Death Cult, Chapter 2: Clean up

The official release of Death Cult is in 24 hours.

Hopefully, you’re looking forward to it as much as I am, especially after reading chapter one yesterday.

I did say that it started a little faster than book 1 did. Heh heh heh.

Now, one of the things that caused me to place Tommy Nolan in Glen Oaks is that it fit. It was a relatively enclosed community, with it’s own small security force. It wasn’t anything big, but it was enough to call the cops in case of emergencies.

…. Fat lot of good that did in Hell Spawn.

But sadly, after everything I put him through in Hell Spawn… yeah, there was no way in Hell that any community, no matter how open, no matter how relaxed they are, no way in Hell would Nolan be allowed to stay.

Then there’s this.

Yesterday’s post was chapter 1, so if you’re behind, just click and you’re right there.

Chapter 2: Clean Up
I waited outside my house as the
street once more became a parking lot for police cars. The Glen Oaks
Village Office, which ran this little community, had objected to the
previous three times that this had happened. It scared the neighbors.
It’s why this was the last day we would live there. At the very
least, we would not have to be threatened with eviction. We were
leaving in the morning.
A new car pulled up, parking at a
fire hydrant just outside the crime-scene tape. Out strode an older
man built like a bean pole. His cheap suit flapped on his thin frame
like a scarecrow in a strong wind. He was bald right up the center,
with a tonsure of gray hair around the back and sides. His jowls were
covered in gray whiskers, as though some grew faster than others.
There was a handlebar mustache that was barely on this side of neat.
He was too old to be a millennial, but they sure loved his hair.
Sorta the way he loved his mustache.
And I worked with him.

“So, Tom, if your place has
been shot up twice, do they charge you double safety deposit?” my
partner Alex Packard called out as he strolled up my walkway.
I gave him a casual shrug … as
casual as one could be wearing a bathrobe outside in the coldest
January on record.

“You forget,” I told him,
“this is number three. There was MS-13, then the car through the
front window, and maybe the Molotov to the front door. So, number
four, really. Remember, there’s a reason we were ‘invited’ to
leave.”
Alex nodded. “Yup. You’re
hard on the upholstery.”
I rolled my eyes. Also the people
of Glen Oaks Village weren’t all that friendly. Never mind that I
had solved the murder of one of their own residents. Perhaps they
just wanted to purge everyone involved in the incident. “Don’t
ask me, I’m just the target. Take it up with the forces of Hell.”
Alex held up his hands. “No
thanks. Last time was enough. More than.”
I couldn’t blame him.
Christopher Curran and the legion of nightmares inside of him had
come close to wrecking my family, my job, and my city. No one wanted
to relive that spot of trouble. That included me, my partner, my
wife, my son, the entire NYPD Emergency Services Unit, and the total
population of Rikers Island.
I walked back into the house, and
Alex came in with me. Uniforms were talking to Mariel and Jeremy. We
were still out of earshot when Alex asked, “How’d they get in?
Any sign of entry?”
I nodded to the uniforms. “They
haven’t found anything during the search. Neither have I. Three
guys came in, no signs of how.” I shrugged. “If these guys
succeeded in killing us off, you wouldn’t know where to begin.” I
frowned, thinking it over. “If they could get out as spotlessly as
they came in, they could have made me look like a family
annihilator.”
Alex gave a wrinkled smile and
shook his head. “Nah. No one who knew you would buy that for a
second. We’d start the investigation immediately by assembling a
list of everyone you pissed off. Starting last week, and working
backwards. I’d be done compiling the list sometime before I die of
natural causes.”
I shrugged again as I considered
all of the various and sundry people I had rubbed the wrong way
during the Curran case. I had made enemies out of at least two
movements and the employees of the “Women’s Health Corps,” and
probably the ACLU. When the newspapers made me front page news, I had
become fodder for every nutjob with an agenda and too much time on
their hands, as well as every anti-cop. It was responsible for one of
the three attacks on my home the previous year.

“Probably right.”
Alex chuckled. “I guess you’ll
have plenty of time to move. No way anyone will let you work on this
case.”
I gave him a small smile. I had
thought of that. “We’ll see.”
Alex nodded to himself, probably
working out his own angle on getting me on the case. “Have
you checked them out for any identifying marks?”
I had to shake my head. “Didn’t
get the chance. By the time I had the scene secured and got Mariel
and Jeremy out, the unis were pulling up. They took over, and I
haven’t been allowed near one of them—the bodies or the
prisoner.”

