let's go get the stuff out of the back."
    They both unbuckled their seat belts and climbed over their seats. Like clockwork, they both put on their gloves; their boots, their hats.
    Jerry looked at Ted.
    "You know what else I hate?"
    "When they cry."
    They both looked at each other, they both sighed deeply, and they both put on their makeup, sharing a mutual fear of what would happen if someone recognized them.
    It was time to open the bag.
    "You ready for this?"
    Ted unzipped the bag.
    They walked to the door, looked at each other and rang the bell.
    An all too bubbly housewife answered the door,     
    "Hi! You must be Ted and Jerry."
    "We prefer if you would use our professional names, madam."
    "What would those be?" She said with a giggle.
    "Blinky and Jacko."
    "Sounds a bit obscene doesn't it."
    "Union rules."
    "You have a union?"
    "Doesn't everyone?"
    There was no union. The wife let out a sigh and tried to change the subject.
    "Oh! And what a nice puppet you have there."
    "It's a dummy."
    She grined a fake grin; a I don't want you in my house grin. Ted and Jerry recognized it right away.
    "Can we just get on with this?" Ted asked.
    "Fine...Hey birthday boy the clowns are here!"
    "Really!?!" Came a chorus of squeals from the other room.
    Mixed into the squeals was another sound, the sound of a child crying.
    Jerry looked at Ted.
    "Can't stand them."
    Ted chuckled.