My name is Abby, short for abomination. It was something that my Dad made sure to call me when I was born. I am the oldest in a family of three kids. My brother was named Bartholomew and my sister was named Mary. My family was...very religious. It made sense because my father was the reverend of our small-town church. My father always had us refer to him as "The Venom of God." He had hatred for nearly everyone, including me and my siblings. He fashioned himself after Jonathan Edwards and was one of those fire and brimstone preachers. He always preached about God's wrath and how we were blights in His very eyes. I still remember the look of perverted delight that my father had on his face, enjoying frightening his congregation with threats of eternal torture.
That was my father then. Looking back, I now realize that there was more to him than just being a radical preacher. Something that my family was not ready to realize.
In our little town, unexplained murders started to bounce up. About 6. Each one was the same: a woman who was expecting was found with their throats slit and their wombs were hollowed out. One young woman was named Gertrude O'Brien. She was someone who was going to have her baby in wedlock, but around the time of her death, she was communicating with another expecting mother on Facebook as part of some friend group dedicated to first-time mothers. Gertrude was found in an alleyway by two young boys. Her womb was gutted, and her throat was slit. But the assailant was too hazy with the task because it wasn't a clean cut. The poor woman didn't even get the comfort of bleeding out before she was dissected like a fetal pig.
I remember sitting down at the table with my siblings and parents. We were having breakfast; my father was especially displeased that morning. He was disgruntled, his hand shakily grasped his coffee mug. He looked exhausted. His eyes sporadically bounced around in his sockets to compliment his unhinged demeanor. My father studied his coffee mug intently, nearly dropping it when my Mom spoke up.
"Dear, what's wrong?" she asked innocently. My father fumed in his chair, clenching his fists together. My siblings and I cringed in our chairs in anticipation of him striking Mom. It was something that happened every now and then when my Mom made father upset, but thankfully, he regained composure, even if he was still hostile.
"It's none of your business, woman."
My mother, visibly upset by his stern answer, probed him further for an answer. "Dear, you left the house late at night yesterday. I was worried."
He slammed his fists on the table. "Woman, I said it isn't your business!"
My Mom cowered before him. Before anything got physical, the news blared on catching us all off guard. Everything immediately became silent as the anchorwoman's voice filled the room.
"This is just in. Another woman was found in the town park." The anchorwoman stopped before continuing. "This was the seventh woman to fall victim to the town's eponymous serial killer."
Mom turned the television down. She shook her head in disbelief. "It's such a shame. I can't believe that anyone could do something so horrible."
My father had the opposite opinion on the recent murders. That should go without saying, but it was disturbing all the same.
"If you ask me, I think that the killer is doing this sinful town a favor."
My Mom spun her head so fast; I was fearful that it would've fallen off. "How could you say such a thing?"
My father stood up from his chair, angered. "That woman was a harlot who used her body for unholy living." He crossed his arms in defiance. "I have no sympathy for her."
"B-but" she muttered. She couldn't say anything else because she was suddenly struck with my father's mug. The mug crashed onto the floor into a broken mess. Blood trickled from my Mom's cheek. My father looked at the floor then at us with that same evil glare that he always spouted. He then left the room without another word. My Mom could only respond by getting on her knees and picking up the broken shards of the coffee mug.
A month went by and the same happened without any significant issue. My father would be secluding himself in his study room, and he would spend extensive time away from home. He would come home at around midnight and be as annoyed as ever if my Mom tried to ask him where he was going. He said something about browsing the internet for inspiration on his sermons (if he needed any to begin with as his sermons all amount to 'you're bad, so you're going to Hell'). Your guess would be as good as mine if you were wondering what the internet had to do with him staying away from home for long distances of time.
But oddly enough, the more distant he became, the murders stopped. Some speculated that it meant that the killer left town due to the media coverage. The last purported case was that of a 16-year-old girl named Amelia. Word got out that she was thrown out of her home when her parents found out that she got pregnant by her boyfriend. Her body was found in a pond. Worms were already eating her exposed organs by the time investigators were alerted to the discovery. Her womb – as with the other women – was slashed open, and the fetus was extracted.
Around that time, my father's actions were becoming even more sporadic than usual. He spent several instances in his sermons screaming at the top of his lungs and boasting that he was the decider of people's fates. I don't know what got into the old man, but now he was equating himself to God and that he was the only one who was bold enough to awaken to this enlightenment. He derided each attendee that they were lambs for the slaughter and how they were also going to be the first to face the wrath of God.
