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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9. Terror

Chapter IX: Terror

 

Nothing could be worse than this. After I woke up again, apparently abandoned, the pounding in my head was worse than ever. And the sickness that I was feeling was rushing over me in waves, every now and then making my muscles twist and cramp together painfully. Still lying down on my side on the carpet I'd been trying for what felt like hours to get my hands free of whatever was tying them behind my back. But I had to do it slowly. (Which was hard since the adrenaline was making pretty much my entire body shake viciously.) My wrist was still broken, and the majority of movements I was making caused pain in return. I couldn't feel my back or the shoulder where Rose had stabbed me at all. It was wall numb now. I wasn't sure if I should be grateful or worried about that... But every time I stopped what I was doing to listen for footsteps, I could feel my heart racing.  

 

Leaving me in this painful state was both evil and irresponsible. No doubt that little son of a bitch would convince Rose that I was responsible for Millard's death. The big man was still lying in the exact same spot where he'd hit the ground after that boy had shot him. Twice. I tried not to look at him too much. To think about the fact that I was lying less than four feet away from a dead man. I'd been faced with two corpses in one day, and I sincerely hoped that I wasn't going to get used to that. Millard's blood had spread in a large pool around him, sinking into the carpet, almost blending with my own. I never realised that I, or any human being for that matter could bleed this much. If Rose believed that I killed him, I was done for. And so was Caleb.  

 

If only I had my hands free. Then I could at least look at my watch and determine how long my son had been alone for. My emotions on that part were kind of mixed though. On one hand Caleb could be all alone somewhere in the house, hungry, tired and with nobody to look after him, and on the other hand, he might not be alone - might be with Rose, who obviously wasn't your ideal guardian, but at least he was an adult, right? Maybe not a sane adult, but having somebody with my son had to be better than having nobody... But then again, Caleb could still be alone.

 

I'd heard the lock click in place after the stupid dipstick had left. Something in my gut told me that I would never like that boy. And something in my scalp told me that I was definitely not going to try either! I groaned with frustration as I desperately tried to wriggle my hands free, and winced in agony as pain shot through my injured wrist. Now, if I could be just a little more careful... "Auch! Dammit!" I then made a jerk of pure frustration and I actually ended up in a sort of sitting position somehow. Well, this was nice, after all my foiled attempts to get free.

 

My heart was pounding painfully in my chest, and I felt immensely dizzy suddenly. Black dots were shrouding my vision, and I was almost tempted to lie down again, just to make it go away. But then how was I supposed to get out of here? I couldn't count on somebody to turn up any time soon... I took a deep breath, and waited for my bloodstream to get to my brain. Soon the dots were gone, but my head was still killing me. I groaned but then stiffened, when a familiar tune reached my ears, along with a vibrating sensation down at my thigh. I glanced down and realised that someone was calling my cellphone. Cellphone. "You stupid idiot..." I muttered, irritated at my self for not even thinking about calling for help at anytime sooner. I struggled with my bindings, getting more stressed by the second as the person calling could be hanging up any moment.  

 

Finally I was able to get one hand free, even if it was painful like hell, and quickly grabbed my cellphone from my pocket.

 

"Hello?"

 

"...Alison Havens?"

 

I didn't recognise the female voice, but something in my own voice must've startled the woman.  

 

"Yes, yes! Please, I need your help!"  

 

"...Uhm, I don't-"  

 

"--Please!"  

 

"Well, what's wrong?" the woman snapped, sounding somewhat annoyed now.

