Estimated reading time — 14 minutes
This is the third entry in the Chalk series.
The anchorman had completely lost control of the interview. Part of me thought it was funny, but even so, I had a hard time laughing. This whole thing had me worried. I wasn’t sure why at the time, but maybe some part of me sensed that this was only the beginning of a much more enormous horror.
On the surface nothing was out of the ordinary to justify my unease. It was just my usual Friday night ritual. Dinner done, lights off in the livingroom, a glass of whiskey, and the local news before watching a movie with the wife. This was my comfort after a long, hard week of angry clients and angrier bosses. It was time to unwind.
Still, tonight it wasn’t working. Tonight something felt off. I couldn’t put my finger on what it was.
On the news tonight was the latest on a series of killings that had terrorized the city. People were being murdered in their own homes, with rarely any sign of struggle, and never a sign of a break in. They were just found gutted or stabbed or sliced up. The victim was almost always an adult, although there were a few children. Disappearances of other family members were common as well, but there didn’t seem to be a consistent pattern.
The only clue left behind was a bit of residual chalk dust lightly powdered over all of the victims.
“This is a real death cult, alright? The next Charles Manson is out there turning people into murderers!” The shrill woman, I think her name was Gladys something, was a representative for a group called “Family Survivors of the Chalk Murders”. They were a growing group.
She was debating someone who also had a family member that was recently killed. The guy’s mother was butchered in her own kitchen. Even so, he was disagreeing with her. He was some kind of expert on cults, and said that none of it matched the patterns of behavior that these groups usually showed.
“Look, this doesn’t fit with how cults do things. There are no messages left behind, nobody emptying their bank accounts or posting manifestos. None of the active cults in the area are taking responsibility, and believe me, they would if they could. I understand that you need to assign blame, to have someone that you can attack, but there are more important things! We need to stop looking for some cult leader and find the person or persons who are really doing this!”
He was making sense but… I don’t know. Maybe he was the reason I was feeling so uneasy. He was average looking, not really remarkable, but there was just something about him. It could have been that, even though he was yelling, he looked completely calm. His voice didn’t match his face.
Finally the anchor broke in: “Kevin, thanks for that. I’m sorry but we’re out of time, we have to move on.”
Rick Warslen’s face appeared on screen again as he shuffled papers dramatically and the graphic reading “Chalk Murders” appeared over his shoulder.
“Tonight’s grizzly murder of Thomas Greetly brings the total number of Chalk Murders to 38. Greetly was found in his office by the cleaning staff this morning stabbed through the back of the neck repeatedly and coated with a fine layer of chalk dust. The city lives in fear as the number of murders seems to be increasing in frequency, with a murder every day for the past four days. Authorities have yet to comment on… I’m sorry… one moment…”
He seemed to be listening to someone off-screen. I had to laugh a bit. He really did not have it together tonight and it seemed like the whole news broadcast was disorganized and amateurish.
“Don’t laugh at him dear, he’s just upset!”
I was so startled I nearly jumped out of my skin. Kim was standing there next to me in her pink housecoat, backlit in the darkened room by the kitchen light. Weird that she startled me. We’ve been married for 32 years now, and I’m used to being able to hear her coming. I must have been even more wrapped up in this news story than I thought.
“Yeah OK hon, I’ll give the guy a break, his daughter having been killed and all. He’s still a wreck though, really he should have taken more time off than just a month.”
“Well, if I got all hacked up and chalk covered, would you go to work the next day?” She gave me her cute, pouty, fishing-for-compliments look. I knew what that look meant. It meant she wasn’t going to let me watch the news until I gave her some attention.
“Of course not baby, I’d be a wreck for years!” She leaned over and I kissed her with just enough passion to make her feel like I wanted her, but not so much that she would get excited and want me back. This way she can push me away with an “oh you!” and I can go back to the news. Works most of the time.
Rick Warslen had started up again. “… obtained exclusive closed circuit security footage of the murder of Thomas Greetly. Ladies and gentlemen, while this may be hard to watch, it will be important to identify the killer and for your own safety familiarize yourself with how these murders are being done. Children and those sensitive to violence should leave the room. The following footage is very shocking.”
“Whoops, that’s my cue to get out of the room,” Kim said, “Really I have no idea how you can watch that!” She smiled and gave me a head shake of disapproval as she left. I love her, but as soon as anything the slightest bit scary comes on the TV she either runs away or makes me change the channel. I haven’t been able to watch a horror movie in peace in years.
The camera quality was pretty good for security footage; sharp and in full color. You could clearly see the rows of cubicles and into the glass office that Greetly was working in. It was late and he was the only person there. The lights were on in his office area, but the rest of the place was mostly in shadows.
