Splatterhouse - Dark Horizons
Chapter 2: Hitting Bottom
Rick exhaled slowly, trying not to let the anger
build up, as he dialed Manthey's number again, only to get the engaged
tone. After several minutes of fruitless trying, he gave up.
What an asshole! Why did he have to act like
such a child? For Christ's sakes, it was five years ago when he'd
him! Even through these superficial thoughts of anger, Rick knew
that Manthey's reaction had been nothing less than what he
expected. He knew that deep down Manthey had always stuck by his
initial conviction that Rick was criminally insane, and moreover
that Manthey blamed Rick for the death of his partner, Lieutenant
Loker. The fact that Rick had landed Manthey in hospital for
about two and a half years, and had nearly crippled him for
life, whilst under the "control" of the Terror Mask probably
didn't help matters much.
Rick sat down in front of the TV, with the phone
on the coffee table next to him, and found himself dwelling on the
investigation. The Feds had insisted on drawing a veil over the
entire incident, mainly because the only agent who had witnessed
the events at West Mansion five years ago without going insane
had lifted all the blame from Richard Taylor's shoulders and
agreed with Rick's statement. Had it not been for Lieutenant
Loker's testament, Rick would undoubtedly be serving a lifetime
sentence for mass murder, if not sitting on Death Row, waiting
for his last day to come.
So, the FBI had quietly issued orders for West
Mansion to be torn down and converted to a landfill site, and in
official records the only explanation for the deaths of twenty
odd men and the loss of sanity of another eleven was "an unknown
hallucinogenic agent, presumed to be toxic in sufficiently large
doses". No explanation was given for the absence of corpses of
the missing agents, for the number of reports that claimed West
Mansion had burned down in May 1988 only to appear entirely
unscathed in August 1988. Nobody even batted an eyelid at the
fact that Rick alone had managed to survive the ordeal in West
Mansion on that fateful summer's day, nor did anyone ask where
Jennifer had been for the three months she had listed as missing.
Rick had been very angry about the whole enquiry
for some time, mainly because he knew he was utterly powerless to
the outcome. He and Jennifer had been forced to quit their
studies of Parapsychology and Paranormal Phenomena and were
relocated to Connecticut, where they enrolled without difficulty
on new university courses. The FBI had presumably "helped" them
with their applications, Rick mused. There was certainly no other
explanation for how they got into a decent university after
applying at the last minute with nothing much to show for two
years of studies at another institute.
After a few months, however, Rick refused to
let himself think about it too much, knowing that obsessing about
help him. He still studied paranormal phenomena, but as a hobby
now, rather than an academic subject. He had proposed to
Jennifer in February of 1989, and they had been married in March.
A year later, Jennifer had given birth to their son David.
The ringing of the telephone startled Rick from
his thoughts, and he had switched the TV off and pulled the receiver
to his ear before he'd worked out what to say if it was
Lieutenant Manthey, as he hoped.
"Hello, Rick Taylor speaking," he said,
trying to sound as
if he hadn't been waiting for the call.
"Mr. Taylor, this is, uh, Edgar Dempsey.
I'm Lieutenant Manthey's partner at the FBI. I noticed you've been
phone him earlier this evening, and I was wondering if there's
anything I could help with?" came the reply. Rick's mental
balance was momentarily thrown, as he hadn't expected Manthey to
have a new partner, but in retrospect it was obvious.
"Uh, well, maybe. It's to do with a case
that Lieutenant Manthey was assigned to a few years ago," asked
Rick, wondering whether Dempsey was being sincere, or if this phone
call was just
a hoax. Generally he hated speaking on the phone to people he
hadn't met in person - it made it that much harder to judge their
Dempsey went quiet for few seconds, then asked
It's about West Mansion, isn't it?" Rick gasped in surprise, and
went silent for a while, until Dempsey spoke. "Hello? Mr. Taylor?
Are you there?"
"Yes, I...I'm here. How do you know about
that? I thought all the files were highly confidential," Rick
"Cases pertinent to my new partner, you
see. Helps build trust between us if we know what's happened to the
other in past
cases. Is there anything I can do to help with...with whatever it
is that's bothering you?" asked Dempsey, and Rick noted the
quiver of nervousness in his voice. He's trying to prove his
worth to ole Manthey, Rick thought to himself.
"Um, well, it's not something I'd feel happy
discussing on the telephone. Perhaps we could meet for lunch sometime
soon?" asked Rick, as an idea dawned on him.
"How would the day after tomorrow do? I
can catch the train up to meet you, and we can put lunch on my expense
After all, this is an FBI matter," replied Edgar eagerly. Rick
agreed, and Dempsey arranged to phone the next day with his train
details. Rick hung up, and turned the TV back on.
Now, if only that arrogant prick Manthey could
have been that helpful, or that eager to see me. Course, to him I'm
another nutjob, so it's hardly surprising, but I still can't
believe he held on to his job, even after admitting that he shot
me while I was unarmed. Damn it! He deserved that ass-kicking....
He couldn't let himself think like that - he'd
decided when David was born to stop thinking about the power of the
Terror Mask and just move on with his life. It had gotten easier
with time, but it was still difficult. He'd been brought up as a
Christian, with the associated strong sense of right and wrong,
and then the events of 1988 had left his moral compass spinning.
He knew that what he had done to Manthey was wrong, but somehow
that had made it more....appealing, at the time. Manthey hadn't
been an innocent victim, by any measure, but Rick still felt
uncomfortable thinking about it, especially when he had found out
that it had taken Manthey two years to learn how to walk again.
