The Devil at Play
The Devil in Miss Drake’s Class, 3
“Everyone loves the devil until they know him. Until they see him for what he really is.”
Nobody ever did, even as the bodies started to pile up.
But now, too late for it to matter, Audrey understands at last. The devil of Fairview has been courting her for days, and watching her for much longer than that. The murderer is her boyfriend—and he’s been killing on her behalf.
His name is Jack Maddox, but everyone calls him Mad Jack. He’s planning a party, where everyone is invited, especially Audrey’s tormentors—especially the Facebook Fifteen.
Audrey will have her revenge, whether she wants it or not.
Because, in Miss Drake’s class, the devil will have his due.
14+ due to violence and adult situations
As he cleaned the knife, she fought her way back to the surface. Eventually, she managed words. “I still don’t know which parts of this were real. Or if I’m completely crazy.”
“You’re not crazy, Audrey,” he reassured her. “You never were. No more than I was. And you’re not crazy now. Just the opposite, in fact.”
When she let the silence stretch again, making it meaningful, he continued.
“Your problem is the same as mine. You see things how they really are, and it makes you sad. Makes you angry. What happened here wasn’t a hallucination. What happened here was justice—for you.”
Polishing the blade, he glanced at her sidelong, expectantly.
He’s holding a knife, she said to herself. And spoke her mind anyway. “I’m nothing like you.”
He smiled. “You’re nicer than me, that’s for sure. No contest.”
“You’re… like the devil, Jack.” Please don’t kill me. You can read my thoughts, I know it now. You’ll know if I lie. I’m being honest with you. I want the truth.
“The devil?” Jack said, chuckling. “Not sure if I believe in ‘the devil.’ Never been to the other side, either way. But I know from pictures he has red skin, pointy tail, horns, carries a pitchfork… usually has pretty big eyebrows.”
Audrey put her hand over his wrists, stopped his polishing. “No, Jack,” she said. “The devil is far too smart to look like that. Everyone loves the devil, until they know him. Until they see him for what he really is.”
They regarded each other.
“Does this mean we can’t be friends?” he joked. “Bet you never thought you’d have first period English with the devil.”
“No,” she said. “I never did.”
“By your description,” Jack said, his smile fading. “The devil was in Miss Drake’s class. But it wasn’t me.”
“Jack,” Audrey said, giving up. “I want to go home. Can I go home, please?”
“Soon,” he said, tossing the knife in the sink, turning around, and leaning up against it. “You have to do something for me first. Don’t worry. I don’t think you’ll have a problem with it. I hope not, anyway.”
Audrey narrowed her eyes. She wasn’t afraid. After tonight, she didn’t know if she had any fear left in her. “What?” she asked.
“In order for you to understand the ‘what,’” he said. “You first have to understand who Ireally am. Completely—or at least as much as I understand, myself. Time is short, so pay attention.”
Audrey’s Only Interview
Character Interview with Audrey Bales
We’ve made it impossible for the press to reach her, at least for this week. For the length of her detainment here at Sentara Hospital, she’ll remain under constant surveillance, both by medical staff and by our own operatives, one of whom has taken on the role of a nurse. Naturally, every word Audrey speaks is recorded. We have to be sure she’ll continue to maintain that she has forgotten everything. The past two days, towards that end, have been encouraging. Visits from her parents and from her friend, Gale Hastings, have been productive. The night she arrived, however, was most alarming.
But then, she had just been through hell. The following is a transcript of the first words she spoke after initial sedation and treatment. The recording was made by our “nurse” shortly after Audrey regained consciousness.
© Hey, look who’s up. How are we feeling?
Audrey [looking herself over. She’s in a hospital gown. The injury to her left arm is freshly bandaged.]: Hurts. Tired. Where am I?
© Sentara Hospital. I’m Nurse Kristufek. Call me Kris, if you like. Can I get you anything?
Audrey: Shouldn’t I be at St. George’s? What about Dr. Littlefield? Dr. Compton?
