Chapter 11: Battle Between My Ears
The case file lied flat out before me on the desk with those horrible black and white photographs of my victims.
Well, technically they’re his victims.
“Alright, John,” the inspector sat down before me. “Tell me your complicated story.”
Sitting there for many moments, I stared at him and silence fell over the room. It seemed as though he would never break the silence as he too sat there, staring at me while he waited for me to elaborate on the unusual explanation that I gave him at Jack’s flat.
“You won’t believe me if I told you,” I said, finally breaking the silence.
“Try me, Wilkinson.”
I sighed and prepared to tell him the unbelievable truth.
“I didn’t know about this until recently whenever…somebody revealed it to me.”
He furrowed his bushy brows in confusion. “What did you mean when you said it really wasn’t you? Did someone make you commit these crimes? Perhaps your so-called accomplice…?”
“No,” I said. “He’s done nothing. In fact he’s the one who showed me what was going on. For the longest time I didn’t know who was responsible for these crimes. I actually suspected my own friends. But I now know that it was I who killed those people.”
“Yes…but there’s something else.”
“It wasn’t me.”
“But you just said-”
“Let me explain,” I put my hand up, silencing him. “It was the other John. I have two personalities. You see there’s my personality, which is presented before you now, and then there’s the murderer. I didn’t believe my friend at all until I spoke to my mother and she told me it was true. Ever since I was a child this personality has been haunting me. He's the definition of evil, Fredrick."
Uncrossing his arms, he leaned over a little and stared at me in disbelief.
“You must be joking. This isn’t funny, John, people are dead!”
“I know! I’m not joking.” I knew this would be his reaction. This is how normal people react.
Not people like me and Jack.
“I’m serious,” I said calmly. “I know how insane it sounds but this is the truth. I wish it wasn’t, for if I was normal then there wouldn’t be any murders.”
“You can’t just kill innocent people. I can’t believe you’ve come up with this lie. Why did you kill Elizabeth Smith? She wasn’t involved in the Ripper case in anyway. Who was she to you?”
“She was my best friend’s wife,” I sighed. “I don’t know why the other John wanted to kill her but I feel guilty. She shouldn't have died."
“Henry? Her husband? He’s friends with you?”
“We’ve been friends since my father died.”
“How could you do something like this? You chopped off her bloody hands and feet!”
“I didn’t. It was him!”
“Can you prove this?”
I thought for a second. I couldn’t just pull him out of my head, he had to be provoked but how? I wasn’t even sure how Jack and I did it.
“No,” I admitted. “But I was able to get him out so my friend could talk to him.”
“How did you do that?” he wasn’t really interested because, frankly, he didn’t believe a word I was saying but I answered him anyways.
“I don’t know. We spoke to a Ripper witness. Elizabeth Long, we went to her house and the second we got home he slipped out. My friend took him to an abandoned warehouse and questioned him. He’s out to get me, Abelian.”
I watched his eyes change, appearing less doubtful. I guess he could hear the truth in my words. He has been studying human behavior for years and he knows me; he knows when I’m lying.
“What all did he have to say?” he asked.
“He said that he’s trying to kill all of the people related to the Ripper case so he can move on with his life. Which, now that I think about it, doesn’t make any sense because he wouldn’t be able to awaken without the Ripper murders.”
“According to him, he can only show his face when I’m vulnerable, I guess. When I was a child, I was naïve, I was easy to control but when I got older, things changed until the Ripper came along. That case nearly drove me mad. Even now, I still stress over that psycho.”
“I’ll be right back,” he stood up. “Think about what’s happening here and consider your options. When I come back here, you’re going to tell me the truth.”
“But it is the truth!”
“John,” he spoke calmly. “Don’t argue with me, it’s just even more insulting. I would expect you to have the decency and the dignity to be honest with me.” And then he left me alone in the room to dwell and bubble with anger.
My anger was quickly replaced with guilt and sorrow.
I didn’t want Abelian to think me a liar. I was telling the truth but there was no way to prove this. How could I possibly prove that evil John exists?
