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Author Topic: Belonging to Night Ch1  (Read 3271 times)
Bebbet
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« on: April 02, 2005, 06:16:27 PM »

My debut

A single tear made its way nonchalantly down his cheek, only to be lost in the torrent that fell from above. Maybe it was just the wind, or the bitter cold, or it may even have been grief…but then, that was never exactly prominent in his emotional repertoire. More likely it was what was expected of him. Not that he was known for doing what was expected of him either, especially not for the old man in the casket.

The rain fell heavily on the cemetery, the skies above a mass of thick, grey cloud. He’d had to suppress a grin as he’d greeted the other mourners. The expression had been the same from all of them as they stepped out of their flash cars and into the proverbial mud bath. Not a shoe on the foot of any of them was worth less than $500. The men’s slip-ons refused to stay on foot; the women sank to their ankles in their heels.

The whole gathering huddled beneath a sea of black umbrellas; black, as tradition dictates, being the order of the day. If not for their white shirts, the men wouldn't even have been visible beneath the canopy. Long black raincoats covered expensive black suits. The required inclusion of a black tie made the larger among them look like something out of the Godfather. And no doubt the wider the frame, the richer the man carrying it.

By the same reckoning, the richer the man, the slimmer the wife/mistress/secretary. It was strange to see so many women wearing the same outfit. A funeral must be the only occasion where that particular taboo can be overlooked. Black hats held black veils over pale faces, cheeks reddened by the chill of the winter wind. White blouses were worn with black skirt or trouser suits beneath thick woollen coats. Ugly, garish, but undoubtedly expensive jewellery glittered around black gloves and lapels. If the sun had been around the reflection from a single stud could’ve blinded all present.

It wasn’t really his style. Simple trousers and shirt worn beneath a long black coat, oddly (considering the cloud cover) topped off with a pair of metal-framed sunglasses with small, rectangular lenses.

Gabriel Callaghan III

The numeral on the gravestone sent a shiver down his spine. The old man had always loved it; said it gave him a sense peerage. Unlike his grandfather however, Gabriel Callaghan IV was not one for tradition. To him it was like numbering the next item on a production line.

Renowned Industrialist and Entrepreneur

Renowned? The word raised a smirk. Renowned for what? Thief, larcenist and fraudster certainly. Though nothing was ever proved. Justice is indeed blind (as well as deaf and dumb).
 
Beloved Brother, Grandfather and Uncle

Ha! If he wasn’t where he was he may have said it out loud.

Though not a single person present was fooled. In fact, most of them had had the same opinion of the man. There wasn’t a ‘mourner’ in attendance for whom the term wasn’t a joke.

May he live on in our hearts & in our minds…

Except perhaps his publicist. Gabriel IV was surprised the ass-licking old tramp hadn’t joined Gabriel III in the casket. God knows, she’d ‘joined’ him in his office often enough, he thought.

Still, it was better than his idea of ‘Bye baldy, thanks for the house’. He wasn’t much for heart-felt sentiment.

“...As we commit his body to the ground. Earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust.” As the priest gave the closing words the coffin began its descent, the whir of the winch motor barely audible over the howl of the wind.

Josephine Longdale stepped forward to toss the first handful of dirt into the grave. She was a tall, elegant woman. Her jet-black hair reached down past her waist, the front cut so that it gently encircled her pale, remarkably youthful face. Josephine was the old man’s sister.

Of course, she was dressed all in black. A long black dress hugged her slender body to her waist, below which it billowed ever so slightly all the way down to her ankles. It was a wonder the hem wasn’t streaked with mud. Only a thinly woven wrap seemed to protect her from the bitter wind and rain. If it bothered her she didn’t show it.

Her high-heeled boots seemed to somehow glide over the mud, though no one seemed to notice. Some of the women did however gasp as she knelt straight down in the dirt. She took a fistful of earth from the large mound next to the grave. For a moment she paused, clenching her fist, squeezing the dirt into her nails. She then closed her eyes and threw it onto the coffin below.

No one could quite make out what she said - at least no one outside family.

“Weren’t you going to put that on the headstone?” A small voice by his side derailed Gabriel’s train of thought (not that it was on any particular track).

He looked down straight into the eyes of his cousin, Zara#. She was dressed in a small, black trouser suit that looked tailor-made.

