[Big sorry to all the people who had to wait so long for the third part to come up. I have been plain lazy and I am actively looking for a cure. In the meantime, Dessert, and also something that I originally didn't have in mind; a Part Four!!]
Part Three: Dessert
There is a jazz band playing somewhere. I can hear the steady tinkle of the cymbals and the soft brush strokes over the snare, smartly doing a ball dance with the kick coming in at predefined intervals. I can feel a smoky room, waiters shuffling around picking up a glass here and laying down a gossip there. I could wager my life that I can hear a jazz band playing somewhere close by.
You must have seen those big putty maps that lay out in the middle of the town centers or city centers or whatever you call them. They have little ridges, bumps and crevices, showing the forests, houses, roads, hills and just about everything else around the town. You avoid everyone’s eyes, make sure no one is looking and quickly run your hand over the surface. It always leaves you with a funny, tingly feeling at the tips of your fingers as you imagine yourself to be God, waving his hand over all creation, over river, hill, road, building and all else.
That just about sums up how my face feels. Except, I don’t feel God.
My eyes are mostly swollen shut; it feels like someone has put in one big pebble each on the inside of my eyelids. The rivers on my face all seem to be going down under. I don’t try to touch my nose; it makes me shudder just to think of what it might have become. There is a strong smell of vegetable fat, coming from my face. A few teeth roll around freely inside my mouth. Such a beautiful mess, this. A perfect facial barbecue.
Let me help you, he says and I feel something cover my face, whole. Pain, white hot, sets a thousand alarm bells ringing in my head. I feel faint. Through my half closed eyes, I can see him holding something big and square in his hands and grinning at it. It has dark brown edges and the center of it is a big patch of crimson. He has another of his twisted flowers in place now. His creative fulfillment.
That talkin’ bastard.
I am still struggling to stay conscious as he turns to me, the same grin pasted on his face. Thank you, he says. It’s been lovely knowing you, he says. I am really sorry, but there is food for only one. From the looks of it, you won’t need much food anytime soon. But yeah, thanks to you, I don’t think I would need to go and get fresh food supplies. So, thank you, he says. End of monologue. I catch him getting ready to swing the frying pan for one last time.
And I duck.
The pan resonates with a dull thud where my head had been half a second ago. The vibration of the pan is hard against his hands; he lets go. I see my chance and push him blindly. It’s my only chance. The idiot loves cooking over the fire.
It’s a shame he forgot to turn the gas off.
Like a sixteen wheeler out of control, I blunder across the room, tripping over things, clutching at whatever I can to prevent me falling over. He is screaming somewhere in the background; his voice is rather muffled. The pan managed to not only fry my face, but most of my hearing as well. I see a runny, shaky picture of a room in front of my eyes and try to maintain my consciousness. God-damn. This isn’t what I had asked for.
I have fallen down; managed to take about a total of thirty steps away from him. It’s strange he is not catching up on me. The screaming continues in the background. The house feels a little hot. Fuckin’ moron is bringing the house down.
His screams tell me the house is on fire. I see a blurry moving lump of yellow shaking flames try to douse itself with water from the tap. There are tongues of flame slowly starting to lick around me. From the place on the floor, all the things are playing out in front of me at over-the-head-level. Almost makes me feel like being in a planetarium, watching the Armageddon fold right out in front of my eyes.
He just can’t stop screaming. I think he is burnt up pretty bad. The smell of burning flesh starts to gel in comfortably with the crackling wood around the house. If you are me, you know the smell of burning flesh among a million other smells. Don’t ask me how I know this. Like I said once before, there are certain things you wouldn’t want to know.
The house is going to go up in smoke, that’s for sure. If I want to get out alive from this place, this is probably the only chance I would get. Either out looking like an ‘alive and kickin’ human version of a mashed potato with ketchup for a face or a dead roasted duck like him. I choose the former.
My vision is swimming. The entire room is being enacted out like a short psychedelic sequence from some drug movie. The fire is spreading in a yellow warm glow around me. In my mind’s eye, I can visualize the roses catching fire and wilting, curling into paper rose ashes. There is a speeded up video reel which is unfolding in some other corner of my head. This reel is showing faces being smashed against various places; walls, frying pans, the floor, the sink next to the stove, a chair and places that I can’t identify. A mélange of voices are echoing all around me; groans, thuds, sickening crunches and breaking glass. Elsewhere, I can imagine shelves full of strange objects; strange and twisted dolls, half eaten sandwiches, broken down Rubik’s cubes, mostly shred to pieces with disgust, catching fire. These are not imaginary. I remember seeing them to the room on the right. All of it must be having a bust time turning into a part of the burnt pile that the house is slowly but surely turning into. That place is a dead end. I have enough time to figure out the exit before the house comes down; but the challenge is I must find the door. With the kind of condition my face is in, looking through my own eyes feels like solving the most difficult quadratic equation at the moment. I continue my efforts at finding a way out, figuring that the fire and pain are my only enemies at the moment.
I couldn’t have been more wrong.
The wood splinters as something goes through it, inches above my head. He is getting better and closer. The chase is still on.
I picked up a little speed. The pain has turned into a dull throb by now but the room is much hotter. The headache, as expected is gone. Without it, I feel sharper, wittier, and almost ready to crack a funny line like a stand-up comedian. I turn only for a second to catch a glimpse of the guy who is after me.
For this, I really wish I was a writer. A good novelist could spend an entire chapter just on his face. It isn’t much different from mine I am sure; but when you don’t have a mirror to hold to yourself in a burning house, every other burnt up face you come across seems unique and pretty gruesome to you. The last bit, I made up, because from the looks of it, I am not going to become a writer. And talking about looks, I am sure neither of us is looking too hot at the moment.
