Disclaimer: This story, including plot, setting, all original names, places and characters belong to me. ©Michael Robertson July 16 2015
Warnings: Contains graphic violence, sexual violence, offensive language, disturbing content
Prologue I: Abandoned
He was adorned in a black suit. A briefcase was suspended by his left hand; in his right, a key, inserted into the lock. He twisted his wrist, rotating the key. It turned… it stuck.
He checked the handle. The door opened without protest.
The door was unlocked… but why? Was there anyone home? There were no lights on inside. Then again, where else would she be, what the hell was going on? Why were the lights off?
The man shrugged the burdensome puzzle from his shoulders. He supposed he wouldn’t find the answers out here. Removing the key from the lock, he stepped inside and shut the door. Placing his keys and case in their proper homes, he climbed up the stairs toward his bedroom.
“I’m home!” he called out.
Damn it, why was the door unlocked? The man had a bad feeling.
He entered his bedroom. A trickle of fear ran down his spine as he fumbled for the light.
Illumination filled his eyes, raising the curtain obfuscating his vision. Everything was normal. Why had he been so nervous? There was nothing wrong. Of course there wasn’t. His wife must have simply gone next door to help with some such emergency. That was her all over, always so helpful, but she should have left a note and locked the door, or at least not announced to everyone that the house was empty. He’d have to pop over later and steal her back, or at least enquire as to what they were to do about dinner.
The man shuffled out of his work clothes and slipped into his evening attire, consisting of a long-sleeved t-shirt and blue trousers.
The man made his way to the living room and switched on the television. It was time for the news.
“…And terror once again fills the streets of our once peaceful burrow as the unknown serial killer strikes again. No longer content to simply murder his victims, the criminal now feels a need to carve them up, mutilating the bodies almost beyond recognition. We can’t possibly know why he feels the need to do this, and for obvious reasons, we cannot show you these horrific images.”
Sick bastard, the man thought. The scumbag had been on the loose for months now. What the hell were the police playing at, why hadn’t they caught him? He was out there murdering and doing who knows what, and to kids, too. Kids! Was he afraid to take on a real man? The pervert had to go after teenagers?
“…and though he started slow, his crimes have been picking up recently, ever since that dreadful night when a teenage house party turned into a massacre, and two unsuspecting parents came home to find their house in turmoil. Valuable heirlooms stolen, their proud son murdered, their walls and carpets littered with blood and dead bodies; and things have only gotten worse since then.
“No longer satisfied with murdering children, the serial killer is now targeting entire families. Anyone who wishes to report anything suspicious is asked to contact—“
That’s just what the world needed, another psycho, taking out whole families. It was a pity he didn’t just murder himself and be done with it. The world would be better off without that brand of scum. They didn’t need his kind.
The man couldn’t just sit still. Not after hearing that. And where was Sheera? The woman had just gone out and left the door unlocked. It was a good thing they didn’t have children. That sick son of a bitch could have come in, slit their throats, and been on his merry way, and nobody would be any the wiser.
The man walked into the dimly lit kitchen. He needed a drink.
He opened the refrigerator, basking in the cool luminescence from within that spilled forth into the dimly lit room, bathing him. The man reached inside for a bottle and closed the door. Snapping off the lid with a nearby bottle opener, the man raised the glass object to his lips and allowed the amber liquid within to run down his parched throat.
That was when it caught his eye.
A white plastic bag, like a shopping bag from the local supermarket. Just sitting there. A red liquid ran from the bag and pooled with the water in the sink in which it was submerged, colouring the otherwise transparent substance. It would all run down the drain the moment the plug was pulled.
The man looked at his watch. It was almost six thirty. Where was Sheera? She was supposed to be cooking Dinner, yet here it was, lying in the sink, still defrosting. Not even ready to go into the oven, never mind being ready to eat.
Just what time was she planning to serve this… what was it, anyway?
Slowly, the man crept closer to the sink. Whatever was in the bag, it carried a strange smell. It certainly wasn’t beef. It wasn’t fish or chicken, either.
Carefully, the man peeled back the plastic covering to reveal what lay inside, to reveal what lay waiting to be prepared, cooked, and eventually, eaten.
What the man saw turned his stomach. The bottle slipped from his grasp and hit the floor with a crash, shattering into countless pieces like the metaphorical egg that slipped from the top of the wall, through fair play or foul. The contents formed a puddle at his feet, soaking and chilling them through his socks. He had to fight the urge to be physically ill.
