Does anyone really know their family and what they might be capable of?
|What did you do in the war Uncle?
By Stephen A Abell.
No. of words: 7991
"I'm glad the creepy bastard's dead."
"That's your Uncle you're talkin' about."
"He wasn't my Uncle, we just used to call him that; "Uncle Harold". The best recollection I have of him was the old black an' white photo that Nana used to keep on her mantelpiece, he was her Uncle, after all." Jason threw the letter concerning the death of Mr. Harold Pettigrew down on the coffee table amongst the other junk mail. "I only saw him a couple of times, that I can remember, I wasn't even ten then. The only reason that I've got this letter now is that I'm the only one left in the family. He had a sister; she had a family but they passed away in a fire before I made my teens. Uncle Harold, himself, never got married."
"So what're you goin' to do," Stephanie motioned to the letter, "about that? About the will? The funeral? Everything?"
"I'll have to attend the meeting with the solicitor to ascertain what's expected. At least he'd put money aside for the cremation, the letter states that's been taken care of and it'll be carried out Tuesday, next week. I'd better turn up for that at least. It'd be a poor show if I didn't. Anyway the meeting's afterwards."
"Well, you wont be alone. I'll be right by your side." She ran a gentle hand from his shoulder and down to his hand, and squeezed lovingly.
"What would I do without you?" The rhetorical question hung in the air as he pulled her close and kissed her soft and deep.
"I really love you."
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"Well Mr Styles there's not much to this, since you're the only surviving relative, everything goes to you. After the government take their piece, that is."
"And what is there, exactly?"
"After the funeral costs; the monies come to around four and a half thousand pounds, so you're not millionaires, but it should come in useful, I'd imagine. Then, there's the house, furnishings and everything else inside; you never know what little treasures you may find. It's only a mid-terraced property but with the house market at the moment you may make between seventy and a hundred thousand on it. Of course, that depends on the condition of the property."
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It was a run-down mid-terrace, that the keys belonged to, and the inside wasn't much better.
"Is that damp I can smell?" Stephanie bleated, covering her nose with a handkerchief, "Urgh!"
"That's not all, come look at this." Jason beckoned her. "Jesus Christ, I'm amazed the house hasn't burnt to the ground. These are the original fixtures," he pointed to the bakalite light switches, "these should've been replaced ages ago. Shit! We're really going to have problems shifting this. And take a look at those fires." On the walls in the kitchen and the front room were two of the oldest and battered gas fires they had ever seen. "They must be from the fifties or the sixties and I just bet they haven't been serviced." He shook his head as he turned to face his partner. "We're gonna have to spend that money in the bank to fix this place up before we can move it on." A sad smile broke out on his face. "Thank you Uncle Harold! Thank You!"
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Two weeks later: Jason and Stephanie were back at the house and hard at work sorting through a lifetime. They started in the loft, luckily this was empty, then hit the bedrooms. In each bedroom was a wardrobe; in each wardrobe were men's clothes; shirts, jumpers, trousers, suits, and tucked away in the rear of the back bedroom wardrobe were two army uniforms. Stephanie marched them through to show Jason.
"Damn!" He remarked with an air of surprise and respect. "I vaguely remember stories he'd tell about being in the army, in the second World War, but I always thought he was just telling tall tales to a small kid. Damn! Well, we can't give them away to charity, can we? Put them to one side, I think I'll store them somewhere safe. Ah, Steph, don't go givin' me that look. I know I didn't know the guy but, babe, World War II? He may have been a hero, for all we know, an if he wasn't, then so what, he fought for us when it still meant something; and he survived."
"Oh, honey," she chuckled, "you're not goin to cry are you? You don't need a tissue, or something?"
"Come here wench, I'll give you something!" He pounced, catching her off guard, and they both tumbled onto the bed. Their lips met. His fingers pushed through her hair and caressed her scalp. Her eager hands found the buckle to his belt and with a couple of tenuous pulls it gave. Her fingers finding the button on his jeans easy to undo and the zipper easy to unzip. He had pushed up the flimsy T-shirt that she wore and pushed the bra over the soft mounds of her breasts. His mouth moved down to her right nipple as her hand pushed under the waist of his pants. His tongue flicked at her proud and erect nipple. As his teeth teased, she moaned and grabbed his stiff cock, pulling it free. Jason's free hand glided up her leg, from the hem of her skirt, underneath, over her inner thigh and up to the wetness of her crotch. He was not-so-gently rubbing her damp pussy through the thin material of her panties, hoping that he was hitting the clitoris at least a couple of times. The heat and the lust built up in both of them; they were caught in the moment. Stephanie used her grip to roll him over onto his back and within seconds she had moved her panties to one side and lowered herself onto him. Both bucked like wild animals and their climax came within minutes. Satiated she rolled off him, leaving a trail across the duvet, and sat on the edge of the bed readjusting her clothing.
