He had no desire to explore further, he just wanted to find the kid and the doctor then get the hell out of here.
The thought of going back to the car and tear-arsing it back to the station came to him but he couldn’t leave the kid in the hands of the psycho who was conducting these macabre experiments.
He reached the house proper and found himself in what looked like a normal front room. There was a small TV in the corner and bookshelves against the far wall. A few photos sat among the books.
Wells took a quick look and recognised Laverick in one of them, his arm round the shoulders of a small boy who looked on the wrong end of the mortal coil.
He saw a couple more of Laverick with similarly ill-looking kids.
He was carefully studying each of the photos when the sound of crying from upstairs made him spin and head out into the hallway. His torch beam played over the floor at his feet as he set off up the stairs. The crying was coming from one of the rooms to his right on the upstairs landing.
That’s got to be the missing kid, he thought. He held the torch in an unsteady hand, sending the light flashing around the stairs wildly. He tensed his arm ready to attack with the torch.
His eyes quickly flicked across the landing, seeing nothing but dusty floorboards and unpainted walls, before he turned his torch to the door from behind which the crying was emanating. It was soft sobbing, almost like the person crying didn’t want to share their sorrow with the world outside their door.
Wells gulped, unprepared for more obscene sights like those he’d found in the garage.
He turned the key that sat in the lock, took in a deep breath and shoved the door open.
A small, pale child was curled up in a ball on a filthy mattress in the far corner, sobbing his heart out. He didn’t seem to notice as the torch beam flicked over his tiny frame.
‘Are you ok?’ Wells said.
The boy’s crying abruptly shut off and he turned to face Wells, staring up at him with tear-rimmed eyes. He nodded solemnly and beckoned Wells forward.
‘Shhh, he’ll hear you,’ he whispered, his voice laced with a fear that Wells found contagious.
A floorboard creaked on the landing just outside the door. Wells spun, the torch beam picking out the shape of a second child who lurched forward on unsteady legs like some unholy hybrid of Frankenstein’s monster and Tiny Tim.
‘They’ve heard us,’ Caleb cried.
While Wells shone the torch on the doorway, more dark shapes rose up from the gloom. He swung the torch around, picking out the faces of children. Most of them were deformed, one even had a fully articulated bottom jaw like that of a ventriloquist’s dummy. He let out a maniacal laugh as his jaw jumped up and down, making harsh clacking sounds as the teeth hit together.
More children came in through the doorway.
They all moved towards him, staring at him with a cold detachment that made it clear they wanted to hurt him. He swung the torch at the nearest one, further splitting a hare lip that ran most of the way to the kid’s nose.
Warm blood splashed onto his hand.
The torch beam picked out the figures who shuffled ever closer. There were about a dozen of them now, freakish things that were as pitiful as they were terrifying. He lashed out with his feet, knocking one of the unfortunate children to the floor.
His booted foot crushed the skull of the floored child, but it stood up, its lopsided grin never wavering.
He turned to Caleb, wanting to protect the boy as best he could, but Caleb was smiling now. He held a kitchen knife which he thrust at Wells’s leg with terrifying speed. The blade sunk into Wells’s thigh, making him cry out.
The ventriloquist dummy kid’s mouth clacked together again, the maniacal laugh issuing from his deformed lips.
One of the other kids dragged the stump of his right leg behind him, but his hand was a murderously sharp pincer which he sunk deep into Wells’s knee.
Wells tried to drag himself forward, but his knee buckled. The flashlight rolled out of his grip, wedging against the mattress where it cast silhouettes onto the ceiling.
He saw the shadows of tiny heads and arms as the children crowded around him, eager to be the one who administered the killing blow.
The knife that Caleb held glinted in the light, the shadow of the blade projected on the ceiling by the flashlight’s beam. Wells lashed out, his fist breaking the jaw of a toddler girl whose eyes were just empty holes in her head. Wells rolled to his side, but the ominous children fell upon him, pinning him with their numbers and their freakish strength.
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