The Upstairs Room

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#picturefiction #flashfiction

 Sergeant Wilson stood hunched against the blowing snow outside the Victorian home. Two dozen other cops huddled in the shadows near doors and windows preparing for the go signal. According to the Fed running the show there was some kind of Satanic cult in the house. They had a kidnapped girl and were probably going to kill her or worse.

The house certainly fit the bill. It was the type of Victorian that housed the vampire or monster in a bad movie. It was tall and thin with several faux towers topped with pointed roofs. Narrow windows peeked from nooks and crannies of the ornate architecture creating glass eyes staring down at anyone foolish enough to approach.

The porch where Sergeant Wilson lurked seemed about to collapse under the weight of his squad. Peeling paint fell on him with every arctic gust of wind and cracked boards groaned as they moved. Why couldn’t these cultists kidnap someone during the spring?

“All units ready,” said a voice in his earpiece. “Go in 3, 2, 1; Go!”

A trooper stepped to the front door and swung a heavy steel ram into the door at the bolt. The wooden jamb splintered and the door flew open.

“Police!”

“Search warrant!”

Every policeman shouted the words again and again as they charged into the house.

Thirteen men and women stood in the center of the candle lit room, they were all stark naked. Twelve stood in a circle around the thirteenth, who held a knife overhead in her right hand. She was covered in what appeared to be blood. Wilson expected a dead child to be in her hands and almost shot her before he spotted the chicken she clutched.

“Freeze! Drop the knife,” he shouted and leveled his service revolver at the woman.

Shock and confusion coated the faces of the thirteen cultists. They made no move to reach for weapons or even run. The freezing wind blasting through the breached front and back doors seemed to have frozen them into statues.

“Drop it I said,” Wilson shouted.

The woman seemed to realize that he was shouting at her and then looked up at the knife as if she was just noticing it for the first time. Her hand spasmed and the knife fell to the floor. She lifted both hands over her head. The gutted chicken was still clutched in her left hand creating a ludicrous image.

Wilson and his men closed on the cultists and began hand cuffing them. There seemed to be little need to search them for concealed weapons.

“Drop the chicken,” Wilson said as he snapped a cuff onto the woman’s right wrist.

The abused bird fell to the floor and the woman’s left hand joined her right in shackles.

“Where’s the girl?” Wilson said.

“What?” The woman appeared genuinely confused.

All the cultists were either crying or asking why they were being arrested. No one was struggling. They were the least criminal looking bunch of perps Wilson had ever busted.

“The little girl, Nadine Sharp; the one you kidnapped.”

“What?” She said again. “We didn’t kidnap anyone.”

“Marlene Conrad,” said a man wearing a jacket with FBI in huge yellow letters.

The blood coated woman nodded.

“I’m Special Agent Perkins. This is your house, correct?”

The woman nodded again.

“We have a search warrant to examine your residence for evidence related to the kidnapping of Nadine Sharp.”

“Sir,” a voice called from the stairs. “I’ve got a locked room up here.”

The FBI man looked toward the stairs and then at Wilson.

“Bring her.”

The trio walked up the groaning staircase. The cult leader occasionally stumbled and Wilson was forced to hold her upright.

At the top a trooper directed them to the end of a hallway where a door stood closed.

There was a pair of thick metal brackets and a large wooden bar across the doorway. The hinges were facing the hallway. This setup was not to keep someone out but to keep someone in.

“Open it,” Perkins ordered.

“You don’t want to open that door,” Marlene said. Her voice shook and rose as she spoke.

“Oh you’d like that wouldn’t you,” Perkins said. “Nadine, we’re coming honey. Trooper, open that door.”

The burly cop grabbed the wooden bar and wiggled it free from its fixture. After setting it aside he drew his side arm and grabbed the handle with his free hand. He looked at Perkins and Wilson to see if they were ready and then yanked the door open.

A blast of arctic air roared from the door. The room was pitch black and snow and leaves blew past the cops and cultist. Wilson could see that the windows were all wide open. A chair sat in the center of the room with a small shape huddled in it.

“Nadine?” Perkins said.

A high pitched giggle reached their ears.

“No,” the cultist said. She began to struggle for the first time.

Wilson clamped her arm in a viselike grip but he barely could hold her.

“We have to get out,” she pleaded and yanked out of his grip.

Wilson grabbed the woman in a bear hug and lifted her from the floor to restrain her. It was like trying to hold onto a greased eel. The blood on her skin made it nearly impossible to hold her still. She squirmed and fought Wilson’s grip. The pair fell to the floor, wrestling. Wilson used his entire body to pin the woman. His hands dug into soft flesh and a blood coated breast was pressed against his face; it was the least sexy moment with a naked woman in his adult life.

“You don’t understand,” she gasped. “We were trying to send it back.”

Perkins pulled a flashlight from his belt and focused it on the giggling shape in the chair.

Perched in the center of the metal lawn chair, surrounded by snow was someone. It was not Nadine. It was the size of a child but appeared emaciated, almost mummified. Its skin was taught across its bones and looked like the skin of a corpse, yet the form moved.

Wilson relaxed his grip on the cultist as the creature turned its head to look at them. Green ooze flowed from the corner of its mouth. The mouth was like nothing human. Huge pointed teeth filled the opening from edge to edge. The creature’s enormous eyes turned to stare at its visitors. It giggled once more.

“Run,” the cultist said in a choked whisper.

The creature leaped from the chair; the screaming began.