A boy's pain ends and a man's madness begins. Can there ever be heros among monsters?
|The boy sat alone in the pitch black house, on the floor of what must have been the kitchen, tears streaming down his cheeks. Out of habit, he did his best to sob quietly even though the drying blood beneath his fingertips told him he didn't have to worry about Daddy anymore. The freezing cold winter wind blew in through the open window above the sink and peppered his flesh with goose-bumps. "I didn't mean it." he thought to himself, which was half true.
He hadn't meant for the knife to go in as deeply as it did, hadn't wanted Daddy to fall back into that mirror. He had just wanted Daddy to leave him alone and let him put his clothes back on. But that didn't matter now. Nothing did. Daddy was still now, laying down on the floor and looking up at the ceiling with eyes that didn't see anything, the boy was alone and all he wanted now was to vanish into the blackness that surrounded him, so nobody could find him and hurt him for what he did. He curled into a ball and lay still against the thin, cracked tile, and cried, this time as loudly as he wanted to.
He lay there until the darkness outside turned into light, and then into darkness again. He wanted to go still, like Daddy, because he knew that if he was still, he wouldn't be cold or scared anymore and that seemed better to him than the freezing floor. He lay there for so long that he wasn't sure if he was awake or dreaming when the Man in Black came. The boy didn't notice him at first, hadn't heard the door open or heard any footsteps and he couldn't really even see him in the blackness of the kitchen. At first, the boy thought it was just a shadow until he realized that shadows didn't have pale blue eyes and that shadows didn't smile. He felt the chill melt away as the Man in Black covered him with a warm blanket and helped him slowly to his feet. "Why are you crying son?" he asked. His voice was kind and reminded the boy of his grandpa.
Not his real grandpa, the boy had never met his real one, but the one he saw in his dreams that always made him feel loved and safe. "Daddy's...hurt." He said softly, so softly that the Man leaned in closer and said: " Speak up son, you have nothing to fear from me." " Daddy's hurt," he repeated meekly. " I know." responded the man with a sincere smile. "That's why I'm here." "How do you know?" The boy asked. "This place reeks of spilled blood and pain, it calls to me," he said casually as if that made all the sense in the world. " What?" the boy asked confused. The man sighed as if to show that an explanation would be far too exhausting for him and he just ruffled the boy's hair. " Don't worry about it son, what matters is that I'm here now." " Am I in trouble?" the boy asked with a trembling lip. " I didn't mean it... I'm sorry."
" Of course you meant it son, and don't be sorry! " said the Man in Black with a gentle, reassuring tone. " You did something grand, and show so much potential." The boy didn't know what the man was talking about and didn't really care, he was just thankful to be warm and out of trouble. "What's going to happen now?" the boy asked. " Now, you're going to come with me, you have a great future ahead of you, and I'll show you how to get there, but first I think we ought to get you cleaned up, and then get you something to eat, you must be hungry no?" said the Man with a sly grin as he extended his hand to the boy. The man's offer of a meal, and on a deeper level, the man's kindness towards him, filled the boy with joy and caused his eyes to fill with a different kind of tears. looking up at the Man in Black, he asked him something that in the back of his young mind he knew couldn't be true but desperately wanted it to be. " Are.. are you my grandpa?" he asked. The man paused for a moment as if thinking over the question before replying with the warmest smile he could produce, " Of course son, now no more questions, it's time to go home." With that, the boy took the Man's hand and they walked out of the decrepit house side by side into the shadows. The boy's tears dried up that night, after that he never cried again.
"Now Mason, I realize the answers to the questions I'm about to ask are attached to very traumatic memories for you, but you need to understand that I have to ask them. You need to let yourself remember, only then can you start to forgive yourself."
Said Dr. Morgan with a glint of something that might have resembled authentic compassion in his otherwise cold and pale blue eyes. Mason almost believed the Doctor's words. Almost.
"What would the point be Doc?" replied Mason with a voice that expressed a kind of serenity and self-acceptance that was very uncharacteristic of him, at least to the Doctor's ears. "They just shot down my last appeal, the date has been set," he said with a tired sigh. He leaned his head back against the chair and let his eyes wander the drab office and asked himself "How many times have I been in this room? Will this be the last time?"
