Ghost stories from hell, p.50

Ghost Stories from Hell, page 50

 

Ghost Stories from Hell
 



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  Military shit always moved. Especially the Nazi stuff, and there were a couple of obviously original Nazi pieces in the bags.

  Then there was the bayonet John had brought him.

  Dave chuckled, shaking his head. The damned thing was still in an evidence bag and had blood dried on the steel.

  John had no shame. Not that Dave did either, but seriously, the balls to lift that piece right out of the Nashua Police station.

  The bayonet would not be going into the stall. That piece Dave would be selling to a private, well to do buyer who liked two things, murder weapons and to remain unknown to the rest of the world when it came to collecting.

  Dave understood both, and he was well paid to find the first and even better paid to make sure the second remained a hard fact.

  With that in mind, Dave took his Natty Ice with him to a heating grate in the floor. Grunting, he sat down and dragged a screwdriver and a box of latex gloves over to him. He set the drink on the floor by the grate and put on a pair of the gloves. Next he used the screwdriver to remove the screws from the grate, and then to pry the grate itself up.

  Dave didn’t need to look down to see the pair of snap traps baited with peanut butter he’d placed in that part of the heating system. But those were eye candy for anybody who was looking for anything in the apartment.

  Keeping his hand above the traps, Dave slid his hand in and carefully took down a disposable cell phone he had velcroed up there. Easing his hand out, Dave sat back with the phone and powered it up. There was only one phone number programmed into it, the number of another disposable cell phone.

  Dave hit speed dial and then speakerphone.

  The phone rang perhaps a dozen times before it was answered.

  “Hello, Dave.”

  “Hey, Elmer.”

  “What do you have?”

  “See the news about the bayonet murder?” Dave asked.

  “Yes.”

  “I have the bayonet.”

  Dave could have sworn he heard Elmer’s breath pick up. “Are you serious, Dave?”

  “Of course I am. You know I don’t mess around.”

  “Of course, of course. I’m just very excited. You usually don’t get your hands on such a piece so...so quickly. Could you bring it by tonight?”

  “I’ve already got a beer in me,” Dave answered. “I could do first thing tomorrow morning.”

  “Six?” Elmer asked.

  Dave stifled a groan, thought of the money and said, “Yeah. Sure. Six is no problem.”

  “Very, very good, Dave,” Elmer said, sounding giddy. “You will not be disappointed in your payment. I promise you that.”

  “I know. You never disappoint,” Dave said. “See you then.”

  Dave hung up the phone, powered it down and returned it to its place. When he was all done putting everything back in order, he finished his beer and grunted as he got back to his feet. The microwave chirped to let him know his meal was done, and he finished his beer before tossing the can in the trash and getting the meal out of the microwave.

  Carrying the black plastic tray the meal was in by its edges, Dave brought it over to the table, dropped it down on last month’s copy of Maxim, and sat down in his only chair.

  “Ah shit,” he grumbled to himself. With a grunt he stood up, went to the already open silverware drawer and fished a relatively clean fork out. He paused long enough to get another Nattie from the fridge and returned to the table. Dave ate quickly, ignoring how hot the food was by washing each bite down with some beer.

  In under eight minutes—he had eating a Hungry Man down to a science—he finished his meal and his second beer. With his dinner done, Dave pushed the tray off to one side and reached over the table to drag one of the duffel bags closer. It was time for a closer look at what he’d paid for.

  Dave took each piece out of the duffel bag carefully, and soon he had a pretty impressive group in front of him. There were items Dave could identify and others he would have to go online and look up to name before he could hunt down pricing information.

  One piece jumped out at him, though. It was a dull khaki canvas case with a frayed shoulder strap. The thing looked ancient, and it had a unit insignia painted on the front, an Indian head profiled in a star. The whole package was cool.

  Dave pulled the case closer to him and made sure not to tear the old canvas as he undid the brass snaps. Lifting the flap, he looked inside and grinned. There was an old gas mask. Probably World War One. And it looked like all of it was there. The mask, the respirator. The whole deal.

