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  1. #1
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    Default Porcine Plague, featuring H. King.

    1

    So, our story started out on a Friday with a little domestic squabble in a Sizzler steakhouse. Not the likeliest of places for a woman to rip her husband's throat out with her teeth, is it? Marriage can be so rough. Gary Grant is our victim's name. (That's a funny name, isn't it? It reminds me of Cary Grant; I used to watch his old black and white stuff with my dad whenever they got played on the weekends. My old man's favorite Grant movie was Arsenic and Old Lace, but me? Notorious all the way. The very name of that flick just pops at you, doesn't it?)

    Anyway, Gary Grant. Imagine if you will, a family night out to celebrate the beloved patriarch getting a promotion at work. Dinner and a movie. Sounds swell, doesn't it? The Grant family, which includes two lovely children and his too-young for him second wife, head out for the steakhouse first, because Papa is famished. Mrs. Grant, wishing to watch her figure decides to split some ribs with her daughter. They are apparently delicious and she ends up eating them all before her girl can get around to her first bite. Then she starts snorting and licking her plate, all the while trembling, just like an old, palsied dog.

    "Honey?" Gary asks. She's not responding, refuses to answer him. She grabs her daughter's plate and begins licking it as well, all the while making the most embarrassing moaning noises. Practically orgasmic. Gary is getting upset, he wants to know what the hell is going on. He tries to pull the plate away, and wifey doesn't much like that. Three seconds later, she's a blur of motion, leaping for him over the table and Gary is spurting crimson into the faces of his screaming children. Mrs. Grant smacks her lips and decides that she likes the way his neck-meat tastes. She hunches over 'ol Gary, and tears into him. It took four grown men to pull her off, and one of them lost a finger doing it.

    Pretty bad, right?

    That atrocity repeated itself six times that night. Nice start to the weekend, wouldn't you say?

    ***

    Now, I'm not the sort of man who likes to do any traveling. I like my town and I don't care to leave it. I've also got a slight sun sensitivity issue that makes driving in the daylight a real chore, but when I heard about the 'Sizzler Slaughters', as they were calling it in the papers, I couldn't resist heading down to Ansonia, Connecticut. It's a tiny place, nothing special. One of those 19th century rush jobs that young people run from and old people die in. The sort of quiet town a man could raise a family in.

    Nothing about this place added up. One moment, six strangers eating in three different locations are enjoying a nice meal, and the next, they're making meals out of the closest saps nearby. They all did it the same way too, knocked 'em down, ripped out their throats. It's funny, because I've met a lot of interesting people in my life with a tendency to maul people in exactly that same manner. No playing with their food, all business. Typical newborn behavior. It's so interesting. Sizzler slaughter. Heh.

    It's a little past midnight by the time I find Ansonia's police Department. I did not intend for that at all, hell, I normally hate showing up anywhere at Midnight of all times; it's so melodramatic. It was just a bit more work than I thought it would be finding the place, but find it, I did. Mrs. Grant has been in custody for three days, in a little room all by her lonesome. The rest of the psychos all have their own cells as well; No attempt was being made to let them near anyone else, because the bastards liked to bite. I rolled into the parking lot, made sure I had everything in my travel kit, and headed on inside. The officer sitting at the desk gives me a look as I stroll in. I guess he doesn't like my loud Hawaiian shirt. Whatever, it's hot outside.

    I wave my hand at him before he can speak, make eye contact, and lay my Jedi mojo on his bored, graveyard-shift mind.

    "Hi," I say brightly. "I'm Hannibal King. I'm--uh, supposed to be here. To talk with Mrs. Grant, yeah? You make up the details, okay?"

    Was that lazy of me? Probably. I really didn't care, it was a time saver. The desk Cop wrinkles his brow while his brain formulated a reason for a stranger to show up at midnight and talk to a nutjob. It takes a few seconds because it's a real stretch of the imagination, but after a little while he buzzes me in to the cells.

    "Sure thing, Doc," he says. " Cell 23, same as last time. You need anything, just call." I nod at him, and head inside.

    I'm whistling the theme to notorious as I head to cell 23. It's been years since I watched it. Ever since my old man died, I just haven't been in the mood. My whistling is the only noise in the entire place, which is weird. Jails are never quiet. That silence had a weight to it as well; ominous didn't nearly cover it. Like birds before a storm, all the locals seemed to have had all the noise sucked out of 'em. I flair my nostrils and breath it all in--huh. It stinks.

    Unnatural. Bad.