He shook his head, stood up, and walked into
the kitchen, where Jennifer was making dinner, while David played
on the floor
with his toy cars. Rick watched his son playing, trying to empty
his mind of thoughts about the Terror Mask. Just then, David
looked up at his father, a smile on his face, and stretched out
his hand toward him, offering a Matchbox car to him. Rick smiled
back, took the car, and sat on the floor to play cars with his
son. From the doorway, they were the textbook picture of a happy
family. The thoughts going through Rick & Jennifer's heads,
however, weren't those of happy parents.
* * *
Rick waited on the platform for Dempsey's train
to arrive, uncomfortably wondering how to greet him. They hadn't
yet Dempsey would probably know an uncomfortable amount of
information about Rick. It was an awkward situation. He needed
Dempsey's help, that much he knew. How much could Dempsey
realistically do to help him, that was the question.
Stop being so goddamn cynical and pessimistic...at
least it's not that asshole Manthey.
After a few minutes, a notice sounded over the
tannoy, informing Rick that Dempsey's train was going to be half
late. Muttering under his breath, Rick went inside the station to
get a cup of coffee. There was a Starbucks trolley run by a
red-headed teenager with a bored expression, whose nametag
proclaimed him to be one James Green, and moreover exhorted Rick
to have a nice day. Fat chance, mused Rick as James handed him
his latte and change wordlessly, with a scowl on his face, but
Rick was again lost in thought.
It's weird how a person can become your link
to sanity ...and even weirder who that person can end up being. If
thought of it at all before setting foot in West Mansion, I would
have assumed that of all people it would be Jennifer. Instead,
it ended up being David. It might seem stupid, or sentimental.
But he's.......he's my little boy, so innocent, the only thing
about my life untouched by what happened at that house. Jen can't
help me there, because she has exactly the same problem, I guess.
She doesn't even remember most of it, but she saw the monster we
had to escape, that huge.....thing that killed Lieutenant Loker
after we escaped.
I wonder if she has nightmares about it, like I do.
Abruptly, Rick shook his head angrily, willing
himself to stop thinking until Dempsey arrived. He slurped at his
scalding his tongue with it, but the pain took his mind off
thoughts of West Mansion. He wandered back out onto the platform
after picking up a newspaper. He sat down to wait, and idly
flicked through the paper until an article caught his eye.
"Massachusetts sanitation authorities face
Rick stared at it, and read the article with
a feeling of dread in the pit of his stomach. He winced involuntarily
saw the picture, showing West Mansion standing, unscathed. He
assumed it was an old picture, but his jaw dropped when he read
the caption and realised the picture was barely a week old.
"For the last six months the Massachusetts
Sanitation Department has been having severe trouble with refuse
and the problem now approaches crisis levels.
Workers claim that excessive paperwork and bureaucracy has
prevented the management from realising that at least one
landfill site has not been correctly operated.
West Mansion, pictured left last week during the sanitation
worker's protest, was reportedly burned down after a lightning
strike in 1988. No-one has been able to verify the occurrence of
fire, but an anonymous source from the department had this to
say: 'There's something odd about it. The site's been marked as a
potential landfill site for five years, and yet nothing's
happened. I reckon someone high up in the department wants to
claim the land as their own - I mean, it's a pretty nice
property, and fairly expensive too,'.
Other workers are adamant that the site had indeed been
used as a landfill site, but that West Mansion had then been
rebuilt. The State Head of Department had no comment on the
various claims, but said the department is working hard on
finding a long-term solution to the problem."
Rick's skin felt cold. He was frozen to his seat,
he couldn't take his eyes from the picture of West Mansion. Icy
chills ran down his spine as he started having flashbacks. The
thing with the chainsaws for hands amd no skin on its flesh, a
fifteen foot tall monstrosity apparently on sentry duty outside
the mansion, the stench of rotted meat rising in Rick's mind as
he saw the gunnysack tied round the thing's head again, held in
place by a noose that looked impossibly tight round its neck. The
mysterious warehouse where he'd found those babies, all hanging
from miniature nooses, yet not quite dead, screaming and
retching, their eyes burning with the fire of insanity. The
dead - no, not dead, anything but dead, his mind added - things
hanging from the trees in the forest, dangling from nooses,
waiting for a chance to feed. His stomach churned at that
recollection, and he tried desperately not to throw up as he
had done before, the mask hissing its delight at the acrid taste
He remembered chasing Dr. Mueller's possessed
and rotted body through the library while all around him disembodied
furniture, books attacked him. All around him those potassium
bombs exploded, igniting the library and starting a fire that for
the second time should have burned down the house.
Worst of all, however, was the lab. Enormous,
seemingly far too big to be part of the house, it was filled with
Rick could scarcely imagine. Huge crystal chambers in which those
screaming things were ....grown? Hordes of zombies, their flesh
rotting and yet life or some perverted form of it still residing
in the body. Creatures made seemingly by stitching random body
parts together and seeing what happened. There had been creatures
that were all legs, things with no heads, their eyes implanted
into other body parts, wherever they would fit. There was no
question as to how these monsters had come to be - a multitude of
them were stumbling around the lab, operating sloppily on
countless more of them, who lay on worktops, internal organs
strewn loosely around, stitches applied badly to rotting flesh,
barely sufficient to hold the gaping wounds shut....
With a start, Rick realised that someone had
their hand on his shoulder. Instinctively he dashed it away, then
Two men were staring at him. One of them looked fascinated - Rick
assumed this would be Dempsey. The other one was familiar, but
Rick remained silent.
"Richard Taylor? I'm Lieutenant Edgar Dempsey,
and this is, uh, Lieutenant Carl Manthey," spoke the younger
"Oh....uh, hi," said Rick, weakly.
He extended his hand first to Dempsey, who took it without hesitation
and shook it
vigorously, then to Manthey, who hesitated for a second and then
shook hands limply. "I, uh, sorry about that. I guess I just
kinda...zoned out or something, and I've always been a bit
nervous ever since...." Rick trailed off, in the face of
Manthey's stony glare.
