SILHOUETTES - Thirty-first instalment - Chapter fifty-one, fifty-two, and fifty-three. For more information on this novel, click Here.
'He was no good,' he kept whispering to himself, over and over. 'He was no good.' Tears were streaming down his face. 'It has happened again.'
He took a swig from the half bottle of whisky he had bought before running into the park, sure that the shopkeeper had recognized him, His picture was staring up at him from the front of the early edition of the Evening News. He had wanted to buy a copy and read about himself, but was too scared he'd attract closer attention. The few sentences he did read though while he waited for his change made him out to be some type of deranged serial killer.
'But, he didn't mean it,' he whispered, and he thought back, long ago to that night, when he started the fire.
Sitting on the swing at the park, it was late, perhaps ten o'clock, getting dark, no one around but a sole dog walker across the way, and heading to the exit gate. The vision came forth, his mother's pale behind, her face, turning to him, gaping with surprise, on her knees over the bed, arse in the air. Mr Marshall leering at him, almost smiling, trousers at ankles, a hand on her rear. He couldn't get the images away from him, out of his mind, and then, appearing from nowhere, a bearded man, who turned to look down at him.
'They'll have to die,' he said, quietly, but clearly, in the calm evening, in the park. 'They'll have to die.'
Simon looked up at the figure. It wasn't real, he knew. It was some kind of hallucination, he thought.
'Don't you recognize me?' asked the man. 'You know my work well enough.'
'Tennyson,' whispered Simon, and got a nod in return.
'Pleased to meet you at last, heard so much about you.'
'Who'll have to die?' Simon asked, but he knew what the answer was, his mother had to die, and the teacher had to die. He would kill them together. He pulled the Zippo lighter from his pocket, the one his father thought he had left in the pub, or lost somewhere else, but he had sneakily borrowed to start fires in the woods, and when his father replaced it with a new one, he had kept it, a secret. His father knew though.
'Ah, sad and strange as in dark summer dawns
The earliest pipe of half-awaken'd birds
To dying ears, when unto dying eyes
The casement slowly grows a glimmering square;
So sad, so strange, the days that are no more.'
The verse seemed all the more potent when recited by the actual poet. He recognized Tears, Idle Tears, and as he was wiping his own away from his face, Tennyson leaned close to him and uttered.
'You shall burn them both alive,' and he pointed at the lighter.
Tennyson paced back and forth before him. The tears had gone, and Tennyson was right, they deserved to die, how could she treat his Dad like that? How it would hurt his father.
'Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do and die.'
And Tennyson was gone, as suddenly as he had appeared, but Simon had a mission, and a burning hatred consumed him then, and he set himself back home. If Mr Marshall was still there he would do it tonight.
Sure enough, the teacher's car was parked up the street. He crept into the house, it was late and the street was empty, not even a curtain twitched in the neighbourhood. He had never burned a house before, and it began to seem so complicated a task that he was ready to give up for the night and think about some other way to do the deed. Then a whisper in his ear from a voice he knew, and he entered the kitchen. He turned on the gas at full, put the chip pan on the burner and watched while the heat melted the lard. He then looked under the sink for products that said highly flammable on the label, and he placed these close, but not directly next to the cooker. When the fat ignited he wanted the flames to reach out and take advantage.
He left by the back door, down the garden, jumped the fence, circled the houses so he came to the other side and sunk himself into the bushes, far enough away not to be noticed, but close enough to watch. His parent's bedroom light was on. Surely he would not have long to wait.
