This is the final installment of the Tommy Taffy series.
As a police officer, I’ve seen a lot of things during my time on the force. A lot of awful, sick things. Things that’d make you wonder if there’s any good left in mankind. Things that I’ve carried with me for years, things I’ll never forget. I’ve seen acts of human cruelty that exceed any horror you could conjure. But there’s one incident that stands out above the rest. One that has haunted me for years and has been the cause of many restless nights. An incident that still causes my breath to hitch in my chest at the mere thought of it. Something that terrifies me to this day.
The night I met Tommy Taffy.
July 24th, 1987
“Shit we got a 911 call over on Tenner Street,” My partner, Henry, said, leaning across the driver seat and opening my door.
I steadied the two coffees in my hands and ducked down, sliding behind the wheel. I passed a steaming cup to him and sighed heavily.
“Great. And here I was hoping we’d have a quiet night. What’re we walking into?”
“Dispatch said a young girl called it in, something about a domestic disturbance,” Henry replied, taking a cautious sip.
“Fantastic, I love getting in the middle of arguing couples,” I sighed.
I placed my own cup in the holder and flicked on our lights, pulling out of the gas station, and roared down the highway. As we drove, I anxiously tapped my fingers against the wheel. We had been on dozens of calls like this, but each time I felt my pulse quicken. Domestic disputes meant that one of the parties was out of control. Out of control meant unpredictable. And unpredictable meant dangerous.
After a couple minutes, Henry pointed out into the night.
I spun the wheel, “Got it.”
The road was dark and quiet, a neat line of small houses set on quarter acre plots. I checked the address and then pulled into the driveway of a small two story house at the end of a cul-de-sac. I scanned the surrounding houses, searching for curious neighbors. The street was still, and empty. I got out of our cruiser, the warm night air caressing my face, and adjusted my hat. Henry mirrored me on the opposite side of the car, casting a quick glance my way.
“I don’t hear anything,” he muttered, watching the front of the house. The curtains were closed, but we could see the lights on.
“Probably saw the flashing red and blues and shut the argument down,” I snorted, walking up the driveway. Henry joined me and together we marched up to the front door.
“Do the honors?” Henry asked, waving a hand before us.
“You sure know how to spoil a guy,” I said, raising my fist and pounding on the door.
“Hello, police, please open the door!” I announced.
We paused for a moment as someone moved around inside, the dull thud of footsteps drawing closer. Then there was silence and I thought I could hear someone talking, a male voice.
“Police, please open the door!” I repeated, rapping my knuckles on the wood.
More silence, followed by a low muffled conversation.
Finally, the door opened a crack.
A woman peeked out at us, her face flush.
Henry tipped his hat, “Evening ma’am. We’ve had complaints about a domestic dispute…could you please open the door?”
“Everything is fine here,” She breathed, her eye shifting between the crack to appraise us. “Just leave us alone, we’re ok.”
I placed a hand on the door, my voice stern, “Ma’am can we please speak to the man of the house?”
And then a voice drifted out from inside, cool and controlled, almost amused.
“It’s alright Mary, let them in.”
Shaking, licking her lips, the woman stepped back and pulled the door open. We stepped inside and I noticed the disarray she was in. Her hair was a mess, her cheeks were red, and sweat lined her brow.
And she looked absolutely terrified.
Henry and I removed our hats and I gave her a reassuring smile as she closed the door behind us.
I turned to look into the living room and for a second, my heart stopped.
Sitting in a chair, placed in the middle of the room facing us, was a man. But…he wasn’t a man. His features were off, almost alien. A smile pulled his lips to reveal teeth that weren’t teeth, just a seamless stretch of white filling the space along his lips. His nose was just a nub protruding from the center of his face and his eyes shined the brightest blue. His skin was perfect, pore-less, and without a single blemish. His hair was blond and cut short and he crossed his arms over a white t-shirt that read HI! In red cartoon font.
He immediately reminded me of a doll, but…not quite.
“Seems like we have a slight misunderstanding,” The man said, not moving.