"Anyway, shall we go get lunch? I know a
great italian place about fifteen minutes from here, and my car's
outside," Rick continued. Dempsey nodded energetically, but
Manthey said he'd prefer to walk.
The three men walked to the restaurant, Dempsey
placing himself between the two in a failed attempt to deflect Manthey's
evident dislike for Rick. Rick managed to hide most of his
contempt for Manthey, who was too absorbed in his own thoughts to
notice in any case. Rick made generic small talk with Edgar, but
Manthey refused point blank to become involved in the
When they finally arrived at the restaurant,
Rick ordered his usual tagliatelle, while Manthey stuck to a light
("Doctors advised me to go vegetarian....part of my diet," he
muttered) and Dempsey went for lasagne on account of "not really
knowing anything about Italian food". Once they had their drinks
and the waiters had left them, Manthey spoke.
"Well, we all know what the reason for this
luncheon is. I myself think it's a waste of time, but Edgar here," Manthey
nodded toward Dempsey, whose face showed the faintest traces of
annoyance, "reckons that you're the victim, Rick, and that the
FBI should help you. So. What was it that made you interrupt my
otherwise peaceful day and phone me, thereby returning into my
life like an unwanted case of hemorrhoids?" Manthey enquired,
Rick didn't see the point in hiding his reaction,
but he didn't rise to Manthey's goading. "Well, first I'd like
to ask you why you came, since you obviously haven't changed your
conviction that I was guilty of murder, despite the fact that
the investigation subsequently cleared me of all blame and
questioned your judgement," he replied.
Manthey was visibly angered by Rick's jab, and
didn't try and hide it. "That investigation was led by a bunch
of paper-pushing idiots whose field skills wouldn't save a rubber
duck from drowning," he growled. "As for why I'm here, there
only one reason. A man I respected would have been here. It's
that simple," he spat.
An uncomfortable silence descended upon the table,
Dempsey in particular not knowing where to look. Rick knew that Manthey
blamed him unconditionally for Lieutenant Loker's death, and that
the bond between the men had been strong enough for Manthey to
continue blaming Rick until he could exact revenge somehow.
Nonetheless, however much Rick disliked him, he needed to try
and stay on his good side for now.
"I, uh, I was sorry to hear that he," Rick
began, awkwardly, but Manthey cut across him.
"Not sorry enough to go to the funeral,
even after he'd saved your sorry ass from a life in jail," Manthey
"You really think they'd have appreciated
my presence there? His family?" Rick retorted angrily. He could
feel his rage rising, but couldn't do anything to control it. His
were bunching up, and he could remember that feeling of absolute
power, when he had broken Manthey utterly....
"How about we calm down," interrupted
Dempsey, and there was a hard edge to his voice. Rick and Manthey
grudgingly did as
he suggested, muttering to themselves, staring stonily across the
table at each other. Rick wondered what had prompted Dempsey to
intercede when he was clearly over-awed by his partner, and saw
that the waiter was waiting politely with their food.
"The dreams are back again," he said
shortly, once the waiter had left. Manthey stared at Rick, an underwhelmed
expression on his face. Dempsey looked politely confused,
awaiting an explanation.
"And?" Manthey replied, his tone a
little too impertinent for Rick's liking.
"And I noticed this in the paper today.
I think something is going to start happening - happening again,
and soon, so I
wanted to warn you. Maybe you could stop it before anyone gets
hurt this time," Rick said, handing over his newspaper. Manthey
snorted in disbelief, an expression of slight confusion crossing
his face as he read the article.
"I, uh, I don't understand what you mean about dreams," mumbled
Dempsey as Manthey read the article in Rick's paper.
"After the first incident, I was arrested
and taken to the Belmont Institute, as you know. Three months later....the
incident took place, in which Lieutenant Loker was killed. Now,
it's not on record, because no-one believed me, but for a month
before I broke out of Belmont, I had vivid nightmares about the
Terror Mask and the things I encountered in West Mansion. I'm
having those same dreams again, and it worries me," Rick
explained in a low voice. Meanwhile, Manthey had finished the
article, and had scrutinised the photo. He handed the paper back
to Rick and looked at him with scorn in his eyes.
"What do you want me to do, go back to my
boss and say 'Hey chief, Rick Taylor had a coupla dreams and then
newspaper, I think we better send out a coupla SWAT teams so he
can butcher 'em again'?" Manthey asked, nastily.
Rick's temper snapped. He dropped his fork, and
when he next spoke there was iron in his voice. "Yes, actually,
because protecting innocent people is your job. I know you still
it was me who killed those people but get over it. I asked you
for help because I think people's lives could be in danger,
including my family's. You do know what it's like to care about
your family, don't you?"
Manthey's face shut down. Through gritted teeth,
he said in a low voice "Ever since you hospitalised me I've
been infertile. That's the reason my wife left me last year,"
Normally Rick would have backed down at this
point, but something in Manthey's demeanour made him carry on. "No,
I'd guess she left you because you're an arrogant self-centred prick
who refuses to admit he's wrong!"
Manthey didn't reply to that. He put down his
knife and fork very calmly, slid his chair backwards slowly, and
of the restaurant, looking for all the world like a satisfied
Rick and Dempsey watched him leave, in silence.
After about thirty seconds, they both spoke at once.
"I should, um, go and find him," blurted
out Dempsey, clearly uncomfortable about his partner's behaviour.
"Yeah, I was about to suggest it," Rick
replied wearily. The day had not gone according to plan at all. He
face with his hands, then looked up in surprise as Dempsey was
still standing at the table, waiting for him.
