Glyph tried to move, but couldn’t. His eyes snapped open to see nothing but rock a few inches from his face, and he was wet. Glyph looked up in a panic, but his head wouldn’t move. He rolled his eyes to the left as far as he could, and realized what had happened. It must have rained, and his body had shifted in the small crevice between the rocks, allowing him to slide further into the gap between them. Worse than that, he couldn’t get more than half a lung full of air before his chest was blocked by the boulders on either side of him. He could make some wiggle-room by breathing out, but worried that he could also slip further into the crack, where he’d be completely unable to breathe.
Forcing himself to calm down, Glyph slowly worked his left arm free from the weight of his body and was able to reach up past his head and lift his body up a few inches. He inhaled to wedge himself into the new position, and reached up again for another finger hold while holding his breath. He pulled up another inch, then took a few quick panting breaths while holding his upper body weight with his fingertips. Slowly, an inch at a time, he raised himself up. Finally he was able to turn his head to see a small ledge below him. It was close enough to grasp with his right arm and helped to leverage his hips and legs back out of the tiny space between the rocks. After a few minutes, he was free. Glyph rested for a couple more minutes before he climbed the rock face to the ATV trail above.
When he reached the top, he visually scouted the area then took inventory of what he had on him. “Fuck.” Glyph said out loud as he felt through his pockets. He was sure there had been shells and ammo there, but he came up with nothing. His ‘friends’ from the church must have removed them while he was unconscious. Glyph checked both weapons; he only had two shotgun shells, and five bullets. “Fuck.” This was not good, considering what Drathus had been sending after him lately.
Glyph almost wished he had simply hidden the ATV instead of sending it over the cliff, but he knew it could have led to someone discovering his body. By the look of the trail, several ATV’s had passed by recently, probably after the rain. Glyph could only assume they were looking for him. The four-wheelers were obviously faster on the trail and he didn’t want a repeat of yesterday. Deciding it would be better to leave the pathway, he made sure to cover his tracks in the mud and then set off, descending through the trees.
He made fairly decent time as he marched down the mountain, stopping once to catch his breath. Soon after, he came upon a split rail fence and peered out of the trees into someone’s back yard. He could see the house; it was like a large log cabin, but much more expensive looking. New Jersey mountain real estate was pretty prime, with everyone moving away from the city these days. His watch read twenty-six minutes.
On the hopes that there might be a car to steal, Glyph hopped the fence and skirted it all the way to the back of the house, then ran to the basement door. Trying the handle, he found that it was unlocked so he pushed it open slowly. He thought this might have been a garage, but as he scoped the room, he could tell by the power tools and stacks of different sized lumber, it was obviously a workshop. Glyph did a cursory search of the work bench for anything that might be useful, maybe a weapon or something to help him survive, but came up empty-handed. As his eyes became adjusted to the low light he was able to see there was a set of stairs leading up as the only other exit. Glyph crept cautiously to the bottom of the stairs. This early in the morning, there were bound to be people home, and if he was lucky they’d still be asleep. As he stalked up the stairs every board creaked under his weight, but he had little time to spare to be stealthy.
The door at the top of the steps wasn’t closed all the way, and Glyph peered out of the crack into the kitchen, which attached to another room at the far end. Poking his head out far enough to peek around the basement door, he saw an outside door just a few feet away. He stepped out into the kitchen, making sure no one was around, and slowly closed the door behind him. His eyes immediately spied some car keys hanging on a ring next to the back door, but as Glyph reached out for them, he heard a noise outside, and then the door swung open.
There in the doorway stood a woman in her late twenties, wearing jogging pants and a sweatshirt. She was startled at first, but as she opened her mouth to scream, her eye color swirled for an instant, and suddenly the whites of her eyes turned gloss black.
Glyph watched as her whole demeanor transformed before him. A guttural growl escaped from her lips as she lunged for him. He brought the shotgun up with both hands and knocked her to one side, sidestepping her attack. The woman crashed into the table and sent chairs flying into the counter along the wall. Glyph brought the gun up to shoot when he felt something run into his leg. As he turned around, he saw an old man in a wheelchair swinging a cane at his head. Before he could react, the stick made full contact across the side of Glyph’s face, his head recoiled from the blow, and stars lit up his vision.
