Happy Place

Jada went home before her friends were killed.

The fact was, she was a virgin. She had a tragic past, preferred wearing sensible, muted clothes, and she was even a brunette. Once she worked out that she was asexual, and therefore disinterested in all the hooking up her friends were doing, she knew her fate was sealed. She’d seen enough movies to know what was waiting for girls like her.

So, she went home early. She didn’t study late alone in spooky libraries or take short cuts through graveyards or camp out in abandoned summer camps. And she certainly never took babysitting jobs, even when the pay was really good.

When the news came out that a masked maniac had sliced his way through the party at the Delta Sigma Omega sorority house, Jada was saddened and sickened, but not surprised. It had only been a matter of time. She watched the broadcast calmly, then excused herself and went upstairs to prepare.


She’d always been an odd child.

“You’re an odd child,” Aunty Susan told her.

Aunty Susan was kind, but had never wanted children, and Jada knew she felt obligation rather than love. That was OK. Jada didn’t feel love either. She had trouble with feelings in general, especially since her parents died. She knew she was different, that the deaths she’d witnessed had changed her. It didn’t trouble her much but certainly seemed to bother everyone else.

“Why can’t you be normal?” Aunty Susan had asked her. “Find a hobby. Everyone needs a place in this world, kiddo. You just need to work out what yours is. Then you’ll be happy. Don’t you want to be happy?”

Jada knew what her place was, and she already had a hobby. While other children wanted Harry Potter, superheroes, and various fluffy animal characters (many of whom were strangely gifted singers), Jada contented herself with Krueger, Voorhees and Pazuzu.

Aunty Susan didn’t pay enough attention to realise what Jada was watching, so, from the age of eight, Jada began the study of slashers. She’d been left her parents entire DVD collection after they passed. This “research”, as she called it, was why her closet was full of useful items she’d scavenged over the years. There were matches and hatchets and shears lifted from the garden shed. There was a sock full of broken glass and shards of crockery. Her pride and joy was the big old rusted bear trap she’d found once in the woods.

Aunty Susan found the collection once and took it all. That had gotten Jada sent to therapy and she’d had to start over again. Next time she’d hidden it better.

Jada surveyed her collection, cracked her knuckles, and got to work. She had to admit, she was a little nervous, but the excitement was stronger than the anxiety. Her time had finally come.


The killer struck at the very next college party, because of course he did. Jada waited patiently for two hours before she heard his heavy footsteps on the broken glass she’d spread across the path. He was line-backer big, with weathered skin and a mask: a cherub-like face with cracked paint and a little dried blood on it. In the past forty-eight hours, Jada had narrowed her list of suspects down to an art student that died in a fire ten years ago that very night, or an escaped mental patient who had killed three people and been arrested fourteen years ago that very night. The mask looked home-made, so she landed on the art student.

He wielded a rusted, notched sickle as his weapon, which didn’t make much sense to her. He could have stuck to the theme a little better, used a paintbrush or something. She was still musing over which art supplies would be best for murder when he stepped into the bear trap. Despite the rust, it snapped shut with a satisfying crunch.

Jada stepped out of her hiding place, moved up behind him, and lopped his head off with the machete before he could so much as grunt in pain. It was easier than she thought it’d be. But then, she didn’t give him the chance to pop back up or come back to life like they did in the movies. She was too smart for that.


She kept his mask. She kept all their masks. Every motel she stopped at, she got them all out and placed them around her room as reminders, as trophies. She had clown masks and hockey masks and sack-cloths with eyeholes cut in them. Sometimes she tried them on.

Her collection of equipment had grown too. Hunting knives, rope, fuel cans, bear mace, the list went on and on. More than once, she’d been randomly searched and had to answer some difficult questions. Well, the questions were easy, but the officers seemed to find the answers difficult.

As she bookmarked several articles about a recent spate of killings in the next State over, Jada sighed a contented sigh. She was right where she needed to be, at the dead centre of her place in the world. She cracked her knuckles and got to work.

Jim lives in Wales and collects ghosts. He loves to write scary stories, play Dungeons & Dragons, and watch terrible horror movies. He’s got stories with Crystal Lake, Eerie River, Quill & Crow, and many others.

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