The crazy man stood in a corner of the decrepit room. His ears lay on the blood stained floor. He rocked back and forth, unable to stop.

“The bells… can’t you hear them? No.. of course not.. you still haven’t met HIM. But believe me… once you do… once you start hearing that ringing… that never. Ending. Ringing… you’ll wish you were deaf…”

“Of course,” said Officer Brinson. She kept the man covered with her service Glock while Singer called in the details from the suad car. “There aren’t any church bells in town,” she added. “Congregational sold theirs for scrap when it folded and everyone drives to Cascadia for church now.”

“No…no,” croaked the murderer. “Not church bells. Unholy…not holy. You can only hear them in the presence of one who has heard them…and they. Will. Not. Stop. Not until…you do as they ask.”

“What do they want, huh?” said Brinson, hoping that conversation might keep the man from struggling against his cuffs. Druggies could sometimes snap the plastic, and one guy had palmed a cigarette lighter and melted through them.

“Blood,” the man said. “What…else…but…blood?”

Officer Brinson was about to say something, but stopped. Pausing, she cocked an ear. “What’s that?” she said.

It sounded like bells, dim but brassy, far off and insistent.

“It’s begun.”

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