Inside the bag was a lone item. This was no roast or fillet, it was a head, a human head, and one that he recognised… barely.
Short hair, once platinum, was now matted and stained with the bloody water in which the decapitated head now soaked. Her flawless, alabaster skin was likewise stained, broken, scarred.
Empty, lifeless eyes stared up at him. These exquisite sapphires had been so full of light, so full of life, but were now so dull, so dead.
Her mouth hung agape, extended in the sickening grin that had been carved into her pale visage as though one had jammed a knife into the face of a dummy and roughly dragged it upward in an arc.
The sickly gash had been cut from both corners of her mouth and ran most of the way to her cheekbones. The sick bastard had literally cut an ear-to-ear grin into his wife’s features. Once so graceful, so beautiful, her face had been split wide open.
It was not a clean cut, almost as messy as the one or many that had clearly separated her head from her body.
The man could only hope beyond hope that the sick deviant had had the decency to kill her before mutilating her like this. Oh god, please let it be that his wife had died before being hacked up, before being disfigured so horrendously. Please, had the killer at least granted that small mercy? Had he spared her the brunt of that pain?
The man stepped back from the horrifying display of barbarism. He needed to calm his pounding heart before it jumped right out of his chest. He placed his hand over his tee-shirt to feel the muscle pounding. He had to slow his breathing, calm down, think rationally.
He should call the police. Yes, that would be the first thing he should do.
With a few more deep breaths, he stepped backward again, expecting to lean against the back wall… only to be stopped short.
He’d bumped into something… or someone.
No, surely not. Please, please god no.
Slowly, the man turned around to meet the demon before him. At the sight, there was nothing else he could do. He cried out, jumping backward, back toward the severed head, attempting to put some meagre measure of distance between himself and this hellish figure.
The fiend was dressed clad in black. Long sleeves, gloves, tight jeans, and leather boots; over all of which was a large, grey trenchcoat, stained with the blood of Christ knew how many. The face was obscured with a large brimmed hat. In the killer’s right hand was an ordinary kitchen knife. Nothing special. The handle was standard, black plastic; the blade appeared silver, though stained orange with dry blood… or possibly rust. It was a terrible thought, but by god, the man hoped it was blood.
It was a strange choice of weapon for a serial murderer. The man wondered if his wife had been killed with her own kitchen utensils, or perhaps the killer had brought his own with him.
The killer stepped forward, knife at the ready. The murderer had been waiting for him. He was going to finish what he started.
The man’s mind went blank. For a time, for a moment, he was as still as the dead. But now, cold chills freed him of his catatonia. His body trembled.
No… this couldn’t be it. It wasn’t going to end here, not like this. He wouldn’t let it. He had to fight back. He had to defend himself. He needed… a weapon, a gun.
Shaking the inaction from his mind as though he could dispel his fear so easily, the man turned his back on the angel of death, and took off in a sprint. He had to get to the bedroom, to the closet, to the gun.
His heart pounded in his chest. His lungs burned, throat raw as he gasped for air. He stumbled up the stairs. How closely was the killer gaining? The man couldn’t hear him, didn’t feel his presence, but he was too scared to look back. He couldn’t risk slowing his mad dash.
Was the killer right behind him? He didn’t think so. What reason did the monster have to hurry? There was no way out. There was nothing… there was nothing he could do. There was only one way out, and that was through the door downstairs… down the stairs that lay just behind him.
He hazarded a glance back toward the killer. Did he have time?
The killer stood at the foot of the stairs, as if daring him to try. There was no way he could get past. The killer knew, there was no need to rush, he could take his time. He’d blocked off the exit. The man was doomed.
Fine, there was only one course of action available. Back to his original plan. He needed to get his gun. He had to stop this madman, it was the only way he’d get out of this house alive. He took one final weary glance behind him. The killer hadn’t moved. He was waiting. The killer was egging him on, waiting for him to make the first move.
The man took off once more in a sprint.
He made it to his room, slamming the door behind him. He heard it crash shut. Maybe a pointless move, but it might buy him some time, if only a little. Even half a second was better than nothing.
The man scrambled to the closet. Rough hands reached for the doors, yanking them open haphazardly. His hands moved with furious speed, sifting through the clothes on the hanger, pushing them aside. It was right at the back, hidden behind everything else.
Pushing the shirts and pants out of his way, he noticed it. Were these clothes… damp?