    Looked like my hunch was right. I check my kit one more time, before I head over to speak with Mrs. Grant.

    [Continued]
    Last edited by Ian Pressman; 03-22-2013 at 05:13 PM.
    I can ruin you with two sentences.
    There is a clown watching you sleep.
    He isn't smiling.

  2. #2
    ❤ Walking with thee ❤ Ian Pressman's Avatar
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    Mrs. Grant looks like hell. Then again, I suppose she would.

    I saw she was still wearing the same white sundress she wore on Friday. The one she'd been photographed in. Ordinarily, she'd probably look very attractive in it with her sun-bronzed skin, and her highlighted, auburn hair. If I'd seen her walking past me in a store or the like, I'd probably think something to the effect of "she looked good enough to eat." (As an addendum, I'd probably have to add: "When she isn't eating people.")

    As it stood, her clothes were stained with the rust-colored remnants of her husband's blood. Old blood is so ugly to behold. It's so much more compelling when it's fresh. I can't help but think that she must have looked magnificent when that white cotton was freshly stained in bright scarlet. I wouldn't have minded seeing the act up close.

    Her makeup is smeared, her hair is a disheveled tangle. This, alongside her slouched stance, suggests disinterest, unwariness, indifference. It isn't until you meet her gaze, her horrid, bright-eyed gaze, that you realize that Mrs. Grant is very aware of her surroundings. Very alert.

    Very hungry.

    I stop a few feet from the bars to her cell, deciding to step no closer. Languidly, she moves her head up to study me. I watch her take a single, delicate whiff of the air. She closes her eyes to process the information, before her face is marred by a frown. She stares at me, irritated. Not liking what she sees.

    "A good evening to you, Ma'am," I say in a pleasant tone. "I'm Hannibal King, and so pleased to meet you."

    "You smell terribly," she says in response. Her voice is...different. An echo of itself. Like talking with your hand covering your mouth.

    "Do I? My apologies. Long drive, don't you know? No time to freshen up."

    "Like cold, dead meat. Wouldn't bother me ordinarily, but there's something else in you. It taints you. It would taint the taste."

    "Oh, that language! Keep talking like that, Mrs. Grant, and you will set my heart aflutter!"

    "I don't hear a heartbeat."

    Ah. Well, now I know she has good ears.

    "Well, Mrs. Grant," I continued. "While we're on the subject of unpleasant odors, I too sense or scent, if you will, something a little different about you. Something a little off. I don't suppose you'd be willing to share with me the knowledge of what it is?

    "Go away, dead man. We've no interest in you."

    "And may I ask whom, 'we' are?"

    "Leave. Now."

    "No."

    In a flash of explosive movement, she's at the bars to her cell. The strength of her grip begins to warp the cold metal alloy ever so slightly. Have you ever heard the sound of steel being torn asunder?

    It sounds a lot like screaming.

    Her eyes are wild with hate. The savage smile she wears across her face, reflects a spider's delight. I fumble in my kit for one of the Morton's salt packets I always carry around in case of such emergencies. I find one, rip an opening in it, and hurl it into her face before she can finish tearing her way free. With a howl of unadulterated rage, she falls back and claws at her eyes, hurling obscenities at me, cursing the name of Hannibal King in a variety of tongues. First English, then Latin, then Hebrew, then...Aramaic? Then it delves into languages I have never heard, words that I suspect have not spoken on the good earth since....

    Well, since for a long goddamn time.

    While she's on her back, I kick the door to her cell open and run inside, quick to begin my work. In my kit, I carried around a thermos filled with blessed sand. Most people prefer to use salt, but I learned a few years back from a Professional exorcist, that sand imported straight from the soil of Golgotha, over in Israel, carries with it a few metaphysical properties that lends itself extremely well to the binding of unclean spirits. Normally, I'd be wearing gloves while I poured, but this was a rush job. A few specks of the sand touch my fingers as I pour, and it burns, it burns so much. I grit my teeth, and complete the circle. Mrs. Grant is now trapped.

    When I've finished, I examine my hands. There are tiny, perfect little holes in my fingers where the sand burned into my skin and continued on until it fell through the other side. Ouch.

    I wipe sweat from my brow, suddenly cold now that the adrenaline has left me. That was a close one. Definitely, a close one.

    "Jesus Christ," I moaned.

