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The Torso (part two)

Short story By: Daniel Mullaney
Horror


Continued...


Submitted:Aug 3, 2012    Reads: 122    Comments: 0    Likes: 0   


Torso (part two)

Anna always found it strange that the sun could shine so bright, and yet ice still clung to the window seal. The light was unforgiving, her room in the optimum position for its unfaltering rays this time of the morning. Tired and frustrated she lifted and dropped her head into her feather-filled pillow. Sitting up on the edge of her bed, the chill of the poorly insulated house forced her up, and dressed within seconds. Standing in front of the mirror on her wardrobe door, she wiped the sleep from her eyes, the yellow gunk that had tried its best to keep her eyes shut for just a few more moments of sleep.

As she rubbed, focus returned, and she noticed her exhausted face. On her cheek, just below her eye was a mark, three marks to be precise. Scratches. It was the spot where she felt the blow last night, and suddenly the whole ordeal came back to her. The scratches were parallel, as if made by a hand, but that couldn't be. It was strange to have felt a blow during the commotion, she had thought at the time, Raab wasn't near her face and yet still she felt something. Now as she analysed the cuts it was clear that something had in fact hit her, and whatever it was, was not physically possible.

Though not one for wearing makeup, she could have tried to cover it up. A little concealer to soften the red, cover the yellowish bruise around the incisions, but she had decided not to. She was going to confront Raab with it and hope for an explanation. At the very least, some kind of reaction.

She was not so fortunate. Like Dreyfus so often was, he was a different person at the dining table. The marks on her face went unnoticed, or at least that was what he wanted her to think. Raab was fed and not a word was said, the tension a weight, a burden only for Anna it seemed. It wasn't until he was full and the kitchen was immaculate again before she spoke;

'What happened last night Dreyfus?' She asked.

Raab offered a blank stare.

'What do you mean dear? And Mr Raab, if you don't mind.'

This was their relationship, constantly being reset. Formalities being dropped and reignited at his whim.

'You know what happened, you were awake. You spoke to me… You struck me!'

Anna showed him her right cheek.

'How did you manage that?'

'I was going to ask you the same question.'

'If you're going to point the finger, please notice that I have none to point, or scratch for that matter!' Raab explained, his voice growing louder as his patience grew shorter.

'I know how ridiculous it seems Mr Raab, but here it is, on my face. As clear as day.'

She turned her head to show him once more to accentuate her point.

'Perhaps you did it in your sleep, it's worrying what one can do in ones slumber.'

Anna knew that he was lying, and the last comment seemed to insinuate that he was sleepwalking last night, an excuse already prepared in the subtext. Anna stood up.

'I don't believe you Mr Raab, something is happening. Something is happening to you and I want to know what is going on!' She exclaimed.

'Watch your tone girl! I will not be spoken to like this. I tell you that I don't know, and you call me a liar. How dare you!'

The pair fumed, each silent apart from their heated breaths. Anna was the first to calm.

'You told me that you could see you arms.' She said softly.

This seemed to stall him, stunting his pant. His eyes darted as he tried to recall making the comment. He bit the tube and shot forward, ramming his chair into Anna's shins. She yelped, a tear coming to her eye as she tried to back off and rub her legs simultaneously. She tried to move and yet she was somehow held, her arm fixed by an invisible grip, a tension around her wrist.

'Is that what you thought I said?' He hissed. His eyes slits, his brow furrowed.

Anna's wrist begun to sting, and as she pulled it became tighter, firmer. A tear found its way down her cheek, across the scratches.

'I have had enough of your attitude young lady, you have become disobedient, rude. I am not going to tolerate it.'

His threats were no longer masked. They couldn't have been any clearer, and as the pain shot up her arm she felt unprecedented terror.

'What are you doing? Stop! Your hurting me!' She whimpered.

Any other person would have sympathised with Anna when she cried, the child in her coming to the surface as her face puffed up and her eyes reddened. Raab didn't care, it seemed to fuel him, her wrist becoming more and more painful, his face folding new, vicious creases.