Henry shot me a look that showed he was just as put off by this man as I was. He cleared his throat and stepped forward.
“Had a call come in that there was some kind of argument going on here. Just stopping by to keep the peace, make sure everything is ok.”
The man smiled wider, “Mary and I were having a slight disagreement. Nothing to call the police over.”
“What’s your name?” I asked. I suddenly couldn’t shake this feeling, this cold, creeping finger running along my spine.
“My name is Tommy Taffy.”
I placed my hat back on my head, “Ok Tommy, are you this woman’s husband?”
Tommy raised his thumb and slowly dragged it across his lips, his smile growing wider.
Henry cocked an eyebrow, “Sir?”
“He’s not my husband,” The woman behind me whispered so quietly I thought I imagined it. I turned and saw her, Mary, standing against the stairs, face pale as fresh snow.
Henry went to her and placed a hand on her shoulder, “Ma’am are you feeling ok? What’s wrong?”
Her voice dropped even quieter, her eyes bulging and bloodshot, “Get…him…out…of…here…please.”
Alarm bells were suddenly ringing in my head and I turned back to Tommy, jumping at the sight of him. He had risen and now stood directly in front of me, that smile still plastered to his face.
“She’s just upset right now,” he said softly, his voice like soft butter, “She doesn’t mean that.”
I looked at Henry and saw he was suddenly on edge as well. Something about this situation, this strange man, the terror in this woman’s eyes, it was off, all off. That finger caressing my spine was turning into a claw.
“What did you do with my daughter?” The woman hissed at Tommy.
“Sir, please step back,” I said, placing a hand on my holster. Daughter? Was she the one who made the 911 call?
Tommy raised his eyebrows at my gesture, “Step back? Officer, I’m cooperating and trying to resolve the issue.” He looked past me at the woman, Mary, “I just want to get back to life with my family.”
Henry put a hand on Tommy’s chest and gently pushed him away from me, “Sir, I’m going to have to ask you to go sit back down until we sort this out.”
Tommy, still smiling, retreated a few paces but didn’t return to the chair. His eyes bore into Mary, something burning between them.
“Ma’am…it’s Mary correct? Is there a child in the house?” I asked softly, standing in front of her to block Tommy from view.
She looked up at me and I saw tears filling her eyes, “He took her upstairs…” and then she covered her face and quietly sobbed. My heart began to beat faster as I looked at Henry.
“I’ll go,” he said, pushing past me.
As Henry went to the stairs, I turned back to Tommy, “Did something happen I should know about?”
Tommy’s eyes glowed, “Hehehehehe…”
“Sir, did you do something?” I asked, taking a step forward.
Tommy didn’t move, “I’ve done a lot of things…officer.”
Henry thundered upstairs and I watched Tommy closely to see if he’d give off some kind of reaction. He just kept staring at me, that smile plastered to his lips.
“Is there anyone else in the house?” I asked Mary, the hairs on the back of my neck rising.
She continued to cry into her hands, clearly in distress, but managed to pull away long enough to mutter, “My husband…my daughter…”
“I’m your husband,” Tommy said, shaking his head, grinning. He shrugged and tipped me a wink, “She gets a little loopy when she’s upset. You know how women are.”
Suddenly, Mary clenched her fists and began to scream right at Tommy, “What did you do to Michael!? Where’s Lily!? What did you do to them!?”
I jumped at her sudden outburst, heart racing, trying my best to piece together just what exactly was going on here. Before I could say anything else, I heard Henry cry out from upstairs.
“JESUS FUCKING CHRIST! WHAT THE FUCK!? WHAT THE FUCK!?”
I released the strap on my holster, fingers sliding around the grip of my service pistol. Confusion and fear collided inside my mind and it left my head spinning. I shot a look at Tommy who just grinned, and then I slowly backed up to the foot of the stairs.
“Henry!? Henry what’s going on!?”
My partner came into view on the balcony above, eyes wide, face white. He leaned over the railing and covered his face with his hands, sucking in air. He was shaking uncontrollably, prayer spewing from his lips in frantic whisper.
“Henry!” I yelled, keeping my eye on Tommy.
