Utterson's Impasse Which Caught Up To Him Without An Explanation on What He Has Done Wrong
I need to run away. Here and away from Marwin. I knew I had ruined everything, but figuring a way to fix it up is more important; or is it?
All the lights were gone. I could still see shadows, most of which corners and turns trapping us into an eternal maze. The only source of light was occasional lightning through stained windows. We ran without a destination. My only means of survival was to get away from this witch. Silvia said something, but my breathing overtook her words. I paced myself. We passed where Pierre had first kept Marwin. The door was open. Once again Silvia’s voice won the fight for attention with Pierre’s name. Silvia shoved me and Normand out, and I held Normand close. ‘She didn’t do anything to you, did she?’ I whispered.
‘This is a fake,’ replied Normand. ‘It’s all a fucking fake.’
‘You think you’re here for an act?’
‘If it’s real, it’s dangerous!’
‘You insisted on ignorance.’
‘I’m here for a holiday.’
I pushed my glasses up. He quavered. ‘You’re insane… You’re fucking insane!’
He shoved me onto a wall and strode away. Despite vertigo taking over him, he slapped my hand as soon as I got close to him. ‘Get the fuck away from me!’
'Don't hide,' I commanded, gripping on Normand's arm. He was stronger, but he daren't harm me no matter the situation. I made sure of that. 'Those cards... you took their time away, didn't you?'
Normand didn't struggle.
'I wanted to say thank you, but... it's over. I'm sorry.'
‘The hell’s going on?’ Silvia came out. Pierre’s arm draped over Silvia’s shoulder when they came out. Pierre’s face scrunched up with tears. His leg had swollen. With both of us seeing it, we agreed with silence that any conflict would detriment the situation.
Soon, we were at the left tower—where Marwin and Penny searched for Sawney and Lucius. The spiralling stairs nauseated me with its height and continuous blackness. The leaking hourglass touched my hair, but it didn’t mind me when I heard rainfall closer to my ears.
Finally, my head hit the ceiling. I slid out the single pile of wood out of place, and the downpour from outside immediately washed my soul with relief. With pain, I grasped the cliff of the exit and pushed my right foot, using what effort I had to climb with my remaining energy. With immense pain I grunted, but we got out of this hellhole. To feel the open air and see the sky again granted us audible sighs.
Again, Silvia called me.
I knew what happened; but I deemed it unimportant. The game of chess had become so complicated it was too tiresome to explain. But as we were talking, Sevrin and Neilan were writhing in pain, Pierre’s legs were infected, and the manor was cremating our friends into ash. While we were enjoying relief, they were suffocating. While we were free, they were trapped.
‘It will be fine,’ I said.
‘Nothing is fine!’ Silvia tossed my hand down. ‘Pierre is dead. I know it. And now I’ve lost the only thing I want.’
Normand, who refused to speak, stared at me. His complexion lacked colour.
’When Marwin said he didn’t want to come, he meant it. I was there with Pete. Thing is, Pierre kept asking him if he was sure he didn’t want to come. Marwin wasn’t faking it. He isn’t a hero—hell, he isn’t even a typical Christian—but he’s honest.
‘One day I was surfing the Necronomicon on the web. I found news—rumours about two kids selling a mysterious leather book to in France.’
I know who she was talking about. But I didn’t want to interrupt her.
‘Those kids were you and Normand. I should’ve told you earlier, but I didn’t think it’ll be important till now. Why did you do that? How old were you back then… twelve, right? Normand was fourteen. Maybe it’s some weird stuff that made you ill, so you sold it off for money. I’m not saying it’s your fault. Not even you know this will happen.’
She gave me a pitiful glare. ’But it’s all over now.
‘That one time you exposed Marwin, he disgusted me. You made a brilliant point why Marwin might be a killer. And yet it feels wrong. I don’t talk to him as much as you, but deep down, I know you don’t mean your words.’
‘Don’t mean my words?’
‘You wanted a scapegoat. You have multiple. You wanted a way out.’
