The wind was cold as it blew scraps of discarded food in circular motions near the trash dumpster. Jerry, the night dishwasher, kicked open the back door exiting Critter’s kitchen; a popular restaurant on the Southwest side of Portland.
Jerry dragged a large trash barrel behind him filled with discarded remnants of food left behind by customers who could never eat all the food served them. That was one of the things that made Critter’s popular; they knew how to fill a plate.
No one could ever say they didn’t get what they paid for at Critter’s.
Turning left, Jerry dragged the trash barrel to the dumpster and for as cold as the night was, Jerry could feel a slashing line of sweat roll down his back.
Jerry had always been a hard worker. Ask him to do something, and it would get done. He even looked for things to do no one else thought about doing. Jerry was a very loyal employee and it paid off for him. Jerry was the highest paid dishwasher in the city.
Jerry slid the dumpster door open, then grimaced as he lifted the heavy trash barrel with both hands, turned it upside down and felt the weight begin to lessen. In a matter of seconds, he dropped the barrel to the ground, Jerry was about to slide the dumpster door closed when he heard a strange noise.
Jerry whipped his body around to see if someone might have been behind him. There wasn’t anyone or any one thing to see except for the dumpster. Turning to go back inside, he heard the same strange sound, like sandpaper across wood only louder.
Walking back and reopening the dumpster door, Jerry took a quick peek inside just to make sure no one was inside. Wouldn’t be the first time a derelict or some old bum would be found in one of these things.
People have been found; especially during the winter season more so when all the shelters were “packed tight, asshole to bellybutton,” as Jerry would say.
But he couldn’t see a body. Alive or dead.
“Probably rats,” he mused.
Grabbing the empty trash barrel, he headed for the back door leading into the kitchen, and out of the cold night air.
I think before I go home tonight, I’ll get some of that rat poison the boss bought last week. If rats are in the garbage, I’ll throw’em some of that stuff in there and really give them bastards something to chew on. Damn rats are the last thing the boss wants to hear about. Ain’t good for business.”
An hour after closing time, Jerry had dumped the trash one last time and had finished sweeping and mopping the kitchen floors as well as his own dishwashing area. He replaced the broom and mop in the storage room which held a variety of chemical and cleaning compounds.
Reaching the top shelf, Jerry grabbed a box marked Toxil; a heavy, chalky white substance designed to kill rats and mice once they nibbled on the grainy material. Supposedly they would be dead within minutes.
“And if that don’t do it, I got me a scattergun in the closet that’ll fix their ass!” Jerry grinned and chuckled softly.
The night manager came to the back door to let Jerry out, so he could lock up and go home himself. They were the last two people in Critter’s.
“Be careful out there tonight, Jerry. See you tomorrow night.”
“Same to you, Mr. Beaumont.”
Jerry was out quickly, and Mr. Beaumont, just as quickly, pulled the door closed and Jerry heard the sound of the lock kicking in.
Jerry went right to the dumpster, raised the large lid and threw in four two-inch square blocks of Toxil into each corner. Climbing up, he looked into the mixture of food, almost gagging on the odor rising up, but smiled. “Eat all you can, while you can, you nasty sonsabitches. It’ll be the last thing you munch on.”
As he was about to climb down and close the lid and walk home, he heard that same grating noise, as if it was coming from the middle where most of the trash sat in a widening pile.
“Noisy bunch of little critters.” Closing the lid, Jerry started walking home, then changed his mind. Turning back, he decided to raise the lid to see if he could spot a rat scurrying about. The wind picked up tempo and the temperature seemed to drop another five degrees. Combined, it sent a shiver through his body that seemed to wrap tightly to his bones.
“Feels like it’s gonna snow.”
Those were the last words he spoke.
From within the dumpster, something reached up and attached itself to Jerry’s face.
Unable to scream and doubtful anyone was within hearing distance, Jerry tried to pull away, gasping for air while he was being smothered in all the garbage from the last two days.
The corn, mashed potatoes, gravies, and Critter’s ribs and chicken; some of the very best food in town, now took on a warped, hazy appearance. Jerry felt himself being lifted away from the dumpster, his legs kicking wildly, helplessly. He could feel the wetness between his legs that for a brief moment felt wonderfully warm, but like the night, became bitterly cold, then, forgotten.
Between all the garbage he was being pulled down into, some of which impaled his eyes, nose, ears and mouth, Jerry caught a brief glimpse of his attacker, and wished he hadn’t.
What he witnessed brought on a sudden and violent implosion to his heart. Jerry was only thirty-one.
Just as Jerry’s feet disappeared into the dumpster, he was dead.
The cold and blustery wind picked up speed and caused the lid to slam shut by itself. It sounded like a gun being fired but no one heard it.
Inside, it was dark, dank, and the smell was atrocious.
The grating, tearing apart and chomping sound from inside the dark green metal dumpster continued for hours until the attacker, or whatever it was, was content with its meal.
The wind never stopped, beating against the walls of Critter’s, whistling between the cracks of the man-made design, the length of the alleyway, and through the cracks in the dumpster.
The attacker settled itself below the garbage and rested.
The wind was all that could be heard.
The following morning, the snow stopped and the wind nothing more than a cold breeze, a motor grumbled as it lifted the dumpster in a high-arching sweep to empty the refuse from the last two days.
Inside, the attacker still remained who had killed Jerry (who would never be found, not even the bones), had sensed danger it couldn’t fully understand. Pressing its brownish-green form against the insides of the metal wall, watching through its thousand eyes, combined with its thousand suctioning mouths and feelers; watched the waste tumble into a much larger dumpster. In another minute the dumpster was replaced almost in the exact spot.
The attacker, after attaching itself to the walls, began to slide down to the middle of the metal floor and appeared to be nothing more than leftover residue.
It heard the larger garbage dumpster’s sound become fainter and fainter as it roared away to another destination, another pick up.
In the early morning light, the attacker was alone. It lay dormant, waiting to be fed tiny scraps, until another meal, such as Jerry, would wander in too closely and it would feast as it did last night.
Last night was the best leftovers it ever had.
It was another Friday night, nearly a full week since Jerry had disappeared. The snow started falling earlier that morning, sticking like glue, piling higher with each snowflake. It would be Monday before the dumpster would be emptied again but the attacker didn’t know or care. Inside the dumpster, the attacker had gained new life with all the scraps thrown inside.
Inside Critter’s, waitresses were running around inside a packed house (as always), taking customer’s orders, rushing to get the orders into the kitchen and making sure each customer received something to drink. Not one customer could say a bad thing about the service or the food. Critter’s was the most popular restaurant in town.
Outside, the attacker waited.
When the dumpster was first emptied, it felt weak during the first few hours and required nourishment. The scraps thrown in provided that strength. The foul stench from the rotting food filled its slime-riddled form with new life, and if possible, a purpose.
But it wasn’t only the leftovers that gave it life. Add the chemicals on those leftovers. The same chemicals the cooks in critter’s kitchen used to prepare the best food in town.
Salt, pepper, sage, dill weed, Cajun spices, hot sauces, dry mustard, and especially, monosodium-glutamate, better known as MSG, a crystal-salt to flavor foods, and which has been medically proven, if taken and used to extremes, to be a cancer-causing agent.
In this case, MSG helped in the spawning of this strange deadly attacker.
On this wintry Friday night, while Critter’s was packed, and the food served just the way you like it, an old man stumbled into the alleyway leading to Critter’s backdoor.
He banged on it several times until someone opened it and he asked if there were any bits of food he could have as he was broke, tired, hungry and drunk. One of the bus boys who opened the door looked around, found a couple of ribs and some fruit and put them in a bag and tossed it to the old man. The bum took the bag and sat behind the dumpster where the wind wasn’t so bad.
After he filled himself, he stood up and walked about five blocks to a shelter run by a church group. When he arrived, he was told there were no beds or space available. The place was packed with the homeless. The attendant on duty gave him an address of another shelter but it was four miles away and at his age (79), he’d never make it. He bundled up as best he could and trudged his way back into a cold, brutal night.
After wandering aimlessly, sometimes finding stairwells and doorways a brief respite from the chilling wind, he again came across the same alleyway leading to critter’s back door. Only now, Critter’s was closed.
He had nowhere to go and no one cared if he lived or died was his way of thinking.
Bundled up in an old Navy peacoat, a Giants baseball cap pulled down to his ears; his body covered with three shirts and two pair of pants, the knees worn away from misuse and age; his feet covered by old, nearly bottomless tennis shoes, the old man reached in his coat pocket and pulled out a pint of brandy, half empty. Twisting the lid off, he took a long pull, feeling the heat from the alcohol bring him some minor comfort from the freezing wind and wet heavy snow.
Then he heard a noise coming from inside the dumpster, or was it just the wind? He heard it again.
His thoughts were exactly like Jerry’s.
“Rats. What the hell. Too cold to standing out here.”
Standing, he took another long swig of brandy, put it back in his pocket and lifted the lid. And started climbing inside.
He knew he would stink to high heaven in the morning, but tonight he would be warmer than if he had stayed on the streets. Besides, come morning he could walk over to Brandywine Center, get a shower, fresh clothes, a free breakfast and all the coffee he could drink. Then he would go from there to Maytown Development, grab a free lunch and either read, watch television (Dr. Phil and the news like clockwork), or sleep until they closed at six.
Sometimes a caseworker would be there to try and help you get back on track and get a fresh start in life. Hell, old Andy, you’re 79. Ain’t no new tracks out there for me.
After six though, the object was getting shelter before eight or all the places were packed to the rafters like tonight.
The only reason he missed his chance tonight was because he ran into a few drinking buddies (not really drinking buddies but they had booze).
As he hoisted himself up and over the side, the odors had already filtered into his stuffed breathing passages. He shivered more from the smell than from the cold.
Standing knee-deep in the garbage, he reached for the lid and closed it over himself as he began finding as comfortable a spot to lay down as he could. As he was settling in, that’s when the old man felt his right leg being jerked lower in the dumpster. The harsh pull both surprised and scared him. It was too dark to see what it was. A rat maybe?
The old man’s thoughts ran in two’s.
Either that’s a really big ass rat, or somebody’s in here with me! Just as those thoughts ran through his head, he managed one scream as he felt something covering his face.
The attacker’s slime.
When he felt the greasy, slime-filled mass saturate every part of his unwashed skin, his final thought was that it was neither man nor beast.
Before he died, which was quickly; before his eyes were squeezed from their sockets, he briefly saw its thousand eyes, its thousand mouths, and its thousand tiny feelers that acted as scalpels, quickly ripping him apart into tiny pieces, and this thing started dining on his flesh, the old man’s last thought: INHUMAN!
The attacker dined as he did with Jerry.
It sorted out its own pattern of ideas and sensed this leftover not as enjoyable as the first one. Nevertheless, nothing was left of the old man except for a half-empty bottle of brandy.
The attacker stretched its distorted mass. Its edges bubbling under all the other leftovers and settled down for a night of contentment.
It wondered what other leftovers it would have on future nights.
Hopefully, better than this one.
Saturday night brought nothing except more leftovers from inside Critter’s.
The new dishwasher (“just call me, J.J!”), hadn’t yet come close enough for the attacker to grab and it had to settle for what was available.
J.J. had figured all the noises coming from inside were from mice or rats, but as he had said before he went home that night, “I don’t get paid that much to worry about getting rid of them. If the boss wants them dead, he can kill them himself for all I care.”
Sunday night was more of the same. Once, the grating noises caught his attention when taking out the trash, but good old J.J. didn’t get any closer than dumping the trash barrel and had no desire to look inside. He went back inside Critter’s and after closing time and cleaning up, he went home.
The attacker wanted more of what it found to be great leftovers, and somehow figured out the meal was called humans. It forlornly decided it would be without his favorite meal again.
The hours passed, and the attacker waited beneath all the garbage covering his mammoth self. Waited and hoped (if it had such an emotion), with an intense craving for fresh leftovers. When it appeared, nothing would come into its lair, the attacker lay dormant and slowly fed itself on what was available.
Just past four in the morning, perhaps the coldest night of the year, two men, one in his mid-twenties, the other, late thirties, walked briskly into the alley next to the dumpster.
Inside, the attacker heard the commotion and slowly slithered upward to better hear them talking in rapid tones of excitement.
“Shit, Crocker, it’s a cold fucker out here.”
“No shit, Sherlock. That’s why it’s called winter.”
“Funny, but I’m not laughing. So how much, Crocker?”
“Same as before, Danny. Twenty-five a pop.”
Danny reached underneath his heavy coat, pulled out a roll of bills and peeled two one-hundred-dollar bills and handed it to Crocker.
In return, Crocker dug down in his own coat and pulled out a plastic bag, reached inside and handed Danny eight hits of acid.
“Ya know, Danny, I can get more anytime you need, just say the word, and anything else for that matter. Just say the word and I’m there.”
Taking the acid, Danny never said a word. He just put seven in his coat pocket and the other one he unwrapped the cellophane and put the acid under his tongue. Within a minute, he could feel his senses coming alive.
“Good stuff, ain’t it Danny.”
As Danny was about to say “fuckin’-a,” the attacker began its grating noise getting the attention of both men.
“What was that?” asked Danny.
“Hell, I don’t know. Maybe rats. Maybe the damn wind blew something over or some drunken shit is sleeping it off in the garbage. If it’s rats, I got something for their ass. If it’s some old man, he’ll piss his pants when he sees this.”
Reaching behind his coat, Crocker pulled out his best friend, Mr. Saturday Night Special, walked over to the dumpster and raised the lid, then climbed up and looked inside.
Crocker’s eyes took a few seconds to adjust to the darkness and at first, he pulled away from the fetid odor.
“Danny, it smells like the inside of an outhouse in there. Know what I mean?”
“Must be my ex-old-lady in there,” laughed Danny.
“Maybe, but I don’t see her or anyone else in here.”
Crocker aimed his gun inside. “I think I see me a rat!” Crocker fired three times, believing he killed a rat or two.
The attacker felt the metal rip through its form but didn’t feel any pain (it didn’t know what pain was supposed to feel like), but it knew this leftover would soon be his. As it moved up along the sides, Crocker lowered his arm and fired two more rounds.
Crocker’s face took on an unexpected look of shocked surprise as he felt his hand, then his arm, followed by the rest of him being dragged into the dumpster.
Danny watched as he took another hit of acid, watching what looked like to him, Crocker crawling into the dumpster.
“You must be crazy as hell going in there just to kill a few rats, dude. Let’s get the fuck outta here, Crocker. It’s getting way too fucking cold to be standing around watching you get your jollies off dusting rats.”
Crocker couldn’t respond even if he wanted to. He was already dead.
Danny walked over to the dumpster, climbed up and peered inside. His eyes widened in disbelief. There was no Crocker. Where did he go?
“Hey man, if you can hear me, get your ass out from under all this garbage and let’s get the hell outta here!”
All he could see was a greenish-brown sort of film slowly bubbling and the, for the briefest of seconds, Danny saw what was left of Crocker; a portion of his face being ripped apart, shredded, and being devoured and then Crocker just disappeared.
