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Priscilla - Part 2 by Simon Gamblin

© Simon Gamblin

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*Author's note.

Hello. Obviously it’s quite an ask to expect someone to review of a piece of work that began six thousand words ago. If you do like what you see then it might make sense to read part one first.

However, I understand time is precious, so here is a brief synopsis. Good luck to you all.

'Priscilla has been plagued by visions since birth. When she looks at somebody she believes she can see what they are thinking – what drives them – the darkness within them - their passion. Her visions manifest themselves in many ways.

When she was three years old, in a state of confusion, she killed her baby brother, Thomas, whom she loved. She was shunned and reviled for the rest of her upbringing.

She lives in a world of fear, isolation and paranoia as she struggles to determine what is real, and what exists only in her mind.

Incarcerated in a mental institution from the age of 13 to 16, upon her release she finds herself alone in the family mansion – a gothic building, and magical place to her. Left to her own devices, she only ever visits ‘Harry’s’ - the local shop, or the river at the bottom of the graveyard.

Her home town, Shellcotte, is at the mercy of an unknown killer, slaughtering families night after night.

Priscilla has a man held captive in her cellar. Following a blow to his head the man has lost his memory and to Priscilla appears as a glowing child - a blank canvas, pure and untainted by the world.'

__________________________________________________________________


Priscilla

Part Two

What happened to Christian Gibb.


“A beast does not know that he is a beast, and the nearer a man gets to being a beast, the less he knows it.”

George MacDonald


I have met few, truly, ‘good people’. Mostly people that are good at being good. Often they are the darkest of all.

When I was twelve years and three months old I was forced into a police car whilst walking down the street on a Saturday afternoon. As I lay in the back of the police car, handcuffed, frightened and shivering beneath a blanket, I asked the policeman what I had done wrong.

He said, “You were walking down the street naked.”

I replied, “But it’s because you want to see my naked body that you make me hide it away. You persecute me because of the evil inside you.”

The policeman didn’t say anything else as he drove me to the station. The rest of the way there I focused on the second hand creeping round the watch on his wrist, as he gently stroked his fingers up and down the inside of my thigh.

I wish my wolf were there - he would have bitten his filthy hand off.

__________________________________________________________________________________


It was dusk when I felt his presence.

The Great Ouse flows towards the sea, relentless and oblivious to its role of division. On one side, worn stone - monuments and fading memories beneath a canopy of ancient trees.

On the other, open green pastures - a playground for the spring lambs.

Where I sit, on the river bank, beneath the twisted Yews, death is everywhere.

I am never afraid when surrounded by the dead. Dead people cannot hurt you. They are my friends. They whisper to me through the hissing reeds.

Lost life does not have an echo, but a tone. A gentle hum that en-masse becomes a chorus.

From the sanctuary of the river, I watched the wolf for a long time. He lay beyond the reeds, in the long grass beside the riverbank. He gazed at me, his red eyes - his thick white fur.

I watched him for a long time as the sky above changed from blue to grey to black.

“I know you are there.” I said to the wolf. “Why do you hide? Why are you afraid of me?”

The bulrushes swayed in the gentle breeze. I was distracted as minnows teased at my fingertips - they tickled my ankles and sucked at the crevasses between my toes. When I raised my head the wolf had gone.

“Why are you afraid of me?”

“Because you are perfect,” replied the wolf. I could feel his warm breath on the back of my neck.

And as my legs gave way and I slipped beneath the water I did not hold my breath. And as I soon became entangled in the searching reeds and my billowing dress, I did not fear the darkness or the pain.

All I could think as his strong hands dragged me from the grip of this beautiful death was –

This is what it is to be in love.

___________________________________________________________________________________


As I rub my face on the cool painted wood of the cellar door I think of my mother for a moment - her auburn hair, her poise, the subtle grace with which she walks. Grief and shame manifest themselves in many ways. They can eat you alive, they can drag you through the cracks in the ground or they can carry you, and lift you high above the maddening crowd.

Sometimes I wish I had an army of seagulls inside my belly.

I look down at the kitchen knife that dangles from my bone skinny wrist and then close my eyes as I listen to the cracked and sorry whimpering from beyond the cellar door.

“Help me, please help me. I know someone is there... Please.”

“I love you so much… I love you so, so much and I am so afraid,” I whisper as I turn the key in its lock.

