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Chapter 3 – Nina

The following was found in a Manila envelope that had been wedged in our back door. I didn’t ask for a contribution or a collaboration from anyone and Nina was the last person I expected to voluntarily throw her two cents in.

The following doesn’t exactly paint me in a the best light. However, If I’m being completely honest, it does clear up a lot of things that would otherwise not make a whole lot of sense otherwise.

So, yeah…go! Read!

Chapter 3 – Nina

At first it was just an empty pharmacy at 3am. Then there was static. Then there was Dave. “Fucking Dave…” Nina thought to herself as she wound the video back to the start and played it again.

Nothing.

Static.

Dave.

“Did he come through the ceiling?” she thought to herself. “There’s no possible way he’s smart enough to figure out something that…physically demanding”

She fast-forwarded through what without audio looked like a child of 3’s best attempt at impersonating the cartoon Tasmanian devil to the moment that Dave started having what appeared to be a seizure. She saw herself run back into camera frame and try to check on him and then just like when Dave had appeared, static. Then it was just her standing there looking bewildered. Dave was nowhere to be seen. After years with Dave she knew this must’ve been some kind of trick. Some new elaborate way to torment her.

He hadn’t taken the break up well and had always been the most spiteful and vindictive when they fought. She wondered if her leaving him could actually push him to do something this over the top just to get back at her.

The people from her department didn’t think much of her quasi-supernatural recounting of the incident in her report, especially after the reports given by the other officers on the scene mentioned that she had apparently known the suspect personally. Her higher ups all agreed that the most logical explanation was that Nina had let Dave go and because of this, she had been placed under review pending action.

She’d offered to go and arrest him, again. After all they did have him on camera burglarizing the pharmacy, but she was given instructions not to make any contact with him. Apparently the damage had been done and their focus was on punishing her, not punishing him.

Nina wound the tape back again as the shadow of her commanding officer loomed over the desk. She pressed pause.

“Got a suspect in interrogation 2 needs shaken down about the gang he’s affiliated with. Real nasty motherfucker, face covered in tattoos an’ scars. You want first crack at him” Her commander asked as a leering grin slowly exposed his mangled teeth.

“Absolutely sir!” Nina closed the laptop with a smile and gathered her things. This was her favourite part. If there’s one thing she was good at, it was rattling people’s cages and making them accidentally tell the truth. Years spent working her way through Dave’s labyrinth of lies and half-truths had sharpened this skill greatly.

As they began to walk out of the small office her commanding officer turned around, putting his arm across the doorway blocking Nina’s exit.

“You know, he’s handcuffed, shackles actually. The kind that lock into the table” he informed her.

“Good to know sir. Thanks for the info” she replied wondering why he’d bothered to share this with her. It was pretty standard procedure.

“Yeah, yeah, doors gonna be double locked. You got that reinforced shatter resistant glass.” He continued listing the security features.

“Sir, I’m not sure I follow.” Nina asked, but she knew what was coming next.

“Well, I just want you to be sure you can handle it before I send you in there” his grin was getting bigger now. “I mean, that guy’s going nowhere unless he can teleport himself out of the damn station now is he?” Her commanding officer burst out laughing and along with him 3 other officers who had been hiding behind a cubicle wall the whole time.

“Assholes!” she thought. “Fuck them, fuck all of them. And fuck Dave. This was all his fault”.

“HAHAHA! Don’t worry about it Ramirez, we’re gonna let a cop worth a shit take care of this. I just came down to tell you that a little bird told me about your review, and word has it this time tomorrow, you’re gonna be suspended without pay.” He glared at her with his smug eyes showing off his graveyard smile “why don’t you take off early tonight and let us handle the police work ”

Nina felt that tingling feeling in the bridge of her nose and swore to herself that she would under no circumstances cry. She simply said yes sir and made her way to the locker rooms.

