But the clinic was a job too far, a risk that didn't justify the reward.
The isolated rehab clinic should have been an easy target. But this simple job would turn into a nightmare that none of the young men could have foreseen, unleashing an evil that was sown way before their time.
The Clinic is a twisted, macabre, and chilling tale told from the perspective of three delinquents, young men who never had a chance and are forced to make their own ways in life. They set their sights on an out-of-town rehab clinic, hoping to pilfer the prized possessions of rich alcoholics and addicts. But the clinic is not what they thought it was. Their plan inevitably goes awry and their night of petty crime turns into a fight for survival.
Can the boys make it out alive, and will their lifelong friendship remain intact once the truth is revealed?
|Product dimensions:||8.20(w) x 5.50(h) x 0.30(d)|
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The rhythmic fluctuations of a heavy snore crept through the house like mist through a graveyard, interrupted sporadically by the chugging of a strained breath and spaced, almost melodically, between the mechanical machinations of a large grandfather clock.
Inside the living room, a veil of dust hovered, its gentle flow caught in the moonlight that spilled through a hastily opened curtain.
The living room had been overturned. The drawers were opened and emptied, their contents piled on the threadbare carpet. Ornaments had been hastily checked and repositioned, a box of painkillers had been studied and discarded, a box of papers, receipts, old newspapers and lottery tickets, had been skimmed and then rejected.
Next to the living room, through a short hallway, the kitchen was still. The back door was ajar and rocking in the light breeze, the night outside peeking in. A large pan, an assortment of cutlery and a single plate were stacked in the sink; a half-eaten cake sat uncovered on the counter.
On the other side of the living room, beyond the kitchen and through the disturbed sheet of dust, stretched a short hallway. Three sets of cautious footsteps skulked in the darkness, taking each stride with purpose, careful not to step on any of the worn and creaky floorboards that lined the L-shaped hallway. Scuffed jeans brushed the carpeted floor, threatening the silence.
One intruder stopped at a closed door, waiting patiently as the sound of snoring punctured the otherwise silent house. A second stopped at a door that stood slightly ajar, eager to go inside. The final intruder paused outside an open doorway, through which, aided by a sliver of moonlight, they could see the noisemaker: a fat man lying on his back, his chest rising and falling with each chaotic breath.
The first intruder opened the closed door, glided inside and shut the door behind, making sure it didn't click in place. They quickly moved around the room; opening drawers and wardrobe doors. There was little for the second intruder to find. They scuttled around the room, took an interest in a few objects and quickly left. The third intruder was slower, more cautious. They advanced slowly, opened dresser drawers and took the objects that glittered in the moonlight: rings, earrings, a diamond necklace. They took a wallet and a watch from the top of the dresser and a smartphone from a bedside cabinet beside the snoring man.
The three intruders met in the hallway, paused and then broke away, this time heading in the same direction and moving with haste. They moved noisily across the thin hallway carpet and then over the linoleum kitchen floor, before filing out through the back door.
Giggles and hushed breaths of excitement cut through the night air, filtering through the blackness, not penetrating the drawn-curtains and sleeping suburban exteriors.
They wound through a back alley, their feet stomping heavily, visible in the blotches of light shed by the streetlights that lit either end of the long alleyway. They moved into a park, cut through a line of trees and stopped in the center of a copse.
In the house, the snoring stopped, transformed into a wet chortle, and then a choke. The strained sound spat into the darkness and then a veil of silence descended. After a few breathless moments, the obese snorer gasped in a large lungful of air and bolted upright in bed, his body struggling against asphyxiation.
He mumbled to himself, snapped on a bedside lamp, and rubbed his eyes. He checked the digital display on the bedside clock and pushed off the edge of the bed, his bulbous feet slapping on the floor. He slipped into a pair of slippers and slogged his heavy backside across the room, the hallway, and then into the bathroom. He whistled to himself as he struggled to urinate, his prostate pulsing out sporadic bursts of piss like wet machine gun fire. He finished, flushed the chain, and stumbled back to bed.
In moments, the rhythm of the snoring returned. The back door still squeaked gently as it swung on its hinges.
In the dark clearing, lit by moonlight and standing in the shadows of creeping oak trees, a darkened, agitated figure squawked an excited call into the silence, his typically bass-laden voice suddenly high pitched. "Whatcha get?"
"Jesus Daz, what the fuck happened to your voice?"
Darren frowned at his friend. "I'm excited."
"Like a little girl?"
"Fuck you Eddie."
Eddie laughed. Next to him, Malcolm, the third figure in the darkness — the tallest and stockiest of the three — silenced his laughing friend.
