MONDAY DECEMBER 1ST, 1:06 AM
3374 ROSEWOOD BLVD N, CROOKSDALE MINNESOTA
Former homicide detective, Joe “The Saint” Peabody
“This Mutha-Fucken Bullshit!” Joe growls furiously as he ineptly hobbles around in a backyard shed. “Fuck this!”
Painfully low temperatures solidify his life-sustaining humidity and create a dense fog around him. His movements turn awkward as he unsuccessfully fights the deadly weather.
Years of alcoholism, secret addictions, and refusal of basic self-care make him especially vulnerable. However, the six-foot-two, 55-year-old man refuses to acknowledge the possibility of danger. He can only focus on the insane things he’s learned recently.
An hour ago, he barricaded himself in his target’s decaying back-yard shed because it appeared safer than in his car on the street. Since then, the violent winter-assault intensified, creating a thick barrier that would hinder even a strong, healthy man.
Violent winds hijack the heavy snowfall and create momentary light-flashes. These distracting bursts of light keep Joe alert and hopeful. However, the small frosted window now only offers a morphed reflection of himself.
The North-Minneapolis suburb is a hellish prison, but the prison of his mind is worse.
Joe sighs deeply and deflates as grief and pain flood his mind.
He shakily unzips a pocket and retrieves cigarettes, flask, and a cell phone. After swallowing the contents of the flask, he lights a cigarette.
His eyes point expressionlessly at the opposite wall, but his vision is internal. Painful thoughts are almost visible in his eyes.
To distract himself from going into darker thoughts, he opens a recording app and points the receiver to his thick, frost-covered beard.
“I feel dead,” Joe hisses with an exhale of smoke.
“I don’t understand what’s going on. It feels like a fog crept into my brain and I can’t think through this fog.”
“I keep feeling something at the tip of my tongue. Like; I forgot something I’m supposed to know. But, I…”
“My memory is shot. I can’t remember anything.” He takes a deep, pensive breath. His brown eyes tense as thoughts unify.
“It’s 1 a.m. December 1st. This is my 3rd entry on the Van Heart case.” A cloud of smoke dances from his mouth and disappears with the wind pushing through the walls.
“The blizzard fucked me harder than I expected. I came to Van Heart’s place because all the crazy shit but, that was stupid because now I’m trapped.”
“The windows are boarded up and things look burned. It’s hard to know what’s going on in there. I can’t see anything well enough to understand what the hell is going on. Occasionally, I catch glimpses of her, and she looks like I feel. I don’t know if I can keep watching this.”
His recording pauses as his phone dings.
“New notification from: BAT-SHIT CRAZY Lovell Soul” pops up over his case log.
Annoyed with the intrusion, he maneuvers his thick, frost-covered gloves clumsily over the screen.
Her message opens; simple saying: How do you feel now?
We need to reassess this situation. He types. I need to know everything you know. The money isn’t enough anymore, I need answers.
She immediately replies, Call in 1 hour. Everything leads to bigger things.
This is a train wreck! He replies. What am I doing here? I need answers. What exactly are you trying to achieve?
You need me as much as I need you, Lovell retorts.
Joe irately clutches his phone. “Fucking insane bitch!” He yells through clenched teeth.
I’m not dismissing you. Lovell messages. I’m just preparing you. You aren’t ready.
If you can’t even understand me, how are you going to understand the bigger picture?
You should be grateful; I gave you life again.
Irritated, he dismisses the message.
He takes a deep breath to calm himself, but a familiar smell paralyzes him. A floral bouquet and unknown fruit combination reminds him of his wife’s favorite perfume.
“Myrna?” He yelps as his eyes dart around the decrepit shed.
A second passes before he realizes the ridiculousness and feels a stab of anxiety.
Am I insane? He questions internally.
Uncertainty and fear remind him of his earlier doctor appointment where staff stared at him like he was a ghost. Interns couldn’t find his heartbeat and made repeated mention of his unhealthy appearance.
His concern continues to the nightmares that plague him when he doesn’t drink to sleep.
To avoid falling deeper down the despair hole, he returns to the recording app.
“I think I’m losing myself.” He mutters.
His vocalization ignites a fire internally. The agony flushes through and intensifies to anger. All muscles constrict and he releases his emotions in an eruption.
With a shout, he punches through rotting wood nearby. He immediately regrets his outburst as debris rains down on him. An assortment of terrifying things pelts him. A collection of long-deceased animals and unknown skeletal remains blanket everything.
An unusual weight dangles from his shoulder. The front half of a large, mostly-white, domesticated cat snagged his winter wear with its outstretched claws. Joe anxiously removes the cat when he makes eye contact.
Black patches of fur on his face and bright eyes are devoid of any indication of fatality. If he were not missing half of his body, Joe wouldn’t be able to tell he was dead.
The precision dissection was done post mortem because the end gave perfect view of the frozen cat’s organs preserved in ice. The fur drifts with a new wind gust and Joe feels nauseous.
He returns his eyes to the frosted shed window hoping for a clear escape.
Visibility is less than a foot, but the view is no longer paper-white. Strange, dark debris begins to graze the window and Joe’s hair stands on end.
An acrid odor permeates the shed and Joe finally reacts.
He jumps to the door when a terrifying rumble scares him. A blinding light flashes across the window. The view quickly changes from cold-white to a warm-orange.
Joe instinctively shouts in fear, but it’s too late.
The sound of the roaring fire impedes any chance of being heard.
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