I knew as soon as stepped into bar it would be my kind of place. The smoke gave the rustic “non smoking” bar an almost hazy appearance as I try to take in the scene from the door. The clink of glasses and idle, though sometimes violent, conversation grounds to a halt as the bikers and assorted others who fall onto my side of the law return the courtesy of casing me up.
I suppose I might be a bit intimidating, even in this crowd, happens when you stand taller than most guys. Probably doesn’t help that the beat up leather jacket I love more than a human child looks like it’s been in a few knife fights, especially not the dried blood caked onto the side.
Then again considering how many of these guys carry those same knives, maybe it’s not as intimidating as I like. I head across the room, shrugging off the stares, just another new bar I tell myself as I order a drink. Shame this place seems to be the typical biker joint, I could really use something cute and soft to take my minds off things, but alas it looks like I’m stuck with the Cinemax back at the hotel later tonight.
Taking the beer as it’s offered the scrapping of the bar stool next to me heralds the end of my very short wait, entirely too short in my opinion, can’t even enjoy my beer.
“Evening Rufus” I say between sips, he’s the reason I came to this dinky little town.
Pleasantville? Who the hell names a town that, especially one with a crockety old bastard like Rufus running around in it.
“Glad you could make it Jason” he says with his trademark extended drawl. I look over to see a crinkled smile lying on that demented little face of his. Rufus for all intents and purposes is a hobbit. Not a real one mind you, but short, wiry, hairy, looks like he should be running around trying to touch Mr. Baggins “Precious”. If it wasn’t for the fact that I knew what he did, I’d think he was little old man from Family Guy, with less child molestation and more whiskey.
We wait patiently for his double of Jack to arrive and he drains it in one pull and calls for another before turning towards me.
“So how you been boy? And that brother of yours, what’s he doing these days?”
“You know Eric, kids probably “investigating” Cancun again this year.”
“Hey now Jason, he did find that” his sentence is drowned off by a bar fight starting across the bar “last year, so it’s not like he was lyin’.”
“Yeah yeah. Anyway cut the shit Rufus. What’s got you so worked up you called me into Boring USA?” As soon as the words are out of my lips the smile slides from his face and he stares contemplatively into his newly arrived whiskey.
“What kind of trouble?”
“I broke a nail, our kind boy! You think I’d have called you all the way out here just to catch up? Sorry kiddo, but I don’t care for you that much.”
“Calm down old man, you’ll have a coronary. What are we looking at here?” I put the rest of my beer down, there’ll be time for that later, but now it’s time to get down to business. Rufus sets his aside too and rummages down into a bag I hadn’t noticed by his feet, pulling out a folder he leafs through a few documents before pulling out three. He slides the first one across to me, I look down into the bright blue eyes of a pretty little thing. Of course it’s hard to think of her as pretty when those two eyes in the photograph are open wide and dead as a doorknob.
“First up we have Elizabeth Wright, a twenty two year old nurse. She was found six months ago in the forest just outside the hospital. She left her shift one night and never came back, they didn’t find her till a week later.” He slides a second piece of paper across the way to me.
“Next up we have Andrew Carwin, thirty year old professional marathon runner, he went out for a midnight run three months ago and a few days after was found floating in the river.” He slides the third one across.
“And finally we have Alex Silian, fifty three year old heart donor recipient. Neighbours saw him go into his home after work about a week ago, he was found dead in his home yesterday.”
“That’s a great story Rufus, really, but what’s it have to do with me if three people showed up dead?” I ask confused.
“They were all missing their hearts.” He says softly, my blood running cold.
“Checked it three different times, all three of the vics were found with their hearts removed from their chests.”
“So what are you thinking? Werewolves?” I ask, and before you get all uppity, they do exist, and they suck.
“I wish boy.” He says shaking his head, draining the last of his cup. “But there isn’t any of the usual signs. None of the victims were torn up anywhere other than their chests. No bite or scratch marks at all, that and the disappearances haven’t happened near or on a full moon. There’s no hunting pattern, nothing to connect the three in any way except that for some reason someone decided they didn’t need their tickers any more.
