Description: In the second book of the “Fringe Killer” series, Detective Davenport finds herself dealing with horror brought to life from the past. A killer is terrorizing the same building that held him prisoner – decades ago.
A killer from the past manages to escape the bonds of time and redefines “horror” for Jamie Davenport. In this new entry to the “fringe-killer” series, Gothica, Detective Davenport finds herself dealing with horror brought to life from the past. This time the killer is terrorizing the same building that held him prison – decades ago. The building now serves as a club for the darker denizens of Louisville…and a breeding ground for the emotions needed to bring evil back to Gothica.
Weaving elements of both the horror and the thriller genres together, Gothica tells the tale of the past and the present as they collide in the darkest recesses of a club built upon suffering and sorrow. Jamie Davenport and Skip Abrahm are tossed into a world of gothic delights and horror as another Fringe Killer is brought to life.
DR. SCHELLER would never be appointed to any position of power within the psycho-medical society. No. Scheller was a much smaller cog in the much larger wheel known as Justice. Still, he would perform his duties, unflinching, until the day he was buried in the dirt.
And today’s duties included introducing his favorite patient to a new tool given to The Deep.
Recently, Scheller had the privilege of attending a lecture given by a young German-American physician named L.B. Kalinowsky. Kalinowsky had created a device that could safely deliver brief electric shocks to a human being. It was promised that 90% of all cases of severe depression and other associative disorders would practically disappear after a few weeks of the new electroshock therapy treatment.
Scheller was eager to try out this new method on Freeny. So far, nothing had shown any promise. In fact, it seemed as if Freeny was regressing, becoming more and more violent, and communicating less and less.
Scheller had tried so many techniques on his patient. Their last meeting, a failed attempt at lobotomizing Freeny, had resulted in the near death of the doctor. This would not happen again. Scheller had taken steps to ensure that Freeny could not pull the same stunt twice. The thought made the doctor’s cheeks flush with rage. He rubbed his face with the palms of his hands. He felt a jolt of shame rack his body. He was a doctor of psychiatry, and he was letting one of his patients get the better of him.
Before he had time to dwell on the issue further, Freeny was escorted into Scheller’s lab by two very large guards. There was no way Freeny could attack the doctor. Not this time.
“Ah, Mr. Freeny. Good day to you. I hope you have been treated respectfully and without undo harm.” Scheller spoke cautiously, not taking his eyes off his patient. “What we are going to do today is a bit out of the ordinary. You might even think it goes against everything you have known here in The Deep.” Scheller was pulling a serum into a hypodermic needle as he spoke. “But with you, my dear patient, extreme measures must be taken.” With the hypo filled, Scheller nodded to the guards, who then forced Freeny onto a medical examination table. From the sides, the guards pulled up thick leather straps and began strapping down the patient whose eyes never left sight of the doctor.
“Do you know what this is, Mr. Freeny?” There was no reaction from the restrained man. “This is thiopental sodium. It consists of five ethyl-5 molecules, one methylbutyl molecule, and two thiobarbituric acid molecules. Some call this a truth serum. Of course, we know there is little to no truth within you. So, why would I use such a serum on such a man?” Doctor Scheller sat down on a chair next to Freeny and began preparing his right arm for the injection. “I like to think, Mr. Freeny, that what this serum will do is help me to get inside of you.” Scheller leaned in close to Freeny’s face. “I want to know what’s inside your mind, Mr. Freeny.”
Scheller backed away, tapped the hypo, and injected the liquid into the veins of Freeny. After the contents of the hypodermic were delivered into the patient, Scheller removed the needle and the rubber hose around Freeny’s arm.
“The thiopental sodium’s effects are fairly immediate.” The doctor was speaking as he glanced as the second hand of his pocket watch. After thirty seconds ticked by, he looked up and saw Freeny’s eyes were glazed over. Freeny had the hollow, vacant look of so many of the lost souls the doctor had come across. It was a look that both disturbed and fascinated him. It was that which drove men like Scheller into the science of the mind.
“Mr. Freeny? Mr. Freeny, are you there?” There was no reaction other than the patient’s head slowly lolling back and forth. “Mr. Freeny, I want you to tell me why you killed the guard, and why you tried to kill me.” Dr. Scheller’s voice was a soothing lullaby.
The only sound was the creaking of Freeny’s neck as his head continued its rolling. The guards and the doctor were holding their breath, awaiting the devil’s confession. One guard shifted his weight to another foot, and his knee popped loudly. The other guard let out a heavy sigh as his patience began to grow thin.
Then, Freeny’s head suddenly stopped rolling. His eyes opened wide and glared viciously at Doctor Scheller. Drool began to run down the drugged man’s chin, and his tongue was drunkenly moving in and out of his mouth. Sounds began to softly spill from Freeny’s mouth. The sounds were unintelligible at first, a bubbling, hissing sound. It was as if Freeny’s vocal chords had been removed.
The doctor was astounded. The thiopental sodium was supposed to render the subject nearly unconscious. Freeny was obviously aware of his surroundings as he glanced over at the guards and then back to Scheller.
The gurgling sounds began to take on a more natural form. His lips, covered in mucous, began trying to shape words. Strings of Freeny’s saliva swung off his lips and landed on the doctor’s legs and arms.
The sound took on form and very quietly, “They’re coming.” issued from the killer’s lips.
As quickly as it began, it ended. Freeny’s head smacked hard on the examination table and, with a violent convulsion, his eyes and his mouth closed tight.
