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Stiletto Hell: Sole Survirors

These shoes were made . . . for Killing

It was late April. Harold Bailey, stiletto attack survivor, woke up with that queasy feeling in his innards. For months, he’d contemplated spilling the truth to his wife about that fateful Halloween Eve, but knowing how inconceivable his encounter was with the satanic shoes, he could not divulge a word.

“No,” he said to himself gazing at the bathroom mirror after a brisk tooth brushing. “I can’t risk losing my job, or costing my family any embarrassment.” On one occasion after downing a few beers at a neighborhood block party, he half-jokingly spilled the beans to his next door acquaintance, a beat writer for the local newspaper. The man thought Harold’s fictitiously wild tale would make a good story.

In the end, he simply tucked the ‘incident’ deep beneath the pine floorboards of their vintage house. The sanitized version was he stumbled over the towering red footwear in the middle of the night and somehow managed to impale his thigh on one of the heels, although that didn’t quite explain his rabid desire for barbequing them in the fireplace.

---------------------------------------------

A couple of weekends later, on a picture-perfect sunny Saturday afternoon, Harold’s wife Kathy managed to pry her husband away from watching Yankee baseball. Instead, the two founds themselves smack-dab in Greenwich Village, New York City. The two had lunch at Anthony’s Coal-Fired Pizza, splitting a medium cheese pie littered with black olives, onions, and green peppers. They sat outside, café-style, sipping on their matching Corona beers, minus the lime slices.

Afterwards, the two browsed a cavernous used book store sandwiched between two competing antique shops. Harold owed his wife a full afternoon in the city big time for destroying her skyscraper high devil red stiletto heels, a gift from the vivacious Miss Andrea, a passionate shoe-shopping extraordinaire.

Harold ended up purchasing a vintage copy of National Geographic, a 1968 February issue titled Sharks: Wolves of the Sea, along with a finely covered edition of Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea, one of Harold’s favorite books.

After stepping outside, Kathy’s cellphone rang, chirping loudly like a mockingbird. “Hello? Oh hi Andrea. Hey, guess where Harold and I are?”

“The mall?” said Andrea, art teacher at the K-8 Saint Anthony Catholic School. She returned from medical leave back in early January from her fateful encounter with the shark skin pumps, although she was still recovering from the multiple bite wounds to her arms and legs.

Like Harold, there was no way in heck Andrea could divulge what had really happened that night, although her take of events was somewhat of a stretch. And, like Harold, if she had mentioned anything, she’d be taking up space in the unemployment line in a heartbeat. She was fairly certain the head priest at Saint Anthony Parish would assume a certain horned man drabbed in red had taken up residency inside of her petite frame. Not a good thing if you’re working for a Catholic school.

“I’m hanging in there, just kinda lounging on the sofa with the cat,” answered Andrea, snacking on sea salt pita chips. “Doctor says it’ll be another couple of months before I can start kick boxing again.”

“I still can’t believe how badgers got into your house and ambushed you like that; it’s like something out of a bad horror movie,” said Kathy. Of course the truth was infinitely more bizarre. It’d make a Twilight Zone episode feel like Sesame Street. Those shoes, those damn shark skin shoes.

“I know, tell me about it,” answered Andrea. She too had nightmares about the run-in with the feeding frenzied stilettos. The two chatted on and on as the Bailey couple strolled along the city sidewalks.

Harold glanced up at the sky and noticed grayish clouds rolling in. The punctual man cursed himself for not bringing along an umbrella. They stopped at a corner intersection then proceeded to march towards a small park with a playground. Kathy was giving her friend a play-by-play as they strode by a slew of street venders.

“Whoa, check out the daggers on these babies,” commented Kathy as she picked up a pair of gleaming crow black stilettos off a line of folding tables covered in rich colored tapestries. “Andrea, you should see the shoes they got here. Hey, is this where you bought those slick red puppies for me?” Kathy turned towards the owner. “I’m sorry ma’am, what’s the name of your store?”