    Immediately, a spark of blue flame scorches my tongue. I screech in pain, and bat at it in agony. Due to my--condition, there are certain words I'm unable to say without incurring certain penalties. The greater the faith held in those words, the more painful the result. I was lucky to have been born in the era I lived in. Back before the renaissance, saying that name aloud would have caused my head to literally explode. As it was, thanks to skeptical thinking and genuine disbelief, the worst Ihad to put up with, was the occasional burned tongue.

    (Don't feel too smug though, Christians. It's the faith in the belief not the belief itself that gives those names their power. If enough Pastafarians believed strongly enough, I could burn myself by taking the Flying Spaghetti Monster's name in vain. Think about it.)

    Blearily, I turned away from Mrs. Grant, and made my exit. On my way out, I stopped by the Desk Cop and commanded him to make certain absolutely no one disturbed her or touched the circle of sand. NO. ONE.

    I don't think he noticed any puffs of smoke that escaped my lips as I spoke.

    With that done, I pulled out of the station lot and began making my way to the Steakhouse. The scene of the crime, but not the crime everyone thought Mrs. Grant and the others were guilty of. They thought it was murder, but in truth, it was more like forced entry alongside a healthy dose of grand theft autonomy. The people in the cells were the victims, not the perpetrators. It all begged the question:

    What sort of a Demon possessed people at the Sizzler?

    [Continued]
    Last edited by Ian Pressman; 03-22-2013 at 08:50 PM.
    I can ruin you with two sentences.
    There is a clown watching you sleep.
    He isn't smiling.

  3. #3
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    I notice crime scene tape adorning the restaurant entryway, as I pulled in to the lot. This Sizzler has been closed for investigation since the killings occurred. Fear of the madness unleashed here has probably ruined this place's prospects for ever recovering from what happened. The emptiness of the parking lot, past midnight, would be matched by the emptiness of the parking lot, past noon.

    People have a good natural instinct for avoiding wrong places. And something here had gone so very, very wrong.

    I push my way inside, and take a good sniff of my surroundings. Like the town jail, the scent of the unnatural lingered over the place, but not as strongly. Diminished by the passage of days. I follow my nose, letting it lead me where it would. The absence of light in the darkened restaurant did nothing to impede my vision. I never wore sunglasses at night, but I could totally get away with it if I wanted. (Shame about the eighties fading away. I loved the eighties.)

    Presently, I found myself standing before one of those large corner booths. Surely, it was where the Grants had enjoyed their final meal together as a family. My hunch was supported by the huge puddle of congealed blood that blotted the tiled floor around it. Idly, I ran my pinky over the sticky mess and dipped it into my mouth.

    Ugh. Mr. Grant had been a smoker.

    I stared at the booth in curiosity, wondering what had been running through the man's mind during his final moments. There's a trick I can do where I can gaze at a person's memories merely by having a little taste of their blood. If I were much older and more powerful, then it wouldn't matter how dried up that blood was. Unfortunately, I was pretty young for being what I was, and I could only perform the trick with a fresh sample. Mr. Grant's perceptions were denied to me for all time.

    I drummed my fingers on the table and tried to think. Mrs. Grant had come here, eaten, and then been taken. But what was the event? What had triggered her possession? There are old and powerful laws that govern the unnatural and these laws couldn't be abjured, no matter how powerful the entity. Just as I couldn't enter a person's home without the permission of someone who lived there, a demon couldn't enter someone's body without their consent. From minor spirits to the Lords of Hell, from Baal to Dormammu, the law was set in stone.

    Unfortunately, that was a law that had a lot of workarounds. Demons are nothing if not clever, they're older than material existence, and they've thought of all sides of the angle. There had been a particularly insane case down in Tennessee, where Asmodeus, the unknitter of flesh, had manifested itself through the lyrics of an unreleased Elvis Presley single that had been discovered sealed in the hidden vaults of producer Sam Philips, which he had begged on his deathbed for his heirs never to reopen. Despite his wishes, they did it anyway.

    I felt badly for the cleaning crew that had to squeegee those walls.

    I searched under the table for any spelled scripts, I looked around the booth for any signs of an inverted pentagram. I even checked the mirrored ceiling to see if anything had been drawn on it. Nothing. Nothing at all. It didn't make any sense, that demon had to have gotten into Mrs. Grant somehow.

    My ears twitched as I heard the door I'd entered by, open. A flashlight beam cut through the air and shone over me as I heard a woman's voice call out:

    "Sir?"

    "Hello," I called out. "And who might you be?"

    "Sir, I'm with the police," she said in reply. "Could you please explain your presence here?"

