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The Face

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The Face

The Mask that started it all

In the month of July, 1998, a string of murders hit the town of Goshen in Northern Indiana. The police investigated for three years, but never found the perpetrator.

No more similar murders happened, so the whole incident was eventually swept under the rug. Few people are willing to talk about it with each other, let alone with complete strangers.

Only a select few know what actually happened that month. I am one of those unfortunate few, and I’m willing to talk.

Cold July

The face

The whole incident started in December 1997. A group of my friends and I had started a club that met after school. Most of them went to Concord High School, and I was one of the only members that were homeschooled. As a result, I was often the guy held responsible for preparing the clubhouse for their arrival.

The clubhouse wasn’t much; just an old shed in Harvey’s back field. It was the optimal location for our meetings, however, thanks to the fact that it was almost the same distance between all of our homes and the shed. Nobody was using it other than us. The shed was empty when we found it, and Harvey didn’t even know it was there until we asked him if we could use it for our meetings. “Just don’t knock it down,” was his only condition. We never did knock it down. Almost set it on fire once, but we never knocked it down.

Right away we found an old table and some lawn chairs. Jimmy hitched a wagon to his ATV and drove them out there for us, and we spent a whole afternoon making sure everything was perfect. We had everything set up and ready when Mac got the idea of “testing” the chairs. Mac is a rather heavyset guy, so much so that we liked to call him “Big-Mac.”

He sat down hard in two of those chairs without the slightest hint of trouble. This got him so confident that he practically jumped onto the third chair. CRACK! The two rear legs fell through the floor, and so did Mac. After he got the fifteen stitches out of his head, we continuously joked about the Mac-shaped hole that’s still in the clubhouse floor.

We never did name our club. Every name we came up with stunk like a mountain of limburger. We took to calling ourselves, “the guys,” and would meet every day after school. Kevin took to bringing a pair of video cameras that he had gotten from his dad (I still think he stole them), and we would occasionally record our meetings. Let me tell you, by the end of the day we usually had one part good footage against ten parts crap. The best moments we got on tape were the ones where we would bring guests to the clubhouse and allow them to choose the subject to discuss that day. This became a weekly endeavor, and our best moment we have on tape is when we interviewed Lisa, Matt’s crush. Soon, everyone at school was clamoring for an interview with “the guys.”

I think Mac was the first to suggest making a movie with our two precious cameras. “It’s better than sitting here every afternoon doing nothing,” he insisted. “We have almost everyone in the school willing to participate.” Everyone liked the idea, but then we all had a new problem. What kind of movie could we make? We obviously didn’t have a budget that allowed for impressive special effects and such.

Mac came through once again when he brought us a videotape of Scream and let us watch it. That’s when we decided that a horror/slasher movie was not only probable for us, but was also within our budget. The trick, Matt decided, was making it something people would watch. We put him in charge of scriptwriting as a result.

Jimmy and Colin volunteered to search for our actors. It wasn’t hard, considering nearly everyone in school knew about our filmmaking and wanted to be a part. Kevin ended up working on costumes (not that we needed any) and special effects. And me? I somehow ended up with no job at all, which I still find odd.

Everyone pulled together and did their part, and eventually we actually had something reasonable going. Jimmy and Colin had the most success, by far, since they had half the school lining up to audition. And we only had bits of script to work with at any given time, since Matt insisted on making the script absolutely perfect. He would continuously write, erase and rewrite chunks of the script.

I think it was Kevin who first came up with The Face. He brought in this weird cardboard mask one day and wore it around the clubhouse. It really wasn’t much, just a blank white face with a toothy, skull-like smile and square eyeholes, but the whole effect was a bit…eerie. Mac found this out the hard way when he fell asleep in a chair outside. Kevin found this hunting knife that he borrowed from his uncle, and he put on the mask and stood over Mac with the knife in hand. I swear, when Mac woke up he jumped clear up to the roof of the clubhouse!