Henry pulled his face from his hands, his eyes bloodshot, and pointed at Tommy, “C-cuff him. Cuff him right now!” And then he was racing down the stairs, still pointing, “You sick fuck! How could you do that!? HOW COULD YOU DO THAT TO A CHILD!?”
Henry bolted past me, and before I could react, he was tackling Tommy to the ground, spittle flying from his lips.
“You murderous FUCK!” They rolled onto the floor, grunting, and Henry fought to stay on top. Tommy had stopped smiling, trying his best to resist the onslaught, his mouth a grim line along his smooth face.
Mary slumped to the floor, weeping, huddling into herself. Panicking, not understanding what was happening, I pulled my gun from the holster and pointed it uselessly at my partner and Tommy. Henry had him flipped over on his stomach now, a knee planted in his back. He retrieved his cuffs and slapped them over Tommy’s wrists.
“You evil bastard, you’re going to die in jail for this,” Henry spat, clearly shaken to the core. I stepped forward and pulled him to his feet, trying my best to calm him down.
“Henry! Talk to me! What happened?”
He grit his teeth, squeezing his eyes shut, “He…he….the daughter is dead.”
Tommy started to laugh, “Oh… what a horrible misunderstanding. Despite all appearances, I assure you she’s very much alive,” Tommy turned his head back to stare at us. “I care deeply about that little girl. I would never kill her. She was just being punished for using the phone.”
Henry’s eyes bulged, “Oh my god…” and then he torn back up the stairs, screaming to hold on.
My world was spinning, the events before me unravelling at a speed I couldn’t keep up with. I kept my gun pointed at Tommy and glanced at Mary who was curled up into herself on the floor, sobbing.
“Where’s your husband!?” I asked, desperate to make sense of something, anything, “What the hell is going ON here?!”
Mary rocked back and forth, her mind quickly disintegrating under the mental agony she had apparently undergone. She didn’t answer and so I got down on one knee and gripped her by the shoulder, spinning her to face me.
“MARY! Where’s your husband!?”
Through tear streaked eyes, she pointed upstairs, her voice cracking and shaking under an avalanche of sorrow, “H-he took him…i-into the bedroom…I-I think….” and then she was lost to me again, retreating back into herself.
I pushed the brim of my hat up, mouth dry, trying not to look at Tommy who was smiling at me from the floor.
Suddenly, Henry’s voice blasted down to me from upstairs, “Get up here, I need help getting her down! She’s still breathing! HURRY!”
What the hell, I thought, shooting a look at Tommy to make sure he was secure before racing up the stairs. I reached the top and could hear Henry down the hall, struggling with something, but all sound suddenly faded as my eyes absorbed the scene at the opposite end of the hall from Henry.
I was staring into the master bedroom, the corner of a king sized bed poking into view. Four ornate bedposts rose from each corner, and impaled on one, was the husband.
His mouth was split open and his lips kissed the foot board, blood pooling at the base. The wood spire disappeared into his throat and reappeared out of his groin. His body hung, completely naked, his skin a mass of bruises and cuts. Blood and shit coated the floor and I took a step back, a scream rising in my throat.
What the fuck, what the fuck, what the FUCK…
I could hear Henry screaming my name, but the visceral vision held me like a vice. I felt vomit tickle the back of my throat, but found I didn’t have the breath to expunge it from my body.
Suddenly, a new cry cut the paralysis, a shrill, high pitched scream.
Something thudded down below and then I heard a scraping noise like something being dragged across the floor. Mary’s screams ceased almost as soon as they had started.
Henry was howling to call for back-up, for EMT’s, but my mind was beginning to strain under the horrors I was experiencing. I blinked and felt dizziness rock me and I had to catch myself on the wall to keep from falling. I stumbled forward towards the balcony and looked down at where I had left Tommy.
He was gone along with Mary.
Tommy’s cuffs lay twisted and broken on the floor.
“Jesus Christ, what the fuck is happening…” I sputtered.
And then the power went out.
