from part 1…
Fingers searched for the shape and came away wet and sticky. The smell of blood filled the air and PC Stanley gagged. He pulled out a tiny torch that he kept in his pocket for night duties and flicked it on. The weak pool of light shone on the body of a big heavy man – his neck severed right to the bone and bite marks over the front of the bare chest. Glazed eyes stared back at PC Stanley, the fixed expression of shock on the victim’s face.
Shuffled whispers came from the rooms down the landing and slowly but surely, the dancing lights under each doorway extinguished followed by an eery silence. He stood slowly, shining the torch around the room, trying to distinguish the shadows from the furniture. The light caught on a second pair of eyes hidden behind an armchair in the centre of the room. PC Stanley gasped with fright and nearly dropped his torch. The light brown eyes staring back at him shone with unshed tears and a voice whimpered from behind the chair.
“Please don’t hurt me!” came a soft plea from behind the armchair.
The constable stepped forward, careful not to tread on the body close to his feet. He squinted, trying to make out the features hidden behind upholstery and wild hair. The sight of naked flesh took him by surprise and he turned away slightly as the pale features of the naked woman in front of him surfaced from behind the chair. She was beautiful – stunning in every way. Her perfectly shaped breasts graced the front of her shapely body, glowing in the torchlight. Her long, dark hair was wild and draped down her small back, framing a pretty face with large brown frightened eyes.
“Are you alright miss?” he asked, trying not to stare directly at her.
“Mr Stanley, it’s me – Maria!” she cried, her body quivering. She stumbled forward, trying to reach him. He quickly moved forward, ready to catch her before she tripped over the body of the man on the floor. Her toes scrunched up when they felt the cold wetness spreading across the cold floorboards and as the kindly constable draped his arm around her, she flung herself against him, every inch of her shivering. He tried to remove his thick duffle coat whilst she gripped onto him. It was not an easy task and made even harder by the close proximity of the bloody body on the floor. Eventually he managed to remove her from his side and covered her with his large coat.
His warm fingers felt the contact of her soft skin and his frightened eyes opened wide as he stuttered an apology. She didn’t seem to care and again closed the distance between them, the coat falling open as she wrapped her arms around him. He patted her awkwardly on the back and fumbled in his pockets, trying to find his torch that had to be put to one side so that he could remove his coat.
PC Stanley’s mind was in a jumble. Maria Farringham had disappeared from their sleepy village many years ago. Everyone assumed she had run off with one of the seafaring community as she was a known flirt. Her beauty was only surpassed by her ability to throw gentlemen into a fray, usually ending in an arrest. He knew that she could easily have been kidnapped along with the other young ladies in the village, but her family had never put in a formal request to find her. The rumours had served their purpose to close the case.
He blushed in the darkness as he felt remorse for this young beauty at his side. If he had performed his duties properly and followed up on her disappearance, she might not be in this situation.
“What’s wrong?” she asked as she felt his hands gripping the sides of his legs.
“My torch must have fallen out of my pocket,” he replied. It was very dark and frustrating because he now had to remove her from the scene of the crime without disturbing the body, but he wasn’t too sure how close the body was with her disrupting his thoughts. He yelped as he felt soft, thin fingers running themselves along the sides of his legs and then the front. PC Stanley jerked his body away from her frisky fingers, aware of his body’s reaction to her touch. This would not do. He was a police constable and needed to act in a professional manner.
“I’m sorry Mr Stanley,” she gasped. “I thought I would help you find the torch!”
The constable thanked his lucky stars that it was too dark to see his bright red face. He cleared his throat and gave a gruff non-committal reply. “Not to worry Maria. We shall just have to muddle along without it. Give me your hand and I will try to lead you out of this room safely.”
Leaving nothing to chance, he took two steps away from her in case her hands brushed against sensitive areas again. Her small, shaky hand closed around his and they slowly took two more steps to the left. PC Stanley felt his shoe bump against the bulk on the floor and he bent down to feel out the location of the body, maneuvering their escape route around the still shape on the floor. The door appeared as a dark looming shadow in front of them and they made their escape to the landing. Maria turned to the constable, tears falling down her pale cheeks. The coat lay open and unchecked and he wondered if she noticed her own nakedness or was it the shock that made her unaware.
