27 Monroe Street
Twenty-seven Monroe Street hunkered itself within a large patch of unkept land full of thick blackberry bushes and towering weeds. It was at odds with the more modern and pristine houses of the estate.
The house itself was held together by mismatched sheets of wood nailed precariously together in a scattering, like a house after a hurricane. It was a confusion of conflicting colours and alternating shades, mixed with a hundred different types of mould. There were windows, but they were clouded with great cataracts of dirt. The door had once been racing green, but it had faded, and the brass handle had turned black.
Kids did not trespass on this land, as though a stark warning had been posted telling them of the dangers that lay inside. This house had truly been forgotten, like a memory that had been locked away for the damage that it could do were it released.
But like any repressed memory, at some point someone or something comes along and awakens it. There is always someone daring enough to throw stones at a resting leviathan.
Gin Sodan sat at the wheel of his car. It was midday, sweat dripped from his brow in a slow but steady torrent. A warble of heat pranced on the bonnet. His eyes were fixed upon the house on Monroe Street. Every bone in his body told him it was wrong, everything right down to its crumbling foundations. Flood gates would open if he went in there, big damn flood gates.
He took a final drag on his cigarette, the cherry glowed a vibrant red and then died away before he dabbed it in the ash tray. He held the smoke deep in his chest, savouring every last bit of it.
'All teams are in place - over,' came the voice of Tom Saunders over the radio. Gin let the smoke out through his nostrils before he reached over and picked it up.
'Roger,' was all he could manage. Gin took one last look at the house; his muscles had tensed in anticipation for what may lay inside.
'All teams move in - over,' he croaked into the radio as he hauled himself out of his blue Mondeo. He made his way toward the house, Tom appeared from across the street carrying a heavy iron ram. A yellow face smiled politely at the ram's nose.
'You all set?' asked Tom.
'As well as I can be.'
Tom took the lead as Gin flicked out a metal truncheon. They both broke into a trot as they passed two brick pillars where a gate would have hung. Their feet crunched over ancient gravel and brushed through long grass that reached out trying to tangle itself around the two men's ankles.
Tom swung the ram backwards and allowed it to freeze there, filling the air with the anticipation of a coming storm, and threw it forward. Wood splintered and cracked, the door flew open. Shock waves rattled through the house, but the precariously held together building did not crumble.
Gin grabbed hold of Tom's broad shoulder and followed his partner through the tight turns of the house.
'Police!' they both shouted. The same call was repeated by other officers who entered from all sides of the place.
The ram hit the floor with a heavy thud. Tom flicked a truncheon into being. As they entered the living room they halted and then spread themselves out.
The lounge was pitch black, but for a stream of light that shone through the sullied windows. Dust danced in the beams of light, like horrified angels. Damp filled the air, the smell clawed at the lungs, making them tighten with revulsion.
The rest of the officers converged on the lounge. In the centre of the room, illuminated by a single beam of light, was a sofa. A figure lay on it, sprawled out.
The man was naked. His hair was dishevelled, a few weeks of beard growth coated his cheeks, but he had the body of a trained athlete.
'Pick him up,' said Gin.
Two officers took the figure by the arms and hauled it off the sofa. The sheer weight of an adult, uncooperative human forced them to slump to the floor in a clatter of uncontrollable limbs.
'Come on, mate,' said one of the officers, as the pair struggled to get back to their feet and haul the person with them.
Groggily the suspect’s eyes opened, it groaned and began to slowly take in what was happening. The figure's brown eyes locked onto Gin and Tom standing across the room, batons in hand. A wave of fear passed over its face.
Then, as though a switch had been flipped, the face began to change; muscles relaxed while others contracted, creating a surge that traveled from one cheek to the other. It was as if the entire face was being re-wired.
The figure's body language had also been altered dramatically. Every angle, posture and movement spoke of only one thing: Rage.
The two officers reeled back as they were shed like a great coat. The man's fatigue had disappeared and now a strong, highly capable fighter stood before them, his muscles rippling.
He turned on the group of officers across from Tom and Gin. They flinched, but held their ground, more stunned than afraid.
A stocky lad came forward, his weapon held ready before him. The man lunged in a single stride and came well within range to strike the young officer.
As the truncheon came down the man flowed about the officer's arm and at a critical moment, shifted his weight, breaking it.
The sound bit into Gin's heart and made his stomach clench.
The young officer dropped to the floor, cradling his arm. His empty hand lay useless at the end.
The suspect, as there was no doubt this was, tested the truncheon's weight before flicking it about his wrist. In his hands, it seemed deadlier than a gun.
'Take him, all of you!' Gin bellowed.
Twelve men rushed forward, yet the odds still, somehow, seemed stacked against them. With a boxer's deftness he avoided their clumsy attacks. With effortless skill the truncheon danced in his hands as he picked the men off, one by one. Cheek bones cracked, eye sockets popped and blood flowed freely. Standing among the fallen officers, the suspect was calm, his breathing slow. He was a predator amongst his prey.
Yet more officers came at him. He punched, dodged, threw furniture and spun into kicks that sent his attackers flying across the room. But eventually, reality returned to this small forgotten house. The scales began to balance again, the furious angels dancing in the diffused daylight through the windows slowed. Instead of meeting his skill, the officers used their sheer weight of numbers to smother him.