The middle-aged woman with distinctively olive-skin features and long wavy black locks was finishing up a transaction with a young woman. Her abundance of silver bracelets slinked up and down as she gestured with both arms.

“Thank you and have a most eventful day,” she said. Her excessive eye makeup made her look an Egyptian goddess, albeit one on the disheveled side.

“I’m sorry darling. How may I help you?” replied the woman, slyly.

Kathy spotted the sign hidden behind a pair of towering knee-high hot pink camouflage patterned boots. “Oh here it is, never mind” she said, in a cheerful voice. Kathy was savoring her venture into the Village, now realizing just how exceptionally dull suburban life could be. “Madam Celeste’s Shoe Emporium. Ooh, I like that. Andrea? Hello?”

Andrea sprang up from the sofa, the cat jettisoning off her lap with an annoyed howl. A wave of trepidation shot through her still mending limbs. “Uh, yeah, that’s the place,” she replied nervously. “Hey, can I speak with Harold for a second, real quick?” Kathy handed the phone over to her husband as Madam Celeste polished her sales pitch.

Harold stepped away out of earshot, suddenly feeling weighted, just like his children any time they had to do clothes shopping at the mall. “Hello Andrea? How are you doing?”

Despite the aches, Andrea began feverishly pacing the parquet wood floor in her living room. “Harold, don’t let Kathy buy anything from that woman, you hear me?” Harold wasn’t keen on his wife buying any type of shoes with a heel over an inch high, not in the least, but he did owe her, even if . . .

“Listen Harold,” barked Andrea, getting Harold’s attention. “That’s where I bought those shoes, the red stilettos for Kathy and my pair of shark skins that tried to eat me like freaking Jaws. Those shoes are pure, unadulterated evil!

Harold began to sweat. “Oh God, she’s already browsing.”

“Crappola,” blurted out Andrea.

“What do I do?” asked Harold, eyeing his wife, who was in full shopping mode.

“Damn,” stammered Andrea. “I know, I know. Tell Kathy you’ll buy her a brand new pair of those God-awful poo-brown ducky boots she likes so much. What’s that banal catalog she drools over?”

“Uh, LL Bean?” he answered, failing to divulge his liking for their flannel shirt collection.

“Yeah, LL Bean! Tell her you’ll buy her two pairs. Just get her away from that crazy lady!”

“Okay, okay,” Harold shot back.

“Hurry!”

Suddenly Harold’s near-healed thigh wound began to throb. He turned towards the line of folding tables filled with shoes, a battalion of mix styles and colors. All were of the high heel variety. And they all seemed to be staring at Harold, like they knew that HE knew that . . .

“No, not those!” screamed Harold, as he spotted his wife fondling a racy pair of tangerine orange stilettos with bold black tiger stripes decorated across the front. Both women looked over, gawking at Harold’s peculiar mannerism. Kathy was especially surprised . . . and embarrassed.

The owner, dressed in her familiar ruby-red paisley dress, grinned a toothy grin. “And dearie, they’re only twenty dollars a pair,” as she glanced over at Harold.

“Wow,” said Kathy, reaching into her purse. “I could buy two pair at that price!” She started eying a pair with a textured leopard print.

Madam Celeste raised her right brow. “And I don’t charge no tax.”

“Noooo,” bellowed Harold, as he launched himself towards his wife. He grabbed Kathy’s hand and pulled her away from the cash register before storming down the block and out of view of Madam Celeste.

“Harold Bailey, what the hell was that all about?” said Kathy. “I was going to buy those cool shoes for Andrea. I wanted to return the favor after what you did.”

“Trust me honey, your best friend Andrea wants absolutely nothing to do with those shoes. In fact, it’s safe to say she’ll never ever set foot – no pun intended, at Madam Celeste’s Shoe Emporium again.”

“What are you saying?” said Kathy, dumbfounded. “They’re just shoes.”

“No, they are NOT just shoes,” blurted Harold. “That Celeste lady planted some sort of killer curse on those shoes, maybe all of them.”

“You’re worrying me, Harold.”

