A cool evening was just how Tony had imagined his night would go when he was lucky enough to score a date with Emily. He planned for a fun night at the carnival and then taking a walk down the water and then if lucky, he smiled. Putting on his best jacket, he dabs cologne on and heads for the door. Getting in the car, he starts to head out when he hears a cat meow. Confused, he stops in the driveway and listens again. Hearing it again, it sounds like it’s in his car. How is that possible? I locked the car last night, he thought.
Turning around he sees a pair of yellow eyes and then he screams as it lunges towards him, its razor sharp claws tearing into his face. Scrambling to get the cat off and get out of his car at the same time, he screams again only to have the cat slice his throat. The door to the car opens and he sees the cat smile of his one eye before it climbs out of the car and vanishes. Tony is fumbling for his phone, but is unable to dial 911 and dies from the loss of blood.
A neighbor finds Tony and calls the police who are quick to arrive on the scene. Seeing that it appears to be a murder, they call for Detective Silva.
“Detective Silva.” The voice says gruffly.
Listening for a few he grunts and hangs up. His partner, Detective Lay looks up at him
“Looks like we have another one, Lay. Body found with slash marks across the face and neck.”
“Geez, Silva. That’s the fifth one in the past three days all with the same MO. You think we have a serial killer on our hands?” Lay said putting on her coat and badge on her belt.
“Yeah, I think we do. And this one isn’t clean in doing the job either. So this should help us.”
“I’ll have the forensic team get there and see if our killer left anything.”
“Good. Let’s go.”
They both got into Detective Silva’s car and headed for the crime scene. The rode in silence as Silva was trying to figure this one out. Five bodies in three days was not good. Especially for a small town. If there was a serial killer on the loose, he was going to need some help from the big boys and he didn’t want to call them in at all. Glancing over at Lay, he could see she was deep in thought. She’s probably thinking the same as I am. That’s why I love working with her, he mused.
They arrived at the scene and showed the officer their badges, who then raised the tape so they could walk under. Silva could definitely see this one was messy before even getting to the car, as blood had run down the driveway.
“Oh for crying out loud, someone clean this up would ya? There are kids in this area for God’s sake,” he said loudly for those around him to hear. Detective Lay stepped over the blood and then got a good look at Tony.
“Oh, man. They got him good. Real good this time.”
Silva joined her and shook his head. “Same signature mark across the throat and one eye missing. Almost like they want them to see who it is as they die. Sick bastards.”
They stepped back as the paramedics took over to get the body out of the car. As they were doing that, Silva went over to one of the officers and asked who called it in. The officer pointed to a lady that was sitting on the curb with another officer, who was taking notes. Thanking him, he headed her direction.
She looked up and he could tell she was visibly shaken.
“My name is Detective Aaron Silva and this is Detective Rachel Lay with the Lake City Police Department. I understand you were the one who found the body?”
The officer stood up and excused herself, so Aaron sat down as Rachel stood nearby, just so she could hear what was said.
“Yes, that’s right.”
“Can you tell me what you saw or if you saw anything before finding the body?”
She started to shake her head no and stopped. “Well actually, I saw what I thought was an animal running into the woods over there, and I then I saw the car and the blood all over the windows.” She shuddered at the thought. “I came around and when I saw Tony I screamed and ran back to my house to call 911.”
Detective Lay looked around for any signs of that animal and saw Aaron looking at her, so she shook her head no. He looked back at the neighbor.
“Okay, so you say his name is Tony? What’s his last name?”
“It’s uh- it’s Tony Cortes. He’s been my neighbor for about three years now.”
“Any problems with Tony that you knew of or any issues with him?”
She shook her head no. “No, I never had any problems at all. He was a friendly guy and always very helpful.”
Aaron turned to look back at the car and they had just bagged the body. He stepped away from the neighbor for a moment to speak to Rachel.
“Go try and see if you find anything in the car while they are occupied with the body, but don’t get caught. Deal?” He then turned back to the neighbor lady to ask a few more questions.
She nodded and worked her way over to the car. Looking around, but not putting her head into the car itself, she could see there had been a lot of blood and saw the missing eye on the floorboard of the passenger side. Looking through the window in the back seat, she didn’t see anything that could indicate someone had been hiding back there, so she stepped back. Looking over at Detective Silva, she saw he was still asking questions and writing in his pad.
Heading back to him, she heard him tell the lady thank you and head for his car. She quickly followed and got in without saying a word.
“Okay, so what did you find at the car?” Silva said starting the car.
“I didn’t find much other than his other eye on the floor of the passenger side. What you get from the neighbor lady?”
He drove for a bit and turned onto the main road, picking up speed.
“I found out Tony was a single man and didn’t own any pets or any she knew of. He was a loner and she didn’t see him that often, so she had no idea what he does for a living.”
“Okay, so I’ll run his name through the database and go from there,” Rachel replied.
“Sounds good,” Aaron agreed and they drove for silence until reaching the station. Once inside, they went to their offices which were adjoined and Rachel started her search for Tony Cortes. Aaron was sitting there when he thought about the animal that the neighbor lady had spoken of. Could an animal be the cause of all this? He wondered. If so, then it couldn’t be coincidental as the other bodies were all found in different places. He was trying to piece the puzzle together in his mind when Rachel said, “Got him!”
