Saturday, June 4, 2011

10DOM: Loose Threads (Mommy Dearest)

The pencil howls as it moves across the paper, scratching, scratching as each bit of lead drags is fingers to its white grave. The same two sentences mar the page;

'it came back. it waited all these years and then it came for me.'

Andrew writes it again and again, in thick dark letters. neat so it is legible, even by the men that now stare at him. They smirk, as if they know something, in their crumpled button up shirts, ties wagging like loose tongues from their necks. They think he killed her. They think he killed his mother. They may be right, he thinks continuing to write.

_____

"What the hell is that? Get that out of this house right now!" she screamed, standing in the door of the bedroom, startling the eight year old Andrew sitting criss cross applesauce on the round rug in the center of his bed room.

Andrew looked up, sending his eyes on a tour of the room to see what might be impetus of his mothers angst this time. Last week it was a record album he had borrowed from a boy at school.

"Satan's music," she had exclaimed, wringing her hands in her paisley apron, sending him marching out the door to walk it back to its rightful owner.

"All that hip shaking paves the road to hell," she had shouted down the sidewalk after him.

Settling on his mother, Andrew apathetically asked, "What did I do now, mother?"

Blood drained from her face, leaving her skin nearly opaque, the bones of her finger straightening toward the carpet where he sat. Her lips moved, dripping guttural sounds, the sounds a man might make with a chicken bone piercing his esophagus.

Turning his attention back to the small form crawling slowly across the carpet in front of him, Andrew taunted the small alligator with a finger until it snapped at the pink bit of flesh, missing by a few hairs. A small thread tied round its neck was grasped firm in his other hand, with more than enough play to let the alligator roam.

He found alligator in the concrete culvert by the school. Alligators were not prone to live in their part and he imagined some other child's parents had made them disposed of it after a poorly thought out pet store purchase. He liked to think it came all this way to find him.

Andrew had been praying for a friend and a week ago it arrived. Friends were not easy to come by, especially with a mother that kept you locked in the house every evening, afraid of what might get you. Something gruesome, like his father. Smuggling it into the house in his book bag, he had kept it under his bed, taking it out to play only when he knew she would not see, until today.

The broom caught Andrew at the base of his neck, throwing his head forward. His mother was furious, swinging wildly and had most likely not intended to hit him, this time. She turned on the small gator, smashing the straw head again into it, succeeding only in angering it.

When it latched onto a receding broom strike, flying up into the air, Andrew's mother screamed, waving her arms wildly, like she was hundreds of feet above the ground on a trapeze and losing balance. When it landed in front of her and hissed, she quickly grabbed its tail, running out of the room with it in hand.

"Mom, Mom, What are you doing!," Andrew gave chase, yelling, hoping to catch her before she did something to his friend.

Entering the hall outside his room, she was already gone and then he heard the roiling growl of the toilet flushing. In the bathroom, he found her over the toilet, looking pleased at the water refilling the bowl.

"What did you do," he cried from the edge of his sanity, "You fucking bitch!"

Her head cocked quickly his direction. Her hollow eyes told him he was next if he did not regain his composure

"What did you say?" her words measured with menace.

Andrew began trembling when her hand landed firmly on the back of his neck, gripping. Grabbing a washcloth with her free hand she swiped it across the blue-white bar of soap, shoving it violently into his mouth, when he opened it to protest. His tongue spasmed, hot bile rising to meet the caustic taste of the soap making its way down his throat.

"Good boys don't use foul language! Good boys respect their mother! Good boys don't bring Satan's children into the house! Good boys don't listen to that music! By God you will be a good boy, or by me, or by me!" her voice shrill with fervor, as she drove the washcloth further in with all four fingers.

Releasing him, she herded him to his room with intentioned steps until her collapsed on his floor, a discarded rag doll pile, crying in his weakness. The door's bolt utters the last word, a hard click, driving into the frame.

________

Andrew lived at home until he was twenty-three, taking community college classes to get his two-year certificate, then completing the additional two years online. He had wanted to go away to college, but his mother would hear none of it.

"Who will take care of me when you leave, Andrew? Why I could die and no one would find my body for weeks, until the whole building smelled. Would you want that Andrew? The whole building smelling of my dead decaying body?"

"No, Mother," he resigned in a sigh, head down, though the thought of her dying caused him enough joy that, later in the evening, he lashed himself with the leather belt until his back was bright red and bleeding to get rid of them.

He was the spawn of the devil, having heard it enough growing up. He would lay in bed at night and silently laugh to himself as he thought of her saying it, considering he came from her. He assumed she was talking about his father, the man who abandoned them before Andrew ever got a chance to meet him.