Harold took his wife over to a recently painted Kelly green park bench facing the single lot park. A handful of children were frolicking on the swings. “Do you want to know what really happened to me and Andrea that night? I mean the whole truth?”

“Uh, you told me you fell on my shoes and Andrea was mauled by badgers.”

Harold was pulling out his hair. “My God, honey, does that even sound plausible to you? I mean . . . badgers?”

Kathy paused. “Come to think of it, they are quite rare for our neck of the woods.” Suddenly, the light bulb started brightening. “Uh my.”

Harold explained in fine detail the strange truth of what really happened to him that Halloween Eve. He even relayed Andrea’s account. With Kathy’s stunned, jaw-dropping look solidly in place, Harold got up and bought a couple of sodas from a hot dog vender and sat back down. “Here you go.”

“Um, thanks. Maybe you should have bought us a couple of beers instead”

Harold turned to his wife. “No, we need to stay sharp.” He paused. “Look, I know this all sounds Looney Tunes, but it’s all true, I swear. I still have the wound to prove it.”

“So there was no falling on stiletto heels or killer badgers.”

“No, or killer rabbits.”

“Killer rabbits?”

“You know, Monty Python and the Holy Grail? Run away! Run away!”

“Oh, I get it.” Kathy took a sip of soda and sat up straight. “Hey, you know Andrea did mention something strange about her shoes that night. She had cut her finger and swore she saw them . . .”

“Move?” guessed Harold.

“Yeah,” answered Kathy, hesitantly. “I thought she was just kidding around; you know her.”

Harold took a gulp of soda and burped. Kathy frowned. “Look, she and I talked about this in great length, trying to figure out what we should do. In the end, we decided to not mention it to anyone because, well, who the hell is gonna believe shoes are attacking people?

“It’s still rather insane,” replied Kathy, a sensible, even-keeled media specialist type through and through. “So if anyone buys those shoes . . .”

“Now we’re on the same page,” said Harold. “Anyone who buys those psycho stilettos is in harm’s way. We’ve got to stop this insanity today, right now.”

“So what do you have in mind? Walk up to Madam Celeste’s Shoe Emporium with a flame thrower and toast her inventory to a crisp?”

Harold took another drink of soda. “I thought of that, but too many people would notice.”

“That they would,” smirked Kathy. “How about calling the police?”

“I thought of that too, but they’re not going to believe me,” shrugged Harold.

“I know. What we need is a lava pit,” joked Kathy. “We’ll just drop ‘em . . .”

“Be serious, honey,” said Harold. “I think we should follow her to where she lives and then . . . do something.”

Kathy sighed. “Sounds like a solid plan. And what do we do until then, do a stake out?”

“Precisely,” answered her husband, finishing up his soda. “We wait here, and then follow her in a cab after she packs up and leaves. From there, let the shoes fall where they may.”

It was nearing seven in the evening. A light drizzle began to fall. The Baileys stood outside a corner deli just under a formally white store awning. They nibbled on their second bag of M&Ms with peanuts to pass the time. The two peeked around the chipped brick wall and spotted the mysterious Celeste as she pulled up in a late nineties eggplant purple Dodge Caravan spewing exhaust.

The peculiar woman scuttled back and forth until her car was filled to the brim with shoes. She pulled away from the curb, charcoal gray smoke billowing out from the dangling tailpipe. The two jumped out and waved down a cab. Thirty-five minutes later, Harold and Kathy found themselves in a rundown neighborhood in Union City, New Jersey that fostered a distinctively dreary vibe.

The bleak evening sky helped hide the two amateur sleuths as they slinked up next to a telephone pole three houses down. They watched as Madam Celeste backed up the minivan into the driveway leading to a neglected two-story property. In the back was a dilapidated whitewashed barn.

The two moved up to the woman’s mailbox, hunkering down next to a bent up chain-link fence. A line of sad looking maple trees provided sparse cover.

