I’m going to jail. My life is over. It’s the middle of the night, pouring rain, and I’m sitting in my car outside of a shitty local coffee shop, leeching the WiFi they accidentally left on. Oh, and I’m wearing nothing but my underwear– but I’ll get to that later. My laptop battery is down to about 30%. Hopefully, I can get this typed up and sent before it dies. I don’t know if I’ll be dead or in jail come the morning, but if it’s the former I want someone to see this. I want someone to know what really happened. It all started earlier this evening, as I interrogated a domestic homicide suspect at my precinct:
“It.. it came out of the fucking attic! It… it… that… that fucking thing ate her!” he was visibly shaking at this point, tears resuming their unabated trails down his pale, unshaven cheeks. “It ate her! That thing ate my fucking wife!” he was rocking back and forth again, staring down at the cold metal table that sat between us.
“This guy is pretty good,” I thought as I stifled a yawn, “quite the actor.”
“Detective, I know I sound crazy. I know I must sound like a raving, fucking lunatic but I’m telling you the truth! I swear to fucking God! Go check the attic if you don’t believe me!”
Like every other guilty perp brought into this bleak police interrogation room, the man simply refused to meet my eyes. Can’t say I’m surprised, he’s actually going with the “monster in the closet” defense.
I sighed heavily. Twenty long years in law enforcement and I’m sitting across from the craziest son of a bitch I’ve ever had the misfortune to meet. And in this cesspool of a city, that’s really saying something. And that crime scene!. Nothing a few bourbons can’t handle, mind you, but a pretty nightmarish spectacle nonetheless. I’ve worked dozens upon dozens of homicides in my career, but this one has to take the cake. It was absolutely brutal in the purest sense of the word.
I didn’t want to be here. I didn’t feel like this interrogation was necessary. There was more than enough evidence for a conviction. Any defense attorney worth his salt would have this idiot plead out. Allyson and dinner are waiting at home, and the clock is ticking. Be that as it may, Clouderwood County had recently elected a fresh District Attorney, a District Attorney that wanted his first homicide case to be bulletproof. A “slam dunk,” as he worded it in his e-mailed memo. I rolled my eyes. He wanted a confession.
“Jake. You don’t mind if I call you Jake, do you?”
Jake emphatically shook his head as his unwavering, haunted eyes were still locked on the aluminum table. His orange prison jumpsuit was wrinkled and loose on his scrawny frame. His black unkempt hair had subtle patches of gray sprouting haphazardly across his head. He looked like he’d lost weight since his arrest. His pale blue eyes were sunken and dark from apparent insomnia. The stress was definitely getting to this one. I suppose that if I had murdered my wife and mutilated her corpse beyond any possible recognition I’d have a little trouble getting some quality shut-eye, too. One of the side effects to splattering a person across your living room. Pity.
“Jake, listen to me. The boogeyman story is bullshit. You know it, I know it, and the District Attorney knows it. I’m giving you a real opportunity to come clean on this. I want to be able to go to the DA and tell him that you were honest and cooperative, maybe we can talk about a deal—who knows. You’re looking at the fucking chair, Jake. I know that shit happens. I get it. All we need—“
“You don’t know shit, man. You don’t fucking know…”
Jake started rocking back and forth again. It was all I could do to keep from rolling my eyes yet again. “You don’t know what I’ve seen. What I’ve fucking seen, man. Check the attic. Go check the attic. Look in the fucking attic.” His rocking back and forth intensified as he started mumbling unintelligibly. His pale blue eyes finally left the table as they slowly rose up toward the ceiling. I shuddered despite myself. What a crazy bastard.
“We did, Jake. We searched your entire house with a fine tooth comb. Almost like we were cops investigating a murder scene.” I smiled. That was pretty clever.
“There was nothing in the attic except for a few boxes of musty clothes and some other junk. It’s bullshit. Your story doesn’t add up because it’s fucking fiction. You killed your wife. You know it, and I know it. Just tell me why. I want to know why you did it. Walk me through that night one more time, Jake. Maybe a nugget of truth will accidentally spill out of that lying hole of yours.”
I leaned back and reached for my cigarettes before I remembered that I quit last month. Grunting, I grabbed a stick of gum instead.
“How many times do you want me to say it, man? I was watching a movie with Rebecca, and… and… Oh my God, she’s dead. She really is dead, isn’t she?” he burst out crying again, I lost count of how many times this blubbering fool lost his composure.
Disinterested, I inspected my fingernails and tried not to think about my empty stomach. The peppermint gum was making that endeavor difficult. “Go on,” I said.