Malcolm kept a vigilant eye on their surroundings, watching for any trouble, listening for any sirens that would signal an end to their night. "Come on," he said hurriedly, hearing nothing but suspecting the worst. "Let's stash it; we'll sort it out in the morning."
They put the bags in the undergrowth, covering them with a layer of twigs and leaves. Even in the daylight no one would see the treasure that lurked underneath the blanket of foliage.
"Come on, let's split up, head home," Malcolm said. "Back here tomorrow morning, right?" He checked the faces in the darkness and acknowledged the nods of recognition. He waited for the others to leave, looked around one last time, and then followed them.CHAPTER 2
Sleep had glued his eyelashes together and when he reluctantly pried his eyes open, allowing a wash of bright light to penetrate the blackness that he had been so accustomed to for the last eight hours, it peeled apart Velcro. He groaned, and then saw his mother.
"Good morning Darren," she said.
Darren groaned again, but he felt a little more alert in her presence. She rarely ever ventured into his bedroom and when she did, it was never good news. Two weeks ago, she had entered his room to look for a cigarette and ended up leaving with his stash of porn magazines and a bag of weed. She told him that the magazines were degrading to women, that they gave his perverted little mind a skewed view of the world, then she sold them to the greasy perverts who were always hanging around the local liquor store. She never mentioned the weed, he knew she took it and, although she would deny it if he had the balls to ask her about it, he knew she had smoked it. She had probably shared it with Ian; her no-hoper prick of a boyfriend — the bald-headed dickhead who couldn't keep his eyes off the teenage girls in short skirts whenever he walked past the school; the depraved alcoholic who drank like a fish and stank like a rat.
"Morning," he replied. He knew she was up to something. She had been smoking crack or snorting speed again, he could see it in her eyes. They were red and wide open as if surprised. They darted around his room impatiently, absorbing everything in rapid gulps. "Everything okay?" he asked.
He watched as her jaw worked tirelessly, chewing the air she was breathing. She was gaunt, the skin on her face clung to her skull like paper. She hadn't always been like that, he remembered a different mother in his childhood, a mother that actually treated him like a son, a mother that cared for him and for herself. He didn't know exactly when she had transformed into the drug addicted, malnourished alcoholic freak that he knew now, didn't know when her kind hands and caring words had turned harsh and cold, but it was long enough ago for him to struggle to remember the woman she used to be.
He would have liked to blame Ian, but he was new. He doubted Ian would have stood a chance with a sober woman anyway. Ian wasn't his father; he had taken off when Darren was too young to remember and his mother hadn't held any grudges. They were both young, sixteen or seventeen, the same age as Darren was now, and what they had was fleeting, messy, and pointless. He only knew that much because she told him during an awkward conversation while she was high on stimulants and he was trying not to vomit.
There was a good chance that she had always been destined to turn out this way, a good chance that life had just caught up with her and dragged her down. She had always been predisposed to the darker side, she wasn't particularly bright, wasn't particularly suited to a life on the bread line, and she liked her booze and her drugs. It was inevitable. Darren was just thankful that she hadn't been this bad when he was a baby; God knows how he would have turned out if she was.
She had a troubled past, one that he didn't care to know about and one she didn't care to explain. There was a good chance that she hadn't changed; that she had merely reverted to whatever person she had been before she'd had him.
"I need some money," she told him, chewing her bottom lip with her yellowed, brittle teeth.
Darren sighed. For a moment, he thought his mother knew about the robbery. It was paranoia, brought on by his sudden awakening and her rare appearance, but she did have a knack for figuring out his wrongdoings. He didn't know whether that was the mother in her or the criminal in her.
Her eyes widened further at the possibility of getting what she wanted.
"Five. Ten. Twen —"
"I have a ten in my wallet," he interrupted, nodding to his pants on the floor.
She grinned meekly and leant over to give him a kiss. She stank of body odor and stale cigarettes. She also smelled like Ian, a concoction of cheap aftershave and cheaper booze. Her dry, cracked lips brushed against his cheek and made him cringe. As she pulled away he tried to think of a time when her rare moments of affection didn't make him cringe. He couldn't.
She left the room in a hurry, not checking his pants. He frowned to himself, leaned over the edge of the bed and saw that she had already been through his wallet, taking what she needed. She probably only asked because he woke up while she was doing it, or because she hoped he had more to give her than what she had already taken. He shook his head and tried not to think about it. He had more important things on his mind. Last night had been a success and this morning he would reap the rewards.
* * *
Malcolm was staring at the ceiling when the alarm on his phone sounded. He snapped his hand down on the device, turning it off before the incessant tune had a chance to get louder. He sprang up on his elbows, turned to the window by the bed, and scowled at the smeared glass, through which he could see the dilapidated, imposing, brick-shit-house apartment building opposite.