Two people entered from the left. One was a guy with longish hair wearing a vest over a purple shirt with the sleeves rolled up. He had a pair of glasses that reflected the light from the office. The other person was an older lady in a shawl and drab looking dress.
When they entered his office Greetly looked up at them and leaned back. He seemed relaxed; not at all apprehensive about his guests. The old lady walked around the desk to stand next to Greetly while the guy in the shirt and vest stood back by the door.
The anchorman’s voice cut in: “I’ve just been informed that the woman on screen has been identified as Greetly’s mother, Mildred Greetly, an 86 year old pensioner. She… oh…”
He stopped talking when Greetly’s mom pulled out the knife. It reflected the office lights brightly. She held it behind her son’s back, and he never saw it coming when she drove it down into the back of this neck.
I couldn’t help but wince and jerk back from the TV. The utter brutality of it… she didn’t even hesitate. She just pulled out the knife, positioned it in the air, and then put her whole body into the thrust. The force drove Greetly face-down onto the desk, but she wasn’t done. As he went into spasms she wrenched the knife out and then drove it back in with both hands, leaning back to lift the knife as high as she could and then bending at the waist to make the most of each thrust. One, two, three, four… blood splattering up her arms, over her face, everywhere.
The worst part was her expression. That part turned my stomach. She was smiling this big false-toothy grin as she murdered her son.
The man she’d come in with made a slight motion, and she stopped and stood back. He approached the desk and lifted his hands to hover about a foot away from the dripping body, as if giving it a blessing or something. The picture warped then, bulging out unnaturally. It wasn’t a digital interference but more like the lens was being twisted somehow. Then… everything went black.
After a few seconds Mark Warslen’s face reappeared, shuffling papers with shaking hands and a drawn expression.
“Shocking footage of the murder of Thomas Greetly. We’ve been informed that Mildred Greetly has been taken into custody. We have… yes, OK… we do have footage of her being brought in for questioning. We take you live to the 9th precinct headquarters.”
The camera cut to an outdoor scene. It was mayhem as a crowd of reporters was being held back by a few officers. The back door of a police car was being opened. The old lady was pulled out in handcuffs, blood still splattered across her face. No sign of the other guy.
She seemed calm despite the shouting from the reporters. She looked happy beneath the blood, as if all was right with the world and there was nothing to worry about.
A shout cut through the noise of the crowd: “How could you kill your own son?” She said something then, but it was hard to hear. It was something like: “There are more important things.”
They led her to the door of the station and she seemed to be going peacefully, but then suddenly she straightened up, looked around until she spotted a camera, and stared into the lens. She started shouting then: “Chalk will consume you all! Every last one! You’ll rot in the pit, and his presence will be made manifest!” The cops started shoving her faster, so she yelled over her shoulder as best she could: “We are his disciples, and we are everywhere! We’re the people you’ve loved and trusted! And we will kill you, I promise! You will be fed to he that emerges!”
Suddenly the TV switched off. Irritated I looked around and saw Kim standing next to the table putting the remote back down. That’s the second time tonight she snuck up on me! Usually she’s so stiff I can hear her stomping around easily, but there was an unusually relaxed grace about the way she was moving now.
“You been drinking?” I asked.
“You know, dear, I’ve been thinking about taking up a new hobby,” she said. I started to get nervous. First her odd behaviour and now this random phrase. Maybe it was just the crazy old lady on the TV, but all of these little unexpected things about Kim tonight were making me uneasy. I tensed up a bit and shifted in my seat.
“Yes. I’ve been meaning for some time to take up art. You’re going to help me with my first piece. By the way, have you met my friend Chalk?”
She points across the room and fear slams through my body. He’s standing there, the guy from the TV. The tweed vest and purple shirt are unmistakeable. He’s smiling at me behind shining glasses.
“Kim, get out of here, he…”
The blade gashes my right hand, pain shooting up my wrist. When I turn to look, Kim is standing over me, tugging at the knife that has buried itself in the chair. She’s wearing a big, toothy grin.
“What the hell are you doing?” I ask. She doesn’t even seem upset that she accidentally hurt me. My fear at the man’s presence hasn’t left me, but I’m more confused at that moment at what Kim is trying to do.
She pulls the blade out of the chair and winds up for another blow. I react, standing up and making a grab for her wrists to hold her back. My right hand is in searing pain and gushing blood. It’s making my arm weak, and the gleaming knife is getting closer to my face. I can’t hold her back, but at the same time I’m worried that if I push back any harder I’ll hurt her. I’d rather let her kill me than hurt her.
