Dominic almost had to remind himself to exhale as he followed Rick up the driveway of the gigantic two-story house. Dominic had never been inside of such a big house. He was accustomed to the old busted apartment complexes in Chicago and the trailer park of his great aunt in Texas. The suburbs were all too new to him. That was surprising even in the 1950’s especially since most of the US population was trading up and moving into suburban communities to fulfill the American dream of bigger and better. Rick pushed open the front door and called out to his parents. Dominic followed behind, admiring the beautiful architecture of the entrance way. The heat from the house gently caressed his brown face as he watched Rick move throughout the house calling out to his parents. Rick was tall with brown messy hair and blue eyes, everyone at school adored him. Dominic was brown skinned with short wavy hair and dark brown eyes, he was handsome but he never felt as handsome as Rick.
Suddenly a tall and lean young man with blonde hair swooped down the stairs and stopped right in front of Dominic.
“You must be Richie’s roommate,” he smiled revealing his perfectly straightened and white teeth.
“I’m Dominic,” he smiled back reaching out his hand to the young man.
“I’m Ronnie,” he said grabbing Dominic’s hand firmly.
“Where’s Mom and Dad?” Rick questioned as he returned from the kitchen.
“Don’t know. They weren’t here when I arrived,” Ronnie replied.
“Your parents’ home is beautiful,” Dominic said.
“It’s brand new,” Ronnie replied. “My dad remodeled some old property and turned it into condominiums. Profits were obviously high.”
“Really,” Dominic replied. “It must be really expensive to live out here.”
“Sure is. All the houses in this neighborhood are brand new. I think only like three of them have sold so far so they pretty much have the neighborhood to themselves.” Ronnie smiled.
“Really? Do you know any of the neighbors yet?” Dominic wondered out loud.
“I’ve never met them but I heard that the Joneses two houses down are total freaks,” Ronnie grinned. “My mom said they moved in during the middle of the night and have only been seen when the sun is down.”
“So?” Dominic questioned.
“So you know what that means don’t you?” Ronnie assumed.
“No. What?” Dominic asked puzzled.
“They’re obviously KGB spies trying to infiltrate American Intelligence by posing as normal Americans and hiding out in plain sight in suburban communities.” Rick remarked.
Ronnie laughed and added; “Or at least that’s what our mom seems to think.”
“Seriously?” Dominic laughed.
“Our mom’s a little paranoid,” Rick laughed.
Hours passed and there was no sign of Rick and Ronnie’s parents. The sun was beginning to set as the three boys gathered in the kitchen searching for something to cook for dinner. Rick had never really cooked for himself and Ronnie refused to entertain his brother’s lack of simple home economic skills. So Dominic gathered some vegetables, chicken and pasta and went to work in the kitchen. The kitchen quickly filled with the amazing aromas of grilled chicken, pasta salad and a medley of peppers, onions and zucchini. By the time dinner was ready the sun had completely set.
“This looks amazing,” Ronnie complimented.
“Where’d you learn to cook?” Rick asked, surprise in his voice.
“My mom taught me before she died,” Dominic replied. “She was a cook at a little restaurant back home.”
“She must have been a great cook because this smells wonderful,” Ronnie confessed.
“Help yourselves,” Dominic smiled.
Before Dominic could finish chewing his first bite of chicken the doorbell rang. The boys all looked at each other.
“Dad must have forgotten his key again,” Rick said as he got up to open the door.
“This meal is delicious,” Ronnie smiled.
“Thank you,” Dominic smiled back. “My mom was really good at putting anything together to make a meal even if all we had was a potato, some bread and a block of cheese. She was resourceful that way.”
Ronnie nodded his head and cleared his throat as he asked, “When did she pass if I may ask.”
Dominic froze for a moment then cleared his throat as well. “Two years ago,” he responded. “It was rough at first especially starting college but I’ve learned to deal with it, I guess.”
“I’m sorry for your loss,” Ronnie comforted.
“Thank you,” Dominic gave a half smile.
“I have another intrusive question,” Ronnie remarked. “What are you?”
“Excuse me?” Dominic squinted.
“Are you Middle Eastern or something?” Ronnie spat out.
Dominic rolled his eyes. “I’m Mexican and Haitian.”
“Oh,” Ronnie nodded. “I think we’re English and Polish.”
Dominic rolled his eyes and scooped up a fork full of vegetables.
Ronnie must have been able to sense Dominic’s irritation because he quickly put his head down and changed the subject.
“I wonder what’s taking Richie and my parents so long,” Ronnie said out loud.
Dominic turned toward the hallway leading to the front door.
“Should we go check if they need help with something?” Dominic asked.
“Won’t hurt,” Ronnie replied getting up from his chair and walking towards the front door.
Dominic followed close behind. The front of the house was dark. The front door was wide open and the porch light was turned off. The boys could hear something at the door.
