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Father of the esurient c.., p.1
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       Father of the Esurient Child, p.1

           Christopher D Schmitz
 
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Father of the Esurient Child


  Father of the Esurient Child

  Copyright 2016 by Christopher Schmitz

  Thank you for downloading this ebook. This book remains the copyrighted property of the author, and may not be redistributed to others for commercial or non-commercial purposes. If you enjoyed this book, please encourage your friends to download their own copy from their favorite authorized retailer. Thank you for your support.

  A earlier version of this Title was originally published in Fear and Trembling Mag, Feb 2008

  1

  “‘My name is Detective Howard Blake, and this is the story of my death.’” The driver scoffed as he read aloud.

  “What’s this garbage?” Detective Franklin “Frankie” Monroe leered at his partner. He swayed with the motion of the car as it hit a pothole and rattled the vehicle. He kept his eyes trained on the back cover of the dust jacket and scanned the fine print blurb of a too-hastily published indie novel.

  “It’s called a book,” Detective Hugo Munoz replied with a grin. “If you open it up, there’ll be more little words inside.”

  Frankie read more text aloud. “I couldn’t put this book down… Maybe there is more to this world than the evidence suggests. Maybe we're just not looking at the right evidence… A supernatural detective novel without parallel.” He gave his partner a cynical glare.

  “What?” teased Hugo, “You have a problem with reading?”

  “I have a problem with over-inflated mumbo jumbo advertisements.” Frankie flipped the book over as the car jostled through another set of ruts. The novel’s cover art was decent, he noted, although the construction felt flimsy. Frankie was the analytical one of the pair, always looking at the clues, trying to piece evidence together in his mind.

  By contrast, Hugo tended to operate more on gut instinct. He watched as his partner’s eyes scanned the title.

  “‘The Esurient Killer.’ Let’s look inside, shall we? What does this, ‘supernatural detective novel without parallel,’ have to offer?” Frankie read the opening line of the story, putting on a slightly mocking, gruff noir detective voice to highlight the absurdity. “‘My name is Detective Howard Blake, and this is the story of my death.’ Well, at least the author didn’t waste such an amazing one-liner on just the back page.”

  Frankie gave Hugo a skeptical look, eyebrows raised. Hugo caught the expression and laughed.

  “All right already. It’s a little cheesy, but come on. We need a little escape from the horrors of the real world.”

  The thick horror novel was a bit over the top. On the illustrated cover, a demonic monster loomed over the main character; blood spelled the word “hunger” on the wall on the shadowy background. Frankie raised his eyebrows again.

  “Well,” Hugo offered, “It puts it all in perspective, anyway. It could always be worse, right?”

  “It ain’t that the horrors of the world are all that bad—it’s the duldrum of it that gets to me. And, no it can’t… be worse, that is,” Frankie said. “Not this bad,” he pointed to the cover. “I’ve looked at a lot of evidence; nothing has ever led me to believe that there’s anything more out there than what we’ve got right here.” He cut the conversation short before it could travel down the same old path. Despite the fact that he was born and raised Catholic, he didn’t like discussing matters of personal belief.

  “Maybe the reviewer is on to something. Maybe we’ve got the wrong evidence on the table.”

  The car slammed through another crack in what barely passed for a road and jarred the car. The noisy clatter was loud enough to change the subject.

  “Where in the world are we, anyway?” The question came out as rhetorical, but it seemed as if they’d entered a foreign land in the rugged countryside. Trees walled the road in on both sides as they crept up the Appalachian hillside nestled beneath that verdant canopy.

  “Well, the old woman’s minister said that her house was out in the sticks; I guess he really meant it. It looks like we’re in the old mining country—there isn’t much out in this area accept abandoned mines, Indian burial mounds, and little clearings where rowdy kids occasionally sneak into to drink stolen beer and hook up. We should be there any minute, though,” Hugo replied as he scanned the atlas they’d earlier retrieved from the trunk; GPS was useless out here.