"I've sorted out the bill - I could hardly
leave you to pay it. And, uh," he paused, and fumbled in his
wallet, eventually handing Rick a card, "if anything more happens
that worries you, you can reach me on this number. I'll file a
report when we get back, but maybe it's best if we don't keep
Carl informed of every little detail right now. Bye," he
finished, and hurried out of the restaurant. Rick pocketed the
card, an odd grin on his face.
You sly old dog...still, maybe I can use your
ambition. With that thought in mind, he finished his meal, and left.
* * *
That night, when he was lying in bed with Jen,
she asked him why he looked so nervous, so wound up.
"Is it the new job? I mean, we moved here
because the stress from that Wall street job was having a bad effect
your health, but you always seem tired....don't you like it
here? Aren't you happy?" she asked, and Rick could hear the
concern in her voice.
He hugged her tightly, trying to reassure her
without words, knowing that if he had to comfort her with words he
wouldnt be able to, and then explained his tiredness with "Just
been having a few nightmares, that's all. Nothing to worry
about," in a casual tone. Jennifer didn't take it casually,
however. She sat up and stared at him, the fear visible on her
"Nightmares? About....what? Not about the
mask? Please Rick, tell me its over, that our lives have moved on..." she
asked, in a small voice.
Rick realised his folly in telling her. He'd
been scarred by what had happened in West Mansion, but Jen had been
in a totally different way. She couldn't remember anything about
it. For her, it was three months of her life gone, three months
that marked a huge transition in her life, and she preferred not
to think about it, couldn't actually handle thinking about it in
"Of course its over," he said, holding
her close, stroking her hair as he did so. "It's over, finished.
The house burned down and whatever evil lived their has gone to hell," he
said, with as much conviction as possible. She seemed satisfied,
for she hugged him back, then kissed him delicately on the
They lay back, Jen lying in Rick's arms, and
presently she fell asleep. Rick couldn't sleep. He kept having visions
things he had seen then, and he couldn't shake that fear that it
would all start again soon. Eventually he fell into a troubled
sleep, his last thoughts praying that hsi wife and child would be
safe if the horrors of their past came back again...
* * *
A wordless scream, a raw guttural noise, split
the silence of the night, causing panic and some minor heart damage
only person who heard it - Jennifer Taylor.
"Rick! Rick! What's wrong, honey? Are you
okay? Rick, wake up!" she babbled. In desperation, she punched
him in the ribs, hard.
"Ow! What?..Oh...Jen, I....it was a nightmare.
I'm sorry I woke you...it was just so....real," Rick blurted,
clearly relieved to be awake, yet still not fully conscious. He sat
and pulled Jennifer to him tightly, unwilling to let go of her.
"What were you dreaming about?" Jennifer
murmured, her face pressed against Rick's chest.
"Oh.....it was a nightmare.....I dreamt
that you and David were.....taken from me," Rick said.
"It's to do with that house, isn't it?" Jennifer
said, the undertone of resignation in her voice changing it from
question to a statement. Rick winced, and hugged her more
"I'm sorry, hun. I want to move on as much
as you do, and most of the time it feels like I have....but just
sometimes...my dreams....I don't know why, but occasionally they
come back," Rick explained, feeling certain she wouldn't believe
"But why? We already relocated once to try
and get away from ...from that...you quit your Wall Street job and
here, to try and relax, to be able to enjoy our lives without
the shadow of West Mansion hanging over us. Why can't we do
that? What did we do to ask for this?" Jennifer said, and by
the end of it she was crying, silent tears welling in her eyes
and trickling down her cheeks.
Of course, he couldn't answer her. He was as
baffled as she was when it came to figuring out why West Mansion
assumed control of their lives twice before, but he balked at
the idea of explaining to his wife that evil could be
motiveless, that perhaps they had been victims of convenience,
chosen because they were to hand.
"I don't know, baby. I don't know. Maybe
it's one of those...post-traumatic stress disorders, like the Vietnam
veterans had....maybe I just need a holiday," he finished,
planting kisses on Jennifer's head, trying to comfort her.
She seemed to relax slightly at the mention of a holiday, and
he knew this was the way to calm her down.
"In fact, yes, a holiday...I've got a few
weeks of holiday time I can claim, and we could go away, go to Europe,
Mediterranean, just soak up the sun, as far away as can be from
all our cares," he whispered in her ear, kissing her neck in
between words. She shuddered, and sighed in pleasure. She pulled
him back down to lie next to her, and Rick fell asleep in her arms.
This time, Rick's was a dreamless sleep.
When she was sure he was properly asleep, Jennifer
pulled free from his arms, and reached toward her drawer. She pulled
small plastic bottle from it, and shook a couple of heavy duty
sleeping tablets from it and swallowed them dry. Never gonna
move on from the problem if you don't face it, muttered a voice
in her head, but she ignored it.
She hated the dreams she had been having lately,
all vague, yet focused on the idea of her not being there anymore.
and Rick seemed to get on quite happily with their lives, but
there she was, trapped in some alternate reality, a parallel
dimension or something like that, able to watch them but never
communicate, and she knew that must have been something like what
her three month ordeal was.
She couldn't remember any of it. She remembered
the trip up to West Mansion and that was it. She supposed it was
sort of mental defence mechanism. Which was all very well, but
she had still ended up on Valium, which she was ashamed of, and
had hence not told Rick. Well, how could she? Particularly not
when she was, well, inches away from actually having a physical
affair with the therapist that she was still seeing, also without
Rick's knowledge. He seemed to think that she had had a totally
passive role in the affair, as if she'd let herself be taken for
three months because it seemed like a bit of a laugh or
something. He didn't understand how it had affected her except
in the most rudimentary way, although at least he wasn't hiding
his weakness to it, so he would understand when, or more
likely if, she ever decided to tell him about it.