He heard a crash of breaking glass before he saw any hint of smoke or flame. It sounded like the kitchen window blowing out. Then a billow of smoke, then the smoke turned from pale grey to black, and thickened out, coming above the house from the rear. It wasn't long before he noticed the first of the flames, the fire licking its way around the living room, then the curtains were ablaze, and that window blew out in an explosion of gas and heat, and as oxygen was searched for and sucked into the interior, the flames grew and the smoke billowed, and the whole of the downstairs of the house was ablaze. It was truly magnificent. He flicked the lid of the Zippo open and shut as he watched. Then the teacher was at the window of his bedroom in the loft, his parents had converted it for him last summer. So much more space than the box room he had before. Mr Marshall smashed the glass out, smoke was already in the room, the flames weren't far behind, but as he watched, he saw it was not the teacher, though the teacher's car was parked just up the street. It was his father, and as he watched, his mother also appeared at the window, and the smoke and flames were choking them, and the pain of the heat was burning them. He could see and hear the ferocity of the blaze, and his father, in desperation, practically threw his mother out the window where she fell three flights to the ground. A split second later his father had jumped, clothes already on fire, and he knew by the stillness of them both, on the concrete ground at the front of the house, that they had leapt from his room to their death. His father was dead, and he had killed him.
'And it has happened again,' he whispered once more. He felt ashamed now, not because he had murdered the wrong person, but because he rarely gave his father a second thought now, and because he had never gone back to Dumfries to avenge him by killing the school teacher. He decided then, that as he would have to move to start again, he would move somewhere in the Dumfries area, and he would settle up with the teacher. No need to panic.
He realised it wasn't his fault entirely. Yes, he had been lax in his surveillance of the alien Dave Stuart, but perhaps by some precognition, the alien had arranged a replacement to take his place to make him think he had done the deed. They must be clever bastards if they can space travel, so who knows what kind of powers they may possess. It was already decided that he would do for the alien though, so he could not leave until his work was done. He would have to move quickly, for it was only a matter of time before he was recognized and cornered here.
He took another swig from the bottle and swallowed a pill. He had only a few of the Chlorpromazine left. How he would get more he didn't know. He threw the bottle into the bushes, and heard the remaining spirit spill out as he stood up and set off for Sycamore Lane.
The fact that he couldn't get the image of Jo naked, back arched over that inflatable ball, breasts thrust out, one leg in the air, that he couldn't get that image of those beautiful curves out of his head, was why he decided to call her. He couldn't believe his luck when she invited him to come round there and then, most of the house mates were out partying, and Debbie had a late study session with some of the students in her sociology class.
He left the flat with a spring in his step. This time was pleasure, not work, he promised, and he swore he would switch off the chip before he got down to it with Jo. As pleasurable as it had been in the past replaying sexual encounters with females later on in private, he didn't want to end up turning into some kind of pervert, and also, no matter how remote a possibility it may be, he did not want Jo to find out about the chip, ever.
As he turned off Sycamore Lane on to the main road towards the university campus and Lomond Lane where Jo resided with her house mates, he saw the police car coming towards him at high speed, the blue lights flashing, though the siren was off. Cars in front pulled in to the side to allow it to pass, and then it was racing past him. He was mildly curious when he seen it turn into his own street and wondered if the bastard two doors down had been beating up his wife again, but gave it no more thought, he had better things to think about, sexual things.
Jo had prepared a cafetiere full of strong Columbian coffee. The smell of fresh coffee took over the house. He sat at the kitchen table and she poured him a mug. The two laptops were powered up, the pages of some pro independence websites were open. He had promised himself this would not be about work, but he supposed he could mix some work with pleasure.
'Are they a militant bunch?' he asked.
'The Cybernats,' he said.
'They're all pussy-cats,' she said, 'there's never been so much as a bloody nose in the way of violence in the campaign for independence. What's your view?'
'But,' asked Dave, scrolling down a page of text which was a rant complaining about the biased BBC television coverage of a recent debate, 'how do you join, who runs the show, dictates policy, sets the agenda?'
'Ah,' Jo smiled and sat down next to him, she smelled delicious, he thought. She began bringing up other websites and blogs.
'You've been taken in by the message the UK mass media likes to portray, but all these websites, all these blogs,' she pointed and clicked as she spoke, 'are all run by individuals, amateurs, who are only putting up their opinions, and showing their support for an independent Scotland. There are no members of some secret gang or society there. Just normal everyday people, who want Scotland to be free to run its own affairs. So,' she asked again, 'what's your view?'
