Home Visit: Part 2
Read PART 1 here
I was lying in bed, listening to the whistle of wind against the side of the house. It had always been a comforting sound, and one of the few good things to come from the winters in New England. They had become colder every year since my husband had passed, and my joints hurt a little more every November to March. Sleeping alone was something I hadn’t grown accustomed to in the 12 years since Richard had gone on.
Sleep eluded me as I found myself picturing the sinister Dr. Lukas Dumitru. His eyes, blue and unfeeling, then his lips, red and delicious. The way his hands were strong and gentle, the way his shirt had tugged against the bulges in his arms and shoulders. Then his eyes again, this time with their pale yellow hue of rot. I imagined, despite my best efforts not to, him standing at my door in the cold dark. A hulking shadow, bending to try and fit into the hallway.
The house creaked as the heat of my furnace met the chill outside, and it sent goosebumps across my skin. I couldn’t place why, but I wished that I had not invited him into my home. Something here felt tainted as if he had left a bit of himself behind to keep an eye on me.
It was about ten minutes after the clock in my sitting room struck 11 that I decided sleep needed a bit of persuasion. I tried not to take medication outside of my prescriptions whenever possible, but I knew I wouldn’t be able to manage a wink without it.
The floorboards were like ice on my feet, even through my slippers, and I pranced to the bathroom down the hall. I thought, God, is that furnace only heating the outside of the house? Shadows loomed around every corner and nook.
Once I made it to the bathroom, I flipped on the lights and fished through the stash of translucent orange bottles for the Tylenol PM. The plastic bumped against each other, a clattering that sounded far too loud in the quiet, tile-lined bathroom.
There was another creak, this time from the hallway. It was not from the heat; I knew the sounds of the house too well for that. That was from someone’s weight shifting. I tried to look out into the darkness, but my eyes had already adjusted to the harsh fluorescent lighting of the bathroom. Only dancing spots crossed my vision as I squinted into nothingness.
I’m no idiot, though, even at my age. I had small handguns hidden in several rooms around the house, a precaution Richard had insisted on once he knew the cancer was going to take him. I remember at the time thinking it was a bit paranoid; it’s not as if the house were any more lavish than the others on the street. As I reached into the small compartment above the mirror, I was more than grateful for his paranoia.
My fingers found the wooden butt, and I wrapped my shaking fingers around it. Steady, I told myself, we have to be steady now. The small revolver was heavy, and I feared it might slip as sweat gathered in my palms. As I stepped out into the dark of the hallway, I closed my eyes and waited a moment. I opened them again, and they had adjusted a bit more to the darkness. A shaft of moonlight struck through the front door and left silver stripes across the parts of the floor and wall it touched. The tip of my gun caught the light, and I could see it trembling. God only knew if I could hit anything like that.
There was enough light to see I was alone in the hallway. Perhaps I had, indeed, let my nerves get the best of me. Then those three soft piano notes came floating out into the hallway with me from the sitting room. I audibly drew breath in and threw a clammy hand over my mouth to stifle a scream. It was that terrible and beautiful song Dumitru had played earlier that day. The one about the moon and the birds singing.
I thought about running back to my bedroom and locking myself in until morning light. I didn’t have a cell phone, and the only landline was in the sitting room from whence the haunting melody emerged. And again, I would be damned before letting someone make me stand down in my own home.
I took another step forward, and a light flicked on from the room, bathing it in a mad, flickering white light. Someone had turned on the old TV in the corner that found only static during the terrible snowstorms at night. The song began to pick up in pace as it climbed in register and volume. I took a slow breath and approached the room.
“I don’t know what you think you’re doing here,” I called out, “but you picked the wrong old broad to mess with.” I tried to sound hardened, hoping to put the intruder off balance.
I rounded the corner, and the gun fell from my limp fingers. A pathetic whimper escaped my lips, and any intention of standing strong had fled out into the moonlight. Some quivering shadow crouched next to the TV, shrouded behind its dancing glow. Blood was strewn everywhere. Puddles had gathered in the carpet, and it was thrown against my bookshelves as well as across the television’s glass screen. Then the shadow stood, and I saw the neighbor’s dog, Fletch, torn in two on the floor. Its mouth was frozen open in a paralyzed and eternal yelp of pain. The shadow towered in the room. Its head reached nearly to the ceiling where two glowing pail white eyes and a line of crooked and jagged teeth hung. Two shapes on either side of it settled, like wings. It was the thing I had seen through the glass of my door.