And then I shudder and my eyes roll into my head as a blinding shriek fills the entrance hall. Amidst the cacophony I fall to my knees. I drop the knife as I squeeze my palms tight against my ears. I can hear myself scream –

“It’s the telephone!”

“It’s the telephone!”

“It’s the telephone!”

And as I snatch the knife from the marble floor and slice its blade across the soft flesh of my forearm, pain is like an icy waterfall. I close my eyes amid the deafening, crashing silence.

I drag myself from the floor before I walk to the kitchen and lift the telephone from the wall -

“Hello.” I offer.

_______________________________________________________________________________


“Priscilla, it’s Mark.”

Mark slides the villa door open before he steps onto the porch. He catches his breath for a moment as his lungs adjust to the contrast in climate. He glances at his wife - Rachel, she lies upon the bed. He closes the door behind him and holds the phone to his ear.

“Priscilla?”

Priscilla does not respond. The digital echo of her breathing gives him comfort at least. He thinks of her eyes and lips as her words traverse his memory –

‘Why are we compelled to immerse ourselves in inane chatter when we cannot see each other’s eyes? We cannot touch each other’s skin… If you want to call me and tell me something then do so - I may choose to listen - I may even choose to respond, but it shouldn’t be a given. You have after all, violated my peace and quiet…’

“Priscilla, you can’t do this today … You have to talk to me… I’m away, on holiday. I’ve just heard about everything that’s been happening in Shellcotte. I need you to tell me you are safe.”

He looks through the glass at his wife. Eyes closed upon the bed - so peaceful, so serene, her perfect features.

What lies beneath a person’s skin?

He turns away and looks to the shimmering, moonlit sea, before he whispers into the telephone -

“It is easy to imagine, all in the ocean is at peace, whilst gazing at the moonlight dappled on its gentle ripples.”

“Mark, I need to see you.”

“Priscilla...”

“Mark, I need to see you.”

“Tell me what’s wrong?”

“Everything.”

“Who is with you? Who is looking after you?”

“No-one is with me. No one is looking after me. I need you to save me.”

“Why?”

“I’m standing in my kitchen and I’m covered in blood.”

“What?”

“I’m standing in my kitchen and I’m covered in blood… Please come and save me, please come and save me, please come and save me... I’m so afraid to go in the cellar. I'm standing in my kitchen and I have a knife in my hand and I don’t know what to do and I am covered in blood…I've done a terrible, terrible thing, Mark. I’m responsible for a terrible thing. You must not call the police… If I see them or hear them I will kill myself. I will end it all. Do you understand me?”

“Yes.”

“Do you understand me?”

“Yes I understand. Whose blood is it, Priscilla? What is in the cellar?”

“I need to see you. I am not badly hurt. I need to see you. Please hurry. Do not call anyone else.”

“Oh, Priscilla...”

“Promise you will come and save me.”

“I’ll save you.”

“Promise you will come and save me.”

“I promise I will come and save you.”

“Thank you, Mark. Thank you so much.”

“Pris…”

_______________________________________________________________________________


“Society wants to believe it can identify evil people, or bad or harmful people, but it's not practical. There are no stereotypes.”

Ted Bundy


I met Mark during my period of incarceration, after the awful thing I did to Christian Gibb. Mark was one of many psychologists who showed an interest in me.

He was one of the few I was interested in.

On the inside things were quite easy for me. I had routine. And, when I was encouraged, or to some degree forced, to socialize with my fellow inmates, when I was introduced to focus groups or therapy - I did not feel threatened as in everyday life.

When you are openly subjected to madness, things become much clearer, and much more honest.

I enjoyed talking to - and connecting with my fellow patients. Good people, bad people and people that really didn’t know.

It was interesting, the more detached they were - the less threatening I found them. I came to believe insanity does not exist – we are all on a spectrum.

I am considered insane - I have killed and maimed. I react to things that are not there.

But I believe I only suffer from acute perception, and that I have a very special gift and I am here for a reason. And although, as a very young child I made the gravest of all mistakes, I will not let the death of my beautiful brother define me.

I believe the world is as exactly as I see it.

I am also aware that this is the viewpoint of every person that has ever walked the earth.

Evil most certainly exists. Evil is everywhere. It is in everything I see. I do not know yet if it is my rightful place to destroy evil. But I know I cannot accept it.

On the inside I walked for miles along my thin slice of the spectrum and eventually found my own evil, and was enlightened and ashamed at how I reveled in it.

