22. Devil in Disguise
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She was in the car, smoking her cigarette, like she would usually do in her casual ride at the backseat, like she was going for a sightseeing or out to the shopping mall. She didn’t even turn to look at her son directly. Her son whose one of his ears is still bleeding profusely. One of his hands is covering and pressing down on his wound. He has grown weak from the blood loss. But little did the boy notice that his mother’s hands shake a little. She is nervous and uneasy by everything that is happening. She just chose not to show it.

 

By her side, Edmund sat calmly, staring at his phone, laughing here and there watching cat videos on youtube like it’s a normal day for him, like the boy didn’t even exist right in front of him. Like the boys were not there. Lucca is sitting right next to Caleb. His hands are tied behind his back. His mouth is sealed with duct tape. Tears are rolling down his cheeks and they all can hear him sob. They have no idea where they are heading. They have no idea what’s waiting for them.

 

After a while, through quite a distance travelling on rubbled road, they reached to some sort of a warehouse in a deserted area. Caleb and Lucca can see the warehouse through the window. Lucca cries even more, feeling scared. Caleb, on the other hand, feels a mixture of anger, helplessness and miserableness. They are taken down from the car and brought into the warehouse unwillingly. Jessica stays in the car, refusing to get involve with whatever that will happen to the boys. It made Caleb resents her even more. He knew deep down that she won’t be there for him in the first place, but seeing it really happened right in front of him broke his heart even more.

 

Once they’re inside the warehouse, Caleb is placed on a chair and tied up. He notices a mattress was placed in front of his chair. It sent shivers down his spine, thinking of all the possibilities as to why the mattress was placed there. He knew what would happen. He can guess. It might be him. Or it could be Lucca. Honestly, he’d rather it be him than Lucca but he can feel that Edmund has that kind of intention more towards Lucca instead of him. “Hmm. My dear step-son, let me first tell you what I wanted to do to you and what I would usually do upon normal circumstances,” Edmund started to speak. There’s excitement and superiority in his voice. “First, I’m going to finish off with the rest of that ear of yours. Then, I’ll slowly cut off your fingers one by one, and then I’ll get rid of your limbs one by one. And of course, I’ll make sure you’re alive throughout all of this process so you’ll feel the pain and see what was left of you. That should be a proper punishment for you to have touched what is mine, am I right?” He ended all that he has to say with a question.

 

Caleb didn’t reply, partly because of the pain he is currently bearing with. But the other part is due to the fear of the realization that Edmund was serious and that he is definitely going to be losing his life to this man. He doesn’t know what to say or what to think. Because the fact of the matter is, there’s no chance for him to escape or be saved. Only a miracle would. So that’s when… he started to pray. He started to pray to whatever God that’s out there for a miracle. For his life and Lucca’s life to be spared.

 

“You see… My mother once taught me how to stab someone,” Edmund speaks again, holding the bloodied knife in his hands. Caleb recognize the knife as the knife he had used to cut a part of his ear previously. “That woman was pure evil and absolutely captivating, I tell you. She taught me that if I stab someone, I must make sure that I twist the knife so that they won’t stop bleeding. She even demonstrated it to me. But I won’t do that, of course. No. Not to you. I can’t. You’re a special case. You deserve to suffer…first,” he indicated and immediately directs his men to bring Lucca over. Lucca, with his hands tied and mouth sealed is thrown onto the mattress. By the looks of it, Caleb can calculate what will take place. The mattress had been placed there for the very intention of this. Like a set up to a theatre. It was all premeditated.

 

“NOOO!!!!” Caleb screamed as loud as he is allowed by whatever strength left in him. It was then that Jessica came rushing over to where they are. He didn’t notice when or how she got there but as surprising as it is, she’s there. It was in that moment that Caleb thought that this could be it. The miracle he had hoped for. She stands in front of Caleb, as if trying to protect him. She then points a gun towards Edmund with her shaken hands. “Let him go or I’ll shoot,” Jessica instructed. Her voice was also shaken. Caleb can tell that she is afraid. “Please…” she then added a beg. Tears started to drop down, rolling down along her cheeks from her eyes.

