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 *
The dead body stank like over-ripened summer fertilizer.
Maddy did her best to breathe through her mouth but it didn’t help much.
It’d be good to get to the house just to get out of the stinking car even if all she had to look forward to was rape and maybe death. Compared to riding in this car almost anything would be a treat.
Helliard parked the car in the barn. The horses didn’t like it but Helliard didn’t seem to be much worried about livestock, or live anything for that matter.
“Do you get many visitors?” he asked.
“The place is a regular tourist trap, lately.”
“It sure looks like it. Real nice. Early colonial crapmeat. Why don’t you help me lug Duane into the house?”
“The body, stupid. His name is Duane. I’m Helliard. What the fuck do they call you when they want you to come in out of the rain?”
“What kind of fucking name is that?”
“Same kind of name as Helliard. Something made up by my Mom and Dad. It’s short for Madigan.”
“Mad Again? Heh, you sure look it girl. Grab his feet, or do you prefer head?”
Maddy grabbed Duane’s feet ignoring the dirty joke. Being dead, Duane was the easiest one to handle, but she wasn’t scared. She had already fry-panned one man to death this weekend. The first chance she got she’d bake Helliard’s beans, but good.
They went in the back door.
“Sweet Jesus what’s that reek?”
“Brains,” Maddy answered. “I figured a smart fella like you’d recognize it.”
Zigger started growling, just as soon as they got in.
Helliard pulled his pistol.
“I can get him and put him outside.” Maddy said, reaching for the old dog’s collar. “You don’t need to shoot him.”
“It’d probably be a mercy,” Helliard pointed out. “My fuck, he is an ugly hound.”
Maddy shoved the dog out the door.
“You’re one to talk,” she said.
“Ooh that hurt. Ain’t you got a sharp tongue?”
They carried Duane into the kitchen.
“We got company?” Bluedaddy asked.
He was sitting in the rocking chair only Helliard didn’t seem to notice, so Maddy decided to ignore the old ghost too.
“Set him on the table,” she said.
She didn’t really want that shot-up corpse on her dining room table, but she did want to hide Vic’s leftover brain stains.
Helliard shook his head no.
Maddy had the feeling that he enjoyed being argumentative with her.
“Just prop him in the rocking chair,” Helliard said. “I might want to eat at the table, or fuck on it.”
Then he noticed the newspapers, spread to cover the freshly spilled brains.
“What’s this?” he asked.
He dropped Duane’s body. The carcass made a meaty splat as the bits of shot out skull hit the floor.
Then he lifted the newspaper.
“Damn,” he swore. “You weren’t kidding about the brains. And that’s puke on top of it. I guess you didn’t like what you’d done, did you?”
He stuck his finger in the mess and stirred it like he was finger painting.
“Look at them maggots. They look just like rice pudding.”
He tasted his finger.
“Didn’t anyone ever teach you to clean up after killing a body to death?”
Helliard leered at her like he approved of her bad habits.
Maddy found the leer almost refreshing. She still planned to fry pan the bastard as soon as she got the chance, but appreciated his earnest practicality.
“My guess is you won’t be calling no policeman too soon, will you?” Helliard noted.
“I might,” Maddy allowed. “Might be I’ll tell them that you killed him.”
“Where’s his body?”
“Where you buried him.” she said, with a smug grin.
He shook his head.
“Nice try but the timing’s all wrong,” he told her. “I didn’t hit this part of the country until long after his meat cooled. Good try though. Now help me with Duane.”
He leaned the body towards the chair.
“Hey don’t be doing that,” Bluedaddy said. “Don’t be laying a body on top of an old man. That ain’t hardly right.”
But Helliard couldn’t see Bluedaddy any more than Vic had.
He was Maddy’s private phantom.
“There,” Helliard said. “He’s cozy.”
He took a step towards Maddy.
“Why don’t we get cozy, too?”
He grabbed her left tit. A smear of Vic’s brains stained his index finger.
“If there’s gonna be some fooling around, can I watch?” asked Bluedaddy from inside the blue tattering remains of Duane.
Maddy yanked herself free. She took a step towards the counter and contemplated her options. There was a butcher knife in the drawer, a cleaver by the sink, a rolling pin next to the flour, and the fry pan in the sink.
She liked the fry pan best.
“What will you do here?” she asked.
“Anything I want to.’
He caught her in a rough embrace.
He pulled her close and dragged a stubblish kiss across her right cheek. Maddy didn’t want any of it. She threw her knee upwards but Helliard blocked the knee with his thigh and kick-shoved her backwards sprawling on the table.
She couldn’t reach anything from where he’d pinned her and he was too heavy and strong to move.
As she lay there it seemed as if Vic’s brains were laughing at her. Bluedaddy was laughing at her from out of the corpse’s mouth.