“Damn, Crocker, this acid is some strong shit, man. I better slow down on it, cause what I’m seeing, I ain’t believing!”
Backing away to catch his breath, thinking about what he had just seen, trying not to throw up on himself, Danny shook his head, looked inside only closer this time, thinking it was the acid playing tricks with his eyes.
This time he couldn’t see Crocker at all. Danny reached down and sifted through the top layer of trash.
“I knew I was seeing things. Hey, Crocker! Wherever you’re hiding, come on out, man. Why are you trying to scare me?”
What he didn’t find, something else found him, and we know it wasn’t Crocker.
As it was Danny’s turn to be hauled inside, his final thought before he felt something sucking at his brains, “This acid is way too much.”
The attacker sank back to the bottom, feeling great satisfaction (if it could feel that sensation), as if it felt the extra treat of a second leftover.
If it could have smiled, it would.
Monday morning rolled around and with it came the motor as the trash dumpster was once again lifted high in the air and the attacker glued itself to the sides, so it wouldn’t follow the path the rest of the debris.
When the dumpster was lowered, and the truck was gone, the attacker once again resting in the center of the dumpster simply waited for more leftovers.
Monday afternoon, the lid was raised, and the attacker felt water being sprayed all over its mass. When it heard the top opening, it started to prepare itself to begin feeding, but wasn’t expecting this.
Staring upward through its thousand eyes, it saw a man holding a green tube with water pouring from the tip, cleaning away the odor that had built up over the last three months. It was three months ago the attacker first felt signs of life.
The man sprayed the floor and walls at least a good twenty minutes, then disappeared and went behind the dumpster, bent down and turn a valve to an open position.
Inside, the attacker watched as water flowed out of a small hole and it could feel itself being slowly sluiced away along with the water.
Trying to suction itself with its thousand feelers against the inside walls, it was able to pull itself free, but the man came back to the front and began spraying more water causing it to lose its grip.
It felt itself being ripped away from the metal walls. If the thousand mouths could have screamed, it would have brought down buildings. As it began to slide through the opening, it eventually laid itself out on clumps of wet icy snow.
After the man finished hosing off the inside and satisfied with the wash job, he felt better in knowing when the Board of Health inspectors showed up, he wouldn’t get any points taken away for any sanitation problems. His kitchen and dining area were already spotless.
Walking to the rear of the dumpster, he saw what debris was flushed out and continued to wash the remains into the street where a small stream formed, and the attacker was washed away until it fell from a storm drain and was gone from sight.
Later that same afternoon, the Board of Health showed up, inspected Critter’s, the most popular restaurant in the city, and gave Critter’s a clean bill of health for the next three months.
They never bothered looking at the dumpster area, but the owner could never be too careful. He had a reputation to uphold.
The night was quiet except for the wind whistling through the cracks in the sidewalks as well as along the brick walls of Critter’s, and the spaces around the dumpster.
Since the dumpster had been cleaned, five trash barrels had been dragged from the kitchen and emptied. Each barrel filled with discarded food left behind by customers who could never eat all the food piled high on their plates. That was one of the things that made Critter’s so popular. They knew how to fill a plate.
The trash also included salt, pepper, dill weed, dry mustard, various sauces, as well as other spicy ingredients, and especially monosodium-glutamate: MSG.
It would take three months before it would start over again.
That same night, if you listened closely, a faint grating sound could be heard.
It was waiting.
Two days later, crosstown, at the home of a Mrs. Margaret Montgomery, two police cars as well as a detective were there investigating her sudden and mysterious disappearance.
The neighbors thought it strange. Usually twice a day you would see her on her front porch, snow or no snow, rain or shine; waving hello to the kids as they went to and came back from school. The same wave and greeting to the passing mailman, or at neighbors, and maybe find out the latest gossip from them.
“She hardly ever leaves home,” said one neighbor.
“She might leave her house like twice a month when her daughter or son come over to take her shopping or out to eat, or maybe even for just a drive. She can’t drive, you know,” said another neighbor.
The detective knew now.
He also knew Margret Montgomery is eighty-seven and in a wheelchair.
The wheelchair is still in the house.
There were no signs of forced entry, nothing to indicate a struggle. This was a puzzle, but the forensic unit would be there shortly to dust for prints, and hopefully come up with something to possibly target a suspect other than her kids.
One of the officers entered the kitchen, spotted a knife rack, but saw all the slots were filled. There was nothing out of place except it was in front of the sink where they found the wheelchair.
No blood. No signs of violence.
“Strange,” thought the officer. “You would think there would be something. Then again, what kind of struggle could an old woman put up anyway.”
He was facing the kitchen window, looking out onto a small backyard recently mowed; when he heard a gurgling, almost grating sound coming from the pipes below the sink.
It stared up, waiting.
In 1973, on Finney Street, a gas explosion erupted from the basement at Harper’s Rooming Complex. It took the lives of sixty-seven tenants. The place was designed to house people either on a fixed income looking for cheap housing, and for other’s, like Barry Simms; he wa just trying to make ends meet after a few personal tragedies and mistakes. Like Barry, a few other people who lived at Harper’s, were trying to get ahead financially, and eventually move on to a better place. Other’s would just pack up and move on to another city with a tidy bankroll and start fresh.
Barry Simms lived on Finney Street for over a year and had managed to save over two-thousand dollars, all hidden in his mattress. His goal was five grand.
Barry worked in a small restaurant in the neighborhood where he eats all his meals free, and pays forty dollars a week in rent. He use to go to one movie a week, bought one new book at Maddie’s Book Emporium every week, and whatever was left over would go in his mattress.
Barry had no social life and he doesn’t care to have one. He just came out of a really bad marriage, and he wasn’t ready for any new involvements.
The day of the explosions, Barry Simms was in his one-room apartment and his first thought was to grab the cash inside the mattress. Then he bolted from his room, no less than on the fourth floor (no elevators). He was halfway to the second landing when a second explosion went off, directly underneath him, or so it felt, and the entire floor gave way, sending him hurtling below ground level, or, another fifty feet underneath the building itself.
He screamed until he hit bottom.
He kept screaming after he landed.
Barry Simms felt both legs snap on impact like twigs, along with his left arm that separated at the shoulder and broke at the elbow as well. A large portion of his face was burned away and the skin over his left eye seemed to melt over, leaving him with a very ugly scar.
Barry Simms couldn’t tell but only feel how bad things just became. All he really knew was that the pain that riddled through him, kept him screaming and crying for a very long time until his voice became hoarse. His cries of course, fell on deaf ears.
Barry Simms was shut off from the outside world. The rubble that followed him down from the fire, along with debris from Harper’s Rooming Complex, as well as part of the city street itself that erupted from the explosions, had now covered any chance of Barry Simms escape—or rescue.
Scattered about, the money was now useless. For Barry Simms, it was forgotten. No longer necessary.
Just as his screams echoed off the tunnel walls, he knew he wqas going to die in the dark and dank smell of the city’s underground.
Above him, firefighters were doing their best to extinguish the massive blaze engulfing Harper’s Rooming Complex.
No one knew Barry Simms was below ground.
May – 1975
On Finney Street, two years to the month where Harper’s Rooming Complex once stood, construction had been completed on a brand new apartment building.
Several city officials such as the Mayor, and Police Commissioner, were on hand for the grand opening, with the Mayor cutting the ribbon to officially signify tenants could now move in.
Twenty-three people who had survived the deadly blast were also on hand to become the first to move into this spacious three-hundred bedroom apartment complex, each with either one or two spacious bedrooms.
All in all it was a joyous moment as well as a tearful moment. Those who survived only had minor injuries or were at work on that horrible day. Now, these people and others like them would be able to get on with their lives again.
As part of the Mayor’s speech, he said, “This building will be a living reminder of what progress can bring, and today, I also wish to dedicate this building to the following individuals who perished.” With that, he read all the names of those who had died in the fire. Even Barry Simms name.
Within one month, the building was filled to capacity and it appeared that Finney Street was back to normal. The shops, restaurants, movie theater; each not far from the original devastation, prospered again, and the neighborhood became just that, a neighborhood.
In the basement of the new structure, close to one of the heater ducts, you could hear something akin to a shuffling sound. Some of the tenants who use the washer and dryer there, thought it might be mice crawling around, but how could that be? The building was brand new.
At night, when the basement was dark and void of movement, you would most certainly back up with fear and panic in your eyes, and your lungs just might fill heavily with screams.
On the other side of this particular duct was a disfigured face of the most hideous thing imaginable; with only one eye staring at you. Not a pretty sight to behold.
Not pretty at all.
The traversing tunnels below the concrete sidewalks winding in half and quarter circles were new streets to Barry Simms when he first made his grand entrance.
In the beginning, it was a forgone conclusion Barry Simms wouldn’t survive his injuries. The first several weeks, Barry Simms went in and out of his feverish attacks of pain, drifting in and out of death many times.
Over the months that followed, Barry Simms legs mended in their own crippled and twisted way. Both knees protruded in such a savage angle, constantly giving him fits of untimely pain whenever he bumped or banged into wet concrete walls, now part of his new home.
Though no doctor, Barry Simms worked on himself the best he could. In the beginning, when his legs were inflamed, he would tear pieces of dead flesh seemingly rotting from his body, causing the puss from the infection to drain. Barry Simms did this day and night until the swelling ended and then his legs began to mend. He couldn’t do anything about his face except pick at the scabs allowing both puss and blood to drain away.
Of all his body, his face was the most devastating of all. Badly burned and scarred, scabs covering ninety per cent of his face and it never fully healed as he had hoped. He didn’t have a mirror to see the damage done, but each time he ran his fingers over his face, he could only imagine the terrible deformity he carried.
Before the accident, Barry Simms could have been described as almost handsome. Now he looked like someone that should be on display at a freak show. The overlay of skin stretched from his forehead over his right eye and blended in with his scarred face rather well. Think of it as a large bump attached to his face. You couldn’t tell where the burnt skin began or where it ended; it was just one large mass of misbegotten fear seemingly sewed onto his face.
As he went through his self-healing process, Barry Simms tried to find a way out of his hell. In the very beginning he had screamed loudly for help, cried, pleaded for help, and prayed that God would save him from all of this and lead him back to safety. Help never came and God never gave him directions.
The tunnels were very dark and it took him a long time for his one good eye to adjust. Because of his legs, traveling was very slow. He would stop and survey certain items he thought he recognized that became trapped with him; bits and pieces from a past he could barely remember any longer.
It was nearly a month after the new complex was built, Barry Simms was able to find a set of metal rungs attached to a wall to climb, and for the first time since he was trapped, he was able to daylight, though he kept his view slight so not to be seen. The light hurt his eye but he finally found what he needed to regain his freedom, a manhole cover, and let everyone know he was still alive.
His strength was still too weak to push it aside. What with the two deformed legs and one useless arm, Barry Simms knew he had to get stronger and that meant eating and exercising.
That was his other problem in the beginning.
In that beginning, fear took over in place of hunger but starvation was finally winning the battle. Barry Simms managed to stay alive without food for three months, a near impossible feat for a healthy person, and he depended solely on water that trickled down from the underground walls. During that time, Barry Simms had dropped over seventy pounds. This made his physical appearance look like a walking skeleton. At six-three and one-eighty, what else could be expected.
Then came the day Barry Simms could no longer fight off the need to not eat. His need for nourishment became far too great.
A sewer rat, perhaps ten pounds in weight, came within Barry Simms reach. Grabbing it by the tail, he violently slammed it hard against a wall, shattering its large head until the rat screamed no longer and hung limply in Barry Simms grasp.
He looked crookedly with one eye at his meal and felt the bile, what little there was, rush forward and splatter down the front of his chest.
After his initial revulsion, Barry Simms ripped open the rat’s belly with his fingers and teeth, cleaning out the insides to remove as much of the putrid disease and waste as possible, pulling flesh away from the rat’s hide and began to eat.
He ate nearly ten minutes, chewing the stringy belly and began to feel better. He was beginning to get that stuffed feeling in his belly, then, he felt his stomach twist and turn, and his insides came up on himself one more time.
Since that first moment Barry Simms gnawed on the dead rat, he has known no other meal he can kill in the sewer.
Barry Simms was preparing for the future.
He was going to get above ground and make himself known, and pity the poor soul who got in his way. Barry Simms is a very angry man at being left behind. Angry at being forgotten. Angry that they built a new building over him like it was a headstone for his grave.
Barry Simms is preparing for his revenge.
July – 1975
Two fourteen year old boys crossed over McNally Street, a block away from Finney. It was late, just past eleven on a Friday night and neither boy should have been out this late. As they crossed into the center of Finney, one of the boys thought he heard a noise.
“Jeff,” questioned Andy, “did you hear that? Sounded like metal rubbing against something.”
Jeff shook his head.
“Nah, you’re hearing things. Hurry up, will you? We promised mom we’d be home from the movies by now.”
Less than fifty feet away, a manhole cover slipped off its base and went sliding to one side.
“Yeah, but I wonder what mom would do if she found out we were out with Linda and Mary beth down by the riverfront instead?”
Jeff shivered at the thought. “I don’t even want to think about what she’d do. C’mon Andy, hurry it up already.”
A darkened shadow approached them less than ten feet away from the apartment building and both boys froze in their tracks. Before either could react to the shadow’s advance, Jeff was quickly smacked down to the street and Andy was raised high in the air and smashed into the asphalt until his skull was a mushy pulp. Turning back to Jeff, who was groggy, the shadow quickly grabbed him by the throat and squeezed the life from him.
The shadow then dragged both boys to the manhole opening and dropped them below where two dull thuds hitting concrete could be heard.
The shadow dropped back down into the hole, looked around, and then slid the manhole cover back into position with his good hand. Climbing down the metal ladder, he sat in front of both bodies.
“I’m so glad you could join me for dinner tonight.”
The rest of the night on Finney Street was quiet except for the rain that fell an hour after the boys disappeared. It rained the hardest it had in three weeks and the blood from both boys were washed away into a gutter.
It was shortly after the rain started falling; Mrs. Millburn, the mother of Andy and Jeff, called the police to report them missing.
Down below, Barry Simms knew where they were, and he wasn’t telling. He wasn’t about to give up his dinner for anyone.
One Week Later
Mrs. Johnston was coming home after working overtime at Lindy’s Sewing Mill. Mrs. Johnston had been a widow eight years and took the job for something to do. She had also been one of the original survivor’s from Harper’s Rooming Complex. The insurance money from her husband’s death left her in pretty good shape, but working at Lindy’s gave her something to do with the idle time she had on her hands, so she thought why not put her hands to work.
One of her co-workers, a gentleman named Herbert, asked her out to dinner on Tuesday, four days away. She wasn’t going to accept the invitation at first, but thought it wouldn’t hurt anything. He seemed like a nice enough man and let’s face it, Bernice, you ain’t dead yet. You might be sixty but Herbert’s, who’s fifty-four, thinks you look good enough to ask out, then go for it.
It was this night she came home for the first time in years with a whistling smile on her face.
