Later that night, a few members of the football team and cheerleading squad were hanging out the Crave Inn diner, along with Apryl and Veronica, who were in the back corner studying for their exam.

They had been hitting the books hard for nearly four hours, and both felt somewhat confident for the exam the next day.

“Alright, I think I got it down,” Veronica stated, with a pewter ball and chain dangling from her nose. “X-squared plus 125 breaks down into x-plus-25 and x-plus-25?”

“Yep, that’s exactly it,” Apryl said. “And it works the same way in reverse. When you multiply x-plus-25 and x-plus-25, you get x-squared plus 50x plus 125.”

“Are you sure?” Veronica asked, suddenly confused. “Wouldn’t it be just x-squared plus 125?”

“Yeah, I think so,” Apryl replied, indecisive. “Wait, no. Yeah. No. Aghhh, I hate algebra!”

Discouraged, Apryl put her head down, collapsing it onto their white formica table. Veronica sighed and took another sip of Sprite, staring at some of the artwork lined up on the wall. There were some interesting pieces of work being displayed, from Van Gogh to Picasso, and each was carefully hung on the wall in front of the red and white checkered wallpaper that encased the diner. Yawning, Veronica turned her attention to the wall clock, lit up by a pink neon light. Midnight. Wow, they had really been at it a long time. Just then, the somber quiet inside the diner was disrupted by Mike, Lexi, and Tash, who came barreling through the door, almost knocking the bell right off of the back of it.

Veronica tapped Apryl on the shoulder as they joined them in their booth.

“Apryl, has Quinton come by here tonight?” Lexi asked.

“No, he hasn’t, why?” Apryl answered quietly, her eyes drooped.

“Because he missed his tutoring session and nobody’s heard from him since practice,” Tash stated.

“Maybe he’s out drinking or something,” Apryl suggested, fighting to keep her eyes open.

“No,” Mike interrupted. “He never drinks or does anything like that the night before a game. He’s always focused. Remember, he’s Quinton Williams, Ohio State University. He would never do anything to ruin his scholarship.”

Mike then noticed two other football players nearby, and went over to talk to them.

“It’s just not like him,” Tash said, clearly worried. “He calls me every night at 10 regardless, and tonight, he didn’t even do that.”

“I think you’re overreacting,” Apryl mumbled, making a gurgling sound at the bottom of her glass of Coke in order to stay awake.

“Maybe he decided to rest up for the game tomorrow,” Veronica suggested out of nowhere, finding her way into the conversation.

“You know what?” Lexi said. “That’s the most logical explanation I’ve heard all night. He’s probably home in bed.”

Tash wasn’t convinced, but she surely wasn’t going to tell them why.

“Which is where I’m gonna be,” Apryl stated, standing up with a yawn. “I better get some sleep if I plan on passing that test tomorrow.”

“Me too,” Veronica added, climbing out of the booth across from her. “I’m sick of looking at xyz’s and 123’s. Come on Apryl, I’ll drop you off. See you guys later.”

“Bye,” Tash and Lexi said at the same time as Apryl and Veronica left the diner exhausted.

Just as the door slammed behind them and the bell on the door settled, Mike came back over and sat down next to Lexi and Tash, giving them each a fountain drink from the counter.

“Well?” Lexi asked, drinking her Dr. Pepper.

“The boys said they saw him leaving the gym at 8:30,” Mike informed them. “So maybe he just decided to skip his tutoring session for whatever reason and lift more weights or something.”

“Yeah, maybe,” Lexi said, trying to help Tash feel better. It didn’t work. Nothing short of seeing Quinton would calm her nerves.

Mike and Lexi could both tell Tash was really nervous. Not only was she acting weird all of a sudden, but the fact that she was chewing on her straw and not drinking her Coke was a dead giveaway.

“I’ll tell you what,” Mike said, looking at his watch. “It’s only a little past midnight. I’ll swing by the gym and see if he’s there, then I’ll drop by his house on my way home and see what’s up, okay?”

“Alright,” Tash agreed, smiling a half-smile as her nerves calmed just a little. “If he’ll talk to anyone, he’ll talk to you. You’re his homie.”

