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 *
Marvin got up bright and early, tingling like a kid before Christmas.
Of course not all the tingling was excitement. The side of his face stung like a bastard from Maddy’s paint can massage.
He couldn’t wait to get his hands on that bitch.
He’d show the whore what he thought of all her tough talk. She’d asked for it and he’d give it to her in big fucking spades.
She’d beg for it before he was done fucking her.
He liked the sound of the word. It sounded like reap. Like bringing in the crops and harvesting what you’d worked for.
What you deserved.
He made his mind up halfway through the late night news, listening to some politician talk about taxes going up. How there was no helping it. How we’d asked for it and earned it.
Maddy was going to get what she’d asked for.
Marvin had been raped before, back in Cape Breton when he ran the painting business. That woman he’d screwed. She’d asked for it too. Hell, his lawyer had even proved that. Deep down he knew that he’d been lucky to get away with it. He’d been lucky that his lawyer could argue like a bastard.
He ought to forget it. He ought to let Maddy go on, wanting him. Fuck, it’d serve her right, but he wanted her now. It was her fault. He just hoped he could get away without being caught.
He was whistling while he slung the mail sack over his shoulder.
Rain, snow, sleet, or hail, Maddy was going straight to hell.
“Hope you got a good sleep Mrs. Maddy Harker. You’re sure going to need it.”
He couldn’t wait. He was damn near creaming in his fresh new postal trousers at the thought of what he’d do to her.
He’d made his mind up.
It was kind of life’s ambition.
He’d see Maddy’s tits, or he’d die trying.
* 2 *
Vic leaned over Maddy.
She felt his weight, looming over her.
She felt the dankness of his shadow touch her breastbone.
“Now how’s that supposed to make me feel?” Vic the scarecrow-thing asked.
She blinked her eyes hard as she could. He wouldn’t go away. He just leaned there, arms stuck out like a petrified crucifix and bending in strange angles, like he couldn’t remember how to twist.
He swatted Duane’s corpse aside. The corpse hit the floor like a sack of rancid cabbage.
“I’ll tend to you later, maggot face.”
Then he turned back to Maddy.
“How’s my little girl?”
He stank like a moldy basement. His eyes were washed out and yellow, the color of rotting sunflowers. His flesh was black, damp and shiny as a meaty garden slug. He looked like a greasy shit sculpture wrapped in wet plastic. I didn’t hit him hard enough, she thought. I didn’t hit him hard enough and I didn’t bury him deep enough and the bastard must have some how clawed free.
“How about a kiss?”
He leaned closer.
His clothes were part of him like his plaid shirt was a part of his skin.
The strangest of all was the half dozen daisies, all black and wet like a tangled knot of fresh-caught eels. The daisies were poking and wriggling, like soft lamprey periscopes sticking out of the ruin of his chest.
Helliard whimpered from the floor.
Maddy didn’t know just what Vic had done to him, but whatever he had done it sure sounded bad.
“Come on,” Vic said. “No good morning kiss?”
He leaned closer.
His breath was a gust of swamp gas blasting across a rotted compost heap. His voice rasped like nails dragging out of a blackened coffin. Then she saw his hands and screamed. His hands, or rather the place where his hands used to be. They were nothing now but moldy stumps, black and stubby, like swamp-rotted tree roots.
Vic was a scarecrow.
There was no other name for it.
All he needed was an old straw hat and a couple of buttons sewned into the gap where his eyes haunted out.
He grinned at her like a rotted jack lantern.
“Aren’t you glad to see me, girl?”
She shook her head, in horror as much as in answer to his question.
“Come on. Even old Zigger is glad to see that I’m home.”
It was true.
The old dog panted happily at Vic’s foot stumps.
“You’re dead,” was all she could think to say.
“Dead and buried,” Vic agreed. “And I’m just getting started.”
She pushed up from the bed as far her binding allowed.
He tilted one stick arm beneath her and yanked her free. She felt bits of herself letting go and shrinking down.
It was just like old times. There was Vic, just as large as God, and here was Maddy getting smaller by the minute. He shook her like her bones were made of calcium earthquakes.
“You killed me, didn’t you? You thought you’d get rid of me. Stupid bitch. You ain’t never going to get rid of me. We’re married, damn it. Until death do us part, and then some.”
He kept on shaking her. He was doing a pretty good job of it, seeing he had no hands and all.
She tried to break free.
It was useless.
He was too goddamn strong.
“Don’t you know I love you?” Vic roared out.
He kept on shaking her.
Then he slammed her against the wall.
“Love!” he shouted, cracking the side of her face with a hard-swung wrist stump.
“I – Love – You,” he shouted, punctuating each word with a slap. “Love, you, love, you….”
He had a hell of a way of showing it.
“Love, you, love, you…,”
Zigger barked excitedly along.
Maddy tumbled back down into unconsciousness. She wasn’t sure if she was passing out, falling asleep, or just plain dying.
“Love, you, love, you…,”
Maybe I’ll wake up dead, was her last remembered thought.
She wondered if she’d come back like Vic.
Or what she’d look like if she did.
Or if she’d even sprout her very own bouquet of daisies.
* 3 *
It stank in the station house.
Wilfred noticed the stink right off.
It reeked like someone had burned up a dead cat and then farted over the ashes.
And why in the hell had Wendy Joe turned the filing cabinet to the wall?
And why had she sealed the filing cabinet up with what looked like two or three rolls worth of duct tape?
Wilfred moved to check on the filing cabinet but Wendy Joe leaped in his way. There was no other word for it. She leaped, like a mother might leap in front of a car bearing down on her firstborn.