 

I was about to answer when I heard the lock click into place, and I turned my head, looking horrified at the door. No, no, no, no, NO! Mannis Rose stepped into room, his hazel eyes instantly locking onto mine. Then they slid to the phone in my hand, and he tsk'ed as he started walking towards me. I skidded backwards, frantically trying to get away from him. For a moment I forgot all about the woman on the phone, until the vague sound of her voice calling hesitantly on the other end. I raised the cellphone to my ear once again, while Rose reached out to take it away from me. "Help!" I screeched, as he ripped the phone from my hand, shoving me down to the floor with his free hand. I hit the back of my head against the floor, and gasped in pain. The blood had apparently soaked through the carpet already, and the impact of the blow hadn't in any way been diminished. Then I watched Rose throw the cellphone carelessly across the room, though there must have been a certain amount of force behind it, since it broke against the wall quite violently.  

 

His eyes landed on the corpse of his accomplice, and in an almost curious manner, he leaned over to examine him shortly, then his eyes slid to the discharged gun that was lying ever so innocently on the floor. Meanwhile I edged further away from him, wincing now and then. Then he grabbed my ankle and I screeched in surprise and fear as he gave my leg a hard tug, dragging me to a spot half underneath himself.

 

He grabbed my arms and I kicked at him, hitting nothing but air. "That's not very nice, I was positive somebody would've thought of relieving you of such effects," he stated calmly, while he caught and held my wrists solidly against my stomach, making me wince in pain. My wrist is still broken, thank you! The tears were stinging behind my eyelids.

 

"Who were you calling?"  

 

Asshole.

 

He repeated the question but I still didn't reply. Not only because I was paralysed with pain, but also because I felt like being a pain in the neck after he left me with his little trigger-crazy, under-age friend.

 

"Now, I've got your kid waiting outside, so how about you skip the silent treatment?" he suggested, and I froze. Caleb? My first thought was to call for him, but seeing as I was covered in blood and a dead man was lying mere feet away from me, I had to restrain myself. My reaction seemed to have satisfied him, because suddenly Rose was smiling broadly. "Oh, we had a great talk not too long ago, actually. He said he was hungry, so I gave him a little something to chew on. I hope that's okay," he said cheerily, as if that couldn't possibly bother me. I widened my eyes and glared at him in suspicion. He returned my gaze and raised an eyebrow inquiringly.

 

"What? You think I'd poison the little boy?" he asked, a sly smile playing across his lips – because he damn well knew that he would. He hadn't thought twice about killing those policemen's children. I started struggling again, mostly because I wanted to create some form of distraction, since the thought of Caleb choking up on something horrible frightened me to death.  

 

Was he doing this on purpose, I wondered? Placing these horrible thoughts in my head, producing the most unwanted, heart-breaking images inside my mind... Maybe I was just panicking again. My head was throbbing and my eyes stung. I couldn't feel my shoulder at all, and I was actually very grateful. Now I just needed the endorphins to completely numb my body, and I would be the happiest person alive. Huzzah! Morphine! Ugh. My head was slowly tilting back, and I closed my eyes, wishing I could just blackout again. I almost felt blessed by unconsciousness when I was shaken roughly back to being aware and hurting. I groaned and tried to push him away, but Rose just grasped my arms tighter.

 

"Ouch, let go!" I snapped, and once again started kicking at him, my heels hitting the carpet over and over. Then I realised that something was wrong with my voice. Then I realised that something was wrong with Rose's voice, because despite the blurry edges of my vision, I could make out his lips, which were moving pretty clearly as he spoke, but the words seemed to be drowned out by this light tune in my head. I realised that something was wrong with my ears. Was I going deaf or something? Suddenly Rose was raising his fist and I didn't even think to react before he cold-cocked me across the jaw. Everything went black for a second and I felt a blessed serenity filling every part of my mind, until everything suddenly became abruptly clear to me, including the pain. I was only out for what, one or two seconds? Is that it? That moron couldn't even knock me unconscious properly?

 

I couldn't see anything though, and shortly after this discovery I realised why, and opened my eyes. Even then, everything was just dots and colours. But I could just make out the figure of Rose, hovering above me, still pinning me to the floor.  

 

"My apologies. You obviously weren't paying any attention."  

