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Home Sweet Home

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"This is it, Michael. The fabled 'Road of Terror.'"

"Road of Terror," huh? What a terrible, clichéd name for a stupid backwoods cobble street. I stood there with my buddy Terrence, looking down this mysterious road. It obviously was a path less traveled, I chuckled to myself.

The pavement was cracking, and moss was shoving itself in the crevices and nooks. Deer were frolicking carelessly on either side; an adorable bunny passed right in front of us.

The sun was out and shining, not something I would have expected from a "haunted" road.

"You nervous, bro?" Terrence asked me, in his trademark surfer-dude dialect.

"Why should I be? Are the rabbits gonna gang-bang me?"

"I dunno, bro. This place is bad news."

Rumor has it that some kids a month back went biking on this road and never returned home. People claim to have seen their corpses laying around a dilapidated shed, stripped down to the bones and devoid of any blood. Then again, these people were the ones behind the school, passing joints around. Like Terrence.

"Well, I suppose it's my turn to die today."

"Don't say that, bro-ski. You never seen Final Destination? That kind of shit will get you killed, dude."

"Don't tell me you're scared of this little urban legend."

"Of course I'm not! I'm just looking out for you."

"I appreciate it, Terrence, but it's not like there's some anorexic man coming to get me."

With that, I decided to explore this rundown street, with or without Terrence. I had to find the truth.

"Alright, dude. Have it your way. I'm gonna be back at my house puffing up a doobie if you need me."

Terrence then turned and left me. Oh well, I thought, it wasn't the first time I had been left.

Walking down the road, the most dangerous I found was the uneven pavement. There were many times when I thought my ankle was going to flip shit and pop out through my skin.

Honestly, it was quite the picturesque place to walk alone. Birds were chirping merrily in the branches, trying to get some booty action with the other gender. Wolf pups were running through the underbrush, tackling each other playfully.

The crunch of twigs and the skittering of pebbles as I walked made for some interesting ambient noise. Kids these days and their outlandish tales of Hell on Earth; obviously no one took the time to observe the depths of this scenic forest.

I must have walked for hours before I heard a distant noise coming from behind me. It was approaching quickly, I could tell that much. What could it be? Who could it be? I turned around and saw a young boy riding towards me on a rugged bike. He had to be around twelve or thirteen, only a few years my junior.

As he came closer to me (never looking me in my eyes, strangely enough), I could see that his face was streaked with mud. His eyes were glazed over, and his mouth was closed, unsmiling. He rode on past me, as if I wasn't there. Suddenly, as if blindfolded from behind, my vision went dark, and I felt my knees hit the pavement.

"Daddy, wait for me!"

Pumping furiously, I was struggling to keep up with my father. The road beneath me flew by like a treadmill; the trees on either side were but a blur. As I trailed far behind my dad, I could barely make out fuzzy human-like figures standing by the edges of the road. One of them looked like my mother; she was down on her knees, her eyes wild and pleading.

"Michael, you got to let go! You're going too fast!"

At the time, I was too young to understand the meaning behind her words. Of course, I understood now, only after I came crashing to the pavement.

Light flooded my surroundings. As my pupils adjusted, I noticed that I was kneeling in a pool of blood. Must have fallen pretty hard to the ground, I speculated.

I rose to my feet and found scratches on my legs. Wiping the blood with my hands, I kept moving down the road, hoping to catch up to the young boy.

The hours were slipping through my hands as I continued down that abandoned road. I was alone, save for the wild animals and my own shadow. The solitude was getting to me. Once, I thought that my shadow had somehow grown smaller, conforming to the shape of a young boy.

The trees weren't so inviting anymore, as well. They cast gruesome silhouettes on the ground, and I swore that I could see faces in the leaves. No matter, I told myself. I must find that boy. I didn't even know why I was so fixated on that child; there was just something inside me that needed to know what happened to him, and where he was going.

A wooden house rose before my eyes in the distance. Candles illuminated the windows, lending an eerie, ominous feeling to the house. There was a fence gate guarding the pathway to the front doors; I opened it, trying to ignore the grating creaks and moans. Something about this house was off; maybe it was the fact that it was cleanly split down the middle into two "houses." I chose to enter the left house area.

Walking through the hallway, I noticed that it was exceptionally well-kept, for being out in the middle of nowhere. Paintings hung perfectly on the wall, not tilted or off-kilter in any way.

The tiles underfoot were so shiny I could have fixed my hair, using them as a mirror. The checkerboard pattern, however, finally unnerved me. I felt like all this neatness was meant to hide some dark secret.

