Danse Macabre: Fifteen – Knife
Alone With The Dead
by Andrea Speed
Fifteen – Knife
Here was a problem that was always a bit of a bitch.
They were so energetic now that there was no way Gryphon could even get near a car, not to mention get in one. The wiring wouldn’t so much melt as totally vaporize, and he’d probably cause the windshield to explode. But he’d been hoping to take Harold back to the river, to where he’d dumped his victims, but it was too far to walk. Was it too far to walk to the store? He didn’t think so.
So he ended up walking the street with the stiff, seething Harold, who wanted to break away but hadn’t a hope in hell. Ruby had a death grip on him – no pun intended – but Gryphon hadn’t totally ceded control of his own body to her. Gryphon wanted a say in this, although he wasn’t completely sure why. For Anna, perhaps. Or maybe just because he wanted the nightmares to stop.
Luckily they were in a neighborhood where somebody walking somewhat zombie like didn’t attract attention, and by the time they reached the block where the closed down store was, no one seemed to be out on the street save for those passed out in shuttered doorways. As they walked across the parking lot, past and through yellow crime scene tape, he asked, “Getting déjà vu, Harry? You left a partial print, you know, as well as bits of victims. You just can’t get rid of all the evidence no matter how hard you try … at least not when you chop your victims up like cows in a slaughterhouse.”
“Who the fuck are you?” he grated through gritted teeth, barely able to talk. His voice was like a far away rumble, a garbage truck with a bad engine on the next block.
Gryphon sighed dramatically. “We’ve been over that. Consider me the agent of all your victims, because I am. And they won’t rest until you’ve joined them. You never did tell me how you thought you were gonna die.”
Harold was silent, deliberately this time, grinding his teeth like he was preparing to bite his throat out. He didn’t believe it, or at least refused to believe that something else was controlling him, and that he was completely fucking doomed. People’s powers of denial was astonishing. They honestly refused to believe this was somehow supernatural and beyond belief, yet very much happening. Gryphon supposed he used to be the same way, before the supernatural barged its way into his life and gave him no choice at all.
They marched across the lot in silence, the sound of sirens and car engines and stereos so distant it was like eavesdropping on another world. They were as grim as a funeral procession, but that was only correct. No, it wasn’t – execution was probably the correct term.
They didn’t have to, but they led him around to the back, even though they could have went in the front. It seemed to speak to symmetry. There was a new padlock on the door, but Ruby snapped it like it was made of balsa wood, and flung the door open, even though it was so warped in the frame it scraped on the floor with a noise so loud it was almost a screech.
But if they didn’t hear gunshots and bone saws out here, no one was going to hear that either.
Once inside the dark, empty store, it seemed wrong somehow. The forensic teams had cleared out a lot of stuff and moved other things around, and now there was a strange chemical scent lost amongst the old blood, the dust, and the mouse shit. Was that lumisol, the stuff they sprayed for bloodstains? Probably. Might have been something else too.
They weren’t alone, although Harold probably didn’t know that. The ghosts of his victims were all waiting here, fanned around him like they’d capture him if he tried to escape. Conspicuously missing was confused Rita, and Anna remained standing off to one side, as if still refusing to join the group she was tragically apart of anyways.
“So do you want to tell me what your major malfunction is?” Gryphon wondered. “What made you such a monster? Was it a bugfuck ultra-religious mother, like Ted Bundy? Or did you have a normal upbringing with two parents who never seemed to notice you were bringing strangers home and burying them in the backyard, like Jeffrey Dahmer? Please tell me you have a new story – you were abducted by circus people and fired out of a cannon against your will for the first ten years of your life? You saw your mother eaten by crocodiles? You’re your own Uncle? Give me something here.”
Ruby eased up her control on Harold, only so he could talk, not move. But he was still glaring at him hatefully, and seemed like he was trying to make his head go Scanners and explode. Sadly for Harold, only Gryphon’s passengers seemed to have that kind of power. “You don’t scare me.”
“Which proves you’re a moron. As well as impotent. Actually I was wondering about that, since you have kids. Did you fantasize about killing someone while having sex with your wife? ‘Cause you guys usually can’t get it up unless you’re hurting someone else -”
That did it; Gryphon and Ruby knew attacking his ability to get it up would get under his skin. It was true, though, that most serial killers were impotent, and couldn’t get a hard on unless they were hurting or dominating someone. It was a sensitive issue for these guys. “Don’t you talk to me like that! You don’t know me!”
“I do. I know all about you and all other men like you. I’ve stood with you in dark rooms one thousand times, you have killed me one thousand times, and only the faces and the weapons change. Most serials use intimate weapons – knives, bare hands, ropes – as a continuation of the sexual nature of their crimes. Death is the only true intimacy they experience with another person, because they can’t feel much of anything otherwise. But you use a gun, which tells me a couple of things about you. It’s phallic of course – that’s a given – and suggests you feel impotent in your daily life too. Constrained. You’re a powerful man, or at least you feel you should be, and you want everyone to know it. You’re no pussy, you’re no fag, you’re no peon – you’re a man, goddamn it, and you prove it by putting a gun to a woman’s head while she’s giving you a blow job and pulling the trigger. Damn, you’re such a man you‘re just oozing testosterone. Precisely who are you trying to convince?”
He was so angry, Gryphon expected to see cartoon fume lines coming off the top of his head. His face was berry red, and veins were throbbing in both temples. He looked like a boil about to burst. “Fuck you!”
“Is your wife a shrew? Was your mother? Why do you hate women so much?”
