Devil's County (Chapter 1 - 4)

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic
A short horror story that I just decided to start writing to get me back into a writers mindset. I'm not exactly sure where it's going just yet, so any feedback or ideas would be greatly appreciated.

Be warned: It's quite disturbing at times.

Submitted: January 19, 2012

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Submitted: January 19, 2012

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Devil's County

By David Kavanagh

Prologue

Old Matilda was far from saintly and that’s something all residents of Cartage Circle, a lonely bleach-washed bit of deranged suburbia in the lonelier township of Penobs County, Maine, could tell you. Even so, with regular hobbles down to the confessional, Matilda was at least repentant and would luckily (according to her God-fearing former acquaintances anyway) be forgiven enough for good Peter to open his superiors great gate for her once she arrived. And that’s good, because not even a cuss-heavy, neighbour hating hag like Matilda deserved the horrible demise that someone (or if we want to be more ridiculously foreboding – like the gossip spewing Mrs Whelmer – something) assigned to her. Found literally “sliced to shreds”, even hardened constable Garrison could not control his gag reflex well enough to prevent a surge of the mornings curried sausage and bile from projecting onto the corpse, if that’s what it could be called. In retrospect, when reporting to his regular companions down at the Waterhole, the deceased Old Matilda was less a corpse and more so a bubbling stew of flesh, bone sprouting tussocks and flaps of shredded skin, so fine shaved it could pass as raw thin-cut ham at the Sunday market. In fact, the only part of cadaver still in considerable condition was her face which had been peeled from her very skull and nailed to the wall of her mothballed living room. Living room, how ironic.

One

But to move onto something a little more pleasant or, at least, to a nicer scene than the tipped over contents of an old woman’s insides, a dark haired girl with a spiteful demeanour, stands in her room.

“You’re so fucking sick!” she screams, without fear of consequence.

Curse words were commonplace in the Brittle household, usually emerging as fiery insult from the mouth hole of sixteen year old Jennifer (Jenny for short – she hates that Sunday-school English crap).
Although prone to using cusses almost randomly, at this moment it seems its purpose was to express her strange uncomfortable anger which, she would say if heard by her mother, should be considered as reasonable, for Jenny had just stumbled upon a lustful and hormonal-drowned display that most would find revolting. The culprit, her twelve year old brother, sat by her bed naked from the waist down, Jenny’s unwashed panties in his left hand.

“Get out Ben! Get out of my fucking” – and there was emphasis on that – “room before I smash in your teeth”.

He bolted, red with embarrassment and some dark sort of excitement. This was the third time Jenny had caught him in the act, but her teenage mind was way too occupied to think much of it. It was disgusting, that’s all she needed to know to fuel any form of hateful barrage in his direction, and there was no time for “don’t be embarrassed little B, its normal”. Small family concerns like the natural development of an adolescent boy’s sexual health were far in the past, hung by tightened nooses in her father’s old tool shed. The same shed she had found him hung in, dangling and glass-eyed, no longer tortured by his silent demons, only a year prior.

The vibration of her phone on her bedside table fished her out of the past and for the rest of that night Jenny Brittle spoke and gossiped with her best friend (and an object of Ben’s earlier fantasies) Olivia. As the hours rolled on, topics were covered with one of two extremes, either long drawn out gasps of shock or uncontrollable laughter. The coming Summer holiday, the sex gods of Penobs County High and finally, in the later hours of the night, the potential cause of the grim fate of Old Matilda, who the girls had seen constantly on their treks to school, ripping weeds from the graveyard of her home on Cartage Circle, were all subjects picked apart by these two young souls. By midnight, each managed to drift into their own separate nightmare, fuelled by imaginations that were not exactly innocent anymore.

