“How could you let this happen?” Latoya Williams cried as her brother, Officer Darrell Jones, finally arrived at the hospital. “You were supposed to watch him! You were supposed to keep an eye on him and make sure he stayed out of trouble. Was that too much to ask?!”

“I’m so sorry, Latoya,” Darrell replied, choked up and watery-eyed. The news of Quinton’s demise crushed his uncle. If only he had arrived a little bit sooner, Quinton might still be alive. The feeling of guilt was so prevalent in his heart now, along with grief, fear, and about a million other emotions to go along with it.

“There was nothing I could do, believe me,” Darrell said, clearing the lump that had formed in his throat. “I was halfway across town responding to a fatal car crash...”

“Car crash?” Latoya fired back. “CAR CRASH?”

Hearing his sister speak in that tone made Darrell realize something. While he felt responsible for Quinton’s death, something had made him leave that stadium. Something had caused him to lower his guard down for the one split second his only nephew was taken. Something. Someone...

His eyes widened when reality set in.

“Listen to me,” Darrell stated. “It’s very important. I need to know where Tash went, and that Murphy girl.”

“What? Why?” she asked, puzzled.

“You don’t understand,” Darrell answered. “There’s something going on here. Something bigger than Quinton, bigger than you or me, bigger than Springwood.”

That remark sent Latoya over the deep end, and she hauled back and slapped her brother across the face. “Don’t you ever tell me something is more important than my son!” she screamed, overcome with emotion.

“Where are they?” Darrell demanded, blood boiling. “We don’t have time for this! It’s a matter of life and death!”

Nearby, Leroy Williams, Quinton’s father, noticed the commotion and came over to get between them, doing all he could to restrain himself from hitting Darrell as well. After everything that had happened, the last thing they needed now was a family crisis.

“Tash left a little while ago,” Leroy said, the tired expression of pain and anguish clearly visible on his face. “She rushed out of here in a hurry, and Lexi followed her not long after that.”

“Thank you,” Darrell said calmly, trying to diffuse the situation. The officer didn’t know it, but the tears that had welled up in his eyes had begun streaming down his face during the argument. Latoya noticed it and instantly began to ball once again, retreating to her husband’s arms.

Darrell came over and hugged them both, then grabbed Latoya’s hand gently. “I promise you I’m going to get to the bottom of this if it kills me.”

That last comment shocked both Williams parents. “Darrell, wait!” Latoya begged, pleading for her brother to stay. “Come back!” But Darrell never looked back. He continued out the door determined as Leroy and Latoya looked at each other, shocked at what they had just heard, then glanced up at the sky as if to say, “Oh, no, not again!”


Across town, the wet streets of Springwood sat desolate as the night’s deluge of showers had finally begun to subside. The rain had slowed down to a sprinkle and the moon re-appeared in the sky, gleaming out from behind the dark gray storm clouds. The crickets and other creatures of the night also resurfaced and resumed their songs of the night while bright white stars sparsely dotted the foggy skyline.

Since the football game had ended, Springwood had gone from being a potential riot-town back to being the normal ghost-town it always was. The hype and high expectations surrounding the Springwood Bulldogs had gone down the toilet, and all hope of a championship season was dashed in a matter of a half an hour. Instead of celebrating a triumphant victory, Springwood was forced to once again sulk in defeat, an all-too-familiar theme for this haunted little town.

Breaking the dead-of-night silence were a pair of gleaming headlights cutting through the thin fog like a hot knife through butter. Mike'’s red Corvette zoomed down the road, treading the remaining water to both sides of the road as it passed in a glare of motion. Lexi was behind the wheel, and she floored the gas pedal with everything she had hoping to get to Tash before Freddy.

Things were finally starting to make sense, Lexi thought as the speedometer surpassed 55 miles per hour in the residential area. Krueger was closing in on all of the new Elm Street children, picking them apart at their weakest moments. It was just like he did in the past to someone named Nancy she heard her mom talking about to the neighbors. No wonder her mother shooed her away when she noticed her listening to their conversation. Damn, it all made sense now. She was trying to protect her from Krueger, and all the other parents must have been the same way, some sort of quiet conspiracy. Only somehow Freddy found a way around it, and as a result, more innocents were lost.

Lexi was going entirely too fast for the conditions, vibrating each road sign as she blew by, but she didn’t care. As far as she was concerned, the entire Springwood police force was too busy eating donuts to be bothered with her, or she would have surely been ticketed for speeding by now.

It didn’t matter regardless. All she cared about was saving her best friend’s life, as well as her own and the lives of many others. Too many of those close to her were dropping like flies because of that bastard maniac, and she was going to make sure it didn’t happen again. Ever.

Squealing her tires, Lexi hung a sharp left turn onto Elm Street and continued down the block toward Tash’s house. Cruising along with determination, Lexi had one hand on the steering wheel and the other holding her cell phone up to her ear. “Come on, Tash, pick up!” she yelled into thin air as she tried to reach her best friend. “Answer your damn phone!”

But there was no answer. Tash’s phone kept ringing until her voicemail came up. Discouraged, Lexi didn’t even leave a message and hung up her flip-phone, tossing it onto the seat beside her. “Damnit, Tash! Nooooo!” Lexi cried, tears running down her face as she feared the worst. “Oh god, I hope I’m not too late.”

Looking ahead to the end of Elm Street (and Tash’s house), Lexi saw something that startled her. It was Tash— or what looked like Tash, anyway— and she was standing in the middle of the road and not moving. Lexi couldn’t quite make out a clear picture of her, but it almost looked like she was painted onto thin air and just stood there transparent, staring not at her, but past her, aimlessly.

Getting dangerously close, Lexi was just about to stop when her ring tone of Linkin Park’s “Lying From You” kicked in and distracted her, the phone’s green LCD light reflecting off of her tired and baggy eyes. Hoping and praying that it was Tash (but not checking the caller ID), Lexi took a deep breath and flipped open her phone and asked, “Hello?”

“I’m your boyfriend now, Lexi,” Freddy Krueger snarled as his tongue emerged from the receiver of the phone and licked Lexi’s lips.

“Ahhh!” Lexi screamed, dropping her phone and smashing it with a thud. “Shit! Way to go, Einstein.”

But she had other problems to worry about, because when she looked back at the road, she didn’t see Tash there at all.

Or that large elm tree.

Proceed To Chapter 26
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