My heart raced with fear but my body, my soul, exploded with pleasure as he made love to me.
Then he was gone in a flutter of shadows and Marty was whispering in my ear again. “What was her name?”
I opened my eyes, and the yellow light streaming from Marty’s eyes was almost blinding.
And I knew that it wasn’t him I wanted – it was the other – the one I had seen in the darkness – the winged man, the smoker, the letter writer, Pott....
“Her name?” Marty asked again, and this time the softness had gone out of his voice, he had started to sound frustrated with me. I didn’t want Marty to touch me anymore. I just wanted him to be away from me. His touch repulsed me, made me want to gag.
“Hudson,” I whispered, in his ear. “She told me her name was Kiera Hudson and that she was one of the Dead Flesh.”
Hearing this, Marty began to chuckle. I’d never heard him laugh like that before, it sounded old and rasping like an old man coughing on a throat full of pipe smoke. As if waking from a dream to find my ex-boyfriend taking advantage of me, I pushed him away. He didn’t resist. Marty climbed to the edge of the bed where he sat and laughed.
“So at last she has come back,” he grinned to himself, his eyes spinning in their sockets. “Kiera Hudson has returned.”
“You knew her?” I asked, moving away from him up the bed, feeling confused and furious that Marty had been kissing me.
Then, turning to face me, he said, “I knew Kiera Hudson. Of course I did. I was the person who murdered her.”
“You’re scaring me, Marty,” I murmured, scrambling off the bed. “What do you mean you murdered her?”
But before he’d had the chance to say anything, someone started to scream from below.
“I’m blind!” the voice screeched. “He’s made me blind!”
Even though the voice was high-pitched and terrified, I knew it was Marty’s I heard. But that was impossible, right? Marty was sitting at the end of the bed. Then, Marty started screaming from outside.
“What’s going on in here?” I breathed, racing towards the window. I looked out onto the street below to see Marty stumbling into the road.
His hands were outstretched as he clutched blindly at the air.
“Help me!” he screamed. “He’s burnt my eyes out!”
Not being able to comprehend what I was seeing, I glanced back over my shoulder to Marty – the other Marty – sitting and grinning back at me from the edge of the bed.
“Marty?” I whispered at him.
Chuckling to himself, he looked at me, his eyes spinning like two Catherine Wheels in his face. “Oh, Sophie,” he smiled and clapped his hands together.
The sound of screeching brakes from outside made me turn back to the window. With my hands clasped to my face, I watched the blind Marty corkscrew into the air as an oncoming car smashed into him. With his arms flapping like wings on either side of him, Marty seemed to float in the air forever, until he hit the road with a sickening thud. I span around and looked back into the room, but Marty had gone, and in his place stood a giant. Standing at least seven foot tall, he was nothing more than a thin sheet of flesh wrapped around a pile of bones. His face was long and pointed, his cheeks and eye sockets sunk deep into his face. He wore a blue denim shirt, loose-fitting jeans, and a navy blue baseball cap on his head. A red bandanna was tied about his scrawny throat. His lips looked cracked and dry, and as he smiled at me, I could see a black set of fleshy gums and a row of smashed teeth that looked as if he had been chewing on a mouthful of toffees. But it was his eyes. They almost seemed to spin in their sockets like fireworks on bonfire night.
“Who are you?” I whispered.
“It doesn’t matter,” he smiled as he headed for the door. “You won’t remember me.”
Looking at his freaky form, I said, “I won’t forget you.”
At the door, he turned back, and with his lips looking so thin that they looked like a crack in a plate, and his seething eyes boring into mine, he said, “Sophie, you seemed to have forgotten so much already.”
Then, he was gone, and I was standing alone in the bedroom that I had once shared with...
“Marty?” I gasped. He had been trying to get it on with me – kissing me – and I’d told him to piss off. Then what had happened? I looked at the dishevelled bed. I’d pushed him off me and he had run from the room.
“What a pig!” I snapped, taking a small holdall from the bottom of the wardrobe. Not really knowing what I was doing or why I was doing it, I snatched up a shoebox that was lying on the floor at the foot of the bed, and along with Marty’s iPod, I placed them into the holdall.
“I can’t believe it!” I fumed as I headed down the stairs. “How dare Marty think I would just jump straight back into bed with him!”
