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In other news, the infamous Valley Villain, well known around the town of Hodge for his abduction’s and murder’s of helpless young men and women, is scheduled to be executed Thursday, June 22 at 6:15pm by lethal injection. He was convicted over three years ago and is now nearing the end of his dreaded reign. He horrified the town of Hodge for 16 months during this saga. He would abduct unsuspecting teenagers and tie them up in the basement of his home three miles from the town meat market where he worked. He would then decapitate them, and keep their heads for trophies. The police had an easy time catching and prosecuting him because he left his victims’ heads in his basement floating in jars. Gruesome as this crime seemed, all the people who knew Victor Valaho, the town butcher of Clean Cuts, a subsidiary of Labinnac Cuts, would describe him as a friendly and polite person that kept to himself. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to death. Although he was prosecuted and sentenced easily, he never revealed the whereabouts of the bodies and they were never found. This disturbed many people and led to an extended investigation that never uncovered the bodies. Some people speculated that he ate his victims. Since he was the only butcher in town there was other speculation that we all ate them.

“He wouldn’t have eaten me.”

“Aw hell, how do you know?  I’m sure that’s the same thing his other victims said.” 

“Because I aint stupid and I aint scared,” Mark said with a confident look on his young face.

“I bet you’d be scared to even go near his mother’s gravestone,” challenged Lorenzo with his eyebrows raised to the sky.

“Ok, you’re on.  I’ll go right now,” Mark said bravely.

“Oh no, it wont be that easy,” replied Lorenzo with a cynical look on his face.  “It’s too much light right now, lets wait until dark, say…tonight?”

Mark clinched his lips and swallowed hard because he really was scared.  How could he wiggle his way out of this one?  There is no way to back out and still save face.  He shook his head as a gesture of acceptance and started to gather his things.

“Where you going Mark,” Lorenzo asked with a smirk on his face?

“Home, I have to prepare for tonight.”

“You mean you have to muster up enough nerve to do it.  If you’re scared just say you’re scared.  We haven’t even finished our homework.”

“I aint scared and you wont hear that come from these lips,” Mark said halfheartedly while beating himself up inside.  “We’ll finish the rest of our work on the bus in the morning.”

“Alright, I hope to see your name chiseled on the headstone by tonight then.  We can go anytime after midnight.  I may be sleep so call me before you leave so I can meet you there OK?”

“OK,” Mark murmured.

This just in – the Valley Villain, who was scheduled to be executed tomorrow, has escaped Hodge’s maximum security prison and is at large.  The people of Hodge and the surrounding counties are advised to practice caution in light of this new development.  There is a one million dollar reward for any information leading to his capture.  Anyone who sees this man please do not try to apprehend him yourself, contact the authorities.  He is considered armed and extremely dangerous.  For more information contact…

Mark was scared to say the least.  These types of pranks are the kind he wished he never had to perform for his friends.  He swallowed hard and walked through the graveyard.  His head was on a frantic swivel looking for the slightest movement.  The night sounds had him on edge as he moved closer to his destination.  The task was to merely chisel his name on the headstone of Victoria Valaho, the Valley Villain’s mother.

     Mark had no idea why he was there, but wanted to save face, so he took on the task.  He thought about what his dad told him one day, “No one should feel insecure enough in who they are to do things that scare them or are immoral, to impress other people.”  Well he never listened to his dad before so why start.  The task should take no more than thirty minutes he thought as he produced his hammer and chisel from his book bag.  Mark quickly started to complete his work while periodically looking over his shoulders.  It took him about ten minutes to complete his tag, and afterward was gladly on his way.  Mark wondered where Lorenzo was while he hurriedly walked home.  Mark had called him before he left and Lorenzo was supposed to meet him at the graveyard.  Mark shrugged it off and told himself that Lorenzo probably fell back to sleep or better yet…he was the one that was scared. 

“Lorenzo will see what I have done tomorrow and I’ll make him eat every single word.  This will clear up every doubt he had in his sick little mind,” Mark whispered to himself.  Mark felt invigorated that he would never have to do anything that makes him feel uncomfortable again.

            The next day at school Mark bragged to his high school friends Turk and Bradshaw about how he had completed the task. 

            “I wasn’t scared at all.”  Mark said with a smirk.

            “Mark, you can say that now but we know you better than that, you were scared.”  Turk said skeptically while grabbing an apple from the lunch table.

            “Yeah, I bet you were scared.  I know I was when I had to jump that creek out in Lexingburg.”  Bradshaw replied giggling softly as he sat down at the senior table.