"Wow!" She sighed as she exhaled.
"Wow is right. Where did that come from and can I get some more?"
As he tucked his deflated and spent penis back into his pants and jeans she spoke, "Time to go through the drawers next, then."
In a fake American accent, with an over-acted nod of the head, he replied. "Honey, we just did that," and they both laughed, falling back on the duvet.
Another hour and the drawers had been ransacked. Four piles had been made in each room, one to keep, one to car boot or give to charity, one to throw away, and one, the smallest pile, were keys. There seemed to be two complete sets of house keys, as well as a few left over. After half an hour they had managed to match the keys up to wardrobes, drawers and suitcases, leaving three in the pile. Out of the rear bedroom window they looked down at the shed. "I think," Jason stated, "one of these is for that. I think I'll check it over, after lunch, while you start on the front room."
The shed door creaked open slowly and he had to add a little extra force when the hinges seized. How long had it been since anyone had opened the door?, he thought. A musty smell assailed his nose and made him cough slightly as he climbed the couple of steps and crossed over the threshold. Even though the midday sun was bearing down on the back yard, hardly any of its light pervaded this little wooden building. The sheet of grime having built up on the windows over the decades of non-use kept most of the light at bay. Justin scanned the small and crowded room while his eyes adapted to the murkiness.
Under the windows, on the left, was a workbench, made from sturdy sections of wood, judging by the grain it was possibly oak. "That should be worth somethin'," he whispered to no-one. Strewn on the bench were the remnants from some project that Uncle Harold had been working on; nails, screws, a couple of pliers, a hammer, a few pieces of wood, scattered shavings, and installed on the far end was a vice. All of them were rusted, covered in a slight layer of dust with tendrils of cobwebs draped haphazardly. Under the bench, on the floor, was a closed and padlocked rusty blue toolbox. Down at the far end, directly in front of him, was a metal locker, another padlock attached through its hasp. Shelving ran along the right wall. Upon it were the odds-and-sods that you find in any shed or garage. Half used tins of paint, white spirit, paint brushes, a couple of demi-johns, a TV ariel, a few plant pots and potting implements. There was nothing out of the ordinary and he rebuked himself for expecting to find something. It seemed that Uncle Harold had been a normal bloke after all.
The shout was bordering on a scream. The urgency of it spun him around and, without a thought, he leaped over the steps and landed, running, in the yard. Stephanie was standing in the back doorway, her skin pale, and she looked to be shaking slightly.
"What's a matter, babe?" Concern heavy in his voice, but he knew she could be overreacting. "You haven't seen another spider, have you? Listen I've old you a mill..."
"I wish," she cut him off. "You're not going to believe what I've found." She grabbed him by the collar and pulled, hard, dragging him through the kitchen, past the doorway to the stairs and into the front room. Finally casting him down on the brown leather sofa. "I was just sortin' through the bookcase, seein' if I could find any first editions when I came across these photo albums," she retrieved them from the coffee table, where she had cast them down in disgust. "You were right. Your Uncle was one sick bastard." She threw them into Justin's lap. The look of revulsion showing in her eyes and body movements; she quickly wiped her hands on her jeans, as if to get something nasty off them. "Look!"
"I said he was creepy not sick. What's all the fuss about, so he liked to take pictures, there's no harm in tha...." Words failed him as he opened the first album and his eyes took in the scene. "Jesus Christ!"
Memories of a gilt-edged frame and the picture it held betwixt glass and board ran through his mind. There was no doubt about it, the bald, smiling, man in that old black and white photograph was the same bald, smiling, man in this old black and white photograph. The difference being that Uncle Harold, in this photo, was holding up the severed head of a German soldier. The decapitated head was Germanic, Jason knew, due to it still wearing an insignia emblazoned helmet, the strap fastened securely under the chin. He could feel the bile rising in his stomach.
Gingerly he turned the page. There were a group of ten photo's, each of which depicted the torture and death of another soldier. Uncle Harold and some other men were taking turns in stabbing the man with their bayonets. The killing shot showed an Officer putting a bullet through the man's brain. The action and effect caught beautifully; bone, blood, brain matter all rushed into the air following the cordite smoke and the bullet.
