Author's website: http://unhinged.0catch.com
Disclaimer: Not mine, but it seems a waste to just let them sit around unused.
Author's Notes: Many thanks to Raven, who claims I've given her a whole 'new' set of nightmares.
Story Notes: This is a horror story. A quiet little horror story, but a horror story nonetheless. If horror bothers you, feel free to pass it by.
This story is a sequel to: Ray's Glasses
Daemons of the Air
Something is wrong with Ray. Nothing I can put my finger on, and when questioned he simply gives a tired smile and says I'm imagining things. "I'm good, Frase," he says, but I can see the lie of it in his eyes when he doesn't know I'm watching him.
Perhaps it's the case we're working on. Serial killings, or maybe ritual killings; forensics isn't quite sure which and neither are Ray and I. All we know is that they're horrific; the body's mutilated almost beyond recognition. In several cases we've been unable to ascertain the victim's identities, as anything that could serve determine who they are is missing. Nor have we found any trace of the possible killer.
Now I stand at the mouth of the alley, watching Ray squatted next to the latest body. We received the call 10 minutes ago from the owner of the restaurant, who found it lying behind the trash bins when he came to open for the day. Huey and Dewey are inside questioning him, leaving Ray and I to sift through what remains for possible clues.
This is the worst one thus far. Truth to tell, I'm where I am because I find the body, which is missing not only both hands, but also most of its face (and all its teeth) too disturbing to look at. I'm ashamed of myself for this, leaving Ray to do all the work, especially knowing how much dead bodies bother him.
Then I realize something strange. He isn't looking at the body at all. He's staring up into the air just above it, like a sailor watching the sky. I wonder about this for a moment, and then it strikes me what's so strange about it. He has his glasses on.
Since that day in the squad room when I accidentally discovered the truth of what Ray's glasses reveal, we've never mentioned the subject. I find myself unable to talk about it, for which I think Ray is grateful. Sometimes I'm even able to forget the things that surround me for stretches of two or three days.
I walk carefully up behind him. "Ray?" I query, laying a hand on his shoulder.
A barely perceptible shake of his head keeps me from going any further. That and the fact that, under my hand, I can feel the nearly invisible tremors running through his body.
Later that night, as we lie tangled together in his bed, he begins to talk about it.
"They're the same ones, Ben. The same damn ones are there every time we go to look at a body. Just hanging in the air above it. And they don't look right somehow. They don't have any definite shape like the other ones. They twist and turn and change the way they look. And they're bloated; like someone who's had too much to eat and drink." He pulls back to look at me, and in the faint light from the window I clearly see the stark terror in his eyes. "At first I thought maybe they were feeding off the bodies somehow, finding them before we did. That explained the parts that were missing. But now..." he trails off, and I listen to his breathing, loud and ragged in the stillness. "I think they're the ones doing the killing, Fraser. That's why we can't ever find any evidence as to who the perp is. They don't leave anything behind. How can they?"
Since Ray's breakdown we've lived here, in my father's cabin. Situated just below the tree line, the weather remains cold year round. Ray believes the cold may keep them at bay. He can't be 100% sure because he refuses to wear his glasses anymore. He spends his days in total darkness, his eyes heavily blindfolded so that not even a trace of light can slip through. He never leaves the cabin.
I retired early from the RCMP to take care of him. The doctors in Chicago talked about the pressure of the serial killings, the horrific mutilation of the bodies, the stress of being unable to determine either a motive or the killer's identity. Ray chose to let them believe this was what caused his collapse the day we found the last body. Better that, he says, than to tell them the truth about the bloated obscenities hanging in the air, or the fact that, despite the mutilation, he knew whose corpse it was.
After all, he said, it's not like you're going to forget what the body of the woman you spent 20+ years of your life with looks like. Even if it is missing its head.
End Daemons of the Air by MR: firstname.lastname@example.org
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