“The years, no doubt, have changed me, sir,” Sweeney Todd, formerly Benjamin Barker, whispers as he lowers his razor slightly and leans in close to Judge Turpin, his nemesis and victim. “But then, I suppose the face of a barber—the face of a prisoner on the dock—is not particularly memorable.”
Judge Turpin looks up at Mr. Todd, his eyes widening with shock and recognition. In that moment, as their eyes meet, Mr. Todd is thrown into the past, the memory of his unjust trial and his wife’s face of horror and Judge Turpin’s eyes flashing with triumph swallow him back to that horrid moment.
He sees himself standing before the cruel, corrupt Judge Turpin, much younger in the memory. Benjamin Barker stands solemnly shackled and seated with his wrists and ankles bound with the heavy iron. Judge Turpin glares down at him with a cold and calculating face but eyes that betray his true feelings of triumph. Benjamin glances behind him at his beautiful wife, Lucy, and his precious baby girl kept warm in her mother’s arms. He hears no sound but sees Lucy’s lips sadly form the words, I love you. He helplessly closes his eyes and struggles to keep his tears at bay.
“I find the prisoner Benjamin Barker to be guilty of the heinous crimes to which he has been accused,” Judge Turpin says slowly in his cool, measured voice despite the hint of excitement in his sneer
Unable to suffer in silence any longer as his fate is decided for him, Benjamin shoots up, his shackles shaking and clattering as he bangs his cuffed hands on the table in front of him. “Of what have I been accused, milord?” he demands furiously. “You have presented no evidence against me—”
“Nor have I presented a single item in your favor, Mr. Barker,” the judge interrupts. “Sit.”
Mr. Barker sighs and regains his composure. He looks back up at the pleased judge with desperate, pleading eyes. “Please reconsider, milord. I beg of you, spare me! I am but a mere barber, guilty of no crime but that of treasuring my poor wife and daughter more than my own life. I beg of you, milord, spare me. Think not of my good will, but of your own soul and of my poor, innocent Johanna. Would you have her grow up with no father, milord? Surly no man of the good Lord such as yourself could have a heart so cold. I beg of you, sir, reconsider!”
“Enough of this,” Judge Turpin says dismissively, waving his hand and leaning back in his chair. “I tire of this colossal misuse of my precious time; however, Mr. Todd, your words have stirred something in me and have placed me in a forgiving mood. I shall not have you hanged for your wickedness. I shall have you exiled to spend the whole of 20 years in Ailborthitae, a special prison located at the center of the Bermuda Triangle. Only after your time has been served may you return to London…should you survive your time in Ailborthitae and not disappear as so many prisoners sent there have. Should you survive your sentence there, I shall gladly welcome you back into London. Do not fight me, Mr. Barker. This is as good a deal as you will have, and think not only of how your neck will look in that pretty rope noose…” The judge looks away from Barker and homes his gaze in on Lucy who averts her eyes and presses Johanna tighter to her chest. “The choice is yours, Mr. Barker. Tick-tock.”
“NO!” Benjamin screams furiously, the single word echoing through the large room. The short, chubby Beadle Bamford waddles over to Barker and whacks him over the head so that he falls back to his seat and gazes down at his cuffs, his face one of defeat. His perfect, dark brown hair that almost looks black at times falls forward and shields his face from the evil judge. “I shall go to this Ailborthitae, milord. Please, just leave my family be.”
Looking pleased with himself, Turpin bangs his gavel to adjourn the court, and Benjamin is yanked up and led past his silently sobbing wife, still clutching their now wailing baby girl.
“Please take care of them,” he begs a good friend and neighbor of his, Mrs. Lovett, as he passes her. She nods and discreetly squeezes his hand until his escorts shove him out of her reach. She glances at her husband to make sure he hadn’t seen the exchange before turning and watching her secret love trudge out of her life. She feels a pang in her chest at the disappearance of the man who never knew how she felt and who now never will.
Mr. Todd, now back in the present, looks back into the face of Judge Turpin, and it’s as if time unpauses itself. “Benjamin Barker?” the judge asks quietly, disbelief and irritability filling his voice.
Sweeney Todd is unable to keep his excitement at bay any longer. The necessity for revenge against this man—the man responsible for his dear Lucy’s death and his exile and Johanna being placed in an insane asylum—proves to be too overwhelming. Sweeney raises his razor high in the air and wails, “BENJAMIN. BARKER!” With that, he thrusts the razor into Judge Turpin’s neck and stabs him repeatedly before finally slitting the good judge’s neck and pressing his foot on the paddle to allow the man who ruined his life to fall head first into Mrs. Lovett’s cellar onto a pile of Todd’s other victims of the night where he will be cooked into meat pies that Todd plans on eating himself.
