Slayer’s Lullaby – Part 3

von Martin Trappen

“Gregory, come over here, I need your help with the petunias,” his grandpa called to him. He was a kind old man with white hair and a long beard. At Christmas he always put on the red suit and hat to lay the gifts under the tree the night before Christmas. He also talked to him in the disguise, pretending to be Santa. Greg already knew that Santa wasn’t real. He didn’t mind, though. He loved his grandpa too much too ruin his fun. If he enjoyed it, he would never rob him of that joy. “Coming, Papa!” That’s what he always called him. It wasn’t father and it wasn’t dad, but he couldn’t just call him grandpa, either. He had cared for him as long as he could remember. Greg put on his hat and the gardening gloves. You had to be sure to be protected while working in the sun, after all. Papa had taught him that. He walked down the few steps into the back yard and stood next to the kind old man.

“I’m here, what do you need?” he asked, trying his best to sound like a grownup.

“Well, big guy, grab a watering can and water those two rows of petunias over there while I take care of the other two.” He liked how he called him big guy. Everyone else kept calling him little guy. But he wasn’t little anymore. He was already 8 years old! He went over to the green watering can and began filling it with the garden hose.

“Have you thought of yet what you want to be when you are older, Gregory?”

“Yes! I want to be a fireman or a policeman! Fighting fires or bad guys! They’re so awesome!”

“Are they now? Well, son, I have to tell you that these professions are very dangerous.”

“I know. But they walk right into danger without fear! I want to be like that, too!”

“Believe me, they are afraid, just like you and I would.”

“No way! They are too brave to be scared!”

“Being brave doesn’t mean that you’re not afraid. It means doing something even though you are afraid.”

“That doesn’t make any sense. When I’m afraid I can’t do anything.”

“You’ll have to learn it, then. Otherwise, how will you face a roaring fire? Or a bad guy with a gun?”

“You’re right, Papa. But you can show me how to do that, can’t you? You fought for the army, right? Shot all kinds of bad guys?”

“I was with the Marines. And I didn’t shoot anyone unless I had to.”

“Had to? Can’t you always choose?”

“Not if you want to survive. Sometimes it is either you, or the enemy.”

“That sounds terrible! I thought it was all fun in the army. That’s what Mr. Hayes always says.”

“Is that what he’s told you? In that case, maybe you shouldn’t see him anymore.”

“What? No! I like him! I want to hear more stories from him! About the damn krauts! And how you kicked all their asses!”

“What was that, Greg? I don’t ever want to hear you say something like that again, do you understand?”

“No, Papa. What’s wrong about that?”

“You shouldn’t say things you don’t understand!”

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to upset you!” Why was he talking so loud? His grandfather never got angry like that.

“Well, now you did! What are you going to do about it?”

“Wha- What do you mean?”

“I mean, what are you going to do when someone gets mad at you? Which will happen if you use words like the ones you just said.”

“I…don’t know.”

“You don’t know? Then how can you be a fireman or policeman? Not to mention a soldier?”

“I never…”

“You never expected to face tough questions? Buckle up, son, you’ll have to sooner or later.”

“I’ll be tough one day!” he said stubbornly. “I will, I will, I will!”

“Saying it over and over won’t make it true.”

“What?” He almost sobbed now, fighting the tears at the corners of his eyes. “Why are you being so mean?”

“I’m only telling you the truth. A little crybaby like you can’t protect anyone. You can only watch as innocent people around you are hurt and die.”

“What?” he sniffed, tears rolling down his cheeks. “How can you say that?”

“See, that’s exactly what I mean. You can’t help anyone. Crying is all you’re good for.”

“No!” he cried.

“I wouldn’t want to be near you when trouble starts. You would only make it worse.”

“No!” he repeated.

“Just like that girl back there. Without you she may never have come here. And would be alive now.”

“She’s not dead!”

“That’s just a matter of time. Everyone around you suffers and dies eventually. That’s why your parents left. I am dead, too, remember. That’s all your fault!”

“Noooooooo!”