Still, I don’t want to die either, and a terror begins to creep in as I realize that she really is trying to end my life. This wasn’t an accident. If I hadn’t been trying to wave her off my hand wouldn’t have deflected the blade and she would have buried it in my chest.
She’s still smiling at me, showing lots of teeth, but seems calm even as the muscles strain and cords stand out on her neck in her effort to push the knife into my face. I don’t understand.
“Kim! Kim wake up! It’s me, it’s Luther!”
“I know dear,” she says, “it would be better if you stopped resisting. I’m going to kill you now.”
“It’s an exchange of energy. There are…”
The tip of the blade starts to dig into my cheek, and I panic. I shove hard enough to make her stumble back, and suddenly I’m running. My feet take me down the hall, and I slam the door of the bedroom behind me. It’s only then that I realize the stupidity of this move since the door has no lock. I brace my back against the door.
“Come back dear, this really isn’t the way it’s supposed to work,” she calls. My hand is throbbing now, and I wrap a random t-shirt around it that happens to be laying nearby.
I still can’t believe this is happening. My Kim. Why would she be acting like this? Who is that man? Is she really about to kill me?
She tries the doorknob and I press back against the door, my feet sliding on the carpet. Terror wins over confusion then, and all I can think of is survival. I can’t fight back at her directly or I might hurt her, and she’d probably kill me. I need options.
I spot the phone a few feet away, and make a wild grab for it before slamming my back against the door again.
“911, what is the nature of your emergency?”
“It’s that guy from the TV! The one who was with the old lady, the one that’s getting people to kill their families! He’s here and… my wife… tell the police not to hurt her! She can’t…”
“Sir, what’s your address?”
“2654 Chrisland Street. I’m hiding in the bedroom, holding the door closed. Please hurry they’re…”
“Luther?” the operator asks.
What? How does she know my name?
“Yes,” I say.
“Luther, just open the door and let them in. They need to complete their art.”
This can’t be. It can’t be. I start to get dizzy and realize that I’ve been panting. I try to stop before I pass out. Calm down. Think.
“Luther? Luther can you hear me?” Kim calls through the door, “Let me in Luther. Chalk has created such a beautiful piece of art, and I need to bring it into the world. Just come out and sit in your chair.”
“You should do as she says,” says the operator. I hang up.
This can’t be happening. It can’t.
She tries the doorknob again and pushes. I hold it shut, but my feet feel like they just have no grip on this carpet. My heart is beating so hard now I swear I can hear it. Kim had always been a fitness buff and nagged at me to get in shape, but I’ve always preferred the couch and a strong drink. I’m regretting that now. The extra pounds I’ve packed on are going to give me a heart attack before my wife even has the chance to kill me.
She starts throwing herself against the door over and over. She isn’t holding back at all and is hitting the door with more force than I imagined she could. Maybe that guy is helping her, although it’s only one thump against the door at a time and it’s her grunts of effort that I hear. This has to be bruising her up, and she’ll break a collar bone if she keeps up this pace. The door opens an inch every once in awhile, and I keep having to scramble to keep my back against it. I’m sweating now, although more with fear than strain.
In the window across the room a face appears, looking in at me. It’s the man with the longish hair and the vest, the one Kim called Chalk. His glasses are reflecting the light and he’s grinning at me.
Madness took me then. The throbbing in my hand, the roaring of my blood in my ears, my wife… he gave me a target for all of it. I stood and ran at the window, screaming at the top of my lungs some crazy, incoherent thing. I have no idea what I was thinking. All I could think was that maybe, if I could get him, maybe somehow Kim would snap out of it.
Kim opened the door behind me, filling the window with light from the hallway and obscuring the man’s face, but that didn’t stop me. I dove, raising my arms and smashing through the glass with my elbows. I had no idea how torn up I was when I landed, but adrenaline had taken over again and I scrambled up onto my feet in the cool wet grass. He wasn’t out here. Had I imagined him?
When I looked up, Kim was looking back at me smiling from the window. “Come back here, we have important work to do,” she said calmly.
“Don’t do this, don’t kill me,” I blurted.
“Oh don’t worry about that. There are more important things,” she said. She leaned forward then and started to climb through the window, seemingly oblivious to the scrapes and gouges she was creating in her arms and legs.
I ran. Pain raged through my legs announcing the damage that I did them with my dive through the window earlier, but I was too scared to slow down. Across the street and two doors down was Frank’s house. He would know what to do, even if I was too weak and stupid to.
The street was covered in chalk drawings laid out in swirling patterns. I noticed a picture of a rotting corpse hanging from a tree, which seemed to twist and contort into another picture of someone who was being hit by a car. The detail on their broken shin and the anguish in their eyes was unmistakeable.
