The Thunder of Nautilus

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Part Six


At first, Lily and Robert didn’t believe they’d actually caught a killer in their web of deceit, considering the fun Lily had pretending she was drunk and luring him into the basement, but once they’d dug up the body right where Jack had told them it would be, there was no longer any doubt that he’d killed and buried the missing woman. To them the act of killing had to serve a higher purpose. As with their first kill, they’d elevated a useless existence into the greatness of life after death, but to kill just for the sake of killing, as Jack obviously had done, was to them vulgar and base.

They arrogantly thought they might inform the police anonymously in the New Year, but they decided to move the body to another, more remote location because they feared that they might unwittingly leave traces of themselves at the primary gravesite that could lead to them. Hence they drove back to the farmstead, packed up a large piece of heavy-duty plastic, garden gloves, overalls, and rubber boots, and returned to the site, where they rolled the body into the plastic and loaded it into Lily’s van. They then drove eighty miles to a forest Lily had known since her childhood, when her grandfather had taught her how to track and kill small animals. When they’d driven far enough into the woods, they dug a shallow grave and buried the body anew. On their way back to the farm, they disposed of the plastic, the clothing, and the boots at a municipal rubbish dump and congratulated each other on how they’d on the one hand led, and on the other mislead the police.

They’d taken Jack down from the cross when he was too stoned to care and had left him in the cage they’d made for their first victim next to the toilet Lily’s grandfather had installed when he was getting older and his prostate had begun to give him trouble, because he still loved spending time in the basement gutting and stuffing rodents, away from a nagging wife.

Over Christmas and up until New Year’s Eve, they’d given their sacrificial lamb a dose of heroin daily as Jack willingly pushed his arm through the cat flap of his cage. They’d made a plan to sacrifice the now-addicted Jack on the first full moon in January. For New Year’s Eve, they’d booked a dinner followed by a party and an overnight stay at a local hotel. Shortly after midnight, they found a public phone at the hotel and Robert called the police, informing them where they could find the missing woman. Then, feeling particularly self-righteous, they celebrated till five in the morning, slept all day, and decided to stay at the hotel another night.

When Lily and Robert returned to the farm, they didn’t bother bringing food to the caged killer, but ate the pizza they’d bought on their way home and washed it down with a bottle of Scotch. Only when they were pleasantly drunk did they think about Jack probably being dehydrated and hungry because they hadn’t bothered to bring him food or leave him water. They laughed at their neglect, and then went to the kitchen, where Robert filled a jug with tap water and took three glasses out of the cupboard while Lily put some leftover ham and bread on a plate and took another bottle of whisky from her well-stocked pantry. Then they descended the steps to the basement.

Jack, who hadn’t slept in what felt like days, was indeed thirsty and hungry. He saw Lily and a man coming drunkenly toward his cage. It was presumably the same man who always wore a hood while giving him injections, but this time he wore no hood and didn’t bring the drug Jack had been craving. Instead he lifted the cat flap and placed food and water into his cage.

Jack drank greedily and took his time eating, thinking about how he could manipulate the drunks into opening his cage and what he’d do to them in revenge.

“Found the body, Jack,” Lily said as she poured whisky into three glasses. “So tell us—why did you kill her?”

Jack stopped eating and said, “Look—I’m just like you, and now that you have proof that I’m a killer, you should realize that I could be a great asset to you and that devil worship you’re into.”

Robert winked at Lily, and she knew that he wanted to have a bit of fun. “You’re right, Malcolm Macbeth. What our voodoo club has been lacking is a diabolist like you, so tell us—why did you kill that woman?”

“Let me out to have a shower, and I’ll tell you everything,” Jack replied, thinking he’d come closer to gain their trust.

Robert took one of the glasses and handed it through the cat flap to their prisoner, saying, “Have a drink, and tell us why you killed that woman. Then we talk about a shower. You’re now one of us, so don’t worry—we’ll release you in good time.”

“All right,” Jack said, thinking about a story these freaks would want to hear. “She was a friend of my mother’s, and I was eleven when it started. I grew up without a father. I don’t think my mother knew him except for one night. Mom was a nurse’s aide, working night shifts at a nursing home. That woman would come every evening before my mother went to work, and when my mum was gone she’d do all sorts of cruel and perverted stuff to me. My mother realized after a while that I was afraid of her friend, and when she asked me why I told her, but instead of believing me she beat me with a belt.”