I heard Henry yell in surprise and confusion as I backed up against the far wall, stumbling in the complete darkness. A voice in my head told me that things had just escalated to a level I couldn’t contain any longer.
“Turn the lights back on!” Henry called.
Feeling like I was in a daze, I walked forward and found the railing again. I leaned down into the black, listening for some clue as to where Tommy had gone, my heart thumping in my ears.
And then…from the abyss below….
I stumbled back and crashed down the hall towards Henry and the girl, hands groping and grasping in front of me like a blind man. I found a door and could hear Henry breathing in front of me. I dropped to my knees and called out to him.
Suddenly, light blinded me and I raised my hands to my eyes. Henry lowered his flashlight, his face pale and terrified.
“What the hell is going on?!” He hissed.
I started to answer, but stopped when I saw the little girl he was holding in his arms. She couldn’t be more than five years old. Rope twisted and coiled around her body in knots and weaves that seemed endless. Her eyes were closed and her mouth was sealed with duct tape. I noticed her tiny cheeks were bloated, like her mouth was filled with something.
I reached out and ripped the tape off, my fingers coming away bloody. Slowly, something began to ooze out of her mouth in a mixture of blood and saliva.
“Oh my God…”Henry whispered, voice shaking.
Dozens and dozens of sharp tacks poured from her lips and dripped onto the carpet. My eyes met Henry’s and we shared a look of absolute horror. Gently, Henry reached into her mouth and pulled the remaining ones away, tossing them aside with a disgusted grimace.
“What kind of monster does this?” I whispered.
“That’s not the worst of it,” Henry said, shaking his head. “Look.”
He lifted her tiny yellow skirt up and I felt all life drain from my body in a rush of cold mental agony.
“W…what did he…h-how…” I mumbled, feeling a lump of fury and sorrow rise in my chest.
Henry lowered her skirt, “It’s going to take a lot to get her right again.”
Suddenly, from the black beyond the door, we heard the creak of wood as someone ascended the stairs to the second floor. I pulled my gun from its holster and Henry clicked his flashlight off, shuffling against the wall and throwing me a terrified look.
“Kill that fucker,” Henry whispered.
I stood, the pistol grip growing sweaty in my hands. With my back flush against the wall, I peeked out into the dark hallway.
I heard something whisper from the shadows by the top of the stairs.
“Officer down…officer down…hehehehehe…”
I pulled my flashlight from my belt and readied it in my hands, bringing it under the pistol and pointing towards the voice.
“Do it,” Henry growled.
I clicked the light on, heart sputtering, and prepared to shoot…but there was no one there. I swung the beam of light around, jumping at every shadow, but the hall remained empty. I licked my lips and stepped out towards the balcony, finger tight against the trigger.
“Where are you…” I whispered to myself, a bead of sweat rolling down my spine. I continued down the hall and stared out over the railing at the foyer below. Everything remained silent and still, not a whisper or sound.
“Back up is on its way,” Henry called softy from behind me. I turned, and retreated back to the bedroom. We needed to get the hell out of this house.
I clicked my light off and knelt down beside Henry and the little girl. He shifted her in his arms and passed her to me. I gently accepted the girl, staring down at her bloody, pale face. She looked like she was dead. Tears suddenly budded in my eyes and I squeezed them shut, shaking my head.
“I know…” Henry whispered, his voice cracking. “Did you see him out there? Did you see Mary? Where did they go?”
A voice answered from the end of the hall, from the bedroom where the husband was impaled.
“I’m afraid she had an accident…”
Henry and I jumped at the sudden noise and turned our heads to stare out into the dark. Two blue eyes glowed at us from the end of the hall, shining like cobalt diamonds.
“Mary tumbled down the basement stairs and broke her neck,” Tommy cooed, chuckling. “This whole night is turning into a disaster I’m afraid.”
Before I could say anything, Henry was on his feet, snarling and pulling his pistol free. He lunged forward and pulled off three shots toward where the eyes were. Darkness swallowed up the blue and we heard the bastard still chuckling from the other room.
