by Gary Clifton
“My God, Verbek, this kid's throat is gone...actually gone," the medical examiner bent over the corpse. Fifty, roundish, with delicate doctor’s hands, he nervously eyed the brushy terrain at the isolated creek's edge. Chilly Dallas winter breeze whipped through dormant grasses and leafless trees.
Detective Damien Verbek bent to inspect a pile of clothing stacked neatly near the body. The mutilated corpse lay partially on a worn blanket. "Somebody traipsing around here naked," Verbek said, picking at the clothing. He turned to a uniformed sergeant and told him to head up a wider area search for another body, probably female.
"Animals...dogs?" the M.E. speculated. His medically trained eyes picked up Verbek's slight show of excitement, discernible from the side of the dark glasses. Odd behavior for a hard ass homicide dick, the M.E. thought, but the carnage before them was a very disturbing sight. Why else would someone become aroused over such butchery?
"Too fresh, Doc...and too traumatic for animals, unless a lion busted outta the zoo." Verbek looked down, then duplicated the M.E.'s scan of the area. "This kid's only dead three-four hours." Verbek glanced up, breathing heavily. He saw two uniformed officers raise the yellow tape to admit the homicide sergeant, inching across the parkway grass in a battered Plymouth.
Verbek, a loner, a reclusive odd-ball to other cops, a top producer in Homicide, staunchly resisted taking on a partner. Husky, laconic, with black hair high and tight, he'd accumulated a phenomenal murder clearance rate and an attitude to support it. Verbek looked and acted...well, like a cop, but a very weird one. He was well known for the trademark, extra-dark glasses he constantly wore in daytime. When chided about his eyewear, he told the inquirers to kiss off. Co-workers, wary of Verbek's weird ways, had long since learned to button up about him, period.
Only a week on dayshift, Verbek had, by choice, worked deep nights for fifteen years. Today, he looked and felt haggard, tired, sleepy. He yawned widely as the sergeant approached.
"Doc...Verbek," the sergeant picked his way through the semi-muddy creek-bank, careful to stop short of footprints next to the body. "Guys, we got a missing persons on a white male, age seventeen, up the street," he gestured. "Bet this is him. Damnation, he's sure dead," he made a wry face.
Crime scene officers, then another homicide cop arrived. Detective Margo LePlatt was thirty, shapely, unmarried, with beautiful, dark eyes. "Morning, boys," beneath stylish dark glasses of her own, she flashed a radiant smile. "I caught the missing persons on the seventeen year old this morning. Looks like he's found," she pulled on vinyl gloves and knelt carefully amidst the foot impressions. "Somebody...or something," she looked up through her glasses, "had this kid for an after midnight snack."
"She volunteered for the missing person case," the sergeant, a morose, balding man with a permanent forward stoop, grinned. "The rest of you guys oughta get off your asses and pick up on this kid's work ethic."
"We'll bag him up and see what the autopsy offers," the M.E. chimed in.
Against his generally reclusive nature, Verbek allowed Margo to accompany him to interview the dead youth's distraught mother. "He'd been seeing this girl," mama sobbed. "Met her at that damned video place on Garland Road. Only saw her once...didn't really meet her. Tattoos all up her arms...stars on the side of her throat. Crack whore."
As Verbek drove them away in an old Ford, Margo reached across and squeezed his knee. "I'm free again tonight, Tarzan," she said seductively. Margo had a knack for making any man she slept with think he was her first intimate encounter, except super-cynic Verbek.
"Dayshift is kicking my ass, Margo," he said behind the glasses. "Nights are my thing and I'm not sure I'm up to another party session just yet." A wan smile was as close as the great stone-face ever got to a laugh.
"I've got remedy to cure what ails you, dude," she touched his knee once more. She'd make him smile, she thought.
"Rain check," he replied flatly. Verbek had every intention of satiating his lust with this lovely, sexual creature. A night or two delay and he would make another run at Nurse Margo - the bitch would get what she asked for. The thought gave him a full body chill.
Verbek dumped Margo by insisting she witness the autopsy. Texas law required an investigating officer to be present at the butchery. "Damn, Damien, it's my case too." Verbek, his outward display of feelings invariably non-existent, didn't reply.
In an hour, Verbek had leaned on the proprietor, plus several patrons at Big Jack's Games, and had a tentative ID and address for the tattooed girl. The dark glasses had transformed the game room crowd into law abiding citizens, at least for one minute. Verbek was a big, imposing man...with a large pistol and aggressive, rather frightening mannerisms which had terrified the Big Jack's crowd.
The tattooed girlfriend's house was less than a hundred yards from where the dead kid had been found. After banging on the front door of the run down little east Dallas shanty, Verbek slipped the lock with a Visa Card. Inside he found, stench, filth, disorder, and no one home, except a couple of large rats that scurried beneath some debris.
Search of drawers and piles of clothing told him there were two occupants, both female - possibly, he thought, a mother-daughter combo. Concerned that neighbors might phone in his entry in broad daylight, he decided to abbreviate his illegal search. The darkened interior provided some relief to his bloodshot, strained eyes. He removed the glasses.
Unobstructed, his practiced eye caught the blood-stain around the drain in the bathroom sink. Long experience had taught him never to visibly show the flutter that came with the sight of fresh blood - even after all those years. He swabbed up and bagged a sample for the lab-squints, hurriedly relocked the front door, and split.