Mr. Todd takes a moment to admire the beauty of his razor, the razor that achieved him the vengeance that he longed for all those long years; however, as he gazes at his reflection streaked by blood on the silver, he is again thrust to that day, the day that stole him and cursed him with this wretched life.
He sees himself, a reflection in the playful water of the English Channel. He looks behind him and sees Judge Turpin gazing back at him with a smug expression on his face. Benjamin looks back at the ship, full of guards and prisoners, that awaits him, and he’s led onto it and down below into a cell. There are several men in the bilge living amongst the rats, but Benjamin is shoved into a cell by himself. After a few hours, the ship begins to move, and he hears rapid footsteps and yelling from above. He sinks to the floor, wraps his arms around himself, and begins to sob for the first time since he was a boy and witnessed the bloody massacre of both of his parents.
After weeks of the sickening rocking of the ship, the awful reek of the prisoners, and barely surviving on the meager scraps he’s served, Benjamin feels the ship come to a jerking and gut-wrenching halt. Guards stomp down the stairs into the bilge to retrieve Barker and the other prisoners. The one innocent man amongst the wicked and corrupt guards and culprits drags his feet solemnly off of the boat. The island that he is shoved onto is small, and as far as he can tell, the main centerpiece of it is the giant, stone building with no windows and a stone door that still fails to keep Barker from hearing the shrieks of agony from within. The ground itself is dead and barren, as if there was a curse placed on it. Benjamin trembles with horror and fear at the thought of what could be so awful as to cause human beings to make those wretched sounds.
The guards ignore Benjamin’s terror and resistance, and they practically throw him into the prison, leaving him there with the other prisoners. The main entrance of the asylum is a tall, grand room made of the same rough, cold stone as the exterior walls. The floor that Barker fell to leaves bloody scrapes on his gentle hands. The room itself is dark and dank, and Barker wishes that he could simply close his eyes and escape this nightmare. But closing his eyes brings him no closer to returning to his precious Johanna and beautiful Lucy, so he forces himself to man up and assess the situation.
The men all stand huddled in a wretched smelling cluster that Barker immediately backs away from. Someone notices this and glares at him, a nasty, bulbous, soot-covered man. “Oy! You think you be’er than me, boy? You ain’t nothing! What you even in here for?”
Barker plans to just back away slowly and silently, but another man, even larger and crueler in appearance blocks his path so that he backs right into the man’s stomach. Benjamin notices to his dismay that this this man’s body is pure muscle and that he is about two heads taller than him. Barker gulps and looks up at the man apologetically.
“You two blokes have some type of an issue here?” he demands in a harsh voice with the assessing eye of a vulture. “If you do, take it over there. ‘Cuz I ain’t getting involved in whatever situation you two are dealing with.”
“I—I beg your pardon, fri—friend,” Benjamin stammers nervously. “I was simply avoiding the huddle forming over there between the men and the flies, and this gentleman called me out on it. Nothing more—I have actually never seen this man in my life. I am truly and terribly sorry for backing into you.”
“I don’t want no bloody apologies, boy. Just don’t let it happen again.”
“Ye—yes, sir,” Benjamin stumbles again.
“Might I ask your name? I assume you’d like to be associated with a name other than Stammering, Clumsy Bloke, ay?”
Benjamin chuckles anxiously. “Ah, you guess right, friend. I go by Benjamin Barker. And you, sir?”
By now, the man who had originally harassed Barker walked away, bored, and the other, more muscular man, begins to laugh wholeheartedly. Benjamin begins to tremble nervously. “I like you, Barker,” he says, patting Benjamin on the back and causing him to stumble. “The name’s Tony Des Weed, short for Anthony Desmond Weed. But I really can’t stand that name. So I simply go by Tony.” Benjamin steadies himself on his feet and wipes some dirt from his suit. Tony gives him an odd look. “You ain’t like them other ‘victs, are you, Barker. You’re too…twitchy. You didn’t do a thing to get into here, did you?”
“You’re clever, my friend. I concede that I am guiltier than any man here, guilty of foolishness and the belief that all men are created equal in the eyes of God. However, as recent events have shown me, there are truly men with souls darker and colder and harsher than the deepest and most wretched pits of Hell.”
