* * * *
He saw light flickering in the archway on the other side of the room. Someone was coming down the steps.
Annette Brite. Naked Annette Brite. Naked and gifted with the body of a complete sex goddess Annette Brite. Hutson stared at her wistfully. He’d thought she might be hiding a knockout body beneath that voluminous velvet dress, but the reality beat even his desire-fuelled imaginings. She had gorgeous long legs and a pair of tits a reality TV show sleb-wannabe would sell her mother for. Her skin was a little pale, but it suited her exotic features and was far easier on the eye than the gaudy fake tans favoured by the orange people.
He was less aroused by the occult symbols daubed all over her exposed flesh. The markings were dull red in colour. It could be paint but Hutson didn’t think it was. She was still wearing that necklace of wooden beads. She carried a torch in one hand and a long ebony staff in the other. In the flickering light she looked like an albino aboriginal witchdoctor.
The feral savage look didn’t really suit her, in Hutson’s humble opinion.
What a crying shame. Hottest bod he’d ever seen in the flesh and its owner was a complete fucking nutcase.
God, you’re a dick.
“Hello studmuffin,” she said, giving him a smile.
“Hi,” Hutson waved his hands out of the top of the manacles. “It’s normally the blokes that have to resort to the Rohypnol, you know.”
“It’s crude, I know, but you wouldn’t believe how hard it is to bring men back here.”
“It’s not exactly the Playboy mansion,” Hutson commented.
The pool in the centre burbled again as a couple of bubbles broke the surface. An odd smell came from it. Hard to describe. Not rot, not decay, not chemical, but bad. Nasty.
And that definitely wasn’t a jacuzzi, Hutson thought.
“I don’t suppose I can get that massage now?” Hutson asked. “These manacles are buggers on the wrists and shoulders.”
Brite paused. Her full lips pursed and puzzlement flashed across her eyes.
Good. That’s what he wanted. He wanted her knocked off balance. He wanted her to worry she might not be as fully in control as she thought she was. Plus, it was what all the cool dude heroes did in the face of danger in the big Hollywood movies.
“No, I’m afraid not,” Brite said. “But don’t worry, you’ll find tonight’s activities to be equally as pleasant, I’m sure,” she added, leaving the innuendo hanging in the air.
I Was Forced To Take Part In Satanic Orgy! Says Local Man.
“As long as you have condoms,” Hutson said. “I always practise safe sex on the first date.”
Another puzzled look from Brite.
“You’re being very flippant,” she said. “Do you think this is a dream?”
It took his mind off the fact his insides felt like ice-cold porridge. It was taking nearly all of his willpower to stop himself from shitting streaks of thin diarrhoea across the stone floor. He wondered if the cool dude heroes of Hollywood movies ever had that problem.
“No, I’ve been kidnapped by a crazy bitch who wants to sacrifice me to the Flying Spaghetti Monster’s evil twin. But I don’t let anyone intimidate me. Only my old man gets to do that and he’s been under the ground for over a decade now. Where’s the rest of the Manson family anyway? Shouldn’t your little coven be showing up by now?”
Those were the questions Hutson asked, but what he really wanted to know was: How long have I been out?
Brite smiled. She recited some gibberish words that sounded like no language Hutson had ever heard before and banged the base of her staff on the stone floor. He’d told her he wasn’t scared of her, and he tried to tell himself the same thing, but there was something really wrong here. It was more than her obvious craziness or the weird symbols daubed on both the stone surfaces and her flesh. It was something he couldn’t quite put his finger on, like his senses were trying to scream something through a thick glass window and he couldn’t quite hear them. There was something not right about her.
More bubbles welled up to the surface of the pool and popped with oily plops.
And that rancid pool gave him the fucking willies.
“You do realise if you stab me through the heart you’ll suffer three simultaneous heart attacks,” Hutson said, trying to bolster his flippant front.
Puzzlement again, then Brite gave a little giggle of laughter.
“Ah, the Wiccan Rule of Three,” she said.
“I thought you’d be aware of it, being the leader of the local Wicca group and all that,” Hutson said.
“It’s a sweet religion,” Brite said, “but the fate of the sweet is always to be crushed by the cruel. My true religion is older and darker.”
“Older than Christ?”
“Older than man.”
Hutson knew it was nonsense, but felt an icy chill slither through his guts nonetheless. His eyes widened, briefly cracking his shield of flippancy before he wrested back control from his primal fears. Meant nothing. Crazy people always sounded convinced of their crazy beliefs. It’s why they were crazy.
How long had he been out?
She recited another occult verse and punctuated it by banging her staff down on the stone flagstones lining the edge of the pool. More bubbles welled up and blopped at the surface.
Coincidence, or some kind of trick.
“Older than man?” Hutson queried. “Are you seriously trying to tell me Cthulhu himself or one of his mates is going to rise up out of that pool and crush me in his slimy beard tentacles?”
He tried to show his derision through laughter. He couldn’t keep the unease out of his voice and it came out too high-pitched—brittle and panicky rather than smooth and dismissive.
Her naked body. What wasn’t right with what he was seeing?
“That’s all makebelieve,” Brite told him with a smile. “An American writer made it all up and other writers copied him.”
She recited more ominous gibberish and banged her staff on the floor. Hutson couldn’t pick out her words. Even though she’d said them mere moments ago, they slipped straight from his mind. It was as if his ears and brain found them so abhorrent they rejected the sounds and dismissed them from his memory.
More bubbles were streaming up to the surface of the pool and popping with noxious burps.
Burps. That was a word to use. And farts. Children’s words. The mangy pool was plurping and garargalling. Pretend he was Ricky Gervais inventing stupid animals and calling them stupider names. Twist her insanity and see it for the ridiculousness it was.
Hutson couldn’t keep out the atmosphere of dread. It seeped through his skin and crept up his bones. The sludge in the pool sloshed about like something was moving below. Something big. Even though he knew it had to be nonsense, he couldn’t shake the feeling that some vast and indescribably malevolent entity was rising up to the surface. Coming to claim him.
Stop it! Stop scaring yourself.
Brite raised her staff again.
Okay, that was enough. Time to play his hand.
* * * *
Why the title "Slugjob"? Uh . . . um . . . no particular reason . . .
*reads a little further*
Oh dear fucking god! What the fuck was I on!? Imagination, you're sick! Sick, I tell you!