By Lee Hughes
Eric was waiting his turn to recite the seven-times tables.
Lucy Bates who was a proper boffin stood at the front, straight backed and pony-tailed and swimming through the six-times table as though it was as easy as adding. She finished and gave the rest of the class a smug grin. Mrs. Jones regarded Eric. “Your turn, Eric, up to the front.”
He took a breath that would shame a pearl diver, adjusted his elasticated tie, grabbed the sides of his desk and pulled himself to his feet. With each step he tried to remember the numbers in his head, mental blank, a couple of letters managed to nudge their way in on seven times two. He made it to the front, turned and saw the class gawking at him.
“In your own time, Eric,” said Mrs Jones.
Eric tried to get some wet up into his mouth but the only moisture in his entire body seemed to be pooled in a tickle at the end of his widgie like he needed to go bad, or burst. Eric looked to his shoes for some help and found only scuffs and mud. He opened his mouth and...
A knock at the door.
He spun around, not caring who was at the door, he'd been given a few extra moments to locate the seven times table. It was the deputy-head. Mr. Montgomery, all glasses and tank-top. The class stood out of instinct and Eric felt camouflaged. Mrs. Jones smiled at the deputy-head as he said, “Mrs. Jones, it's your class's turn for the nit nurse.”
Mrs. Jones turned back to the class. “Okay, down to the nurses room, single file and quietly.”
There were groans galore that mingled with the noise of chairs being dragged away from the desks. “I said, 'quietly'.” The noise didn't abate any. Eric joined the exodus. Twice a year they had to go through this rigmarole. Bi-annually queue up to take their turn for a fat old nurse to scrape an inch off their scalps with a metal comb on the hunt for nits. Those who were outed as carriers were sent home and returned to ridicule and names. He'd heard nits didn't like dirty hair. He hoped it was right, it was Thursday and there were only two days until bath night and he prayed his hair was dirty enough to be nit free. One by one they went in, one by one they came out looking relieved. Eric was bouncing his back on and off the wall when it was his turn.
It wasn't the same nit-nurse as last time. The other had been big, fat size big, like his Aunty Joan, she'd had to have an elastic band put in her belly to stop her from scoffing. Eric wondered and hoped that maybe this one was a little gentler with the metal comb. The nurse, she had a narrow face, kinda squashed, reminded Eric of a Tom and Jerry cartoon where Tom got his face caught in the closing doors of a lift. It made him smile and the nurse smiled back. “Take a seat. It's not often I get a smile, you kids usually look at me as though I've cancelled Christmas.” Eric hadn't even realised that he had been smiling, he remembered where he was and what was about to happen. His smile forgotten, he sat where he was told and felt the nurse start to riffle through his short hair looking for bugs and stuff. Her fingers ceased their roaming and she looked at the clipboard. “You're Eric Gregory?”
“Hmm, is your mother at home?”
“Why?” He asked it very slowly.
“Can she be contacted at work?”
“You need to go and stand outside the receptionists office.”
Eric slipped off the chair wondering just what creepy-crawlies the nurse had found trespassing up on his top-deck. As he came out the rest of the queue looked at him as he started off in the wrong direction, their classroom was down the other way. He heard the sniggering start. He didn't look back, just toddled off with his hair still standing up from it's molestation like he'd had his hand upon a Van Der Graaf Generator.
His mum was gonna go spare. She was supposed to be doing a double shift at the factory, now she was going to have to come and get him. He cringed when she came through the doors. First thing she did was get a hold of his head and tilt it this way and that like it was on a spring to see if she could see anything moving. She let go of his head and shook her own. “Nits? Who've you been playing with?”
Eric could only shrug and reply, “None of the smelly'uns.” He watched as his mum had a natter with the nit-nurse, probably getting told how best to go about fumigating her son's swede.
