She hated haunted houses. Ever since she was little and her dad took her through that stupid haunted house at the school’s Fall Festival and she’d bolted through the first exit door she saw—Cristobel Shaw had hated haunted houses.
All of her friends knew it, which was probably why they insisted on going to one that night.
Cristobel hated Halloween.
It was probably because she hated being scared. Growing up she never did the things her friends did on Halloween, like play with Ouija boards or conduct séances in creepy cemeteries. All of this, despite her stoic proclamation that she was, indeed, Wiccan. Cristobel preferred her Hallows’ Eve a little more serene, her anxiety firmly in check.
Which was why she was fuming mad when they pulled through a pair of rusty, cast-iron gates and into the huge parking lot outside of a gutted asylum.
Hartford Asylum had once been a haven for the criminally insane. Its reputation of harboring some of the city’s most dangerous men and women was probably why someone decided to convert the place into one of the largest haunted houses around after it was closed a few years back. Three stories of climbing gray walls and rooms actors were allowed to drag you away from and through a hellish maze of torment. Whoever made it out “alive” got their money back.
“No,” Cristobel said, watching the flashing lights crackle through darkened windows as they pulled up. She could hear the screams from inside even though their windows were up.
“Why not?” shouted Lauren Kyle, hugging the back of the passenger seat where Cristobel was sitting.
“I told you she’d be too scared,” insisted Lindsay Munez.
“We’ll pay,” pressed Mary Chastain all serious from the driver’s seat. “You’ll be with us the whole time.”
“No,” Cristobel said again.
Not only had her friends deceived her, but Cristobel was not dressed in the same hoodie-and-sweats Fall wear as the other girls. They had told her they were going to the club, so Cristobel had dressed accordingly—short black skirt and v-neck blouse that showed off just enough of her proud cleavage to make the guys dressed in goofy costumes throw drinks at her all night. Besides, the boots laced to her knees wouldn’t accommodate running through a haunted house very well.
Cristobel looked around at her friends’ expectant faces. Pissed as she was, she certainly didn’t want to be that girl—the one that ruined everyone else’s good time.
“Go,” she said at last, folding her arms. “I’ll wait here.”
“You sure, Cristy?” Lauren said from the backseat.
“I can stay with you if you want,” Mary offered.
Cristobel glanced back at Lindsay. “Any of that blunt left?”
“Yeah,” Lindsay said.
“Then I’ll be fine,” Cristobel laughed. “I’ll celebrate this fucked up holiday my own way.” She shook her head. “I swear I’ll never get peoples’ fascination with death.”
“We’ll hit the club later,” Lauren promised, slapping a wet kiss on Cristobel’s cheek.
“The website said it should take about an hour,” Mary said. “We should be out by then.”
“If we can stay alive…” Lindsay joked ominously.
“Go,” Cristobel said, snatching the rest of the blunt from the ashtray and sparking it. “I’m already bored.”
Cristobel watched her friends disappear behind the shadowy walls of Hartford Asylum through a haze of pot smoke. She listened as electronic thunder pounded with the screams of the terrified whose voices rose on the night like some hellish roller coaster ride gone horribly awry. Faux tombstones littered the leaf-strewn front lawn. Bloody mannequins swung from trees or lay disemboweled by the front gates.
No matter how many times she rationalized the fanfare of Halloween—the blood and guts and gore—Cristobel could never quite get over her innate fear of the holiday. Luckily, marijuana had many healing properties when it came to the irrational brain, and soon Cristobel felt some of her anxiety melt away.
She began to grow restless in the front seat of Mary’s car.
Opening the door to stretch her legs, Cristobel nearly knocked a couple over as they headed to the Asylum.
“Oh…sorry,” she said, certain they could see and smell the pungent cloud reeking from the car.
The man and woman, already jumpy with anticipation for the adrenaline rush they were about to put themselves through, only laughed and quickened their pace, practically running toward the screams. Cristobel wished she could be half as ballsy. Afterward, the couple would probably go home and fuck their living brains out. Cristobel had heard fear could have that effect on people.
She rubbed her bare arms in the crisp breeze, her nipples suddenly stiff with the thought. Aside from its antianxiety components, weed also made Cristobel horny as hell.
She found herself gazing up at Hartford Asylum with a newfound lust. Not that she could ever will herself to enter its dark walls. But the thought of it…of giving herself over to her fear…elicited a dark yearning somewhere in the pit of her core.
Cristobel stalked through the night—over tombstones and fake corpses—breezy fingers tussling her long black hair as she let her eyes climb the dizzying heights of the asylum. Somehow, the screams coming from inside no longer sounded as hellish as before, but called like a distant song to some empty place in her groin. Cristobel suddenly envied her friends for experiencing it all without her. She cursed her own misgivings and childish fears, keeping her from this new need.
The deep voice pulled Cristobel from her spiraling thoughts. She was surprised to find herself outside an emergency exit door on the side of the building. The sight of it reminded her how quickly she had fled all those years ago.
The man peering at her through a fall of black hair framing his handsome face was smoking a cigarette, leaning against the brick and mortar of the building with one leg cocked on the wall behind him. He was covered in blood.