As she approached the steps to the apartment building, Bernice Johnston heard a scraping noise. She took the first of six steps leading to the front door when she turned in the direction the sound came from and wanted to scream at the unholiest of sights. Before she could utter a sound, a hand came from nowhere and drove deeply into her windpipe cutting off any screams.
The hand became a steel vice around her throat as she felt the life being choked out of her. Just before she died, she had two thoughts. Herbert would have to eat alone, and that isn’t that young man, oh what’s-his-name, Barry something. Silly me, he’s dead.
Down in the dank and smelly confines of Barry Simms home, he ate heartily once again.
If you had been in the basement of the apartment building, you would have heard the echoes of laughter ringing loudly as Barry Simms laughed the laugh of the powerfully insane.
June – 1976
Finney Street looked normal to people passing by. The shops min the neighborhood still flourished, and people still walked the street by day, but the apartment building had a FOR SALE sign strung up in a ten-foot banner over the front door.
Less than two months ago, twenty-nine tenants moved out. In the course of a year since the building was first opened, forty-three other tenants mysteriously disappeared. All of their belongings were still in their apartments but the tenants simply vanished.
The police were baffled, city officials had no concrete explanation for their whereabouts; they just up and disappeared. The police knew there was foul play ever since the two boys vanished, but if they couldn’t find the boys or even a suspect, they had no place to begin looking. Their investigation was at a standstill.
In the depths of the sewer, Barry Simms knew. At every winding turn of each corridor of his dark home, you would find the remains of all those missing. Skulls, empty of eyes, eaten as part of Barry Simms lunch or evening meal. In some places, half-eaten brains would be discarded because Barry Simms was just too full. The bones of the ribs were like a maze to the rats as they self-entertained themselves weaving in and out. Sometimes, the rats would feed off pieces of discarded flesh, or a torn piece of liver or the remains of a brain left behind, and attack it without thought.
Barry Simms didn’t want to kill rats for his meals any longer. Human flesh became far tastier to his palate.
Ever since the first night he was able to show himself and display the creaturous strength he developed, he knew where all the bodies were. He knew all too well.
May – 1977
A construction crew came in and leveled the apartment building on Finney Street. A developer bought the property and plans were made to turn the location into a mini-mall.
From his vantage point, Barry Simms heard all the noise going on as sounds of what was happening echoed off the walls around him. At night, he would venture above ground to find fresh meat in order to survive. He had long since forgotten why he even did this. To him, it wasn’t murder; only a hunter after his prey in order to survive. Barry Simms taste for vengeance had long since given away for his taste for human flesh.
Each night he would go out, he was finding it harder and harder to find his food. Since the wrecking crew came to Finney Street, since the apartment closed, his meals walked the streets less and less until he could see no one walking in the night.
After three nights of finding nothing, Barry Simms resigned himself to staying below, and began chewing on himself until he was full.
That night, all the skin from his useless deformed arm was chewed away from the bone, three inches above the elbow. Even though Barry Simms gave out guttural screams of his newly found pain, the taste was too pleasant, too sweet for him to stop.
His screams caught the rats attention for a few seconds, then they went back to foraging for what they could find.
Several others crouched low, just watching him.
July – 1977
Three men from a city maintenance crew were sent below the city streets to repair a possible sewer outlet that may have blockage which seemed to be the cause of a back-flow in several toilets in the neighborhood.
As they tramped through the winding corridors, brandishing their heavy-duty flashlights, complaining about the smell, all three of them stumbled across several bones resembling human remains. As they slowly continued on, they spotted the remains of a man propped against one of the corridor walls; more remains than human, and it appeared he had been eaten alive. Both legs were gone, as well as both arms. There was a huge torn opening where the chest and stomach use to be. It was a living horror.
Each man wretched and threw up and were sickened by the stench of death piled around them, but the real revulsion was the face.
It was still being gnawed on by the rats.
The rats were chewing in angry tremors on this once human form.
The rats were getting even.
October – 1978
Finney’s Mini-Mall was completed. A few of the old neighborhood business owners were against it in the beginning, but after a small business owner’s meeting, they agreed it would prove to be a wise move to change with the times. Besides, it made for good controversy since the story broke on what was found below Finney Street. It made front page news and anchor crews from CNN, ABC, FOX and CBS came to interview the Mayor, and Chief of Police, as well as residents for their thoughts on such a gruesome find.
The case files on the murders is still under investigation to this day. The Mayor and Chief of Police have stated on repeated occasions, “We will not rest until the murderer of these horrific and brutal slayings is apprehended and locked away for life.” The District Attorney stated, “If and once the killer is caught, I will press the courts for the death penalty.”
If they only knew.
But they didn’t. They couldn’t.
No one even knew one of the bodies they recovered belonged to Barry Simms.
Why would they? There weren’t any fingerprints. The teeth had long since rotted away to nothing, and didn’t the city provide a funeral for Barry Simms in 1973 (along with the others who died with him), at their expense even though they never recovered his body from the wreckage?
Certainly they did.
All that time, Barry Simms believed he was forgotten.
The city didn’t forget.
Neither did the rats.
The Scarecrow’s Face
Someone almost invaribly drives past Ted Warren’s farm on Route 61, ever since the detour signs were put up due to construction on Interstate 80 West. Eighty-something miles, but state highway officials failed to put up mile markers to indicate the actual distance to reconnect with the Interstate, other than signs that read: I-80 (with an arrow overhead meaning straight ahead).
When you drive past the Warren farm, you might get lucky and catch a glimpse of his daughter, Allie, standing alongside the road entrance to the Warren home. She walks up and back the one mile dirt road, six times a week to get the mail.
Today wasn’t any different.
Driving along Route 61, a two-lane highway (not in the best of shape), that now served as a temporary Interstate to all weary travelbound souls. A road that serves its purpose from the last stopping point, eighty miles back, that will take you where you want to go, but don’t look for a gas station or a Burger King anywhere close by. When you left out of Badger, about six miles from the Warren farm, that’s it until you’ve driven that eighty-something miles. So if you didn’t gas up first; good luck pal.
Driving along the beat-up two-lane blacktop, Route 61 and Lenny Mills were already good friends. He gassed up when he was supposed to in Badger and took off down the road. He had the top down on his ’57 Classic T-Bird, radio blaring Oldies but Goodies, and he was singing along word for word with whatever was playing, singing terribly.
Lenny knew all the old tunes. Lenny could tell you practically anything about any thing.
Trivia is his specialty.
Be it magic, world history, politics, it didn’t matter. Movies, songs, actors and actresses, presidents; didn’t matter. Lenny has a computer for a brain. His friends sometimes describe his brain as a mental rolodex. Lenny could tell you about little known origins such as: how Dr. Pepper, the soft drink was invented, that there never was a real betty Crocker, and other than Gerald Ford never elected president, America had a president pro temp for one day March 4, 1849. His name was David Rice Atchison. Zachary Taylor refused to take the oath on the Sabbath, so Atchison, who was a Senator for sixteen terms, from no place less than Frogtown, Kentucky, sat in the White House for one day as the Commander-in-Chief. How about them apples!
If Lenny didn’t know something, he made it a point to know what it was. “One never knows when one may be on Jeopardy,” he would say and then laugh.
Lenny wasn’t driving fast, about fifty, and it was a lucky thing or he would have missed a passing glance at Allie. Instead he applied the brakes and slowed to a stop a few feet from her, turned down the radio and watched her as she turned down a dirt road next to a gate opening, facing away from Route 61.
Lenny yelled out at her and Allie stopped and turned, holding her right hand over her eyes to shield them from the sun, giving her a better view of who yelled at her from the car.
“Hello, pretty lady. Could you tell me how much further I have to go before I connect with the interstate again?”
Pretty was an understatement. Yellow-gold spun hair (natural), the bluest of eyes, country tanned skin giving her tight body that wholesome appeal. Lenny figured she couldn’t be anymore than twenty, tops.
“Not rightly sure, mister. Maybe ninety or a hundred miles. Never been that far up 61 to know for sure.”
She stared at the plates of his car.
“What state’s the beehive state, mister?”
“Utah. I’m on my way back to teach at the University in Salt Lake.”
“What do you teach?”
“History. All the things most students will swear doesn’t help them in the real world to land that multi-million dollar a year career.” Lenny flashed his winning smile.
Allie smiled back.
“You been on the road long?”
“I started out last night around six,” Lenny looked at his watch. “I’d say about about twenty hours. I gassed up in your little town back there. When I’m not teaching, I live about forty miles east of Chicago. Living in Utah can be such a pain. More for me to do in Chicago than I ever could, especially in Salt Lake.”
“You must see some interesting things while driving. So tell me, mister, what do you think of our Nebraska flatlands?”
You’re the best thing I’ve seen so far, he wanted to say.
“Please, call me Lenny.
“Compared to the mountains in Utah, it’s flatter than a pancake. When you compare it to Chicago, a city where the fun never ends, Nebraska seems pretty dull. Don’t get me wrong; in the long run, it’s refreshing. Quiet. Let me say it’s a nice place to visit, but I wouldn’t want to stay long.”
Unless it was you I’d be staying for, he thought, smiling at Allie the whole time.
An older Dodge DeSoto pickup came bellowing up the road and stopped short a few feet away from Allie’s and Lenny’s car. A man, about eight inches taller than Lenny, who stood six-foot even, stepped from his dusty and battered truck that Lenny realized it was 1949, clutch on the column with a Botham engine. But for the moment, Lenny thought he might be in trouble for talking to the man’s wife, or daughter. He had to be her father. He looked too old to be anything more.
“Allie, who’s your friend?”
Lenny liked the sound of her name. Allie.
“He said his name is Lenny, daddy. We just met. He was asking how far down 61 he’d have to drive before he’d get back on the interstate again.
Her father walked up alongside Lenny’s car.
“My name’s Ted Warren.”
He stuck out a long fingered tanned and knarled hand. Lenny stretched his own as they shook, He thought it rather odd, almost queer-like, that a man the size of Ted Warren would have such a weak handshake. He had to be close to two-fifty if not more. Lenny himself topped in at one-seventy.
“I’m Lenny Mills. Like I was telling your daughter, I’m on my way to Utah to teach at the univerity in Salt Lake.”
“A teacher, huh? How long you been teaching?”
“This will be my sixth year.”
“Daddy, he said he’s been driving almost a whole day straight. I think it would be proper if we invite him up to the house for supper. Show him some real Nebraska hospitality.”
“No, really, I couldn’t impose.”
“Nonsense, Mr. Mills. After all the driving you’ve been doing, I can see a tired look in your eyes. You need a break. Besides, you wouldn’t want to miss out on Allie’s homecooking. She’ll have your belly full, and a smile on your face.”
Lenny shifted his eyes from Ted to Allie, lingering his eyes more on her and said, “What the heck. It’s Friday anyway. School doesn’t start for another week. I guess a few hours wouldn’t hurt.”
“Settled then. Allie, get in the truck. Mr, Mills, you just follow us on up the road to the house.”
“Call me Lenny, please. Sounds less formal.”
“Good enough for me, Lenny,” said Ted Warren with a thin-lipped smile.
Ted Warren strode back to the drivers side and under his bib-overalls and shirt, Lenny could almost see the massive muscle weight rippling underneath.
Getting back in his T-Bird, he said, “How such a man his size and the way he’s built, have such a puny grip is beyond me. Oh, well.” He waited for Ted Warren to gun the trucks engine, then followed them through a cloud of dust the DeSoto left in its wake.
In the back of his mind, Lenny wondered about all those salesmen jokes about the farmer’s daughter.
“Get that out of your head, Lenny, my boy. Last thing you need need to have happen is a shotgun stuck up your ass because you got caught boffing his daughter behind the woodshed.”
Still, the thought and vision of doing Allie did give him an erection.
What was only supposed to be a quick supper and then out of there, ended up to be three hours later than Lenny anticipated.
After he pulled in alongside Ted Warren’s truck, he ended up on the front porch with the man, and they started talking about the country and what is and isn’t right with the world.
Next thing: Lenny fell asleep for nearly an hour.
Now it was just past eighty-thirty, Lenny and Ted Warren were again sitting on the front porch after dinner, neither man saying a word. Each were admiring the sun as it reached its boundries to relinguish light to darkness, leaving behind the last vestiges of colors perfectly blended in soft purples, faded reds, rustic oranges, jasmine greens, and homespun yellows.
Summer nights like this had always appealed to Lenny. It always fascinated him how nature could change without man’s involvement.
“I have to admit you didn’t lie, Ted. Your daughter is an excellent cook. I haven’t had fried chicken like that since I was a little kid visiting my grandmother on summer vacations in North Carolina.
“The view from here is beautiful. You know, peaceful.”
“Yep, I know alright. I’m right proud of Allie, too. After her mother died, it was rough, you know; raising a girl on your own and all that, but we managed. Allie was seven when the cancer took her mother.
“One day, when I’m gone, all you see around you for two miles will be hers. If she finds the right man who ain’t afraid of farming, it’ll be his as well. Ever do any farming, Lenny?”
“Not really. Well, sort of. When I was a kid, I used to work in the tobacco fields and drove a tractor sometimes. There isn’t much call for that these days in North Carolina. Corn and tomato’s are still a big call, and so are blueberries, but raising hogs down where I use to visit is where the money is now. Tobacco just doesn’t sell like it use to since all the stink about health hazzards, the ingrediants, and second-hand smoke and so on and so on.
“Now, teaching is my thing.”
“Yep. Seems like nothing stays the same or lasts forever these days. Hell, you could write a letter and have it sent and read in a few days. Make a phone call and be done with it in a few minutes. Nowadays, the internet speeds things up so quick a fellow just can’t keep up. Now you can talk and see who you’re talking to at the same time! Some people call that progress. Me, I call it being lazy. You forget how to write by typing all the time. That just ain’t right. Talking on the phone is good, but if you want to see me, or me you, then it’s time to drop by for a visit. Yep, just plain lazy.”
Crows could be seen landing on a scarecrow in the distance, picking at and around a straw face or so it appeard to Lenny.
“Do those things really work?”
“They surely do. It’s just that now and then, I have to go out there and work on the face some. When I do, then crows hardly ever come around.”
Ted Warren smiled at Lenny, and his eyes lit up with a glaze from the late evening colors. Just then, Allie stepped out onto the porch.
“Dishes are finished, daddy. What have you two been talking about?”
“Scarecrows, Allie,” Ted said flatly.
Lenny thought he heard sorrow in that one syllable.
“I want to thank you both for a very delicios dinner and,”
“Supper,” jumped in Allie. “Around here, dinner’s at noon.”
“Okay, thanks for a tasty supper, but I do have to be going. I have a lot to do when I get to Salt Lake. I have to get my apartment liveable and furniture moved in that’s been in storage, class assignments prepared,things like that. I’d love to stay longer, but if I don’t keep my priorities on line, and right as rain, as my grandfather used to say; it’ll put me days behind schedule.”