'Don't you talk to me like that you little bi…' Raab shouted, the last word louder than the rest was cut short as his dentures slipped away from his gums and onto the kitchen floor.

It was at this moment that the spectral grip on her arm lessened enough for her to break free. She pulled her wrist to her chest and backed up in one action, her other hand rubbing the part of her arm that ached. Flustered and in shock she stood against the kitchen worktop and watched Raab, slobbering as he flicked his head, searching for his dentures, his pride still apparent when it came to his pearly whites.

Raab stopped as he noticed a splash of red on the tiles, a drop of blood from his nose. He raised his head to show Anna a line of scarlet that poured from his nostril and collected between his lips. It clogged his mouth as he opened it. He raised his eyebrows and assumed a pitiful mope.

'Could you please find my teeth for me dear?' He mumbled, barely comprehensible. Blood spraying as he pronounced the F's and P's.

'Fuck no!' She shouted as she turned away and head into the hall, still rubbing her wrist.

Dreyfus tried to shout after her, bloodied spittle spurting from his toothless mouth as he did. She didn't give him a chance, she ran straight upstairs to her room, intending to pack her bags and leaving Dreyfus Raab to rot.

Anna held up her aching wrist and examined it in the wardrobe mirror. She bruised like a peach, but this was unlike any bruise she'd ever had before. It was like a purple wristband; her skin dry and coarse. There was a definite shape to it, a clear imprint of fingers, meeting up at a palm. Before questioning the sheer impossibility of it all, vanity came first. Anna was worried about the permanence of the mark, whether it would heal, and if so, how long would it take?

Safe on the third floor, she held her charred wrist and sat tautly on her bed. Collecting herself the best she could she had begun to think of her situation, and the quickest way out of it. Bags packed, she planned her dash for the front door, hoping to leave without bumping into the monster downstairs. She grabbed her phone from the bedside cabinet and dialled Edmond.

'Hello?'

'Ed!' She blurted.

'Anna, is that you?'

'Yes, it's me. I need your help. I need you to come to Mr Raab's!'

As she heard Ed's voice she couldn't help but well up, her voice quivering and the occasional sniff made it obvious on the other end of the phone.

'What's wrong? Are you crying?'

'No' She lied, 'I just need you to come here, you need to do something about Dreyfus.'

'Whose Dreyfus?' He asked?

'Dreyfus!' She paused. 'Mr Raab! Dreyfus Raab!' She squawked.

'I don't understand Anna, what the hell has happened?'

'Look Ed, you wouldn't believe me, I don't even believe it, but you have to come!' She sniffed. 'And come now!'

She hung up, hoping that at the very least, the mystery of the phone call was enough to lure him there.

Dropping her bags at the top of the stairs, she heard the whirr of Raab's wheels downstairs. Even the hum of his chair paralysed her with fear, and she froze to listen more intently, breathing as shallowly as she could. There was a bump, the sound of Dreyfus hitting the bottom step of the bottom flight of stairs, he called out.

'Anna, darling.' His voice was muffled. 'Anna, please show yourself. I want to apologise. I want to tell you everything.'

He sounded genuinely upset, but he had manipulated her with sob stories before, and she was damned if she was going to fall for it.

'Anna, I beg of you. Please.'

'I'm going. Just get out of my way when I do!' She shouted.

Taking in a deep breath, and puffing out her chest, she picked up the bags and head down to the ground floor stairwell. Marching each step until she saw Mr Raab, sat at the bottom, doughy eyed and bottom lip unsteady. She halted at the first floor landing her confidence wavering at the very sight of him.

'Just let me speak girl, just hear me out, then I'll be out of your way. I promise.'

Despite everything that has happened between them, the up and downs of it all that spun her head so, he still had a certain charm about him. Hearing him out seemed like a reasonable request, if it would get her out of this place, get her out of Mr Dreyfus Raab's tomb.

She sat on the top step, her bags either side of her, and tipped her head slightly, allowing him to speak. Mr Raab smiled.

