Something a bit different-for this piece I experimented with stream-of-consciousness. Not sure what I think of it, may or may not use it again.
The two small faces look as though they are close to tears. Ben, despite being a mere six years of age, knows why they are there, and is glad to be. However, he is frightened at the prospect of being left alone for a few hours, and having to care for Sally, his 3-year-old sister. He does not feel very safe in the ‘safe place’ that Jon found for them. It is a rickety old barn in the middle of nowhere that reeks of dung and old straw. On this particular day the wind is giving its frail structure a harsh beating; Ben fears it will collapse on them before their father returns with Tara.
Jon tries to reassure him, ‘I’ll be back soon, I promise. Then we’ll go.’
Ben nods, his face solemn. ‘You will be able to take Tara away from the Beast?’
‘Yes, Ben. Your sister and I will be back within a couple of hours.’
Jon pauses for a moment, examining their faces, red from the cold. Their lips are slightly chapped and their large green eyes are fearful. They are only just visible beneath the blankets he has packed around them. He is glad he had thought to pack so many; Ben’s school uniform and Sally’s dungarees would not guard them against the elements.
Jon turns away from his son and daughter, leaving them concealed behind a bale of hay with the few bags they have brought. He heads out to be greeted by the bitterly cold wind, blowing him forward. The ground beneath his feet is hard; frost has begun to cling to the grass. Only a few trees, their branches clapping to the gale, break up the vast expanse of green fields and grey skies which will soon turn black. Knowing this will spur him on; he knows how scared his children will be if they are left alone in the dark. Doing things this way is not ideal, it would have been better had he been able to collect all three children from their schools, or, in Sally’s case, nursery, and take them immediately. That way, he would not have had to leave the youngest two in the middle of nowhere. However, Tara’s school had broken up early. He could not have delayed the escape until they were all back at school as things had become more dangerous recently. He marches forward, his hands stuffed into his pockets, the right one clasping at the small bottle containing two sleeping pills. He had considered getting more but ultimately decided against it. Two will be enough to knock out the Beast while he retrieves his eldest daughter.
My head hurts the back feels sticky am I bleeding? Can’t feel to check the Beast must have bound my wrists also my feet and gagged me; I say must have, who else would have done it? Don’t understand why I’m gagged, no-one’s here for me to tell what she’s done. She’s done it well; I can barely breathe through it that’s probably what she wants I can breathe through my nose though, it smells funny though, sort of wooden and earthy. The rope’s too tight, can’t feel my wrists and ankles; I wonder if they’ve turned blue? Can’t see any colour, only black, can’t even see myself can’t move, the Beast bound the rope all around me, so uncomfortable is this wooden floor, solid wood with the occasional splinter poking out, they hurt so much, one’s piercing my shoulder, want to roll off but can’t see where I might end up, maybe I’ll get a splinter through my eye then I’d truly be blind, don’t want that, can’t have that, or worse things could happen the splinter might be really large, large enough to pierce my brain then I’d die don’t want to die don’t want to be blind I need my sight if I am to help Dad look after Ben and Sally, he will need me to help but I need to move, my shoulder hurts and if I don’t move my body may seize up and I won’t be able to walk or run, and Dad said I may need to run, don’t want to die either, even though the Beast wants me to, that’s what she said before when I finally crossed the line, though I don’t know what I did but half the time I never know what I’ve done, apart from the thing she mentioned earlier when she said she wanted me dead; ‘I wish you had died, not Harry’ I didn’t want Harry dead either but it wasn’t my fault, Dad always promised me it wasn’t and he never breaks his promises, never. He promised we’d be leaving tonight with Ben and Sally that we’d get away from the Beast and be happy, so that’s what will happen. I know he will find me, so I won’t panic, won’t be scared, I will be calm and brave, that’s what he’d want, I know it. He’s being brave tonight in taking me and Ben and Sally away he’s sad, he still loves her, even after everything she’s done to me, and him and Ben and Sally, but she’s mainly hurt me, but I’m not angry at Dad, it isn’t his fault he always tried to stop her even though he got hurt for doing so. Ben and me wanted to leave years ago, Sally would want to leave if she was old enough to understand things but I’m glad she’s a baby and won’t have to remember anything bad, not the pain, not the Beast. Dad realised we had to run away when he started calling her the Beast like me and Ben that was when he knew that she was really no longer the woman he fell for. No longer his wife no longer our mother just a monster. The Beast.
