Officer barcomb vs the u.., p.1
Officer Barcomb vs. The Undead (Book 1), page 1part #1 of Officer Barcomb vs. The Undead Series
Darren S. Barcomb
Plattsburgh, New York
© 2017 Darren Barcomb
All rights reserved. No portion of this book may be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher, except as permitted by U.S. copyright law.
Thanks go out to Mom and Dad for a lifetime of support, to Debbie for continued motivation, and the Brothers of Nu Chapter of Theta Gamma for always having my back.
Chapter 1: Boots on the Ground
“If he moves, you take his fuckin’ head off.”
The van barreled down the off-ramp into The Burg and Barcomb swung it onto East Jersey.
“You fuckin’ hear me?” Barcomb said. “Take no chances. If he even thinks about going for a piece, you bury that son of a bitch.”
The red lights lit up liquor stores, strip joints and vacant lots as Barcomb hit Berkman Street and headed deeper into The Burg, the bank robbery capital of New Jersey and the jewel in the crown of the drug-trafficking trade in the city of Elizabeth. It was quiet for ten p.m., but a few beat-up husbands in beat-up cars drove around looking for beat-up call girls. Barcomb hammered through traffic and it scattered as the siren screamed all the way into Concord Avenue.
“How many we expecting?” Reyes said, shouting over the roar of the engine.
“No more than we can handle,” Barcomb said. He glanced at Reyes beside him and then into the rear-view at Munday. He didn’t like what he saw. Randy Reyes was twenty-four years old and had as much experience on the street as anyone his age - not very much - but there was something about him none of the guys liked, a softness. It was hard to pin down. He was too quick to smile, too slow to anger; his voice was quiet and his tone apologetic. First guy he shot, he sent flowers to his wife. The perp wasn’t even dead. Reyes was just that kind of guy. Everyone could see that he was living on borrowed time. Sooner or later, the street would get him killed. The only person who didn’t know it was him.
“How far?” Munday shouted.
“Three minutes,” Barcomb said.
As Barcomb drove, Munday adjusted her vest. Two months on the job and it had never fit her right. They each wore tactical and bulletproof vests and were dressed in black with only the glint of their cuffs and two patches of white to distinguish them from the shadows: the word “POLICE” and a monochrome stars-and-stripes. Rachel Munday had forgotten her gloves and the cold air rushing through the window made her restless. Barcomb knew these two wouldn’t be enough, but they were off-book now and these two were just chicken shit enough not to tell anyone while still being dumb enough to come along.
Barcomb killed the lights and the siren as they hit the corner of Liberty and Exeter. He slowed and Reyes and Munday fell silent.
“Where is everyone?” Barcomb said.
The street was empty. Cars were parked on the side of the road with their lights left on and their doors left wide open. The bass of You’ve Got Another Thing Coming pounded from a run-down sports bar and through the windows Barcomb caught a glimpse of a dozen people thrashing at each other and throwing glasses. Not my problem, he thought. The Devils and the Rangers were playing up in Newark and that always meant trouble.
It’s why he chose tonight.
Barcomb thought he heard a scream from the bar.
Must be a good game, he thought. But ice hockey wasn’t really his sport. Barcomb demanded a little more contact, a little more blood and sweat. He had to grow up fast when he was a kid, learn to take punches as well as he could give them, and it gave him a respect for the fight. He brought that to his work. Some guys said he was a little out of touch - that rough stuff was outdated, they said - but for him it was about respect. Some cops try worming their way in, becoming pals and earning respect that way; “I’m just a regular guy, like you,” was their play. Barcomb didn’t want any more pals. Barcomb wasn’t a regular guy. If someone didn’t have respect for Barcomb, he’d beat it into them.
The bars gave way to the projects as Barcomb went further into The Burg. He caught glimpses of people running in the dark spaces between houses. Their black Chevy Suburban was unmarked, but the lookouts all knew it. Police activity in the projects had been kept to a minimum while the latest trial was underway, but Barcomb had busted enough skulls around here to make them remember. Barcomb turned into Atlantic Street and couldn’t hear a thing. Not even the dogs were barking.
