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by Rex Miller
Description: Everyone thought the killing spree was over; were they wrong! Jack Eichord, a less-than-fearless murder detective, must now come against the most deadly serial killer of his lifetime. How can this detective with fear in his soul free the city from the fear that grips each citizen? He must go beyond the law to stop this heinous criminal and all while he has a bull's-eye right on his heart.
eBook Publisher: E-Reads, 1990
eBookwise Release Date: December 2001
9 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [426 KB]
Reading time: 275-386 min.
"Morgan the dragon in flames made of aspic," the junkie said poetically, fumbling around inside the packing crate. At least it sounded like that. It could have been.
"Margo, you're a drag and I'll find me an ice pick..." Or any number of other junk-fuzzied weirdnesses, but to the junkie doing the mumbling only one thing counted, and that was copping. With dope there was hope.
His years of scholarly pursuits into the nature, soul, limitations, and validity of human knowledge had been cooked down to a bubbly blood-thick essence. The epistemology of "dopology." Get it and do it. Do it to it. Do it to me till I scream. Do it to me till I cream. Do it to it till I dream.
Finally he finds his filthy kit and gets his bad self tied and fried. Ohhhhhhhhh, yeah. That's right. The spike bites and he jacks it again and it rushes through him, and how can anything that feels so good be bad? No way, Oh Jay. He jacks it again, fascinated as he watches dopy blood bloody dope, and he nods off into blessed relief from those nagging aches, the agony of defeat, the heart-break of psoriasis, the cold hawk, all gone and forgotten.
Morgan the dragon and Margo the drag queen are all forgotten in the mystical, foggy land of the Wizard of Smack, but reality doth intrude, and he awakens, hallucinating, on the nod inside a packing crate in the shadows of an alley off West Erie. Glad to be in a nice, cozy shelter from the coming storm. But sorry to be hallucinating. So sorry to be hallucinating a human monster thing.
He is no stranger to hallucinogenic experiences. It was only yesterday or last month or sometime he saw a building levitate. High as jet contrails and tight as a bird's asshole he watched the side of a building begin to rise to the sky and he almost shouted in amazement and then the building held fast as the billboard some company had painted on their electric garage door slid out of view and he realized he'd been bamboozled by the oldest gag in the book, the garage-door billboard trick.
But this hallucination is so real it will take some doing to shrug off. This thing, this huge and awful gigantus of humanity, it STINKS. It looks so real you could reach out and touch it--or worse, it could reach out and touch you. It is a man thing. An immense, stinking giant.
The hype would curse his luck for having chosen that particular packing crate in that particular alley, because as the blurry-eyed addict came off the nod, a gigantic thing emerged from the depths of the street in a poisonous swirl of the most fetid, disgusting, noisome, and putrescent stink it had ever been his dubious pleasure to experience. And it was then that he realized this was no hallucination that would evaporate like a dope mirage.
Survival instincts being what they are in the human being, even in his advanced state of chemical euphoria and physiological ruin, the junkie had the good instincts to stay chilly as the apparition moved past his hiding place. He remained inside the upended packing crate, transfixed by fear, and he would later recall that a loud thunderclap exploded just as the thing came up out of the sewers, causing him to momentarily lose control of his bladder.
What he witnessed then was a sight few men had ever seen. The scary, scar-faced, monstrous mountain of a fat man stood quietly there in the alley, sensors ticking, frozen as if he was listening for something. Tick ... Tick ... Tick.... Time seems to stall, the sweep of the second hand sluggish, moving as if through glue.
The hype has never seen anything human look quite like this. Not just the size, but there is an animal awareness to the movements, a strange machinelike precision, almost a daintiness in each studied and careful motion and then--it freezes.
As the thing freezes and becomes inert the junkie also freezes, literally as well as figuratively. Freezing motionless and chilled to the bone in the breath of the dark hawk that has blown this cold Chicago rain down upon his world, freezing in terror at the specter that confronts him. Will it smell him as he has smelled it? His own dripping and dope-ravaged body fights off a shudder of cold fear.
A small quadruped makes a noise nearby and scurries away, but the huge man's killing hand remains clenched involuntarily and he continues to stand motionless. The big man wonders if he has imagined this rain, and inside the crate the hype wonders if he has imagined the huge thing, but he is afraid to move even a junk-addled muscle in spite of having a chill spasm stab through his bones, in spite of his discomfort, in spite of being doped to the gills, and in spite of being half an alley's length away from where the huge man now stands menacingly.
