Part 6 – Elation


Chapter 26

Not an hour later he was sitting playing with the dollhouse, all grins. He felt so content. His problems had faded. Why was he worried about if he was a good dad, or if he was a good husband. It amused him that he ever worried if this dollhouse had cursed his family. But not anymore. Now, he was relaxed. Mark felt enlightened, almost high with pleasurable drug. If he could bottle this feeling up and sell it he’d be a millionaire over night. If he could’ve shared it with the world there would be no crime, there would be no pain, there would be nothing.

Just bliss.

He had figured out that if he spun the stool in the kitchen, the pantry would open. He was incredibly pleased with himself for figuring out the tiny secret latches in the dollhouse. But his phone started ringing. Who would be calling him at this time?

Kelly’s name flashed across the screen. He grinned, oh his lovely bride! “Hello honey? Are you having a good day?”

“You fucker, pick us up from the hospital.” Said Kelly, annoyance ringing through the phone. But it didn’t faze him.

“Okay baby, sure. Do you want me to pick up flowers on the way? It’s just… Such a great day out. We can stop at the park!” He said, completely enthralled with the idea of seeing his loves.

“My ankle is broken, and you dickhead. You ditched us at the hospital. Pick us up.” She said, her voice laced with threat.

Mark shrugged, “Okay, if you say so. I’m sorry that I left you there, I don’t even remember doing it. I’ll come get you right now. Then we can go for ice cream?” She hung up.

He came out to his truck and turned the key. The engine rattled like an old tuna can rolling down the road. There was a loud popping noise, and the sound itself was a big warm hug from his grandmother. He smiled and slipped on his sunglasses, drumming on the steering-wheel. He didn’t even seem to notice when he thumped his broken finger on the wheel by accident. The pain running up his arm from the cracked bone seemed miles away.

Not twenty minutes later he had his three favorite people in the car. And he couldn’t stop grinning looking over at Kelly. She had the cutest crutches. She was not grinning, arms crossed, scowling out the window like there was some sort of spider on the other side of the glass.

“You guys want to play game?” Mark said, his words were happy little bubbles bouncing from his throat. He wished they could go to a trampoline place. Or maybe Chuckie Cheese! They hadn’t been there in ages. “Or go to Chuckie Cheese?” He said, he could hardly stop himself, once he had the thought it frolicked out his mouth.

“Take us home you dumb shit head.” Said Kelly. “Girls, I told you this dollhouse is changing things, and I think it’s affecting your dad more than the rest of us. And we got to figure out… How to stop it.” She was seething, but refused to yell at Mark. In his current state it would be utterly useless.

“Okay, okay. That sounds like fun too! Maybe we could make pizza? I love pizza. Don’t you girls love pizza.? Coralina? Beth? We can put your favorite toppings on top. What if we make it look like a smiley face?” Mark started singing to the radio before they answered. He was drumming his hands, his broken finger knocking against it with out any regard to the pain. Kelly stared at him, and his permanent, glossy grin on his face.

The anger on her face shifted to alarm. But she said nothing, instead silently dipped into deep thoughts.

Soon they were home again, he was inside making pizza. Kelly poured over the books he brought home from the library. She was pale, and terrified. Every time she looked up at her husband, laughing and making pizza, she felt her stomach turn a little further. Beth left the pizza making session, and tugged on her mom’s hand.

“How did the dollhouse get fixed?” She whispered.

Kelly frowned. “What?”

“When you went in the doctor van, with the lights, daddy smashed the dollhouse. How did it get fixed?” Beth said, she had uncertainty in her tone, and shuddered slightly. She hesitantly stepped forward and touched the perfectly shingled roof.

 

“Go help dad make the pizza.” Kelly said, with a sudden hoarseness. She didn’t want Beth to touch that thing again. Her heart was caught in her throat as she stared at the house.


Chapter 27

Thanks for making dinner, the pizza was delicious.” Said Kelly, as Mark washed the dishes. He was whistling, and he seemed the happiest he had ever been in his entire life. Her stomach was churning, but she was hopeful that he would be capable of holding a conversation.

Both girls had already been put to bed, and was just the two of them downstairs. The obvious alarm on Kelly’s face, was meaningless to Mark. She was limping over to him, and trying to get his attention. He was whistling, and winking at her.

“Did you try to destroy the dollhouse? Why did you have the guns out earlier?” Kelly said, completely uncomfortable with her husband’s odd reactions.

