Parasite (Shadows of the Past Book II) Chapter 5

Chapter 5

Deputy Pete Forest and his partner Deputy Bob Michaels gazed up at the silent house as they sat in their cruiser parked in the driveway of the Reynolds residence. Both of them were familiar with Mark and his story, and each in their own way was rooting for the young man to be successful in his life. Bob had been present when Mark and his two friends had tried to rob the Pick and Go several years earlier. The fact that he had been released early for good behavior was a plus, so when Mark’s parole officer told them about his failure to show up for work and his employer’s inability to reach him, they decided to check things out, and make sure everything was okay.

It was obvious everything was not okay at the Reynolds’. Their old Cavalier was still sitting in the driveway, and after a bit of digging they’d discovered that Mark’s wife Jenny had not shown up for work for the past two days. Which led to a couple of possible conclusions.  They might have left town in the misguided hope to start new somewhere else, but the more likely answer was their bodies were both inside right now after a murder-suicide.

“Are we going in or not?” Ronald Stevens, Mark’s parole officer said from the back seat of the cruiser. He had agreed to come with them.

“Let’s get this over with,” Pete said as he opened his door and stepped out into the relentless midday heat. The incessant cry of the cicadas filled the day, coming from the forest behind the house, and the earthy scent of decay was carried on a soft breeze stirring the leaves of the trees.

“You wait here, Ronald,” Bob said as he exited the cruiser and rounded the hood to stop alongside his partner. Each of them had been in sticky situations in the past, and they each knew they were taking one hell of a risk walking up onto the house as they were. For all they knew, Mark had gone over the edge and was right now watching them through a telescopic sight ready to end their lives.

Having served themselves, they were aware of the effects of Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. Each vet reacted differently when his or her options dwindled in the civilian world as Mark’s had. Being an ex-con had heightened that situation for Mark, whose only desire was to do what was right.

Reaching the foot of the steps of the front porch, they breathed a sigh of relief. Above them the house stood silent in the midday heat, blank windows watching them with unseeing eyes.

“After you,” Bob said and Pete started up the stairs, followed by his partner.

Looking through the window into the living room, Pete saw the food tray next to the easy chair; on it sat a plate of food. The television was still on and he could hear the sound of canned laughter. It was as if something urgent had happened to take them away from their meal. Moving down the porch, he looked into the kitchen window. A pocketbook sat on the counter, a set of keys lying next to it.

“I’m going to try the front door,” Pete said.

“I’ll go around the back. Give me a minute to get into place and we’ll go in.”

Pete waited for his partner to get into position, his hand resting on the doorknob of the front door. He’d already tried it, finding it locked, and knew he was going to have to kick in the door. From the radio mounted on his belt came a single break. That was Bob’s signal to get ready. It was followed by two breaks in quick succession and Pete stepped back in preparation to kicking in the door. When three quick breaks came from the radio he raised his foot and slammed it into the door right next to the knob.

The lock shattered, parts of it skittering across the floor as the door swung in and Pete entered the hallway with his revolver drawn. Crouched low, in order to make himself as small a target as possible, he quickly moved down the short hallway and scanned the living room, checking each shadowy corner before he was satisfied that it was clear.

“Living room clear,” he said.

“Laundry room clear,” Bob’s voice came from the depths of the house and each of them moved through the first floor, clearing the rooms as they went. They met in the hallway by the front door. 

“Let’s do the upstairs,” Bob said and Pete followed him up the carpeted steps.

Ronald had watched as Pete and Bob entered the house; from his place beside the cruiser he could easily follow their progress through the downstairs rooms. When they had moved up the stairs, he approached the house as well. He’d been a sheriff’s deputy himself for a number of years before he became a parole officer, so he was familiar with the procedure and to be honest he felt a little left out of the loop by the deputies’ admonishment that he stay there. So when they moved upstairs he entered the house.

The sound of a television playing came from the living room on the left and he crossed to the set to turn it off as the sound of the two deputies moving through the upstairs came to him through the ceiling. In the resulting silence he heard the buzzing sound of insects that drew his attention to the plate of half eaten food sitting on a TV tray beside the easy chair across from the television. Flies buzzed about the congealed mass of what had once been hamburger helper, lighting briefly on the squirming mound of maggots mixed with the putrid mass of meat and noodles.

It had been a couple of days, at least, since the couple had fled.

But why?

It made no sense. Ronald had spoken with the owner of the small diner where Mark worked and had learned that he was a dependable worker who was always on time, always finished his job without complaint, and was willing to stay on the few occasions they’d asked him to. In fact they had been planning on moving Mark up from dishwasher to food prep, along with a slight raise.

They were as surprised as Ronald when Mark simply hadn’t shown up two days before. No phone call, and their calls to his house had gone unanswered. 

Familiar with Mark’s past service, Ronald had become worried and enlisted the help of a couple of the deputies to lend him a hand and check up on young man.

Ronald heard Bob and Pete coming down the steps just as he became aware of another sound coming from the floor beneath him. The slow, steady scrape of metal over concrete.

Bob and Pete entered the hallway and Ronald waved to get their attention.

“I though we told you to stay in the car,” Bob said as he crossed the living room towards him. Ronald motioned for him to be quiet by placing his finger over his lips. Bob stopped and tilted his head to listen.

