© 2017 by Breaking Fate Publishing Publishing
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“Death at Germantown” is available for purchase as a Kindle Single and in Audio
“Death at Germantown” is also featured in the Last Exit anthology.
Edited by Kim Young
Cover Art & Design by Jason R. Davis
Copyright © 2017
Light pooled below the yellow incandescent bulb; it was barely enough to light all the way down the bleak wooden pole. Alone, isolated, only a small moth flew around it, slamming into the warm sun-like glow, and bouncing off from the heat. The moth, never learning the tale of Icarus and never learning from its own flight, continued to get too close to its own sun.
The single streetlight in the small rest area was not enough to light the surrounding area, but it was the only one there. Darkness surrounded it, making the little building tucked back near the woods feel that much more like a small shack that time forgot and civilization ignored.
Randy could care less or give two shits about it. He saw the sign, an arrow and the words that said “Rest Area”, and he was quickly downshifting. The roar of the engine announced to all life nearby that he was coming in. He came in fast, breaking hard, trying to slow down to slightly less than a reckless speed as he whipped it in.
The rest area was small. He had seen that from the highway but, as he was navigating his big rig down the narrow entry ramp, he saw just how small it was. There wasn’t anything there. He saw the light and the small road that had a little more gravel to its shoulder to accommodate for parking a single rig. Thank God no one else had been parked there for the night or he wouldn’t have been able to stop.
He pulled the truck over. The hiss of the air brakes releasing was a loud “whoosh” in the silence, quickly followed by him opening his door and nearly jumping down from his seat.
Whoa. Breathe, in and out, in and out. Wha, wha wha, whoo. Wha, wha, wha, whoo. He felt like he was training some dumb broad for Lamaze class as he worked his lungs, keeping his stomach tight, clamping down on his ass. His legs were straight, making him walk like something out of an old universal picture. He was the Frankenshit, hurrying to an outhouse near you, trying to make it before that brown stain would creep down his pant leg.
He hadn’t even seen the little shack when he stopped, nor did he care. He would just take a shit on the side of his truck if he had to and, with how damn dark it was out here, he doubted anyone would even catch him. It always seemed so dark when you were this far north. He didn’t know if it had something to do with all the damn trees, or that they just used cheap ass bulbs in their streetlights. Outside of New York City, none of the northeast seemed to be well lit up. Now, being only five miles from the Canadian border and driving up through Connecticut, it seemed to be as dark as the devil’s twat.
He made it across the little road, and had to waddle to step onto the curb. Luckily, no cars had been rushing to get in because he wouldn’t have seen them coming and he doubted he could move out of the way. He would just splatter on their windshield, becoming that brown streak running along their hood.
“Come on, baby. Just hold it in there a few more feet,” he muttered to himself, concentrating on his breaths as he said it.
The door was a dim outline in the low light, not even fitting snug in its frame. Graffiti, which seemed strange so far north, was painted along the front of it, symbols that reminded him a lot of what he saw whenever he made it out to California. What were gang signs doing all the way up here? That didn’t make any sense.
He wasn’t going to dwell on it. He reached forward to where he thought the door handle should be, the light barely showing more than vague shadows. His hand found the cool metal and he pulled. The door stayed closed.
“Come on!” The fucking door was stuck.
He didn’t waste time looking at the door, but he did have an uneasy feeling around him. Something was wrong, something didn’t fit.
He pushed the uneasiness away, allowing it to flow through him in a shiver that buckled his knees. He steadied himself and pulled again, this time putting forth more effort. There was a squeal of metal on metal as hinges that had long rusted closed protested. As the wood rattled against itself, frame fighting against warped door, it finally let go with a crying scream of release. He was forced back by the suddenness of it and the door, with the springs attached to it, quickly slammed itself shut.
He was able to stop himself from falling. Damn, this place was really starting to get under his skin, and he sure as hell wasn’t going to be made a fool of by some damn door that –.
He closed his eyes and had to fight against the pain that ripped through his stomach. It felt like a freight train wanted to barrel its way out his ass, and he had to fight it down, clamping his ass cheeks together to hold back the engine. His body was trying to resist him. He was going against nature and it wanted no part in it. His stomach screamed for him to just release it, to let the pain end. No way!