On the inside I sought gratification in probing the minds of those who had sold their hours to study, decipher and conquer the inner workings of the human psyche – doctors and professors – psychologists and social workers – I enjoyed dissecting them and watching them crumble as their own cerebral walls were breached.

On the inside I was empowered and divisive and in complete control.

_______________________________________________________________________________


The John Hoffman Centre for the criminally insane

March 21st

3:57 pm


Three people entered the interview room. The first was a drawn, skinny, unkempt man in an ill-fitting cheap suit - I imagined he was in his early thirties. In one hand he held a bunch of tattered and wilted flowers – I did not think they were real. In the other he held a pink folder.

The second was a naked young woman - she was beautiful. She had waist length, jet-black hair and wild green eyes. We exchanged a smile.

The third to enter was a large, balding man. He was naked also. He had a huge penis - hanging almost to his knees. I did not engage him.

“Hello Priscilla, how are you? My name is Mark,” said the drawn, skinny man. He smelt of alcohol. He sat down opposite me and placed the wilted flowers and pink file on the table between us.

I ignored the flowers and focused on the file for a moment. It was pink because I am a girl.

Behind Mark, the large man forced the young woman against the observation mirror. The naked couple began to kiss and caress each other. The large man clutched the young woman’s throat as he licked and bit her neck and face.

I returned my attention to the table before I addressed my disheveled visitor. His hands were shaking.

“Hello Mark. You look like a man who’s had a hard day.”

“Do I?” He had a twitch beneath his left eye.

“Yes.” I replied.

_________________________________________________________________________________


Mark stands on the villa porch and stares at his phone screen for some time -

Outgoing calls

Priscilla 22:37

58 seconds

He refreshes the screen when it fades.

“58 seconds...” He whispers, and closes his eyes.

He puts the phone into his pocket ands sits on the edge of the apartment bed next to his silent wife and sips his whisky from its glass. Smatterings of light twinkle on the crescent hills of Oludeniz as music and whoops and laughter, caught on the midnight breeze, echo from the darkness. As the warmth of the whisky spreads from his gullet to his veins, Mark closes his eyes and finds a kind of peace amid the whirring of the air-conditioning, the gentle hiss of the ocean, and the rattle of his wife’s imagined breaths.

He thinks of Priscilla, her voice, her eyes. He hears himself speak -

“I have to leave tonight Rachel,”

Rachel does not stir.

“I am in love with someone else.”

He sits up and turns to the whisky on the cabinet. He refills his glass before consuming the contents.

He repeats the process.

“I’m sure now, I loved her from the moment I met her. I remember that day so well my, darling.”

He eases closer to her body and glides his fingers gently across her neck and shoulder and down her arm. He brushes the hair from her cool forehead and whispers into her ear –

“It was the day I first saw you with Dan.”

___________________________________________________________________________


Mark’s trembling hand removed a dicta-phone from his jacket pocket and placed it between us on the table.

He pressed – record.

He began to speak, but I could not hear him above his unwanted companions - grunting and moaning in the background.

I leant forward - “I’m sorry - you’ll have to speak up a bit. I’m a little hard of hearing.”

Mark gathered his senses - I listened intently as he took the reins of his profession and unsteadily raised his voice.

“No, I’m sorry, Priscilla, I didn’t know that…I was just saying I’m not here to ask you any silly questions - I’ll be straight to the point. I am here to assess you. That is my job, and everything you say to me will become part of your assessment profile, so…”

He closed his bloodshot eyes for a moment. A vein on the side of his head pulsed to the rhythm of the naked man’s thrusts as he pounded the woman from behind. The man curled the woman’s hair into his fist and pulled her head toward him before he spat into her mouth.

The woman cried out – “I want you so much, I want you so much…”

Mark opened his eyes.

“…So, it is important that we work together in understanding the reasons as to why you are here, Priscilla… I am not here to judge you. Above all what you need to remember is, I’m really just here as a friend – someone who cares - someone to talk to, someone that will listen.”

I watched him for a moment – empowered by my pity - beads of sweat on his forehead - tears beyond his glassy bloodshot eyes.

“How sweet - a friend - a friend I’ve never met before. Shall we exchange intimacies, Mark?”

I met him dead-eye and smiled at the mention of intimacy.

___________________________________________________________________________


Mark lies beside Rachel on the villa bed. He snuggles against her silent body and talks softly into her ear -

“I came home at lunchtime to surprise you. I’d bought you some flowers. It was our anniversary, March the 11th, not our wedding...”

