What can be said of man, other than he is an abomination beyond all words. Declan Grey had learned this the hard way, over several past years as a private detective. It seemed no matter how often he thought that it couldn't get any weirder or worse that it did. His cases were strange. These days are stranger still...
The last 3 weeks had been a real bear. He had been hired to run a skip trace for the estranged husband of one Madeleine Grix. It seemed that Jeremiah Grix had been arrested during an attempted grave robbing. The plot belonged to one Chester Scranton, a reputed cult leader and sorcerer. Grix had been caught with a shovel in his hand while standing over one big, empty hole in the Halo, Illinois' Manchester Cemetery. The plot was light one corpse, and Jeremiah Grix was heavy with excuses. It seemed to be all cut and dry.
The sheriff took him into custody, and he hardy spent 24 hours in jail. He had been placed on $20,000 bond, and as soon as Mrs. Grix had loosed this viper he had made for the hills. He had vaporized like shadows in sunlight. There was little doubt as to his actual guilt at this point. At least Grey didn't have any...
Weeks had past, and there had been no word from Jeremiah to his wife. Growing concerned, the lovely as well as wealthy Mrs. Grix had come to Grey Investigations looking for answers. Grey had promised her resolution, in whatever form that it would eventually take.
Some questions are better left unanswered.
And against his better judgment he had taken the case. Grey was crusty, but he still had a soft spot or 2 in that old black heart of his. How could he resist a lady so beautiful, so sad, and so wealthy? The money was good at least, even if his intentions weren't.
She was a hard package to resist-both subtle and deadly in her look. He had to keep his mind on the case, at least for now. Distractions make for brutal ends in any situation. The battle is won before the first skirmish is ever initiated.
Grey had spent the past few days buried inside of a computer looking for the ghosts left by a vanished man. In the old days such a search would have meant many days of footwork, and even then there still be nothing to show for such an effort. Today it is all just a matter of following the bits, and finding the parity hidden within. Weeks became days, and days became hours...all just flashes of data streamed across an electronic web. But still they could disappear, passing right through that spider's snare. Like specters they are gone, faded into that ether.
His search had not been in vain though. The clues, and a well-developed gut instinct, had led him to a small, rundown house just on the outskirts of Freeburg. It was a dank, dark little cottage nestled deep in the woods of this Chicago hinterland. There was an essence of something very old and evil there, like a reoccurring bleak dream that is never forgotten. It bothered Grey greatly. But that was part of the job, and Grey understood that all too well.
He sure as Hell didn't have to like it though. He definitely didn't like it...
The sun had been down now for many hours. The cold darkness soaked into everything, permeating the uttermost depths-as if death itself had made a call. A drizzle fell from a starless sky. All seemed bleak and weary, leaving Grey setting in his car wondering what the point was to all of this anyway. The streetlights flickered in the dimming night as rain continued to fall in ceaseless a parade from the heavens.
Grey saw bright flashes of light coming from the rundown house. Leaving his car, he slowly made his way towards one of the windows. Through the glass he saw Jeremiah Grix reading from a worn, old book. Before him lie a pile of bones and other human remains shuffled into an uneven stack. As Grix spoke, the bones began to shake slightly. At first it was barely noticeable, but as his oration droned on the tremors increased in intensity until the heap shifted and sorted in some unnatural macabre waltz.
Flesh formed upon the bones, and as Grey watched they slowly took on a living form. At first monstrous, the cacophony of resurrection soon became more and more human. Within minutes, before Grix's godlike gaze, stood a naked man reborn from the remnants of carrion dreams. The thing was human in appearance, but wholly unnatural for any man to behold. He was a wretched and unwholesome sight, and the very sight of it made Grey's guts clench in revile.
Grix smiled arrogantly, seeing the wonder of what he had done. "Now at last I must know how it feels to be God," he said laughing. His arms rose towards the sky, shaking his fists in hubris, he said, "At last I am immortal. I have unwound the secret thing, and I have broke open the eternal. Now, even the stars fear to say my name!" It was then that Grix caught sight of Grey from the corner of his eye. "Kill him!" he screamed. "Kill him!"
