Published by Colin Durrant
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual people living or dead, events or locals is entirely coincidental.
This eBook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This eBook may not be resold or given away to other people without risk of sanctions governed by international treaties and laws. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient.
This story contains scenes of violence, profanity and licentiousness. The content is in no way intended to offend but is in keeping with the genre of the story and its nature and reflects the mentality and proclivities of the characters therein.
Malachi stood in his usual spot at the entrance to the nursing home dragging on his cigarette, trying to prevent that here-we-go-again feeling from turning in to that time-to-get-the-hell-out-of-here thought. He exhaled, the day's winter breeze whipping billowing smoke from his lips before it had chance to plunge his features into obscurity. He dropped the butt, crushing it, heel to toe. He flung open the door and entered the reception. The smell of old-age struck him. He guessed it was a mixture of pungent incontinence mingled with the faint scent of perfume and cheap air fresheners. He glanced at the tall cactus to the right of the front desk and thought that there could not have been another plant in the world that was as unwelcoming as this. It was perfect.
He walked up to the dragon lady with the blouse buttoned to her neck. "Hi. I'm here to see my mother."
"And she is?" She made small, circular motions with a pen as though summoning the answer from the middle of the desk.
He hated the bitch already and somewhere in him he wondered if she'd make a good addition to his barn. "I hope," he jested, "that she's somewhere in there, unless you've let her of the leash and allowed her to wander...again." He pointed beyond a set of glass-panelled doors.
"I'm not smiling."
He huffed. He wasn't surprised. Her mouth was like the slit of a letter box in a wooden door, incapable of stretching even to the accomplishment of a smirk. "Two weeks ago, she was in the dining room wearing nothing but her Birthday suit. I love the old girl to bits but you know what kind of damage a guy could suffer when faced with the sight of his mother's nipples hardening in the breeze of this piss-poor excuse of this air conditioning of yours?"
Wide-eyed and still, she said nothing. After a moment she found her voice. "Sir, I find you quite rude."
Malachi, leaned in to the desk, whispering. "And there I was hoping we could go for dinner sometime."
The woman shook her head as a younger lady moved in behind her. "Certainly not."
"Then I guess blowjob's out of the question then?" He didn't smile or even grin and it was the sternness of his expression that kept the woman in check. He had learnt that you could get away with saying almost anything you wanted if you said it with a very particular expression.
The woman behind the first stepped in. "I'll handle this."
The dragon lady grabbed an aerosol can and sprayed above Malachi's head before pulling away.
He waved his hands like a demented controller bringing a plane to the ground of an equally insane world. "What the hell's with the spray?"
The woman smiled, grabbing the register. "She's a non smoker. She can smell it a mile off."
"One of those huh? Thought she looked a little too healthy."
"Been a few weeks. Good to see you haven't lost that charm of yours."
"I aim to please." He grabbed the pen on the counter and scribbled his name in the register.
The woman grinned. "I've heard that from you before." She leaned forward. "I'm curious as to what form your aim would take."
"I bet you are." Malachi wondered if any part of her, even the darkest foulest part of her that spawned her taboos of which only a fraction had probably ever seen the light of day, could understand let alone share in his definition of pleasure. Over the last three years, he had watched her change and grow as the mother he came to see changed and withered by almost equal measure, as though the youth of this receptionist was perpetuated by his mother's contrasting ageing. She had evolved from a taciturn adolescent who would barley look at him when speaking to a confident young lady who welcomed his innuendos.
She led him down a corridor, telling him that the doctor had done his rounds and that despite his mother's Alzheimer's – and in his head he heard rotting brain - the woman was in a fair condition. He thought that was a little like a mechanic declaring that a car was in good condition despite the blown pistons and the big end having dropped out of the bloody engine. He had seen the doctor weeks ago, working the rec-room with his stethoscope. Some of the old codgers were lively and made a point of letting others know with phrases as there's life in the old ticker yet; others were statuesque and their pulses just faint rumblings beneath haggard skin, prompting the white-coats to periodically verify life...or sometimes death.
His mother was standing in the middle of the room as if waiting for him, or that's what he would have liked to believe. In truth, he knew that her condition meant she could have been standing in the middle of the room just for the sake of doing so. He turned and closed the door. The receptionist left, quietly sneaking off as though a noisy departure would jar the old lady's thoughts from remembrance.
"Flowers, for me?" His mother dashed forward with more energy than her frail frame suggested possible. She snatched the bouquet like an over-excited child snatching a present from its father's hands. "Chrysanthemums: my absolute favourite."
He smiled. Two weeks ago he had brought her roses. They too had been her absolute favourite. As she moved the coned packaging, he tried to ignore how slim she had become. She wore a heavy dress with long sleeves and he knew that she had attempted to hide her frame and by doing so had acknowledged her own decline. Another two weeks, then another - how many could pass before she became so thin that she would simply slip from existence.
She turned, holding her hands out to the room. "This will do, won't it?"
Malachi nodded. "Very tidy. And you," he indicated her dress, "look beautiful." He wondered who had dressed her, who had applied her makeup.
"I like to look my best for when my son visits. You should see him - a handsome lad." Two minutes. He estimated he had been in the room for no more than two minutes before her memory of him nose-dived. It was a record – and not one to be celebrated but lamented. "Malachi," he said. "It's me...your son." Recognition was fleeting but the pretence of it continued.
"Just teasing silly." She slapped his knee playfully. "I know why I'm here...Malachi, but there are some things a mother doesn't forget. Some things a mother never forgets." She walked to him, gripping his face. "I don't blame you. You know that don't you?" She nodded. "I'm here because of me. I'm sorry if I said anything ..."
"You didn't." He lied. He gripped her hand. He wanted to comfort her. He squeezed a little harder, a part of him wanting to inflict a physical pain to equal her mental anguish, to hurt her as she had hurt him. Over the months she had blamed him for his father's death and in the same breath had pitied him for his loss. She had screamed at him for the loss of his brother but then had blamed herself and then God and then a nonexistent Marxist faction who had taken little Jacob from his cot while he slept. He relaxed his grip. "It's going to be all right."
She backed off and amid a confused glare slapped his face. "How dare you. To take advantage of a woman old enough to be..." she paused, struggling with ambivalence, with fact and delusion. "You want a fondle do you?" She cupped her breasts pushing them forward. "Do yooooou?"
"Fuck this shit." He lunged forward, gripping his mother's neck, shoving her against the wall. "Why do you do this?" For a second he didn't see her face but the faces of the many others who had been subjected to his anger: a leggy brunette who realised too late that she was with the wrong guy; a chubby blond whose misplaced affection for him stunned her into silence while he did what he needed to do; a chiselled thirty-something guy who discovered that he really was not as tough as he believed himself to be. They were all there in that second and his mother saw it.