He brushes the hair from the cold skin of her forehead.

“The day we first kissed... I guess you forgot. It’s sad how things get lost in time, don’t you think?”

He places his hand around her slender jaw and presses his lips against her eyelid.

“I loved you so much, my baby, my love. I loved you so much. The front door was dead locked, which was odd. So I went round the back. But before I tried the back door I heard music coming from the kitchen – Debussy, La Mer - As I walked to the window, for a moment I couldn’t work out what I was looking at... You were with Dan. Dan, my friend, my rock - the only man I had ever really looked up to. I watched the whole thing through the kitchen window. I heard every word you said, I saw everything...”

Mark kisses the bruises that encircle his wife’s neck.

“But you didn’t see me as you fucked our love away. You didn’t see me. And even though I was standing just feet away from you I realised then, we were a million miles apart. And that was the day I met her - my new love, my Priscilla. She saved me, and now I have to do the same for her.”

And as he is gripped by the alcohol and nostalgia, passion and rage, Mark slides his hand between his wife’s thighs and begins to touch her groin through her knickers. He kisses and smells her ear and neck as he parts her legs and climbs between them. He places his thumbs on her eyelids and rolls them back, revealing the whites of her eyes.

“One last time, my love, my baby... One last time.”

_____________________________________________________________________________


The concept of a crime of love, or ‘passion’, is acceptable it seems, to some degree, in all societies. All cultures accept the beast.

In the same world – in which we are all apparently equal, a crime bred from unrequited loneliness or isolation is considered nothing more than sadism or perversion.

We should all learn to understand and accept, and then conquer our beast – regardless if it is on the inside or out.

______________________________________________________________________________


“Do you find me attractive, Mark?”

“As a professional, Priscilla, I really can’t answer that question.”
“I’m 15 years old. Surely the answer - as a professional, should be, no - not at all… Unless the answer is yes?”

“You are a very pretty girl, Priscilla, and I’m sure you will grow to be a beautiful woman. But you are still a child, and I am a happily married man. So no, I do not find you attractive.”

The naked couple in the background were faded and vague – I was glad to have Mark’s attention.

“Happily, is a funny word, don’t you think?”

“I’m not sure what you mean?”

“A bit like, love. That’s another funny word really – an ideal as opposed to a reality, not really tangible. What would you say, Mark? What would you say love is?””

An image of a woman’s naked groin filled the observation mirror - there was a tattoo of a word next to her shaved vagina.

I averted my eyes and held a smile beneath my skin as I imagined a pretty floral print on my overalls. I slowly ground my teeth before I said -

“I have a theory that there is only so much love in this world, and, for every love found, another is lost. Of course we can all only speak from personal experience. Of which I have very little. What do you think, Mark? Speaking from your own experiences, do you think I could be right?”

“I’m not sure - I’m not really an expert in such matters.”

“Oh that’s a shame. Would you like to talk about the bad thing I did?”

“Yes.”

“The terrible thing I did to poor Christian Gibb? Now a convicted paedophile and rapist…”

“Yes.”

“Do you think I’m a bad person, Mark? Do you think that?

“That’s what I’m here to find out, Priscilla.”

I stood and turned my back to the lost little man. With my palms I slowly smoothed my overalls against my hips before inhaling deeply.

I asserted myself and thought of my mother for a moment before I turned to stare at Mark and beyond to the imagined lovers. I stared through the observation mirror and further still, through the mist of time and space, further and further, until eventually I could see the psychopath, beneath the streetlight, standing on a crack in the pavement.

I began -

“It was late afternoon on the third Tuesday in May. I was 13 years and one week old. I was walking down the alleyway between Spinney hill road and Brooklands meadow. I was looking at the ground, counting the cracks. A man was standing on the corner of the meadow beneath the streetlight - he was looking to the trees and calling a name - Pippin… Pippin… Pippin…”

___________________________________________________________________________


“Pippin...”

There were 652 cracks in the path.

The path that was, on the walk from my home to the front door of Harry’s grocery store. – That being the route I took. On the surrounding pathway there were an additional 1,365 cracks - to the best of my knowledge.

I crossed three roads to complete my journey – I could have made it far shorter by crossing more roads, but, when you are never entirely sure what you see is real, it is wise to choose the safest route. The pathway was punctuated every so often with block paving and tarmac, of which there were 192 sections. I never counted the blocks individually, I am not insane - I just pay attention to detail.