'How's your wrist?'

Anna ignored the question and stared wide eyed, urging him to spit it out.

'Well I'm sorry. I didn't mean for it to happen, you have to believe me.'

'You didn't mean for what to happen?' Asked Anna, backing him into a corner.

Raab paused for thought.

'What happened to your wrist, I didn't mean to hurt you.'

'What about the scratches on my face?'

'I'm sorry for all of it!'

'I don't care about apologies Dreyfus, I want to know what happened? How the fuck did you do it?'

It wasn't like Anna to swear. Even now Raab didn't approve of it, and every inch of him wanted to discipline her, but he resisted. He wheezed a deep breath, as if ready to take on a challenge.

'Well, I don't rightly know. If you're hoping for some big reveal, like I'm a magician, or I've made a pact with the devil or something, then you're going to be incredibly disappointed my dear.'

'Do not call me dear! And you better tell me something!' She snapped.

He frowned, before accepting defeat.

'I don't know exactly when it started, its uncontrollable, instinctual. For years I was in pain, not quite like the pain that the Satere-Mawe had enlightened me too, but intense pain none the less. My invisible limbs would ache, and burn, and itch. That was the worst, the itching. A constant nag that I could never scratch, it would drive me insane. Phantom limbs, that's the term the scientists use, but this was more, much, much more. I could feel them, feel my elbows bend, my toes curl. Sometimes I could even see them.'

'See them, how?' She interrupted.

'It's hard to explain. Sparks, thousands of little sparks, flitting and darting like impulses. I imagined they were where the nerves once were, the electric blue orbs would trace lines and fluctuate as I tried to move my hollow limbs. These visions were only now and then you understand. I cant see it now, that is, if I ever saw it at all?'

Anna was intrigued once more, and hated herself for it. It would distract her rage, distract her anger towards Mr Raab.

The story was ludicrous, at least that's what she'd think if she hadn't experienced the phenomena first hand. How could she deny what had happened; Anna, young, naive and accustomed to only a slither of life, of normality, Raab had travelled the world and in a world so immense there was an abyss of mystery and she would be foolish to assume that she knew better.

The claustrophobia and isolation she felt in this narrow building could be shared with just one man, the man she feared above anything else was the only person who seemed to know of her existence right now. And this desperation seemed to magnify her belief, it seemed that anything was possible within these cursed walls, and if Raab believed it true then who was she to question the only other person in their tiny world.

Academic now, this sudden insight into the paranormal. Anna was determined to escape, leaving this nightmare behind her and questioning the details later. She lifted her bags to Raab's disappointment, and then head down the stairs.

'Are you still leaving?' He whimpered.

'Please, move aside Mr Raab.' She demanded.

Heartbroken he obliged, inching his chair away from the step. She slowed as she got closer to him, edging by as though he were a coiled snake.

'But what will happen to me?' He whispered, his eyes wet.

It was against every moral she stood for and took all of her will to say 'I don't care!' As she took one last step towards the front door. As she unbolted the door and turned the knob she noticed Dreyfus's wounded face, traced with more weathered lines than ever before as he soured his face ready to cry. Just a few feet away from him she could spot a single drop of blood, as it fell from his nostril. Intrigued she halted for a moment, a moment being all that he needed. The coiled snake pounced, his limbless torso flying out of the chair and through the air towards Anna. She noticed the yellow of his eyes and teeth as they approached and before she could wince a flash of light turned off her brain, an unexpected thump against her head followed by blackness and then a numbed tumble to the ground.

The signs of consciousness begun; first the sounds, echoes as if she were in a tunnel. Indistinguishable at first but they soon clarified. Moaning and gurgling, disturbing sounds that caused Anna to shake of the blackness and acknowledge the light. Slowly the blur of the unknown ceiling came into focus and then she could turn her head. She didn't recognise the room, but she did recognise the smell. It was the must that crept out of Raab's private room each time he slithered out of the door. To her left she noticed the opened door and facing her was someone else, laying down. A head almost cut short by the door frame. She recognised the face, it was Edmond chivalrously coming to her aid no doubt, but why was he on the ground? She wondered.