“Lenny,” waved Ted Warren with his left hand, “we’ve got a spare bedroom upstairs. You can spend the night, get a good breakfast in the morning and be on your way then. It’s getting kind of late to be driving, wouldn’t you think?”
“Yes, but you folks have been kind enough as it is.”
“Don’t be silly,” quipped Allie. “One night isn’t going to make that big a difference anyway. You did say you have a whole week before school started, and besides, 61 isn’t really the best of roads to travel in the dark. You never know what might cross the road. Deer and sometimes wolves cross as well as smaller animals. No sense you getting into an accident. Just say you’ll stay, at least for the night.” Allie smiled her smile that just reeled Lenny in.
“Yes, I did say classes were a week away and well; okay, I’ll stay the night. You’re both right. One night won’t make a difference. I really do appreciate this.”
“Taint no trouble, Lenny,” smiled Ted Warren. “No trouble at all.”
Getting up from his chair on the porch, Lenny went to his T-Bird, opened the trunk and pulled out one of his suitcases. He thought about putting the top up in case of rain but the color-filled sky that was deepening now to dark-dark, held only twinkling stars. Turning back to the house, he followed Allie upstairs to the bedroom.
Lenny couldn’t help himself with the view before him as Allie slowly walked each step in a relaxed way. But, my God, he thought, whast a way she has. If daddy weren’t home right now, he would put on his charm and have her in bed before you could say, “yeah baby!”
But daddy is home, and Lenny likes his balls attached just the way they are; thank-you-very-much.
Walking into the room, Lenny set his suitcase on the bed, now feeling confidant the last of his erection finally deflated, and walked over to the front window and peered into the now graying darkness. Lenny spotted Ted Warren walking in the direction of the scarecrow.
“What’s he going to do?”
Allie walked to the window standing close to Lenny, bent low and watched her father. Lenny could smell her freshness, like spring lilacs, and had an impulse to grab her, twist her into his arms and kiss her deeply, then make love to her.
In his mind he said, “Down boy, Count to ten. One broken arm, two broken legs, three car wrecks, four housefires, five hurricanes, six tornados, seven bullets to the head, eight broken ribs, nine inches of steel in my heart, ten seconds to live.”
It wasn’t working.
The heat between his legs refused to go away this time. At least his mind controlled his actions—barely. He moved away from her and returned to his suitcase.
“Oh, daddy’s just checking on the scarecrow is all. He does it every night before he goes to bed. If anything needs fixing or straightening, daddy does it. He says as long as the scarecrow looks scary, the crows won’t ruin the crops. As long as I can remember, daddy’s never been wrong.”
She turned, stood straight and smiled at lenny. “What’s the matter with you? You’re flustered in the face something awful.”
“I, uh, guess it must have been because I was bent over. Maybe all that driving finally caught up to me. I do feel tired now. After I get some sleep, I’ll be a new man.”
“Okay,” she said, still smiling. “The bathroom’s the last door at the end of the hall to the right. If you need anything, just holler, alright? And, I do mean anything.”
She traced her right index finger straight down between her pert breasts and stopped just short of her stomach. Walking past Lenny, she grazed his arm, and smiled that country smile of hers, quickly looked down where Lenny hoped she wouldn’t, and she giggled softly.
Opening the door she looked at him and said, “Daddy’s room is the one straight across from this one, and I’m next to yours on the left.” She winked, then closed the door behind her, leaving Lenny standing in the middle of the room.
He started unpacking.
“Lenny, my boy, I do believe that was an invitation. Yeah, an invitation to trouble.
“But Lenny, it’s a free offer you don’t have to run after; it’s here for the taking. She’s as much said so.
“Yeah, I know. So is a handful of buckshot and a marriage license. No thanks.”
Shaking his head, Lenny grabbed his toilet articles, a towel and headed for the shower, and took a long cold one.
It didn’t help.
Outside in the field next to the scarecrow, Ted Warren looked back at the house to the upstairs window where Lenny had looked out of earlier. Rearranging the face once more, he grimmaced at the thought of what had to be done. But there was no other way to save the crops.
Lenny tossed and turned most of the night.
When it appeared he was finally going to go to sleep, he heard the knob on the bedroom door twist open, and a faint light from the hallway crept in along the floor, then the wall, then disappeared as the door closed.
He held his breath when he felt the bed give in to the extra weight. When he rolled over on his back, he let out a small gasp of air when he stared into Allie’s eyes and then her completely naked body.
Looking back at the bedroom door, he envisioned her father storming in with a shotgun bigger than life, but Ted Warren made no such appearance.
“Allie,” he whispered frantically, “ what the hell are you doing? If your father finds you here, he’ll kill me and who knows what he’ll do to you!”
“You want me, don’t you, Lenny?” Allie reached under the covers and grabbed Lenny’s maleness. “This tells me you do. Don’t worry about daddy. He sleeps like a log until the sun comes up. We have almost three hours before that happens.”
Lenny’s an educated man and part of him said no, get dressed and leave right now. Then there was the other part that is strictly male, and says, what the hell.
“Three hours,” he murmured.
Lenny let his hormones be his guide.
Just before the sun came up, Lenny and Allie finished making love for the third time. Lenney had never had such an experience with a woman before as he did with Allie. She was a sexual dynamo. He almost didn’t want to stop but he also remembered: daddy—shotgun—wedding.
He forced himself away from her and decided it was time to get dressed and leave while he still had the chance.
“Allie, you were teriffic. But I think I had better leave before your father gets up. I think it would be better for both of us.”
“What about us, Lenny? You just made love to me, and now your just going to leave me like this? What kind of man are you?”
“Hold on, Allie. I don’t remember either one of us saying we loved each other or made any commitments. Hey, it was great, don’t get me wrong. I like you. I like you a lot, but I have responsibilities I have to meet. If I don’t, then I won’t have a job, and I love what I do.”
“Why do you have to be like all the rest of the men who have stayed here? Why couldn’t you be different from them?”
Allie’s arm reached under the bed while Lenny was dressing.
“What do you mean, all the rest?” Lenny was just zippering up his pants when he turned to face her.
“What other men?”
He saw it coming. His movement was too slow. It was if a movie was being played in slow motion. He couldn’t believe she would do this, not after the best sex imaginable.
Allie’s arm came in a wide sweeping arc.
The short-armed ax came whistling through the air and struck Lenny in the left side of his throat. Blood spurted through his fingers as he tried choking off the outpouring of blood.
Lenny couldn’t scream even if he wanted. The pain was deep rooted but not to the point he would have ever imagined. It was more like a dull burn that throbbed madly.
Allie came back with another slashing strike that ripped through the other side of his neck, sending Lenny tottering back against a dresser, his eyes transfixed in deathly disbelief; trying a last-ditch effort to keep his head from falling off his shoulders. Blood was everywhere. Soaking his shirt, spraying across the dresser, the walls behind him and onto the floor, pooling underneath his shoes.
His head, filled with facts and figures, would be of no more use to him, or to anyone else.
Allie came down on Lenny’s neck one last time, sending his head along with a few fingers, dropping to the floor. His head rolled to a dead stop against the bedroom door, and lifeless eyes stared as blood oozed from the opening in Lenny’s shoulders.
Allie was covered from head to feet with Lenny’s blood. Taking the handle of the ax, she pushed Lenny’s still standing and quivering body, watching it fall to the floor next to the bed, shaking still as if very cold. She stared until the body finally became motionless.
Gripping the ax tighter, she walked to the door, stared down at the remorseless eyes of Lenny, and walked down the hall to take a shower and wash Lenny Mills from her flesh and cleaned the ax.
Returning to the bedroom, now dressed in a pink robe, she placed the ax back underneath the bed. She was careful not to walk where the blood stained the floor, she stared at the open, empty glare of Lenny’s dead eyes and whispered, “If you said you loved me, if you had said you would have stayed, it would have been different, Lenny.
After breakfast, in the shed behind the house, Ted Warren came out with a canvas bag and walked the length of the field to the scarecrow with Allie walk next to him.
When they reached the scarecrow, Ted Warren removed the beaten, battered and now chewed away faced ruined by the scarecrows.
Reaching inside the canvas bag, he replaced it with a new face.
Ted Warren spent most of the morning after burying Lenny’s body a mile away from the house, by removing the skull, brain and broken bone fragments along with dead muscle tissue; all that is, but for the eyes. Ted was careful not to damage the facial texture too much. But it was the eyes that would frighten the crows away for a good long while.
Mounting Lenny’s face onto the scarecrow’s shoulders, and wrapping it tightly with two thin strands of wire pierced near where the ears would have been, Ted Warren tied it securely in place. He spent aanother two minutes straightening out the hair before placing a hat over Lenny’s dead scalp. Taking one more thin strand of wire, he tied off the neck to the post to make certain the wind wouldn’t blow it off or away.
Stepping back to inspect and admire the scarecrow’s face, he put his arm over Allie’s shoulder and hugged her to his massive frame.
“Don’t worry too much, Allie. One of these days, a man’s going to come around here and love you back. Until then, we’ve got to make sure these darned crows don’t eat all our crops.”
“I understand, daddy. It’s just so darn frustrating. Lenny’s the tenth man this year. You’d think one of them would have wanted to stay.”
“Allie, when the right man comes along, he’ll want to stay and you’ll be happy. You’ll see.”
“I know and you’re right, daddy. You’re always right.”
They turned away from the scarecrow, Lenny’s eyes staring vacantly for all time. Ted Warren and Allie headed back to the house to clean up the mess in the guest bedroom.
Later in the day, Allie would head up the road to see if she might find her one true love.
A Slice of Terror
Mallory’s, every Saturday night has a lively crowd. Drinks flourish in abundance and the band, mainly country with a blend of rock and roll mementos thrown in to balance the crowd’s appeal; Mallory’s patrons were droning out individual conversations and life’s chatter, massing it all into one large mumble.
The crowd itself was a cross-section of straight’s, gays and bi-sexual genders. Two ladies in question were Janet Nelson and her live-in girlfriend, Louise Stanley. Both slightly overweight, both out of the bottle blondes, and in need of being rekindled with Clairol.
Janet poked Louise in her right side and pointed out a really cute guy sitting at the bar.
“What do you think, Louise?”
“What do I think about what,” but Louise was looking in the same direction Janet was.
“C’mon, you know.”
“Him? Do you think he could handle us?”
“Baby, the way he looks, I bet he could handle anything. He must be alone. He’s been sitting at the bar close to thirty minutes and hasn’t spoken to a soul.”
“Maybe he’s the shy type,” Janet giggled.
“I doubt it. I bet this is his first time here and not sure yet what to do. Don’t just sit here, girl. Go over there and see if he wants to party.”
Janet smiled and kissed Louise lightly on the lips. “Don’t you worry none, baby. I’ll have him eating out of my hands, and then between my legs.”
Janet and Louise have been lovers over two years, but both enjoy men and loved the look on most men’s faces they’ve scored with when they started making love with each other. Neither girl could remember any man being turned off. Janet and Louise aren’t what you would call ‘lookers’, but each one has that look about them that read fun and good times if you were willing to go with the flow. In short, Janet and Louise are insatiable.
After a few twists and turns through crowds of people and an occasional feel, Janet finally made it to the bar.
“Hi’ya honey. What’s your name?”
Through her eyes she saw a tall slender man, sandy brown hair, collar length, rich tan with a full inviting smile as white as a fresh snowfall. His eyes were cloudy, yet interestingly grey. Janet figured he couldn’t be over twenty-five, tops. She felt she made the right choice with this stud.
“My name is Graycon Mallos.”
“Hi, Graycon, I’m Janet. Enjoying the music? New here, aren’t you?”
“You ask a lot of questions, but no to the first, and yes to the latter.”
“Well,” she said pointing, “my friend over there is Louise. Her and I were wondering if maybe you’d like to party with us.”
A sparkle came to Graycon’s eyes or so Janet thought.
“What kind of party did you girls have in mind?”
“Back at our place, just the three of us, and, ah, Graycon, I’ll tell you a little secret; Louise loves it up the ass and I give great head.”
Graycon smiled. “If that’s the case, would you object if I brought along some of my, ah, toys?”
Janet smiled coyly. “Hmm, toys.” She had an idea what he meant but she was hoping he would elaborate. Graycon explained a portion of them as Janet’s tongue floated across her lips and already she could feel a strong heated sensation building between her legs. Yeah, she picked a good one this time. Maybe the best ever.
“You will both find out it will not only bring out the animal in you both, but they will bring me a great sense of fulfillment.” Graycon smiled his sleek smile, hands out, with his arms partially outstretched and palms up, and went on to say, “These hands will bring you both beyond any passion ever experienced before, and take you places you would never dream of being.”
“Honey, you keep talking like that, and we might both rape your sweet ass before we get out of the parking lot.”
Graycon but only smiled.
Janet grabbed a napkin from the bar and asked Graycon for a pen. She quickly scribbled down her address and handed it to him.
“Very good, Janet. I will meet you both there, in say, one hour? It will give me time to go home and get my goody-bag. Then we can let the good times roll.”
Without thinking, Janet reached into her purse and handed Graycon her apartment keys. “This one’s to the front entry door, and this one is to our apartment: 413. You’ll find both of us in bed, waiting.”
She reached over and kissed him wetly on his lips, sliding her tongue into his mouth and felt his warmth. With her right hand, she reached between his legs to feel what would soon be inside her. Janet felt her insides doing a slow burn and a small orgasm grabbed her when she thought she latched onto a telephone pole.
For a fleeting second while kissing him, Janet thought his lips felt cold, like ice. She waved it from her mind, blaming it on one too many drinks and the way he was making her feel.
Releasing her grip, she smiled at Graycon, turned and walked back to the table where Louise waited. Graycon watched the girl’s actions.
The one calling herself Janet, was talking fast and he watched as her hands as they went into the air about chest high and parted about ten inches to a foot from each other. In the midst of all the noise, Graycon could hear Louise whistle, then watched her smile.
Janet and Louise quickly finished their drinks and headed for the door to get to the parking lot to get in their car and head back to their apartment, but not before Louise turned and smiled at Graycon, running her tongue over her lips as if making an unspoken promise of things to come, and then turned and ran her hands over the back of her covered ass; as if making a silent promise, then she was gone.
Graycon watched the entire episode, waited five minutes after they left, finished his second drink and walked out the door and went to his rental car under the name of Drew Davis.
In less than ten minutes, he arrived at their apartment building and sat behind the steering wheel waiting patiently for time to pass. He didn’t want to arrive earlier than promised. He needed this extra time to prepare. Sweat poured from his body in anticipation of this night and the events to come.
From all the noise at Mallory’s, he was certain no one paid attention to what was said. He felt more than safe in knowing no one at Mallory’s would remember him as he was just another face, another body in the crowd.
Tonight, Janet and Louise would endure their final pleasure. He would see to that.
While waiting, the horrible nightmare of his father raping him became clear in his mind again. It always did when he went on one of these excursions.
It might have been different had his mother intervened, or at least tried to help him but she had actually encourage his father.
He was nine the night his parents came home from the bar, both drunk, and what started out as a friendly game of tag between father and son, took on a brutal ending; one which scarred him forever.
