Lethal Masterpiece

Alternating narrators. Rated M.

We follow Alison Havens as she enters the Cabinet of Peculiar Art: home to the most grotesque of creations, and also currently housing a psychopath. Subsequently Alison has been taken into custody a month later and Commissioner Michael Fox is trying to connect the puzzle pieces in the aftermath of her abduction, while her 4-year-old son remains missing.

A/N: I suck at summaries.

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7. Sweetheart

Chapter VII: Sweetheart

 

It was simply not possible for any living creature to move with such unobtrusiveness. Ever since the darkness had begun to draw back, allowing me to finally gain consciousness again after what seemed like an eternity of blackness, I'd picked up the faintest sound of footsteps and the flutter of cloth brushing against the person's body now and then. I wasn't exactly sure about where I was, but after also gaining a little bit of sense of feeling in my numb body, I was positive about the fact that I was lying flat on my stomach, my head tipped to one side. I could feel the soft but slightly abrasive surface of a carpet against my cheek. Unfortunately, along with the feeling came also a tremendous pain throughout my whole upper-body. The sensation had clouded every part of my brain with agony at first, making it extremely difficult to think straight, let alone think at all. But I somehow managed not to let out a single whimper. Anyway I wasn't sure I would be able to find my voice at the moment.

 

But nevertheless after a while of silently enduring the pain, my other senses became more alert too, including my hearing. I wasn't sure about the footsteps at first, due to the loud throbbing in my ears, but after maybe fifteen minutes when the pounding started to lessen, I knew I wasn't just hearing things. Somebody was moving around me, noiselessly for the most part; sometimes close, sometimes frighteningly near. At one point I nearly gasped in surprise when I suddenly heard the light footsteps actually walking away from me, no less than two feet from my face. What had shocked me the most was that I hadn't even heard the person move that close to me in the first place. The thought scared me. Worrying about my own movement however wasn't a problem, I still had yet to find use of my limps.  

 

I hadn't tried to open my eyes yet. Even if my eyelids didn't feel ridiculously heavy, the thought of making the person wandering about, whoever he or she was, know that I was no longer unconscious didn't really seem appealing for some reason. I was rapidly becoming more aware, and whereas I could now locate the source of the pain I felt residing around my left shoulder, my mind was also beginning to clear. I had had no memories what-so-ever when I started to wake up at first. My name was completely gone, where I was had been wiped away. Who I was, was lost in the waves of exhaustion. But now, I was expeditiously starting to remember what had actually happened. I'd been running with Caleb through that weird house. Wagner had been murdered by that psychopath... Mannis Rose. A brief glimpse of the eerie man hovering over me with a crooked smile on his face, and hazel eyes that were sparkling with amusement flashed in my mind.  

 

I resisted the urge to shake my head in an attempt to get the image out of my head. The person sneaking around me might as well be Rose, and to be the subject of his attention was something that I definitely would not appreciate. And after remembering that he had actually been the one to stab me, to cause me this pointless pain, I decided that I hated him. I tried to make a mental list of reasons why he could possibly find it necessary to hurt me this violently, but found none. So not only was he a psycho, but also a walking male-moron in person. Just my effin' luck...  

 

I could feel the muscles closest around the wound contract, and the blood still gushing out; I could feel my clothes getting more soaked by the minute, which told me that I probably hadn't been out for that long. Nah, I would've probably been dead after a long while of bleeding like this... I could feel my eyebrows crease slightly in response to this thought. Way to stay positive. So, I got stabbed, that much was clear to me, though the motive still remained of obscure nature. What else? There had been another, a young man. He had had a garbage bag with him - with knives in it! Aaand...

 

Something was missing here. I was sure I'd forgotten something, something rather essential, apparently, according to the nagging feeling in the back of my head. I laid there on the rough, scratchy blanket for a couple of minutes, trying to get my memories straight again, trying to remember... And then it dawned on me.

 

Caleb. Caleb, Caleb, Caleb, Caleb, my son!  

 

Where'd he go?

