The Family Tradition

It had taken a week. For one week Jasper’s lover was left lonely in the dank cellar of the old urban duplex. He had done what he could about the insects. The ceiling of the little concrete room was a maze of fly paper. The floor was littered with little saucers of beer to lure slugs. Tons of those little hexagonal death traps built special for the ants.

It had all worked pretty well aside for her right eye. On the fourth day of her mourning, he had gone down with a box of air fresheners only to find the fluid from her right eye leaking down her cheek. For a moment it looked as though she were crying, if her tears were a bit more viscous and gel like then they would have been in life.

After he had wiped the fluid from her cheek with peroxide, he saw that a rough square had been chewed from her iris and part of her pupil. He cried silently to himself without realizing it as he propped her head upright, so no more fluid would leak from her eye.

Dangling the fresheners one by one from the fly paper and the occasional errant nail from the ceiling, he wondered what to do about it. The eye was not so bad, considering how old the basement and building were, and considering the colonies of life that must be mainly hidden from view in the house.

No, the real problem was the moisture and the heat. Jasper was no mortician or forensic scientist. He had no way of knowing if what he was doing was even effective or not, but it was all he could think to do. So three times a day he would come and wipe her down with a cloth and peroxide, hoping to kill off the majority of the bacteria he knew must be eating her, breaking her down slowly to take her away from him in little rotting chunks.

When he had finished dangling the air fresheners he decided to fill in her eye with a product called new skin. After it had dried, it colored itself a milky white, not the clear invisible coat that the bottle had advertised. As he wiped down her cheeks with his peroxide dampened cloth he wondered if an epoxy of some sort would have worked better. He was crying again, but he still didn’t realize it.

A week of sleepless nights, driving around parts of the city you wouldn’t want to drive down in broad daylight. Sometimes he drove with the lights off, because the drug dealers and the addicts tended to scatter if they saw your headlights. All those rapists, and thieves and killers would scurry away just like the despicable roaches that Jasper knew they were.

He searched high and low in the alleys where crack and heroin were sold for prices ranging from ten dollar packets to an evening with someone’s unfortunate minor. All to no avail, the killer was laying low somewhere. Hiding until Jasper’s light burnt out. Except that Jasper knew the rage burning inside him would never be spent. As the nights stretched on without any sign of the killer, a gnawing sense of desperation grew inside him. Pounding in his temples and hammering away in his chest.

On the sixth day Jasper’s landlord came to the door, suspicious. A loud insistent knocking brought him away from his cleaning routine. When he opened the door he found the elderly man who owned the home, and lived next door, staring at him through the tiny crack that opened.

“Thomas,” Jasper cracked in what was intended to be surprise, but instead just sounded weary. “Am I late on the rent again already?”

The older man frowned at him through the door, “No Jasper…well uh, yeah, but that’s not what I’m after. I know that you and Celia have just had some kind of incident. I notice that Celia has not left the house for some time now and I just want to make sure the two of you are alright.”

Thomas had heard the gunshot the night the killer had broken into their home and had in fact called the police. Jasper had been very careful to speak to the police and Thomas separately, since Thomas had known that Celia was home. Although at that time, he had not known why, aside from the intense fear that they would take her from him.

Jasper quickly shuffled out onto the porch closing the door behind him. Thomas backed up a good five feet, crinkling his nose with a sour look. “Jasper,” the landlord asked slowly. “Are you having a problem with the septic system? I appreciate you trying not to bother me much, but that can be a serious problem.”

“Oh no, it was just the storm from the other night, sometimes those sewers start to get full and the smell can work its way up for a few days is all. Yeah, and don’t worry about Celia. She’s going be just fine, she’s just a bit shook up you know. If I hadn’t made it home when I did…”

Jasper had made it home at the right time. The house had been pitch black, he could hear her crying in their bed room. He could hear her pleading with someone. Storming into the bedroom he could see her half naked in the dark and cringing. The only thing he could see of the shadow hovering over her were those hollow caved in looking dark eyes. The ones reserved for life time hard drug users.

