The diary of number 12

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Thrillers  |  House: Booksie Classic

The diary of Arthur and his confession of what he has done to survive.

Submitted: June 14, 2018

A A A | A A A

Submitted: June 14, 2018



My doctor told me that writing down what happened would help me to cope with what I experienced. I don't know if I will ever show this to anyone, or if anyone will find this after I'm dead, I'm just going to do this; hopefully, my therapist is correct.

Back when I was a little kid, my parents died of an illness. We lived in a small village and the only doctor was in the town over. A man who owned a farm a little outside the village went to try and get him, but they were too late. By the time the doctor had come, both of my parents had died in their sleep. The man who went to get the doctor blamed himself for not getting there fast enough, and so he took it upon himself to raise and care for me.

As I grew older, John began teaching me how to be a farmer, so that I one day could take over the farm after his death. I learned how to work with animals, use tools, what crops to grow in which season and how to properly take care of the soil to make a bountiful harvest. When it came to reading, math and other essentials, he sent me into town to attend school. I was never one for book learning; I knew I didn't need it. I had the farm to take care of, and I didn't have the time to become a scholar or teacher or whatever those classes were trying to make me.

Eventually I decided to quit going to school and instead focus on farming. John was disappointed at first, but eventually he began seeing things from my point of view. That’s how I officially became John’s farmhand.

One day we had run out of some necessities, as you do. Sugar, flour, coffee; all that stuff. Since I was the farmhand, it was my job to go into town to buy the supplies. The reason I’m including this in here isn’t because me going shopping is particularly important nor because it is interesting. No, the reason I’m telling you this is because this one trip in particular, is because it'll be important later on. As I was getting ready to pay in the general store, the owner asked if I had heard about "the black hunter". The black hunter? Who the hell is that? I asked what he was talking about and he explained that for the last few weeks the guards and townspeople have noticed a man in black clothing has been running around killing animals in the forest, and whenever someone goes to try and catch him, they either end up dead or severely wounded, one hunter who went with the guards said "he was fast as a wolf and ruthless like a beast". He asked if I had heard since me and John lives out near the forest where the hunter is said to live, but since I had never heard of him the store-keep assumed we would be fine, especially since the hunter never left the forest. I paid and took my goods home, vary about going near the forest.

I went to sleep in the hut old farmer John had given me so that I could have some privacy since I was just a teenager at the time. He said, “A young man your age needs to have something to call his own”. Anyway, when I woke up, I just saw a stone ceiling and immediately tried to get up since I knew that neither my hut nor old farmer John's house had a stone ceiling. When I tried to get up I was extremely dizzy; I felt a numbness running through my body and I almost passed out again. Before I fell onto the ground, I managed to prop myself up against the wall and look around as much as I could through my dazed mind and blurry vision. I saw what would be my "home" for the foreseeable future: A dark, damp cell with iron bars leading out to what I later found out to be a long hallway. After my vision cleared up, I noticed another cell exactly like mine, except there was a woman with white hair sitting in the corner, staring dead ahead into the air. I was still too dizzy to talk, let alone get up to move, so I just tried to look around and figure out where in the world I was and how I got here.

After what felt like hours (but was most likely minutes), the numbness in my body began to fade and I could begin moving again. At first, I tried to lift myself with my arms, but I quickly realized that it would only result in me laying on the ground like a dead fish, so I decided to see if there was anything in reach for me practice moving around with. I found a pillow where my head was resting just a few minutes ago and I reached out to grab it. That's when I saw it; my new identity, branded on the back of my right hand. There was a black and reddish wound shape like the number 12, just like when we branded cattle at old farmer John's. Judging from experience, I would say I was branded at least two days before I woke up, because my wound had been treated with great expertise since it wasn’t infected and it was on its way to healing up to become a long-lasting brand.

I was transfixed on the mark on my hand. My mind just went blank as I struggled to comprehend the mysterious mark, trying to see if I could remember where it had come from and trying to figure out, why it was there.

All of a sudden, a loud sound snapped me back to reality. I moved my head quickly to look out into the hallway, or at least I tried with my doped-out body. I saw long, stretching silhouettes of people in the hallway. Immediately, I started trying to call out in desperation, I thought that 'maybe they could help me to get out of here'. As I was using all the energy I could to call for help, the people eventually made their way to my cell, when I saw them standing looking at me I felt a strong sense of relief; I thought that if I just talked with them I could explain that I weren't supposed to be here and they might have mistaken me for a dangerous criminal or something.

