#FRIDAY FLASH: THE ZODIAC CLUB

The Zodiac Club, at 666 Casanova Street, loomed ominously over Silver City like a great black spider waiting to ensnare its prey. Once a full moon clung to the sky, a sickly stew of screams and howls clung to the wind and drifted down to the city, coaxing Victor Brown from an already fitful sleep.

Retired Police Detective Victor Brown was a discarded and crumpled tissue of a man who spent night after night on his soaking bed as dark dreams and worse memories lapped at the shore of his sleep. Until he awoke, drowning in sweat.

Each night, violent thoughts brewed and bubbled to boiling point until, at last, one cold winter night, thought congealed into action.

*

Just after midnight, Victor stumbled out of his clammy bed and into the migraine bright bathroom. He splashed his face with water and looked in the cracked mirror at his battle-scarred face with its furrowed brow and drinker’s nose.

He stumbled back into the bedroom and collapsed on the bed. Wheezing, he poured himself a large Jack Daniels. His eyes filled up with tears as he looked at the dusty framed photo of his wife and child, on holiday outside Silver City. He picked it up and kissed it.

It had been ten years since their car had broken down and they had made the fatal mistake of going to The Zodiac Club for help.

Victor blamed himself, of course. He’d been on a stakeout and hadn’t answered the phone when his wife had called. He knew what went on behind the walls of the Zodiac Club once the moon was full and gibbous. The whole Police Department knew but what could they do? Nick Casanova owned the club and owned the whole stinking city.

He switched on the lone light bulb, which buzzed and flickered, revealing a room cluttered with wooden barrels and crates. And a large, battered, black suitcase.

Victor opened it wide. Inside were a Glock, three grenades,six silver bullets and a gleaming silver dagger. He said a silent prayer and guzzled from a bottle of bourbon before fastening a crucifix around his neck.

*

The moonlight oozed across Silver City’s shattered sidewalks like quicksilver; creeping between the cracks, crawling into the gutters. Victor slowly walked up the hill, his breath appearing in front of him like a spectre.

As he got closer to the Zodiac Club’s blinking neon sign, Victor could hear music and laughter. The screech of a woman suddenly sliced the air. Victor shivered, pulling the long black overcoat close to his flesh. He pulled out the pistol and carefully pushed open the large metal door. He paused and then stepped into the hallway.

Checking his pistol, Victor walked toward the sounds. He paused in front of a pair of wooden doors and kicked them open.

The room was suffocating in red velvet and leather. Half eaten corpses littered the marble floor and around them, feasting, were some sort of creatures – half man, half wolf.

Instinctively, Victor threw a grenade.

The next few moments were a flash of fireworks and explosions.

As the smoke subsided, the creatures crawled towards him.

There were about five of them. A couple of them ran toward Victor but he sprayed them with silver bullets. He threw another grenade and kept on firing as the wolf creatures pounced.

Then there was silence except for his heartbeat. And a snarling sound. Victor turned and saw the wolf behind him ready to attack. As he went for his revolver the wolf was on him, knocking him to the ground.

With a series of slashes from his silver Bowie knife, it was over and Victor was soaked with blood. Panting he struggled to move the werewolf’s corpse and blinked as a hand grenade rolled onto the ground. And then he looked into wolf’s bloody jaws. A grenade’s pin was attached to one of its incisors.

Victor gasped and started to say a prayer.

And then it all turned black.

(This yarn first appeared at A Twist Of Noir)