When Addison awoke she was back in her dingy cell, but it had been stripped. The bed had been dragged out along with the sheets. They had left nothing at all in the cell. Her head was pounding and she was trying to gather her bearings. There was this last image of Tom’s face with his hands grasping her throat. That can’t have been real, she thought to herself, but when she glanced beside her where Tom should have been resting on his bed, or standing with his fingers clasped in the links asking if she was alright, there was nothing.
She stood on shaky legs and ran her hands through her hair, but came up short. Her usually long, silky locks had been hacked to pieces. When she looked to the ground there it was all around her. She could feel the tears in her eyes as she bent to the floor and fisted a few strands. They floated to the floor like a feather when she let them go and she watched them until they landed with the others. Then, she squared her shoulders and told herself to get over it. It was only a bit of hair after all; she was in a much more dangerous situation. A lack of hair might actually benefit her.
A flash of memory pounded through her head. The dingy window. The view that was so familiar to her. She knew exactly where she was, but a whole lot of good that information was going to do her trapped in this basement. She highly doubted that she was going to get the chance to escape again, especially since they had removed everything from her living area except herself and her hair.
With every passing moment she was starting to lose confidence in herself. She had always been the girl who could see right through people like they were made out of cellophane, but she had the wool pulled over her eyes by not just one person, but two. She had clearly become sloppy, she stopped analyzing everyone with a brutal and unrelenting eye. People always told her she was too hard on people, that she was cold, but things like this happened when she didn’t pay enough attention. Right then and there she vowed to never be so stupid again.
She was standing there in her silent reverie when the door opened once more. She didn’t turn to greet the visitor, nor did she say a word. She just stood in the exact same position. His slow, calculated footstep echoed in the small room until they stopped and she knew he was standing right in front of her.
“It is nice to see you up and about, darling. For a minute there I was worried Tom had completely lost control and killed you, but you are a resilient one aren’t you?”
“I could stop being so resilient if people stopped trying to kill me.”
“Oh, Sweetheart, if I were trying to kill you you’d already be dead. You would have been dead a long time ago.”
“So what,” Addison finally turned to him and looked him straight in the eye, “are you doing with me?”
“I will get to that, I assure you. But, first, I would like to show you something.” He pulled the same set of keys out of his pocket and unlocked the solitary lock. He stood in the doorway, but did not step any further. With his hand he beckoned Addison to him, “come now, Isabella, we have things to do.”
He spat her name with such hatred that Addison had to look to the floor before walking over to him. “Where are we going?”
“Keep walking and you will find out you nosy girl.” He led her up the stairs and into the same room that Addison had almost escaped from. She gazed out of the same window and was greeted with the same view.
“Why did you take me here? How do you even know about this place?”
“I know plenty of things, I thought you would have caught onto that by now.” His non answer did nothing to quell her curiosity, but he continued to walk to the front door, so Addison quickly followed. His hand reached towards the door knob, but he hesitated and pulled back. “After your last stunt, I feel that I should say this to you. I know you know where we are. I know you know how remote it is, that there is no one around for miles. What you don’t know is I know this area like the back of my hand. Anywhere you run, anywhere you think you can hide, I will find you. And this time there will be no punishment to you. You will be unharmed, but our dear friend Phillip Rossum will be killed. It would be easy for me to get to him. I know his schedule, I know where he lives, and I have his trust. Are we clear?”
Addison’s heartbeat picked up. In her attempt to escape she didn’t spare a thought for Rossum. She meekly looked into Brogan’s eyes and gave a slight nod, “I understand.”
“Good, I thought that might make things clearer for you.” He pulled on the handle and led her outside. It was dark, but the clouds were obscuring the starts.
Addison had never truly appreciated the subtle pleasure of a breeze until she had been deprived of it for a long period. For a moment she stood still with her eyes closed sucking in as much as the fresh air as she could manage, but thick fingers wrapped around her wrist and pulled her along. She had to open her eyes to make sure she kept her footing on the rough terrain. In the distance she saw a building that she had never seen on this property before. The sides and roof were foggy and she couldn’t see what was inside, but, if she was going by the twisting in her stomach, it wasn’t anything good.
They finally reached the double front doors and Brogan produced a white medical mask from his back pocket. “You’re probably going to need this.”
Her nose scrunched in disgust, but she put it on anyway. When she was finished tying it in the back he pulled the doors open. It was like being hit in the face. The worst smell of death Addison had ever encountered. He held back the urge to vomit, but her hand did fly over her mouth and nose which the mask was already covering. The odd thing was she couldn’t actually see any dead bodies, only beautiful, thriving flowers.
“What is this place?” Addison managed to choke out.
“This is where we keep them.”
“Them?” she didn’t want to ask the question. She was almost certain she already knew the answer, but she asked anyway.
