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 *
One constant phrase, muttered over and over and over.
“I’ll fucking show her. I’ll show her.”
Marvin Pusser sat in his room.
He called it his apartment, but there were only three rooms in total. The landlord had called it a mini-bachelor. The truth was, you couldn’t call it more than a knothole in a rotted stump.
Marvin stared at the mirror. His face was swollen like a frog, bright and shiny where he’d rubbed himself raw with abrasive cleanser digging the paint from out of his pores.
He polished his shoes. He liked to keep his shoes shiny and bright black.
Yes, sir, the first thing a woman looks at is a man’s shoes.
“I’ll show her my shoes. By fuck, I will.”
There were dozens of skin magazines scattered all about him. None of that Playboy and Penthouse crap. This was the deep-down hardcore stuff. The kind of stuff you had to go to the city to buy.
Marvin sat there, working on his shoes and staring at the pictures.
Once in a while, he’d flip a page.
His cock stuck out from his opened fly like a small frozen eel.
“I’ll show her,” he said. “I’ll fucking show her.”
Over and over, like a chant.
“I’ll fucking show her.”
He set the shoes down.
Slowly, almost ritualistically, he began to beat off, sliding his hand over his member with slow careful strokes.
“I’ll show her.”
He thought about Maddy, naked, spread on the floor like an open magazine.
“Show her, show her, show her…,”
He kept on stroking.
His movements were measured.
“I’ll show her…,”
He pictured Maddy, and stared at the magazines, but all he kept seeing was his reflection trapped in his freshly shined shoes.
“Show her, show her, show….”
He came with a painful grunt as if his self-manipulation was more a punishment than a joy. He caught the spurt in an open envelope. Then he sealed it with his glue stick, so he wouldn’t have to lick the envelope.
He used a small blue pen to address it to Maddy Harker.
Then he laid the envelope next to the other three, neatly stacked on his bedside table.
He opened another envelope.
He set it within handy reach.
Then he began stroking himself again, even though his cock was long since rubbed raw.
“Show her, I’ll show her, I’ll show her…,”
All the while thinking about Maddy.
What he’d do to her tomorrow, Vic or no.
In the closet, carefully hung with its brothers, Marvin Pusser’s uniform glowed a soft and tattery blue.
* 2 *
The kid from the grocery arrived before supper.
Lily had seen him before. He was tall and gangly, with a set of stick-like arms poked a couple of inches from his cuff line. He looked like a good wind could knock him over, but Lily wasn’t taking any chances on men at her door.
She slid an envelope full of money under the crack of the door. She told him to keep the change rather than risk the touch of his hand. Then she waited for him to pull away in his black delivery truck, before opening the door and dragging in the carton of groceries.
The word grocery was a kindness. It was garbage, all of it. Sixteen tubs of premium garbage.
Eight varieties of ice cream, two tubs of each.
One tub empty.
What the hell, thirty-one varieties of ice cream is a balanced diet, isn’t it?
I ought to throw this crap out, she thought. Marvin Pusser certainly wasn’t worth it. Even Raoul wasn’t worth it.
She ought to know better.
Then she opened the first tub of ice cream and she began shoveling the sweet numbing cold into her mouth like it was her last meal on earth.
As a matter of fact, it was.
* 3 *
Maddy swam up from the darkness that had swallowed her.
She could see the wall clock. Its hands spun like a broken windmill. Slowly, they came into focus.
Just past seven.
AM or PM?
Her head hurt.
It was hard to think.
She heard Zigger out back, baying for a master who would never return.
She couldn’t see where Helliard was.
Maybe he’d left.
She could hear him now, still chewing that damn salami.
“Rise and shine, sunshine,” Bluedaddy crowed from his catbird seat. “We got company comng.”
The old ghost slapped his tattery blue hands together like a child. A burst of tiny blue sparks danced from each slap.
“I know we got company,” Maddy mumbled.
“Are you talking to yourself, Mad Again?” Helliard asked. “That’s a bad sign. Folks get to thinking you’re crazy. First you go killing your husband. Then you get to talking to yourself. That’s bad signs all around.”
He grinned, opening his mouth to show her the half chewed salami.
There was a knock at the door.
“Shh,” Helliard commanded.
Quick as a cat he knelt down beside Maddy, clamping a hand over her mouth.
The palm of his hand stank of sex and salami.
“You go talking and there’ll be gunplay,” Helliard whispered. “And for sure you’ll get the first bullet.”
The knock again, this time even louder.
Maddy recognized the voice.
It was Earl Toad.
She made as if to yell.
“You still got your dead husband’s brains to explain,” Helliard hissed. “You think about that.”
“This is the police,” Earl called out. “Is there anybody in there?”
Maddy pulled free of Helliard’s hand.
“He ain’t going away,” she cautioned.
Helliard thought about that.
“Maddy?” Earl called again. “Are you in there?”
“I don’t want to be caught,” she whispered in Helliard’s ear.
Damn it, Helliard thought.
