On Friday the 13th an investigative journalist discovers a very disturbing family secret, and blood splattered mayhem is its game of choice.
Warehouse of Blood by Shane Migliavacca
Music by Ray Mattis http://raymattispresents.bandcamp.com
Produced by Daniel Wilder
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April 13th 1979
It’s 1:00 A.M. on Friday the 13th and I’ve been awake for two days. Will the 13th hold good luck for me? We’ll see.
My long brown hair needs a good combing, haven’t been back to the apartment in three days, and I think my bra is starting to stink of BO. I’m sitting here on a wood crate and my butt has fallen asleep.
I’ve been following Teddy Stoneberry all night. Teddy’s been the talk of the town lately. Only surviving son of Peter and Dorthy Stoneberry, Peter owns a huge shipping empire. Teddy’s twin brother Chuck died in fire when the boys were ten, which left Teddy to inherit everything.
His younger sister Ann ran off with her female tennis instructor last year. Word was the folks disowned her after that. Lately Teddy had been seen galavanting about town with a model by the name of Suzy S. No last name, just “S”. Guess that makes her interesting.
Suzy became a lot more interesting a week ago when she went missing.
At first it was looked at as just another Suzy lost weekend coke binge. Then her purse showed up in a gutter on 43rd street. Everything intact… not even a penny missing, so robbery wasn’t the motive.
If it was a kidnapping, why hasn’t anybody come forward?
Pretty soon all signs were pointing at good old Teddy. He was know to have quite a little temper. The popular theory was: They got in a fight over her drug habit and hit her a little too hard. Poor Suzy is most likely stuffed in a crate on one of Daddy’s cargo ships halfway to Singapore.
The other theory: Suzy’s old flame, Jay Jay Brown, he of a fifth rate punk band called Motherfuckers from Mars, killed her in a jealous rage.
I don’t buy that theory myself. Teddy is involved somehow. I can feel it in my gut.
I watch as he enters a warehouse owned by the family, not far from the pier. I can hear the water crashing against the side of a nearby cargo ship. There’s a chill in the night air, forcing me to pull my denim jacket tighter. It’s furry collar prickly against my neck. I pull my wool wide brimmed hat down.
“Time to snoop Sam.” I say to myself, watching my breath twirl in the cold night air. I slip off the box, worming my way past the stack of crates I was hiding behind. My butt and legs are asleep from sitting there, causing me to limp along for a few seconds before the blood gets flowing again.
This is my favorite time of any story I’m investigating… digging up dirt, sneaking around, butting in where I’m not wanted. Might not be respectable, but sure as hell is fun though.
If I can catch him red handed, I’ll have the scoop of the year. I’ll be done with these shitty little news stories I’ve been covering for a year and a half. Just because I’m a woman the chief gives me the most boring stories imaginable. Flower festivals and craft fairs. Fucking really?
Catch him red handed doing god knows what. I figure he wouldn’t have the body stashed here, right? Maybe he’s got something of her’s here. It’s slim, but it’s better then nothing.
Teddy entered using a door marked “office”. Too risky trying to enter through there. Maybe I can find another way in… an open window or something. Preferably nothing that involves climbing… me and heights don’t get along too well since that case with that embezzling councilman and the high-rise balconies.
I’m in luck, I find a dumpster around the side of the warehouse. Above it is a large window. There’s a horrible smell coming from the dumpster. The image of Suzy’s decomposing body pops into my head.
Shit. No two ways about it. Now I gotta look.
Fishing the small flashlight from my jacket, never leave home without it, I lift the lid of the dumpster. Thank god I’ve got my riding gloves on. I shine the flashlight over the contents of the dumpster. There’s a few black trash bags, some empty beer cans, some flattened cardboard boxes and something else. I can only see a little bit of it. Red. Bright red. Could it be… Suzy?
I try to push some of the garbage out of the way, but it’s too far down. I really, really do not want to climb down there. I ease the lid back down and go hunting for something to extend my reach.
