It was like being attacked by a rabid dog, a rabid dog wearing cowboy boots, boot cut jeans and a Texas Longhorns jacket, smelling of Jack Daniels. He never stood a chance. He himself was quite drunk as a skunk after a long week on the farm. He’d let go tonight, raised a Lone Star or ten to the Texas state flag and gotten into a fistfight or two during the night. The liquor had slowed him down though, and had no time to whip around and draw his pistol when the teeth tore into the back of his neck, cleanly ripping flesh away. Instantly a weight bore down on his back, and he was forced forwards onto his knees and into the dust on the side of the road. He wasn’t far from what he called home, but far enough that nobody would hear him screaming. The eyes were the first thing he noticed; only they weren’t eyes, not human eyes at least. The pupils were heavily dilated, nothing more than a black slit, they were flanked by a werewolf like red iris, and the sclera was just plain black. He beat at the monster with all of his might, but couldn’t even muster enough strength to shift his own position slightly. The teeth were the next thing he noticed, they were sharp, they were immaculate, and they were caked with fresh blood. The light of the moon added a particularly sinister edge to them. Those teeth were the last thing he saw as they bore down onto his face and ripped out both eyes, one after the other. He faintly heard the spitting sound and the moist splash as they hit the tarmac. The screams filled the dark Texas night as the teeth moved south and sought the jugular.
Sheriff Franks couldn’t look. He’d been part of the Fremantle Police Department since the age of 23, but in his 30 years of service, he hadn’t seen anything as gruesome as this. In front of him on the side of the road lay the body of Tom Dole, a local farm worker whom he had dealings with lately, mainly DUIs and the occasional complaint of him becoming aggressive after one too many Friday night beers. An out of towner from Connecticut, Dole had moved to Texas seeking work. Franks knew his case well enough, and he didn’t much like him, or any out of towners for that matter. Even still, he felt for the guy, it looked like he’d fallen victim to a pack of particularly ravenous coyotes last night. Chunks of flesh were missing from the back of the neck, the arms, legs and stomach. There were two dark crevices where his eyes should have been.
“Coyotes you think Franksy?” His deputy asked him
“It’s got to be”
Buchanan nodded. As much as he was just a weak ass yes man, Franks liked him; he did his work well and never spoke unless he was spoken to, for the most part.
“What’s bugging me though John, why take the eyes?”
“I don’t know, man. It’s fucking strange, ever seen anything like this?”
“Never, coyotes usually just go for the body, the face, my guess is they just struck the eyes by accident”
“Me neither, maybe they just got confused, ripped out one, then the other?”
Yes sir, no sir, and three bags fucking full sir. That is all Franks ever got from John Buchanan.
“We’ve got to get the body out of here, the sun is coming up. I don’t want the farm workers seeing this. It’s Saturday, but all the Mexicans will be coming by soon. Get the coroner’s office on the phone, tell ‘em we’ve got a clean-up job.”
“Yes sir” Buchanan said, scuttling off towards the cruiser parked just back from the body.
Harry Franks knelt down beside the body, reeling slightly from the pungent mixed smell of Lone Star and blood; he stared deeply into the eye sockets. They troubled him to the pit of his stomach. “Why the fucking eyes?” He said, to nobody in particular.
Doyle Sandoval clutched his teeth as soon as he woke up and spied the early morning sunshine creeping through the curtains. The shearing pain shot through his jaw and radiated around his cheeks. The migraine just completed what was going to be a miserable Saturday morning. At least he wasn’t Mexican; those fucking spicks would be dragging their sorry asses down to the farm this morning.
He remembered lying back in the dentist’s chair and hearing the words ‘this may hurt a little’, before the local anaesthetic took over, and he slipped from consciousness for a little over two hours. When he woke up, he had a whole new set of teeth implanted into his jawline. The State of Texas had brought into effect a new programme where organs from criminals who were sentenced to death were harvested and donated. This now included teeth and Doyle was atop the list for a new set of teeth after his had slowly started to fall out due to a gum disease brought about by his own negligence towards oral hygiene. You don’t get much for free in this life, so when he saw the advert for the programme and the need for volunteers, he went straight to the local dentist and showed them his bleeding gums. He didn’t know much about where the teeth came from, just that their previous owner had departed this world strapped to the electric chair down at the penitentiary. This morning though, he himself felt like he’d been sentenced to death as a new wave of pain shot through his mouth.
The blood stained clothes confused him. Clutching a bag of frozen peas to the side of his face as he walked around the kitchen, he saw that his Longhorns jacket was splattered with blood. He had blacked out last night, but somehow he had stumbled home, managed to undress and fall into bed. The blood and dust must have come because of another bar fight spilled outside. Larry’s wasn’t exactly the place that you went for a quiet beer. He was lucky if he ever got out of there without throwing or taking a couple of punches. Pushing the start button on the washing machine, he smiled to himself, just another Friday night at Larry’s.