Andrew's mother had said his dad took one look at the swaddled babies face and never came back. It was all his fault, all Andrew's fault, and she made sure he knew it on a regular basis. She had not beaten him in years, since high school, having taught him how to do it himself.

"You are beating the demons. They can not stand the pain, but you can Andrew. This is the only way to be pure before God," she instructed, placing the leather belt in his hand, showing him how to swing it over his shoulder with enough force to raise welts instantly.

_______

"When I ask you a question, look me in the eye when you answer, dammit!" the voice thunders with authority, causing Andrew to break from staring at the page filled with his writing, and look at the officer.

"Did you kill your mother?" the cops hot breath, stale of coffee and cigarettes, sears Andrews face.

Twisting his lips, Andrew contemplates his answer, then heaves a heavy sigh answering, "Yes."

"I knew it," Ash Breath claps his partner on the back, "He is one sick fucker! I told you."

Sergeant Bill Towler measures Andrew through pinch tight eyes, doubt still weighing on him. A confession was enough to keep the man-boy though and give them more time. It makes little sense to him, the son being less than average size, perhaps even gaunt and under developed. He would have had to use some kind of vicious weapon, but they had found nothing.

"Alright, take him down to processing. I will check with forensics and see what they came up with at the house," Towler waits to rise until they leave, giving Andrew every opportunity to recant.

____

"Tell me what you got."

"Sarge, you got some thing really fucked up."

"Ok, Tell me something I don't know," Sergeant Bill Towler allows the candidness, knowing how disturbing the scene was when he found the body.

The old lady was half laying in the tub, ass in the air, or what was left of it after what seemed like a grenade went off inside of it. Her sun dress bunched around her waist, brown panty hose around the ankles and bloody torn flesh. Wet, white bones of the hip and pelvic regions poked through catching the sun from the window.

The water in bottom of the toilet was thick and crimson, the lips of the seat painted red, like lipstick. One thing that was absent were any foot prints leading in or out of the bathroom. With as much blood as there was, he can't see how that was possible.

"48-year-old, white female, identified as Jenne Wilson. Died of severe wounds and blood loss from what appear to be bite marks of a rather large animal on the posterior."

"Bite marks? Are you saying someone or something," Bill's voice trails off as thoughts and images push the way to the front of his mind.

"I know it seems inconceivable, but the markings at the edge of the wounds as well as on the bone are consistent with tooth markings associated with alligator attacks."

"Charlie, there is no way an alligator of that size came out of the toilet or found its way into a second story apartment."

"I can only tell you what the evidence shows Bill. We are running tests for saliva in samples from the wound and should have something more for you shortly."

"Level with me Charlie, do you think there is any way her son could have made these wounds?"

_____

"Bill, you should have seen the fucker's back, it was like a fucking cross stitch, layers of scar tissue," Jeff Garnet says, taking a long pull on the bottle of beer.

After the intensity of the case, the officers had retreated to Mel's for a well deserved beverage or two, in hopes that it would erase some of the images. Jeff had stuck around intake after the questioning to be sure the mother killer gave no trouble when they strip searched him.

It bothers him that a man, barely 150 pounds, considered scrawny or emaciated, could have inflicted that kind of damage on his own mother. There is no explanation for the bite marks. The man had normal teeth, unfiled, as he had seen several do in prison. A small pile of paper snakes lays around the base of his beer, label skinned from its surface by a unconscious fingernail.

"Someone beat the shit out of this guy repeatedly for years," Bill catches another snippet of Jeff's replay between the meanderings of his thoughts.

Bill raises his bottle, letting the remainder of his beer flood down his throat, then gently places the bottle on the table and without saying goodbye or anything, stands and walks out the door or Mel's into the waiting night.

_____

For three days, Andrew does little more than sit on the bunk of his bed, when he is not sleeping. Several of the inhabitants of other cells try engaging him, but he speaks not a single word, slowly winding and unwinding a single thread of string from his finger.

"Hey boy, when you going to come out and play with the rest of us," a deep voices crawls into his cell, tickling his ears.

Raising his head, Andrews meets the gaze of a large man standing at the mouth of his cell. The man's thick hands engulf several bars as he leans casually into them. He is large, menacing and smiling through crooked teeth. A glint in his eye remind Andrew of the look his mom would get as she stood at his door watching him lash his body, excitement, perhaps lust.

"Are you stupid or something boy?"

"Or something," Andrew responds in a disinterested whisper.