“Are you happy to see me?” Wilfred asked. “Or not?”
Wendy Joe swallowed like he’d caught her without words to say.
“Is there something wrong?” he continued.
She shook her head hard.
“Nothing,” she said. “Nothing’s wrong at all. You just scared me, is all.”
“What, you think I was a zombie?” he slid into an East Coast Bela Lugosi. “I’m going to turn you into a zombie.”
She grinned, like he’d poked her in the ribs with a pool stick and called it tickle. “I just had a rough night, is all,” she replied.
“Yeah, me too. What the hell is that reek? Has Earl been eating poutine again?”
“You’d have to ask Clavis,” Wendy Joe said. “It come from out of his guts.”
She had a funny look on when she said this.
“Did he move the filing cabinet, too?” Wilfred asked. “And duct tape it as well?”
He reached out for the cabinet again.
“Don’t touch that,” she warned.
He turned in disbelief.
“Who the hell do you think you are? M.C. freaking Hammer?”
“He puked on it, is all. I was trying to walk him around to clear his head when he upchucked. He made a hell of a mess. I sealed it up with the duct tape to keep the files protected. I’ll clean the whole mess up before the day is through.”
It didn’t smell like any puke Wilfred had ever smelled.
“Hell Wendy Joe. I told you never to unlock any of the cells without us around.”
“It isn’t a cell, Wilfred. It’s a goddamn storage room. Besides, you know that old Clavis wouldn’t hurt a fly.”
“He didn’t seem all that harmless waving that hammer, yesterday.”
“So he’s a bad carpenter. It doesn’t make him Hannibal Lector.”
He supposed she was right. He being foolish.
He looked down at the floorboards.
“Let me try this again.”
He stepped back outside the door and closed it behind him.
A moment later stepped back inside.
“Good morning Wendy Joe. And what a fine morning it is.”
She chuckled at his foolishness.
“Good to see you smiling, girl,” he said, still grinning. “You light the sky up like a Sunday sunrise.”
“You give yourself a poetry enema this morning?” she asked.
He grinned and sat down with an audible grunt.
“Is your leg still paining you?”
“Only when I use it,” he grunted in reply.
“I could mix you up a salve, would take the ache right away.”
He shook his head.
“Can’t change, I guess.”
“Anybody can change.”
“Maybe,” he said. “It’d sure be nice. To change.”
“Just got to put your mind to it.”
“It’d be nice if you could step back and fix something broke before it got that way. Like my car. If I could just step back and ease my foot off that gas pedal, might save this department a hell of a lot of trouble and money.”
He was talking about the squad car, but thinking about Emma.
“Everybody thinks that,” Wendy Joe went on. “The truth is, there isn’t a soul around that hasn’t been painted with some kind of regret. Some wrong turn they’d love to have another crack at.”
She was talking about Wilfred, and thinking about him too.
“Take marriage, for instance. It doesn’t take a lot to say I do. But once you say it, you’ve stepped halfway down a long old road, and maybe there’s no way back. A body needs to be sure.”
She looked right at him.
“Do you ever think about other women?” she asked, not believing her boldness. “I mean, besides Emma?”
“Hell. Any man says he don’t think of other women is a bald-faced liar. We’re like hounds that way, on the trail and sniffing around. But seeing a rabbit doesn’t mean that it’s hunting season.”
“Was there ever anyone else?”
“There’s always someone else,” Wilfred admitted. “There are just too many lonely souls out there, for there not to be. All of them, just hoping for someone to listen to them gripe. For someone to pick you up when you trip over your asshole. To be there for you. Someone who knows you’re more than a badge on two legs.”
“Does Emma do that for you?”
She ought to be careful. She was getting awfully close to the truth. Wilfred wasn’t stupid, just tired. To hell with it, maybe it was the right time.
“Emma did, Emma does just fine,” Wilfred replied. “She puts up with my shit, and I put up with hers. That’s all love really is. Forget about all of those valentine’s cards. Love is just finding someone who can abide your ways and foolishness. Someone who can put up with your foolishness until you die. Someone to share time with. Someone to talk to. That’s all there is to it. The only trick is making that someone special.”
He looked away like he was looking back through a long-distance scrapbook.
“Hell,” he went on. “Emma does that fine.”
Wendy Joe kept pushing.
“And you never cheated? You never even thought of it?”
“Never needed the aggravation, I guess.”
“Don’t have to be aggravating. It could be fun.”
Hell, she thought, she might as well be wearing a sandwich board saying – ROOM FOR RENT, but Wilfred was just too damn tired – or else just plain stupid – to notice.
“My Daddy was the cheatingest man you ever met,” Wilfred explained. “The thing was, he never looked happy about it. He was always thinking up the next lie. He was always wearing that shamed look on his face. He knew it was wrong, but he’d turned down that road so long ago there was nothing he could do but see it on out.”
Right then she knew she would never reach him.
Not with a million hoodoo dolls.
“And you know, I don’t know if Mama ever found out. They died together in that fire. The fireman found them locked in each other’s arms. Daddy was leaned over her, protecting her right to the end. I don’t know if she ever knew about his cheating, or if it ever really mattered to her.”
Wendy Joe shook her head.
She knew she was beat, but she kept on trying.
“Wilfred, you are the most honest man I ever met. If there’s ever anything I can do for you, anything at all, you just give a whistle and I’ll come running.”
She knew what she was and wasn’t saying, but you never knew what fate might roll down the pipeline.
You just had to stay open, was all.
The heaviness was too much for Wilfred.
He looked around, hoping for some sort of a savior.
So in walked Earl.
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