I wouldn’t have even dreamt about counting the blades of grass.

I generally took great pleasure in this walk – it was part of my mantra, and it was relatively easy to avoid unnecessary human contact through careful attention to timing and pace.

On this day however, my journey of routine and familiarity was severely compromised by the psychopath that stood on crack number 451...

___________________________________________________________________________


I see the good in people as much as the bad. Some people have babies - their loved ones - arms wrapped around their necks. I only know the babies are not real because they do not glow.

When I see a real baby there is always a moment as I bathe in its light, and then I remember Thomas and guilt and shame and loss and the world turns grey and cold and I often stumble as the cracks in the path beneath my feet grow wider.

I am sad that I prefer the babies that are not real.

Some adults have a glow, but dull, not like Thomas... These are the people I am not afraid to smile at.

I am lucky enough to have observed a man that was everything. Everything in the world and everything I want to be. His name was Joshua Bridge. He was my neighbour. He died in his home, along with his girlfriend in a house fire. I was near him many times but I never spoke to him - I could never get too close. I felt like a rat in his presence - that I should hide or scurry from him. And always as I crept into the shadows, I was filled with the urge to defecate.

____________________________________________________________________________


I knew the man that stood on crack number 451 was a psychopath because - while he called for his dog that I’m sure did not exist, he appeared completely unaware of the large group of screaming children that stood or crawled in the meadow beyond and around him.

I knew the man that stood on crack number 451 was a psychopath because - although he stood some 12 feet away from me his tongue and fingernails respectively licked and scratched my skin.

Beyond the pitch of the screaming children there was another noise. A tone - so high I could hardly hear it. It made the air thin as I gulped for breath and said -

“You don’t own a dog.”

The screaming children looked into my eyes - black holes for mouths. The psychopath maintained his facade as he said -

“Well, I suppose I won’t if I don’t find him! Pippin!” He smiled at me – his mouth full of worms.

Some of the worms fell from his lips and onto the path between us. They writhed and squirmed before dissolving with a hiss into the cracks in the ground.

I squinted and reached into my shoulder-bag. I located the cylindrical canister with my fingers and clutched it hard.

“You’ve never owned a dog.” I whispered, perhaps inaudibly - certainly out of earshot.

I made to continue my journey home.

“Can you help me find him?” - Said the psychopath - blocking my path.

I removed the canister from my bag. The psychopath stood in-front of me. The children’s screaming intensified as he leaned forward.

I watched his sins play out in the water of his glassy eyes as his lips drew back to expose his jagged over-sized teeth. I could feel his tongue licking my face, darting between my lips as he hissed -

“What have you got there, sweetheart?”

Slits for eyes I held the can of mace outstretched towards his face. My hand throbbed with the pounding of my heart. I took two deep, meaningful breaths before I said –

“Stay exactly where you are. I see the evil inside you. You have hurt children. You have done despicable things.”

The psychopath did not move. The children were silent. There was no breeze. I’m sure he smiled slightly before I continued -

“You have two choices - you can try to abduct me and I will punish you for the evil you have committed, or you can let me go.”

The ground began to tremble and shake - causing me to stumble slightly. Cawing crows flocked from the trees and blackened the sky. I steadied myself, canister held high, and continued -

“You should know that if you do let me go I will immediately make a statement to the police saying that you tried to abduct and rape me. I’m sure they will find some treasure when they search your house.”

The psychopath began to shake violently, his eyes glow red as the cracks in the path around us grew wider. I could smell burning as the crow’s cawing intensified.

And then the black sky fell - down onto the poor children, pecking and fluttering, scratching and clawing at their skin. The screaming children fell to their knees, laden by the weight of the darkness. They dragged themselves across the grass to the pathway, clambering over one and other as they climbed, amidst the fluttering and pecking and scratching, down into the cracks in the ground.

I could feel myself being drawn towards the cracks.

I reached into my bag with the other hand. I was immediately gratified with the weight of the cold, heavy, rectangular device.

Lightening lashed above us as the last of the children disappeared into the hissing cracks.

The psychopath lunged towards me.

“Your choice,” I replied as I sprayed the mace directly into his eyes, before kicking him with all my might - in his genitals.