“Yeah, I totally smashed it with the sledgehammer. The guns were for killing the witch, but I’ve decided not to, I don’t like the idea of killing people. I will destroy the dollhouse, again if you like! Is there anything else I can do for you honey?” Mark said with a grin as he finished drying the last dish. He winked at her and gave a her an awkward thumbs up, with his broken finger sticking out from his hand.

Kelly leaned on her crutches, but grew silent staring at her chipper husband. It was a complete personality transplant. Finally she said, “Stop smiling! I need you to take me seriously.”

“Of course!” He said, immediately forcing his face into a straight line. He picked her up and sat her down in the kitchen chair, her crutches clattering to the ground. Then he sat down across from her, held her hands, and stared into her eyes. “Baby, you know I want you to feel loved. Is there anything I can do to make your life more amazing?”

“Fuck you.” She said, completely uncomfortable with his weird attention. “Actually, could you stop this cursed dollhouse from killing us all? You do know it’s coming don’t you? One of us is going to snap and murder the others. How can we stop it? How do we stop it? I need your help. Please take it serious.”

Mark’s eyes grew soft, with concern pouring out them. “Baby, I always take you serious. You are so important to me. I’ll take care of the dollhouse right now.” And he smiled at his beautiful bride, and she cringed. Quickly he tried to keep his lips straight. He started whistling happily again as he went into the living room and carried the dollhouse back to the driveway. She hobbled out on her crutches. He was desperately trying not to smile at her as he took a swing. The dollhouse shattered, and exploded into tiny shards of wood and glass, once again. He took his time and soon it was barely useful for kindling. At one point, he hit it so hard that the concrete below the dollhouse had an imprint of the hammer head.

“See baby? Are you happy now?” He said, looking up, covered in sweat. The smile wrapped around his face was bright and happy.

But her nose was gushing blood, and she wasn’t paying attention to him. She was hobbling back inside, on crutches, trying to stop the flow of blood out her face.

“Baby! What happened?” He said rushing to her side. Awkwardly, he grabbed at her, and tried to hug her.

“Get off me! You’ll knock me down!” She shouted. Blood was running down her face, on her shirt. “Get out of my fucking way.” She stopped trying to hold her nose and use the crutches to move faster. A dotted trail of blood was skittering underneath her. “What the fuck Mark. I need your head in the game. How the fuck are we going to fix this?” She plopped on the couch and tightly held her nose with one hand. “You only have two stages left until you kill us. You aren’t taking this serious.”

“I take everything serious!” He said with a happy little lilt in his voice. He kissed her forehead, then smiled at her. “Baby, I just destroyed the dollhouse. I’ll do anything for you.” He said with a smile. Happiness was practically glowing from his skin.

“In the morning, to take me to the witch. I hope she can help us. Because otherwise… We are so fucked.” Kelly said. Then she tottered up the stairs to bed.

Mark grinned, finished tidying up the kitchen and skipped up the stairs to see if his wife would allow him to rub her back. He take sex if she offered it to, but really she he just wanted to make her feel amazing. Like he felt.

She was crying, when he stepped into the room. But he couldn’t help smiling, she was beautiful. He was lucky to have her. They spent the night him comforting her with kisses and hugs telling her how wonderful she was.

But Kelly was terrified.


Chapter 28

In the morning when they got up, they went downstairs to see the dollhouse sitting back in its place. Mark felt a small sense of relief. He was worried that the dollhouse would feel bad if he broke it, and he didn’t want anyone to feel bad. When Beth came down the stairs he tickled her and tossed her on the shoulder and they played for a while. “Okay honey gotta go to work.” He said to his wife who is still sitting on the couch, staring at the dollhouse. She was pale.

“Do you need some water, or something to eat before I go? I’m happy to take care of you darling.” He stepped between her and the dollhouse and smiled brightly at her. “Beautiful wife of mine, how can I make your day perfect?”

The wild look in her eyes paused and turned to his. “Don’t go to work today. Convince them that you need to stay home with me because of my broken foot. Take medical leave, whatever you gotta do.” She said. Her hands were clasped painfully together in her lap, the knuckles white, and she cocked her head to see the dollhouse behind him. Goosebumps were appearing on her skin.

Mark obliged. After all, he loved to make his wife happy. He would do whatever she needed. Whenever she needed. He was her knight in shining armor and he would always live up to that description. She was gorgeous, and loveable, sitting there on the couch, her sweaty hair plastered to her face. He stepped into the kitchen to make waffles, but Kelly stopped him. “No, don’t cook anything. We need to go see the witch now. We have to make her break this curse.”