Looking up, she said, “He worked from home doing programming and graphic design. Looks like he was his own boss.”
Sighing, Aaron grimaced. “That doesn’t make it any easier for us, but yet it does as we don’t have to tell any co-workers what happened.”
He got on the phone and called over to the forensic team who just got back with the car. They told him they would get him whatever they could within the next 24-48 hours but that was the best they could do. Grunting, he set the phone down and looked at Rachel.
“I want to go to the other four spots where the others were found. There has to be something we are missing and we just haven’t hit it yet.”
Rachel nodded grabbing her coat. She knew when he got into a mood of his, he would be in it for a while.
“I’ll buy lunch if you want to fly?” She offered.
That made him laugh. “Considering I fly most of the time, I’ll take you up on that offer, Lay,” He jokingly replied.
“Good. I’m thinking Sicily’s Pizza sounds real good right now.”
“Alright, we eat and then we go to the sites.”
Near the cemetery, the caretaker was heading out to tend to a few graves that had been vandalized the night before. Mumbling to himself as he walked, he got to the first one and started to clean it.
“Stupid kids,” He grumbled. “They always have to spray something. Why can’t they spray a bridge or a wall?”
As he was cleaning he felt like he was being watched, so he looked up and around him. Seeing nothing, he finished up the first gravestone and headed for the second one. Seeing movement to his left, he turned and caught sight of a black and red tail before it disappeared around the corner of the mausoleum. I’ve never seen a tail like that before, he thought. Watching for another minute, he never saw it again or the movement. Maybe I’m just seeing stuff. Shaking his head, he got to the second grave and proceeded to clean the graffiti off.
Hearing a soft meow coming from somewhere behind him, he turned. Not seeing anything, he set down his cleaning supplies and listened again. The meow came from behind him now. Confused, he turned back around and suddenly saw a cat like creature staring at him smiling. I’ve never seen a cat smile, he thought. That’s not normal at all. As he kept looking at it, the cat swished its tail and he saw the red and black which reminded him of the tail he had seen earlier.
As he stood there the cat started to come towards him and he could see this was not a small cat, but more the size of a small dog. Not feeling comfortable with how it was approaching, the caretaker started backing up, keeping his eyes on the cat. He knew from where he was, if he kept going backward, he would eventually run into the mausoleum. Quickening his pace, the cat let out another meow, except it sounded like a howl more than a cat’s meow.
He ran into the side of the mausoleum and worked his way around to the door and fumbled with his hand to get it open. Feeling the latch give, he swiftly opened the door and slipped inside while trying to close the door behind him. Almost getting it latched, he saw a paw come around and it was huge. As he struggled against the paw to shut the door one razor sharp claw came sliding out and swiped at him. He jumped releasing the door and tried to yell, but it was of no use. The cat came pouncing in as if on air slashing at his throat while it looked at him with its yellow eyes.
As he struggled to fight for life and breath, he felt one of his eyes being torn at and he quickly covered his face feeling the dagger like claws slicing into his leathered skin. Sliding down the side of a casket, he could feel the weight lift off of his body. Peering through his fingers, he could see the cat leaving through the door of the mausoleum. It looked back once and smiled, then disappeared into thin air. The caretaker had been lucky as the cat hadn’t sliced all the way through his windpipe and he sat there trying to muster what energy he still had.
After ten minutes he crawled towards the door as his vision started to blur. He knew he had lost a significant amount of blood. Running his hand across his chest, he could feel the stickiness and the sweet smell of fresh blood wafted to his nose, making him nauseous. Getting to the door, he tried to crawl through, but he knew he wouldn’t make it. Turning his hand and using his own blood he wrote shakily on the side of the mausoleum wall:
‘Find the cat’
Collapsing he died staring out the door at the graves of those he had taken care of for all those years.
Silva was at the gym when his phone rang. Usually, he would just ignore it, but for some reason he knew he had to answer. Picking it up, he saw it was Detective Lay.
“Hello,” He said heading for the locker room.
“Hey, we got another body.”
He grimaced and looked around the locker room. It was mostly empty, so he started to pack his bag as he spoke.
“Shit, Lay. This is the sixth one now. Do they think it’s the same MO as the others?”
He could hear commotion on her end and could tell she had muffled the phone. He zipped up the bag and left the lockers heading for the parking lot. She came back on the phone.
“Sorry about that. One of the officers found something.”
“What they find?”
There was a pause. She replied, “I think it’s best if you come see it yourself. We are in the cemetery, so hurry up.” Without another word she hung up.
I don’t like the sound of that, he thought as he pulled out of his parking spot. Pausing long enough at the exit of the gym to put his light on top he flicked the switch to turn on his siren. Doing a quick look either direction, he peeled out onto the road in the direction of the cemetery, his mind racing.
If this is the same MO, then who is behind this and why? Nothing is making sense here. We have no connections to any of this. He approached a normally busy intersection and pressed on the horn, blaring as he slowed down to get through. Then he pressed the gas and the car leaped forward and he went back to his thoughts.
None of the victims know each other except for the first two and they were brother and sister. But, the others…. He could see the flashing lights ahead in the cemetery and he shook the thoughts of his head. Pulling in, he got out and headed for the crime scene, where he flashed his badge and went to where Detective Lay was standing. She looked at him and waited until he was in front of her.