The disturbing sounds were coming from him, his tongue tumescent and spittle spraying from his open mouth. She spotted his neck, smaller than usual, and shrivelling by the second. It blackened and cracked until finally he expired, his bulging eyes fixed on Anna, still crying out for help in the afterlife. Help that she immediately felt guilty for not offering, she didn't know what to do and whether her body would even let her get over to him.

She tried to move, starting with her arm, propping herself up successfully. As she lifted her head to convince herself that Edmond really was dead in the doorway she noticed another head show itself from behind the frame.

'Still got it!' Said Mr Raab as he peeked round to show Anna just how proud he was.

Suddenly she was back in her nightmare, Dreyfus's face making it definitive. He disappeared again and she took this opportunity to try and stand. Wavering as she got to her knees. Stumbling as she got to her feet. It was then that she examined the room that was nothing like the rest of the house. The room was empty. The walls dirty and unpainted, the floor naked and unvarnished. Except for a small circular rug, centred with geometric proficiency. The maroon pattern worn by overuse and the edges, tufts of fibre. Along the walls were marks, fist shaped holes, cracks and other impact marks. It seemed that Raab had been honing himself, using this room as a type of extrasensory dojo.

Taking in all that she could she stumbled towards the hallway and to Edmond's corpse. She heard the commotion of Dreyfus returning to his seat and before she stood over the body, Raab was secure in his chair as if he'd never been parted from it.

'What did you do?' She asked through her hand as it covered her mouth.

'This is what you wanted, wasn't it?' He said.

'What are you talking about?'

'You invited him here, you brought him into our home.'

'Your home! Not mine!' She snapped.

'You aren't going anywhere.' He smiled. 'Surely you know that by now?'

The threat was clear, the words were ice water down her spine. The look on his face was that of certainty. He smiled as the weight of pretence lifted from him, and he took on the role of someone with nothing left to lose. Someone with nothing left to lose could do anything, and they both knew this. This is why he smiled so hard and Anna, felt the chill of utter despair.

The lunch was made, and Raab sat, awaiting service. For all intents and purposes the duo had travelled back in time, Anna the server and Dreyfus the served once again. It was a façade same as it ever was. Anna did her job for a whole new reason, survival. Raab played along for as long as was possible, deep down knowing that this arrangement wouldn't last. Someone would miss Edmond, he had a family, and when you kill a man it gets noticed, even when it happens in a place so private and withdrawn as this. The house that seemed to exist separately from anything else that Anna had ever known and now desperately longed for.

The devoted nurse was also biding her time. The pair locked in a Mexican stand off, that both were aware of and neither questioned. Both playing out the rest of the day in their minds; Anna's thoughts of escape and Dreyfus's reignited bloodlust.

She sat across from him and forced the bread into her mouth, masticating for what seemed minutes before she could swallow. Anna watched Ed's corpse in the hall, hoping he might rise from the dead and save her. Raab watched her eat, and she soon realised that he was waiting for her, his food congealing by the second.

'What are you waiting for?' She asked.

Raab starred blankly at her.

'I'm waiting for you to do your job, girl.'

'Can't you do it yourself?' She nodded to his stumped shoulder.

'What!' He exclaimed. 'What the hell are you talking about?'

His face was red, his false teeth gritted and the breakfast table jolted as his voice raised.

'Look, I'm sorry, I just thought that you could do it yourself?' Explained Anna, like a belligerent teen that had been caught red handed.

Immediately, she moved round the table and lifted the fork by his plate. As she sat closer she felt the urge to recoil. Fearing his invisible astral limbs, and the fact that they could do anything and she wouldn't see it coming. After a few mouthfuls, Raab seemed to deflate, his anger subsiding. Suddenly his smile returned, the same smile he used to charm her when they first met. Each time he smiled like that it was like he had forgotten everything that had befallen them before, like his smile could reset all of the suffering and horror that he had inflicted. He turned to Anna, she flinched.