Don’t be fooled by the reference to two gruesome demises in the first two segments of this tale, or think that Penobs County was in any way cursed with death. These were two unfortunate and ultimately horrific incidents that, although tragic, were random and out of the ordinary indeed. With that in mind, it could be argued that maybe Penobs would have been more well off if tragedy was more commonplace, for if the town’s reaction to Matilda’s murder was any indication of its emotional state and ability to handle disaster, there was nothing that could prepare its unsuspecting residents for the bloodbath of the coming days.

Two

Dale Benton drove trucks. Meat, usually. An all American-adventurer, transporting Ronald’s burgers across the states, not a stranger to gluttony himself, rewarding his hours of sitting on his arse with grease and the grilled fleshy debris that he carried in the back. It’s unusual, but Dale was not put off by the raw stink that followed him for days, in fact, it wetted his appetite. After each delivery, he’d spend at least a weighty half hour indulging in whichever McDonalds he’d been assigned too, stuffing himself with salt and the rare dose of nutrients. His next stop: Penobs Country, a dilapidated little no-where in the middle of no-where, populated with a bunch of Hillbilly no-bodies doing nothing. Or if anything, they were cow fuckers. He was above them. Although, he could not swear on the Holy Book that he himself had not fantasised about giving it a shot once or twice while packing crates of cattle meat or downing a double pounder.

On that same night in which Jenny Brittle had caught her brother in that compromising position, Dale Benton had been cruising down I-56, a canopy of blackened trees on either side. The only light source, his headlights, skimming the gravel carpet that looked smoother blurred with speed. Weariness was setting in; threatening to force shut Dale’s pastry eyes with the steady whir of his truck’s aircon system.

“Turn on the bloody radio before you kill yourself” said the voice of his father. Dead eleven years but still a pain in Dale’s arse. Metaphysical pain of course, not the real beltings he received back when he was still alive. Even so, Pa Benton was just as much his teacher as his torturer, giving him the role of reason in Dale’s life even after kicking the rusty bucket.

Almost instinctively, Dale flicks it on.  

“…It is 2 in the AM and we’re here with Barry Peters, spiritualist slash psychic slash fortune-teller of the night…”

Change station.

Terrible country music about a girl (or cow, Dale mentally joked) called Daisy.

Change station.

“…heard she was skinned alive, properly skinned you know. Her face, literally ripped off. The whole scene was apparently one big pile of skin and flesh.”

“What kind of sick son of a bitch would do that? ‘Specially over there, a sweet little town like Penobs County”.

That stood out to Dale, he’d give this host a few more seconds to hold his interest.

“It’s really odd, Burke. I mean, there’s been a rumour of some cult, real Devil worshippers you know, travelling down through Maine. I don’t know if they’re into that sort of sacrificial violence or…”

Turn off radio. Whether big Dale did so out of a loss of attention, an internal scoff at the idea of Devil lovers charging across the state or out of some sudden, unfamiliar and mainly primal ping of fear, he was not fully sure. It may have even been his greased pumper acting up. Whatever it was, he didn’t have much time to think about it before the dark blotch that had meanwhile been skulking through the tree line threw itself against his bumper, forcing the gluttons foot to halt his truck’s onslaught forward.

Correction – that dark blotch didn’t throw itself; it was thrown by another master. Not the body’s master, another one, who had drilled a hole and filled it with mental anguish and voices and a suffocating sort of blackness a mortal wouldn’t understand. 

Three

Jenny Brittle was naked and scarred, shivering in a dying grey field. Her hair was damp with sweat and plastered to her shoulders, and filled with nettles and thorns that dug into her scalp like claws. For her, the pain was excruciating to the point that the rest of the world was just a blur, dripping sprays of black and blue paint that ran down a pulsing canvas of what looked like trees. For the figure before her, standing in the blackness just out of peripheral detection, her agony was a joy to behold, an orgasm of tears and whimpers and entertainment.

“Jennifer” it whispered and her eyes jolted in response.
She would not let just anyone call her by that name, but peering into the darkness, she felt that whoever this was could hurt her a far greater deal than she could hurt them. From that single whisper, Jenny was overcome by a sudden wave of maliciousness. There was something wrong with it. Something insidious. Something evil.