"Go on," she chided, "it's what you do so well."
He released her. His only consolation was the knowledge that in a few minutes she would not recall the assault. "I'm sorry. Forgive me...okay...forgive me."
The woman stepped forward. "God knows I've tried."
She seemed to tower over him, her frailty momentarily failing to find her for it was no longer suited to this moment because she was no longer here. "All the things you've done." She wagged her finger at him. "All those naughty little things." She was thirteen years or so younger, and that delusion had the power to drag him back with her. He was in his early teens again, yelling sorry for being expelled from another school for fighting, sorry for stealing, for vandalising, for being a disrespectful little shit to the law of the land and that of his mother. He cut off his trip down memory lane, sensing the guilt's desperation to find a more serious crime that would give it the power to destroy him according to the dictates of appropriateness. He was tall again, taller than his mother who had already forgotten the outburst and the assault and was now arranging the fresh flowers in its glass vase.
"Your father," her tone was low, regretful, "never buys me flowers. He doesn't love me anymore."
"He would if he could."
"Not since Jake."
"Ancient history." But he supposed for her it wasn't, not for a woman whose mind was shot to shit and whose present was screwed and whose only recourse was the past. She slipped in and out of it as her lucidity and dementia allowed in an effort to relive the good times but always managed to trudge up tragedy. He knew why; guilt and pain carved itself into the memory and somehow seemed harder to forget. He had been only five when his father copped it in a car crash. A disaster preceded by another in which little Jacob had burned to death in the house fire. He glimpsed details here and there in his dreams and those details often felt more imagined than recalled - scenes of horror shaped according to his mother's narrative. He had been too young to remember the facts. His mother knew that and tried to make him remember before she lost the ability to recall them herself. It would be up to him to keep them alive in his heart and mind.
She sat on the bed and seemed to zone out as she often did. He talked to her, about the weather, about his job, not sure how much of what he was saying sunk in. His boss had him on the early run to Nottingham for the next two weeks. He supposed it wasn't all bad. He had managed to land himself the Citroen van, probably the best of the three fleet of vehicles on offer. It held more room in the back than the others and could deliver supplies to several pharmacies on a single run. His mother nodded every so often, like an uninterested student who sensed rather than saw the stare of her lecturer. He beguiled her with stories of medical wonders that would someday save her, that could one day reach back into time to save everyone she had ever lost. He could have told her that he had climbed the fucking rainbow to the land of Oz and she would have nodded. After a time, he stopped talking and just sat with her, holding her hand, saddened by the sense of role reversal. Twenty or so minutes later, he heard a trolley rattling around the halls outside and knew that pill-popping time was imminent. He kissed her on the cheek, stood, then walked to the door.
"Bring them next time. They would love to see me."
He turned to his mother's faint voice. "Bring who?"
"Your dad of course. Little Jake too. It seems forever since I've seen them."
"Sure mum." He opened the door and entered the hall, already gaining the sense of easing himself back into rationalness. He was right about the trolley. He nodded to the nurse as he passed. His mother was at her lowest ebb immediately before her meds. He had learnt that the best time to visit was before they were administered. As far as he could tell her window of lucidity that opened served only to remind her of what she had lost. That gift of clarity was its own curse, forcing her to acknowledge its fleetingness. It was not so much a reprieve as it was a taunt. It had been during those times of quasi-coherence that she had been most suspicious of him, quizzing him about things she had heard and read: murders, dead bodies, punctured eyes and scissors. He preferred her when she was confused, when those real horrors belonging to the real world became the imagined horrors of a warped mind.
That night, he decided to visit a club as he always did after enduring an hour or so with his mother. Three years ago and a year after his mother was institutionalised, he had sought relief in booze and dance. Neither had worked. What had worked was torture and murder. He had found that release by accident in a leggy blond with tits like traffic cones. They met in a nightclub. They had gone to her apartment. She had given head and taken anal and had opened him up to pleasures he had never before explored. But she had failed to disclose the nature of their transaction before they flirted and fucked. He had assumed it was a simple exchange of physical pleasure and fluids. Wrong. He had wanted sex; she had wanted money. Voices were raised, fists were swung. He reached for a pair of scissors on her bedside cabinet. He rammed them into her chest. He stood over the body, wanting to feel what any normal person should feel. But since the deaths of his brother and father he had never really been normal. Panic, fear, confusion – he waited for those feelings to overwhelm him. Instead, he felt ...relived. The tension and frustration that had been poisoning him for a year or so was suddenly gone. He had spent it all in that burst of rage. That killing moment had left him calmer than he had ever been. He had taken the scissors. Six months later his second victim had been Johnny no stars from a back-street burger bar. The man had short-changed him. He had rammed the scissors into the man's right eye in the alley, cutting short his whistling rendition of Rule Britannia.
He had left those two victims where they had fallen.
The others belonged to the barn.
He returned to his flat just eight miles from the nursing home. He shat, shaved and showered before pulling on a pair of clean jeans and a white short-sleeved shirt. He sniffed his socks; they were good for another few hours of wear. After he attacked his armpits with a few cloudy bursts of antiperspirant, he threw on his leather coat. He walked to the airing cupboard, opened the door and fell to his knees as if praying to a God whose arrival through this gateway was imminent. He removed the loose floorboard and grabbed the stainless-steel scissors, unwrapping them from their bed of red silk, awakening them from their six months of slumber. He had often wondered why he had continued to use them as his weapon of choice. He supposed it was for the same reason that a football fan would wear the same shirt again and again to his home matches or why a gardener would wear his worn gloves when weeding. It was a ritual...and it was one that had worked well for the last few years so why change it.
He did not make the seven mile journey to The Basement by taxi for the company would keep a record of the pickup and the door–to-door service was a potential link between him and any victim's last known location. He walked a mile from the flat and waited in a shelter and in the dark. The number 29 bus finally arrived. He stepped on, keeping his head low. He sat at the back, making sure no-one could sit behind him and to have a clear view of those in front. So far only a loved-up teenage couple and a middle-aged woman sat in front of him. He got off about a mile from the club and walked the rest of the way.