After the brutal assault and cruel remarks from his parents, once they became tired of their fun and went to sleep, Jimmy (such a stupid alias was Graycon), went into the basement and found an ax. Walking upstairs to his parent’s bedroom, he stood in the open doorway for a minute, watched and listened to their drunken heavy breathing and snores from his father, and rambling mutterings from his mother. Walking to the head of the bed, he brought the ax high above his head and brought it down solidly into his father’s throat. Twice.
His mother was dead-drunk and never woke from the strangling garbles next to her.
Jimmy walked to the other side of the bed and implanted the ax squarely into his mother’s face.
The media had a field-day with his life and the court’s sentenced him to a private sanitarium until he turned twenty-one.
Five years ago, Jimmy was released and it was two years ago when the urge to kill again became strong. Jimmy tried to become involved in a serious relationship but it seemed as if all they wanted was immediate satisfaction. No romance. The women wanted to use him for a plaything; like his parents had.
Tonight, he would rid the world of two more ‘user’s and abuser’s’, and not very pretty ones either. His parents weren’t pretty the night they abused his body and ruined his mind. Tonight, he would send two more creatures to hell where they could join the rest he has sent there. Then Jimmy would go away like he has all the other times.
Getting out of the rental, Jimmy went to the trunk, opened it and removed a duffel bag and long object wrapped in cowhide. Closing the trunk, he opened the bag and removed a pair of surgical gloves. They felt tight when pulled taut against his hands; as taut as the knot building in his stomach from the excitement he was feeling.
Walking to the outside door of the apartment building, with his duffel bag and covered item in cowhide, he inserted the key given him, and twisted the knob and silently let the door close behind him. Going to the fourth floor, and turned right at the landing and saw the apartment number in large stenciled numbers bordered in silver, their edges frayed. Slipping the key in the lock quietly, he opened the door, switching the bag to his right hand. Closing the door with a whispered hush, he could hear muffled laughter coming from another roo; their bedroom.
Silently, he crept to the entrance of their bedroom and peered around the corner, watching in abject disgust as two large clumps of flesh rolled around the bed, each girl’s head inverted to the other’s body. They had no idea he was there.
Watching and listening to their heated moans, Jimmy began unwrapping his toy from inside the cowhide. Grasping the sleek, walnut-grained handle of his ax, he looked up again and spied upon the two women as they now stroked and kissed each other’s face. It was at that moment he struck.
Louise looked over Janet’s shoulder. Janet’s gaze followed. Both smiled. Neither yet saw his ‘toy’.
Janet smiled her best smile and said in the sexiest voice she could muster, “I see you made it, baby, and none too soon. Could I ever use that hunk of meat between your ….”
She never finished. Both Janet and Louise were transfixed into a state of shock at what they saw coming.
In one large gaping stride, Jimmy came into their room swinging the ax into Janet’s puffy neck. Blood squirted across Louise’s face and she started choking on her lover’s blood.
Pulling the ax back, he swung again, this time he sliced cleanly through Janet’s neck, sending another gusher of blood into the air like a broken water pipe, slowing down the wobbling form of Janet and covering Louise, as well as the sheets. Behind them, the wall was like a painting of bloody hearts if you could envision that.
Louise still couldn’t find her voice, but Jimmy did. He brought the ax down hard, slicing past Louise’s fingers, clean through to the pillow behind her neck.
Only a minute had passed. The only movement on the bed came from the repeated attacks from the ax until all the body parts were severed from themselves.
No longer can you entice, no longer will you embrace; no longer will you be able to take advantage of me. Now you both can rot in hell where your kind belong.
Taking the ax into the bathroom, he turned on the shower to wash the blood off and rewrapped it back in the cowhide. Letting the water continue to run, he returned back to the bedroom and went about placing all the body parts back together as if both women were sleeping. If it weren’t for the blood, with the sheets pulled over them to the neck, one would have thought they were sleeping.
Next, Jimmy stripped off his own bloody clothing except for the surgical gloves, placed them in a plastic bag and returned to the shower to rid his body of this evilness.
Not drying off, he went back to his duffel bag, reached inside and pulled out fresh clothes, dressed and also replaced his oversized tens for a pair of nines, placing the bloody clothes inside the same plastic bag. Retracing his steps, he left the apartment, closed and locked it, checking to make sure no one was in the halls to see him.
Back into the cool night air, he breathed in its richness, its cleanness. What was done was already out of sight, out of mind.
Opening the trunk, he removed the surgical gloves, placed them into the bag along with the bloody clothes and threw in the apartment keys as well. Throwing the bag back into the trunk, he laid the covered ax to the right, slammed the trunk closed and walked to the front of the car.
Behind the wheel of the rental, Jimmy drove to a place far from the city, stopped, got out, went back to the trunk and removed the plastic bag containing his night’s work.
Walking to a pile of garbage, he threw the bag on top.
Reaching into a side pocket of his jacket, he removed a can of lighter fluid, squirted the bag heavily, then lit a match and threw it on top. It caught instantly.
Jimmy stood there watching as the flames leaped into the night air, crackling like a whip as the plastic melted, and the clothes burnt with a blood-filled odor.
He stood watching until he was certain there wouldn’t be any trace left to connect him to what had taken place, just as he had done many times before this night.
Returning to the rental, he drove back to his motel room. He would sleep well tonight. He always did after one of his excursions. The dreams of his disturbed youth never came to haunt him after a night like tonight.
Tomorrow, he would leave Des Moines, heading for Omaha for a three day sales convention. The corporation he works for pays his expenses. He is to receive an award as the top distributor in his field.
He was really looking forward to Omaha. Des Moines held nothing for him. It was a sad, sad town.
Of course he knew when the papers hit the newsstand and reported the terrible news about Janet and Louise, Des Moines would be a shocked town.
Who knows, thought Jimmy, Omaha might need his help like Des Moines, Portland, Seattle, New York, and half a dozen other cities have so far.
“Yeah, they’ll need me. Real bad.”
He closed his eyes, and slept like a baby.
At the Springwater Resort in the dead of winter, several people were snowbound.
Telephone lines were down, and the nearest town was sixteen miles away. It wouldn’t have been so bad, but the storm was intensifying where travel was becoming impossible.
The bartender, Shellie, had her husband drop her off earlier that afternoon. Now, she was stranded with the others until her husband could get through the heaviest storm to hit central Wisconsin in forty-six years.
Along with Shellie, was Darwin, a carpenter, and his girlfriend, Faith, who worked in The Dells at one of the concession stands during the season.
The others were Charlie, a delivery driver out of Chicago who came to the resort for his winter vacation. Gerald, one of the locals who never worked, yet he always managed to have a lot of money to spend, and then there was Yaz, Shellie’s brother.
There were other people who lived and worked at Springwater, but they were in their own units staying warm the best way they could.
Before midnight would roll around, the resort’s bar, The Hideout, would have five more people added to the list. A total of eleven. There should have been twelve, but one didn’t make it.
“Worse damn storm I’ve ever seen.”
“I know, Yaz. I’ve never seen it this bad either.”
“Hell, who cares how bad it is, sweetheart. Set me and Faith up with another drink. Nothing like a good stiff drink to keep the blood flowing on a night like this.” Darwin wrapped his arm around Faith, who stood under him about half a foot, half-smiled, half-grimaced as Darwin pulled her ninety-seven-pound frame into his massive three-hundred plus pounds of solid muscle.
Charlie, who stood next to fire Gerald was stoking, looked out the window, watched a heavy snow fell across the expansive lake and half-shouted, “That’s about the truth, too. Tonight’s going to be a cold one by heaven. Wouldn’t surprise me if it don’t drop down to fifty below the way things are going.”
“I heard once,” Gerald said loud enough for Charlie to hear, “the last time it snowed like this, twelve people died in this very area. Course that was before all those condo units were built. My daddy told me when I was a boy that when spring rolled around, the bodies were all chewed up by wild animals and what was left of’em were frozen stiffer than a board.”
Charlie looked at Gerald who never batted an eye. “No shit.”
“No, not shit, just frozen dead mutilated bodies,” Gerald smiled slowly.
Behind the bar, Shellie was fixing another round, the fourth one in the last hour for her small group of customers.
“At least we still have electricity to watch TV and get weather updates.” Shellie grinned widely, trying to make light of a situation that was worsening as time ticked off the clock.
“Sis,” grunted Yaz, “I could try to get through. I could take Emmett’s Corner over to Holstead. It would cut about four miles and then I can bring back some help as in a good-sized plow.”
“You’ll do no such thing, Yaz! I’d feel terrible if anything happened to you. You happen to be the only brother I have if you remember right. Just because you’re older, doesn’t make you brighter than me. Just stay here and keep me company.”
“Okay, sis, but I know I could make it.” Yaz let the latter half of his sentence trail off his lips because he knew when Shellie got a stubborn streak in her, he could forget about changing her mind. Snowstorm, hurricane, twister, even a tidal wave were to come through here; nothing would budge her if she didn’t want budged on an issue. Yaz would stay, but he knew he could have made the trip safely.
Darwin, on the other hand, liked the idea.
“I got fifty bucks says you don’t make it, fella. Are you a gambling man, or just a talker?”
“Hey!” yelled Shellie. “I don’t need you egging him on. If I wanted him to go, I’d have let him. Now just drink your drink and leave him alone.”
Looking over at Yaz, Darwin grinned and said, “You always let your sister do your talking for you?”
“Dar,” spoke up Faith, “drop it, will you? You know that it’s way too bad for anyone to go anywhere in this storm.”
“Okay already. I can see I’m outnumbered. Forget about it. I was only teasing the poor guy anyway.”
Darwin’s and Yaz’s eyes met, and there was a glare of discontent spoken ever so silently. Darwin was about to say something sarcastic when the front door was yanked open and the blustering winds of winter could be heard racing and whipping around like a locomotive going right through the bar.
Brenda, the other bartender, struggled to get inside until Claude stood away from the fireplace after building a good-size blaze, and walked over to help her get inside and closed the doors against an angry wind becoming angrier being denied access inside.
“Hey, Brenda, it’s not healthy being out on a night like this. You should have stayed in your room and ….”
Claude stopped talking when he saw the look on her face; not a cold look, but a look of real fright that captured her eyes.
“Brenda, what’s wrong, honey? Talk to me.”
The others began moving closer to Brenda when Claude spoke those words. Yaz pulled a chair out from a nearby table and set it in front of the fire as Claude walked her to where she could get warm. Brenda was shivering, not only from the cold and wind outside, but from what she had just experienced.
“Well, ya gonna tell us what’s bugging you?”
Yaz looked at Darwin. “For a change, why don’t you just shut up. She’ll tell us when she’s ready.”
“I’m going to fix her a cup of coffee,” said Shellie. Shellie had never seen such a look on Brenda’s face before.
The lounge area was quiet and remained that way until Shellie walked around the bar and placed a steaming cup of coffee between Brenda’s hands.
“At least the cat ain’t got her tongue.”
Everyone stared at Darwin that time.
“Brenda, what’s wrong?”
“He’s at the bottom of the hill,” came a flat reply.
“Who’s at the bottom of the hell?” asked Charlie.
“David. He’s at the bottom of the hill. Oh, God. It’s terrible.”
Brenda started crying heavily, the sobs racking her body causing her to spill some of the coffee. After a few minutes, she managed to pull herself together.
“Brenda, how bad is he hurt?” Yaz was throwing on his parka as he asked, making his way for the front door.
“NO! Don’t go out there! There, there’s nothing you can do for him. No one can.”
Charlie, who suddenly became nervous, asked, “What do you mean by that, Brenda?”
“He’s, he’s … dead.”
Brenda suddenly became enraged.
“Are you deaf! He’s dead, that’s what I mean! I, I was coming down the hill to relieve Shellie and I didn’t see David until I was almost on top of him. First thing I did was shake him, but he didn’t move. Then I rolled him over to check his face for any cuts or bruises, thinking he might have fallen hard or something and knocked himself out. That’s when I freaked and ran the rest of the way here!”
“Don’t freak out on us now,” said Darwin. “What was it you saw?” This time the sarcasm in his voice wasn’t there.
“That’s just it, I didn’t see anything. His, his face, wasn’t … there.”
Faith shivered, grabbing Darwin’s muscled forearm around her shoulder and gripped Shellie’s hand. Darwin put his beer to his lips and guzzled half a can in one greedy gulp and for the first time he knew to keep his mouth shut. Gerald walked over to the window, then stepped closer to the fire and looked out into the blazing white inferno surrounding all of them.
“Maybe you were mistaken, Brenda. Maybe the storm made you think you saw something else.”
“No, Shellie. I saw what I saw. It was as if his face was either ripped off or something chewed it off.”
The room became even quieter before Yaz spoke.
“Shellie, there are seven of us here. David would have made eight. Who else is living at the top of the hill?”
“There’s the cook, Lucy, and her boyfriend, Matt. There’s Jesse, he’s the one hired to build the houses out along the strip, and our maintenance man, Mike.”
“May heaven help us all. That makes twelve.”
Yaz looked up at Gerald.
“Gerald, you aren’t saying this has anything to do with that wives’ tale about twelve bodies found in the area like it was back in 1953, are you?”
“Yaz, you and all the rest of you can call me a crazy old fool, but it was on a night like this when twelve people died.”
“Okay, so what?” chimed in Darwin.
“Yeah,” said Charlie. “Didn’t you say they were found in the spring, intact?”
“Found in the spring, yes. Intact, I never said that. I said bodies were frozen and mutilated. Big difference.
“There’s more to this story than any of you know. In 1895, this same area had some trappers up here over the winter. Most folks said until the winter of 1953, the snowstorm in 1895 was about the worse ever. It was the following spring twelve trappers were found dead, same way as those people in 1953.”
Brenda, Faith, and Shellie, were shaking and not because of the winds outside but because of the story. Gerald continued.
“Each man back then were found with their heads, arms and legs torn from their bodies. All the body parts could be found but one. The heart. Whatever it was; killed them in 1895 and 1953 didn’t have much sense because it didn’t know how to get right to the heart. Tearing the body apart seemed the only logical way of getting what it wanted.
“I’m not trying to be no campfire storyteller, but whatever it was that went and killed all those people, and mind you now, four of them in 1953 were women; it’s back again.”
Darwin was the first to say something.
“That’s a crock of shit if I ever heard anything at all. Nice story, old man. You almost had me going for a minute.”
“Gerald,” said Yaz, “I think that’s about enough.” Looking at Darwin and Charlie, he said, “Put on your coats and help me bring David inside.”
“What good will it do to bring him in here if he’s dead? He’ll just fester and start to smell. That’s what dead bodies do,” said Darwin.
Yaz shot him an angry look.
“David is dead, but his body doesn’t need to be lying around. There are animals out there that could pick up his scent and start chewing on his body. Show a little respect, asshole.”
Shellie grabbed his arm. “Yaz, please, don’t go out there.”
Brenda started crying again. “No! Don’t bring him in here! He doesn’t have a face! Please, don’t!”
