- Tell me the truth. Why did you do it? What’s wrong with you?
The barrel of the gun points right between his eyes. He looks close to tears. We’ve been at this for a while now – me asking questions, but getting no meaningful answers.
- I’m sorry, he says, I never meant it. It just happened.
- No… that’s not good enough. No excuses. I’m going to kill you, I really am.
And I mean it. God, do I mean it. The gun’s loaded and cocked. My finger’s twitching against the trigger and I know it won’t take much pressure before the pistol erupts and a bullet smashes into that hateful face that stares back at me, cold and unblinking. I refuse to look away from those dark eyes.
- Why did you do it? Why? That’s all I want to know. Tell me.
- I don’t know. None of it was meant to happen. I didn’t know what I was doing. I’m not well.
That face. There’s nothing there – just a vacant look, no emotion, no feelings. Nothing. He doesn’t care what happens. He’s saying all the right things, as if he doesn’t want to die, but I know he doesn’t care either way really. He knows it’s going to happen no matter what he says. But before I kill him I want to know why it happened. I need to understand, or at least try to.
- I loved her, I say.
- I know. I’m sorry. I did too.
- YOU don’t know what love is! You’re an animal!
Tears roll down my cheeks, images flashing into my mind that I can’t bear to see again.
- She… she was going to tell. I couldn’t allow that. You know that. I tried to stop her but she was going to tell… what could I do? I tried to talk to her, to explain… but she wouldn’t listen. She didn’t understand!
He’s crying too now, like me. Crocodile tears. I’ve no sympathy. He’s a monster, and he deserves to die. It’s the only way out of this thing.
I roar in anger, banging the gun against the side of my head until my skull starts to throb in pain. A trickle of blood runs from my temple, down my cheek. Its warmth is almost comforting. I taste it at the corner of my mouth – salt, bitterness. Reality.
I close my eyes, squeezing them tight shut. When I open them that face is still there, staring at me, like I knew it would be. I straighten my arm, the gun once more pointing straight at his forehead.
The man in front of me – my captive, facing me, finally under my control; he abused my daughter. Time and time again, for months. Nobody knew. The things she went through… she never told anyone, because this monster told her he would do terrible things if she ever said anything. So she never did. But my wife… she figured it out. She saw the signs, and eventually when she could deny it no more she confronted him, all alone.
He denied everything, but a day later, he came back. He followed her into our house, then into our bedroom, where he pinned her to our bed, put his hands round her throat and squeezed his thumbs tight until her body stopped convulsing beneath him. When he was sure she was dead he took a blanket from the cupboard and laid it over her face, before leaving her there for me to find.
What could I do now other than kill him? What choice did I have?
- Please, he said, I didn’t know what I was doing…
- SHUT UP! SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP!
I can’t bear to look at him any longer. I squeeze my eyes shut, my finger as tight on the trigger as it can be without setting off the gun. My head is pounding now. I know I should have taken my medication earlier. Much, much earlier.
I open my eyes and pull the trigger at the same time. The mirror shatters into tiny pieces, showering the floor with broken glass, and the face in front of me is gone, replaced by a single bullet hole in the bathroom wall. Now there’s only the other me – the beast, the murderer, the sick one. The monster.
I turn the gun around and put the barrel deep into my mouth. It’s over. I pull the trigger again.
Bio: Nick Boldock is a Yorkshire-based 36-year-old writer of dark and unsettling fiction. He has been published in print by Byker Books, Fathom Press, Pill Hill Press and others, and his stories appear online at various sites including Pulp Metal Magazine and TKnC. He is currently working on a novella. More information at www.nickboldock.co.uk