"You making fun of me you little shit? Oh I am going to fuck you good when the time comes. You gonna be my bitch boy. You just wait." the man releases the bars walking away, repeating, "You just wait."

Andrew plucks the end of the thread wrapping the first knuckle of his index finger and begins once more to unwrap the thread. The smell of lilacs catches his nose and he closes his eyes. His mother wore lilac perfume. He smiles.

_____

"How the hell did this happen?" Sergeant Towler barks at the officer meeting him at the entrance to the jail.

He was enjoying a rare evening off with his family, sprawled out on the living room floor playing Boom Blocks on the Wii together, when the phone rang. As soon as he saw who the caller was, he knew his fun was over.

"I really don't know sir. All the men were in their cells when the screaming started. Flipping through the cameras, we found right one. Big Jim was sitting on the shitter in his cell flailing and screaming as if his ass were on fire. I sent Lonnie to see what the problem was, but before he even got there, I watched Big Jim fly off the head and slam into the bars of his cell, collapsing to the floor."

Sergeant Towler and the officer pass through the security areas into the cell block, their rapid footfalls drown by the cacophony of prisoner's voice. Inmates press into the bars trying to get a look at Big Jim's cell, yelling at the top of their lungs gibberish about a monster.

"No one was out of their cell?"

"No one, sir. We had just completed the rounds and made sure everyone was tucked in their bunk and secure. We can check the monitors to see if there was anyone in the hall way, but we didn't see anyone."

Arriving at Big Jim's cell, Towler draws up short. He has seen this before. Big Jim's fingers clench the base of the bars near the floor, his body sprawled on his stomach. His pants are bunched around the ankles, and his ass a gaping hole of torn flesh. Jim's face is twisted, frozen in horror, eyes wide in an anguished stare, lacking any life.

"What the hell?" Towler huffs between breathes, propelling himself down the row to Andrew's cell.

"How did you do this? First your mom and now Jim. How the hell did you get out of this cell?" he growls at the lump of blankets on the bunk.

"Wha?" Andrew raises his head groggily, turning to look at the Sergeant through pinched tight eyes.

"Don't pretend like you been sleeping. Everyone else is up making so much goddamn racket there is no way you could sleep through that. How did you kill Big Jim?"

Running his hands over his face, Andrew stretches his slim frame, back popping, trying to wake himself further. Stopping suddenly in realization he looks at his hands, then the floor, searching it anxiously until spotting him quarry. Rising from the bunk, he bends low retrieving a string from the floor near the base of the toilet.

Turning to the bars, where Towler impatiently fumes, Andrew begins wrapping the string around his finger.

"Well?"

"Yes, I did it."

Towler stares into Andrew's eyes, looking for further explanation as the cell block erupts behind him as the news is passed one to another. Papers, books, anything that is not nailed down is pushed through cell bars, filling the halls with debris.

_____

"We removed him from his cell and placed him in one of the lower cells on a hall by himself. There is a guard at the end of the hall," Sergeant Towler speaks into the phone, then pauses as the other party responds.

"We went over both cells thoroughly. There were no weapons or contraband found. Jim Prescott was died before the guards got to the cell. Massive blood loss," he continues until cut off by the voice on the other end of the line.

"Yes, it was very similar to the way his mother"

"Yes, sir."

"Yes, sir. Will do"

Towler places the phone gently back in its cradle on his desk, looking at Officer Garnet seated in the chair on the opposite side.

"Jeff, I need you to go down and search the prisoner fully. Body cavity, everything. Somehow he did it. He even says he did it, but we have no idea how and he is not telling. Give him the chance to tell, then search him. Take Jenkins and Farlow with you. The three of you should be able to handle him if it gets out of hand."

"I don't need to tell you that our whole department is about to get investigated. Those in corrections as well as investigations. We had a prisoner die of mysterious circumstances. We need to find out what the hell is going on before the shit hits the fan."

"Yes, sir," Jeff Garnet stands, turning to the leave, a malicious smile creeping across his lips.

"Once the search is done, clean him up. They said they are going to transfer him to another facility upstate. I know they are going to try to screw us over, so don't mess this up."

"Oh, you don't need to worry about me Sarge," Garnet says over his shoulder as he closes the door.

_____

The march of multiple feet echoes down the hall to Andrew's cell, the first sign that other life exists in the hall where they put him. A long squeal sends shivers down his spine as the metal door is pulled open. Three police officers enter the room, the one in the lead is the same one that initially questioned him.

