Seeing Red

Paul is angrier than he's ever been: angry at his surroundings for having changed; angry at his family for being uncaring and abusive and angry at himself for deeper reasons. He is trapped, his life spiraling out of his own control and into the hands of others.

Then he finds the knife. The knife that allows you to kill once, twice, three times and more. Suddenly, he's got the power to change everything in his life, to unleash his anger on those deserving of it in a safe way that hurts no-one. After all, can something be said to have happened if no-one remembers it?

Paul's about to find out that every action has consequences. But before then, blood will flow...


2. Chapter Two

I have been gone for longer than I had previously thought, I find as I walk up the steps leading to the great double doors. All the removal vans, along with their assorted personnel, have vacated the premises, leaving only stirred-up gravel and long strips of discarded tape.

                The doors are heavy things of solid oak, six inches thick and as hard as a rock. They creak ominously as they open up on the dark, empty lobby of my new home. The polished marble floor, now scuffed by many boxes and pairs of footwear, dimly reflects some of the young moon’s light. I am somewhat dismayed yet unsurprised to see that a stack of containers are still in need of unpacking. Since nobody but me actually cares about organisation, none of the boxes are marked. Wonderful; I’ll have a field day tomorrow opening them all up only to find that the very last box is that which contains my belongings.

                The doors close with a muted crash accompanied by a complaining shriek from the ancient hinges. I glare at them. The light isn’t good at all – in fact, it’s all but nonexistent; what little illumination there is has to leak through the windows – but by it I see that, above the enormous antique ring handles that take pride of place, are fixed large metal brackets. I glance to the side. A large wooden plank leans against the corner.  It’s quite obviously a bolt. Jesus. What is this place, a medieval fort?

                I stand there and debate as to whether I should put it in place. After all of a minute, I grudgingly admit that perhaps being robbed of everything we own and bringing my family down on me like a pack of wolves would not be in my best interests, and heave the bar into place.

                Part of me – the sane part – screams in protest as I shed my jacket and hang it on a hat stand conveniently placed by the door, but I’m too tired to care. Travelling the best part of two hundred miles in a van in one day being yelled at by various relatives is very draining. Wearily, I trudge up the stairs and make my way up the stairs towards the reading room on the first floor.

                Despite having taken the trip there and back only a couple of hours beforehand, I take several wrong turns and end up facing a painting of some obscure nobleman, his sombre expression matching his surroundings perfectly. I have a good mind to take the painting down and burn it on the spot. It’s a loathsome thing; to call such a thing ‘art’ would be blasphemy.

                As I stare at the horrible canvas, I am struck by an unnerving thought; one that I am not at all happy with: I am going to have to face my father this evening. I subconsciously massage my shoulder. I haven’t forgotten why I went walkabout in the first place. It wasn’t just a sudden wanderlust. No, it wasn’t just that.

                I back out into the corridor and continue my journey, my morbid thoughts prowling after me, sticking to the shadows.

                The passages of Cromwell Hall are woefully lit. It could be likened to strolling through a house at night during a power cut if this were not precisely what it was. Twice I stub my toe on some badly-placed piece of furniture. It’s obscene; what call is there for a footstool by a doorway? Eventually, though, I come to a part of the house that actually appears to have been subjected to human contact in the past fortnight. There is a warm glow coming from the doorway directly ahead.

                I peer through the doorway cautiously, and from halfway back the hallway I spy the back of a tall armchair. It appears to be empty. Perhaps I’m in luck – maybe everyone’s passed on to the dining room for some form of food. I glance at my watch. The luminous dial tells me that yes; it is entirely likely that this is the case, as it is now half past five in the evening. I check myself – optimism has never gotten me anywhere in the past. Why start now?

                I step inside the room quietly; stop. Twisting my head, I survey the space. The reading room is a cosy place: two tall armchairs sit separated by a coffee table and facing a large fireplace. The fireplace is empty – the light’s illumination lent it by two lamps that stand in opposite corners of the room. The walls are lined with glass-fronted cases of books, the fabric of their covers showing how old they are. They all look the same – endless green and black volumes, golden script running down their spines denoting the title. A threadbare rug covers the floor, hiding the floorboards. The rug matches the upholstery – simple, old and faded, no doubt brought back from lands far from here, though I can think of no place more remote than this estate.

