Tick . . . Tick . . . Tick . . .

The evening had been quiet and that wasn’t an unusual occurrence in the small town of Bast. When I was first transferred from the police department in the cities to the smaller town I had my hesitations; I didn’t want to be that kind of officer of the law that would uphold justice by tossing the town drunk in confinement every night. I wasn’t a fan of the Andy Griffith show to begin with and reenacting it for my career was not in my best interests. Lo and behold the job didn’t turn out that bad. It was boring, sure, but the town drunk only went on a rampage about once a month.

What won me over the most was how clean the air is in this town. There are a few factories around but they are so far off from the city limits that their pollution doesn’t matter. There is never an odd smell carried over like there was in the city. It felt as though my nostrils were put through a desperately needed intervention. This is the kind of place that a person could settle down and make a decent life for not only himself but a family as well. Most of the land is flat, prairie and farmland status, and the town itself has about five thousand people living in it and a good chunk of the population lives a rural life. At any given time there are only four officers on duty if that. It stays quiet.

The first call came in at around ten at night and I was the second cop around the area where the call came from. Dispatch informed us that it was a four-one-five coming from 615 Timber Avenue Even though I wasn’t the closet officer in that area I knew that 615 Timber Avenue calling in for a disturbance didn’t sit right.

615 Timber Avenue belonged to Gregory Heimsworth and he was the only one in the town who had enough money to afford a security system. In fact he owned a pretty large home in the middle of no where.

We knew who the home was registered to but no one on the force, or really anyone around town, knew who Gregory Heimsworth was. All they knew was he had money and he was a paranoid fellow. Which made sense considering his home security system was not needed in the least, as the disturbance call was made from his cell phone. Dispatch explained the situation to myself and Officer Flemming, an older cop on the force but all around a good guy, which involved a garbled phone call and the sound of objects breaking in the background. Flemming was about ten minutes from the scene and I was fifteen minutes out. I flipped on the sirens, turned on my lights, and felt some sort of semblance of shock that there was an emergency.

When I pulled up in front of the house Flemming was parked and out of his vehicle. He was a heavier set man with rough skin and eyes. His trademark mustache, salt and peppered like his short hair, had recently been trimmed.

“What’s the deal? I didn’t think we actually had anything like this happen here; that’s why they send the near retirement folk like yourself out here.” I said as I got out of my own vehicle after killing the siren.

Flemming huffed and crossed his arms, “I got ten years before retirement asshole. Regardless I am glad you were in the area because this place is too big for one person to go in alone. That and I don’t hear the security alarm system going off in any way,” he began and pointed to the large house, “That and there isn’t a light on in the place.”

I looked up at the two story home and couldn’t deny that the imposing home looked that much more intimidating without any lights on. “I was going to call you a chicken shit, Flemming, but I have to admit you made the right call not going in. I haven’t heard anything back from dispatch either.”

“About that . . .” he paused, took his cap off, and scratched a balding head, “. . .The radio is dead in this area. At least to dispatch. That’s another reason I held off going in there by myself. I didn’t have a clue whether or not I could get back-up.”

I reached up and clicked my own radio, “Test. Test two-three-four.” I was greeted with the sound of my own voice coming from his radio during my test. I let go of the transmit button and reached for my gun, “Well our radios work and that’s what matters right now. Let’s get in there and figure out what is going on.” I suggested as my hand unclasped the harness to my holster. “It sounded like something was going on during the call.”

Flemming nodded and the two of us ventured up the cement walkway towards the large home. From the front we could see that there were at least five windows we could look in to the first floor rooms and three on top. The second story of the house was more narrow and held only two windows at the top of the triangle shaped roof. The front door wasn’t kicked in and I reached to the knob to see if it was unlocked. My hand turned and the door creaked open.

“Great. We both know Heimsworth is a hermit. He wouldn’t open his door to anyone.” I said as my other hand went for the Mag-lite on my belt. Flemming drew his weapon and flashlight as well since we were greeted with a darkened hallway. It was quiet inside of the home and our lights bounced off some gaudy pin-striped wallpaper. The floor shined with freshly waxed tile and the sound of a grandfather clock’s pendulum swinging back and forth was the only noise offered while we crept through the first floor.

The first room was to my left and I peeked my head around the corner and then pivoted my body, scanning my flashlight quickly across every part of the room, “Clear,” I whispered and stayed by Flemming’s side.

We checked every room on the first floor in pairs and found nothing. No signs of Heimsworth and no signs of forced entry or a struggle. The two of us made our way to the staircase that led either up to the second floor or down into the basement of the home. We both looked at each other and back to the staircases.

“Alright should we stick together or rock, paper, scissors this?” Flemming asked.

I shook my head, “We should stick together. There isn’t any sign of Heimsworth and we don’t know what he was calling for. Hell the crazy old fuck could have finally went off his rocker entirely.” I muttered while we stood at the two paths. “Regardless we should check the basement first. If there was someone in the house I would imagine he would hide down there rather than go upstairs.” I suggested.

Flemming nodded and flicked his flashlight up and down a bit, “I’ll cover you.”

I rolled my eyes and opened the door that led down to the basement.

A blast of cold air shot out through the door after I had opened it up. It hit against my exposed arms and formed goosebumps across my skin, “Holy shit!” I shouted and shivered, “The fuck is down there that would cause that?” I knew Flemming had felt it too. The breeze kept up for a few moments before it died down, or I got used to it, I didn’t know. When we were comfortable I lead the two of us down into the darkness of the basement. I reached for the nearest light switch my flashlight had caught and gave it a few flicks.

