Torn

Free Torn by Stefan Petrucha

Book: Torn by Stefan Petrucha Read Free Book Online
Authors: Stefan Petrucha
even words, just raw air forced through tight vocalchords. Hearing the sheer agony in that voice, Devin spilled from the pantry closet and jumped into the shadowy kitchen.
    The first thing he made out was a long smear of red along the white floor. It ran all thirty feet from the sliding doors into the kitchen. At the end of the kitchen, Karston was crumpled on the floor, looking more like a pile of laundry than a person, while something short and squat hovered in the darkness above him.
    Devin’s heart pounded. The sirens grew louder. Red and white lights flashed in from the window.
    What the hell was that? A person?
    A squarish head twitched on burly shoulders. Devin thought for a second he’d made eye contact, but decided that those couldn’t be eyes.
    It was too dark. Things were happening too quickly to be sure of anything. What came next had to be a trick of the light, an illusion caused by all the shadows and Devin’s fear—it just had to—because as the figure stood and leaped over the Corian counter, Devin could swear its arms, which seemed hairy or wrapped in fur, were nearly twice as long as its short, stocky legs.
    It bounded over the counter as if it were a fishand the air were water. Its freakish shape sent expensive pots and pans flying. It hit the dining room floor amidst a clatter of metal and Teflon, then dove out the open sliding door that Karston had been too stupid or frightened to use himself.
    Was it a dwarf? Some kind of bear? Devin was sweating, aside from being confused and frightened. He wondered if whatever it was hadn’t been trying to trash the upstairs at all, but was just leaping around, an animal stuck in a too-small cage. Or a monster.
    He snapped the elementary school fantasy from his head. It was some short, asshole body builder with a knife, that was all. He’d heard the sirens coming and jumped the counter for a faster escape.
    Devin raced up to Karston and knelt beside him. He was cut up, badly. But what kind of knife could do something like this? His forearms jutted up at the elbows, but neither they nor his hands moved. His lower torso didn’t move, either. The only part of him that did move was his head. It rocked back and forth, as if trying to pry itself away from the pain of his paralyzed body.
    Shaking, Devin forced himself to move in closer.The head steadied. Karston looked at him. “Sorry about stealing your money, Devin,” he said weakly. His voice sounded wet and phlegmy, almost like he was gargling.
    Devin scanned the body, torn between trying to do something about the bleeding and wondering if whatever he did might only make it worse. “Forget it. It’s okay.”
    â€œYou forgive me?”
    â€œYeah. Sure.”
    Not knowing what else he could do, Devin hesitated, but finally took Karston’s hand and squeezed it. It felt cold. It didn’t squeeze back.
    â€œSo, I’m still in the band?” Karston said.
    The question caught Devin by surprise. Was it really that important to him? Or was he going into some kind of shock?
    â€œSure. You’re still in the band,” Devin said.
    â€œI’m getting better, right? On the bass? It wasn’t a waste, right?”
    â€œYeah, Karston. You’re getting better. Really, man. Getting better every time,” Devin said.
    â€œYeah?” Karston’s voice was tired, distant. His eyes wavered, then steadied, focusing on something Devin couldn’t see.
    Blood pooled on the kitchen tile, running along the grout just like the drippings of the filet mignon.
    Something sloshed beneath Karston’s wet shirt. It may have just been more blood, or maybe he’d shifted in a funny way, but it looked as if pieces of Karston were tumbling out from beneath the cloth. Even if the ambulance came right now, right this second, Devin doubted it would make any difference.
    â€œYeah, Karston,” Devin said. “You’re the best. The

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