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Lawyer

Lawyer: interrogation of John Cardoni by Detective Jones- Campfire Horror Stories

He had always wondered what it would feel like sitting in one of these chairs. The metal felt cold against his skin, despite the jeans that separated them. It certainly wasn’t a comfortable chair, but he supposed that was the point, why they kept them there for hours without resolve, before even considering questioning. It was part of the tactics, part of the breaking down of the walls, while containing them inside walls of their own.

He thought the handcuffs were a tad unnecessary, and they dug into his skin every time he tried to wriggle his wrists into a more relaxed state. The air was tepid and thick, artificial. It entered the room through a grimy vent at the top of one of the walls. The walls were the color of faded limes, same as the floor, like the color of hospital linoleum. That color made him feel queasy in hospitals and it made him feel queasy here, too.

The vent let out a low hum that intermingled with the higher hum of the fluorescent lights, creating a sort of white-noise harmonic. It wasn’t a pleasant harmonic, however, and he felt like all of these factors were calculated for the very purpose of culminating his discomfort.

There was a clock in the room, on the opposite wall to the vent, but he was unsure whether it told the correct time, or if it was correct in its pacing, either. He figured he had sat there, handcuffed, for multiple hours before the lone door clicked and opened abruptly. His elbows were raw from resting on the hard metal table, and his eyes felt the same from staring at his reflection in the one-way mirror.

“Comfortable, John? I brought you some water,” Detective Jones always had it out for John Cardoni, and that fact was written all over his smug fucking grin. He looked as though he was trying to stifle his laughter.

“I know the score, Brad, you know I ain’t drinkin’ that,” John gestured to the cup with his brow, as Detective Jones sat on the corner of the table after placing it in front of him.

“You know that just makes you look more guilty, right?”

“Save the script, Jones. You know I know what we’ve both done to close cases. You recording this, too, right? Bet that won’t make the final cut,” John stabbed at the air in front of him with his hands, “and get these fuckin’ cuffs off me, will you?”

“You’re a person of interest, John, nay, a prime suspect. Why would I uncuff you? You’re deemed dangerous, even when unarmed. Hell, I’m risking my safety just being this clos- this close to you,” he could barely finish the sentence before letting out a spitting, high-pitched laugh.

John narrowed his eyes and pursed his lips, “you fucking bastard, Jonesie, you always had it out for me,” he said with increasing volume while shaking his head, “you won’t pin this on me, I tell ya. You fuckin’ won’t.”

“We got all we need, Cardoni. This is all theatrics and formalities,” he exclaimed with outstretched arms as he circled the table.

“You ain’t got SHIT!” John stood with a vigor that sent the steel chair into the wall behind him. He was playing his own theatrics, just like he’d witnessed every other time he’d been in this very room. It was like walking a tightrope, walking the fine line between letting the truth slip out (at least, the words that could be construed to appear as a confession), and keeping a guise of innocence.

Detective Jones reached into his jacket and produced a plastic zip-lock evidence bag. It contained a twelve-inch, tactical blade. The blade was black steel with a saw-toothed back, and the hilt and handle were gold-plated, aside from the rubber grip, which was also black. It was a seriously nice blade, and John knew it well.

“Now, you know this blade, John,” Detective Jones placed it on the table and tapped it with his index finger, “you know there are only two.”

“We both got awarded one for the Mackenzie case, yeah,” John’s demeanor weakened. His shoulders dropped, as did his face. He knew where this was headed. “I didn’t kill them, Brad. You know I done some stupid shit in my days, but I didn’t kill your girls.”

“We got prints, John. You’re done.”

“How do I know that ain’t your blade?”

“You sayin’ you can’t account for the whereabouts of your own knife, John?” He put his hand into his jacket again and produced an identical knife, unbagged and in a black leather sheath.

John looked at the faded lime linoleum floor, “lawyer.”

“Ah-ha. Are you serious, John?”

“Lawyer,” he looked up from the floor to lock eyes with Brad, “lawyer.”

“You see, there’s a slight problem with that request; we’re not playing that game, John. Oh, no. That’s not how this plays out. Theatrics and formalities, remember? I wanted you to know what it felt like on that side of the table; what it felt like beneath my interrogation. I wanted to hear you confess. . . CONFESS!” saliva sprayed through his teeth as he slammed a hand on the table.

