London, August, 2013
The door opens only a crack at first, snapping away from the frame like the last gasp of an asphyxiated lover. It seems this entrance hasn’t been used in years. He presses a gloved palm to its face and gently pushes the door.
Filth and grime peel away, stripping the paint from the rotting wood. It swings inwards as if trying to escape his gaze. Vicious green eyes, filled with contempt, stare down the dank hall before him.
His mind is a constant rage, and endless conversation, but outwardly he is calm. There is a part of himself somewhere in this horrid place that he doesn’t want to scare away. It has held him captive for so long. At the end of the road, he thinks, he can finally release it.
He moves now, stepping quietly into the rear hall. He hears a low rumbling through the wall. Taking three brisk steps forward he quickly and silently opens the door and enters the room without hesitation, closing the door like a ghost behind him.
A laundry, the dryer spinning lazily around. The room is humid and smells like melting polyester. He winces slightly, though it is not the worst thing he’s ever inhaled. A memory surfaces, and he swats it away with a stray flick of the wrist.
All around him is filth. The walls are stained yellow with nicotine. Dirty clothes are scattered and strewn about, hanging over open cupboards filled with household chemicals of all sorts, labels he doesn’t recognise. This fucking city. Hell, this fucking country. There was a hopelessness about this place, and it made him depressed like nothing else on earth. Turning, he moves back towards the door, past a thoughtlessly discarded robe made of cheap
Amsterdam, November, 2008
Red velvet in half-light. Lanterns tuned to but a fine spark amongst the dim, skilfully posed, imitating a time when electricity was the newest thing. Darkness, intoxicating. The sounds of moaning, screaming, shaking bed posts, nails chiming on the rims of crystal flutes, coming at him from all directions. He feels like a child lost in a maze, and for a moment he strokes the walls like he’s brushing the fog from a mirror. A strange smell, somehow exhilarating. His other hand snaps the lighter in his left pocket. The thumb of his right hand presses to the tip of the blade in his right. A little blood in the pocket now. No one will know until it’s time to play.
She appears, the Mistress, welcoming him, leading him along the hall. He lets her guide him. Let her think she’s in control. That’s Michelle, she says, gesturing weakly to a door as they pass. She’s busy, but not for long. But you look a bit like you like the rough stuff, am I right?
Perceptive, he replies, dully.
Busy night, she says, obviously lying. Unless you want a boy. We have those too. Young ones mostly.
How young? He asks.
Depends, she replies. How young is too young?
Good question. How young would they have to be to drive me to murder you, he thinks. He can feel the anger, the disgust, rise in his throat, but he chokes it down, silently.
Misty, he says. She stops, politely. Busy! She says this as nice as she can. Everyone wants Misty, she says. But I’ve got something even better!
Misty, he repeats. She looks annoyed. He doesn’t care.
Busy, she says again, having none of it.
But she will have it, if he says so, and he does, without a word. He takes his thumb, scarlet and bloody, pressing it to her skin just under her eye. Her makeup smears, her face contorts with revulsion. She’s scared, but she doesn’t flinch. She knows better. She knows the score. He
Melbourne, April, 1994
Follows him through the forest, away from the mansions, away from the tended grounds. Now they are out in the forest. But everything is so spread out. The rain beats down upon him.
“Jasper!” he yells at the obscure shape in the fog just ahead of him.
“Move it!” the kid cries, not looking back. “It’s...
Amsterdam, November, 2008
This way, she says. And she leads him, quickly but trying not to appear in a rush, to show her fear. She wants to wash her face, badly, and she wants this moment to end. She wants to drop her head into a sink full of turpentine. Who knows what parasites the sick fuck carries in his blood.
She raps on the door. There’s a voice, and the Mistress replies. The conversation is pretty much as he expects. I’m busy. Don’t care. Come back in ten. Now bitch. No. Get him off or get him out. Fuck you. No, fuck you. On it goes for a time. He pretends not to listen, and in his indifference it becomes real. It takes a while, but finally the door opens.