“Oy, wha’ ‘appened?” Tony asks with burning curiosity.
Barker looks past his new acquaintance and stares into the cold face of the dark stone wall. “I was banished because a man of the law craved my beautiful Lucy. He saved me from a hanging by sending me here.” Barker shakes his head and tries to return to the present and Tony. “But that is behind me now. I must move forward in the hope of one day returning to my Lucy and baby Johanna.”
“You poor bloke.” Tony shakes his head at Barker, his face full of sympathy.
“What is it, Tony?”
“He didn’t save you from a hanging, boy. A noose around your neck would’ve been too kind and quick to that man. He wanted you to not only disappear, but to suffer as you did so. You may only have a sentence for a certain period of time to spend here, but you’ll be serving a life sentence, mark my words.”
Barker has no way to respond. His face falls, and he again stares at the mocking face of the stone wall. “’Tis not true,” he whispers desperately. “There’s no way I could stay here more than 20 years. I must return to my wife and child.”
“You don’t get it, do you, mate? You, a pretty boy with no more backbone or cruelty than a rabbit? You won’t last more than a week.”
Benjamin swallows hard, and Todd returns to the present.
Sweeney gently and calmly places his smooth silver blade onto the chair that dropped Judge Turpin moments ago. His vengeance was achieved—his Lucy can now rest knowing that she had been avenged. He can now wait for Anthony to come back with Johanna and shield his precious girl from the evils of the world, provide her with a loving father. He decides that he can perhaps allow Anthony to live on the condition that Johanna can stay in his life. He can take care of the two of them properly—things will finally turn around for him.
A creak sounds from behind Todd in the corner.
Sweeney snatches his razor from the rigged chair and creeps over to the chest in the corner with a small crack that reveals a scared brown eye. He throws open the box and stares down at a young, pale, blond, terrified boy wearing a hat and trench coat. “Come for a shave, have you, lad?” he asks sinisterly.
The boy—actually Johanna in a convincing disguise—shakes his head. “No, I—” Her voice quivers, and Todd grabs her by the front of her shirt.
“Everyone needs a good shave,” Todd says as he shoves Johanna into the chair. He raises his razor, and he again looks back on a torturous memory of the past.
Benjamin—now shed of his slacks, shirt, and waistcoat, and jacket for the grey prison clothes–is shoved into a dark, windowless cell somewhere in the prison with a metal bunk bed and toilet as the only two furnishings. The mattresses are thin, there are no pillows, and the grey blankets are riddled with moth holes. Barker approaches slowly and warily.
“You can have the top bunk if you’d like, mate,” he hears from the corner. Benjamin turns around to see Tony, and he practically melts with relief. Tony emerges from the shadows and offers Barker a smile that’s missing a few teeth. “’Fraid I might break it if I tried anyway. You’re much smaller and thinner.”
Benjamin nods at his friend and pulls a rusty razor with a wooden handle out of his right shoe and etches a tick line into the stone wall next to his bed. “Day one,” he mutters, leaning over and replacing the razor in his shoe.
“Oy, where’d you get that?” Tony asks curiously.
“I was a barber back in London. This was my very first razor. Not good for much now, but I decided to keep it. During the bodily search, the guards found it, but they let me hold onto it.”
“Probably hope you’ll off yourself with it or give them a reason to do it for you. Keep it hidden—you don’t want them other ‘victs knowing about it.”
“Yes, I figured as much,” Benjamin says absentmindedly, climbing up onto the bed. He begins to count as he spreads the thin blanket over himself and the bed.
“What are you doing now?”
“There are 86,400 seconds in the day…I am counting each of them until I am reunited with my precious Johanna and Lucy.” Benjamin turns away from his friend and stares at the wall.
Tony shakes his head and lies down. “What did they look like?” he asks softly.
Benjamin doesn’t respond for a moment as he imagines his girls. “Lucy, my wife, was the most wondrous creature. She is—was—is beautiful and virtuous and young with soft skin and lovely yellow hair like wheat. I like to imagine that my Johanna will grow up to look like her mother, beautiful and pale with that same yellow hair. She was my little star, and I’ll now miss her first words, first steps—everything. I’ll miss my little star because of that pious vulture of the law.”
