Simon and Tex were relaxing in their room when they heard it. A loud, blood-curdling scream coming from two doors down. Maria and Suzette’s room. Fearing the worst, they looked at each other in astonishment, but strangely, it seemed like they both knew exactly what was going on.

After a few moments of wincing at the ear-piercing shout, it was Simon who broke the silence, simply muttering, “uh oh.”

Tex sprang up off of his bed and rushed toward the door, trying to catch a glimpse of something, anything.

“It’s no use,” Simon told him. “We’re institutionalized, remember? We’re not going anywhere.”

“But that sounded like Maria!!! We have to help her!!!”

“It could have been any one of them,” Simon stated. “Lexi was right. That dirty guy with the claws is picking us off one-by-one. He knows we’re easy prey locked up in these rooms and he’s not gonna stop until we’re all dead. The question is, who did he get this time and who’s next?”

Their chat was briefly interrupted by the sound of several fast-paced footsteps thumping down the hall. A few people sped past their room, but Tex’s view was limited; all he could see was a blur in, then back out of the light.

“Well, I’ll tell ya who ain’t next, and that’s me!!!” Tex yelled, tugging at the door with all his might. “I’m not gonna sit around here and let Freddy pick me off like some hawk stealing a chicken from the henhouse.”

“Oh yea? And where will you go?!” Simon yelled back. “Listen to yourself! That door is not going to move. Use your head for something other than a hat rack for a change, will ya? We have to stick together no matter what. It’s the only way we can make it through this. I mean, think about it, Freddy can’t get us as long as we’re awake, right?”


“So let’s stay awake then. The longer we stay awake, the longer we stay alive.”

In the meantime, outside, Tex heard the commotion of more personnel gathering, including orderlies Damian and Jonah and Drs. Graham and Halverson.

“We gotta do something,” he heard Halverson whisper to Graham. “This is starting to get out of control. Sheriff Wilkinson is NOT going to be happy.”

“Tell me something I don’t know!” Graham spouted off, before quickly clearing his throat and collecting himself again.

Nodding for his orderlies to enter the room and subdue the hysterical Maria, Dr. Graham looked completely flabbergasted and out of explanations. He closed his eyes for a brief second, rubbing his temples with the index finger of each hand, then turned back to his right-hand man and let out a sigh of relief.

“I have an idea,” he boldly stated, but when he noticed Tex’s eyes looking out the window of the door, he turned his volume way down and whispered something into Halverson’s ear.

Smiling deviantly, Halverson turned and walked back down the hall toward their office, while Graham continued to oversee the operation.

Looking into the room, he saw a familiar bloody mess splattered all over the wall as Damian and Jonah dragged Maria out by her hands and legs with duck tape carefully affixed across her mouth and her arms and legs bound together.

“Good idea, guys,” Graham commended. “Keep her quiet. We don’t need anymore drama around here.”

“What do you want us to do with her?” Damian asked, a sly grin etched across his face.

“Take her to D-wing with the others,” Graham responded smugly. “It’s time these kids realized who the boss is around here.”

“Simon, come here and look at this,” Tex called back to his roommate. “They got Maria hog tied and gagged like one of my dad’s prized cattle.”

“What?” Simon questioned, joining him at the door’s tiny window. “You gotta be kidding me. That’s so wrong. She didn’t do anything.”

After observing them haul Maria away, Simon looked at Tex and concluded, “Well, I guess we know who got it.”

Suddenly, out of nowhere, a strange knocking sound echoed off the wall behind their beds.

Knock, knock.

At first it was in sets of two, then three, then four, then all mixed up.

Knock, knock.

Knock, knock, knock.

Knock, knock.

“What the hell is that?” Tex inquired, glancing at Simon, who was equally puzzled.

Knock, knock.

Knock, knock, knock, knock.

Knock, knock, knock.

After hearing the same pattern over and over repeatedly, a figurative light bulb lit inside Simon’s head as Tex appeared dumbfounded listening to it.

“I think someone’s messing with us--”

“Shut up!” Simon shouted. “Give me a piece of paper.”

“What for?” the lanky Texan asked, handing him a slip of paper and a pencil.

Simon didn’t respond right away. He just held his left index finger up toward Tex, insisting he wait a minute so he could finish listening to the beats attentively.

Finally, after scribbling something down, Simon answered his question, proudly saying, “It’s Morse code. Gwen was trying to communicate with us.”

“Oh, my laws,” Tex responded in his southern jargon as Simon held up the paper.

Reading the message, they both just looked at each other, stunned.

Scribbled across the half-sheet of paper, the message read:


Proceed To Chapter 19
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