“You couldn’t honestly think that those girls in the bathrooms were the only people we killed. This is where we keep the rest. The imperfect. The ones that society doesn’t give a damn about. In death they are even more beautiful than in life, don’t you think?”
She looked around at all the beautiful flowers and was utterly disgusted, “you sick fuck! You are killing them to use as fertilizer?!”
“No, of course that’s not why we kill them, but the bodies might as well not go to waste. There is just something inside me Isabella. I have to kill, I’ve had so since I was young, your father helped me realize that.”
As soon as the word father escaped Brogan’s mouth Addison whipped around to face him so fast that she almost lost her balance. Her wide green eyes met his, “what does my father have to do with this?”
“Nothing, and everything.”
Addison rolled her eyes, “Thank you, that’s not cryptic at all. If you want to tell me some long winded story, can we please not do it in here? The smell off death is kind of putting me off.”
Brogan pulled a green leaf inbetween his fingers and smirked, “of course, dear. I just wanted to show you my accomplishments. It’s quite magnificent, wouldn’t you agree.”
“I would agree that you are sick, that this is sick.”
“To each their own I suppose.” He held out his hand for Addison to grab, but when she walked right past him he gripped her elbow tightly, “ah, ah, ah, we all know you are not to be trusted.”
They walked like that back to the house. Once they got through the main doors Brogan turned around and locked it from the inside. Addison cocked her head, “I don’t remember that from when I used to come here as a kid.”
“It’s funny the things we forget, isn’t it?” he led her into the kitchen and had her sit down in one of the chairs.
For good measure he tied her legs and arms to the chair, “Well, this feels all too familiar.” Addison joked, Brogan even spared her a chuckle.
“Good to see your sense of humor is still intact, dark as it may be.” Once he was done he slouched down on his own chair and stared deeply into Addison’s eyes. It went on for a while, until finally she had to look away, this caused a smirk to grow on Brogan’s face. “Now, how would you like to know a little bit more about me and why you are here?”
Addison looked back at him and nodded, “that might be nice, thank you.”
“Your childhood was charmed.”
Addison practically snorted her retort, “charmed?! You are an idiot if you think –”
“Ah! I believe I am telling the story here and I would appreciate you not interrupting me. Now, as I was saying, you had a charmed childhood with your little house in the suburbs and your mother and father doting on you. Then there was me looking in on your perfect life from the outside. I bet you never knew you had a brother, did you?”
“You… your my brother?” Addison couldn’t believe what he was saying. “How are you my brother? I – I don’t have a brother.”
“But you do, Isabella, you do, and here he is.” Brogan swept his hands down his body, “I am your big bad brother Isabella.”
“I don’t understand. If you’re my brother why are you doing this to me? Why did you take me? Oh, my god why did you kiss me you sick freak?”
“All part of the plan, my dear. See, before you were even born your father got some bitch pregnant and when she popped me out, he killer her.” When Addison heard this she visibly flinched and Brogan chuckled, “Oh, darling you don’t have to be so coy. I know you know all about your father’s extracurricular activities. Isn’t that why you’ve been running so far from your past? Isn’t that why you tried to erase it? Your father’s penchant for killing girls? It was a little disturbing walking in on one of his victims, or did you like it? Was it exciting walking in on that, seeing all that blood?”
The scene flashed through her head. A vision she had worked so hard to erase was back in full force. Her small hand reaching for the handle. Blood everywhere. A woman slumped up against the wall. Hands secured by handcuffs. The very top of her head removed and sitting on the workbench. Her father appeared behind her and grabbed her arm, when he pulled her back he jerked so hard the brittle bones broke. Her father was yelling, she was crying, and her mother was standing, silent, at the top of the basement stairs.
“Don’t talk about that. Ever.” Addison’s voice was deep and menacing.
“Oh, Isabella, looks like you did get some of your father in you, didn’t you.”
“I’m nothing like him.”
“You are very much like him actually, that’s why you were always his favourite. He doted on you, his precious angel, even though I did everything he ever asked of me. I worked so hard to impress him, to make him proud of me, but it was always all about you.”
“You have a seriously diluted view of how I grew up. Everything started out great, you’re right, things were nice, but everything quickly turned to shit. Dad starting spending all his time in the basement, mom stopped speaking even to me. She looked pale and worried all the time, but we stuck it out. I was little, I didn’t really understand what was happening, but I understood that my mother was frightened of my father, so I became frightened too. For years I lived in this hell. I was all alone in my life until one day I stumbled into the room that my father had forbade me from entering, and everything fell apart. Sure, dear old dad stuck around for a while. We all tried to pretend that I didn’t see what I saw, but I was confused. I don’t think I really knew what I saw. Not long after that incident a police officer came to our classroom to talk to us about safety. Afterwards I started asking him questions about the lady I found in the basement. He laughed it off, made some comment about the imaginations of children, but my teacher told my father about it. He wasn’t angry, which scared me a little. When we got home he went straight upstairs, packed a bag, grabbed my mother and left. Before they walked out he told me that if I ever told anyone about what I saw again he would kill my mother. Then nothing, until I got older and started looking for him.”