Following Abelian to Scotland Yard was probably a bad idea.
I was in police custody and, seeing as I am responsible for over three murders, there’s no way they’re letting me go.
What am I going to do now?
Bars caged me inside a cold cemented box.
When Abelian returned to the interrogation room, I remained silent. There was nothing else I could do anymore.
In his eyes, I was a killer.
I couldn’t even imagine the betrayal he must’ve felt. For the past year I’ve been working by his side but this whole time I was the enemy.
But I’m not really the enemy. It just seems that way. Thanks to him.
Sitting there in my cell I began hearing a commotion coming from the other side of the building, near the entrance. There was yelling and thudding on the ground.
Then everything fell silent.
I could hear heavy footfalls coming down the corridor before seeing a familiar face emerging from the darkness.
It was Jack.
I stood up and grasped my fingers around the bars.
“What happened? Did you kill them?”
He laughed. “No, I knocked them unconscious. They’ll wake up in an hour, hopefully.”
“How did you know I was here?”
He stuck the key, which I presume he stole from the guard, into the hole and unlocked my cage.
“I know you too well, John,” he said. “Also, our neighbors from across the hall were not too shy to recall this morning’s events. Why did you do it? Why did you go with them? What did I tell you?”
“I told Abelian everything,” I confessed. “Don’t worry, I didn’t even mention your name but I told them about the other John.”
“And what did they have to say?”
“Abelian thinks I’m lying.”
“Of course he does. Do you know how crazy that sounds to a normal person?”
“I wasn’t thinking, ok? I felt like he would believe me. The two of us have been through much together. I’m sure he feels as though I have betrayed him. Guilt is quite literally eating me alive."
“Don’t worry about it,” he sighed as he patted my shoulder while standing at a reasonable distance. “I’m here now. We’re leaving.” He gripped my wrist and began pulling me.
“Let’s go, John.”
I was in some kind of trance but I did follow idly behind him as he held my hand, almost dragging me away from the police department.
“We’re being hunted,” Jack said as he peeked through the curtains. We were no longer in his apartment, the two of us had escaped to a hotel deeper east into London, almost out of the city.
The room was pretty shit but what do you expect fetching a hotel room for the price of a beverage at the pub?
The walls were white but yellowed from tobacco use, the floor was wooden with a few stray splinters poking out just waiting for one of us to step on them. There were two beds, rather small beds in length and width, with plain bed dresses and a wooden frame. There was an old dusty dresser with a wide mirror that was also caked in dust.
I found it odd at first when we entered the room as there are no windows in the back and the door is weak and frail, easily could be kicked in. The police could get to us with no trouble at all and we would have nowhere to go.
But to be honest, the walls are so fragile that we could probably punch a hole through them and escape without delay.
I doubted that the police would be able to find us. We were far from my house and Jack’s flat. In my mind, we were safe.
“Like you said, all we have is one more day until we can leave England.” For the first time, I was the one speaking in a positive light.
He leaned his back against the wall next to the window then let out a long sigh.
“Yesterday was a close call,” he said. “I’m still displeased with your irrational actions of following Abelian to the bloody police station! What did you think was going happen? You would tell him about evil John and he would believe you and all would end well with everyone skipping off into the sunset?!”
I stared at him, confused by his words. “Why would we skip off into sunset?”
He sighed then rubbed his eyes aggressively. “I don’t care how guilty you feel about Abelian’s feelings. You will not act irrationally again. And if you do-”
“Jack,” I snapped with a sharp voice. “I’m done trying to convince people that what I’m saying is the truth. I know what’s true and if he doesn’t believe me then it doesn’t matter.”
“Honestly, if Abelian did find out that evil John does exist I doubt he would be compassionate. I think he would say that it was technically still you.”
“But it wasn’t me. Evil John is a completely different person from me.”
“Do you really think that Abelian would understand what that means?” he asked.
“Yeah I know! I mean, he should. He is supposed to be a forensic investigator. Shouldn’t they know about these sorts of things?”
