Slaughter Daughter by Eve Langlais


I didn’t makea great first impression. Neither did the cop with his gut hanging over his pants, given he exclaimed, “Jeezus fucking Christ on a stick. Someone call fucking maintenance. We got a puker.” The officer skirted the mess and slammed a binder onto the table.

I jumped.

“I’m Detective Olsen. You’re Abigail Smith, daughter of Lily and Geoffrey Smith.”

“I want my phone call.” According to television shows and movies, it was my right to demand one.

“You’re not under arrest. And someone has already been contacted about you.”

“Oh? Who? Did you find my parents?” I couldn’t help a hopeful note.

“I ask the questions here,” Olsen barked.

The situation overwhelmed, and I began to cry. Big snot bubbles and tears, which led to an exasperated, “For fuck’s sake, pull yourself together.”

“I d-d-d-on’t un-un-underst-stand.” I stammered my way through the words.

He uttered a bold, “We have evidence that your parents are the Pentagram Killers.”

“No.” I shook my head. “They’re not.” Not the woman who tucked me in every night with a kiss. Or the man who drove me to school every morning and said, “Knock ’em dead, Abby girl.”

Out came the cop’s phone. As he swiped, I took note of his thinning, short gray hair and angular frame. He smelled of cigarette smoke. He set his phone on the table between us and zoomed in on a face. “Know this guy?”

“No.” The man with dark hair and plain features didn’t spark anything.

“Are you sure?”

I shrugged. “Sorry.”

“What about these people?” He pulled up two more images: a wide-eyed woman and a man with his mouth open as if he were yelling something.

I gasped. “Those’re my parents.”

“Are you sure?”

It was only then I wondered if he’d set a trap for me. Why would he be so adamant? “Why are you asking? Who was that man in the first picture?”

“The victim your parents murdered.” He sneered it, as if it were a fact.

The assertion angered. “Says who? I know my mom and dad. They wouldn’t murder anyone.” Dad was the kind to rescue spiders and put them outside.

“Really? Then maybe you can explain this.” He loaded a video next.

A gruesome thing, the only saving grace being that it began after the murder, when the blood ran slick and wet. All kinds of disturbing shit happened in the clip. Maybe that’s why I couldn’t help hitting replay over and over.

Trying to make sense of it.

The video was of a room with walls made of concrete block, no insulation, nothing to soften the stark appearance. The area being filmed didn’t contain any kind of furniture or detritus, probably due to the sump pump in the far corner and the demarcation line on the walls. Valley areas tended to get hit often by the spring floods, but come summer, there wasn’t any nicer land. So, owners tolerated their basements getting wet.

The illumination came from candles. Bright red ones, fat and solid, those that didn’t require a holder to stand—one on each point of a pentagram. A few more were scattered around the room, causing light and shadow to flicker.

It appeared like a scene from a horror movie. I should know. I’d watched more than my fair share.

The video began shakily, first showing the steps going down then the concrete floor before panning upwards, a slow-motion slide that brought into relief the blood pooling in the pentagram, spilled from a shape outside of it. Or so the video implied, given the body didn’t move.

Freaky to see. But not the focal point of the video, I realized, as people in robes etched with symbols that shimmered when they moved came into view. A male voice chanted, and one of the shapes knelt and placed their hands in the pooling blood.

The other robed figure stood silently behind as the chant increased in tempo, and the blood appeared to steam and bubble.

A noise, a movement—who knew what it was—drew attention. The robed pair turned to face the person with the camera, the visages within the cowls dark pits.

One of them lunged for the person filming, and I heard my mom’s voice. “Don’t let them get away.”

And then my dad’s. “Hand that over.”

The cops wouldn’t know my parents’ voices, which meant I dreaded what came next, recalling the pictures Olsen had shown me. The video took a turn. My father grappled with the person holding the camera, and it fell. It kept recording as they tussled. A hood was drawn back, and my father’s face appeared.

Clean-shaven as of a few weeks ago because I’d complained that his beard and mustache were prickly. I never told him I missed them. His expression was fierce, rigid, and his eyes caught the light, glowing almost red.

The video stopped as a foot came down on the phone.

I threw up again, only nothing came up this time but painful heaves.

“Do you know those people in the video?”

“N-n-no.” I denied it because it couldn’t be real.

“Liar!” he barked.

Through tears and snot, I wailed, “No. It’s fake.”

As he opened his mouth to yell some more, the door to the room opened, and another cop entered. I heard the officer whispering to Olsen. Something about needing to wait and follow the rules so anything I said didn’t get tossed.

But Olsen wouldn’t be deterred. “Fuck the bureaucratic nonsense. This is a murder investigation. We can’t afford to wait.” He turned his mean gaze on me. “Where are your parents?”

“I d-d-don’t know.” The honest-to-God truth. Because if I knew, I’d call them and have them end this horrific nightmare.

“Tell me! Why would you protect monsters?” He slammed the phone back in front of me. The video began to play.

After the fourth time, the cop took back his cell and drawled, “Still going to deny your parents are the Pentagram Killers?”

“I—” I wanted to tell Olsen to go to Hell. I wanted to cry. Puke. Most of all, I wanted my mom and dad to hug me.

Instead, I got a social worker who slammed into the room and snapped, “This interview is over.”