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The Monmouth Three

by Charles Cromwell 6 months ago in fiction · updated 6 months ago
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Part 1

It was a crisp October in 1982. Karissa, Amy, and Keyanna were three friends who were considered the outcasts. In their town of Little Star, a short drive from Monmouth City, they could tell that they didn’t belong there. All three had aspirations of running away and leaving this tiny conservative town behind. The problem was, Amy and Keyanna had a way out, but Karissa didn’t. Karissa was too busy obsessing over this urban legend she swore she could solve about the Pineland Bandits. 

The Pineland Bandits were thieves who hid in the mountains just outside the town in the late 1800s. They would rob wealthy people like the Cromwells and give back to the underprivileged in the city. This made many influential people in Little Star and Monmouth City angry, and one day, they were hunted down and hung from the top of Bear Mountain overlooking Little Star. After they were hanged, the legend states that The Cromwells sent Pinkertons up into Bear Mountain to search for the gold. After months of searching with many casualties from wildlife, they gave up. To this day, The Cromwells still have a reward up for the return of the gold.

Karissa’s great grandfather was the founder of the group of thieves. Her family romanticized the story of her great grandfather and how he was fed up with the way the rich were treating the poor. He took it upon himself to start the group and train the many who had joined him. Almost all the men in the town were affiliated or full members of the Pineland Bandits. When the Pinkertons came in and hunted down the leaders of the group, many of the townfolk tried to fight back. The story taught in Little Star Elementary School is that the police greeted the Pinkertons and then fled as part of the ambush as two trucks of masked men with rifles and pistols pulled up and attacked. Of course, they stood no match to the contracted soldiers and mainly were annihilated by The Pinkerton’s superior weapons. These farmers and factory workers hid and protected their families from the invading force they believed would kill everyone and annihilate the town. The three leaders of the bandit group surrendered in an attempt to stop the killing. As they were paraded through the town, they thanked everyone for their bravery and told them to stand down—That’s when Lucious Cromwell came and demanded blood for gold. Karissa’s great grandfather swore that the gold robbery wasn’t the Pineland Bandits doing, but Lucious didn’t care. They brought the three up to the top of Bear Mountain and hung them, so their shadows overcast the town at sunset. 

Karisa’s grandmother told her that her great grandfather had made a deal with the devil that in exchange for his soul, he wanted his Bandits to be safe and flourish, so their families would be well off in the future. If you looked around the town, they did thrive. Everyone who had a descendant from the gang did become well off. The standard price for land in the town was in the millions, and the average income for the families made them very wealthy. Karissa’s family idolized her great grandfather, many of the town resented her family and claimed the grandmother and Karisa’s family, in general, all suffered from hysteria. Her family was hated, despised and rumors spread that all women were long descendants of witches. They were the only family who had a descendant from the gang who never flourished.

At the beginning of the 1980s, the Satanic Panic started; many in the town, because of the solid conservative community, decided that there should be a “Moral Society” to stop what police and judges couldn’t….WITCHES and DEVIL WORSHIPERS. So, many of who we call Karens and Kens today formed this group and started wreaking havoc. They began citing people for obscene bumper stickers and music. No more heavy metal; horror movies were targeted right after and then fashion. Any broken rules were handled in “The Moral Code,” which consisted of intimidation, ostracization, and then gang stalking. Some families that didn’t have roots in the town up and left while the ones born here and will probably die in the town stayed. 

Karissa was always an outcast because of her family, and despite her family history, she had a passion for alternative culture. She loved heavy metal and punk music. Loved to dress like Stevie Nicks or Jinx Dawson. She saw the community she was raised in, and she was rebelling in her own way. She didn’t do the best in school, unlike her friends Amy and Keyanna, who were ostracized for a different reason than Karissa. 

Kayanna and Amy were considered different. They weren’t the same as the rest in the town. For obvious reasons, they stuck to themselves being two of the only families in Little Star that weren’t white. Karissa joined them because she, too, was part of the target list that everyone in down used to release their anger and frustrations on.  The majority of the town was white, and most people knew that the town had a bad history of dealing with changes in culture.

The day everything started going downhill started like any other. Karisa, Amy, and Keyanna would meet right outside the library, where the town would have monthly book burnings. They would collect the ashes of the books deemed too dangerous for consumption and use them for art or bury them to apologize for the town’s ignorance. The recent book burnings targets were Stephen King’s Carrie and Arthur Miller’s The Crucible for the influence of “spreading anti-christian redirect and glorifying witchcraft in literature.” The Moral Society had a big grudge against both King and Miller’s works.

For one thing, The Moral Society said that Miller was a communist and his work was not something the youth should be reading about. On the other hand, King had works filled with the supernatural, and even though his work became a hot commodity on Little Star’s black book market, it was also number one on their list. The Stand at first was questioned because of the context of evil versus God but was then utterly shut down when kids started talking about how cool Randal Flagg was. The Moral Society had a massive conniption when it was found out that children were discussing how cool of an antagonist Flagg was in the book.

There were rumors that many of the Moral Society’s board had many of King’s novels and the head honcho had all his works. No proof was ever shown, but many claimed there was a locked box when you went to one of their houses, and it had the books in there.

Karissa, Amy, and Keyanna always wore black. It was kind of like their group uniform. Most of the town was full of preps who wore Ralph Lauren and other types of expensive clothes. Expensive cars that their parents gave them and the drugs they were all on. Everyone did “Mary’s Tears.” The phrase for the drug was “drop in your eyes and watch as she tells you lies.” Almost all of the high school students did it.  It was becoming an epidemic. The problem was that no one knew how it was coming into the town or the long-term side effects. Some people claimed that you would permanently see the visions if you did it every day for two weeks. Others argue that you will lose your sight if you excessively use it.


About the author

Charles Cromwell

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