They took the bus home. “You'll be all right on your own won't you until this affy when your brother gets home? Watch some telly or something, if you get hungry eat something cold, don't want you burning the kitchen down, it might not be the Hilton but it's all we've got.” She stopped wittering on as she rummaged through the sideboard. “You seen the catalogue? Was here this morning, forgot to take it in with me, Mary's after some new curtains on the 'drip', sod it, I'll have a proper look later.” She moved to kiss his head before thinking better of it. On her way out the door she shouted that he wasn't to go putting his head on any of the furniture. The door slammed and Eric went and turned the telly on. With it being dinnertime there was just The Sullivans on, he thumbed the next button on the set and found something dull, pressed again and got Pebble Mill, worked his way through all the four channels and there was nowt on worth a watch. He turned it back off and wondered what he was going to do until Dave, his older brother by five years came home from school.
He froze on the spot as he heard a footfall at the top of the stairs, the top floorboard always gave out a groan. The footfalls fell like machine gun fire as the owner dashed down the stairs. Eric let out the imprisoned air. He'd heard his dad complain enough about, “Is there a bloody elephant stampeding up and down those ruddy stairs?”
“Dave?” He ventured, even though he knew his brother's 'stomp' off by heart there was still some of those little-boy-bogeyman horrors going through his brain. He relaxed when Dave came through the door. “What the fuck you doing home? Almost shat myself when I heard mum's key in the door.” He was tall for his age and gangly with it.
“I've got nits,” said Eric.
“You scruffy Arab.” Dave went over to the sideboard. Eric hadn't noticed Dave was carrying their mum's catalogue. As Dave was putting it back Eric mentioned that. “Mum was looking for that, what were you doing with it?”
“None of your business, Spaz.”
Eric frowned. “What're you doing home?”
“Why not? Dad's not back 'till Tuesday week and mum's pulled a double, place to myself, well, up until you pitched up.” He paused for a moment before continuing. “You back in school tomorrow?”
“For fucks'sake, I'm going up to my room.”
“Can I come?”
“Can you fuck as like, you and your friends aren't coming nowhere near my room.”
Eric watched him go and picked up a couple of his Centurion figures and parked himself down on the couch careful not to let his head touch any of the upholstery.
The doorbell chimed as he declared. “Power Extreme!” The bell hadn't had a proper chance to hush up before Dave was shouting both as loudly and as quietly as he could from the top of the stairs. “Who is it?”
Eric dashed to the window, slipped his head up between the windowpane and the net curtain. He pulled a face. It was the nit-nurse. The doorbell aired again so he went to answer the door. “Eric.” Dave was still at the top of the stairs. “Who is it?” Eric looked up. “It's the nit nurse.”
“What's she doing here?”
“Well get rid of her.”
There wasn't a security chain on the door for him to put in place so he used the next best thing, his right foot placed a couple of inches back from the door.
“Hello again, Eric,” said the nurse, all smiley.
“Is your mother home?”
“No.” He'd learnt in his young few years that when you were hiding something you never said anything more than you had to.
“I've brought some lotion around for your...” She tilted her head, clearly thinking of a politer word other than infestation. “Head lice problem.” She held up a plastic bottle and gave it a little shake.
“Thanks, but my mum's picking up some stuff for my head.” He smiled politely.
“The sooner your lice problem is sorted the sooner you can get back to school and play with your friends, it'll only take a minute to apply.” She took a step closer to the door. Eric knew there was no way that he was going to win this battle, the best course of action would be just to let her douse his head with the stuff and then she could be away. The nurse crossed the threshold and craned her neck having a good skeet up and down the hallway.
“The living room's this way.” He motioned and she headed towards it. Eric followed but paused at the foot of the stairs. Dave had poked his head around and was looking furious. Eric managed a shrug. Dave replied by slipping his tongue down between his lower teeth and bottom lip and pushing as far forward as he could to mimic a spastic. Eric followed the nurse into the living-room. She'd already taken one of the chairs from beneath the small dining table and motioned with a smile for him to sit himself down. He felt odd and awkward as he sat. He was glad that Dave was upstairs, he told himself off for being silly. There was no stranger danger, he was being an idiot, this was the nit nurse and she'd just come around to try and help, that's what doctors and nurses did, even the ones that weren't proper nurses, like this one.