 

I could hear his voice clearly now, and rage was boiling up inside of me, like glowing hot metal inside my chest. Oh, right, so he just figured he would punch me instead? I opened my mouth, preparing to scream at him, but he prevented this by simply putting a finger to my lips. "If you don't mind, I'm just going to ask a few questions first." I'm going to bite him. I swear, I'm going to bite his finger off right now, and then I'm going beat his sorry ass until his bones start bouncing off the walls! Or just grab my son and run, but I'd probably give him a good kick just for the hell of it. Did he say that Caleb was waiting outside?  

 

"Who were you calling?" he asked me again, removing his finger from my mouth, allowing me to reply if I so wished. Which I did not, at the moment. He still had a firm grip on my arms, and I was starting to go numb from the elbows and down. But I didn't bother to tell him to let go, the chances of him complying weren't exactly great at the moment. He better be right about Caleb being outside. Indeed, the idea of wandering hopelessly around this maze of a house, looking for my son was nowhere near compelling to me. I hesitated a little, waiting for him to perhaps falter, then sighed when no such thing happened.  

 

"I wasn't," I replied dryly, and it was partly true; I had intended to. Not that I cared about telling the truth, I wasn't going to lie awake with guilt at night because I lied to a serial killer.  

 

"Somebody was on the phone."

 

"I don't know who that was."  

 

"Is that right?"  

 

"Yes."

 

I glared at him, and hoped he would die a slow and painful death in the flames of the deepest part of hell. To my surprise he smiled. A ghostly smile that made me somewhat uncomfortable and uneasy, and the powerful glare I'd set up slowly faded into a guarded glance.  

 

"So rumour has it that you killed my associate," he said in a low voice, and my eyes automatically flickered to Millard's body. Rose followed my gaze, and then his eyes locked onto my own. So I had been right then. The boy had framed me, then run along and led Rose onto the idea too. I was dead meat. Surely this was my doom. Rose would believe his word over mine any day. Was it even worth trying to convince him otherwise? I figured I might as well give it a try, for the sake of Caleb. "Look, I didn't d-" "-Oh, I know you didn't kill him," he said with a strange gleam in his eyes, "Don't worry about convincing me, lovebug." I didn't exactly sigh with relief, but I did let some unknown amount of air wheeze through my lips.  

 

Then I frowned.  

 

"Don't call me th--"

 

"--So here's what we're going to do," he interrupted and then quite abruptly, he pulled me to my feet.  

 

Now, I wasn't prepared for that at all. So naturally, once I was standing my legs collapsed beneath me. Then I felt a pair of strong arms holding me up, and instantly began to struggle by curling my unhurt hand into a fist, and punching him in the face. Apparently I was a weakling, for he didn't seem to be bothered by it, as he grabbed hold of my hands, trapping them against his and my chest. "Stop doing that, or I'll have to restrain you. I don't want to do that, since it would only make things more difficult, do you understand?" He punched me first! I merely glared at him once again, as I struggled to regain control of my legs. He played for a while with the bloody collar of my shirt, until I was able to stand for myself.

 

"We're going to clean you up, and then I'll take you to your son."

 

"And then you're going to show us out," I finished, trying to resemble his tone. I could've whacked myself over the head when I heard the light tremble in my voice. What was wrong with me? I also could not help but work my jaw tentatively, as it felt oddly loose. Had he dislocated something? Nah, I reckon I would've noticed a more severe pain that this... It was really just getting a little numb. I hope I don't start to drool. Rose was smiling again, and I became guarded once more. What now?

 

"Naw, I think I kind of like you. And I like your kid... he's quite enterta--"

 

"--You stay away from him, you hear me?" I warned as he pushed me towards the sink. "I will kill you if--"

"--Pardon my contradicting you, but I don't think you're in any position to make threats, miss Havens. And I don't like being interrupted."