The pathetic creature who exits, half dressed and barely spent, looks angry for a moment. But there’s this boy, and his face is enough to end an argument before it begins. And this chick has blood for mascara, what the fuck is that about? The customer nudges past and moves down the hall to the foyer. He disappears behind a velvet curtain, of course, and Vernon looks back towards the door, at the
London, August, 2013
Shit everywhere. This is what apartments look like when squatters are chased out into the night by anonymous flashlights and yelling voices. They don’t stop for anything, not even each other. Vernon flinches at the stain on a wall that vaguely resembles a face. It stinks in here. But in this city it stinks most everywhere.
He comes out of the rear hall and stands in something that might have been a dining room. In one corner is a pile of hair. Who keeps hair? He wonders, unconsciously shaking his head in bewilderment. And then he spies the crucifix, hanging on the wall above the fireplace that’s filled with what looks like clumps of toilet paper smeared with shit.
Are toilets really that difficult? He thinks, wiping his nose of the smell.
On the wall around it, someone has drawn a bunch of lines that don’t make sense. It might be words. Faded with time, and drowned out by the smoke-filled air that’s stained the walls. He steps closer, and he can just see the faint outline of a jester’s hat. Someone has made their dear Jesus the butt of their own personal joke. How clever, he thinks, but a moment before he notices the faded words. He squints to read the sharp, angry lines.
Let Jesus rape you…
He inhales sharply and steps back. Disgusted, he takes another step, but this time the smell of excrement is intoxicating. He gags, stumbles, vomits across the cheap vinyl sofa that sits in the corner.
Wiping is chin, he steps back to the centre of the room, glancing around. Until now, he’s been as silent as death. Who knows what the sound of his purging has roused. Composing himself, he look towards the door to the next hall. Hanging above the door is what looks like an opera mask, except made of iron. A half-face, built for a freak. Built for a performer. He moves towards the hall, watching the mask, half expecting it to come to life. The hall is dark, but there is light at the end. A room of some sort. He wants to move towards it, but he can’t help but look back at the crucifix. He’s sure
Geneva, December, 2007
He’s supposed to feel something here. Something good. Something like satisfaction. But instead there’s nothing but rage. It’s been growing steadily, like a cancer.
He’s distracting himself, trying to wash away the blood from another job well done. Drown it in booze and blow jobs. That was the way, wasn’t it?
But then there’s this. What a thing to hang on the back of a door where you fuck strangers for money. What a thing to hang anywhere, in fact. Jesus on his fucking cross. Been riding that gimmick for a millennia or two, he thinks angrily. What a cunt.
He glances down at the head in his lap bobbing quickly up and down and he hates himself. Despises the poor fuck who does this for a living. This poor boy could be a fucking astronaut if he wasn’t too strung out to know where the hell he was.
And what the fuck was he doing anyway. He didn’t even like boys, but like the lady said, a mouth’s a mouth. Supply and demand.
And the kid moans, like he’s actually enjoying himself.
He roars, “Stop!”
The boy, immediately shaken, falls backwards on the carpet, looking back at him in fear. He’s probably been beaten a few times a week for however long he’s been here, now he cowers like a tormented puppy at the slightest raised voice. For a moment he feels sorry for him.
He looks down at himself, ashamed. The whore seems to think perhaps it is part of the game for him, and he gathers a smile, trying to play along, and begins to creep back towards his customer. But it’s not a smile, not really. His expression is
Melbourne, June, 1993
Hateful lust. Not lust for him, but for brutality. For cruelty. And he is there, before him. The tall man is holding his cane. But Vernon cannot run. His feet are stuck to the floor. He’s too young to know he wasn't supposed to be in here. But he knows now, and he can already feel the pain of his punishment. It pierces through his skull, and his eyes fill with tears. The Reverend is so tall. And he wants to be strong. He wants to stand up to him, but he’s just too small. The man looms above him and
Hannover, January, 2001
He pounces at the kid, hands clenched around his throat. The kid manages a squeal before his throat is closed by Vernon’s powerful grip. He struggles, tearing at his wrists with long nails, but he’s on top of him, knees in his shoulders, pinning him down.