 

While more memories of Caleb started to emerge inside my head, a new feeling washed over me as violently as a tsunami over a city. Glowing, wild, delirious worry. Was Caleb still all alone in that scissor-room? And if so, how long had he been there? He was probably scared to death by now! There was a quiet rattle somewhere as the person began moving around again. I could feel my brain rapidly begin to panic, and inhaled deeply as silently as possible, willing myself to think clearly. No more sleeping, I decided, I have to go get him. Slowly, carefully, I opened one eye with a bit of difficulty since my eyelids still felt heavy and almost glued together. As the blackness made way for my vision, I was also able to have a look at my surroundings for the first time in what had felt like hours of blind wakening, listening, thinking and finally remembering.  

 

The first thing I noticed was the size of the room. It was tiny, no more than six paces long, and the ceiling was so low that anybody even a little over average height would probably feel uncomfortable standing up. If I hadn't been lying down by one of the walls, with a good view of the whole room, I would've probably felt highly claustrophobic right about now. The maroon colored dusty wall-paper peeling off the walls gave it a wretchedly moth-eaten appearance. The furniture was also in keeping; there were three rickety chairs and a stained deal table in a corner, holding a few books and papers so covered with dust that it was obvious that they had not been touched for a long time. There was also a large and clumsy sofa taking up most of the space, and with a print cover now old and worn into holes. The sofa was so out of place, and the small table in front of it clearly emphasized the fact. The room contained way too much furniture than the room was able to comfortably hold, and I couldn't help but wonder if I was still inside the Cabinet of Peculiar Art at all.

 

Then a figure stepped inside my vision, and I quickly closed my eye again, pretending to still be asleep. I tried to make my face relaxed so it would appear serene, all the while listening intently for the footsteps. I could hear knees cracking lightly as the person bend down beside me, and I held my breath. Please, please, please...

 

"You don't have to pretend, miss, I know you're awake," a deep voice said and I cursed mentally.

 

I slowly opened both of my eyes to meet a pair of chocolate brown ones. They held sanity, was the first thing I noticed, and even though I had no valid reason to yet, I relaxed a bit. The man that was kneeling before me could be many things. A murderer, a rapist, a thief, a stalker... Or an insurance salesman, for all I knew, but at least he wasn't insane. I attempted to talk, but my throat immediately contracted and I realised just how dry my gullet and mouth had gone suddenly. I narrowed my eyes suspiciously at the stranger when he raised his hand and moved closer. What now? The man was black, bald and judging by the few wrinkles on his clean-shaven face was in his early forties. I didn't recognize him from TV or anything, like Rose, didn't know his face at all. He smiled sympathetically down at me as he placed the hand on my shoulder, and I was surprised to feel the heat from it even through my sweater.

 

"How about I help you sit up, and get you some water, hm?"

 

I just nodded my head since I probably couldn't do much to else at this point. My body was still numb as hell, and the persistent sensation of my blood leaking from the stab-wound on my back just made my head dizzier.

 

I closed my eyes and felt both of the man's hands on my shoulders, and slowly lifting me up to sit in a vertical position. Luckily nothing was aching as much as my back, but I felt the blood spilling out now, and carefully turned my head as to not provoke the dizziness to make a further nuisance of itself, to look around me. Exactly as I'd guessed there was dark red blood pretty much everywhere around me... Again, if I hadn't been a mother, and a little bit more of a screaming kind of person I would've flat-out panicked at the sight. But truthfully I just felt horribly exhausted.  

 

"Can you sit up by yourself?" the man asked, his hands lingering hesitantly at my shoulders.  

 

I nodded my head again and carefully leaned back against the wall. I winced. Bad idea. The guy stood up and I couldn't help but gawk at the burliness of him. His biceps were thicker than my head! He was dressed in blue overalls and a black T-shirt and for some reason his feet were bare... He turned to a small sink I hadn't seen before in a corner, and I noticed that he had to bow his neck quite a bit to not hit his head against the ceiling. He was still moving with inhumane reticence though.