“Okay, baby!” He said with a grin, and he kissed her on the forehead and called the girls down. “Coralina! Come on Beth, get your shoes on! Were gonna go on a little adventure.” He said with a bright smile. He whistled a happy tune while he helped Kelly and her crutches get to the car. Her movements were slow and her eyes were beautiful as they darted back and forth nervously.

Beth whispered to her mom, “Dad is being weird. He’s too happy.”

Kelly patted her quiet child on the head. “I know. I think it’s from the dollhouse. We have to stop before it gets worse.”

Beth stared at her mother with wide, terrified eyes. As if her father getting happier was the worst thing that could ever happen to them. Kelly understood exactly how she felt. It was like living with a stranger.

They all loaded into the rickety minivan that Kelly usually drove. It was a dirty beige color, and the interior had been covered by marker and vomit long before they even got to purchase it. It ran, slightly better than the truck. But not good. Nothing that they owned ran good. Kelly’s nose started bleeding as soon as she got in the passenger seat. She rifled through the glovebox and stuffed a McDonald’s napkin up it.

But Mark was chipper and put on his sunglasses, drummed on the steering wheel and they drove to the woods. The rifle was rattling in the trunk.


Chapter 29

As they drove down to the woods where they normally hunted, Mark suddenly had an epiphany. “Hey Kelly! I was just thinking. I don’t think that dollhouse is cursed. Or haunted, or whatever is wrong with it. I think, I think it was a blessing to come into our house.” Mark said, with a big grin. “Besides! Don’t you remember we are having a baby?”

Beth was the first child to say something, “a baby?” She said, utterly shocked. Kelly gave him a dirty angry look, they were definitely not planning on telling the children right away. He just grinned at her.

But Coralina exploded. Her fury dripping from a million different directions at once., “A baby! You can barely feed us as it is. You two are shit parents. What the fuck are you thinking! Do you not understand how babies are made?” Their tiny little child glared with such hateful intensity, that Beth curled away from her sister.

Kelly’s mouth dropped open as she turned and stared at her furious little girl. She had never even heard Carolina use a swear word before, much less be able to throw them out with such venomous perfection. Kelly couldn’t think of anything to say to her angry child. The hair on the back of her neck was rising, and she knew… She knew that it would come in like a hurricane. This curse. Coralina had just entered fury, and Kelly wondered how long until her husband was trying to kill them.

If they couldn’t resist it then they were dead.

“You are right!” Said Mark, with a big grin. “We are no good at birth control. That’s why we have a new one! Won’t it be fun? I think it sure will be! I’m sorry you’re not feeling super happy about it, but you shouldn’t be mad! This is a beautiful time of life. And I am sure that your mama is going to get another job so we can have food, or she will stay home and raise the baby. Either way, it’s a beautiful thing.” He said, practically giggling with excitement with every word. The mood in the car was an unwanted rollercoaster. Glorious delight pouring out of Mark, while fury brewed in the backseat. Kelly was mute with terror. Her little family was spinning out of control.

Beth was cowering in the back seat staring frantically at her father and then her sister, then again at her father and then her sister. She looked at her mom, with big frightened eyes and Kelly knew, that her youngest might crack. Beth understood that something horrible was happening to their family.

But Coralina was not done yet, “You bitch. Don’t you know how to close your legs!” She said and she reached forwards and grabbed a handful of Kelly’s hair with her unbroken left arm, and yanked it with all her might.

Kelly let out a scream, both of shock, terror, and pain! How could her own child be saying these things to her? She turned and slapped Caroline across the face. And then there was shock on her own face as she realized what she had done. She had never slapped her child before. Kelly instantly had tears running down her face.

“Fuck you.” Coralina said, and then opened the car door and jumped out while it was still moving.


Chapter 30

“Mark! Pull over!” Screamed Kelly. Fear was running through her, it was creeping in her throat, strangling her words.

“Okey-dokie.” Said Mark, as he casually stopped the car at the side of the road. “What’s the matter?”

Kelly never heard him, leaping out of the car chasing after Coralina. She hit the ground with a cry of pain. Her broken foot had been forgotten in her effort to get Coralina. Pain was crawling up her body. The girl was running. She stopped, only to turn and flipped off Kelly, then turned and started running again. Kelly was beside herself with exasperation, and pain. She could not possibly catch Coralina. Not by herself.

