2, 4, 6, 8, who do we appreciate - Editor
by Spyder Collins
Sierra Van Tanner stood agape at the mess that spread out before her. The blood that splattered across the room was ungodly in measure. It looked to be the blood from a hundred people, yet only a solitary body rests in the center of the room. The room she stood in appeared to be a living room, she could only gather because of the fireplace that dripped fresh blood from the mantle.
Sierra traced the oval shape of the room, running her eyes from floor to ceiling and back again. Everything, every square inch of the room was blood stained. Everywhere except for the outline of where the body lay. It appeared clean beneath the body, male, Caucasian, late thirties to early forties Sierra observed. From the body the maple hardwood was clean. Sierra gathered perhaps a foot in all directions, like a chalked outline of a body. The blood pooled around the circumference, and seemed to push against the invisible outline, as if it wished to enter but couldn’t
“4-8-2, what is your locale?” Someone at dispatch called to her.
“4-8-2, I say again. What is your locale?”
Sierra drew her hand to her shoulder. “I’m in the apartment,” she replied.
“4-8-2, step away and return to duty.”
“4-8-2, leave now.” The voice from dispatch grew cold and authoritative.
“There’s been a crime here,” Sierra replied. She looked down at her mic as if to reinforce her point to dispatch.
“4-8-2, leave!” Dispatch called intolerantly.
"There is one dead here dispatch, send back-up."
"There has been a murder, a damn brutal one I might add. Send help now."...
"4-8-2, you must leave."
“Who is this?” Sierra lowered her hand to her gun. Unsnapped the guard and drew her weapon. Something was wrong, terribly so. Never mind the brutality that sprawled out before her. Dispatch or whoever it was that was intercepting her call raised her suspicions.
“4-8-2, what is your locale?”
Sierra moved back from the doorway. Sweeping the barrel of her H&K 9mm from side to side, she proceeded forward.
“4-8-2, your locale!” The voice from dispatch grew angrier.
“Fuck you…” Sierra whispered, repositioning her revolver into her right hand.
“4-8-2, no fuck you.”
Sierra’s hand dropped from the mic, she gripped her revolver with both hands and turned quickly. Someone was talking with her, but it wasn’t dispatch. How could it be? They couldn’t have heard her comment, not without the mic being depressed. Whoever it was that killed the man in the other room was still in the apartment. Sierra took a deep breath swallowed quietly before proceeding.
The floorboards creaked beneath her as she tried to creep to the next room. The long hallway ran from the door to the oval room at the end of the hall, with a series of closed doors on either side. She moved back to the oval room, still the blood, the body and no sign of anyone else. Sierra backtracked down the hall, stopping at the first door.
She reached for the door.
“4-8-2, what are you doing?” The voice came again, inquisitive and mischievous.
Sierra ignored the call and gripped the doorknob tightly.
The door was locked. Sierra stepped back. She kicked at the door. The wood groaned but did not let in. Again, she kicked. Nothing.
“4-8-2, there is no entry.”
Sierra swung around, revolver ready.
She peered down the hall into the oval room. It was as it was.
Sierra moved back up the hallway, trying each door as she moved past it. All locked and held the same steady reply.
“4-8-2, it is time for you to leave.”
Sierra lowered her revolver, thinking it useless at that very moment. She returned to the oval room, drawn there by the oddity. The blood that outlined the body continued to break against an unseen boundary. Like waves against a bank, rolling in before retreating from whence it came.
“Who are you?” Sierra asked, moving her eyes across the crimson stained room.
“Who the hell are you?”
“4-8-2, it is...dispatch.” A near silent sigh could be heard beneath the scratch of growing static.
“No, you’re not dispatch. I don’t know who the hell you are, but you are not precinct dispatch.”
“4-8-2, never said precinct dispatch…” Static drowned out the remaining words.
Sierra thought about trying to raise dispatch on her radio, but knew better. She backed away from the room, turning slowly. She kept her eye on the body for as long as she could. She made her was down the long, dreary hallway.