“Okay, the body is in the mausoleum and the same situation as the others, throat slashed and lacerations across the chest, one eye missing.”
Aaron sighed. “Same MO and so this isn’t getting better, it’s getting worse.”
Lay only nodded. “There is more.”
“Inside the Mausoleum we also found something else.”
He looked at her, trying to get her to say more, but she only nodded in the direction of the mausoleum entrance.
“See of yourself.”
Not liking the sound of how she said it, he braced for whatever it is he would find when stepping inside. As he neared the entrance, he could see the blood and then the first thing he saw was the eye laying on the ground. That’s typical for this killer, he thought. Looking into the mausoleum he could see the body of an old man and he recognized him at once. Damn, it’s Mr. Lisbin. Aaron shook his head as he had grown up knowing Mr. Lisbin and knew he had been the cemetery caretaker for as long as he could remember. A nice quiet man, Mr. Lisbin took pride in the cemetery and his work and Aaron remembered driving by and seeing him out mowing grass, planting flowers, and doing other things as part of his work.
As he carefully stepped into the mausoleum, he noticed there was quite a bit of blood, but he also saw footprints of an animal. Okay, so there was something in here with Mr. Lisbin, but why? He thought looking around. He turned and froze when he saw what was written on the wall.
‘Find the cat’
Find the cat? He thought. What does a cat have to do with this? He looked up and saw Detective Lay standing there.
“Find the cat. What cat?” He asked.
She shrugged. “I don’t know, but here’s the interesting part. There are paw prints all around this mausoleum and also leading away from it towards the wooded area.”
“Interesting. So we have a cat around here. That’s not unusual.”
Lay shook her head. “No, it’s not unusual, I’ll agree. The unusual part of this is the size of the paw prints.”
Aaron looked around and noticed the paw prints were larger than a regular house cat. Couldn’t be a cougar, as they aren’t local, and definitely not a mountain lion, as there hasn’t been one seen in over sixty years, he thought. As he was looking at them, he noticed there was something in the caretakers’ left hand. Leaning down to get a closer look, it appeared to be a piece of fur or something fuzzy, so he pulled out his pen and carefully opened the caretaker’s hand. It was indeed fur and it was black and red, which puzzled Aaron.
I don’t know any cat or cat like creature that has black and red fur unless it’s not from around here. He used his pen to carefully place it in an evidence bag and stood up. Leaving the mausoleum, Aaron walked over to Rachel to show her. She also agreed that she hadn’t seen any fur like it before in that area and didn’t know what kind of animal it could have been from. Knowing the lab would be able to give them more answers, he turned to find one of the guys from the forensics team, when he saw a small figure standing a bit away from everyone in the cemetery.
He wasn’t going to think much of it, but he couldn’t take his eyes off of them. There was something almost uncanny like about the figure, that he didn’t quite feel they should be there. Without taking his eyes off of them, he motioned for Rachel who came up. Seeing he was looking at something she too turned and looked.
“Who’s that?” She asked.
“I don’t know. I was going to ask you the same thing,” He responded.
“You think they might know something?”
He didn’t feel that approaching them was a smart idea, but at the same time, if whoever this person was, might know something and they had to do their jobs. “Yeah, I think we best, but keep your eyes peeled. This just doesn’t feel right.”
Rachel nodded and they walked towards the figure. As they were getting closer he could see that the figure was small and they were wearing a cloak. It’s nearly 100 degrees out here. Why are they wearing a cloak? Rachel stayed right by him and they were about three rows of graves away from the person when a whisper of a voice came to them.
“You have a problem.”
Aaron looked at Rachel who looked back.
“Who are you?”
“I am not from here so it’s not necessary to know my name, Detective Silva, Detective Lay.”
“How do you know who we are?” Rachel inquired.
A raspy laugh came from the smallish figure and it caused Aaron to get goosebumps.
“I know much about everything, but one thing I can tell you is that piece of fur you found is a big problem.”
Aaron felt the evidence bag in his pocket and wanted to know how this person knew about it.
The figure pointed at him replying coldly, “The one in your pocket you took from the mausoleum where the caretaker’s body was found, Detective.”
Knowing there was no way this person could have seen him do that, he decided instead to ask some questions about what they might have seen.
“Okay, so what do you know and what did you see?”
There was silence. He decided to get closer, but when he stepped forward he felt a coldness hit his leg and he stepped back again. The figure laughed again.
“Don’t try to approach me, Detective, for it will not do you any good.”
“What you seek is an animal that doesn’t come up here very often. It is not from here and you will never catch it.”
Aaron was trying to wrap his mind around what was being told to him but he just couldn’t think of what was being said.
“Wait, wait, wait. It’s not from here and doesn’t come up here often. Thank you very much Captain Obvious for such a great observation.” He paused. “We have no clue what it is and so yeah, it doesn’t come up here or we would know what it is.”
He turned to look at Rachel. “I have no clue what this whackadoodle is getting at, but let’s go. I’ve had enou-“ he stopped mid-sentence when he could feel the cold hitting his skin, seeping through his jeans and Rachel gasped. Turning back towards the figure he jumped and pulled his gun as it was right in front of him. Now how in the heck did it clear that much ground that fast?
