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A Chilling New Short: Death on the Davenport

Enjoy this Spin Off from the Supernatural Thriller Series, Richter's War

By Daniel P. Douglas

I’ll close the curtains, doll face, and turn out the lights. Those’re air-raid sirens out there, not church bells. Don’t wanna die now, right? That would be way ahead of schedule.

I know, I know. The drills happen all the time, but this time… this time it might be the real thing. Gotta hunch is all, plus it’s late, too late for a drill.

Now I’ll join you. This Davenport is clean and comfy, just like the rest of your apartment. I like your taste. Not stodgy. Exotic is more how I’d describe it. Stately and exotic, as if I’m sitting in Himmler’s very own Black Forest getaway.

Here, I’ll pour. Stiff. I know how to treat a dame. Say, in this candlelight, you really do look like Jean Harlow. Sad, she died so young, but I guess that way she’ll always be remembered for her beauty. She was a knockout, I’ll say.

With your blond hair and, permit me to add, your mesmerizing blue eyes—not to mention some other shapely attributes—you could be an actress. A star. No foolin’, the Hollywood types seem to love you. You go to so many parties and premieres. I should know. I’ve been tailing you for months, not just tonight. Too bad you’re a Nazi spy. Still, sorry for the handcuffs. Oh yeah, and the bruises. You’re a feisty one.

Hmmm, maybe your apartment ain’t so clean after all. No offense, but there’s a scent here, a not-so-pleasant one. Others may not notice it, but I think I’m part bloodhound, so I can tell. My schnozz tells me it’s either pasture cakes or rotting brussels sprouts. Eh, I’m sure it’ll pass.

Ahh, feels good to take a load off, even if the Japanese Imperial Navy may attack us tonight. We’re certainly a target. Hitting the U.S. mainland, if not right here in Los Angeles, isn’t outside the realm of possibility. But you know this already.

Did you hear that?

Thought I heard something.

Not outside. In the other room. Maybe?

I’d ask you to stay put, but that’s just adding insult to injury. And, you’re on the quiet side tonight, so I guess telling you to button up your cake hole is also a waste of time. Besides, bet your broken jaw hurts.

Say, that’s a nice broach you’re wearing. Goes swell with your eyes and that dark green dress you have on. Kind of a blue emerald, I’d guess. Fetching. The ivory emblem is not something I’m familiar with. Looks like animal horns and some flags or banners. Your Nazi keepers must appreciate you, a lot. That’s no chintz.

What in blazes? There it is again.

That sound, the one I heard earlier.

Closer this time. No, I can’t turn on the lights! I do that and the next thing you know we got naval guns aimed at us or bombs falling on our heads. By the way, yours is bleeding pretty bad. Soon as I finish my drink, I’ll get you a rag or something. Hmmm, could be a skull fracture. Might need a belt too, you know, as in a tourniquet. I think that’s what it’s called. My French isn’t too good. For your thigh. I think my knife sliced into one of your arteries. Appears some blood may have trickled onto the rug. Hard to tell by candlelight. Like just now, could’ve sworn I saw some cockroaches scampering past the Davenport’s front leg. Yeah, next to your foot. Don’t worry. They skedaddled.

Mmmm, this hooch ain’t bad. Think I’ll have another.

Thing of it is, if you don’t mind me sayin’, fear comes with this job, doll face. Yeah, I’m a red-blooded, all-American Special Agent, but you think tracking down enemy spies for the F.B.I. is a walk in the park? You got another thing coming, sister, especially when we’re talking about enemy infiltrators. Like you for instance.

Sheesh, before the war, I worked mostly on fraud cases. Never once drew my gun, including the time I helped track down these bank robbers. Point is, I felt in control. We had a handle on things. I could go home at night and feel safe. But now…. Now, the entire world is screwy. Look around. Here we are, hunkered down like a pair of scared rabbits hiding from a hungry lion.

Shhh! There it is again. Like a clack, pop or click, pow. Listen… just listen for a second…. C’mon, you must’ve heard it that time.

Jumpy? I might be a bit on edge but jumpy’s spreading it on kinda thick. Sure, I was chasing away some butterflies earlier, but that’s to be expected for a guy like me. I’m just a man, a human being. I bleed. Point is, making the other guy, or dame in this case, bleed more and sooner is the ticket. War is Hell.

I know, I know. I’m overreacting, at least that’s what my wife tells me. Of course, she doesn’t see what I see or hear what I hear. If she did, we’d be runnin’ for the hills already. It just gets worse. Something in the air. Puts a cold chill on my neck, even in July. See? Topsy turvy.