“Stay here,” Henry growled. He stepped out into the hall and closed the bedroom door behind him, enveloping me in complete black. Before the door swung shut, I saw the red and blue light of our back-up arrive and spill into the house from downstairs.
Henry’s footsteps thudded down the hall and I heard him yelling in fury for Tommy. His voice became muffled as he entered the far bedroom and then complete silence swept the house once again, so sudden that I sucked in my breath like it was trying to escape.
I counted the drum of my heart beat….one….two…three….four…f-
The bedroom door before me exploded in a shower of splinters as Henry was hurled through it, face first. He soundlessly crunched into the opposite wall and I heard the fatal snap of his spine severing. I cried out, horrified, my breath rushing back into my lungs in a wave of terror.
Get out, get out, get out…
I gripped the little girl in my arms and stood, sweat staining the collar of my shirt. I licked my dry lips and grit my teeth as I heard the creak of wood as Tommy descended the stairs again, his voice floating back up at me.
“Officer down…officer down…hehehehe…”
I crept down the hall and saw through the front windows over the railing that the two officers who had been sent were now approaching the front door.
Before I could call out, Tommy had flung the door open, a smile plastered to his face.
“What seems to be the trouble?” He asked casually, swinging the door closed behind him, obscuring my view.
Knowing I had precious seconds, I hoisted the unconscious girl over my shoulder and flew down the stairs. From outside, I could already hear someone screaming.
I turned in the darkness and fled to the kitchen, blinking back sweat as panic grasped my throat with an iron grip. I bumped into a wall and felt my shoulder wince in pain, but I ignored it, desperately searching for a back exit.
A sliding glass door!
I shifted the girl in my arms and pulled the door open, stepping out into the night, gasping with relief as the warm air dried the sweat on my forehead. I quietly slid the door closed behind me and heard Tommy enter the house once again. Keeping low, I shifted my way around the side of the house, every sense cranked to eleven.
As I made my way to the front yard, the police car that had come to our aide drifted into view.
The two officers lay dead across its hood, their throats ripped out.
“Jesus Christ,” I cried softly, voice straining. My mind was an exhausted mess of heightened fear and crushing trauma, every ounce screaming for release.
“Run,” I said to myself, “Run, go now before he finds you!”
Taking a deep breath, I bolted from the corner of the house down the driveway towards my patrol car. My feet padded over the grass and then clacked against the asphalt as I fled, reaching the car in seconds. I threw the side door open and slid the girl inside, shooting a terrified glance over my shoulder.
After she was secure, I raced around to the driver’s side and practically tore the door open. I collapsed into my seat and brought the car roaring to life. As I slammed the gears into reverse and hit the gas, I saw the front door open.
I saw all the front doors open.
Every single house lining Tenner Street.
I shifted into Drive and floored it, the tires squealing. As we accelerated down the road, I watched in absolute horror as Tommy Taffy stepped out of every single house, a twisted smile lining his lips.
“My God,” I whispered, “He’s infected the entire neighborhood.”
I hit the corner and the rubber screamed beneath me as I gunned us away from the nightmare, away from the carnage…away from Tommy Taffy.
It’s been thirty years since that awful night. Not a day goes by where I don’t think about the depravity and horror I witnessed. How do you explain such bizarre violence and terror to someone who hasn’t been exposed to such things? You can’t really, and so I’ve suffered the memories in silence.
No trace of Tommy was found after the incident. By the time I got the little girl to the hospital, screaming into my radio the entire time, the neighborhood was gone. Yes, gone.
That monster burned it all to the fucking ground.
Every home, every house, every person. The entire street. I heard the report a couple hours after I rushed the girl into the ER. I remember standing outside the hospital, blood still staining my hands, and seeing the horizon glow from the blaze.
What hell I’ve carried with me…
But at least it doesn’t all end in misery.
I’ve stayed in touch with the little girl I saved that night. Blessedly, she survived and has found joy in her life. I don’t know how she recovered mentally from that nightmare…but she has. I visit her and her husband every now and again.
She really is amazing.
I was over at their house a couple days ago and they told me the most wonderful news.
They told me that they’re going to be parents soon.