“Understood.”
Alex wandered over into the
dining room. Mariel was seated against the wall, since the table had
already been packed up and away to the new house. Jeremy sprawled out
partially on her lap, partially hanging off. He had fallen asleep. I
guess after last time, when a demon-possessed serial killer held him
at knife point, this was relatively boring.
Alex gave a little wave. “Hey
Mariel. How’re you doing?”
Mariel gave him a wan smile.
“I’ve been better.” She readjusted Jeremy and looked back to
the uni, who finished making her notes, gave a quick nod, and
wandered off.
Alex grabbed a chair and turned
it around so he could straddle it. “So, walk me through it, from
the top.”
It was over in fifteen minutes,
after we retold the entire incident about six times. For an incident
that took about thirty to sixty seconds, you’d be surprised how
long it can take in the retelling. We went over our plans, the
rehearsals, the guns. Explaining Jeremy’s gun was a problem. It was
in my name, and Jeremy had used it. It was less a police issue and
more a “New York City hates guns” issue. It wasn’t mandatory
that every gun had to be locked away unless it was being used, though
it often felt like it. I had to make certain to avoid all mention
that the three of us considered it “Jeremy’s gun” in the
reports. Don’t ask me to explain the city’s hatred of guns. The
only good argument against guns in the city came from a visiting
Texan who took one look at the crowded city streets and deemed them
too unsafe for anyone to fire in self defense, because if the bullet
went through the target, somebody else was going to get hit.
By the time Alex, Mariel, and I
were done with that conversation, the meat wagon had arrived. Medical
Examiner Holland strolled in. Two bruisers carried a stretcher behind
her. If I didn’t know any better, I would have said that they were
her personal security while she was on the job. But carrying dead
weight around all day was probably better than a gym membership for
building muscle.
Alex laughed at the stretcher.
“You’re going to need another one for upstairs.”
The uniform looked up from the
note pad, confused. “Another two.”
I looked over, startled. There
had been two shots coming into the bedroom, and I would have sworn
that the one in Jeremy’s room wasn’t that bad. “You have three
dead up there?”
The uni arched a brow. “Why?
Should there be more?”

“No. But one
guy should be alive.”

“Really?” She shrugged. “I
guess that’s why that one guy was handcuffed to the radiator.”
I frowned. That last perpetrator
hadn’t been bleeding excessively, so it made no sense why he died.
I looked to Holland. “Sorry, Sinead. More work for you.”
She laughed. “They made the
mistake of breaking into your place. Their fault, not yours.”
They tramped upstairs and came
down with the first body within ten minutes. I waved them to a stop.
Now that the body was moved from where it fell, I figured it was time
to follow through on something Alex mentioned.
Alex and I approached, and
Holland nodded. “I thought you’d want a closer look.”

“If only to see if I knew the
guy.”
Holland gave one of her sly
smiled. “Oh, there’s something here you know.”
Holland pulled down the sheet. It
was the corpse with the bullet graze on the forehead and one in the
ear. He was shirtless, a feature I hadn’t seen in the dark. His
upper chest was covered with a full artistic rendering of a man
getting his heart ripped out and held up to the sun. It was the image
of an Aztec ritual of human sacrifice.
It was also one of the many
symbols left in blood at two of the crimes scenes of Christopher
Curran, while he was possessed by a legion of demons.
I didn’t even look away when I
asked my partner, “Think
I can be on the case now,
Alex?”
Alex winced. “Maybe. You can
replace me. I don’t think I want any part of it.”
I nodded. I didn’t, either. But
I didn’t think I would have a choice. The demon had promised, that
the people who summoned it wouldn’t be happy with me. I had no
reason to doubt it.
He frowned as the body was
covered up and carried away. “You know what? I have a problem.”

“I thought you quit drinking.”
I joked.

“Ha. Ha,” he stated flatly.
He shook his head. “No. I mean that Curran …” He looked around
and made certain that no one was close enough to hear him. His voice
dropped to a whisper as he said, “You could smell him coming?
Right? But you didn’t mention a thing about catching a whiff of
these guys. Did they just walk in without you noticing until they
were almost on you?”
I nodded with a frown. I had
noticed what Alex meant. As part of being a Saint … Argh.
Wonder Worker. I’m not a saint, I’m not dead yet. Why can’t we
get better names for these things?

One of my abilities was to literally smell evil. I had caught the
scent of the demons within Christopher Curran, even before I knew
what they were, and even back when they were in a different human
being. Like a blood hound, I could even smell the lingering stench of
evil left behind at a crime scene, and follow it like a bloodhound.
I’d even smelled it coming off a human once, as well as an entire
building. But these killers had only given off a faint scent. Being
connected to the demon should have caused a smell like a stink bomb.

What fresh Hell is this?

Death Cult can be purchased at Amazon right here.

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