The third page showed another atrocity. The results of a bomb run on some foreign town. Severed limbs from nameless bodies were strewn all over the photo, amongst the bricks and mortar of fallen buildings. A couple of men were relieving themselves on the remains.
"This is fucked up," Jason forced his eyes upwards and looked into Steph's lamentable face. "I know that war is brutal and that it effects the men in it, but this is just deranged." He turned the page.
The dead eyes of a woman, once beautiful, now empty and devoid of life, stared up at him. The rest of her body was in tatters. Her right arm was gone, as was everything below her chest. A sadness filled his heart and a cold dread snaked into his mind warning him not to turn the page. Curiosity and morbid fascination won out and he flipped it over. The same woman looked out of the photo but this time she was naked and positioned up against a wall. The black and white film had captured every detail, from the dark red of torn flesh to the stretch marks on her free breasts. He turned the page. It was a downward shot of the woman and this time an engorged penis was being pushed into her mouth. He turned the page. Her nose nestled against the pubic hair of the camera man. He turned the page. The penis was half way in her mouth. He turned the page. He turned the page. He turned the page. The penis went in and out between the dead woman's lips. The last shot in the album showed semen splattered over the once beautiful face.
Quietly he closed the book, rose quickly from the sofa, ran into the kitchen, and vomited into the sink.
Wiping a kitchen towel across his mouth he turned the tap to draw a glass of water, so as to rinse the foulness away. Her mouth. More acidic waste rose up in disgust and he spat it down the plughole. "Well, that's one book I don't mind burning. I'll get a fire started as soon as we get home." He shook his head. "Jesus." The disbelief was setting in. How true the solicitor had been when he stated, "you never know what little treasures you may find".
"The other album is roughly the same," she walked into the kitchen, "I just quickly thumbed through it. After the first few pages I knew I didn't want to see any more. What kind of person takes such photo's, does those things, and then saves them for prosperity?"
"A sick fuck. That's what kind of person."
"And nobody had any idea of what he was really like? Or of any of this vileness?"
"Like I said love, he came to see Nana and those were the few times that I saw him. Far as I can remember I've never been here, to this house, before now and I can't remember him ever coming to us. To the best of my knowledge, he never sent us a Christmas card or anything else; I don't think he even had our address. There was only us at the crem' so he probably didn't have many friends left. Besides, would you happily pass out that album to anyone. I think they're just there because they were easy for him to get at." The thought hit them both and they shuddered in unison.
"I hope he didn't have any friends at all. I hope he died miserably and alone." Then as an afterthought; "And in a great deal of pain."
"OK love, lets put this behind us now. I'll burn the books tonight; as for now, we still have the rest of the house to clear out, so we better get crackin'." He forced a smile. "There's a lot of crap in the shed that needs throwin'. I'd like to keep the workbench though, it's solid wood and looks in good nick. There's a cabinet and a toolbox that are pad-locked so I'll just nip upstairs and grab them spare keys. Hopefully one of 'em'll fit." With that he passed by her and bounded off up the stairs.
She shook of her head in despondency and went back to checking the book shelves in the living room.
All the keys turned out to be for the pad-locks, there was a spare for the cabinet. Even though the tools were enclosed in the metal storage box they had started to rust. Ah well, he thought, more for the skip. Inside the metal cabinet he found Uncle's photo developing kit as well as a few metal boxes. The dread had returned, slithering coldly up and into his spine. He knew what was inside the boxes. Photographs. These photographs, for some reason, had not made it into the albums. Why not? Were they not good enough? Or were these the special ones? The ones you do not, God forbid, want anybody seeing. The special ones that only came out on lonely days. The best ones that were only for you and private times. With trembling hands he held one of the containers.
He stood a full five minutes looking at the tarnished box and never really saw it. Visions swirled in his head. Visions of the dead, the decaying, the abused, the violated, the degraded. His mind was in turmoil.
Jason's hands played nervously with the lid's catch, as his mind tried to come to some resolve, his finger absently flicked it free and open. Startled, he looked down. Thank God, he thought, the lid is still closed.
Yes it is, his mind put in, but it is so close to open you might as well finish the job and have a peek. Can anything be as bad as the pictures in the albums? Or the ones spinning around your mind right now?
Probably not, he answered. Using his thumb he pushed under the lids rim.
