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Blood Rites

We have a few sayings here in the Gutter. Our favorite, No good deed goes unpunished. Followed a close second by ... some doors aren't meant to be open.

You can add a third to that mix: Maybe Tipper Gore was right.

Blood Rites by Mark Slade

Rita stood in her backyard in the pouring rain as Officer Davenport tried to jimmy the lock from the shed. He was on his knees, in the mud, in his new uniform pants. She didn’t like the language he used when the lock wouldn’t open. Rita would cringe every time Davenport blurted an obscenity. This was shed number three he had to break into after a call he received about some bones washed up in a neighbor’s yard earlier in the morning. There was nothing unusual in the other two sheds. Unless power tools and junk from a previous garage sale are considered suspicious. Davenport chuckled to himself when he relayed that to his sergeant. The sergeant didn’t find it humorous and quickly suggested Davenport was trying to get out of finishing the search because he was a lazy son of a bitch. He was ordered to check out the last shed. Why couldn’t a bolt cutter be in either one? It was getting late and Davenport wanted to get home and have five or six beers.

“I’m real sorry, ma’am. Usually my partner, Meredith, is on time with this sort of thing,” he said, wiping rainwater from his already drenched face. “And the bastard has my cutters too. Oh, I’m sorry, ma’am. Excuse the language.”

Rita just flashed a quick smile and nodded. Her expression soured when Davenport cursed again. “I’m not too sure what was in this one. Henry never let me in this one. He was a very hard worker most of his life, so I never questioned his privacy.” She pulled her plastic rain bonnet closer to her forehead.

“Maybe he had a tall redhead stashed away—oh, sorry, ma’am. I didn’t think before.”

“That’s alright, Officer. I knew you were making a joke.”

“How long had your husband passed, ma’am?”

“Six months.” Rita struggled to say the words.

“It must be hard, ma’am. Being alone now … after all these years.”

“Yes.” Rita bit her lip and lowered her eyes. “It has been difficult to manage things lately. Our neighbor’s son, Rodney, helps me out. Of course he used to help Henry quite a bit. They were very close.”

“Are you sure you don’t have the key to this thing?” Davenport removed his hat and poured out the rain that had gathered around the brim.

“No, I’m afraid Henry was the only one that had the key,” Rita said.

“This lock is awful rusted. My God, when was this thing made? 1924?”

“He did say it was old.”

Davenport jiggled the thin file in the lock, heard something snap. The file itself had broken off. He held the bottom piece between his thumb and forefinger, examined it. “Motherfucker!”

Davenport smiled sheepishly. “Sorry, ma’am.” He stood and sighed, then looked up at the sky. “I don’t think it’s going to let up. I don’t know where the hell Meredith is. He has my bolt cutters.”

“Maybe we should go inside and dry off.” Rita patted Davenport’s arm.

“It’s getting pretty late, ma’am, and the sergeant wants me to wrap this up. You know most of the force is at that school shooting that happened at Wilcox West High this morning. The suspect is still at large. So everyone is tied up. Weird how all this happened on the same time. I guess I’m going to have to take the door off the hinges.” Davenport reached in his coat pocket and produced a screwdriver.

“All right, Officer. You do that and I’ll get us a cup of hot coca.”

Davenport went to work on the door and in no time had the hinges off. He placed the screws in his wet trouser pockets and the hinges in his coat pocket so as not to get them mixed up. He stepped inside the shed, flicked the switch on and a light flashed a few times before burning the low level bulb. A pungent smell filled the shed. Davenport covered his nose and mouth.

Candles sat on a table dressed in a white tablecloth decorated with symbols Davenport thought he’d seen once on a CD cover for a heavy metal band. On the wall behind the table was a blood-smeared quote in a language he didn’t recognize. In between those candles was a large, gold-plated book. It was open to a page that had passages handwritten by what looked like a quill. Again, it was in a language that Davenport hadn’t seen before, did not understand, except one word.


“Oh shit,” Davenport said. “We’re dealing with a cult here.” He took a step and heard a crunching sound. He looked down and saw the floor was made of bones. Human and animal. Beside his left shoe, he saw a badge and the name on it. He gasped.


Something splashed behind him. Davenport turned and saw a teenage boy steadying a .45. The boy fired two shots before Davenport could even draw his weapon. Both bullets caught the cop in the chest. He fell on his back in the shed, the bones underneath him rattling.

Rita appeared and stood beside the boy. She handed him a cup.

“Would you like some cocoa, Rodney?”

“Thank you.” Rodney accepted the cup.

Officer Meredith stepped from behind the shed, and came to stand beside Rodney and Rita.

He glared down at Davenport.

“So the end begins.” 

Mark Slade’s work has appeared in Flash Fiction Offensive, Dark Fairy Tales, We Walk Invisible, Demonic Tales 1 – 3, and other publications. Horrified Books published A Six Gun and The Queen of Light in 2013, and Death Throes published Hellspeak earlier this year. He lives in Williamsburg, VA, with his wife and daughter.