No, not damp, wet, and sticky. The substance rubbed off on him, coming off on his fingers. Red, dark, cold, no longer warm, but not quite dry.
Was this… blood?
Then he saw her. His precious wife, or what remained of her. While her head had been removed and placed in the kitchen, her body had remained here, in this closet. Judging by the state of the closet’s interior, this was where she had been killed.
There was blood everywhere. He could see it even in this dim light. It covered all, staining, destroying, ruining. And not just the clothes, but the carpets, the walls.
Losing sight of his goal, the man reached for his wife’s body, pulling her close. The psycho wouldn’t care about the delay, this was probably part of the game. It was what he wanted. It probably got the sick bastard off.
Her body, once so perfect, so beautiful, unblemished; now utterly destroyed, mangled, repugnant. Her clothes were torn to ribbons. Her white skin, smeared red, looked as though it had been hacked and cut. She was ripped open, torn apart. Not a piece of her had been spared. The entirety of her angelic grace and beauty was covered in stab wounds. Oh god, please let her have been dead when the monster did this.
The man hugged his decapitated wife to him. She was cold to the touch. How long had she been here?
The man could feel a lump forming in his throat. His eyes were tearing up. He was just short of crying. It was shameful, he knew. Embarrassing, unmanly, pathetic; but he was entitled, dammit. His wife had just been murdered… no, not murdered, destroyed. And he was to be next.
He had to do something. Frantically, he searched, shifting clothes. Shirts fell from hangers. Dress pants and blazers fell in a messy heap, probably ruined by the blood, but what did that matter at this point?
Finally, he found it.
Finally, the gun rack. He had only one weapon, but it was enough. Now he just had to—
Eyes widened in horror, in frozen realisation. No, no, no, no, no. This wasn’t fair! How could this be happening?!
He turned around, almost expecting—
Yep, that was about right.
The missing shotgun was right there, right in front of him. In the hands of that twisted bastard, pointing square in his face.
It looked like this was it. Everything he’d done in his life. Everything he’d accomplished. It was about to disappear before his very eyes. What was the point? Really, what was the point of any of it? His education, his savings, his house, his wife, his job? He’d worked his ass off to get where he was, but when it came to it… it was all meaningless, worthless… he was about to die, and nothing, and nobody could help him. His life at this moment, was worth nothing.
The tears spilled forth. He managed to choke out a single word.
The killer didn’t answer, he merely pumped a shell into the shotgun’s chamber, and took aim—well, he pointed the gun square in the man’s face. The art of aiming at this point was redundant, he wasn’t liable to miss at this range. The man had only seconds to live.
“Tell me,” the man pleaded. “Why? Why me, why my wife? What the fuck did we ever do to anyone!” He spoke at the top of his voice, emotion causing it to crack as though he were some pubescent teenager again.
The man knew, these were to be his final words, but he needed to know. He shouted, he screamed, he demanded.
“Why are you doing this?!”
Before the dark, dreadful night; before the bloody trails of depraved murderers, there was peace in the bustling town of Simmerville. Far away from the suburbs where the murders were to happen, the clear, blue summer sky smiled down upon the city centre.
Countless men and women moved about. In cars, on trains, on buses, on foot; in buildings, on the road, on the street.
The sun shone down upon men in suits, retreating from the dull trappings of their offices; women walking the streets, their children in tow; waitresses in dark shirts and black miniskirts, clearing coffee cups from outdoor tables.
The sun shone upon one woman in particular, reflecting off the short, fiery, red hair, running halfway down her neck.
The woman wore a loose fitting tee-shirt beneath a ribbed, tan jacket that didn’t quite match her blue denim jeans and brown high-heeled shoes. Her left arm dangled at her side, suspending a brown handbag; her right arm trailed behind her, dragging along a small child who struggled to keep up with the woman’s frantic, yet clumsy steps.
“Slow down Mama,” the young girl called out., “You’ll pull my arm off!”
“Come on darling,” her mother chastised. “Keep up, we’re in a hurry.” The woman spoke in a wispy voice, as though her mind were distant, miles away, preoccupied by some far off dream or thought.
“Where are we going?”
“We have something important to do. We’re going to the train station.”