“Don’t come any closer to me and never try that again, or I’ll shoot you… you… whatever you are.”
The figure paid him no mind as to what was being said. “You fools!” It hissed. It was loud enough that others in the cemetery looked to see what was going on. Aaron could see a few officers out of the corner of his eyes drawing their weapons and he turned quickly to them.
“It’s alright. Just got spooked is all.”
They looked hesitantly from him to Rachel to the figure and holstered their sidearms, but stayed watching the trio from a distance. Aaron turned back to face the figure once again. Rachel spoke this time and Aaron tried to slowly move back from the figure, but it felt as if there was something gripping him and he couldn’t move his legs at all. Oh what the hell? I can’t move my legs? Well this isn’t good at all.
“Okay, so what do you mean by not from here, exactly?”
The figure turned a bit and that’s when Aaron realized there was no face. It has no face! Oh what the heck am I getting into here. What is this thing? He tried to speak, but no words would form.
The figure finally spoke.
“This fur you have is from an animal that comes from Death’s personal doorstep. It is not of the Earthly world, but is from the underworld.”
The lock this figure had on Aaron seemed to almost make him lift off the ground. He could still move his hands and his head, but his legs and feet were frozen to the spot he was in. He did find he could speak so he took the chance.
“The underworld as in where the Devil is from?”
The figure nodded and suddenly Aaron was able to move. Taking advantage he turned and walked over to Rachel and stood behind her, as if to use her as a shield from whatever this figure was. He felt it looking at him and it spoke once again.
“You will not catch it. You will not see it. If you do see it, you will die.”
It was Rachel’s turn to ask questions so he nudged her. She looked back at him and then at the figure.
“Alright, so what do we do then… whatever you are?” She inquired.
“You will need to summon the master to get his cat.”
“His cat? It’s a freakin’ cat?”
The figure nodded again.
“He doesn’t like to come up here and if he has to, there will be things that can never be unseen as he must be paid to come up.”
Aaron stepped around from behind Rachel.
“Paid? How do we pay the Devil?” He wondered
“With life,” the figure rasped. “He will take a life for every hour he is here. It is the only way.”
Aaron was about to say something, and the figure spoke again.
“But, if you don’t, you will lose many more than what the Devil would take. His cat is on the loose and it will be a blood bath in your town.”
When the figure said that, a hand came out of the sleeve and went to the hood. He watched in terror as the figure lowered the hood. Then both he and Rachel gasped in shock. Not only was there no face, but there was no head!
Yet a voice came from its direction.
“I like blood baths, so I don’t mind if you never call him. But, heed my warning. Call and lose life. Don’t call and lose life. Good luck.”
With that the cloaked figure turned and as it was leaving it started to fade. Both Aaron and Rachel watched in silence until it was completely gone. A feeling of coldness swept over both of them chilling them to the core. Then it was gone and they were left standing there alone as the silence of the cemetery surrounded them with a subdued feeling of dread.
Rachel broke the silence by saying something under her breath, which caused Aaron to look at her.
“What did you say?”
She looked back at him. “That was really really weird,” she repeated.
“Yeah, I’ll say. So now we have a phantom cat and the only way to get it under control is to call the Devil? Did I understand this right?” He asked.
She sighed. “Apparently that’s what the situation is, Aaron.”
Aaron took the evidence out of his pocket and looked at the bag. Handing it to Rachel he turned back towards the mausoleum.
“Take it to the forensics team and I’m going to try and figure out how we are going to contact the Devil.”
Rachel wanted to laugh, but knew he was serious. She didn’t say anything, but just took the bag from him and watched him walk away.
Aaron knew what he had to do and he wasn’t too keen about it, but considering what the hooded figure or whatever it was that had no head or face for that matter had said, they had a problem. Going to his car, he got in, started it up and revved the engine a few times. Then, gritting his teeth, he put it into drive and let is foot off the gas before the car lurched forward.
“Better not to be an idiot in a cemetery,” he mumbled to himself.
Looking up, he saw everyone staring at him and he just gave them a meek smile and wave and then drove away. Turning the first corner he could get to, he drove for a few blocks, then made a u-turn and drove back towards the cemetery, cursing himself. Going back by, he ignored the officers and Rachel as they stared at him and he was soon beyond the city limits. Driving for twenty minutes or so, he saw the half-angled sign that old man Hibbard had hit when he was drunk a few years back and the county had never replaced and knew that was his turn.
Turning down that road, he had a pit feeling in his stomach and everything told him to turn around, but he pushed all that down and kept driving. The road was getting bumpier and the further he went, the rougher it got until there wasn’t much of a road left, but it was more a trail. Yet, he knew that what he was after was down there. Shaking his head, Aaron kept going, turning on his flood lights to help him navigate the dilapidated road. Soon, he came across a broken down house directly in front of him and he stopped, but he never turned off the car. Instead, he stepped out and stared at the house for a moment. It was dark, but he knew that someone was there. She was always there.