He started to scream when there was a motion from the hulk and then a gun shot rang out as something flicked by Jaspers ear. A second rapid motion followed with another gun shot and then Celia had stopped screaming. The shadow then ran from the room and out of the house. Jasper could have saved her. He just failed to do so.

“I can’t lose her Thomas,” he finally said with his eyes staring off into the memory. “I just can’t ever lose her.”

“Look Jasper,” the landlord answered him absently. “I can see that you both need rest. Just let me know if you need anything,”

“Oh sure, and thanks Tom. I’ll let you know if that smell doesn’t clear with the flood waters too.”

“But you know the rent is past due.”

“Thanks again Thomas,” Jasper said as he smoothly stepped back into the house and shut the door. He knew that at six days, soon she would fall apart completely on him. He needed that bastard and he needed him now.

***

“Nah Davis,” Big Gus dropped in his rumbling voice. “I’m telling you that this cat was looking for somebody.”

“Probably just the cops,” Davis said waving Gus’ words from the air around him.

“Nah Davis, everybody knows Big G don’t give a shit about bacon. I strolled right up to him, coasting through here with his lights down and I said to him, ‘What’s the biggest rock you can pick up?’”

“That isn’t gonna prove jack, Fatty.”

“I told you not to call me that shit again Davis.”

“Cool it now Big G,” Davis said as he reached behind to put a hand on his pistol grip. He’d used the last two bullets about six nights back, but Fatty didn’t know that.

“Just saying Davis, been a minute since we had a punch out. The cat didn’t know what the hell I was talking about. A cop would have said something crazy high, or at least known what I meant. He wasn’t looking for tail either. Rolonda was shakin’ it at him figuring that’s what he was after. No reaction.”

“Yeah, well whatever. Hey G, do you know if Dice has bullets?”

“You been acting rough this week Davis. It ain’t healthy to bring business home with you.”

“Fuck off, Fatty.”

Fatty moved a hand to his waist band but Davis was faster. He slammed the barrel of the empty gun hard into Fatty’s temple.  Fatty smiled back at Davis but stopped with his pistol pointed in the air.

“You jus said you was empty Davis.”

“No I didn’t Fatty,” Davis answered, praying to god that he hadn’t. He had not yet had a fix today, it made it difficult to think clearly. “Now are you gonna give me your piece, or do I cap your ass right here?”

***

The read out on the clock in Jasper’s car said it was nine o’clock.  He pulled around the little alley and suddenly saw those same haunting eyes. He blinked and jerked his head back in that direction, but this time only saw two men standing together. One was holding a gun to the others head, while the target passed over another gun back to him.

“I SEE YOU MOTHER FUCKER!!!” He screamed as he flicked on his brights and stomped down on the gas pedal.  The two men briefly cried out, before the car slammed hard into them. One of them flopped hard into the front wind shield splitting it and spraying some blood. The other dropped suddenly out of view, as his leg snapped at the knee and dragged him to the ground.

“DON’T DIE!” Jasper screamed, as the airbag exploded in his face. For a moment the wind was knocked out of him and he couldn’t move. Then he started breathing rapidly and panicky, as he hauled himself out of the car.

The big fat man was groaning, the smaller man who had been dragged under the car was not making any noise. Hoping he was the right man, Jasper dragged the big man into the back of his car and drove backward out of the alley.

Davis continued to lay still and pretend to be dead for another ten minutes, before pulling out his cell phone and calling 911.

***

Huffing and puffing, Jasper rolled the fat man down the cellar stairs. He cried out a bit and then his head bounced hard off of the exposed brick walls, and he fell silent. The clock struck midnight as he managed to shove the man into the room with Celia and gather his chalk, blade, and candles to the room.

It had only taken a week for him to become uneducated and superstitious like his mother had been before him. He was thinking in particular of an altar set up he had seen her working at.

“What’s this one for?”

“It’s for making deals.”

“Deals with whom?”

“Spirits.”

“Are they good?”

“Who could know?”

He hadn’t asked anymore questions after that. Her rituals scared him, not like his brother Mateo who had taken it seriously and relished it. Mateo who killed himself in his bedroom, with those same funny symbols scrawled all over the walls.  Jasper flipped through the pages of the big old book his mother had called “The Family Tradition”, trying to recognize some of those symbols.

