“Good Night Jackie. Have a good evening.” Lorna Carvallho spoke softly, the same way she always did when she spoke to Jackie. He felt gooseflesh erupt over his arms and run down his spine in a tingle of nervous impulses that made him smile. She didn’t talk down to him because of his problem - he had been taught to tell himself he had a problem rather than an syndrome or genetic malfunction as he had been told by medical professionals throughout his adolescent years.
“Night” His single answer, spoken at high volume as he always tended to do when he got excited – or spoke to Lorna at all.
She was everything he wasn’t, she was tall and skinny her creamy skin was flawless, her face symmetrical and didn’t make people stop and stare when they saw him in the street. She spoke easily and softly, she understood him, and he had been in love with her since the first time they had met. She had shown him around the small shop where he worked 15 hours a week, she had trained him and shown him where everything had to go in the storeroom, and how to fold the clothes that arrived by the box load on some days, but because of what she had taught him he kept up to speed with it.
She had told him that nobody else knew her secret way to fold. It made Jackie feel special.
The best thing was that sometimes when it was quiet she would let him help people at the till and use the cash register.
Lorna treated Jackie like a human being, she wasn’t afraid to tell him off if he did things wrong, and she was full of praise for him when he did things well. Once she had even kissed him on the cheek and ruffled his hair slightly with her hand.
“So how are things at home? Did you and your sister make up with each other after your fight?” She asked him out of genuine concern, while the others in the shop either ignored or laughed at Jackie, calling him names when he wasn’t listening like Spastic or Mongol face, laughing at their cruel wit, then suddenly smiling when he turned around or came back from lunch, putting their now well practised yet increasingly patronising and demeaning voices back in place. Lorna had her moments, there were times, especially when Jackie was in one of his moods that she would mutter under her breath or feel so angry with him that she had to walk away, it was like dealing with a small child, but one who was capable of understanding closer to that of an adult. She found it at times, especially during her time of the month such as now that the whole thing was utterly exasperating. Pressing each of her nerves as if they were protruding through her fair skin their raw bloodied ends wafting in the air like the fine hairs that covered her arms, with every breath of wind however slight that touched the sensitive ends waves of electronic pain surged through her body into her brain where they buzzed around like an wet dream over a teacher when you were in school. She knew it was wrong but couldn’t shake them.
Still, at the end of each day they were together she had forgiven him, realising that he was a human, and he couldn’t help it. They had all been given a brief training session on how to deal with Jackie and others with his condition, but all it had been was a 20 minute video that explained the illness, which was genetic, followed by a further 20 minutes of moaning and bitching about having to put up with an invalid wandering around the shop.
Cause more trouble than he’s worth. Don’t want anybody like that around here. Better keep to his bloody self, don’t want to catch anything from him fuckin’ window licker were some of the friendlier statements made during the meeting which was held not by management, but by the employees themselves one quiet Thursday afternoon.
Lorna tried her best and she knew that whatever anybody said or did, they couldn’t do more than that, she wasn’t perfect and would be the first to admit she didn’t feel completely comfortable around Jackie, there was something about the look he had in his eyes, they were too close together and seemed black as the night sky when she looked at them.
Never into them, they seemed to refuse any real contact, even the light seemed to avoid them, creating dark rings around his eyes as though somebody had dipped his binoculars in ink, and although Lorna didn’t doubt the others were capable of such an act, she was sure that it was something else that caused the shadow.
“She doesn’t talk to me, but I said sorry to her.” His words sounded full of self-praise, they always tended to have the same quality when talking about things he has done. His own actions always sounded like the high ground option, slightly boastful. “Night” He said again, shouting the word as if the receding light also took away the resonance of the outside world. He turned and walked away, pulling his trousers up roughly as he walked. His backpack carefully placed over both shoulders, holding his lunch and a book, which Lorna swore he had been reading for the whole two years she had known him.
Lorna watched him walk away, not wanting to admit the feelings she held for him, afraid of what they made her. Of how they defined who she was. She watched and thought that Jackie was loosing weight, he had always been portly and was never going to be slim or have a body that girls stared at on the long summer days lying on the local beach, but he was definitely slighter than a month ago.
Lorna thought nothing else of it and instead when back to her embarrassing feelings; A mixture of sibling affection with a rather more substantial dose of.
“Pity” She said aloud to the rapidly cooling night air, watching the word form in steam as it left her lips. The sight of the short, sharp cloud, just as malicious in vapour form as it was in her head or as two simple syllables made her feel ashamed.
She backed away from the cloud and waited for it to dissipate into the air before she walked towards her waiting car. An old fifth hand Volkswagen that had seen more miles that had eaten hot dinners, but it took her from the warmth of her parents house to work every day and that was the most important thing. A to B was all that mattered. Maybe the occasional side trip to the movies of something if a nice looking man asked her. Not that it ever happened. A girl approaching her mid thirties with braces and ginger hair didn’t get too many suitors knocking at her door.
She was sure that the only person who didn’t look at her when she walked down the street was Jackie, when he looked at her all she saw was a child like adoration. Like a boy looking at the bike he wanted inside the window of the shop.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
Jackie took the number 12 bus all the way to the end of his street, the same as always. The driver stopped and made sure he was ok getting down the steps, and tonight he waited to make sure that the kid crossed over the road safely, he didn’t know why, there was strange atmosphere filling his mobile office today, a closeness in the air which he could feel pressing against his body, every breath seemed a slight struggle.
