Broken Candle: Part 3

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Chapter Two: Splattered Blood   As the weeks passed, I settled into the new quarter at school. Because of Father’s new-found support I didn’t feel so out of place. Although, most of my classmates were at least three years my senior...

Chapter Two: Splattered Blood

 

As the weeks passed, I settled into the new quarter at school. Because of Father’s new-found support I didn’t feel so out of place. Although, most of my classmates were at least three years my senior, I was the one fought over when it came to study groups. To think a twelve-year-old child could be a great cause for so much adoration.

I started my reading of Uncle Martin’s book, but it was the letter he wrote that I always kept in my mind. As I scanned over each word, his cryptic message became more confusing to me.

Mother came into my room that evening, oddly wearing her brown jumpsuit. The clothing she only wore to the lab.

“Hello, Mother,” I said and put my book down. “Don’t tell me…”

“Yes, dear,” she said.

“Not the lab,” I whined. “Again?”

“It’s very important that we go. There’s been some minor mishap.”

“Are you sure?” I asked an uneasy feeling came over me.

“Don’t worry, dear. Just be good to mind Anna and eat all your dinner.” She kissed my forehead and started to make her way towards the door.

The feeling grew stronger with each of her passing steps, until my fear took a voice of its own. “Don’t go.” The two words that escaped my lips made my mother turn in astonishment. Mother didn’t speak, just held her mouth open. “Please, don’t go, Mother. You won’t come back.”

I had no idea why I said those words. It was like I was a messenger of doom who came to deliver an edict from the grim reaper.

“Why did you say that?” She asked and came back towards me.

“I don’t know. I just had a feeling.”

“Oh, Mary,” she said and sat on my bed and held me, “nothing’s going to happen.”

She slowly caressed my dark brown hair between her fingers. Tears came to my eyes, but I became more insistent in my plea.

“Mother, please.”

She whipped away my tears and said, “It’s all right, Mary. We’ll be back before you know we’re missing.”

“I’ll know, Mother. I always know.”

She still paid no attention to my protests. I felt a dark cloud in the air and was determined to create that silver lining to make it sparkle again. Soon after my parents left I ran to the stables to mount my horse, Charlotte’s Rose, a prize pony Father presented me with on my eighth birthday. As I was getting ready to ride off, someone sneaked up behind me.

“Aurora,” I said. “Don’t scare me like that.”

“Sorry, Mary,” she said. “Are you going for a ride? I’ll come with you.”

“No,” I said quickly, maybe too quickly. “I’m on a secret mission.”

“Sounds exciting,” she said and jumped up and down. “Can I come?”

“Not this time,” I said. “Can you stay behind and cover for me?”

“Sure, Mary,” she said, looking disappointed. “Let me know how it turns out.”

I didn’t say anything after that. I just smiled at Aurora’s innocent fascination. I rode off on my horse. I picked up speed quickly, but the faster I went, the more anxious I became. Dread enveloped me, a feeling I couldn’t shake. I just hoped my intuition was wrong this time.

I reached Faigon Labs in less than an hour, but as I came near the building, my parents occupied. The closer I came, the more my apprehension grew. Fear overwhelmed me, but I ignored it. My parents’ safety was more important than the fear I felt.

I swung around to the back and entered through the trap door. The cell was dark, but that was not the thing that frightened me. What lied above was what worried me more. I climbed into the air shaft and crawled down the tunnels until I reached the basement utility room, like always it was unlocked.

I walked down the long hallways until I reached the stairwell. It had always frightened me, because of the tales of ghosts who supposedly haunted the grounds. I guess I never believed those stories, but climbing the stairwell made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up.

I stopped at the first floor and put my fingers around the doorknob. It was ice cold to the touch and froze my hand with its grip. I stayed there unmoving for the longest time. I could not recollect in minutes or hours if it were applicable. All I do know is that my body slowly warmed with courage and forced me out of the door.

At first I took slow baby steps. The first floor seemed like a ghost town. All that was missing was the blowing dust ball that rolled across the dirt ground in those cheesy Spaghetti Westerns.

My pace grew more forceful and quicker as I was deafened by the echo of my own steps. Fear still irked me, but I did my best to ignore it. I felt the need to move on. It wasn’t until I reached the north corridor that I heard father’s shouting voice.

“Ev, what were you thinking? These two components contrast our purpose.”

“Our purpose you say. What makes you think your purpose is our purpose? Don’t you see the power we have in our hands? The world could be at our feet just to get a taste.”

“We can’t do that, Everett. Do you hear me? My intention is not to hurt people.”

“Who said anything about hurting people? This serum can put an end to cancer, diabetes, and even birth defects. Should I continue the list?”

