Martin Weir shut his eyes and grabbed at the shards of glass that had dug themselves into his skin. After a few moments of clawing at glass that wasn’t there, he found that his heart had settled down to a normal pace and that the knots in his stomach had untied themselves. He looked out the windshield to see if the little girl in the yellow and pink pajamas was still standing in front of his car. When he saw that she was gone, Martin rested his head against the driver’s side window. He wondered for a moment if she was ever really there at all.
Must be nerves, he figured.
The sound made Martin’s entire body jump. He jerked his head to the left and saw Jeff Redding, the only other person who worked with him in the Humanoid Sub-Creature Pacification Unit, flashing a big toothy grin through the driver side window. Jeff knocked on the window again and motioned for his boss to roll down the window. Martin obliged and tried to smile. The rain was coming down hard again.
“Morning, or evening?” Jeff replied, as the rain streamed down his face. As usual, he had forgotten his umbrella. “You get any sleep lately? You look like hell.”
“I feel like hell,” Martin replied, “but that’s pretty much par for the course. What are you doing here? I thought you were working another sighting.”
“I was,” Jeff said, wiping the rain out of his eyes. “Stupid Norsehoof was seen down by the boardwalk.” He had raised his voice so Martin could hear him over the rain, which had started to pour down even harder, thundering off the roof of the car. “Thing must have been starving,” Jeff continued, “it was ripping through dumpsters and screaming its damned-fool head off. Wasn’t too hard to find.”
“You put it down?” asked Martin.
Jeff nodded. “For good. The lab says they know everything they need to about those ugly sons of bitches.”
“Good stuff,” Martin responded as he used his right hand to search for a pack of cigarettes in his glove box. The same hand slammed it shut when it didn’t find any. “So what brings you out in the middle of this piss storm?” he asked Jeff.
Jeff smiled as he continued to wipe the rain off of his face. “I got some more details on the HSC we got in there. I got a call that they couldn’t get through to you on your radio. Also, I like seeing your pretty face.”
Martin couldn’t help but chuckle. “Yeah, this stupid thing hasn’t been working right since the last time I punched it.”
“The radio or your face?” Jeff asked Martin with a smile.
Even though Martin spent most of his time thinking of ways to kill himself so he could be rid of his horrid life, he couldn’t help but laugh at the question. He was really going to miss Jeff.
“So what am I going to have to deal with tonight?” Martin asked with genuine interest, as he hoped whatever it was would be able to help him reach his goal of never going home again. Jeff handed him a file. It was so wet from the rain that it almost fell apart in Martin’s hands.
“It’s your favourite,” Jeff said, sarcasm dripping from every word.
Martin opened the file, carefully pulling the pages apart to make sure they didn’t rip. “Christ,” he said, “a goddamn Weregorilla.” Martin had dealt with a lot of Weregorillas over the years. He tried to remember what their technical name was, but it didn’t come to him. Weregorilla was just something that someone in the office thought up at some point. He was pretty sure that person was killed on the job. Martin thought that guy was a lucky bastard.
On average, Weregorrilas were about eight feet tall, and about half as wide. With brownish-grey leathery skin, tufts of scraggily hair coming out in no discernible pattern, and yellowed nine-inch nails protruding from their boney, varicose vein-riddled paws, they looked like something straight out of a nightmare. But the worst part, Martin thought, was their faces. He could deal with their sunken eyes, their huge foreheads and their snouts that looked like they had been bashed in by a baseball bat. What he couldn’t deal with was their green, ragged teeth, and the waterfall of drool that poured out of their mouths. Just the thought of their disgusting, putrid mugs made Martin want to gag. While Martin’s mind wandered, he didn’t notice Jeff get in the passenger seat.
“Christ, is it ever pissing out there,” Jeff said. Martin nodded as Jeff began listing off the things that his boss should remember to watch for when searching for the creature. Things like where they like to nest, and how they like to attack. Martin already knew everything he needed to know about these monsters, so he didn’t pay much mind to what Jeff was saying. Weregorillas liked to play with their prey, like a dog that catches a rabbit. It’ll kill the rabbit, but not without tossing it up in the air a few times first.
Martin briefly thought about putting things off for another night, for a time when his Jack Kevorkian wouldn’t be slightly more unstable than Leatherface from the Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but that moment passed quickly.
No, Martin thought, this thing will definitely be up to the job. It’ll have the courage to do what I don’t. In this world, beggars can’t be choosers.
“Hey, Martin?” Jeff’s voice pierced Martin’s thoughts. Martin wasn’t sure how long Jeff had been saying his name.
“Yes?” Martin replied, trying to sound as though he had been paying attention the entire time.
“Are you feeling okay?” Jeff asked. “You don’t look so good. I mean, you never look good, but you look especially bad tonight. You want me to take care of-”
“No,” Martin interrupted, “I’ve got this.”
“Alright then,” Jeff nodded and pointed towards an entrance to a building across the street. “So I think we should head in over there by the trash bins, and-”
“No!” Martin interrupted again. “I said I’ve got this.”