As I passed over the drawings it felt like the pavement itself was throbbing and vibrating. My head started spinning then, and I wondered if I would even make it across the street.
As luck would have it, Frank had left the garage door opened, and he was inside putting something away. “Frank! Frank help me,” I called. When he saw me his jaw dropped in shock. I can only imagine how I looked.
“What’s going on Luther? Are you OK? Is Kim OK?”
“Kim did this to me! She’s…” It occurred to me then that she was probably almost on top of me by then, and I turned around to fend her off. She was gone. I looked back at the house, but she wasn’t there either.
A heavy hand landed on my shoulder and I jumped, screaming. It was just Frank of course, but it was getting harder to think things through. “Calm down buddy, what the hell is going on?” He took my good arm and started to help me to his house. I allowed myself to limp a bit, wincing with every bloody step at the deep cuts in my legs and feet from the broken window.
“It was Kim, she just went nuts. She came at me with a knife.”
“Kim did that? I can’t believe it!”
“I’m not sure I believe it either, but…” I held up the blood-soaked shirt in my right hand.
“Alright buddy, I got ya. Come on in and let’s get you cleaned up.”
“What about Joan and the kids? They’ll flip if they see me like this.”
“Don’t worry about them Luther. They’ll be fine, there are more important things. Let’s just get you sorted out here, then we’ll figure out what to do about Kim.”
It sounded like a plan, but something he said sent a shock of fright through me. I couldn’t put my finger on it. What was it that he said that had suddenly turned my stomach in knots?
The truth is, I just didn’t want to think about it. I was sick of being afraid. I shoved that cold fear down as best I could and let Frank guide me into the house, all the while leaving a bloody trail behind me. Seeing the red puddles I was leaving when we got to his linoleum floor seemed even worse, somehow. “Oh man, look at the mess I’m making in your house.”
Frank chuckled. “It’s fine buddy, like I said: there are more important things.”
I froze. That phrase. The old lady said it. Kim said it. Now Frank was saying it.
“What’s wrong?” he asked.
“Where’s the family Frank?” I asked.
“They’re in the living room. Don’t worry about it, come on,” he said.
I tore loose and ran for the living room. I had to know for certain if my suspicions were right. When I got there what I saw ripped the last of my sanity from me, and I fell to my knees in wretched pain and terror. My horrified scream echoed against uncaring walls.
Frank’s family was sitting on the couch. His wife, his daughter, and his son. Their heads, however, were sitting on the coffee table. Their bodies were pale with powder, and blood covered everything else. Just… it was… everywhere…
I could hear Frank approaching from behind at an easy, casual pace. He chuckled a bit before saying: “I’d only just finished cleaning myself up and putting the chainsaw away before you got here. Takes a lot more work than you’d think to get blood out of the motor. Oh, hi Chalk! Found one of your runaways!”
Chalk had suddenly appeared in the moment I had looked away, standing in the middle of the room as if he had always been there. He looked down at me, smiling. The front door opened slowly and Kim walked in with the butcher knife, blood trickling down her arms and legs from wounds she didn’t seem to care about.
She walked straight over to me. I should have run, I should have fought back, but… it was all just too much. I could only weakly paw at the hand that grabbed my hair and jerked my head back. I searched her eyes for some sign of pity or sympathy or something, but there was only a kind of happy determination.
“Kim,” I whispered. It was all I could manage.
She leaned back before driving the gleaming knife forward into my chest. The pain was excruciating, but I lost consciousness before the second, third, fourth, and fifth thrusts.
Death, however, didn’t come. This wasn’t the end.
I was drawn out of myself and down into a dark corridor of rotting flesh and dust. There I joined the dozens of secret victims of Chalk, the ones that his servants had hidden along with the few they had revealed to the world. The boundaries of my identity were split open and my mind was spilled out into the gallery to mingle with the other victims. We think as one now, we the rotting dead.
We feed him from here in this pit of horror and darkness. Our essence decays and powders, feeding him on the surface world, slowly bringing his essence forth. He is so much more than even his disciples comprehend. He is a god beyond imagination, a demon from which Satan himself cowers in fear. The barest hint of him has been shown, a mere shadow. Now, the shadow grows.
Soon there will be enough of us, and his true face will be revealed. Towering and terrible and all-consuming, he will sweep across the world and consume it entirely with a gaping maw of fear and madness. All of humanity will know this dessication and despair. Suffering will be the only truth.
His power is a juggernaut now. Nothing can stop it. This is only the beginning.
Credit To – Sidney Crawlspace