" So you can pass with a clear conscience, Mason, so when you get to the other side you can look those people you killed in the face and say you tried to make amends," replied Dr.Morgan with thinly disguised disgust. The comment cut Mason deep, not because he was guilty but because in reality, Mason had never harmed anyone in his life. It hurt because it showed the fact that even in the end, nobody believed in his innocence.
He was going to die in a few days and then the truth would never come out, he would be written off as some sick fuck that got what he deserved and there would never be any real justice for those that died all those years ago. The realization hit him like a train and he felt nauseous but retained his composure. " You have a right to be outraged, but not at me," said Mason calmly despite himself. " Look at the facts." he implored. " I left work that night at 7:30, my co-workers can confirm this. Even on nights when there was no traffic at all the distance from where I worked back then to that house was 45 minutes, meaning the earliest I could have been there was 8:15, and the medical examiner's testimony states definitively that those people had died at least an hour prior to discovery. which puts the time of death at approximately 7:15. How could I have hurt those people if they were dead before I even left work?" he pleaded. Dr. Morgan simply shook his head "I'm not a detective, a judge, or a prosecutor Mason, I'm your therapist." he said in a calculated, clinical tone. "I'm not here to debate your case with you, I'm here to help you make peace with yourself and your choices," he said. " Don't you think that it's time you had some peace? isn't it time for the denial to end? and isn't time that the Shepards got to give their daughter a real burial? Give up the body Mason, help them find her, it's the only way to help yourself." He finished rhetorically. Mason's eyes drifted to the floor.
" You're not listening to me, I can't give what I don't have, I'm innocent," he said. "hmph" huffed Dr. Morgan with quiet contempt. The remainder of the session passed in relative silence, and when it ended, two men dressed in the plain uniforms of the corrections facility entered the office and dragged Mason to his feet by his shoulders and then without a word to him, lead him out of the room and down the barren hallway that lead back to his cell. As he walked slowly and soundlessly down the narrow corridor that been his whole world ever since that night, the true hopelessness of his situation dawned on him, and he felt as if he were already dead. That they had already executed him some time ago, and that the thing walking down the hallway now was just a ghost, a pitiful shade of bitterness, shame and regret. His thoughts were interrupted by the metal hiss of the cell door opening, and the sudden, intense pain of having his head bashed into the bars by one of the guards that was escorting him. He had no time to react before they pulled him back and tossed him into the cell, slamming it shut behind him. He sat on the cell floor in a daze for only a moment before he looked back up at the guards with, hollow, empty eyes. He didn't need to ask why they were treating him that way.
He knew, and he forgave them for it. He opened his mouth to say as much when the guard on the right spit on him through the bars. "She was only nine years old you fucking monster," he growled. Mason could only respond with. " I didn't do it." Both men glared at him with earnest hatred in their eyes before they turned and left, leaving Mason alone in the darkness of his cell. He laid down on his laughably thin cotton mattress for the first time in years, allowed himself to cry. " Is this the way life ends?" he asked himself in despair. " It doesn't have to end this way Mason." said a voice from the shadows, as if aware of his thoughts. Mason nearly fell of his cot in surprise, and turned to see the silhouette of a man whose features were cloaked in darkness standing in the cell with him. "Who are you?!? how did you get in here?!" he gasped. For several moments, the man said nothing before he replied. " Wouldn't you rather hear about what I have to offer?" he asked.
"What do you mean?" asked Mason bewildered. " You are an innocent man railroaded by a system that doesn't care about you. In a few days, you will be dead, and the man who really murdered you're alleged victims will kill again," he said with a matter of fact certainty. "How do you know that?" Mason asked wearing his suspicion on his sleeve. " It's my job to know things, Mason." Replied the shadowy figure. " Believe me, everything I say will come to pass in time, unless you make the right choice now, and come with me," he said extending his hand. " Where are we going?" asked Mason hesitantly. " We're going back to where it all started Mason. If you want to find the person responsible for all this, you're going to have to find me one more time, that's the name of the game and I'll even give you the first hint, look for me in the shattered mirror," he whispered with a sinister grin that even Mason could make out through the shadows. Mason didn't want to take the man's hand, but he also didn't want to die in this place. So, with no other options left to him, he reluctantly took the man's hand, and they both disappeared into the blackness.