Scars

like paraffin wax in a flame

my scars are dripping,

i lay this cumbersome ideology aside…

worship you, only you.

even through the deepness

where the shadow falls on me,

fading light touches skin: shows

scar tissue—

there i’ve cut your name

over and over again—

my beautiful ritual of you.

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Bleeding Out, Part 2

To read Part 1 of the story, click here: Bleeding Out, Part 1.

Mangrin was not a happy copper.

It turned out that his idiot partner was on to something when he suggested the blood that the killer was somehow draining from his victim’s bodies was the same blood type. Buckley did a little happy dance in the crime lab, shaking his skinny ass practically in Mangrin’s face. Mangrin wanted to punch him.

“Told you so,” Buckley said, poking out his tongue like a two-year old.

“Shut up, Bux!” Harry, the lab scientist said.

Mangrin took a cigarette out of his pocket and played with it, rolling it between his fingers absentmindedly as he pointedly ignored Buckley and studied the lab results that Harry had handed him.

“So whaddaya think it means, Sal?” Harry asked.

“Dunno,” Mangrin replied.

“Maybe he ‘aint a vampire, but now we know it’s really the blood he’s after,” Buckley said. His eyes were lit up like a virgin on prom night. “But maybe the Sarge is right, Sal. Maybe he is some twisted fucker that likes to drink it. Seen one too many movies, read one two many Anne Rice novels.” Buckley’s smile grew wider as Sgt. Delaney entered the lab. So did Mangrin’s.

“What’s the news, Sal? Are they all a match?” She came over to stand beside him and his nostrils flared, taking in her perfume.

God, what I wouldn’t give to…

“They match,” Buckley said smugly.

Mangrin shot him an evil look and handed the report to Delaney. She gave it the once-over, then placed it on the counter in front of them.

“I have something else,”she said, nudging Mangrin. “A lead for you. Something else the victims had in common.”

***

They hadn’t spent much time at the clinic. They didn’t need to. The manager had told them what he could. Yes, he confirmed, all of the victims had had labwork done recently.

Mangrin and Buckley got out of their unmarked car and walked inside the El Dorado Apartments. They made their way through down a hallway across carpeting that had seen better days, and Buckley rapped on apartment 112.

A gaunt, balding man in glasses opened the door a crack and peered out. “Yes?”

Mangrin flashed his badge. “Detectives Salvador Mangrin and Ed Buckley. Are you James Wells?”

“Yes, sir. What do you want?”

“We’d like to ask you some questions about where you work. If you don’t mind. Could we come in? You do work at Amerilab’s, correct?”

The man nodded and reluctantly pulled open the door just enough for Mangrin and Buckley to squeeze through. The apartment was sparsely furnished, only one beat-up stuffed chair in a corner, and (Mangrin noticed) no T.V. or stereo.

Wells shut the door behind them. “I’d asked you to take a seat but…” he said, looking down at the floor.

“Don’t worry about it, man. Times are tough for us all,” Mangrin replied.

Jimmy?” A soft voice called from behind a closed door off to the side of hallway.

“Excuse me. My wife needs something.” James Wells disappeared in the direction of the voice. Buckley wandered off through a door to what looked like the kitchen. Mangrin stood there on Wells’s threadbare carpet, feeling anxious.

After several minutes, Buckley appeared in the kitchen doorway. “Hey, Sal. Come take a look at this.”

He entered the kitchen to find Buckley standing at the refrigerator door, holding an extremely large plastic packet of what looked like mustard. They both knew it wasn’t. Mangrin ventured to the other side to gaze into the open refrigerator door. There were dozens of them, stacked neatly.

Suddenly Wells sprang into the kitchen and grabbed Buckley from behind, sliding a very sharp knife up against his throat. Buckley’s eyes widened in fear.

“I’m sorry….really, really, sorry. But I have to…”

Wells sentenced died on his lips as  the bullet from the silenced pistol entered his chest below the shoulder. He gasped in pain and fell to the floor.  Mangrin holstered his gun and walking over, kicked the knife out of Wells’s hands, looking at him with contempt.

“Why?” he asked.

Wells sputtered, coughing up blood. Mangrin’s bullet struck a lung, apparently. “My…wife….she…” Wells stopped, wheezing.

Buckley opened a door beside the refrigerator that looked like it might’ve led to a pantry. “It’s all here,”he said. “Lab equipment for processing blood into plasma. There’s a Sangofer unit. She’s a hemophiliac, isn’t she? Your wife?” Buckley asked, stepping back into the room with such a cool assessment that Mangrin couldn’t help but be impressed. He vowed to go easier on his partner in the future.

