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Living Monstrosity by Feind Gottes
The inside of 508 Charles Place was just as decrepit as the outside. The windows had been broken out and boarded up with bits of rotting wood scraps or cardboard. Graffiti from one gang overlapped with the tags from others as so many came in and out staying long enough to get high then pass out before leaving to find their next fix. The stairs leading to what at one time had been children’s rooms when an actual family had lived here, loving this home, were now as treacherous as most bridges in America. Attempting to use the dilapidated steps was nothing more than a fool’s errand, the last to attempt it had made it nearly to the top before they gave way leaving him broken, bleeding and eventually dead in the basement twenty five feet below. That tall homeless man was only one of many who had met their end in this house. The house at 508 Charles Place, like most that found themselves in such a state of abandonment, was nothing more than a crack den. A home to human detritus, decrepit insects and, of course, rats.
The inhabitants of the rundown house this night were no different than its inhabitants most nights. Four homeless crack addicted men, their one female companion and her seriously neglected and abused six month old baby girl. The child would have been better off aborted than born into this depraved “family” where she faced constant abuse and malnutrition until she was old enough to sell as a sex slave or most likely just trade for her mother’s next fix. How the child had survived up to this point was anyone’s guess.
The child’s four “uncles” were scattered across the broken decayed floor after smoking up the last of the day’s supply. The mother sat curled up, naked, in the corner of the room rocking herself back and forth longing for just one little hit to shed the memories of the abuse she took daily just for one little hit off the pipe. Her child had long since given up crying as no tender hands ever came to comfort it. It lay in a makeshift newspaper diaper that was changed once a day if the child was lucky. Most days she wasn’t lucky. She let out the occasional whimper but otherwise the only sound to be heard was the scurrying little feet in the basement and the slight wind that howled through the cracks in the boarded up windows and gaps in the siding that was slowly rotting away like the teeth in the head’s of its drug addled denizens.
While the men slept, the mother rocked herself to sleep and the child whimpered neglected as always. The scampering feet below increased as though the house’s furry inhabitants were being herded like cattle on the prairie. The human occupants were oblivious to the movement below with the exception of the child. Little Elizabeth could hear the stirring rodents though she was helpless to communicate the fear that had loosed her bladder, none of the company ever listened to her if she could including her own mother. When Elizabeth heard the moan below her, she couldn’t help it, she burst out crying for the first time in weeks, as always, it brought her no comfort. Her cries never brought a loving touch, tonight would be no different.
“Judy you better shut that fuckin’ kid up now!” Sean, the unofficial leader of the group of miscreants, growled.
“Bitch if you don’t get your ass up and shut that fuckin’ kid up you’re both gonna be sorry in about two fucking seconds!” Sean’s shout echoed through the abandoned house loud enough to wake the dead.
Judy jumped to her feet not fearing for her crying child in the slightest but not wanting to catch a beating for the brat’s wailing. Whatever mothering instincts she had possessed had been beaten out of her long ago. She practically ran to her child to shut her up before Sean’s yelling turned to yet another beating. She had already taken one beating tonight just for a fix, she was determined not to endure another for a screaming brat she didn’t want anyway.
She grabbed Elizabeth lifting her so hard it nearly dislocated her child’s arm. The screech the child let out died against her mother’s bosom as Judy pressed the child into her chest so tight she would most likely suffocate within a minute or two. She began bouncing the child up and down simulating what she had seen done by other mothers. She cared little to nothing for her daughter’s comfort as long as the kid shut up.
Elizabeth tried shrieking through her mother’s smothering grip only emitting a faint squeak. Her face was turning a deep purple born of fear, anger, pain and a severe lack of oxygen. She struggled a moment longer though she was already giving up. She was only six months old but apathy already took a firm hold of her psyche.
“About fucking time that little bitch shut the fuck up. Doesn’t she know we’re trying to fucking sleep? Fuck!” Sean growled getting sleepy, mumbled agreements from the other three men before rolling over putting his back to Judy and Elizabeth.
Sean was snoring again in no time as were the others. He had always been a miserable human being who had somehow gained three loyal followers anyway. Paul, Gene and Scott followed Sean like three little puppies. Mainly because he always seemed to be able to score the good drugs, it wasn’t for his winning personality. They were weak men made weaker by addiction plus there was their little plaything, Judy. They all knew she stayed through all the physical abuse and sexual depravity of four men for the same reason they all did, a daily dose of freedom from a glass pipe. They stayed together for the strength of numbers and the lack of anywhere else to go but it was mostly the drugs. These were the lost, forgotten and unwanted of the world; no one would miss them nor ever would.
