A collection of horror, mystery, and science fiction tales, with contributions from fellow writers, James Darko and Dexter Lynch. If you wish to contribute, I'd be happy to showcase your writing. Just send me a message. The stories are free to read and always will be. Some are better than others (I'm speaking only for myself), but I can't give all my best ideas away for free, ha ha. Feel free to share any stories, but please be sure to give credit where credit is due.
Tuesday, November 6, 2018
KARMA: PART TWO
Detective Boone clutched at his
unsettled stomach, his insides churning at the sickening sight. Fifteen years
on the job and he couldn’t remember the last time he felt this queasy.
The victim’s skin had been sliced,
flayed, and stripped down to the musculature of his anatomy. Boone had never
seen anything like it–the muscles, fat, tendons, ligaments, and soft tissue all
exposed at once.
The victim was male, no doubt about
it. That was another ghastly sight Boone could have lived without. But they had
no chance at a positive ID without dental records, which would take hours,
especially at that time of night.
The medical examiner confirmed that
the victim was alive when it happened, right before he excused himself to expel
his wife’s pasta primavera. He felt every second of it, the examiner had
shared with Boone. And that hideous thought would stick with him in the days to
The men from his precinct were
combing the area, searching for any clues or evidence, perhaps a murder weapon that
the killer carelessly left behind.
Slim chance it was the same guy. But
he had to question the MO and the timing. This was too savage, too aggressive
to be a petty grudge or a simple act of revenge. If you want someone dead, you
get a gun and you shoot them. Quick and easy, Boone thought. And if you
want them to suffer, there are plenty of other ways. But nobody takes the time
and effort to skin another human being alive unless the act itself has meaning
or they’re trying to make a statement.
He had to give George Sloan a heads up. They went back a long
way and he owed him the courtesy of a phone call.
“We’ve got a body out here in Dorchester, skinned from head
to toe. It was found in the woods, but left out in the open.”
“And you’re thinking–”
“I don’t know. I know you’re almost
two hours away in Hither Hills, but it’s still Long Island. And I heard about
the incident in Fairview. It just got me thinking.”
“Yeah, everyone heard about it. Some
asshole in our department leaked it to the press before we could even ID the
victim. The vultures swarmed on our only witness and got him to sing. Now
everyone in the county is spooked. The papers are printing articles about a
killer clown terrorizing Long Island. It’s going to be on the damn front page
“Detective Boone,” one of the
officers interrupted. “You’re going to want to take a look at this.”
“George,” Boone said, his voice a
whisper. “I’m going to have to call you back.”
Three missed calls from Gina Vasquez.
She can wait, Val thought. She’ll
thank me when I bring her this story.
Val returned to the room
her editor reserved for her. But only for a quick shower and a change of clothes.
Her instructions were to interview John Mendelson, check out of her hotel, and
head back to the city.
Change of plans.
The prison where she’d interviewed
Mendelson was upstate, about a three hour drive from the Manhattan offices of
the Daily Buzz. And about a six hour drive from Hither Hills, Long Island.
Val’s plan was simple: Check out after she collected her things
and washed the prison stink off of her, then haul ass back to the office. She’d
drop off the tape, the one with Mendelson’s interview on it. The Daily Buzz
would have their story and she’d be free to continue her investigation. She
couldn’t let this rest.
Hither Hills was where the
Mendelson’s had lived. And something told her she’d find the answers she needed
Her phone pinged. One new text from
her editor: ANSWER YOUR DAMN PHONE!
Alright, the bitch has waited long
enough, Val thought. She called Gina back. No hello. No greeting of
any kind. She just came right out with it.
“We’ve got a fresh body on Long
Island, unidentified. But there was a witness. And the perp matches the
description that Mendelson gave the cops years ago. A giant lunatic in a
red-and-black clown suit, green hair, floppy shoes, the whole deal.”
“Nope. Fairview, Long Island. About
three towns over from Hither Hills. But the same two detectives who handled the
Mendelson case were assigned to this one. Their department has jurisdiction
over almost half of Suffolk County. You’ll want to talk to them too, if they’re
willing to give a statement.”