She started to rub some gunk into his scalp. “Does your mother leave you alone a lot?”
Eric took a few moments to think through his answer, he didn't want anyone getting into trouble. “Nope, not very often, it's just with me having to come out of school, my brother usually looks after me when school's done with.”
“What's his name?”
“How old is he?”
“Twelve.” He felt her fingers cease their work on his head and he turned around and saw her looking at the family photographs on the mantelpiece and then to the clock in the centre.
“What time does he usually get in from school?”
“About ten-to-four.” A bit of panic shivered through his tummy wondering if she was planning on sitting with him until Dave was supposed to come home from school. There was no way that he could tell her Dave was playing truant and was hiding upstairs. He wondered what would happen if she did stay and ten-to-four came and went and Dave hadn't turned up at the front door.
Her fingers took up their chore once more and Eric was chuffed that she hadn't said anything about hanging about. He could feel the fingers on both her hands working at his head and so the sharp and fleeting pain that he felt at the base of his spine came as a shock. He tried to turn around but fell from the chair. He got to see the nurse from the vantage point of the floor. A length of something, long and knuckled together and at the end of the appendage a stinger, he knew what they looked like, he'd pulled enough of them from wasps and bees in his years. The stinger retracted back up under the pleats of the nurses long skirt. She was smiling down at him as she straightened herself up. “Shhh, little man, shhh, no words can help.”
Eric could do naught but watch as she walked around him, circling, smiling. He could feel nothing south of his waist, fear made him drunk and his ability to be vocal absconded.
The nurse stepped on his ankle, putting enough pressure on the joint that Eric should have been squealing in pain, he felt nothing, so had no fuel for the scream and remained silent.
“There's a wasp, a little like me, but, of course, more wasp than me. Ampulex compressa, I prefer the prettier name, Jewel Wasp. It's quite unique, marvellous really. What I just did was sting you in your lower spine, paralysing your legs, it's reversible, yet it means that I can take my leisure and ensure that the more important sting is delivered exactly where I want it to be. Then, well then you'll no longer want to run, to escape, to flee away from being my bounty, you will do whatever I want, follow where I lead.” she knelt down and put her lips close to an ear and whispered, “Then I'll be biting off this ear, why? Glad you asked, because I'll be thirsty from all the fluids I'll have pumped into you, then we go on a little trip, me to my survival, you to your fate.” She got back upright and hitched up her skirt allowing the stinger to work free. The nurse used her foot to kick-roll Eric over onto his stomach before standing astride him and squatting. The stinger took aim before punching through the nape of his neck.
Dave stayed at the top of the stairs, just to onside with an ear cocked. He was sure he'd heard a thud, something heavy hitting the floor along with the nurse prattling on about something he couldn't quite make out. There was no way he could investigate, not without getting himself busted. The minutes dragged by before he heard the living-room door open. He stepped further back. He couldn't help himself and chanced dipping his head around the corner for a peek. It was just in time to see Eric walking passed. Next the the sound of the snig on the front door followed seconds later by the door slamming. Dave counted to five. “Eric?” He gained no reply. He turned and ran straight down the landing to his room. The floor was a three-dimensional carpet of crap, discarded this, discarded that. He hurdled or stomped it, bounded over his bed knocking his recently used belly-rag to the deck. At the window he watched as the nit nurse led Eric by the hand towards a knackered looking Ford Escort Mark III. Eric didn't look back. Dave could see Eric was bleeding from his left ear. Dave wondered if the nurse had fucked up somehow and cut his ear whilst ridding his head of the squatters. He reckoned she was taking him to the doctor's surgery. There was an easy way to find out for sure. The doctor's surgery was only down the road about a mile in the town. To get there you had to take a left out of the estate. He could get there first on his bike, just to make sure. He forced on his Hi-Tec trainers and bombed out of his room and down the stairs, out the front door and into the back garden to where his Mongoose BMX lay just where he'd dumped it the night before. He peddled like the clappers, nipping down alleyways and darting through ginnels. He skidded to a halt at the exit to the estate. There was no sign of the nurse's car and he was positive that he'd beaten them to it. The seconds morphed into minutes and there was still no sign of the car. He gave it more time until he became sure, practically concrete in his reckoning that they hadn't left the estate, even at the busiest times when the traffic was rubbing it never took that long to get free and away. At the mental chime of ten minutes, corroborated by his calculator watch he was certain they were still on the estate. There wasn't much in the way of anything to cause them to halt. There was a paper-shop, but that was about when it came to commerce. The only other notion was that the nurse lived on the estate and had taken Eric back to her gaff. He hadn't seen her knocking about and human traffic on the estate was slow to say the least. With that thought forefront he reckoned she would be in one of the private houses, those were what Dave and his family called the privately owned homes as oppose to their council rented abodes, they were separated a bit, who wants to live next door to the poor? A lot of those houses had a rotation of signs switching from 'For Sale' to 'To Let' Dave wondered if the nurse had recently bought or rented one of those properties. He settled on doing a tour for his own piece of mind. Eric after all, no matter how much of a knuckle he acted was still in reality his little brother.