“Well, well, how long have you been waiting to get that sob story out? I don’t care how you felt growing up. All I care about is the hate that has been growing inside of me since you made him leave. It has been years since I have seen or hear from our father, but that is about to change.”
“How are you going to change that?”
“With you, of course. I thought that much was obvious.”
“Me? Why me, I don’t know where he is. I stopped looking a long time ago after he reminded me of the deal we made. I don’t look for him, and he doesn’t kill my mother.”
“Yes, but there is a reason he left isn’t there? There is a reason he doesn’t want to be found. That reason, dearest sister, is you. In killing you, I could get back at you, and at him, and allow him something he wants, to live free from hiding. I will finally earn his trust, his love.”
This panicked Addison. She thought he would drag this out. She thought she had more time to think of something, to try and escape again, but his whole plan was to kill her and if he was telling her this, she doubted he planned to keep her alive for very much longer, “you said it yourself, I was his favourite. What would killing me do except anger him? Don’t you think if he wanted me dead he would have killed me himself?”
“He could never kill you. You are his one weakness, but I will take care of that weakness for him so he can be strong again. We can be strong together.”
“You’re insane if you think killing me will make him love you! He is incapable of love.” Addison was shouting now and struggling against her binds, “killing me will prove nothing!”
“Maybe, but what am I to lose by killing you? What is anyone going to lose without you on this earth?”
“Phillip.” The name fell out of her mouth, but she stopped struggling and looked up at Brogan through her lashes. “If you do this, if you kill me, will you leave him alone? Stop sending him letters, stop hiding bones in his compost, will you stop tormenting him?”
“Yes, Agent Rossum, your one and only soft spot, how my heart breaks for you Romeo and Juliet romance.” His sarcastic tone stung a little, but Addison kept quiet. “Yes, fine I will cease all communication with your precious Rossum. In fact, I will even do you one better, sister, I will allow you one last phone call with your dear love.”
Addison almost gasped, “you will?! Is that some sort of joke? Getting my hopes up just so you can cut them down?”
“No, I am feeling quite generous, I will, of course, monitor the call to make sure you aren’t slipping in anything you shouldn’t be. Is there any particular message you would like to convey for the last time?”
So many messages were racing through Addison’s head, but she had to focus on something that could alert Rossum, but she had to be careful about it. Her mind finally landed on something, and not a moment too soon because Brogan was starting to look restless. “I have been a bit worried about his wife coming back into his life. She left him last time and I don’t know if she can stay here this time either. If this is the last thing I am going to say to him I want to make sure he doesn’t get his heart broken again.”
“Aren’t you humble and kind to the very end?” He stood and walked to the kitchen counter. There sat a small plastic phone which he picked up, dialled a number into, then placed it in the middle of the table on speaker.
Addison was flustered, she didn’t think it would happen so soon. She didn’t have the right wording down, but the phone was ringing and she thought of a different problem, “what if he doesn’t answer?”
“Then I guess you will be leaving a heartfelt voicemail.”
But Addison need not have worried for a moment later the deep tones of Rossum’s voice was echoing through the hollow kitchen, “Agent Rossum here.”
She wanted to cry at that sound, but managed to hold it together, “hey Agent Rossum.”
It took him a moment to recover from hearing her voice, she knew the feeling, but when he launched into a barrage of questions she saw Brogan roll his eyes and knew he could change his mind at any moment. She told him to calm down and did her best to assure him that she was alright, although her voice did break for a moment. Yet again he asked the questions she so desperately wanted to answer, but couldn’t
“Ross, he’s not going to let me tell you that.” She glanced at the man she was referring to and he gave her a small nod. “He let me call you to... to say… to say goodbye. You are the most important person in my life and I am so sorry about how we left it –” Brogan made an exaggerated cough and slowly rolled his hands over one and other to signal to her that she needed to hurry up. “Sorry, I’m not supposed to go off track here. I just needed to talk to you one last time and ask you: could Lena ever stay here? Could she Ross? Think about it. I’m only trying to look out for you.” she tried to emphasize this statement as much as possible, but Brogan was already reaching towards the phone. “I love you, I really do, no matter what I’ve said in the past. And I’m sorry and don’t miss me too much!”
With that Brogan smashed the phone on the ground and let out a holler, “Woo-yee! Now that was exciting, wasn’t it? You did well, got a little wordy in the middle, but you pulled through. Now I am going to escort you back down to your room so you can get a good night’s sleep. Tomorrow’s a big day for you, tomorrow is the day you die.”