“Way ahead of you,” Val said.
Hither Hills, Long Island.
Val wasn’t the least bit surprised
that the Mendelson’s neighbors refused to speak with her. Nor was she surprised
that the local police didn’t return her calls. Turner and Sloan weren’t talking
to the press or answering any questions at this time.
But Val was tenacious and she had
her share of connections. From what she gathered, Sloan was the more sensible
of the two. It only took a few phone calls and a few cheap bribes to snag his
address. She parked along the curb and waited for him to return home.
Sloan pulled into his driveway just
before dark. Val caught him as he was walking to the front door. His senses
were sharp. He knew she was behind him without even turning his head.
“I can’t answer any questions at
this time,” Sloan said, without turning to face her. He fished through his
pocket for his house keys and accidentally dropped his cigarette pack. He
snatched it up quickly and stuffed it back into his pocket. Must be hiding
it from his wife, Val thought.
“I saw John Mendelson this morning.
He told me quite the story. Even gave me some new information about the clown.”
“Lady, there’s no clown,” he
sneered. “Just drop it.”
“My paper is publishing the article
tomorrow, whether your department likes it or not. This is your one chance to
have your voice be heard before it goes to press, and to shed some light on the
murder in Fairview.”
“Detective Sloan, please, I drove a
long way to get here and my editor will kill me if I don’t get a statement.”
“You want a statement? John
Mendelson murdered his family in cold blood. Hacked them up into pieces. I can
get you the photos if you’d like to see them yourself. And as for the incident
in Fairview, we’re looking into it. I can assure it has no connection to the
He slammed the door in her face.
“Pssst,” someone whispered. She saw
a teenager pressed against the side of the house, smoking a cigarette, clearly
trying to hide the fact from his father. How ironic, Val thought.
“You want information?” the kid
“Information is always useful in my
line of work.”
“Not here,” he said, shaking his
head. He crushed his cigarette under his foot and pointed east. “Drake’s Deli. It’s
six blocks from here. Meet you in fifteen minutes.”
Val waited fifteen minutes outside
of Drake’s Deli before Sloan’s son arrived. The kid’s punctual, she
thought. She hadn’t even gotten his name. But she didn’t need one. She couldn’t
get an official statement without his parent’s permission. So any comments
would have to be kept off the record or credited to an anonymous source. But
Val had a feeling his info would lead to further revelations.
“What’s your name?” she inquired.
She didn’t need to know, but she wanted to know in order to establish a
connection. She wanted to know a little about him first. It was her curious
nature that had led her to this job in the first place.
“James,” he said. “But everyone at
school calls me Jim or Jimmy. I prefer Jimmy, to be honest. My dad hates it. My
mom’s not crazy about it either.”
“And you’re a smoker, Jimmy?”
“You want one?” he asked, reaching
for his pack.
“No thanks,” she said. “I gave it
up. Do your parents know?”
“They don’t have a clue. My dad’s
too busy trying to hide the fact that he smokes from my mom. And my mom is too
preoccupied worrying about him. The job and everything, you know. It’s normal
for a cop’s wife to worry.”
“So Jimmy, what do you have to tell
“Buy me a pack of smokes and I’ll
tell you everything I know.”
What a little punk, Val
thought. But bribes were common in her profession. Though she didn’t like the
idea of buying cigarettes for an underage teenager. That still didn’t stop her
from wandering into Drake’s Deli and grabbing Jimmy a pack of menthols.
“I overheard my dad talking,” Jimmy
told her as he lit one. “He said there witnesses description matches the
description Mendelson gave them. Someone in his station leaked the info to the
press and he’s pissed. He won’t talk to you. But this isn’t the first time I’ve
heard about the clown. It’s like a local urban legend. Karma the Clown.”
“Karma, that’s what Mendelson said.”
“Yeah, I have no idea who came up
with it. But it stuck. He even has a following.”
“Yeah, like a cult. COK.”
He chortled. “C-O-K. It’s an
acronym. Cult of Karma. I don’t think they put a lot of thought into the name.
They’re not the thinking type. They’re doers.”
“And what is it that they do?”
