Monday, April 14, 2014

The Pets of the Missing Beast by S.T. Cartledge (Random Title 28)

Detective Snyder pulled his coat tight across his chest and cursed the bastard farmer who called him out to work so early in the morning. Actually, it was his boss who did the calling, passing on the farmer's message. The message was to be at this address within the hour or else he would be fucking fired. He had never been fucking fired before. He had come close a few times at this job. It sounded painful, and Snyder would rather not risk it. He trudged out into the frosted field, the grey snow crunching beneath his feet and forming a trail of slush puddles from his car. The farmer was waiting for him in the middle of the field, standing beside a fucking big hole.

“Wow,” Snyder said. “That's a fucking big hole.”

The dirt was scattered around the field and the hole disappeared, twisting and tunnelling into the earth. There was only a little snow inside the hole, like it had only been freshly dug.

“There's not a lot of snow down there,” he said. “It looks like a freshly dug hole. What are you doing, digging holes in your field at this hour of the morning?”

“That's the thing, man,” the farmer said. He spat tobacco on the ground. “I weren't the one what dug that hole.”

“Where does it go?” Snyder asked.

The farmer shrugged. “Don't think I know that much.” He blew his nose into a crumpled handkerchief. “What you reckon?”

“Beats me,” Snyder said. “I just thought I was going to have to check out some crop circles, or some shit.”

“Heh,” the farmer said. “Shiiiiit.”

Snyder pulled his torch out. He had one of those big heavy ones security guards carry so they can beat people with them. He jumped into the hole and sunk a few inches where he landed. There was more snow than he thought. Snow and mud, and blood and fur. Shining his torch through the hole, he saw it tunnelling down and around, the blood trailing like the beginnings of an underground river.

“There's blood down here,” Snyder called back up to the farmer.

The farmer responded with a daft “wha?”

“There's blood down here.”

“Wha?” the farmer repeated.

“Never mind,” Snyder replied.

“Oh, blood, yeah. There'll be a lot of that down there.”

Snyder froze in his steps. Not so much from the cold, but more from what the farmer said. There was most likely a monster down here killing things, and the farmer didn't seem fazed. He didn't seem remotely unsettled when Snyder arrived, now that he thought about it.

“See anything?” the farmer called out.

“Nothing yet,” Snyder said.

He followed the tunnel, the blood trail growing thicker the deeper he disappeared.

The splat-splat sound of his footsteps in the thin layer of blood coating the ground echoed through the tunnel. He paused. He could no longer hear the farmer. He could hear the deep-raspy breaths of some asthmatic creature further down.

He progressed slower, thinking of how he would need to soak his shoes in the sink when he got home. He could feel the blood seeping in and around the soles of his feet. In between his toes. The earth and blood had a pungent manure smell to them, or perhaps other smells were wafting from further down the tunnel.

The torch light strained his eyes, and he yawned wide, yearning for the coffee in his kitchen that had gone undrunk. That's when he saw the tie on the ground. And then a jacket. Shirt. Belt. Pants. Underpants. Two more ties and three shirts. Four pants and a belt. Seven shoes. A hat. A severed hand. An arm. Three feet and a full leg. Lying on the ground like a trail of breadcrumbs soaking in blood. A trail of breadcrumbs leading the opposite direction of safety.

Snyder wanted to turn back but he didn't want to return to the farmer empty-handed. He was a terrible liar, so it's not like he could make something up to keep the creep satisfied. If he turned back now he would make up some terrible story and he would tell his boss and his boss would see through his shit and Snyder would be fucking fired.

The wheezing was a lot louder now, and the blood flood was up to his ankles. He turned a corner in the tunnel and shined his light on a hulking great humanoid mole-creature. Black fur and pink eyes, squinting in the dim torchlight. It lifted its finger and made a noise through its clenched mole-teeth, “shhh.”

Snyder saw where the clothes and the limbs came from. Dragging themselves through the tunnel with the mole monster were about a dozen naked and semi-naked detectives with glazed eyes and filthy skin covered in dirt and dried blood. The mole monster gestured for the detective to follow.

Seeing the state these other men were in, Snyder had no option but to follow the beast. It grunted and grabbed his torch and smashed it broken on the wall. In the darkness the beast made sounds which could only be more digging, more tunnelling through the earth.

Snyder followed the beast in the soggy, pitch-black gloom and thought about how, when he failed to report back on the job, on top of being blind, naked, amputated, and crawling through filth, he would finally be fucking fired.


S.T. Cartledge wrote a book called House Hunter. He's also written some other stuff too. There are some short stories and poetry in magazines, some flash fiction and fan fiction online somewhere too. He also has some pretty killer unpublished stuff too. Like that story with the big guy and the dead things. And that other thing with the wicked cool aliens and the weird creatures. He hopes you liked this story and that you will consider being my *ahem* HIS friend.

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