“Something like that,” he said.

“So what happened?”

“Your mother said it wasn’t appropriate,” he replied with a shrug. “I agreed.”

He then turned to a lawyer who’d had the audacity to shush them and said, “Bite me,” with just the slightest hint of a growl. The lawyer turned his attention to the ground like a scolded puppy.

“Decided on the speech you’re going to make?” Zara asked, ignoring the little confrontation.

“Not sure,” Gabriel said as Josephine returned and he stepped forward to make his own contribution. “Probably the same thing I was going to put on the headstone.”

*

December 19th 2003

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…

... And the whole of New York City is daubed in the usual festive regalia. Every building, from the humblest drug store to the tallest skyscraper, is covered in enough tinsel to decorate a national park and sporting more flashing lights than a firefly orgy. The streets are buried beneath two feet of snow. Excited children drag their weary parents through the deep, white blanket in the hope of finding another Santa’s Grotto (just in case the last three forget the Barbie Volkswagen/Turtle Battle Van). Pimps and prostitutes are gleefully counting their Christmas bonuses from their regular clients. Drunks are huddled around burning oil barrels, hastily swigging their ‘seasonal scotch’ (after half a bottle, meths can taste like anything). “The Boys of the NYPD choir are still singing Galway Bay, and the bells are ringing out for Christmas Day”…

... Though frankly singing is the last thing on the mind of Sergeant Sean Powell of New York’s finest.

The day was going well. Last shift before the holiday fewer than a dozen calls to the department all day. He’d even been given the honour of putting the star on top of the tree.

Unfortunately, that particular honour had also gotten him nominated to check out a reported disturbance at 1071 Fifth Avenue. Apparently there was a fight going on. Not unusual for this time of night except for the fact that 1071 Fifth Avenue just happens to be the address of the Guggenheim Museum (everyone’s a critic).

The area was quiet. Aside from a young couple romantically braving the cold, and the occasional bum the streets were empty. 

Powell stopped outside the museum to chat to a street vendor. Apparently, the only reason Larry was out tonight was to escape the wife. After some mutual whining Powell bought himself a coffee, said his goodbyes and sat himself in the driver seat of his squad car parked opposite the museum’s entrance to call in.

“Dispatch, this is car fifty-four. Steph, there’s nothing going on here. Looks like another crank.” Which would be the third one of the night.

“Copy that Sean,” the reply crackled back through the radio. “I’ll see if I can raise the guard. Make one last sweep of the area then come in.”

“Will do,” he said before taking a sip. “But I’m telling you, it’s all quiet.”

And then, with perfect comic timing, a man’s body burst through one of the building’s stone spirals, fell the two stories to the street below and impacted with the pavement. The body then stood up and charged determinedly back into the building leaving behind a deep imprint in the snow and concrete.

“Steph,” Sean’s voice quivered into the radio.

“Yeah Sean?” the reply came back.

“Send backup...” His wide eyes moved from the imprint to the hole from which the man had emerged. There stood another man; pale, still and covered in blood. “... Lots of backup.”

*

The clouds had long parted. Moonlight shone through a huge window. It wasn’t really enough to illuminate the room but then light wasn’t exactly a necessity.

Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata (Adagio Sostenuto) drifted around the Callaghan manor. Zara was sprawled out over the piano like some ‘30s lounge singer while Gabriel played. A glass of scotch sat on the piano. The cigarette hanging from Gabriel’s mouth topped the scene off nicely.

“You realize you’re ignoring your guests?” Zara said lazily.

“They’re fine,” Gabriel said, cigarette flicking up and down with the movement of his lips. “They’re only here for free booze anyway.”

The music room was one of the smallest rooms in the mansion, but it had always been Gabriel’s favourite, not least because his grandfather rarely used it. Aside from the piano it only consisted of two guitars (neither of which had ever been played) and a large stereo system built into a wall. The speakers were nowhere to be seen but were there somewhere.

Josephine glided silently into the room.

“How’s it going down there?” Gabriel asked, not looking up from the ivories he tinkled.

“Half of them are arguing over how much of the house is rightfully theirs, the rest are drunk.” Josephine’s voice seemed to slither through the music sound embracing sound.