“So what do you think it is then?” I ask the older man as he starts to put on his coat. He pulls it the rest of the way on before turning to look at me again.
“Fuck boy, if I knew that I wouldn’t have bothered to call ya. Now be a dear and take care of it will you? Oh, and can you grab the drinks?” He asks with a smirk as he walks away.
Fucking old people.
Have you ever googled “Heart Eating Monster” on the internet.
There are so many bull shit stories about creatures that eat hearts and aren’t werewolves. Somehow I truly doubt we are dealing with “The Mar Slug” or “El Heartatdor”. Where the fuck do people come up with this shit? I mean I live a pretty crazy life, but these people are just deranged. You’d think given the job I do I’d have a library of books available to help me figure it out. But I don’t, want to know why.
Because “The Ancient Scripture of Zazbloah” or “The Entire Writings Of The Zombie King” or even “Monster from A to Z” don’t exist. There is not an endless supply of lore on creatures, at least not legitimate lore. And those that do exist, cost alot, because they are old as fuck.
Money, one of the reasons I’m moonlighting as a wrestler. So please, pay for the pay per views I am on so I can get paid more and finally find a better way to kill things you think don’t exist.
After hours on the laptop I finally close it, rubbing my eyes at the futility of using the internet for anything besides porn. And yes, there is heart eating porn, no you don’t want to see it. Getting up I grab my jacket hanging from a nearby chair and head out of my “luxurious” motel room to find a bite to eat. I walk past the McDonalds and Wendy’s fast food gets really old really quick when you are on the road every day.
Not surprisingly there isn’t a whole lot open this late in a little town. The street lights cast just enough light to make it so it isn’t completely dark in the distance between them, but still leave enough shadows to cast an ominous feel to the place. A sharp gust of wind gusts down the main drag and I wrap my coat closer around my body. It’s not cold, but I can’t seem to shake the chills running down my spine.
I fumble around in my pocket for a moment before pulling out a beaten pack of smokes and the lighter my dad gave me way back when. Before....yeah, before. I light one up and take a long haul from the blessed cancer stick. I know it’s bad for me, but when you work my line of work things like down the line don’t seem to mean as much. Doubt I’ll be around long enough for cancer to care. The burning smoke is like a soothing balm on my nerves as another gust of wind blows down the road, this one threatening to blow my beloved cig from my mouth. This one also sends a shiver racing down my spine like lightening. But for a different reason, sailing gently on the wind the smallest noise sends my hear into over drive.
The very faintest scream.
The smoke falls from my lips, forgotten quickly as I bolt off down the road. A second scream louder than a first comes from the right and I dart down the first alley I come to. Running between the dark buildings I keep my ears peeled listening for any indication I am going the right way.
Bursting out of the alley into a back street I swing my head back and forth wildly, looking for the source of the screams mere moments before. Not seeing anything at first I go to turn back down the alley I had came to look somewhere else when the faintest of movements in the shadows next to a dilapidated home. Easing my hand slowly into my jacket I release the safety on my shoulder holster and slide the 9mm pistol held within free.
Holding the gun near my waist with both hands I sneak closer to the moving shadow, straining into the darkness to see what it is. As I step closer I see the hunched form of a man in a trench coat, his shoulders shaking as though he had been crying. Letting the pistol fall into just my one hand I stand up and put my free hand onto the mans shoulder.
“Buddy, are you alrigh...” is all I have time to say as several things happen very quickly. Firstly the man looked up at me with his completely dead and dull blue eyes. The grey wisps of his hair framing his face in a way that could have been considered classically handsome for an older man. The blood staining his mouth and neck doesn’t make sense to me until I see what he’s hunched over.
The body of woman is sitting underneath him, her chest peeled back away from the pearl white bone of her ribs like rotten fruit. The three ribs above her heart had been broken away and the organ itself ripped free. In that instant it strikes me that the man, or who I had thought was a man looked as though his face had been stitched together.
But most importantly he had never stopped chewing.
Chewing the half a heart that wasn’t resting in his right hand.