“They’re not like the detectives we read about in books. These are actual detectives and police officers from the east end of London. They’re not very intelligent individuals.”
“Why are we arguing about this?”
I huffed. “I have no idea. We have nothing better to do.”
“This is true,” he plopped down on the bed and dust collected in the air around him.
The two of us looked at each other and started bursting into laughter.
“Bloody hell, this is one hell of a dump!” I chuckled.
“I know,” he rubbed his forehead. “At least we’re laughing. It’s good to laugh in the face of your struggles.”
He lied down on his back as he gently fell onto the bed. Turning his head, he looked at the lit candle sitting on the small table between our two beds then his blue eyes fell to mine.
“Are we sure that we’re ready to do this?” he asked me. When he said “we” it was obvious that it was a question directed specifically towards me. He wanted to make sure that I was ready.
“Of course I’m ready for this. We’re ready for this. Leaving England is our only chance at freedom."
“I know that but, the question was whether or not you’re prepared for this. You’ve never left England throughout your entire life. I’m positive that this will prove challenging for you."
“Well I’m leaving nothing behind that I’ll miss. My mother is dead and, after reading the recent headlines, I’m sure that Henry wants nothing to do with me.”
Early this morning the local newspaper published a front page article on the J.W. Cannibal. The publisher placed a huge picture of me on the front after writing about my recent arrest and confession with quotes from Abelian tangled in.
Henry must be distraught. I can’t even imagine the betrayal and animosity he feels towards me now.
And Ed, well he doesn’t really care. He’s just my boss, he’s nobody really important in my life.
Jack is the only person I have now.
Everyone else is gone.
I still can’t wrap my head around the fact that my mother is dead. She’s never coming back. This is something that I have found hard to accept, even decades later.
But with Jack by my side I feel like I am capable of anything.
“I’m going to go fetch us something to eat,” Jack said as he stood and headed for the door.
“Good idea,” I stood up as well. “I’ll go with you.”
“Whoa Mr. Two Personalities, you can’t go anywhere. In case you’ve forgotten, you escaped police custody which means you are a very wanted man. Practically everyone in this bloomin’ city knows your face. Don’t worry, I can walk the streets alone.”
I rolled my eyes then sighed. “Alright, but be careful.”
“Yes, Mummy dearest.” He said with a pleasantly innocent and sweet sounding tone before he disappeared out the door.
Seeing as it was nearing midday, going out into the sunlight wasn't the smartest concept. I could easily be spotted by one of the bobbies that patrol the streets.
Peeking through the dark curtains, I observed Jack walking until I couldn’t see him anymore. Then I backed away and turned around, crossing my arms while looking around the hotel room.
I felt as though I was waiting for something.
A chill ran up my spine and I shivered.
I decided to lie down so I walked towards my bed, but strolling past the mirror, I suddenly and involuntarily stopped.
In the corner of my eye, I could see my reflection and for some reason I didn’t want to turn completely around to face the mirror. I didn’t want to see my face.
But when I eventually did I felt the bile in my stomach boil.
I stared into my own eyes waiting for something, almost like I was waiting for it to speak, feeling as though I was staring at another human being.
The person in the mirror wasn’t me anymore, I saw a change in his eyes. There was something sinister behind those dark irises.
Then he smiled.
I gulped. It was the evil John.
“Hello, John,” my reflection said.
Startled by the unfamiliar deep voice that resonated from my very own vocal chords, I gaped at him.
“You must be him,” I said. “Who else could you be?”
“Your little friend is gone. Looks like nobody can save you now.”
“He’ll be back soon,” I said quickly. “You can’t do anything. I won’t let you.”
A piercingly wicked laugh erupted from his lips. “Oh really? You’re going to stop me? I would like to see that.”
“Why are you doing this? Why can’t you just go away?”
“And just why would I do that? I can’t even if I tried, John. Did you forget who I am? I’m your subconscious. I can never go away. Personally, I doubt you want me to leave. Unlike you, I possess a lacking of fear and shame, thus I am perfectly capable of acting out your most wanted desires."