When the silhouettes had made their way to my cell I felt so much relief. “Please help me”, I managed to plead in my dazed state. One of the people banged loudly at the metal bars that made up the front of my cell and yelled “Shut it, you'll speak when spoken to!”. I was so taken aback that I couldn't speak, the words were stuck in my throat.

While the shock was fading away I took a close look at the man who yelled at me, he was a big man with a muscular build. It was hard to make out much of his face due to the armour he was wearing. Now, I'm not that knowledgeable on blacksmithing, but even I could tell that armour must have been expensive. In his hand was a blunt object reminiscent of a small club; he most likely used that to hit the bars.

One of the other people turned to the big man and said “By the gods will you shut it! You almost busted my eardrums you hooligan!”. The man who was yelling was an older, well-dressed man with hair that was clearly becoming greyer. The big man immediately went into a stand like the guards in the city would do when their leader gave them an order.

“I'm truly sorry my lord!” he said, saluting the older man. From what I could gather from this exchange, I figured that the big guy must be one of the guards of this place and the older man must be some nobleman, maybe even the owner of the land this is built on. The older man asked the last person next to him: “What do you think about this one darling?”. The person turned around and revealed the most beautiful woman I had ever seen in my life.

The woman had long, flowing blonde hair that looked as smooth as silk and her skin was like that of porcelain; she had the figure of a goddess carved out of marble and worshipped in churches, but the most amazing of all were her eyes, those amazingly green eyes, like they were cut from emeralds and brought to life with the sun. They were a beautiful shade and lit up her face like two stars light up the evening skies. That woman, who was so beautiful, so incredible in my eyes at the time, would become the being of my nightmares.

The woman looked me over with her piercing gaze and after a while she just shook her head and said “This one is not good enough father, he's too weak”. I didn't understand what she meant by "weak"; I was physically able due to my work and while it's true I'm not a scholar, I was still at least somewhat educated, I was one of the few people in the village who could read the messages sent to us from the courier. Shaking the questions out of my head I realized that they were all paying attention to me and decided that this was my chance to clear out this mistake. Gaining increasingly more control over my body, I managed to call out more clearly this time: “Please, help me”. The woman looked at me confused for a while until she just smiled at me and said something that caused chills to run throughout my body. “You don't know why you are, here do you? You are going to entertain us, the last one broke so we had to get you”.

Broke? What did she mean? Wait, entertain? Entertain how? Why? So many questions were flying through my brain. I had no idea what she was talking about, I just had this horrible feeling in the back of my head that there was something malicious behind her words and something wicked behind her smile.

The older man, who I figured was the woman's father, motioned with his hand and the guard open the door to my cell and began walking towards me. “What are you doing?” I tried to ask, but before I could get the words out he hit me on the head with his club and everything went black.

When I woke up I was strapped to a chair, with a man wearing a cloth mask and an apron. The exact details of the room are, foggy at best, but I remember it being a small room with stone walls and only one door. It was illuminated from above with a type of light I have never seen before, it was so bright that looking directly at it hurt my eyes as if I was looking at the sun. The masked man was standing next to a table filled with all kinds of horrifying tools, just remembering them is making me quiver and shake at the horror those tools have caused.

I was scared, frightened beyond belief. The strange lighting, the man in the mask, the tools, everything was wrong, my mind couldn't comprehend any of this. It hurt, a numb pain rushing throughout my mind, all I could think was "run! Escape!" I was looking all over the place hoping to find salvation.

 That's when I noticed the man was closing in on my hand with a small knife. "What are you doing!?" I screamed while shaking with all my might trying to loosen my bonds. "hold still, you do not want me to miss and hit a major artery now do you?" But I didn't listen, I was too scared, I kept pulling and shaking and rocking the chair, hoping the leather cuffs would give. Eventually the masked man pulled back and called in the guards to subdue me, but, my struggling miraculously worked and my bounds gave out. The guards were visibly shocked, and before they managed to pull out their weapons, I managed to spring unto the masked man and take his knife, and, I stabbed the first guard in the eye and then in my panicked state I began slashing at the other guard wildly, I don't remember it very well, it's all very blurry and I do not want to remember it. I want it dead and gone. I'm sorry, the last thing I remember is sitting atop the masked man and stabbing him in a wild frenzy until the more guards came and restrained me and threw me into a cell.