***

The short skinny man crumpled to the floor as sunlight broke through the imagined darkness. I could feel its warmth on my skin as the man was writhing beneath me. I removed the cold, heavy stun-gun from my bag and placed it between the man’s legs before I released its energy into his groin. The man twitched and convulsed and shrieked for some time as I repeatedly activated the device. Every time I did so, the cracks in the ground around us creaked, and hissed, and sighed as they grew thinner and tight, and as they should be.

After some time I stopped. The man gurgled. He had bubbles in his mouth.

“Much better than worms I think.” I said, before – “One last thing.” I returned the stun-gun and mace to my bag and removed my secateurs. I gently took his quivering hand away from his crotch and, as the man began to squeal - undid his belt and fly-zip and pulled his trousers down slightly, before I carefully slid the jaws of the device around the base of his penis.

I stroked his hair as I quoted -

“Find what you love and let it kill you.
Let it drain you of your all. Let it cling onto your back and weigh you down into eventual nothingness.
Let it kill you and let it devour your remains.
For all things will kill you, both slowly and fastly, but it’s much better to be killed by a lover.”

“It’s going to be okay.” I reassured, and as I squeezed the handles of the secateurs the man’s squeal of anguish and pain rose and rose until he became something quite different - a whistle. He whistled like a boiling kettle.

The whistle stopped with a groan and a sigh and his taut body relaxed as we both felt the snap and release.

I wrapped the warm, twitching penis in a napkin and placed it along with the secateurs into my bag before rising to my feet. I looked down at the twisting, sobbing, gurgling little man and for a moment I was filled with pity and guilt and compassion, before I remembered the children beneath the cracks in the ground and I kicked him with all my might, repeatedly in the face and blood soaked groin until his sobbing stopped.

I removed the man’s mobile telephone from his pocket, wiped it with a napkin, and pressed the emergency call button.

I briefly outlined the details of the incident and our location to a woman who told me to stay exactly where I was and asked me lots of questions concerning the man’s welfare. I continued and explained his condition in some depth whilst assuring her that although he was losing a lot of blood I believed he would survive as long as he was promptly cared for. I switched off the mobile telephone and lay exhausted on the grass beside the man.

“What a day...” I hissed through my teeth as I took the man’s blooded and clammy hand within my own. I stared deep, into the blue and beautiful eternity above us, “What a wonderful day.”

________________________________________________________________________


“I was born with the devil in me. I could not help the fact that I was a murderer, no more than the poet can help the inspiration to sing – I was born with the ‘Evil One’ standing as my sponsor beside the bed where I was ushered into the world, and he has been with me since.”

H.H. Holmes


I returned from the shadow of my memory to observe Mark, my hapless visitor. His face splattered with red liquid. It dripped from his nose and his quivering fingers.

In the background his naked companions - still and bloody and dead beneath the observation mirror.

I sighed. You have to be careful with what you say.

“Despite my apparent malevolence, Mark, I believe a punishment should befit its crime. To love is not a crime. To love is as much a crime as to breathe another’s air.”

I really wanted to wipe the bead of blood that dangled from his nose. I was compelled to clean his face. I resisted temptation.

He took a big long breath.

“At what point did you feel so threatened by Mr Gibb, to act so violently?”

“The very moment I saw him. More to the point, Mark, why we you so inspired by my recollection, to dream of the murder and mutilation of your wife and her lover?”

Mark’s tongue grew fat in his mouth and caused his head to swell. The swollen bead of blood fell from his nose and splattered on the table between us.

“I really don’t know what you mean by that.” – He said.

I imagined my shoulder-bag and quickly removed a napkin.

I rubbed the table vigorously as I counted in my head to twenty. When the table was clean I returned my attention to Mark and responded –

“Do you know what happens, when there are only two people in a room, and one of the people is lying about something they have both just seen?”

“No.” Said Mark – his head swelling again – causing his eyes to bulge.

“Good, because that’s what we are about to find out. Do you want me to tell you about your wife, Mark?”

“No, I’d rather we talk about you.” And he attempted a smile before his face crumpled and tears fell from his eyes. His reaction was too overt to be real.

I continued -

“She has long dark wavy hair, almost to her waist. She is very slight – athletic...”

“Go on.” He said. I had his attention. His wife sat next to him at the table.

I studied her face.

“She has pale green eyes. Am I right?”

“Yes.”

Mark leaned across and embraced his wife – ‘Like fields in snow.” He said as he gently kissed her forehead.

“Do you tell her she has eyes... like fields in snow?”

“How do you know that?”

“I honestly don’t know.”