The wind howls louder around the small, isolated house, a sign that Jon had arrived at his destination. A dejected place it is, made even more sorrowful looking when surrounded by the fading light of dusk. He leans against the gates, catching his breath, clasping his hands around the cold iron bars. Something that unnerves him upon seeing the rusty red brick structure is that the only light breaking up the gloom is the one in the kitchen. He had expected to see a light in Tara’s bedroom, complete with her small silhouette pressed expectantly against it. Selene would frequently send Tara up to her room; she always made it clear that she wanted Tara out of her sight. Often, if Selene had Tara in the room with her, it meant something bad, that Tara was being tormented in some way. Jon could only see one figure in the kitchen. Even from a distance, he is able to see that it is Selene from her tall stature and her frenetic pacing up and down. Involuntary, the memory of the person she used to be returns to him. She was so happy and carefree when they met and married. Incredibly passionate too, and at times driven to blind rages. He remembered how on their wedding day, he had been forced to drag her away from a bridesmaid that she had been screaming at for the crime of spilling something on her white dress. Jon had made excuses for Selene that day, saying that it was a natural reaction; that every bride wanted things to be perfect. This had been the first of many excuses that he had made for her. Maybe that should have been the giveaway that this was not a normal, rational woman. Maybe madness had always dwelt within Selene, just waiting for an excuse to burst out. All it took was the incident with Harry to trigger it, to transform her into the Beast. In a bizarre way, this theory comforts Jon a little. It allows him to believe that his wife does not really hate their eldest daughter, and that she is not evil as the children believe, and at times, he himself had come to believe. She simply has an illness. Sadly, it is one which Jon has been unable to heal, and due to this, the entire family, particularly Tara, have suffered. The guilt which Jon feels whenever he thinks of Tara was beginning to drag him down. No eleven-year-old should have to suffer as she has. He should have helped her a long time ago.
Checking the time, he realises that he has to hurry, that it will be dark soon. He silently prays that Ben and Sally will be alright. He wishes he had been able to use the car, as it would have made the plan much easier. However, it is currently out of use, as it was recently a victim of Selene’s fury. Plus, it would have been too easy to track, if Selene decided to phone the police. With a sigh, he heads up the gravelled path towards what had been his home for nearly twenty years, hoping that the plan to drug Selene will work, and that he and the children can make a clean getaway. He hopes that Tara has been sent to bed for some reason which would make sense to no one other than Selene. He doubts that she would have decided to go to sleep of her own free will. She knows what is happening today.