Just breathe, one…two…just continue to control that breathing. Keep that flood of shit from spraying down your leg. Just breathe.
He heard a groan from the pit of his stomach, and could feel the tension release. It was a reprieve. He didn’t have long, though.
He rushed over to the door and yanked hard. This time, it gave quickly. His forward momentum propelled him into the bathroom, and he felt like a bull leading a charge as he barreled in.
It was dark, lit only by a single bulb in the center of the room. Shadows loomed in the corners, and he could see that there were two stalls. At one time, the doors may have been painted white, but now they were a dark brown with spots of black here and there. They also sported the same graffiti that was outside. He quickly went into the handicapped stall and slammed the door. It barely fit and he had to force it closed, but he didn’t bother latching it. Hell, it took him so much to close it that he doubted the latch would have worked anyway.
The relief that went through him was wonderful. It felt like a dam broke loose and he could just feel the pain forced out of him. The demon exercised itself, and sweat beaded across his forehead. The room around him suddenly felt like it was on fire.
He closed his eyes and let his head rest against the cool wood of the stall wall. It was a rough surface and he doubted it was as cold as it felt but, right then, it was like a little heaven on earth.
He had made it. He didn’t care how long he sat there, he just relished in the absence of the pain that had been seizing at him. There was only an emptiness that was so pleasant it could be mistaken for pleasure. It was an absence of the pain, and it was wonderful.
He kept his eyes closed for what seemed like most the night, just relishing in his head touching the cool stall wall.
Time seemed to lose itself, and his mind just wanted to swirl around him. Thoughts came, some reminding him that he had a load sitting out there, and he should be hurrying up and getting back on the road. Others nagged at him about what he had seen out of the corner of his eye on the way in. It really was a beautiful night, though it would have been nice if there had been a moon to help give the area some more light. It was just so dark up here.
It sure had been quiet. He had vaguely noticed it, largely because of how loud he had been and how the door had slammed shut. His surroundings just seemed to swallow the noise. There had been no echo, but there had been no other sounds, either. He knew he was only a few miles from a small town. There had to be houses nearby, and one of them had to have a dog. There should be some kind of barking to acknowledge the noise he was making.
What about bugs? He wasn’t sure if there were locusts local to the area but, being from the Midwest, he was used to their endless droning whine…the ins and outs, highs and lows as they buzzed through the hours of the day and night. Was there really nothing like that out here? He highly doubted it. He had been out on the east coast plenty of times. He never came this far north all that often, but he was still near enough that it couldn’t be all that different. There were birds. There should be some chirping or something.
Wasn’t this the year he had read about some big migration of bugs? It was supposed to be some epidemic of massive proportions, enough to throw the whole east coast biosphere out of whack or some crazy shit like that. Those things were supposed to be noisemakers, too, right? Didn’t they have some kind of racket they made?
However, when he had gotten out of his truck, it had been silent. Not just a little silent, or the occasional creature making a noise. The area had been like a vacuum; there hadn’t been anything. Even the noise from the interstate seemed to have disappeared. It was like he was gone from it all.
Something wasn’t right. He had a vague sensation that his head was growing heavy. Something just wasn’t right about this. He tried to think about what it was, but his thoughts drifted and shifted, and he couldn’t seem to focus them.
He pulled his head up and looked around the shitter walls and the door. He had thought that it had once been white–with the little light, it had looked that way–but now it looked darker. He saw a tint to it, like it had actually once been red, was painted white, left to fade, and was now going a dirty brown because of the mold and shit that was allowed to coat it.
More graffiti signs and words covered over the faded inner walls. There were scratches all over it, but on top of it all in large sharpie print were the words, “Yuz gonna die”.
He let a smile touch his lips. However, his guts were already twisting and he was afraid that round two might be eminent. The revelation on the wall, the words telling him he was going to die, didn’t help to keep it in.