The serpentine queue, which reeked of testosterone and perfume, pulsed with the muffled beat of the music from within the club. Before he joined the ranks of short skirts and tight shirts, he removed the scissors from his coat and slid them down the waist band of his jeans, the blades resting between the cheeks of his arse. It was uncomfortable but he had not only become used to it but dependent on it. It was a reminder of the power he could wield. Only the bent bouncers were comfortable with feeling around another man's groin. They probably would have been quite happy to give a full body cavity search....minus the latex gloves. No-one searched him. No-one even looked at him as he shoved his entrance fee to the flat-chested woman behind the desk. He wasn't sure what face he was wearing upon entry: his friendly face that made him look as dangerous as a field mouse or his natural countenance that told others that he would be the last person they would want to mess with. Like everyone else, he found anonymity in the darkness that was erratically interspersed by a hissy-fit of coloured strobes. Everyone found his or her high in something: a drug, a shot of vodka, a burst of adrenalin, an unrestrained sexual frolic. He found his in anticipation. People lost inhibition and by way of compensation found carelessness. Others exploited those losses. Some sought sexual conquests, some, a simple, fleeting companionship...and others, something a little more sinister. He never had any more than a couple of beers while in a club on the hunt. He sipped his larger as he watched lovers dancing, strangers smooching, groups of women and men huddled together laughing. He'd been there for only a couple of hours before he was drawn to a slim brunette in her early twenties. He stood on the mezzanine on first floor as she argued with a man and another woman. The music drowned out their words. They walked away, leaving her alone. She was surrounded by hundreds of clubbers yet she looked as though she could not be more alone if she had been the only girl in the place.
He could talk to her, charm her. They would leave together. One way or another, they would wind up in her car. One way or another, she would end up with his scissors in her head. "No." He muttered the word under his breath. That wouldn't work. She was upset, hurt. Instead of brushing off the man's words she harboured his insults. She cared for him. Perhaps she would go with him, perhaps she wouldn't. He watched her for another hour during which time she grabbed an orange juice at the bar. She left. He followed her....to a taxi. Fuck. You win some; you lost some. As the taxi pulled away another car came into view.
A woman in her mid thirties stood by an old Ford. She swayed by the open door of the driver side. She fumbled to insert the keys into the ignition before she was even in the seat.
He looked around him. No-one else was in sight. He strolled to the car. "You reckon you're okay to drive?"
She turned and gasped. "Jesus, you scared me. Of course I'm okay. Who the fuck are you anyway? Jesus. You ain't a cop are you?"
"Yes," he lied. "As far as I see it you haven't committed a crime... yet."
"Where's your id?"
"Actually, I'm off duty." He looked into her eyes. Sober, she would have questioned him further, doubted him. But she was drunk; she would have believed he was her guardian angel sent from God to protect her from a drunk-driving accident if he had told her. "Perhaps I should drive you home." He removed his cigarette packet from the shirt pocket. "Smoke?" He waited for her to nod, handed her one, then took one for himself.
"And why should I trust you?"
He lit the tip of his fag before doing the same to hers. "Hey, if you can't trust a copper then who can you trust?"
"You're right. I shouldn't be driving. I'll call myself a cab." She laughed before spluttering, "I'm a cab."
Malachi laughed with her. A part of him was tempted to force her into the car. He figured that she could offer little resistance in her condition. She wouldn't be hard to deal with even if she had been sober. She was a good deal lighter and shorter. But he had learnt that it was foolish to underestimate the strength of a woman fighting for her life. Besides, if he couldn't talk a pissed-up blond into his trap then perhaps he didn't deserve her anyway. "A taxi?" He stooped, taking a closer look at her car. "Yeah, sure, you could do that. You're insured right?" He waited for a glare of confusion before continuing. "The car might be here when you come back tomorrow. Windows will probably be smashed in though. Wheels may be gone."
"You think?" Her words issued in a billow of smoke.
"Fuck yeah. You wouldn't believe how many motors get pinched from an area like this. How long does it take to get to your place?"
"Ten...fifteen minutes." Her eyes rolled in her head as she brought her fingers to her face. "No, wait." She counted one digit after another. "Yep...ten minutes."
"I'll drive you to yours. You can call a taxi for me. I'll even wait outside." He looked about him. "It's a nice night."
"Why?" She lifted a finger. It swayed "Why do you want to help, Mr. off duty police man?"
"A copper's never really off duty.” He took a puff of his cigarette then turned to face her, his eyes inches from hers. "Listen, you could leave on your lonesome and end up as road kill at the next roundabout. If my D.I found out that I let you leave then he'll have my head on a pike. And the paper work? Fuck, they'll have to clear a forest just to push this shit through the outbox."
"You're a funny man." She smiled, blowing smoke into his face before prodding his chest again. "My name's Sally." She studied him for a moment, his build, physique, assessing his candidacy as a potential lover. Eventually, she nodded. "Yeah...why the hell not." She tossed the keys in his direction.
He clasped them in his right hand and smiled. "The name's Tommy." He used the same bullshit name he'd used many times before. He hopped into the driver seat and waited until she slid in next to him before starting the car. "You going to be okay to give directions?"
She nodded, laughed and swung a flaccid hand in front of her. "Just..." hiccup "Just head to the bowling alley. You know where that is?"
"Sure." As he drove, he listened to her ramble on about her flat mate. There was nothing going on of course. Wink wink, nudge nudge. He was as bent as a politician apparently.
"You wouldn't think it," she said. "Built like a tank. A waste of man if you ask me."
He knew then that his plan to finish her in her place - whether or not he needed to force entry - was seriously flawed. Now, he would need to contend with the fudge packer as well as this Sally and if he was as tough as she implied then it may be only his own life that would end tonight.
"You ever kill anyone?"
She was psychic. It was coincidence. A primal part of her picked up on the danger she was in and conveyed those signs that her intoxicated brain perceived as an out-of-context curiosity. He turned and stared at her. He forgot about the road and she was too far gone to even care that it was more luck than anything else that they were still on it. Did she know about his habit? He decided not. She was too calm and jovial, especially for a woman who was about to become part of his collection.
"Or are you one of those desk-jockey cops?"
He sighed, remembering who he was supposed to be. "I've seen my fair share of action."
"So," she leaned into him, "have you killed anyone?"
Her probing hardened him. The woman's eyes burned with morbidity. He reckoned that flame would burn just as brightly if she were sober. Normally, only their bodies interested him. But now, she was in life just as much of interest to him as he seemed to be to her. "Yes...I've killed." He would have bet his dick and dangles that the picture he saw in his head was not the same that entered hers. He glimpsed gore, contorted faces and mouths agape with plea. Perhaps she saw him in a high-speed pursuit, wielding a magnum through an open window to administer a Dirty Harry style of justice. "Does that not creep you out?"
She shook her head. "Bad guys get what they deserve right?"
He nodded. "Guess so."
