TKnC rolls out the red carpet for Rick and this cracking crime horror tale...
FIVE LITTLE KILLERS
Each man watched the fire dance upward into the star-filled sky. Occasionally they glanced at one another, but dared not hold a stare for more than a few seconds, for each man knew very well the capacity for dealing death the others were capable of.
They had gathered around a small campfire in the dense forest, far away from prying eyes, and more importantly, the authorities. Each was the recipient of an unusual invitation from a neutral party who claimed to know each one of them, and also to have “leverage”, as the invite stated, over them as well. The invite also promised significant monetary compensation.
All five men erred on the side of caution, and although skeptical of the origins of the invitation, accepted the request to meet at an impartial location.
Gerry, a young blond-haired man who was no more than twenty years old, spoke up first.
“I killed my first man when I was eighteen,” he boasted with a sly smile. “The idiot was teasing me. I opened up his throat before he could blink. Never knew what hit him.” He glanced around at the others for their reactions.
But his companions didn’t seem to be impressed. He knew he would have to embellish his exploits further.
“Took care of my dad too. He was always on my back, so one day when he wasn’t expecting it…” Still, not much of a reaction.
The old man squinted his foggy eyes and leaned forward. Having eight kills to his name, he prided himself on being able to judge the true nature of fellow evil.
“What’s your name kid?” he asked with raised eyebrows.
“Soferth. Gerry Soferth.”
“Soferth! You’re the punk who killed Randell Soferth, the millionaire developer.”
“That’s me,” Gerry quickly retorted.
“What the heck you do that for? Your freakin’ loaded. You had everything.” His eyes burned brighter than the fire. He’d seen a lot in his long, violent life and he thought he could understand almost everyone, but to see a young kid so rich and still do such terrible things, well, that he just couldn’t get a handle on. His crimes were at least instigated by hard times and bad luck.
Gerry’s smile turned into a sneer.
“That old jerk was always on my back. Every time he had to post bail he complained. So I figured I could do my thing easier without him around.”
The heavily built man straightened up. His chiseled features reflected a person who had to fight his whole life, a man who never had anything handed to him, or expected it to be. Someone who had grown accustomed to life’s harsh lessons and learned to deal with them regardless of the morality of the methods.
“And just what is your…thing?” he asked while sizing up the much smaller man.
Gerry laughed. “I’m here ain’t I? My thing is murder. I’ll kill anyone for any reason. That’s my thing.”
The other men grunted in approval, except for the bearded man.
“My name’s Charles Mathewer,” he stated deeply. “I got my first one just a couple of years ago. Strangled my landlady. Stupid broad asked for it though. She tried to raise my rent! After that, they came real easy. Figure I got about 8 or 9 by now.”
The relaxed manner in which he spoke sent chills through Gerry.
“Strangers on the street, homeless people, heck, I even got a delivery man once,”he continued. “He was a tough one though. Real messy.” His words would have disturbed any normal human being, but solicited only light reactions from the other killers.
The old man stroked his stubbled chin as a look of doubt flashed across his face. “8 or 9 huh?” he asked suspiciously. “Why didn’t they catch ya?”
Mathewer returned a stern look. “Cause I’m good at what I do.” His words echoed with sincerity.
An uneasy silence then settled over the scene with each man glaring at the other. They all knew they must be patient if they were to receive what the invitation had promised; although each was wholly prepared to “move things along” if need be.
A thin, smartly- dressed man suddenly spoke up. He spoke with an English accent that sounded cultured and well educated.
“I disposed of a gentleman during my journey to reach this rather, shall we say unique gathering,” he stated in a proud tone. Straightening his crimson tie, he continued. “A small fellow who was unfortunate enough to cross my path. I must say, though that I am indebted to him for two reasons: one, he managed to direct me here, and two, he allowed me to achieve a milestone if you will…number one hundred. I dare say I was going to be forced to remove one of you gentlemen, but now I feel that will not be necessary.”
Even the other killers were stunned at his casual tone. He spoke of death as if discussing a sports game.
“The name’s Edward Florin of Berkshire. Just arrived in this jolly good country six months ago. Been busy you know, getting myself acquainted with your customs, learning the slang of your language, watching the life run out of people.”
His strong accent added to the chilling effect of his words.
“Scotland Yard has been trailing me for well over two years now. Foolish chaps, they never even knew who I was. I’ve grown quite well into my unique occupation I’ll have you know.”
Gerry looked over at the old man, who in turn glanced at Charles Mathewer. The heavily built man stretched his thick arms out above his head and asked lazily, “What now?”
“Is anyone else coming?” Gerry asked. “Cause if not, I’ve got things to do, people to kill.”