They know to stay out of my way, he thought.
Barcomb’s phone rang.
“I can’t stay here,” whispered the woman’s voice on the other end.
“Is he there? Rhona, is he fucking there?” Barcomb said.
“Something’s wrong,” Rhona replied. “I think they’ve seen me.”
“Is Dutroux still inside?”
“I haven’t seen him for a while, but he went in. Listen, please. Something is really fucked up. I don’t know what it-”
The line went dead.
“What she say?” Munday inquired.
Reyes wiped the sweat from his forehead. “We on?”
Barcomb frowned and nodded. “Dutroux’s in there,” he said. “We’re on.”
Barcomb stopped under an off-ramp next to an empty homeless camp site. Five torn-up tents swayed in the breeze. The fire was still smoking. The piss against the wall was still wet. There was no-one around. The Burg was usually full of activity, a wasps’ nest of crack heads, hookers and half-starved kids on BMX bikes. It troubled Barcomb. He couldn’t shake the feeling that he was walking into something bad.
Focus, he thought.
He laid it out for Munday and Reyes. “You can still go home,” he said. “No-one knows you’re here and no-one will ever know you got this far. You do this, however, and no-one can ever know that either. We get this fuck. You shut your mouth. That’s it. Everyone sleeps better. I hear a word of this on the street, you better sleep with your fucking eyes open. You get me? So, what? You guys in?”
“I can’t live knowing Dutroux is out there, walking around like everyone else,” Munday said. “Not after what he did.”
Barcomb looked at Reyes. “What he did, is it enough for you? The money will be there. The dope will be there. We can take him in,” Barcomb said, “but I aim for this to go wrong. This isn’t gonna end well for him. He doesn’t get to walk away. We write this up afterwards as a drug bust gone wrong. Not a word out of line. Anyone’s there we don’t like, they go too.”
“If he moves, take him out. If he doesn’t, you leave him for me. Whatever happens. Listen to me, Reyes. Munday, you clear? Whatever happens, this motherfucker doesn’t get to walk away,” Barcomb said.
They got out of the car and Barcomb pulled his glock.
They pulled on their ski masks.
Officer Darren Barcomb had been haunting the streets of Elizabeth with a gun and a badge for over ten years – six on patrol, paying his dues, and now four on the strike team – but he had never seen it so quiet.
It was a small city, but Elizabeth was at the heart of Union County and home to many of the criminals operating out of Newark on the other side of the airport and in Jersey City across the bay. The backyard of Elizabeth was the refinery and the port, both making up the backbone of the city and keeping its people on the right side of surviving. When the refinery closed, the sharks from Newark and Jersey City moved in. James Dutroux was one such shark, his coming announced by the bloated, blue bodies of his competitors floating in the Arthur Kill, the strait separating Elizabeth from Staten Island. Elizabeth P.D. took the f
When one of Dutroux’s dirty cops turned and gave up half the force in the biggest Internal Affairs operations in the department’s history, it was only a matter of time until Dutroux found him.
Dutroux mailed the officer’s head to Internal Affairs in a box.
Barcomb made himself remember seeing his partner’s head in that box. He needed the rage. He could feel it taking hold of him, controlling him, making him sharper, stronger. His black-gloved hands shook as he crept around the back of the six-story tenement, the infamous Reilly-Russell apartments known by the locals as “Hell House”. Barcomb saw the white eyes of the enormous face of the graffiti devil which had watched from the wall for over ten years, covering half of the six stories, its lower jaw covered in gang tags and names in faded spray paint.
The eyes watched him.
The ground beneath Barcomb’s feet was soft, almost shifting. He stopped behind a rusted out Honda Accord with no wheels. He put his back to it and listened. He could feel his warm breath inside the ski mask. Munday and Reyes were close behind. There was no sign of Barcomb’s informant, Rhona.