He looked closer. Under the words, he could see hundreds of tally marks. They were haphazardly drawn down the face of the wall. Every once in a while, there would be a name scratched into the wood. None of these names looked like they were done by the same hand…some were done with shaking hands; some looked like they had been done with a quick scratch of a pen; others were deep, with long gouged strokes to indicate they were done with a knife. All the names were crossed off with what looked like the same tool that had cut in the tally marks, and some of the names had dates next to them.
He saw one, Simon Parker, with today’s date.
He looked at the name and found himself reaching out to touch it, but he couldn’t because the door was too far back from the toilet. He saw that his hand was outstretched and realized what he was doing. What did it matter if some asshole had decided to write their name up on the shitter’s wall? It’s not like it was something he wanted to do. He would never desecrate something that would make some other underpaid asshole have to come in there and paint back over it. However, looking at the wall, it didn’t look like anyone had been in to paint over that mess in quite a while.
Time to get this done and get back on the road. He reached over and stopped. Where the toilet paper should’ve been, there was a hole and what looked like someone’s eye looking at him.
“Hey!” he yelled. He hadn’t heard anyone come in. He didn’t know how someone could be over there without him having heard it.
The eye blinked and then moved away from the hole.
“Hey, asshole! Enjoy the fucking view?!” Randy said into the silence. He quickly grabbed for wads of toilet paper. Some asshole was over there, taking perverted looks at him. Somebody just crossed over a line. Fucking looking in at him while he was taking a shit. Who the hell does that?! Someone who wants to be beaten to a bloody pulp, that’s who.
He reached back for more paper, looking away from the hole in the wall for the first time, and looking down at where he was grabbing. Then he looked past his hand and down at the tiled floor. A dark liquid was coming from the stall next to him.
“Oh, come on!” he yelled and pounded his fist on the wall. “What the hell you doing over there?! Shitting on the floor?!”
He looked down at the mess that was creeping towards his boots. Great, now he was going to have shit water all over him. He was going to be walking around, touching the pedals of his truck with shit boots. It didn’t matter if he washed that crap off. He’d still know. He’d be thinking about it weeks later. He’d have to pick something up from his floorboards that fell down there, and he’d remember that he touched there with shit boots.
He tried to pull his feet back as far as he could. The shit water wasn’t moving that fast. In fact, it was slow, sluggish, not like how water would move. This was much slower and just seemed to seep its way across the tile.
Then he heard something hit the floor. It rolled under the stall door, like someone had gently tossed it, bouncing up slightly as its nose hit tile and then the head spun around to face him.
Randy heard the splatter, as his stomach released what remained inside of him. It twisted, he could feel puke threatening to race up his throat. His stomach had already gotten rid of everything, but that didn’t stop his body from wanting to throw up so he dry heaved. All of him just wanted to be sick.
The head’s eyes were looking up at him, but it was upside down. It was…put together wrong. The mouth, which was open in shock, was in the forehead! He could tell it was a younger guy, probably around his early twenties. He had an earring in his ear, and was probably one of them New York fags on his way to Canada or some shit.
It doesn’t matter. The man wasn’t going to get where he was going because he was missing something. Where was his body? That’s probably where all the blood was coming from.
Was there still someone over there?
Randy quickly looked over at the hole, scared that he would see the eye looking back at him. He didn’t see anything so the man must be out in the urinal area, waiting for him.
He looked at the door, not wanting to think about what waited out there for him. What was the man killing with? Images of all kinds of horror movies flooded his mind. He was never a big fan, didn’t watch them all that often, but he still knew enough to be familiar with Jason and the like. What did they use? There was that chainsaw one, then the machete, the butcher’s knife, and many other kinds of instruments.
What would he use to cut a man’s head off? He didn’t know because he wouldn’t do that crazy ass shit. He couldn’t ever see himself killing someone but, if he ever wanted to, he’d just pull out his .38 and shoot the sonofabitch. He wouldn’t be taking a machete and chopping heads off.
He remembered a name and a date. Simon Parker and under it was today’s date. He looked back down at the head.
“Guess that’s you. Tough break,” he said under his breath, looking at the head. The blood was around his boots now. It ran up against the basin of the toilet, and he could see the red color as it moved along the white smooth surface.
