"...well, yeah, when I was in Vietnam I had to kill people. I killed a lot of people. It was kinda cool, ya know," Linus was saying into the phone. Jillian stared at him, his back to her as he looked through the fridge for more food. She knew he couldn't have been in Vietnam, he had to be younger than her and she was only just into her thirties.
"Of course I can still kill people," said Linus. There was a pause as the Voice on the other end of the line must have said something. "Damn straight I can!" said Linus straightening from the fridge, something in his hand. Her turned round and saw Jillian staring at him.
"Gotta go, man, the little woman's here and she's looking righteous," he said, his voice suddenly dropping into a lazy drawl. He hung up and dropped the phone on a counter top. Jillian realised he was holding a carton of cranberry juice.
"You heard some of that, huh?" he said. His face seemed shadowed to Jillian, despite the bright sunlight coming through the windows.
"You said you were in Vietnam."
"Yeah, man, that was some trip. Thought I'd never see the out of that jungle. Nothing but rain to drink and rats to eat. And people of course, there was always dead people to eat, but we're not supposed to talk about that." His eyes narrowed, "Capisce?"
Jillian nodded, wondering what Linus was talking about.
"This is the Voice you've been hearing, is it?" he said, his voice suddenly loud. "This guy who just wants to talk, maybe hire a guy to do a job?"
"No, the Voice is just evil!" Jillian realised she'd shouted back.
"I don't think I believe you, little Jilly, I think you want this gig all for yourself. What did he tell you, huh? You think you've got the guts to do all this? I think you're after it all for yourself and you think you can scare us off with your silly tales of Hounds. Silly Jilly! Silly, silly Jilly!"
It was a flashback to being eight again, stood in the school playground with a bigger boy taunting her, calling her Silly Jilly over and over again. She took a step forward, her hands clenching into fists.
"I'm not silly!" she said, and stepped forwards again. "I'm not making it up, it's all real! The Voice is evil and it's let the Hounds out to keep us here until it gets here. We're all going to die, and it'll be all your fault, all of you! You won't listen to me!"
"Silly Jilly," said Linus again, and moved like a snake striking. The cranberry juice fell to the floor and burst spraying bright red juice across the kitchen floor and cupboards, and Linus seized Jillian's arm and spun her round, wrapping his free arm around her neck. She caught her breath just as he started to squeeze, and then he was dragging her backwards, her feet scraping across the floor. She felt first one shoe then the other catch on the flagged floor and pull off, so she was now barefoot.
"This way, little Jilly," said Linus in a sing-song tone. "There's a place for you back here, and some new friends for you to make. The man says so."
She tried to scream but she couldn't breath in, and her throat barely squeaked when she tried anyway. The wooden lintel of a doorway passed by her line of sight, which was starting to go black at the edges.
"Just through here, and then a left here, and there we go," said Linus. She was spun round again and smacked into a wall. She gasped, a reflex action to pull fresh air into her lungs as fast as possible, and was still leaning against the wall when he grabbed her again. He pulled her to him, then pushed her arm and she stumbled away, through another doorway into a dark room.
"Silly Jilly," said Linus and closed the door. She heard the snick of a key turning in a lock.
She remained calm while she explored the room, feeling her way around the walls and discovering a staircase that seemed to go down. Then she found a lightswitch near the door she'd come in by, and pressed it, cursing her luck that she'd gone the wrong way and taken so long to find it. The light came on, a red bulb as if this were a photographic darkroom, and she looked around.
When she saw the body hanging from a butcher's hook in the corner of the room, its throat cut and its clothing soaked with blood, she started screaming.