“Where’s the snitch?” Munday asked.
“I don’t see her,” Barcomb said. “Must’ve booked out of here.”
Reyes looked around frantically, his eyes almost tearing up. “Something’s really crazy here,” he said. “Can you guys feel that?”
Munday and Barcomb looked at each other.
“The ground,” Barcomb said. “It’s moving.”
“What the fuck is it?” Munday asked.
“Who cares? Hold it together,” Barcomb said. “I don’t see a lookout. We’re heading up. I want the money in the room when we head in there. It needs to look good.”
“That must be the seller’s car,” Munday said, pointing to a Ford sedan much too shiny to be local. Its doors were all open and its interior lights were on, but no-one was around. “I don’t like it. Where is everyone?”
Barcomb felt the ground push up against the underside of his boot. He put it to the back of his mind. He only had room for what he needed to do. “Let’s find out,” Barcomb said, moving out from behind the car.
Hell House lived up to its reputation. Barcomb, Reyes and Munday forced an entry through a rear fire exit between graffiti of a nun with fire for eyes and pastel-colored children’s hand-prints, presumably left over from a kindergarten class from the nearby Pitarra Elementary, which the kids all named “The Pits” on account of its status as one of the most crime-ridden schools in the state of New Jersey. If knife crimes were football wins, Barcomb had always said, The Pits would have a hell of a trophy cabinet. The stench inside the tenement was overwhelming and the darkness was near-total.
Munday wrapped a handkerchief around her face to cover her nose and mouth. She whispered, “What in Christ’s name have they been doing down here?” Barcomb took out a flashlight and held it up beside the barrel of his glock, walking with slow, deliberate steps. They made it into the stairwell and Munday stepped in something. She tried scraping it off on the stairs.
“Dog shit,” Munday cursed.
“You wish,” Barcomb said.
The stairs were stained with piss. Broken syringes cracked under their boots. They stopped at every floor level and listened.
Munday mouthed to Barcomb, “Why is it so quiet?”
Barcomb didn’t answer. He pointed up towards the top floor. They had things to be doing.
The sixth floor smelled the worst, like something had crawled inside, died and shit all over itself in the process. A strip light in the corridor buzzed and blinked as it hung from its fixture. Barcomb pointed to the door at the end of the hall. Munday and Reyes nodded and went ahead. Barcomb moved slowly behind them, his glock drawn, listening as he passed each door. He heard TV game shows, the low moaning of life-changing sex, and a crying baby, but the loudest sound was his own footsteps. The state had put everything into locking Dutroux down over and over again, but it always fell apart. Years of work lost through a couple of procedural errors exploited by a lawyer who got paid more in a week than Barcomb did all year. This last trial was going south already. He can’t get away again, Barcomb thought.
This was Barcomb’s only shot at something like justice.
He knew he couldn’t fuck it up.
Dutroux’s door had a wrought-iron screen with a chair outside, probably for a bodyguard. Barcomb couldn’t help but be disappointed that Dutroux was so small time, operating out of a shit hole like this. The guy ran around Elizabeth like he owned the place and this was his set up?
The chair was empty.
The door was open.
Blood pooled on the carpet, darkening the welcome mat which read “Fuck off!” Munday and Reyes took a side of the door each. Barcomb walked up to the center. He lowered his weapon to his hip, still ready to fire, and pulled the door open with his free hand.
Barcomb could hear the TV, local news anchors squawking about a riot over in Newark, and he could hear movement. Someone was shuffling around.
Barcomb clicked his fingers at Reyes and pointed to a side bedroom. He nodded to Munday and gestured towards the lounge, mouthing “Follow me.”
The blood pooled at the door formed a red path to the lounge. The door was shut. Barcomb tried it quietly, but something blocked it on the other side. He put his ear to the door and listened. The shuffling stopped.
Suddenly, Reyes shouted from the other room: “Barcomb! Shit! Oh, fuck!”
