"Seven-and-a-half years in that god forsaken
dump," Eric Bell murmured into the bitter Chicago morning air
as he took one final glance back at the grey-walled prison.
Breathing in deeply, he pulled his old pea coat tighter
about his frame. When he had arrived there that coat had been a
snug fit, yet now it hung loosely on his now diminished and weathered
Seven damn years, he considered for a second
time as he shuffled purposefully down the deserted morning street
to the bus stop.
As he made his way he played over the iniquitous circumstances
of his incarceration repetitively in his mind, and how as a free
man, he could finally seek his overdue retribution. That odium had
sustained his motivation to survive the ordeal, and maintain his
resolve to keep in strong physical and mental condition. Next time
the outcome was going to be different.
Eric Bell had, once upon a time, had everything; a
solid, respectable job at the bank with promising prospects, a modest
apartment situated in the most fashionable part of town, and his
most important prize of all
a fiancée. Sally Higgins
was all he had ever desired, and yet so very much more. They had
loved each other at that very initial awkward fleeting gaze, at
the back of his college accounting class, and their love had continued
to flourish every wonderful day thereafter, until that most flawless
of days when he had finally proposed
and she had without hesitation
As he waited at the bus stop, with an aloof impassive
expression chiseled on his premature aged face, he smirked sadistically
on the inside. Revenge was finally going to be his and he was going
to savor every nefarious moment. Avenging his beloved Sally had
become his only reason to continue breathing.
When the bus eventually pulled up, the driver cast
him a knowing cold glance as he boarded, obviously used to just-released
prisoners taking his route. Eric solemnly headed towards the back
of the vehicle. As he stumbled along, the morning commuters avoided
his stare, afraid to make eye contact with him. He winced at them
as he sat.
My God, what have I become to instill this fear?
He considered. Have I now become such a monster myself with my festering
Regaining his focus, he continued to contemplate over
that one day that would haunt him forever, allowing its miserable
memory to motivate him on his mission. For him, life was worthless
* * *
Eric and Sally had been out celebrating their engagement,
drinking and exuberantly enjoying themselves in their favorite local
pubMurphy's. They were young, they were immeasurably in love
and they were blissfully happy.
As they drank and giggled, Eric barely paid attention
to Paul and Liam Mitchell, consuming their numerous pints of Guinness
and ogling his betrothed. Scrutinizing the generous curves under
her clinging pink cashmere sweater, how her thigh teasingly exposed
itself as she crossed her exquisite nubile legs, not perceiving
that each time she tantalizing licked her painted red lips, a primeval
passion was stirring deep within the brothers' alcohol-sodden minds.
As it had been a beautiful, summer Chicago evening,
they had decided to walk home, still relishing each others company,
as was often their habit. As they meandered and chitchatted along
the familiar downtown streets back to Sally's home, they were completely
oblivious to the fact that they were being stalked.
Upon arriving at her doorstep, Eric kissed Sally softly
on her lips and then allowed himself one more intoxicating breath
of her fragrant hair, before he began his walk on home alone. Just
as he let go of her embrace, still locked in her eyes, the door
swung open and Sally's mother, Faye, coughed politely to get their
attention. They chuckled again, and with Faye peering on approvingly
they then finally said goodnight.
As Eric walked he began to whistle, he was beyond
happy; life at that moment was utterly flawless. He casually observed
that the Mitchell brothers were standing in the street, smoking
cigarettes, and appearing to be anxious, but thought nothing particular
of it. He knew that they were in all probability up to no good.
They more often than not were, and had been ever since their school
days together. He cringed for a moment as he recalled how they use
to pick on him.
Once a bully, always a bully, he thought as he continued
his stroll back to his apartment.
Late the following morning, the phone rang. It was
a Saturday, and Eric yawned lethargically as he answered it; so
very sure that it was his Sally. Yet, he was wrong. It was Faye
and he realized at that instant that something horrific had occurred,
by the cold quivering timbre of her tone.
"Something dreadful happened last night,"
she confirmed as if she had to force the words out.
There was an uncomfortable pause for a few moments,
and then she continued on slowly.
"My very worst nightmares have been realized."
Eric suddenly felt his world collapse about him, and
his body began to tremble.
Then the phone went silent, as if more words were
too arduous a task. Eric immediately told her he was coming over
and flung out of his bed, threw on an old pair of jeans and a shirt
and drove frantically to Faye's house. As he pulled up, he noticed
that two police cars and an ambulance were portentously parked outside,
and several neighbors were standing outside their homes whispering
to each other and pointing. Eric raced into the house and discovered
Faye in the living room, trembling and weeping, talking to a young
"Is this Eric, her fiancé?" she asked
Faye, who solemnly nodded in response.