“Jennifer” it called again, so quietly, “come here.”
For whatever reason, Jenny began forward, her bare feet grazing over piercing stones and dead shrubbery. The darkness beckoned her with its cold aroma and seduced her with its colder stillness. It was beautiful.
“Stop” and she obliged.

For what seemed like eternity she stood in its embrace, waiting for it to send her another word. But it did not speak again and instead, the graceful silence was slowly drowned out by another sound, a growing violent growl ahead of her in the forest. And then, almost in unison with the increasing volume of said growl, two bright eyes appear in the distance, becoming larger and larger as they light up their way through the tree trunks and the corpses of Jenny’s father that hung from the branches of the occasional evergreen. They were on fire, those eyes.

As her own eyes began to melt into wax, Jenny’s alarm gives a whir and she jumps awake.

Four

“Hold on to your breakfast constable, we’ve got another one” says the coroner, mockingly but without any real hint of humour.

Constable Garrison steps under the painfully fluoro police tape, illuminated by the rhythmic red and blue buzz of the three cruisers positioned at the scene. The rise and fall of each colour reminds him of some strange sort of carousel, moving so fast its innocent occupants lose all sense of the world and flail their arms as if on fire.  It’s early morning and the horizon is only beginning to light up in an evil shade of pink. An evil shade of pink – “now why did I think that” Garrison asks himself, dropping his gaze from the Heavens to a scene of an appropriately juxtaposed form of Hell.

Before him sits a towering beast of an unmanned truck with its headlights setting the tarmac alight. And on the tarmac itself: a grizzly scene, another ‘kind of’ corpse. ‘Kind of’ because like Old Matilda the potential identity of whoever this was, was as mutilated as the remains. Were it not for the fact that Matilda was found in her own home, locked away from sunny tendrils, or for her shaky relations with the neighbours across the street who could recognise her face even hammered into her splintered wall, Old Matilda may have ended up as just another nameless body in just another national Morgue. Just another unmarked gravestone.

This man however, or what Garrison thought to be a man from what looked like scraps of male genitalia that were crushed, severed from the corpses loins, in the middle of I-56, had no known relations in the township. His only legacy in the eyes of the constable lay dry within his now unneeded wallet, hidden away in the glove compartment of the meat transporter. Dale Benton, forty two years of age, born in Wisconsin. And nothing more.

In cross reference, the bearded, plump face of Mr Benton in his driving license’s photograph, capturing the man in a moment of great boredom and frustration, only barely resembled the cheeks and brow and puffy lips that hung over the trucks hood ornament. Dale Benton had also been skinned rather finely, and then butchered like the bloodied patties in his wagon. Of course, and it is obvious but a fact that must be recorded anyway, this was the work of Matilda’s killer.

Another interesting note Garrison would make concerned the black gunk that seeped from the trucks bumper, meshing in a pool of red on the road. Upon touch, it sticks like hot glue to his fingertips. What is it? Whose is it? Then something else catches his eye. Moving over to the side of the road, a few feet away from the left headlight, Garrison crouches in a bed of weeds.
“God” he whispers, peering down at what appears to be a heavily dissected liver or heart or some bashed clump of organ.
“Wait.”
“What?” asks the coroner.
There’s a silence. Are you sure? “This isn’t his.”
Garrison was right. The organ, which on closer examination was in fact a heart that had been raped and brutalised by some sort of mallet or hammer, was much smaller than those belonging to humans. 
“An ox or goat or a lamb, maybe” interjects the coroner, picking the bleeding mass of vein and flesh up with his gloved hand, turning it once. Blood red on white latex, it more than stands out. And then, in a moment of genuine eerie nothingness, thousands of possibilities drip through the minds of the two men.

Gunfire sends a murder of crows up into the burning pink clouds. 


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