Madam Celeste parked the minivan just feet from the leaning barn door. She got out, looked suspiciously around before unlocking the shiny metal padlock with a key. Harold and Kathy patiently waited as the woman proceeded to unload her evil inventory, making multiple trips before creeping inside.

The two waited what seemed like hours hidden in darkness. A light drizzle began to fall. Kathy quietly called home telling the children mom and dad were running late. “Damn, I knew I should have brought my umbrella,” said Harold. “What are you doing?”

“Just checking up on the kids,” answered Kathy.  I said they could watch a scary movie and make macaroni and cheese.”

“Fine,” whispered Harold. “Hold on, what movie?”

“Evil Dead II. Our trustworthy son says it’s funny.”

Let the nightmares begin, thought Harold. “Okay, let’s move.” The two sneaked up to a side window. Harold stood up and peeked through the corner of the dingy window.

“What’s she doing?” asked Kathy.

Harold squinted. “I can’t see much, the window’s kinda grimy.”

“Hold on,” said Kathy, who pulled out an extra napkin she had stuffed in her jacket pocket from the pizza restaurant. “Here, try this.”

Harold wiped away a silver dollar sized spot. “Much better, gracias.”

Harold peered deep inside. There, in the center of the squared room were shoes -- dozens and dozens of shoes. And against the wall were rows of boxes, all stacked nice and neat, nearly seven feet high.

“You see anything?” whispered Kathy. Harold remained silent, not able to utter a word.

“My God, she’s got a warehouse of shoes in there.”

Inside, Madam Celeste finished propping up the shoes, displaying them in multiple rings like some sort of wacked out coliseum event.

“Well,” persisted Kathy, tugging ion her husband’s jacket. “Tell me.”

The shoes are lined up perfectly, like people at a rock concert.”

“Pardon my French, but that sounds a bit fricked up.”

“You’re telling me,” said Harold. “Hold on, she’s doing something.”

In the center of the shoe coliseum was a three-foot wide terracotta ceramic bowl brimming with a low lit fire. Madam Celeste started chanting in Latin, repeating the same verse over and over again. She sprinkled the flames with a dark powder. The flames erupted. She shouted more, her chanting reaching intolerable decibel levels. After ten minutes, Madam Celeste collapsed to her knees in exhaustion and bowed her head. The room was in total silence.

“It looks like she’s performing some kind of twisted ritual. Now she’s on the floor, praying I think,” observed Harold.

“Praying?” asked Kathy. “Praying for what?”

Harold couldn’t take his eyes off the woman. “This is too weird.” A minute passed.

Suddenly there was a lone tap on the weathered barn floor.

Then another.

“Hold on, I hear a noise,” said Harold.

A few more taps followed. Madam Celeste remained in the same position.

There were a few more taps then boom! The room erupted in tapping sounds like thunderous popping popcorn.

A chorus of circular stomping shoes hammered away on the wood planks like piano keys. Louder and louder they stomped, settling into a rhythmic pattern.

Madam Celeste seemed to feed off the defining noise. She started to sway, gazing up to the rafters, her arms outstretched. The woman revealed a wicked smile, baring her crooked teeth.

The rows of shoes stomped up and down, maintaining their place. It was a flat out frenzy. The shoes kept pounding away. The whole rundown structure rattled. Madam Celeste laughed hysterically. The sound was utterly intense.

The two held their ears. Harold raised his voice. We need to come back here later tonight with reinforcements.” Madam Celeste shifted her eyes towards the window and snarled.

Harold and Kathy jogged a few blocks before hailing a cab back to their parked car in Hoboken. At least the cab fare wasn’t too much. On their way home, the couple devised a plan involving matches and lots of gasoline. The cabbie glanced at his rearview mirror thinking he’d heard them all.

After much debate at the kitchen table, Harold persuaded Kathy to stay home with the kids instead of calling her mother to babysit. Instead, he called Andrea, who had no problem brushing up on some revenge at Madam Celeste’s home, expunging the shoe collection once and for all.