“Relax, okay? If David is dead as you say he is, we need to get him covered up and make sure none of the animals get wind of him after daylight. Maybe, and I’m just saying maybe the reason you didn’t see his face is because it was covered with a lot of snow. Snow has this affinity for sticking to beards, and David has one heck of a bush on that mug of his.” Yaz forced a smile which brought a small one to Brenda’s face.
“Maybe you’re right.”
Yaz looked at Charlie and Darwin who were buttoned up and ready to march through winds at seventy-miles an hour.
Outside, three men could be seen turning right, their bodies faintly outlined in the whipping winds and snow. If the snow had stopped, and if the winds had died down, perhaps one of them would have heard a sigh of hunger from the boatshed. A sigh for fresh meat. A very special meat.
“Dammit, Yaz. She said he was at the bottom of the hill. Where the hell is he?”
“Damned if I know, Darwin. Maybe he wasn’t dead like Brenda thought and went back to his room to get some rest.”
“If that’s the case,” Charlie yelled out above the wind, “it would make more sense to come down to the bar. It’s closer.”
Darwin spotted something off to his left.
“What’s that over there by the telephone pole?”
Yaz turned in the direction Darwin was pointing at. Walking over, Yaz saw a baseball cap. David always wore one that would have a funny saying on it. Picking the hat up, shaking away the clinging snow, he looked at it. It read: MY MOM THINKS I’M AT THE MOVIES.
Staring closer, Yaz thought he saw blood but wasn’t sure.
“C’mon guys, let’s get back inside. I don’t think there’s anything we can do here.”
Darwin yelled above the wind, “What’s that supposed to mean?”
“If this is what I think it is, Brenda’s right about David, and somebody is playing a cruel game with us. Very cruel.”
Darwin and Charlie looked at each other through slitted eyes trying to avoid the snow’s attack from blinding them. They followed Yaz back down to the bar.
Across the way, behind the boatshed, David’s body lay with his chest splayed open, and a chomping, slurping sound could barely be heard.
Up in his room, Mike was watching channel 3, drinking a beer and eating potato chips. Mike was also getting restless. Ever since the storm hit before noon, he’s stayed inside his small cabin refusing to go anywhere, but now the storm was screwing with the reception and no matter how many times he fooled around with the rabbit ears attached to the TV, he just wasn’t getting a clear picture.
Getting up from his bed for the hundredth time, he pulled the curtains back to take another look at the larger-than-life snowflakes massing together, creating one large flat snowball as he liked to think of it, in front of him. While looking out his window, he could barely see three bodies moving around in the snow. He blinked his eyes and they were gone.
He stopped by his mini-fridge, and opened it, grabbing another cold beer, went back to the bed and sat down. Popping the pull-tab, he took a long pull and smacked his lips together.
“I can’t take this shit any longer. Might as well get my coat on and go down to the bar and see what’s shaking. Something about being alone on a night like this that isn’t right.”
Bending over, Mike grabbed his work boots, slid his feet into each one and pulled hard on the laces. Grabbing his coat, gloves and hat, he buttoned up and walked to the front door muttering, “This is a night I hope will be over soon. Never seen it this bad. No sir, this is about as bad as bad can get.”
It could smell frsh food. Outside, it waited.
Mike walked outside. The wind and snow attacked him with a stabbing hardness as he turned right and walked past three other units, two of which were unoccupied and then turned left. As he walked another five feet, he stopped abruptly and stared into the jaws of death.
Mike backed up, almost falling in the snow, shook his head swearing what he was staring at couldn’t be real. The snow was playing tricks with his eyesight; or that he had had one too many beers. He shook his head again and stared once more, his breath caught in his throat.
What he saw stared back at him and uttered a cry of savagery, and even in the blustering wind, Mike would have sworn he could have seen blood drooling over its long fang-like incisors and huge distended mouth.
Mike couldn’t move. It was fear, not the bitter cold that froze him where he stood. He couldn’t even utter a cry for help.
It quickly reached out for Mike and grabbed him by the throat with long, talon-like fingers; its hand, the strength of solid steel had closed around Mike’s neck and literally twisted his head from his shoulders.
Dragging the body like a stuffed animal in one hand and in the other, Mike’s head, it proceeded back to the boatshed to find what it required.
The wind continued to rage against trees and bellow out a demonic sound not heard before, at least not by those who remained in their cabins, and the group who sat huddled around the fireplace.
Once Yaz explained what they found, a hush came over the bar and no one dared speak a word for the longest time.
The front doors seemed to explode open from the gale force winds.
Brenda let out a short scream. Yaz placed himself in front of his sister, and Faith stepped behind Darwin. Charlie and Gerald never moved from where they stood.
“Sorry, guys! Lost my grip on the doors. Wind out there is brutal. Felt for a minute as if I might be blown away to Kansas.”
It was Jesse, with all of his lanky hundred and seventy pounds on his six-foot frame. After closing the doors, he removed his parka and gloves and headed for the crowd by the fireplace.
“Okay, I give up. What’s with all the long faces? I didn’t mean to bust in that way, you know.”
“It’s not that,” said Yaz.
Jesse looked around at the drawn and tight-lipped faces, then down at Brenda, who looked like somebody scared the ever-living hell out of her.
“Okay, somebody want to tell me what’s going on?”
“Did you come straight down the hill to get here?” asked Shellie.
“Nope. I live on the far end of the cabins so I came the other way, and truth be told, it’s shorter, or maybe because it’s so cold, I walked faster. Why? Something happen?”
Yaz showed him David’s hat, coated with splotches of dried blood.
“Oh, wow. No way. I just gave him that hat not more than a month ago for his birthday. Where was he?”
“That’s just it, we don’t know.”
“What? You tell me David’s dead but you don’t know or can’t find his body?”
“I saw him first,” said Brenda. It was terrible. His face was ripped off. The guys went up the hill to find him but now—now his body’s gone, too.”
“So you’re saying someone killed him and has stolen his body on top of that? C’mon guys, that’s hard to swallow.”
Gerald started to tell him the story he told the others, but before he could get started, the front doors opened again. This time, Lucy and Matt walked inside, closed the doors behind them and walked toward the huddled group.
Before Gerald started telling the tale, he first said, “Good, except for Mike, everyone else is here.”
“I saw Mike heading this way about half an hour ago. Saw him walk right by our cabin,” said Matt.
“Besides Mike, David isn’t here either,” commented Lucy.
Shellie made more coffee for everyone to drink. As Lucy, Matt and Jesse settled in with their coffee, Gerald began explaining the mysterious death of David, and not quite possibly, Mike. Then he recounted the tale of the two major snowstorms and how twelve people each time were found horribly and sadistically murdered, and how either a group of killers had been on the loose, or a large man-eating animal surprised twelve people and feasted on them. The most horrific part was that no one was ever apprehended for the killings. Whoever it was, or they were, is back.
When Gerald was finished, for nearly a full minute, the only noise heard were deep breaths of ten people and the crackling wood in the fireplace.
It was Darwin who broke the silence.
“I got a Remington .357 pump in my truck and a .44 in the glove box. Any of you have any guns or anything?”
“I have a Winchester,” said Gerald.
“We have a shotgun behind the bar, and a police-special .32,” said Shellie. “Only thing is, we only have about a dozen shells for the gun. Shotgun’s never been fired and it’s just for show.”
“Not true, Shellie,” said Brenda. “I know where there are six shells we can use.”
Matt walked into the kitchen and returned with a baseball bat.
“Hey, it can’t shoot, bet let me get within swinging range and I guarantee you whatever I hit will feel the bang.”
“That leaves Charlie, Lucy, Jessie and myself without a weapon.”
“Not necessarily true, Yaz.”
Lucy also went into the kitchen and returned a minute later with three very sharp carving knives she handed out to the men. Another chef’s knife she kept for herself.
The lights flickered off and on and the TV signal finally gave up the ghost just as the weatherman said, “Indications are, this storm that is blanketing central Wisconsin, will be letting up sometime between midnight and three in the morning. Actual snow totals are hard to determine at the moment but it appears several records may be shattered. More coverage on this from ….”
It was just after one when Lucy and Matt came out of the kitchen after cleaning up behinds themselves after preparing a meal for everyone.
The television might be shot, but the portable radio was working fine, and everyone sat huddled around as they listened to weather reports coming in, or any breaking news reports. The building hadn’t lost power so the electrical lines themselves were holding up under the storm better than expected, but the telephone as well as cell phone reception wasn’t working.
The expectation was that after the storm quit, as Yaz put it, “It’ll be fine by then. Cell phones should be able to catch a signal by then. Phone lines? Might be a few days on that one if a power box is shot anywhere between here and Del Marva and down over toward the Dells.”
“Won’t help much if whatever’s out there gets us like it did David and Mike.”
“Give it a rest, Gerald,” muttered Charlie.
“What? I’m only saying what the others are thinking. Maybe what I told everyone is just a ghost story I heard growing up, or it’s something that really happened, but by God, we got ourselves two dead people out there somewhere, and they sure as hell ain’t saying one way or the other.”
“Either way,” spat out Darwin, “Faith and me, we got ourselves enough firepower to blow the crap outta whatever’s out there. I ain’t all that worried about it.”
“We can only hope that we all have enough to stop whatever is out there,” said Shellie.
Brenda stood and said, “I’m going to make another pot of coffee.”
“I’ll tag along if you don’t mind,” said Gerald. “No sense you doing that by yourself. Besides ….”
“No need to explain, I don’t mind at all,” smiled Brenda.
Just as Brenda started to turn toward the kitchen, she screamed and pointed to a large window that overlooked what was once a sandy beachfront area and lake, that come summer, would see hundreds of people flocking to lay out on the sand and tan, or ride the small boats for rent across the lake.
All eyes darted to the window and there stood a gargantuan of a creature. Well over ten feet in height, perhaps close to a thousand pounds of pure animalistic fury. Thick mats of hair hung from the body in every direction. Its nose was shaped somewhat like a wolf’s; its eyes set close together and were almost lost amidst the hair surrounding the face and the night itself.
It was the mouth that caused Brenda to scream. It opened so wide, you already knew this creature could bite your head from your shoulders in a single move. Its front and bottom teeth were razor sharp and easily six or seven inches long. And if you thought the weather was playing tricks with your own eyes, you could see flakes of dried blood sticking to them.
In its rage, it raised its mighty arms over its head and roared out a blood-curdling scream. Then it rushed forward and smashed the window inward sending glass flying in every direction as everyone pulled back. Darwin, Faith, Shellie and Brenda raised their weapons and fired. Gerald had to go back and grab his rifle and when he did, the thing reached out and grabbed him by the arm and lifted him through the broken window like a rag doll. Gerald was screaming for help one second, and the next, there was silence.
The bullets shot into this maniacal beast didn’t faze its movements one bit. But what it did next, sent an invisible piercing stab of fear down the backs of each person in the bar.
Gerald’s head flew through the broken window and rolled headlong against the bar next to Faith’s feet. She didn’t scream. She didn’t run. She was frozen to that spot for a good five minutes, and then she puked all over the floor and peed her pants.
Yaz quickly reached for Gerald’s Winchester and yelled, “Everybody! Quick! Move to the rear, toward the kitchen! It’s going to be coming in here after us pretty soon!”
Everyone followed his commands. Once they were all behind the swinging doors leading into the kitchen, Yaz directed Darwin and Faith to stay to the left of the doors, and motioned Shellie and Brenda to the right. He, along with Charlie, Jesse, Lucy and Matt, would stay in the middle.
“With any luck we can catch this bastard in a crossfire and kill it.”
“Yaz,” snapped Darwin, we pretty much hit it hard already and it didn’t slow down a bit!”
“I know, but hopefully this time will be different. Aim for its head this time. If we can blow the head off then it has to die. No head, the body falls.”
It became a waiting game but for how long. No movement or sounds came beyond the swinging doors. All that could be heard was deep breathing from nine bodies.
Every weapon was raised, cocked and ready to fire. Between Lucy, Matt, Charlie and Jesse, they were ready to start throwing knives. Jesse managed to find a hatchet as well.
One thing everyone was sure about; this wasn’t just a storybook tale any longer. Deep down, with no words said, they all felt they were going to die.
Yaz looked at his watch. 2:16.
It had been just over an hour since whatever that thing was had attacked the building and grabbed and killed Gerald and disappeared.
“How much longer,” cried Brenda. “How much longer is that monster going to stop playing games and come after us?”
No one answered.
All anyone could hear was each other breathing. The waiting to die and knowing you will is the most frightening feeling of all.
They sat huddled in their respective places, waiting in the quiet, not knowing when that thing would burst through the swing doors and begin its mayhem.
Darwin lit a cigarette. Jesse had walked over to a walk-in cooler and found the beer cases and pulled out a can of Bud and started drinking. Lucy reached inside her coat pocket and found a stick of gum and removing the foil from around it, popped it in her mouth and started chewing on it hard. Matt, just stayed still but like everyone else, he could feel the tremor in his body taking hold. People’s nerves were reaching the end of the line.
Shellie and Yaz stayed close to each other. Charlie and Brenda just waited out the seconds, wondering when this creature of death would invade their last bastion of hope.
As they were all in the kitchen area, they could hear the front part of the bar being torn to pieces and the loud guttural noises the creature was making.
“Hell, why don’t that thing come in here? What’s it waiting for?”
“No sense in pushing the devil any more than you have to, Darwin,” said Charlie. “Damn thing will find its way back here soon enough.”
Yaz looked at his watch again. 2:17.
The doors flew off their hinges and hurtled across the room.
Jesse never had time to react. It had been quick. One of the doors hit him perfectly in the throat breaking his neck.
This monster of monster’s invaded the room and its head veered left, then right.
Darwin, Faith, Yaz, Charlie, Shellie and Brenda, opened fire and aimed for its head. The creature felt the bullets pierce its flesh and twisted its body in a variety of directions, but no matter how many bullets found their mark, it wouldn’t go down, even after bullets ripped parts of the beast’s flesh away, it continued to move.
It staggered at one point, then regained its momentum and hurled itself onto both Darwin and Faith; its long hairy and overly muscular arms reaching out with fingers of steel and reached out, plucking them both from the floor like picking up an empty paper bag. Then it turned, glared at the others and roared a vengeance that guaranteed its return, leaving the rest standing in what only could be considered absolute defeat as they watched Darwin and Faith being dragged away.
“That settles it,” said Charlie. “Storm or no storm, I’d say it’s high time we get out of here quick as we can before that thing comes back!”
“We’d never make it down the hill without crashing or sliding into something, Charlie,” replied Yaz.
“Yeah, but Charlie has a point. I’d rather take a chance driving out of here verses having that whatever the hell you call that thing, coming back in here and ripping Lucy’s or my head off.” Looking at Lucy he said, “Let’s go, Lucy, we can be inside the van and out of here in two minutes if we hurry!”
Lucy looked around the room, tears sliding down her face.
“He’s right. At least we give ourselves a chance instead of sitting here like ducks getting killed off one at a time.”