 

Now how did he go and find out my name? This was creepy. This was beyond creepy, this was downright terrifying! The thought that he might have been stalking me over time briefly entered my mind, but I quickly dismissed it as invalid. I wasn't exactly the type that wrote my name all over my stuff, so he couldn't have known it from reading the label on my... Car. He'd been inside my car. Of course he had. And no doubt he'd been rummaging through my stuff as well. Did I leave the car unlocked? I couldn't remember...

 

Rose grabbed my neck and turned the water on with his free hand. Then he grabbed a dirty, green dish cloth that was tugged behind the tap, and let the water soak it through. Disgusted, I started to pull away, as he tightened his grip around my neck, making me wince. "Just stand still and it'll all be over before you know it," he coaxed, almost like a dentist or something. A psychotic, mass-murdering, evil dentist... I thought bitterly. I stepped back as he moved to touch the repelling rag to my face. I felt his hold on my neck double up, to the point were it was almost painful. I closed my eyes as I felt the damp fabric touch my forehead. I could smell the unspeakable amount of years it must have been there, and tried not to breathe as Rose swiftly wiped off the blood. Then he turned me around, so my back was facing him, and started to pull off my sweater. What the hell?  

 

"Hey!" I protested, and turned around to slap away his hands. Rose returned my glare evenly, though not nearly as hostile.

 

"I recommend that you stop resisting. Now. The quicker we get this done, the less time your son will have to spend on his own," he said, spinning me around once more. I merely stepped away from him, crossing my arms over my chest, taking care not to move my damaged wrist. The fact that I was shaking just irritated me more. "I'm not stripping anything in front of you."

 

"I'm not asking you to do that," he said with a shrug, and plucked a knife from within his vest. I stiffened at the sight of the blade, becoming sickeningly aware of the stab-wound in my shoulder, in spite of the numbness there. He advanced on me and I actually let out a small scream when he grabbed the front of my shirt and pulled me towards him rather violently. I put my hands on his to try and pry his fingers off of me desperately, and felt what I guessed was the tip of the knife being pressed against the right side of my abdomen and instinctively I froze.

 

"I will kill you if you don't hold still, understand?" he said, looking directly at me with a piercing glare, a strained smile on his face. "And the boy? I'm going to walk straight out of this room and kill him too. How does that sound?" I gulped, and said nothing in reply. Feeling suddenly crestfallen, I let my arms drop to my sides. To think that he would even say such a thing...  

 

Rose inclined his head in approval, and turned me around for the third time. But instead of pulling my sweater over my head this time, he apparently decided that simply cutting it open would work just fine. I yelped in surprise at the sound of tearing material, but didn't dare throw a fit about it. He threw the sweater to the ground and started to cut open the back of my tank top too. This time he seemed to think that just cutting it almost all the way down would be sufficient. The top wasn't exactly falling off, just baring my back... and in any case, I was still wearing my bra underneath. I felt the wet cloth being pressed down hard onto the wound, and clenched my teeth. Couldn't he at least be gentle about this? I started muttering inaudible curses as I glanced once towards Millard's body, then lowered my eyes to the ground. Even my shoes had bloodstains on them. Mostly the outer soles though...

 

Rose was being quiet behind me, while cleaning up the blood. I sighed. I guess there wasn't much that could be done about my bloodied clothes. I wanted to see Caleb. This house... Was no place for a 4-year-old to wander about with no adult supervision. I thought back to the scissor room, how easily Caleb would have cut himself, had they been hanging lower to the floor. I felt a chill run down my spine, and I didn't feel the dish cloth on my skin after that. I slowly lifted my head and looked at the carpet where I had been lying. Soaked through by my blood, some places still wet. I felt my legs weaken beneath me, and closed my eyes, trying to focus.  

 

"I actually thought you would've died of blood loss or an anxiety attack or something..." he muttered, and I heard him cut off the water.

 

Wow, does he know how to small talk, I thought sourly.  