Jackie walked happily, another day behind him, another evening ahead of him, he always like the dark of the night. He found it comforting, the way everything was hidden, their outlines blurred together with the dark sky around them, changing even the simplest of shapes into something wondrously complex. He was born with very little imagination or chance of being able to express himself in ways beyond simple expression, and he supposed that was why he liked the night. Looking at the normal street he lived on but instead of seeing Mr Johnson’s house with its caravan parked in the driveway – he seemed to like it there because he was in it every morning when Jackie left the house – or the rubbish bins standing to attention every Thursday morning waiting to be emptied he saw monsters with long slimy limbs and sharp snarling teeth, their hissing breath orchestrated by the rustling leaves would kill you if you were caught by it, he saw spaceships with strange lights on them, visitors coming to explore and go to the seaside – because everybody knew there were no beaches in space.
Jackie loved the night because he actually got to see the things that others could just dream about whenever they wanted.
The front door to the his house was locked, and nobody answered when he knocked on the door or pushed the bell 12 times playing the same tune that had been in his head all day, he waited in the silence until the gently falling rain had slicked his thinning hair to his scalp and his sodden overcoat finally gave up and let the water through to his t shirt and ultimately the flesh beneath. Stepping backwards away from the house, he walked down the side path round to the back door, that door was always unlocked.
There were no lights on in the house, his parents were probably sleeping already, they were old – in his eyes – and had recently started going to bed before he came home, and his sister was still ignoring him because of their big fight where she had called him bad names and locked herself in the bathroom for a few hours.
The garden was gloomy in the twilight, but the light from the other houses and the streetlight at the bottom of their shallow garden provided more than enough light for him to pick his way over the overgrown weeds and rusty garden tools without injuring himself.
The back door was unlocked as always, actually it was broken, ever since he had had to break the door down one day when he had was locked outside and it was thundering.
He was scared of thunder.
The only time of the night he didn’t like was when the lightening lit up the black, erasing it like electrical tip-ex, removing the dreams and the images briefly, showing the real background of the night, spoiling the illusion but not destroying it, and it was that which Jackie was terrified of.
The way the trees and cars seemed to leer at him through the haze.
The door opened slowly, the rubbish bag set behind it was a primitive security measure he had put in place when his father failed to repair the lock. In their old age his parents were loosing control of the house, they didn’t clean much, their joints were too stiff with the rust of a life lived to do much, and his sister who had only recently moved back in while her divorce was finalized didn’t seem to interact much with the family. She kept her self locked away in her room, sitting in bed for the most part, but sometimes at her desk looking at herself in the mirror, a brush in her hands. She had never been able to have children, something she would often lay at her brothers feet, his being a retard. He didn’t understand how, but there was a lot of things he didn’t understand, like how to work the washing machine or to cook a proper dinner for himself
Once inside the house he walked through the kitchen, draping his bag over the dinning room chair and his damp coat over the sofa, where the cold unheated air of the living room would help it to fester by the morning. The lights still didn’t work.
A power problem his Dad had told him. Nothing we can do about it but wait, he had said, that seemed like a long time ago, but Jackie could really remember for sure.
Carefully Jackie bent over the table and eventually after many fumbled attempts and a few screams as the flame shot to life and the heat warmed his skin more than he liked Jackie managed to light the three candles – they had once been large blocks of wax, more the size and shape of a wheel of cheese than a traditional candle, but tonight was going to be their last night, there was hardly anything left to burn.
Seeming to realise this fact the flames danced slower than normal, sedately swaying to the music, the slow dance of their concert, knowing that this was their last tango they were determined to make the most of the time they had left and draw the moment out as long as possible.
Jackie fell onto the sofa, its cushions covered with old newspaper to keep the condition good for when the time came to sell it on again and buy a new one. His shirt rose up over his belly which was grumbling its usual evening complaints.
“Shhh” Jackie spoke to his stomach raising a stubby finger to his lips.
Pulling himself into a more upright position Jackie reached into his trouser pocket, a tight fit for his bloated hands despite their small size. He found what he was looking for, a crumpled piece of paper that was yellowed with age and dirt. It was ripped and held together with tape, the once sharp lines faded by the sun and the edges now frayed and soft.
Jackie no longer heard the silence of the house, he was used to being in charge. The man of the house his Dad would say to him when he left Jackie alone with his mother and sister for whatever reason. You have to protect your family now Jackie his father would say bending down to look him in the eyes, before hugging him and heading out of the door.
Leaning back over the table the piece of paper was smoothed out and peered upon like a treasure map or a love letter from a secret admirer. Yet it was nothing more secretive than a list, written in large uneven block letters. Reminders Jackie had written himself of the things he had to do each day.
SAY GOODNIGHT TO MUM AND DAD
SAY PREYERS BEFORE BED TIME
Jackie read the piece of paper several times over, musing over the words as if searching for some hidden message, a secret code, a spasticated enigma that might help him understand.
Walking though to the kitchen, carrying a candle with him, hoping that he wouldn’t burn his fingers. He didn’t like it when he hurt himself, he would cry and nobody would tell him if he would be ok or not, even when he was little his parents would never tell him what was wrong, a lot of the time they would ignore him, telling him to stop it or give it a rest. Sometimes his mother would even cry herself although that was normally when his Dad was out. Seeing the tears roll down her cheeks, smearing her makeup, staining her wrinkled heavily made up cheeks with mascara like a scary clown at the circus he had seen on TV late on night always made Jackie stop crying. It didn’t make him feel better, but he didn’t want anyone else to be sad so he would stop himself.