Without another word said, Charlie nodded his goodbyes to Shellie, Yaz, and Brenda, and followed Matt and Lucy outside where all the cars were parked.
Charlie immediately went to his car, started the engine which turned over after the third attempt, but his eyes never left Matt and Lucy as they raced to their van.
Charlie’s body wiggled behind the steering wheel for a few minutes as his head hit the pile of snow. Seconds later, the car door was ripped from its hinges and his body was dragged to where the rest of the bodies laid in twisted deformed shapes inside the boatshed.
Throwing the now lifeless body atop the rest, it quickly ran up the hill.
Matt was able to get the engine to turn over after the fifth try. Both he and Lucy were buckled in. Matt backed his van out and it was sliding, but Matt corrected the shifting, then put it in gear and started down the hill. The van was moving but also sliding, and Matt knew not to go too fast for fear of ditching the van and being stuck.
Just as they made it past the entrance into the resort, there stood the bestial image in the road. They looked at each other.
“Luce, I love you!”
“I love you too, Matt!”
Matt pressed the gas pedal to the floor and the van spit chunks of snow behind itself as it rammed into the beast, but to no avail. It simply reached out with both its arms and lifted the front of the van as if it were a child’s toy and tossed it to his right. The van smashed against a group of snow-covered trees, killing Matt and Lucy instantly.
It didn’t matter to this creature. It tore away one of the van’s crumpled doors and dragged both bodies back to the boatshed. As with the others, it feasted on that which gave it, its greatest pleasure.
“What do you think, Yaz? It hasn’t been back for a while. Do you think maybe that monster finished doing whatever it does?” whispered Brenda.
“Honestly, I don’t know what to think. I can still hear a car running out front and that’s not a good sign. I don’t think Charlie made it. Maybe Matt and Lucy did, but I just don’t know.”
“Me either,” said Shellie, “although I thought I heard some kind of loud noise earlier.”
“Me too, Shellie,” nodded Brenda. “What I haven’t heard was any gunfire or screaming.”
“Maybe the thing finally has what it was after.”
“Don’t believe that, little sister. If what Gerald told us was true, this thing killed twelve people, and unless Matt. Lucy and Charlie got away, which I don’t think they did; it has to kill twelve people, and girls, we round out the last of that number.”
Then they heard the roaring cry of anger, and through the opening where the swinging doors use to be, all three watched the massive brute form, efficiently and casually make its way back to where they lie in wait.
“You two go out the back door, now! Get to my rig, keys are on the visor and get the hell out of here! I’ll hold it off as long as I can!”
“I’m not leaving you, Yaz!”
“Me, either,” cried Brenda.
“I said go! No sense in all of us dying here. If you two can get away, maybe this bastard will fall over dead or something! Just go! MOVE!”
Shellie’s eyes were brimming with tears as she squeezed Yaz’s hands, then both girls stood and went out the back door reserved for an emergency exit in case of fire. Shellie looked back once more and watched as Yaz stood, firing every weapon he could, and then, just as the monstrosity engulfed Yaz, she turned and headed toward the truck.
Try as she might, Shellie wasn’t fast enough.
She could hear the maniac, spawned from hell gaining ground on her, and just as she reached the passenger side, she saw Brenda behind the wheel, engine running and saw the look on her face; a look of sheer abject terror, and Shellie knew her fate; like her brother, like all the rest, was at hand.
She turned to look back, slipped in the snow and now looked up into the gaping jaws of death that was about to sever her forever from life.
“Go to hell!”
This large, huge furry body covered her in a massive shadow, as if a coffin lid were over top her, signaling that life is forever gone.
Brenda just screamed and screamed and screamed.
The lid was removed from her face, and Brenda’s eyes opened and shifted left to right before she finally remembered where she was.
“Yazsorda,” she said between a pleading voice and that of a question; “did I have the dreams again?”
He leaned over, kissed her gently on her cold blue lips, smiled as only a vampire will and said, “I believe so. It was the creature again, was it not?”
“Yes. It is always the creature. One neither of us have ever truly seen. I fear one day it may destroy me, and even you.”
“Perhaps, but one thing I do know, you must be incredibly hungry.”
“You know I am.”
Yazsorda helped Brenda out of her coffin, and they walked out onto the veranda of Yazorda’s spacious home and stared down onto the city of Chicago lit up with all its city lights and blanketed by a thick heavy snowfall.
Brenda smiled and licked her lips. Both she and Yazsorda transformed themselves into winged creatures and flew off into the city.
Tonight she was ravenous. The dreams always made her far hungrier than usual.
Tonight, she would feast on many.
You Ask Why I Am This Way
As far back as I can remember, I have always been this way. From the first time I had a baby chick in my hand and put it in the stove and turned to the highest setting and I just sat there, staring at the door, hearing the chick screech in agony and I clapped my hands, as if in joy, but I wasn’t smiling. I was thinking what I could do that’s bigger and better than this. Fifteen minutes later, I opened the oven door and the chick had disintegrated; feathers and all. I was five years old at the time.
There was the time I took Rex, our German Shepard and laced his food with poison. He started whining and yelping and making a general nuisance of himself. I took him out of the house and behind the barn and started stabbing him with a pitchfork to shut him up. The more he yelped, the harder and deeper I stabbed him with that pitchfork until he finally shut up. What a whiney crybaby. I can’t stand whiners. They make my skin crawl.
Now, with Rex, I had to bury the body and clean the mess up so’s that neither of my parents would know what I did. And when they asked when last I saw him, I told them I’d seen him taking off up the dirt road hours before they came home. Nothing more was asked, and we never did get another dog.
When I hit thirteen that was when I went on the run and have been until I was caught.
In the middle of the night, I had this thought, what if I could make that saying true, you know—the one about heads will roll?
I took my Daddy’s axe from the shed some time after midnight and went to my parent’s bedroom and I stood over them breathing hard. No, I wasn’t scared or nervous, I was grateful. Calm. They wouldn’t be a pain in my ass any longer telling me what I could or couldn’t do.
I raised that axe over my head and brought it down with everything I could, and the blade did a “thump” kind of sound as it went clean through my dad’s neck. His eyes opened at the same time from shock or an involuntary reaction but either way, I brought the axe up again just as My mother woke up and she started to scream but I brought that axe down and split her skull almost in half. I actually laughed, well kind of laughed.
Maybe more like a demented giggle. But I brought that axe down a second time and hit the same place and cleaved it, so her face split in two, where they were hanging off to the sides.
It was then I knew I had to get rid of people that would piss me off. And we all know a lot of people pissed me off over the years, don’t we? What did they say the final count was? Oh, yeah, I remember. 236. Hell, eleven while I sat in prison. Got to the point they kept me in isolation. Funny part about that, they only gave me a life sentence. My whole life has been a sentence. But I guess that last dude I did was too much for the state to handle any longer.
So, Padre, you can take all that glory halleluiah crap and shove it. I really don’t give a damn what you try to preach to me. If they let me out right now, I’d go out there and do it again, because I’m not sorry for one thing I did. I get my kicks from—hurting and killing people. That was my calling as far as I’m concerned.
But you, you get to be the lucky one this time. I can’t touch you. I can’t reach out and tear out your lungs and crush your ribcage or stomp on your now bleeding heart for me. You preach and preach about redemption and how I should atone for my mistakes. If I hadn’t been born, there would have been no mistakes.
There, I’ve had my say. And you’ve had yours, so I guess that makes us even. They’ll be coming for me soon. And when it’s over, everybody can get a good night’s sleep because I’ll be dead as dead can be.
But I’ll tell you what—what would be funny, is I come back from the dead and keep going. They can’t kill me again because I’d already be dead.
Now that one, makes me smile.
He Loved Her Too Much
“Don’t you just love the weekends we spend together? I almost feel ashamed of myself having to work during the week. I feel like I’m neglecting you. You understand, don’t you, Anne? Of course you do. You are always understanding about things like this. That is one of the reasons I love you as much as I do.
“At least you won’t have to worry any longer. We’ll never be apart again. You have my word.
“I’m sorry for the misunderstanding, really I am. I never meant for this to happen, but for just an instant, I went crazy-jealous. I love you so much, that I didn’t know any other way to prove my love for you.
“Now you know, don’t you?
“What happened in the past can stay in the past. We are together and that is the important thing.
“Hey, I’m fixing your favorite dinner tonight; veal with a nice wine sauce. Buttered noodles, steamed mushrooms and onions, and a small salad. You’ve always loved it before. I thought tonight wouldn’t be any different.
“Tell you what, Anne, I would love it if you would put on that white dress again. The one you wore the first time we met. You were a knockout in that thing, and you still are.
“If you like, I can help you slip into it. That way, after dinner and a few drinks, I could help you out of it like I did the first night we were together. Am I ever the bold one, eh, Anne? Can you remember that first night? I do and I’ll never forget it.
“You were the greatest. All the other women at the club that night couldn’t hold a candle to you. When I walked over to your table, and asked you to dance, you smiled at me and said yes. My insides did back flips. On the floor, we moved to the music as if we had been dancing together all of our lives. It was, well, sensual you know, like we were making love while everyone watched. Okay, maybe that sound a little kinky. But damn, you were good that night, Anne.
“Who would have thought you would go home with me that night. Even when I asked you, I figured with all the other guys there, that you would turn me down. You didn’t. You made me feel like a real man that first night. Special. I even remember you said I was the best you ever had.
“There was a time I was really concerned about us. Remember when Charles came into the picture? I know you do.
“I was more hurt than mad. Catching both of you making out in our bed, but you said it was the alcohol Charles gave you. Well, I took care of Charles, and you promised me you would never do anything like that again, and I believed you.
“Then later on came Brian. You sneaked around behind my back almost a year before I found out. You knew I would find out, didn’t you? Sure you did. That’s why you did it, to see how I’d react.
“You found out just how far I would go, didn’t you? DIDN’T YOU!
“Sorry, I didn’t mean to raise my voice. But none of what you did matters any longer. Charles is gone. Brian is gone. Now, it’s just you and I, the way it’s supposed to be.
“Anne, baby, dinner is ready. After we eat, we’ll go into the bedroom and we’ll make each other happy, just like that first night we were together.
“I’m already happy because you’re here for me and me alone. You’ll be happy because now you know how much I love you, and how serious I really am.
“”Anne, let me help you to the table. After dinner, I will sweep you into my arms and carry you to bed … just like our first night.”
“Damn, baby, you were great as always. Anne, you have no idea what you do for me. When I touch you, kiss you, when I’m inside you; there are no words to describe how I feel. It’s like I’m on top of the world and in control just like the first time. You set my world on fire.
“A few people might think you have no emotions, that you are cold-blooded, but if they only knew the truth, their minds would change quickly enough.
“Anne, I’d love to make it with you again but you know I have an important job I have to get back to tomorrow and I need to have my wits intact and my mind clear. We both know the kind of work I do is very important. Monday’s are always brutal and I need to get some sleep. We’ll make love again tomorrow. That’s a promise. There won’t be a day that goes by if I’m able, where I don’t make it with you.
“Come on, it’s time you rested as well. After work tomnorrow, I’ll be back and we’ll have our time together just as we have these last several nights. I promise.
“You know that, don’t you? Sure you do.”
Jesse walked to the dresser in the bedroom, reached for a needle and three vials of formaldehyde. Drawing the clear liquid up through the syringe, he walked over to Anne, who lay naked in waiting on the bed, and Jesse bared her right arm to the needle’s edge and plunged the liquid into already tight flesh.
Her eyes, once a crystal blue, now sat deeply rooted against her skull, just two orbs of unstaring black voids. Her hair, half-fallen out and the rest lay in disarray across the pillows; her flesh, taut, gray-black to purple, was split open in several places from earlier swelling, and was rigid against dead muscle tissue, lay unware, uncaring, unfeeling of the tiny puncture wound.
The only other physical disfigurement is the open wound in her chest from a bullet Jesse gave her after he found her in bed with some guy named Larry.
Larry saw the anger, rage, and pain in Jesse’s face, but not the total fear in Anne’s. Larry didn’t want a fight and started to leave, but Jesse shot him as well. Larry’s buried in the backyard with Charles and Brian.
Jesse didn’t want to kill her. It was the only way he could figure out how to keep her from running around on him. He couldn’t leave his job to check on her twenty times a day, so a bullet was the only alternative,
After all, he loved her.
Once the needle was removed, he extracted more of the solution and injected it into her neck, and then her stomach. He followed that with two more; one in the back right thigh and the last one into the center of her spine.
There was a bath already drawn. Jesse picked her up, dropped her gently into the bath water, and began washing as much of the physical stench from her as he could. When finished, he sprayed her entire body with cologne.
Picking her up again, he walked her back into the soft glow of the bedroom’s light.
Breathing rapidly, an excited sweat broke over Jesse’s brow. He carried her to her own bed; a homemade casket Jesse designed just for her and lowered her into it, then bent down and kissed her cold purple black lips, and then closed the lid.
“Sleep, my love. You need your rest, Anne. You know how tired you get after making love.”
The following morning before Jesse left the house, he double-checked his appearance in the mirror, satisfied everything looked good. Being one of Boston’s finest, meant looking sharp and professional at all times.
Before he left to make sure the city streets were safe to walk, he leaned over and kissed Anne’s cold lips once more.
“I’ll see you tonight, baby. I love you.
“Yo know that, don’t you? Sure you do.”
This meeting, planned weeks ago, was finally to take place. Here is a man, wealthy beyond your wildest imagination, who has traveled the world to spend a single night with a beautiful, sensual and vibrant woman who oozed sex simply with a smile. Of course, beauty alone wasn’t enough to capture his interest. Intelligence and the ability to communicate properly were a basic requirement. Without those two, the former didn’t matter a damn to him.
He walked to the open balcony on the thirty-eighth floor, staring outward onto an early night sky embedded with dazzling stars in various positions and a seemingly vast abundance, as if one star dissolved, another would leap in its place.
Looking down, he could see hundreds of twin orbs running up and down the crisscrossing maze of cities streets. A random horn would blare, or an ambulance or police sirens could barely be discernable from where he stood, but he knew the sounds all the same.
Smiling, he walked to the bar provided for his suite and poured another shot of scotch, returned to the balcony, looked down once more and saw the long white limousine pull up in front of the hotel’s entryway. He looked at his watch: 8:45.
She would be here in fifteen minutes as arranged. Dinner would arrive at nine-thirty and his plans were to bed her an hour later and be out of her life before the clock struck one.
He shivered. He smiled. Physically, he was already excited, but he always was with every woman he met. Tonight, would be no different.
The buzzer lit up a soundless room as he crossed the distance to let her in. Stunning was his first thought. Captivating eyes, long silky auburn hair that brought out her tanned skin which made her look even more alluring than she already was.
They hugged, lightly kissed, then he went to the bar and this time made two drinks as they held light, yet interesting conversation before dinner arrived.
His excitability for her rose with each word she uttered, and for each star that that seemed to shine in her eyes. He knew this choice, this night, would be the best one he has made since he first began.