As my frenzy began to disappear, I realized what I had done, I had taken the life of not one, but three men. I began to shake violently as I looked at my hands, my mind both had a thousand thoughts and none at once, my mind was racing, yet completely blank. I could nothing but shake, and inevitably, I began crying, no, screaming. I screamed with all I had, the horror, the guilt, the memories of their faces as I killed them flashed throughout my mind, I channelled their horror trough my eyes, and I echoed their dying breaths trough my screams.

When I came to, I was chained up to a wall. I didn't recognize the room I was chained up in, and it looked nothing like the cells I had seen earlier. As the memories began flooding my mind I began sobbing to myself quietly, contemplating the unforgivable thing I had done. a guard must have heard my sobbing because between my sobs and moans, I heard footsteps outside the door. After a while the noise disappeared, but soon it came back and then the door opened.

It was the older man with two guards, he looked me over and poked me a few times with his shoe, he was examining me.

"I can see what you're saying, he looks scrawny, but he's lean. He has his reservations, but those will go away with time, for now we'll just have to push him in a corner." The old man turned around and told the guards "prepare him for tonight".

The guards bathed me, fed me, and clothed me in leather pads, after some time in yet another cell a door opened and I was pushed outside.

I was in a big circle in a giant room, filled with cheering people in fine clothing and expensive jewellery, opposite of me in the ring was another person in leather pads. I understood where I was, it was an arena, and they wanted me to kill the other person lest I die instead.

I didn't know what to do, I had no weapons, there were no weapons in the ring. "Do they want us to fight bare handed!?", I didn't have time to gather my nerves after figuring it out, my opponent was already charging towards me like a wild boar. The roaring crowd, the intense lights and the bloodlust in my opponent's eyes, they stopped me in my tracks and made my mind turn black as I stood in my cold sweat. It was fight or flight, and without thinking I acted. I collapsed and curled into a ball to protect myself from any incoming attacks, hoping I wouldn't die.

"By the gods, what are you doing you damn fool! You're making me seem like an idiot! Guards, get a replacement" It sounded like the old man's voice, it most likely was because soon after the guards dragged me out of the arena and pushed another person in. They put me into a room I have been in before, at this point they all began to melt together so I couldn't tell you which.

Immediately the old man came in with a man in the leather apron who began tying me up to a chair. "You, do you have any idea how much you have humiliated me? First you kill my best physician and one of my guards, and then You have made me look like a damn fool in front of my guests! Doctor make it painful, I want him to pay for his insolence" the doctor opened a bag and took out numerous metal tools I have never seen before but could immediately tell were made to make people suffer. "Wait! Please there must be something I can do! I'm sorry, I'll do anything please don't kill me!!" I knew that this time, I couldn't escape. They learned from last time and my bonds were much stronger than before, all I could do was plead for my life and pray to the gods that I would survive. But they ignored me, the doctor took a small tool that consisted of two pieces of metal and a turn-screw, he placed my thumb in the toll and began turning on the screw, soon the pressure began to build up and I felt an indescribable pain. The doctor stopped turning the screw and began reaching for another tool from his bag when I got an idea, "wait! I know where you can find someone strong for your daughter!" This piqued the old man's interest. I remembered what had happened when I first woke up, the woman wanted someone "strong", and I knew one person who would definitely fit that description, the black hunter. The guards in my village weren't weak by any means, since we lived so close to the Badlands we needed strong guards in case of an attack, so to be able to take them out would mean the hunter most be very strong, which made him my only hope.

The old man stopped the doctor and asked me to elaborate, I quickly explained to him where my village was, where the words were and what I knew about the hunter. He seemed sceptical, but he decided to give me a chance and ordered his guards to take me back to my cell.

Never before have I been so happy to be locked in a cold damp stone room, I laid down and quickly fell asleep with a smile on my face, up until that point I had no idea how tired I had gotten.

After that, nothing of note really happened, I would wake up, wander around in my cell, stare out into space, get fed and go to sleep. I began thinking about what had happened during my time here, "I killed them" I couldn't get it out of my head, I had to do it, if I hadn't they would have killed me, I was justified. Eventually I managed to convince myself that what I did was alright, "anyone else would have done the same" but I still felt the guilt weigh down on me, I felt it push down on my chest and grab onto my heart, all I could do was push it in the back of my mind.