“Okay…” Jesus Christ, is he sniffling? “Okay. I’ll tell you again what happened. We were watching a movie, it was just the two of us in the house. I heard these… these thumps. Three of them. It was real fast…” he brought his shaking, handcuffed hands in front of him and rapped the metal cuffs off the aluminum table three times in rapid succession. Raising an eyebrow, I loosened my tie. Looks like Jake’s upping the theatrics. Bravo.
“We both jumped pretty bad, me and Rebecca, but we kind of laughed it off. I thought it was our shitty AC, you know, kicking on. It was hot out and we’d been having some problems with the thing.” He awkwardly wiped his nose with his bound hands. I glanced at my watch. “So we keep watching the movie and ignore it. A few minutes later I hear a sort of screeching noise—the noise my attic door makes when it opens. So now we’re both pretty fucking freaked out. I tell Rebecca to wait on the couch, and I go to check it out. I went to the kitchen and got myself a big kitchen knife. I told Rebecca to wait where she was. I… I…” he started shaking again.
I reached across the table and patted him on the shoulder reassuringly. After two decades in the business, these tricks and games just came so naturally. “Go on,” I said in the most sympathetic and encouraging voice I could muster. “Tell me what really happened after you grabbed that knife. You’re going to feel a lot better when the truth comes out, I promise. What did you do with that knife, Jake?”
“No, man. I didn’t fucking kill her, alright? I didn’t kill her. I took the knife and I.. I… I walked down the hallway. We have one of those long hallways with a wooden floor, you know? At the end of the hallway there’s a turn to the right, and that’s where the attic door is. It’s dark as night down that hallway; I kept forgetting to change that fucking light bulb. So I walk down the hall to where the attic is and I see it.. I see… Oh God” he began to shake with sobs, putting his hands to his face. “I saw that fucking thing… Oh Jesus… Oh my God… Its flesh was gray, looked rotten, and the smell… Oh God the smell…. Then it… it smiled at me. Those teeth… those sharp teeth as though it’d filed them down to points… that thing came out of our fucking attic… Oh Lord Jesus… It started to crawl toward me as its long soft fingernails scratched quietly on the wooden floor… it…”
Jake leaned to one side and vomited into a plastic garbage. He started shaking even more violently as he retched and dry heaved, long trails of snot hanging from his quivering mouth and nose. The odor of stomach bile mingled with my peppermint gum. It was overpowering, but fuck it, we’re almost done.
I sighed again. One last chance, shit bag. “Jake, I’m getting tired of the fairy tales. Last chance to come clean. Stop wasting my fucking time. It’s late and I’ve had it.” A hair away from retirement and I’ll be damned if I’m going to go home to my sleeping wife and a cold dinner because a rookie DA is scared of a jury trial. I don’t need this confession. I’d eaten enough cold dinners over the past twenty years.
“I swear it, detective! I swear on my life! That… that thing was lying on the floor right under the open attic door. It hissed and started to crawl toward me, slowly… I mean, it looked like it was moving slowly but it was coming fast… I don’t even know how to describe how it fucking moved… I screamed, slipping on the hardwood floor. I stabbed it as I fell to the ground, at least I think I did… it made this screeching noise…” he wiped a bit of vomit from his chin with an orange sleeve.
“Oh my God oh Lord oh God the noise it made… and then I just ran. I fucking ran out the front door as fast as my legs would carry me. I could hear Rebecca screaming and… I ran up the driveway and away from the house… I just… I just…” the unsurprising sobs started up again.
“Alright. Fuck this.” I’d had enough. This guy is smart, and he’s obviously going to go for an insanity defense. Liberal gutless judge will probably buy it, too. I knew I wasn’t getting a confession. Either that or he’d hang himself in his cell tonight. Made no difference to me. Time to wrap this up.
“Detective you have to believe me. Please. Check the attic. Check the attic. PLEASE!” he was outright screaming at this point, the tears once again flowing steadily down his gaunt face. I was almost embarrassed for this pathetic excuse for a man, snot flowing down the front of his face and over his quivering lips, vomit clouding his already sour breath.
“Officer Englewood!” I shouted, “Jake here is ready to go back to Clouderwood Prison.” I almost reached for my cigarettes again. Old habits die pretty hard. I spit my gum into the vomit filled garbage can and sat back as a young uniformed officer entered the nondescript interrogation room. He took the sobbing Jake by the arm and wordlessly led him out of the room. Good kid, that Englewood. He reminds me a bit of myself when I was a young patrolman, my whole life still ahead of me.
Despite my efforts for a speedy interrogation I did go home to the familiar sleeping wife and the more familiar cold dinner. Allyson was used to it, God bless her. The life of a policeman’s wife isn’t glamorous—lonely dinners, lonely nights, and lonely holidays. As always, a platter was waiting in the fridge. I ate the cold meal in solemn but peaceful silence.