“I don’t know, Martin. I mean, I know you can handle these things by yourself, but…”
“It’s okay, Jeff,” Martin said as calmly as he could. He found Jeff to be a bit of a worrier, so he was used to trying to alleviate his colleague’s concerns. He put his hand on Jeff’s shoulder as he continued, “you already had to deal with one freak tonight. Let me take care of this one. Go ahead and go home.”
“You sure?” Jeff asked.
Martin nodded. “Definitely. Everything’s going to be fine.”
Jeff had a look of concern on his face, but he forced a quick smile and opened the passenger door. He slid out and jogged quickly to his car, which was parked a few yards behind Martin’s. Martin watched through his review mirror as Jeff got into his vehicle, and pulled out into the street.
When Jeff was gone, Martin took the picture of his family off the dashboard to study again. He took one last look at his wife and his kids, memorizing every detail of their smiling faces. When he finished, he wrapped the photo in the letter to his son and wedged them both between the sun blocker and the roof of his car.
Someone will find them there, he thought hopefully.
Martin let out a loud cough and opened the car door. The rain was coming down even harder than when Jeff was there. Martin could barely see three feet in front of himself. He walked around to the trunk, keeping his left hand on the car to guide him. He felt the water rush over his fingers, like they were pebbles in a brook. When he reached the trunk, Martin slid the key in and turned it until he could feel it unlock. He opened the lid and started moving his empty liquor bottles around until he found what he was looking for.
Martin picked up the brown leather case and unsheathed his weapon. He studied the blade of his twelve inch Bowie knife starting at its tip, and continued down to its walnut handle. Over time, the varnish had worn off and the wood had become stained with the blood of countless freaks of nature. He wasn’t sure how many times this weapon had saved his life. His wife had bought him the knife when he first got the job in the HSCPU. Martin thought about when she had given it to him. She had said that every good hunter should have a good knife. He had no intention of using it that night, but the thought of having something his wife had given him made him feel better.
Martin sheathed his blade and attached it to his belt. He then reached down and picked up his flashlight and tucked it into his left jacket pocket. After a quick search for smokes failed, he cursed himself for not stopping beforehand to pick up a pack and slammed the trunk closed.
Martin hurried across the street towards the entranceway that Jeff had suggested. When he was part way there, Martin realized that he was walking with a sense of purpose for the first time in a long while. It almost made him feel good. Almost.
Martin tried to open the door, but it was locked. Martin chuckled to himself. It couldn’t be easy, could it, he thought. Martin had picked more than his share of locks, but he left his kit back in the car. He debated trying to kick the door in, but he really didn’t want a broken foot to slow him down once he got into the building. He wanted to get this done as quickly as possible.
Martin started to head back to his vehicle when the heavy rain suddenly stopped. But he realized very quickly that it hadn’t really stopped. It had just stopped making sound.
Martin found himself standing in silence. He could see the rain pounding the black wet pavement, and he could see it bouncing violently off of the roof of his car, but not a single sound was making it to his ears. He stood in the middle of the street for a few moments, looking around, wondering what was happening. The silence was soon interrupted by a faint whisper that seemed to rise up from the ground. At first it seemed to be coming from in front of him, but soon moved in behind. Martin turned around to try and hear it better, but the whisper kept moving all around him. Martin couldn’t make it out, but whatever it was he could sense a tremble in its tone. The sick feeling Martin had earlier crawled back into his gut. The whisper got louder and Martin could finally start to make some of it out.
“…aa baa black sheep, have you any wool?”
Martin listened while trying to keep the contents of his stomach down.
“…yes sir, yes sir, three bags full…”
The voice got louder and louder, as it whirled around him.
“…one for my master, one for my dame…”
Martin wheeled around, trying to find the source of the sound. It was becoming harder and harder to keep the bile from rising into his throat.
“…and one for the little boy who lives down the lane…”
“Who are you?” Martin tried calling to the voice, the taste of vomit covering his mouth.
“…baa baa black sheep, have you any wool?”
Martin found himself completely enveloped by the voice’s fear. He tried to speak to it again, retching between every word. “What… do… you… want?”
“…yes sir, yes sir, three bags full…”
Martin’s insides felt like they were going to explode. He sucked in a gulp of air and screamed, “WHERE ARE YOU!?”
The voice dissipated. Martin was about to bolt back to his car and drive home, but paused when the rain stopped. The tension in his chest and stomach melted away. Martin closed his eyes and took a deep breath. When he opened them again he was looking straight at a second story window in the building he was trying to get into. The little girl with the yellow pajama top was there, staring straight back at him. Her lips moved, but Martin heard nothing. He wanted to call to her, but the words wouldn’t come. He wanted to run into the building, but his legs wouldn’t carry him. The girl’s mouth opened wide. After a pause, Martin heard her scream, “HELP ME!”
Her cry pierced Martin’s skull, causing him to fall to his knees. He felt a million needles dig their way into his brain. He gripped his ears so tightly he thought he was going to crush his own skull.
No, not like this, Martin prayed. Please, not like this.
Martin was certain her scream was going to last forever. The needles were going to tear him to shreds. This is how he was going to die. Not heroically. Not in a way that would make his family proud. He was going to die lying in the middle of the street, with tears in his eyes. Alone and afraid.
End of Chapter 2