Wednesday, 14 October 2009
THINE IS THE KINGDOM - by Lee Hughes
The inimitable Lee is back with the latest part of his classic tale...
Part Ten of the Osseous Box.
THINE IS THE KINGDOM
Tobin Preacher was out pinching rooks from the sky when he stumbled upon the thread of blood.
His knuckles grew white as his grip tightened upon the sack of rooks.
He looked back towards the farm, he knew he should go and fetch his father.
Watching the mountain had been the life's work of his father. As it had his father before him, so forth and so forth, back to the darkest of times.
He knelt and touched the blood.
He knew what it heralded. Again, he thought of going back. However, there was the fear that he might be 'crying wolf'
Tobin straightened, worked the bolt on the rifle to spit out the spent shell and fed in a new one.
They'd known that there was something important buried on the mountain. The Preacher family had been holding a vigil over it, waiting for this very day.
They didn't know much about what it was hiding. They knew just enough to know that they were doing the Lord's work. Moreover, that it was inevitable that the day would come when it was uncovered. When that happened, it was their job to keep it a secret and re-bury it somewhere safe.
Tobin made easy work of Snaefell, long sure strides ate up the distance.
He slowed as he reached the summit. He watched the ribbon of blood coursing towards the Visitor's Centre.
Tobin was surprised that his older brother Vinnie hadn't noticed the phenomena and investigated.
Vinnie worked as the cook in the little cafe whilst his mother worked the Visitor's Centre. They'd figured it was the best way to keep an eye on the place whilst Tobin and his father took care of the farm.
The cafe was empty.
Vinnie would be at the back of the kitchen having a smoke.
The first thing he saw when he went through into the kitchen was his brother slumped dead on the floor with a knife planted in his face.
Tobin became awash with rage.
He snapped the rifle to ready. He was already thinking the worst for his mother.
He moved as if he was on the hunt as he worked his way to the door of the visitors centre.
With the door open, he saw a man standing with a shovel raised. He also recognized his mother's shoes poking out from behind the counter.
Tobin didn't hesitate. He trained his aim and put a lump of .22 into the man's shoulder.
The man spun and dropped to the floor.
Tobin looked around and saw another two dead bodies. A woman with her throat cut and a man who'd been beaten to death.
He walked over to where his mother's feet were sticking out. He needed to see the rest of her, see what the bastard had done to her.
Strangled, the monster had strangled her. In return, he had shot the monster, which, however wouldn't be enough. He felt like putting another bullet in, this one in the man's brow. He took the blanket from the woman with the sliced throat and used it to hide his mother.
At the hole he stared at what the man had been about to bash. It was a box, about the size of a chest from a boy's pirate comic. This one was crude and made of bone.
Tobin stared at the man. The wound wasn't fatal. The man had blacked out through shock. He'd seen the same happen with birds and small animals, alive but inert.
Tobin pulled the shovel from the man's grip and tossed it. He looked into the man's pale face and couldn't for the life of himself see anything of the madman or murderer in his features.
"He's saving it."
Tobin knew that voice. He'd gone to school with him. "Mord…" he let it hang, as there was no one there.
"The Beast has been working through minions to find the box and to break it, freeing an abomination that could bring Hell to Earth. The man you just shot, Jon, he was helping me to find it."
Tobin listened to the vapid voice learning what it was that he had to do.
Tobin knelt beside the man. This was all new; he'd removed bullets before from rabbits. However, they'd been dead; you didn't need to perform surgery when you were readying them for the cooking-pot.
He got the toolbox from out the back and wrenched the bullet free with a pair of needle-nose pliers
Jon's eyes flew open and he screamed. His eyes were wild as if he didn't know where he was. He slumped back down and began to remember.
Jon's teeth clenched when he hissed. "Fucking bastard!" He flung up the fist that was connected to his good shoulder.
Tobin managed to move most of his head in time but still managed to earn himself a jarred-jaw.
"Hey!" Tobin pushed himself backwards to get out of the way in case Jon tried to have another go. Tobin made fists and wanted to give him one back twice as hard.
He loosened the fists and used a hand to rub at his jaw instead.
Jon looked down at his bared shoulder and the swelling about the puckered hole.
"You shot me."
"I thought you were breaking the box."
Jon looked up and thought about what had been going through his mind in the moments before being shot. If he was being honest with himself then he had to admit that there was something inside his head urging him on to break it open.
"Next time try a rugby tackle." Jon managed a dry smile. Even that trinket of a smile vanished when his eyes took in Beth's body.
Tobin noticed him staring at the dead woman.
"Your wife?" Tobin asked.
"No. Only met her for the first time yesterday, she was only helping me. Now she's dead. She was covered before you shot me, where's the blanket?"