Mike paid the tab for their drinks and they started out the door, when something behind the counter caught Lexi’s attention. It was the black slab of slate that had “Today’s Special” painted on it in red and white tempera. Below that sketched in white chalk, it read: “Burger & Fries $5.50.” But Lexi had to do a double-take. She could have sworn it said something else.

Nah, couldn’t be.

“You comin’?” Mike asked, holding the door open for her.

“Huh? Yeah,” Lexi replied following a momentary pause.

“I’m getting worried about you,” Mike joked. “You daydream more than I do.”

“I do not!” Lexi jokingly insisted, punching him in the arm.

A few moments later, Mike’s Corvette roared to life and sped off down the road back toward Elm Street.

However, Lexi was right in her suspicions about the diner slate. It didn’t read “Burger & Fries $5.50” after all. In fact, for that split second, it read, “3, 4, Better Lock Your Door!”


Meanwhile, back on Elm Street, Veronica’s black Ford Escort slowed to a crawl and pulled into her driveway. Turning her headlights off, she parked next to her mother’s navy Ford Explorer like always and took the keys out of the ignition. In that instant, the entire night of studying finally caught up with her. She let out a long, drawn out yawn, and her eyes slowly began to sag. Veronica couldn’t wait to get to bed. There would be no ‘Beautiful People’ blaring from her stereo at 2 a.m. There would be no late night frappuccino’s from Starbucks. She knew she would crash as soon as she hit her bed, so Veronica grabbed her backpack and headed toward the front door, not wanting to delay her beauty rest any longer.

It was a dark, dreary night, and Veronica could smell the threat of rain in the air. It was so dark that Veronica could barely see her hand in front of her face as she walked up the porch steps. Fiddling through her keys, she rattled them in the palm of her hand trying to find the right one. The jingling sound echoed in the night, along with the crickets and the other creatures of the night, sending a chill down her spine.

That immediately stopped Veronica, who hesitated and looked around. All she could see were the tall, barren elm trees lining the road and blocking the street lights, making it that much darker. Soon after, she heard some rattling in a bush just off of her front porch. Probably just a skunk or something, Veronica thought. Or a raccoon. Then someone called her name: “Veronica!” and it sent another jolt through her body. It was a very dark, deep voice, seductively enticing her to come near the bush. Out of curiosity, she tip-toed off of her porch, hoping to find maybe Rob Zombie, Marilyn Manson, or hell, even Charlie Manson for all she cared.

The rustling in the bushes continued as Veronica dug up enough courage to inch her way closer to it. Who the hell would be hiding in her bush this time of night? It was probably Quinton, she thought. Maybe that’s where he’d been hiding all night. But she quickly dismissed that idea almost as fast as she thought it. I mean seriously, she pondered. Why would the star wide receiver be hiding in my bushes anyway? Still, she was sure someone was there, and had to find out who, or there was no way in hell she would be able to sleep peacefully.

Veronica pulled some mace out of her backpack and started pushing her hands through the bushes, scoping for whatever might be in there. Feeling nothing, she got down on her knees and tried to look into the bush, but it was so dark, she couldn’t see diddly squat. She then spread the middle of the bush out with both of her hands, and was immediately shocked to see two beady red eyes staring directly back at her.

“Boo!” Freddy Krueger snickered, laughing wildly.

“Ahhh!” Veronica screamed, running back toward her front door. She again tried to find the right key for the lock as she heard his footsteps approaching.

Then she heard it. The most awful screeching sound she had ever heard in her life. It sounded like this man was dragging a garden claw across the aluminum siding of her house, and it hurt her ears very badly. As horrible as the sound was, it only got louder as he approached. She didn’t care. Whoever he was, he was going to pay for stalking her and scratching up the side of her house like that. She decided to try the last key on her chain, and then, if that didn’t work, she was pulling out her switchblade.

Luckily, the key worked, and the door flung open. Veronica rushed inside and wasted no time slamming the door behind her. When she turned back around, however, she was startled, because it wasn’t her house she had entered. In fact, it looked more like Apryl’s house, only dirtier. How could I have gone in the wrong house, she thought as she noticed a large, dusty staircase directly in front of her.

