Here we are with part three of this latest serial piece. I might not have mentioned this in the past but the overall story actually has a name, Guardian Touched by Silent Waves. Ya it probably doesn’t make any sense but I can dig that. Makes it all the more fun as we move through the strange world that is unfolding before us.
With this installment we do find ourselves taking a slightly odd turn. But you won’t get any spoilers from me. As always you can reacquaint yourself or catch up with the story so far by following the links below.
Hammer out the Flames
A dark stain, smeared across the floor. The body had been drug to where it rested. Who would do such a thing? He shook with a chill that traveled up and down his spine and suffused the rest of his flesh. Hank spun around, he could feel eyes on him from all directions, but he saw nothing in the darkness.
With a wave of his hand he cleared the flies away from the face enough to get a glimpse before they returned to cover it again. Terrence, just as he feared. Would explain why he hadn’t noticed when he left. He never did.
Hank whipped out his phone and flipped through various numbers in his contact list. Before he hit send for his boss’ number he stopped and typed in 911. His mind felt scattered, disconnected as he stared at the number, his thumb hovering over the green send button.
He pressed the button and was greeted with static. The call didn’t go through, didn’t attempt to connect. He flipped through a few old numbers and tried the first one he thought he might get an answer from, again static. The chill returned, his body shook with it. He hugged himself tight to fight back into some warmth as his teeth chattered.
Hank left the building, he left the body where it was and made sure he didn’t leave anything that might tie him to this. He would call the cops from his car, had to be the building messing with his phone. Without thinking about it, maybe it was simply a reflex he realized he had set up a text to Jen. What could it hurt, he thought as he typed out a message. “Serious shit going down!” Short, probably cryptic but he hoped that it might get her attention. That’s if the text broke through what ever had been jamming his phone.
Within seconds of the text shooting from his phone he heard a trilling ring near the edge of the building. The noise was oddly familiar. That had been the thought that passed his forebrain just before a slim form stepped out of the shadows.
“What’s going on?” Jen said. She held a baseball bat in her hand, that swung lightly above the ground. She had a strange quality to how she stood before him. Swaying back and forth, not much but enough to be out of place. The bat in her hand seemed a bit too much as well.
“Jen?” Hank fought the urge to step forward. The voice at the back of his head, his guide in times of trouble screamed at him to move away, get away. “I thought you left for school?”
“I came back for you, lover,” she said. Her eyes didn’t blink as her gaze never left him.
Hank looked around him, searched for something to shove between them. He needed distance but he still wasn’t sure why, though the bat seemed a bit menacing. “We broke up,” he said. “You said you needed some space.”
“I found some space,” she said. “I came back to share it with you.” A grave-like quality suffused her voice. Hank felt an emptiness that dug deep into his flesh.
She stepped toward him. Slow, staggering, steps like she was unsure of her footing on the pavement. He glanced around the area, open ground, he could run in any direction. But why did he feel an urge to run. Something wasn’t right about the situation.
The bat came up, high into the air. That was it, he side stepped away from Jen and kept just out of reach of the bat. Air whushed past his face as the bat missed him by mere inches. “What the hell?” he said. “You killed Terrence?”
“Yes, yes I did,” she said. “It was unfortunate. I thought he was you.” She lunged and swung the bat at his face. She was quick but the swing went wide and forced her to catch her breath to recover.
Hank stepped in and grabbed her bat hand wrist. Held tight she couldn’t swing it again. “That’s enough of that,” he said. “What the hell is wrong with you. You broke up with me.”
“You’d say that wouldn’t you.” She twisted and pulled, slipped her hand free of his grip though she had to release the bat to do it. With a downward kick she stomped on his foot and pulled away from him. The bat fell out of her reach.
Hank stumbled back, hopped on his uninjured foot. The bat clanged to the ground but neither of them stood close enough to grab it. The both raised their eyes from the ground and linked their gazes. A stalemate that neither wanted to concede. Too much power to the other and the bat could crush the skull of the loser in this battle. He broke the new silence. “You did it. You ended everything before you went back to school.”
“I don’t know that you noticed this,” she said. “But I never went back to school.” Her body swayed with the warm night breeze. “You never were good at picking up on clues.”
Hank had only seen her like this once before. She had gotten drunk at a frat party at her school, a lost weekend a while back that he visited her at school. She wasn’t necessarily a violent drunk, but drink made her do some strange things. “Truce,” he said. “Let’s hold this off. I don’t think you are in a condition to control much of what you do right now.”
If he hadn’t been looking into her eyes he might not have seen it. There was a change, subtle, strange, but a change he could not mistake. At the moment he said control her eyes blinked, but not in a normal way. They blinked sideways, like there was a second set of eyelids underneath the ones out in the open. He remembered it from a movie he once saw but the reality was a bit of a trial against his sanity. He couldn’t speak, his mind blank, as he watched intently for the second set of eyelids to blink again. Intent on her eyes his peripheral vision closed off like a dark tunnel. He didn’t see the flash of her hand as she brought it forward in a fist. Her knuckles slammed into his throat and crushed his windpipe.
Hank fell to the ground gasping for air. She stepped past him, a moment as she passed used to step on his open hand on the ground. He screamed in pain and pulled it back, away from a second stomp.