evil child she was pure evil the only way to explain what she did just pure evil look she has even left behind a literal stain not much but still it stands out on the tiles look blood dark dirty red blood to mock me to remind me what happened to Harry Jon tried to defend her said it wasn’t her fault but I know she did it deliberately how else can it be explained a baby doesn’t die from falling from such a short drop no he doesn’t he was beautiful Harry was far more beautiful than Tara she knew it we all knew it jealousy it was jealousy made her throw her baby brother on the floor then declare it an accident evil liar she convinced Jon and everyone else she was innocent they believed the devil’s lies but I knew I knew she was cunning and malevolent like today she threw that glass down to taunt me to remind of the day she killed Harry that was when I knew she had to be stopped I picked up the kettle and hit her such a satisfying thud then watching her crumple so wonderful I already had the box had it made in secret in case this day should come I tried to keep her in check for Jon he wanted to keep her don’t know why the hard part was the digging the hole had to be deep I worked all day upturning the soft sludge in the garden being hit with the fresh earthy odour so many worms were there so many removed from their homes some split in half is it true they become two people when that happens I squished some entirely with my spade their thin bodies burst open but I did not relent for the first time in years I had a purpose and that piece of metal was my aid if anything crossed its path as it plunged into the earth it had to pay the price dragging the coffin and its contents was difficult Tara was heavier then I had anticipated a dead weight though even if she wasn’t dead I didn’t have to worry about her rising up and killing me I had tied her up and gagged her I had nothing to worry about even if someone saw me I would tell them that I was doing right I was ridding the world of evil crushing it under the dirt I patted down each layer I piled on packing it around the coffin she would not be coming out not ever stay there beneath the ground stay in Hell its where you belong yes this is right I would say if I was caught Harry is being avenged Ben and Sally my children will be safe Tara was always trying to get to them Jon wanted to let her he said she wanted to cuddle them but I knew what she wanted she planned to kill them as she did Harry Jon and Ben didn’t understand and tried to get close to her Sally was starting to do the same I had to hurt them my husband and my son to make them understand I had to make them get the message I know it hurt they cried and I cried I didn’t want to but it was for their own good we’ll be better now she’s gone I packed the earth around her coffin she isn’t coming back all that’s left is a bloodstain on the floor I’ll clean that don’t want them seeing that they aren’t ready to know yet but they will be and they will know I did it for us for our family
Selene jumps as Jon enters the room. At her side is a mop and bucket. He notices that the grey-tiled floor is spotless. His gaze, as always, is drawn to the battered cupboard doors; constant reminders of her temper. Selene’s eyes dart around the kitchen in a panicking fashion. Jon raises his eyebrows. Selene is not a panicky person. For years now, the only two faces he has seen her with are her angry face; full of hatred, and her expressionless one.
‘You’re late’, she says, ‘Where are the children?’ The worry has left her face.
‘At your sister’s house.’ The lie escapes his lips before he considers the logic of it.
Selene narrows her eyes. ‘Why? No-one told me. Why did you take them there?’
Jon pauses for a split second. ‘I wanted to talk to you. Here, let me get you a drink.’
He walks around her towards the cupboard, reaching for two glasses. Selene remains rooted to the spot, watching as he pours a glass of orange juice for them both.
‘You didn’t ask me what I wanted’ says Selene, causing Jon to jump and fumble with the pills. Selene sees. Her eyes widen, yet she still does not move.
‘Jon?’ Her voice is hushed; shocked. ‘What are those?’
Her husband faces her, his mouth hanging open. He does not know what to say. His arms dangle uselessly at his sides, the fingers of his right hand slack, revealing the two white tablets.
Selene’s eyes narrow dangerously. ‘So’, she says softly, ‘You’re trying to kill me. That’s why the children aren’t here.’
‘No’, Jon says, his voice shaking. ‘I’d never kill you. I couldn’t. But I am taking the children. They aren’t safe around you.’
‘How can you say that? I love them! And I love you!’ Selene’s voice rises, becoming higher. ‘You’re supposed to love me!’
Jon attempts to steady his voice, ‘I do love you. I think I am the only one who still does. And if you love anyone here, you have a funny way of showing it.’
‘How dare you! Everything I do, I do for this family. To cast the evil out! To rid us of it!’
Something about Selene’s words makes Jon pause. Normally, whenever someone defied her, she would attack immediately, yet she has remained in the same spot since he had arrived. ‘Where is Tara?’
Selene’s mouth twists into a smile. ‘She isn’t going anywhere.’ She sweeps to one side. A dark red stain is revealed on the floor. ‘I’ve done it, Jon. I’ve finally done it.’