However, it had meant that he had been somewhat
blunt about her stopping her visits to Dr. Malcolm, her therapist,
was where the problem had started. She'd found it easier to lie
to Rick and keep seeing Dr. Malcolm in secret than to actually
face her problem without his help, and once that wedge was in
place, her closeness to Rick had started to dissipate, and
comfort had been readily available from Dr. Malcolm, who seemed
all too eager to listen to her talk about how her husband didn't
But you won't tell him, will you? said that little
voice in her head. You dropped out of your university course and
Rick become the money-earner, and you have to depend on him, and
for someone who had to stand up to Senator Willis and convince
him to pay for her university education when he wanted her to be
a secretary, that's not a comfortable position. Hiding the
pills....its not about the pills. It's getting used to keeping
secrets from him, because deep down you want to drive him away
from you, so that you're forced to find your independence again.
No! I love him. I do! I love him and I love David,
and I'd do anything for them, but sometimes I feel like......they
have some bond that excludes me. As if I intrude in the all-male
She shook her head as if to rid herself of her
doubts, and rolled back into Rick's arms, trying to forget the nagging
voice that kept reminding her of the bottles of pills in her
* * *
Rick awoke early, waking from a dreamless sleep,
yet feeling oddly uncomfortable, as if he had forgotten some ghastly
event of the previous evening. His nightmare came back to him,
and though it lacked its previous intensity, he felt a pang of
foreboding when he glanced outside. The sky was grey with clouds.
The storm would probably break that night, as the weather
forecaster had been predicting for a few days, and David was
still afraid of lightning. Rick himself was still afraid of
storms, if they were big enough. Enough epic thundering rain and
sky-splitting lightning, and he would be plunged back into
memories of West Mansion.
To hell with that.
He decided, there and then, he was going to exert
his will on the day. He was going to make good his promise to Jennifer,
and by the night they would be flying to somewhere in the
Mediterranean, on their way to a holiday away from storms and
nightmares, to spend the days lazing in the sun on the beach. He
glanced at his alarm clock, and saw it was now coming up to
seven. He decided to make Jennifer breakfast in bed as an unspoken
apology for waking her. He got up quietly and showered, making a
mental list of his tasks for the day, trying to work out all the
arrangements that would need to be made.
After he had made Jennifer and then David breakfast,
Rick wolfed down his own breakfast down and headed off to work, to
discuss his holiday leave with his boss. There was no real
argument he could make against Rick taking his holidays -
everyone in the office had noticed his recent increase in stress
and generally haggard appearance when the nightmares had struck.
At the end of the day, Rick would be a more productive worker
once he'd recharged his batteries, which suited the company just
fine. Four weeks of holiday leave were duly booked, effective
Rick felt an enormous relief when this was done.
He spent the day making arrangements with co-workers and clients,
sure that no accounts would be ignored, trying to ensure that his
absence, while it would be noted, wouldn't drive any clients
He left work half an hour early, to head to the
travel agents. They were only too keen to help him decide where he
going, given that he was evidently affluent, had offered to pay
in cash straight away, and was willing to pay the extortionate
prices that inevitably went with last-minute holiday bookings.
He eventually decided on a quiet spot on the Greek coast, with
temperate weather but an absence of the obese ignorant tourists
who seemed to roam the world these days.
So it was that Rick drove home with something
like happiness beating in his chest, looking forward to just getting
away. While on his flights of fancy, he began to imagine a life
where they moved to Europe, and finally left behind the legacy of
West Mansion, but deep down he knew that if he did that, he would
be running away from his problem rather than overcoming it, and
the concept of running away was not one close to Rick's heart.
He was so absorbed in his musings that he didn't
realise, as he parked in his driveway, that all the lights in his
were switched off, and that the house was quiet. He didn't pick
up on this until he reached the front door. As he opened it, a
cold wave of panic struck him. Perhaps the power had gone off? A
glance at other houses up and down the street discarded that
idea - all their lights were on. Maybe a fuse had blown, he
thought half-heartedly, knowing that Jennifer was perfectly able
to change a fuse.
Maybe they've just ....fallen asleep, thought
Rick, trying not to panic, realising as he did so that he already
knew what he
thought was going on.
Stepping inside, he hung his coat on the coat-rack,
and shivered. The heating wasn't on, either. Definitely something
going on. His mind had gone icy numb, and he was wandering
through the house, as if his brain were running on autopilot. He
checked each room in turn, switching on the lights, to try and
get rid of the empty feeling that permeated the house.
As he returned to the living room, having switched
on all the lights, it occured to him to check the answerphone, in
there were a message there which might laughably explain the
entire situation. He switched on the television, to get rid of
the eerie silence, and checked the messages.
A crack of lighting split the sky in two outside,
and a loud rumble of thunder shook the windows. Then the lights died.
Rick cursed, and wondered what to do. He turned to go into the
kitchen, intending to pick up a torch and change the fuses in
the basement. As he turned, a flickering light in the corner
caught his eye, and for a second Rick wondered if the television
was still working. Then he turned and looked at it.
The Terror Mask was on the screen, seeming to
stare straight through Rick. Its eyes flared with a glowing , pulsating
darkness, and thick blood oozed slowly from its mouth. Then it
spoke to him.
Come out, come out, wherever you are.
Come on, Rick, you know you want to come and
play with me. One more round for old time's sakes?
"You! I knew it was you! You took them,
didn't you?! Why? What do you want?" screamed Rick, unsure whether
fear or anger was the stronger emotion. Had he been capable of rational
thought, he would have opted for anger, but at the time,
rational thought was beyond him, and emotions were all he knew.
I didn't take your wife and child, Rick. That
much I assure you - what use could I possibly have for them?
"You tell me!" spat Rick, angrily.
He stepped towards the television, forgetting his fear for a moment.
Once again, you need my help, Rick, and I need yours.