Grey ran, never looking back as took deep strides towards the road. The resurrected thing jumped through the window, glass tearing and shredding his flesh. Jagged shards stuck in his bloody flesh. He roared as he tore behind Grey, catching him as they finally reached Grey's car.
From his coat, Grey pulled a revolver and let him have it. Six times bullets penetrated the corpse, and still it came. It lifted Grey over its head, and threw him over the car as if tossing a rag doll.
Grey flinched in pain, hitting the ground hard. The bones popped loudly, as his muscles strained to take the brunt of the impact. He skidded on the gravel, digging bloody channels into his skin like rubber skid marks on asphalt. "Damn," Declan Grey moaned, "He's bulletproof." Scrambling to his feet, Grey got the back door opened to his car. He grabbed a lantern, and threw it at the thing in a crude motion.
The lantern broke, spilling fuel oil and pieces of glass all over the beast. Grey struck a road flare, and said, "Need a light?"
He threw it at his attacker, igniting it in a fierce glow of burning kerosene. It crumpled in pain, down on its knees and finally flat on the ground. The howls wickedly echoed as it died once more in flaming agony. Back to death it returned...resurrection denied.
"Sweet dreams," Grey said staring down at the burning heap of flesh and bones. "Sweet dreams." The rain fell harder from the sky now. Such are the ways of dark remembrance, both eternal and fleeting in the same shallow breath.
It was then that Grey knew that Grix must be stopped. At any cost, he would make sure that this man was ended. There was no turning back. It was to late to run. Now all that was left was death or glory...
Grey grabbed a gallon of gasoline, and a few other odds and ends, from the trunk of his car. He had no idea what was waiting for him back at the house, but he wanted to be as ready as he could be. The last thing that he did was load his gun, for what little good it had done him before. If nothing else it would make him feel better. The cold embrace of the Colt in his hand was some consolation.
When he got back to the house he found Grix waiting for him outside in the pouring rain. "So, you killed my baby. Little matter," Grix said coldly. "I'll take care of you myself."
Grix belted Grey in the face, knocking him flat on his back with a sudden snap. Skin against skin, he felt the static sting of the friction before his body whipped back and fell clumsily into the mud below. Clenching the gas can tightly in his hand, Grey swept Grix's legs and flattened him as well. He then hit Grix across the face with the can, busting his nose and making it bleed profusely.
It was just like slam dancing, he who hits hardest wins. There was a brutal beauty to grinding your boot treads in someone's face. So much for gentlemen's rules...
The gas sloshed in the can. The dull splash rang like a klaxon. Grey loosened the lid, and splashed Grix heavily with the smelly fuel. He then dropped it to the ground. It poured freely from the can, as the gas formed a large puddle around Grix.
Then Grey got back on his feet, and took several steps back. The rain began falling in sheets. There was a labored groan, as Grix struggled to his feet. Grey stuck his hand in his coat pocket.
"You can't shoot me," Grix laughed. "Bullets can't kill me." He glowed with arrogant surety. "Gas... What are you going to do light a match? What gives you the famous final word?" Then he laughed.
Grey quietly smiled. Pulling a gun from his coat, he took aim. Then he sternly said, "Sometimes you have to carry your own sunshine on rainy days." Click. The flare shot from the gun, hitting Grix in the chest, and lit him up like a torch instantly.
Grix screamed as his life burned away. Soon he was little more than ashes and bad memories. Really bad memories...
"Have a nice day," Grey said sarcastically as he kicked Grix's skull from the fire. Then he planted his foot on it, and crushed it for a final bow. "He who laughs last..."
"Let's smash the face of tradition." Then he turned his back and walked away.
After it was done, Grey torched the house as well. All traces of what had been done there had to be destroyed. This power had to be kept from falling into the wrong hands again.
Grey decided that it was better that Madeleine Grix never know what happened to her husband. Some things are better left unmentioned. Every truth has its price.
Some secrets are better left buried.
Story Notes: Version 2.
Written by W.B. Vogel.
Copyright © 2000 A.D.
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created by W.B. Vogel.
May 15, 2001 A.D.