Shutting the car door with a slight slam to signify he was there or if anyone could hear him, he walked carefully towards the door, his hand on his pistol grip and his eyes scanning the area around him. The grass was nearly knee deep and he knew that if there was anything the grass, he’d be screwed before he could get his gun up, but he kept going. Finally, he got to the bottom of the stairs and in the light of the floods from his car he knew there was no way he was going up there.
“Maggie! I know you can hear me and I know you are in there!” He yelled. “I have a situation and only you can help.”
He listened and heard nothing, but thought he saw movement in one of the windows, so he waited. And waited. And waited some more until he was about to leave when he heard a faint voice.
“Aaron, if it isn’t my hunk of a man coming to visit.”
He looked at the door and saw a small woman standing there. She wasn’t much to be afraid of in appearance, but Aaron knew much better than that. He stayed where he was and nodded his head.
“I’m not your man and I need your help,” he replied.
“Well, then I can’t help you if you can’t be mine,” the woman replied faintly.
She began to turn and Aaron knew she was their only chance to get rid of this cat, so he yelled to her.
“The Devil’s cat’s loose and we gotta get him or whoever they are to coral it and get it out of town. Can ya help us or not?”
She froze in the doorway and turned around so quick, he swore he thought only her head spun, but wasn’t sure.
“The Devil’s cat, you say?” She repeated stepping towards him, her face lighting up. “This is quite the problem indeed. You need my help? Oh, of course you do. It would only be appropriate that you come to the only one who knows how to open the portal to hell, now wouldn’t it?”
Aaron didn’t answer her and she laughed, her laugh sounding as if she had been smoking for years, and he suspected she probably had.
“I know it won’t be easy, but for the sake of the town that has abandoned me, shunned me, forsaken me, abolished me from ever stepping foot there again, I guess I can help.”
Surprised, Aaron was about to say thank you, but she raised her hand.
“On one condition.”
Against his better judgement, Aaron answered her. “What’s that?”
“A kiss from you.”
“A kiss? Like on the cheek?” Aaron replied, surprised. “That’s it?”
“On the lips, my man, on the lips,” she replied with a little jump and a smile. “Then I will help you.”
Aaron groaned and was about to go back to his car when the strange hooded figure’s words came into his mind. Not wanting to deal with a blood bath already greater than what it is or what it could become, he looked her in the eyes and nodded.
“Deal,” he said. “No tongue, no groping, nothing of the sort. A quick kiss is all I’ll do.”
“That’s fine by me,” she crooned and beckoned him up the stairs.
“You sure these things will hold me? They look pretty bad,” he asked.
“Only way to know is to step and find out.”
Looking over the badly damaged stairs, he found a few spots that he thought would work and side-stepped to the top of the landing.
“Alright, let’s get this over with,” he remarked and bent down a bit to be on a better level with her. She reached forward suddenly and grabbed his face, planting her mouth firmly on his. Surprised, he tried to pull back, but found she had incredible power and he was unable to move. After a minute, she released him and he staggered back in shock and instinctively wiped his mouth. She, on the other hand, was jumping around the landing and then stopped and looked at him.
“A deal is a deal,” she mumbled, hurrying to the door. “You will have to follow me if you wish to speak to the Devil himself.”
Aaron realized at that moment, he had no choice as he was already this far and he looked at his car and then back at her and the now open door.
“Lead the way.”
Stepping through the door, he was expecting the place to be in shambles and disarray and it was everything polar opposite. The floor was hardwood and shined, there was a nice rug down. The carpet going up the stairs seemed to be almost brand new as they past it. Wanting to say something, he decided against it and instead followed her down the corridor, through a large open room and into another corridor.
I don’t remember this place being that big, he thought to himself. When she stopped at a door, she turned and nodded.
Without waiting for a reply, she opened the door, went inside, and shut the door quick. Aaron stood there and stared around the corridor but there wasn’t much there since it was dark and he saw light on the other side of the door. When the door suddenly opened, she stood there and he gasped. Gone was this small woman he had thought he had met and in her place was this hulking thing.
“What’s wrong with my cat?” the thing said, snarling and looking at him as if he was a meal.
“Your cat has escaped,” Aaron replied, not sure what to do as he knew his side arm would be useless should the Devil attack him. “We need you to get it under control.”
The Devil stared at him for a moment and then stood up right.
“Is that all?” The Devils voice changed suddenly and it was almost as if a gentleman of stature was standing in front of Aaron. “My utomost apologies for that. Can you tell me where it is?”
Aaron wasn’t sure if he was hallucinating or what was going on, but shook his head to clear it, like that would do any good.
“It’s, uh, it’s in town. Do you think you might be able to catch it soon?”
The devil laughed. “I’ll catch it, but only when it’s ready to come home, not a moment sooner. I see it found a playground so to speak. But, if you insist that I catch it sooner than later, it will cost you some souls, a few other things, and your car.”
“Wait, my car?” Aaron asked. “What other things are you wanting?”
“I’ll know when I see them,” the Devil replied. “Deal?”
Not sure exactly what these other things could be, Aaron didn’t shake the hand that was outstretched in front of him. Not yet anyway.
“A few things that are off limits,’ Aaron said. “My wife is one, my working partner is another. The rest are fair game.”
The devil thought about this for a moment. “Fair enough.”
They shook and suddenly, the devil was gone. The room was normal looking and in a corner chair sat Maggie.