“Yes,” Wells choked out.

“Why for Christ’s sake did you have to cut all those people so many times? Just for their blood?” Mangrin asked.

“Had to make you think it was a psycho doing it. Didn’t want to get caught.”

“Why couldn’t you just take her to a goddamn doctor?”

“She….got worse…She lost her job. I couldn’t afford the insurance. I sold all….all our stuff. Finally…there was nothin’ left worth selling. So, I…”

“Started killing people for their blood…their plasma.” Buckley finished.

Buckley and Mangrin stared in horror at the little man lying on the floor, bleeding out as so many of his victims had done. Their horror was not so much in what the man had done. But it crept into in the silent black rooms of their own minds and they wondered what they would have done in Wells’s shoes to save someone they loved.

I Heard the Bells

Adjusting his scarf around his face, Tim closed the shop door with a tinkle of the welcome bells and locked it, then shuffled down the snowy street making his way against the icy blast of winter wind.

The town square was a bustle of activity, this being Christmas Eve. People were doing their last minute shopping along the streets encompassing the square, and getting set to enjoy the Christmas show. However, everyone seemed to take great pains to avoid one of the side streets.

This street was the home to the old, Gothic-style church that had been home to many denominations over its hundred-and-fifty year history. Currently the Presbyterians were worshipping there, at least until recently. Jeffrey, the church’s official bell-ringer, a boy with more bravery than brains, came tearing down from the belfry two weeks after Hallowe’en, trembling like a wet cat, claiming that he had ‘seen a spook.’

The pastor, Reverend Herlinger, an old man with more contempt than cleverness, sent him straight back to his bell-ringing duties against threats of telling his father: a malicious man given to drink and brutality where his family was concerned, but who was nevertheless a charitable tither.

The boy fearfully discharged his duties, and did so prior to every service from that moment on with nary a complaint, but he was often seen muttering to himself afterward, and casting fearful jerky glances over his shoulder. He became pale and developed dark pouches under his eyes which made him look more like an old man than a mere boy of thirteen.

Then, on the first Sunday of the Christmas season, it happened.

The day started in its normal fashion. Cocks crowed, clocks chimed and people woke up. The first snow of the year had fallen and the ground was frozen hard and glittery-white. Close to 6 am, those who lived in the town awaited the ringing of the church bells to call them to 7 o’clock service.

No bells sounded.

Those townspeople who were awake chewed their eggs and sausages, and drank their juice and coffee, glancing at their wall clocks every three or four minutes.

6:10. . .6:15. . .6:25 came and went and still no din of bells broke the unearthly silence that enfolded the town like a fog.

“Wonder why the church bells haven’t rung?” Tim’s wife, Dorothy,  asked.

“Dunno,” Tim replied. “We’ll find out soon enough, I reckon. Maybe Jeffrey’s ill. God only knows, old Herlinger can’t climb those steep stairs. He ‘aint no spring chicken anymore. All the cluck’s gone right out of the old bugger!” Tim laughed.

They finished breakfast and bundled up, leaving the house at 6:45. The church was less than  a ten-minute walk from their house. As they arrived, they saw most of the other worshippers gathered outside of the church.

“Doors are locked,” said Fred Avery, the town’s barber. He looked grim. “Terrible shouting in there.”

Tim and Dorothy looked confused, but soon heard for themselves as a ruckus erupted inside the church.

“Get your lazy behind up those stairs and ring that bell, I said!” Herlinger shouted.

“NO!! And you can’t make me!” came Jeffrey’s voice. People in the crowd looked at one another in disbelief. They had never heard Jeffrey so much as raise his voice, let alone disobey the minister.

Several thumps could be heard and Jeffrey cried out. The preacher was beating the boy.

“Now, get up there!” the pastor yelled. The people waiting outside could hear the sound of Jeffrey’s footfalls on the stairs to the belfry.

“He’s got no right,” Fred’s wife spoke.

“Mind your business,” Fred admonished her.

“I think she’s right,” Tim said. His wife put her arm around him and squeezed him gently in silent solidarity.

Gladys Avery looked up and screamed. “AAAGGH! Look out!”

Everyone scrambled backwards as a dull thud sounded. They tried to shield themselves, but the impact of the body sent blood and fluids splattering in all directions.

Jeffrey had jumped from the tower.

Tim made his way across the park. Most of the townfolk were gathered there, as the theater troupe was putting on a Christmas show in the square that evening. Tim found Dorothy seated on a bench. She held out a delicious hot cocoa to him and he gratefully accepted it, giving her a peck on the lips in exchange.

“What’s the word, lovey?” he asked.