She was making sense.
“Go answer the door, but don’t let him in,” Helliard told her. “Tell him anything. Just get him gone. Whatever you do, don’t let him in. You do that and we’re all going to die.”
Sooner or later we’re all going to die anyway, Maddy thought.
Then he kissed her, big and tender and open-mouthed like a lover would.
Maddy tasted garlic on his breath. She felt half chewed bits of salami slipping over tongue. She smelled the circlet of dried blood about his ear where she’d chewed it. The ear looked to dangle loosely, like a man on a homemade gallows.
She remembered what the ear tasted like.
Then she stood up.
She went to the door to answer it, not knowing what she’d say until she got there.
* 4 *
Earl Toad stood patiently at the door.
It was his sixteenth house of the evening. So far, nobody was answering. He should go to hell home, but he knew someone was in there. He could tell by the lights.
Anyone who knew Vic Harker, knew he wasn’t one to burn useless electricity. The man was so cheap he would fart on a stone to save the grease.
The door opened.
It was Maddy.
“Evening Maddy,” Earl said. “I just dropped by to ask a few questions.”
Right away Earl saw why she hadn’t wanted to answer. Judging from the look of her she’d been beat like a borrowed mule. Earl saw a series of purple-grey bruises across her cheekbones and what looked to be the beginning of a dandy-sized mouse burrowing beneath her left eye.
“My Christ, Maddy,” Earl said. “What in the hell happened to you?”
Earl knew damn well what happened, but he only asked out of discrete politeness.
“Did Vic do his?”
“That’s none of your business Earl,” Maddy replied. “I took a spill in the barn. I wasn’t watching where I was going. The damn horse kicked me.”
Earl wasn’t buying that horse crap.
“Is Vic in?”
She shook her head.
“He said he was gone. He left this weekend. He told me he was headed for Maine. I don’t think he’s coming back.”
Zigger appeared out of the darkness.
That had to be one of the ugliest-looking hounds that Earl had ever seen.
He wondered why they hadn’t put the old brute down years ago.
“So how come he didn’t take his backhoe?” Earl asked.
Maddy rolled her eyes up and back for half a beat, thinking up an answer as fast as she could.
“He didn’t take his horses, either,” she said. “It seems to me he was just too mad to care.”
Earl eyed the bruises.
“It looks to me like mad is the right word for sure.”
“I told you that was a horse.”
“Horse’s ass, more likely,” Earl said. “Well, you stick to your story as long as you want, but if you’d like me to hunt the bastard down I’d be happy to do it.”
“It was a horse.”
“So you say.”
Maddy blew out her breath impatiently.
“What can I do for you, Earl?”
“I’m looking for a car,” he told her, glad to change the topic. “I’m looking for a big and rusty red road boat, being driven by a big redheaded kid.”
“A matching set,” Maddy said wryly. “Nice.”
“We got an APB, and I’m just earning my pay, is all.”
“I ain’t seen any Mercury,” she said. “The fact is, I haven’t seen a car all day.”
There was that look again.
She was lying about something and Earl knew it but he couldn’t prove a damn thing.
There wasn’t a damn thing Earl could do about it, for now. Maybe he was just paranoid, like Wendy Joe said. Maybe it was a horse.
And maybe politicians were honest to the bone.
Earl took a step closer.
Which was when he noticed something small crawling down Maddy’s cheekbone. It looked just like a little white freckle, until it moved. His throat stiffened like he’d swallowed quick dry cement.
“What’s that thing crawling on your cheek?”
Maddy picked it from her face. She tried to look calm but Earl didn’t buy it.
Not one bit.
“Just a bug,” she said.
“Bug, nothing,” Earl said. “That was a maggot. Jesus Christ, Maddy. What have you been into?”
“Burying a dog.”
Only she said it way too fast.
Lying, Earl thought.
Oh she was lying, for sure.
He pointed at Zigger.
“That’s your dog, isn’t it?” Earl said. “He looks decidedly unburied to me.”
She looked down way too fast.
Earl could hear the lying-gears turning in her mind.
Just what the hell was going on?
“It was another dog,” she explained. “Roadkill. Some kid hit him, I guess. Maybe that kid in your Mercury.”
“That story’s awfully thin, Maddy.”
“Are you calling me a liar?”
Earl looked away.
“I don’t know what you want me to say, Earl,” Maddy complained. “I’m dog tired. Can’t I just say good night?”
“I guess you just did.”
She closed the door, leaving him standing alone in the darkness.
He thought about nosing around, maybe peeking in the windows.
The whole story about the dog got to him.
And how’d she know it was a Mercury?
Wendy Joe was right. He was letting his paranoia get to him. All that happened was a redneck asshole came home drunk and beat his wife. There was nothing more mysterious than that.
She was just shook up, was all.
He headed back to his squad car and fired the engine up.
He gave a half wave, just in case anybody was looking.
Nobody waved back.
He promised himself to run into Vic Harker sometime this week.
He’d regret it when he did.
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