“I had no one,” Tony mutters. “My mistress and my weakness was my gin. She turned me into an angry drunk—had no control when I succumbed to her. And one day, I woke up with a pistol in my hand and two men shot between the eyes by my sides. My trial was over ‘fore I could get a single word in. Then they loaded me onto that blasted ship and I was brought here to become cellmates with a barber who is fully capable of ending my miserable existence right here and now with the razor blade in his boot.”
“I wouldn’t do that!” Benjamin exclaims with shock. “I’m not an evil man, as you well know. I simply long to one day return to Lucy and Johanna, should they have me when I return.”
“I wish you would. And that would be if you return,” Tony murmurs.
“If…” Barker stares up at the ceiling. “Goodnight, friend.”
Todd as yanked out of his revere by a shriek of horror from below, and he looks to the doorway. He assumes it’s Mrs. Lovett, and he makes a split-second decision. After everything, Sweeney finds himself tiring of the bloodshed of his deeds. He yanks Johanna close to him and looks her over with a close eye.
“Forget my face,” he commands softly, holding the razor close to Johanna’s throat. He releases her shirt and quickly stomps out of the room to find out what’s wrong with Mrs. Lovett.
“Die! God in Heaven, die!” he hears her yell.
He hurries down the stairs and into the room to see her struggling to drag the beggar woman to the oven. “Why did you scream?” he asks, looking around the cellar.
“Oh, he was clutching onto my dress,” she says, nodding at Judge Turpin. “But he’s finished now.”
“I’ll take care of it,” Sweeney says, approaching Mrs. Lovett to help her drag the bodies to the oven. “Open the door.” He shoves her away. “Open the door, I said!”
Mrs. Lovett slowly backs away, watching Mr. Todd carefully. She hurries over to the oven and pulls open the heavy door, still watching him closely, as he rolls up his blood-soaked sleeves.
Mr. Todd looks at her strangely, not understanding why she’s being so odd, and then he glances down at the old beggar. He doesn’t believe his eyes and forces himself to look closer, his eyebrows scrunching together with déjà vu. He struggles to place the face, and approaches her, kneeling down and nudging some pale yellow hair away from the woman’s face. He turns her over with a look of disgust on his face and feeling sick. His mouth widens, and he doesn’t even know how to express his shock. He figures it must be a dream. “’Don’t I know you?’ she said,” he whispers with a twisted smile at the thought that she still recognized him after all these years even though he hadn’t seen that it was her. The smile falls as he catches onto another memory of life in Ailborthitae.
Every day in that wretched place was the same. In the morning, Barker and Weed would be retrieved by the nasty looking guards, and Benjamin would draw another tick on the wall and replace his razor in his boot. They were led to the dining hall which was a fancy way of saying a room full of stoic guards against the walls, rowdy prisoners who killed each other with their bare hands and were in turn murdered by the guards standing by, and gray food that tasted more repulsive than it smelled. No matter how many prisoners Benjamin saw killed, there always seemed to be enough to fill the room. After their meal of the day, they were all escorted back to their cells. Benjamin sometimes heard the shrieks of other inmates being killed. He tried to ignore it, but it became a task to do so. Tony helped him out a lot with that and worked Benjamin out so that he could tone up his muscles in the case that someone tried to mess with him when Tony wasn’t around. It was often that other inmates tried to mess with Benjamin, but Tony always seemed to be there at the right place and time. In the evening, everyone was retrieved again for a shower in a long, white room with several shower heads lined up against each wall that only sprayed out water as cold as ice. It always left Benjamin trembling for the first few years—Tony seemed completely resilient to the cold.
After a few months, the guards came to Benjamin and told him that from that point on, he would be provide with whatever he needed to give each inmate biweekly shaves and trims every other Saturday. Benjamin simply said that he had all he needed in his shoes.
These cycles went on for 14 and a half long years during which Benjamin built up remarkable muscles despite the harsh living conditions and limited food. Every time that Tony asked him how he had survived all these years, he replied that he had something to live for—his wife and daughter. Though he’d never admit it, however, he was forgetting Lucy’s face more and more each day and soon could only imagine what Johanna would look like. All he knew was that she would be pale with yellow hair, the only two features of Lucy that he could recall.
One day, guards come to his room, and he assumes it’s Saturday. They retrieve Benjamin and Tony and lead them into what was probably the brightest room in the entire prison. It’s only slightly larger than Benjamin’s cell. The floor is a light grey, and the walls are paneled with wooden slates. Several candles line the walls, providing the bright light. More guards stand by there so that the two men are surrounded by about 20 bloodthirsty watchmen.