She smiled briefly, then her smile froze on her face in a grimace. “They say he’s not likely to live out the night.”

After Jeffrey’s suicide, the pastor went crazy. A few of the men tried to calm him down.

“The curse! Blast it! The curse! It must be time. I should’ve known!” he ranted. Although they tried, no one could get a sane word from him.

Later that night, the pastor attempted to take his own life. He’d dragged himself up the steep staircase to the belfry and swallowed a bottle of sleeping pills at the top. The deacon, John Willis, found him there…along with the strange suicide note:

“Harm not another. I give you my life in sacrifice. Harm not the others, I beg. Let my life satisfy the bond…” It went on in that vein for some length, then ended abruptly, no doubt when the pills took hold.

“Anyone been able to determine what the “curse” might be? Did anyone talk to Dolores Gant?” Dolores Gant was the oldest living resident in the town, and she had been a member of the church when it was still St. Michael’s. She was in a nursing home now.

“Me n’ Gladys went over today,” Dorothy said, looking glum. “We asked her if she knew about a curse. Her eyes got big and she became agitated. She said ‘The bellringer!  Sunset!” then clamped her hand over her mouth and refused to say another word.”

“That’s very odd,” Tim said, taking a drink of his cocoa.

They snuggled on the bench and watched the performers on the bandshell in the center of the park getting ready for their performance. The streetlights in the park twinkled on as dusk approached. Tim and Dorothy turned in the direction of the church to watch the sunset. Dorothy gasped.

“What is it, love?” Tim asked.

“Where did they go, Tim?” she cried, pointing at the top of the church.

A few miles away, Pastor Herlinger awoke from his coma and motioned for someone to write down his last words.

Three….three it requires…from All Hallows Eve ’til Christmas Eve. If three it does not get…it will take us all. It will awaken the stone demons as the last of sunlight fades and…and…”

In the square, as the sun set, all who were gathered looked up in awe at the belfry as the bells began to peal. Their looks of shock turned to horror as black shapes flew out of the belfry and from the top of the flying buttresses.

The peace of the evening was disrupted by screams.

Another fifty years had come to pass: it was time for the gargoyles to feed.

Bleeding Out, Part 1

Detective Mangrin kneeled beside the body, eyebrows stitched tightly together in puzzled dismay.

“Another one?” he asked Hawkins. The rookie, standing to the side with a handkerchief held over his nose and mouth, merely nodded. Mangrin glanced at him with a look of purest disgust. “Why the hell don’t you go throw up somewhere? You keep holdin’ it in and you’re gonna chuck up all over my goddamn crime scene.”

Hawkins nodded and walked away in the direction of the bathroom.

“And don’t touch anything! Better yet, why don’t ya go puke in the bushes outside?” Mangrin yelled. Hawkins nodded again in midstride, turned and made for the front door. He passed Buckley on his way out.

Buckley came and stood looking over Mangrin’s shoulder as he examined the body. Mangrin looked up and shivered. Something about Buckley always gave him the creeps. Maybe it was his enthusiasm over seeing DB’s. Buckley was looking at the mess before them, grinning from ear-to-ear.

“Damm. I wonder how he does it?”

“Siphons, I don’t know.” Mangrin answered. The body was spread out before them, gaping wounds galore, but just like the previous four murders, very little blood.

“Maybe he’s a goddamn vampire!” Buckley exclaimed.

Maybe you’re a goddamn idiot, Mangrin thought. But what the fuck does the perp want with blood? He has to drain it off somehow and take it with him. But why?

Mangrin examined the largest of the wounds, the belly wound, the one that must have caused the vic to do most of the “bleeding out” that eventually killed him. But where the hell was the blood?

Hawkins had come back in and was joined by Sgt. Delaney, looking fine as usual in her tight jeans. Delaney knelt beside Magrin, sipping a cup of coffee.

“Impressions?” she asked.

“He cuts their throats first,” Mangrin said, pointing at the jagged wound. “But he’s a specialist, see. He doesn’t cut to kill…only to incapacitate the vocal chords. No good having a vic scream while you’re trying to have some fun.”

Delaney grimaced. “So what’s his fun, then? Making the other cuts?”

Mangrin nodded. “Especially this one.” He pointed to the slashed stomach.

“He watches them bleed out,” Buckley said. Mangrin nodded and turned to look at him. Buckley was staring wide-eyed at the open stomach flesh of the victim, a look of utter fascination on his face.

Creepy bastard loves this.

“Sal? Any ideas how he takes the blood, and why?” Delaney asked. God, he loved it when she called him Sal.

Mangrin shook his head.

“Do we know of any connections to the other vics yet?” Buckley asked.