 

****Cut****

 

He woke screaming from the nightmare only to fall into a new one. His right side burned, his back ached, and his head felt as if there was a jackhammer inside it. He reached for his stomach only to draw his hand back covered in blood. What? Why am I injured? Clenching his teeth he pushed himself up to look at the wound. A knife was stuck in it. While it hurt like hell, the blade also kept back the blood for now, if he remembered his medical training correctly. He checked the rest of his body: There were several little cuts and slashes on his hands. That, the pounding in his head, and his aching back were pretty harmless. The stab was a different matter, though. If he didn’t find something to safely remove the knife, stop the bleeding and dress the wound, he would not survive for long. He knew how to treat his own injuries, but he needed the proper supplies.

“The house. Check the house.”

What the hell was that? That voice didn’t seem to come from anywhere in particular. Had it sounded inside his head? As if there wasn’t more than enough going on in there already. Gritting his teeth, he propped himself up against a nearby tree. As he looked around, he remembered the mansion, the forest, the monster. He remembered the girl. Rose. Yes, of course. She had wanted to come here, to look for her friend. Martin, right, that was his name. He’s dead. I saw his body. No, hadn’t that just all been one horrible nightmare? The wound was most certainly real, as was the pain. Did this actually happen? No, no, it couldn’t! It’s not possible! The burning in his gut told him otherwise. If it was all true, it meant Rose was in unspeakable danger. What in god’s name was that thing?

He had to enter the mansion again. Grunting in pain he pushed himself to his feet, using the tree trunk for support. Step by step he made his way back toward the building. Behind the line of trees the sun was hanging low already. A look at his watch told him that it was almost four o’clock. He had been out for nearly two hours. As he approached the house, the memories came rushing back to him. He had fought the monster. And lost. What am I thinking? Monster? Nonsense! The Spencer Estate looked similarly broken from the back: The roof was collapsed in several places, almost all of the windows were broken, paint and panels of wood coming off the walls. Looking at the shattered glass, he remembered that he had been flung through a window. That explained the cuts on his hands. Fortunately, his leather west and old military pants had protected his legs and upper body, and, apparently, he’d had the common sense to pull in his head. All his training had not been for nothing, then.

As he stepped into the ravaged salon, he could not detect any danger. He noticed Martin’s corpse and was again shocked at how much it had been disfigured. As his gaze swiveled right, he saw Rose, lying motionless on the floor. His heart almost stopped. Ignoring the pain in his belly, he rushed towards her and knelt down. He reached for her neck and breathed a sigh of relief as he felt her pulse strong and steady beneath his fingers. Her regular breathing confirmed that she was sleeping or unconscious. With the cold grip of fear gone, the burning in his gut reminded him that he was in a worse condition than her. The murderer, the monster, whatever it was, could be lurking around every corner. But Briggs had to find some medical supplies and he could not carry her in his current state. He had to leave her there for the moment. Pushing himself back to his feet in agony, he thought about his options: He doubted the dining room or kitchen would contain anything useful. Considering the layout of the mansion, the door straight ahead would only lead back to the entrance. There were stairs up to the second floor, but he did not feel up to climbing them.

“Left. The door on the left.” He shook his head. What was that? Was this voice real? Did it want to help him? He could not believe he was even thinking this. It didn’t matter. Left was the only sensible way to go. He slowly hobbled over to the door and stepped through. It had been neither closed nor locked. He thought he saw a few musical instruments but didn’t pay much attention to them.

“Left. Left.” The whisper again. Was it getting louder? He followed it this time without hesitation, left around a corner once and then left once more. Finally he saw it: The snake and winged staff. He rushed to it as fast as he could and burst into the room behind. He was standing in an infirmary. Thank god. While far removed from modern standards, he could only hope that it contained everything he needed. He quickly opened the nearest cabinet. Lucky for a change. Inside was morphine. He took it out along with a syringe. A search through the remaining cabinets and drawers got him some disinfectant, a coagulant, clamps, several rolls of bandages as well as needle and thread.