Simmerville Central Metropolitan Train Station, as it turned out, was an enormous place. Covered train platforms stretched on as far as the eye could see, separated by stone columns to hold up the ancient ceiling above. It had all the amenities one would expect from a modern public transport hub. Bathrooms, ticket kiosks, convenience stores, even a café. In some ways, it had much in common with an international airport as far as the services and businesses operating within its walls went.
The exterior was a massive cementitious building. The main entrance sat at the head of a flight of stone steps; four sets of oak double doors were built into the stone wall. Directly above, the wall stretched up to a massive clock tower.
The doors led to a minimalist lobby. Rich brown walls met the scarlet floor below, polished to a brilliant sheen, despite the high density of foot traffic.
The heart of Simmerville was by no means a bustling metropolis. As major cities of the world went, it was probably on the smaller side of the spectrum, but the simple people of Simmerville didn’t notice. For them, a city was a city. Many of them had been born here. Some had never left the region in all their lives. Most of the people here had never seen anything larger, nor did they have any such inclination.
Mother and child had arrived at their destination with time to spare, and since the young girl was up for it, the mother took them on a detour to the local café. After all, a little lunch wouldn’t hurt… would it? It had, after all, been a good meal.
The girl didn’t know what her mother had eaten, but she’d had a banana muffin and some kind of yellow cake with pink icing. She didn’t know the exact type of cake she’d eaten, but she’d fallen in love with how bright and colourful it was. It was a beautiful cake, and it tasted almost as good as it looked. She’d had something to drink, too. A milkshake, every bit as bright as her cake. Just as pink, and splendidly sweet.
It was unusual. Mama never treated her like this, but the girl thought nothing of it and simply enjoyed the day for what it was.
It was a great day. They ate, they drank, they talked. Mama listened to her like she never had before. Sure, her eyes had a glassy look to them, and she sounded as though she were busy thinking about something else, but that wasn’t new, she was always like that. Mama never had time for her… but today she was making time. Mama was talking to her and listening to what she had to say, and that was new.
She’d even said it; she’d never said that to her before. Daddy had said it lots, but Mama never had.
She’d actually said it, and she wasn’t like daddy. When Daddy said those words, bad things always happened, but not Mama. Never Mama.
Mama never said things unless she meant them, and she’d never said those words to her before. That’s how the girl knew she’d meant them. That’s how she knew they were real.
She’d even called her by her name. Her real name. Not Darling, or one of the other nicknames Mama always called her by. She’d used her real, God-given name.
The girl was so happy.
Apparently, Mama had drunk too much of her coffee, because she needed to use the bathroom. The girl didn’t need to go, she was perfectly fine, so Mama led her to the platform. Platform seven, against the wall, right next to the timetable.
Mama told her to wait there, she’d be right back. She held her hand, looking long and hard into her eyes. She kissed her forehead, and said those three words. Backing away slowly, until their outstretched fingers could no longer continue to touch, until they could no longer reach.
The older woman stared long and hard into her daughter’s eyes, gazing upon their innocence, before finally turning away and leaving her alone.
Those three words, always preceding the bad things happening. There was never a doubt, those three words, they always led to tragedy.
“I love you.”
That was the last time the woman would see her daughter.
How long had it been? How long had she been here? The girl sat hunched up, back to the wall, knees pulled up to her chest, arms wrapped around her legs.
Mama would be right back, she’d said so, and she always meant what she said. Mama didn’t tell lies. Mama didn’t like liars. She’d be right back; she was just going to the bathroom… just going to the bathroom… she’d be right back.
So then, why was she taking so long? The girl glanced to the massive clock adorning the wall, black hands on grand ivory, and wished she could tell the time.
Where was Mama? She’d told her to wait right here. The girl was doing as she was told. She was a good girl, a good girl. So why was Mama making her wait? Why was she taking so long? Why had she left her alone? Why was she being punished? Why today, of all days? Things had been going so well. Mama had actually been talking to her. She’d been nice… and now she was gone.
The girl brought her forehead down to rest on her knees, bringing her lily petal face in and completing her tortoiseshell retreat.
Her shoulder-length red hair, exactly like her mother’s, daped over the pale skin of her knees, exposed by her denim shorts, and she resisted the urge to cry.
This was supposed to be her best day ever… but now it was turning into her worst.
“Mama…” she croaked, voice cracking with undistilled emotion, tears threatening to spill forth and escape the dam of her tightly shut eyelids, “where are you?”