    The police? Why would the police be here? I mean, yes, it was an open crime scene and all, but it was still far too late in the evening for their forensics people to be muddling through here, not that they would find anything of value to their investigation. Peering in her direction I saw a woman, a not unattractive brunette with her hair cut short, wearing a patrolman's uniform. In addition to having her light in my face, she had the holster to her gun unstrapped.

    "Oh, I'm sorry, ma'am," I said. "Listen, I'm only pulling out my identification, if you'd kindly not shoot me as I reach for it. Do you mind turning away that light?"

    Actually, too much light couldn't impede my vision anymore than too much darkness could, but it was always a good idea to play along when you wanted someone else to think they had an advantage.

    I reached into my back pocket, pulled out my wallet, opened it, and then took a few steps forward and laid it down on a nearby table, keeping my hands up the entire time. She picked it up, flipped it open and went over my I.D. using her flashlight.

    "A private Investigator, huh?" She said as she studied my license. "Interesting name, Mr. King. I've never heard of a local agency called Midnight Sons inc., however."

    "I'm from out of town," I said. "We're small, but growing. We've got satellite branches in the Southwest and further east."

    "Which Branch are you with?"

    "I'm from around."

    "Answer the question, please."

    "Will you give me your phone number if I do?"

    "My partner probably wouldn't approve."

    "You're not here alone?"

    "I was referring to my wife."

    Ouch. I hurriedly cleared my throat before saying, "Oh. Oh. Sorry, I didn't see a ring."

    "How could you see anything with these lights off?"

    Damn, she was perceptive. Normally, when I'm confronted with intelligent law enforcement, I'd simply give them a mind whammy and send them on their way. However, she couldn't see my eyes clearly enough in the dark for my powers to work. This could get irritating.

    "Well," I began. "I was hired on behalf of interested parties that were, uh, interested in. Things. They wanted pictures of the crime scene so...they hired me. For the crime scene. Pictures."

    "You're here on behalf of the tabloids?" She asked. "To take pictures of where innocent people have died?"

    "Why, yes. Yes, I am."

    "In which case, you don't have permission from the franchise owners to be inside this building right now?"

    "I--was not going to say that."

    "No Mr. King, I imagine you weren't. Would you please step outside with me, sir?"

    I gave a defeated-looking slump of my shoulders, and slouched over to walk with her outside. I saw through the window that her patrol car was beside a nice, brightly lit streetlamp. That was good. Soon enough, I'd be able to enthrall her and make her forget I was ever here, then I could get back to my investigation. Just as I reached the exit, however, the hackles rose up on the back of my neck. The air flooded with the scent of the demonic, and I saw a figure crawling towards the restaurant through the lot, on his hands and knees.

    He was completely naked, covered in filth, and moving at a bewilderingly quick pace.

    "Shit," I swore.

    "You should have thought about that before you broke the law, Mr. King," replied the officer, unhelpfully.

    The sound of cracking glass coming from the back of the restaurant, as well as another from the side entrance, alerted me to the unwelcome fact that the naked man was not alone.

    Alarmed, the officer drew her sidearm, and brought her flashlight to bear on a filthy teenage girl wearing a ragged outfit, who reached unflinchingly through broken glass to open the door. Before much longer, she was joined by the naked man, as well an elderly man in coveralls. As one, they began to stalk us, circling the officer and I like a school of sharks.

    To her credit, the officer realized that something very strange was happening. "What the--"

    "Hell," I finished for her.

    [Continued]
    Last edited by Ian Pressman; 03-22-2013 at 05:22 PM.
    I can ruin you with two sentences.
    There is a clown watching you sleep.
    He isn't smiling.

  4. #4
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    It was at this point that I realized I had left my traveling kit back at the Grant's booth. I would have slapped my forehead in frustration, but I didn't want to make any sudden movements while I was surrounded by a trio of possessed killers. Unblinking, they continued to pace around us. The old man, the nude one, the bedraggled girl, all perfectly coordinated in their movements. Their obscene confidence was well-deserved. Hadn't I seen one of them nearly tear through steel bars with her bare hands?

    Meanwhile, the patrolwoman continued to bark orders and attempt (futilely) to establish control over the situation. The trio would taunt her by stepping close then dancing away, daring her to fire her gun. I could feel her anger and fear continue to grow. I didn't particularly care if she opened fire on the possessed meat, I just wanted to make certain one of her shots wouldn't hit me.

    "Listen," I said. "Listen. You need to calm down."

    "I am calm."

    "You don't sound calm."

    "I am calm."