Glyph stumbled into the refrigerator, recovered his balance and triggered the shotgun from his hip, blasting the man in the head point blank. Time began to slow down as he watched the horror of the old man’s face peeling apart into chunks and peppering the wall behind him. A wave of blood splatter flew into him as the wheelchair slowly tipped backwards and fell to the floor. The body slid out onto the carpet of the adjacent room and skidded to a stop. Glyph started to turn, just as the woman jumped onto his back. Her weight threw him off balance and, as he started to spin, the shotgun barrel slid in between the refrigerator and the counter. The gun was wrenched from his hands as he threw his weight backwards, staggered across the room and plunged her head into some overhead cabinets. She clawed at his face with her long nails, and as Glyph struggled to pry her arms off of him, a voice rang out.
“Helen! Oh my god!”
A man had rushed past the dead body of the old man only to stop and scream at the sight of his wife attacking a blood-soaked man. Glyph didn’t bother to say ‘Hi’. Reaching down to his waist he found the handle of his knife. Bending forward as quickly as possible, he flipped the woman off his back and over his head into her husband’s legs. They both crashed to the tiled floor in a mass of tangled limbs. The woman scrambled back toward Glyph quickly, even as her husband tried to pull her to him. Glyph slashed her deep across the upper chest with his knife in one swift motion, missing her neck by a few inches. She began to fight wildly against her husband’s grip.
“Helen stop! He’ll kill us!” He yelled at her, as he tried desperately to hold her back.
Glyph leapt back and jerked the pistol from his waistband just as the wife pulled free of her husband’s grip. She plowed into Glyph’s chest before he could raise the gun, and they both flew back onto the table. She tried to jam her fingernails into Glyph’s throat. Glyph swung the butt of the pistol up and slammed it into her temple, causing her to roll back onto the floor. He spun his head around to see the husband reaching for the shotgun that now laid on the floor by the fridge.
“DON’T touch that gun!” Glyph yelled and pointed the pistol at him. The man froze instantly and stared at Glyph like a deer in headlights. Glyph noted his eyes were still normal, and was reluctant to shoot. He moved quickly, snatched a chair from the corner, and with one hand on the backrest pushed it down onto the woman’s chest, legs first, before she could stand. The man was paralyzed with fear. Glyph gave the woman several swift kicks until she stopped struggling. Grabbing the chair, he rocked it forward until the leg brace pressed into her neck right under the chin and began to bear down on it.
“Please, don’t kill my wife!” the man pleaded as he watched helplessly.
“She ain’t your wife no more pal!” Glyph shouted at him “Take a good hard look, and tell me that’s still your wife!”
“Please, oh God, please, no.” The husband started begging.
Glyph leaned in hard, and started to crush her windpipe. “Look at her, Dammit! Look at her eyes!”
Horrendous dry sucking sounds filled the kitchen as she tried to gasp for air. Her arms clawed desperately at the chair legs, not to free herself, but to get at Glyph as he held her down. The man began to sob as he looked over at his wife, then his brow furrowed in confusion and revulsion as he gazed upon her onyx eyes.
“No!” he cried out, not understanding what he was seeing.
“Trust me, she is not your wife anymore!” Glyph said as he shifted his whole weight onto the chair and felt her neck bone crunch as the chair’s leg brace grotesquely pinched her neck in half.
“Oh God!” The man screamed in anguish.
Glyph just stood there watching him cry. The deed was done. He tried in vain once more to explain, but couldn’t find the words. Shaking his head, Glyph began to pace the kitchen floor as the man curled up into a ball and sobbed over his dead wife’s body.
Glyph checked his watch. Forty-nine minutes, his time was running out fast.
“Fuck!” Glyph yelled in frustration. “Fuck, fuck, fuck!” Glancing over at the man again, Glyph knew what he had to do.
“Is there anyone else in the house?” Glyph demanded.
The husband looked up at Glyph. He was clearly afraid and grief-stricken. “No.” He answered between sobs.
“Do you own any guns?”
“No. No guns.” The man said, wiping his eyes with his sleeve.
“Are those the keys to your car?” Glyph questioned the man, pointing at the key rack.
“Y-yes” the man stammered.
“Good.” Glyph walked over to the husband, placed the barrel to his forehead, and blew his brains out across the floor.
“I’m gonna make you pay, Drathus. You’re gonna pay.” Glyph mumbled to himself as he pushed the pistol back into his pants, and reached over the dead man to retrieve the shotgun. As Glyph swung the gun onto his shoulder his eyes locked on the refrigerator.