                I find myself scanning the room again; I am sure that there is something here that simply doesn’t fit. I find it on the coffee table. It sticks out like a sore thumb.

                On the coffee table is a car magazine. My eyes narrow. Where that magazine goes, its owner can’t be more than five feet away. And that must mean that he is right here, in this room, with me. I try to back out of the reading room slowly, hoping that I remain undetected. I reach the doorway. One more step, and I’m free.

                Needless to say, it’s the one step that eludes me.

                “Where’ve you been?” asks a voice. It’s a harsh, grating sound that worms its way inside my skull. The very sound stirs the rage; rouses it from its deep within. I grimace. I can tell that this encounters going to end up a barrel of laughs. Yes, but for whom? I wonder.

                “Around,” I reply, as casually and as levelly as possible. “I decided I’d check out the house. It’s a big place, you know.” I shouldn’t antagonise him, but I can’t resist it.

                The chair nearest to me shifts as its occupant removes himself from its confines. Into view comes a man: relatively tall, muscular and undoubtedly my father. People always say that the resemblance is striking – the similarly sharp features, the high cheekbones, the piercing eyes. I hate to have to look like him, to be reminded of my relation to the man whenever I look in the mirror. I’m reminded why as he takes a step closer.

                “Cut the bull, kid. I know you’ve been screwing around the house, and the grounds. But this is my house, my grounds. I inherited this estate, and you aren’t going to dirty it with your touch. You hear me?”

                I turn to go, ignoring his abuse. It irks me how inheriting an estate the size of a county suddenly makes him think he’s a Lord.

                I take the step that was so elusive before, but the escape and safety it promised have evaporated like the morning dew under the noonday sun.

                “Hey! Look at me when I’m talking to you.”

                I take a deep breath and exhale slowly, allowing the anger to bleed into the vapour. It doesn’t do much to quell the wish to strangle this loathsome man here and now, but it stops me translating the thought into action. I turn back to him. He’s got a triumphant little smile on his face, a cruel device with which he taunts me further.

                “You’re living in my house, buddy,” he says, and steps forward. He smells of a day’s stale sweat and cheap aftershave. There it is: the hint of alcohol in his breath. He’s been drinking again. How much has he had - one bottle or two? He’s been in at the fool’s courage again, and he’s trying his luck here. “When you live in my house, I demand respect. You aren’t giving me that respect.”

                I lock eyes with him. “Well,” I say, my voice low, “perhaps respect needs to be earned.”

                All of a sudden we’re face to face, eye to eye. He sneers, an ugly expression that displays his yellowing teeth. I can see the stubble coming up through his skin, the crust in the corners of his eyes from when he’s slept, the-

                All of a sudden I am on the floor, gasping for breath. I double up wheezing, and I twist my head to see my father standing over me, a cruel smile on his face. He unclenches his fist slowly, relishing the feeling. Perverted pleasure sparkles in his eyes.

                “You think you can mess with me and get away clean,” he lectures, “but you can’t. You’re all bark and no bite. You’re weak! And the weak bow down to the strong.”

                He turns away from me, and I feel like a piece of rubbish – trashed, discarded, abandoned. I glare daggers into his back, but the power of metaphor pales in comparison to that of the physical. I hate my father with every fibre of my being; every thought a condemnation of him and his actions. And it’s so much worse knowing that he can make me feel so small with but a pump of a fist or the blow of a palm.

                “Get out of my sight,” he spits, rounding on me. I feel an inclination to rebel stir in my chest, but I know that I cannot defend against further attack. If I couldn’t stop his first punch – a lazy, sluggish low blow as it was – then how can I stop anything more? It’s simply not worth it.

                I pick myself up painfully and slowly leave the room, gritting my teeth. The pain is great in my abdomen. I wonder if I’ll be passing blood as well as water tonight. But the pain’s made all the greater by the fact that I cannot stand up to my father. Oppressive, abusive and drunk as he is, I cannot escape him.

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