The girl didn’t know how long she’d been sitting there. Minutes, hours, days? Probably not, at least she didn’t think so, but it sure felt like it. She didn’t know when exactly it had happened, but eventually, she’d reached a breaking point. It wasn’t worth holding them back anymore. Head cradled between her knees, they spilled forth. Tears.
That was when he entered. That was when he saw her, hunched over, back to the wall. Crying. Innocent. Alone. Vulnerable. Just what he was looking for. His eyes focused only on her; all else faded into obscurity. The corner of his mouth pulled upward.
He approached her slowly, carefully, stopping in front of her young, sobbing form. He crouched, bending down on one knee before her. “Hey,” he said soothingly, getting her attention.
Startled, the girl’s head jerked up, puffy, swollen eyes latching onto his dark brown orbs. “Is something wrong?” the man asked her.
The girl remained silent for a long moment, simply staring at him, until finally, “Mama’s gone.”
“Gone, what do you mean”?
“She told me to stay here… but she hasn’t come back.”
“Have you been waiting long?”
The girl answered only with a morose nod of her head.
The girl looked to the clock on the wall, and her eyes welled with fresh tears. “I don’t know. We were supposed to meet someone, but then we stopped for lunch, and then Mama said for me to stay here. It’s been so long… what if she never comes back? What if I have to wait here forever? This was the best day of my life… but now it’s turning into the worst.”
“Really? The worst? The worst ever?”
The girl paused, looking away thoughtfully. “One of the worst.”
“How can you be sure?” the man asked. “What about tomorrow, or the day after? You don’t know what the future holds. It can always get worse, and you never can tell; today might just surprise you.”
“Well… Mama was talking to me before, and listening too.”
The man quirked his brow. A parent listening to their child was nothing special. Is that really what made this day so great? “Is that new?”
The girl nodded. “Mama is always too busy for me.”
“What about your Daddy?” The girl looked away again.
“Daddy loves me… he tells me lots. Then he shows me.”
The man held out his hand. “Come on, we’d better look for her.”
“But… Mama said to wait here. If I don’t do what she says… she will be very cross.”
“It’ll be okay. You can’t stay here forever, can you? We’d better do something. Come with me and we’ll find her.”
The girl looked into the man’s brown eyes, her innocent windows filling to the brim with hope. She was so adorable. “Really?”
“Sure. We’ll take a look around, see if she’s still here.”
“If she’s still here…” the girl looked a little less hopeful. “What if… what if she’s not? What if we don’t find her? What if she’s gone… what if she left me behind?”
“How could she do something like that?”
“Because I’m a bad child. A wicked child. Wicked children deserve to be punished. They deserve everything they get.” The man felt his face harden with indignant fury at the destructive mantra the girl’s parents must have drilled into her. How the hell could they— the girl flinched at the look he must have been giving her. His cold expression melted, softened. This wasn’t right. None of it was. He tried to reassure her, his warm smile returning.
“In that case… why don’t you come with me?”
The girl hesitated. “With you?”
“Yeah. A cute little girl like you shouldn’t be all alone, so if we can’t find your mother… I’ll take you home with me. I’ll be your Daddy.” The man held out his hand, beaming at her. The girl hesitated at first, but the friendly image seemed to reassure her. The girl returned the smile and, eventually, reached out to grasp his hand.
The man pulled her up and lifted her into the air, holding her to his chest. “See, this isn’t the worst day ever.” He hugged the girl to him, burying her face in his shoulder. Unseen, the smile faded, and his friendly appearance faltered somewhat. “At least,” he added under his breath, “not yet.”
The girl walked hand in hand with the man through the building. There were packs of people everywhere. It would be hard to find anyone amongst the faceless bodies.
The girl glanced up at the man. His friendly expression was gone; his face was blank, empty eyes looked straight ahead. His thoughts seemed distant, just like Mama. The man wore polished dress shoes and trousers, and a white shirt like Daddy, but the top was unbuttoned, and he had no jacket or tie. In fact, the man carried a much scruffier appearance than both of her parents. The unbuttoned white collar was only a few tints lighter than the skin of his pale face, contrasting the messy black hair that flowed unkemptly to the nape of his neck. His dark eyes were hidden behind the black frames of square-rimmed glasses. The light reflecting off the lenses almost seemed to obscure his eyes. From the girl’s angle, she couldn’t quite make them out.
Given the way he stared ahead, and the way he loosely gripped her hand, the girl could tel: he wasn’t really there, he was paying her little mind. He must have been busy too.
