THERIOPHOBIA: FEAR THE BEAST Part 21
Hank’s hands were shaking. It made it harder to do what he needed to do. He went to the medicine cabinet in the bathroom, took out the little plastic bottle of pills and unscrewed the top. He shook several of the capsules into his hand, calculating the amount needed. Too little and he’d still be in danger. The clothesline might not be strong enough. Too much and he could kill his friend.
The plastic bottle had Hank’s name on it, the name of his own physician down in Florida, the instructions TAKE ONE (1) CAPSULE THREE (3) TIMES DAILY WITH MEALS. He hadn’t taken any of the pills since he’d moved back to Ironwood. He hadn’t thought to need them anymore.
Deciding on the proper dosage, Hank twisted the capsules in half, dumping the white powder into the large soup spoon he’d left on the sink counter. When he’d finished, he picked up the spoon in his left hand. With his right, he pulled the lighter from his pants pocket, one of those handheld torches, and squeezed the trigger. A tiny flame popped from the torch’s mouth, and Hank brought it to the wick of the taper candle he’d placed on the countertop. He set the torch aside, swapping the spoon to his right hand. He held it over the spear tip of orange flame. The stainless steel blackened. The white powder began to sizzle.
Hank still had some of Linda’s insulin syringes. He’d brought them with him by accident.
But maybe it wasn’t an accident.
He remembered back to when they’d first gotten married. He used to give her the shots himself, because she’d been so squeamish. Afraid of the needle, she’s said. She’d still needed him, back then.
Hank tried not to think about it. He needed a clear head. When the white powder had half hardened into candy, half turned to liquid, he stuck the tip of the needle into the spoon and filled the syringe with the dirty brown concoction. Hank hoped it would prove strong enough.
He left the bathroom, descending the stairs to the basement. Lucas waited, tied to the chair with clothesline.
“Okay, buddy,” Hank said. “This should keep you nice and relaxed for a while.”
Lucas nodded. Hank walked over, bent down, examining Lucas’ arm, the bend of his elbow for a suitable vein. He leaned in close.
Lucas lunged at him with a snarl. Hank jerked away. Lucas’ teeth clamped down on the collar of Hank’s shirt. Hank pulled away, the collar tearing.
He was going for my throat!
Hank jabbed the needle into Lucas’ arm and emptied the syringe. He staggered back a few steps.
“You bitch!” Lucas eyes gleamed in the dim light, like crimson jewels lit by an internal flame. His teeth were jagged and sharp, and saliva flecked his lips. “You’d better let me go!”
Hank held the syringe, squeezed tight in his hand. He trembled.
“You’re starting to piss me off, Frye!” The Beast jerked and twisted in the chair. The wood crackled but the clothesline held. He couldn’t break the chair. He couldn’t get free.
Hank leaned on the banister of the stairs for support. He watched the thing that had been–but no longer was–his friend. “What are you?” Hank asked.
The Beast stopped squirming. He stared at Hank, now looking more amused than angry.
“This is where you get the answers to all your questions, huh, Frye?” he said, his voice distorted by the mouthful of oversized teeth. “The man who didn’t believe in me?” He laughed, an ugly, unsettling sound very much resembling a hyena’s bark. “Well, you’re outta luck, bitch. If I ever knew the answers, I’ve forgotten ’em.”
He sat back, relaxing. Maybe the drugs were kicking in. Strong stuff. It shouldn’t take very long.
“But what are you?” Hank demanded. “I need to know.”
The Beast grinned. “I’m your boy Lucas’ dark side,” he said. “The part he is at his deepest core. I’m the beastie lurking in his subconscious. I’m more than that, too. But I can’t remember what I was before.”
“I never believed,” Hank muttered.
“But you do now, don’t you, bitch?” the Beast teased. “Or do you want to weigh and measure me in the lab first? See if you can duplicate the results?” He chuckled.
“You’re making fun of me?” Hank sat down on the bottom step, his heart pounding.
I should’ve taken one of those pills myself.
“What, you think I should be above it?” the Beast said, his words slurring a little now. The drugs were working. “You’re pathetic.”
“I just, I need to understand,” Hank said.
“So you’ll know how to fight me, right?” the Beast said. “Well, give it up, bitch. You can’t.”
Hank stared at him. “But why Lucas?” he asked. “He’s a good man.”
“Even a man who is pure of heart,” the Beast said. He cackled. “Do you think he’s unique? There’s nothing special about Vale. Every man has his own beastie. I’m just stronger than most, that’s all.”
