Ask for Lucas
What we learnt from Letho was feeble, as it appeared Ericcson’s true quarrel was no amateur braggart. Letho guarded his identity with much more zeal as we could ascertain not even a physical description. The way he described it, it appeared they’d met on some role playing forum devoted to some obtuse writer of cult fame.
With some peculiarity they’d struck an ospicious bargain to meet masked at Ericcson’s house. Then to carry out the crime never having met in person without their masks. Coming in separate cars and leaving alone after committing the crime.
It seemed very strange to me but upon remembering my circumstances it didn’t seem too far out of the realm of possibilities. It had occurred to me Ericcson could not be the killer of his wife and most if not all of what he said was confirmed by this complete stranger. If his testimony could be verified as correct through the inhuman torture Ericcson inflicted on him.
There was something that gave me pause, a moment of strange clarity as Ericcson asked him softly and grimly why he did it. There was almost a moment of confusion, as if the question was obvious or didn’t even occur to him. His eyes rolled in his head and glazed over for a moment before he looked at Ericcson with a stark dumb cow-like expression before saying “Huh”.
Although he didn’t prove totally useless, a quick turnover of his pockets turned out a card from an erotic bookstore on the other end of town. There was a small note written on the back in pencil that said “Ask for Lucas”.
A thorough search of his phone elicited a series of messages from someone only listed as ‘L’ in his contacts. It seemed like no minor coincidence. Was it possible that one or two of the accomplices had broken the bonds of their anonymity packed and made contact in the real world unmasked? Or at the very least planned to do so.
It seemed altogether likely and since Ericsson and I had little else to go on it was pertinent for us to at least call the number. And do as the note had instructed; ‘ask for Lucas’.
Stealing himself away in some small coffee shop closer to the edge of town, the town of which was littered with them. Full to the brim with all manner of social outcasts all tapping away with their heads down under woollen hats. Sadly I lacked a notion for directions even when my head was attached to its body. After the separation it was much harder for me to orientate myself despite the fact it seemed to be more important than ever. I couldn’t say where exactly we were with what little I could see from the hole in the bag. I could smell the coffee and the lonely desperation of its patrons. The nasally cries of adolescents asking for increasingly innane concoctions of coffee all containing soy.
He began to punch in the number on the card of Letho’s phone, of which we had commandeered as at present he had no use for it. The image of his deflated corpse passed in front of my eyes suddenly but I felt no tinge of guilt or human sorrow. Just a pale flash of rememberance, a filing away of a person. In my memory he sat hunched, looking flat and pale and dull. His eyes and mouth inhumanely stretched in indescribable horror as a black ichor dripped out of every orifice. A wrinkling of my nose was the only reaction and an odd sinking feeling as I knew I would have to see more. Much more before the day was through riding as I was on the right hand of the devil.
He held the phone to his ear listening as it rang. It rang two or three times before a nasal voice of what could have been a teenage boy or a young woman answered and uttered the vile name of the place she worked. A vapid disgusting pun relating to sexual acts I feel no need to glorify in my notes. Needless to say she said them with some shrill glee that peaked at a dull metronome having said it many times before. Each time losing it’s charm and comic timing for her.
“Hi this is Debbie, what fantasy can I fulfil for you today?” She said. Her voice was hoarse and unfeminine.
“I was told to ask for Lukas”
“Lukas isn’t here today”
“Do you know when he’ll be in?”
“Jeez, I dunno, why don’t you ask him?”
“Do you have his house number?”
“He’s the boss, of course I have his house number but I’m not gonna give it out to every random guy that calls.”
“He’s an old friend of mine.”
“Oh yeah? How many piercings does he have in his face?
“Wrong answer asshole, he doesn’t have any piercings- in his face”. And with that she slammed the phone down and the line went dead.
“Well that was unproductive” I said.
It didn’t take him long to find the seedy little hole in the wall, sandwiched as it was between a dry cleaners and another damnable coffee shop. A small flat single storey boxy building with blacked out windows and a stainless steel door.
