‘DEN’ by JJ Breech

One wall full of knives, another full of guns; Sam tentatively reached out to a silver pistol, that had took his interest, and-

‘Hullo?’

Sam swung round to greet the figure who had, obviously, opened the study’s door very, very quietly.

‘I’m Sam, the reporter who… you must be Mr… Dean?’

Sam scrambled for words for which he felt more confident about, when writing them on paper or keying them into a lap-top.

‘I’m Dean, yes.’ He smiled. ‘You’re a gun fan?’

‘God, no. Hate them, hate them. I mean…’ Now, in Sam’s head the story was fucked and there was no way back. Grab Lydia from the front room and get gone, and try to keep the mouth almighty shut in the meantime.

Dean stared at the speech mangling journo.

‘Don’t worry. Many people don’t like guns. Probably have good reason too- in the wrong hands… and all that.’

Dean backed up to the open door and placed his arm out to invite Sam into the other room.

‘Shall we start the interview?’

Sam uttered not and took Dean’s offer as a fresh start.

Lydia was eyeing up a series of Rorschach inkblots upon the front room’s wall. ‘These are fascinating, but is it me, do they all look like…?’

‘Lydia,’ Sam almost panted, ‘shall we get to it.’

Dean made himself comfortable in an Edwardian-era chair.

‘Well then…fire away.’ Dean winked at Sam.

Sam started to feel calmer, this was his second story for ‘Enquiring @The Edge’ Magazine, but this one was the biggie and he was beginning to feel the pressure. Silly really but Sam’s nerves always kicked in at the wrong time. And the right time. Actually, any time.

‘So, Mr Dean you are a collector of urban legends, modern myths as it were, when did this interest start?’ Sam’s confidence was building incrementally, and his damp brow started to feel less so.

‘Well, first I’m actually a doctor of science. I have doctorates and PhD’s in many fields including ontology, cryptozoology and demonology.’

Lydia turned away and smirked.

Sam tried to show no reaction but he heard someone say ‘oh!’ and then he realised it was him.

‘Does that shock?

Sam shook his head in a state of confusion, nether agreeing nor disagreeing. ‘Well it’s just that our story is about your work as a story-teller and collector of tales, not the fact they could be…’

‘Real?’

Sam turned to Lydia, who had got up and started to wander; she took in the ink blots on the wall again, so Dean couldn’t see the smile plastered on her face that she just couldn’t shake off.

‘Well… yeah.’

‘So- what if I had proof, proof of things that are ‘other’, things that can’t be explained? In my den, my collection is not just of aesthetic value, but also evidentially.’

Sam stared at his notes, and then ignored what he’d prepared, working on instinct. ‘So in the back room-there are many weapons can you tell me- is that another collection or are they actually used?’

‘Why do you ask? You know the answer.’

Lydia was checking the room for the best angle for a photo, a view to get the whole gothic ambience in, when Dean’s question peeked her curiosity.

‘What? What does that mean?’

‘Tell her.’

Sam blinked feverishly at Lydia.

‘Sam? Are you..?’ She winced.

Sam breathed in heavily for luck. ‘Because there is no dust upon the guns, unlike the rest of the room; so… You either polish them obsessively or…’

‘Or..?’ Dean’s eyes widened.

‘They are in constant use.’

And with that he brought a pistol up from his dressing gown pocket and pulled back the hammer.

‘What is going on here?’ Now Lydia joined in with Sam’s nerves.

Mr Dean’s eyes deadlocked on Lydia’s. ‘Sam’s not here to report on my collection, he’s here to finish it.’

And with these words, Dean got up from his chair and stood by the blood red curtains opposite him.

‘Yes, Sam, time to show your friend, partner, lover who you really are!’

Lydia grabbed her head in confusion and panic- ‘How the hell do you know all about us?’

Dean opened a single curtain with one quick, dramatic flourish, like a Phantom at an Opera, to show a perfectly round, glowing full moon.

‘Your sweating and strange disposition has nothing to do with nerves but what you are inside- what’s trying to get out!’

‘What are you talking about?’ screamed Sam, as the backs of his hands started to blister till they bled and his lips went into spasm.

Dean cocked his head to the side, in great curiosity. ‘Oh- don’t tell me you don’t know? You don’t know what you are? Oh, how delicious, you must wake in the most ludicrous situations with nothing but blood and guilt.’

Sam stood from his chair and begged at Dean, ‘What do you know about me? Can you help?’ His neck started to incrementally lengthen and he opened his mouth to let out an unholy scream but instead a wolf’s snout came through, not stopping until Sam’s flesh ripped in two and the remnants of his skin- like an abandoned suit- hit the floor.

Without a thought Dean aimed at the beast and shot through its heart with an easy aim. He moved swiftly to it, as it slumped, twitching upon his expensively carpeted floor. From beneath his a gown he uncovered a pure silver blade- crescent shaped- and with a swift cleave he took off the creature’s head.

Lydia stood in silence, mouth a gape, almost fearful to make any kind of noise or speak. Dean stood up, triumphant, holding the wolf’s head in one hand and the gun in the other.

‘What did I say,’ Dean snorted with laughter, ‘these things exist, but no-one would believe me. That’s why my den’s collection stays a private one… for now.’

‘C-c-c-ollection? What….?’ All Lydia could manage was a stammer and half a question- not much for a person’s final words.

He dismissively shot Lydia dead, and walked to the back of the room. In front of him lay a wall of books, he pulled out a tome named ‘The Urban Dead: Myths, Legends and their Reality,’ and the wall opened inwards, like a huge door. Lights ahead lit up, one by one, like an airport runway coming to life. The room was the length of two garages, and as he walked along admiring his life’s work, the wall panels were aesthetically busy with bizarre and peculiar objet d’art.

-A bloodied hook for a hand.

-Gleaming white fangs beneath a German film poster.

-A foetus in a jar, its cyclopean eye glaring out at nothing in particular.

– A leather-bound manuscript with the word ‘Franken’ scrawled upon it.

– Photos of a thin, slender-man in a children’s playground.

-A green haired clown’s mask encrusted in blood.

– A doll- like figure with fairy wings pinned up like a collected butterfly.

And then space for his latest acquisition. He placed the hairy head on a nearby table and rubbed his hands together, enjoying the oily feel of the blood that covered them. With his fingers in V’s, he spread ruby red camouflage beneath his eyes, never taking his sight off the severed creature.

He winked at it, almost expecting a response.

‘I’ll huff and I’ll puff… and I’ll blow your house down.’ He let the words echo, and then linger for a moment, before confidently stating to his room of dead freaks:

‘And so continues the hunt.’

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