“I take out the trash!” he spat back. “They were parasites on society! I did the world a fucking favor!”
“Oh, you’re an altruist! I’m sorry I didn’t recognize that. You must be the next Mother Theresa.”
“I don’t give a shit what a fucking freak like you thinks. I know I’m right.”
“Of course you do. Much like crazy people never think they are, desperately wrong people never think they’re wrong. It’s like deliberate self-blindness.”
“You’re dead, freak,” he snarled, spittle flying from his bloody lips.
Gryphon gave him an icy smile so devoid of warmth it seemed to suck the air straight out of the room. “You first.”
Let me take over, kid, Ruby insisted.
“No, he’s mine,” Gryphon told her.
Confusion frosted the rage in his eyes. “Who the fuck are you talking to?”
“The dead. Keep up, Harry – we’ve been over this already.”
He shrugged. “At least I’m not quite as batshit as you. But then again, who is?”
Make this fucker suffer, Sheila, still spokeswoman for the river victims, said.
Gryphon scrubbed a hand through his hair, wondering if they’d understand why he had to do what he had to do. Maybe he’d just get the explaining out of the way first. “Harry, I’m sure you’re a narcissist, like just about every other serial on record. They can’t love anything but themselves, because you’re perfect. Hell, you’re god, aren’t you? What I’m gonna do is make you act Human for once in your fucking miserable life. You’re gonna do the decent thing and kill yourself.”
Harold glared at him under lowered brows, his eyes as hot as lava. “What?”
Gryphon sighed, as Ruby had said the same thing inside his own head. Hugh, for his part, chuckled, apparently enjoying the show. “You said you take out the trash, Harry. You’re the biggest piece of trash I’ve ever met. Time to do your job, Jesus of Sunshine Realty. Take you out.”
Harold snorted disdainfully. “Now who’s the moron?”
“Oh, you’re doing it.” To make that point, he asked, “Ruby, would you do me a favor and take his legs out? I want him kneeling.”
Although the crackling electricity in the air let him know she was currently pissed off at him, she did as he asked, and just as Harold opened his mouth to accuse him of being crazy again, his legs buckled and he fell heavily to his knees with a painful thud. But Harold was too shocked to complain. “This isn’t for you, Harry. You’re a piece of shit who should be drawn and quartered and then minced while still alive. But while you were pretending to be Human, you somehow acquired a wife and kids, and you’re going to spare them the agony of a trial, of newscasters who ask her how she could not know what a fucking monster you are, or your kids getting picked on at school and people audibly wondering if your illness has been passed on to them, if they’re gonna be a psycho prick like you in ten years. I think you’ve had enough victims over the years; no need to add to the list.”
Now something like fear started to creep into his eyes. “You wouldn’t dare.”
“I would. In fact, I have, several times. Haven’t you listened to a damn thing I’ve said? You’re neither my first or my last. This must be doubly horrible for you; you’ve just learned you’re nothing special after all. Since you were out hunting, you’re probably carrying your gun, aren’t you? Ruby, do you know where it is?”
“Who the fuck is -” he began, but stopped as the gun he’d been hiding beneath his shirt suddenly floated up into the air in front of him, the barrel aiming straight at his face. It looked like he wanted to lunge for it, but of course he couldn’t, as he was totally paralyzed. All he could do was stare down the barrel of his own .38 and wonder how the fuck things had come to this.
“Would you put the gun in your mouth,” Gryphon wondered. “Or under your chin?”
His mouth opened soundlessly, and then closed with a dry click. He swallowed hard, and tried again. “No one will believe I committed suicide.”
“Yes they will. The police are closing in on you. Your crimes are about to be splashed all over the internet in lurid detail; you’re jail bound and we all know it. And while it would be fun to see how long you could last in Oz amongst men who may be related to the women you killed – oh boy, wouldn’t that be fun? – I just don’t have the patience for that. Nobody wants to see your smug face on the nightly news, least of all me. Center of the forehead? A clumsy shot, but that mimics the placement of some of the bullet wounds in your victims. Perfect.”
The gun shifted slightly, moving up so the barrel was at the same level as his big, broad forehead. Harold’s eyes followed it with an almost incomprehensible blankness. He still had shark eyes, but the empty rage had been subsumed by a sort of cautious fear. He was finally beginning to grok that he was fucked. “You won’t get away with this.”
“Yes, I will. I always have.” He crouched down, so Harold didn’t have to look past the gun to look at him. “If you believe in reincarnation, hope that you come back a Human next time. If you believe in heaven and hell, pack some sunscreen. And if you believe in nothing at all, good, because you won’t be disappointed. Oh, and just for the record, you’re an incredible pussy, and you’ll always be remembered as such. Do it, Ruby.”
She pulled the trigger, and the sharp, loud blast seemed to fill the entirety of the empty store as the bullet slammed into his forehead and blew out the back of his head in a small fountain of crimson gore as his body jerked back and hit the floor, legs still bent under him at an awkward angle. It would have been painful if he’d still been alive.
I was kinda hopin’ for somethin’ more brutal, Sheila said.
“I’m sure the rats will gnaw at him a bit before the cops find him,” he told her, as Ruby let the gun drop to the floor. “Maybe they’ll take off something important.”
Well, formerly important. When you were a corpse, your body ceased to be important. Which was a good thing for Harold, because considering the condition of his skull, he was never going to look presentable again.
Did brains come out of concrete? Man, he was so glad he wasn’t part of the cleaning crew.