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THIS WEEK ON MOONSTONE CLIFFHANGER FICTION-
BY MIKE BULLOCK
Character created by Mike Bullock
from Moonstone Books
BY MIKE BULLOCK
Character created by Mike Bullock
from Moonstone Books
Lester Ginn’s vision swam in crimson swirls as his eyes tried unsuccessfully to focus on what he saw.
“W-where am I-?” he groaned, struggling to fight off the dull pain-induced haze that shrouded his mind.
He slowly lifted his head upward. He could barely make out several people standing over him. Light blazed between them as they moved, blinding Lester for a moment before their shadows fell on him again, menacingly; making the pit of his stomach ache as he tried in vain to gulp down the dry patch in his throat.
Who were they? What did they want with him? Where was he? The thoughts assailed his mind one after another as he slowly climbed back to consciousness.
The more he awakened, the more Lester became sure of one fact: something was very wrong.
Lester allowed his head to fall limp again as he tried to raise his right hand to his face. However, no amount of effort would bring his hand up from the arm of the chair. The reality sunk in, Lester was tied down like an animal. But how? How had this happened?
He fought off the mental fog and unpacked his memories. Where had he been before this? There was the school, the store, the sidewalk outside his row house.
But no, that was before.
He pictured the wooden steps leading down into his basement, around the corner to his secret place, where he brought them. No one knew, not even that nosy neighbor, although she had started asking far too many questions… questions that would now remain unanswered forever.
Lester remembered he was in his basement, but what was he doing? Oh yes, he was cleaning up his newest plaything. He’d had his eye on this one for several months. She was such a precious little one, walking to school each morning, singing her sweet little songs over and over as she skipped along to catch up with her friends, past Lester’s store. He felt the fog lift as adrenalin coursed through his veins at the thought of her. Oh what fun he would have with her. Lester remembered he was in his basement, but what was he doing? Oh yes, he was cleaning up his newest plaything. He’d had his eye on this one for several months. She was such a precious little one, walking to school each morning, singing her sweet little songs over and over as she skipped along to catch up with her friends, past Lester’s store. He felt the fog lift as adrenalin coursed through his veins at the thought of her. Oh what fun he would have with her.
But wait- why did she stop?
He remembered her songs had gone silent. She had been singing, but not happy songs, no. They were songs of terror, she cried out for help, begged Lester to let her go. But why would he let her go? Didn’t she know how much he loved her? And why had she stopped singing?
Lester’s jaw tightened as he recalled his anger with her. She was his pet, his plaything; he had never given her permission to stop singing. Who did she think she was, anyway? The little tramp! And what was that damn humming noise?
Lester winced reflexively as he recalled what happened next.
He had spun around, rage cruelly twisting his lips, as he sought to punish her as she and all her little friends had punished him all those years ago. But there it stood, between Lester and his toy.
It towered over him, sharp teeth glimmering, black wings unfolding…
And then there was darkness.
As the memories replayed in his mind, Lester’s vision cleared and he looked at those who stood before him as if in judgment. But, this must be some sort of trick, he thought. These people weren’t here for Lester. They couldn’t be.
They were all dead.
Hanging from the ceiling in the dingy basement, illuminated only by the murky light that shone in through the lone window behind them, Lester saw them all. They danced slowly, moving to and fro almost imperceptibly. Their weight pulled at the ropes around their necks, making the knots groan as they dragged minutely over the rafters. The sound reminded Lester of an old Erol Flynn movie he’d watched as a boy.
Lester looked around, trying to determine where he was. He was certain this wasn’t his basement, his secret place. No, no, this was too light, yes. Lester preferred darkness, wrapped around him like a cloak of protection. He guessed, by the tone of the light seeping in through the window that it was near midday. How long he had been here was a mystery, but it had interrupted him just before dinner. Was that last night or the night before? Lester had no idea. Lester looked around, trying to determine where he was. He was certain this wasn’t his basement, his secret place. No, no, this was too light, yes. Lester preferred darkness, wrapped around him like a cloak of protection. He guessed, by the tone of the light seeping in through the window that it was near midday. How long he had been here was a mystery, but it had interrupted him just before dinner. Was that last night or the night before? Lester had no idea.
