In 1691 the town of Crossfall taught the witch Thessaly how to die. They beat her, they shot her, they hung her – but nothing worked. When they finally tried to bury her alive Thessaly set the field against them. The first man died as a gust of wind harrowed the meat from his bones. A root flung like a dirty javelin, cut a second man down. Many more deaths followed. The Preacher Fell impaled the witch upon her very own broom but she dragged him down into the field to wait for three more centuries.
Three hundred years later Maddy Harker will murder her bullying husband Vic. She will bury him in the field as she buried her abusive father years before that. The very same field where the revenant spirit of Thessaly Cross lies waiting.
In three days Vic will rise again – a thing of dirt, bone, and hatred.
Men will call him the Tatterdemon.
And hell – and Thessaly – will follow!
Folks looking for a mix of Stephen King’s SALEM’S LOT small-town sensibilities mixed with the grand Guignol chutzpah of Peter Jackson’s BRAINDEAD should grab a copy of TATTERDEMON today on Kindle or Kobo or Apple or most anywhere you can find an e-book, audiobook, or a paperback!
* 1 *
Earl had never seen anything like it.
Clavis looked like he’d lost a fight with a threshing machine.
Wilfred looked worse, standing there with that pitchfork in his hand.
“Did you find a fork in the road?” Earl asked.
Wilfred threw him a go-to-hell look. “Anyone ever tell you you’re about as funny as a leaky colostomy sack?”
“I didn’t hear you drive in,” Wendy Joe said. “Where’s the squad car?”
“It started making funny banging sounds, so I parked it in Barrand’s Hardware for a tune up.”
He shoved Clavis towards Earl.
“Lock him up.”
“I ought to hose him down first. What the hell is that reek? And shouldn’t I call a doctor about his hand? You both look near to death.”
“Lock him up. We’ll get him to the clinic when I’m good and ready.”
“Better be soon,” Earl noted. “The last thing we need is old Clavis to die on us.”
Wilfred glowered at him.
“You figure you’re the police chief, all of a sudden?”
Earl grabbed a quick I-told-you-so glance from Wendy Joe, then back to Wilfred.
“Just saying is all,” Earl explained. “A dead body in the jail would make for a hell of a scandal. You know how they get. Lawyers and newspapers are like elephants. Big and gray, and they never forget.”
Wendy Joe saw the argument coming and did her best to get between it.
“Never mind fussing Earl,” she said. “So what happened, anyway?”
“I said I didn’t want to talk about it.”
He strode into the bathroom like a deposed king, and slammed the door behind himself.
“So what do we do?” Earl asked.
Wendy Joe shrugged.
“Like the man said, lock him up.”
She sat down to wait out the storm.
* 2 *
“Where do you live?” Helliard shouted.
Maddy lay in the car, face pushed against the shot up remains in the passenger seat. There were maggots crawling in the corpse’s flesh. Some of them crawled on her. She felt them moving. Were they tasting her, or just trying her on for size?
“Where the hell do you live?”
She pointed at the duct tape.
“You can point, can’t you?”
She stubbornly kept pointing at the duct tape.
He yanked it off. It felt as if he’d taken nearly half her cheek with it.
“Where do you live?” he repeated.
“A little farmhouse,” she said. “Two miles up the road.”
“I need somewhere to hide out for a while. I need some food. I need a bed – and maybe somebody to lay in it with me.”
What the hell could she do?
“You’re more than welcome,” she said wryly.
He laughed at that.
A harsh laugh, like metal grating against stone.
“I figured that.”
They drove on down the road, moving towards the house and the field.
The morning moved on.
* 3 *
A splash of tap water and a cup of cold coffee later, Wilfred started to talk.
Wendy Joe and Earl sat and listened.
“I would have nailed the bastard if he’d given me a chance to get my gun out.”
He patted his Colt.
“Jesus, Wilfred,” he said. “When are you going to donate that antique to a museum and get yourself a real gun?”
Earl had a Glock. He’d paid for it himself, naturally. The town budget barely covered ballpoint pens. Council didn’t figure their police force needed much more than paperwork. Wilfred carried his revolver because he was Chief. His Daddy had owned the pistol before him. He’d probably stolen it off of his Great Granddaddy.
It was that old.
Earl was only a deputy, which, according to the town council meant that he didn’t rate a piece. There just wasn’t that much call for shooting speeders and drunks. But that wasn’t the point. Earl served his first year on the force by keeping his police jacket buttoned snug, whatever the weather, to conceal his lack of a gun. Then his uncle died and left Earl with a half interest in a fish plant. The inheritance left him with enough expendable money to afford his very first real gun.
So Earl had bought himself a Glock. He liked the sound of the name. Thick and gutteral, like the sound he imagined a suspect might make after being shot in the throat. Since then he’d added a few more pieces of hardware to the Crossfall arsenal. Just in case.