The rain opened up then but the man continued to stand there without moving. Waiting with infinite and frightening patience. Again he imagined he was hallucinating this night rain, just as his presentience had mistakenly caused him to think some human was nearby. He drank in the fuel-choked city air like a drowning man and then, satisfied he was alone, he tore his clothes off and stood there in the shadows, nude, trembling, and soaping his massive, filthy, blood-encrusted bulk in the hard rainwater. A tower of blubber and muscle. Stone-naked, only a few blocks from Chicago's Loop, washing blood and grime off in the night rain. A hype's surrealist nightmare.
The monstrosity's face was tilted up into the rain and he felt his other eye finally open and then he could see the stark patterns of old time transformers visible against the night sky, their lines crisscrossing the alley that resembled something out of a time warp, a bit of architecture unchanged from the 1950s. He stood there carefully washing himself as the traffic rumbled by him only meters away, tires singing through the wet streets, and as he slowly soaped himself again and again, he slowed, stilled, slowed, stilled his vital signs, breathing in the city's pollution--to him a tasty piquancy--soaking in the rain, absorbing the power that was surely to be his alone, listening to the heartbeat of the darkened city.
And he made a sudden, loud barking noise that badly startled the dazed addict. It was the closest sound the beast could make to that of a human laugh.
At last he was able to remove at least the outer layer of filth from his body. He continued to stand nude, waiting there in the blackest part of the shadows. In his killing hand he held a heavy, taped tractor-strength chain nearly a yard long. And his grotesquely stitched face beamed in a dimpled grin, like a caricature of an insane killer cupid.
He had survived. He was alive! And his hunger had returned. And he knew now that he was safe. And his smile was the smile of complete peace of mind, knowing as he did that finally he was invulnerable.
The disgusting hulk watched the cars carefully now, watching the slower ones, waiting for the moment when his inner clock would tell him that the timing was right. And he grinned with pleasure at the thought of the next one he would take. Death. Waiting naked there in the dark, chill Chicago rain.
The hype hunkered down now with his eyes shut, afraid his heart was going to give out on him while he was in the packing crate, afraid he'd cough or sneeze or puke or do some terrible thing that would alert the monster to his presence. Afraid to look. Afraid not to look. Afraid he was starting to get real sick. He prayed he could be very still and he curled into the fetal position, shutting his eyes as tightly as he could, so that all he would witness would be the sounds of movement, slamming of a car door, things like that.
The enormous human almost made a move on a car but he let it pass and then about two minutes later he felt real good about the next one and decided to take it. He waited until the slow-moving car was almost even with the alley and he shot out of the darkness with explosive strength.
When the slow car came almost abreast with the alley, the driver saw a huge and terrible THING suddenly appear in front of him, waving its arms wildly as the motorist tromped down on the brake, not quite in time, the left fender actually giving the huge man a hard clip as he barely threw himself past the vehicle and the driver was screaming something at this apparition that had materialized in front of him. But he saw the worried face of the big man, the face like a crudely stitched wound, and this was obviously someone who needed help so he cautiously lowered his window and in that first shattering moment of awareness he knew he had made a serious mistake, a grave error, but it was too late then and a powerful force was upon him and all over him and the behemoth was in the car with him and doing something to him and then he was dead and on the dirty floorboard in an ignominiously arranged posture, the penultimate humiliation he would suffer.
And with dimpled smile hideously affixed, the murderous beast was alive and well and wedged behind the wheel of a year-old Tempo GL with half a tank of gas, money in a wallet, and a fresh kill at arm's length. And something pinged in his mental computer and he drove back two blocks and came down the alley from the other side, cruising very slowly with the headlights off, but he saw nothing. No surprises waiting for him near his duffle bag.
That lucky, lucky hype who had only minutes earlier cursed his luck had fallen asleep in his crate, and it would be much later that he'd recall seeing something about a fat killer who lived beneath the streets, and he'd know he had lucked onto a fucking score. Lord knows it was his turn for a break. So far, without bad luck, he'd had no luck at all. And now--shit fire and put out the matches--he'd seen a GHOST!
This was no ghost. This was Daniel Edward Flowers Bunkowski, six foot seven, 460 pounds of serial killer. A battered and molested child who had managed to survive, then grown into a two-fisted payback machine "bigger than a fucking truck," institutionalized nearly half his life, pulled off death row and sent overseas so he could kill for Uncle Sam, surviving--always surviving--escaping deactivation by friendly fire, returning to the world to do murder and mutilation, tracked down and shot by a cop, only to survive again. He was Chicago's Lonely Hearts killer, the one who liked to rip his enemy's heart out and eat it. The one they called Chaingang.
Chaingang was alive. He had one shot, as he saw it, sitting in a freshly stolen car. He needed $10-to-$12,000 cash and he needed to get it now. Then he needed to completely vanish into fat air. Lay chilly and bite the bullet. He would have to dramatically alter his appearance in some way.