“That went better than I think we both thought it would,” she said with a slight smile.
“Man of many personalities, or thing, or whatever it is,” Aaron replied.
“Rare to have an appearance made. I wasn’t sure it would work on summoning. But, it did.”
Aaron nodded and was about to leave when he paused and turned to her. “What would we do if the devil hadn’t shown up?”
“Nothing. In over a thousand summonings, it’s only been successful four times,” Maggie replied. “Consider yourself lucky.”
“I already do. I cringe at what will happen in order for that blasted cat to be captured, but what must be done, must be done. Thank you, Maggie.”
She laughed as he left the room and then he broke into a run for the front door, through the doorway since the door was already open and vaulted over the stairs. Getting to his car, he noticed that the engine was off, the lights were still on, yet he had no keys. Searching his pockets, he saw someone standing by the door and he jumped.
“You won’t be going anywhere, Mister Aaron,” the man spoke and Aaron recognized the voice. “You’re in my car, remember?”
“Your car?” Aaron questioned and then groaned when he remembered the deal. “Right. Part of the deal was my car.”
“Ah good, your memory is still there. That’s always a worry at times, yes? Now get in the other side.”
Aaron got out of the car and the devil got in, held up a set of keys and started the car up. Then he sat there looking up at Aaron.
“Are you going to get in or do you plan on walking back to town?”
Aaron shook off the surprise and hurried around to the other side, getting in. The devil backed the car up and then spun it, throwing it into drive and they shot forward. Soon, they were back on the main road.
“I might be the Devil, but I’m not as mean as they all claim I am,” the devil said with a smile. “Mischievous yes, dangerous, of course, deadly? Oh, that’s just some of my fun. But, I’m not all evil. I can be nice too.’
Aaron wasn’t sure how to reply and said nothing. The devil laughed and turned on the radio, fumbling through stations. Finally settling on classical, he stepped harder on the gas and they roared through the night towards town.
“I suggest you slow down to normal speeds by the time we get to town,” Aaron finally said. “Less you want a cop to pull us over.”
“They’d pull you over in this? I’m sure they all know you.”
“I’m not above the law, devil.”
“Oh please, call me Frank. Or Tom, or Bill, Steve, Luke, Jimmy, just not the Devil. It sounds… well it sounds so sinister and scary, don’t you think?”
Aaron didn’t know how to reply to that, so he just looked out the road ahead. As they drove through town, he began to wonder how the devil, or err Frank was going to catch his cat. After driving down almost every street for the third time and having to stop to get gas once, Aaron finally spoke up.
“So, how do you plan to catch your cat?”
“Oh my cat? When it gets tired, it will come to me. Simple as that.”
“And how long does that usually take?”
“Well, last time something like this happened about eighty-six years ago and it took about three weeks before it was finally worn out from playing. We can hope it won’t be that long.”
Aaron threw his hands up when he heard this.
“Three weeks? We don’t have three weeks to allow for a blood bath to occur. This is a small town of not many people. When people start disappearing, others notice and then things get bad here. You have to find a way to get the cat to come to you. Or the deal is off.”
The car came to screeching halt and the devil looked at him with a serious face. “You have no way to cancel a deal with the devil, so watch yourself, Aaron. Or your wife and partner and anyone else you might be close to are fair game. Don’t mess with me or you’ll get everything you ever wished was a nightmare and then some.”
Aaron gulped as the air in the car grew hotter and hotter and then everything was normal. Nodding in agreement, the car started up once more and they were driving.
“Now, if you really are wanting to skip the blood bath as you call it, I do have a way to find it.”
“Can you please? We’ve already had a few bodies, then with what you are going to take, this is going to hit this town hard.”
The devil pulled the car over, a concerned look on his face.
“My cat has killed someone?”
“Not someone, but a few people at this point and probably going to kill again and again and again unless you can catch it,” Aaron explained. “That’s why you are here.”
“Then we have a problem,” the devil told him. “My cat doesn’t kill. It plays until it’s bored with whatever it has and then moves onto something else. But does not kill.”
“I’m sorry, it killed and some faceless, headless, hooded creature, being, thing told us it was yours,” Aaron answered.
The devil sighed. “Can you show me one of the bodies?”
Aaron wondered how that would even be possible, but then had an idea. He knew Mr. Lisbin had a son that was from out of town, out of state.
“Okay, I can get you in, but you have to promise to do what I tell you.”
Aaron gave him direction to the morgue and where to park. They pulled in and both got out, Aaron taking the lead on this.
“Your name is Frank Lisbin, Mr Marcus Lisbin’s son. That’s the only way you will see the body. Understood?”
“My name is Frank Lisbin and I’m from Chicago. I was actually on my way to a conference when Aaron here gave me a call and I took the next flight here to identify the body,” the devil said in a different voice. “That good enough for ya?”
Aaron shook his head and opened the door.
“Hey Aaron,” the morgue assistant said. “Why are you here so late?”
“Hey Tony. I brought Mr. Lisbin’s son in. I called him and he happened to be close by and diverted his plane trip to get here. I just picked him up from the airport.”
Tony looked at Aaron, then at the devil who was now Mr. Lisbin’s son, Frank and back at Aaron.
“Good call. We were going to have him prepped to be autopsied to figure out what happened.”
