Thursday, October 1, 2015


Genre: Horror/Mystery/Fantasy

By Daniel Skye


            That morning, Richie Carter checked out Bennett’s Marina. There was a stationary trailer on the property where the local fishermen could purchase bait, ice, and tackle. The owner, David Bennett, was an early riser. And he was drinking coffee behind his desk in the trailer when he saw Richie pass by.

            “Can I help you?” Bennett asked, poking his head out from the trailer door. He looked familiar to Richie. He could’ve sworn he’d seen his face in the papers before. But he didn’t bother asking.

            “Maybe. I’m looking for a boat called the 4-Play. Owned by a guy named Mac Wilson. Real first name is Charles.”

            “Dock C, slip twenty-two,” Bennett told him. Then he asked, “Are you with the police? Are you with the other detective I spoke to earlier? I think he’s still down on the dock.”

            “Yes…” Richie replied, unsure of how to answer. Someone had beat him to the punch. Had his brother sent one of his fellow officers? Or was somebody else looking for Mac Wilson?

            Richie sensed he could be walking into a trap. He had his gun on him and made sure it was out and tucked under his arm as he approached Dock C. Slip twenty-two was empty, but there was a man waiting at the end of the dock. Tall, dark, mysterious.

            Richie continued down the dock, minding the planks that had begun to rot and splinter. The man turned his attention to Richie, his hand slowly reaching into his overcoat. Richie saw him making his move and he reached under his arm, drawing his Colt .45 before Garton’s fingers could grasp his Luger.

            “Don’t even think about it!” Richie shouted. “Hands in the air!”

            Garton sighed. It was early and Garton was tired and not in any mood for bloodshed. If he killed Richie, he’d have to kill David Bennett too. He couldn’t have any witnesses. Richie was not wearing a uniform, and he wasn’t wearing and suit and tie, either. Garton assessed he wasn’t a cop and saw an opportunity to defuse the situation with simple conversation.

            “He’s not here,” Garton said, raising his hands. He assumed Richie was looking for Wilson too. Perhaps Wilson owed him money. Garton didn’t really care what Richie’s beef was with Mac. He just needed Mac for information.

            “Who?” Richie asked.

            “Mac Wilson. I assume he’s the reason you’re standing here.”

            Richie, still gripping his Colt .45, moved closer to Garton.

            “What do you know about him?”

            “I know he’s scum. And I know he’s an acquaintance of my current employer. All I need is information.”

            “Funny you say that. I had a few questions I needed to ask Mac myself. If he were here, I’d start by asking why somebody tried to kill me last night. You wouldn’t happen to know anything about that, would you?”

            “I don’t even know your name, stranger. And I don’t care to know it, either. All I know is I was hired by a man for a very peculiar assignment, and this man just so happens to have a connection with Wilson. Before I fulfill my obligations to my employer, I need to know more.”

            “Who is your employer?”

            “I’m not at liberty to reveal that.”

            “Who’s the one with the gun here?”

            “Technically we’re both armed; you just so happen to have the drop on me at the moment. That could change at any time.”

            “I don’t want to kill you,” Richie said. “It’d be a waste of bullets.”

            “And I don’t desire to kill you,” Garton said. “I don’t kill for free unless I absolutely have to.”

            “Then spill it. Who are you working for? You sure as hell aren’t a cop. And you’re not FBI or CIA.”

            “Neither are you. Maybe I should ask who you’re working for.”

            “My name is Richie Carter and I’m a private detective. I’m working a case with the Dorchester police. A snuff film found its way into a little girl’s bag of Halloween candy. I’m looking for the men on that tape. I have reason to believe Mac Wilson was one of them.”

            “Looks like we have common interests,” Garton said. “Perhaps we can assist each other.”

            “Sure. You can start by telling me who you’re working for.”

            “Kirk Warwick. He’s a retired preacher dying of throat cancer. I learned of his connection with Mac Wilson and another petty thug named Nico Cirico through Fenton Meeks. Meeks said the guys had a nickname for him. They called him The Outsider.”

            Richie lowered his gun and stared in disbelief. “What did you just say?”

* * *

            Garton followed Richie’s beat-up Oldsmobile back to Dorchester. Richie received one call on the road from Anthony.

            “Hey, broski,” Anthony said. “I’ve got some unsurprising news for you. All the prints on the gun belonged to Jacob Price. The serial number was filed off, as you already know, so tracing the sale of the gun is going to be impossible. Price had no criminal record and had no family. He was living in one of the vacant rooms of the hotel he was working at. What have you got on Mac Wilson?”

            “His boat was gone. Looks like he might’ve set sail someplace else. But I’ve got a new name for you to look into. Mac and Nico had a connection with an older man. They called him The Outsider. His real name is Kirk Warwick. Check it out for me. And I need everything you know about a man named Zack Garton.”