Every now and then she interjected with a "Turn left here" or a "Turn right there."
He knew they could be only minutes from her place. He wished he could spend more time with her, just the two off them, peeling back the layers of her flesh to see just how deep her fascination with killing was, to see just how her interest with death changed when faced with her own. He pulled the car to a stop in a lay-by and then killed the engine and the lights. A copper or a do-gooder was more likely to stop if a parked car still had its engine running, its lights making it as prominent mark on the landscape as the first zit on the fresh-faced teenager.
"What are you doing?"
He ignored the question as he removed the scissors from the waistband of his jeans. He held them against the steering wheel.
"Scissors. You wanted to know if I killed. I thought you'd be interested to know what I killed with." For a moment she was silent with terror and he was silent with the pleasure of that fact. To a sagacious bug sitting on the windscreen they could have passed as a couple on the verge of a break up.
Eventually she spoke, a guttural whisper. "Cops don't carry ...scissors."
"No fucking kidding. And what does that tell you?"
"You're not the police."
He heard her voice tremble, saw the tears glisten her eyes as though there was only one thing he could be if not a policeman. He brought the scissors to her left eye and held them under its lid. "But you knew that didn't you? Your gut told you but you ignored it. You ignored it to escape the shit of the daily grind if only for ten minutes, to find excitement in the uncertainty of this stranger... in Me."
"Please. I don't want to...die."
"You know, I think that everyone would like their last words to be profound. Most people don't get the chance. They get hit by a bus or shot in the head. Wham. It's all over before they get a whiff of their own shit when they lose it. But you." He pushed, the tip of the blade a little harder. He felt her eye twitch through the metal as though the weapon had melded to his hand and was now capable of transmitting sensation from steel to flesh. "You've chosen your last words to be a pitiful fucking plea." He lowered his hand and stared at the wheel. He knew she wouldn't lash out, or try to escape. She wouldn't do anything except sit and wait for him to decide her fate. The fire in her eyes was already extinguished. "I hear a few please don't kill me, even a fuck you every now and then, perhaps believing that I thrive on the pitiful and the weak and that defiance and balls will save them. But it all ends the same way." He rammed the knife into her eye. Her brain was dead; her body was lagging to follow suit; it spasmed in a futile attempt to retain life. Then she was still and quiet. He stayed with her for about half an hour, enjoying the release he found in her death.
Within the last five minutes of driving on the motorway, he had passed only a camper van whose bright eyes had dwindled before disappearing. All that was in Malachi's rear-view now was blackness that was somehow made even darker by the contrasting light before him. He glanced to the now empty passenger seat. He wished he could have kept the woman with him a while longer; he could have done with the company. It was safer for him that she was in the boot. He'd shoved her handbag in there with her, resisting the temptation to rummage through it, to learn more about her before it was time to do so. Sometimes he listened to the radio, and sometimes he didn't. Tonight, he drove in silence. As usual, he slipped into his game of guess who. Sometimes they told him their names, either willingly or under duress, perhaps in attempt to establish a connection to the human in him, his conscience that would acknowledge them as people, real people. He allowed them their efforts, even encouraged them, thanking them for reminding him that he was ending the life of a person. Sally had given her name freely. Her life too, he thought. No struggle and with little objection. He knew the area she lived in: a council estate that had fallen on the council's list of concerns. He guessed she was a stuck in a middle-class rutt, under educated, overworked and under paid. The passenger-side seat had been shoved back, exposing more of the foot-well. He guessed someone had sat there recently: a boyfriend perhaps – and tall. Would anyone give a toss that she was no longer in the world? Did she have a husband who would mourn her, or a fuck buddy who would simply shrug his shoulders in minor disappointment for what he wanted was between her legs and not in her heart? Pussy was pussy and could be found anywhere. He had played the game with the others. Sometimes he had been right on the money; other times he had misread them completely.
He finally arrived at the barn. He liked to believe that it was surrounded by fallow fields and vast woodland because this was a place of death and so made sense for his special place to be as far from the living as it could be. He pulled the car into its usual spot between the barn and the derelict cottage. He cut the engine and stepped out. He stood in the darkness, breathing the air tinged with cow crap and god knew what else. He would have preferred to take in the smell of their decay. He supposed that was one of the down-sides to burying them. Month by month, the house and its barn slid further into dereliction and he felt that their decay somehow reflected that of his collection.
This place was quite a find. He had passed it many times, using the small country roads as short cuts to make up for lost time on late deliveries. It was only after killing his Tommy no stars that he felt the pull of this place. His third victim was the first to be buried here. It was a shame that the first two had missed out on becoming part of something great. He remembered the body of his victim immediately before Sally. He had missed out too. Malachi had taken the man's eye out with his scissors in a car park behind a gym. His screams had attracted the attention of security. Malachi had no choice but to leave the body. Sometimes he returned to the barn in his own vehicle, pulling over on his way through to find the tranquillity and contentment that was lacking in the world outside of this place.
He popped the boot and lifted the body from it. He dragged her into the barn, taking her handbag with her, before fumbling for the torch just inside the door. To a casual eye, the place looked empty. Only he knew that its occupancy was below ground level. He grabbed the spade in the far corner and started digging. He knew where each man and woman were buried and before he had killed Sally he had picked out a nice little spot for her near one of the boarded windows. The earth came away in clumps, creating a hole just large enough to take her. Before filling her in, he sat for a time by her side, the torch's glow in the surrounding darkness rendering her angelic. He grabbed her bag, spilling its contents around her as she were a pharaoh taking her belongings with her to the afterlife. Lipstick, a mirror, cigarettes, loose change and a purse. This was her legacy. He looked in her purse, finding only a driver's licence that she had probably wished she would have needed for proof of age to access the club. Sally Cummings was her name. She was thirty four. He didn't know what he expected but it was a disappointing revelation. He decided he would make up a more interesting story for her later, one that left parents and brothers and sisters suffering long after Sally's own had ended.
During the weeks that followed, he reluctantly returned to a normal life, to his world as it was before he killed. But lately and increasingly, this life was as normal and as natural to him as a fox trying to cluck like the chickens whose coup it was forced to share.
Lightning Couriers had secured a new contract to deliver pharmaceuticals in the London area. He had been taken off his usual route and shoved onto this new one. He hated his boss for that, could have fucking killed him for it. In the last three weeks he had visited his haven only once. The frustration of that alone was nearly enough to drive him to kill again. He resisted the temptation; it was too soon. He did what normal people did to eliminate their stresses: a few nights a week he downed pints in his local. It was one Friday as he sat alone in the booth surrounded by football fans ranting over some game being played on the big screen that it occurred to him that he was being followed. The man he had seen wore a grey cap and a tweed jacket. He had popped up too many times for his presence to be more than coincidence and unless there was a "grey cap, tweed jacket" convention in the area that he didn't know about then he had to be the same man. The man had kept his distance, dashed from view, skulked in the shadows. Malachi could never quite see his face.