His first assumption was correct, there were pictures inside and he was relieved to find that his subconscious had been right, they were not that bad. There were a lot of landscape photographs, some of which showed a talent for composition and developing. Uncle Harold had been more than just a snapper. There were a few of the family, he recognised a few Aunts, Uncles, his Nana and Granddad, his Mum and Dad, and was surprised to find a couple of himself tucked in amongst them. There were photographs of cars, planes, boats, dogs, cats, just about anything that his Uncle could possible take a picture of, was here.
He closed the lid with a relieved sigh and placed the box on the workbench. The second and third boxes contained more pictures in the same ilk. He was beginning to warm a little to his recently cremated Uncle. He just could not figure out why the depraved photographs were taking pride of place in the albums while these, often well-above-average ones were housed outside in a damp shed. With a smile on his face he opened the fourth tin and pulled out the first picture. It was a photo of his Nana, as he raised it carefully from its confines he saw that she looked to be in her thirties. His smile started to falter when he saw that her shoulders were bare. The warm feeling that had started to run through his body took on an icy chill as he noticed that she was topless. His hands released their hold on the box when he saw the clamps on her nipples and the nail running through one. As the box hit the wooden floor with a thud his mind spoke up, there was blood dripping from the tip of that nail.
His eyes glanced at the floor and the squares of card that were scattered over it. Most of them were face down. But the ones face up bestowed him with visions of abuse and depravity. One of them caught his attention. It showed a female lent over a table, there was something vaguely familiar about it ... something about the wallpaper ... her buttocks were bright red and bleeding slightly, a wooden cane rested on her back. It was Nana again. The table was at her house, the wallpaper had come off when he had been ten; the cane had stood in one corner by the china cabinet. He had always thought, and been told, that it was there as a detterent for his father, and his brother and sister. He finally knew the truth, it had been for his Grandparents pleasure. Captured, oh so well, by Uncle Harold's lens and skill.
Hurriedly, he gathered up the photographs and tried to ram them back in their box. His eyes alighted on one where his Nana was giving head. From the angle it was obvious that the photographer was the owner of the erect penis. Yet another caught his attention, this showed cum, spent and running from her forehead down to her chin. Another, taken from a higher vantage point, showed a penis urinating on her face, her mouth open, willingly accepting the liquid. His anger rising, he slammed the tin's lid down and threw it into the cabinet. Turning to leave he spotted an errant picture by the doorway. Stooping to pick it up he saw the photo of his Nana, naked in a coffin, scars ran all over her body, he could just make them out underneath all the semen that covered her, from head to foot. Screwing it up into a tight ball he lobbed it, into the cabinet, after the box. The door slammed shut on the little shed as Jason went in search of a stiff drink.
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It had been a long night. Jason had put his foot down; they were keeping nothing, everything was to be given away, sold or scrapped. Under no circumstances was he going to let anything from that house into theirs. He felt everything in that place was tainted; thanks to the photographs that he had found the cherished memories of his Grandparents had been tarnished in a way that he was finding it hard to accept. When Nana died he decided to view the body, as he had never seen a real live dead person before. What he saw had saddened him greatly and, at the same time, filled him with hope and joy. She had not been there. Her body, yes; her soul, no. She had passed over. But last night all he could dream about was the picture of her, naked in the coffin, and he was the one jacking off over the corpse. He glanced up to see a man with a camera pointed at him. As the light from the flash exploded he awoke. The dream had recurred five times that night and he instinctively knew it would stay with him until he died. He wanted no other memories of that sick and twisted man, there were enough already.
He left Stephanie at home, frantically phoning around the tradesmen he had lined up to work at the house. It was imperative to him that the house was prepared for the sale. He would return to scour the rest of his Uncle's rooms for any other disgusting items. He paused long enough to grab the urn with Uncle Harold's remains. "Even though the bastard's dead I don't want him in my house, ever," slamming the door, as if to emphasise the point.
At the house all was quiet and the search went well. Nothing else was found; no nasty surprises at all.
The ringing of the land-line broke the silence and Jason jumped slightly at the sudden noise. As he reached across to pick up the receiver his hand connected with Harold Pettigrew's new abode, "Shit", and knocked it to one side where it came to rest on the lip of the table. "Oh, no you," trying to move quickly to stop the urn from falling, "DON'T," only resulted in Jason knocking it back in the other direction, "Fuck", where it clipped the telephone and started to topple onto its side, "NO", and over the edge of the table towards the floor, "Shit", where it broke into pieces, "FUCK", sending up clouds of ash, "SHIT-FUCK".
Resigned to the catastrophe he finally picked up the telephone and sighed, "Hello."
"What's up darlin'?" It was Steph, her voice full of concern. "You sound upset, is somethin' wrong?"