  A soft smell of onions, with a hint of garlic, seemed to drift out of the case.

  A dark shape flitted by, barely visible in Dave’s peripheral vision.

  He snapped his head up and looked around.

  Nothing.

  Not a thing.

  Not even a bat, like he’d had last week.

  Dave coughed, his lungs hurting slightly.

  Heartburn, he thought, coughing again. Must be heartburn. Shouldn’t wolf down those damned TV dinners. He coughed again, and his eyes watered. Something cold touched his neck, and he felt the hairs stand on end.

  Dave twisted around in his chair, but again he couldn’t see anything.

  Grumbling, he pushed the chair away from the table, coughed, and then he yawned.

  He was exhausted. He needed to get some sleep, so he could deliver the bayonet to the crazy man in the morning.

  Still coughing, Dave made his way towards his bedroom, a long shadow flickering along the wall behind him where no shadow should have been.

  Chapter 14: Charles and the Colonist

  The sound of a dog barking made Charles pause as he pulled his sweater on.

  The barking wasn’t coming from outside of the house, but rather from the inside.

  Specifically, it sounded as though the barking was coming from the library, which wouldn’t surprise Charles at all.

  He finished putting his sweater on, and then he slipped his feet into his shoes, tying each lace carefully. He tried to ignore the barking, but he couldn’t.

  Not only was the barking continuing, but it was getting louder as well.

  Charles walked out of his bedroom, closed the door and walked by the library door which shuddered as something slammed into it. On the other side, something was snarling and growling through the wood.

  Charles shook his head and walked down the stairs. He was going to eat breakfast before he dealt with anything in the library.

  The barking dog, however, didn’t seem to like Charles ignoring him. It became frenzied, howling with rage as it seemed to attack the door.

  Charles ignored the headache that was starting behind his eyes.

  Instead of worrying about the dog, or about anything in the library, Charles made himself a large pot of coffee. He leaned against the counter, enjoying the smell of the coffee brewing and focusing on the sound of the percolator instead of the rabid dog in the library. After a minute of listening to both percolator and rabid dog, Charles sighed and straightened up. He pulled a loaf of bread out of the breadbox and plugged in the toaster.

  A few minutes later, he was sitting at the table, eating his plain breakfast and wondering how much aspirin he was going to have to take to beat down the headache which had successfully arrived.

  Four. Four should do the trick. But he had to get that dog to shut up first.

  And the thought of that was terrifying to him.

  Charles didn’t know if anything could, or would, harm him in the library, and he wasn’t keen on finding out. He supposed, however, he would have to eventually.

  So why not now?

  Nodding to himself, Charles stood up, finished the last of his coffee and made his way out of the kitchen, through the hallway, and up the stairs to the library. He didn’t pause before opening the door, instead turning the doorknob and striding in purposefully as he clicked on the light.

  Then he came to a staggering halt.

  A great dane stood
in the far right corner of the room, its hackles raised as a low growl rose from its long throat and slipped out between bare teeth. Around its thick neck, a broad and spiked leather collar was buckled.

  Charles had no doubt about whether or not the dog could hurt him, regardless of whether it was a ghost or real.

  Those teeth were real, and that dog was angry.

  Charles stood straight, squared his shoulders and said in a voice far calmer than he felt, “Whose dog is this?”

  The dog snarled. Charles ignored it.

  “Tell me whose dog this is, or I swear to Christ, I will lock this rabid son of a bitch away,” Charles snapped.

  A shape stepped out of the shadows.

  The man was tall. Terribly tall, perhaps six and a half feet. He was, not surprisingly, deathly pale. The man wore the clothes Charles had seen on illustrations of the early pilgrims, America’s first colonists.

  All his grade school memories of Puritans were shattered as he looked at the man. This was no happy Englishman at the first Thanksgiving. This Englishman, this Puritan, was strong and severe, his face hatchet-like beneath his broad-brimmed buckled hat. He wore at his side a long sword, and he carried a flintlock pistol in each hand.

