The house did not stand alone, it was loneliness itself.
Judith howled horribly upstairs to me. It echoed around our former matrimonial home; it was enough to wake the bloody dead.
‘You’d be late for your own funeral?’ she screamed with laughter. And I was going to be if I wasn’t careful.
Judith always stated the obvious but it wasn’t difficult to do that with me, as everything I used to do was obvious; now I was an enigma but that comes with the territory.
‘I don’t want to go but I don’t think I’ve got a choice,’ I smiled weakly back, trying to not sound haunted by my own remarks.
Judith floated up the stairs and joined me on the bed. I sat with my head in my hands.
‘You’ve no choice,’ she whispered softly.
‘Yes-I don’t want to let the others down, especially as they are expecting to let me down- all the way to the bottom.’
‘Nice to see you’ve still got your sense of humour, even if you haven’t got all your limbs.’
‘Oh yes,’ I realised, ‘I better grab them from the closet.’
She took my hand and I immediately felt calm. As she stroked it I went into the bathroom for my teeth, eyes and hair.
She tried to wipe a bleeding tear off my cheek but I was too busy trying to not look gaunt and pale for her. I gathered myself together into a suitcase and we left with my other hand in hers.
On our walk to the cemetery- as she faded in the moonlight never to be seen again- images of the shadows of the outline of the visage of Judith, my bride, remained in my receding memory.
….aaaand we’re back!
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She was sitting three tables away from me, sipping on an ice cold latte. Cream sat on her top lip like a vaudevillian’s fake ’tache and she either couldn’t feel it or didn’t care. She had a strange way of holding her drink, almost as if her arm was too weak to keep it to her mouth, because her hand cupped round forcing her wrist to make a severe ‘V’ shape. She took no notice of her surroundings; the children playing holy hell in the corner, with a mom who was less a mother figure and more a cattle wrangler; the love birds on the table sandwiched between the pretty girl and I, unable to keep their hands off each other, kissing whenever not eating, stroking each other’s faces as if they had purchased a pet and was showing them the supposedly prerequisite affection; the elderly lady walking to the lavatory, head down looking ready to burst in to tears at any moment. People having good days, people having bad days.
She finally wiped her face, removing her creamy lip whiskers with the back of her sleeve. She turned to ‘Romeo and Juliet’ with a look of discomfort, which turned very quickly to disgust and she shook her head vigorously, almost as if to make a point to no-one in particular. And that’s when I took my chance. I brushed myself down, glanced at the reflection of myself in the café’s window, making sure my hair was immaculate. Taking a deep breath for confidence I stood up, cleared my throat and started over to the other side of the room, past the two tables between us. I shot the female in the head with my Smith and Wesson, then I looked at the attractive girl making a point of giving a disapproving look, and then I shot the male right between his very confused, very frightened looking eyes. Upon the floor blood seeped into coffee and the room smelt like a mixture of cookies, bleach and gun smoke. I sauntered over to the girl and leaned in. I beamed the biggest smile I could and calmly said, ‘You’re welcome.’
Without any muss or fuss I left through the entrance and tried to remember where I had parked. ‘Ah,’ I thought, ‘just outside the shopping arcade.’ But as I walked to my ‘1986 Full Race Capri 254 (an absolute classic if you ask me) a feeling of dread fell over the whole of my body, fogging the mind and making me stop dead in my tracks.
‘Shit, I forgot to tip the waitress.’ From then on I knew the guilt would follow me for the rest of the day. They work long hours and minimum wage, don’t you know?
Vastness of a turtle neck wrapped around in swaddling plaid
Innocence is no excuse
Passing though I’m just looking
Going down the rabbit hole
Undulating common people, dancing in the disco
A small vastness Tardis like state, unbeknown but welcome
Last nights antics covered in grease proof paint
Still looking for the orange one
Nervously I fiddle with the stiches on my chest, they just seem too long and the scar never seems to heal. Maybe I should leave it alone and forget about it?
If I am to do a God’s work, why do I loathe myself so?
In the day, because of my condition, I remain in self-created shadows, not wanting an audience, not even of one. I feel victimised: by the sun, by society, by my own thoughts.
