It was disturbing how little time I needed to recover from my date with Greg. I was up and at ‘em within 12 hours, armed with fresh excuses and rationales, ready to put the witch back behind the crosshairs, and with barely a backwards glance at the knife that I had, apparently, intended to stick into my longtime friend.
Further sickening what little was left of the decent side of me (if not decent, maybe just quasi-normal) was the twinge of excitement that vibrated through me at the prospect of seeing Mr. Wicked, again. And for all the fear he inspired, there was something fun and childlike about him. I imagined him running wild and naked through the woods, flanked by wild dogs, hunting. And for just a spark of a second, I imagined holding hands with him, laughing.
This time, rather than just winging a visit into the prison, I used what few remaining contacts I hadn’t managed to completely ostracize to arrange for a proper visit—an interview. It was strange to engage the machine again—talking to other professionals, pitching articles and whatnot. It all seemed horribly boring to me, now. The only part that I enjoyed was all the lying. I relished hiding my motives, my most recent activities. They had no idea what I was on to, what I’d uncovered, or how the world might look when you finally took off the rose-colored glasses. They had no idea, and I loved it.
Wicked had been replaced to a new maximum security prison in Thunderburg, which was a city that had more than its fair share of bad weather, hence the name. It seemed our meeting was destined to take place beneath more storm clouds.
Before I left my apartment, which felt more and more like a molted skin, I looked back at the witch’s cassettes. I wondered if the video I dreamed of while up North was imprinted on the next tape in the series. I wasn’t ready for that level of unreality, so I left the mystery smoldering, and walked out the front door.
The ride to the prison was a dead ringer of the last trip I’d taken to see Dillan Wicked—a sky thick with thunderclouds and rain, my hands shaking so much that I had a hard time operating the radio. The most important difference between the two trips, maybe the only difference, was that the shaking was from excitement, not fear.
I was thrilled when I breezed by the front desk and was almost immediately whisked into the prison. The whole process almost felt rushed. They did very little to verify who I was, after all. And beyond the speed with which I was welcomed into maximum security, the man that escorted me to Wicked’s cell seemed awfully pale and…terrified.
By the time we descended a set of stairs that appeared to deliver us into the cellar, I began to wonder what was going on. I asked the guard where we were going. That’s when I noticed that he’d sweat through his shirt. He just looked up at the ceiling, which was conspicuously unlit by any of the recessed halogen lights, and said, “We’re going to see Mr. Wicked, Miss.” The man called him by his killing name, and pronounced it with all the fear and respect that a peasant might use to articulate the name of a king.
The darkness had become almost absolute by the time we rounded the third corner, but just as the world was about to collapse into nothingness, a bit of candlelight bled a small current of light into the hallway. That’s when I saw blood on the floor. Followed by several bodies that had been hanged from the ceiling, each one of them badly torn apart. The guard was shaking now, and from the smell of things, he’d also pissed himself (I’d been there before, for sure).
The hallway opened into a large room. It was filled with all kinds of boxes that were all neatly stacked against the walls. Lit candles had been placed all over the room. In the middle of the room, reclining within leather desk chairs, sat several men. One of them was Wicked.
“Hi Genevieve! I’m so very glad you didn’t take your time getting here. For, as you can see, I’ve finally decided to blow my cover, sort of. I’ve elected to enjoy the comforts outside of my little ‘iron Maiden.’ But don’t worry, I’ve convinced the staff to keep my secret. Their fear should hold for a while, I think. But, please, pull up a chair and join us,” said the man who killed with a regularity that rivaled his breathing.
“Uh, sure,” was all I could muster.
There were three other men—convicts, presumably—in the room with Wicked. The most noticeable of them was a giant (I was growing a little sick of their ilk, to be completely honest). Wicked could see that the man’s size was diverting my attention, and so decided to introduce the giant.
“This is Baron. JUST Baron, I’m told. But don’t worry, he’s a killer, just like you and me. Those two gentlemen sitting alongside of you are, in order of importance, Jacob and Stanley,” announced the spree killer, with all the faux formality he could summon.
“Glad…to meet all of you,” I said to them. The one called Baron stared a big, flaming hole through my face. His eyes had already settled on the shit I’d done, and my capacity to do worse. I had a pretty good idea who he was. He fit the description of a serial killer called “Gland Case.” The murderer was a thoughtful giant who enjoyed killing his victims in the cleverest of ways, apparently to prove he was more than a simple brute. I recalled one very specific murder in which he somehow managed to inject nitroglycerin into an extremely rich socialite’s fake breasts (it was believed that the woman was drugged, and the chemical was injected while she slept). Apparently, Mr. Gland Case had anticipated that the woman, who had a well-known appetite for rough sex, would be ‘retiring’ with her paramour later in the evening. I guess it took the forensics guys hours to find all the body parts. I couldn’t place the other two killers.
Dillan Wicked finally turned the whole of his attention upon me, and ignited a burning grin. “Well, Genevieve, I have to be completely honest with you…I didn’t ask you here just to supply you with some meaningful low-down…” He beamed at me through his manufactured silence-for-effect, waiting for me to break. I could feel every single nerve ending in my body, sizzling. But I managed to steady myself beneath his devil’s gaze.
“What? I gotta give you a nickel to get the rest of it out of you? Why do you want me here, Wicked?” It may have been some of the most difficult words I’d ever spoken. It took a supreme effort to remain composed (I couldn’t afford to piss myself again).
“HAHAHA, you don’t have to prove to me that you’re tough, dear Genevieve. I know there’s a winter’s worth of cold living in that heart of yours. You see, I’ve always been interested to know more about my not-quite-mother, and what she got up to after that awful ‘son’ of hers banished me from that little gang of misfits. So, I’ve decided to help you. Well, Baron and I, that is. We’re coming with you. Can you even imagine all the fun we’re going to have together?”
I couldn’t. Not even a little bit.
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