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Judy hummed cheerily as she sealed the edges of her pie with a fork. It was strawberry rhubarb, her daughter's favorite. Her little girl wasn't so little anymore. She was fifteen years old, taller than Judy herself, and tonight, for the first time, she had invited a boy over to the house. Judy couldn't have been more excited for her.

"It's just to do homework," Myra had said, but her Cheshire cat grin and rosy cheeks betrayed her true feelings. Judy could spot a crush a mile away. Myra rather liked this Tyler fellow from the look of it. And if her blushing complexion didn't give it away, the things Judy had seen in Myra's diary certainly did.

Oh, sure, Myra would probably have thrown a fit to know her old lady had gone snooping, but really what was she supposed to do? Her daughter's safety was her top priority, of course, followed closely by watching her young life like the vanilla soap opera it was turning out to be.

Judy had to admit that she was somewhat disappointed that nowhere in the multitude of diary entries about Tyler could she find a single picture. What does he look like, I wonder, Judy thought. She hoped, on some level, that Myra had the same taste in men as her mother. It would certainly make her feel closer to her daughter, even as she continued to grow into her teens and claim ever more independence.

Judy sighed and placed the pie lovingly in the oven. Just then, she heard the front door open and a familiar set of footsteps approaching the kitchen. "Hi, honey," she said. "Excited for tonight?"

Myra stood in the doorway looking half embarrassed and half elated to be read so accurately. "Mom," she said, "I told you. It's just homework."

"Homework and dinner," Judy corrected her daughter. "I've just put a pie in the oven. Wait until he tastes it. You'll never get rid of him!"

"Mom!" Myra giggled.

Judy could read the desire to protest in her daughter's body language, but the good-natured girl had never been able to do it. How did I end up so lucky? Judy asked herself.

Myra hurried up to her room and Judy busied herself about the kitchen making the rest of the meal. At last, five o'clock rolled around. The doorbell rang, and the air within the little house became suddenly tense and energized.

"Myra," Judy called up the stairs, "I think you should answer that."

As Myra bounded down the stairs, Judy hurried back into the kitchen to check on her cooling pie.

"Hi," she could hear Myra say.

"Hey," said a youthful male voice. "Ready to get your study on?"

There was something strange about the voice, something that made Judy uneasy. Pie in hand, she stepped out into the hall to catch a glimpse of her daughter's young guest.

When her eyes landed on Tyler standing in her front hall, the pie pan fell to the floor with a noisy smash. "Oh my God!" Judy exclaimed.

"Mom, what's---"

Before Myra could finish her sentence, Judy launched herself toward Tyler. "Get out! Get out of this house!" She pushed him violently out the door and slammed it. After clicking the lock into position, she leaned her full weight against the door and turned to face her bewildered daughter.

"Mom, why did you do that?" Tears began to form in Myra's eyes. "Are you crazy?"

"Myra, I'm sorry, but I needed to get him away from you," Judy said.

"Why? What's going on?" Myra demanded.

Judy took a deep breath. "Myra... I know that boy…. I knew him when I was in high school! But he’s not a boy…. He’s---"

Glass from the window beside the door suddenly shattered and exploded into the room. The culprit, a large, muscled arm with bulging veins and glistening red skin reached in. Before either woman could react, it seized Judy and pulled her out of the house in one lightning quick motion.

Her daughter's screams mingled with her own and the sickening snap of crushing bones as the agony ushered Judy into darkness.



Written by Jdeschene
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