The location Jules had sent was, for whatever reason, the address of an old, defunct restaurant, standing alone in the parking lot of a struggling strip mall. When I saw the building, I thought of the story Cumster had told me of his own capture and rape. An abandoned garage was not so different from an abandoned restaurant, I supposed, but unless Ray was the rapist himself…why would Ray bring him here? Unless, like Cumster, Ray was working with the rapist in some capacity, perhaps even unwittingly. That satisfied my instinct, at least. There was something similar in the way Ray and Cumster carried themselves, how they seemed to have developed these entire alternate personas…as opposed to Bernard, and opposed to Marcus, who both seemed consumed by failure, or something in them that was incomplete. But who was Jules? Had…Cumster warped me, in the same way Ray had warped Jules around his finger, warped him enough to convince him to walk him out of jail? I would probably walk Cumster out of prison, I supposed (but only so I could keep him in my own, where he really belongs). How was I going to help Jules when I didn’t even think I could help myself?
I arrived after the rest of the force, for the most part, and after what had happened with Ray a few days prior, they were busy setting up a perimeter and scoping out the building. No one wanted to go in without understanding what, exactly, we were dealing with this time around, or at least, no one wanted to go in besides me. I could…feel something in the building. It felt…like how I felt when I was in the middle of a case, when I was looking at the chaos of a mystery and aching to tame it into some understandable order and clarity…but more focused than that. There was something in there, something that ached for me to control it. I thought it must be Jules. After all, what else could be in there beside him, and possibly the rapist, I supposed, but I doubted he would allow himself to be found this easily.
I paced, wringing my gloved hands, waiting for everyone to get into position so we could enter. We got the all clear, and I went in first–and there, sitting in the middle of the restaurant, tied to a chair, was Jules. Or at least, I knew it was Jules from the smell of him, though he didn’t quite look like the same Jules who had left the precinct a few days ago–in the same way that I suppose I don’t look like the same Adam Hoft from a few days ago either. But it was him, nearly naked aside from some filthy jockstrap, reeking of sweat and piss, his muscles…fuck, he was jacked. It looked like he’d been working out for a whole year, and taking steroids to boot. He…looked like how I would expect Ray to make someone look, in the same way I was learning that Cumster wanted his men to look certain ways as well. But as soon as I saw him, I knew he wasn’t the chaos I had felt. There was something else in here, something…worse, not that the thought made any sense, at least, until the first fleshy…tentacle shot out from the window into the kitchen, shoved itself down an officer’s throat, and dragged him back into the kitchen, flailing in terror.
No one moved. No one could even be sure we had just seen what we’d seen. In fact, it felt like my memory was actively trying to wipe and deny it had even happened, trying desperately to explain it in any other way than what I had seen. I looked around at the other cops around me in the restaurant, hoping one of them would at least meet my eyes, confirm that whatever horror had passed in front of us was in fact there, but none of them would meet me. They were all white, and then the thing squeezed its way through the window, the sheetrock cracking and crumbling around it as we did, and I still struggled to make sense of it as a thing existing–at first, all I could see were…pieces.
It had hands. It had four hands, in fact. It was crawling, mostly, or really, dragging itself along, because of its sheer size. It had a face, or rather, it had a body with a face on it. It had a mass, really, I don’t even know if you can call it a body exactly. There was a top and a bottom. The top was covered in these pustules or sacs filled with some dark liquid, pulsing and throbbing as it came through. Somehow, they didn’t pop, they just shook and shuddered. On the bottom, were…these tentacles, or really, what my mind said, was an udder. These massive, prehensile teats hanging from its bloated, hairy, amorphous body, and the face sliding across it, too many eyes, an uncountable number, because everytime one blinked, it disappeared, the skin closing over it, another eye opened…elsewhere, but always that mouth. That massive, frog-like mouth splitting the things entire body, filled with mismatched teeth, and the bright red tongue drooling across the floor. Two more teats and forced their way into the mouths of the officers around me, before someone managed to do something, and fire their gun at it, striking one of the sacs on its back. It ruptured, the filth streaming down the side of its body, where the tongue licked it up. It smelled of burnt butter and bitter black molasses.