A particularly cruel guard who Benjamin had seen kill several of the inmates steps forward with a nasty sneer on his face that reveals rotted, brown teeth. “We been told by our ‘superiors’ that the financial situation is causing a strain on ‘em. We been told that in order to fix the problem, we need to cut back on a few things here in the prison.”
Barker and Weed are shoved to the floor roughly and held down. The guard’s smile grows as he slowly approaches them and holds out his hand.
“Hand me the razor, boy,” he commands. Benjamin takes the razor out of his boot and hands it to the guard furiously. “We been told we simply gotta feed you all a little less, give you all weekly baths ‘stead of daily, and get rid of a few particular in mates—only the killers and corrupt.” He walks over to Tony and pulls his head back, placing the razor by his throat. “No need to worry, Mr. Barker. This don’t apply ta you.” With that, he slices Tony’s throat, and blood spurts out of it.
“NO!” Benjamin cries. He watches his friend gurgle and bleed out, unable to help him. Devastated, Barker goes into a frenzy, driven by the revenge that he craves against Judge Turpin and the inmates and these guards for standing by as Barker’s only friend is killed. He shoves the guard holding him down away and snatches his razor away from the one that killed Tony, slashing that one’s throat violently. He turns and faces the rest of the room waving the razor around like a madman injuring some and killing others. The guards, not expecting this from someone quiet like Barker who always seems to hide behind his body guard are unprepared to fight him. Meanwhile, Benjamin only catches small glimpses of what he’s actually doing to these guards. He blocks the door in his frenzy and slashes at anyone who tries to get out, taking them down almost instantaneously. Each time someone tries to grab him, their wrist gets slit deep, and the blood loss mixed with the rust from the blade kills each of them.
Eventually, Barker takes down each and every one of the men surrounding him. He’s covered in blood and surrounded with dead men. He sees one of the guards still gasping for air and approaches him, yanking the man up by his shirt. “Where do you keep clothes that the prisoners come into here with?” he demands.
“Down the stairs, four doors on the left.” The man whispers.
Barker shoves him back down and approaches his friend—his brother. “Goodbye, Anthony Desmond—Tony Des Weed. You will not be soon forgotten, and you have been avenged.”
A single tear escapes Benjamin’s eye and falls onto Tony’s cheek. Benjamin wipes his eyes and storms out of the room, still craving blood to shed and daring anyone to get in his way.
Benjamin, by the guard’s directions, locates the room that hides all of the clothes that prisoners enter this asylum in. He uses his razor to unlock the door and slips inside, closing the heavy door behind him. The room is large and has piles of clothes strewn about in bags labeled with each prisoner’s name. Benjamin finds his name after searching anxiously for about 10 minutes and tears off the prison jumpsuit using his razor to cut it. He pulls on his clothes and slips his razor into its small holster at his waist. Despite his nostalgic feelings toward his first razor, he tires of the roughness with which it grazes a man’s face, and he longs to return to his silver set of switch blades almost as much as he misses his Johanna and Lucy.
Benjamin decides to leave a sign that he was here, but refuses to use his own name any longer. It is the name of a weak man, a man that is no longer a part of him. He takes his old rusty razor and carves Tony Des Weed into the stone wall. He turns his head to the side and looks at the name. Directly below it, he carves Sweeney Todd, deciding that that will be the name that he will go by from that point forward.
Holding his blade at the ready, Sweeney Todd steps out into the hallway, looks both ways, and dashes down the stairs and out of the prison.
Back in Mrs. Lovett’s cellar, Mr. Todd looks down at Lucy, rubbing her shoulder gently. “You knew she lived,” he whispers to Mrs. Lovett, still gazing at his wife who he killed only moments ago, his face turning angry.
“I was only thinking a’ you,” Mrs. Lovett says desperately, trying to determine just how angry Sweeney is with her.
Todd looks up at her helplessly, still trying to register everything that’s happened. “You lied to me.”
“No. No, not lied at all,” Mrs. Lovett says innocently, still standing by the oven. “No, I never lied.”
“Lucy.” Mr. Todd’s voice is tortured and sad.
“Said she took the poison—she did. Never said that she died.”
“I’ve come home again.” Mr. Todd begins to rub Lucy’s arm, still kneeling by her side.
“Poor thing, she lived, but he left her weak in the head. All she did for months was just lie there in bed. Should’ve been in hospital—”
“Lucy.” Mr. Todd pulls his hand away from Lucy, afraid of harming her any further than he already has.
