The entire neighborhood resented the Daytons on Preston Place. Sure, Sam and Roberta Dayton had been living in Willow Brook Estates longer than anyone else, but did that give them the right to adorn their lawn with that terrible sculpture? The Reardons across the street had named her “The Eldritch Queen,” with her blank stone eyes, her crenulated crown, and her creepy, expressionless, black-streaked face. It was an eyesore worse than the Dayton’s unkempt yard and ugly house.
Jad Cowen, fifteen, and his best friend and neighbor, Logan Stallings, fourteen, were tired of being creeped out by “The Stoney Bitch,” as they called her. Furthermore, they were sick of listening to their parent’s incessant complaints.
“Goddamned resale value of our house would raise twenty percent if not for that shit…” Logan’s dad said at least once a week. Jad overheard his mom say: “Someone needs to just haul that thing off in the middle of the night…”
It made the younger kids cry, and their mothers usually avoided Preston Place on daily walks just for that reason. It filled everyone with unease, and Sam and Roberta’s vile demeanor didn’t help. Jad knew the adults wouldn’t take action, so he enrolled Logan in a plan to free the neighborhood of their collective burden.
“Meet me by my window at midnight, we’re gonna destroy The Bitch,” Jad said one cloudy afternoon.
“How?” Logan replied.
“Bring a shovel and a crowbar, just in case. I have a plan. You’ll see…”
That night, Jad slipped out his bedroom window into the tall, dewy grass to find Logan nervously shuffling in the darkness with his tools. “Come on,” Jad whispered. He pulled keys from his pocket and ushered Logan into his dad’s work truck on the curb.
“We’re taking your dad’s truck?” Logan said nervously.
“This won’t take long, throw your stuff in the back.” Jad wasn’t worried about waking his or Logan’s parents; the master bedrooms were at the back of both houses, and he didn’t anticipate the job taking more than thirty minutes. He started the truck, leaving the lights off, and the boys slowly rolled down the dark street.
The Dayton’s home was one block down and two blocks over. Jad slowly pulled the truck over the curb and stopped with the rear about four feet away from the creepy stone head. The Eldritch Queen stared at the Dayton’s front door as if ready to come alive and shout a warning should some nightcrawler come calling with ill-intent. Logan shuddered at the sight of the sculpture, thinking its creepiness was magnified ten-fold in the darkness.
“Help me with the chain,” Jad whispered, slowly exiting the truck.
“We’re gonna pull it out?” Logan said.
“We’ll wrap the chain around her neck and attach it to the trailer hitch, then gun it. Drag The Bitch down the damn street and dump her in a ditch.”
“It’s gonna be too loud, Jad. I don’t know about this…”
“We’re gonna be heroes, buddy. It’ll be so fast, we’ll be back home before anyone knows what happened, come on…”
Logan acquiesced. The chain was attached two minutes later, and the boys were slipping back into the idling truck. Fog had rolled in, and the night was disturbingly quiet. The boys had been giving the Dayton’s house furtive glances while they worked, fearing a light would turn on, or crotchety old Sam would come bolting out the front door brandishing a shotgun and screaming bloody murder.
“Fuck, Jad, this is a bad idea…”
“Too late now,” Jad popped it in drive and gunned the engine. The engine roared, jumped forward, and then stopped. “Shit! The Bitch is really in there!” Jad gave it more gas. The truck revved, the chain snapped tight, but there was no give. Jad engaged the four-wheel drive, slid it in a lower gear, tried again. “God damn, we’re gonna have to dig her out…” Jad said.
“We’re making too much noise, we’re going to get busted!” Logan said. He was sweating. Logan looked over at the house, then over his shoulder. He thought he saw The Eldritch Queen’s crown of battlements move in the shadow. “Wait, I think she’s moving!”
Jad tried one last time – he gave the truck everything it had. “Come on, baby!” Jad said. The engine was redlining, the sound almost deafening in the dark cab of the truck. The tires squeaked and squealed, then suddenly lurched forward a few inches.
“Timber!” Logan yelled as he watched The Bitch’s crown slowly tip below the tailgate. “Go, man, go!” He faced forward and slapped the dash, anxious to make their escape.
“Shiiiit! How is this thing so heavy?” Jad said behind the roaring engine. The truck inched forward, then abruptly jerked backward. Jad slammed against the steering wheel, his foot falling off the gas, Logan smashed against the dashboard. A violent rumbling sound came forth, and suddenly the truck was canting forward. “The fuck is happening?” Jad yelled.
Logan struggled to look backward and immediately wished he hadn’t. He relinquished a blood-curdling scream.
The Stoney Bitch’s face was now in full view in the truck’s rear window. Terrible black-stained arms were now in sight, massive gray fists clenching around the chain at her neck. She continued to rise, climbing out of her abysmal hole in the Dayton’s front yard. A knee breached the surface, and the truck was now vertical; Jad and Logan crumpled against the dash, the truck’s front bumper barely kissing the pavement below. The boys were now crying, a yowling tornado of terror filling the cab. The stone-faced queen was peering into the cab with those blank, black-lined eyes; her lips parted to reveal a baleful smile. Rising to her feet, the truck dangled from her neck like some oversized pendant. She took off running down Preston Place, the earth booming with violent, explosive tremors.
“I – didn’t – know… I – didn’t – know…” Jad wailed, bouncing around in the cab like a rubber ball. Logan was crying out in pain; his face had smashed into the side window. Another bounding leap and Jad came down violently on the steering wheel, his arm snapping like a twig.
The jostling stopped, and the boys looked up in terror as The Eldritch Queen unclasped the chain from her neck with massive stone fingers. The truck crashed to the ground, nose first, and the boys crumpled, more bones breaking. Logan went unconscious. Jad fell silent, whimpering in pain.
The Bitch grabbed the end of the chain in her massive fist and lifted the truck up by its steel-linked tail, then began swinging it around as if it was nothing but a baseball on a string. Jad was in a whirlwind, a terribly malfunctioning amusement park ride, his unconscious friend plastered against the windshield in a lifeless heap. Then, The Stoney Bitch let go of the chain, and Chris Cowen’s truck soared through the air. The last thing Jad saw was a barrage of breaking tree branches as the vehicle fell from the sky; then it all went black.
The Cowen and Stalling residences were in complete upheaval the next morning when they found their sons missing along with Chris Cowen’s Chevy Silverado. The authorities finally found the truck a mile away, smashed like a tin can in the middle of dense woods. Both boys were dead. They had no explanation of how the Chevy got there, or why the trees around the wreckage were riddled with broken branches.
For the residents of Willow Brook Estates who ventured past the Dayton’s property on Preston Place, they all found it odd to see Sam and Roberta out front re-landscaping the yard around The Eldritch Queen. Many of them found something else a bit disturbing, yet kept the information to themselves. They felt that terrible stone sculpture, with its castle-like crown, was now wearing the tiniest smile as if remembering a secret joke from a time long past.