Some of it was legal, some less than so.
Earl was a believer in preparedness.
“My Colt’s got more power,” Wilfred argued.
“For shooting car horns, maybe,” Earl replied. “My Glock’s got as much oomph as that caveman Colt. I can get it out a hell of a lot faster, and I’ve got fifteen rounds to play with.”
“Fellow shoots one straight the first time, he don’t need to worry playing with anything.”
Wendy Joe figured Earl was just compensating for his lack of altitude.
She didn’t blame him. At five foot nothing, he had a lot to make up for.
“You two cowboys eat way too much red meat,” she decided. “What I want to know is what Ivan thinks about his new drive-threw?”
“I think we came to an understanding.”
“I doubt it,” she shook her head. “He’ll be calling the mayor next.”
“I wouldn’t worry about Barrand. He’s all foam, no beer. He’ll call, make a fuss, then fix the window and forget about it.”
Wilfred grinned at the thought and began to calm down.
“Earl, you’re right,” he went on. “Why don’t you take Clavis down to the clinic and get him checked over?”
“And when he’s through?”
“Bring him back here. I’ve still got to book him. I can’t set him free until I figure he’s forgotten his ambitions of two-by-four martyrdom.”
“I read it yesterday in Reader’s Digest. I’ve been dying to use it ever since,” Wilfred went on. “Why don’t you take that pitchfork back to Barrand while you’re at it. You talk nice to him. You never can tell. He just might take it in his head to sue us, and we don’t need that kind of bull crap.”
He breathed a long slow breath.
He wasn’t done eating crow yet.
“Wendy Joe? You better call the Mounties. You tell them what happened. Tell them their boy got away.”
“No need of telling them everything,” Wilfred said. “Just tell them what you need to tell.”
Earl came out of the lockup with Clavis.
“You better head on home, chief,” Earl said. “You look beat.”
Wilfred thought about the empty house.
The cellar stairs.
“Is Emma still at her mom’s place?” Wendy Joe asked, like she read his mind.
“Yep,” Wilfred nodded, glad of the interruption. “No doubt the two of them are plotting my downfall.”
It was a safe enough lie. If anyone called to check, Emma’s mother suffered from Alzheimer’s bad enough to never give the same answer twice. Maybe that’s what I need, Wilfred thought. A case of instant amnesia. Forget about the past, completely. Right in the moment, where ever you were.
This couldn’t go on forever.
Sooner or later someone would find out.
Wilfred wondered what they’d do, when they finally find her down in the freezer?
“I believe I’ll take a nap,” he said.
He laid his head down on his desk and was gone, unaware of just how closely Wendy Joe was watching over him.
* 4 *
“So what the hell made you do it?” Earl asked Clavis as they drove towards the clinic.
“I don’t know,” Clavis answered honestly. “Some voice spoke, and it was like I couldn’t do nothing but what I did. It was like somebody hotwired my soul.”
Crossfall’s sole medical clinic occupied a three floor walk-up. Seventy years past the building had housed the town’s only brothel. Earl pulled his squad car up to the curb.
“Damn. Look at that, Clavis,” Earl said. “Did you ever see the like?”
Marvin Pusser’s postal van was parked in front of the clinic. It was mostly red and looked like somebody dropped an indelible watermelon on it. There was red paint smeared across the windshield that looked just like blood.
“Wait a minute, Clavis. I got to check something out.”
Earl walked upstairs. It was probably a bad idea to leave Clavis like that, but he seemed harmless enough.
Earl walked slowly up a flight of stairs.
Up the wrong way.
He knew damn well he was heading the wrong way.
He was doing it on purpose.
Earl walked down the hall. He hated halls like this, with no way out and just a long tunnel. The place was probably a lot more fun back when it was a cathouse. He pushed the examination room door open, without knocking, and there was Clavis.
“Holy red flying shit,” Earl said.
It looked like the mailman was covered in blood.
“Jesus Christ, Marvin,” Earl said. “Were you run over by a tomato juice truck?”
The doctor looked up, peering over a pair of wired glasses.
“Can I help you Earl?”
“Did Lily do that to you, Marvin?”
Marvin just glowered.
“Can I help you Earl?” the doctor repeated.
“I was just looking for the waiting room.”
“We haven’t moved it.”
Earl gave the doctor his best winning smile.
Clavis leaned over past the doctor and slammed the door shut.
He’d seen what he’d come for.
It was probably nothing, just a cranky red-faced mailman. Still, he was the town law and it was his job to know what was going on. If Lily was dumping paint on folks, he needed to know.
He went downstairs and helped Clavis from the car. Then he sat in the waiting room, ignoring the curious look he drew from the grandmother with the ongoing gall bladder issues.
He needed to get this over with fast.
Whether Wilfred liked it or not, Earl had some hunting to do.
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