Ericcson pushed it open with me swinging by his side. A chinchy chime rang over the door. Looking over the racks overflowing with the worst smut and degenerate filth there was a girl flipping through the pages of a magazine.
Ericcson had taken now to wearing something of a disguise but sunglasses indoors in my opinion did little to detract attention. But it seemed he’d also gained some sensitivity to light with his new found, I’m reluctant to say ‘powers’.
He marched briskly to the counter stopping not one second to cast a curious gaze at the layers of smut and filth covering all four walls. I almost felt a little thankful that I had lost all urges relating to these acts with losing the relevant appendages. Viewing them in this form made my non-existant stomach churn, acts both degrading and unsanitary to say the least. It boggled the mind that there was such a species with as little taste and decorum as this. That almost took it’s reproductive act as some sort of sport or sad melancholy cynical joke.
I was placed on the counter in the duffel bag that had become my home. Ericcson looked at the woman behind the counter but she did not look up from her magazine except for a flutter of a heavily darkened lid.
She was a somewhat pretty young thing but for a piggish upturned nose and caked black and purple makeup covering a heavily potmarked face. Further desecrated by a series of piercing including one through the middle of said upturned nose. Finishing the farm yard animal mystique she evidently was aiming for.
Her hair was just as ghastly. Shaved on both sides with a lopsided fringe died in a series of clashing colours and a matronly bun on top. She wore a loose fitting black tank top to show off her heavily tattooed and pale flabby arms.
Ericcson said nothing and just stared directly at her letting her ignore him for what seemed like an uncomfortable amount of time. Even for a disembodied head and I was thinking of saying something. But before I could clear my throat-
“Is there something I can help you with?” She asked without looking up from her magazine of what appeared to be genital piercings. You would never know the joys of not having a stomach.
“Is Lukas here?”
“No Lukas is not here, Lukas is never here, you’d know that if- Oh for fucks sake, you’re that guy that was just asking about him aren’t you?”
“Look buddy, I’m not gonna give a random stranger my boss’s address, I’ll lose my job or worse. I could end up in one of his little private film projects.”
“Give? Who said anything about giving?” His voice buzzed with a hollow quality, as if whispered from the bottom of a well.
“Wait what are you talking about?” The girl got in an indignant lump in her throat that made her look like a pale toad for a moment.
“I’m gonna show you something” Ericcson said has he took off his sunglasses.
“There’s nothing you can show me I haven’t seen before” The girl said arrogantly turning her head and puffing out her throat.
Her demeanor changed gradually, from arrogant posturing petulance to shy wonderous horror. Like she was counting the teeth inside the mouth of a whale as she was slowing being consumed.
Under his sunglasses his eyes were blackened as if they were covered in pitch. There was that ichor leaking from them and moreover something moved beneath the lids. A slimy squamous writhing like a slug but with more muscular agency and vile purpose. Those thick stygian tentacles started to protrude from his face. Pieces of them flopped onto the counter splashing that thick black slime all over it.
His face didn’t move and he didn’t make a sound, his skin moving and parting like it was a rubber mask or a blow up dummy filled with that blasphemous evil. Only a wicked smile like an echo remained as his face seemed to burst like a big black boil.
“Thanks” Ericcson said as he put the sunglasses back over his eyes. His face looking waxen and slick like a freshly set waxwork dummy, that smile carved there it seemed.
Needless to say the girl was a lying on the floor in a puddle of god knows what babbling incoherently to herself by the end of it. She started to rip the piercing out of her face and eat them one by one laughing madly as she bit down on them with a horrible cracking sound. She told us everything almost as soon as she could remember to speak. Her body seized and her veins protruding from her neck and head. Encased in a state of wondrous terror, disgust and I suspect with a bad taste in my mouth – arousal.
Ericcson didn’t even need to disembowel her like he did that other wretch Lethotep, no breaking fingers or extracting teeth. Seeing her own reflection in that black abyss was enough to open a flood gate of madness waiting just over the horizon. To see the real world torn open like a scab before your own eyes revealing the fleshy putrescent ambivalence waiting just below the surface.
I wondered then how close every man was to madness and how little prodding it would take.