Final Chapter: Razor Blade and Fire
Jake's sweating face was a mask of insanity, his mop of hair hanging down into his demented eyes. "I couldn't imagine not being able to blink," he said with a twisted smile. A clouded contact dropped from his left eye, exposing the dark, twitching orb beneath. Even as Jake smiled, a single tear ran down his face, the pale moonlight shimmering across his horrible eye. Then, his features suddenly crumpled—
And he broke down completely.
"I never wanted to hurt you at all," Jake said, taking a step closer. He sniffed wetly as he looked down at the razor blade in his hands, letting the light sheen across the orange, rusted blotches on the metal. "All I wanted to do was go to school. But you couldn't have that, could you?"
I'm sorry Jake. I'm so sorry.
Jake took another step forward, the heavy boots dragging through the dried blood on the floor.
"All I wanted to do was try to be happy with Amanda, that's all. But you couldn't allow it, could you? I hate you, and I hate your whole family. You took everything from me, and you made me what I am today. You made me a monster. But I never wanted to hurt any of you."
Jarrett seemed to forget the pain as the young man spoke, tears streaming from his eyes. He could only stare in awe. The kid was pouring his heart out to him; that meant one of two things. He was going to let him go, or he was about to kill him.
I've seen his face now… he's not going to let me go.
Jarrett moaned quietly under the gag of tape as another pulse of pain washed over him, watching Jake as he cried, his heavy boot smashing the clown mask into the ground as he came closer still. Jake looked solemnly at his boots; the "Cuddles" name tag swaying slightly on his pocket as he sobbed. And then, after several rapid, shuddering breaths, his face changed. The sad victim once again faded into savage predator.
"But you pushed it too far," he said, baring his teeth, his eyebrows drawn down into a cold stare of pure hatred. He hissed ferocious breaths through his teeth, saliva dripping down his chin. Jarrett felt his empty, nauseated stomach twisting into tight knots of dread, and all he could do was stare at Jake's one white eye, shock numbing him.
"You and your troops beat me up. You made every fucking day a living hell for me. And then," Jake cut off, his whole body positively shaking with anger. The razor disappeared into a tight, quivering fist. "And then you threatened to rape my girlfriend. My Amanda. She's my whole world, and you would do that to her just to fucking get off," Jake growled, and now he was towering over Jarrett. He grabbed his face and pulled it to his, his fingers digging into Jarrett's cheeks so hard that it hurt, the tape stretching and pulling at his lips. Jarrett closed his eyes—
"Open your eyes!" Jake screamed into his face, and Jarrett wasted not a second in obeying. Jake spit trickled down his nose, the boy's livid breaths washing over his face. Jake brought the razor blade to Jarrett's right eye, pressing the dull point against the lid.
"You're in my dad's old shed, a few miles outside of town in Onneker's Woods. We own all the land out here, and nobody ever comes back here. My dad isn't even home, and by the time he gets back things will already be over. I've been keeping your dad just outside, this entire time. Are you ready for the sweet part, Jarrett? The cherry on the ice cream?"
Jake comically pulled Jarrett's head up and down, tears still glistening on his cheeks as he gazed at the boy's wide, frightened eyes. Jarrett could feel a small stab of pain as the razor blade sunk deeper into his eyelid, and then spreading warmth in his pants as he urinated on himself.
"You were too drugged to hear the gunshot, I guess. We brought your dad a pistol, and I loaded it with just one bullet. I said to him, 'you have a choice. You can shoot yourself and save your son… or you can shoot me, and you both starve to death'. And then I watched while your daddy pulled the trigger, and blew his brains all over the back of this shed."
Jarrett felt his sanity collapse, the last few remnants of his strength falling down his cheeks with his tears. His dad had died for him, had given his own life so he could go free. His father, the man he had hated throughout his entire life, had made the ultimate sacrifice for the sake of his son's future. And it had been for nothing; it was all a part of the game.
Jarrett sobbed harder than he ever had before, suddenly finding the strength to embrace his fate. He knew he was about to die. And he began to pray, even as Jake continued.
Please God, forgive me for the way I've lived my life…
"Now you know what it's like to be the victim. You know what it's like to have your family destroyed. You know what it's like to beg for mercy and get beaten down for it. And soon," he said, licking his lips as he prepared to cut, "You'll know what it's like to be in Hell."
Jake pressed the razor blade into the soft flesh of Jarrett's eyelid, working the rusted edge of the blade into the wrinkles of skin and sliding it back and forth, stretching and slicing into the folds as blood seeped down the side of his face. The muffled screams sent a pleasant chill up his back, and he began to saw faster, the eyelid spurting blood and flopping free from the glistening jelly of eye beneath. The eye itself had been punctured, and a yellowish gel was seeping from the small cut.
"It's a bit dull," Jake said to Jarrett's screaming face, and he grabbed the flap of skin that had once been an eyelid. He took it between two dirty fingers and yanked it. The skin stretched and slowly began to tear as he pulled it, ripping it the rest of the way off. He let it fall to the floor next to the crumpled clown mask, where it glistened wetly amongst the coagulated blood.
. He leaned in to hack off the other eyelid, ready to take the eye out with it if he had too, blind rage surging through his system and nullifying his thoughts—
And then he stopped, and let it fall from his hand, the bloody razor blade tinkling quietly as it landed on the floor.
I've done enough to him. Just burn it, and go home. I've done enough to him now.
