During a record breaking blizzard two cops answer a call that turns into more than they bargained for when they discover an ax weilding maniac hell bent on spreading Christmas fear!
The Weather Outside is Frightful by Shane Migliavacca
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It was the worst blizzard the city had seen in over a decade. In time the storm would be known as ‘The Christmas Eve Blizzard of ‘73’, but tonight it was just ‘the storm’.
Patrolwoman Halsey Stone strained her eyes scanning the sidewalk as the radio car crawled down the street, her partner Officer Roy Soccorso at the wheel. This part of the city had been hit hard by the country's current financial stagnation… decaying buildings, junk piled on the side of the street, broke down cars left to rot in open lots… for Stone this was too much like the poverty she'd grown up around.
Many of the large buildings were seemingly abandoned, but in truth whole families lived within their walls, as did the normal cast of junkies, drunks, and other shady characters.
An anonymous caller had reported a woman screaming for help. They'd circled the block a few times, but come up with nothing. The blizzard had driven everyone indoors… between the strong gusts of wind and the visibility being shit, nobody in their right mind would be out here. But here they were, on Christmas Eve no less... not that either of them had anywhere else to be… Stone had left her family behind when she’d moved to the “big city.”, and her partner was estranged from his wife and daughter.
Stone’s left hand clasped and unclasped her holster. Almost keeping a steady rhythm.
"Enough," snapped Soccorso.
"With the holster kid."
Shit. She hadn't realized she'd been doing it. She could get lost in thought sometimes. "Sorry."
"This is just a bullshit call kid."
Stone took off her uniform cap. She smoothed back some of her long blonde hair that obstinately refused to corporate.
"What? You think there's something to this call? Probably just some junkie trying to steal a few bucks… or some asshole trying to stay warm by raping a bitc-" He stopped himself. His face reddened a little. "Sorry kid."
Stone adjusted her dirty blonde ponytail. Maybe he was right…
"How long do you want this to go on?" Soccorso said.
"What? Your shitty attitude?"
"No Okie. Looking for our phantom suspect."
God she hated that. When somebody back at the precinct found out about her family coming from the Ozarks, one of the assholes had started calling her ‘Okie’. They'd got it from some old song, and it stuck like glue.
"You got somewhere to be?" She said, somehow making it sound like “fuck you”.
He shot her a look. "No, just think our time could be spent better."
She drummed her fingers on the dash. All she wanted to do was bounce Soccorso's head off the dash… the anger was always there, had always been there. Once it scared her, now it was a friend.
"You know what, Okie? I'm going to make it your call. Do we continue looking?"
Stone took a deep breath. "My choice? No bitching?"
Since she’d been a kid, she’d had a “feeling”… she could always tell when something bad was coming. Stone had that feeling now.
"Another time around. If there's nothing… we go."
"Okay. Fair enough."
Soccorso turned the corner, as outside the wind gusted. Stone could feel the car move a little pushed by the wind.
"We've been at this dance for almost a month now kid, I'm supposed to be training you… be your partner… and I know jack and shit about you."
That was the way she liked it. There was too much in her past.
"What's there to know? I'm from Missouri."
"You should open up more. Hang out with some of us."
"Why? You guys constantly make fun of me… where I came from."
"That's just ribbing you… no different than any other rookie. You make it harder on yourself anyway, acting like a brat."
"Sorry I'm just not Miss Fun and Games."
The woman came out of the blanket of falling snow, running at their car screaming. There was blood on her hands and jacket.
Soccorso swerved the car, and ended up in a snowbank. Stone was already undoing her seat belt.
"Fuck! You okay kid?"
The woman came running towards them. Stone started to open the door.
"Oh god, officer I'm so sorry."
"Ma'am, take it easy. Is that your blood? Are you injured?"
She shook her head. "No." The woman was shaking. "His-his blood."
Soccorso tried getting his door open, but the snowbank wouldn't give as he slammed the door repeatedly against the packed snow.
Stone took the panicked women towards their car.
"What's your name ma'am?"
"Dorothy. It's Dorothy."
"Okay Dorothy, I need you to get in the back of the car."
"You'll be safe. Until we can get somebody to look at you."
Soccorso finally gave up on getting his door open.
Dorothy slid in, and sat in the middle of the backseat. A steel mesh separated Dorothy from Soccorso.
"You'll be safe here. Now can you tell me what happened Dorothy?"
Dorothy told her how she'd been cutting through the alleyway on her way home from the corner store when a large man had come out of a nook in the alley and chased after her. When she fell on the icy ground he grabbed her. Terrified she pulled a metal nail file from her purse, stuck it into his leg, and made her escape.
Dorothy pointed to the alley across the street a little ways back.
"It was there."
