The Thunder of Nautilus

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Part Eight


After Jack took another bowl of soup to Robert and gave him another injection, he went back up into the living room, where he turned up the gas heater, and while he warmed up he felt the temptation to use some more heroin. But he knew that his desire to use the opiate was a false sense of “need” and a real sense of “want.” He knew he had to be able to resist temptation, and he distinctly felt that he wasn’t going to allow himself to be a pitiful drug user, without discipline and control. However, he acknowledged that withdrawal was going to take a bit of time, and he decided to use alcohol to help him get through it. In the back of the pantry, he’d found a rack stocked to the ceiling with bottles of wine, plus a crate of beer and a bottle of Scotch. He took a bottle of red wine from the rack and a balloon glass out of the cupboard, filled it to the top, and drank the first glass in one long draught. He went into the living room, settled back on the sofa, poured himself another glass, and once he felt more relaxed, he thought about the evening he’d met Lily and driven her back to the farmhouse in a rented car. So where’s the car? he thought, hoping those idiots had noticed the car was a rental and had returned it to the rental service, thus preventing involvement of the police.

He emptied the first bottle of wine, took two more out of the pantry, and descended into the cellar. Robert seemed not to have moved, and his relaxed expression indicated that the effect of the opiate had not yet worn off. Feeling a little drunk, Jack handedhim one of the bottles through the cat flap and said, “Let’s have a drink.”

Robert thanked him and said, “Cheers,” before drinking almost half of the bottle immediately, and Jack followed suit. Jack then asked Robert what they’d done with his car, and when Robert told him they’d hidden it in the old barn, Jack was drunk enough to laugh as he told Robert that the car was a rental and that he’d never met such a pair of amateurs in all of his life. Robert, who’d told so many lies about his relationship to Lily that he’d begun to believe them himself, told Jack that Lily had taken care of the car without him knowing, and this lie came so naturally that Jack believed Robert was telling the truth.

Still laughing Jack said, “You need more wine,” and getting up, he added, “I’ve got a present for you. Just wait—you’ll love this.” He was still giggling as he ascended the stairs.

Back in the kitchen, Jack took the skull out of the fridge and another bottle of wine from the pantry, and with the skull on the tray in one hand and the bottle of wine in the other, he went back down into the cellar. Presenting Lily’s skull, he told Robert what had made the soup taste so special, and when Robert screamed, “Oh my God, oh God no, you didn’t!” he felt a surge of satisfaction break like a wave on the shore of his mind as his revenge reached a climax, surpassing anything he’d previously anticipated.

Suddenly his need for revenge vanished, and a strange feeling rose within Malcolm Macbeth, a feeling akin to compassion. He gave Robert the wine and, leaving him crying in his cage, he went back upstairs, took the bottle of Scotch from the pantry, and walked into the living room. He drank from the bottle while he prepared some heroin and injected a dose, despite his resolve to not use any more of the drug. Soon he fell into a deep, dreamless sleep.

Down in the dungeon, Robert drank most of the second bottle, cracked the top of the first, and used the sharp edge of the glass to cut a wider hole in the cat flap. Being single minded and inebriated, and thus almost oblivious to the pain caused by the cutting wire, he squeezed his slim body through the cable, freeing himself. Bleeding from his wounds and filled with hate, he ascended the stairs, opened the door to the kitchen, and quietly entered the living room, where he found Jack snoring soundly on the couch, half a foil of heroin and the paraphernalia spread over the coffee table.

Soundlessly, he walked out of the living room and out of the house to the woodshed, where he took the ax out of the chopping block and went back into the kitchen. In the drawer under the kitchen trolley, he found a large piece of plastic and the sharp butcher knife Lily had kept “for special occasions.”

Back in the living room, he spread out the plastic next to the sofa, placed the ax and the knife on the floor, and very cautiously folded Jack into the blanket on which he was lying. Crouching before the sofa, he gently let Jack’s body slide from the couch onto the plastic and picked up the knife, and holding it fi rmly in his right hand he cut the artery in Jack’s neck with one hard stab. The blood shot out like a fountain, and Jack expired with a moan. Robert finished by slicing his throat from ear to ear, then Robert hit Jack’s face with the back of the ax in a frenzy of bloodlust, and only when the pain in his fractured arm became unbearable did he stop and sit down next to the couch, spent and fatigued. He covered Jack’s body with the plastic, pulled down the other blanket from the sofa and used it to wipe the blood from his hands, and then wrapped it around him before he got up and walked into the bathroom.

He stood under the shower fully clothed and washed off most of the blood before he got undressed under the stream. He left the wet clothes in the bathtub, and after he dried off, he wrapped a large towel around him. Back in the living room, the foil on the table still held plenty of the snow-white drug, and Robert soon felt no more pain and wished for nothing more than to be able to sleep and heal his wounds, but when he opened the door to Lily’s bedroom, he could no longer contain the horror within him, and Lily’s brain soup spewed out of his stomach and over the floor.

He then knew that he’d have to postpone his rest and fulfill the sacrifice first, in Lily’s honor. Robert took the bloodied saw out of the bedroom, went back into the living room, and cut off Jack’s hands the way Lily had planned, so Jack would never be able to do harm with his hands in the afterlife. He used the knife to carve the symbols Lily had shown him into Jack’s chest and abdomen, then took the maimed body to the chapel, which Lily had chosen to be the place of sacrifice. He used a pulley to hang Jack upside-down on the cross of Christ.

When he returned to the farm, he was too exhausted to care where Jack might have hidden Lily’s body and the fact that her dwelling had been turned into a slaughterhouse. He just wanted to sleep, but the excess adrenaline coursing through his body made him hyperactive. His left arm seemed to hurt now more than when it was fractured, and he was aware that the contents of the foil was probably the last of the stash and would only cover him for a few hours. He knew that he had to drive to the hospital eventually, but he wanted a bit of a breather, so he used what was left in the foil and drank what was left of the Scotch to allow him to rest for a while.

What Robert didn’t know was that the combination of the strenuous activity, the Scotch, and the heroin was too much for his system, and he died peacefully in his sleep.

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