“Told you so,” Gabriel said, raising an eye to Zara. She ignored him.

“I thought you had an appointment tonight,” Josephine said.

“I’ll leave it ‘til morning. His eminence can wait.”

“Who you going to see?” Zara asked, turning to face him.

“Cameron Grayson,” Gabriel said. She blew an impressed whistle.

“And you’re keeping him waiting? Is that wise?”

Gabriel looked up at her with a raised eyebrow. “What do I care? Despite the man’s opinion of himself he is only human.”

Josephine stood perfectly still at the window, bathing in the moonlight. Her slender frame cast a long shadow across the room. Her golden larynx once again danced through the air. “All the same, he is tied to us.”

“I wouldn’t bother with him at all otherwise,” Gabriel said wearily.

*

The small beam of light that shone from Powell’s quivering torch was of very little comfort. His revolver only slightly more. 

When asked by the dispatcher what was wrong he had forced out an explanation through a series of stammers, weeps and cries of “For god’s sake, listen to me!” At which point he was advised to chill, have a sip and wait 5 minutes while Steph tried to convince someone to check it out with him. By then however, it was too late. From the hole far above came sounds of struggle akin to a pair of very large bulls in a very small china shop. For reasons beyond his own comprehension, Powell headed for the now imploded museum entrance, leaving Larry cowering behind his small coffee stall.

As he’d entered the surprisingly quiet lobby a faint but all too familiar acrid smell tugged at his nostrils. He took his torch from his belt, turned on its narrow beam and gripped it to the side of his revolver as he moved towards the guard-desk.

The smell grew stronger the closer he got to the desk. The sight wasn’t a pretty one but it was about as good as he could’ve hoped for.

The guard had been stereotypical; late fifties, grey hair with random streaks of the original colour still visible. Waistband fit for a heavily pregnant woman. He was distinguished only by the frozen look of astonishment and the odd angle at which his head lolled on his broken neck. A thin line of drool seeped from his dangling tongue.

It was with a certain sense of gut wrenching terror that Powell realised the smell wasn’t coming from the guard. The realisation of the unfortunate ex-policeman being dead not nearly long enough for his bowels to relax hit him like a snow covered sidewalk at the end of a long fall.

As Powell made his way on into the main body of the building the smell grew stronger still. The interior of the building followed it’s exterior. Rather than stairs ascending the building there was a spiral walkway leading to the top. He followed the stench around the rotunda and up to the second floor.

He shone his torch into the first exhibit room he came to. The floor was soaked with formaldehyde, a carpet of glass glistening in the liquid. Four formerly pickled animal carcasses littered the room (not one of them whole - modern art at its finest). Powell breathed a beleaguered sigh of relief - and gagged as he did so.

In answer to which the walkway boomed with the sound of something very heavy landing very hard overhead. He stood perfectly still for a moment or two, gun barrel aimed up at the small disc of light from his torch. He took a deep breath, ignoring the taste it left in the back of his throat, and slowly continued his ascent.

He switched off the torch as he approached the location of the thud. He ducked as low as could as he crept around the corner. There was an imprint in the walkway where...whatever it was had fallen. There was no sign of anyone.

Sounds of fighting came from the adjacent exhibition room. Powell could hear commotion; smashing statues, objects crashing against walls, yells of anger and aggression, even the occasional snarl. He could see shadows moving in the flashing lights of the security alarm.

Leaning against the wall he quickly poked his head around the corner and again hid. Not seeing anything he tried again, a little more slowly. The room was a mess but there was thankfully no one in it. He crept inside.

It was like walking through some kind of acid-induced nightmare. The garish exhibits were made truly horrific by the flashing of the security lights. Powell had to suppress a curse as he kicked a fallen plinth. He switched his torch back on, making sure the beam was aimed toward the floor.

The sounds of the struggle intensified. Shadows darted left and right from the next room. As carefully and as quietly as he could he made his way toward the noise. He wondered why, in the name of God, he hadn’t just stayed outside.

Powell leaned against a wall, gun pressed tight against his body. He regretted not switching to the automatic like everyone else; he just had to be traditional. He could feel his heart pounding in his chest, the vain at his temple throbbing. Sweat dripped from his brow and soaked through the uniform he was beginning to wish he’d never stepped into.

