He was holding up his warrant card.
“Police Officer Alex Bateman,” he said. “May I come in?”
What did he want? What could I say? I felt like turning around and running, but that would’ve been pointless. He’d have caught me. Or he’d have called his colleagues at the station, they’d put out an APB, and I’d be captured within an hour.
So, if I couldn’t run, what then should I do?
I decided to brass it out.
“What if I were to refuse to let you in?” I asked.
He studied my face closely.
“Then I’d have to arrest you and take you to the station for a chat.”
I didn’t think it’d be a good idea to provoke him into arresting me. There was a chance I could convince him that I hadn’t committed any crime.
“You better come in.”
I led him through to the kitchen. Moloch the black cat was curled up next to the radiator. He opened his eyes, looked at us, decided we weren’t worth the effort of keeping his eyes open, and shut them again.
I pulled a couple of chairs out from under the table.
“Take a seat,” I said, sitting in one myself.
He sat down. We were within touching distance, the copper and the prime suspect in Dave Carrion’s murder case. I wondered if he was going to caution me, or begin with an informal chat.
I decided to get him onside with a show of hospitality.
“I could do with a cup of tea,” I said. “Do you want me to make you one while I’m at it?”
I brewed the tea and brought it to the table. His eyes flickered up and down my face.
“What’s your name?” He asked.
“I’m called Kali.”
“There’s something we need to talk about, Kali,” he began.
“What is it you do want to discuss?”
I knew the answer even before he opened his mouth.
“A young man called David Carrion. I believe he was killed near a flat you used to occupy.”
He sat back and waited for my reaction. He wanted me to incriminate myself in some way then he’d probably question me under caution. I squirmed in my seat, shaking my head I was trying to keep a lid on things, but felt myself reddening.
“I don’t know anyone called David Carrion.”
“I think you do,” he said calmly. “I’ve made a few enquiries. It seems that you and Carrion used to frequent the same places together. You were captured on video at the scene of the crime, actually committing the crime. What do you say to that?”
I remained silent. I didn’t want to rush into a reply. I needed to come up with something that wouldn’t give any hostages to fortune.
“Well?” He asked.
I opened my mouth to tell him that it was a case of mistaken identity, but before I could speak, there was a loud knocking from the cellar.
Bateman’s brow furrowed.
“What was that?” He asked.
“What was what?”
“That knocking noise.”
I was about to deny that there had been any noise, when it happened again, louder this time.
“I think it must be the central heating,” I said. “It does that sometimes. I’ll go turn it off.”
“You’re going nowhere,” he said. “That’s not the central heating.”
He stood up, grabbed my arm, and pulled me roughly to my feet.
“It sounds to me as if you have someone imprisoned down there,” he said. “Someone who might end up meeting the same fate as David Carrion if I don’t stop you. Show me where you’ve put him.”
Bateman forcibly propelled me out of the kitchen and up the hall to the cellar door, which he opened, before turning on the light.
“Who’s down there?” He shouted.
There was no response.
He marched me down the steps, still gripping me firmly by the arm. We reached the last step and entered the cellar. Bateman looked around.
“Christ, it stinks down here,” he said. “What the fuck does it smell of?”
I heard a meee-ow, and we both looked around. Moloch the cat had followed us.
There was a knocking noise from the coffin.
“Fuck, there’s someone in there,” said Bateman.
He went over to the coffin, dragging me with him.
“Wait a minute. It’s been shut and locked from the outside. You’ve locked him in there. You’ve fucking well locked some poor bastard in there. What were you planning to do to him, eh, you fucking evil bitch?”
He let go of my arm.
“Don’t you dare try and run off, or I’ll have you, I swear I will,” he said. “Now stand over there where I can see you.”
I was pretty sure he’d catch me if I tried to escape, so I stood where he told me to.
He unscrewed the wingnuts which held the coffin lid in place. When he’d undone the last one he stepped back.
“You can come out now,” he said. “I’ve unfastened the lid.”
The lid lifted an inch as if by magic then began to slide to one side, scraping against the carcass of the coffin. It reached the tipping point then fell sideways to the floor with a clatter.
Moloch jumped then he froze to the spot with his fur all on end.
“My God,” said Bateman. “I don’t know what that smell is, but it just got lot worse.”
We stared at the coffin – me, Bateman, and even Moloch.
A pair of hands grabbed the top edge from the inside. It was hard to tell what colour they were in the poor lighting conditions in the cellar, but if I had to guess I’d have said they were green. The next thing we saw was David Carrion pulling himself up into a sitting position.
He looked our way.