“While when they’re not worshiping
Satan, they’re spray painting they’re insignia all over town and terrorizing
the locals. They never really hurt anyone. It’s usually vandalism, destruction
of property, that sort of thing. But man, those guys give me the creeps. And I
wouldn’t put it past them to do something extreme.”
“Like kill someone.”
“You think they killed the man in
“No, I think it was the real deal.”
“Karma? Don’t tell me you believe he
“A loon in a clown costume who likes
to mutilate people? It’s totally possible.”
Val was rapidly becoming a believer.
The kid was right. It was not only possible, it was probable. There are active serial
killers all across the company. They all have an MO, a calling card, a clue
they leave behind, a message they’re trying to send, a gimmick or a nickname.
It was plausible for one of these lunatics to slap on some clown makeup and
adopt an alternate persona. Maybe this was how the killer justified his
actions. It wasn’t me, it was the evil clown controlling me.
“That’s all you’ve got for me?”
“Afraid so. But I can point you in
the direction of somebody else. Jack Yee. He’s a local. Guy is ancient. Been
living in Hither Hills long before I was born.”
“Thanks for the tip.”
As Val drove away, she caught a
peculiar sight in her rearview mirror. A black balloon tied to the grating of a
storm drain, dancing in the wind.
“Mr. Yee?” Val presumed as he opened
“Whatever you’re selling, I ain’t
buying. I’m happily retired. I just take photographs for my website now. I
don’t need a timeshare, I’ve already found Christ, I’m not looking for a new
security system and I like my current cable provider.”
“I’m not selling anything, Mr. Yee.”
“Then why are you here at this hour?
How do you know my name and my address?”
“A local kid mentioned you, told me
this is where I could find you. I’m a reporter for the Daily Buzz. Do you have
“I suppose I could spare a few
minutes. I think I know what this is about.”
He invited her in. His living room
could use some renovations. Mustard yellow wallpaper. A couch laminated in
plastic. A rocking chair crammed into the far corner of the room. A box TV that
dated back to the 90’s. Hardwood floors that were all scuffed up.
She sat on the sterile couch and
Jack returned with a cup of coffee. He offered her one, she declined.
“You mentioned a website. What kind
of pictures do you take for your site?”
“All kinds. Pictures that capture
the magic and beauty of Long Island; the side people don’t always get to see,
the side people don’t always think of when they think of Long Island. There’s
beauty in everything. You just have to look for it.”
“Not much beauty in Fairview. I’m
sure you’ve heard by now. It’s in all the papers.”
“I heard. Poor guy. Hard to believe
that anyone could be capable of eating another man’s face. Makes me sick.”
“But do you believe the story?”
“Do I believe there’s a killer clown
on the loose? I don’t know about that. But, stranger things have happened in
this unpredictable world.”
“You’ve lived here a long time?”
“Longer than a piece of string.”
“So you know about John Mendelson
and his family?”
“Oh, yes. Everybody does. It was
“And you think this is all some
Jack simply shrugged his meek,
“It has a name you know,” Val said. “The
clown. That’s what John Mendelson told me.”
“You spoke with Mendelson?”
“I interviewed him this morning.”
“And then you drove all the way to
“I’m very dedicated to my
“I can respect that. So what do they
call it, the clown?”
“Hmmm…I’ve heard it before. And
there’s a group of degenerates that hang around these parts. They’re a cult.
They paint their faces, cause havoc and destruction. They worship this urban
legend as if it’s real.”
“What if it’s not just a legend?”
“I mean, I know a lot of people have
disappeared over the years in this county. A lot of people. I’m not
saying it’s all the work of one person. But…”
“But, there’s always a chance.”
“If you want my advice, I’d quit
while you were ahead. This whole thing reeks of trouble. Nothing good will come
“I’ll take my chances. But thanks
for your concern.”
As Val was ready to excuse herself,
Jack shared one more seemingly unrelated detail.
“When I was a kid, I remember a
disturbance at the town fair. A mother had lost her child. She was frantic,
running around screaming, calling his name, asking everyone if they had seen
him. The only witness was the town drunk, Petey Matthews. But he swore he saw
the boy being dragged off by a tall clown. He said he looked away for a second
to find help, and when he looked back, the clown was gone and so was the boy.