Elizabeth’s screams were barely whimpers now as she struggled just to breathe against her mother’s chest. It was only then that the group noticed the squeaks and scampering of rodent feet coming from below them. Even these depraved occupants knew fear when they heard it. All were instantly frozen stiff when the moan erupted from the basement as though the sorrow of a million souls in hell had been set free.
“What the…?” Sean bolted upright at the sound as did the entire crew, his voice sounding as weak as dying man.
“What in the holy hell is that?” Gene’s groggy, deep voice whispered.
“Why don’t you go check it out dipshit.” Came Sean’s snide reply.
“Fuck that shit! Paul, go check that shit out!” Gene, the largest member of the group, growled at their smallest member.
Paul slowly got to his feet, visibly shaking. His scrawny five foot two inch body shook from head to toe but he knew he had little to no choice. He knew to do as he was told or take a beating from either giant Gene or vicious Sean in addition to being left out the next time they scored some precious drugs. He started to walk toward the kitchen where the basement door was located as another moan froze him in his tracks.
“Maybe we should just leave.” The hopeful whisper emanating from his mouth received one reply.
“Just go asshole!” Sean shouted.
“Fine, fine I’m goin’.” Paul succumbed yet his feet refused to move.
The giant six foot six inch, three hundred pound Gene was now on his feet behind his scrawny companion. He gave Paul a shove in the back to get him moving just glad he had someone to check out the commotion so he didn’t have to do it. Gene was huge but had all the courage of a cowering bunny.
Paul was always the guinea pig. They forced him inside everywhere first. He was used to walking into the unknown but nothing like this. His legs felt lead filled as he inched his way nearer the kitchen’s entrance. A moment later he stood before the basement door, his hand on the knob not wanting to turn it to find out what lay in wait on the other side.
“Just do it, damn it!” Gene scolded him.
Paul’s head dropped, he had no choice. It’s probably just some homeless bum anyway he thought to himself. He lifted his head inhaling a deep breath then quickly pulling the door open. He smiled, greeted by nothing more than darkness. He could see the first rickety step but little else. The sigh of relief he let out was audible to the rest of his companions who all let out one of their own not even realizing that they had all been holding their breath. Before Paul could take the first step the howl came once again.
“Move your ass Paul! Now! Stab that scumbag so we can get some damn sleep!” Sean’s yelling smacked Paul back into motion.
He leaned forward peering into the dark unable to see anything at all. He made his first tentative step. He could hear the rats still scurrying, scampering and squeaking seemingly in all directions as though trapped with no way out. The moaning started again as Paul reached the halfway point of the treacherous steps, amazingly he hadn’t fallen through yet.
“Whoever’s down here, you better shut the fuck up or you’re gonna be sorry!” Paul’s threat sounded much bolder than it actually was.
The threat received no reply other than the moan echoing through the basement. Paul pulled a small pocket knife from his back pocket locking out the tiny, dull three inch blade, the longest and only unbroken one. He held the blade out in front of him stabbing at nothing as a blind man would. His hands were shaking uncontrollably as he finally reached the basement’s concrete floor.
“Where are ya? Ya suminabitch?” Paul’s voice shook as bad as his hands.
“Paul? What the fuck is it? Paul, you better answer me damn it! Paul!” Gene was now standing in the basement doorway staring into darkness after Paul’s lighter had abruptly gone out.
No answer came from below just another moan, “Paul?” Gene’s baritone cracked in fear; still no answer came from below.
“Better find out what the hell’s going on down there Gene. Move it!” Sean yelled now standing in the kitchen’s doorway with Scott behind him and Judy squeezing Elizabeth in the far corner of the front room.
“Alright damn it! Stop yelling at me! Gimme your lighter so I don’t fall on my ass.” Gene growled at Sean.
Sean slapped his lighter into Gene’s huge hand with a “Go get ‘em tiger” look. Gene grabbed a piece of 2 X 4 that someone had left by the door to use as a weapon since he carried nothing due to his size. The giant gently stepped down onto the first step sending up a silent prayer that his foot didn’t go straight through it. The dry rotted wood creaked loudly but held. Gene held his makeshift weapon at his side as he descended the steps with the lighter held out in front of him in his meaty trembling hand.
Once at the bottom he rounded the corner of the steps just as Paul had done a moment ago almost stepping on his friend’s head as he did. Rats scampered in a huge pool of blood Paul was lying in. Paul’s face was frozen in a silent scream with his throat completely ripped out. It looked as though a great white had bitten through Paul with one massive bite from jugular to carotid. Whatever scream had tried to come out of his mouth had never made it. Gene’s bladder let loose as he stood there trembling like a frightened ten year old girl looking down at the ruin of his friend with rats already in a feasting frenzy .
“He’s dead.” Gene’s voice was so weak it didn’t carry all the way to the top of the steps.
“What’s that, you big doofus?” Sean yelled down.