At the foot of the stairs, I saw that the front door was hanging from its hinges like a wobbly tooth. “Marty?” I called out. “Where are you?” I was still mad at him for trying to get it on with me, but something told me that there was something wrong with this picture.
The whoop-whoop sound of approaching sirens filled the air outside. Still clutching the holdall, I made my way from the house and into the street. A small gathering of people were at the kerb. I eased my way amongst them and to my shock, I could see Marty lying in the street, one side of his head popped open like an overripe melon. Blood gushed from the hole and turned the street black. Marty’s eyes were open and they looked blankly up at the sky.
“Marty!” I cried and went to him, kneeling at his side. “Marty, what happened?” As I leant over him, I couldn’t help but notice what looked like scorch marks around his eyes.
The sound of sirens was deafening now as several police cars turned into the street and came to a screeching halt. Those who had gathered around Marty dispersed like people did when police arrived. I stayed beside Marty, and even though I knew he was dead, I wasn’t going to leave him.
“All citizens are to clear the street!” a police officer ordered through a speaker attached to the police car. “Clear the street!”
Looking up, I could see that I was now alone with Marty. The doors to the lead police car swung open and two officers got out. They were huge, wedged into their military-style uniforms.
“Move away from the body,” one of them barked as he came towards me, a long, black pointed Taser in his hand.
“He was my friend,” I said, trying to fight back the tears standing in my eyes.
“Get away from the body,” the cop ordered again, firing up his Taser stick. Blue and mauve sparks sizzled and crackled from the end of it.
“Please,” I started, hoping to reason with what was left of the human soul hidden beneath the skin. I looked up into the Skin-walker’s eyes.
Then, looking down at me, the officer said, “I know you. You gave me the slip last night on the way back from the morgue. We’ve been searching for you everywhere.”
Recognising the officer, I looked away as if trying to hide my face, but I knew it was too late for that. “I think you must be mis -”
“You’re under arrest,” the officer barked before I’d even had the chance to finish.
“For what?” I asked him, hearing the sound of other officers approaching me from all sides, their Taser-sticks crackling.
“For theft of evidence relating to murder,”
the officer said.
“What evidence?” I asked, although I knew he was talking about the blood – the blood that was lying in the holdall by my side.
But when the officer spoke again, he didn’t accuse me of stealing the blood; he accused me of stealing something far more bizarre and insane.
“You stole the body of that young woman,” he said, dragging me to my feet. His grip was strong, and I could feel his fingernails sinking into the flesh of my upper arm.
“Are you kidding me?” I gasped. “How in the hell did I steal that body? What did I do, stuff her up my sweater?”
“You had accomplices who came in and took her body away...”
“Accomplices?” I spat as he dragged me towards one of the parked police cars. I gripped the holdall, refusing to let go of it. “Ask the lab technician and that other copper – the one with the broken legs.”
“Impossible,” the officer growled. “Both of them are dead.”
“Dead?” I breathed. “How?”
“Sergeant Banks died of his injuries,” the officer said, steering me towards the rear door of his police car.
“People don’t die of a broken leg,” I said, trying to resist as he forced me onto the back seat of the car.
“He did,” the officer snapped at me, his eyes glowing bright.
“And the other one?” I asked him. “What happened to him?”
“Suicide,” he replied. “Very sad.
Whatever he witnessed in that morgue disturbed his mind so much that he...”
“This is bullshit!” I yelled, knowing that I was being lied to. I didn’t trust Skin-walkers at the best of times – let alone one in a police uniform.
Drawing my knee back, I kicked out at the door as he tried to close it on me. Then, there was a burning sensation which travelled up the length of my leg. I jerked my leg backwards and cried out in pain. The cop waved his Taser-stick in front of my face and with a look of hatred for me, he said, “Next time I’ll zap you straight in the face.”
With tears streaming down my face, I curled up on the backseat and held my leg. The pain was excruciating and made me feel sick. The smell of burnt flesh filled the car. I heard the officer climb into the front seat and fire up the engine. Another climbed in beside him, but I was in so much pain, I didn’t even look up.
“What about Marty?” I said through gritted teeth.
“Marty?” the happy-zapper officer said.
“My friend,” I whispered.
“The guy you murdered, you mean?” he asked, looking back over his shoulder at me.