Pairings/Characters (this chapter): Mel/Johnny, Red/Homer, Harry 'Pete' Pierpont, Charles Makley
Fandom: Public Enemies
Genres: AU, Challenge, Drama, Holiday, (With A Touch Of Horror), Mystery, Romance
Rating (this chapter): Mild 'R'
Warnings: Brief description of hanging suicide victim
General Summary: A decaying old house in a genteel Chicago neighborhood is the site of many strange and disturbing happenings. Special Agent Melvin Purvis is sent to investigate.
Chapter Summary: The House shows its true colors.
Date Of Completion: October 4, 2010
Date Of Posting: November 6, 2010
Disclaimer: I don’t own ‘em, Universal does, more’s the pity.
Word Count: 1627
Feedback welcome and appreciated.
Author’s Notes: Written for my 2010 Guns_Fedoras Public Enemies Fic/Art Halloween Challenge. :)
All chapters can be found here.
"The Dark Corners
Of The Mind"
Mel started to turn the knob of the front door.
“Now, darlin’, you wouldn’t go back into that house without me, wouldja?”
Mel jumped and whirled. “Johnny, damn you!” He frowned as Johnny lazily traced a finger along his cheek, noticing his gang on the walkway. Red popped gum, resting an arm on Homer’s shoulder. Pete and Charles looked amused.
“Safety in numbers, sugar.”
Mel was happy to see Johnny, and the gang as well. “Let’s go, then.”
“Right with ya, Sunshine.” Johnny took Mel’s hand.
Mel smiled, then opened the door.
“Wow, some joint,” said Homer, craning his neck as he looked around the foyer.
“Wow, that chandelier looks like it’d be worth a pretty penny,” said Pete.
“What are we lookin’ for?” Red asked.
“Anything unusual,” answered Mel. “Did Johnny tell you what happened to Officer O’Grady?”
“Yeah,” Homer shivered. “Poor guy got really scared, huh?”
“Yes, and the authorities want to find out what happened.”
Homer was going to say something else but Red nudged him in the ribs.
“Let’s split up into pairs,” Johnny said. “We can cover more of the house.” He took out a flashlight and the others did, too. Thunder rumbled closer, and wind gusted, shutters banging against the house.
The men moved out, Pete and Charles heading toward the right of the staircase, Red and Homer going to the left, Mel and Johnny ascending the staircase.
Charles grimaced at the dilapidated condition of the kitchen, looking at the cobwebs and dirt and rust. “Whatta shame.”
“Huh?” asked Pete, his tall shadow flickering on the walls in the light from their flashlights.
“This place. Got some nice stuff.”
“The chandelier was good. This place has a rusting pump and stove.”
“Yeah, but this stove is vintage Victorian. Might bring some bucks on the antique market.”
“For an old stove?” Pete scoffed. “Nothin’ special about that. My grandmother cooked on one of these monsters.”
“I dunno, Pete, antiques are a big business nowadays.”
“Colonial stuff moves, not Victorian.”
“Victorian does, too.”
A thump interrupted the argument. They looked at each other, then Pete pointed to the pantry and Charles nodded. They drew their guns and Pete yanked open the door.
Both men gasped as a flash of lightning illuminated the room.
Homer jumped at the flash of lightning and grabbed Red’s hand, the bigger man grinning. He affectionately squeezed his lover's hand.
The dining room was decayed splendor, the heavy mahogany furniture layered in dust, and the chandelier hanging over the table was in the same condition as the one in the foyer. The eeriest part were two candles in their holders festooned with cobwebs, like two sentinels standing silent and spooky.
You’re getting’ poetic in your old age, Hamilton. He smirked. Bet Mel would know some real poetry. He sure classes things up. Johnny did real good picking him.
He and Homer walked to the parlor. The furniture was shrouded in dropcloths, giving it an even spookier appearance than the dining room. Heavy drapes hung crookedly on tarnished brass curtain rods, and the fireplace held only long-cold ashes in the grate. The marble mantelpiece was chipped, half of it missing as thieves had managed to cart away some of it.
“This room gives me the creeps,” muttered Homer.
Red couldn’t disagree. The house was definitely on the creepy side, especially if you considered the history of the place.
The lightning flashed again, accompanied by a thunderous crack. Red jumped and heard Homer yelp.
“Whew, that was something, huh, Homer? Homer?” Red flashed the light around but he didn’t see anyone. “Homer! Homer!”
Red continued calling as he searched. Shaken, he decided to get Charles and Pete to help him look. He hurried through the foyer and burst into the kitchen.
“Pete! Charles! Damnit, don’t play games with me! I gotta find Homer!”
He ran a hand through his strawberry hair in frustration.
Johnny played the light along the corridor and the photographs/paintings. “Hmm, grim-lookin’ bunch.”
“Most Victorians were, at least in photographs. They had to stay still with the old-fashioned cameras for several minutes.”
“That makes sense.”