He did a tour of the lower part of the estate and found no trace of her car. He was sure she wasn't in any of the council houses as none of them came with a garage and he would have been able to see her pokey little motor parked at the side of the road. Dave checked the time, it was coming up to three o'clock, another three quarters of an hour and he would be clean as to regards to being out of school. Until then he could get a few more avenues and cul-de-sacs out of the way, and in-between those he could do some quick blasts home to make sure that Eric hadn't made his own way back to the house. He soon encountered something that he hadn't given any thought to, what if the nurse had parked her car in the garage. All of the 'private' houses had at least enough garage space for one car, some were roomy enough for four or more.
He was busy looking to his right when a car reversed out of one of the driveways to his left. The horn beeped with urgency and Dave clamped on the back brake and skidded to a stop. He looked to the driver, it was the nurse, she shook her head in reprimand and drove off slowly. Dave watched her go, there had been no one else in her car, no Eric, not no one. He rode up the driveway and dropped his back before the doorstep. He tried to look through the frosted glass that flanked the door but couldn't see anything. He followed the exterior of the house around to the back, looking in windows as he went but seeing nothing. That wasn't quite true, he did see something the fact that there was no furniture, no pictures hanging on the wall, nothing. The place looked empty and not lived in, yet the nurse had most definitely driven out from it. With a full lap done and no sign of Eric, Dave started a fresh lap, this time checking the windows, hoping to find one open. He got lucky with the leftmost kitchen window. The catch was in the open position. He slid it up a few inches, then a few inches more. There was enough space for him to climb through, but before he tried he called out. “Eric?” He gained no reply. He climbed up and through the window, he hopped down from the counter. “Eric?”
He kept repeating it, with each calling he became louder. He was all but shouting by the time he made it to the top of the stairs. Each room was empty, both of life items. In one of the rooms he found a suitcase, opened and with the contents, clothes mainly spilling out in a bid for freedom. He walked along the landing and looked up at the hatch that led into the attic. There was a smear of blood, not much, but it stood out in stark contrast to the pure white gloss paint. The hooked pole hung on the wall. He grabbed it and caught the latch. He pulled down and the hatch yawned open. The ladder spilled out of the hole like a savaged tongue. Dave reached for it and pulled it all the way down. He climbed up, poked his head though the hole. “Eric?” Again no reply, though he could hear noises, shuffling, like something sleeping fitfully. Light from the landing turned the dark of the attic grey, enough so that Dave could see the pull-string for the bare bulb. He blinked away the light until his eyes adjusted. The fidgeting form was Eric. Lying flat on his back, his hands clenching and unclenching, his feet twitching as if tapping to some unheard melody. “Eric?” The unconscious form of Eric just kept on with its minute movements. Dave climbed fully into the attic and walked slowly over to where his brother lay. His steps halted. His eyes fell to Eric's torso, it was bare. His school jumper and vest had been cut open from waist to neck, his pigeon chest and outtie belly button on show. It wasn't the semi-nudity that was cause for concern. It was the large tubular and writhing white thing that lay like a worn-out puppy on his tummy. It pulsated and writhed, headless. Dave's thoughts began to trip over themselves. He was staring at a maggot, a fucking big maggot, he'd seen maggots in biology at school, had flicked them about the class at the girls. But they had been tiny. This one was a foot in length, obese and white and god knew what it was doing to his brother. Dave ran over. He went to grab it but found he couldn't, he kicked it away from his brother instead. Blood trickled down the sides of Eric's stomach from a patch where the skin was missing and raw flesh was visible.
