“You shouldn’t have antagonized them, Alexa,” her father said in their living room an hour after she’d gotten home. “They’d have left you alone if you’d kept quiet.”
“What?” Alexa shouted. “So, it was my fault? The principal made me tell him who did it, Dad!”
“Don’t you raise your voice at me, young lady,” he said.
“You side with my enemies, and you’re surprised at my shouting?” she yelled.
“Oh, go to your room, and without supper, if you’re gonna give me that attitude!” he shouted.
“Yes!” her mother shouted. “If you hadn’t provoked them, you wouldn’t have gotten slush all over my carpet! Go to your room and stay there–yes, without supper–’til you change your attitude!”
“You don’t love me at all!” Alexa shouted in sobs, then stomped up the stairs.
“Oh, listen to that melodrama,” he said.
“If your stamping of your feet makes marks on those stairs, you will be cleaning them, not me!” her mother shouted, just before the slamming of Alexa’s bedroom door.
She dropped on her bed, sobbing and sobbing. Then she looked up at her dresser mirror; but she got a shock when she saw, instead of her face in the reflection, a split-second flash of the red-skinned man.
“You shouldn’t have finked on those kids,” Tiffany’s mom said in the bathroom, a half-hour after washing Tiffany’s clothes. Her mom took a wet cloth to the blood on Tiffany’s hair. “If you’d kept your mouth shut, I wouldn’t have to do all this cleaning away of your disgusting blood.”
“Your sympathy for my plight is touching, Mom,” Tiffany, sitting in the bathtub, hissed with a maximum of sarcasm.
“What did you say to me?” her mom said in a threatening tone. “Maybe I can leave you to clean yourself, you ungrateful little brat.”
Tiffany bit her tongue.
A tear ran down her cheek.
She looked over at the bathroom mirror. Instead of seeing her reflection, she saw a brief flash of the man with bright, devil-red skin looking back at her.
She yelped and jerked her head back.
“Tiffany!” her mom shouted. “Stay still! This is hard enough as it is!”
Another tear ran down Tiffany’s cheek.
Megan had been lying on her bed, shaking and crying non-stop for almost an hour before her father knocked on her door.
“Supper’s almost ready,” he said. “Hurry up.”
“I don’t want any,” she sobbed.
He opened her door. “What’s this nonsense?” he said as he approached her bed. “I just cooked your dinner. Not get down there and eat it before it gets cold!”
“I’m not hungry,” she sobbed.
“Oh, I see,” he said. “You had some…meat…earlier today, and it…filled…you all up, didn’t it? Well, that serves you right for giving yourself up too easily.”
“Dad, I just got raped!” she screamed, getting up from her bed.
“Your punishment for being too easy. I warned you…”
“Oh, I wouldn’t expect my own father to sympathize, since you yourself raped me when I was twelve!“
He smacked her so hard, she flew over to the other side of her bed.
“You were punished today for being a little slut,” he said, playing with his zipper. “As you were when you were twelve. Now, get downstairs and eat your dinner before you get punished again!” He left her room.
I’m a ‘slut,’ she thought, because Mom ran off with another man. You, Dad, didn’t have her around to call a slut, so you took it out on me. You can get it up only if you have total power over a girl…like me.
Her face soaked with tears, she looked up at her bedroom mirror and saw a split-second flash of the red-skinned man in the reflection.
WE’RE GONNA GET YOU.
This is what Alexa saw on her computer screen when checking her email on Saturday morning. The sender was anonymous. Her heart thumped; she twitched in her chair.
“Mom! Dad!” she called from her room, a tear running down her cheek. “Please, come here! I’m scared!”
“Oh, what’s your problem now?!” her mom yelled.
“Can’t I watch the game in peace?” her father yelled from the living room as he watched a video on his computer of a hockey game he hadn’t had time to watch on TV the night before.
I guess only I can solve this, she thought, with a thought of her dad’s razor blades; then she twitched again to see the red face in the monitor reflection.
YOU’RE GONNA GET RAPED AGAIN.
Megan read this on her cellphone early on Saturday afternoon. As soon as she saw the anonymous message, she dropped her phone on her bedroom floor; luckily, it hit a soft rug and didn’t break. She let out a loud yelp as she let go of it.
