By Terri Ann Armstrong

Flora walked down the stairs with her basket of laundry, ready to start her day’s chores. The basement
smelled like must and she hated it. She felt it had what she imagined the scent of a dungeon from the old
black and white horror films she loved to watch late at night would have. Every time she went down
there, she was sure someone was going to jump out and scare her.
Setting the basket down in front of the washer, she found it odd that the top was closed since she
always left it open. Upset at her husband who undoubtedly—at least in her eyes—was the one who
closed it, she swore she’d have another talk with him about doing just that.
She was tired of having to speak to him about the things he did wrong. She was always telling him he
never listened and needed to pay better attention to her and her needs if he expected their marriage to
last, at least long enough for her to give him the child he so desperately wanted.
Opening the top in disgust, she separated her laundry into piles and picked up the darks to throw them
in. After putting in the last piece of clothing, she didn’t understand why it was so close to the top. She
didn’t have very many pieces; it shouldn’t have been so full.
Taking them out one by one, she reached in to grab the last garment and felt something almost furry.
She was sure the family cat, ‘Horace’ was actually the one who accidentally closed the top on himself after
climbing in the way he loved to do, and felt rather guilty for thinking her husband Malcolm did it.
Fearing the worst, she slowly leaned down to peek inside the washer. The light was poor at best in the
far corner where the washer sat, so it was difficult to see Horace. Closing her eyes, Flora reached inside
and immediately dropped her ‘find’ back inside the washer and screamed!
It wasn’t Horace, it was a human head!
Seeing her ‘catch’ so fast, she didn’t have time to see if she knew who it was and wasn’t about to pick it
back up to check. Running upstairs, she ran straight for the telephone. No dial tone.
Of course, she thought to herself. I’m in hell.
Racing upstairs to find her purse to use her cell phone, she could feel her body sweating from every
pore. Her purse was on the bed, but no cell phone was inside.
I’m sleeping; I have to be. This is a nightmare and I’m going to wake up any minute. Shaking, she ran
back downstairs to run next door and use the neighbor’s telephone.
Ringing her neighbor’s bell while simultaneously banging on the door, she yelled for Mr. Porter to answer
the door. When he didn’t answer, she tried Mrs. Lindley on the other side; again no answer. She peeked
inside the windows that were on either side of the front door and gasped.
In the foyer was Mrs. Lindley’s decapitated body. Oh my god, she thought. I have to go back in that
house and get my keys so I can drive to the police station.
Scared to death, she took a deep breath and ran through the front door of her home and back up the
stairs to her bedroom to grab her purse.
Hurrying down the stairs, she grabbed the knob to open the door and couldn’t. It appeared to be locked
or jammed from the outside. With no time to think about how to get out that way, she ran through the
long hall leading to the kitchen to try the back door, still no way to open that door either.
Standing in the middle of the kitchen, she had the presence of forethought to lock the basement door.
At least if whoever did this to poor, old Mrs. Lindley was still in the basement, they couldn’t get back
inside her house.
Roaming from room to room, she looked for something to use as a weapon. All Malcolm’s tools were
down cellar on his tool bench. He didn’t collect guns or anything so she was out of luck there. Quickly,
she ran back down to the kitchen to get a butcher knife.
At least I’ll have something to defend myself with, she thought.
Sitting in the far corner of the living room, holding the knife in a way that she could use it as a weapon
immediately, she shook uncontrollably. Malcolm wouldn’t be home for two more hours and with no way
out, she had no choice but to wait, by herself, inside.
Watching the minutes tick by on the mantle clock was beginning to get on Flora’s nerves. She couldn’t
stand it anymore and went into the kitchen to make some tea, wielding her weapon all the way.
Sitting back in the now darkened living room with her tea, she tried to calm her still jangling nerves.
Hearing the back screen door open, she feared her life was in peril.
Slowing getting to her feet, she put her tea cup down on the coffee table and readied herself to fight.
Suddenly, the back door burst open, slamming into the wall.
“Who’s there?” she screamed. “I have a knife; I’m not afraid of you. Come out and show yourself.”
Out of the shadows stepped a figure, dressed completely in black, including a ski-hat pulled down over
their face. All she could see were the piercing, blue eyes that glowed with anger, cutting through the
In a gruff, low rumbling voice, the figure said, “Drop the knife and maybe I won’t hurt you.”