Then everything changes. The sun goes down and even the moon hides itself from me. The night can camouflage many things, but is it not dark enough to hide my black-heart. I am on task but in the back of my mind I know ‘it’ lies like an unfinished jigsaw back at home- and this disturbs me so. Tonight I must find the final missing piece for it all to make sense and so my peace of mind can return and my world can continue to spin.
No security, no guards, no hope for them. I slip in through the back door after picking the lock in 11.9 seconds. I take of my shoes and make my way up the stair, carrying my icebox carefully so as not to rattle its insides.
Gerry Taylor, young, healthy, vibrant lies asleep in his double bed. I do not stand around to enjoy this; I am there to do a job, so I do what needs to be done. I slit his throat and carve off his right hand, wrap and place in my box of ice; all under 8 minutes- a personal record. I leave the way I came in and am home before sunrise.
The stitches around my wrists look like cool tattoos but the scars on my face look like wounds from war.
In the renovated basement- half laboratory, half morgue- I set to work and the final part is to be put into place; click- and ‘it’ will be ready. But will I?
I stitch ‘it’ together and pray to myself.
My lab, my rules. No one can tell me what to do,
‘It’ lies on the slab so still. What is there left to do now? What must I do to realise my goal? To finish what I started? To have a true and final end? Or is this a beginning? No- no- revenge is always a means to an end.
I inject the adrenalin/nitro-glycerine compound into a black vein rising from ‘it’s’ neck- so thick and worm-like it’s almost asking to be pumped full of life. I stand back and watch the fluid make its way around ‘it’s’ body as it illuminates the blood, like luminous roads on a map of skin.
‘It’ opens its eyes wide and coughs and splutters as it tries to grab oxygen from the air, in wide greedy gulps. ‘It’ sits up and glares at me; there is no question at all, it is not baffled or confused, it knows who I am.
‘Son?’ it slobbers- drool and blood congealed together gloop from its malformed lips.
‘Yes Father. How does it feel that the tables have turned; now I am the maker and you, the lifeless monster?’
The look on his face was enough; he knew his wrongs would never be righted, but this was a start.
He spat: ‘I just wanted someone to love, someone to care for, someone to be mine.’
I reply by blowing the back of his head out with a shotgun.
He created me: a creature stitched together from dead body parts, and I returned the favour; only the head was his and now even that was gone.
I turned the gun on myself and pulled the trigger- a mosaic of skull, brain and blood hit the wall behind me. At first glance it looks like a butterfly ready to take flight, fluttering its wings, readying itself to be free. Or, on second look- like any good Rorschach inkblot- it was something else: a horned demon watching silently with a sly grin on its face, as human pitted itself against human and the outcome could only be death for all.
Once you’re gone you’re gone, there’s no coming back. You can’t cheat death, you can only keep a few things from it for a short while. The last three months was like gambling with the Reaper- my poker face took me so far but in the end I cracked, the stitches split and I ended up empty.
– Where are we?
– We are in Sunnarr’s hands now.
– Will he protect us?
– YES, he will hold on tight and never let us go.
– Will he make sure we are fed?
– NO, we will have to look for food ourselves.
– Will he clothe us?
– NO, we must go forth and find fabrics, and then tailor them to our needs.
– Will he shelter us from stormy weather and the upcoming winds?
– NO, we must build places of refuge in His name.
– Will he point to the right path and show us the way?
– NO, he will open our eyes to the territory, but will not draw us a map.
– Are we not just as hungry, homeless, weather- beaten, and lost as we have ever been?
– NO, for we are ‘the Scion’ and will be forever more.
– Will tomorrow not just be like any other day?
– NO, we will rise early and, before light, we will slaughter our enemy as they sleep.
– Will we praise Him as we lubricate our bodies and quench our thirst with their blood, and make new weapons with their bones?
– YES, for we start as we mean to go on and nothing can stop us, not even the oncoming night, the darkness that falls or the eclipse that threatens our God; for Sunnarr shines brightly, glows heavenly and burns knowingly.
It felt like there was more darkness than the room could hold. Like a battle against the light was being lost. Gall slumped in his chair in front of the glowing computer screens, watching dust particles illuminated by the screen light rise and fall on the convectional currents. The air was thick. He could feel himself getting full from just breathing it in. Gall sat and stared at the screens, as he always did.