     Turk was the college prep type.  He was very smart for his age and his family had plenty of money.  He thought he was God’s gift to women and he was very conceded.  That’s why they all looked up to him, because they thought he had it all; good looks, money, and brains.  Now Bradshaw was a different story.  He was a follower and doing what was required of him.  He was strong as an ox but gentle as an alley cat.  People who kept him around, kept him bound by his loyalty and easily influenced him.  He was never taken seriously but he was fun to have around.  Mark just moved to the area a couple of months ago.  He was just trying to fit in.  Mark had met these two and others, like Lorenzo, in the group that made him feel like he was a part of something.  This is the reason for his hasty actions.  To finally say that he belonged.

            All day Mark wondered where Lorenzo was, because he was not at school.

“I guess he doesn’t want me to rub his face in it,” Mark thought confidently. 

After school Mark, Turk, and Bradshaw walked through the graveyard to inspect Mark’s art.  After Turk and Bradshaw verified that the task was done they placed Mark’s name in their circle of honor.  He was pleased and pounced home enthusiastically.  He did his daily chores instinctively, ate a hardy meal, and laid down for an early start on his Saturday morning at the baseball diamond.  Well deep into his sleep he found himself awakened by his mom saying, “This officer wants you to come with him, he has some disturbing news for you, so get dressed.” 

     The streetlights illuminated their path as they headed for the mortuary up the block.  Mark was summoned by a policeman to identify one of his colleagues, but didn’t know which one.  The face was the only way they could identify this colleague or so the officer said.  When they arrived the mortician ushered them in with a blank look on his face.  His bony face lingered in Mark’s head as they headed down the dimly lit corridor.  He was wearing a bloody apron and had some sort of cutting tool in his bony hand.  It seemed as if it were a bit colder than outside in that dungeon like place.  Mark could not tell if it was from the freezers or from fear.  The smell of death nearby made him nauseous.  Mortuaries always kept Mark on edge; in fact he had only been to one once before back when his grandfather died.  The only benefit that comforted him from being awakened in the middle of the night was that he was not the one being identified. 

Once they reached their destination the cold and callous mortician opened the door to a room and pointed to the table with his frail index finger without saying a word.  He did it as if he had done this several times before or he just couldn’t speak.  After ushering Mark in, the mortician and the officer left the room.  There lying on the table was a sheet saturated with bloodstains.  Trembling uncontrollably, Mark clinched his pants tightly and respectfullymoved closer to the table.  The atmosphere reeked from a multitude of terrors and he was investigating all of them carefully while walking toward the corpse.  There were jars of organs on the desk, dangling instruments above, and a bloody lump that lay before him as a spectacle on the table. 

After several minutes of planned avoidance, he arrived at his destination, which should have taken him seconds to reach.  The room was silent, almost too silent and if you listen hard enough you can hear dead silence.  Mark reached for the sheets to get a preview of the face he was summoned to identify.  As Mark pulled the sheets back he immediately realized who he was looking at.  It was Lorenzo.  He gasped and covered his mouth with a trembling hand.  The air grew colder and the room felt small.  He started to panic, screaming fanatically and shouting for help.  A hand reached out and secured his arm.  He turned to look and was relieved when he saw the face of the mortician.  But something was terribly wrong.  The mortician’s body was not attached to that face.  Mark damn near fainted.  He was frozen by the sheer magnitude of the situation. He took a closer look and noticed that it was Victor Valaho standing there holding the mortician’s head with a grime smile on his face.  Mark didn’t know what to do; his heart was beating irrationally loud.  He could only hear his own heartbeat.  Suddenly Mark saw a flash.  The gruesome site of the Valley Villain standing there holding that head started to fade. Then everything got dark.

The Valley Villain was killed early this morning by law enforcement official ‘Neal Carter’ at a local Mortuary.  Apparently the officer was escorting young Mark Scotland to the Morgue to view the remainders of the Villain’s last victim. 

I saw that look in his eye and knew I had to act swiftly, so I shot him,” said Officer Neal Carter.  This ends a long reign of terror in the town of Hodge, but not before he took two more victims to the grave.  Mortician Fred Gail and young Lorenzo Pike were the last murder victims of Victor Valaho. 

In other news, a Connecticut woman sues a fifteen-year old nationwide meat company, Labinnac Cuts for fifty-six million dollars.  She reportedly found two human fingernails in her meat; one was lodged in a rack of ribs and the other in her sausage link.