Dead of Night: Tales from the Big Easy

PROLOGUE: The Oldest Sin...

Torpor Flashback of Jacob Cross' Embrace

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The radio is stuck on jazz, Jacob Cross tries to change stations but all he gets is static. The highway is deserted, apart from the bastard with his full beams on behind the battered ’43 Ford. All he can make out is a dark shape behind the steering wheel.

Frustrated, Cross twists the rear view mirror to stop the glare in his eyes. That damn radio! He flicks it off. The drive back from Baton Rouge is always a bitch, especially when back with practically as much stock as you’d left with.

The guy behind catches up, his beams illuminate the car. Cross glances at the dashboard, a steady 80. He had figured he’d be able to cruise by Tania’s, get some of the stress of the day out and then head to Rebecca and Tommy in time for dinner and Jack Benny.

The guy behind blares his horn. Bastard, he’s got the whole road! Cross winds down the window to wave to overtake. Its then that the other guy rams the car.

For the first time Cross feels an icy stab of fear. He floors the gas and edges ahead but his jalopy was built for economy not speed. The car behind has a bigger engine, the roar of the engine can be heard through the open window as it crashes into the car again.

Cross grabs the wheel tightly, controlling the slide from the back end, his heart pounding in his chest. Cross glances back over his shoulder to see the car lunging forward for another go, the bastard is smiling! White teeth illuminated in the dark.

Acting on instinct, Cross spins the wheel, turning the car down a dirt road, with a battered ‘For Sale’ sign. Crazily, Cross notices a ‘Sold’ banner nailed over the front.

The muscle car roars past, the horn a constant drone, there is a second glimpse of wild eyes and smiling teeth.

The headlights illuminate the overgrown dirt drive, a dilapidated plantation house quickly looms up from the swamp and tundra. The salesman realises he’s doing 100 down the dirt road, the car bouncing and careening all over the place.

Cross hits the brakes before plowing into a parked shiny new Lincoln. The headlights illuminate the house, dark with age and encrusted with weather stains and drifting cobwebs.

Cross’ face streams with sweat and his hands shake. He stumbles out of the car heading round to the back to see the damage. The rear is totally crushed in. Cross look up from the battered remnants of the car’s boot and sees three relatively new cars parked in the drive way.

Cross hears humming, a sweet lullaby coming from the plantation porch and the familiar creak of a rocking chair. The humming is coming from a twenty something black woman, scantily dressed in an old fashioned cotton nightgown. She’s watching the salesman with a slight smile on her pretty face.

Time seems to skip, Cross realises he’s on the porch. She stands and Cross catches his breath, she’s flawlessly beautiful with skin the colour of café au lait. She giggles demurely at his sudden fluster.

Cross looks back at his car, frowning at the fact that it is now in perfect condition. He wipes his brow. It’s dry. His hand steady.

“You look like you need some lemonade, honey”

Cross explains that he’d stopped off at the Delacroix Mansion as he’d noticed it had been sold. It was on his route and he was wondering if she’d be interested in looking at some samples.

Cross notices that his sample case is in hand.

“Sure. I might even have a proposition for you, sugah”

She slinks past Cross, brushing up against him. The salesman catches a scent of perfume and can’t help but watch her swinging hips as she opens the front door and walks into the mansion.

Jacob Cross follows in a daze.

Darkness. Blood. Sex. Cold. Death. Blood. The images come in pulses, all to the sound of a roaring engine and a blaring horn.

Blood trail

Cross wakes. The stake has been pulled from his chest, leaving a gaping hole. It’s tossed on the table lit by the overhead, tungsten lamp…

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