May 30, 2011 § Leave a comment
He took the stairs two at a time, his boots clicking on the faded wood where the metal along the front edge scraped each other step. As always, committing to the action made it feel real. His memory often slid a patina of protective sepia tone over his own thoughts, but not now. The shadow he cast as he went down past the recessed lighting reminded him that he had no real idea of what he’d do when he found them.
As he burst out of the back door of the converted old whaler’s house that served as apartments for college students too young to know they were being cheated and people like him, who took the trade off for anonymity, he could actually smell them on the wind. Four, maybe five (the fifth smelled different somehow, as if the smell of the other four had gotten all over him but not inside him) and heading down the street towards the water. The moon was entirely hidden behind clouds that speeded and gleamed and quivered with its light. As he ran around to the front of the house (a front door he didn’t have the key to and had never used) he saw an old disposable lighter on the ground and stopped to pick it up. A few experimental flicks of his thumb told him it still worked, and that he still didn’t know how to use a lighter without hurting his thumb. « Read the rest of this entry »
May 22, 2011 § Leave a comment
He threw his bloody clothes in an orange leaf litter bag and tossed the jacket into the shower. He’d have to use something from Henry’s notebooks to fix it anyway, so getting it wet wasn’t a tremendous problem, and he couldn’t stand the smell. How blood could smell that bad, he had no idea. Perhaps it was just part and parcel of the disease that made them in the first place, not man, not beast. His skin was seamed with scars, faded and livid, along his back and down his arms and legs. A long coiling scar across much of his upper back and even up his neck looked almost like a design in the yellow light from the old bulb recessed above the stained and flaking mirror. The sink was the same almost yellow color.
The water was nearly scalding. He stepped into it and bent his head, black hair matted with sweat, his nose running from the steam. A few coughs and some scraping, hacking noises and he spit up blood mixed with phlegm from where his ribs had nearly broken. Under the water his side was turning purple, bruising like bloom on a bright morning. All debts came to call eventually. Pain crawled up and down his body, a rather sparse and skinny frame for someone his height and build. There was muscle along the chest and shoulders, but he clearly hadn’t been eating.
Some jobs you take for the money. It hadn’t really sit all the well with him to kill the rat-men. Of the numerous and manifold redundant legions of nightmare things that one could run into at night in Rhode Island, were-rats were by far the least threatening he could think of unless you counted the old gill man who lived in Blackamore Pond. Sure, get enough of them together and they might snatch a dog or a really stupid child, but usually the worst they got up to was living in someone’s dumpster. « Read the rest of this entry »
May 13, 2011 § Leave a comment
Some jobs you take because you need the money.
The leather on his back was shredded in several places from filthy claws, and a writhing pile of mangy fury and clashing teeth tried to drag him under it and chew him into pieces. He did not fall under the press of their bodies. Rather, he growled himself, and over his face a translucent mask flickered, a skull with enormous fangs. His right hand swept and bodies tumbled away from him. That arm crashed into the metal post of the streetlight and it groaned and crumpled around the forearm.
Leaping back, the largest of the screeching, half human things snapped its prominent incisors only for the left arm to reach out and crush the entire face, muzzle, teeth, fur and even the bones of the snout. Still clutching the ruined face, that arm snapped once and used the wererat as a club to crush and mangle its brothers and sisters. Dropping the improvised club he started simply lashing about himself with arms stained with blood and flesh, claws that were not there cutting and tearing as main force shattered bones.
Then he stood atop a pile of mangled rats that walked like men, covered in their reeking blood and sour flesh. His beard matted with it, his hair strings of his own sweat mixed with it. The flickering image of the skull fading from his face, he panted and tried not to gag. The blood was even smeared up the cement walls of the loading dock behind the old Almacs (now a Shaws) supermarket. There were twelve of them dead in three piles.
He sometimes joked about being a glorified exterminator. Today, it wasn’t a joke. Feeling a pain in his left shoulder that he knew would dig its way down his back into his ribcage and eventually leave him barely able to sit up, he walked gingerly over the bodies and down the ramp towards Aqueduct Road. Waiting under the dome light above the Tony’s Pizza was a tall, thin, craggy faced man with steel grey hair and skin a shade past what his father had always called olive, but which just looked brown to him.
“You got all of them?”
“In the world? No. There’s still hundreds of them in Providence alone. But I got the ones living out in your dumpsters. You can go look if you want.” He hiked a thumb back down the alleyway, where the trail of bloody footprints led. “Personally, I’d definitely consider burning that before daylight. Unless you want to explain to people why there’s a huge pile of human sized rats behind your future development project.”
A grunt was the only answer, and the handing over of an envelope. It weighed about right. He placed it in the right inside pocket of his ruined jacket, which he was going to have to fix again. His sunken green eyes looked down at himself and just how covered in drying blood he was. His back burned where their claws had failed to tear him open, now that the ancient cave and its lord were gone from him.
“Not going to count it?”
“I just killed a whole lot of things. If you’re really dumb enough to rip me off after that, then good luck to you.” He turned away and began shuffling downhill, away from Aqueduct. “I gotta get a bath.”