Matt got the mask somehow, and he instantly decided that it had to go in the movie. Furthermore, he said, the main villain needed to wear it. We spent half an hour working on a name for our killer, but had minimal success. Mac spent the whole conversation simply staring at the mask in silence.

Finally, he suggested calling it “The Face.” We were all skeptical at first, but after repeating it a couple of times Matt grew to like the name. He gave the mask back to Kevin, demanding that he come up with the rest of the costume.

Mac was handed the job of making fake blood for our movie. I still don’t know how he did it, but he came up with a bucketful of this awful sticky concoction. Problem was, it was the wrong color. Jimmy discovered this when Mac ran up to him one morning while lugging the ‘blood bucket’ along with him. I never did figure out how it happened, but somehow the blood ended up outside the bucket. All I know is that I turned a corner and found Jimmy covered in a sticky, blue liquid.


Jimmy stood there for a moment, seeming unsure of what to do. Finally, he took the bucket from Mac and looked inside. “Make it red,” he said, and then he walked off to wash himself.

Despite our numerous volunteers who wanted to be part of our movie, our biggest problem involved casting. More specifically, Jimmy and Colin had trouble casting one specific role. They couldn’t find anyone to play The Face.

We went through at least two dozen auditions for the role of our killer. Jimmy insisted on having a, “real, live Face that would make anyone who saw him have nightmares for weeks.” He allowed dozens of people to don the Face mask and strut around on our makeshift stage. Nobody could impress him. Now that I think back, I’m guessing the problem was that they all tried to imitate other horror movie villains, and they all did it horribly.

Perhaps out of frustration, Jimmy had me put on the mask and have a go at auditioning. I wasn’t really sure what to do, so I decided to have some fun. Kevin’s knife was sitting on a nearby table, so I picked it up, mustered my best growly, insane voice and began threatening to slit Colin’s throat.

After a minute I lifted the mask to look. Colin was leaning back in his chair, gripping the armrests with white knuckles. Jimmy was staring at us both, wide-eyed and mouth open so wide a camel could have crawled inside. “I just about wet myself,” he admitted later. “I realized that I was looking at The Face.”

I couldn’t believe my luck. One minute I was the spare tire of the whole operation, unable to help in any way. Now I had landed the role of The Face, the movie’s main character. I was The Face. And I loved it.

In late June, when school was no longer an obstacle, we started filming our movie. Matt had the general story, but he was still working on the actual script. There were several occasions where we were preparing to film a scene, and here Matt would come running onto the scene with a freshly-written section of script in hand.

Our ‘sets’ were simply locations that people allowed us to borrow for the duration that we needed them, and sometimes even our own houses. We often spent more time getting permission to use a location than we did actually filming there. Our conditions were almost always the same: we had to clean up after ourselves, and we weren’t allowed to destroy any property that didn’t belong to us.

It was two days after we started filming before I was finally allowed to reveal The Face in full costume. Besides the mask, I wore my usual jeans and t-shirt, but Kevin had also made a ratty, green cape out of a blanket for me to use. My costume didn’t seem like much, but it sure impressed the rest of our cast, especially when I picked up my hunting knife prop that I would use during filming.

Kevin later told me that it wasn’t the costume that completed The Face. It was my acting. “The way he moved was very malicious and purposeful,” he told Matt. “He shuffled around like a crab, bent over like an old man and yet he somehow made the effect work.”

That I did, and I enjoyed every minute of it. So much so that when it came time to stop for the day I asked Kevin if I could take the costume home. “Just so I can practice some more,” I assured him. He agreed, and so I took the costume from him and brought it home with me. I took to doing that every night after filming, sometimes playing the role of The Face long into the night.

The trouble started on July fourth. Our crew took a break from filming so all our actors could enjoy the holiday. We, on the other hand, were scouting for more locations.

Mac got the idea of using Mrs. Tenby’s backyard for filming. “It’s perfect,” he told us. “Her house is like a castle, and that garden in her backyard is like a maze. Don’t you think that would be perfect for a chase scene?”

“Maybe,” Jimmy said, “But I doubt Mrs. Tenby would agree.”

