“Freedom is such a strange thing” He said to the hysterical woman, she clasped her daughter tightly, pulled her tighter as he spoke. “You don’t feel free now, but you weren’t free before, you still had to pay your bills, pay the mortgage, you don’t have to do that if you’re dead, maybe you’ll be truly free if I shoot you now”. He pointed the gun at her, the double barrel, not the most beautiful of guns, he’d have preferred something lighter, something he could twirl round his hand. She let out a little gasp and moaned, pushing herself further into the corner. “Did I say you could move?” his voice was cold, ice. She shook her head, her hair fell in tendrils shaping her face. “Every Time you disobey me, I take something of yours, this is your warning”.
He grew up with loving parents, had taken over the family farm when they’d died. At the funeral he copied the faces he’d seen in films. He’d forced himself to sob, he shook as if every handful of dirt on the coffin was a slap to the face. His aunties and uncles had came over, told him they were sorry. He’d overheard his uncle say that it was a slow death, they’d gassed themselves in the car. He wasn’t surprised they’d killed themselves, not after Ella had died so young.
He had tied the woman to the radiator as he looked through the cutlery drawer. He was ill prepared, after the husband had gone on the business trip, he’d forgot to bring his knife. His beautiful knife, long blade, white ivory handle. He took a carving knife from the drawer, the edge was straight and sharp. He took another knife out to sharpen against the chosen one, just to scare the woman, Cecelia was her name. He didn’t care for it much, she would stay unnamed. As he walked out, knives grating against each other, the woman yelped loudly. She would have to be punished.
When he and Ella were children, their father had bought her a rabbit. Flopsy, she had called it. It was a stupid animal, always ran into the same corner when he hit it. He’d lift it up by the back legs and he could hear its heart beating, it never tried to defend itself. “Only the strong should survive”, it was still a mantra he spoke to himself. One day, he’d tied a rope around its neck and left the rabbit to hop around his tree house. If it jumped, it deserved to die. If it did not, it deserved to live. It jumped and he watched it struggle and then left once it had stopped moving. The thrill of it. That was the first one, his neighbours cat went missing next. To take part in his survival games.
The child struggled as he tossed her into the other room. He didn’t need to hear her screams as he began his work. The woman was curled up, completely silent. She apologised over and over, the poker was sitting in the fire and she stared at it, her eyes red. He grabbed her hand and placed it down on the wooden board. She screamed as the knife came down on her little finger, but after that she was silent. The knife took what felt like forever to saw through the bone. She whimpered. He cauterised the wound after, she was still silent. She might just survive yet.
He and Ella had stood by the lake, the water was still but teeming with fish. He pushed her in, she struggled but failed the game. She was still as the water. He walked back to the house and felt nothing, if his own flesh and blood couldn’t survive the games, only he could. His parents had asked him where Ella was. He’d lied. when they found her, they’d screamed, blamed him for not watching her. They’d presumed he was in shock later on because he had answered that it was her own fault. As the ambulance came, he stayed inside and played with his toys. They’d sent him to psychiatrists, “everyone has their own way of grieving” they’d said to his parents.
After a while, he began to ache, he missed her. He had no one to play with, no one to talk to. The feeling was alien to him, he continued with the games.
The woman struggled as he cut her deeper, into her cheekbones and rib bones. Finding the lines that mirrored her beauty and destroying them. She’d asked where her daughter was, such an act of defiance couldn’t be tolerated. She’d be left to bleed to death after he slit her throat. He was enjoying this now, just the feeling of her wincing as he made new cuts. She collapsed down and sobbed and turned to face him. “Where’s Ella? Is she alive?”.
He fell to his knees and cried, his tears falling into the blood on the floor. He muttered under his breath “My Ella, she’s dead”. The knife clattered to the floor and before he could grab it, Cecelia had stuck it into his throat. His vision blurred as he left the world, choking on his own blood. He heard a child crying for her mother, a woman soothing. His vision went white and he saw Ella beckoning him and he walked towards her.