"You don't want to tell me how you killed Big Jim, do you?" the man smiles, as Andrew sits mute on the cot, his back to the wall.

"Alright boys, you know what we need to do," the mans says and the men descend onto Andrew, grabbing roughly at his clothes, stripping them from his body.

Andrew jerks away from their touch and is rewarded with an elbow to the ribs, then his shirt is jerked over his head. They roll him to his stomach on the cot and his pants go next. One officer pins his back while another grabs his legs. Andrew hears the snap of rubber on flesh behind him and begins to thrash, his fingers dancing against each other.

"Hold him down. We are going to do this one the hard way."

Andrew screams, tears rolling down his face, with the sudden thrust of pressure, then begins to moan, "Ma..ma...ma...ma, don...t..ma...ma."

"Hear that guys, he is calling for his momma. Oh you already did her up good boy," officer Garnet comments as he makes certain no contraband is present inside the prisoner,

Confident he has the situation under control, Garnet fails to see the string slowly loosening from Andrew's finger.

_____

"Has anyone heard from Garnet?" Sergeant Towler asks the officers at the front office of the jail.

"He and two other officers entered about an hour ago to search the prisoner. They have not returned yet, sir."

"Hell, alright," he does little to hide the anxiety in his voice.

"Do you think there might be trouble, sir?"

"I don't know," Towler answers, loosening the clasp on his firearm as he walks through the door to the stairs leading down to the isolation wing, waiting for it to close before beginning to take them two and three at a time..

_____

Having no natural light, the isolation ward is lit by the eerie glow of artificial bulbs that are hard on the eyes, their hum sinking through the skin to find nerve endings. Breathing heavy, more from the anxiety than the exertion, Sergeant Towler rounds the last corner, firearm extended before him. The officer that should be guarding the hall is gone, his post empty, but there are no signs of a struggle.

Down the hall, the door to the prisoners cell is open. Silence sits heavy in the air as Towler edges cautiously down the wall, continually facing the yawning portal. He should call for help, but if Garnet and the boys are cleaning up from working the prisoner over, he does not want to draw attention to what they have done.

He curses himself for sending Garnet to do the job. He knew Garnet did not like the kid. It was a stupid and emotional decision, he hopes he does not regret.

"Jeff, everything okay in there?" his voice echoes back to him, but there are no sounds of movement or response.

Back to the wall, he sidles up to the opening to the cell, breathing through the sheen of sweat that has covered his face. Images of the crime scene at the mom and boys apartment, of her manged body and then that of Big Jim crowd his head. Excrement, blood and an unusual hint of lavender assail his nose. His pulse quickens and he knows he has to act now. Firearm raised, he steps into the doorway.

_____

Worse than anything he could image, Towler's stomach roils, as he gasps, "My God."

Torn shreds of uniforms, muscle, pierced by skewers of bone, wet with blood, lay in pools of bodily fluid and entrails. Jeff's upper torso leans into the corner a hand splayed in front of him, a blank staring burning forward. A dismembered leg with socked foot, gun belt other body parts he could not discern covered the floor.

The prisoner lay face down on the bed, his pants around his knees, turning crimson as it soaks in the fluids from the floor. A thick film of shit covers the inner thighs of his immobile form.

Towler gasps for breath, but is met only by fecund air nearly too dense to swallow. He is slipping into shock, realizing this he tumbles back out the door to the cell and leans into the far wall. Hot bile spills from his lips, painting his shoes. What the hell could have done this, his mind repeats like a scratched record.

"Nghmng," a moan from inside the cell spins Towler round, a little hope catching in his heart until he sees what greets his gaze.

Standing, fumbling the clasp of his pants into place, Andrew's hollow eyes find Towler. Pain, anguish, anger all vie for Towler's attention as he rushes back into the cell, gun extended before him.

"Get on the ground mother fucker! Get the fuck on the ground," he yells, shoving the gun toward the prisoner.

Andrew lowers to his knees among the dismembered body parts and coagulating blood, stammering, "I...I...I..."

"Shut up, shut the fuck up. Oh God what did you do? What did you do?" Towler's eyes take in the carnage again.

"They tried," Andrew begins.

"Shut up," Towler's pistol gashes Andrew's forehead as he whips it across his face, wanting him to feel the pain churning inside.

Grasping his face, Andrew cries, "Stop, you don't"

Towler lashes him again on the back of the head, causing Andrew to curl into a ball, oblivious to that which he lays in. Grabbing a fist full of hair, Towler pulls Andrew's head back, pressing the barrel of the gun deep into his cheek. Andrew raises his hands in surrender, a long tread trailing from one finger catching Towler's eye.