The cops didn’t believe Petey, him
being the town drunk and all. But they went through the procedure. Questioned
all the workers at the fair, searched the grounds, interviewed all the locals
who were in attendance that evening. But they never did find that boy. That
was, oh God, almost sixty years ago. I must’ve been seven or eight at the time.
But there’s no chance in hell it’s the same guy. He’d be older than me and I’m
No way, Val thought. Couldn’t
be the same man. Unless he isn’t a man at all. Unless he’s…not human.
“It’s about time you called me
back,” Sloan said, answering his cell.
“George, we’ve got a serious
situation out here,” Eddie Boone said.
“You told me, Eddie. The John Doe in
“It’s way, way worse than that. Our
boys made a gruesome discovery at the abandoned rock quarry. George, it’s
a…it’s a mass grave. We’ve already pulled twenty, maybe thirty out and they’re
still pulling bodies as we speak.”
“Jesus Christ,” George sighed. “What
do you know so far?”
“As much as you do. We don’t know if
it’s the work of one person or if there’s a bigger picture here. But…”
“There’s that word again.”
“What if it’s him, George? What if
it’s really him?”
“You really want to go down this
“We have to consider every
“I could really use a fucking
cigarette right about now,” George groaned. “Okay, say for a second that he’s
real. That there is some seven-foot-tall, psycho killer clown running around
Long Island undetected. If he’s that good, how do we catch him?”
“Oh fuck,” Boone exclaimed.
“What is it?”
“You know what tomorrow is.”
“Halloween,” George gasped.
“If that sick freak really exists,
he’ll be able to blend in with everyone tomorrow night. But we can look for
him. We can stop him. Or stop whoever’s behind this.”
“I’ll make my department aware of
the situation. Our boys will be out in full force tomorrow. They’ll be on every
street corner. I’ll tell them what they need to be on the lookout for. I advise
you to do the same out there. And Eddie, if you are right, God help us.”
Val popped the brakes and the car
skidded and jerked before it came to a dead stop. It was dark and the streets
were poorly lit. Her eyes had to be deceiving her.
She got out and observed her
surroundings. The area was deserted, and the building in front of her stood
abandoned, with its windows boarded up and a sign posted to the door that read
BUILDING CONDEMNED: NO TRESPASSING.
But none of this was what originally
caught her eye. What grabbed her attention was the lone black balloon tied to
the door handle. It danced and swayed in the wind, almost inviting Val,
beckoning her to come on in and take a peek.
Val felt a dirty hand clamp over her
mouth. She tried to scream, but her protests were muffled by this grimy,
catcher’s-mitt-sized hand covering half her face. The person grabbed her by the
waist with his free arm and dragged her inside the building.
He threw Val down to the floor and
instructed her to stay put. Her instincts told her to scream for help or beg
for her life, but fear got the better of her and she remained silent.
One by one, they emerged from the
shadows, their faces smeared with paint. She didn’t recognize any of them; not
like she could with the clown makeup. They formed a tight circle around her,
boxing her in.
“We’ve been watching you, Ms. Reed,”
one of them spoke. “You have many questions about our leader.”
“You know him? You’ve seen him?”
“We serve his cause, whether or not
he truly exists. Karma isn’t just one man. It’s an ideal, a philosophy, a way
of life. We are all Karma.”
“You’re all crazy,” Val said boldly,
given the situation.
“Enough talk. Enough questions. It’s
Devil’s Night. Time for the party to begin. But first, let’s take care of Ms.
Reed. She can be the first victim of the evening.”
Val felt a skull cracking blow on
the back of her head and her whole world went black as she was swallowed into
the dark abyss.
When she came to, she gasped at all
the blood. She ran her fingers through her hair, rubbed the back of her
throbbing head. Some bruising and a small gash. Nothing life threatening. So
where did all the blood come–
Her eyes spun around the room. The
walls were streaked red. Eight torsos littered the floor; their heads severed,
limbs hacked straight through the bone. The floors were slick with blood and
she could barely take a step without sliding or tripping over a severed
Val gasped and nearly bit her tongue
to stifle an oncoming scream. It was standing in front of the door, blocking
her only exit.