She smiled as she drove. Part of her was gutted that she hadn't ploughed into that kid on the bike and smeared him all over the road. He should have been in school anyway. Nothing was going to ruin her mood, not today. She always felt this good when she was on the cusp of motherhood. Her little beast-to-be would be gnawing into the kid's stomach, would burrow on inside and feast on all his soft bits and bobs, all the while the kid would stay alive as he was eaten from the inside out. Then in a few days she would open up the attic and her baby would have climbed out of the husk of the boy's body ready to continue their lineage, it was a sweet, sweet moment. The thought of the boy on the bike intruded upon her reverie. A heartbeat later she slammed on the brakes hard, not even checking the mirror to see if there was anything behind her. She knew why the boy was troubling her, she'd seen him before. She'd seen hundreds of boys before whilst she had gone about looking through hair for nits. She knew where she had seen him, it hadn't been in one of the schools, it had been at the boy Eric's house, in one of the many photographs. It was Eric's brother David. The little shit had been lying, David hadn't been at school, he had been hiding, upstairs no doubt. He'd watched her lead Eric outside and into her car and had somehow followed. She slapped the steering wheel hard wondering just how much David had seen. Even worse was what he was doing at her nest, with her baby and it's food. She did a clumsy five-point turn and gunned her car back in the direction of her nest. Smoke drifted up from the tyres as the car screeched to a halt. The door swung open and she burst out and went at a run to the front door not even bothering to secure her car. At the sight of the abandoned bicycle she growled, but at least that let her know he was still in her nest. Her rage was rampant, the key nearly snapped in the lock with the force that she applied. She ran down the hall to the stairs and bounded up them two at a time. She roared. The pole with the hook was missing and the hatch was all the way shut. She hiked up her skirt and her stinger uncurled from between her legs. She contorted and controlled it until it was at the ring. She pulled and tugged but the hatch stayed firmly shut. The little prick had somehow managed to force the hatch to stay shut no matter how much pressure she applied. “Open this fucking hatch now!” She screamed. Her maternal instincts kicking in and there was nothing she wouldn't do to save her child from hurt or pain at the hands of the world's true insects. She thumped the walls, wanting to unleash her rage and to make enough noise to hopefully scare the bastard down and then she would nurse him, oh, she would give him all the medicine she could. She was panting after a few minutes of her tantrum and it had accomplished nothing but to make her sweaty and even more furious. She tried to compose herself, to think of a way to gain entry into the attic and put things right, put everything back on track, her offspring deserved it. A couple of steadying breaths and she went with. “David, I know you're up there and I know that what you've found is very confusing to you, let me explain and then perhaps we can work something out, something that is good for the both of us.” There would be no terms agreed, she vowed to tear his head free from his stupid human thorax and do it as slowly and as messily as was possible.
“Yeah right!” Came a voice that was dipping up and down in tone. She grinned, he was up there, cornered, no where to run.
“I promise, I'm a nurse.”
That made her thump on the walls, putting knuckle deep indents into the plaster boards. “Open the hatch you horrible little cunt, you piece of human shit, I am going to break you up into a hundred little pieces and feed you to my baby!”
“You mean the maggoty like thing?”
“Don't you hurt my baby!” She gained the sound of stamping from up above and she wailed.
“Let me go or next time I will stamp on it!”