It wasn’t just the back of his head that had suffered when he’d fallen down the stairs near my flat; his face had been lumped and bumped in the fall. After that, it’d rotted some while he’d been stored in the spare room. Finally, in the damp conditions of the cellar, it’d been colonised by a thriving patch of fungus.
It’s fair to say he didn’t look too healthy.
He fixed me with an eye which was threatening to part company with its socket.
“Oh, my, fucking, God.” said Bateman. “What in fuck’s name is that?”
The creature that had once been David Carrion stood up, climbed from the coffin, lowered itself from the table, and turned to us.
Moloch hissed and retreated to the stairs. As soon as he reached them, he turned tail and fled. I could only assume that if he’d ever been possessed by the demon Moloch, he was possessed by it no longer.
Too scared to move, I stood watching as the creature advanced on us. Bateman must’ve felt the same as I did, because he didn’t run away either, he just kept repeating:
“Oh my God, Oh my, God, Oh my God.”
He was nearer to the thing than I was. It quickly closed the gap between them. He drew his truncheon but before he could land a clean blow it got its teeth fastened in his face and he went down screaming.
The sight of his blood seemed to end my paralysis. I turned and fled, trying to ignore the soggy munching noise behind me, which, I knew, was the sound of the creature feasting on Bateman’s body. I also knew that as soon as it was finished with him, it would be coming after me.
When I got to the top of the cellar steps I slammed the cellar door shut and bolted it. I didn’t know how long this would delay the creature.
Not long enough.
I grabbed my handbag from my room. It contained my passport and Victor and Dorothy’s bank cards and pin numbers. There was enough money in their accounts to finance me on the run for a good long while.
I rushed along the corridor to the outside door. Behind me the cellar door rattled. The creature was already at the top of the cellar steps and trying to get out. It had seemingly been satisfied with only a few mouthfuls from Bateman’s dying body, and had already decided to pursue me.
I reached the outside door. It was locked. I’d locked it after letting Bateman in.
The cellar door was being smashed into splinters. Soon I heard footsteps coming in my direction.
I fumbled with the key to the outside door, my hands trembling with fear. The creature was almost on me when I threw open the door then slammed it shut in the creature’s face, and locked it from the outside. It was a manoeuvre which would buy me some time, but no more than a few minutes.
I fled down the drive, noting as I did so Moloch’s glowing eyes. He was cowering beneath a bush.
When I reached the street, fortune smiled on me. A taxi was headed my way. I hailed it down and it pulled up alongside me. The cab driver leaned through his open window and said:
“Where are you going to, Miss?”
He looked at my face and a troubled expression appeared on his. I ignored it.
“St. Pancras Station please,” I said.
I needed no encouragement.
As we travelled through the dark streets I noticed that whenever the cab driver checked his rear view mirror, he seemed more interested in looking at me than at the road. I pulled a small mirror from my handbag. There was blood smeared around my mouth like red lipstick gone wrong. Doubtless it had got there when Bateman’s neck had been squirting blood in all directions. I did my best to wipe it off with a tissue.
“I had an accident,” I explained. “I banged my face on a cupboard door and cut my lip. I didn’t realise how much I’d bled. I promise I won’t get any on your cab.”
“I wondered what had happened,” he said. “I was about to ask.”
We reached St. Pancras and I paid him the fare. I went to the toilets and cleaned my face properly then I used Dorothy’s debit card to buy a ticket to Paris on the cross channel train. It was due to depart in fifteen minutes.
After rushing to the platform I boarded the train, sitting with my back to the engine allowing me to survey the route the creature would have to take to get to the carriage.
I prayed that the train would leave for France before the creature found me.
The creature didn’t go to any of its old haunts – there would’ve been news reports if it had done. Instead, it seemed fixated on pursuing me.
It stalked me across continents, even though I’d given it the gift of life. I didn’t know what more it could possibly want from me, but my every instinct told me I was better off not finding out.
So I stayed on the road, criss-crossing Europe for two years, before I left for South America.
I imagined I might flee to the icy wastes of the Arctic for a final showdown with it, but of course I didn’t. The last thing I wanted was to confront it, so I kept moving.
Wherever I went, I wouldn’t be safe, and I couldn’t stay in any one place for long or it’d catch me.
It nearly got me in Vienna. When I escaped the thing, it was furious that it killed two innocent victims in its rage. The blood lust I saw in its eyes was frightening to behold.
I prayed to God I’d never see it again. But somehow I knew I would.
I was living in a wooden shack in the shanty town on the outskirts of La Paz when it happened.