The word she wanted to say, but had no courage to, was ‘fraud’. A brutal insult. ‘A fraud, yes. A killer, never!’
‘That’s why I’m telling you to think of your sins, whether you believe in them. You and Normand can have the boat. Then we’ll talk.’
I was petrified, but not enough to ignore Normand’s sneering glare. I would’ve lied and say I could convince them of my innocence, but truth always finds a way. Marwin had sinned, but so had I. Sin is straying from absolute harmony; that’s the only thing that mattered. I turned to Silvia, gave her a fake smile, before saying:
‘Sin isn’t created by God. It’s created by us when we want the inevitable to be subjective. We fear seeing the whole, so we narrow down to one part; and that part is nothing but sorrow, lies, and torment. The principal will understand. Ms Collins will understand. She’ll sort this out, as will the police. We’ll start over. Pierre and the others will always be dear to us; but now, hope is more important.’
We knew I was lying. The manor had been a distant yet lively place when I first saw it. Now, with the sacrificial bloodbath and rain made of metal, it had become a true curse, a nest of Brown-Jenkins, and a hotel for the mournful and confused.
We could no longer stay or go back. The only way out was the tower’s height. The grass below was out of our vision, the only guarantee for a safe landing being the taller palm trees. Pierre could break another limb and not be able to walk, but he had nothing more to lose. The best thing out of falling was to die with no memory of this. With the biggest breath I could take, I held Normand close and dropped.
A crack made me hiss, but not from pain. The impact of gravity sent an ache into my head, but as soon as I picked myself up I scurried like a limp animal. Silvia’s scream followed.
Marwin was racing his way to freedom. Following him might mean a fight to the death. I, however, doubt that it would be the first thing Pierre would do—and that was what was dangerous.
I felt tears. When was the last time I had felt betrayed like this? I shouldn’t contemplate on the past; but the present leads me to it, and the pain from the past delivers back to the present. And it would only get worse as those corresponding memories compile with time. At last, it becomes a black hole, rendering my will to stand into a speck of burnt coal—discarded and meaningless.
Enough of these self-lies! I am the previous owner of the Necronomicon. Yes, I've said it. But I had put the book to auction and sold it to a stranger. I still remember his face, though vaguely: a man perhaps in his late thirties, yet his upright posture told me he had yet to lose his youth. In what way he was related to Marwin, or whichever side he was from, I don’t know in the slightest. He was a German tourist who passed by me—but I never thought I’d have to deal with the book again.
Just like how I daren’t keep it, I daren’t use it despite having opened it a few times. But I knew well enough that the book should never be messed with. What would happen if I were to keep it? There must be a scapegoat bearing the consequences of a mad writer; and because of that absolute ending, I became frustrated.
Whether Marwin had given up or had gone mad from the Necronomicon, I must snatch the book from him as soon as possible. Yet, my mind split in two. What would happen if Marwin found me out? What would happen if I must burden his hatred for the rest of my life?
One late night, I tried consoling Normand. He was doing homework and drinking in silence, and at first he pretended he couldn’t hear me. But at last, he scraped his work aside and offered me an empty glass. After helping myself to red wine and sitting on my bed, Normand asked me to repeat what I had said.
‘So it’s about the Necronomicon, huh?’ said Normand. ‘It’s back.’
‘Yes. And with Marwin of all people.’ I took a sip of wine and continued. ‘It makes me wonder whether fate has bound us.’
‘And what do we do, then? Destroy it?’
‘It’s on the list,’ I said, ‘but I do not wish to harm Marwin. He has yet to show any signs of madness or experience in use, but it’s still far too dangerous.’
Normand frowned. ‘He won’t allow it, right? If he knows, he’ll…’
‘That’s the reason I’ve consoled you,’ I interrupted.
Normand bit his lip and spoke in a shaky voice. ‘Don’t promise me what’s impossible. What’s done is done, but I can’t just pretend it never existed—’
‘You know me the most, Normand.’ I swirled my glass, looking at Normand through it. ‘And with the two of us, nothing out of Mother Nature is impossible. Do you trust me?’
