Archive | June, 2012

Spirit Cat (Part 4)

16 Jun

Stairway to Heaven?

 

The cops were standing around in the street, talking amongst themselves.

The street was on a steep slope down to the primary school at the bottom of the hill and the ground also fell away to one side of the pavement. The houses were all reached by going down a flight of stairs from the pavement to get to the front door.

There was also a longer staircase that led down from this street to the lower level of the next street along. The area was a bit run down. There was moss growing on the walls and there were potholes in the road.

Some of the steps on that long set of stairs down to the next street had been broken loose by local kids rolling an oil drum down them. The people had complained, but the council never did a thing about it. Cut backs, they said. What could you do?

“Same MO as before?”

“Seems like. Bastard comes along with a clipboard. Stands around looking all bothered and confused. The girl comes up and asks what’s the problem.”

“Or she doesn’t and he asks her for directions. Works either way.”

“Whatever. Anyway, the basic pitch is the same. He’s a driver working for a vet. He’s got a poor little kitten in the back of his van. She’s just had an operation and he’s supposed to take it back to this poor little old lady who’s all sad and lonely and worried ‘cause her kitten’s not well.”

“And she couldn’t come and collect it ‘cause she’s not well either.”

“But he can’t find the address and can the little girl help him, I know.”

“What a prick.”

“Well, we know that’s what he pulled on the last little girl ‘cause she told the Female and Child Officer all about it.”

“Lucky the bastard got chased away that time.”

“Neighbours thought they were doing the right thing pulling that dog off him. Soon as they heard what the little girl had to say they were pissed off they hadn’t left him to it. Maybe brought a long a few more dogs to help out.”

“Anyone heard what’s happening with that dog?”

“Well, he had to go to court. Sheriff had a look at him and decided he wasn’t dangerous. No one’s come forward to claim him, so he’s up for adoption.”

“Family going to have him?”

“Seems like. They think the sun shines out of his hairy little arse.”

“Well, wouldn’t you?”

“He’s just a dog, for crying out loud. Who cares?”

“So anyway, forensics have confirmed it was the same bastard as did the kid we found in the park. Is that right?”

“Dead right.”

“So is he lucky finding these kids or is he watching them? Does he know their routine?”

Shrugs all round.

“Pity we can’t ask him.”

“So the bastard makes his pitch and the girl goes with him to look at his map and stroke his kitten.”

“Don’t say it like that. Sounds like a euphemism.”

“Whatever.”

No one felt like laughing.

“So he does what he does.”

“Yeah. He does what he does.”

“But then it all goes tits up.”

“How d’you mean?”

“Well, she says there was this cat. White cat. Sitting right on top of the van.”

“So what? He allergic to cats?”

“Don’t know. Don’t care. All I do know is he doesn’t like the cat. Tries to hit it. The cat runs off and the stupid bastard goes chasing after it. Cat goes down the stairs. Bastard goes after the cat.”

“Never liked cats much. I mean, with a dog you get unconditional love. They treat you like their own personal God. Cats just fucking use you.”

“Anyway, one broken step later…”

“First time I ever saw a plus side to vandalism.”

“You think?”

“Well, see for yourself.”

 

 

He was sprawled across the stairs; head tilted at the wrong angle. His cold, dead eyes staring into eternity. The Nightmare Man. Nightmares over.

And as he lay there unmoving, growing ever colder against the concrete, a sleek white cat approached him, sinuously weaving her silent path towards him.

When she came to a point where she could look down into his face, she sat down, her neat white paws placed with precision together in front of her. She stared at him. Her yellow green eyes gazing intently into his empty sightless eyes. Softly she began to purr.

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Spirit Cat (Part 3)

9 Jun

The Nightmare Man

 

 

Fuck it, his leg hurt. And the back of his hand itched and burned where it had been scratched.

Where the hell had that cat come from, anyway? The dog probably belonged to a neighbour or something. It didn’t belong to the family. He’d watched them for long enough and he knew they didn’t have a pet.

Well, maybe a goldfish or a hamster or something, he’d never been in their house, so how would he know? What he meant was they didn’t have a dog, he’d have seen them walking it. Or a cat, he’d have seen them let it in or out the window or something.

What they’d had, and what he’d wanted, was the little girl. She was the right age, blonde hair, blue eyes, soft skin, pink and soft little lips. Just exactly right.

So where the fuck had that cat come from?

Didn’t matter. He’d got away clean. They might get fingerprints or hair and fibre or whatever, but it didn’t matter because he wasn’t in the system. He’d never been arrested, never been printed, photographed or anything. And they sure as hell didn’t have his DNA.