Following it down Andrew's forearm into the mix of body parts Towler catches just a blur of something, as it crashes into him. Grasping claws shred his clothes, tearing furrows in his skin. Long yellow teeth make horrible clicking noises as they slam together inches from his face. Towler's heart thunders in his ears, over the screams from his mouth, Pain erupts across his body, and he know he is going to die.

Finding Andrew through the thrashing limbs of the thing that is killing him, Towler unloads the clip of his weapon as black shadows begin encroaching on his vision.

_____

"We are at the site of one of the most grisly jail breaks in our countries history. Earlier today nearly fifteen officers we brutally mangled, apparently by one man. They have not released any names at this point but police are looking for this man," Andrews face fills the small television screen, "If you happen to see him, police say you are not to approach him but to immediately call your local emergency services"

Three fingers of the clerk's hand cling to the edge of the counter top that his bloody body lays behind, across which Andrew watches the news report on a small television. Retrieving several candy bars and a soda, he shoves them into the pockets of an over sized jacket he took off one of the customers. Turning from the counter, Andrew steps over the ravaged bodies of a man and woman, approaching the door leading out to the sidewalk.

Lifting his hand to open the door, Andrew's eyes follow the thin strand of thread that trails behind him, "Come on. We have a whole world to explore. And there is nothing Mother can say about that now."

Out the door, Andrew assures himself the end of the thread is not caught as it closes, then joins the flow of bodies, all on their way somewhere, quickly becoming lost in the sea of faces.

written for 10DOM

17 comments:

  1. So, that's how it's done...

    Definitely a good fiction lesson for me. Some of my bad habits are going to have to be broken.

    Creepy story. Well done.

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  2. I've been back three times now, re reading this, each time a different layer jumps out at me...it is captivating, scary,creepy...pure brilliance.

    You show us how it sdhould be done :)

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  3. thank you, i see things i would add or tweak, maybe on the next turn...

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  4. Ah...

    I love the concept, since I'm a sucker for outcast/creature stories, and this screams "short film," but as prose it falls flat.

    You know I'm going to say this: take more time with rewrites and proofreads. The pacing starts out really solid, then accelerates to incoherence after the mother's "Good boys don't use foul language" speech. I'm guessing you started writing with a fury at that point, so (you know I'm going to say this) slow it down.

    Something random I've noticed... whenever you write cops, the dialog is bad. Only seems to happen with cops.

    Nowhere near your best effort, but I still think horror is your go-to genre.

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  5. thanks jeff...and yes i knew you were going to say that...and one day it will sink in...will work on that, with this piece as i enjoyed writing the story...

    will email you for further clarification the the cop dialog...you would think after spending a year with them i would get that right, but probably jaded me more than anything...smiles.

    nowhere near, dang that sucks...

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  6. Ah yes. A yarn with potential and I do like the descriptiveness. It's gory, vivid and definitely puts the reader in the place but . . yeh the typos (hahah me actually noticing them!) were annoying and it needs fleshing out (pardon the pun) I wanted to feel the boy's anguish a little more and dialogue is hard. I struggle with it all the time but agree with Jeff, horror is something you should work on. Nice to see prose tho Brian.

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  7. Wow. That's some piece of string. The beginning of this reminded me a bit of Dean Koontz. I agree with Jeff. This is a good genre for you.

    There are a lot of typos, grammar and punctuation edits, but I think you'll find those if you run spell check on a word processor.

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  8. pretty good story going here...won't bother mentioning the grammer, etc.

    oops. never mind.

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  9. Brian, I loved this. It had a strange anguished whimsical twist. Horror mixed with redemption. You had me believing there.

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  10. You are a genius Brian..yes its a pleasure everytime to read you. Sorry been gone but the gators been after me since some time and doing my best to evade im :)

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  11. I actually started to c&p Jeff's because he hit it right on the money. Edit, rewrite, edit. You're missing my impeccable stream-of-consciousness grammatical skills. Alas, not all of us can be grammar goddesses! Haha...

    Also agree with the short film fallen flat.

    However, what a story! Love the concept, wish the writing were a bit better - spelling, grammar, cohesion.

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  12. Excellent start - but it needs an edit, badly. Still, it's really creepy.

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  13. I return to this 'other' you, and never assume or guess what I'll read here. Always a surprise. A somewhat gruesome surprise. In a very good way, of course. -J

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  14. Wonderful and very creepy. I have read it before but had to read it again. Great job!!

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    ReplyDelete