Jesse ran through the galley at top speed. Her long brunette hair was frazzled and a large chunk had been torn off, but she considered herself lucky.
Five steps behind her Jackson was gaining fast.
While Jesse wore a skimpy bikini that befitted the partying earlier that day, he wore something a little more practical. Plain black pants, black shirt, and a cut-up set of dock-worker’s overalls that hid everything about him except his height and face. On his face he wore a hockey mask.
In his hand he had the largest knife he could find. In that very same galley, actually, about ten seconds before he’d started his killing spree.
Jesse screamed while she ran, slowing only enough to knock a chair behind her, then a tray of half-eaten food. She didn’t even turn to see how well it worked but heard a startled grunt and the man behind her swearing as he fell down.
“Somebody help!” she screamed as she entered the hall, hitting the far side when she turned and bouncing to run down the narrow hall.
Five steps down the hall she heard her pursuer enter behind her. He was panting and sounded furious. Jesse chanced a look behind her and saw he was pulling his hand back behind his head. What she didn’t see was the knife; her glance ended and she threw herself left at the next ‘T’ intersection. Even on the massive yacht she and her friends had been partying on the actual hallways were narrow and not very long.
Something hit the wall just behind her but this she didn’t turn to see. Jesse ran up the stairs two at a time until she was on the deck and under a starry sky. This time when she was halfway across the yacht’s large open area she did chance a look behind her and saw that the killer wasn’t following.
Which was how she managed to trip, at full speed, over a body.
“Steve!” she screamed as she recognized her boyfriend even without his eyes. “No! Not you too!”
She screamed again when someone wrapped their arms around her, but almost instantly she knew it wasn’t a man about to plunge his knife into her chest.
“It’s okay! It’s okay!” Anna was saying as she pulled her friend up and away from the body on the deck.
“He’s not here!” Kate told her as Jesse struggled to her feet and did her best not to pass out in terror, “He’s not here!”
“I wish he was!” Deb said angrily, and Jesse saw her redhead friend holding a massive wrench. “The worst mistake he ever made was just assuming I died when he threw me overboard hooked that anchor by my bra-strap.”
Even in her terror that made Jesse laugh. Deb had been stunningly drunk earlier and that was the only reason she hadn’t dismantled their masked killer five minutes after he’d appeared, somehow, in the middle of this lake. If Jesse could make him trip, Deb could break his arm.
“Now everybody get back to back!” Anna said as Jesse stood and started to gather her faculties again.
“Why?” Jesse asked, about to panic, “Do you see him?”
She looked around the boat deck again and saw nothing but Steve’s body, some party chairs, and enough bloodstains for a lifetime.
“No, but I’ve seen this movie before,” Anna replied as she followed her own advice. Her grip tightened on a broken bottle of champagne with jagged edges to use for self-defense. “These guys always pop up where you least expect them.”
Jackson yanked the knife free from the wall where it had stuck in the faux-wood. He was furious.
“That little bitch,” he mumbled angrily as he limped toward the stairs.
More than just being angry at the brunette’s survival, he was embarrassed about how she’d managed it. All the things she’d thrown behind herself had barely slowed him down, but he’d twisted his ankle when he’d gotten to the hallway without any debris at all to make it happen. It had thrown off his aim enough that he doubted she even knew he’d thrown the blade.
“I’m gonna kill you all…” he said, aware that talking might give away his position but willing to take the risk.
There were several hours til daylight and he’d have the boat, and consequently his lake, free of these damn partying teenagers long before then. Sure, it wasn’t technically his, but until some spring break tourists had discovered it he’d been living there blissfully alone. Then these damn teenagers began showing up.
His lake had almost been forgotten after he’d gotten rid of several consecutive summers’ worth of campers.
The thought of more people coming and ruining his peace almost made him as happy as the idea of being alone once more. It had been surprisingly fun to stalk around this boat, yacht, really, and pick them off one by one. He hadn’t realized how much he missed terrified screams and looking into someone’s eyes as they slowly quit fighting him.
At the last step Jackson held up the knife and slowly moved it around the corner. The polished metal acted as a near-perfect mirror and he scowled when he saw his four remaining victims grouped together. This would have been much easier if they separated out again.
He held back a giggle when he thought about the first two he’d gotten, before the teenagers had even realized he was there.
Then his smile turned into a frown as his stomach seized. The frown to a scowl, then a sickened expression of terror. Something was happening.
