“You still haven’t told me where we are going yet.”

The panic in her voice was rising, but Ty could hear that she was still trying to keep things together. Her life always moved from success to success: prom queen, office manager, best looking and most accomplished at the ten-year reunion. Now, thanks to Ty, cracks appeared in the put-together facade.

“We are going somewhere special. You always say I never surprise you anymore. Well, now I’m surprising you.”

“I better like this surprise,” Lucy said with a small laugh. The fraying nerves could still be heard. In the deepest part of her mind, Lucy suspected that the change in her boyfriend’s demeanor had something to do with Rick, the “other man.”

To Lucy, Ty represented stability and continued excellence. Ty had inherited a hardware store from his parents. Thanks to his marketing degree, Ty had turned the locally famous store into a statewide sensation. The money was far from great, but it was improving. There was a lot to like about Ty—tall, ruggedly handsome, and allergic to bad decisions. However, if Lucy had one complaint, it was that Ty was too cautious and always so deliberate in his decision making. Even when it came to making love, Ty brought schedules and timetables into the equation.

Rick was the opposite.

Lucy had known Rick since middle school. Rick had belonged to the “dirty kids,” a set of poor, trailer-dwelling white trash boys with limited futures. Rick conformed to the stereotype by dropping out and graduating to become a drug dealer who worked on the side as a day laborer. Rick was nowhere near as good looking as Ty, and Lucy never failed to notice his horrendous body odor. Still, Rick oozed danger. Rick also proved willing to do anything that Lucy wanted, no matter how wild or kinky. The pair used an Internet dating site to schedule hook-ups. Before long, Lucy spent her lunch breaks and the hour after work with Rick at his trailer. The logical part of her brain knew that it was only a matter of time before she would be caught. The less logical, more animalistic part was too captivated by the thrill to bother with self-protection.

Ty knew the score long before Lucy even had suspicions. His slow, methodical nature kept his knowledge hidden and subsumed under a cover of normalcy. Lucy did not even start to look at Ty differently until they were driving north, and by that point, it was too late.

“I hope you brought some comfortable clothes.”


“Should I let the secret out of the bag?” Ty asked with a lilt of mockery.

“Too many secrets for one night, babe.”

“Just hold on tight. Our exit is the next one, and the place is not far from there.”

“You know how I feel about the woods. I haven’t seen civilization in over an hour.”

“You need to expand your horizons.”

Ty followed the green sign to the exit. The car’s headlights made a sweep of the town. A wooden sign painted white and blue read “Cammon.” Lucy had never heard of the place before.

“Are we even in America anymore,” she said with an increasingly nervous chuckle.

“We haven’t even left the state yet. You need to relax,” Ty said with a sharp gleam in his right eye.

The car took the town’s main thoroughfare for a mile, then swung right and began following a serpentine route that was abutted on both sides by hills. Along the way, Ty informed Lucy that Cammon was a ski town, but because it was off-season, the place was empty.

“Practically empty, that is. Where we’re going there is at least one person besides us.”

“I do not like the sound of that, babe. I feel like I’m in the middle of a horror movie.”

Ty laughed, but did not say anything to calm Lucy’s fears.

Ty parked the car and killed the engine in an empty parking lot. Another sign. This one read “Green River Resorts.” The name jogged Lucy’s memory a little. She recalled Ty saying something about his late father owning a year-round condo at some place called Green River. Lucy relaxed a little, but the internal tension was still like electricity coursing through her muscles.

“Go ahead and check us in, sweetheart. I have a few bags. Just tell Lionel at the front desk that I’m here. He’ll know what to do.”

“Bags? I did not pack anything.”

“I know. Remember: it’s a surprise.”

Lucy entered the desolate ski resort. To the left was a fake fireplace with plastic logs. The couch across from it was covered in dust and cobwebs. To the right was a kidney-shaped front desk. Instead of a computer, the desk had a paper sign-in sheet that was empty. The man at the desk, whom Lucy knew to be Lionel, was surrounded on all sides by travel brochures that looked at least 30 years old.

“Can I help you?” Lionel said in a distinct North Country accent.

“I’m here with my boyfriend Ty.”

“Say no more. I knew Ty’s daddy well, plus his granddaddy was like my second father.” The jovial Lionel smiled widely at Lucy and handed her three keys on a single ring.

“The room is on the third floor. 317. You can’t miss it. It’s the only the only one still decorated.” With that, Lionel chuckled, stood up, and went back into the bowels of the hotel. Lucy lost him in seconds, and after looking outside for Ty, she could not find him either. The panic was returning to her body, thus making her shake and jump a little with each footfall.

Lucy looked at the elevator and decided to take the stairs. They were as dark as the rest of the hotel. They smelled like mold, too. On the third floor, Lucy could see across the hallway that the door to 317 was covered in Christmas decorations. As she got closer, she shivered at the large Santa with the peeling face. It looked as if Saint Nicholas had come down with leprosy.

“Go ahead and open it,” Ty said from behind her.

Lucy jumped. She punched Ty in the shoulder and told him to never scare her again.

“I can’t promise that,” he said.