“Lawyer.”

“I told you, John, it ain’t PLAYIN’ that way.” He turned his back and laughed under his breath. “You still think we’re at the station, don’t you?”

The hairs on John’s nape stood up. His skin began to shudder at the thought.

He had buried his blade after he gutted the prostitutes. Perplexed at how Brad could have possibly known where to look, he watched him open the door just enough to reach an arm out and flick a switch. The room suddenly felt much smaller, and much colder. Nauseating white light filled the expanse of a warehouse on the other side of the mirrored window. “What the fuck is this, Jones?”

“Redemption,” he spoke quietly, as he turned around with an expressionless face, stepped forward and thrust his blade into John’s torso.

John felt Brad’s fist hit his diaphragm, almost lifting him off the ground. He felt winded, he felt his lung deflate. His eyes bulged and his mouth called out in silence. It didn’t feel like getting shot, at all, he hardly felt anything but the punch. He was choking on his own blood and disbelief.

“Say hello to my cheating wife, fuckboy,” Brad whispered into John’s ear before letting go of his back and watching him fall off the blade.

John gurgled to the floor and painted the tired lime linoleum a rich maroon.

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Neptune

neptune empty sky dinner parties

I’ve never felt so alone, as I do on a night of an empty sky. Especially if the night is dead still. Nothing says you are vulnerable and alone like a quiet, still night. No wind in the woods out the back. No mating calls bouncing between the trees. No wildlife, and no sounds of civilization. That’s the downfall of living out in the sticks, isn’t it? On a night of an empty sky, when all is still and lifeless, the sound of the city could be a comfort. Out here, the serenity and solace that comes from isolation changes its face from time to time.

I grew up in this house, and it was far more secluded in my childhood. Then everyone started sub-dividing. It had become the fashionable way to own property. So, of course, my parents went along and sub-divided as well, resulting in this house not being so secluded as it once was, long ago. The nights can still be just as quiet, however. And sometimes, they’re so quiet that you can hear the silence over the laughter and intermingling of friends and family.

The ironic part of this isolated fear I have found myself to have is that I’m not so afraid of being alone, but rather afraid of being not alone. Afraid that none of us may ever be alone. And that we are not alone. Is someone watching us, right now? Are they incessantly observing? Are we really just an equation? 

There was an incident, a somewhat embarrassing one I might add, when I was a child. The night was dead quiet – it was an empty sky. We often had guests over for dinner parties and the such, because we had a large decking looking over the rear of the property to the woods. The woods looked brilliant when they were painted silver in the moonlight. That night, however, they swallowed the light that spilled out from the glass doors that led onto the deck. We had a large, glass dining table on the deck that seated up to twelve people, and a massive grill. With the amenities, it seemed like we were almost obliged to throw all of those dinner parties. I didn’t care for them, really. I mostly kept to myself while the adults swapped stories from work or exaggerated anecdotes about business trips abroad. My brothers would show off their newest toys to the other children before we all sat down to eat the meat and pretended to be a civilized species. I didn’t care much for the meat, either. It always saddened me to think of the potential life it could have lived had we not been eating it. Of course, I was still young, so my perspective was naive.  I didn’t really know where it came from. It still seemed all very silly to me to be having dinner parties in the cold season, but father always insisted.

Father was also a proud owner of a very large telescope. The biggest in our neighborhood, in fact. It always came out on cloudless nights, and that night was no exception. All of the other kids gaped in awe at its magnificence. It was so much longer than any they had at home, but more impressive was its girth. If it were a canister, you could gather all of their telescopes together and store them in it. Pushing and shoving ensued as each child raced to Father’s side begging and grovelling for a chance to see the cosmos through its superior lens. Of course they would, as this was half the reason it came out. The other half was the inevitable “mighty fine piece you’ve got, Harold, good show!”

I had also wanted to see the cosmos through that giant lens, but custom dictated that I let the other kids have a turn first. Father would find a star or a planet, get the lens in focus and hold a child up to the eyepiece. They would squeal in delight at the probably magnificent view. I sighed deeply. My eyes moistened as my lips curled into a frown and my cheeks flared a hot crimson. I knew I probably wouldn’t get to have a go. By the time the other children, and my brothers, had all had their turns it would likely be far passed bedtime and that would be that. I marched inside to continue drawing, as I was before the meal, and took off my coat. Father called out to me just as I had found the right shade of green in my case of colors. “Come! It’s your turn. I found your favorite, Neptune. It’s beautiful, tonight, you really have to see it.”

