A horror story set on Long Island. Pseudo vampire stuff.
A small sound escaped her as she sighed her last breath. Her dead eyes stared at the ceiling as the long slow process of decomposition began.
"Meat." he thought, "In the end we're all just meat."
He ran a hand through hair that was sparsely covering his wrinkled brow. "Goddamn it, she didn't last long enough!" he said to the tall blond at his right.
The woman didn't answer, just knelt by the body and began tying the hands together. She did it quickly but efficiently using wire brought for exactly this purpose.
"Sonofabitch, she was supposed to last longer." he whined.
"Can it Jack!" the blond snapped. "If you won't help then shut the fuck up."
"Help do what Diane? Fix your mistakes? Not likely." Jack replied.
After the hands she moved to tie the feet together. The corpse still lay where it had fallen staring at the ceiling of the cottage. The roar of the surf outside was loud in their ears as the door opened.
"Who's there!" Diane snapped, but no answer was forthcoming. The door simply hinged back and forth in the light breeze. It was a cloudless night and the moon shone in all her glory portraying an empty beach, what there was of it, and an endless view of whitecaps and rolling breakers. At this time of year there weren't many people out here. Hell, one of these days a good winter storm would make sure there was no "here". The Southhampton barrier beach in winter time is a lonely place.
Diane grabbed the baseball bat she had used on her victim and a flashlight and strode towards the opening. No one there. She checked under the house with the light but all that was there was sand and the grey black pilings of the cottage sunk into it.
"See anything?" Jack asked from near her left elbow.
Starting violently she turned on the pudgy man and gave him a glare. "No."
"Let's get the fuck out of here please!" he begged.
"We need to get rid of her." was the reply.
Nodding silently, Jack hoisted the feet of the corpse while Diane wrestled with the torso and head. They made it down the switchback staircase with a few bangs and scrapes on the corpse. Not that the dead girl minded that is. By the time she had the black garbage bags tied around her, sand coated one of her two staring eyes and a dark spot of blood was beginning to dry in the corner of her mouth. Her straight black hair was matted and spiked with blood and sand to the point where it looked more like a funky hat worn in a Paris fashion show, than a human head of hair.
They drove without speaking along the beach and when needed they cut back to Dune Road heading for the Moriches Inlet. A few houses were still occupied in this area so they kept to the speed limit and tried to look like a couple out for a drive on a crisp December night.
It was a tough sell considering that she was over six feet of muscle, sinew and sex and he was five three, age and height. What hair he had was going grey while her unbraided blond mane streamed behind her like flaxen gold. Where he reminded you of an aging junior high teacher, she was a cross between Farrah Fawcett and the Terminator.
He turned on the radio and fiddled with the channel selector. He found a song he liked and tuned it up.
"Just a little ditty 'bout J....", the radio blared out as they splashed through a puddle. Realizing what was playing on the radio she snapped it off muttering, "I always hated that song."
They kept going down the road, past the houses, most of them as gaunt and lifeless as the passenger they had in the back seat. Every here and there lights stabbed out into the night as motion detectors went off, or a yearly resident put the cat out for the night. Moving slowly now, not wanting to attract attention they entered the area known as Cupsogue Park. Cupsogue was three and a half miles of nothing. Marsh on the bay side of the island and nothing but dunes on the other. Dune Road ran straight through it to the inlet.
The tide was rolling in though. They began hitting more and more puddles as the tide claimed portions of the road. Already there was only a narrow strip in the center of the convex rounded pavement that was dry. They began to slow as Diane was forced to avoid the deeper potholes in the poorly maintained road.
In some places the road seemed to disappear as Diane gunned it through the shallows. The marsh was reclaiming its own. Humans had the supreme hubris to think they could control the shifting dunes and living marshes of the barrier beach. Every six hours the tide fought with the land for dominance. Moving silt here, pulling sand away there. Changing, ever changing landscape. What was a bit of gravel and tar compared to that? The road was losing over time. At one point a few years ago, a massive winter storm had broken though a new inlet from the ocean to the bay. It had bisected the barrier island at Cupsogue and the Army Corps of Engineers had scrambled for two years to fill in the breach. Human efforts notwithstanding, the water seemed to be winning again.
Finally, the Jeep came to rest in a muckhole it couldn't get out of. The tar and gravel road seemed to be nowhere beneath the wheels. All four tires spun and the vehicle swayed drunkenly from side to side but had no traction anywhere. All four wheels were in the muck up to the axles. In the end, when the motor got wet, it quit and just hunkered in the mud like a metal turtle sunning itself beneath the full moon.
Opening the door let a rush of cold water into the Jeep and all over their shoes. Cursing at the luck, the water, the marsh and God himself, Diane stepped out of the Jeep up to her waist into the freezing water of the Moriches Bay.
She grabbed the corpse from the back and flung it over one shoulder like a lumberjack shouldering a log. She began trudging towards the nearest dry land which was a dune about three hundred yards from where they stood. Shuddering with cold, Jack followed and tried to help her with her load, but she growled a negative and kept walking.
