Red Rooms

There have been a chain of murders across central Manhattan. All the victims are teenage introverts, as described by their parents. Never going out, always contained within the same four walls, scrawling ironically through social media. Police are dumbfounded as to what caused the many deaths. Allegedly they were the repercussions of an internet link, but the men were apprehended. Investigator Carrie McKee has been fascinated by the mystery of the case itself, and takes it on with the few leads she has. Little does she know that she was entering into something far deeper than she had first anticipated, that could cost her things she never knew she had. This wasn't a small case. This was something global. It was all over the internet.

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3. Broken Bottles, Broken People.

September 12th, 2003 

 

'Carrie, I...I can't do this anymore.'

The whisky bottle glinted in reflection of the sun as it was thrust upward, before the golden honey-like liquid was gratefully received by a gaping mouth. Jason looked like a wreck, not a father, not himself. Carrie watched him with apprehension. She had known this was coming for a long time, yet the blow was no less severe. She slumped against a coffee table and focused on the analysis of her broken husband.

'Why are you backing out now?' She asked, bluntly. He didn't even turn to face her, or appeal to her with a response. Her back began to arch in frustration, tears prickling her eyelids. It felt like the man she'd once known had gone, leaving back a hollow shell. A hollow, drunken shell with little idea as to how his words scared her, his silence more so.

'You have a daughter. A four year old daughter, Jason. What the hell am I supposed to tell her? Carrie murmured, looking across at him in dismay. Her query was 'gratefully received' with another swig of the whisky bottle. Frustrated, she bolted upright.

'She doesn't...deserve this!' She screamed. 'Stop being so passive Jason! Your fucking abandoning your family! Your daughter!'

'It's not her fault her daddy's a fucking coward!'

'Yeah, and her mommy's a fucking prude.' Escaped Jason's lips, perhaps unintentionally, as he wavered on his feet. Carrie stopped instantly, feeling her body quake and her stomach turn over. Now she felt what it was like to be broken.

At that moment, Carrie felt it. She felt her heart break. She thought it already had, which made the pain so much worse. She felt her knees bow down to the weight of new burdens unfairly placed upon her. The self-depreciating idea that she wasn't worth any man, that even her husband wasn't happy. She began to shake; her body felt like it had gone numb and cold, quaking like a little kettle that had boiled. She too had seemingly fulfilled her purpose, and now had nothing left to give.

'Shit...Carrie, Carrie I'm so sorry.' Jason murmured. He slammed the bottle down against the window sill before taking his head in his hands.

'You know...You know how I feel about doing that stuff.' She whispered, her voice cracking with the weight of words she didn't want to speak, thoughts she didn't want to have. He looked down at her, his gaze laced with pity, and she cursed herself for giving him such an opportunity. Tears ran unwillingly down her cheeks, and she turned away, refusing to give him the satisfaction she believed he would get from it.

'Carrie...You can't, you can't expect me to be happy. We are never intimate, you never want to be intimate with me, when we do make love you refuse to expose anything you don't have to, and I see it in your eyes, every time we are in bed together, you're afraid I might make a move. Like...you'd just have to 'go with it', and it's never...'

'It's never something...you want.' He breathed, and Carrie could see he was also shaking. She felt a pang of guilt, some form of emotion, as she watched him recoil with his whisky bottle in the corner of the living room.

'Jason, I...you know this is hard for me I-'

'I remember you, you know.' Jason whispered, his gaze no longer having the confidence to meet hers. 'A confident, sexy woman, who loved me, at least enough to...want me in a way that you don't.'

'How can I be in love with this woman now?'

Tears rushed down her face once again, and Carrie too recoiled, trying to escape, trying not to think of herself in the tainted way she did now. Was she a horrible person? Should she have tried? The questions flooded in, turning to harsh statements. You are a horrible person. You never tried. She began to cry, cradling her broken body in a silent rhythm, letting every suppressed emotion bleed out, along with every 'I will always love you' and every 'I'm never, ever letting you go' bleed out with it, promises now broken, just like her. Jason just watched her break.

She collapsed at the foot of a shadow. A shadow of a once doting father, who cared, who loved, and did not expect, and would have died before letting her ever hear such words. She wasn't the only one who grew up. He played the role almost professionally, fooling her for four years.

Yet, she still ached to have him back.

'I miss that woman ever since Elin was born.' Jason whispered, cradling the whisky bottle before drawing another taste, his own means of escape. Carrie wanted to reach out to him, but remembered that he had not.

'Elin always reminds me of that woman...

...because she killed her.'

Carrie paused. 'Elin didn't do anything.' She cried, her lips quivering in rhythm to her quaking body. How could he accuse his own daughter of ruining a marriage that was imminently going downhill. How on earth could he negate such responsibility like that? Carrie firmed up, for her daughter's sake. Jason seemingly ignored her comment, infuriating her even more.

'You weren't into role play, okay I accepted that. Then you weren't comfortable fully exposing yourself to me. It was something I had to painfully get over but again, I accepted. Then it got to the point where you lost interest in touching me, desire to pleasure me or seduce me, anything sexual, like even the thought was a deterrent to you. Carrie how fucking shitty would you feel? Staring across the bed at your partner clung to the edge of the frame, on the outskirts of the mattress, too afraid to be near you anymore because they think that maybe you might try to hold them.'