“Apryl?” Veronica called out, slowly ascending the stairs. She looked around, and all she could see were cobwebs, dust, and just filth in general. She didn’t know what to do as the moonlight shined in and reflected off of all the metal on her body. It looked like no one had cleaned the house in many years, perhaps decades. She had no idea where she was, but at least that awful screeching had stopped. The fact of the matter was, no matter how much of a gothic queen she was, deep down, she was terrified. The goth and the horror was merely a mask to cover up the problems she faced every day in real life. Some people like Tash outwardly expressed themselves through their art. Others, like Alexis, did it with her cheerleading. But she was different. She expressed herself in the form of the black makeup, the tongue piercings and the tattoos. All of that was her way of coping with society—and the loss of her father, who passed away in a car accident when she was just a little girl.

Veronica made it up the first four stairs when a squealing sound rang in her ear. It was coming from the living room. Or what looked like the living room. Intrigued, she went back down the stairs and crossed through the threshold into the living room, where the squealing sound increased in intensity. The large room was dark. Nothing there but a dirty brown couch and a small coffee table in desperate need of lemon pledge. She looked past all that and saw the shadow of an object rolling slowly toward her.

“Apryl? Alexis?” she called out, but got no response.

In a matter of seconds, Veronica’s eyesight adjusted to the darkness, and, thanks to the moonlight, she could see what was approaching—it was a small red tricycle, leaving a trail of blood in its path.

Confused, Veronica walked past the tricycle and into the foyer, where she saw a little girl in a white dress sitting in the corner crying.

“Hey, are you okay, little girl?” Veronica asked, approaching the girl, whose hair was in pigtails with a red ribbon tied on each.

The girl didn’t respond. In fact, she had her back to her. Veronica was cautious, but she couldn’t stand to see a little girl needing help (especially because she was that little girl at one point in her life).

Veronica tapped the girl on her shoulder, but horrifically, the little girl’s head fell off and tumbled toward her, revealing a skeleton instead of a face.

“Ahhh!” Veronica gasped, backing away toward the living room. In the living room, she heard that awful screeching sound again. This time it was coming from the far corner of the room.

Spooked, she walked toward that corner when she noticed the evil red eyes one more time. After seeing that, she could make out the rest of the guy’s appearance in the speck of moonlight. Or, at least his silhouette. He was wearing some sort of floppy hat on his head, and had what appeared to be big, long fingernails. So that explains the screeching, she thought.

Then, right in front of her, the man put his fingernails on the wall and screeched them repeatedly, annoying Veronica right to her face as sparks flew around the room.

“Hahahahahaha,” Freddy Krueger laughed.

“Who the hell are you?” Veronica asked, pulling out her switchblade.

“I’m a legend in these parts,” Krueger replied in his usual dark, sinister voice. “I’m the master of everything you see, and the ruler of everything you don’t.”

Veronica was clearly frightened. Between the awful screeching and the deep, dark voice, this guy was scary. Shaking, Veronica started backing away toward the foyer again when she felt a sharp pain in her lower leg. She looked down to shockingly see the severed head of the little girl biting her leg. Or was it? At a closer glance, she saw that it wasn’t the little girl’s head at all, but it was Freddy Krueger that was biting her leg. Out of instinct, she kicked the head off, and it landed in the next room as she heard more dark, sadistic laughter.

Crying, Veronica’s black makeup began to smear as she turned back around. However, when she did, Freddy Krueger was gone.

Veronica figured if she could get back outside, at least she could get in her car and drive for help, so she slowly edged her way toward the doorway. But as soon as she reached the doorway, she heard Freddy’s evil laugh again, this time coming from the top of the stairs.

“Come to Freddy!” he yelled as he jumped up on the banister and slid all the way down the staircase, landing right in front of Veronica, who let out a blood-curdling scream.

“Hahahahaha!” Freddy laughed as he raised his claw high in the air and swung it at Veronica, who ducked backward. However, Freddy didn’t miss, as he connected with Veronica’s pewter ball and chain, yanking it right from her nose and squirting blood everywhere. Laughing hysterically, Freddy raised his arm again—

Proceed To Chapter 5
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