The same right hand that made the third thing happen very quickly. A pick up truck the same size as his right hand hit me in the side of the head, throwing me hard ten feet to the side where a convenient brick wall cushioned my fall. Falling to the ground with a thud I feel bones grating as I try to stand back up. Looking over towards the...thing, I see it staring at me. It looks at me like the piece of meat I may be to it, my hand clenches tighter onto the pistol, refusing to have let it go.
It takes a step towards me and I raise my hand, protesting in pain, and trigger several shots. Each one hits and begins to ooze a blackish, red sludge. The creature stops in confusion, a finger poking one of the holes before looking back at me. My head is still heavy from the hit earlier, but I fight off the swimming black tide and fight to keep staring at him as I rise to a knee. The creature looks at me again, then back it’s unfinished meal. It takes another bite then turns and walks off into the night. I stand up to follow, I need to stop this thing, I need to take it out.
The darkness comes back with a better idea.
I need a nap.
“Wake the fuck up boy!” a rude voice says over the sound of my harem of popular television vixens. The freezing cold water thrown on my face causing my buxom beauties to evaporate into the concerned visage of Rufus. Rubbing my suddenly throbbing head I sit up, taking stock of the bed I rest in and comfortable yet sparse room surrounding me.
“What the fuck happened?” I ask groggily, reaching out for an offered glass of water.
“You tell me boy. Try’d calling you last night a few times, didn’t get no answer so I tracked you down. Imagine my surprise when I find you face down in the street feet from a body with no chest attached.”
“Tracked me down, what’ve I had been getting lucky?” I ask, not really in the mood to work yet. Unfortunately Rufus seemed to think that needed to be done then and there.
“Then I’d have thought you were your brother and shot ya. Anyway what the hell happened last night?”
“I heard a girl scream last night, Ms. No Chest, and followed it. When I arrived I found this, sort of man standing over the girl eating her heart. He hit me, knocked me for a loop. I shot it and I think I annoyed it, then it left me alone and I succumbed to my injuries.”
“So you passed out like a girl.”
“Fuck you Rufus.”
“Love you too kiddo, anyway at least we know what we’re dealing with now.” The old man said, causing me to jump in shock, seeing as how I had no fucking clue.
“How you figure?”
“Unlike you I know how to look through the right sources. Seems this isn’t the first time something like this has happened. It came to me while you were out, after we found out that the lady from last night was a nutritionist, what all four of them had in common”
“Their hearts, besides all being missing they all came from people who would keep theirs in great condition. A nurse who knows how to stay healthy, a marathon man whose heart is in its prime, a man who just got a brand spanking new heart from a healthy young man, and then a person whose bound to eat healthy and be in good shape. They all had Grade A Prime Meat Tickers.”
“And that helped you figure this out how old man?”
“Because unlike you idgit I have some brains. I looked through town records to see if this had happened before. Turns out there was a Dr. Alfred Morris back in 1943 that made a monster with a bit of a fetish for playing my ex-wife. By which I mean he ripped out the victims heart and ate it. Lore has it that the good old Doctor made a potion that when turned into a gas made normal folks into eternally living carnivores. So long as once in a while they tune up the main pump, they need to eat the hearts of others to keep theirs beating. Now after a time the good old Doctor got bored of his pet monster and ordered it to kill itself. Unfortunately the docs spell wasn’t perfect and the monster summoned up a little free will and left some of the magic potion boiling in the docs lab.
He breathed it in, lost his free will and became nothing more than a walking undead whose only goal is to continue eating the hearts of others so it can live forever. Supposedly he has killed years ago, but this fits his MO damned near perfect.” The older man finishes, rubbing his shoulder contemplatively.
“Well if it is him, it’s time his heart stopped beating. How do I kill him.”
“Fucked if I know boy.”
“It’s never easy is it?”
“Nope, on the bright side though, I’m pretty sure I know where he is.”
“And old cottage in the middle of the woods where no one can hear you scream.” I mumble to myself as I try to move stealthily along the outer wall of the decrepit cottage sitting alone surrounded by foliage. “Why is it always a fucking decrepit building in the middle of no where. Why can’t one fucking monster set up shop in Miami, on the beach. But no I need to come traipsing around the forest in the middle of the night, hoping to find something that most likely will want to eat my heart.
