He was saving them. He was gathering them unto his spiritual flock, and he would shepherd them there. He was protecting them from the evil materialism and godless destruction of nature that had become the modern world. How long would it be until the end of humanity was brought about in nuclear devastation? This was the way to peace and salvation, Warren Trelor reasoned as he depressed the trigger and discharged a bullet into the back of Star’s head.
The woman’s bloodied hand slipped from the door handle, and her body slumped with her head coming to rest against the door frame at an odd angle. Her eyes were wide but life had abandoned them. Her mouth was open, and there was a strained gurgling sound, then her body convulsed softly in a final nervous spasm.
Trelor met the eyes of his daughter as they lifted from the woman’s face. “She’s in a safer place now, Summer,” he said. “Lock the door now and wait till I come for you.”
Summer didn’t quite close the door. She watched through a tiny crack as the woman’s body was dragged away. There had been sounds of fighting and screaming, and there had been other gun shots. She understood that the adults were being executed. She had been told to stay in the room with the children, and they were all huddled on a bed in the corner with tears dripping from their faces and snot dripping from their noses. They were past crying, though. She had soothed them, and they were all calm in their trust of her.
There had been single gun shots at short intervals. The massacre had been in progress for only ten minutes. There had been two more shots in the time since Summer had closed the door. There was another, and then another that sounded like it came from the back of the house.
She peeked from the curtain to see Joel Dixon lying in the doorway and her father stepping over his body and stalking away toward the kombi van.
Summer knew what was planned. She needed to get to her aunt and make her stop her father from killing the children. She snuck from the door, tip-toeing along the edge of the narrow hallway to avoid stepping in the trail of smeared blood. She looked in the living room where the adults were all lined up against the wall, dead. She saw her Aunt May sitting on the floor in the kitchen. Her head was slumped forward, her arms by her side. Her hand moved, and she made a sound with her head lifting a little then rocking forward again.
“Aunty, you have to wake up!” Summer implored. She was on her knees beside the woman. “You have to wake up and stop him! You have to stop Daddy,” the young girl pleaded, crying and trying to hold her aunt’s head upright.
There was a loud yell from outside. Summer recognised the voice of her friend Bert Dixon. She crawled past the prone man lying in the doorway and snuck with her back pressed against the side of the house until she could see around the corner. It was her father fighting with Bert. She watched the two men thumping and trying to strangle each other, hoping and praying Bert would win, but her dad was strong.
It had been only a week since Summer’s eleventh birthday. There had been a party where the women had dressed her up. They were all dead now, those women. They were lined up against the wall in the living room covered in blood with their eyes and mouths open. Summer could smell the blood. It was a thick, syrupy smell like sour milk and lemons.
The men had all bathed and combed their hair for her birthday party. They were nice men. They played guitars and sang. They were all dead now too. They were all lined up against the wall with their eyes and mouths open and blood all over their shirts.
“Summer! Now put that down!” Trelor commanded, but Summer depressed the trigger of the rifle she had picked up off the ground and discharged a bullet into her father.
She had been taught how to use the rifle by her aunt. She had been shooting targets since she was eight.
She fed another bullet into the chamber and worked the bolt forward and down. She pulled back the hammer until it caught. Then she lifted the rifle to her right shoulder and looked through the sight on top of the barrel.
Her father was sitting on the ground holding his stomach. He looked up from his bloodied hand and met his daughter’s eyes. Bert Dixon staggered to his feet and swayed there against the kombi van. He held out his hand to Summer, motioning for her to give him the rifle.
“It’s okay now, Summer.”
His voice was strange. He was struggling to breathe, but it was more than that. It was as if he was in another dimension or something, and Summer didn’t believe him—that it was okay now.
She aimed the rifle at her father’s chest, at the left side, imagining where his heart would be, and she depressed the trigger, discharging another bullet that made his eyes pop open and seem to focus on the far off distance.
The rifle was then taken from her grasp and she was led back into the house and into the room with the children. She was told to stay there, and she did. She waited until she heard someone sneaking along the hallway, and she peeped out to see her aunt edging along the wall toward her room. And a while later there were police lights and people everywhere. And Summer made sure to collect her shoulder bag as she was taken out through the back of the house and placed in the police bus.
In her shoulder bag she had her makeup and jewelry, her small beaded purse with her money, and a bone handled hair brush that she took out to brush her hair….
The Children’s Room is a romantic suspense novel featuring two of the children who survived that massacre. The setting 35 years later…