Lights Out on 35th Street

A small town Sheriff and his Deputy question a woman involved in a massacre of 23 people in the dead of night. The tale she tells is out of this world leading them to wonder how far fetch is it?

Sheriff Jimmy Corgan threw down his stack of case papers needing to be filled out, leaned back in his chair, and slurped the last of his coffee from his yellow smiley-face mug. The sheriff’s office at Precinct 193 emptied out earlier in the day to have both police on the streets because of Christmas Eve or home with their families. Quietsville was a small town not needing many police officers for it’s twenty thousand population. The sheriff was a tall man, broad shoulders, and a habit of wearing those stereotypical cowboy hats because they made him feel legit. He hadn’t seen a case like this in his fifteen years on the job. At least not since his wife died on the street that appeared on the top case on the stack. The street labeled 35th Street.

He looked down at the street name flabbergasted. Sheriff Jimmy hadn’t thought of 35th Street in eight years and wish he had another stack of papers instead. Eight years ago, December 20th, his wife, Marie, drove home from work and came to encounter a ditch that she would be dead in once her car swerved off the road, falling inside killing her. Particulars of that case appeared off, like the ditch on the other side of a guard rail, and no signs of flipping over the guardrail. In fact, the guard rail remained untouched. It baffled investigators and Sheriff Jimmy then as much as it did now. Jimmy avoided driving by 35th Street.

The first page of the case, the one labeled 35th Street, had a paragraph describing the case summary. It read “Case 2543. December 19th. 2309 35th Street. 23 people killed around 11:58 pm. Various victims found with open slashes around their bodies, some with entire limbs ripped out of their sockets. Cuts on victims’ foreheads resembling ten circles with an ‘X’ through the final, smallest, circle. Victim appeared to fall from an extreme height noting their body damage. No buildings higher than twenty feet were nearby. Unknown how victim received falling damage.”

Sheriff Jimmy sat the case down on his desk not bearing to continue reading. He only read through the summary and already it was beyond belief. His deputy told him a survivor sat outside his office waiting for him to question. The witness was a woman. Sheriff Jimmy peered to the bottom of his coffee cup and nothing good ever came from an empty mug like nothing good came from an empty beer bottle.

“Sherriff, what do you think?” His deputy, Alvan, asked. Deputy Alvan stayed in the office because he was a short, chubby, sort of officer who couldn’t cut it in the field but had a knack for being an intellectual and idealistic but not brave enough to do detective work himself. Deputy Alvan stuck with Sheriff Jimmy behind the doors of the office and took care of anything Sheriff Jimmy needed taken care of. The sheriff stared at his desk in contemplation. Part of him felt the case could be, or would be, dry. Whoever, whatever, killed that many people in the dead of night he doubted with their small town resources they would find the maniac. The other part of him felt that no man could have done this. Nothing that existed on this planet seemed capable. What beast can kill fifteen people without alerting witnesses?

“Sheriff?” Alvan repeated. With a wave of his hand in front of Sheriff Jimmy’s face, the sheriff looked at his deputy.

“Sorry, just dozed off I guess. This is a big one. And I’m not sure how to proceed.”

“The biggest one we’ve ever had. What do we do?” The sheriff stood and asked Deputy Alvan to get the woman inside to question her. Sheriff Jimmy waited, staring at the wall. He had a framed circular picture. It contained a globe of infinite devils and angels holding hands by the painter Escher. Sheriff Jimmy liked to think it meant the world was made up of both bad and good guys but probably meant that sometimes you had to ask the Devil for his help even if you don’t want to.

The woman walked in followed by Deputy Alvan. She was tall, curvy, and a brunette with a beautiful flowered blouse – well it would be beautiful if it weren’t covered in blood. Other than the blood, and the fact that she wasn’t in the hospital, she looked otherwise okay. The sheriff sniffed fresh blossoming roses. “I’m sorry about what happened. How’re you doin’ mam? I know it’s tough but we have a few questions about what happened,” Sheriff Jimmy asked.

“Fine, fine.” She lied brushing off the question. Of course she was terrible, how could she not? Blood covered her and her face mascara dripped down her cheeks from tears. “Is Harrison okay?”