Without realizing it, he dropped the knife and fell to the ground. Jackson doubled over in sudden pain.
“What was that?” Jesse cried out, looking toward the stairs she was sure the killer was about to exit from. Where she’d been moments ago.
Deb began to shush her, but Anna waved her silent.
“No, I heard it too!”
All four women traded glances. As one they crept forward, each holding an improvised weapon.
“I swear to Odin if you get me killed I’m gonna haunt you forever,” Deb said when the others naturally let her take the lead.
At the top of the staircase she took the turn wide so no one could leap out and surprise them. There was nothing but a pile of clothes and a large knife.
“What is-?” Deb asked rhetorically as she crept forward.
There was a clear view of the staircase and obviously no one was coming. Was this a trick?
“That’s it! That’s the mask he was wearing!” Jesse said, losing her calm and picking up the Halloween mask.
It even had blood on it.
“Wait….” Deb told them all, nudging aside the knife with her foot, “Everybody back up! It’s gotta be a trick!”
Jackson cowered in what used to be the sleeve of his murder outfit. He’d almost screamed when the brunette that should be bleeding to death in the galley lifted his mask upward at a nauseating pace. It was sheer luck that kept him from being spotted but the teenagers were as blind and unobservant as always. And it was even more lucky that the angry redhead made them all start backing away and looking in every direction but down.
“I gotta get the hell out of here!” he said as the group slipped away back toward the open deck.
Whatever had happened to him may have made him half an inch tall but it hadn’t made him stupid. Or any less determined to kill them all.
“I’m just gonna have to improvise,” Jackson told himself as he ran to the edge of the stairs and leapt down.
The fall was several times his height but at his size the impact didn’t feel like anything at all. Each step he dropped down easily though he knew getting up would be far more difficult.
One thing at a time.
Even at half an inch tall he found he was surprisingly fast. But that didn’t solve the strength problem. He practically flew down the hallway and back to where he’d twisted his ankle. Jackson knew killing them all would get him back to normal. It had to.
At the galley, behind a door held open by an amputated hand, he found all the cleaning supplies and tools he needed to set the yacht ablaze and drive the teenagers into the freezing cold lake.
Where they better drown, he thought as he looked up at the bottles covered in warning labels.
“Now how the hell do I get them down from there?” he asked, just as he heard noises behind himself.
“He chased me from here!” Jesse said to the group, guiding them carefully into the galley. “I ran and threw all this stuff behind me, but he chased me through the kitchen and everything and-“
Deb hushed her gently as Jesse’s voice started to raise, remembering the stress of her flight and at the pain of seeing the body on the ground, blood still wet.
“Did he have the knife before that?” she asked, keeping her eyes scanning everywhere at once. Deb paused only for a moment when she saw the body on the floor, but only a bare moment. The killer wasn’t going to sneak up on her a second time.
Jesse nodded and kept her eyes up as they walked into the kitchen. This time it was Anna who bit back a scream when they saw the hand that still clutched the handle to the janitor’s closet.
And Jackson bit back a scream when he saw the door come open suddenly. If he’d been full sized he would have had a fight on his hands. All four teens were there with some kind of weapon in hand. But at half an inch he merely soiled himself and darted reflexively into the vent next to him.
“Nothing here,” said Deb, whose eyes flickered briefly toward motion. “Maybe a rat in the vent but not that asshole.”
“Asshole?” Jackson said furiously as he ran down the vent, trying to pretend he was still in charge of the situation, “I’ll stab you right in the asshole!”
But even as furious as he was he knew the teens had done him a favor; there was no way he was going to be able to start a fire with those chemicals at his size. Then he approached the next open vent grill and squeezed through.
“Next best thing?” he asked himself as he looked at the ship’s electrical fuse box.
Deb signaled down from three with her fingers. On her final fist pump Anna threw open the door to the electrical room. Deb rushed in with her pipe in hand and ready to swing at anything that moved. Instead there was barely enough room for her on herself, let alone a murderer.
She backed out lowly when it was obvious there was nothing in there. Another flicker of motion caught her eye toward the air vent, but this time it was obvious it wasn’t a rat.
“What the hell?” she asked aloud, leaning toward the vent but not seeing anything moving.
“What?” Jesse asked nervously. She and the other three girls were looking in every direction behind them to ensure no surprise attacks from the rear.