After midnight, Harold swung by Miss Andrea’s home who lived two towns over in his reliable silver Toyota Camry. On the way back to Madam Celeste’s home, Harold discussed his plan in full detail, gasoline and all.

“So we’re gonna try and set the night on fire,” said Andrea, referencing the Doors hit song.

“Funny Andrea. Let’s just hope we get out of here, alive,” countered Harold.

The night was miserable with scattered rain followed by patches of blanketing fog, but Harold and Andrea didn’t care. Despite stepping into uncharted waters, the two shoe attack victims were eager for payback. They felt invigorated, almost like super heroes ready to defeat a criminal foe. Okay, maybe it was just shoes, not exactly Batman versus the Joker, or Spiderman facing the Green Goblin, but hell, those stilettos were scary from heel to toe.

Harold parked the car a block away from Madam’s house. The two got out, braving the elements all dressed in black. Harold popped open the trunk and retrieved the bright red metal gas can.

Andrea came equipped with two packs of small wooden matches. “So where does she live?”

“It’s that one, the last house on the left,” pointed Harold.

They passed a half dozen homes before reaching their destination. A perpetual shade of gray adorned the corner property. “Christ, where did this lady get her home decorating tips from, the Munsters?” Harold offered up a weak smile.

The two huddled behind shrubs and the rusted chain-link fence that separated the neighboring house. The sixty feet of twisting metal led to the back yard, butting up against a five-foot high cinderblock wall. They crept along the damp ground before reaching a large oak tree. “Follow me to the side of the barn,” said Harold.”

The two darted over then crouched down beneath the window. “So this is where the nutcase cooks up her batch of killer Kates and pernicious Pradas,” quipped Andrea.

“I’m assuming those are shoe brands?” replied Harold, not really in a jocular state of mind.

“Or maybe villainous Valentinos, heinous Hush Puppies, or baneful Badgleys?”

“Enough Miss Andrea,” said Harold. “This is serious.”

“Sorry, sorry,” answered Andrea, who had a knack of rambling on in a musing string of thought. “I want payback too. You realize that lady cost me my pinky toe – and it was so cute too, along with my favorite toe ring. It was a gift from my mom you know.”

Harold stood up slowly and peered into the window then backtracked. “Your mom bought you a toe ring for your birthday? That’s kinda weird, isn’t it?”

“Not if you like toe rings.”

Harold shrugged. His thigh wound throbbed again as he pointed the flashlight inside the barn. The shoes were still, hundreds of them, all lined up in circular rows. The fire was out, a slight haze of smoke hovered in the darkened room. “Good, she’s not there.”

Harold got up and tiptoed to the corner of the barn. He noticed the padlock all secured. “Rats.”

“What’s the problem?” asked Andrea.

“She’s got a big, stinking padlock on the front door and the back door has no handle.”

“So?”

“What do you mean so?” answered Harold. “Do I look like a guy who can pick a lock? That’s not my specialty.”

“Well, I’ve had some experience – and don’t ask for any details,” quipped Andrea, who took out a slender black case filled with assorted pointed instruments. “My other specialties include mixed media art and papier mache sculpture,” she said with a smile.

“Papier mache? Isn’t that kids stuff, like making masks and volcanoes for science projects?”

“Try creating a life-sized Great Dane or eight-foot butterfly. Does that sound like kid stuff to you?” said Andrea, a bit miffed. “Mister Harold, you need a little more culture in your life. And I don’t mean yogurt, although yogurt is very good for you, but try avoiding the kind with fruit, that has tons of sugar. Am I rambling?”

“Just a little,” said Harold.

“Sorry.”

“Eight-foot butterflies? Sounds like Mothra from the old Godzilla movies.”

“Actually, Mothra was not a butterfly,” said Andrea. “She was a moth. Hence the name. Kinda rolls off the tongue much easier than Butterflyra too. Ooh, remember that annoying high-pitched squealing sound it use to make? Eeeeee! Eeeeee! Am I rambling again?”

“Slightly, said Harold. “Let’s get focused here, alright? Remember, we’re here to kill footwear. Now let’s get inside this barn and kick some shoe ass.”