“—wound up in Bedlam instead. Poor thing!”
“Oh, my God!” Mr. Todd stands up and steps away from Lucy, growing angrier with Mrs. Lovett by the second.
“Better you should think she was dead—yes, I lied ‘cos I love you! I’d be twice the wife she was.”
“Lucy, what have I done?” Mr. Todd asks, feeling defeated and confused.
“I love you! Could that thing have cared for you like me?”
Mr. Todd twirls around to look at Mrs. Lovett, her face pale and terrified. “Mrs. Lovett, you’re a bloody wonder—eminently practical and yet appropriate as always. As you’ve said repeatedly, there’s little point in dwelling on the past!” As Mr. Todd slowly approaches Mrs. Lovett, trying to soothe her despite his anger, he again remembers the day of his escape from Ailborthitae.
As he made his way out of the prison, Sweeney was being followed by a herd of guards that he couldn’t ever hope to control. He rushes out into the grey darkness of a thundering rainstorm. He races around the stone walls of the prison, barely able to see more than two feet in front of his face or hear the guards thanks to the crackling blasts of thunder that sound too close for comfort. Eventually, Todd works his way around the corner and past the building. He begins to grow exhausted, but forces himself to move forward. He knows that he’ll be killed on the spot should they find him, and he can’t let that happen. He has to keep going for Lucy and Johanna’s sakes.
Just when he feels like his lungs will give out, Todd finds a dark forest on the outskirts of the island. The tall trees and thick bushes promise Sweeney safety and security from the mob on his trail. He makes his way through and climbs a tree with a thick canopy. He can’t see or hear whether the guards are below, but the thunder seems to be growing closer, and it makes Todd begin to grow anxious; however, he knows he must stay hidden—it is imperative. He’s so close to freedom.
Todd stays hidden in the shadows that the canopy provides for over an hour as the storm grows nearer. Finally, afraid of being killed by falling from the great height or the lightning electrocuting him, he begins to make his way down, sure that the guards are long gone by now. Sweeney hugs the tree closely as he makes his way down to the safety of the ground. He’s about halfway there when a stray bolt of lightning strikes the tree that he’d been climbing down and knocks Todd out cold. As he closes his eyes in the memory, Mr. Todd returns to the present to see Mrs. Lovett’s terrified face as she backs away from him.
As Mr. Todd continues to call to her in a crazed voice, saying, “Now come here, my love, not a thing to fear, my love, what's dead, is dead!” Mrs. Lovett backs away from him into a corner, terrified of what he’ll do. She asks, “Do you mean it? Everything I did, I swear I thought was only for the best. Believe me! Can we still be married?”
Mr. Todd sweeps her into his arms, and she gladly accepts believing that everything will be okay. “The history of the world, my pet—” he sings to her.
She smiles broadly and melts into his arms, dancing around the cellar with her love who she finally believes is hers. “Oh, Mr. Todd, oh, Mr. Todd—leave it to me!” she interrupts, speaking happily and soothingly.
“—is learn forgiveness and try to forget!” Mr. Todd continues as if she hadn’t spoken.
Mrs. Lovett begins to sing to him of her wishes for the two of them. “By the sea, Mr. Todd, we'll be comfy-cozy! By the sea, Mr. Todd, where there's no one nosy!”
Mr. Todd actually seems to be happy to spend the rest of his life with Mrs. Lovett as they waltz around the cellar, closer and closer to the oven. “And life is for the alive, my dear! So let's keep living it—“
Mrs. Lovett joins Mr. Todd, singing in sync with him. “—just keep living it! Really living it—“
In that moment, Mr. Todd cuts off the joy by twirling Mrs. Lovett around and thrusting her into the oven where she screams as she begins to incinerate. Her horror and the burning smell again remind him of his horrible time on the island of Ailborthitae.
The guards can’t find Sweeney, but when he falls from the tree, he lands in a thick heap of bushes that help lessen the ache he feels when he finally awakens. Mr. Todd wakes up to a clear, albeit dreary, forest with no more rain cascading down in heavy drops. He feels shocked, and his hair smells burnt. He stumbles around the forest until he comes to a small clearing with a little pond that’s somewhat clean. He looks down into his reflection and sees a shocking, thick, white strip at the root of his brown hair. The rest of his hair sticks up at odd edges, and he looks burnt. His clothes are singed, and Todd immediately jumps into the pond to clean the worst of his burns.