“Uh, nothing, I just thought I saw…never mind. There’s a mice problem on this damn boat on top of everything else.”
With that said she backed into the hallway and the quartet continued to search the ship room by room.
Jackson was losing his mind. It seemed like every room he managed to get to through the vents was immediately raided by his to-be victims. The electrical room had seemed a good option, until he realized he was physically incapable of causing anything fire related. The fusebox was both inaccessible to him and under lock-and-key.
At a dead sprint he ran, following the sounds of machinery, until through the final vent cover he could see a well-lit massive motor. It was dead at the moment, thanks to him, but anyone with basic mechanical knowledge could fix it in about ten seconds flat.
“No dumbass teenager’s fixing that,” he said as he climbed through the vent and fell two feet onto a workbench.
No going back up there either, Jackson thought as he looked for any way he could sink the ship and finish the night’s gruesome task.
“This is it, the last place he could be,” Jesse told the rest of the girls, and they all nodded. They were sure they’d searched every room that was reasonable and hadn’t found anything. It was almost more disturbing that the killer was apparently naked; Deb was hoping he had a breakdown, stripped naked and jumped in the lake.
Anna rested her hand lightly on the door handle, waiting for Deb’s nod to throw it open one final time.
Jackson saw his final opportunity to kill them all and walked to the edge of the bench. He peered over the edge and wasn’t sure if that fall would be as painless as the stairs had been.
Then the door flew open and the four teens entered fast, the lead redhead yelling out angrily and all of them moving like flying mountains.
Jackson shouted in surprise too and fell backward onto his back. They flowed past him, overlooking him and making sure the rest of the engine room was clear.
“Fuck!” he said as he jumped back to his feet and took off running toward the wall. There he could hide behind a toolbox and wait until they left before finding a way to sink the ship.
Something clear slammed down in front of him, making him scream before he ran into it, hard. Recoiling from the invisible force he turned and sprinted right, only to realize whatever was stopping him was circular, perhaps ten relative feet across. A clear plastic drinking cup.
Currently held down by the world’s largest and angriest redhead.
“I knew it!” Deb yelled as she held the cup down with one hand, “I knew I saw you, you little bastard!”
The other three all hefted their weapons, sure the confrontation they’d been hunting for was here. But instead they saw Deb holding a cup down over a bug.
“Damnit Deb!” Jesse said, but her aggravation didn’t last when she walked to her friend.
“What the f-“ Kate said as she leaned forward. “Is that what I think it is?”
Jackson railed against the clear plastic but it was no use. His rage was only increased by the faces of his victims leering down at him, first appropriately terrified, then curious and confused. And finally amused.
“Wait wait wait,” Jesse said, barely holding back a laugh, “There’s no fucking way that’s who I think it is.”
“I don’t know what happened,” Deb replied, not bothering to hold back her laughter, “But that’s him alright!”
“That explains why we found the clothes and knife!” said Kate.
“And he didn’t go completely nuts and jump overboard either!” Anna added.
“This is what I thought I saw in those other rooms.”
Jackson flipped the redhead off, then tried to punch his way through the plastic once more. He screamed in frustration when this simply made her laugh, and the rest followed suit.
“Look at the little bastard now!” Deb laughed, “Not so tough now are you? Can’t even fight your way out of a shitty plastic cup!”
This time when he rushed the side of the cup Deb shifted it toward him and sent him sprawling backward. Sudden wind when she moved the cup stopped his attempt to jump to his feet again. He looked up from all fours at the girls and rushed toward them, screaming angrily and determined to kill them all. Somehow.
Instead Deb easily slipped the brim of the plastic cup under his feet as he sprinted, knocking him face-first down on the inside of the cup. Before he had a chance to right himself she stood the cup upward and he fell with a short scream to the bottom. This time he stayed down, stunned, looking up at the cup’s opening.
He bit back his first actual terrified and humiliated scream as she lifted the cup upward. Suddenly he was miles above the floor and in front of what should have been faces twisted in their own terror. Not laughing at him.
The little man was raging against the side of the cup, and all the girls couldn’t help but laugh at him.
“No way we were running from that little bitch!” Anna laughed.
Her laughter only stirred him on and Deb was surprised to see that his hands were actually making small imprints in the cup. He climbed an inch high and she giggled, shaking the cup slightly and making him fall back downward.