The sharp points of the scrub brush that bracketed the road tore at them as they made their way. Sinking sometimes to their waists in the muck, they helped each other along until they were clear of the road completely. The walking was easier here. Water covered the marsh, but except for the occasional drainage ditch, they were walking on a soft carpet of marsh grass. The mud was only at the road. By the time the body was laid on the clean sand of the dune, all three of them were covered with brown green mud. Two of them were shivering, one didn't care.
Jack broke the silence, "I'm f-freezing."
"We've got to get out of these clothes and into something warm, or frostbite'll get us." Diane replied.
"Can't we just tie some rocks to her and dump her in the water, or bury her in the sand here?" he asked, "Then we can go home."
"No, our instructions were to bring her to the inlet and leave her on the jetty."
"Why the hell didn't you check the tides?" he complained as he blew warm air into his hands and rubbed them to get some feeling back.
"Last time I was here, the road wasn't covered, even at high tide. Besides, what do I look like, your fucking secretary, why didn't you check them?"
"Forget it, I gotta get warm or I'm gonna die here." he replied.
A marsh hawk floated gently past them on soft wings, searching for dinner along the dunes and the small strip of grassland that separated them from the marsh. She stooped on an unsuspecting field mouse who had been scampering towards the refugees from the Jeep. At the last minute, she pulled up and flew away as a horde of field mice erupted from the underbrush. Like lemmings they drove towards the arguing pair and their victim. In the thousands, they converged from all over the island, the majority from the direction in which the Jeep had come.
Diane gave a scream as the first of their pursuers ran over her outstretched leg. As tough as she was, Diane hated rodents. She kicked it away and it vanished in the darkness only to be replaced by a dozen or more as the rodents began to stream in from all sides. She scrambled to her feet screaming and cursing. Jack climbed up the dune a ways to get out of their path.
The mice paid no attention at all to the terrified murderers. Instead they converged on the body. They ate away at the flesh of the corpse until bone showed through. A squirming mass of fur rode the dead woman as she was being eaten. Then, as abruptly as they came, the mice scattered and melted back into the darkness, suddenly gone.
The aquiline nose of the woman had been nibbled to shreds as well as one of her ears. The sand coated eye still gleamed in the silvery light but the other was gone. A slight ooze of optic fluid and blood seeped down the high cheekbones towards a chin that was marked with myriad cuts and abrasions. The woman's natural caramel color had faded into a pasty white as the blood drained from her in slow drops. Her clothing bore tiny tooth marks all over it, but the worst damage was to the bare skin of her arms and hands. White bone shone in the moonlight amidst a pool of black blood and shredded flesh. Grisly pieces of skin and muscle still clung in sections, but from the elbow down, most of the arms were nothing but skeletal remains. The wire that had been used to tie the hands now hung loosely around wrists that were bereft of their softer parts.
Jack bent over retching and holding his head while Diane simply stared at the horrible sight. It suddenly made what they had done seem nice in comparison.
"What the fuck kind of supernatural shit is going on here?" she whispered to herself as she shivered again, but not from the cold this time. Hearing a step behind her, she whirled to see Jack sprinting away at a fast limp, hugging his frostbitten hands into his armpits.
She hesitated for just a few seconds, glancing once more at the corpse before chasing after him on cold deadened feet with her own hands shoved deep into her coat pockets.
End of Chapter 1
Running a hand through raven hair that fell down around her eyes in the breeze, Melanie paused to catch her breath. The waves lapped gently at the shore and a gull drifted lazily over the water.
Sunlight streamed in rays through a fluffy layer of clouds. The hand of God stretching from the heavens to lay a benign blessing upon the scene.
Smiling to herself, Melanie renewed her light jog down the beach. Tendrils of white drifted from her lungs as the cold air met with her warm breath. Other than a lone fisherman she had passed about a half hour ago, there was no one on the beach. It was hers for the morning. The late November chill had seen to it that the last summer stragglers had gone home to their warm Manhattan town houses. From the other side of the island she heard the occasional volley of gunfire from waterfowlers on the marsh. It was the only break in an otherwise peaceful setting.
She would have left by now as well if she had somewhere else to go. Her job at The Dollhouse was gone and with no money to pay her landlord she had had to move out of her apartment. Thank God for John, she thought.
He had offered to let her stay in his place her at the beach as long as she needed to. "Get yourself together and decide what you want to do." he had said. That was it, no strings attached, no come-ons or innuendoes about paying him back later. That was John for you, a real nice guy.
She picked up the pace a little as the breeze shifted and sent a shiver of cold under her windbreaker and up her spine. Her muscular legs responded with their usual grace and sent her sprinting towards the house that was just coming into view around a bend in the dunes.
Running was her way of sorting things out. Not only did it give her time to think, but it kept her in shape as well. Unfortunately, as nice as it was to have a nice shape, sometimes it could also be a pain in the ass. That was what had gotten her into trouble in the first place.
A female bartender in a strip club usually gets hit on and asked if she is going to go up on stage. It is expected from the customers. It is suggested by the managers but not mandatory. She had the sense to stay out of that end of the business and kept her "end" in her jeans. The pay was crap but the tips were good. As with all bartenders she had another interest outside of work. She had been accepted to Baruch College for this fall and was thinking of going out for computer science as a major.
