Reading someones blog the other day reminded me of a job that I went to some years ago. It was a sad job but not entirely unexpected. With all due respect to the anonymous participants of this tale I dedicate this telling………………..
The House Of a Thousand Limbs…
We were part way through our shift and looking forward to going home to our warm homes, warm beds and warm wives. The night shift had been the usual concoction of minor illnesses and ailments with the occcasional sprinkling of drink related details such as the “assault with a bar stool” and the “put arm through plate glass window” scenarios.
With not more than two hours left of the cold, dark night shift left we felt that we were on the home run. It had been “Q” for nearly an hour and it was fast approaching 5a.m. Nearly there! Soon be home! Can,t wait! Yes!
“No!!!”What the bleedin’ hell was that?” Awoken from a near trance like slumber, I was dragged back into the dark world of ambulance station alerters sounding their shrill, insistent cry of a squawking seagull having its head ripped off! We made our way to the vehicle and looked at the detail on the data terminal…”Male unco. ?conscious, ?breathing, possible sudden death, police informed.”
With the vehicle windows wound down to help us wake up a bit more from our temporary slumber, we made our way on blues to the other side of the town. The area we were going to was on the outskirts next to a winding river which was giving off an ethereal mist. (Think of The Fog by James Herbert, its easier.) We located the address pretty quickly and pulled up outside in front of an imposing Victorian house. The upstairs light was on and we could just make out a dim orange light through the stained glass window of the front door.
“Hello! Anyone there! Ambulance Service!”I called out as we levered the large front door open, its hinges creaking as we did so. No answer. Very quiet. Too quiet. I was confident in my approach down the darkened hallway which was lit in a strange orange, subdued light of some kind. My crewmate was right behind me…..was! Turning round to ask him what he thought of the situation I found that he had disappeared! “You %*&$ !” I thought!
Starting to question my confidence a little I made my way back to the door to locate my lost compadre. No sooner had I reached the front door when a grotesque face appeared at the stained glass window, its shadowy features contorted in anguish and suffering! Its mouth, drooling wide open and its nostrils flared like that of a rabid dog! My heart was now in my mouth and about to go into ventricular fibrillation! My trousers were nearly full of brown adrenaline! And my eyes were finding problems trying to relocate their sockets!
“Whats up with thee?”My crewmate said, trying to stifle his laughter as he lowered the torch from his face. I was just about to explain myself to him via a size nine magnum boot to his shins when a voice called to us from upstairs. “Hello? Can you come upstairs please”? We made our way to the bottom of the stairs and stopped suddenly when we were confronted by a spectacle of unimaginable horror. The stairway wascovered in body parts with various arms and legs pinned to the dimly lit walls! Traces of what looked like blood, was smeared around the ragged edges of the cut limbs!
Then a figure appeared at the top of the stairs….a woman, silhouetted by the landing light, called down to us again. “Up here if you please gentlemen.” As if hypnotised, we slowly made our way up the stairs towards the beckoning woman. Her features come into view as we approach her and she looks pale, drawn and with great sadness in her eyes. She reminds me of someone from an old black & white movie but I cant think who.
I cannot speak, as I am still trying to make sense of the macabre scene behind us on the stairs and in front of us on the landing where even more body parts are strewn around. Torsos of every shape and size lay either on the floor or are propped up sagging against the wall! The woman then gently takes my arm and softly speaks, “Hes in the bedroom,” as she leads me past the bodies and towards the half open bedroom door, “I think he’s gone!”
Once through the door I see straight away the person that we have been called to. He is dead. No doubt about it. “Rigor mortis” has started to set in and the “post mortum staining” is clearly evident. I turn to the woman and say “I am sorry, you are right, he has gone.” With this she takes a deep inward sigh and quietly sobs. I still feel apprehensive about the situation, my sleep addled brain trying to make sense of what my eyes are telling me.
“Ey up love!” My crew mate breaks the silence, “Wha’s wi’ all deed uns?” Ever the diplomat he points all around to the various dismembered bodies. “Oh those!”she says with a hint of knowing mischievousness, “I,m a sculptor, I design and make mannekins for museums and displays.”A big audible sigh of relief from two very worried and tired crewmates. “I should have told your colleagues to warn you but I forgot.”
The deceased person was the womans husband and he had been ill for some time. We were able to soften the blow of her husbands demise by reassuring her that he had died peacefully in his sleep and had not suffered. But what a strange setting in which to go.
My crewmate reminds me that the police have not arrived yet. He wants to hide behind the front room door and leap out with torch lit faces at them! I remind him that they are the Police and as such will probably have faster reactions and reflexes than us. Also they have batons and CS gas. And if they are as tired as us, no sense of humour.
We hand over to the police when they arrive and say our farewell to the woman. I am bushed, tired, knackered and the adrenaline has stopped, giving way to a desire to just get home and sleep. We are on double time now as we have finished our shift late. And my nerves are frayed with my imagination running riot and working double time at the House of Horrors!