Starlight #8: Hurt House
Starlight is a series I started writing for fun in 2016, written in the “style” of a comic book. As such, this is not my best writing, but it’s something I had fun doing.
We open on a crumbling, demolished lakeside property… the same one from Issue #6.
Narration: Sometimes, things are forgotten.
Slowly, we zoom in.
Narration: Every neighborhood has a house- one house which seems to have forgotten to hold itself up. In Ridge Hill, 3100 Lakefront Way was this house.
A bloody hand slams against one of the windows.
Narration: But we digress.
Cadmus’ eyes fly open. He pants, confused. He is in a dark room, his wrists bound and chained to the ceiling. He is still in costume.
Cad (Narration): Crap.
His hands tense, starring up, but he cries out as the chains turn red and burn him somehow.
Voice: No leaving.
The ghost of the girl emerges from the shadows. Now closer up, we see that her skin is pale and her eyes are blackened voids. Her veins are also a stark black.
Cad: Who are you? Why did you kill that man?
Cad: Wait, your name is hurt or you killed the man because he hurt? Because he was hurt? Because he hurt you? Hello?
Hurt turns and vanishes back into the darkness.
Cad: Full sentences would be helpful.
Cad: …Kenny, I think.
Cad’s eyes star up and suddenly, the dark room is a little clearer. Various football players are bound across the room… some bleeding, some not. Most are unsconscious, except Kenny.
Kenny: Thank God, I thought nobody else was awake.
Cad: What’s happening?
Kenny: I don’t know! We were abducted by that freaky ghost b****… us, the Sharks, even that Starlight dude.
Cad: Where are we?
Kenny: Oh. That, I know.
He leans forward.
Kenny: Welcome to Hurt House.
The scene changes, cutting to the crime scene which is not the football stadium. Police mill back and forth, and some sketchy men in black have begun to trickle in. Hanging back, observing all of this, are Nala and Hunter.
Nala: So… what do you think?
Hunter: What do I think about what?
Nala: Ms. Carrie from Carrie, moron. How are we going to stop her and save the others?
Hunter: What do you mean we? And we don’t even know they’re alive.
Nala: Cad is alive. Trust me, I know.
Hunter: What, with your popular girl Barbie spidey sense?
Nala: Oh, honey. We really need to work on your roasting skills.
Hunter opens his mouth and closes it again.
Nala: Mm, the Men in Black have this place locked down pretty tight. There’s only one way we’re going to find answers here.
Hunter: Oh, really? Enlighten me.
Nala: We have to talk to Andrew.
Hunter: Wait, why Andrew?
Nala: Gone Girl left him behind. That means something.
Hunter: Or it’s a coincidence.
Nala turns and begins to walk away.
Nala (Voice Sing-Song): We have to start somewhere.
With a sigh, Hunter follows Nala.
At the police station, Nala and Hunter are just sliding in when they run into Eliza.
Eliza: Oh! Uh, hey.
Hunter (Flustered): Hey.
Eliza: What are you two doing here…?
She is visibly confused.
Hunter: Uh, we were just here to… look for…
Nala: We’re breaking in to question Andrew.
Eliza: Wait, what?
Nala: Relax, Keyes. She was here to do the same thing.
Eliza: How did you–?
Nala: I’m perceptive.
Nala pushes into the station, and a confused Hunter and Eliza follow. As they enter the lobby, Eliza falls into step beside Nala.
Eliza: Wait, do you actually have a plan to get in?
Nala: I have a few.
Eliza: Well, this place is swarming with cops and cameras. Are we going to do something about that?
Nala: No need.
She steps up to the front desk.
Nala: Excuse me, sir?
He looks up, confused.
Nala: Could you point me to the ladies room?
Officer: There’s one by the door.
Nala: It’s out of order. Is there anywhere else I can go? It’s an emergency.
The officer sighs.
Officer: Right around the corner, Miss.
She, Hunter, and Eliza start to head off when the man speaks up again.
Officer: Hold on. Where are you going?
He points at Hunter, who flushes.
Hunter: …the ladies room?
A few seconds later, Nala and Eliza are heading down the police hallway.
Eliza (Whisper): I can’t believe nobody’s stopping us.
Nala (Whisper): The town just saw a low-budget replay of The Ring on its football field. People have more pressing issues.
She pauses at a doorway.
Nala (After a Moment): We’re clear.
Eliza: How do you know this is the place?
Nala: It’s the room every officer has glanced at as they passed.
Eliza: Oh. Okay.
Nala and Eliza step into an interrogation room, where a miserable-looking Andrew is sitting with his head in his hands. He looks up as they come in, confused.
Andrew: What are you two…?
Eliza: We’re here to help.
Nala: We’re here for the truth. Why did ghost b**** seem to know who you are?
Andrew: Don’t call her that. She’s not a monster.
Nala: Then what is she?
Eliza: …Mary Beth.
Nala looks surprised, and Andrew nods.
Eliza: I thought she went to boarding school? Or at least that’s what her parents told me. What happened to her?