Andrea moved ahead and crunched down at the door, ready to pick the lock when a light went on. “Damn, those motion sensors.” The two scuttled back to the corner and hunched down.

“I didn’t think of that,” said Harold. “Damn it.”

“Of course not,” replied Andrea. “You’re an accountant and I teach kindergartners how to trace their little hands to make Thanksgiving turkeys. Super sleuths, we’re not.”

“Well, we have to do this once and for all,” said Harold. “Those shoes are killing people, and apparently, that sicko Madam Celeste has no problem with that.”

Harold scoured the damp grounds and picked up a heavy four-foot long branch. He walked back over and peeked up at the sensor light, still shining bright before giving it a whack. “Alright, instant darkness,” he quietly boasted.

Andrea scampered over to the front door again. She took out her line of tools and began tinkering with the padlock like a dentist removing gunk between a child’s braces. Harold played lookout at the side of the barn. “Any progress?”

“Almost there,” replied Andrea, her tongue askew in determined concentration. “Got it!”

The two shifted inside. Harold closed the door and turned on the flashlight, shining it on the audience of shoes sitting quiet and calm like shoes normally do. “Let’s get moving,” he said, passing the flashlight to Andrea.

Harold began racing around the ring of footwear, starting in the center. He drenched each and every pair with gasoline as Andrea directed the beam of light.

“Look at all these shoes,” uttered Harold, as he finished up dousing the high heeled killers. He spotted the orange tiger print model his wife gawked about earlier, now placed on a shelf by the door.

“Are we all set?” asked Andrea.

“I think so,” said Harold. “Let’s see if there’s anything else in here.”

The two checked out a back room: nothing but broken up old wood furniture and a makeshift work bench. As they headed back to the main room, they noticed a light on from the house.

“We need to leave now,” said Harold. “Oh no.”

“You see her?” said Andrea.

Harold’s eyes got real big. “No, but we may have a bigger problem than that.”

“What’s that?”

“Those tiger stilettos . . . they’re not on the shelf anymore.” The two collectively made a gulping sound.

“Uh oh, you hear that?” said Andrea. “It sounds like . . . purring.”

Suddenly the door burst open. There, standing alone and all dressed in deep burgundy was Madam Celeste. The tiger stilettos simultaneously jumped into her cradling arms. She began caressing them like the supervillain Blofeld and his white fluffy cat in the James Bond movies. Harold was not a cat person.

“Normally my customers don’t survive, but somehow both of you too did.”

“Sorry to disappoint you,” replied Andrea, exhibiting her feistiness.

“And why a man?” asked Madam Celeste, shaking her head. “Oh hell, to each his own.”

“I don’t wear stilettos,” barked Harold, “I’m strictly a Puma brand guy!”

“Did you say Pumas? Oh I think I have a pair of those just for you along with my other big game cat collection. I see you’ve met my Bengal beauties.”

“Why are you doing this?” said Andrea. “I mean, cursing all these beautiful shoes. What did they ever do to you?”

“Oh, I have my reasons,” she replied, cunningly. “Let’s just say it’s payback.”

“Payback?” said Harold. “Payback for what? Your clientele are just average shoe shopping individuals. I don’t get it!”

“Yeah, average . . . although I’d like to think of myself as being a little bit above average,” chimed Andrea, spacing her index finger and thumb for all to see. “I’m an artist, photographer and I also played high school tennis and lacrosse, not to mention that I sing part time in the church choir. I also finished a marathon . . .”

“You’re rambling,” said Madam Celeste.

“Sorry, I tend to do that –“

“Please shut up,” said Harold.

“Thank you,” added Madam Celeste.

The tiger shoes jumped to the ground and inched towards Harold and Andrea. The pair of deep orange shoes twisted and turned like they were ready to pounce. In seconds, the tiger stilettos were joined up by a pair of leopards and cheetahs.

“Don’t do this,” begged Harold. Whatever happened in the past is in the past. You can’t change it.”