Johnny’s hand was warm in Mel’s grasp. It lent him a sense of security, not to mention engaging his affections. A small smile played around Mel’s lips. Johnny was a very protective man, and Mel appreciated it. It had been a very long time since anyone had cared enough to play mother hen.
“We’ve already checked out the room at the end of the hall. Better investigate the others.” Mel jumped slightly at the loud crack of thunder and flash of lightning, Johnny tightening his grip on Mel’s hand.
“Wow, guess that storm got here after all,” Johnny drawled.
“Yeah.” Mel froze. “Do you hear that?”
“Yeah.” Johnny frowned. “Sounded like moaning.”
Mel glanced out the window. “Wha…?” He went closer and went cold as he saw something…or someone…dangling from the old oak tree in the backyard. Johnny cursed softly as he looked, too.
Mel and Johnny whirled. “That’s Red!” Johnny said. They unclasped hands and Johnny began to run, Mel keeping up with him. At the top of the stairs, Johnny called down, “Red! What’s goin’ on?”
Red was nowhere to be seen. Cursing softly, Johnny tugged Mel along as they clambered down the stairs, heading toward the kitchen.
“Red! Where are you?”
Johnny and Mel stopped at the entrance, the lightning illuminating the kitchen.
Red stood by the stove, despair on his handsome face. A small pool of light shone on the floor from his flashlight as he held it loosely.
“Red, where’s Homer?”
Red looked at his old friend. “He’s gone.”
“What do you mean, gone? And where’s Pete and Charles?”
“Gone! Pffft! Vanished into thin air!” Red gesticulated wildly.
Mel swallowed. “There must be secret passageways. Old houses like this always had them. We should check…”
He got no further when a blood-curdling scream was punctuated by an earsplitting clap of thunder, lightning flashing as the air crackled with electricity. The hair on the back of Mel’s neck stood on end.
“Come on!” Johnny said.
The three of them barreled up the stairs, Mel skidding to a halt, nearly knocking Johnny off his feet.
Mel pointed down the hall.
Johnny and Red’s eyes widened as they saw a luminous patch of light drifting from one room to the other at the end of the hall.
“What the fuck?” Red muttered.
“Guess we’d better investigate,” murmured Johnny, sounding extremely reluctant.
Mel squeezed his hand and stepped forward.
Dawn at the end of the hall, they could see nothing. The room opposite the one in which Officer O’Grady had been found was another bedroom, but there was nothing out-of-the-ordinary.
“I don’t like this,” Red muttered. “A house with so many murders in it, not to mention insanity, is bad news. If we had all our people I’d say we should high-tail it outta here.”
“That’s what we’ll do when we find the boys.” Johnny’s voice grew soft. “Homer will be all right, Red.”
Red rubbed his eyes. “Sure hope so. Homer was already as skittish as the proverbial cat in a room full of rockin’ chairs.”
“Can’t say as I blame him,” Mel said quietly. “I…I’m sorry this happened, helping me out.” Johnny squeezed his hand.
Red shook his head. “Now I see why Johnny was so deadset against you comin’ here alone.” Red smiled a little. “’Sides, you do for us, so we do for you.”
Mel felt gratitude and pride at being included in Johnny’s tight little circle. “We’ll find him.”
Red’s expression of gratitude was illuminated by a flash of lightning just as another horrifying shriek echoed downstairs.
The three men rushed back downstairs, the sounds of loud bumps and chains rattling filling their ears as they dashed back into the kitchen.
“Damnit!” Johnny growled. He turned and his eyes widened.
Red was gone.
Johnny and Mel stared at the empty space behind them, then Johnny erupted.
“What the hell is goin’ on?!”
“I don’t know.” Mel’s jaw clenched. “But I’m determined to get to the bottom of this.”
“We can’t go around runnin’ half-cocked anymore.”
Mel started to tug Johnny out into the foyer when he suddenly began to shiver as the temperature dropped precipitously. Johnny was shaking, too.
“Let’s get out of here!”
They left the kitchen quickly and crossed the foyer to the front door.
“Argh!” Johnny flexed his hand. “The door won’t budge!”
Mel tried next but got the same results. He turned around and felt faint. “Look!”
Johnny turned and paled.
A wispy apparition glided down the main staircase, a woman dressed in clothing fashionable twenty years ago. Something dark was spattered across the bodice of her hobble skirt, Mel swallowing nervously.
Neither man spoke, watching the apparition with equal parts mesmerization and fear. The ghostly vision floated above the parquet floor, then vanished in the shadows.
“There is something rotten in the state of Denmark,” Johnny growled.
Mel almost laughed hysterically in agreement. He could feel Johnny’s hand shake.
“Something is certainly going on.”
“Well, there is no way we are separating.”
Mel smiled slightly. “Absolutely.”
A light mist began to drift through the foyer, and it also come down the staircase. Mel hoped it was coming in through broken windows. If not…
Johnny staggered slightly.
“Mmm, Sunshine, I’m a little dizzy.”
“Wha…?” Suddenly, Mel felt the same. He stumbled, and Johnny drew him close as loud moans and rattling chains overwhelmed him as blackness claimed him.