'This is nice.' He said. 'like old times, no?'

She didn't make eye contact, and refused to speak.

'Well child, I could feed myself if I had too. But at great effort you understand.' Raab confessed as he so often did, he enjoyed to unload, this was clear to Anna now. 'The way my… Condition works, is unpredictable. Its like pure force, not designed for such intricacies.'

Anna still resisted acknowledgment, she knew that he thrived on attention and was determined not to offer anymore than needed. She just held a fork-load of egg by his mouth, waiting for him to take it.

'Why aren't you talking dear? You used to love my stories.'

Still oblivious she nudged the fork towards his mouth until finally he opened. His eyes still locked on hers, Anna's wet eyes darting around the room and everywhere else to avoid meeting his.

The pair now silent again finished the dish, and as the last of the food met the rest in his stomach, Anna tried to back off, having done her job. She felt a tug around her waist that tightened the more she struggled. She could feel fingers and a thumb dig into her side, and as the realisation struck she turned like a hawk to notice Raab's leer. Her eyes were wide with trepidation that seemed all to common of late, though the sensation would never dull.

'What are you doing?' She asked, her words frail.

'Well child, I was thinking that it's time for my bath.' The hand tightened, causing some pain.

'Please… Let go. You're hurting me.'

Dreyfus grimaced for a moment, before loosening his grip. Anna moved away and wiped a single tear from her eye, careful not to show her patient her weakness, fearing he'd thrive on it. She aligned herself and then head out of the room. She halted as she reached Edmond's body. Distracted by their charade, she had forgotten about her colleague festering in the hallway.

'Where are you going? The front doors locked.'

He skidded to meet her by the corpse.

'I was going to run your bath.' She explained, not taking her eyes away from Ed.

'Good, good. Get that tub filled.' His excitement was clear. 'While it's filling, you can be a dear and get rid of that.' He gestured towards the body.

'What?' She snapped.

'Pick up his arms, drag him to the basement.'

'I cant.'

'Of course you can, and don't let anyone tell you any different.'

His words were meant to be encouraging, but Anna heard the threat, so casual now that Raab didn't even have to try, every word was saturated with it.

The tap was on and the bath begun to fill. Anna had left it to run and then met up with the dead man. Raab huffed with impatience as she hesitated to touch Edmond. Eventually she slid her hands under his armpits. As she lifted him, memories made themselves known; the relationship she had had with the recently expired cadaver. They had never been intimate, but she had desired it from time to time, the pair having drinks and joviality after work, the potential fling was always there but Edmonds devotion to his family was just enough to resist temptation. Despite her low cut tops and obvious flirting.

These thoughts were not helping. She shook her head as if to send the memories out of her ears, like they were tangible strands, free to untwine. The weight was unexpected, the movies always made this look easy. Raab had to direct her to the basement because she had never noticed it; it was past the kitchen, a smaller door in the tiny laundry room. She opened the door, Raab constantly at her heels. A segment of stairs were in view thanks to the laundry room light, but at the bottom was total darkness. It could have led straight to hell for all Anna knew. The smell coming from the basement could have suggested that a few bodies were already mouldering down there.

Urged by Dreyfus she held a lungful of air and heaved the body up to her chest, struggling to keep Ed upright she dropped him towards the black. His body fell forward, the flaccidity was a trait that only a corpse possessed. The tumble was disturbing for Anna to behold, her friend slapping and cracking, his limbs contorting and conforming to the wood of the stairs, until eventually he disappeared into the hole. Away from Anna, Raab and anyone else who might come looking for him.

'That wasn't so hard now was it?' Said the devil to her right.

He wheeled over to the doorway as Anna backed away, revelling in the simplicity of it all. He stared into oblivion and smirked. It was now that murderous intent engulfed Anna's heart. The monster so close to the door, surely a nudge is all it would take.