The flickering flame went out and no reply came back. Fear slid down Sean’s spine like an electric shock. He had always pretended to have more backbone than he actually did but now that something was obviously amiss he was no longer able to hide its absence. He moved back from the doorway bumping into Scott so hard both of them almost toppled over. Sean had forgotten the quiet one of the group was even there. He spun around grabbing the last of his disciples by the collar shoving him around toward the basement doorway.
“Your turn asshole! Find out what the hell is going on down there.” Sean barked at the silent and scared Scott.
Scott shot a scared look at his leader but receiving no sympathy bowed his head and headed down the steps. “I can’t see anything.” He called up to Sean after just a couple of steps.
“The big doofus has my lighter get it from him. Move it!”
“Shit!” Scott muttered to no one as he descended the steps calling out his missing friends’ names.
Paul and Gene had to have slipped in this crap and knocked themselves out Scott thought silently. Assuming it was one of his unconscious friends he had tripped over he kicked at the body yelling for it to wake up but there was no movement from the body. He kicked hard a couple more times wondering why the body that was obviously Gene failed to move at all.
“Gene! Come on buddy, wake the hell up!” He yelled at his giant friend.
No reply or movement came. Scott half crawled over to the body trying to shake the giant awake but nothing. He felt his way down the beefy arms to find the lighter so he could see what he was doing. He finally found it as his hands searched out from the body in front of him until they closed on the tiny lighter. Luckily it had fallen far enough away from whatever was spilled on the floor that it wasn’t drenched. Scott, now on his knees, wiped his hands on the dry spots he could find on his pants before trying to spark the lighter. With one dry thumb he flicked the lighter bringing its tiny flame to life immediately wishing he hadn’t.
He wasn’t sitting in spilled oil but a giant pool of blood surrounding his gigantic friend. He was covered in the crimson fluid looking down at a gaping hole in the giant’s chest. He looked toward the back of the basement seeing Paul’s dead body lying at Gene’s feet. Paul’s faced was turned toward him and he watched as a rat crawled into his friend’s mouth, its tail hanging like a worm from the corner of Paul’s mouth while its head appeared out the hole where hiss throat had been. Scott tried to scream but it stuck in his throat refusing to come out. Rats went flying as a moan erupted right behind him.
Sean watched from the doorway as once again the light died. Any courage Sean had left died with it. He turned away planning to bolt from the front door of 508 Charles Place when the moaning stopped him in his tracks. It was coming up the steps now.
Slowly it rose one clunk after another as it ascended the rickety basement stairs to the desolate main floor of 508 Charles Place. Sean wanted to run but found his legs refused to obey his brain’s commands. He turned his head to see Judy cowering in the corner shaking uncontrollably, rocking back and forth, Elizabeth pressed tight to her chest. Judy’s head was down with eyes shut tight not wanting to see anything. Another clunk on the steps accompanied by the infernal moaning seemed the embodiment of fear itself. Another clunk came telling Sean, whatever the thing was, it was nearly to the top. The moaning somehow froze him in place, his spine completely gone, the once bold leader was unable to move.
He managed to turn in the doorway back to face whatever was coming though he had no faith in his ability to fight it. The moaning grew louder and louder continuing to freeze the leader of nobodies in place. One final clunk and the thing was out of the basement standing in all its monstrous glory in moonlight coming through the lone window left unshattered in the dilapidated residence.
Sean found he was still unable to move as the monstrosity moved toward him. A scream refused to escape his gaping mouth even now with the thing standing right in front of him. It stared through him as if searching for something in him with its empty sockets. Sean’s eyes went wide with fear gazing at the undead thing’s wretched appearance. Peering into the empty sockets he saw moonlight shining through the missing back of its skull with only about half of a brain that remained uneaten by its rodent and insect guests. The moonlight sparkled in Sean’s pupils while the monstrosity let loose another of its soul crushing moans. In a flash of movement it shoved the jagged steel it used for a hand up through Sean’s skull. In one smooth motion the steel penetrated the soft flesh under the chin popping out the top of the skull with a crunch of bone splattering blood and a bit brain matter to the floor behind the silent victim. The beast held Sean there a moment as if watching the light it couldn’t see burn out in its victim’s eyes.
Judy had not dared to look up through the entire ordeal just sat in the corner rocking back and forth with Elizabeth hoping it would all be over soon. Even more she was wished for a little heroin to take her away. She didn’t see her man fall to the floor, she just heard the thud. She didn’t look up, she didn’t want to see. Her thoughts never for an instant shifted to concern for the child in her arms.
Judy shut her eyes tighter not wanting to see the monster she could hear approaching. She let go of Elizabeth in order to cup her hands over her ears not caring if the child met with the beast or began wailing again. Elizabeth didn’t cry out, she knew it didn’t matter if she did. She crawled away from her mother as it got closer.