“My God” was the only thing I could muster.
The teeth opened. “Not quite, my dear.” The voice was so deep I could feel it in my chest. The hair in my ears tickled as if it were whispering directly into them.
The song had reached its climax, and the piano thundered from somewhere in the room with us. I prefer to listen to this song while I work, he had said. My body shook violently, and I could taste bile rising in the back of my throat.
The shadow smiled down at me. “I’ve come to offer you a gift, my dear.”
I couldn’t respond. My brain was still struggling to keep it all together, between the winged creature in my sitting room, the ravaged body of the animal all over the floor, and the maddening song that played on and on, without end.
“Are you not tired of being alone, being in pain? Diseases and medication are all you know.” It reached an arm out and, though it passed into the light of the static, it remained a shadow, devoid of any detail. “Come with me into the moonlight where we can drink our fill of life and blood. Look at you tremble as a small animal does when cornered by a predator. Become the predator with me.”
The only thing I could think to do was to recite the Lord’s prayer. I hadn’t been to church in years, but I remembered every word. “Our Father, who art in Heaven. Hall-”
“Defiled be that name,” the voice boomed down at me. “Curse your God and the light.”
“Hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come-”
“Let the kingdom of chaos reign. That is all that will ever be.” The shadow stepped forward, blocking any light from the TV. “You know this. Your husband was taken by chaos. And you will be as well. But we could reign in it together.”
“Don’t you dare speak of him! You… you monster!” I could feel the tears gather in my eyes.
“Monster?” Even as I’m telling you this, I scarcely believe it, but the thing in the dark sounded hurt. As if I had somehow slighted him. “I know how this monster made you feel.”
The shadow stepped back into the dark, and I could only just make out movement within it. Then he came forward into the flickering light again. Once he crossed into view, he looked as he had earlier that day. He wore a white button-down, undone halfway down his chest, and his sleeves rolled up to his elbows. His slacks were the same as before, but he was now barefoot. Odder yet was that his feet were floating three or so feet above the floor. His arms were outstretched like a crucifix of desire. I’m ashamed to say how I felt as I saw his bare skin and vascular forearms laid bare. My God, he was right. No matter how much of a monster I might believe him to be, I couldn’t deny what my body was telling me, and I hated him even more because of it. I felt violated as much as I did entranced. He was turning my flesh against me, poisoning my mind just as my kidneys were my blood.
“You vile thing,” I uttered.
“Vile, and everything you want right now.” He floated towards me, and I fell back, terrified of what might happen if he caught me, but wanting nothing more than to find out. “I’m offering you what emperors have slaughtered millions to achieve, what dictators have tortured to find. It’s here; I’m here. You must accept.”
I closed my eyes and cried. I pictured Richard, from when he was younger, much younger. As was I. We were in his car. I thought it was so sexy. The memory was so strong in my mind that I could almost smell the leather again. I wanted to feel like that again. Vibrant and alive. But at what cost was I willing to get it back?
When I opened my eyes, he had leaned over me with his hand extended. “Your soul is the chosen landscape, so shed the masquerade of life that will end bitterly in the cold. What family is left will mourn for a time and then move on until they, too, find themselves in that same state. All of you rotting in the ground, shriveling as discarded, rotting fruit for the gnats and maggots to fester within and nothing more than faded stones to your names. Step out into the moonlight with me.”
And I took his hand… God help me; I took it.
Detective Kilsby sat back in his chair and looked over the transcript in front of him. He rubbed at his eyes, a terrible habit his wife reminded him of regularly.
Det. Laden dropped another, thin, manila folder atop the growing pile on his desk. “More wood for the fire,” she said pithily. “Anything from the phone transcripts with her neighbor?”
Kilsby let out a chuckle devoid of humor. “Yeah, a bunch of nonsense. She thinks some creature of the night broke in, and that’s how the neighbor’s dog wound up all over her living room carpet.”
Laden took a sip from her coffee. “Anything about Dr. Hubert or where his head might’ve gone?”
Kilsby rubbed his eyes again. “Nope. What about that?” He pointed to the folder she had dropped off. “Is that on our elusive Dr. Lukas Dumitru?”
“If only. Nobody’s heard of him at St. Mary’s Regional or WMC. Those were the only two hospitals that provided her any services. I still have a few more to follow up on in the area, though. I still think he’s going to come up a ghost. Just the name sounds fake.”
“Yeah.” Kilsby sighed, “Still…makes a hell of a story, doesn’t it.”