Margo caught him by cellular and they met at Denny's. "Pathologist was as baffled as us," she sipped her latte. "She swore the kid's throat was ripped out by teeth of some sort...and despite massive blood loss at the scene, she actually figures something sucked out even more blood...and ate a few bites too."
Verbek felt the sensuality of her discussing violence and blood. He stirred uneasily in his booth behind the dark glasses as he slugged at a large tomato juice. "Margo, I been in homicide long enough to know two things: There are monsters out there capable of un-by-God-believable acts of carnage. Once worked a case where an adult son actually cooked and ate his mother...with a side salad."
"And the second thing?" She was beautiful and exuded sexuality, even while attempting to process a disgusting atrocity. Verbek unconsciously focused on the throbbing arteries in her neck. She had the skin of a twenty year old, if not for the small scar here and there, but that was an inevitability of the force. His libido was a high and a half.
"There ain't no damned vampires or werewolves...this case has a logical explanation," he showed the hint of smile. Margo shivered slightly. She appeared unconvinced.
He briefed Margo on his illegal search of the tattooed girl's house, the evidence of two female occupants and the blood sample he'd lifted from the sink. "I'll drop off the blood at the lab and let's meet at seven this evening. See if we can roust somebody at that pig-sty house."
"Damien, you look like you just had your ass kicked. Sure you're up to doubling back this evening?"
"I'm fine. Gimme a night or so and I'd love to see more of you...all of you in fact." Margo smiled wryly, jotted down the address of the east Dallas house and Verbek was off to the lab. He'd have his way with her the next night. She'd see what he had in mind.
Verbek rolled up in seven P.M. twilight. Margo sat a block down in a green Dodge. She parked behind his Ford and they approached the darkened little house. Verbek was again aroused. Perhaps in the darkened house he could find time to deal with Miss Margo.
Margo walked around to the back. Lying in full view inside a partially enclosed porch was the nude body of a young, tattooed female. With a low whistle, she summoned Verbek to the rear.
"Her throat...it's a duplicate of the kid from this morning...ripped out," Margo said. "God, Damien, I thought you scoped this place out this afternoon...?"
"Search was already shaky," he flash-lighted the carnage. "Dead kid didn't live here...no probable cause for a search warrant." Mild Dallas winter allowed flies to flourish. Hundreds blanketed the body. "Damn sure didn't want neighbors seeing any more of me than necessary. Didn't look back here. Better call for backup." Margo raised her cellular as Verbek stepped inside the porch.
He tried the back door. It was unlocked. Fumbling along the rear wall, he found a light switch which ignited a sole, naked overhead bulb. "Police," he said.
Then he found the second occupant. Female, she was trying to slip beneath a curtain hanging below waist level, designed to hide junk tossed beneath the sink.
Verbek drug her out. He instantly saw the dementia. "Hello, here, who the hell are you?" he studied her. She was slight and no more than eighteen, tattoos covering much of the ample skin visible beneath shorts and a halter top. She wore a layer of filth similar to the house.
"It killed them...and I saw you today," she babbled hysterically. Even super-perceptive Verbek didn't instantly discern she was telling two tales. He could see she was far too terrified to make a coherent comment.
"Who killed who?" He realized this terrified girl had been hiding beneath the sink when he'd visited the house earlier. He wished he'd found her then. This situation would have seen a different outcome.
"My sister and her boyfriend...behind the house...by the creek. My sister ran home, but it followed her and killed her. I hid under the sink. It didn't find me."
Margo entered the back door. The girl immediately went totally berserk, grabbing a large cleaver from the sink drain-board and swung it wildly. Verbek snatched at the cleaver, but the girl managed to slash him on the left forearm, then lunge at Margo. Margo casually pulled her Glock pistol from her rear waistband and shot the girl dead center in the chest.
Verbek, bleeding profusely, stumbled into the back yard and called 911 on his cellular. He advised Emergency Services of his injury, gave the address, and walked back into the kitchen. Margo, on her knees was giving the girl she'd just shot mouth to mouth - so he thought. But when he looked closer, Margo's teeth were at the girl's throat, tearing, slashing.
Truth struck Verbek like a lead hammer. "My God, Margo, it was you. You found them making love at the creek...ripped out the kid's throat, then chased his girlfriend and slaughtered her here on the back porch. The footprints at the murder scene were all female...some were yours, I bet. That's why you requested the missing person's case this morning. You killed them both. You were trying to cover up both murders." He recoiled in horror, an emotion he hadn't shown in many years.
"A three centuries old monster, I'm afraid, Detective Hard Ass," she stood erect, blood dripping down her face and chest, the dark eyes blazing embers of evil. "If you'd had the good sense to come over to my place one more night, this would have been you," she pointed to the floor.
And in a heartbeat, one of Verbek's last, she was upon him. He pulled his Glock and shot her in the abdomen with no effect. Verbek was a big, strong man. She overpowered him like dust on the wind, threw him against a wall. She sank her fanged teeth through his throat like the hungry animal she was.
The sound of sirens, the backup Verbek had just summoned, wafted in on the cool night air. Margo sprang to her feet over Verbek's body. She tore open her bloody blouse to examine the bullet wound. "Damn, that's gonna leave another scar."
Gary Clifton, forty years a cop, has over sixty short fiction pieces published or pending with online sites including Bewildering Stories, Flashes in the Dark, Spinetingler, and Black Heart Mag. He's been shot at, shot, stabbed, sued and is currently retired to a dusty north Texas ranch. Clifton has an MS from Abilene Christian University. Gary’s story, Blood Passion, appears in the January 2013 issue of HelloHorror.
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