Chapter 3: One Scoop or Two?

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Regardless of the fancy alarm system, Justin didn't feel comfortable being all the way downstairs in the den with an entire floor between him and his parents.

"Let's go back to my room," he demanded. "I don't like being down here."

"Yeah," Mitch agreed as he strained his eyes to see through the darkness that hung outside the door like a thick blanket. "Do you see anything?"

"No, man, but I'm not sticking around to look, either."

Something hit the glass door hard, causing Mitch to fall backwards. "What was that?"

Something was laying on the concrete patio just outside the door, causing Mitch to crawl over and look at it.

"Come on!" Justin yelled. "Who cares what it is. We need to go tell my—"

"Wait," Mitch said, getting closer. "It looks like a—"

A bony hand reached down and picked up the piece of meat that laid on the patio, putting it back onto the cone it held. "Oops," the creepy, zombie-looking thing said through the glass. "I'm so clumsy sometimes." Its tongue licked the bloody edge of its cone. "Mm." If it would've had a mouth, it would've been smiling as it looked back up at them. "Delicious."

"Holy shit," Mitch said. "It's him."

It didn't look like Oxford Manning, but they knew it was—a very terrifying and horrifically maimed version of the former ice-cream man.

Both the boys screamed as they turned to run, Mitch finally scrambling to his feet, but neither one made it very far. "How did you—?" Justin's words were quickly silenced as a large piece of duct tape was slapped across his mouth.

"That may sting a bit when it comes off," it said, kicking Justin backwards into Mitch, both of them flying backwards down the stairs. "I wouldn't want you to be left out," it said, taping Mitch's mouth, too.

Justin tried to run, but was quickly grabbed, ropes he hadn't noticed suddenly wrapped tightly around his hands and feet.

Mitch crawled away backwards, toward the stairs, hoping he wouldn't be noticed, but he was, black eyes turning toward him. Shaking his head and begging through the tape to be let go, he held up his hands, which were instantly tied together, along with his feet.

"What's that?" it asked Mitch. "I can't seem to—" it ripped the tape off, taking his skin with it. "There, that's better. Now, what is it you wanted to say?"

Tears were streaming down Mitch's face, stinging his now raw mouth. "Please, let us go. We didn't mean to. We never meant to—" Tape covered his mouth once again.

"Tsk, tsk," it said, waving its finger at him. "I don't like liars."

Mitch shook his head. "Mm-mm, mm-mm." He was ignored.

It turned and walked toward Justin. "I'm sorry to have to do this." It took a deep breath, its large, yet, bony chest rising and falling like a wild animal's. "No, I'm really not." It laughed; or it appeared to laugh. The way it looked, it was hard to tell.

Oxford no longer had hair, and whatever he'd become was covered with tough, pale skin that was obviously scarred. It had no lips and not much of a nose, making him look more monster than human. Its eyes were soulless, black holes that neither Justin nor Mitch seemed able to look into. It wore no clothes, its skin so deformed that it didn't need any. It was hideous.

"It's late," it said, looking from Justin to Mitch. "Shall we get started?" They both shook their heads, crying hysterically. "Great!" He snatched them up like they were nothing more than sacks of laundry. "Let's get going, then. We have much to do and so little time to do it."

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