One of the workers from inside no doubt taking a break.
Still, the urge to run screaming back to the car and lock herself inside clawed at her flesh.
“I’m…waiting for some friends,” Cristobel said.
“Lucky them,” the stranger said.
The way he smiled at her made Cristobel’s face flush beneath the nearby streetlamp shining down on them like a police investigator’s spotlight. Something about him put Cristobel at ease…to know she wasn’t alone out here.
“So, what’s it like working at a haunted house?” Cristobel asked, attempting small talk.
“Boring, actually,” he said. “How many times can you scare someone twice? They want us to be inventive. Guess I’m just not smart enough for all that. This is just a part-time gig, anyway. You know, to get a little extra cash.”
He drew a long drag from his cigarette and extended a bloodied hand. “I’m Jason, by the way.”
Cristobel blinked down at the wet fingers.
“Oh, sorry,” Jason said, wiping his hands on his jeans. “It’s fake. Water-based. Washes right off.”
Blood still smeared his fingernails and the small crevices of his fingers. Something about it—such a deep, viscous black—called to her.
“Cristobel,” she said, feeling his warm hand swallow hers.
Jason pulled away, leaving a red smear on her palm. “So why didn’t you accompany your lady friends inside?” he asked.
Cristobel’s breath frosted on the cool air. “I don’t like haunted houses, is all,” she shrugged. “Guess I just don’t get off on being scared.”
“So then you admit it,” Jason smirked. “You’re scared.”
Cristobel bustled, ready to fly into a defense that would hold up in any court. It took her a moment to realize he was fucking with her.
“Cute.” Cristobel couldn’t resist a smile. “Is this your way of first impressions? Show up covered in blood and mock a girl’s phobia.”
Jason laughed, flicking his cigarette away. “It’s all an illusion Cristobel,” he said, brandishing his bloody hands. “All makeup and lights and sounds. It’s all movie production without the cameras. Action!”
Cristobel’s heart pounded faster and faster as the man inched closer and closer. Fear ripped at her to run, but a tree suddenly pressed against her back and the man’s body heat falling in on her felt too good.
“Here,” said Jason. “Touch. See for yourself.”
With trembling fingers Cristobel dared reach out to touch the man’s upturned hand, stroking every crimson-stained line of his palm. She knew it was all an act, as Jason had told her. It just looked so…real. It terrified her and excited her all at once, and Cristobel was suddenly overcome with the need to feel those bloody fingers on her body. That need was intensified by a wave of screams from inside the asylum.
Jason watched her beneath the shadow of his long hair, a coy little smile playing on his lips.
Did he want her too?
Cristobel needed to know.
Bringing one of his bloody digits to her lips, she kissed the tip of his finger and tasted the metallic bite of the makeup. The gesture seemed to amuse Jason.
“See, Cristobel,” he said. “Nothing to be afraid of.”
Everything happened so fast—Jason’s strong arms wrapping around her, his body pinning her to the tree, those stubbly lips closing over hers in a mad kiss.
Cristobel couldn’t breathe.
Her heart pounded with the thunder rolling inside, yet Cristobel made no attempt to push the man away. Instead, her fingers drifted beneath Jason’s bloodied shirt, feeling the tautness of his shoulders, the sweatiness of his flesh. One hand reached for the hem of her skirt, fingers like soft velvet stroking the smooth meat of her thigh. Cristobel could feel the hardness of his cock strained against her belly, one knee planted between her legs parting her thighs.
Jason’s finger traced the line of her panties, ripples of sensation sparking across Cristobel’s flushed skin like the flashes of light in the asylum’s windows. She could only stand there with his tongue doing laps in her mouth, tasting his tobacco-addled breath as he pulled her panties aside to find the wet opening of her smooth slit. Her hips pulsed forward impulsively as Jason stroked her pussy lips with one cruel finger.
The screams in Cristobel’s mind echoed those rising from Harford Asylum. Jason turned his head slightly to the side, no doubt expecting a group of terrified patrons to come bursting through any moment. Were it not for the need pooling within her core, Cristobel might have thrown her head back and laughed at the night’s sky. Had she really been that afraid, herself?
“Fuck me,” she whispered into Jason’s ear, inhaling the smell of him—the musk and tobacco and blood.
Cristobel was already tugging open his jeans when Jason’s mouth closed over hers again so hard tiny whiskers scraped her lips. Beneath her skirt those big, skilled hands found her panties, giving the lace a rough tug.
The crisp air, cool against her exposed sex, taunted Cristobel’s hungry cunt even as she hauled Jason’s eager cock through the hole in his boxers.
For a heartbeat Cristobel could only gaze at it.
He was so hard. The shaft thick in her hand. A thread of the man’s arousal glinting off the wet, pink flesh of his head. Cristobel longed to taste him. To suck him dry right there beneath the lamplight to the music of screams.
Jason had other plans.
Those big hands found the curves of her ass, bloody fingers digging into her fleshy cheeks as Cristobel felt herself lifted bodily from the ground and then roughly…thoroughly fucked.