"What do you want from me?" asked Rick,
immediately suspicious. The Mask had never gone into detail why it
Rick's help, why it suited the Mask to help Rick save Jennifer
from whatever it was that haunted West Mansion. Rick had never
asked, because previously he hadn't had time, but now, he decided
it might be important.
The one you defeated before has returned from
the void where we imprisoned it. He is more powerful than before,
reasons too complicated to explain right now. Your enemy is not
simply the soul of Herbert West, nor was it ever. A much darker
evil has been summoned, and most worrying is the fact that
whoever summoned him provided him with the Dark Stone.
"The Dark Stone? What's that?" asked
Rick, wondering if this was some sort of hallucination.
You have heard of the Rosetta stone, famed to
be a belonging of the Devil? The Dark Stone is....similar. Its proper
name is the Heart of Cihuacaotyl, but those who know of it
call it the Dark Stone or the Bloodstone. It holds quite
extraordinary powers of unique origin. It is believed to be a
relic of one of the Aztec War Gods. Jennifer has been taken
again, but more importantly so has David.
Rick's stomach lurched. "What?! David -
Were you not aware that your child has quite
pronounced psychic powers? David's abilities will help to unlock
of Cihuacaotyl, Jennifer will create a new body for this ancient
evil. Once he has a new body, it will be too late. You cannot let
him succeed, Rick. We both have too much to lose from such an
"I know what I stand to lose. What about you?" asked
Rick, still suspicious.
My reasons are my own. There is ...bad blood
between myself and the ancient one, shall we say.
"Sounds more like a petty rivalry, " muttered
Rick, then continued "but I don't have any choice, really. Where
have they been taken?"
He is still weak, and cannot move from West Mansion.
He has followers who do his bidding, and they have taken Jennifer
and David to West Mansion. I am also waiting for you here. Hurry,
With those words, the Terror Mask disappeared
from the television, which promptly switched back on, along with
lights. The sudden burst of sound confused Rick for a few
seconds, and he sat down. As he stared at the television with
glassy unseeing eyes, the Mask's words sank in.
He leapt up and ran to the cupboard under the
stairs, throwing the door open and rummaging inside for a few seconds,
emerging with a baseball bat clutched in one hand, a strange
lopsided grin on his face. He donned his jacket, all set to go
out, then a thought struck him. He went back to the living room,
picked up the phone, and dialled Dempsey's number.
Engaged. He tried again, and then again, then gave up.
He rang directory enquiries, and obtained the
number for the FBI missing persons helpline. Within thirty seconds
gotten through and reported his wife and son missing. The
condescending operator at the end informed him that because they
had not been missing a full twenty four hours, a proper manhunt
could not be initiated. The condescending tone stopped when Rick
told her in no uncertain terms to inform Lieutenants Manthey and
Dempsey of the turn in events.
He hung up, and dashed outside to his car. Almost
as soon as he started the engine, thunder rolled and rain started
pour, not light drizzle but serious rain, sheets of it. Rick
flicked his lights and windscreen wipers to full, and pulled
away, leaving an impressive tire-mark.
* * *
Damnit! Damnit! Why me? What the hell is so special
about me, about us? Why can't they just leave us alone? mused Rick
he drove recklessly fast through the rain. The storm seemed to
be following him. Rick didn't trust it. He'd seen storms like
this before. Twice before. He was sure that West could control
the weather somehow, though he would never admit this to anyone.
And that asshole from the FBI. "We must wait 24 hours" my
ass. If it hadn't been under the Official Secrets act, it'd be
ok. But of course, only Manthey knows what really happened, and
he doesn't believe me anyway.....
Deep down, Rick was ashamed to feel an old emotion
stir. A pang of guilt flashed through him as he realised he was looking
forward to this, to wearing the Terror Mask again. To forgetting
his life for a while, forget everything except the thirst for
blood. He would save Jennifer and David.
David.... My little boy. Psychic, according to
the mask, but my little boy nonetheless. And Jen....I'll save you
from that monster West. Tonight my questions will be answered,
and that madman can go back to hell or wherever it is the Mask
sent him last time.
I will succeed.
He spotted a sign on the road side, West Lake
5 miles, and then accelerated. He knew the mask would be somewhere
Meanwhile, Lieutenant Manthey was driving as
fast as he dared towards West Mansion, wishing he could remember
his Dangerous Driving Training Course, and cursing the operator
at the Department for Missing Persons, who had finally gotten
in touch with him on his portable phone.
"Didn't you think to ask him his goddamn
name?! Oh, you did, huh? Well then why the hell didn't you think
it through the computer? Oh, you did. I forgot. That's why
it's two damn hours since he phoned and I'm still the only
person who KNOWS WHERE HE'S GOING!! YOU PEOPLE MAKE ME WANT
TO PUKE!!" he bellowed into the phone. He fell silent, breathing
hard, trying to see through the driving rain.
"Sir? Are you still there, sir?" enquired
the voice of the evidently cowed operator.
Manthey took a deep breath, then spoke. "Get
as many agents, SWAT teams, ATF teams, anything, as many of them
can to head down to West Mansion, in Belmont, Massachusetts.
Tell them to read the Splatterhouse case files on the way. Don't
let Senator Willis know his daughter's missing again, for
Christ's sake. Oh, and get hold of a Dr. James Turner from the
Belmont Home for the Emotionally Troubled, and get him up to
West Mansion as well. Anything comes up, you can get me on this
number. Oh, and phone Edgar Dempsey and tell him to get his ass
in gear," he finished, and hung up.
So, Rick, what's it gonna be? he thought to himself.