Doctor Scheller stood and wiped the spittle from his lab coat and wool pants. He pulled off his sweat-covered glasses and wiped them down. After returning his spectacles to his face, the doctor looked over to the guards.
“I require the two of you to please wait outside. What I must do now, I must do alone and without interruption.” Scheller wheeled a large box to the head of the examination table. “Please. I will call you when I am finished.”
The two guards looked at one another and finally turned and left the room.
“My dear, Mr. Freeny, you are a very lucky man.” Scheller spoke to a patient whose conscience was nowhere to be found. “I have been given the approval by the State of Kentucky to employ a new means of psychotherapy just for you. Recently, a rather famous German colleague of mine developed a safe means of using electrical shock to treat the sickened brain. And you, my good man, are going to be the first in The Deep to reap the benefits of modern science.”
While Scheller was speaking, he had been preparing Freeny to receive the treatment. The main instrument consisted of a 2×2 wooden box that contained the various electrodes and tubes to transfer the current into the proper sine-wave form. A tangle of wires snaked out of the box to a large metal clamp that fit over the skull.
As prescribed, the doctor took a damp cloth and fit it over Freeny’s head to aid the conductivity of the electric current. Once the cloth was properly covering the temple area on both sides of the cranium, the oversized metal clamp was attached, and the cloth was cut in half and folded over the clamp edges so the path of the electricity would not be able to jump from one temple to another.
He placed a wooden block in Freeny’s mouth to keep him from biting off his tongue. Although Freeny wasn’t fond of speaking, it would be a shame to prevent him from communicating in the future.
Everything seemed to be in order. The doctor was filled with a nervous energy he hadn’t felt in a long time. Although he had studied, in detail, every nuance of the electroshock therapy, he had never been witness to the process. He had no idea what would happen to the poor wretch.
Scheller slipped on a protective rubber smock, rubber gloves, rubber overboots, and a rubber facial mask. To ensure that no one would interfere with the procedure, he locked the laboratory door.
The wooden box of the ECT machine seemed to be a safe distance from the examination table. The electrical cords were well over ten feet in length, giving the administrator safe harbor from the electricity’s destination. Scheller had no idea how Freeny would react the shock. Would the madman break free of his restraints as the current passed from one side of his skull to the other, and attempt to kill him again?
For a brief second, he thought of abandoning the experiment. But this was science, and he was a scientist. This was how it must be.
The doctor took a deep breath, plugged in the machine, said a brief prayer, and flipped the switch.
Freeny’s head had become a dark cage. The world had disappeared, slipped away like liquid mercury. Somewhere in the distance, he could hear a voice speaking in a monotone, slurred speech that he couldn’t understand.
He wanted to open his eyes, but he couldn’t. His brain sent the impulse to his eyelids, but they wouldn’t comply. He tried to move his arms and legs, but they were locked down. An eerie silence plagued his brain. He hated the silence. Ever since the voice had promised salvation, any moment of silence quickly grew into a fear of horrid loss. He had a purpose now, he thought, and that purpose was to pay mind only to the voices. Only the voices would lead him away from pain and to the safe, ignorant bliss of truth. The voices would serve as his lullaby and reason. But, they were silent now, and this he feared greater than anything he had ever known.
Suddenly, it felt like the hand of God was jarring his skin from his bones. Freeny’s body was being twisted and wrenched from within. Inside his skull, thunder and lightning were waging a war on the synapses of his brain. Freeny saw memories jump to the fore, and then dissipate like fog in a winter wind. He saw memories of his childhood. He saw his father coming home drunk and beating him senseless. Gone. He remembered the first girl he fucked. Gone. He remembered the first life he took. Gone. All memories he held tightly. Gone. All but one.
He was sitting near the pier watching the gathered crowd actually have a moment of release from their pitiful lives. It made him sick. The sound of the laughter, something he once shared with his beautiful wife, pierced his ears like the screams of dying dogs. That laughter would never tickle his heart again. Freeny’s wife perished under the cold, icy grip of the Ohio river. During a near-disastrous flood, her body was swept away in the undertow when she attempted to save a drowning child. Neither his wife nor the child survived.
He sat in the humid air alone, until a little girl invaded his space. The homeless moppet was wet from the river and smiling a pixie smile. “Hey mister, why don’t you jump in the water with everyone? It’s nice and cold.”
He was shocked from his thoughts. His heart was instantly racing and his jaw clenched, threatening to shatter his rotting teeth. He stared quizzically at the little girl. The noise from the pier had turned into a sharp static and was canceling all other sound.
The little girl’s mouth was moving, but Freeny heard nothing but static. When her smile faded with his lack of response, he heard a voice from somewhere he couldn’t place.
The voice soothed his mind. His heart slowed, and his jaw relaxed. A peaceful feeling began to wash through his veins. For the first time since before his wife’s death, he felt right with the world.
He knew what he had to do.
He stood up, towering over the little girl. Her mouth moved again, but he heard no sound from her lips.
“Kill her.” The voice echoed between his ears.
He reached down as if to stroke the cherub’s dirty-blond hair and, with one hand, twisted her head one hundred and eighty degrees. The child dropped like a sack of dirty laundry.
The static grew louder and louder. Inside the bones behind his face, his own laughter began to toll. As the laughter grew, so did the static. Both sounds were at war for his attention. As soon as it seemed the laughter would win, the static would take over. His body began to convulse violently. Freeny felt as if his arms and legs were going to snap in half.
Somehow, through the static, the voice was able to make itself heard. “I am the bogeyman. I am the first, but not the last.”
The static once again overtook the voice as he was brought to his knees. He was praying for death, but death would not come for him, yet.