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The Thirteenth Strike

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Lisa stared into Derek’s gleaming eyes. She clasped his hands as they stood at the altar. As the priest went through his normal procedure, memories of the last few months came rushing back. They had met at the Sea-Tac airport in Seattle that spring. He was there on business, a construction job in Spokane. She was there to pick up a friend who had been vacationing in Colorado. She sat waiting at a table in the Starbucks, passing time on her iPhone.

“What’s a beautiful woman like you doing at Starbucks without a man or a drink?” She looked up into the startlingly blue eyes of a rugged man, wearing a Carhart jacket and jeans. She was instantly attracted to him. He was the kind of rugged that just oozed manliness, but kindness radiated from him. He sat down and their relationship began. The following months had been perfect, a wonderful rush of what life was supposed to be. On their six month anniversary, he proposed, right back where at the table where it had all started.

It almost didn’t seem real for her dream to be finally coming true. At 27, she was beginning to think she would never find the one. And yet, here they stood, him dressed in his tux and her in a flowing white dress, just as she had envisioned it as a little girl. Derek gave her a wink, and she giggled, which made the audience “awww” at the cute couple.

“It’s time for the vows.”

The priest snapped Lisa’s attention back to the moment at hand. She finished her vow with the repeating of the usual “’Til death do us part.”

The vows went the same for Derek. As the priest reached the end, Derek stopped him. “Mr. Preacher,” he said in his north Georgia accent, “I don’t feel like death is long enough to end our love. I’m proposing a longer promise. Lisa, I will love you ‘til the clock strikes thirteen.”

The crowd really loved that line. Lisa appeared to as well, as a tear ran down her cheek to the biggest smile she’d ever worn.

The wedding ended with the ceremonious kissing of the bride and the couple drove off to their honeymoon, cans clinging behind them and a “Just hitched” chalked on their back window. It was the perfect cliché wedding, except Derek had taken one extra step to make it even more special.

Now they were headed to his favorite vacation spot- the smoky mountains. He had rented a huge chalet between Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, nestled high in the mountains. It was the ultimate getaway. Lisa was taken back at how nice the place was. It had a hot tub, a pool (which they couldn’t use of course), a game room, a state-of the art kitchen, and multiple bedrooms they didn’t even need. The centerpiece of the place, though, was the living room. The ceiling stretched the full three stories of the chalet, with the whole outer wall covered with windows, giving way to a spectacular view of the fall mountainside and the Gatlinburg strip in the distance. On a corner of the room was a massive fireplace, and on top of it, or rather built around it, was a tremendous grandfather clock, pendulum swinging to an unheard rhythm. As they began unpacking, the clock struck eight. The clock let out a resounding bonggg-g-g-g. It was followed by seven identical to it.

Lisa’s mind briefly flicked to Derek’s comment, but she shrugged it off. It was time for the fun to begin.

They had stopped by the Love Stuff shop in Gatlinburg and had each bought items for the night. Neither knew what the other had bought, it was to be a surprise. Lisa went first. She slipped into the bathroom and changed into her lingerie.

“Like it, baby?”

Derek grinned, “Its real sexy baby.” With that, the night’s festivities began, taking no time for the lingerie to hit the floor.

Midnight came quickly on the lovers. The old clock let out twelve solid strokes as the two lay in bed.

"Uh-oh, baby," Lisa said sarcastically. "That was tweleve, one more and our marriage will end."

"Don't be silly," Derek responded. "It won't end. You know why?"


"Cause after a clock strikes twelve..." He then sang the end of Brian McKnight's chorus to Back at One before going into the beginning of the song and kissing her neck.

Lisa laughed and playfully hit him. How had she stumbled on this man?

Forty-seven minutes later, Derek remembered the items he had bought earlier that day. "Hold on baby, I've got to go get my surprise for you."

"Okay," Lisa smiled. "Don't be long."

Twelve minutes passed before Lisa became concerned. She called out, "Derek?"

No answer.

She wallked into the living room. "Derek?"

No answer.

As she stepped into the kitchen, the clock strung one. Bonggg-g-g-g. She nearly jumped out of her skin.

Dadgum clock she thought to herself as she muttered a curse under her breath.


The second stroke startled her nearly as much as the first. Did I doze off?


There's no way


"Derek?!" Lisa was becoming frantic. He wasn't in the bathroom.


"Derek?!?" The stupid clock must be broken




He wasn't in the upstairs bedroom.


Or the upstairs bathroom.


"Derek Robertson! When I find you, I'm going to KILL you!"


How many was that? Nine? Ten? I'm going to go with nine.


Not in the game room.


She stepped outside and and into the small storage room outside.


Oh God, please let that only be twelve.

The strokes stopped.

Thank you God. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU.

The door shut and she was plunged into total darkness. "DEREK!!!!" Lisa screamed, gripped by fright. Something inside the storage room moved. Lisa stumbled backwards against the nearest wall. She felt in the dark and managed to grab a rake.

The light came on. Lisa screamed.

There stood Derek, wearing a sadistic form of lingerie, complete with fetish whip.

"Good God, Derek! That's not funny! You scared the crap out of me. I have to admit, the clock strokes were a nice touch though. You really had me going. You're lucky I didn't swing this rake at you." She let the rake fall back against the wall.

Derek was silent.

"Derek? Honey?"

He pulled a knife from behind his back.


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