Powel considered running for it. Leaving the city, heading for Miami, working on that tan he’d always wanted. But, against all better judgment he instead looked around the corner.

*

Three beams of light swished back and forth through the museum’s lobby. Sergeants Armstrong, Geller and Malone strode almost merrily through the building, munching on doughnuts and giggling like school boys over the story they’d just heard from the vendor outside.

“I say drink,” said Geller.

“Nah,” Malone said, “didn’t you see his eyes? He was stoned.”

“Bull,” said Armstrong. “He was nuts. Before he saw us he was shaking and muttering to himself like a schizo.”

“Twenty bucks says we stick a breathalyser in his mouth and it goes off the chart,” Geller said.

The debate halted abruptly when they were hit by the smell.

*

Two men. The first; medium height, medium build, pale with short, black hair, dressed in a long black coat, blue sweater and loose, black jeans. The second was tall, stocky, long black hair, dressed in a dark suit and sunglasses. He’d been the wannabe BASE-jumper - a few flakes of snow still sat on his shoulders like frozen dandruff.

Powell stared at them aghast, unable to look away. Blood soaked them both. Large gashes, like claw marks covered their faces and bodies, as if they’d been tearing away at each other like animals. Both landed blow upon blow with incredible ferocity. Every hit sounded like a lump-hammer being slammed into a brick wall. Neither man looked like backing down.

The tall one struck the shorter savagely with the back of his hand breaking his cheek, sending him into the wall behind him. The short one quickly picked himself up and threw himself at the taller, tearing into his waist with his clawed hand as he did so.

The tall man roared with pain, as his flesh was ripped open once again. He quickly steadied himself and slammed his elbow down into the back of the shorter man’s neck. The shorter man dropped to his knees; the resonating thud no doubt echoing in his head. The taller stood over him, holding his waist, breathing heavily, slowly.

The shorter man looked up at the tall. He smiled in a way that suggested he knew something the tall man didn’t.

“What?” the tall man asked mockingly.

The short man said nothing. He swept his hand up at the taller man’s face. His cheek tore, his left eye burst.

The tall man screamed, clutching his face. The shorter man drew back his bloodstained hand and slammed it into the other’s chest and out of his back, clutching his heart.

Powell looked on, more with morbid fascination than with shock, as the short man crushed the tall man’s heart in his fist.

He drew his arm back, dropping his lifeless opponent to the floor. He then noticed Powell.

*
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It's strange the way things work out, but they do work out in the end.
Bebbet
horrorcrafter
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« Reply #1 on: August 20, 2005, 11:54:45 AM »

I think you write very well. great word choices...very intelligent words used, not too many really big words, just the right amount of description.   I love how you describe not only the smellls ( i like to write with all the senses) but also the darkness in the settings.  Thats very important, I think, for a horror writer.  Gotta admit I didn't read it all, sorry.  Not so much action.  Keep it up.
Yours in admiration,
Horrorcrafter
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Bebbet
Coffin Maker
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« Reply #2 on: August 20, 2005, 01:12:48 PM »

I think you write very well. great word choices...very intelligent words used, not too many really big words, just the right amount of description.   I love how you describe not only the smellls ( i like to write with all the senses) but also the darkness in the settings.  Thats very important, I think, for a horror writer.  Gotta admit I didn't read it all, sorry.  Not so much action.  Keep it up.
Yours in admiration,
Horrorcrafter

 hiding Haven't been here in a while... hiding

Thanks Horrorcrafter - pleased it appealed grin

WARNING: shameless plug!! If you're interested in more, have a look at this...
« Last Edit: August 20, 2005, 01:16:22 PM by Bebbet » Logged

It's strange the way things work out, but they do work out in the end.
Bebbet
SharonBell
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« Reply #3 on: August 20, 2005, 01:24:41 PM »

Hiya, Bebbet! How are the sales coming??
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www.sharonbuchbinder.com
Bebbet
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« Reply #4 on: August 20, 2005, 01:30:06 PM »

Hiya, Bebbet! How are the sales coming??

Hehe - not sure exactly, but I am in the top 1mil on Amazon.co.uk and the top *ahem* 3mil on Amazon.com. I'll let you know in more detail when I get the statment from the publisher afro
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It's strange the way things work out, but they do work out in the end.
Bebbet
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