LOVE THEY NEIGHBOR
by DEREK PLYMESSER
Dennis Jones was not having a holly jolly Christmas, and no matter how many times Burl Ives told him to, the radio wasn’t much help. It was Christmas Day, and the filthy heathens across the street were celebrating the birth of the Lord. How dare they? How dare they tarnish the great name of Jesus as an excuse to quell their greed? They didn’t even worship him; they didn’t worship anything. How could they be so blasphemous?
Those dirty fucking atheists, with their big tree and its decorations.
‘Why would they even want to celebrate Christmas?’ Dennis thought to himself, peering through the cracked blinds at their house.
“Mama!” he yelled, “Mama! Come in here!” He sat patiently in his stretched pajamas, adorned with reindeer and elves, kicking his feet back and forth through the air. He had a firm grip on his Bible; he never left home without it. In fact, he didn’t leave his bedroom without it.
“What do you need Denny?” His mother yelled from the hallway as she slowly, almost cautiously approached the room. Dennis could hear his mother’s walker clanking down on the wooden floor, and he could hear the scratch of her slippers as her feet brushed forward, collecting dust.
“Mama, those filthy buh…buh…bastards across the street are celebratin’ Christmas.” He opened his Bible and began flipping through the pages. “Right here! Suh…suh, Second chronicles verse fi…fi…fi…fifteen thirteen. That whosoever would not seek the luh…luh, lord God of Israel should be put to death, whether small or great, whether man or woman.”
“Denny, you gotta stop with this.” His mother let out in a short breath. “Every year you get all worked up about this, let them celebrate what they want, Jesus won’t be mad son.” Dennis felt the heat behind his face intensify. They were heathens, they were godless, and they should be put to death. “Jesus loves everyone Denny”, his mother continued, “even if they don’t love him.”
Dennis rose to his feet, and looked down at his mother. He was six foot five, and she was dwarfed beneath the man shaped shadow, sliced up by the lines of light that the blinds let sneak in from outside.
“No, mama! NO!” He screamed at her, and his eyes filled with tears. “Jesus, won’t be happy! Jesus can’t love them! Jesus only luh…luh…loves people like us!” Dennis gave his mother what he thought was a slight push, but the strength of the thirty nine year old body far exceeded the ability of the seven year old boy living inside of it.
His mother fell hard against his dresser, and her walker went tumbling to the side. There was a cracking sound when her head made contact. Dennis heard it, but ignored it.
“I wish papa, didn’t have to go to heaven so suh…soon! He knew better than you! It was an accident, what he did. You say it weren’t but it was!” Dennis stood over his mother, breathing heavily, waiting for her to get up.
“Mama? Get up. Mama! Get up now!” He got on his knees and grabbed her by her spindly shoulders. “Mama get up! GET UP! This isn’t fuh...fuh…funny!” He lifted her limp body and propped it against the side of his dresser.
When he let go, she slid down the side and fell to the floor again. Dennis was now crying hysterically, and he felt a sharp pain in the side of his left temple.
Dennis, do not worry. Your mother is with me. He could clearly hear this voice speaking to him; he felt a warmth and love radiating from it. It felt so familiar.
“Is that you, Lord?” He asked aloud, as he gripped his mother’s corpse for dear life.
My son, your mother is at peace. She basks in my love.
“Buh…buh…but I killed her, I have committed sin! Please forgive me Lord!” Dennis cried.
Do not worry Dennis, you are forgiven, but first you must act on my word. You must cleanse the earth. You must make your neighbors love and fear the Lord, they must know his wrath.
“Anything for you, Lord…”
Go now, and cleanse them.
Dennis left his mother’s corpse lying on his bedroom floor, grabbed his bible and ran down the hall towards the garage. He stopped in the hallway. A large steel crucifix hung from a hook in the wall. “Lord, Lord” he muttered, and removed it from its home of twenty years.
He gathered what he needed; stuffing it all into an old Disney backpack, still his favorite. He opened his front door and let the sunlight fall onto him. The Lord’s sunlight. He made his way out into the open air, walking through the snow, towards the heathens’ house.
He hadn’t bothered to change his clothes. He was barefoot, wearing his Christmas pajamas, and he had a white-knuckled grip on the crucifix. He felt nothing but warmth, as his toes developed a blue hue.
When he finally reached the door, his heart was racing. He rarely left the house without his mother.
Cleanse them! Do it now! Teach them!
He rang the doorbell and pounded on the door a couple of times. Soon after he could hear a couple of voices and then footsteps moving towards the door.
When Thomas Brooks opened the door, the colorful scene inside momentarily distracted Dennis.
“Uhm, hey Dennis. You doin’ okay? Why are you dressed like that out here in the…” Dennis hit Thomas across the face with the large crucifix, the ensuing blood splattering his face and pajama top. Thomas hit the floor with a heavy thud.
“Hun? You okay?” Beth called from the kitchen, she had heard the noise, and had no clue of what it could be. “Babe?” This wasn’t right, something was wrong; Beth left her bag of cake mix on the counter, grabbed a knife from the wooden block (the set was actually a present from last year), and stood just around the corner from the front room.
She could hear heavy breathing through the sound of the rushing, cold wind outside. The door must be open. What was going on? She peeked her head around the corner and saw the silhouette of a man standing over her husband, with a large crucifix in his hand. Thomas was on the ground and there was a small pool of blood around his head.