His first thought that this man was a copper was quickly discarded to his mental slush pile by the realisation that the man didn't move like a copper at all. Malachi's youth had been dotted with bouts of run-ins with the law. He knew their manner of arrogance and their ambiance of invincibility that their authoritative positions imparted. The man he saw moved with uncertainty and a degree of fear as though there was neither weight nor authority to his intention. If the police were onto him then they would not be watching him from the shadows. His first awareness of them would have been while he was kissing dirt and having his hands cuffed behind his back. He took a sip of his beer, wishing the people around him would shut the fuck up; how was he supposed to think? Perhaps the guy was a P.I, hired by a relative of one of his victims. He gently shook his head. Why pay for a private investigator to do what the cops would do for free. Perhaps he was a potential blackmailer. But what kind of man had the balls to blackmail a killer. That left two possibilities as far as he could tell: first, the guy was a fan. Perhaps he had fantasised about killing but realised that the closest he would get to commit the act of murder was to be in the presence of someone who had. He did not need or want a pussy cheerleader who was probably already singing his praises on some whacked-out online blog. Second, the man was a killer himself, a novice who was looking for tuition from someone with a little more experience.
He walked home from the pub and it was only as he closed the door that he thought of a third possibility: the man may have been a relative of one of his victims and was out for revenge. Whoever he was, Malachi could not allow a man who knew what he was to roam free.
The next morning, he visited his mother and asked if anyone had come looking for him. She laughed. "Only the devil," she said. He supposed he was expecting too much to get anything other than ambiguity and conundrums from her. He checked the register. Nothing. He quizzed the receptionist. Nothing. He returned to his mother's room and asked her again, hoping that her capriciousness would present a different answer. It did. This time it was his history that was in search of him. More fucking riddles.
Darkness had filled the sky by the time he returned home. He considered checking with his work. Perhaps the man had questioned his colleagues. He hung up the phone before his boss had time to answer then looked at the clock. 11:30pm. He supposed it was a little late to be calling people, especially a person who even in the social hours of the working day opened his mouth only to eat, belch or yawn.
He rustled up a bacon sandwich, turned on the T.V then sat on the sofa. Unable to find the remote and not being bothered to move, he settled for what was being broadcast. But after only twenty minutes of a fat woman attempting to educate him on the feeding habits of the sperm whale he decided that he had enough. He turned off the T.V and then the light. He collapsed on the bed and managed only a few hours of sleep before being awakened by a dream in which his mother's madness was caused by the spirits of all those he had killed possessing her body. He closed his eyes but behind the semblance of relaxation was a frantic anxiety. He had to admit that this man had him spooked. He left the bed in his boxers and strolled into the kitchen. He opened the fridge and grabbed some milk, taking it into the living room. In the darkness, nothing existed and if he stood still for long enough then his body would lose itself to that nothingness, leaving only unadulterated murderous desire that would be free to do what it needed to do. He'd be fucked if anyone could follow that. After a time, he fidgeted with the stuffiness of the room. He walked to the window and was just about to open it when movement below caught his attention. There was enough light at ground level two floors down to reveal the source of the distraction.
Mr. Grey Cap was standing with his back to him, examining the doors of Malachi's van, perhaps in the hope or fear of finding evidence of murder. Malachi had wondered how he was going to find this follower and his mind had already stirred with the rudiments of a plan to trap him. Now, there was no need. It made sense that if Grey Cap was following him then Malachi need do nothing but wait for the guy to get a little closer, exposing himself with increasing carelessness because he believed that he longer he remained unseen the more invisible he somehow became. Perhaps the guy assumed Malachi would be sleeping and so took the opportunity to check his van. Perhaps he knew that Malachi did his killing and disposing at night and was hoping to catch him at it either to condemn him or applaud him.
Malachi ran to his bedroom and threw on his clothes and trainers. He grabbed his van keys and then the scissors from under the floor of the airing cupboard. The block of flats had no lift and even if it had he would be quicker running down the stairs. He was out in the open and heading toward the man, scissors in hand. The man turned. Malachi glimpsed metal in the guy's right hand. A knife. There would be no talking, no questioning. Kill or be killed. The scissors seemed to react before Malachi himself did. His hand did not so much swing the scissors forward as they did drag his hand up and across. Even as Malachi told himself to keep the man alive he was staring at the handles protruding from the man's eye socket. Blood splattered the man's face. He didn't scream. He was dead before his body hit the tarmac.
Laughter. It came again, deep and roaring and delirious. At first he thought it came from him, that something in him had finally snapped and now he was destined to kill in a rampage of utter insanity, the swinging of his scissors forever accompanied by maniacal hysterics. The laughter came from several men and women leaving the main entrance to the block of flats opposite his. They were too wrapped up in their own delights to notice him but they were heading his way. He had maybe ten seconds before they would see him. He opened the back doors to the van and managed to haul the man into the back, all the while keeping his eyes on the approaching group. He slammed the doors before jumping in the driver side. He sat there for only second or so before realising that he needed to move the car. There was blood on the doors, wasn't there? There had to be, and the party-goers or whoever the hell they were would see it. He started the engine, slammed it into gear and pulled away... and trying to keep the needle from pushing past ten miles an hour as he left the car park suddenly felt like the hardest thing in the world to do.
Malachi wiped his brow with his sleeve. It came away stained with the man's blood. He replayed the last few minutes in his head. The man had not been holding a knife but a thin strip of metal, a tool to break into his van. "Fuck." He slammed the steering wheel. He hadn't wanted to kill him...so soon. He hadn't wanted to kill anyone so soon after Sally. He turned off at the next junction and joined the motorway. He examined the rear-view mirror. No cops. Nothing there except his blood-streaked face staring back at him. He knew where he was heading; he had made the decision even as he approached the man in the car park. He had always intended to take him to the barn, but alive so that Malachi could go to work on him in the privacy of his haven, to learn as much about him as possible before killing him. He could learn about him now. He found the car drifting to the hard shoulder then woke up to the stupidity of his intention. He pulled back into the slow lane. Now was not the time to check the guy's face and wallet. Play the game. His mind slipped into its usual practice of recreation prompted by the set-up of a body in the boot and blood on his hands. But he'd already played Guess Who in the pub and now he thought he had less of an idea of who he was than ever. He tried to persuade himself that the stupid fucker probably had no idea about the killings at all. Perhaps he was from the Inland Revenue following him on the false assumption that he had evaded taxes. A tax man, he thought. He didn't have one of those in his collection.