After a little looking I find a broken board from a wood pallet. I head back to the dumpster and use it to push aside some of the trash, while holding the flashlight in my other hand.
Laying there under everything is what remains of a fair sized dog. The greasy cheeseburger I had for lunch almost makes a return appearance. I throw the board in and lower the lid. God, the dog looks like it was skinned. Not only skinned, but there’s chunks missing, like somebody carved Fido up for lunch-meat. Who the hell would do that? Teddy got a dog meat fetish? That would be far out. Make a hell of a headline. I decide to get back to why I’m here. Checking out this warehouse and where Teddy got off to.
I climb up onto the dumpster lid. The cold metal creaks under my weight. One too many cheese burgers. I try the window, but there’s a wire mesh protecting it. That’s what a high crime rate get’s you. Worse yet the glass is frosted, so peeking in isn’t possible. Damn their security and secrecy.
I stand there, frustrated. Trying to come up with another plan. That’s when I hear a loud scream from inside.
I jump down off the dumpster, trying not to break a leg in the process. I run around the side of the warehouse to where I saw the door marked office. Before I can pull it open, the door flies open of it’s own accord, knocking me on my ass and pushing the air from my lungs.
In the commotion I see a vague man-sized figure standing in the doorway back-lit by the light from within. I hear a groaning noise as it rushes past me. I try to get a good look as it runs away, but I’m too slow. I’m fairly sure it wasn’t Teddy… but that’s about all I’m sure off.
I look off in the direction it went. I can try and follow or go in the warehouse. I decide to go into the warehouse.
Whoever knocked me down left bloody footprints. What’s going on in there? Just to be safe I pull a small double barreled Derringer pistol from my jacket. I keep it for “close encounters.” Better safe then sorry.
The mayor might be cleaning up the city. Making it safer for the good people. But it can still get pretty dirty.
I pull open the door. There’s a modest office inside with desks, carpet and filing cabinets. The bloody footprints mar an otherwise decent carpet. Shame.
Making my way through the office, following the bloody prints back to their source leads me to a hallway. The blood leads down the hallway to the main warehouse area… aisle upon aisle of metal shelves, about ten feet high; each one crammed with boxes and crates of various sizes and shapes as far as the eye can see.
The blood trail ends in a large pool in the center of one of the aisles. There’s no body, just a hat. Looks like the kind a security guard might wear. A pained moan comes from somewhere in the back. The guard maybe? I try to follow the sound but get lost among the aisles.
After a little fruitless searching, I give up.
“Hello?” I call out. “Where are you?” Then I add. “I’m here to help.” I was actually here snooping. They don’t need to know that.
There’s no answer. I try a couple more times, holding my breath and waiting for an answer… when finally…
“Here!” The voice says weakly, a man’s voice. “I’m here.”
“Keep talking to me buddy.” I holler back. “I’ll find you.”
After a few minutes I find a very beat up Teddy Stoneberry in the rear of the warehouse. He’s slumped against a wood crate, a large gash on his forehead… another on his chest. His hair is matted with blood.
“What happened?” I ask, kneeling down by him.
“Who?” He mutters. “Who are you?”
I need a good lie. “Jenny Smith. I was passing by. Heard a scream.” Not good, but it’ll do. He’s barely with it anyway.
His wounds look pretty bad. He needs help. But the reporter in me overrides my natural instinct to help.
“Who did this too you?” I ask.
His only answer is a groan, his eyes closing as he slumps forward. I check him, still alive. Trying to wake him, I shake him a little.
“C’mon Teddy. Stay with me.”
He groans again, his eyes opening and promptly closing once more.
Wanting to stop his bleeding somehow, I scan the area for a rag or something. That’s when I see the room behind a stack of crates… almost hidden away.
I rush over. The room is dark. I pull out my flashlight. Looks like someone was being kept here. There’s a stained mattress on the floor and some blankets. There’s also a bowl with hunks of bloody meat. The smell of rotting meat and urine is overpowering. I back away, trying not to vomit.