Mrs. Tenby had a reputation for absolutely despising children and teens alike. People often joked that she kept a list of parent’s phone numbers so she could call and complain about any young people who had the misfortune of crossing her.

Unfortunately, we had a particularly bad track record with Mrs. Tenby. It accumulated when Matt accidentally threw a baseball through one of her windows, and she tried to have him arrested. Matt didn’t get arrested, but he did have to mow lawns all summer to pay for the damaged window.

“She’s almost never outside,” Matt declared. “I bet you ten dollars we could get away with filming there anyway.”

Jimmy strongly disagreed, but Matt managed to convince everyone else that it could be done, even going so far as to write out the script for that scene. “We can just do it quietly,” he insisted. “She’ll never know.”

“Unless she watches our movie,” I joked.

The very next day, we snuck into Mrs. Tenby’s massive garden and began filming. We managed to get halfway through the scene without a problem, and all of us were hopeful that maybe Matt was right and Mrs. Tenby would never know.

Unfortunately, that’s when Mrs. Tenby stepped out her back door and threatened us all with a shotgun. I’ll tell you right now, we were all out of there faster than a bunch of cheetahs on steroids.

“I suggest we don’t do that again,” Jimmy said when we regrouped back at the clubhouse. “Never again.”

“I agree with Jimmy,” Colin said. “That was a bad idea.”

“Maybe we should have had The Face kill Mrs. Tenby while we were there,” Kevin joked.

“That might have made things easier,” Matt said.

“That’s not funny,” Jimmy insisted. “We need to stay away from there. We can find other locations to film.”

That we did. We made plans to finish our chase scene tomorrow in the woods behind Mac’s house. That done, Jimmy decided it was best to quit for the day, and we all went our separate ways. As usual, I grabbed my costume and the knife and brought them back home with me.

The next day I showed up at the clubhouse for filming. When I got there, almost everyone was getting ready for the day. Notably missing from the group was Kevin, who I assumed was running late. I started helping load items we needed into Jimmy’s wagon, which was already hooked to his ATV.

Kevin arrived ten minutes late, his face as white as a tub of cottage cheese. “I take back what I said about Mrs. Tenby,” he told me.

“Why?” Jimmy asked. “Did she say we could use her garden?”

“No,” Kevin said. “She got murdered. Somebody knifed her to death last night.”

Deathbringer

Kevin seemed to be the only person severely affected by Mrs. Tenby’s death. We were all shocked by her murder, but I’m ashamed to admit that none of us had a reason to miss her terribly. Despite this, we took the day off from filming to regroup.

The next day we filmed the chase through the woods. Our actor, Megan, was thrilled to be a part of our movie. And I was thrilled that I’d get to make my first kill as The Face.

Filming went as planned. Megan ran, I chased her, cameras rolled and we made progress. Eventually, we came to the point where I was to catch Megan and slit her throat. Not really, of course. I would hold the knife up to her neck, then the camera would cut away and Mac would slap some of his infamous fake blood (now the right color) on her throat. Everything went exactly as we’d planned it, and the end result was absolutely fabulous.

“You need to be careful with that knife,” Megan told me when we were finished. “I think you actually cut me.”

“Sorry,” I replied as she walked off to clean herself up. I hadn’t meant to hurt her, I had just gotten a bit overexcited. I loved this job!

Megan didn’t return to film with us the next day. Jimmy walked four laps around the new location asking where she was, what she was doing and why she wasn’t there with us. Nobody had any idea.

It wasn’t until two days later that we found out where she was. Mac brought a copy of the newspaper to the clubhouse and frantically pointed out the front page.

There was Megan’s picture, prominently displayed under the headline, Teen found murdered after home invasion.

“What?!” Jimmy said when he saw the article. “Why Megan? Aw, man, I should have called her or something!”

“That’s not the scary part,” Mac said, flipping the page. “This is."

Apparently, Megan’s killer had been caught on tape by a home security system. The next page featured a clear picture of her killer.

