“Where are we going, Daddy?” Olivia asked. “Is it part of my birthday present?”
“Why, yes it is, Olivia,” her father said.
Olivia started walking faster to keep up with him. She could tell that he was very excited to show her the present. She looked up at him and felt happy that she was his daughter. He was the best daddy in the whole world.
“What’s the present?” she asked.
Her father laughed loudly and stopped, staring at Olivia in a way that made her a little uncomfortable. She had gotten used to that lately.
“It’s a party,” he said.
“Is it a surprise party?”
“A party? Yay! Is mommy there? What about Billy? What about….”
Olivia stopped and looked down as if something was troubling her.
“What is it, baby?” her father asked.
“If it’s supposed to be a surprise party, then why did you tell me?”
Her father looked angry for a moment, and Olivia saw him almost raise his hand to smack her mouth for questioning him, but he smiled instead.
“Because you need to be ready for this, baby doll. It’s going to be the best party you’ll ever have! I have a very special gift for you, and it took me a long time to make it,” he said.
“Is that why we can’t have the party at home?” asked Olivia.
She was feeling homesick in the abandoned office building they were in. It was dark, dirty, and a little scary, if she was being honest with herself. The chipped green walls made her think of haunted houses she had seen on Halloween cartoon specials before.
But she knew there were no monsters here. And even if there were, her Daddy would protect her. He was the strongest man in the world. One time, she’d even seen him punch his arm through a window when he was really angry with her. But that was Scary Daddy. He was Nice Daddy right now. But she still missed their happy little farmhouse in the country.
“It’s the only place I could build it,” Daddy said. “If I made it at home, you might have found it!”
“What about the garage?” Olivia asked. “There might have been room in there.”
“Olivia, I just told you that I couldn’t let you find it. Besides, the garage would have been too small.”
“Hmm….” Olivia paused to think. The moldy carpet felt squishy under her white shoes. “What about the barn? It’s really big! And I’m not allowed in there, anyways.”
“No room, baby. I use that barn for a lot of things. That’s why nobody’s allowed in there, not even your mother.”
“Yeah, I guess so,” Olivia said.
Her father began to walk faster down the hallway until he reached a set of red metal doors. Olivia almost had to run to keep up.
“Stop!” her father yelled. He held up his hand and looked behind them.
“What is it?”
“Shush! I want to make sure nobody’s following us. Nobody can know.”
“Well, maybe it’s more guests,” Olivia suggested.
“Olivia, I—I told… I told you to be… quiet.”
Olivia nodded her head and looked behind them. She couldn’t see anything but the dusty hallway. Her father shuffled his foot, and the noise made him jump.
“We better be quick. I know they’re coming,” said her father.
“Who’s coming?” Olivia asked. She wondered if it was her friends from school.
“Them,” he said as he opened the doors. Olivia didn’t ask what he meant.
They found themselves in a stairwell. On the left was a staircase going up, while to the right the stairs went down. On the wall facing them was a boarded-up window with beams of dusty light struggling to get through.
“Down,” her father said.
“Down… down there?” she whispered. She leaned over the railing and gulped nervously.
“Yes. Down there, Olivia.”
“But-but… there might be--”
She stopped herself. She almost said “monsters,” but decided not to because she didn't want to sound scared, especially on her birthday. No, she wanted to be brave like Daddy.
He smiled at her, but it didn’t seem like a friendly smile. Olivia was starting to wonder if Scary Daddy was coming back. She didn’t like Scary Daddy. Nobody did, not even the doctors. That’s why they gave him special medicine, to keep Scary Daddy away. Mommy said that it was when he didn’t take his medicine that Scary Daddy came out. Sometimes he thought the medicine was poison, and sometimes he would think that Mommy was trying to hurt him. That’s when he would hurt her. But Mommy said not to tell anyone.
“There might be what?” Daddy asked. He was still smiling.
“Nothing,” Olivia said.
Her father leaned towards her and hovered his face over hers. Olivia started to get scared. Daddy was tall, and his face looked like a skeleton with that smile.
“There might be what?” he asked again.
“Monsters,” Olivia mumbled.
Daddy laughed and said, “The only monster here is me. Boo!”
Olivia jumped a little bit when he stuck his arms out. She didn’t like his laugh, either. It wasn’t the Nice Daddy laugh. Nice Daddy had a laugh that sounded like hot cocoa. Scary Daddy’s laugh sounded like the bark of a dog. A big mean one that wanted to bite you.
