Armitage - Chapter 11 - One Step Too Far (Part 2 of 2)
‘Yes it does get a bit pungent in here, doesn’t it?’ said Mason conversationally. ‘But no matter, we’re merely passing through, but before we do come and look at this.’ Mason strode off along one of the lines of cages and Andreas picked Madeline up roughly by the arm and led her to where Mason was standing, his hands on his hips and a devious grin on his face.
‘Madeline my dear, may I present your charming brother.’ Madeline looked in disbelief as Mason indicated the cage he was standing beside and feeling as if she had been punched in the stomach she saw inside the cage, on all fours, Chris. The horror overcame her so quickly and completely that the scream which erupted from her mouth sounded primal, almost feral. Once again Madeline sank to her knees as huge shrieks of anguish were torn from her mouth, the tears streaming down her face. Like all the others, Chris was completely naked and crouched like an animal. His eyes were not those of her zealous but loving brother but of a soulless creature, now devoid of any semblance to what was once Chris Jameson. Only one thing marked him out as different from the rest, he wore about his face some kind of cage-like mask and as Madeline looked at what used to be her brother Mason opened the cage and affixed a lead to Chris’ neck, dragging him out of the cage like some huge wild dog.
‘Stop it stop it stop it!’ screamed Madeline, her throat hoarse and dry. ‘Why him? Why?’
‘Simple,’ smiled Mason. ‘To sweeten the blood. Nothing tastes better than blood that is rife with fear and misery. But I digress, we shall not do this here. Come, I have room specially prepared for us.’ Mason walked off to the other side of the room, dragging Chris behind him, and once again Andreas took Madeline by the arm and forced her to her feet. Her legs didn’t feel like they would work at first but Andreas’ pace and the grip with which he held her arm was enough to make her keep up. In the far left corner of the cage room was another single metal door that Mason opened and took Chris through, closely followed by Madeline and then Andreas, who locked the door behind him. The room they were now in looked like some sort of control room, a computerised panel running almost the length of one wall. Set into the wall above it were several monitors, all showing what looked to be areas of a darkened stone maze. Next to the computer panel was a single metal door and sitting along the opposite wall was a comfortable looking leather sofa, into which Madeline was unceremoniously forced by Andreas.
‘Don’t move,’ he said sternly before moving over to the control panel. He began pressing buttons while Mason secured Chris’ lead in the corner of the room so he could not reach anyone, and then, taking a set of keys out of his pocket, he unlocked the door to the maze.
‘Let’s make this sporting, shall we?’ he said jovially. ‘I’ll give you a minute’s head start, that’s more than fair.’
‘What?’ asked Madeline, trying to make sense of what was going on.
‘Tut tut, you’re wasting precious time.’
‘Move!’ snapped Andreas as he came away from the control panel and pulled her up by the arm for the third time. Madeline walked unsteadily towards the door and felt the cold, clammy air of what was clearly a large space as she stepped into the maze and into darkness. Mason shut the door and locked it and just as the panic was setting in Madeline heard a voice that seemed to come from everywhere.
‘I would get going if I were you,’ said Mason into the microphone that was mounted on the control panel before beginning to undress. He preferred to hunt his victims naked, allowing the beast in him to blossom forth. ‘Watch him,’ he added, as he padded across to the door and motioned to Chris.
In the pitch blackness of the maze Madeline fumbled and groped her way as best she could, all the while her heavy, ragged breathing filling her ears as they strained to listen for any sounds of Mason. Goosebumps began to rise on her skin from the chill of the air and her heart pounded hard and fast inside her chest. As her eyes began to grow accustomed to the darkness she felt she could make out dim shapes of where walls ended and began, and as she continued on her way a cruel chuckle broke the deafening silence.
‘You’re getting warmer,’ said Mason’s disembodied voice, causing the sweat to prickle on Madeline’s brow and the pulse to increase in her ears and temples. She looked all about her in desperation, feeling half-blind for any indication of where Mason was, and as she swung around she felt a gust of wind as something passed her very closely.
‘Hmmm, your fear smells delicious,’ breathed Mason not an inch from her ear. Madeline screamed and ran, hitting walls and tripping over her own feet as she heard Mason’s cruel laughter fill the air. Rounding a blind corner she ran face first into a wall and fell backwards, instantly feeling a steady rush of blood coming from her nose.
‘I smell that,’ said Mason from somewhere off in the distance, but his revelling was cut short by the unmistakable noise of a door slamming shut. ‘Andreas? Is that you? I told you not to disturb me.’ Dabbing at her bloody nose with her sleeve Madeline listened as a new sound filled the maze. It was a strange guttural sound, like breathing but far more animalistic, and as Madeline sat frozen in terror she saw a dark shape rush past the alcove she was huddled within. The strange noise grew into a snarl and Mason could then be heard, far less cocky and arrogant than he had been before.
‘What is he doing out? Andreas? Andreas?!’