© I’m sure you’ll see them soon. You’ve only been here five hours. Honestly, sweetheart, I’m amazed you’re awake.
Audrey: Where are the others? Did anyone find Maggie? Where’s my cat?
[“Her” cat belonged to Jack Maddox, but she was found with it in the bathroom, away from all the corpses.]
© The cat was taken to a shelter, dear. I’m not sure which one. I’m sure it’ll be—
Audrey: No! They’ll kill it. Let me call my parents.
© Soon, Audrey. They already know where you are. They’re in the building.
Audrey: Let me see them, then.
[Audrey studies her bandaged arm.]
Audrey: Oh my god.
© Yes, I’m afraid you’ve hurt yourself again, Audrey. You’ll be all right, though. After what you went through, it’s no wonder …
Audrey: No, that’s not right. I didn’t do this. Maggie did this. Where is she?
© [Firmly] I couldn’t say. It’s better for you not to think about any of that. It’s better if you just tried to forget it, Audrey. You shouldn’t do this to yourself. And it’s too soon, in any case.
Audrey: She … hurt me. And he … Jack—
© Audrey, I said—
Audrey: There were spiders. Black widows. Spiders, everywhere …
© Listen, Audrey. You know yourself very well. You know what happens when you’re put under stress. There were not any spiders. It was all in your mind.
Audrey: What did happen then? Why don’t you tell me?
[The look in her tired, shocked eyes is very telling. Shrewd. She does not believe I’m a nurse. Someone else may have to pick up this job tomorrow.]
© You were abducted, Audrey. Maggie and a few of her friends took you after the volleyball game. There was a “hazing party.” It got out of hand. You’re reacting to that. It’s very understandable. The important thing is, you’re safe now.
Audrey: Jack was there.
© Yes, he was. Your parents say you liked him very much. He was part of it, Audrey. I’m very sorry. You really should not be dealing with this right now. You should rest. I’ll call for—
Audrey: I don’t want any drugs. I want my parents, Dr. Littlefield. I want someone I know, okay? Someone I trust. Okay, Kris?
© Tomorrow morning, Audrey. I promise.
Audrey: Why do I have to wait, if they’re already here?
© [Sigh. I can’t help myself. She should be half-comatose with the meds we gave her.] For one thing, they’re being briefed by the police right now. Audrey, why are you doing this to yourself? I’m not your enemy.
Audrey: Not my friend, either. I don’t know what you are, but I do know my friends when I see them.
© What can I do, Audrey? Let me earn your trust before you decide you don’t want my company.
Audrey: Fine. Answer a god-damn question. Where’s Maggie?
© She’s gone, Audrey. You won’t be seeing her again. There was a fire …
Audrey [staring off, downward, as though through the bed to the floor]: No. You’re lying. There was no fire. There were spiders. There was Jack—and all the others. Nine-hundred ninety-nine spiders, and Jack …
© Audrey, you know and I know that’s not possible. You’ve been down this road before. Hospital staff only plans on keeping you a few days for observation, but if you keep talking like that …
Audrey [still looking away, as though seeking inner self for something]: I’m not supposed to remember any of it. That’s what he said. The last thing he said.
© Are you talking about Jack, honey? He’s missing. We don’t know where he is.
Audrey [looking up again]: I know where he is. You won’t find him. Tell the others they don’t need to worry about him.
© The others? Audrey …
Audrey: I can play this game. I get it. I want the hell out of here, as soon as possible.
© Audrey, get what?
Audrey: All of it. I understand now. I’ll play along, Nurse Kristufek. Don’t worry.
[Silence. I don’t know what to say.]
Audrey: You can trust me.
[I leave to get her painkillers and sedative. End of Interview]
Marcus Damanda lives in Woodbridge, Virginia with his cat, Shazam. At various times throughout his life, he played bass guitar for the garage heavy metal band Mother’s Day, wrote for The Dale City Messenger, and published editorials in The Potomac News and The Freelance Star. Currently, while not plotting his next foray into fictitious suburban mayhem, he spoils his nieces and nephews and teaches middle school English.
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