As she changed out of her uniform she decided that she wasn’t going to let Dave get away with this. She’d given too much of her life already to him and his peter pan complex and wasn’t going to let him spoil any part of her future now that she’d gotten away from him. The problem was, she had no idea how to even begin to broach the subject. “Hi Dave, please explain to me how you blinked out of existence after I caught you ransacking a pharmacy, then turn yourself in so I’m no longer the laughing stock of my job”, it sounded crazy. He could just deny it and she’d be left looking like the insane person. No, she needed to plan; she needed to go somewhere she could think.

Nina didn’t want to go home. Home was just an inflatable mattress and boxes of things she’d gotten out of Dave’s house. It was the loneliest place she could think of. What she needed was a familiar place she could sit quietly and think, the Hunters Edge Tavern seemed like the perfect place at a time like this.

It was the bar her and Dave used to hang out, now it was a place that she went to get away from him. He’d been banned from the place after he assaulted a local homeless man who made wacky balloon sculptures for tips to buy drinks with. One day Dave developed an irrational hatred for the guy. There was nothing to it, Dave just suddenly decided he hated ballon art and the artist became his mortal enemy. One night, in the midst of a Tequila fueled rampage, Dave had reached his irrational breaking point and attacked him. She was thankful he had, though she did feel bad for Balloon Guy, she was happy to have a place that was a guaranteed Dave free zone.

The Hunters Edge could host, at a squeeze, about 50 people, but there was rarely more than 10 people there even at the busiest of times. At 4am, there were only 2 cars in the lot and she pulled her squad car up to a front spot with no hindrance. She liked doing this, she knew that every degenerate in this bar all sat up straight going through their mental rolodexes trying to pin point the crimes they’d committed that weeks that would warrant a visit from the police at this hour. Nina laughed to herself as she pushed through the front door.

“Well, well, well! Aren’t you a sight for old eyes!” The regular graveyard bartender, Artie, welcomed Nina in with a smile “At this hour I imagine you’ll be having the usual?” he asked, delighted to see Nina as always.

“That would be fantastic Artie, it’s been a real shit of a day” she made the kind of pouty face a little girl makes after she see’s something like it in a Disney movie.

“Coffee and a bowl of Frites! Your corner booth is open darlin’, I’ll bring it right over” The Hunters Edge had the best comfort food. The frites were Nina’s favourite. Even though she was sure they were just frozen French fries from the grocery store she loved the fact that Artie called them frites and served them with his attempts at different flavoured aioli’s.

Artie dropped the coffee off and Nina stared at her reflection in the dark liquid that filled her cup. She tried to give herself a pep talk but instead the tingling in the bridge of her nose came back and she let a few tears seep from her eyes and roll down to the tip of her nose.

Nina thought about her asshole coworkers. She wondered how they could turn on her so easily? Until this point she’d been an exemplary officer. Back in police academy she came top of her class, excellent in the field, and all her paperwork was perfect. Every time. How does one small turn her into the butt of the entire stations jokes? She cringed at the thought of hearing another one of those pricks ask, “wait, did you used to date this one?” again before she cuffed someone.

She didn’t let Dave escape, Dave didn’t even escape on his own; he vanished Right before her eyes. It was like he’d never been there at all. Then she had to try and explain that to the 2 other officers, which is when her whole life started to feel like there was a building falling on top of it. She wished she’d kept her mouth shut, said he’d bolted on her out of a back door. Maybe then this all wouldn’t be so bad.

“Fucking Dave!” she’d found herself thinking that a lot lately. Each time came with a warm wave of anger that grew larger and larger every time she experienced it. This time the wave was huge.

Nina took being a cop seriously and went out of her way not to truly abuse the power of her position outside of spooking the scumbags at the bar and maybe using the siren to skip through the occasional stop light, but damn it, she was the police, she still had her badge and she still had her a gun. She didn’t have to ask Dave nicely to turn himself in. She would tell him to.

Nina took one last sip of her coffee, left a twenty dollar bill on the table, and took off for the for the door just as Artie emerged from the back with a large steaming bowl of Fries.

“Where ya going?” he yelled to Nina “What about your food?”