It was a man, if you could call it a
man. Seven feet tall, maybe taller. He made Val look like a mere insect in his
presence. He wore a red-and-black suit with vertical stripes, just as Mendelson
had described it. Tufts of green hair sprouted on opposite sides of his
otherwise bald head. Toxic green, the color of slime.
He had black diamonds painted over
his sinister eyes. And white paint smeared all over the rest of his face,
nothing meticulous about it. This wasn’t a man who spent hours in front of the
mirror painting his face.
He wore fingerless gloves, exposing the burnt skin that his
costume and the paint concealed. Val wondered if he had been in an accident at
some point or if the twisted freak had done it to himself.
He pushed the door open and backed out slowly, never taking
his eyes off of her. But he hadn’t laid a finger on her. He left her alive,
just as Mendelson had theorized. That he often leaves a victim or a witness
behind, not to frame them, but to tell his tale. To spread the word.
Val waited until long after he was gone before whispering his
name. “Karma…he’s real.”
Val was wiped. She’d spent her night
at the police station, having the tables turned on her. Normally it was Val
asking all the questions. But now Sloan and his partner had questions of their
own. She’d told them everything, and then she told it to them again, and again.
At least Sloan is finally talking, she thought.
They were looking for any cracks in
her façade, any inconsistencies in her story, anything they could use to cast doubt
over her claims. But nothing changed the fact that there were eight dismembered
bodies in the building Val had led them to. Sloan couldn’t deny that. And he
seemed more convinced by Val’s story than his partner.
She took more a liking to Sloan.
Michael Turner was cold and lacked any sense of charm. He was the kind of
detective who cracked bad jokes at murder scenes. Sloan was serious and
straight to the point, but he had a big heart under his rough exterior, Val was
certain of that.
Sloan brought her coffee and a bagel
in the morning.
“We’re obviously not charging you
with anything. And we’re not going to hold you here any longer. You’re free to
go anytime you want. A bit of advice, leave Long Island. Don’t stick around
here any longer. It’s not going to be safe tonight.”
“Your men are going to find him and
put an end to this?”
“They’re going to try.”
“I can help. I can be like a lookout
or something. There’s got to be some way I can help out.”
“No way. Just go.”
“I’m not going anywhere. So either
find something to arrest me for or let me help.”
“I won’t let you help, but I won’t
force you to leave town either. Do what you feel you need to do, but please
stay out of our way.”
“Deal. And detective, I wish you the
best of luck.”
Val left the station in a hurry, got
her car, and went back to work. First, she reached out to one of her many
sources, an ex-con named Felix. For two hundred dollars, Felix got Val what she
An unregistered firearm. She ran her
thumb across the part where the serial number had been scratched off.
“It’s loaded,” he told her as she tucked
it into her purse.
“Safety on or off?”
“Off. You know how to use it?”
“I’ve shot a few in the past. My dad
was a hunter.”
“Should I ask why you need a gun?”
“For an extra hundred bucks, I’ll be
your bodyguard. I got nothing going on today. I’ll stick with you all day.”
“A hundred bucks? What a gentleman.”
“It’s the least I can do for an old
friend. I appreciate you not burying me in that article.”
“You were young. You made a mistake.
It happens. I’m glad to see you’re staying out of trouble though,” she said
motioning to her purse.
“Hey, you asked for the gun. You
have your connections, I have mine. But I’ve been keeping my nose clean and I
haven’t robbed any houses. Those days are behind me. I even have a job now.”
“I believe you,” she said. “And I’m
happy for you.”
“Ah what the hell, I’ll hang out
with you for free. It could be fun. Consider me your personal bodyguard for the
“You really are bored, aren’t you?”
“You have no idea how boring
“Well, if you’re bored now, you’re
really going to be bored where we’re going.”
“Where are we going?”
“Google would be quicker,” Felix
“Google wouldn’t have all the
articles I’m looking for,” Val said as she used the libraries microfilm archive
to look up various missing persons articles. She went all the way back to 1958
and found the story Jack Yee had told her about the missing boy.