“Everett, don’t you understand that what you have done could have greater repercussions. Everett, think. We are dealing with the mind, and the addictive effects of this drug over prolonged use could deteriorate the

brain. It could split into different fragments and cause…”

“Death? Is that what you’re trying to say? What’s a few deaths in the name of science?”

“How can you say that? One death is too many. I’m all for science but not when it comes to threatening innocent lives. I’m telling you now. I refuse to take this to the review board.”

“Review board? I care nothing for them or your high and mighty ethics. You won’t stop me, Roland. None of you will.”

I heard a crash from inside. I ran for fear of discovery. I didn’t consciously pay attention to where I was going. I tried every door, but I couldn’t find one

that was open. When I came into Father’s private office, I discovered yet again that the door was also locked. Even with this knowledge I desperately tugged on the door. Oddly, the lock seemed to melt away, and I was able to push the door open. In father’s private sanctuary, I felt safe, but I felt guilty for my cowardice in running. Horrifying thoughts ran through my head. The thought that Everett Brown may have hurt my father. Roland Faigon could have been dead for all I knew. What if I stayed? Would I have been next?

My thoughts turned towards Mother. Where was she when all this trouble was going on? My answer came as the sounds from outside came to my ears. For fear of being discovered I hid behind Father’s desk.

“Everett,” I heard Mother say. “What do you mean Roland left?”

“Josie, he just went nuts when I told him about the breakthrough. The last I saw him he stormed out of the building and into the woods.”

“You’re telling me that you saw all of this from laboratory six? I don’t buy it, Everett.”

“Josie, why would I lie? You know Roland is just acting like this because of jealousy.” I saw him touch her shoulders as if massaging the tension from her bones.

“Everett, stop,” she said and turned towards him. “I’ve told you. I love Roland. What happened between us was a mistake.”

“And what about the baby, Josie?” Everett asked.

“It’s Roland’s. You know that as well as I do. I know that you’ve been drugging me. Why else would I let you fuck me?”

Everett slapped her across the face. “Don’t you ever talk to me that way again,” he shouted. “You are mine, and the child is mine.”

“What about Mary?” She cried. “You’re not going to hurt my daughter. I won’t let you.”

“Mary? Is that all you think about?” He slammed her against the wall. Blood dripped from my mother’s mouth as he came walking towards her until he was standing over her.

“What are you going to do?”

“That’s up to you. Now, either you come with me or your little brat will become as dead as your idiot husband.”

“No,” she cried. “Roland is not dead. You said he took off.”

“Maybe he did, maybe not.”

“Roland,” Mother screamed and tried to crawl towards the door, but Everett Brown blocked her way. She rose to her feet and attempted to fight her way to freedom.

“Stop resisting me, Josie.”

“Let me go,” She clawed at his face and shouted, “I’d rather die than to let you touch me again.”

“Have it your way,” he said and backed her up against the door. He had kissed her savagely before she kicked him in the groin.

Her nervous hands tried opening the door, but Everett had activated the fuse-lock, making the iron portal impossible to open.

 ***********************

“Sorry, Josie, this is where we part.”

Everett reached into his pocket and revealed a vial of clear liquid with a needle at its helm. He had injected it into her arm before she had any chance to protest.

“What did you do?” She asked as she slipped down to the floor.

He knelt down next to her. “Don’t worry, Josie. You won’t feel any pain. I can be merciful.”

“You bastard, you’ll pay for this. Roland will make you pay.”

“Roland’s dead, so soon you will be, too.” Stroking her face, he said, “A pity, such beauty wasted.”

“Go to hell,” she said. She spit in his face.

Everett Brown exited my father’s office, leaving my mother to die. I emerged from my hiding place just as her eyes closed.

“Mother,” I called to her, but she did not answer. With tears in my eyes, I quickly crawled on hands and knees to the place in which she laid. “Mother,” I cried out. “Don’t go, please. Open your eyes. Mother, please.”

Weakly, she did so. She possessed the eyes of a frightened animal as she looked upon me. “Mary,” she said in a whispered gasp. “Keep your voice down.”

“Please, promise me you won’t die.”

“Honey, look at me.” I did so, seeing the beads of perspiration glowing on her skin. “I can’t keep that promise. You must be brave.”

“No, I can’t.”

“You must go, now,” she insisted even through her weakened state. “You must take care of your father. He’s not strong like you and me. Please, do this for me.

“I can’t let you go.”

“I will always be with you. Look into my eyes.

Mary, promise me.”

“I promise.”

An electric fire seemed to possess both of our bodies as my dark brown eyes reflected into hers.

“I love you, Mother,” I said.

In an instant, the life that once was Josephine Marx was finished. Mother was dead. I cried out in agony. I didn’t care if Everett Brown heard me or not. I stayed cradling my mother’s dead body until I could do nothing but scream out at her in pain.

