Chapter 2: Killing Time

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When the line had gone dead, Justin knew the same applied for his friend; the second one to die within a day of each other. No, not die, but get brutally murdered.

Early the next morning, his assumption was confirmed. Josh's car had been found in the parking lot of a nearby park with his body still inside—some of it in the front seat... and some in the back. (Thankfully, Justin didn't know about that last little, gory detail.)

"You did everything you could've done," his mom said, trying to comfort him. "We called the police, but with nothing to really go on, what could they do?"

They'd followed his phone signal to his car, which was how they'd found him, but it had no prints or anything to give them any clue as to who was doing this. Even though Justin had his suspicion about who it was, he knew everyone would think he was crazy if he mentioned it, so he kept his fear to himself.

Well, he did tell one person.

"Have you lost your freaking mind?" Mitch asked, leaning back in Justin's desk chair.

"No, I've not," Justin argued, "but I'm about to. Two of our best friends get killed in a matter of two days! Who's next? Me? You?" He threw the baseball he was tossing across his room, putting a small dent in his wall. "I heard him, Mitch."

"You heard who?"

After several seconds of contemplating whether he wanted to share his fears, he knew he had to. "Oxford Manning." He shivered, hoping Mitch didn't notice.

Mitch looked stunned at first, but then started laughing. "The ice-cream man?"

"Yes, the ice-cream man." He got up and walked across his room, looking out his window at all the cars parked next door. "He's come back."

"Yeah, you've lost it."

"Whatever, Mitch. I know what I heard."

"He's dead. They all said there was no way he could survive outside that hospital," Mitch reminded him.

"And if that's the case, then we killed him. So, tell me how the hell I heard him last night on the phone? He asked me if Josh's begging sounded familiar. If he's so dead, how did I talk to him?"

"How do you know it was him?" Mitch asked. "What if it's someone acting like him?"

"Either way, they know. The only people there that day were me, you, Brandon, and Josh."

"And Caleb," Mitch added.

"No, he left as soon as you taped his mouth, remember?" Justin felt sick, now, thinking about that day, wishing it had never happened. "It got way out of hand." He sat back down on his bed. "And now, two of us have been killed. Tortured. Mutilated, just like Oxford. And quite frankly, I'm scared."

Finally, Mitch seemed a bit worried. "But how would he be able to do something like that in his condition? He was burned really bad. They didn't think he'd live, and most likely didn't. And if it's not him, then who is it? Nobody knows besides us."

"I don't know," Justin admitted. "But if this does have something to do with... with the ice-cream man, then we're next."

Justin was wrong. They weren't next. He quickly realized that when sirens woke him up the next morning.

Looking out his window to see what was going on now, he saw them—Brandon's parents. "What the hell?"

They were lying naked in their front yard, or at least they looked naked. Their bodies were so cut up and bloody that it was hard to tell.

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