Flicking through the pages, Jasper thought of another incident when he had asked his mother about her rituals.  It had been shortly after the incident about deals. He had opened the little door to her room and saw a statue of Jesus in the center of a circle. The symbols scrawled around in all directions did not seem to make him nervous as had the symbols from last time.

“Do you believe in the Jesus man, momma?” He had asked her in all seriousness. It was the first familiar image he’d seen in her ceremony area. His mother looked at him with a smug smirk, not knowing that as they spoke Mateo was upstairs committing ritual suicide.

“I believe he has a place, and that he can useful to me.”

“What does that mean?”

“It means he won’t be no use to you.”

It seemed to Jasper’s memory that Jesus was not of use to his mother either. Only six hours later she would be screaming out for him over and over again. She never did get the answer she was looking for.

Finally a page turned and he saw what he was looking for. He clicked on the light in the cellar room and grabbed a piece of chalk from his bag.

***

The morphine drip felt good. It wasn’t quite the fix Davis would usually scare up, but under the circumstances it felt just fine. The guy that ran him and Fatty down was the man from last week, he knew it. He hadn’t got a good look at him, but he knew it just the same.

Something was going to have to be done. Davis did not understand how the man could have known it was him there in the dark.  That didn’t matter either. He wasn’t sure why he had carted off Fatty. It wasn’t to hide the evidence, because he hadn’t laid a finger on Davis. It all made him feel very nervous.

Probably that bitch he shot was dead, otherwise there was no way the guy would go through so much trouble to hunt him down. He might have assumed as much, he’d pressed the gun right against her temple before firing.

If only he hadn’t woken up so late that day, he never would have been in that neighborhood. Normally if you got up early, you could find things that people were throwing away that could be pawned for some cash. Never very much, but then again, you didn’t really need too much. If you could scare up twenty bucks, you could be set for a day or two.

Instead he slept till noon, because of the previous nights partying.  All the curbs were already cleared by the time he made his way out to the streets. So he just started walking in one direction, and kept walking until it was night. He had been walking by that house when he saw her in there without a top on, and the light from her lamp gave him a wonderful view. He didn’t think the back door would be unlocked.

Now he just needed to decide how to handle all of this. Something had to be done. Otherwise that guy would definitely come back and finish up the job. Maybe he thought it was Gus and not him who had capped his woman. Still, Fatty would holler like a stuffed weasel that was too big to get back out of the hen house in no time.

***

Jasper studied the fat man who was staring blearily at him from the center of the black chalk triangle he’d been chained too. The big man had started to come around once Jasper had begun to carve the symbols in his flesh. He didn’t think he was doing this exactly the way the book said to, especially since he was only skimming the pages. Still, he was pretty sure ordinarily you only pick one spirit to call.

Since he had no idea which one was the right one, and didn’t feel that he had the time to figure it out, he simply started carving all of the seals he could find into the fat man.

“What’s your name man?” the big man’s voice boomed in a whisper. “I don’t know you. I done nothing to you. You don’t have any call to be carving me up like this. This looks like some voodoo shit. Are you doing some voodoo shit to me?”

Jasper ignored the man and flipped through the pages of the book. Then he squinted and peered up the fly papered ceiling. “I… I command you to come.” He said finally.

“You mother fucker!” the big man swore at him. “This is some voodoo shit. Stop it.”

“I said I command you to come!” Jasper shouted this time.

“Who are you calling man? You cut that shit out.”

“Where are you? Cowards!” Jasper screamed out in frustration, then began hammering the big man in the triangle with his fist over and over again. “I said, COME!”

Blood wet his knuckles and began to trickle down the man’s chin. Then he began to chuckle, except it wasn’t the kind of chuckle you would expect from a big man like him. It sounded like a lot of people chuckling.

“Well here I am Jasper,” said the voice’s from the grinning bloody mouth of the big man. It further confused him, that the voices said slightly different words at times. Instead of I, some of the voices said we, still others said us.

Jasper stumbled back a few feet from the big man, who continued to grin wildly at him. The man’s eyes became shadowy and glittered with hatefulness. Jasper waved the big ritual blade at him. “You can’t trick me. Are you throwing your voice?”