"Come with me," the officer said, as she
led Eric into the kitchen.
"I have terrible news. There is no other way
to tell you I am afraid
dead. Faye discovered
her this morning. She had been bound by her ankles and arms, and
she had been," she paused for a moment, as if deciding whether
or not to continue, "sexually assaulted. I know it is extremely
difficult, but I need to ask you a few questions about last night."
As he gave her a detailed account, he wished that
it was he who was dead.
His grief-stricken mind screamed in agony, who and
why would anybody do this? It was at that very moment, with the
police officer looking on inquisitively, that he suddenly remembered
the Mitchell brothers. He remembered seeing them in the pub. He
remembered that he had kept catching them staring at Sally, but
most of all he remembered seeing them just after he left Sally's
house. It was at this precise anguished moment that he understood
it was them who had done it.
The police, however, despite a barrage of circumstantial
evidence, were unable to uncover any solid clues or facts to substantiate
Eric's theory. The district attorney allowed it to go to trial nonetheless,
and for two long weeks Faye and Eric sat silently in the courtroom,
watching the brothers stand in the dock and lie and listening to
their attorney manipulate. Finally, with much public disapproval,
they were acquitted of all charges.
Eric's life quickly spiraled recklessly out of control
after that day. He began drinking increasingly more, in a futile
attempt to ease his insufferable pain. Yet, his hatred only persisted,
to inflame further until he could not stand it any longer. As a
result of his disturbed state of mind he lost his job a month later,
his boss sympathetic, but steadfast in his decision.
Two long, miserable months passed and Eric was spending
the last of his final paycheck at Murphy's pub when he saw them,
the Mitchell brothers. They were drinking, playing darts and acting
as arrogantly as they always had. Eric's pent-up anger suddenly
spawned into insanity and something snapped deep at the core of
his reasoning. He suddenly smashed his empty beer bottle violently
against the bar top and lunged at the youngest brother, Liam, with
the jagged glass, screaming maniacally as he went. Overtaken by
rage, he thrashed his weapon against Liam's neck, and he was rewarded
by the sight of warm gushing blood. Eric experienced a strange euphoric
sensation of satisfaction. But then he felt a hard thump on the
back of his head as the older brother, Paul, slammed a bar stool
Eric awoke to discover that he was handcuffed in the
back of an ambulance, and a police officer was standing over him.
"You were lucky, buddy," the cop informed
him. "That fellow you attacked is going to live."
And that is how Eric had come to be sentenced to prison.
For nearly eight years he had sat silently in his
grey-walled eight-foot-by-six-foot cell and considered his plan.
As he ate, showered and exercised each day, he had continued to
manipulate the increasingly brutal details in his twisted yet coldly
conniving mind of how to instill the perfect revenge.
Just then the bus pulled into the downtown depot.
Murphy's pub was just half a block from the stop and
despite being nine in the morning, it was open and half full. As
he entered to have his first Guinness in seven years, he studied
the room, it had not changed since the very last time he had been
there all those years previous. Eric had decided that before he
fulfilled his plan, that he should go and visit with Faye. She had
always been so tender and accepting to him, and she surely was the
only other person who could identify with his torment. He felt that
he must tell her of his intended revenge, and let her know that
the Mitchell brothers were about to be dealt with, once and for
all. He finished his pint and nodded goodbye to the bartender, who
had eyed him suspiciously the whole time he had been in there.
Once more, he walked the several blocks to Faye's
house, that walk he had made so many times before. He paused as
he reached the driveway. This house had been so very beautiful once,
perhaps the finest on the entire street. The garden had been abundantly
alive with a mass of brightly colored flowers and always so impeccably
maintained. Yet, now it was obviously badly neglected and was nothing
more than an overgrown mess. The house itself, once so neatly manicured,
was also starting to show distinct signs of ill repair. Paint was
beginning to chip, siding was missing in various places, and the
windows were covered in thick grime.
He made his way slowly up the paved entranceway, beginning
to wonder if seeing Faye was really such a rational idea after all.
It was entirely possible that she might even call the police, and
tell them all he was about to share with her, yet he somehow felt
compelled. As he stood outside the door, on the very spot he had
last seen and touched Sally, he paused for a few moments, closing
his eyes tightly shut and reliving the joyful memory. Then finally
he rang the bell. There was no response, not even any sounds of
movement from within. He tried again and stepped back down the entranceway
getting ready to leave.
All at once he heard the door being unbolted from
the inside and it gradually opened, creaking ominously as it went.