He sat upright in bed, staring out again to a darkness filled with pulsing stars. He breathing was rapid. He stared down at her as she didn’t stir from his movements, nor did his spoken words arouse her from the deepest of sleep.
“You brought to me a moment too few in life can really appreciate or ever understand. I knew from the first kiss, you would unveil a passion, a power, so strong as to outdo all the others before that had tried to bring to me.
“Tracing my lips across your slender shoulders, downward to each perfectly formed breast, each nipple, a tiny pink piercing dart, quivering under my touch, my lips, shaking an uplifting as I bit into each one and suckled them deeply. You pulled, tugged, pleaded, demanded—and finally you needed me to take you.
“But, I took my time with you didn’t I? Of course, I did. I always do.
“From your breasts to your splayed thighs, your uplifting twisting hips as your hands clutched at me, pulled at me, demanding, even pleading to have me inside you, but—I was much stronger than you. I only took you when I was ready.
“But I wasn’t yet ready. Your body lifting, churning, twisting on these satin sheets, your body aglow in the silvery sweat washed over you as you reached orgasm after orgasm, as my fingers worked their magic, or my lips brought cries of need from your lips.
“I need, I need, I need you cried out many times, begging, whimpering for me to please you. I couldn’t help but grin at how all the intelligence, your earlier articulation had disappeared.
“But I, being who I am, could no longer put off what I set out to do—to take you several times and leave you exhausted beyond all recognition.
“And now that I have, I will leave you to your slumber in the forever forget me dreams. You have already forgotten me, haven’t you? Of course, you have.”
Fully dressed once more, he walked out the door, took the elevator to the lobby wearing a polo shirt, leather jacket, jeans, gloves and a I ♥ NY ballcap. In his right hand was a brown paper bag he left at the front of the suite door. As he left the hotel, in his left hand was another brown bag with two glasses and a bottle of scotch.
Two days later, in a subway car carrying the late evening rush of riders home after a long work day, a middle-age man scanned the latest news of the day.
Maid found the body. Female sliced beyond recognition. Police and forensic experts have no clues to the killer’s identity. Hotel management describes the individual who checked into the room as two-hundred pounds, 5’11”, gray hair, full gray beard and moustache, deep green eyes, about forty-five and from Quebec.
According to what the man was reading, police reports the brutal murder falls in line with fourteen other murders done in the same manner from coast to coast in the last sixteen months.
As per usual, no prints or partials were found that would help them identify the killer. He always wore what has been assumed, tight gloves, perhaps leather. He never engaged in copulation, and no hair or saliva samples could be traced. The food brought to the room was never touched.
In a bag left at the door of the hotel room, inside they found a wig, makeup, false beard and moustache, colored contacts, clothing, false ID, shoes with built-in lifts. It is his way of saying, you can’t catch me.
The mayor has vowed to catch this vicious cold-blooded killer before he continues his brutal rampage.
“How terrible,” said the man reading the paper. “It’s not safe anywhere you go these days.”
A young, twenty-something, pimply-faced Einstein wanna-be smiled and said, “I agree.” He then stood, waiting for the next stop. As the train slowed, if the man, reading the paper had taken time to notice, he would have seen a pair of leather gloves sticking out the young acne laden Einstein’s back pocket.
Yes, very terrible, he thought to himself. Then a huge smile crossed over his face as he casually walked home, already planning the next city, the next victim.
Listen My Friend
Trust me when I say, this can never reach the press. It is too dangerous; even now I take this risk in telling you.
I consider you to be a friend, someone I can confide in, so give me your word you will never tell a soul. Then let me continue.
It started in 1977. Two people died in what was called an automobile accident, but the truth ... their brakes were partially severed and snapped when the car went down the far side of a mountain pass in Colorado.
In 1979, there was a house fire. Killed five people. It was originally ruled faulty wiring. It happened at night.
In 1981, seven people were shot to death at a private party. It is still an unsolved murder.
By 1998, fifty-six other people died in what would be called strange and unexplained deaths, although that same year, two others died from gunshot wounds to the face. Again, unsolved.
There was a break until 2016. Four people in different houses in the same city were found dead. One by gunshot, two by being beheaded, and one by strangulation. None of those deaths were related to each other.
I tell you all this so that you understand I cannot change what I am, or who I am. I have this animal living inside me that comes out, and then all I feel is rage, and the need to feed on the pain of others. I enjoy watching them die and bleeding out. I derive a huge amount of gratification, almost like an intense sexual release, but even better.
And even though I call you friend, I have you tied to that chair, so you cannot run away from me as I told you this story. Tonight, you are my sole captive audience. And I need this badly. By telling you, I am relieving my soul of what I have done.
When I walk away from you, my soul will be cleansed, as if nothing I have done in the past ever existed. I walk away with my hands clean, almost pure.
What? Will I still set you free? Of course I will. Right after I slash your throat and taste your blood.
There, now you are free, my friend. My secret is safe with you. I can begin over again. I am reborn.
Now, I feel much better; knowing this story will never be told.
The Night Takes No Prisoners
Jerry is thirty and looks fifty. Unshaven, without a bath in weeks, his hair filled with lice. His eyes, sunken far back into his skull; he weaves his way in and out of the city streets in search of scarred food to keep himself alive to meet another morning.
At one time, Jerry had a family, a well-paying corporate position and all the other attributes a man would ever want.
On a day Jerry can’t remember, his world fell away from him. The pressure of Corporate America got to him before he knew what hit him. He turned to alcohol, drinking away his problems and ended up swallowing his pride and puking it up in one of many dark alleys to become his new home.
Sometimes, Jerry would sit on a cobblestone corner and listen in his head as the computer’s whir; listen in his head to the instruction of the day’s business agenda and start talking to himself about what he has to accomplish before quitting time.
Other times, Jerry would walk through the city park, or walk along the tall oak and pine trees and watch children play. He would stand in the park’s shadows, watching, as if seeing his own children play; and would smile a drunken smile through rotting, broken teeth.
Late at night, in the frigid months of Winter’s Father, Jerry would huddle between cans of rotting garbage and nestle his head against concrete pilings, falling asleep, dreaming how he once curled his head next to the smell of fresh amber and soft, red hair, as well as the laughter of twin girls playing in the back yard. All the memories go away in daylight hours with the help of a fifth of whiskey or a cheap bottle of wine.
When the Mother of Summer rages, the permeated sweat that festers his body, and charges him with a fever; he wanders aimlessly, never knowing where he is, or why he is.
It was one of many summer nights that found Jerry curled in a twisted mash of flesh down by the river; dead, in his own twisted way. No longer a man, no longer a person; only a number for the city to deal with.
… and the night moved on
Here name is June, barely fifty, but to look at her closely, you would have known that once upon another time, she had to have been a real looker; but time, lived by her daily shopping on the streets, foraging through remnants left behind by the neighborhood, has a way of changing people. A pair of tattered gloves, an old scarf, a woolen sweater moth-eaten over time, and shoes that doesn’t match and slightly too big, and an old gray woolen skirt streaked with age, is her attire.
Today, like all of her yesterdays, she shops for new clothes as she loves wearing something different every day. As she walks, her gray skirt billows away from her somewhat lean frame and its bottom meets the top of her one brown and one red sock. June doesn’t care. She loves color.
She eats what she can find that has been freshly discarded by local’s restaurants when possible. She has scruples to a point. She would say, “Never eat yesterday’s food today. You could get sick as a dog.”
In her daily travels, she would fall back into a relapse and remember the old days. The days when her husband came home from work every day. The days when she would bake peanut butter cookies for her boy’s when they came home from school. She would remember the picnics shared and the many nights the boy’s would get sick and she would take care of their needs.
She remembered a time when her husband and the boy’s decided to go to the supermarket one afternoon because she was ill. She remembered being told there was a terrible accident; that her family were broadsided by a truck and killed.
She would shake her head at that point, squeeze the memory from her mind and she would tell herself it was a story she read somewhere, that she never had a family.
When her day was over, she would take her shopping bag of goodies, drag her feet behind her as she headed home. It would take her sometimes four or five hours because if she lived elsewhere than where she lives now, most certainly the blue-coats would arrest her. The very thought of being locked away makes her shiver.
Two hours beyond dusk, June would find herself staring at the skyline of the city’s early night lights. “Such a waste of money to keep them on all night,” she would say.
She looks at her house covered by several layers of tarp to keep out the rain and keep her home, made from cardboard, dry.
Inside; several layers of old carpet cover her floor she found lying around a large dumpster behind a carpet outlet on one of her many shopping trips.
Behind her home, there is a large hole she uses as a latrine, and a few feet away from there, is another hole she uses as a cooking pit.
Tonight, sleep will find her as it does every night. Inside, sitting crossed-legged, holding two dolls, rocking them back and forth, singing a lullaby.
… and the night moves on
Jack is seventeen. Jack is a fine son, a good student and very popular with the girls in his school because of his looks.
Jack has parents who are community oriented, “Pillars of society,” say the neighbors. “Jack is a fine young man,” say the neighbors.
Jack isn’t who they think he is.
When the sun disappears from the large blue ceiling, the night finds Jack on the other side of town at a party, just like other parties he has been to; so why should this one be any different?
The crowd is mixed with colors of both sexes and the booze is plentiful, so are the drugs.
Jack is an addict, and has been ever since he was thirteen, but that wasn’t so bad. At seventeen, Jack’s habit has taken over the rational side of his life.
Lately, he’s ben skipping classes, forging school reports, forging his parent’s signature for teacher’s at school. Jack still has a calculating mind, but his brain cells are slowly dissolving.
Jack started with the pills. The red ones, the yellow ones, the blue ones. Other times he would get prescription pills from a friend’s source and pop those as well. Jack would follow it with a little alcohol and before the night was over, he would not only be drunk, but high as the sun at noontime.
On this particular night, the booze flowed, and drugs oozed out at him. Jack popped a pill here, a pill there, before the announcement that some primo Mary Jane from below the border had arrived along with a kilo of cocaine.
Before long, the room is filled with the sweet odor of smoke and heads are buzzing as people begin laughing at things that aren’t funny, and Jack is one of those people.
Jack hits on a girl a year younger than himself and they walk into one of four bedrooms at the party. Twenty minutes pass before the girl screams and others run to where the screams were heard.
As people rush inside the bedroom, they see the frightened girl staring at Jack.
Jack is standing on a ledge of a second-floor balcony window, naked as the night, arms outstretched, feet together and his head staring straight to the stars filtering the night around him.
He heard the commotion behind him, begging him to come down. He shook his head, no. Jack knows that once he jumps to his death, the bad side will be gone, and the good side will live on.
Jack started shaking in the cold sweat that blocked the pores in his body. Below him could be heard the crashing waves as they rushed upward on the jagged rocks below. Jack pushed off and away.
On his way down, Jack never screamed. He smiled with one final thought before he smashed into the rocks below.
He wondered if his mother would still bake him a birthday cake tomorrow.
… and the night swallowed him and moved on
Her name is Melinda and she is in trouble.
She ran away from a broken home, run by a father who was never home very much, and a mother who cheated on her husband, forcing Melinda to do all the work. If she didn’t, she would be punished, mostly with whippings. Melinda couldn’t take the abuse any longer, and after saving what money she could, she bought a bus ticket to the big city. It was in the city she decided she would begin her life; her new life.
Melinda wasn’t off the bus ten minutes before a young man, well dressed, came over to her making conversation. Starved for all this freshness in her life, Melinda fell into the man’s trap. He talked her into spending a few weeks in his motel room. “It’ll help you save money,” he said. “Nothing will happen,” he said smiling. Melinda believed him.
Inside the motel room, the nice young man turned into a regular Mr. Hyde. He ripped Melinda’s blouse from her body, slapped her face, and shoved her body to the bed and raped her. When he was finished, he redressed, took what money she had and left her on the bed; her face a massive series of bruises building, her arms filled with the same, her virginity shattered, and she was alone. For the briefest of moments, Melinda felt as if she were home again.
Melinda slowly came around to the way the real world operates. After her injuries healed, after she formulated a plan of survival, she found a job. Not a regular job, but it was still one of independence; working the streets at night. But Melinda never became your average hooker.
She would take her john’s for a spin and her fee was high, and it would always end the same way.
Melinda always insisted the john’s buy a motel room someplace outside the city. Once in the room, Melinda would pull from her purse a knife and she would use it on every man who touched her behind closed doors. When she was finished, she would shower away the blood, redress, replace the knife back into her small purse, and leave unnoticed.
By her third month, Melinda found out she was pregnant. She made up her mind to give up the baby to a foster home. She knew she couldn’t take care of a baby on her own, not with what she was doing.
Bye the ninth month the baby came and with all the months that came and went, over a hundred men were murdered. She always took great pains to cover her tracks, but the law catches up to you sooner or later.
Melinda had looked at the small face of her child, a girl, and suddenly all the hatred and anger she had been feeling disappeared. She didn’t want to give her daughter away. She wanted a real job and raise her child better than she was taken care of, but the law wouldn’t let her and now she’s in trouble.
As much as she wanted to take care of her daughter, Melinda knew it was only a matter of time before the police came for her.
She asked the lady across the hall to watch her baby for a short period of time. The lady, your typical grandmotherly type, smiled and said yes.
Melinda went back inside her apartment, walked to the bedroom dresser, and pulled out a gun she bought a long time ago. It was loaded.
She walked to the patio window and looked seven stories below and watched as tiny orbs of light streaks from cars went in all directions. All the sounds from below reached up to her. The shouting of angry men, laughter from a distant corner, horns blaring, tires screeching and brakes whining, and people dying.
Another sound that approached her building were the sirens of red and blue lights from police cars. Melinda knew they were coming for her. She didn’t invest in a police-scanner for nothing.
She closed her eyes, and in the dream held within her mind, she could see the police taking the elevator to the seventh floor. She could see the doors close behind them as they got on and she watched the doors close behind them as they got off. She could feel them approaching her door and ringing her doorbell.
Melinda opened her eyes wide in fear, not for herself but for her daughter. Melinda knew she wouldn’t be able to take care of her. Melinda prayed as the trigger was ever slowly pulled back. Melinda prayed a good family would take her daughter in and treat her as one of their own.
The short muzzle of steel weighed heavily in her mouth.
The doorbell rang.
Melinda never heard the deafening roar of the bullet.
… and the night, like all the ones to have passed, with those yet to be, has claimed its share of the burden of life for one night.
… a message from the night
Step right up, try your luck and see if you can survive.
The next time you are walking, wherever that may be, listen to the branches sway, listen to the gentle bending in the wind; or is it someone following you?
When you walk down a dark street to get to your car and you pass under a dimly-lit streetlight and see your shadow for a fleeting second; or is that the shadow belonging to someone directly behind you?
The night holds many unexplained mysteries. When you are surrounded by the hours of nightfall, be careful not to become one of the unexplained, one of the forgotten, one of the lonely; one of the frightened.
… and don’t say it can’t happen to you, because it can. I know it can. You see, the night follows you everywhere, even when you sleep.
You can run, but you cannot hide.