That damn cheese burger won’t stay down.
God, were they keeping Suzy here? What the fuck did they do to her?
I go back over to Teddy, suddenly not caring about helping him anymore. Angry, I shake him hard till he moans. His eyes fluttering open.
“Who did you have here?”
“Who?” He mumbles, his head drooping forward.
“Hey! Hey!” I slap his face, leaving a red mark. “Stay awake Teddy! C’mon! Who was in that room? Suzy?”
He laughs, coughing on his blood. “Suzy who? Suzy Q?”
“In that room.” I point. “Were you keeping her there?”
Teddy coughs, spitting out some blood. Right onto my cheek. Thanks.
He grabs my left arm tight. “Brother. Brother’s here.” He says, before finally going out again. His grip goes slack. His hand falling to his lap.
“Brother? Your brother’s dead?” I say, even though he can’t hear me.
Off in the distance, somewhere in the warehouse there’s an excited whoop. Then one by one, each row of lights go out, leaving Teddy and I in darkness.
“Play! Want to play!” A hideous voice calls out, from somewhere in the pitch blackness.
_Tek Tek Tek. _
Someone, something runs through the warehouse.
I click the flashlight on. The light beam dances around as my arm trembles. In my other hand, I grip the pistol tight. It’s only two shots, but right now it’s all I got.
I jump as a box comes crashing down off one of the shelves, a few feet behind me. I shine the flashlight upwards and catch a glimpse of a mangled bare foot as somebody runs along the top of the shelves. I hear a noise and stop dead in my tracks. Another large crate crashes into the floor in front of me. I raise my arms as wood splinters and bottles fly at me.
I drop the flashlight in the process. As it rolls away from me, I catch a brief glimpse of an open space on one of the bottom shelves to my left.
I use it to dart through into the next aisle. Anything to distance myself from whoever is up there.
I cross the next aisle until I come to another row of shelves.
I press my back against it… using my hands in the darkness to inch along it… trying to head in the direction of the hallway.
I stop moving. Water? A leak maybe?
Reaching out in front of me a drop hits my hand. Warm. I pull my hand back.
It’s right over me!
A large rough hand tries to grab me by the head, knocking my hat off. I push away from the shelves, trying to run, but they grab at my hair, yanking me back.
“Don’t break dolly.” It says.
The pistol! It’s only two shots.
In the dark I’d be firing blind, but I’ve got to risk it. I angle it up, towards where I think it is, listening for it’s breathing. I squeeze the trigger. A bright flash in the darkness and an explosion of sound.
Over the ringing of my ears I hear it let out a loud scream, letting me go in the process.
This is all I need as I run. There’s light ahead. I’m not sure if it’s from outside or just my eyes reacting to the muzzle flash of the pistol.
At this point I don’t care which it is. Running towards it, I hit something in the darkness. I go down on my knees. Hard. Frantically I pull myself up, limping forward towards the light. The light is all I have.
I reach the light. It’s the office!
Adrenaline surges through me as a way out looms ahead. I reach for the metal bar of the door. My hands feel the coolness of it. Freedom.
Then reality’s large rough hands grab me by the hair, yanking me away from the door.
My hands fly out, grabbing at anything to hold on to. They latch onto the corner of a desk. I kick at my attacker, digging my boots into their legs and bare feet.
Howling in frustration, they throw me over one of the desks. I tumble over, colliding with a chair and crash to the carpeted floor.
I lie there, the carpet really is nice. I could take a nap here.
No. Don’t lie down and die. Fight.
I see it there, just under the desk. A letter opener. I pull myself towards it, fingers outstretched. Crawl Sam! Almost there.
A shadow falls over me. It’s here. Got it!
My fingers wrap around the plastic handle of the letter opener. I roll over coming face to face with it. With him.
