Pairings/Characters: (this chapter): Charles/Doris (Charles does not appear in this chapter), Ben Cherrington, Elsa Bach, Mabel Anderson, Alice Carmody, Carter Baum, Harold Rienecke, Mel/Johnny
Fandom: Public Enemies
Genres: Challenge, Holiday, Horror, Mystery, Science Fiction
Rating: (this chapter): R
Warnings: Please note that this story will contain gore, violence and character deaths. Each chapter will have their individual warnings. This chapter: Gore
General Summary: On Halloween, the Bankers Building becomes a literal House of Horrors.
Chapter Summary: The terror builds inside the Bankers Building.
Date Of Completion: October 12, 2011
Date Of Posting: October 27, 2011
Disclaimer: I don’t own ‘em, Universal does, more’s the pity.
Word Count: 1766
Feedback welcome and appreciated.
Author’s Notes: Written for my 2011 Guns_Fedoras Public Enemies Fic/Art Halloween Challenge. Option 1: (Elements of Halloween used set in or around Halloween: Pumpkins/Jack O’Lanterns, Black-And-Orange, Monsters).
All chapters can be found here.
On silent feet,
Ready to devour
Doris nervously sipped her coffee. Maybe she should order tea instead. Coffee made her already-jittery nerves even more jangly, but she refused to go home. Instead she sat at the window table of The Country Café directly across the street from the Bankers Building.
The sunny yellow décor and cute little ceramic chickens on each table would normally cheer her up, but this time she was far too worried. The Bankers Building was a stylish, solid Victorian building that now looked forbidding, the windows dark and keeping their secrets. And was it her imagination, or was the once-bright day growing darker? Was that a storm brewing on the horizon?
The lunchtime crowd buzzed all around her as silverware clinked and people talked loudly enough to contribute to the general hubbub. No one noticed the policemen turning away people from the Bankers Building, some arguing with the officers.
Doris sat up as she saw the coroner’s wagon return. That meant another dead body. A disgruntled businessman crossed the street, holding on tightly to his fedora as the wind blew hard. The tiny bells jingled over the door as he stomped in.
“Damned cops!" He griped. “Keeping people from important appointments. I should call City Hall!”
“Whatsamatter, Ben? Got high finance on your schedule?” teased Elsa, the waitress behind the counter.
“The whole Bankers’ Building is off-limits.”
“Why, an ax murderer on the loose?” chuckled a man sitting on a stool at the counter.
“Something’s going on.”
Doris saw a group of office girls come out of the building, looking frightened. She wanted to go right over and find out what the details were, but knew the cops on the door would tell her nothing. The women crossed the street, coats flapping and hats grasped as they reached the sidewalk, coming into the café.
“Oh, it’s just awful!” wailed a young brunette, her hair escaping its bobby pins.
“Hush, Mabel,” said an older woman who looked to be in charge.
“But Mrs. Carmody, there’s a crazy killer on the loose!”
The people sitting closest to the group stopped talking and looked at Mabel.
Elsa demanded, “What are you talkin’ about?”
“There’s a crazed killer on the loose in the Bankers Building!”
A hush fell over the café and Doris desperately wished that her companion of a half hour ago was still here, but Mel needed him more.
Carter took the reports of the men who returned to the squadroom. They were shocked to learn about William Rorer falling victim to the killer, though one suggested that there was a gang of murderers who were taking Halloween a little too literally with the movie monster costumes. The agents clamored to go back out, and they added more weapons to their arsenal, grabbing more rifles and revolvers.
“C’mon, Harold, we’re going out again,” Carter said, grabbing the other agent’s lapel, but Rienecke wrenched away.
“No!” Rienecke ran down the hall and disappeared into the interrogation room, locking the door behind him.
Disgusted, Carter tried to open the door. Pounding on it, he yelled, “Come out, Rienecke!” Finally he gave up and went to catch up with his men.
“Come out!” Mel demanded again.
The shadow wavered, then the newcomer appeared around the corner.
Johnny grinned. “How are ya, Sunshine?”
Mel threw his arms around his lover and hugged tightly, Johnny hugging back. His hand stroked up-and-down the Southerner’s back.
Mel broke away, fear in his eyes. “What are you doing here?”
“I knew you were awful worried, darlin’, because I could hear it in your voice. Your pretty secretary told me what was goin’ on.” At Mel’s confused look, he explained, “I met her in the café across the street.”
“Then you know there’s a deranged killer on the loose.”
“All the more reason I want to help.”
“But, Johnny, this place is crawling with agents and police! You can’t stay.”
“I’ll be careful.” Johnny adjusted his dark-blue greatcoat. “I’m not lettin’ you roam around here with a crazy killer, especially alone. Where’s the other agents?”
“Checking the other floors."
“In pairs, I bet.” At Mel’s nod, Johnny said, “So now you’ve got a partner, too.”
Mel was deathly afraid for Johnny but he wanted him here, too. He always felt better when Johnny was by his side.
“Be extremely careful.”
Johnny grinned his usual insouciant grin. “Always, darlin’, always.”
Mel smiled, feeling a little better. “We need to check the offices on this floor.”
Johnny nodded, brandishing his tommygun as they moved down the hall.