To the barn, bury the man, back to life. It sounded simple enough. That's what worried him. The fact that he thought that it sounded simple enough when he had never done so before suggested doubt and an attempted boosting of confidence that he was now lacking. When he drove to the barn, he was like a child on his way to Disney Land. But that dull ache of anticipation that tingled his extremities had now been replaced by fear. The stranger had changed the nature of his trip; it was one of necessity rather than desire. Even though he intended to take the man to the barn anyway, somehow the killing in its precipitation and sloppiness of execution had made the man's death the dictator of Malachi's actions. Killing him before he had learned about him was a mistake. But he had made mistakes before, plenty of them. Sometimes he had paid the consequences and sometimes he had escaped them. He had always chosen his victims, sometimes almost randomly and quickly and sometimes with calculated deliberation. But this man had presented himself to him and in his pursuing of Malachi had chosen himself as a victim. He felt that driving him to the barn now – like a bloody chauffeur escorting a v.i.p – was yet another mistake. If the man was a cop and his colleagues found his body then they would find all the bodies. He'd lose everything. But he kept driving, because the barn was the only place on earth where nothing that happened in the real world mattered. This was the place where life and death coexisted, where one complemented and strengthened the other. His passion for death had breathed life back into the place. So what if that passion was borne of anger and hatred rather than love and peace. It was still a raw, truthful energy without all the conceit of civility and enforced sensibilities. It still gave these ramshackle places fresh purpose. He became more relaxed the closer he came to his special place.
By the time he pulled into his usual space between the barn and the cottage his heart was signing and his face beaming. But there was no time to rejoice, not until Mr. Grey Cap was six feet under ...or perhaps three feet. He hopped from the van and walked around the back. He was about to open the doors when he noticed a block of light hovering in the blackness to his right. A light in one of the downstairs rooms of the cottage was on. He shook his head. There was no electricity here. He'd checked the place most recently six or so months ago. It was just a rotting shell. The light was motionless. He decided that it came not from a torch but some sort of lantern, probably belonging to a homeless guy or a traveller ...someone who would likely not be missed. He pulled the scissors from his coat pocket. He supposed it was on the cards that someday a tramp would take advantage of the shelter and solitude the place offered. Malachi had entered the cottage only three or four times and always only to verify its emptiness as it stood so close to the barn. If the barn was a female lover then the cottage was her child that he did not particularly care for, and tolerated only because it was part of the package. Now, he approached the place with the same sense of intrusion he would have felt if someone had broken into his flat. He crept through the black hole of the door, turning on the small torch he always brought with him. Either side of him was a window; jagged, broken glass sat in its frame like the broken teeth of a monster's mouth, locked wide open.
"Jesus. Who the fuck are you?" Malachi jumped back from the face surrounded by the glow of his beam. "What are you doing here?"
The man brought his hand to his face, dark eyes peering through splayed fingers. "You mind getting that light out of my eyes?"
He kept the beam on his face for a moment. Malachi reckoned he was perhaps in his early sixties and slim. He slipped the scissors into the waist band of his trousers, ensuring that the weapon was easily accessible when he needed it. "You mind telling me what the hell you're doing here?"
"You own this place?"
"No." Malachi lowered the torch, but kept the man within the beam as though it had the power to confine his movements to it.
"You security or something?"
"Then I could be asking you what the hell you're doing here."
"Is that what you're doing ....asking me?" Malachi edged closer and he couldn't help thinking it was akin to the confrontation of equal opponents about to do battle. "My car broke down. I saw the light." He thought that sounded prophetic.
The man shook his head. "Not from the road. I made sure that no-one could see it from the road."
"I pulled the car in." Kill him. He ignored that command. There was something about the man that made him intriguing. Besides, he wasn't going to make the same mistake twice in killing this guy before he had the answers to his questions.
"Obviously before it broke down. Did you know it would break down? Are you physic? You didn't come here looking for help then? Considering you seem almost offended to find anyone here...let alone expected it."
Malachi wanted to hear the man's fear. He tried to find it in his tone but he heard only confidence. "What are you doing here?"
"What, in the hallway? Grabbing myself a snack. Bacon sandwich. My favourite."
Malachi lowered the torch, bringing a plated sandwich into view. "You cooked the bacon?"
"That's generally the way it works."
"Seriously? Have you never cooked before?" The man pushed past him, entering the living room.
Malachi stepped into what used to be the kitchen to find that it was still one. Throwing the light around the room revealed clean tiles that had been thick with grime the last time he had seen them. In the corner stood a cooker. A fucking cooker? He followed the man into the living room. He could have sworn that armchair was torn and tattered when he had seen it seconds ago. A ticking caught his attention. He glanced to the right. The beam had become his eyes. Nothing seemed to exist outside of it. The small face of a clock was only partially covered with dust, not enough for the years it had been hanging there. Ticking, he thought, did the guy bring his own batteries. "Where did all this stuff come from? How long have you been here?"
The man smiled. "You know, you seem real interested in me for someone who just happened to break down here." He was silent for a moment before adding, "Maybe it's the place you're interested in? This stuff?" He swept his hands around the room. "It's always been here – just cleaned it up a little."
Malachi kept his distance. The man spoke with the familiarity of acquaintances. He had met people like this before, strangers instantly addressing him with a cavalier tone that only friends through time had earned the right to do. "You still haven't said what you're doing here? You homeless or something?"
"I'm passing through." The man took a bite of his sandwich.
"To where? When?" He wondered if that even mattered. He was allowing him to live for now but there was no way he could allow him to leave this place alive.
"The pearly gates. Wanted to see the place one last time." He coughed, a morsel of food finding its way back onto the plate. “I'm not long for this world."
"Something like that."
Driving here, Malachi's stomach had ached with apprehension. Now it had graduated to fear. He wanted to tear into him for that, for making him feel what he was supposed to make others feel here in his world. But something the man said stopped him. "What did you mean one last time? You've been here before. When?"
"Not for quite some time...decades in fact." He stood, wiped a layer of dust away from the blackened mantle with his little finger. "This used to be my home. But after the fire..."
"Fire. There was a fire – here?" The living room, the kitchen, the hallway - he had never explored beyond these rooms. The stairs looked strong enough to hold only the weight of the rats that had taken up residence there. There had been no sign of a fire. The man's words evoked memories of his mother telling him about his past, about the fire that had devastated his home.