Robert and Lily fell about laughing, and Robert said, “So who did you kill— Mother or Mummy’s friend?”

“Both, Jack said.”

“That’s a real good story, Jack, but you still haven’t told us why you killed that prosecutor, so for fuck’s sake, tell us,” Lily demanded impatiently.

“Because of her I was locked up in a loony bin for years. The bitch deserved to die. You two understand that, don’t you?” Jack said.

Robert replied, “Of course we understand—we’re very understanding, aren’t we, Lily.”

“Oh yeah—very.” Lily laughed. “Come on, give us your glass. You deserve another drink.” Jack placed his glass through the cat flap, smiled, and thanked her.

“Thing is,” Robert began, “we’ve locked you up, so what are you planning to do to us?”

Jack was quick to respond. “To you? Oh, no—that’s different. I mean, now that I know about your devil worship and all, I understand. You didn’t know I was a killer. Look—it’s forgive and forget. Hey, we’re the same, from the same mold, so to speak. Come on, let me out.”

Robert and Lily again burst out laughing, and Jack joined in, saying, “Yeah, it’s funny—it’s all funny. You made a mistake. No problem, I understand.”

Lily’s laughter turned into a malicious hiss when she said, “From the same mold? How dare you. You’re scum. You’re nothing but a killer, and we are the disciples of Hades,” and then she tried to get up, but she slipped on some spilled Scotch, fell back on her bottom, and started laughing insanely.

To Robert, who wasn’t as drunk as Lily, her outburst of laughter was the sign of a woman no longer in control. She always seemed in control, and that was what had drawn him to her in the first place. Now her behavior disgusted him, and his thoughts darkened as he poured another glass of whisky and handed it to her. She grinned and said, “Give me the bottle,” and when he handed it to her, she took a long drink from the bottle, and then passed out.

Jack looked at Robert with glee and said, “I’m sorry. Look, I didn’t mean to offend.”

Robert interrupted, “Shut up.” Then he handed a pair of cuffs through the cat flap and said, “Put these on.”

Jack cuffed his hands in the front, thinking he was now a step closer to freedom. Meanwhile, Robert lifted Lily up, carried her upstairs, and dropped her on her bed, not bothering to cover her with a blanket. When he returned to the basement, he asked Jack to put his arms through the cat flap, and then injected him with a dose of heroin. He waited until he saw the drug take effect, when Jack had trouble holding his head up and started to nod. Robert then opened the cage and let Jack out, saying, “Come on—you stink like sewer. You can shower upstairs.”

Jack, used to higher doses of heroin by now, just pretended to be stoned, and when he was outside of his prison, asked, “What’s your name anyway?”

“None of your business,” Robert said icily, “but who cares. I’m Rob. Now come on, you foul stinking prick.” He pushed Jack, who used his cuffed hands to hold onto the rail beside the stairs to keep from falling. He slowly ascended the stairs, and as Robert paused on the landing to open the door to the kitchen, he looped his cuffed arms over the head of his smaller tormentor and strangled Robert until he stopped struggling and sank like a sack of potatoes.

He found the keys to the cuffs in Robert’s trouser pockets, unlocked them, and thought, amateur; he felt for a pulse and assured himself that Robert was still alive. He quickly turned him on his back and cuffed the right arm to the left leg, causing Robert enough pain to regain consciousness and start shouting obscenities.

“Shut up, you fuck,” Jack said viciously.

He stomped on Robert’s left arm so hard that he could hear bones fracture, and Robert screamed in agony. Jack relished the moment, and then carried Robert back down the stairs, where he took off the cuffs and pushed him into the cage.

He then dispassionately said, “Tell me where your stash is and I promise to give you enough to cover the pain.”

Robert thought Jack would use up what was left to feed his new habit, but he told him where to find the drug and paraphernalia anyway, in the hope that Jack would keep his promise. After Jack found the stash and determined that there was plenty, easily enough to allow him to wean himself from his dependency, he followed Robert’s instructions to prepare a dose, then took half that amount himself. He had no intention to simply kill that sadistic creep or that fucked-up bitch, not after what they’d done to him. He’d had too much time to think about what he’d do to those freaks to allow them to simply die, and he knew that revenge would be sweeter than honey to the bee.

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