  This Puritan was ready for war.

  “The hound is mine,” the Puritan said, his English accent strong. “Thou shalt not touch him.”

  “I’ll send him to Hell if I choose,” Charles responded. “This is my house. I won’t have you causing trouble while I’m here.”

  “I can certainly remove thee if thou wish it,” the Puritan grinned.

  “Funny guy,” Charles said. “Muzzle the dog and leave me be for a while.”

  The dog vanished, and for the first time Charles saw the old leather dog collar with gleaming spikes resting on a lower shelf.

  “We will speak soon,” the Puritan said, and he vanished as well.

  “Great,” Charles sighed to himself. “I can’t wait.”

  Turning around, he turned off the light and closed the door behind him, ignoring the snickering he heard from the dark shadows.

  Chapter 15: Ellen and Her Thoughts

  Ellen sat in her Volkswagen Bug, waiting for the heater to finish defrosting the windshield. She could have gotten out and scraped the windshield clean in less time, but she was having a hell of a week so far, and minutes of relative sanity were few and far between.

  She had been up half the night trying to figure out if she had experienced what she thought she had at Mr. Sherman’s, well, Charles’s house. She could only come to the conclusion that she had.

  Ellen had seen a ghost.

  She had spoken with a ghost, the ghost of Mr. Sherman.

  And Mike was dead.

  Mike was dead because he had stolen some stupid lighter from Mr. Sherman’s library, which was a little shop of horrors when you sat right down and thought about it. Not only was Mike dead, but Jared was dead too.

  Mike had been killed by a lighter.

  A Zippo lighter, of all things. And Jared had been killed with a bayonet he had kept.

  Mr. Sherman wanted her to help Charles find out where Mike and Jared would have tried to sell the stolen stuff.

  Ellen didn’t want to, though. She didn’t want to do anything. She didn’t want to eat. She didn’t want to sleep. She didn’t want to work. And she didn’t want to bury Mike.

  She had never, ever wanted to bury Mike.

  And with the car’s heater blasting away at the windshield, Ellen put her face in her hands and cried again.

  Chapter 16: Dave, Elmer, and the Bayonet

  Dave felt like his skin was burning as he got out of his car, barely biting back a scream. Something was wrong with him, and as soon as he got his money for the bayonet he was going straight to the Southern New Hampshire Hospital in Nashua.

  But he wanted his money first.

  With his eyes watering and each step an agony, Dave climbed the stairs to Elmer’s huge mansion in Hollis and rang the bell. In his hand, Dave held a large leather briefcase which contained the bayonet, and which in turn would be used to transport his money from Elmer’s house.

  Elmer paid a lot of money. He had said Dave wouldn’t be disappointed.

  Dave was sure he wouldn’t be, but he also wanted to get looked at by a doctor.

  He had woken up feeling terrible. His eyes had hurt, his armpits, his crotch. Everything it seemed. And this was supposed to be a good weekend for the flea market, too. Lots of people coming up into Milford prior to Thanksgiving.

  So even though he’d felt like absolute garbage, Dave had run over to the flea market and set up the militaria. He’d also left a message for Neal asking him to price the stuff and keep an eye on it for him until he could get back from the hospital.

  If he could get back from the hospital.

  Sweating and panting, Dave pressed the doorbell again.

  Christ, where the hell was he? That dumbass better not be asleep.

  Before he could follow up with anything creative, Dave took a nervous step back as the door suddenly swung in.

  Elmer was standing in front of him, grinning.

  The young, wealthy man wore pajamas, slippers and a robe that probably cost more than Dave’s car.

  The grin dropped off of Elmer’s face when he looked at Dave, though. “Dave, you don’t look too hot. You okay?”

  “Little sick,” Dave explained. “Not contagious, though.”

  “I appreciate that tidbit of info,” Elmer said, “but you could have called and told me you were sick.”

  Dave gave a weak smile. “Said I would bring it.”