The undead monstrosity stood before Judy looking down with its empty, decaying sockets at a mother who was no mother at all. It reached down with its hook hand forcing her to lift her head. For the first time since this all began Judy opened her eyes, her jaw dropping in horror at what she saw standing before her. She turned her eyes to the kitchen doorway seeing the man that had brutalized her for years slumped over, the crown of his skull removed along with the brain it once contained. She turned her eyes back to the monstrosity standing before her unable to scream the same as her now brainless abuser before her. Tears began to run down her cheeks though still she gave not a single thought to her own she had let crawl away. She had never cared for the child and would apparently die being just as terrible of a mother as she had always been. The freshly risen dead man before her shook its rat eaten, bug infested head then it jammed the jagged steel hand straight between Judy’s eyes. The last of the human detritus infesting 508 Charles Place was no more.
She brought in the paper flipping it open to the obituaries scanning them quickly before her husband came out to kiss her goodbye. No one she knew had died yesterday so she flipped back to the front page looking at the day’s headlines instead. Eric finished his morning preparations, kissed his wife goodbye and headed out the door to leave. Jane waited a few minutes for her husband to leave plus a few minutes more to make sure he didn’t turn around for something he’d forgotten. Her routine would be the same today as it was everyday.
She pulled up outside the dilapidated home trying to decide whether to get out and sit on the porch or just sit in her car today. This was the one part of her daily routine that she did vary depending upon her mood or the weather though sometimes she did enjoy sitting in the rain as well. No one can tell you’re crying in the rain. This ritual had been her routine for the last two years now, everyday the same.
She pulled the picture from her purse, the one that had begun to fade with its corners becoming frayed from the ritual. It was her little girl’s sixth birthday that day. The sun made the girl’s golden locks shimmer as she flashed her thousand watt smile to the camera. No one had ever been able to resist bursting into of their own seeing that smile. She could light up the darkest room with that smile as Jane’s mother used to say but not any more.
Beth Greif had gone outside to play a few days after the photo her mother held was taken never to return home again. Everyone in the neighborhood knew Beth always looking out for her so that the no one was going to ever drive by and wisk her away. That fateful day she had wandered a couple streets over to where there were several abandoned homes deciding to play house in one of them. She had opened the door and gone inside unnoticed to all but one. She had been six years old and curious.
Michael bolted up the stairs knowing the danger of doing so. He was nearly to the child when he heard a horrendous cracking as half the stairway collapsed dropping his seven foot frame to the basement. He lay on the cold concrete floor surrounded by debris from the broken staircase; both of his legs, hips and two vertebrae shattered. He howled in pain only to look up seeing young Beth impaled on a jagged board jutting up from the floor, her blood running everywhere. He unleashed a tremendous bellow that was heard for miles but it was no use, young Beth Greif was dead. Knowing that no one would believe he hadn’t brought the child here to abuse her, Michael Slaughter crawled to the back of the basement where he wouldn’t be seen to die alone. He wept for the child he hadn’t even known or been able to save until he passed out in pain. While he was unconscious and dying the rats went to work.
Everyday when her husband left for work, Jane drove here to where her daughter had been taken from her too soon to weep for the child she so dearly wanted back in her arms. She sat gazing down at the picture of her beautiful daughter letting the grief wash over her, today’s tears rolling down her cheeks when she heard something. She swore she heard a baby whimper knowing it had to just be in her head. She rolled down the window distracted from her ritual mourning when it came again.
Jane shot out thinking somehow, some way, her daughter had come back to her in her delusional grief stricken state. She ran up the front steps stopping dead at the top step unable to believe her eyes. There in front of the badly leaning door of 508 Charles Place was a baby wrapped in a dirty pink blanket barely making any noise at all. Jane knew that homeless and drug addicts often squatted in these homes so she approached with caution in case this was some kind of a scam. She had heard about scams like this so she was wary of being jumped and mugged or worse. She waited a moment, she yelled out asking if anyone was there but received no answer. Jane knelt down to the child lifting it from the makeshift bed where it laid quieter than any baby she had ever seen. She gave a cautious look around for anyone lurking before gently lifting the child up.
She held little Elizabeth up without a care for the girl’s soaked through newspaper diaper. Holding Elizabeth as a mother is supposed to hold a child, she was amazed the child did not cry only looked up at her smiling. Jane looked down into the child’s dirty blanket bed hoping for some kind of note from the child’s mother explaining why she had abandoned the child. She reached down plucking what appeared to be a dirty index card from the filthy pink blanket. Jane cringed as the note appeared not to be written in ink but obviously in dried blood. Her knees buckled as she saw the note was addressed to her personally. It read simply:
Jane, I couldn’t save yours, please, save this one.