Horror Crime Fiction

Most tenants sign yearly leases. Transient inhabitants adhere to a different set of rules, rules which the landlord or civil authorities are unaware. I know this because I was one who broke the rules.

I survey the forlorn scene from across the road. Yellow police ribbons barricade the perimeter of the building, an old stone slab structure devoid of balconies, overhang or even a rocking chair as respite. The sole appendage, a rickety fire escape fidgets against the structure side as if trying to flee. Window blinds drawn like shuttered eyes closed against the world. Stubborn shrubs on sparse grass linger to sprout misshapen leaves, fallen buds amass at their base. Yes, just as I remembered it, a pleasure palace.

I screamed gimme shelter and it screamed welcome. A smirk lifts my lips as I climb the decaying steps into the darkened entrance. Inert light sconces hide the peeling-stained wallpaper, original unlike the layered walls hiding horror in too many of its rooms.

I was innocent. I didn’t have a soul, so I thought. Only my body mattered. I controlled that, so I thought. I was street pretty and street savvy, so I thought. They drained my soul and spared my body’s blood. I was safe, so I thought. The price was paid when my spirit rose on the other side.

A wail intrudes on my reverie.  I recognize the voice. It’s a man I knew, but rarely spoke to as shouting was his mode of communication. I cringe at the memory of its intimidation but purpose carries me closer.

“Stop it! We know all about you. You’re the monster that killed the girl and who knows how many others,” the policeman is adamant.

Sam the shouter mutters something but the sound is smothered by his shrouding hands.

I inch along the wall relieved to find the door cracked open. Even now I abhor crossing his threshold. Just beyond the man, lay the angelic form of Clara. In death, as in life, she embodied an ethereal serenity. None the less, I gasped to see her in such a pale state.

How could he harm such a lovely creature! She stood by him all through the torment. When he’d rage and roam the halls bellowing so that no other sound could carry. She’d rescue him from himself and caress him into silence. Such caring for a monster! I shuttered at the memory.

There is a noise in the hall, a trolley trundles by me guided by two medics. They lift the body of Clara and smooth her pleated dressing gown before gliding a sheet over her. I study their expressionless faces.  

Sam lunges at the cart. “Don’t leave me, Clara”, he shouts, “I can’t abide living without you.”

My hands fly up to shield my ears. The medics wheel the cart past Sam blocking his attempts to restrain her exit from the room, from his life.

“Fat chance, buddy,” I hear the officer sneer. “Why’d you kill her then? Did’ja think she’d stay the way she was after you killed her? I guess you wouldn’t mind her rotting away. At least, you’d still have her.”

“What did kill her?” I wonder. The medics struggle to descend the steps without incident. Perhaps they won’t notice a gentle breeze lifting the sheet away from her torso? … never mind, there’s no blood anywhere. Maybe there never was. Maybe she wouldn’t rot. Maybe she was one of them.

My thoughts wrangle with my reality. I flee past Sam’s to escape to my former apartment, although I doubt many would call it that. It is as derelict as I left it. Suitable company for the turmoil in my mind.

Oh, what a good time was had by all. I have to be honest. The lure of cocaine fueled many who indulged on this very floor, the misshapen couch or flea infested tick mattress. Cracked linoleum harbors dried tributaries of blood which escaped from the victim’s nasal tissue. The victim’s themselves weren’t so lucky.

It was too tempting an offer: an unlimited supply for me without effort on my part. I didn’t have to dress like a hard sex worker; I got the job done in sweats. So, what if the revelers lost their lives. They had a good time doing it. They knew the dangers. That’s all that mattered to me at the time. I didn’t know the price I would pay.

I came to execute my assignment. As I descend the steps, I peer into Sam’s apartment. The police have left making my mission easier.

Sam sits at the table writing something. I creep up behind him and peer over his shoulder. A suicide note? I jeer. How fitting! It would save me the effort. Sam’s a beast and my knife is dull from use. He’s still writing. I’ve read enough of them—hell, I’ve composed more than a few. They’re usually short blah-blah-blah, I’m so sorry, etc. What’s he doing?

I force myself to read his sweaty drivel. I scan the first sheet. What is this? He says they are always whispering to him, and he shouts to drown them out. He is no longer their prisoner. He stayed to keep her safe—from them. This beast loved her. Who would’ve thought—love could live in such a place?

The beast transformed. The useless knife fell. Sam stops his harried writing and looks around. By then I'm gone, searching for a more suitable weapon.

I find them lined up like a picket fence holding up the police barrier ribbon. I tear them out of the ground and run back into the building.

Down past the hidden door into the damp depths of the building, I plunge. The police would return at any second. They had to. All they had as a witness was Sam and the hellhole I descend into. I open each casket and sink the stake into the heart of each. My thoughts seize on Sam and the love and loneliness he must ever endure. The monsters cry out protesting as the twisting splintering wood drills into their chests. Supernatural strength drives my intense desire.

My task finishes; I crunch across the bone gravel which aprons each casket. I dare not look down and cup my ears against the sound as I hurry back to Sam. I’ll think about it tomorrow!

I’m just in time. Sam holds the knife I dropped. My puny hand grabs for his wrist. For the first time he notices me. “No, Sam”, I cry. “You must live!”

         “Clara wants me to join her. She sent me this,” Sam’s hand trembles as the knife scrapes his chest.

 I will his hand back. “No, No Sam. She didn’t. That was mine and…”, I couldn’t speak my intent. “She wants you to live … for her.” I slam his hand against the table and the knife drops. I kick it under the stove.

With a final jerk I force Sam to rise.

         “Come with me!” I command as I drag him into the hall. Once outside, Sam moans and kneels in the grass.

 I yank out more stakes.

 Back in his apartment, I turn on the gas stove. With a match, I set fire to the stakes. Fling one into Sam’s apartment; another at the hidden door and one at the stairs leading up to my empty apartment. All life is now gone.

Outside, Sam is lying prostrate, I kneel by his side watching the flames devour the remaining rot.

Sirens sound.

Sam is weeping, clinging to the papers he somehow salvages. I ponder ripping them into shreds. Something tells me he won’t be believed. The papers are a ticket to the insane asylum. He’ll be safe there. Some other tenants have found solace there and will believe his story. He’ll have friends.

The police arrive.

Sam doesn’t see me disappear into the dusk.

I hope this time it’s for good.


June 03, 2022 12:32

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