Thursday, January 25, 2007

Pulp Daredevil

Detective Natchios recoiled, her usually deep whiskey and cigarettes voice scaling up momentarily until she caught herself and successfully suppressed a shriek of alarm. She tightened her grip on the service revolver and silently cursed herself for showing weakness. She did not know why she had lost her composure at the sight of the score of grisly trophies secured by copper nails to the the wall of the dark stairwell. Perhaps the eerie atmosphere of the fugitive Murdock's secret hideout had frayed her usually iron nerves. She had witnessed more terrible visions over the span of years as a law officer and the thought of being frightened by Murdock's machinations angered her.

"Foggy" Nelson tipped back the brim of his bowler hat and closely examined the horrible gallery. "Faces, stripped from the bone and tanned. Preserved. Their eyelids missing. Now do you believe me, Detective? This Murdock is involved in the practice of a dark and terrible magic."

"I believe he is a mad man. I am beginning to wonder if you are not also." Gun thrust before her, Detective Natchios continued down the stairwell heading towards the source of light at the bottom. The consultant followed, although more slowly.

"Surely, your world view has been re-defined, Madam. What of the Snail-less Shells? The Burlap Monkeys? You have witnessed them yourself this very night. Our narrow escape from the Rude Jostlers in the empty park this morning certainly confirmed beyond any doubt to me the existence of a shadowy world."

Reaching the final step of the stairwell, Detective Natchios turned upon the portly man. "All I have seen are the skeletons of dead beetles and the movement of curtains by a draft. Inconsiderate patrons of a public recreation meadow does not constitute proof of the existence of demons. Murdock is no wizard. He is a misguided fiend who murders and defiles innocent women in the insane belief their eyes can restore blindness caused by exposure to mustard gas in the Great War. Now be silent and remain still, for we are here."

Stepping cautiously the Detective peered around the door frame, observing awell lighted parlor of Victorian fashion. In the center of the room stood the prey to her hunt, leaning on an ivory cane with his back turned towards her. He was bent over a large tome on a heavy stand of dark, ornately carved wood, studying a page intently. Even from her vantage point several meters distant the detective could see the object of careful examination was heavily illuminated with fanciful illustrations like a bible out of antiquity. Offended that such a devilish, diseased creature would dare to read a bible, Detective Natchios she stepped into the room, leveling her revolver. "Matthew Murdock, you are wanted murderer." Detective Natchios exclaimed forcefully. "I am taking you into custody!"

Slowly, Murdock turned. He appeared unconcerned by the presence of the officer of justice and seemed to enjoy the startled reaction as Detective Natchios viewed his horrible, seamed face. Murdock smiled, a ghastly grimace of insane mirth that did not reach his terrible eyes. Blood-shot orbs, too small for the sockets in which they fitfully rested in spun and writhed, gazing about in wildly differing directions as if they were slaves rebelling against their masters. "The Lord in heaven! Your eyes!" Natchios gasped. The scene was made all the more shocking as Natchios realized one eye was jade green and the other, a piercing cerulean blue.

Murdock laughed. "No, Detective. Not my eyes. I borrowed them, however reluctantly, from their former owners. Alas, as ever, the frail jelly are beginning to fail me once again."

Sick with horror and finally understanding that Nelson, the foolish "expert" in the supernatural forced upon her by her superiors was not such a fool after all, Detective Natchios attempted to squeeze the trigger of her pistol . She was determined to end the madman's reign of terror as of tonight. But her hand was unresponsive and she found it very difficult to draw a breath. A strange paralysis seized her limbs as if they were in the grip of some unseen force. From behind her Detective Natchios heard "Foggy" Nelson, enter the room and shut the door behind him.

"Hello, Matthew." Nelson said jovially. "I hope you approve of my choice. She has such lovely eyes."



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