“Like what? Killing my father?”
He smiled with teeth this time. “You wanted to, deep down, you did.”
“Why? Why would ever want to kill my father? That thought has never crossed my mind?”
“Oh, it did!” his voice grew louder. “Don’t you remember?” he put his hand on the mirror. “Your father was a cruel bastard who practically enslaved you. There were times when the thought of killing him crossed your mind. These thoughts happened so often that I was able to emerge and do what needed to be done. I did you a favor, John. You should be thanking me.”
“No! I never wanted to kill my father.”
“Keep telling yourself that.”
“Just like how you wanted to kill dear Elizabeth Smith. Your best friend’s wife. You know her murder will forever haunt him.”
“Can you live with that, Johnny boy? Mummy is dead…who do you have now?”
“Shut up!” I punched his face and the mirror shattered into hundreds of pieces.
I gasped, grasping my wrist in pain after the shards of glass embedded into my fist. Blood leaked from the cuts.
I fell to the floor and my back fell against the foot board of the bed, gripping my wrist tightly as my hand throbbed in pain.
Mere moments had passed since I engaged in a conversation with my own reflection and then I punched it, as if it was a real person.
I really am insane.
Suddenly the hotel’s door opened and Jack stepped in with a brown paper bag and a smile.
“Honey, I’m home!” his smile quickly faded though as he realized the scene before him. Dropping the paper bag, he ran over to me. “What the hell happened?”
“Evil John and I got into quite the altercation.”
Glancing up at at the mirror Jack quickly calculated what had happened. “You spoke to him? Your reflection…he revealed himself in it?”
I nodded. “Yes, and he obviously pissed me off.” I lifted my fist slightly.
“I can’t leave you alone for five minutes.” He grabbed his bag then got down on his knees before me. “Give me your hand.”
I slowly stretched out my injured hand as he grabbed a pair of tweezers from his bag and began picking out the pieces of glass.
With very piece, I would feel a little sting that would radiate up my arm. He dabbed the slits with a cotton ball that was doused in something with a pungent odor. It burned as it came in contact with my wounds.
“Ow!” I whined. “That’s burns.”
“Don’t be a baby. It cleans the wound so it doesn’t get infected.”
Sitting there silent, I watched him stitch up the bigger cuts with needle and thread that he sanitized with the horrible liquid he used to clean my wounds.
“Are you ok?” he asked, not taking his eyes off the stitch work he was doing.
I let out a long sigh. “I’ll be fine.”
“I didn’t ask you if you will be ok, I asked if you were ok. Like, as in the present.”
“I don’t know. I just had an argument with my own reflection. He was actually there, standing in front of me.”
“He really got to you, eh?”
With a nod, I responded, “Yes. I think if anyone can get to me then it’s certainly him. His habitat is in the back of my mind for Christ’s sake. He’s haunting me; torturing me! I don’t know what to do. I can’t ignore him. No matter what I do he still finds a way to slip through the cracks. I can never escape him.”
“One day you’ll be able to gain full control."
“When will that day come?!” tears were swelling up in my eyes. “Who knows what will happen until then? He could make me do something drastic like take a knife to my throat or hang myself. He could kill me. Or worse, he could kill you!"
“I won’t let him,” he reassured me. “Now, we should get packing. We’re leaving the country tomorrow night.” He glanced down at my wounded hand which was now bandaged.
“Don’t worry, I’ll help you with your bags.”
Throughout the rest of that day, evil John would keep appearing but I wouldn’t black out. I would actually be conscious.
To the outside eye it would seem as though I was talking to myself but Jack was keenly aware of what was going on and he would often slap me in the back of the head telling evil John to be gone or else.
So clearly we didn’t leave the hotel room at all during that day.
We mostly packed our two bags for tomorrow. The two of us didn’t have much to take with us, just clothes and some valuables. Besides, we couldn’t have much with us anyways seeing as we would be boarding the ship very illegally.
