THERIOPHOBIA: FEAR THE BEAST Part 29
Chaney found the house without much effort, matching up the faux-brass letters mounted just to the right and above the front door with the address from the phone book. Shiny peel-and-stick letters on the mailbox at the curb confirmed it. The street terminated in a wide circle before Hank Frye’s house, a two-level white house that looked like somebody’s grandparents ought to live there, flanked by more modern brick homes. Other cars were parked in the cul-de-sac, some in driveways and some around the curb, but Chaney didn’t see anyone around. Not that she would have let it stop her if she had.
She got out of the Camaro, walked around and let out Chester. Already the big dog seemed agitated. He stayed right at Chaney’s side, eyeing the house.
“Let’s go, boy.” Chaney climbed the single step up onto the narrow porch. A bead of sweat ran down her neck, tickling her, and she swatted at it like she would an insect. She knocked on the front door so hard it hurt her knuckles. She waited a minute and knocked again, even harder. Chester growled, pawing the concrete porch.
“Come on,” Chaney said. She led Chester around the side of the house. The back yard looked to have once held a large garden, now allowed to grow over with grass, yet the furrows were still visible. Some granpa’s little vegetable garden, or maybe granma’s flowers. Both dead now, no doubt, and Hank Frye living in their house. Maybe Hank Frye had killed them.
Chaney paused at the back door, feeling an instant’s hesitation.
What if he’s got a gun or something?
Her sister’s face flitted across her mind, driving away all fear. The door’s upper half, painted a light peach color that didn’t match the rest of the exterior, held a checkerboard of small glass panes. Chaney looked around the yard, the dead garden and one leaning walnut tree, the remains of a grapevine shored up by a lattice. No rocks or sticks. Chaney dug in her purse, finding nothing useful there either.
At last she used the purse itself. She hit one glass panel three times with it, using both hands. The glass shattered on the fourth. Chaney reached through the panel, careful of the shards, and ran her hand up and down the door frame. She twisted the deadbolt, found the doorknob and flipped the lock. The door opened and Chaney stepped inside.
The dog bounded past her with a snarl.
“Chester?!” She followed him to an open doorway and a set of stairs. The big dog galloped down the steps into darkness. She heard him growling like mad somewhere below.
“Chester, wait!” Chaney hurried down the steps, fumbling along the wall for a light switch, grateful to find one. At the bottom of the stairs, Chester reared up against a single door. A door that had been boarded up.
Chaney jumped the last few steps. Image after image flashed through her mind like a frenetic slideshow, each one more horrific than that before it. A torture chamber, a woman’s body, blood. A scene from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Body parts dangling from hooks. Jeffrey Dahmer.
Chester reared, jumped back, reared again. Foam dripped from his jowls, the short fur along his spine standing in a stiff ridge. But he couldn’t get through the door.
Chaney saw a toolbox on the floor beside them. She grabbed the toolbox and dumped its contents, grabbed a claw hammer. She’s still alive! Chaney repeated as she tore at the boards. She has to be! Chaney had been right about Hank Frye. She would be right about this too. She’s alive.
A board came free and Chaney went to work on another.
“Marley!” Chaney realized she’d been screaming her sister’s name all this time. Chester barked and snarled, pawing the floor, leaping against the door. A second board came lose.
“Marley, it’s me! I’m here!”
No answer came from the other side of the door.
“Please!” Chaney muttered, her words becoming sobs as she strained at the nails. The last board came loose. Chaney tried the doorknob. It wouldn’t turn. She hit it with the hammer, again, breaking it off.
Chaney spun around. Someone was coming down the stairs. Hank Frye.
“God, no!” he shouted.
Chaney opened hr mouth to give Chester the command, the one she’d never expected to use: KILL.
The door flew open, slamming into her, knocking her down. As she fell, she saw Chester leap past her, snarling. She heard a yelp, then nothing more.
Hank Frye stood on the bottom step, not moving, not speaking. Chaney rolled over. A man stepped out of the doorway. Chaney thought she recognized him.
Only it wasn’t.