“Who needs to throw noise?” a voice growled right into his ear, even though the big man’s lips hadn’t moved. “Why have you called us here?” the voices asked from his mouth this time.

“I need my Celia back,” he said pointing at his lover’s week old corpse. The man’s head tilted slightly in that direction and sniffed.               

“She has not been prepared,” some voices saying ‘it’, others ‘vessel’.

“I don’t want to prepare her, I want her back.”

“You misinterpret us,” other voices stating ‘me’, and ‘misquote’.

“Are you saying that you can’t do it?”

“She is with us,” ‘Me’,echoed other voices. “She cannot see it clearly. What will you give us?”

“I have brought this man for you. I want to trade him.”

“A fool presumes to give us (me) what (that) is already mine (defiled).”

If it were not for the multitude of pitches in the voices, it would have been impossible to understand any of them. Even so, listening to the voices speak while catching the random deviations in their vocabulary was pressing Jaspers mind into overdrive.

“You will not help me?” he asked the grinning and bloody living altar before him, beginning to sob. “Please, I’ll do anything, give you anything at all.”

“We (I) (Us) (They) might (may) (can) service (fulfill) you.”

“What price do you ask?”

“The cost (price) (deal) has already been struck (forged) (sealed). We (I) (us) will take (possess) (own) everything.” Jasper felt a chill crawl up his neck as he noticed none of the voices had deviated on the last word.

“And what about this man?”

“Kill (end) (ruin) him (it)”

“Do you want to depart from him first?”

“No (why?), cut (carve) (remove) it’s (his) (the) heart.”

Pushing the tip of the blade firmly against the man’s chest, the voices began to cackle at Jasper. Sweat began to bead on his brow as he hesitated, licking his lips and taking a deep breath. There was a slight bit of resistance, as he pushed deep into the man’s breast before the pressure gave way with a sickening speed.

The flickering and hateful shadows cleared from the man’s eyes, and his rumbling voice began to scream, mingling with the horrific laughter. Another sound below the others reminded Jasper of the squealing of pigs.

The bones of the man’s rib cage made snapping and scraping noises as Jasper twisted and pried at the man’s chest with the big dagger. A sour tang started to fill his stomach and almost forced its way out of his mouth, but he bit back the bile. Somehow he was certain that if he didn’t finish this, all he hoped for would be lost.

The big man’s eyes locked onto Jaspers as he dug the heart out of rough hole in his chest, causing both to scream shrilly.

“Feed (give) (present) it (us) to us (me).”

Still screaming Jasper shoved the heart up to the man’s grin, whose lips suddenly parted and snapped down into the right chamber hungrily, as blood sprayed back into Japer’s face from the valve tip.

The man-thing took several more ferocious bites, staring into Jasper’s eyes with that same conscious terror before suddenly slumping over. A gust seemed to rush through the room, stirring the freshener and fly paper. It may have been his imagination but he swore he saw some of the dead fly’s legs kicking.

“Jesus…” Jasper whispered spitting blood out of his mouth, wondering what kind of diseases the dead man may have had. As was the family history, no one responded. He shook his head and told himself that it likely didn’t matter if the man had any disease.

He wasn’t sure if the spirits would stay true to their words. The only thing he was fairly certain of was that this man had not been the man who shot and killed Celia. That, and the fact that he was probably going to hell.

***

Davis drummed his fingers off the newly installed steel bar holding his leg together. If he wasn’t so pumped up on the morphine it would have been excruciating. Now it just filled his leg with an oddly powerful vibrating sensation. He was getting annoyed that Shark wasn’t picking up the phone.

On the ninth ring, there was a click and an annoyed voice snapped out at him. “What fool? I’m at Christa’s.”

“As in the mother of my child?”

“She said you got a small dick.”

“I’m in the hospital.”

“She said it’s shriveled up and scrawny from all that smack you do.”

“I need you to come help me out with some business.”

“I don’t care about your business,” there was a grunt and the voice was pulled back from the phone. “Oh my god, you’re like a vacuum.” Another shift and the voice was back on the phone. “Christa is really pissed off at you. You need to come call her a skank some more please.”