I was sat in the middle of my bed with my legs crossed looking down at an old newspaper that I had kept from the Jack the Ripper case.
On the front page were the words “THE RIPPER STRIKES AGAIN!” in big bold letters. Underneath the audacious headline, an article recounted the event of Mary Jane Kelly’s gruesome murder, following the young victim’s portrait in the paper along with a drawing of the alleged killer in which a witness recounted to a sketch artist.
This sketched man was wearing a tall top hat with a long nose and high cheekbones. Glancing over at Jack ,who was sitting in the floor preparing for our trip, I did a comparison.
This sketch resembled it and, looking at it then, really shocked me.
“Wow,” I said in a tone that was almost inaudible. “It really was you.”
Jack glanced up at me through his eyebrows in confusion. “What was me?”
“The Ripper.” I turned the paper around so he could see the front page.
He slowly stood up and held the paper in his hands, examining it closely.
“Indeed it was me,” he said. “They did a grand job at recreating my face.” He handed me the paper back. “But then they had to find whose face it was. Why are you looking at that anyways? I feel like it could possibly get evil John to bubble up.”
“No. I actually don’t feel him scratching for once."
“That’s good,” he sat down on the end of my bed, facing me.
“Why did you do it? Why did you kill all those women? Have you killed anyone since then?”
He laughed a little. “That’s a lot of questions at once, John.”
“Don’t apologize. I understand your curiosity,” he sighed then his eyes shifted around in thought. “While I was in the United States briefly, I killed some people. I’m sure you read about it in the papers at the time.”
I half-smiled. “Yeah, I remember that. I knew it was you, just by the way the women were killed.”
“Why I feel the need to do things like that is something that I still haven’t figured out for myself. I’m not like most ‘serial killers’ I guess. I don’t know if you noticed but I’ve went a very long time without killing people. For example, I haven’t taken a life since I’ve been here.”
I did just realize that as he mentioned it. I found this odd. In my mind, Jack the Ripper was this bloodthirsty psychopath that needed to kill or else he would lose it, but I guess I was wrong. Jack is calm and he’s always calm. There’s never been a time when he’s lusted for such crimes.
Well, as far as I know he hasn’t.
Hell, his head is clearer than mine.
“It’s not a constant urge,” he continued. “There are times when I’ll be walking down the street at night and a woman will walk by me causing me to stop. I’ll look around and see that nobody is there then I’ll look back at the woman, contemplating what could happen next but then I’ll just shrug it off and continue to my destination. But there have been times when I have acted on my urges which is how the Ripper murders commenced. Once I started I couldn’t stop.”
“You don’t kill often but when you do it’s like a brief series of murders.”
He responded with a light chuckle.
“Since you’re allowed to go outside, have you heard anything from Abelian?”
“Have I spoken to him?”
He shook his head. “No, I haven’t. He hasn’t been down to the morgue since Elizabeth’s autopsy and the two of us didn’t really speak. In fact, he only spoke to Dr. Charles. I doubt he approves of our friendship. He thinks I’m conspiring with a psychopath," Chuckling at that seemingly outlandish statement.
But it wasn’t too outlandish, for it was the truth.
“But he has no idea where you are,” Jack reassured. “And he probably never will so there's nothing to worry about."
I stared down at my bandaged hand which was throbbing in pain.
“Hey,” Jack snapped.
I looked up at him.
“Don’t worry about this,” he gestured towards my hand. “Control this. He’s not even real. He's just a nightmare."
Then he stood up and held out his hand. “Come on, let’s eat.”
I grabbed his hand and he hoisted me up to my feet.
He backed up a little so he could look up at me without straining his neck. “Bloody hell you’re tall, John.”
I smirked. “Sorry.”
“You apologize too much.”
“Sor…I mean…” I laughed. “I do apologize too much. But I have a lot of sorrows to feel guilty for.”
He furrowed his brow slightly while staring up at me before finally speaking in a somewhat monotone quality.
“Repent, therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out.”