“Such enlightening words from such a vertically challenged person. No, you and the chatty Miss Andrea must die -- and sent straight to heel.”

“You mean hell, send us to hell,” said Andrea.

“I was trying to be humorous,” Miss Perky, you know, bad puns and all.” The two laughed nervously.

“No, before I unleash my collection of killer cats on you, I will tell you the truth.”

Harold glanced around and spotted what appeared to be the back door. His brain began calculating. On the floor, the circle of shoes seemed to be awakening like blooming flowers.

Madam Celeste lit a pair of black waxed candles on a circular table near the doorway. The crazed woman stared at the flames then spoke.

“A long time ago, I had designed some of the boldest stilettos on the face of the earth. But I learned at a young age that some people didn’t take too kindly to upstart designers like myself. You know the shoe design industry is a truly cutthroat business.”

The woman paused for a moment as she eyed her ring of footwear beauties. “Those prancy shoe designers stole my ideas! They made millions while I ended up selling shoes at Thom McAn!” She thrust her arms up in primal hate. “And after I was fired for inappropriate designing, I vowed then and there to seek revenge – revenge to anyone who had wronged me.”

Andrea started applauding. “What a speech by Madam Witch. “Your freakish shoes nearly killed us!”

“Well this time I will make sure you die!” bellowed the crazed woman. Her eyes widened as she caught a whiff of the gasoline.

Harold whispered instruction to Andrea. She nodded.

“What were you two planning?” Madam Celeste growled. She paused for a moment, closing her eyes. “Attack!” she yelled in a booming voice. “Attack!”

The two bolted for the back room just as the big cat stilettos sprang from the floor. Harold closed the rickety door just as the heels pierced through the rotted wood, nearly busting through. Harold propped up a chair to hold off the shoe assault.

“Awake, awake, my footwear of hellfire. You shall reign supreme as we conquer the world of foot wear and then seek to . . .”

“So who’s rambling now, yelled Andrea as she pressed her hands on the door to hold it up.

“Watch out for those heels!” said Harold. He picked up an old mallet off the workbench and pounded away at the sealed back door. “Damn it, it’s not budging!”

“Try ramming it with your shoulder,” said Andrea. She picked up a loose plank of wood and tried to cover the holes in the door. Another direct hit and the shoes would be inside for sure.

Harold backed away, about ten feet and then charged the door. Smack. “Ugh, that hurt.” He stepped away, but noticed a small crack. He rushed back again and charged, smacking the door with more force. Crack! He raised his leg and finished the job.

“I got it! Let’s get the hell out of here!”

As Andrea turned to run away, she was struck just below the shoulder by the tiger stiletto. She screamed in pain as blood poured from the wound. “Harold!”

He rushed back and pulled the sharp-edged heel from Andrea’s wound.

“You bastards!” Harold picked up the mallet and pulverized the stiletto. He helped Andrea up and the two crashed through the remaining parts of the door.

“Wait,” uttered Andrea, in severe pain. “Take 'em; you know what to do.”

Harold helped her to the front corner of the barn. “Hold on, I’ll be right back. He rushed over to the front door. Madam Celeste was howling and cursing, begging the new batch of evil soles to awake and attack.

“Hey shoe salesman,” shouted Harold, “your sole is mine!” He lit a handful of matches and tossed them in the direction of the gas soaked shoes. Flames sparked up immediately. Harold placed the padlock back on the hinge and locked it.

Madam Celeste, standing near the ceramic pit, wailed like a banshee. Harold peered through the window as the shoes began awaking, stomping in unison.

Meanwhile, Andrea managed to pick the lock on the minivan and jumpstarted it. She lowered the window and called out for Harold to get in.

Harold opened the passenger door but stood for a moment, realizing he was killing someone. He suddenly rushed back and gazed inside the side window. “Oh my God.”

Madam Celeste began flailing like a whirling dervish. The shoes suddenly began attacking her from every direction like thrown darts. In moments, she was impaled all over like a pin cushion, covered in blood. She dropped to her knees desperately trying to shield herself from the onslaught. Moment later, she lifted up her head. Staring directly in front of her was a tiger stiletto.