Normand looked up and narrowed his eyes. The lamp flickered in and out. ‘What choice do I have? If you—if Marwin uses the Necronomicon someday, what can we do to stop him?’
‘Tell me not to try, and I’ll listen.’ I steadied the plug of the lamp, careful not to brush against Normand’s fingers. ‘But how could I? Not a day goes by without thinking about him. I don’t want him to hate me, but I don’t want to make a deal with the devil.’
‘Do you believe in the devil?’
I ignored his question and refilled my glass. The wine had not matured, but it wasn’t sacrilegious. I brought the bottle with me and placed it on Normand’s desk. ‘I have two options: snatch the book away and have Marwin curse me for the rest of my life; or ignore him and watch him descend to madness, with a guilt that I have done nothing.’
‘Is there a better way?’ Normand asked.
‘Nothing ends well with the Necronomicon. The only thing we could do is to make this remaining time as worthwhile as possible.’
Normand gulped. He no longer had any appetite for beer, so he poured the wine into the can he had drunk from.
‘What are you doing?’ I asked.
‘… So what do you think? What should I do?’
Normand looked away and drank the cursed potion. After several gulps, he answered, ‘Do what you think is right. Right now, you’re scared of Marwin. Not just Marwin going bat-shit crazy, but Marwin as a whole.’
‘I’m not scared of him. I respect him.’
‘You get what I mean. So I want you to give it a try. You don’t want Marwin to reject you, but a moment of that fear is never worth the following years of regret, you know? Say, what would happen if you never sold the Necronomicon at all?’
‘Things would’ve been better.’
‘But you’ll regret not doing so, because the want is already there. You can’t shake off the thought, no matter how you force yourself. It might be good, it might be bad, no one really knows. So just do what’s right for you, and I’ll support you no matter what.’
‘You’re not implying anything, are you?’
‘No,’ he replied. ‘You’ve said the same thing once when I wanted to confess to Patri. Not like she'll love me back.’
I lay down and held the glass up high. Memories. What precious jewels to cling onto, when they’re nothing but visual indulgences. I thought even further back on one childhood memory when a rainstorm was hoarding Neuilly. Neither Normand nor I could sleep. We were trying to find something to kill our boredom when I brought up the suggestion to sneak into the library, where the Necronomicon was hidden away in secret.
When we finally got our hands on the book, however, all we felt was disappointment. We couldn’t read any of this. We scanned a few pages. Not much was of our interest until two pieces of paper fell from the last page. We were startled, in fear that someone would find us, so we hid somewhere safer and began reading.
Both pieces of paper were yellow with age, as the top left of each page was written ‘1690’. One was a ritual to resurrect the dead—the same ritual Marwin had used on the island. Since it showed a page number, we supposed it was a translation of the book. The other, however…
‘Normand,’ I called. The other was finishing his homework when he turned to look at me. ‘You still have those two pages, don’t you?’
‘Those that we kept after selling the Necronomicon. Don’t tell me you’ve lost them?’
‘Wha—no! I still have it in my luggage.’
‘Yes. Bring them to me. But finish your homework first. Or not.’
‘You haven’t even started yours.’
‘I can do it tomorrow morning.’
He huffed, but he did what I told him to. Seeing those yellow pages had given me a sense of nostalgia again, but after a while I felt a pierce in my mind, a sting in my eye, a slice in my skin, and the deepened beats of my heart all at once. Reverberation of madness rang in my ears. If it weren’t for Normand, I wouldn’t have been aware of the cold sweat drenching my body.
‘Ari, you okay?’
‘Hm? Yes, yes. I’m simply going through the text.’
‘What’s that gotta do with Marwin?’
‘It’s likely he’ll use the Necronomicon if that German priest gave it to Marwin. Even better, he might also have a translation excerpt.’ I rolled myself to the side and toward Normand. ‘But I don’t think any other pages are as important as these two. Like this one, to raise the dead.’
‘And the other?’