I reflected on this case– mostly the horrific crime scene. The victim, one Rebecca Lytemeyer, had been mutilated beyond recognition. We all knew that the torn flesh and ripped body was the suspect’s wife, this was clearly domestic homicide—but the methodology was so brutal that we needed dental records to confirm that it really was her. Her face was pretty much gone. Brain matter was splattered across the ceiling, softly dripping onto the freshly cleaned carpet when the first officer arrived on scene. She was quite literally torn to pieces. What continued to confound me was that some of her internal organs were just… missing. Gone. The coroner’s report on the missing organs was… inconclusive. “That… that thing fucking ate her!” I shuddered, suddenly losing my appetite.
A neat whisky and a hot shower is every cop’s antidote to a fucked up crime scene, and tonight was no exception. I was lying in bed shortly thereafter, letting my thoughts drift to my impending retirement and away from Jake and Rebecca Lytemeyer.
I awoke a short time later, Allyson roughly shaking my shoulder. “What… what time is it?” I groggily reached for my bedside lamp. It wouldn’t turn on. Must have blown the bulb again. I tried to gather my muddled thoughts as I rubbed my bleary eyes.
“I don’t know…” she sounded half asleep herself as she rolled over. “Has the AC been acting up again? I just heard some thumps from up in the attic. Pretty loud.”
My head began to tingle as the blood started pumping. That thing… it fucking ate her… That’s when I smelled the horrible, sickening stench as the attic door above our bed let out a groan, the steel hinges protesting from years of disuse. Allyson gasped.
“Allyson…” I fought to keep my voice steady, “Get out of the house. Run. Get out of this house and don’t look back!”
I did the only sensible thing I could think to do—I ran. I’m a fucking coward and I ran out of that wretched room as fast as my legs could carry me.
That… that thing was slithering toward me at an uncanny speed. I fled down the hallway to the front door without looking back—and that’s when I heard a sort of groan, almost like if you’d step on a loose floorboard, but louder. My bedroom door slammed shut, and I mean it fucking slammed. Shook the foundation of the house it was so powerful. I spun around and saw… nothing. The hallway was completely empty and shrouded in darkness.
It was only then that I realized Allyson wasn’t with me. She never made it out of the room. I rode the biggest adrenaline dump of my entire life as I sprinted back up the hallway. I tried to ignore the translucent, greasy fluid under my bare feet as I ran back toward our bedroom.
That’s when I heard her scream. My God, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to forget that scream. What will really haunt me, though, was the cold and absolute silence that followed. The bedroom door frame was cracked and twisted. I couldn’t open the ruined door, it was so warped and twisted from the force of whatever slammed it shut. I kicked it until I thought my leg was shattered. I slammed my shoulder against it until I couldn’t feel the right half of my fucking body. It wouldn’t budge. I… I knew I was too late. She was dead. That thing killed her, and it would come for me after it feasted. I ran. I’m a fucking coward and I ran.
So here I am, sitting in my idling Ford Taurus in the middle of the night under a relentless downpour. Hiding in this car, wearing nothing but my underwear, hugging the wall of this overrated coffee shop, trying to beat this dying battery so I can get my story out. I keep calling Allyson, hoping that this whole thing was just a terrible dream. That poor sweet woman, torn to shreds… it’s too much to bear. I think I’m going fucking crazy.
I haven’t called the police… because I know how that’s going to pan out. I’m going to be at the other end of that God forsaken table in my interrogation room, desperately trying to convince a disinterested, hungry cop who’s late to dinner that “the monster in the closet ate my wife.” I’m fucked. My wife is dead, I’m going to jail, and that fucking thing is still out there somewhere.
Maybe I shouldn’t be telling you this. I don’t know how that… creature, or whatever it is… how it got to me. Maybe I watch too many movies, I don’t know, but what if that thing hunts whatever knows about it? Like, spreading this story can endanger someone? Maybe it came for me after Jacob Lytemeyer spilled his guts… I think I’m going fucking crazy. I don’t know.
Don’t go in the attic in the meantime, I guess.
The laptop is beeping at me, I think it’s about to die. I don’t know what I’m going to do. Maybe I’ll go home and… clean up. This is what I’ve done for twenty fucking years, I know what they look for in this sort of thing. Maybe I can make the whole mess just… I don’t know… go away? Should I call the cops and hope they believe me more than I believed Jacob Lytemeyer? Should I just fucking kill myself now and be done with it? Should I run? Start over somewhere with a new name? I don’t know what to do, but I need to decide soon.
If you don’t hear from me soon, just assume the worst and move on—and stay out of the attic.
E. Paul is a writer, reader, and lover of all things fiction. Read more at epaulfiction.wordpress.com”