In the corner, an orchid strained for the light and optimistically bulked it’s flower head ready to bloom and fill the room with colour. Gall sat and stared and watched the screens – just as he always did.
A greasy pizza, crushed into its cardboard coffin, rammed through the letterbox. Gall heard the clunk of the lid shutting as the delivery boy took his payment which waited for him. Gall shuffled across the room on his swivel chair, re-tracing the familiar groves in the dust on the floor as he fetched his meal, and never taking his eyes off the screens.
Gall heard the ripples of rain against the window. The sound still got through the blind, curtains and board he had in front of it. He never took his bulging eyes off the screen. Always watching them. No one watching him.
And then Gall woke up. Bright lights, moving images, unfamiliar sounds. He was in a hospital bed. After taking a few minutes to adjust, he turned onto his side and found her sat by his bed.
“How…?” he murmured in her direction.
“You had a heart attack, Dad. You’re going to be ok, thought…” She softly said.
He shut his eyes again, forcing himself down as deeper as he could go, closing off everything around him. After a few seconds he opened them again.
He was back in his room. The darkness felt even heavier. Light crushed in on all sides. He smiled, for the first time in months, he could do it – he could live any life he wanted – vicariously – without the risk of death, pain, heartbreak. He clicked off the page of the father in his hospital bed with his daughter at his side and clicked onto a new page. The letterbox rattled as his next meal crushed through. He shuffled over to retrieve it, never taking his eyes off the screens, and looking for his next experience.
“Why live one life when you can live many?” he said to himself, hot, greasy pizza slopping onto his chin. But then it stuck him – who would want to live his? He ushered that thought away and returned to staring at the screens, concentrating on his next trip and eventually, his next victim.
THE FIRST THING I HEARD THAT NIGHT was an annoying tap- tap- tap, as my head lay on the pillow.
I guessed it was some fucker knocking on my door, that ludicrous ‘I know it’s late, so I don’t want to be too loud, but I want to wake you’ type of knock. I opened my eyes to see a flitting black blur of a- shit!- a bird? or even a bat? Heart racing, I leapt out of bed, and fumbled for the light switch. The illuminated room showed a small black moth- no bigger than the palm of my hand- flapping manically against my bedroom wall; it seemed to want to bypass the going around and, quite pathetically instead, just go straight through it. Why not just go out the way you came in, idiot? Actually, how did you get in?
I’m not getting any sleep till I get that fucker. So I opened the window, grabbed a magazine and thought I’d start with the wafting option. I took huge, theatrical waves with the magazine, hoping to blow it away from the light bulb it had suddenly decided to dance around. Nothing– it didn’t move it. Not a damn inch. In actual fact I was probably helping the li’l devil to get his groove on, because it just seemed to excite him more, and he kept moving, bopping and getting down, totally at my expense, as I stood there naked, bringing a copy of FHM up and down, for absolutely no reason.
So, it’s time for some baseball is it? Rounders- cricket- whatever. I rolled up the mag and took a random swing: Miles away, I need to get on his level. I looked around for my computer stool, moved it under the light and got up. My first hit- YES!- got him, and he span in a downward spiral till he pitifully hit the floor without a sound. However- my body decided to unbalance, and therefore, I followed him.
THE LAST THING I HEARD THAT NIGHT was the sound of an agonising, bone-crunching crack, as my head hit the floor and my neck snapped.
When they finally caught me – trying to dissect my seventeenth victim – they knew that the standard punishment protocol wouldn’t be enough. For I was special and I needed something special. They kept me caged for most of the time, with usually two or three guards staring at me from behind the criss-cross window, and fantasising about all the things they would want to do to me. Nothing was painful enough. Nothing would last long enough.
I heard the state judge actually wretched as he was read a list of my crimes – to each one I had confessed, supplying every detail I could remember – which was all of them. When he took the case to his seniors in the Department for Justice, they agreed that I wasn’t fit to stand trial and I should be sentenced immediately. The truth was it was they who weren’t fit to stand the trial – I had been rehearsing my performances in my cell, practicing and labouring over each and every word. They had even given the guards ear plugs to stop them from hearing the disgusting details.