“Shark, you need to come handle this business, I got money on it. Besides, everybody knows that you puff that rock all day long.”

“Yeah, I’m blasting fifties right now cuz, but it doesn’t make me stop wanting to blast this bitch’s throat.”

Davis snarled and bit his tongue hard. He’d kill Shark when this was over, but with Fatty gone and probably dead by now, there was no one else he could get to do it. “Listen, you want a hundred dollars or not?”

“GOD! Sorry baby…” Shark had started to say but he was interrupted by a female voice a little too close to the receiver, “Its O.K. baby, it went right down,” Shark started laughing and then got back on the phone. “Yeah I want a hundred dollars. Are you at Westing Receiving?”

***

The whole house was dark and empty besides Jasper and the two corpses. The house was still full of noises even as Jasper lay silent and listened in his bed. Laughter echoed from all directions and corners of the house. Squeals from pigs or worse sounded often, and there was the constant steady buzz of insects.

Knocking sounded from different walls or ceilings or floors, completely random in location but always in a series of three. The strength varied as much as the direction, but also in a series of three. Three house shaking booms in the bathroom might be followed by three pinkie taps above the bed.

The bedroom door swung open carrying with it a breeze that reeked of rotting meat. The thing that stood there did not look like Celia. It was her body sure enough, but it was nothing more than that. Jasper could see that the thing had been at work on the fat man.

The creature inside Celia’s body had torn off the man’s flesh, and was wearing it like a makeshift cape of some sort. Keeping it in place by sticking its head through a gash in between the face and the body of the skin. A crown of what could only be intestine was wrapped around her forehead and tied off almost to look like one of those Egyptian snake crowns you see in movies. Both of the Celia thing’s hands were palm up and stretched toward him. He could see in each hand between the thumb and fore finger one of the dead man’s eyes, and he had the horrible feeling that somehow they were looking at him.

“I (we) see (know) you baby (meal) (slave),” the thing grinned at him horribly.

Jasper simply began sobbing and shaking as the thing in his lover’s body took shambling steps toward him. “Kneel (worship) (bow) before (to) me (us),” it said to him. It stopped just before the foot of the bed.

“Celia?” Jasper finally mumbled. For a moment the things eyes cleared, and something that might have once been Celia looked at him, but there was no love in the dead things eyes. “You made a mistake baby,” it said in her voice. Then it reached out and hauled him face to face with it, pulling him close as though it would kiss him before sinking its teeth into the tender flesh around his lips. As the creature’s teeth scraped across his own, taking gouges of flesh away with it, he tried to scream. As his mouth opened the things teeth closed around his tongue and the rush of blood into his throat silenced him as he drowned in its arms.

***

Shark backed away from the window slowly as his body slicked over in a cold sweat.  On his initial approach to the house, he’d thought there was maybe a party going on in there. He’d heard several voices speaking at different pitches of excitement. That idea turned to confusion as he peeked into the window and saw only two silhouettes pressing against each other in the shadowy room. “Must be watching fuck films,” he muttered to himself after a moment.

Then the other noises came through the window, muffled and distant. There were crunching sounds, and something like wet flesh smacking together. The silhouette that looked as if it were wearing some drape like cape let go of the other and it fell to the floor with a hollow thumping sound. The fear that suddenly flooded his system was more powerful than anything he’d felt in his fifteen long years of smoking crack.

The strength and power he normally felt from the drugs, mingled with the fear and his body began to twitch with the urge to run. He bit his own tongue hard, drawing blood in order to stop the scream he didn’t know was about to escape from him.

Stumbling backwards from the window, Shark pulled his cell phone from his pocket and dialed up Davis. He hadn’t even heard the other end pick up when Davis voice crackled out at him. “You handle that Sharky?”

“Nah Davis, someone already handling this shit for you.”

“Bullshit.”

“I’m peacing out on this bitch.”

Shark flipped his phone shut ending the conversation. A familiar mechanical clink sounded behind him, and he automatically held his hands in the air.

“You’d better drop the phone too, son,” Thomas said in his watery voice. The shotgun in his hands was shaking a little, but the man facing Jasper’s window couldn’t see that. “I’ve already called the police, so I don’t expect you’ll need it.”