Of all the regulars that hit on her and offered her drinks the only one she was attracted to was John. Of course the management frowned on any fraternization with the customers that didn't make them any money so there was no way to act on her feelings. It was especially difficult since he was married and totally devoted to his wife.
Though it sounded strange, he told her that he frequented the Dollhouse once a week to remind himself of how lucky he was that he had someone who loved him. Unlike others whose dissatisfaction with their partners, or lack thereof, sent them into the topless bars of the city looking for titillation, he was there to reaffirm to himself that "...here but for the grace of God go I."
When she first heard that she thought he was a nutcase. A nice old nutcase, but crazy nonetheless. As she talked with him however, she realized that he was talking to her as a human being and not as a potential date, or a piece of meat. His eyes bored into hers as he made his points in their many conversations and didn't wander to the stage or the occasional slinky waitress. He never offered to buy her a drink and the only tips he ever gave was in the form of advice, but she found that she was drawn to him as she had never been drawn to anyone before.
"Crazy," she thought to herself.
She couldn't believe that she had fallen for a married man who was twenty years her senior. What was worse, he didn't have any interest in her outside of friendship.
The house loomed up out of the sand to her left. A huge eyesore of postmodern architecture it was all angles and lines. The weathered wooden siding gave its artsy facade the illusion of being ramshackle and old. Built in the early seventies when the barrier beaches were counted as prime real estate rather than ecological areas, the house had withstood decades of brutal summer sun and even more brutal winter storms. Originally nestled between two dunes in far from the threatening surf, wind and wave action had changed the landscape to the point where the house was a mere two hundred yards from the water. The dunes sat well behind the house now, partially covering the tarmac of the driveway. The pilings it was built upon to keep it off the shifting sand looked like the hundred legs of a centipede about to bear its body away. The steep staircase was broken by a landing halfway up and it was here that Melanie paused once more.
Despite the chill, sweat was breaking out on her forehead. She wiped it away and thought again how lucky she was to have friend like John even if he didn't return her feelings. Turning once more to regard the beach as if in farewell, she raced the last steps to the door and let herself inside.
The decor was austere but functional. Not a lot of effort had been made to match the furniture or the few paintings that hung on the walls. It was an eclectic mix of colonial sofas and chairs, ancient marble tables, and glass and steel bookshelves.
Tossing her shoes in a corner near the door Melanie dropped herself heavily on the couch. A newspaper lay on the coffee table, but she didn't want to open it and read all of the terrible news of the world and the even more terrible prospect of coming across the classifieds. Having to be reminded she didn't have a job wasn't something she wanted to think about right now.
With the mere sight of the paper thoughts of her old job swam through her head. The Dollhouse advertised in the back of this paper near the sports pages as "an upscale gentlemen's club".
"Upscale my ass", she muttered as she opened the paper to browse. If it wasn't for the low class assholes that frequented the club, she'd still be working there. Two of them had tried to grab her ass from over the bar. Avoiding them turned out to be pretty easy considering that she did this for a living. Unfortunately, John took that minute to come to her defense.
He had tapped the larger one on the shoulder and asked him to leave her alone. The man looked at John with the belligerence only beer can produce and promptly started beating the hell out of him. His friend held John by the arms while the first one threw punch after punch at the older man. Screaming for the bouncers Melanie leaped over the bar and smashed a beer bottle over the head of the one hitting her friend. He went down hard but his friend caught her a wallop on the side of her head that sent her reeling.
The next thing she knew, John and the two creeps had been thrown out of the club. Worried about her erstwhile protector, she went out after them into the street. Her boss Nick had tried to hold her back, but she shouldered him aside. He ordered her back to the bar and she had told him to shove it.
The second page screamed a headline that caught her eye. "Five Dead in Grisly Murders" with the accompanying photos of several badly mutilated bodies only partially covered by sheets. Leave it to the News to be graphic. Skipping down to the article on page three she saw that the police said that the corpses were in various stages of decomposition and that it looked to be the work of a new serial killer, or cannibalistic mass murderer since the bodies had been partially eaten. Anyone with any information was instructed to call the anonymous tip line.
Sadomasochistic murderers, death, mayhem and destruction. What was this world coming to, she thought.
The phone rang. John's voice on the other end of the line was a welcome diversion from the news.
"What's up Mel? How's the arm?" he asked, referring to the arm that bad guy number two had broken that night out in the alley.
"All right I guess. It only hurts now when it rains ya know." she replied lightly as she flexed the limb in question.
"More importantly, how's the job hunt? I've got to close down the house soon. If I don't the pipes will freeze. There isn't any heat or insulation you know."
"Yeah, I know. It's been getting colder every day and that little electric heater just ain't cutting it."
"Well, any offers?" he asked again.
"I've got an interview tommorrow with SUNY Stony Brook for a clerical position and if all else fails there's always waitressing or bartending again." she replied.
"OK, well I was just checking up on you. I know it must get lonely out there after the season ends."