"Thank you Dorothy." Stone said. "You’re very brave. My partner will take care of you until an ambulance arrives.”
Dorothy looked up at Stone, perhaps sensing what was about to happen. "I looked into his eyes, officer… there was nothing inside."
Stone tied to reassure her. "It's going to be okay."
"Kid, don't even think-" Soccorso said.
She cut him off. "Call it in. Get back up."
Stone slammed the door shut before he could protest any more.
Stone took off down the street towards the alley Dorothy had indicated.
This was it… that feeling of dread that she’d felt. Her heart felt like it was going to break free from her chest.
She made it to the alley. He could still be here… nursing his wound she thought. Ultimately he wasn’t in the alley… but something was.
The nail file. He'd pulled it out… now he'd bleed more and make her job easier. Stone followed the blood down another alley and out on to a deserted street.
She had never been much of a hunter. Her dad had tried to teach her, but her patience was lacking. He'd seemed so disappointed in her, but those times out in the woods with him, just walking, those were some of her favorite memories of growing up.
But now her father was spending another Christmas in prison. She sighed.
From somewhere above, Christmas music drifted down. Hark the Herald Angels.
The heavy snowfall was quickly covering the blood.
Stone came out of the alley. She heard voices and a door close.
She spun around, her gun at the ready.
A young couple stood there holding Christmas gifts, a look of shock etched on their faces. Their little dog on a leash yelped at her.
The man raised his hands dropping the gifts.
"Have you seen anybody suspicious.. other than me… maybe bleeding?"
The dog continued yelping. The man pulled hard on its leash. "Shut up Mitzy."
Stone wouldn't mind slamming the guy against the wall.
"I need you both to go back inside. There's a dangerous and wounded man in the vicinity."
Stone crossed the street. The trail continued down the side of the street past a large abandoned building. Then it stopped.
Ahead of her, Stone heard a loud metallic ‘clank’… like a metal door or lid closing.
She regretted leaving Soccorso behind. “No” Stone thought, “This is where I show them what I can do”.
She crouched. Slowly she peeked around the corner of the building until she had a full view of the small street that lay beyond.
There, next to an abandoned theater, was a metal hatch set in the ground. Those led to basements Soccorso had told her. Stone, gun at the ready inched towards it. Snow had been brushed off… very recently.
And there was a bloody handprint on the hatch. “Got you bastard” she thought!
She pulled a rag from her jacket. There was no way she was taking a chance of fucking up the evidence.
Her service pistol ready, Stone pulled on the hatch. Locked… of course. She'd have to find another way in.
Then she heard it… the rustle of wings. Stone looked up.
Perched on a rusty metal railing was a large white owl. It stared at her with its large luminous eyes… eyes that looked into her. She stared at it transfixed.
Then it struck her what it was sitting on… the railing of a fire escape!
She ran over and discovered the bottom of the escape’s ladder was just out of reach. Frantically she looked around for something she could use to get up there.
And there it was, sitting against the far wall of an adjacent building. An old plastic chair. She carried the chair over, and on tiptoes she reached and pulled herself up. All that tree climbing as a kid paid off.
The fire escape led to a locked second story metal door. Not far from it was a window set above a narrow ledge. She stepped over the metal railing, and on to the ledge.
The wind howled. She feared a really strong gust might blow her off her perch on the ledge. Her feet knocked snow free as she inched towards the window.
Finally she made it to the window. Using the flashlight from her belt Stone smashed through the glass and climbed through the window into the dark interior.
She played the beam of the flashlight over the floor and walls of what had once been an office. The broken glass crumbled underfoot as she made her way through the room.
Stone crept into the hallway, and soon entered the main theater area. Paint was chipping off the walls, and the seats that hadn't been ripped out or defaced in some way were covered in years of dust. She headed towards the stage area. Her snow covered boots kicked up dust as she moved, leaving wet tracks on the dirty floor. Stone climbed onto the stage.
An ugly looking green couch sat by itself at the center of the stage, the curtain pulled shut behind it. She opened the curtain and entered the backstage.
Stones flashlight beam caught a blank white face. She almost pulled her trigger before she realized a mannequin stood before her.
She walked past the expressionless mannequin.
"Fuck you asshole."
There was a long dark hallway that led off the backstage area. Old mattresses were stacked in a haphazard pile, stained with god knows what. A musty smell permeated the air.
A large wood wardrobe sat in the middle of the hall, rotting. Stone raised her weapon in her left hand, and reached out with her right. She yanked the door open, causing it to fall off in the process. Stone backed up… it was empty.
Continuing on, she passed a pile of broken props and raggedy costumes on racks, before arriving at a metal staircase leading to the basement.
She headed down, the metal clanking under her boots. The basement hallway was lined with brick, and appeared to be in better shape then the walls up above.
