(All picture credits to their owners)
How did I get here? It’s all happening too fast, too loud. I need some silence. I need to recollect. I’m here now, I know that, but I wasn’t always. No, I wasn’t, I remember being outside, in the rain, pouring down an ocean on me. They were after me back then, they didn’t get me. Now I’m here. I came here for the quiet, but it’s not. It’s too loud, too many people, and not any good people. No, wait, there was one.
She was nice. Not very nice, but she was nicer than the rest. She behaved and looked nice, and she talked nice too. Told me to stay for the night because it was bad weather outside. She was smart. But, I think she didn’t like me. Now I’m standing where she stood earlier in the night, at the door of the kitchen, trying to gather myself. So much has happened. So many guns, so many bullets. I can’t, I just can’t hear those sounds anymore, they’re driving my head wild, pulsating it with pain, pressing down on my eyes, hurting me even more. I’m tired from all the running and I’m scared, I just want to be safe.
I look back into the kitchen, readjusting my sight from within my own thoughts to look in at her father, on the floor, hugging her daughter. It was truly precious and I even told them that. He didn’t seem to like the compliment, probably thinking of me as some kind of freeloader, just wasting away his inn at such a night. Well, he’s wrong, I didn’t sleep in any room, I didn’t eat any food nor drink anything, I just sat quietly in the dark, by the counter where the huge scary man threatened me, then laughed it off as if it was nothing. I brought the candle and match box with me from upstairs, though unlit, because the flame in the kitchen was too dim, on the dying candle a few feet to the right of the old man, on top of his humble table.
“Well,” I spoke again, “it’s just us now.”
It was, the rest were gone, either temporarily or permanently from this inn. He still didn’t reply to me. This bothers me. Why is he acting so held back? I’m scared. I focus closer on his serious, wet face and across his back and my sight falls straight on to his rifle, clutched in his left hand, squeezing it tighter.
“Hey,” I spoke cautiously, taking a few steps inside, something was wrong with him. “What are you doing with that?”
He was whispering something into the child’s ear now. I couldn’t hear due to the pattering outside. It was less than it was before, but still in the background. If it stops now, will they find this place sooner? Do they already know? I look back at the old man’s face and speak again, “What are you…”
I couldn’t finish, he pushes the child away and leans to the right and blows the candle out. Pitch dark, again. Some brief scurrying sound, and then dead silence. My hands tremble as I light the match and ignite the candle I held in my hand and hold it out into the room, trying desperately to make out my surroundings.
He materializes suddenly in front of the refrigerator, his wet face staring into mine and his trembling hands holding up his pointed rifle at me. I put the candle onto the table to my right.
“Wait,” I hold my hands up to him and beg, “what are you doing? Why?”
Footstep behind me, but I don’t turn.
“Who are you boy?”, he grumbles.
I wish I knew. Then I would be safe, I could ask people I knew for help. But, I don’t.
Before I could decide what to say, he bellowed another question at me.
“What are you doing here?”
“I…I came to get away from the outside. It-it’s bad outside,” I manage to blurt out.
“You didn’t get a room, why did your damn self stay the night at my inn and not do that?”
“I-I-I had no money…sir,” I reply quivering, trying to calm him down. This isn’t good, his finger is pressing on the trigger, he needs a better reason. “Sh-she told me to sit in a corner.”
He loosens his finger.
“Yes sir, sh-she told me, so that’s what I did.”
His expression is changing from mad to confused now, and that scares me more.
“She said that when?”
“When they all came in sir. She told me that.”
“So, you don’t know those fellas?”
“No sir, I don’t and I didn’t sleep anywhere or take anything. She made sure.”
His eyes seem to shine, as if he just latched on to something.
“Yes, sir, sh-she checked up on me, to make sure.”
His finger presses back on the trigger.
“SHE CAME TO YOU? WHAT DID YOU DO?!”
I fall to my knees, but his aim is set on me and I cry out, “Nothing, for goodness sake, I did nothing to her, I like her, I like her!”
I look to see him looking even more confused, then yelling at me again “What did you do?”