She felt the entirety of her spine turn cold. She had no clue what was going on but there was no way that her son was going to be woken and harmed in any way. She bolted around the corner, holding the knife in front of her like a javelin, and ran towards the man.
The knife missed by inches, and the instant before the crucifix made contact with her forehead, she recognized her neighbor, Dennis. Before her panic could intensify, a splash of pain fell over her body and everything went black.
Thomas awoke to a view of his Christmas tree. He couldn’t move and he had a horrible pain in his head. He tried to speak but his mouth was swollen and bleeding. He looked down to see he had been taped to his recliner. He immediately thought about how hard it was going to be to remove the tape from the leather without damaging it. Then he cursed himself and looked around. He could see that Beth had been taped up to a chair from the kitchen table and was still unconscious, sitting to his right. Day had become night, if the windows were any evidence.
Thomas began struggling with his restraints. He could not move at all, and he could hear Dennis speaking somewhere. His thoughts rushed off to his son; did Dennis know they had a child?
His question was answered when Dennis came hobbling through the doorway with the boy, bound and gagged, draped over the maniac’s shoulder.
Dennis watched as Thomas squirmed. He squirmed around like a wicked snake; like the Devil himself.
Dennis, he is the devil incarnate. Show him the Lord’s fury. With the boy.
“Yes my Lord!” Dennis screamed. “I’ll cleanse them!” He threw the child onto the ground and the boy let out a muffled scream. Thomas began to mumble something.
“Shtop!” Blood came flowing out Thomas’ swollen face. “Pleash Dennish, pleash shtop!”
“You sh..sh…shut your fucking mouth! You devil!” Dennis brought his fist across Thomas’ face, causing a fresh stream of blood to fly through the air.
Dennis walked over to the Christmas tree and carefully removed a glass ball ornament. He placed the thing on the coffee table and, with a look of pure disgust, crushed it into small pieces with the back of his crucifix.
When he was finished, he gathered the jagged little chunks of glass in his hand and walked back over to Thomas. Thomas, still reeling from the punch, struggled to regain a clear head.
“Open your filthy mouth.” Dennis said in a stoic tone. When Thomas began shaking his head, Dennis grabbed his face and began prying his mouth open. “Open ya…ya…your fucking mouth! You sta…sta…stupid fuckin’ heathen!”
He forced Thomas’ jaw open and began shoving the sparkling chunks of glass into his mouth, cutting the man’s lips and face in the process, as well as Dennis’ own fingers. Their blood mingled. Dennis used one hand to stifle Thomas' screams and reached for the ground with the other, coming back up with a roll of duct tape, which he used to secure Thomas’ mouth.
It’s time for them to learn. Time for you to teach them! NOW, DENNIS, CLEANSE THEM!
Dennis looked Thomas square in the face. He moved in closer and closer until they each could feel the other’s lashes fluttering against their corneas.
“Now I’m going to cleanse the earth, you filthy monster! The Lord doesn’t want you on his planet!”
“So, Mr. Jones, these pictures I’m about to show, this is what you did to your mother and the Brooks family on the afternoon of December twenty-fifth of last year, correct?” Dennis looked around at all the people in the room. He had a large smile on his face, everyone in the room looked at him with horrible disgust. They didn’t understand that he had been doing the Lord’s work.
“Yes, su…su…sir. I was cleansing the earth for the Lord.” Some of the jurors let out horrified gasps. “The Lord told me exactly wha…wha…what to do.”
Dennis’ state appointed lawyer, who very much did not want to be where he was at this moment, stood up.
“Your honor.” He said, “We have a confirmed confession on my clients behalf, must we show the pictures?”
“Please be seated, the jury must see all the evidence.” The judge motioned for him to sit back down and they began the slideshow. With every picture, the whole room became more and more silent, the tension building like a fog.
The first photo was of Dennis’ mother laying on the floor propped slightly against a dresser. The Second photo was of Beth Brooks body sitting in a chair. She had been beheaded. The third photo was of Thomas Brooks, his entire face was wrapped in duct tape and there was a large gaping hole in his stomach. The final photo was of Maximilion Brooks, seven years old. He was hanging in front of a Christmas tree, his head in a noose and his neck slightly twisted, his arms were held straight out and duct taped to a 2x4, so his body made the shape of Jesus on the cross.
One of the jurors fainted at the sight of the photos, and another began to weep when the slide show was over. It took a while for anyone in the room to say anything.
As all the fancy dressed men began speaking again, Dennis was drawn back to the voice that had guided him.
Worry not my son, if these men cage you, you can free yourself. You can come be with me and your mother. Fret not, just tell them the truth, tell them you were doing the bidding of your father!
The next day, Dennis’ body was found slouched at the foot of his cell. Suicide is a mortal sin, but he had done it to be with his father, at his father’s request…
Derek Plymesser is a horror/Science fiction writer from Omaha, Nebraska. Some say Derek has an unhealthy obsession with reading. With his growing collection of 500+ books, he is slowly growing crazier, and may be an actual psychopath. He is also a book reviewer on the social networking site YouTube. Derek's short story Dream My Eyes and We Will Fall Together appears in the October 2013 issue of HelloHorror.
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