His flesh tears as the kid claws desperately at it, and then the fool goes for his face. But Vernon clamps his teeth down on the kid’s thumb and threatens to bite it off. The kid uses his other hand to smack Vernon’s face, again and again and again. He gasps through the crushed airway, gasping for life. The fear in his eyes widens as Vernon begins to shout. You’re not going to tell the others! You’re
Melbourne, April, 1994
“Not to tell. Not anyone.”
“Jasper?” he asks.
Ignoring him, the boy sucks hard at the cigarette. It glares in the gloom of the day, lighting his pale skin briefly. Vernon watches him, somehow awed, but mostly frightened. So far Jasper didn’t seem to think much of the taste of it.
“What? Fuck!” he snaps.
“I don’t know the way back,” Vernon says, sheepishly.
“That’s the whole point. Don’t go back,” Jasper replies quickly.
Vernon says nothing, instead looking around at the dense trees and the low fog that hovers amongst them. He has no idea really where he is. He plays with the knife in his pocket and wishes he had something to do with his other hand.
“Ugh, Jesus,” Jasper spits, dropping the cigarette in the shallow mud. “These are disgusting. What the fuck is wrong with people?”
“Someone’s going to hurt you for stealing that," Vernon whispers.
“Gonna hurt me anyway, may as well be my fault,” Jasper responds. “Hold this.”
Jasper passes the umbrella to Vernon’s free hand. Pulling up his collar as best he can, Jasper turns away into the heavy rain, running back the way they came. His black hair is already saturated before he is even a few steps away.
“Why?” Vernon shouts.
He stands for a moment, looking back over his shoulder, a piercing blue gaze sending a shiver across the back of Vernon’s neck.
“I can’t protect you any more, Vern,” replies Jasper. “You’re not…You’re not special like me.”
“What do you mean?”
But Jasper has already turned and run towards the estate, leaving Vernon watching him jog heavily, the ceaseless rain beating down on the umbrella and the ground around him. Vernon watches him scurry into the mist, disappearing into the dull day, and he turns his anxious eyes in the other direction. He has to run. Jasper said so. Just do what Jasper says, he thinks, and he tightens his slight fingers around
London, August, 2013
The umbrella by the hall. It is black as night, as if it hasn’t had a chance to weather. He pauses by it, stroking the handle briefly, then steps quickly through the hall, passing two open doors to empty rooms. His eyes see they’re empty without needing a second glance.
He turns into a kitchen, and she is standing there. There is no crescendo. There is no warm-up. She is just there. For a moment she looks right through him, unable to believe he is real.
Vernon calmly removes a revolver from his pocket and points it at her. Even from across the room she can feel the weight of it, the power that it affords him. She knows, somehow, this is not your average intruder.
“Sit down,” he says, calmly.
She watches him for a moment, then slowly wraps the dishcloth around her wrist, a strange habit she’s had since childhood. To Vernon is looks like a sort of cheap self-restraint. Bondage lite. And it is that moment he remembers, and knows that it is her. Finally, mercifully, her.
She sits down slowly, never breaking eye contact with him. He barely blinks as she moves, and his expression never changes. She watches him, seemingly devoid of any feeling whatsoever.
Vernon moves towards her, the gun still trained on her forehead. He takes the adjacent seat, calmly watching her.
They sit at the table, speechless. It lasts but a second, but feels as if an eternity has been leading them both to this intersection in time.
Suddenly Vernon spins the revolver on his trigger finger and places it down on the table, out of reach of her, but just a swift motion from his right hand. He smiles, satisfied.
And they stare at each other again. Years go by. Endless hours of time pass quickly in their memories as the move back, back, back from this moment. Back to where it began. Conversations they would never have, started and finished in the chaos of silence.
“Do you have any idea how long it took to find you?” Vernon asks, suddenly overwhelmed with a bizarre relief. He doesn’t know what to do next. He hasn’t even imagined this moment, just the path the get here.