“Sorry Artie, I gotta run, something came up” she called back to him “I left money on the table, you have them!”

Nina bolted for her car. She was running on adrenaline and rage, slamming the car into reverse and spinning the tires as she put her foot on the gas pedal. A dust cloud kicked up as she threw the car into gear and took off out of the lot narrowly avoiding a collision with another car pulling in.

As she sped down the road she ran hypothetical conversations in her head, what she would say to Dave when he came to the door. Saying phrases out loud over and over with different tone and cadence.

“NO! You’re coming with me now!” she yelled at nobody “NO! YOU are coming with me RIGHT. FUCKING. NOW!” yeah, that was it. If he tried to protest she’d just arrest him for one of the plethora of crimes he was surely going to be blatantly guilty of when she arrived.

“I don’t care Dave” she practiced “I DON’T GIVE A SHIT DAVID!”

Nina pulled up at the light a few blocks from Dave’s house and continued yelling at an imaginary version of her ex until she was distracted by a middle aged white woman wearing what seemed to be pajamas running through the intersection in front of her.

The woman was clearly in distress, but why? The cop in Nina woke up, throwing the car in park and getting out to investigate. She looked to the right, the woman still sprinting for her life and screaming like a mad woman. Then she looked to her left and saw…

“Bryce?” He didn’t reply.

She knew Bryce through Dave. He was one of Dave’s many many “friends” he used to not pay for drugs through. Outside of that and his name she didn’t know much about him. He moved like he was wasted. She’d seen him incredibly intoxicated at bars before, but she’d never seen him this trashed. He barely looked conscious.

Bryce just sort of stood there slightly swaying from side to side. Nina looked back at the woman who despite her efforts wasn’t gaining all that much ground. Then she looked back at Bryce who hadn’t made a sound, but had somehow gotten about 4 car lengths closer to her in the split second she’d looked away. It was now a mere 20 feet away from her and crouching down on the ground.

“Bryce, I need you to tell me what’s happening” Bryce just stood there, not saying a single word. Nina felt uneasy.There was an unusual clicking sound coming from Bryce’s direction. She couldn’t take her eyes off of him.

Now he was closer she could see him more clearly. She could see that he looked all wrong. Like a bar artist rendition.

Blindly she stepped backwards, into a better position to jump back into the driver’s seat.

“Go.” A small voice in the back of Nina head piped up. It was the same voice that had been rehearsing its skills in intimidation by screaming obscenities at a hypothetical Dave a minute ago. Now it was calm, collected. It came from that place deep inside you that knows you’re in trouble before you do. The part of you that pushes your body to act before your brain ever has a chance to process the action.

“Get back in the car and go. Now.” The voice in her head instructed and she edged backwards even further as the little kid, or whatever it was looked as though it was rearing back.

Nina went for it and threw herself back into the car at the exact second it lunged toward her. She slammed the car into gear, spinning the wheel to turn the car in the direction of the fleeing woman, accidentally turning on the red and blue flashing lights in the process.

As the car corrected she heard a loud thud from behind her and the car shifted slightly. In the rear view mirror she could see Bryce tumbling on the asphalt. At this angle, it didn’t look like a Bryce at all. The limbs were too long and the body too thin. It looked entirely alien, all stretched out.

The car screeched to a stop next to the woman in her pajamas where Nina threw the passenger side door open.

“GET IN!” She cried at the woman whose face was wrought with fear.

The woman took one step towards Nina’s police cruiser when the Bryce-thing tackled her out of view.

It hit her so fast and so hard Nina almost thought the woman had vanished the same way Dave had back at the pharmacy.

When Nina sat up she could see very clearly in the flashing lights that this thing had never been Bryce, it had always been a monster.

The parts of it that had looked like Bryce were all melting away down onto the poor woman underneath it. Nina could make out the shape of her through the dark translucent blob and she could hear her trying to scream.

The car stayed running and the red and blue lights flashed on. Nina’s mouth hung open and her heart beat pounded in her ears. She didn’t want to watch but she couldn’t look away from the macabre spectacle unfolding before her.