He spends a few days by the pond, drinking from it, living off of the forest, and regaining his strength. Once he feels well enough, Sweeney continues to trudge through the forest, breaking by night and traveling by day, until he comes to the edge of the island. He begins to use his now very dull razor to cut off tree branches to create a raft, a long and tedious process that takes days. He uses vines as rope to tie it together, thick branches as a base, and a thin trunk that he struggles with for hours as a mast. Eventually, he creates a semi-functional raft. Once that’s put together, Todd is forced to gather as much food as possible from the forest to ration for as long as it will take to find a ship which could be months.
Todd looks back at the island as he prepares to leave, missing Tony dearly. Sweeney sighs and runs the raft into the water, getting onto it and using his hands to row for a while. He doesn’t bother steering—he allows the water and wind to lead him wherever it will as long as it’s far away from this island of hell.
Once he can no longer see the island of Ailborthitae, Mr. Todd calms down and pulls his hands out of the water, wiping them on his shirt. Exhausted, he lies down on his small raft and gently drifts off to sleep. After weeks of traveling on in this way, his food diminishes and disappears. Mr. Todd begins to grow increasingly nervous and starved. His stomach growls, but he sees no ship or land anywhere nearby.
One the third day without food, as Mr. Todd’s stomach clenches agonizingly and he accepts that he’s die, he lies down on his raft and allows himself to be kissed and caressed by the gentle light of the sun, still clutching his razor tightly in his hand. Even after all this time, he still has no tan as his days become increasingly shorter. His abnormally pale complexion is also an attribute of the fourteen and a half years that he spent away from even the soft glow of candles in Ailborthitae. Mr. Todd drifts off to sleep, being gently rocked back and forth by the waves, and he returns to the present.
Sweeney slams the heavy oven door on the shrieking Mrs. Lovett and turns back to his Lucy. He slowly walks around her and drops his razor blade not wanting it to come any closer to her than it already has. He takes a few steps closer and kneels down by her side, gently pulling her into his lap and hugging her to him. He gazes down sadly at her, wondering how he’s fallen so far.
“There was a barber and his wife,” he whispers to her, “and she was beautiful. A foolish barber and his wife—she was his reason and his life—and she was beautiful and she was virtuous. And he was—“
Sweeney hears footsteps behind him and the clanking of his fallen razor being picked up. He realizes that it’s Toby, come back from the dead to kill him. He stops speaking to Lucy and raises his head, thinking again of the last time that he was almost killed.
On a giant ship, Todd wakes up in a bed, a young man by his side. He’s still clutching his razor, but he holds on tighter, his hand turning even whiter than he already was. “Who are you?” he demands, jumping up quickly and backing away from the boy. “Where am I? What’s happened?”
The boy holds up his hands in a gesture of peace. “Please, sir, I have no intention of harming you.”
Mr. Todd grabs the boy and presses him roughly against the wall of the cabin, holding the razor against his throat. “Do not lie to me, boy! They all want to harm me. They always have and they always will!”
“Please, sir, my name is Anthony, Anthony Hope. I truly intend you no harm, sir. Please, sir, release me, and we may talk.”
Sweeney drops him and stares at the wall, in a different place entirely. “Anthony…Tony.”
“You may call me that if it may please you, sir,” Anthony stammers.
Sweeney raises his blade again. “No! He’s Tony. You never shall be!”
“’Tis okay, sir. Please, sit.” Anthony gently pushes Mr. Todd back onto the bed, and he doesn’t fight.
“Tony is gone now.”
“What happened, sir? What’s your name?”
“My name’s Be—Todd. Sweeney Todd.”
“What were you going to say, sir?” Anthony asks softly.
“You are too young to understand, friend. There are some parts of our past that we would like very much to simply bury and forget about. Benjamin Barker is one of those things, now. My name is Sweeney Todd, plain and simple.”
“Yes, sir, Mr. Todd. What happened to you, if I may ask?”
Mr. Todd again looks past Anthony. “They killed him,” he murmurs in a distant voice. They took my razor and slit his throat just like they did my parents. So I killed them, all of them. And then I ran.” Mr. Todd shakes himself out of his reverie and looks back up at Anthony. “I’m terribly sorry to burden you with my troubles. You are young and shouldn’t have to worry about an old man’s woes. However, I am terribly hungry, Anthony. I grow weak and weary for I have had no supplement for days. Please, just some water, if that’s all you may provide.”