"No, babe, nothing." A smile started at the corners of his lips. "Just Uncle Harold making an escape for freedom."
"I knocked the bloody urn off the table when I answered the phone, that's all, nothing important. He's floating around at the moment. Shit!"
"The buggers on my jeans. I'll have to throw'em now. Shit! At least I didn't find any other nasties in the house. I've been through it from attic to fridge."
"You've looked in the fridge?" Steph's tone was incredulous.
"Well, you remember Aunty Winnie don't you?"
"What's Winn got to do with any of ... Ah, now I see, yeah, her false teeth, her keys and what else was there?"
"Her wedding ring and glasses. Her teeth were in the biscuit tin with the biscuits, she offered us a chocolate digestive, remember? The keys and her glasses were in the freezer compartment of her fridge and her wedding ring was in ..."
"The talcum powder puff container. I remember now. So you've looked everywhere then ..."
"... and there's nothing. That is good news and I have some of my own the electrician can make a start today. The job he should've started cancelled last week so he's been bittin' and bobbin' this week. He says he's glad we called as he was gettin' a little bored waitin' for folks to call. He should be with you within the hour."
"That's great, love, thanks. What about the plumber and the guy who's doin' the pointing up?"
"The plumber's wife told me he's pulled out at the moment and couldn't start until when we'd originally arranged and the plasterer says the job he's on at the moment is going well, so he'll give us a call if it finishes early. Sorry love."
"There ain't no need to be sorry, babe, you did your best and the 'trician's comin'. That's a start."
"Do you want me to come round and give you a hand?"
"I think it'll get a little crowded in here when the 'trician shows. If you can arrange some way of getting rid of the crap here that'll help greatly, thanks. Ah, well, better Hoover up Uncle Harold before the man turns up, we don't want him gettin' shit on his shoes, do we? I'll see you when I get home babe. Love you."
"I love you too and take care."
"I always do, catch ya' later."
At each end of the line they hung up the handsets.
As he turned the vacuum off he became aware of the banging on the door. Quickly he strode across the living room, grasped the handle, and swung the door open. Outside, in the bright midday, sun stood two people, a man and a woman. Jason extended his hand and was happy when the man did the same. "I'm so glad that you could make it on such short notice."
"Well, we're glad that your wife called Mr Booker," the electrician smiled back, "what with the cancellation and all, things have been a little slow this week. Bev, here, thought she might not get paid."
The woman smiled weekly as Jason stood to one side and let them enter the house. "So are we still lookin' at a two day turn around?"
"Like I said when I surveyed the place, I can't see any reasons why we wouldn't be finished in that time. If we do run into anything then we'll inform you straight away. I mean, when we last spoke you were going to be decorating, as well as some other things. Is that still the plan?"
"Yeah, Mr Thompson, I'll ..."
"Mike, call me Mike and this is Bev."
"Then, I'm Jase and I'll be trying to get this place ready, yeah. I just want it gone."
"OK then Jase. If we get crackin' now we should have ya done by the end of the day, Friday. Will that be OK?"
"It's more than OK, it's great. Cheers." The relived smile broke on his face. "While you're gettin' your things from the van I'll put a brew on, what d'you take?"
"I'll have a tea please, white with one sugar," Bev spoke up for the first time, her feminine voice a contrast to her manly attire, "and he'll have a coffee, black, with three sugars. Err, heaped spoons please."
"Bit of a sweet tooth," Jason grinned at her and was delighted when she smiled back, "no problem."
The two workers started with a fervour. The electricity was turned off to the house, Mike looped in an extension so they would not be without their all important cuppas. The junction box was removed, floorboards taken up, connections unscrewed, light fittings taken down, and the old wire unthreaded from the bones of the house like strange alien sinews. Jason watched in awe as he scraped away at the old wallpaper in the living room and kitchen.
They had been working continuously for two hours and Jason thought they all deserved a break. He took Mike and Bev a couple of steaming drinks upstairs, setting them on the bannister, then retreated back down for his own drink and a sandwich. He bit slowly through the bread and into the cheese and pickle, savouring the tang of both the mature cheddar and the ploughman's. The sensation took him back to a younger time when he had been single; he would sit in front of the television on a Sunday evening watching Star Trek while scoffing down a chilled cheese and pickle sandwich, washing it away from his teeth and mouth with a rich "Full Bodied" Italian coffee, for him that had been heaven. He relaxed back into the sofa and let the memories carry him back.