'What a daunting idea that would be.' Jason spat, his eyes darkening as if the memories were being projected in front of him. Carrie could feel the tension in the air, and she began to feel afraid. He lifted the whisky bottle, draining its contents almost aggressively.

'Holding hands, teddy bears and "I love you's" can only stretch so far, Carrie, and I am fucking tired of accepting.' His body wavered significantly as he stood upright.

'All because of scars, that created more scars. I can't possibly love someone who doesn't want to be in-love with me.' Jason said. 'Not when I am constantly imagining her to be someone else, someone she used to be. I can't hold on to a ghost of a once intimate woman like that...I can't. I can't be in love with a thought, and that's all you are now.'

'Jason I'm so sorry, I-'

'Elin is a fucking regret, at least of mine.'

Carrie was immediately silenced; she choked on the words of apology she had been about to say before moving even further away from the hollow shell of a man. How dare he.

'Don't you dare fucking say that about her.' Carrie spat, watching Jason almost flinch.

She clenched her teeth, trying to suppress the tears and the pain, refusing to scream, forgetting every denial of love, denial of responsibility, everything. Her breaths came out quick and rapid, through the crevices between her teeth, quite monstrously. She forced herself to stand up.

'How dare you fucking blame her. You know I hate my body and I am sick of having to tell you. You act like I just don't want to sleep with you, when you know I can't...fucking...stand myself!' She wept, pulling her cardigan sleeves over her hand to shield her face on a wider scale. He didn't deserve the grace of her gaze, or the grace of a daughter.

'If it wasn't for those fucking pregnancy scars, which no one cares about by the way, then maybe things would have been different. Maybe you would love me. Are they really what is suppressing you or is it a fucking excuse, Carrie.'

'Jason..it was never an excuse.' Carrie protested. Evidently he wasn't convinced.

'Nah, I bet it fucking is, Carrie.' Jason almost sang, taking yet another drink. Carrie watched him drain the contents of the bottle, anxious as to what the effect would be.

'Because I bet...You're fucking Tom again, telling me it's 'the scars', when you're bouncing on his-'

Slap.

Jason almost fell over, glaring at her as he nursed the red mark making itself visible on the side of his face. He backed away.

'That is enough.' Carrie whispered.

'Oh no...it's not, sweet...scarred... wife.' Jason spat, reaching over to pick up the empty whisky bottle, which he smashed against the side of the windowsill. Glass fragments flew outwards, some prickled his skin but he simply brushed them off. He turned to face her, almost...smiling. He'd never drank so much. He wasn't Jason, anymore.

'Jason...Jason don't, you're drunk!' Carrie protested, backing away further into the coffee table.

'Not drunk...enough. If I was, maybe...' He laughed. 'Maybe this would be easier.'

Carrie saw no other way; she leapt towards the door, and Jason lunged for her. He collapsed drunkenly against the table, cursing in protest, his voice harsh and slurred.

'Fucking...bitch.' He retorted, as Carrie fumbled across the room, hastily turning the handle on the living room door.

Elin was asleep upstairs.

She had to get to her.

Swiftly she escaped into the corridor, before a huge weight crashed through the doorway and bound her against the wall, smelling of sweat and cheap liquor. Carrie screamed.

'Jason! This isn't you! Stop! Please! Help!' She wailed, fighting against the muscles keeping her pinned like a broach. She felt so frail and weak.

'No, it's not, it's what YOU turned me into!' He bellowed in her face, shaking subconsciously as he held her there. His rancid breath exhumed her; Carrie recoiled in disgust and continued to scratch and kick and hit, desperate yet futile attempts to be free. His muscles began to quake.

Suddenly, something bright and reflective caught her eye, before she felt a sharp pain across her hip. Almost like it was sliding downwards, getting deeper and more painful, like a vaccine, but worse. This was before the now bloodied whisky bottle was lifted from her waist and brought to her attention. Carrie just stared at Jason in muted panic, as she felt warm trickles of blood run their way down her thighs.

'Another scar, just for you.'

'Another excuse to disappoint a man.'

Carrie was absolutely terrified. Jason wiped the bloodied bottle against the side of his jeans, and as he did so Carrie took the opportunity to kick him as hard as she physically could, thrusting her foot up his open legs and escaping his grasp as he fell to his knees in agony. His cursing turned into aggressively inaudible slurs as she raced towards the staircase, holding onto her waist with one hand.

She lunged for Elin's bedroom door, grabbing the handle and almost gasping at the bloodied marks it left on the clean, polished brass. She let herself in and began to barricade the door with Elin's chest of drawers. The door had a little keyhole that was rarely taken advantage of, so it was likely the key would be somewhere around. Remarkably Elin was asleep, curled up like a kitten under her peppa pig duvet. Carrie didn't have time to awe at the sight; instead she pushed her daughter's moderately heavy wardrobe against the drawer set, before proceeding to hunt down the key. She could hear Jason fumble downstairs; she had limited time.

Carrie found the key on the floor amongst various dolls and pieces of plastic furniture. Quickly she pressed it inside the lock, turning it hastily and receiving a light click in confirmation, as the latch went through. She added some piles of heavy children's books onto the cupboard for any additional sense of security they might provide later on.

Jason had evidently got to his feet, and was approaching the stairs, Carrie thought.

She glanced towards her daughter's bed, before hearing the first of fourteen steps.

Jason took his time getting up them, drunkenly falling up several. More cursing followed by more steps. He was coming.

He was coming to hurt them both.  

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