Andrew: …I don’t know.
Nala: Back up. Who in Hell is Mary Beth? And who the hell names their kid Mary Beth? Better question- who names their kid Mary Beth and doesn’t expect them to grow up a super villain?
Andrew: Stop calling her that!
Nala: Give me a reason to.
Eliza: Mary Beth was– is– a girl in our grade. She dated Kenny Queens for the longest time.
Nala: Wait, I remember her. She went to homecoming with him. Her dress was hideous.
Andrew: Mary Beth and Kenny’s relationship was… not the most stable. They argued a lot, broke up even more… Kenny would move on but then the next thing you knew they were back together. And, y’know, Kenny is… Kenny.
Nala: Kenny is a vacuous, self-involved narcissist. It takes one to know one.
Eliza: Mary Beth told me she thought he was cheating on her.
Andrew: Honestly? He probably was.
Nala: But that doesn’t explain how she went from a bad knee-height homecoming gown to see-through.
Eliza: One day, she called me crying, saying something about a bad night and some football players. The next thing I knew, she was shipped off to boarding school.
Andrew: This is my fault. I always tried to be nice to Mary Beth… we were lab partners, and she was chill, and she came to me sometimes when she needed help… but whenever she told me something about Kenny I laughed it off. Chalked it up to paranoia.
Nala: You’re right. It’s probably at least a little your fault.
Before they can talk further, Nala’s phone rings.
Nala: It’s Chester.
Nala: Hm. Maybe.
Nala presses send.
Nala: Hello? You’re on speakerphone.
Hunter (Voice): Nala, it’s me. Hunter.
Nala: Not Chester?
Hunter (Voice): What? No. Look, I was doing some digging while I waited for you guys and I found something. A missing person’s report was filed for a girl named Mary Beth McCullough a while ago. Her last-seen picture places her in an outfit identical to our ghoulie.
Nala: Andrew confirms that M.B.’s our girl. Did you find anything else for her?
Hunter (Voice): …Yeah. They found a body. She… killed herself.
Nala pauses, at a loss for words. Eliza’s hand flies to her mouth, and Andrew looks like he can’t breathe.
Nala: …Did they know why?
Hunter (Voice): If they did, it’s not reported here.
Eliza: Why… why was this kept from everyone?
Nala: More important question- where was the body found?
Hunter (Voice): Um… 3100 Lakefront Way…
Andrew: Hurt House.
Nala: Um, who what?
Andrew: Hurt House. It’s a creepy old abandoned house. The guys and I hang out there sometimes, play practical jokes a lot. I remember now, Kenny had started bringing Mary Beth there a lot… she was the first girl who wasn’t scared by our pranks there.
Nala: Then that’s where we’re going.
She starts to move.
Andrew: What? Why?
Nala: Seriously, Biceps? A girl kills herself in a haunted house and her ghost appears and starts killing people. Where else would we start?
Andrew: It’s just a house.
Nala: Nothing is ever just anything.
As Nala exits, Eliza squeezes Andrew’s hand.
Eliza: Stay safe.
As the two girls leave, Andrew puts his head in his hands.
We cut back to Cad, hanging from the ceiling where we left off.
Cad: Okay, new plan. I can’t break the chains…”
Grunting, Cad’s lower body, up through his torso, star up, and he makes a visible effort to keep his head and hands unchanged. Slowly, he begins to float up, until he reaches the ceiling.
Kenny: What’s going on over there?
Cad: Uh… nothing?
Cad: I wish these powers came with directions.
Now parallel to the ceiling, Cad winces, and kicks at the base of the chains with his legs. They break, and he falls to the ground, the chains falling off of him.
Cad: Uh… Starlight? Is that you? Are you….
He runs over to Kenny and breaks his chains.
Kenny: Holy S***. You’re that Starlight guy.
Kenny: You saved Cad… can you get the rest of us out of here?
Cad: What do I do? It’s not like I can carry everyone.
He glances back at Kenny.
Kenny: You want to go get help?
Kenny: Aight, that’s cool. Come on, I know the way out of here.
Cad: Where the Hell is Parker?
Cad and Kenny head slowly out of the room, tip-toeing down a long hallway until stairs are in sight. However, Cad is distracted by an open door.
The room is the same from the beginning of Starlight #6. The ground is bloodstained, and there is a knife lying on the ground. Cad enters. Hurriedly, Kenny follows him.
Cad: Something happened here.
Discreetly, as Cad is looking around the room, Kenny scoops up the picture of himself and Mary Beth from the ground before Starlight sees it. He crumples it and shoves it behind a dusty dresser.
Kenny: Come on. There’s nothing to see here.
Unconvinced, Cad circles back, picking up the knife. When he speaks, his dialogue is in a starred bubble, indicating his voice is changed.
Starlight: What’s this?
Kenny:…I think that’s what killed her. The b**** who brought us here.
Kenny: Come on, we have to get out of here, before she returns for us.
They turn around, only to run right into Mary Beth / Hurt.
Hurt: Too late.
Next: The Truth Revealed!