He went into the bathroom and smiled at himself in the mirror. His gums must have not completely healed in the two weeks since the operation, as most of his upper layer was shaded red. He rinsed and brushed, and thought nothing more of it, not noticing the gap where his left back molar should have been.
“You’re saying human teeth did this? No fucking way!”
Harry Franks was incredulous
“Harry, I found a tooth embedded in the throat area, it was a back molar”
Harry just stared at the body laying cold on the coroner’s slab; an ID tag had been tied around the wrist. Tom Dole had no next of kin and no family to inform. He was a vagrant. It had appeared as if this case would just disappear only hours ago as Franks pulled out of Dunkin Donuts with his breakfast. He was now faced with the prospect of this being the work of a cannibalistic killer. The thought of this happening right in his little territory not only sickened Harry, it scared the fuck out of him. Fremantle wasn’t exactly El Dorado but it was his home.
“Couldn’t the tooth belong to our boy, Dole?”
“He’s missing a few, but not a back molar, Chief”
“You’re going to need the tooth I suppose?” The coroner asked
“Eyup, I guess it’s going to become exhibit fucking A in a fucking murder case”
“I’m sorry Harry, I wish I didn’t have to tell you this, but whoever did this is one sick boy. My advice is catch this motherfucker, and quickly. When dogs get a taste of blood on their tongue, they’re best put down quickly; otherwise they’ll go looking for it again and again.”
“Appreciate the advice Bobby. I’ll get this guy before another body ends up on your slab, I promise you that.”
“Good, I’m too old for this shit” He ambled away, holding out the clear plastic bag with a single human tooth in to the chief of police, who looked like he’d dropped a fifty dollar bill and then trodden in dog shit.
It had been a week, the papers had caught the story and their mystery had been dubbed “The Fremantle Cannibal”, and the Police Department had been dubbed incompetent.
The tooth sat staring menacingly at Franks from across the desk. It was a fucking implant, hence no natural root, hence no discernible DNA on it except that of the skin fragments torn from Tom Dole. Ever since that government initiative had come in offering free implant from criminal’s teeth, the number of gleaming smiles had gone up in Fremantle. Hell, even Harry himself had considered it; heaven knows his teeth had seen better days. It appears the murderer had gotten himself fixed up with a nice new set of pearly whites from a convicted child murderer who had been put into the chair just a few months ago. Being on the donor register, the teeth were pulled, tidied, implanted into someone else and then used to tear their boy Dole apart, but why?
Larry’s bar was full to capacity the night in question, sure there were arguments, there were a smattering every night of the week. Nobody could be sure who they’d seen going at it either inside or outside. There has been nobody else on the trail that night, only the unfortunate passer by who’d been out for their morning jog and happened upon the body; the coroner put it between three and four hours after the attack. She’d seen nobody. Going to the farm where Dole was taken on, the ranch hands had been no help at all, sure he was new but he kept himself to himself, did his 8-5 day and then went home, had no problems with nobody, and nobody had a problem with it. He was just a drinker and handy with his fists after a few too many Lone Stars. The shack where he laid his head turned up nothing except a handful of clothes, paperbacks and some stashed cash in the mattress, no doubt being saved for his next move, perhaps to California in the spring. Franks was sure he’d argued with our boy in the bar, and then been attacked as he walked home from the bar later that night, but he had no other leads, and he couldn’t prove a single thing.
He also had a massive fucking headache.
The tooth stared at him, mockingly, as it had for the past week.
He grabbed it and stuffed into his draw. Out of sight out of mind, he thought.
“Fuckin’ freaky teeth” He sighed.
Sandoval’s jaw didn’t ache from the toothache as it had a week earlier. It had passed on by early Wednesday, and he’d thought nothing of it. As his felt the blood ooze from his lip, the dull throb in his jaw had come from the right hook he’d just taken from some biker dude at the bar, after an argument about a spilled drink. It had been brief, both men had got decent punches in before the band swung into Rawhide, and everyone in the bar was friends again. It was just another Friday night at Larry’s.
Franks and Buchanan hadn’t dared go inside the bar; the sight of the uniform would have set everyone off. Instead they sat in their police cruiser in the lay by directly across from Larry’s, sharing a six pack of Lone Star themselves, hell; it was Friday night in Fremantle. They’d been there three hours now, and had seen nothing out of the ordinary, a couple of fights spilled outside, but nothing warranting their intervention.
Buchanan sat up straight and squinted toward the bar; a rough looking biker dude in a leather jacket had just exited the bar and was heading toward the car park adjacent. The skulking figure clearly didn’t make a sound as he stepped out of the shadows and walked purposefully up behind the biker guy. He wore a Longhorns jacket and faded jeans, the light from the bar silhouetting the unprovoked attack from behind, only, it wasn’t an attack. The guy seemed to bite into the back of the biker’s neck.