Sometimes he would get a cookie for being good and calming down.
He pulled a dining room chair with him as he walked, scraping it along the tiled floor, not worried about the ear splitting noise it made because he knew his parents always slept soundly. Jackie positioned the chair underneath the cupboard and climbed on standing on tip toes to open the door and reach inside.
The cupboard was bare.
He fumbled around his fingers searching in the places his eyes couldn’t, crawling along like a spider hunting a meal. He had bought some things earlier in the week but they were almost gone now. Finally his fingertips brushed against something. His initial reaction was to pull back, once before he had grabbed a mousetrap his father had set but forgotten about. He had come within a few seconds of loosing a finger – or so he told himself.
Once he had control of himself again he grabbed his catch and pulled it towards the edge of the shelf. It was a large bag of cookies Chocolate chip, his favourite. The bag was unopened and would give him enough to eat for breakfast too if he didn’t sleep him like this morning. His alarm clock didn’t go off and nobody woke him. He didn’t look, but he guessed his Dad was already out for his morning walk and his Mum was still asleep.
She likes her lie ins he would tell people when asked what his parents were like. Nobody ever really saw them. They don’t go out much.
Taking the chair back to its resting place at the table, covered with plates and dishes his mother was obviously spring cleaning again he told himself when he saw them. She loved to do that. She always kept things in good condition, moving them around to make them look better.
Jackie took the pack of cookies with him into the living room along with a mini packet of apple juice. He couldn’t see the straw in the cupboard, so would have to bit his way through the package to get his drink for the night, but as he wasn’t allowed to play with knives or scissors he had no other choice. Otherwise there would be water out of the tap as he was always told when the drinks were finished the day before the weekly shopping trip. Picking up the tray the candles were on, and tucking the cookies and apple juice into the pocket of his trousers Jackie left the living room and went up to his room. The darkness of the season meant that Jackie seemed to spend his whole life in the dark, he was dark when he woke up and dark when he came home, and on his days off he would still wake early, and spend the day sitting in his room reading and playing video games. He had the newest console, he had bought it himself, saved up his wages. It was great, the games were bright and colourful, they weren’t too hard like the other machines, also there were no horrible wires to get tangled up. He could never undo the knots and that always made him loose his patience.
It was only 6 o clock, but the night was falling early, thick storm clouds were beginning to join a few miles away from the powerless house, the electricity in the air was heavy enough to feel even from distance. Jackie knew it was coming, but he just hoped it would take its time arriving, however the first heavy clap to thunder shook the house – a semi detached in a small side road come cul-de-sac just behind the main road into the town – before the first biscuit had been shovelled past the waiting lips.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
Instead of going straight home Lorna decided that she would grab a cheese burger for dinner. Her mother would have no doubt cooked something, but there wouldn’t be much taste to it and her parents would be more than happy to believe she had an eating disorder if she turned down dinner after a day’s work, or wasting her life as her father happily told her every chance he got. When he was sober at least.
Lorna was lucky in several ways, her mother stuck around her drunk husband for her daughters sake, taking his drunken beatings silently, his fumbled vicious intercourse when he was ready for it, if the drink hadn’t relaxed him too much were endure with only the needed moans at the right time, her screams stifled so that her daughter wouldn’t hear what was going. Giving her a chance to break the cycle, and if by sticking around meant that her daughter – all be her the unwanted result of a three day Jack Daniels binge fuelled rape – didn’t get beaten or touched in any way, as would probably have been the case if she was left alone with him.
Lorna of course knew all about the beatings, her father took great pleasure in telling her what he had done to her mother, normally only moments after he had done it. The crazed look still in his eyes, the stench of whiskey so heavy on his breath his saliva could probably be sold as a shot.
Lorna’s mother knew none of this, Lorna kept her mouth shut, fearing what might happen to her mum if she didn’t. Her father would creep into her room while her mother began to work on reducing the swelling in that days area of choice, his hands would quite often still have the bruises from the repeated heavy blows delivered only moments before, his knuckles swollen like a boxer’s after working the heavy bag un-gloved for a few rounds. Blood would still be staining his fingers like nicotine – the only sin he didn’t seem to be enamoured with – and droplets would be covering the lenses of his glasses from where the third or fourth shot of the succession had created the fine mist of blood that seemed to hang in the air of the bedroom, never fully leaving, unable to find a suitable place to settle. The wouldn’t stop him though, the look in her eyes as she saw the blood and started to cry, wondering if this time was the time when her mother wouldn’t get up again, had he snapped her neck – either accidentally or not it wouldn’t matter – had he finally taken the knife he kept in his sock draw and ran it smoothly over her skin filleting her throat like a piece of grade A meat.
No, he liked the tears.
The harder she cried the more probing his touches seemed to be. He never went all the way – or so she had been calling it when it first happened two days before her thirteenth birthday, the subsequent party had been the catalyst on that occasion, he would rub her small but already developed breasts, smiling at the way her body responded, much more willing it seemed than the dried up hag he had settled down with.
Eventually however, the fumbling became regular and the tears stopped, Lorna would hear the blows being delivered to her mothers skull, followed by the slam of a door and the heavy footsteps on the stairs and would sometimes even remove her shirt ready for his appearance, smiling for him, refusing to cry, and after a while as suddenly as they had started it stopped. Her apparent acceptance and refusal to give her abuser what he wanted had worked, he believed that she was defeated, given up and could therefore be saved for later. Four months after her fourteenth birthday the final visit was made.
