Chain Letter

Chain Letter by Christopher Pike

Book: Chain Letter by Christopher Pike Read Free Book Online
Authors: Christopher Pike
     of people. And what they find out is that a dark power is at work on them. Maybe that
     man has—”
    “There are no dark powers,” Tony interrupted. “People who talk about them are usually
     trying to scare you into sending them money.” He added, “The man is dead.”
    “Not in our memories,” Neil said. His words, gentle as usual, carried unusual force.
     “See how he haunts us still. And is that right? Does it have to be this way?” He turned
     to his best friend, and Alison could see the pain in his eyes. “Tony, all this talk
     ain’t helping us. It doesn’t clear our conscience. But if we face what we have done,
     we can take away the Caretaker’s hold on us. We can be free. Go to the police. Tell
     them we made a mistake. This whole thing is killing me. Please , Tony, tell them we’re sorry.”
    Tony stood and went to the window. A car door had slammed and he was probably checking
     to see if Fran’s mother had returned home. Alison stared at him, hoping she knew not
     what, only that he would make the right choice.
    “I can’t,” he said at last. “It’s too late for that.”
    “And what if the Caretaker really does hurt one of us?” Neil asked.
    “Then it will be all my fault,” Tony answered.
    “All we can do is hope to find the Caretaker,” Kipp said.
    “Will we kill him, too?” Neil asked sadly.

Chapter Eight
    T ony always spent a long time warming up before a race. His distances were the quarter
     mile and the half mile, but before he even stepped to the starting line, he would
     have jogged two miles and run a dozen sets of wind sprints. His teammates thought
     he carried the warm-up too far, especially when he sweated so much that he always
     needed to drink before he ran, which to them was a sure prescription for a cramp.
     His stomach didn’t seem to mind. He favored a particular brand of lemonade that came
     in eight-ounce clear plastic cartons that could be purchased only at gas stations.
     Jogging toward the ice chest in midfield, he felt exceptionally thirsty. The sun had
     the sky on fire.
    “How do you feel?” Neil asked, sitting beside the ice chest. He came to all the track
     meets. He helped keep stats, measuredthe shot put tosses, and reset the high jump and pole vault bars. He was a big fan,
     though on this particular afternoon, he was only one of many. Today’s track meet was
     the biggest of the year. Over half the stadium was filled.
    “Are you referring to my mental or physical state?” Tony asked. Three days after Joan
     had put on her homemade Bozo outfit—much to the delight of the entire senior class,
     which was catcalling Joan to this day—and the day after he had received the chain
     letter from her, a not unexpected ad had appeared in the paper.
    T.H. Come Last Next Races
    The meet was against Crete High, which was tied with Grant High for first place in
     the league. If he did not win both the quarter mile and the half mile, Grant would
     probably lose the title. Coach Sager had already penciled in the sure ten points to
     the final score. Tony could not lose, it was as simple as that.
    He was getting a crick in his neck guarding his back.
    “Both,” Neil said, hugging his knees to his chest. He did not seem so down today,
     and Tony was glad.
    “Great.” Tony smiled, flipping open the chest, reaching for his lemonade. There were
     four cartons on ice, all for him—no one else could stand the stuff. He tore off the
     tinfoil cap and leaned his head back to finish it in one gulp. Neil stopped him.
    “Let me taste it. You never know.”
    “Are you serious?”
    Neil plucked it from his hand. “Just a sip, to be sure it’s kosher.” He took a drink,
     rolled it around inside his mouth and made a face. “It tastes sour.”
    “It’s lemonade, for godsake.” Tony took the carton back and downed it quickly. Reaching
     for another container, he hesitated. Was that an aftertaste in his mouth or what?
     He decided he was the victim of

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