In The Midnight Of His Heart
By AL BRUNO III
September 11, 1993
As a child Angie had been plagued by nightmares. The most common one found her alone in her darkened bedroom, things leering at her from the shadows. Inevitably the half-glimpsed faces and garbled whispers would drive her from her bed. Scurrying out the door, anxious for the safety of her mother’s arms she would blunder into the gaping maw of the monster waiting for her in the hall. Standing at the door to the room that had been her cell, she now found herself feeling the way she had after waking from one of those cruel dreams. Did she dare step outside? Was the nightmare was really over?
“John?” Was it wise to call him back up here? She couldn’t be sure, but the clatter from downstairs had set her heart hammering. The old man’s grip on reality was fragile at best, what if he was down there making preparations for a murder-suicide? That was probably one his wolf-god’s most sacred tenets- Fuck it or kill it.
Voices and laughter were her only reply. Was there someone else down there? Angie shivered and tried to draw herself deeper into the thick cotton sweater John had bought for her- one of the many sweaters he’d bought for her. When he told her that he had clothes for her, she’d expected ratty hand me downs, or a hodge-podge of items he’d salvaged from the bodies that were rotting quietly away in the crawlspace of his house. Instead she’d found herself gaping at Barbie’s Dream Wardrobe, and it made her wonder, was John Sig a madman or an overzealous sugar daddy? After all, she’d thought as she pulled on jeans and a cardigan, what harm had he done her? In his own very strange way, he’d tried to save her-
Shit, he had saved her.
If only he hadn’t killed so many people to do it.
Assuming of course that he wasn’t screwing with my head when he said that.
By the time she’d finished filling up a laundry bag with a few other choice items of apparel Angie had decided that no charges would be filed. She’d just leave, go someplace very far away. Maybe Florida, she’d always wanted to see Florida.
Now all those plans were starting to fall apart.
“John?” she called again, “Are you all right?”
Her only reply was a series of short, sharp cracks; fainter than gunshots and louder than physical blows. Angie stood at the door, trying to work up the courage to open it, as long as she left it closed she was safe but the moment she opened it…
Anything could be out there, anything.
John had left his knife on the bed, she picked it up; just in case. It was a strange-looking thing; a slender silvery blade set into an ivory handle. Strange symbols where inscribed on the blade, she wondered vaguely what they meant. Just holding it made her feel a little safer.
Angie opened the door and strode into the empty hallway. She slung the laundry bag of clothes over one shoulder and fumbled for the stairs.
“John?” the first floor was even darker than the second. Feeling along the wall for a light switch Angie wrinkled her nose at the whisper of putrescence in the air. It brought to mind the odor of roadkill and she had to wonder if maybe the old man had a few bodies stowed in the crawlspace after all.
One of the shadows advanced on her, shuffling like a clockwork toy. Angie dove for freedom, her fingers latching around the doorknob. Cold hands dug into her, lifting her off the ground “Nowhere to run to bitch.”
Angie’s knees turned to water at the sound of her tormentor’s voice. How could she have dared believe? How could she have dared to hope that the crazy old man could free her of Violet Mendoza? Tightening her grip on the silver knife, Angie promised herself that she would be free of her once and for all.
With a single heave her tormentor threw Angie across the room, shattering lamps and knocking over furniture. Violet lumbered after her but Angie was ready and on her feet.
The blade slipped into the flesh of Violet’s abdomen with sickening ease, it dug in to the hilt. Tepid blood spurted from the wound, coating her hand, her clothes.
Violet laughed “Pretty knife.” and sent Angie sprawling with a single punch. She pulled the knife from her gut and stabbed it into the wall. “Maybe, before I’m done I’ll fuck you with your pretty knife. You like that?”
Angie begged and groveled. Violet silenced her with a single kick.
“Ain’t nothin’ you can say. You’re gonna die.” Violet lifted Angie again and threw her hard against the living room wall. She paused at the fireplace long enough to heft the brass poker before advancing on her once more, “Piece by piece.”