 

I chose to simply ignore that statement. Then I heard yet another sound of tearing fabric, and I realised that he must be destroying his own clothing now. I slowly started turning my head to glance back at him, but then I became stiff as a board when he reached around inside my torn shirt. I allowed him to put his arm around me, more or less, feeling a little sick suddenly, and then felt him tighten the soft yet solid piece of clothing around my shoulder. Was he bandaging me too? Why, that's nice after the stabbing, punching and man-handling... Rose removed his arm swiftly, and I blinked as he tied a knot roughly on top of the wound, making my whole upper body shake slightly.

 

"There you are, all fixed," he said and I turned around to see him standing there, watching me with a calculating look. What, no stitches, doctor? Oh, what a mess that would've been... I tried to grit my teeth, to keep the insults and comments inside, worried he might come swinging at me and Caleb with the knife if I didn't. "I would like to see my son now," I said instead and he slowly nodded his head. "Yes, I suppose you would..."

 

I now noticed something strange about the way he talked. There wasn't exactly a specific accent to his words, a slight drawl maybe, and something was definitely sounding foreign to my ears. I just couldn't quite put my finger on it.

 

Rose stepped calmly in front of the door, and I watched him suspiciously as he dug into his pocket and retrieved a faded, slightly rusty copper key. "I'm going to make you a proposition before I let you leave this room." I narrowed my eyes further and he smiled knowingly. "I'll make it as subtle as I possibly can, then. See, my young friend stumbled across some rather curious paintings in your trunk, one of which he cared to show to me for reasons I can't quite grasp," he explained, and I carefully crossed my arms over my chest once again. Oh, so now he's going to make fun of my work. Lovely. So they had been snooping around my car after all. I knew it!

 

"And so?"

 

"And so! I thought to myself, 'well this is just the kind of thing ol' Derek would have loved!'. You did come here to see him before or little encounter, didn't you?" he asked, once again with a knowing smile on his face. There was nothing little about our encounter, you freak. I didn't feel the need to answer him, so I just waited, keeping my expression as schooled as possible. It almost sounded like Rose knew Mr. Wagner. Had known. I wasn't sure if he took the hint or not, since he only smiled wider, but he continued none-the-less. "I think you have a talent here, little Violet. Something I can work with quite productively, so to speak." The way he said it almost gave me the chillies. Almost. He came to stand in front of me with excitement and not to mention deep insanity in his hazel eyes, as he stared down at me. I realised he was nearly a full head taller than me. What was he saying again?  

 

"I would like you to express something for me. Several things, actually. And I'd like you to do it with no questions, no demur, and suddenly without any half-heartedness. Do you understand?"

 

I hesitated, not really sure what he meant. Did he want me to paint for him? Well whatever it was that he wanted me to help him with, I wasn't about to comply. But the intensity of his gaze was upsetting. Still, I unfolded my arms and reached down to grab the key in his hand. "Find another painter, there are more crazy ones out there that'll suit you just fine," I told him, trying to sound a calm and collected as possible. The truth was that I was indeed creeped out by the way he was looking at me, he didn't seem to blink at all. Then he smiled and stepped away, pulling the keys with him as he went.

 

"You suit me just fine, and that's a highly insensitive thing for you to say. But I'm sorry if I ever put you under the impression that alternatives were possible. But I guess it's easy to be misguided..." He looked absent-minded for a moment.  

 

"What are you saying?" I asked suspiciously. Rose's gaze became present again and he cocked his head to one side, watching me with a calculating look, before smiling knowingly. He was confusing me now, and he knew it. My head was pounding painfully again, and my heart was suddenly fluttering with excitement in my chest. I wasn't at all calm and collected now. "I'll take you to see your son now. And then we'll start tomorrow." "Start what?" I asked warily, doubting if I really wanted to know the answer.

 

But Rose merely waved his hand and opened the door for me with a smile--and this time it wasn't ghostly, it was genuinely wicked.

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