From the basement beneath them came the sound of metal scraping against another object.

Bob motioned to Pete that they were in the basement. Pete turned and crossed the kitchen to the basement door with Bob and Ronald close on his heels. Opening the door, he tried the light switch on the wall but the basement remained as dark as the bottom of a deep well.

The beam of his flashlight pierced the darkness as Bob, followed closely by his partner, moved down the basement steps. Reaching the bottom, each man searched the corners of the basement with a flashlight. Thick strands of an unknown substance hung from the exposed rafters, creating long shadows cast by the flashlights that offered refuge to anyone hiding in the basement.

Bob settled the beam of his flashlight on the vertical fin sticking up from the basement floor. Around it a number of large black insects were lying on the floor.

“What the hell is that?” Bob said.

Pete shrugged as he stepped into the jungle of hanging strands, playing the beam of his flashlight all around himself as he ventured deeper into the basement. The sound of movement came from his right and he swung around in that direction just as Jenny emerged from between two strands with an axe held in her hands. Dark flesh lay around each of her oversized eyes as her lips were pulled back in a grimace.

“Hold it,” Pete shouted as he drew his revolver. She continued her advance on him, lifting the axe over her shoulder as if she were about to strike him with it. He fired his revolver from the hip, the muzzle flash temporarily blinding him as the roar of the shot rebounded from floor and ceiling. Jenny was driven back by the impact of the round, a black spot blossoming on the bottom of her chin as the angle of the round took it up into her brain, dropping her instantly. 

Bob quickly crossed to Pete just as Mark appeared from the shadowy depths on his blind side, wielding an axe in his hand, the head resting on his shoulder in preparation for a swing. Bob fired as the sound of Pete’s shot reverberated in his ear, the muzzle flash illuminating the jungle of hanging strands around him, temporarily blinding him. Bob’s shot caught Mark in the center of mass, a black spot suddenly appeared in the center of his chest as he was driven back into the shadows.

Mark returned, surprising Pete, who had expected him to go down from the impact of the shot, and he managed to swing his axe, the blade slicing into Pete’s calf muscle and dropping him to the floor as he screamed and fired again, his shot going wide, ricocheting from the block wall somewhere in the shadowy depths of the basement.

Bob came to him as Mark raised his axe for another blow, black blood blossoming on Mark’s shirt as Bob’s round slammed into the center of his chest. He stepped back from the impact of the round but remained on his feet as he approached them to take another swing.

“What the fuck,” Bob shouted as he fired again, his round hitting Mark in the throat, forcing him to stagger back, yet he remained standing, impervious to their rounds. Pete fired from his position, aiming up, and the round slammed into the bottom of Mark’s chin, angling up into his brain, and he dropped lifelessly to the ground, the axe clattering to the floor beside him.

“Where’s the other one?” Pete said.

“She’s down, I hope,” Bob said as he knelt over his partner with his pistol in one hand and his flashlight in the other as he tried to look everywhere at once.

Ronald stepped back from the basement door as Bob helped Pete into the kitchen. Blood was flowing freely form the deep gash in his calf, and after sitting Pete on the floor, Bob grabbed several towels from the towel rack and used them to try to stem the flow of blood.

“What happened? Did you find them? What was all the shooting about?” Ronald said.

“Go to the cruiser and get the first aid kit,” Bob said.

“What happened?” Ronald persisted.

“Do it now, dammit,” Bob said and Ronald turned on his heel to race from the kitchen.

Bob looked up from the wound on Pete’s leg. “Are you going to be all right?”

Pete nodded in response, pain evident on his face. “What the hell was that all about?”

“Who knows, but I’m calling for back up.”

Bob keyed the mike clipped to his shoulder that was attached to the small radio on his belt, that was further powered by the cruiser’s more powerful radio.

“Base, this is six three, over,” Bob said into the mike.

From the small speaker on his shoulder came the reply in a female voice.  “Roger six three, this is base, go ahead.”

“We have shots fired at our location, one officer is down, over.”

“Roger six three,” came the immediate response, tension evident in the dispatcher’s voice, “back-up is en-route, emergency services have been notified. What is the status of the officer down, over?”

“Status is stable, but life threatening, over.”

“Will he be okay, Bob?” came the dispatcher’s worried voice, breaking all protocols.

“He’ll be all right, Maggie. I’ve got it under control. Out.”

Ronald rushed back into the kitchen with the first aid kit and Bob opened it, removing several cellophane wrapped bandages and placed them next to Pete’s leg. Removing the blood soaked towel, he laid it aside and opened the bandages, carefully wrapping the puckered wound with the sterile bandage.

As Bob worked on Pete, Ronald walked over to the basement door and looked down into the darkness below. “What happened down there?”

“They attacked us.”

“They? Who?” Ronald said.

“Mark and Jenny. I guess you’re not going to have to worry about his parole violation anymore.”

“Are they dead?”

“I sure as hell hope so,” Bob said, shuddering as he looked at the open basement door, recalling the way Mark had kept coming even after being hit several times at close range.

Must be a drug or something, he thought as the sound of a distant siren came to them.

Ronald screamed and jumped back as Pico, the cat, darted through the opened door. Pico stopped halfway across the kitchen and looked back at them; he hissed, and then turned and fled through the back door.

Chapter 4                       Chapter 6

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