“Let's talk about this like grown-ups.” Her calmness was forced.
“Grown-ups? You're not human and I'm a kid.”
She closed her eyes and started to think. There wasn't anything about the house that could help her, but there was the shed in the back garden. She hadn't had occasion to go look in that since she had taken over the lease of the house the previous week. Her feet slapped the stairs as she sped down them. She jumped the last four and landed with perfect balance. She legged it through the house, into the kitchen and thumbed the catch on the lock of the back door. There was a padlock on the shed door and she hadn't a clue as to where the key would be. She grabbed up a rough rock from the edge of the garden and used it to brute force the lock off from the hasp. From inside she grabbed a long-handled garden fork. She ran back into the house with the tool knowing it would make short work of gaining her entry to the attic and regaining control over the situation. She used one of the prongs to pierce the hatch and yanked. The hatch stayed up. She began to thrust the fork upwards. The prongs puncturing the wood. Again and again she thrust the tool upwards and more and more holes were driven into the hatch. The holes blended together to make bigger holes until there was nothing left of the hatch and the ladder slipped down far enough for her to grab. As she ascended the ladder she kept jabbing the fork up into the attic and different angles in case David was gearing up to attack her. She saw him over beneath one of the eaves, keeping his distance. She scanned the attic and saw her larvae unharmed and writhing in the corner. Eric wasn't there, Eric was gone. “Where's Eric?” She demanded. David shrugged trying to appear tough and replied. “Magic, I guess.”
She levelled the fork at him and took a couple of steps closer. “What have you done with him?”
Dave knelt over Eric and gently shook him. His eyes were open, had been all along, they had no focus, the pupils yawning wide. “Eric.” He realised for the last hour or so all he had been saying was his brother's name, over and over again. He grabbed both of Eric's wrists and started to pull him up. Eric didn't struggle against him, nor did he help. It took everything that Dave had strength-wise, he wasn't very strong to begin with to get Eric on to his feet. With his brother vertical he headed over to the hatch. He looked back, Eric was standing where he had left him, hadn't followed, hadn't done anything. “What the hell did she do to you?” He asked as he went back and guided Eric over to the hatch. Dave wondered how he would get Eric to start to climb down the ladder in his zombified state. It proved easier than he had feared. Once he had gotten Eric's feet onto the rungs and gently pushed him downwards so he was forced to move a foot onto the next rung, then another and another he continued until he reached the landing, from there he stayed put. Dave climbed down and led him by the hand across the landing and down the stairs. He led Eric to the front door and had his hand halfway to the door knob when he heard the screech of brakes.
“Shit.” He turned and hustled Eric towards the kitchen. He opened the back door and pushed Eric through. He watched a moment as Eric continued to move forward across the lawn on auto pilot towards the hedges at the far end of the garden. Dave mentally urged Eric on, willing him to go faster. Dave knew he had no choice, if he went with Eric then the kitchen door would be unlocked and she would give chase and what a short and miserably ended chase it would be. He stepped back inside, closed the kitchen door and locked it. He knew there was only one place for him to hide, not a safe place and one that she would check straight away, it was the only thing he could think of to give Eric the best chance of escape, hoping that he would just stumble onwards and over anything in his way and be found and taken to a place of safety.
Dave grinned at her, there was no humour in its crescent. Fear was rallying through him doing laps and making him tremble. He'd felt a little bit of piss flow free as she'd started towards him with the fork levelled, ready to drive it through his guts for what he had done to her plan. Instinct caused him to raise his arms up as she switched the angle of the fork and shoved it towards his face. The blow didn't come and Dave risked a peek above his folded arms to see that she had reversed the fork. Without hesitation she swung the handled end at his now unprotected head, catching him full in the side at the temple. His eyes rolled back and he crumpled to the floor. The nurse cast aside the tool and hitched her skirt and freed her stinger once more, Eric was gone, but the brother was here and his meat and soft bits would serve her baby just as well.