 

Edmund, unfazed, only laughs aloud to the sight of Jessica in front of him. “Really? You’re doing this? How sweet… Finally, your mother’s instinct kicked in?” He asked. He appears to be taking her lightly and mocking her in a way. “Go on ahead,” he said, stretching his arms wide, as if welcoming a bullet to his chest. “Shoot me,” he said. He is as calm and amused as ever. Jessica’s hands shook even more at the nonchalant attitude portrayed by Edmund. Before she can even decide whether to actually shoot him or not, Edmund’s men took the opportunity of her hesitation by knocking her down. Her gun was also thrown to the gun. And one of his other men kicked the gun away. The miracle Caleb had hoped for shatters right in front of him.

 

As if admitting defeat, she stayed where she is on the ground, crying in fear and sadness. She knew that there will definitely be consequences for betraying Edmund. She already knew what sort of a monster Edmund is. Edmund walks over to where she is. She mumbles ‘please’ in between her sob a couple of times but was ‘shhh’-ed by Edmund who has a sick smile on his face. “You know, Jessy,” he said. Hearing him calling her ‘Jessy’ for the first time made her cry even more. She knew that Edmund only call people by their nickname when he is murderous. She knew she has no chance of redemption. She had heard him call people by their nicknames prior to killing them once a few times beforehand. He squats down next to her. “Despite being pretty, you are replaceable,” he indicated and shoves the knife he has in his hands straight to her stomach. The occupants of the room can hear her cry and scream of pain. He then twists the knife. Lucca lets out muffled screamed in between his sealed lips over the despicable act in front of him. Caleb was dumbstruck. He froze from shock.

 

He is aware of his own hatred for his mother and how much he had wanted and fantasized about her being dead. But now that it is happening right in front of his eyes, he feels conflicted. Especially to the fact that his mother had previously tried to save him. He feels like everything is moving slowly. He feels like everything he had believed in shattered along with his mother’s dying breath. He saw how she had stretched her hands out to touch him and she keeps calling his name in between her breath. Looking at her in such condition horrifies him. He is sad but also glad at the same time. He is sympathetic but also unfeeling all the same. He doesn’t know how to react so he can only watch as Edmund plunges the knife in her over and over. Even when she had stopped breathing, he is still plunging his knife in and out, in and out, in and out… like a record on re-play. All the while, Edmund was laughing like a mad man. Caleb can tell how much Edmund enjoys this. He enjoys the killing.

 

And that’s when Lucca also repeated a scene in his head. A scene he had repressed and was compelled to forget. He saw it now. There’s a bouquet of flowers on the kitchen counter. Red roses. Yes. It was his grandmother’s birthday. Papa always brought red roses to her grave on the day. But… beside the kitchen counter, on the floor, Mama laid there unmoving. Papa was on top of her drenched in blood. The blood of his mama. A kitchen knife in his hands. He was laughing. The same kind as he had right now. The red crimson liquid spreads across the floor rapidly and abundantly. With a grin, papa turned to look at Lucca who was in his pajamas, holding a teddy bear in his hands. Just like right now, with similar-looking grin, he is turning to look at Lucca who is still bound and mouth-sealed on the hard mattress. “Would you like to join in?” He asked. It was the same question he asked back then outstretching his hand that is wrapped tightly around the knife towards Lucca.

 

He is bound now. He could not take the knife or give an answer with his mouth. It was a silly question but he realizes the intention of his papa asking the question was to evoke his memories of the past. Now is not what matters. It was the past that matters. He remembers taking the knife. He remembers going on top of his mama, stabbing her over and over with the same knife, thinking it was nothing but a game. He also remembers what his papa said to him back then; “it’s your fault, you look so much like her.”

 

And all that were in his head as a child was the fact that it was indeed his fault, it was his doing, it was him who had caused mama to die, it was him who killed her. He believed that it was all him. The truth begins to sink deeper into him and hot tears keep streaming down even more on his cheek. Edmund seems to sense that Lucca is remembering.

 

“Sure bring back memories, is it?” He simply asked, no guilt was portrayed on his face. There’s only a hint of amusement crosses his face. His lips curled into a psychotic smile that sent shivers down the spine of everyone in the vast dimly lit room. Jessica battered body is still beneath him.

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