To be honest, it’s like the Devil himself… stalks us day and night. He’s run out of patience and wants all the souls now, so he’s cooked up this war and we’re all just trying to stay alive until that day comes, that day when he’s satisfied by the death toll and crawls back into that pit he came from. The more we kill, the sooner that day will come, I suppose.

Some flies have come calling. Buggers. Oh, uh, a couple landed on those full, red lips of yours. Not sure how you can just sit there like one of them Roman statues. Stoic and poised. Flies on your face are, frankly, a wee bit disgusting. And there goes one now, up your nose. Oh well, if you’re fine with it, who am I to complain?

Sure, I’ll speak louder, seein’ as how your ear is bleeding too. Must be from where I whacked you with that wine bottle during our little scuffle. Don’t worry, you got your claws into me a few times. Your teeth too. Might need some stitches. Hah, you and me both!

So, one of my pals downtown, he’s a private dick. Young man. Young enough to fight on the front, but he has this medical condition, so he works cases here and there. Not for the F.B.I. like yours truly. War Department, I think. Maybe the Army or Navy. His name’s Richter. Wouldn’t be surprised if you or some of your Nazi friends have crossed paths with good old Geno Richter.

Anywho, Geno cracks wise for a living so I never know when he’s ribbing me or dealing straight. Like at lunch today, we chowed down at this diner near his apartment. He warns me, tells me not to be fooled by you.

“She may look like a knockout,” he says. “These Nazi types might be pretty but their hearts are cold, dark, and full of evil. Trust me, they’re demons.”

Geno shovels up his pork cutlets and noodles, gets all quiet, and says, “Steer clear of that dame, Eddie. I’m serious, or it’ll be the last mistake you ever make.” He pays the bill, picks up his fedora, and leaves. Just like that.

Now, here we are. You haven’t even touched your drink. Suppose that’s because you’re all busted up. I’m on my second and feeling swell. Maybe even get some shut eye while this air raid drill plays out.

Looks like you’ve dozed off. Nope, my mistake. Your eyes are open again. Glazed and red, but open, wide open. Uh, can you lean forward? Something’s behind you. Do you have a cat?

How does a pillow have eyes? Glowing red eyes? Wait, it’s not behind you. Oh, how awful. It’s making that sound.

Click, snap, pop….

Dear God. A slimy black slug, big as my neighbor’s schnauzer, is coming out of you. Oozing, throbbing. Snarling?

Now that’s a sight. Like it’s shedding you. You’re slumped over now. Deflating, like a leaky balloon. Gotta be at least a gallon of blood and—is that green slime?—pouring out of you onto everything. Yeah, your floor’s a mess and it’s drawing a crowd of cockroaches. Piles of them. More flies too. Seem to be swarming around your head and face. And there’s that nasty smell again. Rotting eggs, brussels sprouts, and pasture cakes.

Uh-oh. I’ve spilled my drink on the Davenport. Hmmm, that’s odd. I can’t seem to move my legs. Or my arms. In fact, my whole body—that’s weird—feels like I’m stuck to this Davenport with glue. Can’t move at all. Noggin’ is sore too. Ah! You spiked the whiskey earlier, I bet. That’s gotta be it.

Your slimy, black schnauzer slug just gurgled and hissed. It’s edging toward me. Doesn’t have a nose, but seems to be sniffing the air. I think I know why. That emerald and ivory broach of yours. It’s smoldering, smoking, and glowing. Orange and red embers spit flames and heat. Wow, getting brighter and hotter. My face feels so warm, like when I have a fever.

Your black slug is eating into my side. Please stop it. Whoever you are, please stop it.

Strange, darkness fills the room.

Oh, that’s why. It’s my vision. Everything is fading. Dying. Including my breath. Just voices in my head. Can’t get the words out.

Or the screams.

“You were right about the Devil,” I hear you say. “He wants death. Your death.”

You sound tinny, scratchy. Like a warped old record. Then you step out from behind the smoke and those red and orange flames. Your curvy body is blue, shimmering like an emerald broach, and your pearly horns seem chiseled from the finest ivory.

“But also, pain,” you cackle. “He wants your pain, so you’ve become dinner for this slimy, snarling mass. It begins by slowly devouring your torso and bloody, steaming innards.”

As I’m sacrificed piece by piece, all turns black, except when I scream in silence, then I see pale flashes of white light. I also hear faint snorts and laughter. Seems my death on the Davenport satisfies and amuses an impatient Devil.

Outside, the air raid sirens sound all clear. For now.

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