“Should I be surprised right now?” I asked when no lights came on at all. The creaking sounds of the staircase echoed through the basement as we made our way down to solid ground. When we got to the bottom we knew something wasn’t right.

Flemming sneered as the palpable humidity in the basement made our skin crawl, “This isn’t right. It’s gotta be eighty degrees down here. That isn’t possible,” he said with sweat starting to run down the sides of his head. He had to wipe his forehead with the sleeve of his uniform and we had only been down there only a few minutes.

“Maybe his water heater blew and he didn’t know who else to call?” I suggested but even then there was no fog or smoke to suggest that there was overheated water down in the basement. The cobblestone foundation around us looked sticky and grimy. With every step the air got thicker, choking the both of us with no signs of fire or any distress to the building.

Flemming stopped and placed his hand on the wall, “Fuck this. There has to be a gas leak or something down here. That’s not our problem anymore,” he said, coughing hard into the crook of his arm.

That’s when we first heard it. It was a ticking noise much like the clock that was upstairs but this was coming from the walls itself. Despite the thick air in the basement we heard it clearly and from all around us. It came in waves of three. Three ticks, silence, and then three more ticks. The both of us scanned our flashlights towards where we thought the sound was coming from but found nothing. The walls, however, appeared even stickier and slicker while we were down there.

The ticking came faster as the moments passed. The silent breaks between the three ticks drew short until there was nothing around us but the sound of something ticking. The hair on the back of my neck stood on end and my attention shifted to Flemming when his hand went to the back of his neck.

He rubbed the back of his neck and brought his fingers to the flashlight. I caught a glimmer of what was on his fingers and it looked white and bubbly. “What the hell?” He asked and both of us took our flashlights to ceiling.

As soon as our flashlights hit the ceiling we both screamed. Above us was a ceiling of moving flesh, limbs, and faces. The ticking sound had come from the sewn up mouths of whatever it was above us. Drool had hit the back of Flemming’s neck. Bodies were fused together above us, melted to one another and kept alive in ways my mind couldn’t comprehend. I stumbled backwards and onto the hardened basement ground and my flashlight bounced from the ceiling back towards the staircase we had come down from.

The light captured a mass of limbs and teeth gnashing up and down. The eviscerated remains of Gregory Heimsworth bounced up and down in the maw of the twisted creation. It was the size of a recliner and the many teeth that made up a large portion of its mass were as long as my hand. It was an enigma of human body parts and faces like the ceiling above us, but only this one used its mangled arms and legs to shuffle down the stairs onto the floor of the basement.

“F-F-Flemming . . .” I choked out in barely a whimper. My mind was staring at something it could not logically figure out. Even with my arm extended and shaking my muscles couldn’t perform the necessary actions to pull the trigger of my weapon.

It took my senior officer a few moments to draw his attention to where I had my gun pointed. His instinct was much keener than mine and he wasted no time drawing his weapon at the thing at the foot of the stairs.

A moment later his upper body was gone.

Blood splattered the walls and most of my body when the creature launched itself from the place it was sitting and turned itself sideways in the air. It’s giant mouth wrapped around Flemming’s torso all the way up to his head and with one powerful snap of its jaws bisected the older cop in two. It flew past me in its lunge and took its meal with it; leaving Flemming’s lower body to seizure and spasm before falling to the ground.

I was frozen in my tracks for only a moment but it felt like an eternity. Arms stretched from above, pawing at my hat and my shoulders. The clammy feel of a finger brushing against my ear broke me out of my spell and I screamed. I kept a firm hand on my gun but knocked the arms away from my body the best I could while I scrambled on shaky legs towards the stairway. The ticking wouldn’t stop and the sound of flesh and bone tearing and crushing was added to the unholy symphony around me.

My lungs burned. I hadn’t heard myself screaming but my throat burned in a way that only a forced sound could make. My hand reached the railing of the stairs and I turned my body just enough to see the beast finishing Flemming’s off and turn its attention towards me. I blindly fired several rounds towards it as I did my best to run up the stairs. The door above was shut.

I slammed my shoulder into it and turned the knob several times with shaky hands. I growled when it wouldn’t open and slammed my shoulder into it a few more times. I used my bad aiming hand to point my gun back at the creature that turned into the staircase and fired three more shots at it. The bullets appeared to knock it back a few times for each shot and it gave me enough time to power through the door. I scrambled through the door frame and my heart sank.

The walls, floor, and ceiling were nothing but the same mass of flesh that was down below. Ticking mouths shouted at me in gibberish while grasping hands tried to get a firm hold on me. I ran as hard and as fast as I could for the exit to the home while avoiding those grabbing hand. My legs were on fire and I knew I had lost most of my equipment thanks to those hands. My gun had been knocked away as well as my flashlight and the clinking of my keys in my pocket were the only thing keeping me going.

Two hands wrapped around my ankle as I neared the door. The vice like grip made me scream as I felt my ankle crack. I grit my teeth and launched myself off the ground with my other foot, yanking my other leg up as well. My body went crashing through Heimsworth’s front door and onto the hard pavement itself. What I wasn’t prepared for was what was on the other side.

I had hit my head on the ground hard when I exploded out of the house. I rolled onto my back and all I could see was bright lights and shadows and the muffled sounds of shouting. There was perhaps gunfire as well, I couldn’t tell. All I could hear beyond the muffled sounds was tick . . . tick . . . tick . . .

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