I refused to answer. Instead, I showed the other page for him to read himself. Normand scanned the page—the longer he did so, the more his eyes widened in disbelief, before he shut his eyes tight and shook his head. ‘No…no way it’s real. What is this–the blood from seven men? The coming of the full moon? What is this?’
‘Unfortunately, I have no clue,’ said I. ‘But it must be of great significance if it made its way to one of the two pages.’
‘And the corners…’ He scratched on a blotch of red. ‘Someone has done it?’
‘Perhaps. But I doubt it was successful. Perhaps the one attempting this had forgone an error and therefore paid the price.’
‘What’s the meaning of this, Ari? What are you trying to do?’
‘If you remember what I had said, then you’d remember that Marwin would go mad from the Necronomicon no matter what. That means we can do anything. But thinking about it again, there’s no modern proof that the Necronomicon is reliable.’
‘Don’t tell me you’re…’
I nodded. Normand looked away and made an indescribable expression. ‘I’m…not sure if you should. We’ve dealt with this before. I don’t wanna deal with it a second time.’
‘Tell me not to try, and I’ll listen,’ I repeated. ‘I know you’re upset over what happened to you—to us, and we can’t simply pretend the past never existed. But I believe we can destroy it so we can move on, and the only means is to delve into the past once again.’
‘So this is a blind shot? If your sacrifices die, they die?’
‘I’m afraid so. But if our ritual and his resurrection works, it’ll mean the Necronomicon is truly dangerous and we must destroy it at all costs. That would nullify the consequences.’
‘That would be enough to break Marwin into pieces. And you said you don’t want him to hate you?’
‘I’ve decided. It’ll be my loss. I will not put you into the blame.’
Marwin could hate me and curse me and try to kill me for the rest of my life, and I would take it all—but the last thing I wanted was to ruin Normand. He deserved to be in a better place, but I had to make do with his lifelong vow that he would follow me to the grave. Since Normand knows how I lie, he knew I was being genuine, and for that he was worried. No, he was more upset with himself that he wouldn’t be able to keep his promise forever.
‘I understand. So we’re doing the ritual. What do we need other than sacrifices?’
‘For the sacrifices, it says to be those who are closest to us.’
‘You’re fucking kidding me. And people have done this.’
I made no comment and continued. ‘That I can manage. Other than that, we need to do this over the gradual course of a full moon. Start at twilight, a day or two before the full moon, and finish the night of the full moon. That’s… oddly specific, but I see the symbolism.’
That said, I looked at the lunar calendar on my phone. Normand came closer to peek at my scrolling. ‘When’s the trip again? The one Pierre announced to us?’
I heard him, but continued scrolling to August 2020. The second of August… the first of August… there. ‘The thirty-first of July. A waxing gibbous. Coincidence? I think not.’
That was the start of the plan. The next day we went to school, laughing and joking as normal, but no one knew of our nightly discussion. Kill those who were the furthest from our concerns, as we had planned. That would buy us time to make up our minds. Our priority, however, was to suggest Pierre a rumoured place to camp in. That would make him convince Marwin to come with us. ‘If Marwin doesn’t, however, we won’t trouble ourselves,’ I said.
Yet, Marwin came. A step closer to our experiment, but as the days came closer, I began biting my fingertips. Was this the right decision? I knew from the bottom of my heart that murder is immoral, so I started repeating random quotes from our first upbringing: Right now, you’re scared of Marwin. Not just Marwin going bat shit crazy, but Marwin as a whole. I want you to at least try. This is way too cruel.
At some point I started reading a few books on occultism, thanks to Penny’s plethora. It was through these books I had less fear of death. Less, because it’s terrifying no matter how I look at it. From the moment I go out, I’ll never return, not even in spirit, and I’ll say goodbye.
Goodbye. Once you become detached and hopeless, you become free and addicted to what people call madness. You’re no longer bothered by your failures, your absurd doodles, or your repetitive, mundane tasks. Everything is tolerated, because after all, I’m the culprit—a failure of one. I’m a mentally ill person who no longer has to hide their symptoms, and the loss of dreams have helped me accept how things are.
That moment, I finally knew how to stop this once and for all.