He looks down at me. His face was once handsome. But it’s marred by horrible scars now. Old burns healed over. Drool hangs from his lip, like a pendulum. Sparse tufts of hair dot his fire ravaged head… the right cheek of which is partially burned away, leaving a gaping hole… jagged bone poking through. Savage, bloody teeth line his mouth.
How can somebody live like that?
He reaches for me, his large, coarse left hand caked in in dried blood. The right arm hangs limp… a large bloody wound just below the shoulder. Is that where I shot him? “Broken dolly.” He says, the words whistling through his exposed cheek. His hand gently stroking my face. “I fix.”
He grabs me by the throat, his grip tightening.
Lord, he’s going to pop my head off!
I lash out with the letter opener, stabbing him in the neck with the blade… the handle snapping off in the process.
He stumbles back, the blade stuck in his neck. He pulls it out, blood jetting out in big red spurts.
I pick myself up off the floor, barely able to stand… gasping for air.
He looks at me, panicked as his life drains away, sadness in his eyes.
“Pretty.” He says, reaching out with his hand before tumbling backwards into a desk. He comes to a rest on the carpet, blood pooling around him.
Damn. Now the carpet’s going to be really ruined.
I stumble outside, the cold air waking me up… it’s bitterness rushing through my lungs.
I hear sirens in the distance. Are they coming here? I could go to my motorcycle. It’s parked not far from here, stashed behind a shipping container. Disappear… or stay?
After a few moments debating, I decide to stay. I really don’t feel like walking. I sit down on the cold concrete and wait.
Three hours later I sit at a desk in the 12th Precinct police station, sipping a very bad cup of coffee. It couldn’t be more welcome at this moment. What A Fool Believes by The Doobie Brothers is playing on one of the detective’s radios.
The hard wood chair under my ass isn’t doing me any favors. I thought that crate was bad. I’m going to feel like shit tomorrow. The police have grilled me over and over. There was no use lying to them about why I was there. I already have a bad reputation with the boys in blue.
From what I’ve gathered Teddy is still alive. The thing that knocked me down outside the warehouse and left a blood trail? Turns out that was a security guard at the warehouse… got half his face bit off. Seems Teddy was paying him under the table. Keeping his burnt brother there under lock and key. At least that’s who I think it was.
Did that crazy meatloaf kill Suzy? I think so, even though I have no proof and no way of proving it. Maybe loaf was the dirty family secret… a secret that got free. But, it’s not a story I’ll ever get to tell. Teddy’s family lawyer showed up about an hour ago. After some words with the detectives I was given a choice: Keep quiet or face numerous charges… including trespassing, gun possession and murder.
What a fucking laugh that is.
Sure I shouldn’t have been there. But Loaf? That was self defense.
But I don’t have the money to fight Teddy’s team of lawyers, and I sure as hell don’t like the thought of prison bars.
Jimmy Quinn, my very put upon sidekick and photog comes marching up the stairs outside the detectives bullpen… looking like I just woke him up for either a great dream or a hangover.
He raises his arm up. “This is becoming all too common Sam.”
I shrug. “What can I say?”
He runs a hand through his messy hair. “Weren’t you supposed to be covering a Spring Flower show?”
“Uh…show got canceled.” I take a last sip of coffee before standing. “Get my motorcycle?”
He tosses me the keys. “Right where you said it would be.”
“Would you drive?” I ask, stretching and yawning. “I’ll ride in the sidecar.”
We walk towards the stairs.
“You know there’s an all night Chinese place down the block from my place.” Good old Quinn. Always trying. Maybe one of these days I’ll give in. Maybe.
“All night huh? Well I could go for some General Tso's chicken.”
“And then?” He asks, looking a little awkward, hope in his eyes.
“Then I’m going home to sleep…alone.”
I could see how disappointed he was.
“Think I’ll get chewed out by the chief?” I ask, already knowing the answer.
“For Sure.” Outside the cold air hits my face. I couldn’t get the image of poor Loaf out of my head… and the thought that poor Suzy would never have justice. As tired as I am I don’t think sleep will come easy tonight.
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