He lay down on one of the beds and was about to inject himself with a dose of morphine, when he realized he could not use it. He needed to keep his head clear. Instead of any painkillers he took the sheath of his knife off his holster and bit down on it. He took a deep breath, and pulled the knife out of his gut. He clamped it shut quickly to avoid loss of blood. He then disinfected the wound, cleaned it, and began carefully sewing himself back together. Stitch by stitch he closed the cut in his flesh and felt his side burn a little less. He’d been shot in the stomach once before and remembered it felt much worse. Assuming that his internal organs remained undamaged, he finished his needle work and dressed the wound. He took care of his fingers next, but the cuts were all minor. Some disinfectant and a few bandages was all it took. Once he was done, he let himself slump.

His head and back still hurt and so did his fingers, but he felt less dizzy and the burning was weaker. Even so, he knew what he needed next: Water and something to eat. When he felt strong enough he got up. He noticed the knife he’d dropped on the floor. It was his own. That fact had eluded him before, but he’d had more pressing matters on his mind. He picked it up, cleaned it, and put it back in its sheath. As he left the infirmary he saw that the room he had crossed had indeed been a music room of sorts: a piano, a harp, and two violins he spotted, all of which were broken. Loose pages were strewn around the tables, chairs, and all over the floor. With a broken window, loose floorboards, and ripped wallpaper, the room looked every bit as wrecked as the rest of the mansion. As he strolled between the music stands, hands still clutching his side, an earlier observation came back to him. While there was dirt and dust, Briggs could see no grass or moss, nor were there any critters scurrying across the floor. Nothing that lived ever came here. Except for himself, Rose, Martin, and a few other blind fools. Animals and plants, it seems, have more common sense than people. He approached the end of the room, trying his best to remain focused despite his grumbling stomach.

“Will you hurry up already?!” What the…? Had that been his own thought? Or had someone put it there? It felt like it was a bit of both. Had that voice not just been his mind playing tricks on him on account of pain and blood loss? Briggs approached the nearest door. In the room beyond was even more art: Paintings, statues, busts, and even suits of knight’s armor along with a whole range of medieval weaponry. Briggs stopped dead in his tracks as he saw a woman’s body pinned to a wall with a rusty sword.

“A fitting end, really. Considering how much she loved all this.” Now that voice I didn’t imagine! Again it had sounded inside his head. At least he could not have told where it had come from. “No, you’re not imagining things. Come over here.” Either he was hallucinating or whatever voice he heard could not only speak inside his head, but also read his mind. Dumbstruck, he turned his head left and right, trying to find something that could have produced the words. He started to walk toward the windows when he heard it again.

“No, the next room! Come on, I don’t have all day!” Whatever it was, it seemed mad now. Unsure whether that was a good or a bad thing, he turned away from the paintings and statues. A heap of broken wood on the floor was all that remained of the door. Come on, think, man! There has to be an explanation for all this. Your worry for Rose is affecting your judgement. Your hearing was impaired by the crash through the window. The voice is simply someone calling to you from the next room, you just can’t tell the direction. There are no ghosts, no disembodied voices, it has to be inside your head.

“You’re not wrong,” he heard as he stepped through the open doorway. “Just because it is inside your head does not mean it is not real.” There was nobody there. As beads of sweat trickled down his temples, he noticed he was in a bar, the counter to his left, several doors opening onto a porch straight ahead and one more door leading back to the entrance, if the map inside his head had not been scrambled.

“No, it’s intact.” Whatever it was, it was echoing his thoughts.

“How do you know?” Briggs asked into the empty room. Either there was someone or something willing to speak with him, or he was now the crazy one. In which case talking to himself was perfectly normal.

“Because, as you have already correctly assumed, I can look inside your mind. It’s all a bit shaken up, but in perfect working order.”

“Who are you? Where are you? What are you doing inside my head?”

“Oh, the big ‘W’-questions. Can we skip over them, please? There are so many more interesting topics to talk about.”

“Such as?”