The static the burned through her radio quieted. She waited for the familiar voice, calling to her, “4-8-2.”
Moving further down the hallway, her footsteps let off a painful ache as the hardwood floor labored beneath her. She raised her revolver once more. As she approached the door, the familiar voice addressed her.
Sierra remained silent.
Closer she drew.
The closer to the front door she came the more urgent the calls from dispatch came.
Sierra stopped, turned to look behind her once more. She reached for the doorknob.
Sierra grabbed at her ear. The static was loud and had startled her. She dropped to her knees, looking up from the floor, she raised her revolver towards the oval room grimacing as the intensity caused a stinging pain.
Then, a short silence before, “4-8-2?” The voice called to her again.
Sierra rose and reached again for the door, locked. She pushed her body against the door, bounding into it with a shoulder. Then, she stood back and kicked at the door. Still, the door remained fixed. The fetid wood proved stronger that its appearance.
“4-8-2, I warned you.”
Sierra took a step back, raised her revolver. She pulled off two shots into the door. The wood rippled as it absorbed the slugs, but left no noticeable impression. Sierra stepped closer. She rubbed her hand over the door, "It's not even..."
Sierra stepped back, gave the door one final kick before she placed her revolver back into its holster.
Sierra walked back down the hall, towards the oval room. She tried each door as she passed; all remained locked, only the oval room at the end of the hall was open. Again, she scanned the room, looking for something. A clue as to who it was she was dealing with. A clue to what this place was exactly. She didn’t buy into the apartment any longer. Didn’t buy into the domestic violence call she received. Everything in this place seemed surreal.
There, though the blood stained walls she could see the off shine of brass, another door perhaps? Locked she assumed, but at that moment she could think of nothing more that trying the door. Perhaps it was how the killer escaped, perhaps even, where the killer was watching her.
“4-8-2, that one is locked as well.” The voice commented, rather sarcastically.
“How…” Sierra stepped into the room. The blood rushed to her, crawling over her boots and up her legs. Quickly, she moved back.
“4-8-2?” She felt a hand gripping her shoulder.
Sierra fell forward, stumbling into the room, deeper than she had ever been.
She turned towards the entrance to the room, nothing. Again, the blood moved up her legs. She saw from across the room, the blood moving down the wall, deepening the pools on the hardwood. Higher and thicker, the blood moved up her legs, reaching to her midriff. She froze in that moment, the blood moving over her pelvis and up her stomach. The walls and ceiling were clean of the blood now. The eggshell white glistened, released from the grip of the crimson that once washed them.
The blood seemed to massage her as it inched higher, to her breast now. It bathed her in a thick gelatinous crimson. Sierra opened her mouth to scream, the moment had finally struck her, the horror of the moving, consuming grotesque liquid that cradled her. The blood poured into her mouth, suffocating her. She gagged and spit frantically. The blood splattered from her lips, then quickly rebounded, clinging to her face.
The entrance to the door now seemed out of reach. The clean walls seemed to flee, savoring the freedom from the blood. Sierra looked around frenetically. The blood quickly moved over her head, engulfing her eyes and smothering her breath. Through scarlet shades Sierra spotted the body that lay in the center of the room
“4-8-2?” The voice called to her. The sound muffled from the rush of blood that encircled her now.
Sierra forced a foot forward, then another. Her body weighed down from the enormous burden of the blood that accompanied her. She looked on through the scarlet, sucking in the blood, trying to find a space to breath. Her hand breached the void, the blood vacant space where the body resided.
She tired and allowed her arm to fall. Again, the blood rushed the length of her flesh and devoured her. Air, she needed air. She reached out again, this time falling into the void. The blood rushed from her head, arms, and torso. Sierra gasped for air. Feeling her lungs fill. She coughed uncontrollably. Blood spattered from her choking, evaporating on contact with the unsoiled floor. She calmed as the air flowed more readily through her, and some semblance to normalcy returned.
