The old thing had gone from a geriatric demon to a wrinkled puddle of sobbing sadness in mere moments. But that didn’t stop me from keeping my distance, and pushing her motor-powered death-chair far out of her reach. For, when I could see them, desperately trying to hide beneath her wild shrubbery of grey hair, her eyes still glowed a bit from her last killing charge.
“What happened to you? Did you get left down here after the rest of your little family of freaks went belly-up…or would that be ‘belly-in,’ given what happened to them?” My desire to test her emotions was ruthless, fueled by the mangled flesh of my leg and the thought of trying to walk over a mile back to my car.
“Yer a mouthy little twat, ain’t ya? Feels good to have the upper hand, huh? But the real question is—what ya gonna do with me, now that ya got me?” she said, with a bit too much composure for my liking. The woman was a cunning monster, and I knew she’d probably turned more than her fair share of tables. I needed to tone down the vitriol and keep my mind focused on the situation…or else I’d be the next stiff lined up for the ‘Dark Coming,’ or whatever-the-Hell the wackos were waiting for.
“What have you been doing down here, all alone?” I asked, wanting to hide my burning interest in the witch from my dreams, as the old hag seemed to know how to finagle that topic to her rhetorical advantage.
“Eating whatever food I can reach, and crapping myself. You?” She quickly shot back, as she could tell, no doubt, that I was trying to change gears for some reason. She wanted to keep my mind busy, distracted. I took another step back, and fired the beam from my flashlight deep into her plotting little eyes. The light glinted off of something metallic: she was sheltering a blade in her left hand, trying to keep it tight to her body, away from the light.
“Lose the knife. Now,” I sternly commanded. She reluctantly tossed the knife into the darkness and proceeded to throw a fit.
“You rotten B#@CH! I hope she hollows you out and fills you with stinking, fucking bugs! You think you got ol’ Grammy Rose, do ya!? You just wait! Just you wait, you filthy cow! I’ll get ya, I will! Or...she will, heh heh. She’s really what you came a-lookin’ for, ain’t it, sweetheart?” I supposed there was no clever way of getting my information without tipping my obsession. Obsession. That’s exactly what it was. At least at that point.
“I told you, she’s dead. I’m just trying to figure out what horrible things she had her nasty hands into, before her and her bunch got themselves seriously croaked. So, what do you know about her? And don’t give me anymore of that, ‘she’s evil incarnate’ shit. I want a straight answer. Or I’ll leave you here.”
“How’d she die, pray tell?” The old woman asked, her eyes pushing back against the beam of the flashlight.
“From what I understand, someone tore out her heart. Happy?” I said, with a little bit of added snark.
“Now, there’s an organ she could certainly live without. What about the others?” she said, narrowing her eyes, as if the next words I spoke would provide her with something key.
“That, I couldn’t find out. I guess the FBI took over the crime scene pretty quickly. My source only managed to sneak out with the tidbit about the woman. All I know is that there was the woman’s corpse and three other bodies. Who were the others?” I put aside my acidic attitude in favor of generating a cleaner stream of exchange, between myself and the old monster.
“Heh, there was four others, besides her, I mean. Looks like one’s still out there, maybe. Wonder which one…” Her expression went slack as she pondered her own question. My next question was burning a hole in my throat.
“What were their names?” A name would make the witch human, stealing her from the darkness from which she stared at me, waiting for something.
“They didn’t use their real names, just called one another by their blood. But they all called that demon of a woman, ‘Mother.’ Even the gigantic one, the one the other three called ‘Father,’ called her ‘Mother.’ Although, tweren’t no real blood betwixt ‘em. None I could see, least ways.” Her mind was sinking into a sea of dark memories—each one fat with terrible things. She even seemed to flinch at one point, just before stabbing her eyes past the light and directly into my fear.
“You got it all wrong, missy. She’s not likely ta been killed. She ain’t human, I tell ya.” The woman was beginning to look frightened.
“Why do you keep insisting on that shit? She’s dead. No heart means no life. Get it? And why are you getting so scared, all of a sudden?” I was getting irritated by the ancient killer’s strange manner. In truth, her fear was pouring over me. I needed to scrub it off with some good, clean common sense. “Listen, unless being a heartless corpse, that was bagged and tagged, was on her itinerary, I’m thinking she died just fine."
“You got no idea what that woman can do…I saw her…I saw her…raise the fucking dead! Right in front of us all. The dog. she brought it back, filled it with demons. Turned it loose. I kin still hear the damn thing scraping around down here in the darkness, sniffin’ and smackin’ its lips.”
“Sorry, but I’m not buying that voodoo crap, sister. She may have been a pretty clever con artist-magician, pulling magic tricks out of her a$$ to scare the local rubes, but that s%$t doesn’t cut it with me. Not even close.” My dreams, however, agreed with every single word that was coming out of the shriveled murderer’s mouth. “Now, stop stalling and let’s get down to it. What did she want from your fucked up family?” The last surviving member of the Bowers monster-making clan finally bowed her head and rattled off her secret.
“She couldn’t have cared less about the rest of us. She only wanted Charlie. She said that his dreams drew her, and that he might have a place within her ‘family.’ She knew about the darkness, too. Far better even than we did, I’ll tell ya. Knew it was coming soon. But it was Charlie that brought her and her “family” to us. We were furious at him for bringing ‘em, but the lot of them scared the shit out of us. So we just let ‘em do as they pleased. Most of ‘em didn’t seem to care at all for what we were doin’, especially the twin girls and that gigantic thing. They were too in love with killing and death. My eyes ain’t what they used to be, but I ain’t blind. An’ that ‘mother’ of theirs was far, far beyond us. She knew that, next to her, we were just amateurs. But the other big’un, he seemed fascinated with us. Even spoke to us on occasion, somethin’ the others never did. I remember once him sayin’ that we was “artists of the benighted fields, fashioning nightmares from the fallen straw of lost dreams, dreams that man had foolishly let fall to the dead earth.” His eyes were different from the rest of ‘em, too. They was filled with a darkness I ain’t never see’d before. Most lonely, lovely eyes I’d ever looked inta in all o’ my life. So It was easy to see why he was her favorite of the bunch. Doted on him a lot. Never let him out of her sight, really. And now that I’m talkin’ about ‘em, I remember his name. That bitch called him by name, a few times.
…His name was Donald.”
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