There are places in this world which are magnets to evil and violence. Peth Vale, the large, secluded house on the hill at the edge of Marshton town, is one such place.
There is probably a similar place in most towns, a place that parents forbid their children from visiting, where those same children will cower, yet dare each other to enter.
Peth Vale is variously known as: ‘A portal of evil,’ ‘Hell’s gates,’ and ‘The Murder House,’ depending on which of the superstitious locals you were to ask.
Rumours say that the house is haunted, and it may well be: enough lives have ended here to justify that claim. Others say that blood taints the land the house stands upon, a curse forever to be repeated.
Some of the more imaginative locals have reported hearing screams and depraved laughter from Peth Vale during Marshton’s long nights.
You may dismiss this as urban myths, bogey man stories, but, on the days before today, their ears have not deceived them: the screams and laughter have been real.
This is not the first time in Peth Vale’s short history that the house has been a site of horrific violence. It will doubtless be the last too, but those are stories for another day, for it is with one particular spate of horrors that we are concerned.
Peth Vale, which sits in expansive gardens, is currently ablaze; the fires illuminating its many windows making them look like blazing, infernal eyes. The air is thick with petrol fumes and smoke, which rise from Peth Vale’s roof in a huge black column.
The house continues to burn, the flames which crackle and consume its frame helped by a light southward breeze.
The air soon fills with sirens, as the police arrive at the scene and cut the hefty chains that secure Peth Vale’s iron gates. The gates creak open, allowing the crime scene team to flood into the grounds of the burning house.
What they find there brings more than one meal up and out of the stomach of its host, to lie, steaming, in the damp grass. Peth Vale’s paved side yard is awash with blood, some of it mere hours old. Two trails lead across the patio, ending near a row of dirty white tiles.
A fingerless, decomposing hand sits in the corner of the patio, among the dried blood. A severed noose hangs from one of the trees, the loop from it lies a few feet away in the grass, blood drying on the thick strands of rope.
One of the officers follows the twin trails of blood, past fresh blood splatters, towards the swimming pool. The water is filthy, with a red tinge to it.
Just visible through the murk are black cylindrical forms at the bottom of the pool. The smell from the stagnant, bloody water causes the policeman to gag and lose his supper.
The police drain the water from the pool and start to drag the black, weighted tarpaulins out, storing them on the poolside before they are unwrapped.
There is a corpse inside each one, most of them horrifically mutilated. They all look as though they have died very recently.
By this time, the fire brigade has reached the scene. They are too late; the house is beyond salvation.
‘Best thing for it,’ states one officer, who is in the midst of discovering his second Peth Vale crime scene.
Two firemen venture into the burning building and drag out one more body. This is the worst of all. Although badly burnt, the body is still recognisable as being female. The head has been severed and the skin removed. Arguably, it is this body that has the most significance to this tale.
It will take the police all night to catalogue the crime scene, then transport and identify the bodies.
By the time this is done, they will already have apprehended their main suspect, allegedly a death-masked, merciless killer seeking bloody revenge on all who have wronged him.
But there is more to this tale than first meets the eye.
And that is the end of the story, years after this all began.
Instead of observing the police’s brutal interrogation of their suspect, let’s hear the events which led to this bloodbath.
Let’s hear about the real killer and his becoming…
Part One – Hunted
Becoming: To come, change or grow to be
The dying October sun was shedding the last of its blood onto the dark clouds above Marshton town as Rhonda Williams pulled her car onto the driveway of her detached home.
Cursing, she realised that the bin men had recklessly left the bin across the bottom of the drive, in such a way that she’d have to get out and move it before she could park up. Raindrops spattered the windscreen as she opened the door.
‘Just great,’ she hissed, putting one of her work files over her head to shield it from the concussive force of the falling rain while she hauled the bin back to its usual position by the back door.
As she dusted the stale dirt from her hands, she noticed that the kitchen light was on. ‘Lazy little bastards,’ she hissed, realising that her son, Mark, and her sixteen year old daughter, Hannah, were home and hadn’t been arsed to put the bin back. ‘How many goddamned times do I have to tell them?’ she muttered as she got back into the car.
She parked the car in front of the garage and got out, again sheltering under the file as she used the light from the boot to search for the correct key.
With it in hand, she pulled the bag of shopping from the boot and moved to the door.
She inserted the key and turned it, feeling a strange sense of something being wrong.
The bottle of sparkling wine in the shopping bag clinked against the door as she fumbled and dropped the key.
Then it struck her what was wrong: eyes were crawling over her skin like dozens of tiny spiders. She looked round and saw no one.
Muttering angry words beneath her breath, she put the bag down and bent to pick up the keys.
As she concentrated on the key, a gloved hand lifted the lid of the wheelie bin next to the one she’d dragged back along the drive.
She heard gurgling laughter then the bin lid slamming shut.
She jolted and spun to face the source of the noise. Her entire body shaking with the fear that pulsed through her, she grabbed the lid of the bin.
Pulled it up.
A white-painted face stared up at her. The eyes were painted with black crosses, the nose was a black circle and the mouth a dark grin that seemed to stretch from ear to ear. A shock of fuzzy black hair sat atop the leering face.