She looked away, eyes scanned the many people, but then they landed upon one person in particular, exiting from one of the nearby doors, one of the nearby rooms.
She recognised that walk, those clothes, that handbag, the red hair, just like hers, but a little shorter, not quite reaching her shoulders.
The girl’s eyes widened. Her hand slipped from the man’s grip, and she broke into a run. Relief flooded the girl in the form of a grin.
The woman stiffened at the sound of the voice that called to her, but kept walking. The girl broke into a run to catch up, but the woman increased her pace.
“Hey!” the man called out, chasing after the young girl.
“Mama, Mama, it’s me. Slow down! Wait for me, wait for….”
Just then, the woman disappeared into a crowd of people and the girl’s young eyes lost track of her.
The child slowed her pace, coming to a gradual halt. Wide, staring eyes continued to peer out into the endless ocean of bodies, threatening to water once more. The grin she’d just been wearing slipped from her face and fell to the floor, shattering into a million fragments.
Her breathing quickened, coming in short, audible gasps.
Why hadn’t she stopped? Why hadn’t she come back?
Was it because the girl had disobeyed her? Was it because she didn’t stay patient and still? Was it because she’d moved from her spot?
Was Mama mad at her? Was Mama punishing her? Was this the consequence of her actions? Her stupid, impatient actions?
“Mama… I’m sorry,” she whimpered, eyes closing to stem the ebb and flow of tears. “I’m sorry!” she cried. “Mama, I’m sorry! I won’t do it again! I promise! Come back! Mama, come back!”
The man came to a halt beside the distraught girl, taking hold of her hand. People were beginning to stare. She was making a scene; so many eyes were on them. So many people, but the red haired woman was not among them. The woman she had been chasing, whomever she was, was nowhere to be seen.
The man once again knelt down, bringing himself to the young girl’s level.
“Why did she leave me?” the girl asked him. “What did I do?”
“Nothing,” the man replied, holding her close. The girl buried herself in his shirt once more. He smelled… different. Daddy always carried that strong, musky scent that she could never quite place. This man had no such smell wafting about him. “It’s not your fault,” he assured her. “You didn’t do anything.”
“Then… why?” the girl asked into his shirt, her voice muffled by the soft, smooth fabric.
The man couldn’t tell her, he didn’t know any more than she did.
The scruffy, young man glanced around him. The young girl crying into his chest had made quite a scene, but with the show over, the audience was thinning. Most had gone on their way, and those that remained kept their distance, but a few continued to stare.
Subconsciously, a hand reached up to stroke the girl’s red hair. “C’mon,” he spoke into her ear. “Let’s get you out of here.”
Having no other choice, the girl simply nodded into his chest and allowed herself to be scooped up into his arms as he carried her out.
High heeled shoes clacked against the concrete floor of the covered parking garage. The woman’s handbag swayed on her arm as she briskly walked. Her breaths came fast and short.
Briskly, she made her way over to the car. She opened the door and stepped into the passenger’s seat. Closing the door behind her, she put her bag down between her feet and rested her face in her hands.
“What happened?” asked the man in the driver’s seat. Slowly, she turned her head to look at him.
“Everything went as we planned… for the most part.”
“What do you mean?”
“It didn’t quite go without a hitch. There’s a chance I was seen.”
“And the girl?”
The girl? He wouldn’t even call her by her rightful name? Still, after all this time, why should he start now? The red haired woman sighed. “Who knows? I left her by the platforms, but… I don’t know what happened beyond that. I was in there more than an hour. By the time our business was dealt with, I’d expected somebody to have taken her away, but…”
“She found me, she saw me.”
“She came after me. She was crying, calling out for me. I wanted to go back for her. For a moment, I almost did, but…”
“You left her?”
The woman paused. “A crowd was starting to gather. I managed to slip away. I think she must have lost sight of me, or maybe she gave up. Either way, I couldn’t go back. I had to leave her.”
The man beside her nodded. “You did the right thing.”
She looked to him, to her husband. “Did I? What kind of mother simply abandons their child, no matter how much of an inconvenience they may be?”
“Don’t go thinking like that. We did what had to be done. It was the only way, I mean… consider the alternative. That child would have torn this family apart. If we’d kept her….”
“I know, but… I’m hardly likely to win mother of the year over this, am I?”
“Maybe not, But you might just be eligible for wife of the year.”
“Don’t say that.”