“Harrison? You know, we can get you a doctor still, mam, it’s not too late.” 

“You don’t need to call me mam every five seconds,” she said. “Where is my Harrison?”

“Dead… I’m sorry to tell you. Was he your boyfriend, husband?” Sheriff Jimmy twirled his mug and winked at Alvan. 

She sobbed into her hands. “Harrison, we were going to be married.” She continued coughing.

“Alvan will bring you something to drink,” Sheriff Jimmy said. “What’s your name, miss?”  Alvan finally caught the wink and tilt of the Sheriff’s empty mug and left to get refills and something for the woman. She coughed uncontrollably amidst her endless crying.

“Lacey, Lacey Wilbright.” She sat in the chair quietly staring at the wall her eyes landed on the Escher painting. Sheriff Jimmy continued to ask her questions to soften her up until he asked her about what happened at 11:58 pm last night. He waited until Deputy Alvan came back holding three cups of coffee with his short stubby arms.

The following is the information gathered by Sheriff Jimmy. The woman, Lacey Wilbright, told the Deputy and the Sheriff about last night. She and her fiance, Harrison Smith, went out to a musical for a date and afterward drinks at the strip of college bars. They left their house at 6:28 pm to catch the 7:30 pm musical. It lasted two hours. They left the opry hall at 9:39 and wandered to the bars nearby. Another two hours of drinking they left the Hooded Jacket bar at 11:48 pm, their receipt said they checked out at 11:46 pm. The woman went delirious, Sheriff Jimmy and his deputy thought, and the notes strenuous to read Alvan wrote down.  At 11:58 pm they heard a loud screech that brought their hands to their ears without thought then were attacked by a flying beast with a skeletal body, ever-expansive and shrinking wings like bat wings resembling a slinky, and the head of a saltwater crocodile. She detailed her story the Sheriff thought but clearly insane. She said three winged beasts flew at the group of people. One of them killed a lady wearing a pearl necklace next to her by biting her head clean off. Must be where the blood came from splashed on her blouse, the sheriff thought.

“At first, they were random, charging to each of us but once they got close, once they smelled you, they went for you. The other two flew to the others, no that’s not the right word, they teleported to the other people. It’s like they sniffed out their prey and went straight to them. I’m not sure how I got away, why they left just me.” She paused. “The lights went out. Not like, a flip of a switch, but the lights died. The lights went out in agony.”

“Teleported? The things teleported?” Deputy Alvan asked. She nodded with tears falling onto her lap. “How do lights die?” The lights in Precinct 193 flashed. Sheriff Jimmy glared outside to see snow falling.

The woman sobbed and said, “I’m not sure but that’s how they went out.”

“Give us a sec, miss. We’ll be right back.” Sheriff Jimmy rose and beckoned his deputy to follow him outside the office. He grabbed the case file on his way out. The devil-angel painting was replaced by another Escher painting of an impossible building on the moon and space with a Devil-smirking duck in multiple places staring at the camera. None of them in the room noticed.

Sheriff Jimmy turned to Deputy Alvan, “What do you think?”

“I’d say she’s nuts. But Sheriff, you didn’t see those bodies. Limbs were pulled from their sockets. A few of the bodies looked like they dropped from a twenty-story building. I remember what the bodies looked in class from falls, and that’s what they looked like.”

The sheriff listened while he read the report. If you dropped all disbelief from the mind, sure, an ever-changing winged skeletal beast with a crocodile head, three of them, flew around the town eating, ripping limbs out, picking and dropping people around just for shits and giggles. It was crazy. Nonsense. “What do you think, Sheriff?” Deputy Alvan asked. Jimmy thought for a moment, waiting as if time stood still. “Sheriff?”

“I’m not sure Alvan. I think we need to talk to her again. Then head to the crime scene.”

“How do you think those people died?” Deputy Alvan leaned against the wall, folded his arms, staring at the linoleum tile.

“Well, I won’t know until we go but I think if she’s telling the truth we have a killer creature on the loose that we need to take care of. Maybe kill.” Sheriff Jimmy said everything with much uncertainty yet not understanding why this lady would lie. “Call Earnest, get a report from him. He was there last night, see if he can stop by again and see anything new. Anything fresh.”