“Mark! Get out here and catch her!” She screamed, terror running across her voice. She had tears trickling down her face. Sobs wrecked her body as she laid crumpled outside the door of the van. Mark casually got out of the car, grinning the whole time.

“Okey-doke! I’d love to help!” He started running, at a happy pace. The same way he ran when they played tag. He seemed absolutely delighted to be chasing Coralina down the highway. Mark was loping along, practically skipping.

Kelly, was struggling to her feet, pulling the crutches out of the van. By the time she was hobbling towards them as fast as she could, Mark caught Coralina. Kelly could see them struggle. Mark with a grin frozen on his face, and Coralina’s big angry eyes. Her hands were clawing at his skin, punching him biting him. He just laughed.

Then he carried her back to Kelly. She kicked and screamed the whole way, as if she was an angry cat.

“Okay I caught her.” Mark said and he winked at Kelly. “You guys want to go out for ice cream?” He said with a grin.

Kelly let out a scream. “You fucking ass. I need my husband back.” The combination of fear, and ridiculous behavior of both of her people that she loved, was too much for her. She felt like she was about to have a nervous breakdown.

“But babe, I’m right here!” He said with a grin, winking at his wife yet again.

“Both of you in the car.” She said. “Don’t you dare let her get out again, Mark.”

Coralina bit Mark, and a little trickle of blood was running down his arm. But he did not even falter. “Okay-dokay! But then let’s go get some ice cream.” He said, and he happily trudged back to the minivan where Beth was cowering inside.

Kelly wondered if they would ever get to the witch, or if her husband would kill them all.


Chapter 31

“Okay Mark. Which one is her house?” Said Kelly with intense exasperation.

Mark glanced over at her, her crutches jammed against the door next to her. She was leaned forwards one hand rubbing on the top of the cast as though it could help the ache that was surely developing between her broken bones.

“Are you sure you want to look for the witch, honey? Couldn’t we go get some ice cream?” Mark said with a big bright smile towards his wife.

“If you say ice cream again, I’m going to take this crutch and I’m going to smash you across the face with it.” Said Kelly. “Do you remember anything about this woman that were looking for? What kind of car she drove, the color? Anything.”

“Hmmm, I think she drove a yellow car.” Said Mark and he winked at his wife.

She stared out the window as they drove past the first cabin. Her lips were pressed painfully tightly together. Tension was running thick.

“Slow down Mark.” Kelly stared at the houses looking for a hint of yellow. He slowed down so that her eyes had a chance to scan the landscape. “Beth do you see any yellow cars?”

“Yes.” Said Beth. Her voice was faint, and she sounded like she was almost in a different vehicle. It was so muffled.

“You do?” Said Kelly, totally shocked. She turned and looked at her young daughter. She was pointing with one finger to a cabin on the left. The driveway was nearly two feet ahead of them. Thankfully Mark was going slow enough that he hadn’t missed it already.

Coralina was sitting, anger brewing. She looked like a teakettle about to blow her whistle. But she was smart enough to not jump out of the car again, probably because it hurt so bad the first time. Her face had a handful of road burn on it, she was silently seething.

When he stopped the old minivan, Mark hopped out and said, “I’ll see if she’s here!”

Kelly’s eyes grew wide, as she tried to untangle herself and her crutches so that she could follow him. But before she could even get out of the car he was inside the cabin.


Chapter 32

The witch was sitting in a large comfortable chair when he walked in. He hadn’t knocked, Mark was too happy to worry about being polite. “Hello! Are you a witch?” He said with very amicable smile.

The lady looked surprised turned her head to him. Her skin was mottled with sun damage, and her face was coated in wrinkles. Her hair looked scraggly and two shades of gray and one shade of black. It seemed to be jutting from her head in an uncomfortable manner. As if the very ends of her hair were trying to escape from her. “Yes. Why are you here?”

Mark grinned again. “Well, I wanted to go get ice cream. But my wife said that we should talk to you first.” Then he winked at her. “It seems that we have a bit of the dollhouse curse on us. So, we would kinda like you to fix that… If you could… Unless you’ve got some ice cream.”

“I can see your stage six.” Said the witch. “Stage step six was my favorite. My husband was the nicest to me that he has been in our entire marriage. That’s what stage six was like for me.” She stood from the rocking chair she was sitting in, amd walked over to her freezer to see if she had any ice cream. “I’m sorry you had to get caught up in all of this. But you don’t understand the man. We had been married for a long time. All I wanted to do was go on the cruise that he had been promising me.” She pulled out a small container of Rocky Road.

