SNARLS IN THE NIGHT
Thomas H. Leonard and Jonathan Stone
1. THE FREEGAN
Daniel always slept with the door to his tiny first floor flat unlocked, because he didn't want to lock himself in from the inside. Jason had broken the chain that time he couldn't wake Daniel, and it was therefore fortunate that there was a security lock downstairs which prevented the tramps on Queen Anne of Denmark Gardens from drifting in willy nilly.
Daniel lay awake during the wee small hours of the Summer Solstice, wearing his APAP mask, wondering when Jason, a brawny fellow who was young enough to be his grandson, would return home from his night out with the lovely Janet. Maybe he'd even bring Janet, a PE teacher of some renown, with him for some fun in his bedroom. Maybe he'd discover them lying side by side on the living room sofa.
Thank goodness that Jason has settled into a stable relationship, reflected Daniel patting his portly belly, and he doesn't seem to be spending so much time in 'Opium'. The wimmin down in the Cowgate come in all shapes and sizes!
Daniel began to feel sleepy. He always enjoyed his hypnagogic states. His favourite blue preying mantis raised its head and chased a bunny rabbit into the Depths of Jabba. A strange crustacean peeled itself from the wall and crushed a bulbous-faced spider. A dark green pixie tangled with a huge, snarling ogre. Snarl, snarl, snarl-----.
Daniel woke with a start. What was that snarling outside his bedroom door? It must be Jason playing a game, he thought.
Daniel took off his face mask, and tottered towards his bedroom door.
“Come out, and face the truth about your life,” said a voice.
When Daniel emerged from his room he saw a tall, slender young man, dressed in a Jimmy Hendrix tee-shirt and shabby, half torn jeans, standing rigidly just inside the front door, with a trance-like expression on his exquisitely handsome face.
“You're not Jason,” shrieked Daniel. “Who the Harry Hawke are you?”
The young man pulled a blade from his kitbag, and pointed it at Daniel's throat.
“You must be the imbecile from Devon,” he snarled. “I am the Freegan, and I am here to control you.”
“It's not for you to ask the questions, old man. Wobble your overfed belly into the living room, and sit down by your laptop.”
The Freegan produced two pairs of cuffs from his kitbag, and threw the copy of Devonshire Countryside on the computer desk onto the floor.
“That's to soak up the blood,” he snarled, as he manacled Daniel's wrists to the legs of the pinewood chair.
“Don't you dare touch my laptop!” shrieked Daniel. “I'm adding another post to my blog. It's about the cruel suppression of the indigenous people of Canada.”
“I'll delete it,” snarled the Freegan, twisting Daniel's ears, “and how else do you think you should be controlled?”
“What? You must have heard that I joined in the discussion at the Edinburgh Statistical Society last week. I told them that bad Statistics is a form of mind control.”
“Did you really?” snarled the Freegan, squeezing Daniel's nose. “How else?”
“I'm sorry! I only went to Juicy Burgers last week to try out their gourmet, triple beef-bunger. When they ripped me off for fifteen quid, I joined in the picket outside. It was about how they mistreat their migrant workers, or whatever.”
“How outrageous!” snarled the Freegan, going for broke. “Anything closer to home?”
“Youch!! I did help the Almonds to complain to the Cardinal about how the Missionaries of Mercy flaunt themselves along the Crescent in skimpy gowns. The Cardinal ordered them to wear more becoming, ankle-length dresses instead.”
“Who're the Almonds?”
“They're my do-gooding neighbours in the double-breasted flat downstairs. They sometimes think they run the entire stairwell.”
The Freegan produced a long syringe from out of nowhere. “And so they should,” he snarled, giving Daniel a stiff injection in his neck. “That's flupentixol. It'll make you go completely rubbery while you're spilling the rest of your beans.”
“I don't have any more beans to spill.”
The Freegan grabbed Daniel's hair, and pulled back his head.
“Try me,” he snarled, giving Daniel a tasty kiss on his lips
When the Freegan stuck out his greenish-red tongue it turned into a French kiss, and Daniel thought that he was being asphyxiated by the food waste of North Edinburgh.
When Daniel awoke, sitting erect in his leather armchair, it seemed like mid-morning. His brain felt dummified by the apneatic effects of sleeping away from his APAP machine, his body felt like shit, and there was a sharp pain in the J-spot in the back of his neck.
Daniel yelled, “You all right, Jason?” as he approached his tenant's door.
There was no answer. So Daniel walked in. To his shock and utter surprise, the naked body of a dark-haired young lady was lying spread-eagled on the floor, rigid with rigor mortis, its skin greenish-blue all over.
Daniel recognised the tattoo of the Archangel Gabriel on the girl's thigh. It was Janet.
Where the fuck's Jason? he wondered.
But Jason was nowhere to be seen.
Daniel locked his front door from the inside, and spent most of the morning wondering what to do next. When a letter arrived from the Council marked, 'Open immediately. Urgent', he thought that it was something silly about Jason's housing benefit, and threw it into the trash. When a gentleman with a foreign accent phoned him and said, “Mr. Leotard, this is Micro-Soft. There is something wrong with your computer”, Daniel howled “Phoney!”, and slammed down the receiver.
Michty me! Daniel suddenly agonized. If Jason sees Janet's body when he gets back then he'll think that I murdered her.
Thereupon, Daniel hurried into Jason's room, and dragged the grisly torso into the hallway. After several minutes reflection, he pulled the king-sized bed in his own room forwards and away from the wall. He was then able to hide the victim's body in the space between the headboard and the wall. That accomplished, he covered the body with a dirty, white sheet which he fished out of the washing machine.
TO BE CONTINUED