Prom Queen Slasher
Third Round Entry, 2019 NYCMIDNIGHT Flash Fiction Contest
Genre: Horror | Prompts: A Dress Rehearsal, A microphone
When Dakota performs in a dress rehearsal of a horror play, a real nightmare plays out on stage.
No joke, it’s actually a dark and foggy night. Which is messed up, because tonight’s the dress rehearsal of our school play, Prom Queen Slasher.
Approaching the auditorium through the backwoods, I slip on a pile of wet leaves. What the hell? It hasn’t been raining. I check the bottom of my shoe. The moonlit fog lights up what looks like a dark red smear.
Shit, is that blood? Or just Georgia's red clay, damp from the fog? It seems like blood, but maybe I’m just being paranoid.
Clearing the trees, I step onto the sidewalk, leaving a red footprint behind. Good thing it’s dark out. I’m scuffing my shoes when she walks past me. “Dakota!” I call out, snatching her bracelet from my pocket. “Hold up.”
She turns, and in the halo of the streetlamp, her eyes sparkle like freaking emeralds. She approaches, her knockout smile on full display. God, she’s so hot.
“Where did you get this?” She takes the bracelet I’m holding out. “I’ve been looking for it everywhere.”
“I found it.” I clear my throat, forcing a smile. “The other day.”
Her eyes widen as she slips it on. “Oh my God, thank you, Hudson.” She hugs me, and my whole body buzzes. Man, I love being her hero.
I rub her back. “You gotta have your lucky bracelet on your big night.”
She pulls away and groans. “My ‘big night.’ Such bullshit.”
“For sure.” I stuff my hands into my pockets. Since Dakota’s just the understudy, tonight’s rehearsal is the only night she’ll play the lead role. It’s clear to anyone with a brain cell that Lark McCall only got the lead because she wrote the play. “You got screwed.”
Dakota twists her bracelet. “So lame.”
To meet our school’s code of conduct, Lark had to water down her original Prom Queen Slasher. In the revised script, the Prom Queen’s mental powers don’t kill people, they just make it snow. It’s whack, and now the title doesn’t even make sense, yet Dakota is hellbent on proving that casting Lark was a mistake.
“Yay for understudies.” Dakota does jazz hands.
“Hey, you never know what could happen. Look at the crazy shade of the moon.” I nod at the amber glow peeking through the black clouds. “Tonight will reveal the true star!”
“Thanks, Hudson. That’s so deep, wow.” Dakota’s pink mouth forms a perfect “O,” and I can’t peel my eyes away. Those damn lips. She shrugs. “Who knows. Anyway, no one’s heard from Lark today. Does she think that just because she’s not performing she doesn’t have to come? What a raging bitch.”
I can’t stand to see Dakota upset. I’m definitely not telling her how I heard that Lark hated her guts. Shit, after that, Lark was dead to me. “You have talent. Lark doesn’t.” I rub Dakota’s shoulder.
“Thanks.” She shrugs my hands away. “I better get going.”
“Break a leg.” I nod. “You’re going to be unforgettable tonight. Like always.”
“Always?” She gives me a weird look.
Before I can reply, Everett approaches. “Hey, Kota, you ready?”
She exhales. “Sooo ready.”
Everett plays the Prom King. But he’s nothing special, that’s for shit-sure. My gut wrenches when he puts his grimy hands on Dakota’s back.
“Bye, Hudson.” She rushes away. I thought I might get another hug, but her mind is clearly elsewhere. On her jackass boyfriend.
The play kicks off, and Dakota kills it up there. She’s so outta Lark’s league.
Everything’s still awesome going into the final scene, the one where it’s supposed to start snowing as the Prom King and Queen walk onto the football field. That’s meant to be creepy because it’s set in Florida where it never snows.
Yeah, freaking dumb.
God, Everett. What a shit actor. He just stands there like the douchebag he is.
I watch for the stagehand's cue to dump the snowflakes. But when the rope is released, the bucket falls hard and fast, like a rock.
It smashes Everett in the head with a sickening crack. A pool of deep red spreads around his slumped body, seeping from his split skull and trickling across the stage.
Dakota’s scream echoes through the theater as a decapitated head rolls out of the bucket and across the floor. That waxen face with glassy eyes.
When Dakota’s screams turn into hysterical shrieks, her clip-on microphone starts to squeal.
That’s when the crowd of stupid parents and siblings realize the scene isn’t part of the show, and they wail as they pile on top of each other in their desperation to escape. Grisly howls accompany the squealing microphone, a chorus to the beat of breaking bones as the audience tramples over itself.
Dakota is frozen in the spotlight, splattered in blood, staring at Everett in horror as I step from chairback to chairback to get to the stage. But my baby is okay.
It was a risk, trying to pull this off without her getting hurt. It took a shit ton of planning. Stealing her bracelet. Killing Lark. God, I hope that wasn’t Lark’s blood all over the leaves in the woods. I might’ve ripped a hole in her body bag when I had to bust it to my car. But I kept my promise to a dying Lark, she got her final stage appearance.
Dakota stares at me, her green eyes black. So hot. That alone makes it all worth it. Her face twists in shock, and it’s beautiful. She probably can’t believe I did all that, just for her.
The bracelet on her wrist sparkles, reminding me that she’s gonna fall even harder for me once she’s the star. And fucking Everett? He deserved to die. He shouldn’t be Dakota’s boyfriend.
And I'm going to be. Dakota meets my gaze, a wicked grin spreading across her face.
* * *
A heartfelt thanks to Shelby Van Pelt, Mel Todd, Katina Ferguson, Roland Royster, and Leslie Colley for being all around amazing help.