He stared at her for a few more moments, his eyes never leaving hers.
“What’s your favorite game?” he asked.
“Musical chairs,” Olivia said.
He chuckled but didn’t say anything.
“Are… are we going to play musical chairs?”
He took her hand and started to lead her down the stairs. She tried to pull her hand away, but he yanked her body towards him.
“That’s just part of the party,” he said. “But the real present won’t come until after.”
“What’s the present?”
“Quit asking questions, Olivia. They rot your brain.”
They continued in silence, fear rising in Olivia. Finally, they stopped in front of another pair of doors that looked black in the dark. Somewhere ahead, there was a strange noise that Olivia hadn’t heard before.
“What’s that sound?” she asked. It was hard to see down there.
“That's a generator, sweetie. Now listen closely. I want you to stay here, okay? Don't come in until you hear me knock. Got it?”
“Yes, sir,” she said.
Her father opened the metal doors in front of them, and went inside, the doors slamming shut with a loud thunk! She heard him walk away and say something. There was silence for what felt like a hundred years before she heard footsteps coming back to the door.
Knock. Knock. Knock.
Wondering what she would find, Olivia slowly opened the doors, wishing she could see more.
But nothing happened.
“Daddy?” she called, scared something had gone wrong. All she could hear was the low humming of the generator. “Daddy?”
“I’m right here, baby,” Daddy’s soft voice whispered in her ear. “Just follow me.”
She looked towards his voice and saw that in the corner was a table lit with a candle. At first, she couldn’t tell what was on it. But then she realized that their cat, Sprinkles, was lying on it and blood was dripping off the table.
“Daddy, somebody hurt Sprinkles!” Olivia cried.
She ran over to the table to get a closer look. A bloody knife was on the table next to Sprinkles’ body, and around her were strange markings. In a bowl was a pile of dead black slugs, and scratched into the wood was a strange word that Olivia didn’t like: Wyrm.
Suddenly, Olivia was knocked onto the concrete floor and was being dragged back towards the middle of the room.
“Daddy! Help!” she screamed. She was scared it was a monster.
“Shut your mouth, Olivia.”
It was Scary Daddy.
“Let go! Let go! Let go!”
She felt her father hit her across the face and she closed her mouth as tears streamed down her cheeks. He picked her up and put her in a wooden chair.
“Daddy, somebody hurt Sprinkles! There’s blood!”
A hot flash of pain exploded in her leg with a loud crack from her right knee.
“Stop screaming!” Scary Daddy growled. He didn’t sound like a person anymore. He sounded like a monster. “I said stop screaming!”
He grabbed her left leg and snapped her shin upwards, and there was another crack from her knee as she squirmed and squealed, trying to get away from Scary Daddy. But he held her down and growled at her.
For a moment his hands came off of her, and she tried to get up, but her legs hurt too much to do anything except scream. Then she felt his hand on her face as tape was put over her mouth. She tried to pull it off, but Scary Daddy grabbed her arm and snapped it just like her legs.
“You’re not going anywhere,” he said. His breath felt hot and gross against her skin. “You have to take it, sweetie. You know I love you, right? You’re Daddy’s little girl.”
Olivia shook her head and tried to scream, but it was muffled by the tape. She tried to take it off again with her other hand, but her father grabbed it and snapped it in a second, his eyes never leaving Olivia’s. His face looked like a skeleton again.
“We’re going to play musical chairs, Olivia. You like musical chairs, right?”
Obediently, Olivia nodded her head. Her father’s smile grew bigger as he stroked her hair.
“Yeah, that’s right. We’ll play musical chairs, and then I’ll give you your present. Do you love God?”
Again, she nodded her head, too scared to do anything else. She was still trying to scream, but she couldn’t move. Her elbows and knees felt like they were on fire.
“Well, God is here with us, tonight. And you’re gonna meet him. And he’s gonna take you to a special place. Do you want to meet God?”
Olivia shook her head. She didn’t know much about God besides that he had a big beard and loved everyone, but she knew that she didn’t want to meet him yet. Because that would mean going to Heaven. She didn’t want to go to Heaven.
“No? Oh, come on, baby doll, you don’t want to make God sad, do you? He wants to see you very much! No? Well, it’s not time to meet him yet. But he wants you to have fun with your family first!”