Lorna was happy for small mercies, thankful for the slightest thing, anything that made her life slightly more bearable and illuminated the gloom, having not been raped by her father was one, and the only thing was that she could eat whatever she wanted, and as she pulled into the drive through window and ordered an extra large cheeseburger meal with an extra portion of fries and mayonnaise, she was happy for that particular card having been dealt her way. She would accept the braces and the hard to control red hair, which even after several doses of blond dye still showed through, just at a more acceptable brightness, she would even accept the small and already sagging breasts she had been grown, if it meant she could still find solace in a plate of burgers resting on the dashboard of her car while Nirvana blasted out of the CD player without having to worry about her good figure. She never thought of it herself, but others had, people who had never actually approached her, who would want to date a ginger.
But oh they had looked. Her face was cute, it had a young look that hid her pain incredibly, spoilt only when she smiled. . . . or spoke, revealing robotic teeth and a few repressed memories of painful kisses and tetanus shots, her body was slender, her stomach flat, her behind was firm and shaped in a way that meant despite its small look to the eye, there was a delectable quantity there to be squeezed should the time ever arrive. Her legs were equally strong and elegant from playing almost every sport her school had to offer after the day was finished, giving her a few more precious hours of freedom each day.
Sitting in her car, parked at the back of the packed parking area Lorna quickly forgot about her burgers as she watched the clouds build like thunderous but fluffy blocks of Lego, stacking on top of each other until the sky was painted a deep electric purple. The air had become heavy and hot, and as a result she had opened the drivers window fully and was leaning awkwardly across the food to unwind the passenger window when the first clap arrived, shaking her car and the contents inside with the same forceful hatred of a depth charge hunting U-Boats in the war.
The lightening followed shortly, accompanied almost instantly by the crackling forks of lightening streaking towards the ground craving some physical contact even though it would be the death of it.
It was the noise more than anything else which startled Lorna, eliciting a small shriek, stifled only by the cheeseburger that occupied her mouth at the time, some of which ended up spread across the windshield. Washing her cough away with a mouthful of Cola she fastened her seatbelt, suddenly eager to get back home and tucked up into her bed. Outside another rumble of thunder came rolling over the clouds stronger than its predecessors, it set off a number of car alarms.
Hit, Hit, Miss, Hit.
The meteorological game of battleships was underway now and something told her to get her cruiser moving before another wave came crashing down on them.
Her car spluttered to life, after a few pumps of the gas and a careful shit from first to second and back to first gear again it moved away, backing out of the space just as the rain started to fall., Large fat droplets at first, sporadic but heavy enough to cover the windshield and obscure her view. Turning on the wipers she cringed at the rubber blades drew over the window, not quite wet enough to glide and wipe the glass clean. Instead releasing a ear piercing howl that made Lorna’s skin crawl. However by the time she reached the exit of the car park the rain was lashing against the window with a force that rendered the wipers useless, she kept them on in any case. It felt like the right thing to do.
She pulled out of the car park and turned back onto the road, having to travel a little further up the main road out of town before she could double back on herself and head towards home. Her radio was still streaming classic rock making her head bob dampening the sound of the storm, however it also managed to shadow the rattling noise coming from the overworked water filled engine. Just as she was approaching the traffic lights to turn around her car began to smoke, not just from the water getting inside the engine, but it began to smoke as if it were on fire. Frightened Lorna pulled the car over the side of the road, and jumped out, afraid that the car might just burst into flames or even explode.
Her heart was fluttering as she got out and slammed the drivers door behind her, her clothes soaked through almost immediately from the monsoon that was raining down on her. Her jacket was in the car, she had taken it off when she ordered the burger.
She was soon shivering from the cold as her thin work blouse was soaked through and plastered to her body like a second skin, her trousers were also drenched and the wet fabric tickled her sensitive legs underneath. Around her the storm grew, and as the thunder shook her bones and rattled the heart in her chest cavity, three bolts of lightening lit up the black sky like an inverted fireworks display each one landing not more than a few meters away from where she stood. One caught the traffic lights, sending sparks of all three motoring colours cascading towards the ground, travelling down the pole in slow motion, the bright blue streak clear to the naked eye the familiar zigzag pattern tarnishing the post before scorching the ground as if disappeared. The second which struck almost simultaneously died sooner, crashing into a tree which simply stood firm in the face of its charged attacker and absorbed the blows it was dealt with little more than a rustling of its leaves or the creak of its upper most branches.
The third strike was the closest of the group, landing in the middle of the roof of her car, causing the paint to bubble and car shook like it had a couple of horny teenagers in it, but the strangest part - which was more a hopeful trick of the eyes – was the way the car seemed to strobe x-ray style images. The metal framework was outlined, the panels disappeared and for a split second all Lorna saw was the skeleton her car was built around. It was gone soon and the heat from the blast while it didn’t warm her up, reminded her to breath, taking in large gulps of air, needed to keep her from fainting as her heart beat faster than it had when she took the penalty in the final minutes of a hockey tournament, her organs screaming for blood and its oxygenate cargo to return from its detour to the extremities. Her shaking became almost uncontrollable now, as the cold set in, reaching her bones she could feel it, coupled with the shock, a slightly late realisation dawned on her about how close she had just been to death.