Tobin pointed at the feet that still stuck out from behind the counter.
"I took it from her."
"Why?" Jon's eyes hardened.
"She's my mother. The man, the one in the kitchen, that's my brother."
Jon's eyes softened. In the real-life game of Paper, Scissors, and Rock, dead mother beats dead librarian.
Jon nodded over to the first-aid box.
"Can you do the honours?"
"Sure, was gonna patch you up but you came to."
Jon winced as he pulled the tourist tee-shirt down over the crude dressing on his shoulder. It looked like it had been done in the style, a La Generation Game.
Jon nudged the Box with his feet. "We were planning on dumping this thing."
Tobin nodded. "We still are. We need to go back to the farm and tell my father about mum and Vinnie. Hopefully he'll also know what to do next."
"Why would he know what to do next?"
"The Preachers have been keeping watch on this mountain since the first Preacher, way back when."
Jon gave a lopsided shrug. The young man before him seemed a little too calm considering his mother and brother had been murdered on the same day. He couldn't help but ask, he still had a copper's curiosity.
"You don't seem all bent out of shape considering, you know." He tipped his head towards the feet.
Tobin looked to the bashed in remains of the man who had slain most of his family. "Who's there to get mad at?"
Jon conceded it made sense, although not much. "Let's get a shift on. It's starting to get dark and I'm pretty sick of this mountain. In fact I'm sick to the back teeth of this island."
Tobin started Vinnie's car.
Tobin had driven it off road from the car park and up to the visitor centre.
Jon didn't want to look in the backseat. Tobin hadn't wanted to leave his family on the mountain. So, they were sprawled on the backseat in some kind of clumsy embrace.
Tobin had said there was room for Beth. It had given Jon the vision of an old joke, how many elephants can you fit in a mini? Only there were no elephants, just dead people.
She'd be fine where she was. He just wanted to get the box hidden again before it all came out and there they were standing in the middle of the whole mess with five dead bodies to answer for.
Jon watched as Tobin and his father made two trips for the bodies and carried them inside. Tobin hadn't bothered to introduce them to each other so Jon decided to stay in the car whilst they said their goodbyes, or whatever it was they were up to.
Now that the backseat was empty, he found himself stealing glances towards the boot where the Box was. Darkness had pretty much fully descended; there wasn't anything for him to look at. He noticed the keys were still in the ignition and turned the radio on.
Jon had only just managed to find something to listen to other than Radio 2 when the windscreen smashed through.
"Shit." He did he best to cover himself from the debris.
He could hear a savage growling as whatever had smashed the windscreen climbed through.
Jon opened the door and allowed himself to spill out. Opening the door had turned the interior light on.
The sight made him move back further.
It was the beast from the previous night. It had changed somewhat in appearance. Its features were pretty much fubar'd. The beast had made its nocturnal home out of Billy even though he was dead. Jon could make out bits of the human face that hadn't been caved in all stretched and distorted.
"Tobin!" Jon hollered.
He gained no answer. He ran for the door and banged on it.
"What's up?" Tobin asked.
Jon hiked a thumb over his shoulder.
There was something big thrashing about in the car.
"Dad, get your gun."
They fired volley after volley of shots into the car. Tobin worked away with his puny .22, his father churning out big noises with his double-barrelled shotgun.
Jon realised what the thing was trying to do. The Box was in the boot, there was no way it could break in from the outside. Getting inside on the other hand and tearing through the soft of the seats would be a doddle.
The air filled with the stink of cordite, but still the thing thrashed within the car, causing it to rock like there was one hell of a fuck going on inside.
Jon looked around for something to use to beat it unconscious as he had the previous night.
He gave up looking when he heard the explosion. At first, he thought one of the Preacher's had gone and hit the sweet spot on the fuel tank. There was no smoke, no flames; just the back end of the car in tatters.
The monstrosity had made it to the Box and broken it.
They watched in petrified awe as the back-end of the car issued forth a sulphurous stink. From the mist something hideous formed, disgusting in design and repugnant all over.
It stretched to release the kinks it had earned in its seven-hundred year imprisonment.
Tobin let fly another shot. The beast barely felt it before bounding off to fulfil what it had started out doing all those centuries ago.
Jon's reaction said it best. "Oh, fuck."
The beast was returning to Hell and when it got there, it would lead the others out.
Lee Hughes's short fiction has appeared on or in, Cern Zoo: Nemonymous 9, Thrillers, Killers 'N' Chillers, Microhorror, A Twist of Noir, Every Day Fiction, New Flesh Magazine, The Daily Tourniquet, Powder Burn Flash, Blink-Ink and FlashShots. Find out more at www.LeeHughes.net