 

I heard the water running, and it sounded like the pipes ought to have a check-up. Soon he returned with a plastic cup that was thankfully filled with clear water. By the sound of the raspy pipes it'd been all to easy to imagine disgusting, reddish liquid filled with rusty iron pouring out. He held the cup to my lips, realising sooner than I did that my hands were useless - one wrist was surely broken, but that whole member had gone numb long ago, so I didn't really have a sense of feeling there. But both of my hands were also shaking badly, pretty much like the rest of my body was starting to do too. "We have better do something about that cut of yours, won't we?" I couldn't figure out if this man was one of the good guys or the bad guys, so far it seemed like he belonged with the first mentioned, but you never knew for sure... But I wasn't going to bleed to death because of something as trivial as natural suspicion so I nodded my head again, after I finished drinking. My throat still felt parched though, and I briefly considered asking him for another drink when I realised that I had more important matters to attend to.  

 

"I need to find my son," I said, not really surprised by how hoarse my voice sounded. The man looked reassuringly down at me, and patted my shoulder with an enormous hand, making me wince once again. He quickly apologized and offered a shy smile, which I didn't return.

 

"Where is he?"

 

He shook his big head. "I'm afraid I wouldn't know, miss. And I understand your concern, but trust me, Mannis will find him soon." Was that supposed to serve as some kind of comfort? I edged upwards against the wall, trying my best not to lean on the injured side of my back, and ended up sitting onto my knees. The dark-skinned stranger regarded me with attentive dark eyes, as I debated on what to do next. I couldn't escape this man, should he decide to restrain me. I could probably snap my neck like a twig if he wanted to. But that image just didn't fit well, nor did it seem very likely, inside my head for some reason. He was far too... Too... Kind? I had absolutely no idea. My head still felt cloudy and I had some trouble focusing my eyes; my vision just kept shifting between sharp- and blurriness, refusing to permanently clear.

 

"Look, mister," I muttered and rubbed my eyes with my unhurt hand, "I'm not letting that son of a bitch touch my child."

 

I felt I had to get things in a clear light, or I'd never go anywhere from here. I started to slowly edge upwards along the wall in an attempt to get on my feet. "Now, now, missy, you be in no condition to walk around with a nasty cut like that. Just take it easy for now." The dark skinned stranger hastily took hold of both of my shoulders and forced me around, making me gasp and wince in pain as my back was turned to him. I felt very ready to resist, but my head had started to spin so badly and I was rapidly losing sense of my body again. He'd started to pull up my sweater, and I didn't think to protest against it. What the hell did it matter anyway? My tank top and bra was probably all stained with blood too... The sweater hadn't gotten that far up, when suddenly the door slammed open and I snapped my head to one side, regretting the action immediately after.

 

Ow, dammit, my head...!

 

"Just what the fuck is going on here, Millard?"

 

It took a moment before I recognized the curious accent, but my eyes had blurred out again. The hazy figure in the doorway was moving quickly towards the spot where I was sitting, and I instinctively braced myself while the big guy, Millard, got to his naked feet behind me. "She just woke up, and I thought that cut ought to be cleaned," he said defensively and I frowned a bit. Wasn't that guy like, three times the size of that bratty twat? Surely he couldn't be scared of him. "You were told to watch her, idiot, not get all fucking sweet with her. If Mannis wants her cleaned, he'll tell you, got it?"

 

A small pause.

 

"Got it."

 

I felt a hand grip my hair and I let out a surprised yelp as the youngster pulled me up. I had no choice but to sit up, onto my knees and then in a halfway crouch. I couldn't see anything, everything was a blur before my eyes, and I felt hot tears starting to form behind my eyelids as I shut them closed. I'd started to hate that boy too. Again I could hear the blood rushing in my ears, pounding painfully inside my head.

 

The two voices were cloudy and incoherent above, but I sensed that the young man was getting angry; his grip on my hair tightened and I gave small cry of pain. The pounding sound in my head was blocking most words out, but I managed to catch a few.

 

"...Wouldn't want to kill her off, right?"

 

"...Cares, she's just a nosy bitch. Mannis won't mind..."  

 

"...Just don't think..."  

 

I was getting dizzier by the second, and my eyelids felt heavier and heavier. This wasn't good. I couldn't pass out now. I wasn't going to pass out now. Caleb needed my help! And what if that stupid youngster decided to kill me? Obviously Millard wouldn't go as far as to step up to this kid and help me out, though he'd seemed nice enough before. Was he just a pair of hired hands? How many associates did Rose have running around anyway?  

