by Drew Nowlin
Detective Burns and Lowry hurried down the creaky hallway with weapons firmly drawn. Cobwebs and exposed wiring along the ceiling blazed with an eerie yellow hew when the flickering lights pulsed. The old mining facility had long been abandoned due to dangerous conditions, but now harbored something far more deadly. The two detectives came to a closed door and caught wind of the all too familiar stench of rancid decay. They paused a moment then kicked the door in.
‘Freeze,’ Burns yelled with his aim trained on the sole figure in the room. ‘Arthur Stephens, you are charged with seven counts of murder. You’re coming with us.’
Arthur did not react. He was shirtless and kneeling in the middle of an open, wooden floor which swarmed with crawling insects. His bony back faced the officers and his physique was slim and dirty. Lowry dropped to his knee, keeping his weapon fixed on the criminal and ignored the insects, while Burns slowly stepped to the left.
‘Your guns will be of no use here,’ Arthur solemnly stated. ‘We reap what we sew.’ Burns cautiously circled wide, sweat beading off his brow and eager to pull the trigger at the slightest hint of danger. Upon passing Arthur’s left shoulder, the detective beheld a gruesome display. Afore the murderer, positioned upon the floor, were seven severed fingers pointing at him and a hatchet. ‘I needed to pay penance,’ the maniac stated as he slowly turned his dead gaze towards Detective Burns. ‘And of course, obtain witnesses.’
‘Witnesses?’ Lowry whispered with fear gripping him even tighter.
‘Your attempt to stop me is meaningless, tonight we three will be judged by a truly tremendous power,’ Arthur explained. Lowry quickly rose to his feet and took position on Arthur’s right. ‘The miners didn’t know what lied beneath this rock, but I know. I know.’ Arthur screamed, attempting to jump to his feet, and the detectives opened fire.
Gunshots and electrical cracks deafened the room and what little light illuminated the room was snuffed out amid the ruckus. Breathing heavily in the blackened void, the two men scrambled in the folds of their coats to uncover their flashlights. With a click the detectives glanced at the ground and saw Arthur’s bullet ridden body laying there, but he was also headless. The gunfire didn’t do that.
A dull wheezing sound crept in as a passing wisp of air forced the detectives to spin around wildly.
‘Something else is in here,’ Lowry exclaimed. The flashlight beams tore across the room, but to no avail. ‘I can’t see anything.’
The two terrified men began to retreat towards the hallway door, crunching insects with each step, until their backs made contact. The room lights struggled one last moment to ignite the room as the men sought salvation, but the frame wasn’t a door. A decapitated body stood before them and with fiendish speed a hatchet flew and the lights ceased once more. Two bloody flashlights hit the floor and shattered.
Richard Edwards has a BFA in Creative Writing and Journalism from Bowling Green State University and an M.S. in Education from the University of Akron. Managing editor of Drunk Duck, poetry editor for Prairie Margins, reporter for Miscellany, Akron Journal, Lorain Journal, and The BG News. He has also worked as a professional writer and editor in the medical publishing industry for several years. For the last 15 years Richard has also taught literature and writing at the secondary and post-secondary levels. He works much of the time with at-risk students.