To Lucy’s surprise, the room proved to be clean and somewhat modern. It had a large bar and kitchen, plus a bathroom with a heat lamp, two beds, and large television in the middle of a well-stocked bookcase. What she liked most of all was the liquor cabinet, which had rows of wine, whisky, and gin. Lucy almost made a joke, but cut herself off after she remembered that Ty’s father had passed away due to alcoholism.

“Help yourself to a glass of something. I’ve got to unpack,” Ty said. He moved into one of the bedrooms and shut the door. As for Lucy, she grabbed a wine bottle by the neck, looked at the label and the date, and found that she liked both. She poured a large glass and settled in on the couch. She turned on the TV. Rather than a show or commercial, the TV came alive to a black and blank screen. Without thinking, Lucy pressed the “Play” button. A series of white words in foreign language scrolled up from the bottom of the screen. There was no music, so when the first scene appeared, it frightened Lucy so bad that she jumped up off the couch.

She calmed down and looked closer. The mass of writhing bodies were all nude. It was an orgy. It was a foreign porno. Apparently Ty’s dad, the beloved owner of the local hardware store, would come all the way out to the sticks in order to watch Eastern European smut. Lucy hit “stop” and a few other buttons. The movie ended and returned to normal programming. The TV show was about ghost hunters. Sex and death, Lucy thought.

“I’m almost finished. I hope you are comfortable,” Ty said from the other room. Lucy recognized the voice as Ty’s bedroom drawl. He was trying to be sexy. Lucy used her own bedroom voice to coo right back at him. She took a big swallow of the wine and began undressing. By the time that Ty opened the bedroom door, Lucy stood below the television fully naked.

Ty saw her and barked, “Turn around!” Lucy did as she was told, but did not like the sharp edge in Ty’s voice. It frankly killed the vibe a little.

“Close your eyes,” Ty said. Lucy did so.

“I’m going to kill the lights for a second. Don’t peek, or you will ruin all the fun.”

“Okay, mystery man.”

Lucy listened to Ty grunt and struggle. It was more animalistic than sexual. She had no idea what he was doing, and when she heard the thud on the floor, she really began to worry. Ty must have noticed this, for, in the darkness, he began kissing Lucy in her sweet spots. She felt his soft kisses on her neck and shoulders. Through his clothes, Lucy could tell that Ty was getting excited. Ty put his hands over Lucy’s eyes. He whispered to her that the lights were about to come back on. He told her to prepare herself.

Lucy could feel the heat of the lights before she could see them. Ty dropped his hands from her eyes and told her to turn around. Lucy’s crooked smile fell in seconds when she saw what was on the carpet.

Rick was nude and dead. An evil red line had opened sections of his throat. His ribs, legs, and arms were purple with bruises. His sun-burnt skin was already turning yellow. Lucy turned her head towards Ty, but he pushed her away. From behind his back, he pulled out a square black pistol. He aimed it at Lucy’s chest.

“Show me your love,” Ty said, “show me how you loved him instead of me.”


“Do it!”

“Do what?”

Ty looked demonic and wolf-like. Infernal anger had turned his blue eyes black. The veins in his neck enlarged so much that they looked close to clearing the thin layer of skin.

“Show me how you made love to him. Show me why he was worth it.”


“Get on your knees. Do all the things you used to do with him instead of me.”

Lucy began to sob violently. Her body remained inert until Ty used the pistol’s butt to push her forward. Lucy tripped and landed right next to Rick’s limp corpse. The horror came when she recognized his features, despite the distance between life and death. It was still Rick, but just silent and cold.

“Do it,” Ty said in a low moan. Lucy looked back to see Ty’s cellphone raised. He was making a video.

“No! Stop it! I’m so sorry. Please. Don’t do this.”

“Too late,” Ty said. “You’re going to do bad things, and if you try to ruin me again, I’ll show everyone this.”

“It makes you look bad too, Ty!”

“Maybe, but I don’t care. All I care about is seeing what you two did together. So do it already.”

Lucy no longer recognized her boyfriend as human. He stood above her with malice and demanded insane things. If she didn’t comply, the pistol threatened the most precious thing to Lucy: her life.

Without thinking more, Lucy dove into the cold flesh of her former lover. She kissed him and so much more. Ty occasionally told her to do certain things, and she acquiesced. But most of the time, Lucy tried to lose herself in the ecstasy of memory. She tried her best to reenact her favorite moments with Rick. She failed, but she did come close to physical joy at one point. At this apex, she looked over at Ty and snarled. She wanted him to record her defiant gesture to him.

That’s when Ty shot her in the face.

The boom of the .380 round was like a bomb detonation in the quiet hotel. Lucy’s blood spread like a peacock’s wings and splashed all over the furniture. Ty stared at her for a few seconds. After making sure that she was dead, he went back into the bedroom and changed his clothes. On his way out of the hotel, he dropped his cell phone in the garbage.

The fading headlights moving in the direction of the highway was all the signal that Lionel needed. From his room on the ground floor, he watched Larry’s favorite boy drive away. He had heard the shot and the quiet afterwards. That meant that Lionel had a lot of work to do. Cleanup is going to be a bitch, he thought.

“Oh well. At least nobody bothers me when I work,” Lionel said to nobody else.