She never breaks her gaze as she reaches beneath the table, to whatever he knows she had hidden in her apron. The long knife comes down faster than he could imagine possible. But it misses his hand, driving itself into the table, stuck in the hardwood.
For a moment she holds his gaze, then looks at the knife, and at the terrified, shaking hand that holds it.
In one swift move Vernon slaps her hand away and takes the knife. He brings it down across her outstretched hand and severs all four fingers down to the knuckle.
Shock takes her immediately. Her eyes widen as she stares, horrified but unable to move, at this monster she has borne. Quietly, and without a trace of emotion, he scoops up the bloody fingers and drops them into the teapot. He picks it up with a light touch, swirling it gently in the air, as his dead eyes stare into hers. For a moment, everything hangs in a blood-stained hush.
Vernon breaks the silence.
Blood splashes across the boy’s face as his mother suddenly clutches at her mangled fist. She begins to wail unbelieving, guttural noises that Vernon has never heard from a human before. He watches her, his gaze steady, as if watching an animal at the slaughter, not quite sure aware of herself, but overflowing with dread nonetheless. It’s amusing to him for a moment. And in that moment, there is the slightest hint of a smile. The first he’s had in years.
She falls backwards away from him, against the sink, clutching the stumps of her fingers and shrieking in disbelief.
Vernon stands, sidestepping to her, almost dancing. She screams again, even louder, as she feels his rage descend upon her. She sidles herself along the sink, stumbling towards the pantry. The boy pushes her with a single forceful jab and she tumbles to the floor.
Vernon goes for the knife, but his hand falters above it. Too obvious, he thinks. He grabs the nearest object, the teapot, and descends upon her. She jabs at the tiles with her heels and slides back away from him, slamming into the pantry doors, screaming as she realises she can go no further. Vernon smiles viciously and pours the burning tea over her head. Desperately she tries to protect her face, but the boiling water scalds her face, splashes into the open wounds.
She begins to shriek quickly, inhaling in short gasps, shouting out for help, knowing that no one will come. So she begs, calls him son, calls him a monster, tries to guilt him, apologises, and screams again.
But the boy stands above her, a terrifying, awful shadow of a man she once knew, filled with rage that she could not possibly have predicted. She clutches at her face with the shredded remains of her fingers, staring into those dead, green eyes, begging him for mercy.
Vernon brings the teapot down across her temple. He feels the bone shatter as it strikes her, and it fills him with something akin to relief.
So he strikes her again.
On the fourth strike she crumples like a dropped marionette, and a feeling of twisted delight rises within him. He looks down upon her shattered, burned face. By her side, the mangled hand, the blood now slowing to a trickle.
He takes a step back and drops the teapot. It does not break, but simply bounces and rolls away
Amsterdam, November, 2008
Towards the door, away from the bloody scene. He takes a step back, looking at what he’s done. For a moment there is something that isn’t happiness, nor grief, nor fury. It’s something else. Something he can’t describe. It takes him, the uncertainty of knowing. He fumbles. But
London, August, 2013
He can’t look at her any more. He flashes his teeth in a twisted smile, chewing the loose skin in his mouth. He looks down up at the ceiling, revelling. Then back down, knowing now that he needs to
Melbourne, April, 1994
Run. Run like hell through the fields and the dust and the fog. Drop the umbrella and embrace the rain. Be cleansed by it. Run from that awful place. Run like never before. But instead he
London, August, 2013
Sits quietly at the table, the toes of his shoes tapping gently in the pool of blood on the linoleum as he thumbs the handle of the teapot like a trigger.
Brews a good cup of tea and works great for a bludgeoning, he thinks, admiring the seemingly indestructible thing. And in his mind he thinks in a British accent. He’s been here too long. Wait, what do they say here?
He tries to think, and realises there is a strange quiet. Yet behind the wall of silence there is another voice, very soft and far away. And then he remembers.
Bloody good show.
Written by Matt Hood.
All characters and story lines remain the property of N.Ristovski and the Underground. All character writings within the Underground are fictitious. Any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental.
Copyright © 2016. Natalie Ristovski.