    "Fine, you're calm. Listen, any second now they're going to go for us. I need to know right now, if you're okay with what follows."

    "What are you talking about?"

    "Kill or be killed, little girl. Are you cool?"

    "Calling me that is a quick-trip to my shit list, King. You do not want to be on my shit list."

    "If I have to choose between you being scared and you being pissed off, I pick option B."

    "You don't choose anything for me, Asshole."

    "Right on. What's your name, Officer?"

    "Hale."

    "Okay, Hale. Any second now, these things are going to make their move. When they do, I need you to--

    At that moment, the naked man rushed towards Hale. Her weapon fired only once, glancing off his shoulder before he slapped it out of her hand. An instant later, he bore her to the floor. I tried to run to her assistance, but the old man and the girl came for me simultaneously, and it was all I could do to avoid getting caught in their pincer attack.

    As he pinned her down, the naked man allowed a sliver of saliva to dribble from his mouth and streak down her face. His intentions were obvious. Shit, I couldn't let this happen.

    "Pretty," he moaned as he brought his head down to Hale's neck. Oh, no-no-no-

    The sound of a loud crack filled the hair as Hale slammed her forehead into the Naked man's mouth, shattering his teeth with the force of her blow. As he brought on astonished hand to his ruined mouth, her knee slammed upward with precise and perfect aim. I've not ashamed to say I flinched. While he tried to cope with the sudden explosion of that pain, Hale maneuvered her knees around his neck, clasped her arms around his arm, and caught him in a rolling armbar. Now, I'm no martial arts expert by any means, but I'm pretty sure from the pay-per-view fights that I've seen, that the point of an armbar is to make the other guy submit and surrender. Hale wasn't interested in any of that. Instead, she stretched her out her back and extended her hips upward, hyper-extending his arm past the point of no return. He screamed like a child, as his arm snapped like a twig, but she silenced him by bringing her foot down, once across his mouth, and then twice across his throat.

    One death-rattle later, the fight was now two-on-two. Hale calmly stood up and faced the old man and the girl.

    "Who else?" She asked.

    While the other two stared at her, dumbfounded, I seized the opportunity to catch the old man in the jaw, with a sucker-punch. I know that must seem really cheap, especially considering how I'd just watched Hale break that naked bastard in half through pure skill alone, but I just don't like fighting fair when I can help it. It was very gratifying to watch him pirouette through the air and into (then through) the drywall. Too bad for me that while I was busy admiring my handiwork, the girl caught me from behind in a grip like a vise.

    I tried to resist, but she was much stronger than I was. That's the part most people don't get about my condition. Yes, I was about twice as strong as your average citizen, but in the greater scheme of things, that was nothing. I wouldn't earn any real power until I was centuries older; something to look forward to, perhaps, but as things stood right here, right now, I was no Luke fucking Cage. I couldn't juggle a pair of Honda Civics, and I certainly couldn't keep this possessed freak from squeezing my appendix out through my mouth. Just as I started to black out, a light and sound louder than the birth of creation itself stunned my senses, and the girl's grip slackened, then released.

    I felt--something slip down my neck, and when I pressed my fingers against it, I realized that the girl's head had been blown off by Hale's gun. What I now felt sliding down the back of my shirt and into the crack of my boxers, were her brains.

    I turned and saw Hale standing there. After the roar of her gun, the silence that followed was deafening.

    "Thanks," I mumbled.

    "Yeah," she replied. "You want to tell me what the fuck is going on here?"

    Before I could reply, I sensed movement behind me. Acting instinctively, I ducked as the old man leaped for me. He overshot (obviously), and landed clumsily on his feet. Before he could recover, I slammed into him from behind and smashed his head down onto a table, once, twice, thrice. While he was stunned...before I could stop myself, I ripped his throat open with my fingernails and then I drained him.

    Drained him, dry.

    The horizons of my mind expanded outward in a spiral of utter perfection that unlocked for me the infinite mysteries of being. I understood everything. I was everything. It was all so simple. It was all so--

    Bang.

    Startled, I brought a hand through my chest and saw that Hale had put an exit hole through me the size of a head of lettuce. I stared at her in irritation and watched her face with some satisfaction as the fresh blood I'd just taken remade my flesh, and unmade her efforts.

    "What's going on here, is complicated," I told her.

    [continued.]
    Last edited by Ian Pressman; 03-22-2013 at 08:29 PM.
    I can ruin you with two sentences.
    There is a clown watching you sleep.
    He isn't smiling.

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