  “And you did,” Elmer said, nodding to the briefcase. “Come on in. Fiona and the boys are at a swim meet. They won’t be home for a while yet. You want anything to eat or drink?”

  Dave shook his head. The mere thought of food made his stomach churn.

  “You want your money,” Elmer said.

  Dave nodded.

  “And I think you’ll be wanting to get to a hospital.”

  Again Dave nodded.

  “Fair enough. Hell,” Elmer said as he walked over to a mahogany secretary and opened a drawer, “I’ll call you an ambulance if you like. I’ll tell Fiona you’re a stranger who needed help.”

  “No,” Dave said, shaking his head. “It’s not that big of a deal. I can drive myself.”

  “If you say so,” Elmer said. He reached into the drawer and took out a small, letter sized envelope that was fairly thick. As he closed the drawer, Dave brought the briefcase to a hall table, set it down and opened it. Dave took the bayonet out of the briefcase and exchanged it for the envelope.

  Dave didn’t look inside the envelope. He was never, ever discourteous with someone like Elmer. Dave could count it later. In the hospital maybe. That would help him feel better.

  He put the envelope into the briefcase and closed it.

  Elmer stood, utterly fascinated with the bayonet, carefully turning it over in his hands, looking at the steel through the plastic of the evidence bag.

  “I have the perfect place for this,” Elmer said in a soft voice a moment later. Then Elmer looked up and smiled happily at Dave. “Thank you very much, Dave. I can’t tell you how thrilled I am to have gotten this piece.”

  Dave managed a weak smile. “You’re welcome, Elmer. Now, I hate to be rude, but I need to get to a doctor or something.”

  “Of course, of course,” Elmer said, hurrying past Dave to open the large door. “Please, enjoy your money, and feel better.”

  “I will,” Dave said, and he stumbled down the stairs towards his car wondering if perhaps he should have taken Elmer up on the ambulance offer.

  Chapter 17: Ellen at the Hospital

  Ellen was in the emergency room of Southern New Hampshire Hospital, talking with Betty about the upcoming funeral and standing in the ambulance bay when the alarm came over the comm.

  “We have an ambulance inbound from Amherst Street,” the dispatcher said, the woman’s voice ec
hoing off of the concrete walls. “Single vehicle MVA, possible medical emergency, patient is stable. ETA five minutes.”

  Ellen and Betty stepped off to one side, making sure everything was cleared for the EMTs and whoever was going to be receiving the patient. The two women stood silently as the seconds ticked past. The conversation had been lost.

  “All nonessential personnel clear the ER,” a voice said over the speakers suddenly. “All nonessential personnel clear the ER. Inbound patient from single vehicle MVA is a code gray. I say again, inbound patient from single vehicle MVA is a code gray.”

  Betty’s face went pale.

  “What?” Ellen asked. She had never worked for Southern. She had no idea what their codes were. “Betty, what is it?”

  “Code gray,” Betty said, shaking her head. “Code gray is infectious disease.”

  “How infectious?”

  Betty looked at Ellen, some of the color coming back into her face. “Ebola infectious.”

  “Jesus.”

  “Yeah.”

  “I’ll grab a suit,” Ellen said, turning away.

  “Are you sure?” Betty asked, surprised.

  “I’m one of the few that went through the CCD’s infectious diseases course run by Saint Joseph’s Hospital,” Ellen said. “So yeah, I’m sure.”

  “Follow me,” Betty said. “I’ll introduce you to Priscilla. She’s the nurse in charge today. I’m pretty sure she’ll take all the help she can get.”

  Ellen followed Betty as she hurried back into the ER. The ER was organized chaos. Nonessential personnel were disappearing around corners while a trio of nurses and a doctor were being helped into awkward but necessary biohazard suits. An older woman, who looked like she could be anywhere between fifty and seventy, stood in a pair of black scrubs overseeing everything and calling out corrections as necessary.

  “Priscilla,” Betty said.

  The woman in black turned and looked at Betty.

  “Betty,” Priscilla said, “you’re not qualified to be in here. You could literally catch your death.”

 
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