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“It is true. I saw Ferry Blackwell,” Macy replied earnestly, adding, “He had a head like a melon.”
“You did not. Get your stuff ready, and let’s go. We’re going to be late.” Georgie walked out the front door, and Macy followed reluctantly, wishing that her big brother would believe her this time. She did like to make up stories, and their mom had asked her to knock it off, but this wasn’t a story. She had spotted Ferry Blackwell, she was sure of it.
Shifting from one foot to the other, Macy stared down the school driveway. All of the buses had left; everyone was gone. Georgie was late. She had tried to call him on her cell phone, but there was no answer. Her mom was at work, and interrupting her would guarantee a whole evening of arguing. Slipping the phone into her back pocket, she decided to walk home.
As the pavement twisted and turned she found herself thinking about Ferry Blackwell again. Last week, she had started reading a book about the history of her town, Devilsville. It had not been riveting, except for one phrase, handwritten on page twenty-two. It read: In the woods of Devilsville, you’re sure to find a gory thrill. When the Bakerman wants to eat, hide your hands, and cover your feet. With a head melon-sized and fire burning in his eyes, he’ll harvest your fingers and your toes, then leave the rest so everyone knows. Murdered by an angry town, he swore revenge when they shot him down. So watch your children, but never tell- if Ferry Blackwell comes back from hell. Macy knew the words by heart. She had looked through a few other books, but found nothing else about Ferry Blackwell. Then, the other day, she saw him. There had been a rustling behind the trees in her backyard. When she had gone over to investigate, someone actually was there. It looked like a man, but with a huge head. He had flashed a mad, toothy grin at her, then quickly disappeared. Her mother had come running out when she heard Macy’s rants of terror.
“Macy, what did I tell you about scaring people with your stories?” her mother had quipped. Macy knew that no one was ever going to believe her, and why should they? After all, she did have a long history of making things up, which had opened more than one can of worms for her parents to deal with. Things like; Ginny Wader, in the third grade, refusing to touch door handles ever again or Georgie wearing a helmet wherever he went for a year. The list was long, she mused. Her thoughts were suddenly cut short. Just ahead, at the bottom of the hill, a school bus was stopped in the middle of the road. Macy cautiously walked up to it and climbed the steps. Other than the backpacks and lunch boxes strewn about on the seats, it appeared empty.
“Hello?” she said tentatively. “Is anyone here?” She made her way down the aisle. Midway, her mouth dropped open in horror. On a seat to her left, there were bloody fingernails mixed in with a heap of shoes and socks. BANG! Something hit the side of the bus. “What was that?” she whispered. BANG! Again, the bus shook and teetered. Macy reacted fast and ran up the aisle. Quaking with fear, she grabbed the door handle and pulled. Just as it was about to latch, long fingers pried it back open. Two red, veined eyes zeroed in on their target. Terror forced the air out of her lungs, and she screamed. Then, everything went blank.
Macy was flat on her back when she woke. She was chained to the floor, and her feet were bare. A painful stinging in her fingers and toes sliced through her body. Where was she? What had happened? “Who else is here?” she questioned the darkness.
“Shhhh,” a panicked voice ordered.
“Who’s there?” she said again.
“Stop talking, you idiot. He’ll hear you.” It was a terrified sounding boy.
“Why’s it so dark?” she continued. She had no intention of shutting up.
“I think we’re in a basement,” another voice chimed in.
“How many people are here?” Macy inquired.
“I’m here, Marcus Beltane,” came a nervous voice.
“Me too, I’m Jen Andrews.”
The voices started to pick up, “Justin Deluca, Melanie Grism...” There seemed to be about twenty kids sitting in the dark with her; all scared, and all, she was certain, without their fingernails and toenails.
The creaking of a door silenced the murmuring. A light flickered on, cutting through the blackness. She squinted her eyes open a bit and stared up at the ceiling, watching as a shadow with an enormous melon head moved across the room. Its heavy footfalls came to a halt. Suddenly, a cackling voice bellowed out, “Looky here, girls and boys, forget your mommies and your toys. The fun and games will soon begin; to scare me back is how you win. But should you lose, you’ll pay a price, your fingers and toes I’ll surly dice. Just try to leave! It won’t do you well. For I’m back from hell. I’m the Bakerman, Ferry Blackwell.” His howling laugh sounded insane, like a hyena calling out to its prey. He did an odd little jig. Then, in an instant, he was gone.
“Okay, this is really happening,” Macy said, more to herself than anyone else. She took a deep breath, then continued, “He said something about winning, didn’t he?"
“Yeah, he said, to scare me back is how you win,” a trembling voice squeaked. “He also said that he was a Bakerman. What’s he going to do? Cook us into bread or something?”
“I think that’s exactly what he’s going to do,” Macy responded knowingly, remembering what she had read. “But, it sounds like if we scare him back, we win. Which, I guess, means we get to live.”
“How are we supposed to scare him? He’s a demon who makes bread out of kids’ fingers and toes. I mean, what’s scarier than that?” Macy recognized the voice of Jen Andrews.
“I know, but...” Her mind was whirring. Then, it hit her. She remembered the cell phone in her pocket. The door opened. Macy threw caution to the wind and whispered just audibly, “I have a plan.”
Her heart thudded in her chest as a shadow moved into the room. “So kiddies, who’s it going to be? Who wants to be the first to try to scare me?” His voice sounded crazy.
Macy mustered up all of her strength and called out, “I’ll go first, you don’t scare me. You’re going to be caught any minute.” She kept her breathing even as Ferry Blackwell loomed above her, searching her face with his terrifying eyes. He was so close that she could smell his putrid, stinking breath.
“You wait and see! I’ll show you just how scary I can be!” He pulled her up by her hair and dragged her to a chopping block centered in the room. Grabbing her left arm, he slapped her hand down on it.
She focused her mind on the weight in her back pocket, hoping beyond hope that she hadn’t been knocked out for more than thirty minutes. The reminder alarm on her phone had been set to go off at exactly 4PM, and it had to be about that time. Macy glared up at Ferry Blackwell and said, “Everyone in town already knows where we are. Kids today have GPS trackers implanted in our bodies that tells our parents exactly where we are at all times. You’ll see, the town’s people will be here any moment to shoot you down and send you back to hell, Ferry Blackwell.”
He looked bemused, as he replied, “You think you’ll be saved? When, for a century, it’s fingers and toes that I’ve craved?” He raised a sharp blade above his head, poised to strike. Macy squeezed her eyes shut and braced herself. Please go off alarm, she prayed, believing that this would, at the very least, buy her more time. As if on cue, a loud beeping blared out from her pocket. Ferry leered at her, unsure. Just then, in a brilliant moment of pure luck, another cell phone rang out, perhaps a concerned parent. Another one went off with a mechanical jingle. The timing couldn’t have been better. Suddenly, there was a frantic banging on a door. The demon spun around wildly, looking terrified. “No, no, not to hell. Hide, I must and never tell,” he bellowed and dropped the blade. It landed with a clink just as Ferry Blackwell shot into the air and burst into flames, disappearing in a black puff of smoke. No one breathed.
Somewhere above, Georgie’s worried voice called out, “Macy, are you in here?”