Barcomb pulled the trigger in his mind in less than a second. He turned and pointed for Munday to see to Reyes and, turning back without breaking momentum, he kicked the lounge door down on his own in one motion and was inside, weapon drawn.
It was a slaughterhouse.
Blood dripped from the ceiling fan. The floor was a motionless carpet of human beings in different states of being torn apart. Limbs and intestines were ripped and scattered from their owners to such an extent that Barcomb couldn’t tell how many people he was looking at. He instinctively scanned the room for weapons and saw handguns and shotguns lying all around, but the corpses had not been shot; they had been shredded. It looked as if a pack of rabid wolves had been let loose in the place. There was no sense to be made of the scene. There was only carnage.
“Barcomb!” Munday shouted. She pulled Reyes in, taking his weight on her shoulders. “Some fuckin’ maniac bit his neck!”
“He down?” Barcomb asked.
Reyes’s eyes begged for help as he drowned in his own blood. His windpipe stuck through the gash on his throat and the wound bled into the opening. He collapsed on the floor. Barcomb had seen death, but very little first hand and up close as it happened. Good cops save lives; that’s what he always believed. At least until Dutroux put his partner’s head in a box and called down the wrath of god. Barcomb could see Reyes slipping away. He coughed and spluttered and looked like he couldn’t believe it was happening.
“Put pressure on that,” Barcomb said. “I need to secure the rest of the apartment.”
Munday pushed down on Reyes’s neck and blood sprayed up into her face, darkening her blonde hair, dripping from her ponytail. She spat it out of her mouth as she held on. “Don’t you die,” she said. “Winners don’t die.”
Barcomb kicked at the more complete corpses on the floor to look for survivors, ignoring those which had been torn completely apart. He saw the bathroom door was closed and tried the handle.
A clattering and a sobbing sound came from inside.
“Come out of there, right now!” Barcomb shouted. “Elizabeth P.D.! Get your ass out!”
“Oh, thank god! Don’t shoot!” a voice came. “Don’t fuckin’ shoot!” The door opened slowly.
“Hands where I can see them!”
A silver-plated Desert Eagle was tossed out of the bathroom door shortly before a pair of blood-soaked hands appeared. Munday pushed Reyes’s eyes closed and stood up. She drew her weapon and trained it on the bathroom door.
“I thought you guys would never show the fuck up, man.” The man in the bathroom walked out with his hands held high. He wore an open red Hawaiian shirt and was bare-chested underneath; he had on a pair of white shorts, now red, and sandals. He was black, round-bellied and in his mid-30s with a long, wiry beard and the number 23 shaved into his hair. He had a big smile for Munday. “Damn, girl,” he said. “I didn’t phone no stripper gram, but I’ll take one.”
His smile disappeared when he saw Barcomb. “Hello, Dutroux,” Barcomb said
“Someone’s coming,” Munday said, spinning to face the other door.
“Look, Barcomb, man,” Dutroux said. “We gotta get outta this fuckin’ joint right fuckin’ now. I know we got some shit, but there is some fucked up shit going on tonight. I can’t even-”
“Shut the fuck up,” Munday said. “Listen.”
Distant shrieking carried through the building’s corridors, distant howls and distant moans.
“What the fuck is that?” Barcomb said.
“We gotta leave, man.” Dutroux said. “They on some crazy shit. I ain’t even kidding. Motherfuckers come in here and start tearing shit up and they don’t go down, you know?”
Barcomb looked at Dutroux as the noises grew louder and closer.
“They don’t go down,” Dutroux repeated.
The door to the apartment splintered into pieces and a blood-drenched man stood in the doorway, looking around as if sniffing for food. Barcomb approached. “Down on the ground!” he shouted. “Get those fucking hands behind your head and kiss the floor.”
The man tilted his head like a curious dog and started running at Barcomb.
“Freeze!” Barcomb shouted. “Freeze right now or I’ll be forced to fire!”
“Don’t shoot that fuckin’ thing!” Dutroux shouted. “You’ll bring them here!”
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