I noted that the flowers had disappeared and the pink file had remained untouched throughout our entire encounter. I felt slightly cheated for a moment before I said -

“She has a mole above her top lip. She is very beautiful.”

“How do you know that? How do you know my wife?”

“I don’t know your wife.”

“Then how do you know what she looks like?”

“Because I am the devil - or God - or nothing - it depends on which way you look at it… Ask me about something.”

Mark’s chest rose and fell rather quickly and I realised he may be on the brink of an anxiety attack. I considered showing him one of my breasts to lighten the tone.

He cleared his throat and responded.

“What went through your mind when you first saw Christian Gibb?”

“I was afraid... Would you like to know what went through my mind when I first saw you?’

“Go on.”

“I felt pity... Your wife has a tattoo of a word next to her shaved vagina – I can’t quite make it out, Mark.”

“How do you know Rachel?”

“Your wife? I don’t know her. I know what she looks like because she has very much been in my presence since you and I met. I can see you as well, Mark – staring through the kitchen window. You have a bunch of flowers in your hand.”

“What?”

“What did you see when you looked through the kitchen window, Mark?”

“I don’t... know what you…”

“Did you see your wife?”

“How do you…”

“Did you see your wife being fucked by another man? I can. I can see her right now - being fucked on the kitchen side relentlessly by a big man with a bald head and a hairy back. He has a huge penis, Mark - I mean it’s huge… I’m looking at it right now.”

“Stop this.” His chest rose and fell. He placed his shaking hands beneath the table.

“I can see his huge penis sliding in and out of your beautiful wife.”

“Stop this now, Priscilla.”

“She’s screaming in ecstasy. He’s pounding her so hard. He’s being so rough with her. He’s touching her everywhere. He has his dirty fingers in her mouth - your baby – your love. You’re staring through the window but they don’t know you are there… they don’t know you’re watching.”

“Priscilla…”

“She’s screaming and he’s rubbing his dirty fat fingers all over her body. You have a bunch of flowers in your hand. His dirty fingers are rubbing all over the tattoo. I can’t read it, Mark, what does it say?”

Mark reached across the table to the Dictaphone. He pressed – Stop.

“What does it say?”

He did not respond. Tears welled in his eyes.

“I’m here as your friend, Mark.”

“Love...” He replied, “It says love… Now please, please stop.”

“Now do you understand why I attacked Christian Gibb?”

Mark began to sob. I knew his tears were real, and as I reached and took his slight and gentle hand I felt empowered and ashamed, and for a small moment, I knew that I was everything that is human.

“Now do you understand why I attacked Christian Gibb?”

“I don’t…I don’t understand anything.”

“Then I’ll help you. I’ll help you to understand, but in return you must help me. I must leave this place soon. I need to go home, Mark, I really need to go home.”

“I wish it was you.” I heard through his sobbing as he squeezed my palm within his own. “I wish it was you…” I quickly released myself from his clammy grip and recoiled.

__________________________________________________________________________


Mark sits naked in the corner of the villa bedroom with his knees to his chest. He rocks back and forth.

Rachel’s body lies upon the bed.

“I promise I will come and save you.” He says to the body.

“I promise I will come and save you.”

He tries to focus on the clock on the wall, but is denied by the blur of alcohol and emotion.

He puts his palm against the wall as he gets to his feet, before staggering to the bed and straddling his wife’s body. He takes her shoulders within his hands and begins to shake her limp and lifeless torso.

“Wake up.” He says.

“Please wake up.” Her head lolls back and forth.

“Please wake up, Rachel.”

And then she begins to scream - a scream so loud and so piercing it becomes everything, and for a moment Mark feels joy for the very last time, before he locks eyes with the beast in the mirror, and sees that the scream is his own.

____________________________________________________________________________


As Rachel’s body floats gently away, caught in the rips of the ebb tide and dappled in the pale moonlight, Mark remembers music.

“The sea...” He says, and listens to the echoes of his mind. He thinks of times gone by.

He stands for a while and observes this beautiful ending, until Rachel can be seen no more.

He looks to the stars, and remembers a conversation.

‘Mark, I need to see you.’

‘Priscilla...’

‘Mark, I need to see you.’

‘Tell me what’s wrong?’

‘Everything...’

“I promise I will come and save you.” He whispers to the stars, and as he makes his way back up the beach, towards the lights of the villa, he has purpose in his stride.

“I promise I will come and save you.” He says again.

______________________________________________________________________________


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