The thirsty dog
My monstrous companion and I had found ourselves a quiet spot in an exceptionally seedy and hole in the wall. The thirsty dog was styled in a way that suggested it was an old English pub. By the looks of it, it was just as old and had not seen a broom or a mop since the witches burned. Their ashes probably still swept under the ancient rugs.
The place had obviously had something of a makeover. A television playing nothing but sports, football, the American variety, a broken jukebox in the corner. It was fairly cosy place fashioned in all dark woods, drafty, teaming with dark corners and seemingly dark history.
We’d positioned ourselves in a corner booth that was fashioned into a little room. Inside old pictures hung on the walls and there was a false fireplace in the corner. The pictures were of an eclectic variety. Spanning from old pictures of antiquated farm equipment and dishevelled old barns. To noblemen with an odious pretraecian aspect to them. Their mouths much larger than normal and their eyes rounded and glassy and bulging. The bar ran by our right side, the corner poking out like a crooked elbow towards the entrance. We had us a full view of people coming and going and the bar itself while allowing us to be neatly tucked out of sight.
My cohort dozed in the corner with his long black coat over his head so no curious old geezer might recognise him. It seemed that his new body needed lots of rest but as far as food I’d seen him neither eat nor drink a morsel since we met. As for myself having no stomach or any organs to speak of made the act utterly superlative.
He’d left me on watch as I had little more purpose. It may have been startling for the patrons to see a disembodied head even if it was alive and more or less so. I was securely hidden in something a kin to a bowling ball bag but was more or less a thick duffel bag he’d acquired during my sleeping hours. I was inside it and could see through a series small holes he’d made along the sides of the bag.
We were waiting for something but for what I was not certain but I was made certain that I would know it when I saw it.
The bar was quiet as it was early and only regulars sat like squat frogs, old men plastered to their seats watching and not watching the tv. Drifting in and out of consciousness, waiting for some great wind to waft them away.
I had no idea how long it had been since the incident at the asylum, or even what day it was, having no wrist to keep a watch or way of consulting a calendar. I was growing very bored of being like one of those little dogs women like to carry in their purses, small but altogether useless. Few people came and went and none of very much interest, two old women shaking a tin for some such charitable work, a homeless drunk wandering in and out. It had been maybe an hour or more before someone interesting arrived.
He was a small stout man of maybe late twenties early thirties with a dark stubbly beard wearing running bottoms. Although I can’t attest to how much running he did and a sweatshirt with a banal slogan on it. His hair was loose and unwashed and his manner was light of foot for a man his size, with boyish soft features and skin. A doughy featureless blob of a human being but nevertheless carrying some dark aura of imminent threat. He addressed the barman curtly, his dark heavy lidded eyes and unwashed face scanning him with some esoteric suspicion. A curl of anger or fear at his lips as I watched him talk without hearing his words. I had some slight talent of reading lips but he was turned away slightly and I could only make out ‘Looking for me’.
The barman looked nervous and all together reluctant to do anything more than polish bar glass and wanted to keep very much to himself. But after some prodding from the shadey figure he subtly nodded his head in the direction of the room I and my strange cohort inhabited.
The stout youth cast a wary but cautious glance in our direction and started to inch his way across the bar in our direction. He kept his head down as he worked his way down the bar. Trying to look as casual as possible while being anything but. His hand tightly gripping something in his sweatshirt pocket as he laboured his way towards us, his pale flabby face turning a bright pink.
He stopped at the jukebox and pretended to browse songs as he took a long sideways glance through the ajar door. Through it I can imagine he could only see Ericcson’s shoes as he was laid out on the booth sleeping like a corpse completely motionless. He put on some loud rock music with excessive symbol bashing and continued to edge closer to the room we occupied.
He got to the door of the room and without taking the pistol out of his sweatshirt pocket he prodded the door open as slow as possible the rest of the way.
His face was cold and damp looking as he starred glassy eyed with his thick lipped mouth hanging open. His tongue working up spittle as he probed the room with his eyes licking the dry corners of his mouth.
A small satisfied smile curled the corners of his mouth as he saw Ericcson fast asleep in the corner of the booth. The man slowly forced the rest of his bulk around the thin glass door before quietly shutting it behind his wide frame.
He took the gun all the way out of his sweatshirt pocket hunching forward and silently moved closer to the sleeping figure under the coat.