“Such as, you need something to eat. Look into the backpack.” Over all the worry about his sanity, he had almost forgotten the hole in his stomach. He hobbled over to it, still feeling a slight sting with each step.

“It must’ve belonged to Martin,” Briggs said out loud.

“Precisely. He encountered the unpleasant occupant of this house a bit sooner than you and your girl. He dropped his bag as he suddenly appeared in front of him, all tall and bloody.” Briggs listened while he put the backpack on the counter, opened it, and started rummaging through it. He thanked god as he produced two sandwiches, one with ham and cheese and one with bologna, several power bars, and a large bottle of water. “He came here looking for his family. Rather ironic, seeing as they are all long dead. But not quite gone yet,” the voice continued, not paying attention to him at all, it seemed. Martin hadn’t made the sandwiches himself, they were store-bought. Since they were vacuum packed and filled with preservatives, it was even better. He took a careful sip of water first, then bit into the ham-and-cheese-sandwich. He knew he had to take it slow. It was easy to greedily gulp down when parched and hungry, but you ran the risk of choking or overburdening your stomach.

“In here he fumbled around with his camera before Sir Neckless appeared. I never saw anyone empty their bowels so quickly. It was quite entertaining.” Chewing slowly, Briggs looked over the table. He could not see the camera, but it had to be around here somewhere. “Just like the curious monkey he was, he marched in here without a care. What did he expect, a warm welcome? His mother embracing him and his father clapping him on his shoulder? ‘Welcome home, son. We have been waiting a long time for you.’” The voice was dripping with sarcasm. Briggs unwrapped one of the power bars and began to eat, faster now as his stomach was prepared for it. He sipped the water in between bites to supply fluids and nutrients to his body equally.

“By the way, you are the first to survive an encounter with him. You should be proud. It is truly remarkable how he now rules here, especially considering how he came to be here.” Finishing off the second power bar, he flushed it down with a bit of water and put the other two in his pocket for later. He felt much better already. He bent down to look at the camera.

“If I want to pick up this camera, will you stop me?” Briggs asked.

“What?” The voice seemed taken aback. “No, of course not. Why would I? Besides, I could not even if I wanted to.” That was an interesting bit of information. Was it true, or just a trick to get him to relax? “No trick, I promise. Just go ahead, take a look.” Uneasily, he picked the camera up and looked it over. It was a fairly recent model: Sony camcorder. The tape inside seemed to be about half full. He rewound it to the start and folded out the display. It was cracked, but still working. A press of the ON-Switch revealed that there was still battery life remaining. “So eager to see poor Martin’s last moments in this world?” Briggs started the tape.

On the screen he saw the way to the mansion’s front gate. Martin struggled to open the heavy metal gate, put down the camera and still could not move them. He took a few feet of rope out of his backpack; threw it over the wall; put the camera in his coat pocket. The screen was black, but still recorded sound. He could hear Martin breathe heavily as he climbed. “As I said, quite the little monkey.” A particularly strained grunt was followed by the thud of boots on soft earth. Martin took the camera out and resumed filming.

He approached the front door carefully. It looked as if it took all his strength to move the oaken door. His backpack clearly hindered him and he put it down. After the door was open, he just took it into his free hand and entered the mansion. Inside he saw the chandelier immediately. It was impossible to miss, after all. Briggs noticed the place looked exactly as it did when he had entered it. As he thought back, he estimated that it had taken Martin longer to get to the entrance. No wonder, he had to climb the wall and push the doors open. “You’re thinking right,” the voice cut in, “our friend always waits a bit before he attacks. That’s why poor Martin did not get as far as you did.”

Briggs tried to focus on the video again. Martin circled the chandelier just as they had. When he spotted the dead body beneath the twisted metal, he almost dropped the camera. He appeared to stumble back and eventually hit a wall. He broke into a run but instead of heading back out, he rushed into the bar. Briggs hardly had time to look at it before the same shriek that he now knew preceded the madman’s attack cut through the air. Even on tape it made his blood curl. Martin turned around to catch sight of the thing stomping towards him. He did drop the camera now, the display cracking as it hit the floor. The Backpack also slipped from his fingers an instant before an invisible fist slammed into him, finging the hapless fool into the art room. Strangely, the door had already been open. “Yes, that has been broken for decades. Did it myself, actually,” the voice came back.

