Army of Devils, стр. 1
Army of Devils
A machete slash severed her hand. Blood pulsed from the stump to splash the sorority-house door and security chain.
Peggy Miller, an eighteen-year-old freshman student of cinema at the University of Southern California, daughter of a New York advertising executive, stared with disbelief at the wound. As a lifelong television and movie addict, she had seen uncounted thousands of murders and mutilations. As a devotee of the horror genre, she had already made films of the macabre and terrifying, sometimes appearing in front of the camera, other times writing the script or operating the camera or serving as a makeup artist to create the images of suffering and mutilation and grotesque death.
Often she had giggled at the sight of movie blood splashing. She had twisted her face into a mask of manic rage and hacked at the other actors and actresses with plastic knives and axes. After the scene, they all laughed, the syrupy blood sticky on their bodies. Once, she had endured ten retakes of her own murder as the student director struggled to capture the veriteof vivisection by electric carving knife on Super-8. That evening, Peggy and a handsome young actor ended the shooting day with a private orgy in a Jacuzzi, licking away the sweet phony blood caking their hair and bodies, their lovemaking leaving a puddle of sweat and cinema blood on the tiles.
But now, a real wound spurted blood. As the image and the first horrifying sensations of pain registered in her numbed mind, she saw her hand on the floor. Fingers curling upward, the hand lay on the Persian entry carpet, its dead flesh a startling white against the colored designs of the hand-woven carpet.
The machete blade hacked again and again at the security chain. But the chain held. A voice that came from a throat that could not be human made a low, bestial grunt, then the door splintered. One attacker after another crashed through the broken door.
In the last seconds of her life, Peggy Miller faced a gang of punks beyond the imagination of any casting director. They wore the uniform of the streets: boots, black jeans, black nylon jackets, bandannas tied over their faces and hair. Their eyes stared out from the gap between the bandannas.
Psychopathic hatred raged in those eyes.
Even as her reflexes raised her arms to push away the monsters rushing her, as a scream rose in her throat, Peggy Miller surrendered to death.
They reduced her to a headless, armless corpse kicking with nerve spasms. As two punks continued hacking at the body, more of them rushed into the other rooms of the sorority house.
One punk ran into the white tiled kitchen. A young woman in a purple silk kimono turned from the refrigerator. Before her scream came, a machete blade axed through her brain.
A blaring stereo led two punks to a first-floor bedroom. Snapping the lightweight bolt with a kick, the punks saw two forms in two beds. The awakened sleepers jerked upright.
"Get out! What..."
Machetes ended the protests of the young women. Not content with murder, the gang boys continued chopping at the naked girls. Laughing as they hacked, they reduced the bodies to an intermingled mass of meat and entrails.
A scream pierced the rock and roll. In the living room, a young woman in a red velour sweat suit ran for the stairs. A shotgun blast tore her legs, throwing her down hard on the carpeted steps. Clawing at the carpet, she screamed when she attempted to crawl on her shattered legs. She suffered only a moment longer.
Rushing up to the bleeding young student, the masked punk pumped the sawed-off shotgun's action. She screamed at the grinning monster. He put the muzzle of the 12-gauge shotgun to her face.
Brains and bone fragments sprayed the stairs. Laughing at the gore, the gang punk sat down on the blood-soaked carpeting of the step. He kicked the headless body away. Taking a hand-rolled cigarette from his jacket pocket, he pulled down the red bandanna from his face.
It bore the scars of innumerable street fights. The young black man's front teeth had been knocked out by fists. Scar tissue hooded one eye, giving him a permanent squint. His breath whistled through a smashed nose. A knife slash had scarred his cheek and ear, the straight line disappearing into the matted hair under the bandanna that covered the top of his head.
Lighting the cigarette with a silver lighter stolen from a tourist in downtown Los Angeles — he sucked down a long drag of the drug. His eyes closed, his face went slack. The cigarette clung to his lip as he fell back against the steps. He exhaled and pulled down another drag.
For seconds he lay motionless. The glowing point of the cigarette burned into his chin, but he did not move. Finally, his breath escaped in a slow swirl of smoke.
One hand caressed the shotgun. His eyes opened. A piece of skin came away from his chin as he took the cigarette from his lip. He carefully stubbed out the half-gone cigarette.
Screams and sobbing came from above him. He turned to the sound, his lips pulled back in a rictus grin of broken and decayed teeth. The tendons and blood vessels in his throat stood from the flesh as a visible wave of loathing and psychopathic murder — lust moved through him. Somewhere on the second floor, a machete stopped the crying.
Laughing again, he pulled up the bandanna to cover his face. Through the thin cotton cloth, he could hear the laughter continue. As he pumped another shell into the chamber of his sawed-off 12-gauge and went up the stairs, he hissed, "Die, honky sluts…"
Raoul Valencia, a red-haired young Mexican from the state of Michoacan, turned the ignition key for the tenth time. But nothing. No response from the starter motor, no lights, no emergency blinker.
Only an arm's distance to his left, the headlights of Harbor Freeway traffic flashed past at sixty miles an hour. His boys — Miguel and Thomas — sat in the back seat, staring back at the onrushing traffic. His wife, Maria, held their youngest in her arms, as if to protect the baby girl from the rushing tons of metal threatening the Valencias with disaster.
When the old Buick's electrical system had failed, Raoul fought to guide the car out of traffic. Though he would not admit it even to Maria, that long moment, from the speed lane to the side of the freeway — without power, without lights, without brakes, the other cars skidding and swerving around him, his family so close to death — had been the most terrifying thirty seconds of his life. His mouth had gone dry with fear.
The sprint across the border at Juarez had been nothing. So what if the American federalestook him? It had been a quick bus trip across the border and another swim and run the next night. Nor had he felt fear during the long, anxious wait for the coyoteto smuggle Maria and the boys across. His brother had trusted the coyotewith his money and his life; his brother had crossed without a problem. No, Juan — the coyote did not abandon people to die in the desert. Nor did he molest the wives of other men. A man of honor. He earned his money honestly. Raoul had not feared.
But when the car quit! Ayiii!
By the grace of the Virgin, they had reached the safety of the roadside. Now to start the Buick…
He must do it before the highway police stopped to help him. What if they asked for his papers?
To lose it all now — capture in Los Angeles meant return to Mexico City.
No matter. Even if the American authorities sent him back, he would return.
Taking a flashlight from under the seat, Raoul waited until no headlights threatened him, then quickly left the car. He dashed to the front of the Buick. Untying the rope that replaced the latch, he threw the hood open.