“Listen man,” Shark answered trying to keep the fear from his voice. “I was just leaving.”

“I heard that, what with you needing to make a phone call. I guess you or a friend might come back.”    

“I swear to God,” Shark said, unable to contain the terror he felt as he watched the shadows in the house. “I will never, ever be here again.”

“You got a piece on you kid?”

“I was just about to peace man.”

“Not that stupid. I mean a gun, a pistol.”

“Yeah, I got one.”

“Throw it down on the ground, slowly.”

Shark reached into the waistband of his pants slowly and deliberately, pulling out a chrome pistol and dropping it unceremoniously to the ground.

“How about a wallet?”

“You gonna rob me?”

“Probably should, bet you got filthy drug money in there. No I wouldn’t touch it. Pull out your wallet.”

Shark pulled out his wallet and flipped it open, prepared to pay for the privilege of fleeing the scene.

“I said not your money. I want your identification.”

“What?”

“Throw it down with the gun,” Thomas watched as the man slowly slid his ID out of the wallet and flicked it down with the pistol.

“Now you walk out of here. Don’t turn around and face me, you’re going the other direction. You keep walking that way until you know that I can’t see you anymore. If I see you again, I’m going to shoot you. You should leave town. I’m going to give your ID to the police. When you find a working pay phone, you should call your friend and tell him to run as well.”

“He ain’t my friend, you can have his ass.”

“Thug,” Thomas spat the words out his mouth. “You get the fuck out of here before I just shoot your ass anyway.” He watched the man walk away without ever seeing his face. He’d see it soon enough, along with a name and address. Once he was a few blocks down, he decided that the man was not going to turn around. That was good, the police response time in this neighborhood was slow.

Resting the shotgun in the cradle of his arm he sighed as he strolled toward the house. He knew something was wrong, it was like a hollow cold feeling in his bones. The thug had run off and the danger was over, but he didn’t feel any better.

When his hand knocked against the door it simply swung open with a slow creaking sigh. He couldn’t see anything inside the house but darkness and yet could not shake the feeling of seeing motion in the shadows.

“Celia, is that you in there?” he called out as he tip toed into the house, crinkling his nose at the over powering stench of rot. Sewer back up my ass, he thought to himself, there’s a dead dog in here.

That made sense. He had a no pet policy, and Jasper and his wife must have kept a dog. The intruder shot the dog and Celia was upset. Jasper was keeping him out of the house until he could bury it under cover of darkness.

“I’ll to have to get new carpets in the whole damned place,” he thought out lout to himself.  A shadow started to thump its way toward him, and he turned to it finishing his line of thinking. “This is exactly why I don’t allow dogs Celia,” the last syllable of her name left his mouth in a gasping exhale.

“What the hell’s happened to you?”

The things inside Celia had been busy redecorating their new vehicle. They had ripped out Jasper’s teeth and imbedded them root first into the ridges surrounding her lifeless eyes and a straight line down her nose.

Four white and jointed protrusions jutted along the edges of her face line. Fingers! Jasper thought frantically, Help me Jesus those are fingers.  “Bow (Worship) (Adore) to (us) me,” the thing said to him.

“Not gonna happen,” Thomas muttered simply in his no non-sense voice. Then he tilted the shotgun to his chin and pulled the trigger. 

***

“Listen,” the male nurse was telling Davis for the fifth time. “I’m sorry, but your medi-care is not going to cover you anymore. If you do not have another provider or form of payment, you need to leave.”

“Ya’ll just throwing me out huh?”

“There’s a cab up front that will take you wherever you need to go.”

“What kind of goodies am I getting?”

“ Vicodin. ”

“Don’t you mean Oxycotin?”

“No, now I’m going to roll you up to the cab O.K.?”

“One thing first.”

“What?” the exasperated nurse asked, ready to do anything to get rid of the man.

“Shoot me up a big shot of that morphine.”

“O.K.”

***

Officer Rourke wasn’t sure what to expect as he parked his cruiser outside the old duplex building. This wasn’t the worst neighborhood in town, but he was on his own today. It could be bad for police to be on their own in the neighborhoods of the city. The people there had tendency to band together, and they often distrusted the police.