I entered a bedroom and was greeted by a luxurious king-size bed made for two. The pillows were side by side, all fluffed up and welcoming, and the sheets were neatly tucked under the mattress. I saw a picture frame sitting on a dresser next to the bed. Picking it up, I noticed that the picture inside was torn into two equal pieces.

What I saw next chilled me to the core; the picture was of me, my mother, and my father. The tear split me and my mom away from my dad. It was too much for me to handle; I collapsed to the ground, and slipped into unconsciousness.

"Daddy, where are you going?"

"Son, you don't want to know."

Why was my dad walking away with those strange men? And why were there metal circles around his hands? I couldn't figure out what was going down, so I ran into my mother's arms, crying my eyes out.

She knelt down and snuggled my head into her shoulder as she cried with me. There were a lot of angry people standing around, chanting hurtful things about my dad.

"I hope you rot in Hell!"

"Stay in prison, you sick bastard!"

"Don't drop the soap, bitch!"

My mother hurried me into our car and buckled me into the back seat.

"Michael, honey, I want you to know that I love you, and that even though Daddy will be busy for a while, you will still get to see him some."

I had nothing to say to her. Instead I sat there, just looking at the people through my window. Some were shouting, some were crying; I had the awful feeling that my dad was somehow responsible for why they felt the way they did. I guess maybe that headless boy in our shed had something to do with it.

Coming to, my legs jolted, and my right knee hit the bed. A loud thud resonated through the house; hopefully there wasn't anyone still living here, I thought, with an underlying feeling that I was alone. Feeling that my tour here was effectively done, I opted to visit the other portion of this house. Walking out the front door, I made a left turn and headed through the other door.

This side of the house was dirty and all-around untidy. Clothing garments were strewn about the floor. Dog feces stank up the whole building, and I had to cover my nose to keep from fainting.

I noticed pictures of my father on the wall; in every one of them stood a younger me, but never my mother. It seems like she was once a part of the pictures, but there were only holes cutting out the places where she should have been. Suddenly, the door opened behind me, and I was greeted by my father.

"Michael, my boy, I've been waiting to see you for so long!"

My dad ran up and gave me a big bear hug. I remembered how he would do this every time he came home from work. I would even wait by the door for him, so that I could surprise him with a bear hug of my own. We were close to each other. Some might say we were too close. Then again, those people's children became our compost. So it all worked out in the end.

"Son, how have you been? How was your day?"

"Fine. I was just playing with my friends."

"Well, that explains why there's mud on your face."

Dad stuck his hand out and wiped the mud off my face. A little surprised, as I could have sworn I didn't get dirty, I looked into the nearest mirror. Even though it was badly cracked, I could make out the reflection of a twelve-year-old boy, standing by his middle-aged father's side.

"Son, you want to see what I brought home today?"

"Sure thing!"

I raced Dad out back to our shed. The fact that there were skeletons lining the outside was of no interest to me; I had seen them plenty of times before. It was time for someone new for me to play with.

Running inside, I was greeted by a boy hanging from the ceiling upside-down. His mouth was duct-taped shut, and his eyes were brimming with tears.

"Who is this, Daddy?"

"Doesn't matter, now does it? Before too long, there won't be enough left of him to figure out who he is."

I couldn't with Dad's logic. Dad was a pretty smart man; you couldn't be dumb to dupe the police. Dad handed me a blood-stained butcher's knife.

"Here, son. You get the honors this time."

I had been waiting for this day for a while now. With one swing of my arm, the knife lopped the boy's head clean off. His head rolled up against the wall, and came to rest shortly thereafter.

"Congrats, my boy! You're getting so strong now!"

I smiled. Dad truly loved me. He loved me more than my mother ever did. However, I never could bring myself to kill her. You got to have some moral boundaries, right?

The Next Day

"Where's Michael?"

"What happened to Michael?"

"Oh, God, did Michael go down the Road of Terror?"

News had gotten around the school about Michael's mysterious disappearance. Terrence was freaking out on the inside. How could I leave him alone like that, he kept asking his conscience. What if some monster got him? What if...what if his dad found him? No, Terrence thought.

That couldn't be the case. Michael's dad had been given a life sentence in prison. Maybe, though, maybe Michael went looking for his dad. After all, Terrence thought, Michael was just as fucked up as his father.

Michael never returned to reality. Sure, he went back to his home, to his father, but he would remain suspended in the limbo his dad created.

He would be free of any form of morality, of any sense of right and goodness. Michael had receded into his past again, except this time, he became part of his past for good.

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