In the second book of the "Fringe Killer" series, Detective Davenport finds herself dealing with horror brought to life from the past. A killer is terrorizing the same building that held him prisoner - decades ago.
In the second book of the "Fringe Killer" series, Detective Davenport finds herself dealing with horror brought to life from the past. A killer is terrorizing the same building that held him prisoner - decades ago. The building now serves as a club for the darker denizens of Louisville, creating a breeding ground for the emotions needed to bring evil to life. Weaving elements of horror and the supernatural, Gothica tells the tale of the past and the present colliding in the darkest recesses of a club built upon suffering and sorrow. Jamie Davenport and Skip Abrahm are tossed into a world of gothic delights and horror as a new Fringe Killer emerges.
THE SOUND of the stick smacking against the bars woke up most of the inmates in the D Wing. The wood-on-metal clank resonated through each skull as the stick landed inches from their hairlines. The officer knew full well he could crack open any one of these forgotten imbeciles and not suffer so much as a slap on the wrist. It gave him a power his lowly rank did not.
"Up! Get yer asses up!" His voice was nearly as harsh as the light that now seeped through the encrusted slits in their eyes. It was earlier than usual, which only meant trouble.
"Sod off, ya sack of lard!" Lem growled. The cold mist left his mouth and wafted through the air. "And give us some bloody heat...freezing my stones off."
"I'll get right on that, Queen of England." He smacked his stick to punctuate his sarcasm.
"Mornin', sunshine!" The warden poked at Eek, the smallest of the lot, who sat urgently at the edge of his cot. "How's everyone's pet rat today?" The guard laughed at his own prodding.
"Eek happy," the tiny man said with a blackened smile. His teeth had rotted away long ago due to his penchant for eating his own waste. "Wanna kiss?" Eek puckered his lips and sent an imaginary kiss through the air toward the guard. His howling laugh reverberated off the concrete walls bringing the entire D wing up in arms.
"Quiet down!" The guard's scream tore through the ears of the insane men and brought them to silence. He spit into the cell of Eek, the spittle landing on the frail man's cheek, and moved on.
The only sound was the heel of the guard's boots meeting the cement floor. Even the stick had stopped tattooing the cell bars.
The guard stopped in front of the only remaining sleeper in the D wing – Freeny. No one knew if Freeny was his first or his last name, and no one cared to ask. Freeny had been living among the 'dead' for the last five years. He was the unquestioned Overlord of The Deep, and no one threatened his rule. He was feared by everyone, armed or not, and with good reason. Freeny was evil. Of all the murderers, thieves, and rapists, Freeny was the one that stood alone, causing the guards to pause and take the safety off their pistols.
Freeny wasn't a huge man. He stood 5' 10", which was a fraction below average height in The Deep. His head was clean shaven, revealing a thicket of scars he'd won inside the walls of his current home. His hands were thick, and his arms scant above average. What really made Freeny frightening were his eyes. His right eye was brown―the kind of brown that should smell like smoldering feces. The left eye, however, was white. He claimed that he had traded the devil the color in his eye for the taste of a beautiful woman. Taller tales would conclude that the Devil took the color from his eye because his soul was too black for hell.
No one knew what crime brought Freeny to The Deep, but everyone knew why he remained. Although perfectly silent, Freeny would randomly shift between personalities. One minute, he would seem a diminutive gentleman, the next he would, without provocation, scramble to rip out someone's heart. One never knew which Freeny was going to appear. When the man entered a room, there was always a period of discovery―which madman are we dealing with today?
"Up and at 'em, sweetheart. Time for confession." The guard's monotone voice sent the eager inmates scrambling back to the darkened corners of their cells. Everyone in The Deep knew 'confession' all too well. Confession was where they spilled their guts―one way or another. The 'doctors' would have their way with them until every ounce of sin, crime, truth, and lie was wrung from their souls. And 'confession' could come in any form. For the weak, confession was simply a small room, a single light, a guard, and a tape recorder. For others, confession came in the form of experimental psycho-therapeutic procedures. Those 'patients' lucky enough to be weak would return to their cells unharmed. The less fortunate would return to their cells having been lobotomized or put in casts, hideous restraints, torturous devices, or worse. Freeny, however, always seemed to return more vicious than before he went. No one could figure out why he hadn't been broken. And no one really wanted to know, because in the knowing would surely come damnation. Or worse.
There was no movement from Freeny.
"Wake up, Freeny!" The guard's voice growled impatiently at having to repeat the command.
The inmates shivered. No guard had called Freeny by name in months. The last to do so had wound up being flushed down the crapper, piece by bloody piece.
Slowly but surely, a slithering movement began to rustle the wool blanket on Freeny's bunk. A strange hissing sound began to leak through the air. Those close enough, and smart enough to be frightened out of their wits, awaited a serpent to rise from the cot.
As the wool blanket was slowly peeled off the head of Freeny, it was apparent he was still just the man. No devil or demon had replaced him in the night. Or maybe one should say no other devil or demon had replaced him in the night.
Freeny slowly sat up in his cot. He tilted his head to the left and then to the right, as if he were a wolf listening to the distant cry of some wounded prey. He straightened his head, content in knowing the prey would wait, and stood with frightening purpose. He didn't bother to turn around and face the guard. He just planted his feet next to his cot and placed his hands to his sides. He didn't speak. He just stood there, mocking every bit of the guard's authority.
The silence solidified into tension. Both men slowly inhaled, and then exhaled. It was a power-play common inside the walls of The Deep. The guards never let the inmates see the fear that resonated constantly within the minds of anyone venturing within the walls of the D Wing.
But Freeny was a master of fear and resilience. He could stand there forever as long as he felt the fear boiling in the guard's blood.
The guard, on the other hand, had a duty. That duty precluded playing games with his ward. "Okay, Freeny―treatment time."