The top of his head was all that she could see over the chair, the liver-spotted dome, curtained by greasy grey hair. The image would have evoked sympathy in Anna once upon a time, now she wished for nothing more than Raab's skull in pieces on the floor. She unstuck her feet and crept towards her nightmare, each step a trial and lasting for what seemed a lifetime. Just inches away and something occurred to her; Why was he sitting there? He was obviously vulnerable, and it had been for a while now. Her fingers were close enough to feel the hum of the metal chair when she heard his voice;

'Anna?' He said, his voice calm and getting higher as he finished the word.

Immediately she withdrew her arms, and Raab turned his head to show Anna a smile of omniscience. He knew what he was doing, and he had tested her loyalty.

'What are you doing Anna?' He asked rhetorically.

'What do you mean?'

'It seems as though you want to do something?'

'I don't want to do anything.' She insisted.

He turned his chair, the basement door slamming behind him, as if it were of its own volition.

'You wouldn't lie to me Anna? You wouldn't do that, surely?'

'No, I wouldn't!' She lied convincingly.

They shared a moment of unbearable tension, only Raab's elderly wheeze could be heard, mimicking Anna's untameable heartbeat.

'Bath time!' Yelled Raab.

Anna jumped with the outburst and her patient was already away, rolling towards the bathroom. She followed hesitantly, strangely she ran on autopilot. If she'd stop to take in everything that had happened she was convinced that she would collapse. Her heart failing instantly.

Standing outside the bathroom, she noticed the puddle by her feet. The bath had spilled over. Disposing of the corpse had taken longer than expected and Raab sat inside the room with his head comically tilted to one side.

'What am I going to do with you?' He jested.

'I'm sorry, let me get a mop.'

Before she could run away, he stopped her.

'No, no, don't worry about it. Lets not waste this bath. I have been looking forward to it all day. As I'm sure you have?'

Though confused Anna nodded and smiled as best she could, hoping to lull him into submission, all the while holding back a teasing bile. Raab's harness unbuckled itself and his nurse was given the nod to lift him. She did so, reluctantly, then lowered him into the water. The water level was a lot higher than the pair were used too, so she sat him against the far end, his head barely breaking the surface.

If she thought this process was unbearable before, this time it was nightmarish. Raab basked in her touch, revelled in her obedience and Anna had to endure it. She made herself distant, numb, and Raab noticed her thousand yard stare.

'What's wrong my dear?' He asked.

Anna said nothing, she concentrated only on her strokes, hoping that each caress was clinical and indisputably professional.

'Were you not looking forward to this?'

The absurdity of the question snapped Anna back to reality.

'Why would I look forward to this!?' She asked.

'Ah come on now, you know what we have. What we have had.'

'What are you talking about?'

'Our intimacies… Play it coy if you so wish my child, but we know each other biblically. And I've longed to know you once more.'

Of everything that she had experienced in this house; the paranormal, the murder, this was the most befuddling. He repulsed her, both aesthetically and morally, and yet this delusion seemed all to real for Dreyfus. Though there was something at the back of her mind, a small voice that seemed to believe him.

'Tell me what you mean, now!' She demanded.

'Don't speak to me like that, child.' He paused and collected himself. 'I visited you one night. You must remember, if your mind doesn't, your body certainly does.'

Suddenly she felt like vomiting. She couldn't remember, but she knew he was telling the truth. He raped her.

'You seemed to enjoy it so, you writhed and I writhed. We writhed together.'

'Oh my god!' Anna whispered.

She remembered the night; the sleep that took her by surprise. She remembered the morning; waking up disrobed and not knowing how. Expecting to throw up she surprised herself. Anna didn't feel disgust anymore, she didn't feel violated or repulsed, she had no room for it. She only felt hate. Pure, unadulterated hate. The kind of hate considered madness, that would trump everything else and drive the hand to murder. Even people like Anna.

'You remember.' Stated Raab.

'Yes I remember. How could I forget?'

'Well, I may be ancient, but you don't get to my age without picking up a few things along the way.'

'Obviously not.'

