Shrill Call

The last call in the Thirsty Devil was a somber time for the degenerates that frequented the seedy bar. The band for the evening, a small-time rock and roll group covered in tattoos and piercings, was playing their final set to a steady beat set by their drummer. The bartender, a young woman in a black corset with fiery red hair and a barbed wire tattoo around her biceps, was cleaning down the bar around the regulars who were finishing their drinks.

One of said regulars was Harry Black, a messy-haired youth that had spent the better part of his life in and out of institutions and child care services. Wiry with a swimmers build, the punk rocker was dressed in all black, from his steel-toed boots to his long sleeved black sweater. His piercing glacial eyes were dulled by the whiskey he’d been drinking all evening, the half-dozen glasses scattered around him a testament to his desire to get as drunk as possible before being kicked to the curb.

The bartender stopped in front of him and smiled, dimples forming at the corners of her mouth that were rarely seen. “You gonna be okay getting home honey?”

Harry looked up at her and gave a lop-sided smile. “Yeah, I’ll be fine. I drink more than this at home when I’m too depressed to come out to see you Rose.”

Rose frowned at that. Harry had been one of her better customers for the past four years, when he moved down to the Outback. She generally didn’t sleep with customers, but the two of them had knocked boots a few times over the years, generally around the holidays when they were both lonely. Rose didn’t have any family left, and Harry didn’t seem to have anyone that she could remember him mentioning. She reached across the bar and took his hand, pressing her house key into it.

“Go over to my place and wait for me,” she whispered just loud enough for him to hear. His smile turned into a full blown grin as he nodded and pocketed the key, already knowing where Rose lived from previous walks of shame out of there after nights of debauched sex.

“Sure thing, I could use a pick me up,” Harry said, pocketing the key. He stood up from the bar, wobbling a little, and placed a few bills down on the countertop. “That should cover my tab and be enough for a tip, right?”

“Of course Harry, you always know how to treat a lady,” Rose smiled.

“Well I’m off,” Harry said, giving the other patrons a two finger salute, earning a few grunts from his drinking buddies. Walking out of the double doors of the bar and into the warm night air, Harry took a deep breath of the purified air of the small village. Set along the southern coast of the country, the village always had a fresh scent of the sea wafting over it that made it seem idyllic when compared to the other hell-holes that Harry had been to.

Slipping his hands into his pockets, Harry began walking down the sidewalk, moving from brilliant street light to brilliant street light. The distant sound of waves crashing on the shore eased Harry’s drunken mind, allowing him a sense of peace that usually eluded the young man.

Stepping beneath a light, he looked up when it flickered once, as if it had an electric surge or the bulb was going out. Staring up at the flickering glow, Harry shrugged and moved onward, the thoughts of a night of carnal desires fulfilled by a flexible young bartender filling his thoughts.

Thoughts that were interrupted when he heard a scream from a young woman, coming from the direction of the docks. Eyes snapping wide open, Harry turned and began jogging towards the distressed sound, intent on helping out if he could.

Slipping through an alley, he emerged out near the darkened wharf, several large freighters moored in the bay that the village rested in. Another shrill cry caught Harry’s attention, stirring him to continue on. Reaching into his back pocket, he pulled out a slim knife, flicking it open so that he could defend himself if needed. Jogging down the dark pier, Harry saw the silhouette of a young woman crouched near the end, shaking as if sobbing. Silvery fluid pooled around her, sparkling in the moonlight like the reflection of a polished mirror.

“Are you okay miss?” Harry asked, looking around for any sign of trouble. He walked closer to her, studying her shaking frame curiously. She was thin and wore a dark shirt or blouse, along with a skirt that seemed too short, revealing long legs folded beneath her. She was shaking as if she were wracked with silent sobs, her entire body quivering.

She didn’t respond to his inquiry, instead letting out another long wail into the night, the utterance seemingly filled with the agony of a dying woman. Harry stepped forward and reached for her shoulder, turning her so that he could look at her properly.

The entire front of her blouse was covered in the silvery liquid, seeping from a long gash in her neck. Her eyes flickered like distant stars against a sea of darkness as they looked up at him. Her mouth was wide, her cheeks slit from the inside all the way up to where her mandible met her upper jaw. Opening her mouth wide, she let loose another wail, this time facing Harry.

The cry seemed to make Harry’s nerves explode in agony, his hand dropping the knife as he fell to the wooden planks of the docks shaking, her cry rattling through ever nerve in his body, causing them to fire simultaneously as if his body were on fire. Screaming out in pain, he could barely make out the movement of the woman as she rose bonelessly to her feet, looming over his prone form, still wailing.

When she finally stopped, Harry found he didn’t seem to have control over his limbs, which just shook as he lay in his own urine soaked jeans. The woman knelt down, scooping up the knife he’d dropped in one pale hand.

He didn’t even feel when she pulled his head back, his nerves still raw from her cry. When she slipped the knife into his mouth he flinched at the taste of coppery blood filling his mouth. With a vicious twist and another pain-filled cry she pulled the blade out the side of his cheek, slicing through his flesh roughly.

Harry tried to move away, blood pooling in his throat so fast he was forced to swallow a mouthful of the nasty red fluid. Coughing as his cheek tore open wider, Harry nearly cried out as the knife was once more inserted into his mouth, this time near his other cheek. He was in such pain the ripping the second time barely registered to his mind.

The woman stared down at Harry from where she held him up, flipping the knife around in her hand until she held it like an ice pick. Harry spit out a deluge of silvery blood onto the dock, glaring at the woman. Unable to speak, he could only growl as his knife was pushed into his throat by the alien figure, her cries filling his ears and rattling his bones as his mind swam in agony from his throat being slashed and the cry frying his nerves.

Harry’s last thoughts, fueled by loss of blood and liquor filling his senses, were filled with terror and fear. Why was this woman doing this? Who was she? His questions were never answered as the knife once again slid into his neck, hooking behind his windpipe. With a savage twist, the pipe was severed, filling his lungs with a blast of blood as he struggled to breathe.


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