He looked down at her. Red eyes gleamed in the dim light. His face seemed elongated, distorted. When he smiled at her, it revealed two rows of jagged yellow razor blades. Teeth. Lots of teeth.
“Lucas!” Hank Frye said. The other turned to look at him.
“Guess what, Hank?” he asked, more of a growl than a voice. “I’m out of my cage.” He laughed. At least if such a thing could laugh, he laughed. He looked back down at the girl at his feet.
“Well, now. Chaney Kidde, isn’t it? I’ve been looking forward to meeting you.”
The way he said her name made her feel sick, like she needed to vomit. The familiarity it implied, spoken almost with gentleness.
“My, my, Little Red Riding Hood, what big tits you have.”
Chaney felt dizzy and weak, faint. She fought to keep from passing out, knowing that if she lost consciousness now she would never regain it.
“Vale liked your video, you know,” he said. “He had dreams about fucking you.”
“Leave her alone!” Hank Frye shouted.
“Make me.” He–it–took a step towards Frye.
Chester leapt through the door and onto Vale’s back with a roar that shook the masonry of the house. Vale fell on top of Chaney. She wriggled out from under him, rolling away.
“Chester!” she shouted. “Kill! Kill!”
But the big dog didn’t need to be told. In its marrow, its blood, the brute recognized an ancient enemy, an adversary of the natural world. The dog’s every instinct screamed out that this thing must be destroyed, or else Chester himself must perish in the attempt.
Chaney watched as the dog and the thing that bore the form of a man rolled over and over on the concrete floor. The jaws of each sought the other’s throat. Hank Frye skirted the two beasts, catching Chaney by the arm and pulling her to her feet.
“We have to get out of here!”
Chester yelped as the thing sank teeth into the dog’s shoulder; claws, growing where there should have been fingernails, raked the animal’s sides, tearing away strips of skin and hair. The Beast pitched the dog off and sprang to his feet. Chester reared up to meet him. The two stood chest to chest in a macabre dance, snarling, snapping.
Chester found an opening and clamped his jaws down on the other’s throat. The Beast almost fell beneath the attack. Then Chaney watched in horror as the Beast lifted Chester off the ground as though picking up a tiny puppy, turned and slammed the big dog into the wall. Chester hit the masonry, released his hold on the other’s neck with a yelp. They stumbled into the hot water heater, tearing loose a copper pipe. Steaming water began to spray out over the room in a small geyser.
“Chester!” Chaney said.
The Beast set his legs, lifting Chester again and rammed him against the wall a second time. He dropped the big dog. With a shudder, Chester lay still on the floor in a growing puddle of water. The Beast turned.
The remains of Vale’s shirt, the undershirt beneath were soaked with blood. Blood trickled down his arms, dripped from his fingers. Chester had torn a ragged wound in the man’s throat. The Beast teetered on his feet.
Hank Frye grabbed up one of the loose boards from the floor. He swung as the Beast lunged at him. The board clattered away as the Beast grabbed Hank, pushing him back into the corner. Bloody hands closed around Hank’s throat.
Chaney grabbed up the hammer from the floor and hit the thing that was not Lucas Vale as hard as she could. The claw end of the hammer sank deep into the Beast’s shoulder. The Beast dropped to a knee, releasing Hank Frye, who slumped to the floor. He reached back and wrenched the hammer free. Chaney watched as he stood, turning towards her.
“You little bitch!”
The Beast came after her.
She started up the stairs, made it halfway. The Beast grabbed her ankle. Chaney fell. The Beast scrambled after her on all fours. Chaney kicked at him. He kept coming, climbing on top of her.
“Come here, little bitch!” the Beast said. “Gonna gnaw on them titties!”
“No!” Chaney tried to push him off. The Beast buried his face between her breasts. She screamed.
They lay still.
Chaney lifted the Beast’s head. The face staring back at her had become a man’s face again. The eyes stared at her, unblinking, a man’s eyes. The mouth hung open. It held no monstrous teeth. Chaney felt warm blood washing over her, soaking through her clothes. A man’s blood. Whatever else might have been there had gone.
In death, Lucas Vale had become human once more.
* * *
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!