In The Midnight Of His Heart
By AL BRUNO III
September 11, 1993
Angie was only half-conscious when the stream of blows and curses came to an abrupt halt. For a time she lay there on the floor, curled into a tight ball, waiting. Thick welts were rising everywhere on her body, her clothes were clammy with sweat and blood, her every breath was a shallow gasp. What comes next? she wondered morbidly, The knife? A broom handle? Harsh experience had taught her that Violet could be very creative with simple household items.
Back at the brownstone she’d planned to kill herself with an overdose, she’d even gone so far as to squirrel away a few rocks of crack in preparation. Unfortunately by the time she’d actually garnered the nerve to go though with it, she discovered her stash had been stolen. Either one of the other girls or one of Violet’s bodyguards must have found it. She’d been ready to give up then, she was ready to give up now.
A moist tearing sound filled her ears, she tensed, preparing for a fresh dose of agony. She prayed that whatever it was, it would be quick and final.
Nothing happened. Her brains were not dashed out, her flesh was not split open. Warily she opened her eyes to find herself alone. Shivering and aching, Angie pulled herself to her knees. Maybe… Maybe she’s left. Maybe I can get away, she hated herself for even thinking it. Hadn’t she learnt her lesson?
Standing made sparks dance before her eyes but she didn’t pass out, that was a good sign. Every step was punctuated with an anguished gasp. Pieces of a shattered lamp crackled underfoot. The silver knife was still sticking out of the wall. It took a moment but Angie freed it. She wasn’t sure why she was bothering, Violet had already walked away from one stab wound already, but despite that she still felt safer holding it.
The next room was pitch dark; she could just make out a massive shape crouching before the front door, blocking her escape. The strange ripping noise came again and with it another, fainter noise- a sound somewhere between a growl and a sob.
She considered doubling back, there was always the window.
“Don’t come any closer…” the voice was sonorous and unsteady. “Stay back.”
“Who’s that? Who’s there?”
“John…” more ripping and sobs interrupted, “It’s John.”
“You don’t sound like John.”
“…just go… I loved you… I only wanted to make you happy… but its too late… you have to get away from here and don’t …”
Holding the knife protectively in front of her, Angie felt along the wall for a light switch, “I don’t know who you are but I’m not going anywhere-”
“Stop! Leave the lights off… you don’t want to see…”
Too dazed to take orders anymore, Angie found the switch and flipped it. The sudden illumination blinded her. The sight she found when her vision cleared moments later was Violet Mendoza. She lay on the floor, her limbs twisted crazily around her, her face locked into an expression of astonishment so profound that it was almost childlike. Her arms would spasm and jerk every time the creature straddling her tore another gleaming red mouthful from her abdomen.
For a moment Angie’s eyes slid away from the white-furred shape, her mind rebelling at the sight of it. Then she found herself meeting its gaze, its mournful, pale silver eyes mesmerized her.
“They were like wolves-”
The head that held those eyes was bestial and massive, almost too large for the neck that supported it. With every bite she saw a flash of its teeth, blood caked its snout. Its canine-like ears were bent back. It was weeping as it ate.
“-they were like men-”
The body of the creature was blunt and four-legged. Flaps of loose skin hung from its wizened front and hind legs. Its back claws scratched the hardwood floors as it tore deeper and deeper into Violet Mendoza’s body.
“- they were like nothing the world had ever seen before.”
Tentatively, she drew nearer. Nothing could dispel her certainty that what she saw before her was a descendant of Phalen and the She-Wolf’s.
“I didn’t want you to see this…” he swallowed a final mouthful, “…I wanted things to be… the anelace… you have the anelace…”
“The knife… you have to use it…”
“But Violet’s dead.” Angie lowered the blade, she’d forgotten she was holding it.
“Not Violet. Me. I’m a monster…”
“You’re no monster.” Kneeling beside him she reached out to gently run her fingers across his fur, a thick, musky odor filled her nostrils.
He recoiled from her touch, “I’m still hungry Angie… I can smell your blood… I don’t know how much longer I can control myself… you have to use the knife…”
“No!” she shook her head, tears blurred her eyes, “You didn’t lie to me. I see that now. Johnny, I’m sorry I didn’t believe you.”
“It’s too late for that now…. You have to use the knife Angie, or I’ll kill you…” he hunched down, his muscles coiling.
“I will. I’ve done far worse. You don’t love me and you don’t know me, you don’t know what I’m capable of… I’m a monster and I’m damned… I’m damned…”
“John I can’t-”
“YOU WILL!” the Vlodek roared as he launched himself at her The impact sent them skidding across the bloodied floor. John loomed over her, like he had loomed over his father and master thirty-five years ago. He was shaking all over, her throat was inches from his mouth. He said one last time, “You will…”
Reaching up, Angie held him close, held him tight.