She felt strong, a sudden power filled her body, she had survived. She left the car and ran into the first street she could see hoping to find somebody home who would let her use the phone.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
Jackie was sitting in his room, the lights all turned out because of the storm, he didn’t want the lightning to come through the walls again like it had done a few years ago when he was sleeping. It looked like somebody had taped a roman candle into the plug socket on the wall opposite the foot end of his bed. There had been some damage but not much. It had been decorated since then, and Jackie had covered the wall with posters to hide the socket, and so hiding the memories.
He was sweating like crazy, it looked like he had just come out of the shower, his air looked like it had been gelled flat to his head, but still he wrapped his duvet around him like a life jacket. The candle flame flickering from the howling wind outside, even though the doors and windows were all sealed tight. He shivered despite his layers and the in spite of the sweat that was now dripping off him like a sauna, and the comic book he was reading was damp from the bodily fluid that was seeping through their recycled pages. Superman’s lines being blurred with those of Lex Luther, the red ink of his cape running down his arms like blood and merging with the liquid kryptonite from the next page.
Jackie finally admitted defeat to the comic when the page stuck to his sodden finger tips and in retaliation he ripped the comic in half and half again before throwing the pieces against the wall. They fluttered to the ground, floating on an imaginary wind landing with a very realistic and heavy knocking. Each piece seemed to produce a similar tone irrelevant of size. It wasn’t until after the last piece and fallen and the sound continued that Jackie finally realised that there was somebody at the door.
He stumbled out of bed and walked along the hall, his candle let in the room. It was almost dead anyway. He knew the way, down the hall until the floor squeaked, then he was outside his parents room and it was 3 big steps and two small until he was at the top of the stairs. The lightning struck again the sound of the electricity burned through the house, every plug socket buzzed with potential energy. The knocking at the door became more frantic and powerful, even the thunder couldn’t completely drown out the request for entry.
Jackie nervously went down the stairs, he had never had a visitor before, especially not at night. The only people who ever came round asked to speak to his parents and simply walked away rather than have to try to explain things to someone as simple as he obviously was.
Don’t talk to strangers, just keep to yourself and don’t listen to what people you don’t know have to say.
That lesson had been drummed into him repeatedly, and he didn’t, he never spoke to anybody unless the introduced themselves first. If he knew their name then he reasoned that they weren’t strangers anymore. Which made them safe.
“Hello, Hello, is anybody there?” The female voice called through the letter box, accompanied by a gust of win. The voice was panic and filled with urgency. It was strangely familiar to Jackie. He paused at the bottom of the stairs, the shadow loomed in the doorway and was turned negative when the lightning reappeared. The shadow jumped, nervous from the storm, but to Jackie it looked like the figure was trying to push the door down, lunging forwards trying to break in. The scream was mistaken for a savage war cry and the knocks soon became forceful blows in Jackie’s mind, the door shaking in its frame, the locks barely able to hold the figure at bay.
Jackie walked through to the living room and peered through a crack he made in the curtains. Which were perpetually drawn, shutting out the sunlight, but also keeping out prying eyes, people trying to get a glimpse of the spastic that lived in their street.
“Hello!” The voice called again, She had seen someone moving inside, the curtains were pulled back and a pair of eyes were looking, peering at her from the darkness inside.
Lorna didn’t know why she tried this house, maybe it was because the other four before had lights on but nobody home, she figured why not try a lost cause, maybe you would be surprised. The house was in terrible condition, the grass was overgrown and the fence fallen down, either from a poorly guided car or from age she couldn’t tell and couldn’t be bothered to think about it. The windows were dirty and in some places cracked, the pain was peeling from the frames, the cobwebs had cobwebs and there wasn’t a single light shining from the whole place. The only house on the street when she looked back that was in such a bad state of repair, but still she knocked, hoping that somebody was there.
If she was honest the house looked and felt dead, abandoned and forgotten, and when she pushed the letterbox to call the stench of decay burst through in a thick cloud, like stale air escaping an ancient tomb.
The eyes startled her and she jumped backwards. Just as another fork of lightning speared the earth, scarring its surface. Lorna felt as though she was being guided towards this house, the lightning trapping her in a high voltage maze. She was filled with the urge to run, but before she could turn the door was opened and she was grabbed around the waist but a pair of strong arms and hauled inside.
“Out of the storm, Out of the storm, Come, Out of the storm.” The raised voice kept repeating in a familiar tone.
The stench within the house was overpowering, and only fear kept Lorna from throwing up over the floor, which she felt was covered in what she could only assume was newspaper or rubbish of some kind. She stood still, her back to the front door listening to her heart begin to slow, the rain finally driving against the door rather than against her. Her clothes were so wet her nipples could be clearly seen through her shirt and bra together.
“You shouldn’t walk in a storm Lorna, its bad for you. You can catch cold or something” The voice knew her name, and she found it oddly comforting. She still hadn’t seen the owner of the voice, the black exterior look to the house was echoed inside. There wasn’t a single light, not even one of a video recorder or television on standby.
“Jackie?” She spoke into the darkness, her lips moving vocal chords pronouncing the name before her brain fully realised why.
“Yes” The short and blunt reply at least assured her of who she was with.
“I didn’t know this was your house. Are you ok, did the power go out or something?” She asked, the stench forgotten about, more through politeness than anything else.
“I don’t know, don’t worry about it, I have candles.” He replied defensively, but Lorna ignored him, used to his temperamental outbursts and dramatic over reactions, and had actually gotten quite good at dealing with them.