  Frankie reviewed the case notes. The old lady, Ms. Woodson, had died almost two months ago. Nothing was unusual about her death; her advanced age had finally caught up with her is all. The welfare division, though, found a gap in her paper trail; Ms. Woodson was responsible for a seventeen-year-old foster child—the two month lapse was actually a quick find as far as DCS usually went. The girl had not been heard from in a long while but she remained a loose end that needed to be tied up in the legal system.

  “No contact at the house. No mail or anything, and no telephone signal on the landline; no cell listed. None of the local schools or hospitals have reported the presence of,” he checked the file again for the foster girl’s name, “Kayla Adams.” Hugo tapped the paper sheets thoughtfully. “Weird, though, the last time Law Enforcement was in contact with her, Old Lady Woodson reported that her brother had gone missing; that was almost four months prior.”

  The Child Services case had been ignored until after Ms. Woodson’s death; her home address proved difficult to locate. An oversight in the tax record updates omitted her updated information since the redistricting and updates for a 9-1-1 fire number address system. Nobody was eager to search out Woodson’s information and put in the extra legwork required to locate an old woman who lived out in the Appalachian boonies.

  Frankie took the information in stride as he idly fingered an old key and scanned his notes. “Funny,” he said, “this doesn’t look like your typical door key.” He examined it a little further. It was ornate; weathered and worn. It still bore engraved markings reminiscent of an old-time style. The old, southern-fried preacher who’d performed Woodson’s funeral had given it to them following their visit.

  “Maybe,” said his partner as they rounded a corner, “it’s because this isn’t any ordinary house.” As the car cleared the grove of wild trees, a massive, old mansion spread before them. The sprawling, wooden Mansard boasted a wing on both sides and the expansive grounds stretched around it. It must have been resplendent before the whole place had fallen to crap.

  Gravel crunched as the car came to a stop in front of the building. Cedar shingles that had slipped from the roof lay crumpled and waterlogged near the eroded foundation. Overgrown, thorny shrubbery crept up against the house’s warped and dilapidated siding and vines crawled even further yet. Leaf-sized sheaves of salmon-colored paint peeled away from the house like pustules, making it look like the entire structure had contracted leprosy.

  The two detectives emerged from the car and traded an uneasy, silent glance in the somber air. An eerie deadness rolled off of the house like an eldritch wave. The only motion came from the front door which hung ajar and stirring ever so slightly in the faint breeze.

  “Well, I guess we won’t be needing this.” Frankie tossed the key to Hugo who slid it into a pocket as they walked up the steps of the front porch.

  2

  Underfoot, the floor groaned with the threatening creaks of rotted lumber. A distant crow cawed, trying vainly to warn the detectives away.

  Together, they ducked through the doorway. The house was dead inside; silence reigned.

  Items and décor that hearkened back to an era long since passed adorned the walls and dusty tables. Dust clung to everything; a musty smell permeated the air. Only the sounds of their own footsteps on the moldy, hardwood floors breached the silence.

  “Hello?” Frankie called. His voice echoed back.
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  Broken beer bottles lay in the dust. Hugo nudged them with his toe and they clinked together. The lifelessness of the place only seemed to amplify the noise.

  “You think the old lady was a big fan of MGD?”

  Frankie scowled and shook his head ever so slightly.

  A shadow shifted nearby, drawing the attention of the detectives. They stepped into the next room and flies seemed to explode into existence; they blinding and harassed the two men as they entered, bouncing off their eyes and mouths.

  Frankie batted his way through the cloud, spitting as the insects swarmed his face. Something crunched underfoot like wilted celery. It was a dead animal. A trio of slaughtered cats was stuck to the floor, their tails tied together and skin peeled back. The rancid odor of decayed, maggoty flesh permeated the room.

  The flies seemed to dissipate, clearing the view of the room. Empty cans of black spray paint sat abandoned against the room’s baseboard. Pentagrams and other crudely satanic symbols emblazoned the walls.

  “What was it the old preacher told us?” Frankie put clues together, like puzzle pieces. “She’d fled her home months ago because of harassment?”

  “Not quite,” Hugo clarified, touching the
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