Horror Stories-scatter My Ashes - Part-2
When I woke again it was half past seven, and she was already up. I hate that, I hate waking in an empty bed. She was reading the paper as I sat down to breakfast.
?So, what''s happening in the world??
?A fifth child''s gone missing.?
?Shit. Don''t they have any suspects yet? Any evidence, any clues??
?A fisherman reported something floating on the lake. The police went out in a boat to have a look.?
?It turned out to be a calf foetus.?
I gulped coffee. I hate the taste of coffee, and it sets my stomach squirming, but I simply have to drink it.
?It says police will be diving all day today, searching the lake.?
?I might go out there, then. The lake looks fantastic in this weather.?
?When I''m snug in my office with the heater on full blast, I''ll think of you.?
?Think of the divers. They''ll have the worst of it.?
?At least they know they''ll get paid. You could spend the whole day there for nothing.?
?I''d rather take my kind of risk than theirs.?
Once she was gone, I cut out the article on the vanished child. The walls of my study are papered with newsprint, ragged grey odd-shaped pieces affixed only at their top corners, free to rustle when the door is opened or closed. Sometimes, when I''m sitting at my desk for a moment after I''ve switched off the lamp, I get a strong impression of diseased skin.
?Put them in a scrap book!? says Wendy, whenever she ventures in to grimace at the state of the room. ?Or better still, put them in a filing cabinet and see if you can lose the key!? But I need to keep them this way, I need to see them all at once, spread out before me like a satellite photograph, an aerial view of this age of violence. I''m looking for a pattern. My gaze darts from headline to headline, from STRANGLER to STALKER to RIPPER to SLASHER, hunting for a clue to the terrible unity, hunting for the nature of the single dark force that I know lies behind all the different nightmare stories, all the different fearful names.
I have books too, of course, I have shelves stuffed with volumes, some learned, some hysterical, from treatises on Vlad the Impaler to discussions of the entrails of London prostitutes to heavy psychoanalysis of the Manson gang. I have skimmed these works, read a page here and a page there only, for to clutter my mind with details can only distract me from the whole.
I recall precisely when my obsession began. I was ten. A convict, a murderer, had escaped from a nearby prison, and warnings were broadcast urging us to barricade our homes. My parents, naturally, tried not to alarm me, but we all slept together that night, in the room with the smallest window, and when the poor cat mewed to be let in the back door, my mother would let nobody, not even my father, budge.
I dozed and woke, dozed and woke, and each time dreamt that I was not sleeping but lying awake, waiting for the utter certainty of the unstoppable, blood-thirsty creature bursting through the door and slicing us all in two.
They caught him the next morning. They caught him too late. A service station attendant was dead, cut up beyond belief by an implement that was never found.
They showed the killer on TV that night, and he looked nothing like the stuff of nightmares: thin, awkward, squinting, dwarfed between two massive, smug policemen. Yet for all his apparent weakness and shyness, he seemed to know something, he seemed to be holding a secret, not so much about murder itself as about the cameras, the viewers, about exactly what he meant to us. He averted his eyes from the lenses, but the hint of a smile on his lips declared that everything was, and always would be, just the way he wanted it, just the way he''d planned it from the start.