“I cannot leave my sisters behind sir!” she whimpered. She lifted her pale thin hand and pointed to the doors along the landing. “They are all trapped inside their rooms. He locked us in and threatened terrible things if we did not obey. We had no choice!” Her voice broke and tears glistened in the soft lamplight.
PC Stanley’s heart shook with anger, remorse and fear. How many girls were there? How hadn’t they noticed their disappearances in the village? Where were their parents and why was it not reported? He sighed to himself. The villagers held higher principles than their rich contemporaries and shunned any young woman who might have spoiled her good name with frivolous behaviour with the opposite sex. It was sad but true – many young women had to leave the village with not a penny to their names, following the men who had sullied their reputations. Living close to the coast meant most of the men left for months on end, returning to flirt with a new bonny lass.
Maria led PC Stanley to the closest door. There was a shuffling noise behind it. His quivering hand reached for the handle and turned it.
“EEEEEEEEEKKKK!” screeched a wild creature from the darkness within.
Claw-like fingers grabbed him and pulled him into the room. He stumbled forward, tripping over unrecognizable lumps on the floor. The thick, stale air choked him and his heart raced as he tried to turn to escape, searching for Maria.
“Maria! Save yourself! Run!” he screamed as he fought off the scratching, tearing claws. Searing pain scorched his face and neck. He tried to defend himself from the creature of darkness, to no avail.
Maria’s voice was shrill as she screamed for the creature to stops its vicious attack. Slowly, the claws retreated followed by raspy breaths. PC Stanley fumbled with his pockets, desperate to find the infernal torch that would light up this madness. Eureka! He found it! The tiny torch flickered and sputtered as he tapped it, forcing it by will alone to work properly. The small circle of light illuminated the oppressive room. Mounds of clothing were thrown everywhere and what looked like a bed was piled with disheveled blankets and pillows marked with streaks of filth.
“Bebe, don’t hurt him. He is here to help us,” gasped Maria, her eyes taking in the disgusting surroundings. “Come sweetheart, don’t be shy. Come out of the dark.”
A beastly looking creature that couldn’t have been older than his own son of fifteen stood just out of the glimmering pool of light. Her wild green eyes reflected madness and hunger. Ripped clothing covered her thin body and spindly legs shook as they tried to support her. Maria caught PC Stanley’s hand and moved him into the room. She coaxed her little friend forward towards them too, so that all parties met in the centre of the room.
The sound of a door banging closed behind them made them all jump. PC Stanley turned in time to see another pair of wild eyes staring at him from an emaciated body silhouetted in the light from the landing. The creature leapt forward into their room and closed the door behind it. Darkness enveloped them, apart from the paltry light fighting to be seen from the tiny torch. Heavy breathing surrounding the frightened constable.
“Maria! What’s happening?” he whispered, his gruff voice breaking.
A silvery laugh made his skin crawl. The sound was moving to his left and he could feel Maria’s grasp on his wrist tighten.
“You see my lovelies…I told you I would feed you! Now feast my precious little daughters. Feed until there is nothing left! Hahahaha!” she trilled with delight.
Hands gripped the PC and fingers trailed across his rotund torso. He screamed in terror, fighting off their adventurous hands. There was no escape.
“Why Maria? Why?” he howled as something bit down hard on his neck. He could feel his blood slipping away, draining from his shaking body. His torch caught Maria in its faint light. Her eyes had turned from their lovely light brown to a luminescent feral green. Her teeth bared and he could see the fangs, pointy and dangerous descending towards him.
“Why, dear PC Stanley? Because we were hungry and our master was just an appetizer. I knew dinner would be delivered from Hopley. And what a tasty dinner it’s going to be!”
The last piercing scream of PC Stanley carried across the open scrubland down to the sleepy village of Hopley. No-one stirred. No-one dared. Maybe tomorrow they would send their Police Constable to investigate the noises, but for tonight, they would stay nice and warm in their safe beds. Everyone knew that the house on the Cliffs of Hopley had the devil herself living there!