Her cries of pleasure mingled with the screams of the frightened as she took this stranger beyond those terrifying walls. Cristobel’s world narrowed to flushed, slapping flesh and crisp autumnal wind and dried leaves skipping across the ground like dancing nymphs. Tree bark scraped at her shoulders like skeletal hands urging her on. Her hips rushing to meet each of his thrusts, urging his climax even as he charged Cristobel onward toward hers.
Cristobel came in a rush around his cock, her cries swallowed by a primal moan from Jason as they toppled over the edge together.
For a moment she could only let him hold her, cock still full within the walls of Cristobel’s pussy as if Jason was afraid to leave her. Spent, Cristobel wiggled herself against him as she listened to cackle of fake thunder. The screams. Jason’s quick, hot breath raked across her throat.
Cristobel was the first to break the sated silence. “You got blood all over me.” She could still taste the makeup’s metallic tang on her lips.
Jason breathed in the scent of her hair. “Like I said…all fake. Should come off the next time you shower.”
Cristobel eyed the red smears painting her thighs and arms and god knows where else. She would definitely need a shower after this.
The emergency exit door burst open in a swell of screams.
Cristobel pushed away from Jason in a wash of embarrassment, snatching her panties up as a group of about a dozen girls came pouring from inside. A few boys laughed and lingered behind, pinpoints of their fear glinting on their upper lips and forehead as they made their way leisurely through the exit long before the experience was over.
Cristobel would’ve recognized Lindsay’s voice anywhere. Mary and Lindsay were huddled near her, both white as ghosts. They looked ready to bolt with the rest of the group, but intrigue kept them planted where they stood, eyes collectively riveted on Jason.
“Oh…hey, guys,” Cristobel said, feeling her face heat.
She was sure she looked a wreck. Her hair messed. Make up fucked. Finger smears of fake blood painting her body like a murder victim in some horror movie.
“Who’s this?” Mary asked, all at once protective and amused.
“This?” Cristobel said. “This is Jason. He…was just showing me around the estate.”
“That’s right,” said Jason, still fixing his jeans. “Just showing your friend there’s nothing to be afraid of.”
He gave Cristobel a wink before donning a hockey mask from his back pocket. He hauled a bloodied machete from the ground. Somehow, Cristobel hadn’t noticed them before. Jason pulled on his mask, eliciting a giggle from Lauren.
“Jason,” she said. “I get it.”
Cristobel didn’t, though she assumed it was a reference to one of those dreadful horror movies Lauren was always going on about. Though now, Cristobel thought she might just give one a try.
“Now, if you’ll excuse me ladies,” said Jason, his voice muffled through the mask. “I need to get back to work.”
Jason ducked back through the emergency exit, the door slamming shut behind him. His sudden absence made Cristobel wonder if the man was even real. Had she really just fucked a complete stranger outside of a haunted house?
The moisture between her legs assured Cristobel she wasn’t crazy. That some of Hartford Asylum hadn’t rubbed off on her.
“You slut,” Lindsay scolded as they walked away.
“Is that why you hate haunted houses?” Lauren laughed. “You want to fuck every guy you see in a bloody t-shirt?”
Cristobel shrugged with a shy smile. “Maybe. What makes anyone do the things they do?”
She paused at the pair of mannequins she’d stepped over before. They were so real, their faces twisted in grotesque expressions. She felt herself shutter with a new breeze.
“And hey, maybe we can skip the club tonight,” Cristobel added. “I’m kind of tired.”
Mary snorted. “I bet. But don’t worry sweetie. We’ll get you home safe and sound.”
The blood came off easily enough, just as Jason had promised. The thought of him as Cristobel watched the crimson water swirling around the shower drain elicited some of the heat the man made her feel earlier. Falling into her bed in just a robe, Cristobel clicked on her television and immediately turned to a different channel.
She hated the news.
Yet the news seemed to be on every channel.
Giving up the fight, she settled on a channel with a morose-looking journalist peering sadly into the camera like she was looking directly at Cristobel. There was something familiar about the building behind her, sectioned off with police tape and flashing lights. A banner along the bottom of the screen read:
The Happening at Hartford
Cristobel’s heart began to race as her phone chirped on the nightstand beside her.
“Oh, Cristobel, thank god you’re okay,” Mary said from the other line. “The other girls are in hysterics but I…I just needed to know you were alright.”
Mary sounded near hysterics herself.
“I’m fine,” Cristobel said, trying to keep her own anxiety in check. “Calm down, Mary. What’s going on?”
“Hartford…the haunted house…killer…”
The words all came spilling out, fragmented, but enough Cristobel grasped what her friend was trying to say. All at once she recognized the place on her television screen—the same climbing walls and leaf-strewn lawn, littered now with evidence markers instead of tombstones, body bags rather than mannequins.
Cristobel felt ill.
“I have to go,” she said into her phone, hanging up even as Mary pleaded for her to stay on the line.
Cristobel Shaw really hated Halloween.
A rap at her bedroom window snatched her from her brooding thoughts. Jason smiled at her through the glass, his hair a tumbling mess around his blood-smeared face, eyes wild as they watched her trembling fingers reaching for the lock…