All of his limbs seem to be in perfect order; except he is a little sluggish, just like me. Both of us are starting to feel a little exhausted with the game of ‘tag’ and want to give in. Giving in at this point means only one of us going out of the house. So that is surely not an option.
I duck and turn towards the other direction. I am still blundering through the house, as lost as a ship in sea storm with a broken compass. My knees hit against some upturned chair and then knock painfully against the edge of a table. It’s strange how things that you thought were buying for a bargain end up hurting you in the long run in more ways than one. But there is no way to know about it. Same goes for life too I guess.
I want to smirk at my own wisdom but I think my lower lip is in pretty bad shape. It’s mostly swollen to a small balloon and should have ideally been touching the tip of my nose; but it isn’t. I am pretty much scared to wonder about my facial topography; I would rather get out of the house alive at this point. My right foot clangs against something on the floor and my instinct immediately tells me what it is. It’s my trust worthy knife, the one I dropped when that pan came and hit my face like a jet.
Talk about sweet timing.
I bend and try to feel it like a blind man. My back creaks like a detuned violin in my inner ear. It’s a surprise that my inner ear works perfectly. In case you don’t know what the difference between an inner ear and the outer is, I could give you a simple example. The inner ear is the one where you hear your own voice and a ‘swoosh swoosh’ sound when your nose gets blocked. It also pops open from time to time and suddenly opens you up to a brand new audio factory that you never knew existed. The outer ear is the one which gets screwed when someone hits you flat with a frying pan.
Clutching the knife with my left hand, I have found a doorknob; now only if it was connected to a door. I feel the round wooden surface, still cool among the burning wreckage around it. Slivers of wood on the other side of it cut into my hand but I don’t notice. I clutch it tighter, hoping it to connect to some invisible door and get me out of this burning inferno of things-gone-wrong.
My logic is still up for my rescue. Where there is a will, there is a way. Where there is a door knob, there is a door. I am beating across hot burning wood, hoping for a way out. The entire house is on fire. I hear beams and rafters crashing in the distance. Time is running out, burning, turning into ashes aiding the sweltering inferno gathering around me.
And then it happens; right out of the blue. My hand gets singed on burning wood and I claw at it. The skin on my palm is probably cheap CGI from some B-grade Hollywood flick, but this is real. There are bits of the door which are coming off. The stupid thing is stuck on hinges.
It rattles for a while before the bolt finally gives in with all the frenzied tugging. I quickly make an exit, choking, wheezing like an asthamatic, quickly shutting the door behind me.
Commercial Break. Just what I needed.
My lungs clutch greedily at the freely available oxygen. The house-that-was has almost become the-house-that-never-will-be. The drama is over. I cooked the bastard with his own recipe. It is done. Maybe a little overdone, but I am sure it tastes as good as the others did.
Am I the animal you are thinking that I am? Possibly. In a larger scheme of things, I would have to disagree with you. I admit the fact that when I set out to do what I did, I had no clue this was the guy would end up facing. I don’t know what he did with their bodies though. I still don’t. I just hope its not something as vile and disgusting as you are thinking. Or I am.
He was a killer right? So am I, but that is beside the point. Contrary to my original intention, I actually ended up doing a philanthropic bit for humanity. Now there is one killer instead of two. Natural selection, as Darwin would say. Survival of the fittest.
There is no sound coming from behind me. The fire is dying down. The occasional crackling escapes the inferno-that-was, as a piece of wood gives way inside. There was a muffled explosion sometime back. His small cooking cylinder is no more. I pray to the Almighty, hoping that the bloke is done in.
I never find out when I slip into unconsciousness due to exhaustion.
I don’t identify the creature sitting in front of me as I come back to my senses. At some point in its life, it might have been human. It now looks like a badly made human model, made out of cheap clay which never set after being completed. I can see places where it possibly got chipped; a bad imitation. He is not moving.
It’s not over .Why won’t it just get over!
The house behind me is a blackened pile of burnt wood. The sun is out again. It’s not as hot as it was yesterday. I can feel new places in my body, starting to protest the pain growing by the minute. My life is not going to go back to normal; not this moment on. There wouldn’t be afternoons searching for victims, trying to make my headache go away. Not after what happened. And with the creature sitting infront of me, this episode, is yet to come to an end.
He probably waited all night, sitting in front of me, waiting for me to come to senses. Kill only when you know he would feel it. Providing pain only when it could be experienced. Wait it out, like a patient hunt in the jungle. This guy played by the book. I almost feel a new respect for him, though I know that the end is near. Then he does something I never expect.
He gives me his right hand and pulls me up to my feet.
There are hundreds upon thousands of stories and tomes written on the lesson of humanity in humans. The word itself takes birth from ‘human’. It is a quality that is supposed to come like a shopping tag, attached to something new that you are buying at the supermarket; but to expect it from a serial killer? It would obviously be over expecting a bit, but after what I went through last night, I am not surprised. People have a change of heart all the time. Someone becomes a believer after coming out of a coma. Someone ends up going to the church when he becomes bankrupt. I start believing in miracles.
His face is dreadful to look at. I look away. Both of us slowly start walking down the hill, towards a new fate. He has had a change of heart. However hard it is for me to believe, I take refuge in the unbelievable. Hasn’t it been helpful so far?
The fingers of my left hand are aching. They have been gripping something very tightly inside my pocket; something that I failed to notice. I take it out only a bit. You need not need telling what it is.
I smile to myself and look at him. He doesn’t look and keeps on walking.