After three weeks I got word from my lawyer – via letter, I might add – that they had turned to an “outside consultant” to find an appropriate way of dealing with me. They didn’t want to execute me, they wanted me to experience hell on earth. This consultant was a horror writer, unpublished, relatively unknown, but whose imagination was left to find a solution to this predicament.
Eventually, the keys jangled and the heavy door lock snapped open and in stepped a gaggle of riot guards and the prison warden. They chained me, cloaked and bagged me up and carried me on a stretcher out into the long hallway and into a waiting prison van outside. I felt the undulations and vibrations of the rough tarmac as I was rolled outside. I inhaled violently against inside of the body bag to suck in the fresh air one last time. I was sure they were going to torture me, maybe even crucify me.
We drove for nine hours straight.
It was dark when we arrived, the cool night air smelled sweet and the insects triumphantly announced my arrival – filling the darkness with a hiss of excitement. I was known throughout all species. I was the devil on earth.
They laid me down on the muddy ground and unzipped the body bag, hauled off my hood and unblocked my chains before stepping away. “What is this?” I asked.
“Hell. You’re in Hell. A Hell we have created just for you,” snarled the warden.
I clambered to my feet and arched my back to take into view the house. A decrepit, old wooden house shrouded in dying oak trees which pre-dated the industrial revolution. The paint was peeling off the walls, panels of wood splintered open here and there. I laughed and stepped inside.
“What’s in here?” I asked as they followed me – going nowhere further than the porch. The warden looked anxiously at the ground and then the horror writer – whom I presumed was the older guy with the beard and the glasses.
“A monster.” He answered. And with that they shut the door.
I gazed across the darkened hallway, allowing my eyes to adjust to the poor light. I saw dozens of darkened figures staring back at me. I stumbled over to the wall and groped for a light switch and found none. Eventually, I found an oil lamp with matches and brought light to the room. I held it up to see the dark figures staring back at me were mine. I laughed. I was the monster they were referring to. I broke every mirror in the house. Punching, kicking and head-butting with grotesque delight. When I was done I slept, giddy from the rage, on the floor in the back room.
The next morning I awoke to find every mirror had been replaced. I shouted out insults to the men watching outside. And once again I broke every mirror in the house.
They promised me that the monster would come, and with time, it did. After four nights I began to go insane. My bloodied, scab-crusted, evil reflection found me in every room, round every corner. I smashed and begged them to stop. Each of my seventeen victims tortured me with eyes each day.
But not their eyes. Mine.
Richard David Lawman is the chief Writer/ Director/ Producer of ‘The Putty In Your Hands’ production company. He can be found and contacted at http://richarddavidlawman.com/ and http://uk.linkedin.com/pub/richard-lawman/24/966/182
The enormity of it all was overwhelming, stifling and petrifying, all at the same time, yeah, sounds dramatic I know. To feel like this is hard work, it’s not something you would choose and if you could take a pill to make it disappear, believe me you would. I lay on the warm damp grass down near the stream where I often played as a child. It had been many years since I had visited this spot, because since then I had kept well away- for good and bad.
Although the sound of the water was soothing, it also reminded me of darker days, days I had spent many years trying to forget. The area had not changed at all over the decades; I still recognised it all. Unlike other areas nearby there had been no development, this was due to the ground being so unstable, no developer, no matter how determined, would ever try to build on this.
Why had I come back here? Well that would take a lot of explaining, but I will try and be as brief as I can.
My accomplices have all gone now, mostly through drink drugs and –ahem- their behaviour.
Time passes– moving rubbish from the flats I once lived in, the store room must be emptied. Because of the humidity I can feel sweat beading across the top of my head. I reach the lift just in time to see it shut, I wait. Time passes– thinking, pondering, dare I say (I am) dreaming?
I have always wanted to go back twenty years (and down twenty metres), before this and that (mainly that), before I made decisions I now deeply regret.
Lying on the damp grass, I thought I heard the body beneath me move.
David Partington is a well respected ceramicist and artist whose work can be seen at http://partingtonspots.tumblr.com/ He can be contacted through http://www.facebook.com/partingtons.pots