Her dad heard her from his bedroom. “What’s your problem now?” he barked.
Knowing she’d get no sympathy from him, she kept her mouth shut.
Luckily, he didn’t inquire any further.
She began sobbing. She looked in the mirror, and gasped at the sight of the red man.
WE’RE COMING AFTER YOU.
Tiffany jumped in her chair at the dining room table when she saw this anonymous message in her email on an iPad.
“Oh, my God!” she sighed, then began sobbing.
Her mother–on the sofa in the living room, which was next to the dining room and without a separating wall, so Tiffany was in earshot–said, “What are you blubbering about now?”
“I wouldn’t expect you to care, Mom,” Tiffany snapped.
“What did you say to me?” her mom hissed.
Tiffany got up and took her iPad to her bedroom.
“Yeah,” her mom said. “You get out of here if you’re gonna give me that attitude.” She heard Tiffany slam her bedroom door. “That’s it, slam the door, ya spoiled little brat!”
WE’RE GONNA GET YOU.
YOU’RE GONNA GET RAPED AGAIN.
WE’RE COMING AFTER YOU.
Alexa, Megan, and Tiffany respectively got these anonymous email threats repeatedly over the weekend, an average of about one every three or four hours each day until bedtime. Their parents continued to show no sympathy.
By Sunday night at about 11:00, the three girls were ready to end it all. Alexa was filling her bathtub while getting a razor blade ready. Megan swiped a bottle of at least sixteen or so of her dad’s sleeping pills from the bathroom medicine cabinet. Tiffany took a kitchen knife to slash her wrists in her bedroom; she wanted to give her mother a pool of red to clean up.
About to get in the water, Alexa looked down in it and saw the red man’s face again.
Megan closed the door to the medicine cabinet and saw his red face in the mirror.
Tiffany’s teary eyes looked in her dresser mirror and saw his face.
“Who are you” all three girls said…at the same time.
“I am a chthonic spirit,” he said.
The confusion on the girls’ faces indicated that they didn’t know what chthonic means.
“I’m a spirit from the underworld, the land of the dead,” he said.
“You’re a devil?” all three girls said, at once again.
“Yes, but that shouldn’t bother you,” he said. “You’re about to kill yourselves, which you know as Catholics will send you straight to hell. I’d say you’re emotionally prepared to deal with devils, aren’t you?”
“What do you want?” all three asked together again. It was as if their identities were fused.
“I want to help you,” he said.
“How?” they asked.
“My name is Furioso,” he said. “Since all three of you are about to commit the sin of despair, and give up the hope of salvation, perhaps you’d like it if I helped you get revenge on all your tormentors, including your so unloving parents.”
The girls, now seeing not only Furioso, but also each other in the reflections, were…for the first time in a long time…grinning.
“I can help you make them all share your pain. I can drag them all down to Hell, where you three, as demons, can torment them for all eternity. You will be their bullies, for a change.”
The girls’ grins widened.
“What’s more,” he went on, “I can make your exit from this world far less painful than the exits you were planning. Join me, and as a trio of spirits, you can unleash your fury onto the world.”
Suddenly, a crimson vortex appeared before each of the three girls, a portal into Hell. Alexa saw her bathtub water transform into a red whirlpool. Megan and Tiffany saw such bloody whirlpools form on their bathroom and dresser mirrors.
They each felt a tugging, pulling their trembling bodies forward, which they at first resisted. A swarm of moaning voices from the whirlpools seemed to be warning them, “No!…Don’t!”
“Whose voices are those?” the girls asked in unison.
“Don’t worry about that,” Furioso said. “Just let yourselves be pulled in, and be the spirits of vengeance, punishing the guilty of the Earth. The wrongdoers of the world deserve to be punished, don’t they? Aren’t you tired of evildoers getting away with their crimes? When have you known God to intervene, even after your most fervent prayers? You were going to kill yourselves and go to Hell, anyway. Now, stop hesitating. Come in!”
The girls continued to tremble before the vortices and the moaning of No.
“Come in, and claim your rightful revenge!” he called out.
“OK,” the girls said in a synchronized, tremulous voice.
They leaned forward and let themselves get sucked into the red hole, screaming the whole way.
They landed in a pit of infinite darkness.