I was trembling as I pressed up against the eye-piece. I couldn’t see anything. It was very cold outside, and the eye-piece was icier still. My face was trembling more than my body and I was beginning to become frustrated. Raising my eyebrows did not help; nor did widening my eye as much as I could muster. Then, suddenly, I heard a deafening, low-pitched hum. Or did I feel the hum? As I brought my head away from the eye-piece, I noticed all the hairs on my arm were standing on end. Once again, I tried to view Neptune and was met with futility. Something had to be in the way.

It became vividly apparent, as I looked up, why I could not see Neptune while spying through the telescope. Directly in front of our deck, blocking the telescopes line-of-site, was a massive craft. Its hull was a deep green and the windows, of which I counted at least eight, were a burnt yellow. They were emitting a faint glow from inside the craft. The hull looked as though it was spinning, but the windows showed no such signs. Several figures flurried past the windows inside the ship. It must have been the size of our house.

My feet were anchored heavily to the decking. My face was no longer cold. I was weeping sweat from every pore as my core heated to unfathomable heights. I let out a shriek of pain and broke free from my paralyzing fear. Everyone was staring at me, questioning and judging. “What are you staring at?! They’re here, they’re here! They’ll take us all!” I tried to tell them. But no one listened. No one believed me. They all thought I was hysterical. Father told me to go to bed. And just as fast as it had appeared, it was gone again.

I haven’t seen any of them since that night. Not Father, not my brothers, not any of my neighborhood friends or their parents. No one could make sense of it. The newspapers called me Family Killer, but there was no trace of murder. They were there, and then they weren’t. Just like that. No one believed me. They all thought I was hysterical. I still don’t know what happened that night, exactly. I do, however, know where the meat comes from. It’s the only food you can buy in this sector, now. You just have to read the packaging:

Superior prime-cut human calf steak – stair-mastered and tenderized;

John Doe Rack o’ Ribs – finger-lickin’ good, serve with fingers;

Twerkin’ Toni’s Rump – the chewiest bubble-butt-steak you will ever eat!

Even the milk comes from them.  

 

 

 

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They found a boy in the river

boy, pop pop pop, watery fate

Subject#04: The Drowned Boy
Redacted eye-witness statement
Classified
Security Level: Burn after reading

I was driving home from work and had made a stop at the gassy. It had been a long day and so, peckish as I was, I got myself a Big Ben. Should’ve listened to the gospel, though, because I burned my lip as I bit into the damn thing. The mince spewed out of the pastry as I flinched and cursed. It landed on my crotch. The whole scene was a travesty. Always blow on the pie.

I pulled over into the lay-by while this happened. I didn’t have the radio on today, and I remember thinking that was unusual of me as I took note of the way the rain was ratatating on my car. As if the shock of the burn had awakened my senses, I became more aware of my surroundings and could smell the river in the air-con. That’s when I heard it. Pop. Pop pop pop pop. Pop. There were six “pops.” They were faint, but vivid. And very curious. At first, I had thought it was beginning to hail, but that thought was swiftly brushed aside. Hail doesn’t sound like the popping of bubble wrap. The faint popping was distinctly different from a sound of nature. And that realization made my stomach tighten. Or perhaps it was just the hunger.

I set my pie aside on the dash of my car and opened my door. The thundering sound of the rain poured inside, almost muting the ding-ding-ding dashboard alarm flashing a red door symbol to which I paid no attention. Against my best judgement, I stepped outside. Instantly saturated. Even my briefs felt soaked through. A chill ran up my back, but I shook it out with my arms. That’s when I noticed the lights dancing in the trees just over the ridge. I hadn’t seen them from the lower vantage point of my driver’s seat. Alternating red and blue, irritatingly out of sync with the dashboard dinging. A sense of ease washed over me as I moved around my car to the passenger side, where I could no longer hear it. Just the rain, like sizzling bacon, screaming in my ears. My eyes did not falter from the illuminated trees. I was fixated on them. And curiosity got the better of me.