Eric was taken aback by the figure that stood in front of him. Surely
she must have been Sally's grandmother, and not the elegant Faye
who always took so much pride in her appearance? Her shoulders were
stooped, and her face dirty and wrinkled. Gray, sunken, vacuous
eyes stared down at him, and then blinked as a slight sign of recognition
flickered deep within them. She said no words, but nodded and beckoned
Eric inside. He walked up the steps and entered the house which
held for him so many warm glorious memories. The air smelled stale
and of a fetid stench that he could not recognize. He allowed his
eyes to slowly examine the front room, in an attempt to uncover
the cause of the revolting odor, it was precisely the same furniture
as he remembered, only now it was covered with thick layers of dust,
which made it somehow appear haunting, almost as if the house itself
had somehow died. He fixed his gaze upon the sofa, where he and
Sally had used to sit, hold hands and giggle at the simple delight
of each other's company. Once more the unbearable ache of intense
abhorrence towards the Mitchell brothers began to fashion itself
in his gut. He fully understood that only one course of action would
diminish his anguishthe Mitchell's death.
Faye perhaps noticed the strained expression on Eric's
face, or even somehow sensing precisely what he was feeling and
considering, suddenly gazed straight at him and spoke.
"There is something that I desperately need to
Her voice was weak and strained, yet strangely somehow
Faye walked from the sitting room and through to the
back room, and then on into the adjoining kitchen. As Eric watched
on, she proceeded to lift up a door which was set in the middle
of the floor. It was funny though, he had been in that kitchen a
hundred times or more before and he had never noticed it before.
But he assumed that it must lead down to a cellar.
"Follow me," she whispered as she turned
on a soft overhead light and began to make herself down the old
Bewildered and yet oddly intrigued, Eric dutifully
followed. As he made his way down the staircase the stench made
Eric want to vomit, yet he somehow forced himself together. He was
baffled as to why he was being brought here. Moments later they
were standing at the bottom of the stairs on the cold concrete floor
and Eric understood the source of the putrid odor.
Chained on the ground, were the Mitchell brothers,
or at least what was left of them.
Faye suddenly smiled.
"You see, they have been down here for over seven
years," she said as Eric tried to comprehend the complete horror
of the demented scene in front of him. "It was rather a simple
affair, luring them here. I merely told them that I had found out
who had really killed Sally and wanted to show them the evidence.
Putting rat poison in the Guinness I served them upon their arrival
was also far easier than I had planned. The strange thing is no-one
even missed them. The only hard part of the task was dragging them
down the damn stairs and shackling them to the ground. I think I
did a fairly decent job considering I am just a little old lady,
She gave a macabre giggle and then continued.
"The first thing I realized was that I had to
stop the buggers from screaming, so before they awoke I decided
to chop out their tongues. It was rather easy, actually, and I have
to admit quite enjoyable. I used that thing over there." She
pointed to a rusty pair of garden shears.
Eric studied the brothers closely. Paul looked up
at him with terror in his only remaining eye. It appeared that both
of his arms had been clumsily removed, and half of his right leg
was also gone. By his side lay a bloodied hack saw, and several
large buckets of what he presumed was the primary source of the
revolting stink: rotting flesh.
Liam still had both of his eyes. His flesh, however,
on his arms and legs was just a festering mess of putrid puss. Next
to him was an electric carving knife, a hand drill, an oversized
pair of pliers and a variety of odd-looking bottles of chemicals,
one of which he could read as being sulfuric acid.
Faye continued in a distinctly matter of fact tone
"You see, I realized that death was far too good
for those goddamned sons of a bitch. So each and every day, for
at least twelve hours, I am to be found down here, torturing them.
Over the years I have come up with all sorts of bizarre and different
ways of accomplishing it, I am rather proud of myself. It is interesting,
once you begin looking into it; there are so many excruciating ways
to inflict immense pain on the human body. Although they can no
longer scream, I can gauge the degree of agony I am inflicting by
the level of torment in their eyes. The only hard part is keeping
them alive; death, you understand, would be far too good for these
bastards. I often have to force food and water into their bodies
with a funnel, and I have even had to nurse them back from the brink
of death a few times, before I could get them back on to their regimen
of torture. I suspect I will have at least two years left before
their bodies finally quit, if I am lucky."
As Eric continued to examine, with growing satisfaction,
the Mitchell brothers writhing in agony, the ache in his stomach,
which had been there for all those years, finally dissipated. Then
Faye handed him a red-hot branding iron that had been sitting over
a gas flame, and as he held it in his trembling hand, he gradually
made his way towards the prisoners, with them grimacing at him,
horrified and totally at his mercy. He found himself actually chuckling
as he watched their eyes get wider as he approached. They still
tried to scream reflexively, but the only sound produced was an
odd, almost comical, gurgling noise. Yes, he at long last understood
there was indeed justice in this world.