The small block was wedged in the housing estate like a Meccano brick in a LEGO box. No one had any idea which architectural misfit had decided to dump it there and, it seemed, no one had paid any attention to it after it had been built. It couldn't have been more than a decade old and it was already crumbling like a freshly baked cookie.
The idiots on the top floor had been partying all night again, playing their music loud enough to keep the entire building, and the few dozen terraced houses that surrounded it, awake. The other residents hadn't complained, most of them had probably been partying with the careless and feckless people who owned the riotous apartment, and Malcolm couldn't say anything. He couldn't afford to draw any attention to himself or to his house, and not just because of what he got up to at night.
He had lived with his mother and father for most of his life, had suffered through their fighting. He had been there when his dad staggered back from the pub with a woman on his arm and then tried to invite her into the bed he shared with Malcolm's mum. Obviously, it didn't go too well; surprisingly, it was his dad who won that fight. He beat his mother while Malcolm and the woman from the pub watched; he was too young and shocked to intervene, she was too drunk. His mother slept on the floor that night, with his father in the bed, snoring his head off. The woman from the pub slept on the floor in Malcolm's room, he didn't invite her and he had no idea why she chose to stay, but he was happy to discover she was gone in the morning.
His mother took several more beatings after that, but she was on the winning side of a few herself. She drank as much as his dad and could be just as violent as him. There were several occasions where she had beaten his father with shoes, pool cues, and even a chair from the dining room; he had seen her throw plates, vases, and cartons of milk at him.
They were a reckless and violent couple, but they did show the odd moment of love, times when they would kiss or hug, or times when Malcolm had to listen to them do a lot more through the thin walls that linked his bedroom to theirs. But those moments were few and far between. They usually came when the drinking started, when the merriness was high and the depression and anger were still a few glasses away.
They had both been through a lot. Malcolm's dad was a second-generation immigrant from Nigeria, his father, Malcolm's grandfather, had moved to a house outside the city and suffered a decade of intolerance and violence due to the color of his skin. Malcolm's father had experienced it himself in his schooldays, but before long they moved to the city. There he met Malcolm's mother. She was as white and middle class as they came, and after a troubled youth being abused by peers for the color of his skin, Malcolm's father spent the next few years suffering abuse from his father because of the color of his wife's skin.
When Malcolm was twelve, his dad walked out. Malcolm blamed himself because he had been getting into a lot of trouble at school. His dad also blamed him. He called him a punk, a nuisance. Malcolm hated him at first, but he realized he would be better off without him and was happy to see the back of him.
His mother stayed for another six years, but in the end she went the way of his father. She walked out of the front door one day, never said where she was going, and she hadn't been back since. That was three months ago and he was confident he would never see her again. The house was still in their name but the rent was paid for by the unemployment checks. It was just a matter of time before they noticed that the woman claiming the checks didn't actually live in the house they were sent to. They wouldn't give the money to Malcolm; he was only seventeen, too young to qualify. He knew he could look after himself but they would either consider him too young and try to cart him off to a foster home, or would find him of age and let him rot on the streets.
He knew they would soon discover he was living there alone, but he had plans for when that moment came. He was stepping up his game. He was making sure that he had money. He was working, doing what his parents never did. What he was doing was illegal, but it was still work, and it would still put a roof over his head when the government decided to strip the existing one away.
* * *
Eddie grinned as his mother walked out of his bedroom, cursing under her breath as she departed. He heard her talking to his father downstairs but he knew his old man wouldn't say anything to him. Neither of them would. He always had his own way and would continue getting his own way. They were too soft, maybe because he was an only child, maybe because their "softlysoftly" parenting approach — which hadn't worked through a mischievous childhood, and had failed miserably when that mischievous child turned into a criminal teen — didn't raise a child responsive to discipline.
He grinned, turned over, and closed his eyes.
He had a lot to thank his parents for. He was thankful that they were still together, unlike Mal's or Daz's, although he liked to fantasize about them breaking up, just to see which one would fight over him more and how much he could enjoy playing with their love. He was also thankful that they both worked and had enough money to own their four-bedroom house outright, although he liked to play down his parents' wealth and hated them for it whenever his peers mocked him and called him a rich boy. He wasn't rich; he was as street and as tough as they were. He got into fights, he took drugs, he robbed and stole and —
"Shit!" he rolled over, checked his phone, checked his watch and then sprang out of bed. His mother would get her wish after all, but not because he was going to join them on their regular trip to the counselor. He had tired of that bitch and her nagging, bullshit theories on why he didn't listen to authority. He was getting up because he had some loot to collect.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "The Clinic"
Copyright © 2018 David Jester.
Excerpted by permission of Skyhorse Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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