Against his will he was taken upstairs, through the hallways that should have been covered in blood and over one of the bodies that he’d successfully dropped before Jesse had escaped him. Onto the surprisingly well-lit deck where he’d snuck up on two teens mixing drinks that they had no business drinking on his lake. And their loud music.
The bastard redhead dumped him onto a table still sticky with cheap beer and hard liquor that no one there was capable of actually appreciating. His nose told him it was good scotch that had been carelessly spilled.
“You bitches!” he screamed, grabbing a toothpick longer than he was tall and charging at the nearest teen, the one he thought was named Anna.
“Oh my god!” she said with a laugh at his pathetic charge. A finger flick stopped his rabid charge and sent him flying backward.
There was a faint, tiny furious scream while he scrambled to his feet. All four teens leaned forward, curious, unafraid, relieved. Amused.
“I’ll kill you all!” he screamed again, but this time when he got to his feet Jesse leaned forward and blew a fast puff of air directly at him. It wasn’t enough to knock him down but it was close.
“Hard to believe this little thing almost killed us all,” she said with a hoarse voice.
“Got enough of us,” Kate said, killing the mood almost instantly.
“Not us though,” Deb said, flicking him again and sending him toward the edge of the table. “You didn’t get us!”
“But what happened to him?” Jesse asked, looking between her friends who all shrugged. “Did someone else do this to him? Should we be worried?”
“I’m not worrying about shit,” said Deb, watching their attacker look around for a weapon on the table. It was obvious he would still do anything to try and kill them.
“Except maybe the why,” she added.
Jackson tried to sprint to the side of the table, intending to leap downward, escape these four, and pursue any means necessary to kill them all. Preferably a deus ex machina that involved returning him to full size. With a larger knife.
“Slow down there, douchebag,” one of the girls told him before slapping the table hard enough to make him stumble and fall.
“Here,” another said, and something massive slammed down onto the table in front of Jackson.
He screamed in fear despite himself and felt part of his spirit die when he heard his own cry. Especially when he realized that the building-sized obstacle was a half-empty bottle of whiskey. Jackson saw his own reflection, eerily twisted and lengthened.
It only renewed his hatred for those who’d put him here.
I’m gonna ki-
Another object slammed down far to his left, but not far enough away that it didn’t make him shout. And he did scream when more things slammed down all around him and before Jackson had a moment to settle himself he realized he was completely surrounded. Cut off. Trapped on a sticky round table by–
“Just imagine how he’s gotta feel,” Deb said, leaning forward to get a better look at him. She made sure to put all her loathing and contempt into her expression. “Half an hour ago he was busy jerking off to killing us, and now he’s the same height of his dick.”
Kate giggled as he flew into yet another rage, screaming obscenities in a voice that sounded like a mouse squeaking.
“I don’t know about that,” she replied, “He’s half an inch tall now and I can see his little weiner.”
She held up her fingertips and held them close together.
“He’s probably still taller now that he ever was long!”
All of the girls laughed again but Jackson refused to cower in front of them. They couldn’t ever see that he was shaking inside.
“No wonder he wanted to murder everyone!” Jesse said as she shook off the last of her earlier fear, “Every woman he’s ever met probably laughed when he took his pants off!”
Jackson looked for a way out, any way out, but nothing presented itself. He tried to run toward a space between half a bottle of vodka and an empty toolbox but someone’s finger easily redirected him backward until he fell from the leftover stickiness of a spilled drink.
“Think this whole thing was about that little dangly bit between your legs?” Deb asked, laughing.
She’s the worst, if I kill her then the rest will-
“I kinda wanna eat him.”
All the girls looked at Kate, surprised.
“What?” she asked innocently, “I can’t think of a better way to get rid of the evidence of this bastard than to let him burn to death in someone’s stomach!”
“I’m sure this has nothing to do with your oral fetish, right?” Anna jumped in with a giggle.
“Well thanks to this pathetic little thing,” she gestured at Jackson who couldn’t help but cower slightly at her approaching hand, “My usual boy toy is now…”
The levity left the situation when they realized what she was about to say. They’d been so overwhelmed by the novelty of the little man that they’d almost forgotten then were still on a boat of corpses.
“I don’t know,” Deb said, turning back to the little man, “Burning to death in stomach acid might be too good for this piece of shit.”
“We could all shit on him?” Jesse suggested.
“No! Fuck you all!” he screamed, more than a little horrified that they were all nodding at the suggestion.
