Baby, You’re a Firework
Nick had been looking forward to the holiday weekend at the start of July. It meant a break from touring and a chance to just relax with his friends. This year, they’d performed in Chicago on the third and had decided to stick around the city, spending time on the beaches of Lake Michigan, and watching the fireworks over the water at night.
He was really looking forward to the fireworks.
As he watched Baylee build a meticulous sand castle while Brian helped James pretend to be Godzilla advancing on it—Howie just rolled his eyes and smiled as his son giggled hysterically—Nick could only think about how incredibly amazing the fireworks were going to be that night.
He thought, if it wasn’t for his pure stroke of genius with Marguerite and her muffins, the fireworks would be the highlight of this tour. He could almost picture the boom and flash as the showers of brightly colored flames lit up the night sky and practically hear the screams of delight from those watching.
He grinned slyly to himself. Oh, yes. It was going to be a night to remember. Much like last night.
He found her easily enough in the crowd of people at the afterparty. She looked a little worried as she frowned down at her phone. Nick could see that she was texting someone and, when he got close enough, could hear her muttering, “Come on, Rose. Respond. Why the heck haven’t you texted me back in days?”
He paused for a second, brow furrowed. Rose? It couldn’t be the same ringleader Rose he’d annihilated days earlier, could it? And, if it was…A wicked smile spread across his face. Taking care of Rose’s friend would be even more pleasurable than most of his other…projects.
Nick leaned in close to her and murmured in her ear, loud enough for her to hear over the music, “It’s a party, babe. Why do you look so sad?”
She whirled, her dark hair nearly whipping him in the face. It took an instant for her expression to go from startled to thrilled. “Oh my god, Nick? Sorry, I…you scared me!” Her hand had flown to her chest and was just covering the heart that Nick wanted to rip out of her.
As he smiled into her pretty blue eyes, he couldn’t help but think that she seemed so innocent. Then, he remembered the platypus, and the ebola, and the fire in the studio…
His smile bumped up several degrees as his resolve sharpened again, and he heard her breath hitch as he leaned even closer, his lips brushing her ear. “Sorry for scaring you, but…I was thinking, if this party isn’t rocking your world,” his fingers stroked down her arm, causing her to shiver, “maybe you’ll come with me, and we can have our own party. Just the two of us.”
Her eyes widened before she glanced around at the rest of the fans singing and dancing along as Howie belted out his single on the stage behind them. “Are you serious?”
Nick slid an arm around her waist, drawing her up against him. “Let me rock your world…”
“Julie,” she told him breathlessly as she let him tug her through the crowd and out the back door of the club. “My name is Julie.”
Nick chuckled to himself as he remembered the fun times he’d had with Julie the night before. He’d known she was twisted, but the ways in which she’d satisfied him the night before had gone above and beyond most—not all, he reminded himself as he thought of the muffins—of his sickest dreams.
The new set of knives he’d bought had certainly come in handy as had the fully equipped Craftsman toolkit he’d gotten recently from a Home Depot. He’d certainly needed it and the industrial strength trash bags he’d remembered to pick up just the previous morning.
But now, his work was done, he thought and reminisced fondly on the night of mayhem, dismemberment, and chopping he’d indulged in just a few hours earlier.
Even though he’d only gotten an hour or two of sleep and hadn’t had any coffee today, he knew that the night’s fun had energized him. Now, he just had to wait a few more hours for things to settle into place.
“Nick!” Baylee whined pitifully as Brian and James cackled. Breaking out of his gory thoughts, Nick glanced over to find Baylee’s sand castle crumbling. “Can you help me revenge my castle? Dad and James wrecked it!”
“Jimbo!” Nick playfully scolded the three year old and ignored Howie’s warning growl. “What did I say about playing nice with others?”
James’ face carried an expression of perfect innocence. “I dunno.”
“Don’t do it!” Nick shouted and gleefully tackled Baylee into the sand. Baylee yelped in surprise and then giggled helplessly as Nick flattened him, though he was careful to keep his weight off the ten year old. Brian jumped on Nick, and Howie plopped James on top of the pile like a cherry.
This, Nick thought as he spit sand out of his mouth, was the life.
Later, as night fell, AJ, Rochelle, Leigh and Leighanne joined them on the beach, just in time to watch the fireworks. Leighanne bought Baylee an ice cream cone, and the kid happily slurped on it as he bounced excitedly next to Nick.
“Careful,” Nick warned him. “It might fall off. Then you’ll be eating an ice cream sandwich.” He waited a beat. “Get it?”
Baylee groaned. “That was a bad one.”
Brian stretched his legs out as he settled next to them. “That’s the thing with Nick’s jokes, buddy. They’re always bad.”
“Not true!” Nick opened his mouth to spit out a great comeback when the first fireworks shot up into the sky. “Sweet! Show’s starting!”
He leaned back on his elbows and smiled gleefully. He could hear James clapping his hands excitedly behind him and was glad that the little guy was enjoying the show.
It was about to get better.
Two minutes into the fireworks display, something fell with a wet splat in the sand near Nick. He didn’t glance at it, just continued to smile up at the sky.
The sound repeated itself again, then again and again.
“Ew.” Brian wrinkled his nose. “What is that?”
Nick smirked to himself.
He heard Leighanne’s horrified gasp. “No! Baylee, don’t eat your ice cream.”
“But why? I want to eat it,” Baylee whined. “Look, there’s even some melted fudge on it.”
Howie leaned over Nick’s shoulder to look at Baylee’s ice cream before he made a gagging sound. “Oh, kiddo. That’s not fudge!”
Nick could hear horrified screams slowly spreading across the crowds of people gathered to watch the Fourth of July fireworks. Something large splatted into the sand in front of their group, and Nick heard AJ’s audible gulp as he pulled off his sunglasses to look at the object.
“Holy shit, holy shit, holy shit.” Even in the dark, it was easy to see AJ’s skin had turned green.
“Holy God,” Brian whispered. “Is that…a hand?”
What looked suspiciously like a nose bounced off of James’ head. Leigh started screaming.
The next morning, Howie spread the Chicago Tribune across the table that all of them were seated at in a diner a few hours outside of Chicago. No one looked as though they had slept.
“Police say that it will take days to recover all of the various body parts. The victim, or victims—as officials are unclear on how many sets of remains have been collected thus far—will be identified based on DNA samples rather than dental records as it appears that the victim’s jaws were separated into multiple pieces, making it difficult to use the teeth for identification purposes.” Rochelle grimaced as she stopped reading aloud and looked at the rest of them. “Who would do something like this? What is wrong with people in the world?”
AJ rubbed her arm soothingly. “There are some sick fu-” He caught Leighanne’s pointed glare and remembered the kids were with them. “There are some sick people in the world, man. Who would even think of attaching body parts to fireworks? That’s just-”
“Demonic,” Brian cut in, and everyone nodded in general consensus.
Well, almost everyone.
Nick lifted his mug of green tea to hide the smug smirk on his face as he listened with glee while they talked about his latest masterpiece.
Thirteen down, so many, many more to go.