“Rocky Road is my favorite!” Mark said with a big fat grin spreading across his face. He felt so excited. It reminded him of that Christmas morning when his dad was in the living room, and he opened the thing he had been coveting all year long. That Nintendo Entertainment System. This ice cream was just as glorious. He had to resist the urge to shout with excitement.

“And I’m sorry your caught up in this, but… He wouldn’t go on the cruise with me. He had to finish the final dollhouse. It was more important than me, more important than anything. More important than our three thousand dollar tickets.” She pulled out a black bowl with a silver spoon. Carefully she scooped a large bowl of ice cream. “Do you understand? That’s why I did this. All those years and he still could not understand I was important.”

Market gobbled down the ice cream like his life depended upon it. He was grinning and smacking his lips and licking his bowl like a puppy not five minutes later. While the witch, apologized again for him getting caught up in all of this. Until finally there was a knock on the door.

The witch had just finished serving Mark another scoop of ice cream, when she went and open the door. Kelly was standing there, leaning on both crutches. Her face was red and she was panting with fury. “Are you the witch?”

“Yes.” Said the witch, her smile half cocked.

“Did you remove the curse from my husband?” Asked Kelly. Her voice was laced with a hint of if you haven’t you’re going to pay.

“I was just explaining dear, but there’s nothing I can do.” She smiled at Kelly. “I’m sorry you had to get caught up in all of this.”

“What did we get caught up in? We brought home a dollhouse for our children!” Kelly’s fury was boiling forth.

“I was telling your husband, I only meant to curse my husband, not the entire dollhouse. Certainly not everyone who touched the dollhouse, lives with the dollhouse. However it works. It was an accident.” The witch said. Then she stood up and she turned and said, “now get out of my house before I make it worse.” The house let out a little tiny rattle, as if it almost screamed underneath her threats.

“Mark we have to go.” Said Kelly, tears threatening to crack through her voice.

“Okay-dokay.” Said Mark

Before they stepped outside the witch said, “your nose is bleeding.”

Kelly touched her nose, and it was gushing.


Chapter 33

Mark drove them home, still grinning. The whole time Kelly was wondering if there is some way to stop the curse. Surely there had to be something.

Otherwise, cursed objects would be everywhere. Everyone would know about them, if they were truly undestroyable. Every few years, someone would make one, and it’d stick around forever? It was already 2017, surely there would be at least a thousand cursed objects. At least, that’s what she considered. They should be commonplace, or at least one or two of them should’ve been famous by now. So that means… As far as Kelly could see it. That there must be a way to destroy them, there must be.

Kelly sat with her eyes shut, and her broken foot throbbing as she considered these ideas. Carolina was still seething in the back seat, but Beth was acting normal. Just a regular kid. How had she avoided the curse? Or would she start sleepwalking this very night?

It was hard to tell.

When they arrived back at the house she immediately started looking through the library books that Mark had borrowed from the library. She read them cover to cover, but found nothing else, nothing new. Meanwhile Mark was in the middle of making waffles with strawberries and whipped cream. He was humming happily in the entire time. She kind of felt like killing him.

What else could they do?

Coralina had not been out of her room, rage had still covered the girl, and by the time Kelly went and checked on her she had been sitting and snapping pencils in half. She threw the splintered bits at Kelly when the door swung open.

Hopefully this would pass soon for her. “Coralina come on try to sleep. It might help. It’s not your fault you feeling so angry, it is part of the thing that’s happening to us, it’s part of the dollhouse. Part of the curse.”

“I know.” Said Coralina. “But knowing,” she snapped another pencil. “Doesn’t make it feel better.”

Kelly almost hugged her, but the angry slitted eyes of her daughter made her hesitate. “Okay babe. If there’s anything I can do for you, let me know.”

Beth was already asleep in her bed.

Mark came over and wrapped himself around his wife. “You want to go have some fun?” He said kissing behind her ear.

“Mark, there’s a curse on our family. No, I don’t want to have sex. I want to stop the curse, before you kill us. Or I kill us, or Coralina kills us!” She said her voice raising with every bar. She was in frantic tears, by the time her speech finished. And she threw herself at her husband’s arms.

He wrapped himself around her like a blanket held her tight while she cried.

Finally they went to bed like that, her crying long into the night, and him happily holding her.


Chapter 34

When they woke up Mark was still incredibly happy.