“Well candles are good, but light is better. Come on I think it is just the fuse or something because the rest of the street has power. Luckily” She added as an after thought. She felt her way through the hallway, shuffling her feet as best she could in case she tripped and fell in the dark.
“No. Lorna I’m scared, I don’t like storms. Don’t make too much noise my parents are sleeping.” He told her, his voice echoing through the house is if it were empty.
The further she got from the front door, the more intense the smell became. It was almost indescribably, somewhere between the sweet stench of rotting meat, the metallic odour of blood and bleach. The combination made Lorna feel instantly queasy and she had to forcibly cover her mouth to keep from showering the pitch black house with vomit. Instead catching it in her mouth and swallowing it back down with nothing more than a grimace as the ejected stomach acid burned in her throat.
“What is it Jackie? What are you trying to hide, you don’t have to worry.” She spoke slowly and calmly to him, a simple process but some of the time it was all the was needed to help him think rationally again.
“No!” He shouted even louder, something probably either a foot or a first reasoned Lorna slammed into the wall nearby Jackie’s heavy breaths were next, increasing with speed as his rage seemed to billow out of nowhere much like the storm clouds “Go” He yelled at her. “I want you to leave now Lorna. Ill see you tomorrow. Bye Bye” He continued to shout, his previous comments about his parents seemingly forgotten.
“I’m scared too Jackie, but I promise you once we get some light going it will make us feel a lot better. Then we can sit and wait for it all to finish What do you way?” She had never seen Jackie in such a rage before, she thought it was just because of the storm, he was scared and his family were not with him. To be honest she found it a bit bad of them, but she had lost her trust in families a long time ago so guessed her views didn’t count for much.
Lorna began to move again not searching for anything, more moving towards Jackie to try and comfort him. Her varying emotions colliding again, struggling to decide between a feeling of pity or sisterly / motherly love for the man who was actually her own age but she never thought of his as anything other than a boy in the throws of puberty.
It was by absolute chance that her hand brushed the light switch on the wall, lower than the usual placing, probably installed specially for Jackie if he was home alone.
Touching. Lorna thought to herself cynically.
If it had been chance that allowed Lorna to happen upon the switch, it was its close relative that made her try it. Light exploded from the bulbs, which although not strong, came as such a shock they may as well have been theatre spots, shining down on the lead actor delivering his Once more unto the breach dear friends address.
Jackie cried out beside her, the light burning his eyes, while Lorna threw her arms up into the air shielding her eyes from the glare but not eliminating her vision.
It didn’t take long for her eyes to become accustomed to the light, and the first thing she was, the only thing she saw in fact caused another rush of regurgitated stomach contents, this time the force of this eruption was too great for her lips to contain and it sprayed from her mouth like a horizontal shower, covering the floor and the back of the sofa. She hadn’t realised that they had worked the way into the living room.
She paused at the thought. Living room, from what she was gazing upon dead room would have been a better turn of phrase.
The room had once been homely, a large and comfortable looking sofa, with matching armchair, facing a good size television with a coffee table providing a resting place no doubt for weary feet who come nightfall had seen enough of the floor and welcomed their elevated position, on the wall there were photos, some of babies some of the family as a whole and a couple of scenic shots – taken by Jackie’s father during various family holidays. There was a fake open fire which burned with a fake flame but somehow still produced a heat, and the walls were painted a two tone colour. The base coat was a simple cream colour, which provided a good background for the dried blood and solidified brain fragments which provided the contrast. The pictures were hazy behind arterial sprays, the sofa was sodden with blood, so much so that patches still glistened in the now acceptable level of light. The carpet which while never top quality was ruined with not of a near solid layer of blood more than could have come from one person, but also various forms of vomit, faeces and urine. Flies buzzed merrily, their bodies fat and swollen from the riches they had discovered, their minds and bodies so drunk on filth that they didn’t even fly away when the light came on The only movement that resembled retreat was the wriggling of the maggots, the gestating next generation of IT flies to gorge themselves on their parents hard earned riches.
Behind her Lorna could hear Jackie screaming angrily, the rage in his voice was unmistakable, he was angry at her, as if she had betrayed his most deepest of confidences by turning on the light.
“Jackie, Jackie, wh..” She couldn’t say anything else, neither her brain nor her stomach would allow it. Her eyes continued to scan the room, equally unable to absorb any more information. Everything became unrecognisable and she found her image began to blur as her mind began to task of blotting everything out.
Only one thing remained in focus and that was the iron which was on the coffee table, clumps of scalp, brain matter and hair clung to all three points, not to mention the clotted covering over the working surface. This object of destruction remained in sharp focus even as Lorna’s world went dull, her eyes becoming heavy.
It was only then that she realised she couldn’t breath. Jackie had wrapped his rage filled arms around her throat and was squeezing her windpipe shut with a force that seemed almost unnatural. She began to struggle, her body quickly suffering from the cut off supply of oxygen because of the speed her heart was racing, she felt her pulse begin to slow, her limbs became heavy with fatigue.
The whole time Jackie didn’t stop screaming, sometimes the rage left and all there was, was madness, but then the anger would return. Lorna felt safer with the anger. Anger she could deal with, insanity was something else
Jackie began to pull her towards the stairs, taking her somewhere, she didn’t want to know. If he had killed his family, then why not kill her. She began to struggle, throwing her head back, scrapping her knees down his shins, she even tries to stamp on his foot, but none of it worked.