It was too much for the suspect and he let out a tortured cry of frustration at his physical failure. The sight Gin saw was that akin to bees defending their hive from an impervious hornet.
Just as Gin believed that they had finally mastered him, the suspect roared and heaved at the pile of men on top of him. His head popped free and the tight mass of men began to slip and crumble. Desperate cries filled the room as the officers struggled to keep him contained. The suspect screwed up his face, a thick vein traced vertically down his forehead and his roar reverberated in all their hearts.
Gin leaped on top of the scrum, his truncheon held high. He cried and brought the weapon down with all the force he could drive into that one movement. As the baton cracked over the suspect's head, a thunderbolt seemed to pass through the mass of bodies as the tension snapped, sending them all collapsing to the floor.
Shock and the resulting silence that filled the house froze everyone. No one took a breath; no one breached that barrier of silence. The broken room resembled a battlefield, bodies and ornaments scattered everywhere.
The suspect, Shaun Osborne, lay unconscious on the floor. A trail of blood trickled from a gash in his forehead. About him the battered officers struggled to their feet, and began to look down on the body before them. They were tense, as though a lion lay there, sleeping, yet potentially dangerous all the same.
'I'm glad he's chosen to exercise his right to silence,' said Gin. He held a pair of handcuffs in his right hand and looked up, meeting Tom's eyes.
His partner let out a sigh.
'Shauny,' a soft, feminine voice whispered. 'Shauny, it's time to wake up now.' It was the voice of his mother, the same voice that had encouraged him to sleep, and shushed his tears. 'Shh, little Shauny, my precious boy. Everything is going to be alright now.'
But she had died five years ago. Blood had swirled in the bath water around her naked body, like crimson tendrils that had come to steal her away from him. Her vacant brown eyes stared into his. The mouth that had uttered such wonderful words to him, that had helped him win against his nightmares, slowly opened. A blood-soaked snake twisted from between those lips and dropped between her pale breasts, splashing into the water. It danced through the water towards him, curling left and right, its head held above the water, its eyes fixed on him. As it lunged, fangs lashing out at him, he screamed and woke up.
He shot upright, lost his balance and fell to the tiled floor. His head was heavy and pain drummed into his skull with the rhythm of his pulse. Concussion spun the room about him and the light above stabbed harder at the tenderness of his brain.
Something was wrong. He was familiar with the feeling of losing time, that disorientation and fear of what he may have done. This was different. Something was missing.
That warm embrace that had let him sleep all these years was gone. He was forced to live again, to feel pain and suffering - to hear that damned choir of voices in his head.
Where had that comforting person who had soothed his hurts and told him he was not a freak gone? The one that had said: 'The world just does not understand you, Shaun. I do. I can stop your pain. Come, come closer, my boy, so that I may look into those beautiful brown eyes of yours.'
Shaun had slept for a long time, longer than anyone ever should have done. He could remember the bed that had been presented to him. Thick black bed posts supported a sumptuous mattress and duvet. He had laid there, his mind lost in the folds of those wonderful sheets, in complete comfort and solitude. 'Rest,' the man had said, 'I will deal with everything else.'
Young Shaun looked about him, he was in a cell. He knew the smell, the usual single bunk and the tiny barred window near the ceiling. A toilet stood in the corner, a single roll of toilet paper sat on the seat. The walls were sanitary, plain, all but for a patch above his bunk.
A string of red symbols had been painted across the wall in a perfect line. They were unlike anything he had seen before and to look at them twisted his stomach and made the pulsing pain only worse. As he looked closer at the alien runes he realised that they were drawn with blood, his blood. Shaun's left wrist had been badly scratched and fresh blood still glistened in the cuts. The nails of his right hand were black with dried blood. Oh god, he thought, it's all started again.
He scrambled across the floor toward the toilet and grabbed the toilet roll. He's left me, I can't do this again. 'I wont!' He studied the white toilet paper and began to tear huge pieces off and shoved them into the back of his throat. He gagged. His mouth dried, but it didn't stop him. He was frantic, tearing at the roll and slamming the pieces into his mouth, shredding his lips, dribbling blood down his front. Not again...
He wretched and spluttered. He tried to take breath involuntarily, but the paper clogged his airway. His body jerked and writhed as it began to fight. He collapsed to the floor and, whether his mind wanted it or not, his body wasn't going to give in easily. His face became purple, veins popped out of his forehead and his eyes became blood shot. The room spun and darkened and there he slowly began to fade away; his legs, now the only thing that twitched.
From the hallway, the guard heard the commotion and burst into the cell. He fell to his knees, sliding some of the way to Shaun's side. He took the young man by the neck and shoved his hand into the man's mouth. Using two fingers, he scooped the paper out of his throat.
Shaun gasped and wretched at the air. ‘No!’ he croaked. ‘No!’ He slipped into unconsciousness in the guard’s arms.
'Frank! Frank! For fuck sake, get in here!' said the guard.
Another guard sped down the hall and ran into the room. 'What the-' he began.
'Just get the bloody nurse will you!' As Frank sped back down the hallway calling for the nurse on his radio, the guard looked up at the runes on the wall and back down at the man in his lap. 'Haven't you been busy?'