Maddy tried to scream.
Helliard pushed a greasy palm over her mouth.
“Uh-uh,” he cautioned. “We wouldn’t want the neighbors to hear.”
She bit at his hand but he was too quick for her. All that her teeth caught was her tongue and it hurt like a bastard.
She spat at him.
He laughed and pulled her into another bullied kiss.
She wrapped her arm about his neck.
“Getting to like it now, ain’t you?” Bluedaddy crow-called from the corpse. “I always knew you were that kind of a girl.”
“That’s more like it,” Helliard growled.
She yanked his head close, twisted and sank her teeth into his right ear. Helliard swore and tried to drag himself free. Maddy hung on like grim blue death, working her teeth hard, tugging side to side and gnawing on the ear. The ear tasted of dirt and the sour rank flavor of uncultivated ear wax. She used her neck muscles, twisting and tearing at the flap of meat.
Helliard socked her hard in the belly.
Two more blows and she had to let go.
“Now we’re even,” she said, spitting a gob of blood at his face.
She took a swing at him that would have broken his nose. He dodged and caught her hand, twisted it and forced her down to the kitchen floor.
“Now,” he growled.
She didn’t stand a chance.
He threw himself down upon her.
He took her twice, hard.
Bluedaddy sat and watched.
Every now and then the old blue ghost let out a low dirty wet chuckle.
* 2 *
“Is there any food in this goddamn place?” Helliard asked.
Maddy lay calmly upon the cold linoleum floor. Her clothing was torn and she was bruised and she stared up at the stranger rooting through her refrigerator.
“Don’t you people drink beer?” Helliard asked.
He stood above her with his cock casually hidden beneath a pair of soiled boxers.
“Vic never left any.”
“My husband. Vic.”
“You mean old brainless?” Helliard asked. “Is he the one you killed?”
There really didn’t seem to be much point in denying it.
Helliard rooted out a bottle of ginger ale.
He uncapped and swigged.
“You want some?” he asked.
She shook her head which felt a little as if it might fall off. In fact, the pieces of her body seemed disconnected, like he’d broken the wiring inside them.
“Are you sure?” he coaxed. “Fucking is fucking hot work.”
“Fuck off,” she said slowly, like a corpse speaking, her tongue moving all by itself.
There was no thought, no fear and no anger behind her words.
Helliard just laughed and shrugged.
He’d got what he wanted, for now.
“You can suit yourself,” he said, swallowing another mouthful and capping it off.
Damn it, Maddy thought slowly. She should have taken the bottle when he offered and broken it over his skull.
She sat up slowly.
Her ass was sore and her back was stiff and she felt as if she might not ever walk again.
“Maybe I’ll have some of that ginger ale, after all,” she said.
She tried to stand as she said it but he shoved her back down.
“Fuck you,” he parroted back at her.
She sat there and stared at him.
Her stare could have welded cold silver.
“So why’d you kill him?” he asked, unbothered by her glare.
“Fun,” she said.
He exhaled sharply through his nose.
“Some fun,” he said.
He reopened the fridge and pulled out the salami.
“Now we’re talking.”
He went to the sink and picked up the cleaver.
An odd light glinted in his eyes.
Those are Vic’s eyes, Maddy thought. How in the hell did Helliard get Vic’s eyes?
“Do you want this, Mad Again?”
He held the cleaver towards her.
Yes, she wanted it.
She reached for it, not bothering to hide her need for vengeance.
“Or maybe you want this?”
He dangled the fat hose of the salami in front of his boxer’s fly.
She jerked back in disgust.
“Yeah,” he said. “I’ll bet you’d love some more of this.”
He stepped towards her.
She mouthed the word no, but fear stole her voice.
“Naw,” Helliard said. “You just want some of – THIS!”
He whirled about, slapping the salami down on the counter, swinging the cleaver high over his head. He brought the big blade down like a splitting maul, neatly hacking the salami in half and shattering the laminate countertop.
“Yeah,” he said. “That’s more your style, isn’t it?”
She stood up slowly.
He barely watched her, too busy peeling the tubular plastic casing off the freshly hacked salami. She grabbed for the drawer and the knife. He threw his weight against the half-opened drawer, jamming the fingers of her left hand. She heard, then felt, her knuckles break.
She tried to pull her hand away but her wedding ring caught.
She felt flesh tear.
Then he hit her with the sausage.
He hit her again.
“Bitch! Bitch! Bitch!”
He kept shouting the words, biting them off like bits of gristle, punctuated each time with another deadening slap of salami.
“Bitch! Bitch! Bitch!”
The ring and the rest of her knuckle finally gave way. She yanked free, not caring if she tore her fingers completely off. She tried to run but he had her at every step she took, chasing her in ever-tightening circles about the cage of the kitchen, hitting and hitting and hitting.
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