Slowly she was worked up the stairs, walking backwards, the grip loosened slightly, the screaming died down as Jackie concentrated hard on climbing the stairs.
“Jackie …St….stop” Lorna wheezed, as the world once more became dark. The lights in the upper portion of the house were obviously on a different circuit and so didn’t hadn’t come on when she flicked the switch.
The smell of decay returned to her nose, filling her nostrils with this acrid aroma, stinging her throat – coupled with the left over vomit – with its abrasiveness.
“No no no no no” Jackie repeated, an edge of confusion had entered his voice.
They reached the top of the stairs and paused.
Jackie was thinking, he didn’t know what to do. Lorna had seen his secret, the way his family lived – or didn’t. He released his grip around her throat, and when she tried to run he grabbed her again and threw her into the hallway. “Don’t run” He screamed at her, his voice shrill like that of a woman. He was actually hitting himself also, scratching at his head as if trying to claw into his own brain and find an answer.
“Its ok Jackie” Lorna whispered her voice hoarse from being trapped in a vice.
“Quiet, Quiet!” He yelled, contradicting what the finger pressed against his lips was saying. “You will wake my parents” He spoke with anger, but Lorna believe him.
Did he really think that his parents were sleeping?
Lorna walked towards the bedroom door and Jackie moved to stop her, blocking her path, his chest heaving as he breathed.
“Jackie, I have to check. Don’t worry.” She told him, her resolve strengthening, he didn’t know, something horrible had happened and he didn’t know.
She pushed past him and for once he offered little resistance, grabbing the handle she walked into the room. It was filled with darkness, but the stench was overwhelming, it assaulted her senses like a kamikaze pilot, unafraid and unashamed of what it was. Even death had its dignity
The door creaked open, and she fumbled on the wall for a light switch, she found nothing, then she remembered the switch downstairs, and how it had been lowered. Her hand slipped down the wall, but she felt a strong shove from behind and she fell forwards. Stumbling she fell into the bed. She braced herself and threw her arms forwards and felt something in the bed. Cold and hard through the thin sheets. She didn’t need the light.
“No No. You don’t listen. Why don’t you fucking – he coughed as she spoke the word, it hurt him to have to spit it out – listen to me.” It sounded like he was holding back tears. Grabbing wildly at her clothes, trying to grab hold of her. To throw her out, to beat her, she didn’t know.
“Get off me.” She cried out, the darkness seeming to envelope her words, hiding them the way it hid the bodies she was being forced against. Kicking out her legs she raked her heels down his shin and dug it into his toe. She didn’t want to hurt Jackie, he didn’t know what he was doing, but she didn’t want to be here. She had to get out, get out and get him help.
“We can get you help Jackie, Call somebody and they can take care of you.” She spoke as she raised herself off the bed. Jackie having let go to nurse his injured toes.
She could see his eyes in the dark, glowing white orbs surrounded by darkness, like a crocodile in the river, only its eyes visible. Then it pounced. Lightening stuck again, she had been so preoccupied that she had forgotten all about the storm The room filled with light just as he leapt towards her. She was powerless to resists and he threw her onto the bed.
He mounted her quickly and scratched at her face with his hands, fingers curled into claws. His nails dug into her skin and she closed her eyes for protection. Her arms engaged in trying to push his heavy body off hers and let her escape. The fist was late in arrival, and no unexpected. Placed into her stomach just below her ribs. Her breath and with it her fight pushed out of her, and with no more vomit to expel she curled up as best she could and cried. Cried stinging tears which burnt her bleeding face.
Then he was on top of her again, screaming and raining blows down onto her, club like blows all over her body, wild with their power and animalistic with their ferocity. It was as thought he was tenderising her like a piece of meat. She cried and called out, but her mouth was covered over with a sweaty hand that tasted strongly of old pennies.
She bit down hard on his hand, but it had no effect. His rage was in full swing and nothing could stop him. He pulled at her clothes, ripping her shirt, the rain made it paper thin and it came away with the slightest of tugs, her breasts exposed and nipples ready hardened. The foul air tweaking them even more.
Before she realised what was happening her trousers had been removed and her legs forced open. She tried to stop him but another fist, this time to the side of her head made the whole room spin, and with that her body relaxed and she felt him enter her. Violently and dryly he began to ravage her, yet with each thrust she found herself more accepting. Each time his throbbing member delved into her privacy she saw more of the truth, as though the throbbing vein that ran the length of his shaft was carrying images instead of blood. Images transported through her increasingly flowing pleasure and into her brain.
She spread her legs wider voluntarily, and even pulled him towards her, the images became clearer and she understood.
He thrust and she saw the family, sitting around the dinner table. Jackie was angry and his parents were arguing. He had been shouting for over three hours and they were tired. He withdrew and ploughed into her once more and she saw his father leading him up the stairs. Jackie was stamping his feet and thrashing his arms around wildly. Hands clenched into fists. He reached the top of the stairs and turned around, pushing his father away from him. He didn’t like to be touched. She moaned as her body began to celebrate this experience. His father threw his arms out to balance himself but his legs were twisted and he fell back, his head connecting with the stairs three times as he fell, each time at the base of his skull. He was still alive when he finally stopped bouncing, but only just.
He withdrew, pulling back to far, his rage subsided, his actions exceeding his plans. Guilt began to set in, until her hand reached from around her leg and grasped him, holding his cock gently and guiding it back into her warm opening.
She had to see more.