Anna smiled, her confidence returning. She decided to act out her role in Raab's delusion. A means to an end.

'I feel like I can tell you anything Anna. I've had nurses before. Lovers. But none of them can hold a candle to you.'

She was reminded of the tale he had told her, the story of how he became an amputee. And hearing now of his supposed conquests, the women, most likely victims like herself, she wanted to make one thing clear.

'Dreyfus… Can I ask you something?' She asked.

'For you dear, anything. Fire away.'

Raab seemed to swoon at Anna's compliance.

'That story, about you and Lenard, about… What happened to you. What really happened, I want to know everything about you.'

'I already told you, I don't understand what it is that you want to know.'

'About Lenard. Raping that tribeswoman. Is that what really happened?'

Raab frowned, his brow lifting slowly as he felt the opportunity to unload once more.

'You know me so well dear. You are a sharp one. The truth is, Lenard did nothing wrong. They removed his head as an act of mercy. Surely you realised this? I was to be made an example of, because it was in fact I that had made love to her. Truthfully I longed to have my lights switched of by that blade, an hour of pain was enough to convince me.'

This revelation made no difference to Anna. He had done enough to warrant death without this knowledge. Anna leant in close and whispered into his ear.

'Did you make love to her… Or did you rape her?'

The accusation sent Raab into a frenzy. Water splashed where his limbs once were.

'How dare you! I loved her. She loved me!' He screamed.

'That's rubbish, no one has ever loved you! You force yourself onto them, a man so arrogant that you consider it a gift. If you would consider someone else's feelings for moment, you might notice the look of utter repulsion when you are near them! Your disgusting, grease paper skin, your hideous, liver spotted face!'

Raab's torso flushed red, his nostrils bled and his teeth hung half out of his mouth. His fury was unprecedented and the thrashing frightened Anna, even in her careless state.

'I'm going to kill you!' He screeched.

Anna didn't need to think, because she had practiced this scenario in her head since the first time she had bathed him. She reached for his head, slapped her palm onto his scalp and pushed. The tub let Raab slide with ease, and the water level was high enough to ensure his submersion. His invisible limbs flailed like never before. The water level declining as he flung as much water as he could out of the bath. Instinctually Anna jumped on top of him, soaking herself and her nurse's garb. She straddled as best she could, hoping to restrict the phantom limbs wherever they were.

It seemed to work, though she felt blows from all sides, Raab's movement was restricted and as the water begun to settle she could see his face; his yellow eyes were wide, blood clouded from his nose and mouth and his long grey hair fanned out around his head, wriggling like some kind of sea creature. It wasn't until his dentures had finally escaped his mouth that she was sure of his demise. The teeth hovered before floating past her leg, she felt a certain shared victory with them.

Reality had come back, the horror of house had died with its owner and she felt like crying. She found it hard to gather her strength, but she couldn't look at the repugnance that lay under her anymore. She lifted one leg, and hoped that the momentum would flip her onto the tiles. Before she could fall she felt something. Something she had felt before, pain. Her wrist was held in the air, and she watched it blacken. How could it be? He was dead. Even now as she froze with panic she could see his lifeless eyes, his jutting tongue. Before she could scream she felt a hand on her head, it pulled her down and as her wrist was released another hand clasped her face. A charred handprint spoiled her looks and suddenly she felt one last thing.

A pair of lips engulfed hers, a sensation that brought back lost memories Mr Raab's night time intrusion. It was him, alive in death somehow, same as his limbs were. His tongue found its way past her teeth, despite their clench and before she could gag, the hands on her head took complete control. They twisted her now black face until her neck snapped like a scorched tree branch. Switching her off when freedom teased her after so long.

Mr Dreyfus Raab lay under his lover, the bathwater red and the bathroom soaked. They laid like this in death for a several days before life prised them apart. The intervention of life from outside came when it wasn't needed, and it came in search of Edmond. Anna had been forgotten until now. Now she was to be remembered as a murderer. Surely a man with no limbs would always be the victim. Harmless and humbled, how could it be any different.





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