Well, maybe they had it now. In fact he was pretty sure they would have it now. He’d seen the tent in the park and all the cops moving about. The ones in uniform, the ones in the white suits, the ones in plain clothes. They hadn’t seen him, of course, he’d been invisible in the crowd, but he’d seen them.

So they’d have his DNA and his fingerprints, and probably hair and stuff as well. They’d have got it from the grave.

They’d have his DNA from this morning too. He’d shed enough blood when that fucking dog had bitten him, so if they had their eyes open they’d see fresh blood at the scene and they’d take a sample. They’d compare it with whatever they’d taken from the park and they’d know it was him again.

But so what?

They couldn’t find him.

He was like a disease, but in a good way. He moved about unseen, unheard, completely unnoticed. You only knew where he’d been because of what he left behind him. He was the Nightmare Man. Used to be he had nightmares himself. Now he gave them to other people.

So they’d know it was him, but they wouldn’t know who he was or where to find him, because none of what they had would lead them to his door. So fuck ‘em. He was blowing in the breeze, just like a disease.

Anyway, he needed to find another girl. And this time he’d make it perfect. Better than before. Because before had been okay, but it still wasn’t good enough. He needed more. He needed it to be perfect and he couldn’t stop until it was.

So he’d have to carry on.

Anyway, he had a couple of candidates lined up. Not fully developed, but well on their way.

As far as he was concerned they were projects. Works in progress. They were just raw material for him to work with, not children. Not really human at all.

He would pick them out, drawn by their bright eyes and clear soft skin. The delicate fragility that just invited you to do them some harm.

At first they were just faces in the crowd. Then he would track them down. He would find out where they lived, where they went to school. Who else was in the house, what their routine was like. He enjoyed all that stuff. It was good steady work and it gave him a lot of satisfaction.

And as for the payoff?

Well, he’d put in all that effort so he might as well get something out of it. After all, he’d earned it, hadn’t he?

He thought back to the way he’d started.

There’d been nothing major to begin with. Just petty stuff. A way of hitting back. A way of making his mark. Of getting back at everyone else for their indifference. He’d hated being invisible back then. Now he liked it.

He’d started by watching people. Watching them when they couldn’t watch him. It had made him feel powerful. It made him feel good.

But it hadn’t been enough, so he’d tried taking trophies. It had started with items of laundry taken from washing lines. Underwear mostly.

That was safe enough and it gave him something he could keep. Something to collect. Well, everyone needs a hobby. But he’d still wanted more, so he’d started breaking and entering.

He’d been an opportunist then, just nipping in and out as and when he could, but the opportunities didn’t come as often as he’d liked so he’d had to start making opportunities for himself.

He wasn’t very sophisticated in his technique, he knew that. He couldn’t have picked a lock to save himself. But you didn’t really have to. Not if you had a secluded place. You could always find a way in if you took your time. People were so careless. Thick, the lot of them.

But he’d always been careful to make sure there was no one in when he’d tanned the place. Last thing he wanted was a stand up fight.

Of course some people had dogs, and dogs were a nuisance.

They weren’t much of a deterrent, though. All you had to do was break a window, then shove your arm inside, wrapped a thick towel. The dog would grab you by the arm, but its teeth couldn’t get through the towel. And while it was busy chewing cloth, you gave it a couple of sharp taps on the head with a claw hammer, and that was it. No more dog, no more barking and you were in and doing whatever you wanted.

And of course, once he’d done that, once he’d killed the dog and left it’s corpse bloody on the carpet, he knew the truth.

Watching was okay. Stealing was fun. Smashing up someone else’s stuff was good for a laugh, but it was all just kid’s stuff. It was just for fun. Killing things was the real deal. It was what he really wanted to do.

Of course dogs weren’t ideal. They had big teeth and they barked a lot and most of them had owners.

Cats were easier. They were smaller and quieter and they liked to stray so even if they did have an owner it would take time for anyone to realise that their darling little moggy was gone.

So why step up. Why take children?

Well, there’s only so much fun you can have with a cat.

And anyway, the preparation was good. There was this theatricality to it. No point in just jumping out from behind a tree like the bogeyman. You had to work out your story, get your basic pitch straight, then work through the permutations, all the different things they might say, questions they might ask, objections they might make. You had to anticipate the countermoves and think about how you could deal with them.

It was just like playing chess.

Except he’d always been shit at chess and he was good at this.

But anyway, you had to get in character. It was like being an actor. And when it was all in place, you were ready to do your little turn.

But your basic pitch had to be pretty good to start off with. You had to be inventive. Kids these days were too sophisticated to go for the old ‘you want to come and see my puppies?’ routine. Animals still worked, though. Kids love animals. But you had to come at them sideways, so they didn’t see you coming. That was the skill.

