NaNoWriMo Day 17

Amir had been laid out spread-eagle on the coffee table, and laid open with an anatomist’s thoroughness. Bowls from the kitchen had been obtained, pots and pans, and each individual organ had been placed in one as if he had been a Pharoah being made ready for his interment and the voyage that was to come after it. Not a drop of blood was left anywhere, in the body our with the organs or upon the furnishings. The skin was all pulled back. Veins, tendons and nerves were all unfurled, spread out in a carefully measured web, a spray of long thin pieces that had connected the flesh. The muscles were seemingly intact, but the principal muscle groups all had at least one steak knife, also from the kitchen, thrust in deep to mark them. The teeth had been freshly brushed, and so had the skull laid bare above the eyebrows, scrubbed immaculate.

Phil Warner quickly vomited up the fast food in his stomach, puked up everything at all that he could down to the bile.

Branson had seen worse, in his day, and he knew what it was to be a young man dunked face-first into a bucketful of horror. He gave Phil about a minute to finish heaving, and started giving clear, sharp instructions for him to focus on.

Don’t look at it. It’s bad, yeah, but you’ve seen a lot of bad today. Focus on what’s next. Pack.

Phil moved through an ugly dream. At Branson’s goading, he managed to find a never-used gym bag, and throw some clean clothes in it, enough to last him a week or so. Toothbrush. Mouthwash. Branson got him stripped and under the shower, washing as much of the foulness away as he could with water and lather. He stayed in until the hot water ran out entirely, and scrubbed himself raw from head to foot and back down again. Blood, piss, dirt, mud, and memories. He got everything off his skin, at least, toweled off, thoroughly, and dressed himself in his own clothes.

All right. Now, next thing to think on is how we’re getting out of here. This part I don’t think you’ll like.

Phil was too numb now to try talking back.

Amir had a car too, right? Had a wallet too, I bet.

“Jesus fuck, man! What the fuck is wrong with you?”

We need a road stake.

“I should go to the police! My roommate’s been disassembled in the next room!”

And you took a shower and packed a bag already before reporting it. I told you, going to the law will get you killed.

“This is too fucked up! Drawing the line here, not gonna loot my dead roommate’s body!”

All right then, you best come up with some other way to get a car and a stack of cash! I’m listening!

Phil shut his eyes and slumped against the wall. He felt like crying, and didn’t fight it.

“Ok, shit. What do we do, rob a convenience store or something?”

I know how it’s done. You’d just have to ride along.

“Shit, man, let me think a second. Just, just let me get my head straight, ok?” Phil started taking in deep breaths, and Branson went quiet.

“Ok, so, I think probably the next step should be–“

A noise came from the living room. Phil screamed.

It wasn’t a big noise, just a faint scraping or dragging sound, like a chair being pushed to one side across a floor, or a glass being slid across a table surface without a coaster. A soft rasp.

There was just the little matter of there being nothing living in that room that would be making a noise like that. That was the thing the froze Phil’s spine and clenched his muscles in a tight spasm.

More noise. Something clumsy. Something got knocked over. Phil felt himself starting to paralyze. His heart was hammering and his other muscles refused to move.

It started coming closer.

Phil, he’d had it with all this. He snapped to his feet so suddenly that he didn’t even realize he’d done it, and turned to throw open the door and glare into the next room. “What the fuck do you want with me? I’ve had it with all this shit!”

Then he registered what he was yelling at, and regretted his boldness. Amir had gotten up, leaving most of his skin behind, or draping off his head like a cloak, the lower half of his face still more or less in place and looking like a Halloween mask being worn by a skeleton. His loose tendons and the excavated tubing of his circulatory system flapped loose with every shambling step. The knives still pinned its muscles, but it had picked up the cleaver which must have been lying unnoticed in the room.

It opened its mouth, and despite its tongue being currently in a small mixing bowl on the sofa, it said “Ye’ll die slow, and leave yer living flesh behind. When I’ve finished with ye, Hell will seem a respite. When I finish with yer pet ghost, well, there won’t be enough of Harry Branson for the Devil to work over!”

It’s him! said Branson. Phil was too shocked to note it, but on later contemplation he’d think the remark a trifle unhelpful or unnecessary.

“Will ye run, ye little cocksucker? My hound will find ye! I’ve trained him for the work, and we’ve yer scent now, sure and true!” The dead thing shuffled forward, raising the cleaver high, ready to come down in a brutal guillotine chop. “Or will ye stand here, and let it be done now?”

Phil stepped back into his room and shut the door, locking it with the little push-button. A few moments later, the heavy blade chopped down through the thin cheap material of the door, then was yanked out and brought down again. After four or five resounding blows, The was a sizable hole, through which the eyeless bare-skulled revenant grinned.

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