Mel frowned as he heard voices. He and Johnny cautiously entered the office of Brennan, Goldstein And Anderson, Attorneys-At-Law.
“Authorities are puzzled by the discovery of a crater in the North Woods of Cook County. Professor Max Brankowitz of M.I.T. has speculated that the mild earthquake felt last week in the area was in reality a meteor or some other object from space impacting the earth and creating the crater.”
Mel shut off the radio on the counter, he and Johnny checking the inner office, but no one was there.
“Someone must have lit out and forgot to turn the radio off,” Johnny said.
“Very odd,” Mel said. “About craters and earthquakes, I mean.”
“Sounds like Flash Gordon or somethin’.”
“It truly does. Oh, well, we have enough to worry about here on Earth instead of Ming the Merciless.”
Johnny laughed. “C’mon, Dale Arden, let’s check the next office.”
They concluded their sweep of the floor and took the elevator to the next one, neither man eager to use the stairs.
Mel suddenly stopped, Johnny looking at him in concern as they stepped off the elevator. “What is it, honey?” he whispered.
“Can’t you smell that?”
Johnny sniffed and his eyes widened. “What is that?”
“The smell of the grave,” Mel said grimly.
Johnny gripped his gun tighter. He and Mel walked shoulder-to-shoulder down the hall.
Mel glanced at his companion. Johnny had spoken to him about the men he had known in prison, some of them mad dog killers of the worst kind, but this sort of viciousness was something that was probably even beyond Johnny’s ken.
He could barely imagine what was going on in this killer’s mind. He could not fathom it, the savagery and sheer evil of the murders. What was the motivation?
His instincts were screaming at him to flee, but he was an officer of the law. This killer had to be stopped.
And Johnny’s here because of love. I have found a rare gem.
The stench grew stronger as they both heard a shuffling sound. A shadow lengthened on the wall and Mel grabbed Johnny’s hand.
The owner of the footsteps appeared, a low growl sounding in its throat held together with two bolts in its neck, its stitched-together body parts grotesque as its heavy boots dragged along the floor. Dead, baleful eyes zeroed in on Mel and Johnny, its steps speeding up.
Both men raised their guns and the rat-tat-tat of Johnny’s tommygun was drowned out by the roar of the monster, Mel’s revolver bullets unable to make a dent. The creature yanked the tommygun out of Johnny’s hand and Mel’s blood ran cold as he yelled, “Run!”
Johnny had no objections to this order, the two of them dashing madly toward the stairwell. Yanking open the door, they clattered down the stairs just as the building shook with a massive tremor.
Mel yelped as he started to fall. Johnny grabbed him but they lost their balance and tumbled down to the landing. The breath knocked out of them, they tried to recover as they lay stunned.
“You okay, honey?” Johnny asked.
“Ooh,” Mel groaned. “Was that another earthquake?”
“Who knows? The whole world has sure gone crazy!”
The sound of the door opening on the next level caused them to scramble to their feet as the stench drifted down. Adrenaline pushed them to dash pell-mell down the stairs, helping each other as bruised knees and ankles made themselves known. When they reached the lobby door they rushed out, skidding to a halt with horror on their faces.
The shiny surfaces of the floor and pillars were splattered with blood, streaks of it dripping down the pillars and walls.
“Charlie! Ed!” Mel called, running over to the newsstand, relieved that no mutilated body was behind the counter. He ran over to the lunch counter, his legs shaking as he leaned over to check.
“Your friends okay, honey?”
“Yeah.” Mel pushed away from the counter. “Let’s get out of here.”
They turned and stopped short again. Johnny swallowed. “Um, Mel, it’s still daytime, right?”
“Why are the windows all black?”
Black streaks mixed with red ran down the windows, blotting out the street. Mel thought he had become numbed to fresh horrors, but he could still be shocked.
They hurried to the doors and Johnny grabbed the right door’s handle, tugging hard. It would not budge. Mel tried the other door but got the same results. They both tried to get the revolving door to move but it was as immovable as granite. Johnny and Mel looked at each other, a growling sound coming from behind the stairwell door.
“The elevators,” Mel hissed.
They raced for the elevators, punching the buttons as the growling turned to moaning, growing louder. Frantic, they pushed more buttons as the heavy tread sounded on the stairs. Blood rushed in their ears as their hearts pounded painfully, terror beginning to wash over them as the stench of the grave combined with glistening blood and bone.
The doorknob began to turn just as the elevator doors opened. Mel and Johnny rushed inside as the stairwell door opened and the monster lurched out into the lobby, roaring as it saw his prey. With terrifying speed he headed straight for them.
“Hit the button!” gasped Mel.
“I am! It won’t close!” Johnny jabbed at the Close button as the Monster roared again, arms outstretched. Mel fished his revolver out of his pocket and fired. The Monster staggered and glared balefully as it lurched forward, Mel still firing as Johnny swore, giving the button one final push as the Monster reached in. It grabbed Johnny’s greatcoat and yanked him forward as the gangster struggled.
“Johnny!” Mel grabbed him and pulled, part of Johnny’s coat tearing away as the doors closed. The elevator began to rise as the monster roared far below, his rage shaking the car as Mel and Johnny collapsed into each other’s arms.