“We will let you do that after we identify the body, then good to go,” Aaron replied.
“Pleased to meet ya, Mr. Lisbin.”
“Call me Frank. Mr. Lisbin was my father, may he rest in peace.”
Tony led them to the walk-in and stood next to a body draped in a blanket. When the devil nodded, Tony pulled it back and Frank looked at the body carefully.
“Yes, that is indeed him, I’m afraid. Any idea how this happened? It looks like claw marks or something. A mountain lion or cougar, perhaps?”
Tony shook his head. “Not marking like this. No cougars or mountain lions been in this area for years and they have regular observatory patrols for em every quarter. These marks are deeper, longer, and nothing I’ve ever seen before and I’ve seen a mountain lion attack. Never a cougar though, but, what about you Aaron? You seen anything like this before?”
“I can’t say I have,” Aaron replied shaking his head. “The claw marks are too deep for a cougar and too long for either cougar or mountain lion. It’s something else entirely.”
“Well, whatever it is, I hope I don’t see it. I hear that you can’t see it actually, but if you see its eyes, it’s too late. That true?” Tony asked.
Frank looked amused at this and then looked at Aaron.
“Yeah, a green glowing color.”
“Strange for sure, but I don’t wanna see those eyes,” Tony remarked. “I am a dead man already because the missus has been wanting a kid and we just ain’t had one yet.”
“I wish you the best,” Frank told Tony. “Are we done here?”
Aaron nodded. “Yes, thank you, Tony. We will be on our way.”
Tony pulled the blanket back over the body and escorted them out. When they came back to the car, Frank looked at Aaron.
“It’s my cat,” he said with a sad tone. “I’ve never known it to kill until now. Get in. We are finding my cat and in a hurry.”
Aaron got in the passenger side, grateful that he hadn’t seen his partner, but then realized that his phone had been on silent. Pulling it out of his pocket, he saw he had thirteen missed calls and eight voicemails. Putting in his code, he saw all but three of the calls were from Rachel, the other three were from his wife. Groaning, he scrolled over to the voicemails and started listening through them.
“Hey! Where are you? I saw you hightail it out of the cemetery but then you never came back. What’s going on?”
“Hey A, it’s Rachel. You alright?”
“Okay, not like you to not at least call me back. Do I have to send a search party for you?”
“Aaron, we have another dead body, this time it’s a kid. You gonna answer your phone?”
“Not sure what’s up, but I hope you get this. I’m on scene and it’s the same MO.”
“Your wife is worried. I just swung by and you weren’t there. What’s up, man?”
“Hey Hon, where are you? Everything alright? Rachel just came by and said she hadn’t seen you since earlier and now it’s past midnight. Call me. Love you. Bye.”
“If you don’t call me back, I’ll send out every cop in the area to find you.”
Aaron looked over that Devil who was looking out the window.
“I gotta call my partner. Let her know I’m okay,” Aaron said.
“Don’t bother,” the devil replied. “Looks like we have company.”
Aaron saw the flashing lights a moment later and groaned. How was he going to explain why this man was driving his car. He motioned for the devil to pull over and then stop and the devil did. He watched out the side mirror and hoped it was just one of the regular cops, but groaned softly when he saw the figure in the headlights. It was Rachel. He waited for her to get to the driver window and the look of surprise and anger on her face was quite evident.
“What the heck man,” she said. “And you got someone else driving your car? You drunk?”
“Hey Rach,” Aaron said with a smile. “Sorry about not answering your calls and such. Been a bit busy.”
“Too busy to help me with another body? Too busy to call your partner or your wife back? Too busy to do any of that stuff?” Rachel replied annoyed. “And who the heck is he and why is he driving your car?”
“This is Frank Lisbin,” Aaron answered. “I called him right after his dad died and it happened he wasn’t that far away. He took the next flight to the airport and I picked him up.”
“You must be Rachel,” Frank said. “Aaron has told a lot about you and it’s glad to meet you. Sorry to have to meet you in this manner, but just how it goes, I guess.”
Rachel stared at him for a moment and then nodded. “Why is he driving your car? You never let anyone drive it.”
“It’s my fault really,” Frank said. “I hadn’t driven a stingray in a while and asked if I could. Aaron thought about it and decided to let me on behalf of my late father who helped build them.”
“He helped build them?” Rachel exclaimed. “I didn’t know this!”
“He worked for Chevrolet for almost twenty years before moving. Then he lost his wife, my mother and decided to move once again. Found his way here and never left.”
Rachel looked impressed and nodded. “Where are ya’ll heading?”
“We are looking for a cat,” Frank said with a smile.
Rachel frowned when he said that and Aaron groaned in the passenger seat.
“You told him about the cat?”
“I think by now everyone knows about the stupid cat, Rach.”
She thought about it for a second and nodded. “True. But, why try to go find it? It usually finds you if it wants to.”
“Aaron and I were just driving and thought we’d try and get lucky,” Frank replied. “Plus, my flight is in the mid-afternoon and it is a nice night, so we thought we’d drive for a bit. Care to join us?”
“No, I need to get back to the precinct and do paperwork. I need you, Aaron at the station asap about the child.”
“Will be there as soon as I get Frank to the motel.”