It was not the noise that brought him back to the present, it was the strange feeling around his left eye. Instinctively his hand batted at it but the object did not move. His knuckles scraped across a strange corrugated surface. Opening his eyes, he knew instantly that things were wrong. His right eye saw clearly while his left saw blackness. Total blackness. The pain was becoming more intense as the object was pushed harder against his face. He could hear a low humming sound and knew exactly what it was, and with that revelation he knew what was pressing against his skin. A cold terror filled his body. He quickly brought up his hands and encircled the pipe. A second before he could pull it free the motor revved up and he felt the suction. Shear terror flowed through his body as he yanked at the pipe with all of his energy, still he could not move it. The sound of the motor became louder and faster as the suction became stronger. The thought crossed his mind to call out for help, Mike and Bev could save him. As he opened his mouth the motor spun even quicker and Jason had a strange sensation of leaving his body. With shock he realised that his eye had been pulled from it's socket and was bouncing around in the pipe. He let out a scream as the nerves and sinew, connecting the eyeball to the brain, shredded. The motor picked up more speed and Jason could feel his life's blood being sucked out of him as veins and fibres tore apart. Pain was searing through him, his body was an orchestra of horror, as his brain started to loosen; his spinal column was tearing apart under the increased suction. He began to twitch uncontrollably, his bowels loosened, urine and faeces dribbled down the inside of his jeans. Memories and dreams played manically in his mind. Then everything went black as his brain was rent from its anchorage.
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"He's a bit of all right, ain't he?"
"He's married Bev." Mike shook his head in disbelief. "Ah, but I keep forgettin', you like 'em that way."
"Hey it was only the once, I learnt my lesson."
"But here you are, still lookin'. Leave it alone love, get out there, have some fun and meet someone nice." Mike laughed. "And single."
"There ain't no one nice. You know my track record. I've done the "Pubs and Clubs" routine and there wern't nothin' out there but trouble, pain and heartache. It's like I said boss, I got into electronics and electrics so's I could, at least, fix my vibrators. But he is a bit of all right, ain't he? Someone I can fantasise about while the batteries are wearin' down."
"Too much info Bev," Mike smiled, "finish that cuppa tea and lets get on with this job, yeah?"
"Hey, Boss. What's wrong? You got a funny look on your face."
"Shh. I think I can hear somethin'."
"Sound's like a Hoover to me. I see he's got a Dyson, wish I did they're good hardware."
"Shh, I said. Something's not right."
The scream broke the semi-silence and seemed to shake the house.
"Jesus fuckin' Christ. What the fuck was that?"
Mike was already on his feet and heading to the doorway and the stairs down. "You call the police, Bev." He shot a worried glance over his shoulder, "NOW! And no matter what you hear, you stay up here." With that he turned and stomped quickly down the stairs while Bev dialled 999 on her mobile.
He opened the door slowly and as silently as possible. If there was something strange going on he did not want to alert the intruder to the fact that there were more people around. Through the crack in the door he scanned the rooms, everything seemed to be all right. Then from the front room an arm came into sight. Every finger was twitching individually and the arm was swinging madly in the air. "Shit." Mike sighed as he punched the door open and rushed towards the arm and its owner. The last thing that he needed was to have left something live. His business would be damned if the bloody client had electrocuted himself, especially when the juice should be off. Mike grabbed the sweeping brush resting on the door jamb, between the kitchen and the front room, he could use this to break the circuit by pushing the poor bugger away from whatever he was touching.
The whirling dervish of body parts that was Jason stopped Mike in his tracks. Looking around quickly he noticed that the only piece of equipment in the room was the vacuum cleaner, which looked to be connected to Jason's head. Staring closer he saw that the lead was still within the casing of the machine. There was no way the Hoover could be live. Then he noticed the clear cylinder where the dust was captured, except that it was not clear. "What the fuck," he muttered as he stepped closer. Inside the compartment was a mixture of red liquids and strips of ... "Flesh, " the realisation told in his voice; he sounded old, weary, and full of doubt. "Oh fuck," the eyeball spun by and he felt the acidic bile start to rise in his stomach. Suddenly a mass of raw grey matter dropped into the swirling red lake; Jason dropped, lifeless, onto the floor; Mike dropped down to his knees; the contents of Mike's stomach dropped between his legs; the vacuum pipe dropped from the ragged remains of Jason's eye.
Mike's hand darted into the pocket of his overalls, looking for the handkerchief inside. The bile was burning his throat as the vomit dripped from his lips and chin. Finding the cloth his hand brought it out, a few odds and ends fell to the carpet. He began mopping the excrement away from his face. Regaining some composure he sat back on his legs to survey the mayhem about him. There was no getting away from the fact that Jason was dead and it looked as if an unplugged Hoover had been his murderer. Just how the fuck are you going to explain this to the police, his mind ranted, they're goin' to lock you right the fuck away. Man, any way you look at this, you is fucked.