“No way,” I said. “That’s not possible!” But the more I looked at the photo, the more I began to realize I was seeing the truth. Megan’s killer was wearing The Face costume.

Filming progress immediately ground to a halt. Two people who had been involved with the project had been murdered, one by our killer character. Now nobody wanted anything to do with us.

Naturally, Jimmy was distraught by these circumstances. “We can’t just give up!” he kept insisting. “We have to do something.”

I couldn’t sleep at all knowing that a real killer had stolen my costume for use in a murder. I couldn’t look at The Face costume the same way, and eventually I had to get it out of the house. Kevin took it back, and eventually he took to leaving it at the clubhouse.

Eventually, Jimmy decided that if none of our actors wanted to work for us, we would just have to do the whole thing ourselves. “We can do it,” he insisted. “We’ll just have to improvise.” I didn’t see how we could, considering half of us were running cameras during filming, but I really wanted to finish this film. It was like an obsession for me; I loved playing as The Face, and I wanted everyone to see him in our finished movie.

Mac was apparently our next person in line to be killed. He was a good candidate since his parents were away for the weekend, so we were allowed to do whatever we wanted at his house.

Problem was he couldn’t really run from me, considering his heavy frame, so we decided that he wouldn’t see The Face coming at all. Matt poured his heart and soul into finding a way to make that work, and we finally found it.

When we started the cameras, he was sitting alone in his room playing Doom. We had one camera next to his computer pointing at him and the window behind him, the other pointing at the computer screen and focusing on what he was doing.

On Jimmy’s signal, I eased open Mac’s bedroom window and crawled inside like a spider. Mac, naturally, was too focused on his game to see what I was doing. Slowly I snuck up behind him, drawing my prop knife when I got close enough. On Jimmy’s next signal I pounced.

The timing couldn’t have been more perfect. Onscreen, Mac got clobbered by an enemy. In real life, I drew my knife across Mac’s throat. We paused the camera, painted Mac up with his fake blood, then finished filming by panning across our gory mess we had made.

It took us an hour to clean up all the blood.

It took us all day the next day before we found Mac lying on his bedroom floor in a puddle of real blood. A game-over screen was still displayed on his computer monitor.

Now even the guys didn’t want to continue filming. Jimmy and I were the only people who wanted to finish the movie, but we couldn’t do so because nobody would help. The clubhouse remained empty for weeks, The Face costume still inside because everyone was afraid to touch it.

July sixteenth I was sitting in my room brooding about the situation. I was itching to finish the movie, but I knew we couldn’t. I was upset about Mac’s untimely death, but at the same time I was annoyed because it prevented me from finishing my role as The Face. I wanted that role, but I was terrified to play it because apparently a real killer was playing the same role!

Anyway, I was sitting there when I heard my door open and shut behind me. I figured it was my dad checking on me, and I didn’t give it much thought until I heard a gravelly voice right next to my ear.

“You want to play?”

I turned toward the voice only to see The Face mask staring me down.

I was up and out of there like I had sat on a hornet. It was The Face! The real one! He was wearing my costume and holding my prop knife. And he was between me and the door.

I did the only sensible thing I could think of and dove out the window. Thankfully, it was open at the time and I landed safely out on our back lawn. I looked back to see if The Face was following me, and I was alarmed to see that he was already climbing out behind me. I got up and ran toward our neighbor’s house as fast as my legs could carry me.

This only seemed to delight The Face, who cackled at me as I fled. “Run run run!” he called after me. “You can’t hide from me!”

“The heck I will,” I muttered as I dove into our neighbor’s shrubs.

I waited there for as long as I dared, hoping that The Face hadn’t seen where I hid. I couldn’t see him, and I couldn’t hear him. I had no way to tell if he was looking for me or not, and I wasn’t about to leave my hiding spot to find out. My heart was racing, I was hyperventilating, and I was sure he could hear me breathing.

I don’t know how long I stayed that way, but eventually I heard a whisper next to my ear.

“What’s the matter? You don’t like me anymore?”

He had been right behind me the whole time!

