The thing clinging to the living room ceiling winked at me and wiggled its little backside before venting the contents of its bowels on the corpse in the half-open casket beneath. It giggled, a high girlish sound and scuttled to the corner of the room where it hung upside down, watching me and rubbing its six fingered hands over vestigial ears like a monstrous, mutated bat.
Not paying it any attention, I picked my way through the wrecked furniture, moved aside the teetering pile of clothes on the untouched fake leather sofa, and sat down. Sure enough, within a couple of minutes, it began to creep back towards the centre of the room and the dead body. Posing for a moment like a prize diver showing off a new move, it stealthily dropped down onto the open portion of the half casket where it began to vigorously dry hump the stiff. While I certainly knew that feeling well enough, I also knew something the creature did not: that in death as in showbiz, timing was everything.
Beyond the window, the dark extinguished the remaining light. Not a difficult task given this was the frozen heart of a Scottish winter: perpetual dark leavened by shades of grey. Twisted as my sense of fun undoubtedly was, being caught after dark and on the job in a run down housing estate in Gilmerton, was not my idea of a night on the town. Gilmerton, while technically within city limits, did have any others which dared to apply. Perhaps that was why, in true old fashioned pioneer spirit, the hardy family that had survived here for the past two years only thought they a poltergeist to deal with. I hadn’t had the heart to tell them it was so much worse than something that just wanted to throw the pots and pans around.
A phlegmy chuckle this time, muffled by whatever it was doing to the corpse, a woman of indeterminate age, although given the part of town I was in she could easily have been anything under thirty. Isa Simpson had been a big woman, someone the quacks would have classified as morbidly obese. The collapsed lower third of her face and absence of lips indicated a teeth free zone and grey, straggling hair struggled to make it to her shoulders.
Her distraught husband had told me that the whole sorry business began last week when she’d died of a heart-attack. While it was true pots and pans had been thrown, some of which had even struck the two little boys Kenny and Ryan glancing blows and injured Tyson the dog, there was a new and sinister aspect to this little mortality tale: the creature appeared to be guarding the body. No one could get near to take it for burial and so it lay in all its decomposing splendour stinking up the house and giving the family a whole new take on dust to dust.
A feral growling sound reminded me what I was here for. Crossing the room, I took the scrying glass out of my pocket and, studiously ignoring the humper, positioned the obsidian surface to reflect the corpse’s eyes. Scrying glasses, if you made them properly and had the eyes to see, showed not just the surface, but the behemoth lurking underneath waiting to break it.
From the frantic activity it looked like something was about to….