“Why didn’t you listen to me? You never listen.” In releasing the pain, I released her vessel. This body no longer contained Josephine Marx. A rage formed inside of me, and it was aimed at the man who caused this.

I went silent, hearing footsteps outside. I knew instinctively that they belonged to Everett Brown. The clip clap followed by a dragged swishing sound could have only come from my mother’s killer. Panic struck me, and then suddenly I heard a familiar voice in my head.

“The air shaft,” I heard a voice in my head, but the voice was familiar, but it wasn’t my own. “Hurry.”

“Mother?”

“Go,” the voice inside my head told me. “There’s no time to lose.”

I listened to the kind angel-like voice, wondering if it really belonged to my mother. I went into the air shaft and down towards my father’s main lab.

I heard Everett’s echoed voice like he was using a bullhorn. “Faigon! Where are you?” There was a moment of silence that was followed by Doctor Brown’s thundering voice. “I guess it doesn’t matter. You can’t escape anyway. This place is going to be nothing but a pile of rubble in a matter of minutes. Thirty minutes,

R.J., until you die. I guess I’ll be leaving, now.”

My heart sank into the bottom of my feet because Father and I were still trapped in here. I knew a way out through the basement, but I didn’t know if I had enough time to find my father.

I crawled out of the air shaft and into the main laboratory. I ran as fast as I could out into the hallway. Father was nowhere in sight. I made my way to the

Basement, where I finally spotted him. I was staggering aimlessly. I looked over and called to him.

“Father,” I shouted.

“Mary, what are you doing here?” He asked, regaining his footing.

It was like seeing me made his strength return.

“Father, we must leave. Doctor Brown planted a bomb somewhere.”

“A bomb?” He said. “Dear God, he is mad.” I Looked away for a moment, but felt that his glance returned to me. “Where is your mother?” He asked.

My heart sank to the floor. With tear-stained face I remarked, “She’s dead. Brown killed her.”

“No,” he cried. A frighting feeling blanketed by hatred consumed him, as his heaving breath became more audible. “Why is this happening?” He shouted.

“Father, please, we must escape,” I pleaded. “This way.”

“No, Mary. You get out through the crawl space. I’ll get Brown.”

“He’s gone, Father. Please, come with me.”

My pleas were futile, and time was growing short. I had no choice but to listen to my father even though my instincts told me only his demise could come out of this. I made my way through the lower levels until I found the sub-basement.

Father made himself the sacrificial lamb for reasons I did not understand. I thought maybe for a moment that I was dreaming, and all this wasn’t really happening. I thought if I closed my eyes when I awakened Mother would be standing over me smiling. It would be like Dorothy leaving Oz and returning to those she loved most.

Mother was dead. No one and nothing could change that. Father wasn’t the one to blame. It was me. It was all me. That is what I told myself. I was the one who let Doctor Brown kill her. I was the one who laid not a finger to help her.

I heard a contradictory voice in my head and adamantly tried to hush it. “You’re a coward,” I said. “It was my fault.” The words echoed in my mind as I slipped through the cellar doors.

The sky was barren, and the trees of the nearby wood possessed a hint of gray. I looked around in hopes of finding Father, but he was nowhere near.

Father called out as I heard footsteps echoing from the distance. I looked to see a man running towards the woods. The eyes of Doctor Everett Brown stared straight into me. He quickly ran off into the wooded lowlands.

I turned back towards the building; terrified of my father still being trapped inside closing the hatchet to the trap door was the last thing I remembered.

All I could recall is that I woke up. Pain pulsated through my body as sirens blared. I can’t remember seeing anything; darkness and cold consumed my body.

I wasn’t sure where I was because I couldn’t see. I didn’t know if my eyes were opened or closed, or if I had just gone blind. I couldn’t move either which was another mystery. Was I trapped or just paralyzed? If it was the latter, I prayed the saints would take me as I was.

I couldn’t think of anything except how trapped I was. My body had gone numb, and my senses were dwindling, until I felt a slight twinge, as if I was buried in a shallow grave, and something or someone had been walking on it. My confirmation came when I heard voices.

“I think we got something here.”

“What is it? A body?”

I felt the woman touch my wrist and drop it back down. “She has a pulse,” I heard her say. “It’s weak, but it’s there.”

“Hey, let’s get a stretcher over here,” I heard a man say. I felt the man touch my forehead. “How do things like this happen? We got one child dead and one…”

“Don’t say it, Norm. This one’s a fighter. She’ll make it.”

More jumbled voices crowded my brain. I was so weak I couldn’t move. I feared if I tried the pain I already felt would worsen. I felt my body being hoisted onto a stretcher.

“Careful,” I heard someone say.

Uncontrollable convulsions came over me as I was being moved. The jerking continued for several minutes. Then my arm went numb, followed by the rest of my body until darkness consumed my consciousness.

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