“You broke that door? Why?”

“It wasn’t intentional, if that’s what you mean. Ohh, who am I kidding? Of course it was!” The words were followed by a laugh that made the hairs on Brigg’s neck stand up. Again, he heard it all inside his head, constantly making him doubt his own sanity. Finally, the cackle stopped.

“Ah yes, good times. I quite enjoyed taking my father’s house apart. Not as much as I enjoyed taking him apart, obviously!” There was another chuckle, unnerving Briggs even more.

“So, are you a Spencer? Was Martin a member of your family?”

“Oh yes. And what a family it was! My sweet sister and my buffoon of a brother. Mingling together. And they produced him.”

“A child between siblings?”

“Yes. Disgusting, isn’t it? And they dared calling me perverted!” Briggs had a feeling they had all been right. He went through Grace’s story in his mind again. Assuming what she had said was true, and taking this voice into account, Martin was a Spencer child, the product of incest worst of all. If the voice once had a sister and brother, there was only one person that could be.

“So, you’re Timothy Spencer, then?” There was silence for a few moments. It had not expected that. When he heard the voice again, it sounded mad, disappointed. Like it had had an argument with itself. And lost.

“Alright, you know a thing or two about my family. I should have killed that fucking nanny when I had the chance, but I completely forgot about her while I cut my father into little pieces. It certainly was an absorbing task.” Why does that not surprise me?

“So, you kill your family, destroy the house you grew up in, and turn it into a death trap. How did you end up as a disembodied voice?”

“How about you figure it out yourself? I thought you were a detective?” Briggs smiled.

“Asking questions is the main part of the job.”

“Fuck your questions.”

“I see. You’re a bad loser.”

“You should be careful messing with a force you do not understand.”

“I understand you couldn’t harm a fly.”

“I could kill you if I wanted to!”

“Then go ahead.” Silence again. Tim really was just a voice now. He could not do a damn thing.

“What do you want?” He had given up, it seemed.

“Rescue Rose, of course.”

“Ah yes, the pretty girl. I pegged you for a more original fellow,” Tim said in a flat tone.

“Nothing wrong with the classics. What about you?”

“What about me what?” The voice sounded curious now.

“What do you want?”

“What makes you think I want anything?” Was that irritation he heard?

“You started talking to me. Unless you just expected a charming conversation, you have got to be after something,” Briggs ventured a guess. “If I can get it for you, I will.”

“She’s special to you.” It wasn’t a question. “Only you’re not sure what kind of special.”

“Leave my thoughts alone!” Briggs yelled, unsure why the other’s question provoked such a strong reaction. “Just say it: Can we help each other or not?”

“You really want her back.” He chuckled. “Ah well, I can’t be bored for another decade. Besides, the faster I get rid of you two, the better.”

“Alright, so what do I do?”

“Shut up and listen. And then we shall see if you are as much of a fool as I think.”

 

********

 

Rose looked peaceful, lying there in front of him. He had tried to wake her, but she’d kept on sleeping, her chest rising and falling in a steady rhythm. He was reminded of a certain fairy tale involving seven dwarfs as he watched her. Was she really sleeping, though?

“I would not call it that, exactly.”

“What would you call it, then?”

“I’m not sure how to explain it to you.”

“I’m an idiot, remember? Put it as simple as possible.”

“That’s not the point, although that is an amusing thought.” Tim snickered. “I cannot truly explain it because you lack the gift. Without it, even the smartest man on earth could not comprehend the complex workings of an ascended mind.”

“Come again?”

“It’s what I like to call it. It’s a unique power of the mind, one that you do not possess.”

“But you do? As do Rose and that guy we fought against, I assume?”

“Precisely. I cannot gauge your girl’s strength, but his was frightening.”