The question surprised him, but he realised it shouldn't have. He had assumed that although born in Scotland, as he had lived most of his life in the United States, that any opinion he had would be irrelevant.
'Oh, I'm quite easy about Scotland getting independence,' he said.
'Well, you'll have a vote,' said Jo, 'if you register.'
He gave her a surprised look.
'If you live and work in Scotland, you have the right to vote in the referendum.'
She got up from the table and went to the fridge and brought out a large plate.
'I made us a pizza earlier, my speciality, toppings of cheese, tomato, ham, mushrooms, and pineapples chunks.' She held the dish before him. 'Well, I made it for me and Debs,' she corrected, 'but she forgot about a study group and had to go out, so it is ours. Hope you're hungry.'
She placed the large disc in the oven and turned it on. Things were going well, he thought.
There was a police car on the street outside the house, one man in the driver's seat. It was possible if it arrived with two, one could be inside talking to the alien, perhaps being taken over by the alien. Are they gone for ever when that happens, he wondered, or can they be redeemed? He had no guidance, and had to think for himself. All he knew was he had to kill the alien. But what if aliens were all around, infecting the whole of society? He grinned to himself, and a passing woman pulled her child closer to her side as he walked past them.
There was no need to panic, because it was too late to panic, he realised. The panic had only ever been about discovery, and now that they all knew of him, and were hunting him, then there wasn't much point in any pretence about having to worry about panic.
He had reached the back of the police car, the sole occupant seemed to be reading a book, a novel, unaware of his proximity. He reached behind him, with deft movement had the side of the hold-all unzipped enough to grab the cleaver from within. Almost with surprising ease, the back door of the car opened as he clasped it, and he was entering the vehicle as the driver turned to see what was going on. Too late to draw back, too late even to realise that Simon Parker was in the back seat, the blade was sprung forward, and drawn quickly back across the side of his neck. Simon watched the driver, a police sergeant try to utter something as he sliced at the neck again, then once more to be sure. Blood was everywhere inside the vehicle, it had sprayed out the wounds, forcefully enough at first to splatter the front interior and windscreen. He couldn't hope to have more than minutes. He wiped the blade on the back seat of the car and leapt out, noticed he had escaped with nothing but a few droplets on his clothes, and ran to the entry to the tenement building where Dave Stuart lived.
It was nothing but heaven sent luck that one of the residents was leaving just as he reached the security door. Without warning, he ran past the woman, the blade still in his hands, and he leapt up the stairs, middle house on the left, he knew.
The resident saw the wild looking man with the knife, dropped the bag she was carrying, and ran for the street, saw the police car and approached in a state of alarm, then screamed, and screamed, pulling at her hair, as she saw the slumped and bloody figure of the policeman within. She ran up the street, screaming.
Simon reached Stuart's door and without thought took a run at it and threw his weight against it, with a crack of splintering wood it gave way and opened to slam against the wall of the hallway. He ran in and entered the main room, looking for Dave Stuart, though even in the mindless fury of his actions, he realised that if Stuart was here then he would have come to see what the noise was all about.
When he reached the large room of the bedsit, he briefly looked out to the street, he could hear the screams of the woman, people were approaching her to calm her, they would realise why she was screaming very shortly.
He looked around the room for a sign of where Dave Stuart could be. He wasn't at work. He checked the bathroom. He wasn't at home, who did he know?
Already he could hear sirens approach. He had seconds to get out of here. Then he noticed the phone number on the coffee table, and an address scrawled under it. He shoved it in his pocket, had a last glimpse around, then left the flat, ran down the stairs, but left the building by the rear exit into the backyard. Quickly, he made his way along, climbing boundary fences as they came, till he had distance between himself and the sirens closing on the house behind.
Next instalment coming soon...
To read this novel from the start go here.
Copyright © Stevie Mach 2013 All rights reserved