Having run through all the plastic-surgery and disguise scenarios and not liking any of them, he was left with only a couple of possibilities that held any promise; massive weight loss and then the acquisition of a partner. Either male or female would do, but upon consideration he decided a woman would be preferable. He was facing certain biological needs. He would proceed. He'd get money and then a woman. Then he'd lose weight. When the time was right he would make Jack Eichord pay.
First--money. He ruled out banks because of the surveillance cameras. It was vital that nobody know he'd survived the shooting. He considered grocery stores. Too busy. He stole fresh plates, changed clothes, and began casing successful small merchants with big cash flow and moderate in-store traffic.
Sam's Meats was perfect. He watched the store for an hour and saw thirty-seven customers. Not bad. He knew what meat cost. He drove up the alleyway and parked near the back entrance. He tried the door. It was locked. He knocked with a fist like a huge rock. Movement inside. The door opened.
"Yeah?" A young man's face showed in the doorway.
"Sam want those ribs rena cranus in back here or what?" That's what it sounded like to the employee of the meat market.
"I said do you know if Sam wants me to bring those..." But by then Chaingang was inside and upside the head of one Tommy Crockett, now bleeding on the concrete floor, and the massive, bloodied chain is beside his leg and he looks inside. Nothing. A large, dark, and empty room with office to the left, swinging doors in front that obviously lead to the market. He steps forward cautiously, locking the door his wide girth had just squeezed through, and peers into the market. Two butchers working. A woman buying something. Ring of cash register. Voices. And he pushes the door open where the other butcher can see him but where he's still hidden from the woman and the other man and he says softly, "Hey, bud?" The big dimpled smile in place, showing the uninjured, right side of his face, cleanly shaven, grinning, trustworthy, he says, "Can you come help us a second? Need somebody to hold that door open." A vaguely nodded head. The butcher coming in to see who the hell this guy is and suddenly a world of pain and he is unconscious and Chaingang opens the door and says, "Yo. Give us a hand here a second."
And the owner of Sam's Meats, holding a sharp cleaver at the moment, looks at the stranger and starts heading back into his storeroom. But a meat cleaver isn't enough and he is on his face in some blood that is not his, a chain wrapped around his throat and a great weight on his back.
"Where is the money?"
"Cash register. Hey, shit, you're breakin' my damn back, man."
"THE REAL MONEY, not that chickenfeed."
"I don't know what you--"
"Watch. Here. Over to the right." And the butcher looks to the right and feels the weight shift and a thunk, a wet splat a horrid soggy sound of crunching blade into bone, and there is a hand. It is Tom's hand severed from his arm.
"Yours next," the basso profundo rumbles calmly, "if I don't like the answer. Where is the REAL money." Said without a question mark.
"My office. Lower left-hand drawer. Black metal box."
"How much is in there? Don't lie."
"I dunno. Day's money--ready to go to the bank. Over ten thousand, I know that."
"Where's the key?"
"Key to the drawer's the small gold key on my ring. Right pants pocket." The lights go out.
Very quickly, faster than most human beings have ever seen him move, he hurries into the office. Second key works. Fits. The drawer opens. He takes the black box. Back into the doorway to the market. He sees two women and a child waiting, looking around the store for the butchers. Quickly he slices each of the three throats with his huge cleaver, stepping carefully around the blood, wiping the prints off both doorways and the bloody cleaver, keys in the sack with the black box, all of this in a cardboard box, out the back door again with handkerchief over the handle, pulling it shut and hurling his bulk into the front seat of the stolen Dodge Charger just as the woman opens the door to the back room and sees the bodies and screams. Soon he pulls over to the side and counts the money in the box. He has $15,825 in cash. Another $3,800 in checks, which he shreds and lets blow out the open window as he starts up and wheels the Charger back into the traffic flow: $15,825 for less than ten minutes' work. He never knew there was so much profit in fresh meat.
To you in your safe nest of a world his murderous actions are the bestial acts of a madman. Throats being slit with a knife is an image you won't ever have to deal with. Not up close and for real. Only the catsup splatter of Hollywood gore. The real feel of the cut, the way you slice first, then pull it roughly through, ripping on down quickly to sever the artery of a human, this is something you'll fortunately never see or feel. But to Chaingang it is a movement as natural as slitting an envelope flap with a letter-opener.
And if you insist on teasing, taunting, tormenting your babies, abusing and using and confusing and sexually misusing your children, battering and splattering your youngsters for perverted kicks, you risk creating one of these boys. Or girls. One of these two-legged monsters who will seek organic payback in the form of the torture, degradation, and slaughter of as many of your kind as the fates will allow them. And the ones who become highly proficient at the death arts, they will seek your brothers and sisters and sons and daughters out in their quest to destroy your likeness again and again and a hundred times over.