 

I turned my head and managed to focus my eyes on the door, though my vision still seemed kind of blurry at the edges. I had to get out of here! Caleb was probably feeling terribly alone right now! Oh, God, what if he's hurt? What if he cut himself on the scissors? What if he left the room? I was hyperventilating. My breathing was going wild, and I tried desperately to deeply inhale and exhale as steadily as you possibly can with someone yanking at your hair. "And just what do you think you're doing, huh?" the boy suddenly snapped beside my ear, and pulled viciously at my hair, making me cry out in pain. I reached up and grabbed desperately at his hands, trying to pry away his fingers with my good hand. This apparently did not please him, as his grip on my hair only became tighter and I started to curse incoherent threats and insults at him in frustration of the painful treatment he was putting me through.  

 

"Shut up!" the boy snapped loudly, his accented voice shaking a bit with emotion, "Just shut up and stay out of my way, you hear?" At first I'd thought he was telling me to shut up, then I realised that Millard was talking, just low enough for me to overhear. I wasn't able to hear anything beneath a shout clearly right now because of the constant thumping in my head. My throat was starting to constrict and I could feel hot tears streaming down my cheeks. Provoked by both pain and anger I'd started crying. How pathetic is that? Had Millard tried to interfere? Was that the reason the youth was now actually losing his grip on my hair, or was it something else? Then I felt his hands fully loosen and a silent sigh of relief escaped my lips as I fell down onto my knees. My scalp was aching so badly.

 

"...Hasn't done anything! You're mistreating her! Rose won't approve."

 

Millard was obviously trying to calm the boy down. He sounded strangely desperate. He couldn't be seriously worried about my wellbeing, he didn't even know my name. I was so confused about the whole situation, but I couldn't master enough control of my body yet to turn and look at the two. But suddenly I understood where Millard's desperation had come from. The unmistakable sound of a gun getting cocked melted with the ringing in my ears and I froze instantly. "Shut up! I told you he won't care! Fucking idiot...Stay...Just stay there and shut up!" The boy sounded panicky. What the hell was his problem with me anyway? I didn't usually have a beef with people. Mostly because I didn't interact with that many people. Not since I had Caleb anyway...

 

Oh, Caleb...

 

I forced my head around, but instantly regretted it when I heard the shot, followed by Millard's gasp of pain. My eyes widened. Everything seemed to clear for that short time between the bulky, black man staggering backwards, holding a bloody hand to his chest and the lanky youth pulling the trigger mercilessly again. I watched the man fall to his knees, blood leaking rapidly from a hole in his side. His eyes were wide with shock as he stared at the boy in front of him, his full lips slightly parted in awe too. I didn't realise until later that I was mimicking his expression down to every last detail. How could he have done that? He was just a kid. A child. How did he fit into this madness that revolved around a man like Maniac Mannis? How did a child find reason to kill another human being?  

 

I would never let this animal near my son. Ever.

 

Then I'd much rather Rose was out looking for Caleb. At least he was an adult. Maybe a crazy one. But at least he had seemed somewhat reasonable in the hallway...Holding a knife to my neck...Cutting my shoulder up. Okay, maybe he wasn't that reasonable. Maybe he wasn't reasonable at all. Maybe it just seemed that way because he wasn't the one standing with a gun in his hands, staring at a corpse. I was still sitting on the dusty, blood stained carpet, holding my injured wrist. Every part of me was tense with instinctive alarm, screaming at me to run. Get away from this. From him. But as of that moment, I still couldn't move my legs. My breathing was deep and rapid, passing between small gasps and occasional sobs. Time seemed to stretch on forever. A pool of blood had started to form around Millard's unmoving form on the floor, when the boy started to turn his head in my direction. His steely gaze met mine and I couldn't bring myself to look away as he started to raise the gun again. I couldn't breathe properly anymore.

 

A wicked smile crossed the boy's pale lips as he started to unload the gun, taking out the magazine. I watched him in shock as the bullets were removed and the gun dropped in front of me. What was happening? The youngster then stepped back a bit to regard the image it seemed, and made himself comfortable in a chair, pulling out a knife to play with.

 

"Boy, are you in trouble..." he grinned.

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