His mother and sister ran to the noise, worried about the noise they had heard. Jackie was standing by the body. His father was bleeding from the ears and the mouth, his whole body shaking as he tried to speak. Jackie was crying, scratching at his own face, staring at his father, sorry for being bad.
“I was sorry, I didn’t mean it.” He grunted as he resumed his thrusting, the power building once more within him. Lorna didn’t feel the orgasm approaching, not until the power of it overwhelmed her and she locked her legs around him, screaming as her body began to quiver.
The lightening struck once more this time connecting with the house. The windows rattled and cracked in their frames, the lights came on again, the power seemingly jolted into action. She saw in the bright white light Jackie’s mother and sister push past him, he stumbled into the living room. They were shouting at him, asking him what he did. Tears straining their voices, grief reducing their words to nothing more than abrasive words. It was then she saw him pick the iron from the shelf where it was cooling down before being put away.
He began to pant. He swung the iron. First at his sister, splitting her head open in one powerful movement. He was pounding into her with such fury now that she came again right there, riding the wave of her pleasure and stepping from the dwindling wave to the newly formed crest of the other.
His sister had died instantly; his mother herself had taken three solid blows, his strength failing him as did his stomach as he covered himself in the blood. Spraying from the three wounds to her skull. Still she managed to crawl away, her shrill pleading not heard by her son, the boy she clearly loved. Instead all she earned was another blow, with the full face of the iron this time. The blow shattered her now and fractured her eye sockets, the still fairly hot metal stuck momentarily to her skin, leaving blister marks behind, but they never swelled, a final double handed clubbing blow with the iron sliced through the already battered skull and carved out a chunk of brain about the size of an large orange. It hung to the iron but before she saw it fall he his thrusting stopped. His body began to shake and his screams of rage became screams of delight, his eyes rolled into his head and for a second she thought he was going to fit, then she felt him shake inside her and was filled with a force that pleasured her for a third time. The held each other shaking. Her eyes gazing towards the ceiling, it was a light pink colour, obviously his mothers choice. Her eyes traced the ceiling and paused when she saw six eyes staring back at her. Jackie’s had the glazed look men have once they have fired their shot for the day, the other two were almost liquid, held in their sockets by a thin membrane., like eggs carefully removed from the shell, the protective sack still intact.
She shocked slightly, not as bad as she would have expected, their faces gazed at her, mouths open tongues hanging out like deflated balloons left hanging outside long after the party ended, their skin decayed thinning their faces. They were wet and covered with a clear fluid that was collecting in large droplets and occasionally falling onto the bed.
Lorna rose from the bed, her trousers round her ankles her legs shaking, barely able to support herself, the bodies were sitting in bed, the covers pulled unto their waists, hands folded over each other, wedding rings glistened in the artificial light, too large now for the rotted fingers. Jackie’s fathers head was twisted too much to one side, broken as he fell down the stairs, death hadn’t been instant, and he had watched as his son battered his family to death. He choked on his own blood and felt his heart slowing before his life was finally over, his bowels emptied and the stench of faeces and concentrated urine were the last things he smelt, and blood pouring from the walls of his house his last vision. His wife’s head was slightly more unusual, it looked fine from the left hand side, but when viewed face on it looked like a large chunk the shape of a trivial pursuit piece had been crudely carved out, her brains long since melted away to liquefied nothing, pink and slightly jellied they still occupied her skull, but now settled at the base like the remains of a bowl of soup.
Their faces had been cleaned roughly, and the room was filled with cheap air freshener, the kind that smelt nice in the shop but that was where it remained. D
Besides her Jackie was curled into a ball on the floor at the end of the bed, he wasn’t crying, but was muttering something inaudible. She bent down, squatting and feeling his semen drip out of her and run down her leg in congealing clomps. She wiped it away idly and stroked Jackie’s arm. He too had his trousers around his ankles and withdrew from her touch.
“It’s ok Jackie” She spoke softly to him, stroking his arm in loving slow movements, and within a few seconds he was sitting facing her. His face still contorted but the rage was gone. He was back to the old Jackie, he hadn’t known what he was doing and now she was sure he just felt bad for it. “Shhhh” She said when he opened his mouth to speak.
She leant forward and kissed him deeply, her hand roaming back between his legs. He was hard again and she wanted him.
They made love once more on the floor of the room, his parents festering gaze was blank in approval.
The storm continued long into the night, and finally calmed down just before the sun rose. The pair lay sleeping on the floor of the bedroom, arms around each other. Lorna woke first and rose, peering through the curtains to check on the day. The sky was blue and the clouds were light. She turned around, Jackie was beginning to stir.
“Morning sleepy head” She whispered to him, “Quiet, you don’t want to wake your parents.” She gestured with her head towards the two bodies. She smiled at them. A friendly smile, as if she was happy to see them.
Lorna moved out of her house soon after, her parents shocked and stunned at the suddenness of the actions, and her mother had cried when she walked out and pulled out of the driveway. She cried for herself, her daughter would be better off she was sure, she was a smart girl, she cried because she knew that it was now just the two of them.
The two set up home together, her parents never saw her again nor did the meet the man who stole her heart. Her prince charming.
They tidied the house and buried the bodies of his Jackie’s parents in the garden, and the body of his sister, who had been sat in her room, tied to the stool before her vanity mirror, a brush in her hand, also tied in place, make up scattered around the desk.
They can still be seen wandering around, Lorna is often sporting varying long sleeved high necked shirts, baggy enough to cover her bruises, but not to hide her swelling stomach.