Jake stared in silent satisfaction and awe as Jarrett's body convulsed, his eye swiveling wildly in the socket, blood turning its shimmering white surface pink. The duct tape pulsated and stretched, threatening to fall off with the force of Jarrett's agonized screams.
Burn it down.
Jake began to strip the clown costume off, kicking the boots away, letting the work suit fall to his feet and knuckling out the contact. He had to leave the gloves on for just a few moments longer.
He knelt and unclipped the small "Cuddles" nametag, turning it over in his hands as Jarrett continued to scream. His mother had made it for him when he was just a kid, a nametag she had stolen from work and put together for him to use on his clown costume. Something so cute and innocent had instilled such fear, much like himself. He had never been a violent kid, was always the innocent one, had always avoided trouble—And now he was about to be a murderer. He was about to end a life, and seal the fate of a family he had destroyed.
What's done is done. Burn it the fuck down.
Jake shoved it into his pocket, grabbed a dirty red gas can, and tipped it forward. The air filled with the rich stench of gasoline as the yellowish fluid swashed around inside, splashing over everything. He grabbed the wallet and soaked the table with the record player along with the horrid circus album, he soaked the jumpsuit and the mask, he swung his arms from side to side and soaked the walls, and then he dumped a healthy amount down Jarrett's body. He could only imagine what he was thinking as the gasoline dripped down his battered limbs, his eye already beginning to dry as it bulged toward the ceiling. The pain had to be unimaginable, but so was the thought of Jarrett forcing his way onto Amanda's body, struggling with her, pinning her and violating her, scarring her mind and destroying yet another life just to get another cheap thrill.
It ends tonight.
Jake shuffled backwards out of the shed, leaving a trail of gasoline out the door until the nozzle dripped empty. He tossed the can inside and closed the door, silencing Jarrett's futile screams forever. Then, two warm, slender arms wrapped around his midsection.
"Hey babe," came a smooth voice from behind him. A skinny, slender arm pressed something small and warm into his hand.
"What's this?" He asked with a smile, turning around to face Amanda. Her pretty eyes sparkled as she smiled, running her fingers through his hair.
"Eh, I decided to come back," she said with a small shrug. "I want to see them both die."
Jake smiled as their lips came together in a long, passionate kiss. He opened his hand. Amanda had given him a lighter.
"What happened to using matches? That was your idea, babe. Remember? No prints?"
Amanda silenced him with a kiss, wrapping her arms around his neck.
"I took it from his dad. I thought it would be perfect to use. Kinda symbolic, you know?"
Jake felt warm happiness surging up inside him as he felt her body against his, closing his eyes and letting himself disappear into their love as he kissed her. No one else would have stuck by his side like she had, and anyone else would have thought him to be completely insane. She had watched over Jarrett's father in the time that Jake was gone, she had suggested that Jake should ask riddles ("Make him play your game," she had said), and she had found the horrible circus record in her basement. She was no murderer, but she was his accomplice. More than that, she was his life, and the best thing that had ever happened to him. He loved her, and that meant he would die for her. Lie for her. Kill for her.
Jake snicked the lighter open, the dancing yellow flame glistening in his eyes as Amanda's hand wrapped around his, and they knelt together. He felt her hug him tightly as their hands touched the ground, the flame touching the gasoline trail—
The fire raced along the path and into the shed like a streak of lightning, the roof nearly popping off as fire and heat burst out through the windows. A thick plume of smoke towered into the sky as a thick wall of heat rushed at them, the angry flames roaring as they began to eat the shed. The door swung slowly open, a huge churning ball of flame pouring out of the opening and swirling up to ignite the roof. Glass shattered as a window popped, and a huge, flaming chunk of wood plopped to the ground. Thousands of embers swirled up into the night sky like angry stars.
"Can you hear him screaming?" Amanda asked as Jake held her close, the firelight sparkling in their mesmerized eyes. He slid the gloves off and tossed them into the open door, the flames and smoke too thick for him to see what had become of Jarrett.
"Yeah," Jake said with a small smile, sliding his fingers between hers and resting his chin on her head, feeling her warm breaths on his chest. "That thing won't last much longer, and there's welding stuff in there. We gotta go."
They left together and behind them, as if on cue, the roof groaned like a dying animal and collapsed into the shed, sending a huge fireball of flame and sparks mushrooming into the dark, smoky sky.
After nearly an hour of walking, the ground shook violently as the tanks exploded behind them. Jake and Amanda turned to see an enormous plume of smoke towering into the sky, sending thousands of pieces of flaming debris scattering in all directions. They watched in awe as it swirled high into the sky, so bright that the low-lying clouds had turned orange, the moon a dim white shape in the heavy smog. Jake plunged his hand into his pocket, using the tail of his shirt as a makeshift glove, and pulled out the wallet. The nametag had become lodged inside it, and Jake left it. He let the wallet fall to the path, and then felt Amanda's lips on his neck. He wrapped his arms around her and held her close.
"I love you, Amanda," Jake said, as the explosion began to dissipate.
"I love you too, Cuddles," she said, with a small smile.
Jake didn't know if he was crazy. He didn't know if Amanda was crazy. He didn't know if their alibi would work, he didn't know what did know one thing for sure: Jarrett had gotten what he had deserved, and he had killed him for revenge, and more importantly, for the girl he loved.
And I'd do it again, he thought darkly as he held her. I'd do it again.