I watched him as like some sort of fat cat he stalked closer to my daemoniac partner. The small calibre automatic pistol gripped tightly in his cherub like chubby mitt. His face swirling with self loathing and vile hatred and fear, sweating and pinkish, his breath laboured and guttural sounding.
He passed the bag I was occupying and out of my line of sight and crept closer to the sleeping Ericcson.
“Erm excuse me”
“Who the hell’s there!” The man whispered nervously as he heard my disembodied voice.
“Erm, could you please not shoot my friend, we’d just like to talk to you, nobody has to get hurt.”
He leapt back towards the door, every hair on his body standing electric. His eyes wide with a nameless terror as he heard my voice seemingly coming from nowhere.
“Who is that? Where are you?” He whispered again, his face streaming with sweat as he turned in every direction, looking all about him like the devil had his scent.
“I’m in the bag, no need to look”.
“This is a trap!”
“Well, not in so many words, we just want to talk with you.”
“I wont say a damn word to you, y-you freak!”
He was inconsolable, he strained his fat face, squeezing his cheeks tightly as if he were passing a kidney stone. He pressed the small gun in both hands and aimed it meaning to shoot at the sleeping Ericcson which he thought the source of the ventriloqual voice.
He squeezed the trigger with all his strength closing his dark pitted eyes. He squeezed a few more times before he realised the hammer wasn’t falling.
“Niall Letho, we finally meet, I’ve heard a lot about you” Ericcson said from under his coat.
Niall stood agasp as my partner lifted the coat smiling a horrible inhuman smile and he rose as if lifted by invisible stage rigging. Niall looked down at his gun bemused at why it would not fire. Shrieking silently as he saw it was gummed up with some sort of translucent ichor the hammer held in place by a stygian invisible tentacle. “No, it can’t be, this can’t be real”
“It’s very real. I’m afraid.”
We ‘questioned’ the poor lad for what felt like hours. Whenever he tried to scream a thick tendril around his throat tightened until his throat muscles loosened. No sound of his undoubtedly terrible pain could be heard over the sound of the tv and the cries of the townsfolk cheering on their team.
I can hardly bare to describe the monstrous techniques Ericcson employed to question the lad. But I fear I must impart some suggestion of the blasphemous work to draw a full conclusion from the read.
He held the boy as if in some kind of torturous rack of those dark ages the pictures on the walls suggested of. Like a witch he was held tightly while certain appendages were stretched and loosened at intervals. As large as some as an arm or leg and small like a tooth or an eye.
Ericcson made him fear for his very atoms as every inch was felt a crushing control from this otherworldly abomination. Letting no hope or courage or sense of self penetrate the black crushing depths of his abysmal power.
“Please god!” He mumbled.
“Please god, please god.” Ericcson repeated mockingly.
It occurred to me we wouldn’t even have known of Letho if he hadn’t been such a jovial figure in the neighbourhood. A boastful waistral known to the townsfolk as some dabbler in the occult. But little more than a folly for some greater practitioner of the arcane he seemed to have some fancy for. He had been reported as boasting of some brush with a famous painter and some dark hoodoo practiced in the dead of night. Summoning some awful power from beyond the stars. The townsfolk took it for the aimless boasts of an aimless boaster, the silly fairytale of a basement dwelling nerd. Even his name was a shameless boast, stolen as it was from some old story of a powerful magi who stalked the earth aeons past only spoken of in whispers.
This was not the same being, a shabby, flabby wretch but yet pitiable in his aspect. A man child, a lover of fantasy so swept up in his games he failed to see the disaster his stumbling had wrought. But now it was apparent to him that those dark powers were not his playthings anymore. Now he was the insect on it’s back having it’s wings pulled off under the looking glass.
I watched with some slight trepidation, fearing almost to look away but also having no fear as I was already dead. I fear some things are much worse than death as Letho undoubtledly learned that day. His face relaxing as he finally died relieved and peacable. Loose as it was from the stretching gurning faces he had made from the long agonous questioning.
It took him possibly four hours to die, it could have been longer. As I said, I don’t have a watch, and it seemed as if Ericcson had somehow plucked us both out of space and time into something of a pocket dimension of his own fancy. It may seem callous but lacking a heart has without irony hardened me somewhat. Having my own mortality questioned and bent has seemingly jaded me to the daily mortal struggle.
But even so it was horrible and if I had had a stomach I would have wretched as he reached inside his mouth with those black tendrils. Deeper yet inside him to grip his heart and squeeze it until it burst.