Shoving the husband’s corpse to one side with his leg, Glyph opened up the fridge and rummaged around. A few moments later he pulled out a cantaloupe, a jar of mayonnaise, a container of half-eaten potato salad, a stick of pepperoni and a can of diet coke. He unscrewed the lid from the mayonnaise jar, then cracked the cantaloupe into four pieces on the edge of the counter. Sticking his hand into the jar, he slathered the cantaloupe with mayonnaise, then quickly chewed the entire melon down to the rind. He ripped the lid off the potato salad container and upended it to his mouth, squeezing the back of the plastic container like a tube of toothpaste until it was nearly crushed. Glyph looked at his greasy hand, and wondered why he was even eating. He wasn’t hungry.
Grabbing a bag of potato chips off the counter, he stepped around the wheelchair and over the dead invalid into the living room and sat down on a recliner. While munching on the pepperoni, he noticed the remote and flipped on the television. The morning news was on, and just as he cracked open his soda, the news anchor started talking about a fugitive on a killing spree.
“Police can’t quite get a handle on where this killer will show up next, and they’re looking to you for answers. Here’s Denise Coach with the story.”
“That’s right Stan, police think it all started here, with the senseless killing of two teenagers who were somehow lured away from their bus stop and then brutally beaten and stabbed for no apparent reason…”
Glyph almost choked on his soda as he watched the reporter walking through the dirt clearing where he had been attacked. This was completely surreal, he thought as he wiped his hand off on the side of the recliner.
“…then just three days later three hunters were found at Sunfish lake, a popular sporting and recreation site in the mountains just outside of Hodgeton. The men, some of whom suffered multiple gunshot wounds, appeared to have been ambushed. Police believe their own guns may have been used to do the killing. Authorities have been placed on high alert, and are working in conjunction with local wildlife managers and park rangers in a massive search for the person or persons responsible. There have been very few leads in this case, until now. Yesterday, police were called after an ambulance crew arrived at the Kurtridge Station Christian Revival Center for a common injured person call. What they found when they arrived was anything but. Seven bodies were discovered in the main sanctuary, all of them had been murdered with items the killer found on site, and the big break? A lone witness. Police have been able to get a generic description of the killer from the witness, who claims the man was an angel sent by God. Police have released this artist’s rendering, and are asking if anyone has any information to please call the …”
Glyph looked at the drawing on the screen and laughed. “That looks like Tom Hanks. I don’t look like Tom Hanks.” Glyph said, arguing with the television.
“…So the witness really believed he was an angel?”
“That’s right Stan, but if you ask this reporter I’d have to say he seems more like a devil.”
“I would have to agree. Thank you Denise, and now on to the weather…”
Glyph turned the television off. “What a bunch of crap!” He said out loud as he took another bite of meat and tossed the rest onto the old man’s chest while stepping over the corpse. He walked over and lifted the keys off the key rack. “That is such bullshit! They don’t know what they’re talking about.” Glyph raved as he opened the door and stepped out into the garage.
There was a Jeep Grand Cherokee and a minivan parked there. As he hit the unlock button for the SUV, a strange hissing noise erupted to his left. Glyph glanced up toward the noise as a cat leapt onto his head from a large shelf, clawing and biting like its life depended on it. Reaching up, Glyph grabbed hold of the cat’s fur and yanked it from his head; one of the cat’s claws stuck in his eyebrow and ripped his flesh open as he launched the crazed cat into the minivan with a roaring scream. There was a loud thud as the cat hit the vehicle and slid to the ground. Glyph grabbed his eye and jumped about in pain, trying not to yell. “What the fuck!” Glyph swore and turned back to the cat, who had rolled over onto its feet and stared at him. He could see the fully black eyes as it sprinted back toward him. In two bounds it ran up his leg and hung off of Glyph’s chest by its claws, biting him repeatedly. Glyph screamed again and wrapped his hands around the cat’s throat and choked it until it died.
He pried the claws from his chest and flung the cat into the back wall with disgust. Then he retrieved the bag of chips, hopped inside the SUV, slid the key into the ignition, and clicked it to accessory. He locked the doors, leaned the seat back until it was almost lying flat, and turned on the radio. He opened the bag of chips and began to eat. Glyph rubbed the side of his face and checked it in the mirror; it was numb, swollen, and bleeding profusely from his eyebrow. Upon closer inspection he realized he was scratched in about a dozen other places as well. ‘Satisfaction’ by The Rolling Stones started to play, and he laughed at the irony. Checking his watch, he reached up and flipped the key to off, tossed the chips onto the passenger seat and closed his eyes. He heard the rush of wind sweep through the garage. Glyph could feel the dark cold vacuum surround him, and then he was gone.