“Too Quiet” – Excerpt from The Matriarch: Guardians

GuardiansRightfaceebookcover2014It was too quiet. A burglar would have left already once they realized there wasn’t anything to steal that wouldn’t require a moving van and a crew. Deciding to risk being seen rather than stumble into things, Hector clicked on his Maglite.

“Nash?” he called out in a whispered tone.

The front room contained a few tables next to a counter top with a doorway into the back room. Chairs and empty boxes were stacked everywhere, little towers of furniture in a precarious obstacle course. There was a couch in the back where Nash had crashed before.

Hector’s foot slipped when he took a step in that direction. He recovered his balance before he could fall; something slick was on the floor where it shouldn’t have been. The light revealed a red streak.

It looked like blood.

Droplets had been splashed along the tiled floor leading into the back. As he followed them with his flashlight, the spillage was more severe, like someone bleeding out. Hector’s first instinct was to run into the back and see if Nash was all right, but something felt off, a sense of danger that tempered his urgency. Taking his light into his left hand, he shoved his right back into his pocket and closed his fingers around the gun’s grip.

He started to imagine Nash with a knife wound or worse, afraid to go to the hospital or having passed out before he could phone for help. Maybe he was smart enough to know that the alarm would go off and that help would come, but that was more intelligence than he was willing to attribute to his brother.

Peeking around the corner, he saw a body collapsed on the floor. The man was tall and thin, sprawled out with smeared blood on the floor all around him; glass and the torn label from a smashed Jack Daniels bottle was next to it. Hector took his right hand out of his pocket and turned the person’s head toward him.

It wasn’t Nash. Who the hell was it?

A sound like a wet slurp drew Hector’s attention, prompting him to draw his weapon.

He shined the light across the room, seeing the old black leather couch pulled out – something was crouched down behind it. More of the smeared blood stained the floor in front of it, like a body had been dragged across it, someone other than the corpse he’d already found. The thing behind the couch moved, but whoever or whatever it was didn’t seem to notice the light or make any effort to react to its presence.

GuardiansRightfaceebookcover2014“Nash?” Hector called out again, louder than before.

The back of a person’s head raised up as Hector stepped closer. He could see that whoever it was had another person in their arms, a woman maybe, and her throat looked like it had been mangled.