“Fuck me, go, go” Buchanan was out like a shot; Franks lumbered and spilled the beer he was resting on the dash as he darted out the car.
“Stop right there, police” They both had their pistols aimed at the attacker, a man Harry recognised as Doyle Sandoval, one of the names and faces he’d seen on the dentists list of transplant approvals. Another farm worker, another out of towner, and another fucking nuisance to Franks.
“Harry, look at his fucking eyes” Buchanan stumbled.
They were bright red, like an animals, the black slits didn’t reflect the full moon that was hovering above them, just a darkness that chilled Harry Franks right down to his soul. He felt mesmerised as they made eye contact, the beer turned over in Franks’ stomach. He really wanted to vomit. He had already started to shake, the pistol quivering at the end of his grip.
“Get him fucking off me, he fucking bit me” the biker squeaked from below Sandoval, he was still face down in the dirt, clutching the back of his neck where the he’d been bitten, a loose flap of flesh hung on limply.
Sandoval bared his teeth at the officers and advanced towards Buchanan, grinning manically, with spittle flying down his jacket. Franks fired once into Sandoval’s shoulder, and again into his upper thigh. He went down in stages; the pistol whip from Buchanan brought his down fully.
“Stay there” Buchanan instructed the biker.
He brought both knees down onto Sandoval’s back, grabbing the cuffs from his belt and getting the wrists that were clutching the side of his head behind his back. He managed to cuff him, and eventually he brought him onto his front and immediately started putting pressure on the bullet wounds.
“Franksy, call a fucking ambulance, we need this cat alive.”
Harry Franks only stood and stared into the abyss, he was frozen solid, by the sight of Doyle Sandoval as he went to attack Buchanan. The image was stuck in his mind, those eyes, those red fucking eyes, and those huge fucking teeth. He looked like he was under a spell, driven on by the taste of blood on his tongue.
A sharp slap brought him back to the present day, Buchanan standing in front of him.
“Get an ambulance, he’s bleeding out quick.”
He shook the image out of his head, and stumbled back to the cruiser, sweeping the beer can off of the seat and sitting down into a puddle of Lone Star. He radioed for an ambulance, ETA three minutes. As he stood up again outside the cruiser, the image of Sandoval ripping out Tom Dole’s eyes came to him, the sight of dripping blood off of the teeth made his stomach turn over. The thought of those teeth lacerating deep enough into the stomach that the internal organs were punctured was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Those were the teeth that had ripped Dole apart, and would have ripped our Harley Davidson riding friend apart given another few minutes. He fell to his knees behind the cruiser, and vomited.
Doyle Sandoval, 34, originally from Sarasota, was sentenced to death by lethal injection for the murder of Tom Dole, and the attempted murder of Jules King, the latter’s life was spared by officers John Buchanan and Harry Franks of Fremantle police, who were commended. When questioned by police, Sandoval claimed that he had no recollection of either incident; the defence cited frequent black outs and entered a plea of insanity, which was rejected by overwhelming evidence by the prosecution. Not only did the CCTV from outside Larry’s bar capture the whole scene of the King attack but Sandoval was found to be missing a back molar, and it was a perfect fit for the tooth that had been sitting in Franks’ desk for a little under a week. Sandoval hadn’t noticed that he was missing a tooth, he sobbed into his palms when the sentence was handed down.
Because he had opted in for organ donation, Doyle Sandoval’s organs were to be harvested and distributed to people on various waiting lists around the state. Under the new legislation passed the previous summer, his teeth were also to be extracted and donated. They’d passed from one murderer to another; third time lucky the Fremantle dentist joked as he aligned them onto a mould, ready for the grateful recipient, who was sitting outside reading a magazine and waiting for the numbing agent to kick in.
Harry Franks had never liked the dentist, so when the mask was dropped over his nose, he wouldn’t feel any of the pain of a complete extraction and fitting of his new set of teeth. The image of Sandoval had haunted him for the past few nights, and he had awoken in a sweaty state, stifling screams. He had dreamed that the teeth were cursed, and that whoever had them grafted into their jawline turned psychotic after they fully moulded into the gum line. When this happened, they came after Harry, keen to avenge the murder of their previous owner. Those teeth, like hungry dogs’ teeth, would tear into his throat, and then move north to take his eyes. Harry Franks would wake up and immediately clutch his neck.
The IV sedation sent him this time into a dreamless abyss, he purred softly as the dentist went about his work.
If he had read his treatment plan closer, he’d have noticed that his new set of teeth was incomplete, and it was necessary that one of his own were left in, as to avoid a gap.
It was missing a back molar.