She raised her head as the voice as it called to her again. Then, she felt herself being pulled back into the river of blood.
Sierra looked back. She saw a large wall of blood, arms protruding from the mass, tugging at her still enveloped legs. She pulled back, trying to pull her legs in. The blood tugged harder. Sierra grabbed hold of the dead man that lay in front of her. His still pliable body felt warm, alive.
“Help me!” She called; on the odd chance, the man was alive.
“Fuck!” Sierra grunted one last heave. She piled into the corpse, rolling over him as her momentum threw her. She looked back at the wall of blood, and watched as it flooded back over the floor, up the walls and across the ceiling. Her clothing and skin were clean; it was as if she was never drowning in it.
Sierra stood, after taking a moment to collect herself. She thought to draw her revolver, but knew it to be futile. Turning her attention back to the man, she gave his midsection a swift kick.
She reached down, grabbed his shirt and struggled to roll him over. His lifeless body slumped over her feet. She checked for a pulse, dead.
“4-8-2, what do you think you are doing?"
"Who are you?" Sierra drew her revolver and pointed it towards the man.
"4-8-2, you can't kill what is already dead."
Sierra put two slugs in the man's chest, just to make certain he was dead. That he wasn't the one who was fucking with her.
The slugs penetrated the flesh in succession. Blood sprouted from the wounds. His eyes burst open in apparent surprise and agony. The azure quickly faded, leaving his eyes void, albino in hue. Sierra watched the blood that poured from the entry wounds. It ran off his chest and onto the clean floor beneath. The blood pooled on either side of him, building and moving towards the perimeter.
"He wasn't dead," Sierra turned towards the entry to the room. "He wasn't dead!" Shots echoed through the oval room, as Sierra unloaded her revolver into the awaiting, empty hall.
"Fuck you!" Sierra threw her empty revolver into the hall.
"4-8-2, are you angry?"
"Who are you?" Sierra finally broke. She sank atop the dead man, weeping.
The blood from the man gathered behind her, nearly filling the circumference. Only a small circle around Sierra remained. Her knees nearly touching the blood that poured from the wounds. Her feet rested at the edge of the barrier, inches from the blood that once consumed her.
The blood waited.
"4-8-2, you should have left when I advised you." The voice spoke in a tone that raised Sierra's ire.
"No! You called me here. You sent for me. Now, tell me what it is you want." The words came quick and sour.
"Why do you keep calling me that?"
Sierra flinched; a tug came at her leg. She turned to see a wall of blood before her.
"Are you not 4-8-2?"
"No," Sierra backed away ever so slightly, nearly tripping over the body. "My name is Sierra Van Tanner. Officer Sierra Van Tanner."
"No, you are simply 4-8-2."
"Why?" The solitary word, which held so much, fell from her lips as the tears began to flow once again.
Sierra stood in a small room of blood. The four walls of blood reached up to the eggshell ceiling. The blood quivered not an inch from her face; she felt the same closure all around her. The blood waited, waited to consume her flesh once more.
"4-8-2, it is the name you gave."
"I...4-8-2 is my badge number. My name is Sierra Van Tanner."
"Sierra?" The voice quizzed over her name.
"Yes..." Sierra took a breath. She felt her knees growing weak. She could no longer see the entry or the brass doorknob that shone through the gore-infested walls.
Death, she faced it everyday on the job. This wasn't death though. This wasn't a bullet taken in the line of duty. This was something entirely different. This was wicked, an unseen, unavoidable evil.
"Sierra?" The voice called, not through the static but clearer. She heard the closing of a door, and the scrapping of feet across hardwood. The shuffling approached.
The blood lowered, then wrapped around her from the neck down. She was pinned, held at bay by the fluid that flowed from the man and enveloped the room. Before her stood a little girl, her white dress flowed as if a wind blew. Her Shirley Temple curls bounce atop her head, yet she stood still. She wore a smile; it would have been an adorable smile under different circumstances. Sierra however, was terrified.