She froze in her confusion.
Rhonda’s heart leapt into her throat as the clown let out a low, disturbing chuckle then stood up from the bin. Her eyes were drawn to the cleaver in the clown’s hand. It was dripping with blood that looked black in the fading light.
The clown’s first step towards her shocked her into action. She picked up the bag of shopping and turned the door handle. The hinges squealed as the door opened. She pulled the key out of the lock and forced her trembling body through the doorway.
She slammed the door on the clown’s arm which was reaching through the doorway.
Tried to force the door shut but the meaty limb blocked its path.
She screamed as the clown barged the door with his shoulder. His black- and white-painted face appeared in the open door. Thinking fast, she pulled the wine bottle out and swung it at his head.
The bottle exploded, showering glass and fizzing wine everywhere. The clown stumbled back just enough to allow her to get the door shut.
At first, her shaking hand missed the keyhole but finally the key sunk in. She lifted the handle and turned the key, just as the clown hurled himself against the glass.
To her relief the glass held, but she knew that it wouldn’t last forever.
The clown’s face pressed against the window, distorted by the pressure he was exerting on the glass. His wounds left small slicks of blood down the window. He let out an insane laugh that would stay with her as long as she lived.
She rushed away from the door, eager to take her eyes from the hideous spectacle. She let out a low groan as the strip light in the kitchen flickered and went out, plunging the room into darkness.
A bang on the kitchen window made her jump. She could picture the clown braying his fists against the glass, trying to force his way inside.
Putting him out of her mind, she instead concentrated on reaching her kids and making sure they were safe.
The next blow on the window went right through her.
She let out a panicked sob and made her way through the darkened house.
The hallway carpet was wet and sticky, but she couldn’t see why. She called out to her children.
Silence greeted her calls.
A clinking sound came from above her.
‘Mark, is that you?’ she cried out. The noise came again, startlingly loud in the silent house. ‘Hannah?’
The braying on the kitchen window had ceased. The absence of the noise should have been a relief, but it wasn’t; at least with the noise she had known where the clown was.
She flicked the light switch at the bottom of the stairs. It didn’t come on. Her shaking legs carried her to the telephone stand near the front door.
The house was eerily silent, the only noise the occasional clinking sound from above her head.
Her nostrils picked up a smell that was familiar but hard to place. She ignored this for now, as the jumble of her thoughts had more important things on which to concentrate than working out the origin of a strange smell.
Her shin slammed into the telephone stand. Cursing, she reached under it for the small torch kept there for emergencies. Shook her head in disbelief when the torch failed to work.
Another brief rummage in the telephone stand produced a small candle which was held onto a plate with melted wax.
She found the match box on top of the plate and flicked a match against the scratch pad. The match flickered into life, offering a brief respite against the oppressive darkness. She lit the wick on the candle and turned to face the stairs.
The scream tore from her gut as she saw the body swinging from a chain attached to the bannister. At first she thought it was Mark, but then she realised that the body was thicker and longer.
It was the body of Alan, her husband.
The chain was fastened around his ankles, suspending him upside down from the bannister. He moved a little, creating the metallic noise that she had heard earlier.
Alan’s throat bore a ragged wound which was choked with clotted blood which left trails from his throat, over his head and onto the carpet. Dark blood was congealing on his forehead and in his hair. Thick trails of it were matted into the carpet, leading down the stairs to the corridor.
She realised that the heavy coppery smell was what she had smelt earlier.
She stared at her husband’s blood-spattered corpse for what felt like hours. Finally she tore her eyes from his body, but everywhere she looked she was reminded of his fate. The carpet, walls and even the ceiling were splashed with thick blood spray.
Her heart sank when she realised she was going to have to pass him to see what fate had befallen her kids.
Alan’s corpse swayed a little as she set foot on the stairs. It seemed like he was trying to get her to acknowledge his death.
She blotted it out as best she could, keeping her eyes glued to the blood-drenched carpet. It was hard to believe that a body could contain so much blood.
As she moved level with him, the chain again clinked with his movement. The candle light cast everything in a dim glow, making the everyday abnormal and macabre.
She found her gaze drawn to him and the whites of his eyes that bulged out of the crimson mass that was now his face.
Looking away, she forced her shaking legs to move past him, crying out when his body nudged against her. The cold, sticky feel of his lifeless flesh both saddened and sickened her.
Finally she was past him, and she ran up the stairs to prevent herself from looking at him again.
On the landing the candle flickered in the draught from the open bathroom window. She felt a sense of utter dread at the realisation that the window was open as it meant the clown had had access to the house while she was fucking around trying to find a candle.
She rushed into the bathroom, slamming the window shut. The noise was reassuring and unsettling at the same time.
The dim light from the candle revealed a shadowy form behind the shower curtain.
Oh, God, it’s him, he got in while I was downstairs, she thought.
But the shape seemed smaller than the clown had been.
Her left hand held the plate with a white knuckle grip. A chill ran through her, in spite of the heat that the candle provided.
Her palsied right hand gripped the shower curtain.
Without waiting to prepare herself for the scene behind it, she yanked it back.
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