The smell of the river grew ever stronger as I stumbled up the bank, losing my footing in the mud and grasping naively at the ground. It smelled stagnant, like a musty old home left at the mercy of the elements for decades without a visitor. It was almost acrid. I’d finally made it to the top of the ridge, all hot and bothered, and out of breath. Soaked to the bone. My arms jutted outward one last time to avoid toppling right over. I stared into the void. Into the rain-laden air in front of my face; the scene I had sweated up this bank for blurred just beyond.

As my stance relaxed, my eyes focused. There were two cop cars and an ambo pulled off to the side of an access road that led down to the riverside. I had figured as much from the lights I had seen in the trees. But nothing had given clue to what I would witness alongside those vehicles. Like I said, curiosity had gotten the better of me. As it always does. Growing up, Mum would always recite, “Curiosity killed the cat, you know? Don’t be the cat, Michael.” Well, they had found a boy in the river. It was an ugly scene.

They must have pulled in mighty hastily, judging by the skid marks cut into the earth. My guess would have been that the cop car on the right got there first; it seemed somewhat parked intentionally, and the treads in the mud were minimal. The other two vehicles were farther from the gravel. Inches deep ditches carved by their tires. With over a vehicle’s length from the road, it was clear they had continued to move after the wheels had stopped turning. The doors were left ajar, and the seats were saturated. Understandable in an urgent situation, but some time had obviously passed since their arrival. Why hadn’t they closed the doors to save their bottoms a watery fate? Because they were dead, that’s why.

All they know now is a watery fate. Floating through the ether of existence down, down, down to the depths below this plane. To feed them. That’s why they’re gone. To feed them. We should all . . . forgive me, I’m . . .

Their corpses lay at the edge of the river. All of them were shot in the head. The paramedics by the officers, I’d say, and the officers by their own hands. This much was unquestionable. Their firearms, however, were left sullied in mud only a few feet from the vehicles. Peculiar, twisting pathways were drawn in the muddy earth, like tentacles leading to the bodies surrounding the boy. The boy stood, ankle deep, in the river. He almost didn’t look like a boy, but his height would have me guess he was about eight or ten years old. That was, before he died, of course. Once that happens, I suppose you stop ageing, right?

His face was mostly missing. His empty eye sockets stared right at me. Swinging in the breeze, his jaw looked as though it might fall off at any moment. His torso was all puffed up, like the StayPuft Marshmallow Man. His skin was pulled tight – where it wasn’t hanging off him – and translucent. The veins looked like a dark web of tar holding his flesh together. God knows how long he had been drifting in the water, but from where I stood, it sure looked like ol’ Davy Jones had done a number on him. And spat him back out, no less.

He had been sent here, that much is clear to me. Nothing else is. I could still only hear the screaming of the water falling from the, now darkened, heavens. No longer could I feel it hitting my face, nor any part of me. I couldn’t feel my own skin. As I was examining the boy with horror and inquisition, I gasped. Not at the sight of his fingernail-less, gnarled hands, but at the sudden knowledge that I was no longer standing atop the ridge I had scampered up so eagerly however long before. I was standing right in front of him, only a few feet away. How much time had passed? I couldn’t tell you. How had I managed to get down there without falling, slipping, tumbling or noticing? I really cannot say. I have absolutely no recollection of it. And although I could not bear to take my eyes off of the waterlogged boy, had I turned my head over my shoulder, I’d bet my life there would have been a peculiar, twisting pathway drawn in the muddy earth, like a tentacle.

I cannot rationalize it. I felt obliged to the boy. Compelled by him. An overwhelming craving to fulfill his every desire of me replaced any sense of self I had. I remember cackling maniacally, as I knelt in the water. The boy swung his arm at me like a cricket pitcher, striking my shoulder and then over my head and down on my other shoulder. It was as if he was conferring unto me a knighthood from the depths. And then I waded into the river.

I was pulled out of the ocean by a fisherman not two hundred meters from the river’s mouth. He kindly brought me back to land, and I walked right here. That’s all I know about what happened. I am truly sorry about your comrades. But they need to feed. And they are very, very hungry.

Witness eliminated.
Fisherman sought for questioning.