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From The Inside
“What did I tell you? This guy is a complete psycho!”
“Look don’t get too freaked out. I’ve seen this kind of thing before.”
Matthew Faulkner always bragged about things like that. He had been with the NYPD for a solid fifteen years, and he had, supposedly, seen everything. But there always was something new happening around here, thought Phil.
“I don’t know about you,”, said Jimmy Newman, “but I have never seen such a gruesome killer.” Jimmy was a fairly new cop, so every new criminal scared him witless.
Phil Sanders was your average policeman. He had been in the police department for seven years and had never investigated any criminals more dangerous than the average shop-lifter. He had been assigned to investigate this crime along with Jimmy and Matt. They were just looking at pictures of the victims of the killer when the fax machine next to them sent in more pictures, this time of the killer himself.
“Awww s***, man. You aren’t saying we have to go chase after this guy?”, said Jimmy.
Phil was with Jimmy on this one. This guy was freaky-looking. He apparently didn’t care if people saw him, either. The guy was staring directly at the camera taking the picture. Or at least, it looked like he was staring. His face was covered by a shining white metal mask. He was wearing a black suit and tie, with a black bowler hat to match. He had an axe in his left hand and a small pistol in his right hand. But the mask, though. The emotionless features, the dark eyes; it would give him nightmares.
“What kind of gun is that guy carrying?”, asked Jimmy. “I’ve never seen a criminal with that kind of weapon.”
“Forensics says that it’s a derringer, probably a Texas Defender model from Bond Arms.”, said Matt.
“They got all of that information from a bullet?”, replied Jimmy.
“You’d be surprised at what the guys in Forensics can find out.”, said Matt.
“So why does he have a gun and an axe? Can’t decide how to murder someone?”, asked Phil.
“Forensics says that all the victims had taken a bullet between the eyes before getting there stomach hacked to pieces with the axe.”, said Matt. “Told you Forensics could find out a lot.”
Another message came in through the fax. This one was clear and to the point:
Alley on the corner of 7th and 4th.
“No no no no no no. This isn’t right! He isn’t expecting us to head into The Devil’s Den, is he?”, asked Jimmy.
The Devil’s Den was the name given to that alley on the corner of 7th Street and 4th Avenue. People who came out of The Devil’s Den told hellish stories of murderers and rapists lurking in the dark corners, dead bodies lying all over the ground, and supposedly The Devil himself who actually lived within the alley. No man went into The Devil’s Den and came out completely sane.
“Well, you guys can read.”, said Phil. “Let’s get going.”
“Get ready, guys.”, said Jimmy. “It’s time to meet The Devil.”
They pulled up on the curb of 7th and 4th in their cop car with the sirens off, so that nothing within the alley could hear them. The three cops stepped out of the car.
“You boys ready for this?”, said Matt. “Because I know I am.”
Phil was definitely not ready for this, and by the looks of it, neither was Jimmy. He was nervously re-adjusting the straps on his gun belt, constantly checking and re-checking his ammo clips.
Slowly, they each set foot inside The Devil’s Den. They were each equipped with a full set of Kevlar bullet-proof armor, three standard police pistols, and several clips of ammunition. The padded armor made Phil sweat tremendously inside the cop car, but when he stepped into the alley, he didn’t feel sweaty anymore. He actually felt quite cold, as if there were some kind of barrier around the alley that gave it a temperature of its own.
They all walked forward. Broken wooden crates lined the walls of the alley, garbage was piled up in heaps everywhere, and it did indeed smell like there were dead bodies lying around.
Phil took another step and felt a crunch, then a squish beneath his foot. He jumped back in surprise when he saw what he had stepped on.
“What is it Phil?”, asked Matt. “Are you scared or someth-”. Matt looked down on the ground. “Holy s***! You see that, Jimmy?”.
The entire alley was lined with dead bodies. Phil had just stepped through half of a long-deceased man’s skull, and the man’s left eyeball now stuck to the bottom of Phil’s shoe like chewing gum. The other decayed eyeball just stared up at Phil blankly.
“Man, I can’t do this.”, said Jimmy. “I just can’t, game over, man, game over, we’re all gonna die, this is it, th-”
“Shut up, Jimmy, for Christ’s sake!”, shouted Phil. All of Jimmy’s nervousness was rubbing off on Phil.
Phil looked up ahead and noticed something strange.
“Hey guys,”, said Phil. “The alley splits into three paths, just like a-”
“Just like a pitchfork.”, said Jimmy. “The Devil’s here! He’s gonna kill us! He’ll damn us and let us rot in hell!”
“Jimmy, calm down.”, said Matt. The nervousness was getting to him, too. “I’ll take the left path by myself. Phil, you take care of Jimmy and go down the right. If we don’t find anything, we’ll take the center path together.”
Phil said yes and took Jimmy along the right path. He noticed that it had gotten much darker since they left the car.
“You know I heard this story where this guy,”, said Jimmy. “He went in here and he started going insane and started screaming until his lungs literally bur-”
“Jimmy, just shut up! Please!”, said Phil. They kept walking forward, although now Phil jumped whenever he heard the slightest noise. He constantly looked down at his feet to make sure he didn’t step on anyth-
A hand grabbed his shoulder.
Phil leapt away and pulled out his gun. He turned around, his eyes darting around to see who grabbed him. He finally saw Matt, who was laughing hysterically.
“Jesus, Matt. You scared the freakin’ daylights out of me.”, said Phil.
“I was just coming to see if one of you guys had a flashlight. It’s really dark on my path.”, said Matt.
“I’ve got one.”, said Jimmy. “I’ll come with you.”. Matt and Jimmy jogged off towards the other path, leaving Phil by himself.
Phil could swear he heard voices now. Whispers from behind the wall, eyes staring out at him, he even thought he heard someone screaming, too. I’m going mad, aren’t I?, thought Phil. Just control yourself Phil, keep in contr-
A hand grabbed his shoulder.
“Look, Matt.”, said Phil while slowly turning around. “Stop doing th-”
Cold metal pressed against his forehead. He was staring straight at the tip of a small gun, probably a derringer. He looked at the guy holding the gun.
It was him. His white mask gleamed in the moonlight. The dark eyes and mouth showed no expression whatsoever. They stared straight through Phil, straight through his soul.
“It’s time to meet The Devil, Phil.”, said the masked man.
Where have I heard someone tell me that before?, Phil thought. And then it hit him.
“Jimmy? What the hell have you done with Ma-”
Jimmy pulled the trigger.