“No. It’s all very random. Different sexes, different ages, different races. This guy doesn’t seem to have any preferences.” Mangrin sighed and ran his fingers through his short black hair. It was a nervous habit, still, he saw the Sarge smile out of the corner of his eye and he was pleased.

“Makes him hard as hell to profile,” Delaney said.

“What about blood type? Anybody check that?” Buckley asked.

“Oh, Jesus Christ, Buckley. For the last time the perp is not a fucking vampire!” Mangrin was immediately sorry he’d lost his temper with his partner, but the guy was an idiot. Delaney didn’t look happy about his outburst, though.

“Sorry,” he said. “But I don’t think he takes the blood to drink it.”

“Why not?” Delaney asked. “Weirder shit than that happens in this town.”

Mangrin shrugged. “So, we’ll get someone over at CIU to check out the blood types of all the vics.”

They all looked up when the coroner’s gurney was pulled in the front door.

“Tag ‘im and bag ‘im, folks,” Buckley said to the men from the coroner’s office, and even Delaney gave him a dirty look.

End of Part 1.

Cinnamon & Spice

I see her standing by the fountain. She’s crying. She looks likes she’s lost and in a way maybe she is. She just had a fight with the ungrateful bastard of a boyfriend. He’s playing touch football, rough-housing with his friends now. They’re more important to him than she is. I ‘d like to make him pay for that. Slowly and painfully.

She reaches up and wipes tears from wide, beautiful brown eyes. Her hands are slender, the fingers long and exotic.

I want to touch her skin. It looks like cinnamon. I want to caress her soft shoulders, let my fingers linger gently over the pulse of her delicate throat. And kiss…a sweet, sensual kiss like dew on that throbbing vein.

I want to taste her. Yes! I can feel her heartbeat pumping wildly, as I taste her in my mind. She is sweet and tender in my thoughts…like honey and cream.

She would taste like spices, I can tell.

Cinnamon and spice and everything nice.

That’s what little girls are made of!

She looks positively delicious and my heart aches with the need. I lick my lips and swallow and imagine the warmth…the flood of her. She looks at me and smiles and I find myself startled like some schoolboy with an adolescent crush.

I am trembling. I’m thankful that my sunglasses hides my eyes from more than just the scorching rays of the sun. I’m sure my lust would be betrayed, if not for these dark lenses.

Her boyfriend is strolling over now, making up with her.  He is not even really trying to apologize. She forgives too easily. Is it fear, that look in her eyes?

I should kill him and take her for myself. What a prize she would be! I could drink and drink and never get my fill of her…heat flooding my mouth in its intensity. She would be mine for all eternity.

But in my heart, I know it’s not to be. I’m not really the romantic type. I only like to pretend I am. My race has been so romanticized by the current human culture, it makes one almost forlorn not to try and live up to that. But I can’t.

I’m a beast and I have a beastly desire.

I would not be sated until I’d ripped her throat from ear to ear in my wanton bloodlust, pulling the carotid into my hungry, thirsting mouth to suck on like a sweet, red licorice stick.

She is leaving now, linked hand-in-hand with the boyfriend…they cast long shadows in the fading light of dusk. She casts another glance my way and I see the hunger, the longing in her eyes…

I fall in farther behind and lose sight of them as they round a corner.

I lift my head and scent the breeze, my pulse quickening with the thrill of the hunt.

Mad Skills

Jock was cleaning the cutlery, carefully washing the butcher knives. It was not his fault. It never was.

“Cut the meat across the grain,” he’d told her. The bitch didn’t listen. He hated having to train new kitchen help. Sure, they’d all been to cooking school. Some of them had been to the best schools in the country: Johnson & Wales, or the Culinary Fucking Institute for Christ-sake!

They still didn’t know a goddamn thing about food preparation, he reflected sadly as he finished rinsing and wiping down  the bone-saw.

And did they ever listen to the top chef? Hell, no! Yet their incompetence served a purpose they would never fully appreciate.

His restaurant had a five-fucking-star rating with the local paper’s food critic for three years running. His meat slicing skills were top notch.  And his highly talented methods of preparing steak were well known far and wide, making his restaurant the most popular steak joint in the city.

He’d lost count of the number of times people complimented him on his meat dishes, which they said were so different than anything they’d ever tasted before.

Jock walked over and closed the meat locker door, smiling to himself.

As he left the restaurant, he placed the cardboard “Help Wanted” sign back in the window.

He hoped tomorrow would bring yet another prime applicant for the job.

Killer #2

Photo by Gabriel Millos

“Get your kicks” the song said,

On Route Six-Six. Instead:

She lost her pretty head…

And now she’s very dead.