The cops had assumed the town drunk
had cried wolf. But he had given a vague description of the clown that was
included in one of the articles. It made mention of a red-and-black clown suit
with vertical stripes and green hair. Petey Matthews had gone out of his way to
make note of its eyes. “The blackest eyes I’ve ever seen,” he was quoted.
“There was something evil behind those eyes.”
Then she went through the others.
And there were dozens of missing person’s articles. Unsolved cases dating back
even further than 1958. Karma had been busy. Very busy.
When she’d read every article word
for word and her eyes were sore, she searched for articles involving town
“Oh my God…”
“What is it?” Felix asked.
“There was a fire in Hither Hills,
1932. A circus tent caught fire. One of the performers was badly burned. He died
shortly after, succumbing to his wounds. His name was–”
“Karma,” he finished.
“I should tell Detective Sloan.”
“Well if you’re going to do it, do
it without me. Cops and ex-cons go together like pizza and pineapple.”
“I like pineapple on my pizza.”
“Let’s save this discussion for
another time. Come on, we have to go.”
Val decided it best not to tell
Sloan. What would she have told him? That a clown with the same name died from
a fire in 1932 and there must be a connection? That it’s his vengeful spirit
killing people off? That this is a case of the supernatural? He’d laugh in her
But Val wasn’t going to let it rest.
It was Halloween. The perfect night for him to come out and play. He could
blend in with any crowd on this night. So Val and Felix cruised the
neighborhoods, drove up and down every street, circled every block. It was
getting dark when they stopped for coffee and to refill her gas tank. Once Val
had her caffeine fix, they found a street to park on and plan their next move.
“We’ve been driving for hours,”
Felix said. “We need to try something new.”
“I’m open to suggestions.”
“Maybe there’s a way to call him
out. Batman has the bat signal. Maybe there’s a signal or a sign, a way to
summon him. Or maybe just saying his name draws him out. Maybe you have to say
it a certain number of times.”
“He’s not The Candyman.”
“Wait a second…he killed those eight
people, but he let you live. Why?”
“What do you mean?”
“You said that John Mendelson had a theory that he wanted
witnesses, that he wanted people to spread the word about him. But what if he
let you go because he was…saving you for later. What if he marked you as one of
his next victims?”
The passenger window exploded. A colossal hand reached into
the car and grabbed Felix by the throat. Felix gasped for air as the man dug
his burnt fingers into his neck. Blood spurted across the windshield as he
ripped Felix’s throat open with his bare hand. Val screamed as she stumbled out
of the car, dragging her purse with her.
Trick-or-treaters were screaming, sobbing, and scattering in
every direction. Val frantically dug through her purse and produced the gun she
got from Felix. She raised the gun, thumbed back the hammer, and squeezed off
one shot. The bullet ripped through his chest. He stumbled back, then lurched
She fired a second shot, which clipped his shoulder. He
staggered back, then took a few steps forward. She squeezed off two more
rounds, the bullets tearing through his red-and-black stripes. How is he
She emptied the gun, all ten rounds, hitting her target every
time. The last round finally brought him to his knees and he collapsed in the
“HOLD IT RIGHT THERE!” the officer shouted. “DROP THE GUN NOW
AND PUT YOUR HANDS IN THE AIR!”
Val tossed the gun and raised her hands. “It’s not what it
looks like. I was defending myself. He killed my friend. And a lot of other
people. Call Detective George Sloan. He’ll tell you who I am.”
“I don’t care who you are. Just keep your hands in the air.”
The officer looked down and saw the seven-foot monster that
matched the description his department had given out. He called it in with his
radio and turned back to Val. “You can put your hands down. Good job. Nice
Val breathed a sigh of relief. She was still trembling.
“It’s okay,” the officer assured her. “It’s all over.”
Karma sprang to his feet, knocking the gun from the officer’s
hand. He wrapped one hand around his throat and lifted him off the ground with
ease, before launching him into the windshield of Val’s car.
Val made a move for the officer’s gun. He kicked it away and
snatched her wrist. She jammed her thumb into his eye, digging her nail in. He
didn’t scream, but the pain was enough to get him to release his grip. She
scrambled towards the gun, picked it up, turned and fired a shot into the air.