"You wouldn't think the place had burned would you? The insurance paid out. We refurbished the place ...but only to sell it. Whoever bought it didn't last long here." The man ran his hand along the dirty, broken wall. "It was left to rot." He turned to face Malachi. "We couldn't stay here after what happened."
"What do you mean we?" He wanted the man to look at him, to stare at him, to be so shit scared of him that the guy would not dare to take his eyes of him for a second. But he had managed to refrain from looking at him for the time it took him to eat his sandwich. And what does that tell you? He thought.
"We," he said. "The family ...what was left of it."
"Fire?" This house burned. His house had burned. His brain struggled to find a connection. He shook his head. In truth, his brain struggled not to find one.
"You don't know do you? You don't remember?"
Malachi hadn't seen the man move but somehow he could smell his breath, their noses almost touching. "What the hell is that supposed to mean?"
"And to this day your mother never told you the truth?"
"You don't know me." He thrived on that mental echo of his words, needing the reassurance they offered. "You don't know my mother." Another echo. "What are you trying do, huh?"
"Know you. Know you." He raised his voiced. "I used to love you. I've seen what you've done to your mother. God knows she tried to forgive you."
Malachi stepped back. "Who the fuck are you?" This was his place, his domain but he was the one who retreated. No, it wasn't even a retreat for that implied a tactical offensive postponement. It was a backing away that reminded him of his victims' reaction to fear.
"Oh, the scissors."
Malachi hadn't realised he had removed his scissors until the man mentioned them and that's all it was, a mention, like the casual observation of a man who had seen them so many times that there appearance again was becoming tiresome.
"I read about the body builder," he said, "that guy who worked in the burger place. The way they'd been killed. How they had been murdered. I thought of you. Could you have done these things? Now I know. And it wasn't just these two was it?"
Malachi looked to his left, to the wall, to the plaster where the fractures seemed fewer than they had been upon entering the place. Beyond this place, just feet away was the barn. He reminded himself of that, of the power of his sanctuary. He belonged to it and it to him and the strength of that marriage found him now. He lifted his hand and shoved the scissors towards him. "You're going to tell me who you are, one way or another."
It was the man's turn to back off, with raised hands and a glint of amusement in his eyes that contradicted his movement. "Okay, no bullshit. I'm your Dad."
"So much for cutting the bullshit."
"Your name is Malachi Hansel. You're thirty-one years old. You mother is..."
"Shut up. My father died when I was five."
"Car crash. You know that for a fact? Because the fact as I understand it, Malachi is that you were only told that there was a crash. You weren't there. You didn't see it."
He wanted to tell the man that he was full of shit and he searched his memory for something to arm himself with that profanity. But he found only a memory shaped by his mother's words. The man was right. He hadn't seen the crash and even if he had, would a five-year-old brain been capable of carrying that memory to adolescence and to adulthood when the shock of that tragedy was working to suppress it.
"Except there wasn't any car crash," the man said. "There wasn't any death. Your father didn't die in a bloody car crash. He's here right here." The man jabbed his own chest. "What, you think I just happened to be here with you, this stranger who just happens to know all about you. All about you Malachi?"
"You followed me?"
"Does it matter how I came here?"
"This is some sort of con right?" He didn't believe the man's story. But his eyes remembered and that physical recollection... "You're here to blackmail me is that it?"
"I lost what I wanted from you a long time ago."
"She wouldn't lie to me." But he had thought it strange that his mother had cremated his father when just a year before, her son had burned to death. It suddenly occurred to him why she had chosen cremation as the method to dispose of her husband's body and to have his ashes scattered; there would be no grave to visit. "Why the hell would she have done that? If it were true then why the hell did you leave? Why would you turn up now uh?"
"Because how could I stay after what happened?"
"What happened?" In his mind's eye he saw burning and death.
"After the lies, the betrayal."
"What betrayal? What lies?" Malachi had accepted what his mother had told him before she was institutionalised and had rejected pretty much everything she had told him after that point. It had never occurred to him that her words voiced in the grips of madness held any truth. There had been times when she had sought his forgiveness. He had never known what for.
"I turned up now because it's time for this to come to an end."
"How did you know? Let's just say for one second, one fucking second, that you are who you say you are. You read the papers. The bodybuilder, the guy from the burger joint. How the fuck would you know that I..." He paused, the words that he was a killer sticking in his throat. Normally he would have no trouble revealing his intentions to victims who could only half guess what he was and begged that they were wrong. So why should he care about confessing his intention to a man who already knew? He guessed for the same reason that he hadn't told his mother despite having his suspicions that she knew too. As much as his mother pissed him off on occasion he could never harm her any more than he could his ... "Father."
The man smiled. "I know you're the one because you killed them in a very specific way, a way that I recognised."
"Recognised. What does that mean?" He sensed rather than heard someone behind him. He swung around. A boy appeared in the beam of his torch. He turned back. The man – his father – was gone. He turned to face the boy who was now walking slowly up the stairs. "Wait." Instinct told him to leave but curiosity forced him to stay. He followed the boy. Each step not only held his weight but seemed to beckon him to the next. Each tread felt different under his feet, plush and firm. He lowered the torch to find that the carpet that had been sodden and rotten was now plush, clean and new. Upon reaching the landing, his knowledge that he had never been here before was challenged by the sensation of recognition. His mother had never mentioned his childhood home and he had never seen a need to question her about it. The boy paused at a door that looked fresh and clean. "Wait. What are you doing here? Who are you?" He felt his questions searching for answers within him. The answers came. He recognised the boy's eyes and it was almost like looking into a mirror. "You're me," he whispered. The boy entered the bedroom and closed the door behind him. Malachi walked to it, almost skulked. He opened it and walked in. The past swept into the present, bringing with it all that existed in a moment that was about to be disclosed without restraint. Day replaced night, filling the room, rendering the torch redundant. Floral paper swept the walls, instantly decorating the place, removing mold and grime. A cot stood against the far wall. Inside, a baby cried. He saw his younger self walk to the cot. Something was in the boy's hand, his hand. Scissors. Malachi understood the boy's intention because it had been his own. Now he tried to overrule the boy's confusion and murderousness. "No." He stepped forward. "Don't please...don't." The boy reached over the cot. Malachi lunged, managing only to fill the space from which the boy had now disappeared. He looked into the cot. He saw one victim after another, their eyes punctured, blood and gore. Now he saw his very first victim: little Jacob. His pattern of murder started here. He turned and retched, shaking his head. It was a lie, a fucking lie. He turned and ran.