“Yet you defeated him?”

“Neither of us won. We just ended up killing each other.”

“A draw, then. Who is that guy, anyway? He had to have been a normal human being at some point.”

“People like us are so far from normal, Gregory. But yes, he was…more intact once. His name was Eric Burton and he came here to save his girl. Not unlike you.”

“You had taken his girl?”

“Not just her. Several people from town. You’re thinking I preferred women, but really the sex never mattered to me. Once I started my knife’s work, the differences between male and female were gone.”

“That was a regular thing, then?” Briggs did not want to hear the details, but he was afraid he would have to.

“Not for very long, unfortunately. I only started after I had taken care of my family. I had just learnt that I could torture their minds as well as their bodies. Pull out their worst memories, their deepest fears, make them live a nightmare they could never escape.”

“Sounds fun.”

“Doesn’t it? But I had hardly enjoyed myself when Eric burst in and ruined it all. I have to say, though, the fight against him was exhilarating. If only it hadn’t come with such a high price.”

“Where’s Eric now?”

“Why he’s right in front of you.” Briggs didn’t get it. Was it a joke? “Oh come on now, do I have to spell out everything for you?”

“You might have to.”

“Fine,” Tim sounded annoyed, “simply put, Eric has been trapped by your girl. She caught him inside her own mind.”

“What? How’s that possible?”

“As I said, you wouldn’t understand. But I’m sure you have seen many things today that you had not thought possible before. Someone entering another person’s mind cannot seem that strange to you anymore.”

“Maybe, if it was just another person. But it’s a person that should be dead.”

“Ah, my dear Gregory, you are still thinking death is final. You must open your mind! It is capable of so much more than mere thoughts.”

“Alright.” Briggs couldn’t even guess what that meant and he gave up on asking. “If she trapped him, why is she unconscious as well?”

“I can only assume that she sprung the trap too late. Got caught in it herself.”

“Great.” His head was starting to swim. “Is there anything we can do?”

“Oh, I’m sure of it. Every problem can be solved. I need to look something up, though.”

“What, you want me to take you to the nearest library?”

“Precisely. Don’t worry, it is not far. Just up the stairs and to the right. Do you mind if we make a quick detour to check on my father’s remains?”

 

********

 

Briggs stepped back out onto the salon’s second floor. He felt sick and wanted to support himself on the broken rail, but he was afraid it would give way. “I thought you were made of sterner stuff. You’ve seen war, after all. Why does this give you trouble?” There was no point explaining to Tim the moral issue patricide presented. Why he had even agreed to look into Francis Spencer’s study was beyond him. On the way they had passed Valery’s room as well. Tim had skinned his sister alive and tied her to the wall opposite a big mirror, so she’d had to watch herself suffer. “Trust me, she deserved it,” Tim had said, “She was so absorbed with her looks. I couldn’t fucking stand it anymore!” Just like the woman in the art room, the mother, Briggs now assumed, and the unrecognizable remains underneath the chandelier ─ Tim’s brother William, most likely ─ the father and sister’s bodies had hardly decomposed, as even the bacteria responsible for that apparently avoided the mansion like the plague.

“The world is better off without them, believe me. They were all just wastes of skins. My sister especially. I had to do something about that, didn’t I?”

“If you say so,” was all Briggs could muster.

“Don’t worry about it, you wouldn’t have liked them anyway. They’re not the warm, welcoming kind, like me. God, my mother just had to put these paintings everywhere!” Tim’s moods changed quickly. Most if his questions were rhetorical, Briggs believed. He didn’t expect an answer, or at least didn’t listen if one was given. I guess that’s to be expected of a maniacal sadist. The various pieces of art were surefire triggers for an angry rant. His complaint was always the same: He wanted to kill his mother all over again. “Oh, how I enjoyed the day I finally got to pin her against the wall! With a piece of her own collection, no less! Come on, Gregory, you have got to love the irony. I sure do!”