Another foul smell filled the air down here… the smell of something rotten.
A mattress lay on the floor. Next to it sat stacks of books and empty soup cans. Someone was living here. On the wall were taped to it were newspaper clippings and excerpts from books and magazines… all concerning ax murders. Above them, scrawled in blood it read: THE AXEMAN COMETH!
“Oh great, he’s got a secret identity”
At the far end of the room was a metal door. A large rusty chain was wound through the handles and secured with a padlock.
Before she could reach for the door, something wet hit her face. Stone turned her beam upwards to see multiple severed arms hanging from large strands of butcher’s twine.
Not thinking she bolted forward and crashed into the metal doors with all her might. The doors tore from their rusty hinges and crashed to the floor with Stone in tow.
She quickly sprung to her feet and swung her flashlight around the new room. Taped to the walls in various sizes were crosses made out of paper. She inspected one of the crosses on the wall closest to her to find it was made from Bible pages. At the far end of the room was some kind of demented altar made primarily of lashed together bones. A large metal cross stood at its center surrounded by a multitude of crimson candles which filled the surrounding air with acrid smoke.
"I've taken their sin." A deep voice said from behind her.
Startled, Stone spun around to see a brute of a man covered in shoddy, blood stained clothes standing in the doorway cradling an ax in his arms as if it were a newborn baby. Around his right leg a rag was tied where he'd been stabbed by Dorothy.
"I cut it from their bodies."
"You killed them."
"Freed them. They died without sin."
He walked forward towards her with a limp.
"Freeze you mother fucker!" Stone barked, her voice trembling.
He stopped in his tracks.
“I was chosen.” He held out the ax. “It chose me.”
"Shut up!” She didn’t want to hear his psycho sales pitch. “Put the ax on the ground and place your hands behind your head."
He stared at her as if not comprehending.
“I’ve been to another plane… ascended. I was sent back to do their work here.”
"Do it fucker!" Stone screamed, her anger getting the best of her.
He set the ax down tenderly, putting his hands together behind his head.
He did as he was told with some effort.
She moved forward and kicked the ax away. She noticed before it’s flight that it was covered in strange symbols.The wind outside sounded like whispers in the air… calling her.
"I can't help but notice you’re left-handed" he said.
This caught her off guard enough that the man was able to lunge at her legs with a pocket knife, catching her in the side of the right leg. The .38 and the flashlight fell from her hands as she instinctively touched her wound. Stone retreated as painfully he stood and retrieved his ax.
"Do you know what it's like to die the painful death of a million screams in silence every day?"
Stone fell against the wall, leaving a trail of blood in her wake.
"Then they came to me. Angels. Took my pain. Gave me this ax. God teaches us with pain. That's how we become worthy of his love. Through pain."
He limped forward. Stone’s head began swimming wildly.
"Would you like to meet God?" he asked, raising the ax.
She felt the cold metal sticking in her leg. With all her remaining strength, and channeled anger, Stone pulled the knife from her wound. The pain was immeasurable.
“You first!” Stone screamed.
She plunged the blade deep within his breast causing him to howl in agony. Stone pulled out the blade and brought it down again… and again… and again… until blackness took her.
She awoke to find the man in a fetal position, sobbing loudly.
Stone crawled forward and found her .38. The man started to slowly rise, using the ax to prop himself up.
"Don't you move." Stone said hoarsely.
"I could have helped you."
He stood fully on shaking legs.
"I-I said don't move."
She took aim. Her arms felt like rubber.
"Cleanse the world of sin."
He limped towards her dragging the ax along the ground.
"Stop." She said, her voice breaking.
"You see it, don't you? See them… it’s in your eyes. In your soul.” He said reaching out for her with a bloody hand.
Stone squeezed the trigger, firing a round into his chest and another into his forehead. His brains exited his head in a geyser of gore. He fell to his knees, the ax clattering to the ground. Then he fell forward… his body shuddered and lay still. The darkness took her once more.
Stone saw her parents playing with her as a child, followed by the great white owl, swooping down from the sky. It landed in a tree, watching her. It spoke to her… "Okie? Okie?"
"Okie? Okie?" Soccorso called from somewhere out in the hall.
"He-Here!" She said. Stone wasn't sure if he'd hear her.
He stumbled into the room. "Hang on kid."
He put a hand over her wound, pressing tight.
"Back-up is coming. Stay awake okay?"
She grabbed his arm.
"God, my corns are killing me after tracking your damn ass all over town.”
"I'm dying, and your bitching about your feet?!!"
"Shut the fuck up, you’re not dying… they make them tough where you’re from, right Missouri."
She nodded and smiled.
“Well, Merry Christmas Missouri.”
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