I’d been to the store to get a few groceries then made my way back to my hovel, looking out for danger as I always did. I unlocked the door, clutching my shopping, I took one last look around, pushed the door open, and went inside.
The door seemed to close behind me of its own volition.
For a moment I wondered what was going on, then I saw the thing standing there. It’d been hiding behind the door.
The lighting in my shed was poor. Even so, I could see it quite clearly.
Its mouldy face was covered in scars; the thing was a vision of ugliness, and I’d created it.
I dropped my bag of groceries. Other than for that, I didn’t move. I couldn’t. I was paralysed with fear.
The thing looked me up and down then it reached out with its arms, put its hands around my throat, and pushed me back, so that I was rammed up against my own front door.
I prayed that someone might see through the window what was going on, but I knew that would be impossible. One of the reasons I’d chosen my shed was that the windows granted a poor view of the interior to anyone who was outside. I’d made matters worse by putting up curtains which I kept almost fully closed during the day.
I gripped its wrists to relieve the pressure on my throat, but the thing was so strong that this made no difference, so I lashed out with my hands and feet, but it didn’t seem to feel pain.
My throat was being crushed. I couldn’t breathe, couldn’t think, and was gasping for air. Those fingers were squeezing the life out of me.
There was a crunching noise, which I felt as much as heard, and I realised that the structures in my throat had given way under the pressure the thing was exerting on me with its hands.
I felt myself slipping into unconsciousness, which was a merciful release from the pain.
I came-to on my bed. Other than for a headache and a tender neck, I didn’t feel too bad. I was fatigued from the trauma I’d gone through, but felt as if I’d recover my energy before too long. I lay there for a while, wondering where the thing had gone, and then I forced myself to get to my feet.
I was alone in the bedroom. I walked over to the wall and looked in the mirror, so that I could check what damage had been done to me.
My eyes were bloodshot, presumably a side-effect of having been strangled into a state of unconsciousness. There were marks on my face which I’d probably done to myself while I’d been flailing around, desperate to escape. My neck had a deep purple line running around it, and dark bruises the shape of thumbprints.
The thing has taken its revenge, I thought. It must be satisfied with what it’s done to me, because it’s gone. Now I can give up running, and resume a normal life at last.
Just then, the door opened and it came in. It’d been in the other room, the only other room I had. It smiled at me. I took a step back, anxiously.
“No need to be scared, Sally,” it said. “I’m not going to hurt you.”
It came closer.
“I’ve always loved you,” it said. “I don’t think you know how much I loved you. All I ever wanted was to be with you. Now at last we’re together.”
I felt reassured by those words. It wasn’t going to hurt me anymore.
“I’ve made sure we can be together forever,” it said.
Then I saw the harvesting stone on the table next to my bed, and I understood what the thing had done.
That’s when I started screaming.
Raising Dave is © Copyright 2017 by Jack Strange. Permission to publish this story has been granted by the author.
Next week, a new short story From Jack Strange, inspired by….
The latest from Jack Strange
THE STORY SO FAR…
In Celebrity Chef Zombie Apocalypse, Professor Ted Forsyth made an amazing breakthrough. He created the ‘Lazarus Engine’ which could bring the dead back to life. Forsyth and his nephew Robert Turner tested the machine on a dead cat called Henderson, and on a dead celebrity chef called Floyd Rampant.
The Lazarus Engine brought Henderson and Rampant back to life but also turned them into sex-crazed flesh-eating zombies.
Rampant killed and ate the hapless inventor and his nephew, and then embarked on a crusade to conquer the world by making an army of undead celebrity chefs to do his bidding.
His plan was thwarted by Tarquin Camemblert, the British Prime Minister.
Camemblert lured Rampant and his zombie army to the town of Huddersfield, West Yorkshire and bombed the town out of existence.
The only zombies who survived were Rampant, his two lieutenants, and Henderson, the zombie cat.
Wally Pratt, a distant relative of Professor Forsyth, inherited his house, and the Lazarus Engine with it. Pratt was a member of an extreme right-wing political party called NS18.
In order to earn kudos in the party, Pratt made a creature from recycled body parts which looked like Margaret Thatcher. He brought it to life using the Lazarus Engine, and the former great leader was reborn.
He had created Thatchenstein.
Now read on….
Thatchenstein, the third book in this unique horror comedy series by Jack Strange for KGHH Publishing, is the best yet and ends with a powerful climax.
Also coming soon from Mr. Strange – NOIRVELLAS: MANCHESTER VICE from Coffin Hop Press
Follow Jack Strange on Twitter @jackstrange11.