This story is by Marijade Long-Bélair and was part of our 2019 Summer Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
“Afoot and lighthearted, take to the open road,”
The sound of raging thunder burst in his ears, but Hans Bolton remained asleep.
“Healthy, free, the world before you, the long brown path before you, leading wherever you choose,”
Edward Johnson, a skinny man with a hairy red chin, got on his feet and leaned closer to his friend to hear the words he was reciting.
“Say only for another: Camerado, I give you my hand! I give you my love more precious than money, I give you myself before preaching or law,”
A loud giggle immediately woke Hans from his sleep. His heart racing and his hands sweaty, he looked at his companion with a confused look.
“What are you bloody doing awake at this time? The guards will hear you, and we’ll both pay the price like last time! Get in your bed and shut your fucking mouth!” Hans ordered fiercely to Edward, who was laughing silently.
“Oh, Bolton, you should have heard yourself!” Edward started laughing again before he could place another word.
His bray laugh echoed in their whole cell section. Hans quickly grabbed Edward’s neck with his hands and tightened it more each second.
“Shut your ugly fat mouth before I tear out that pretty neck of yours.” Hans’s dark brown eyes looked straight into Edward’s and a chill went down his spine.
After a few seconds, Hans let go of Edward who exhaled loudly before going back in the lower bunk. The storm continued to hit. Every sound of thunder startled Hans. He switched position each time he saw a lightning strike outside the window.
“I didn’t hear everything, but what you were saying sounded smart. Where did you learn those type of words?” Edward whispered from underneath.
“What are you talking about, Ed?”
“The words. You were talking in your sleep. You were talking about, I think it was, I don’t know what it was.” The red headed man tried to find the right words to express himself but was unable.
A silence came in.
“Camerado! I swear I heard that term before. You said that, in the words. You said camerado.” Edward said with enthusiasm
“And what was so funny about it?” Hans asked
“I didn’t think such words could come out of your mouth. It was like, it was like, someone had taken over you.”
“You’re a stupid man, you know that? Stupid enough to get caught robbing a bank before even setting a foot in it.”
Edward thought about a dozen of insults he could shoot at him at that very moment but decided to hold himself back. Hans tried to take his mind off of the storm that was right outside the building. He did the tricks he always does whenever there is one, but tonight didn’t work. Tonight, the storm was stronger and meaner. Hans felt as though the lightnings were getting closer to him each time and would soon take him away. Away, where? He didn’t know. His teeth slammed against each other and his heart pounded rapidly against his chest. He remembered a time where he didn’t fear storms.
“I never told you why I killed that little girl.” Hans said in a soothing voice. Edward was the only person he trusted in this doomed place, and he had kept this tragic story to himself for too long.
Edward got out of his bed once again and sat on the cold, wet floor.
“Then come tell me about it.”
“I’m not going on the floor with you. This isn’t like some sort of talk twelve-year-old boys have about who they think the cutest girl in their class is.”
“No, but I hear you better from down here.”
Hans looked down at Edward who smiled at him. He came down a few seconds later. He sat next to his companion quietly. Hans didn’t know how to begin; he had never told this to anyone. Butterflies tickled his stomach. Edward looked at him with his big blue eyes and decided to stay quiet. What was under the surface of Hans Bolton intrigued him. What could that man hide underneath his muscular body? He was about to find out, or perhaps.
“It happened 8 years ago, and I perfectly remember the sound of her young and sweet voice. You know, that kind of voice that sounds like a lullaby. The kind of voice that each time you hear, you forget that this world is a horrible and terrifying place.”
Hearing Hans say that surprised Edward. He didn’t look like a terrified man, he looked brave, strong and ready to crush the world in his own hands.
“My wife, Jane, had jumped off a bridge a couple of weeks before.” Hans sniffled, and even though it was dark, Edward could have sworn he saw a tear stream down the man’s cheek.
“I didn’t know. I’m sorry, Hans.”
“Don’t be. That bitch was miserable because of me. But the point of me saying this is that little girl, that I murdered, had a terrible resemblance with Jane. They had the exact same hair, nose, eyes, lips, everything. It was like Jane was coming back to haunt me. She was possessing that little girl’s body, I swear, I’m not crazy. I didn’t think she was ever going to stop.”
“Stop what?” Edward interrupted
“Her voice, it wasn’t going to stop unless,” Hans stopped talking and fixed the empty space with a mad look.
“Unless I killed her.” He said while lifting his head back up to look at his friend.
Puzzled, Edward looked away from Hans’s maniacal eyes.
“I grabbed my hands around her soft and fragile neck, lifted her high in the air and screamed at her to go away. ‘Go away! Go away!’ But she didn’t, so I squeezed her neck harder and harder, until my two hand palms touched together. And then it was too late to go back. Her head was laying on the grass, but something was wrong. It wasn’t Jane’s face anymore; it was my daughter’s. My 7-year-old daughter was laying headless on the grass. As soon as I got back to my senses, I went to the floor and tried to put her head back on, but it was impossible to make it stick to her body again. Her eyes, that had once been so innocent, were red and wide opened like an owl. I sat on the grass and held her head in my arms, sobbing. Rain started dripping down from the sky, then a storm appeared. Black clouds, thunder and lightning were right above my head. After a couple of minutes sitting there, a lightning hit in front of me, right where I had placed my daughter’s head. Not a second later, her head split in half like a sheet of paper. What happened next sounds crazy. I am a lot of things, but not a liar. My wife appeared in front of me, only she was floating in the air and was awfully pale. She took our daughter’s headless body. She said: ‘Look, look what you did, you crazy motherfucker! You’ll burn, burn in hell forever!’ The words she had said kept repeating themselves and then she went high up in the sky. My daughter’s body exploded in hundred of pieces. I was screaming. Then someone saw me, and the police arrived five minutes later. I knew they were going to send me in jail, but I didn’t run. How could I run from this? They found me covered in blood with the remains of my daughter’s head split in half. Even if I told my story, it wouldn’t have changed anything. I had to face the fact that I,”
Hans stopped talking and took a deep breath. The words were painful to pronounce.
“I killed my daughter with my own bloody hands.” His voice was shaking, and a few seconds later he exploded in tears.
Edward remained motionless. He didn’t know how to react to this. A part of him was scared of what Hans was capable of, yet another part felt desperately sorry for him. Edward cleared his throat.
“I believe you.”
“Which part?” Hans asked
His friend didn’t answer. The part of seeing his dead wife fly up in the sky seemed irrational to Edward.
“I get it if you don’t believe everything. Sometimes, I even doubt myself on the truth. That’s what terrifies me the most, being ignorant of my own truth.”
Edward wasn’t sure what the mad man meant by that, but he didn’t add another word. Hans climbed back in his bed. The word “camerado” came back in his mind, and he finally remembered where it came from. Nostalgia invaded him. That time was long passed.
“Will you give me yourself? Will you come travel with me? Shall we stick by each other as long as we live?”
With those words being said, Hans Bolton fell in a deep sleep.