His subconscious had a point, Bev probably had a squad on the way right now.
His mind was still ranting. Freak accident? Could that work? Just plug in the Hoover and say that the idiot must have done it himself; maybe he thought there was a blockage in the pipe so he put it up to his eye to have a look see, and well ...
"Well," he said to no one but himself, "I can give it a try. See what happens." He reached out his hand and grabbed the plug. A force of electricity shot up his arm forcing his hand to spasm and release it's hold on the plug. The force was so strong that it sent his arm backward, over his head, with such speed that his body was taken for the ride. He crashed, dazed, into the wall on the opposite side of the room. Groggily, he shook his head, trying to clear his vision and trying, also, to regain some control of his limbs, the shock having temporarily numbed them. Before his eyes fully cleared the vacuum's motor started up, he barely heard this through the electronic static that spanned all his aural ranges. With all the effort he could muster, he lifted his head in time to see the corrugated pipe swoop down onto the floor and suck up the things that had fallen from his pocket. Within the items there were various screws he had taken from the upstairs floorboards. The pipe moved like a snake under the charmer's melodic song. It's head weaved from side to side until it came to rest a few feet away from his face. The motor slowed, stopped, started and speeded up. A different tone now came from the cleaner and Mike knew that it had somehow reversed its action from suction to expulsion. The liquid mess in the cannister was rising up the sides and as the motor whirred faster the higher the liquid rose. Mike's muscles were still spasming from the jolt and he could not make any of his limbs move as he needed them to.
Blood jettisoned from the head of the pipe, covering Mike's face in its mire. He closed his mouth tight against the onslaught. A chunk of brain hit his cheek, with a wet smack, then fell to his lap. The liquid soaked through the cloth of his overalls and he could feel the clamminess on his skin. In his repulsion he looked down and tried to concentrate on shaking his leg. He had to get this piece of death off him before it could contaminate him and bring him to the same conclusion. Something pinged off his forehead; just the eyeball, his mind told him.
Then he heard the rattling from within the cannister. Metal on metal on plastic. The screws, his mind screamed as they erupted from the pipe.
Sharp metal points glistening redly in the late afternoon light flew past his head and he could hear them penetrate the plaster on the wall. He forced his head upright as a second volley exploded from the vacuum pipe. These careened into his face, slicing flesh, drawing blood, cracking skull, and causing intense pain. Another set of deadly metal arrows flew into his face, causing more damage. One of them scraped his eye, opening a seam across his pupil and cornea. His body refused to respond to his pleas. His legs could not lift him up to carry him away; His arms lay heavily at his sides unable to ward off the projectiles; He could not even move his torso, to fall to one side or another, out of the deadly flightpath. Then he heard the motor start to wind down and he began to pray, to anyone that could hear him, to let this nightmare be over.
Nobody cared about his prayers; they all went unanswered.
The vacuum was changing back into suction mode.
Mike sat helplessly, thinking about his wife and their two girls. He knew that he would never gaze on their beautiful, pretty, faces again. He would never hear their laughter or screams of delight. Nor would he be there to welcome the first boyfriends, as only a father can.
He felt the pipe attach itself to his right cheek. The motor started to spin rapidly, increasing the suction. Where the screws had cut his skin he began to feel the flesh rip and tear. Pain shot straight into his brain and this time he prayed for unconsciousness. Still no one was listening to grant his wish. He could see jets of crimson pump into the air as he felt the skin start to slide from his skull.
Please let this end God, his mind begged, over and over, in a religious mantra.
Shades of red. That was his world now. The blood running freely over his eyes.
How much of his face remained? I don't care because I know my time is nigh. The thought tickled him and he made to smile but only phantom muscles were left on his once modestly handsome face. Seconds later the darkness carried him away from the ruin he had become.
--- xxx --- xxx --- X --- xxx --- xxx ---
Bev had screamed her throat raw trying to get the police woman, on the other end of the conversation, to send a car out to the house. The cow had nearly said that it was more than their jobs-worth, since Bev "couldn't describe what was happening and she could be wasting tax payers money if they came out and saw that whoever was screaming, was merely doing so because they had seen a spider or somethin'!"
Bev had told her, in no uncertain terms that, "It's no fuckin' spider, bitch!"