They watched Rachel go back to her car, turn the lights off on top and drive around them.
“She seems nice.”
“She’s a fireball, but she’s good at her work. Now, thank you for your help with her incessant questions. That was fast thinking.”
“Well considering the real Frank Lisbin died about two years ago from lung cancer, it was easy to do since he’s one of my residents,” the devil replied.
Aaron had no reply to that, and suggested they drive and Frank put the car in gear and they drove for a while and came to a park. Frank pulled over and turned off the car, turning off the lights as well.
“Why’d we stop?”
Frank didn’t say anything, but instead got out and headed for the playground equipment, Aaron right behind him.
Frank nodded. “I can feel it. It’s looking at something right now and I’m trying to find the source. There’s someone on the playground equipment, but I can’t see them.”
Aaron started looking around and at first, didn’t see anything, but then there was slight movement at the top of the castle platform.
“Up there! On the top platform of the castle.”
Frank saw the movement and ran to the castle, jumping onto the various platforms, swinging from ropes and finally got to the top platform. Aaron was having a more challenging time behind him and Frank turned and looked down at a man who was now sitting up right, apparently startled by the two men coming up there.
“I do no harm,” he mumbled. “Just tryin ta sleep is all.”
“Sir, my name is Detective Aaron, this here is Frank. We have reason to believe you could be in danger and we nee—”
Aaron was cut off by a low growl and Frank spoke.
“You know its me and you know you need to stop this right now. You need to come home and stop this killing. It’s not like you and I need to get you to the vet.”
The growl continued and then they all saw the glow of the eyes. Frank put his hand in his pocket and pulled something out that neither Aaron or the homeless guy could really see and then, the growl became a roar, and a creature leapt towards them. Aaron grabbed his gun out of his holster, but before he could even get it pointed in the right direction, Frank threw what was in his hand and a red circle appeared in front of them. The creature was flying through the air and vanished into the red circle and when it was gone, the circle suddenly vanished into nothing and a small object fell back into Frank’s hand.
“That was much easier than I thought,” Frank said to the others as Aaron slowly put his gun away.
“Wha – what just happened?” the homeless man spoke.
“Nothing happened. We just made a check on you is all,” Aaron fibbed, not sure how to even explain what actually did happen.
“Thanks for checkin on me. Night.”
The man turned and laid down and Frank shrugged his shoulders before starting to climb down from the playground equipment. Aaron stood there for a moment and was about to follow when he stopped, turned around and pulled out his billfold. Pulling a few twenty’s out, he knelt down and tucked them into the man’s worn out and torn jacket before standing up and following Frank back to the ground. Once safely there, Aaron spoke to Frank.
“What was that thing?”
“Oh what, the portal?”
“I’m sorry, did you say portal?”
“Oh yeah,” Frank replied. “It’s my portable portal. I always have it with me.”
“And why didn’t you mention this before now?”
“Because the focus was to find my cat, right? Not discuss how I have a portal to hell on me. And now that I found my cat, it’s time for my rewards.”
“Hang on a second. If it was that easy for you to catch your cat, why should you get the rewards?”
“Because a deal is a deal and you don’t want to break a deal with the devil, Aaron. Do you?”
Aaron sighed and shook his head.
“Good. I’ll take my rewards, but there is one thing I will let you keep.”
“And what’s that?”
“Your car,” Frank smiled, tossing the keys back to Aaron who caught them mid-air. “Nice car, but I have six already and don’t need a seventh. Plus, seven is not a lucky number down there.”
“Fair enough. What are you taking with you?’
“I already have,” Frank replied. “But, don’t worry. I never said I was taking people that were alive. I already had my eyes on a few that were dead, and one that was alive, but she’s dead of a heart attack. I think you already know who it is considering where we first met.”
“Maggie,” Aaron replied softly, and Frank nodded. “She wanted to die to be with me, so I gave her that request because it fit with what we had agreed upon. See? I’m not a heartless monster as everyone thinks I am. But, I can be as I need to be.”
Aaron didn’t have any reply and Frank smiled. “I best be going. I have a kitty that needs some attention. She must be sick if she was attacking and killing people. I just hate going to the vet.”
Aaron was going to ask another question, but Frank took a small object out of his pocket, threw it at the ground, and jumped through the red circle that appeared. As soon, as he was gone from sight, the circle disappeared and the object gone from the ground. Aaron stood there for a moment before shaking his head and turning towards his car. Pulling out his phone, he pressed a key and listened to the phone ring.
As he got to his car he heard the phone click.
“Hey Rach? The cat’s been taken care of.”
“What? How? When?”
“if I told you, you wouldn’t believe me.”
“Just get to the precinct and we can discuss it here.”
Aaron hung up and started up the car, heading towards the precinct. Pulling in, he tried to rehearse everything that had happened to him within the course of a short 24 hours. He saw Rachel standing at the door and as soon as she saw him, she came out, opened the passenger door and got in.
Not saying another word, he nodded, backed up, and put the car in drive. He knew she wanted to know what was going on and the only place that would be safe from ears would be the old quarry south of town. She stared at him while they drove and never said a word. When he pulled into the quarry, he shut off the car and got out, going around to the front to lean against the hood, Rachel doing the same.
“Okay, tell me everything.”