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Laverick’s face flushed a little and Nicol swore that he was going to slug him one there and then.
Instead he gently shoved Martin’s bottom, ushering him away from the door.
‘Daddy needs to talk in private,’ he explained as Martin began to raise his hands, clearly wanting to be picked up.
He didn’t take his stare off Nicol, but watched Martin from the corner of his eye.
He shut the front door and locked it.
When he was sure Martin had gone, he gave Nicol his full attention.
‘What the fuck are you doing here?’ he hissed through gritted teeth.
‘I changed my mind. I want to help you with your research.’
‘It’s a bit fucking late now. I’ve already managed what you said was impossible.’
‘Imagine what we could achieve together now that you have laid the foundations.’
‘Piss off. You bailed on me when I needed you the most. If I’d listened to you I would’ve given up on this. But instead my Martin is alive and well. I get to spend my days raising him instead of cradling a frozen corpse. And I did it all on my own. I am never going to share that with anyone.’
‘But think of all the other kids you could save.’ Nicol pleaded, knowing full well that this would tug at the doctor’s heartstrings.
‘You are trying to manipulate me in the most sly and cruel fashion,’ Laverick snarled. ‘And I will not tolerate it.’
‘But we could take this to a global scale. Your research could be worth billions.’
‘It is worth billions. And I will get the full benefit of those billions. Not you, someone who wanted nothing to do with this gift I have to give to the world.’
‘I will give you ten million right now to just advise you.’
‘Stuff it up your arse, Dr Nicol. I do not trust anyone with this.’
‘I’ve played nice, now it’s time to play dirty. You let me in on this or I tell everyone that you murdered your wife.’
‘My poor Julie?’ Laverick said, his tone suggesting that he was mocking Nicol and indeed the memory of his dead wife.
‘Yeah. I find it very strange that she died the day after I told her what you had in that garage. Specifically in the chest freezer.’
‘She was always unstable. It must have finally tipped her over the edge,’ Laverick said, a faint smile on his lips.
‘You’re fooling no one.’
‘I don’t need to fool anyone, Dr Nicol. And I don’t need you on my doorstep. Your help is not wanted. Your help is not needed. Now please leave before I am forced to do something… unpleasant.’
‘You’re not threatening me, are you, Dr Laverick?’
Laverick’s smile widened.
His fingers played with the controls of what looked like a smartphone.
Several small figures emerged from the darkness of the living room.
They all held knives, except for one kid who had a deformed hand like a pincer.
Nicol’s face dropped.
Laverick let the children come, and Nicol saw that some corners must have been cut in the doctor’s research.
Some of the kids looked the wrong side of the mortal coil, like they should have been left to languish and rot in their tombs.
He felt bad for his abandonment of the research.
With his help, these kids might have been brought back to life properly, instead of the shambles of an existence they now endured.
A small girl, no older than five, held a pair of butcher’s knives that were longer than her forearm.
She moved in with more grace than he thought possible, especially given the fact that her eyes were missing from their sockets.
She slashed the air in front of her, blindly hoping to connect.
Nicol had no doubt that she meant to kill him.
Laverick watched, a smug grin on his face.
The pincer kid appeared, and Nicol shuddered as the light from the hallway illuminated patches of rotten flesh on the sides of his face and neck.
From somewhere up the stairs, a hideous laugh sounded.
The stairs creaked as the unseen owner of the laugh began to descend.
While Nicol watched the stairs in silent horror, he picked up movement in his peripheral vision.
A kid with sharpened points for forearms stepped out of the doorway to Nicol’s left.
His head was dented in several places, as though someone had stoved his head in with a hammer.
Small sections of grey brain pulsed through the rents in his skull.
‘Stop this madness,’ Nicol bellowed, his eyes growing wide with terror as they took in the horrific scene.
Laverick grinned as his ex-colleague squirmed.
The girl with the butcher’s knives was roughly six feet from Nicol now, moving ever closer, slashing wildly all the while.
Nicol readied himself for some sort of attack, but figured his chances of getting out of here alive were pretty slim.
He cried out in surprise as the knife in the girl’s right hand cut a shallow gash in the arm he had raised to protect his throat and face.
Blood left warm trails down his forearm.
Still Laverick watched, a shit-eating grin on his face, the ringleader in this psychotic circus.
A kid with a mouth like a ventriloquist’s dummy emerged from the shadows of the stairs, hideous high-pitched laughter spilling out as his jaw jumped up and down in its socket with a loud clacking sound.
The fact that the laugh was coming slightly out of time with the movement of his jaw somehow made it even more frightening.
‘Ok, I won’t do anything,’ Nicol shouted over the cacophony of laughter and bloodlust. ‘Just don’t hurt me. Please.’
Laverick pressed something on the smartphone and all of the kids stopped midstride like puppets with cut strings.
The girl with the knives was midway through a swing that would probably have taken out his jugular and most of his windpipe, but instead, her hand lolled forward as though the bones in her arm had suddenly turned to wet spaghetti.
Nicol watched, helpless as the knife scored a thin trail down his chest, barely drawing blood.
The kids that had eyes stared, unblinking, in a seemingly catatonic state.
It was arguably more disturbing than when they’d been hell-bent on stabbing and bludgeoning him to death.
‘Better than any guard dog, eh?’ Laverick grinned, his maniacal laugh chilling Nicol’s blood anew.
‘If I ever see you around here again, my digital children will get to finish what they started here tonight. Do you understand me?’
Nicol nodded, eyes wide.
‘Now get the hell off my property.’
Nicol ran to his car and found he couldn’t drive away quick enough from the house and its even more ominous occupants.
Somehow Laverick was the worst of the lot, in spite of the nightmare-inducing kids.
Indeed, he had many a bad dream in the weeks following his impromptu reunion with Laverick.
The worst of which was the dummy kid’s clacking jaw jolting up and down in time with hammer blows as the murderous children bludgeoned his head into a bloody pulp.
So when a crooked business man approached Nicol with a view to getting his hands on Laverick’s research project, the traumatised doctor couldn’t turn it down quick enough.
In the end, Nicol relented, mainly because they had somehow obtained copies of emails between him and his mistress.
Things between him and his wife were improving, and he couldn’t allow her to know of his indiscretions.
If they split up she’d never let him see the kids again.
And they also promised to put Laverick out of the picture once he’d revealed his secrets to them.
The thought of a life without his beloved kids was enough to convince him to give it another go, in spite of the dangers.
Next chapter is here