Click to read Chapter One
Click to read Chapter Two
Click to read Chapter Three
Click to read Chapter Four
Click to read Chapter Five
Click to read Chapter Six
“You have to eat,” looking up from the menu, “just something light, trust me,” turning to the waitress, “multigrain toast 2 pieces, dark please, extra butter, one fried egg over medium,” a pause, considering whether to add bacon or sausage and deciding no, no flesh, not after yesterday, “and coffee, and I’ll have…you know what, I’ll have the same, thanks.”
Aligning the salt and pepper shakers, the napkin holder, creamers and ketchup bottle in a straight line down the middle of the table… knee bouncing slightly, repeating, “you have to eat.”
“Thanks, thanks for ordering, for remembering to ask for dark toast, for picking me up, for not freaking out.”
“Partners. And I don’t know what to freak out about, you screaming at shadows with teeth that aren’t there, a kid chewing a finger, oh a dismembered finger, or hands without bodies. Oh! I know, how about an envelope full of hair and teeth. That’s probably enough spooky stuff to start with.”
“Not sure I would say spooky, more like creepy, freaky as hell. And there might be one more thing to add to your list, did you check emails this morning? The lab sent the report on the hair and teeth. Nothing matches. None of those teeth belong to the finger or the hands. The hair is random strands, some are from the same person but not all, and none of it matches the teeth or our body parts.”
As the waitress approaches with coffee, the conversation pauses.
“Thank you. Can I have sugar please,” A sugar dispenser is transferred from the neighbouring table, “thanks.”
Continuing the update, “there was something about one of the teeth so the lab reached out to an orthodontist they’ve consulted in the past, did you know that extracted teeth are disposed of like hazardous waste? Unless the patient specifically wants the tooth. The orthodontist told the lab tech that the medical waste company reported a theft to the police and their insurance company, probably in case of liability, an employee had stolen a container of teeth before it could be incinerated. There’s cameras all over the place so they knew who did it, fired him but chose not to press charges even though when they got the container back some teeth were missing. Turns out the guy has a history of mental illness, and is probably the one who left the envelope at the station. Uniforms were picking him up this morning.”
“So that whole thing was nothing to do with the case?”
“Unless the guy is also cutting off hands and fingers and making me see things, which I doubt, he’s probably just one of those people who like to mess with the police, maybe an attention seeker.”
“Okay, over medium egg, dark toast, extra butter, and you didn’t ask but here’s some peanut butter for that second piece of toast,” said with a smile, “I’ll bring some more coffee in a bit.”
“Noreen you are the best, thank you.”
“You know she likes you, she never remembers that I like sugar in my coffee, but she always brings you peanut butter,” a bad imitation follows, “for that second piece of toast.”
“Shut up. Eat your breakfast.”
Walking back to the station their attention was caught by a news van speeding around the corner followed by two cars, and a second van. Picking up the pace they entered the station parking lot to a scene out of a movie; reporters clamoring, cameras rolling, uniforms trying to maintain control and prevent anyone from entering the building.
“What the…Baxter! Baxter, over here,” gesturing to catch the officers’ attention. Baxter fought his way through the crowd and leaned against a concrete parking bollard catching his breath.
“Holy, man some of those female reporters are tough, looking all pretty with their hair and makeup but inside, they might as well be ultimate fighters, shouting and shoving those microphones in my face!”
“What’s going on, why all the commotion?”
“It’s your finger lady, the plant lady brought her in about half an hour ago and someone leaked it and the envelope, that was leaked too. Didn’t anyone call you?”
“No Baxter! No one called us! The finger lady, you mean the owner of the severed finger, Rose Lancer? she’s alive, and in the station?”
“Yeah, the plant lady, Jenkins, Sara Jenkins, brought her. You probably want to talk to her hey?”
“Detectives, detectives! can you confirm that the severed finger belongs to Rose Lancer and she is in the station right now? What’s her connection to the three hands? Is she involved with the cannibal cult we’ve heard about, what are you doing to find them?” every question was shouted, a microphone was thrust forward, “Is Rose Lancer a suspect or a victim? What’s Sara Jenkins role in all this? Is she also a suspect? What about the envelope of hair and teeth?”
“No comment, no comment, no comment,” pushing their way past the reporter, only to see the rest of the crowd turn at the sound of the shouted questions and start moving forward.
“Shit, they’re like zombies.”
“I could fire my gun, in the air, just to scare them so we can get through,” hopeful, Baxter started to unholster his weapon as they pushed and stumbled through the crowd.
“Baxter! I swear…one day, I swear…” the sentence wasn’t finished as a uniformed officer held back a single determined reporter waving a notebook, yelling “one quote, just one quote!” and they slipped through the front door, closing it quickly.
Several minutes later in the interview room with Rose Lancer, her hand bandaged, her face showing fatigue. Sara Jenkins sitting off to the side having been asked by Rose to stay.
“Rose, can you tell us where you’ve been, what happened?” the question was asked quietly, the tone gentle, a style that had been developed over many years of interviews and one that was especially effective when the interviewee had been through a trauma, “take your time, there’s no rush.”
Rose nodded and started to speak, and a story unfolded.
“It’s because of Heritage. What’s happening. The mutilations and..” looking up, brown eyes with dark shadows, pale skin and prominent cheekbones, “your visions, experiences…it’s Heritage.”
At the same time, “What’s the heritage” “How do you know about the visions?” one voice confused, the other anxious, fearful.
“Not the Heritage, just Heritage. And I know about you, not you specifically, but because we’re the same, from the same…family, shall I start at the beginning?” her voice was calm, unhurried, as if she anticipated their reactions and responses.
At their nods she began to speak, the recorder whirring quietly in the background capturing each word.
“I’ll tell you about the shadows first because they started first, Heritage was later. You keep seeing teeth, don’t you?” she continued without allowing time for a response, “and you taste what the teeth are tasting. It’s the shadows tricking you, which is not to say it’s not real. What they are doing is real but you aren’t actually tasting blood. And you aren’t biting,” anticipating the question, the fear behind the question.
“I heard about the dog finding my finger, when your crime scene people went there, to the woods, they found a tiny shrine right? Probably made of sticks, mud and clay to keep it together, looked like what you would see a saint statue in but really small, just big enough for my finger,” she paused as they nodded.
“But, where were you? All this time, where’ve you been?” asked impatiently.
“Let Rose tell it her way, we’ll get there,” a pat on the shoulder.
“The shadows aren’t what you think, they appear big but it’s another trick, do you know what Imps are? The Shadows are Imps, one strain, or family I guess, of Imps whose natures have been perverted over time by their desire to be stronger, to move up the demon hierarchy. These Imps are dangerous, they are determined to prove they aren’t just mischievous pranksters, they want to be… respected is probably the best word, or recognized, as demons and blood is their currency.”
Rose took a breath, the only sound was the recorder, she looked from face to face, over her shoulder at Sara whose jaw was tight as she clenched her teeth. Noticing Roses’ concerned glance, she shook her head as if breaking the spell and smiled faintly.
“They aren’t finished, we need to find the other shrines, each of those hands you found, I think that means there are three more shrines, and if those hands belonged to Heritage members, then those shrines each have a finger…with a ring.”
To be continued.