Olivia shook her head, but her father ignored her as he went out of sight and grabbed a gas can. She could hear him pouring it on the ground in front of her. He lit a match and threw it on the ground, where it lit a circle of flames. Olivia could see that around the fire in a circle were more chairs, thirteen of them including her. In each one was the face of a loved one. She could see her mother directly across from her, eyes glazed over and barely breathing with deep cuts across her face. To her right was her brother, who was silently sobbing. One of his eyes was missing. Olivia closed her eyes tight and turned her head. She didn’t want to see.
Her father disappeared for a moment before returning with a ladder. He jumped over the flames and climbed the ladder in the middle of the circle. Olivia saw him pull down a rope from the ceiling, and with the rope came a strange wooden contraption that hung from the ceiling. It was circular, too, and several meat hooks hung from it, directly over Olivia and her family.
Her father came over to Olivia’s left, where her aunt sat, and pulled down a meat hook and stabbed it through her aunt’s shoulder. Her aunt tried to scream, but it was muffled by tape over her mouth. Olivia saw that they all had tape on their mouths. Her father then put a second hook through her aunt’s shoulders.
He repeated this around the circle until he finally reached Olivia. As she looked into his eyes, she became terrified by them. They were not the eyes of either Nice Daddy or Scary Daddy. These eyes were new. They looked like a monster’s eyes. A monster scarier than Olivia had ever seen. This was not Daddy.
“Hi, Olivia,” the Monster said. “Do you like the party?”
Olivia nodded her head. She was too scared to say no.
“Look how many people came! Look!”
Olivia didn’t look. She just cried. But the Monster wouldn’t let her. He grabbed her face and used his fingers to keep her eyes open. The air burned them.
“See them, Olivia? They all came! Our whole family! And guess what? You get to share your gift. Because we’re all going to see God today. He’ll be coming soon.”
He pulled down a rusty hook and jabbed it through her shoulder. It was the most painful thing she had ever felt. It was even more painful than her broken bones. And it didn’t feel any better when she felt a second hook go through her other shoulder.
She screamed. She screamed as loud as she possibly could. She was screaming so loud that she felt as if her throat were being shredded into ribbons. Tearing… tearing through her shoulders were those rusty meat hooks. But her pain was silenced by the tape over her mouth.
“It’s okay, sweetheart,” the Monster said.
He yanked off the tape and Olivia’s screams pierced the room. He went back around the circle and pulled the tape off of everyone’s mouths. One by one, their screams joined Olivia’s in a chorus of suffering. And while they screamed, the man walked over to a chain and thrust it down. The thirteen bodies were jolted up into the air, crippled and helpless. In the meantime, the man added more gasoline and lit it. This time it was the chairs underneath them that were on fire.
“I know you hate me, Olivia,” he said. Olivia could barely hear him. The pain was too much to bear. “But you’ll thank me. You’ll all thank me when you see God!”
He went over to the wall and put a plug into the generator. Suddenly, the wooden machine began to spin counter-clockwise, and the hooks pulled at Olivia’s flesh. She couldn’t even tell she was moving at first. Everything seemed to be far away.
But then she heard something that made her blood stop.
“Love… is a burnin’ thing, and it makes a fiery ring….”
Nice Daddy used to play this song all the time. Hadn't he said something about musical chairs?
“... I fell into a ring of fire--”
The music stopped, and all of the bodies were dropped into the flames, the music replaced by the laughter of the monster that had taken over Daddy. Suddenly, they were jerked back up into the air, and right on cue, the music started playing again.
“I fell into a burnin’ ring of fire. I went down, down, down, and the flames went higher…. And it burns, burns, burns, the ring of fire, the ring of fire--”
Again, they were all dropped once more into the inferno below, and though the little girl did not know this, the muffled screaming of her mother had stopped. Again and again this repeated with the song on a loop until finally Olivia was the only one still alive. But she could feel herself dying.
The Monster stopped the wheel, but he didn’t lower it. The music kept playing in the background.
“God is here, Olivia.”
But Olivia could not feel God. God felt very far away.
“God is here.”
Olivia looked down and blinked the tears from her eyes as she looked into the fire. She saw a great black shape in there, and it grew and grew, becoming more terrifying by the second. She thought of the word she had read next to Sprinkles: Wyrm.
The last thing Olivia heard was the Monster shoot itself.
My second read through I still haven't seen any major issues. I also went back to read the first draft and the comments. I am glad you added the details about paranoia that leads the reader to believe this man is delusional already. As far as the child dying first, the reader has no idea how long the family has been waiting in that room for the girl and no idea the torture that may have befallen them. This would answer why she dies last. You could even reinforce this by added details of possible prior torture to her family members.