Jon stares down at the stain. He believes he is too late, that he has failed his daughter. Tearing his eyes away from the stain, he looks at his wife’s face. He sees her warped mouth, her dead, prematurely wrinkled eyes. All rational thought leaves him. He reaches for the kettle, seeing the red blotch blemishing the usually pristine white plastic. Seeing the fury in his eyes Selene tries to run, but Jon, in his rage, is too quick. He strikes her on the back of the head, knocking her to the ground. Selene, her head exploding with pain, tries to crawl away from him. Jon grabs her ankles, dragging her back towards him; her fingers scramble desperately at the floor. She breaks one leg free from his grasp and kicks out hard. Her foot connects with Jon’s jaw with a sickening crunch. His hand releases her other leg, allowing her to get shakily on her feet. However, Selene is given no time to run, as he throws himself on her, winding her. He pins her to the ground, bringing the kettle down on her head again; this time spilling blood as the skull cracks. She screams, begging him to stop, but he is deaf to her pleas. He continues hitting her until her head is reduced to a bloody mass; her once beautiful face unrecognisable. Finally, he stops. He drops the kettle and picks himself up. He goes to the sink, scrubbing himself down, watching his wife’s blood disappear down the drain. In a daze, he steps over the corpse walks to the door, and out into the night. Night. He must go back to Ben and Sally, they will be scared. As he walks, he mutters repeatedly to himself.
‘I’m sorry, Tara. I’m so sorry.’
The air’s pressing against me the atmosphere as tight as my ropes and the gag, so close so stuffy my mouth is dry need water need help need to get out. Something falling on my head, gritty, like sand, there must be a crack in the wood, could lift my head and use that to feel how bad it is but that might make it worse, can’t do anything about it, tried to wriggle out of the ropes thought the sweat would make it easier but no joy no joy. It’s okay though; Dad will be here soon he promised I know he’ll find me he wouldn’t leave without finding me. He’ll make her tell him what she’s done she’s gone too far all I did today was drop a glass and that was because she made me nervous, it was her fault not mine Harry wasn’t my fault either I was only three. That morning I felt like a proper big sister holding the baby Mum and Dad took photos and smiled Harry smiled up at me though they said he was too little to smile but I knew he was smiling just for me his round cherub face lit up when I held him. Mum and Dad turned away and Harry’s smile became more beautiful than ever and I got up to show them and he slipped I tried to hold him but I didn’t have a proper grip on him and he slipped I was too hasty getting up and he fell head first, hitting the tiles with a sickening thud and Mum screamed I was scared the tiles were red Harry was red Mum gathered him up and Dad called the ambulance but they said it was too late I didn’t understand I was three I thought the doctor could put him back together that night I asked where Harry was Mum screamed and hit me and called me murderer Dad pulled her off me and carried me upstairs and said Harry was gone but it wasn’t my fault it was an accident Mum would realise and everything would be alright but it wasn’t. Next morning at breakfast Mum had gone and the Beast was there hurting me and telling me I was bad Dad kept saying she’d stop tried telling her to stop but she hurt him and she hurt Ben when he started telling him to stop because he loved me though the Beast didn’t want him to, wouldn’t let me cuddle him as a baby same with Sally though I wouldn’t drop them now I’m older Harry was an accident I’m sorry Harry I didn’t mean to I just wanted to show them how beautiful you were. Didn’t mean to do it same with the glass, I didn’t mean to drop the glass but the Beast screamed and attacked until I blacked out and woke up here so hot in here smells bad as well sweat and earth is part of that me slowly boiling is she trying to cook me? Dad won’t let her he’ll stop her he’ll take me and Ben and Sally away like he promised he never breaks his promises. I wish we didn’t have to go I wish the Beast could be Mum again and love me I love Mum I’m sorry I wish I could bring Harry back and the five of us would be as we should have been but we can’t maybe once Dad takes us and we’ve been gone for a few years she’ll miss us and be Mum and then we can be happy, happy as we can be with just four of us but we need to go first Dad needs to find me I know he will come on Dad its hot and I can’t move or see or speak can’t hear you out there Dad, all I hear is grains of dirt trickling onto me please Dad find me find me