Good fucking times, got to love my life.
I look in through cracked and time dyed window to see a table set up in the middle of what looks like a very out of date doctors office. There are bloodied tools lying around haphazardly as a single lantern illuminates the room. The dust shows just how uncared for the place truly is, but the most important piece of the puzzle is missing, where is Dr. Alfred?
Right then two strong hands grab hold of the back of my jacket.
Me and my fucking thoughts.
The doctor throws me forward through the window, cuts and scratches opening instantly across my face and hands as I fly amongst the sparkling shards. I hit the ground hard and roll, my pistol up in an instant, blowing two small holes into the chest of Morris as he steps through the window. The holes stagger him for a moment before he keeps coming.
God damned useless fucking guns!
I pull myself to my feet quickly, shooting the doctor once in the head for good measure to the same effect as before. Throwing the gun to the side I try to tackle the doctor to the ground, at least to keep some sort of dominance. I wrap my arms around his waist and push, he slides back a few feet before he reaches down and lifts me above his head.
“Oh SHIT!” I scream as he smashes me back first onto the table, the sturdy structure shaking but holding under my weight. I try to roll off the board, but the doctor places one strong hand on my neck to hold me in place. Tight enough to constrict my breath and make it hard to get air, but not enough to risk my breathe stopping and my heart quitting. His other hand grabs hold if a bloodied scalpel and thrusts it towards my chest. I reach up with both hands and grab his wrist, hissing in pain because I wasn’t quick enough. I feel a stinging pain as the first half inch of the blade sinks into my chest, scraping a rib. Pushing as hard I can I keep him from shoving the blade any further, but can’t push him back. It’s a classic stalemate.
One he ends quickly as he shoves down on my throat making me gag, letting him slide the blade another hairs breadth forward towards his goal. I push as hard as I can but his hand just keeps pushing like a piston. Ignoring the pain of the scalpel moving next to my rib I push my leg up to rest on his chest and shove as hard I can, throwing him off me. The blade rips a gash upwards for a moment before ripping free.
The doctor bounces off the wall and charges me again. I grab the nearest thing at hand, the scalpel that had only recently been evicted from it’s home in my chest and shove it as hard as I can, right into the bastards heart. Instantly Morris’s face turns to shock as bright bubbly red blood froths from his mouth. Instead of the normal black and red sludge, normal human blood streams between my fingers as I twist the blade, shredding the heart it had managed to become lodged in.
Go figure a creature that eats hearts to save it’s own can only die if you destroy it.
I’m a fucking idiot somedays.
The creature stares up at me, fear clouding it’s eyes as though it can’t understand what had happened, why it wasn’t going to live forever.
I stare back at it, because I know the answer.
Nothing is supposed to live forever, it isn’t normal, and so I have to end it.
Because it’s what I do, I hunt things that aren’t normal.
I’m Jason Gravis - hunter, and far more dangerous than any normal wrestling pansy.
I also have a hole in my best that hurts like all fucking Christ.
“Yeah, so I tore the body up and buried it miles apart, don’t think the good doctor is going to be making any more house calls.” I say into the cell phone waiting at the bus station.
“Good good, glad you came to town boy.” Rufus says on the other end “I’m getting a bit too old for this shit. Anyway I heard they might have something goin’ down South Carolina way for you do if you can make the trip.”
“As long as it has nothing to do with doctors. After nearly getting my head caved in and my heart cut out by one, I had to deal with fucking hours of pokes and prodding so the quacks at the hospital could stitch up the hole he left in me. Bring on the freaks, the ugly, the unnatural, just keep the fucking doctors away from me for a while.” Rufus laughs at this before speaking.
“No, no doctors out that way.”
“Oh but I did have a message for ya boy.”
“Some place called Lords of Pain Wrestling called for you yesterday while you were out, said they wanted to tell you who your first match will be against.”
“Yeah, so whose the poor sap they chose for me to get paid to destroy?”
“You’ll love this kiddo.”
“Just fucking tell me old man.”
“Dr. Wagner.” He says cackling as he hangs up.
Fucking old people.
Fuck my life.