“Oh shut up,” the old man snapped. “I don’t need any rich kid punk telling me…”
Gerry dropped the stick he was using to stir the fire and looked on in stupid amazement as the old man was suddenly hoisted twenty feet straight up and viciously torn in half. Both halves of the body landed with a wet thud near the other shocked men who sat motionless, too frightened to even move. The sheer insanity of what they had just witnessed left each one speechless.
The heavily built man slowly stood up. He fully realized that his strong physique and murderous mind was no match for whatever had killed the old man.
But before he even took a step he was propelled backwards with such force that his body literally disintegrated against a huge oak tree.
Charles Mathewer and Edward Florin exchanged nervous glances and simultaneously withdrew their pistols. The guns shook in their hands as they scanned the woods for movement.
But what was there to shoot at?
Both men looked at each other before sending bullets flying into the night.
Gerry was frozen where he stood, almost as if he were accepting his fate. He could not defend himself; he had no weapon, and fear prevented his legs from working at all. He snatched a smoldering stick from the fire. It provided little defense, but would have to do.
Charles and Edward had emptied their guns and both were frantically fumbling in their pockets for more ammunition.
“What in God’s name was that?” Gerry asked through clenched teeth.
Edward looked over at him, the face of a killer facing his own mortality. “Not quite sure old chap,” he said in an accent that seemed to lose some of its effect. “Not quite…sure.”
No sooner had the words left Edward’s mouth than his head was lopped clean off his body and bounced on the ground behind his still standing body. A thick jet of darkened blood squirted straight into the air from the stump of his neck before the corpse collapsed.
Charles Mathewer had seen enough. He dropped his empty pistol and started to sprint away from the campfire. Gerry watched in amazement, as Charles was sliced cleanly in half at the waist after taking only a few steps. He caught a glimpse of the look of astonishment on Charles’ face before both halves of the body crumpled to the ground in a bloody heap.
Fear rooted Gerry where he stood, preventing him from moving or defending himself.
“Who are you?” he shouted to the trees. “What do you want?” Seconds felt like hours as he waited for either a response or death, in a way, he didn’t really care which one.
He found himself thinking of his father, whom he had killed in an accident. He didn’t know the gun was loaded, and the memory of his father’s blood on the floor, stung like a hot needle.
Gerry had loved his dad despite their distant relationship, and his stupid idea of playing around with a gun cost him his father’s life. Then he had panicked and stumbled out of the house, never looking back, and never thinking about his poor mother. He could only imagine what she went through when she found her husband dead. He definitely learned the hard way that you can run from the law but never from yourself.
Gerry turned when he heard a certain unmistakable noise …the sound of tree branches being snapped high above, maybe fifteen or twenty feet up. Something was making its way towards him…something big, and apparently it didn’t care if it was heard or not.
And not only was it big but also, incredibly enough, invisible.
Gerry stared in disbelief as huge two- digit footprints appeared on the ground ten feet in front of him. Each was more than two feet long and eighteen inches wide. They were depressed into the soil nearly a foot deep.
Gerry wondered if this was the end for him. Was he to be wiped out like the other men? Clamping his eyes shut, he waited for the inevitable, comforted by the fact that the others’ deaths, although violent, were at least quick.
After a few minutes passed he forced himself to open his eyes. There, standing nearly twelve feet tall was an enormous being, which squatted across the fire from him. It vaguely resembled a distorted toad, with several gyrating arms and a belly that bulged out far past its bulbous legs. And even though it was partly transparent its eyes shone in a brilliant blue, and all six of them were coldly fixed on Gerry.
“Hello?” Gerry stuttered like a child. “M…my name’s Gerry.”
The thing leaned forward and shifted its bulk to one side, further crushing the log on which it sat.
“Your companions,” it boomed in a deep drawl which shook the trees. “They were evil. They are eradicated now. Theirs will cause no more death.”
It talked! It, whatever it was, actually knew English! Gerry knew he had to communicate with it, find out what it was, where it came from, what it wanted. But before he could ask, the thing abruptly stood up. It towered over him like a man over a kitten.
“Think of me as one of your police officers,” it said, nearly putting out the fire with its rancid breath. “Merely an officer doing his duty.” And then it was gone, leaving huge footprints, the remains of the other men, and a very shaken young man in its wake.
Gerry flopped to the ground in an exhausted heap. He wished he had a drink to calm his nerves. He looked around at the carnage that surrounded him and promptly emptied his stomach. The stench of death made him light-headed, and his back ached, but he was alive. And he thanked God that killing his father had only been an accident.
I'm an avid reader and writer who has had nearly 200 publications so far and recently finished my fourth anthology book, AS MEAN AS THE NIGHT, available on Lulu and Amazon. I'm working on my first novel and am editor of Many Midnights (my own horror fiction ezine).