One day the guards came too early, I had no idea why but I was beginning to feel hungry so I didn't think about it too much, but when they walked past my cell I found out why they were here, I saw them dragging a man, a new prisoner. Due to the darkness I couldn't tell exactly what he looked like, but I could tell he was muscular and had long black hair and that he was wearing the same rags as I was. After throwing the body in his cell and locking the door the guards left, and after a few hours they came back with the old man and the young woman.

"He's already awake?" I thought quietly to myself, I thought the sleeping drug would last much longer, maybe it just took longer to transport him? But I haven't heard any sounds from his cell since the guards left.

Immediately upon seeing the man in the cell, the young woman gasped "Daddy he's perfect! He's so handsome and he looks really strong, he will be so much fun to play with!" The woman began hugging the old man with a big smile on her face, she was like a kid who just got a brand-new toy, which probably wasn't too far off. The old man hugged his daughter back and said "I'm happy you like him darling, I'll have the guards prepare him so you two can play right after dinner" she then said thank you and happily began walking out of the hallway humming to herself, a little after the old man began walking too, but when he came to my cell he stopped and said "thank you for your assistance, we'll be sure to give you a suiting reward" and then he began walking again. "thank you?" What did I do? I had just been in my cell all this time. "wait!" The black hunter! They captured the black hunter! Immediately after I realized this I heard the gate next to me open as the guards entered it, and after a while, I heard it. What sounded like something tearing and snapping, and then the most horrifying scream that still haunts me to this day. Before I had time to comprehend what must have happened something broke through my wall, it was one of the guards with his chest plate caving into his body. I didn't know what had just happened, while I sat there wide eyed the man from before stepped though the gap and stood in my cell, his hand covered in blood and splatters all over his body, he turned to look at me, I couldn't breathe through his gaze, it made my blood freeze and my heart to beat so hard I thought it would burst. After a few moments he sighed and walked back into his cell and out the open door, while walking down the hallway he called out "wait about half an hour, then you can escape"

I did what he said, I sat for what felt like forever and then, slowly and carefully I began walking down the hallway, making my way to what I hoped was an exit. eventually I found a stairway that lead up to a hatch and when I went through the hatch I could smell the suffocating stench of blood, I took a second to collect myself and stepped out of the hatch and found myself in a a storage room filled with wine and boxes, I walked through the nearest door and I saw the most extravagant hall I have ever seen in my life, it was decorated with silk and gold and high-quality wood who knows what else, could probably have stared in awe for hours it if wasn't for the bodies sprawled on the floor, they were dismembered and thrown around the hall like a violent beast had rampaged through them, I couldn't hold it in, I puked as soon as I saw it and almost passed out too. But I powered through it and eventually managed to go outside and finally escape the mansion.

I ran, I had no idea where I was running to, but anywhere was better than there. I eventually found a village and I explained to them everything that had happened, they sent guards and contacted the capital for assistance and held me in custody as I was a potential suspect. After an investigation they concluded that I was innocent and then they sent me to the capital to get me the help I needed for the trauma I had been through, it took some time for me to get used to life in the capital, after all, everything was so big and fancy, that's where I met my doctor, she had some kind of special title, but I don't know how to spell it, sykologist or something like that, she said she was like a mind doctor. I asked her when I could go home to my village, turns out my village had been burned down, together with farmer John, they didn't know why, but I did. I know exactly why, because of me. I told them where it was so they could find the black hunter, I caused them to die, it was all my fault. If I had just accepted my fate, they would all have been able to live happily like they used to. But I couldn't tell her that, they would know what kind of coward I was if I told them, they would abandon me, or worse.

No one will ever see this while I am still alive, or if they do then I won't be alive for much longer, my doctor can't figure out why exactly her treatment doesn't work as well as it should. She knows I'm hiding something, I can tell, but she hasn't brought it up yet, every time it comes to how they found the hunter I lie or avoid the subject.

This is my confession, I killed those two men, and I killed my village. I sacrificed them to save myself, I do not deserve to live, but I cannot end it, I'm too scared to face the people I have killed in the afterlife.

I still think about it every now and then, every time I drown it out with distractions, I've been reading a lot lately as a result, and drinking too, it is surprisingly effective at driving the memories into the back of my mind so I can try and get on with life.

I'm dragging this on, if anyone who is related to my village reads this, then I'm sorry I was such a coward, you have every right to hate me. And to everyone else who is reading this, thank you for listening to my confession.

-Arthur Williams, Number 12.

© Copyright 2018 AJ Petersen. All rights reserved.

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