Briggs listened with increasing disgust as he walked toward the door that would finally lead to the library. Could I actually be talking to Timothy Spencer, a man who’s been dead for 30 sears? And if I am, what is he up to? Could he be working together with the creature Rose caught? Could they be one and the same? And if so, is he trying to lure me into a trap?

“My brother came first, you know. Confronted me about how I should help our father on his plans for revenge. I politely told him to go fuck himself. When he started pushing me ─ with his mind, I hadn’t known he could do that ─ I pushed back. Then I saw the chandelier, and my imagination practically did the rest.” Tim just kept on rambling. Apparently, he’s not paying attention to my thoughts during his monologues. Briggs made a mental note of that. “Then came my mother. She had heard the crash and came running. She turned and ran right back as soon as she saw the blood. I went after her and caught her among her precious artwork. It was over quickly. I didn’t really get to savor the kill, but at least it was very satisfying, knowing I would never have to listen to her babble about art ever again.”

“My sister came next. I knew my father was in his study and on my way I passed her room. Her door was open and, as usual, she was standing in front of that giant mirror, admiring her own reflection. She was so lost in her looks she hadn’t heard the fight, the chandelier crash or my mother screaming. I’ll be honest, Gregory, I lost my usual calm temper. I went in, nailed her to the wall and peeled off her skin, little by little. I could take my time, since my father’s study was soundproof and he used to stay in there for hours. He didn’t want anyone interrupting him. No one ever did. Except me that day.”

“Is this the right door?” Briggs asked. He could almost hear the dead lunatic’s irritation. When he spoke again, he seemed a bit angry that he’d been ripped out of his remembrance.

“Yes.” Briggs opened the door into a dark room lined with bookshelves. “The book should be all the way in the back.” He navigated along the shelves, uncomfortable memories of his school days surfacing. He’d hated studying. Hated the hours of reading, staring at the same page. “Where did I leave off? Oh, right, my father. Now I really saved the best for last, my friend. I cannot put into words how much the look on his face as I violated his sanctum pleased me. Of course, I violated a lot more, but what could my words do what the actual sight of the hundred little bits and pieces of him haven’t done already? I have a feeling that, much like me, you will never forget what you’ve seen in my father’s study.”

“You’re right. I won’t.”

“As I thought.” Did he not notice the sarcasm?

“We’re here. What am I looking for?

“Oh, yes: A rather large volume, brown cover, golden letters. The Travels of Sir Wallace James Spencer, 1834-1846. A bit boring as I recall, which is why I never finished it.”

Briggs spotted the book. He took it off the shelf and put it onto the nearby table. “That was quick. I must say, your mind is pretty slow, but your eyes work splendidly. Open page 234. I know all that happens before that.” He did as he was told. Page 234 wasn’t even near the middle of the book. “Now, give me a few seconds per page, then turn it over.” If he’s that fast, fine by me. “Yes. Mhm. Next. Turn. Go on. Good.” Tim kept commenting absent-mindedly, telling Briggs when to turn the page. Despite the sped-up reading it went on for what felt like hours. As Briggs looked out the windows he saw that the sun had almost set. He was getting a bit sleepy when a scream in his mind ripped him out of it abruptly.

“Yes! I knew it! I knew that was how to get that bastard!”

“Would you share your wisdom?” Briggs asked, yawning.

“The knife, you fool, the knife!”

“What knife?” he asked, rubbing his eyes.

“Which one do you think? The one I cut him open with!”

“Right, you cut Eric’s throat. How does a knife help us safe Rose?”

“He is connected to that blade! With it, we can carve him out of your friend!”

“Hold on. You don’t mean to actually cut into her?”

“Of course not. How could you think that of me, Gregory?” How, oh how could I?

“Does it have to do with that ‘gift’ again?”

“Precisely. For anyone who possesses it, thoughts can become real. And if it’s real, it can be cut.”

“Cutting her thoughts? Doesn’t sound like a good idea.”

“Oh there’s no doubt it will be painful. But is a madman inside her head preferable?”

“Fine. Where is that damn knife?”

“In my very favorite place.”

 

To be continued…

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