Author: Lynn McEachern (Meatball)
Rating: PG13, scary stuff
Summary: A neighbour who snoops into someone else's business gets a little more than he bargained for.
A/N: This was inspired by waiting in traffic, looking at handprints on the trunk of the car in front of me. I love writing creepy stuff, if you like it too, then please read and review! Thank you & have a great day!
Everyone's got that neighbour that's just a - well, a little bit weird.
Odd how you can move from neighbourhood to neighbourhood, city to city, coast to coast - doesn't matter where you are and what kind of neighbourhood you live in, right? Every neighbourhood seems to have the same types.
You've got the Weird Neighbour. He or she might be the nicest person in the world, a great person to talk to, but there's just something about them. Know what I mean?
Then there's the Kindly Busybody. Lord knows I've run into enough of those types. Again, very nice people, but they have just got to know everything about everyone, and they take an inordinate amount of delight in sharing their information with everyone else.
Then you've got the ubiquitous Young Couple, With Or Without Children, and the Retired Widow/Widower, the One Who Drinks, the one who Works In The Yard All The Time, the one who Works On The Car All The Time, the Couple Who Fight All The Time...you get the picture.
There's always one like me, too. I'm the One Who (Pick One: Writes, Draws, Paints, Takes Pictures, Sings, Dances, etc...) For A Living. I'm the one who's moved from coast to coast, town to town, neighbourhood to neighbourhood, while working on some artistic endeavour. I'm the one that the other neighbours talk about. "Oh, he's nice enough, I'm sure, but..." In my case, I'm a writer. And not a struggling writer, mind you. My last book, Insidious Crime On The East Coast, spent eighteen weeks on the New York Times Bestseller List. Not too shabby, if I do say so myself. Don't mind if I do.
So, back to my original topic. The Weird Neighbour. I found out about said Weird Neighbour courtesy of Mrs. Kindly Busybody, who was hanging over my backyard fence, ostensibly looking for one of her many cats. She was actually trying to get a glimpse into my humble abode, to see what the One Who Writes was up to. She's done that before, but I don't take offense. She's a kindly soul, and keeps me supplied with apple pies and chocolate chip cookies. Someday I may write a poem to that woman.
Anyway. So I'm bringing Fluffy or Muffy or Puffy or Stuffy over to Mrs. Kindly Busybody, when she chatters on with her usual delightful, amiable, information-packed monologue. Did I know that Mrs. Young Couple was expecting again, and Mr. Always Works On His Car was in the market for a new car, having decided that he was sick and tired of the car he had now, and did I hear any strange noises from Mr. Weird Neighbour last night just after eleven pm...
Now, being a crime writer, the words "strange noises" and "weird neighbour" and "eleven pm" made my ears perk up. You've heard of good instincts? I'm loaded with them. Eighteen weeks on the bestseller's list, right? I've got a nose for news. So, over a cup of strong coffee and a piece of Mrs. Busybody's delicious apple pie, I managed to get all the juicy details from that fine woman.
It seems that just after eleven pm the previous evening, when Mrs. Busybody, while looking for yet another one of her cats, heard from Mr. Weird Neighbour's basement a multitude of odd noises. Almost like yelps, or strangled screams, she thought. Fearing that it might be one of her beloved cats, caught in a window well or some such device, Mrs. Busybody took it upon herself to investigate. But before she could approach Mr. Weird Neighbour's house, she saw the aforementioned leaving the house, with several large garbage bags that happened to be dripping a mysterious dark substance. He then proceeded to open the back door of his beat-up old SUV, and, with some effort, hefted the bags inside. A moment later, he had driven away.
"And that's not all," said the delightful Mrs. Busybody, looking at me with those big blue eyes of hers that never miss a thing. "This is the fourth night that this has happened. The fourth night in a row."
"Indeed," I said, alert and intrigued. "And all after eleven pm?"
"Every single night," she confirmed.
Of course my crime writer's busy mind was beginning to make plans. With deep, heartfelt thanks for the coffee and pie, I made my way back to my own house, and began to pace the floor. I always paced the floor. One of my ex-wives had once said that my pacing drove her nuts. Well, her soap operas drove me nuts, so we were square.
Come ten-forty-five that evening, I was ready to act. I wore dark clothes, had my small digital camera, a small tape recorder, and a notepad and pen. Stealing out through my back door, I furtively crept along the white picket fence bordering my yard and Mrs. Busybody's, until I found myself standing in the shadow beside the house of Mr. Weird Neighbour.
The house was silent; silent, and dark. His SUV - badly in need of a hosing down, so covered in dried mud it was - stood still in the driveway, with no sign of habitation. A single light bulb shone through one grimy, cracked basement window.
For lack of anything better to do, I crept over to the SUV, to look for clues to this mystery. There were a few drops of a dark substance in the driveway, which could just be oil dripping from the engine. No one inside the vehicle, not even in the very back of it, which I could only see into by standing on tiptoe at the back. As I leaned against the door, I noticed that my jacket had wiped away some of the dried mud, and I muttered a soft curse. Sure didn't want Mr. Weird Neighbour to think that someone had come snooping. Then I noticed something that raised chills along my spine.
The bottom of the door - the part that one would use to push the door up - was lined with dark fingerprints. They looked bloody. As did the fingerprints and handprints on the scuffed chrome fender.
My heart racing, I jumped back involuntarily. Suddenly the night seemed a little too quiet, a little too dark - except for the light of that single bulb in Mr. Weird Neighbour's basement.
Like a moth to a buglight, I was drawn towards that window. Even though I knew that I didn't - I just didn't - want to go there, didn't want to look inside, I couldn't have stopped myself if I tried. But my crime writer's instincts weren't just whispering to me right now, nosiree, they were screaming a five-star alarm in this old noggin of mine. They were pretty insistant that there was something to see in that basement, through that grimy basement window, and they were also pretty sure that it was something that I perhaps really didn't want to see. Like a moth to a buglight, though.
Twigs crunched under my feet, loud as damned shotgun, as I knelt down beside that window. I nearly bolted, right then and there. But like a moth to a buglight, I had to go there. Had to look.
At first, everything looked normal. Just the usual assorted lot of junk, piled under tarps. Just like anyone's basement, right? Right.
I breathed out a soft sigh of relief. Right as rain, then. But just as I went to stand up, I noticed some sort of grease or oil, dripping onto the basement floor, from under one of those tarps. Paint or something, I rationalised to myself, even as I was started to back away in horror. Paint, or oil, or...something...
The tarp moved. Jesus R. Christ, the tarp moved!
As it fell aside, I was aware of some sort of high-pitched screaming noise coming from somewhere, during which time my eyes were trying to make sense of what lay underneath. It was...it was a...person...but it didn't look quite right. Something was missing. Actually, a lot was missing. Pieces of its body, for instance. And for a heart-stopping second, its eyes met mine - insane eyes, bulging from bloody, lidless sockets. The screaming noise stopped, and I could make out garbled words, coming from savaged lips that looked like so much hamburger. The words were barely formed - as though there was no tongue or teeth left to speak coherently with.
"What?" I hissed, through the crack in the old window. "What?"
I shook my head and shrugged. "Sorry, I can't..."
With a superhuman effort, the poor, tortured being on the table raised one arm, which, I noted with sick horror, had been stripped down to the bone in some places, and pointed at me. A weak cry of agony, then it tried again. "...beeheye...yooo..."
Beeheye...yooo...I puzzled for a second. Beeheye...yooo...oh dear God...
Behind you. Hot terror turned my guts to jelly.
I felt the cold blade of a knife at my throat...