“Where the…where the hell did he go?”
Sirens emanated in the distance. Her eyes scoured the block,
frantically searching for this monster of a man. But he was nowhere in sight.
The night went from chaotic to quiet in seconds.
The police arrived and Sloan and Turner followed. “What the
hell is going on here, Reed?”
“He was just here. I shot him ten times. Ten times, Sloan.
He’s not human. He isn’t fucking human.”
“The clown? He was here?”
“His blood is in the street.”
“Where did he go?”
“He just vanished. I didn’t even see him slip away.”
“Something tells me this is going to be a long night,” Turner
Turner and Sloan let Val ride along
with them. Sloan insisted on it. She was bruised and she was battered, but she
wasn’t beaten. Valerie Reed never quit.
“We’re never going to find him,”
Turner said. “We’re wasting our time. This psycho has gone back into hiding. He
won’t show his face again tonight.”
“I’m not giving up,” Sloan said.
“Stop!” Val shouted. Sloan hit the
brakes and they all stared out the window at the house with a dozen black
balloons tied to the mailbox.
“The son of a bitch is taunting us,”
Turner slammed his fist on the dashboard.
“The place looks empty,” Val said.
“It is,” Sloan said. “This block is
a housing development. Real estate agency bought up the neighborhood and
they’re in the process of remodeling.”
“Let’s go,” Turner said, not even waiting
for Sloan. He kicked the door in and was the first one inside. He was also the
first one to smell the pungent stench of gasoline that filled the air.
Sloan followed him in, and Val
followed behind him. They cleared the foyer and the living room, then the
kitchen. They went up and down the hallway, clearing the bedrooms.
“Nothing,” Turner groaned. “We lost
The closet door swung open and Karma
grabbed Turner by the head, squeezing with both hands until they heard his
skull crack and his eyes burst from the sockets. Sloan couldn’t risk firing a
shot in a house soaked in gasoline. He struck Karma with the butt of his gun,
which didn’t even faze him. He ripped the gun from his hand and flung Sloan
halfway across the room and into the wall.
Val rushed to his side and checked
his pulse. He was alive, just unconscious. She frantically searched his pockets
and found his cigarettes and the lighter tucked into his half empty pack.
Karma crept across the room,
moving towards her. She looked him dead in those black eyes and smiled. “Karma
is a bitch.”
She brought the lighter down to the
floor and house went up in flames, the fire spreading from room to room at an
alarming pace. Fire crawled up the walls and engulfed the hallway. Sloan
regained consciousness as Val pulled him to his feet.
Flames licked at her legs as they spread
across the floor. The intense heat and smoke was already too much to bear.
“We need to get out here,” Val said
as they hobbled towards the door. Sloan glanced around the room.
“Where is he?”
Val looked back and saw his crumpled
body on the floor, a giant ball of flames, his suit melting in his skin.
The smoke was thick, the oxygen
thin. They dropped to the floor and crawled on their stomachs, like crawling
through hell itself.
They gasped for air as they made it
outside, just before the fire could consume the house entirely. It took the
fire department an hour to put it out as paramedics tended to George and Val.
“I’m sorry about your partner,” Val
“I’m sorry too. He was a good man. I’ll
“What do we tell people?” she asked.
“The truth, I suppose. I don’t know
who will believe it though.”
One of the firemen approached them
as they were sitting in the back of the ambulance.
“Yes, what is it?”
“The fires out. But…”
“I hate that word.”
“But we only found one body.”
“We’re still searching, but as of
this moment, we’ve only got one body. Looks like Detective Turner, from what we
can tell. I’m sorry for your loss, by the way.”
Val and George exchanged worried
“It can’t be,” she whispered. “It
Sloan gazed skyward, as if the
clouds above held all the answers. But the sky offered no reply. It held only
gloom and gray and a promise of rain to come.
Some things could simply never be
explained, and this was definitely one of those things. And it still wasn’t
over. It would never be over. The legend of Karma would continue to grow and
spread. And he would live on, one way or another.