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William R. Eakin has had some 100 stories published, many Nebula-recommended, in pro venues like F&SF, Amazing Stories, Ellen Datlow's Syfy.com, Fantastic Stories, and more times in Realms of Fantasy than just a handful of other authors. He has been pleased to see his horror in zines like City Slab, Black October and Apex.

william r. eakin

It Could Not End Well

The girl who kidnapped men: that was how they would know her, though she was twenty. She edged her dead step-father's gun toward the blue suit in the backseat, his pin-neat tie and his pants unwrinkled even now, fitness center workouts beneath. The gun was heavy but she'd learned to hold it so it would not shake. Handcuffed and gagged, the captive nodded, knowing she was serious, and slipped out of the car at her command.

Sometimes men did bad things to women. No, always: they'd executed her mother from death row even though what she'd done was to protect her own daughter. Men, alone or in gangs -- like all-frigging-male juries -- could do only evil things, regardless of how innocent some of them could seem.

"What are you going to do with...?" But the gag would not let him speak the question in anything more than a mumble: always a meaningless question mark. The shape of that mark, she'd learned someplace, had come from the Egyptians: a cat's rear end. She was a cat and had taken it all with plenty of questions that had no answers; now she was giving it back.

The basement smelled of men like her step-dad: greasy wife-beaters and boxers. Why were men's underwear always named with such violence? The room suddenly smelled of it more than before, as if bulls there exuded the seedy stench intentionally, waiting.

She motioned for her captive to lose the suit and then sit on the bench with the other six; she kneeled down and fastened the shackles to his ankles and again put the blindfold around his eyes. Seven. Soon there would be all twelve of her mother's jurors. It would not end well.

She raised herself up and knew they'd been communicating. How was that possible? Could they whisper through the gags? Were they conspiring, working to loosen the cuffs? She looked carefully, but seeing nothing amiss shook the feeling away. She went mechanically to the first of the men, knelt and unlocked his ankle shackles. Blindfolded, he stood and went to the toilet in the corner; when he was finished, she fastened him back again and let the second go. Well-fed, watered, like bulls waiting to run into the arena. Could they have figured out a way to get loose?

Not much more time. Tomorrow there would be an eighth. In a few days, the bench would be at capacity. The implements were set out on her stepfather's old work table: paring knives, scissors, butcher knives, axes, ice picks, mallets: one way to die for each of them. Soon: sacrifice!

There was a clink of chain. She straightened, listened -- was one of the bulls moving, trying to pull apart a chain? She straightened -- Or all of them? She listened for anything tell-tale. Silence now, none of the usual moans or groans. Could someone smell -- or even hear -- the testosterone that was growing more present in the bulk of those raping and murderous male bodies, that growing hate in their loins, in each set of man-hard hands, in their thick probing and ripping fingers -- trembling though still, just waiting? Were they waiting for her to make the mistake, waiting for her to look away at just the right time when their plan went into action and they leaped at her and--?

Her own body was young, fresh, tender, clean. An Innocent: that's who they always sacrificed. And even now, as it had been her entire life, she was still attending to their needs! Why would they hate her and conspire against her? Twelve bulls. Surely getting out of their chains was impossible? But their silence seemed strange. As if they were testing her. Conspiring to do what? Well, it didn't matter. Soon it would end. The weapons were ready. The sacrifice was nearly so. She walked up the stairs and closed the door.

In the basement below the very drops of sweat seemed to conspire. A chain clinked again.

It could not, it would not, end well.