The call had been a potential breaking and entering. Rourke knew that last week someone had broken into this house and shots had been fired, leading him to believe that there was probably an ongoing dispute over drug territory or product margins.

The house was dark and quiet. Most likely it meant that whatever was going on in there had already happened. He knew though, that it could just as easily mean that someone was in there with a gun trained on the door, waiting for him to come save the day or die trying.

“Dispatch,” he spoke into the walkie strapped on his shoulder. “This is officer Rourke of car twenty-six. I have arrived at the scene, and it’s quite. I’m approaching the house now.”

“Affirmative,” the distant crackling response came. Never truly alone, Rourke thought to himself as he drew his gun and put a hand on the door. “Alright,” Rourke called out loudly. “This is Rourke with the DPD, if you are armed put your weapons on the floor and your hands over your head.”

No one answered him, although he swore he could hear giggling and something else that might have been the words plaything.  “Now,” Rourke continued. “I have received a call for a potential B&E, your door is open, and I am coming in over concern for your safety in accordance with police code. Do not make any sudden movements until I have assessed the scene. I will fire if provoked.”

 He kicked open the door and immediately recognized the stench of death. Yeah, he thought to himself, someone has definitely been murdered here. Been dead awhile too. He squinted his eyes and tried to make out anything at all in the darkness of the house, but couldn’t see anything. The air was cold, too cold for this time of year. He reached to his shoulder and clicked on his flashlight, illuminating a ravaged bloody corpse with grey hair in the middle of the room. He did not get shot, Rourke thought to himself in a rapid and frightened burst of clarity.

“If there is anyone here,” Rourke shouted loudly. “Lay down on the floor and place your hands behind your back,” he turned around rapidly, shining his light in all directions and seeing no one.

“We (I) are (Am) here (present),” several voices seemed to come from as many directions to him.

“Who are you?” Rourke called spinning to find the source of the speakers. “Satan (beelzebub) (Adoni) god,” came the chorus of responses. Fuck, the frightened officer thought to himself, there’s some fucking wack job in here. Could be high on anything. Could be some pyscho satanist trash.

Finally the little beam of light from his shoulder illuminated the Celia thing huddled over the corpse, she hadn’t been there moments before. “Put your hands up!” he shouted training his gun on her. He nearly dropped the gun watching her rise and seeing the teeth and fingers protruding from her face, the sickening headband crowning her forehead and the long flowing cape of flesh dangling from her hunched back.

“Dispatch!” he shouted into the walkie on his right shoulder. “We got like some kind of torture victim here or something.” The Celia thing began to cackle at him, and he barely repressed the urge to empty his clip into it. “It’s… it’s fucking laughing at me.”

 “Officer did you say laughing?”

“Oh Fuck….Oh God help me.”

***

 The taxi pulled up outside the duplex as the shots were going off, and then silence. Davis noted the police cruiser, the open door of the house, the darkness that seemed to thrive with life and movement. “Nah man, this is the wrong place, I told you south west.”

“Bullshit kid,” The cabbie told him, obviously shaken. “I don’t know what you’re trying to pull but you get out of my cab. Now.” The cabbie pulled out a gun and showed it to Davis to prove he meant business. “Asshole,” Davis muttered as he scrambled out of the car. The cabbie left in a hurry, squealing the wheels and nearly breaking Davis’ leg again in the effort. Davis looked around assessing the situation.

He was stranded at the scene of the crime. The police were there, shots were fired. He could not hope to walk home. No one would come to get him. Here he was, to see this mess through to the end. There were no other options.

 He breathed a deep sigh and began to slowly limp up the stairs to the house. Some things worse than dying boy. His mother’s words echoed back to him, he didn’t understand why. He paused outside the door with a dread filling his stomach. This was going to be the end of Davis, he was certain of it. Still, somewhere in the back of his mostly burnt out mind he knew, it was as it should be. There was justice here. There were forces at work more powerful then he, and they had come to collect payment for his crimes.

“Fuck it,” he muttered to himself softly, and then limped over the thresh hold.

By Jon Vincent

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