He’d run full speed, rush the door, and get the hell out of there. He’d make it to his truck and, if something followed him, he would reach inside, grab his gun out from under his seat and the special compartment he personally configured there, and shoot the asshole.
Yeah, his fat ass was going to outrun someone.
You bet your ass you are because if you don’t, you won’t be getting that cake at your next birthday, he thought.
He looked down at the pants around his ankles. He was going to have to pull them up quick and slam the door. The door swung inwards, but that didn’t matter. The hinges were small and weak, and the wood looked old so it should just bust when he ran into it. Then he’d hit low, like the good ol’ football days from nearly thirty years ago, and take out whoever was waiting for him.
He reached and grabbed, mentally and physically preparing himself. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath, holding it.
In the stall next to him, he can hear what sounds like little whispers, but he can’t understand what they’re saying. It doesn’t matter; he can’t think about that.
Go! He mentally screamed. He propelled himself up and lifted his pants up in one motion, not worrying about clasping them closed, and slams into the door, putting all his weight and momentum into it. There’s a loud snap and the hinges pop, the wood of the door barely slowing him.
Don’t stop, keep moving, he kept saying to himself. He had to fight the urge to look around, to see what was around him. He had to move carefully as his boots wanted to slip on the blood soaked tile. Midwestern winters and running on ice helped him as he ran.
Don’t look, just don’t look.
He wanted to. He wanted to turn and see it; he wanted to look in the mirror as he was passing it; he wanted to see who was back there, see what they had done with the body. It was some sick fascination, but he didn’t know why. It must have been that human nature, the one that caused people to slow down and gawk at nasty wrecks on the road when they went by. He wanted to know–.
Just a little further. You’re almost to the door, he chanted to himself, over and over. He had to keep going, push himself.
He slammed into the door…and came to a dead stop. The door held in its frame.
Behind him, he heard a crash come from the other stall. He chanced a look at the mirror, and saw that its door burst outwards and Simon Parkers body had been flung out. The body was nude and cut to shreds, with flesh dangling.
Randy turned back to the door and slammed his weight into it. This time he could hear the warped door protest against the frame.
“Fuck” he yelled, as he stepped back and came at the door again. He had to get out of there.
He slammed into it and, with a loud squeal, it opened and released him. He stumbled through it. He was out, but now he had to get to his truck.
He staggered a few steps towards the sidewalk, and stopped. The sidewalk, everything, was gone!
He looked around, but there wasn’t anything in front of him. It was all just darkness, like the world just dropped off after a couple more feet.
He turned around and saw that the building was still there, but the woods beyond it were gone. There was him, the building, and then nothing.
No, that wasn’t right. He had heard something else, and it was still in there. It was crashing its way towards him. He could hear it. It was like the locusts back home, but louder and deeper. It was as though one of those locusts was ten times its normal size.
That alone was enough to send shivers down his spine, but he could feel his knees give out when he heard an answering call from the darkness around him. It wasn’t just one, but many. They were there in the darkness, and it sounded like thousands of them. They droned on, in and out, high and low. The sound moved around him and with that low deep base of their call, he could feel it growing in his chest. The sound, the pulsating noise, seemed to take over his heart. He tried to fight and keep it on his own rhythm, but he could feel it dwindling to match their slow melody.
Then, the one that had been in the bathroom came to stand in the door and he finally saw it. It was tall and slender; its legs came to points that seemed to step down into the cracks of the tile; its arms weren’t arms, but what looked like knives that dripped crimson. Then he looked at what was probably his face. It was long, with what looked like a jaw coming halfway down its torso.
It stepped forward, coming towards him. Once it fully emerged from the door, it folded out its wings. It grew to its full height, and towered over him. He had no way to compare how tall it was, but it seemed like it had doubled in size. It came towards him, and he couldn’t do it. He couldn’t stay there.
“No, no, no, no!” he said, stepping back. He realized that he had reached the edge, but he didn’t hesitate. He continued to step back.
He felt like he was falling for a brief moment before the first sensation of pain cut through him. He knew that they’d be swarming around him, that they wouldn’t let him get away. He just hoped that wherever he was falling would kill him fast.