“No good,” Anna countered as she held up a hand, “I cleaned myself out because I thought tonight was anal night.”
At the sound of that, or perhaps at the idea of his pitiful demise being so casually discussed, Jackson began screaming at them again. If they could have heard the things he was saying at full-size they all would have been terrified. Instead…
“Geez, guess he never got laid before?” Anna said when she saw his reaction.
“Probably why his hillbilly-ass came after us in the first place,” Jesse added on, “Ten bucks says he lives in some shitty cabin in the woods over there and got jealous we were actually gonna get some.”
“Makes sense to me,” Anna continued when Deb stepped aside for a moment, obviously looking for something, “If I looked like this douchebag does I’d have ran away from society too.”
Jackson tried to yell upward that he’d been a happily married man for years but their words were starting to cut deeply.
“Honestly he looks like an alarm would go off if he got within five hundred feet of a school!” Jesse said, starting to laugh gain.
He wilted under her words.
“Or a store that doesn’t sell underwear with holes in it already,” Kate piggybacked with her own giggle.
“I’ve got a better idea!” Deb called from behind them.
The trio of teens turned as one to their angrier friend who had successfully rallied them to fight back. She was holding something shiny.
“I say we carve up the little bastard with his own weapon.”
In her hands was the massive knife he’d been hunting them down. That had fallen in place where he’d shrank not far from where they were now.
For a moment Jackson saw resolve waver on his captor’s faces. His victims’ faces. Their eyes flickered from him to the knife in the redhead’s hands. Then to the body laying on the deck not far away.
“Works for me,” Jesse said as her eyes turned hard and back toward Jackson.
All the rest shrugged in agreement.
“I saw what he did to Dave, my only concern with this is that he won’t suffer enough,” Anna said.
“Oh, I’ll make him suffer.”
The redhead’s eyes flashed with sadistic glee as she leaned forward toward Jackson. He turned and tried to run but there was nowhere to go.
In a panic he held up his hands as the knife approached, painfully aware that less than an hour ago he’d gutted some jock who begged the exact same way. Its point was incredibly sharp and he knew in a moment it would easily take him apart.
Distant noise drew everyone’s attention, and for the first time in his life Jackson was happy hearing the beating blades of a helicopter.
“Is that? That’s them! We’re rescued!”
The moment was past, Deb saw, and part of her was relieved. All of her was relieved, really, but she didn’t lose her mind to optimism the way her friends did. Before she jointed them in jumping up and down to get the police helicopter’s attention, she opened the toolbox.
“Your unlucky day you little fuck!” she told the little murderer when she held up what she’d found.
When her friends came back, ducking under the wind of the helicopter and looking for their killer, they found nothing at all.
“Relax!” Deb yelled as a police officer began rappelling down to the boat deck, “Just tell them we knocked him overboard!”
The remaining three friends were all too happy to agree to this suggestion. It was obvious Deb had something up her sleeve.
“But what really happened?” Jesse asked Deb as the officer approached.
“I think I saw him fall overboard!” the redhead replied with a wink.
Twenty minutes later all four of the survivors were safe on shore in a shack that the police had commandeered while they awaited ambulances. It was ancient but warm and out of the elements. There wasn’t any space to take individual statements from the survivors but they all agreed on the big points and it was pretty obvious what had happened.
Old Jackson, a local legend, had a copycat killer. And these four had survived him. Somehow.
Per the girls he had a mask, dark clothes that made it hard to say exactly how big he was and was bizarrely fast. Had survived several injuries that should have killed him. He’d also somehow overpowered each of their boyfriends and several career shipworkers, all of whom had been outstanding athletes.
“Really tiny dick,” Deb said with certainty.
The officer writing everything down paused awkwardly and gave her a look.
“Now’s not the time to be funny, ma’am,” he said.
“Right, sorry,” she agreed.
As the quartet were loaded into a large police van, once the medical teams had cleared them of injury, the beach grew quiet once more. A final police officer looked out at the water, seeing that the boat, the horrific crime scene, was being carefully piloted back to a more appropriately sized pier for a full investigation. Then he left as well.
The beach was almost deserted.
Waves gently lapped at the sand, unseen by almost all. In the distance an owl hooted gratefully at the return of silence.
One particularly large wave rolled further onto shore then receded, leaving behind a curiously sharp object. And a very tiny, but very angry, man duct-taped to the handle.
With a cry of effort he freed one arm from the tape and began working on his other.