"Sierra?" The girl spoke. The inside of her mouth was a bright crimson. Some of the blood that held Sierra tore itself away from her and flew into the girl’s mouth. She licked her lips and smiled again.
Sierra did not reply. She only watched in horror, the little girl who stood before her.
Again, more blood tore away from Sierra and into the little girl's mouth.
"Who are you?" Sierra buckled, dipping beneath the blood. She resurfaced quickly, her face clean.
"I am Wonder."
Sierra shook her head, "I don't understand."
The girl turned and walked away. Her white dress flowed and her curls bounced. The door opened before her. Sierra could see, just a glimpse, a wall of blood awaited the little girl. She turned to face Sierra. The blood reached out for her, like hands, they cradled her, lifting her from the ground, her white flowing gown flawless. The blood pulled her in, cradling her, rocking her gently before pulling back into the room. The door closed.
"4-8-2, you may leave." The voice called through the static.
Rapidly, the blood pulled away from her, rushing up the walls and over the ceiling, leaving a clean eggshell path to the hall.
Sierra looked down at herself. Her uniform and flesh was clean. She stood in wonderment, "How could it be?" She thought.
"4-8-2, it is time."
Sierra peered over her shoulder, moving quickly towards the hall. As she reached the hall, she stopped. The blood flooded back over the floor. The entire room was consumed in blood once again. However, the man that held the center of the room was gone.
Sierra turned to see the door at the end of the hall open. The doors that lined the hall were gone. The hall shorter, then she had remembered it.
"4-8-2, it's over, please leave."
Sierra stepped closer to the blood. It rushed to her, building a wall, blocking off the oval room.
"4-8-2, do as you are instructed.
Sierra turned and walked the short hall. She stood, looking out from the hall into a larger room, a lobby. It was empty, with no visible exit. She turned back, peering at the wall of blood, she called again, "Wonder." She said as she stepped back into the hall
The blood rushed her again, wrapping around her, confining her. She saw the little girl. She lay face down next the man that originally held the center of the room. Sierra was pulled back, further away from the child. She tried to fight, to reach out to them both, but she was held too tightly. The girl and the man disappeared behind a slamming door.
Sierra fell to the floor. Quickly she scooted herself to the nearest wall. She turned to see two men walking away. They chortled to one another, talking about how crazy it all was.
Doctor Finstill shook his head. "I've never seen anything like it." He commented as he shut the main camera off.
"She's been like that since they brought her here." Doctor Sierra Van Tanner rubbed her tired eyes.
"Why does she think she's you?" Doctor Finstill asked.
"Escapism, it is the only logical explanation. I was the first person she had contact with after the accident." Doctor Van Tanner frowned. "Poor girl shot an innocent man and his daughter. A routine domestic disturbance call, angry neighbors. Upset because the little girl was being "too rowdy upstairs." The little girl was riding her scooter from room to room."
"She shot them?"
"Yes. She snapped after that, and no one knows why she did it." Doctor Van Tanner called to the two men to have them remove patient 4-8-2's restraints.
Doctor Van Tanner looked on as 4-8-2 allowed the men to remove the restraints. Her oily hair clung to her forehead, the acorn hue looked deep, almost resin in contrast to her doughy complexion.
It had been three months since the officer's arrival. In that time she had regained nothing. Doctor Van Tanner has brought in colleague after colleague to try to help the officer, but to no avail.
“Wonder,” Doctor Finstill quizzed.
“It was the name across the scooter. They found her writing the word on the walls, ‘Wonder.’” Doctor Van Tanner walked from the observation window. She sat wearily on an examining stool, spun herself back and forth before burying her eyes in the palm of her hands. “I just don’t know what else I can do…”
"Wonder," the woman said, turning her head quickly to the dilapidated door.
Sierra stood, hand on her revolver she headed for the door...