‘Andreas is dead,’ echoed Sebastian’s voice throughout the maze. Madeline gave a start at the sound of this familiar and welcome voice, but Mason was far from pleased.
‘Why you insolent little cockroach! I’m going to rid myself of you once and for all!’ Mason’s words had barely faded into echo when the maze was suddenly flooded with light, as Sebastian flicked every switch on the wall mounted panel, Andreas’ decapitated body lying in the middle of the floor. Blinking in the harsh light, Madeline pulled herself up and decided to make a run for the door, but she found what she thought to be the right passage something barrelled out of a side passage and knocked her to the floor.
‘And now we end this!’ hissed Mason, his fangs fully exposed and a look of pure maddening hatred emblazoned across his demonic features. ‘Oh and don’t worry about your dear brother, I killed the pathetic little whelp.’ As Madeline’s eyes widened in terror Mason struck, sinking his fangs deep into her neck and drinking the very life from her. The pain seared through her body as she fought and struggled against the iron-like force of Mason, and as he drank deeper and deeper she began to feel light headed. Then suddenly, Mason’s grip loosened and he tumbled backwards off of her on to his back.
‘No! He said it didn’t exist,’ he croaked painfully as he writhed and twisted on the cold stone. ‘Sebastian you…’
‘For Catherine and Isabelle,’ said Sebastian, appearing round a corner and picking Madeline up and taking her weight on his shoulder. ‘See you in hell!’ Mason tried to go after them as Sebastian half dragged Madeline out of the maze but his legs would not support his weight. He sank to his knees and fell once again on to his back as the compound Sebastian had worked so hard for ate him from the inside.
Stopping briefly to pick Madeline up completely, Sebastian charged through doors and thundered down corridors towards the front door.
‘Do I smell gas?’ slurred Madeline deliriously before she passed out.
‘Yes, you do!’ Crashing through the front door, Sebastian kept going until he was knocked off his feet by the massive explosion that tore through Mason’s house. Madeline was stirred slightly by the noise and the bump to the ground, and the last thing she saw before completely losing consciousness was a ball of fire rising into the night sky.
* * *
‘Maddie? Maddie?’ Madeline became aware of a voice somewhere in the peaceful realm she inhabited and as her mind swam back into focus she realised it belonged to Abby.
‘Hey, she’s awake!’ said Ben, as Madeline gingerly opened her eyes. She winced as she felt pain over most of her body but as her eyes lost their sleep induced gumminess she saw she was surrounded by friends.
‘Abby, Ben, Mike,’ she said, smiling. Her throat felt very dry and when she moved her head she felt a sharp pain in her neck where Mason had…
Madeline tried to sit up but her body protested, causing her to gasp in pain.
‘Take it easy, Maddie,’ said Abby. ‘You’re okay, you’re in the hospital.’
‘How did I get here?’
‘We don’t know, we just got a call from someone saying you were here.’
‘But this was handed in with you,’ said Ben, handing Madeline a letter addressed to her. She tentatively sat up in bed and opened the letter, which read:
We have succeeded! Words cannot describe how thankful
I am to you in helping me bring this monster down, I feel as
If the weight of a thousand souls has been lifted off my shoulders.
I am so sorry about your brother, but his sacrifice was not in vain.
I doubt you will ever see me again, for I am going home, but
thank you once again.
‘Who’s it from?’ asked Ben.
‘Just a friend,’ said Madeline.
‘We called your parents,’ said Abby sadly. ‘They’re on their way.’
‘Thank you.’ Madeline put the letter on the bedside table and fell into a deep sleep.
* * *
It didn’t take long for the news to break, fire fighters were called to the blaze at the home of Professor Jonathan Mason and in the sub-basement floors the charred remains of numerous bodies were found, including what was believed to be Mason himself. Forensic investigations of the house and the bodies pointed strongly to Mason’s involvement, if not direct participation, in the disappearances and subsequent murders of several young Armitage women, and Jonathan Mason was cemented in the public’s eye as a vile sexual predator and vicious murderer. Very few people would know the truth, but that didn’t matter to Sebastian, Mason was dead and he could finally return home to his native London. Sitting in the corner of a cargo plane’s hold, Sebastian smiled to himself at the thought that his task was at last complete. His smile left him as he thought of all the people that had to die before Mason was finally stopped, especially Chris, Madeline’s brother. There was no need whatsoever for him to become involved in this and Sebastian cursed the fact that he had not foreseen Mason’s plans for the unfortunate young man. As the plane continued on its way Sebastian said a silent prayer for Chris, as well as all the others who were now, at last, avenged.
* * *
In the pre-dawn hours of a cold and crisp London morning, a dishevelled figure made his way through the deserted streets to an old churchyard in Mayfair. Opening the rusted and creaking gate, Sebastian easily found the twin graves of his wife and daughter, long neglected throughout the years. Picking the bracken off the discoloured tombstones, Sebastian uttered a prayer for both Catherine and Isabelle before sitting down across their graves.
The sun would be up in an hour or two.
Then it would be truly over.
Then they could be together again.