“I mean it. How many people would have done what you did, made that kind of sacrifice for their spouse? This may turn out to be for the best, for all of us. For her as well. She never really belonged with us. Besides, it’s not as though we can’t have another.
The woman’s eyes widened, her breath hitched. She looked to her husband. The deviant flashed her a grin.
“This is a second chance for us, a new start. We’ll report her missing, make it look legit, but once everything blows over, we’ll start again. Everything will be different from now on, I promise. We’ll be a proper family, with proper children of our own. All our own. You agree, don’t you? You’re my wife. I should be the one… the only one to give you your children.”
The woman nodded her head.
“Good.” The man leaned in and kissed her. “I know this must be unpleasant for you, but it really is for the best.” His mouth pulled upward. “Things will get better, you’ll see.”
The red-haired woman said nothing, but returned his smile, albeit half-heartedly.
The young man glanced up into the rear-view mirror. His lip curled at the sight. The girl sat sprawled out in the back seat, as comfortably as could be managed, given the seatbelt restraining her. Her head lay resting against the window, her eyes closed, lips parted slightly.
The man returned his eyes to the road. They had a fair way to go yet. All those people had seen his face, seen the scene that the girl had caused, seen her mother simply walk, no, run away. Seen the woman literally run out on her daughter.
The girl was technically a missing child, but would anybody bother to report her? Would the police get involved? If so, would those people, those spectators come forward as witnesses? Would his face be wanted? The man wondered if he’d be plastered on TV. He wondered if the mother would prostitute herself, appealing for him to return her precious child unharmed, cheeks wet with fake tears. Would he become a suspect in the kidnapping or whatever other excuse that woman concocted to cover her tracks? In any case, it wouldn’t do to stay in the city for much longer.
The man found himself stealing glances at the girl in his mirror. She was undeniably cute, there was no doubt. Especially while she slept. What had caused her mother to abandon her like that? What had gone through the woman’s mind? Surely there was some reason. The man didn’t understand, and he probably never would.
It was amusing to see the girl sleeping so soundly, given how distraught she’d been when he’d met her. Then again, the episode must have taken a lot out of her, and given her age, it was no surprise. Of course she’d be exhausted, the girl had been through a lot, and it wasn’t over yet.
Part of the man wished he could give the girl the peaceful life she deserved, a happy life in which she could bury the traumatising experience of today; but unfortunately….
The girl stirred. Jade eyes slithered open, meeting his in the mirror. The man found his smile returning.
“Where are we going?” she asked, voice slurring slightly, speaking under the influence of the slumber that still held her.
“Someplace far away,” the man elusively replied.
“Are you taking me home? Like you said? Will you be my new Daddy?”
Unfortunately… that was not to be.
The warmth slowly left the man’s face and he returned his focus to the endless road ahead.”
“I don’t think I can be your Daddy. You have one already.”
“Oh…” The girl’s reply came out low, soft, dejected. “I have one already? No. Daddies keep the little girl safe.”
“My point exactly,” the man uttered under his breath. “I don’t think I can do that.”
“But… I have nobody….” The girl sat in silence, finally asking, “Where are you taking me?”
The man hesitated. For a long moment, he said nothing. To his surprise, the girl continued to sit quietly, waiting patiently for an answer. Their eyes met in the mirror. Finally, breaking the silence, the man spoke. “Home.” If it could be called that. For some, home was a haven, a heaven; but for the unlucky, it could be a living hell. It was unfortunate, but it couldn’t be helped… could it?
He released a sigh, glancing into the mirror once more. How could anybody wish harm on this sweet little girl? If he could lessen that pain… could he help her? Could he protect her? Could he keep her safe? Could he be what she wanted, what she needed him to be… or would he be the one to make her suffer, to fuel her nightmares, to make her scream, and cry, and wish it all away?
No! This girl was so innocent, so naïve and trusting. She’d followed him almost without hesitation. He couldn’t sit by and abandon her, allow god knows what to befall her. The girl needed somebody to look out for her, someone to depend on. She needed a daddy; and in her own words, she had nothing. No one. She was all alone in this world.
“I… I’ll do what I can.” The man wouldn’t make empty promises. “All I can do is try… but for as long as I’m still here, I’ll do everything in my power to protect you, no matter what it takes, and that’s a promise I can keep.”
The girl remained silent. He could no longer glance upon her face, no longer look into those magnificent green eyes. There was nothing more he could say.