That got the officer well riled and promised that if the officers came out and there was nothing wrong then Bev, herself, would be brought in for wasting police time.
In for a penny, Bev thought and said, "What from, watchin' Trisha on the telly?"
She hung up before the snotty copper could reply. That had been ten minutes ago, she looked at the digital display on her phone. Where were they, the town was only five minutes away?
A silence had fallen over the downstairs, she had counted seven minutes off on the phone. Maybe everything was all right, the attacker had been chased off or Mike and that sexy Jason bloke had clobbered the fucker. If either of those were correct, though, then why was the house so silent? Surely she should hear the men talking with each other, making plans and such.
What if the intruder overpowered them? Well, should she not hear him moving about, taking the valuables and the like?
Eleven minutes after the shroud of silence fell over the house Bev lifted herself off the bedroom floor and, slowly and quietly, moved out the door and to the top of the stairs.
Two minutes later, the house still silent, Bev cautiously descended the stairs, creeped through the door into the kitchen and stood looking at the devastation in the front room.
She saw the blood sprayed across the walls, the smell of damp and iron started to infuse the air around her. She thought that there was a body against the far wall but her vision was obscured by the Hoover. Mike, she thought, shit, and ran to help her employer and friend. She was half way across the room before she froze, her eyes focused on the skinless, bloody face. The overalls told her who it was and the recognition brought her back to life. Her mouth opened and she screamed.
Two seconds of high pierced, throat ripping, ear popping shriek was cut when the vacuum pipe blazed through the air and pushed it's way into her open and waiting mouth. It pushed deeper, past her wisdom teeth, past her tonsils, past the beginning of her tongue. Bev's neck pushed out as the pipe descended lower inside her. Frantically she grabbed the pipe but the plastic just forced its way in and down. Then it stopped. Bev fell to the floor gasping and heaving.
The pipe started to retreat from the depths of her throat, back up to her mouth. It stopped. Back down, deep; it started to penetrate her again. Then retreated, then inserted; retreated, inserted; retreat, insert. The Hoover pipe fucked her throat, picking up speed as if it could reach a climax.
Suddenly the motor started up and a mass of liquid and flesh was pushed down into her. The pipe pulled out of her mouth, still expelling it's load. Dribbles of tattered, bloody, flesh dropped from the spent pipe.
Bev fell backwards onto the carpet, where thirty seconds later she finished choking to death. The Hoover glided over to her side. The plastic cylinder caressed her face and with a last effort splattered her forehead with gore. The motor stuttered and shorted. Had any one been around to here it they may have mistaken the sound for laughter. Silence.
Two minutes after the havoc had been rent, the front door opened and two uniformed officers entered the building.
--- xxx --- xxx --- X --- xxx --- xxx ---
The three bodies were laid out in the morgue; blood stained while sheets pulled over them, from the balls of the feet to the crowns of their heads.
Stephanie took a deep breath as she placed the mask over her nose and mouth, casually batting away the tears that fell. Pushed the door open and strode purposefully into the coldness.
A police officer stood by her right shoulder as an assistant moved to the head of each table and turned the covers down so she could make the identifications.
Afterwards, she asked for a couple of minutes to spend alone with her husband. As she held tightly to his hand, kissing it lightly, she let the tears flow and the thoughts whirl.
Her mind was in turmoil and had been since the police had informed her of her husband's murder. Bits and pieces floated around in her mind, came together, showed her fleeting images, mad nightmarish scenes that she knew could not be true. All the while her husband's words echoed, "Ah, well, better Hoover up Uncle Harold before the man turns up, we don't want him gettin' shit on his shoes, do we?".
... "better Hoover up Uncle Harold"
"NO!" Steph shouted, unable to stop herself. "No."
She took a deep breath, pulling calm into herself, and exhaled, expelling all the negatives.
She placed her husband's hand back under the sheet and made for the door back to the living.
As she reached out to grab the handle another hand snaked past her and wrapped around the cold metal.
Fear and dread cascaded down her spine. Urine ran to the tiled floor.
"There are so few of us gentleman left after the war. Here, let me open this for you." The hand pulled the door as wide as it could but Stephanie was in the way and rooted to the spot. The hand let go and the door closed. A shadow moved over the door as the gentleman walked around her. Slowly a shape appeared in her periphery, just a silhouette to begin with, becoming more solid and with clearer definition, until Stephanie was staring eye to eye with Bev. Deep within her dead, black, pupils shadows moved. Bev's mouth opened. "My, my, my. Aren't you a beautiful lady." Uncle Harold spoke.