Grayson took a Loft youth class last week with called “Writing the Dark” with teaching artist Jeanne Bain.
Parents: this story was written in a Loft teen class. Content may not be appropriate for young readers. Please use your judgment.
The final act is about to begin. The spotlights focus center stage. There sits a coffin and saw adjacent to it. Standing beside the saw is Heinrich Hofmeister. A master magician, he stands about five feet, ten inches with an unnerving smile, facilitated by his mustache that is split down the center and divided into equal halves. His fiery gaze is cast across the audience, not a single person unseen. His hair is pitch black and nicely combed over his left temple. His teeth shine to perfection in the spotlight.
“And now for my final act!” blares Heinrich, “I will saw a man… in half!”
Among the audience sits a man named Garry. He is alone, has been for most of his life. He is a cheese maker at a local small business known as A World of Cheese. He is an older man, in his fifties. He stands around five feet, four inches. The skin on his face hangs wrinkled from age and his nose sticks out as his most prominent feature. He is a frugal man, only attending the show because of a free ticket from an anonymous source.
“Now I must ask for a volunteer,” giddily states Heinrich.
A number of hands are raised, but not Garry’s. Heinrich peers over the audience unimpressed. Then his eyes meet Garry’s and he lights up with unseen vigor.
“How about this fine gentleman?” asks Heinrich with a sly grin.
The people next to Garry urge him to go up. He looks again at Heinrich. His smile is so pleasant, so inviting. Garry nods at him and waves away the people next to him. He proceeds up the aisle and onto the stage. He faces Heinrich and an eerie aura is cast over him. Heinrich presents his hand and Garry hesitates before returning the gesture with a handshake. Garry looks into Heinrich’s eyes and has an odd feeling of regret hanging over him.
Heinrich gestures him to lie in the coffin. The old man hesitates for a moment only to comply a moment later. The coffin is quickly closed and latched over him. Heinrich turns and gives a polite yet morbid bow to the audience. They merely watch with eyes glued to the ghastly coffin.
Heinrich’s assistant walks onto the stage, standing six feet tall with flowing brown hair that curls around his ears. As he comes into the focus of the audience, his fair skin and cleanly shaven face are visible. He also sports a pair of orange transparent sunglasses. He brandishes the saw, tracing his fingers across the sharp blade. He lifts the saw above the coffin and plunges down, the serrated edges cutting clean through the firm wood.
The screams start immediately. The audience gasps but soon assumes that it must be part of the act. From the bottom of the coffin comes the dripping of dark crimson, collecting in a trough directly beneath. More screams and the crowd shrieks in horror at this terrible scene. Some patrons promptly leave the auditorium, sickened by this grotesque scene. The screams continue on for an extended period of time as the saw quickly works its way through the coffin.
Heinrich stands on the stage with his hands outstretched over his head, laughing quietly to himself. His face is filled with a wide smile as he paces around the stage in joy. At this point, the audience is more focused on Heinrich than the coffin. The screaming ceases and Heinrich immediately stops. He gazes upwards, closes his eyes, and inhales a deep breath. He holds it for a few seconds, keeping the audience on edge. Then with a loud sigh, he exhales his breath.
Before long his eyes are open and back to the audience, to whom he sends a malevolent smirk. He bows, and the audience waits in anticipation. He looks over and notices that his assistant has not lowered the coffin below the stage. He casts an ugly grimace towards him, unseen by the audience.
The platform is lowered and Heinrich’s face returns to the audience with a grin. They wait expectantly. Before long there is movement. Whispers stir among the audience. The platform rises slowly. A man stands on it, holding his palm against his face. The audience scrambles to identify the man. Taking his time, the man removes his palm from his face. Everyone in the room looks upon his face, skin drooping from it. And to the amazement of the audience, it is Garry’s face.
The audience goes ballistic. There is an assortment of claps, cheers, and whistles. Heinrich gives them a courteous bow and basks in the praise. After moments of courteous bows, Heinrich turns and faces the newly risen man, shaking his hand. Heinrich gives him a pat on the back and takes him backstage, waving to the audience.
Heinrich proceeds towards the corner of the back room. There lays a rug positioned oddly in the corner. Heinrich grasps the rug and pulls it aside, revealing a trap door with a lock. Heinrich retrieves a small key from his back pocket and puts it into the keyhole, unlocking it and pulling open the door. A grotesque and putrid odor emanates from it. Within lies a staircase that proceeds to what appears to be beneath the stage.
The old man with Heinrich proceeds to the center of the damp subterranean hideaway. He stands six feet tall, but Garry was only five feet, four inches. This man is far too tall. He grips the back of his head and gives a firm tug. A mask falls to the floor, no… a face, Garry’s face. In its place is a cleanly shaven face with fair skin. A head of flowing brown hair curls around the ears, and surrounds this face. Its owner pulls something from his pocket. It is a pair of orange transparent sunglasses, which he promptly sets over his eyes.
Heinrich’s assistant, Nick Adarian, smiles in accomplishment. He gazes over towards the other side of the room and spots the mutilated corpse of Garry, his face cleanly and precisely removed from his head. Another glance over and Nick notices that Heinrich has already gone to work on dismembering the body.
“Bring that saw over here, now!” yells Heinrich.
Nick picks up the bloody saw, bits of bone stuck to its serrated edges. He carries it towards Heinrich, but suddenly it slips from his hands and drops to the floor, shattering on impact.
Heinrich casts an unnerving glare at Nick.
“I’ll pay for it.” declares Nick.
“Never have, never will.” mockingly whimpers Heinrich.
Time passes in silence. Nick watches as Heinrich cuts at the corpse, giggling as he does it. He wants to break the ice, for the silence is unnerving. Surprising, Heinrich speaks up.
“I saw boxes upstairs. Your stuff was in them.” asserts Heinrich.
“Well… yeah. I moved upstairs.” responds Nick.
His response is only met with silence. Nick turns around and collapses into a chair against the wall. He dozes off while Heinrich remains looming over the corpse.
Nick suddenly awakens to a loud bang. He gets up and peers over at Heinrich. He is holding a large hammer and staring at Nick. The corpse is no longer there, only a clump of garbage bags. Nick promptly stands up and approaches Heinrich, who continues to stare at him. Nick knows what this means. He wants another victim already. Nick looks away for a moment and spots a polished humerus on the ground next to Heinrich, Garry’s humerus. And then Nick remembers Heinrich’s favorite part of the dissection. Heinrich finds it humorous to keep a humerus from each of his victims, sort of like a trophy. Nick then gazes back at Heinrich, his stare ongoing. Nick has already located the next victim, according to Heinrich’s unusually specific instructions.
“Yes. Her number is (952) 555-2981. And if a man answers, her husband’s name is Wayne.” sternly announces Nick.
“Good. Send her a free ticket in the mail, as always. I want this to transpire a few months out.” lectures Heinrich.
“In the summer?” asks Nick in an interrogative tone.
“Yes.” Promptly responds Heinrich.
“Isn’t this a little too high profile? The show is packed in the summer, and she has a husband!” angrily mutters Nick.
Don’t question my methods! This is how I want it and this is how it’s going to be! It’s not about playing it safe, it’s about sending a message. It’s about time we made a name for ourselves.” spouts Heinrich.
Nick merely nods and proceeds towards the stairs.
“Dispose of the trash, will you?” politely asks Heinrich.
Nick nods a second time and grabs the garbage bags, walking up the stairs and closing the door behind him.