Suddenly the weight of the blob shifted forward and a something, presumably woman beneath it, exploded out from under as the heap of slime seemed to be consuming whatever was still trapped inside it.

The monster heaved slightly and something bubbled out from atop of it rocketing out of the slime and cascading through the air until finally landing on Nina’s windshield with a sound that was somewhere between a splat and a thud.

It was the woman’s face. No longer attached to a scull, the fleshy depiction slid slowly without definition down to the wipers leaving a slick crimson trail behind it.

“Go.” The voice in Nina’s head calmly demanded. “You can’t help her. Go.”

Nina pulled the wheel and floored it into a u-turn. The creature gave her and the car little acknowledgement, hissing at her as the car spun around, passenger side door still hanging open.

Nina sped up the street using all her might to not look in the review mirror. She wanted more than anything to believe it hadn’t happened at all.

Running on auto pilot Nina took turn after turn with precision and stability. She focused on breathing in and out, now was not the time to start panicking. Panicking wouldn’t help anything.

When the car came to stop Nina calmly took the keys from the ignition and placed them on the passenger seat then peered out through the front windshield. The woman’s face was still there. Fixed in place with coagulating blood and an oily slime left from being inside that creature. Nina started to cry.

Not the crocodile tears from the bar, this was a waterfall of uncontrollable crying. Her shoulders jerked and snot poured out of her nose.

This was the kind of crying fit you see in infants who have no idea how to express themselves and just explode in the attempt.

She pounded the steering wheel.

“Fuck…” she burbled from behind the tears “Fuck…” Nina hit the steering wheel again before screaming “FUUUUCK!” With the conviction of a banshee and then all of a sudden the hysteria ceased. Her tears dried, and the calm composure from the drive over crept over her like a cold breeze from an open window…or door, as the passenger side door had never managed to latch on the drive over to…

“Dave’s place” Nina looked around to be certain if her location “Nina, why did you drive to Dave’s house?” She said to herself shooting a look of disapproval at the reflection in the rear view.

Dave’s place had been the initial destination, but after what had just happened she needed comfort, some kind of security. Dave was the last thing she needed. This must’ve been some deep rooted symptom of Stockholm syndrome, a reflex she didn’t know she possessed.

Nina looked up the path at the house, the door was wide open and all the lights had been left on. She knew this was very uncharacteristic of Dave and his housemate Buck, who were strangely prudent about home security. It was the last place she wanted to be but it was the only place she had to go. Nina willed herself out of the car and up the path to the door.

“Dave?” She shouted as she timidly approached the door, hand slowly reaching for her gun undoing the snap.

“Buck?” There was no answer from either as she rounded the door way.

The living room was small, space mostly occupied by a coffee table that was covered with various pull bottles and a large old sectional couch that she’d begged Dave to replace. The space left defined a path along the grey tile floor into the kitchen, but the tiles weren’t grey anymore. There was something dark smeared everywhere. Thicker in some places than others. Looking back over her shoulder she could see it led all the way from the turn to the kitchen back to the front door. Foot prints in heading out to the front yard.

She knew what it was. She’d seen this before. One of those things you see occasionally working as a police officer and don’t quickly neglect to recognize, blood, the floor was covered in blood.

As Nina approached the kitchen she took a deep breath, she’d seen enough blood today.

“Go on three” she thought to herself

1

2

3

Nina turned the corner to the kitchen and in a split second she knew she’d seen enough. Spinning back around and vomiting over the arm of the couch briefly observing it pool into the a dent left in a cushion from over occupancy.

There was barely anything left of whoever’s corpse was in the kitchen and she wasn’t prepared to go back in to more thoroughly investigate.

Nina ran out the front door, leaving it open, and back to the squad car with the dead woman’s face staring lifelessly back at her, street lights beaming through the place where eyes and teeth used to be. She started to cry again.

“Dave…what the fuck are you involved in?”

To be continued…

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