Which was good, Kelly thought. Because, after happiness becomes fear and then… Then he would kill them. Unless she could stop him.

If she could stop him they’d be safe until Coralina turned murderous.

And then herself.

She had to figure out a way to stop it, before her husband got very scared, and then murderous. She wondered if he would get murderous, and then it would pass at a certain point. Because if that was it, then all they had to do was prevent him from killing everyone until it passed. Like the flu. Or was it a constant state? Would he try to kill them, indefinitely, for the rest of their lives?

She desperately wished she knew.Kelly continued her thought from earlier, that if there was no way to destroy a cursed object, then certainly there would be more of them around. So she pulled out her smart phone and she googled. Cursed objects, witch objects. It was curious, but she found a small town, with a box that they continually referred to as the cursed lockbox. There was a description of it, being wooden, with eyes carved in the top. Everyone who touched it would eventually murder their entire family. It sounded similar, to the other stages of fear had not been discussed. The story was called a myth.

And yet, five families had gone crazy and murdered each other, all in relation to the box.

The box now sat in a museum, and no one had died since.

Had the curse worn out? Or had something else happened? She looked at the last known person who had been murdered, and tried to track who was next to take the box. Thankfully, because the box was now in a museum, there was a great deal of easy to find information about it. And not a half hour of googling later, she found the first recipient of the box to survive. He was an old man now, his name was Kenneth Berkley. It took a while for her to find Kenneth Berkley. The finally she found three seperate phone numbers. She hoped that one of the three knew something about the cursed box.

“Hello?” She said, as someone picked up the phone. “Is this a Kenneth Berkley?”

“Yes.” Said a calm masculine voice. “What do you want?”

“Did you have the cursed lockbox? I have some questions.”

“I have no idea what you’re talking about.” He replied. She sighed and hung up on him.

“Hello?” She asked, to the next person on the list. “Is this Kenneth Berkley?”

“Yes. How did you get this number?” His voice sounded harsh, accusatory and as if he had smoked too many cigarettes.”

“I found it online, did you have the cursed lockbox?” She asked, quickly.

He let out a long breath of air. His voice sounded very raspy, “why do you want to know about that?” His tone was sharp, and he sounded as if his finger was hovering over the hangup button.

“I think I have a cursed dollhouse. I was wondering if you knew how you managed to stop it.” Kelly said, her voice hoarse with fear.

There was a long breath, he paused. Kelly’s heart was beating so hard that she didn’t think she heard him when he did finally respond. “I killed the witch.” Said Kenneth. “Please don’t call me again. I don’t want to catch what you have.” And the line went dead.


Chapter 35

Kelly barely slept that night, running over in her head what they had to do. They had to kill the witch. That horrified her. She had never wanted to murder anyone before. She didn’t want to murder anyone now.

But – what other choice did she have?

She needed Mark to help, he was the hunter. Restless, it was finally four in the morning when she woke him. “Mark baby, please wake up. I need to talk to you.”

He let out a bear roar, slowly grumbling. “Kelly what’s wrong? Is one of the girls sick?” He whispered to her. Rubbing his eyes frantically.

“We have to kill the witch. I think that’s the only way to stop this. You are already on the happy phase. Next is fear… And then you’ll kill us all.” Kelly swallowed and tried to hold back the tears. “I know that you feel really happy, but this is incredibly dangerous. And I am terrified. So far everything we know about this curse has been coming true. Over and over again. What are we supposed to do?”

“Why do we have to kill her? What if she kills us first?” Said Mark, and there was a subtle layer to his words. Like a tremble in his voice. Like a little hum from the television set twenty was left on too long. “What if she kills us? What if we die? Where will we go?” His voice held a soft hum of terror.

The sixth stage.

“What are we going to do if you get to the next stage?” Whimpered Kelly. “What are we going to do? How can I stop you from killing us? Or can I? Do you know if this stage will wear off, or will you just try to kill us for the rest of your life?”

“I think you can’t stop me.” Said Mark, and he burst into tears. Like a frightened child. His body was trembling from head to toe. Kelly wondered if he would be stuck in inaction. If fear would freeze her husband completely.

Kelly could feel anger at his weakness. A big bright wave of fury. The anger was overwhelming, and she turned and almost strangled him right next to her. How could he be so weak?

This was the man she loved! No, she would never love this pathetic man.

And as he slowly cried himself to sleep next to her she laid with her fists clenched, desperately trying not to unleash her wrath.