The room was very dusty, as evidenced by the thick gray air roiling through the beams of unobstructed light that shone between the bodies. As he looked around further, he noted what appeared to be three large statues, covered up with sheets, perhaps to protect them from the sea of particles floating in the air. Beside them, he saw what appeared to be a pulpit, and beyond that, a large ornate cross sat, propped against the wall.
A thought struck Lester that moment like a bolt of lightning, bringing him upward to full alertness. Where was his toy? Had someone taken her? She was his!
Lester began to snarl in anger and strained at his bonds, gnashing his teeth as a trickle of saliva escaped the corner of his mouth.
“Let me out of here!” he bellowed, as if the dead bodies would do his bidding.
“I say unto you-,” a guttural voice replied from one of the bodies.
Lester went wide eyed as it continued.
“Inasmuch as you have done unto one of the least of these, you have done unto me.”
“Who are you?” Lester snarled voraciously. “Show yourself!”
Silence mocked Lester’s command, as the bodies continued their slow dance while dust floated uncaringly through the room.
“Answer me!” he roared again, as his eyes darted from one body to the next. “I know you can talk!”
Several seconds passed with no reply. Lester’s agitation reached a fever pitch as he began bouncing up and down in the chair spasmodically, trying in vain to break loose from his bonds.
“Once I get free, I’ll kill you, I swear, I’ll kill you! RAAAAAHHHH!!” Lester raged at the bodies, which hung limply, as they paid no heed to his frantic gyrations.
“What was her name?” a rasping voice growled in Lester’s ear. His head jerked to the left, trying to see the speaker. However, nothing was behind him but more bodies. “What was her name?” a rasping voice growled in Lester’s ear. His head jerked to the left, trying to see the speaker. However, nothing was behind him but more bodies.
“Who? Whose name? What the #@*$& are you talking about?”
“The last little girl you murdered, Lester. The child in this picture,” grated the voice as a clawed hand jutted out in front of him, holding a photograph of his last plaything, as she sat upon a see-saw. Lester recoiled unconsciously, more at the site of the crosses adorning the thing’s claws than the sight of the little girl or the words “my favorite” he had scrawled across the picture in her dried blood.
“Where did you get that? It’s mine! Give it back!” Lester spat, as if he could command the speaker to do his bidding by sheer force of will.
“Her name was Arianna, Lester. Her parents still pray for her safe return, but she isn’t coming back to them, is she?”
Lester’s eyes glazed over for a moment as he remembered the last seconds of Arianna’s life, her cries for mercy, her last gurgling gasps of breath…
“IS SHE?!” the voice demanded, snapping Lester from his reverie.
“N-no… no she isn’t,” Lester mumbled, more to himself than his inquisitor.
“What of her?” the voice demanded, shoving another picture in front of him. A girl, about eight years old was jumping rope in this one, her blond curls bouncing innocently in the air. “Where is she?”
A disgusting grin played across Lester’s face as he looked at the photo. He knew where she was and once he was free, he would go enjoy her once more.
The backhand across his face drew blood from his left orbital socket, where the tiny crosses had cut him deeply, like scratches from a tiger.
“Tell me where she is, Lester, or I shall cast you into the pit…”
“W-who are you?” sobbed Lester, as the pain from the side of his face intensified. “Why me? Why can’t you just leave me be?”
“Tell me where she is Lester.”
Lester tossed his head back and stared full into the face of his adversary. The skull shaped visage shook him for but a moment, as the gaping maw seemed to draw him in hypnotically. This was the face he had seen at home, before everything went black.
Stay tuned to www.moonstonebooks.com for upcoming tales of DEATH ANGEL
And tune in next week for the conclusion of 'HUNG JURY' from MOONSTONE CLIFFHANGER FICTION!