I flew out of that bush like a sparrow and ran back to my house. Behind me I could hear The Face’s awful cackle. “Go ahead!” he called. “I’ll just wait for you to come back to me!”

Like I was going to do that!

I got in the house and immediately locked all the doors. My parents simply stared at me the whole time as if I was crazy. Hah! I wasn’t going to waste time explaining to them, I was going to survive!

My efforts were in vain, though. The killer never made a reappearance that night. In fact, he didn’t appear for three more days.

The End

July Nineteenth found us with an awful rainstorm hovering over us all day. I spent the whole day reading a book and trying to forget the incident with The Face.

Around seven in the evening, I got a call from Jimmy. “Meet me at the clubhouse,” he insisted. “I’ve got something to show you.” I agreed heartily and, despite the fact that it was raining, set out for our old hangout.

When I got there, Jimmy had several newspaper clippings lined up on the table. Each clipping was an account of one of the recent murders.

“Oh, no,” I said when I saw them. “Jimmy, I really don’t want to deal with this right now.”

Jimmy was dripping wet, but he didn’t seem to care about it. “I think I know who this killer is,” he said. “I put a padlock on the door last time the costume got stolen, yet the killer got in here and got it anyway, right?”

I had told him about my experience with The Face. “Apparently,” I said. I looked over at the table and noticed the costume sitting on the corner. The knife next to it had dried blood on the handle.

"Obviously, then, it was someone who can get in here,” Jimmy continued. “And that means it was someone with a key.”

I picked up the mask and examined it. Out of curiosity I put it on. “You think it was one of us?”

“The only people with key to the clubhouse are you, me and Kevin,” Jimmy said, watching me. “That means that since it’s not me, and it’s not you, then…” Jimmy gasped as a horrible idea seemed to come to him. “Kevin! It makes sense! He made the costume, he could easily make a replica!”

“What I saw wasn’t a replica,” I said, tying the cape around my neck. “What I saw was the real thing.”

“So sure of yourself, are you?”

That gravelly voice was unmistakable. I turned around and saw The Face standing right behind Jimmy. “Impossible!” I said.

"That’s what you think,” The Face said. That permanent, toothy smile on his mask was unnerving at the very least. “But you of all people should know that’s not true.”

Jimmy seemed oblivious to the killer standing a few feet behind him. He was staring at me with wide eyes. “Um… Gavin, are you ok?”

“Jimmy,” I caution, “he’s behind you. The Face is right behind you.”

“Am I?” The Face’s cackle fouled the air in the clubhouse. “Am I really?”

Jimmy’s eyes got even wider. “No, Gavin, you don’t understand…” “Yeah, Gavin, you don’t understand,” The Face said, mocking Jimmy’s tone. “Why don’t you tell him, Jimmy?”

“Gavin, you’re talking to yourself,” Jimmy whispered.

“Jimmy, get away from him,” I pleaded, taking a step closer.

“Yeah, Jimmy,” The Face said. “Get away…if you can.”

Jimmy started shaking like a hog at Christmas time. He turned and bolted straight for the door… and straight toward The Face.

“No!” The Face and I screamed at the same time. I grabbed the knife from the table and lunged at The Face. He pulled out his knife and lunged at Jimmy.

When my vision cleared, I was still holding the knife. It was buried deep in Jimmy’s neck. Horrified, I let go and backed away. Jimmy slumped to the floor, already dead.

“Now do you get it?”

The Face’s growling voice was impossible to miss, but to my alarm I discovered myself repeating the words after him. In fact, I was the only one speaking. I frantically looked around, but I was the only one in the shed.

“Gavin, you’re talking to yourself…”

Jimmy’s words now made perfect sense. I had loved the role of The Face so much that I had brought him to life in my mind. I was the killer.

Aftermath

I advise you now to be ever careful about the thoughts you let venture into your mind.

I was not cautious enough.

I let go, I learned to love evil, and it led me to commit evil.

Now I must forever remember the atrocities I was responsible for.

The Face is dead. I killed him. He will never plague this world ever again.

…I hope.

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