“Like hell I will.”
Walking slowly toward her, watching the hand that held the knife, the figure said, “Fine, have it your way.”
Lunging at her, she was startled and dropped the knife, running upstairs into her bedroom and locking
the door behind her.
Backing up against the bureau, she shook like a dried-up leaf in the autumn wind. Her knees felt like jelly
and she was afraid they would buckle at any moment.
Once again, the door was busted open and she stood there, frozen in fear.
“Please, I don’t know who you are or why you killed poor Mrs. Lindley, but please, don’t hurt me. I’ll give
you whatever you want.”
“I don’t want anything…but your life.”
The voice began to sound vaguely familiar to her. She wasn’t sure if it was because she was so scared or
if it was real.
Carefully, she asked, “Do I know you?”
“You know nothing!” boomed the voice.
Just then Horace ran out from under the bed and down the stairs. She couldn’t help but be grateful he
was alright; she could only hope it would stay that way once she met with whatever fate had in mind.
Without warning, the figure again lunged for her. Only this time the outcome was different, she was
Struggling to break free of the vice that squeezed her, she managed to run back downstairs toward the
basement door. Frantically, she opened the door and flew down the stairs, hiding behind some boxes.
The figure followed her down there and began a search.
“Come out; come out, wherever you are.”
She could hear her own breathing and desperately tried to squelch it so not to be heard. Peeking around
the corner, she immediately knew it was a mistake. The figure was standing right there.
She screamed, “Don’t hurt me.”
Grabbing her by the wrists, she was pulled up to her feet and dragged over to the tool bench. Trying to
keep hold of her, the figure rifled through the tools trying to find a handsaw.
As the figure bent down, Flora tore off the ski-hat and gasped.
“Malcolm! Let me go! Oh my god; what is wrong with you?”
“Shut up!” he spat. “You are never again going to give me an hour long lecture over what I don’t do
right. I’m sick and tired of your nagging and constant bitching over everything.”
“You killed Mrs. Langley?”
“And Mr. Porter, don’t forget old Artie. He was fun; he struggled a lot and screamed like a goddamn girl.”
“You’re sick! I said, let me go!”
Pulling as hard as she could and pushing him away at the same time, she broke free and Malcolm went
flying, banging into the washer and falling to the ground.
Grabbing an awl from the bench, she lunged for him, stabbing him in the neck. Over and over she poked
him screaming, “Die you son-of-a-bitch!”
Feeling rather confident he was finally dead, she stepped back and wiped the sweat from her brow.
After a few minutes, she stood over Malcolm’s lifeless body and asked herself, “Now what am I going to
She could literally feel the light bulb go on inside her head. I know, she thought. I have just the thing.
Going back over to the tool bench, she found the hacksaw. Walking back over to her husband’s body,
she leaned over, picked up his head by the hair and sawed it off. Blood was everywhere, but she didn’t
Throwing it to one side, she began to cut off his limbs and saw his body into small pieces. Putting all the
pieces in a large, doubled trash bag, she dragged it outside to the back yard. Inside the shed, she
pushed the wood chipper outside into their spacious yard and pulled the cord to start it.
Opening the bag, she methodically and coldly picked up Malcolm’s chopped up body pieces and fed them
into the chipper, one by one. When she was through, she crumpled the trash bag up and threw it in the
garbage pail on the side of the shed and went back inside.
Down in the basement, she knew exactly what she had to do next. Taking Mrs. Lindley’s head out of the
washer was a less than pleasant experience since she really liked her. Carefully, she put it in an old
backpack that was on the shelf on the wall behind her and laid it on the floor. She planned on putting it
in the garbage pail along with the bag outside next to the shed.
Next, she picked up Malcolm’s head; blood still trickling out of the neck portion. Without hesitation, she
put it inside the washing machine and poured in a capful of laundry soap. Shutting the top, she set it for
a ten minute cycle and sat on the stairs waiting.
Just then, Horace came waltzing over to her without hesitation looking for the attention he constantly
craved. She picked him up and placed him on her lap.
Petting him with a long, loving stroke, she asked, “Who needs shampoo?”
Who Needs