He dug his heels into the stairs, stopping dead, glaring at the man before him - his father. The glow from the living room was reduced to a murky grey as it explored the landing and stairs. Yet, he could see the man clearly staring into him. "Why are you doing this?"
"I'm not; you are."
Malachi felt for the scissors and found nothing but the softness of the carpet beneath his fingers. He looked over his shoulder. He knew where they were but there was no going back for them. The man stood at the foot of the stairs, unintentionally blocking his path. Push past him. His body refused to act as instructed. "I'm sorry... I didn't know. Why? Whhhy? What have you done to me?"
"Everyone has a conscience, Malachi. Even one that has been forsaken will eventually emerge to the demand of acknowledgement and yours is no different. For so long you've tried to ignore it, to smother it with the blackness of your heart but in its slumber it has gained strength and now it has awakened. It's hungry for humanity, Malachi, to feast and grow on the morality that you have pretended no longer exists in you." He took a step back. "What have I done? It's all you. You're remembering what you've done." The man tapped his temple with the forefinger of his right hand. "It's all up here somewhere just waiting for that release."
"I don't understand." Malachi hoped that in that scream of a plea and declared ignorance he would find absolution. He ran from house into the open, into the morning of a fresh day. He believed he had spent the night in this place. Perhaps even longer than that – two nights, three nights, four, five again and again until they merged into one horror-filled night. He had somehow escaped his destiny to be damned to this place for eternity, never ageing, spared death but not the suffering that would make him wish he were dead. But now, he realised the transition had not been just from night to day but from present to past. His car was gone. The area of land between cottage and barn was clear of scrap metal and wood. The barn was fresh and clean and intact. The oaks and elms and ivory kept their distance, yet to lay claim to the land it occupied. He sat up in the dirt, listening to the sobbing of another. His eyes followed the sound to the open barn, to his mother who was upon her knees clawing at the dirt. Moments later, she staggered into the open, cradling a package. "Jacob." He whispered the name before shouting. "Mother." He staggered to his feet. "I didn't mean it." She ignored him and he knew it was because she could not see him. She had buried the body in the barn to cover up the killing but there was enough rationale left in the wreckage of her mind to know that she needed a plan to conceal his death and not a mound of earth. He stopped at the front door, the new front door and to the left of it through the now unbroken window he saw his five-year-old self staring into the open. The boy's face was white but without expression. He had killed Jacob. "I killed him," he muttered.
Shock had buried his conscience and memory of what he had done, because to acknowledge either would have destroyed him. Over the decades that hatred for himself had emerged to became hatred for another, to abuse and assault and then finally to kill. Every killing tugged at that repressed memory, prodded his conscience like a game keeper prodding the chest of a sleeping beast. It had finally awakened, stomping from that earliest point of forgotten contrition through time, consuming every instance of suppressed guilt from the misdemeanour of a lie to the unforgivable crime of murder. It had arrived, spewing it all upon him now. He fell to his knees and screamed.
He looked up. Flames lapped at the opening of the bedroom window. His mother was there, grabbing his younger self, dragging him from the burning cottage. His head dropped into his open hands as though it would have rolled from his neck if they had not been there to hold it. He closed his eyes, begging for none of this to be real. When he opened them again. He saw his father kneeling before him. Nothing else seemed to exist around him. "Why now?"
His father reached for Malachi's cheek but then paused. "Ever heard that expression ...you know, the one about the straw that broke the camel's back. I guess I would be that straw. The mind...your back, Malachi, you can take only so much."
"I don't understand. We can work this out...can't we? We can be a family. Like you said...this has to end right. I can stop. I didn't know you were alive ...believe me. I thought I had lost everything. But with you..." He stopped gibbering.
His father reached for something from inside his coat. A cap. He placed it upon his head and stood.
Not just a cap, Malachi thought. A grey cap.
"It's too late for that now, son. Straws and camels. Some things can't be undone you know."
"Pleeease." Something exploded in the cottage. His head snapped in the direction of the tumult and then back again to his father. He was no longer there. The present and everything that went along with it had reasserted itself. The cottage was again derelict and decaying. He grinned. The car was back. He rushed to it, throwing himself in the driver side. He shoved his hands down his pockets for the car key before realising that it was in the ignition. The car didn't start; it only spluttered then failed, offering hope of escape before tearing it from him. He should have known that it would take a lot more than a hunk of metal on four walls to escape the retribution of his conscience. Grey cap. He jumped from the car and then walked around the back. He opened the doors. The old guy had his back to him, as though even in death he could somehow defy him. Malachi grabbed him, turning him over. It was him...the man in the cottage. Father. He shook his head. "No, just a man, just some guy pretending..." Play the game, he told himself. "Shut up. Shut the fuck up." He searched the man's pockets. His fingers touched something smooth and rectangular. He pulled out a wallet and opened it. The man stared back at him from the photo of his driver's licence. He looked at the name. Roger Hansel. He looked at the name again, his father's name. He turned, hurling the bacon sandwich he'd eating earlier. "The last straw." He almost giggled the words because in a crazy fucked-up world where a man had killed his family without even knowing it what the hell was there to do.
He nodded and rushed toward the place. But leaving his father's body behind him did not distance his thoughts from him. Malachi had been right. He had been followed, but not by a fan or by a copper or even another killer but by his father. He grabbed a second torch by the door and turned it on. "Always keep a spare." He giggled again and then headed for the spade. Just another victim, just another hole. "What else can I do?" He screamed at his thoughts before realising that those words had not come from him. He shone the torch in front of him. A man's face appeared in the light. It was expressionless and that was perhaps due to their being no lips upon his mouth to convey expression. Decay had robbed the man of his flesh. Malachi screamed, sweeping the torch to his right. Another face. Female. Blond hair was matted with blood and dirt. Eyeless sockets stared into him. He screamed again. Another sweep of the torch revealed another face, rotten and dead. Dead, dead and fucking dead. But somehow they were here, his victims walking and staring. Another scream, another sweep of the beam, another face...and another, and another.
Malachi fell to his knees, a part of him understanding that to run was futile because wherever he went he would always take himself with him. He shone the torch into the face of another woman. "Sally." He recognised what features the worms and beetles had spared. He looked at her hand. Scissors. "Those are mine." He thought he sounded stupid for making the statement. It didn't matter anymore, none of it did.
The woman responded anyway. "And you can have them." She handed the scissors to him as delicately as a lover handing the gift of an engagement ring. "I suppose the bad guys get what they deserve in the end."
Malachi smiled, gripped the scissors and then went to work on his final victim.
By C.G. Durrant
Copyright © 2016 Colin Durrant
No reproduction without permission.
All rights reserved