Interlude 3: Something rotten grows inside
John became stranger every day, at least in Ivan’s and Amalia’s eyes because they were the ones spending the most time with him. And maybe that fit of weird, cruel jealousy made them more careful and attentive at his doings.
For John, everything was normal. Granted, he was feeling a bit odd but he never felt otherwise amongst his kind so he didn’t pay much attention to any of his mood or character changes. He started being interested in what frogs might have inside them or in testing different ways of torturing and killing insects, rats and gradually bigger animals. The rabbits were just a start.
He was about twelve years old when he had his first feeling of remorse, feeling that quickly faded away, as most of his feelings.
It was summer and the Debenhams’ house was full of tourists – in the summer they used to rent the extra rooms they had for the few people that would pass through their small town; but that summer was fruitful: they had three nice families for the course of the summer. Father Fuller – as well as John - did not agree with strangers going about in your private house.
“That’s what hotels are for!” he used to say during family dinners.
But that summer, for some unknown reason he agreed with the Debenhams – because they only had two spare bedrooms – to let a room as well.
“Just the room, they can shit, play and eat at our house and yard. You just give them a bed to sleep on and we’ll split the money right in half, or figure something out that will please both of us. Just, please, don’t let me loose them… It’s good money and it would be a sin to just let them go!” father Debenham pleaded to father Fuller. After a moment of silence, pondering the consequences he finally agreed. The two houses hosted two big families with five kids all together. With John, Ivan and Amalia the houses looked more like a kindergarten or a cheap hostel.
The children quickly got to know each other – as children do – and by the second day they were spending most of the time together playing.
John recruited Bayrum, a young boy just his age with dark hair and light-brown skin, to join him in his wicked adventures. On the third morning John came early in Bayrum’s room to wake him up.
“Come on! I want to show you something!” John whispered.
“But nobody’s awake…” he responded looking with his heavy eyes around the room.
“That’s ok… Nobody will care or notice… You’re on vacation, right?”
He always had his way of convincing people, which later would become one of his most used abilities.
After a few moments of hesitation Bayrum got up slowly and dressed quietly while John was keeping an eye on everybody that was sleeping. He was watching them breathe, their chest inflating and deflating, the heart beat pumping in their jugular vein, waiting, wanting, imagining for one of them to stop, just stop moving and turn blue. But it didn’t happen. Their chest kept on going up and down as Bayrum got dressed and snapped him out of his reverie.
“What did you want to show me?” Outside was early morning; the sun still didn’t yet have the power to dry the dew off the leaves and grass.
“We’re gonna play with some kittens!” John answered mysteriously.
“Ooooh, really? Ok, now I’m not upset that you woke me up anymore…” the light-brown-skinned boy said excited.
They walked to the entrance of the small forest near the house and John pointed to what looked like a man-made animal shelter. It was just a wooden box with a straight roof on top. Inside there were three small kittens.
“Where’s their mother?” curious Bayrum asked.
“Out for hunting!” John replied, the image of last night’s episode flashing in his mind. He caught, tortured and killed the little kittens’ mother few hours before. “Come on, choose one and let’s play!”
Bayrum picked the white kitten, John the white one with black spots and they went deeper in the woods. The grey kitten was spared, left behind.
“Look! I’m gonna show you how resistant these little fuckers are!” those words put the fear in Bayrum.
“What…” he managed to let out before John threw the innocent cat upwards, through the tree branches. The kitten tried to grab on to something but all it did was to hit a branch numbingly and fall back into John’s sadistic hands.
“See?” he said smiling. “Though little fuckers, I’ve told you! Now you try!” Bayrum looked at the small cat and then back and John.
“But I will hurt him… I’d…”
“Oh, you won’t do anything to IT! They are though… It’s just a fucking cat! Come on, don’t be a pussy, have some fun!” The last words convinced the kid who was always begging for attention. He threw his little cat upwards, between the limbs of the tree. The poor soul managed to hang on to something for a few breathless seconds then it fell back into Bayrum’s clumsy, slippery hands.
“See? It’s fine, let’s have some more fun!” John yelped and hurled the kitten again in the trees. This time the kit succeeded to stay for almost a minute on a branch before it dropped in John’s expecting arms. Then he looked at Bayrum demanding so the brown little boy threw the cat upwards to the sky. They continued like that for a few times until Bayrum putted his little kitty down and noticed it was barely standing, trembling on its tiny hands. At the site of that John felt a quickly fading remorse as Bayrum started to cry and tried to help the cat to walk. But the little soul was barely hanging on to life.
“What the fuck are you doing there? What did you do to those cats?” Ivan’s voice thundered from behind them. He was holding Amalia’s hand and on both of their faces you could read horror and surprise.
“N… nothing, he told me it was ok… I didn’t mean to… Oh, is he ok? Is he?”
“Yes, it will be just fine; it’s just a fuckin’ cat, anyway!” John responded with some fury in his voice.
“John! Are you serious? This is not normal…” Amalia’s voice was shocked and trembling.
“Yeah, what do you care? Come on, Bayrum; let’s find something else to play with.” John dropped the kitten and went to grab Bayrum’s hand but he stepped back and looked at John with anger and fear.
“No… I think I’m going with them… I’m not going anywhere with you, you’re crazy!”
“I didn’t MADE you do anything, my friend! You chose to listen!” John made a bowing gesture and left.