The Beast blew some of the drool from his lips. “Oh, yeah. Every man. Even you.”
Hank didn’t reply.
“You keep yours locked away,” the Beast continued. “You use your books and ideas to keep it in chains. You think you’re something special, but you’re not. A hairless ape with a big brain. But your fur grows on the inside.”
“You don’t know anything about me,” Hank said.
“Oh, I know plenty,” the Beast said. “Even though I can’t remember where I came from or how I got here, I can see right through you. Wanna know what I see? I see a coward. A man who’s scared of anything he can’t explain away. A man who’s afraid of his own shadow, and everybody else’s.”
Hank looked away. He couldn’t stand to meet the gaze of those inhuman eyes. Part of him still refused to accept this was happening. It still seemed like a bad dream.
“You do know Linda was fucking another man, right?”
Hank looked up.
The Beast laughed his hyena laugh. “Oh, yeah. You knew about it. You just wouldn’t admit it.”
“You shut up!” Hank said. “You don’t know anything!”
“I told you, bitch. I can see right through you. I know all about it.” His body slumped, feeling the effects of the drug. But those damned evil eyes were wide awake.
“She had herself another man for six months before she asked for the divorce. Younger guy, in better shape. Better looking.”
“A lot better in the sack.”
“Stop it!” Hank stood. “You’re just trying to hurt me.”
“Hurt? You don’t now anything about hurt yet. But you do know I’m telling you the truth, don’t you?”
“I want to know why…”
“Tell me, Hank,” the Beast interrupted. “Could you taste the other guy’s semen on her lips when you kissed her goodnight?”
“What was the problem, Hank? She was a nice-looking bitch, wasn’t she? Why couldn’t you get it up anymore?”
“Shut up, goddamn you!”
“It stands to reason, if she wasn’t getting any from you, she’d find another guy to put his dick in her.”
Hank turned away. “You go to Hell!”
“I think that’s where I came from,” the Beast said. “She liked to sit on his face, you know.”
Hank shook his head, his foot on the bottom step.
“She loved to try different things. She ever try any of those things with you, Hank? Or did she only become a whore when she was fucking somebody else?”
Hank spun around. “You shut your goddamn mouth!”
“It got to the point she couldn’t even stand to lay next to you, didn’t it, Hank? She couldn’t stand to lay in the same bed with you. Not after she’d been in that bed with a real man.”
Hank tensed, teeth clenched.
“That’s right, Hank. She fucked the guy right in your own bed.”
“Shut up!” Hank took a single step and swung. His fist struck Lucas’ jaw, snapping his head around. Hank backed away, feeling sick. His hand throbbed.
The Beast roared with laughter. He spat blood, shook his head to send globules flying. Blood trickled from both nostrils, dyeing those wicked, jagged teeth crimson.
“See? I told you you had a beastie inside you.”
Hank dropped to a seat on the steps.
“Don’t look now, Hank, but one of those chains just slipped.”
“Is that what you want?” Hank asked. “Baiting me like that? You want me to hurt Lucas?”
The Beast settled down. “Want? Of course not. That was just for kicks. That’s not what I want.”
“Then what do you want?” Hank demanded.
The Beast smiled. Hank had never seen such a horrible thing. It sent chills through him, caused his bowels to fill with water. He shuddered, looking away.
“I want to kill you,” the Beast said. “I want to kill you all.”
“God,” Hank muttered.
“There is no god,” the Beast said. “I ate him. Just like I’m going to eat you. I’m gonna go through this town like a buffet line. A screaming smorgasbord of hot, bloody sweetmeats. You can’t imagine it, Hank. How good it feels. I can do anything to anybody. Fuck them and kill them. Kill them and fuck them. Eat them and shit them back out again. And there’s nothing, nothing that anybody can do to stop me. Nothing at all.”
Hank took a breath. He met the gaze of those eyes.
“You’re wrong. We’ll stop you,” he said, trying to hold his voice together. “Lucas and I will. We’ll stop you.”
* * *
WAYNE MILLER is the owner and creative director of EVIL CHEEZ PRODUCTIONS (www.evilcheezproductions.blogspot.com, www.facebook.com/evilcheezproductions), specializing in theatrical performances and haunted attractions. He has written, produced and directed (and occasionally acted in) over a dozen plays, most of them in the Horror and Crime genres. His first novel, THE CONFESSIONS OF SAINT CHRISTOPHER: WEREWOLF, is available for purchase at https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/734763
MORTUI VELOCES SUNT!