Why in the hell did you contact me? What's this game you're playing,
Rick? Whatever it is, I'm going to beat you. You're insane, and
I will beat you. You picked the wrong man to toy with, I know
Manthey glanced at the passenger seat, where
he had a bulletproof vest, along with an assault shotgun, a rucksack's
worth of ammo and a spare handgun. A Desert Eagle, to be precise.
His trusty Glock was still in his underarm holster, but he
wasn't taking any chances this time. He was going in armed to
Yeah, Rick. I'm going to take you down. This
time, I'll be the one who walks out alive and well....and you'll
be the one
consigned to hospital. You'll be broken, exposed for the monster
you are, and you'll pay for taking Loker from me.
His phone rang again, distracting him from his reverie.
"Manthey here - what is it?" he asked,
"Carl, you dick, it's me, Edgar. Why in
the hell didn't you tell me what's up? We're partners - that's supposed
that I don't have to wait for the Missing Persons Department to
phone me and tell me that something's going down," came a
petulant voice from the phone.
"I didn't have time. I'm on my way to West
Mansion, which is where you should be headed too," said Manthey,
probably not realising how patronising he sounded.
"You, me, and about fifty SWAT teams. There's
two teams on the way, who'll be there within five minutes of you
and then there's another seven or so who'll probably get there
within another fifteen minutes. I'm about ten miles out from the
place, but the rain's pouring down like a motherfucker and I
don't know the road, so I'll be about five minutes. How far away
are you from West Mansion?" asked Dempsey.
Manthey went quiet. Dempsey cursed, silently,
and then spoke.
"God-damnit Carl, would you stop acting
like such a fucking child! You have made it excruciatingly obvious
not up to the standard of your old partner, and I put up with
that, but I'm your partner now, and I refuse to let you get
yourself killed on some heroic suicide mission. We lost more
than thirty men with Richard Taylor last time. So don't be such
a fucking idiot, and wait for me. And if you call me Dempsey
instead of Edgar when I get there, I will be forced to black
one of your eyes for you, if not both of them," shouted Dempsey,
and then hung up. He glared through his windscreen, as if daring
the rain to challenge him, and floored the accelerator,
relishing the surge of the engine.
Manthey had done likewise. He wasn't sure why,
but since Loker's death, he had been adamantly against the idea of
with a partner. Even when he'd been assigned Edgar Dempsey, an
up-and-coming hotshot with a bright future, he'd been less than
keen. He'd claimed he didn't want to lose another friend, but he
wasn't sure that was the reason.
But it's not that, and you know it....came a
quiet voice from the back of his mind. He tried to silence it, but
unable to. Angered, he stamped on the accelerator, realised he
was approaching the corner to West Mansion Road far too fast,
and tugged recklessly on the handbrake, executing a near-perfect
handbrake turn onto the road. After a few hundred yards, he
stopped, not far from the spot where Rick had battered him into
a coma several years ago.
Memories started to flood him, images of the
last time he had been here, Loker next to him.....
Stop thinking about it.
He remembered shooting Rick.
He remembered Rick, wearing the glistening mask,
somehow still standing, even though Manthey's spine was alive with
hot guilty knowledge that he'd just shot him in the head.
He remembered Rick coming towards him, impervious
to bullets.......and then, nothing.
A siren's wail banished the silence, and Manthey
checked his rearview mirror. It was Dempsey. Manthey got out of his
and wandered to where Dempsey had pulled up.
"Evening, Edgar. Nice of you to show up," spat
Manthey, but there was a grin on his face. He opened Dempsey's door,
when Dempsey got out, Manthey offered him his hand. They shook
"What's the current ETA for backup?" asked
"About six minutes for the initial crew,
which'll be two SWAT squads, but within twenty minutes we'll have
two squads, along with three ATF teams," replied Dempsey. "What
you packin'? I don't believe you came up here with that old
Glock of yours and nothing else."
"Naaah, Old Faithful's with me, but I fetched
an assault shotgun and a coupla Eagles as well as a vest," replied
They donned their equipment, Manthey noting that
Dempsey had armed himself heavily, with two MP5's as well as his
Evidently he had done his reading on the splatterhouse case...
The SWAT teams arrived on time, and they prepared
to head once more into West Mansion. May God protect us, prayed Manthey
fervently. He suddenly had an image of Loker leading his men into
the house, not knowing what lay ahead of them, and he crossed
himself, before leading the way.
* * *
Rick awoke, lying facedown on the road. He sat
up and his hands flew to his face, feeling the smooth contours of
He looked around him, and realised he was able to see in the
dark. It was monochrome, but it was night-vision. He dimly
recalled this from his previous experiences with the mask. He
stood up, tentatively, trying to get used to the new sensations
the mask made available. Extra sensory perception had nothing
on what the mask could do for you.
"What happened?" he murmured, looking
around him. He saw his car a few yards away, on the side of the road.
door hung open, and the baseball bat lay next to it on the road.
Some half mile away lay the front door to West Mansion, buried in
You arrived here, I summoned you and...possessed
you. It is perfectly normal not to remember the possession process....
it's not pleasant.
Rick nodded slightly in acknowledgement. The
mask spoke again, a noiseless voice in his head.
We havent got much time. You will face an army
of followers in this house, and Jennifer has once again been attacked
Boreworm, while He tries to use David to unlock the powers of
the Heart of Cihuacaotyl.
Rick's heart skipped a beat at that thought.
He clenched his fists, arched his back, and roared. He ran to his
slammed the door shut, then picked up his baseball bat. He
turned, slowly, to face the house. Then he charged into the
forest, where Sleepers dangled from the trees. He felt a surge
of adrenalin as the first one of them snapped at him, trying to
get a grip on him, and he turned, bat swinging freely, thirsting
* * *
The government agents were about two miles from
West Mansion's rear entrance when they heard an ungodly howl split
night. They stopped, unsure of what to do, until Manthey shouted.