“Rick?” Ronnie called out into the darkness.
Dominic looked into the darkness and his stomach sunk as the darkness hissed at him. Something was wrong; he could feel it.
“What are you doing with the light off?” Ronnie questioned as he reached out to turn on the porch light.
Before Dominic could speak the light flickered on revealing Rick’s motionless body lying in a puddle of blood. Ronnie rushed to his bother and Dominic quickly joined him. Ronnie tried to get a response from Rick but he didn’t make a sound.
“He’s still breathing but he’s in shock,” Ronnie cried. “Help me get him inside.”
Dominic grabbed Rick’s legs and began to pull him inside as Ronnie grabbed his shoulders. He was almost completely inside of the house when suddenly Ronnie screamed in terror. Dominic looked up to see a short woman biting into Ronnie’s left shoulder. Dominic dragged Rick the rest of the way into the house and dug into his pocket as he rushed to the door. He pulled out a pocket knife and quickly stabbed the woman in the eye. She screeched in pain and dashed off into the darkness. Dominic quickly pulled Ronnie into the house.
“That bitch bit me,” Ronnie hollered.
“Shit it looks bad,” Dominic said observing the torn flesh of Ronnie’s shoulder.
“It’s not that bad,” Ronnie assured. “Check on Richie. I’ll find the phone and call the police.”
Dominic rushed to Rick. His shoulder was bleeding badly and his eyes were frozen in shock. Dominic tried to shake Rick out of it but got no response. Finally he slapped Rick and screamed, “Rick listen to me.”
Rick blinked and coughed out, “What happened?”
“I need you to keep putting pressure on your wound,” Dominic responded.
“What was that? What the hell was that?” Rick panicked.
“Rick shut up,” Dominic snapped. “And put pressure on your shoulder.”
Dominic grabbed Rick’s hand and pressed it hard against the bite on his shoulder.
“It’s all okay,” Dominic huffed. “I stabbed that crazy bitch in the eye.”
“What?” Rick’s eyes grew wide and wild.
“I stabbed the woman who did this to you. She won’t come back here after that,” Dominic replied. Dominic noticed that Rick’s wound was bleeding heavily.
“It wasn’t a woman that bit me” Rick said his breathing increasing. “It was a man.”
“What?” Dominic’s heart slightly sped up.
“He said he was the new neighbor.” Rick repeated over and over.
Dominic’s heart began pounding furiously against his chest.
“Where do you keep the towels?” Dominic yelled out to Ronnie.
“In the upstairs bathroom on the right,” Ronnie yelled from the hallway.
“Watch Rick,” Dominic yelled as he quickly dashed up the stairs and into the bathroom.
He flipped on the light, swiftly pulled open the cabinet and grabbed an arm full of towels. Before he could turn to rush back to Rick he noticed that the bathroom window was wide open. A scream from downstairs made the hairs on the back of his neck stand up as Dominic turned to the bathroom door. His heart was beating even faster as he raced downstairs to find nothing but a pile of blood and Ronnie standing horrified at the bottom of the stairs.
“I looked away for just a moment,” Ronnie cried.
“He said that there was someone else with the woman,” Dominic coughed out.
“It’s the Joneses,” Ronnie concluded. “They’re cannibal serial killers or something.”
“We have to find Rick,” Dominic commanded. “How long until the police get here?”
“The phone died,” Ronnie admitted. “They’re not coming.”
Dominic dropped the towels as the lights in the entire house flicked off. His heart stopped as a loud thud forced a scream out of him. Dominic could hear Ronnie’s unsteady breathing and then the lights flicked back on. Both boys froze in terror as they saw Rick in the middle of the floor between them, his neck broken and eyes bulging. Dominic’s eyes began watering as the front door crashed open. As the darkness hissed at him all he could think to do was grab Ronnie by the wrist and run up the stairs.
“Where does your dad keep his guns?” Dominic demanded as he pushed Ronnie into the first bedroom at the top of the stairs. He closed the door behind them and repeated his question.
“In the study downstairs,” he cried. “But guns aren’t going to do anything to those things out there. Did you see how they picked Rick up so easily and dropped him just as easy? We can’t fight those things. They’re going to kill us.”
Dominic slapped Ronnie twice and grabbed his arm.
“Listen to me,” he began. “We are either going to walk out of that front door alive or with all of our limbs missing but I refuse to just sit up here and let them eat me alive. So either you’re with me or you’re on the Joneses dinner menu. Which is it?”
Dominic could see Ronnie searching his face as if he had been speaking a foreign language. Dominic shook his head and Ronnie grabbed his arm before he could turn around.
“I’m with you,” Ronnie nodded.
“Okay,” Dominic searched the room. “Is there anything in hear that we could use as a weapon?”