“No please! I gave you life!”

The lone shoe torpedoed off the floor in a heartbeat. Its pointed heel slammed straight into Madam Celeste’s forehead, killing her instantly.

Harold trembled as he staggered back to the van. “Let’s get the hell out of here.” He shielded his face as the barn quickly became engulfed in a sea of raging yellow and orange.

For the next twenty minutes, the two remained silent. It started to rain again. Andrea reached for the radio. Playing was Author Brown’s classis song, Fire. Harold quickly turned it off.

“So did she, you know, burn to death?”

“No,” answered Harold. “What she got was a taste of her own medicine.”

“The shoes killed her?”

“Yeah, so we don’t need to feel guilty.”

They made their way onto Route 287, heading towards Morris County when Andrea heard a ticking coming from the back of the van. “Did you hear something?”

“You hit a pothole, I think,” said Harold. “You know Jersey has the worst highways.”

“No, it was something else. Shine the flashlight back there.”

Harold turned around and shined the flashlight. “Oh shit.” A few remaining pairs of pulsating stilettos stood in line like eager soldiers.

“We’ve got a problem,” whispered Harold.

“Tell them the war is over, Harold!” said Andrea.

“You want me to talk to the shoes?”

“Do it, just do it!”

“Uh, just do it? That’s the Nike slogan, right? Sorry. Now I’m rambling.” Harold cleared his throat. “Dear shoes, it wasn’t anything personal that we burned you all back to hell. We are not here to harm you in any way, shape, or form. Please don’t kill us. How’s that?”

Suddenly one of the shoes shot from the back of the van, knocking the rearview mirror right off the windshield.

“I don’t think you were sincere enough!” screamed Andrea.

“I normally don’t converse with converse, how’s that for clever shoe talk?” cried Harold, panicking.

Andrea tried to stay the course as more shoes began attacking. “I’ve got a plan,” said Harold. The two switched spots swerving all over the place on the desolate highway. Harold took the wheel and floored it. At the next jug handle, he stormed through the blinking red light and followed the sign to a secluded county park.

“Hold on!” He barreled through the locked metal post and drove up the gravel road. He slammed on the brakes overlooking a lake. “First with fire, now with water.”

“On three, we jump out and shut the doors, got it?” Andrea nodded her head.

Harold put the van in neutral at the top of the steep hill. “Ready? One. Two. Three!” The two jumped out and locked the doors then pushed the van downhill. The shoes banged against the interior of the van like socks churning in a gigantic Laundromat dryer.

“Push, push,” yelled Harold. “We gotta get some serious momentum going.”

The two watched the minivan as it struck a series of flat rocks near the base of the lake. It flew out, striking the water in a thunderous splash. It remained afloat for a moment then started sinking nose first. In minutes, the minivan was totally submerged.

Harold and Andrea scrambled down the hill near the waters’ edge. “So, is that it?” asked the art teacher.

Harold watched as the rest of the bubbles dissipated. “God, I hope so.”

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A week later at Madam Celeste’s charred property, investigators wrapped up their investigation stating arson was most likely culprit, although the woman’s cause of death was one for the X-Files.

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A month later, a man in his early twenties discover the submerged minivan while snorkeling at the park lake. He took in a big gulp of air and dove down two fathoms. He reached the door handle and pulled. Unable to open it, he dove down again, this time clutching a pointed rock. After repeated strikes, the window broke open. He surfaced again, treading water in the brisk lake water. Just as he was about to go down again, a lone white stiletto bobbed up followed by another.

“Whoa, shoes,” he said, rather surprised. The young man watched as the shoes appeared to tread along in the still water, resembling dorsal fins. “Huh?”

The pair of great white pumps positioned themselves a foot away from each side of the man’s head. In a surprise rush, the shoes simultaneously rammed their pointed heels into man’s ears, killing him instantly.

The stilettos retracted from the lifeless body, then shifted towards the shore.

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