“No, sir, come with me. We shall find you some food, and I shall tell you how you’ve come to be on the ship.” Anthony gently helps the uncertain and defensive and unsteady Mr. Todd up from the bed and leads him to another cabin with food. Mr. Todd can hear footsteps from above and trembles at the thought of the last time he was on a ship like this.
“’Tis okay, Mr. Todd. They aren’t going to come for you any longer. You’re safe now.”
“So much to learn, my dear boy. We’re never safe.”
Anthony says nothing as he opens another door to reveal a plate of fish and a cup of rum. Todd sinks into a chair and begins to shovel every bite into his mouth, savoring every piece of it. Anthony watches him quietly, hoping that this will make Mr. Todd slightly less violent for when he meets the rest of the crew. Sweeney throws back the gin quickly and looks up at the young sailor.
“Thank you, Anthony, for that. Now, how have I come to be here on your ship?” he asks suspiciously.
“I saw you, Mr. Todd. You were drifting about on that little raft and looked to be dead—you were—are—so pale. I nonetheless told my captain immediately, and we pulled you onboard. Since I spotted you first, the men trusted me to watch over you and feed you once you woke.”
“Anthony…you saved me.” Mr. Todd again looks past his savior. “You were my guardian as Tony was.” Sweeney shakes off his haze and gazes at Anthony.
“Is everything alright, Mr. Todd?” Anthony asks, concerned for his new friend.
“I beg your pardon, Anthony—it has been a long time since I have been in the presence of uncorrupt, kind souls such as yourself. You are young and naïve as I once was, long ago. I am sorry if I have scared you, friend. I am forever in your debt for what you have done. Were it not for you, I would still be floating away on the ocean, already rotting or worse.”
“’Twas the honorable thing to do—what any good man would do in my place.”
“Yes, it was,” Mr. Todd mutters. “Might I ask where this ship is sailing, Anthony?”
“We are going to London. ‘Tis about time—I haven’t been there for a very long time and there truly is no place like London.”
“No, there is no place like London. How much longer until we are there, Anthony?” Mr. Todd is again defensive and dangerous looking, but Anthony remains calm and gentle despite his fear.
“A few more weeks. It shall be over before you know it.”
“Excellent. I shall soon see my Lucy again.”
Anthony doesn’t bother asking any further questions. He simply offers his arm to his new friend and leads him upstairs. “Shall we meet the rest of the crew and reassure them that you are okay, Mr. Todd?”
“That would be lovely, my friend. Please, lead the way.”
At that moment, Mr. Todd’s life was spared by a young man who he then swore to protect, but now, Anthony isn’t around to save Sweeney from Toby’s rage. As easy as it would be for Mr. Todd to simply grab Toby and murder him—to save his own life—he doesn’t do it. He has nothing left. He has gotten revenge upon those who he swore to kill, he has murdered his beloved Lucy in his angry craze, Johanna will no doubt choose to be with the young Anthony over the father that she never knew, and now, even Mrs. Lovett is gone by his hand.
So, as Toby approaches him, Mr. Todd gladly tilts his head back to allow the boy to slit his throat. Toby does the deed, and Mr. Todd begins to bleed out all over the floor and his beloved Lucy who he trusts will be safe far away from him where she will lie in Heaven.
Toby walks towards the entrance of the cellar as Mr. Todd begins to tilt forward as he and Lucy become more and more drenched in blood. At the entrance, he looks back at the man who killed the only mother he ever knew. He looks back at the stone wall and carves Toby Lovett into it before wiping the blade of all traces of blood and making his way up the stairs.
Toby admires the blade as he trudges, admires it as he always has from afar. He remembers the feeling of power that surged through him when he slit the throat of Mr. Todd, and decides that he quite liked it. Still holding the blade up and admiring it, Toby makes his way to the workhouse in the dead of night. He leaves all the drunken children asleep in their poor beds and begins to seek out revenge on the cold, cruel men and women who abused and oppressed him in the same dark way that Mr. Todd had. Only unlike Mr. Todd, he didn’t have Mrs. Lovett to clean up his mess. But that didn’t matter.
By the time anyone discovered what had happened, Toby was long gone—as was Mr. Todd’s precious silver razor.
© Copyright 2016 KaitlynnRose. All rights reserved.
Short Story / Fan Fiction
Short Story / Fan Fiction
Short Story / Fan Fiction
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