“You got it.” Deputy Alvan called Earnest to transfer Sheriff Jimmy’s request. The snow continued coming down. The light disappeared outside.

They went back in the Sheriff’s office to talk to Lacey Wilbright. Upon entering the office the woman had her head laying on the table. She was asleep. “Mam, we have a few more questions for you,” Sheriff Jimmy said.

“I toldya don’t call me mam.” She raised her head up. Upon rising, she noticed the beautiful painting on the wall. It was a strange blocky structure with a line – clones, of a man wearing an elves hat laughing, dancing, and smiling on his way down. She coughed.

“How long did…the attack last?” Sheriff Jimmy asked. Unsure if he should refer to it as a massacre, he landed on attack instead.

“Five minutes,” she said. Sheriff Jimmy frowned. How could twenty-three people be slaughtered in five minutes? He had read reports of various massacres, even in Vietnam, and without weaponry it seemed impossible to do damage of this magnitude without a gun.

“And what did you do?”

“I hid under a big white truck. The beasts flew around. Their wings screeched like glass scratching against glass. My ears bled! I couldn’t cover them enough. The screams even got through. The screams!” She sobbed into her hands again. “Oh, Harrison! Why did you run? But it was too late, they sniffed him out…” The woman paused, almost in meditation. “Oh my god they sniffed him out! They sniffed him out!” She panted, looking desperately around the room.

“Sheriff,” the deputy said. Lacey Wilbright clasped her hands to her face. Her hands were squeezed with obvious pressure on her head like they were trying to breakthrough. “Mam, it’s okay, release your hands.” 

The Sheriff rose and grabbed one of Lacey’s arms but they wouldn’t budge. She spat out blood. Her arm was remained stiff as a steel beam. It wouldn’t budge.

“Sheriff, we need to get her help!” Deputy Alvan said. The sheriff pulled on her left arm with both of his but it wouldn’t budge, her head was squishing and veins were popping.

“No time for help, grab her!” Sheriff Jimmy said. The deputy jumped over the desk to grab Lacey by her other arm and tug it down freeing her of her own grasp. Lacey finally released her arms banging her head on the desk. Deputy Alvan held her head to the table with his other arm. Sheriff Jimmy looked up. The painting on the wall represented a mirror chessboard with griffins circling a giant ball. It was endless.

A tall man with a slim build but scars on his face barged in the office. “Sheriff! What’s going on?” The man came further in the room with apprehension, unsure of what to do.

“Get me some handcuffs, Earnest, quick!”  Earnest sparked up pulling out his handcuffs from his belt to strap Lacey to the desk. He grabbed Deputy Alvan’s cuffs to restrain her other arm to the other side of the desk. Lacey finally quieted and calmed down. “What the hell happened, Sheriff?”

The sheriff relaxed, comforted about the restrained woman to his desk. “This woman went deranged and tried to kill herself.” The three men were all apprehensive but relaxed.  The woman remained still on the desk. “Tell me about 35th Street. He sipped his coffee looking at the painting. A Mobius strip of black and white men walked in circles until they encountered each other.

“The men we left there to watch the scene… were gone.” Earnest’s face drained of color. “Vultures were there eating on the bodies of the twenty-three victims” 

“What vultures? Why weren’t the victims bagged and removed?”

“I’m not sure Sheriff, it doesn’t make sense. But the vultures… weren’t really vultures. They were large beasts, it was dark and snowing, I could not capture a sight on them with the lights out on 35th street.” Earnest quieted. “They made this strange glass scratching sound before flying off.”

The sheriff and Deputy Alvan exchanged glances. Lacey awakened, looking up. “They want more.” She kept her voice low with a whisper.

“Want more what?” Sheriff Jimmy asked.

“More food.”  Lacey looked at the three men with tears dripping on the desk. Her face frowned and dropped in fear. She shook her handcuffs once and leaned her head back on the desk without hope.

The three men looked from the woman outside. The snow fell with fury. Light reflected off the snow brightening up the parking lot. They heard a screech that brought their hands to their ears. With fear Sheriff Jimmy looked back at the painting. Metallic caterpillars crept up and down a complex impossible staircase. The Penrose steps of complexity made into a house for the caterpillars.

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