"Come on, damn it! There's over thirty of
us! We can take 'em!" he cried, trying to stop his voice from
shaking. With that, he started moving againtoward the house. Dempsey
was the first to
follow, but the rest soon followed suit. After half an hour of
stumbling, running, and occasional screams and gunfire as they met
the horrors that had returned to the forest, they had reached the
rear entrance, but couldn't hear anything from inside due to the
noise of the storm. Manthey signalled that Dempsey should kick it
Before he could do anything, it burst open of
its own accord, and several monstruous creatures flew out, landing
untidy heaps outside. They had long necks, four legs, and long
spiked tails, along with dog-like heads, but there was no skin
on them, the muscles exposed and glistening. The agents bristled,
and the night was again alive with the sound of gunfire, as round
after round was pumped into the recumbent creatures from
thirty-odd different guns.
It was Dempsey who first noticed more movement
at the door, but Manthey's trigger finger was almost as fast. All
could see was the gleaming, bone-white of Rick's mask, and a
mixture of terror and rage pulled the trigger back. The shots
missed, since Dempsey had thrown himself into Manthey, knocking
the two of them to the floor. They picked themselves up, Manthey
grumbling under his voice, and then noticed that Rick was
carrying David in his arms.
"Ah, Carl. Still as trigger-happy as ever, I presume?" asked
Rick, and his voice was deep, resonant and confident. Manthey's face
flushed, but he kept his silence. Rick
wordlessly summoned Dempsey, who stepped forward, nervously.
"You seem to be more sensible that Carl
here, so I'll leave David with you. Take him somewhere safe, you
Rick, and Dempsey nodded. He turned to David, and took his hand,
and the two of them set off to go back to Dempsey's car.
Rick glared at the assembled agents. "You
no idea what you will confront in this house. If you stay, you're
on your own," he said, in a stony cold voice. He walked inside,
and they heard his footsteps running into the house, looking for
* * *
I realised much later that memories were....different,
when I wore the mask. Things seemed more intense, more vivid.
Perceptions were greatly heightened, and when I was able to
think my thoughts raced along much faster than usual. Sometimes
I would perceive things without knowing how. Like in that awful
outhouse, with those dead babies hanging from the roof....I
somehow knew what had happened there as soon as I set foot in
that room, without there being any way for me to know. And
yet.... any actions undertaken while wearing the mask would be
remembered at best vaguely. It was as if I was looking at the
world though stained glass, trying to remember what happened
when I had the mask on. Most of the memory is a sense of loss
for what you can't remember.
I haven't a clue how long I was fighting those
things in the house, but I would guess hours....I know I went through
every floor, and eventually ended up in the attic, where
minions had built a new laboratory. I found them, and .....
It was horrible.
They had Jen there, tied to a table, but she
was... different. Her skin was pale, her eyes had rolled back up
her head, she was twitching....and her stomach was massively
bloated. As I watched, she gave birth, screaming in agony as
she did so, and with all due reason, for the thing she gave
birth to was huge, the size of a full-grown man. The mask told
me this was the product of Boreworm infection. It was too late
to save Jennifer, and the ancient one had his new body.
I....screamed, but no sound came out. The thing
stood up, opened its eyes, and looked at me. It spoke, and its voice
the voice I had last heard coming from Dr. Mueller's mouth, the
first night I set foot in West Mansion in 1988. It laughed at
me, and then it attacked me.
We fought for I don't know how long, but it could
have been seconds or hours.....I was angry, raging, tears streaming
from my eyes, the mask lapping them up, and using any part of
my body to fight this thing. I ceased to care what happened to
me, so long as that monster died with me. Fists, elbows, knees,
ankles...whatever it took, so long as it didn't stand up again
after I was done with it.
Eventually I found myself on top of it, sitting
on its chest, banging its head into the floor. I noticed something
vacant about the eyes....and realised it was dead. That was when
the numbness set in. I suddenly remembered David, outside with
Dempsey, waiting for Daddy to bring Mummy back, and I almost
Then the mask spoke to me.
Excellent work, Rick! Now I can take His power,
and together you and I will become more powerful than any other
creature on the planet!
I stared, numb, in shock. I didn't understand,
at first, then it dawned on me. It had made me lose Jennifer deliberately,
because it needed to know if it was possible to create a new body
for itself. Cold realisation trickled into my mind like icy
water. Any alliance with the mask would be futile - I would
eventually be cast aside, like a snake shedding its skin.
Jennifer was lost, and it was beyond my ability and the mask's
interest to save her again.
Or maybe I don't need you any more, Rick.....maybe
you have outlived your usefulness.....
As it spoke to me, I felt the mask loosen, tethers
of glowing darkness stretching from it toward the defunct corpse
the Boreworm child that He had inhabited. I heard a grunt of
surprise, and realised that, while the mask had reanimated the
thing, it couldn't let go of me completely. I didn't question
why, I just lunged again into the attack, destroying the monster
It wasn't easy, the second time. The mask had
abandoned me, or tried to, and what remained of its power was a fraction
what I had been using all along. Moreover, my body was tiring,
and the mask's incarnate form had powers it had never bestowed on
me. It was using psychic attacks, as well as physical assaults,
and for a few seconds I feared I wouldn't leave the house alive.
I swung one last punch, knowing I hadn't the strength to go on
any longer, and miraculously, it was enough. The beast collapsed,
as did I.
I don't know how long I lay there. All I know
is that it was dawn when I awoke, and the mask was gone from me.
I picked up
Jennifer's sleeping body, and carried her downstairs, where an
ambulance was waiting. This time the SWAT teams had been more
careful, and had waited for back-up before going in, but there
were still many injured, and several unfortunate souls had died.
However, I couldn't feel much pity for him. I was too busy
trying to work out how my life had fallen apart so suddenly.