Ronnie searched the room and walked around to the other side of the bed. He knelt down and pulled out a wooden bat. “My mom keeps this up here just in case someone breaks in.”
“Perfect,” Dominic smiled. “What else you got?”
Ronnie observed the room one more time then pulled the closet door open, tossed aside every piece of clothing hanging inside and pulled the metal hanger rod from the closet.
“I’ll take that one,” Dominic said taking a deep breath as he grabbed the metal rod from Ronnie. “Okay let’s do this.”
They both stood at the door. Dominic finally found the courage to put his hand on the door knob and took another deep breath before twisting it and pulling the door open. The hallway was empty. Relief rushing over the boys, they ran through the hall and down the stairs. Suddenly a tall man with blonde hair and green eyes leaped out from the shadows and reached out for Ronnie. The man hissed revealing a pair of sharp fangs. Ronnie froze in fear at the base of the staircase. Dominic ran between them and wacked the pole across the man’s face as hard as he could. The man hollered as he fell to the ground.
“Which way is the study?” Dominic urged shaking some sense into Ronnie.
“This way,” Ronnie said leading him through the back of the house.
When the boys finally reached the room they closed the door behind them and flicked on the light.
“Where are the guns?” Dominic insisted.
“In this closet,” Ronnie exclaimed as he pulled the closet door open.
Ronnie screamed as the bodies of his parents fell out of the closet. Ronnie didn’t stop screaming until the door to the study crashed open. Dominic readied his weapon as the couple made their way into the study.
“You are nothing but a meal,” the man hissed. “Just like your idiot parents and brother.”
“You’re weak. You cannot fight us,” the woman sneered.
“Death is all that is in your future,” the man grinned.
Ronnie’s scream of terror quickly transformed into a roar of war as he tightened his hands around the bat and raised it above his head. He swung hard and fast knocking both the man and the woman around the room. Dominic quickly joined in attacking the man with his metal rod. The two of them swung and smashed for what felt like hours. They didn’t stop bashing and smashing until the sound of skulls cracking was all that filled the room.
Finally they stopped and with a unison breath of relief they began laughing. They had never laughed as hard as they did those few moments. They laughed so hard that their cheeks began to stair with tears. After their laughter died and the quiet of the empty house sat in they turned to each other and headed towards to the front of the house. The silence filled them with a calming relief. When they reached the front door they both bowed their head to Rick and the reality that they were in a house filled with dead bodies hit them. They dropped their weapons and took a moment of silence.
“What are we going to tell the police?” Ronnie finally asked.
“The truth?” Dominic shrugged. “I’m sure there’s bound to be something incriminating in the Joneses’ house.”
Ronnie nodded, stepped outside and turned back to Dominic.
“Thank you for helping me tonight,” Ronnie half smiled. “I’d probably be dead if you hadn’t been here.”
Suddenly someone swiftly sliced a knife across Ronnie’s neck as he stood at the door. He clutched his throat as he fell to the ground reaching out for Dominic to help him. Dominic simply grinned and stepped away. A young girl with curly black hair and brown skin walked into the house and threw the knife onto the floor next to Rick’s body.
“Why didn’t you give me the signal?” the girl argued.
“I was preoccupied with the vampire neighbors,” Dominic barked. “They almost ruined the whole plan.”
“Well from the looks of this front room the plan went off without a problem,” the girl remarked.
“The safe is in the study behind the desk,” Dominic nodded to the back of the house.
“Got it,” the young girl replied as she headed to the back of the house.
Dominic walked to Ronnie as he clutched his neck and coughed out blood. He knelt down and glared at the suffering young man. He observed Ronnie’s eyes full of fear and confusion.
“Your dad killed my mother,” Dominic finally revealed. “Those condominiums he built used to be an apartment complex where my mother lived. Nineteen people died in the demolition, including my mother. Monica, the girl who just cut your throat lost her grandmother and baby brother. The newspapers never mentioned it and the police never investigated it and yet your family will probably get so much press and attention.”
Dominic could read Ronnie’s expression begging to spare his life. Dominic’s glare turned into a wrathful stare as he hovered over Ronnie.
“Granted that the Joneses got to your parents and brother before I could it is worth it to know that you get to go to your deathbed knowing that your greedy family died horrible deaths at the fangs of monsters,” Dominic admitted as he watched Ronnie drift into oblivion.
Dominic finally exhaled, releasing his sadness and embracing vengeance. He stood up and turned toward the study.
“Are you done yet, Monica?” he called out.
Dominic’s eyes widened as he picked up the metal rod and slowly walked to the study. His heart jumped around in his chest as he walked to the back of the house. He clutched the rod tightly in both hands, reaching the entrance of the study. He peered into the darkness.
“Monica?” he called out again.
After moments of silence the darkness finally replied with a hiss…