Sergeant Drake stood still without fidgeting. He was used to having to hang around hospitals for hours on end and had long ago lost the bad habit of pacing or clock watching, neither of them did any good. P.C Evans came to join him. “The mother is on her way. Though she asked if David was here as well.”
“The brother, older, twelve years old.”
Drake turned and looked at the door. The boy was on the other side being tended to by a doctor. He didn't know what to make of it, things like this just didn't happen on the island. The little lad had been found trundling down the middle of the road with his right ear hacked off.” They'd only found out who he was from his name tag in his school uniform. They didn't know where he'd been, or where he was going. Now it turned out there was a brother missing as well. Drake turned back from the door and his musings. “Let's hope the lad turns up.”
“Think it's gang related, Sarge?”
Drake looked at him like he was an idiot. They didn't have gangs on the island, groups of yobs, yes, everywhere had them, but not like the gangs over on the mainland. Drake had his suspicions that this was the work of a predator. He couldn't count how many times they had toured the schools teaching and preaching about 'Stranger Danger' and yet these kids still kept getting in cars they weren't supposed to.
“Eric, where's my Eric?”the woman looked pale and on the verge of fainting. Drake didn't even try to give a smile. Drake was about to say something but the doctor emerged. “You must be the boy's mother.” It wasn't a question, he'd seen that same look on countless faces, all dripping with fear, sweating with what might be nightmare truth and cold hard death. He was glad this time that he wouldn't be stripping the woman of some of her heart. “It's okay, he's not in any immediate danger.” The words were like a medicine. She glanced up, silently saying a thanks to God. The doctor smiled. “Though I need to talk to you a little before you see him.” The relieved look slipped some, her mind automatically forgetting what was said previously and her mind birthed out some dramatics.
She took most of it in. They weren't sure what toxins had caused his catatonic state, they had sent a blood sample for some tests, but they hoped that as the toxins were expelled from his body then he would regain control over his normal motor functions. They would be able to perform an operation on the stump where his ear had once been and that there had been leaps and bounds in cosmetics where they would fit him with a false one once the wound had healed. The main thing was right now he got as much rest as possible. And with her knowledge that her son would live, she whirled on the sergeant and demanded to know what was happening to find the bastards that had did this to her son, and what they were doing to find her other son who still hadn't turned up.
Eric walked down the road holding a stick and making one big noise by dragging it down the railings as he went. It had been a month since the nit nurse. The police had put her picture on the television but no one had been able to find her. They hadn't found David either. No matter how they asked the questions he couldn't remember anything after sitting down and the nurse starting to mess with his head. This was the first day he had been allowed on his own, his mother had been smothering him, not letting him out of her sight. His dad had finally flipped and told Eric he could go out and play if he wanted. So Eric had left the house to the sounds of his parents screaming at each other, they'd been doing it pretty much non-stop. Eric's stick snapped, he tossed it aside and used his fingertips to strike each rail in turn. Which he did for a good dozen strides before stopping. He blinked a couple of times to make sure he wasn't seeing things. He was sure he wasn't. Dave was up ahead. Standing at the corner and smiling. Eric's heartbeat quickened and he was about to burst into a run but a white van screeched to a halt beside him. The side door was dragged back. Two men were in the back. One of them had a rifle. He got out and pushed past Eric. The second man tried a reassuring smile. “Eric, get in.”
Eric shook his head.
“Eric, you're in danger, that isn't your brother.”
Eric looked to the corner where his brother was standing. He wasn't smiling any more, he look furious, eyes narrowed. Eric looked to the man with the rifle who was training his aim. The man inside the van spoke again making Eric look back to him. “Eric, I need you to get into the van. That isn't your brother, your brother is dead, you need to trust me.”
“Why?” Was the only word Eric could think of.
The man nodded, understanding that Eric needed something solid. The man lifted a hand to the side of his own head and pulled away his right ear. It wobbled in his fingers. Eric could see the bump of healed skin. Involuntarily he lifted a hand to the large plaster that hid his healing wound. He climbed into the back of the van as the sound of a rifle firing rent through the normal street noise.
The End...or is it dum-dum-der