My father became sterner and openly abused me and my siblings alongside my Mom. He beat her for trivial reasons such as whenever he was "in the mood" when she wanted to sleep (and did so anyway regardless of her feelings), or because she spoke out of turn with his sermons. He got in my face constantly telling me that I was a mistake and because of him falling for my Mom's charm, he committed sin by having me. He even rebaptized me with scorching water. My skin developed blisters and was sensitive for a week. Mary wasn't that much better off. He'd threaten to beat her if she went against him. Or he would make me take her place as part of an ultimatum. Bartholemew, he was more lenient with. It just seemed that he despised me, my mother, and Mary. With Bartholemew, while he didn't express any affection for him, he would spend weeks on end trying to indoctrinate him into believing his radical form of Christianity such as how women were treated in biblical times. He deliberately starved me and Mary by coercing his son to eat bigger portions. Oftentimes, he would deprive us of food for the littlest of slights perceived or otherwise.
Eventually, I could no longer take his mistreatment of me and my sister. While my father was outside tending to the garden, I confronted him, demanding that he stop his tyranny. He practically had a heart attack. He grabbed me by the arm and dragged me into the house. He removed his belt; in a low tone, he forced me to bend over. With my siblings watching, my father gave me forty lashes on my bottom. The pain surged through my body like a scorpion's sting. My once confident feelings evaporated as I felt my knees collapse on the ground. It was the kind of pain that was unbearable. I looked at my Mom to ask her to save me, but she was in a corner of the room, covering her ears to drown out my screaming. My siblings both had looks of astonishment at the unwarranted punishment. But they wouldn't even dream of rebelling against father. My father dropped the belt on the ground with a thud. He took a couple of minutes to recuperate before regaining his composure.
"Let this be a lesson to you and your siblings that this would be the punishment for disobeying me."
One day, it all barreled out into a total disaster. We were at the table eating dinner, with father absent as usual. Around the time we finished eating, the phone rang. My mother went to the phone and answered it. We heard the usual rambling spiel of my father, but this time, there was something different about it. My mother's eyes widened in shock, and without a second word, she rounded us up and we drove to the town jail. My father was in a dissonant mood, ranting his usual "Venom of God" nonsense.
"Are you sure this was my husband?" Mom asked one of the guards.
"Ma'am, he tried to assault a young woman."
My mom rubbed her temples, soaking in everything the guard was telling her. He explained that the woman was apart of that Facebook group for expecting mothers I mentioned earlier. She was going to meet some woman she met online so they could go to the mall. Instead, she was lured to some dark place and jumped by an assailant who produced a knife to slit her throat. But the assailant was stagnant in his attacks and she kicked him in the shin until he was forced to let her go. Shortly after she called the police, they found my father stabbing some garbage bags with the knife in a blind fury. It didn't take long for him to admit to being behind the previous murders.
I remember the trial as vividly as I did back then. We were in the stand watching my father laugh to himself as the evidence was laid before the jury. From his confession, the interrogators were able to pinpoint that he was obsessed with cutting open women as part of his former summer job of assisting his uncle a well-known butcher. He saw women the same anyone would see a cow, a pig, or a chicken. Them being pregnant during their murders only increased the thrill he took with dissecting them.
The verdict was sound. Guilty and the sentence life in prison. My father stood up from his chair and pointed his finger accusingly at everyone around. He gritted his teeth, emitting some low growl from the pit of his gut. He looked at the families of those he had harmed with a look of complete hatred and disgust.
"You will all burn for sending an innocent martyr to death." He smirked before continuing his curse. "All those women were harlots with unholy thoughts and poisoned this world with their perversity. All you who condemn me will suffer my God's wrath."
I returned home years later after the events. My mom had filed for a divorce during that time frame and was remarried to another preacher, but thankfully, he was nowhere near the insane psychopath my father was. I visit her every now and then just to make sure that the trauma of what she went through with my biological father didn't damage her. As for my father? I never bothered to visit him in prison. I heard he had passed recently. I am confident in my assertion that he is rotting as we speak, his body getting eaten by the worms as his eternal soul is consumed by fire.
I at least hope so. I had just found out what became of those fetuses that he ripped out of their mother's wombs. In a private discussion, my father took two of the interrogators to an old farm. Inside of it was a series of scattered bones.