            “Garton!” Anthony exclaimed. “Holy mackerel, that is one guy you don’t want to frig around with. He’s a real heavy hitter. Killed at least twenty people we know of. Of course, there were no witnesses and there was never enough evidence to convict him, but trust me. He’s ruthless. A cold blooded killer.”

            “Well that answers that,” Richie said. “Get back to me when you can about Warwick.”

            Richie stopped his car near a set of train tracks and Garton pulled up behind him. Richie exited the Oldsmobile and Garton followed his move.

            “How long have you been a hit man?” Richie asked bluntly.

            “A long time,” Garton sighed. “Long enough to know I should’ve done something else with my life.”

            “How many people have you killed?”

            “To be exact? Twenty-nine.”

            “Look, all I really care about is finding out who the men are on that tape. I don’t care who you are, where you’ve been, what you’ve done. But if you try any shit with me, I don’t care who you are, you’re a dead man.”

            “Don’t cross me and I won’t cross you,” Garton assured him.

            “So who’s the mark?”

            “Beg your pardon?”

            “The mark. The target. The guy Warwick hired you to grease.”

            “It’s in the car,” Garton said, walking back to his vehicle. He opened the passenger side door and took out the glass jar. The dragonfly fluttered about harmlessly without a care in the world. “Now you see why I have some questions about Warwick? He fears this insect more than his impending death. Needless to say, it’s peaked my curiosity. It’s not every day someone pays you to whack a bug.”

            “If we’re going to find answers, we need to find Mac Wilson first.”

            “Just for my own edification, what was on that tape?”

            “You don’t want to know,” Richie shuddered at the thought.

            “I’m afraid I do if we’re going to proceed from here.”

            “It was a tape of a young girl. Her name might’ve been Nadia Sanborn. Four guys, all wearing masks–they…they…desecrated her. They raped her. They tortured her. Whipped her. Burned her. Carved her up with a knife. Extinguished lit cigarette butts on her tummy. Then they slit her throat from ear to fucking ear. And now I can’t get those images out of my fucking head. It haunts me day and night. That’s why I need to find the four men that were on that tape. Happy?”

            “Not particularly, no,” Garton sighed. “I don’t kill women, or children for that matter. I’ve never even hit a woman before in my life. Frankly, it sickens me.”

            “At least we’re on the same page there.”

            “Alright, you’ve convinced me. I’ll help you if you help me. No tricks, no double crosses. But once this is over, we go our separate ways and we never breathe each other’s name again.”


            “Hey,” Garton sighed before Richie could walk back to his car. “You said four men. What about the camera? Was it set up on a tripod or was there somebody filming it?”

            “Fuck,” Richie muttered. “You’re right. The camera wasn’t stationary. There was a fifth man in the room with them.”

            “Well let’s worry about that later on. First things first. We need to find Wilson. And I have a good idea of where to start. I don’t think Fenton Meeks has been entirely honest with us. All I’ll need is a few minutes with him, and then we’ll know everything he knows.”

* * *

            Joker’s Pub was deserted that afternoon. Mackenzie, the girl who had served Richie the last time he showed his face at the pub, was behind the bar. She recognized him instantly, but he didn’t acknowledge her. Didn’t even make eye contact with her. He and Garton walked straight past the bar and towards the back office.

            They tried the door, but it was locked. Carter pounded his fist against the door. “Meeks, open up. I promise this will be quick.”

            “Don’t make promises you can’t keep,” Garton cackled.

            Richie continued banging on the door until Mackenzie leaned over the door and called out, “I think he’s napping. Haven’t seen him all day.”

            “Fuck it,” Garton muttered and rammed the door with his shoulder. It didn’t budge the first time. But the third time was the charm.

            Richie entered first and gasped at the sight of the blood that had pooled around Fenton’s desk. His body was propped up in a chair, hands placed in his lap.

            The skin of Meeks’ torso was flayed, peeled back. And the fat and muscle had been shredded away, fully exposing his ribcage and organs. But one crucial organ was absent.

            Well, it wasn’t exactly missing. His heart had been extracted, and placed in the palms of his hands that now rested in his lap.

            “How did the girl not hear anything?” Richie asked. “He must’ve been screaming at the top of his lungs.”

            “Nope,” Garton said, walking around the desk, careful to avoid the puddles of blood that had collected. He pried Fenton’s jaws open and showed Richie what else was missing. “They cut out his tongue. He couldn’t have screamed even if he wanted to.”

            “Jesus,” Richie exclaimed. “I have to call this in to my brother. And you need to vamoose. The cops don’t need to see you hanging around here. Use the backdoor on your way out and meet me in the parking lot behind Jack’s Liquor Mart in two hours.”

            Garton nodded and was on his way. Richie took out his cell and dialed Anthony’s number. As he turned back to the door, he noticed it for the first time.

            A message scribbled in blood above the door lintel.

            Satan appears in many unassuming forms…

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