Legend had it that an imprisoned dragon lay coiled in the rock under Edinburgh Castle and that the day it broke free and wreaked its revenge would be the city’s last. I had never been particularly interested in the story, but the supernatural critter that had wrapped itself around Maud Mulroney’s corpse in her open-casket coffin, appeared to be doing its very own winged worm tribute act.
A blob of phlegm flung by the corpse cuddler in question just missed the top of my head and that’s when it started to laugh, a rasping, guttural noise that sounded like thirty years of dedicated cigarette smoking put to good use. Its long, snake-like body curled tighter around the dead woman, so tight in fact that it pierced the bloodless skin with its razor-sharp scales.
This was Maud’s living room, or at least it had been when she was alive. She had lived in this house, a terraced affair in the village of Gilmerton, for fifty years and I wondered what she would have made of her wake. Ordinarily I could have just summoned her spirit to find that out given she had only just kicked the proverbial bucket. But not today, not here, because the fact was that this little supernatural charmer was not only holding the corpse hostage, it was also preventing the spirit from leaving the body.
The creature began to convulse, spasms running along it’s entire length before it vomited green bile all over the corpse’s head in an explosive rush. The acrid stench was overpowering and I had to fight not to add my own contribution to the gunge-fest.
Supernatural vermin extermination wasn’t my usual gig and it was beginning to show. My normal day job was hunting down and killing the perpetrators of unsolved murders but it was all I could manage after my last starring role had damn near killed me. I was, as the Fox twins kept on telling me, recuperating; which was why they had succeeded in foisting this particular no hoper on me. But it was true: I wasn’t back to anything like full strength and now it looked like I might not even be up to getting rid of this parasitic bottom-feeder.
I had to concede however that it was a bottom-feeder with a sense of humour because it had now transferred Maude’s blonde bobbed wig from her head to its own, the red glare of its eyes visible through the strands of hair. Slowly and with great deliberation it winked at me, opening its mouth to reveal rows of wicked looking teeth before settling down to nibble at the corpse’s nose.
Question was which of us had bitten off more than we could chew?