The line he’d worked out was that he was working for a vet and he was taking a sick little animal back to its poor little old lady owner. He couldn’t find the address and he was already late, so could the little girl help him? Could she come and look at his map for a second? It would only take a moment and he’d let her stroke the little kitten if she liked.

The van was just along the street and it wasn’t like she was really going away with a stranger, was it? She was just going a bit down the street and helping a nice man to take a sick little kitten back to a poor little old lady.

Complete ballocks, of course, and no one over the age of ten would go for it. But then again he didn’t want anyone over the age of ten, so what the fuck?

And as for that bloody cat?

Well, so what? It was a one off. So was the dog. No way would anything like that ever happen again. The chances against ever seeing either of those dumb animals again was a million to one. At least.

 

Spirit Cat (Part 2)

2 Jun

SOCO

 

The Scene of Crimes Officer was wearing her white suit in order to avoid contamination as she took a swap of the bloodstain. The uniformed cops called her SOCO for short.

“Think you got something there?” one of the uniformed cops asked.

“Well, we’ll get DNA, if that’s what you mean?” she told him. “Don’t know if it’ll tell us anything useful, though.”

“It’s his blood though. Kid swore to it. The dog took a lump out of him and that’s where he bled.”

SOCO sighed. They never seemed to learn. DNA seemed to have become some kind of talisman for them. It never occurred to them that having a sample of DNA was all well and good, but you needed something to compare it with before it could help you. If the sample didn’t match anything in the database then it would be useless to them. It might become useful once they had a suspect, but first they’d have to find the suspect. This sample of DNA wasn’t going to help them do that all on its own.

“Bastard had it away on his toes while they were trying to get the dog under control,” the uniformed cop added.

“Well, don’t be too hard on the dog,” SOCO replied. “He might have done us a big favour here.”

“Oh, I’m not complaining. He scared the bastard off. Far as I’m concerned he earned his doggy biscuits for today.”

“You think he’s a stray?”

“Probably. No one round here knows him. No collar on him, although you can see he’s had one from the fur on his neck. We took him over to the kennel. They’ll have to put him in front of the Sheriff, of course.”

“Then what? Needle in his vein?”

“Not if the Sheriff decides he’s not dangerous.”

“And then what? They keep him for a week and then put him to sleep?”

“You want him?”

“When the hell am I ever home to look after a dog? Bloody shame if he gets put down, though.”

“I doubt that’ll happen. They’ll check him for a microchip, of course. But they won’t find the owner. My guess is he’s been dumped. That’s why he doesn’t have a collar any more. So they’ll have to re-home him. I think the little girl’s family might have him.”

“So they bloody should. Give him a medal.”

“Think he’d prefer a lamb chop.”

She went back to her work.

“I mean he’s not a vicious dog. Not really,” the uniformed cop continued. “Dog handler had no bother with him at all. Half in love with the little bugger, she is. The neighbours say he calmed right down as soon as the bastard had gone, didn’t cause a bit of trouble after that.”

When she’d secured her swab against contamination the Scene of Crime Officer took it back to her car.

Sitting in the bonnet of the car, she found a snow-white cat, sleek and quite comfortable in her fur and whiskers.

The cat was staring at her with that eldritch intensity that only cats can muster. She had a neat little pink nose and pink inside her ears, but her eyes were a curious colour, somewhere almost exactly between yellow and green. It occurred to the Scene of Crimes Officer that artists probably had a word for exactly that colour, but she had no idea what it might be.

“You were at the park, the other day, weren’t you?” she said to the uniformed officer.

“Where we found that grave? The little girl? Yeah. I was on the tape.”

“You remember a cat at the scene?”

“Not really. Just a bunch of sick wankers wanting to watch the show for free. Should’ve been selling tickets, for fuck’s sake.”

SOCO reached out her hand towards the cat, but it simply put its ears back and hissed before running away.

There had been a cat there all right. SOCO remembered it well. It’d been inside the tent they’d used to cover the shallow grave. She’d shooed the cat away, terrified that the scene might be contaminated.

The cat had left all right, but not in any great hurry and it’d left a good, solid, hiss behind it.

It was the eyes that SOCO remembered. Narrow, vicious little eyes. No fear in them at all. Just pure distilled hate.

Had the cat known the little dead girl? Maybe been her pet? But that was just silly. Cats don’t behave like that. They don’t stand guard over the body of a dead owner. A dog might do that. They could be incredibly loyal to their owners, even when the owners didn’t deserve it. But cats are different. They’re mercenaries. If they don’t like your house, they just pack their hankies and leave.

No, obviously the cat had just wandered into the tent out of sheer curiosity, and then it had objected to being moved on. That was all. And if you think there’s any more to it, you’re just losing the plot. Big time.

(To be continued…)