“We just spoke sir, at least, only I did.”
His eyes seem to be watery, I hear another tap behind me, but decide not to look away from the gun pointed at my face, yielded by an unstable madman.
“Did you…,” he started to speak but then broke off, almost crying, then tried again, in an angrier fashion.
“Did you kill her?”
“I talked to her,” I repeated myself.
I could see the old man trying to collect himself, as every wrinkle on his forehead flinched and twitched and his lips fluttered emptily, until he finally spoke again.
“Did you hang her in the closet?”
His face changed again, the color shifting to a bright white, his skin tightening around his cheeks, edging the features of his jaws.
“Why?” he spoke, almost to himself.
“To keep her warm,” I replied honestly but the man lost it and pulled the trigger as I raise my hands up to save my face.
I hear an empty ‘click’ and nothing. Am I dead already? I lower my hands and am hit on the face with the gun and fall backwards, hearing another tap sound from a step. As soon as I open my eyes I see her, the child. Standing about five feet from me, holding a butcher knife.
I look back at the old man. You? Her? What?
He didn’t have any rounds in his rifle, I know that now, but he can still use it like a club and bludgeon me, while the child can stab me from behind. He’s a madman.
“You did this?!” I yell at him. “You’re doing this, you’re making her do it with you! F-for you!”
He’s surprised by what I’ve said and takes a step back, but then revitalizes his madness and lunges at me again, hitting me on the shoulder and I kick him off. Just in time, as I look back over my head to see the child up to my face with her knife and brings it down on me. I seize her hands and lift my head from underneath the blade and push her aside with my shoulder and she falls over at some distance. A child? He’s using a child to kill me? Kill us? Kill her?
I now have the blade in my hand. It feels sturdy there, secure, I feel safer. The old man is leaning over the fridge, obviously in pain, holding his chest, panting. I walk towards him.
“You coward,” I say to him, “You monster.”
He swings the gun at me, but I block it with my shoulder and yank it out of his hand, hitting his knee with it and having him collapse to the ground instantly. I pull his head up by the hair and bring the knife closer to his neck.
“Why?” I question him, almost crying myself. The child is somewhere in the room, does she have more knives?
“Why?” I repeat, the blade touching his skin now.
His dead eyes look up at me, not filled with remorse or grief, but with confusion and redness.
“Why?” He repeats, maybe mimicking me, mocking me, like all the rest. “Why? You’re the one who did it.”
I push the knife into his throat as a reflex, his blood squirts out onto me and on the floor and table. He…He lies to me, straight to me, to my face. Me? He did it. Me? No. He did it. Him.
I hear a loud and alarmed knocking on the door. I look back into the kitchen and the child is nowhere to be seen, gone. I walk out, his blood still soaking into my already wet clothes, thinking over what he’d just said. Me?
I walk straight towards the door and reach out for the handle.
It wasn’t me.
I grab it.
It couldn’t be me.
I pull the handle.
I’ve been framed.
The door opens up and I hear a series of loud ‘BANG’ sounds.
I stand by the officers as they almost empty their rounds onto the skinny man, assisted by another officer to stay standing, as my bullet-injured leg is now having its toll on me and keeping me from running any further, or even standing without assistance. The skinny man falls to the floor, onto a puddle of his own blood.
He has enough of that to worry about as the officers move in to the cabin to inspect the damage. I was fortunate enough to run into them. They showed me their I.D and arrest details for an escapee from the mental asylum, who escaped during the previous day. They said they were close to him, but the storm helped him hide and they couldn’t make out his tracks, didn’t know where he went. The picture they showed me was no doubt his own.
The ten officers eventually walk out from the cabin, radioing for back and ambulances, talking about the dead bodies inside. My own friends…
This man, Willis Stryker, they said he was very scared and very scary. Easily intimidated, but easily triggered. They say he butchered the female members of his own family, letting his little boys live, who called the police on him. He went on to kill three more women over the week, thinking whatever he thought.
The last two officers walk out with the little girl covered in a blanket, and she’s obviously crying.
He didn’t kill the men. He only killed the women.
So why did he let her live?